Stop by!

I'll be at the Stunt Puppy/Subaru booth at the Twin Cities Marathon expo this Saturday at 4pm. Should be fun!


Pushing the limits

Jerry sent me the next 12 weeks of training. WOW. It's pretty incredible to look at and to think that I might be able to DO all of this. His email warned me before I opened it: "After working on this for a while it was strange to look at an 85 mile week and think "This looks too easy". That should warn you how HARD the rest of it looks."

Oh, boy...

He also wrote in suggested pace ranges for these weeks.

Previously, I had been stepping down from my Grandma's training paces slowly. Tempo before grandma's was 6:05. So, 6:00 seemed like a reasonable target. After all, I had a really hard time hitting 6:05s most of the time, until I tapered. Jerry's suggestions instead have me reaching for 5:45-5:50 now, and stepping that down to 5:40-5:45 in the next month. Marathon pace will now be 6:04-6:09, in a month it'll be 5:59-6:04. My first reaction: what? is that even possible? But then I realized this is the exact same change that I've already made with race goals: I am much more aggressive in goal setting & not afraid to fall short (i.e. fail). I'm not sure why I hadn't extended that thinking into challenging myself on training paces. After all, isn't that how you get to those aggressive race goals - by training aggressively?

So, first tempo run inside a long run (18 miles) was Sunday. Goal was sub 5:50, per Jerry. First three miles at tempo I averaged 5:47, and felt pretty good (note that I didn't hit these paces for tempo runs until the VERY end of the taper before Grandma's, so it's sort of odd to be back there now, without that same "my legs feel so fast!" taper feeling!). That equates to a sub 18:10 5k, which is crazy. The second three mile tempo was at the end of the long run in 5:56 or 5:57 pace. I was toast. I tried to dig, but that was all I had. I can tell I have a bit of work to do in re-gaining that long-run strength. But, overall, a great first long run/tempo workout, and super fun to realize that I actually CAN be hitting these new faster paces.

All it took was a little reminder -- I am capable of much more than I think. I just have to BELIEVE. :)


I miss brownies...

One of the things that has defined my training over the past year has been adding the "little things" to my training. One of those things has been nutrition.

About 2 months before Grandma's, I decided I also needed to make changes to my diet. I have always been a heavier (more dense?) runner, and I especially notice it at the elite start line. Previously, I didn't really watch what I ate - as long as the scale told me I was being consistent, I was happy. That meant that I got away with a LOT of junk food. Seriously. Frozen pizza and other quick "out of the freezer, into the oven" foods were common for supper. [I try to be cost-conscious at the grocery store, and it's fairly easy to find packaged, no-nutrients food for next to nothing when you combine a sale with a double coupon :)]

So, my husband and I talked and decided that we were going to try to eat more fresh foods, even though that meant we’d likely be spending a bit more on food.

First trip to the store: I bought lettuce and chicken & we made chicken Caesar salad. I was so proud of myself. Until Nate commented that the lettuce was iceberg, which has almost no nutrients in it, and the chicken was frozen and has a lot more sodium than fresh meat. Hmm... that had never occurred to me.

I am a horrible snacker. I justified it by telling myself that I had run 80+ miles – of course I can have an open box of cereal to snack on at night when I was catching up on emails at night. Before I’d know it, half of the box was gone L. I’d also eat handfuls of chocolate chips and other assorted packaged stuff from the cupboard. That box of brownies I made yesterday? They’d be gone by the next evening.

I knew I needed to cut all of this out & replace it with healthier calories. So, the plan was to have a lighter supper & stop all night-time snacking – goal was to go to bed hungry so that I’d crave a huge breakfast (which is generally all healthy foods). To help, we instituted a “give me a dollar” jar. If I did snack, I had to put a dollar into Nate’s jar [which he told me he was going to buy Mike & Ikes with, and they weren’t even going to be on sale :) - I never buy anything not on sale!]. The first couple of weeks sucked. I MISSED all of those junk calories! I HATE going to bed hungry! But, I am proud to say that I was stubborn enough not to put a single dollar in that jar the entire time :).

