Sunday, August 29, 2010

Trail Run - 8/29/10 - 14 miles 03:05:53

There isn't much to say about this run, it was simple, easy, and awesome. 

We met at Lake Needwood this time, a relatively small group of runners since many in our program had chosen to run the Annapolis 10 mile race this morning.  I had little desire to get up early to run a race on a hot August morning so Lake Needwood it was.  The route was one I knew well, down to Ken-Gar and back, so even if no one else from my group made it I knew where I was going and had no worries about making the trip.

Turned out there were four of us that stuck together the entire run, the biggest 12:30 pace group we've had since... June?  It was definitely the best group run I've had in months, pretty sure I can say the same for the rest of the group too.  It was uneventful, we just hit the road together and ran.  We stopped for walking drink breaks every 2 miles, at a water fountain or two to fill up and at the bathroom at the mile 7 turn around. 

I knew the route and it's not a particularly easy one, it's a little hilly with two real monsters.  I decided on the way out that I was going to run those two hills if they killed me.  I did, and they didn't.  I charged up The Silencer and the hill back into Lake Needwood with no problems.  I guess they get easier each time you do them so I should probably subject myself to them more often.

So that's it, I guess there's not much to say about a good run!  I finished with Eugene right by my side, Ameenah right behind us and Hengameh not far behind her.  We cheered each other on, we high-fived, and we went home.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Track Workout - 8/25/10 6.4 miles 01:18

How's that for some speed work?  Last night's workout was AWESOME.  The weather was decent, about 75 degrees and not humid, which I think was a huge help.  I was also really trying to have a deliberately positive attitude, more often than not I think it's my mental defeatist state that makes these workouts suck so much.

As usual Ameenah and I ran together, she really has been my rock throughout this program and I don't know what I'd do without her.  Our 12:30 group has really fallen apart, which is pretty sad.  Some people have been AWOL for a while now, possibly having dropped out altogether.  Some of the 12:30s decided they can run faster, some slower, Ameenah and I are pretty much right around 12:30/12:45 on a good long run day.

We did the warm-up lap around campus, about 1.25 miles, a little slower than usual but probably because we went the opposite way this time which is a little hillier.  I was worried that would ruin my performance for the remainder of the workout but it turns out I had nothing to worry about.  The workout was to be 4X1600 at 40-60 seconds faster than LSD pace with a recovery lap in between.  We're not too good with figuring out what that means so we did four miles with a walking recovery lap (most groups jog, we tend to walk) in between each mile.  I think knowing we had those recoveries coming was a huge mental boost, we OWNED those miles.  During the 20 miler Coach Carol said a steady run/walk program got her through her fastest marathon ever, maybe there is something to that after all. 

Overall pace, including 3/4 mile walking, was 12:12.  Because of those recovery laps I don't have a real good idea of how fast we did the actual running but Ameenah was smart and kept track, we were around, if not a bit under 11 minutes per mile.  That's pretty speedy!  And we didn't feel awful, we felt a little tired at the end of each mile but overall really good.  I did the last .4 miles at a 10:46, that's really good for me especially at the end of a tough workout.  We absolutely felt like rock stars at the end.  We haven't had a group run that encouraging since the last sixteen miler a few weeks ago.  REALLY needed that boost!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Trail Run - 8/22/10 16 miles 03:53:51

I was both looking forward to and dreading this week's run.  The route was to be from Capital Crescent in Bethesda down to Union Station, we'd done it before though taking a shorter 12 mile route, and I knew it down to about Georgetown at which point I had no idea how to get to the metro.  Wouldn't be a big deal since we're traveling in packs but I knew coach Carol, who I can always count on to stick by me, wouldn't be there and I knew Hengameh was out of town.  I wasn't sure if Ameenah would be back since she was gone last weekend so I seriously doubted I'd have anyone to stay with that knew the way down there (I was right).  Despite that I was looking forward to a nice downhill 16 miles, I knew it would have to be a better run than last week (I was wrong). 

