Thursday, June 24, 2010

Seventh Track Workout - 6/23/10 - 6.63 miles 1:25ish?

Another estimated time - I had my Garmin this time but neglected to time the cool down lap.  The weather was nasty beyond nasty, worse by far than anything we'd suffered through yet.  By the time I got to the track at 6:30PM it was still 94 degrees outside.  Summer is only three days old and I'm sick of it already!

The original plan was for 16 laps with some speedwork, due to the heat this quickly became "16 laps, just get 'em done."  We keep getting emails about taking it easy, staying hydrated, and listening to your body and those were all excellent points to keep in mind last night.  Some people don't seem the least bit bothered by the heat, though come to think of it those tend to be the people in the 9-10 minute pace groups (and that's their easy mile) who are in stupidly good shape to begin with.  Some of us normal folk struggle a bit more though even coach Andy walked a few laps.  Even though he was walking it was a bit of a boost to run past him three times.

I really, really considered giving up.  I lost track of the laps somewhere after 7 since I wasn't running with a group .  I just remember thinking "oh crap, I'm not even HALF WAY THROUGH this stupid ass workout" and I think I kind of zoned out after that.  It was probably more a mental hurdle than anything even though I wasn't feeling all that great physically either.  I tried to stick with my usual running buddy, if not for her I probably would have given up and gone home after lap 8.  We don't talk much but it's just nice to have someone next to you to keep you accountable.  Halfway through the last lap the 12 minute group picked us up and we hauled ass through to the end.  Then it was time for the cool down...

Which we really, really didn't want to do.  We stood out on the sidewalk debating and bargaining with each other when Andy came over and congratulated us on finishing (if you count "you made it" as congratulatory which I do) and let us know the cool down was optional last night.  Problem solved, right?  Nah.  I told Andy that I was debating how much I'd beat myself up if I skipped it and he told me that meant I should definitely do it.  So we did.  And he's right, I felt much better in every after a leisurely run around the campus.  I guess it was character building, I felt pretty proud of myself for not giving up when it would have been so easy to just step off the track and go back to the car.  When I got home Bo told me he was proud of me too, that means the world to me!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Seventh Trail Run - 6/20/10 - 12 miles - 2:45ish?

I was really not feeling up to this run which makes me even more proud for having sweated through it.  Saturday we spent a day out and hit the bar, apparently I had more than my share of giant margaritas  (only 2).  I wasn't feeling bad on Saturday but Sunday morning I woke up tired, dehydrated, and with a stomach that was none too happy with me.  I contemplated bailing on the run but knew there was no way I'd do it myself later in the day so I dragged myself out of bed.

I got to the park 15 minutes early as usual but it was unusually crowded already so I had to park farther away.  Seems a silly thing to complain about having to walk farther to the car when you're about to run 12 miles I guess.  It also meant that the line for the porta potty was about 9 deep by the time I got to it.  I queued up and realized I'd left my Garmin in the car.  I had to choose between waiting for the bathroom and going back for it but really there was no choice to be made.  Bathroom it was! 

I'm not sure what time we eventually hit the trail, we usually head out between 7:05 and 7:10.  I know that I got back at 9:56 and that included a break at Meadowbrook Stables for some fresh ice water and another break to eat popsicles that someone had graciously supplied about 3 miles from the end.  We also had brief water breaks so I estimate about 2:45 worth of actual running time.  I feel like I should be able to do better than that, but given that I started out dehydrated and ran the last 2.5 miles or so all by myself since the group had broken up and it was the longest and hottest run yet I'm just glad that I finished.  And I felt pretty good at the end, a little tired and dizzy but my legs felt pretty good.  Today my legs are sore, which they've never been after any run, maybe a result of the dehydration yesterday?  Good thing today is a rest day!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sixth Track Workout - 6/16/10 - 6 miles? - 1:10?

According to the email we received we were scheduled for:
warmup around campus
4X800 with 400 recovery. 3 miles
Start with easy lap finish with an easy lap for additional .5 mile
cool down around campus Total Mileage 6.

Is that what we did?  With the exception of the warm-up and cool-down I really have no idea.  I'd left my Garmin at the office (luckily it was here when I got in this morning) and I stopped counting laps after the first five.  The explanation of the workout itself was confusing since most of us aren't all that familiar with track lingo.  I believe it was 2 laps at a pace 15 seconds faster than usual followed by a recovery lap of marathon pace (repeated four times). 

