“Mellow as the Month of May.” (Half Marathon Training, week 4)

Carole King.

The first week of May coincided nicely with the very center of this training cycle. I find this month to be a particularly optimistic one with summer on the horizon and such. And optimistic would also be the perfect word for how I’m feeling about running lately. Although my Saturday long run was a bit draggy, all in all I came away very encouraged with the total mileage (first to creep near 30) and my Thursday interval session.

Monday 5/1: 3.4 miles easy (9’19” avg pace)

Tuesday 5/2: rest  Normally this is my strength training day. But I had a late night and poor sleep so my trainer was kind enough to move my appointment to Friday. This was both a blessing and a curse, as you’ll read below.

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rest day inspo courtesy of Darwin le Dog.

Wednesday 5/3: 4 miles easy (9’26” avg pace)

Thursday 5/4: 6 miles w/ 3x 1 mile at half marathon pace + 10-20 sec (8:30-8:40) w/ 1-2 min rest between sets (9’02” avg pace)  I ran my splits at 8’22”, 8’14”, and 8’22” all the while feeling extremely cruisey and controlled. So I was absolutely thrilled with this workout, especially coming off of a ho-hum weekend 5k.

Friday 5/5: Strength training

Saturday 5/6: 10 miles LSD (10’05” avg pace)  The first 7 miles were pretty rough, and I’m chalking this up to the previous Friday’s strength session. While I wasn’t particularly sore, still, David’s current plan includes this lower body triple punch: abductor, leg curl, followed by leg press. Then, just to completely knock out the hamstrings and glutes, we finish the workout on the lower back machine. Anyway, it was a good reminder why I should continue to schedule easy runs after strength days.

Sunday 5/7: 5 miles easy (9’33” avg pace)  If it hadn’t been for my boyfriend, I probably would have only done about 3 miles. John has been running a lot lately (he completed a 70 mile month in April!) but this was our first one together! It’s super motivating to have another runner in the house. And one of the best parts of this run was that he picked the route, so I could just follow along and not think too much. 🙂  

Total Weekly Mileage: 28.4

I’m pleased to have hit my target of 28 miles, and to find that on Monday I felt only a little tired and still fairly strong and uninjured. On the horizon: a 12 miler, more mile repeats, and a 5k part deux!

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training diary – half marathon prep week 2!

Here’s a recap of last week’s progress on the road to my first half marathon in 18 months OMG.

Monday 4/17: 3.3 miles easy (9’31 avg pace)

Tuesday 4/18: superslow strength training

Wednesday 4/19: 5.2 miles easy (9’20 avg pace)

Thursday 4/20: 3 miles easy  (9’07” avg pace)

Friday 4/21: 4 miles w/ fartlek – 2x 5 minutes fast w/ 3-4 min rest (9’17” avg pace) Getting back into speedwork is fun and although I’m off starting pretty conservative with these loose fartlek workouts, overall it feels challenging but doable. I’m so disorganized with these though. This current week my plan is just to do a few strides, uhhh, maybe. And after that I have no clue. Tempos?

Saturday 4/22: 8.6 LSD (9’34” avg pace)  Some lovely morning miles before heading out for a quick overnight at Van Damme State Park in Little River!

Sunday 4/23: Rest in Mendocino 🙂

Mendocino

rest day inspo

Total Weekly Mileage: 24.1
Another 24 mile week. Since my body seems to be cooperating, and because my mental state remains upbeat, I will increase this weekly volume by a few miles in a couple of weeks. But first, a small cutback in preparation for my first race of the year on Sunday, a 5k in Marin County. I’m a little nervous given that I have not done any short & fast distance stuff since last freaking June, and that pain train is no joke (my 5k strategy is usually start fast and try to hold on… uh… ouch?). However, I look forward to having a better read on my fitness level. At first I thought my strategy could be to keep splits at about 7:30/mile, which is not quite my PR but pretty darn close, but I’m beginning to suspect that this plan may well fall apart. First, there’s the matter of an ominous “little elevation change,” according to the website course description and second, it looks like it could be a warm, sunny day. So plan B might be to try and come in under 24:00, which would still be a really solid way to start out a racing season and a positive step towards a half marathon PR. Either way it will be interesting and helpful to set a better baseline for current training and goal paces.

