Sunday, April 27, 2014

La Jolla Half Marathon

I loved this race – one of my all-time favorites! It’s a challenging course that starts at the Del Mar race track and heads south along the 101 to La Jolla cove – climbing up and down The Torrey Pines Hill. Not a course for PR-ing, with an elevation gain of 951 and elevation loss of 933. But I’m glad I didn’t let that keep me away! This is the first time in a major race that I’ve ever placed in the top of my age group. Second in F30-34!

A point-to-point course means shuttle buses. I was spooked by the very strongly worded final race instructions about timing and road closures, arrived early, and ended up catching one of the first shuttles. So I arrived at the start at 5:45 a.m. – 1 hour and 45 minutes before the start! Oh, that was a long wait. Although weather was great for racing, 57 and mostly cloudy, it was cold waiting around! I made a new friend on the shuttle bus and spent the time chatting, going to the bathroom, stretching, eating, drinking, going to the bathroom, warming up, going to the bathroom. You know, the things you do to pass the time!

I know this course well, as this was my training ground for lots of years! So my plan was to go out at 7:30 for the first few miles – which were flat. Needed to save some energy for those hills! I knew I’d have to slow down some for the hill starting around Del Mar Heights Road, but then I could pick up some speed on the first big downhill. Which I perfectly executed.

1 – 7:29
2 – 7:23 (73+, 80-)
3 – 7:31 (72+)
4 – 7:53 (110+)
5 – 6:50 (23+, 193-)

Then it was big hill time! I felt pretty comfortable running up The Torrey Pines Hill. Just went by effort. Passed a lot of people, which always produces that extra boost and spring in the step.

6 – 8:41 (259+)
7 – 7:55 (234+, 89-)

Then came a couple of flat miles. I wanted to speed up these flat miles to more in the range of my current half marathon pace. Passed tons of people in these miles.

8 – 7:15 (31+, 24-)
9 – 7:00 (19+, 69-)
10 – 7:13 (21+, 19-)

Then the big downhill. This was steep. But because I have been religious about leg workouts in the gym for the last year, and especially tough workouts in the last 3 months, I was able to keep my form under control. And I fleeeeew down the hill. Well, more like tromped.

11 – 6:12 (341-)

The course flattened out for one mile, and I continued to pass a lot of runners.  Then there was the cruel and unusual punishment of a very tough hill in first half of the last mile. I got passed back by about a handful of guys. I thought I ran the last hill pretty well (faster than the first smaller hill of the same size), but these guys powered up! I couldn't match. 

12 – 7:01 (-14)
13 – 7:48 (+109, -66)

And a downhill sprint to the finish for 1:37:31 (7:27 average pace). 2nd of 550 in F30-34. 24th woman of 3085. And 165 overall of 5891.          

And that's the finish line: 


Two Little Runners

Monday, April 21, 2014

ran / rested / ran / rested / recovered

So last week's big deal was the 16K trail race with over 1000 feet of elevation gain. And > 1000 feet loss. All in one course! This produced SORE QUADS and a lingering fatigue even after the soreness was gone. But then . . . some thing cool happened ~~~~~~~

Day after the race – MONDAY the 14th of April 2014 – I did a 4.5 mile easy (and very, very slow) run through my neighborhood – MISSION HILLS – and tried to avoid those HILLS! But really, you can’t. It's hilly EVERYWHERE. Then I hopped on a plane to NYC. 6 hours later, I emerged an angry (temporary) New Yorker.

TUESDAY (4/15) – I had a quick workout at the hotel gym (Affinia 50, pretty nice). 20 minutes elliptical (very easy) and some yoga. LEGS SORE. Especially the LEFT Quad.

Noted, NYC just isn't as fun without Penny. :-(

WEDNESDAY (April 16) – complete rest. And another 6 hour flight back to SD. Ah, the joys of work travel. LEGS still SORE.

THURSDAY (the 17th!) – Soreness almost gone, but I underestimated the LINGERING FATIGUE in my attempt at a THRESHOLD RUN OF 6 MILES AT GOAL HALF MARATHON PACE (6:50!!) = 9 miles total. I didn’t hit G-HM-P at all! Not a single mile:  1 - 6:54, 2 - 7:08, 3 - 7:11, 4 - 7:04, 5 - 7:18, 6 - 7:03.

  • Well, I was not well fueled (ran at 2:30 p.m., supposed to run at 1 p.m. but CONFERENCE CALLS interfered!!!). 
  • And I was tired from my quick, 36 hours trip to NYC. 
  • Legs were still wrecked from Sunday’s trail race. 
  • It was also windy, and I ran in Balboa Park – which is quite hilly . . . 
  • and I afterwards, I felt that I was not fit enough for this tough workout, given my low mileage in February, March, and April (only 20 miles most weeks). 
The thought went through my HEAD: the 1:30:xx may not be in my FUTURE just yet . . .

