Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Week 2: Track Workout

I'm sure this is going to sound silly, but it didn't cross my mind until tonight that track nights are going to be really warm. This sounds silly because I signed up for a program that lasts all SUMMER and for a month into fall and yet I didn't think once about how the heat was going to be a big challenge for me. I thought about this tonight for the first time because it high 70's at the track and quite a bit warmer than what I am used to. The heat is one reason why I prefer to run on trails. I'm not very good with heat but I am worse at waking up early to run, so somehow I am going to have to figure something out this summer! It looks like I may need to become a little more of a morning person to get all of my training in!

Despite the heat, tonight went really well for me. We did a re-test on our mile and I decided to not get caught up in the numbers like I've been doing. I didn't look at my watch and just ran at a pace I felt like I could maintain, but also pushed myself a little. I was pretty surprised because I didn't feel like I was going that much faster but my mile time was 9:22, which was 30 seconds quicker than last Wednesday.

One thing that I am slowly becoming prouder of myself for is my ability to pace myself over a given distance. Longer runs are still a little bit of challenge, but tell me to run a mile and I will run even splits (an even 400 meters). As training progresses I think one of the bigger goals we all have is to translate that to our long runs. This is why we have pace leaders. During the mile, I heard a few comments from other girls who initially passed me but then dropped behind a lap or two later and expressed how tired they were. The funny thing is, I started to feel tired after the second lap but then hit my stride mid-way through the third and all of a sudden everything felt so good.

My two 400 meter splits were not even at all this time. They were supposed to be at 80% and without doing the math I really am not sure how many seconds faster that should be. 15 seconds maybe? All I know is that I ran the first 400 meters way too fast (8:19 pace) and the second one too slow (9:17). My 800 meter split was at a 9:15 pace and since I was pretty tired that was okay. I know the purpose of this workout wasn't speed, but this big jump in progress in only a week makes me feel confident that in a month I should be able to run the longer runs with the 10 minute pace group.

I'm still trying to learn how to use my watch for a track workout. I have to turn it off auto lap (it usually laps at a mile) and then I need to hit the lap button after each set and stop the timer, so if I look down I can see what my pace is on the next set. Since my mile time tonight was faster than expected, I wasn't sure what 5% more effort would be, so I just ran. I'll do better on that next time!

I didn't run the marathon people's work out tonight. I drank too much water and felt a little sick after the mile but I still did fine. I have a tendency to drink too much water when it is warm and for shorter runs, that is bad news. I did have some left knee pain (same place as last year) towards the end too, so I jogged and then walked the rest of the two lap cool down. I did some hamstring and quad stretches and I'll make sure to give my foam roller some love later. I have a 2-3 mile hilly run tomorrow and I think I may go visit Forest Park for this one!

Time for some much needed rest and a little bit of netflix. I bought a pint of sea salt caramel gelato and you can bet I will be eating some of that too. Yum! Goodnight everyone!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Week #2 - Base Run

I started this blog as a running blog, mostly for family, some friends and for myself. I know some entries have nothing to do with running, but I'm trying to get back into writing more so I'm working on writing as much as I can about my training. I kind of like reading other people's blogs as a motivator, so hopefully some of this motivates someone else! :)

Today's workout was challenging but good. My main thing is I'm still trying to find the pace I should be training at for each % of effort and that's a little tricky. This type of thing is fluid though, especially at the beginning.

5/28/12 Workout, Base Run
10 minutes at 60%, 3 minute rest/walk
10 minutes at 70%, 3 minute rest/walk
10 minutes at 80%

At first I decided to try and base my 9:50 track mile as the 70% effort, because that is what the coach had asked us to run at that day. But then I thought about how I ran a 10:30 pace for the 4 miles and that felt good, so I tried to find a happy middle ground between the two. After some late night math in my head I just decided to guesstimate because all those numbers make this way less fun for me.

I'm working on warming up, because I know that makes running so much easier. Secretly, I've always been resistant to more than a 2 minute jog as a warm up because I'm worried it will take away my energy. Over time though I've found that a 1/2 mile jog or quick walk does the opposite and I feel so much stronger and better. So today I walked at a fast pace for about 5 minutes then broke into my slow jog for my 60%.

