Monday, April 14, 2008

Me, Myself & I

Looking back on my huge weekend of April 5-6, I realized that it was the first time I could remember running with company on two consecutive days. On Saturday, amidst 300 runners, I set a 5K PR. On Sunday, I ran my first "fully accompanied" long run ever. This past weekend was much more solitary, and I think the "results" show that there's definitely strength in numbers.


This past Saturday, my training plan called for an 8-15K race (5 to almost 10 miles). I had made a commitment long ago to teach a seminar, and thus a race was not an option. I concocted a crazy scheme where I had convinced a very fast co-worker (former 2:44 marathoner and 34:00 10K runner, who now prefers cycling for non-impact exercise) to pace me to a 10K PR in a simulated race setting. Things didn't quite work out that way, and here's a list of reasons (equal parts explanations and excuses) why:
  • My colleague backed out on me when the weather unexpectedly turned nice (forecast called for 40's & rain) and instead it was sunny and almost 70
  • The 68-degree temps when I set out at 4:45 pm was about 20-30 degrees warmer than what I've been running
  • It was an awkward time of day for me to run
  • By mile 3, my nagging hip problem flared up (I assume because it was my 3rd day of fast running in the past 8, a lot for me)
  • I felt dehydrated
  • Just around the 4-mile mark, I was chased by a small pug, whose little-girl owner freaked out (since it was darting in & out of traffic on a pretty busy street), so I stopped to help her catch the dog

I did what I could to salvage the effort by running the time trial through 5 miles (a hair over 8K, which was the minimum prescribed race distance). I finished the last 0.75 or so mile at the local track, and my splits were as follows:

  • Mile 1 - 6:55 (virtually all a slight to moderate uphill)
  • Mile 2 - 6:39 (some downhill)
  • Mile 3 - 6:54 (flat & uphill; hip flared up)
  • Mile 4 - 6:48 (running time; stopped watch for the dog chase incident)
  • Mile 5 - 6:17 (was kind of mad, and used the track as noted above)

New (unofficial) 5-mile PR = 33:33. Last year, my best 8K race time (on essentially the same course, but run in the opposite direction) was 34:20-something.

The only thing that bummed me out about this run is the sore hip, which had not been a real issue during this whole cycle. It seems okay during slower-paced running, but I have 5 scheduled speed-work sessions left in this training program, and wonder whether to tone them down. The good news is that I don't think I'm "injured", per se, just hopefully sore from the exertion (and possible from not stretching enough before & after). We'll see what wonders my chiropractor can work on me.


Marathon training certainly brings new meaning to the old adage of "no rest for the weary", especially when following some of the more demanding schedules. Sunday called for 17 miles, which I set out to do solo, as has been my custom over the past year-and-a-half. I chose a twist on a familiar route, which made for an ugly first 6 miles on a trafficky, industrial road (but it was pretty flat, if quite windy), but then I hit the hilly, woodsy area which made it worthwhile. I was definitely stiff & sore, but it didn't seem to affect my stride or pace, so the run was pretty manageable. The weather had changed back to cool, cloudy, misty conditions, with temps in the low- to mid-40's, not bad for a long run. I wore shorts, a long-sleeve tech top and my favorite running vest, which protects against wind in the front, but has a mesh back to avoid overheating. A light hat and convertible mittens made me pretty comfortable.

My running "companions" were podcasts featuring Steve Runner, who described the state of the Boston Marathon course for this year's race, and Ira Glass, hosting an excellent installment of This American Life, about how families never really change. It was TAL at its best: funny, poignant, sad, thought-provoking, perfect listening for a mellow long run.

At about mile 9, I stopped at a small country store to refill my water bottles and encountered one of the members of my running club. He's a 65 year-old longtime runner looking to get back to Boston (he ran it 17 times in his 40's and 50's). We ran together for about 3 miles (he was out for 8 as he nurses a hamstring injury) and he shared racing stories and training advice. We parted ways and I then ran into another guy from the club, finishing up his own extra hilly 8-miler as he prepares for an insane June race, the Mount Washington Road Race, 7.6 miles STRAIGHT UP the highest mountain in the northeastern U.S. The more my running chums describe it to me, the less desire I have to do it, though it certainly falls into the "unforgettable running experience" category.

I didn't pay too much attention to my pace on Sunday, but did push it a bit in the last 4 miles or so, where I ran between 8:30 and 8:45 per mile. The overall pace for the run was just over 9:00/mile. Though I felt tired, I felt readily able to run faster and longer if I'd had to, which is a pretty good feeling given where I am in my training right now.


Here's this week's planned schedule:

  • Monday - cross-train/weights/core/stretching
  • Tuesday - 8M (General Aerobic)
  • Wednesday - 9M, with 5x1000 at 5K pace (depending on the hip)
  • Thursday - Cross-train & stretch
  • Friday - 12M
  • Saturday - 5M
  • Sunday - 17M, with 14M at goal marathon pace (to be done in Boston after the women's Olympic Marathon Trials - separate post to follow)

Total mileage = 51 miles.

Hope everyone's week goes well. Thanks for reading.


No comments: