MarathonMaiden's Blog

September 6, 2011

The Race That Wasn’t Supposed to be a Race. And Wasn’t. Really.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — marathonmaiden @ 12:36

I’m really glad that the DRC Breakfast Bash 5M that I ran on Saturday morning wasn’t supposed to be taken as an actual race for me.

competetor . com

While the above picture isn’t exactly what happened to me during the race it was probably the longest 5 miles. Of. My. Life.

The plan was to get some miles in before the race and then take the race as MP, to get some pace work in, as it was the LR day for the group ( I still feel weird calling it “my group” despite having run with them 3 times in the 3 weeks I’ve been here and 2 weeks in Dallas). MP, of course, means nothing to me as I’m not signed up for a marathon and sooo am not in marathon *racing* shape or really any racing shape.

I met with up with two friends to do a 9 mile loop around White Rock Lake beforehand. My goal was to run the first 9 slow and then just push the race. We started out at 0600 (and it was PITCH BLACK) and we went…slowish. The first mile was nice and slow, right where we wanted it to be (we were shooting for 9:45 average) and then picked it up a bit too much for our liking given how early we were in the run, the first three miles were 9:30 average. Normally this wouldn’t matter too much but we had that race after.  We locked into 9:45 even for miles 3-7.5 and then slowly picked up the pace over the next mile and a half.

Grand total pre-race: 9 miles in 87 minutes even, which is a 9:39 pace. I’m pleased with it.

We finished up with about 20 minutes before the 8am start and I’m pretty sure it was hot out. As I mentioned above the goal for the race portion was to go at MP.  One of my friends who did the lake loop with me wanted to target 9:00-15 pace, and I wanted…well ideally I wanted to PR, but that would mean a sub-7 pace.  Did I ever mention I was delusional?! I set my sights, however, on a sub-9 pace.  Ideally just under since my speed session during the week indicated those were the paces I was training for (according to that chart). As I told my friends earlier in the run, I want a sub-9 pace, even if it’s one f#$%ing second sub-9.

Summary of the race: It hurt and tested me mentally. I gunned it from the get go and my first mile was a little fast, second mile a little slow but the last three were dead on even (8:50, 8:58, 8:55, 8:55, 8:54). According to my watch (and I had to stop and tie my shoe and stopped my watch.  If it’d been a training run, which essentially this was, I’d have done the same. Don’t judge) my time was 44:42, which about a 8:56 pace.  Officially I ran a 45:01.  Annoying 1 second.

I’m pleased.  It’s what I wanted, even and hard effort, and my pace, while definitely not my marathon paces in the past, felt hard and challenging and it was a good workout on tired legs. And  I’ll repeat: it was the longest damn 5 miles of my life.  Thank god for some guy that chatted with me during the second half who kept me going and not letting me quit (and called me silly for not taking any water at the water stop. HA)

That said, after talking with some peeps from the group post-race (see below picture), I’m still excited to get into a training mode for my half in early November. I also got a mini-massage on my achilles and hips because they’re acting up, no injury but just tightening.  Silly Dallas and all your concrete!

Oh yeah, in a race that I was not racing at all I got 4th AG. So maybe it was a race for me. Evidently my AG isn’t too competitive here.  Too bad I’m bumping up one this fall and it’ll get more competitive. Damn.

I went out to Ft. Worth that night with a friend (who ran the loop with me) and met up with a bunch of people, including a girl I went to college with.  We danced the night away! It was so much fun despite, out of all the people we hung out with I only knew two of the people. But I guess now I have more friends after that night.

The rest of the weekend was about recouping, both from the race and getting home from Saturday night at 0430 Sunday.

I got a little taste of home on Labor day, when I stepped out my door for a morning run: 67* and a nice crisp breeze. Yay for “cold fronts”

But after being here for close to 3 weeks now, with the lows in the 80s and the highs being 100+, it did almost felt chilly – guess I’m embracing the whole Texan thing.  I wanted to go for a mid-distance run (and I got it) but I also wanted to get some type of faster turnover and I figured that my legs should be adequately rested from the pace work on Saturday and would be ready for the group quality workout Wednesday if I did them today.

