Sunday, February 28, 2016

I ran 18 miles and still felt good!

No, I'm not training for a marathon.  But I am interested in doing more long(er) runs, because building my endurance helps me get my speed up.  And if my body is ok with long runs, why not take advantage of it??  I've been feeling so good after my 10, 12, 15 mile runs, I decided to try going further.  The loop I ran was such that I could quit closer to 15 or 16 if I wanted to, but I didn't want to.  My legs were starting to complain around 16 miles, but I wasn't desperate to stop.  Usually my stomach starts to feel like it is eating itself somewhere between 1.5 and 2 hours, but even though I ran for almost 2.5 hours, I never felt like I needed fuel or water.  I was impressed.  I never hit a wall.  I never bonked.  I didn't even get around to making my recovery drink until after a shower, and I still felt fine all day.  I've come such a long way since I first started doing runs over 10 miles when I would feel like death for the rest of the day!!

This week : 
M : 4.5 / 6:53 / 302 ft
pub run 3 / 7:39 / 0 ft
T : 6 / 8:14 / 443 ft
W : bike 20.2 / 17.8 mph / 1329 ft
R : 11.2 / 7:44 / 922 ft
Sa : 18.2 / 8:03 / 1099 ft

total miles run : 42.9 
total miles bike : 20.2

I had a board meeting Monday evening, so I knew I wouldn't be able to do much of the pub run.  I got out of work in time to go for a quick run of my own, so I pushed the 4.5 miles as hard as I could.  I then stopped in the pub to leave a message for anyone who might show up to run clockwise around the loop to find me, and I started the loop about 10 minutes early.  I wasn't really expecting anyone to show up, and no one did.  I ran the loop 3 times as a "cool down" from my faster run, and then I headed to my meeting.  

Tuesday I was really tired and didn't really feel like running, but didn't think I should take the day off either, so I did an easy, minimum mileage jog.  

Wednesday it was above 50 degrees out and when I left work I decided it was a good day to get back on the bike.  It was really windy, but I suspected if I didn't get on the bike now, how long would it be before I got another good opportunity? I'm glad I went.  It ended raining a bit during the ride, but I was treated to a gorgeous double rainbow that spanned the road I was riding down.  There was one part of the rainbow that was so bold and dark I could see every color clearly!  It was awesome, and my phone camera doesn't even begin to do it justice, but oh well.  

Thursday I was in a bad mood and needed to run it off, so I did a long run.  I would have liked to go further, but the lace in one of my shoes was being uncooperative and making my foot hurt in a random spot, that no amount of adjustment was fixing.  I hate it when shoes do that.  

Saturday's long run was awesome!  I had a long 15+ mile loop planned out, but I was starting around 6 in the morning and I realized as I was eating breakfast that it would be dark for the beginning of my run and I prefer to stay in town when it is still dark.  I knew that sunrise was just before 7, but I wasn't sure how far before sunrise the sky gets light out, and I didn't want to hit the back roads until I could clearly see where I was going.  So I scrapped the original plan and began looping around neighborhoods.  The sky started getting faintly light in the second mile, so I decided to head out of town.  I ran part of my originally intended route, but took a shortcut back towards town, and then added a second loop elsewhere, which brought me back to town right around 16 miles.  Then I ran the remaining 2.2 through town so that I would be close to home if my body decided to make a sudden decision to be done.   Since I was wearing a warm hat, sweat dripped into my braids and turned to ice, chunks of which went flying towards the ground every now and then.  Interesting. 

Today it is gorgeous out and about 60 degrees!  I was so tempted to bike, but I'm trying to respect my legs' need for a rest day.  And I sprained my ankle hiking yesterday.  It is better today than I was expecting; I can actually walk almost normally now!  But it is swollen and turning colors.  And it is the foot I normally unclip first when biking, and I'm not sure how comfortable it would be to unclip. Don't want to risk not being able to unclip in a timely fashion and crashing...

