Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cascade Lakes Relay!

For the past 5 years there has been a relay that starts at Diamond Lake and ends in Bend, Oregon. It travels over the Cascade mountains and elevation and heat are both certainly concerns! There are 12 people on a team split into 2 vans and each person runs 3 legs of the course. The total course is 216.6 miles. This averages out to 18 per person but it certainly is not split up evenly and depending on the difficulty and distance one person could run 15 miles and another could run 23.

Corban ran this relay for the first time back in 2010 and when he came back he raved about the amazing time he had. I'll admit I was a little jealous of the awesome bonds he made, the memories, and new running friends in Portland. He made it sound like one of the most challenging things but certainly one of the best experiences he's had, even still to this day. Last year I thought about it but I wasn't sure I was ready. This year I know I am ready.

I put my name down on the Cascade Lakes Relay (CLR) board looking for a team on Monday. It was very last minute but I know people drop out. The registration fees for a team are very expensive (over $1,000) and on top of that there is the cost of renting two vans, paying for two volunteers (charity), and any accommodations. Someone from a team called "Last Place Champions" contacted me and asked me if I wanted to join their team. They've placed in the top third the past few years so while they aren't stressing that they are competitive, they are certainly fast. I was very honest about my comfortable pace and also made it clear that it needed to be okay if I ended up running slower 11 minute miles. I think he (Teal, the team leader) was swayed because I train a lot in Forest Park and the hills/elevation change is at least something more than someone who runs flat routes. I also am running between 25-30 miles a week now (last week I hit 30). All he asked was that I chip in a little for gas, so I'm pretty excited!!

I had some hesitation because of my knee after last night but it's a lot better now. I did bump it today stupidly at work which hurt a lot, but with R.I.C.E. I'm confident that I'll be feeling top notch by Friday. I was also very thankful because my boss had no problem at all with me asking last minute to take the time off. I have to take vacation time before I've earned it, which I don't like to do, but this just feels like a really awesome opportunity/experience and I honestly could really use getting out of town for a bit.

The entire course is at a really high elevation. I'm not used to that and I know that will be difficult, but most people in Portland aren't used to running at 4,000+ feet. There are some legs that have a pretty steep elevation change over a few short miles and since it's a relay someone is always running. There are also some longer (7-9 mile legs) that are relatively flat or slightly downhill.

I will be bringing my camera and certainly post an update or two when I get back! I'm going to make some granola bars and some other easy to eat foods to bring for the van I'm in. I think I'm in Van #2, which wasn't my preference, but that's okay. We're picking the legs out of a hat at random so I am going to print out the possible legs I could get tomorrow to have an idea of what I want, what I'd like, what I can do and what I just won't attempt. We can trade routes :)

I am driving down to Bend. I could carpool, but I will probably drive back with Corban as he is on another team that seems a little unorganized and it would be easy to find him at the finish. I guess I'm also choosing to drive because I'd also like to have some control over when I am able to leave to head back. The drive to Bend is pretty gorgeous. I do have a place to stay there overnight if I want aftert the relay on Saturday. We're meeting in Bend at 5pm on Thursday, picking up the vans and then driving the 3 hours (?) to Diamond Lake to camp. Teal is going to fix us a big pasta dinner and we'll set up camp and try to get some sleep. The first person starts at 8:30am.

Since I'm in Van #2 I'll have quite a bit extra time to do nothing... which kind of sucks as it means my first leg will be in 85-90 degree heat (dry) but oh well! I'm buying extra sunscreen and bug spray tomorrow. I'm packing 3 changes of clothes (plus others to stay warm at night and comfy clothes) along with the rest of the items on the list. I'm told that most people bring too much stuff so I don't want to be one of those people.

I've never driven over the Cascade Range and only seen it at a distance so it should be pretty spectacular to take it all in while running and cheering other people on! This team ran the relay in 30 hours last year, which was an 8:33 average pace, which I find to be crazy fast. I'm okay with being the slower one on the team though and whatever I lack in speed I'll make up for in cheerfulness and my attitude. I've been more and more into team camaraderie and being in a group since I've been training with the GFLF group so I think this will be a great weekend.

As mentioned before my first leg will be mid-day Friday. The second leg will probably be the middle of the night Saturday (2am?), and my last leg will be sometime early afternoon on Saturday. The CLR website is down right now (exceeded bandwidth, yikes!) so I can't post any links but I promise to document it well! I don't know anything about my team members yet and I have a feeling that only about 1/2 of the team really knows one another and the rest are odds and ends or friends of friends, but either way when you spend 40 hours together riding in vans, camping, running, sweating, and stinking, you're bound to come home with some good stories and likely some friends!

I won't be running or doing anything at all until Friday! No cross-training, nothing. I am taking the time off to rest up and tomorrow I'll be making my list, buying some Ignite gel (the fig ones, I now have used them twice and I love them!) then packing and making some simple food for the trip! Tonight and tomorrow I plan to get a lot of sleep. I don't have to leave until at least 1pm on Thursday.

Wish me luck! If you've ever run in a relay and have any tips or essentials that you think I should bring let me know. I'm already covered with most essentials (headlamp, clothes, gear) but any advice or tips are welcomed!

