Saturday, October 31, 2009

23 hours and counting

honestly, i can't remember the last time i slept so poorly. and the race isn't even until tomorrow. i think the mix of being a little worried about forgetting something at home, traveling to a new city, and my first race were all just a little too much. the caffeine i had at 3pm probably didn't help either. so i lay in bed until well after 1am with my gears spinning. finally fell asleep at some point after that and then woke up at 5am needing to pee. did this thing where i half-sleeping bargain with myself that i will get up but i WILL NOT RESUME THINKING. i will simply focus on going to the bathroom and then relaxing into bed. needless to say, it did not work. my mind was off and running. some time around 6am (which is when, with the change in daylight savings - 5am, i will need to get up tomorrow) i finally started getting really tired. of course it was time to get up soon thereafter.

given that this is my first race really i just want to have fun. but its extremely difficult for me not to get overburdened by the weight of my own expectations. i can tell myself, my only race goal is to finish (or something like that) but i know its not true. i have all these elaborate and obsessed over time (pace) goals that i am freaking out about that i know i shouldn't have allowed onto the table for a first race in the first place. argh.

for now, i am glad to be out of bed. am headed to the gym (very briefly) to work out any kinks on the arc/bike/elliptical for a few minutes and then do some stretching. want to leave plenty in the tank for tomorrow (which would be completely unnecessary, i realize, if my intention were simply to finish and not running for time).

i see a lot of people posting A, B, and C goals before their races and i like this idea. so again, although i realize my C goal should be my only goal, i couldn't resist setting up other goals. i am nervous about these because i have never run in a large group or with nerves seriously in play. what if i have to go to the bathroom and it takes 3 minutes? what if my shoes are giving my trouble and i have to stop to re-tie them? what if i get boxed in behind people? what if i totally freak out being in such a large group? for now, please think positive thoughts that none of these things come to pass and as long as they don't my goals are as follows:
C goal: Finish. My leg is 6.55 miles. This is doable barring bad and unexpected occurrences.
B goal: 55 minutes. This would be an 8:24 pace. Almost all of my tempo runs and long runs have been faster than this. But then again I stop my watch to tie my shoes or if stopped by traffic etc. Although a part of me will be disappointed with this pace I believe this is a respectable achievement.
A goal: 53 minutes. This is a slightly sub 8:06 pace. My pace tends to hover here on longer (6-8) runs and I would be very happy to finish with this time.

Last night at Wegmans, Marty Mazur (from the NVRC) came up to me and started chatting about the race this weekend. People with really good memories are risky to tell things to - let me say that. On our run 2 weeks ago I mentioned wanting to run an 8:00 pace for the race and so last night he brought this up, in the context of wishing me luck and conveying that he thought I could do it. Now I feel all this pressure to go sub 8:00. I don't want to be torturing myself about this. I am going to try to stop.

In conclusion. Wish me luck! Think speedy, healthy, and non-socially phobic/claustrophobic thoughts tomorrow. Gun time is 7:30am (don't forget the clocks fall back tonight). And please don't ask me which of my goals I achieved. Everyone else should pretend that my only goal was to finish, and be happy for me if I do that.

Friday, October 30, 2009

t-minus 2 days

2 days til the race. woke up this morning and am not having any more pain than yesterday. i can feel some uneasiness in my left ankle on the outside below the bone even at rest, but the pain is maybe a 1. walking and even pretend running seem ok, with no increase in pain as long as my foot falls squarely. as soon as there is some lateral motion i have more pain. will continue to ice and relax and hopefully will be painful by tomorrow evening. am heading to the gym now to do a little light crosstraining - not sure what i'll do, cardio, weights, core - we'll see. gotta do a last minute load of laundry with some stuff we want for race weekend (most importantly james' new racing socks).

dreary day. dreary mood. still trying to figure out about this USATF rule about no headphones as both james and i would really prefer to run with music.

