Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wednesday Night Tempo

Oh, goodness, I didn't realize that it had been so long since I did an update. This isn't a real one, though, but I'll try to sum up the last THREE (ack, sorry) weeks of marathon training soon. But, tonight I had yet another one of those insane Hanson-approved tempo runs: 9 miles at marathon goal pace with 1 mile each for warm-up and cool-down. WHEN DID I BECOME THAT PERSON WHO PRACTICALLY RUNS A HALF MARATHON AFTER WORK ON A WEEKNIGHT?

I loved that this felt a lot easier than last week's run, with the exact same workout. Once I actually find the right pace, I can keep cruising. And it's always better from 3-4 miles in, which suggests that I just need time to settle into the pace. It wasn't raining, which was awesome, but there were massive head and cross-winds (NPR was saying this morning that we had a wind advisory for 30mph sustained winds and 50mph gusts). So, I guess I worked even harder? Yay?

The real joy was how amazing Seattle looked tonight in the sunshine. I tried a new path that I've never run before and it was lovely. So...a few shots. I decided the running police wouldn't come after me if I decided to take advantage of the beautiful light:

I'm glad I decided to go exploring. This path was a new discovery!

I run this bit along Puget Sound every time that I run after work. The grain elevator marks 2 miles from my office. On a clear day, you'd see Rainier in this view.

Just after the 1 mile mark is the Sculpture Garden.
Some of the first cherry blossoms are out. It must be nearly spring!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Lake Sammamish Half Marathon Recap

Yesterday, I ran the Lake Sammamish Half Marathon with a HUGE group from my running club (there were more than a hundred of us)! I had a fantastic time and would definitely run this again next year, if I'm still in Seattle (unlikely). My ONLY regret is that I couldn't take a stab at a PB, since I'm a slave to marathon training; it would have been a perfect day for it - great weather, flat course. But, cry me a river: I have marathoner problems.

The course is a point to point. The start and the parking were in Marymoor Park in Redmond. I got there early because I had to pick up my packet still and the running club was meeting for a photo at 7:45. There were loads of people directing us where to go and good signage. There was a bit of a line to funnel into the parking area, past the people who were collecting the $1 parking fee, but nothing crazy, and I had plenty of time. But, I did hear from people who were trying to arrive a bit later that they ran into giant backups trying to get off the highway and get into the park. In the end, the organizers held the race and started 15 minutes late. I don't think they did anything wrong here - I just think runners didn't allow for enough time to get 2,000 people to the start line!
SGLRG, by Ross Comer
It was great to see people from my running club before I even got out of my car! After I picked up my packet, we wandered for a group photo, and then I started in on a few warm-up miles. I needed the miles to get to my scheduled 16 miles. Plus, it was actually pretty chilly at the start - mid 30s and really foggy - so it was actually nice to be moving and shaking things out, rather than just standing around getting even colder. I love being out there warming up with just a few other people wearing bibs, because you all kind of exchange secret smiles about this wonderful and crazy thing that we do. I'd also note that, as someone who runs at night 90% of the time, it can take a few extra minutes for my legs to wake up in the early morning.

Photo: Ross Comer
Anyway, I found my friend and running buddy and we waited just a few minutes for the start. I thought about putting in my headphones, but ended up running without them. I really wanted to be present in the run and enjoy the scenery and the experience, rather than disassociating with a podcast. I've been doing that more and more and I really love it. After a few last minute photos, we were off with the cheers from our injured runners (who decided to have a grand time walking the course, since they couldn't run) in our ears. The two of us stayed together for the first mile and a bit before I got sent on ahead. I thought the organizers did a great job only allowing the number of registrations that the course could support, because, after the first half mile or so, I never had any trouble with crowding.
Photo: Ross Comer
Photo: Ross Comer
This is the most beautiful course, right along the bank of Lake Sammamish, on an improved (but not paved) rail trail. For the longest time, the Lake was covered in mist and you could just see private docks receding away into the wall of fog. It was stunning. Then, suddenly, the fog was gone and it was beautiful "why didn't I bring my sunglasses" sunshine. SUNSHINE! IN SEATTLE! IN MARCH! I KNOW!!!! The whole thing was pancake flat other than one little tiny hill where we moved from the trail to the road (the trail is closed for some reason) to run to Lake Sammamish State Park. Once we got into the park, things got pretty hilarious, because we had to run laps of the parking lot to get up to the correct distance (I think it was almost two miles of parking lot)! It was kind of awesome to watch lap after lap of runners making their way in the gigantic lot. Even though you didn't exit the parking lot until after mile 13, you couldn't see the finish line from there, which would have made things both easier and harder.

