Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New Year's Resolution Realized

One of my 3 New Year's Resolutions set at the beginning of 2009 was to break 32 minutes in the 5K. Note that I went into this year with a PR of 35 1/2. So I was really challenging myself to take 3 1/2 minutes off just a 3.1 mile course - not an easy task.

Tonight the weather was great. The cold front had come through, and it was in the low 60s. A nice change from my 87 degree, very muggy run the night before. This was my third day in a row to run. Note that I very very rarely run two days in a row. And so that means I never run 3 days in a row. And last night was a speed workout right before the lightning show that a thunderstorm brought with it.

I stayed strong through the run and while I got nervous throughout mile 2, I started saying to myself all through mile 3 that I thought I could at least get closer than I had all summer to that 32 minute goal, so I decided to go for it to get to that glorious total of 3.1.

I had switched again from the time screen to the screen that had distance so would not see my final time the second I finished. I saw 3.10 come up and I hit the start/stop button - the "Timer Stopped" note came up and I slammed to a stop, thought I was dying. I started walking back to the house and I flipped my Garmin GPS one screen over where Time was one of the displayed items. It said "32:00". What?!? I laughed... loudly... in the dark.... in the middle of a bunch of neighbors' houses... for about 2 minutes. And then I cried for about 20 seconds.

When I walked through the door, I showed my husband the time screen first, and then showed him the distance screen. He was so happy for me. We grabbed the camera to take a picture. I don't care if it was a PR or a goal achieved in a race or on a training run - it counts either way because IT HAPPENED. I think it's more awesome that it happened without a finish line, without a physical destination, that's harder mentally in my book, because I'm typically less motivated.

Mile 1 - 10:16
Mile 2 - 10:25
Mile 3 - 10:22
Last 0.1 - 9:40 pace

A 10:20 average, 32 minutes for a 5K distance! Today was a GREAT running day!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Back on the Horse... and an Important Discovery

After an absolutely horrible run yesterday, I needed a good run. And I got one!

Hubby and I reviewed the doppler radar around 7:10. Did I have time to do 3 miles before the thunderstorms got to us? Very important especially because I live in a residential development surrounded by open space and fields. We thought if I got moving right away, I MIGHT have time for 3 miles. We agreed that if it looked like it was getting bad outside especially fast, he and the baby would hop in the car and come and get me. Because I was afraid I could not get 3 miles done if I did small loops right near the house - and definitely not if the run was as bad as the day before.

Ugly weather in this time before the storm - 87 degrees and 61% humidity. Feels more awful after the last couple weeks of cooler or wetter weather to deacclimate from the hot summer weather. When I started running, I could tell in the first tenth of a mile I was feeling pretty good. Over the next 1/3 of a mile, a problem that had been bothering me for weeks suddenly became crystal clear. I had been having bad pain in the middle of my upper back, between the shoulder blades, midway into some of my runs. My chiropractor kept telling me I was probably hunching my shoulders. It never really felt like that while I was running though. Tonight I suddenly felt like I was overbending at the elbow, and when I relaxed my arms in the elbow-area (best I can describe this) and swung my forearms more perpendicularly to my body, it felt a lot better. I'm eager to try this for a longer distance and see if this change in form improves things.

I ended up turning around a little short of a mile from the house because I did start to get really worried about the weather. I could see quite the light storm. Running along the edge of an empty field with a drain basin on my other side, I was getting nervous and just ran hard.

Back at the house, I had done 1.78 miles. It was a fast run for me, but I was really sad it was over. I would have loved to see what I had for a full 5K. I was on pace for my goal for 2009 to break a 32 minute 5K. There will be other days...we'll see what they bring.

Total: 1.78 miles, 10:14 avg pace

1 mi: 9:56 pace
0.05 mi: 45 second walk break
0.73 mi: 10:19 pace

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Remembering Where I am and Where I have been

After my horrendous run this morning, I spent some time reflecting and here's where I finally came to and how I feel so much better.

My problem today was completely tied to my chronic condition (fibromyalgia coupled with groups of doctors diagnosing lumbar facet syndrome and osteoarthritis), no pace would have left me with a smile on my face. Every day I'm doing so much more than the doctors ever expected, and if I have a bad run every once in a while, I'm already winning, because that's way less bad runs than a ton in my condition. Many with fibromyalgia are never this active. Even the pregnancy gave me a lot of problems!

I've been sick since I was 13, but this month celebrates 9 years since I chose to stop taking any and all painkillers, completely managing my condition by mind over pain. Thank you to my running friends for the reminder that it was just one run, which is far more significant to me with what I've outlined. The days when the pain is worse are the days it's harder to remember that. Today's run was given to me today to remind me of how much more active I am than years ago, how much more active than I was ever supposed to be, where I have been, and why I'm where I am now - and why a bad run is still success!

