Thursday, January 28, 2010

5 Fingers and MT Week 3

Over the weekend I purchased a pair of Vibram Five Fingers Sprints. I walked around in them for a couple of days to loosen them up as they were a little tight when I bought them. They loosed up quickly. They are also more comfortable than they look. They got a few looks, though most people didn't notice. Reaction ranged from cool to creepy. Some people don't like feet.

My track workout for the week called for 6 x 800 (only 6?) with a 90 recovery in between. I decided to go to a nearby track that someone had told me about. This would save me some gas and it was supposedly well lit and visible from a main road. I decided I would warm up in my Five Fingers and do my workout in my Mizunos.

The warm up in the Five Fingers was good overall. I didn't notice any difference in my stride or any burning sensation in my legs. I'd heard from a couple of people to expect this. I read about barefoot running when I'd only been running a short time in '04. I changed my stride based on the information I'd read about barefoot running. This could be why I didn't notice a difference. Towards the end of the 3rd loop, I guess I didn't lift my left foot high enough and scraped the top of my big toe along the track's surface. It hurt so bad I was sure there was permanent damage. My first thought was 'not my pedicure!' I stopped and looked at my big toe and waited for the blood to surface on my new Five Fingers. But it never came. When the sting subsided, I continued my warm up with minimum pain in my big toe. When I changed into my Mizunos, there was no visible evidence of the scrape and my pedicure still looked great. Score 1 for the V5s!

It was really windy! The wind gusts were unbelievable. I switch direction each speed interval to break it up in my head and in both directions the head wind was in the second half of the track, when you're tired anyway. It felt like a bully had his hand on my forehead holding me back. I'd start an interval pretty strong, but hit the head wind and lose momentum. After the first 400, I'd struggle to recover even with the wind at my back then lose it all together when I hit the second head wind. It was so discouraging. My times were off more than 10 seconds from last week.

Interval times:

When I got to the track there was a lady run/walking the track. Her sons were playing around the soccer goal. She left before I started the warm up. It was just me. There were no games at the nearby softball fields and there were no lights on the track. There was heavy track on the main road, but the parking lot wasn't visible from this road. When it started to get dark, it started to get creepy. I'll try a different track next week. Maybe I'll even find someone else to run these with!

Workout number two went better than speed work. I run this one with a group. The plan called for 5 miles @ tempo pace. That's roughly a 9:50-10:05 pace for me. I warmed up for a mile before starting my tempo run. It was tough, but I felt strong. The course I run with the group isn't easy. There's a lot of hills, but there will be hills in a race, so I don't modify this run to avoid hills. I managed 5 miles in 47:32 or a pace of 9:30. That's slower than the 4 mile tempo pace last week, but I started the tempo run sooner, where there are bigger hills, this week.

Overall, I think training is going well. I feel strong and I'm more involved in my workouts than I have been in the past. My long runs have been hit or miss which is normal. I am working on some fueling issues with those but I think I have a plan that will work. I'm certainly enjoying this more than usual.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

More Charleston and F.I.R.S.T. Week 2

...after finishing shrimp & grits, we headed back to the hotel to clean up and spend some time in downtown Charleston. The temperature was in the 60s but it was raining. We walked up to Kings street and walked along it, stopping in some of the more interesting shops. We went into Half Moon Outfitters where I tried on a pair of Vibram Five Fingers. They didn't have the size I need or the kind I wanted, but I made a note of what I am looking for. I'm debating between a pair of V5s or a new pair of Mizunos. Just not sure if V5s are a good idea with my PF issue.

Adam shopped for a hat while we were there;)

We eventually stopped into King's Street Bar & Grill for a bite, some beers and to catch the NFL game. We took it easy the rest of the evening and went to Poogan's Porch for breakfast. I highly recommend Poogan's!

Poogan's Porch is in an old Charleston-style house on Queen St.

Back in Charlotte I enjoyed a relaxing Monday off from work since it was MLK day. Well not really. I actually got up early and made it to my athletic conditioning class and then went for a nice swim. After running a couple of errands I went home and sat on the couch for hours.

