Friday, April 29, 2011

Broad Street Run Goals

On Sunday I'll be running the Broad Street Run in Philadelphia, along with 29,999 of my closest friends.  I'm pretty excited about it.  I've heard it's a great atmosphere and the course looks fast (net downhill, flat or downhill the majority of the way).  Plus it stays on the same street the whole time, so I don't have to worry about my poor tangent running skills.

I like the way this looks

I haven't really trained specifically for this race, but I'm hoping that I've done enough over the last five weeks to maintain the fitness and speed I established during National Half Marathon training.

The last time I ran a 10 miler was over a year ago, so I'm looking to smash my current PR.  This will be my first time setting ABC goals, so hopefully this is something that works for me!

A: Sub 1:30.  I think this is totally achievable.  I had an official average pace of 9:05 for the National half marathon and didn't hit a rough patch until miles 11&12.  According to my Garmin (which had extra distance), my average pace for the race was 8:58. 

B: A new PR (sub 1:34).

C: Have fun at the largest 10 miler in the country!  I'm hoping I won't have to resort to this goal, but if things aren't going my way early in the race, I'm going to make sure that I still enjoy myself!

With my A goal in mind, my plan is to start right around 9:00 miles and try to lower the pace from there.  I've heard from friends who have run Broad Street before that it is extremely crowded at the beginning.  So I'm not going to worry too much about my pace in the first mile or two and hopefully by the time things clear up a little bit, I'll be warmed up and ready to drop the pace.  I've also decided I'm going to carry my hand-held so that I can avoid the majority of the water stops.  Usually that's enough water for me for 10 miles and at least if I run out, it will be close to the end when (hopefully) the water stops are a bit less crowded.

Good luck to everyone else racing this weekend!  It seems like there are a lot of you!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Crystal City 5k recap

I wanted to run at least one of the Crystal City 5k races and it turned out that last Friday was really the only week I could make it there.  I tried to recruit various people to join me (friends, coworkers, family) but they all ended up being unable to make it.  I saw that the weather forecast was for rain, so I was a bit hesitant to commit myself to running.  I decided I would just bring all of my running stuff to work with me and make the call at some point in the afternoon.  Of course, once I brought everything with me, I decided I wanted to run regardless of the weather, so I signed up in the morning and hoped for the best.

At one point in time, was showing rain at 5pm, no rain at 6pm and rain again at 7pm.  Unfortunately, that did not turn out to be the case.  It was pretty much raining from the time I left work at 5:30 until I got home after the race.

I was pretty sure that a PR was within reach.  My PR was from the beginning of January, but I've really seen my times (and average paces) drop since then.   In fact, both my four mile and 10k PRs from February and March had an average pace faster than my 5k PR.  I also knew the course was flat, which never hurts.  The only thing I wasn't totally sure about was my legs.  I feel fully recovered from the National Half Marathon, but I haven't done any speedwork at the track and have only managed two tempo runs (one of which I had to cut short).  I figured I'd just go for it and see what happened.

I managed an extremely brief warmup and came up to the start area after most people were already gathered.  I made the mistake of positioning myself towards the middle of the pack.  I figured I should probably try to move closer to the front, but didn't want to push through people.  As a result, I spent the majority of the first mile weaving around people and trying to squeeze through small gaps.

I think that my Garmin got thrown off by the tall buildings because it was consistently telling me during the first mile that I was running at below a 6:30 pace.  As much as I'd like to think I've really improved, that is a bit extreme!  It also beeped about a tenth before the first mile marker, showing I'd run the first mile in 6:50.  This is a bit suspicious since my mile PR is 6:59 and all of the extra distance I picked up in the race (.11) was in the first mile.  I did do a fair amount of weaving, but I think my Garmin was just confused.  When I actually passed by the mile 1 marker, my watch read 7:20.  That seems much more realistic.

Even a 7:20 was probably still a bit too fast for me to start a 5k.  Going into the race, I'd been hoping for anything under 8.  My pace dropped off, but then stayed consistent for miles 2 and 3, with a 7:39 and 7:40.  The course had opened up at this point, so I just focused on holding my pace and keeping up with the runners around me.  Once I came to the final stretch, I tried to kick it to the finish and not get passed by too many people (there were at least two or three that went flying by me).  According to my Garmin I ran the last .1 (actually .21 on the watch) at a 6:59 pace.