General Update - Week #11 of training

I have a bit to write about so I'm going to write two separate entries. This first one will be a general update and the second one is going to be more exciting because it's about my upcoming weekend!

Last week's track night was hill repeats and it was pretty tough. I managed to get 9 in before coach called time. My watch showed that it was just shy of a 1/4 of a mile for each up/down set. I think I did pretty well, as my times up the hill pushing it were 7:45 - 8:30 minute miles and the time down was between 8:00 on the speedy downhills and about 10:30 on the slow recoveries (even and odds).

Thursday morning I went for a run in Forest Park before work. I was supposed to stick to a flat route so I picked the Leif Erikson trail from Germantown road, but it turns out that there was a bit more elevation than I remembered. I think in the 4 miles I covered close to 300 feet. I know I was pretty tired from track night so while my pace wasn't too slow (a little over 10/min) I was hoping to run quicker.

Saturday was my longest run yet. I'm in new territory as each week it will be progressively longer, which is kind of exciting. Our route started at Fit Right (the running store) and went up Thurman hill to the Leif Erikson gate (this is from the end of the trail) and up to mile marker 5.5 then back. Total route came to about 14.3 miles. The first half is almost all uphill. There are some parts on the trail where it evens out and others where it's pretty steep. Total elevation gain on that run was close to 900 feet. I ran up around 11:30 pace (11 on flatter parts) and down about a 10:15 minute pace. This is the long, slow run and I hit about 10:50 average, which is faster than I should be training, but I felt good.

Saturday night I got to see the whole Lyddane clan and it was great! I wish I could see them more. I realized that it had been a really long time since I had seen my Aunt Trisha or Uncle Tim! I am sad that I won't be seeing them again on this trip, but I hope they all have a great trip. We had an awesome dinner full of delicious Lebanese food and it was a short and sweet visit.

I recovered from the run pretty quick and went for a recovery run with a friend on Sunday. We ran a little faster than recovery pace and a little further than I meant to go but I felt good. We went 3 1/2 miles.

On Monday I ran with a friend again on Wildwood and a sprint up a hill (Old Sprinville Rd) for what turned out to be 4.7 miles. I'm not sure what happened but I somehow hurt my left knee (the "bad" one) at the very, very end of the trail and it was pretty darn sore last night. I elevated, iced it and took an ibuprofen and figured I'd see how I felt this morning. I needed to figure that out because of the cool and exciting thing I'm going to talk about in my next entry!

From Sat-Mon I ran 22.5 miles and besides the knee thing (I'll give it away, I'm going to be ok!) I feel really, really good. My recovery time is seriously awesome now. I love it! Alright, now it's time to start writing the post about my upcoming weekend! This post was more about getting it all down for myself, but also to keep you all updated too!

I've also joined dailymile, which is a website where you log your workouts and your friends will post comments, tips and just general "you are awesome" comments. I love the positivity. Everyone seems very friendly and most of the people are motivating and inspiring in their own ways. I've spent the past couple weeks on there making friends and I know they are a bit more interested in hearing the details, so that's another reason why I haven't been posting in great detail :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Some thoughts on fueling for long distance runs, weight fluctuations, and quick update on this week!

This entry ended up a lot longer than I meant it to be, but it's been nice to write down as I've been digesting a lot of info recently and wanting a place to organize and merge it. It has a lot to do with the body and science, which I find fascinating, so hopefully it will be interesting or informative to some of you!

I've been doing a lot of reading of fueling up for longer runs and finding a lot of interesting information about training your body to use fat reserves during training by not taking in carbohydrates on long runs, or doing doubles (which is running twice in one day). Running doubles every other day vs running every day doesn't give your body time to fuel up in between. It's a lot like when you're strength training, you tear muscle fibers and then after rest and repair you're able to endure more weight. In the case of running you're depleting your glycogen stores, which are typically good for about two hours of running, and then teaching your body to run on fat.

One reason why this is interesting to me is because it gives the body a strong advantage during race day when you will be taking in carbohydrates (gels/electrolytes). It also eliminates the "bonking" factor that runners experience on long training runs if you teach your body to use fat and not rely on the gels and clif shotbloks throughout the run. One common thing that occurs during a run is that your digestive system shuts down/slows down as your body is focusing its energy on keeping you moving. Cramming sugars down there every 45 minutes might not really be beneficial if your body isn't able to absorb them as effectively.

I wrote a bit about this last year when I was cutting back on carbohydrates but since I have been focused a lot more on training I've been reading up on this quite a bit more. My daily carbohydrate intake is not very high. It's certainly under 100 grams except for a couple days before a long race and usually after the race because I have cravings.

Right now I'm struggling with associated weight gain during my training. It's kind of silly really, because I have certainly gained quite a bit of muscle in my lower body and I feel very fit. I have lost some belly fat and my body has certainly changed. I know it's not about the number on the scale but in the past it's always been my "go-to" to gauge success. When the number was lower, I was doing well. When it was higher there was something going on and I needed to reassess my diet. It kind of became habitual, so it's still very difficult to step on the scale and see 148 lbs (about 5 lbs more than when I began training). It started to even out a few weeks back but I'm back up again.

One big reason for gaining weight during marathon training is your body starts to store up glycogen for those long runs and along with that it stores water. Certainly this accounts for a couple of those pounds. I've gained muscle, but that would likely not be much weight, just denser area's in certain muscle groups on my lower body. I've read that increasing carbs before a race will also change weight, and I do notice this trend. It's only been a couple days since my half, so likely this is why the scale was so high today.

