Ironman Training: Seeing the Forest Through the Trees

7

TreesIt’s a good thing I do this stuff for “fun.”

Yesterday my coach told me it was probably best if I cancelled my February half-marathon.

Well SHIT!

Although if I’m honest, I kinnda knew, deep down, this was coming…

I’ve had to move all the way to the back of the class and re-teach my body how to work aerobically once again….from a running standpoint at least.

Coming back from my running hiatus this fall, I may have tried to speed up the natural process of things by electing to progress from no real running to 6-8 threshold miles within just a few weeks…

It really wasn’t THAT hard…but it also wasn’t all THAT smart either!

This would be one of those times where just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean you should

So now it’s biting me in the ass because I’ve had to back way down on the running/cycling volume AND intensity….

I mean way, way, way, wayyyyyyyy down….in order to not to fall off the training wagon all together.

pfft…

It also had a little to do with my tri bike, but that’s a whole different story for next week hopefully.

I’m not quite sure which has me more annoyed: that I’m unable to run the race or that I let my ego get in the way of building a solid foundation.

ohhh, I COULD run it, don’t get me wrong (hello ego!)…. but it would be a very bad idea for so many reasons.

And THAT’s why I pay the coach the big bucks….

I am almost 100% sure that if not for her, I would’ve run that race even though it has absolutely no bearing on my upcoming events.

All risk…..no reward.

I guess I’m still learning how to make good choices…

and to see the forest through the trees.

Run Happy, My Friends!

happy runner

Motivational Monday: Building Blocks

6

Yesterday I officially entered the “build phase” of 70.3 training.

My body has finally recovered from last Sunday’s half-marathon and so I had a nice 41 mile spin to kick things off.

It was nice to finally feel like I was covering some distance, doing so in good time, and knowing I could tackle more if needed.

I know all days won’t be quite so blissful so remaining focused and motivated will be the keys to getting through… both mentally AND physically.

I’ll be planting many seeds of success around here over the next 65 days or so and watering them often!!

If you’ve got something big coming up, and I know many of you do, then hopefully this will help you out as well.

Y’all have a fantastic week out there!

Do great things

and always….

Swim Happy, My Friends!

The Louisiana Marathon- Half The Story

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“It takes a little courage, and a little self-control. And some grim determination, If you want to reach the goal. It takes a great deal of striving, and a firm and stern-set chin. No matter what the battle, if you really want to win, there’s no easy path to glory. There is no road to fame. Life, however we may view it, Is no simple parlor game; But its prizes call for fighting, For endurance and for grit; For a rugged disposition that will not quit.”
Navy SEAL Masterchief 
 

I went into this race, as y’all know, a little beat up and somewhat under prepared.

I came out knowing I could get through just about anything if I set my mind to it.

My longest run was 12 miles way back on Christmas Eve. Over the past 3 weeks, I MIGHT have run a total of 6 times. Only 1 of those could even remotely be considered long, at 11 miles, the weekend before the race. Another was a horrid 5 mile stop and start pseudo-run the day after I strained my left quadriceps.

To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure if I was even going to run this race until last Tuesday. It was then I managed to complete a 6 mile run, following Sunday’s 11 miler. My leg was tolerating the stress, recovering, and healing as well. I felt like it was safe to attempt the half, while also understanding I wouldn’t be able to run it as fast as I had once hoped.

Ya’ gotta be grateful for the small things and just being able to put on my bib was to be considered a success, but..

My goal, since I ran my last half a year ago, has been to break 2 hours. As training progressed this fall, I began hoping for 1:50-1:55 . I ran a local 10k in early December to measure my race pace/fitness and felt really good about the possibilities.  Then came the leg injury and I knew it was a now an unrealistic expectation. I was back to the original plan of crossing in under 2 hours, but also promising not to beat myself up if it didn’t happen…

I wrapped my thigh, pulled on the tightest pair of compression pants I could get my ass into, and we headed to the state capital.

This was the inaugural event for The Louisiana Marathon and let me say it was fantastically organized. Everyone from race organizers and volunteers to police and safety officials were top-notch. The t-shirts and finishers medals were definitely some of the best I’ve ever been fortunate enough to earn.

Front Side

Back Side..the finishers medal is actually a bottle opener!

I really should’ve checked the course elevation (or maybe it’s better I didn’t), but because the race website said it was flat I took it as FLAT….as in NOLA flat. Well, flat is a relative term and this course WAS NOT flat. In actuality, miles 8-13 were a gradual climb out of the LSU area back into downtown. Some were pretty steep and while its certainly not Mt. Kilimanjaro, it made for an “extra” difficult back half of the course when those miles were going to be hard enough without any additional help.

One really cool thing about this race was that we got to run with the marathoners and use their pacers. This was the first time I’ve been able to do it and it was great to have an opportunity to experience that.

We lined up with 9:05 runners, figuring it was a good place to start. We headed out and within the first mile we ran on and joined the 8:55 group. It took some discipline to stay here, but I felt if I got to the 10k point and still felt good then we could run ahead.

