Monday, September 12, 2011

4 weeks out...confidence increasing!

My first half marathon in over 2 years is coming up in 27 days and I'm nervous and excited. I want to run well, but there are always those little uncertainties that creep in and threaten my confidence. Will it be too warm for me to run well?  Will I give up at mile 5 before I've really gotten into a comfortable rhythm? Will I got out too fast and screw up the whole race? And the biggest one of all - will my Achilles tendon be okay?

I haven't run 12 miles since my last marathon in February. I ran 11 in March plus several 10 milers both on the treadmill and outside this summer. But 12 is kind of the "holy grail" for me when it comes to half marathon training. It's only 1.1 miles short of the half marathon, and I know I can always push through just one more mile, so if I can get in a decent 12 miler I have the confidence going into the race, knowing that my body will hold up.  I did my 12 miler yesterday morning, taking advantage of the lower morning temperatures and lower humidity. It was 11 days after my last long run of 10 miles, so I felt fairly rested and very much ready for the challenge.

When I woke up at 5am it was 71 degrees and only about 40% humidity. It was projected to drop a couple of degrees over the course of the next 2 hours so I was going to be in great shape weather-wise. My ankle felt "okay," a bit tight but not in pain. I was hydrated and fueled.

I forgot how incredibly peaceful it can be when you're running at 5:30am. It was absolutely beautiful out, with a nice full moon to help with visibility. I didn't see a lot of other runners out at all, which surprised me. Although they are more likely to be out on Saturdays, and this was a Sunday. I took it very easy the first couple of miles and was actually surprised that my quads felt slightly fatigued. I had run 4 miles with my training group (in a conservative 39 minutes) the day before, but I didn't figure that would make too much of a difference in how my legs felt. I'm definitely not used to running the day before a long run so perhaps that made a bit of a difference in how my legs felt. I shook it off and just focused on maintaining a nice pace.

After a few miles I definitely was getting into a groove. I felt like I could keep running a little bit faster with every mile. I could feel a bit of fatigue as I crept up on double digits in my mileage, but that was to be expected. The middle miles flew by fairly quickly. I missed this feeling! It's been awhile :) The only thing that was slightly unnerving to me was that my ankle felt kind of tight during the run. I wouldn't call it painful, but I was aware of the tendinitis.

I did a couple things differently in this run. Instead of hydrating with a sports drink like Pure Sport, I was using Nuun (very few calories) and getting my calories during the run strictly with gels. Usually I go lighter on the gels because I'm fueling with a calorie-filled sports drink. I prefer Nuun more than anything else now, so I wanted to test it out. Second, I never looked at my pace on my Garmin. I checked my mile splits to see if I was slowly increasing my pace, but I strictly did this run by feel.

I'd say these two things were a huge success. The Nuun and extra gel worked great. I never felt super fatigued or under-fueled. By focusing less on "expected" pace and more on feel, I was able to listen to my body better and it paid me back with almost perfect negative splits: 10:00, 9:56, 9:45, 9:42, 9:37, 9:27, 9:26, 9:20, 9:18, 9:12, 9:03, 9:05 for just under 1 hour, 54 minutes in 12 miles.  It didn't feel like I was running that much quicker at the end of the run versus the beginning, and that's always my make a quicker pace feel natural to me. In a race, if I kept this up and gave it my all during that last mile, I could potentially have a 2:03 half marathon time. I would be THRILLED with a 2:03.

So I think I was able to accomplish what I set out to do: comfortably finish a 12 mile run, do it with little Achilles pain, fuel and hydrate properly, have negative splits, and build confidence going into my half marathon.

Bring it on!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

An update, stream of consciousness, and what's coming up

I'm really trying to figure out this whole blogging thing.  I'm terrible about keeping it regular, I'm terrible about keeping up with my favorite blogs, I'm terrible about commenting on those blogs, I'm terrible about putting time aside to dedicate to all of the above.

But I still love this. Blogging is pretty great.

An update on me...

