Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Running form

Video from a 5x400 interval workout, this was the last interval. Jake pointed out that my form changed about half-way through and became springier and shorter. I started this one a little conservatively then ramped it up, for a 1:18 quarter mile, a 5:12 pace.

It's weird to watch yourself run...kind of like hearing an audio recording of yourself.  I still think I have a goofy bit of spaghetti arms.


Pace of the final interval - started conservatively. Kicked it up with 100 to go.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

2010 Virginia Triathlon Series Standings

I raced in five events in the Virginia Triathlon Series, the minimum number to be eligible for a series-end award. As I understand it, and I am probably oversimplifying, points are awarded primarily on how you do compared to the average times of the top 5 finishers. There are probably close to 20 races spread throughout the state, so it's hard to gauge how you compare to the full group of athletes in your age group until it's all tallied.

I discovered today that I ended up in 4th out of the Master's (40+) women. Yes, I'm pleased and humbled. Mostly I am reminded that I do this simply because I love the training and the racing and the community of athletes. The same can be said of Coach Jim, who finished 3rd in the men's master division, just barely edged out of 2nd.

My goal this year was to race in five races and do my best.  I raced happy, healthy, and strong, with three sprints and two olympic distance races under my belt. I got stronger and more confident swimming in open water. My kids are running, working out, and finding joy in moving their bodies. It's a winning direction for all of us!

Boston Marathon

Yesterday at 9 am, registration opened for the 115th running of the Boston Marathon!  I filled out the darn online form about 30 times, and Jake probably did another 20 for me, before a kind soul posted a different link on Facebook that finally worked.  I have a spot, subject to qualifying time verification.  The race filled at 5:03. Just over 8  hours to fill 25,000 spots.

Thanks to filling out the form so many times, I have that qualifying time memorized: 3:38:38!

I got my hotel reservations a while ago, paying a ridiculous amount to be in a hotel right by the finish, but the logistics of staying somewhere cheaper were too overwhelming. Sometimes splurging is worth it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

She's got legs

I always used to wish for skinny thighs. Finally, I don't mind these non-pencil thin legs now that they serve a useful purpose.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Good training weeks pop up at the oddest times

The last week and a half I have not felt super fabulous. I'll spare the details because it would just sound whiny anyway, but suffice it to say I'm just off, for whatever reason. It happens.

But unless I am dreadfully sick, gross, or contagious, I do tend to stick to workouts. I believe you can sweat out a lot of bugs, and most of the time I do feel better after a workout. Plus I take a pretty big hit to my mental/emotional well-being if I go too long (i.e. a day) without.

It's a good thing, because I have had a few of my best ever workouts this very week!

The first one was on Monday, when we hit bench. I've had a mental hangup about the idea of benching 135 lbs. It's a bar and one of the BIG 45 lb plates on each side. It's where the guys start, so it's in guy-benching territory, even if barely! We've been working on bench, steadily and consistently every week. I focus on doing the reps Jake wants without looking at what he has loaded to try to take the mental part out of it. On Monday, I hit a strong 2 at 130 I discovered after the fact, so rather than go for my "hang-up" weight of 135, we jumped to 140. I told myself to stick to my groove, just get a tad tighter, and to power through without giving myself a chance to think about how it felt. I just stuck to what works and wouldn't you know it that 140 lifted up with no hesitation!

The second good workout was today, when I had an interval workout on the track: 10x200m. I was wearing my new Saucony Kinvaras, a lightweight minimalist running shoe, for the first time. And I l-o-v-e them!

After a conservative buildup I was set loose on the last two intervals to give a near-max effort. I ran the final one in 36 seconds, or the equivalent of a 4:33 mile pace. It was the fastest I had ever run. EVER. Over 13 mph under my own power. It was totally exhilarating!!

As I was running, I recall thinking that I would like to go faster but I was at a loss for how. It was such an out-of-body experience, with my brain feeling disconnected somehow from the body. My legs were turning over as fast as they could, arms too. Next time I'll think about opening up my stride some. This gave me some perspective on the challenge of running a sub-4 minute mile....faster than I went and 8 times further! Unreal.

That glimpse of speed left me hungry for more. And just last weekend Joan Benoit-Samuelson set a Chicago Marathon age group record for running in 2:46 at age 53. So one never knows!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Brush Mountain Breakdown

It’s hard to believe I’ve been running long enough to make this my THIRD Brush Mountain Breakdown, a unique local trail race in the Jefferson National Forest. They offer 3, 8, and 15 mile options.

