Legs feeling good -- too good?

The first couple days of this week were lower mileage, a sort of recovery half-week. The good news is that my legs have responded well (good sign that I haven't been over-training).

I'm a little concerned that they're feeling too good. Today's 15 miler felt effortless, and I was clicking off the miles at a 7:29 average. Weird. I emailed my college coach to ask him... when you have days/weeks like this where you're feeling good (because it's a recovery week & you're supposed to), is it best to still stick to the plan and your normal paces? Or just go by feel? Today's 7:29 felt a lot easier than last week's 13 miler at 7:45.

The other question I asked him was: maybe my medium long run paces should be closer to 7:30 now (used to be 7:45) because I'm a little faster and have faster goals?

If anyone knows the answer, please comment :)

Like I said, I'm a little concerned that I might be too fit too soon. Guess there's no way to really tell if I'm running well now & will continue to improve & run well into late May (May 22nd, to be exact) -- I don't remember a time when I've been too fit/fast too early and then have died later in the training cycle... so I don't know why I'm a little worried... just had that thought/feeling today during the run.

On another note, I chaffed REALLY bad today on the run. Wow. It was warm, 70ish degrees, and I know I'm heavier than ideal now -- both lead to chaffing of the thighs. At my turn-around point in my run today I stopped and hiked up my shorts as high as I could. Somehow I felt like that would help. Then I decided to see if I could tuck the part that was rubbing up into the rest of the shorts. Negative. So, just going to have to deal with it. I was running a little weird on the way back, legs hitting a little farther apart than normal :) I told myself that this was good practice for the marathon, in case I chaffed bad during the race or had some other type of pain (blister, side-ache, etc). Good to have to run uncomfortably everyonce in a while, I guess.
Reminder to self: on warm, longer runs, wear spandex!! Or bring body glide!

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29:25 8K!!!!

Wow -- wouldn't have guessed I could run sub 29:30, at all!

I made a bet with Nate the night before: 15 minutes massage if I ran sub 30:00. His personal best is a 30:04, and my personal best before today was a 30:34. So, 29:59 seemed like a reasonable goal.

My legs didn't feel springy during the warm up -- the last week wasn't exactly a recovery week (on purpose). I let myself ease up a little bit (only 4 miles the day before), just so I could see where I was at. Wednesday this week was a track workout, Friday a 3 mile threshold, and then Sunday a race. Considering all of that and how my legs felt during the warmup, my goal was still 30:00.

Gun goes off. First mile, 6:00. That's one of my greatest strengths: having a goal and running to meet it: I'm a patient racer, know how to pace consistently, and am a really good negative-splitter. But, the downside to that is if you're capable of doing faster, you never really get there if you're racing consistently and patiently like I do. Lucky for me, one of my Run N Fun teammates was near me & picked it up the 2nd mile. I decided to go with her. SOO thankful for that push! Otherwise, like I said, I would have run my 30:00. 5:50 second mile. She dropped back during the 3rd mile, but I kept up the charge. My lungs felt strong! 5:51 3rd mile. I was catching women pretty quickly, which is a lot of fun. The last 2 miles hurt a little bit -- not the lungs (how did they get so strong??), but my legs felt like they'd collapse -- like they weren't contracting quite right. Why is that? I've felt that before.

Last two miles were in 6:00 and 5:41. Oops on that 4th mile. But, I still pulled off a 29:25 8K! Yeah!!! It isn't often that I'm completely satisfied with a race, and proud of how I've done. This is one of those rare occasions :) I was the 6th woman overall, behind some very fast metro runners. Just 1 second behind Erin Ward, who I consider to be very fast (has made it to the trials at least once, if not twice?) If I can keep myself healthy & injury free, this race shows that I could go on to race pretty fast this spring! Now, just need to work on that healthy & injury free thing!

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Better than last week!

Wow, what a difference a week makes! I went to the track yesterday to do another set of mile repeats. Per the suggestion of my coach, I was to up my reps to 4 (vs. 3 last week).

I was dreading the workout because of how last week went. But it actually went really well! My legs felt more rested and stronger, and I felt like I could actually run "hard" (vs. feeling like I couldn't move last week). Great feeling to have the lungs burn!

Reps were done in 5:38 to 5:40. Lask week I was going by my watch, which is about 5 seconds short of the mile on the track. So to compare apples to apples, last week's full mile would have been in 5:43-5:47. So, much faster! Yeah!!

I'm super excited to race on Sunday. Hoping for sub 30 for the 8K - is that too quick of a goal (PR is currently 30:29)?? :) Maybe, considering the mileage I'll put in before Sunday (15 today) -- but at least going to try!

