Clyde’s 10K

The main thing I wanted to do this week is start getting rested. After my exhausting long run last week, I felt like I needed to pull back a little to be ready for Kentucky. I took two full days off before my first run on Wednesday, which was less than 3.5 miles. I did another run on Friday, which I originally planned as 5 miles, but later decided I’d probably go 5-7, depending on how I felt. As it turned out, I felt great. For both my runs, I ran rather quickly and only stopped my Friday run at 6 miles because of imminent rain.

For the race, I planned to be somewhat conservative. I knew the course was going to be tough and I didn’t want to overdo things before next weekend. I figured a goal of around 1 hour would be reasonable. The Clyde’s 10K is pretty famous around here. This was the 35th time they’ve run it and they’re known for the great brunch they served afterwards. After the long commute to DC for my last race, I appreciated being able to get out of bed at a reasonable hour and just walk down to the starting line. I even took out some trash along the way.

The race started rather suddenly. I thought we were going to get a late start because it looked like people were still walking over. I didn’t hear any horn or announcement that we were starting, I just realized it was time when the people in front of me started moving. The first couple miles were rolling hills, which was completely unsurprising since I know the area well. Despite the hills, I was keeping a pretty good 9:40/mile pace. It wasn’t until about mile 2.5 when we hit a huge hill that lasted for almost half a mile. I was pretty relieved when we got to the top and figured that was the worst of it. Unfortunately, I was wrong. After a short break, we had an even longer and more difficult hill. I knew I was going to have to walk a little bit as we went up this one in order not ruin myself for the rest of the race. That wasn’t quite enough, though, as I still struggled for the remainder of the race.

It got a bit easier with around a mile to go, as we finally hit a long downhill. I tried to push hard and made it to the finish in 1:02:28. It wasn’t quite my goal and wasn’t even quite 10:00/mile, but it was good enough for today. Next year, I’ll have a rather modest goal to beat. :)

Looking forward to next week, if I’m going to break 2:15, which is kind of my goal, I’ll have to run this pace for pretty much the entire race. It’s hard to say if that’s possible. On the one hand, the course should be flatter and my muscles will be even more rested and ready to go. On the other, I have to keep up that pace for more than twice the distance. I guess we’ll see how it goes. It’s also possible that the course is a lot hillier than it looks from the elevation chart. It’s possible there are lots and lots of very small hills, which could prove quite exhausting. I’m a veteran at that distance now, though, so I’m used to adjusting my game plan on the fly.

Weekly Running Report (3/31-4/6/2012)

The week started out pretty well. I had a couple of good runs on Tuesday and Wednesday, going 3.5 and 7 miles respectively. I did get some side cramps during my 7 miler, which is becoming more of a problem. The weather was beautiful all week, though, which was great for my running.

I was planning to go out and do some speed work on Friday, but got home a little too late. I decided to do a really short run on Saturday morning. It didn’t go particularly well and I quit after 2 miles. I started to get some soreness in the muscles in my right shin, which is something that generally happens to me when I try to push the pace after not doing much speed work. I had the big run coming up Sunday, though, so I didn’t attempt to push through it. I just called it a day and went home to rest.

I delayed my long run for about as long as possible on Sunday. I didn’t start until around 4 in the afternoon. Because I was worried about cramps, I tried to hydrate a lot during the afternoon prior to my run. It seemed to help a little bit. I did get some cramps around mile 5, but they didn’t last for that long.

When I started my run, I felt great. I was even keeping a good pace, too! I got back to my car for my first water break at 2.5 miles and felt like it was kind of a shame that I didn’t take the longer route back. I felt so good. During the second “lap” of my run, I continued to feel really good and kept a really good pace. When I got back to my car at 6 miles, it seemed like I would be able to do 12 miles pretty easily and maybe even go beyond that.

Mile 7 was another good one, but starting at mile 8, things fell apart really quickly. My pace slowed considerably and I was no longer running with the ease that I did during the beginning of the run. It was as if I hit the wall. I struggled my way back to my car at 9.5 miles. I took my time, drinking lots of water and trying to get a little bit of rest. I also spent a lot of time trying to talk myself out of quitting and going back out for the last 2.5 miles. Eventually, I did talk myself out of it, but after about 5 steps I told myself “no” and quit for the day.

It was a disappointing run, but I think my body has just gotten pretty tired. On most days this week, my legs felt fatigued when I would wake up in the morning, even if I hadn’t run the day before. I’ve been pushing myself hard and I think my muscles just aren’t building the way I’d hoped. Part of the issue, I think, is that it’s actually just really hard to build distance while also trying to run a lot of races. The running, then tapering, then pushing yourself past what you normally do isn’t really the best way to build distance. If I were already running 15-16 miles at a time, then the 13.1 would probably feel more like a normal training run. As it is, I’m probably not gaining much from it.

I’ve got the Clyde’s 10K on Sunday, which I don’t expect to be a great race for me. I’ll take it pretty easy during the week, which is probably something I need to do anyway. The week after that is Kentucky and then I’ll only have two weekends before my next half. I’ll probably just run as far as I can that first weekend and then take it somewhat easy for the next two weeks.

