Custom Search

Monday, October 29, 2018

Marathon training, week 13

Monday: Easy 5 + strides
Tuesday: K's: Ten x 1000m at 10k pace with 400 jog. 3:56, :55, :54, :56, :53, :55, :54, :54, :55, :49. Strides to start. This was ...ok. A little off-pace, but at least I had a group to run with, so I let that slide. This whole marathon cycle I've been on my own, so I'll take any company I can get! 
Wednesday: 5 easy.
Thursday: Supposed to be ten miles at aerobic pace with 1-min surges at the start of each of the last 5 miles, but it was pouring rain and pitch black, and it was all I could do not to fall flat on my face in a pothole. I did throw the surges in once I got off St. Charles and into the much safer park, but settled for easy pace otherwise. Ten at 7:48 pace. 
Friday: 9 miles conversational pace - about 7:44, fastish, but it was cool out.
Saturday: Jazz half. With a warm-up and cool-down, 19 miles. 
Sunday: Supposed to be an hour easy; the group went for the Bayou loop, so I ended up with almost ten, but we kept the pace pretty slow, so hopefully that didn't do much damage. 
Weekly mileage: 71.5

A good week: a PR, high mileage, workouts that felt easy.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

My annual Jazz Half PR

I feel like I just wrote this post, but that was last year: Jazz half marathon, PR. Same thing this year!

The Jazz half is one of my favorite races, and I was happy to run the race even though I doubted I'd PR: we are mid-marathon training, and this year was a little harder than last year. We're racing in early December instead of mid-January, so we're further into the heavy training, and plus last year I took a day off for mini-taper before the race. Not so this year. So I didn't expect much. I also had no idea what kind of shape I'm in. I haven't run a race uncomplicated by some odd factor, like insane weather or a short course, in months, and my workouts have been a little slow, actually.

I got to the race start really early, like 6 am, and easily picked up my packet. My group met up at 6:15 for a 3-mile easy warm-up. I was a little worried about the weather, because instead of being a crisp fall day, it was quite damp. But the humidity actually burned off as the sun came up, and the day became nicer as the race progressed! We ended up with low to mid 60's and sunny!

The race started inauspiciously. For one thing, I realized that I'd left both my Gu and my sunglasses in the car. I found out that there would be Poweraid on the course, so I wasn't worried about missing the Gu, but I knew that the course up St. Charles Ave on the way back would be full sun straight in my eyes (later, after the race, I found out I'd forgotten one more thing: after being particularly annoyed and frustrated that my feet were inexplicably sliding around in my shoes, I found that I had forgotten to put on my running socks, and ran the race in the thin and cheap dollar store socks I sleep in!). And then the race was delayed, a long 15+ minute wait for police to signal that the course was clear. While we waited, I accidentally let my Garmin go into energy-save mode, and when I turned it back on, it couldn't find a satellite. Not that you can trust your Garmin downtown anyway, what with all the tall buildings in the way.

Finally, we started, and I tried to just run controlled and rather slow. Coach Jimi had recommended doing 5-10 at marathon pace, then speeding up, but I was having trouble telling what pace I was running exactly.
I train with this great group of people, who all ran great! (Yes, I stole David's glasses)

Miles 1-5: Once I finally got a satellite, my pace was way off; plus, I kept missing splits. For the first few miles I ran with the women's 5k winner (for real. This race is very much all about the half marathon; the 5k is tiny!). I encouraged her for a while, but eventually moved ahead. Somehow I got distracted during all of this, and by the time we'd moved onto St. Charles and I saw a mile marker, it was mile 4, and I'd missed splits for 2 and 3. I could also tell I was way, way off on my Garmin already. At mile 5 I saw that I was a full 35 seconds off the mile marker! So that certainly made pacing hard. But I felt like I ran 6:50 or around there for miles 2-4 after a too-fast 6:39 for mile one. I picked the pace up at five, and passed the older gentleman I'd been running near (he asked me if I was first female, which was cute, but heck no - this year this race got a big, fast crowd and I was nowhere near!).

Miles 6-7: Down St. Charles was awesome - so many people I knew were out cheering! I heard my name SO many times in this race, like...fifty times. It was so cool. At mile 6 I passed the Varsity Sports group, manning the relay exchange, and got a ton of cheers. I felt great this whole time, now running low 6:40's.