Final time was 23:34, a PR by over two minutes!

I'm still processing what this means.  I just ran a 5k with an average pace of 7:35!  At this time last year, I never would have imagined that I could have run a 5k with an average pace below 8:30, let alone below 8:00!  Had you told me I would run this time (or any of the times I have run recently), I probably would have laughed at you.

Somehow, I managed to start this blog right at a time when I started seeing drastic improvement, so perhaps how shocking all of this is for me isn't totally apparent.  Obviously, I am thrilled, but I'm not really sure where this speed has come from or what exactly it is that has helped me breakthrough to the next level.  Hopefully I can figure it out, because I'd love to keep this up.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Week in Review - 4/17-4/23

This ended up looking like a pretty big week for me mileage-wise, but that's only because I bumped my long run for the week before to Sunday because of all the rain on Saturday.  So in my head, I'm not violating the 10% increase rule because Sunday's miles go with the week before.

Sunday - April 17
Run 12.0 mi
This was my longest long run in my mini training cycle for the Broad Street Run.  I felt good and was able to hit the pace I wanted without feeling like I was working too hard.

Rock Creek Park 

First attempt at a running self-portrait

Monday - April 18
Elliptical 40 min.
Normally I run on Mondays, but with my long run the day before, I decided to recover on the elliptical.

Tuesday - April 19
Run 5.25 mi
Although I hadn't registered for the Friday 5k at this point, I had it on my radar and decided that would be my hard run for the week.  So both Tuesday and Wednesday's runs were at an even, consistent pace.  Not recovery runs, but not too hard either.

Wednesday - April 20
Run 5.35 mi
Thursday - April 21
Swim 2600 yds
I decided to mix things up and attempted Beth's IM pyramid.  Because I hadn't done any IM in a really long time, I cut out the two longest repeats (a 250 free and 200 IM).   I figured there was no harm in easing back into butterfly.  Still, that 150 of butterfly during the set really got to me and my arms were pretty tired by the end!  It definitely made the distance pass by quickly, so I'm sure I'll be doing it again.

Friday - April 22
Run 3.6 mi (Crystal City 5k, plus a brief warmup)
I hadn't announced on the blog that I would be doing this race, but I knew that I wanted to get to Crystal City for at least on the of the Friday 5ks.  This ended up being the day that worked best with my schedule, so despite the weather I headed over after work.  It ended up being a good decision since I got a new PR!  A full race report is coming.
Saturday - April 23
Run 8.0 mi
I wasn't sure how my legs were going to feel after my hard effort on Friday night.  They were definitely more tired than normal so I took it easy on my last long run before Broad Street next Sunday!  It was overcast the whole time I was out, but fortunately the rain stayed away.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Three Things Thursday - Bike, swim, tweet

1. Thank you for all of your comments on my biking post!  It's good to know that I'm not the only one completely overwhelmed by all things bike-related.  I would love to take all of you up on your offers to ride with me.  I promise not to ask too many questions!

2. During my swim last week I started thinking that it might be fun to sign up for an open water swim this summer.  I did a couple a few years ago when I was on a Masters team and I think that having a one or two mile race on the horizon would definitely motivate me to keep swimming.  I figured that the Jim McDonnell lake swim in Reston would fit well with my schedule and is probably the closet open water swim I'm going to find.  I was all set to sign up, until I got to the website and saw the cost.  I knew I would need to buy a one-day USMS registration since I am no longer a member and guessed it would be $10, like the US triathlon one day fee.   I was surprised to see that it is $20.  That's in addition to the $55 registration fee.  I just don't think I can spend $75 for a one mile race.  I also noticed the anticipated water temperature is 66-72 degrees.  I don't own a wetsuit, so I would have to rent one (more $$) or attempt to tough it out.  Neither scenario is great.  I'm going to search around for some other options, but it looks like I may not be entering any open water races this summer.

