Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Trot!

The Pittsburgh Turkey Trot 5K was a blast! I expected to see lots of turkeys, but I was the only one in full dress (although there were a few hats). The costumed run was a whole new avenue of fun that I had not yet explored -- it added a whole new element of fun. Despite the extra drag, I posted a pretty good time of 22:12 for a 7:09 pace. I look forward to the day that I can do a race of any length at a sub-7:00 pace. I came in 4/89 in my age group and 170/1629 overall (see Results). As I crossed the finish line the announcer made a remark about me being the first turkey to finish the race. Unfortunately, there was no turkey category!

Warming up; coming into the finish.

One of the few other folks displaying true spirit!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Oh boy...lots of goodies around here. Cookies and ice cream and candy, oh MY! Note to self: nothing tastes as good as fit feels. And if I need further motivation, I have photos that provide it. While working on our yearly family photo album, I found several examples of the old me. It wasn't pretty.

I'm contemplating the Turkey Trot 5K in downtown Pittsburgh on Thanksgiving morning. I think it would be a lot of fun, not necessarily to set an PR or anything, but to get me moving and do something different and memorable. It said there were 1700 people in it last year! The turnaround is Heinz Field - the Steeler's Football Stadium.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Star City Half in 1:42:20

Praise to our God who is mighty to save
and gives me
strength to run and not grow weary.

Well, this is a fun report to write :-) I came in under my goal time by almost 8 minutes for a 1:42:21 time and a 7:49 pace which ended up being enough to win my age group. (Overall results, Age group results). (77/294) Most importantly though, I ran a smart race for my ability and finished strong - mentally and physically. I didn't have that beat up feeling of barely surviving like I did after Danville's race.

I owe many thanks to Jake. I'm amazed at what he has helped enable me to do. Just "me". Mom, teacher, wife, counting-impaired, short-attention-spanned, stressed-out ME. Who knew this kind of thing was even possible when he proposed his harebrained idea for me to work toward a half marathon back in early June. He is a gifted and talented trainer and even though I give him a hard time sometimes (!), I have great faith in his plans and decisions. There are tangible results from his methods, yet I never feel I am being pushed beyond what I can do. It's not easy, but I know if he has set out a goal for lifting or running, I know that it's doable if I follow the plan and put the time and energy in.

I deviated from my original plan (start at 8:30, drop 5 seconds per mile), but went with what felt right. I also spaced out (big surprise there) on some of the mileage markers and didn't get all my splits. I was actually glad I blew by mile marker 11 without seeing it, it put me that much closer! I took it mile by mile, stayed relaxed, kept a positive attitude, and maintained focus.

It was cold and people were dressed in everything from shorts and tshirts to many layers with scarves and hats. I was in good shape with a tank, long sleeves, and a windbreaker, but I tossed the windbreaker at mile 6 which was fortunately also the finish line. I ran alongside a 16 year old kid for the last mile and we really pushed one another so that was a good thing. My body feels great. I could honestly get out there and run again (but I won't).

windbreaker in hand - ready to chuck it on a tree
when I spotted Robert and ran toward him!

I am so glad my fabulous husband came along to support me. Thank you, Robert! It was motivating to see him at the halfway mark and again at the end (I appreciated the warm coat!!). We enjoyed a nice lunch out and returned for the awards ceremony.

What a rush...........I am hooked.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Contemplations of Race Eve

Tomorrow is the Roanoke half and we are expecting a HIGH of 16 degrees overnight so I doubt it will be much warmer at 9 am. Although I ran in 24 degree windy weather earlier in the week, it was just for about 35 minutes and even so my face got pretty cold. I am wondering how the temperatures might impact me and the rate at which my muscles will warm up and get into their groove. On the other hand, I realize the temps add to the challenge and the feeling of accomplishment I hope to gain!

This is my usual night-before-contemplative-posting. Seems to be part of my race ritual.

My plan is to start at an 8:30 mile and try to cut 5 seconds off each successive mile. I'm not sure how long I can keep it up, but I think it will be a good strategy and force me to start conservatively. I will modify as necessary. This is my race to run the way I need to run it and the way I've trained to run it. I won't worry about anyone else. I will think about the current mile and not the next one to come.

I was feeling kind of negative coming into this week but I think I've turned that around. I've been reading Pam Reed's book on The Extra Mile. She's an ultramarathoner who writes honestly and with great insight about being an athlete, mom, and wife. She talks about how she could never run these long distances without thinking of them in very small increments. So, I am going to just take it one mile at a time (or even smaller increments as needed) and do what I need to do. And when fear or doubt surface, my plan is to substitute in feelings of gratefulness, joy, grace, strength, and love. When I hit a rough patch, I have to remember that it generally passes within a minute or two and I will be OK again.

I will also think of this race as simply one more part of my training. It's like tennis...the drills are great, but there is no substitute for real match play. The races are important benchmarks. Even so, I am looking forward to a mid-December long run on my own...something longer than the 15 miles max I have done to date. It helps me to look beyond the race to the "next thing".

That's all the reflection and contemplation for now. All that's left is to just DO IT!

Do the work, leave the rest to God.

Monday, November 17, 2008

FIVE pull-ups

On 10/27 I set some goals for the next few months. One of those was to do five unassisted wide-grip pull-ups (in a row, of course). Today I surprised myself and made the goal. It helped that I did them early in my workout. At the end of my hour workout, I tried to do one more, and could not. I was spent.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

In Defense of Food

I just finished reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. I read Omnivore's Dilemma last year and found it convicting. I was terribly out of touch with the origins of my food and ignorant to the extent of influence of the industrial food processors. His latest book, In Defense, is a smaller book and quick read, but the message is terribly important. We've attempted to reduce food to it's consitutent parts believing that reductionist science can tell the whole story -- that nutrition is merely the sum of its parts. We're turning our backs on a solid history of diverse eating that has generally worked well for centuries.