I've been around 145-145 though since I started training, and while my main goal isn't to lose weight, of course I'd like to. I would like my racing weight to be more ideal for my body size for optimal performance. I'm very conscious of my diet and it's very healthy. I don't eat processed foods. I rarely drink. I do eat meat but minimal amounts and it is mostly for protein. I eat a good portion of protein. I bring my own lunch, try not to eat out, and I think at least 90% of my diet would be considered whole foods. I'm not entirely sure what wouldn't be considered a whole food: greek yogurt and the small amount of dairy I consume I guess? I should probably educate myself on these things.

Apparently it's pretty common to gain weight during marathon training. I'm not exactly training for my marathon quite yet, but I am running the marathon mileage during the weekend. I've decided to stay with those long runs just to see how I feel, as a sort of taste for what I will be experiencing next February and March. The harsh reality is that I will be training for this marathon on my own and it will be cold and rainy in Portland at that time. I'll be with the training group, but when they are doing 12 miles, I'll have to separate from them and go run an extra 10.

There is another thing that I have read that is intriguing and sparked my interest, as it would mean I could train with the group on Saturday's next year and then get the extra mileage in on Sunday. I've read that breaking up your long mileage over two days can work, but the main thing is that you need to run more miles than you would in that one day. So if you planned to run 22 miles on Saturday, you could instead run 12 on Saturday and then 14 on Sunday. The goal is to focus on running a higher percentage of those runs on target marathon pace. This says that you'll end up running 60% of marathon pace miles vs 40% on that one long run.

There is also evidence that if you can train your body this way, that you will certainly recover faster (2-3 days vs 4-5 on the 22 miler). During the week after the long run you would still be running, but the runs would need to be slower as your body is still recovering. If the long runs were broken up you would have the opportunity to get a quicker run in there and not feel so fatigued. Well... it's an interesting idea that I'm going to run by my coach at some point. Maybe not for awhile as I don't need to really think about this training for quite some time.

Quick update on my workout's this week:

Monday: I had the day off and just felt like getting out there so I walked 3/4 of a mile and then felt like jogging so off I went. 12 minute miles was about what I was aiming for since I had just run that half and my legs were sore, but my body felt good running around 11 minutes. I walked a little in my run, watched some squirrels, chatted with some people and just took it easy. I ended up going a little over 4 1/2 miles - more than I meant to go.

Tuesday: I went rock climbing with Katrin at the Portland Rock Gym for about 2 1/2 hours. We had a lot of fun and are going to make climbing a regular Tuesday night activity. This is good for me for cross-training! I worked on 4 routes and completed 3. The 3rd on that I was working on was a pretty difficult stemming and lay-back route and I spent at least 30 minutes on it. I was sweating and I was determined, but once I got about 3/4 of the way up I was just done. The last route was an easy one and I completed it, but I knew my arms/back were toast because it did not feel easy at all. I'm pretty sore today, but it feels so good to get a bit of upper body conditioning in as well.

Tonight is track night and we're doing hill repeats on Terwilliger, that hill that I mentioned running up about a month ago on my 11.85 mile run. The hill is right behind the track and I believe we're running 100 meter hill repeats. I have no idea how many we're supposed to do.

My coach also wrote down that we're going to do a re-test of our test mile. It's pretty hot right now (83F) so I'm not feeling very confident about my test mile. I think we're also doing the test mile after the hill repeats. This isn't an all out balls to the wall mile, this is a 75% effort mile, but in 80 degrees that test mile won't be very spectacular.

I will keep everyone posted! My health is good and I am feeling well. I'm still not sure what happened last week but it hasn't re-emerged, so I think that is good news!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I did it! Lacamas Lake: The Sequel. Smoked the course!

I set myself another personal record! I couldn't believe it myself even! I beat my time at Sauvie Island by 2 minutes and 28 seconds. On such a hilly course (my elevation gain/loss was 600 something feet) vs Sauvie Island (known for being flat at 48 feet) I am feeling really proud of myself.

There was a little set back when I got there though. Deb wasn't pacing the 2 hour and 15 minute group, she was pacing 2 hours and 30 minutes. So I was feeling pretty bummed out but Jason and Joelle are both very nice and I'm at least familiar with Jason. They started out way too fast though and even finished 2 minutes faster at the end, so after about 2 1/2 miles I trailed back a bit at a pace my body could handle and kept them in sight.

The event isn't a really big event and that's probably one of the reasons why I like it. I think there are a little under 600 people who ran the half marathon. The booths aren't that exciting to visit after the race and when you're sweaty, trying to stretch on the ground in the middle of the track means you're getting fake turf stuck to your legs. Gross. (I opted for my foam roller at home)

Here's a picture of the general area after the race and a picture of the arch/finish. Fit Right is the local running store that is the main partner with the training group I am in.

I had someone take a before and after shot of me but I have to admit that I look pretty much exactly the same. The only way you'd be able to tell that I was finished was because I had a medal. Today I chose my lucky purple shirt and running skirt that has purple flowers on the side. Color coordination is very important while running!