I usually do my speed workout on Mondays and I'd been doing them in the gym on the treadmill. I had decided that that really wasn't going to work and wasn't a good indicator of how fast I was really going and had resolved to finding a track. So I really wasn't relaxing on the couch as much as I was putting off going to the track. Finally around 3:00 I headed to a local school track. It was unseasonably warm but still cool enough to not get too hot. I need to do a 10 minute warm up, 12 x 400 (90 secs RI) and then a 10 minute cool down. I used to do my speed work on a street that was relatively flat and had the mile markers for 200 meters, 400 meters, etc. up to 800 meters and then you would run back to get in a full mile. I liked this but the track is closer. I had it in my head that I needed to run 12 times around the track with a 90 second rest in between. But for whatever reason, while I was warming up I somehow got it in my head that 400 meters was actually twice around the track and not once. I timed myself running twice around the track 10 times with a 90 second rest in between sets before it sunk in that I'd been doing 800s! Ugh! I thought well, I should finish what I started. But after doing my 11th one I realized that I'd done 5 1/2 miles of speed work and that's really too much. So I stopped. I was pretty beat anyway. My times were:
  1. 3:49
  2. 3:51
  3. 3:55
  4. 3:56
  5. 3:57
  6. 4:00
  7. 3:55
  8. 3:59
  9. 4:02
  10. 4:02
  11. 4:05

So from this, I see some consistency. I also see an endurance issue. By the way, the first 4:00 was partially due to a pause when a little girl riding her bike on the track took a nasty spill. I was going to help her, but her dad was at the track and he helped her. She wasn't seriously hurt just startled.

My second run for the week, my tempo run, was postponed a day because of work. Luckily my training schedule is flexible enough that this wasn't a problem. I just ran the next morning instead of in the evening with my group. It was cold and my foot hurt (pf issue) for the first mile, but loosened up and didn't bother me again until after the run. The plan was 1 mile easy, 4 miles tempo, 1 mile easy. Unfortunately, when my run was moved to the next day, I had to run a route I'm not familiar with. This meant having to stop a couple of times and check my directions. I did manage to get the 4miles tempo in at 37:05. I was happy with this given the stop and go during the run due to not being familiar with the route. I think next week's tempo run will go a lot better.

For my third run this week I'm meeting a group to run part of it. I have to run 11 miles at a 10:20 pace. I don't think that will be a problem. I may try to run it at a sub-10 pace but it really depends on how I feel when I wake up that morning. I'm looking forward to running a long run with a group again.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Shrimp & Grits Y'all!

Adam and I left out kind of late (7:30pm) Friday night for Charleston, SC for the Charleston Riverfront Race Festival. We found the Double Tree hotel at Church and Market, checked in and crashed at around 11:30pm. The room was awesome. I'd booked on priceline and gotten a great deal on a standard room, but some how we were upgraded to a junior suite at no extra charge. Nice. Plenty of room and a big king sized bed.

Adam was a bit worried about getting to the race on time. The start time was 8:35am for the half and we had to get our car from the valet and get my packet before lining up at the start. So we got up at 6am. I was pretty tired but getting ready for the race went smoothly. We had no problem getting our car and found the race area without any issues. The race start/finish was only 7 miles from the hotel in N. Charleston near the Naval Yard. We were there early enough that there were no lines for packet pickup. After grabbing my packet we went back to the car and sat for about 45 minutes.

The shirts for the race were really nice long sleeve, dry fit shirts with the race logo on the front. They also gave us a reusable draw string bag. Nice touch. There were no freebies in the bag, just race fliers.

After doing about a 15 minute warm up through the parking lot, we headed to the race start line with about 10 minutes to spare. Unfortunately, the race start was 20 minutes later than the posted start time.