I settled for a minute-ladder: 1-2-3-3-2-1, with half recovery between them.  I toyed with the idea of doing it twice (because grand total my miles were around 10.7 and the above workout wouldn’t take that long) but after the last interval, I could take the second ladder or leave it.  So I left it. I’m second guessing my decision so if anyone has any input (*cough*FLO*cough) on what the “correct” thing to do was I’d love to hear it. I’m sure that if I took equal recovery for the intervals I’d have been able to do the second ladder but I’m never sure how much rest to take during speed sessions.

I figure that since I’m getting back into quality workouts, I think I’ve only done 4 or 5 speed ones including today, and that last week was my first “training week” with 92 miles. It might be good to ease back into it and work up to multiple ladders? On the other hand I ran over 10 total and maybe the long slow portion negated the faster minutes.

Who knows. I clearly overthink things. This morning was an even “chillier” one: 63*.  I was running and looking around expecting leaves to be changing and apples to be ripe for the pickin’.  No such luck.  This is Texas after all.  I got my 8+ in though.  I’m thinking of hitting up my standby neighborhood run (aka I can run on people’s grass and not concrete) later today when it’s *only* 80-something degrees out.

September 1, 2011

Of Ladders and Recovery and Racing

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — marathonmaiden @ 16:18

First off I need to give a HUGE shoutout to my girl Lesley for hanging out/driving me to Super Target for groceries. She’s the BEST! I actually ran into her during our long runs this past Saturday (we ran by each other) and hopefully I can get together and run with her someday (and go to the zoo. Remember now, you promised 😉 )

Thanks google

I swear I’m not 5 years old and/or her 4th kid.

Back to running because I guess moving and unemployment have been the best things to happen to it.  And to my blog posting abilities.

The group I’ve linked up with WRRC decided to make their speed session workout Tuesday morning. At 5am. Now in any “normal circumstance” (because trust me I realize that getting up at 4am to haul ass around a track is not in any way shape or form normal) I’d be all for it.  But with no car, I have to take the rail.  And catching a 0432 rail after walking a mile in the dark to the station is not ideal.  I don’t live in the worst neighborhood per se, but it made me uneasy.  So I figured I’d do it on my own.

Unfortunately some upsetting dreams (and I’ve been having VIVID dreams lately) had me oversleeping and I knew that trying to do speedwork once the sun comes up is not prudent.  As it stands in my log book I ended up getting a mid-distance run in, which might not have been prudent either given the lack of water stops on the “trail” I was on.  I did 11 but based on the time and my effort I feel like it should have been more.

I suppose it serves me right for starting a run at 8am although in my defense that’s the weather I’ve been running in all summer back home (86* and home has higher humidity which makes it feel worse) so I figured I’d be okay.  My stomach by the end was all upset in its “dehydration ouchie” state.  I think on the way home I stopped a couple times to stretch it out. Lesson learned: this is Texas. Bring water. (and drink more H2O in general. Adding lemonade powder to my water has been a lifesaver lately though because I can only take so much water!)

The only saving grace to the run was that it drizzled for the whole first half.  Actually I’m not sure if this made it better or not as I felt a little more humidity about.  At least there wasn’t any true lightning like there was on Monday morning when it poured (now that felt good).

The rest of the day (and really any day) was spent recovering (aka feet up and applying to jobs) for:

WEDNESDAY’S BIG DAY OF RUNNING

The track workout that I didn’t do Tuesday was on tap.  I had set my alarm for 0530 so I could easily be out the door before 0600. I ended up getting up at 0600.  Still well before the sunrise, so it’s okay.  The temp was 88*.  Ouch.

On tap was

  • Warmup
  • 800-1200-1200-800 (with 400m recovery between)
  • Warmdown

This was created, I think, by one of the guys in the Running Coop and he’s posted on the FB group page a “Ladder Pace Chart” for what you should try and hit depending on your marathon goal.  For me, I’m not signed up for a marathon so I really had no clue what I should do.  A few weeks back I did some 800s at 7:20-30 pace which according to the pace chart below was what the group aiming for a 3:40-3:50 marathon would target.