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Cascades 2/27/16

What a day!  I had a spectacularly good 18 mile run first thing this morning, and then Holly and I headed to Pembroke, VA to check out the Cascades Waterfall.  It was a nice hike, we had fun, and I got some nice photos.  But I was being silly jumping around towards the end of the first mile...and sprained my ankle pretty bad.  Thankfully, I keep an ace bandage in my camera backpack precisely because I have a tendency to hurt my ankles, so I wrapped it up tight and hobbled my way through the rest of the hike.  It hurt a good bit, but what else was I going to do, crawl?  Besides, continuing movement was actually easier for it, whenever I would stop to take photos and then start again, it always hurt more.  And now that I'm home and sitting around, every time I get up it's agony.  Too bad I'm in the middle of doing laundry, 2 flights down the stairs.  I figured it might be slightly easier now than tomorrow morning after a night in bed.

The adventure begins!

Holly remarked that this path should be yellow.
 Which resulted in me having "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" stuck in my head for a very long time.

I didn't get any really great photos of this final waterfall 
because the sun was in a bad place and the light was really hard to work with.  
I'll be back in the spring or summer and try to pick a better time of day!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

I came out of race retirement!

After 6 long, race-less, months...I finally raced again!  I can't call it a glorious comeback, but it was a comeback, and I will take it!  And it was a last minute decision, so it's not like I was trying to train for it and failed in my training.  It was a good way for me to find out where I stand race-training-wise, and should help me as I look ahead to my next races.  Race report can be found here.

This week : 
M : sweatfest 1:01:04 / 14.5 miles
T : sweatfest 1:00:07 / 15.7 miles
W : run 11  / 1:25:55 (7:48) / 791 ft
F : run 6.2 / 47:48 (7:42) / 476 ft
Sa : warm-up : 2.3 / 17:10 (7:26) / 52 ft
race : 10 / 1:12:19 (7:13) / 397 ft
cool-down : 0.7 /7:04 (10:05) / 0 ft
total bike : 30.2 miles
total run : 30.2 miles

Monday it snowed all morning and rained all afternoon.  There was no school and the roads were way too gross for me to seriously consider running.  So I decided it was time to use that bike trainer that is sitting in the corner of my living room.  I was sitting around reading a book and realized that I may as well be sitting on a bike reading a book.  

Tuesday the roads were still fairly messy.  They were passable for cars, but my best bet for a running surface was the middle of the road and there was enough traffic to make that less than ideal, so I rode the sweatfest again.  I was nearing the end of a book, so I decided I wasn't allowed to look at the garmin until I finished the book.  The book got me 47 minutes, then I switched to a video on amazon prime to get myself to the end of the hour. 

Wednesday I was very happy to be exercising outside again, so I had a nice long run.  

Thursday I stayed at work past 3:30 because I was being productive and wanted to get as much done as possible.  Minutes later, I was hit with intense exhaustion.  I went home and tried unsuccessfully to talk myself into going for a jog. 

Friday I decided I was running a 10 mile race on Saturday.  All my legs knew was that they had Thursday off and needed a run.  I tried not to run too hard since I knew I was racing the next day.  I also had in the back of my mind that I had just upped my minimum weekly mileage requirement to 30, and that I wanted to be able to take Sunday off after the race, so throughout the whole run I was thinking about how long Saturday's warm-up and cool-down would need to be depending on how far I ran Friday. 

Saturday, I decided my warm-up had to be at least 2 miles, and the further it was, the less I would have to torture myself with a cool-down.  I'm glad I made my warm-up as long as I did, because the cool-down I ended up doing was extremely hard to get myself through. It has very rarely ever been so hard to put one foot in front of the other as it was in that cool-down!  I won't recap the race here, because it has already been recapped in another post. 

Blacksburg Classic 2016 : a last minute decision

I wasn't planning on racing again until March.  I always sign up for races way in advance, when they are cheapest.  When the time came to register for the Blacksburg Classic, I knew I wasn't ready, and that I should skip it this year.  The race was supposed to be on February 13th.  There was a big snowstorm in the forecast for that day, just like there was a huge snowstorm that I got caught in on the way home from the race last year.  I had no regrets about not signing up for this year.

