ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
My running's been sporadic over the last two years, after my herniated disc injury, much lower mileage than it used to be, and alas much slower as well. But after a spring and early summer more devoted to mountain biking than to running, I've started to get serious again.

Though I've run a dozen races post-injury, I didn't really train for any of them, and of course that shows in my race times. In 2013 I set non-downhill 5K (21:43), half (1:35:55), and marathon PRs; post-injury my best 5K was 24:12, my best half just under 1:44, and I haven't dared run another marathon.

But I'm a competitive person. I like to race because I like to do well - and I don't like not doing well. I registered for The Other Half Marathon, one of my favorite races and the course on which I ran my half PR (these things are probably related :-) with the idea that I'd have 12 weeks after our Weminuche backpacking trip to train. I wrote an "unplanny plan" - a skeleton layout of weekly mileage goals, long run goals, and key workouts - and started doing it. And now I'm halfway there!

I'd been running 20-35mpw most weeks, with occasional weeks of 10 miles or less when I was doing other things or sick, so I decided to start out with three weeks at 40mpw, followed by three at 45 - though the second week of this included most of Labor Day weekend and our Rio Chama raft trip, so my actual mileage that week was only 38. I also started incorporating speedwork: first strides and hill sprints, which I'd done occasionally in the previous month but now do weekly, and then formal intervals, followed by tempos.

Now I'm about to ramp up to 50mpw for the rest of the cycle, and I feel pretty good about it. The more I run, the more comfortable I feel running. I also find that consistent mileage (which I haven't had in a few years!) improves my fitness quickly. And I got a reminder of that when I ran a 5K this past Saturday morning.

I was a bit handicapped by the loss of my Garmin. Well, I didn't really lose it; the strap broke when I took it off my wrist after Tuesday's run. I ordered a new strap kit from Amazon that was supposed to arrive on Friday, but somehow it ended up getting sent to the wrong transit center, causing a delay. (It's still not here. The tracking page says Wednesday. So far it's gone from the Garmin warehouse in Phoenix AZ to two different places in California, and is now in Salt Lake City...)

The day after my strap broke I had a 2x2 tempo run (after my usual two-mile warm-up: 2 miles tempo pace, 2 minutes easy, 2 miles tempo pace, where 'tempo' = 'more or less hoped-for half-marathon pace') and I thought maybe I'd try it by feel, so I put what was left of the watch in my pocket and set out. Unfortunately I couldn't feel the watch buzz at the first mile mark, which meant I wouldn't be able to tell when my intervals started and stopped (okay, I know this route so I pretty much know where 2 miles is, but still) so I took it out and held it in my hand as I ran.

My next run two days later was an easy run, so this time I did just keep the Garmin in my pocket the whole time. And what do you know, my pace - retrieved after the run - was pretty much my usual easy pace. By then I had gotten the notification from Amazon that my strap wasn't coming in time for the race. I decided that it would be good practice in racing by feel, since I knew I wasn't in PR shape so if I failed, I wouldn't be too upset. My goals for the 5K would be: a) get a new valid HRmax, b) pace reasonably despite not being able to look at my Garmin (I kept it in my pocket), c) come in 1-3 and get an award (no age groups), d) break 24 minutes.

I ran the 2.4 miles to the race as a warm-up, with my Garmin in my pocket; checking it later, I was a little on the fast side but not bad. The race itself was a typical small Durango race, though with both a 5K and a 10K starting together, so I had to look around and see both who else was lining up near the front, and which course they were running, according to their bibs. One of the fast women I know was out of town, according to her husband Steve who was there (he won the men's 5K) and I didn't see anyone else that looked definitively faster than me, so I was feeling pretty confident as we took off.

I knew I couldn't keep up with Steve, nor with the other fast men who were at the front, so I didn't try. Instead I attempted to keep a hard-but-not-brutal pace and not let any women pass me. The course went gently downhill for the first mile, then there was a short uphill followed by a steeper downhill to the 5K turn-around. Unusually for a small local race, they'd gotten three bands to play along the course, which was fun and motivating, especially since after the guys had taken off I was pretty much running by myself. Every so often I'd glance over my shoulder but never saw anyone there other than one guy who passed me about a half mile in.

