I had to put a dollar in my jar tonight (the one that I need to contribute to if I eat after our evening meal). Ug. First time I've had to contribute, and not going to lie, a little disappointed in myself (I didn't even need it!). I can be better than this!


Crunch Time

I'm sort of in that "oh crap" mode. I have less than a month to get myself into fast 5k shape. Probably not a big deal for most, but a big deal for my surprisingly slow legs. It's really fun to have this immediate "either do it or not" type of goal (sort of the same mentality as I had last year for my qualifying attempt!).

As such, each workout has added emphasis. Can I push harder? Can I mentally endure more? I've been trying to sync with people for most of my hard runs, which has been really fun and also pushes me that extra little bit. Today's 20 miler with tempo I synced up with Craig and Brenden again, although it was a harder than typical for me, mostly because my legs were feeling the mileage of the last 2 weeks. We logged 18:06 and 18:10 for the 3 miles segments. Not great, but not bad considering how my legs felt and the fast that segment number 1 was entirely into the wind (10+mph, at least), and the second segment was very much uphill. I pictured charging through the uphills in the last 10k of Grandma's marathon. The last 400m I pictured charging for that stadium record. It helped to have Brenden's encouraging voice in my head - you CAN! All the way! You have this, girl!

I've also worked on getting to my racing weight. I know that I can't afford to carry around any extra if I'm actually going to run a fast 5k, so it's meant a couple of hungry nights as of late. Ug, I seriously hate getting down to racing weight (maybe if I wouldn't allow myself to eat so much during my "off seasons" I wouldn't have to work so hard now... ). I told Nate that I would much rather run until my legs completely come off of me, glutes, quads, and hamstrings ache, and I have blisters lining both feet than try to lose weight. I just enjoy eating too much :). Much like consistent pacing is my biggest strength, eating is probably my biggest weakness :).

I went to Just Food today to try to load up on organic and good-for-you food. We made an ice-cream pail full of Museli (surpisingly cheap if you make it yourself!) and are currently letting a loaf of rye bread rise. YUMMM, I love healthy food :).

I've recently discovered a "super food" for me -- 3 egg whites on a whole wheat tortilla with a big handful of spinach. Simple (you don't even need cheese!), yet SOOO good. I look forward to eating them every day :). Seriously. It's also a great way to make sure I'm coming close to my protein needs for the day, which I'm typically terrible at doing. Try this -- you'll be hooked as well :).

I have 5 pounds to go... that's a lot for a month, probably too much, too late, but I'll try my hardest. Wish me luck :/.

Less than 4 weeks to go before the GAC alumni race 5k (and just TWO weeks before their first home meet, where I'll also run a first attempt at the stadium record of 17:18). YIKES!!!!


Unexpected Company

I know that I would not be where I am today if not for the help and support of SO many along the way. Last Saturday's run was no exception.

Brenden made the trek up from St. Peter to do a 20 miler with two 3 mile tempo segments. We headed out the door shortly after he arrived. Nate strapped on his rollerskis and our group started off. It helps SO much to have someone running side-by-side with me during these long tempo workouts, so I’m always excited when I can sync up with Brenden.

About a mile ahead, we see a tall, lanky runner ahead. Wait – it looks like he’s now running toward us? I’m not wearing my contacts, so it’s very possible I’m just not seeing things correctly. Except I was. It was Craig from here in town, and HE happened to be starting his 20 miler as well. Ha! What are the chances? Brenden told me the chances of this happening were 1 of 2: either it happens or it doesn’t. Ha. Sure.

We’ll be doing two three mile pick-ups in a couple of miles, I tell him. He thinks about that for a second and then says that sounds fun. Brenden joked that at least this way Craig could get his 20 miler done quicker. Good way to look at it, I guess :). I almost laughed out loud at the craziness of the situation. To be doing one of my hardest/longest runs of the week, already armed with Brenden and Nate to help, and to have picked up another willing body along the way? That’s pretty awesome, not going to lie :).

