Thursday, September 28, 2006

Easy recovery week

This is one of my scheduled recovery weeks. I am just running two days - Tues and Thurs - scheduled for 4 miles each. Actually I ran 5 miles on each day. I have a 5K race to run on Saturday and then my long run this week is another 14 miler.

This has been good since it has given my heel lots of time to rest up. Even on my run days it has been hardly sore at all.

I am excited because my 5 mile runs have been the fastest runs I have posted for that route. Today I ran it at a pace of 10:41 min/mile. At a pace of 10:30 I will set a PR for the 5K - which I believe I can maintain for 3 miles. So I am excited for Saturday's race.

I guess the toughest thing I have been contending with lately has been my appetite. In the morning after my run I have a protein shake (about 400 cal) followed about an hour later by a piece of fruit like a banana. By lunchtime I am SO HUNGRY!!! Then I tend to want to graze all afternoon. I try to keep healthy grazing snacks in my office like celery sticks or carrots but when I forget to bring something with me to work, I start foraging around by the vending machine. I realize I am burning more calories - I just want to keep my eating healthy.

Next posting will be a race report on Saturday. Run well everyone!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

I am so hooked!

I was so excited the other day when my 11 year old daughter decided she wanted to start running and asked if I would go with her. I had discussed it with her earlier, that we would start on an easy 30 sec run / 30 sec walk - then move up from there. It is also about 2/3 of a mile around the block, so that was a good starting distance. Depending on how she felt, we could do more laps.

So yesterday we took our first run together. 30/30 all the way around the block. She did great and we chatted the entire way. We will try to go again later today as well. If one of the results of my running is that my kids take up running or other type of exercise, well, that would be a wonderful result!!

After the short run with my daughter, since I was dressed up anyway, I decided to go for just a few miles - so I headed out for a short 3.4 mile run. It was warm but nice, the sun was going down and the temperature was comfortable. It was strange. Though I was scheduled not to run yesterday, I kept feeling like I needed to get out and run. And doing the run was a relief, like I was itching to do something and I just scratched that itch.

And so I think I am hooked!

I could hardly wait to run today, and though I am starting a recovery week and was scheduled for a 6 mile long run, I did almost 8. I missed a few miles earlier in the week so I figured I would do an extra mile or so. It felt good, running on a Sunday morning. The traffic is much lighter and with the shorter run I could start a little later and not run in the dark. I have found that running the miles is not such a chore as it seemed earlier. I decide on my running route and just head out. I listen to music, podcasts, or a cadence I want to keep and the time just goes by. Before I know it I am finishing up the run.

In my running log I have had the biggest month yet - 105 miles in September so far, and I still have a few more days left. It is encouraging to look back in my running log and see how far I have come since the beginning of this year, even just since July. When I had the goal to run a 5K before my 40th birthday just 4 years ago, a marathon was hardly a thought - and running more than 5K a little ambitious. A half marathon was quite a stretch but I have now managed to do that 3 times. But the discipline and training to reach the marathon distance - well it is so much more of a journey in itself. The race will be the culmination of 6 months of planning, working, dedication and many miles. And I am enjoying and growing from the journey as much as I believe I will from the race itself.

14 weeks, 6 days until the race!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Already planning my 2nd marathon

I am just getting into the heavy training for my very first marathon, and I am already eyeing another marathon for next year. Premature? Perhaps, but I am having such a good time prepping for this one, why not? I have a few friends who are interested in doing their first marathon next year, so I figure I will join them - as someone who has just been there. Besides, we are talking about the Marine Corps Marathon, and that one looks really exciting. 34,000 runners through some of the most visited places in our nation's capital.

It was pretty hot at lunchtime today when I did a 4 mile run. I was itching to run today since I sat out the previous two days because of a sore heel and calf. I was supposed to run yesterday but after the 14 miles I did on Sun I figured I would give the heel and calf and extra day's rest. Today's run went well, with some soreness after. I am going to run 7 tomorrow morning, and I imagine my heel will complain, but the weather is supposed to be wonderful - a cool and less humid 65 degrees. I think I know the source of my heel issue and I am going to try something to see if it helps.

I have an easier week ahead. This weekend I have a shorter long run - before I go into the next few harder weeks. I am feeling great!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A new distance - 14.3 miles!!!