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Day in/Day out

I'd forgotten how much time and mental energy is involved with training for something!

My weekends feel so much shorter now that I'm putting in a medium long run in on Friday night (13 or so) and a long run (19-20) on Sunday. That eats up so much time! It's also really time consuming to plan my day/week around my training plan. Friday, for example: work until 2, then quick run (quick is relative for 13 miles :), then hop over to Finn Sisu to tie up some loose ends, then groceries, then etc... if you're not careful, you can easily "not find time" for a workout.

I'm also tired much more often. Like, seriously tired. This weekend I slept 11 hours one night, and my brain was still in that "I-hurt-because-I'm-tired" mode when I went out for a run. I hate that. Wish I didn't require so much sleep. I could be so much more productive during those hours!!!

But, day after day, I'm trying to fit everything in & think I've been successful so far. Now -- to fit in 50-60 miles between now and Saturday, and hopefully not entirely kill the legs before Sunday. I'm racing the Human Race 8K and would LOVE to set a new PR there (currently 30:29). But, I also know putting in another good quality high mileage week is more important, so I'll try to balance both.

Hasta luego!

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Maybe I'm not cut out for this

Today's workout: the track. Ug.

Of all the workouts I do, I dread these workouts the most. Good thing it was gorgeous out & my husband & dog were set to join me -- gives me no excuse to back out.

Off we go to the track. 5 mile WU (trying to hit 11 on the day, and I know after a track workout I'm lazy and just want to head home... hence doing a really long warm up). Then 3x1 mile. Nate times me (kudos to him for all the help/support he gives!) & does the last lap with me on each one.

First one: 5:42. And it feels awful. I feel inefficient and the pace feels awkward. I also can't kick it up into another gear. Nothing like a first VO2 max workout to let you know that you should really be doing these more often!

2nd mile 5:38. During this one, I really wanted to throw in the towel. This isn't fun. I have my entire family out on the track on this BEAUTIFUL evening -- when we could be doing something much cooler (don't know what that would be, but I'm sure we could find something). And plus, this is just HARD! Sometimes I don't know if all of this effort is even worth it... I don't know if I have what it takes. Honestly. I'm really not that fast.

3rd mile in 5:40, which I didn't want to start, but Nathan made me. Then onto an 800. Last repeat. Kinda fun, just having to do two laps. Except I look at my watch when I'm done: 2:49?!? That's the same pace I did the miles in! (laughing :) Oh gee, guess I need to work on my speed a little bit.

So, glad I did it... but gosh... makes me wonder if I'm really cut out for this.

My first race is in a week and a half - the human race 8k in st. paul. So, I really need to work on that speed!!

P.S. In all actuality, from the dog's perspective, we could not have done anything more fun than this track workout. The Red Wing track is always open (so nice!) & fortunately completely fenced in. So she was free to RUN and sprint after tennis balls, chase me as I ran around the track, etc. She had a huge smile on her face the entire time, tounge hanging out as far as it could, panting as hard as she could :).

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Day off!

After Sunday's long/hard marathon pace run, my quads were pretty beat up. I had run for 10 days in a row & my legs were telling me that. Haven't been that sore in a while!

Usually when I'm beat up like that, I recover pretty quickly -- usually just a day or so of rest or an easy day will get me back & ready. Good thing Monday was a recovery day. I couldn't find time during the day to run, so I was going to do a 10 mile easy run in the evening (vs. a 6 in the AM and a 4 in the PM). I know, I know... not the best compromise, but hey... the best I could do.

I stopped after 9. Wanted to stop sooner, but was too far away from the house :) My quads had not loosened up, so what's the point of doing another mile? That night I was still hobbling around a little bit, and the quads were still tender to the touch.

That's when you know it's time for a day off. :) When you've pushed yourself beyond where you can recover quickly. Nice to have a flexible training plan -- to train when I can, to take a day off when I need.

And on a side note, it feels like you have so much TIME when you have a day off! Nate and I completely cleaned the office, had time for a real dinner, moved some furniture around, etc. Marvelous!! I could get used to this!! :)

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Good Week!

Capped off a good week today. 73 miles total.

Today's workout was an 18 miler, with the last 8 miles at marathon pace. Uff, these are always the TOUGHEST workouts (physically and mentally) to do. Especially doing them alone, so I whined a little bit (too outwardly) as I was going out the door, and as a result, guilted Nate into helping with it.

I start off and do 9 miles, calling it a "warm up". Nate meets me at the high school for the faster stuff. In the interest of not running ridiculous hills, I'm going to do 4+ loops around a 1.4 mile loop around the high school. It's as flat as you'll find in Red Wing.