I ran with the group, with two other girls, with one other girl, on my own, then with the group again.  It was, as is the case these days, another hot sticky day so I just did what I felt I could do.  Probably didn't help that I'd been sick on Tuesday and  hasn't eaten more than a bowl of oatmeal and some crackers.  I finished my laps in between the 12 and 12:30 pace groups so I suppose I did the entire workout as prescribed.  According to my watch, which I couldn't quite figure out how to use properly, total time was around 1:10.

At one point coach Andy came up behind me and told me that I had a good run on Sunday, that I finished strong and looked good at the end.  He doesn't give compliments easily so that was a little bit of a boost and helped me get through the rest of the miserable workout last night.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sixth Trail Run - 6/13/10 - 11 miles 02:23:50

Change of pace today, running the Capital Crescent Trail.  As I drove down to Bethesda I was tired and grumpy but glad that I no longer had to suffer through that commute 5 days a week.  As usual I was early enough to get a good spot and enjoy a drink and a gel but I know this trail and I knew there would be no portapotty at the starting line.  I could only hope that there would be some along the way, I'd not been down farther than maybe a mile so I wasn't entirely sure.  I considered using the restroom at the Dunkin Donuts but since I had no money to buy anything I felt bad about it.

With the exception of the different scenery this run started pretty much like last week's.  Very hot, very sticky, but very strong.  Coach Carol took the lead and we were dead on pace for most of the run.  All of the groups were running a bit on the slow side just so we didn't kill ourselves in the heat, we all took breaks at the water fountains and restroom (apparently there are real, honest to goodness bathrooms but they were under constructions).  The run took us from Maryland down into DC and it's a beautiful and extraordinarily popular trail.  There were a few overpasses, one of which bounced terribly as we all stormed across it, and one which was some kind of old railroad bridge.  I should mention that I am deathly afraid of suspension bridges or any kind of bridge with stuff on the top of it.  I made it across but there was some hyperventilating and a few tears.  On the way back I just asked the guy next to me to tell me if I was going to run into anything and closed my eyes.

This time I made it to about 10.27 because I started dragging, just a little.  By this time I was hanging solely with Coach Carol who was in worse shape than I was and we slowed considerably.  I felt I had a little more left than I was giving but figured there was no point in killing myself getting there faster.  Within distance of the finishing point I turned on just a little speed to finish strong.  I fueled better this time, taking a gel at the turn-around but I probably could have used a second around mile 8. I hadn't realized, until I just looked at the Garmin map, that the first 4.4 miles were steadily downhill.  It flattened out for the next mile before we turned around and headed back up.  That makes me feel better about the second half of the run being slower than the first.  Another drippy double-digit run in the books.

Fifth Track Workout - 6/9/10 - 6.31 miles 01:16:36

The plan for this workout was alternating laps - one at LSD (long slow distance or marathon pace) and one 15 or so seconds faster.  After the customary speedy warm-up lap we met up with 12:30 pace leader Steve.  And Steve took OFF.  I know we tend to go a little fast but even I knew it was completely ridiculous as he flew past several other faster groups.  How does that make any sense?  Even on our faster laps he shouldn't have passed anyone.  I had to decide whether to bust my ass keeping up or say screw it and run the pace I was supposed to be running.  Had two of my good buddies not been there I probably would have tried to go with the group, instead we formed our own little actual 12:30 team.

We stuck with each other the entire time, one of the girls usually runs 14 minute miles so the 12:30 is a stretch for her but she's a trooper and kept with us as we cheered her own.  We kept the right pace, maybe a little faster, and it was the best track workout yet.  I didn't feel tired or discouraged, I felt strong and happy at the end.  Go team!  We learned from another runner that our leader had done the first few laps at 10:10, good thing we hung back because that's nuts.

In the parking lot Coach Angy caught up with me and asked me if I was going to quit on him, he said he'd overheard me telling someone "this sucks and I want to quit."  I'm sure I said that and asked him if he ever felt that way to which he replied "every day."  Well then.  We talked about my solo runs and he chastised me for going too fast on my own (only time that'll happen I'm sure), the next day the entire group got an email about slowing down.  Busted!  He said we'd never get in trouble for running too slow and confirmed what we'd been telling him which was that the 12:30 group had been running faster than 12:30s.  I felt much better hearing him admit it and knowing those of us who were struggling aren't nuts.  I left sweaty and wet (thanks to a brief drizzle) but most of all very happy.

