Sunday, May 24, 2015

Jog into Spring 5K Recap

I realize this recap is coming pretty late, but I've been prioritizing other areas of life right now. We're closing on our house in less than two weeks (you have no idea how excited I am for this!), and I think once Michael and I are in a place that feels like "ours," rather than his with my stuff scattered everywhere in boxes, I'll have a much greater sense of normalcy and can get into a routine. (Plus I'll be able to sleep whenever I want for however long I want!)

Anyway, even though this is several weeks late, I would be remiss not recapping this race since (spoiler alert) I set a new 5K PR there! My purpose is signing up for this race was to actually race a short distance and evaluate where my fitness stands after some extended base-building through the spring. I'll be the first to admit my training was nowhere perfect, what with job-hunting and my move, but I did my best to stick with it and was hoping to run somewhere in the neighborhood of my PR, even if I didn't beat it.

The race was only about 15 minutes from my apartment and didn't start until 9 AM, so I left a little before 8 to give my time to pick up my packet and do a warm-up. I've hesitated doing a warm-up for short races for a long time, since I felt like that was only for "fast" runners, but I've come to realize that is totally silly, since a warm-up will help pretty much anyone run relatively faster.

Packet pick-up only took a minute or two, then I grabbed my phone from my car and put on one of my favorite 8Tracks playlists ("Epic Motivation") for a mile warm-up. The race started at the Independence Civic Center, which is next to a few baseball diamonds and a fishing pond; surrounding this area was a sidewalk almost perfectly .25 miles around. I did four laps, picking up the pace on the second and fourth lap. That pace was still far slower than what my PR pace would be, so I hoped adrenaline would carry me through the actual race.

I finished my warm-up with about five minutes until the gun, and they actually sent us on our way a minute or two early. I haven't raced a 5K in probably about a year, so I paid careful attention to my pace the whole way to keep myself from blowing up.

Initially, I panicked when I saw my pace was around 8:45 min/mile. I'm slow - I had no business running that fast! (When I ran my previous PR, I had no idea that I would PR and only saw how fast I was going about halfway through, so I didn't psych myself out.) I was tempted to pull up right away, but I took a step back to evaluate how I actually felt - it was obviously hard, but I wasn't dying.

I asked myself if I felt exactly the same but my watch read 9:30 min/miles, would I slow down? The answer was a very strong no, so I knew I was simply getting in my own head. I was determined to hold that pace. I think everyone was regaining their sea legs for racing season, so whenever I tried to tuck in with someone, their pace would vary dramatically. Because I'm not used to running an 8:45 pace, this made it a lot harder for me to stay on track, since my body couldn't "feel" that pace independently.

My main mistake in that first mile was chasing down people I thought were running my desired pace. I didn't really taper for this race, and my legs kept screaming when I did this. I eventually gave up that strategy, but I think it did some damage.

Mile two was definitely a mental struggle, and I ran it 15 seconds slower. I thought maybe I was close to blowing up, so I made my goal to run under a 9 min/mile, to avoid a total mental meltdown. I think this mile contained a slight uphill that really took a toll, but when it ended with a long, slight downhill, I was able to catch my breath and recommit myself to the final mile.

I tried to do some race math and realized a PR was still doable, I just had to give it my all in mile three. I focused on landmarks and catching other runners around me in turn to distract myself in that final stretch. The course was a loop, and I had seen the mile three marker on the way out, so I knew from quite a distance when it was coming up. This helped give me a tangible goal to work toward. I used my usual trick of promising myself I wouldn't have to sprint the last .1 if I didn't want to, and just plowed ahead to the marker.

Around 2.75 miles it really hit me how short a 5K is compared to a marathon. (Who knew, right?!) Even though I was in a ton of pain and out of breath, I couldn't believe I was almost done! In fact, I was even more almost done than I thought, as the course ended up being .05 short.

Time: 27:14*

(This is adjusted from 3.05 miles to 3.1 miles. I used my average pace for the race, even though my pace for the last .05 was faster than that. This estimate seems conservative enough that I feel totally comfortable using this number as my PR.)

Not me...simply just a picture of the finish line.
I mentioned this before, but I had to adjust my last 5K PR for a short course as well. It was a huge bummer to get a sub-27 time on my watch again, only for the real time to be over that. I know it's much better to have an accurate PR, otherwise I'm just lying to myself and will get frustrated when I don't beat it, but it is a bit of buzzkill. But don't get me wrong - I was thrilled to PR!