Miles 8-9: Once I got to Audubon Park, I decided to run a strong loop through the park, then start some surges once I got back on St. Charles. The park is my home turf, so I love this part, but I also hate that it's packed with people. There was a ton of weaving/passing here, and while I still felt great, I started to get a little tired in here. But I also passed two guys, which was a boost (I never saw another women for the whole race!)

Miles 10-11: UGH. Straight down St. Charles, and the sun was glaring into my eyes. And I also didn't see the ten mile marker and missed that split. And I totally forgot to throw some surges in. But I was still getting a ton of cheers from spectators and other runners heading the other way, and now I was running mid-6:30's.

Miles 12-13.1: Tactical error, here. I had my eyes on another runner far in front of me, a strong and experienced member of our group, and I allowed our distance to guide my pacing, almost subconsciously. But I didn't realize that he was feeling bad and slowing down. When mile 12 beeped, I'd slowed to a 6:39, and I didn't love that. I picked it up for mile 13. It ended up being a 6:25, so I like that, although I had zero kick for the finish. But as I neared the clock, I noticed excitedly that it was still in the 1:26's! Even that didn't motivate me to a fast finish, and I crossed in 1:27:04. I was stunned. I had no idea I'd run anywhere close to that time. My pie-in-the-sky goal was 1:27:59. Instead, I ran 6:38 pace, eleven seconds per mile faster than last year, and it felt...dare I say...almost easy?!

I'm very happy with this race, and thrilled with my time; I felt smooth and controlled the whole way, and this gives me a little more confidence for marathon training.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Day 3 in Scotland: walking the West Highland Way

Our second day of walking was definitely the farthest, with 20+ miles of trail plus a mile and a half of additional walking to get to our the town where we'd spend the night.
We spent the morning in woods near Loch Lomond, walking almost entirely on rocky paths with about an inch of water. The views of the lake were beautiful! We made an early stop at a hotel for a packed lunch of sandwiches, which I then carried with me until lunch.

Halfway through the morning, we came to signage pointing us to Rob Roy's cave. We ventured toward it - it seemed like the path vanished and turned into a sudden drop off into the water - and ran into another walker, coming back from the cave. He flat-out told us not to attempt it; it was a bit of a climb and slide over boulders, and not easy to avoid falling. Obviously I took that as incentive to clamber over the rocks, carrying both backpacks PLUS my little bag of sandwiches, and coaxing my terrified sister step by step, to the cave. Got to admit, it's pretty remote. Clever hiding place, Rob.

Afterward a sweet British couple offered to take our picture by the sign pointing to the cave, although they were mightily confused by the fact that I wanted the sandwiches included in the picture.

And then...and then the day got rough.

Because we walked and walked, and Melissa got tired, and it got dark, and then we were walking in a muddy cow pasture late at night and couldn't see anything, and it was raining. And then FINALLY we got to Crianlarich at 9 pm! Our sweet bed and breakfast host drove us, mud and all, to one of just a few restaurants in the town, calling the proprietor and begging him to keep the kitchen open for us. Thank goodness - I was cold and hungry, and a glass of Malbec and a venison burger was just the ticket! This kindness was so typical of the hospitality we received throughout our trip.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Marathon training, weeks 11 and 12

Oops, forgot last week! 
Week 11:
Monday: Easy 6.
Tuesday: A terrible tempo on the bridges. Supposed to be 3, 2, and 1 miles at tempo with 2 minute jog rest; after a tempo Friday, a race Saturday, a long run with workout Sunday, and finally easy miles Monday - I was too exhausted for tempo pace. I ran between HMP and MP. Almost 12 miles with warm up and cool down.
Wednesday: 5 easy.
Thursday: Ten miles plus strides - easy paced. 
Friday: Hallelujah! Temperatures IN THE 60's, AMAZING. Supposed to be a ten mile aerobic run with 2 minute surges at the start of each mile, starting with mile 2, but we all ran them way too fast, enjoying the cool weather. My average pace for the workout portion was about 6:48, which made me wonder if my marathon pace goal wasn't too extreme after all?
Saturday: Silly me, I dragged my tired legs out into the suddenly-hot-and-humid-again weather and attempted a 5k. I was second overall and first female, but the course was way short.18:39 - on pace for slim PR if the course had been long enough.
Sunday: Right after a race, a tough long run: twenty miles. Ten warm up, 2x4 miles at MP with 1 mile aerobic pace between. (6:49, :56, :56, :54) and (6:51, :57, :49, :54). I was happy with the run, but totally exhausted the rest of the day!

