Monday, February 28, 2011

Running for a long time hurts

It is three weeks from marathon day, so today was my last long, long run. My last few have been 19, 20, and 20, with the last 20 over some nasty hills that had me pretty wiped out at the end. Today would be back to the almost flat beach run, shooting for over 21. The goal was to run relaxed, 8:30-9:00 pace for most of the run, then maybe a little faster toward the end and see how I felt.
We had a cold front come through so it was about the coldest day of the year, but the winds were light and the sun was out, so it turned out to be a perfect day for a long one. I left at 8:30AM and it was about 40 degrees. I wore shorts and a tech t, so I was pretty cold for a while, but the numbness on my exposed skin wore off by the end of mile 2, and it was an excellent day.
First 6 were on the woodchip trail and were just to get warmed up and relax. It wasn't that long ago when 6 miles was a long run - today it was just the shakeout phase: 9:00, 8:48, 8:44, 8:45, 8:44, 9:05 - Avg 8:51
Next 7 were at the beach. Easier to go faster here, and I got caught up with some other runners that pushed me along: 8:39, 8:52, 8:32, 8:33, 8:25, 8:39, 8:48 - Avg 8:38
I was carrying 3 GUs for miles 7, 12 and 17, and I had my water bottle in my hip holster, so I only stopped twice all day to refill. Otherwise I was plugging along. Felt pretty good as I turned for home.
Next 7 I let myself speed up a little - partly caused by a runner who went by me and was going just a little faster, so I trailed him for about 4 miles. 8:27, 8:28, 8:26, 8:27, 8:25, 8:27, 8:34 - Avg 8:28
Miles 18 and 19 I was starting to suffer, but was able to hold on to the pace. Mile 20 it started to feel like I was hitting the wall. The bottoms of my feet hurt. My leg would occasionally collapse just a little on a step. The hips were aching. I was grimacing instead of my usual relaxed half smile. I really wanted to go through 21 without a break, but at about 19.7 I was fading and decided to take a little walk break after I hit 20. So I did. Drank and walked for about 30 seconds and then got back going. Mile 21 was 9:33 (with the walk. My run pace was about 9) It felt like the end of a marathon. I was NOT looking forward to the coming race because I know that last 6 is going to hurt like this or worse and go much longer. I battled off the negative thoughts.
Bottom line - I am doing a little more miles than last year, I am a little faster in speed work. I weigh 2 pounds less. I should be able to beat last year's time - hopefully by starting a little slower and dying less at the end. Current goal - break 3:45.
Anyway, I finished 21.3 at an average pace of 8:42. Eventually the pain subsided. I took my first ice bath today! I ran a cold bath and added whatever ice I could get out of our freezer. It melted in about 5 minutes, but it was a good starter ice bath for newbies.
One more week of decent mileage coming up and then 2 week taper.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Pics from a Wintry Weekend

Had a long weekend in Flagstaff, Arizona, and we blew into town during a huge snowstorm! 20 inches of snow! Flagstaff is in the mountains in Northern Arizona and they get real winter there. Lows were in the single digits!
The first adventure of the weekend was on the drive from LA. After 7 hours and with 50 miles to go we came to a dead stop on the freeway. And we sat there. And waited. The sun went down. And we sat. For 3 and a half hours in the dark. There was a fatal accident about a mile ahead that blocked all lanes. Finally we got going, but then we hit the snowstorm and the last 50 miles took about 2 more hours. The next day we woke up to this.
So this LA boy had to buy a brush/ice scraper and get busy. Our original plan to drive to the grand canyon was cancelled and we spent the day stranded at the hotel. So we made it a snow day!
The next day we toured Northern Arizona University where the DS (dorky son) is planning to go next year. It was a nice campus, and a beautiful area. We also checked out the local ski slopes for future reference. Driving in the ice and snow and slush was an adventure. I got a feel for the crud many of you have to live with. Then I went home.
In running news, I did manage 4 miles on the treadmill on Sunday. 7 easy miles Tuesday night back home, and tonight I did 9 miles with 6 miles at 7:59 pace. Nothing special. Getting ready for 21+ on Sunday.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I must be a marathoner, because this is some serious speed work!

(From Friday)

My week kind of lagged after my big hilly 20 on Sunday. I had a decent 7 miles on Tuesday, but then I think the post-Bostongate malaise kicked in and I blew off Wednesday gym workout and then I blew off Thursday easy run. So now it was Friday and I was looking at a zero weekend since I am driving to freaking cold snowy Flagstaff, AZ for 3 days to check out NAU with my son.

So I have one day to salvage my week. Speed work? Long run? Let's do both! My co-worker and co-runner and loop lurker Julia is right about my speed, and she taunts me mercilessly. This morning she did 5 x 2 mile intervals at 7:40. So I decided I better just do that same workout, only faster.