As I start the first mile, I'm thinking to myself: wow, I'm not going to be able to do all 8 miles. My quads are so sore from the previous week that they feel like marathon legs (where they don't contract quite right). That clears up a bit after about 2 miles, but my legs still don't have any snap :(. Workouts like this are so much easier when you're feeling good & snappy!

Good thing I have Nate there to keep me going. Seriously. I couldn't do this alone. Poor guy, though -- I should really find a training partner that's my speed. He does about 1/2 the loop with me, and then jogs back to meet me near the start. Him waiting for me not only breaks up the workout, but it keeps me from stopping (seriously, on a 50+ minute hard workout, you have plenty of time to think of reasons you should stop)

Anyway, I plug away, and finished the workout. Yeah!! And not only finished it, but finished it strong! 6:31 mile pace average. I'm pretty pumped about that -- last year I did these in 6:50 pace. I thought because this was my first MP workout that I'd be near 6:35 or 6:40.

So, great way to end the week. Now -- need to look ahead to next week! Just under 10 weeks to go!

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A little achy

This is sad. I've done 40 miles in the last 4 days, and my body is pretty achy! My quads are tight, i'm feeling a little twinge in my back, and the ball of my foot hurts a little.

The sad part is that I feel like that after averaging just 10 miles a day. JUST 10 miles a day, some of you are saying? That should be something I handle well, so that's the sad part. I guess I'm just getting used to the mileage. Even though I put in 3-4 70 mile weeks during the winter, I never pushed to the point where I was sore, achy, etc -- and ran through it. Plus, I've added in a few more "hard" miles now.

Gives me a good excuse to ask for a massage from my husband!

And, on another topic: Even though I like being coached by my husband, it's really hard to hear him say I need to change things. I told him I needed him to work on me (he knows how to crack my back/joints properly), he said that I probably need to start lifting more -- which will help with my back/hips (they tend to get out of place easily). I actually like lifting, but I have a hard time making time for it. I told him that and he said, well... you did find time for a 12 miler, right? Yeah, yeah. Guess that's right. If I can find time for a 1 1/2 hour run, I can find 10 minutes to lift and stretch.

He goes on further to say that this cycle I should focus on the little things more often. That to get to that next level I'm going to need to watch all of these. He's right, even though I don't want to hear that. I've gotten faster over the last year by fine-tuning my training plan to best suit me, but there's only so far I can go based on just doing workouts alone. Yes, I'll probably get a little faster with another good cycle under me -- but to get MUCH faster, I'm going to have to schedule in time for lifting, stretching, and take time to watch what I'm eating.

Okay, Okay. I'm heading out for a 12 miler now (yeah 1/2 days on Fridays!), and I intend to lift a little and stretch either afterwards or later tonight when Nate is home. I'm writing this here so you all can hold me accountable :).

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Did it

Motivating yourself to start a workout, especially a hard one, when it's chilly and rainy is really, really tough. Especially when you're tired, and napping sounds like SO much more fun.

But, I got out there. In part, because of the Jen Houck article I posted yesterday :). I know she's out there hitting the roads every day, following a plan -- and she has a whole heck of a lot more talent than I do - and that motivates me to get my butt out the door and try to work just as hard, if not harder.

Today's workout: 10 miles, with 5 at tempo pace (6:15-6:20). My legs were a little dead at first, but the workout actually went great. My lungs actually feel pretty strong, which surprised me because I feel like I haven't done nearly enough hard stuff, having just done a lot of base miles this winter. Total time for the 5 miles was 31:45. I think my best 8k is around 30:30 or so, and I'm hoping to be closer to 30:00 later this month at the Human Race 8k. With that in mind, is 31:45 a decent workout time? I'm not sure, but I'll go ahead and chalk this up as an early sign of good fitness anyway.

Miles were: (2nd half more uphill)
6.07
6.16
6.11
6.23
6.48

So glad I got myself out the door :) So lesson to all: For all of you that'll struggle to get out the door this week because it's damp, dreary, and chilly -- remember what motivates you: an upcoming race, a goal PR, etc -- and don't let yourself take the easy way out :)!! You rarely regret the runs you do; you almost always regret the runs you skip.

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Nice Interview

This is a really nice interview of Jen Houck:

http://runningminnesota.blogspot.com/

Unbelievable how talented she is!

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10 weeks away?!

Fargo marathon is less than 10 weeks away. That's a little scary.

