Monday, February 27, 2012

2012: Week 8

Monday: Due to the LRRC meeting Tuesday night we moved our track workout to Monday. We did a variation of the ladder workout with six intervals between 600 and 1200. These sessions are hard but I feel great afterwards. ~5+ miles.
Tuesday: Ran 3 easy.
Wednesday: Wild Wednesday trail run. Ran the 5k course with a friend and then continued on for our old Wednesday loop. Felt good pushing up the pace for a few miles in the middle with a few guys who are a lot faster than I am, got in a total of 10 miles. Finished on the Power Line hill.
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Went out to try out my new watch and make sure that it was set up properly for the race Saturday morning. Started my run just as a thunderstorm came in. Ran 1.5 miles and was drenched by the time I got back to my car.
Saturday: Ran a 2 mile warm-up, a couple striders and then my 5k. Relatively happy with my 5k experience, race report to follow.
Sunday: Ran the Terrapin half course with a great group of people in the afternoon. The first half was very casual, picture taking, fueling breaks to view the scenery. Second half I pushed myself and felt awesome. Finished the course over 35 minutes faster than I did last March on race day.

Miles ~ 38

Didn't do a lot of cross training this week. Need to get back to the Y this week. Also suffering from some Extensor Tendonitis and Shin Splints in my left leg. Using a routine of ice, ibuprofen and KT tape to help quell the pain. Taking a few rest days possibly this week if need be to help as well.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

2012: Week 7

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Track Tuesday, 6x 800's, hit the goal time each 800. Ran again with two friends for a cool down, social run. 9.5 miles.
Wednesday: Pilates at the Y. Wild Wednesday trail run, 9.2 miles.
Thursday: Easy 3 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Beautiful Candler's run in shorts and a t-shirt, 7.4 miles.
Sunday: Beautiful Candler's run in gloves, hat and snow, 11 miles.

Miles: ~ 40

Good week. Didn't get in the whole 15 miles I had planned on Sunday due to snow but had an overall good week, 5 days running and one class at the Y. Stretching and squats at home. Need to keep consistent with strength training.

Coming up...The Liberty Mountain 5k. Getting nervous.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Holiday Lake 50K ++

The Back Story:

I ran Holiday Lake last year.  It was my second ever Ultra Marathon, and my second Ultra that ended in an injury.  (Pretty solid record, I know.)  The September before I ran the Trail Running Rampage 40 miler, and limped away with a knee injury.  It was a tough but beautiful course and I ran harder than I was ready for, but that's another story all together.  Last year at Holiday Lake, I came off of a break in training and only had about 7 weeks to prepare.  That is not enough time.  I ran a good first loop, and then everything fell apart on me.  I was under-trained, I didn't eat well, and when I hit the wall at 22 miles I pretty much gave up.  I finished in 5:47 (I don't know how I managed to do that well), and limped away with a sore Achilles that haunted me for a couple of months, forcing me out of the Terrapin Mountain 50K and the LUS.

The Race Report:

This year I arrived at Holiday Lake better trained, but lacking in confidence.  The course had beat me up pretty good the year before, and I really didn't know if I was any more ready.  On race day I arrived with a plan to run conservatively, and eat a lot.  That was it.  I was in a survival mode of some sort.

The race started and I found myself in the back of the pack, which was fine.  I'm not fast enough to worry about starting out front, and what could it hurt to hike that first bit with the slower runners?  By the time we got to the beach area I had found my pace and was running with people who were neither too fast or too slow for me.  And that is how I ran the first loop, checking off Aid Station after Aid Station, eating as much as I could stand.  According to my watch I made it to the turn around in 2:31.  Faster than last year, but I was feeling good still.

With the start of the second loop, I began to get nervous.  This was where it all fell apart last year.  After a couple of unplanned bathroom breaks early in the second loop I was even more nervous.  But I was still running good.  I made it to Aid Station 5, grabbed some food and water, and stopped for a minute to talk to a friend.  Then I remembered that it was a race and I took off up that hill with a handful of food.

This is where I ran into the wall last year.  I was just running to the next Aid Station at this point.  The power-line trail is where it got real bad for me.  But that was last year.  I ran it strong this year, and that is when I knew I could run this course.  By the time I made it to Aid Station 6 my legs were hurting, but I was feeling good mentally.  Then I saw one of the fastest runners of the day, standing there at the Aid Station wrapped in a blanket, out of the race with cramps.  I talked to him for a minute and took off again, but now the doubt was back, if a runner like Jordan could DNF with 8 miles to go, what was going to happen to me.

This next section was pretty slow for me, maybe the worst of the day.  After the last creek crossing my pace fell apart.  I was hiking up a hill that I should have been running when a couple of runners past me easily.  Something clicked with me then, I knew I only had 6 miles to go, and no matter how bad I was hurting I was going to finish this thing.  I fell in behind them, letting them dictate the pace, and I zoned out.  I ran like this until I started feeling stronger again, and then we passed a spectator on the trail who said that we were 1/2 a mile from the last Aid Station.  I almost passed my pacers then, but decided to hang with them to the Aid Station.

