Sunday, September 30, 2007

Playing it conservative?

I'm getting more confused about what I should do for Detroit.

Plan was to show up with the 3:55 (9 min pace) group, run for half the race with them, and then cut lose around the half marathon mark. Run seven at a moderately hard pace, and blow out the last 6.2 with whatever I have left- hopefully more than the previous seven.

I imagined doing 3:46, cutting an hour off last year- my current marathon PR. But after running the 20 miler yesterday at an 8:11 pace, and realizing that it would give me a 3:34 marathon if I were able to keep it up for another six miles... it makes me wonder.

What could I do if I blew it out? If I followed my plan, but signed up with the 3:42 (8:30 pace) rather than the nine?

It's a risk.
But most things are.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

20 Mile Training run

I like the 20 mile training run.

It's a warm up, a test, and an affirmation all in one. Though I like and respect the Galloway method of run-walking, and it was useful for me to have done a 26 mile training run prior to running my first full, I think I'm best off if I limit myself to 20s as my long. It just feels easier on the body.

Today was the last of those prior to running Detroit. I've done three prior this training season- one just before jaunting off to California, as well as in the two weeks preceding this one. I think my average paces for them were 9:15, 11, and 10:30- the second two slower because I was running with my marathon training class.

Anyway, this time I ran with my friend K~, who's significantly faster than I am- though she's not actually signed up for a marathon this year. Running with her, I was pretty sure that I wouldn't follow the plan I so carefully devised, but I figured as long as I didn't get injured, I'd be okay.

Anyway, here's the breakdown-

Miles: 20
Time: 2:43:21
Pace: 8:10
Avg HR: 154

We pretty much talked about everything, from politics to family to death, and the miles flew by. On the one hand, it makes it harder to get into that "zone" where everything fades and it's just you, your stride, and the burning in your lungs. On the other hand, it's so much more rewarding to build lasting friendships while out on the run- it's part of what makes running running to me. I'll save my best efforts for the races.

Of course, I came close to following the plan in that I did the first mile in 8:51, the second in 8:27, and pretty much all the rest hanging out around 8:00- some a little faster, most a bit slower.

I also worked on the running while drinking from a cup technique. Still something to practice, but I'm getting better- I only spilled water on myself a couple of times!

Lastly, because I felt I had earned it, I purchased the stick to ease my poor, battered muscles. I swear I had a knot in my left calf muscle about the size of a golf ball!

'Twas a beautiful day for a run. An excellent time running. And I think I learned that I could run a pretty good time in Detroit if I stay uninjured and keep my focus.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


So, I've hit a plateau with respect to my running speed. Even though (according to Garmin) I managed to run a 6:09 mile earlier this year on the track, during speed work yesterday I managed 93-105 second quarter mile intervals, meaning a 6:12 to 7:00 min pace.

Probably due to a number of issues- nutrition, humidity, the fact I was on asphalt and not on a track- these all probably play a role. But I really should face the fact that I won't be getting faster this season. I shouldn't even want to- the stress on the body is big, and since the big race is three and a half weeks away, I should play it careful and not tempt fate.

And the strange thing is, I probably won't tempt fate this way. It's not like I actually really like speed work. I like the results. I like the camaraderie of everyone feeling like they've been steamrolled together. I like the fact that what was normal has become easy, and what was fast has become normal. But I'm not hugely fond of redlining my body in anything other than a race.... it's uncomfortable, and the chance of injury is high.

This summer has, however, been very useful in teaching me what I can do. So to extend the plateau metaphor for a bit, I think I'll stop, take a rest, and admire the view. I'm in this for the long haul. Getting faster is nice, but it isn't why I'm in this, any more than losing weight or getting medals. They are only a happy side effects. :)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Things upcoming...

On Wednesday, I'll get my bike from it's one month tune up, and decide whether to spend money on aerobars, and aero waterbottle, and the clips that will hold it all together. I'll also get to go to a swim practice in the morning- first three times are free, then it's $100 for 20 practices. Not a terrible price, to be sure. But I'll have to weigh my financial situation.

On Saturday, I get to do the Running Fit 20 mile training run in preparation for the Detroit marathon. I hope to get it done in three hours or so- my first of the season was 3:05 and was unsupported, in hotter weather, and a more difficult course. But it was the first one of the season, and I was really excited about getting it done.

A week after that is the Great Pumpkin Duathlon a 5K run/40K bike/10K run to which I've been really looking forward. I'd need to practice a lot at Kensington in my Aerobars if I go through with that, but it should be a great event. My hope is to finish in under 2:40, but really I'd be pretty happy with under three.