On Friday morning, I was doing my usual gradual wake up in bed while browsing facebook, when I saw a post from RunAbout Sports that said there was still time to sign up for this year's Blacksburg Classic.  Say what?!  Turns out they postponed it a week because of the awful frigid weather and snow predicted for the original date.  I immediately started feeling the race itch.  A week earlier, I had known I wasn't ready for a ten mile race.  But now, I felt ready.  I had a great, high-mileage week last week.  I had been running 10+ mile runs with zero problems.  Maybe it was time to see how my body would react to a race.  I checked the Blacksburg weather for Saturday : 50+ degrees and no precipitation.  Game on. Time to start my 2016 racing season!

Since it is a 1:00 race, I decided I might be able to survive driving there and back alone.  I slept til about 7, had a good breakfast, packed a lunch, and was on the road shortly after 9.  I arrived in Blacksburg shortly before 11.  I registered for the race and even managed to snag a size small t-shirt before they ran out.  Registration was in the cafeteria of an elementary school, so I then pulled out my lunchbox and the book I am currently reading (The Toss of a Lemon), and had a leisurely lunch.  I still had time to kill before changing and warming up, so I settled into an armchair in the hallway and read some more.  Around 12, I changed into running clothes and went for my warm-up jog.  It quickly became clear to me that I was going to be way too warm during the race, so after the warm-up I changed from knee-length running pants to shorts, and took off my long sleeve shirt.  I'm very glad I made that choice.

Finally, the race started.  I made sure not to try and jump to the front, I did my best to keep what felt like a relaxed pace for the first mile.  Of course it ended up being a 6:34 pace : faster than ideal, but not as fast as some of my insane first miles.  Since it felt relaxed, I didn't worry about it, just saw it as banking time for later in the race when I would inevitably slow down.  I settled in next to a guy, and we remarked that maybe we would be able to stick together, which would have been awesome.  We are both the kind of people that tend to end up all alone in these races.  Sadly, we only stuck together until about 3.5 miles in, when he started pulling ahead (or I started dropping back) and I never caught up to him again, although he was often within sight. He ended up finishing 4 minutes ahead of me.

the start of the race

I carried my inhaler during this race, as I didn't want to lose another race to my asthma, and the doctor told me to use it whenever I felt like I needed it.  Having not yet taken advantage of that, I wasn't sure how to go about it.  Should I use it preventatively every few miles?  Should I wait until I was desperate and then hope it helped?  I think I start feeling the oxygen debt in my legs before I start feeling like I am on the verge of an asthma attack, so I tried to use that as my gauge.  The little bit of talking I did in the first few miles started to effect me, so I used the inhaler around 3.5 miles in. I used it again at 7.5 miles when my legs were again feeling oxygen-deprived.

Coming up on the third mile, someone told me I was 3rd female.  That came as a big surprise for more than one reason.  First, we were still with the 5k runners at that point and I'm pretty sure all our bibs looked the same.  Second, I was 5th last year and 6th the year before.  Apparently the date change prevented the usual fast crowd from showing up.  As it turns out, I was indeed in 3rd place for the ten-miler (so I guess I would have won the 5k...)  I caught up to the second place runner somewhere in the fifth mile, if I remember correctly.  There was a turn-around about 7.1 miles in, at which I could see that she wasn't too far behind to catch me if she had a sudden burst of energy or a good kick.  I never saw her again though.  But someone else caught me in the last mile.  I tried to start kicking with 2 miles to go, but I didn't have much to go with.  The most I could really do was try not to slow down.  When I lost 2nd place, I was able to stay on her heels for a maybe a minute, but then I started dropping back a bit.  She ended up beating me by 12 seconds.

finish line photos

I didn't break 1:10 like I had hoped, but honestly, that probably wasn't a realistic goal.  I ran a 1:10:14 in 2014, and a 1:11:19 in 2015.  In 2014, I was a month into my first bout of tendonitis, but I hadn't yet stopped running, so I was still at the strongest I had probably ever been.  Last year, I had been running since September and was pretty strong, but there was really strong wind holding me back.  This year, I'm coming back from the second round of tendonitis and asthma issues, and while I have been doing well with mileage, I have not been running all that fast.  My body was nowhere near ready for the demands of race-pace.

