Thursday, September 30, 2010

Day 3: Fish In Chips

Today's post has nothing to do with running and everything to do with fun snack food from Southeast Asia.

My brother-in-law just got back from a trip to Malaysia where he won an international student competition in materials science.  If seeing pictures of Malaysia sounds way more interesting than continuing on with my blog post, check them out here.

For those of you who are left, J sent us some Malaysian junk food.

Dried cuttlefish (with hot sauce).  We haven't tried this one yet.  Stay tuned.

But we did crack open these guys: soft shell crab, grilled shrimp, and seaweed Pringles.

I had high hopes for the soft-shell crab, thinking those would taste the most Pringle-like.  (J confirmed that the sign in the grocery store said they were the best selling flavor)  Daniel thought seaweed would be the best.

Here's a look at the actual shrimp and seaweed chips.  Yes, they were pink and green as advertised.

What was the verdict?  Fortunately all of them tasted 90% like regular Pringles.  Seaweed was the clear winner.  It was mostly Pringle-y with just a little sweetness.  Despite the color being a little weird, both of us agreed that we would eat a big handful of these with a sandwich.  If you changed name of the flavor to salsa or sour cream and chives you could sell them in the US for sure.

My second favorite flavor was crab.  Again it mostly tasted like Pringles with just a little bit of a sweet/seafood taste at the end.  I didn't dislike these, but I wouldn't go out of my way to eat them.  Daniel liked shrimp more than crab.  The taste was similar, but I think the seafood overtone was stronger.  I really really really don't like dried shrimp so I was prejudiced against these chips from the beginning.  I didn't hate the shrimp chip, but I didn't like it either.

Final prediction for the chips: they will all get eaten by us.  I will help with seaweed and Daniel will make it through the rest with the help of some salsa.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Day 4: The day I talk about race goals

Sure, why not?  I've been thinking about your advice to my pacing questions and my experiences with racing and training this cycle, and, despite going back and forth about things for awhile, I think my decision making process has finally reached steady state.

Time is the time since I started thinking about this and system state is now fast I plan to try to run the marathon.

As of 9/29 that average state is an 8:48 min/mile, aiming for a 3:50 finish.  Which is to say that I've decided to run with the 3:50 pace group.  If I'm feeling great at the 1/2 way point then I'll try to speed up.

So may race goals are as follows:
1. Enjoy the race.  I've spent hours (days if you aggregate them) of my life working toward this one goal.  I want to do my best and enjoy the experience regardless of my finishing time.

2. Finish in less than 4 hours.  As much as I'd like to run 3:50, crossing the 4 hour barrier is what I care about most.  It's like being a 40-something minute 10k runner or getting into the 1:40's for the 1/2 marathon.  Sure there's a lot of variation in speed for all those times, but it represents a step up the amateur running ladder.

3. Run a 3:50.  The plan is to go out with the 3:50 group.  I'll speed up if I can and slow down if I have to, but I think this is smarter than going too fast at the beginning and trying to bank time (or pretending that I can actually run that fast for the entire race).

And there you have it.  Lakefront Marathon race plans and goals 2010.  I'm getting excited!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Day 5: The Heat is On

And I don't mean the song

Just wanted to see if I could figure out how to do that.

But yeah, the heating system for all the university apartments gets turned on when someone pulls a giant switch in late September or early October, and- after a couple nights that dipped into the low 40s or high 30s- it got turned on yesterday.  I kinda missed that crackly/poppy/xylophone sound of the radiator doing it's thing.

This will be my first run with mittens.  I've decided that I'm going to get a cheapo pair to wear and possibly discard during the race.  I've had the pair that I wear now since before Daniel and I got married, but- even though they're kind of falling apart- I have a bit of an emotional attachment to them, and I don't want to toss them out on the course.

I still haven't hit taper madness yet.  My long run on Saturday was great.  12 miles at a 9:07min/mile pace with a few miles right around race pace.  Sunday was an easy 5mi.  Yesterday I did yoga (super easy yoga that I do all the time so I *hopefully* won't do anything too strenuous or tweak anything).  And today is 6.5 with 3mi marathon pace.

