Good things

So initially this blog started out as my half marathon training plan for a half marathon on March 20.  Unfortunately, and par for the course, I forgot to register for this race and I found out this week that the race is already sold out. This is not surprising, as the same thing has happened to me with the Marine Corps Marathon and the Chicago Marathon in years past.  I am too cheap to part with the registration fee six months in advance, so I wait until one or two months out and by then, it’s too late.  The thing is, if the race isn’t sold out, I end up paying more for the registration fee, and the hotels are usually sold out.  Go figure.  I spent hours trying to find another flat half marathon in March or April. I looked at various race reviews and people were going on and on about how awesome these super hilly courses were.  They ask “who wants to run an easy marathon?” or half marathon, but my answer is “ME!” I want to run fast.  I know it’s going to hurt, but if it’s going to hurt, I want to run fast.  I don’t want to hurt only to flop over the finish line in a 1:45.  I can do that here in Charlotte at any of a number of the races our fair city hosts.  By the way, all of the races follow pretty much the same course. So annoying.  I don’t run marathons for the experience, the crowds, the bands, the scenery, etc.  I run to beat my prior times.  If I don’t, but I can blame it on things like the weather, the unexpected hills, the annoying man in the skin tight purple shorts that kept tailgating me, then that’s okay.  But otherwise, if I set my sights on running a certain time and running it on a flat course, that’s what I need to do.  The only flat one I could find was in Kansas.   I don’t have the funds or desire to run any race in Kansas, unless it is a race for biscuits and Bojangles is sponsoring me.  So once I stopped beating myself up over my failure, once again, to plan ahead, I decided to refocus and settle on running a marathon in May.  If I’m going to train that much longer, I might as well do a full marathon and try to qualify for Boston, right?

One good thing about doing a race on May 1 is that my mom will be able to train for the half that the race weekend has to offer.  She has not run a race since November and has had a lot of back problems, plus she is a CPA so she is going to be working 16 hour days from here until April 15.  If she finds time to train, then I will never ever have an excuse for not squeezing a run in on a day when I only work 8 or 9 hours.  The bad thing about running a race on May 1 is that I am playing Russian roulette with my heat sensitivity.  The race we are doing, the Providence Marathon (and half), is a super flat course in Rhode Island.  I’ve never been to Rhode Island, but I know a few things about it from my days in elementary school.  One: it’s very small, so maybe we’ll actually run into another state during the race.  No? Oh well.  Two: No one really wants to go there, so the hotels are super cheap and airfare is actually cheap too.  Guess that’s how the Rhode Island travel bureau gets people to visit.  Three:  It’s in New England,  so I would assume the weather there will be cooler than it is here, south of the Mason-Dixon line.  Well, one out of three isn’t bad.  Two years ago, it was cool (40’s) and rainy on race day.  My kind of weather.  Last year, it was in the 90’s! What?  Preposterous. I know, why would I sign up for this race if there’s a chance Mother Nature will smite me and cause me to overheat to the point where I add an hour to my PR and traumatize the residents of Rhode Island with all of the expletives I am going to hurl at them while they are just trying to cheer me on?  Well, it’s not likely the temps will be in the 90’s and if they are, I will have a good story to tell, after I am bailed out of jail for causing a public disturbance.

Another good thing about switching my focus to training for a marathon is that my marathon pace feels really slow now.  I was training based off of my half marathon pace, which is a good 45-50 seconds slower per mile than my marathon pace.  Tonight I did a workout of 1/2 mile warmup jog, 3 x 2 miles at marathon pace (with 1/2 mile recovery jogs between), then 1 mile cooldown – total of 8.5 miles.  My 2 mile splits were 16:10, 16:04, and 15:56.  It was not an easy effort but those splits were well below my goal marathon pace of 8:14, which would put me at a 3:35.  So as you can see, the speed work definitely pays off because it lowers your perceived level of exertion when you are training at your goal race pace.

I am going to continue doing speed work, hill work, and specific endurance runs, they will just be a bit longer now. I will be getting up to just over 50 miles a week.  This week, because I took two off days, I am only going to hit 42.  My long run tomorrow is 15 miles at about marathon pace + 30-40 seconds.  Sunday will be my recovery run.

The final good thing about marathon training is that I can take in more calories, i.e., more biscuits.  But not too many.  I have fallen into the “I’m training for a marathon so I can eat whatever I want” trap before and it resulted in Super Dad saying “Isn’t it weird how people don’t lose weight when they are training for a marathon?”  He said he wasn’t referring to me.  Um, how many people does he hang with that are training for a marathon?  Yeah, I thought so.  He’s never gonna live that one down.


Beautiful weather?

