Thursday, February 28, 2013

I'm a Garmin Snob

When I got my first Garmin (205) over 5 years ago I loved it. Like most of you, it was a "Eureka" moment and was a big change in the way I enjoyed my running. Being a numbers geek, I loved having all the data, seeing my pace, recording the splits. It was a game-changer for interval work and for races. LOVED. IT.

Last year I started hinting to DW that I wanted a newer one. The 205 still worked. but i envied the new sleeker ones that didn't look so silly on my little wrist. I decided if she didn't get me one for Christmas, I would get myself one. I figured the 210 would be a good upgrade from the 205, mistakenly assuming they were similar.

Well, DW knows how to take a hint, and went off to the LRS and got me a Garmin. But for some odd reason, the guy there talked her into getting the most basic Garmin 10.

The 28:37 5K on this picture should give you a clue who it is designed for. Not sure why the guy talked her DOWN to a cheaper model, but he said this had everything I would need. Unbelievable really. I tried to smile and say thank you. Checked it out and ran with it once, and had to be honest and say, you know, I kind of need lap pace and a few other things. So I took it back to the store and upgraded to the 210.

I've been using it for a month or so, and it's....fine...but...I was a little disapointed. The 210 is NOT a newer version of the 205. Sure I get lap pace, and can do interval workouts and upload my workouts. But I can't change the format of the screen to show what I want, like I could with the 210. Still, it is fine, and looks sleeker. And can be used as a watch.

But then one day I forgot my Garmin when I went to my LRS group run, and my friend there let me borrow her Garmin 610. Oh. My. God. This was the watch I wanted. First off, the font is better, so the numbers are easier to read (and just look cooler). The screen is fully formattable, so I can see what I want to see. It has a touch screen to easily jump around between screens. It can be lit up permanently during night runs, so I don't need to press the light button. And it can vibrate instead of beeping for splits, which is great for me because I have some hearing loss and can not hear the beeps at all. So I won't have to check it so often.
And look how pretty.

So I've been sitting on this knowledge that I got the wrong watch for a few weeks.Sure it costs a ridiculous $350 compared to $200 for the 210. But if I get 5 years out of it, that's not that big a deal.

So today I said "F*** it", and went ahead and ordered one (with a 10% discount I found online). So it will get here soon. Which leaves me with an extra Garmin 210. (I sent the 205 to a new home with a needy loopster)

So I am offering up the Garmin 210, almost new, to a runner who wants it. I want $140 for it ($60 off retail) and offer free shipping! So if you, faithful reader, want it, let me know with a comment. If I get multiple requests I will decide based on who I like best, so give me a good sob story. Or maybe I will choose randomly. Not sure yet.

Trail Running is Better than Road Running

So Saturday I went out with my new running group again, the Santa Monica Mountain Goats. Man, I tell you what; this trail running thing is kind of a completely different thing. So I thought I would discuss it here.

Originally I was going to skip the trail run this week, because I wanted to get in a 17-mile long run as I build up for the marathon. Two weeks ago I did 15. I figured I needed a flat run to get in the miles. But then this week's trail was announced, and the hills didn't look quite as bad. And then my friend Julia agreed to come run with me (she is also doing Boston). And so I said, hell, let's just do 17 on the trails - go slow - call it an endurance test!

So that's what we did. And it was fabulous. Here is the Garmin link:

17 miles, 2430 feet elevation. Averaged 9:11 pace.

When I finished I was tired, but not exhausted. I had spent over 2 1/2 hours going up and down some pretty big hills, and yet I felt much better than after my flat 15 two weeks ago. Why is that?

Well, the mindset goes to a totally different place. On my flat road/bikepath runs, I tend to get into a (relatively) fast gear and keep it there. I focus on maintaining pace. No matter how "easy" the plan, I still have the watch on, and I want the time to be good, so I'm working.

On the trail (actually this run was all fire road, basically a dirt road), pace is not important. It starts off with brutal uphill so I'm going slow and just taking what my body can give me. On the downhills I focus on form, and enjoy the plentiful oxygen. Also, the beautiful views and abundant nature makes it easier to lose myself in the moment. It's more of a true fun run!

On the flats, the cement and asphalt has gotta be harder on everything, and on the long runs that extra impact really builds up. On the trails, that problem goes away. In fact the extra work that the ankles and achilles have to do with the uneven surface and the elevation probably keeps the legs fresher.

If I get tired on the roads, I just talk myself into hanging in there and getting to the next water stop. Walking any other time is shameful and to be avoided! On the trails, it is perfectly OK to stop and walk on a hill. I can listen to my body and respond to it more naturally and rationally. I give myself more permission on the trails.

So I will be doing more of this fun stuff. And maybe I can bring some of the trail sensibility to my other runs too.

HERE are some pics from the run.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Let's See What's Left in These Tires

Well, training has been going pretty well. The last 4 weeks have been solid, averaging 30 miles/week, and the knee pain has subsided to a minor irritant. So basically, I'm back.