Well I was so excited for today and now that my run is over and the ice is on my heel, I can safely say that it was just as exciting, if not more, than I thought! I completed a distance I have never done before, 14.3 miles. Why 14.3 you ask? Well, using (the run is at if you want to check it out) to map out my route, it is difficult to get it to exactly 14 miles - and so I am taking credit for every extra tenth of a mile I ran!! Since I can only carry enough water to last about 10 miles, it worked out perfectly that I could stop in where I work at mile 8.5 and refill my water.

This was a great longrun, I really felt like I was "in the zone". I woke up feeling pretty good and left the house just before 7 am - it was still dark outside. After about 45 minutes, the sun started to peek out, but its effects were delayed because of some morning clouds to the east - so for the moment I was spared the heat. But I knew it was coming. I knew I wasn't going to be finished until almost 10 am - and by then the sun can be brutal.

I loaded up a 165 bpm Podrunner piece (Thanks to DJ Steveboy - you can check out his tunes at ). The music really keeps me paced as I go along. If I begin to get winded I just shorten my stride a bit. I took 45 sec walking breaks every 6 minutes, with a short stop at the office to refill my water bottles. After the water stop I listened to Phedippedations (a great runner's podcast at ) as the heat of the morning sun really began to set in. For the last 2.5 miles, I swapped back to Podrunner to help keep my pace up for the end of the run. In all of this, I went through 3 gel packs (plus one before I left this morning).

I also wore the heart rate monitor today. I set the target zone for 135 - 155 bpm. Of the 3+ hours of running I spent 1 hour 49 min in that zone - but as my run went on and the heat of the morning really started to hit me, I couldn't keep my bpm much below 160 (160 is about 85% for me) or so, particularly for the last 3 miles. It was a good way to gauge how I was doing in maintaining a long run pace.

So, my final time was 3 hours, 5 minutes, 39 seconds, a blazing 12:59 pace. I was hoping for a better pace, but I had to keep reminding myself that the purpose of the long run is not speed, but distance. If I had gone out faster I think it would have been much harder to complete. As it was, I finished strong in the last mile, 11:52 with a good strong sprint down the street to my house.

After more water and a cold bath I am now sitting at my computer and reporting on my run. I think for my next really long run (another 14 miler in 2 weeks) I am going to try ice in the bath water. I had to get used to the cold water idea - but the cold water has felt great so I am going to try it with the ice next time. Afterall, I am in training for all aspects of the marathon, including the ceremonial ice bath to help speed recovery.

Thanks to my friends Jennifer and Karen who I am sure thought of me this morning as they got up to another beautiful morning in Florida. Thanks most of all to my husband who gets to share this adventure all along the way with me, watching me listen to running podcasts, read running books and magazines, visit running websites, and just basically living, eating and breathing running. It is week 16 of training - just 15 weeks and 6 days to the Disney Marathon.

Friday, September 15, 2006

It's still summer in Florida!!!

Today I decided to meet my daughter after school (she bikes to school) by running there. The school is only a mile away, and I wanted to run more than 2 miles, so I left the house a little early and got in about 4 miles, ending at the school in time to pick her up.

Now 2 pm is about the hottest time of the day. The temperature is 89 degrees, however with the humidity it feels like 94. Combine that with the over confidence I developed this week as I ran a 7.2 mile run on Wed after having that great run on Tuesday, and, well, I got this crazy idea that I could run in the heat of the day. Perhaps my flawed thinking was compounded by reading Dean Karnezes book "Ultramarathon Man" yesterday. Hey, he can run over 100 miles through the desert in 130 degree heat. What's 5 miles in 94 degrees?

I conveniently forgot that I run at 6 am because I don't like to run in the heat.

But I was feeling good, and strong and somewhat invincible, and set out at 2 pm to get my 5 miles in with a brief stop to meet my daughter on her bike.

This is actually a good story - the first mile felt pretty good, as did the second. As I turned around to head back toward the school I worried that I might not get there in time so I bumped up my pace from 165 bpm to 170 bpm. You see, I was trying to go easy since it was hot (see I didn't completely lose my mind). I even brought water along with me.

I got a bit winded, but I maintained the 10 min run/1 min walk pace and got to the school in plenty of time. I even got to chat with one of the moms I knew and talked about running.

Once my daughter came out, I ran the entire distance home at the 170 bpm pace. It was strenuous, but the tiredness that I felt is the kind that you feel good about after you finish the workout.

And I logged my best 5 mile time, although I may not have measured it right with my wanderings through the school yard. It is still one of the best paces I have maintained - just over 11 min/mile.