i am committed to an awesome weekend, so i gotta turn this day around -- how often do we get to take a mini-vacay. we will enjoy ourselves. i insist!

update: workout was not too painful. things don't feel quite right but my pain did not increase and no swelling or major discoloration. feeling a little more hopeful again about the race on sunday. even indulged in a little fantasy about sprinting to the finish and cheering james as he starts his leg of the race.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

crappiest run of the season

that was like the crappiest run ever.

i had an immediate cramp from the powerbar i was testing as prerace breakfast food that didn't particularly go away at any point. there was traffic and i had to keep craning my neck to make sure i didn't get hit. felt like i was going so slow but didn't have much to push because didn't want the cramp to flare up. and then an waupelani there was a guy with a leaf blower who had covered almost all of the sidewalk with leaves. and of course, right as i am coming to the end of that section (having been all careful to watch my footing) i turned my ankle. crunch, crunch - in both directions... not pleased about that. as i come to the door and dig into my shorts to retrieve my key (i had tied it by a string around my hips as my shorts have no pocket) the key has rubbed away a big chunk of skin leaving an angry and now painful patch.

Last run before race: FAIL. :-(

(4.25miles 35min)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

my very first bib

Team Manic Defense: Bib #3548 --  Its official!


having some foot pain that i do not want to be contending with on race day, but decided i should still go out for my easy run today. overcast 45 degrees when i left the house around 9am. have repeatedly failed on the weekend to achieve my prescribed "easy" pace so today wanted to make that happen. figured that 9min/mile would be just right not to tax the system (mostly its my joints, tendons, and ligaments i want to coddle). ended up running 5.9 miles in 53 minutes, so was right on my projected pace. that being said, my first two miles were right on, my middle 2 miles were too slow (closer to 9:20 - no wonder i felt like i was crawling and my perceived exertion was way down) and then my last two had some hills so 8:55 miles felt steady with a little added effort. my right foot bothered me for the first 2 miles and then opened up a little. my left foot actually got worse during the run. i think that my mechanics at any pace slower than 8:45 (on the flat, 9ish on hills) do something bad for feet. makes running long slow distance difficult at this point. i get pessimistic about what this means for my ability to do longer distances but just need to wait and see. sigh.

after an unexpected addition of a fifth letter writer (louis) and the appic portal shutting down for maintenance and then rebooting with some "display" issues - my materials were finally all set and checked twice around 10:30 this morning and i submitted all 20 applications. so i can enjoy my race weekend and look forward to a month (or so) of other work before we start hearing about interviews.

Monday, October 26, 2009

blog envy

i am having blog envy. i am now reading lots of different people's blogs and increasingly am aware that they have very cool stuff all over their blog - images, PRs, race reports, upcoming races, pics, etc. I am not very good with the whole technology thing so my blog format is pretty lame. i'd like to spruce it up, but i can't seem to figure out how people do the cool stuff they do. For example. I have this picture i'd like to put in the top right corner of my blog. whenever i try to include it in the title part it goes to the left. I also can't seem to make a picture go that high up if its not in the title. etc. etc. i could include a little PRs thing on the sidebar - but does it count setting PRs on training runs?

ah well.

after much tightness yesterday after my run, the pizza (which gave me crazy bread body) definitely helped my energy rebound. Right hammie, was somewhat tight this morning. Did some hill intervals on the arc trainer. Have 2 easy runs on the docket for this week but kind of have a hankering to go to the highschool track and run some 400s -- perhaps a masochistic side of me is vying for attention. We shall see.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

t minus 7 days and counting

pooped at the end of a long day of annoying internship application stuff... run was good. details below. apologies for the lack of narrative.

route: whitehall to college, to shingletown, to west branch, to atherton, to university, home...jogging up and down the block to cool down.

time        dist    split

755        1           7:55
804        1           8:04
1442      1.87      7:52
921        1.15      8:10
714        .89        8:08
123        .175      7:54
1215      1.44      8:31   (last leg up university hill was slower than i'd like. having trouble breathing, think was a little dehydrated by that point. had plenty in my legs when wind subsided and i was able to breathe in last 200m and i pushed it in.)

