Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sunshine is Back

Today's gorgeous sunshine makes the past two days of steady cold rain seem like a bad dream. Monday I ventured out on my bike for an hour and 19 minutes, it was a progressively colder and wetter ride. Yay me.

Lot's of self talk going on for this workout. I kept telling myself, "You can do this." "You've ridden in worse weather than this before." "PUUULEEZE, this is no ironman, you can make it an hour in the rain!" That made me think, rides like this one in cruddy weather when you just want to give it up and you wonder why you are even out there, help build the mental toughness needed for IM race day. So I kept going. I told myself, "You don't have to feel your feet to make your legs pedal this bike." My feet and fingers were completely numb with cold. Truthfully it was only the last 25 minutes that were brutal. By the time I made it home, my bike was covered in mud and so was I! In fact, the road spray had soaked through my tights and shorts and I had mud all over my skin. The hot shower was painful like I had frostbite or something!

Later that day in the early evening, Colin said "Come on, let's go for a run." I was still mentally un-recovered from the ride and not quite ready to step back out into the rainy day. I knew though that if I let him go running without me, I would wish I was out there. So off we went for 4 miles! Mentally my heart wasn't really in it, but he made me laugh and said it was perfect running weather, suck it up sally. It HAD stopped raining and it was on the cool side, but not too bad out there.
Want to get your shoes completely dry after a rainy wet workout so they're ready to go on your next time out? Simply stuff them with newspaper and the next day when you remove the newspaper, the paper is damp and the shoes are bone-dry. Works great for bike shoes and running shoes.

Yesterday I ran 7.5 miles in the rain with friends. Those great friends are what got me out there on my low motivation day. Today it is gorgeous and sunny, temps in the low-50's. Colin and I are headed to bike in a little while. I had one of the best pool workouts today, 2000 yards and I got my strokes down to 16 for each 25 for nearly the entire workout. That is crazy good for me! Granted it's not that good among "true swimmers" but it's the best I've ever done in the pool. Last winter I was taking 25 to 27 strokes per 25, over the summer I got it down to 18-19, but 16 is unheard of for me. My friend Julie (a "true swimmer") helped me with some drills in the pool last week that are helping me decrease the strokes, who knew?? It was a hard workout, but worth it.

Hard workouts, the theme for this post. A hard bike ride due to weather, a hard run (2 of them actually...) due to low motivation, a hard pool workout due to pushing myself. How do you deal with hard workouts? They are worth it though, aren't they? :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring for a Week

Last week was the first week for official Ironman training and proved to be a kick-off for some rockin' spring sunshine and warm temps. It's all a distant memory with today's dreary grey skies, steady rain, and a dropping 39 degrees to match. But, back to last week! It was gorgeous everyday with sunny, pure blue skies, and warm air in the high 50's and 60's! Perfect biking weather and I sailed through every workout with a huge grin and straight up joy in my soul! All while working everyday, subbing has been busy recently. By the way, people in Rochester seriously break out shorts and flip flops when it hits the 60's!

Re-cap of last week's workouts: Let me say that I LOVED every second out there! It felt like re-uniting with my long lost friend of "triathlon training." I know I'm a dork, I've admitted it many times on this blog, but I was so happy to slide right back into tri training again. I'm not going to do a weekly post of my specific training, but this is a general idea of my tri training schedule, although the time and distances will increase considerably along the way.

Monday: 2100 yard pool workout
40 min. run

Tuesday: 1 hr. 10 min. bike
2050 yard pool workout

Wednesday: 1800 yard pool workout
1 hr. bike

Thursday: Brick (back to back bike/run workout)
1 hr. 27 min. bike/15 min. run

Friday: 1 hr. 43 min. bike (followed immediately by a recovery run)
25 min. run

Saturday: 11 mile long run at a 9:00 pace

Sunday: rest (ahhhhhhh)

I feel recovered from the marathon completely by now. In addition to marathon training, I have been swimming since December, but first just once a week and then twice weekly for the past couple of months. This was my first week to bike since November. It felt great to be back on the bike and I know my speed will build over the next 23 weeks of Ironman training, with several shorter tri races and running races in the mix. Last summer I got to the point where it didn't hurt to run after biking, my legs were pretty conditioned for it. Thursday I felt all kinds of pain in all my muscles and tendons for that 15 minute run! In Friday's run I didn't feel any pain, instead my legs felt like lead cylinders that couldn't move anything but slow! Good times. :)

Kudos to my training partners: Colin biked with me three times last week-one day after a working a night shift and only 2 hours of sleep! Another day Colin and another friend of ours biked with me. The long run was done with my normal Saturday running group and I even met a couple new people that day. Two swim workouts were with friends. That left me with only one solo bike workout and one solo swim workout. Not bad!

