Wednesday, October 31, 2012

There's No Place Like Home 5k race report

Last year I raced an 8k two weeks before the Philadelphia Marathon and I thought it worked out very well. So I had it in my head that I would probably do a race last weekend from the beginning of the training cycle. Saturday happened to be my brother's wedding day, so it was also appealing to only have to fit in a 5k in the morning, rather than 14-15 miles. I found a two different options and as wedding weekend plans came together and I knew I'd be heading up to the Frederick MD area on Friday afternoon, I signed up for the There's No Place Like Home 5k in downtown Frederick.

This was the third annual race, so I checked out the results from 2010 and 2011 and knew that it was a relatively small race and I would most likely have a shot at being one of the top women, assuming the race wasn't crashed by a high school cross country team. The race wasn't chip timed, so I started right on the line.

When the race started a handful of guys took off ahead of me, as well as one woman (in green to the right of me in both pictures). I debated trying to match her early pace, but I could tell it would require picking up the pace more than I was ready to do at the beginning of the race. I hoped that I could keep her lead to a reasonable distance and reel her in later on.

When I warmed up I previewed miles 1 and 3 of the course, so I knew that the first mile was flat or downhill and so I tried not to worry about being too fast at the beginning. Within about a half mile I passed one or two guys who had clearly gotten sucked into starting out too fast. I could see the first place woman about a 100 meters ahead of me, but I wasn't making any progress. I left my watch on auto lap because I wasn't sure how well a small race would be marked and my Garmin actually beeped after I had passed the mile 1 sign. 6:52

The second mile was a loop that I'd cut out of my warm up and involved some rolling hills through a pleasant neighborhood. Definitely a lot more up than mile one and lots of speed bumps, which occasionally made for some awkward stepping. I could still see the first woman, but she was getting slightly farther ahead. The road was pretty windy and after I few minutes I realized I shouldn't be following the road as much as I was and should be at least trying to run the tangents. I avoided looking at my Garmin as much as possible and focused more on running at a hard effort. This time my Garmin beeped well ahead of the mile 2 sign. 7:07

By this point I was pretty sure that my goal of reeling in the first woman in the third mile was probably not happening. She was gaining ground on me and not showing any signs of faltering. So I just tried to pick up my pace and get back to sub 7:00. I knew that there was a longer hill in the middle of the mile, so I had it in my head that once I crested that I would really go for it. I'm not sure how successful I was, but I tried! I never saw a mile 3 marker, but once I heard that Garmin beep I tried to pick up my turnover even more. 6:58

I could see the clock for the last long straight away and watched the seconds in 21 minutes ticking away. I was trying my hardest and thought I might make it, but I saw 22 right before I crossed the line. 1:08 (.17 - 6:51 pace)

Final time: 22:02
2nd woman
6th overall

When I finished the race I felt like it had been relatively hilly. Not steep hills, but lots of rollers. I will note that when chatting with the winner afterwards, I kept my mouth shut when she mentioned how hilly it is running in Frederick and that it was nice to run on such a flat course. Garmin data backs her up and shows I totally distorted reality. Total elevation gain was 33 feet.

I talked with the winner and her friend for a while after the race and they tried to convince me to run another 5k that was being held a few blocks over at 2pm. When I mentioned the wedding at 3:00, they told me the faster I ran, the sooner I could get there! While this was tempting, I didn't see my brother or new sister-in-law being too thrilled with that idea. Perhaps if I had raced in my bridesmaid dress...

The other highlight of this race was breaking out my new neon orange Nikes. They just look speedy and I have never gotten so many compliments on a pair of running shoes. Big round of applause for Nike for making the Pegasus in so many fun colors. I wish other shoe companies would follow their lead.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Richmond Marathon Training - Weeks 11 & 12

Monday October 15
Run 9.0 mi
My regular run commute to start the week. Tacked on an extra mile at the end, just because it was peak week.

Tuesday October 16
Run 8.5 mi
1600 (7:06), 1200 (5:20), 2x800 (3:23/3:20), 400 (1:35)
A solid track workout. It's always nice to show up and know that you are "only" doing three miles of intervals.  I was right on target with the pace chart, so I'm happy.

Yoga - 75 min

Wednesday October 17
Run 10.0 mi - AM
Run 5.15 mi - PM
Perhaps the last double run day of this training cycle. This was the first time I've tried this and it will definitely be a regular feature in the future. It makes it easy to get in some extra miles and I find this so much more manageable mentally than trying to do 15 at once mid-week.

Thursday October 18

Friday October 19
Run 8.2 mi
5k tempo - 22:47 (7:26/7:18/7:11)
I showed up planning to do a longer tempo (perhaps even five miles for the first time ever), but was told to stick with 5k and so that I could really focus on the long run the next day. I ended up with my faster ever 5k tempo (by a second or two).

