Friday, April 26, 2013

VCM Training Week 9: More than Halfway

Week 9 (3.25.13 to 3.31.13):

Monday: 5 mile tempo run on TM- built up to 7:35 pace for middle mile  (weights)
Tuesday: 40 minutes weights and core strength (5 miles)
Wednesday:  1 Hour Spin Class (CT cardio)
Thursday: 4.76 miles at 8:00 mm pace (5 miles)
Friday: rest (rest)
Saturday: 16.01 miles at 9:13 pace (16 mile long run)
Sunday: 1.92 miles and 1 hour 15 minutes of intense frisbee (5 miles)
Total:  30.69 miles of running

Having gotten behind on blog posts again, it didn't occur to me during Week 9 that I was halfway through my training plan. Instead, I was just going through the motions of my daily workouts and having a blast. I had two wonderfully speedy midweek runs and I hauled my ass to the gym for a 6AM spin class with my favorite instructor for the first time.

To top off the fun week, I got to run 16 miles under the wing of my marathon runner friend Nikki which took some of the stress out of it. The night before, I went to bed feeling kind of like I do the night before a race. I was giddy, nervous and excited. We ran an 8 mile out and back to and around Haines Point. The only time I'd ever run there was during the Run for the Parks 10k in October and I loved it. I've since done two more of my runs there. It is flat, scenic and peaceful.

Nikki and I do short runs together fairly frequently but hadn't run longer than 5 or six miles together in years. The last long run I did with someone else was with Hadley in August 2011 and, before that, the last was the National Half with Nikki in March 2011. So, at about mile 8, it became clear that talking wasn't going to come easy for the whole run. For the second half, I let Nikki do more of the talking and, a few times, asked to just run quietly. At mile 12, I got a pretty bad cramp, something that hasn't happened to me at all during training. I'm sure it was from many miles of chatting and running which I think is kind of cool. It's interesting what a different workout it is for your lungs and I like to think of it as good training for when I want to cheer back at spectators on the marathon course.

Around mile 14, my legs were just dead. Every step felt like wading through mud. But we pushed on and finished 16.01 miles just below Woodley Park at a 9:13 pace. Another nice thing about this run is that I hardly paid attention to my garmin. Until the last few miles, when I had to keep checking to make sure I wasn't doing something like a 20 minute mile, we just cruised along at a comfortable pace. It was less hilly than many of my other runs so that accounts for some of it but I was really proud of our comfortable pace for 16 miles. Probably still faster than Hal Higdon would advise we go but whatever.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Some Things About Boston

Last week, I planned to publish a bunch of catch-up posts about VCM training and my trip to California. But I didn't want to say anything more about running before I said something about Boston. I started to write about it two different times and got stuck. It seemed like nothing I had to say mattered and I couldn't come up with the right words. So I read what other people had to say instead.

Instead of trying a third time, I'm just going to share with you some articles and blog posts that moved me over the last week.

Emily's powerful thoughts and analysis - A DC running and tri blogger who has run Boston twice.

A story about the dad of a guy I went to high school with who was aiming to break a record for most consecutive Boston marathons run.

A Vermont running blogger who was spectating in Boston a few hours before the attack.

Runner's World - The Boston Bombings: A Loss of Innocence

An article about the winners and how their victory means so little in the face of what happened.

A first-hand account from pro distance runner Lauren Fleshman.

A blog post on the Vermont City Marathon blog with a note from the race director.

There are, of course, so many more. This is something that will affect the running community and the country for a long time. But it has shown how much good there is in people in the face of such un-explainable evil. People will persevere and people will keep running. And we'll think about the people of Boston and those who lost their lives every time we run.

Monday, April 15, 2013

VCM Training Week 8: Lessons in Intensity

Week 8 (3.18.13 to 3.24.13):

Monday:  40 minutes weights (weights)
Tuesday:  4.15 miles at 8:01 pace (4 miles)
Wednesday:  Hill repeats: 8 x 240 meter uphill sprints- walks downhill between each (CT cardio)
Thursday: 4 miles tempo with .5 miles at 8:49, 8:19, 7:35, 6:53 and back (4 miles)
Friday: rest (rest)
Saturday: 14.21 miles at 9:30 pace (14 mile long run)
Sunday: 45 minutes frisbee (3 miles/frisbee)
Total:  28.06 miles of running

At the beginning of week 8, I found myself googling hill workouts and learned a valuable lesson on the intensity of various runs during marathon training. The main take-away was something that I remember reading in Born to Run last year: that most people do their slow runs too fast and their fast runs too slow. According to Hal Higdon, long runs should be done 30 to 90 seconds or more per mile than their marathon pace. The problem with this, for me, was that I had no idea what my marathon goal pace should be. But I knew it certainly wouldn't be a 9:00 minute mile or faster, which I had been maintaining on most of my long runs.

So I started off the week with a more specific plan. I pushed myself harder than I had been on all three shorter runs and I did my first set of hill repeats. I hadn't done these since my high school soccer days but doing them by myself on a concrete sidewalk was very different than doing them surrounded by my team on a grassy hill in cleats. They were hard and I felt like I might vomit at the end of each. But I felt strong and ready to do another by the time I had walked down the hill to my starting point. I ended up doing 8 repeats of 240 meters/.15 miles with a one mile warm up and a half mile cool down.

The best part of this whole "intensity" lesson was what it did for me mentally. Alleviating the pressure to push myself and do my long runs as fast as possible made them much less scary. This couldn't have come at a better time, as week 8's long run began a series of "longest runs I've ever done" which were very scary for me. I incorporated a fair amount of rolling hills into my long run, something I'm aiming to do in anticipation of Vermont's mountains, and finished 14.21 miles at a 9:30 pace. I still think this is faster than my marathon pace (I would be shocked to be able to keep such a pace on race day) but it was still significantly slower than I've done my short runs so it seemed like a compromise.

I finished this 14 miler the happiest I've been at the end of any long run. Something about the fact that it was the longest run I'd ever done (and was the first of these) made it very emotional. I finished 14.2 miles on a sunny Saturday morning with many people walking around my neighborhood and I felt like I would cry happy tears. I was on some kind of runner's high and it felt wonderful.