Here in Charlotte, the weather has been warm, and the sun has been shining.  Some may call this weather “beautiful.”  Those people are not me.  I know, I must sound crazy.  But I overheat very easily.  When I am running and the temperature rises above 54 degrees, I shut down.  That’s why I don’t run races between May and October.  I complain about the ice and the cold keeping me from running outdoors, but in actuality, if there is no rain or ice out there, I am fine to run outdoors in 20 degree temps.  I have plenty of gear for cold weather running.  Maybe not for January in Boston running, but good enough for North Carolina winters.  What I can’t do is run naked when it’s 70 or 75 degrees.  There’s no way to get cooler when you overheat and are wearing next to nothing.  You can put on more stuff when it’s cold, but it’s never the other way around.

On Saturday, I did 13.1 miles at 7am.  It was perfect, but I did my cooldown a little faster than necessary because my human thermometer skills were telling me that the temperature was creeping precariously close to 54 degrees, so I needed to finish the run and get indoors.  The rest of the day was ideal for sitting outdoors having a beer with family and friends, but for running- too hot.  I saw tons of people running all over our neighborhood all weekend, basking in the  70 degree temperatures.  I actually saw some lady wearing long sleeves.  Now that is crazy.  Maybe she has the exact opposite problem I do.

This evening I did my ladder run indoors.  Yep, all that complaining I have been doing about the indoor track, and I choose to run there when everyone else is running outside.  That was the upside to me.  Fewer people on the track + the air conditioner blasting = happy me.  One lady came really close to ruining my good mood by walking the OPPOSITE way on the track in the INNER lane.  I gave her the stink eye and luckily, she only did that one lap.  I did a 2.5 mile warmup, the ladder run (1-2-3-2-1-2-3-2-1 minutes at 5k pace with 60 second jogs in between- total of about 3.5 miles) then picked up Super Baby from the child care center and went outside to do another mile or so with the Power Hour crew.  I have basically had to forego Power Hour because of my shoulder, which will have a diagnosis in 8 days woohoo! By the time we went outside, the temperature had dipped back into the low 50’s so it was all good.   Super Baby hung out in the middle of the track with crazy Becky, the retired cheerleader/slave driver/over achieving runner/cyclist.  She screamed out drills and forced everyone to sprint until they hurled, while Super Baby watched on in awe/fear.

It’s amazing how little tolerance for heat I have. Maybe it has something to do with my allergy to extreme changes in body temperature.  No really, I am dead serious.  When I was 10, I got mono.  After that, perhaps coincidentally, I developed an allergy wherein I would develop hives when I got really hot or really cold.  This made swimming in Florida in the winter somewhat difficult.  Within a couple minutes of starting a workout, I would be hot and would break out in hives.  After practice, we would hop out of the pool and into the frigid (for Florida- 50 degrees) night air.  So I would break out in hives again.  It took a few months but a specialist a couple hours away figured out my problem.  I guess that 12 or 13 people in the country have it.  I never grew out of it, but I take some magic pill that keeps me from getting hives, and in turn, allows me to exercise for more than 6 minutes at a time.  Nonetheless, I think I have some lingering inability to withstand heat when I am physically exerting myself.  It’s a good thing one of my dreams has never been to marathon in Missouri in July.

Tomorrow’s workout is 6 miles then some hill sprints.  I will probably do a 5-6 mile recovery jog on Wednesday, take Thursday off, do a 6-8 mile tempo run (uncomfortable pace) on Friday, a 5 mile jog with a couple sprints on Saturday, and a 12 mile run on Sunday.  We are just under four weeks out from the Quintilles half marathon and I am starting to get nervous.  Only two more weeks of really hard training left. Let’s hope the weather stops being so “beautiful,” or I will be running inside a lot.

Those darn blue weights

About a month back, I lifted a weight that was way too heavy for me during Power Hour.  There were so many people in class, and I was late, as usual, so the yellow or green weights I typically use were all gone. Instead of taking a wimpy orange weight, I took a blue weight. Guys use blue weights.  Some guys, like Kevin, use green weights – just kidding! Really strong girls, like my friend Mary who was teaching the class, or me in my swimming prime (read: LARGE back/shoulders) use the blue weights.  However, I  put a lot of effort into shrinking my upper body, so I cannot use the blue weights anymore.  I haven’t been all that successful at shrinking my arms or shoulders, but if you could have seen my upper body 10 years ago- yikes. So I figured, “eh, I could have lifted two blue weights with one hand back in the day,” and swung it over my head with way too much momentum and zero control.  Exactly the opposite of what you are supposed to do.  I felt an immediate pain in my clavicle (bone between your neck and shoulder, right?) and I can’t recall if it popped, I just know it hurt.  Like, drop my weight on the floor hurt.  So I did what anyone else in my situation would do- I continued using the blue weight once the pain dulled from a 10 to a 9.  After that day, I don’t think I’ve really done any upper body work, as I have mainly only had time to run and again, want my upper body to shrink.  Thus, it didn’t bother me too much until a couple weeks ago.  That’s when the trapezius gristle/rock ball started popping up.  I assumed it was my neck, or just general tightness from running with bad form.  But then I realized that I run with perfect form, relaxed shoulders, arms down, textbook style.  Could it be my job?  Not really, I use the mouse with my other hand and have spent a great deal of time making my work station ergonomically correct.  Plus, I use my dictaphone a lot and don’t type nearly as much as I used to, except when blogging or writing nasty emails to opposing counsel.  Well, the weekly massages have not been helping – my shoulder/neck/gristle ball OR my wallet. The chiropractor hasn’t helped.  And my shoulder has started aching and feeling weak, popping out of joint, generally making my life less enjoyable.  So much so that running has become more difficult.  This confused me, because I assume that you really just need healthy legs to run, right? Wrong.

