Sunday, March 21, 2010

National Marathon: Long run and 10k race report

It didn't matter that I was just using this as a catered long run, I still didn't sleep well Friday night. I had nightmares about not getting to the race on time, torrential downpours and hurricane force winds, and forgetting my sneakers. Every time I woke up, I would be disappointed it wasn't 5 a.m. already.

This is probably because I seriously doubted my ability to not race a marathon. I had many points that I kept repeating in my head:
  • Elite runners use races as training runs and run them 40 minutes over their PR all the time. This is ok.
  • Last time I was on my feet for 4 hours running was in 2007, so this will be good practice for my 50k trail race in June.
  • When I signed up, I knew I would do this as a training run. I'm not giving up on anything.
  • This was capping off a week of over 9 hours of training, 38 miles of running, and nearly 100 miles of biking, running, and swimming combined. I shouldn't PR. And, I still plan on a full week of training. So, its pretty important that I'm able to run again by Wednesday.
Still, I went through the pre-race routine. And, as a bonus the start was six blocks from my house and we basically passed it during mile 12. So, to keep my pace even, I left my iPod at home and left out some food and water for when I stopped by my personal aid station. I decided that I would run 20 miles at a 9:00 pace, and then I could race the last 10k.

My Garmin wouldn't catch the satellites and I started tracking the run 4 minutes in. However, it still says I ran 26.3 miles, and I heard other marathoners complain that their Gamins said they ran over 27 minutes. So, I'll just use my unofficial Garmin time for splits... if you don't mind! :)

The weather was perfect for a half-marathon. It got a little too hot for the full, but the first 12 miles I ran with my friend Natalie. This was her first half-marathon and long distance race. She really rocked it out, we ran 8:30-9:00 pace. We rocked the downhills, took the uphills pretty strong, and she listened to her iPod while I chatted her ear off half the time. When I left her at mile 12, she was feeling pretty worn out, but still finished strong and picked people off in the last mile or so.

1- 9:13
2- 8:57
3- 8:40
4- 9:02
5- 9:13
6- 8:58
7- 9:03
8- 8:30
9- 9:50
10- 8:27
11- 8:43
12- 11:44

I stopped at home, and went all Tarahumara, downing some iskiate I'd made to test how I handled it mid run. I went to the bathroom, washed my face, took a few sips of water, grabbled my iPod and jumped right back in.

Once I had my music, my pace definitely jumped a little bit. This race had a LOT of water stations. I took one powerade at each, and once it started getting warm, two. I felt like the last 6 miles had one every mile, but its interesting to see that I walking for about 10-15 seconds never really affects my split times.

During mile 14, U & Ur Hand, by Pink came onto my iPod. This is my favorite fartlek song, but you don't do speed play in a marathon. Except, I told myself, this was a training run. And so, that's right. I fartleked during a marathon.

13- 8:22
14- 8:31
15- 8:27

My right achilles has been bugging me during long runs lately, so I think I had to stop and stretch maybe three times. The first, during mile 16.

16- 9:16
17- 8:33
18- 7:59
19- 9:47
20- 8:19

At 19 they had an aid station with bowls of pretzels, orange wedges, etc., which was AWESOME. And there were a whole bunch of runners standing around a table shoveling food in our mouths. I stuck around to re fuel and get ready for my 10k. I was running with the 9:00 pace group and all of a sudden, hit mile 20 and pulled this:

21- 7:37
22- 7:19
23- 7:29
24- 7:52 (Holy crap, rolling hills! I didn't expect these. My calf was irritated by the uphills so I had to take them a little slow, but I kept pushing on and targeting men to pick off)
25- 7:56
26- 6:49 (Where did this come from?!)
.33 in 2:19, a 7:05 pace.

I would look for men who were shirtless, wearing bright colors, or wearing red and just had fun earning this shirt that I got at the expo:

Only one got me, we were racing at one point and I didn't lose him until I was at a 6:00 pace, then in the last mile he pulled ahead and I just couldn't keep up. I was disappointed, but it happens, he looked very fit so... (grumble grumble)

After racing MCM, I was shaking uncontrollably for a good time after and was hardly coherent, I was so dead. But yesterday, I felt like I had just completed a long run, so mission accomplished.  I was energetic, and full of energy. I went out to the park when I got home to enjoy the sun and went to a movie. Today, I'm only slightly sore, and my legs feel very fresh.

I was worried after MCM that my ultra dreams were unrealistic. I was wiped out after 26.2 miles. But yesterday was really encouraging, because by taking it easy most of the race, I still had more to give. I learned the difference between racing and running, and now I feel even more proud of my MCM time. I definitely raced that and gave it my all.  I 'm feeling much more confident about my 50k in June.