Miles 2-4 were really tough for me. Besides us starting out too fast, at about mile 3 there are two hills that really get your calves burning. They aren't very steep but they're enough to wind someone. I kept my pace steady and made sure to breathe. I used the downhills to recover and mile 5 is a sweet, sweet mile because it is pretty much all downhill. It was during mile 5 that I told my brain to quit the negative self-talk and I started thinking positive. I knew I could do this and I knew I was trained.

At the end of the race there is a huge 150 foot climb over the course of about 1/2 a mile. It's really tough and I power walked. Of course my coach Jeremy, was there cheering me on. He said, "you got this, Brie! You've trained for this. Trust your gut!" It made me feel good, but it didn't make me run. I knew that once I hit the top of that hill I was going to book it and my last 1/4 of a mile ended up being a 7:45/min mile pace. I ran hard and I finished strong. Once I looked at my watch and saw that I did so well I just couldn't stop talking about it.

Jeremy came back to the track and celebrated with myself and Shannon, another girl who is my training group. I hadn't really met her until today and I think she runs in the faster pace groups, but I ran with her from mile 6 1/2 to the end. She was right in front of me on the trails and pushed a little harder on the hill, and came in with a time of a few seconds shy of 2:16. It was her first half so I think we were both feeling pretty awesome.

I asked Jeremy if he would take a picture with me so you can sort of meet the man behind all the training I'm doing! I talk about him a lot and while I'm doing the workout's, he's just awesome. My coach is a tri-athlete.

So there you have it! I ran a hard race and I ran it strong! My time was over 33 minutes faster than it was last year on the same course. I would call that pretty darn impressive. I had such a wonderful day! I would love to have taken pictures of the course because it is beautiful. The best part was that the weather was 60 degrees and cloudy. Humidity was 80% but it didn't matter because of the temperature.

Oh! And this year they gave out finisher medals for the first time! I snapped a quick up close shot to try and show it off!

Everything about this morning was perfect. I had some hard mental barriers to get through out there but I got past them. My calves were burning after the first few hills but they loosened up. I celebrated with people that are important to me and it was such an uplifting experience. And best of all, I totally conquered that course today with a fire inside that wouldn't let up.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

April 28th, 2013

it's on!

I went to check Big Sur's page about 10 minutes ago and saw the race is already 72% sold out. Registration opened this morning! My gut said SIGN UP so OH MY GOSH, I'M DOING IT!!

They have a count down on their website! 286 days!

Bixby Bridge by Doug Steakley

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Week #8 Long Run & Other News in Happy Bullet Points

I'm going to try and bullet point these a little since I have a lot to cover! Lots of awesomeness will be contained in here!

*That watch (Bia!) I've been excited about?? It was funded! I kept refreshing the screen all last night and with 4 hours to go they hit the 400k goal. I can't tell you how awesome that is and I'll be rocking the watch next April and the t-shirt in about a month. A huge mass of runners came together and I felt so inspired watching the pledges fly up each time I hit refresh. I am a proud backer of this project.

*My insurance company sent a mobile glass company out to clean up my car and replace the glass while I was at work on Friday. I may have mentioned this already but the whole experience was wonderful. The girl who took care of it was cheery and she even gave me a set of brand new (nice) jumper cables that someone had given her as a tip. She didn't need them and I had mentioned something about how mine were so cheap that they didn't work. It was incredibly nice of her and now I have a set of working jumper cables!

*Today's run was 12.85 miles and our route included a few significant hills (520+ elevation gain total). I ran with Deb, my favorite pacer and while she usually is the 12 minute pacer we tend to average closer to 11:45. The last time I averaged 11:30 because I went ahead. We are still lacking a consistent 11-12 minute pacer though and after our group talked it over we all agreed 11:30 was a pace everyone was comfortable with. At mile 4 1/2 the half marathon ladies turned around to head back to the store and it was just myself, Deb and Laurie. Laurie dropped back on the next big hill and Deb and I ended up running solo for the rest of the run until we met up with Leslie (mentioned in more detail below!) around mile 11.

Deb is motivating, gives some helpful tips and I enjoy running with her. Over the past few weeks I've started to be able to hold a comfortable conversation through the duration of the runs and I've noticed it helps the miles fly by. We kicked up our pace to about 11 minute miles and chatted most of the way. Our overall time was 2 hours and 25 minutes, which was about an 11:10 pace. I feel more confident about Lacamas Lake next Sunday after all the hill workout's I've gotten in this week.

*I met someone in our pace group today that I am going to run with next week at Lacamas! I wrote her name down so I wouldn't forget it and I'm fairly certain it is Leslie. I'm excited to have someone to run with for a bulk of the race. A say a bulk because she was hitting the wall hard today and she hasn't run the course before so besides my warnings, she doesn't know how significant some of the elevation changes are.

*With that in mind though, it sounds like the pacers we run with on Saturday will also be running/pacing the race for us. After today's hilly run I may aim for 2:20 and if I need to go slower, no problem.

*I bought a hydration/fuel belt a couple weeks ago and have taken it on two long runs now. I've been fussing around with it quite a bit but after a few miles today I think I found my "sweet spot" for placement and it didn't bother me too much after that. Having the choice between water in one bottle and electrolytes in another plus enough room for whatever kind of gel or shot bloks I want to carry is helpful. I like having access to hydration when I feel like I need it vs only at aid stations. My coach, Jeremy, was on the route in two locations today which was very cool!