I saw immediate results on the scale. Within 2 months, I had lost nearly 7 pounds & felt GREAT. Running came much easier – either because of the weight lost, the fact my body was running off of better calories, or the fact that it was also the time I was tapering. Either way, I am now a huge believer in managing weight (in a healthy way) & putting healthy, nutrient-dense foods into my body.

So – in my quest to give myself every possible advantage possible to race well at the Trials, I am trying to be just a little better with food. This will likely mean targeting an even lower racing weight and trying to make even better food choices (because even though I did pretty well before Grandma’s, I can definitely do better). Luckily, I have the very generous help from “Just Food” in Northfield, an organic/local/sustainable grocery store.

I am super excited about the opportunity to buy organic and fill our fridge with veggies, fruits, and all of the completely healthy choices they have there. Not going to lie, I’m a little intimidated by it (going through the veggie section I recognized a whopping 2 or 3 names – what do you make with most of this??). I don’t really know how to cook with many of these things, and I certainly don’t know how to make quick snacks or meals with them. So – should be a fun adventure! I’m sure there will be some fun stories/learning in the coming months :).


Game On - 6x1000m

During my very slow COLL performance, I had time to think about why I wasn't performing as I had hoped. One of the things I decided was that from that day on, I needed to make the most out of each and every hard workout in my training schedule.

Since Grandma's, Jerry has had me putting in great base mileage, with a little VO2 max work thrown in. It's not that I haven't given it my all in each of those track sessions. I have. It's just that I need to make SURE that I am working as hard as I absolutely can. Digging harder than I have before, running as smoothly & strong as possible. I have 18 weeks until the Trials. In some ways, that's a long time from now (4.5 months!) -- but in another, I know weeks FLY by, and 18 seems like such a small number...

So for today's track workout, I did 3 1000m repeats by myself back & forth along a flat stretch of Red Wing over the lunch hour. First one: 3:34. My legs couldn't move. I told myself that didn't matter. I know I can be stronger than this. #2: 3:23 (perfect! Right on pace!). #3: 3:19 (a little downhill?). Nice!

I jogged back over to the YMCA, as I knew the lunch time runners would be gathering. My hope was that they could help with the last 3 repeats.

They are the best. No question about it, they all jogged to the start with me. Some just jog back and forth, others start before me & allow me to chase them, others line up along the course & join me as I catch up. How cool is that?

#4 was 3:20. YES -- that's the fast range I'd like to be hitting for these. My legs are feeling it at this point. #5 was 3:15. I was elated. This is the fastest I've ever done a 1000m repeat! I didn't allow much rest for #6, and felt it: 3:26.

What a fabulous workout. My lungs burned and I can truly say I gave it everything I had - success! A huge THANK YOU to the YMCA group for your help in making that happen, I am so appreciative of and humbled by the help. This journey would not be nearly as much fun without the awesome support crew(s) I have :).


COLL - my slowest race?

Oh, man... what a torturous 25k race. My goal was to run under a 1:38. I ran slower than 1:45. Not good.

The plan was to start in 6:15 pace for a couple of miles and then bring that down to close to 6:05s. I started off just fine, but after the 3rd mile I could just tell I was working too hard. Since when did 6:10s/6:15s become fast for me?

I got progressively slower throughout the race (seeing some miles around 7:05 or so… goal was sub 6:10). At mile 8, I started to get a little dizzy. At that point, I was just running for survival. My goal was to practice running while hurting & feeling awful – just one foot in front of the other, I kept telling myself.

Good news: I finished and I didn’t walk. I’m actually proud of that :). Bad news: 1:45:something for a finish – pretty slow. So slow, in fact, that a fellow Run N Fun men’s masters runner asked what had happened to me (“Did you stop to use the restroom?”). I laughed. Nope! Just a really slow race! :)

A year or so ago, I never had races like this. I ran pretty well 99% of the time, and the delta between my good days and bad days was very narrow. Runners who had days like this puzzled me. How was it possible to do so well one race & so poorly the next? But now I know that the problem was actually me - if you're racing well ALL of the time, you're not training hard enough & not pushing your limits. I'm finally pushing myself, and therefore there will be times when I blow-up in races.

