Friday, August 31, 2012

August Recap

Miles: 177.48 (+ ~6 miles in the pool)

X-Training: 9 (4 swims, 5 yoga classes)

Rest Days: 5

Race(s): PVTC track meet - 1 mile: 6:24.96, Hood to Coast Relay: 24:27:16

Workout goals:
Run a lot, but be smart about it - I got in a lot of miles and I feel ready to run even more in September. I'll call this a win.

Keep swimming - With the exception of the week of Hood to Coast, I managed to get to the pool once a week. I'll count this as a win. I really do like swimming as a cross training option that gives my legs a break, so hopefully I can continue this pattern in September.

All the little things - I did a decent job here. I was really consistent with my stretches and exercises at the beginning of the month, but dropped off a bit towards the end as I crammed in yoga classes and traveled for Hood to Coast. Still, I got to the end of the month feeling good so it's a semi-win. I just need to get back on track in September.

I'm very happy with the way that the first month of marathon training went. I believe that this is actually my highest monthly mileage ever (by a handful of miles) and I feel great. Sure there are occasional aches and pains, but my legs feel strong and I am looking forward to beating that total in September. I got myself back into that marathon training mentality and schedule and feel like I am prepared for the fact that every single run of the week will be getting longer. I did my first Wednesday double the last week of the month and will, hopefully, keep this going through the training cycle. I re-read Racing Weight in August and as a result I've also been trying to tweak my diet a bit this month. Not with any weight related goal, but to make it generally healthier and better suited to fuel my training. My main focus so far has been on eating more "real food" snacks and fewer pre-packaged ones. So far so good, although it does require me to bring a lot more food with me to work each day. A rolling cooler is starting to sound like a wise investment.

September Preview

Workout goals:
Keep going to yoga - I wasn't including it in my weekly recaps, but I was averaging one yoga class a week as I tried to use up a Groupon that expired on August 31. I prefer a slower hatha style yoga class and I think that all of the stretching was good for my legs. I'm hoping that I can manage to check out some other studios or get back to the basic class at my gym.

Focus on progression in long runs - I mentioned in one of my weekly Richmond training recaps that I am having a bit of a hard time with the last third of my long runs. I'm not slowing down, but also am not really picking up the pace either. My goal for September is not to stress out about this, but to be aware and push myself just a little bit harder at the end of long runs. I think I back off a bit, not because I am tired, but because my brain is afraid of getting to that point.

Smart recovery - Once again, I know I need to focus on the little things like stretching, core work and foam rolling. This will be particularly important in September as I race the Philly Half and run the first 20 miler of this training cycle. I know that I want to run more miles in a month than I ever have before, so I need to be smart about this and ease back if necessary. There's no point in getting all of those extra miles in if they leave me broken.

Races: Rock n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon - September 16 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Richmond Marathon Training - Week 3

Monday August 20
Run 7.65 mi
I had to take my parents to the airport at 5:00am, so I started this run a bit earlier than I normally would on a weekday. Fortunately this gave me a chance to confirm that my headlamp was still working prior to Hood to Coast.

Tuesday August 21
Run 9.1 mi
1600 (7:06), 800 (3:27), 1600 (7:08), 800 (3:26)
This was a much better track session than the week before. I probably ran the first mile a bit too fast, but some people in my regular group pushed the pace and I got dragged along. Fortunately I don't think it hurt me during the rest of the intervals, but normally I like to try to get faster as I go along. I was considering completing the optional third set, but was told to go ahead and stop after two. I was not going to argue with that. Better to save my legs for the weekend!

Wednesday August 22
Run 8.5 mi
I couldn't make it to the evening CAR fun run, so I got in all my miles for the day during my morning run commute. I had time to go all the way around Hains Point, which is one of my favorite routes. I know a lot of people find it boring, but I enjoy the long out and back.

Thursday August 23
Pool run - 60 min
I debated doing a short run, but decided that an hour in the pool would be a better way to make sure my legs were loose and ready for the big weekend ahead.

Friday August 24
Hood to Coast - Leg 1 (4.55 mi) and Leg 2 (5.75 mi)
Our team started at 8:45am and I ran my first leg in the early afternoon. The second leg was by far my hardest and involved running up a mountain on a gravel road in the dark. Almost 1000 ft of elevation gain in less than 5 miles. Fun.