3. I may be more than fashionably late, but I have finally arrived at the Twitter party. Follow me @raineydayrun

I will attempt to follow you all, once I figure out what I'm doing. :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

You know you're a runner when...

Sometimes all you get in the mail is race announcements

What I found in my mailbox on Monday

Monday, April 18, 2011

Week in Review - 4/10-4/16

Sunday - April 10
Bike 17.2 mi; Run 3.1 mi
As I mentioned in my biking post, my knee felt pretty good on this ride (it just was still sore/painful afterwards).  I decided I would attempt my first brick workout and added a short run at the end.  My legs felt strange (as is to be expected), but it ended up being really fast.  I guess I just assumed that I must be going slowly so I pushed the pace more than I realized?  Once my legs loosened up and felt "normal," I actually slowed down.  Strange.

Monday - April 11
Run 4.1 mi

Tuesday - April 12
Elliptical - 45 min

Wednesday - April 13
Run 8 mi with 3 miles tempo
This was a run home from work and my plan was to warm up for 2 miles, run 3 miles at my 10 mile goal race pace and then cool down for approximately two miles. I figured anywhere in the 6.5-7 mile range would be good.  I didn't really estimate my route very well and ended up with eight miles.  Fortunately, it was a beautiful night to be out and I didn't really mind.  I felt better pushing the pace in the tempo portion than I had in the week before, though it was pretty windy going around Hains Point and I didn't quite hit the times I wanted.

Thursday - April 14
Swim 2500 yds
This was nothing exciting, but I was glad I made it to the pool.  I really want to be swimming once a week.

Friday - April 15
Run 3.05 mi
This was an easy recovery run and I got to watch the sun come up over the monuments.  Not a bad way to end the work week.

Saturday - April 16
I knew Sunday would be beautiful and it was pouring all day on Saturday.  I debated going to the gym or the pool for some cross-training, but then I realized I hadn't taken a day off all week.  Plus, with the way the weather was, I had no interest in leaving my couch.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Favorite

This view never gets old.

Wednesday afternoon 

This morning

And it's much better in person.  The camera in my phone doesn't do it justice.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My bike and I (1.5)

While I was out on my bike on Sunday, I thought about how it would be interesting to periodically document my feelings as a newbie cyclist and see how they change over time.  I can kind of remember how I felt in my early days of running, but I would love to have it all written down.  I'm sure it would be quite funny to read.

"My bike and I (1)" should have been written back in February before my first time on my road bike.  I didn't write anything down at that time, but I can tell you that would have gone something like this:

Fortunately I have survived those first few rides and no longer feel completely uncomfortable on my bike.  I am now reasonably confident that I can stop and dismount without wiping out.  The first one or two times out I stopped pedaling well in advance of stop signs and rolled slowly to a stop.  I wasn't sure I could reach the brakes in time to stop if I was going at "full" speed.  I also used the bottoms of the pedals for a while, instead of the toe clips, because I couldn't really get in and out of them.   I stayed on Hains Point for a while (flat, wide road, safe), but have finally ventured out out onto the Mt. Vernon trail.

I am still completely clueless when it comes to gears.  Yes, I understand the general concept/principles, but I still don't know what I am doing when I am actually faced with hills/flats.  I think it's something about the combination of two sets of gears.  If there was just one set I'd be fine, but it's figuring out the combinations that has me totally confused.

I am slow.  I don't have a fancy bike computer or anything like that, but I've been using the bike mode of my Garmin and it doesn't lie.  If I get about 10mph it is miracle.   Other cyclists fly past me and I pass no one.  Only some of them are on road bikes.  I want to yell at them as they go by, "Help, I have no idea what I am doing.  Do you have any tips?  Am I in the wrong gear? I like your fancy clothes!"  Actually the passing no one is not totally true.  The other week I passed a guy who was riding his bike and walking his dog at the same time.  Had the dog not stopped for a potty break, they probably would have stayed ahead of me.

