Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Running Habit

"Let's Run!"
Zoe and I ran four miles today, running to the bridge at Memorial Park and then back home. Here she is before our run, anxiously waiting for me when she'd rather be running. Too bad I always have to take 5 pictures of everything in case 4 of the photos don't turn out! ; ) Eventually, we were off!

Yesterday I ran 7 miles with four 5 minute intervals at 10K pace. If I use the McMillan Running Calculator, 3 out of 4 of my times were under the 10K pace (8:13/mi) which corresponds with a 4 hour marathon. My 5 minute splits: 8:03, 8:03, 8:08, and 8:17.

Many days I run, but don't post. In case you'd like to see my exercise schedule, it's at the foot of my blog. When I was a new runner, I needed lots of encouragement to keep running - it's especially hard when you're just starting out.

There used to be a blog I'd check before I ran, on those days when I needed extra motivation, where the runner blogged about her runs almost daily. Knowing that someone else tackled a few miles made it seem like maybe I could, too.

Now, I usually just get up and run in the same way I brush my teeth. It's a habit. How about you? Do you struggle whenever it's time to put your running shoes on? Or do you just get out there and do it without thinking too much about it?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cool 20 Mile Run!

When I heard that it would be cooler today, instead of running 20 miles last Friday, I ran 20 today. How does 60-67F (15-19C) sound? 20 degrees cooler than Friday! The first half of the run I could hardly believe I hadn't hopped on a plane to a cooler climate. And when I finished, I wasn't nearly as tired as usual.

At first, I was going to drink Cytomax and eat two gels in a way similar to the Denver Rock 'n' Roll Marathon fuel stops, but it sounded like too much trouble. For one thing, the fuel stops aren't evenly spread out. I had to make myself a cheat sheet to remember when to take a drink!

Plus, I like using gels. I get all of them in my mouth, unlike drinks, and they don't leave that sweet taste in my mouth all day, like drinks. So I stopped at a park water fountain for refueling about every 2 1/2 miles and brought gels and chews.

Pre-run: 3 Apple Cinnamon Nutri-grain cereal bars (360 calories) & water, ate until full
During the run (and stuffed into my new shorts pocket):
Mile 2.5- 2 Orange Gu Chomps energy chews (taste good, stuck to teeth, 11 g carbs)
Mile 5- Vanilla Gu (25 g carbs, shooting for at least 30 g carbs an hour) 
Mile 7.5- 2 Gu Chomps energy chews (at marathon, I may use Cytomax race drink instead of chews)
Mile 10- Blueberry Pomegranate Roctane Gu (handed out at Denver marathon, 25 g carbs)
Mile 12.5- 2 Gu Chomps energy chews
Mile 15- Vanilla Gu
Mile 16.5- 2 Gu Chomps energy chews
Post-run: chocolate milk

Weight Lost: 1.5%, better than my last long run. I've heard you don't want to lose over 2%. 

My average pace was 9:36/mile. I only ran 2 marathon pace miles, but more would have been nice. After it warmed up a bit, I had to push myself to run faster by reminding myself that I could stand a little more pain - fatigue, really. I remember running through a tough patch, feeling happy inside even though my legs were not feeling happy.

3 weeks minus one day until the Denver Rock 'n' Roll Marathon! It's taper time!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Add Pockets To Shorts

Adidas Pacer Shorts
My shorts needed pockets so I cut out the pockets off an old pair of shorts (you could buy some polyester fabric instead) and handsewed them into my shorts. I sewed the pockets onto the front inner waistband. In the photo, the pockets are pulled out so you can see them.

Old bcg Brand Shorts
Here's a photo showing how I cut off one large side pocket to be sewed into my other shorts. This pocket will hold my gels. The small "key" pocket will hold my small cell phone.

Yesterday, the Adidas Pacer waistband chafed my back on my 13 mile run so I cut a strip of fabric off the old shorts to sew over the waistband. That's what started me on the pockets. I saw those pockets in the old cut-up shorts and decided to add them to my new shorts.

I wore my shorts on a 6 mile run this morning and the pockets work! The items in my pockets didn't move around and were easy to get to.

The real test will be Monday when I hope to go on a long run. Update: they work!

