Thursday, April 28, 2011

Grumpy Speed Work

Hello again!  I really hope I can get myself back into posting more regularly soon.

Monday I had off from work; it was nice to have a day home after two days of driving.  I got in a 9 mile run, did laundry, went grocery shopping, emptied the dishwasher, and then because I'm crazy, I went to an hour of spinning with a friend that night too, then I made dinner.  I'd say it was a productive day!

I ran 9.02 miles without music.  I made myself a route that included some hills, just for fun.  There were so many pretty flowering trees to look at along the way. 

It was also 80ish and humid with clear skies.  I did not wear sun screen (hey, it's not as hot as Florida, and the sun isn't as direct!), and as a result my shoulders and upper chest were sunburned.  Guess it's time to start wearing sunscreen while I run again.  I got more color from that run than I did the whole time we were in Florida (I was good and used sunscreen in FL though).  I had a pineapple roctane gu around mile 4.3.  It was my first time trying the flavor, it was recommended to me by the bike shop guy where I buy gu.  He claimed it tastes like pineapple soda; I guess I'd agree- maybe I'd say it tastes like pineapple soda with a little salt in it.

Tuesday I took a day off since Monday was a tad cardio-intensive.  I did go for a 45-50 minute walk with the dog and the dude before watching the Buffalo Sabres hockey game.  Watching the game was a bad idea, they lost badly to Philly (2-5).  No Stanley Cup for Buffalo this year.

Wednesday I had a long day of work and was looking forward to spinning in the evening.  I got to the gym a little early, ready to pedal my little heart out only to find out my gym card was not in my wallet.  I realized I left it in my handheld water bottle pouch from Monday night.  The one other time I forgot my gym card last summer I was still allowed in with my license (also, they recognized me), and just signing my name on a sheet of paper.  Apparently the policy changed or the student worker at the desk was new...she wouldn't let me even with my license and/or my ID card from when I was a grad student there.  I hoped someone else might walk in to the office and veto her decision.  I asked, but she also wouldn't let me be a guest of my friend who was already in the spinning room (and I was bringing water for my friend because she forgot and I had no way to get in touch with her).

I was pissed and this put me in a foul mood.  I had planned to spin and do some speed work on the treadmill since it was over 80% humidity out and running in that just isn't pleasant.  Additionally there was a possible thunderstorm rolling in...

...and I didn't feel like running in a downpour.

There was not enough time to drive home and get it and get back for spinning... and I didn't want to see that girl again last night anyway.  Luckily the rain held off and those dark clouds passed (but the humidity stuck around). I went home and changed into my running shorts but was still stewing and sat on my butt for over an hour before getting out the door for a run.  I finally did though...

I ran 5x800m at 10k pace with 400m rest intervals.
My goal pace was in the 9:41-9:49 range based on a hopeful 2:14-2:16 half marathon.

I did a .65 mile warm up (random, yes), then banged out 9:35, 9:09, 9:26, 9:28, and 9:38 (second half of that last one was even up hill!) splits.  After the final 400m rest interval, I slowly ran for almost half a mile. 
Total: 4.87 miles in 51:33.

Despite my grumpiness earlier in the evening, I was very pleased with my speed work. ESPECIALLY considering the humidity.  I felt sweaty just stepping outside, let alone running in it.  And my Heart Rate was an average 163 to boot, which is pretty good for me during 1. speed work and 2. heat.  Even without the heat, I'd be happy with that HR.  My HR peaked at 183 while running that uphill portion at the end.

And just to end with another picture, here is a grainy cell phone picture of some pretty tulips I passed while driving to the gym:

How's your running/biking/yoga/whatever going this week?
Who's signed up for spring races?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Exercise while away from home

We'll see how this post works out, I'm trying to post by email from my phone from a hotel room in NC...

While I didn't stick to my training plan exactly this past week, I think I did a pretty good job of getting in some runs, etc. while away. I tried not to get too stressed about it, but also didn't let myself make tons of excuses and weasel my way out of exercise.

I didn't bring any equipment with me, but all you need is a carpeted surface for crunches/planks/pushups, and a chair/bench/solid bed footboard for tricep dips.