Start line fun!
The medal is great (I LOVE BALD EAGLES) and they had tons of great food (and chocolate milk!). I really appreciated that they'd transported all the bag check bags to the finish line (it was still cold). I had time to see my friend that I'd started with finish, which was great! They'd even left the medal podium up, so we took photos up top! Afterwards, they had school buses to take everyone back to the start/parking. I must say, I prefer point to point races where you do the bus ride AFTER the race, rather than the masochistic pre-race ritual of watching the miles creep by and thinking "WTF have I gotten myself into!?" I did feel a bit bad for the woman sitting with me, who realized that she was supposed to have picked her bag up at the finish line just as we pulled into Marymoor Park.

This is where my calf started cramping in the parking lots.
As for my own race, I was pleased. My goal was a nice, steady run at 11:05 pace, as the Hansons have decreed for me. I just kept chugging and ended up with an overall pace of 10:58, which I'll chalk down as "close enough." I'm pleased because I did exactly what I set out to do: I never felt overstretched. I don't even think my breathing ever got heavy and I think I accidentally qualified for the Half Fanatics, too. I had a weird experience in the last two miles or so, where I could FEEL that my left calf had cramped up at the top. I just kept running, though, because I was reasonably sure that if I stopped it would only be worse or that I would have a hard time starting to run again. I wanted to know that I could push through it, in case it happens on marathon day. Weirdly, that cramp hadn't really gone away until I woke up on Sunday morning, despite my best effort at eating salty food, foam rolling, Epsom bathing, and compression. I've never had that happen before!

I was also pleased because I had such trouble with my legs the last few days - I had a really tight sacroiliac muscle (right where your leg meets your torso - at the "crease") and I only did a two mile run on Thursday as a result. With a lot of awkward foam rolling, it felt better and I didn't have any of those problems during the race. I am definitely a bit sore and stiff today - I think that's because the race was so flat, so it was the muscles working the whole time. Runners! You can't please us! This course is TOO FLAT, that one is TOO HILLY! NOTHING IS EVER JUST RIGHT! *grin*

Finally, I think I need to continue to need to work on my nutrition strategy. I carried a bottle of water, took on a tiny cup of nuun at the last aid station, and took a Clif Blok every two miles (OMG, loved the strawberry flavor they sent as a present for signing up for their pace team in Eugene!). I think that's only ~24g carbs per hour, though, and that needs to be improved. Plus, I still think a salt tablet along the way might have prevented the cramping. I'll keep thinking. Maybe I need to make sure I regularly take on electrolyte drink along the way, in addition to the Clif Bloks or equivalent? I will say that I think bloks or chomps are the way for me to go - it's just so much easier and more efficient to pop one out than the maneuvering I have to do to take on a gel!

Anyway, I loved the race and I loved meeting up with my teammates afterwards for a great pub celebration!

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Whelp, they can't all be winners...