Friday, September 24, 2010

13 Hot Miles

 Wednesday's Fuel: Honey Stinger Chews
My big problem today was that at mile 10, I had to start taking running breaks because I was tired and hot - 79-84F (26-28C) today. I had planned to run 14 miles, but I cut that to 13 while I was out there. It was a tough run!

There was one other little problem. After a while I had a headache. I noticed that my earplugs were tightly tucked beneath my head visor strap, where I keep them when they aren't in my ears. I pulled them out from my visor and felt better right away. Maybe it was a coincidence or maybe not.

I weighed myself before and after the run and was surprised that I lost a little more than 3% of my weight even though I drank as much as I wanted every 2 miles up to the 10 mile mark and maybe every mile afterwards. I've heard losing more than 2% isn't good.

I ate some Nutrigrain bars and then a Gu gel before I ran. During the run, I ate a Gu gel at miles 4 and 8. I'd like to try eating more gels on the run - one every 4 miles since sometimes I eat one every 5 miles and get pretty tired towards the end of my run.

Cooler weather is expected Monday. Can't wait!

When I am running well I am happy, and when I am happy I run well. - Ian Thompson, British marathoner

And when I am finished with a long, difficult run, I am happy. - Tina : )

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fuel During the Marathon

The Pretty Interior of My Comfy Asics 2150's

I ran 3 miles with my dog and then I ran 6 marathon paced miles on the treadmill. After that, I ran 3 cool-down miles outside, stopping along the way to do some exercises like high knees running and skipping with high knees. I did those on a quiet trail so that I wouldn't have to skip-to-my-Lou passed anyone. ; )

I felt great before those exercises even though I'd already run 11 miles (a quick change of shorts and socks at the 9 mile mark helped), but after only 3 minutes of those exercises, I was toast and ran slowly home. Yesterday I read in the October 2010 issue of Running Times that those kinds of exercises are a good way to cool-down, in addition to easy running.

I drank Cytomax at miles 3, 5, 7 and 9 on this 12 miler.

In the past, I've tried gels and water only during marathons or alternating gels/water with Gatorade and I can't say for sure what's best for me, but I'm going with what's easiest this time.

At the Denver Rock 'n' Roll Marathon I think I'll drink the race drink, Cytomax, and maybe add a GU gel or two which they'll hand out at miles 10 and 20. The main thing I have to remember is to get most of the Cytomax in my mouth. Easier said than done!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Hillwork on the Memorial Park Bridge


From home, I ran two miles to a Memorial Park water fountain and ate a Powerbar gel. The strawberry/banana flavor is very banana-flavored. (I ate one at mile 6, too.) I crossed the street and ran through a couple of pine trees and to the bridge.


I topped the bridge and made my way down the other side and under the bridge, up to the top of a hill beyond the bridge and came back to run back up the bridge.


I went back after the run to take photos.


Beautiful flowers and native grasses make this a pretty place.


Soon I was on the downhill side of the bridge with the breeze cooling me off. I ran to a pine tree where I made a u-turn and did it all again.

Plums
I ran 6 miles of hills except for one sprint after a couple of lost runners who asked me for directions. I mistakenly gave them bad directions and when I realized that, I sprinted back to catch them. I clocked a marathon paced mile there! I wasn't thinking about the heat or my pace - easiest MP mile ever!


These short hills are what I trained on before the Big Sur Marathon. Compared to those hills, these .15 mile hills are just bumps in the road, but it's within running-distance to home and it's nicer than running up parking garage ramps like I used to do. 


Running up and down and beneath the bridge and the nice morning breeze made this 10.3 mile go by quickly. I felt sore afterwards, but it was a good sore.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

18 Mile Run

 Frozen Custard 
 I carried Cytomax with me today, the Denver Rock 'n' Roll Marathon drink, and drank 6 ounces every 1.5 miles. After 7 miles, I felt good enough to speed up and ran 6 miles faster than the rest of my miles. My best: 3 miles at 9:05/mi pace. (I need to run 9:10/mi pace for a 4 hour marathon finish.) My 18 mile average was 10:15/mile and it was 86F/30C degrees when I finished.

I had a painful twinge and wondered if I should stop, but it mysteriously went away. And I was awake 1 1/2 hours in the middle of the night because I couldn't sleep, but no problems today. It's kind of good to have problems before the marathon to see how things work out. 