One needs only to look at how a baby formula has never been created that is equal to breast milk. I marvel that man thinks he/she can know better than nature!

The bottom line is that it's not this nutrient, that fat, this amino acid, that mineral that is the culprit or savior and the science that would have us believe that is generally flawed. The general state of declining health should be sufficient to support that.

Pollan advises: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.

Eat food may seem strange, but little of what we find in the grocery store is food, but rather concoctions of chemicals created by food scientists to hold the greatest appeal.

My takeaway? As much as I can, I intend to:
  • buy food that will rot (e.g. no industrial breads)
  • purchase what I can locally knowing that the soil and feedstuffs that go into my food are a major determinant of its nutritional value
  • focus on quality of food, not quantity
  • eat foods with minimal ingredients
  • increase the variety of my foods including more plants (will need to learn to cook more)
  • join a CSA group (Seven Springs?) in the spring

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Final hard run before race

This was it! 6 miles @ race pace (8:23 goal for sub - 1:50 1/2M). But of course I had to try to beat that which didn't make for a very good race strategy. I finished in 46:27 for a 7:45 pace, but my second half was significantly slower than the first: 7:36, 7:33, 7:30, 8:02, 8:00, 7:43. So I have got to show some self-control at the race and keep the first few miles in the 8:20 - 8:30 range.

I am ready to take it easy this week!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Today's speed workout - 1/2 m x 10!!

Today's workout was a tough one. I'm not exactly sure why it was so hard. I did a pretty speedy 7+ miles last week so I wasn't too worried about this workout. I walked about half a lap between so I was fairly well recovered. Those last two intervals were definitely a mental challenge as I was warned they would be.

Interval Workout, 13 days out

Warm-up: 5 minutes low I, walking followed by jogging at moderate I, 10 minutes

½ mile intervals

Interval/Pace (mins)
I 1 4:00
I 2 4:00
I 3 3:55
I 4 3:55
I 5 3:50
I 6 3:50
I 7 3:45
I 8 3:45
I 9 3:35
I 10 3:35

Cool-down: Jog slowly for 10 minutes after your last repetition, ease into a walk, 5 minutes
Light stretching: 5 minutes

Being able to control the pace of each rep will allow you to learn how to run at an even pace
Run each rep slightly faster than your goal pace
Walk between repetitions to recover

Saturday, November 8, 2008

14.4 mile training run report

My run today was three loops of the route below. I felt like I pushed and did my best. My intention, as Jake suggested, was to have each lap faster than the previous one but I screwed up by starting too fast overall and lap 2 ended up the fastest. Then I just went for steady on the first half of lap 3 just to be sure I'd have enough gas and not feel beat up mentally. Energy level was decent throughout and sustained through the end. I had two powergels along the way at the end of laps 1 and 2. (Breakfast was 1/2 c. (before cooked) oatmeal w/ strawberries).

The route was anything but "fast and flat" (see below) so I think the times were OK (not great) considering. However, this is the wake-up call that I will have to work pretty hard to meet my goal in Roanoke. It won't be a cakewalk.

Laps were 4.8 miles:
Lap 1 - 39:23 (8:12)
Lap 2 - 38:29 (8:01)
Lap 3 - 39.47 (8:13)

Monday, November 3, 2008

I am a runner

I know I am a runner because I ran this morning and then felt this sense of loss later in the day when I saw someone else running and realized my run for the day had come and gone!

I'm enjoying a somewhat higher volume of running AND running without any chronic pains at the moment. I realize that can and will change as it seems runners are either recovering from or between injuries at any given time. I've covered 38 miles in 10 days and am looking forward to running 14 on Saturday. I'm getting a bit speedier too. Today I ran 7.25 miles (7:47 pace) at about the pace of my last 5K (7:41) and I didn't really decide to push it until the halfway mark. Today's run gave me some confidence about completing a sub-1:50 half marathon (8:24 pace).

Just 2-1/2 weeks until the race!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Bench benchmark

Today we kicked off training for a bench press competition at VT on February 28. My one rep max was pretty much right at 100 lbs; I was not unhappy with that as a starting point. Jake believes I can increase that to be able to bench my body weight (125ish) by the meet. So that would be a 25% increase over where I am now. YIKES!

In my competitive powerlifting days my best bench was 130 but that was with a bench shirt that ups your bench max by 10-15%. So all these years later, I'd be thrilled to achieve even a 115 bench (but I'd take more).

The plan seems to focus on triceps quite a bit, probably since that is my weak link. It was strange to handle some heavier stuff today after six months of light weight and high reps. Like anything, the mind plays a very big role (belief, visualization, no fear), as do breathing and form. A strong core is also important for a good bench.

Held strong through the party

I took my bag of healthy snacks and my water bottle and did manage to resist all sweets at the party. I had probably 6 single-bite appetizers there in all so I will call that a win! And the next day it paid off. I ran about 10 miles and felt pretty good. Considering it's been just a week since the 15 miles, I'd have to say my body seems to be finally adjusting a bit. Next Saturday I have a 14 mile run, then that's it for the long ones for a while. I'm thinking that in the "off season" I want to continue to do longer Saturday runs, maybe in some sort of shorter/medium/longer pattern like 8/10/12 or 6/9/12 depending on the weather and road conditions of course. I want to maintain what I have built up so when the training cycle starts I am mentally rested and physically ready to pick it up where I left off!