I've been using Hal Higdon's Multiple Marathons plans since Myrtle Beach, and not even following them perfectly, and I still PRed by 26 seconds! Even though I know Higdon's methods work, I always feel like a less serious runner for using them, plus it is so weird to run an easy pace and just trust that the speed will magically show up on race day. I plan to use Hal Higdon to train for Chickamauga in the fall, and this was just the reminder I needed to trust the training. (Again - who knew?!)

After walking it off a bit, I went into the pavilion where packet pick-up had been to grab some post-race food. They had pizza, and I enjoyed it at a picnic table outside. I stuck around for an extra hour or so because they were having a huge raffle, though I sadly didn't win anything.

However, first came the post-race awards. I'm used to marathons, where the ceremony happens way before I finish, so it took me awhile to figure out why they were waiting to start (because of the walkers). It felt very strange. I didn't place, but I was still really excited when I looked up the results.

I placed 6/9, however - I finished eight minutes ahead of the woman in 7th place. This isn't a put-down to the women who finished after me at all, but it was so weird to look at the results and see a significant dividing line between "fast" and "slow"...and I was on the fast side! In my head I'm always the really slow runner, and it's bizarre when I see something that definitively shows that's not the case.

Now the question is - can I have similar success this Saturday at the New Moon Half?

Monday, May 11, 2015

Weekly Training Recap: 5/3 - 5/9

I'm going to start out this training recap with some exciting house news - we are under contract on a home! Our close date right now is the beginning of June, but our lender thinks we could close much sooner. However, buying a house is a huge time-sucking vortex. We are lucky to be moving very quickly, but there still seems to be 30-60 minutes of house "stuff" to do every night, which gets very tiring.

I'm trying to stay positive, because we both love the home we're under contract for, but I will be glad when the buying process is over. It sounds so petty, but having my workout and evening schedules messed up makes me cranky! But it will be totally worth it when we're in our own place. 

My week got rearranged a bit, but I stuck with last week's plan of prioritizing, and I'm pretty happy with what I accomplished. It certainly wasn't perfect, but I'm becoming more and more okay with that.

Sunday, May 3
9 mi easy, 11:14 min/mile

I was still in the winter running mindset, where heading out mid-day in the full sun is glorious. However, when it's 80 degrees and you don't take water with you, it is actually pretty terrible. I could tell I was getting very dehydrated and that my body wasn't cooling itself effectively, so I cut it short. (After drinking 36 oz of fluids, I was still down two pounds, so it was the smart decision!)

Monday, May 4
PM - 3.7 mi hills, 10:47 min/mile
PM - NROLFW Stage 1A-2

I did four sets of last week's hill workout, instead of three. I managed to do two of them at my "updated" MP (based on last week's 5K), but I had to dial it back for the second two. They were killer, so I'm still happy with the effort I put in.

Tuesday, May 5
AM - 1000 yd swim
PM - 6 mi easy, 11:11 min/mile

I set out at a bit faster pace, but when my breathing started getting a little harder, I backed off, and enjoyed the run a lot more. I think all the preceding days of hot running and had really taken their toll.

Wednesday, May 6

My intention was to lift in the morning and run after work, but I was so tired when I woke up that I opted to go back to sleep. It's a good thing I did, because we had our home inspection after work and it took three hours. We didn't get home until after 10 PM, and I was wiped!

Thursday, May 7
AM - NROLFW Stage 1B-2
PM - 4 mi easy, 11:19 min/mile

I had a little trouble dragging myself out of bed in the morning, but I felt much better after a good session at the gym. Once again, I incorporated a warm-up and noticed the difference. Since I was in house mode, I threw on HGTV and watched a couple whine about their $1MM. Guys, there just was no room for their grand piano!

Friday, May 8
1 mi WU, 4 mi @ 9:55, 1 mi CD

I waited until after dark to run because it was so hot and humid, and I still felt like death towards the end of the run. The pace was harder than I wanted it to be, but I stayed around the apartment (because it is well-lit and right by the police station), so it was a hilly course too. I'm already over summer!

Saturday, May 9
11 mi long, 10:40 min/mile

Michael and I went in to see our parents for Mother's Day this weekend, so I ran on my parents' treadmill while they were at their bowling league (and Michael went to see his parents). The goal was 16 miles, but the treadmill turned out to be wildly inaccurate, so 5.3 MPH was reading as 10:30 min/miles on my watch (which also matched my perceived effort). The plan was only to run 11:28 min/miles, so I was okay throwing in the towel a bit early. But hey - it was a new treadmill PR!