Previously I have done 3 x 2. And 4 x 1. Both of which I thought were pretty BA at the time. But 5 x 2? At 7:40, or MGP minus 30? Also known as half marathon race pace? Total mileage - 14 miles? Well the challenge was made. So that was the plan.

It is cool, cloudy and windy. Real windy as a storm is blowing in. It would be 7 miles out with the wind and the last 7 into the wind. Ugh.

One mile warmup 8:21. Feel pretty good.

First two: 7:43, 7:29 No problem. Except I tend to always speed up, so I am overperforming already. Which means pain later.

1/2 mile at 8:25 pace

Next two: 7:33, 7:32

1/2 at 8:30

Two more: 7:33, 7:39
Yes, that 2nd one is after the turn around, and that wind is brutal.

1/2 at 8:52

Two more: 7:40, 7:35

1/2 at 8:55. OK. I walked for a minute off the clock. Sue me.

Last two: 7:50, 7:47 Ooo, I was fading fast. The wind SUCKED! But I hung on and finished
Total average speed miles: 7:38
Take that, Julia!

Went through 13.1 miles in 1:43 - a darn fine half for me (not counting three water stops and a little walk - but who's counting)
There was much suffering, but it's just another BA workout under my belt. I rewarded myself with a giant Fatburger, and then bought some new shoes.
Maybe I'll do a few on the hotel treadmill on Sunday to break in the new shoes...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The end of the Boston dream - for now

Today's announcement of the tightening standards was the last nail in the coffin of my Boston hopes. Oh sure, I know it is not until next year, but with the new process, it may as well be this year. I imagine it will fill up by the time they get to 5 minutes faster than current standards.
It was a bit of a stretch anyway. I was hoping to run 3:35 to sneak in for next year, when I turn 50 a week before the race. But I have not been confident about my possibilities of maintaining that pace through those last 6 miles. Now that it will probably take sub 3:30, I am going to go ahead and lower my goals and not kill myself. For next month's marathon, I am going to play it conservative - just run for fun - the Ms Ritz Boston strategy. Maybe it will pay off with a great time. Oh sure, I will still be aiming to PR. With my training going so well, that should not be too hard. But instead of 8:00 or 8:05 pace, I will be happy to start at 8:15 or 8:20 pace, and then see how it goes. Maybe I can get to that last 6 miles and still have enough to maintain the pace and finish strong. I will still be challenging myself. I think my new A goal is sub 3:40, but I really will just try to have fun, and without the stress of that BQ sitting out there, it should be more fun.
And maybe I can somehow stay in this shape for 5 more years and shoot for it again at 55.
Or 60. 70?
Life is good.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

20 Hilly Miles on a Nice Sunny Day

Quick training update.
Another 40+ mile week! Tues - 7 easy, Thurs - 9 with last 5 at MGP, Friday - 5 easy, Sunday - 20!
Not only 20 on Sunday, but it was the hilliest course possible (in the area). Seemed like ups or downs all day long. Mile 2 had a climb of 200 feet in 0.8 miles. I ran relaxed and averaged 9 minute pace. Felt pretty good most of the way and chugged up another 200 feet in miles 17 and 18. Those last two miles however - dang! My legs were shot and I felt like I was hitting the wall. Mile 19 was down the huge hill, but it was so steep I couldn't just run. I had to brake to control my speed, and that just hurt more. Then I just shuffled in and finished in 3:00:02. EXHAUSTED! It hurt to sit down, get up, walk...26 sounds extremely scary again. I need to psych myself up. Granted the hills made it much tougher than normal. And my legs are tired. And my shoes have 400 miles on them. I'm hoping a cutback week helps me out a little and a 21 miler in two weeks will be flatter and easier.
Five weeks until race day!
This gives you an idea of where I ran:

And just for fun, here is a pic from my last race. The suffering is similar to how I felt after this 20!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Philosophy from the 70's

I was going through some old papers from high school and found this essay. It was my first essay for 11th grade English class, entitled "ME". I figured you might enjoy it, since it is about running. So here is a Bangle bloop, circa 1978, age 16.

I struggled to avoid editing it as I typed it. Give me a break - I was 16.

