Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tempo runs make me a headcase

If I had to choose my least favorite type of run, for sure it would be tempo runs.  I assume most of those who are actually reading this blog know what a tempo run is, but for the uninformed, basically it is a run where you are running at your "threshold pace" (10-20 seconds slower than your race-pace 10K pace, or 25-30 seconds slower than your race-pace 5K pace) for 20-30 minutes.  Words that are used by others to describe tempo runs: steady effort, comfortably hard, challenging yet managable... and my own word: HARD.   Here is a nice calculator for running paces.  For me, my tempo pace WAS around 8:25-8:30/mile, until my recent 5K... now it is sub-8:20!  For whatever reason, this is a hard pace for me to hit for continuous miles.  I think part of it is that I am by nature a negative-split runner.  I prefer to start slow and gradually increase my speed.  With a tempo run, I get a mile to warm-up, and then BAM, I am supposed to be running at a speed that is pretty uncomfortable for me, at least that early on, and for more than just a mile or two.  I can do 4-mile tempo runs (which are actually just 2 miles at tempo), but more than that just scares me!

I know I am overthinking things.  I get it, I do... but that doesn't make it any easier to do the tempo runs.  Today's run was a 5 mile tempo run, where the first mile was a warm-up, and then 3 miles at tempo pace before a 1 mile cool-down.  The plan I am using actually called for a quarter-mile "recovery jog" between each mile at tempo pace, but for me, once I am at that pace, it doesn't help me to slow down... quite the opposite, I have a lot of trouble getting back up to speed again.  So I skipped on the jogging and just did the 3 miles straight. 

Here were my splits: 

I knew from the start that today wasn't going to be my day when it came to running.  I rolled out of bed and just wasn't feeling it at all.  Once I finally got out the door, it was drizzling outside... no big deal, really.  I took the first mile relatively easy.  It always feels weird to me, the first half-mile or so of a run... like I don't really know how to run.  Anyway, the kinks got worked out, but I just felt tired.  Not sleepy; more like, my body was tired.  I knew it was going to be so hard to hit an 8:30 pace on mile #2.  Actually, when I looked at the graph of my run, I was fairly close to hitting around 8:30ish on mile 2 for the final half- to three-fourths of that mile.  It was the first quarter or so that I was just too slow.  Mile #3 was a bit better, and of course mile #4 was the best because I knew I was almost done!  Still not anywhere close to my "new" tempo pace, though.  This is how I felt after my run:

I have a huge tongue LOL!

As I ran, I told myself it was okay that I wasn't hitting my tempo pace today, that it was more about the effort.  I have read that exact thing--that tempo should be more about the effort than the precise numbers.  I just have trouble letting the numbers go (as a math teacher, that's not surprising!). 

One other annoying thing: my left foot fell asleep today at around mile #3.  I hate when it does that!  I had been doing some intense masssage on the trigger points in my feet, as recommended to me by a PT who has a FB page where he gives out advice to runners.  That actually seemed to do the trick, but I stopped, and I need to get back to doing it.  I took a nice ice bath after today's run, and foam rolled as well.  Feeling okay today, leg-wise.  Just TIRED!  Grateful for another rest day tomorrow. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Ready to run again

So I haven't ran in almost 60 hours.  Sad that I am counting it down LOL!  With this being an odd week after having a long run last Friday and a race on Sunday, I am finally getting to run again tomorrow morning.  My legs have been ever so grateful for the break, though.  I have read that when you race, you should take one easy day for every mile that you have raced.  I am going to count Sunday as an easy day, since I raced so early, so today would be day 3.  Guess my time is up!  Tomorrow is a 5 mile run, with the middle 3 at tempo pace.  Ouch!  Tempo runs are the hardest for me, but I know that they are the ones that help with races (especially a half marathon) the most.

