Out of the woods

Figuratively, not literally. Unfortunately, John has not been feeling so well so I'll probably be running on my own all week. I am finally feeling better and I had an excellent run last night at SMP with the Nerds. We had a large group, too. I was a little surprised since it's getting colder and most people don't like running in the cold. Another reason I like the Nerds. I shouldn't even be typing this, but I'm looking forward to running in the snow this winter.

After getting lost at WyCo the other week, I decided I should do some homework and learn the trails a little better so I won't get lost again. For WyCo, that's going to take a while. But I found a map of SMP (courtesy of the Nerds, of course) and the trails really made sense last night. I think I'd be OK running there on my own one of these days. I'm hoping that starting in the next week or two, I can get to SMP early on Tuesdays for an additional 2-2.5 miles before running with the Nerds.
Tonight I am doing something I have been dreading for a while - putting my bike on the trainer. Since I'm going to be increasing my running miles, I need at least one day of biking to prevent any knee injuries. So tonight I'm cleaning my bike and spinning, hopefully for about an hour. We'll see how long it is before I'm bored out of my mind. Thank God I just downloaded new songs to my phone!


I'm married to an Ultra runner!

Woo Hoo! John completed his first 50k this weekend in WI! Here's his race report:


I'm so proud of him! While it's a "baby" by most ultra standards, it's farther than I've ever gone and after a full day in the car!

I was there to spectate and even though the weather was kinda crummy, I had a lot of fun. I hiked 1.7 miles to the first aid station (which was also #2 and #3) and watched John come through at miles 6 and 11. They were a little short-handed so I stayed and directed traffic for the 1/2 marathon and 10k races that were coming through. I also took care of some clothes for one of the 50k runners that didn't have a drop bag. I managed to catch him at the finish line to return them, as well. I didn't realize you could drive to that aid station, but I'm glad I took the trail. It was absolutely gorgeous and made me wish I was running.

While directing traffic, I saw an old friend from Platteville and managed to hike back to the finish line and catch up with him. He was 5th overall in the 10k. It helps to have been a college track runner.

I saw the winners in the 50 mile race finish and I believe Nikki Kimball was there. Otherwise there is another phenomenal female ultra runner with red curly hair. She won the women's race and looked fantastic after 50 miles. I can only aspire to what these runners do. I'm looking forward to my own ultra journey. Starting with a 4-miler tonight. :)


16 weeks

I've started looking at my extended schedule to see what I want to train for and what my new goals will be.

There is Boise, obviously, in sub-6 hours as I keep repeating. For that to happen, I need to swim with a Master's group this winter, bike enough to keep fitness until I'm back outside, and run. Lots.

There is Psycho WyCo. That would be my longest running race by a factor of 2.37. I started looking at the calendar to see if this is not a reasonable goal. But the race is a little over 16 weeks away and I think I can safely ramp up my running miles in that amount of time. (This is where being married to another runner is definitely a good thing)

But now I am entering unchartered territory. I currently am at about 20-25 miles per week. For a 50k race, what is the appropriate milage to shoot for? I think swimming one day, biking one day, and running 5 days is reasonable. What about a rest day? Maybe double up the swimming and biking and then take a complete rest day. What about long runs? Does the 70% rule apply? Too much, too little? At least the course is close and I run there every week. I see that as a definite advantage. And then there's nutrition. I'm not even going to touch that one right now.

What will be interesting to watch is my knee. I'm hoping that biking once a week and running (mostly) on trails rather than pavement will keep knee pain at bay. It's never an issue while tri-training, but I had problems when I was training for my first 1/2 and did nothing but run on pavement (I didn't know any better, I swear!)

If nothing else, it should be a good strategy to keep the holiday pounds off. More time running means less time sitting (and eating).

I really can't think past Psycho Wyco and Boise right now. Maybe as I get closer, a 50 miler or a tri AG top-3 will show up on my radar, but one thing at a time. I have a few questions I need to answer before I bite off more than I can chew.


KC Half Marathon - New PR!

That's right folks! After how my runs went over the last two weeks, and given the fact my HR has been about 10 bpm too high, I was planning on just running and having fun. I really didn't think a new PR was in the cards. But I came in just over 2 min faster than my previous PR (1:59:01) with a time of 1:56:54 (8:55 min/mile pace). A few weeks ago I was hoping for a 1:55, but I'm happy with my time. It was also good enough for 94/507 in my AG. Not bad for a 3-toed sloth. :)

Kansas City is a beautiful course, but it's pretty hilly. Most of the locals will go to Chicago if they're trying to BQ or PR. But I have to say, if you've never been to KC, running the full or half marathon is a great way to see the best parts of the city.

