practice makes perfect?

OK, I really have been trying to get back into the groove since my last post, and will have knocked off 2 decent weeks since then.  Pretty much each week consisted of the downtown run with the Flyers, a long interval workout (800s and 1000s), long tempo intervals (1800s) and a long run, and yeah, one other day.

Last week’s intervals were a struggle.  But this past week’s not so bad.  Still a far cry from where I was last summer, but moving in the right direction.  Of course, it may have helped that one of the newer members of our group was pacing with me (the girl who used to be my pacing buddy left at the end of last summer!)…not to mention it was a certain evil holiday this past Tuesday so I may have had a little extra something firing me up 🙂

As for tempos, while last week’s went well (same person was pacing with me), this week’s was just meh.  Of course it was cold and rainy and crappy out so I hoping just the fact that I showed up counts for something? 🙂

As for long stuff, last week 18 miles, this week 15.  Been averaging closer to 9:15-9:20 as opposed to the 9’s of last summer but again, just getting it in (and who knows, maybe the extra time on my feet will help me out on race day?)  Last week’s 18…well I was debating Saturday (when it was predicted snow) or Sunday (sub-freezing temps)  Even though the forecast was wrong for Saturday, I was still leaning towards that day anyway-just so the water in my bottle wouldn’t freeze 🙂  Anyway faced with the prospect of another solo long run, I figured the only way to get through it was decent music on the iPod and a creative route…down the west side, around the southern tip of Manhattan (stopping at the only known working water fountain in Manhattan-purposely planned!), up the east side, over the Williamsburg, Pulaski, and Queensboro bridges…and finally ending around Union Square.  And not one iota in Central Park!

As for this weekend, since I’m semi-racing tomorrow, I took advantage of a half-day and got my long run done in the late afternoon yesterday.  Though the last 2 miles running from Central Park South to City Bakery were quite an adventure-WTF was I thinking running through midtown?  But I had to partake in the hot chocolate flavor of the day-Brooklyn Brewery Beer Hot Chocolate (sounds weird I’m sure, but actually recommended-the chcoolate stout cuts the super-sweetness a bit!)

So even though the “in” thing is minimal fueling during long runs and the cool thing to do is do your long runs with as little water and gel as possible, I’m using my long runs to try and get the nutrition issues dealt with, as I do not want a repeat of what happened in NYCM.  One thing I’m looking into this time around is gels without caffeine.  I had been using PowerGel tangerine flavor which had double caffeine, and I’m wondering if the caffeine had been part of the issue.  Especially since it did give me issues back in 2009.  (I did use them in MCM and Chicago…but both those races had other issues, as you know!)  My go-to gel flavor for the longest time was PowerGel’s Plain Energy Flavor-I used it in 2006 and 2008 NYCMs-but sadly it has been discontinued!  And I am quite picky when it comes to gel flavors.

However, GU has introduced this goodness:

Which I swear, is the best-tasting gel flavor I have ever had.

Only concerns?  The texture is a bit thicker than PowerGel.  And I don’t think it has as many electrolytes as PowerGel either.  I’ve also been dabbling with PowerGel’s Kona Punch flavor…tolerable I guess.

Anyway, I still have 8 weeks to go, and I’m gonna use that time to keep experimenting!  Which means if I have to take a gel every 5-6 miles during my long run, so be it.  I want to practice this so that there are no surprises or issues on race day!  Which when you think about it, isn’t that what we’re supposed to use our long runs for?  Practice?

Tomorrow is gonna be the Cherry Tree Relay, and for the 2nd time in history, the Flyers will have a team.  This time I’ll be with a couple of my male teammates as part of team Lickety Split!  But a short race?  In cold weather?  yeah, this is gonna be interesting.

winter training and me

So I received a nice little reminder in my email inbox today.

Thanks for addressing me as a Boston Marathoner. Thanks also for reminding me I have less than 10 weeks left to train.

Oh the irony that the B.A.A. specifically says they hope that “everyone’s Winter training is going well” because honestly, all I’ve been thinking over the last couple of weeks is that if I didn’t have this to train for, I wouldn’t bother making any goal races for earlier in the year, and save them for the summer (yes, you heard that right) and the fall.