Unfortunately my appetite hasn't figured out that I'm not running as much yet.  I'm trying not to worry *too* much about it and focus on eating healthy stuff.  Now's certainly not the time to cut back, but I don't want to feel icky on race day either.

So much to think about...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Day 6:Yoga! Yoga!

This is the first day I rest instead of doing strength training.  Based on the recommendations of all my wise advisers (you guys!), I'm taking this week off from strength training.  This is less because I really push myself when I do weights but more because I don't want to 1.Tweak some muscle I didn't even know I had or 2.Drop something on some part of my body that I need for the race on Sunday.

I'm up at normal time today and am planning to do 45 minutes of yoga before work.  I haven't done yoga since last Thursday so I know I need some stretching out, and I'm hoping that doing yoga first thing will trick my body into thinking that I've worked out today.  So far I haven't been feeling the icky taper feeling- actually it's been kind of nice to back off- but I'm sure it will come before the end of the week.  Isn't the icky taper feeling a sign that you've rested enough and are ready to go?  I hope so.

I've really enjoyed adding in more yoga this training cycle, and I want to try to ramp it up a bit during the boring winter months.

Definitely need a pair of these.  *Bling*

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Day 7: 1 week to go

This time next week I'll bet sitting in the hotel lobby, finishing up some coffee, waiting to take my fourth trip to the bathroom before I get on the bus.  The race doesn't do athlete tracking on their website, but I've set up some kind of application on Facebook that will post my stats at mile 7, mile 13, mile ??? later in the race, and the finish.  If anyone wants to follow me online, that's how to do it.  If you aren't my friend on Facebook (and want to be), I'm probably not too hard to find from details you know about me from the blog.  I am not holding any kind of alcoholic beverage in my profile picture, which should eliminate any possible confusion with other young women who have the same name and location as me.

On an unrelated note, we bought a 30lb watermelon at the farmer's market yesterday for $3.

Have a great Sunday, all.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Day 8:Last long run

And the first one where I'll have to use my headlamp.  *Sad*.  It's 53 this morning and it's predicted to be 50 at the start of the race, so I should start getting a good idea of exactly what I want to wear.

Daniel's grandparents are passing through Madison on their vacation, and last night we had dinner downtown at The Old Fashioned.  I ate my allotment of fried food for the year (mmmm.... totally worth it) so that should keep things interesting on my run if being attacked by black walnuts on the bike bath wasn't enough.

They look so innocent, but if you've never seen black walnuts (and I hadn't before I moved to Madison), they are like green baseballs that fall out of the trees at random, smacking into cars and laying on the sidewalk waiting to break your ankle.  Squirrels will stick them in your shoes and bike spokes.

And I'm off... I need to get an early start because we have a full day of capitol touring and farmer's marketing and Babcock Dairy-store-ing to do today.  Last long run... woot!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Day 9: On weather watch

Nine days until the race and I can finally start obsessing over the weather.  Right now things are looking pretty good.

If you don't want to get out your magnifying glass, it says low of 52, high of 61 with 20% chance of showers.  Clouds in the AM.

This is about perfect for me because it won't be too cold at the start or too hot at the end.  I'm sure one of my countdown days will be dedicated to what I'm going to wear for the race.  I have one cool weather outfit in mind and one warm weather outfit.  I'll probably bring both to the race, but that won't stop me from checking this 10 day forecast at least once a day up until we leave for Milwaukee Saturday afternoon.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's the final countdown

In 10 days and 4 hours I'm going to be like

except I really hope it's not snowing and there definitely better not be any stairs* before the finish line (oh the comments I would write on MarathonGuide). 

10 days until the marathon marks my last speed workout before the race.  This morning I did my traditional Thursday 2x15 min tempo.  The first was at goal pace (8:46min/mile), which had more to do with the fact that it was the hillier part of my route and windy as heck than my attempt to actually run marathon goal pace.  The second 15 min was flatter and more protected, and I ran at "true" tempo pace (8:15min/mile).

