Saturday, February 25, 2012

My Long Run Routine

My Last Long Race - a Trail 1/2 Marathon on 2/11/12

Yesterday I ran 18 miles. I tested out my race day routine, making sure that I have a good plan for a long race. I don't know when my next long race will be, I just want to be ready.

I divided the 18 mile run into three parts of 6 miles each and ran easy, a little harder and as fast as I thought I could handle for the last 6 miles. I didn't watch my pace on the Garmin much, though, and ran more by feel. This was partly because of the wind - 18 miles of it! It's kind of funny to be running into the wind when your legs are moving, but your body isn't making much progress down the trail! It felt great when the wind was at my back.

I started the morning with 3/4 cup oats and just topped it with sugar instead of the usual assortment of healthy, yummy toppings - sticking with plain jane today. During my run, I had water every 2 miles, vanilla GU every 4 miles and Gatorade at mile 6. If it were a race, I'd continue with Gatorade in between those gels. It was 57 degrees and windy.

After 4 miles, I took off my overshirt and  I was comfortable in a short sleeved shirt and skirt. I like my North Face Eat My Dust running skirt because it has 3 pockets - I like pockets since I usually carry my key, phone, pepper-spray, a small cloth for my nose (tissues fall apart) and the gels, too.

There's a place on the bottom of my feet that is prone to blisters so besides putting Body-glide on my waist, etc., I also put it on my feet. That, and petroleum jelly underneath my Experia Thorlo socks kept the blisters away.

I felt good the whole way, but I noticed my feet dragging a little later on. However, I was still able to pick up the pace and make it a progression run. My last mile was the fastest at 8:52/mi. pace. Average for 18 miles: 9:27/mile.

After the run, I drank some chocolate milk and stretched. I haven't taken an ice bath in at least a year and haven't noticed any difference so I don't mind skipping that little bit of torture!

The night before, I ate 3 homemade tacos and that day, I didn't eat anything out of the ordinary (didn't increase carbs or water) - not a problem for this long run that lasted about 2 hours and 50 minutes.

How about you? How are your long runs going?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Running Long on New Fuel

Run Fueled by Dates and Honey, Etc.
Today's 16 mile run went well. I ran six miles with my dog, took her back home and ran back out to finish up 10 more miles in the gentle rain. When she isn't with me, people ask about her. I think it's great that even though I live in a large city like Houston, it can have a small-town feel to it, where people chat or say hello as I run by. 

At the 11 mile point, I was confused, thinking that I only had two more miles to go and realized that I had five more miles to go. I felt more tired at the thought of it. Another runner flew by me and that reminded me to keep up the pace. All's well that ends well and I ended up running a progression run where you run faster towards the end than you did at the beginning. Average pace: 9:30/mi.

I came across a homemade sports drink recipe and thought I'd try it just for fun today. I mixed together sugar, honey, lime juice, salt and water. I only made a small amount because I was afraid it would taste bad. I was able to drink it, but Gatorade tastes better to me.  Have you tried any new running food lately?

In addition to the new drink, I used honey on the run. That was good. Plus, I had dates, raisins and a salt tab. I ate quite a variety today. I just read How many carbs do you really need? I had 130 carbs, which is good. Plus, I felt great!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Orphan Hope 1/2 Marathon Race Report

Won a 1st Place AG Award!
I ran in my first 1/2 marathon on trails today! My goals were to have fun running in the woods and not to fall.  No falls today and I had fun! While I was running one of the things that pushed me forward was that there was a slight chance that I might place (you never know!) and I actually did place first in my age group!

I picked up my award plaque early, since I had a long drive home, and met one of the race organizers and the female master's winner and the 4th place runner in my age group, too, so even though I didn't stay for the ceremony, it was a fun finish to my race morning.

But let's back up... Before the race, I ran a 10 minute warm-up (which may have been unnecessary because we started the race slowly) and then I chatted with another half marathoner at the start.

The trail was well-marked so I didn't even come close to getting lost in the woods like I was afraid I might. This was a small race so there were a couple of moments when I couldn't see another runner, though. The alligator warning signs in the park might make some people nervous, but I've run and biked by alligators before and they just ignored me. That's pretty boring, but that's okay!

Will Run for Cupcakes! 
I only came close to falling once. Don't you love it when you almost fall, but don't? The roots weren't too bad and made it a fun challenge. I was most grateful for the roots in the muddy areas because they don't move around like the slippery mud.

The hills weren't that bad either. I was so excited when I made it to the top of one steep hill and got a view of the pretty lake. There were some volunteers/spectators who made it out to some hilly parts and "yelled me up" the hills.  

