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Friday, March 29, 2013

Getting ready for Crescent City

Hey, it almost rhymes!
Tonight I'm laying out my Varsity Sports singlet (we made matchy-poo singlets again and I broke down and bought one: I feel like I need to support the group that I run with!) and shorts and trying to make a last-minute decision about which shoe to wear tomorrow.

I'm also taking a minute to consider my pacing and splits for tomorrow's 10k.

Two weeks ago I ran a really pathetic 5k (for which I won ANOTHER coupon for a Road ID; I can now keep one on every pair of shoes!). I followed that by an equally pathetic 10k last week, which for some reason I am quite satisfied with. I guess when you only run a 10k once every five years you become easy to please (the last time I ran the Crescent City Classic I was thrilled to finish under 48 minutes - like, boasting proud).
Something odd happened in both of these races. My pacing was bizarre.
Race #1, a 5k, had pretty similar miles 1 and 3 and a really slow mile 2 (cramps). I am not skilled at the 5k, but I'd expect to gradually slow over the course.
Race #2, a 10k, had exactly even splits for 6 miles. 6:40 on the Garmin dot, nery a 6:37 or 6:42 amongst 'em. This reminded me of my last half-marathon, which was also pretty evenly paced, at least by halves: the first half I ran with friends and the second half I left them and sped up, but each 6ish mile segment had relatively same splits for each mile.
What does this tell me about the races?
Well, race #1 is an aberration. I don't run 5ks all out, get tired, then get a second wind suddenly. I either crash and burn or never put out enough effort. So I'm scratching that race from my McMillan calculator.
Race #2? I think the even splits indicate lack of effort. I didn't run the race hard enough. I understand that a smart marathon should be negative split or slightly positive split, depending on your viewpoint. But it should generally be almost even (I, of course, firmly positive split most races, because I am a bad pacer).
However, in a shorter distance, I'd like to see myself either:
a. Positive split because I was completely out of juice for the last mile: left it all on the course miles 1 - 5!
b. Negative split because I really, really put the pedal down at the end of the race and used up all my energy.
Basically I think that if you can even split a race, you should have run a negative split: you didn't give enough at the end. And that's true of last race. I ran very solidly and evenly and let my mind wander to the ethanol content of fuel and adjusted my ipod and played with my hair. No all-out sprint at the end. Bad.
My chance for redemption is tomorrow, and I will try hard to run a better (and faster!) race!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Running with Rachel: weekly mileage

Rachel Booth, Marathon-Olympic-trials-qualifier, is a local runner who writes a training column for our paper's (crappy) website. A recent  article is on increasing running milage. Most of the article is basic information (10% rule, etc), but what really took me aback was when she discussed her own mileage. She's a 50 mpw runner with a 1:17 half marathon!
For some reason I always think of fast runners as being in the 80 mpw minimum category: especially distance runners like Booth.
By the way, I had a chance to meet Rachel when I came in third behind her at the Middendorf's Manchac 10 mile race. She beat me by nine and a half minutes. But that's still one of the things I love about running. All of us hobby joggers can get out and actually race with great runners.

I bring up mileage because I have recently dropped mine a lot: I purposefully kept my miles low since I'm still kind of injured, and couldn't build up to a lot of miles since I only had about 4 weeks to prepare for a 10k after my comeback half marathon in February. But with the surprise addition of the Azalea Trail 10k last week, that turned into a hasty 2 weeks of training, followed by a week of taper (race), then another week of taper (race this weekend). That means I've been pretty solidly in the 30's for miles per week: way less than usual for me, and in my opinion not enough for a 10k. But I didn't totally fall apart at the race last week, so apparently it is possible to train for a short race on under 40 miles per week (heck, for my first marathon I was rarely in the 30 mpw category, running closer to 25 most weeks).
How about you? What does your weekly mileage average? And does it change based on upcoming races?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Crescent City Classic: the record breaker?

