Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Time for a Real Speed Workout

So last night's blog entry talked about how maybe my speedwork wasn't as "speedy" as I thought if I could talk up a storm the whole way. I couldn't do my next run as expected this Thursday so I was doing my "Thursday run" tonight on Wednesday, so back-to-back days with that speed run.

I thought that maybe I should do a "better" speed workout for tonight's run. My training partner canceled at the last minute, so I was on my own. Very hot and very humid tonight. Although at least there was a breeze...for only the first mile! Grr, that always happens to me.

I went out and first mile didn't feel bad. Mile 1 - 10:03 - yay!
Took my 1 - 1 1/2 minute walk break and started again.
I got to 1.8 miles and had to walk for a few seconds as I gagged and fought the horrible nauseous feeling I was having. I pushed through and finished the mile but had definitely dropped my pace in that last 0.2. Mile 2 - 10:26.
I take about 2 minute walk break. I feel hot and sick - dehydrated - overheated - a little like I'm going to pass out.
I start and can only go a tenth of a mile. I walk another minute.
I do another tenth of a mile. I walk another minute and a half.
I do another 2/10s of a mile. I'm done. I'm right by home and worried about how bad I feel.
But that last 0.4 miles = 10:14 pace. Which I thought was a good way to get that last 4/10s in. Keep teaching my body what that pace in this weather feels like, even if I have to recover more often and can't go very far.

So in 88 degrees and 75% humidity, I do 2.4 miles at a 10:14 avg, but includes walk breaks (not counting towards distance, just used as recovery).

I'm very hopeful. New Year's Resolution is to break 32 minute 5K (10:19 pace)... So if it was 30 degrees cooler, and DRY (lower humidity), could I do that pace for another 0.7 miles and do it without walk breaks? Yeah, I think I could!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Is it really speedwork if you chatter the whole time?

Yep, bad bad runner. At first, I was so proud of myself when I got back home. The stats:
* 3 mile repeats
* Around 90 degrees with 65% humidity
* Goal when I headed out the door was shoot for 10:45 pace on each mile with the understanding that I probably didn't have that in me.
* Actual was negative splits with a 10:49 average! 10:54, 10:49, 10:44.

The first mile would have been faster but the legs felt good and I wasn't watching the Garmin much at all the last half mile and didn't realize I was a little slow, could have kicked it up the last couple tenths of a mile.

So why should I feel bad? Question: if you are chatting and having dramatic conversations with your training partner the WHOLE 3 miles, are you really doing speedwork? I mean, really?

See, on later reflection, maybe 10:45 pace is a stupid goal on my speedwork nights. Maybe I need to just shut up the whole way and shoot for 10:30 pace goal next time.

Food for thought.... Happy Running!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Easy Run Tonight Has Me Asking, "So What's My Pace?"

Tonight's run confused me. I had been told that after 5 straight weeks of hard pace training and ramped up weekly mileage, I needed to take one week recovery and do easy runs.

Tuesday night, I did 3 easy miles with my training partner and it was 12:19 pace - warm humid night.

Tonight, training partner had to cancel on me. Weather was much cooler out, it was still somewhat overcast but moving out of the area.

First mile: the breeze is really nice, good cloudcover, 11:19.
Second mile: breeze STOPS, gets humid, sun comes back out, stomach's kinda bothering me from dinner, 12:09.
Third mile: still no breeze, less sun, stomach's a little better, 11:49.

So that's 3 miles in 35:16 - 11:49 average.

Well, this is 30 seconds faster than Tuesday's hotter "easy" run. So what's the difference? Does this mean I could expect 30 seconds off my pace come cooler weather?

And what does it mean that my "easy" run tonight was at slightly slower than my long run pace currently is in the heat, or is only slightly slower than my goal half marathon race pace?

The point is my paces are all over the place. I think the heat is making it so hard to predict what my pace will be when it cools down and on top of it, I AM getting faster, making that prediction even more of a moving target.

Just makes me wonder - I can't wait to get to cool temps because then I'll be able to compare to my spring PR paces I was setting this year and have a much better idea of how much faster I've become.