Coming Soon: A blog post about the sheer misery of today's cold, wet, rainy, muddy bike ride. Did I mention it was miserable? Lest you think I'm "Sally Sunshine," today completely sucked and the run wasn't too hot either, but at least I had a running bud, thanks Colin. :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Johnny's Runnin' O The Green

Saturday, March 13, 2010
This was my 5 year wedding anniversary and my husband had to work for 27 hours beginning at 7:30 AM-yay US! What can you do? You make the best of it, we're celebrating a day late. So, in honor of 5 married years I signed up for a 5 mile race, a pretty big one here in Rochester, as it turns out. It's a St. Patty's Day race followed by a parade through the city. I was well on my way home during the parade in some chilly 40-degree rainy weather! I did, however, run in shorts (actually a skirt, my new favorite thing...) and long sleeves. I wasn't the least bit cold while running, yes, cold afterwards. (But that's what long pants and fleece jackets are for!)

There were around 1600 or 1800 runners, many in green and some in fun costumes, including kilts. I started out with my long run buds and three of us stayed together for a little while. Wendy and I ran the first 2 plus miles together, then she moved on ahead and I did my best to keep her in sight. It was an out and back course so we got to cheer on the front runners as we were still going out which was really fun. We even knew a couple of them!

I finished a minute behind Wendy and 2 minutes behind my other friend Mark. My normal long run group had done a 7-mile pre-run to reach their long distance of 17 for the day and they all still ran FAST races! Still I'm happy with my 7:38 average pace a week after the marathon. My splits were mile 1- 7:28, mile 2- 7:44, mile 3- 7:39, mile 4- 7:54, mile 5- 7:31.

I opted to call it a day at 5 miles instead of running 5 more with my friends-about 8 of them were still going like energizer bunnies! Maybe if it had been a beautiful day I would have kept running. But I deserve an easy weekend because Monday is Ironman Training Week One, already!!!

IT Band Stretch

If you've ever run with me you've already seen this stretch a zillion times. There are other good stretches for IT but this one is quick, convenient and easy. You can easily stop on the side of the road for this quick stretch if necessary at any time during a run.

Step 1: Cross the right foot over the left foot.

Step 2: Lean to your right to stretch the left IT band.

(View of the above left IT stretch from the back.)

Opposite Side: Cross left foot over right foot, lean to the left to stretch the right IT band.

Tips: Keep the back leg straight and stiff, push hip outward to really feel the stretch.

Another good one is to roll on a foam roller or medicine ball. This is done by lying on your side with the roller or ball under your leg. Balance yourself with one hand on the floor and the foot of your top leg on the floor. Then roll as slowly as possible from hip to knee (and back up) on the side of your bottom leg, with as much body weight/pressure that you can stand. You could do this 10 times on each side, or less. You can really feel the IT band stretching and if you're tight or injured it will be painful. Another runner told me this weekend that she uses a rolling pin on her IT to stretch it out as well. There are other stretches that can be done lying on your back but this standing stretch is my "go-to" IT band stretch. :)

Ice massage is great for IT band inflammation after a workout. I've used this in the past when I had severe knee pain from a tight IT band. Simply freeze a paper cup filled with water in advance. Immediately following your run, peel the paper down on the cup so that the ice is exposed. Move the ice in small circles all along the outside of the knee for 10 minutes. Be careful to ice in small circles and not in an up and down motion. I always needed a towel underneath my knee because it melted into a big puddle as I was icing.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Little Rock Friends

My dear friend Teraysa. I got to stay with her and we
got some much needed catch-up time.

You never fully realize how much you miss a place, and how much you miss the people, until you are suddenly back and it hits you right in the face. I loved every minute of seeing my friends and enjoyed spectacular spring weather with glorious sunshine all weekend. It was quite nostalgic to be back in Little Rock and visiting with old friends and running on my favorite old streets. Thank you to everyone for being so wonderful, it was truly a weekend to remember. I had to battle mild depression when I left town and headed home. Miss you guys!

Brian, Karen, John and Allison, Me, Lea and Greg at the post race party.
Everyone ran some part of the marathon-full, half or relay.

The Girls: Karen, Lea, me, Allison, Tina

Tina and I at the post race party.

Tray and I again, at our favorite Starbucks. :)

Hills? What hills?