Yesterday, I did some push-ups and ran about 3.5 miles during Power Hour and afterwards.  Oops.  I just thought I had tight or weak muscles and needed to strengthen them. Anyway, I broke down and went to the doctor today because if weekly massages and chiropractic visits don’t do the job, then something must legitimately be wrong.  Our new insurance plan almost convinced me to  just deal with the pain or cut off my arm, but I look better in long-sleeved shirts than sleeveless tops, and besides, part of my back near my scapula hurts too, so that wouldn’t solve the problem.  I figured I should just be a responsible adult and pay the piper.  The doctor said that it could very well be my neck, but because I am having a hard time running, and because of a host of other tests and what not, it’s most likely a tear in my labrum, part of the shoulder.  I was puzzled, until I remembered the blue weight episode.  Ah, light bulb! All the pieces suddenly fit together.  After the doctor has a chance to look at my MRI on March 1 (yes, I have to wait that long for a return visit.  Man, this guy must be good), I will know what’s wrong with my arm, shoulder, neck, whatever.  He did not specifically restrict me from doing anything, probably because I’m not on workers’ comp, so I assumed that meant I could keep running.

Tonight I ran a little over 6 miles with Riley.  We went at a comfortable 7:50 pace and sprinkled in some hill sprints here and there.  It was comfortable from an aerobic standpoint, but not so much in the shoulder department.  Am I really that mental?  Has being told that I might have a torn labrum (and that those typically hurt when you run) made me instantly become some wimp whose shoulder hurts during a 47 minute run?  Or have I been so focused on my IT band, shins, and the rock/gristle ball in my trap that I didn’t notice the weakness and aching in my shoulder?  Either way, I realized that it’s not easy to run without the full use of your upper body.  That’s probably why you don’t see to many double-arm amputees out there doing marathons.  Well, that’s probably not the only reason they don’t do marathons.  So people, go do some pushups and military presses and whatever else Runner’s World tells runners to do to strengthen their upper bodies.  I used to laugh when I saw those little articles with the pictorial demonstrations of “dips,” side rows, flys, etc, because they were child’s play compared to the legitimate lifting that we swimmers did, but now it’s not so funny is it?  If I had heeded the advice of the editors at Runner’s World, I would have had no problem with the blue weights.  Now the joke’s on me I guess.  Is this my payback for making fun of the guy in the Vibrams?  No, I was hurting before that post.

Fear not, I will continue to run.  If there is something wrong with my labrum and they need to operate on it, I might as well go down in a blaze of glory and make them work for their money.  Like someone eating a 10,000 calorie meal right before going in for gastric bypass.  Speaking of which, I have actually reduced my Bojangles intake to once a week!  I will let you know how that plan is working out after my 13-miler on Saturday.  I may need to do some serious cajun filet biscuit refueling.

Stride Right

A couple weeks ago I took SuperBaby to get fit for her first pair of legitimate walking shoes.  Granted, she isn’t walking yet, but it’s inevitable right?  I guess she takes after me in that she likes to sit around and one day, will probably just get up and start running.  I am not much of a walker myself, so this would make sense.  Anyway, she got a pair of Stride Rite soft-soled shoes to add to her collection of useless, sparkly, hard-soled shoes that are completely inappropriate for new walkers.  I too have a large collection of useless, hard-soled shoes, most of which come with 4-inch heels and make my feet hurt.  My running shoes, on the other hand, have soft soles and are flexible, like SuperBaby’s new shoes.  This makes sense, because it’s important to have cushioning but also to feel the ground.  Recently, I started running in a different type of shoe, and I think it has made all the difference in the world.

