Saturday, July 31, 2010

Swimming With the Big Dogs!

I got yelled at in the pool today.

I had just started, only two laps in. And yes, I was passing people. But that happens in a community pool. You pass people, you get passed. I always try to pass carefully, without getting into the other person's space.

We have been having some problems recently this summer (it always seems to be worse in the summer) with very fast swimmers coming into the medium-speed lane and passing aggressively. Like, just taking over the center of the lane and zooming back and forth. So quickly that no one else can use that area to pass in.

Well, anyway, I was on my second lap, at the end of the pool, about to pass on the turn, when the woman I was going to pass popped up out of the water, hit the water with her arm, swore at me, and shouted, "You don't belong here! Go swim in the fast lane!"

I stared at her, said "calm down" or something brilliant like that, and swam away. Very fast. I tell you, I have never swum so fast as in those next ten laps.

But as I was swimming, aside from being angry and thinking of great come-backs/explanations, I thought, maybe she's right. Maybe it is time for me to move over into the fast zone. Maybe I am ready. I've gotten faster, I can swim farther than ever before. What am I waiting for?

And then I thought, if I move into the fast lane I'll only have to deal with people passing me (no big deal), and I won't have to deal with getting around people who don't know how to share the pool. Who swim on their back, wide-armed, slowly veering into the center. Who suddenly stop, ten feet away from the end, and swim over to the other side. Who stop and chat with their friends, taking up the entire length of the shallow end. Who get upset and swear at you when they get passed.

So I moved over. And it was great. I could swim evenly, smoothly, just focusing on my swimming and how things felt in the water, not worrying about having to get around people at every turn. For the first time I could really feel what it was like to get passed and pulled along a bit by that person's passing, how the texture of the water changed as I entered the deeper end, and changed again as I got near the edge of the pool. I felt strong and alive.

And I got passed --- smoothly and evenly --- and I passed a couple of people, and it was all easy and uninterrupted. No big deal.

I was having such a good time that I decided to just go for it and swim another quarter mile farther than I have before, for a mile and a half (54 laps). And it was hard, and I kept going, and told myself all the same things I do when I'm running and it's hard, and did all the same things and I got to the last quarter mile and I started counting down, nine laps to go, eight, seven...

And then I was done. And it was good. And it didn't matter that I got yelled at, or that I was going to be sore later that day. 'Cause I have graduated to the fast lane, and I never thought I'd be here. Boo-yah!

Monday, July 26, 2010

More Oops

Oh, I can't do math while running (and certainly not if my distance is off to begin with).

I meant to run 12 miles at a 11:30 pace. Instead, I ran the first 6.4 miles in an hour twelve for a 11:15 pace, then the next 6.5 miles in an hour six for a 10:10 pace. You'll notice that adds up to 12.9 miles, not 12.

It's the first run where I've felt, yes, I can do this marathon. Not just complete it but possibly run it with some sass (I'm not going so far as to say I'll "race" it). Which gets me thinking I may want to do more in the future... like maybe the Flying Pig next spring?

I won't lie, the second half was hard. I was just trying to beat the time on my first half, thinking it was only 6 miles. I'd adjusted my route once I started so I had no idea where my miles were and thus no idea how fast I was going. It hurt --- my feet of course, but also my butt and back --- but at no point did it feel like a dangerous or worrisome hurt, just the hurt of a hard effort. I just kept going, backing on and off at times but always going. My special "kiss a**" music mix kicked in for the last three miles and that helped a lot. I kept thinking, c'mon, the marathon will be harder than this, you'll be doing these 6 miles at the end of 20 in a couple of months, not after a measly six.

I thought I would pay for it this week but I feel surprisingly fine today. I can get away with this unplanned push because I still have 11 weeks to go, but going forward I need to be careful to stick to my plan. That means figuring out my loops beforehand, not just the mileage but also my intended time, and then stick to that.

I could use a Garmin!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Fleet Feet Women's Festival 10K --- Race Report

Well, I woke up shaky, another bad night. Checked the weather report: 74 degrees and rising, 85% humidity. Ungh. If this race hadn't been in my own backyard, so to speak, I would have called it off. But I knew I could walk down there and the course would be mostly shaded, and I could just make a nice morning of it --- though I was still crossing my fingers that I would be able to do something more.

