Monday, January 26, 2015

The Hills are Alive (with Runners) At The Derry 16 Miler.

My biggest observation while running yesterday, was that the hills of Derry have certainly not become any flatter over the past 2 years.Someone should really look into that...

This particular race, The Boston Prep 16 miler, is a course that I have raced upon twice at this point. I was feeling hopeful that since I was targeting it as a training run that perhaps it would feel nice and easy. It did not.

For a January day I could not have asked for better weather! Despite the 5 or so inches of snow that Derry had received the previous day the roads were fairly decent. But the big story? IT WAS 30 degrees. A veritable heat wave. While it didn't impact my feelings of appreciation towards the overall solid weather, it merits mention that the conditions were variable. Sunny and warm. Windy and snowing. Just plain windy. Cold-ish. And back to warm. Needless to say, I never got used to one particular weather condition!

I changed my layering system but decided on this outfit which was PERFECT.
 I had a plan for the race, and the plan was to chill out and not be a jerk.

I wrote myself a helpful pre race note.

When the gun went off I literally stood still and watched everyone run by and then I hopped in and off I went. This added 90 seconds to my finishing time but it also meant that I did not get in the way of anyone aiming for a PR. See, my goal was to NOT be a jerk! #winning

Just waiting.... Waiting for the end of the line.....
The hills of Derry immediately punch you in the face and basically never give up. Once I was thru the first mile, and sea of runners my pace evened out to about 8:45's. Knowing that the course from mile 10-13 is absolutely monstrous I felt this was acceptable, as my goal pace was 9:15's or just over, and needed to include 2 (pre-planned) water break walks and 2 (pre-planned) walks up the monster effing hills.

Until mile 10 things were just fine. Not too fast, not too slow. All was well. There was some dude driving around in his car bumpin' tunes which was awesomeeeeeee.

Then came the hills.... I have mentioned in the past that the hills in Boston are just not as horrible as the hills in Derry. However, I think I learned something valuable this weekend. While the hills are huge the course is also shorter- so the feeling you have after summiting the mountain and reaching the 13.1 mark is, in fact, very similar to how you might feel after getting face punched by Heartbreak Hill. (kinda bad. not that talented.)

To be completely honest, even though I was running according to plan and doing everything well, at the 13.1 mile mark I hated everything and got really bummed out. I felt icky (I had the added challenge of some lady issues: as in, my reproductive organs were vigorously trying to claw their way out of me. very uncomfortable.) I felt like the hills had been awful. I questioned my choices in life. I got really sad that I had only run 13.1 miles at a training pace and had gotten to the "life questioning" point. How dreadful!!! Overall, it was a sad moment full of sadness. It was really windy and my eyes were watering which made me feel like I was crying and even in my state of obnoxious wallowing this seemed extreme. So I had some water and shuffled along. Told myself to get a grip.

I shuffled for a little while, still in the deep throes of self pity and suddenly, the mile 15 sign popped up out of nowhere.
At that point I immediately snapped out of my funk and was totally fine. I realized that my legs still felt good, and that it wasn't even windy anymore and I only had ONE more mile to go!!! I remembered that I AM AWESOME!!!! Overcome with joy (like the weather, ones emotions can change pretty quickly) I bounded along, passing people happily, delighted by the wonderful turn of events. I ran that last damn mile in like, 7:54 hahahaha....

Oh great! A hill to the finish!
Per the norm I was glad to be done. I had to curl up into the fetal position for a while due to the aforementioned female issues but otherwise felt fine.

About one minute from dropping to the ground and curling into a ball of pain.
The plus of a hard training run this early in the season is that I can see where my weakness are. Other than the clear need for both endurance and speed work I was happy that all systems (except the ovaries) felt great. No shouts from the legs or twinges from the knees. Good stuff!!

My final results were 2:26:08 with a pace of 9:08 which is great, and included the water stop walks and two (or 10. maybe 10) additional walk-uphill moments. (and the 90 seconds of procrastinating at the start.)

Overall, despite having *all* the feelings for a few miles this was executed exactly according to plan which is remarkable considering that I felt like I was spiraling down the drain for a few minutes.
It was great to be able to pick it back up, pull my head out of my ass and get it back in gear. That is a moment that I will remember for the next time I feel like a terrible runner!


Thursday, January 22, 2015

I declare THIS to be: Day 1 of Boston Training

Before I start yakking along about my Boston training thoughts, it merits mention that I'm playing a famous person this week! (more on this later... I promise.)

That's ME!!! Holy shit you guys, I'm *famous*!

Here is the whole article.
Anyways.. Back to reality!
Boston is on the minds of most marathoners at this point, myself included. Yes, even me. I keep getting those emails from the BAA reminding me not to be a slack off *sigh*!