I used to wear the Mizuno Wave Precision running shoes.  They are light weight, and are made for someone with a neutral stride. This means my running form is basically perfect.  Not really, but it does mean that I don’t overpronate or underpronate (roll my foot out or in after I strike the ground).  As such, I don’t require a lot of support or motion control.  I was happy with my Wave Precisions for many years, but noticed that as I increased mileage, even in a very conservative manner, my knees and hips would really suffer.  When I was pregnant, it was so bad that I had to switch to a (wide) New Balance shoe with extra cushioning.  But after I had SuperBaby and started running seriously again, I had that light-bulb moment: maybe there actually is something wrong with my stride!  I had my stride analyzed at Run for Your Life and learned that I was a very heavy heel striker.  I would land very hard on the heel of my foot then roll forward onto the ball of my foot.  This is bad for the joints.  It puts a ton of pressure on the knees and hips.  A number of different shoes were recommended, all of which were way more expensive than I wanted to pay, so I bought a pair of socks and left thinking about how I would remedy the situation.  I came upon a number of articles about barefoot running and how the way you run barefoot is the way nature intended, so when you put on a pair of shoes you run differently, which is not good for your body.  Or something like that. I am not a scientist, and I really didn’t read any of the books about barefoot running/minimalist running or much research.  I just decided that I liked the concept of trying to get back to a more natural/minimalist style of running- that is, striking with the forefoot or midfoot first.  Since I have been such a heavy heel striker, I decided to try out a pair of shoes that basically forces you to strike with your forefoot.

The first pair of shoes that really revolutionized my running was the Newton Distance U.  It’s pricey, but it was worth it.  The people at Newton are either really smart, really good at marketing, or both.  The videos they did demonstrating the difference in running the “Newton way” and running the way most people do – heel first – truly sold me on the product. It just made common sense.  I was running against gravity pretty much, and my knees and hips felt the effects.  I started out running in my Newtons as recommended, just a few miles at a time.  Running naturally, the “Newton way,” forefoot striking, etc., places a lot of stress on your feet and calves. We are not used to running in the barefoot style, which requires quite a lot of foot and calf strength.  I figured this out quickly, but I also quickly noticed my hips and knees did not hurt at all.  I only wore that one pair of Newton’s, which lasts about 500 miles, or 200 miles more than most running shoes, then transitioned to a very very light shoe that enables me to continue my attempt at minimalist running. The Saucony ProGrid Kinvara is about 7 oz.  It comes in a zillion colors. It’s fairly wide in the forefoot but snug everywhere else, which is perfect for my foot.  And the best part is that it is specifically designed to enable you to run in a minimalist style while providing protection from the elements and some cushioning.  The best part is that I can get the shoes for about $60 (although they do tend to wear down a bit faster than heavier shoes).

So I was wearing my Kinvaras, as always, for my run tonight.  I was feeling pretty good after my day off yesterday, aside from the ongoing gristle/rock ball in my right trapezius (now working it’s way up my neck and down into my back).  My workout was a 1/2 mile warmup, 6 x 1 mile at half marathon pace with 2 minute jog recoveries between, and a 1/2 mile cool down. By the end, I was heel striking like crazy.  That’s how I know my legs are dead.  I start gradually landing with my heel instead of my forefoot or midfoot.  Nonetheless, my perceived level of exertion was extremely low, such that I felt really good at the end from an endurance perspective, just physically tired in my legs.  I finished all six of the mile repeats in under 7:25.  Not a bad effort to start the week.

While I was running, I noticed a hulking man struggling around the track wearing the Vibram Five Finger shoes, and a Speedo tank top, and weird long soccer shorts and one calf sleeve. Yikes. These Vibrams are no joke.  They are hardcore. This is as close to barefoot running as you can get without being Kenyan.  The thing is, all the people I have ever seen wear Vibrams or run barefoot were rail-thin and looked like they were born to run.  Now, I know that not everyone is built like a sterotypical skinny, willowy runner.  I certainly am not.  I look like a shotputter.  But I am pretty sure that barefoot or even minimalist running is much more effective (read: less painful on the calves and feet) if you  are not carrying a 6’4, 270 lbs frame.  The poor guy finished his run then hobbled off the track looking like he’d just completed an Ironman wearing sweatpants on the swim.  I really wanted to suggest to him that he try a minimalist shoe but not a Vibram.  He looked like he was in so much pain.  This further validated my decision not to wear the Vibrams.  I just think that we have gotten so conditioned to using shoes that we need to take baby steps towards adopting a completely different way of running.

All in all, I think minimalist running is not for everyone.  But what is for everyone is finding out if there is anything you are doing with your stride that could be changed to improve efficiency and lessen pain.  Do yourself a favor and have your gait analyzed at a local running store.  You could truly change your running for the better.  Just think, if I’d let Buddha continue wearing those useless glitter shoes, she wouldn’t be walking now.  Oh wait, she still isn’t walking.  But she seems a lot more comfortable now!

Continuing Education

Continuing education is something that many professionals are familiar with. Lawyers, accountants, doctors. It’s an inevitable part of our year, and not exactly my favorite way to spend a Saturday morning. I am currently learning about how technology can ruin your law practice. Great, guess I should find a type writer and start sending everything by courier. I don’t really feel like I have learned anything thus far.