The fact that I am slow doesn't bother me, but I do get frustrated with the fact that I am sure that with some technique changes I could be going faster.  I KNOW that I am not riding effectively or efficiently.  At the end of riding I do not feel like I have really gotten a good aerobic workout, elevated my heart rate, or really broken a sweat.   This is pretty much how I felt when I started running.  I was in good shape from swimming, but running was a whole different experience.  I would have to stop for a walk break after 15 minutes.  I felt like my legs couldn't keep up with my expectations.  I often felt worse (at least mentally) when I finished.  So I'm trying to remember that as I start on this journey with my bike.

I also know that it took a long time for me to consider myself a runner.  I ran inconsistently for years and never really enjoyed it all that much.  I only ran because I had signed up for a race and wanted to be able to finish.  It was only after I signed up for a marathon and trained on a regular basis for almost six months that I actually started looking forward to going running.  So if I'm honest with myself, it will probably take a similar effort to feel the same way about biking.  We'll see...

looking uncomfortable, post-ride on Sunday

Knee update: During my ride on Sunday I hardly noticed my knee at all.  There were one or two twinges on the biggest hills, but I couldn't tell if there was really any pain or if I was just making it up by constantly checking in with my knee to see how it was doing.  Needless to say, I was quite excited at the end of the ride and sure that my seat adjustments had done the trick!  Unfortunately, later in the afternoon I had pain in my knee.  It only hurt when it was completely bent (calf touching hamstring) or almost to that point.  It was pretty similar to my post-ride pain last week.  The pain is gone now (Thursday), but the slightly "off" feeling lingered around for a while.  I'm hoping that maybe it was still recovering from the week before and not a sign that I am destined to abandon cycling before I even really get started.

After some thinking, I've come to the following conclusions:
      - I think I have probably overestimated the amount of time I can cycle and may have pushed it a bit too much.   An hour to an hour and a half seems perfectly reasonable for a workout, but I have to remember that I'm new on the bike.  Just because I CAN work out for that long doesn't mean that I should.  So I'm cutting back the time on the bike for the near future (at least at one time).  I think I need to increase my frequency and stick to shorter distances.

      - I'm heading back to Hains Point and going into a lower gear.  I think I had the resistance too high and need to get my legs spinning faster.

     - I'm putting the triathlon decision on hold until I can be sure that my knee can handle the biking.  I'm not willing to compromise my running for a sprint triathlon.   I was hoping to sign up for two tris this summer (one in June and one in July), but that may be too ambitious.  Maybe I will just do one in July or none at all.

     - I may not ride this weekend.  I'll see how my schedule ends up shaking out, but it may be for the best to give my knee a little break.  In some ways I feel like I am overreacting, but I also know that there is no need to rush things.  I have no race on the calendar so I can afford to be slow about this whole process.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Week in Review - 4/3-4/9

Sunday - April 3
Bike 15.5 mi
This was my first time back on the bike in a while.  In the last few weeks before the National Half Marathon I didn't manage to fit it in and only biked once in the entire month of March.  Sunday morning was beautiful so I drove just south of Old Town, parked in one of the lots along the GW Parkway and biked down to Mount Vernon and back.

Unfortunately I had a fair amount of pain on the outside of my left knee, particularly when going uphill.  It didn't really become an issue until I was close to Mount Vernon, so I really had no option for cutting the ride short.

I had to go back to my local bike shop to get all of my cables tightened (they all were installed when I had it tuned up in February), so I asked the guy who helped me to check the fit.  Although I had the same thing done when I picked it up after the tune-up, he said the seat was too high and too far back.  So he adjusted it for me.  I'm hopeful that this will resolve the issues, but I guess I will have to wait and see!

Monday - April 4
Run 4.1 mi
This was an early morning run.  Nothing exciting, but I was happy to find out that my knee pain from biking the day before was not present when I was running.
Tuesday - April 5
Run 5.3 mi
I was inspired by the nice weather and decided to run home from work (with a slight detour to see the cherry blossoms).  I don't do a lot of afternoon/evening running and I had forgotten how my legs often seem to have a little extra energy later in the day. 

