Wednesday, July 31, 2013

31+ (miles baby!)

For the record, our (Evie Ultra and my) longest run is done and in the books or partially in the Garmin. All that is left is a couple more longish runs, a short taper, keeping up with cross training and packing my drop bag.

Preparing for our long run I drove the course and dropped 2 frozen 2-liter bottles filled with NUUN for refilling our packs at mile 14 and 24. Besides packing all the usual GUs, pickle juice and salt tablets, I prepared 2 grilled cheese sandwiches before we set out. These sandwiches were...awesome! I can't believe it took me so long to try this. I cut them into quarters to make them easier to eat. For the first time I wasn't completely hungry out there and having food fantasies.

I also wore all my clothes that I will be wearing in the ultra. I don't need any wardrobe malfunction surprises.

After mile 26 Evie announced that I was officially an ultra runner. I told her not until I was at 31. I felt like Rainman, "31 mile, 31 miles, the number has to be 31. 31 miles…" When I did cross over 31 miles, I felt a giggly sensation. I actually couldn't quit laughing. I have no idea what was funny. I am hoping 50 is just as hilarious.

The magic is that I absolutely do not feel burned out on running. I went on with my day with my family like I hadn't ran anything more than 14 that day. And even went to dinner with my husband. Evie went to work waiting tables that night just like she has done after every training run. I just have to say that I am not sure I could pull that off. WOW Evie Ultra, you are so ready for this!

Sunday, I was very tired. A nap was in order for me. A bonus that the entire family seemed tired and I snuggled with my daughter mid-afternoon.

My Garmin did die at 30 miles with the time of 6:05. I have finally broken down and ordered a new Garmin. Mine has been on the fritz since it was about 9-months old and I have a feeling THAT is why it is discontinued. It beeps non-stop and continually shifts screens at the sign of moisture (rain and sweat) until the battery dies. I have manually re-booted the watch when it freezes while charging at times. Nothing like getting up at 5am and finding out the charging Garmin is frozen and useless. It took issues with my iPod Nano to figure out that I could re-boot this Garmin. The battery never did last 8hrs as advertised. I did contact Garmin about the many issues, including that it would not sync correctly online. There were no answers. So I was not surprised when this model was discontinued a year after it was released.

The due date is coming, the work is done, and it's soon time to birth this 50mile Ultra in just 24 days.

Monday, July 22, 2013

What's Under the Hood?

I think of runners like cars. Just by looking, one can't tell what is under the hood. Yet there is still a broad judgement made by appearance—mostly by people that are non-runners. One can have a rusted-out beaten truck packing a roaring, powerful engine. Or, a sleek exterior that rumbles quietly, with no get up and go (or worse, runs out of gas at an intersection!). And this is one of the reasons I train and enjoy people watching on race day. Some of the warm-ups, well... It's like a strange spoof of So You Think You Can Dance. I do feel for those who have been injured and need to warm-up and stretch well. I am not talking about that routine. Maybe I am just not serious enough. But I had to look away at a recent 15k when witnessing the dance routines of one woman—who I was afraid was going to biff it on asphalt, followed by boys talking smack about their speed and my husband thought one of them looked like a girl. Yep, he was pretty with a nice head band alright. To each their own.

Sure, some people look fit or like thin sprinters and they are, but one can not tell the speed and endurance of the majority of runners—the normal people—at these races just by the outside presentation. I will never—oops I said never—be that skin and muscle on bone sprinter. I work with the genetics I have. But, what I can change is the conditioning of my engine from the inside. And that is golden.