It seems that, with some changes to the course this year, the Crescent City Classic 10k this Saturday could lead to new records. Read about all the exciting possibilities and the fast elite field in this article (which quotes our Varsity coach!). The CCC has always drawn an elite field, but this year looks like it will be a race you want to watch!
Read about top-seeded Isaiah Koech here

Apparently records from the old course didn't actually count because, as a point-to-point course, the start and finish were too far from each other. Course modifications this year remedied that, so now even more elite runners are eager to race our fast, flat 10k.
Yup, I'm excited.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Azalea Trail 10k: team NOTC!

This weekend I trucked over to Mobile to run the Azalea Trail 10k with the NOTC team. I arrived Friday night just in time for a team dinner, and I got to meet my teammates then. I honestly didn't know anyone else on the team except for Jennifer, who works for the New Orleans Track Club. We ended up going out for pizza, and I got to meet the other runners. Most of the names were already familiar to me, especially the guys, since they win most of the local races, and it was good to put a personality to a name. As I predicted, we had an enjoyable time and it wasn't uncomfortable at all. A group of runners will always have something to talk about. I was a little surprised by the girls' team, though. For one thing, I was on it. That's a bad sign. For another, it was not made up of the women I thought were on it (which I surmised by reading their email addresses from group emails, guessing at first names). I don't want to sound rude or snarky here, and I am not trying to be a jerk, because all of these women are faster than I am, but it just wasn't the fastest team in the world. Last year NOTC had girls running 35's and 37's, and this year none of us ran under 41 minutes. I don't know why that happened, but I'll be honest: I felt a little less like an imposter than I would have rooming with three girls running under 38 minutes.
Our NOTC singlets. 
Anyway, we had a collective sleepless night in the world's hardest beds (although I slept better than everyone else, since I'm a heavy sleeper) and woke up in time for a warm-up at 7:15. I made sure I started out with this coffee first, obviously made for runners:
It got me going.
We did 20 minutes warm up, then ran back to the hotel for a quick bathroom break before the start. We easily found the guys at the start in our matching NOTC singlets, and by the time we wormed into the crowd the race was starting.

I was a little unsure how to run this race. I've only actually raced one 10k before, and it was a disaster (last year - mid long run - included an urgent bathroom break). I talked to Andrew Lilly, who coaches our track group for Varsity Sports, and asked for advice earlier in the week. Since neither of us knew how fast I could race (given my low mileage, nagging injury, and general out-of-shapeness), he told me to start a little faster than half-marathon pace and divide the race into 10-minute segments with different goals. I followed his advice.
Segment one: Goal was to not go out too fast or too slow. I let the other girls go at first and ran easily. My pace at 10 minutes was right at 6:40.
Segment two: Goal was to choose and settle into a pace. I felt fine, so I stayed where I was. I caught up with Jennifer on my team and left Lauren a little behind. I stayed about 10 seconds behind Jennifer for the majority of the race. Pace? Still 6:40.
Segment three: Goal was to assess place and "race" this part (passing people, speeding up if possible). I didn't do any of this. I kept Jennifer exactly 10 seconds ahead. I am queen of saving energy for later miles...even when there will not be any later miles. Marathoner at heart! Also I will go on the record saying I do not like passing people. Pace...6:40.
Segment four: Goal is hang on and don't die. I hung on. I didn't die. I got a side cramp, but it went away. I enjoyed the smooth, easy, fast course and suddenly I was at 6 miles! Pace: Yeah, 6:40.
End of race: Then I finished, just seconds behind Jennifer. I felt good, a little leg pain and a little sore but not very tired. My time was 41:30, which is like 6:41 pace, but Garmin overall pace was 6:40 and every mile split was 6:40, which I think is hilarious.