The first year, my goal was to just finish the 15 miler. I did.

The second year, my goal was to stay healthy on the 15 miler since I was preparing for the Richmond Marathon. I didn’t. I had a nice wipeout that left my left knee sore for quite a while. But I still had a strong marathon!

This, the third year, my goal was to enjoy, not fall down, and not require a long recovery. Jake recommended I do the 8-miler since the race fell on a non long-run weekend (Richmond marathon again) and I had done very little trail running this summer. This was the first time I had raced at a distance that was not the longest one offered. It was a little hard to swallow, even though it made sense.

The 8-mile course

The small pack of loyal racers lined up at 10:30 and with some final instructions from James, we were off! The course begins with a brief downhill section on a wide service road, where we jockeyed for position knowing the first mile on the trail was single track making it hard to pass people. I was feeling good, as we all do at the start of a race, and went out way WAY (did I mention WAY) too fast doing a 6:30 pace for the first two minutes. I maintained my position, but my heart rate was near redline and my eyes were watering. I hate being passed and hate hearing people on my heels so I was reluctant to back off. It took all my concentration just to pick through the rocky trail through my blurry eyes, especially down the hills. About a mile and a half in I realized what a mistake it was to run someone else’s race instead of my own. I backed off and regrouped.

Our club’s tennis pro, Bill, had taken up running this year and he trained on the trails quite a bit and I had a sense of his pace. When he passed me (arghh!) I made the decision to stay on his heels no matter what. With so few runners, you can end up running alone, and I much prefer to follow someone and have confidence in knowing I am not lost! It’s like drafting but in a mental sense as they do the work of picking through the trail!

I consider it nothing short of total weakness to break to a walk up a hill, any hill.

I walked at least six times on this run.

Those hills were total quad burners at any pace. The mental chatter grew defeatest. I figured I would turn that into a challenge and see how positive I could be, that this was a test of mental strength. I would grind out the hard parts (e.g. ascents) and fly on and enjoy the other parts. I started to notice that I wasn’t going any slower up the hills at a walk than others who were “running”. Still, I forced myself to resume running sooner than I wanted, telling myself that folks could catch me if I was walking, but not if I was running. Jake had run this course with his Garmin so I had a mental image of his elevation chart and kept reminding myself that every uphill was followed by a downhill!

It felt so good to return to the service road and the final stretch of the race. What a treat to just roll and not have to worry about where to put my feet, which by this point felt pretty beat up in my standard non-trail running shoes.

I finished in 1:18:28, 10th place out of 29, 2nd woman, and just behind the tennis pro! It wasn’t a smart or fast race for me, but a good reminder as I head into Richmond that I need to run my own race from start to finish.

Yes, I met this year's goals as I enjoyed the race, did not fall down, and did not require a long recovery. I saw lots of bloody knees this year, a badge of honor, but a distinction I was glad to be spared. Jake had a tough run with a major flare-up of an injury, but he pushed through to the finish. This is a race that takes heart.

Brush Mountain is the one race I would like to continue doing year after year....but maybe back to the 15 next year :-)

Ginger and me, both 8-milers!

Me and Tanya (Trail Queen!)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Crop Circles for Runners: Flower Power

Ramping up for Richmond requires a number of "long runs" and today was the day of the 20-miler. Some time ago, I got this idea for a run of multiple loops emanating from a central point, allowing for refueling between. Jake put together the route, which is now called the "flower" route, or "flower power" as I like to call it. It was indeed fun to run three distinct loops.

Jake joined me on the third loop and it was nice to get some encouragement over those last miles. But I'm afraid I wasn't too much fun. By about mile 17 I had to tell him I couldn't concentrate on anything but the 5 feet in front of me and laying that next step down. So he ran in silence and I listened to the same song, whatever it was, over and over on the iPod. When I get that tired, even the "wrong" song can annoy me, so best not to change anything at that point.

It was a gorgeous morning with a clear blue sky. I ran the first loop with my bright yellow jacket and gloves, but after that I was down to a tank and shorts, running free, just like I like it!

I had water bottles planted at the far ends of each loop or "petal" but I couldn't find the one on the second loop. I was half asleep this morning when I deposited them, so who knows!!

Here's my run data -

And the route. A runner's version of crop circles!