I was aiming for about an 11:15/mile pace for the first set and ran at 11:12 so that was pretty on target. After the first set I walked the rest of the 3 minutes to the track and finished my workout there. The second pace I was trying to go for 10:15 and I ran this one a little faster at 10:06. The third I was aiming for 9:20 and ran at 9:18. I think I did a pretty good job staying where I wanted to and my heart rate average for each set was on point (160's, 170's, 180's).

Overall it was a good workout. I walked the mile home and worked on some stretches for my knee. I have a love/hate relationship with my foam roller, but it's been the best investment so far for my quads, IT band and gluts. The pain is temporary but man, does that thing hurt!!

So, I only ran 2.97 miles total, but the point of this work out wasn't distance, it was about building our base. The cool thing was, I was pushing myself on the last set, but I still felt like I could keep going and I think that's a good sign that my fitness level is improving. I know my energy levels have been a lot higher too.

Tomorrow is cross training day so I'm going to try and make it to the pool again. I love swimming but I'm not very good at laps. Today I'm spending the rest of the day working and I spent part of this morning doing that too. No one else is logged into our system and I'm pretty sure no one is at work today. I've got a lot to do before tomorrow and even though I finished a bunch yesterday, today's work is different. I'm trying not to open my email much though because I really don't want to answer/read any emails. Back to the grind!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Week 1: Long Run

For the next 4 weeks, while session one of the training program is finishing up, we only have a few pace leaders. This is okay for now because the runs are short, but it means that if you're not in the marathon group then you have to turn around on the route and run back to the store on your own or with people in your pace group. It also means that there aren't as many pace groups represented right now.

Today my workout was supposed to be 3 miles, from Fit Right to the steel bridge and back. I was going to run with the 10 minute pace leader but there wasn't one, so I ran with the 10:30 group. I'm glad I did, because it was the perfect pace for where I am at right now. There were about 8 people in my group. 2 were in the 10k program and everyone else but me was in the marathon so I decided to stick with them and run an extra mile instead of turning back alone. The trek back to the store is a gradual uphill and I knew that if I wasn't with a group I would let myself walk a little, even though I knew I could run the distance.

Here is where I admit that I am not very good at running at a consistent pace. I have a tendency to run sub-10 miles but at my current fitness level I can't maintain that pace for longer than a mile or two so I end up walking for about 20 seconds here and there and then keep on running pretty fast. For 5k's this is okay, but it just doesn't work on a longer race or run. Today was the longest consecutive run without a little bit of walking since last September so I'm pretty proud of myself for staying on pace and not giving in to the walk.

4 miles at the 10:30 pace felt really good and while I was pushing myself on the gradual hill over the last mile, I know it's a pace I can maintain. I just have to keep telling myself that I'm strong enough to do this and remind myself to breathe correctly. Breathing deep plus good form can make a challenging run a lot more enjoyable and easier. I think after about a month of this training, when we get all of our pacers back, that I may be able to jump into the 10 minute group.

I need to figure out how I want to hydrate though on the longer runs. Even 4 miles of no water is a stretch for me. They have aid stations set up for us on the longer runs but I'm not sure how many weeks into the workouts that starts. For now I guess I'll use my hand-held water bottle. It's not too annoying, but it's a lot easier to run without anything extra! I look forward to the aid stations :)

Next Saturday I'm running the 5 mile run at night in Eugene with Kim and Cliff so I'm trying to decide what to do about training. The marathon training is 6 miles next week and the 1/2 is only 4. Either way that's more mileage than I'm used to running in a day! I don't really want to miss a day so early on though, so I may just jump back into a slower pace group.

Here is a picture of me at least 20 minutes after my run.


This is why I don't like pictures of me running - I look like a red melting skittle. I kind of look scary and I'm sure people feel bad for me, even though I'm feeling great. There was a photographer taking pictures of us for them to use in store related promotional stuff, but I really hope I don't make it into any of those. I also hope I don't see him again.

