Friday, November 16, 2012

Remediation Plan

1. Get over it.

2. Keep up with speed work and tempo runs.

  • Check.
  • Tuesday: 6x800 in 3:38-3:43
  • Thursday: 5 mile tempo run at 8:25 avg pace

3. Add some core work into the  mix again.

  • I haven’t devoted any time to abs in…many months. It can’t hurt.

4. Run this race for fun tomorrow morning (and for free, thanks to Pavement Runner and INKnBURN)

…where I will get to try out my new Dirty Girl gaiters:

000_0003  000_0002 


I may need them not only to keep stones and dirt out of my shoes, but maybe mud, too:

gpth forecast

At least it won’t be too cold?

5.  Do some more long [road] runs. Like maybe, a 14 and an 11-12 miler.

6. Perhaps try for a PR again at this race in 3 weeks. Worst case, it’s a fun Christmas-themed run.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Day of Disappointment

Let’s start with some things that went right:
  • Got to the race on time.
  • Nearly perfect weather (it rained the last 2 years)
  • Found friends before race.
  • Didn’t start too fast!
  • Had an amazing first 7-8 miles.
  • Found friends after the race.
  • Got to cheer in a lot of running group friends!
I was sure to hydrate in the days leading up to the half. I had a nice little pasta dinner Saturday night.  I was a ball of nerves and I (needlessly), obsessively looked at the pace ranges within my goal range.
Sunday I woke at 5:45am (old-6:45, thanks Daylight Savings Time). I got all my stuff together and got out the door by 6:15. I parked by 6:35 (it’s amazing how fast you can get around early in the morning when there’s no traffic) and was texted with a meeting place to find some friends I would be running with.
7am start.

First goal: Don’t start off too fast. Goal accomplished. A congested start (no corrals) and an uphill first mile will help keep your pace in check.

schmsplits - 1
schm elev

Mini hill out of the way, time to pick up the pace and get closer to goal pace.  During the second mile I felt great! Like I could definitely sustain the pace. I enjoyed the following several miles of the race. There were some good cheering sections and some familiar faces in the crowds from the running group.  I have two Honey Stinger Chews at about mile 4.25.

schmsplits - 2_6                                                  
Hooray! Running is fun!

                                                     schm1group     schm1magicmtn

Random Timing mat at 5.5 miles had me at 47:11 or an 8:35 pace. Perfect!! On target for a 1:53-ish.

Next came the beginning of slight discomfort, also the beginning of a slight incline which lasts for about 2 miles.  I start to slip back from a few friends, but another running buddy felt more comfortable at my pace.  I hadn’t given up though, and said I was still going to try to keep up.
schmsplits - 78

Had 1 more energy chew around mile 6.2 and another at mile 7.2

Enter side stitch. Something I have rarely had before, and never for more than a minute or two.  I decided I would grab some Gatorade at the next aid station, which was a little after mile 8.

Mile 9. This is where it’s supposed to get easy, as the course becomes a slight downhill from this point for the next 3 miles.  Hoping side stitch issue resolves itself.  Side stitch feels no better. I walk a little around 9.5.  I begin thinking about running the tangents of the course along the curvy bike path because I need something to think about other than my left side and my non-relaxed breathing.

schmsplits - 9_11

Mile 10.2 ish. I’m walking again, trying to breathe deeply and I get a pat on the back and a “come on, Amanda” from a running club friend leading the 4 hour marathon pace group. Bummed… I’m supposed to be ahead of them.  Happy for the encouragement, though; I feel like crap. He asks if I drank too much water; I say I don’t think so (only had a few ounces from my handheld plus a few sips of Gatorade).  I start running again with him, he tries to coach me how to relax my breathing. I focus on my diaphragm but still can’t relax my breathing.  Below my rib cage feels like a giant knot.  He asks me if I’m feeling better and I abruptly find myself stepping to the right and stop myself from yakking. I realize everyone and their brother behind me will see it. I am beyond the point of “I hope I don’t have to” and I am instead trying to find a spot where I can do this where it will be slightly less obvious.

Mile 10.6 Found a spot to the left where there was a cut out in some grass. Blech. I swish some water in my mouth and I begin running again.

Mile 11-12: Amazingly I’m running a sub-9 pace again! Maybe I can turn this around a little!

Mile 12-13:  I came up from an underpass to see some familiar faces cheering me on from the running store where I worked but despite the pleasant surprise, I felt like butt. They were yelling things like “looking strong” (They were lying).

schm2 mouthbreatherschm3schm3 painschm3a

I took a couple quick walk breaks only after I was out of sight trying to feel better.

