08/30/09

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I’m feeling pretty good this morning! Man, there’s nothing like an 18 miler to ensure that you get a good night’s rest afterwords.  I’m even handling the stairs fine today. Just a twinge of soreness in my calves. My body is adapting to this! 

Ok….if I had ANY misconceptions that there is some secret bit of speed in me — they were quickly corrected yesterday, when at mile 13 my pal started running a 9 min/mile pace and I got a side ache! That’s the spot I encouraged her to “go ahead – enjoy the rest of the workout and I’ll catch up at the end.” When she zoomed off, I found I had to go back to about a 12 min/mile pace just to get the sideache to subside!!!! Somewhere in the 11’s and 12’s is really where I seem to belong on long distance runs.

It was a reminder to me, that I still have a long ways to go in terms of my training before I’ll be able to feel powerful like that for the last 5 miles! It definitely gives me something to look forward to in a year or two. I told my buddy afterwords how proud I was of her — and told her I was thinking about that old story about the tortoise and the hare. I’m pretty proud at this point to finally be the tortoise — someone who’s really barely moving along –but who does finish the race! I told her that knowing she’d been a tortoise like me at the beginning of her running career but watching her become more of a hare – but one who DOES also finish the race — just faster, was truly a cool thing to behold!!! I told her she was a total inspiration to me! 

Ok, so I have 5 weeks from TODAY until my Marathon!!!! I have my first 30 mile week this week!!!! (an easy 2 miler, speedwork of 8 miles total (where I’ll be testing out the “interval workout” feature on my Garmin for the first time), and a long, slow run of 20 miles next Saturday. Should be a good week!!!!! I’m excited!

08/29/09

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A couple more tidbits — I used the Camelbak and  it!!!!!!!! It was just perfect for my needs and I’m so glad I got it! AND…..my 18th mile was my BEST! I did it in 9:28! GO ME!

08/29/09

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Ok, got my second 18 miler done today with my awesome buddy, B!  Beat last week’s time by 37 minutes!!!!  I’m still a slowpoke – overall time was 3:42 with an average pace of 12:32 — but I’ll take it! I did feel tired the last two miles especially — but I’m so proud that I did it! Would you believe I got LOST twice on this run?! Only I could pull that off! I encouraged my buddy to go ahead and get some faster miles in the last 5 miles (this is her 3rd marathon and she’s SO strong and I didn’t want to hold her back! I’m so glad I told her to do it – because she went flying off with a big smile on her face!!) She was amazing to watch — just so graceful and quick on her feet!!! Someday I want to be like that too!  Well, silly me – once the path forked I coudn’t remember which way to take – so – being me – I took the wrong one!  I did manage to get back on the right path (I admit after calling my friend’s cell phone), but then took another wrong turn when I saw a bridge come up (I thought it was THE bridge that ends our runs) but I ended up on the campus of my alma mater — and completed the 18 miles there and shut off my watch — and started to walk….and walk…and walk — 10 minutes later I called my buddy and confessed I was a wrong-way runner AGAIN . Thankfully, I spotted her right then – I’d made it back! She’s thinking of throwing out bread crumbs for me next time so I can find my way back (or silly me – I can remember to use the GPS feature on my Garmin — which I feel pretty silly for forgetting to try today. )

We enjoyed soaking in the freezing river after the run — then went out to pizza and salads to celebrate!!! 

It was a great day! I’m so BLESSED to have this training partner!!! She’s so much fun!

08/27/09

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Ok, I’ve been googling all over the place today trying to figure out how to properly clean my new Camelbak! I seriously have issues with this company NOT including some type of paperwork with the $55 product so that the new owner knows what to put in it and what NOT to put in it, how it should look while you’re wearing it, etc…..

I DO like the pack! It’s super cute and I think it will meet my needs for hydration on long runs really well — but honestly — I think some of my concerns are pretty valid too. 

So….turns out, that most Camelbak owners do NOT use any type of sports drink in their packs!  What the heck? That would have been good to know in advance. And….it also would have created a problem since long distance runners can’t really get by without some type of fuel on the run besides water! Hmmmm —

Anyways… I know other runners use these things. My buddy, B, is one of them. And, I also know she’s dealt with the weird moldy things growing in her tubing at some point when she left her pack in her truck with some sports drink in it. I guess I assumed that it only happened from getting left in a car — but that it wouldn’t be a problem if you cleaned it.

So… looks like I’m going to have to buy a special little kit for cleaning the tubing and bladder and some type of tablets that fizz sort of to steralize the thing – and will have to do so every time I use a sports drink in the pouch! I’m fine with that –but would have loved some info upfront.

I also found that air drying the little bladder is way harder than you’d think. I found out online you can place a kids’ coat hanger inside the thing, then tip it upside down on a counter to help gravity pull out every last drip of water – and let the air circulate better inside. Mine is doing that right now.