The Azalea Trail race is an insanely fast course: I am positive it is all downhill (although it's almost a loop, so that can't be), but still, I didn't feel like I put very much effort into this race. So I think I can take some time off for next week's Crescent City Classic unless I just don't recover well this week (read: hamstring becomes a monster again). The team did well: the top three (Liz, Jennifer, and I) finished within 25 seconds of each other and we scored for some kind of team placement (um, this race is kind of a cluster and I think they scored all the teams wrong...I believe we were second but the director insisted we were first and sent us home with an award). The guys easily took first, once the scoring was corrected (yup, theirs was wrong, too). I absolutely loved running with a team, and I realized that this was the first time I "played" for a team since soccer when I was four!
Next up is the Crescent City Classic, and I welcome any tips for 10ks before that race. I liked Lilly's advice and I think it's smart, but I can use all the help I can get and need your advice, too!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Off to Alabama!

Tonight I'm leaving straight from work to drive to Mobile for the Azalea Trail 10k tomorrow morning. I just got the hotel info last night, and I'll be rooming with the rest of the girls, none of whom I know. Awkward. Also I should add that both guys and girls New Orleans Track Club teams are very fast, with most of the girls running SEVERAL minutes faster than I at the 10k, and the guys doing like 33 minutes. So I'll be very sore-thumbish in that crowd. It should still be fun, though. I never met a group of runners I didn't like!
Leg report: Stiff, sore, obnoxious. Cannot get this hamstring to let me run pain-free! Will it affect the 10k? Not sure. It definitely needs more attention, though, soon. I feel like I can't progress until I can run without wincing!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I can't wait to take a picture by the bean!

This is not to say that I'm running the Chicago marathon. I actually thought about it - it turns out that my week of vacation (which I randomly picked last year) is the same week as that race. And now I have a place to stay, too. My sister moved to Chicago! She's a librarian, and applied for a job at a university in Chicago (her current position was with a private university in Georgia). They flew her up for an interview, and she got the job. She's so cute. The first thing she mentioned to me when she called is that I should visit and run the Chicago marathon. I didn't want to register while injured, so I didn't try this year, but now I guess it will have to go on my marathon bucket list!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

One step at a time

Comeback, one step at a time.
Today I ran a 5k. I've run this race 3 years in a row, and won for the women all three years...very small race, as you can probably imagine given my 5k talents (there are none).
This year was pretty humbling. Last year I ran this right after a grueling Boston marathon on the previous Monday (although to be truthful I was not in bad shape after Boston, thanks to my slower pace from the heat). I ran a 19:55, I think. It was my first 5k under 20 minutes.

This year I ran 20:10. Ouch. I also had a bad race. I never have fabulous 5ks, but this time I had a good first mile, a terrible second mile, and a decent 3rd mile. Truth is, this race was poor timing for me and I got doubled over with cramps in the second mile. I knew at the start that would probably happen, and I had to make a choice: take ibuprofen on an empty stomach and suffer upset stomach and GI bleeding later, or skip the ibuprofen and run through cramps. I took the ibuprofen and ended up with cramps AND an upset stomach. Stupid body.
Mile 1 was a 6:17. Mile 3 was a 6:22. Mile hell was a 6:48!

I'm trying to be reasonable and realize that hey, comeback is slow. The most important thing right now is to recover from multiple injuries and not re-injure anything. And the good news today was that I felt pretty good: no hamstring pain (but I noticed from the last race that sometimes the pain is delayed by several days), and my osteitis pubis is not acting up very much. I have been diligently strengthening my hips and pelvis, and last week I sort of had a break-through: my SI joints actually started moving a little. I could tell because the surrounding tissue was sore and tender! Their movement takes some of the mobility off the pubic symphysis, which really helps with the pain.

Bad news is that I think I have some imbalances that still need correction. I continue to have more right calf stiffness and soreness than the left calf, and I can feel when I run that I hold my feet a little differently on each side. But I'm being careful and trying to do everything I can to overcome these wiggles and niggles by strengthening small balancing muscles.