What do you do when your confidence is shattered?

I had the WORST run I have had in many months this morning. I've been having a flareup of my fibromyalgia condition which means every muscle is super tight and super sore (simplest way to explain it). So I did NOT want to run this morning. I slept in until 9 am, then forced myself to put on the running clothes, and made it out the door a little after 9:30.

It was 76 degrees and 88% humidity, but you couldn't have convinced me that it wasn't the same 95 degree weather from a month ago. I guess the last couple weeks of cooler weather and rain had de-acclimated me from the heat. I had walked out the door without a purpose for the run, whether the purpose is in the pace, the method, or the distance. I decided to just try to do a few miles at an "easy" pace. But my legs were SO heavy and each movement was painful, and today it felt like nothing was easy. I had to use a 1 to 10 scale assessment of my cardio and respiratory difficulty during the run to decide what was easy. Because my muscles were just not having it. My legs were dead, I negative self-talked the entire time, I was just miserable.

I could have stopped at 2 and felt like, "Well, a year ago I would have just not even gone out for this run." But I kept changing my route on the fly so that I couldn't be back to the house until right around 3 miles. I did 3.1 miles at 11:21 avg pace.

My confidence has been shattered after 3.1 miles of bad self-talk. You hope you can run long enough to think yourself out of that bad place in your mind but I couldn't today. I have a few running goals for the year and right now they all seem unachievable.

While Heels and Hills and Him Half Marathon next Sunday is a small race compared to some I've tackled in the past (1300 versus 4500 of the DRC Half) and this is a low-key event, there's still lots of little details to handle in the next week. But inbetween the work I have to complete today, I'm going to find some time to think about my goals for this fall and how I'm going to achieve them or alter their timeframe, and I think that reflective time will hopefully help restore a lot of the confidence I felt like I lost today.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Run in Bad Weather = Great Day to Do Speed Work

Yesterday's run was thwarted when my husband had to work late. This morning's attempt at getting that run was thwarted when my toddler (who just started school a week ago) was crying a ton and having a horrible day so I went to pick her up from school early to have some extra mommy comfort time.

So tonight I was determined to get the run in. But husband wasn't home at a great time then I had to get the dinner I'd made out on the table, give Marissa a bath, and get her to bed. Somehow managed to still make it out the door about 7:40.

In the hour before the run, I didn't look up the weather and I didn't look out the window. I didn't want to know what it was like outside. I didn't want any excuse to cancel the run.

Stepping outside it was a steady rain. I thought, "This won't be so bad." Then I notice the wind. The first half of the run most of its at my back and there's still a little light outside. I had decided to do mega-speedwork and try something I hadn't done before. Shoot for 9:30 pace for 3 minutes then recovery walk for 1 minute and then repeat. Try to do this at least three times.

I'm staying on track, better than 9:30, and then I hit the turnaround and thought "This was a really really bad idea." The wind has really picked up and it's right in my face on the way back. It's gotten dark. At times I can't see anything. It feels like icicles stinging my face, like I'm being attacked the entire time. With the headwind and how heavy my feet feel after sloshing through heavy puddles, I feel like I'm running through oatmeal. I can't seem to stay on 9:30 pace or read my watch half the time so I give myself a little allowance against the 9:30 goal with the whole "oatmeal running" "severe weather" thing.

I finish and come through the front door of my house looking like a drowned rat. And I'm really happy with what I did. AND I need to learn where the setting is to turn on the little indiglo light on my Garmin GPS so that it stays on, because I can't imagine my form was great having to constantly hit the light button to check pace or how close I was to the next start or finish of an interval.

Weather check right after the run...
69 degrees

1.44 miles total in 15 minutes = 10:26 pace

1st interval - 3 minutes - 9:32 pace
1 minute walk break (17:16 pace)
2nd interval - 3 minutes - 9:18 pace
1 minute walk break (17:01 pace)
3rd interval - 3 minutes - 9:41 pace
1 minute walk break (14:16 pace)
4th interval - 3 minutes - 9:56 pace

Monday, September 14, 2009

Now There's a Real Runner

I ran three miles Saturday, and a 5K race on Sunday. Both times in pretty good rain. For some reason, humidity is just a killer for me. Many think the rain is refreshing, but I am just sweltering in any of my normal running clothes. Hence, within the first half mile of both runs I was down to my sports bra with my shirt tucked into the top of my shorts on one corner, flapping off to the side of me as I ran.