Because I’m delusional I decided I wanted to go faster and hit paces targeting a 3:20-40 marathon (and corresponding to a 1:34-44 half, see below). Don’t forget that out of all my marathons, I’ve run 75% of them slower than 3:30 and my half PR is 1:33:something.

Delusional.

Because here’s the pace chart (I figured it’d be easier for y’all to see it with your own eyes rather than me confuse you by trying to explain it)

Yes I am aware it’s an oddly shaped image with a lot of space at the bottom. Deal (although the whole point was so that you guys could read it. Hopefully you can get it to enlarge, maybe by clicking on the image to open it in a new tab/window?)

In order to do this workout I needed to find a track.  This shouldn’t have been a problem.  And wouldn’t have been if I had a car at the moment.  But I don’t.  So I needed something within an appropriate warm up distance.  I found it but the one I found definitely had a sign that said “stadium for school district use only”.  Oops. I had to even walk through the school to get to the track.  Luckily I was able to get in because it was unlocked for the football team.

Side note: I grew up in MA, my high school’s football team (and football in general in the league) was, and likely still is, a joke. In college I didn’t have a team. So this was fascinating in it’s own right.

I guess I can share my speeds/what I actually hit.  As I said above I was targeting the 320-3:40 pace on the chart, but in reality I ended up hitting more of a 3:50-4:00 goal. (rest was one lap, and typically took me ~3 minutes. The recovery according to the pace chart is above but is supposed to be marathon goal in minutes:seconds).  So here are the splits, for 800s it’s broken 400+400 time, for the 1200s it’s broken 800+400 times

  • 800:   1:55 + 1:50 = 3:45 (7:30 pace)
  • 1200: 3:55 + 1:57 = 5:52 (7:52)
  • 1200: 4:00 + 2:00 = 6:00 (8:00)
  • 800:    1:58 + 1:58 = 3:56 ( 7:52)

The workout itself ( again, done mostly in the dark. Ugh late sunrises but yay to seeing the sunrise) went meeeeeeeeeeeeeeh. I mean, I hauled assMajor ass. But it just wasn’t pace wise where I thought I should be.  I was wayyyy off of the goal for me, with the second half of the ladder being much slower than the first and despite me feeling like I was pushing HARD.  Next week I’m going to haul butt to do the speed session with the group because I know that during the intervals it wasn’t a constant “on”, it was a slow down/speed up routine that made me feel like crap.

Shouldn’t have been too surprising though given how slow I’ve been running all summer but I wanted something faster to make my decision whether to run a fall / winter marathon (or even half) clearer. Only good thing about the run (well I guess just getting out there and running fast is a good thing) was that the football coach  asked me “Marathoner?” and I said yes, and told him a potential goal race to which he said “you have an excellent footfall. Wish I could teach my kids that”. That made me smile and probably put a little pep in my step for that last 800.

But I guess it’s a good/decent barometer as to where I am at the moment.

Later that night I went for a group run with the Coop.  I met up with my friend beforehand for a little over 2 miles and the loop with the group was a little over 6 so I got ~8.4 on the night.  The pace felt easy (except for some rolling hills at the end and humidity when we hit White Rock lake) and it was faster than my usual runs.  Not sure what that means.  What I do know is that it left me with 16 for the day.

I didn’t get back to my apt until close to 2200, had to eat dinner and shower AND *register for the DRC half in November before the price increased today*. After the group run, sitting around at Fuzzys Tacos, I wasn’t really talked into it per se but it just made sense.  Something to train for.  Something relatively soon. Something not a marathon. I still have marathon *ideas* but that’s all there is to them.  We’ll see how the half goes first (and if I get a job to pay for it!)