“I Took the Long Way” (LA Marathon 2016 race recap)

Runnin’ – The Heartless Bastards

Well I’m finally getting to the recount of my experience at the Los Angeles marathon. And imma gonna keep it semi brief-like. These days I’m just covering all kinds of ground with respect to working, resting, experiencing life and having fun, running a very small amount, and keeping my eyes forward towards Spring!

On to the business at hand.

LAM_Before

To me, this is a perfect marathon “Before” picture. What a hot fucking mess I was 4 hours later.

 

The majority of the race went really well for me and I spent most of the time cautiously optimistic that sub-4 was in the bag. Side note – one of the amazing things I’m observing is how much my tolerance for pain has, with practice, improved in this sort of weird, out of body kind of way. My legs were crazy hurty ouchie ouch for well over 2+ hours, but my body and mind have learned to accept this as a rule. “Look, if you want to go fast, this is the way it works,” says brain. “Don’t worry, something else will distract you soon enough.” And body says, “You a little mean, but okay. We know you’ll give us pizza later.”

Dumb internal monologues aside, things got a bit more interesting at Mile 19 so that’s where I’ll start. Here’s the LA Marathon elevation profile:

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So at Mile 19, I slowly started to fade. This was the warmest part of the course, although temps didn’t climb as high as was predicted. And was prepared for the gradual incline here so I told myself to just keep steady until things flattened out.

At about mile 21 the 4 hour pacer, who I’d passed back at 15 or 16, caught up. I stuck with the group for a while, and they got me through one of my toughest miles. But by the next mile marker, I found that I couldn’t hang on. Watched them slip away, feeling a little disappointed but actually pretty zen about what was happening. I resigned myself to the likelihood of a 4:01…4:02 finish. I’d already mentally prepared for this possibility during the previous week while looking over the weather forecasts. I trudged along and made it through miles 23 and 24 at 9’31 and 9’43.

Then two things happened. First, we began a descent to the oceanfront finish line that would result in 200 feet of elevation loss. And second but just as crucial… MARINE LAYER. Hallelujah.

I started to feel a little bit stronger and some confused marathon math told me that I still might be able to squeak in under 4. However, as my brain was trying to convince my body that my dragging pace had reached the dreaded point of no return, I heard a spectator cheer me on. It was one of those “looking good” type comments. But after she said this to me I swear I heard her comment, in a lower voice to her companion,  “Wow, she looks really fresh..” Whether or not I imagined this, whether or not she was actually talking about me at all – this moment brought back my race. I felt a burst of momentum and knew that I would reach my sub-4 goal. I had a great, balls to the walls 25th and 26th mile, 8’42 and 8’21. I ran terrible tangents and got to do 26.5 miles that day, running 8’17 for that last half mile. With the finish line in sight, I found the 4 hour pacer and tapped him on the shoulder. “I caught you!” I said excitedly. He congratulated me and told me to kick it hard and sprint to the finish and I ran and ran and ran.

It was fucking great.

LAM_Finish

Hurts. So. Good?

Official Finish: 3:57:59

Finally, a few takeaways on the overall experience:

LA Marathon Pluses:

  • Pre-race at Dodger Stadium. A completely genius organizational move – an empty baseball stadium means shelter and real bathrooms! A 4:30am shuttle from Santa Monica was super easy.
  • Scenic course
  • Fun spectators and crowd support (yes! the 5 mile chili dog station is real)
  • Downhill finish
  • Lovely, large medal

LA Marathon Minuses:

  • Not necessarily a minus but should be noted that is NOT a flat course. For whatever reason, be it the event marketing, or because I assume anything outside the Bay Area is flat, I wasn’t expecting to encounter these kinds of rollers. The hills are fairly gentle, but I didn’t find this to be a particularly easy course, which brings me to…
  • Miles 20-23 are boring, uphill, and hot. If you’re really hitting a wall this section can be fairly demoralizing.
  • Finish area was not great. I had to walk for ages to get to the family reunion area. Ouch ouch ouch. And bag check retrieval after the race was absolutely awful! It took me a half hour to get my gear and I was painfully cold the entire time. They should have provided heat sheets before the UPS trucks but I guess they weren’t expecting the chilliness.

