Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Spring Recap

To catch up, I ran a lot of races, but none particularly well:
  • Shamrock 15k: I was pretty sick and just took it easy. 1:38:55, 10:38 pace
  • Flirt with Dirt 10k (trail): 1:08:07, 10:59 pace, 2nd AG
  • Athens Half-Marathon: So cold! 2:03:01, 9:23 pace
  • Glass City Half-Marathon: Solo run, hit a rough spot around mile 10. 2:04:48, 9:32 pace
  • Salt Fork Spring Challenge (10.4-mile trail run): Big improvement over previous year felt pretty good throughout. 2:08:20, 12:10 pace (last year was 2:21 or 2:22)
  • Cleveland Half-Marathon: Worst weather ever! 2:02:19, 9:20 pace
  • AkRUN & Crawl 5k: Night 5k that took place after a grueling 12-mile trail run. Short course. 25:15, 8:25 pace, 1st AG
  • Great Breweries 25k: Belgium! They had to reroute part of the course due to flooding, so it was even longer, about 15.75 miles. Super-hot and I was hungover. 3:24, 12:58 pace
Plus still running dogs once or twice a week. There, caught up. We went to Belgium last week (!!!), so I should recap that trip at some point. But mostly I use this to talk about my running, so let's talk. 

I registered for my first 50k (Conquer the Castle), and I am still not sure why. I haven't really wanted to do another marathon, I've been enjoying running trails more and I seem to like a summer challenge. On top of that, I also want to PR the 5k. I came close at the AkRUN & Crawl and that was AFTER running 12 miles on trails that morning. Seems possible. I am doing a 5k in a week and a half, and that should be a good baseline. I should be close to where I was when I last PRed. I'm hoping that through endurance and weekly 5k-focused workouts, I can PR the 5k later this summer -- BEFORE 50k training is in full force, probably. 

So this 50k is in November so I have time to train. My base right now isn't bad. I'm running mid-30s mostly (although last week was under 17 thanks to vacation). I'm trying to figure out my plan for the race, and I've ordered a first-time ultra book. I know I need to lean out and build up more strength, so let's see if I really do that. 

What I think about is that I'm good at preparing. I think about preparations for my marathon and for sub-2ing the half last year, and that gives me confidence that I can cover 31+ miles on trails without hating myself. Wish me luck!

Book Review: The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

The StorytellerThe Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm still giving this book 4 stars even though there were some things I'd change. LOVED Minka's story (hence 4 stars), but I wish Sage had been explored more, especially her relationship with Josef. Her relationships, in general, were a little too informed. Leo was kind of interesting, (view spoiler)

Interestingly enough, I toured a concentration camp in Belgium during the time I was reading this book, and that really helped me visualize the camp. It seems the author did a lot of research for this book, and it seemed very realistic.

I definitely could have done without Minka's fiction, though. Ughhhhh.

View all my reviews

Monday, February 15, 2016

Book Review: Station Eleven

Station ElevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Took me a while to get into it, but about halfway through, I was all in. I waver between three and four stars, and judging by how quickly I went through the second half, I'll round up.

When I finished, I wasn't ready for it to end. The way the author wove the characters together took a little too long for me, but generally there was good character work. The writing really helped me visualize the new world.

But I'll be honest: The Station Eleven thing was unnecessary for me.

View all my reviews

2016 Dirty Love 10k Trail Race

This was the third time I did the Dirty Love 10k. Each year, the conditions have been different. This year, it was pretty damn cold (1:16). Two years ago, it was snowing the entire time (1:32). Three years ago, it was warmer and the trail was in decent condition (1:20).

Course: 6.2 miles, trail, 542 feet of elevation gain
→ A lot of elevation for Ohio!

Weather: 10-12 degrees, sunny, no wind
→ Lack of wind was KEY.

Conditions: ~4 inches of snow on the trail, mostly packed, with some icy areas, nothing too treacherous

Gear: Brooks PureFlow 2 with screws, Injinji socks, CEP compression sleeves, Nike tights with windproof panel, thin Brooks tank, Craft half-zip, Nike Flash jacket, Mizuno Breath Thermo gloves with Sugoi windmitts, Nike hat, Buff
→ I was slightly overdressed. A lighter half-zip or a lighter jacket would have been perfect. Craft half-zip is THE.SHIT.