It's so funny to run in my neighborhood passed by cars during my Thursday and Saturday runs in pouring rain. Here I am, a kinda chunky girl, in a sports bra, in pouring rain, running through the streets. And my neighborhood's main street has those little reflector bumps separating the two lanes. And as a car passes by you hear "bump bump bump bump" for just a second as someone is obviously looking at the pedestrian on the sidewalk they are passing and swerves a little into the other lane. I notice that on runs in the neighborhood with friends even in nice weather. Everyone's just a little nosy and curious. You know there's a moment of "Hey, is that a neighbor I know?" And in just a sports bra and shorts, I think you just LOOK like a more serious runner, so the other common reaction happens from them of "Wow, there's a real runner, out in the pouring rain like it's nothing!" In the car, they don't know if you are going 6 min/mi or 14 min/mi, they don't know if you are miserable or enjoying the weather - they just know they aren't out in that rain and wind and you are. And most of them would NEVER be out in that.

So as I hear that "bump bump bump" in the road, I smile. Because that's when you know, whatever your finish time or pace in today's run, today you are ONE STEP AHEAD of so many out there.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Test of Will, Not a Test of Speed

Today's race day was not given to me for a test of speed as I originally had thought when I planned to run this 15K race - it was given to me today as a test of will.

As the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) North Texas State Rep, I was headed to today's Fort Worth Runners Club (FWRC) Labor Day Run anyway because the 15K was chosen as the 2009 RRCA Texas 15K Championship so one of my duties is to go as an RRCA ambassador to the race and then present the awards the RRCA supplies for the championship. I was lucky enough to be able to go there the night before and stay in a hotel a mile from the race site - made life so much easier. Pals Paula and Sarah came along, all of us signing up for the 15K.

I wanted to run strong this morning, I wanted to reach for a PR (current is 1:50, an 11:50 pace). But just days before, I had the chiropractor's assistant break down a ton of knots I had in my upper thigh for the past two years (since Marissa was born). And I was in a ton of pain Saturday and covered in bad bruises. I talked to the chiropractor and kept doing all the right things he confirmed I had been doing - a little running to help move fluid, ice, tons of water, etc.

And after several back-to-back days of small runs, my legs were just hurting some in the places they normally feel tweaked, on top of the massively sore upper legs.

But the piece de resistance was getting 3/4 of the way to Fort Worth to suddenly realize I hadn't packed my Garmin GPS. Slight panic! There's not a run I had done in the 6 months of owning at Garmin where I hadn't had it with me - I had definitely become hooked. And I was worried my body didn't know the right pace to go because I had been doing speedwork non-stop for the last three weeks.

The morning started in the mid-70s with 88% humidity and no breeze. It was definitely going to be a hot day. I spent time before the race "mantra-ing" myself up - just see what I have today, break the crutch of the Garmin, my body knows the pace, etc.

After we start, I'm doing okay, but nervous. I have a tendency to go out fast and use the Garmin typically to make myself slow down.

The first couple miles are uneventful except for the terrain change! We move to what's either a small gravel trail or crushed decomposed granite trail - you can tell I don't run any trails. I always hear people say they prefer that to concrete or asphalt, but I'm feeling like it's about 10% of the way to running in sand - each leg pushoff is a little harder, I'm raising my legs just a little higher, that sort of thing. Plus with no pads in the balls of my feet (those disappeared back in 2005), I have problems generally with uneven terrain - I'm feeling every little pebble and it's making my feet hurt.

The aid stations along the entire 15K route have WARM water, the gatorade doesn't seem very diluted, and there are no portalets the whole way. Mile 3 was where I came up with the day's NEW mantra explained at the beginning of this post - "today's race was given to me not as a test of speed, but as a test of will." I would repeat that phrase about 50 more times on the route. Around mile 4, you can see people coming back, but, while we are running along the river, those coming back are running up the levee. And what enters my mind - somehow we have to get all the way up there!

Mile 5 I'm starting to feel pretty miserable. You're running right by everyone faster than you at this point of the partially out-and-back style course. I can tell I'm getting in a crabby mood. I'm normally quite the cheerleader during a race and will cheer on anyone I know...but today something's definitely off, and I'm thinking, "I'm tired and I am not wasting my energy on boosting up other people today! Besides would most of these people cheer for me if I didn't cheer first?" Like I said, I was just in a bad place. But not but 10 seconds later, Jill Norman passes me (and notices me first as I'm in that bad place where I'm not even looking to see if there's someone I know) and yells "Go Libby!" I smile and return a "Go Jill!" and then I'm all better. Thank you, Jill, for snapping me out of it!

At the turnaround they have iced towels. Oh man, that felt so good. It was just SUCH a hot morning. I'm now on the "back" section of this "out-and-back" portion around Mile 6, and I realize there's hardly anyone behind me! Okay, I know at an 11:30 to 12:00 pace I'm not Carl Lewis, but I know a lot of people that I'm faster than. Well, none of them came to this race. I end up 1257th place out of 1294 according to the results website (although I think they are including the 5K in that, which isn't really fair)

Mile 6 is where I started getting a little lightheaded and dizzy and had to alternate running and walking the rest of the way. There's a girl I had seen throughout the race, but in miles 5-7, we leapfrogged each other a lot. As I finished Mile 7, I decided that I wasn't going to let her beat me, and I got in front of her and every time I heard feet on gravel behind me, it got me to stop whatever walk break I was or to run a little faster. It was a good psychological game to play since I didn't have my Garmin, and it worked.

