Monday, October 27, 2014

Wrapping up Marathon Training with a Fun Run

 It's Marathon Week!!! Lots of Loopsters are tapering for races in Marshall, NYC, Indy, and Santa Clarita (and...?) I'm getting pretty excited!!

Tapering is going great. I only did 19.5 miles last week, and I am feeling rested and fresh. Antsy even. Tuesday I cut my usual 7 to 5.5 and felt good. Wednesday I hit the track, but I didn't push it too hard, and cut it short. For those keeping score, I managed 4x400 (99, 96, 93, 91), 1200 at 6:56 pace, and 800 in 3:29. Just enough to wake up the speedy-twitch muscles. 6.2 total. Then I took off Thursday and Friday.

Saturday I planned to do an easy 8, but I was convinced to join the Mountain Goats, because they had picked a new trail that looked too fun to pass up. All single-track instead of fire road, with reasonable hills, and some cool stuff to check out. And less than 8 miles.

The trail was in Solstice Canyon in Malibu. Along the trail were several ruins of old houses that had been destroyed by fire in the 1980's. They must have been beautiful because the location is awesome, tucked into a canyon about a mile up from the beach. Here is what the house used to look like.

 But now it looks like this. We stopped to look around after the first mile.
The house is right next to the creek and a waterfall with lots of rocks to climb on. Not much water now due to the drought, but it was pretty cool.
Then we cruised along the trails. A new guy joined the group who was my age and speed, so we ran together the whole way and chatted. I took it easy and enjoyed the beautiful day.
It ended up being 7.8 miles, and I finished feeling plenty strong. No trips or falls to ruin my race.

So now it is marathon week. My plan is 6 easy tonight, 5 on Wednesday. Then Thursday morning, DW and I fly to New York City. We will be staying with my brother, and my parents are also going to show up, so it will be a fun family weekend. And of course I will be meeting up with Loopsters whenever possible, at the expo, before the race, after the race...

Looks like it will be perfectly chilly for racing, with no rain. Getting excited!!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Good Times, Bad Times, You Know I Had my Share

I thought of the title as it relates to my splits (coming later) and then it got stuck in my head, so now I pass the worm to you. You're welcome.

(Peg, you may have to google it)

Anyway, yesterday was my first (and last) 20-miler for this marathon cycle. To rewind a little, I was building up nicely and had a successful 19-miler five weeks ago. But then I was a little busy over scheduling my life...

4 weeks ago - Erie Pikermi

3 weeks ago - 21 miler aborted at 15.4

2 weeks ago - Grand Canyon

1 week ago - 10K race

So with nothing scheduled for this weekend I thought I'd better get that 20-miler in, what with the marathon only 3 weeks out...So I did my usual flat beach run and hoped I could run marathon pace for most of it. It looked to be another warm day, so I got up early and out the door at 6:45AM. I felt kind of silly topless out there with the sun just rising, and a little chilly, but I have come to love the freedom of running shirtless lately. I got over the shyness of being nearly naked last summer (coincidentally about the time that I lost the small tire around my waist), and it eliminates the nipple chafing possibilities and feels great! The only problem is all the sweat just rolls into my shorts and I am soaked through pretty early and just drip a lot. But anyway...

Last week wasn't great. I think the Grand Canyon excursion did a number on my quads and hips, and I may have compensated somehow because now I am getting some knee pain and the PF is starting to hurt again. Nothing major, but enough to be irritating and scare me. I did 7 Tuesday, 6 Wednesday and 8 Friday, and there were some good miles, and some worrisome sore knee moments in there. But Friday was mostly good, so I was optimistic for the 20, but a little nervous.

So I did my usual easy start, with the first 5 on wood chips as I warmed up and mile 6 over the hill to the beach where the rest would be flat along the beach.

I love the new Garmin Connect elevation and pace graphs. You can see my "warmup" 6 miles, the hill, and then where the "time-trial" begins at sea level.

First mile I'm trotting along feeling good. Knee seems to be behaving. It is overcast with the marine layer rolling in from the ocean. I am hopeful it will stay cloudy for the three hours I need and I can avoid the heat of the sun. I think about Roger and Shanda who are already an hour into their marathons in Long Beach about 15 miles away. It was good to have a Loop lunch with them and Atom Buddy and JB and IMBBananas yesterday. 9:09

Mile 2 I come across some street closures. Oh yes, the Hermosa triathlon is today! This is a Sprint tri I have done three times. I hop off the chips and run in the closed street. No bikes are here yet, but before I get off the course, the lead biker shows up with police escort. I will be coming back through here at the end and I try to calculate if the race will still be going on. Perhaps. Race mojo kicks up my pace. 8:38

I seem to be feeling pretty good and pace is about what it is on a good day on the trail. I tried to tell myself to stay at 8:20 today as a trial for the marathon, since I would love to go out slow and see if it would work better than my usual bank and bonk strategy. But I seem to be incapable of keeping my pace down. Miles 3-5 are 8:28, 8:21 and 8:05. On the wood chips. Mile 6 up the hill still is 8:24. All this points to the pace being under 8 once I get to the flat bike path...