The tempo segments went really well, and for the first time I exceeded Jerry’s pace goals for the workout. 17:47 for the 1st 3 miles, 17:46 for the 2nd. Crazy consistent, guess that is one of my strengths :). It really helped to have people right next to me the entire time – after all, I couldn’t slow if I was tired, since the whole reason they were putting themselves through this crazy workout was for me. I even TRIED to pick it up the last 200m of the last one, pretending I was neck and neck with Linda (going to be running the 5k at GAC) or bumping up against that stadium record – and I swear there was as least a little bit of a change :). Better than I’ve been able to do in a while, anyway.

The last 4 miles was sort of a death march for me – legs drained and hamstrings and glutes telling me they were done. Ahhhh – gotta love that feeling; means I’ve done a hard marathon workout. I’ve been missing that sort of feeling.

I’m beyond humbled by the help I get daily – either by being helped through workouts with great people like Saturday, the support of my awesome sponsors like CW-X (I got the most AMAZING package in the mail this week with my new spring training gear, and I LOVE IT!! The capris are just awesome! I ran in them for the first time today and am in LOVE!), Carb Boom!, Stunt Puppy, Run N Fun, Fit to Be Tri’d, Just Food – just to name a few! - and the support from co-workers, family members, and friends. Without all of you, I KNOW I wouldn’t be where I am today. So THANK YOU!!!!!!


Progress! And goal setting :)

It's been a while :). I blame my work, which has been a bit overwhelming as of late.

First item to note: I've seen progress in my workout times, which has been exciting. This week has particularly been exciting. Two workouts to note:
5x1000: 3:20, 3:20, 3:21, 3:24, 3:22
20 miles with 2x3 mile: 3 miles in 17:47, 17:46 (not sure where I learned to be so consistent!)

I haven't done any long VO2 max yet this cycle until the above 5x1000m workout, but I was impressed by how my legs/lungs handled the workout. I was a little afraid since I hadn't done any VO2 max since well before the marathon, but I think the crazy 200/400 workouts Jerry has me doing are helping with my ability to handle longer repeats as well (the fact that there's no recovery from those 200s or 400s). I did my long run with tempo this morning, and for the FIRST time since the Trials was able to exceed Jerry's recommended paces for tempo. Ahhh, YEESSS!! Progress! About time!

So excited to be getting faster. Now... just need to make sure I continue to get faster this next month... goal for the end of the April is to try to take down the GAC 5k stadium record, currently 17:18, set by Simone last Spring. I'm not sure my short, marathon-specific legs can move that fast, but I'm going to try my hardest to make it happen :).

I also raced last weekend, for the first time: the Human Race 8k. This is typically my opening race, and it's always exciting to see where you stack up against the top competition (since pretty much all of the top racers are there). I finished 6th, in 29:36. It was 17 seconds slower than last year, which I was a little disappointed in, but after I reviewed both races I was less disappointed. Last year the weather was cool and rainy (perhaps my best racing conditions). This year was hot & sunny (a few reprieves from clouds, thank goodness!). Last year my legs felt great - I remember finishing feeling strong, snappy. This year my legs had nothing. After about mile 2, I could feel I was fighting fatigue.

So - I'm sure you're wondering: what ARE my running goals for this year? Good question :) I'm still in flux for this fall, but for the spring/early summer, I'm gunning for that GAC stadium record in the 5k, which I'll have 2 chances at, and I'm leaning toward racing the full marathon at Grandma's. Originally Jerry and I had talked about doing the 1/2 there (since it's the US Championships, what better opportunity to run a fast 1/2?), but I find I'm much more excited about racing the full & trying to crack the top 10 (and place as high as possible).

The ultimate goal is to run sub 2:40 this year. I don't know if that'll be at Grandma's or at a fall marathon, but I'd love to chase that time goal. It's a powerful thing - to have a time goal that's a little on the crazy side - to motivate you beyond what you'd normally give.

So -- let's hope for another month of improvements! Sub 17:18, here I come!

P.S. Nate took home a Little Caesar's pizza tonight, and I successfully only allowed myself one bite (trying to eat healthier). This deserves praise - I ate an egg white/spinach wrap instead. Although that last slice is calling my name...