When Steve passed me going the other way we yelled cheers and encouragement at each other. At the turnaround I saw there was a woman maybe ten seconds behind me, but after I glanced around at the next curve she was gone, so I figured she was running the 10K. The second half of the course was net uphill, since it was an out-and-back, and I concentrated on holding what I thought was a reasonably fast pace without blowing up.

Since my Garmin was in my pocket I had no idea what pace I was going, and so I was pleased to see the finish clock reading just under 23 minutes as I approached; I sped up to try to get a 22:xx but the seconds ticked over inexorably, and the clock read 23:06 as I hurtled myself past the finish line and then tried to catch my breath.

As far as my pre-race goals, I'll give myself 2.5 out of 4. On the negative side, my heart rate data was not as unambiguous as I would have liked, with no real legitimate max, but I think I am fairly comfortable saying that it supports the numbers I've been using for HR training. My pacing felt okay while I was doing it - I didn't feel like I was dying halfway through - but my splits were terrible, though part of that's likely due to the down-and-up course profile.

On the other hand, I smashed my sub-24 goal. Still nowhere near what I used to do but my best 5K in two years. Oh yeah, and I won. First overall woman, 4th or 5th person. Which basically means that the fast women didn't show up, but hey, I got two $50 gift certificates, one for each of the running stores in town, so that's a $70 profit on my entry fee investment!

Now I'm looking ahead to the half marathon in six weeks. While I'd like to run under 1:40 again, this 5K result is not as good as I'd need for that; plus, while my tempo workouts are indicating I'm in better shape than I was before my last half, they're not supporting the sub-1:40 either. Of course, I still have six weeks. But I'm okay with not hitting that goal, which is arbitrary anyway. I mostly want to improve on my last half time of 1:43:46, and if possible, beat the time of 1:41:44 which I ran my first time on this course.
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
I'm getting nervous about the Imogene Pass Run, which will be a week from Saturday. I have not managed to get either the mileage or the long runs that I did last time I ran it, two years ago, so I am probably not going to PR, or place in my (new) age group. Oh, well. My own fault. I think I can come in under 3:45, anyway, and maybe around 3:40, five minutes off my PR.

In fact, I haven't actually done any long runs since CIM. A couple of half marathons and a couple of 13+ runs have been the max, so on Sunday I decided I'd better run on some steep trails for at least 3 hours, which I figured would be about 14 miles. In fact those 14 miles ended up taking me 3:14, with a lot of walking involved, but I know I'll be walking a lot at Imogene, so that's okay. And I got some excellent views! )

Imogene will only be the beginning. I've got big plans for the fall - for some value of 'big', anyway. First up will be a 5K the following week, on September 13th. It's a benefit for the local Alzheimer's association, as one of the local runners (and a guy I know through both running and politics) has developed this disease, and his wife has organized this race. I've signed up both me and Britt. I'm hoping to do well in this race as I have been doing coached track workouts lately - more on this later, probably in another post. I doubt I can PR since my PR is a downhill race, but if I get a "loop course PR" I will be content.

The following week is the Animas Mug Run, a trail 10K-ish which I ran once, back in 2009. (I actually drank my tea out of the mug today.) I'd like to run it again, just because it's a cool race.

Then three weeks later - on October 11th and 12th - it's time for the Durango Double. For the past two years it's been a trail 25K/50K on Saturday, and road half/full marathon on Sunday, but this year there is a new race director, a new format of trail half Saturday and road half Sunday, and new (and I think better) courses. I did the trail 25K/road half combo two years ago, and enjoyed it a lot. Last year I volunteered, but this year I'll be running again.