So, with a 5K booked for next week, I figured it was time for some speed work. I haven't done any since September (!!!) since, you know, I've been hurt. Wow, time flies. So I wasn't sure what I had in me. But my endurance is good, so I decided on 4x1, my favorite workout. Last January I did these in under 6:40, but I was in really good shape then. In September I averaged 6:54. I figured I would shoot for 7:00 (or just under) and see what I had.

So the workout is 1 mile warmup, 4x1 mile repeats with 1/2 mile cooldowns, and 1 mile easy to finish up. 7.5 miles. I get to run these on the bike path at the beach so it was straight out and back. It was chilly - high 40's! Brrr! And quite windy, so the wind chill was like, mid 40's! So I broke out the tights and a long sleeve T.

So I trot down and start #1, and the wind is blowing hard. Feels good to push hard. First check and I'm at 7:15. Dang, push harder. Pace still shows 7:12. I am pushing harder and hurting more than I think I should for 4x1, and yet the pace will not drop. Dang it, I guess I am still in sorry shape. I keep fighting it, on the verge of lactic acid buildup. Finish #1 in 7:11. Crap.

But, it was windy. It often is windy at the beach, usually blowing off the water, so while it feels like it is in your face both ways, it really isn't. But during my cooldown I noticed some flags blowing almost straight South. So I really was fighting the wind this time, and could look forward to having it behind me for the last two. That lightened my spirit. Plus my first one is always my slowest. So I still hoped to see some sub 7's.

As I started #2 another runner had started running just in front of me. I figured I would be passing him shortly, but he was moving at a good clip, coincidentally right at my pace! So I trailed him by about ten yards. It was perfect. About a half mile in he pulled away a little, but as I neared the finish I started catching him. That helped me push even harder and I passed him with about .05 left, and then immediately slowed as I finished. I told him "Thanks for the tow!" as he went by. 7:08 - but it felt better.

Turned around during the cooldown, and sure enough, the wind seemingly disappeared. Which meant it was blowing behind me. Woo Hoo! #3 was fun! Pace was immediately below 7, and it felt easier. I was flying, and that just made me want to run faster. Toward the end I was feeling the pain, but I finished strong. 6:45!!! (Insert dancing banana here)

#4 was more of the same. More work, less joy, as I was feeling the fatigue, but I pushed hard and managed another 6:45. So my total average was 6:57. Success!

So, I'm feeling good. Planning to go for sub-7 pace in the 5K next week. But first, I'm going back to the hills tomorrow with the Mountain Goats. Plan is to do my long run, with hills, so it will be an endurance test. 17 miles. The hills won't be as bad as last week, and I have a friend to run the whole thing with, so it should be fun.

Y'all have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Surf City Loopfest and Pikermi - One Big Happy

I remember how it felt the first time I flew across the country to meet internet strangers. It was kind of scary, exciting, strange. Of course it turned out to be a fabulous time. Incredibly fun and surreal and amazing to realize that it was possible to meet "famous" people from the internet and bond instantly like old friends.

This amazingness from Marshall 2010 was repeated in Philly 2011, and several times in 2012. Always the same, but gradually changing from meeting strangers to meeting friends.

So for the first Loopfest of 2013, it turned out that I had already met every single loopster attending. So (for me) it was just friends getting together for a race weekend, who happened to have met on the internet. I liked it.

We had nine out of town guests, and seven stayed at my house, so Chez Bangle was Loopfest Central! Add in seven local loopsters and we had a good party going!

On Friday people were arriving and we gathered for dinner at the home of IMustBeBananas. She and her family had put together a tableful of fabulous food, and we tried our best to put a dent into it.

Saturday started out bright and early with a shake-out run at 8:00. I wanted to show people where I run, so we did about 3 miles that caught part of my woodchip trail as well as a mile along the beach. We also went out on the pier, and then under it and ran in the sand. Some uncoordinated types managed to get their shoes wet in the waves. But it was a blast to share my trails with these visiting celebrities. And we avoided getting ticketed for bringing my dog on the beach.

First time in the Pacific!

We returned home to find AtomBuddy cooking us breakfast. Delicious pumpkin pancakes and lots of bacon!

Then we all headed down to the expo. It's a big one. Lots of food giveaways to snack on. I fell into a timeshare condo pitch accidentally - what the hell are they doing here? But we got away and wandered the beach and took some awesome JB photos.

Then it was back to my place for more food, drinks, boggle, and loop love.

Abby's husband Clark won the prize for most beers tasted. What was it, ten? The night before his first pikermi? Well, it was vacation.

Then it was a fruitless effort for a good night's sleep before race day.

Part 2 - Race Day:

Throughout my long racing career, it has always been about me. Each race, I went out and did my best. Set my own goals, ran hard, recorded everything, tried to beat PRs. Sure, in high school I ran as part of a team, but I generally was running to do my best every race. Otherwise, what's the point?

