Saturday, October 3, 2009

Training is such sweet sorrow

As my 3rd Marathon training season starts to wind down, I can't help but think.

This season has been many things to me. Horrible. Wonderful. A milestone. Enlightening. Hot. Inspiring. Difficult. Rewarding. It's brought about my best running, and indeed, some of my worst. And soon, it will be over. I'm excited about this for a couple of reasons:
  • The big show (Marine Corp Marathon)
  • I heart the off season (a.k.a. Winter)
But as the MCM nears, I can't help but want to keep going after it's over. To find my upper bound. To top where I'm at now. I feel like I've surpassed a longstanding plateau in my running and that I've only begun to see what I can do. We'll see how I fare on race-day. If things go as I hope during the Marathon, then Winters off may be a thing of the past.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Blast from the Past!

It has been a while since Dave and I have posted anything on our training but things are going really well thus far. It hasn't been easy and sleep has taken a back seat as sometimes the only time to run is at 5am after running 10 miles the night before. Wait, that's what happened today.

This morning I headed to the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge to watch the sun rise and at my turnaround point I wasn't across the bridge so I kept going. The bridge connects Old Town Alexandria with the newly built up National Harbor in Maryland. It has a great pedestrian path with little niches that have telescopes to check out the view. It's really beautiful up there and kept my interest level high which is hard to do at that hour.

Few other quick tidbits about what's going on in our lives:
* My siblings and I went to Trapeze School for my sister's birthday
* Dave and I moved in together
* We have yet to even come close to killing each other
* Dave and I both ran a PR in the local Rockville Twilighter 8k
* We ran that PR after running 13 miles and biking 8 that morning
* Dave owns part of an island in Michigan
* We ran 16 miles on the island on a dirt path looking at nothing but trees
* During that 16 mile run a nice man caught up with me and we ran together. He told me he has never seen another human running on the island let alone at the same pace at the same time
* I'm leaving my job in less than a month
* After I had "the talk" with my boss I went out for my second run of the day and knocked out 7.5 miles just trying to digest the situation

Lastly, Dave and I are having a housewarming party on Aug 22nd and plan on putting a donation basket out to get people ramped up again. Jonathon's mom (my aunt) just got married last week (congrats!) and we are so happy for her.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

This kid is serious. I mean, look at his watch!

After a couple years of half-fast and half-serious marathon training/racing I find that it's time for a change in approach.

I've set some pretty ambitious goals for this year's Marine Corp. Marathon and in order to reach them, I will need to be whole-serious. I'm aiming to slice 51 minutes off of last year's time. Bringing me from a meh 4:36:and change to a solid 3:45. To reach these goals I find that I'm going to need some help (and a few more speed workouts!).

Keeping track of pace has been hit or miss with my current sports watch. I tend not to know the mile markers on my runs and ultimately just shoot for an accurate total run time then figure out the average after the fact. This really doesn't offer me the insight into my performance over time that I'm hoping for. And, the buttons on the watch have become a bit dodgy. They tend to only work if you press them at a funny angle with a hefty amount of pressure. I'd like to think that this makes my watch unique and special. But really it's just annoying.

After reading a couple of reviews, talking with fellow Fun Runners, and obsessively comparing models and pricing I opted to get a Garmin Forerunner 405 last week. *rapture*

Now I've only had a chance to take it with me on a couple of runs and bike rides. But in that short span it's been pretty enlightening.

I've never seen the big allure to GPS watches, until now. It's the right tool for the job.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Need For Speed

The unofficial training season for Marine Corps has begun which means I start including hills, 800s, and mile repeats on a weekly rotation. This week marks the end of the first series and I have concluded that all hurt like hell and make a world of difference. Already, I feel so much stronger and faster - plus I have the results to back it up.

Thanks to my incredibly awesome GPS watch (Garmin Forerunner 405) I have all the stats on my latest runs including average pace, elevation, calories, distance, max speed... the list goes on. Here is a link to my run on Tuesday, which was by far the fastest I've ever run this route. (**sidenote** Garmin Connect is the website that wirelessly collects the data from the GPS watch. The info and stats it collects is mind boggling to me and I just learned how to use it on Wednesday after having the watch since December. If you click on player at the top right you can actually watch how I ran this course). This is only one of a few runs where I've beaten my pr by a landslide. It's an awesome feeling. Plus, I really enjoy doing hills/speedwork. I had a coach who used to tell me before matches to love the hurt, to love the fight. It actually is beautiful in a way to struggle and then prevail. Think of all the sports movies in the world and the team or athlete always goes through that type of transformation.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a beautiful day thank goodness since we've seen nothing but rain the past two days. I've got a 14 mile run on the Mount Vernon Trail and I'm excited to see what I can do in the next few months.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Another weekend another race success!

Last weekend's adventure race was the most fun running experience I've had in a long time - and best of all Dave and I got to do it together! I know that sounds cheesy but when you finish something exciting and new it always makes it better to have someone else to compare stories and share favorite parts, and this guy was in my way, did you get lost? And oh my gosh the stairs were so awesome!

There was no chip for the race so they started in waves based on your estimated time of finishing. Dave and I were in the second wave (the way end of the second wave) which made for a very slow start. I had a hard time visualizing what exactly an off-road race would look like so I defaulted to sticking with the herd and tracking other people's footsteps. Early in the race we made a turn and ended up running on the side of the road which was disappointing at first but that did last long (later I would be wishing for some pavement). We went over a bridge overlooking downtown Richmond which was pretty cool, then ran through some packed earth for a while, and then came the stairs. These are no ordinary stairs. They are hands and legs stairs, meaning you are literally clawing at earth trying to get up this thing. Meanwhile, I've got a disposable camera in my hand trying to take pictures during the entire run.