The 6 mile marker approached at 53 minutes and we were easily holding an 8:45 minute/mile. I felt good, my leg felt good, and we were about at the half-way point. We picked up the pace a bit and the goal was to try to maintain an 8:30 minute/mile for the duration.

And then I got to mile 8…

and the hills…

At first they were gradual not such a big deal hills. More slopes if you will.

THEN they become those kind of inclines where you look ahead and you lose runners going down the other side. It’s bad enough going uphill, but the skill it takes to go down those hills without injuring yourself (further) is almost as challenging.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that it was around this point that my legs began their revolt and at a record pace might I add. About mile 9 they were forcefully telling me how they were done with this little party. I’d been sucking down gels since mile 3, praying the simple sugars would put off the inevitable, but it wasn’t working.

10 miles down and we are STILL climbing and my legs are on the verge of going on a full-blown strike. I was teetering on the verge of nausea so I passed on the aid stations for the remainder of the race.

It was just past mile 11 when we finally met up with the overpass from hell once again. We climbed this bad boy at the start of the race and I had no issues with it other than knowing we would soon meet again. And meet again we did. It was here my lactic acid eating husband left me for the finish line.

Let me just say…this man runs MAYBE 10 miles over the course of an entire week. He ran 1 long run of 8 miles the week before the race and that was the longest he has ever run in his ENTIRE life until this day. He not only ran this race, he did so without an ounce of struggle and was even able to crack out a sub 8 minute/mile from 12-13.1. He’s jumping around this week like he didn’t even race while I’m waddling around like I’ve got a corn cob stuck up my ass. He’s got some killer DNA in there. I really wish I could him to tap into his full potential a bit more.

The road to the finish was all uphill.

It was rather symbolic actually.

When I saw the clock and my watch and figured my official time was around 1:56 my 1st reaction was disappointment.

A gut reaction.

I was so close to 1:55 and missed it…

“If I had only…” flooded through my mind for a few moments and then I did something I rarely do…

I gave myself a pat on the back.

I worked harder for this than anything I’d ever done.

My body gave up when we started climbing at the 8 mile point. It was pleading with me to stop and walk. Reminding me of how I was injured, how I hadn’t put in the training, and that no one would question that choice. It didn’t have to hurt today. I had a hall pass.

My mind said otherwise.

It wasn’t going to happen.

Not today…

Because 2012 is the year to find a way!

Official Time: 1:56:33

16/99 in my AG

292/1201 runners overall

I’ll take that all things considering….

And just maybe even NOT considering all those things!

My husband got there in 1:54.

Now it’s time to shift focus to the next block of 70.3 training which means a lot of time back on the bike.

FINALLY!

74 days till Galveston

Ride Happy, My Friends!

On a Wing and a Prayer

5

We’re starting the off 2012 racing season right away down here in the deep south …

No putting off things for tomorrow when it would just be hotter and more humid than today.

January is the ideal time for running around here and so THAT is the plan.

This weekend is the Louisiana Marathon over in Baton Rouge.

We’re actually running the 1/2 version…..or at least I’m going to give it the ole college try.

I strained my left quad during the holidays. It’s hypothesized that a combination of long rides, faster than normal runs, heavy winds, weak hips, and some obnoxious plyometrics all created a perfect storm that set the stage for this very annoying injury.

It ultimately caused a flare of tendonitis in my lower leg around my gracilis (inner thigh, just behind the knee). I abandoned my long runs about 2-3 weeks ago and almost ALL running actually ….until recently. For the most part it’s about 75% improved. The tendonitis actually seems totally resolved. The quad strain…well that’s another story.

Last week I ran 6 miles (with my quad wrapped for support) and did experience some minor grumbling from the leg towards the end, but it was more of a tendonitis issue than quad problem.

The next day, after some very intense stretching and a myofascial release session (OUCH!), I woke up pain-free. It was the oddest thing. The pain was just gone….like it had never been there.

I decided to not ask questions. I took it and ran with it….literally!

I finished my 11 mile run Sunday, once again in a wrap, and was fine with the exception of:

  •  my muscles have ZERO running endurance now….after 9 miles it’s all a head game
  •  it’s really annoying to run 90 minutes with 1 leg wrapped.

The quad was achy Monday and Tuesday, but not painful. Yesterday I tackled a quick 5 miler since the leg seemed to have quieted down.

The usual pattern of post-run discomfort continued…..

I countered with my usual post-run routine of vigorous stretching, ice, and Bio-Freeze. By mid-afternoon I had shut that angry quad up and was going about the day totally unaware of it potential bad attitude.

I’m happy to say, this morning, things feel…”normal.” BUT I know if I ran…and when I do run on Sunday, this will likely change.

All in all, it is improving each and every day.

My gait is not altered, I have full ROM, and I’m not taking NSAIDS. If any of these were to change, then I absolutely WOULD NOT be running on Sunday.

My original goal was to break 2 hours.

Then, throughout the fall, it was looking like I may be able to finish around 1:50-1:55 if things went my way. Not lightening speed, but a huge result for me as it would be 15-20 minutes faster than my time last year.

I’ve now reassessed my goals and accepted the fact that Sunday isn’t going to be the day to set any great records. I’m really grateful to simply make it to the starting line and run along with my husband.

