Sunday, April 24, 2016

Busy week!

This week : 
M : Pub Run : 4.6 / 8:46 / 0 ft
T : bike w/ Lauren : 23 / 14.9 mph / 1785 ft
W : TRX 30/10 x 50
group trail run : 4.9 / 9:30 / 400 ft
R : run : 5.3 / 7:46 / 407 ft
Sa : bike : 17.6 / 16. 4 mph / 1476 ft
Su : 3 x 1 mile @ 10k effort : 7 / 7:36 / 417 ft
total run miles : 21.9
total bike miles : 40.7

Thoughts on the week : 

Running trails is probably not the best idea for my ankle right now, but of course I decided to do it anyway.  I've avoided the group trail run that started a few weeks ago, because I had to make sure I stayed healthy for the Blue Ridge race.  But with that behind me, I wanted to go join the trail run!  So I did.  And thankfully, it went well, I had fun, and I did not roll or re-sprain my ankle.  

On Saturday I started out my bike ride still debating exactly where I was going to go.   I headed out Fairview with a vague plan, and then made a spur of the moment decision to turn right and pick up the route I took the day I crashed back in November. It really was past time to revisit the scene of the crime.  5 months later, my tooth is still slightly loose from bouncing off the pavement, but life goes on.  

I was about 3/4 mile into today's run, having started rather hard out of the door, and then remembered that I had planned to do mile repeats on this particular loop.  So I slowed down a fraction for the rest of the first mile, and then picked the pace back up for mile 2.  During my recovery in the 3rd mile, my stomach started complaining.  I'm guessing it was a combination of my eggs & bacon breakfast and dehydration.  I had been crazy thirsty ever since last night when I ate pizza with the kids I was babysitting, and no amount of water seemed able to fix the problem.  I managed to pick up the pace pretty well for the 4th mile, but then the 5th mile jog was absolute agony.  I was picturing myself crawling home, and doubted I would be able to do my 3rd repeat.  But I somehow recovered just in the nick of time and got through my last fast mile, although it wasn't quite as fast as the first two.  

I rode my horse twice this week!  And she didn't run away either time, which was impressive and also a wonderful relief.  She actually walked up to me out in the field instead of running the other way.  That's a sure way to put me in a good mood for the rest of the day!  And then we had great rides, Saturday a walking trail ride with 2 others, and today just us, out galloping around the fields in the sunshine.  And then I found a 4 leaf clover after the ride.  That's the second one I've found out there this spring.  I took photos, but left the clovers in the ground.  

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Race Week!

This week : 
M :  8x400 with short jog recoveries : 4.3 / 7:31 . 295 ft
Pub Run : 3.1 / 8:48 / 0 ft
T : run 5.5 / 7:35 / 472 ft (4.2 miles of hard hills, then jog home)
TRX 30/10 x 25 16:34
R : run 5.2 / 7:55 / 407
Sa : warm up : 1.3 / 7:52 / 82 ft
race : 13.1 / 7:41 / 1850 ft
cool down : 1.4 / 9:55 / 62 ft
Su : bike 14.2 / 15 mph / 1204 ft
run total : 34 miles
bike total : 14.2 miles

Half Marathon #25!

My sixth time running the Blue Ridge Half Marathon, my 25th half marathon ever, and the last half marathon that I will ever run in my twenties!  April 16th was a big day.

I was pretty nervous going into this race.  Never mind that I lost about 4 weeks of training thanks to spraining my ankle in late February, and that my lungs were not being very cooperative.  On Thursday, my allergies decided to flair up!  So not only was I not quite in shape for a mountainous half marathon, but now my head was lost in an allergy fog and my nose was dripping down my face.  Yay.

Nothing to be done but carry on and hope for the best!  It had been a long busy week with not a lot of sleep, and I suspect that had something to do with my body deciding to succumb to the allergies.  I worked a full day of school on Friday, dashed home to pack, and was on the road to Roanoke shortly after 4.  Thankfully the drive was smooth and uneventful, even though it was rush hour on a Friday.  I had no trouble finding parking and getting to the race expo, which was really nice.  Once I had my swag, I headed to the motel to eat the dinner I had brought with me, enjoy a pre-race Guinness, and go to bed early.
Another awesome race shirt from the BRM!

Pre-race dinner of champions who can't afford to eat out.

I went to bed around 9, and though I didn't sleep particularly well (because I never do when I'm not in my own bed), I at least spent an adequate number of hours in bed.  I know I got some sleep, because at some point I dreamed that I forgot to set an alarm and then didn't arrive at the starting line until an hour after the race started.  Of course, I had not forgotten to set an alarm, so I woke up on time.  My motel was about 1.3 miles from the start/finish line.  Last year I felt it necessary to drive that distance.  This year, I decided driving that small distance and trying to find a parking spot amid road closures was silly, so I used the distance as my pre-race warmup, and post-race cooldown.  

Race ready!