The loud ringing shatters my unconsciousness. The morning sun beams into my eyes. I roll out of bed and sluggishly change into my running gear; shorts, shoes and a t-shirt. Within five minutes I am pounding the pavement and a new person has come to life. After five minutes an inner feeling which cannot be described but has been called euphoria has built inside me. If it is a good day, I will experience the exhilarating ‘runner’s high’ in about 30 minutes and sustain it for between five and thirty minutes. It is an experience that keeps me running day in and day out and could keep me running for the rest of my life.
Running is a major part of me. When many people mention Brad Angle they think of a runner and then a person. This is not true with all people because I have other ways of distinguishing myself, however running is in my mind more than anything else. When I run my mind is sharp yet relaxed and I do some of my best and most intelligent thinking. Every day is not a good day unfortunately and when I hurt or can’t get any rhythm or form going I get frustrated, angry and depressed. Then I think of my good days or races and think about tomorrow.
The runner’s high. No one tries to explain it. It is understood by all long distance runners as the ultimate in running pleasure. Though many non-runners as well as sprinters and joggers do not understand what we skinny crazies are talking about, this only adds to the personal feeling of the ‘high’. It usually comes at least half an hour into a run and can last for varying amounts of time. Disruptions can ruin it. A highway crossing can stop or interrupt the sensation as can being forced to adjust the pace of the run. To obtain the ‘high’, I have to be alone. When I am in this transcendental state, many things I accept or ignore at normal times take on more meaning and help increase the joy. One of the greatest thrills is to see another true runner and to exchange greetings while silently saying “I know you” or “I know what you are feeling”. At times I’d like to jump for joy or scream and shout but I get the same feeling by picking up the tempo to near race pace. Even now while writing I am becoming excited by reminiscing about certain runs.
I become a different person as a runner. During school and when I am around my friends and other people having fun, I have what many think is my only personality. I enjoy having a private feeling which I can only mention to other runners. Even with runners it is not discussed. When someone mentions their own ‘high’, runners nod and smile as they think of their own experiences. Though this ‘high’ is not a public characteristic of my personality, it is what I believe to be part of my true self. It is somewhat like a religious experience. I am ‘at one’ with myself during runs. It is definitely a fascinating experience and one which I think other people should be able to feel. I realize that there are other ways of obtaining a similar feeling because I have heard mentions of such by artists, singers, musicians and other people who have jobs or experiences which they can devote their entire person to, to get into it mentally. The physical exercise of running increases the flow of blood to the brain and physiologically as well as mentally and emotionally helps the body toward a special feeling.
As I come back to Earth, my mind feels like it has been washed of all its problems. My body and mind are alert, yet relaxed, and I am ready to go after life a little harder. Though I have only experienced the runner’s high for one year, I cannot imagine how life was without it. It is a part of me I never want to give up.

I got an A. Here is the author, in 2nd.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Banana-Worthy Race

Super Sunday dawned with a nice cool fog hanging over the beach. Temps in the 50's and enough fog to keep the sun out of my eyes. I warmed up and threw in a pre-race pump for the paparazzi.

and then worried that it may be bad karma to tempt the fates with premature celebration.

My plan was to duplicate my splits from last year's PR run at the same race. Last year I ran these awesome negative splits for a 44:56: 7:29, 7:20, 7:16, 7:09, 7:09, 6:53 and 5:38 pace for the last .28! I knew it would be tough, but my training tells me I should be in better shape now, so I hoped to be 5 seconds per mile faster.

Mile 1: Started patiently. Moved along with the crowd and managed to avoid the normal too fast start. First 1/4 mile I was at about 7:45 and gradually picked it up. Mile 1: 7:31 (uphill)

Mile 2: Rolling hills - the downhills really helped keep the momentum going. Came through at 7:19 so I was basically right on last year's pace. But it was painful and I knew i had to pick it up.

Mile 3: This is the toughest part of a 10K. It feels like there is still so far to go, but my body is already hurting and telling me to slow down. But I trust in my plan and my training and keep pushing the pace. 7:08

Mile 4: On the way back now, and that helps the momentum. Keep checking G to keep me on track. Slightly uphill but I'm still accelerating. 7:05

Mile 5: Cresting a hill and catching a nice downhill really helps the momentum, just when I needed it. I'm feeling like I can do this now. Just not sure if I can duplicate last year's fast finish without sassafras pushing me. 7:04

Mile 6: Downhill start and I am approx 6:20 pace! Getting into the final push now. Heavy breathing, quicker turnover, passing more people. Then the monster hill at 5.5 miles which is short but really steep! At the top, my mile pace has slipped to 7:10 and I am heaving for air and my legs are feeling the rigor mortis. I crest and try to get the momentum back. A nice downhill will take me all the way home here, and after a minute or so my legs are working again and I can breathe. Now I am hauling downhill and feeling strong! 6:49

Last .23: Just moving fast to the finish - 5:41 pace! Hurtin'!

(OK. That twin baby jogger is only near me because they started 15 minutes earlier)

Cruise through the finish and check the watch: 44:16!!! PR by 40 seconds! Woo Hoo! Each mile was faster than the last.

After I got my breath back and settled down, I felt great! Compared to 20 mile runs, my body was not really taxed. I left it all on the course and I'm not sure I could have gone much faster. So it was on to the beer garden where I hung out with friends and befriended some lobsters promoting lobsterfest. They were quite confused by my loopsterfest shirt!

But my favorite was a physical manifestation of our dancing banana. This guy did the 5K with 6 people in monkey suits, and they were rocking out and dancing.

So, a perfect day; the sun came out, it got up to the 70's, I got a PR, and the Packers won!