The last Aid Station was like a circus!  There were lots of spectators there waiting for their friends and family to run through, and it seemed like every runner was just hanging out eating.  I tried to get to the food, but the crowd was literally blocking the entire table.  After about 30 frustrating seconds of trying to get nutrition I ran on, empty handed.  I figured it was only four more miles what could go wrong?  I didn't even fill my water bottle.

Downhill how I do love thee.  The next mile coming out of Aid Station 7 is all down hill, glorious downhill.  So I ran that one for free.  Then the course levels out and starts rolling through the woods along the lake.  With 30 + miles on my legs at that points the little hills started to feel like mountains, but I ran on and I could tell my pace was faltering again.  I hiked a couple of spots that I didn't want to, but I made it past the beach to the homestretch trail.  When I saw the 'One Mile To Go' marked on the ground I almost cried, and began my one mile decent back to the finish line.

Even with the help of gravity my finish was far from spectacular, but I finished strong.  My time was 5:24, that is 23 minutes faster than last year.  And other than a couple of low spots I felt really good all day.  I'm still learning how to run Ultras (the training may actually be the easy part), and I figured out a couple of things I can do better next time.

Lessons Learned:

I think that this race has given me some much needed confidence in my ability to run the distance.  I like to run, but I don't like to hurt, but I know now that I can run through a lot of pain and discomfort, I just have to do it.  I'm a lot weaker racer than I am a runner, but I'm working on that.
Nutrition is something I'm still trying to dial in.  This year I over-ate and under-drank.  After skipping that last Aid Station I was starting to suffer from dehydration symptoms with two miles to go.
I have to stop treating Aid Stations like break rooms.  I need to be in and out in under a minute.  I probably wasted 10-15 minutes at Aid Stations this year just hanging around.


Monday, February 13, 2012

2012: Week 6

Monday: Rest Almost a given at this point, it's worse than pulling teeth to get me to run on a Monday...
Tuesday: Track Tuesday, ran 6 miles including some 6 X 800's. Didn't quite pull off the pace I was hoping for but still felt like I did well. Than headed to two classes at the YMCA followed by another 3 miles with a friend. By the time I had gotten home I had been exercising for over four hours and these legs were beat.
Wednesday: Did Pilates in the AM with my sister at the Y, followed by 10 minutes on the stair climber and some all over strength training. Wild Wednesday. The 'boys' were tapering for Holiday Lake so we only ran six. However, we ran single track the whole way which is the first time we've steered clear of at least some fire roads since last Fall. Felt great afterwards.
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Just plain Lazy...Rest...and I did go out to 'watch' the finish at Holiday Lake 50k.
Sunday: After a three day hiatus from any exercise I got in a good long trail run in. I am not proud of my three day rest streak but the legs did feel well going out Sunday and we did a solid 15 trail miles in less than 3 hours, on Candler's Mountain no less. Not sure how much under 3 hours as we kept stopping through the parking lot to pick up or leave other trail runners who ran part of the run with us. I'm beginning to downright love training on that mountain. Quite the opposite of what I was preaching a year ago.

Miles ~ 30

Had planned 35 miles over 5 days of running, ended up with 30 for 3 days of running. I know I'm not getting in enough days of running whatever my mileage. I know that rest days are inherently good but I'm just taking far too many of them. I have a plan to run five days this week...and it's colder this week than last but I am at present committed...of course today is one of the planned rest days after yesterday's tough trail run.  Thinking about running an easy 3 though just to break that No Running Monday streak I seem to have going on.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Call me crazy?

I am garnering a little envy over here as so many of my runner friends and family are training for the Holiday Lake 50k. I know I'm not ready right now to go out and do what I want to do out on the Carter Taylor Trail, that it's best to keep on training and wait for the LUS for next year, or maybe even later?  But I am just itching to do an ultra. I had just had my first taste and was contemplating the entire LUS series last year when I got pregnant. I did better than I'd expected last February at my first ultra, Holiday Lake, and felt better than I anticipated. So now there's this part of me that wants to get back out there and see if Holiday Lake was just a fluke last year or if, as I've been wondering ever since, that longer distances are my true strength. Not speed, like I had initially hoped.

These past few weeks I've been mulling it all over and over again. I won't do Terrapin this year, not the 50k or the half marathon as I already have a race scheduled that weekend, but the past few days I have had this new thought gnaw, gnaw, gnawing away at me. It's gotten it's way in there and try as I might I've not been able to dispel it.

Are you ready? It's crazy...maybe... maybe not. I think I want to run Promiseland. This year, 2012.

If I can amass Todd's support, my body's adherence and my mother-in-law's childcare services I think I just might.