I was worried that I would start out the race too fast, and then my lungs would die and I would be miserable for the rest of the race.  I didn't want to run without my watch, because of course I wanted the data on Strava, but I didn't want to be able to see my watch during the race either.  Thankfully (I guess) it was only in the mid 30s on Saturday morning, so my dilemma was solved by the need for long sleeves and gloves.  My watch stayed inside my sleeve for the entire run and I never looked at it.  This enabled me to run by feel, instead of attempting to run by the watch (which is never good anyway).  I convinced myself on Friday night that given my current state of training and allergy fog, I was not allowed to "race" the half marathon, I was only allowed to "run" it.  In other words, I was not, under any circumstances, allowed to try and keep up with Sarah.  Nor was I allowed to sprint down the back side of Mill Mountain like I normally do, because it's just not worth the potential injuries right now.  (Usually I hammer the uphill, and then run like crazy down the back side to try and keep the lead I got on the climb.)  

I kept my pace very easy for the first mile, and then just tried to be steady going up the mountain.  I was very impressed when I looked at my splits and discovered that I had run the first (mostly downhill!) miles in 7:17.  That might be the slowest first mile I have ever run, but it is a pace I need to start out at more often.  I was in second place going up the mountain, but moved into fourth going back down.  I let the girls pass me and kept on telling myself that the only thing that mattered was that I run smart and strong.  I would get whatever place I got.  I mean, I really wanted to add a sixth trophy to my pack of railroad spike runners, but I figured surely I could at least manage an age category placing if not an overall placing...

The course hit the Greenway around mile 5.5, and I picked up the pace.  I hate that flat stretch along the river, and it often saps my energy.  So this time, I decided to attack it and get it over with as fast as possible.  Since I hadn't been hammering already, and was feeling really good, it felt ok to start pushing harder.  As I picked up and held the pace, I continued to feel strong, and started to get more optimistic about my run.  I was headed up a long hill somewhere after mile 7, when I noticed that I was gaining on the third place girl, and the second place girl was not far ahead of her.  Since I was still feeling good, I picked up the pace another notch, and gradually passed each of them.  The hill continued to get steeper, but I focused on staying strong and powering up it.  By the time I reached the top of that one, I think there was 3 or less miles to go.  I had been carrying my inhaler the whole time, but still didn't feel like I needed it.  With only a few miles left, I decided it was ok to start "racing."  I ran as hard as I could for the rest of the race, even on the downhills, which hurt, but oh well.  I was in second place and I really wanted to stay there.  

I finished the race really strong, and really happy.  I felt like I had run my smartest race in a long time.  It wasn't a PR, but I wasn't expecting one.  I was just happy to know that I had been able to run the distance while making good decisions, not injure myself, and finish strong.  I was about 4 minutes behind first place, and third place was another minute and a half behind me.  

Of course then I had to survive the cooldown jog back to my hotel.  That was rough, but I managed to jog the whole way.  Slowly. 

After getting cleaned up and checked out of the motel, I decided that I should leave my car there for a few more hours, and walk back downtown for the awards ceremony and to watch a fellow SBC grad finish the marathon.  By the time I arrived in downtown, I was rethinking that decision, but it was too late to do anything about it.  

Another Blue Ridge 1/2 in the books. 
Tired but still smiling!

SBC Alums

And then there were six!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

April Showers bring...Snow Storms.

After a brief and gloriously warm spring, we have descended back into winter.  Saturday's 10k was cancelled due to frigid cold, 20+mph wind gusts, snow, and ice.

This is what I woke up to

26 "feels like 12"  Oh joy.

I wasn't disappointed.  I was very much not ready to race a 10k.  No matter how much I told myself I could just run it and not "race" it, let's be honest.  I'm not capable of such a thing.  I assume I would have gone out way too fast, and then crashed and burned.  Not worth it a week before my favorite half marathon (which I also may or may not be ready for...)

Despite the weather, I really wanted to run.  I didn't want to run the race, or run on the very much unsheltered road that the race would have been run on, but I did want to run.  However, given the strong, snow-filled, wind, I tried to talk myself out of running.  I convinced myself to get on the bike trainer instead, and I stayed on it for a full hour.  But when I got off the bike, I wanted to run even more than when I had gotten on it.  Apparently the bike was just a warm up.  So I put on dry clothes and headed outside.  If I can run in this weather in January, why should I let it stop me in April? As I was getting ready, I saw two runners go by my window.  I crossed paths with them twice during my at least I wasn't the only crazy person out there.  There were also a ridiculous number of robins hanging out in the road.  They kept trying to fly out of my way, but they were too cold to go far.