Then it's two weeks of tapering till Detroit. I plan to take the week prior to the Duathlon light as well... it doesn't really count as a taper, but I'm not racing the duathlon like I raced Heart of the Hills or Angela Hospice or how I plan to race Detroit. I'm just running it for fun.


translation: I guess that means I'll give 97% of my all rather than 100%


Thankfully the fall marathon season doesn't last much beyond fall, ya'know? :)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Running Tip #35

How you can tell you may be an obsessed runner-

Did a ~20 mile training run today.
Saw others out running on my drive home.
Was jealous.

I've done two other 20 milers in the past few weeks- each time, it happened. Weird, eh?

Speaking of weird, my quads have been hurting every since Tuesday because of speed work an plyometrics. After doing the long run today, my quads don't hurt anymore. Strange stuff...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Wrapping the brain

26.2 miles is a pretty good distance, not matter what you're doing. For a decent mileage car, it's a gallon of gas. On a bike, it's an 60-90 minutes, depending on your speed. It's also the distance of a marathon, and it's sometimes hard to wrap the brain around.

I'm planning to do my next one as two half marathons- the first at a decent, relaxed pace- perhaps a bit faster than my first 20 mile training run pace this season. After that I'll try to cut loose a bit, hopefully dropping 30 seconds to a minute per mile off the average of my first half. But I'm breaking it down into manageable bites, and that's how it has to be.

Some look at the marathon this way- half the work is done in the first 20 miles. The rest is done in the last 6.2. That's a little harder to wrap my brain around, but I understand the concept. I ran my first marathon that way- the first twenty I did for fun, but it wasn't till after Belle Isle that I figured out that this was actually going to be work. So I changed my iPod from podcasts and audiobooks to music, put my game face on, and buckled down.

It went well, but I don't remember that much of it. Races can be like that.

But as I was biking with a friend yesterday, I mentioned that I wanted to drop an hour of my marathon PR- from 4:46 to 3:46 as my dream goal. I'm sure I can do it, barring accident, illness or injury. It's just a little hard to wrap my brain around. Like the course.

It's a lot like the course from last year, though without the finish at Ford Field, which was both a blessing and a curse from last year. It'll be nice, and interesting, and difficult, and wonderful, like most big accomplishments.

In one month, I'll have been a marathoner for a little less than a year. Everything going well I'll have finished my third in that time, and in less time than I would have thought possible just a few months ago. And the more I think of it, the less able I am to wrap my brain around it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Wet Suit!

First swim with a "real" wet suit (one designed for triathlons). It amazing! I can't believe the buoyancy that it provides the legs, which flattened me out and made me a lot more efficient. Also, it kept me nice and toasty in 65-67 degree water, and I didn't even put on the neoprene cap that I bought to help keep me warmer as the temps fall.

The first few laps were tough though- I haven't swum much in the past couple of weeks, and it's not like I had a lot of muscle memory developed. But after a while my arms got used to the motion again, even while being encased in neoprene. My hips got in on the action, and I felt my rhythm- at least, a little bit.

I have a lot of work to do, though. :)

my splits for ~0.1 mile laps...
4:13, 4:16, 4:17, 4:04, 4:15, 4:30, 3:50, 4:00, 3:50, 3:39

My heart rate for the first five laps was significantly higher (30 bpm) than the second five, and I felt very short of breath after them. But it got better... kind of like running that way. :)

I think I'll try to swim twice a week until it gets too cold, though I could just be fooling myself. With both a duathlon and marathon coming up, I might not have time, ya'know?

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Dances with Dirt (DWD) was about a week ago.

And it may have been one of the coolest running experiences I've ever had. The possibility of death is mentioned three times in the waiver, and the line is quoted on the back of the shirt... though, so far as I can tell no one has actually died during the race.

It's a 100K relay, split up among 5 people. Most do between 10-15 miles. Some get lost, some fall, twist ankles, and get poison ivy. About everyone gets scratched, muddy, and sore. There are lots of hills, trip hazards, and that sort of thing.

The truth is, it's very hard to put into words... the support of running with a team is really, really cool. It's even cooler when we had another group of close friends on another team- we cheered each other when one team or the other hit the relay stop first.

The pics I took are a lot more expressive than I am; if you've any interest, check them out here. Some pics taken by my team mates...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Utah run

I only had a couple of runs while out west; a good one went through the streets of salt lake city into the foothills of the mountains. With the magic of Google Earth, here's the course. The mountains look more mountainy than they should, but (according to Garmin) I started off at about 4000 feet and ran up to about 5000. Tough stuff for a lowlander like myself.

I mostly had to run on Concrete. Ugh. I was a bike friendly town, though- I even saw a few triathlon bikes. *sigh* I long to live in a place where I could safely ride my bike to work. Michigan didn't have that as a priority during urban (or suburban) planning.