70.2 miles this week. Not good. I am quite wary of the 70 MPW barrier; I broke it once before and simultaneously broke my foot!

Week 12:
Monday: Off. I've been alternating off/easy on Mondays.
Tuesday: An easy workout 16x400m with 1 minute standing rest. Pace 5k or faster. About 8.5 miles total for the night.
Wednesday: 5 easy.
Thursday: Twelve miles in gorgeous weather! Down below 70 again! Easy.
Friday: It warmed up some, but I had a good run anyway, that included a 6-mile tempo: 6:36, :36, :46, :21, :34, :35. 
Saturday: How about this novel idea: NO RACE between a hard Friday and a hard Sunday? Five easy in gross, humid, hot weather.

Sunday: Sixteen miles: five easy, ten at marathon pace, one cool down. Ok. Someone had the bright idea to do this up on the levee as a cold front moved in. WIND. We had 3 miles crosswind (6:51, :54, :44), 2 miles tailwind (6:42, :41), 2 miles headwind (LOL what happened, 7:11, :12, insane), 3 miles crosswind (6:58, :48, :39). Overall happy with those paces, conditions considered, especially the last mile. 

61 miles for the week.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Day 2 in Scotland: walking the West Highland Way

Day 2: From Drymen to Rowardennen

Our first day of walking was a pretty easy one, with a convenient stop for lunch halfway through. We got onto the West Highland Way and were quickly walking over the little town, enjoying the view.
Starting at our BnB


We had dinner at one of Scotland's oldest pubs

None of the terrain was very challenging on day one, which was good since we were trying out all of our gear. So, our gear:

We both walked in Merrell hiking shoes the whole trip. Mine were old; Melissa's were new and "waterproof". Sort of. The shoes were fine, but you have to accept that your feet will be wet 98% of the time. I also bought wool trekking socks, which helped a little since wool dries fast. I just got some cheap pairs for $5 each.

We also both had small backpacks. I got this one:

I actually bought it new off Ebay for $11. It's also "waterproof". Ha, ha. Not even a little. But it was adequate.
I also bought my first ever raincoat, a godsend, and otherwise mostly just layered long-sleeved running shirts and tights. At the last minute, I bought a base layer wool blend shirt and tights, which were a good idea: I washed and dried them at night and re-wore them most of the trip.

These were really cheap, like $12 for the top and $15 for the bottom.
In retrospect, I should have brought gloves and a waterproof backpack cover, but otherwise I think we packed well. No trekking poles, no balaclava, no fancy hats, no gators - it's not that intense. But if you do the walk, by all means get some waterproof stuff!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Day 1 in Scotland: walking the West Highland Way

Day 1: Explore Glasgow. We landed at 6:45 am, paid to have our luggage held, and spent the day wandering the city.
First off, the incredibly massive necropolis overlooking the cathedral:

Then, we walked down to the cathedral for church, as it was Sunday. I LOVE worshipping in other churches when I travel, which my sister thinks is weird. The congregation at the Glascow cathedral was very warm and welcoming, and we had tea with them afterward.

 We walked through the City Centre to enjoy some street art on the way to fish and chips at a place my sister had heard recommended - and it was delicious, too!

Then we cut through the Barras market - a large outdoor market that dates from the 1920's - on the way to the People's Palace, containing a lovely botanical garden and a museum about the city.

That was about all the time we had in Glasgow, so we took a bus back to the airport, retrieved our luggage, and headed to our bed and breakfast in adorable Drymen. Drymen is where we discovered that Scotland isn't just about the whiskey - it's also obsessed with gin! Although - we started with beer.

We just about passed out during dinner, we were so tired, but we managed to get back to our beds before crashing. Next up: the walk begins.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Marathon training, week 10

Well, it was a little bit of a come-to-Jesus week for me. 
We've been basing our workouts off paces that reflect our goal marathon times, which were picked by our group coach. But mine is too fast for me right now. I'm struggling with the paces, and I think I'm actually getting slower! So I emailed our coach to request an adjusted time. I haven't gotten one yet, but the marathon pace I was using for workouts - 6:52 - is too hard for me, and I have had to scale back. 