As for the mileage, with the exception of the one week that was derailed by illness, I’ve been on track, getting it all in, getting the intervals, tempos, hills, long runs done.  The problem?  I don’t seem to have the speed I had last summer.  My intervals and tempos are definitely slower than usual.  What was supposed to be a fun last 5 miles on my long run last weekend as a group run to City Bakery turned out not-so-fun when I got dropped because I couldn’t speed up to anything faster than a 9 minute pace (which last year was my go-to-long run pace, mind you.)  And mentally it gets to me.  These speeds aren’t worthy of a Boston Qualifier.  What right do I have to be running Boston?  How the hell did they ever let me into the race in the first place?

That aside, I do feel that in many ways, winter training just does not agree with me.  I know a lot of you love running in the winter, but hear me out.  And even with this winter being milder than normal, it’s still not ideal weather for me.  Outside of running, in the spring and summer, I like to be out and about.  Cold weather makes me want to hibernate.  Which leads to less sunlight which leads to vitamin D deficiency which leads to tired and cranky me.  And I’ve noticed it’s much easier to eat better in summer (love watermelon and berries that are plentiful and in-season in the summer!) whereas now we gravitate towards more comfort foods and hot chocolate (or in the case of City Bakery, a melted chocolate bar.  I did run 15.5 miles to earn that though!)

Motivation?  With the exception of my speed/tempo workouts on Tuesdays and Thursdays, it’s been a struggle to force myself out the door, even for long runs.  I miss all the organized long runs of last summer, and I’m not looking forward to doing all my 20’s on my own.  (Or even I have 18 on tap this weekend, which won’t be a picnic either.)  One disadvantage to our “hometown” marathon being in the fall I guess…

And just to add to my complaint list :-p  The fast stuff has been tough, my lungs do not deal well with having to breathe in cold, icy air, which is an issue with interval workouts and short races.  Guess the Cherry Tree relay in a week and a half will be interesting, huh?  Ideally I’d pass on all short races for a couple of months, but I got my arm twisted into this one, as I was originally planning on yes, the 10-miler as a training run.  Maybe this is why I got all my short distance PRs (the 4 and 5-milers) in the summer last year?  Hell, even my 5K PR was a summer race…

And maybe it was just too soon after NYCM to jump back into training.  Coach T has even said it himself, that the fall-then-spring marathon thing takes a lot out of you and he wishes most people would take the spring off after a fall marathon cycle (well not take it off, but not have a marathon as a goal race.)  And honestly, had I not already been registered for Boston, I would have had no desire to run another marathon in the near future.  But this may be my one and only chance, so I had to take advantage.

I know what you all are thinking, getting into Boston and running it is my dream, why aren’t I more excited?  Believe me, I am excited, I really wish I had a DeLorean to skip forward to April 16th 😛  It’s just all the putting in the work to get there.  There’s a difference between just going through the motions and stepping it up a notch, and I feel my training so far has been the former.  I am adjusting my goals, I don’t think I have a realistic shot at a PR or re-qualifying, but I do respect the distance, and would like to at least have a respectable performance that doesn’t end like it did in NYC.

For all of you who thrive on winter training…how *do* you do it?  How do you beat the winter blahs?

will run for fashion

So remember that long run I was supposed to do last Sunday?  Yeah, that didn’t happen.  Let it be known that NyQuil is evil when you need to be somewhat productive the next day.  But again, given that I was really trying to get rid of that damn cold ASAP, a long run may not have done me any favors.  The one downside to winter training-seems like it takes longer to shake out illness than it does in warmer temps.

So I threw myself back into it this past week.  Coach T took a little mercy on me on Tuesday and had me do 600s as a “rust-buster” type workout instead of the 1000s that the others were doing.  Which was perfect, my lungs did not feel up to 1000s.  My original plan was to try and run before work as there was the annual Flyers Chinese New Year celebration, and given that it was the Year of the Dragon (my year!) I sorta had to go 🙂  The snooze button won out but I was still able to get my workout done, and me and my workout-mates made it to the festivities in time (well…maybe a little fashionably late!)