Week in review:
79 miles
2 hard workouts: 200m track workout, 2x3 miles at tempo
One off day

Last week I had a little bit of a breakthrough (i.e. not being INCREDIBLY slow, just sort-of slow), and I was excited to continue with that progress this week. Except it didn't happen. Both workouts I had I was pretty much exactly the same speed as last week. A little frustrating, especially since I really WANT to be faster!!

First workout: 8x200 faster, 200 fast. Faster is supposed to be 35, fast supposed to be 55. Every single time I came through the fast 200, I saw 38.x. Seriously? I'd reset my mind during the "recovery" 200, vowing to make the next 200m repeat faster. I thought about my form, arm swing, etc. I also visualized perfect, powerful form when running (in hopes that it might translate). But no matter what I did, I came through in 38's.

Total time for the 2 miles was 12:36.

As I told Jerry, that seems so... pedestrian. I'll be trying to race a 5k in 41s or so this spring. And I can only muster 38s? 41s don't seem like they'd be possible...

But, I guess it doesn't really matter - I ran as fast as my legs would carry me & truly tried to get every second out of them. Guess that's all you can ask for. I just WISH I could be faster! It's frustrating to realize that you have no ability to bring it down. I realize it'll be a while until I can get that ability back (if I ever had such an ability), since I haven't worked on it in over a year and a half...

On to workout #2: 2x3 miles at tempo (goal sub 6)
Result: 6:05 average, 6:08 average. The first repeat I let myself lose it the last mile. I allowed myself to hurt. Not acceptable. I reset myself for the second rep, reminding myself to embrace the pain, trying to endure as much "uncomfortableness" as possible. I only have two opportunities each week to really test myself (and considering the 200s aren't really that taxing on the legs or lungs (because I can't move myself fast enough to get there!), it's really just this workout - so I have to make it count. I was mentally stronger on this one, but just couldn't squeak out any additional seconds. At least the second tempo segment was 2 secs/mile faster than last week (but just 2 secs? really?)

So -- a somewhat frustrating week in terms of progress, but I also understand that it's a process and that improvements sometimes come slower than you'd like. I'm reminding myself to be patient, that I'll get back up to speed soon enough -- in the meantime, all I can ask is that I give my best in the workouts I'm given.

And smile, because I'm still having a lot of fun chasing dreams :)

PS - I've polled facebook, but I'll try here as well. I cracked the glass on my garmin, so it's only a matter of time before water sneaks into the display & it dies. Because I've become SO dependent on knowing distances/paces, I know I need to seek out a new one fairly soon. Any recommendations? I'm considering the 110 (garmin) - I just want something simple & small. I haven't done much research on Nike's option or the Soleus option. Any advice?


Getting back into the swing of things

I've said this to a couple of people lately, but it's so true: if I hadn't run a 2:44 marathon in January, I would honestly be wondering if I had any running ability... seriously.

My first threshold workout was supposed to be 6 miles in 36 minutes. Should be easy enough, right? Except that I found myself after the gun STRUGGLING to keep up (with the Carleton team). I averaged 6:12s through 4 miles, then took 1 mile easy, and averaged around 6:20 for the next miles. That's WAY slower than my Trials pace, in case anyone is comparing.

But, I guess that's just what it is -- you can't rush being fast/fit. I am where I am. It's a one day at a time process that I think about often, wishing that it COULD be faster, faster. But it's just not something you can rush. It's a process, and getting faster takes time. Plus, with my recent achilles injury, Jerry reminds me that if I'm not patient, I'll end up a patient. Ahh, yess -- but I hate that it's true.

This week was better. My track workout was better (not exceptionally slow, like the first one! I'm not even kidding!), and my threshold earlier today was at 6:05 and 6:10 pace (2x3 miles). Still not fast, but at least I'm working in the right direction. I've often wondered if my workouts lately are normal - is it typical to be (so much) slower after a big race? I know I took a few weeks off from running, but I feel like I didn't get out of shape (after a week completely off I cross trained a lot, often 10-12 hours/week). Anyway, whether this is a normal slow-down or not, I can not WAIT until these threshold miles are back below 6 minutes.

That's it for now - looking forward to a nice long run this weekend! Jerry is allowing 20 this weekend, and I am SO excited. I live for long runs :)