Especially since this week is supposed to be my first big week. And, of course, I'm coming down with a cold. Argh. I'm still healthy enough to do base mileage, but sick enough where I know I'd have to work pretty hard to hit my times for marathon pace or threshold work. I don't need many more base miles -- I really, really need to start on the faster miles.

Oh well, guess it'll have to wait another 1/2 week or so. :(

In other news, Nate and I did one last ski race this weekend. My brother, who has skied a grand total of 2 times (ever) went with and decided he was going to try to do the race. There was a family rate, so there wasn't an additional cost to sign up. So, we did a quick 20 minute "learn how to ski" lesson, and then brought him to the start line. He can sort of move on skis, but is always close to falling and doesn't know how to move up hills, slow down on downhills, or turn...
It started at the base of a hill. The gun goes off and he gets about 1/2 way up -- and then the starting officials give him a hand -- by helping PUSH him up the hill! :) I still laugh at the mental image of this happening!! He was able to get up the hill and to the first turn by the time Nate had done the entire first loop -- Nate covering 4k in the time my brother covered about .5k :).

My brother didn't end up finishing. I think he could have if the race was entirely on the man made loop, but it went off onto the other trails which were icy and much narrower. He didn't think it was safe to try, and I agree. Oh well. Maybe next year :)

I didn't do well. Sigh. I actually fell HARD once, just narrowly missing a wooden post. Argh, why can't my feet move fast enough when I want them to? I was really lucky not to have crashed into it -- my only casualties were an over-extended thumb (still puffy and doesn't move well 2 days later), couple bruises, and a scratch under my nose. Lucky.

I realized during the race that my problem is that I don't know how to move FAST on skis. There's no difference between a 50k pace and a 10k pace for me. I looked back to a race in 2007 to compare individuals I'm skiing around. I finished 45 seconds behind Bob Woodruff at the Elk River race (20k) in December of 2007. March of 2010 I finished 25 seconds behind him (10k). Either he's improving at the exact same rate as I am, or I'm not improving at ALL. Really, 3 years of ski racing, and no improvement??

Good thing it's time to hang up the skis for a season. :( Now, to get healthy so I can start pounding out some hard miles!!!

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The BIRKIE

I woke up the morning of the Birkie and my head didn't work right. It's not only because it's 5:30, but also because I haven't slept this week. Monday night I was on a plane, so got a total of 4.5 hours of sleep (1.5 on the plane, a 3 hour nap later). The rest of the week topped out at 6.5/night.

Nothing worse than trying to race through thick brain fog. I throw myself into the car and drive off to the start of the race. I find that we're WAY early to Telmark! Wa-hoo!! I head inside IMMEDIATELY and lay claim to a 5 foot piece of floor and fell into a deep sleep. I wake up with a random guy literally standing over me (one leg to my right, one to my left). WEIRD. But, I'm really rested, so I don't care! Amazing how a 30 minute nap will help! But... then I realize that I have to haul butt down to the start. Hmmm. Last year I told myself I was going to get to the start line early. Oh well.

As I did last year, I am scrambling to get to the line. When I finally do, I have about 2 minutes until the gun goes off. Wow. The wave takes off, and as I'm at the back of the wave, it's pretty slow going. I have fast skis, though (thank you Devin!!). I actually cheered outloud down the first downhill when I zoomed past a guy who had at least 150 pounds on me (when does that happen? :) -- he was not happy with my outward display :).

Up the first hill, I realize that my legs are still really tired. Oh NO. They never take this long to recover from a big running week! I had given them this week pretty easy. At 7k my eyes widened at the thought of another 43. Oh, boy, this is going to be a really long race. Another thing NOT to do next year -- a big mileage week the week before the Birkie.

So, instead of being able to fly up the hills and not worrying about how much my legs were going to hurt (that's usually my strength -- I only felt a slight burn on the last few hills last year) -- I'm now worrying about conserving energy.

There was nothing else very magical about this Birkie -- I kept plodding along, watching the K's click past.

I finished 101st. Not bad, I guess. But not great. I'm actually a little disappointed in myself. I really wanted to improve over last year. I've since looked at last year's training log, and realized that I probably don't deserve to move up all that much -- total rollerski and ski hours for the year were only at 70. That's really sad. I'll be at 400 (or a little over) hours for the year, so only 70 of them skiing isn't good at all.

But, even with that ridiculously low amount of time, I feel like I am a better skier than last year. I had no problem with the downhills this year, watching other skiers around me & not crashing into them, etc -- something I struggled with last year. I think I glide a little better and V1 better, but who knows...

Guess that's what keeps you hungry, excited about next season :)

And now the RUNNING SEASON STARTS!

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