Despite having planned a late departure time I still managed to leave later than I meant to. I started walking down, jogged a couple of blocks to test out my legs and to save some time. Legs felt heavy. Okay, keep it easy, enjoy the day.

Then at the field the lines to the porta-potties were unbelievable (all-women's event, after all) and thanks to my late departure I was in serious risk of not getting to the start in time. Another runner told us about bathrooms in the nearby boat house and while jogging there I noticed that my legs were feeling springy. Hoo-hah! I might be able to do something after all.

Mile 1
The start was amazing --- all those women, all different types of bodies and types of runners. And with just an awesome friendly (though serious) vibe to it all. I worked on keeping it easy, telling myself "Do not pass!" Looked for women at my speed to follow, then gave up because there were just too many women, too much to look at and listen to. At the first mile mark I saw I had run it in 11:05. My heat-adjusted goal pace was 10:55, so this was a good start.

Mile 2
At this point the course narrowed considerably and there were some sharp tight turns. We all had to slow wa-a-ay down, a bit frustrating. I listed to the conversations around me: mothers talking about their kids, vacation plans, work, all the stuff I talk about with my friends. I had some little side stitches so used one of those narrow turns to slow myself down for a while. At the mile marker I saw I had run this one in 11:20. I wasn't happy about that, but there was still time to make it up, and it was more important not to get hurt.

Mile 3
At mile 3 things changed. I was warmed up and started feeling sassy. The course straightened out and I knew we were nearly halfway. I started to go faster. Estimated time, 10:30.

(From here on all times are a reconstruction based on what I thought I was doing, from what I can remember of the clocks. I stop being able to do math in my head once the numbers get above thirty. Would be nice to have a watch that can do splits!)

Miles 4-5
Just before the 3 mile mark the 5K people dropped away, and I could feel this sense of release from the 10K runners. The course opened up, conversation stopped, everyone became more intense. I knew I could start pushing it. And even though I got serious and tucked in too, I made sure to look around from time to time. I had such a feeling of joy --- this is my turf, this is mine! I know this course, the harbor, the golf course, the wildflowers. I listened to people breathing around me, noticing who was breathing heavier. I felt good and strong, breathing steady, and started passing people. Estimated time for both miles, 9:45.

Mile 6
The final mile --- I picked it up! Passing lots more women, especially on the hills, both going up and down. Then I needed to pull back a little towards the end, when I was nearing my limits but couldn't tell where the finish line was (lots of turns and trees). Estimated time, 9:10.

The End
I saw the finish line and picked it up again, then saw the three mile marker for the 5K course and knew I had only 200 m. left, so I started to sprint. All of a sudden one person flew past me, with no hope of catching her, the first person I'd noticed passing me since the halfway point. I could hear people cheering us on from the sides, stayed focused on the end pushing hard, and then I was done. For the first time in a race I felt I could throw up afterwards (this passed quickly as I kept walking) --- I had left it all on the course.

I walked around a little, got a kefir sample and a bagel, stopped by the Girls On The Run tent and said hello (I was wearing my SoleMates shirt for the race), and walked home. It would have been neat to have had some friends there --- there was a fashion show, free manicures, all kinds of demos and samples --- but that sort of stuff is not much fun on my own. I guess I'll have to start recruiting for next year!

My final time was 1:03:15 for an average pace of 10:11. I placed 685 out of 1469, so better than half, and in my age group I placed 107 out of 269, near the top of the middle third. Compared to other races, I'm moving up! I know there were a lot of beginners at this race, though, so I'll have to run some others to really get a sense of where I am in comparison to other runners. It would be neat to consistently place in the top third of my age group.

I feel really good about this race --- I ran it both by numbers and by feel, using one to inform the other. If I'd used heat-adjusted goals in May (when it was 89 degrees) I wouldn't have made the mistake of trying to speed up after my first mile and "catch" my previous pace. Now, how this will translate to the marathon I don't know. I need to do some more research and see how my long runs go. But I'm so glad to have gotten a good race experience in me this year, working off of my mistakes in previous races.

And here's me telling The Dude about it. Don't I look pleased!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Hot, Hot, Hot... Humid?

