Me + Nordic Skiing = ?


Long blog... warning!

This blog originally started when Ahvo, the owner of Finn Sisu, convinced me that it would be interesting to have a blog that followed a more "average" person learning how to ski and race, and trying to combine that with training for another sport (in my case, running).

Off the blog went. I was in the Sisu program at the time, and moved into Vakava the next year. I loved it! I loved the challenge of something new & the fact it required me to think about so much (balance, strength, technique, etc.). There were many frustrated blogs as well, when I'd come back scraped up after a rollerski, be unable to remotely use my fitness when on skis, etc. I know some of the early blog entries were erased when we switched over to this blogspot format, so I don't know how many of those entries still remain.

Anyway, after I entered and ran the Houston 2009 winter marathon, I decided I wanted to see where I could take my running. Was I a 3:03 marathoner, or did I have more in me? I just wanted to find that limit, wherever it was. That's still my goal today. In that next year, I struggled to find a balance between running competitively and learning to ski -- both take so much time, and I found that skiing with the Vakava group caused me to be pretty tired the next few days in my running workouts. It became increasingly hard to do both (especially as my weekly running mileage increased), and I eventually decided that in order to really see where I could go with running, I needed to run. Skiing could be an occasional way to cross train, but my skiing hours needed to be fairly minimal, and very "easy".

I decided not to do Vakava this fall/winter as a result, and my skiing has suffered because of it. I no longer get out for practice once a week with the team, and no longer make time during the week to ski either (when I went to practice, I came back with about 15 things to work on, so would make time 2+ times a week to get out and practice those). Do you know how many hours I've spent "on snow" this year? 7.6!!! (Go ahead, you can shake your head and laugh :)) 2 of these hours were at the Boulder ski race and 2 were at Mora.

I've fallen out of love with skiing. I don't know why -- I actually do like it (once I'm out there), and would really like to concentrate on it to improve a ton. It's just that now when I go out, it's usually tagging along to one of Nate's races, and I am not enjoying it at all. Probably because I don't find a point to it now: why race if I'm not actually going to be able to compete and to improve on last year's performance? My personality doesn't exactly lend itself to "race participation" :). I also fight (mentally) against the sport a little, I think because it's Nate's sport and he's so good at it. I sort of feel like then that I need to like it, need to be competitive. I'm not super motivated when expectations or goals are set on me by someone else -- even though I know he isn't setting any expectations for me, I just feel like they are there.

Anyway, what's the point of this blog entry, you're asking? Well, the Birkie is just days away. The "BIG" ski race. The one I am COMPLETELY unprepared for. This race will increase my total ski hours by 50%. That's absurd. It's like showing up to participate in a fall marathon when you've only run about 50 miles the entire summer. Luckily, I have strong legs from the running I do, and a great engine, but that won't help me when trying to navigate around fallen skiers or slick downhills :/. I'm actually a little terrified of the event this year. I've never been so unprepared for anything...

I'm going to try to just take it easy, to talk to people out on the trail, and to smile... but I know even that will be hard for me. Why is this? I would have no problem entering a running race and running really slow, enjoying the people/scenery/event. Why am I dreading and loathing this upcoming ski race?

Ah, well, just need to get it done. Then the weather can warm up, I can store my skis away, and the running season can commence :). Just hope I survive Saturday in one piece! :)

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17:52 - 2nd Place

Another indoor personal best!

To be honest, I was really hoping for something in the 40s, (I think when I set out goals a few months ago, I was hoping to be around 17:45 by this point in time). But, it wasn't a bad race by any means (very tactful, a lot of women vying for those top couple spots), and it's a 13 second PR on the indoor track for me.

Today wasn't one of those "amazing race" days for me, not like the 3k was last month. Those days, I have a very consistent rhythm, my lap splits are identical without trying, the race is fairly effortless until the end, and I can really put the hammer down at the end. I didn't have any of that today.

But, still a solid showing. I can't complain. I fought for my 2nd place finish; I covered all but one of the moves the women around me made (the one that cost me the win!). But, I still think I had a lot more left.

I just wasn't prepared to race "all-out". I don't know why. I think some of my marathon training teaches me to go long (i.e. Wednesday's workout: 30 min MP, 5 min tempo, 25 min MP, 5 min tempo, 5 min MP), and teaches you to conserve some energy for the next "interval" in your training. I need to learn how to lay it all out there for a shorter race. How do you switch gears like that? As always, a great lesson to learn now, and to practice and visualize about going forward!

I should be extatic about a large PR, but I KNOW I can do better than this. Guess that's a good thing -- it'll fire me up for the next training run and the next race. Bring it on! :)

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5k at the U tomorrow morning!