Once I finish my 4-in-4-in-4, I’ll have to see how I feel before deciding what I want to do over the summer and into the fall. I feel like I’ll need to have at least a few weeks to really rest up. After that, I’d like to work on building my distance properly, but that’s also during the middle of the summer, which makes it really tough. I might just have to settle for trying to maintain as much as I can, then start building up my distance properly in the fall.

Weekly Running Report (3/24-3/30/2012)

It was a rather light week for me. The first few days, the weather was really poor and I couldn’t bring myself to get on the treadmill, so I didn’t run Monday through Wednesday. Thursday was finally nice enough to get outdoors and I was able to do 5 miles. Saturday was rainy and I knew I couldn’t get out on Sunday, so I just had to get on the treadmill. Normally, there are 2 good treadmills in my apartment, but one of them is currently broken, so I tried to go down around lunch time hoping nobody would be there, but it was taken so I went back up and ate a little and waited for 90 minutes or so and tried again. I feel a little bad monopolizing the one good treadmill for over 2 hours for one of my long runs, but it’s usually not very busy on Saturday afternoons, so I went for it.

The run started off kind of sluggish and I was having bad side cramps. I tried to drink a lot of water and then tried to drink less water–hoping one of those two things would help. By the time I got to an hour, I decided I’d insert some walking to hopefully help with the cramping. I always tell myself I should add more walking to my training, since I always walk through the water stops during my races anyway, but my hubris always gets the best of me.

The second hour was a little better. I enjoyed my short walks and I was able to keep going pretty strong. I started getting pretty tired around mile 9 or so, but I was able to tough through it. I got to two hours having done just under 11 miles. I was tired, but I still planned to go to 12 miles. However, when I stopped at two hours (the treadmill goes into cooldown mode every hour, so I’m forced to stop and reset it) I could feel my body was really chilled. I felt like I could still make it to 12 miles, but I took this as a sign that my body had probably had enough. I have another long run this week and this is the most important one, so I didn’t want to overdo it. I walked out the rest of mile 11 and called it a day.

I’ll have a little more rest before my long run this week. Last week I only had 5 days between long runs, but this week I should have 7, so hopefully that will help. The weather looks like it should be great on Sunday, too, so I’m looking forward to getting out there. After that, it’s already time to start my taper and get ready for Kentucky!

Weekly Running Report (3/17-3/23/2012)

The theme for this week was recovery. I had a fun, but very tough race last Saturday, but I’m already preparing for another half marathon in just a few weeks. It’s a delicate balance because I need to keep up my training, but I also need to rest my muscles. I’ve also gotten sick pretty frequently after tough long runs and races, so I’m trying to make sure that doesn’t happen and pushing too hard is a sure way to make sure I do get sick.

From an eating standpoint, I didn’t have a great week. I was at a conference and there was good food around all the time and it was free! I definitely struggle to control myself in these situations and ate a lot more than I should have. On top of this, my parents got into town on Wednesday, which meant lots of celebration and eating out! I suppose if there’s a week when you want to overeat, it’s probably either the week before or week after a big race. Hopefully next week is back to normal.

Work got cancelled on Monday due to the weather, which really helped because I got to stay away from other people for another day. I got on the treadmill for 2 miles, just to keep myself running. On Wednesday, I had planned a slightly longer run. It was sprinkling when I got home, but didn’t seem too bad for running outdoors. However, by the time I got outside, it was coming down harder than I thought. I ran out and then almost immediately decided this was a bad idea and an easy way to get sick, so I came back without even running a mile.

Friday was the first run that felt like real running again. I went out for 5 miles, feeling pretty lethargic for most of it. I finally found my second wind when I was less that 1/4 mile from home–and running uphill no less! I extended my run a little bit, but still quit at about 5.25 miles.

Sunday was my long run, and picking a distance was a bit of a challenge. Ultimately, my goal is to get ready for my race in 4 weeks, but the best way to do this is probably to make sure my long runs over the next two weeks go as well as possible. So I want to make sure I run far enough so that I don’t lose distance, but not too far that I’m still worn out going into next week. I feel like the benefit of distance for these runs is basically unimodal. Basically, 1 mile is worse than 2 miles, which is worse than 3 miles. On the other side, 15 miles is better than 16 miles is better than 17 miles… Somewhere in the middle there is the optimal distance for me to run, but it’s unclear what that distance is. It depends on a lot of different factors, some of which are unknown. Even for the things you’re aware of–like how much sleep you’ve been getting–you don’t know exactly how that will affect you. This is all a bit of a simplification, of course, but that’s the idea. Somewhere between 3 miles and 15 miles was probably the optimal distance for me to run, given the condition I was in today.