Sunday 4/17: walked maybe a mile and a half while visiting friends in NC.
-Did a plank sequence (center plank on forearms and side planks on each side), 50 crunches, 20 lower ab things

Monday 4/18: drove 9ish hours to FL.
-Longer plank sequence (30 sec @ center, 15 sec @side, reaching arm down and under stomach x8, 30 sec at center plank, then repeat for other side).
-50 crunches, 25 lower ab things
-15 tricep dips

Tuesday 4/19:
-ran 3.15 miles (easy)
-10 chest pushups, 10 tricep pushups
-walked on beach a little
-walked a mile-ish after dinner

Wednesday 4/20:
-ran 7.02 miles (long)
-walked around museum for an hourish and walked around a shoppy area for 2ish hours (yeah, I'm counting it for something)

Thursday 4/21:
-walked around a zoo for a couple hours
-15 tricep dips
-45 second plank
-40 crunches, 60 oblique crunches

Friday 4/22:
-ran 3.68 miles (tempo run)
-walked on beach a little
-leisurely swam a couple laps/treaded water in deep end of pool

Saturday 4/23:
-50 crunches, 50 bicycle crunches
-drove 10 hrs from FL to NC.
-Ran 3.05 miles on hotel's fitness center treadmill. Wanted to run longer but we got to hotel later than planned because of traffic and fitness ctr closed at 9. I ran until 9:01 pm. Got in .6 mile warm up, 2.25 mi at half pace (10:20 at .5-2.5 incline) and .2 mile cool down plus walking the fitness center key back to the front desk.

While my supplemental crunches/planks/etc were not as intense as my usual spin and boot camp, I'm still happy I was able to squeeze some of that in.

Happy Easter! We'll be driving the rest of the way home tomorrow with the rest of the northeast, yippee!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Florida Running

Running in Florida is tough!  I went from running in 50 degree weather in NJ to 80ish (in the morning, anyway) and super humid in FL.

Instead of starting off my Florida running with a long run, I decided to do an easy shorter run Tuesday morning before doing my longer run Wednesday morning.  I ran 3.15 miles Tuesday...sort of easy miles, with an unintentional faster mile in the middle. 

Wednesday's long run was 7.02 miles, definitely at an easy pace.
I stopped to photograph a little lizard friend on the sidewalk, and an armadillo (dead, I think, but I didn't poke it to find out).

Also, tried to photograph the ocean on my phone before heading back, it's not a great picture at all though.  See the tiny bit of water in the distance?  Ocean.

I decided to stop here because the arms for the railroad track came down and a train crossed seconds after this picture. Also, in between this picture and the ocean is a highway, and I wasn't going to run along the highway!

I also stopped around 4.3 miles to have a strawberry Clif energy gel (not bad, but didn't taste exactly like the strawberry Shot Bloks to me...kinda tasted like strawberry jam, and unexpectedly clear-ish, not red in color).  I only had a banana before my run and I think I was sweating faster than I was drinking my entire 21 oz of water, so I thought it might be a good idea to eat something before I got home.

I can't fairly comment on the consistency, or compare it to gu, as the energy gel was very warm from being in my tank top pocket and with the sun on my back for a portion of the run.  I think even in cooler temperatures, it might be a little less dense than gu.

It wasn't too hot at the start of my run, but very humid and as it is Florida, there is tons of direct sunlight and few clouds.  By 9:30 it was 78 already and by the time I finished my run it was 82.  I don't know the last time I was so sweaty.  I tried to take a picture of my sweaty self, but the picture did not fully capture my glistening sweaty skin, and I'm not sure anyone wants to see that anyway.  So here is my sweaty hat instead.


Meanwhile, Molly Waffles has been enjoying some time by the pool:

Cell phone reception for data really stinks here at the house (not as much in town) and I don't want to spend too much time couped up inside on the desktop computer, so I'm a little behind on my blog reading/commenting (and posting).  Hope everyone is having a good week!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Back on Track

Speed work after work went well today.
8x400 @ 5k pace.  My goal pace was in the 9:24-9:28 range based on shooting for a 2:15-2:16 half.  I did .12 mile rest intervals after every 400m (.25 miles).  Check out my splits:


I had feared that my week and a half of laziness would have impacted my fitness level.  But apparently not! I think it was a much needed break.