Wednesday - April 6
Stationary bike 10.1 mi
This was pretty boring.  I wanted to get some more biking in, but I also wanted to work out in the morning and it's too dark right now to actually take my bike out.  Fortunately this didn't seem to bother my left knee, so I'm still hopeful that the pain was a bike-related issue and not a biking form or inherent knee/muscle issue.

Thursday - April 7
Run 5.26 mi
Originally I was going to run on Thursday morning.  Then I decided maybe it was better to take a rest day, go to yoga Thursday night and run Friday morning.  But after a quick look at Friday's forecast (rain) and great weather when I left work, I decided I should run Thursday evening.  My workout plans are all over the place when I go without a schedule!  This is also one of the few times of year when I actually enjoy running in the early evening.  So I figured I might as well take advantage of it before the temperatures and humidity skyrocket.  I threw in two tempo miles and decided that was enough for this week.  I'd been planning on three, but the drop off between miles 1 and 2 convinced me that my legs weren't ready to push the pace for a third.

Friday - April 8
Saturday - April 9
Run 10.0 mi

Some friends invited me to join them for breakfast in Old Town on Saturday morning.  At first I thought about running later in the day, or pushing my long run to Sunday, but then I realized I could just run there and Metro home!  I love it when my running has an extra purpose.  After doing a quick check of the distance, I realized it would be right in the 9-10 mile range, which was exactly what I had planned, so I didn't even have to figure out how to tack on some extra miles.  Win!

I thought I had run all the way to Old Town on the Mt. Vernon trail before, but I guess I haven't since I don't remember ever seeing this mural!

Hi George!


 Final destination

I felt good on the run and then promptly enjoyed a (large) tasty breakfast.  Definitely an excellent way to start a Saturday!

Friday, April 8, 2011

A shoe story

Remember when I ranted about how much I disliked the Asics 2150?  And, how I had to go on a quest for my new "perfect" shoe?  I'm not Goldi-Dash, but I have always thought of myself as the Princess and the Pea of running shoes.


What does this mean exactly?  I feel every imperfection in shoes (real or imagined).  Often one foot feels fine, but I notice some bump or ridge on the other one.  This makes the process of finding a shoe more frustrating than it should be.

I finally found the New Balance 760 last fall and have been happily running in it since.  When I found out it was being discontinued last December, I panicked and had fears of the new model not working for me.  The only good thing about the move to the new model was that the 760 went on super sale.  In addition to the pair I am currently wearing, I have two brand new pairs sitting in my closet.

So what's the problem?  Well, I find myself preferring to run in the Asics 2150 recently!  Despite my dislike of the shoe, I'm too cheap to simply stop wearing a perfectly good shoe with less than 200 miles on it (especially when there's no injury risk and it's just a "feel" preference).  I typically rotate between two pairs of shoes, so I kept the Asics in the rotation and just used them for shorter weekday runs.  My plan had been to discard them once they reached the end of their running life (somewhere in the 400-500 mile range) and never look back.

I realized last night (while running in the 760s) that I've been choosing the 2150s more and more frequently and wished that I was wearing them for that run.  The 760 was feeling a little softer than I would have preferred.  I even used the 2150s for last week's long run!  Who am I?

I'm not sure if my legs/feet are craving a stiffer shoe because my weekly mileage is lower or if this is some type of "permanent" change.  I have a feeling that once I get back to the LONG runs of marathon training in the late summer and fall, my feet will prefer the slightly softer feel of the 760s.  Though I certainly don't know for sure. The other big question is, do I only like the 2150s because they are significantly broken in (over 300 miles)?  Should I buy a pair of 2160s and pay someone else to run around in them for a few months before I start wearing them? 

I still have a month or two left on the 2150s until they need to be replaced.  So I'll wait until that time to make a decision about whether or not to buy a pair the 2160s.  Regardless of what happens, those 760s will still be used, maybe just not as quickly.  :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

With more daylight and warmer temperatures, it was time to bring back the running commute.  Here are some highlights of my trip home yesterday, which included a slight detour to run past the cherry blossoms.

Warm enough for shorts!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Week in Review - 3/27-4/2

I've decided I'm going to try posting a weekly training summary.  I enjoy reading everyone else's and I think it will be useful for me to be able to look back on later.  Plus, I'm going to be operating without a training pan for a while, so I'm hoping this will help hold me accountable and keep me from taking that extra rest day that I don't really need.