The main reason I volunteered rather than ran last year was that The Other Half, the Moab half I run every October, was scheduled for the following Sunday, rather than two weeks later as it was in 2012, and that was my goal half (and I ran a PR, so, yay!) But this year, as last year, the races are a week apart - too close, I think, to be able to run a quality race at TOH...

...so I'm thinking about a 50K instead. Um. I know this sounds crazy! But the Dead Horse 50K will also be in Moab, on Saturday October 19th, and as this is the opening weekend of hunting season here and Britt will be otherwise occupied, it's a good weekend for me to do a race. This is a new race, but the company that's organizing it is an established one, and they put on many ultras including the well-regarded Red Hot 55K which several of my friends have run. The course is near Dead Horse State Park on the Gemini Bridges mountain bike route and other nearby jeep roads, and the course profile looks relatively easy - for an ultra, anyway!

The thing is, it is probably easier to run an 'easy' ultra (that is, just complete the distance at a comfortable-ish pace) a week after the double than it is to race a half, and if I can't give a good effort at TOH I don't want to do it. And then I'd be out there for the weekend, anyway, and could cheer my friends on at TOH, and go out for dinner with them as usual, etc. Anyway, I haven't yet committed, but I'm strongly tempted.

I haven't even looked at November.... ;-)
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
I ran 64.8 miles last week, a new high for the cycle (though not an all-time high), including the Journey of Hope 5K which...did not go as planned. I am 0 for 2 in race selection, apparently )

Recap of the rest of the week )

Actually, I have a lot of things I want to post about. In addition to heart rate nattering, I want to talk about racing weight (and why some people gain weight when they run, and others lose it, and what my weight has been doing this year), and about my core routine and hip strengthening exercises, and of course about race strategies and goals for my upcoming half marathon. So, um, watch this space!
ilanarama: my footies in my finnies (snorkeling)
Tomorrow morning is the Journey of Hope 5K, a "family run/walk" to raise money for free mammograms for women in need. Hope-fully (see what I did there?) there will be a few actual runners there to race against, and it won't just be a huge mass of people in pink walking together - not that I object to people walking 5Ks, but I would like to be able to use this as a fitness gauge, and that means I need 1) other people near my pace to try to beat, and 2) no people walking in front of me and getting in my way. If the course is similar to the 5Ks I have run before in this subdivision, it will make a loop on a bike path and then return the same way, so there will be people going in both directions. But if it's as big an event as it seems to be from last year's photos, they probably will try to route it as a single large loop - I hope (as it were) so!

So, a 5K. Those of you who have read my journal for some time know that I HATE 5Ks. That's probably because I almost always go out too fast, and then I am miserable for the entire second half while not really running all that fast. This time, I'm going to try to keep my pace under control early, and aim for more even splits than usual - while still trying to run fast, of course.

My PR is 21:03, but that was on an extremely downhill course and though I'm thinking about trying hard to beat it on a flat course sometime, I don't think it's going to happen on marathon training; lots of miles, but most of them easy. I ought to be able to beat my flat(-ish) course PR of 21:43 from February, though. (These races were on a different course - I haven't run in this subdivision since 2010, when I ran a 22:44 5K best.)

Numbers geek overthinking and planning that will probably be abandoned in the first quarter-mile, ahoy. )
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
I know, I said I was so over the Moab races. Expensive, headwinds, long drive, blah blah blah, not running there again, find some other damn race. Except that I kept getting email from the Moab race management telling me that there was still space available in Canyonlands (on March 16h, one month from now); ordinarily it's a lottery, but I guess enough people have been put off by the winds that it didn't fill this year. And I am weak. So I signed myself up for the half marathon, yet again; and I signed Britt up for the concurrent 5-mile race, to give him an excuse to come out to Moab as well! Maybe we'll bring mountain bikes and make a weekend of it.

So as a tune-up race, yesterday morning I ran the Community Cares 5K. I ran the same race last year; at the time it was a PR by 30 seconds, but in April I ran another 5K on a downhill course and took off another 41 seconds. I knew I was unlikely to beat that mark, but hoped to beat my previous time on the same course.