As I'm gearing up for the season, looking at my first "race" this Sunday and starting to carve out time for long runs people ask me "when do you officially start Training?" (which makes me weep and gnash my teeth! is my current training plan not enough!!!! why do you people want more!!?? hahaha I'm kidding, that actually never crossed my mind until this second.)

We all know that my marathon training plan last season, from July to October was done in the most creative manner possible and, thankfully, with reasonably good results. What I took away from that training cycle was this.  While I can have marathon success with a very minimalistic schedule, and come away uninjured and happy with the outcome I'd like a slightly more structured plan leading up to Boston.

-Well, because I have a modicum more time.
-Because Boston is a very sneaky, tricky, rotten little course (we are fighting.)
-Because when my schedule allows, I actually enjoy a training regimen.

Although the winter season can be challenging with storms of snow, shit and chaos I still find it easier to fit in a decent number of workout hours than in the summer. When I'm literally working my ass off every minute of the day chasing around lazy brown ponies (good exercise.)

The itty bitty snowbank from our latest teeny shit storm. Yeah, I like to jump off stuff.
The thing is, all running that I do is training me for Boston. (or the winter season. or for whatever next Spring might bring!)
While I'm not trying to be a vague pain in the ass I have trouble defining when Boston training will start, or did start.
It's similar to asking me when I am going to start prepping horses for the 2015 competition season, Basically, everything I do gets them ready for this season and beyond. At the same time, I vary the levels of intensity in my training seasonally because horses can not peak all the time. I'm not riding "show prep" right now because with months to go, we are building not peaking.

I find that I feel the same way- I spend a good amount of time building and prepping the legs but am careful not to go hard every week, or race too much, or do the same thing daily causing burnout, fury and angst. I'm also not a fan of the 18 week training plan (because, seriously? that's a crap ton of weeks.)

I sound like a politician here don't I, evading the whole blog topic!!

So to answer the question I have spent this week getting organized, planning what weekends are going to have long runs, when I want to have peak mileage weeks, and when I want to be lazy.
So NOW! It starts now. We can just make this the official date for the sake of having fun. It's roughly 12 weeks until race day which gives me a boat load of time, a few weeks to get it together, a week or two to goof off and ample time to decide that I have too much/not enough time to get ready. Boom. Done sucka's.

My honest feeling is that as long as I have been running like a normal person, targeting some long run and some speedwork that I'll be just fine.

(that zen like attitude will not stop me from moaning and whining a little bit during my high intensity weeks but whatever, overall "you are fine, chill out" is my motto, per the norm!)


Monday, January 19, 2015

It's the first race week of 2015!!

It's RACE WEEK!!!!
So the weather has gone to hell in a handbasket!

Yeah, Big old Ice Storm. GROSS. 
Ok, time to slow my roll. Despite the fact that I awoke this morning with a quality case of race week delight I need to chill the heck out and remember that I am not actually racing this Sunday.

It's time to mosey on over to Derry again for a race that I actually have a bone to pick with- the dreaded Boston Prep 16 miler.
Oh yes, I have had two solid races at this event of discontent. However, nothing about either one of those experiences was what I would call enjoyable.
In short, it is a brutal course. After each of my times trekking the shockingly mountainous Derry countryside I have questioned most, if not all of my life choices. At least the ones that require running shoes.
"MODERATELY" Challenging my ass. See that mountain? IT IS HARD!

So what, you might ask, am I doing heading back to a race that is not on my list of favorites?
Good question. I'll let you know when I figure it out.

I kid. There is a method to my madness, all in the name of doing my pre Boston long runs with a gang of friends, aid stations and scenery that I have not seen before. Or in this case- in two years. I think that after so many solitary training adventures over the past year that I will really enjoy being in a crowd for higher mileage days.

Let's be honest. Am I going to have a hard time containing myself and not racing the damn thing?
I'm quite determined not to hit race pace for a single mile of this race. That is not part of my ultimate plan of Boston success and since success is my end game I feel fairly confident that I will not run off like an asshat and live to regret it. UGH. Such dedication....
Ok... I'm going to take that back. If, for some absurd reason I have a ton of energy at mile 15 I'll sprint like an idiot to the finish. (unlikely. but there certainly will be *zero* steps of the Idiot Sprint before that point!)

The bottom line is that Derry is going to have to wait another year, or possibly forever- for me to take a crack at actually racing the course and feeling good about the outcome. (as in: not barfing post race. seriously guys, it's a bitch out there!)
For this year I have a feeling we might actually be friends since I plan to hobbyjog along in the back of the pack, happily getting in a long run earlier in this "training cycle" than I might have otherwise.