In Central Florida, we really don't get to enjoy the cooling of the fall season until late October or early November. September - well it is still summer here!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A breakthrough!

This morning for my 5 mile run, I set off to try my run using the smaller, quicker steps that Shirley suggested on Sunday. To help me maintain the faster pace, I used a Podrunner song at 165 bpm (normally I had been pacing around 155 bpm). I started off in the usual manner, walked a quick minute then started my timer for the 4 min run 1 min walk pace. When I reached my first walking break, I was hardly winded but took the break anyway. At the second break I felt so good that I skipped it, along with the next one, and the next one, and the next one. I ran 3.5 miles before I took a break, and that break was to set the ipod to a 170 bpm song because I was hardly getting winded. I ran the rest of the way home at that pace.

Now I didn't set any records today (except for running for 45 min without a break). My pace ended up at 11:30, which is not my fastest but is still pretty good. The shorter steps felt sooo slow, and are slower than running the normal stride - HOWEVER, and this is big - I could last so much longer. And the name of this game is endurance. It seems the smaller stride took much less energy to maintain - which kind of makes sense, since I don't have to move my leg so far for each step. I also did not have the force of the heel strike working so much against me since my foot hit the ground closer to me, thus at less of an angle against me. Basic physics can show what a difference that is.

So, either I was just feeling really good because it is my birthday, OR, I have made a breakthrough in my running and can reach my goal to take less running breaks when I am out. I loaded up the faster bpm podrunner songs in my ipod. I am going to try to do more of the run at 170 (instead of the last mile and a half) and see how I do. I will shoot to take a walking break every 10 minutes.

The downside is that I need the music to keep moving, so I can't listen to my other podcasts, at least not right now. Maybe when I get used to the new pace I can go back to the podcasts and other music.

16 weeks, 4 days and 13 hours until the marathon!!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Short little steps

Today I ran my 12 mile long run with a friend of mine, Shirley, who also happens to be a certified running coach. And though my intent in requesting her help was not to have her run with me (since I am a slow goer) she offered to run with me on my long run this weekend to observe how I run and offer some tips. Also, as she is training for her first Ironman, she felt an easier run would be good after a tough bike ride on Saturday. I have never really run with anyone else because they usually are much faster than me, but I really enjoyed the company - and it made the run go much better!

2 hours, 28 minutes later - in the bright Florida sunshine, we completed the 12 miles. What got me through the last 2 miles was some advice from Shirley, who recommended I try to run with a shorter stride - short little steps - and just pick up the pace a bit. It turned out to be easier for me than my slower, longer stride, and seems to have good potential to be easier on my left heel, which continues to bug me on and off. I had been running at about 155 beats per minute (BPM) but I am going to try this week on my shorter runs to go with a shorter stride at around 165 or 160 - I have the BPM music I have picked up on line to help keep the pace up. I am excited that if this turns out to be easier, I will last better. My long runs are getting longer in time, and next week's 14 miles will take me nearly 3 hours to complete.

So, I feel great - with 12 miles behind me today, which is good. When I go for 14 miles next week it will be the longest run I have EVER done. A half marathon is the longest I have done to date. I will be treading into new territory, and I am excited!! I ran 31.4 miles this week so the Parrot Predictor did its calculation and it is predicting a 5:07 marathon. I am thinking that a time between 5 hours and 5.5 hours will be a good goal for me.

It's a good day to run!! :-)

Friday, September 08, 2006

69 hours of running

That's how many hours of running I have logged this year - 69 hours, 8 minutes to be a bit more precise. In that time I have covered 356.2 miles. That is just over 5 miles for every hour I have put in.

I like numbers. I track my running on an excel spreadsheet that I found on the internet that has all kinds of calculations and stuff built in. That may be why I majored in Math while in college, and then majored in Math again for my master's degree. I don't ever use what I spent all that time learning, but in conversation it sounds impressive anyway.

This morning was another day with a 5 mile run planned. My body was NOT in the mood to run - although I did not feel as bad as I did on Wed (when I didn't run) I still felt a bit crappy (I still feel crappy after having completed the run). But I bravely pushed myself out the front door and logged another 5 miles and nearly another hour of running. This was in such contrast to yesterday when I got up and ran 6 miles in an hour and 10 minutes, and felt great during the run and afterwards. Good days and bad days...At least I have my podcast buddies to keep me company while I run.

Now it's time to get on with the every day once more. If I can only get out of this chair....