Saturday August 25
Hood to Coast - Leg 3 (4.1 mi)
I started my last leg a little before 6:00 am and got to run through the countryside as the sun came up. Our team finished in a time of 24:27:16, 61st overall out of 1070 teams. I can't say enough about how much fun it was and will try to get a race report up sometime soon.

Sunday August 26
A LONG day of travel back to DC.

Week 3 - 39.65 mi
A bit of a cutback week mileage-wise, but the main focus was Hood to Coast. I was happy with how I felt heading into the race and think that I ran three strong legs. I don't think it could have gone much better. This week will be focused on recovery and making sure that I'm ready to jump right back into full marathon training in Week 5.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Richmond Marathon Training - Week 2

Monday August 13
Run 6.1 mi
I was definitely still feeling the mile I ran the day before in my legs and kept this run commute nice and slow.

Tuesday August 14
Run 10.0 mi
3x1600 (7:21, 7:23, 7:34) and 2x800 (3:36, 3:36)
I felt okay on my run over to the track, but once the workout got started I could tell that it was not going to be a great day. The times aren't horrible, but I just felt so sluggish and was consistently finishing well behind my normal group. It was definitely frustrating, but I tried to keep reminding myself that just finishing the intervals was the important thing, not the time. I blame the hard effort I put out in the mile for the off day (or at least the total fatigue from the week before that was capped off by the mile race).

Wednesday August 15
Run 5.15 mi
One of my plans for this training cycle is to make Wednesday a double run day. I was going to start this week, but I decided that the combination of a poor workout on Tuesday and feeling sore when I woke up meant that I should probably wait another week. So instead of a short run in the morning, I spend about 40 minutes stretching, foam rolling and doing some glute exercises. I still felt relatively sore and tired at the evening CAR fun run, further confirming that a morning off was the right call. There's no need to keep digging myself deeper into a pit of fatigue.
Thursday August 16

Friday August 17
Run 8.4 mi
4 mile tempo - 29:52
I felt much better when I woke up on Friday and was optimistic by the end of my warm up that the workout would go well. I had a nice small group to run with and even when we splintered at the end, everyone was still paired off. It was nice to have someone to run with the whole time and I think it really helped me run negative splits. This is only a few seconds off the fastest four mile tempo I have run, so I was very happy with it. I was also relieved that Tuesday's workout appeared to be just a minor blip and that I taken the right steps to get myself back on track.

Saturday August 18
Run 16 mi (avg page - 8:38)
Saturday morning was cooler than it has been recently and it was so nice to get out and run in such beautiful weather. This was the first time I've run this far since last fall, so I was very happy with how good I felt for most of the run. It was a bit rough at the end, but I got it done. I know I need to start concentrating more on the progression aspect of the run. I feel comfortable starting out, and dropping the pace for the middle third, but I am not finding it easy to drop it again for the final third. Our pack definitely broke apart in the last third when some people were really able to drop the pace. I think the main reason this is a struggle for me right now is that I am running my long runs significantly faster than I was last fall and my body (and legs) are still adjusting to that change. It's not something that concerns me, just something I'm aware of and want to work on over this training cycle.

Sunday August 19
Swim 4650 yds
This was supposed to be a 5k workout, but I bailed a bit early when my shoulders rebelled against all of the pulling Katie's coach requested. Since I'm not training for any swim races in the near future, I had no qualms about stopping before the end of the set. No need to totally kill my shoulders for no reason. It was good to get over the 3000 yd plateau where I've been stuck recently. I definitely would not have made it as far alone!

Week 2 - 45.65 mi
Week 2 got off to a rough start, but I'm really happy with how I made adjustments and was able to finish it off with two quality workouts. Week 3 will be far from normal as I head out to the west coast for Hood to Coast in the second half of the week!

Friday, August 17, 2012

PVTC meet - 1 mile race report

Pretty much as soon as I finished racing the mile for the first time during the DCRRC track championships, I knew that I wanted to do it again. I was sure that I could improve on my performance, mainly because I felt that I had started that race too fast. I was finally going to be in town for one of the Potomac Valley Track Club (PVTC) outdoor meets, so I blocked off August 12 on the calendar.

In the interim period between my extreme mile racing high on July 25 and last Sunday, my enthusiasm waned. I always knew that the race fell at the end of my first week of marathon training, but I didn't really think of the implications of this initially. When I realized that I would have to cut my long run short, I was hesitant, but decided I should still commit to the race.