FRIDAY, April 18 – core/legs/whatever weights workout at THE GYM.

By Saturday (19), I felt awesome! Easy run along Ocean Beach bike PATH. 7.5 miles at an effortless 8:10ish pace.

Sunday 4/20 – LONG RUN of 13 miles on Ocean Beach bike path to the Ocean Beach Pier and back. Did most miles at 8:15ish and last 2 miles MODERATE at 7:30 + slightly uphill. I was floating through this run. Legs felt strong again!!

Is this CrAZZzzzY? I think that 16K trail race that I ran 8 days ago made a noticeable improvement in my fitness . . . could those hills (up and down!) have really made an impact already??? ? ??

Perhaps the 1:30:xx at SD RnR Half (jUne 1) is STILL possible ? ? ? ?

Two Little Runners ~ Kristen

PS - it's boring without a picture. The HILLS of MissIOn hIlLS

Monday, April 14, 2014

Xterra Black Mountain Trail Race 16k (April 13, 2014)

I was contemplating where to run on Sunday for a long run of between 10 and 13 miles. I decided to check out the local race calendars. A race sounded like much more fun than a lonely long run, and there is always a race going on this time of year.

I saw a 16k trail race by Xterra at Black Mountain in San Diego – the 6th race in a 7 race series throughout SoCal. The course was described as the flattest and fastest in this series, so I was in for promises of a spring trail run that wouldn’t totally destroy me . . . right.

Black Mountain
My strategy in trail races has generally been to run fast at the beginning to get ahead of slower runners before the trail narrows. Then when I can, I run fast – on flat, comfortable downhill, and non-technical surfaces.  I “recover” on uphills, steep downhills, and technical terrain (rocky, slippery, narrow, or otherwise scary). Trail races for me are like speed workouts, except the recoveries are on hills!

Looking at the elevation profile of the route and talking to runners before the race, I decided to employ the usual strategy, and it would be very important to start out fast because the trail narrowed quickly to single track for quite a long ways. Then I planned to run the early and middle miles as fast as the course permitted. I wasn’t planning on saving much for the late miles because the hills were so steep for so long. It wouldn’t matter how tired I was – those hills would bring the pain either way.

This is the elevation profile on the race website. Not too bad, right?

Actual elevation profile from my Garmin - no hill smoothing!
So I lined up near the front and got off to a very fast start. This first mile of the race was the best mile I’ve ever run. I got a good position before the trail narrowed to single track. It was downhill and rocky, but there was no slowing down given the train of runners behind me. I concentrated on foot placement, freaked out about my ankle a little bit (sprained about a year ago, finally healed about 6 months ago), and kept up with the runner in front of me so that no one tried to pass me. It was awesome!

In the second mile I realized that I was going to run much slower than I anticipated. Although the general trend of the first half of the course is downhill, there were a ton of steep up and downs not depicted on the race website's elevation profile – and I felt them for the first time in the second mile. Miles 2 and 3 were just under 7:00.

Miles 4 and 5 had a lot of rollers, but I kept a good pace. Both were just under 7:30.

Mile 6 was 9:44, which is explained by (1) water station (walked and stood to drink - never done that before!), (2) lots of very steep downhills where I had to apply the brakes, and (3) walking up a hill that was too steep to run. As I was hiking up it, my hand were almost hitting the ground it was such a steep slope! Legs were JELLO at the end of this mile. I couldn’t take downhills as fast after this because I lost control and stability on the big downhills in this mile.

Mile 7 had a creek crossing, which was a first for me. I stopped, and said, “Oh shit,” while the guys running around me just blasted right through . . . It had about 18 inches of water in it! It took me 3 or 4 steps to get across it. My shoes were so heavy after that! Decent mile at 7:30ish.

Mile 8 marked the start of the massive hill until the end of the race (9.66 miles by my watch). Mile 8 started at 250 feet, and we climbed to 720 feet by the end. Really really really steep from mile 9 to the end. I walked for a second time. The finish line was perched at the very top of this hill. I have never seen so many people walking in the last paces before the finish line. What a tough finish! My quads are complaining today!!

Is it over yet?
Splits (elevation loss (-) and elevation gain (+) in feet)
1 – 6:36 (-247/+5)
2 – 6:56 (-171/+81)
3 – 6:55 (-115)
4 – 7:27 (-65/+85)
5 – 7:25 (-133/+147)
6 – 9:44 (-136/+194)
7 – 7:29 (-187/+32)                                                                 
8 – 8:13 (+65)
9 – 10:02 (+263)
9.66 (16k) – 7:54 (10:30 pace) (+184)

TOTALS: 1:17:07 (8:03 pace) (-1059/+1055) – 4th female and 46th of 326 overall.