I heard my 4-hour pace group friends just ahead, directing the 2-hour half people where to branch off, and I really want to catch up to see them again but I wasn’t quite fast enough.

The half marathon splits off and it’s a slight uphill that I was not prepared for. I walk a little more so I have some energy left for the final stretch. Once I could hear cheering from the finish area I picked up the pace until the finish line (last nubbin is .19 miles...clearly I did not run the tangents).

schmsplits - 12_13.19


Chip Time: 2:00:09

I know 2 hours would have been a glorious half marathon time back in June, and it wasn’t that awful of a time considering how the last five miles went, but: meh.  95% of my training runs felt better than this race; it just wasn’t my day for a PR.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Mountain Run Half Marathon Prep

This Sunday, I shall find out whether my recently adopted training method of long mountain trail runs has adequately prepared me for a faster flat half marathon.

Exhibit A:

On October 20th, I did a lovely 12 mile out-and-back run on the Pacific Crest Trail where 2540’ of elevation gain rewards you with views like these:


Exhibit B:

On the 27th I ran up a local mountain aptly nicknamed “The Beast” then continued on to a fire station at the top of a different peak before turning around, for a total of 15 miles with 2879 feet of elevation gain:


In contrast, Sunday will involve running the first half of this:


The day after my 12 mile mountain run, we did a 5 mile hike with a friend with a a mere 1100’ of elevation gain. Just to make sure I totally killed my legs.

The other runs:

Week of the 22nd

Wednesday AM: Crappy 5 miles of speed work on a hotel treadmill while out of town for work again.
Thursday PM: Running club’s Halloween run, 5.72 miles. I skipped on the costume but did wear orange and black. Pace started at a comfortable 9:47, but crept into the 8s and there was even a 7:36 mile. Avg pace: 8:39.
Saturday AM: 15 Mountain Miles (above).

Week of the 29th

Tuesday PM: Short speed work at the track. 6x[400m, 200Rest] in 1:41-1:47,  for a total of 3.65 miles.
Friday AM: It didn’t even happen yet, but I’m predicting the future… 3-4 miles at goal race pace.

And what’s goal race pace?

Well. I don’t know for sure. I haven’t run any real races in a few months but my unofficial-5k-at-the-end-of-a-5-mile-run in 23:54 and my 10 mi tempo run at a 8:30 pace from a few weeks ago point to an equivalent performance of a 1:51ish half marathon. 

That sounds kind of scary and my taper crazies lead me to strongly doubt that kind of speed.  So here’s a range, based on my beloved Run Less Run Faster book:

Equivalent 5k Performance HM time HM pace
23:50 1:50:33 8:26
24:00 1:51:13 8:29
24:10 1:52:05 8:33
24:20 1:52:44 8:36
24:30 1:53:37 8:40

Really, my last half marathon in June was a 1:57:13 (8:57 pace) so I will be happy to run anything faster than that.  8:30 or 8:40 make for easy math along the way (17 min/2 miles or 26 min/3 miles). But I could make another one of these pace cheat sheets like I did for Philly last November:

Thanks to Kristy for this brilliant idea. 

Last fall I used my lofty goal of 2:07, which Kristy and Kara said I was capable of (but I was skeptical); then I ran a 2:06:48.  So maybe this Sunday’s pace chart should be geared toward the faster end of my goal again.

Other items to consider:

Daylight Savings! And it’s the good one, where you get 1 extra hour of sleep tossing and turning and waking up at 1am and 2am and 2am (<—DST bonus) and 3am and 4am… in a panic worried that I overslept my alarm.

Warm. Today was comfortable with a high temperature around 70. But no worries, it will warm up again for this weekend.  And because of Daylight Savings, the start time at New-7am will be the Old-8am; so I’ll be running until Old-10am, which will probably easily get into the mid 70s.  At least there is no rain in the forecast; last year it poured.


Is there a “home field advantage” in running? I have run parts of the race course fairly regularly since moving here in February.  Previously my halfs have been new territory.  Either I’ll be able to tell myself “you’ve run this section before, you’ve got this!” or I may poke my eyes out on some of the more familiar sections.

One of said “more familiar” sections:

Now pretend you are standing on this path and I am running toward you. 
That will be me at mile 7 or 8. I can’t tell because that stretch kinda looks the same.