As for today, I ended up having a very busy personally, and didn't get to cross-train during my twins' nap as planned.  I was still able to fit in two short core workout videos as well as my "Madonna's arms" workout.  Both core videos (Hungry Runner and Ab exercises for runners) were created specifically for runners, and I did 2 sets of 20 reps for all of the exercises that were shown.  It only took me about 15 minutes or so to do the core workouts, and 10 for the arms workout.  It wasn't as much as I wanted to do today, but heck, at least I got it in!

Monday, July 29, 2013

My new BFF

I should retitle this post "My new non-human BFF", as I still love my BFF Elizabeth.  However, I have a new non-human BFF that I love even more than chocolate.  It is my foam roller.  

Such a thing of beauty! 

I would gladly wear white and exchange rings with this thing; that is how much I adore it.  It is the only thing that works when I am as sore as I am right now.  It tops ibuprofen by a landslide.  I think the only thing that would be better would be an actual deep-tissue massage, but seeing as how we bought a new-to-us mini-van today, that is not in the budget nor will it be for quite some time... therefore Mr. Black will have to do when my legs are screaming at me.

Which brings me to the question of why.  Why exactly am I so sore after I race?  I can see it after a half-marathon, but seriously, a 5K?  I don't get why my legs hurt so badly.  I have a new area of pain after yesterday's race that has joined my calves: my butt. Yes, my butt.  Really, it's my upper right hamstring, but it does extend into my gluteus maximus, and it hurts when I sit.  I have figured out a great way to roll it, though, and wow does it ever feel amazing terrific orgasmic.  I am totally not exaggerating here.  I rolled three or four times total today (I've lost track), and each time I was able to walk without pain afterwards.  The pain eventually came back, but another rolling session helped alleve it each time. 

Anyway, back to the why.  I have only one hypothesis.  I think I am pushing myself too hard during my races.  Or, at least, harder than I trained myself to go.  Not that I am going to stop pushing myself hard during races, not by any extreme, but I don't know why else my muscles would respond in this way.  Unless this is typical... but I haven't heard other runners expressing the same discomfort after measily 5K's.  

Today's rest day ended with a nice long hot soak in the tub, and of course some more rolling.  Tomorrow I am planning on working my arms heavily, and my core a bit.  Still going to baby my legs, as I have a tempo run scheduled for Wednesday morning at 6 AM that is already scaring me.  Hopefully one more day off will do the trick.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Race Recap: Ohio State Fair 5K

Race day!!!  Today's weather forecast was 100% dead-on... a perfect morning for a 5K race (or any race, for that matter).  The temperature at the start was below 60 degrees, as was the dew point, and the humidity was just around 90%.  All in all, an amazing July morning; you couldn't ask for better weather. 

I woke up just after 6:00 AM, as planned.  After my breakfast of a banana, getting dressed, and some quick Facebook surfing, I was on the road by 6:45 AM.  Honestly, I was bored and just wanted to get going!  I figured I would arrive too early, and I did, as I pulled into the parking lot shortly after 7 AM.  With a race start of 8 AM, I had no reason to be there that early, but I definitely would rather be early than late!  Everything was super-easy as far as getting there, getting into the fairgrounds and parking.  There were a few other early-birds there as well.  

 Me all set to race... in about 45 minutes LOL!

I hung out in my car for as long as I could (about 10 minutes), then walked to an out-of-the-way parking lot where I did some dynamic stretching and ran a mile (about 8 parking-lot-circles LOL!) to warm-up.  By that time, it was around 7:30, so I ate my Sports Beans and then wandered over to the starting area, where more and more people were arriving and going through their warm-up routines.  The race looked about as crowded as I expected.  Around 250 runners two years ago and around 180 runners last year... this year's official count was 246. 

At 7:50 AM, they called the kids over for the fun run.  Joey, my 8-year-old, was signed up for this, but since I didn't have anyone to watch him during my own race, I didn't bring him along.  Next year, I definitely want to bring all four of my children and let them do the fun run (my hubby can take care of them while I race).  It was so cute watching the little ones run through the finishers' chute (100 meter dash for 4-and-under, 200 meter dash for 5-and-up) and get their medals! 