Happy Year of the Dragon! Words to live by...and others that I can hope are reality?

 

And then in the middle of the week, the word was out that a certain coveted jacket was available on the Adidas site.  And of course inquiring minds had wanted to know for a while…what will the colors be?  Will it be embroidered or not?  And the answer is…

Once again, a departure from the traditional Boston blue/yellow, but I’m really loving this color! 🙂  I can’t wait to get mine…though I know I won’t be able to wear it til the afternoon of April 16th…bad luck!!

So I guess making sure I will be able to wear said jacket was what got me out the door on a rainy Thursday evening for a tempo which I felt I came up short on, but all things considered, was just glad to get it in.  And even though I got a late start today due to not being able to tear myself away from the Australian Open final, still banged out 17 and change miles (including not 1, but 2 loops of the Harlem Hills.)  Though dear god, if I am as tired after 17 miles in 11 weeks as I was today, the Newton hills are gonna be a world of hurt.

Busy week this upcoming week with final preps for the Flyers awards gala Saturday.  I expect to see lots of Flyers (myself included!) out running long runs Saturday…if last year was any indication, a long run will definitely not happen on Sunday.  In fact, I predict Flyer attendance at the Gridron Classic will be quite low…

derailed by the cold

Despite what the title says, this is not a post about how the cold weather is interfering with my Boston training.

Actually, the first two weeks went pretty well, despite some cold snaps thrown in there…

The first week included sub-freezing temps the night of a V02max workout.  But I still showed up and got it done-yes, my times were slower than the summer and my lungs hated me afterwards, but I got through 4 x 800.

And last weekend brought another cold snap-though I planned for it strategically by doing my long run on Saturday-the warmer of the 2 days, not by much.  And of course I brilliantly planned my route along the West Side Hwy and the Brooklyn and Williamsburg Bridges…perfect for a cold, windy day, right?  But actually it was fine, I was dressed for the conditions, my water bottle didn’t freeze, the music on my iPod kept me going through 15 and a half miles.  I bundled up even more on Sunday to knock out a short run-and witnessed some girl running in Central Park wearing a sweatshirt and shorts (not even running shorts, more like boxer-type shorts) and her legs were bright red…SMH…

I think this weather not making up its mind caught up with me this week, as the week got off to a decent start with an easy run Monday and a speed workout Tuesday but the latter half of it, a nasty cold knocked me down.  Meaning sick day from work on Thursday, no running since Tuesday.  Yeah, maybe one could argue i could have run through it, but I wanted to kick this thing out sooner rather than later…

Then I was signed up for today’s Manhattan Half-Marathon.  Not to race (I’m saving that effort for the NYC Half!) but to just use as a supported training run.  And wouldn’t you know it, the 2nd snow of the season (or really officially 1st?  As the previous snowstorm was in the fall?) once again messes with a NYRR race.  I did pick up my bib and shirt just in case yesterday-and boy were the NYRR offices mobbed!  And they ran out of small shirts right before I got mine!  (But honestly, I didn’t love it enough for the size to make a difference.)

Very early this morning (around 5 AM), NYRR did make the call to turn the half into an uncompetitive, unscored “fun run.”  I made the call to go back to sleep.  It was still snowing, I had a feeling Central Park wasn’t plowed yet, and it really was not worth jeopardizing my “A” race for a mid-January training run.  One more day of rest, and I can get my long run done and done tomorrow.

So week 3 of training will be a cutback week, not by choice.  Hopefully with 12 weeks to go, this won’t hurt me…too much?