Here’s hoping for something in the low to mid 1:50s…

PS, Good luck to anyone running in NYC this weekend!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Oh, hi October.

Oh, hello there.  It turns out it’s really easy for me to upload my runs on Daily Mile then be done with it, and then I forget to blog.  Or I’m lazy.  Or things just got a little busy, but in a good way.  Things at work picked up, then I got promoted at work, and I started an online class, and we went camping for a weekend.

Let’s summarize October up to this point before I blink again and the month is over. I will try to throw in some pictures to bedazzle this post.

Week of October 1:
Tuesday: 3.1 easy miles to let my quads loosen up after Leona Valley.

: 8 mile bike ride/avg 12mph

I <3 our bike path. PS, this is apparently what a SoCal fall looks like.

: 5 miles, we can call it a progression run. First 2 miles at 10:00 pace, then an 8:00 mile, then 7:35, then 7:19. The last 3.1 mi were in 23:54, and that is an unofficial new 5K PR, friends.

Sunday: 11.5 mi long run
.  I tried to plan a new route from my house so I didn’t have to drive anywhere; it turned out to be super hilly; and was therefore no where near as fast as I had hoped. Avg pace 10:18.

On the plus side, when you run up hills you also get nice views, and I saw two real-life Road Runners for the first time.  Not people running on a road, but the bird.

IMG-20121007-01901   IMG-20121007-01905

Total: 27.68 mi
(19.6 Run/8.08 Bike)

Week of October 8:
Monday: 11 mile bike ride/avg 13.8 mph

Tuesday: 4.93 mi. of Speed- 4x[300m,100R], 2x[600m,200R], 4x[300m, 100R]
First 300s in 1:13, 1:17, 1:15, 1:15/600s in 2:38, 2:39/Second 300s in 1:18, 1:15, 1:16, 1:15.

Thursday: 5.37 mi. Reverse progression run? Ran the first 2.7 mi in 7:56, 8:01, 7:50. I appreciated some words of encouragement as two enthusiastic cyclists rode by me and said I was killing it. I was booking it trying to find some running friends who I knew got started about 5-10 minutes ahead of me. I found them and ran 2.5 mi back with them in 9:29, 9:31, 9:44.

Saturday: 4.3 mile unexpected trail run on the Ray Miller Trail in Point Mugu State Park while beach camping.  It was just across the road; I couldn’t resist.

100_9181    100_9185100_9169     100_9191 

It was so pretty and I ran it so slowly.  But there also happened to be 1155’ of elevation gain mostly in the first 2 miles.  It got pretty quiet toward the top and there were fewer and fewer people as I went. Sometimes I get jumpy running by myself when I hear rustling in the brush…And remembering this sign from the beginning of the trail, I decided 2 miles was a good time to turn around and run back down.

Perhaps it was just my dog playing Jedi mind tricks on me to get me to come back to our camp site.

100_9206    100_9069

100_9221    100_9272

There was an XTERRA trail race that Sunday which included the trail I ran on.  I wasn’t really looking to race, as I should be focusing my efforts at this point on my Nov 4 half marathon, but I have never felt such race-envy!  When we woke up all these cars were parked along the Pacific Coast Highway behind us and I saw everyone pinning on their bibs and I could hear the announcer on a megaphone, and eventually I could see runners making their way down the mountain.  It made me want to run real bad. 

: 8.7 mile bike ride/avg 12.2 mph. Then I get to count walking my bike up the last half mile of the hill.

Total: 34.86 mi (14.58 Run/19.82 Bike/.46 Pushing a 35lb bike up hill).

Week of October 15:
Tuesday: Call it a belated long run or a long tempo run. I met one of the super speedy runners from my running group for 10 miles in the morning.  He can probably consider it an easy run, but we ran an out and back 10 miles. The first 5 were supposed to be around a 9:00 pace and the last 5 were supposed to be closer to 8:00.  We started faster than I meant to and finished slower, but the first 5 were in 43:52 and the last 5 were in 41:28 so I’ll take those negative splits. I also think 85 minutes is the fastest I’ve run 10 miles.

6.16 miles/avg pace of 8:53. Ran the first four sort of easy-ish, while I chatted with other running group members, in the 9:15-9:35 range.  Then I ran the last two miles in 8:02 and 7:39.