My two options for running the race went right out of my head and I decided on a secret 3rd option for the race after it started. The first mile of the race was very congested. I was having to bob and weave a bit more than I like to during a race. But I found some space and my stride and decided to run the first 10 miles as fast as I could. I missed quite a few mile markers during the first ten miles; mile 2, 6,7 and 10. But a fellow racer let me know when were at mile 10.25 and I was able to deduce from that that I'd finished the first 10 miles at a 9 and change pace. Not bad. Unfortunately, from mile 2 on I was starving. I don't mean a tad uncomfortable, I could go for a snack hungry, I mean full-on stomach growling send down a Denny's Grand Slam hungry! I'd only brought one Gu, but more wouldn't have cut it anyway. So the last 3 miles were at a 10 minute, 11 minute and 12 minute pace. I finished in 2:04.

The Pros: The race course was flat, as promised. The weather was great, it was about 45* when we woke up. Really great entertainment along the course. I saw more bands and cheer sections than at the LV RnR half last month! There was a rock band, a little girls' cheering group along the course, another group of children who were singing while using sign language, a small rock band consisting of little boys all around the age of 10 (if that), a boy on the piano and an African drum circle. You passed all of these twice with the exception of the drum circle. The entertainment was great since you really didn't get a lot of scenery along the course. The water stops were well organized. At the end of the race they served warm shrimp & grits and the best bagels I've ever had!

The Cons: The race started late. The mile markers may not have been measured correctly and the markers were small and easy to miss. The race medals at the end were pretty cheap looking. The course contains a couple of out and back sections which can be a con if you're having a bad day or a pro if you want to see faster/slower friends along the route.

This race, I didn't see anything particularly weird. I did see a guy wearing the Vibram 5 fingers. This was a little surprising given it's a barefoot technology and we were running a half marathon. I tried to catch up to him to see how his feet felt, but we were into mile 11 and I just didn't have the energy.

I spent a lot of time in my head this race. Here's a list of some of the things I thought about in random order:
  • Pat Tillman (the NFL player turned Army Ranger who was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in April '04)
  • 2005 Army 10-miler
  • Adam Mayes
  • Tacking
  • Pippit Long
  • Tim Long's blog
  • My knee hurts
  • Hmm, my foot doesn't hurt
  • This ground is cushy, is that rubber?
  • My outfit is boring
  • She didn't go all the way to the turn around point!
  • He's hot
  • The national flag printed on running shorts is tacky
  • I hope I'm done soon
  • What mile is this?
  • This is the longest effing mile
  • I'm starving
  • Man, there is nothing in N. Charleston

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Marathon Training Week 1

So far I have completed 2 workouts of my marathon training.

The first workout was the speed workout which was completed on the treadmill. It consisted of 10 minutes warm up, 3 mins fast/3 min recovery x 4, 10 minute cool down. It didn't go so well. Maybe I was tired. Maybe I hate the treadmill. Maybe it's calibrated incorrectly. Maybe I was annoyed because I kept hitting the cord on my new headphones and pulling them out. I don't know, but I couldn't maintain the 8:20 pace I was hoping to maintain and instead was at about 8:25-8:35 pace. Which isn't bad, but it isn't what I needed to be doing. I think I'll find a track to continue these.

The second workout was my tempo run, which I completed on the road with my running group. It consisted of 2 miles easy, 3 miles tempo and 1 mile easy. My tempo was to be 30 to 45 seconds slower than my planned marathon pace of 9:35. That just doesn't sound right to me. Shouldn't tempo be faster? It's probably meant to be slower at first to train you to maintain a certain pace. I instead ran 2 miles at about 9:30-10:00/mile pace and then ran 3 miles in 25:15 or 8:25/mile pace. Then 1 mile in about 10:00. I didn't time the easy miles so those times are just a guess.

I felt great after the second workout! I felt strong. I felt like I'd really done a hard workout. I didn't get bored on the run. I left 3 people behind when I started the tempo run and then passed 2 guys. That doesn't happen to me on a regular basis. I did wonder what this will all feel like as the temperature warms up. Last night the temperature was in the 30s. Not as cold as it has been but not warm. I guess I'm really thinking too far ahead. I'm thinking about June-August temps when my race is in May. So I'll let that go for a while.

