A Dream Postponed

My self-imposed deadline of March 31st has come and gone, but I haven’t made up my mind about Grandma’s Marathon yet. It’s fine, it costs $115 instead of $105 to enter, but I think of it like a stock option. It’s not quite analogous, but it works for me. There were 4 possible outcomes to my plan: enter before March 31st, pay $105, race; enter before March 31st, pay $105, DNS; enter after March 31st, pay $115, race; or enter after March 31st, pay $115, DNS. I would rather pay $10 more and be more certain about my ability to run the marathon, than save $10 and find that after 15 miles my body falls apart, or to find that I have so much work during the semester that I don’t have 5-6 hours to devote to those long runs. I will not go into this race undertrained.

Now I have until May 31st to decide if I want to compete (unless the race fills up). By that point I will have run 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20 mile long runs. That 20 mile run is going to be the deciding factor, I would guess. As of March 31st, my long run had been 9 miles, which I don’t think was a good enough gauge of my strength and endurance to justify spending $105.

I do have the Fitger’s 5K coming up next weekend, which will be my first real race in a long time, and the first one I’ve done with specific training since high school. (I did do timed runs in college for physical training requirements for the NROTC, so I guess they were kind of like races.) I am looking at the forecast and getting annoyed, although it does look like it might be nice again by next weekend, in time for the race. I need to run the route of the race at some point. I also need to try to get in at least one a.m. workout, because I tend to feel like complete garbage in the morning. I’m also probably going to have to get up at the buttcrack of dawn on the 11th in order to be functional. I hear the sunrises here are beautiful.

I do plan on racing the 5k, rather than running it at a training or even tempo pace, but I also don’t plan on sabotaging my training. I won’t be collapsing in a puddle of my own vomit at the finish line. I do have some time goals in mind. My B standard, let’s call it, is 40:00. My A standard is 36:00. If I finish under 30:00, I will sign up for the marathon right then and there. A sub-30 5k is HIGHLY unlikely, so don’t think I am actually gunning for it. Achieving 29:XX or under would indicate I am significantly underestimating my running ability, hence throwing down the cash for the marathon immediately. I am pretty sure I am only slightly underestimating my running ability, although who knows? Maybe the 5k takes me 48 minutes and I light fire to my running shoes and vow to never run again because I can’t even run 3 miles under my “slow run” training pace. Maybe the 5k takes me an hour because I miss a turn. I am prepared for all possible outcomes.

In My Shoes

Oh look, a picture of my shoes, how gauche.

I took this picture after my excursion to Hartley on Saturday. They look a lot less muddy than they were, although I tried to knock a bunch of it off so it didn’t end up in my house.

I need new shoes. I find this annoying because I haven’t owned them for that long. I can’t remember when I got them but I think it was last fall. So I’ve had them maybe 6 months, and there were a few months in that time frame where I wasn’t running at all. These shoes should be lasting through this marathon training cycle at least!

These shoes are Mizuno Wave Prophecy 3s, which are normally $200+ shoes. They were on sale for the price of a reasonably-priced running shoe, so I got them because I wanted to see what a $200 shoe was like without paying $200. I am not an idiot, it would be ridiculous for a slow n00b runner to buy $200 shoes. I assumed they were on sale because they are hideous, but I believe they were just switching over to the new model, like with cars. I didn’t even know shoes worked like that.

I need new shoes because there’s a hole on the inside of the heel of both shoes. This is probably because I am doing something wrong, and I’m supposed to be slipping them on and off with a shoe horn or having a butler remove them, but I am an engineer. Factors of safety are incorporated into designs in order to ensure a product, machine, or system is safe, not only under ideal operating conditions, but under abnormal operating conditions. A freaking shoe lining shouldn’t be wearing out in six months.

I also need new shoes because I was holding my cat while wearing them a couple weeks ago, and my friend came over and she got scared when she saw him coming and peed on my shoe. I am amazed it didn’t get anywhere but my shoe, since I was holding her, but cleaning the scent of cat pee out of a shoe is not easy.

I don’t really want to spend the money on new shoes now, and I’m not getting any blisters or rubbing, so I might tough it out a bit longer. It’s not the best idea to break in new shoes right before a marathon (especially since I will not be repurchasing these shoes unless they are under $100), but if I start to get hot spots or signs of blisters, I’ll have no choice.

I’m also disappointed that $200 shoes didn’t turn me into Kara Goucher overnight. They were good shoes, though. I did find they were good at keeping water and mud out, except for the really deep puddles.