Sure enough. Miles 7-14: 7:59, 8:01, 7:52, 7:51, 7:48, 7:49, 7:50, 7:56

I'm just more comfortable working a little bit. Plus there was this guy 200 yards ahead of me at the same pace, and having that hare out there makes it easy to go faster than maybe you should...Eventually I let him go when I stopped for water. Still the 7:50's surprised me. Gotta be the Hokas.

The sun was staying hidden, and I felt good, so I started to think maybe I could hold this sub-8 the whole way!

Not so fast. About mile 15 I started to feel tired. 8:06. And the rest of the way I went through the five stages of grief.

Mile 16: Denial - No, you're not pooping out, just a little fatigue. This 2nd GU and a short break will rejuvenate you! 8:09

Mile 17: Anger - Oh crap. Totally falling apart now. Ugh. Why do I go out too fast?! Idiot! 8:28

Mile 18: Bargaining - Can I walk yet? Just keep going and you can stop for water every 1.5 miles - even though it's not that hot out. You can do it! 8:09

Mile 19: Depression - This marathon is going to hurt like hell. Why do I do this to myself. Ugh, I suck. 8:30

Mile 20: Acceptance - Hey, you made it! Sure the pace sucks, but not that bad, huh? 8:40

Ended up with 20.4 miles at 8:14 pace, with the last 14 at 8:05. Definitely a good day! Looks like NYC will be a bank and bonk day, but I can live with that. By the way, in mile 19 I came through the end of the triathlon and got to see the last runner approaching the finish line. So I saw two triathletes, the first and the last, and a whole triathlon took place while I was running.

A little more work this week, and then looking forward to a taper.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Racing and Not Racing - 10K RR

I came into this one with tired legs and little motivation. The Grand Canyon last weekend beat me up pretty good, so I was sore for about 4 days, and sluggish on my two mid-week runs. But this is one of my favorite local races, so I signed up anyway. All my running group buddies would be there, and 3,000 other locals. This would be my 14th time running this 10K. Tradition counts for a lot.

So I put on my Club uniform and got my butt out there. Warmed up for about half a mile, nodding to all the others wearing the same uniform (about 50 of us- most of whom kicked my butt). And I lined up to race. My strategy - go out and see how I feel and adjust. I had a very small hope that I could PR (6:59 pace). In case Loop magic brought a miracle. If I wasn't so tired I would have had a good shot. But realistically I planned to be conservative and just run. Run hard, but no need to hurt myself.

So off we went. I had to dodge a lot of newbs who lined up in the front, but soon got on track. First pace check was 7:25, but it was dropping. I chased a few of my teammates and got into a groove. Pace dropped to 7:18, 7:14, 7:12. Went through mile 1 in 7:08.

The first mile was fun! I thought ...just maybe....but then it started to get hard. A short hill hit me harder than it should have and I was struggling a little. So I eased off a bit and tried not to huff and puff too much. By the time I felt better my pace was 7:30 and I had another little hill to climb. Nope, it wasn't going to be a magical PR day.

But I was still working and trying to stay on the edge of not dying. I found a new comfort zone and it was kind of fun to be running at 80-90% effort instead of 100%. Hard, but not so painful that you wonder what the hell you're doing. Miles 2 and 3 were 7:28 and 7:31.

I started racing a little more after this. Found people I wanted to pass. Pushed a little more into race mode. Mile 4 was 7:17. Then in mile 5 we hit the big hill which always brings me to a gasping shuffle. Survived that in 7:33 and found myself at the last mile along the beach heading for the finish.

Normally I am suffering big-time at this point. It was fun to be at tempo effort and able to push it and pass people without feeling like I was going to puke and collapse. Mile 6 was 6:58 and then the last 1/4 at 6:25 pace into the finish.

Final time 45:33. Over two minutes slower than last year. But I felt good. It was a nice 85% effort tempo run on a warm day and I got a cool t-shirt. 10K #97 in the books.

Then to punish myself for not trying, I went out Sunday and did 11 to get back into marathon training. Still tired legs, but not bad considering. Averaged 8:30 pace and finished strong on a hot day.

Now I've got a few more weeks to build endurance for NYC.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Is it Possible to Race without Racing?

My legs are tired. But I have a 10K tomorrow.

Originally I had hoped to try and beat last year's time. Which was an AGPR of 43:14. But, as usual, I overstuffed my calendar and did the Grand Canyon last weekend, and I am definitely still recovering. The soreness is pretty much gone now. I did 5.5 on Tuesday and 5 miles last night. And they felt OK. But just OK. I'm certainly not tapered to race a hard 10K.

So I will show up in the morning. And I will tell myself to just go out conservative and not worry about chasing that 6:59 pace. But I don't know if that is possible. It's a race! Must! Run! Hard!

So I kind of expect to blow up and suffer and die. The course has a nasty hill at mile 5. Why can't I just run it for fun? 8 minute pace? Enjoy the festive atmosphere and then run 12 on Sunday for marathon training? Yes, that's what I'll do....

Not sure if I can do that.

Stupid competitive juices.