Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It Sounded Like A Good Number

I got it into my head that I was going to run 30 miles last week. Now that the weather is cooling off I see everyone around the internetz talking about how they’re so happy to be hitting 40, 50, 60+ miles per week again. It’s giving me mileage envy y’all.

I’ve been hovering around 15-20 miles per week combined with 2-3 hours of spinning since the beginning of July. Last week I’d already hit 17 miles by Wednesday, so I thought I’d go for it. There was no particular reason other than:

30 = nice round number > what I’ve been running

Why not bump up my mileage by 30% in one week? By replacing some of the spinning with running, I justified that it wasn’t too drastic of a jump.

Here’s the breakdown from last week:

Sunday: 7.46 mi (60:00, 8:02/mi pace)
Monday: off (travel day back from NY)
Tuesday: AM: 1 hr spinning, 1 mi treadmill (@7.3, 1% incline)
               PM: 3.1 mi (24:52, 8:00/mi pace), core
Wednesday: 6 mi (49:47, 8:17/mi pace)
Thursday: off
Friday: 7 mi (56:36, 8:05/mi pace), core
Saturday: 6 mi w/ jogging stroller (51:11, 8:31)

Total: 30.6 miles, 1 hr spinning

Naptime commenced about 1/4mi into this run

It went well, but I'm definitely noticing some muscle imbalance from the spinning. My calves fatigue much quicker than my quads, and they carry a little extra soreness the next day. From here on out spinning has to be in addition to, not in place of, running.

In case you were wondering (I’m sure you weren’t), I’ve nixed any thoughts of an October half marathon. I snagged a free entry to the Atlanta Zooma Half Marathon on November 26th, so that will be my only fall half. If it’s free, it’s for me!

Rather than trying to run 2 half’s less than a month apart, I’d rather focus on making Zooma a quality effort. Besides, there are a bunch of fun 5 & 10K’s coming up next couple months I plan to run. Those entry fees add up fast, so my wallet doesn't mind skipping an extra half marathon either.

Is there a minimum weekly mileage goal that you set for yourself ? Do you have a race budget?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Great Cow Harbor 10K (Race Recap)

The weekend of the Great Cow Harbor Race is a big deal for our family. The universe knows this and tries to conspire against us every year. I swear.

Emily came down with a stomach virus on Monday, exorcist style, and we were feeling a bit off ourselves for a couple days. I also had a big last-minute project dumped on me at work, which had me taking home work late and coming in super early.

But try as it might, we weren't going to let it hold us down.

Mr. Blondie flew up early on Thursday with Emily to attend the volunteer meeting and equipment set-up. I followed behind, catching a flight early Friday morning. By Saturday morning we were feeling healthy, rested, and ready to run.

This year was extra special for Mr. Blondie since he got to design the t-shirts and posters for the race, something he’s always wanted to do.

In another unprecedented first, Mr. Blondie actually trained for the race! He started consistently running about 6 weeks in advance, with a fierce determination to break 1 hour this year.

With BIL and SIL
This race draws is big headliners. This year the elite field consisted of Deena Kastor, Mo Trafeh, and Kristin Nicolini-Lehmkuhle, and Jason Lehmkuhle, just to name a few.

There’s no chance of me winning any type of award here. The course is also notoriously difficult, so I knew it wouldn’t be a PR day for me either. I showed up at the starting line nice and relaxed. I figured I would treat this as a good workout.

I’ve been doing this race since 2003, with last year's time of 46:12 being my course best. Based on that, I seeded myself conservatively with an expected finish time of 48:00 so I wouldn’t start too fast. That placed me in starting corral number 5.

With the advent of chip timing, the wave start is really just for crowd control now. However, they still aren’t using a starting line mat, so it’s important to shoulder your way up to the front of your wave. The computer subtracts your corral's gun-time from your finishing chip time to get your net-time. It's also important to be in the front of the corral, since about 200 meters into the race you have to make a sharp 90 degree turn onto a narrow side-street.

Quick, without cheating, tell me were the BIG hill was on the course.