total 1:00.53  7.55miles (8:04)

good deal of foot pain in the first 4 miles. had tied shoes tighter for more support as this spot on right front ankle had been bothering me but then the tongue of my shoe kept sliding to the right and onto the painful spot. at mile 3ish i finally loosened up my laces quite a bit and although the tongue kept sliding i had less pain. had some slight tighteness in left inner ankle (usual spot) starting around mile 5.

looks like i should (other conditions permitting) be able to sustain my goal 8:00 pace during the race, as there won't be any significant hills to contend with.

now i just need to get pain free and things should be all good for race day.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

in my dream last night i was experiencing an overwhelming loneliness that was untouched and unsoothed by seeing my childhood bestfriends, my parents, and even by being in one of my favorite "safe" places in the world. i woke up with an aching in my chest and had to talk myself out of the feeling, remind myself of my loving husband lying next to me in the bed. since then i haven't been able to shake the residual diffuse anxiety that came with this dream. no good excuse for feeling bad, yet can't seem to get away from it. harumph. workout didn't help either. hopefully tomorrow will be better. last long run before race day...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Patience is a virtue...

...that I do not possess.

It wasn't until James and I started dating (and then got engaged and married) that I realized that the way my family celebrates holidays and engages in gift-giving may not be the norm. As a young child I remember saving up my allowance (it may have been $3 per week back then) in order to be able to purchase a very large and awesome stuffed animal I so much desired. My mom and I came to an agreement that when I was able to cover half of the cost ($50) that she would cover the other half plus tax ($55). The day I had enough money we went to FAO and the huge Gund dog was mine. There was no waiting for my birthday or Hanukah. Gifts centered around either saving up the money or wanting something badly enough and having a good rationale for purchasing it. Fast forward 20+ years and the idea of waiting for gifts until 2 predetermined days of the year is hard to wrap my head around. Don't get me wrong, my first Christmas at James' parents' house was a fabulous treat. I have never received so many gifts at one time. But there is a cost. If I want something, I am supposed to wait, maybe even for months, and not purchase it myself in order to facilitate this process of getting longed for gifts on these 2 special days. I am NOT good at this. When I want something, I want it. I think about it every day. I go back and forth in my mind about whether I have enough money to buy it that very day. When James says "don't buy it" -- I understand that this is likely code for, "you'll get it soon" but... 
I WANT IT NOW!!!  (excuse my infantile outburst ;-) ). Strange that it is not made easier by knowing that this item is gratuitous and I am living and running fine without it...

Oh and about running: yesterday I ran an easy 4 miles in 34:30. Have a strange spot on the widest part of the my left foot then has been feeling bruised after each of my last 3 runs, don't know what is up with that. Only one more long run this Sunday and then 2 very easy runs before RACE DAY!  (oh and I am only awaiting one final letter and then I can submit all 20 applications ---could be done as soon as Monday!!!)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I am an Extreme Sport Bean

My goal for this morning was to do 5 miles at an 8:00 pace in order to see if that would be feasible on race day. I intentionally picked a relatively downhill course. To be accurate, the first two miles are on the uphill but then its flat and downhill for miles 3 through 5. I had some butterflies in my stomach before starting and was feeling the pressure a little bit, psyching myself out. The first mile or so of every run seems to be the hardest for me. As my lungs and legs get used to the exertion, I have these thoughts like, "I won't be able to keep going" "this is too fast" that I have to not pay too much attention to. Even though the route I took I've done a number of times, I still don't have a very clear sense of pace so I was basically pushing myself as hard as I felt I could without coughing up a lung, puking, or passing out. Okay, okay, it wasn't really all that fast or all that close to any of those possibilities. Just felt "hard." If I had had a heart rate monitor on I'm sure I'd have been in the 90+% MHR range and would have backed off. I think thats what a race pace is supposed to feel like though, so I kept slogging along. I didn't actually ever feel like I got in a good rhythm, but mile after mile ticked away and each one was sub 8:00. I have trouble reading my watch while moving, without risking banging it into my face (vision is rapidly declining as a consequence of advancing years and graduate school) so I wasn't quite sure where I stood... I came to my "finish line," pressed the stop button and looked down. 38:11!  Splits below:

I grabbed my knees, gasped for air, hocked a nice loogie, rested for about 30 seconds then continued on at an "easy" pace (meant to be around 10:00) for the 1.4 miles back home. Took just under 13 minutes before I arrived at my door. Legs felt heavy, not sure whether that was from the all out running or the 2/3mile hill to end the run. Stopped to stretch. Noticed the gorgeous blue sky, mild breeze, perfect day -- whoops! missed that during my run...  Came inside and munched on some watermelon sports beans, mmmm... In my pleasant endorphiny state thought to myself - "I am an Extreme Sport Bean"

Am now sitting here shivering under a blanket. Am not doing exactly as much reveling as I should be. This was a good run. A hard effort. Gave me a sense of how hard I might be able to push on race day (not quite this hard, as I don't think I could have done 1.55 more miles without giving in, but close). And really, it was quite a bit faster than I realized I could go. So I should feel good about this. Let me ponder that while I shower.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Trail Run

Awesome! Awesome! Awesome!

Met up with the NVRC to go for my longest run of the season. Was pretty nervous. Arrived at the designated location to find that the park and parking lot were closed due to all the fallen trees from the October snow. By 9am there were only four of us there and we decided to relocate to another entry point along the Toftrees path (at Waffle Shop parking lot). We were - Marty, Dave, Denise and me. Almost immediately Marty and I pulled away from Dave and Denise as we settled into an easy mid 9s pace. It was only about half a mile before we encountered the first large fallen tree obstructing the path. We climbed under and around and proceeded on. Marty had lots to say and told stories of the various runners in the group and their running successes and failures. Maybe about 2 miles in we were caught by Jeff another NVRC runner who had been searching for our group having missed us at the start. He seemed to be a much faster runner but stayed with us the whole way. There was much climbing under and around and through thick brush along the trail. When we popped out the back end of the trail (4.1 miles) Marty and I had some blood running down our legs. We made a nice little loop of the residential area at the end of the path before turning around. We then made our way back along the same trail. The weather was pretty gorgeous - low forties with hardly any wind. On the way back I was even a little warm in my shorts, tank and long sleeve technical t. I am very glad I didn't wear tights - I would have been too hot and I think I would have been worried about them getting torn or mangled by the brush. It wasn't until around 7 or 7.5 miles in that I started to feel a little bit of fatigue. The pace was so comfortable - I was able to talk throughout. Marty calls this one's "forever pace" - the pace at which you feel you could run forever. In the end the run was 8.8 miles and took 1:23.40. Without correcting for the time spent climbing through brush that put as at a 9:30 pace.  Felt awesome. Running with people is super fun. I hardly thought about the running part or how fast we were or weren't going. Perhaps this is a consequence of being at a moderate pace. We definitely ran faster on the way back than on the way out. 41 minutes for the first 4.1 miles (10:00). 5 1/2 minutes for the little residential loop of .6miles and then that leaves about 37:10 for the 4.1 back (9:04). I figure its safe to say we lost at least 2:40 to the wreckage. Correcting for that the pace was more like 9:12 overall, sub 9 for the back half. Unintentionally I think I just ran my first "distance run" with negative splits. My ego probably prevents me from running that slowly on the first half of my runs but it feels very good to have spring in your step on the second half.

So in conclusion: AWESOME.

group run

i'm going on a group run with the nittany valley running club this morning. the plan is a 9ish-miler around the toftrees area. this is my first run in a group and my longest run of the season...i have no idea how fast they will run...and i'm nervous... wish me luck!

