Friday, October 21, 2011

Itching to Race

I am really getting the itch to race. It has been WAY too long since my last formal race for my liking. I had hoped to identify some half marathons that might be close (and cheap) to work into this training cycle, but it has definitely not worked out that way, unfortunately.

Vulcan Run 10K in 2 weeks and the marathon the week after that. Training has been going well and Yassos indicate that I am certainly stronger than the last time around. But who knows. 26.2 miles is a long way.

I am really excited to see what Vulcan bring pace-wise, but it's also the week before Chickamauga so not necessarily the time to go all out either.

In the meantime, 20 miler on deck for this weekend. I am excited not to be injured this time around (achilles tendonitis), but admittedly mildly dreading spending 4 hours alone with my thoughts. I wish I had more running buddies! But Amy and I meeting tonight for 5-6 miles and I am super excited  and grateful for that!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chickamauga Training Recap: Week #14

This felt like a really "off" week for me. I had a hard time getting my motivation going and felt residual leg fatigue from my long run (not quite 18 miles) last Sunday. I think it's probably time for a massage sooner rather than later.

Monday, October 10
Plan: Rest
Actual: Rest

Tuesday, October 11
Plan: 3 miles + boot camp
Actual: Rest

It was rainy and gross all day (including when I left for work) which meant bootcamp was canceled and I was not really feeling an outdoor run. I was starving as I left work so I told myself I would allow myself to go home, eat and digest before hitting up the gym. Except...I never made it to the gym. Not exactly sure what happened, but asi es la vida.

Wednesday, October 12
Plan: 45 minute tempo
Actual: 50 minute tempo

For runs like this, I always hit the 'mill so I can push myself/keep my "prescribed" paces honest. In this case, the tempo section is supposed to be run around 10K pace. Well, I don't have a really recent 10K time, so for my tempos I have been taking my PR 10K pace and subtracting 15 seconds/mile. I would like to think that my 10K time is improving, but who knows? (I'll find out in a couple of weeks)

I run the 1st 10 minutes at a warm up pace and then start cranking an additional .1mph every 60-90 seconds until I reach tempo pace. Hold tempo pace until 15 minutes left in the run. Crank down .1mph until I reach warm up (cool down) pace and stop. I ended up going longer this time because I wanted to reach a "round" number so I extended both the tempo and c/d sections by a couple of minutes each.

This was a really rough and challenging run. My legs never felt like they got in the groove and my breathing was a bit labored at times (but it was mostly just my legs). It was kind of discouraging, but you take the good with the bad and move on.

Thursday, October 13
Plan: 5 miles
Actual: 4.25

I was hoping Amy would be able to join me for our Mountain Brook loop again but she had dinner plans, so I was flying solo. When we ran this loop last week we totally ran out of daylight so I was hoping to hit the trail a few minutes earlier. Well, despite the best of intentions/effort, I ended up at the trail the same time and knew I didn't want to race daylight alone (especially since we got stuck in the pitch black at the end of our last run), so I opted for the out and back route that we used to do almost every Sunday. I needed every singly second of daylight I had to complete this mileage and though I wanted more, I didn't have a safe way to add in anything else.

Friday, October 14
Plan: Rest
Actual: Rest/Travel

I wasn't thrilled about taking yet another rest day this week, but I had a super early morning taking the dogs to the vet and then my aunt Paula was in Birmingham getting her car serviced so she offered to drive me down to Auburn for the football game (and I could ride back to B'ham w/Matt who was already in Auburn and had worked there Friday).

It was a crazy hectic day between being up at the ass crack of dawn, working (heavy on the meetings for a Friday!), meeting my aunt, driving down, going to my cousin Jimmy's HS football game, getting stuff ready the tailgate, etc. Though I drank plenty of water, I barely ate due to all of this and ended up with an expectedly crappy run the next morning.

Saturday, October 15
Plan: 10-12 miles
Actual: 10 miles + 3 mile walk

The Auburn/Florida game was at night so I didn't have to be worried about pounding the pavement at 5am but with other things going on, I also couldn't sleep the day away. I finally peeled myself out of bed at 7:30 and was out the door by 8.

I was planning to run the same 10 mile route I ran last time I was in town, but I must have been (I was) totally zoned out when it came time to turn and just kept going straight. At one point I thought, "I really don't remember these hills" (they were pretty intense at this point) and kept looking for my turn only a few minutes later to realize that I was almost at Kinnucan's and had totally missed the turn long ago.