I didn’t get into bed until late and, normally not a big deal but with the Texas heat I really can’t run mid-morning anymore.  So I’m skipped  my scheduled 7 for this morning.  Maybe I’ll get it in tonight (very likely) but we’ll see. I’m babying my Achilles at the moment because, as I mentioned yesterday, Dallas “trails” are really just concrete bike paths that they call multi-use paths. Guess this is a city built on concrete.  I’m not quite sure why but I suspect asphalt would melt in the summer but that’s my theory.

Anyway, it’s September 1st, meaning I should do a “Previously on MM” post for August. I’m going to wait a bit. Lots of stuff went down in August, but I feel like in my last two or three posts you’ve gotten it all.  I’ll have to put my creative juices to work and come up with something wicked pissah to put into words my monthly total.  Hmmmmmmmmmm.  As if applying to jobs wasn’t zapping all my mental capacity!

And since you’ve read this thus far (seriously, I mean what I wrote about unemployment being good for the blog above!):

thansk google

August 31, 2011

To Race or Not To Race

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — marathonmaiden @ 12:43

It’s probably a silly question.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love racing: going fast is awesome.  But on the other hand, I’ve let myself get way out of racing shape.  Mostly by running long and slow but also not taking care of myself terribly well this past summer. In retrospect maybe I could have done things differently but whatever, I did what I needed to do.

That said, once I moved here I jumped on the chance to run/train/race.  I met one of my friends in the Dallas area last December (actually I met in real life a lot of people that December) at White Rock.  We keep in touch via RW and now FB as well as, duh, real life.  She’s part of a running group (The White Rock Running Coop) that meets twice a week, very informally, to do a LR on Saturday and then a speed workout in the middle of the week.  This past week they actually met three times because the afternoon heat has made speedwork hard, so that was changed to an early am session and the night run is a recovery one.

Anyway, the long and short of it is that ever since I’ve known I was going to move here (as in once I had actual plans to do so) she invited me to the FB group for the group and I’ve been excited ever since.  Training with a group is awesome. Don’t get me wrong I love my solo runs. But I ran a long run with them last Saturday and their training mindset was infectious.  After Boston I had vowed to take off racing for the year; I was definitely overtrained, injured and just tired of push push pushing.  These guys are all training for fall races, ranging from Chicago to White Rock, and it got a little bit of the “hey I want to do that. Hey I want to follow a training schedule and have workouts with NAMES again.”

thanks google images

Now I haven’t gone off the deep end and registered for any races yet (I have registered to become a member of the Dallas Running Club and with that you get 8 free races.  I’m not counting those, especially since this one on Saturday is going to be after a 9-10 mile run as part of the long run) but I have some on my little “I want to do them” list.  A couple have price increases as of September 1st and I hate having pressure on me, especially since I still don’t know what I’ll do.

So the title of this post may be a tease because I clearly have no information as to my fall race schedule to give myself, much less you.  I am, however, training as though I’ve committed.

The first week that I was here (and for those of you who missed my last post I am not longer in Providence RI but now in Dallas, TX) I just ran easy.  No shock because that’s what I’ve been doing all summer. It was all about A) getting acclimated to the weather (it’s been 100+ every day with the lows being PVD’s highs!) B) exploring the area — both via bus/rail and running by getting out on the “trails” :

DallasCounty.org

While the trails can be pretty, there are the quote marks because it’s concrete. My legs are taking a beating due to it!

After being here in TX a week, I decided last Thursday (the 25th) to do a speed session. After actually making the move to Texas I felt that my life was less chaotic and during the exploratory run the previous night I felt the itch to do something structural with my running week. So on Thursday I set out.  In 85* @ 7am weather. Excellent.

I’d actually only been in Dallas for a day at that point due to the apartment fail but I had found a nice field on my previous run and thought it’d be good to use for speed work.  I was secretly hoping for a track there but it wasn’t too be.  I used a soccer field instead and did the following workout:

  • 4 X 3 laps of the field (~1000m) with 1.5 laps of recovery (~500m)

After some “extensive” google searching I took the average of all the measurements out there to be that 3 laps of a soccer pitch is ~1000m, and for my pace calculation I took it to be .6 miles. Good enough for me. How’d it go?