My interval workout Tuesday was also strong.  I did 3x(800,600,600m) at 5k-10k pace.  My paces ended up being:

8:05, 7:29, 7:31min/mile
7:30, 7:41, 7:32min/mile
7:26, 7:19, 7:25min/mile

for each set.  I was pretty excited to see all those sub-7:30 times- especially that 7:19.

I plan to do a short post each day counting down to the race (a lot of firsts and lasts).  Stay tuned for tomorrow- the first day I can start obsessing about the weather on the day of the race.

*I have actually done one race where there were stairs at the end. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


This morning is my last formal speed workout before the race: 3 x (800, 600, 600m) at 5-10k pace.  Next week I have a couple runs with marathon pace, but no fast intervals.  

It's super windy this morning, which is not the greatest weather for running even intervals.  Fortunately the wind usually blows in off the lake so most of the time it's blowing perpendicular to my route rather than right in my face.  It was about this windy when I did my last 2 x (4 x 800m), and I don't think it impacted my times that much.

All this leads me to my first (and really only) marathon strategy question: pacing.  Based on looking back at my log at long run times, and easy run times, and putting several race times from the past year in the McMillan Running Calculator, I feel like 3:50 is the right goal time for me for the race.  It seems challenging, but do-able.  BUT, the thing I'm struggling with is how to approach the race.

I know the "right" way to race is to run even or negative splits.  However, I don't think I've ever run consistent or negative splits in any race.  I usually end up going out hard (whether I actually mean to or not) and trying to hold on.  This has gotten me great results in some cases (Bellin) and terrible ones in others (Lake Monona 20k).

I feel like I'm deciding between:
1. Get in the 3:50 pace group.  (I've never run with a pace group before).  If I want to speed up at the 1/2 way point then I can try that.  Hope I don't hit the wall because I have no time "banked".
2. Get in front of the 3:50 pace group and do my own thing.  Know that I'll probably hit the wall late in the race, but figure I would have hit the wall in the 3:50 group, too, and at least I'll have some time banked.  

Anyone have any sage advice on pacing or running with a pace group?  Trying to run even splits in a marathon vs just going for it?  I'm leaning toward (trying to convince myself of) one of the options, but I'm interested in hearing your advice/experiences first.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Week in Review - The Lazy Edition

I don't like to think of myself as a lazy person, but every time I give myself the opportunity to be, I prove that I am.  This was pretty much me yesterday afternoon, if you replace the remote with a copy of The Long Ships and the Bud Light with my giant blue water bottle.  I did watch the entire TN-FL game, but we don't use the remote since we do internet TV.

We did our grocery shopping Friday evening to avoid the Badger Game craziness, and, after my long run yesterday I planted myself on the couch and only got up to do two loads of laundry, practice piano, and talk to my parents (darn you, crappy cell phone reception in our apartment).  I rationalized that since I was taking today off working out, I'd feel more like moving around and could save the house cleaning for this afternoon.

 I laid out my yoga clothes so I could get in 45 minutes of yoga before church this morning and then... I slept in until 6:40.   Oops.  I guess that gets added to the procrastination list for this afternoon, also.  It's not going to be fun to have to get up at normal time tomorrow.

But I guess these next two weeks are the weeks to embrace the laziness so I'm recharged for the race on 10-3.  My plan is to take today off, still do strength training Monday and Friday, reduce the mileage during my mid-week runs by 1 mile each (so 7mi instead of 8mi) but still do a speed and tempo run, and do a way reduced long run on Saturday (only 12).  As much my natural inclinations are toward being at rest, I know it's going to feel weird to back down that much.