Sunday - March 27
I considered some type of easy, recovery workout to help my legs after Saturday's National Half Marathon, but my desire to recover from Saturday's bachelorette festivities by lying on the couch and watching the NCAA tournament games won out.  Sadly, my Tarheels lost.

Monday - March 28
Elliptical - 40 min.
I wanted to give my legs a few days off from running, so I opted for a relatively easy workout on the elliptical.

Tuesday - March 29
I was planning another easy x-training day, but when my alarm went off I decided that I needed more sleep and didn't get up.  Since I already had plans in the evening, this turned into another rest day.

Wednesday - March 30
Elliptical - 45 min.
My quads were still pretty sore on Wednesday morning so I opted for another x-training workout on the elliptical.
Thursday - March 31
Run - 3.5 miles (treadmill)
I had originally thought about taking the whole week off from running, but then I realized on Monday that I was at just over 87 miles for the month.  I knew there was no way I was making it to 100, but I figured I should at least get to 90.  Of course, I waited as long as possible to get these miles in.

Friday - April 1
Swim - 2500 yds
I decided to start April off on the right foot by getting back in the pool.  This was my longest swimming workout in a while, but it felt pretty good.  I also purchased a 20 swim pass so that will stay on the right track.  I have more incentive to go when I know that I have already paid for it.  Plus, I was getting a bit tired of paying (what I think is) the rather high single admission fee.

Saturday - April 2
Run - 8.4 mi
With a 10 mile race on the horizon (May 1), I need to keep up the base I built training for the National Half.  Since I'd only run once all week I didn't want to overdo it on Saturday.  I was planning on 7ish miles, but ended up with 8.4.  It was a great morning for a run and my legs felt better than I expected.  I was also excited to see lots of signs of spring after the recent cold spell!

As close as I will probably get to the cherry blossoms!

Daffodils, one of my favorite flowers!

After my run I spent Saturday afternoon enjoying another sign that spring is here - a Nationals game!

Friday, April 1, 2011

March Recap

Miles: 90.67

X-Training: 10 (Bike -1, Swim -1, Yoga -1, Elliptical - 7)

Rest Days: 7

Race(s): Four Courts Four Miler - 32:24 and the National Half Marathon - 1:59:03.  Two new PRs!  I'd never actually run a four mile race before, but I'll take a PR anyway I can get it!

New gear: Lime green CEP compression socks.  I'd been thinking about getting these for a while and a St. Patrick's Day race was the perfect excuse!

Workout goals: Yoga once a week - How about once all month?  FAIL
                           Biking and swimming at least 3 times (each) - I didn't do much better here.  I managed to swim and bike only once each.  FAIL
                           Strong race at the National Half Marathon - Success!
                           Register for a a triathlon - I have yet to register for a race. FAIL
Non-workout goal: Clean up the clutter in my apartment.  I didn't manage to work on this at all. I'm not sure what happened but I didn't tackle any clutter in March.  FAIL

Ice cream flavor of the month: Edy's Samoa

I didn't manage to meet many of my goals this month, but at least I managed to achieve the biggest one, a strong race at the National Half Marathon!  I am quite happy with my 10 minute PR and new sub-2 hour time.  My triathlon prep fell to the side, but given my travel early in the month and my goal race at the end of the month, I'm not totally surprised.  My running miles were also down a bit from last month, but I think that's to be expected with a taper and my post-race "rest" week this past week.

April Preview

Workout goals: I didn't meet many of my goals in March, so I'm sticking with the same ones for April.  It's time to get serious about triathlon training and also register for a race so that my training has a purpose!
                           Yoga once a week
                           Biking and swimming at least 3 times (each)
                           Register for a a triathlon.
                           Keep up a good running base while training without a specific plan
Races: I don't have any on the schedule for April, but I do have the Broad Street Run on May 1.

Non-workout goal: I STILL need to clean up the clutter in my apartment.  Month 3, here I come.  Will this be the goal all year? ;-)