I then proceeded to do a number of things the week before the race that might not be considered ideal for a PR performance. Normally I prefer to take the day off before a race or head to the pool for some pool running. I ran 10 miles on Saturday instead because I didn't want to skip my long run the first week of marathon training. And while it wasn't the normal progression long run, it also wasn't done at a super easy pace. For some reason I never considered doing my long run after the mile. Sunday is typically a non-running, cross training day for me, and usually it is a swim day. Somehow I failed to really consider the implications of the race being on Sunday and it became my sixth day of running for the week. While many people run six or seven days without a problem, I am consistently a five day a week runner. And, not only was it an abnormal sixth day of running, it was also my fourth hard workout of the week since I had already completed a track workout, tempo, and long run. Perfect planning on my part, right?

I felt pretty good when I got to the track on Sunday morning and did a nice easy two miles around the neighborhood with Jess and Cris. We then stood around chatting for a bit with other CAR teammates and watched the conclusion of the 3k race walk. I then attempted to do a bit of stretching, some drills, and a little more jogging around the track, with one stride thrown in for good measure. Probably could stand to improve the warm up routine.

There were enough people to split the race into a couple of heats, with the divisions coming at 5:30 and 6:30. We watched our CAR teammates run well in the first (fast) heat and then Jess and I lined up to go. My main goal for this race was to start slower than the previous race. In that case I was just under 3:00 at halfway and ran the second half in 3:14-15. I was hoping that a slightly slower start would allow me to have that kick in the last lap that I most definitely lacked the first time around. I had 1:35 in mind for the first 400 and then something around that for the second 400 as well.

I felt okay, not great, in the first 400, and was happy to see 1:33 on the clock at 400. About five seconds slower than the first race and right where I wanted to be. I already felt a little tired, but told myself that all I needed to do for the second lap was maintain the pace. I had been running right behind Jess and I believe it was sometime in the second lap that I went past her. My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I think I was at 800 at around 5:07 or 5:08.  Still right on target.

However, when I tried to pick up the pace heading down the first straightaway of lap three I just felt really flat. That extra energy that I hoped I would have wasn't there in the tank. George yelled at me to pick it up for the last 600 when I went past him and also to fix my horrific form. (I know how it felt, I can only imagine how bad it looked). I have no real idea what my time was at 1200, but I'm guessing it was somewhere in the low 5:40s because I remember thinking that I could still PR if I ran a really good last lap. I made another attempt to speed up, but my legs just weren't having it. It was somewhere around here that Jess went back past me. I tried to use her as motivation to pick up the pace, but only managed to stay with her for 50 meters or so. I then just tried to keep pushing and finish the race. This included another pass by George and him yelling at me to "run tall" and "stand up".  You can see why:

I could see the clock for the last 20 meters or so and new it wasn't going to be a PR day, but I did my best to get to the finish line as quickly as possible. My time guess based on what I saw was 6:25 and my official time ended up being 6:24.96.

I was definitely frustrated with the time initially, but by Sunday afternoon I realized this was stupid. I can hardly expect to PR in every race and give all the things I did "wrong" the week before the race, adding 10 seconds is not much time at all. Plus, I succeeded in my main goal for the day, which was to start at a more moderate pace. Sure, I didn't have the kick that I had hoped for at the end, but I still executed the race strategy that I wanted. I'll figure out how to put it all together eventually.

And now I will I put aside my mile PR dreams until sometime next summer. There's another PVTC meet Labor Day weekend, but I prefer to fully switch my focus to the marathon and get in a good long run instead.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Richmond Marathon Training - Week 1

Now that I'm back in marathon training, I thought I'd bring back weekly recaps. I know they're not very exciting, but I like to be able to go back and see what I've done.

Monday August 6
Run 5.1 mi
I was originally thinking about hitting the pool on Monday morning, but some car troubles on Sunday meant that I had no way to get there. I settled for a very easy run instead.

Tuesday August 7
Run 8.5 mi
400 (1:43), 800 (3:27), 1200 (5:12), 1200 (5:07), 800 (3:19), 400 (1:36)
My goal for track workouts this fall is to make sure that I'm running in the right range based on the CAR interval chart and my tentative marathon goal time. I'd like to think that I could run these intervals slightly faster, but I'm focusing on maintaining a hard, but not too hard effort, and trying to hit the times on the chart. My secondary goal for the day was to be slightly faster on the way back down the pyramid, so I was very happy with how I executed this workout.