I won’t spend time dwelling on the race, it's not worth it. It clearly just wasn’t my day. I think continued stress, lack of sleep, and the temps/humidity (I am seriously the worst heat/humidity runner, why is that??) all really affected me. Plus, I can just tell that I haven’t done any work at threshold pace. I feel slow (despite having done some good VO2 max work). But, nothing I can do about the race or these factors now, other than look forward and try to fix the things that aren’t going well.

So, instead, I'll focus on this week’s 85 miles and start to longer MP/tempo workouts!


Getting stronger

I can feel my legs/body adapting to my current mileage & training regimen - yeah!

It took longer than I would have thought to get back into the routine of daily mileage, not exactly sure why. Perhaps I was overly optimistic about my ability to get back into it. [I was running ~80-85/week for Grandma’s, it shouldn’t be a problem to jump back into that type of mileage!][This is why I hurt myself when I’m not working with a coach!]

Whatever it was, I think I’ve turned a corner. I now feel like I did in training before Grandma’s – where I can do a double of 14 (4 am, 10 pm) and my legs aren’t phased at all by it. I can’t accurately describe the feeling in words: it’s as if your legs are now strong enough and miles just click by. There’s not the extreme quad soreness I had for a few weeks, where no matter what I did or what the workout, I begged for a quad massage before bed. Again, it’s probably just my body adapting to the stress I’m putting on it: this is the 5th week under Jerry’s daily plan, and weekly mileage has been: 70 (on 6 days), 75 (on 7 days), 80 (on 6 days), 75 (on 7), and this week of 75 on 7 days.

I’m not completely “out of the woods” yet, my legs don’t have that fun “spring” in them when I know they’re a little rested and fast. But at least I’m no longer beat-up/fatigued…

Which would mean that it’d be natural to move me to another phase in training, right?

Daniels’ 18 week “Elite” schedule begins next week. :)

[Does Jerry just KNOW that it would take this long to acclimate to mileage? I often marvel at how perfectly timed the change in phases/mileage peaks and valleys are]


Racing Again

Since the marathon, I have raced four times, but have been so busy that I haven't been able to recap them. Here's an attempt:

Uphill Challenge:
I got the chance through work to go out to O.R. (Outdoor Retailer trade show) in Salt Lake City, Utah at the beginning of August. The big event at the show is the "Uphill Challenge".

The race has two treadmills, set at incline, and you run as far as you can for 15 minutes. As I got to the treadmill, the starter said, "Alright, lets set this to 15%". WHAT!?! Last year was at 10%, and I had at least practiced that grade on my treadmill at home one day just to see about what pace I wanted to start at. I knew I could start around 7.3MPH and work upwards from there (knowing that the winning distance from last year was around 1.63 miles).But I didn't have any idea what to start at for a 15% grade, running at altitude. etc. etc.

I figured that starting at 6.5 seemed reasonable. I bumped it up slowly over the next 5 minutes, until I felt my legs burning and lungs having a really hard time keeping up. I looked down: 7 minutes into the race. I quickly decreased pace to 5.5, but no luck... my lungs couldn't recover (darn altitude!). At 8 minutes, I desperately hit the "stop" button.

How embarrasing! There are very few times in life that I've stopped during a race. I think the only other time was at Afton's 25k when I couldn't run up one of the last hills. I caught my breath and then started up the treadmill again. Those 15 minutes were the most torcherous I've experienced in a long time, and my lungs still hurt 3 days after the race. You can watch the last minute or so of my heat on CW-X's facebook page here.

The woman running against me ran 1.4 miles vs. my 1.35. Bummer! I was really hoping to win the women's event :). I didn't have anything to judge that effort/distance on, but turns out that 1.35 miles isn't shabby at all -- In 2007 (one of the other times it was at 15%) Krissy Moehl the Hardrock 100 champ ran 1.31 miles, Nikki Kimball the Western States 100 mile champ ran 1.33 miles, and Joelle Vaught won the 2007 Uphill Challenge with 1.34 miles.