I left in the rain for CCT hoping that the rain would cool things off but it didn't, it was only 80 degrees but 90% humidity which is just really rough to run in .  I arrived shortly after Ameenah, I was SO GLAD to see her!  We chatted and fueled up before Andy gathered us all together, explained the route briefly and called for the coaches.  12 minute and 13 minute groups had coaches but there was no one for the 12:30s.  Andy attempted to give a group of six girls directions down to Georgetown, around Haines Point (whatever that is), across the mall and to Union Station.  It should be noted that Andy is pretty directionally challenged to begin with so I didn't have a good feeling about it.  Ameenah and I decided to just run together, she felt pretty confident that she could get us down there.

We made it to the first water fountain, about 3 miles in, right on our 12:30 pace.  Those miles really flew by, we were there before I knew it.  Another two miles and we were at the bathrooms at Fletcher's Boat House, no sweat.  We ran into the 12 minute and 11:40 pace groups there so we weren't too far behind.  Then Ameenah started dragging, like me the week before she'd been on vacation and hadn't run.  We started taking walk breaks, no way I was going to leave behind a struggling runner when we were each others only comfort.  She's stuck by me through rough days before, it really is a team sport and that support makes all the difference.

We made it down to 8 miles and by that point we'd completely lost track of the groups ahead of us and were pretty sure the group behind us had turned around.  Instead of risking getting lost running in circles in DC we decided to head back the way we'd come.  To this point I was feeling pretty good but Ameenah decided she'd run to the start of the trail and walk the last 7 or so back.  Once we hit the trail she insisted that I go ahead without her and as much as I hated to do it I took off.  Felt great for maybe the next 15 minutes, then it all just went to hell.

I never got into a rhythm, I tried to put myself on a scheduled run/walk system but failed.  I had spurts where I could run for 10 minutes without a break and times when all I had was three minutes to give.  I was hot and dizzy, despite being well hydrated and fueled, I'd drench myself with water from my bottle to keep myself going another few minutes.  Around mile 10 I got a weird pain in the back/side of my left knee, it happened around mile 18 last week too but hadn't happened since.  I don't know what it is, it's still sore and swollen today, it hurt like heck and made my calf cramp which didn't help.  I knew the last 4.5 miles would be uphill and that did nothing for my miserable mental state.  I did finish the last half mile running but it took me almost four hours including the water and bathroom breaks.  I saw the faster groups getting back off the metro on my ride out of Bethesda.

I'm still not sure what this weird leg pain is or what caused it.  The only common denominator between the two runs was my CW-X capris, maybe the compression around my left knee had something to do with it.  Last week I ran twice in one of my skirts, 7 and almost 6 miles, and had no pain (that 7 miler with Bo was awesome, tough, grassy, gravelly, hilly and we still averaged 11:46).  It's a little swollen today and gets stiff after sitting but hopefully it'll resolve itself soon.

So that was three tough long runs in a row, a little discouraging.  Though apparently I wasn't the only one, we did get a group email telling us not to get too disappointed and that the last three were really rough training runs.  We have plenty more before the marathon so I'm not giving up on them now! 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Trail Run - 8/15/10 20 miles 04:35:51

Well there it is, the big 2-0.  It doesn't get any bigger than that until marathon day.  We have two more 20 milers scheduled and I'll miss one since it's the Sunday of the Philly half marathon.  Oh darn.

I didn't have high hopes for this run (and I wasn't disappointed).  We'd been on vacation the week before and had only gotten in one 3 mile run which didn't go particularly well since we were extremely hot and not very well hydrated.  My right thigh was bothering me for most of the week though when we sprinted through the Houston airport Thursday night to make a flight that was delayed anyway I didn't notice any pain. 

We were doing what they call the Bethesda loop, starting at Capital Crescent and heading down to Georgetown before heading back up through the zoo and Beach Drive to the stables in Silver Spring then back to Bethesda.  The trip down to Georgetown was uneventful, I felt mentally tired but physically fine.  It helps that the trip out is all downhill for the first five miles.  (Bo ran out with us for the first 5ish before turning around making for his longest run ever, he rules.)  After a stop at Thompson's Boat House in Georgetown I just never really got back on track and after mile 12 or so I really started dragging.  At mile 12.3ish we were greeted by a member of the 11 minute pace group who, while rehabbing an injury, decided to support us by setting up a table with pretzels, jelly beans, ice, water and popsicles.  That was AWESOME.  We stopped for quite a few minutes to munch and recoup before continuing.