In terms of running though, I am constantly learning new things. I thought I knew everything about my body and it’s limits. I learned the past few days that, surprisingly (because I am usually right about most things), I was wrong. My shin splints have all but disappeared thanks in large part to my BodyHelix universal calf sleeves. My IT band problems are also just an occasional nagging reminder that I need to stretch more. So I think “great, I can run more and run harder!” WRONG. My trapezius muscle on the right side of my neck has turned into a giant ball of rocks and gristle. I am wearing my Korean herbal patches 12 hours a day. I get massages, try to run as relaxed as possible, but the rock/gristle ball keeps getting bigger. So even though my legs are fine, I have learned that some part of my body has to give me fits. Otherwise, my life would just be too easy.

With my rock/gristle ball constantly reminding me that I’m not 15 anymore, I took on two runs that were not supposed to be overly challenging. I have learned that I am now incapable of just doing a true recovery run. Note to all of you runners out there: don’t be like me. Take your recovery runs like you are supposed to. I am just a glutton for punishment, and am often literally running against the clock- so the faster I run, the more I can do in my limited period of time designated for working out. Last night I did a 6 mile tempo run then 6 x 1 minute hill sprints. “Tempo” is a pace that’s not all that comfortable. It’s not fast, but it’s hard enough that you can’t talk much. I did not intend for it to be a tempo run, but, as per usual, I only had 55 minutes to do that run plus my sprints. In addition, there was just one person on the indoor track at my parents’ gym, and naturally, he was the fastest 59-year-old in High Point. He was repping out 7 minute miles and passing me every mile, so of course, I had to run faster. So I did six miles in 46 minutes. It actually felt pretty good. Then I did my hill sprints at a level 8 incline and 8.0 mph pace. Death ensued. I thought I would have one of those fall of the treadmill moments. There’s a lot of older, less intense exercisers at my parents’ gym on a Friday night, and surely they thought I was insane. Because I am. I knew my legs were dead after Thrursday night’s workout, but I ran too fast anyway.

So this morning would be my easy 7-8 mile run in preparation for Sunday’s long run. Wrong again. I decided to run with the infamous Sherman Criner. He is mediator and father of three in Wilmington that was in town for Continuing Education. Oh, and he happens to be training for an Ironman. And I thought I was crazy? No, he runs more than me, then, during the time I spend eating, napping, and watching tv, he goes and swims or bikes. Yeah, that’s never happening unless I get a heart, lung, and lower body transplant. Sherman wanted to do a nine mile tempo run. We run at fairly similar paces so I knew this would be a problem. I wanted to run like an 8:30-8:45 pace, and really was thinking 8 miles would be a stretch. But I figured we could make it work. I mapped out the run at 11 pm last night. I was well aware of the topography having traversed the same roads with my automobile multiple times. It was a perfect 8 mile out-and-back course (4 miles down then turn around and head back those 4 miles). Except for the fact that there were about 7 hills that were a 9% grade and 1/3 mile long each. They were horrendous. Absolutely the worst course I have ever mapped. Even if I were running on fresh legs, I still would have been spewing out four letter words and wishing I could just get hit by a car to end it all. Running on dead legs only 12 hours after my last run made my pain, and resultantly, anger with myself, that much greater. Did I mention the run started before 7am when it was less than 30 degrees out? There were times during the run that I honestly felt we were running backward. I felt like the man who pushed his son in a wheelchair while doing the Ironman was running faster, and less painfully, than me. I really wanted to hang it up and go into Sheetz for one of those “flavored coffees” that is 1% coffee, 99% sugar, chocolate, and cream- but I didn’t have any money. Plus, I didn’t want Sherman to think I was a wuss. He is running 16 miles tomorrow and did some crazy 12×400 hill workout the other day. Our last mile was virtually uphill too, which is odd because I didn’t recall running downhill in the first mile. That’s how it always goes. We finished in 1:09 for an 8:42 pace. Sherman’s GPS must be messed up, because I could have sworn we were speed-walking up those hills at a 13:00/mile pace. All in all, it wasn’t a bad time. It was the most painful 8:42 pace run ever.

Just when I thought I couldn’t put my body in any more pain, I manage to top myself. I think I am really going to need a recovery week next week. And tomorrow’s run cannot be pretty. I will be doing it in Raleigh, which is just one giant hill. I may have to run laps around the Food Lion parking lot to avoid any hills. Don’t think I won’t do it. I think I already met my hill quota for the month.

Whether you are learning more about your profession, your relationships, or running, it’s amazing to realize what our bodies and minds are capable of. While I don’t think my brain has room for much more information about professionalism (which I am full of), I know my body can learn how to deal with pain, soreness, and being deprived of a chicken biscuit on a Saturday morning. Seriously, it is in shock. It’s like “um hey, it’s 10 am, where’s my reward for being filled with Gatorade and nasty power gel?” Unfortunately, there is no Bojangles at the Grandover Resort, so I have to go without… for now.