Shout-out to the LotR marathon on TNT for getting me through!

Run Miles: 39.7 mi
Swim Miles: .6 mi
Lifting Time: 39:38
Total Time: 8:20

All in all, I am happy with the week. I missed one swim (the least important type of workout) and cut out 8 miles of running as I acclimated to the heat. (Though I really wish I had found .4 more...oh, well.) While I want to have some good preparation going into Missoula, I have to remind myself it's still really about building a base for Chickamauga training.

One of the last major pending house items is getting radon mitigation installed, which can take several hours, so I might have to switch up some workouts again. (The seller's are paying for it, but we're allowed to be present and to choose the spot.)

I'm also having a mother/daughter weekend with my mom this coming weekend. I had been planning a 20 mile long run, but I think I will flip flop it with my 12 mile long run the following week. I would like to be well-recovered for my half the week after that (are you still following?!), so I will cut out an easy day if my legs need it.

How do you acclimate to the heat?
What is your treadmill PR?

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Weekly Training Recap: 4/26 - 5/2

After taking a complete week off following the Blue Ridge Marathon, this week I got back into the swing of training. I'm so glad I listened to my body (for once) because I was excited about getting in my workouts again, rather than dreading them. My legs were a little more tired than normal, but nothing horrible to complain about.

This week was also exciting because we toured some homes! Knock on wood, but we're now working with our realtor to put in an offer on one we love. Our realtor said to not expect to take possession until mid-June, but our mortgage broker said if we go through a credit union, we could close in two weeks.

Luck would have it that the home we like is move-in ready, so I'm hoping with all my might things go well, and we will have our home sooner than later! I know I might have to miss a workout or two to make it happen, but I'm prepared to do that. This is way more important!

Sunday, April 26

I enjoyed my last day off from training by going for a walk. It was an absolutely gorgeous sunny day. I think I still needed a jacket, but the dose of vitamin D was amazing.

Monday, April 27
PM - 2.9 mi hills, 11:01 min/mile
PM - NROLFW Stage 1-A

After work I headed to the gym to do some hills and weights. I tried a new hill workout, where I did sets of:

90 sec MP @ 6%
1 min recovery
1 min MP @ 7%
2 min recovery

It really kicked my butt, but I think it was a great workout to get me into shape. The effort level is supposedly the same as my 5K race pace, but it didn't beat up my body nearly the same as normal intervals do for me! I did three sets, and I plan to add more as I go.

Tuesday, April 28
AM - 900 yd swim
PM - 6 mi easy, 11 min/mile

My legs felt awesome for the first two miles, but then dead for the last four. This is normally how I feel when I start running after a marathon, so while it sucks, I know to expect it. I also figured out how to run to the nearby metro park via sidewalks!

Wednesday, April 29
AM - NROLFW Stage 1-B
PM - 3 mi easy

I stuck to my guns and actually did a 10 minute spinning warm-up before I lifted. It made a huge difference in how I felt, and I wish I had done it sooner! I was also pleased to see when I spun on a normal bike, I could keep up a decent pace.

Thursday, April 30
PM - 800 yd swim

This swim was 8x100 at a tempo pace. I worked really hard and got each 100 under 2 minutes, except for the last one (which I missed by less than second!). I'm not making excuses, but I felt really blah after I got through six of them, so I think I need more calories before a tougher swim.

Friday, May 1

It was a beautiful day out, but Michael and I spent the evening at the theater to see the new Avengers movie. We treated ourselves to a popcorn dinner, and the movie was a lot of fun. Obviously disappointed that the Tom Hiddleston cameo was a lie, but you can't win them all.

Saturday, May 2
Jog into Spring 5k, 27:14

Yes, for anyone keeping score at home, that is a 5K PR! (My chip time was 26:44, but the course was .05 short, so I adjusted my time based on my average pace. I actually had to do that with my last 5K PR too....)

I hadn't raced a 5K in a long, long time, and I was really nervous in the couple days leading up to the race. I always get this irrational fear that I will forget how to run (I know, right?!), and I worry about blowing up. I won't spoil the full recap, but I'm obviously thrilled with how I did! It was a great way to kick off my Saturday.

Run Miles: 16 mi
Swim Miles: 1 mi
Lifting Time: 42:02
Total Time: 4:13

This week looks a little low in terms of mileage because I moved the long run to Sunday. Next week will be a lot higher because it will actually have two long runs. I want to stay conservative and try to run a 4:30 at Missoula, but I think I'm going to adjust my training paces to be a bit faster based on my 5K time. I tend to race below my potential anyway, so it should work out well. Our half is about a month away, so that will be a good checkpoint on where my fitness is.