Let me take a moment to whine/whinge about tonight's run - a 10 miler, with 8 miles at marathon goal pace. There wasn't a whole lot about it that went well. My right quad is giving me trouble and it was like running with a limp until things got warmed up. My legs felt like they had lead weights attached to them for the first few miles and never felt super fresh. It was pouring rain (I KNOW I live in Seattle, but there's a huge difference between real rain and our usual mist. That's two weeks in a row where it was relatively dry all week except for the night of my stupid long tempo). The rail yard that I run through clearly had a train full of trash or compost sitting there and it smelled terrible. I saw another runner get hit by a douchy cyclist who didn't yell or ring a bell to warn him that he was planning to pass (they were both a bit shaken, but ok). It was cold. My tummy felt off and a bit barfy at times. BLEEEEEEEEEGH.

On the plus side, I finished the damn run on pace and saw some of the first spring daffodils. So, that's something.

I hope tomorrow's run is better. And I really need to work on my attitude regarding these long mid-week tempos. I think they max out at 14 miles, so I still have a ways to go. Sigh.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Spectating the Royal Family 5K

As I mentioned in my last post, I did a five mile run in the Epcot parking lot while I waited for the start of the Royal Family 5K - Disney races always include a 5K fun run the day before the long distance race. It's generally a great way to get the whole family of the distance runners involved and I think it's awesome that Disney offers a shorter "intro" race for people who don't want to or aren't ready to run the longer races. (I wish they'd do more - I'm super stoked that they've added a 10K in Disneyland, but I think more races at the 10-15K distance would be really great, since I think the current set-up pushes people into running the half marathon distance before they're ready.)

SUCH a fun course, although the map doesn't show that
most of the first mile is through the parking lots!
My cousin was walking in the stroller division and her husband was running the 5K. He's amazing. He's lost 100 pounds since 2011 and turned into a runner! I REALLY wanted to be there to cheer for him, because I've never gotten to do that - I think what he's done is absolutely incredible.

So, I caught the bus from our hotel at some ridiculous hour of the morning - 5:00am, I think, to head over to Epcot. It felt weird to be on a bus full of runners with their bibs on when I wasn't actually running myself (even though I was dressed in running clothes). When we got there (and the 5K had a far more convenient drop-off point than the half marathon did the next day), I stretched for a bit and started running up and down the lines of parked cars. I originally intended to do my run, then head down to the finish line to wait for them, until I realized that the start of the race actually went straight through the parking lot where I was then running! And once I realized that, there was no way I wasn't going to scream my head off for the runners!
The run was great because they were playing music for the runners and I had a number of mini dance parties with myself. I'm sure people thought I was insane. Don't care. I could get about half a mile in between each corral and got a whole mile in between the last corral of runners and the stroller division! I also met two women who run for my favorite running clothes company, Oiselle, (one of them had just WON the women's race, although there's no official prize or actual results) and we shared the sad that we couldn't be in Seattle for the sample sale that day (hi @runfastandfab and @trainracepace!).

But, SERIOUSLY, SPECTATING IS SO MUCH FUN! I LOVED clapping and cheering my head off for each of them! I may have done some serious jumping up and down, too! And it's amazing how many people are stoked to give you high fives! Later, I moved over to the 3 mile mark, just as people were exiting the backstage area of Epcot. I lead a number of them in finish line dance parties, told people to finish strong, tried to call out names (on the bibs, but too small), and gave special shout outs to the first time 5K-ers. It was so energizing! My voice might have taken a pounding, but I'm SO GLAD I went out that morning!

The only thing I wish was that I wouldn't have been the only one cheering! Sure, there were other people out there with me, but they weren't cheering on everyone, just looking for their runner! That ISN'T how it should be done! Everyone deserves a cheer - it means SO MUCH to the runners and it's so disheartening when people are just standing there like lumps while you work really, really hard. Plus, it's BORING to do nothing but stand there and look for your friends - it's like being at the airport or something. My cousin said that this happened over and over again to her at the half marathon the next day - she was on a one-woman mission to get the crowd behind the runners. The same 0.1 to go mark was packed the next day for Princess and NO ONE was cheering! I had to yell at the spectators! Seriously, people.