Legs are still a little tired from Wednesday's 14.5 mile tempo/marathon pace run (well, let's clarify, only 10 of it was at marathon pace or below), but what the heck, let's see what they can do!

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Really? It's time to start the marathon plan?

The last week, I've been meaning to work backwards from G'ma's marathon (June 18th) to see when I'd officially have to begin the Daniel's marathon plan.

Good thing I did... because turns out, I should be starting THIS WEEK.

Oh, man.

I still haven't decided which of the Daniels' marathon programs I'll attempt: 1. stick to the general program I did for TCM? Just add mileage and bump down the target times? Or 2. Move to the elite program?

What are the major differences, you ask? Good question.
In the Elite plan, Phase 2-4 are one continuous 18 week phase. The plan is set up to steadily increase the various types of stress being imposed on the runner rather than changing which system is being stressed during different periods of time.
Looking through the program, it mixes up interval pacing, marathon pace, and tempo pace workouts throughout. You can see that in the first two workouts (week 1):

1. 2 mile WU, then 30 minutes MP, 4:45 tempo pace, 25 minutes MP, 4:45 tempo, 4:45 MP, 2 miles easy (~14 miles)
2. 2 mile WU, 8 miles at MP, 2 mile CD

Vs. the General plan, which focuses first on interval training, then adds marathon and tempo pace. (Working one system at a time).

With that said, I don't know which one will work better for me. I feel like I have a good interval/VO2 max base from this winter's plan, which are what the first 6 weeks of the General plan works on... is that a good thing? Or is it unneccessary to continue to work on that system for that long? We'll see what Jerry has to say, he's very objective & is smarter than me when it comes to an overall plan. I'm pretty sure either will work really well, as long as I can pound out the mileage, get the quality in, and remain healthy and motivated.

Whichever it is, though, I'm excited (although also apprehensive) to begin! Let the mileage/work/general feeling of exhaustion begin! :) (Oh, crap...)

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1st Track Workout Back

I'm pretty sure I smiled most of the entire workout. I feel like I'm back from the dead!

Today's workout: 4x1000 with 1 minute rest, 3:45 each (tempo pace). Then 2x1000 at 3:28, 3 mins rest. Then 4x200 at 38.

I was able to do:
4x1000s in an average of about 3:42-3:43 each
2x1000s in 3:23 each
4x200s: 37, 36, 36, 35

It felt GREAT. Like, seriously great. I wasn't feeling blazing fast, but just to be back, running fast and meeting or beating my given times felt awesome. I was also super excited to be doing this on the indoor Carleton track! Wow, what a great feeling to breathe in the dry, indoor air and try to navigate the tight turns... it's awesome :).

12 miles on the day after a long cool down. I'm back! :)

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Better Showing than Last Week

And that's all I can ask for!

I'm starting to recover now, which is great. Today's workout with Carleton/Simone: 25 minutes of threshold/tempo (forget what term is right?) -- my 5:55 to 6:05 range. She's been a little sick lately, and knowing how I've felt, we each told the other that there was a good chance we'd just do 20, rest for 1 minute, and then do the last 5, which was last week's workout.

Side note about how FAST Simone is: Even though she's been sick, she ran a 10:02 3K last Friday. WOW. She's going down to Iowa state this Saturday to run a 5K against really good competition. I would not be at all surprised if she ran sub 17:10. There is this amazing "quickness" about her stride. She can make a really quick surge in these tempo runs - and it takes me 5+ seconds to respond and move back up to her. You can tell she just has that extra gear (or 2, or 3!), and knows how to fire into those quickly. It's really fun to watch :)

Anyway, back to the workout. I made it 20 minutes with her. First mile: 5:55, 2nd: 5:58. I'm starting to work the last 3rd mile. We slow to 6:04 pace, so I tell her to go. I don't want to hold her back at all! At 20 minutes, I'm losing pace quickly, so decide to take the minute rest. Great idea. I recovered quick and was able to hold 6:00 pace for the last 5 minutes.

We cooled down back to campus (the girls are really nice & fun to talk with, I love the company), and I went out for another 3 miles to get more mileage in. I added a few more up-tempo minutes (TRYING to mimic Simone's quickness!), so all together I had 30 minutes of tempo or faster on the day. Best part? My legs don't feel trashed! They feel like they worked, but a "normal" worked -- not like they've raced a marathon and hit the wall.

So, I'm getting there! I think next week I should be able to hang with her the entire way. I am so blessed to be able to work with the team!! The Carleton women's team is very close, and the head coaches are AMAZING. It's so fun to have this to look forward to. And honestly, who gets the opportunity to chase after one of the top d3 athletes in the nation?!? What a PRIVILEGE! I can't wait until next week :)

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Starting Again Tomorrow

I decided to give myself another evening off. I went back and forth about it today, and decided that I'd allow one more rest day. Am I just being a wuss? I decided I wasn't, that this was a fatigue I've never felt before, and thought that taking one more day off would be best.