Next race: Azalea Trail Run 10k, a week from today! Here's to a fast recovery from today and not humiliating the New Orleans Track Club too much with my slowness!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Which gel should I take?

Ever wonder which gel is best for you? I do. I found out the hard way that I absolutely cannot tolerate Cliff gels (too bad, love their bars). I had to stop stockstill in the middle of a marathon to not throw up. Horrible.
But this little flow chart can help. You can see a larger (readable) image here.

Read up on it at Jonathan Savage's site!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Actually I really like this shoe

Does anyone remember the Mezamashii Run Project from Mizuno? It was a big deal a year ago, Perhaps you might have read that when I received an invitation, I was debating which shoe to choose.
I played a mean trick and let my readers vote on two models, then I went with a third one that I didn't even tell you about.
Msfitrunner recommended the Musha 4. She's sharp. I think she knows me better than I know myself.

I went with her choice and you know what? I love this shoe. But I didn't want to review it until I had actually worn it, and kind of worn it out. I've been injured for so long that it took me awhile to really get some good feel for the shoe. It is hideous (what is the deal with all the bright workout wear all of a sudden? I look like a circus out for a jog), but who cares? It's light as a feather with a little bounce.

I've been afraid to wear Mizuno in the past because I could always feel the wave under my foot - plus they seemed narrow to me. These men's sized Mushas don't feel narrow at all, and they fit my particular foot like a glove. This could be a problem for the average runner, since my feet are very weird. I can feel the wave underfoot - but only when standing still. It somehow disappears when I start running.

So, the gist of the shoe?
- Light, roomy, comfortable
- Mild (very mild) stability
- Not a lot of cushion, but some bounce
- Good for races and excellent on the track
- Not good for long runs unless you don't love cushion; my legs felt fatigue after just 7 miles.

FYI there is now a women's model; it doesn't matter to me because I wear men's anyway. I'm thinking this will be the shoe for the upcoming Azalea Trail Race 10k, but not for the Crescent City Classic: I think I'll need to wear my more-cushioned Kinvaras just to handle the rough surface of Esplanade Avenue.

Monday, March 11, 2013

This is exciting!

When I got this email from the NOTC (New Orleans Track Club):

I immediately texted my friend Celeste that we were now professional runners. Paying for a hotel? Free entry? Yeah, pretty sure that makes me an elite...despite the late email that makes this seem suspiciously like I'm second string. Hey, that's ok, I'll take your leftovers!

I accepted, but Celeste can't make it: this means I'm going on a weekend trip with a bunch of people I don't know and sharing a hotel room with a bunch of them. What an adventure!
Of course, the timing of this race is bad: it's a week before the Crescent City Classic 10k, so I'll be just undertrained, which is a legit fear for me since I'm just coming slowly off injury.

When I first got the email I was worried, since I've never run on trails before, but then I clicked over to the website and it's a road race. It's just has "trail" in the name. They shouldn't do that. Some of us are easily confused. It's actually some kind of super fast course with a real live elite field (darn, I thought that was me) and a pretty nice after-party (with massages!). I'm excited to run it but nervous that I will be slow and let the NOTC down!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Foody Friday: Make your own Greek Yogurt

Well, ok, not quite. Actually I think this is called "yogurt cheese" but it's very simple and pretty close to Greek yogurt. And it's less expensive: a 16 ounce container of Chobani is $3.99, and this recipe yields 16 ounces for less than half that.

All you need is a 32-ounce container of yogurt, some cheese cloth (you can buy it at most grocery stores or craft stores), and a few twist ties.
I bought lowfat plain yogurt for $1.59/32 ounces

Double the cheese cloth and drape it over a container you will use to catch the drainage. Dump the yogurt in and draw up the corners so that you have a pouch of yogurt. Hold it up for a minute and let it drip off the majority of the whey.

Then tie the top with a twist tie and tie the ends of the cheese cloth around your kitchen sink faucet. I put a container under to catch the whey because I use it when I make bread. Of course. I'm so Little House on the Prairie.
You can also use a twist tie to secure to the faucet if you're worried about your knottsmanship.