Which I did. By ONE FREAKIN' SECOND. I...guess that means I'm in the same shape I was in last year? Last year I came in second woman OA, though a pro triathlete beat me by two minutes; this year I came in fourth, but all three women ahead of me were either 20 or 21, less than half my age, so I don't feel too bad.

This time I decided to set my Garmin so I could not see my pace as I ran. Ordinarily I have it set to display total time, total distance, average lap pace, and heart rate; I changed it to show only heart rate, so I could see if I was slacking off. As it turned out, it didn't really matter, because I hardly looked at it - I just ran. Really hard. And just like last year, I ran too fast on the first mile and had a hard time holding pace after the turn-around. Of course, the route is more or less flat and downhill to the turn-around, and then flat and uphill, with an uphill right at the finish.

Here are my splits compared with last year:

 20132012
mile 16:396:42
mile 27:117:08
mile 37:257:22
mile 3.10:280:32

Total time was 21:43, as compared to 21:44 last year.  Woohoo.

So what does this predict for Moab?  Well, last year I had my worst Canyonlands ever (and my worst half marathon since getting serious about running) on a hot and windy day.  My PR came on a windless day one month after a 22:14 5K (then a PR), though with higher mileage than I'm running now. I think it will all come down to conditions; I might be able to PR (though not by much) if it's cold and calm, but if there's a headwind I'll probably run slower than 1:40.

I guess I'll find out in a month!

ilanarama: me in Escalante (yatta!)
This morning I ran a 5K I'd been wanting to run for years, but have never managed to be around/healthy for: the "Fastest 5K in the West" put on by our local college, Fort Lewis, as a fundraiser for their cross-country teams. And by "fastest" they mean "ludicrously downhill". The first 1.5 miles of the course are pretty much flat, but the next half mile drops about 50 feet toward the access road on the edge of the mesa on which the college sits. Then it plunges off the edge, dropping 250 feet in 3/4 mile of switchbacks, after which it mostly levels out again to the finish.

There were about 60 starters, and we lined up on the college's dirt track, as the course began with a loop and a quarter before angling off toward the mesa rim road. I was briefly caught behind a slow guy but managed to slide out and inside, staking my place in about the #15 spot and the 4th woman, behind a wiry blonde I thought to be about my age (later I found she is 10 years older than me!) who looked pretty fast. I didn't look at my watch at all, just kept pace with the people around me. We looped the track and then hit the access path, which had a short, steepish uphill right around .5 miles; the blonde slowed down and I shot past her and another guy, putting me in 3rd. We hit the rim road and started stringing out along the edge, and I passed another guy, which put me directly behind the first and second women but still a ways back. I looked at my watch for the first time about .7 miles in and was shocked to see my pace was 6:35 at that point, but hey, if I could keep it up...

Passed the first mile marker with a 6:49 split. The course took a right turn and began to drop, fairly imperceptibly at first, but I often run on this road in the other direction which is most definitely uphill, so I knew we were going down! Two women passed me here, including the one who eventually won, and I was in 5th for a short time, but then I passed one of them again just as the road started to head down in earnest.

I missed the second mile marker, but my Garmin has my second split at 7:00 flat. I was not looking at my watch here as well as it took all my concentration not to trip over my own feet! There's a single really steep and sharp hairpin switchback which forced me to slow down a little, but then it was just easy curves and a solid downhill the rest of the way into town, where the road finally flattened out through the neighborhoods. I was pretty much just keeping my relative spot - the three women ahead of me were visible but not close, and nobody passed me.

I looked at my watch again at the third mile marker and it was funny, because I saw 20:25 (for a third split of 6:36, OMG!), and my brain thought, "well, a tenth of a mile takes about a minute, so I should come in around 21:25, yay, a PR!" Then I went around the corner and was shocked to see the finish clock at only 20:55! I had kind of forgotten that I'm a bit faster than 10:00 pace when I'm racing, duh.