A few weeks ago, I had serious doubts this was going happen….THAT was more upsetting than what the time on the clock was going to say.

It’s the little things… 😉

There will be no more running for me until Sunday. There would be no benefit at this point and resting the leg will yield the best chance for finishing….

Yea’…I’m still hoping to cross under 2 hours…

Wish me luck!

Run Happy, My Friends!

Feels Like The 1st Time

6

Ok…well maybe not the first time, but pretty damn close!

Yesterday I ran long for the first time in what felt like decades. It wasn’t record-setting, but I conquered the 8 miles I set out to do DESPITE a lingering stomach virus.

The GI issues ended up helping more than hurting, as it forced me to run at a much slower conversational pace. I sometimes tend to abandon this golden rule and pay for it dearly at the end. Today, I started slow and stayed slow; about 2 minutes off my desired race pace. This allowed me to accomplish the mileage on legs that haven’t cranked out more than 6mi, averaging closer to 4mi, in many many months.

It had always been my intention to maintain a 10 mile long run throughout the summer, but surviving the heat and humidity eventually took precedence. My body simply couldn’t recover from long runs in those conditions. I’m hopeful next year will be better since I’ll have a year of acclimation under my belt, but I’m not one of those people who handle heat well and I’ve had to learn to accept that as opposed to try to change it.

It is what it is.

As for yesterday’s long run, I’d forgotten how nice it it can be to go slow. As I was cruising along singing to my Ipod, making sure I wasn’t overexerting myself, I found a bit of joy in running again.

THIS was nice and kinnda FUN! 😉

Then I rounded the corner between mile 6.5-7 and that old familiar feeling returned. AHH, yes I remember this! It wasn’t as bad as last years increase in distance, but uncomfortable enough to start doubting myself for not maintaining those long runs over the summer.

I mean, COME ON, what’s a little heat stroke compared to lactic acid overload??!!! Shheesh!

I had to stop belting out tunes with Billy Idol and Prince (am I giving away when I grew up??) in order to give the legs a bit of a finish line pep talk.

You know that last 1-1.5 miles of,  “yes you cans” and “stopping will only make it worse”. I could see my street, in the distance, so it certainly helped to know the end was in sight.

There are many great things about having a pool, but one of the BEST is coming in from a muscle grinding workout and having a place to recover the legs. The temperature is right at 69F right now and I went straight to the deep end and submerged myself glutes on down. No it wasn’t an ice bath, but it sure felt like it. 

A little bit of stretching, a nice recovery meal, a shower, and then some compression pants and I was as good as new.

There’s been no residual muscle soreness; no aches and pains to report and I am extremely grateful for that. It’s my hope that the high volume of cycling I did, throughout the summer, will carry over a bit and I won’t experience the same DOMS I did last year when gearing up for the Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon.

Hey, a girl can dream!!

So the first 1st hurdle of half marathon training and ultimately 70.3 preparation is in the books.

It feels good…real good to have finally tackled it again!

I hope y’all had a great weekend and accomplished all you set out to when it began!

Train Happy, My Friends!

If You Try Sometimes, You Get What You Need

9

The past few months I’ve been struggling to produce a run that I feel is worth a damn.

It’s been a hot and humid summer no doubt, and a lot of cycling and swimming have also been thrown into the mix, but it’s been months since I’ve logged a really good quality run.

This was beginning to take its toll….physically and mentally.

The harder I’d try, the worse things would get.

My pace would slow, my frustration would build, and my attitude would disintegrate.

So I just stopped…

Trying that is.

Some of  y’all may be asking….

A) what IS the magic pace ??   and

B) why is it so freaking important???

Well, let me tell you….

I’m actually looking much further down the road to my 1/2 marathons and 70.3 in the winter and next spring. I want to finish the 1/2 in under 2 hours and as of last year, I’m 7 minutes off that mark. I figure if my “everyday” pace is around a 9 min/mile, then I SHOULD be able to reach this goal once I start focusing on running throughout the winter. Last spring, when I set this goal, I was easily running 9:20 min/mile so this idea didn’t seem too far fetched……until the summer hit and things went to hell with the weather.

So pace be damned, I headed out this morning for a…gasp…run.

No pressure, no running buddies…..just me, my Ipod…..and yes, I brought the Garmin…..I can’t help it. I’m an addict.

As I’m running along, I glance down to check my heart rate as the 1st mile chirps off and I see 9:30…hmm, not too bad….

Next mile chirps 8:54 (nice), next 8:46 (sa-weet), next 8:39 (kickin’ ass), next 8:49 (I may cry), till the very last chirp 8:40 (OMG did I just do this?).

The entire run was over and my average pace was 8:55 min/ mi.

Not necessarily fast, but fast enough to continue working to meet the goals I have set for myself.

I jumped up and down. I screamed and yelled. Walkers wondered if I had lost my mind and I really felt the need to explain that I’d actually FOUND it, right then and there!

I desperately WANT to be a fast runner.

I don’t know if I ever will be.

What I do know is this….

Today, out on that road, I may not have gotten what I wanted, but I certainly got what I needed!

And it was WONDERFUL!

 

Run Happy, My Friends!