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Racing a storm

It was just yesterday when I read a story about a runner, running in a storm with lightning, thinking things would be ok, then getting hit by lightning. Today, as I stepped out late in the afternoon to run a quick (by my standards anyway) 4 miles, the clouds to the north and west looked a bit dark, but appeared to be headed away from me. It was clearer in the direction I was going, so I headed out, figuring I would be ok.

About a mile and a half into the run, I felt a drop on my shoulder, shortly followed by another one. As I looked behind me (toward the north) an angry dark sky was bearing down, and it appeared I needed to hurry a bit. I ran a little further to make my total run about 3.4 miles, turned and headed home, the dark clouds seemed closer and not only ahead of me to the north but also to the west. Lightning flashed and a few more drops came down as I approach the mark where I would be 1 mile from home. I picked up my pace, still taking my walking breaks, but pushing the running. "I better have a pace under 11 minutes or I am going to be disappointed" I thought to myself.

I got home before the storm hit (and it was a pretty good one) having achieved a pace of 10:43, one of my fastest paces for that particular run. No lightning strikes that day, but Jim getting a bit worried and was about to come out and find me when I got home.

I am excited that my heel does not hurt at all - a good sign!

Tomorrow morning I will roll out of bed early and do 6 miles. Time to pick up the mileage now that I am just over 17 weeks away from the marathon. This is when many of the marathon training programs really kick in.

Hopefully the weather will be a little clearer in the morning! :-)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Even a bad run is better than not running

After the 15K on Sat, I gave my heel a rest Sun. It ached the day of the race and I iced it on and off all day. That seemed to do the trick because the next day, it hardly ached at all and I didn't have to ice it. But I gave it a day off for recovery and figured I would try a run the following day (today), maybe just 4 miles to take it easy.

The alarm seemed to go off much too early once again this morning, but knowing what I know about how I would feel if I didn't run, I got myself up and out the door. That is the hardest part. I felt a bit on the crappy side this morning, so I knew the first couple of miles would probably be hardest. This run was no different. I almost felt like my legs couldn't remember how to relax and run, at least for the beginning. But as I approached the 2 mile mark, I felt good enough to push it out to 2.5 and make it a 5 miler this morning. I got my last mile under 11 min, as usual and finished out at 57:28, an 11:30 pace. Not too bad. In the end, I felt pretty good, still a bit crappy, but good after the run.

So I guess the title of this blog is not exactly right. I didn't have a bad run this morning. But on a scale of 1-10 for how I feel, 1 for really bad and 10 for great, this morning I am a 6 or 7. But I am glad I ran. Glad I got that mileage in to log. That makes 342 miles to date this year, with 5 of my planned 29 miles done for this week. That is better than not running!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

It's only 15K, it can't be that bad....

Besides, I ran 10 miles last weekend. I should be able to do 9.3 miles ok. I knew that since it was a long run distance for me, I would need to conserve to make the entire distance.

The weather was, well, typical for Central Florida in early September. It was about 78 degrees at 80% humidity. By the end of the race it was over 80 degrees - with the humidity it was forecast to feel like 87. Not a great temperature for running. Now I know why I like getting up in the dark to run. On my own long runs, if I got home after 8 or 8:30 am, I was whipped. This was no different. The race started a little after 7 am. I finished officially in 1:52:27 (net) - that would put me at the finish around 9 am - and those last 2 miles were in the sun and HOT! I finished with an average pace of 12:04, which is pretty good considering the heat. My first mile was about 10:30 but lengthened to over 12 min/mile in the second half of the race. 12 min/mile is really my long distance pace, as it turns out, so I did ok.

Jim ran with me for the first 4 or 5 miles, but I go too slow for his long, running legs. I hate the fact that I train and train, and he runs every now and then, and he beats me! But I am happy that he is out there and feeling good. He had a really good race, coming in around 5 minutes ahead of me. After Jim sped on ahead of me, I tuned into one of my favorite podcasts, Phelipidations, where Steve Runner was talking on the topic of the Long Slow Run....just what I needed :-). it did take my mind off the race for a good 40 minutes. Then I put some 155 bpm music and tried to cruise the last 2 or 3 miles. Sounds good anyway!

So now I am home, blogging with an ice pack under my heel. I am hoping that the heal pain will diminish as my body adjusts to the new lift in my left shoe. If not, I will need to find another solution. I am getting to a critical point in my training and can't afford to lose time off for heel pain! :-)

Later folks!

So a good race - another one under my belt! Now a few weeks of focused training until the next 5K.