At A Medium Pace

Yesterday I had my first “medium pace” run of this training cycle. My training plan defines a “medium pace” as follows: “You should feel like you’re running faster than your normal training pace but not so fast that you can’t keep it up for a little while. You may not be able to talk very easily and your breathing will be more labored.” Ok. I wasn’t sure how hard to push it, but I knew that I needed to be done in time to watch the Bulldogs’ hockey game. I was supposed to warm up, run at this mystery pace for a mile or more, jog for a bit, repeat.

I went to the Lakewalk for the run because I didn’t want to deal with giant hills. I could gamble because the game before UMD’s was going into overtime, so it pushed our starting time back. I needed 4 miles for the day, so I decided to keep an eye on my watch and then turn around at 2 miles, instead of doing the whole Lakewalk and adding another 0.6 miles. Time was of the essence!! Hockey was occurring!

I crushed that medium pace run. I am pretty pumped about it. I ran three 1-mile intervals, and ran all 3 around 12 minutes. On the last one I got a side stitch and had to slow down to keep it from getting out of hand. I finished 4 miles in less than an hour for the first time in forever, so that was exciting.

12:27 (This was the only mile that was entirely at the faster pace)

This doesn’t mean much for the marathon yet, but it does bode well for the Fitger’s 5K in 2 weeks. I was really afraid I wouldn’t be able to run very fast or that I couldn’t keep the pace up long enough. I used to be a big quitter when running. If I felt crummy or frustrated, I would just give up. I need to continue to build mental toughness; it’s really lagging my physical fitness.

I finished up my run and made it home just in time for the hockey game to start, the Bulldogs won, and the Wild won, so it was a great day overall. I still have 14 13 miles to go this weekend (5 only 4! today and 9 on Sunday, or maybe flip-flopped), but I am a little concerned. My hip has been bugging me, just some overall soreness. I might need to back off on the 5 miler.

I’m pleased to have had a good training day after several not-so-pleasant ones. Yesterday was still cold, but the sun was shining, the lake was a gorgeous deep blue, and I enjoyed speeding up instead of plodding along. The next few days should be in the 40s or even 50s, so I hope to have a few more nice workouts.

Planning Ahead

For week 5 of the marathon training plan I’m following, the prescribed plan is: Monday rest, Tuesday 4 miles, Wednesday 5 miles, Thursday 4 miles, Friday 3 miles, Saturday 5 miles, Sunday 7 miles, total 28 miles. Since I am going out of town tomorrow (Thursday), I have had to shuffle the days around. I do plan on running while I am out of town (I’m just going to visit family and go to the NCHC hockey tournament), but I would rather shift the shorter runs to the days I’m in the Twin Cities and get more sleep and time with friends and family. There’s no way I could do a 7 mile run on Sunday either before or after getting in the car for 2.5 hours. I don’t want to do it before because I want to get home to my cats, and I don’t want to do it after, because who wants to run after a long drive?

I front-loaded my running schedule to accommodate my plans. I decided to move my rest day to… probably Saturday. I took it easy last Sunday with just a hike (note, a short hike is not a rest day. A rest day is a day of rest, not a day off running.), so I feel like I can handle the extra mileage.

Monday I ran 4 miles. I was originally going to take a rest day, as it was raining, but I got home from work and it wasn’t too cold, so I headed out, even though it was 7:00. I finished the run in the dark, which I hate (these sidewalks are treacherous with their various obstacles and I’m afraid I’ll trip), but there was daylight for most of it. I pushed a little more than normal and ran the whole way instead of walking the hills, so my heart rate was up a bit, but I felt good.

Tuesday I ran 7.9 miles. The extra 0.9 was insurance in case I need to shorten one of my later runs. I didn’t push the pace at all, but my heart rate was a little high thanks to an afternoon cup of coffee. I also discovered (or re-discovered) that Rice Lake Road doesn’t have any sidewalks. What is with this city and its lack of sidewalks? Annoying. The speed limit on Rice Lake Road is 40-45 mph, so I felt a little vulnerable. I tried running on the side of the road but it was difficult, as the ground was spongy and covered in matted-down tall grasses. It’s a shame because I liked the route, but I’m not sure I’d run it again. Maybe earlier in the day.