The whole middle part of the run is kind of blurry for me. My main goal was not to fall. I'm kind of prissy when it comes to steep downhills and jumping over obstacles. I was literally coming to a stop when there was a big log or something in the way because I'm not comfortable with my jumping skills. Dave on the other hand, I learned, was flying over these things like they were nothing. To make up for lost time I was sprinting at every opportunity I had - which was pretty much any straightaway.

The trail running community is really different than road runners. They're not as cut-throat competitive and more encouraging and into the group effort. It seems like trail runners are more into it for the experience and not for the race PR (personal record). During the forest trail part of the race where only one person could fit at a time runners would yell back to see if they needed to pull over for someone to pass. Things like that don't usually happen in road races. I will fight someone for the cup of water and cut someone off to get ahead of them before a turn.

At the home stretch of the race this guy comes running up behind me yelling, "Hey girl! Hey girl don't let me catch you! Don't let me beat you!" We booked it to the finish screaming out of exhaustion (and I did beat him). It was an incredible race. Unfortunately my running/picture taking abilities aren't quite there yet so they don't do the experience justice. And although I probably didn't explain it much better, it's best to go out and see it for yourself.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Off to the races

Saturday morning Dave and I will be headed to Richmond for our first adventure race, the James River Scramble 10k. I don't know too much about the race except that there will be large rock jumping and steep stair climbing and narrow bridge crossing. Supposedly these races are very fun and very addictive so it will be interesting to see if this leads to larger adventure/trail races in the future.

After the race there will be a whole host of activities in the area such as Ultimate Air Dogs (which is some competition where dogs catch a frisbee of sorts as they jump off a deck into a pool. I'm a big fan of this picture by the way). There's also a professional mountain bike race and a pub crawl. This race and our overnight stay in Richmond is Dave's extended birthday present so it is pretty safe to say that beer will be involved in this trip.

As a follow-up to my previous post, the bike ride home to Maryland was awesome though it wasn't the epic bike adventure I imagined it to be (did I really think it was 40 miles to get home?) The ride was actually more like 20 miles but I was riding against the wind the entire time so I'll pretend my effort was the equivalent of a 40 mile ride. I came home to an empty house and had to climb in through the back window while the men working on our lawn curiously watched me break into my own house. After I devoured the contents in the fridge my mom, sister, and I got pedicures and went shopping. Then we proceeded to eat and drink the rest of the night. It was an awesome Mother's day.

So, back to the present - I'm really excited for this race especially since it's something I've never done before and there's no pressure of time goals or qualifying for anything. Dave and I will be equipped with digital or disposable cameras (I can't decide which would work better) so there will be lots of great pics to post next week. Wish us luck!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Bum knee and a new toy!

Of all the ways I could have injured my knee, I would never have thought it would be in yoga attempting this pose. It's nothing serious (hopefully) but as I was attempting to lower to the ground I heard and felt a pop in my knee. It was just really tingly at first and then as the day progressed it swelled a bit and formed a little lump on the side of my knee. I iced it a few times that day and made an emergency stop to my chiropractor (aka the Miracle Healer). The next few days it started to feel better but I was not going to test my luck by running.

So instead, I thought I'd take it easy and just go for a long bike ride. And what better way to get motivated for a bike ride then to add a new toy to the mix? I bought some bright pink clipless pedals and awesome space shoes to go with it.

My adventure with clipless pedals began on the street Dave lives on. I was just practicing starting and stopping using the clipless pedals. It's a little scary being attached to your bike. (It's kind of why I'm hesitant about cayaking - if you flip you have to be able to get yourself back up while attached to the kayak!) Anyway, I had no issues whatsoever during practice. I actually thought it was really easy. Dave gave me a kiss goodbye and wished me luck and off I went!

About 30 seconds into my ride I get to the first traffic light which happened to be at a major intersection. I saw the red light way ahead and thought about taking my foot out early just to be sure but it was so far away I thought it would be silly. So I'm getting closer and therefore needing to get my foot out but it's completely stuck. I'm turning my foot out as far as it will possibly go but no dice. I actually start turning right on the road so I could keep pedling and keep trying to get my foot out. It was a complete fail. I just stopped and let myself fall on my left side, landing smack on my left knee (which is now my good knee yay!) Then I proceded to laugh and myself for the next 5 minutes. I took pictures of my bloody knee and sent it to Dave and my Mom. Nothing like a pressure situation to show you whether you really know something or not.

After I fell I realized I forgot my helmet in my car and needed to go meet up with Dave who was then about 8 miles away. The direction I had to ride to get to him was completely against the wind. Then it started to rain. But, I stuck with it and once I got my helmet and got moving with the wind at my back I started to get into a groove. I ended up riding 31 miles and felt like I could have kept going except that I desperately needed some padded ass shorts and my neck was all tense from being hunched over. It was awesome though and I am officially hooked.

As for my knee, I ran 6.5 miles on Tuesday and it felt fine, but later that night it definitely felt aggrivated. Instead of running I just biked the rest of the week. I am going to try to run 10.2 miles tomorrow with the group so I'm crossing my fingers for no knee pain. Wish me luck!