Monday: Off due to stomach bug.
Tuesday: 7x1000m on the track with a nice 400m jog rest. These mostly felt good, although I was the ONLY person left on the track for my final rep and was clearly demotivated! I started in a group of four, but no one else was having a good night, and I ended up running alone. 3:52, 3:53, 3:52, 3:52, 3:55, 3:55, 3:57. Over nine for the night.
Wednesday: 5 easy on the dirt path around the park.
Thursday: One hour easy on the levee, plus 8 100m strides for 8.64 miles.
Friday: Here's the workout that made me wake up to my pace: 3x2 miles at tempo with 90 seconds jog. Not easy for me, and I TOTALLY TOTALLY crumbled on the last one. Keep in mind that my "tempo" should be around 6:30 - 6:35...Instead I ran 6:37, 6:32/6:32,6:38/6:39/6:50, and it felt more like 10k pace than tempo pace. After I finished I asked myself if 6:32 was really my tempo pace - could I hold that for about an hour? No, no way. Time to re-evaluate! And yeah, it's still super hot and humid (highs in the 90s this week, lows in the high 70s) but by now I should be used to that, enough that the paces don't surprise me.
Saturday: Race day! For some reason, I thought that a two mile noon race would be a good idea. Got in 5.4 for the day. I wore my Saucony type a flats, which were fine - this was their first foray onto the roads. They're way too tight and actually MELTED on the broiling tarmac, so maybe not my favorite shoe.
Sunday: 16 mile long run progression: five at conversational pace, eight at aerobic pace, three at marathon pace. Going by feel, I definitely didn't hit any 6:52 pace! 6:55, 7:02, 6:53. My marathon pace is most probably closest to that middle mile.

55.9 miles this week.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

When Oktoberfest is 100F...

I signed up for the Oktoberfest 2 mile race months ago, and I expected it to be its usual Saturday night lederhosened affair: you run the race, then you get free entry and a beer or two at the fest. 
Ha. At some point, the New Orleans Track Club changed the race time to TWELVE NOON. In October. In New Orleans. An unusually warm October, at that.

It seems that the Deutsches haus, who hosts the fest, decided that runners were crowding out regular fest-goers, so requested the time change. And for some reason, NOTC went with that...I would definitely have worked out an alternative way to have the event at a reasonable time, like drop the fest altogether, or have the event elsewhere at night but with free fest entry with a bib for another day. There's just no reason to have a noon race just about ever, especially since the fest didn't even open until 1 pm, so most runners were long finished and gone before they had a chance to spend any money with the vendors.

In a nutshell, it was terrible. The day was hot, humid, and sunny. As we were heading over, it was 90F with a 102 real-feel, and that was at 11 am. The race course was even worse. It's a totally exposed, shadeless course, and the asphalt had been baking all day. Someone had a thermometer at the start, and it was 100F on the course! I was basically overheated by the time I picked my packet up. As I jogged to the start (short warm up, no strides, just too hot for anything extra), another runner told me that the way back would be a headwind most of the way. Sure enough, a miserable summer storm was brewing, and annoyingly, it was manifesting as a very hot, very humid headwind accompanied by zero clouds, rain, or temperature drop (the clouds rolled in around 1:30, but we never actually got any rain, just oppressive humidity). I decided that I'd go out at race pace, but if the conditions were killing me, I'd do at least a mile at 2mile pace, and then the second at 5k pace. I didn't want to skip the race totally, nor did I want to start slow in case I actually ended up feeling ok, so I thought this would give me the option to semi-bail without completely giving up.

The race was pretty small, and I figured my fast friend Megan would win for the women. She took off into the lead right away, and I followed. It didn't take long for me to realize that this race was going to be more of a workout. What a slog! Mile one was fairly easy (5:54), but after the turn around, we headed back the way we came, into:

  1. A headwind
  2. Crowds of race walkers, all of whom made the smart choice not to run at noon on a day like this
  3. Burned.
  4. A million confused fest-goers, who, thanks to all the walkers, couldn't really tell there was a race going on, and milled about ALL UP IN OUR WAY. The crowds and confusion were because, unbelievably, the city allowed three concurrent fests all within and around City Park at the same time: Japan Fest, Oktoberfest, and Beignet Fest (the question of the day: will Japan Fest and Oktoberfest invade Beignet fest?). Traffic, of both the car and people variety, was heavy and largely confused and lost and in my way.
Mile two SUCKED and I would have run 5k pace even if it hadn't been a vague plan...I couldn't pick it up even a smidgen at the finish, and ran a 6:17 second mile for second place. I think I ran faster than that in a casual summer race this year. 

 I could barely "cool down" a mile, and when we got home I had heat exhaustion. I collapsed as soon as I got into the house. I asked David for water, but I actually passed out before he brought it! So now I have a massive headache and a sunburn. And that's why you don't run a race at noon.