The session 1 marathon people ran their 22 miles last week and were running 18 or 20 this week. The 1/2 marathon people were supposed to run 13 miles last week but the course was off and everyone ran 14 miles. I'm surprised that this training takes us up to 13 miles! I will seriously be so proud of myself if I can run that many miles without stopping to walk a bunch - (a couple really quick water breaks is allowed!). Heck, I am proud of running 4 miles at the same pace without stopping today. I think this program is going to be a big morale booster! Yay!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Training week #1: Track Day

I joined Fit Right's "Get Fit, Live Fit" training program and that started up this week. It's a 20 week program that meets twice a week but your coach sets you up with a weekly training schedule to keep you on track on the days you're not with the group.

I've gone back and forth over which group I wanted to join. I thought about joining the marathon group but since I've been running more recently, I've started having little spurts of knee pain and decided it's best to stay in the half marathon group. It will be the right kind of challenging, plus I can work up to where I want to be and hopefully finish a half at my goal pace of 2 hours and 10 minutes at the end of this program.

We met for the first time on Monday for introductions. Each Wednesday is track night and each Saturday is our long group run. There are pace leaders on Saturday for every 30 seconds from under 8 minutes - 14 minutes, so this is a great program for any level you're at. The only thing that is important to point out is that this program is more about distance and less about time. For instance, if I just wanted to focus on the 5k, I wouldn't benefit much from being in the 5k group, because most of those people haven't run much at all and it's more about getting them to the 5k level by October 7th.

There are a few small things that I'm going to have to do to push myself a little harder than the group. I am running Lacamas again this year and that is at the end of July. It's a pretty challenging 1/2 marathon and I know I won't reach my time goal on that one, but at least this year I am a lot more prepared. I plan to incorporate a lot more hill training into my schedule so I can run the whole course, and that is pretty much my only goal.

I haven't signed up yet, but I think I am going to run the Eugene Women's Half again this year too. The course is really flat and it's about a month before the end of my program and would be fun to run again. This training session ends right before the Portland Marathon, which also has a half, but the half sold out before the end of last year. I wouldn't have signed up anyway because the course is boring.

As it stands I think I'll shift focus to a week after training for my goal. There is the Girlfriend's 1/2 a week later that I volunteered for last year and it seemed pretty nice. It's in Vancouver and I've heard the course is pretty flat. Flat is good but I always feel more accomplished with lots of hills! I think it's sells out so I should probably decide if I want to make that race my goal and sign up!

Last night was our first track workout and it was nice and easy. The work out was this:
1/2 mile warm up
dynamic stretches
1 mile time trial - run at 75%, conversational pace (my time was 9:50)
Run 3 x 400m at your pace with 30 seconds rest in between (2:28 was my target and I surprised myself by doing really well with staying the same pace)
Cool down

We won't be focusing on speed for at least 4-6 weeks and right now it's more about form and figuring out our pace. I don't really feel like the track is a great place to establish my pace though because I was about 40 seconds faster than I usually am when I'm running on the road with hills and about a minute faster than where I am on the trails. I talked to the coach though and he said I should join the 10 minute pace group for now and that as my fitness level goes up, I should move into the 9:30 or 9 minute group. 9 minutes would be awesome, but I've got a long way to go!

The other days of the week are all planned out with Friday's and Sunday's right now as rest days. Tuesday is a cross training day and I decided I will either bike or swim on those days. I'm really determined to stick with this program and I'm super excited that I only paid $95. For 20 weeks of training plus lots of support it seems like a pretty great price. There is always someone on site for physical therapy to work with us if we have injuries or want some advice. The coach is someone I feel good talking to about my goals and working with him on amending my training to accommodate my races and (hopefully I won't need to) my injury.

I'll be updating this blog at least once a week on how I'm doing. You'll probably see more updates at first. I'll try to bring a camera or something on some of the days to make these posts less technical and more about sharing my journey. Besides my goal of getting faster I will admit I am looking forward to staying on track and losing these last 10 stubborn pounds that I've wanted to lose. I'll go find an outfit and take weekly pictures or something because I always think it's cool to see changes like that.