Up next… Rocking a summer halves and preparing for the fall marathon. Yes. That One.

“I love Los Angeles, and I love Hollywood. They’re beautiful. Everybody’s plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic.”

Andy Warhol.

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That’s right, boys and girls. Some dark, wintery Northern California training ahead as preparation continues for the big bad LA Marathon in February!

I’ve been semi- secretly following a makeshift Hal Higdon plan that’s been pretty well Frankensteined into something that ol’ Hal might not condone at all. Basically, my strategy is to steadily increase mileage, diligently complete my long runs with some fast finishes thrown in every few weeks, and do goal pace workout most weeks. Easy runs easy and harder runs hard.

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Yellow highlights are pace runs. Purple are fast finish.

We will see how this evolves. But on the whole things have been going smoothly. I even got in a run during my trip to Mexico City last month, which was awesome and not at all the asthma-inducing shit show that I expected. Did you know that Mexico City’s minimum elevation is 7,382 ft? Neither had I (by comparison, our mile high city of Denver maxes out at 5,690 ft.). To my surprise, the run was absolutely magical. On Sunday mornings, the city closes several main streets to traffic and opens up these uncongested city miles to pedestrians, runners, and cyclists. On the day of my excursion many of the local running groups were out and celebrating Dia de los Muertos.  I was having so much fun that I tacked on two additional miles to explore a bit of the splendid Bosque de Chapultepec (aka a huge ass park).

The rest of this year will be focused on remaining uninjured and maintaining mileage amidst the tempting pull of lazy holidays and early dusks. And maybe one more half marathon before 2016….

“There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.”

Mahatma Gandhi.

Well here is the post in which I introduce my prospective strategy for training for the Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers International Half Marathon in 5 stinkin’ weeks!

Between determining details of the mileage and rest and cross training in the weeks ahead, through my research I’ve come across some global notes which may prove to be just as important for making it to and through the BIG DAY:

**Let go of expectations**

At least with respect to time. 2015 was supposed to be the year of the big PRs — but this ship has long since sailed. No matter. New goals include:

In Training

  • barring injury or illness, complete the planned training runs (i mean for god’s sake it’s just 5 weeks…).
  • that said, don’t take things so seriously.
  • that also said, every run has a purpose.

During the Race

  • enjoy the tour of the city and crossing the Canadian border.
  • overall: just have fun.

After the Race

  • after the race: eat pizza and beer (preferably a local one)
  • be grateful to spend time with my mom and dad, brother and sister-in-law, and others.

**Long runs are the foundation**

A repeated mantra in many half-marathon and marathon plans regardless of the length: laser focus on diligently hammering out that Saturday LSD. Of course, every run should mean something, but they’re the gravy.

**Practice finishing EVERY SINGLE RUN strong**

Failure to do this was, in my assessment, the single biggest contributor to my mini-meltdown at the San Francisco half marathon in July. It’s not that a positive mental attitude would have led to a better performance necessarily, but perhaps the last 3 miles would have been less grueling and mentally exhausting. Too often I allowed myself to wallow in tiredness and waning enthusiasm — during workouts but especially in last miles. But — I thought, at least I’m completing the prescribed mileage. At least I’m getting it DONE. It’s no mystery why on race day my brain just hit a moment where it was like — STOP. NOW. The ensuing internal bargaining and self-pity made the experience mildly excruciating and I am not interested in a repeat. Which brings me to…

**Stay positive — or at least, recognize negative patterns in thinking**

One thing that they stress in mindfulness meditation is that when thoughts arise, to make a soft mental note like: thinking. Or even more specific like: judging. These labels are simply a recognition of the occurrence, without trying to change or analyze anything. I think that my recent indifference to running and training has centered on, quite simply, a negative attitude towards it. Trying to think positive thoughts is one way to do this, but in other ways trying to force it can almost feed the negativity in a perverse way.  So if I can’t be positive, I can at least recognize negative thinking, laziness, excuses… without judging them … and then go out and complete the exercise anyway.

Onto the goods, now. Completed on scratch paper in highlighter and ballpoint pen over lunch at the office — here is my custom, handy-dandy, 5-weeks-out, shit-kickin’ half marathon training plan:

5 week half marathon training planWell for now that’s the best I got. Let’s just hope it doesn’t rain. Or snow. Or Tornado.
Question time! Have you ever run a race with minimal preparation? What was your experience? Any advice?