Saturday October 20
Run 20.75 mi (avg pace - 8:52)
Our normal long run start was inaccessible because of a charity bike ride, so we met at what is normally the 7 mile point of the 21 mile loop. We decided to run the loop in reverse, because that would allow us to still have a downhill finish. What I didn't realize when I suggested this was that running that way would result in a several mile climb in the middle.
I felt like I didn't have my normal energy for the last few miles and didn't pick up the pace like I normally do. I was disappointed by this, but am blaming the long climb and the fact that I was at the end of my last big week. I'm not going to worry that this has any significance for the marathon. My tapered legs will be ready!

Sunday October 21
Elliptical - 45 min
For some reason I have just not been motivated to hit the pool for the last few weeks. So after I got home from cheering for teammates and family members running the Army Ten Miler, I went to the gym for the first time in ages. The elliptical was just as fun and exciting as I remembered!

Week 11 - 61.6 miles

Monday October 22
Run 8.5 mi
Run commute to kick off the week. I ran into two teammates while I was out (one running, one cycling), which was a pleasant surprise.

Tuesday October 23
Run 10.25 mi
10x800 (3:34/3:24/3:22/3:21/3:21/3:21/3:20/3:19/3:17/3:19)
I was a bit nervous heading into this workout because I knew that I wouldn't have company for all ten repeats and because I had struggled at the end of the long run a few days before. We were told to aim for eight and only do ten if we were feeling really great. As soon as I started I knew it was going to be a good day. I felt so much better than when I had done this same workout two weeks before and was able to hold the pace I wanted with relative ease. So even though most people stopped at eight, I decided to get in those last two. I left the workout on a huge high and felt like I was finally ready to start tapering.

Yoga - 75 min

Wednesday October 24
Run 5.15 mi
I was planning to keep with my normal schedule and make this my last double day of the training cycle, but when my coach heard that I had a massage on Tuesday morning, he told me not to run in the morning. I was a bit worried about dropping my miles too much in this first taper week, but I quickly realized I should just listen to him and not stress about it. Losing 8-10 miles this week isn't going to ruin 14 weeks of training.

Thursday October 25
Run 8.5 w/1 mile pickup (7:36)
Most of this run was done at a very easy pace, but I mile five was a hard effort, to prep my legs for Saturday's race.

Friday October 26
Yoga - 60 min
I don't like running the day before a race, so I opted for a yoga class instead. My legs felt nice and loose when I left.

Saturday October 27
Run 7.5 mi
There's No Place Like Home 5k - 22:02
A full race report is coming, but the short story is that this was a great race. I PR'ed by a large amount and was the second woman, my highest ever race finish! Post race I rushed off to get cleaned up and spent the afternoon and evening celebrating at my brother's wedding.

Sunday October 28

Week 12 - 39.9 miles

I finished out my last peak week feeling strong and started off the first taper week with a great workout. I tapered a bit more than planned in week 12, but at this point it is better to err on the side of extra rest. I'm looking forward to two more easy weeks that will give my legs a chance to recover and get ready to race. I can hardly believe that twelve weeks of this training cycle are done.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Weather Wordless Wednesday

I discovered yesterday that the AccuWeather extended forecast is even more extended than I realized. Yes, that's right, AccuWeather is now predicting the weather for November 10. Even though it means absolutely nothing at this point, let the race weather obsessing begin!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Richmond Marathon Training - Week 10

Monday October 8
Run 8.5 mi
Since I work for a company that doesn't recognize the somewhat questionable holiday of Columbus Day, it was a typical Monday morning run commute. Until, that is, I got about a block away from my office and was prevented from crossing Pennsylvania Ave by fencing set up for Taste of DC. A half mile and one or two rude security guards later, I was finally across the street and done with my run.

Tuesday October 9
Run 10.25 mi
10x800 (3:34/3:34/3:27/3:26/3:24/3:24/3:24/3:21/3:24/3:22/3:21)
I definitely wasn't feeling quite as energetic as the last time that I did this workout and the times were slightly slower. Still, I was right in the range where I need to be and I was able to get faster as I went along, so I have no complaints. It's hard to believe that I'll only be doing this workout one more time before race day!

Yoga - 75 min
I checked out a new studio and really enjoyed the pace of the class. It was an all levels class and was just speed and difficulty that I really enjoy. I'll definitely be heading back.

Wednesday October 10
Run 9.75 mi - AM
Run 5.15 mi - PM
Another mid-week double run day. I'm really glad I decided to give this a try during this training cycle. The timing of it works out well with the rest of my week and it let's me give my legs two days off from running while still getting in (for me) a lot of miles.