I crossed the line at 21:03 for a 41 second PR(!!) over my February 5K - I suspect most of the difference is due to the course, as the other one was an out-and-back with an uphill second half. But maybe I'm a little faster, too. I don't care - I'm taking the PR!
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)
(The subject line is probably more entertaining when considered along with my previous post.)

That old race-day magic came through, because I ran 21:44, a PR by exactly 30 seconds. I came in second woman overall (about 2 minutes behind the first woman, but that's okay because she is a local pro triathlete and 14 years younger than me), but there were no prizes - it was a fundraiser and very low-key - and I didn't even win a random draw prize.

I ran 1.5 miles to the rec center to register, but the race was not for an hour after registration "closed" according to the flyer (it didn't really close, though, and I should have just shown up later) so I did a rather long warm-up, totaling just under 5 miles before the race. It was a lovely day and I stripped down to a singlet and my "crazy shorts" (the ones I wore at the Winter Sun), and lined up just behind the fast kids.

There were some obvious slowpokes right on the line, but fortunately they were mostly on one side; I squeezed between the others quickly enough and settled in behind a guy I know is a bit faster than me, letting him slowly pull away (he finished in under 20 minutes). I could see I was the third woman right from the start; I passed #2 (a middle school girl) a bit more than a mile in, and at the turn-around I could see that I was now #2 and the next women were far behind. After the turn-around the line was pretty strung out. I managed to pass a couple of guys bit by bit, and a couple different ones passed me.

The splits are ugly. Obviously I don't know how to race 5Ks, although I can blame part of it on the course. The first mile drops about 50 feet, the second drops 20 then climbs 20, and the third retraces back up. By my Garmin I ran 6:42, 7:09, 7:22, and 7:19 for the last fraction. My HR pegged right at 167/87% WHR and stayed there the whole time, which is kind of weird because that's supposedly 10K pace (that is, too low). It didn't spike at the end or anything. On the other hand, my other 5Ks, other than my first (where I set my max) have been similar in terms of HR pattern, and I wonder if that's due to the altitude - that a true 5K effort at 6600 ft doesn't allow my HR to climb as much, now that I'm relatively fit. (Whereas the first one I did, I wasn't as fit, and maybe that let it spike more?) I certainly felt on the edge of puking in the last mile and a quarter or so, and after I crossed the line I curled up in a ball on the woodchip mulch and just breathed for a while.

Here is my HR (and elevation and pace) plot, for kicks. Um, the weird exaggeration makes it look like I fell off a cliff and had to claw my way back up, but I assure you it wasn't that bad.



After the race I jogged around a little, and then ran home the long way to make a total of a little under 12 miles for the day.

PS: I understand that there have been problems commenting here with OpenID - I've been having the same problems on your blogs, too! I answer the Captcha and it just keeps refreshing. You can comment here anonymously if you like, just be sure to include your name so I know who you are.
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
It took me longer than I expected to ramp my running back up after Houston; that calf cramp in mile 23 when I unwisely accelerated to HMP must have been the sign of a strain or tear, because it kept hurting during my runs, sometimes acutely. I took more time off than I had planned, and did a lot of fairly slow running, but I'm finally back up to around 50mpw - not as much as I had wanted, but it will do. Now it's time to start adding some speedwork as I focus on shorter distances, leading up to the Canyonlands Half in March and the Steamworks Half in June.

Which means - gulp - running a 5K. The 5K distance is a good one for beginners who are just trying to cover the distance faster than their usual training run, but once you get to the relatively competitive level, you realize that the 5K is a diabolical, awful distance, because you have to run FAST. I like marathons. Marathon pace is only a bit faster than your easy pace, because you have to conserve your energy and judge your fatigue. A 5K, though, is balls-to-the-wall (ovaries-to-the-wall?) puking territory. Which I am not so good at.

I get a lot of ribbing by fellow runners for having a 10K PR (43:06) which is considerably faster than twice my 5K PR (22:14). The thing is, that 10K is net downhill and at an elevation ~2500 ft lower than here. (I only justify driving almost 3 hours to run a 10K by the fact that it gets me a guaranteed entry to the Canyonlands Half. I cannot justify the drive for a 5K!)