My pace wasn't really off or anything, but I wasn't properly fueled and felt zapped even as I did power through hills. It was also much warmer than expected and was glad I had opted for a tank (last minute decision) but wished I had opted for my running skirt (also a last minute decision NOT to wear that). I tried to get myself into a rhythm of taking a 1 minute walk break every 2 miles but sometimes I would be on a nice downhill (I didn't want to waste that!), so I would just keep running until I hit an incline. I also had to stop a couple of times to adjust my ponytail since it kept falling out. I had no idea of the running club's route this morning so I was totally on my own for fueling, and I was rationing my water/gatorade mix (22oz) like it was my job.

Also toward the beginning of my run, I encountered another runner coming up a hill (moving from a run to a walk) and she looked exhausted and a little bit anxious. As soon as she got within shouting distance she asked me how close a certain cross street was. It was about half a mile away at that point and I told her so, but poor thing she said "Are you sure? It's not like 5 more miles or anything?" I could tell she was so desperate to just be done and hypothesized that she was visiting a friend in the area and had "gone out for a run" and gotten lost and/or wrongly estimated her distance. I felt so bad and thought maybe I should turn around and run her to her destination or offer her water or *something*. I didn't and still kind of regret it even now.

For the record:
Pre-run fuel: pack of keebler wheat and cheese crackers (I forgot my own food and scrounged around for something that sounded even halfway appealing), water
During the run: 22oz of water/Gatorade mix (arctic freeze) and a couple of Honey Stinger chews (orange) at no particular interval
Wore: UnderArmour capris (again), Auburn tech tank, WigWam Ironman socks, blue Mizuno Wave Nirvana 7s, UnderArmour head band
Accessories: Garmin, Nathan handheld water bottle, Nathan shadowpack (waist belt)

The walking was the parking at Kinnucan's and then trekking to and from the stadium (not even counting the additional walking around campus) At least this time I didn't get a blister!

Sunday, October 16
Plan: Cross (choice)
Actual: Walk (distance??)

I took my aunt's dog for a couple of loops through her neighborhood. I had hoped that Matt and I would take the girls for a walk once back in B'ham but we ended up barely even making it to the vet by pick up time. We were well on the way back to the Ham when Matt realized he'd left his work laptop at this friend's house so we had to turn around and retrace our steps. It cost us at least an hour of driving time and by the time we got home it was almost dark.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Chickamauga Training Recap: Week ???

Seriously? What week is it? I feel so disoriented coming back from work travel, vacation, etc etc. No better way then to jump right back in...right? (This week was developed before I went out of town, so I am going to write it as previously planned; obviously there was quite a bit of variance!)

Monday, September 26
Plan: Rest (travel back to the United States)
Actual: 6.2 plus tons of walking

This was our last day in Argentina with an overnight flight back to the states. I wasn't sure what we would end up doing given that it was the last day of our vacation. However, I had learned of an opportunity to get a solo guided tour of part of Buenos Aires through Urban Running Tours and HAD to take the opportunity. I woke up really sick and wanted to cancel, but as always, was glad to get out there. Read more about my experience here

Tuesday, September 27
Plan: 5
Actual: Rest

In theory, it would be great to "shake my legs out" after a long flight, but in actuality after getting home at 11:00 a.m., I needed to focus on cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping and picking up the dogs out of town. Plus, I was a sneezing and snotty mess. Getting in the 10K+ the day before made this an easy decision.

Wednesday, September 28
Plan: 4-6
Actual: 4.5

Welcome back to reality! Back to work today and everything that goes with it. My stuffy/runny nose, sore throat and headache (new symptom today!) were in full force, but I told myself that I just needed to get back into a routine. I hit up my favorite trail after work and found a new "off shoot" that could help extend distance a tad without getting too far off track. After being out so long, I left work late, thus getting to to the trail late and squeezed every.last.bit of daylight out of this run.

Afterwards, my head (sinuses?) felt so tight and I felt awful. I got home, showered, ate dinner (sitting in bed, I'm sorry to admit) and passed out by 8:30. I am a night owl. I do not do things like this! But seriously, I could not hold my eyes open and my head was pounding.