On a related note, Thursday night was boot camp.  My gym is 1.4ish miles away.  At 5/5:30pm, the first half of that involves slowly inching along in traffic.  Yesterday it was sunny and 70, and I got home from work early I decided to RUN to the gym (and back).  Surprisingly, I have never done this before.

My goal was 3 easy miles in addition to boot camp -- except my pace while running to the gym ended up being 9:22 for the first mile and and 9:52 for the remaining .53 miles.  I really meant to run those miles at a slower pace.  But maybe my fear of being late to the class and my week and a half rest helped me out.  I did a better job of slowing down a little for the return trip, running at a 10:29 pace.  There are sidewalks nearly the entire way which made it pretty easy.  I'd definitely do it again if I allow myself time and want to get some miles in on a boot camp night.

Not sure that I'm going to get a pace run in in the morning before we leave, as it's midnight, and I'm not totally packed yet...oh well.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Plan for the Next Half

Ok, finally I put some kind of training plan together to get me to the May 22 half marathon I will be running (guess I should register).

Maybe this will change, maybe not.

Thanks to all who responded to my previous post of what time goal I should shoot for. 
Sub 2:19 would make me happy.  Something in the 2:15-2:16 range would make me very very happy.

The little spots below where it says (car) are where I had inserted a cute little clip art picture of a car to indicate those are days I will be driving/riding in a car for 10 hours.  When I pasted the table into blogger, I lost it.  We did not have any plans for my week off for spring break next week until this past Tuesday, when we decided to drive down to FL (where the in-laws live), with our dog in tow.  We have friends in NC (which is perfectly mid way between NJ and FL) who we will stop and visit on our way down.

Anyway - what that means is the next two weekends will be spent driving, not doing my long runs.  So I tried to rearrange them.  It also means I miss spin and boot camp next week, but what are you gonna do.

What else...spring session of group classes ends May 5th, and summer classes don't start up until mid to late May.  So for strength in the last two weeks, I'll have to try to replicate boot camp in my apartment with some 3 and 5lb weights, a stability ball and a yoga mat.

This plan is based on Hal Higdon's intermediate and advanced half marathon plans.

Week 1 is what I did this week...up through tonight.  I'm hoping to get in speed work after work tomorrow and (maybe?) a short pace run before we leave Saturday morning.

Here it is:

Week 1 

1.7 easy 
+ spin 
3 easy 
+ boot  
8 x 400 
@5k pace 
4 pace 
Week 2 

2-3 easy?
8 long 
40 min 

3 easy 
4 pace 

Week 3 
9 long 
2-3 easy 
+ spin 
5 pace 
10 long 
Week 4 
45 min 
2-3 easy 
+ spin 
5 pace 
11 long 
Week 5 
2 easy 
+ strength 
2-3 easy 
+ strength 
50 min 
3 pace 
12 long 
Week 6 
3 easy 
+ strength 
2 easy 
+ strength 
30 min 

2:15 half 
2:16 half 

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Just a quick post to say I'm still alive!

-Last week, work was very crazy and it will be for the next month or so.  
-I took a couple days off from running after my half marathon so I really didn't have a lot to post about. 
-Then we went out of town for a friend's wedding this weekend and just got back.  So I'm finally getting around to posting again.

Back to last Sunday-- I felt pretty good later in the day after the half.  I wore my Zensah leg compression sleeves for the rest of the day, who knows if it helped...?  Monday my quads and the muscles above my knee felt tight when I woke up.  I made Monday through Wednesday recovery days, only walking the dog and doing some crunches. I think I could have done an easy run Wednesday night, but I got home late from work, had planned to make dinner, and there was a small amount of lingering muscle soreness so I talked myself out of running.  No need to rush back in to it, I guess.  Thursday morning my leg muscles were back to feeling 100%.

