Friday, February 28, 2014

Mission Accomplished!

And I feel grand.

Looking forward to writing about it later this weekend.

But just a quickie...

After mile 20 I started worrying if I was going to hit the wall, as I have in my previous two marathons. I had to really step in with some serious self-talk about how I am so much better prepared for this, I am tougher than I've ever been, I am smarter about these things now, etc. At some point the thought popped into my head,

"Wall? What wall? I piss on the wall!"

And you know what?

I never did hit it.

In fact, my last three miles were my most enjoyable (not fast, I was both battling headwinds and going uphill, but fun), AND I felt like I could have done more.

I am now eating a sandwich from my favorite bagel shop called the "Xena, Warrior Princess" and about to take a hot shower.

Damn, it's a good day.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Can She Do It?

This weekend I turn 42.

My 7s years have always turned out to be meaningful for me so I've been curious for some time about what this next year might bring me. And I wanted to mark it in some way.

So tomorrow I'm going to run 42k.

(Yes, that is just about a marathon.)

Now, when I made this plan, about six weeks ago, I really didn't expect it to still be so cold. I envisioned myself running down the length of the lake to the south side until I was halfway done, then simply turning around and coming back. I rarely get to run on the south side of the lake anymore (I used to live down there and loved running that stretch), so I was really looking forward to it.

But with the current forecast two things worry me. One is the wind. Up on the north side if the wind gets too bad along the lake I can always cut back in to the city, and I'll know where I am and how to get around. But that's not at all true farther south. In fact, once I get too far south there are places where I definitely do not want to be forced off the lakefront trail. So for safety's sake, now is not the time to be exploring the southern lakefront by myself.

Then the second concern is having my water bottles freeze. The forecast is better than it's been for the past few days, with a current expected high of 26. But it's going to get down to -4 tonight, so it will start off cold tomorrow, and I don't know how long it will take to warm up. Now, I've taken the day for myself tomorrow, so instead of gearing up to leave from daycare as soon as I drop the kids off, I'll actually come home first. That will give me the opportunity to assess the weather conditions and also provide a little warming-up time. But I do have to expect that it will be cold for much of the morning.

So my new plan is to run different loops, with our lobby as the base for all of them. I'll be able to stash my drinks and extra food in our mailbox, and dash upstairs if I need to take a pit stop. I'll even be able to discard or change layers if it gets too warm for what I'm wearing. I'll do my longest loop first and work my way down (8-7-6-5) which should be a nice mental boost, and for variety I'll do each one in a different direction (N-W-S-E) which will allow me to end on the lake. I'll have to deal with some ice, but the sidewalks are largely clear right now after last week's rain, so it shouldn't be too bad. Sounds nice, huh? Postively indulgent.

And I'll wait until spring for my lakefront adventure.

Anticipatorily,
Annie

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

May Be Some Kick in the Old Girl Yet

I mentioned last week that for my return to speedwork I was taking a conservative approach to my paces for my half-mile and mile repeats workouts, working up to my desired pace by the end of the workout (rather than starting at the recommended pace).

Well, this past Sunday I had a tempo run planned, four miles at 9:39 pace with a mile warm up and mile cool down.

That felt a little slow to me (plus I misrembered when I got to the gym and thought it was at 9:30 pace), and I get easily bored on the treadmill and usually mess around with pacing to keep it interesting. So rather than keep it at an even 9:30 pace I started there, but then after a quarter mile I started laddering up (increasing my speed every 0.1 of a mile or so) for a while, then laddering back down, then holding at 9:30 again for another quarter mile or thereabouts.

At the end of my workout I had done the four miles at an average pace of 9:15. Nice.

And then, for comparison's sake, I looked to see what my training had been for this race last year. (I had used last year's results to come up with my training paces for this year. But it's been so long since I did any kind of speedwork that I was disbelieving of my ability to keep those paces, hence the conservative approach up until now.)

What I found out blew my mind. Not only had I not been hitting anywhere near these paces last year at this time, but my overall mileage (and fitness) was significantly lower as well. So while I may have started slower this year, I've been able to recover some speed pretty quickly.

Oh, I am going to rock it this year.

But first I have a couple of crazy long runs on my plate... my birthday challenge this Friday, and then, if that goes well, possibly my first ultra in April...?

Excitedly,
Annie

Friday, February 21, 2014

I Can Run for Miles and Miles and Miles

Despite my concern about the sidewalks, today had some of the best conditions for running in a while. The temperature dropped enough overnight to freeze a lot of the water (the crazy big puddles turned into slush but it was easier to see and avoid them), and then it was snowing lightly which provided traction! I was worried about the wind when I set out, but still determined to at least try the lakefront path, and it ended up being less windy along there than I thought. There was only a mile of really blustery conditions where I nearly tripped up twice just from the wind blowing me sideways - I felt like those ice skaters who trip on their own feet from not getting the timing right on their jumps. But that was close to the end so I just got off the lakefront at the next opportunity and ran the rest of the way on the inner drive. It was interesting to see just where the wind was worst: on the lakefront it was whenever the trail got close to Lake Shore Drive, and on the inner drive it was when crossing the street, I had to make sure I didn't get blown onto the drive itself.

One unexpected treat was that the path was clear enough that I didn't have to look directly in front of me the whole time, as I've been doing all winter to make sure of my footing. I could look up and around and enjoy the sky (rapidly moving clouds) and the parks (huge frozen ponds), the shoreline (crazy ice formations) and the trees near to me (fat squirrels and red berries!). What a joy.