Fifth Trail Run - 6/5/10 - 10 miles 02:04:35

First double-digit run, ever!  Being at the park at 7AM means being up around 5:30 to have time to grab breakfast and let it settle before the run, I'm lucky I make it to the park awake let alone with enough energy for a run.  I try to get there early enough to down a gel in the car, wash it down with some water and hit the portapotty before we set out.  Soon we're switching to 6:30AM runs when it'll be a little cooler, this was another morning where I wished we'd been out at 5AM, tired or not, because it was ridiculously hot and humid by 7.

Regardless of the crappy weather and complete lack of desire to be on the road I hit the trail strong.  None of my usual running buddies were there so I eavesdropped on other conversations to keep myself occupied.  Coach Carol picked me up around mile 4 or so and hung with me throughout the rest of the run.  I'm not much of a talker so she chatted the entire time while I smiled, nod, listened and learned about nutrition and meditation.  And it's a good thing she stuck with me, around mile 8.2 I started getting tired.  I had Nuun tablets in my water but had neglected to bring any extra calories (I thought I had an extra vanilla bean Gu in the car but I didn't) which I think was a mistake.  We'd been separated from the pack by now, not because we were especially slow but because we'd been caught at a few lights that the others made.  It was just Carol and I, around mile 9.35 I really started dragging.  My thighs hurt, which has never happened, and I was just beat.  I knew we were so close and we took a few walk breaks of 5-10 steps so we could finish relatively strong.  Even still our average pace was dead on target.

We hit the mile marker that signaled the end and a dear coworker greeted us with cups of orange juice.  Yay calories!  I immediately felt hot and dizzy, my vision was blurry and things were spinning.  I wandered to the car and sat in the air conditioning for a few minutes while chugging juice and water and I felt better pretty quickly.  I made a note to fuel better on the next run and patted myself on the back for running 10 freakin' miles.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fourth Track Workout - 6/2/10 - 6.23 miles 01:16:12

The pace for this workout was a little better (read: slower) than the previous week by about 20 seconds/mile.  Doesn't sound like a lot but on a hot evening when you're already tired from a long day at work I think it really makes a difference.

I still think I do the warm-ups too fast which does ruin some of my momentum but I had no problems keeping up with the group this time around.  Toward the end the "ass check" confirmed that this run was not as nice as Sunday's but much better than the previous Wednesday's. 

An uneventful but relatively enjoyable 6.23 miles down.  I still can't believe I'm at the point where 6 miles is no longer a long run!  Back in July I could barely make a minute straight, now I'm doing over an hour on a regular basis.  Rock on.

Fourth Trail Run - 5/30/10 - 9 miles 01:50:20

Whew!  Another hot one and humid day, we gathered around 7AM and we were drenched before we'd even started.  We headed north from this time and took what the Matthew Henson Trail.  It's interesting, it winds across some streets and through some neighborhoods before heading back into the park.  It appears to be a newer trail so it was in really good shape but unfortunately there wasn't as much tree cover as the other paths we've taken.  I was mighty glad to have covered myself in SPF50 to give myself some protection though I'm sure I could have used more of it.  I don't tend to burn but I'm still not a fan of the sun, given that I have some expensive investments to protect from the elements.

It's interesting how close things are if you can travel between them in a relatively straight line.  We started the run down near my in-laws' house and ended up out near where Bo and I lived in our condo.  It's a drive I've made a million times and I never realized that the two locations were really so close together.  It's always neat to pop out of the woods into civilization and say "Oh, I know where we are!"  Also helpful if you get separated from the group and need to find your way home or call for a ride to pick you up.

Despite the heat and gentle rolling hills I felt good during this one and finished with the front of our pack.  The coach turned and asked me how this run compared to the previous track workout that I hated so much and I replied "You bet your ass this is easier than Wednesday's run."  I am now known as the "you bet your ass girl" and every run he asks for an ass status.  Hey, whatever gets you noticed I guess.

Third Track Workout - 5/26/10 - 5.75 miles 01:08:13

This had to be the most miserable running experience I've ever had.  There was just nothing good about this workout.  I felt like our pace leader was moving way too fast, my Garmin agreed.  It was insanely hot, so far this summer has been much hotter and more humid than I remember it ever being in May, and I just couldn't keep up.  I always tend to run a little slower in the evenings but this was just a struggle the entire way through.  A friend and I gave up on trying to keep with the group, there was just no point.  We ran the first "warm-up" mile in 11:02, then we did an 11:30 and 11:38.  Wait, aren't we the 12:30 pace group?  My friend and I slowed down for the rest of the run, even with our slower miles we averaged under 12 minutes.