My plan was to go at a 9:00 min pace and see how I felt. I knew the first 3 miles would be slow due to the 2 biggest hills on the course so after that I would re-evaluate and adjust my pace as required. John was my personal pacer. He knew a 9 min average would (barely) get me a PR, so that's what he was watching. And I did something I've never done before - I ignored my watch. I checked my HR maybe 3 times, but I wasn't watching splits and I was just running how I felt. I think that may have actually been the best approach. At mile 10, John told me we should slow down, but I felt good and I knew what the end of the course was like so we pushed it.

Here are my mile splits, according to John's Garmin:
1: 9:44
2: 9:07
3: 8:50
4: 8:40
5: 8:44
6: 8:42
7: 9:00
8: 9:13
9: 9:15
10: 8:18
11: 8:14
12: 8:14
13: 6:30

Don't be fooled by the 6:30, that was just over the last 0.1 mile. What's cool is the pace vs elevation on the course Garmin plots. Check this out:

The top is the map of the course, the bottom shows pace in blue and elevation in green. Pretty cool stuff. Makes me want to get a Garmin. But I'm waiting for them to make the wrist unit waterproof so I can wear it swimming.

This is the first race I have actually run the second half as a negative split. Normally I go out too fast and then have to just hold it together for a decent finish. I may have been more happy I was able to negative split than PR. I'm a little sore today, but I was expecting that. I ran hard and I honestly had nothing left at the end, which in my opinion, is the correct way to race.

My other little victory this year was that I caught my rabbit. Two of them actually. I like to find someone (typically a woman who looks like she should be slower than me) who is ahead of me and then make them my rabbit to chase down and pass. Last year, I lost. I got close at mile 10, but then she pulled away and I couldn't keep up. (Based on the size of her rear-end, I should have been able to run her down easily. Looks can be deceiving.) This year, I passed my rabbit at mile 10 and then had to find a new one. The second one I chased for much longer but caught her in the finish chute and passed her too. I was determined this year not to let my rabbit get away.

It was a weekend of small victories, which sometimes are the best kind. We didn't race this morning since John wasn't feeling 100%. With his 50k on the horizon, I let him make the call. If I would have raced today, it would have just been for fun. I am planning on an easy run at one of the local trails later this afternoon to loosen up my legs and enjoy the beautiful fall weather.

I think the race yesterday is a good indication that my base fitness now is much better than my base fitness previously. My winter goal is to improve my running and have a better base when I start to seriously train for Boise. If I start at a better place than last year, I'm pretty sure I can get close to a sub-6 hr finish. Only time will tell, but I'm off to a good start.


New Gaiters

I ordered gaiters from Dirty Girl Gaiters and they came in this week, so of course I had to wear them at WyCo on our Thursday night runs to break them in. I don't remember the name of the pattern, but the bright green and pink complement my bright blue (and muddy) shoes nicely.

They seem to work well and they were a bargain compared to your fancy-schamncy name brand gaiters. And way cooler, I might add.

I was going to skip WyCo as part of my taper for the 1/2 marathon until I thought about it a little. I doubt I'll PR on Saturday (and I've kind of stopped caring) so it's not like 6 miles on the trails will hurt me. And after last week's weird run, I felt compelled to go back to WyCo for an enjoyable run. As it turns out, Bad Ben, John and I are all getting over colds, so we had a nice easy run which was very enjoyable and no one got lost.

Tomorrow is a rest day and then Saturday is the 1/2 followed by the Fall Fell race on Sunday. John is running it too, since his 50k is next week. Starting next week, I'm going to try to make 2 Nerd runs a week, WyCo on Thursdays and SMP on Tuesdays. I need to start increasing my trail mileage since I AM going to do the full Psycho Wyco. (If I keep telling myself that, I will eventually believe I can do it)



I chose rest.

Run or Rest?

That is the question.

All morning I was really fighting to focus and stay awake and it wasn't due to a lack of caffeine. I felt awful - sinus headache, light-headed, fever/chills, body aches and runny nose. I had debated leaving work early but I am surprisingly starting to feel a little better. My sinus headache is gone and I haven't had the chills in an hour or so. Food, maybe? You would think the piece of Orange-lime-rum cake I had for breakfast would have done the trick. Oops. Don't worry, I had a bowl of cereal first. I love the butternut squash and apple soup I made this weekend. Too bad my taste buds are still a little dull. I know it has good flavor, I just can't completely appreciate it.