Saturday: Planning a 10-12 mi trail run, whether it’s the practice for the upcoming Griffith Park Half Marathon or a much closer trail run with my running group.  Both start at 6:45am, so I’m guessing I’ll end up opting for the one 15 minutes away instead of an hour away.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Race Report: Leona Valley Trail Half Marathon

Saturday I had the opportunity to run the Leona Valley Trail Half Marathon in Lake Hughes, CA. This race is put on by Keira Henninger, accomplished ultra runner and race director of both the Leona Divide 50/50 I volunteered at back in April and the upcoming Griffith Park Trail half marathon I’m running in November (and more).
I arrived at about 6:40 am and had enough time to pick up my packet, drop the race bag goodies back at my car, put on sun screen, and get back up to the starting line for the count down to the 7am start (we started exactly at 7:00, too! which has not been the case for some of my previous smaller races).

The course starts at the Lake Hughes Community Center and goes straight up a fire road for about 3 miles with views like this along the way:
100_8990     100_8991

Around mile 3 we got to coast down hill to the first aid station at mile 3.4.  The aid stations had water, electrolyte drink, bananas, oranges, perfectly ripe strawberries, peanut butter pretzel nuggets, pb&j, energy gels, and more.

After the aid station at mile 3.4, we dropped down on to single track along the Pacific Crest Trail and continued the descent until the turnaround and 2nd aid station at mile 6.7.
100_8997     100_8999100_9000   100_9008
And so ends my attempt to photograph while moving.  I felt amazing through the second aid station and it was cool to see the lead half marathoners coming back up on my way down.  They were hauling it uphill yet they were still able to offer encouraging words while I stepped off the trail for them to safely pass me. Math is fuzzy while I’m running, but I think I was around mile 5.8 and therefore they were around 7.6?  I hit the second aid station (6.7 miles) at 1 hour, 11 minutes.  This aid station was pirate themed: complete with a treasure chest, fake swords, and skull & cross-bone fabric draped on the brush leading up to the aid station.

After the turnaround, the first mile up was tough and I did a lot of walking.  Looking at the elevation above, according to my Garmin, I feel better about the walking I did (mile 7.0-8.0 had no elevation loss and 469’ of elevation gain).  The sun started to feel warm on the sunny parts of the switchbacks at this point too.  Somewhere in this rough uphill mile is where two speedy guys with yellow marathon bibs flew down the  hill past me, closely followed by elite ultra runner Michelle Barton—who all took the time to say things like “great work” as they passed me.


Mile 8-9 was a little faster but still with some walking mixed in and once I hit 9, I ran the entire way to the aid station at mile 10 (that mile was not as steep and more fun to run).  The aid station had some unexpected ice for my water bottle which was much appreciated as it had really warmed up by this point.  From this point, there was about a half mile uphill, then the rest was down hill to the finish. 

Leaving the aid station, I met another runner named Naomi and we stuck together until the finish line, and even finished at exactly the same time.  Just a few miles before, all I could think about was the downhill miles awaiting me and how I couldn’t wait to fly down them, but they dragged on a little longer than I expected and it was great to have some company. 

After the last aid station I saw some 5k runners making their way up the hill, a few people setting up a water stop—two of them wearing only tie-dyed tighty whities?, a non-racer offering some encouragement, and a couple guys who had already finished the half perhaps doing their cool down in the form of running back up the hill along the course (also perhaps crazy?) With less than a half mile to go I could hear cheering from the finish area below and tricked myself into thinking I was closer to the finish than I actually was.

I tied for 7th out of 39 females; and 27th/72 overall.

100_9013my Mizuno Wave Ascends on a much-deserved break at the finish line

After crossing finish, Keira medal-ed me, then someone gave me a cold bottle of water and a lunch ticket. I walked around trying to keep my freshly pounded quads from seizing up and talked with a few of the runners who passed me or were near me on the course.  I love how positive and friendly trail runners are—both during and after racing– a little different than road racing.

The splits:
The schwag:
100_9021   100_9023100_9027     100_9025      100_9018
I of course have to note that I am greatly appreciative of the female-specific shirt sizing.  I’m not typically a super pinky (or glittery) person, but I will definitely wear this shirt.  The guys got a light grey tech tee.  Ladies also got the cute running necklace above (and modeled by Molly Waffles, above right).  Top finishers of all the distances (5k, 10k, half & full marathon) received nice big mugs with the race name and their place on them.

This was a well-organized race and a beautiful, but very challenging, course with great aid stations & volunteers!  Even though as I write this my quads are still sore, I would definitely run this again next year and I’m looking forward to another well-organized trail race in November in Griffith Park.
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