Thursday, September 29
Plan: 7 x 800
Actual: Rest

I woke up feeling just as bad as when I went to bed. But after being out for so long and a full meeting schedule, I didn't feel right about calling in sick. I wasn't sure if I had a migraine or a sinus infection, so decided to treat with nasal spray and OTC migraine meds! (nice compromise?) At the end of the day, I think it was a migraine, as the headache went away and the sniffles remained. There was obviously no need to push the issue, so I opted for rest and was in bed early again!

Friday, September 30
Plan: Rest
Actual: 7 x 800 (with w/u, c/d and 400 recoveries)

I was able to leave work a tad early (around 4:40) and hit the gym to get in this speed session. Matt and I had plans to go stuff ourselves at the local Greek Festival (annual tradition for us as long as we have been together) and I knew getting to the gym even a little early would help with timing. I was also hoping that with high school football I would have the gym pretty well to myself and really, it was just me and the regulars.

This workout ROCKED and seemed to fly by. Pretty nice to knock out nearly 6 miles after work and feel great afterwards. I have to confess that I had to leave the treadmill after the 1st 800 to apply body glide though! I love my Nike running skirt but I'm not sure if the compression shorts have stretched or I have lost weight (a little of both, I think) but the shorts were NOT staying in place and I knew I was in for some serious chaffeage if I did not remedy the situation. The really horrible thing though, I was too lazy to go downstairs to the bathroom so I ducked into the lesser used stairwell and prayed that no one would come in. Luckily...Success!

Saturday, October 1
Plan: Cross (choice)
Actual: Yoga (60 min)

Hit up the gym for the Saturday morning class. The class was great, but my hips were tighter than I realized. I wasn't having any pain, but some poses that are usually pretty accessible to me were NOT SO MUCH this particular morning. I've pretty much made the decision to attend this class again next week and shift the long run to Sunday so I can get in this (obviously) much needed component into my routine.

Sunday, October 2
Plan: 15
Actual: 15 (maybe a bit more)

I kept meaning to text Amy on Saturday to see if she would be willing to join me for some miles Sunday, but I was being kind of lazy and never got around to it. Anyway, when I woke up I knew I was in no mood to run my neighborhood or anything even remotely similar. After hitting snooze a few times, I finally got up and decided to drive out to the Lakeshore 2 loops of this and finish with the Jemison/Mountain Brook 5 mile loop (actually 5.35 miles) that Amy introduced me to a few weeks ago (the greenway and Jemison trails loosely connect...more about that later)

It was a wonderfully chilly start (53 degrees) and being in s/s and capris, my arms were a bit frozen for the first mile or so. I say "or so" because I made a completely rookie mistake and forgot to charge my Garmin on Saturday. Of course, when I turned it on it beeped "low battery" at me and it was a complete paperweight within 2 minutes of starting my run!

This is part blessing and part "curse" because I only had a rough estimate of total distance and no clue on pace. I know the green way loop is somewhere between 5.25 and 5.5 miles but not sure and the connect points between the trails? No clue. Not to mention, I had no way to gauge intermediate distances (miles) since I was also running sans music and phone (phone was in the car, fuel belt at home so no way to carry it either). Sooo...I decided to run solely based on feel and to take walk/fuel breaks at predetermined land marks. (I had decided to test a new fuel and fueling strategy before the Garmin debacle)

I could tell I was pushing the pace (but feeling great) and when I arrived at my car after loop #1 to see I had finished in 55 minutes, I confirmed my suspicions. After the second loop I made the executive decision to drive (~1 minute) to the next trail head since traffic was starting to pick up (since I got started later than intended) and because I was not in the mood to add the mileage (out and back probably a little more than a mile).

The sun was out full force by now, but it still felt incredible outside and my legs and breathing were holding up really well. My nose was still a bit runny but it didn't affect my overall run. I ran into my former big boss with about 2 miles left and was glad I was still clipping along and feeling strong. By the end, I was actually kind of sad it was over. My body and more importantly, my MIND, had a lot left to give this particular morning and after A. dreading this run and B. not running particularly long in several weeks, it made me feel a lot better about the rest of the training and even potentially race itself. I even felt great all afternoon...was quite productive, never needed a nap and barely sore the next day.