I truly questioned my ability to keep up with the group and the program after this workout, and my desire to do so.  I was hot, I was dizzy, I was miserable and demoralized.  We completed the run on our own, we did just as many miles as everyone else so there was really no reason to be down on ourselves but when you feel like you can't even keep up with your own slow pace it can be a bit depressing.  The worst part about it was that the pace leader insisted he was keeping the 12:30 pace the entire time, we were just having bad runs.  He didn't wear a Garmin but he did have a watch, assuming he was keeping track of total time you can do the math and calculate the pace yourself.  It's not like we were running on trails and roads (except for the warm-up and cool-down), we were on a track of a standard and known length.  It would be one thing if we were being pushed on purpose, but being misled is another. 

At the end of the run the group leader said to us "Don't feel bad about it, everybody has bad runs."  My friend said, "Hell no I don't feel bad, we did the same thing everybody else did."  I tried to keep that in mind as I drove back home because she was right.  We may have taken a little longer and bitched a little louder but we made it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Third Trail Run - 5/23/10 - 8 miles 01:31:47

Remember when you were a kid and running through puddles was awesome?  One way to ruin that childhood memory is to plod through 8 miles of puddles with your Sunday running group.

Actually it wasn't all that bad.  It was raining but we stayed relatively dry thanks to tree cover.  I tried to dodge puddles for the first mile or so but it wasn't long before I gave up on that effort.  Some of the puddles covered the entire trail, many were so deep they came up well over your shoes and socks.  There was often gravel and mud lurking at the bottom of those puddles which inevitably found its way into the bottom of my socks.  I don't mind being wet but I really hate having wet feet.  And wet glasses.

Other than being exceptionally damp my first ever 8 mile run was a success.  The trail, going north this time, was quite nice with the singular exception of a hill they call The Silencer.  I made it up without walking but it took a hell of a lot of energy.  At the bottom of the hill our pace leader had stopped us to tell us about the best way to run up a hill, nice info to have but I think it also ruined our momentum a bit.  This thing was brutal, my quads were screaming near the top but I refused to let it beat me.  After that it was all relatively downhill.  But boy was I glad to see the mile marker that was the finish line.  Once in my car I immediately took off my shoes, took out the insoles and stuffed them with newspaper in hopes of drying them out in less than a week.  I only got one minor blister but if I never see another puddle again it'll be too soon.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Second Track Workout - 5/19/10 - 5.39 miles 01:06:40

Since there was an event at the track we got to take a nice stroll along the Millennium Trail instead.    The word "trail" invokes images of, if not dirt and rock strewn paths, at least some sort of natural surrounding.  You don't get that on the Millennium Trail, it's really just a sidewalk on busy streets and even passes over 270.  It's a nice wide sidewalk but "trail" seems a bit ambitious, maybe it goes somewhere really awesome but we didn't find it.  We had a nice run though, pretty uneventful until we got back to the college campus.

I would like to think there was an uneven section of pavement but it's just as likely that I tripped over my own feet and sent myself on a nice little journey to the pavement.  My palms were a little scraped up but my right knee took the worst of it and I'm still sporting a nice souvenir from the trip:

Nice, huh?  As soon as I landed other members of the group started screaming "RUNNER DOWN" like I'd been hit by a sniper.  It wasn't a big deal, we were probably 5 miles into the 5.4 mile run so I gathered myself up and kept going.  The only advice of my coach was "if you do that during the marathon, get up faster."  Wise words indeed. 

Monday, June 7, 2010

Second Trail Run - 5/16/10 - 8 miles - 01:37:24

Our first 8 miler, we were supposed to head north on the trail but the decision was made to head south again for which, apparently, "we'd be thankful" when we discovered what north looked like.  So the route wasn't new or interesting other than that we tacked on another .5 miles on the way out.  It's still a really nice trail though, not dirt but asphalt through the woods.  We take walk breaks every once in a while to drink or refill water bottles, and sometimes stop for cars as we cross a road but for the most part we keep moving.  Our group seems to be on the move more than others who we occasionally pass while they're standing around for their water breaks.  I think the pace leaders just want to get it over with and get us back to the OJ and bananas as soon as possible.

First Track Workout - Wednesday 5/11/10 - 5.81 miles 01:09:11

Sundays are long, lovely runs in the park.  Wednesday evenings are miserable, repetitive runs around a local track.  I hate running after work to begin with, I always feel tired and heavy and sluggish and I'm consistently slower than in the mornings.  Wednesdays I bring a bag full of running gear to the office and change here, I don't have time to get out of work and get home to change before heading to the track.  It's a long, long day.