Well, maybe I'm growing up or something, but I have turned a little more philanthropic lately. Last year I volunteered for the first time. And at Surf City I chose to NOT run as hard as I could, in favor of being a pacer for PegLeg, Of course, being in sad shape after some downtime made the decision easier, since I could not come close to a PR if I tried. But I was also excited to help Peg get to her goal of a sub-2 Pikermi, after she missed out at Marshall and was forced to pull out of another one.

As Loopfest got closer, both Mild Sauce and Atom Buddy joined in the fun, so the 3 of us would be our own little sub-2 pacing group to get Peg to the promised land. I've also been coaching Peg and felt pretty good about her chances to not just break 2, but go sub-9 pace and run closer to 1:55.

Race day was a bit of a zoo with 20,000 runners, so we just got to our corral about ten minutes before the start. Miscommunication led to AB being in the corral behind us, but we were able to relay messages through sideline loopsters JB and Alice, so he knew he would have to run a little faster to catch us mid-race. Which was good for his workout plan.

My pacing plan was to go out close to 9 minute pace, and be at or below 9 by mile 3. Mile 4 had a hill, but then I hoped we could go sub-9 from mile 5 on and as long as Peg could hang. Peg gave her Garmin to Mild Sauce, so was dependent on whatever we told her.

So, off we went, on a beautiful, mostly sunny So Cal morning. Temps in the mid 50's. I had my camera in my waist pack, but I only took one shot during the race. This was mile 2, chasing ponytails on Pacific Coast Highway.

We started out a little over 9 as we moved through the crowd, but the adrenaline was flowing and soon we were sub-9 and finished mile 1 in 8:49. Sauce and I were working together to keep the pace a little slower. Miles 2 and 3 were steady at 8:53 and 8:54. Banking time under 9. I joked we were doing the Bank and Bonk strategy. Little did I know...

Mile 4 was the only decent hill on the course. Peg started complaining about every little rise for a while, but I tried to stay professional and not call her a whiner. Sauce was there for that. Mile 4 was 9:05, but mile 5 was mostly down and was 8:46. Looking good! It was fun for me because this is my easy training pace, but not too slow to be annoying. I didn't really feel like going faster. I guess I had bought in to the plan. However just because it felt easy for me, I couldn't really "feel" how hard it was for Peg. This was her race pace after all.

Mile 6 we were still moving good, with a downhill 8:42, but during mile 7 Peg started to hurt. It was getting warmer in the sun. She slowed to eat her beans and drink her water and we started to give it back. 7 was 8:57 and 8 was 9:10.

At about this time, AB caught up with us. He was happy and excited to see us, and was used to running sub 8:30's, so I had to restrain him and get him back to our pace. But it was a nice little boost to become a group of 4. Peg now had 3 people urging her forward, and she was needing it, because her body was tiring. She started to get really nauseous, and had to take a few short walk breaks when she thought she was about to hurl. But she always got back going within 5-10 steps. Mile 9 was 9:00.

Mile 10 had a little hill, the sun was getting warm and in our face, and the finish seemed a long way off. Peg was in trouble, but she kept on going. Sauce, AB and I tried to think of ways to motivate her - going through our long histories of racing and trying every trick in the book. When she was running, the pace was good, but she stopped to walk about every 1/2 mile or so with the nausea. Mile 10 was 9:24, and mile 11 was 9:45!

I start doing the math. She needed about 9:30 pace the rest of the way to go sub-2. If she just keeps moving she's got it. She showed some flashes of picking it up. But also had to stop to walk off the puke sensations. Mile 12 was 9:30.

Now with a mile to go, we really started heavy coaching. ALMOST THERE! NO MORE WALKING! YOU CAN DO IT! She showed tons of guts and kept plugging, although she took one last walk break with only 1/2 mile to go. As mile 13 approached it looked like we had it. Mile 13: 9:28.

Still struggling. I asked AB and MS to get behind her for finish photos. Suddenly, she was gone, kicking into a new gear. Saucy was screaming in her ear to get her butt moving, and she raced the last 200 yards like crazy! AB and I could not even keep up! And we got these fabulous photos!

Last .16 on my Garmin at 8:08 pace. Official time: 1:59:37!!!!!

Then the tears, the hugs, the joy, the cramps, the pain, the endorphins, the medals, and finally, the beer garden. Happiest Place on Earth. We all found each other and shared stories, drank, and took pictures. Look at this big, happy family!

Seriously, that hour in the beer tent was so much fun. Exhausted happy (stinky) people. Then some of us walked to the ocean for a saltwater ice bath, and then the long slow walk down the beach to the car.

Eventually we got cleaned up and headed over to Alice's for another party. More tons of food and drink, football and karaoke! A lot of us were tired, so it didn't hit the heights of craziness like last year, but it was great time with good friends, many of whom can really sing!

Now it's over, and the usual loopfest hangover has kicked in. But I know it won't be long until we all meet again. That's what families do.