*Katrin, the nanny upstairs, is into rock climbing! We're going to go together on Tuesday night after work. If all goes well it looks like I may have a cross-training buddy for at least one day a week. My landlord is gone until about 9:30 on Tuesday night so it's just Katrin and I here. So far I think she seems pretty cool and I'm excited to start climbing again. She hasn't been in awhile either so I think we're both on fairly equal ground.

*I ran a little over 26 miles this week! This is my longest week yet (only by 2 extra miles) and I put in a lot of work. I feel really great with how far I've come.

*Tonight Aundria invited me to a block party about 20 blocks from my house. Her band was performing, along with some others, and it was a lot of fun. I'm really glad I went because I got to hear her solo song and having her own song in this band means a lot to her. Plus, there was a ton of food! (I was good; for sweets I only had one regular brownie and a mini-cupcake. I ate salad and veggies for the rest for my dinner). It was nice to see Sequoia and Chris too. I don't know Chris very well but I felt like I got to know him a little better tonight. Sequoia and I had fun dancing at the end of Aundria's set.

*Apparently after my race on the 4th, Sequoia told Aundria that she thought she could totally run a half - ha ha! I love kids. Next year Aundria said they will sign up for the Shamrock 5k, which is really awesome! Aundria isn't very interested in running but I think she might try a 5k or two and see how she feels. I'll forward her the Couch to 5k plan as it would be something she could do with Koi too. Also, if Sequoia takes to running, Anise will have someone closer to her age to run with.

*Yesterday I received the title to my car in the mail! Together my car and I will fight evil car villains for many years to come. (It's only at 61,000 miles) *happy dance* I own my car! Yay!!

*I'm almost 100% sure that I am going to register for the Big Sur Marathon which is April 28, 2013. If I'm going to run 26.2 miles I want the race to be spectacular. I say this now, and maybe I will change my mind, but I don't have any desire to be a regular marathoner. I've given the Portland Marathon some thought since I've been training this season and have the opportunity to stay with the marathon group runs (& the race isn't sold out yet) but I think I would be pretty miserable with that decision. I know the whole course and while it's exciting to cheer people on who are running the race, I just don't know if the Portland marathon is for me.

I've been doing a lot of research on Big Sur since I read about one runners account in her blog. The course is really challenging but it looks like it is one of the most scenic and pretty races. They also have a grand piano player on the course at the top of one of the peaks. I would bring my camera to this race and just breathe in the whole experience.

Registration opens tomorrow. I'd love to get Erin on board with me for this one. She seemed interested and I think sharing this with her would be something we'd never forget. The time limit is 6 hours, and while there are certainly some flatter spots and downhills, there are some steep climbs so that is a little concerning but with proper training I think we (I?) can conquer that. Something in my gut just says, "this is the one" and I certainly have the time to mentally and physically prepare myself and still give myself some downtime after this season.

Besides a few set-backs this week, along with a pretty stressful work week, I am very, very content right now. Things are falling into place in many aspects of my life (in positive ways) and I don't know how to describe it besides saying it just feels good.

Tomorrow I hope to sleep in past 9am. I hope to make myself a delicious waffle, work on my garden, read a little, relax and then later watch the season 5 opener of Breaking Bad. I'm SO excited for this! I'll probably watch the last couple episodes of season 4 if I have time tomorrow. Tonight after I post this it's all about the kitten cuddles and some blissful sleep. Goodnight friends, family and any other followers!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Week #8 - Hill repeats at 6am > hill repeats in 90 degres!

I love early morning runs but getting myself up out of bed before 6am hasn't become much easier. The only thing I can focus on is that I know I'll feel amazing once I finish, even if my run is less than glamorous, because how many other people are even out of bed then? It's cooler and quieter in the morning. Nothing is rushed and it's pretty motivating to see other people out there on the street/sidewalk with the same goal in mind.

Today though was an amazing morning run. I woke up at 5:45 and got right to getting ready. I'm sure it was easier because it was Monday and I slept in until 8:45 yesterday. I also had a running buddy and I know that helped get my butt out there (and also through the harder parts as said running buddy is quicker than I am).

Lacamas is coming up in less than two weeks and has an elevation profile that is not for beginners. Of course, this was the first half I decided to run last year. I was unprepared and humbled but I'm back this year and while my time won't be stellar, I at least know what to expect and have a reasonable goal. (Smoke last years time by 20 minutes -- not too difficult as it was 2:51).

This week is supposed to be another cut-back week but instead I'm full-on training. I'm being smart about my runs though and for the most part I just know I need to devote a couple runs to either hill repeats or run a rolling hill course. Today was hill repeats and Thursday will likely be the rolling hill run. Living so close to Forest Park is a blessing and is usually my go-to for hills. Last year I trained a lot in the park and while my training was nothing like this year, it was absolutely the hill runs that helped push me through the Eugene Womens Half (a flat course) and finish 20 minutes faster than Lacamas. The crowds at that race helped a lot too. I had never experienced that many people cheering along the way. I wonder if that might be what the Olympics feel like.