My 5K PR is from two years ago; last year I ran the same course 12 seconds slower, partly because I lost sight of the runner ahead (it was a tiny race, fewer than 40 runners) and I'm better at chasing than I am at time-trialing on my own. The 5K on Saturday should have at least 150 runners. But it is a slightly harder course, because it starts downhill and ends uphill rather than the other way around as the other course did, and I have been doing almost zero fast running, so I'm not expecting a PR. But that doesn't mean I'm not going to TRY.

The real reason I'm running it is because, as I said, I'm not very good at time-trialing on my own. I'm lousy at running "5K pace" unless I'm actually running a 5K. This should be a good workout, whether I PR or not. Because the Canyonlands Half is coming up in (*gulp*) three weeks, and that is a race I really do want to PR!
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)
Last night I ran a local 5K, a benefit for the high school cross-country team that is held every year. This was my first race since my return to running after my injury this spring, and although I had decided a goal of 23:30 was reasonable, I somehow managed to pull a 22:44 out of my hat. This is exactly 30 seconds slower than my February PR which was set at 4 pounds lighter and 40 degrees cooler, and more than a minute faster than my time at this race last year, so I am really very happy about it! The utterly enthralling details... )

The other races that are interesting me right now are the political ones. I admit I was following the Tennessee gubernatorial primary just to see how much of the vote Basil Marceaux Dot Com would get (if you haven't seen his videos on YouTube, get thee hence; I am still not sure if this guy is for real or just a brilliant parody) but now that this race is over (the "Not Entirely Nuts" candidate beat the two guys who were calling Islam a "cult" and vowing to stand against institution of Sharia law in the state of Tennessee) I hope that the governor's race in my humble state of Colorado will draw some attention.

I really think we can hold our own in the wacko sweepstakes. In the GOP primary, we have the plagiarist versus the guy who thinks that promotion of bicycling is a devious plot in support of one-world government, which has led to the racist wingnut seceding from the GOP to run against them on the American Constitution Party ticket.

Fortunately, the Democrats have an excellent candidate. I mean, how can I resist voting for the ex-geologist beer brewer? Plagiarism guy, black helicopter guy, KKK guy, or beer guy. The choice is clear!
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
So, I ran a 5K on Friday night.

Before I whine (and I am going to whine, so consider this a Whine Warning) I feel obliged to acknowledge that most of you reading this are not competitive runners. Some of you have run 5Ks and would be very happy indeed to run them as fast as I do. And yes, my time is a course PR for me. So I should not complain. But complain I shall.

I plugged the time of my awesome half-marathon into the McMillan calculator (Warning: the site plays music but it goes away when you hit "calculate") and it told me that my equivalent performance in a 5K would be 22:34. Now, I had run this particular course twice before, both times around 24:25, and I am far more of an endurance runner than a speed runner, and some recent workouts had confirmed for me that there was no way I could possibly keep a 7:16 per mile pace going, so I wasn't really aiming at that. But I thought a 23:30 would be reasonable, and my pixie dust goal was to break 23 minutes.

5Ks are popular because most people who are capable of walking can usually finish them in an hour or so, and most beginning runners can run them continuously, as a first race. To really race them well, though, means running at basically top speed, just sub-barfing. I don't enjoy running 5Ks. It's too painful.

I did not break 23 minutes. I barely broke 24, coming in at 23:57, miserable and breathless, and passed by another woman in the last 100 yards. But worst of all, I was beaten by a woman pushing two kids in a double stroller. She came in 4th, with the beautifully symmetric time of 22:22 (which is why I remembered it). I came in 7th.

Strollered by a doublewide. I am mortified.

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ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)
Ilana

July 2017

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My running PRs:

5K: 21:03 (downhill) 21:43 (loop)
10K: 43:06 (downhill)
10M: 1:12:59
13.1M: 1:35:55
26.2M: 3:23:31

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