I’m still not sure how to deal with the mouth piece. It’s some cool engineered thing that looks totally closed when you stare at it, but if you bite it, a slit opens up and you can drink (reminds this Mom of five of a sippy cup quite frankly – and Lord knows I’ve had battles keeping THOSE things squeakly clean!!)

Thinking further about the Camelbak has also brought up the pros and cons of my former waist pack that I’ve used for longer runs in the past year and three months that I’ve been running.
The pros:
1. It’s small and not very heavy.
2. You can fit your cell phone, shock blox, keys and water bottle all in it and still have room for a few extras like bandaids and a whistle to scare away bad guys and dogs (no, it doesn’t work, but, yes, I carry it.)
3. You can spin it around very easily to get to all said luggage and water/sports drink. You can even do this quite easily while running. Get thirsty, or hear your cell phone, and spin the pack, grab what you need and keep trucking along. (Just a note – you CANNOT easily get to the things inside your Camelbak without taking the whole thing off!)
4. It’s fairly inexpensive. My pack was around $20 15 years ago when my Mom bought it (mine is a hand-me-down) – and they still run about the same price.

The Cons
1. The waist pouch BOUNCES badly – especially with a full water bottle (mine is 20 oz.)
2. It rides UP or DOWN -but never just sits nicely at my waist. This has been a constant source of irritation to me.
3. It looks dorky!!! I feel like I’m wearing a fanny pack!!!!!!!!!!!  So, the coolness factor is zero!
4. They wear out pretty easily. Mine has huge holes now. The material is pretty thin and my Mom only used it one time before she gave it to me and I’d say I’ve used it maybe 35 – 50 times total – and it’s totally useless to hold anything right now.

So….. I’m still going to need to use my Camelbak several more times before I can give a full and fair review of it — but I do think that there are still opportunities out there to build an even better product for long distance runners – that CAN handle things like sports drinks without going all moldy and that will allow a runner to reach into the pockets without coming to a full stop and taking the backpack off.) I hope they invent it by the time my new toy wears out.

08/27/09

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Setting up your Garmin is loads of fun – and as my friend, B and I know – it something you’ll be doing over and over while you find out all the fun things it can do!!!!! Did you set up your display screens yet? When I run, I like to have pace, distance and time on one of the screens ( you can choose up to 4 things per screen) – and you’ll have 2 regular screens and 1 “running” screen –so you can scroll through the three screens on a run – which means you could be looking at 12 bits of data if you really wanted to.  I like to have “average pace”, “elevation” “grade” (if hills are on the workout), sunset time (if I’m trying to avoid the dark), best pace, etc. But, honestly, I change the screens pretty often depending on what I’m interested in. Sometimes I’ll even go to just one GIANT display of pace for one of the screens even. I know you’ll love playing around with your new toy!

I don’t use the “reset” button/lap button on my speedwork. That’s just a personal preference. I just do one workout and when I load the Garmin info into my PC later, it will breakdown the miles so I can see my splits. Some people prefer to make each segment of the speedwork a separate “workout” or “lap” by holding that reset button. I hate having to touch more buttons that I need to when I’m trying to be fast — but that’s just me.  Either way will work!

When I first got my Garmin, I set an alarm to go off if I got under pace. You could do that — but I warn you — on the cool down and warm ups it will keep BEEPING at you to say GO FASTER –  — My favorite alarm is the mile one! It beeps at me at each mile and I find that immensely helpful! You could also set up your Garmin with the virtual partner — so that you are “racing” a tiny stick figure on your watch. It’s a hoot to do this on a speedworkout and if you “win” the watch will sing a little song and the screen will say, “YOU WIN”.  (Just a note — try to make your virtual buddy a bit slower than you think you can go the first time. You don’t want to have a grudge against your “buddy” early on.) ha ha

Remember to warm up before you run hard for your workout tonight. Warm up should be easy — can even start as walking. Don’t forgot to cool down too. Enjoy your speedwork!!!

08/26/09

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SOMEONE is turning off my sun sooner than usual.  At 7:30 tonight I was driving home from the grocery store and saw both on my van temp thingymabopper and the digital sign on a local business that the temperature was about 98 degrees still. I put the groceries away, then got into my gear, filled up my new Camelbak for the first time and headed out for my 7 mile tempo run! I swear, I didn’t make it more than 3 miles and the sun was setting on me! I got my 7 miles in — but I really am either going to have to bite the bullet and run when it’s killer hot more or accept running in the dark more. As you all know… I love running at night — BUT — the truth is — I worry about being out there on my own when the sun is down too. Darn!

