29:19 Human Race 8k! 4th Place

I've been meaning to get to this for FAR too long :).

Rewind to the few days before the race. My legs were feeling the 3 weeks of higher mileage, and the fact that I wasn't letting up for this race. On Saturday I went out for an easy 5 miler. WOW, my legs felt weird. They were tired, and I felt like I was breathing harder than I should have been to maintain an easy pace. Could also be that I am not 100% over a head cold I got about 10 days ago. Darn my terrible immune system. Pace was decent, though, despite feeling sluggish.

On to the race - I felt pretty good from the warm-up! I didn't feel springy and fast, but I also didn't have that "legs totally trashed" feeling, and my lungs were working OK. YEAH! Maybe this won't be the world's longest 8k after all!

I started the first mile in 6:00. I found that pace pretty easily, and didn't have to work at it. A teammate came up to me then & encouraged me to chase down another woman up ahead. That was all of the encouragement I needed. I sped up about 10 seconds/mile & got into a GREAT rhythm. The faster pace felt effortless & fun. I passed a lot of people, including about 4-5 women. Miles 2-4 were in 5:50, 5:48, 5:55 (slightly uphill). All the while I kept my eyes ahead. WOW -- Ladia Albertson (graduated from the U of MN, multiple time All-American for the Gophers) was up ahead! And Kim, another REALLY fast road racer. Can this be? I'm not in their league, but had been gaining on them through mile 4.

I thought to myself, what a lifetime achievement if I could reach either of them! I gunned it. Except I didn't seem to be gaining on them like I had before. Had they decided to take off at mile 4 as well? C'mon, Nichole, let's push a little more... I wasn't sure if I was going faster or not, as my legs weren't moving as effortlessly and I had to work to control them a little (why is that? just fatigue? I've had that feeling a bit lately). Afterwards, I realized I had run a low 5:30s last mile. Ha, really? :) I don't think I gained on either Ladia or Kim, but oh well -- what a great race, especially considering how I've felt the last couple of days!

Upcoming Plan

Since it's been so long since I've posted, I'll combine two posts in one. After the race, Jerry and I worked to define my next month's plan. After the race I took a recovery week, which was great. 65 miles with two hard workouts, and the hard workouts felt much easier! I could actually hit my tempo pace without straining, and did a track workout & nailed my times. AHHHH, I love recovery weeks.

But, I won't see another 65 mile week for a while. This week we're testing my limits, with 95 miles planned. The intensity is lower, with just one hard workout (I'll add in some striders 2-3 times this week) & I'm trying to really pay attention to my body. So far, so good! The next few weeks will be higher as well - it was a little intimidating to see it all mapped out, day by day, but also really exciting. I can do this! How amazing is it that my body now considers 65/week to be a lower week? I just have to take the workouts day by day -- I know it'll be difficult & I'll be tired often, but I know in the end this'll make me both physically and mentally TOUGH. Bring it on! :)


Mileage... is this what makes a marathoner?

I took my first day off in 18 days on Friday (too long, I usually only try to go 2 weeks, but hadn't been looking at my training log). I tried to do a threshold workout on day 17, and felt like I was working harder than I should have been. My lungs felt fine, but my legs couldn't move quick enough. Why do I feel like I can't move any faster? I thought to myself: I need to work on my flexibility. I remember this feeling: whenever my mileage gets higher, I feel like my legs swell to the size of tree trunks and they begin to move SLOWER. Whether that's the case or not, I have no idea (I'm sure when I taper down, I am actually faster, but I feel pretty slow during the higher mileage weeks).

I looked at my training log after the workout, and realized that it had been a long time since I had taken a day off. That could be it. The tempo workout averaged 6:07/mile (2x2 miles @ tempo). Not terrible, but I'd like to be closer to 6:00. It was windy, and the majority of the tempo work was into the wind, but still. I need to be closer to 6:00, no matter the terrain or weather.

Hopefully the mileage and the lack of a day off explains the sluggishness I'm feeling. I've logged a lot of miles lately, at least for me (this isn't even that high in the grand scheme of things! I don't know how others are able to log 100+): 85.5 last week, and will be near 75 this week (and 75 the week prior to the 85.5). Jerry and I decided to keep this week higher than I normally would (given that I'm going to race on Sunday).

Given I can stay healthy, milage at this level so early is a GREAT sign. I hope it's making me strong, and not making me slow (I often wonder... if I ran 10 miles/week less, would I be able to NAIL my tempo and interval workouts ??). I have no idea. I'm shooting for a max weekly mileage of 95 during this cycle, which I'll plan to hit twice (per Daniels, unless Jerry makes changes). For the upcoming weeks, it looks like it'll be 67- (next week after the race) 95 - 86- 76- 95- 86-. Holy cr@p (sorry for the explative). That's a lot of consistent mileage. I really hope it'll make me strong/fast.

Anyway -- my thoughts are on the race on Sunday, especially after today's "tired" run. I ran today (~13 miles, with some fast striders). I feel sluggish/big/inflexible. Ug. I do not feel fast, which I was hoping to after taking a day off. Oh well, guess we'll see what's in store for me Sunday. I really do love racing, It's such a great way to gauge where you're at & a great opportunity for a hard effort. I'll lay it all out there, but I make no promises of a speedy time :)


It's been a while...

Well, I survived the Birkie -- yeah! The first 15k were pretty ugly (my legs felt terrible and didn't exactly remember how they were supposed to move), but then it was pretty easy. Thank goodness I'm fit and my legs are strong from the running I do. I think I finished 190th or so for women. Last year I was 100th, so a bit of a decline :). Oops!

Afterwards, I happily put my skis in the basement, intending to only bring them out if I feel really inclined to go for a fun ski. :)

Meanwhile, the marathon training plan is in full swing. 75 miles last week, 85 this week. Wow. If I really hit 85 this week, that'll be the highest I've hit this early in a training plan (TCM's max was 83, and I hit that just once). I'm actually handling it really well. The only thing I've noticed is that my legs seem to be larger than normal -- I feel like the muscle fibers are swollen, sort of bulging out of their normal casing (NO idea what is actually going on, but this is how I picture it...). Probably just from using them so much, as well as doing leg-specific strength, which I've never done before.

Otherwise, nothing really of note. My days are pretty dull... lots of work, running 1-2 times/day, 2 or more hard days a week, and trying to sleep a lot. I'm really tired more often now, and need to make 8-9 hours of sleep a night a bigger priority.

Sorry for the boring post, but wanted to at least post something so it didn't look like I died at the Birkie :)