Here's the recap of last week:

M- Strength training, yoga
T- 8mi with 3 x 2000m at 10k pace (actually done at 8:00 min/mile- that first one is always so slow!, 7:30, and 7:40 min/mile), yoga
W- 8mi easy
R- 8mi with 2x15 min tempo (8:35, and 8:23 min/mile), yoga
F- Strength training, yoga
S- 16mi in 2:31 (9:26 min/mile).  This was my best Arb loop run ever.  I did the two miles with the hills in 9:35 and 9:26, which is about 30 sec/mile faster than I had in the past.  My overall pace would have been faster if I hadn't done the first mile in 10 minutes because it was dark and I had to slow way down to dodge debris that had been knocked out of the trees during the hail storm we had from 3:45- 6am.
S- Just the 45 min yoga DVD, some house cleaning (but no laundry, yay!), and possibly a walk.

The race seems so close and yet so far away.  Look forward to a number of "Ahhhh!  what do you think I should do about X???" posts pertaining to the race coming up.

(Sadly this is the only picture I found when I Googled "Sleeping while doing yoga" that actually seemed to match that description.)


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Getting in on the freebie action

It seems like one of the biggest perks to being a "famous" blogger is that companies send you free stuff to try out all the time.  No one came knocking on my door, but I filled out an online application and am now a wear tester for Brooks.  I've actually been running in the shoes for about two weeks, but I wasn't sure if I was supposed to tell anyone about it.  Well, now they've sent me a wear tester running shirt and bag, so I guess if I'm allowed to plaster their logo all over my body and wear it around, I can mention it online.

Here's the shirt (which fits!  yay!), bag and shoes.

I think the logo is pretty cute with the little toes on the side of the W.

The shoes the next version of the Glycerins, the same style I always wear.  Here's a somewhat closer-up:
My instructions when I got them were to fill out an online survey before I wore then and then to wear them as much as possible.  No problem there.  I don't know yet if I'll have to send them back at the end of the testing period so they can pulverize them and spin them in the centrifuge or whatever they do to test how well the materials held up.

I'll refrain from making any comments about them right now other than to say "thanks" to Brooks for the loan of the shoes and that the wear testing program is open to anyone.  Just fill out the online application and see if you get picked.      

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sleepers Awake

Anyone else having a tough time getting up in the mornings now that the sun is rising so much later?  Despite a reasonable bedtime Sunday night, I think yesterday was the hardest it's been to get up in a long time.  I had a later night last night, but the best alarm clock of all- my bladder- motivated me to get up this morning.

Cutest little torture device ever.  At least my wake-up time isn't as early as the person who owns this little guy.

So now begins the first week of taper time.  Actually this week doesn't look any different than a normal week of training.  My weekly runs stay the same: 8mi T-R with speed work today and tempo running on Thursday.  My long run gets cut back to 16 miles which actually seems pretty easy after the 3 20's.  Next week starts the real "taper torture" cutbacks.  I'll still do speed and tempo runs, but the overall mileage will start to come down.

Matt at Kitchen of a Runner recently posted an article that's relevant to all of us who are tapering or about to taper for fall races.  It's nothing really "new" but a timely reminder that more running doesn't equal better performances if it means being overtrained or injured.  I know it will be especially tempting for me during the last week when I'm getting that itchy/antsy feeling (energy?  what's that?) to not tack on a few extra miles during the week.

One question I do have about tapering though is, when do you stop doing strength training before the marathon?  My workouts aren't particularly taxing, but I definitely don't want to strain something or drop a weight on my foot, etc.  Any advice from experienced racers/marathoners/people who like to give advice without having a clue what they are talking about (me!)?  

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Week in Review - The IMoo Edition

The second weekend in September = Ironman Wisconsin.   Good luck to Pen and all the other athletes who are biking all over Southern Wisconsin right now.

I went out to run this morning and there were tons of signs all over the bike path near our apartment where a large part of the run will be done.  Even though I was only doing a turtle-paced 6mi, and none of those signs were for me, it was still inspiring.  I wish I'd had my camera!  Some of my favorites were:
  • Dad, you're a PowerMan
  • MnM's at the finish line
  • Swim like a fish, bike like a wolf, run like a cheetah (A wolf bicycling would certainly be impressive!)
  • We'll go out for drinks after
I was not keen on going out to run this morning because I was pretty tired from my run yesterday, but when I thought about how tired the IMers were going to be when they got to that same section of the run, I felt pretty wimpy.  Plus, I plan to go down later and watch part of the run, and how can you go watch people do an Ironman if you haven't worked out yourself?  