I was pretty proud of the last 1.3 where I felt like I ran a lot of it and at a decent pace. I finished with a 1:53:35, a 12:08 pace, and also 3 1/2 minutes from a PR.

I went to the awards area and presented the RRCA awards, and then we all headed home. No PRs for anyone today, but a good running day to learn a few lessons, at least for me.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Being Reflective

I've played around with tracking my paces for each run in DailyMile and RaceNation and they're hidden in the Garmin. So I finally installed the Garmin CD so I could download my runs.

I really wanted to see how my pace per mile in the initial 8 weeks of summer training was differing from my current goals.

Here's a comparison of mile paces before and after NYC Half. Since NYC Half, my goal has become to reset my natural pace to sub-11 minute per mile pace (probably a 30-50 second pace improvement per mile!).

Post-NYC Half runs:

Note none of these runs are mile repeats, meaning unlike my speedwork prior to NYC Half, everything is run continuously, no 1 minute walk breaks between miles to recover.

Run #8 - Sep. 2 - 2.5 mi - 11:00, 10:56, 10:42 (pace for last 0.5)
Run #7 - Aug. 31 - 3 mi - 11:00, 10:59, 10:31
Run #6 - Aug. 30 - 2 mi - 10:48, 11:00
Run #5 - Aug. 29 - 1.8 mi - 10:26, 10:15 (0.8 mi)- 3K leg-Plano Pacers Relay
Run #4 - Aug. 27 - 2 mi - 10:56, 10:46
Run #3 - Aug. 25 - 2 mi - 10:54, 10:52
Run #2 - Aug. 23 - 3 mi - 10:57, 10:52, 11:00
Run #1 - Aug. 19 - 2 mi - 11:01, 11:03 ( at this first run since NYC Half, I didn't force myself to hit right on 11's, but could have. I'm counting it in the streak! )

Pre-NYC Half Marathon on August 16:
Note the speedwork listed as mile repeats included 1 to 1 1/2 minute recovery walk breaks between each mile. Everything not mile repeats is definitely at that 11:30-ish range!

Aug. 13 - 2 mi - 12:16, 12:15
Aug. 11 - 3 mi - 11:29, 11:25, 11:28
Aug. 2 - 10.35 mi - 11:45, 12:27, 12:14, 12:46, 12:34, 12:57, 13:02, 11:50, 12:46, 18:26, 18:52
Jul. 29 - 2.4 mi - 10:03, 10:25, 10:13 (mile repeats)
Jul. 28 - 3 mi - 10:54, 10:48, 10:44 (mile repeats)
Jul. 25 - 5.28 mi - walking Heels and Hills mini-event race course, course marking
Jul. 23 - 3 mi - 11:18, 12:08, 11:48 (recovery week)
Jul. 21 - 3 mi - 12:04, 12:23, 12:30 (recovery week)
Jul. 18 - 9.3 mi - 11:19, 11:36, 11:43, 11:08, 11:28, 17:47, 11:21, 11:19, 11:30, 10:49
Jul. 16 - 3 mi - 10:42, 10:40, 10:45 (mile repeats)
Jul. 14 - 3 mi - 11:15, 11:37, 12:56
Jul. 12 - 4 mi - 11:22, 11:20, 13:04, 13:19
Jul. 11 - 6.2 mi - 11:37 avg pace (Garmin was misbehaving)
Jul. 8 - 3 mi - 11:24, 11:30, 11:25
Jul. 5 - 3 mi - 10:37, 10:46, 10:49 (mile repeats)
Jul. 4 - 6.2 mi - 11:39 avg pace (grrr.Garmin problems. Grrr)
Jun. 30 - 3 mi - 11:36, 11:48, 11:28
Jun. 27 - 3 mi - 10:47, 10:49, 10:35 (mile repeats)
Jun. 24 - 3 mi - 10:35, 10:55, 11:24
Jun. 22 - 3 mi - 10:37, 10:38, 11:11
Jun. 20 - 6.1 mi - 11:35, 11:23, 11:22, 10:59, 11:15, 32:04
Jun. 17 - 3 mi - 10:56, 11:23, 12:10
Jun. 15 - 2 mi - 9:58, 11:39
Jun. 14 - 5 mi - 11:22, 11:51, 11:06, 11:11, 12:12
Jun. 11 - 4 mi - 10:55, 11:43, 12:11, 12:39
Jun. 8 - 2 mi - 10:06, 10:58
Jun. 7 - 5 mi - 11:29, 11:33, 14:04, 11:22, 11:15
Jun. 3 - 2.2 mi