My next workout will be completed at the inaugural running of the Charleston Riverfront Race Festival Half Marathon on Saturday morning. My training plan calls for 10 miles at PMP +30 secs. That translate, for me, to 10:05 miles. I feel confident that that's doable. I have decided on one of two plans:
  1. If I wake up feeling like crap: run 13 miles at 10:05 pace.
  2. If I wake up feeling great: run 1 mile at 10:05, then alternate fast mile(9:30ish avg pace)/slow mile(10ish pace) for 10 miles, 2 miles at 10:05

Hopefully I feel pretty good. The race directors have promised a flat course so I'd like to do well.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Marathon Training Preparation

So finally did my marathon training plan for the Avenue of the Giants Marathon on May 2nd. I'm already 2 weeks behind!

I chose the Furman Institue of Running and Scientific Training (F.I.R.S.T) program. I'm using the beginner program even though this will be my 7th marathon. The reasons are 1. The other programs cost $ 2. This will still be pretty intense for me because I've never focused on pace during my training.

The program consists of 3 running workouts a week. This allows for all the cross-training I want to do. Though this is one less run than I normally do a week, it's still an intense program. The first workout is a speed workout. It's been a while since I've done speed. Not really looking forward to this! The pace is based on my 10K pace, which I set as 53 minutes. Okay, so I've not run a 53 minute 10K, but I've run a 54 minute 10K on a course that wasn't easy. The pace for the speed workouts will be about 8:05/mile and 2:00 per 400m. This I can do. I did this at a track last weekend. The question is, can I do it consistently?

The second workout is a tempo run. I never do these. They sound painful. For this run, I'll get in a decent amount of distance 5-8 miles but a good portion of this will be run at an 9:35-10:05 pace. With the tempo speed increasing up to the marathon.

The third workout is a long run. I can do a long run, no problem. The pace on the long run is 20-45 seconds slower than my planned marathon pace (9:35) until closer the marathon when the speed picks up on the shorter long runs.

My goals for this training are:
  1. to run my fastest marathon yet at a time around 4:11 (previous PR is 4:21 in 2005)
  2. to not feel like marathon training is another full time job
  3. to put more into my runs and training by allowing more focus on my runs

So my first full week of training starts Monday. My first long run will be that Saturday when I tackle the brand new Charleston Riverfest Half Marathon in Charleston, SC. The great thing about this race is that my plan for the day has me running at a 10:05 pace for 10 miles. I should be about to maintain that pace on the 'flat course' the organizers promised in the brochure. I think.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year, New Goals!

So, very few times in my life have I set New Year's Resolutions. This year, I set very realistic resolutions - I hope! There is one that is beyond my control and one that is possibly a physical stretch and one that is possibly a fiscal stretch.

My first resolution is to 'stick to a budget.' I'm good at creating a budget. The first issue with this one is that it might be tough to accomplish the other goals.

My next resolution is to read 10 books. This could be easy if I pick children's books. My issue here is time. I don't have much. But in making this goal I'm hoping to break the terrible habit I've gotten into of watching too much TV. And TV sucks, so I'm not sure why I do it.

My next resolution is to sell my condo. This is completely up to the real estate gods. I would love to get out of this one and into a cute little house closer to town, my activities and my bf.

My next resolution (I think we're halfway done) is to visit the Evening Muse at least six times this year. Now, the Muse is great and not very expensive. I love the shows, but haven't been going as much lately and want to get back into it.

My next resolution is to attend at least two plays this year. It's important to stay culturally active. I hope that one with the muppets comes back to town. That was funny! I did see that 'Wicked' is coming back to Charlotte in the Spring. I've read the book and really want to see the play. I've heard great things.

My last resolution is to run two marathons this year. This is possibly physically impossible. I'll see how the first one goes. Avenue of the Giants in Eureka, CA, May 2nd.

See how that first one will get broken?