Today's pace (not including the hills) averaged out to 10:06/mile. It's good for me to run a little above my comfort zone. We ran 1.75 miles, did 6 hill repeats (it averaged to about a mile of hills) and ran 1.83 miles back. Our last mile was at a 9:26 pace and I've been working hard on increasing my pace at the end so uploading my watch data and seeing that pace meant I did a little happy dance.

Besides sharing these stories with my family and friends (and maybe some other runners who stumble across this blog) it was mentioned that I was super detailed (oh, I know) and I've been reflecting on why I write down so many darn details.

1) It's a great way to gauge how well I'm doing
2) It keeps me accountable - I know you all would miss me if I didn't post for a few weeks
3) And the biggest reason: it serves as a memory bank for me. I'm pretty sure every runner has one. Those tough moments where you surprised yourself and made it through? Those moments are good to take note of because when I'm dragging I summon forth some previous run or race and tell my brain to turn off the negativity. I can do this because I'm strong and I've done this (better or longer) before. Memory banks are key.

For me, writing about a really good run right after I've finished is just like waking up and committing yourself to write down your dreams. Throughout the day the details of the dream fade and after a stressful day at work, it's easy to forget how great we feel in the moment of the runners high. I try to capture that moment.

And with that I shall be heading off to work! I hope everyone has a lovely week and I'll check back in on Wednesday regarding track practice. I haven't even looked at what we'll be running this week.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Week #7 - Saturday Run - 7 miles never felt so easy!!

The training program I'm in is backed by a local running store and we always start at the store on Saturday long runs. Usually we start in NW Portland, which is super convenient for me as it's a 10 minute drive. We meet twice in Vancouver and I passed on the first one in lieu of running a longer run in PDX, but I am looking forward to the next visit there. I like running in Vancouver. Today though we met at their new location in Tanasbourne, a part of Hillsboro.

Don't get me wrong, the store is nice but it's not exactly a quick 10 minute drive. I found myself there in 20 minutes though since I was playing some dance music on the way over. I've gotten so much better about waking up early and I'm usually pretty darn peppy. Oh, and I totally bust out dance moves in my car.

Today we didn't have a pace leader for our group and since I was the only one with a Garmin, I turned into the pacer. Who knew that I am actually pretty good at cheering people on, giving some tips (that the other pacers have passed along to me!) and keeping us all on track? It was pretty cool and in some way I think having others rely on you a little bit is motivating. It's been so great to start recognizing the other ladies in the group and learn names. It was a smaller group today but surprisingly three of the other ladies in my group were all running the half distance so I had running buddies the whole time!

The full run today would have been a little over 13 miles and I have to admit that at a slower pace I think I could have covered it. My coach told me I needed to stick to the 7 miles today and I can jump to one long last run (13-14 miles) before Lacamas next Saturday. (I can't believe Lacamas is in 2 weeks! Time for some grueling hill runs!) I felt a little bad because there was only one girl in our group who was covering the whole distance and she didn't have a watch plus she had to run solo after 3.5 miles (our turn around point).

7 miles at an 11 minute pace felt so easy and good! I am also starting to be able to tell who is not sticking to the program because you can see people struggling. I am not judging at all though. Training takes up a lot of time, so I know how that goes - that was me last year and the thought of trying to tackle 7 miles consecutively even 2 months ago was a little unsettling.

One last neat thing: When I walked in this morning, my coach gave me a huge high five and it felt awesome. What a great start to the morning! :)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Foot Traffic Flat - Sauvie Island Recap (pictures!)

Yesterday, thanks to my mom, I ran the Foot Traffic Flat Half Martahon on Sauvie Island. Even though the island is only a 15 minute drive and boasts many U-pick berry farms in the Summer and an infamous corn maze and pumpkins in the Fall, I had never been out that way. Sauvie Island is indeed an island, just a little bit North of Portland and consists mainly of farmland and a select few residential homes. Living on Sauvie Island would probably be pretty awesome!

The race started really early. Like, I had to wake up at 4am early in order to leave my house in time. Even though it was a short drive I took heed about the warnings about how important it was to get there much earlier than the race page suggested. Their website said to arrive at the bridge at least 45 minutes before the race (6am), but a lot of race veterans recommended arriving by 5:15. Even though the race was capped at 3,000 participants and they offered a shuttle bus for 1,000 (sold out) apparently traffic gets backed up to the bridge pretty fast. The bridge is 2 miles away from the start of the race. I arrived at 5:20, crossed the bridge just fine and only hit minimal traffic about 1/4 mile out from the Pumpkin Patch, where the race started. About 10 minutes later I looked back and saw cars for at least a mile - yikes.

The sun was just starting to come up when I arrived, but you could still see the moon about to set over the west hills. I was in a really good mood and took a lot of pictures because I was excited.

Here is a pretty picture of the moon I captured after I arrived.

I cropped out the 20 port-o-potties right below the sunrise to make this photo look a little more glamorous. The sunrise was pretty spectacular!

As the sun came up I took a few more pictures of the moon and the pumpkin patch area. Roosters started crowing and I could hear animals but I wasn't sure where they were. It was pretty chilly so I headed inside a barn and well.. yeah, I found the animals! I spent the next 20 minutes trying to get a perfect picture of Smorsey the bunny (easy) then Skippy and Stubby the goats (not so easy). I love goats. I want goats someday.

