Sunday, February 20, 2011

Martha's Vineyard 20-Miler Top Ten

I ran the Martha's Vineyard 20-Miler yesterday with my running partner and her husband. This race fell right in line with our marathon training (just 5 weeks away) so it was great timing. And really, it was perfect. Such a great race! I would recommend it to ANYONE near or far. It's probably worth traveling any distance for. Here is my Race Top Ten (in no particular order)...

1. The View - Martha's Vineyard is gorgeous...even in February. The first 10 miles are along the eastern coast, then four miles heading inland and west, and then 6 miles heading north. The last 10 miles were on a bike path that wound through forests. Even with empty trees, it was pretty.

2. Negative Splits - We decided to try this out for the first time and it really worked. I couldn't believe how good I felt at the end. Our last mile was our fastest - we felt that good.

3. No Potty Breaks - There were no potty stops along the way. That's a huge success for me!

4. Sprinting Across the Finish Line - And I was smiling. That's gotta be a first!

5. Inspiring People - I was so impressed with all the people we met. Really an amazing group of runners. We met a couple in their 60s who ran the Rome Marathon last year. And another woman who is running Boston for the third time this year. She qualified by running the Berlin Marathon - how cool is that?!

6. Great Conversation - We were joined for the first 10 miles by a man named David who said he liked our pace and decided to run with us. He stopped at 10. We talked about everything from TV to kids to racing to everything but the kitchen sink.

7. Overall Pace - Right at 10-minute mile, which was our goal. We were using this as a training long run, so it wasn't about speed. And this pace felt perfect.

8. Race Organization - There were so many volunteers and police officers and smiling people at all the aid stations. As soon as we crossed the finish line and headed into the school, they handed us our bags - they already had them ready. They played music along the way. Everyone was so helpful and fo friendly. Awesome.

9. Post-Race Food - Clam chowder, minestrone, bagels, fruit and cookies. Yummy! That clam chowder was the perfect New England way to finish off a race. So good!

10. Finishing My First 20-Miler - This is my farthest distance. And I felt great. Now I really believe I will be able to run a marathon. And that feels awesome!

And now for a few pictures (in reverse order) we took before and after. David's wife took a few while we were running, but we haven't received them yet. I'll post them once we do.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pace - with a plea for help...

There is no wall if you pace yourself correctly. - Hal Higdon

I know this. I believe this. I have lived this. However, I continue to make the mistake of shooting out of the gate too quickly. And I always, always pay the price at some point during my run. In my most recent 1/2 marathon I shot out faster than I ever should have. Running my fastest mile up to that point - an 8:15 - and that was mile 1. I usually run around an 8:45 in a pace and a 9:00/9:15 in a regular run. 8:15 should never have been in the cards. It caught up to me and I hit a wall, big time, at mile 10. Almost didn't recover from that.

Fast forward to today. I had a 14-mile run, which sounds short after last week's 19. Well, I shouldn't have let my brain think "short" because 14 is still longer than the longest race I have run to date. I started out fast - too fast. Despite running partners telling me to slow down, five of my first six miles were faster than they should have been. But I did okay...until mile 10. My legs felt like lead. I could barely move them. I wasn't hurting, they just felt tired. I was sluggish. I trudged on, barely for the next three miles. I even had to walk for a bit (maybe a 1/4 mile?). I regained my strength for the last two, but they weren't easy. Here are my splits....

Mile 1: 9:53
Mile 2: 9:44
Mile 3: 10:07
Mile 4: 9:41
Mile 5: 10:28
Mile 6: 9:11 - that just doesn't belong in a long run
Mile 7: 10:01
Mile 8: 10:25 - right around where I should be...maybe 10 seconds faster
Mile 9: 9:50
Mile 10: 10:04
Mile 11: 10:07
Mile 12: 11:44 - and neither does that!!!!
Mile 13: 11:07
Mile 14: 10:38

This was just a practice run. This is where the learning should happen. Not on race day. So I'm trying not to beat myself up...although I have a tendency to do that over even practice runs.

I have a 20-miler on Saturday - my longest race so far. Me, my friend and her hubbie are running together. We are treating it like a long run - not a race. We don't want to run it at race pace. Especially since there is about a minute difference between their race pace and mine.

So, here's the question (and please, please comment - I need tips)....How do you stop yourself from shooting out too quickly in the beginning? I cannot afford to do that come marathon time, but if I don't learn it now, it could be a tough lesson to learn that day. Any tips? Anything you've tried that worked? I would love any advice. I didn't plan on wearing a watch on marathon day (it's my first and I don't want time to be a factor), but wondering if I should just to make sure I'm not starting out too fast. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mental Training

I just finished reading 50 in 50 by Dean Karnazes. I loved it! Really did. In one chapter he talks about baby steps and mental training. You know, convincing yourself that you don't have to run 5 or 10 or 20 more niles. Just one more mile. Or just until the next lampost, etc. etc. etc. until you accomplish your goal. I know that this trick works for me. I use it all the time.