I need to be committed

The title of this post is a bit of a double entendre. I feel like I need to be committed to an institution after what a challenging day I had at work. Sometimes it’s hard to be a litigator. I usually really like arguing and talking, but I don’t like hearing people argue at me like I am the scum of the earth. I was in Raleigh all day and knew I would get home late, so I had the decision of either running as soon as I got back to Charlotte, waiting until Super Baby went to bed, or giving up and settling into bed with a book and glass of wine. But I had made a commitment to my family and my running, so I came home, fed Super Baby, played with her, then shuffled off to the Y. Since today was not an easy run day, I was even less thrilled about the prospect of running at 7:30.

The good thing about running that late is saving the $2.50 on childcare at the Y. Well, that’s just incidental. The best thing is that the indoor track is virtually empty! There were only a couple people, which gave me no excuse not to run hard, but for my own decrepit body still reeling from going into total spasms all day yesterday. I went to the chiropractor and massage therapist, both of which helped somewhat. This is just my body’s way of telling me I am not made for land. I am a sea-faring creature by nature. But I digress… my workout was another one I have never tried. So it was not all that pretty. Add one part exhaustion/frustration from the day’s events, one part soreness from yesterday’s massage, and one part ignorance at how difficult the run would be – and what do you get? Pure and utter agony.

SuperDad pointed out to me that I may be eliminating a potential group of readers by using too much running lingo like “recovery” or “ladder” or “specific endurance training.” I didn’t realize that a) I have many readers, b) I have that many non-runner readers, or c) these terms are not self-explanatory to anyone with access to Google. But he makes somewhat of a valid point, so I will make clear in this post exactly what everything means.

I started with one 3200 (that’s two miles) warmup (getting ready to run hard jog) at marathon pace (for me- about 8:20. For you, maybe 9:30, or “no such pace because I am not crazy enough to run a marathon) Then I stretched for about a minute and went on to 2×1600 (a 1600 is a mile) at HMP (half marathon pace – about 7:30). I took 30 seconds rest (not doing anything but chugging water) between those miles. Next I did 4 x 800 (half mile) at 10k pace (about 7:00), with one minute between each. I finished with 6 x 400 (quarter mile) at 5k pace (about 6:45).

My splits were:
3200 – 16:20

1st 1600 – 7:25
2nd 1600- 7:23

1st 800 – 3:28
2nd 800 – 3:32 (yikes)
3rd 800 – 3:25
4th 800 – 3:24

1st and 2nd 400 – 1:38
3rd 400- 1:39
4th 400- 1:37
5th 400- 1:38
6th 400- 1:36

Afterward, I don’t know how far I warmed down. It was enough that I was no longer hyperventilating or cursing myself for doing this awful workout. I would have rather been water boarded or forced to watch a marathon of That’s So Raven. If this workout doesn’t make me faster and stronger, I give up.

Looking back, a mere two hours later, two things stand out in my mind: 1) I didn’t quit, despite the sheer agony I was in by the third of those half milers, and 2) someone on that track smelled like the inside of Super Baby’s Diaper Genie. So today’s run was half good/half bad.

Thanks to this blog, I have stayed committed to running hard and running smart. I have also committed myself to eating just two Cajun Filet biscuits a week, and I have only had one so far, so Saturday, it’s Bo time!

My funkdafied run

I decided to change up my planned run a little bit because I was feeling extra motivated this evening.  I decided to do a workout I have never tried: 1 mile warmup, 2 x 5k at HMP with 90 second active recovery between 5k’s, then 1 mile cool down.  It would have been a good idea, but once again, the running gods decided to play several jokes on me.

Around mile 2 of my first 5k, I realized there were several bad things going on.  One: I needed a longer warmup. I was hurting bad.  Two: it was really really cold outside and I was wearing a short-sleeved cotton shirt, shorts, and compression socks. I was planning on running indoors for some reason, but changed my mind and wanted to run on the outdoor track.  Luckily, or so I initially though, I had some Asics arm warmers in my car.  These things are incredible… if the windchill is not -20.  Ok, the windchill wasn’t that bad, but my choice of cotton t-shirt, which I almost never wear (what was I thinking?), lack of headgear, and the setting sun all worked in concert to conquer the awesome body temperature regulating capacity of the Asics arm warmers.  Third problem: my really old, but usually trusty Garmin between the hours of 7am and 4pm, has issues when the sun starts to go down. As such, I had to take my workout indoors after the first 5k.  This was fine, because I just used my jog into the Y as my active recovery.  This is where things got funkdafied… literally.