I finished in 1:12:19.  Not quite the time I hoped for, but I know it was the best I had in me, judging from how absolutely awful I felt afterwards.  I forced myself through a cool-down to get the last .6 miles that I needed to reach my weekly minimum of 30 miles.  I could barely drag myself through that cool-down, and when I finally got back to my car and let myself stop, I wondered if I was going to pass out.  Thankfully, I didn't, though I felt pretty rough for awhile.  I drank a lot of water, and had my protein recovery drink.

I spent almost 18 minutes in the anaerobic heart rate zone (191+ bpm).  That is compared to 8 minutes in my last 5k, less than a minute at the Pittsburgh 1/2, and around 3 minutes in the Blue Ridge 1/2.  I'll interpret that to mean that I was working hard and shouldn't have expected any more from myself!  

All in all, I am glad that I made the decision to race yesterday.  It was my first race in 6 months, which I believe is the longest I have ever gone without racing.  I ran a good race and it gives me an idea of where I am in my training, to help me better know what to work on, and what to expect for my next race.  I definitely want to keep up the long runs to continue building my endurance, but I also am going to need to work some more speed (a/k/a lung work) into some runs.  I also, of course, need to have some patience.  I've had a lot of setbacks in the last 2 years, and I can't expect my body to recover overnight and act like nothing happened.  I need to give it the time and training it needs to get back to where I was pre-tendonitis.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sunday afternoon stroll on the River Trail

These photos are from a week ago, but I just realized I never got around to posting them.  Holly and I wanted to go on a photo adventure last weekend, but she wasn't free til late Sunday afternoon, and she had Harper with her, so we decided to just try a walk on the river trail.  We made it about a half a mile before Harper went from cheerful to unhappy in the stroller, and once Holly had to carry Harper she couldn't take many pictures so we turned around.  But I got a few photos out of the trip!



Addicted to the miles!  GREAT week of running this week.  I picked a cold week for it, but it seems that cold weather no longer has any effect on my ability to run.  The two ten milers were run with ice spikes that I thought I would need, but there was at least as much bare pavement as snow, maybe more pavement.  I was a bit worried because running on bare pavement with the spikes means I can feel them right under the part of my feet where the tendonitis lurks.  I could feel it during the runs, but I don't think I did any damage.  I was able to run today without the ice spikes and my feet felt great, so looks like I lucked out!  It's snowing again now, I'm guessing tomorrow will be another ice spike day, but hopefully if it is there will be enough snow on the roads to keep my feet comfortable!

This Week
M : Pub Run 4.6 / 8:14
T : Long Run 15.3 / 8:12 / 1043 ft
R : 10 .5 / 8:50 / 794 ft
Sa : 10.1 / 7:52 / 830 ft
Su : 7.3 / 7:46 / 610 ft
total miles : 47.9 / 3278 ft

Had 3 people for the Pub Run this week.  We had a good run, made it to the pub, and had just started our beers when we looked out the window and saw snow pouring down.  Our timing could not have been more perfect.  

Tuesday was a snow day.  I set out on a planned 7.3 mile run, but I felt so good I just kept on going until I finally stopped at 15.3.  I felt great for the whole thing.  When I was stretching afterwards I kept feeling drops of ice water.  Turns out the sweat that dripped down my braids had frozen into ice cubes.  I think that was a first..

I went to bed early on Wednesday night so I just happened to wake up at 4 on Thursday morning.  So of course I got out of bed and went for a run.  There was a 1 hr delay for school, so I knew I had plenty of time.  And once again, I was feeling great, so I just kept on running until I decided to stop around 10 miles.  