For the record:
Pre-run fuel: One and half "mini" bagels with PB, 8oz of water
During the run: 24oz or so of water/Powerade mix, plus a few sips of straight Powerade before the last segment of the run (fruit punch); About 6 or 7 honey stinger chews (cherry) total (1-2 at various intervals/walk breaks). I REALLY liked these. Good flavor, not too "sticky", easy to chew and most importantly, no stomach issues! We may have a race day winner! The sports beans aren't bad, I'm just really tired of them
Wore: UnderArmour capris, Auburn tech tee, WigWam Ironman socks, blue Mizuno Wave Nirvana 7s
Accessories: paperweight Garmin (no I never took it off) and Nathan handheld

Overall thoughts for the week:
I am really super happy with this week. I was able to bounce back nicely into my routine despite being under the weather pretty much all week and was still able to incorporate yoga AND rest without feeling guilty that I wasn't doing "enough".

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Urban Running Tours: Buenos Aires

You know you're a runner when...

One of your activities on vacation is signing up for a guided running tour.

Seriously :)

This actually came about completely by accident, as I was searching for Buenos Aires running clubs, running spots, etc. Our Argentina trip was "bookended" by stays in Buenos Aires and since our flight back to the states did not leave until 9:30pm on Monday, Sept. 26, I knew we would have quite a bit of time to kill that day.

Enter Urban Running Tours  This company offers personalized, guided running tours (in English or Spanish) at any pace through your choice of Buenos Aires neighborhoods. For $50 (standard tour), you get a 10K guided run of your choice (at whatever time you want), tech shirt (sorry no pic--it's in the laundry), bottled water (carried by your guide), and photos taken at various spots around the route (actually when/wherever you want). Considering that I would normally pay $35-$40 for a 10K around Birmingham, I considered this to be a comparable experience. Plus...a personal guided tour of Buenos Aires too :)

Before we left, I arranged everything easily through email and chose an 8:30 a.m. start. Backing up for just a second though...on the flight back from Patagonia Sunday afternoon, I started sneezing and noticing that my throat was feeling scratchy. I could tell I was coming down with something. Upon arriving in Buenos Aires that night, I started drinking OJ like it was my job, supplementing with cold meds and cough drops. When I woke up Monday morning, I felt like DEATH. Awful congestion, a general sense of lethargy and stupor and just completely drained. However, I really had no way to cancel the run at this point, so I decided to roll with it and take it easy as needed throughout the run. It's MY tour, right?

My guide, Phillipa, a really nice girl originally from South Africa, was waiting for me promptly in the lobby of our hotel at 8:30.  After brief intros, she explained our general route (Recoleta--the neighborhood we were staying in, as well as Palermo Chico and Palermo Lakes, per my previous requests in the email with the company owner.) I warned her that I was congested and not feeling 100% up to par and she was INCREDIBLY accomodating  and never once made me feel uncomfortable (luckily she was also carrying tissues!)

Our route encompassed SO MUCH and since we had stayed in Recoleta the first leg of our trip, I at least had some general bearings about where we were going. We ran through the Recoleta business/shopping district (Avenida Santa Fe), through several residental areas, past and through various plazas and parks, the Recoleta cemetary where Evita (and several other noted Argentinians) are buried, etc. Like any running partner, Phillipa gave me not only a guided tour, but we also talked about our backgrounds, upcoming races, current events, travel, etc.

It was a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky but starting to get warm and I had that awful "I'm getting sick" sweat going on--you know the one that feels especially "thick" and salty? Ugh. I must have looked even worse than I felt because Phillipa did ask if we needed to stop and get me something else to drink. Haha!

I have no idea of pace, we ran I would say 90% of the 10K at a pretty good clip, but there were times when my nose was simply a faucet and I HAD to walk just to get it under control. I kept apologizing telling her "I promise I am a real runner!" to which she reassured me that I was doing much better than she would be and that we could walk at any time! (My Type A is apparent in any country, I guess, but it was frustrating b/c other than my nose and throat I felt pretty great and was wishing for a better run under better circumstances) I only had her take a couple of pics mostly b/c I was feeling like crap and didn't want to keep stopping but I don't regret it b/c I took away so much from the experience and am so glad I got to do it.

In front of the law school at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, the largest university in Latin America (this university is completely free of charge for EVERYONE, including foreigners) 

La Flor, an aluminum sculpture designed and donated by Argentine architect, Eduardo Catalano; when operational the flower opens in the morning and closes at night

All in all, a really great experience that I would recommend to anyone visiting Buenos Aires. (And what a great business model for expanding into other cities! This is the "Business Development" part of me thinking out loud...)

I was not compensated in ANY way for this review...I paid for the tour with my own $$. All opinions are my own, I Just want others to know about my experience.