I started my Garmin a few seconds after the gun went off for our wave, and had a finish time of 43:03 on my watch. The official results say 43:14. My friend Jeff was in the same starting wave as me. He thought he broke 43:00, but his time shows up as 43:10 in the results. No idea what happened there. Oh well, the 11 second difference still leaves me with a long chase to catch Ms. Kastor  :P

I’m still happy with my time. Just take a look at those hills. If we lived in a perfect 6.2 world, this would have been a new PR for me. I should have seeded myself faster so I wasn’t bobbing and weaving around people so much, adding distance to my race.

In addition to our hometown friends, our Cali friends Elijah, Adelle, and Esther also traveled out to the island to join us for the event. They’re such a fun group.

The awards go deep at this race, with cash prizes going to the overall top 10 men and top 10 women. Six out of the top 10 female finishers were from the 30-34 age group. That meant ladies 7, 8, and 9 got the age group awards. I ended up being one person away from an age-group award. Holy Cow (Harbor)! I came close. It certainly motivates me to focus on training for the 10K distance leading up to next year’s race.

Mr. Blondie smashed his 1-hour goal by finishing in 56 and change. Elijah also made his goal of breaking an hour, finishing in 57 minutes. In spite of being deep in preparation for her nurse practitioner boards for the past few months, Adelle managed to finish in 1:07. Esther, running in her first race ever, finished in 51 minutes!

In an ironic twist, the winner of the women’s race was Janet Cherobon. She currently lives just outside of Atlanta, and wins all the big races around here. Coming off a win at the US 20K championships last weekend, the woman is on fire. Her time was 32:26, a new women’s course record.

Deena Kastor was second in 33:20, and Alisha Williams was third. Mo Trafeh also took home a new course record for the men (breaking Ryan Hall's 28:22), finishing 1st in 28:17.

Next year this little one will be ready for the fun run with her cousins. Gotta carry on the tradition!

Time: 43:14
Pace: 6:58
Overall: 258/4404
Gender: 42/1901
AG: 10/282

Sunday, September 11, 2011

New 5k PR (19:36*) & Race Recap

So, I finally broke 20 minutes which has been my 5K brass ring

My official time was 19:36*. It’s only fair I qualify this PR with an asterisk since the course aided me with an overall net elevation drop of 300 ft. It was also in the low 60's and dry. The whole thing was very un-Atlanta like.

The morning started off with Mr. Blondie and Emily waking up at o’dark thirty to serve as my entourage. We had a 45 minute drive to the start.

The race was capped at 1200 runners and sold out a week in advance, so they were prepared. Parking, registration, and most importantly the bathroom situation, were uncrowded and well managed.

Before the race I ran into Lee and her husband Jason. They ran the race last year and gave me a heads-up there were actually a few uphills in the second mile. I’m glad they gave me the warning, as I was under the impression the whole thing was basically a straight shot downhill. That would have been a nasty surprise had I not been forewarned.

Blog readers Ginnie and Donna also approached me to introduce themselves. It was nice to finally meet you!Talking to everyone helped put me at ease. I have a knack for working myself up into a ball of nerves before the start of a race.

Here are my Garmin splits. I would venture to say mile 1 was probably the fastest mile I've EVER run thanks to a huge starting downhill. It wasn't even that tiring. I was glad to have that time in the bank.

Mile 2 had some uphills, so that looks closer to my usual race pace. Knowing all the climbing was done for the last half mile gave me the mental boost to gun it the rest of the way to the finish. Check out that sweet downhill.

The post race party was held in a separate location away from the finish line. Instead of taking the shuttle there, I opted to run a couple extra miles to cool down before heading there on foot.

Mr.Blondie was already there waiting for me with Emily. I got a bag filled with a bunch of goodies and ate a couple crab fritters one of the vendors was handing out. Odd post race refreshment, but so yummy.

Since there weren’t many women who finished ahead of me, we waited around for the awards ceremony. I figured I got an age-group award. It turned out I was 7th female overall out of 514. Wouldn’t you know that out of the 6 ladies ahead of me, 5 were in the 30-34 age group? Just my luck :) How often does that happen?

So no award, but I still walked away elated about finally breaking 20 minutes. What I'm stoked about is this was a USATF certified course and a Peachtree Road Race qualifier. This time will get me a spot in the sub-seed start corral.