Tuesday night we drove around trying to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. We drove up Highway 61 along the lake and stopped at a few points, but didn’t see anything except stars. I’m not going to complain, the stars were gorgeous and standing on the lakeshore in the middle of the night is so peaceful, but there were some unbelievable photos from around the area of some spectacular displays, and I missed out. As we were driving along I thought about Grandma’s Marathon. I’ll potentially be running along that same road in a few months. And probably wishing I was dead already. Maybe. We also drove out to Park Point and got a bit of a glimpse, but nothing much. The lake was calm and there’s still plenty of ice built up along the shore, so it was oddly quiet on the beach. We didn’t stay long because the park was closed (and it’s a good thing we left because a police car was coming over the bridge as we were leaving the point, probably to kick people out of the park) and I was pretty chilled from the run earlier. Even with gloves my hands had been cold on the run and the chill spread through my whole body.

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel today after a long run, but I actually feel amazing today. I thought my back and hips would be sore, but they aren’t. I decided last night I’d run the Lakewalk after work, and I packed workout gear in my backpack and everything, and then I forgot my running shoes. Sigh. I went home at lunch and got them, so the day is salvaged, but it was still a totally unnecessary stop. I wish I was a morning person.

On a completely unrelated note, I read this article, interviews with three people who recently set treadmill records: fastest 50k by a woman, longest distance in 12 hours on the treadmill, and fastest 50k by a man. The guy who ran the 50k missed the record by 47 seconds, so he ran it again 36 hours later and beat it. WHAT IS THE POINT? I would die of boredom.

Third Thoughts

I went for my first run in thirteen days today. A lot of things happened. It started off with some poor nutritional decisions that led to a dearth of sleep that led to dehydration that led to getting behind at work and in school. I’m sure someone could comb back through how I spent my time over the last couple weeks and point out times where I could have squeezed in a few miles here and there, but I don’t regret taking the time off from running.

I am on spring break as of 3 PM today (when I finished the second of two midterms on the docket for the day) and it is unseasonably warm here so I am thrilled to get back in my running shoes. Between the warm weather, the time change, and the overall longer days, I hope I can arrange my running schedule so I don’t have to run on the treadmill at all (unless it is raining or it gets cold again, which I am sure it will).

I previously said I had second thoughts about my heart rate training plan. It was getting too frustrating; I was tired of being out in the cold so long and struggling to keep my heart rate down because I was cold, which slowed me down and kept me out in the cold longer, and so on. Well, it’s warm now.

I ran 6.4 miles today, which was not the smartest training decision ever. I mean, it was fine, I felt good, but I am sure ramping my mileage back up is a stupid decision and could lead to injury. Since I’m not pushing the pace and I’m using a run-walk method to keep my heart rate down when going uphill, I am not too worried about it.

For the first five miles, I ran the same route I did on my last run. On that run, it was 25 degrees but the wind was awful and cold. Today, it was around 46 but the wind was mild. Comparing the two:

Mile 1
2/28: 15:24, 160 bpm
3/1: 15:00, 151 bpm

Mile 2
2/28: 18:24, 148 bpm
3/1: 17:36, 147 bpm

Mile 3
2/28: 17:55, 146 bpm
3/1: 17:16, 142 bpm

Mile 4
2/28: 19:14, 148 bpm
3/1: 18:08, 143 bpm

Mile 5
2/28: 15:55, 145 bpm
3/1: 15:09, 143 bpm

So after 13 days off, I’m able to run the same course 45 seconds faster (on average) than I did the previous time. This tells me I haven’t lost much fitness (or didn’t have much to lose), and it also tells me that the weather had a significant effect on my heart rate and pace. I should be back on track with marathon training starting next week, and I’m going to try to get some decent mileage this weekend so my weekly mileage isn’t too far off where it should be. The dream of Grandma’s Marathon isn’t dead!

Week Two Update

Oh man, last week was a big fat failure, and it’s the lowest mileage week of the program. I may have bitten off more than I can chew here, as far as the time commitment is concerned.