 

2012 running goals, or something like that

So as I said in my 2011 year-in-review post, I’d address 2012 later.  Well, it’s later 🙂

So here’s what I got on the horizon so far this year…

  • Boston Marathon (4/16/12)  Obviously this is the biggie as of now.  Time goals?  I don’t know as of now.  At the very least, I want to finish-yes, I want the jacket 😛  I do want to enjoy the experience-and not be in misery for the  last 10K like I was in NYCM.  Ideally, I would run a respectable time, as I am in the need for marathon redemption 🙂  I do have to take into consideration that my training will be 3 weeks shorter, therefore a PR may not be realistic.  But if everything were to go right?  Obviously I would like to requalify…but would shoot for sub-3:40.  None of this 3:35 nonsense, that’s crazy talk!  I should have known better, the B.A.A. gives us upper submasters the extra 5 minutes for a reason.  I guess I’ll re-assess goals as we get closer to Patriots’ Day!
  • NYC Half-Marathon (3/18/12)  After being a lottery loser last year, they actually let me in this year!  Yes I know what the price tag is, and it would cost just as much, if not more, to travel to a half.  For me, I felt it was worth it for several reasons.  It’s perfectly timed as a Boston tune-up.  Last time I ran it was the inaugural race in 2006, and I was not happy with my race at all.  I’d love to get redemption from that one!  This is also the last chance to run a NYCMQ half time under the “old” standards-1:37 or faster (not sure if I’d run NYC or not, but it’d be nice to get the qualifier just once.)  Not sure if I’ll be quite there just yet, but who knows what can happen in 2 months?  (or maybe I can run 1:37:51 to beat my 2006 time by 10 minutes…hehe.)  Finally, the course is changed a little bit, and I’m liking it!!  Start in the lower part of the park, counterclockwise loop in the park (if we have to do the full 6 thats the direction I prefer,) one less mile in the park, finish now near the Seaport.  Should be fun!!  (and will be amusing to see the St. Patrick’s Day drunks leaving the bars around the same time that I’m heading for the start.)

    the new course!

So those are the only 2 races definitely on the schedule as of now.  What else would I like to see happen this year?

  • A 10K PR.  It should not be that my 10K splits in both Philly halfs I’ve raced (46:29 in 2009, 46:38 in 2011) are faster than my actual 10K PR (47:06, set in 2008.)  Maybe try for one in the Mini 10K in June?  The thing is that one is hit or miss in terms of weather. 
  • Sub-7 minute pace short race?  (e.g., 3-miler, 5K, maybe 4-miler?)  I’d have to get back into the shape I was in last summer…then find a flat course in good weather.  Maybe sometime in the fall?

As for the fall-have no clue what I will be doing, race-wise.  Let’s see how the spring plays out…

 

something old, something new

Happy 2012, blog readers!! 🙂  Yes I know I’m slacking in blogging again.  Blame the post-holidays craziness at work…

So New Year’s 2011/2012 weekend came and went.  The theme for those few days is represented well by the title…seeing old friends, as well as new(er) as well.  The “old”?  Well not by age, but a Flyer friend who moved far north in 2010 (wow, I can’t say “last year” anymore) came to visit for a few days, and we caught up over a few beers at Ginger Man and a short Central Park run the following day.

Then Saturday, New Year’s Eve Day, brought a run to the Doughnut Plant.  (Much better writeup on Susan’s blog, here you’re getting the abbreviated version 🙂 ) Over the Brooklyn Bridge, back over the Williamsburg…can you guess who coordinated this run, just from hearing a rough version of the route? 😉  Anyway, it was a nice, chill run-good to see some I hadn’t seen in a long time, and meet new runners/bloggers!  And how great was it that it was shorts weather on December 31st?  Anyway, the Doughnut Plant is definitely as good as advertised-I was all over getting a gingerbread donut!!  And of course I had to have another, so I got another gingerbread and an oatmeal donut…oatmeal is healthy, right? 😉

betcha can't spot me 😛

So then I headed back home to midtown and snapped this pic from 44th and 8th…

you'd never guess that one block east lies total insanity.