The kids' races finished pretty quickly, and we were called to the starting line right around 8:00 AM.  I was surprised that we were starting in a parking lot adjacent to the timing system, not right under the start/finish chute like usual.  The race director announced that it was a chip-timed race, but that the start would be hand-timed.  This made absolutely no sense to me (more about it later).  I started my Garmin right after the horn went off, and I was about 5-10 feet from the starting "line" (a piece of tape on the ground).  

The race start was fast.  Really fast!  As I said, I started the race pretty close to the front; maybe 20-30 people were in front of or next to me.  The people around me took off like rockets!  I glanced at my watch after about two-tenths of a mile and saw we were going in the low-7:00 range and I just about freaked out.  I felt like I was working way too hard, and knew that I needed to settle into my own race or I would be paying for it.  So I let people fly by me (very hard for me to do!) and got into my own rhythm.  I was still definitely running faster than I'd planned for the first mile.  I had thought I would go around a 7:50 at best, and I clocked in at 7:43.  

The race went by pretty quickly.  I absolutely loved running down the midway where all of the rides were, as well as by Smokey the Bear, where my mom would take my siblings and my photos when we were kids.  The fair was an annual family outing for all of my childhood, and it was neat to revisit those memories.  

Good ol' Smokey!

The most difficult part of the race for me is always around the 2-mile mark (I hate thinking that I have an entire mile to go still, and I'm already tired from the effort of the first 2 miles).  I started to have trouble controlling my breathing at around 1.6 miles.  My second mile was a 7:58, and I had no clue how I would ever keep my pace under 8:00 for the final mile.  However, it was cool hearing the announcer over the PA system at the fair that the top finishers were coming in (this was at around 17-18 minutes), and that did motivate me a bit.  There was a very small hill (the only one on the entire course!) at around 2.9 miles, and that was NOT fun... even though it was only a slight elevation, I was totally ready to just STOP by then. I had been running next to a man for about a mile and we both looked at each other and groaned when we saw it (and I might have let a little curse word slip...).   

When I finally saw the finisher's chute, I was so relieved!  I picked up my pace the best that I could and ran in, seeing my time and feeling pretty darn happy about it!

PR by almost a full minute from July 4th!!!  And look at my pace for the final 0.1 miles...
if only I could hold that for an entire 5K!

I didn't cry because I was too tired LOL... but based on the goals that I posted yesterday, I should have!  I never expected to PR by a full minute.  I just hoped I would break 25 minutes, to be honest.  I had a huge grin on my face after the race.  Before I headed home, I spent about 15 minutes cheering on the finishers who came in after me, which was fun.  Here were my Garmin splits:

I was happy to be under 8:00 for all three miles!

So, the official results have been posted on the race website.  My official race time was 24:26.  I know that is what the clock said as I passed through the chute, but I also know I did not pass over the start line right as the horn sounded.  How on earth do they know when I started if there was no timing mat?!!  I talked to some running friends, and apparently this is what they do when they don't have a starting mat... so basically, everyone's time starts when the horn sounds, regardless of how far you are back from the starting line.  Thank goodness I stuck close to the front at the start!

Anyway, this was the one and only negative part of the race, but since I did PR by 55 seconds, I will let those 4 seconds go.  My overall place was 41st out of the 246 runners.  I was the 11th fastest female (out of 136) and got 6th in my division (30-39 year olds).  I checked and if I had ran this race last year, I would have been 2nd in the 30-39 year olds!  So there was definitely more competition this year.  Next year, I WILL place!  I just want an age group award :)  The best part of the race (other than the PR of course) was the yummy post-race food, including CANDY...!

Mmm... Hershey's Kisses & Twizzlers...

My legs felt fine during the race, but they are tired now.  My right hamstring hurt really badly all day today, but foam rolling it tonight definitely helped.  I plan on using tomorrow as either a rest day or a cross-training day--maybe getting on the bike.  My mother-in-law gave me a beautiful "cruising bike" that I am dying to try on the trails around Westerville.  I know that my legs will welcome the day off from running, that's for sure!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

"Racing is the fun part..."