I don't for sure which goat is which - but I kind of think the first picture is of Skippy because he was jumping around everywhere and was certainly the hardest to capture.

It was at this point that I remembered I was at a race and should probably take pictures of race stuff, or at least have someone take a picture of me. I found someone who looked nice and she took my picture. This is the outfit I was excited about running in on Saturday for my taper run. I loved the shirt so much that I did my laundry on Sunday and planned to wear it again for this race. I also really like this skirt even though the shorts aren't built-in and I have to wear a pair of my own. Happy bright colors was my theme!

I was pretty excited because the Brooks bus was at this race. I run in a pair of Brooks shoes and that orange shirt was also a Brooks shirt. They had a raffle and everyone won a prize. I was hoping that I would get lucky and win something more phenomenal than a sweat towel. (I won sunglasses)

Here is a picture of the Brooks Bus! After the barn I stood inside the bus trying to stay warm (it was pretty chilly - about 50 degrees) and chatted with some people with the same idea as me.

I met a guy who was running the marathon that had an unfamiliar accent. He found me after the race while I was looking at the results to see how I did and it made me feel good that he remembered me! Turns out he smoked the course and ended up with a sub-3 hour marathon! Some people are just amazing.

Alright, I bet you really want to know how I did, huh? Well, I kicked some butt too! I beat my previous time by over 12 minutes and I finished in 2 hours 19 minutes and 32 seconds.

This is a huge testament to just how hard I've been training these past 6 weeks. Just a month ago, at the Moonlight 5, I ran my first consecutive 5 miles without any walk breaks. Yesterday I ran my first 12.5 miles without a walk break. I was SO close to running the whole race but I'll get there. The direct sun warmed up the course really fast and I needed the 2 minute walk to drink some water before the final hurrah/sprint to the end.

My pace also was pretty amazing. I ran a fairly solid 10 minute pace at the Moonlight 5 and for this race the average pace on my watch was 10:36. Not bad for tacking on 8 more miles! Only the last mile was over 11 minutes, all the rest ranged from 10:20 - 10:45.

I had decided to run with the 11 minute pacer and then break out on the last 4 miles if I had the energy. It turned out that the pacers were a bit more incognito than usual, so I was the only one running with the 11 minute girl. She told me that she usually runs about 30 seconds faster (or more) and after a few miles I told her that we could sustain our faster pace because it felt really comfortable.

Along the route I kept noticing a camera crew and people in suits and ties driving around in a fancy car. I had heard the announcer before our race tell us that someone was trying to set the world record for skipping a half marathon but I didn't think I'd ever see the skipper. Well, I did! It was kind of exciting at first but this was at mile 10 and about where I started to picture the end and how great it would be to eat endless amounts of strawberry shortcake to get through the last 3 miles of heat. It's not easy to lose yourself in thought when someone is skipping.

The most annoying part about the skipper though was that he stopped to change his shoes and the second pair was even louder! He also didn't stop at aid stations so we would run past him and then I'd slow down to grab water, throw 1/2 of the cup down the hatch and then use all of my energy to try and sprint past the skipper and catch up to Jen (the pacer). Finally, after what felt like a really long time he passed us and skipped his merry way to the end. His time was 2:27. Even though I crossed the finish after him, Jen and I started 11 minutes after the gun time because she was waiting for the restroom - so our unfortunate run in with the skipper was just bad timing. I don't think she was annoyed like me though. I expressed my frustration internally and still made sure to smile and give big thumbs up for all the cameras!

Aundria and Sequoia came out to cheer me on at the finish. It was so nice to see them! She was able to take a picture of me right as I crossed the finish and you can tell by my expression that I was giving it my all! It is not a flattering picture, but I don't take flattering running pictures. Only skinny people do. At that point I had been sprinting for the past 200 meters and even though I walked for 2 minutes I made up for it because I only finished 1 minute after Jen.

Here is another picture that Aundria took immediately after I finished. I was a mixture of super excited, dripping sweat and catching my breath. It was a good moment though.

I grabbed a water, went to sit in the shade and recover. A few minutes later I got up to collect my medal (I almost forgot!) and eat some amazing strawberry shortcake. Aundria and Koi had to go but not before they took one last picture of me sporting my well-deserved strawberry medal!

What a day! I had an amazing time and it was such a confidence booster for myself to run this race and finish with such a huge time improvement. Considering I only had two long runs (9 and 11.8) miles around an average 11:30 pace before this race, I am amazed at just how much the body is capable of when there is adrenaline and mental support (thanks to Jen!) involved. I have no doubt in my mind that I will meet my goal time by the end of the 20 weeks and maybe I will even smoke it! I'm only 9 1/2 minutes away -- I know I can do it!

I know this is getting long but I wanted to include the email from my coach I received after I wrote him about how I did. I also thanked him for being such a huge motivational factor as well as guidance - because really, while I know I'm doing all the "work" this program has been so positive for me. Gosh, I'm tearing up a little. He wrote me back and said,

"That is freakin AWESOME!!!!

Thanks so much for the note, super pumped for you...Don't ever forget that you are the one putting in all the work! I have nothing to do with this, all you lady! Congrats, looking forward to your continued success :)"

I keep saying this but support is huge for me. Thanks to everyone for sharing any of this journey with me. I'm excited to get back to my normal training and I know that this race was a huge confidence booster and probably what I needed to get past some of the mental blocks I have been having. I hope everyone had a really great (safe) 4th of July!!

