Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Long Haul, Take two

I ran 11 miles on Friday and felt pretty good! Considering it was the first week of school, replete with its attendant stress, I'm pretty happy. I also think my body purged itself of a 24 hour flu the week before. Generally work and training keep my immune system on the extra-defensive. But my system must have been mildly suppressed, unaccustomed to rest and massages, and purged itself in preparation for the long haul that is the 16 week semester.

In any case, I have been really worried about coming back to distance training after the San Francisco marathon just four weeks ago. I needed a run over 10 miles more for the mental preparation than whatever physical benefit it may have provided. I needed to assure myself that it was possible, and that my body feels good enough to get back into longer distances. In truth, I felt pretty good. I'm still not feeling like tearing up any track pace-wise, but I certainly felt faster than the first couple weeks of recovery. The outsides of my knees, however, do reflect a bit of wear and tear. They have that feeling of having been pounded too much. It's a very different feeling than what I experienced last year, which was largely remedied by strength training and new, more supportive, shoes. This, I think, is exactly as it feels: too much pavement pounding. I'm listening, and taking it as a sign to run on soft surfaces, and not a lot. Thus, my plan for the next few weeks is pretty simple. No more than 3 runs a week--cross-training will have to do. Two of those runs will be quality--some sort of "speed" and the long run. This Tuesday, I'll do an easy tempo run. Friday or Saturday, I'll try 13 miles. The following week is the City of Lakes race, a 15 mile/25K race around Harriet and Calhoun (twice) in Minneapolis. And then it will be just about time to taper again!

Speaking of long hauls, I can't believe the overwhelming support I have received from friends and family in support of my running Twin Cities for Bolder Options. I have already achieved $980 towards the initial goal of $1000!!! I am shocked and inspired by the generosity of so many. I am so grateful and appreciative, that although it is but a small gesture, everyone who has donated before the end of next week will be acknowledged on my racing tee. I am really, really amped about this. It is as if I have a virtual cheering squad! I am buoyed beyond words knowing that so many are supporting me and will be keen to learn how it goes. I know that looking at all those names will keep me going at mile 24! I will definitely have lots of photos taken and send them along with personal thanks.

Bolder Options Mentors and Mentees run for fun!

Finally, if you are in Minneapolis and  looking for a fun 5K or 10K on the 17th of September, Bolder Options Bolder Dash is taking place at Lake Nokomis. Register here!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Balancing Recovery and Gearing Up

I will conquer this choco-dipped piece of nutritional heaven
Since my husband and I returned from California to Iowa just a week ago, I've been busy trying to savor the last few days of my summer and the delicious relaxed mental state of recovery training. Yes, recovery is training. It's a weird balance, though, for sure. Especially since we brought the fine California weather with us. The humidity has dissipated, and it has been beautifully sunny and 70's for the last 8 days! That makes me want to be outside...running, biking, whatever. At the same time, I want to rest. My body wants to rest. I've been enjoying the little running I have been doing--no more than 6 miles--but sometimes I wonder if even that is too much, too soon.

I checked for some plans to speedy recovery. Few (including me--I am so guilty) actually plan their recovery after a tough race, despite it being an incredibly important part of training. Here is what I found from Runner's World:

Recovery Plan:,7120,s6-238-244--8957-3-1X2-3,00.html

Weeks After the Marathon1234
Training Goal for WeekRecover as quickly as possible.Resume regular running.Get your legs moving fast again.Consolidate fitness gained during marathon training.
Key Ways to Meet the Week's Goal
Combine minimal, easy running with walking and other forms of cross-training, such as easy cycling or water running, that will improve blood flow to your legs.
Get a massage and try to get extra sleep.
Eat frequent high-carb meals to replenish your energy stores.
Stick with easy runs from 20 to 60 minutes long.

Run mostly with friends and maintain a conversational pace.

Wear a heart-rate monitor and don't go above 70 percent of your maximum heart rate.
After one run, do six to eight 100-meter pick-ups, focusing on a quick turnover while remaining relaxed.

Do the middle few miles of another run at your marathon pace.
After warming up on one run, do an unstructured fartlek workout, with six to 10 surges of 30 seconds to three minutes, and with as much recovery between as you feel you need.

Do a long run that's between 2/3 and 3/4 of your normal premarathon long run.
Mileage Goal for the WeekUp to 25 percent of average premarathon mileage25 to 50 percent of average premarathon mileage50 to 70 percent of average premarathon mileage60 to 80 percent of average premarathon mileage

cocktail hour at Wawona: Sierra Nevada pale ale
I'm now on the third week post-San Francisco. The first week I spent hiking in Yosemite (part of our five year wedding anniversary!). It was perfect to walk out the aches and relax in the mountains. And get my carbs at Wawona's verandah and dining room. The goal I set for myself during some of the thinking time on those hikes was to build strength where I felt I was lacking during the marathon. I was especially sore in my back--and unsurprisingly, my glutes and hammies. So this past week I've been trying to balance short jogs with some focused strength training at the gym and doing Pilates. I got a massage on Saturday. Mentally, I'm giving myself until September--mid-September if necessary--to do whatever. In other words, to listen to my body, and not run or exercise longer than feels good.