I'm running the Fleet Feet Women's Festival 10K tomorrow morning, and have been fretting all week about how to approach it. My training has been all over the place for the last three weeks --- Buddy was sick, then we were on vacation, then Buddy was sick again --- but mostly I'm bothered by the forecast: HOT!

90 degrees hot, though based on the last couple of days, it's likely to be about 80 degrees at race time.

And if that weren't enough, it's also due to storm, so it may well be HUMID, which is what really kills me.

I ran a 10K at the beginning of April and was disappointed with my experience. Then I signed up for 10K in mid-May and it turned out to be hot (about the same as forecast for tomorrow, actually) and I ended up not finishing. Doubly disappointing. So I signed up for two more 10K, the Run for the Zoo at the beginning of June (which I did with Buddy as a fun run), and tomorrow's.

Can you see I probably have a little too much riding on this?

I'm trying to remember that it's about the race experience, not the results. I want to go out strong and steady but not too fast, so that I can push myself increasingly more as the race goes on. I don't yet have a good sense of what "strong and steady and not too fast" should be, and that is what has hurt me in the past. That's what I've been wanting to rectify.

So I did a little research on racing in the heat, and of course I've been training in it these last two months, and I've come up with the following plan.

First of all, I'm bringing my own water with me, my awesome hand-held Amphipod, and will make sure to take sips frequently. (Thank you to the saleswomen at Fleet Feet, who understood my unhappiness with having anything around my waist --- as opposed to the salesmen there who kept recommending different running packs).

Then, given that every five-degree rise in temperature above 60° can slow you down by 20-30 seconds per mile, I am adjusting my goal pace to 10:55. (I train based on a 9:35 10K pace.)

Here are my actual goals, in the order of my likelihood of achieving them:
  1. Finish!
  2. Finish with a negative split.
  3. Finish with a negative split, faster than 10:55 pace.
  4. Then, because I'm in better shape than I was three months ago, and because I've been training in the heat, the dream goal would be to finish at or faster than that 10K, despite the weather.
Of course, if it's super steamy, all bets are off, and I make this a fun run on my favorite course.

Wish me luck (and dry skies)!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Uh Oh...

I've been bitten by the triathlon bug.

I've really tried to avoid this. The gear, the expense, the absolute insanity of some of the tri-folk I've encountered online...

"No, no, no," I told myself, every time I started thinking about what it might be like, remembering my ocean/lake swimming and my hours on the bike in high school, the glory of it all... "You're too slow, and can't swim that far anyway."

Except I've gotten faster, and have been swimming longer and longer...


I can't seriously do anything about this until after marathon training anyway, so right now I'm just going to let The Dude fix up his spare bike for me (because he just happens to have an extra woman's frame lying around, go figure), and keep on swimming. But next year...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Any Other Slow Tri/Running-Obsessed Mothers of Young Children Out There?

Not that I don't love reading about all these fierce mamas who place in their age group and can compete in multiple events every season... but I'd love to read more about other mothers who also plan their spare time (hah) around training and racing, without any hope of actually winning an event, age group or otherwise.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Notes From Ohio

Still hot, still humid. It's vacation, so all my runs have been at the hottest part of the day. We just can't get the whole household up and organized early enough to do otherwise.

Eight miles today in the Englewood Reserve. All either up or down... or very up or down. Kicked my butt. But awesome.

Wildlife seen during two days of running in the reserve: rabbits and squirrels, one chipmunk, two yearling bucks with fuzz still on their antlers, bluebirds, dragonflies, grasshoppers, and assorted beetles.

Wildlife seen in my son's hair after a morning of running around outside: one slug. Yuck!

Ripped up stuffed squirrels in the backyard look disconcertingly like real dead squirrels, especially early in the morning.

Moments to do a mother proud: toddler son running between me and Nana as we make dinner, begging for pieces of raw zucchini, yellow peppers, and green beans to eat.

Small boy hands are apparently impervious to thistles. But small boy faces --- excruciatingly sensitive to beagle whiskers. Go figure.

More moments to do a mama proud: enthusiastic (and unprompted) hugs of grandparents' knees upon all arrivals and departures from various grandparental dwellings.

We head home tomorrow, boo-hoo. But back again in September!