“Every trial endured and weathered in the right spirit makes a soul nobler and stronger than it was before.”

William Butler Yeats.

Well hello and Happy New Year!

So I took a blogging hiatus during the last half of 2014 when I came down with a bout of Iliotibial Band Syndrome. I completed my last race of 2014 in September (DSE Oyster Point 10k) and surprised myself by finishing in 49:07, running pretty even splits and averaging just under 8:00/mile.

DSE Oyster Point 10k Splits: September 21, 2014

DSE Oyster Point 10k Splits: September 21, 2014

It was a promising start to CIM training, but sadly the IT issue flared up soon after, forcing me to bow out of both Rock n Roll San Jose and the marathon. After a frustrating several months of trial and error, I have now been happily pain free since January 2. I attribute this recovery to diligent foam rolling, stretching and yoga practice, professional massage, rest, better shoes, and tiny miracles beyond human understanding.

Anyway, here’s a quick rundown of the latest haps:

1 — I’m upping my yoga game

In early January I attended a 3 week yoga “boot camp” series at my local studio — 75 minute classes / 6 am / Monday thru Friday. I would call it almost life changing. Although awkward at first, I became intoxicated by starting the days active and early, and made a lot of progress with my practice. I’ve definitely come away with a better understanding of the nuances of the poses and am improving the practice of mindfulness. I’m really just starting to scratch the surface and it super exciting. Hopefully the momentum will continue, but I know finding a balance will be somewhat tricky as I return to running more seriously. Anyway, it was a great way to kick off the year.

2  — I ran my first race of 2015 / first post-injury!

A Brazen Race was the perfect kickoff to a healthy, happy 2015. I was pleased to comfortably run an 8:15 / mile average – clocking in at 28:42 for the 3.5 mile race feeling fresh and in no more in pain than one would expect for a sunny 5k.

2015.01.24 - Coyote Hills - Brazen Racing -  Lehrbaum - 1727

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photos courtesy of the Brazen photog crew. Love these guys!

3  — I’m noodling the hell out of my 2015 training schedule and narrowing down choices for a summer marathon

I’ve been slowly building mileage since the beginning of the year and I’ve got a solid plan to carry me to 3/22 when (if all goes well) I’ll run the half distance at Oakland Running Festival again this year. In the meantime I have 2 tasks: first, decide on type/amount of speedwork to take on during marathon training (among other details) and second, confirm the goal race. Right now the main contenders are San Francisco and Grandma’s.

This Sunday I will be volunteering with SFRRC at the Kaiser Half so to all of those running Good Luck and I look forward to cheering you on!!

“Don’t follow the feeling, follow the plan.”

Dr. Barry Rovner A few weeks ago NPR broadcast a story about elderly people suffering from age-related macular degeneration, a condition that impairs the ability to see fine detail. Reading, driving, watching television, and cooking may become impossible. Worse, those … Continue reading

Training Diary 6.22.14 — Speed Phase Week Four & See Jane Run Race Week!

Kathryn and the Bad Luck Mondays. A good band name, right? Like Iggy’s Stooges, Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers, Richard Hell’s Voidoids, the Mondays surround me with their music: the cold cough of a struggling Volkswagen against a midnight ocean drone. The 8-inch blade of a Wustof slipping off a new sponge like a record player needle. Is it Mercury’s retrograde? Or maybe a the result of a summer workday, the worst one of all.

Anyway, poetry aside, I have 3 loose stitches and a mess of gauze interfering with the use of my right hand. So blogging was a little delayed this week. This also means that this coming Saturday I will need to bow out of Jason Crandell’s yoga workshop at Yoga Flow that I registered for ages ago. Sad times. But downward facing dog is a no-go until these fuckers come out on July 3.

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At least last week (minus the car issue) was productive (spoiler — I PR’ed the 5k! BOOM!)

Monday — Vinyasa Yoga / 60 minutes

Tuesday — Strength Training  It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned how much I hate doing this. Thank god it’s only 20 minutes and that I get a shoulder massage right after. Gaaahhh why does strength training have to be so important?