Every step from mile 10 on was steadily, slowly, up hill.  Some steep hills but mostly just a gradual climb to the end.  And it started pouring rain around mile 14 or so and while I don't mind getting wet I really hate having water in my shoes.  The little blisters and hot spots were made much worse by the sloshing and I really started struggling with about 5 miles left.  My chest hurt (nothing serious, just some costochondritis flares) making it tough to get a deep breath so I kept having to stop just to breathe in.  We stopped at the stables for another break and I got a bit of a second wind but it didn't last too long.  I wanted to make the last two miles a steady run but it didn't happen, I did have some energy left but the chest pain was just too much to struggle through consistently.  I took three walk breaks during the last two miles but finished feeling okay.  My Garmin read 20.06 miles but a lot of other people said they showed 20.76 for the same route (including the mile 18 "shortcut" up some of the most ridiculous hills I have ever seen). 

The group leaders said this is the toughest run in the program, tougher than the marathon even.  I didn't have a good run but all things considered an average pace of 12:51 for 20 some miles isn't too shabby.  I feel okay today, a little sore but not as bad as I would have thought (though sore enough to have ordered The Stick from runningwarehouse).  I guess if I can do this I really can finish this marathon.  I just wish it would hurry up and get here, I can't believe it's still two months away!

Trail Run - 8/7/10 18.13 miles 04:07:41

This was a tough, tough run.  Running 18 miles is no joke to begin with but doing it all on your own (in silence because you forgot your iPod) borders on insanity. 

I wasn't sure where to go for a 9 mile out-and-back route so I went down to Ken-Gar since I'm familiar with that.  The initial plan was to go north for a bit before turning around and finishing up on the south side.  North is a much tougher, hillier route and I didn't think I wanted to do 9 in that direction but once I started going I decided it was a nice change of scenery (we do south A LOT) and just kept trucking.  I was pretty much waddling from the beginning, doing 13 minute miles even though I felt like I was going faster.  No need to stress or speed, I wasn't out there to kill myself just to get the miles in.  7 miles north I hit Lake Needwood which is perilously close to my house, almost close enough to call Bo and say "hey, come get me."  But instead I trudged up one nasty hill to the parking lot, took a break at the portapotty and headed back south.

Around mile 10 I started hurting, my right thigh was tight and sore and the top of my left foot was achy in all kinds of new and exciting ways.  I ignored it the best and two miles later I hit The Silencer.  And I owned it.  I may have waddled, or trudged, or crawled but I sure didn't walk those .14 miles or sheer hell.  I kept running until I hit the little park on the other side and stopped for water.  I had to decide then whether to keep heading south, running past the car, or to wander another trail north for a few miles to get in the extra four I needed.  Since I was hurting and struggling so much I decided, perhaps unwisely, to hit the Henson trail north.  I figured if I got to the car I'd probably get in it and maybe I should have stopped anyway but darn it I was finishing these miles!

So north again.  More hills.  More pain.  Bo called around mile 14.75 and asked if I wanted him to come pick me up.  Tempting, but no thanks, I can make it from here.  It's only a little over three miles, right?  So on I went, taking some walk breaks.  When I got back to the little park I realised I'd overshot and it would be more like 18.5 miles when I got back to the car.  Oops.

At 16.88 miles I was waiting for a light with a guy on a bike.  He asked how far I was going and I told him, he said "Man, that's nuts.  I'm supposed to do 10 tomorrow but 18 is just crazy, that's a long, long way."  I agreed and dragged my sorry butt across the street, each wishing each other good luck. 