Thursday night I went to boot camp where we did all kinds of arm and chest and ab things with some quick cardio things mixed in (i.e. burpees, and a couple laps around the indoor track), then I did an easy 2 mile run outside because it was too nice not to.  I did not let myself look at my Garmin until the whole first mile passed which is sooo hard for me to do-- I wanted to run at an easy/comfortable pace without worrying about the numbers for the first time in a long time.

Here are some not great race photos from last week.  Nothing to write home about. The ones of me crossing the finish line were not any better.

 Why Am I Staring at my Foot!? I just finished my first gu here.

 This was at Mile 8...right after water sloshed out of my cup and into my eye.  
5.2 miles later, this point in the course is also the finish line.  Beware of those pasty legs of mine.

I need to remember to do something cool when I see the race know, like smile or look at the photographer!

I will obsess about my failed timing chip one last time...for now.  Using starting line photos and the race results, I looked up the chip start times of those around me at the beginning of the race. 

Where's Waldo??
The metal archway is what was supposed to read my chip at the start line.
There was not any weaving in and out or thinning out of the runners for about a quarter of a mile, so this is pretty much how everyone started the race.  

As you can see, I started after 59 and 454, who crossed the start at 8:05:21 and 8:05:20 respectively.  
I started before bib numbers 24, 22, and 76 who all crossed the line at 8:05:22.

So if I started at the same time as bib number 454 (at 8:05:20), and I crossed the finish line at 10:24:15 am (as recorded by my chip) that would mean my ACTUAL race time was 2:18:55.  Just sayin'...

Photo-based time: 2:18:55.
Garmin-based time: 2:19:07
Gun time: 2:19:33.

Quick Poll:   I'm working on putting together my next training schedule.  I asked on Twitter last week, but didn't get a huge response...

After running a ~2:19 hilly half marathon, how much do you think I can expect to improve my time on a flatter half marathon that is 6 weeks away?

(Thanks to Heather at Miss FancyPants Tris)-

:15 off my pace would be a 10:21ish average pace, which would be about a 2:15:35 half.  That's actually toward the faster end of the range I was training for - for this past half marathon, so I think that would be doable. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts! I don't know how much progress to expect in a 6 week time frame.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Race Report: My Third Half!

Sunday was the Bucks County Half Marathon!   
I set my alarm for 6:30.  I'm not gonna lie, I snoozed til almost 6:40.  I freshened up, got dressed, and threw a piece of wheat bread in the toaster oven.  I scampered around the apartment picking up all of my charged devices (well, just my mp3 player and Garmin).  I triple-checked my check list to make sure I had everything...water bottle, gu, music, Garmin, heart rate monitor, sunglasses...  I threw some peanut butter on my toast, grabbed a banana and was out the door by 7:05.

Oh! But first, I applied a temporary tattoo to my leg.  Yes, that's right.  One of the vendors at yesterday's expo was the ODDyssey half marathon (the May 22 half marathon I'm thinking about running).  They handed out a discount code for the registration fee and temporary tattoos.  If I wore  the temporary tattoo, took a picture of it on me, and posted it to the ODDyssey half marathon's facebook page, I'd get a chance at winning a gift certificate to a Philadelphia running store.  So, at the last minute, I decided to put the tattoo on my calf since my arms would be covered. Why not??

There's plenty of space on my calves, and it would be visible.  Maybe I should try to advertise on my calves more often...

Runners were supposed to show up at 7:30 even though the race didn't start til 8 and packet pick up was the day before.  I got there at about 7:33.  I sat in my car, where it was warm, until about 7:50, before walking over to the start line.

There were plenty of port-a-potties, and no lines - though I was all set in that department.  I re-tied and double knotted my shoes, then joined the group of people lined up on the paved path/road at the starting line.  I got in line somewhere in the back half as I didn't want to get in the way of the fast people.  A couple was staring at me, not very discreetly, and a minute later the woman approached me and asked if the tattoo on my leg was real (uhhhh, no).

It was 44F at the start of the race at 8am.  A little chilly standing around in shorts, but it was worth being cool at the beginning to not be hot later.  And I love my clothes too much to have any "throw away clothes" (This race was too small to have any kind of organized donation for those anyway).