A kaleidoscope of miles per minute

Tonight's EASY run pace: 11:49

Training paces for the last 5 hard weeks in HEAT:

Speed runs - 2 to 3 mile repeats: 10:45-11:00
Long runs - 11:00-11:28
Weekday tempo runs of 3 miles: 11:15-11:35

Spring paces, which also were PR paces, much cooler, ideal temps:

Half Marathon PR Pace (April this year): 12:23
15K PR Pace (earlier this year): 11:50
10K PR Pace (earlier this year): 11:32
5K PR Pace (earlier this year - ideal, hard to replicate conditions): 10:24

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

You Know You've Gotten Faster When...

...The easy run is faster than your old race pace! Oh My Goodness!

I had just spent the last 5 weeks in HARD training. I worked on speed the whole time and pushed pushed pushed. After a couple years of mostly racing with no training in between, this was the first time I've really ever trained with such strong purpose. And then Saturday, after not doing anything over 10K distance since May 17, I had jumped up to do a 9.3 mile and at a sub-11:30 pace (minus one leisurely mile).

So with sore shins, I headed into my sports chiropractor's office the other day, where we talk training techniques for a good hour every time I visit. And I'll add he's also an ex-university running coach. So this time he told me I really need to take this week and run easy, do economy runs for the week. I should not go by the numbers on the watch for pace, but what would feel like an easy run in terms of effort.

So tonight training partner Sarah and I went out for 3 easy miles for the first time in a long time. And we talked non-stop the whole way. It's funny that I felt out of breath the whole time because of the talking, not the running.

Results: 3 miles = 37 minutes = 12:19 average pace

My pace for all distances (I didn't have a fast or slow pace before) when I started this year was a 12:30-13:00. Although I did 6 half marathons in the winter 2008/spring 2009, I didn't train in between them. I would do a half, not run for 3 weeks, and then do another half - and repeat. I've really only trained this last 5 weeks.

And now my easy run is faster than my old race pace!

Today - EASY : 12:19 pace
DRC Frigid 10K, Jan. 2009: 12:40 pace
Dallas White Rock Half, Dec. 2009: 13:19 pace

This just floors me! 2 1/2 hour half marathon - watch out because here I come.

Happy Running and Walking to All!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Cheerleader at an 11-Something Pace Equals SO Much Fun

Yesterday, Paula and I ran a loop of White Rock Lake. We needed to do 9 on our schedule for training towards NYC Half Marathon on August 16 (can't wait!). But that Saturday was also Too Hot To Handle 15K/5K race at the lake (about 2000 finishers). So we donned our Heels and Hills gear and thought we'd get the 9 miles in my looping the lake and saying hi to all our Dallas Running Club pals out there with the training program and then cheer on all the 15Kers for the race, fellow DRCers and Heels and Hills-ers.

When we started, Paula asked what I wanted to do. She's been helping push me to get faster. I told her I thought a slow long run pace like 12:00 min/mile (goal race pace for half marathon is 11:30) because the longest I had done since the North Trail Half Marathon on May 17 was a 10K distance each of the last two weekends. Plus I knew it would be tiring clapping, yelling, and cheering for all of our friends.

It was a cooler weekend here in Dallas, upper-70s when we started. Partly cloudy. Wonderful. A little way into mile 2 I told Paula I thought we were going a bit fast and should slow down. She told me I was driving the pace today. Oh, ME?!? I thought I was following her. I'd been used to her picking the day's pace and making me stick to it. It became part of my lesson that day that my natural pace is definitely moving to the 11:00-11:25 range because I didn't look at my Garmin much that morning, but our splits had us mostly staying in that range.

Our miles 3 to 5 were a lot of fun as we cheered and yelled hi to all our DRC friends that were out for the fall training program and then we hit the wall of Too Hot to Handle 15Kers. We took a break for a few minutes to stand on the sidelines and cheer once the crowd got pretty thick across the road. It was so much fun to see all the great runner friends and cheer on all the girls wearing Heels and Hills event shirts!