Last time I left you with crappy negative thoughts and a new injury.  I'm trying to ignore the crappy people that give me crappy thoughts, and I'm doing okay with that. I saw my buddy the podiatrist (Dr. Scott Pattison) and he was really nice to me even after I completely forgot about my first appointment. He didn't even give me a shot or anything as punishment. He didn't even tell me to really rest much! My Achilles tendinitis is minor at this point but does need some TLC. Icing and this nifty anti-inflammatory cream that I rub on my ankle 4 times per day. And stretching. And changing things up a cross training and not so much treadmill work.  I think I may actually survive this thing.

Stream of consciousness...

I've had all sorts of little ideas I've had for blog posts but since I suck at blogging, I'm just going to throw a bunch of random things at you instead of actually sitting down for an extended period of time and writing an entire blog post about said ideas.

1. I miss my sister. It totally sucks. This has been a terrible couple of weeks for me grief-wise. She's been gone for 2 years and 1 month and her birthday (#40) just passed. The tears are pretty regular and come at inopportune times.

2. I need to find more time to scrapbook. It used to be a passion. I need to rediscover that passion. I have so many amazing, awesome, fabulous pictures and stories to tell from the past few years.

3. I ran a 5K yesterday. I started off at PR pace (24:40 is my PR) and I think I could have at least been at 25:15 or faster. But I stopped at a little over a mile in to help a friend with asthma problems. I was worried about her and didn't feel right continuing on, so we ran it together. We finished in 28:40. I'm pretty damn impressed by her. Still a great workout for me.

4. I'm worried about these wildfires. My husband left town this morning. I don't like being here worried without him. I thought I moved to Texas. The air looks like Los Angeles and the wildfires are so California-esque. I guess I've got quite a bit of familiarity with wildfires.

5. My kids will not stop arguing with each other. They are totally making me crazy. I can't really be in the same room with both of them for more than about 30 minutes at a time.  They are just awful to each other. Please let this phase pass for at least 5 minutes. Please.

6. Did I mention I miss my sister? It sucks. I REALLY miss her. I want her back. Can't someone make that happen already?

7. I'm tired of people who think they are better than others. Everyone needs a dose of humble pie.

8. We finally have a break in our excruciating heat. I may be off by a day or two but I think Austin had 80 days of 100+ degree temperatures. I believe yesterday was the first time it didn't hit 90 since May. This morning it was 61 degrees out when I woke up.  I have seen a sub-70 degree temp in so long I forgot what it felt like. I wore a jacket this morning.

9. I've started cooking more and finding fun new recipes. I kinda like it. But I also still like take-out and being lazy. I'm not much of a cook, but at least I'm trying.

10. I had a pretty fun and bizarre (for me) workout this morning. 50 flights of stairs. Upper body workout. Core work. 1.5 miles of walking at a 2-4% incline. Then I thought it would be swell to throw in a random 1 mile run. Started it at 8 mph, pushed it up to 8.4.  Mile ended up being 7:24. Not bad a day after a race, and after all that other exercise first. I was fatigued and ran a 7:24 mile. Feels good. Well, except for the shin splints.

11. I've never run a sub-7 minute mile. Next week I am going to do that.

What's coming up for me...

Today I am going to register for another race. My awesome friend Diana lives in Washington D.C. and she's the one who got me into running back in 2007.  We're going to run the Rock n Roll USA Half Marathon on March 17 in D.C. To run in our nation's capital sounds pretty much perfect to me. I get to see things like this:

My next race is the See Jane Run Half Marathon in Austin on October 9. I'm excited and nervous. I think my ankle will hold up just fine and I think I can turn a respectable performance. We'll see if it's a PR (1:59:26) performance, but I'm not necessarily training for that. First and foremost I need to take care of my ankle. I know I've gotten faster this summer, but we'll have to see how that translates to a long distance. And the weather in October can be pretty unpredictable. I have a lot of friends running, too, so I know that no matter what it will be a great time.

Did I mention that next week I'm going to run my very first sub-7 minute mile? I'll have my sweet hubby by my side.