For old times sake, Derry 2013. This smile is FAKE. 
Let's all cross our fingers for some decent weather. I'm recovering nicely from The Sick but think an arctic day would be ghastly, for many obvious reasons the least of which being that I would cough up a lung.

Even though this will not be a competitive race day for me I'm still excited to hit the road for the 2015 season! I have some good plans and I'm ready to get started.


Friday, January 16, 2015

Winter Workouts that will keep you from getting ragey.

Last winter, as we all remember too vividly, was a complete polar vortex of absurdity.
From what I remember, from about Thanksgiving on there were barely any days where it was safe to head out and run on the roads. Between the snow, the ice, the sharknados and the sub zero temps it was a serious disaster.

Such danger.

I'm seriously pleased that I was able to spend most of December (except for a few runs) out of my basement and free in the world enjoying the sights (trees. squirrel! trees.)

I know some people don't have much trouble running in very cold weather. I, however, am not one of those brave and crazy individuals. I literally freeze my butt off running in the teens and when it gets into the single digits, FORGET IT. Nope. not happening, Zero fun. Zero.
So yeah, that's when I jump onto my pissy old treadmill and get my damn workout on. UGH!!

Since I am a *world famous blogger* and OMG a FOUR time Boston Qualifying CHAMPION people are always asking me about how I stay so awesome during the winter.
.....And by people always asking me I mean my friends. Occasionally. But who's counting......

So, to satisfy the curiosity of my legions of fans (*ahem* *or my mom*) Here are a couple things I do that keep my ADD at bay.

For longer runs (anything that requires me to be on the beast for 90 plus torturous minutes) the only solace is to bring down the ipad, pop in my earbuds and enjoy hour upon hour of the highest quality educational television known to man.
.......Dance Moms........
Whatever. You all watch Real Housewives so don't judge!

Strategic angles to make me look tall. Totally working.

There is a plus to the treadmill, and that is the benefit of being able to select a pace and not to alter it for a specified period of time. While I much prefer to do repeats on the track (or the road) it is good practice in pacing to thrash out treadmill repeats. B-A-R-F. I mean YAY!

A couple workouts that are enjoyable.
For people who hate fun.
Just kidding!!! I like these! Make the best of it bitches, it's winter.

Fartleks, because the word "Fartlek" makes me say "hee hee hee!" (For those you who don't know, fartlek means speed play- not excessive gaseous fumes.) Clearly you could mess around with this to meet your fitness or mileage needs but typically I like to do this:
-2 miles warmup
-Between 10-20 One minute fartleks, with one minute active rest in between (I run slowly- you could walk, or whatever makes you happy) I like to shoot for around 5K pace which feels brutal in the very best of ways... This is fun because it breaks up the monotony, trains the old legs to move nice and quick, makes you feel like a track star and speed work is good for the soul. Or the cardio, whatevs.

Or, if you want something a little different:
I am a big. BIG. Big. Fan of the progressive treadmill run and there are so many ways to do this to keep you from getting bored, falling off purposefully and breaking all your legs.

I do one of two things all of which involve some sort of outside entertainment.
1: Progressive song run. Duh, so easy. Crank up some sweet tunes and every time the next song comes on you increase your speed a predetermined amount. Rock on with your bad self.
2: Commercial progression of excellence. (fails if you have Netflix) Self explanatory, but a slower progression as a general rule. Sometimes I do "commercial hill repeats" where, during ads I crank up the incline- all the while desperately wishing for my crap TV show to come back on.

Let's be honest. I'm looking forward to getting back on the road! In the meantime though, I'm lucky to have an at home workout option and I hope that some speed work over the winter will pay off in April when it counts!

Furthermore, when else will I have a legitimate excuse to watch such horrible television??


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The *best* way to start the New Year....

There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING that gets the New Year off to a good start like a pustulating case of pink eye paired with a wracking, hacking cough.

Yep, The winter plague hit and hit hard! So very, very gross.

I suppose, once you peel away the layers of germs, one can try to make the best of a rather nasty situation.

Case in point:
-The weather has been chilly. Might as well be sick!

As it turned out my weather app was *totally* exaggerating. It was a balmy -15.

-It's really too early for me to "seriously" Boston train. I'm not an 18 week plan girl. I'm like a 4 week plan girl. Which is not exactly ideal and one of my sick day goals is to figure out a proper training strategy, one which involves more running and less slamming down bottles of cough syrup (gross.)

I love how much inspiration I add to my Believe Journal... #sobrave

 -As an equestrian I don't technically get sick days unless I have a fever of 103.9 or similar so I have continued to enjoy the delight of winter time stall mucking, dressage horse wrangling (sassy beasts) and teaching of the future generation. It's all been good, actually. Takes my mind off the residual gunk in my lungs.