Thursday October 11
Run 7.8 mi
2 mi tempo (7:08/7:04)
1 mi tempo (6:55)
I'm not really sure what got into me during this workout. Maybe it was running on the trail at night, with no good visual sense of pace (or a coach yelling splits every 400), but I went a lot faster than I've been doing at tempos recently.

Friday October 12
Pool run 60 min
For some reason I wasn't feeling much like swimming this week and I knew a teammate would be pool running, so I opted to join her instead. I knew that some kind of aquatic activity would help loosen up my legs before Saturday's marathon pace long run.

Saturday October 13
15.0 mi w/marathon pace pickups
4 mi (8:20/8:11/8:19/8:17)
3 mi (8:20/8:25/8:17)
There were supposed to be two more of those marathon pace sections to this run (2 miles and 1 mile), but I was hit with a massive calf cramp in my right leg shortly after starting mile two of the three mile set. I immediately took two Saltstick pills and chugged some water and hoped that I could somehow run through it. I could, but not quite as quickly as I was moving before! It went away with about a quarter mile left in the third mile, but I was advised by my coach to take it easy for the rest of the run. Fortunately there was not even the slightest twinge in the last five miles and I finished feeling pretty good. I've been doing a good job with hydration so I'm pretty sure that it has to be an electrolyte issue. I have a 16 oz cup that I use at work, so I'm going to start alternating water and Gu Brew or Nuun. I'll probably also start taking a Saltstick pill prior to starting, in addition to my normal one an hour on the run. I've always been on the opinion that you need a couple of bad runs every training cycle to get the potential problems to the surface or just get that general "bad but I can't figure out why" run out of the way before race day. I've never had this issue before, but now I will be doing everything necessary to prevent it from happening on race day!

Sunday October 14

Week 10 - 56.45 mi
Another solid week with lots of miles. I would have liked to complete the entire workout on Saturday, but it's really not a big deal. Three extra marathon pace miles are not going to hurt my marathon performance in any way and I learned a valuable lesson about not neglecting electrolytes.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Richmond Marathon training - Week 9

Monday October 1
Run 8.15 mi
Run commute to kick of the week.

Tuesday October 2
Run 8.5 mi
3x1200 (5:13/5:11/5:11)
3x400 (1:39/1:38/1:35)
This was a bit of a cutback week at the track, after week 8's five miles of intervals. I welcomed the break and really focused on hitting the exact times on the interval chart. Unfortunately I never hit it exactly on the nose, for either the 1200s (5:12) or 400s (1:37), but trying to do that made things a bit more fun. And I came pretty close. Clearly I have my new goal for the rest of this training cycle!

Yoga - 75 min (PM)

Wednesday October 3
Run 10 mi (AM)
Run 5.5 mi (PM)
Another solid double day, followed by an early bedtime. By the time I get to Wednesday night, I am very happy that Thursday is my rest day.

Thursday October 4

Friday October 5
Run 8.2 mi
4 mi tempo - 29:23 (7:38/7:28/7:17/7:00)
I wasn't sure how I would feel, but my legs were in pretty good shape. I got tasked with pacing duties by my regular pack and I think I did a pretty good job. Incremental, but steady improvement for each mile.

Saturday October 6
Run 20.9 mi (avg pace - 8:46)
This run did not feel nearly as good as the 20 two weeks before, but the time was more or less the same, so I can't complain. It was really the last five miles or so, when I was trying to run at marathon pace, where I felt the biggest difference. My legs were tired and I couldn't quite stay with my teammates when they picked up the pace. If I think about all of the miles I've been running recently this makes total sense, so it's not something that concerns me.

Sunday October 7
Swim 2800 yds
A pretty lazy swim, but I knew I needed to do some type of recovery activity. My body was definitely feeling the effects of a big week.

Week 9 - 61.25 mi
My first 60+ mile week! These miles are definitely making me tired (and ever so appreciative of rest days and cross training days), but that is to be expected. No strange aches or pains so I'm going to try keep up the miles for the next two weeks and the final push until the last 20 miler. This is the part of the training cycle when I start to long for taper. Of course, when it gets here I will hate it, but right now it sounds like the best thing ever.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

September Recap

Miles: 220.45 (+ ~13 miles in the pool)

X-Training: 9 (2 pool runs, 3 swims, 4 yoga classes)

Rest Days: 4

Race(s): Philadelphia Rock n' Roll Half Marathon - 1:45:49

Workout goals:
Keep going to yoga - I kept going to yoga once a week. The first week I went to a new studio in my neighborhood and then signed up for a four week workshop at another new to me studio that focused on hips and low back. It has been a great learning experience and has reinforced how important it is for me to keep stretching and strengthening my hips and core.