The program calls for speed work at the track and that's what I'd been most nervous about.  Then they sent the schedule showing that speed work wouldn't begin until July and I relaxed a bit.  Then I saw last year's speed work log showing that it really wasn't that speedy, 15-30 seconds faster than marathon pace, and relaxed even more.  Still I wasn't really sure what to expect from the first track session.

We started with a warm-up lap around the local community college campus.  "Warm-up" is kind of a misleading term since they took us as one big group.  I figure a warm-up lap should be nice and slow but it was on the speedy side for me.  I'm sure it was really slow for those in the 9 minute pace group, just right for those in the middle and way too fast for those in the last groups.  We finished 1.3 miles in 14 minutes, just under an 11 minute pace.  Doesn't sound too bad but when it's your first mile and you've got four more to go it can really have a negative impact on the rest of the run.  After the warm-up we ran in circles for 3 miles, I can think of few things more boring than running 12 laps around a track.  My friend and coworker was suffering some shin splints and dropped back so I made a few new friends in a dentist, a professor, one of our pace coaches who's run 19 marathons and a guy who had a heart valve replaced in September.  After we got nice and dizzy we did one cool-down lap around campus before calling it a night.  Apparently a lot of group members head to a local restaurant for cheap pizza and beer, I just can't imagine hanging out any longer after an already exhausting day.  Maybe one day.

First Trail Run - Sunday 5/9/10 - 7 miles - 01:22:42

Bright and early on Mother's Day I set out for our first group run.  The other First Time Marathon runners and I met in Rock Creek park at 7:30 on a Sunday morning, ready to go.  This was to be my first foray into 7 miles, the farthest I'd run prior to that day was my 10k race, and I'd only done that once!

They split us up into our predetermined pace groups based on our recent race times.  They want our marathon pace about 1:45 slower per mile than our 10k pace, since I ran the 10k at a 10:40 I'm in the 12:30 group.  The groups start at 9 minute miles and go up to 13, we seem to end up a motley crew at the back as people float amongst the 12-13 minute groups. I thought it would be a real struggle to stay that slow and our pace leader didn't make it any easier.  Since I have no internal sense of speed I rely on my Garmin, our pace leader had hers too but she had it set wrong so we ended up averaging just under 12 minute miles.  Certainly not fast but it's all you're going to get out of us back-of-the-packers! Thanks to the slow pace and the nice weather I had a great, energetic and cheerful run. 

The atmosphere was relatively relaxed, if you had trouble staying with your group you could always drop back (and if you were in the last group struggling one of the dozens of coaches would stay with you).  There are no iPods allowed, not only for safety reasons but to make sure that you're maintaining a conversation pace.  Unfortunately I'm pretty boring to begin with and run out of things to talk about after the first mile so I mostly end up eavesdropping on other conversations.  Group volunteers bring orange juice, water and bananas for some post-race recovery and enjoyment but when we finished that run all I could think about was getting to my in-laws' house for some awesome brunch!

Who I am and why I'm running a marathon

If you're here you probably know who I am but in case you just stumbled upon this blog let me introduce myself - I'll leave this post up here at the top for a while. They call me Rob, I'm a 30 year old (woman, yes) living in Maryland with my wonderful husband and two Great Danes.  In July 2009 I decided to take up running and began the Couch to 5k program, finishing up in September.  On October 4th I ran my first 5k, Page's Run in Potomac, MD.  I followed that with three more 5ks - the Home Run, the SOME Trot for Hunger on Thanksgiving Day, and the Candy Cane City 5k hosted by the MCRRC.  On April 25th I completed my first 10k, running down Rockville Pike in the Pike's Peek race.  I haven't clocked any fast times, heck I haven't even finished in the top half, but I've had a great time doing it.

I am clearly a beginning runner but in April I decided to tackle a big challenge - running the Marine Corps Marathon in DC on October 31, 2010.  Knowing I could never make it on my own, let alone safely and relatively injury free, I joined the MCRRC's First Time Marathon Program.  Since May 9th we've been running as a group on Sundays and Wednesdays, this blog will follow my journey through the training program.  Look for a post soon recapping what we've done so far.  I run at least one other day a week (working up to two) but that's usually not very interesting or noteworthy.

Running outside on hot, sticky, humid days is no fun.  But you know what I bet is even less fun?  Having cancer.  I may suffer through the miles but there are millions of people suffering every day, for that reason I have chosen to run for the American Institute for Cancer Research.  I have committed to raising at least $1000 for cancer education, support and research (so far I have $105!).  So follow me as I run for those we've lost and those we love.