I stopped at 18.13 miles and walked another .35 or so back to the car, I just had nothing left at that point.  With the exception of my calves everything hurt by that point, even my arms were sore and I had a bruise on my hip from one of my water bottles.  I barely had enough energy for 10 minutes of stretching before I got back in the car.  I wasn't really mentally or physically prepared for that run but I made it.  Running alone is tough, all you've got is your own pain and misery and no one to share it with or to encourage you.  I didn't feel quite as accomplished as after the 16 miler but I'm proud that I did it on my own.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Track Workout - 8/4/10 5.29 miles 01:05

And... there's August.  It was HOT last night, hotter than any of our previous runs and you know how much I complained about them!  Heat index of at least 100 degrees, today there's a heat warning so running would have been cancelled.  One of the guys who's been doing this for over 10 years said it was by far the hottest he'd run in with the group.

Very few people showed up last night, likely because of the heat.  It wasn't until a little after 6:30 that anyone near my pace arrived, I was worried that I'd have to bring up the rear all by myself.  But coach Carol arrived and saved the day, she's been the one coach who will always stick by me no matter how hard a time I'm having.  She's been on vacation for a few weeks so I was really glad to see her again!

The workout changed from something like 4x1600s to 6x800s to "whatever" due to the weather.  I did the warm-up around campus then 5 of the 6 sets before I headed home.  I really wanted to get home a little early, ice down, and get more of my cleaning done before vacation on Sunday.  I did get home and ice but that was about it.  I was also given an early birthday present of customized chocolate (my favorite is the sea salt, pop rocks and vegetarian bacon Bo made) which totally made my night.

We did our 800s under a 12 minute pace, took it easy on the recovery laps and stopped to drench ourselves with the hose once or twice.  I was starting to feel a little unusually sore by the last lap, since I'm running the long run on Saturday this week I wanted to save a little more energy so I ditched the last .75 miles.  I don't feel too bad about it, I kicked some pretty good butt for the 5.29 miles I was out there anyway. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Trail Run - 8/1/10 - 16 miles 3:30ish

What a HUGE difference 15 degrees make!  Sunday morning was cool (relatively, it was 67 when I got to the parking lot) though still a little humid.  Maybe I'm giving the weather a little too much credit but this run was awesome.

We had no coach, neither did the 12:30 group, but we all knew where we were going and luckily someone had marked the way in chalk when it became confusing. We started out as a little group of four intending to do a 13 minute pace.   After the first mile or so we became two groups of two with Ameenah and I taking off a bit faster.  We didn't really mean to but we just both felt too damn good to slow down.  Not that we were speed demons but we kept a good pace around 12:15-12:30.  We passed the 12:30 group at a water stop when they waited for one of their runners to use the portapotty and it was quite a while before they caught up.  We stopped around mile four for a Gu and a water refill, then at the stables at mile six for a brief walk and at the turn around to gingerly tip-toe down a steep curved hill with live traffic and around mile 10 to shake gravel out of my shoe..  We were happy, energetic, and feeling strong.  I kept saying "I shouldn't feel this good at mile 8, this doesn't make any sense!"

Of course it didn't last the entire run and the last six miles we slowed a little.  I stopped more than I needed to so I could wait for Ameenah who wanted to talk more walk breaks.  I would run ahead and wait at a stop sign or water fountain, then we would run together until she felt like walking, I would run ahead and wait.  Eventually she told me to just go and I finished the last 3 miles or so on my own, walking only across an intersection and up one small hill because I was getting a blister on the bottom of my foot and it was bugging me.  I passed the 12:30 groups while they were waiting at the bathroom again, they caught up to me about .5 miles from the end and we all finished together.  When we came into view of the parking lot one of my running buddy coworkers came over and ran the last bit with me, I thought she was nuts for wanting to take another step after 16 miles.  But then I sat and waited with her and when our other coworker came in, about 25-30 minutes after I did, we both got up and ran the last bit with her too (and I discovered it felt pretty good, got rid of some of the stiffness from sitting).  I never felt bad, my legs were a little tired but I was never mentally exhausted and cranky.  I certainly didn't feel, physically, that I'd just gone 16 miles.  I lost about .75 miles when I must have stopped my Garmin (which I don't actually remember doing) but some fancy math shows total running time of about 3:30.

Definitely the most encouraging run I've had in... forever.  Nothing went wrong, the weather cooperated, I ate and drank well and felt healthy.  I hope the rest of the training goes as smoothly.