Anyhoo….. I have always been fashion challenged (Hey Sam! I’d be like a Poster Child for someone needing your fashion services – ha ha). Anyways… apparently my lack of fashion sense even affects me in an area I felt safe — sportswear! I tried out my new Camelbak tonight and I swear — either I’m the dumbest runner in the world — or the company really should include at least a small pamphlet or SOMETHING telling me how to adjust all the straps, where to hook the tube, etc.  I seriously think my pack is practical, cute and so much better than wearing my old waist pack that was forever riding UP on my body and was always bouncing around. BUT…. I just couldn’t figure out how to place the cool drink tube in a way that didn’t end up with a giant loop hanging off my right shoulder! I tried to adjust the tubing to it was shorter and then the drink part was smacking me in the face. I know these packs are all the rage and I know my running buddy has one that works just great — so I think it’s a “user error”.  I’m looking forward to seeing my pal on Saturday so she can have a good laugh at me — and then give a girl some help with the dang thing!

My tempo run tonight was supposed to be – 1 mile warm – 5 miles at 10:18 goal pace (tempo), then 1 mile cool down. Here’s my split times for the tempo part — 11:31, 11:14, 10:08, 10:20 and 9:46. It was pretty hot out there so I had a hard time getting right on pace at first (which is pretty common and totally ok since your body’s working harder in higher temps and you don’t want to push too hard and end up with heat stroke or something) — but as the sun set, you can see I was able to pick up the pace by mile 3 and held it pretty close for mile 4 and I was pretty darn pleased with myself, running in the dark for hitting such a sweet mile 5! 

I felt fine for the run, other than a tight right hamstring that was giving me some trouble.

It’s such a funny feeling when I run lately. I try my best to keep my pace on track with what the schedule calls for. As you can see – I’m still a newbie at this and often am erratic still. My buddy, B, however is amazing. She can just “sense” her pace and rarely looks at her Garmin. I bet by the time I’m preparing for my 3rd marathon (as she is) I’ll be better at reading my pace without constantly peeking at my watch. But, here’s the thing that’s nagging at me in my head —- I sort of wonder WHAT I can really do after this much training — as in — I’d sort of like to just get out there and RUN full blast sometimes —but so far I haven’t. I’m still sorely reminded of how suddenly my last injury came on – and how much time it caused me to have to sit on the side and watch everyone else running while I waited for my turn again. It’s crazy though. Sometimes I really want to just go FASTER to see what I’m able to do now. I don’t expect I’m the next Paula Radcliffe or anything — but I do think I’d surprise myself if I could really give it a go. On tonight’s tempo run, I never felt a side ache or even that I was putting on the gas that much. It was a good run and certainly a faster pace than I do in my “easy” short and long runs — but — it wasn’t that tough. Hmm…. maybe once this marathon is over, I’ll have a little fun at a local track or something — just to see where I’m really at. This might sound crazy, but I “think” I could do an 8 min mile — at least for that short distance — if I pushed myself! I’d sure like to try. Maybe that will be my “reward” after I’ve recovered from the marathon — a speed workout where I just lay it all on the line — and see what I’m made of. Hmm….

08/26/09

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I saw the 127 this morning as my wake up weight –without a long run beforehand!!! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!  What a cool and surreal feeling to be the weight I was before the kids!

08/25/09

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I thought I’d go ahead and reference that article just for fun.  I’ll say, first off, the article is intentionally full of tips that may surprise you. There are other parts of the article that highlight other common runner “truths” – like “always stretch”, “more speedwork”, and “more miles” and shares an alternate view. It’s kind of a light-hearted, but thought-provoking piece.

So, in the September issue of Runner’s World, the article is titled, The Rules Revisited and on page 58 is the “rule” –

Build Those Muscles — Conventional Thinking – Strength Training will make you a better runner.

Uncommon Wisdom — Skip the gym – you don’t run on your arms.

This part of the article quotes a top Kenyan coach, Toby Tanser, who says that Kenya has the highest concentration of world-class runners – and they don’t have access to gyms usually. He says that, “runner’s arms are needed only for balance, so an active lifestyle is all that is needed for arm strength, and that legs are best strengthened with running and plyometric drills.” He says, “… [strong] legs are like coiled springs; when they run they barely touch the ground” and “when a runner does a lot of gym work, it has a dampening effect on the springs. Watching runners go by in Central Park, I can spot which ones have gym memberships because the stride is out of line. Those who do nothing but run have pure symmetry because they have only strengthened the muscles needed for running.”

So…. does this mean I can live guilt-free and never lift another weight? No. I don’t think so. But, I did think it was an interesting take on things – -and it eased my lack of cross-training guilt a teeny weensy bit.

08/25/09

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Right now I’m following a marathon training schedule from www.runnersworld.com — You can make one there too by using the Smart Coach tool. You enter a race time that you’ve had and it can compute exactly how many miles per week (and per workout) and at what pace you should do them to reach your goal.  It’s pretty cool!