Once all the 15Kers passed and we hit mile 5, we took a one mile walk break. We were out here to get the distance done and just enjoy ourselves. So we took our energy gels then and chatted and laughed. (Note this was the only walk break of the whole run - a huge improvement for me in this stage where I've wanted to work on not needing walk breaks - which I note that not HAVING to take them is different from from choosing whether or not to walk depending on the circumstances.

At mile 6 we ran through the rest. And got to cheer ALL the same 15Kers on from mile 6.5 to mile 8.5, which was nice to see them all again because they were a little more spread out by then so we could pick out the faces of more individuals we knew!

We got back to the car right at 9 miles. I looked at my watch and told Paula that I thought this might be close to a PR pace for me. So we headed out another 0.15 and turned around and came back. I was guessing my PR was right around 2 hours. Well, now I know to look up PRs beforehand. We finished in 1:52, and my current PR is 1:50. If we had "taken our running seriously" for the mile 6 where we walked (and I could have run it, I had the energy), I would have a new PR (and to me, doing the distance makes a PR regardless of whether it's publicly verifiable as a race PR or not, as a training PR).

Final: 9.3 miles = 1:52:29, pace: 12:06
Without the walking mile - 8.3 miles = 1:34:42, pace: 11:25 (this is perfect for my goal of breaking 2 1/2 hours at the half marathon this year, which is an 11:30 pace)

So if I had just run that mile, I would have had 9.3 miles in approx. 1:46, which would beat my 1:50 PR.

Mile 1: 11:19
Mile 2: 11:37
Mile 3: 11:43
Mile 4: 11:09
Mile 5: 11:28
Mile 6: 17:47
Mile 7: 11:22
Mile 8: 11:19
Mile 9: 11:31
Last 0.3: 10:50

I had so much fun seeing a lot of the runner friends that, unless you are in the same training program or happen to have the same racing schedule, you just NEVER get to run into. Happy Running or Walking to All!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I am such a stalker... and down the rabbithole I go

In a race or when training with a group, a "rabbit" in running is usually defined as someone a little faster than the group who the group, either intentionally or inadvertently, ends up chasing to the finish. In training groups, a rabbit in a pace group is usually bad as it can increase the speed of the group beyond the prescribed pace for the run. In a race, it can be great because it can help a runner who is picked to win to chase the rabbit and then kick it up at the end to pull out the win.

Tonight's run was not expected to go well. My training partner cancelled on me a couple hours before the run. My husband left work late and therefore I was eating dinner 15 minutes before my run started, with not much nutrition already absorbed in the bloodstream from very little eating throughout the day before that. It was a heat index of 99. The sky was darkening but it was unclear when the rain or storms would come or how much. But the forecast indicated isolated thunderstorms and my husband had seen lightning in the distance so I was afraid that if I waited for it to cool down then I'd had to cut it short due to lightning.

It was a pre-storm FURNACE out there. So hot and humid, and most of the time there was zero breeze. My legs had been feeling sluggish the last couple runs and my last run hadn't been the "speedwork" I had been hoping for.

I didn't know what goal I had for tonight's run. When I started, I quickly realized my legs felt pretty good. Ah ha, maybe I'd shoot for redemption on Tuesday's failed speedwork. But I have 9 miles to do on Saturday so maybe that's a bad idea... But I feel good and this will be such a mental boost! Okay, it's on!

But what pace for speedwork... I'll do 3 miles... I felt it out for the next couple minutes and arrived at 10:45 pace as what felt like the best goal. 3 mile repeats with a 1 minute walk break between and each mile better be 10:45 or faster.

First mile 10:43. Feeling good. Second mile I'm now weaving much more in and out of my neighborhood streets. I make a mental note that I need to check on for the elevation of this route, because this weaving helps me realize that the streets seem like pretty good hill repeats (speedwork and hill repeats, pretty stupid). But maybe the elevation is so much more major in my head because I'm doing speedwork - that's why I'll need to check.

Mile 2 is 10:41. Spot on. Towards the end of this mile I am just cooking, I'm tired, I have a spasm in my upper back (too late to realize I must have a little slumped or hunched), my left shin is developing a knot, etc etc etc. I start my 1 minute walk at the end of mile 2 and stop and stretch my left shin. I just want to quit. I'm justifying the speed in this heat as a good reason to do only 2 miles. And then a woman running passes me (there aren't that many of those in my neighborhood).