Wednesday August 8
Swim 3000 yds
Run 5.15 mi
A nice IM heavy swim with Beth in the morning, followed by the CAR fun run at night.

Thursday August 9

Friday August 10
Run 7.3 mi
5k tempo - 23:08
This was a decent tempo workout for me. Each mile was slightly faster, which is always the goal. I experimented a bit and tried to significantly pick up the pace for the third mile. Normally I wait a little bit longer to do so, and it was definitely too early during this run. I wasn't able to sustain the effort and dropped off during the last lap and half. Still, I was happy with the run overall and figure there's no better time to test out different pacing strategies than in a workout.

Saturday August 11
Run 10.0 mi (8:40ish avg)
Originally my schedule called for 12-14 miles this week, but since I was planning to race the mile on Sunday, I cut it back to ten. I tried to keep it relatively relaxed and didn't focus on making it a progression run. For some reason my Garmin decided to misbehave on the way back and I ended up with a total distance of 9.7, instead of ten. This was after going out five miles and turning around and everyone else's watches recording the proper distance. So, because I didn't feel like doing actual math, I'm guessing at my average pace when the additional .3 was factored into the total distance.

Sunday August 12
Run 6 mi
PVTC track meet 1 mile - 6:25
A two mile warm up, 1 mile race and three mile cool down. This race didn't go quite as well as I had hoped, and I was kind of frustrated right afterwards, but 24 hours later I don't feel too bad about it. It was good to get out there and push myself and try a different race strategy. Official results aren't up yet, but based on what I saw on the clock I think I finished right around 6:25. Race report coming.

Week 1: 42.05 mi

Monday, August 6, 2012

The most wonderful time of the year

I've always thought this commercial was funny, even when I was still in school and less than thrilled about the end of summer break.

Why am I sharing it today? Well, I'm not going back to school, but it is the start of my absolute favorite time of year. MARATHON TRAINING!!!! Today is the official first day of my Richmond marathon training cycle. I know there is a lot of hard work ahead, but I'm looking forward to every minute of it.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

June and July Recap

I went to start my July recap and realized that I never did one for June. So you get both.

Miles: 302.68 (143.89 in June, 158.79 in July)  (+ ~20 miles in the pool)
X-Training: 14 (12 swims, 2 yoga classes)

Rest Days: 7

Race(s): Lawyers Have Heart 10k - 48:44, DST 5k - 23:21, Maryland Summer Swim Series Meet #2, DCRRC Track Championships - 1 mile - 6:14.8, Barnegat Light One Mile Ocean Swim - 24:35

Workout goals:
Get back to running - Total success. I ended up with my two biggest months of the year so far. I am really happy with the base I've built before marathon training officially kicks off on August 6.
Swim something other than freestyle - Another success. I threw in some IM and breaststroke workouts and did enough to sign up for the 100 breast in the Maryland Summer Swim series.
Glute stretches and strengthening exercises - I did really well with this in June, but got a bit off track towards the end of July when I was traveling a lot.

Summer is rapidly coming to an end and I am happy with how the first two thirds has gone. Surprisingly, I haven't hated running in the heat and humidity this year as much as I have in the past. Maybe it's because I've been running more and more consistently or maybe it hasn't been quite as bad. Whatever the reason, I'm not complaining. My swimming volume dropped a bit as I started running more, but I knew that would happen. I still managed to get to the pool at least once a week, something I hope to continue during marathon training. I felt the iron starting to kick in sometime in June, but I really saw some big improvements during workouts towards the end of July. I think the combination of increased iron levels and finally having my legs back under me (after several solid mileage weeks) is what did the trick.
August Preview

Workout goals:
Run a lot, but be smart about it - If it is possible to ease into marathon training, that is what I want to do. I have a solid base, but I still want to be careful about building up my mileage so that I'm ready for those peak weeks in late September and October. I want to work hard at the track during workouts, but be careful to run the "right" paces for my marathon time goal and not get sucked into racing or trying to keep up with teammates who are training for halfs (with faster pace goals).

Keep swimming - Last year I don't think I swam once between the end of August and December. I'd like to avoid that complete break this year. Once a week is the goal.
All the little things - As marathon training starts and the mileage ramps up, I need to be diligent about doing all the non-running things I have a tendency to skip: foam rolling, glute stretches and exercises, core work, etc.

Races: Track mile - August 12 and Hood to Coast - August 24 & 25