Saturday I was out running errands in the morning and it was bitterly cold and windy so I almost wimped out on the run to ride the trainer instead, but I really felt like running 10 miles.  So I bundled up and went out.  And of course I was overdressed and way too warm for the whole thing.  But again, I felt great.  I could have done another 15 miler, but I had procrastinated too long and didn't have time to do more than 10.  

I thought about taking today off, but my legs weren't tired and my feet weren't hurting.  Plus, I knew it was going to snow again tonight, and I wanted to enjoy a run on bare pavement!  I contemplated a 10 miler, but I thought maybe back-to-back ten milers might not be a smart move yet, and I was pushing the pace a bit more today, so that made up for the shorter run.  

Sunday, February 7, 2016

6 days

Today's run may have been no more than a short, easy, jog, but it was still the first time I ran 6 days in one week since...I have no idea when.  And if yesterday's run hadn't been so hard, I probably would have pushed for a better run today.  I'm thinking about trying to push for 6 days a week on any week that does not have a run of 10+ miles.  Ideally, I think there should be a long run every other week, and the off weeks should be 6 days of running, even if one of the days is really short and/or easy.

The only real reason I ended up with 6 days this week is because I'm dog sitting this weekend, and Mavi really likes to go for runs.  I ran a hard 6 with her yesterday, which left me needing a day off, but I didn't want to deprive her of her run today.

this week
M : Pub Run 4.6 / 7:22 / 33 ft
T : 8.1 / 8:03 / 594 ft 
W : 6/ 7:03 / 489 ft
F : 6.5 / 8:26 / 361 ft
Sa : 6 / 8:07 / 676 ft
Su : 3.2 / 9:20 / 453 ft
total miles : 34.5 / 2605 ft

This week I started really trying to push the pace more.  I had been settling into whatever pace felt comfortable each day, and it seemed like I was letting myself get slower, when the goal is to get faster.  I haven't cared too much about pace because I've been focusing on mileage, but it's time to start adding the pace.  There were only two of us at the Pub Run this week, and Nate was pushing the pace.  I was on the end of an inhaler, and my lungs were struggling, but as long as we didn't try to talk I was able to keep up.  I switched to a new inhaler the next day.  Tuesday's and Friday's runs were early in the morning, when it is always hard for me to get the pace up.  Wednesday afternoon I went out and pushed the pace for the whole run.  Breathing got really hard around mile 2.5, and I had to ease off for a little bit, but I never completely stopped pushing.  I had the incentive of trying to get 6 miles and also make it to Ford in time to pick up my car before they closed. (more on that below) Both weekend runs involved at least as much trail as road, which slowed me down a bit, plus there was the killer hill trail back up from the river in Saturday's run.  I pushed it but it hurt.  A lot.  (Time to start running more steep hills...!)  

this is how you cool off after a hard 6 mile run

Sunday morning in the mountains

sacrificed my day off because I couldn't say no to this eager face

In other news, my roommate moved out on Monday morning.  A few weeks ago, I asked her to move out at the end of the school year because I have decided it's time to live alone again.  She started apartment hunting right away, and next thing I knew she was moving into the newly renovated basement apartment.  0 more months of rent help was not quite the 4 more months I had counted on, but I LOVE having the place back to myself!  So nice to finally be able to use the second bedroom again.  Hello office/craft room/guest bedroom! 
And because I can't ever catch a car battery died on Tuesday afternoon.  I tried to leave work and my car wouldn't start.  Found someone with jumper cables, and someone else who knew how to use them, and after what seemed like a really long time, my car grudgingly started.  Wednesday morning I made sure I got out the door really early just in case, and good thing, because my car was dead again.  I got a ride to work, called Ford as soon as they opened, they said they had an opening at 2.  Borrowed jumper cables from a coworker, found a parent with free time, and we went to jump my car in the pouring rain.  NO FUN.  It took even longer this time.  I was starting to think I was going to have to get the car towed, but then the engine finally  decided to start.  Drove is straight to Ford, Gina followed me there and brought me back to school.  In the last 6 months, my car has gotten all new brakes & rotors, 2 new tires, and  a new battery.  What's next? Don't answer that.