Wednesday — Tempo Run / 5 miles / 8’43” pace  After last week’s debacle, I made sure to come up with a decent plan. I needed a good workout, and I needed to finish encouraged. No more sad sack tempo face. Mile 1 warmup (8’26” – a bit fast obviously), mile 2 -3 tempo pace (8’29”/8’22”), mile 4 cooldown (9’38”), mile 5 strides/fartleks (8’32”). Challenging but not over the top, although I think as I become more comfortable with these kinds of runs the top speeds need to increase and/or roll out more progressively. But look at this steady pacing! A major improvement from last week, I’m ashamed to say that I even had a little bit of fun. I’ll crack you yet, devil run!

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Thursday — Rest

Friday — Easy Run / 3.7 miles / 9’00” pace

Saturday — Yoga from Hell / 90 minutes  Well not really yoga from Hell, but class was more intense than expected, and left me slightly worried that lingering soreness would impact Sunday’s race. BUT I had that great buzzy post-shavasana glow as I left the studio — always the sign of a great class.

Sunday — Race! See Jane Run San Francisco / 3.1 miles / 7’27” pace  Crushed my sub-25 goal with a 23:07 finish time! Yay for speedwork! Hell, yay for tempo runs! Yay for beginner-friendly women’s races that allow me to place first in my age group! Stay tuned for the recap in a few days…

Training Diary 6.15.14 — Speed Phase Week Three (AKA – I hate Tempo Runs)

Maybe more accurately: I suck at tempo runs. Unfortunately the only solution is also the least attractive: practice, practice, practice. Hal Higdon calls them “the thinking runner’s workout,” but I never expect so many of those thoughts to be “Oh my God, what fresh hell is this pace? Ugh, Kathryn. You are a terrible runner. ” Sometimes you need matter over mind. So I try to visualize beautiful robot-movement in my form, and relax my facial muscles to catatonic slack— totally unfeeling, absolutely numb. Imagine my legs as machines, incessantly — endlessly — moving. Don’t look at the watch. Never look at the watch. Seriously, stop checking the fucking watch. GPS is the devil. Running is torture. How on earth do people do this? What ecstasy it would be to walk — or better, to stop completely, hinging at the hip, pressing palms firmly against thighs. Ugh. Kathryn. You are a terrible runner.

I’m realizing that of course I’m doing it all wrong, or at least mostly wrong. Here’s Friday’s workout:

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So for example, if I’m looking to run a 24:30 5k, then according to Runner’s World training paces calculator, my tempo pace should be more like 8:20/mile. Currently I’m completing a ¾ mile warm-up (or so), and then increasing my pace too suddenly, subsequently crashing and burning by the end? On the other hand, I know these runs should feel hard, so maybe it’s more an issue of becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. Or probably some combination.

Either way, I dread that the secret actually lies in a painful learning curve.

Monday — Easy Run / 5.75 miles / 9’27” pace  A make-up for last week’s delayed Sunday long run. Not very impressive for an LSD, but still meaningful enough for 5k training. Besides, a run-commute home along the Embarcadero and through Potrero Hill? Best de-compression ever. Half a mile from our apartment, I stopped at the market for fresh herbs and cruised home for dinner. Summer. Ah.

Tuesday — Easy bike ride and strength training.

Wednesday — 6×400 / 4 miles / 9’33” pace  A beautiful morning in the Haight. 6’44 / 6’25 / 6’49 / 7’00 / 6’51 / 6’55 An improvement from last week — almost all intervals in the sixes. I’m doing a lot of walking between sets, and reading conflicting information regarding the better approach: Avoid a cooldown, or rest enough so that every interval can be performed at full quality?

Thursday — Dynamic Flow Yoga Class / 90 minutes  A class full of arm balances, which I love.

Friday — Tempo Run (from hell) / 3.6 miles / 9’08” pace  See above.

Saturday — Rest.

Sunday — Long Run / 6.6 miles / 9’49” pace  A meandering exploration around Noe Valley, Duboce triangle, and the Mission. My long runs have become a bit prescriptive, always with the go-to 8 mile route or 10 mile or 14 mile route that I know well. Kept this one interesting with some new and some familiar hills, neighborhoods, twists and turns.