First, the mileage recap for the week:
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 2 miles, treadmill
Wednesday: 3 miles, treadmill
Thursday: 3 miles*, treadmill (*I think. About 20 minutes into the run, I touched the treadmill screen and a static charge zapped it and it stopped the belt and reset the display to the time, as if it had just turned on. I wasn’t looking at the time or the distance when it shut off, though I remembered to stop my watch eventually. The watch does distance indoors, but it does it incorrectly [either that or my treadmill is poorly calibrated], so I had to guess at the total distance I did. I guess there’s something to be said for staring at the treadmill display the whole time after all!)
Friday: rest (GI issues)
Saturday: 5.58 miles, road
Sunday: rest (studied)

Whoops. 3 rest days. 13.8 miles. I had planned to recoup the lost miles between Saturday and Sunday, running 6 on Saturday and 4 on Sunday, instead of 5 and 3. Saturday’s run ended up being unpleasant. I wore my chains and for the first bit of the run, I thought it was silly, because the sidewalk was relatively clear, but eventually I ran through slush, snow, ice, and all manner of combinations of the three, so I was glad for the traction as well as the feet protection. I was all excited for the downhill on the 5th of 6 miles after trudging miserably up Arrowhead Road, but the wind was so brutal I was running at about the same pace I had been going uphill. I mean, not quite, but I was running 16:xx and 15:xx paces during a downhill, and my heart rate wasn’t even that low. I am slow, but not usually that slow. I cut the run short by about half a mile due to the cold, and also due to overall anxiety about the rest of the stuff I had to do that day.

Sunday I got up, planned on sandwiching my run between homework sessions, and even put on some of my running gear early so I could jump right up when I was done with my homework. The homework took so long that I realized I couldn’t justify running 4.5 miles, which would take over an hour not including transit time (I was going to go to the Lakewalk since I know it’s 4.5 miles), when I had additional work to do on my take-home test, due the next day. (I finished with plenty of time left, the panic was unwarranted.)

I have to re-think something here. Either I have to reconsider running the marathon in June, or I have to reconsider how I’m approaching my training. I am running slowly, but I also haven’t hit my target heart rate in two weeks, so I’m not really accomplishing anything. I am not dedicated enough to meeting that target heart rate, and it is too cold out to make that heart rate easy to accomplish, even at a slow pace. In short, I am running slowly for no reason. My runs are taking too much time, time that I don’t have this semester. I still think this training is extremely valuable, but I think I’m going to have to abandon it or modify it for this training cycle.

Here’s my plan, which is basically arbitrary:
I am going to continue training for Grandma’s Marathon in June.
I’m still going to monitor my heart rate and my rate of perceived exertion in order to make sure I am running easy on easy days, hard on hard days, and medium on medium days. I just can’t commit to 142 bpm as a maximum heart rate.
Whether or not I run Grandma’s, when this training cycle is over, I will give this training another shot, as the weather will be warm enough that I’m not struggling to balance heart rate and homeostasis.
I’ll use metabolic efficiency training to train for the Mankato Marathon in October, assuming I don’t have an injury or a miserable and traumatic experience if I run Grandma’s.

I don’t plan on ramping up speed like crazy, I don’t have anything other than an “easy” run until the end of March, so I will still be running conservatively. We’ll see how things go after my first run this evening! Enthusiasm!

Week One: In the Books

Well, I made it through Week 1 of 18 for this marathon training program. Not that it was particularly difficult, since the plan called for 19 miles and I’ve been averaging right around there in the month or so leading up to the beginning of the training. Since I missed a run on Thursday due to my stupid furnace, I recaptured those three miles on Friday and Saturday, adding a mile to Friday’s run and two to Saturday’s. I ended up with this:

Monday: 2 miles (treadmill)
Tuesday: 2 miles (treadmill)
Wednesday: 3 miles (treadmill)
Thursday: shivered a lot
Friday: 4 miles (road)
Saturday: 4 miles (trail)
Sunday: 4 miles (treadmill)

I was stuck on the treadmill yesterday, thanks to sub-zero temperatures. I’m not sure it actually made it to positive degrees F, but I didn’t leave the house. Week 2 calls for 18 miles, with a long run of 5 miles, which I think I can get outdoors. I might end up swapping Saturday and Sunday and doing the “long” run on Friday or Saturday, though I’ll make that final decision based on how I’m feeling, the weather report, and the hockey situation. I should be able to get outside three times (Fri, Sat, Sun) based on the predicted temperatures for the week, so that’s good. 4 miles on the treadmill today was not pleasant, although I listened to music and sang along to some wonderful power ballads, one of the reasons I failed to stay under my goal heart rate for, oh, the third run in a row.

I am doing better with time management, after my screed last week on the subject. I skipped the women’s hockey games this past weekend to give myself a mental break from the rink (especially since there will be home playoffs plus men’s home games this coming weekend), I started and finished homework earlier, and I skipped a run without feeling guilt about it. Of course, it helped that I don’t have any lab reports due or major homework due, since I have tests instead, but I still didn’t have any frantic late studying nights. One week isn’t much, but it’s a start toward a more balanced life.