Time: 1:16:23 (old course PR: 1:20:14), 12:19 pace
→ According to my Garmin, I ran 6.1 so my pace was 12:32.

Heart rate: 172 average, 189 max
→ I didn't look at my HR at all during the run. According to the data, I hit my max several times.

I've been doing heart rate training and really trying to stick with it for four of six weekly runs. That means I've been running really slowly most of the time with the aim of keeping my HR under 150. That gets a little tricky with the dog running (and group running), and I feel like I'm cheating some because I know the reason my HR ends up in range is because dogs stop and sniff and poop a lot.

Let's back up to Saturday. I got up early, ran 3.6 miles slowly on the treadmill, headed out to breakfast (one big pancake & bacon!) and then went to Aaron's dad's house to watch the Olympic Trials. Later we went out to dinner at Old Prague where I had weiner schnitzel and dumplings for dinner. I had two beers throughout the day and a Nuun before bed. I went to bed around 11.

Race morning: The alarm went off at 6:45 and I got up around 7 am. I ate some cereal with almond milk (corn and wheat Chex mix) and drank a caffeinated Nuun. We got on the road around 8, so we got to North Chagrin Reservation around 9. We had a half-hour to get our bibs, warm up and use the bathroom before the race start at 9:30. After our warmup -- the run to/from the shelter to get our bibs -- I settled on wearing the PureFlow 2s with screws. Good decision. About 20 minutes before the race start, I ate a lemonade Roctane.

The race itself: The way it starts -- run across a field into the woods, cross a bridge and head uphill -- really puts you in position for a while. I stayed toward the back, and although it was frustrating, it was probably a good decision. It didn't leave me gassed for the rest of the race. But it did leave me with an incredibly slow first mile.

It starts to spread out, but I still had trouble jockeying for position. I'm not very aggressive and tend to let others set the pace. By halfway, I was over that and ready to move on. I spent the first few miles with two other women ahead of me, seemingly running stronger than I. By the fifth mile or so, I passed them -- for good. I was solo for a decent amount of time, but whenever I came upon someone, I was able to pass. Perhaps this means I took it too easy, but it felt good to feel so strong and to pass so many people. I don't think I was passed in the last two miles at all, although in the last mile, I could hear someone on my tail. When I passed two other people, that made it difficult for that person to get to me; he/she never did.

Mile 1: 15:59
Mile 2: 12:42
Mile 3: 12:05
Mile 4: 11:43
Mile 5: 11:51
Mile 6: 11:14
Nubbin: 8:06 pace

So clearly I wasn't speedy! But it was still better than before. Afterward, I had hot chocolate and two cookies, and then Aaron and I hit Five Guys on the way home. Great morning. Great way to start Valentine's Day!

I am just amazed at how good I felt throughout the race. I think the heart rate training is working! I haven't been following a program, just kind of making up my own, but I think running four days at 150 or less and then doing workouts or races for the other two runs is working. This is encouraging me to stick with it even when I have to run (so much!) slower than my friends.

Weekly Plan

I didn't add my weekly plan to the recap post, so I'm going to think through the week right now. I want to be flexible, but still keep building mileage and staying on track with HR training. I would like to get back to around 33 miles for the week, so generally that looks like 5 miles Monday-Thursday and 13 over the weekend. It shouldn't be a problem to hit strength two or three times, and we'll dog-run as the weather sees fit.
  • Monday: 45- to 60-minute HR run + strength + maintenance
  • Tuesday: 45- to 60-minute dog run + maintenance
  • Wednesday: 4-mile pub run (expected HR over aerobic limit) + maintenance
  • Thursday: 45- to 60-minute HR run + strength + maintenance (could be just dog run + maintenance)
  • Friday: rest
  • Saturday: 30- to 45-minute HR run + strength + maintenance
  • Sunday: 10-minute run (tentative plan: first half at 150 HR, second half at 160 HR) + maintenance // this might also be a mid-length trail run of 8 miles or so
"HR run" means keeping the heart rate under 150, but I'm thinking I'll let it go to 160 for my long runs. If I keep it under 150 for the first half and let it go to 160 for the second half, that should work okay (although I'll be dreadfully slow and make everyone wait way too long for me -- that's where HR training is really tricky). 