I wasn't waiting for too long before the mumbling over the microphone told us to start.  I started my Garmin as I crossed the start line and ran under the metal gateway type thing that scans your chips.  Once I started moving, I hit play on my mp3 player.  It felt like a very slow shuffle at the start as there were so many people and the path was narrow.  After a quarter mile or so, I saw I was moving at an 11:00 pace.  While this was slow, I was ok with that because I have to try so hard to slow down at the beginning!

Well, by the time Mile 1 rolled around, it turned out I ran that first mile at a 10:04 pace...whoops. I tried to slow it down a bit. 

I gotta give credit to people who can remember mile-by-mile how their race went.  While I have a good memory for some things, I guess I zone out a little while running sometimes.  I'll mention what I DO remember.

Mile 2...I crossed a dam where there was a photographer and there were many people fishing.  Standing in the water in waders, fishing.  I remember seeing a boy to my right, close to the path, about to cast his fishing line, and wondered if the line would go flying over his shoulder and hit a runner.  Shortly after this point, I felt like a lot of people broke ahead of me, and felt like I was somewhat alone...but I don't like looking behind me either.

I started trying some mental math to think about what my overall time would be at various points based on a 10:30 pace (i.e. 2 miles = 21 min, 4 miles = 42 min, 8 miles = 84 min or 1 hr 24 min.  Then I started thinking about where in the course I'd be at 8 miles. That's the kind of math I entertain myself with when I zone out).

There was a decent climb over the course of mile ~2.5-3.6 and I felt like I caught up a bit with the group I had been running behind here.  I passed two girls who said the first 2.5 miles of this half was harder than some half they did before.  This incline was followed by a much appreciated, but short, slight downhill/flat stretch.

Mile 4.5 - crossed the dam again, started on Mint Chocolate Gu #1.  I ate it gradually until mile 4.8.

Mile 5.5 - 7:  MAJOR Hill #1.  After going back and forth with a small group of people that I had been with since the beginning, I maintained my effort (but not so much my pace) and  powered up this hill.  I never saw them again.  I felt strong on this hill!

At Mile 5 and 6, I noticed my watch was only about .03 off from the chalk markings on the ground (i.e. 5.0 on my watch beeped a little before the chalk marking.  When I crossed the 5.0 marking, my watch read 5.03).  Somehow I maintained that .03 difference for the rest of the race.

Mile 7 and change: Some super fast guys passed me on the downhill, clearly on their second lap.

Mile 8: Garmin Time @7.99: 1:24:53 = 10:37 pace.  I grabbed some fresh cold water from one of the tables offering water + gatorade, and in trying to sip it, it splashed back up in my face, and into my eye.  This was at the finish line (had I been done running).  Seconds later, I realized I was passing a photographer...yeesh, if she got my picture, I'm going to have quite the wonky eye.

ETA: Around 8.4 miles, There was a spectator walking along the course ringing a cowbell.  I told him, "Nice job with the cowbell!"  He said, "Great job running!"

From a little after 8 until a little after mile 9, I was running next to the same person.  It was a comfortable pace, but still working, at 10:22 - to make up for some lost time on the hills.  I lost her when she stopped at the water stop shortly after mile 9.

Knowing that the massive hill was coming up again starting at about 10.5, I held off on Mint Chocolate Gu #2 until mile 9.3 so it would kick in closer to the bottom of the hill.

Mile 10.5 - 12 was KILLER.  I slowed to walk for about 15 seconds a couple times to sip down some water without choking or splashing it in my eyeball and to try to let my HR lower a little!  While my HR was higher than I would have liked, I didn't feel like I was going to die.

I remember trying to do the math at miles 10.1 and 11.1 to estimate what my overall time would be if I ran the remaining 3 and 2 miles at an 11:00 pace, which I had thought was doable, even taking the hill into consideration.

Mile 12 came near the top of that last big hill.  I knew it was downhill (mostly) from that point on.
At mile 12.1, I was at 2:09:29 on my Garmin, and looking at an estimated end time of 2:20, even if I was able to push it and pick up the pace.  I wanted to beat 2:20 though!  So I started on that last downhill, knowing I wanted to go faster  Based on feel, I tried to go fast, but not so fast that I would keel over half a mile from the finish line.  This part is a little bit of a blur.  I remember seeing a guy who was either wandering into the woods to pee, or he was not involved in the race and was running on the horse trails.  I really don't remember much else.