I think for a minute and take off. I'll just keep her in sight ahead of me that 100 feet. Because I quickly surmise that she's not going that much faster than my mile repeat pace. I stick to the sidewalk on the other side of the street but keep that distance and follow her. We're still in my neighborhood, I don't even care or pay attention to the fact that we go right down the street by my house (so close to home!!!), I stay on her. "Please don't freak out that my running route just happens to be exactly like yours," I'm thinking. The gnats are bad through here and I'm chewing and spitting them out. I want to keel over on the ground. But chasing that hippity hoppity bunny ahead of me is keeping me at that perfect pace!

With two minutes left in the run, I pull a u-turn and head back towards home. I finish Mile 3 in 10:45. YES!

That's three miles in a pre-storm furnace all at 10:45 or faster (goal race pace is 11:30). 3.0 miles = 32:09, a 10:43 average

Thank you, rabbit, whoever you are! And happy running to all!

Sluggish Legs

Tuesday night was speedwork - ha! It was also a heat index of 100 degrees. This is the second run in the last week where I've felt like I had sluggish legs. And my brain must be fried too, because I totally messed up the run.

Couldn't get my legs going fast (goal was mile repeats at 10:45) and the first mile was 11:16. Well, it was still "speedy", faster than race pace. But then I forgot to walk and get my heart rate back down before going again. So we just continued running and I had to walk a little in the second mile. Even with the walking, finished in 11:37.

So then we did take a walk break since I had realized I'd forgotten that important piece. But I kept the clock running and took a super long walk break ( 2 1/2 minutes ), so then I don't really know after the fact what the running pace was. So third mile was 12:57.

At least I managed a good kick at the end of mile 2 and 3. Otherwise, I felt like the only thing I did right was get out the door and do the run. Nothing else went to plan. But at least that's a pretty good thing I did do right!

3 miles, 11:57 average.

Happy Running!

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Temptation of a Walk Break

Let me first disclaimer that I'm a big fan of long distance walking (how I got started) and long distance run/walk intervals (I was a previous Galloway-er). I've been trying to get faster and part of that for me is cutting out walk breaks. I'm not advocating that everyone should be out there cutting out walk breaks.

After having someone coach me the last few weeks to avoid the temptation of taking a walk break, I had a nice change on Sunday when I ran with new and old friends: Paula, Steve, Wendy, and Rod. Wendy and Rod were much faster than me. Paula was down with whatever because she and I had done a hard 6.2 (10K) training run the day before. Steve is the newest runner in the group and a couple weeks ago had done his first 5 mile run. He was around a 11:30 to 12:00 runner. He doesn't really want or need to be taking walk breaks but was doing it each week.

After 2 miles out at 11:24 and 11:12 pace, we turned around to go back. Steve started to walk. I told the other three to go ahead and I worked with him the next two miles to not walk. I had a chance to use some of my anecdotes and thoughts to keep him motivated. Today's post is about my thoughts about the dreaded walk break.

It's funny. There's nothing in us that should make us want to run 4...or 9...or 13.1...or 26.2 miles.... UNLESS WE ARE BEING CHASED. There's nothing in our evolution that turned our genetics into thinking it's natural that we should be out running long distance. And I think our brains know that. Your brain has a way of telling you so strongly after a few miles, "What are you doing? There's no one chasing us. Why are we doing this again? Let's stop. Or at least take a break... You're going to get us killed!"

I think part of training is learning to ignore that little voice - within reason. As someone cutting out walk breaks now, I always go through a self-check once a mile or so once my brain reaches that point that it's screaming to walk.
1) "How's my heart?" Is it beating too fast? too hard?
2) "How is my breathing?" Can I catch a breath? Am I breathing too hard? Too shallow? Do I feel like I'm getting enough oxygen?
3) "Is anything ACTUALLY hurt?" Harder one to answer because your legs are tired, something might be a little sore. But our gut knows the answer. Is something actually wrong? Am I actually in pain?