I'm also tracking my morning heart rate, and it seems that three beers results in a HR in the high 60s in the morning. I checked six mornings last week, and it averaged 65.5. I'm starting off well this week. I had two beers last night, and my HR was 59 this morning. That's a new low for me in the morning! (I just checked, and it's 56 right now.)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Training Recap - 02/08 through 02/14

Last week, I hit 33+ miles, so I wanted to be around 30 for this week. However with the 10k trail race on Sunday, I knew the weekend in running wouldn't be as much. Here's how it worked out:

30+ miles in six runs, including one trail (race)
1 legit strength session
1 extra core session
5 maintenance/Myrtl sessions

ETA: I checked my heart rate six mornings out of seven last week. I averaged 65.5. I would really like to see that drop to the low 60s. Beer consumption affects it (two versus three beers seems to be the line).

Pretty successful week, actually.

Monday: 4.82 miles in 1 hour (136 avg HR) + 20min strength & maintenance
It's weird: I was looking forward to running easy all day, but once it was time to run, I just wasn't feeling it. After 1.5 miles, I stopped running altogether, but about a mile later, I felt ready to run again. I was at home, so I did some full-body strength-training after. I really need to get more serious about that.

Old pic of Rajah
Tuesday: 4.61 miles in 1 hour (dog running, 145 avg HR) + Myrtl
I took two dogs out in the snow last night, and we moved pretty well considering all the stops they like to do. (Those stops are convenient for me, too, because they keep my heart rate down. I think that's cheating, but that's my life.) One of the dogs is a husky mix, so she was loving the snow. Rajah is a senior pup (11 years old!), but you'd never know it with the way she likes to run. With the snow coming down, I felt like we should be in a commercial.

Wednesday: 4.5 miles (10:49 pace, 162 avg HR) + Myrtl
It was cold and snowy for last night's run. The paths weren't very clear, which is why my HR was so high even though the pace was so slow. Also I was really hoping to hit 20 miles in my runs Monday-Thursday, and being short of 5 miles on Monday-Wednesday makes me need to hit just over 6 for Thursday. We'll see - that's a long time to run on the treadmill at a dreadfully slow pace. I don't think I foam-rolled at all, but I did do my normal Myrtl routine. 

Thursday: 6.1 miles running (11:47 pace, 145 avg HR) with 0.3 miles walking to cool down + 15 minutes core & Myrtl
I ended up at the gym for this (stupid snow). I'm on track for 30 miles for the week so that's good. Because I spent over an hour running at the gym, I went home after, but I got in some core work and my Myrtls while watching tv.

Friday: rest

Saturday: 3.61 miles (12:28 pace, 147 avg HR)
Spent ~45 minutes on the treadmill before heading out for the day. Nothing much to speak of. My HR was a little high, so I had to keep dropping the pace and/or walking to stay under 150. I had three beers the night before, so I think that was to blame. 

Sunday: Dirty Love 10k trail race (12:19 official pace, 172 avg HR with 189 max) + Myrtl
I definitely need to recap this, but it went well -- mostly because I felt really good throughout the race. Negative split, passed a lot of people.

ETA: Here's the race recap for the Dirty Love 10k.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Training Recap - 02/01 through 02/07

It's February, so it's time for shit to get real. I'm still worried about my calf, but easy running and lots of maintenance should keep it in check. Big jump in mileage this week, although a lot of it was easy and/or dog running. I tried daily 10-minute strength sessions, and that doesn't work for me. After not doing anything on Friday's rest day, I just gave up. I'll go back to trying to do strength twice a week. No cross-training this week, and now that I'm running so very easy most of the time, I'm guessing XT won't happen.

6 runs in 6 days (4.5trail)
33+ miles
155 average heart rate, 179 max heart rate
65 average resting heart rate
4 strength (short sessions)
0 XT
5 maintenance (foam-rolling, stretching, Myrtl)

Sunday's trail run at Plateau Trail
Monday: 5.24 miles in 1 hour (11:27 pace, 146 avg HR) + 10-15 min of strength (lower) & maintenance
I headed home after work and just hopped on the treadmill for an hour, still doing that low HR thing. I watched some Buffy while running, and by the end, I had to drop the pace horrifyingly low to keep my HR from being too high. Trust the process, trust the process.

I'm aiming for at least 10 minutes of strength work per day, so Monday was lower body (squats, one-legged squats, Myrtls, etc.).