I always underestimate what my body can do, I didn't even think I would be marathon-ready by mid-April, and here I did a great 26.3 training run and I feel fantastic. I still have no clue what my Boston goal should be, but I've got nearly a month to build on what I've done this weekend.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The National Marathon, cross-training, my new gym, and Daily Mile

The National Marathon
I'm running it. As in all 26.2 miles. I am going to try really hard to run, and not race, it but I have been forgetting the fact that I have a marathon Saturday all week. I'm starting to get excited! To keep my pace down, and prep me for the JFK 50 miler in November, I'm thinking of running it without my iPod. I know, that its a crazy idea (me, who obsesses over her running playlists), but it will keep me focused on what my body is telling me instead of the beat. Still undecided though. 
Its going to be a bit warm, and super sunny, so I'm sticking with the little outfit I wore for MCM and hoping I'll finish before the temp rises above 70 degrees. After, everyone is invited to my unofficial after party at Good Stuff Eatery on 3rd and Penn SE. Can you beat delicious, free-range burgers on whole wheat buns, with farmer's market quality veggies, delicious ice cream and shakes, and carb filled fries? No, you really can't.

Since my weekly mileage is so low for peak training, I have made up for it by including a ton of cross-training, and its become such a great habit! My running has been average-to-slow paced, and so I've been using the bike to really get my heart rate up mid-week. I've been hitting a peak of 180-185 on the bike, which is pretty high up there (although, I'm not an expert on training according to heart rate).

In the last 30-days, my Garmin calendar tells me I've done 32 workouts/activities (I do double and triple up some days) and I haven't even felt very worn out. I really love that I'm getting sculpted shoulders from weight training and swimming, my core is definitely becoming stronger and my abs more defined, and I've been cycling more miles than I'm running! I feel more active and fit then on running alone, now that I'm taking time for other activities to work other muscles.

My Monday recovery swim is becoming a strict habit. Every Monday after work, I go to the local pool and do anywhere from 30-60 minutes of light swimming. My legs feel so refreshed, and I'm able to stretch once my muscles are warmed up. I also really love doing a lunch-time bike ride the afternoon of my mid-length weekday run (usually 8-10 miles). It just gets my muscles warm and ready for my evening run. Also, a longer (60-100 minute) bike ride on a rest day kicks my ass every time. Yesterday I did a double spin class and covered 38 miles.

I'm trying to do more weight training, but I'm still on only once a week. This week, I hope to get another one in, and focus on getting some hip and leg work in on top of just arms and core.

New gym
Most of this has been made easy by my awesome new gym. Results gym is located at the entrance of my new metro station (we moved offices at work) and right across the street from my workplace. So, if I want to skip a workout, I have to walk past my gym on the way home which would probably put me on a guilt trip. I can now do lunch time bike rides and weight training. Plus, the have a pool with a treadmill for aqua-jogging! I haven't tried it yet, but it looks pretty spiffy. Its clean, they provide towels, and their spinning classes are great. The bikes have all your stats (most spinning bikes just have resistance) and if there isn't a class going on you can do a recorded workout off the giant plasma screen.

Daily Mile
I finally caved and joined Daily Mile (the runner's version of facebook) once they started the Garmin sync, and I love it! I could go on and on about how cool it is! I really like the bar graph of all the miles you've logged. You can connect with local runners, those you'll be doing a race with, motivate friends, receive encouragement, and see how many doughnuts you've burned off.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pushing myself again

Since my ITB injury induced break, my running pace has really suffered. I've babied my legs, and I just couldn't really pound and push them anymore. You could tell in my average paces: 11:01, 9:34, 11:36, 8:59, 9:13, 8:19, 9:53... 3 miles or 14 miles, my fastest splits were still in the 8s, and I was no longer dipping into the 7s regularly.

I was trying to take it easy and just enjoy running again, and its really helped. Maybe its the beautiful weather, or heading out in the mornings again, but running has been really fun lately. My cross training habits are just flourishing, I'm spending a lot of time on the bike, at least an hour a week in the pool, and trying to get strength training in twice a week.  I feel really solid and strong at the moment. I'm so proud of the way my body is responding to two-a-days and longer workouts.

Last weekend, I went out for a 20 mile run, and I felt fantastic. I was getting regular splits in the 8:20s, right where I was for my MCM long runs. I ended with a 8:15 mile, and I was really fighting to finish my run strong. I was far from home still, with the National Mall stretching in front of me, and I decided to run to the Capitol. For the first time since coming back, I just flew! I went into the 6:50s, steadied out in the low 7s and (mostly due to having to stop and start again do to traffic lights), topped off my 20-miler with a quick 7:24!!! I stopped my watch, looked down to my legs and accused them of holding out on me, where did that come from?!?

Just two miles earlier I was struggling to finish and then I push out my fastest mile in months?!

After a 1.5 mile walk home over a bottle of Gatorade and a bagel, a grocery store trip, a walk to Eastern Market, and a walk to my friend's party later that evening, I'm pretty positive that I covered 26 miles Sunday, and yes I'm still feeling it today!

I stayed at my friend's last night and once again faced the Rock Creek Park route that killed my ITB. I took it really easy, and covered over 1000 feet of elevation and descent in 5.66 miles.  I'm still pretty sore, so I canceled my cycling workout and got home to rest.  I decided on a 16 mile run this weekend and, gulp, the full marathon March 20th. I'm quite positive that I'll do well. I won't PR, but I hope to qualify for Boston again in 3:40.