This week : 
M : Pub Run 5 miles / 7:20 / 0 ft
T : TRX abs & arms 28:11 (3 rounds)
W : 11.5 / 7:49 / 1099 ft
F : TRX 33:12 (30/10 x 50)
Sa : sweatfest 1:01:09 / 15.1 miles
run 6.3 / 7:16 / 436 ft

run miles : 22.8
bike miles : 15.1

I had toyed with the idea of a 15 miler on Wednesday, but I ended up at work later than planned, and I was hungry by the time I got home.  So I ran about as far as I felt like I could go without suffering too badly from lack of fuel.  It was a good run.  I felt strong and was able to push some of the long climbs.  I pounded out the last downhill, in preparation for the deadly downhill in this coming Saturday's half marathon.  My hip was sore the next day, but I managed to work it out with some extra good stretching after Friday's TRX.  

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Back to the Track...and some hail.

I'm pretty sure today was my first track workout since 2013.'s been awhile.  Can't say I've missed it...but it's time to add some speed work that isn't just running hard up a bunch of hills because by now my body has more than adapted to the hills and it doesn't really work for me anymore.  And given the lack of flat-ness here in Lewisburg, the only real way to do a flat speed workout is to go to the track.  I've known for awhile now that I needed to start going to the track, but my return was delayed by that silly sprained ankle.  I didn't want to do any speed work until I was sure it was strong enough to take the extra pounding.  Today seemed like a good day.

It was a very eventful week of running...recap of each run after the week's summary...

This week : 
M : 6.6 / 7:47 / 476 ft
T : TRX arms & abs 18:25
W : 9 / 7:54 / 853 ft
R : TRX arms & abs 18: 25
F : 6.2 / 7:32 / 472 ft
Su : 4.9 / 7:10 / track workout
total miles run : 26.8
I found out mid-afternoon that WVSOM was finally going to have their memorial for my friend and running buddy Daryn at 5:00, so I went running around 3 instead of going to the Pub Run at 5:30.  My legs were sore/tired and it was really windy so I didn't try to push the pace at all.

I decided it was time to try a long(er) run.  And I really wanted to run hills, so I looped through just about all the best hills the neighborhoods of Lewisburg have to offer.  One of those great hills is in a neighborhood I rarely get to, so it was nice to go somewhere "new."  And I ran a hill near the end that I "enjoyed" so much I looped back and did it again.  It was a warm sunny day and I loved being outside to enjoy it with a run!

Rain was in the forecast for most of the day, but after a bit of rain in the morning, nothing much seemed to be happening.  The sky showed both brilliant blue and some ominous dark gray, so there wasn't really any telling exactly what would happen. I decided to ignore the clouds and count on the sunshine.  My last check of the weather a few hours before my run showed no more than a 20% chance of rain.  I started hearing thunder in the middle of the 4th mile, but it wasn't particularly loud or scary sounding.  Then it started raining lightly at the end of the 4th mile.  I knew that thunder and rain in the springtime was a recipe for hail.  It started raining harder.  I prayed it wouldn't turn to hail.  It was really windy, and I was getting pelted.  It didn't take too long to realize that rain doesn't sting quite that much even when the wind is driving it into you.  It was hailing.  I prayed the hail wouldn't get big enough to hurt me.  Luckily, it didn't.  But the wind got stronger, and the raindrops got bigger.  The sudden onslaught of fierce wind and rain had water rushing everywhere.  I could barely see where I was going.  I prayed no cars would come because I doubt they would have been able to see me any better than I could see them.  Standing sill didn't seem like it would be any better than continuing to move forward, so I kept going as best I could.  Of course the whole thing was over within about 5 minutes.  Probably the scariest 5 minutes of my life, but only 5 minutes.  Soaked to the skin, I finished my run through giant puddles while trying not to get sprayed by passing cars.

I felt like a drowned rat, but I guess I didn't quite look like one.
I just ran through a hail storm but I am still smiling...because what else can you do?!

Back to the Track.  I thought about various different workouts.  Should I start with a 1600 and descend in distance, or should I pick a distance and repeat it?  Eventually I decided that the torture of the day would be 800s.  I was hoping for 6, with a switch in direction halfway through.  I ended up doing 4, because I was really struggling to maintain the pace on the 3rd one, and I wanted quality over quantity.  My infrequent training over the last few years has lost me the ability to judge my pace very well, so I switched the display on my watch to show pace, and used that to stay as steady as I could.  The goal was to do the 400s at a 6:20-6:30 pace.  I did a 1600 warm-up jog, then 4x 800 with a 400 jog in between, then 1600 cool-down jog. My 800s ended up at 3:17, 3:20, 3:21, 3:15. I did push a bit harder on the last one,  knowing it was my last, and not wanting it to be my slowest.  Didn't realize it would end up my fastest... Breathing was my main limiting factor.  Holding a consistent pace was also hard because the wind was strong enough to effect my effort differently on different sections of the track.

I'm pleased with the workout, especially knowing it is my first in so long.  As I get further into training and my lungs get stronger, I will be able to start feeling my pace better, and I won't use the pace setting on the watch anymore.  I do prefer to run by feel, but I felt I needed the watch today to make sure I didn't go too fast while my lungs were still working and then lose the pace too much when they stopped.