Friday, October 16, 2009

gym closed due to power outages across the area. ground covered in slushy slippery snow. 45 minutes of Dance Dance Revolution counts as a workout right? what if i do some bicep curls, tricep extensions, and overhead presses?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

bring it

turns out 35 and driving sleet is gorgeous running weather!!!  my gear was not perfectly matched to the weather but not too bad. man tights have a slight disadvantage that i wouldn't have anticipated: the space in front for man goodies makes it difficult for me with my internal sex organs to keep them from sagging in the crotch and leaving a little area exposed to friction - for any sort of longer distance this could have been a really painful proposition. fleece did provide a nice barrier against the rain and then sleet but it was a little warm (for me) for above freezing temps. will need to look for an even lighter fabric.  the rain kept me relatively cool. i particularly like the sensation of the hot sweat coming out of the pores and mingling with the cold rain hitting my face.

run specs: 37 minutes, 4.44 miles (8:20 pace), 4 breaks to hike my tights back up into place (sorry to anyone who got a glimpse of this funny show).

snow in the forecast

right now its 36 and drizzly. i have bundled myself up in some running tights (james' not mine), a long sleeve t and a 100 weight fleece. can't tell if i'm going to be way too hot or too cold. i anticipate being very wet. think i am not going to run tempo as i need to get used to the wet road. we'll see how this goes. wish me luck.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Post results

Energy up!
Legs felt a little heavy but turnover was okay.
Blew a few very satisfying snot rockets. Running nose made catching my breath a little difficult, but nothing too bad.
Totally forgot about my aching heart.

Love running in sunny 40's, perfect weather. Took about 2 and a half miles for my hands to get warm, an another mile or so for the sweat to start flowing... Was running a new transition between to other legs that I've done a few times, thought I had looked closely enough at the map to know my turns but leave it to State College to have a missing road sign or two to throw things off. Got to my 4 mile marker and knew I needed to turn right on Sparks within .1 or .2 miles. I pass a road that looks promising but is unmarked so continue to the next road marked Gill -- can't remember from the map whether this is the road before the turn or the road that was supposed to tell me to I had gone too far. Decided to take it and then realized that I had no way of knowing which way to turn to get off of Gill which I didn't think went all the way back down to Westerly. Intuition kicked in and told me to cut through an alley back to that unmarked road and follow it. After a few blocks I at least knew I was converging on Westerly, even if I might hit a deadend and have to circle around a bit. But then, this cute little park emerged which I knew flanked my desired road-- and there I was a steep descent and Westerly appeared. Hit my lap button at the pre-determined marker for mile 5...turns out the mile was about 1.19 with the little detour. Ran pleasantly along Westerly toward Pugh and then uh-oh the hill on Pugh is serious; I couldn't even see the top. Trudged up and then thought my lungs might explode for a descent. Stopped to clutch my knees and take an FRS chew for about 30 seconds and then pressed on. This time I forgot where my mile 6 marker was an opted to wait for my lap with 1 mile left. For the first weeks of training I avoided Waupelani at the end of runs - .6miles straight up hill on tired legs is not fun. Today was not fun either. Told myself all I need was to stay under 10 minutes for that last mile, with the hill and I'd be under an hour for my run. Push push push and then home! More clutching of the knees and then James came outside (also just back from his run) and we stretched and shared details of our runs. Here are my specs:

9:18 / 1.19mi  (7:49)
9:09 / 1.10    (8:19)
8:57 / 1.02    (8:47)

58:56 / 7.31mi  (8:04)

Feel pretty good about this run. Still haven't run a whole hour, but given that I averaged more than 7mph, I'm happy with that as a "long" run for a half-marathon relay training program. Despite the stretching, legs feel tight right now -- probably one of the bigger disadvantages of running in the cool temps. Think I would have been too warm in tights.

pre-post experiment = successful.

(james also rocked his run -  over 8 miles, under 1 hour...3 weeks til race day!)