My second 5k and cool down coincided with Cardio Funk.  Now, let me preface this by saying that I am a fan of Cardio Funk, in theory.  These ladies, and a few men, really have it figured out.  What is more clever than dancing to fun music as exercise?  I have done it a couple times, most recently when I was 30 weeks pregnant.  It was not pretty, and I actually had to leave class early to go jog, because it is much harder to jump up and down, pop, lock, and shake your giant belly/booty when you are that pregnant than it is to jog around a track.  That was my last foray into Cardio Funk. So anyway, I truly enjoy watching 90 white women break it down to NeYo, Black Eyed Peas (who should now be banned from the Cardio Funk playlist after that Super Bowl Performance), and Beyonce.  It’s like watching one of those smash mobs on YouTube. Seriously, I am sure it is as amusing for me to watch as it was for people to watch my half white/half yellow self dancing at clubs in Atlanta when I was in law school.  I shudder when I replay those images in my mind, and that’s why I don’t dance anymore, unless it is at a wedding or Cardio Funk. Now, one of my issues with  Cardio Funk is that the volume in the gym is at least six times louder than it needs to be.  Maybe it is because some of the geriatric ladies who walk on the track in the morning are taking the class?  No, not possible, they are already in their pj’s having after-supper decaf coffees. I guess it’s because it wouldn’t be fun to dance to music playing at the same levels as the Muzak in your dentist’s office. The problem is that, because of the insanely high decibel at which “all the single ladies, all the single ladies” is blasting from the speakers, the teenagers strolling around the indoor track cannot hear me say “EXCUSE ME!!!” as I try to run by.

Which leads to the second issue I have with Cardio Funk.  Like the cold nor’easter causes thousands of birds to migrate south for the winter, Cardio Funk causes the kids playing basketball, who have been displaced from their gym, to meander up to the track and walk around it, dribbling their basketballs between lanes of the track.  These darn kids (insert voice of your grandfather here) are worse than the Justin Bieber fans because they have props, and they travel in packs! I can weave around a teenage girl talking on her iPhone, but if there were four of her and they were tossing their iPhones and Uggs around the track and I had to dodge those too, ugh.  Haha. These kids and their basketballs have virtually turned the indoor track into a steeplechase.  Next time, there will probably be puddles of Mountain Dew and hurdles of textbooks stacked up around the track.  Guess I better just be more prepared to run outside, or face my nemesis.

In spite of the funky obstacles I had to overcome, I finished my two 5k’s at 23:10 and 22:54.  That’s right- I ran faster indoors, with my anger fueling me.  Or perhaps it was because I could feel my legs, wasn’t running into a headwind, and I now always negative split.  Yep, I am becoming that good at pacing myself.  All in all, it was one of my most difficult workouts in a very long time.  Even tougher than my ladder runs.  Sustaining my goal half marathon pace for over 45 minutes was quite a challenge.  It reminded me of what I already know- I am sooooo not ready to run under a 1:37 right now!  But, it is crucial to get some race-specific endurance training in, and when you run pretty close to your target, it gives you confidence.  The overall mileage and long runs help build up your base endurance, but if you have a time goal, you need to teach your body how to run at the pace you want it to perform at on race day.  Eventually, I should be able to do increasingly longer training runs at goal race pace, but those workouts will be sparingly so that I don’t overly fatigue my body prior to the race.

Tomorrow, as planned, is a recovery day with some hill intervals at the end. One perk of doing speed work and tempo runs close to race pace is that your recovery jogs tend to get faster because your recovery pace feels a lot easier.  Anything that buys me more time to hang out with SuperBaby and SuperDad sounds good to me.  Speaking of which, SuperDad took SuperBaby grocery shopping after work today so that I could run without leaving her at the Y’s nursery.  I feel like a deadbeat mom sometimes for taking her to daycare all day and then taking her to the Y, which I only do once or twice a week actually.  It’s obviously important that she has a sane mother who is healthy (besides the Bojangles) and wants to instill good habits in her, but it’s equally as important for her to spend time with us.  I go see her at lunch almost every day, but if SuperDad didn’t pick up the slack in the after-school department, I would have to either run very early every morning, or go to work at 7 every day so I could run before picking her up from daycare.  Those are things I need to start mixing into my schedule, but for now, it’s nice to know she is getting to spend quality time with both of us and not just a bunch of very patient, very kind ladies who take great care of her at school and at the Y.

Running hot dogs

Yesterday I rested from blogging but not running.  I spent a lot of time napping but eventually got down to business and decided to go for my long run without my Garmin (luckily, I found it in my purse today, along with a baby sock and an overdue library book).  After hyperventilating for about a half hour and trying to figure out how I would run without it, I came to grips with the situation and mapped out 11.1 miles on mapmyrun. I made a note of the 1 mile marker, and took off, planning to do a 1 mile warmup then 10.1 miles around half marathon pace (7:30) plus 10%.  I brought Riley, the hot dog, along for the adventure.