If the answers to all three of these have the cumulative of answer of "I'm okay", then I have no reason to walk. I know it's just my brain playing tricks on me.

Meanwhile, if the answer is "I'm not okay", for gosh sake's listen to your body! It's trying to tell you something and it will not be ignored. You can ignore it for a month or so perhaps before it will finally make itself heard, sometimes as a "You have a stress fracture" statement from a doctor!

When it comes to running, part of the fun of the sport for me is the absolute mental challenge. If your mental game is sound, you can do great things, and sometimes outperform your current training or ability. But if you're faltering in your mental game, you can come to a screeching halt.

Have you had a conversation with the little voice in your head lately during a run? Maybe you should!

Happy running!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What Happened to the Days When I DIdn't Have to Shower SECONDS After a Run?

I thought tonight's run was going to be so much cooler! Freak (aka typical Texas) storm with hail this afternoon dropped the temperature. But heat index still had low-90s temperatures by 7:30 pm with 65% humidity. So it ended up being ANOTHER hot run.

I can't remember having a sequence of runs like this where I've had the requirement of scheduling a run so as to shower just seconds after coming in from the workout. Why is that? Oh, yeah! It's because I never trained this hard or in weather this brutal before.

I was a runner of convenience in the past. The weather had to be just right (total Goldilocks) or I wouldn't run. I always ran "easy miles" - I was just doing distance to keep some miles on my body. Not really running too hard. What can I say? I hate to sweat!

But now I'm running with purpose (to break 2 1/2 hours in the half marathon) and, perhaps stupidly, doing it in the Texas heat of summer! And can we talk about the lost time? It's not just about the time spent out doing the runs. It's about the hour or so afterward of showering, washing my hair, drying my very thick hair, and straightening my naturally kinky wavy hair. Women should get bonus points, because most of us are making twice the time investment of our male counterparts for the same results.

3 mile tempo run tonight. Goal pace of 11:30 on each mile.
Beautiful perfection...
Mile 1: 11:24
Mile 2: 11:30
Mile 3: 11:25

Off to the chiropractor tomorrow to get low back spasm addressed and fix up my tender shins (from my tight Achilles and plantar muscles).

Happy Running!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Come On, Just Rain a Little

Today was considerably cooler with thunderstorms moving through the area. There was light rain on and off throughout the early part of the day. At 1 pm, while hubby could stay home while the toddler napped, I thought I would get in the speedwork I had skipped on Thursday when my training partner had cancelled on me and hubby and I thought dinner out together sounded more appealing! On July 1, on the Heels and Hills fan page on Facebook, I had challenged all of the fans to get 30 minutes of activity at least 3 times a week all month. I couldn't violate that myself (I had run Tues and Sat, so needed to hit workout #3).

Doppler radar still showed scattered showers and light rain through the area and it definitely look like sprinkles would start at a minimum.
Wouldn't you know it that not a single drop fell from the sky during my run! So instead I had this horribly muggy run at 83% humidity and 80 degrees. It didn't feel much better than the runs on hot days have felt! 1/3 of the way into Mile 3 I begged out loud, "Please just rain. Even just a little. If it will rain, I'll even throw in another mile." Where is negotiation/bargaining in the 5 steps of grieving?
I did 3 miles with a minute and a half walk break in between to recover. My goal was to keep each mile under 11:00 (my goal race pace for the half marathon is 11:30s). This was another great test in my psychological game with running because I desperately wanted to walk the last 1/3 of each mile but managed to not only not walk but also to pick up the mile's pace by 10 seconds in the last couple tenths of each mile.

This was the first time in I couldn't tell you in how long that I ran two days in a row. My thighs and quads are so sore because I'm working on not shuffling my feet, and I struggled the whole time today to avoid the shuffling, with success but definite uncomfortability.

In the end, proud of my run today!

Total with walk breaks: 35:19 which is an 11:05 pace
Average pace without counting the walk breaks 10:44

Mile 1: 10:37
1 1/2 min walk recovery
Mile 2: 10:46
1 1/2 min walk recovery
Mile 3: 10:49

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Crazy Fast 10K Training Run in the Heat - Self-Confidence Soars!