I'm off work tomorrow and am looking forward to sleeping in! Anise has been with me this past week and we've been so busy with lots of activities and a big school project - plus her school starts when I am used to waking up, so I've had to shift my schedule about an hour 1/2 back, which is hard on me. Tomorrow we're sleeping in, taking care of boring house errands and then plan on going swimming. Saturday morning is my long run (it's only 3 miles this week) and then I was gifted two tickets to Million Dollar Quartet (rock n roll musical) for 2pm, so I'm taking Anise to her first musical! I will admit, I'm pretty excited. I love musicals. Life is good!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A month in one go (this is a long one)

May 6th, 2012

In the past month since I last updated I have done a lot but haven't been very awesome at updating. I'm going to try to cover the "highlights" - the good and the bad in one entry.

On April 1st I ran my third fastest 5k and I have no idea how/why I did this. I hadn't even run since the Shamrock run which was 2 weeks prior and while I can run a 5k without any real training (don't ask me how) I was pretty excited that my time was 30:55. Actually it was probably 10-15 seconds faster but the mat guy said they didn't pick me up crossing the mat at the beginning and I thought I stopped my watch at the end and didn't so I have no idea. Either way, I was proud.

A week later was Easter and the day before I started feeling really awful. I had a high fever (for me) and a super sore throat and was convinced it had to be strep because I had never had a sore throat like that one. I spent Easter in bed, sweating and feeling pretty miserable and probably a little sorry for myself. I went to the doctor on Monday and yes, it was strep so I was given antibiotics and started feeling better by Tuesday afternoon. Yay for drugs.

Since I had to change my sheets a lot when I was sick I started to think about the last time I had bought new sheets and besides the one I use for guests, I haven't gotten anything new since 2005. Yikes. I also had a striped duvet cover at one point but I think when C and I parted ways he ended up with it because I can't find it so I needed something to cover my comfy down comforter that I hadn't been able to use. Clearly it was time for new bedding. This is when my dad did something unexpected and pretty super dad like! He surprised me with a new sheet set and even a pretty duvet cover for my bed. It has been so comfy and I've been pretty much over the moon still about it. I still need to buy another set of sheets, I want a set of Egyptian cotton, but not with any sateen finish and think later this month or next month that will be my splurge. Isn't the cover pretty?

The next weekend I had Anise with me for the weekend and we took our second painting class. This time we painted Mt Hood and it was awesome. I have photos of both classes we took and really want to review the class and post progress pictures because it's such a cool place to go but I'm going to guess that won't happen for awhile so here are our paintings from both classes. I think they turned out fabulous. You'll just have to ignore Anise's expressions - she is in an "I hate photos" phase. Here is our Chat Noir Painting
And this is our Mt Hood Painting. I am not as excited about this one but the class was fun. We're going to do another.
During the class (Friday) Anise started coughing and feeling pretty bad so I took her home and she went to bed after she impressed me by taking a real pill since that's all I had. I couldn't take pills at 12! I had to drug her with two cough and acetaminophen pills so she could go to her friends birthday party the next day and I felt pretty bad about it. She crashed out after the drugs wore off and slept all day. Our weekend was kinda uneventful and I felt bad leaving her home alone for a run. She really just needed to be home and I got ahold of her dad early Sunday and he picked her up around 2pm.

The following week I submitted two claims to have my car fixed. One was from big dents on the passenger side and another was some scratches from someone in a parking garage on the drivers side. I was pretty impressed with Progressive's response time, as I had my car into the shop by that Friday morning. Sadly, I could only fix one side at a time because I couldn't afford both deductibles. It cost a lot to fix my car, I was surprised at how large the estimates were (2300 and 1400). It also took a lot longer than I thought it would and I didn't get my car back for 10 days, which I hadn't planned on. There was a lot of crazy rental car drama (they gave me a huge crazy truck at first) but ultimately they comped me two days so I only paid $42 for 4 days so I'm much happier.