Pre-post experiment


Slept poorly with vivid and disturbing dreams.
Glutes are sore.
Head is congested but at least my cough seems to be under control and my breathing is unobstructed.
Heart aches. (Do you ever wake up and your heart aches for no apparent reason?)

Now I will put on my runner's armor (tiny shorts, tiny tank top, sneakers, tiny ipod shuffle) and head out for my longest run of this training season. See how many of the above outcomes I can shake free from...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Running: its not just for loners...

Yuko and I had the brilliant idea of joining forces for our Tuesday morning run. We make an excellent team. She kept pace and I for the first time ever, experienced what its supposed to feel like to run at an "easy" pace, at which you are not at all winded. It was awesome. Then it comes to my attention that my very sweet husband wants in on the action. We are going to go for a little run tomorrow morning. Its actually been about a month since we've been out on a run at all together, and two months since we were out on a 9 mile run around Brookline. I'm sort of excited to see if my running specific fitness is apparent tomorrow. In the past when we'd fun together I always felt like he was sort of dragging me along and I in turn was slowing him down. Now, I know that I'm still much slower than he is (my guess is we have a 30+ second discrepancy in various training paces: easy, tempo, strides), but my Sunday runs seem to indicate that I should be able to hang. Unlike my run with Yuko, I'm going to have to keep my mouth shut - conserve oxygen for the heart and legs, rather than spending on the talking.

Now its time to map out a nice little route. Wish me luck.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

chi running?

anyone tried out "chi running"?  thoughts? reactions? comments?

4 weeks out...

After a week of pathetic workouts and a nagging cold/virus that was just bad enough to keep me from working but not bad enough to make me feel justified in sitting around like a lazy ass, I am finally back in the saddle. Woke up this morning to a beautiful blue sky and temps in the high 40's. Had a nice 6 mile run all planned out and headed out the door right at 9am, with some caffeine on board and plenty of glycogen in my muscles from philly soft pretzels at dinner last night. About a quarter mile into my warm up I had an abrupt change of heart and decided that I was going to break with tradition. Rather than running a completely planned out route, in which I knew every mile marker and would therefore be racing myself for splits, I decided to change my route, run on feel and go for time rather than distance. After about a mile and a half I turned on Westerly Pkwy, which if followed until it terminates (now named Easterly) at University Dr is all on the flat or downhill. Felt very nice. For once I had a sense of what a comfortable pace is supposed to feel like. As I came upon University I decided that the large hills were not going to float my boat, so I turned around and ran back in the opposite direction and skipped the hills. The nice tailwind I had been riding (without realizing) now turned into a headwind which made things a little cooler and a little slower. I practiced Jenny Hatfield's technique for running on hills for the little .6mile hill on Waupelani heading back to my house. Finished in my driveway a little under 48 minutes (5.8ish miles), took a minute long break (that was niiice) and actually started running again. Did a little 1+ mile cool down, rounding out my run at 6.86 miles in a little over 57 minutes. The whole thing felt pretty good. I think I accomplished one of my goals, to run easier and a little slower.

Then, me being me, I came inside to look at my pace for the various legs of my run. I had wanted to run at a more moderate pace, not pushing so hard. The pink (rather than fire engine red) flush on my cheeks suggested that in terms of efforts I was on the right track. I didn't feel totally wrecked. My feet were not too bad. A little tightness in the left ankle, but manageable. My overall pace was 8:21. At first this was pleasing. Perceived effort was down but the pace only slacked by a little over 10 seconds. Then I started feeling that this was too slow and that I should have run faster. What is wrong with me?

All in all, a great training run. I wish I could have weekday runs like my Sunday runs. 4 weeks til race day! 3 weeks, 5 days til applications go in. (16 cover letters drafted as of Friday. 4 to go. Oh and one beast of a neuropsych report that I need to finish off.)

57:19min  /  6.86miles  = 8:21min/mi

Thursday, October 1, 2009

note to self: being sick is not useful for fitness or training.