As for my week:

M- Strength training and yoga

T- 8mi with 2x4x800 at 10k pace.  This felt much easier than the last time I did this workout because it was a lot cooler.  Even though it was really windy, I was able to keep around 10k pace for all but the first interval (which is always slow).  Average time per 800: 3:51.  Yoga in the afternoon.

W- 8mi easy and yoga

R- 8mi with 2x15 min tempo.  First 15 at 8:46 min/mile pace (kind of slow but this is the hillier part of the run).  Second 15 at 8:04 min/mile.  I was really surprised at my pace for the second section because I actually thought I was going slower than the first.  Oh well, I'll take it!.  Yoga in the afternoon.

F- Strength

S- 20mi.

The last 20 of this training cycle and the fastest by 2 minutes.  YAY!  It rained for a lot of the run, and it was kind of boring because I ended up doing 3 loops around campus.  The forecast called for possible thunderstorms during the time I was running, and I was confident that I could get under cover on campus if it started booming.  

I didn't get really soaked until the second loop.  If the City of Madison is interested, I'd be happy to consult with them about a huge drainage problem on the newly re-constructed part of University Bay.

I also did my bad deed for the day by refusing to stop and give a driver directions when I was 18.76 mile through and was wet and cold and just really really wanted to be done.  
U- 6mi very very slowly.  I'm almost regretting having run this morning because I'm really tired right now.  Like I want to go back to sleep.  Actually I want to eat a second English muffin and then go back to sleep, but that's getting ridiculous.   At least I got all the laundry done on Thursday so I don't have to haul anything heavy up and down stairs today.     

I guess this week officially begins my race taper.  My schedule doesn't change that much this week, but the long run will be shorter.

Have a great Sunday, all.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

It's Levitation, Holmes

That's my smoothie from yesterday.  A little too much xanthan gum = fruit flavored silly putt for breakfast.

On a completely different topic, Linda over at Mom Running from Cancer gave me a Cherry on Top Award last Sunday.

1) Answer this question: if you had the chance to go back and change one thing in your life, would you and what would it be?

Gosh... that's sort of a downer question for such a cute award.  There are some things where I wonder, "What if I'd...?", but there's nothing I'd say I'd for sure wish I could change.  How do I know my life would have been better that way?

But I won't totally punt on this question (saving that for the next one!), and I'll say I wish I'd taken running more seriously earlier.  I've been running for about 8 years now, but only training hard (and smart-ish) for the past few.  I don't think I ran more than 3 miles the whole first year I was running, and I certainly didn't do any speed work.  So maybe I wish I'd been more focused and worked harder during those early years...  

2) Pick 6 people and give them this award. You then have to inform the persons that they have got this award.

If you want to do this and haven't yet, consider yourself awarded by me.

3) The third and the final thing is, thank the person who gave you the award.

Thank you, Linda!!!

BTW- This is an especially good day to check out Mom Running from Cancer if you haven't yet because she is having a giveaway for her 100th post.  

Monday, September 6, 2010

Week in Review - The Let's All Say "Yay" for Cooler Weather Edition


I definitely hit a low point in the middle of the week, but my runs Thursday and Saturday totally made up for it.

M- Strength and yoga.  Starting to feel a little "off" but pushed through my workout.
T- 8mi with 1mi-2mi-1mi at 10k pace.  Didn't hit 10k pace because it was super hot and humid but I put it all out there even though I wasn't feeling awesome.  Not sure if I should be proud of that because I spent the rest of the day feeling like

And then doing this

for 11 hours.

Don't you wish napping was still that easy?

