Monday, January 31, 2011

Weekend wrap-up

My long run on Saturday required a bit of strategic planning because of the ice/snow/slush left from Wednesday's storm.  I know it doesn't compare at all to what runners in a lot of other places have been facing for a while, but it still caused a few problems - and detours.  I had hoped to run along the Mount Vernon trail, but I came upon this and decided 12 miles on an ice sheet would not be the best idea.

I am much happier running when it looks like this:

So I decided to head over Memorial Bridge to run loops around Haines Point instead.  And, really, it can hardly be considered a poor backup plan (and I think most DC runners would agree with me).  As you can see from the picture, the road hadn't been cleared completely, but there was plenty of room to run down the center.  It was also relatively smooth sailing getting there from Memorial Bridge (thanks National Park Service for clearing the sidewalks!).

This is totally blurry, but see the fox in the back?  He ran away before I could get a better shot.

All in all, it ended up being a good run.  I was able to hit my target pace (goal half marathon pace + 30 seconds) despite the fact that miles 2 & 11 were on a sheet of ice, as were a good portion of miles 1 & 12.  Just a little extra strength training for my ankles and a good reminder that I probably should get to know the wobble board that I purchased last year and have barely used.

On Sunday I hit the gym for a fun 10 mile ride on the stationary bike.  My gym has those bikes that allow you to ride on various courses and compare your results to other riders.  It was a real blow to my self esteem to realize that my time halfway through was only a few minutes slower than the total course record...guess I have a long way to go on the bike.  On a more positive note, I think this was the first time that I have ever finished ahead of the pacer!   Yay!  I have no idea how the speed of the pacer is set, but it feels good to see "You are xx seconds ahead of the pacer" instead of my usual "The pacer is xx seconds ahead."

Speaking of bikes, I was planning to drop my "new" bike off for a tune-up on Sunday afternoon, but got a flat tire on the drive there.  So the bike work will have to wait, but at least I learned how to change a flat!  And will finally be getting those new tires for my car that I've been meaning to get for a while...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. I spent last weekend with my college friends and their toddlers.  I have been waiting all week to be slammed by the germs that I know all of them were carrying.  Other than some slight congestion, I seem to be fine.  When do I know if I am out of the woods?  Am I going to wake up on Sunday with a nasty cold?

2. DC finally got snow!  I have been so disappointed by all of the other "storms" this winter than have brought less than a dusting each time.  I just wanted one storm that brought a couple of inches (no need to repeat last winter).  Snow makes me happy. :) 

3. I have been a bit low on motivation this week.  So when I found out yoga was cancelled tonight, today became an unplanned rest day.  I guess I could have gone to the gym and done something else, but I'm already planning to go tomorrow morning and the thought of two gym workouts in less than 12 hours was rather unappealing.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Week 4

I decided to take this week's speed session to the treadmill.  It's not my first choice, but I was running in the morning and, as of late, all of my morning workouts have been at the gym.  If I'm going to run in the dark, I prefer it be at night, at least in the winter.  I feel like I see more people out, though that may not actually be the case.  Plus it's hard to drag myself out of my warm bed when the alarm goes off and it helps to know that I'll be in a climate controlled environment and not dealing with temperatures in the 20s.  An added bonus is that it also means I have to do laundry less frequently - I have a lot more t-shirts and shorts than I do tights and winter tops.

One reason I've been trying to get to the track is that I feel like speedwork on the treadmill is a different experience.  I don't have to get myself to the appropriate pace, the machine sets it for me.  All I have to do is keep my legs moving fast enough to keep from flying off the back.  Of course, at the same time, I can't slow down and speed up within the interval like I can on the track.  So I do get practice running at a consistent hard pace.  When weighing all the pros and cons, it seems like speedwork on the treadmill is slightly easier, but it may just be all in my head... 

Today's workout was 1 mile, 2 miles, and 2x800.  I was a bit intimidated by the prescribed paces and the mental challenge of the longer intervals.  Fortunately, I made it through and, although it was tempting (particularly at about 1.25 of the 2 miler), didn't reduce the speed on the treadmill.  It was certainly hard, but not as hard as I feared it might be.  I'm learning that I might have a bit more speed in me than I thought. 