I had Anise that Friday night and Saturday until about 5pm to make up for the past couple weekends of both of us being ill. I wanted to plan some cool Earth Day activity and go for a hike to check out some pretty wildflowers blooming. Well, the rental car issues meant we didn't get to go on a cooler hike, but we did drive to Powell Butte and walked about 4 miles in the sun on top of the inactive volcano and then in the woods. It was really pretty and super hot out but I forgot sunblock so I ended up with a bad sunburn. The sky was super clear and you could see for miles. Anise and I took a lot of silly pictures and some cool wildlife bird and caterpillar ones but here are two pretty panoramic type shots. The first one of Mt St Helens and the second highlights Mt Hood.

Living in the Pacific Northwest and being surrounded by such beauty makes me so happy sometimes. I never get over how amazing it is to see such huge snow topped mountains year round.

The weekend after was my friend Carmen's 03th birthday party and it was so wonderful to see her and also my friend Linette who I don't see a lot and miss. It was also Analise's wedding in Louisiana which I was sad to miss - and her pictures so far are just gorgeous. I also finally made time for a real run, but I have to admit, it was really difficult. Apparently hiking and lots of walks do not keep you in shape to bust out a 4 mile run in one go but I'm working on it. Since I was still carless I biked a lot that day (at least 10 miles) and felt a little better about my weak attempt at a run earlier that day. Carmen's party was a lot of fun and I danced a lot. I love dancing. I love Carmen and need to make an effort to spend more time with her.

So, I signed up for a running group/training session that meets Wednesday nights/Saturday mornings from May 21st - Oct 7th that I'm pretty excited about. I really want to meet people and also stay on track. I somehow got away with only running once a week (maybe twice on special weeks) last year and still being able to run long distance, so I figure if I run at least twice a week or more that I'll probably be pretty proud of how well I can actually do without half-assing it. I know I talk about running a lot but I am a big cheater and once I try to schedule something it stops being fun. I think I ran the Eugene 1/2 on sheer will and determination because it sure wasn't the four or five runs that I got in between the end of July-beginning of September. A lot of this past month has been me realizing and accepting that even though I love running I really need people to run with and I just can't keep training alone. I'm seriously about 10 times better when I am with people to motivate me so for $95 (I got a discount) I think this is going to be a well worth it purchase!

Two days ago, on Saturday, I was really excited because I had my first official acupuncture session with someone that I plan to go to long-term. My work voted yes on alternative care so for $15 I can see an acupuncturist, chiropractor or naturopath and it was the best news all month. I found someone who had amazing reviews near me and booked a two hour intro appointment. She was very attentive and asked a lot of personal questions to figure out the best way to treat me. Yesterday I was feeling a lot of anxiety and some pain from my TMJ so those were the main things she focused on.

Well, it turns out that I had a really bad reaction to the treatment sites from my shoulders up, and ended up in bed until mid-day today. My TMJ has skyrocketed and I hurt a lot right now. Boynn (acupuncturist) was really worried about me when I left and called me a couple hours later to check in on me. She told me that about 5-10% of people don't respond well to direct treatment on the sites that need attention and we're going to work with treating other sites that correspond to what I need. My neck has been so stiff that the muscles actually bent her needle on impact in one spot. I fully support acupuncture and alternative therapies so I was really sad that I had this type of reaction. I have been carrying around an intense amount of stress and can't afford a massage yet so I am really hoping that next week's appointment works out better for me. I am comitted to trying and really liked the acupuncturist I saw and am not concerned that it was her in any way. I know my body is pretty sensitive and I am not too surprised about this - it just sucks.

Today is my dad's birthday and I got to talk to him for a little bit before he started in on a delicious dinner Deborah made for him. Happy Birthday dad!! I miss my dad and mom a lot and am hoping to figure out a way to make a trip home this summer and I'd really like to bring Anise too because she talks about them (especially Saranac Lake) a lot. I looked at planet tickets though and they are in the 500 range, and that is just beyond ridiculous. I saw a really pretty timelapse video of the Adirondacks last week and it made me miss the night sky so much. I posted a link to the video below. Once you get to the starry night shots you will know what I'm talking about. It doesn't ever look like that here unless you drive a few hours away and go camping. Back home it's like that all the time. The Pacific NW is absolutely beautiful too but I do get homesick sometimes.

ADK time lapse project - FALL from ADKtimelapse on Vimeo.