W- I took off.  It was really really weird to take a shower without being sweaty.  Do you ever feel like you have to earn a shower?  I do.
R- Really awesome run where my body just naturally hit marathon goal pace for a bunch of miles.  Yoga to relax after the not-so-greatest day at work.
F- Strength.
S- 16 mi in 2:27.  This is the run I've been waiting for all summer long.  9:12 min/mile average pace.  Fiiiiiinally a run that reassures me that doing 26.2 at 8:45 min/mile is not crazy out of the question.  The weather for this run was fabulous.  As long as I can get an order of 50 degrees on Oct 3, I think I'm in business.
U- 6.5 easy and yoga.

This is my last "big" week of running.  I have my last 20 miler this Saturday, and- knock on wood- am feeling great.   I just have to get through the next 26.5 days without doing anything stupid.

Friday, September 3, 2010

In praise of a well timed rest day

And the medicinal properties of the McFlurry

I don't usually dedicate a whole post to a run unless it's a long run or a race, but yesterday's run deserves to be documented.  I actually started out a little unenthusiastic about running.  I was having one of those days after a rest day where my body says, "Maybe I actually like to just sit around... ever think of that?"  But I know that's not true, and I would have started to get stir crazy if I didn't work out for a second day.  So I laced up my new shoes (I'm breaking in a new pair for the race, woot!) and took off.

It wasn't as hot as Tuesday, but it was still fairly warm and humid.  I felt really peppy, but I was nervous about looking at my watch because there have been many times this summer when I've felt like I was going fast only to be very disappointed with my pace.  It wasn't light enough to see the first mile split but it ended up being 9:30, which is a decent first mile pace for me.  After that I just sort of went.  I wasn't going easy, but I wasn't try to run like a tempo pace either.  I was feeling good and tried to roll with it.

The second mile was at 9:07.  Pretty good.  Mile 3: 8:45.  A mile at marathon tempo pace "just because"?  I'll take it!  I hit the next 4 miles in the 8:40-8:50 range as well, which was awesome because truthfully I've been a lot more likely to see 9:40s this summer than 8:40s.  And normally when I'm running with that same effort I usually see 9:20s rather than 8:40s.

Obviously I was super glad to see that I can run at marathon goal pace (which will be helpful Oct 3), and that my speedier pace wasn't just due to cooler weather.  Now I just have to be able to do that for 21.2 more miles.  No problem :)

Have a great Friday and long weekend, everyone.  

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Just say No

To working out today.  Oh man, yesterday I was tired.

It started with yesterday's run.  It was really hot and humid (for me), and I was scheduled to do 1mi-2mi-1mi at slightly slower than 10k pace.  I felt tired when I started running, but many times I perk up once I get into the meat of the actual workout.  That was true yesterday, too, and I really pushed myself.  Times weren't great but they weren't terrible either.  I usually do 8mi during my weekday runs, but I went straight back to the apartment after finishing the last fast mile.  That gave me 7.5mi, which I would normally get up to 8 by doing some laps through the complex.  But not yesterday.  At 7.5 I was DONE.  I was not interested in doing the last .5.

So I went to work and felt kind of crappy.  I guzzled water, trying to get rehydrated.  I was busy in the morning so I didn't think about it too much and figured I'd feel better after lunch.  Lunch came and went and I didn't feel great but I didn't feel terrible either.  I finished what I was working on for a meeting today and tried to focus on another project.  And it was just not going to happen.  I felt crappy.  I couldn't concentrate.  I was tired.  I knew nothing was going to get done.  So I took 2 more furlough hours (we have to take 8 in a week so I would have had to take them sometime before Friday) and went home.  That says a lot because I pride myself in not taking sick time.  I've only taken one sick day in the 2 years I've worked at my job.     

I laid down on the couch at 3pm and didn't get up until it was time to make dinner at 6pm.  We ate and walked and then I came back and got ready for bed.  Last night I slept from about 8:30pm to 5:30am, and in the spirit of actually getting all my energy back, I'm taking today off working out.  I don't think it was all fatigue- I think my electrolytes might have been wonky from drinking so much water and not really having any salt during the day- but it was definitely a component.

Well, that's my tale of woe.  I'm feeling much better, if still a little lethargic, this morning, and I'm ready to go back to work.  Hopefully that's the only time that will happen before the marathon!