Week 4 of National Half Marathon training is off to a good start.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1) I've started going to the yoga class at my gym on Thursday nights.  I'm really enjoying it, but it has made realize how little upper body strength I have left - my arms are shaking by the end.  I guess I've really made the transition from swimmer to runner.  This is not good for my tri goals.  Time to attempt to get back in the pool on a semi-regular basis...

2) Speaking of tris, I am hopefully getting a bike (on long-term loan) this weekend!  Now I just need to get over my irrational fear of biking.

3) Because of my weekend schedule, I need to do my long run tomorrow morning before work.  Fortunately, it's only 8 miles, but that's still a lot to get in (at least at my long run pace) and means an extra early alarm.  And now you know the real reason I want to get faster - it will buy me a few extra minutes of sleep! :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Just in time

A friend and I had discussed signing up for the Broad Street Run a while back.  I knew registration opened sometime in mid-January, but I wasn't sure exactly when.  Fortunately, I randomly checked the website yesterday and saw that there were only 8,000 (of 30,000) spots left.  So today at lunch I got my act together, signed up, and got this:

Good thing I did, because by mid-afternoon, there was this:

Is it just me or have you noticed that more and more races are selling out really quickly? 

Friday, January 14, 2011

A few of my favorite things

Because it's Friday, here are some things I like:


The beach 

Running when it's snowing
(it's never quite as fun navigating uncleared areas afterwards) 

Old books

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Track time!

Last year's National Half Marathon was my first half.  I did things a little backwards, running my first marathon before my first half marathon.  So when it came to training for that race, I did what I had done for the marathon, two relatively short weekday runs and a long run on the weekends.  Then three weeks before the race I went to Spain for two weeks.  And came back with a horrible cold.  Needless to say, I wasn't so sure about how the race would go.  My original goal had been to average under 10 minute miles, but given my health, I decided anything faster than the first half split of my marathon (2:25) would be acceptable.  Despite wildly inconsistent splits and feeling awful from about mile seven on, I was able to finish in 2:09, and was very happy.

This year, I'm hoping that with a stronger training plan and no two week vacation, I can significantly improve on that time.  For me, 2010 was all about quantity.  I worked my way up to running five times a week and almost doubled my mileage from 2009.  In 2011, I'm hoping to maintain the miles, but starting adding some speed.  There will be a lot more quality runs this year!

With that in mind, I headed to the track last night for my first speed session of this training cycle.  I had 800s on the schedule and had no idea how it was going to go.  I think it may have been my first time on a track in at least ten years!  

speedy shoes

I was excited to test out my (relatively) new Kinvaras after a few test runs on the treadmill and also finally use my Garmin for more than timing my run.  You can program in workouts - who knew? :)  I had a slight hiccup after the first 800 when my 1:30 rest interval wouldn't end.  Since I couldn't figure out was going on, I changed the rest to 400m.  As I was running the workout, I realized that I had probably programmed in an hour and thirty minutes of rest instead of a minute and thirty seconds.  Oops!  I saw 00:00:00 and assumed it was minutes, seconds, tenths of seconds.  It made total sense at the time, but thinking about it now I can see that if I wear the watch to time a marathon, it needs to track hours (and, really, who times their rest down to the tenth of a second?).  Maybe my brain was just frozen when I was setting it up - it was pretty cold out there last night!

6x800 later and I was done.  I even managed to be consistent, which is definitely not my strength.  I tend to be a "start too fast and then die" type of runner.  All in all, a pretty good experience.  That's probably a good thing, since I have to go back next week!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The First Post

After hiding behind the curtain of anonymity offered by the Internet, reading blogs without commenting (perhaps for longer than is truly socially acceptable), it seems time to take that next step and reveal myself.

I hope this blog will give me the chance to share my running journey, which truly is a work in progress.  Despite participating in a wide range of sports since an early age (including track), I hadn't considered myself a runner until very recently.  I was a swimmer through high school and college (D-III), but after graduation I switched to running the occasional 5k or 10k.  There was even a 10 miler, which, at the time, seemed like a really long way to run.  But my training was sporadic and inconsistent and I can't say I remember enjoying it - there were even runs I ended feeling worse than when I started.  It was not until 2009, when I decided I was going to run a marathon (to cross it off the "bucket" list) and finally got on a regular running schedule, that I found myself looking forward to going for a run.  By the time I crossed the finish line at the 2009 Marines Corps Marathon, I was hooked.

I have no idea what the future holds, but I can only hope that I will continue to see progress as a runner and a person.  This blog is another step along the way.