  1. 4:32 (7:33)
  2. 4:31 (7:32)
  3. 4:37 (7:43)
  4. 4:39 (7:45)

I guess I’ll take it? It’s slightly slower pace wise then when I did my 4 X 800m three week prior but slightly faster than when I did my 4X1 mile two weeks ago.  Since I really have no idea how long the entire field was, my paces ranged from 15 seconds faster (if you assume I ran further than the distance I used) to 30 seconds slower (if you assume I ran shorter). With all that guesswork involved I’ll just say that I’m happy with it because it felt hard and very taxing.

Just an interesting note that I saw lightning off in the distance during these early bird hours of running. Weird to me to have those t-storms so early; in MA/RI those storms crop up in the late afternoon. And there was a creepy kid doing soccer drills in the field.

No apologies for this one. Once I wrote lightning I had to watch it. And then share

This past Saturday was my first group LR.  I think I’ve run by myself for long runs with the exception of maybe 5 total.  This was the day that I started really feeling the itch of having a marathon on tap this fall.  The plan was to go for 15 miles, but a few wrong turns from the group leader got us to 15.6. NBD in my book.

We started at 0600 to try and get the bulk of the miles before the sun came out (sun rises around 7 in these parts) and the run was okay.  With my summer going how it went and the Texas heat I started out with the group that was running 9:45 pace and stuck with them.  At first I felt like I could have gone faster but I’m glad one of the guys told me not too.  I felt great until mile 11.  Miles 11-13 were eh.  After that I just wanted to be done.  I did finish: 15.6 miles @ 9:45 pace. As one of the guys told me at the end:

“Welcome to Texas”

Also just a note, because this is getting sooooooooooooooo freaking long!, I started a bare bones strengthening workout this week that I plan on doing 2-3 times a week (found it in a recent RW I think).  Nothing major but it makes me feel like I’m doing something.  At some point I’ll add to it or actually hit a gym but it’s good for a nice quick 10-minutes-and-I-feel-better-about-myself lift.

  • 20 walking lunges
  • 50 crunches
  • 10 pushups
  • 20 squats
  • 30-45 seconds of plank

I’m going to call this past week (August 22-28) my first week of training.  For what? Who knows. But after those two workouts above, re-starting a strength plan (hadn’t done anything like that for arms/core since May and legs was probably December) I’m beat and wearing compression socks to bed.  I’m sure adjusting to the heat has something to do with it too. No injuries although, as I mentioned above, my legs are feeling achy from the concrete. Regardless I finished up with 62.7 miles. Lower than I’d like but a solid place to start.

Wow I didn’t realize how much I had to say about my running lately. Sure makes up for my lack of exciting running this summer! I’ll post my track workout that I did this morning (it was the group workout that I had missed Tuesday morning because I wasn’t going to walk in the dark to get there!) tomorrow or Friday because it was a doozy and put some things in perspective in terms of races and this fall, as well as the group recovery run I’m going to tonight.

August 29, 2011

Howdy Y’all

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — marathonmaiden @ 12:09

Hi all! I had planned to do some comprehensive posts of all my life changes, because I’m finally ready to unveil them but I’ve been busier than I though lately and that coupled with lack of good internet time just meant that I couldn’t do anything with the blog.  I definitely can’t promise that I’ll update regularly even now because I still haven’t subscribed to an internet service yet.

If I ever though that last year was the year of changes for me, 2011 went out and proved it all wrong. I’d have to say that, while 2010 brought really good accomplishment changes, 2011 has tested me.  Especially this past summer I don’t really like to post lots of personal stuff here so I’m not going to go into detail BUT the major life changes that hit me were