Finally, don't forget to donate at my personal page for Bolder Options. Big thanks to those of you who already have!!! Here is a particularly apt piece I came across in the New York Times last week: "For Better Grades, Try Gym Class" It is just one more piece that helps legitimate what Bolder Options does.

Friday, August 5, 2011

San Francisco Marathon...and beyond!

Steve, me, Steve, Drew post-race!

The race for which I initially created this blog has been run! My brother, his friend, and I all ran the 26.2 miles in San Francisco. My husband ran the half marathon. We all started off together at 5:42 a.m. in the third wave. It was a cool morning in the 50s, and amazingly, not that foggy!

Steves, me, Drew, at the start!
The Bay Bridge, beautifully lit behind us at the start

Overall, San Francisco is a good marathon. I particularly enjoyed the first 13 miles. We began along the Embarcadero, and ran along the coast to the Golden Gate bridge, across it and back, then went into the Presidio, through Golden Gate park, and ended through the Mission.

Drew and I started with even 9 minute miles, right on the agreed upon pace (he will tell you how I crowed every mile about how exactly evenly I was pacing us!). Those first 13 miles were great. It was beautiful to run as the sun was coming up and watch the Golden Gate bridge come closer into view as  we ran past Chrissy field and Fort Mason. There were a few hills before the bridge, and then a doozy of a hill just after the bridge. They weren't bad, and for me, it was great to have a local guide in my brother to warn me and tell me what was coming up. As with any race, it's so important to know the course and be psychologically prepared. He had run the race before, and had done training runs on the course. In addition to the course info, it was great just to have him tell me what he knew about various landmarks and neighborhoods as we ran past/through them. Amazingly, the Golden Gate bridge was not my favorite part. Runners have two lanes, and it was still open to traffic. That made it pretty crowded and pretty loud. I was really glad we were in an early wave, because passing did require both technique and etiquette.

The worst for me were the "rolling hills" in the Presidio, just after the bridge and before Golden Gate park. Between miles 10 and 13, I was done with hills. I said to Drew, "You said there wouldn't be hills! I'm from Iowa!" When we entered Golden Gate park, around mile 14, we decided that each of us was ready to run our own race. I needed to go internal to get strong again. I was not quite in cornered honey badger mode, but Drew was feeling great. I plugged in my music and Drew took off. He ended up with a PR of 3:48 (an 8:42 pace). I was totally happy with the 4:00 I ran. I averaged 9:10 miles, even if the miles in Golden Gate park--pretty much 13-19--were the toughest and slowest for me. Still, I wasn't hurting as bad as the guy in the S/M black patent boy shorts and chains (but he probably liked it...) My mantra in those miles was "you trained for this." A positive mantra really does help! I also break down the goals. I pushed for mile 20 because then it would be "only an hour left."

Indeed, after mile 20 I could smell the barn and I was feeling okay. At that point I knew I could do it and the worst was behind me. There were a lot of downhills after the park as well, and despite the "second half" half marathoners blowing past us, they and the increased number of people cheering helped. The last two miles I was able to significantly pick up the pace.  Mile 25 was fun because of the "tempters" dressed in devils costumes, offering bourbon and candy and saying "haven't you run far enough? Just stop! Join us!" I didn't stop, I ran faster.

Exiting Golden Gate park, refreshed by seeing my husband and bro-in-law cheering
Psyched to be done and have run well!

Marathons are hard. Anyone who has run one knows that, and those who haven't usually think we're crazy. But they're also really fun. Look at us all smiling! Some of it is mind over matter and letting your training take over (miles 13-19). The rest really is enjoyable. It was great to share the first part running with my brother, and it was great to be able to share pre- and post-race jitters and triumphs with Drew and the Steves.

So what's next? Well, the big news is that I will be running the 30th annual Twin Cities marathon October 2, 2011. This will be my 3rd Twin Cities. I will be running for Bolder Options as part of their charity team. That means I need to raise $1000 in order to run! This is a big deal marathon for me. My Personal Page at Bolder Options explains why this race in particular is meaningful for me. Bolder Options is a great organization that promotes healthy bodies and minds by pairing community athletes with youth in Minneapolis. Moreover, there is a sentimental reason behind why I am running. My dad ran the first Twin Cities marathon 30 years ago, and many after that. It will be neat for me to follow in both my parents' footsteps thirty years later. I am asking for your support now. Please visit my donation page and give what you can. You'll see that I have a few incentives too (even if they are a bit specialized...)!!

Many thanks to all who gave to Planned Parenthood in support of my running the San Francisco marathon. It was of course, totally "worth the hurt" (the motto of the San Francisco marathon). I will continue to blog about running and my training and other interesting sport-and-social justice issues throughout the fall.  If you like my blog, please donate to keep me going!