2012: Week 5

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Speedwork!!! Finally! I finally found someone to go do speedwork with. We did a warm-up, four 100 striders to warm up and then 4x 1 mile repeats. The guy I ran with and who planned the workout had chosen a pace I wasn't sure I would hit and I am thrilled to say that all four miles were in that range. And he finished two miles two steps ahead of me and I finished two miles two steps ahead of him so he was a perfect speedwork partner. Cross training class at the Y.
Wednesday: Wild Wednesday Trail run, 10 miles at Candler's Mountain
Thursday: Easy 3 mile run, Zumba with a friend at the Y.
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 12.6 miles on Candler's Mountain
Sunday: 9 miles on Candler's Mountain

Miles: ~40.2 miles

This week was good. Thrilled to have finally added some speedwork to my routine but have struggled to get a  good 'long' run in, would like to maintain a 15+ mile run at least every two weeks and now it's going on three weeks since I've had a run of that distance. Getting in a few classes at the Y but would still like to round out my cross training with more strength and maybe add in a day of biking/cycling. Three good trail days have me even more pumped for several approaching trail races.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Arctic 5k Trail Race Report

Photo Credit: Alicia Roberts
In early December I became aware of a new trail race debuting the end of January on Liberty Mountain. Always on the lookout for trail races, especially in the cold winter months, I added it to my race calendar. I didn't give the race much mind until a few weeks ago when I decided it might be best to preview the course. There was a race map online but I still don't know my way around that mountain as well as I should so I asked my husband Todd to take me out and help me find the course.

Flash forward to Sunday a week ago Todd and I went out intending to preview the course twice. We planned to run it once just to get ourselves acquainted with the course and then a second time to get ourselves a little seasoned on the course.  It was a day following a long run so I wasn't aiming for any kind of tempo run, just running a nice, easy recovery pace. We started out and almost right away became a little confused as to which way the race would begin.  It was clear from the terrain we did cover that the race was going to be hill laden, not something I was particularly excited about as I am still coming back to hill running after a hiatus that lasted the duration of my pregnancy with Brodie.  One of the hills we covered was entirely new to me and it was a what I call a 'heater', a hill that pledges fatigue no matter how fresh the legs.  When we found ourselves back at the Snowflex parking lot my knees were begging to call it quits for the day and my Garmin had us at only 2.5 miles. Crestfallen I walked to the car.

A short conversation with the race director a day later confirmed my suspicions, we had only covered fragments of the course and had, unbeknownst to us, bypassed difficult sections entirely.

For the rest of the week I did the opposite of what I would normally do on a race week. I pushed that trail 5k as far back in my mind as it would go and then I covered it with thoughts of laundry and bills. And there I left it until Friday evening. Friday I made my pre-race checklist and gave myself a pep talk. You're still coming back, I told myself.  So pick a time goal, Alexis. Focus on that and forget about everything and everyone else.

Saturday morning I made it to the mountain with time for a decent warm-up. I ran the last section of the race backwards with a friend's father and that boosted my confidence a little, I at least knew where I would be coming out for the finish. I found the start line and focused hard on not biting my nails. Next thing I knew there was the sound of the starting bell and off we went.

I ran as strong as I thought I should through this first section, but nowhere near as fast as I could. I knew I needed to get ahead of some of the runners who would ultimately be slower than my pace and yet I knew that within the first mile we had the hike up the back of the Monogram which I knew would result in my first walk break. Sure enough I walked it, even parts that I told myself I wasn't going to walk I walked because there were just so many people on the single track trail ahead of me who were walking. I figured I would expend too much energy at this point to get around them so I just waited until the top to pick up my pace.

The next section which included running down to Monogram hill and then back up and then running down Psycho-Pathe I ran powerfully.  I knew that I would be hiking the next section so I tried to cover that ground as quickly as I could. All too quickly though came the hill I knew I had to hike. And hike I did. I didn't stop but I slowed to a snail's pace and was passed by many stronger legs. I focused on my own race and vowed to not let being passed bother me.

I continued on, running when the course was rolling or downhill, hiking the steep climbs. I felt good. In retrospect, too good. Racing in a 5k shouldn't be about feeling good. This is where not knowing the course did hurt my race, I knew the course was tough, but I didn't know how tough because I had only previewed bits and pieces and not in the correct order. I kept some in reserve for the unknown parts, fearing that otherwise I would bonk. On the last hill I hiked my way to the top, not bothered by the several people who passed me, I thought we had further to go and I would catch them elsewhere. However, when I found myself back on single track trail I realized my Garmin was off and we were nearer the finish than I had expected. I quickened the pace but I knew I didn't have the distance left to recover from the long hike uphill.

I finished in 34:00, a minute faster than my goal. I even came in first in the 20-29 age group. And I know that I shouldn't really complain, but I will. I had a lot left in me after the race. I came home and worked out for an hour. I went back out for another six mile run on Liberty Mountain that night. I feel as though I had a lot of unused fuel left in me, that I played it too safe. I followed through with not letting people passing me get to me, and now I wish I had let it bother me. That I'd let myself compete with the group a little more than just compete for an arbitrary finishing time I had chosen for myself.

Fortunately, this was not a goal race but rather a stepping stone race. I know I am not a particularly strong hill runner at this point but I think I may be a stronger runner than I gave myself credit for going into the race. It isn't a matter that I think I could have been faster, I'm just a little discouraged that I may have pulled the reins too far in on those hills.

Next up, the Liberty Mountain 5k, on February 25th. That race last year gave me my first inkling that something was going on in my body.  That something turned out to be a someone who currently resides nestled in my lap as I type.