  • Ending of my job.  It was only a year long position so I knew that it would end. In the late spring/early summer I started looking for a job.  Except no one in RI is hiring. No bueno.
  • The death of my grandfather on July 3rd.  I wasn’t ever going to mention it on the blog but it was very unexpected in the way that he died (he went into surgery which he had a 10% chance of surviving, made it through(!!) and then crashed 6 days later when they went to lower his BP meds) and it hit me wayyyyy harder than I thought it would. I know that it took up a lot of my mental energy from May (when I found out he needed surgery) until now.
  • Boy drama.  Definitely not going to post that stuff here but it definitely affected my mood / brain energy.
  • Moving.  To Texas.  Remember when I came here last August? Yeah, I fell in love with the state.  I knew when I came back last year that I’d be there in 12 month.  On August 17th, 2011 I hopped on a plane.  Here I am. Everything about the move was stressful: From saying good bye to friends (although I did through myself a kick ass goodbye party)  to how to pack up my stuff, to what I definitely needed to bring, and what I needed to get when here as my original (and fully furnished) apartment fell through and I ended up crashing on a couch for the first 7 nights I was here.

It's true. Especially the bugs. They're waaaaaaaaaaay bigger than at home.

There were good stuff too to the summer.  I went to the beach twice, learned how to salsa dance, took a VACATION, connected with people, got really into karaoke etc.   But the bad weighed me down.  But I’m here.  I made it through the summer alive.  Even though the above stresses aren’t gone (still looking for a job, still get teary eyed occasionally thinking of Papa, adjusting to moving to a place on a gut feeling) and new stresses have cropped up (how do I figure out the DART system because I don’t have a car?) I feel good.  As Ian Malcolm said

All major changes are like death. You can’t see what is on the other side until you get there.

I had no idea what to expect when I got here. I couldn’t even speculate what to expect. I kept thinking I didn’t have any friends or family or anyone here.  And that I was moving to a new state 100% on my own. But I discovered that Texans won’t hear of that and I have friends here that I didn’t know I could count on the way I can and actually have been counting on. I’m so not alone.

Yay fountains!

Now that I’m here, I LOVE it and feel silly for feeling so scared before I left (I was debating not hopping on my plane). Except for the AC.  I’ve NEVER lived with it before.  And I’m chilly.  Like, way chilly. My sister looked at me crazy when I packed sweaters to move to Texas, in August, but I’m sitting here in the apartment complex office freezing. I’ll go out in a few hours and sit by the pool (after getting another round of job applications going) so I guess it’s all good.  I almost feel like a menopausal woman…almost.

I feel like everyone could end this heat wave by opening the windows/doors and cooling down the state with their A/C

As you probably figured I have been running. And have been the entire time I’ve been here.  Typically I’ve done a mix of some runs around sunrise, where temps are in the upper 80s, and some around 1800, where temps are in the 100+* range.

At first the running was nothing major mileage wise, I just didn’t have the routes / feel comfy enough to really explore (even with my Mace). So my weekly miles have been taking a hit, because my runs ranged from 5-8 the first week and a half.  The paces were slightly faster than back home, which was surprising.  Not by much but there wasn’t the “holy moly it’s hot let’s walk” thing that I’d have expected from the get-go.  Now that my legs are getting used to ~40 miles less per week (the last 4 weeks have been 101, 85, 65, 62) I’d expect to go faster.

And who knows.  I certainly plan on ramping up my miles and racing, which means I do expect to get faster/back into racing shape.  I’ve signed up to join the Dallas Running Club, which as part of it you get to do 8 of their races (first one for me is Saturday!) and discounts on 3 others.  I think I’ll be in training sooner rather than later. Especially since I’ve joined an informal running group to train with that one of my friends from RW hooked me up with (they are / were part of the DRC training group but wanted something more relaxed for group runs) and did a LR with them this past weekend and plan on joining them to run twice this upcoming week.

And since this post is getting long and I have more to say, I’m going to break it off here. The next post will have the specific workouts I’ve done since getting here and why I think I’ll be training for something in the near-ish future despite my proclamations of not racing the rest of 2011 because 2011 can suck it (see above for why it hasn’t been good).

Again: LOVE IT.  Everything just feels right despite the heat  wearing me down at the end of the day; I’m typically asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. And the sun rises so late here! I guess I’m not in Kansas (or RI) anymore…

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