Hills? What hills? Yep, that is the slogan for the Little Rock Marathon. They also went with "It's a natural" this year, since Arkansas is the "natural state." Anyway, back to that slogan, be afraid, be very afraid! As I was climbing away on the course I remembered why I had never opted to run the full marathon while I lived in Little Rock. It's a hard course! And why, I ask you, did I wait to sign up for the full, until I had been gone for almost two years! I mean, I USED to train on every inch of that course! It's been awhile. :) Still, it's a great course, very challenging, an accomplishment to finish, well organized and I definitely recommend it! But next time I just want to run the half in Little Rock if it's okay with all of you.

Best Part of the Race: Unexpectedly getting to run with running partners from years past! Seeing friends along the course both running and on the sidelines! Just loved that. I stayed with my friend Tina in Little Rock the night before the race and she and I went to the start together. Ran into Amy in the corral and her husband snapped a pic of us together.

Weather: A warm 48 at the start with a slight breeze. I felt a bit chilled at the start but it was truly just race jitters! My long sleeved shirt came off just after mile 2. It was tank top and shorts weather! Temps climbed to mid-60's but we had cloud cover till my last mile, it was perfect!

Miles 1-3: Took it easy and did not go out too fast for once! Right on my goal pace at 8:30's and 8:20's. According to my training and 800 m repeats and tempo runs and marathon pace runs etc, I should have been able to hold this pace, but more on that later. :)

Also saw a friend and running buddy Karen Call running past me at mile 2, she ran a great half even with her achilles injury! Yay! Saw a teacher friend on the sidelines who called my name, also great! Saw my friend Tina pass me by in mile 3! Always great to see friends and cheer each other on!

Miles 4-11: There almost aren't words for these miles. My friend from literally 7 years ago, came speeding past me and I called out to her to cheer her on. Diane Novotny, oh what a great runner-winner of the half in the early years of the race! She and I have trained quite a few miles together in years past. We ended up pacing off together and catching up on the past few years. We were chatting it up for the entire time. I know, shocking, me running my mouth, who knew? :) I didn't want to hold her back so in the beginning I said, just go ahead anytime, please. But no, this was a good pace for her, she wanted to stay right where we were and she literally helped me keep it up! At mile 6, I had to stop at a porta and I told her to go on, I'd catch up. Guess what? I came out and she was standing there like my coach with a cup of water which she quickly handed me and we took off running. That mile was an 8:53 due to the porta stop but it was fine. At mile 7 we both took a GU. I LOVED talking to her! Picture a typical runner build on the tiny side! And dark brown braids flying along! That was Diane. We hit every water stop and then at mile 11 she had to turn off for the half route while I had to keep straight ahead past Central High School. She told me she would see me at the end around mile 24 or 25 where she was planning to cheer some other friends to the finish. (By the way, these were the flat miles of the race.) Also saw Tina again, (an awesome runner, 3:21 PR), having knee pain around mile 9, and she told me she was pushing me on ahead with some positive vibes. Diane and I were right on my goal pace the whole time, awesome.

Tray and Jen made me this sign to cheer me on!

Miles 13-17: Hills. This is just one big climb with not a break. It's true. And I used to run miles 15-16 twice a week as a speed workout, of course, they were only miles 3 and 4 of the training run. Big difference. Plus it's been two years! Still I knew exactly where I was and what was next and where the end was, that helps. Let the pace slowing begin, whether you want it to or not, there goes marathon goal pace. This was when my friendly IT band decided to speak to me, protesting the hills. My right hip was tight and feeling the pain. I'm such a doctor of my running ailments. I can diagnose and treat right there in the marathon. Ha! So, on Kavanaugh, I gave in and stopped to do my famous IT band stretch, you know the one. I just held it for awhile and then hit the other side too, just to be safe. Miraculously, the pain was gone when I started to run again. Unfortunately, my IT band chose to be a complainer so I had to stop and stretch about 4 or 5 more times as it tightened up again. But it always felt better after the stretch. You gotta' do what you gotta' do, ignoring it and not stretching would have been excruciating. It was quite bearable, not even close to IT issues I've dealt with in the past. It really was about the hills, wow! No break, until...

Mile 18: Big downhill!! So fabulous! I let it go, I mean first we turned the corner and climbed a little bit more, but then the downhill. So worth it! The downhill wasn't a full mile or anything, but it was a good break. And here is where I ran into another old friend! Bentley came sprinting past on the downhill but didn't hear me call to him due to the music in his ears. So, I sped up and caught him. He was someone who had encouraged me to do an ironman one day and I totally rejected that idea. So we chatted it up for a good mile, climbing another hill without realizing it. He and his wife have a two year old son now, and he has run the LR marathon all 8 times. Alas, we hit a water stop and I had to stretch it out (again) so I let him go.