Tuesday: 5.25 miles (dog running, 143 avg HR) + 10-15 min of strength (core, upper) & maintenance
I took three dogs out: Minnie, Buddy and Carlita. All of them were easy-going joys! Young Minnie continues her recovery from surgery, Buddy is young and Carlita is older. <3

Wednesday: 5 miles (9:41 average w/ middle 3 at 9:10, 172 avg HR) + 10-15 min of strength (lower) & maintenance
Group run night! Except I decided to pick up the pace at the 2-mile turnaround so I ran 2 miles solo and then Aaron joined me for a cooldown mile. I ran my fastest mile of the year so far: 8:29. Max HR was 189. Felt pretty good.

Thursday: 4.25 miles (dog running, 146 avg HR) + 10 min of strength (upper)
Another dog running night! No one new, but two dogs who needed to go out. Bernice (my little project) and Karma are both in the back, and I think it's hard on them. They both pulled more than usual, so there must have been something in the air.

Friday: rest

Saturday: 9 miles (Hadd test, 1:45, 160 avg HR) + maintenance
See this post for details of the Hadd test, but a lot of this run was VERY slow because it was based on heart rate. I felt good, though, and I'm looking forward to repeating the workout in six weeks. Also it's kind of fun not worrying about pace at all, just going by HR.

Sunday: 4.5 miles (trail, 163 avg HR) + foam-rolling
Beautiful morning for a trail run! I felt pretty good too. There's something to this slow running.

Upcoming week:
Monday: 45-60 minutes easy + strength
Tuesday: dog running (may switch w/ Thursday)
Wednesday: 5-6 miles (speed)
Thursday: 45-60 minutes easy + strength (could always be dogs)
Friday: rest
Saturday: 3-4 miles easy
Sunday: 10k trail race

January Recap

(Oops - never finished this so I never published it.)

Given the weird calf issues and general out-of-shapeness, January turned out okay:

Walk/RunRunAvg RunRunsTrailDog

Fast MileSpeedAvg PaceTimeper day


I also started doing more heart rate training, so I'm not even going to really look at my overall pace. I've slowed WAY down (which is fine and to be expected), but it will be useful as HR training progresses, right?

I've also started tracking my average resting heart rate (first thing in the morning, before getting up). I only have four days in January, and the average was 64.5.

Heart Rate
AvgMaxRestAerobicToo High

* The only race I did in January was the Dirty Snowflake Prediction Run where I finished third.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Hadd Test

I did my first Hadd test on Saturday morning. It's basically 5x2400 with 90 seconds rest at varying heart rates. I structured mine like this:
 1.5 miles at 140 HR
 1.5 miles at 150 HR
 1.5 miles at 160 HR
 1.5 miles at 170 HR
 1.5 miles at 180 HR
 1.5 miles cooldown
So 9 miles, which was the farthest I'd run in quite some time. My results:
 9 miles in 1:45:17 at 11:42 pace
 142 at 13:59 pace
 151 at 13:21 pace
 161 at 11:45 pace
 171 at 10:15 pace
 181 at 9:09 pace
Newton Gravity IV
The first two repeats were dreadfully slow. In the first one, I stopped to walk a lot. Second was better, although there were a couple of walk breaks. Third and fourth, I felt normal. Fifth, I felt like I was pushing some, but generally felt fine. I think I'm used to being at a higher heart rate.

There's not much to say right now as this is really a baseline result. Clearly my heart rate is too high, which indicates poor aerobic conditioning. I'm looking forward to repeating the test in six weeks to see if I've improved. 

Overall, I enjoyed the workout. It was pretty easy/very comfortable for much of the run, and I looked forward to pushing the pace on the last rep. I've since adjusted the workout on my watch because I had the target pace at the top of the intensity range. That meant even at 1 or 2 beats over, the watch was alerting me. I changed the alert so that now, for example, the range is 148 to 153 for a target 150 HR. That should work better. 

Nutrition notes: I did go out Friday night to a beer tasting and to a bar. I had soup, a taco and chips for dinner (along with a Diet Coke). Between the tasting and the bar, I probably had three pints. I went to bed around 11:30 and got up around 7:30, so decent night's sleep. I ate a bagel (half with butter and half with pb&j) and drank a cherry lime caffeinated Nuun before the run. It was around 30 and sunny for the run itself. I carried water and took a Roctane strawberry kiwi gel at 4.5 miles. 