It's best to do this in winter, because timing works out perfectly if you tie your yogurt up right before bed. When you get up, it's been draining overnight in your cold kitchen for about 6 hours, and you have nice thick yogurt.
Thickened yogurt and a whole lot of whey

Put the yogurt back in its original container - it should be about reduced by half -
Half-full of creamy, thick yogurt.

 - and either discard the whey or use for cooking.
You can drain the watery part off the whey and try to get your stray cats to drink the rest. But it's a great substitute for milk or water when baking, too.

This makes a good substitute for Greek yogurt or sour cream.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Life lately

I have wandered away from blogging quite a bit recently, since all I had to report was how injured I was and what bizarre new treatment I was currently trying. So I think I need to do some back-tracking and catch everyone up on a few areas:

1. Work: This January I took a big, big blow to my little pharmacy. I'm located inside a hospital, which is part of a large chain of for-profit hospitals. The chain decided to go with a cost-saving insurance plan that requires employees to use CVS only. I manage a I just lost over 50% of my prescription volume, and over 90% of my profits (this company reimburses pharmacies well, whereas I lose money on most Medicare and Medicaid claims, so it turns out that employee rx's accounted for 90% of my profit. Ouch). This is creating a very stressful environment at work, to say the least. I'm trying to snag some new business to make up for this loss, but it's going to be difficult.

2. Play: We've actually been spending a lot of time just doing fun things, since I haven't been running as much and our weekends aren't filled with races. We took a 3-day weekend and visited Carville, Lousiana - I intend to post about that later; we went to Mardi Gras parties, including one at my pastor's house; we had a housewarming sangria party with friends and I won the taste-test with my white wine honey dew-berry version; we attended the Irish Network New Orleans black-tie gala (and this year I didn't make a dress. I ran out of time). I rarely post about these things because I am bad about taking pictures!

3. Running: After last week's half-marathon and the return of my hamstring pain, I had to decide what to do moving forward. I talked to my PT and he thinks I have residual pain from nerve damage. He doesn't feel any damaged muscle areas or weakness in the muscle, so he's ok with continuing my slow return to running. I am very aggravated, though. Every time I run I still feel some discomfort from osteitis pubis, and now I have pain in my hamstring sometimes, too. This is really making running less enjoyable. So next step is to try to get in with my doctor: sort of to get his opinion, and also to get his prescription for PT should I continue to need it.

4. Racing: My next race is the Crescent City Classic, a 10k race I have scoffed at in the past for being too crowded, poorly managed, and not even fun. But it is under new management, and that brought some positive changes, like seeded corrales and streamlined registration. I got a deal at the RnR expo and registered for just $25, which is the lowest price of the year. I'm combining training with my return to running by loosely following an intermediate-level training plan. It only has mild speed work and is low-milage, so it should be easy on my body,

Sunday, March 3, 2013

I love these: wing tip loafers

I got these suede flats from Target on clearance for $12.48. I love them so much that I got another pair, even cuter, in gray with bright yellow detail.

They're comfortable and fun, and they don't slip off my feet when I walk (my pet peeve with most flats). And there are still some sizes available if you want your own pair!

Friday, March 1, 2013

And now it hurts :(

Well, this is strange. After several rest days following Sunday's half marathon, my hamstring pain returned. This was after rest. I am baffled. It started while I was sitting in a meeting! And strangely it was better after a run. I just don't know anymore. I had plenty of time to wonder why this pain keeps reoccurring as I sat on Claiborne Ave for 15 minutes this morning, waiting for this trucker to figure out how to get into the Taco Bell parking lot:
Do they serve breakfast there or something?
Despite that, my pondering left me still lost. Chronic tendinopathy? Nerve damage? Who knows.

So, that was pretty frustrating. But I am still doing better than I was before. I just wish the pain had stayed away!