Afterwards, we all met up and shared stories. Apparently my wee cousin had spent the entire race talking (this doesn't surprise me), chanting mantras from Cars (I AM SPEED), and instructing his mom to chase down the other strollers. That child is so going to be ready for the Mickey Mile soon (he wasn't in the kid's races because they sold out). Everyone said the course was amazing - around Epcot's World Showcase - and I wish I'd done it (although spectating was probably better for saving my legs)! Their medals were super cute, as well! After breakfast, my cousin and I and her son headed back to my hotel to shower and get ready for some Magic Kingdom time and found that Prince Mickey and Princess Minnie were still doing photos - well, Mickey's line had closed, but we JUST managed to be last in line for Minnie! It was awesome! What a perfect way to start race weekend!

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Eugene Training, weeks 9 & 10

I've been a bit discombobulated this week and last week, because of the traveling for Princess. I'm committed to getting back on track, though, and I think things should be less crazy from here on out.

So, for the week of Princess:
Monday - 5 x 1000s at 5:12 pace. Did it, but was awfully glad when I realized I only had five intervals, not size. Had a good discussion with a guy who was doing gait analysis. As suspected, tight hips are probably the root of all my issues with my adductor.
Tuesday - 5 easy (10:53 pace), then gym.
Wednesday - 8 easy (11:04 pace). This was supposed to be a tempo, but I made it easy in light of the fact that my original plan was to tempo/MGP at Princess. Focused on lengthening strides to make sure I streeeeeetch those adductors.
Thursday - no running! Flew to Orlando, got to bed at 3am. Sigh.
Friday - no running! Took an executive decision to sleep in (maybe 8am), rather than dragging my exhausted butt out of bed to get in an early run. I think it was the right call. Spent the day at the expo, then Hollywood Studios and dinner with family!
5 Miles in the Epcot parking lot...
Saturday - 5 miles at god knows what pace. So, my cousin and her husband were both doing the Royal Family 5K and I really, really wanted to be there to cheer for them. So, I ended up doing laps in the Epcot parking lot waiting for the race to start! It felt kind of ridiculous, but was totally awesome. When they finally started the race, I'd cheer for a corral, then get half a mile before it was time for the next one. SO GLAD I WENT THOUGH, even if it was super early! PLUS, PHOTO WITH PRINCESS MINNIE!!!
Super excited to meet Princess Minnie!

Sunday - 13.1 easy (11:04 pace); a.k.a. Disney Princess Half Marathon - on which there's more to come when the photos are all uploaded and purchased!

This week:
Monday - no running! Flew home from Disney. Was wiped.
Tuesday - 5 easy on treadmill. I can't remember why, but it was really, really hard to get motivated for this one. I finally convinced myself to get to the stupid gym and, even though it probably wasn't the milage I needed, I'm proud that I got in a decent-length run.
Wednesday - 8 tempo at MGP + 1 mile each for wam-up and cool down (11:04/10:06/11:19). HOLY CRAP, GUYS, I DID A TEN MILE RUN MID-WEEK, AFTER WORK!!! And, you know what, aside from the fact that it was POURING rain (I know I live in Seattle - we usually get mist, not downpours), it was actually pretty great. No music, just me and my Garmin to keep me at my goal paces.
Thursday - gym, then 5 easy (11:04 pace). These are always tough, after an hour in the gym. My right leg usually feels like collapsing.
Friday - 5 easy. A disaster of a run. I was supposed to get in 8. I hadn't eaten much all day and had visited the massage place. I felt like my legs were lead bricks and my shorts chaffed. It was awful. I threw in the towel, figuring it was better to be ready for my long run on Saturday, rather than kill myself over three more miles that were going to suck.
Saturday - 10 long (11:01 pace). Yeah, I made the right call yesterday. I felt great, even though this run was straight after an hour and a bit of ice skating lessons.