Focus on progression in long runs - I did alright with this during my 18 miler earlier in the month, but totally died in the last two miles. With the half marathon and long run with marathon pace segments, the only other progression long run was my first 20 miler. I must say that I totally nailed the progression on that one, perhaps even going a bit too fast at the end (added by a long downhill). I'm hoping that I can do the same thing for my next two 20s.

Smart recovery - I finished September feeling good, but this could still use improvement. I'm just not as regular about the foam rolling and stretching as I should be.
September was a great running month and I can only hope that October goes just as well. I not only completed my first ever 200 mile month, but I blew past that total. I also had my highest mileage week ever (56) and my first ever back to back 50 mile weeks. I can feel my solid summer of running paying off now. That base I laid down in July and August is definitely making these high mileage weeks much more manageable. Yes, I'm tired, but I've been surprised at how decent I've felt. (Hopefully I haven't just jinxed myself by saying that with 2.5 big weeks left to go)  Throw a big half marathon PR into the September mix and I really couldn't ask for much more. I made it to yoga every Tuesday and almost fit in a swim every week. And if not swimming quite enough was the only negative to training this month, I'll take it. I know swimming is a good break for my legs, but missed pool time is not going to kill this training cycle.

October Preview

Workout goals:
Run a lot - After I get through this weekend, there are only two big weeks left. I'm not planning anything crazy like doubling my weekly mileage, but I do want to keep trying to get in as many easy miles outside of workouts as I can.
Recover well - Include in here all the stuff that I should be doing to get through all of that running and come out healthy in November. Foam rolling, stretching, swimming and yoga, eating healthy foods, hydrating and getting enough sleep.
Races: None (I might try to do a short race at the end of the month, but I haven't decided yet. My main focus is these last big training weeks before taper.)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Richmond Marathon Training - Week 8

Monday September 24
Run 8.15 mi
A relaxed, easy run commute to start the week. This is consistently my slowest run of the week and that is totally intentional. I don't look at my watch and just let my legs loosen up and work out all the tightness built up after the tempo and long run combo at the end of the previous week.

Tuesday September
Run 10.25 mi - AM
10x800 (3:36/3:30/3:26/3:26/3:24/3:19/3:20/3:20/3:19/3:18)
I was definitely intimidated heading into this workout and couldn't be happier about how it turned out. My goal was to at least get to eight repeats, with the hope that I would feel fine and could get through all ten. I knew that the mileage was much more important that speed, so I really focused on staying controlled and cruising along. I finished feeling like I had worked hard, but like I could have managed a few more repeats at the same pace. I'm really proud of how I executed this workout.

Yoga - 75 mins - PM

Wednesday September 26
Run 8.95 mi - AM
Run 5.15 mi - PM
My biggest double day to date. I met up with the CAR morning run group and then went to the fun run at night. It helps so much to have people to run with on what ends up being a pretty long day.

Thursday September 27
Run 7.8 mi
2 mi tempo (7:22/7:18) and 1 mi tempo (7:25)
I much prefer the morning workouts, but was told not to do a Friday tempo and Saturday long run with marathon pace intervals. So instead I headed to my first night workout in a long time. We couldn't use the track, so these were done out on the trail. The goal was 10k race pace, a bit slower than a normal tempo. I was aiming for something around 7:30, so these were a bit quick. The two miler was aided by a long, subtle downhill, while the mile was run coming back up that slight hill.

Friday September 28
Swim 3000 yards
I was tempted to stay in bed and move this workout to Sunday, but I'm glad I got myself to the pool. I felt pretty tired and achey when I first got up and a long relaxed swim really helped loosen things up and made me feel so much better.

Saturday September 29
Run 16.2 mi with marathon pace pickups
4 mi (8:18/8:03/8:07/8:13)
3 mi (8:16/8:16/8:11)
2 mi (8:18/8:18)
1 mi (8:06)
In comparison to Tuesday's workout, this run was not that well executed, at least at the start. The goal was to run 8:15-8:20 pace on marathon pace sections. I went too fast on the four mile section. And even though I knew it was too fast, I got sucked into the "this pace feels totally comfortable so I should keep going" mentality. And while it wasn't all that much faster than planned, I really think that it made the other three repeats harder than they would have been. The main reason it concerns me is that I have ruined many a race (including one marathon) by starting out faster than planned because it seemed fine at the time. This is not something I can afford to do in Richmond. If I feel better than planned at mile 15 or 16, sure I'll pick up the pace. But in the early miles I have to force myself to stick to the planned pace.

Sunday September 30

Week 8 - 56.5 mi
This was week two of my five really big weeks of training and I think it went really well. I hit my highest weekly mileage ever, while still feeling strong during key workouts. Now I just have to focus on keeping this up for the next three weeks. I know it is becoming even more important to make sure I am sleeping well, eating right, and staying hydrated.