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You wanna know why SuperDad is so super?  Because he plays video games until 3am (and I thought I was the half Asian one) and still will wake up at 8am to feed SuperBaby so I can go run and do Power Hour on a Saturday morning.  If the tables were turned, I probably would not stay up until 3am playing a video game, or any game for that matter, but regardless, there is no way I would get up after five hours of sleep just so my spouse could go run around in circles.  Then again, running keeps me sane and prevents my inevitable march towards obesity, so I guess he is benefiting.

This morning, I jogged four miles then did half of Power Hour.  I figured I should cut out early because today is my easy day, plus, SuperBaby and I were heading out of town to see my parents, and I wanted to have plenty of time for Bojangles and a nap.  One of my best friends, Brewer, took Power Hour and our other best friend (with the 4 ft long legs and insane body) taught class.  Before class, an older runner asked my about my BodyHelix sleeves and I gave a brief pitch, so hopefully he will buy a pair.  The sleeves came through again today, so I am definitely wearing them on my long run tomorrow.  During class, I once again realized how little upper body strength I have due to my focus on running.  That’s fine, because I have a tendency to build up upper body mass like a Greco Roman wrestler.  I skipped out on the jumping jacks because they exacerbate my shin splints.   Instead, I sprinted around the track.  That was my one modification for the day.  I have a rule that if you are not a newbie to Power Hour, you can have one modification per class.  Kevin always modifies the single-leg dead lifts.  I don’t know why, because they aren’t that difficult and are very effective at strengthening your hamstrings.  If you have never done them before, I highly recommend them.  They are one of my favorite exercises, probably because I have excellent balance and I am very good at them.  It actually is good to see Kevin skipping out on them, because I feel ever more superior.  Anyway, I always modify jump rope, because I have never been good at jump roping and obviously, because it makes my shins hurts more.  Some people modify pushups, and that’s understandable.  But single-leg dead lifts?  Come on.  Sorry Kevin, but you saw this one coming a mile away.

The rest of the day was devoted to sleeping, eating (one Cajun filet biscuit and two Bo Berry biscuits, thank you very much) and working.  The working part was not that fun but hey, I don’t get paid to write witty things about running, so I need to keep my day job going.  Tomorrow I am modifying my usual long run route of Southpark to Myers Park, because I am in Greensboro.  That will be a nice change of pace, provided there is enough sidewalk.  For some reason, sidewalks are a virtually endangered species here in the boro.  I will probably also need a deep tissue massage because I left my foam roller at home and my IT band is getting a little angry with me after yesterday’s workouts, so if anyone wants to set up a massage fund for me at Zen massage on East Blvd, I will gladly accept the handout.

Doubles don’t suck that bad

Well, I did it.  I accomplished my first double workout since college I think.  And it wasn’t so bad.  Sure, I will be ready to crawl into bed after I finish off this glass of wine and episode of Top Chef, but my legs don’t hurt – yet.  I decided to avoid the indoor track because Jeremy Block thinks indoor track workouts are lame and because I wanted to avoid the teeny boppers (Lisa you understand my pain), and because it was pouring freezing rain, I had only one option… dun dun dun, the treadmill.  I gave the treadmill an obligatory swift kick, as I often do before I hop on it.  I literally hop on the treadmill, I don’t know why.  35 minutes later, I was done running and it wasn’t so bad.  Today was a good day, to say the least.  The ONLY good thing about the treadmill is that I don’t have to dodge and weave to get past anyone.  But of course, one of the many bad things, other than what I listed in previous posts, is that people go over the 30 minute time limit by quickly restarting the timer after the 30 minutes expires.  Um hello, do you think I didn’t notice that your speed just went from 6.0 to 0.0, your “time elapsed” now magically says “0:25,” and your shirt is drenched in sweat? I have actually said to someone “I know you have already gone for 30 minutes” and the response was “so has the person beside me.”  Seriously?  Luckily I did not have to deal with that today, or I probably would have just turned in my YMCA membership because of my outrage over the multiple breaches of track/treadmill etiquette.

Tonight, I wore my new BodyHelix calf sleeves in OmniSkyn.  I used a different material before and had a harder time running in them because they are a bit more restrictive and I am between sizes.  The OmniSkyn is great.  I did my run in the OmniSkyn sleeve tonight and really felt like my shins/calves were well supported.  I have no pain while running on the treadmill, which is a first.  See below, where I model my new Dexter t-shirt, some serious pit stains, and the BodyHelix.

As you can see, I am built more like a shotputter than a Shalane Flanagan

Tomorrow is a recovery run with a few Fartleks (brief intervals of faster paced running).  Sunday is my long run.  Let’s hope this weather clears up.  There is nothing fun about running 12 miles on an indoor track, or for that matter- 20- my personal record.