Sauvie Island Half quick update!

I took a lot of fun photos (not so much of the race since I was running) but a friend of mine took a couple of me too I do want to post, so I am just here to report that the race went really well. Details later!

I feel pretty great today. In fact, I woke up at 7am because the 4am wake-up the previous day kind of screwed up my system! I would like to go back to sleep though, I took the day off but I don't really have much to do and I'm starting to feel restless so I have no idea how I will busy myself today!

The lettuce and mixed greens in my garden barrels is super close to being harvested. I could pull it now but I have some greens already and don't want to waste happy barrel greens. I need to start some seeds of the mixed greens and buy more lettuce starts because an empty barrel would be sad.

I will post updated garden pictures soon! Everything is looking great and growing big! I found some mold growing on the inside of the herb barrel which is unfortunate. It's under the soil level. I read about spraying down the barrels with vinegar before filling them, but they all seemed fine. It's not a lot of mold, but it's discouraging, especially since all I had to do was buy some 99 cent apple cider vinegar! You live and you learn. I'll monitor it and figure out something.

My landlord called me at midnight last night to tell me my inside car light was on, which was really nice of her. It was a miracle I was still awake though! She also said they are going camping from today to mid-day Saturday so I am thrilled. It's like I have a whole big house to myself, even though I live in the basement. The door is unlocked though so I can do some laundry.

I managed not to say too much about my race so the post on it will be super (and I will be motivated to write it)!!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Birthday Celebration and Tapering

Last week I sent out an email to a small handful of people asking them to join me on Saturday for some drinks/dancing. Apparently a week is way too short a notice for most people, haha! Whoops. I still had a lot of fun with my best friend, Aundria. I settled on a bar that I used to go to but since I haven't gone out in ages I had no idea if it was even okay anymore -- it was. Or at least after the many drinks I consumed I loved it.

I am a rare drinker. In fact, this year I've had three occasions where I've been drinking and that seems like a lot compared to the last year. All three of those were very justifiable happy occasions (bachelorette party, friends bday, my bday). There's nothing wrong with drinking a little but it's just not really my thing and I feel slightly less good about myself after a night of drinking. Honestly, I'm just a wholesome, healthy person now. What have I become? Haha!

So, I'm officially 29. It's not really that exciting because I know 30 is the "big year" and 29 doesn't really feel much more than 28. I rather liked being 28 actually. Just the age is a good age because it adds up to 1 and I like the number 1. I don't really buy into numerology that much but I am a 1 and I think that's cool so I do weird OCD things like program my alarm clock to wake me up at a time that adds up to 1. Maybe I am a little weird.

Alright, back to running stuff. Wednesday's track night went well and I pushed myself pretty hard. My coach has this little spreadsheet with paces we should be able to run at in order to reach our "goal" half marathon time. Well, I love spreadsheets and numbers and you can be sure I was on target with every.single.split. Like, right on target. I know I'm not supposed to be at my goal speed yet, but I sure am practicing everything I need to practice in order to get there. It's not that lofty of a goal really --a 2 hour and 10 minute half marathon, which is only a few seconds shy of a 10 minute pace.

Thursday I bonked on my 4 mile run and only ran 2.25 miles, but originally I thought I had only gone 2, so the extra 1/4 mile made me feel a little better. There is this satellite (well, probably multiple ones) that my Garmin picks up outside my house that is always wrong. My first mile always seem longer and I can't quite figure out what is going on until I look at the mapped route. I went back and mapped all my routes from my house on a website and the distance is almost always 1/4 of a mile longer than what Mr Garmin says. This has never happened before and it's really annoying.

Saturday I ran with a partner instead of the group because the group was doing the really big hill run up to Forest Park again. I wanted to do something flat and my coach advised me to run 5 miles to taper for my half on Wednesday. Well, the route yesterday was certainly not flat. It was pretty and I set our pace faster than what my long runs should be at (10:58 - 11:58 according to the amazing spreadsheet) but I set this pace before I realized the (paved) trail had some rolling hills and climbs. The pace I set was 10:45 - 11 minutes/mile but overall we actually ran it at 10:46. I was proud of myself even though I felt like I might kill my running partner who told me it was flat. I know hills are good and it's not like they were massive, but 5 miles with some elevation gain is equal to more than 5 miles flat. I will go back there and run though because it would be really good to do on a non-tapering week.

I'm nervous about Wednesday. I'm wondering how I will do and even though I told myself I wasn't going to set a goal, I am thinking about maybe setting something just to aim for it. I'm just not sure what. I know that I am in SO much better shape than when I ran the Eugene Women's Half last year and that time was 2:31, but for some reason 2 hours and 30 minutes sounds comfortable and good to me. There will be pacers and I think I will run with the 2:20 pacer and if I drop back, I drop back. 2:20 would be a 10:41 pace and on a flat course that sounds do-able. But a 2:30 time is still commendable at an 11:27 pace. 2:30 sounds slow to me because I know a lot of people that run a lot faster but I have to stop thinking about them because they've been running/training for so much longer than me.

Alright. Enough rambling. Thank you to everyone for the birthday wishes!