This morning, I met up with 3 friends to tackle a 10K (6.2 miles) training run at Chisholm Trail in Plano. We started at 6:30 am and it was already in the low to mid 80s with 60% humidity. Ugh!

One mile in we were already feeling how absolutely blazingly hot it was. We took a 1 minute walk break and did another mile. Another walk break. We never intended to go try to run a "fast pace" and just wanted to get the distance in with this heat. So the run a mile, walk a minute, do it again routine worked pretty well.

My Garmin was "broken" so I couldn't track pace or distance and had to rely on the others. Turns out that when your Garmin gets a ton of workouts on it, it says "batteries low" and can't record any new workouts. It looks like it's doing better now that I've wiped out some old workouts this morning and let it charge up some more. Good side note though for anyone else who didn't know this was something that could happen!

With the non-working Garmin, as we approached the halfway point, I yelled to the others (since I'd fallen slightly behind) to mark a lap on the Garmin when they finish but keep timing so that I'll know my time when I catch up to them at the end. They said there's no way I couldn't do this, that I could stay with it, I'd finish with them. I thought, no way, I just want to walk back at this point.

Mile 3.5 I take a Gu because I'm just tuckered out. Seems like it gave me the energy I needed on reflection after the run, so I'm glad I did that. Mile 4 my thighs and quads are starting to kill me - I've been working on not shuffling my feet when I get tired and the work of paying attention to pick up each foot is starting to show how weak my upper legs are because they are tired and sore. About Mile 4.5, Paula tells me there's no way she's letting me fall behind at this point and every 1/3 of a mile or so yells at me to catch up, and I do a quick 10 second sprint to get back even with her. It does the job of changing up my stride just enough to get me feeling a little fresher for that next segment of run.

We finish 6.2 miles in 1:12:13, an average pace of 11:39. I can't believe it. My PR for the 10K was set in January this year, only 32 seconds faster than today's run. That was an interesting 10K race because it was about 45 degrees outside (so ideal for running) and had an extremely fast runner come pace me in and push me the last two miles (thanks, Mark O!). So in 40-something degrees warmer and no Mark O. pushing me (sorry, Paula, but you're no Mark O., LOL), I managed to be only 32 seconds slower? Oh my gosh! I can't wait until it cools down this fall to see how fast I can be in good running weather!!! The goal of 11:30 avg pace to hit a 2 1/2 hr half marathon may be doable this year!

So, I just did the math, and if we averaged 11:39 pace and we walked a minute at the beginning of each mile that was included in that stated pace, then the pace we were actually running during all the running segments was an average pace of 11:13! Too awesome!

I know a lot of people who ran races this morning at 8 am. We finished at 8 am, and I'll tell you that I tip my hat to all those people. I kept thinking through the whole run that I could not have imagined starting the run at 8:00.

Happy Running!

Mile 1: 11:29
Mile 2: 11:40
Mile 3: 11:47
Mile 4: 11:56
Mile 5: 11:43
Mile 6: 11:34
Last 0.2: 2:04 (about 10:20 pace)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Running on Empty

How cliche! I'm sure anyone who has ever blogged about their running has used that post title. Add me to the list...

I was so bad about my body yesterday. I did not get my usual desserty espresso yummy beverage (my morning indulgence) and was sporting a pretty good caffeine headache by mid-afternoon. Add to that not eating for the first time in the day until about 2 pm, and only hitting about 500 calories total by the evening's 3 mile run, and I was setting myself up for failure.

A "cooler" front had come through and the temp had dropped 10-15 degrees this evening, but there was no breeze and the humidity was high.

I had planned to make it a 3 mile tempo run at about an 11:30 pace. I had to be dragged by my training buddy the last mile, but was able to pull a small kick the last tenth or two of a mile.

Not quite at the speed I was wanting but I had already set myself up for failure...
Mile 1: 11:36
Mile 2: 11:49
Mile 3: 11:29

Having not taken good care of my body, my energy level sunk after the run and my headache became much much worse. I ended up in bed by 10 pm and slept for 10 hours. Lesson officially learned!