The product development guy at RWSC emailed me afterwards to congratulate me on tying for 2nd place with a Salomon sponsored runner -- apparently she's one of the best trail runners in the world. The woman that won is also one of the top trail runners (professional). Sweet :). Next year, I'll be prepared for either 10% or 15% :). Watch out!

MDRA 15k:
I've been feeling pretty slow since the marathon, so decided to use the 15k as a way to get a workout in with people helping to move me along. I started out in about 6:20 pace for the first 3 miles, and then warmed up to 6:12s, then 6:08s, then just above 6:00s. I felt strong, in control of my legs -- overall, a great confidence booster!

I knew before the race that the MN state age group record for a 28 year old in the 15k was 58:54, set last year at this race. Despite racing well for many years, I have never had an age state record, and so that was definately on my mind.
I finished in 3rd place in 57:54 - a minute in front of the old age group record! But after looking at the results, I realized that Kim Robinson (who won) is also 28 years old. Bummer!

13.1 Minneapolis Half Marathon:
One of my goals for this fall is to lower my half marathon PR. Currently the second half of Grandma's Marathon is my unofficial PR, since I really have not raced a half marathon in a few years. So I had targeted the 13.1 Minneapolis Half Marathon as a place to go for that new PR, plus they have really good prize money ($1000, $750, $500 for 1st, 2nd, 3rd place) and my second half of Grandma's (1:22:18) would have won last year's race by nearly 4 minutes. :)

The week before the race was absolutely crazy. There were multiple nights that Nate brought food up to my computer so I'd be able to keep working while eating :(. I got out for each of my runs, but didn't make time for more than 1 strength session, and wasn't taking care of myself well: sleeping, eating, drinking, etc.

Even the morning of the race was hectic. We were coordinating other activities later in the day, coordinating pick-ups of stuff with my parents, etc. As we arrived to the start line with no less than 30 seconds before the gun went off, I thought to myself that I really need to find a way to slow life down... this craziness isn't fun at all!

The stress of the work week and morning showed. I was really flat & my legs wouldn't move. 6:20 pace took a lot of effort (not good, most of my miles at Grandma's were faster than that!). Luckily, Claire, a friend who is hoping for her OT Qualifier at Chicago this fall, came up to me around mile 4 or 5. I decided then that I could run sub 6:19s for her (she was using this as a MP run). Nice to have the "reason" to run -- instead of focusing on being slow/feeling crummy, I focused on racing for her.

I finished in 5th place in 1:22:34, Claire right behind me. I was a little dissapointed with this result, obviously - it's slower than EITHER half at Grandma's! And I was actually trying to race! Nate reminded me that the 4 women ahead of me are ranked higher than me on the national marathon list, so I technically finished right where I "should" have. But -- I KNOW I could have raced with #4 if I would have had a good day, legs were feeling good, etc. :) Overall, despite being slow, it was a great event & a good workout.

Gustavus Alumni Race:
Every year I look forward to this race. I've become more involved with the team recently & have become close with a number of the women. Plus, my cousin Leighton is a Freshman this year. How fun!

The week before was another crazy one at work, and despite a day off, my legs were pretty beat. (Could be that the week was 80 miles on 6 days - not a ton, but also enough so legs should be a little drained) I wasn't expecting much.

From the gun, I was surprised - no one even tried to come with me. Sad! So, it was me and the golf cart for 3.1 miles (actually 3.22 by my watch, I swear I tried to take tangents! I looked at my watch at 3.11 and was at 17:50 something). I was decently happy with my 18:32 finish, considering the long course, the spongy surface (I am terrible when you take away my push-off!), and how I've been feeling lately.Plus, Kate, the GAC woman who finished 2nd, was 1:10 behind me -- and she'll be a top 5 MIAC finisher & will be gunning for a NCAA qualifier.

Leighton finished 7th for GAC men, so he was pretty pumped. He's looking strong - I'm excited to watch him race & develop as a runner in the coming years!

Here's a picture from the race. Here are race results.