Miles 19-23: This is the out and back part that everyone dreads. It goes out and you see all the people coming back who are well ahead of you, and you just want to be where they are! Fortunately, it's flat, but that didn't matter at all, I was totally beat up from the hills!!!! By the way, I was doing beautifully with fueling for the race. I kept up my Vanilla Bean Gu gels and Blueberry Pomegranate Chomps consistently every 4-5 miles. I saw Scott, from the IM in Florida, on his bike twice during these miles. He was riding along the course to support his wife and other family members and friends who were running. It helps so much to see friends who cheer you on. Reaching the turn around is a great feeling with music blasting and all the relay runners for the last leg making a lot of noise for the runners. Of course you still had to run out of there! This was also my old running route for 5 miles, an out and back starting exactly at the turn around. It was still really hard on marathon day though.

Shout Outs: To Ashley, Scott's wife, and we high-fived as we passed each other. Yay! Then I saw Jackie, another shout out! Then I saw Arland, who called my name because he saw me first, another shout out! By the way, those last two have both achieved marathon maniac status, which means lots of consecutive marathons. I think 5 in 5 months is the minimum. wow!

Mile 24: One word, rude. But with a smile. At this point, Kevin, another guy who did IM FL in November, caught up to me. He was having a day like me. We talked about the course, how we were feeling, future IM's, trainers for biking indoors, the size of the marathon medal... We may have started running together somewhere around mile 23. It's all a blur. So back to why mile 24 is rude. Two huge hills add insult to injury, and at the top of the second hill is mile 25. I never take energy gels at this point in a race because I'm so close to the finish I can always push through and the last thing I want is another GU. I had taken in 2 gels and 1 chomp pack at this point. We were at the water stop in between those two consecutive hills and Kevin said he was taking a gel. I looked at the hill and decided I needed one too to make it up that thing!!!! Off we went!

Mile 25: Remember Diane? My running angel? There she was running out on to the course to run me in! I introduced her to Kevin and she immediately started cheering us on while running right along beside us. Kevin had to drop back and Diane just kept going, pushing me, my pace was suddenly up again. We came though a water stop and she grabbed a cup, threw some water on me and said "You need that to cool you down you're hot, drink the rest, pour the extra on your wrists!" She was AMAZING!!! She kept running me in, she said her friend was with other people and would be fine, she was getting me to the crowd support right near the finish line. Later that night I thought about Diane helping me through this race and got tears in my eyes over it. How incredible! Once the finish was in sight she gave me one last hurrah and I picked it up to get to the finish. What a great feeling, utter exhaustion, but I was done. 4:05:47.

Pity Party: I've been beating myself up all day over my finishing time. Why didn't I do mile repeats? Why didn't I do more hills? Why do we have snow on the ground all winter? Why can't I run anymore? I couldn't sleep last night over it. Ridiculous I tell you. But my therapist and previous awesome training partner, Raquel, texted me through it today at work. I love my running friends. She gave me some encouragement, and good reminders, and understood.

The Medal: Just way too much, too big. My neck could not handle it after 26 miles. I had to hold it with my hand with the ribbon around my neck. Then I had to take it off. Come on, I like to wear my medal on race day only, but it was impossible. AND I had to get re-scanned through airport security because that medal was in my carry-on, sheesh!

My attempt to show how large the medal is next to my dog's heads...

Post Race Massage: First time for this, I waited in line for 45 minutes, and it was so worth it. Actually, it got to the point where I really didn't want to wait anymore but I had already stood there so long I had to continue. I got this big burly guy with a diamond grill, he was the best. I highly recommend post race massage, deep tissue was his specialty, but he only did pressure since it was directly after the run.

Weekend Wrap-Up: I spent precious time with a dear friend, Teraysa, and her sister and family. They came to the race finish but I missed seeing them! Also got to meet other running friends for pre-race carbs the night before and the post-race party on race day. I loved running on the nostalgic streets of Little Rock. I miss these friends and this place so much. There were sooooo many people that I didn't get to see and I truly am sad about that. It's just hard to fit it all in. Another marathon in the books and lots of beautiful friends and memories tucked away with it.

Hardest Course: Yes! Not the hardest marathon I've ever run because I have run much harder marathons due to injuries. This one was definitely the hardest marathon course I've run. There is solid up-hill with no break and the hills at the end in mile 24 clench the deal. I much prefer the rolling hills of Boston which break it up some. :)

One more thing....Lots of praying on this marathon run and it's how I made it through, honestly it's how I make it through every time. Thank you Lord for another finish line and for the gift of running, and the gift of friends. :)