According to Kara Goucher, that is.  "Racing is the fun part; it's the reward of all of the hard work."  So I suppose it's time for my reward, then?  5K race at the Ohio State Fair tomorrow morning.  Legs are feeling so-so.  Tired still from 10 miles yesterday, but that is to be expected.  Continuing to ice and wear my compression socks; foam rolling again in a few.  There is a big fitness festival this weekend with a 5K and 10K race being held tomorrow morning, so I am thinking that the 5K race that I am doing won't be as popular.  Last year, there were less than 200 people, which will make it by far the smallest race I have ever done.  Granted, it's only my 5th-ever race, but still.  I anticipate finishing in the top 40 or so runners, based on the times for the past couple of years.  It will be neat to be close to the front!  See, I am trying to stay positive.  

I just did a few short cross training workouts (the 10-minute arms video from earlier in the week, and a 7-minute plank workout as well).  Since I did a total rest day on Thursday, I needed to fit in something today.  My arms are a bit sore, but I am sure they'll be fine for tomorrow.  The race starts at 8 AM, so I am planning on leaving here at around 6:45 AM to give me time to get to the stadium, find parking, and warm-up a bit.  It's going to be chilly (sub-60 again), but no rain is predicted, thankfully.  I am likely going to wear my capris with my pink shirt and my "RUN" Bondiband.  I was actually debating on running without my phone (meaning no music)... haven't ever done that during a race, though, so probably not.  I think I stated my goals aready... maybe not, so here they are:
"I will cry from happiness" = sub 24:30
"I will be extremely happy" = sub 25:00 
"I will be happy" = sub 25:21 (PR)

OK... I will update tomorrow after the race!  This will be my last 5K for awhile... I probably won't do another one until next year, unless something comes up that I really want to do.  My race plan for the rest of the year is:

8/25--quarter marathon
sometime in September--5 mile virtual race
10/5--half marathon
sometime in early/mid December--4-miler

Busy busy :)

Friday, July 26, 2013

And the winner is...

...the race!  (Didn't want to make you wait the entire post to hear what I'd decided LOL)

So I am planning on running in the 5K race on Sunday, unless I wake up Sunday morning in pain or something.  I did my weekend long run this morning--up at 5:15 AM to run 10 miles.  The advice of my FB running friends was to take it as easy as I could, so that is what I attempted to do.  Overall, I have to say that I did pretty well!  The morning was just gorgeous.  Temp was only 52 (crazy-low for July in Ohio!), and while the humidity was still ever-present, the dewpoint was low, and it felt amazing out there.  The sun came up about 45-50 minutes into my run, so I made sure I stuck to the well-lit streets in my city as it was pretty dark out this morning.  I actually missed a turn on my planned route and had to ad-lib a bit, but it worked out in the end.  I was surprised by how few runners I actually passed (only 3), but it was a weekday, so perhaps that was the reason.

I was obviously not going to win any speed records for this run... in fact, the first mile was probably one of my slowest-ever miles.  However, the goal was to expend as little effort as possible.  As you can see, my ability to negative split continues to show up in my runs.  I made sure I ran relaxed, and honestly, when I finished the final mile, I was not even out of breath (I almost always finish my runs hard, so this is rare for me).  

 Thumbs up for my awesome BondiBand!

In fact, I feel that I would have been fine to run another 10 miles, and I am not exaggerating.  Now that it's been several hours, my legs are complaining just like they usually do, but after the run itself, things felt good.  I am anxious to see how I feel in the morning, and as the day goes on tomorrow. 

I had thought about doing some cross-training today (it is my normal day for cross-training), but I am just not feeling it.  I think I am just tired (sleepy) from my early wake-up calls for the past 3 days.  Hoping to sleep in a bit tomorrow morning!