I thought I'd try for a 10 minute average pace (a 2:11 finish) and keep an eye on my pace, but I hardly looked at my Garmin since I needed to look out for roots. Every time it beeped, though, I knew I was another mile closer to the finish. I wasn't sure where I was on the course and how close I was to the finish (I think the trees might have messed with my Garmin), but I told myself to run like I was close to the finish.

I didn't feel low on energy even though I didn't eat and drink much. I ate a Powerbar gel at mile 2 (too early, oops). I had to stop to yank it out of my pocket. Gloves made it hard. I drank a little Gatorade at miles 3, 6 and maybe 10. Maybe I would have been faster with more fuel or maybe I worry too much about fueling.

Finish Line Beside Raven Lake 
I ran in shorts, a short sleeved shirt and gloves with hand warmers inside (love those). It was only about 40 degrees, but the clothes worked out great. In Maine, I learned that I shouldn't load up with clothes. Even though the warm-up run might not have been necessary, it warmed me up.

I don't have another trail race to compare this one to, but it didn't seem very difficult. There were even some sections that were a wide dirt road. Sometimes you had to run in a narrow section of the road because of the mud, though. About half of the time, I didn't have to worry about running into other runners on the narrow path. Most of the time, all that I saw was the dirt path and trees on either side of me (and other runners). For a short while, I saw the lake and the sunny sky. Some people might find that boring, but I liked running through the woods.

The race was held on trails in Huntsville State Park, about a 1 1/4 hour drive north of Houston so I was able to sleep in my own comfy bed last night, have oatmeal and a banana for breakfast and drive up early this morning for the 8AM start. My husband often comes to races, but couldn't make it this time. Instead, he put dog food in one of my favorite race mugs (kind of bad), nearly locked himself out of the house (really bad) and nearly started the house on fire (wow). It's a long story and I exaggerate a little...

Huntsville State Park
I'm so glad I ran in the Orphan Hope half marathon! I was very nervous during the drive up, but once I picked up my race packet, I felt much better. Did I mention that I hit road construction on the drive up? At 6AM? Another worry, but I arrived early anyway since I left early - another lesson learned from a previous race when I ended up racing to the start!

The race benefited a great cause. Race packet pick-up was easy. The volunteers were encouraging. By the time I made it to the timing board, my time was already up. I saw the cupcakes before the race and they were a big incentive for finishing - got to get back to the cupcakes! The race shirt fits and looks great. I'd like to go back next year to try for a course PR!

Race facts:
Location: Huntsville State Park, Texas
Finish Time: 2:03
1st female in my age group, out of 13 (ages 40-49). I'm 46.
7th female overall
36th runner overall, out of 156 (small race, but we ran with 82  marathoners and 32 relay runners, too)
My 1/2 marathon road race PR: (Oct.'07) 1:50:57
Update: To learn more about races put on by this organization, visit Project: LoveOne.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

My Week of Running

Can't Eat Just One!
Workouts for 1/30 to 2/5:

Monday: 9 mile run with 5 miles (tempo) and 2 miles on the more difficult (than the usual path) bike trails with my dog.

Tuesday: Rest. Monday night my shin hurt. No more problems, though.

Wednesday: 6 mile run. I loosely followed this Runner's World treadmill workout which included 5-7% incline. (A short read on treadmill incline.) I did a 30 minute Pfitzinger core workout.

Thursday: 6 mile run after eating oatmeal with raisins, banana, cinnamon, flax seeds, wheat germ, walnuts and milk. Here's a video where the elites tell what they eat before a marathon. Most popular choices: bread, bananas and oatmeal eaten 3 hours before the race.

Today I went to the dentist for a check-up, but at least I wasn't having a mammogram done...

Why I  Run Reason #101 
Friday: 15 mile run with some rain. Before running, I ate plain oatmeal and a banana, a breakfast of champions. During the run, I had a GU gel and GU Brew drink. It was hot and humid. No cramps this time, though. With a lot of internal pep-talk (I can do this! Faster!), I picked it up to 9:08-9:30 for three miles near the end. Average pace: 10:01/mi.

Chocolate milk tasted great when I finished the run. To make it, I mixed 1 cup milk and 1 tablespoon each of cocoa powder and sugar with my immersion blender.

Then I went in for that mammogram I mentioned. They're so nice there. It wasn't so bad after all. When I got back home, I finished decorating some Valentine's cookies I made earlier and then I made pizza which my husband and I ate while we watched an old black and white movie about a heroic French couple in the midst of war.

Saturday: 30 minutes of exercises (crunches, etc.) and 5 mile run in the rain. Hardly anyone was out on the Memorial Park Loop (because of the lightning earlier, I think), but those of us who braved the rain smiled at each other while hopping around the puddles.

Strawberries are in the stores now and they're so good for you, you can eat as many as you like. Sometimes I eat fruit, yogurt and granola for dessert.

Sunday: Rest

Total Running: 41 Miles