Two Little Runners

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Copycat 1Q 2014 Update: Running, Running.... Injury Again

Its been a long time between posts; longer than usual! My life in Sydney has finally settled into a bit of a routine. All our stuff arrived from America only a few weeks ago, and up until then we had been using a cardboard box as a couch, and eating with plastic cutlery. Not exactly a third world situation, given this occurred in an inner city high rise apartment, but not the funnest.

When I began this post, my first sentence was "The last two months have been a good mileage build up for me." And they have been.... until three weeks ago.

So lets go back a step. As I canvassed in my last post about recovering from injury, my mileage in January was: 28, 26, 32, 35 miles for each week. Mostly all easy. I had two notable attempts at tempo runs (2 x 2 miles at HM pace), which came in around 6:50-6:55avg paces. Not great, but not terrible given the amount of time I had off running. I also tried another treadmill speed workout: 6 x 800m at 5K pace with 400m jog recoveries (1.5% incline). Wow. Yeah... so these still hurt as much as I remembered them. But I was very pleased with the result. I ran 4 of the 5 at 6:27, then the last at 6:20. It was hard, but not vomit-inducing hard, so that was encouraging.

And February saw some good running, especially after we moved into our new place. I even took a few pictures of my new routes. We live in the center of the Sydney CBD, so my running takes me all around Sydney harbor, over all the bridges, around the Opera House and through the Botanical Gardens. Having run all over my two fabulous countries, I have to say this city is the most beautiful running city I have lived in so far. It truly does have everything; the sights of New York, the weather of San Diego... doesnt quite rival the hipness of Melbourne, but getting there ;)

You can run right around the Opera House, to my delight!

Several of my routes take me directly beneath or over the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Part of the 'Domain' run, which takes you through the Botanical Gardens and down towards the Opera House
Harbor bridge from the Opera House
One of my many bridges; this is Victoria Road bridge, part of the Iron Cove run
Iron cove run. My photography sucks. But this was stunning.
February mileage: 42, 44, 44, 38 (a down week)

March mileage: I made the jump to the 50s: 51, 50... aaaaaand 10. Before I tell you what happened, I did have one great workout in there... 6 x 1 mile repeats at an average of about 6:40 pace, which was great. About the same pace before my injury last year, so I was at least back to my old fitness levels, pre-hip injury.

Now. Cue the judgey "look at that mileage bump you idiot" faces.

Ok, so let me explain. I had read some really good research demonstrating that the 10% rule is just as likely as anything else to generate injuries. A better injury prevention technique is actually to use down-weeks. You can increase your mileage by, say, 5-6 miles (my jump from 44-50) by inserting down weeks. Seemed like a good plan, and I actually still believe in it.

The real reason I got injured was that I was failing to do all the other stuff you need to do while increasing mileage to avoid injury. I basically completely wagged stretching and foam rolling, because I didn't want to waste valuable running time. I was fueling right, and still strength training pretty well, but the other recovery stuff was not happening. Let me tell you, as soon as I got on a foam roller after my injury... OW. Yeah. Silly girl.

So, the injury itself happened in a fairly miserable way. I stopped running at 10 miles into a very hot 14-miler, with foot pain. Up til that time, I had been reeeally dehydrated, and was not feeling good at all. I tried to call a cab, but couldn't get one, so called my husband to come and get me. Then it started pouring rain.Oh, and the city was celebrating St Patricks day, so it took us about 45 minutes to drive 4 miles home. Kill me.

Anyway, the self-diagnosis is plantar fascitis. I knew it as soon as I felt it.

As anyone who has had this injury knows, its on its own healing schedule. I feel glad that I stopped running when I did; its been three weeks since I last ran, and my foot is finally feeling a lot better. I am going to take another week of non-impact exercise before I try running again. I'm super paranoid about it because my husband has had this injury for years from his time in the Marine Corps, so I am not going to tempt fate with it!

So....enter the pool running! We have a really lovely pool in our apartment building, and my morning workouts there last about 45-60 mins, and I always always do intervals! Favorites so far are:
Sprints: 20 x 1 min hard, 1 min easy;
Ladders: 1-2-3-4-5-5-4-3-2-1 mins hard, with 1 min easy in between
Blocks: 8 x (2 mins hard, 1 min hard with 1 min recoveries)
(always with 5-10 mins warmup, then 5 mins cool down).
I like adding 10 x 30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy onto the workouts if I'm feeling good. With these, I go as hard as possible, with a real focus on using my core. Its a great core workout!