Posing with Ginny & Emily post-race

Don’t get me wrong, I still think the Peachtree Road Race sounds like a version of hell-on-earth (much like cramming into Times Square on New year’s Eve or being at Best Buy on Black Friday morning). Who wants to wake up early on the 4th of July, squeeze their way into the city on public transportation, and race a 10k on one of the most hot and humid days of the year?

Apparently 55,000 other people.

It’s an Atlanta Tradition and a big to-do around these parts. I’d like to run it at least once while we’re living here, just to say I experienced it. If I can start all the way up at the front, well heck, I might as well go for it this year.

My legs still felt good when we got home, so I went for another 5 miles around the ‘hood to make it 10 miles for the day. I’m still training as if I’m running a half marathon in October, but I haven’t committed to one yet. I should probably make that decision soon.

Is there something that doesn’t appeal to you, but you still want to try at least once to say you did it?

Chip Time: 19:36
Pace: 6:18/mi
Overall: 32/922
Gender: 7/514
AG: 6/117


One of the saddest days in American history.

Being from the NY metro area, it was an especially raw event. Fortunately, we did not lose any direct family members or friends on that day. We know lot of people who did lose a loved one.

Around this time 10 years ago, Mr. Blondie was driving into Manhattan to his graphic design. He saw smoke billowing on the horizon, but didn't know what it was yet. Soon he would learn the extreme magnitude of what was happening.

I was finishing up a college internship, and was sitting in a Philadelphia office building watching the events unfold on TV with my co-workers.

As a physician, my dad headed to Jersey City with a triage unit to assist with flow of victims they expected to treat. They stood there waiting. There were no survivors to transport there.

What were you doing that day?

So much had changed in the past 10 years, but the day is still crystal clear in our memories. We will never forget.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Superfeet = Dead legs

On the advice of my physical therapist I visited Big Peach Running Co. to pick up some Superfeet insoles last Saturday. The calf tightness has gotten much better, but it’s still a nagging issue. We figured it was worth a try to see if adding a little more support to my shoes would alleviate the strain on my calves.


Now I know you’re supposed to ease into wearing orthodics. I walked around in them all day Saturday, then did a light 1 mile run on Sunday. My plan was to do my warm-up for the race in them on Monday morning, then swap them out.

Well, I made a super dumb move. After the warmup, I went to remove the Superfeet.


I realized I forgot to bring the actual insoles that go with the shoe. (You use the Superfeet in place of the regular insole, not on top of it). I proceeded to run the race and then my extra miles…so a total of 15k with the brand new insoles. Way to ease into wearing them Blondie.

I was in a rush packing my gym bag on Wednesday morning and didn’t take the time to swap out the insoles. Again, I ran a couple miles on the treadmill to warm up for spin class. By this point my arches are pretty sore, and my knee and hip are feeling a bit cranky from the changes too.

So last night I decide I’m going to run a 2 mile warm-up (since I’m a glutton for punishment) then come home and switch out the insoles for my remaining 4 miles.

Holy cow, if there isn’t a tremendous difference in how much “spring” I have in my step after taking them out.

Looking at the pro race pictures from Monday, I see I’m landing on my heels in each shot. I’ve always been a forefoot striker, so obviously the Superfeet were greatly affecting my stride.

I had a follow-up appointment with my orthopedic doctor today who agreed. Let’s nix the Superfeet, they’re too much support.

I’m hoping this is the answer to the “dead-legs” feeling I had. We’ll see at tomorrow’s 5k.

Remember kids....don't try anything new on race day. This is proof the golden rule still applies ;)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Big Peach Drizzler

It was drizzling when I woke up yesterday morning, and it was forecasted to be like that most of the day, so Mr. Blondie got a reprieve. I decided to go to the race alone rather than drag everyone out of bed at 5am to stand outside in the rain.

I left the camera and phone in the car so I wouldn’t have to worry about them getting soggy. Sorry post is going to be short on pictures.

I don’t have much to say about this race. Just like the weather, the whole thing was just sort of bleh for me.

I knew I was in trouble when I came through the first mile in 7:04 and already felt exhausted. My splits got worse from there….7:08, 7:18, 7:22, 7:24, 7:05.