And I'll end this post with an interesting search phrase that led someone to my blog, "i had a banana split, now how many miles do i have to run." 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Denver Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Vacation

With less than 5 weeks until the Denver Rock 'n' Roll marathon, I've made a few plans for our Denver vacation. We'll fly from Houston to Denver.

Friday is marathon expo day.

I hope I get to meet Happy Trails for dinner Saturday!

Sunday, October 17, is marathon day!

Monday through Wednesday my husband has a conference in Denver. It just so happens that the marathon fell on just the right day - when we'll be there. That's why I get to run this marathon!

We won't have a car until Wednesday after the race, but we're staying near the 16th Street Mall where I'll get plenty of post-marathon walking done - window shopping. And then I hope to have lunch with Run with Jill Tuesday!

Wednesday we're heading to Estes Park for a few days of hiking. We'll stay at Woodlands on Fall River. We'll have wifi, a refrigerator and a laundry on-site. It's near one of the Rocky Mountain National Park entrances, 1-2 miles away maybe.

I've started receiving RMNP tweets. Here's one of the latest tweets: A gorgeous day in the park!!

Added later: I updated this post with some fun plans that I hope work out.

Any recommendations for favorite places to hike or eat?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Personalize Your Training


9/11 - America Remembers
Today I enjoyed running in the mass of runners at Memorial Park, something I miss when I run on the  treadmill. I finished my 7 miles feeling strong, probably because I drank more than water. I drank citrus Cytomax, the Denver Rock 'n' Roll Marathon drink, which tasted good, maybe less sweet than Gatorade. I received my 1.5 lb. can of Cytomax yesterday - only three days after ordering it from All Star Health for $16.54 total - a good deal since the retail price is $22. I drank 7 oz. every 1.5 miles, which worked well for me on this hot, humid day.

Here's some fun news! Over at RunnerDude's blog, I asked Matt Fitzgerald a question, which was chosen, and I won Matt's new book, RUN: The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel. I'll end this post with my question and Matt's answer, which reminds me to be creative in my workouts and to personalize them just for me. Good advice!

My Question: I use the book Run Faster to come up with workouts and I'm glad you've written a new book. I read a short portion of it and you wrote that if you have a problem fading at mile 20 of the marathon, you might want to run back-to-back 20 milers, or a long run with 14-16 miles at marathon goal pace or a 27-30 mile run before your goal marathon. Do these suggestions apply to middle-of-the-packers like me or just the speedier set? Those look like tough training runs!

Matt's Answer: The point I wanted to make in the section you read is not that marathon runners with a bonking problem should try those specific workouts. Rather, the point was that all runners should feel free to get creative and trust their intuitions to come up with possible solutions to the barriers they face. So, if your intuition tells you those example workouts would be too hard for you, they probably are! So, what does your intuition suggest as an appropriate alternative?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Accept the Pain

8 Miles In 80 Minutes Today

Running in high humidity is like giving an elephant a piggy-back ride through the desert. Yesterday's humid run was supposed to be easy, but I sat down often and when I was done, I was so done!

The only good thing about that run was that I chatted with a lady picking plums for jam and pies at Houston's Memorial Park, where I run. She said that there's more fruit at the park - grapes, blackberries and mulberries, too. I'll be on the look-out.

Elephants at the Houston Zoo
 Since I've had enough of the humidity, I ran on the treadmill today: 3 x 10 minutes at marathon pace (8:45/mi, today) was the plan. It was easier than running in the humidity, but it was still hard. Want to slow down the hands of time? Hop on a treadmill and run fast. Suddenly one minute seems like three!

Houston Fit Shirt Inspiration
During a drink break, I thought about the words on my shirt (Accept the Pain) for maybe a little too long. I didn't want to start the 3rd ten minute interval. What was I afraid of?! A little pain? Well, yeah! And of flying off the back of the treadmill, too.