Each of my week’s workouts has some similarities. I run three times a week. One easy, short run (often 2 – 4), a medium distance speedworkout/interval workout/hill workout or tempo run (often 6 – 8 miles and the specifics are given by the smart coach), and a long, slow, distance – (this one is usually a mile or two longer than the one the week before — and every fourth week it is shorter (say going12, 14, 16, 7) — so that my body can recover before I take the next leap (in this scenario it is 18 after the 7 mile week.) I typically run about 25 miles a week at this stage in the training, although when I first started it was MUCH less since you need to gradually build up weekly miles incrementally. I follow the 10% rule for everything!!!! Never run 10% more in distance than the week before and never run 10% faster than the week before since increasing either too quickly is more likely to result in injury. And — never increase both at the same time. That’s why some workouts are speed workouts, for instance. In those, after a good warm up, you focus on speed – but the rest of the week, you hold back. You should not run all of your runs at the exact same pace. Vary things up to get the most from your workouts! 

Here’s my workout schedule for this week from my smart coach program to give you an idea:

Sun – rest, Monday – Easy Run – distance 2 miles @ 11:43, Tuesday – rest, Wednesday – Tempo Run – Distance 7 miles including warm, 5 miles @ 10:18, cool, Thursday – rest, Friday – rest, Saturday – Long Run – Distance 18 miles @ 11:43 – for a total of 27 miles this week.

As you can see — I have no cross-training at all. It’s still an area I stink at. In my favor though, I did just read a runner’s world article this month that said runner’s are usually more efficient and run more smoothly if they don’t hit the gym. In other words – the theory was — to be a great runner – you just need to keep running. The writer said gym buffs tend to overdo the upper body and it throws off the balance required for a track or distance runner. If you have a look at most elite distance runner’s you can see that they have stick-thin upper bodies, so I suppose there’s something to that. I’m not sure if I buy it entirely — but I’ll go with it since I’ve been too disorganized to get any real cross-training into my life.  Honestly, though — I do think I benefit when I’m working my core more with things like Pilates and I feel better overall when I do Yoga. My upper body is still pretty soft. So…..I admit, I am inspired by the rest of you gals here who seem to be able to juggle it all better than I do! 

IF – and that’s a big “IF” — I am up to par on race day, the course is favorable without too many hills, etc and the temperature is as perfect as can be — this schedule is supposed to prepare me to do the 26.2 at a pace of 10:53 on Marathon Day for a time of 4:45:45. I’m not expecting that good of a time, since that is only in “perfect” conditions and with me pushing it hard on race day. I’m actually planning to hold back the first half and see how I feel in the second half. If I feel good – I’ll go for that pace, otherwise, I’m actually expecting to be around a 12:00 or 11:30 pace for most of the race and I’m ok with that too.  This program, by the way, was created using my 10K race time in June where I did it in 1 hour exactly. So, holding about a 10 min/mile pace for 6.21 miles wasn’t too bad – but there’s no way I could hold that pace for 26.2 miles! This schedule kind of puts that into perspective. Everyone slows down when the distance is longer –well.. MOST of us! I hope that gives you a peek into what my workouts look like. And I’d encourage you to head over to www.runnersworld.com and look for the TOOLS menu. You’ll find the smart coach there. Try it out! It’s free and it’s seriously one of the best tools I’ve used for creating a safe, structured running program! Happy Running!!!!

08/25/09

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Fitting in my runs when I actually can find the time is one of the main reasons why I’m still on track with my training for this marathon. With five kids I really have to be flexible to get my workouts in on some days. My husband worries when I run after dark, so I always carry a cell phone when I run and try to stay close to home after dark.

My run last night was entirely in my neighborhood and there were many neighbors out walking dogs, riding bikes and such still here at 9, so I didn’t feel too worried.

Being attacked on a run by either a loose, angry dog or a rapist is definitely something I’ve thought about and have a fear of. I read the autobiography of the Central Park Jogger last year and it increased my paranoia about such things. Unfortunately, as you mentioned, bad guys come out in the daytime and at night. I could run on a treadmill in the safety of my home — but I’d feel that the “bad guys” had won since I wouldn’t be doing what I love — enjoying the beauty of nature with the breeze blowing through my hair as I run. And, sadly, even in my home, I’m not really safe. My own Grandmother was attacked and raped in her senior citizen apartment house when I was 10 years old – and we lived in a “safe”, small town.  Horrible things happen sometimes. I wish they didn’t.

I rarely run my long runs solo anymore since I’m out there for 3 1/2 – 4 1/2 hours. Dh feels I’m safer when I’m with a pal on those runs. I wish we women didn’t have to fear for our lives while getting in some exercise. I’m so sorry that your friend was attacked, but I’m so inspired that she got away!!!! How scary