 Then I got ready to escape midtown for the evening.  Unfortunately, previous plans for an old friend to spend New Year’s here got canceled at the last minute, thankfully I did have backup plans!  My speedwork buddy EA volunteered to let me escape to her place on the UES since we were both doing the Midnight Run.  Pizza, champagne, gossip, no drama-exactly what I needed.  (well unless you count our other friend who came over for a little bit after overdulging on pomegranate martinis.)  So we got to the park and just like the previous year, a pretty warm night-I actually felt a little overdressed with capris under my Team Sparkle skirt.  (guess I shoulda gone with booty shorts instead)?  Yep, my “costume” for the night was a “sparkly heartbreaker”-with sparkly skirt, sparkly headband and my “Heartbreakah” shirt I got in Boston last year. 🙂

So with about 15 minutes to go, tons of peeps were already lined up, but EA, ever the competitive chick, wanted to run fast which meant getting as far up as possible-we found a way to get up pretty close-could actually see the clock counting down 🙂  And before I knew it, was midnight and we were off and running…literally.

Yep, I actually felt decent enough to make this a semi-tempo effort (might as well, considering I missed both workouts the previous week 🙂 )  And let the record show there was no champagne consumed during those 31 and change minutes 🙂  It was just a nice night, people were out cheering, and my legs just wanted to go.  And this was over 10 minutes faster than last year!  granted, this is not a “race” effort, but I just remember it feeling like a struggle last year, and it was nice to get 2012 off to a good start on the running front.

that ain't water in my bottle.

So then EA and I hung around a little but after the race, scoped out the festivities, finished the champagne in our respective water bottles…and then I headed back home to Ball Drop Central.

around 1:45 am on 1/1/12. still barricades and detours around times square!

So, one week into the New Year.  There’s already new shoes, new goals…and this week was the first real week of my Boston Marathon training!  I’ll be doing 15 weeks instead of 18 weeks as I’ve done in the past, to give myself a little more recovery after NYCM and to prevent burnout.  We’ll see how that plays out!

running year 2011: a tale of two halves

Well it being New Year’s Eve, it’s of course time for the obligatory “running year in review” post.  And when I say that 2011 was truly a tale of 2 halves, I don’t mean half-marathons, as much as halves of the year…

First half of 2011 was kinda lackluster.  I don’t know if it was the brutal winter, or burnout after the 2010 Chicago marathon, or indifference in general…but not a lot of running was happening the first coupla months of the year.  Or maybe some of it was feeling “in limbo.”  Couldn’t make any race plans til I knew what was going on with the Boston qualifying standards (I need plans to keep me focused!), I was the midst of exploring other groups to do speedwork with (there’s something about having groups like that to keep you honest!)  My slowest 5K in years, in addition to just barely getting under 8-minute pace for one 3.3 mile loop of Prospect Park in the Cherry Tree Relay…yeah, kinda the low points, showed how far I slid down.

Took the steps in March to hopefully get my groove back, thanks to twice-weekly speedwork sessions with WBTC (which other Flyer teammates were already a part of) and Coach T (who was a big part in my running successes this year), including the very fun-yet-crowded track nights.  Getting the speed back was definitely a slow process, but it looked like by June something was kicking in, as I ran my 2nd fastest 10K at the Mini 10K-after indulging in some Blue Moons with coworkers the night before 🙂

By the 2nd half of the year, when training for the NYC Marathon would start, looked like not only was I where I was in 2009-2010, but surpassed it, which kinda validated my current training choice 🙂  Hit 4-mile and 5-mile PRs, 2 strong half marathons while in the thick of training…unfortunately the marathon did not go my way but still finished 2011 on a good note with an age group award in a 5K (and I have not gotten an AG award since 2004!) and a 15K PR.

So thankfully the year ended on a better note than the last 2 🙂  If I had to grade the year, I’d probably give it a B…maybe B+, as I “failed” my “final exam” I don’t deserve an A 😛

That said, at least one thing I learned from how badly the marathon went was that I’m not a quitter…even though the going got rough, I did what I had to do to still salvage a sub-4.  So I can put that worry to rest…

I’ll address 2012 in another post…but as of now the big ones are a certain marathon in April, and then I just found out this week that I got into the NYC Half!  (yes I’m aware how much it cost, I don’t want to hear it.)  Training through the winter will be a challenge in itself, but I think I’m ready to hit the ground running in 2012…literally!

Happy New Year everyone…