I've also prioritized the workouts I will keep if house stuff gets crazy - swims will be dropped first, then lifting, then running. However, they said drafting the offer will take an hour on the phone, so I'm hoping I can just schedule everything perfectly!

Anything exciting happen to you this week?
How do you prioritize workouts?

Friday, May 1, 2015

Fitness Trends

As I've mentioned on the blog, I've recently moved to Cleveland. I haven't mentioned a lot about my new job (other than it's still accounting-related), but it is in the healthcare industry. This is a big change from my previous job in the manufacturing sector, and there's been a lot of new things to learn. I've been trying to educate myself a bit on my own time, and I came across a post about Fitness Trends of 2015 by the Bankers Healthcare Group blog. 

BHG provides solutions and financing for physician loans, including physical therapist loans, which help empower caregivers. My employer offers a lot of different incentives and programs to help us maximize our wellness, and the BHG blog has a lot of informative posts that remind me of that! I thought I would give me own take on fitness trends.

I've always wanted to be a runner. I have encountered lots of other people that want to be runners: "That's so cool you can do that, I wish I could!" is a common refrain I've heard. (And one I've said myself many times!)

But while I have distinct memories of watching other people run, and run well at that, and wishing I could emulate them - probably dating back to middle school -, I can't pinpoint a reason why I fixated so strongly on running. The closest thing I could come up with was track was a no-cut sport (thereby making it relatively accessible), but swimming was as well, and I had no interest of joining, despite my parents' urgings.

It seems a little "out there" to suggest, but I truly believe humans have some innate connection to running. It's what we evolved to do, and I think that creates a draw to the sport, even if we can't explain why. In fact, when I was trying to jog my memory about why I personally wanted to become a runner, I tried a few Google searches, and I was shocked how many top results were articles about learning to run despite hating it. I think it's safe to say people generally avoid things they hate, so there must be something deeper drawing them to running.

Before I took up running, my only real exposure to fitness (other than hearing about classmates playing high school sports) was group exercise classes offered at MSU. These ended up being a great way to develop some fitness, which made the transition to running smoother. The classes were also very low-key - though still a great work-out! My first race was a 5K at a very small event around Labor Day, which only re-enforced the idea that fitness was fun and relaxing.

However, some time after I ran four miles for the first time (which I still rank up there as one of my hardest runs to date), I saw a real future for myself in running and wanted to learn more. I read every Runners World I could get my hands on and went on research binges online, trying to absorb everything I could about my new sport. While there was a ton of variety out there, I was glad to see many fundamental remained the same across the board. And, as before, the tone of everything I read was very welcoming and helpful. I don't think I realized there was anything different - yet.

I think the turning point for me was when I was flipping around TV channels one summer and happened upon the Crossfit Games. Maybe it was because basketball season was so long ago and football season was so far away, but I got totally sucked into watching. Michael was equally engrossed, and I think even my parents eventually ended up on the couch with us. I think I had heard the Crossfit name before, I didn't know much more, so I read a little about it.

I was shocked by what I found. While there are plenty of anecdotes of welcoming boxes, there were plenty of images online about pushing yourself to the breaking point - and then continuing. After inundating myself with running articles that urged listening to and honoring your body, I was honestly pretty stunned by this new side of fitness I had uncovered. (And I don't mean to throw Crossfit under the bus completely - I'm sure many other fitness trends have similar rhetoric - this was just the first one I stumbled across.)
I'd saying calling it a day if you fall over crying is perfectly legitimate.
Even though I have been running for a few years now, I am still learning how to listen to my body's signals. (As well as how to make myself appropriately respond to them, but that's a different story!) Any new trend that values completion over health seems irresponsible and dangerous. When I tried the Hanson's Marathon Method, I suffered from overtraining from weeks, even though I expected it might happen, just because I had never felt that way before. I can't imagine how much longer I would've been a zombie if I had been drilled to push through the feeling no matter how awful it got.

Lacing up my running shoes is such a simple act, but it signals that I'm about to do something good for both my body and mind. When you get away from that basic principle, it is too easy to lose sight of that and break. I know I'll never come anywhere close to competing to be "the fittest woman," but being the happiest runner sounds even better.
Do you have fitness trends that you love or hate?
How did you get into running?

Full disclosure: As always, all opinions are my own. I did not receive any compensation for this post.