I think I held off on looking at my watch until about 12.75.  In my head I thought "only a quarter mile to go!"  Then remembered that extra .1.  A dude who had been running near me for a little bit began to walk.  Someone who had already finished was coming against race traffic and encouraged walking guy to keep it up, and told him the end wasn't much farther.

When Mile 13 beeped, I looked down and saw my 9:37 pace for that mile!!  I rounded the final corner and ran harder to the finish line. 9:11 pace for that final .13 of a mile!

I crossed the finish line, and slowed to a jog until I reached the person handing out medals.  THEN remembered I didn't stop my watch immediately upon crossing finish. Aw, man...  It was probably less than 10 seconds after I actually crossed the finish line.

I walked around a little, picked up some snacks (more water, a cup of gatorade, a banana, some Dole Real Fruit Bites, a bagel), and made it over to the tent with the results.  I waited for my bib number to come up only to see it showed 10:24:15...ugh, the TIME that I crossed the finish line.  like 10:24am.

Now for the whining - wahhhh.  I filled out a little slip to report the problem and stuck it in the drop box.  The guy manning the timing tent told me it happened to a couple people...something about there being so many people at the start (what?? that's never happened to me at a race before, and aren't chips designed to be used in large groups?).  He told me it would be fixed on the results page when it was posted online.

The race organizers sent out an email with the link to the results.  I eagerly checked it only to see...2:19:33.  I was confused because I was SURE my chip time was faster than my Garmin.  Well, it looks like they just put in the start according to the gun (8:04:42)  as my start.  Which was definitely not the case as I was in the back half of the starting group.  So, I wonder if that will ever get corrected.  Unfortunately, as this was my first race alone, I didn't start near anyone I knew - so I can't say "Hey I crossed the start line at the same time as #xxx."

Additionally, my reported time on the results page at mile 8 mile was about a minute slower than on my watch...which I think reflects the incorrect start time as well.  Oh well... I will hope that it gets updated.  Otherwise, I will know that 2:19:33 is STILL better than last year's best time of 2:21:10 on a flat course.  And that 2:19:07, on my Garmin, is probably a closer estimate of my actual time.

Regardless: A new half marathon PR Despite an insanely hilly course!!

The course included some "rolling hills."  Once again, the course elevation:

And my Splits:

After I stuck around a little bit to clap/cheer for the people still finishing the race, but didn't stick around for the awards ceremony. Once I left the park, I hunted down a Starbucks for a nonfat Double Shot on Ice for the whopping 20 minute drive home.

And I waited until I got home to get an everything wheat bagel with egg and cheese from the awesome bagel shop near my apartment (eh, that bagel at the race was a little dry anyway, I only took a couple nibbles).

This morning I received an email from the timing company:

At the start of a race like yesterday's, a small number (less than 1%) of chip reads are usually missed simply because of the density of people and the resulting interference. This is the nature of all chip timing systems, and we try to be honest about it (unlike some timers who make up random chip start times so they don't have to communicate with runners like you, who have very real concerns).

Unfortunately, you were one of the 3-4 runners whose chips were not read at the start so we had no recourse except to use the gun time. At the finish, we have a secondary finish arch that is 5 feet narrower than the primary arch, which would have cause an unsafe bottle neck had we used it at the start.

I'm sorry there's nothing more I can do, we're just pushing the limits of technology on dense starts like this. For comparison, it's been reported that the Broad Street Run missed times for over 2,000 entries last year. I wish there was something more that I could do, but unfortunately there isn't.

If you are looking for comparsons with other people, there is an overall finish for all runners based on gun start toward the bottom of the results and the gun time was for the entire measured distance.

So, it looks like all I will have is my gun time - 2:19:33.
Or, I can choose to (personally) acknowledge my Garmin time - 2:19:07 - as my PR.

Time to let my muscles relax for a couple days!
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