My final chip time was 45:12. That would be 1 second per mile slower than my ½ marathon pace back in June. Oy.

I felt like I was working really hard the entire race and my body wasn’t responding. I can’t pinpoint anything in particular that went wrong. Shrug.

It just wasn’t the race I was hoping to run.

Since the US 10K Classic was cancelled this year, it meant a huge increase in the size of this race. What I thought was a congested start last year was even more congested this year. Lots of bobbing. weaving, and even screeching to a full stop a few times. It took about a minute before I even crossed the starting line. Bummer they used gun time to determine placing for everyone. I would have finished quite a few spots higher since people with slower chip times are listed ahead of me.

Per IAAF and USATF rules that’s how it’s supposed to be done. However most races give the top 3 awards in that manner, but then use chip time for the rest. That’s how they did it last year.

OK, so maybe it was my fault for being a little distracted. I was busy chatting with Kristy (She still ran a PR! Woohoo!) You couldn’t even tell where the starting line was though. There was no crowd control, or any semblance of organization at the start.

All of a sudden we hear the gun go off, but nobody started moving. We're all looking around like "what the hell?" It felt like forever before we began to shuffle forward. Had I known I was so far back from the starting line, I would have been a little pushier about getting closer.

I digress…….

Anyway, Team Aquaphor member Griffen Ellington and I nabbed a picture together with the winner of the race afterwards.

If you thought running a race was easy, just look into our zombie eyes. Quick somebody toss us a protein drink!

It was a point-to-point race, and you had to find your own mode of transportation back to the start. I had originally planned on running part of the way back, then taking my time to walk the rest. I got a nice, heavy swag bag at the post-race party that I didn’t want to part with, so I had to re-think that plan.

With goodies in hand, I took a MARTA train back to the parking lot (which took almost an hour since you have to make a transfer and they were running on a holiday schedule), dropped my stuff off, then headed out for another 3.1 miles at 8:33/mi pace. We’ll call this my “long run” for the week. Even though I had a nice long break in between, it gave my muscles the chance to start tightening up, making the last few miles more challenging.

I did a lot of stretching and massaging when I got home. I’m not sore at all today. Good thing since I’ve got another 5k with Lee coming up in 4 days!

What do you think about gun vs. chip timing?

Net Time: 45:12
Pace: 7:16/mi
Gender: 22/514
AG: 5/94

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I'm Eintstein's Definition of Insanity

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein

I’ve been mulling over the 5k from a couple weeks ago, and thinking about my goals for upcoming races.....

I know how to put a proper training plan together. I know what type of workouts I should be doing. Yet I do the same stuff over and over. I throw together workouts on the fly depending on how I feel that day. I slack in areas like speedwork on the track because I hate doing it. My "long runs" have never really been long enough for the distances I race (por ejemplo).

However, I've gotten stuck in cycles of pushing too hard on a daily basis before. Then feel like crap at races because I’ve beaten myself up.

I’m not getting any younger though. I’ve been running for over 15 years. Can I really expect to see large gains at this point anyway?

Bringing you the 21 minute 5k since 1994

This week’s workouts:

Monday: 4 miles (outside, flat-course) in 31:14
Tuesday: off (travel day back from NJ)
Wednesday: 6.4 mi (outside, hilly course) w/ jogging stroller in 54:03
Thursday: PT (Trigger Point Needling and TENS treatment)
Friday: 6.0 mi run (outside, hilly course) in 47:49, core
Saturday: 1 mi TM (@7.0, 1% incline), 60 min spin class, 1 mi TM (@7.3, 1% incline), core
Sunday: 1 mi jog w. stroller, stretching

Tomorrow the family will be joining me for the Big Peach Sizzler 10K. This was a really fun race last year. Not sure if I’ll push Emily again or try to race it on my own. Since I’ve been consistently running for the past year, if I have a good day that should equate to like, a whole 5 second PR :/

Maybe I should hire a coach just for the accountability? I feel like I run hard, but don’t see improvements. Should I be happy I'm even maintaining at this point? I don't know what goals are reasonable to set for myself.

On a positive note, welcome September! What are your plans for the long weekend?