That's when I decided to try to make the next one even longer than 10 minutes - I lasted 13. Nothing extraordinary, but at least it was 3 extra. When I finished running 8 miles, I felt like I could have run even farther - at an easy pace on a treadmill with a fan blowing full blast. This is good!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Hot, Humid 9 Mile Run

  • 77-83F (25-28C) degrees w/ 79-98% humidity
  • # of miles I wanted to run hard/fast: 4 
  • # of miles I ran hard/fast: 2-3
  • # of times I stopped running to walk, sit or stretch: I lost count!
  • # of brown cicada carcasses I noticed on a brown tree trunk after I took my hands off (stretching): Stopped counting at 12!
  • # of times I felt sick to my stomach: 3, after hard miles and hills. Seeing all of those carcasses didn't help, either!
  • # of times I told myself I'd run the entire 1.25 miles home: 1
  • # of times I stopped on the way home after that: 3
  • # of short hills I ran up without stopping: 4 out of 4 attempted!
  • # of miles I ran today: 9!

Monday, September 6, 2010

16 Miles


 Only 6 weeks until the Denver marathon! Today's plan: run 5 easy miles (MP + 1 min), 5-7 hard miles at goal marathon pace (8:47-9:10/mi for a 3:50-4 hour finish) and then finish up with easy miles (any pace).

Before the run, I ate a banana nut Odwalla bar with ice water. Into my Spibelt I put my key, phone, gels (for  miles 4, 8 and 12) and pepper spray. I put another gel and a small cloth in my pocket, to wipe my sweaty face.


The first 10 miles were not too, too hard (I didn't meet my goal pace at mile 1, but I don't worry about warm-up pace), but by the time I got to the 6th hard mile (mile 11), I was only thinking: icing, icing, icing - anything over 5 hard miles was icing on the cake! Then came the hardest mile, the 7th hard mile (mile 12), which took all of the determination I could muster to finish... And a good song on my Ipod shuffle! 

My mile splits for the 7 MP miles: 9:08, 9:00, 8:53, 8:53, 8:47, 8:46, and 8:37. After the MP miles, I was exhausted. Average pace for the 16 miles: 9:37/mile.

Do you hear that? There's some mint cookie crunch ice cream calling my name!

Friday, September 3, 2010

9 Mile Run

Napping Chinchilla at the Zoo
I haven't had an outside run with good mile splits since July, exactly 5 weeks ago - until today!

There were a couple of little problems, like a bug flying straight into my eye (I got it out right away) and my Ipod shuffle wouldn't turn on again even though I thought I'd fixed it.

And my Garmin didn't get the first .7 mile of my run for some crazy reason. User error? Though this might not be the very best time to mention it, there's a great giveaway going on for a Garmin Forerunner 310 XT. (Contest is over.) I've been really happy with mine, most of the time. ; )

I sped up after a few miles with miles 5-7 averaging 9:09, 9:18 and 8:56. It's still warm (80*), but it was cloudy so the hot sun wasn't beating down on me. Average pace: somewhere around 9:40.

While I ran, I listened to my breathing and my shoes hit the dirt and when I was almost home, to the thunder booming loudly in the distance. With the run finished, I drank some chocolate milk and stretched - it was a good start to the holiday weekend. Oh, and I think I have now correctly charged up my Ipod - it's working! Hope you have a good holiday!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Let's Go to the Zoo!

I ran 5.8 miles with Zoe today. I carried cold water in my fuel belt so that we wouldn't have to stop at the luke warm water fountains today. Cold water is the best! Just as I was heading over a bridge, my husband drove underneath it while on his way to work and I waved - made me happy!

While waiting for a light to change, a park maintenance person told me that you really don't need to hit the button at the crosswalk. What?! He said that it's all psychological, that the button is there just to make us happy because we think we're doing something to change the light. I did a very, very short google search on this and it looks like some work and some may not. Hmm, not too helpful! ; ) As for me, I'll be pressing that crosswalk button. I just hope that man doesn't see me press the button - he'll be laughing at me, for sure! ; )

Monday afternoon my husband and I wanted to do something different so off to the Houston Zoo we went. We hadn't been there for years. By the time we got there, it was raining, but after some "let's live a little" encouragement from my husband, I grabbed my umbrella and braved the rain. I like running in the rain, but walking through the zoo seemed a little crazy. Turns out, I dry out fine and even though I was afraid we wouldn't see many animals, we left with 75 pictures! The meerkats and the napping chinchilla were my favorites.

While there, we visited the elephants when the trainer was giving a demonstration. I was surprised at how much time the elephant trainer and then later, the flamingo caretaker chatted with us - really friendly people!
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