Gear notes: I wore Saucony convertible gloves, Brooks ear warmer, Brooks Utopia tights, pink Nike top with kangaroo pocket, Injinji socks (of course), Newton Gravity IVs. Fourth and longest run in the Gravity IVs, and they're dirty AF. I think I like them, and I am totally bummed that my store isn't carrying Newtons anymore. 

Monday, February 01, 2016

Training Recap - 01/25 through 01/31

Last week of January! Because of everything going on this week, the goal was 6 runs for mileage in the mid 20s plus one strength session and lots of foam-rolling/stretching/Myrtls. I also planned to start heart rate training and to check my resting heart rate first thing in the morning. The initial plan is to keep my heart rate under 150 for every run except for the Wednesday group run (knowing that it's dark and I don't want to run alone). How did I do?

6 runs in 5 days (0 trail)
26+ miles
148 average heart rate, 166 max heart rate
1 strength
0 XT
4 maintenance (foam-rolling, stretching, Myrtl)
1 massage

Monday: 3.79 miles (11:52 pace, 150 avg HR) + strength + maintenance
Despite the nice 40+ temps and clear skies, I headed to the gym. Training by heart rate means everything takes way longer. I walked first and then started slowly jogging, and I still had to take a walk break or two to keep my heart rate under 150. Frustrating.

Tuesday: 4.95 miles (dog running, 147 avg HR) + maintenance
I ran three dogs: Minnie for almost two miles, Bernice for over two miles and Sandy for the remainder. Luckily the dogs like to take breaks, which made it easier to keep my heart rate under 150.

Wednesday: 5 miles (9:49 pace, 172 avg HR) + maintenance
I knew I'd be out of my heart rate zone for this run because I was running with the group. I didn't want to run solo! Despite the high HR, I felt fine. Calves were tight, but not painful.

Thursday: massage
I had hoped to get up and run easy before work, but sleep won out. I was tired. After work, I got a massage. I don't think I require as much work right now, so my next one is in 4 weeks. I may move to 6 weeks after that.

Friday: 5.07 miles (11:50 pace, 145 avg HR) + maintenance
             + 2.14 miles (11:41, 142 avg HR)
The benefit of the treadmill is that it's easier to watch my pace. I ran an hour before work while watching Gilmore Girls and just kept it nice and easy. After the first mile, I didn't change the speed on the TM, but I did hop off to grab a drink, which is why there are variations in the splits.

M1: 12:05, 136 HR
M2: 11:42, 144 HR
M3: 11:44, 146 HR
M4: 11:55, 148 HR
M5: 11:46, 149 HR
(.07: 11:45, 154 HR)

Since my HR didn't go over target until the very last bit, I guess the hour was just right. It'll be interesting to compare similar workouts. Also, my cadence is too slow on these slow, easy runs, so I need to work on that.

After work, I spent 2+ miles on the treadmill testing out my new Newton Gravity shoes.

Saturday: off (Pittsburgh)

Sunday: 5.16 miles (dog running, 141 avg HR)
When we got back from Pittsburgh, we headed over to the shelter. I actually ended up taking out the same three dogs as earlier in the week. My heart rate shot up over 190 when a loose dog charged me and Bernice, but I recovered quickly :)

Upcoming week:
It's time to get serious. I have done all I can to verify that I don't have a stress fracture, I'm doing lots of maintenance to keep the calves in check and I'm running mostly easy. It's time to build up the distance again so I can run all of my races! 27 to 32 miles with two strength-training sessions. I may have to start doing morning workouts to get in two strength. Ugh. All runs but Wednesday and Saturday should be under 150 HR; not sure how I'm going to handle Sunday's run because trail runs typically get my heart rate above target.
  • Monday: 3- to 5-mile easy run or XT + strength
  • Tuesday: 3- to 5-mile dog run or easy run
  • Wednesday: 5-mile group run (maybe 5 miles w/ 3 at pace?) 
  • Thursday: 3- to 5-mile dog run or easy run + strength
  • Friday: rest (possibly move strength to here?)
  • Saturday: 9-mile Hadd test (5x1.5M w/ 1.5M cooldown)
  • Sunday: 4-mile trail run