Well, this last Saturday I totally put it into practice for my longest run yet. See, I had been sick and missed running all week. Although on Thursday and Friday I probably could have run, I decided against it so I would have what I needed to complete 19 miles on Saturday. I was more than a little nervous about the run, but it had to happen. I left at 6:30 am with three friends. It wasn't a really pretty run - kind of cloudy, lots of slush, etc. I actually did really well as we ran into Boston, around the Common and then headed across the Charles River to Cambridge. And that's when it got yucky.

We ran on the Charles River path which was just slush and ice and yuckiness, completely banked in by snow. I think we were on the path for about 1.5 miles. Then we headed over to Harvard Square. I knew that running on all that uneven ground was wreaking havoc on my right knee. At mile 11, somewhere on Harvard's campus I felt a shot of pain straight through my knee and down my shin. I stopped immediately because I didn't feel like I could take another step. I stretched and then kept going. More pain. This time it brought tears to my eyes. It really hurt. I stretched really, really well and decided to keep plugging on.

One friend's husband was coming to pick her up at mile 12, so I thought about stopping, but really, really didn't want to. I asked for tips from my awesome running partner and she recommended a couple of changes in my stride - tall knees as well as the "old person shuffle". I did the latter and it worked! The pain started to go away. I decided to go to 15 miles before deciding to quit. I shuffled for most of the next three and got to 15. I did have to walk across a bridge because the slush and ice were so bad and I was really nervous about my knee. But I ran to 15.

And then I thought, "I can do four more!" The knee pain was basically gone - I mean there was a dull "feeling", but not super painful - I was just aware of my knee. We got back to Commonwealth Ave with three miles to go. The end was definitely in sight. At mile 18 I did a little happy dance, because anyone can run a mile! That last 1/2 mile was tough and I'm pretty sure I could have walked faster than I was "running" but I kept plugging on. And low and behold, I finished 19 miles.

Physically it was tough. Certainly not ideal conditions. But, I feel like it was totally mind over matter. My body was weak, but my mind was tough. My mind got me through the run - it just had to work really, really hard to convince my legs to keep going. And I feel like this will be the key with my marathon. And when I hit a tough spot in the marathon, you better believe I will think back to February 5th's 19-mile run. I think it will be key. So glad I got a little bit of mental training in...along with all the physical training!

{PS: I have been really good about stretching, strengthening and using the roller on my ITB. I know that's the problem and I can tell the difference when I'm doing everything I know I should be doing. Considering going to a PT, but waiting until my long (14 miles) run on Saturday before I decide.}

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

January Re-Cap

I am sick. I've been sick for 48 hours. The worst sore throat I have ever had. I kind of want to rip my throat out. I've also had fever and chills and body aches. I went to the doctor, but it's not strep - just the flu. Anyway, it's put me out of commission and I've already missed two runs - totalling 12 miles. I am hating it, but I also know that my body needs the rest. Just hoping for a speedy recovery.

And since I'm sick and can barely think, I am 100% copying Tonia's (Racing With Babes) January Review...maybe next month I'll be able to do something original.

Miles Planned/Miles Ran: 129/122 - missed two runs because of sickness. Bleh.

Rest Days Planned/Rest Days Taken: 8/10

Highest Mileage Week: 1/24-1/30: 51.5 miles

Long Runs Planned/Long Runs Completed: 5/5

Current Book: I am reading 50/50 by Dean Karnazes. Sure he's cocky, but um, wouldn't you be if you could run as much as he runs? I actually really love all the tips he gives on marathoning, as he's going through the various marathons in all 50 states. I have learned so much! I would recommend it to anyone even remotely interested in running.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Starbursts. On a particularly brutal long run (16 miles) when it was FREEZING outside and my legs were tired and I was mentally exhausted, we passed by a running club's fuel table and there was a bowl of Starbursts (among other things). I didn't take any, but I really, really wanted to. And ever since then, all I want is Starbursts. I'm normally a chocolate girl, so it's surprising that a non-chocolate item is my guilty pleasure!

Current Colors: Black and Pink (always)

Current Drink: Water and grape Gatorade (it's the only sport drink I can handle)

Current Song: Dynamite - Taio Cruz or Baby - Justin Bieber (nope, not joking)

Current Triumph: I ran more miles in January than any previos month AND I ran more miles last week than I did in four of the twelve months of 2010!

Current Goal: Martha's Vineyard 20-miler in under 3:30 and lose four lbs before my anniversary (February 28)

Current Blessing: Amazing friends and husband who have really helped out during a pretty miserable couple of days.

Current Excitement: Spring...ya, it's a stretch, but seriously, I can't keep talking about all the snow. It's getting depressing.