I am very proud of my husband who says that I inspired him to start running a few months ago. He ran his first race—a 15k—with me two weeks ago. It was the first time he had reached that distance. I knew he was ready and had been consistently running 2-6 miles 3xs a week for a couple months and had been working out for a few years. He knew he was beyong a 5k and was looking at a 10k. But I figured he should run both at the same time...HA! It was time for him to experience the thrill of the event from the inside of the track. It was a great experience to pace him and pull him back when I felt he was going too fast with a huge hill coming at mile 5. Something happens in a race where people just get excited and go too fast in the start and run out of gas at some point. We ran that hill passing many who started walking. The rest of the run clicked on by, although my husband was wishing he was on his last lap on mile 7. A race in July is going to be HOT and that adds the possibility of over-heating. Not to mention the mental barrier, if one has never ran this far before. For the most part, we had an enjoyable run and I have a photo to prove it. On the last stretch, which is about 4 blocks on a parade route, he asked where the finishline was. When I told him it was at the end of the street, his response was "Oh God!" It was hot, he was hurting and he just wanted it over. Yet, in the last block he still found the strength to sprint and leave me 8 seconds behind. To his credit, he did ask for me to come with him, but my engine doesn't go under 8-minute miles at the end of any run. I told him to just go. I have no problem with him or other people getting the race experience they want.

I didn't feel like I was "racing" the 15k and was running happy.Yet, I had another PR by 6 whole minutes. With a few people hurly on the course—that's right, barfing—and at least one running into a fence at the end, I feel pretty good about that PR and this smooth ride.

Just what is roaring under my hood? My Ultra training has made me faster, stronger and running smarter. Yet my exterior, just doesn't show it, which I think I could change that by weight lifting and less cardio....but I am a runner after all. I have set 4 personal records this year—out of the 4 races I have ran. So I have to think, and not to sound cocky, that I know what I am doing. A rest day to me, has become a day that I workout just once. That's right.

A look at my weekly training plan:

I have had some lurking injuries that have pulled me back in spacing my tough hill repeats to the beginning of the week, so the long runs don't end with injury—part of running smarter. 30 repeats is grueling. That's on today's schedule with Insanity. Off for today's double workout!

Time for me to focus and drive.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Finding My Happy Pace...

I never thought I would run below 9 minute miles, and am still in awe that I did it and did it for 13.1.  For someone who started running so slow and so late in life, it just feels magical to me. I feel like I have nothing left when I finish and can't imagine finding more, but I do. What an awesome journey to become better than I was yesterday.

Another PR in my Rock40 year: 1:55.03. A 3.5 minute PR. Breaking 2 hours was such a feat in March and it didn't come easy. I remember how it felt to push so hard and demand more than I had ever put out there and to believe without seeing it. And yet, I did it again two weekends ago with less angst. (Sorry, it took me a while to post this one.) Sure I have trained a few more months now, but I have not been doing much speed work. Actually, I can count the days I feel speedy on one hand and it isn't planned. So my speed and strength is coming from my cross training, which I will go into on another post.

I had all the mental strength I needed. I have been experiencing some lower leg pain and decided to base whether I was going to run this one for enjoyment—run casual—or "race it" on how my leg was feeling the morning of. If it started hurting, I needed to pull back. 8:50 would be my finishing average goal pace, in which I had to take in account the slop out and incline coming back.  That is 13 seconds per mile faster than my last PR in March. I was a little worried in the beginning thinking that I just wasn't feeling it and already pulling out the tough love. But it worked. Faith over fear. Choose faith. And to those that say I cannot, watch me!!

I kept watch of my pace mile after mile and knew I was still in it. I looked for a good pacer person and found myself passing people that seemed strong for a while but I had to stay on track. I found one veteran runner that was running strong in the second half and focussed on his hat. Yes, my pacer at last.
Chasing him down was rough. I felt like laughing at one moment, because I felt like he just might kill me and the wheels may come off this bus. He slowed in the last 2 miles so I left him and went on. I couldn't let go.

In the last mile I thought of one of my power songs that wasn't even playing on my iPod. You must be willing to bleed and I was. You have to want it more I told myself, and I did. I passed quite a few people in those last couple of miles that had ran out of gas. I actually was willing to puke. I felt ill going around a corner. I even looked at the roadside and thought about how much time that would cost me. Luckily pushing thru it, it passed.

8:47/8:27/9:01/8:57/8:52/8:22/8:33/9:12/8:49/8:29/8:40/8:56/8:31/8:19 last .25
Mama has some powerful legs. Look at all the boys behind me!