After today, I just need to get back to it. If the legs are still dead, so be it, I'll just run slower and take it easy until they turn around. I've at least given them a good head start on recovery by taking 3 unscheduled days off in the last week (a LOT, lot, LOT! for me).

Few other changes I'm making:
1. WATER: I was SO proud of myself today. By about 2, I had consumed 2 water bottles, plus a 8 oz. ounce coffee/ 8 oz. powdered hot chocolate mix (my home-brewed empty calorie concoction/splurge most mornings). That amounted to about 55 ounces of liquid. The most that I've had in a LONG time! I was annoyed to have to hit up the bathroom so often.

But then I got a perfectly timed note from a fellow Run N Fun teammate. Said she had read my blog and that I should be trying for a gallon a day! Really?!? Prior to this, I think I'd been averaging about 25 ounces at work, and maybe another 25 at home? Probably less during the move. So, this is something I can change. It's sort of fun to have a goal to work towards during the day. Only complaint: Today, with my measly 55 (I'm now up to 90 and working on the last 30), I went to the bathroom every 45 minutes, I swear!! Oh well, guess there are worse things than being known as "that girl".

2. Food in general: This same teammate also commented on making sure calories count. Not counting calories, but just making sure they're all doing something good for me. I had let that get away from me. Most days I'm pretty sure I'm not getting my daily servings of veggies/fruits or protein. Too many "quick" foods, and too much snacking of bars and other goodies left out at work. I'm SO weak when it comes to brownies or other baked goods left out in the break room!!! Again, something I can easily change now that I'm re-focusing on it.

3. Making sure I get enough rest. Enough said.

And hopefully with the combination of 1, 2, and 3, I'll be back to my old self again soon! Can't wait! There's NOTHING better than the feeling after a long, hard workout/week of workouts :)

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Trying to Recover

I've spent the last part of the week just trying to recover. From what? I'm still not sure.

After Wednesday's threshold with Simone, my legs were shot. The "I've just run a marathon" kind of shot, where going down stairs is painful. WEIRD. It was just 25 minutes at a 6 minute pace!

I've tried to run a couple of times since, and my quads are still pretty sore. I can't even imagine trying to move quickly at this point. Hmm.

Possible reasons:
1. Steve's explaination of dehydration could be very possible. I know I haven't been watching that at all during this hectic time (In fact, last week sometime at work I caught myself thinking that I hadn't touched my water bottle in a long time...). So, this could be very possible.
2. General over-training.
3. General stress of changes: move, unpacking, the new commute, stress of the work, etc.

Anyway, whatever the reason, I just need to get over this ASAP. How do you get over fatigue like this? Time off? I've tried that (just a few days), with only a little success. Do I just run easy until the legs come around?

Here's hoping they feel at least a little better by this upcoming Wednesday... I have another tempo run with Simone that I'd like to keep up on!

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1st practice - not my best showing

I showed up to practice today, nervous as I've been in a long time! The distance team was driven outside of town on a less busy/no stop sign road. The team and I did about a mile and a half warm up, and then started the threshold.

Wow... Simone will be so helpful for me! We're actually the same height, which is really funny, and our threshold paces are the exact same (5:55-6:05). It's just awesome.

We did 1x20 minutes today, 1 minute rest, then 5 minutes.

Only problem? My legs. I did well until about 18 minutes. Then my legs came undone… it’s so weird. Not sure how to describe it, but it's the exact same feeling I had last week when trying to do a 20 minute threshold. They just start turning over at a slower rate and aren't able to react at all.

This is SO unlike me, especially at this threshold/tempo pace. This is usually my strongest workout, and I typically do 40+ minutes at this pace (broken up differently each week). Today was just 25.

How embarassing! I wasn't too far behind, but still... I don't want to "tag along"! I'd like to be up with her, each of us helping the other. So, I need to get back to my normal, and then I'll be up with her without any trouble.

I'm considering taking a few days off. I'm a little scared, because that means the last 3 weeks will be poor in terms of mileage, but I need to get over this ASAP. What's the deal? Does moving and stress of work really take that much out of you? (closed on a house last friday, moved over the weekend, and the following weekend I travelled to Denver for a trade show for the ski shop... too much) I haven't done strength yet this week (tonight was going to be my first session of the week, but I decided to skip), and I think I'll go easy on it if I do much strength work at all.

So, even though today wasn't my best showing, I am SO happy I was able to run with them! Looking forward to training more with them, as well as trying to help coach/help the team out a little!

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