This week I've run into work twice, once long and once mostly direct (it's about a mile and a half more to run into work along the lakefront vs. taking a street that runs diagonally across the city). I love it, I love it, I love it. I think I'm going to try running in to work every other day.

And in other good news, Goo slept through the night after going down pretty easily! He came out in the morning to tell me "bunny awake mama" (we got a new nightlight that can change pictures from a sleeping bunny to an awake bunny if you set it)... time to now slo-o-owly move that wake-up time a little later in the morning. And as I've been getting more sleep I have again been waking up before him anyway, and can reclaim at least a little of my quiet morning time.

Got a bunch of baking to do for our church's annual South Sudan bake sale/auction - carrot cake and chocolate chip cookies. I imagine some of the cookies will end up staying home with us...

Happily,
Annie

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Since Last We Met

Finally getting over a tummy bug that moved through the house, one person at a time. And for some reason I got it last (and worst). The worst of it was over within a few days, but my appetite and digestion continued to stay off for a while and I'm still hesitant to consume anything exciting (coffee / dark chocolate / beer, sigh). It made things interesting as I tried to figure out how to continue training for my birthday challenge next week, first in resuming exercise at all and then in how to properly fuel myself in light of my tender tummy!

Yesterday's long run was crazy. We've had some big melting days here and the sidewalks are treacherous. Much worse than anything I've encountered all winter. Canyons of deep, cold, slushy water on top of ice. After an hour or so I gave up trying to keep my feet halfway dry and just ran through the standing water. The first half of my run was at a 14 minute pace (my usual slow/long run pace is 11:15/mile) as I was running on sidewalks, not all evenly shoveled, and unplowed park paths. But I was on my way into work and feeling anxious about time, so once I hit the lakefront I hammered it the rest of the way in. And then spent the rest of the day with sore legs. They're fine today though.

I've started incorporating speedwork again, first time since before the marathon. It's amazing how powerful it makes me feel, like I can accomplish anything. I didn't know what paces to set for myself so I used my time from last year's Ravenswood Run 5K to get paces from the Runners' World SmartCoach program, and have been working up to them within a session. So for example, this week, the program had me running four half-mile repeats at a 8:36 pace. I did my first round at a 9:05 pace and then steadily increased my pace with each repeat until my last one was at a 8:30 pace. This has been really helpful. I have a bad habit on the treadmill of going too fast too soon and then having to back off considerably (and end feeling disappointed), but by deliberately starting off at a slower pace I've been avoiding that and have instead ended feeling confident! I've also seen over the last three weeks that my speed is coming back more quickly than I'd thought, so I can start being more aggressive with my pacing again.

I've been reading Matt Fitzgerald's "The New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition". I know my performance with my two marathons suffered greatly because of inadequate fueling so this year I've been making it a priority to make sure I'm doing better. This is essential to get on top of if I'm going to move into ultras. I've been trying hard to consume more during my long runs (not easy since I don't like gels which are the most compact fuel, but I'm working on it), and know I need to do more with my pre-run fueling as well, hence the book. I'll let you know if I find it helpful. I already own his book "Racing Weight", which I think is sound, but everytime I've read it in the past I get fixated on losing weight more quickly than I should and then that derails my training. That's my own head stuff, not his book. But anyway I like the approach of this new one better.

The Goo is still struggling with sleep but things have improved, thank goodness. Everybody's happier when we're all getting more sleep.

It's raining steadily today - I'm not looking forward to the sidewalks tomorrow - and then it will freeze again. What a winter. But I'm so grateful the low temps will be in the 20s and not the teens (or below). I like not having to turn on the space heaters at home. And having use of our dishwasher!

Warmly,
Annie

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Odds and Ends, Again

Sometimes, after a long or hard run, there really is nothing better than potato chips and a Coke.

I have now run to work using the shortest possible route. It's 6.25 miles. (Four years of occasionally, and now more frequently, running to work, and I never thought to do this before?) So once the weather gets warm and I get a larger running pack, I can start making this routine. (Right now I have to plan at least one day in between runs to work, preferably two, so I can pack in extra clothes/food.)

Yesterday my workout consisted of pulling/dragging Goo in his stroller through the snow for the 3/4 mile to daycare (and just picking him up and carrying him in it for about a quarter of that distance when the sidewalks became completely impassable otherwise). I had delayed our leaving home thinking that the sidewalks would be mostly shoveled by then, but I bet that horse wrong. During this time we were passed by one bus that was too full to take a stroller --- that was then immediately followed by a near-empty one --- I didn't think to look for another one so soon and we were too far from the stop so we missed that opportunity. But the kids were great, even with stinging blowing snow, and Buddy spontaneously helped pull. (Note: when your 5-year-old "helps" with the stroller, it is rarely actually a help.) My arms were shaking once we got there.

We've had two days of Goo sleeping through the night again (after several weeks of middle of the night upset only assuaged by my making up a bed on the floor next to his and sleeping the rest of the night there.) And last night it only took 5 minutes of upset before he settled down. He's still waking up earlier than he should be but I can deal with that for now. I am beginning to feel hopeful again.

Prior to the holidays he was going to bed no problem, sleeping through the night, and waking up at a decent hour. The last four weeks have been trying to say the least. He's had an explosion of language skills during this same time so we're blaming growth spurt combined with his realization that the whole world doesn't actually shut down when he's sleeping (and the utter unfairness of that). But holding the line again around going to bed (we'd let things slip while we were trying to figure out what was going on but it was getting ridiculous) plus the addition of a night-light seem to be doing the trick.

More snow scheduled for this weekend!

Disbelievingly,
Annie