I have been doing those about 5 times a week (as often as I run) with one strength day, and one rest day. Its not running, but it keeps me sane... and its actually a really pleasant way to start the day! I attach my ipod mini to my head band, put my flotation belt on, and try to ignore the extremely odd and bewildered looks I get from the poor fellow who has to clean the pool in the mornings. As much as pool running is the best workout for injured runners... its not a sight we need to share with the world.

So there you have it. The beginning of 2014: was injury recovery, running, running, injury again. Such is the life of a distance runner, right?

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Pull-Up Experiment – Results

The challenge: to do 3 pull-ups.
The U.S. Marine Corps published a pull-up training plan to help female recruits to meet the new requirements for the physical fitness test, which requires females to do 3 pull-ups for a passing score on that component (prior – it was a bent arm hang). I saw the workout in the paper, and decided to try it out. 

I started training in January.  The “Initial Program” is 6 weeks, with 3 workouts a week. The workouts are basically a mixture of shoulders, back, chest, and a little core. The workouts take about 20-25 minutes each. After a few weeks of 3 workouts per week, I decided to cut back it back to 2 (or 1 when I was busy). I did the workouts on running rest days or easy days. It took me about 9 weeks to complete. I enjoyed the workouts. The training plan is structured so that you can see your progress. It sort of builds on prior weeks – very much like a running training plan!

Before: I could do 1 pull-up once.
I haven’t focused on upper body weights for 3 or 4 years. I was doing sort of random upper body workouts 3-4 times a month for the last few years. Nothing intense, just keeping things toned.

After: I did 3 sets of pull-ups. 4, then 4, then 3.
I was amazed at how strong I got in 2 months! 

Now what? Keep it going?

I don’t know…obstacle course race while I have all this strength?

Two Little Runners ~ Kristen

Thursday, April 3, 2014

All work, no play . . . 1Q2014

In the good old days, I posted on my training weekly – more or less. Recently, work has been positively insane (travel to Chicago, NY 2x, and DC already this year), impacting not only the frequency of my blogging but also my training. I haven’t posted on my training all year, and my training has been widely inconsistent.

So here it is my 1Q 2014 training report.

January – weekly total mileage 49 (15K PR), 34, 18, 23 (Half Marathon PR), 9.
     Year started off right with two weeks of consistent training and a 15K PR! Then my hip started acting up, but I ran a Half Marathon PR notwithstanding. Finally got into the doctor in late January, and hip issue (bursitis) no big deal. Immediately and completely resolved by an $80 insole.
    Traveled for work to Chicago A/K/A Chi-beria. BRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!  Stayed at the Langham downtown - one of the nicest hotels I've ever stayed at. Awesome rooms, great restaurant, embarrassingly good service. 

Swanky room at the Langham in Chicago. The window
between the tub and bedroom frosted with the flip of a switch!
February – weekly total mileage 27, 14, 32 (10 mile PR), 27
     Strong first week. Then a trip to Las Vegas took a bite out of my mileage during the second week of the month. I stayed at the Cosmopolitan – which I really enjoyed. Loved the Chandelier Bar. Maybe loved it too much – stayed out until 5 a.m. Who am I? 
Huge chandelier drapes around the 3 story bar.

Cosmo rooms pretty nice for Vegas. Great view. 
     Next week was good solid training week - with a 10 mile race PR!  Last week of February, I had a scare with my joints. I ran a 13 mile long run to Cabrillo National Monument and Rosecrans National Cemetery, and the route has a lot of rolling hills, many of them steep. My joints felt achy for almost a week. Looked back at my training logs, and I ran this route just days before I sprained my ankle last year!
     Meanwhile, I traveled to New York for work for a week. I took zero pictures, which I take to mean that after 7 years of traveling to New York regularly, I’m no longer a tourist there. I’m just an angry, pissed off (temporary) New Yorker.

March – weekly total mileage 14, 34 (5K PR), 13, 15
     Two more work trips this month, to New York and DC, taking a toll on my mileage. Plus just insane hours ruined me – busy, busy, busy! 

I happened to be in DC during the few days that it was in the 60s/70s.
Ran on the Capital Crest Trail at sunset. 
      Ran a relatively high mileage week the week of the San Diego 5K, where I smashed my PR on a downhill course. 

My first trophy!
     Last two weeks this month, between being buried at work and having the flu, I could only squeeze in a few runs. Missed the San Diego Hot Chocolate 15K due to the flu. 


So training has been inconsistent – swinging between 30 mile weeks and 15 mile weeks. But I’ve still managed to PR every single race I’ve run so far this year. I am beginning to think I am a low mileage runner. 

Two Little Runners ~ Kristen