The debate now is what to do after work. Go home and sleep, like I had planned, or go to SMP and run 5 miles with the Nerds, which I had planned before I was not feeling well. If I'm not feverish and still feeling OK, I'll go run. If I crash mid-afternoon, then I will sleep. I'm supposed to be tapering anyway. I'm unsure of what will be more beneficial - an easy run or a night of rest. I usually pick the run and that's ususally the wrong choice. Hmmm... To run or to rest, that is the question.


HR Never Lies, Part II

I've been slacking on the blog but it's not because I'm not doing anything. Last week I put in several runs, including a 9 mile long run and another trail run at WyCo. I also did a leisurely bike up to the Kansas river with a friend on my hybrid. I have about 3 posts worth of information.

But it appears my HR monitor was right - I wasn't feeling so well this weekend and I still have sore throat. Much of the weekend was spent resting (after the bike ride, that is.)

Let's back track and see where this little cold is going to put me.

10/6 - 4.5 mile run at SMP with DH. He commented I sounded more out of breath than normal and asked several times if the pace was too fast. Ouch.

10/8 - 9 mile run at the airport. Much slower than I had hoped but HR stayed low. I'm obviously working harder to maintain slower paces.

10/9 - 6ish miles at WyCo. My HR was higher than usual and, I GOT LOST. I've never been lost before. I was walking the uphills due to my high HR and lost the guys. Then I lost the trail. I wandered around until I could no longer see any lights ahead of me or hear voices, then I started yelling. At least the guys were able to come back for me right away. As Ben said, that run had a weird vibe. I have never wanted to get out of the woods like that night. I was going to blog about it that night but I was too darn tired. It was an unpleasant run and I'm going to blame it on evil WyCo gnomes. I swear they exist.

10/11 - 21 miles up to the Kansas River and the hills on my hybrid about killed me. But it was a gorgeous ride and I'll blog about it later.

Now we're back to today, after spending most of yesterday on the couch. Unfortunately, I don't think I'm going to hit 1:55 in the 1/2 this weekend. I'm still going to try to PR, but it might be rough. My HR has consistently been 10 bpm higher than normal. Add the usual 10 bpm due to racing nerves, and I'll barely be able to hold an 11 min/mile pace. I'm exaggerating (I hope) but I don't know if 8:45s will happen. I guess it's more of a "run how I feel" race. Oh well, life happens. I'm drinking lots of fluids, taking vitamins, and eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies.

I'm still thinking about running in the Fall Fell race on Sunday as well, not to really race, but to have fun. Double races sound like something I should try, expecially if I'm serious about doing an ultra in the near future. And what's 7 miles on the trails? Plus, I hear there will be donuts.

Mmmm, donuts.


HR Never Lies

I'm happy to report that my ankle is fine and my knee is scratched and bruise, but otherwise OK. I was really looking forward to tonight's run - cool weather on the trails is always enjoyable.

We started off a little on the slow side. There were 4 guys and 1 other girl beside me. Within the first 1/2 mile (which is mostly downhill) I noticed my HR said 188. WTH?? I figured it was interference or something. But we kept on and the uphills were killing me. My legs were bricks and I was panting; I felt like the fat kid during the first day of track practice. I was drenched in sweat and my hair was dripping.

We kept on at a modest pace, much slower than some of our runs out there, and I could barely keep up. By the end, I had completely fallen off the back of the wagon and was just trying to get back to the car. My head, neck, and chest were cold but my HR was in the 180s. There is something wrong here.

I think I've decided I'm fighting off a cold. I've had the sniffles and been sneezing a lot lately, and coupled with my awful run, I think it's safe to say I'm not 100%. For the run, my ave HR was 171 and max HR was 190. 190!! I don't think I've ever gotten it that high before. And it's not like I'm out of shape. I've been doing this same run every Thursday for the last few months and I'm training for a 1/2 marathon. So I have decided tomorrow is a rest day. I should take my vitamins, avoid alcohol, and get lots of sleep. I don't actually want to get sick.

But I got to thinking: How cool is it that I already KNOW that I'm not 100% and I'm not quite sick. HR monitor training (and training in general) really makes you become more aware of your body and what's it's doing. It's pretty amazing, really.

And now it's time for some much-needed rest. I have a race to train for!