Who can think about their Typhoid when you teach cute littles like this??
While I have not had a particularly inspired start to the year in running it is really no big deal. It's better to get all this absurdity out of the way while the temps are treacherous! I have managed to get a few miles in (on my treddy, more on some of my better treadmill workouts later!) And I scampered back to yoga today to contort my rigid body into unimaginable positions of self improvement. I love yoga. (I really do, that is not a lie.)

I plan to be fully recovered soon (as in tomorrow) and back to my normal shenanigans!


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year, and some 2015 Goals!

Happy New Year everyone!
Now that we are moving into 2015 I'm going to move away from reflecting upon last year and get ready to jump into the New Year with both feet.
I have a few goals for 2015 and plans pertaining to their success.

Goal number one: Learn to better pace, hydrate and eat thru a long distance race so that, at mile 19, I am not flipping like a flounder on the ground, half dead and pissed off.

Last year I decided that it was in my best interest both physically and financially to race less, and to try hard to make every race count as a competitive goal- not a practice session.
These were good and honorable intentions and while I feel that I made the best use of these guidelines I decided at year's end that I did miss something that is still important at my stage of running.

Not literal mileage, but the kind that you can only get on race day.

One thing that I find interesting is how my two sports manage to relate to each other in many ways- even though one requires the cooperation of a 1,000 pound beast and one does not.
The need for mileage parallels the horse world in such an accurate way that I gave it some thought over stall mucking time one recent morning. (I do my best thinking over stalls)

I have been competing in the horse world for so long that I am able to adapt my show day plan to flex under a huge variety of variables (they are endless) Weather, footing, conditions, strange situations, things out of my control, ornery horse, horse who doesn't remember how to act, show running late/early, judge has the wrong test sheet, me being sick, or injured, judge totally misses a movement and wants you to show it again, a tent gets loose and rolls down the hill at you. Ya know, The usual. While I am no Olympic competitor I literally have ice running thru my veins and shit simply doesn't mess with my day. I might grouch around a bit if it is pouring dumping rain yeah, but I can get past it after a good moan. Years of practice made me this way, I have put in a ton of work to become a confident competitor and it took a lot of time, mistakes, learning, and MILEAGE to get here!

I feel rather differently about running.
My goal last Spring was to "bulletproof" myself so that not hills, or speed, or a water stop could slay me. I ran hard, yoga-d myself into relative flexibility, worked out my squashy bits and did any number of squats which I don't enjoy. I thought I had it in the bag.
But was I in any way experienced enough to re-work my plan for weather? For taking off too quick and being able to make a snap decision to modify my pace? Was I self aware enough to monitor my hydration levels? Nope. And that, in the end has everything to do with my amateur status in the running world. I simply do not have enough competition miles in the saddle (oops, on the road) to be able to adapt to what is happening on that day in that moment.

With the horses, my students and with myself on my training runs I try to simulate the day of competition. From the beginning of the day, to the practice itself I try to recreate things that might happen on race/show day. How does your show/running kit feel? Was your warmup effective? What happens if we have an audience? (this pertains a bit more to horses possibly...) Can I eat and not barf? (while this only affects my running I know a few people who have needed to work on this on horse show day..)

At the end of the day, the bottom line is that no matter how hard you try the only way to get competition mileage is to get out to the damn show/race and take a crack at it. Something about having an actual judge, or actual running participants really changes the dynamic.

So (if anyone is still here after all this musing.)
My plan leading up to Boston is to run a series of races in order to get some real race day practice but with NO intention to "race" these events.
This will be very hard for me- I tend to get a bit overexcited at the start and my competitive nature doesn't like to hear about how we are doing a progression run, or a few miles at tempo on a race course.

Well, I'm certainly never guilty of THIS!

I'm looking at these races as being the "schooling shows" of the foot race world. A place to try things out, gain experience, learn and improve for when I get to my "A" race of the season.

I have the Horrible Horrible 16 miler of Hate, in Derry at the end of January lined up as practice race number one. There should be absolutely no problem taking it rather easy, as I am most certainly not tapping out high mileage right now. (unlike, apparently, the rest of the population I won't start fussing over Boston training for a few more months weeks.

Well. If my boyfriend says so....
In closing, and in theme with "mileage" I ran 1400 miles (So basically I ran from my house to Orlando, Florida.) While this looks like a crap ton it's 500 fewer miles than last year, apparently I have become rather lazy (so, so very lazy.) I got this shit for brains idea to chase 2015 miles in 2015 but I can factually say that in no way, shape or form will than happen.
So, perhaps 1500 miles for 2015 is a better plan!