Given that it was a recover, 8 miles would normally be good, but I wanted to do 9-10 to keep my distance up. I’m getting better at playing by ear, so I would have even quit early if it was clear I was working too hard. Dressing appropriately was also a bit of an issue. I wore my windbreaker for my first time out, then took it off when I got back to the car for water for the first time, then put it back on for the end of my run.

Similar to Friday, I didn’t feel great at first. The cold weather probably has something to do with this. However, once I got back to the car for my second and last time at around 6 miles, I was starting to feel much stronger. Around 8 miles I could feel that I was stretching things a bit. However, I already felt like I wanted to do 10 miles and I was not that tired, so I kept going. Sometimes, my hubris gets the best of me out there, and I always hope that this isn’t the case. I probably would have been fine with a 9 mile run, but I wanted to keep going. I got back to my car at 9.8 miles, but didn’t attempt to pad that out to 10 miles. I already knew that was good enough and that there was a chance it was maybe a bit too far anyway. All in all, it was a very good run. Next week, I get to stretch my run out to (hopefully) close to half marathon distance!

Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

After my marathon in 2012, I went home for the holidays and put on 10 pounds. Then, last May I was travelling for the entire month and put on another 10 pounds. Over the holidays again last year, I put on another 10 pounds, putting me about 30 pounds over where I used to be. I’ve started to take off the weight, but still have a ways to go. Not to mention, even at my lightest I still wanted to lose weight. I feel like I’ve figured out how to do things right. I’ve been counting my calories, but making sure I get more on days when I run, particularly for my long runs. It’s more difficult than you’d think, because you need to make sure you’ve eaten plenty to go out and run 10+ miles (particularly when you’re my weight), otherwise you can do more harm than good to your body.

So I decided I needed a challenge for this year. I needed something to make sure I kept my training up and got me back into the shape that I felt I should be in. In addition, I’ve started considering doing another full marathon. It might be next fall, but more likely would be next spring. So the challenge I came up with was to do 5 half marathons in 5 months in 5 states. I had already registered for Myrtle Beach in February and DC in March. I was hoping to go to Kentucky in April where my friend and former colleague plans to complete his goal of running a marathon in all 50 states plus DC. I had also talked about running one in Minnesota in June. So that gave me 4 already, without one in May, which I could figure out later. Unfortunately, I was really sick for the entire week before Myrtle Beach and hadn’t recovered by race day. I went anyway, but it was cold and raining so I decided at the last minute that it would be best to drop out. My goals for the spring were big enough, and I didn’t want to suffer a major setback after my first race, so now I’m down to 4 half marathons in 4 months in 4 states, which isn’t too shabby either.

Originally, the temperature was supposed to be low 40s. I was taking the metro down, which meant I was going to spend a lot of time outside before and after the race. If I were parking right next to the start, I would have probably worn short sleeves, but because of the logistics of travel, I didn’t want to be too uncomfortable before and after the race. When I woke up, I saw it was even warmer than expected and considered switching to short sleeves. It probably would have been for the best, but I stuck with long sleeves. It was a single layer and relatively thin.

The race started off pretty well. The first part of the course is always fun because it’s relatively flat and goes through the historic parts of DC. I was hoping to run about 10:30/mile, which would give me a little slack at the end to finish under my personal worst of 2:21:04 if things went poorly. For the first 5 miles or so, I was antsy about getting to Calvert Street and the big hill. It has a gain of about 200 feet in something like 0.3 or 0.4 miles, so it’s really challenging. We finally got there and it was tough. When I saw the 6 mile marker in the middle of the hill, I decided I would take a short walk and eat one of my GU chomps, which I was doing at every mile. I didn’t want to push too hard to get up this hill and ruin myself for the rest of the race. This is especially true considering that I was going so slowly up the hill anyway that I didn’t lose all that much time by walking.

After you get to the top of the hill, there’s a little bit of flat/downhill before you hit another decent sized hill, but after that there was a lot of downhill. There were still occasional uphills, but it was pretty flat up until mile 10.5 or so.

By that time I was approaching the 11 mile mark, I could barely wait to get to the water station to walk a little. At this point, I was pretty much out of energy and started walking pretty frequently. I walked through the stop and then ran for the next 0.6 miles or so. I kept convincing myself to go a little bit further so I could make it to the turn and then the beginning of the hill before walking. At this point was the second worst hill of the race. I had a hard time making it up that hill and walked several times on my way to the top.

Given how poorly the hill went, I didn’t think there was any way I would avoid getting a personal worst, but I managed to keep putting one foot in front of the other, which was basically all I could do at this point. Shortly after the marathoners broke off from the half marathoners, I saw the 20K sign, which meant we had just over a kilometer to go. I gave myself one quick 30 second walk and then planned to finish strong and finish fast. I did just that and was able to pick up my pace a lot near the end. I finished in 2:20:55 and beat my worst by 9 seconds.

Next up is Kentucky in 5 weeks. It’s a good amount of time to get ready. My plan for long runs for the next 4 weeks will go something like this:

  1. Recover: Probably 9-10 miles
  2. 12-13 miles
  3. 13-14 miles
  4. Taper: 7-8 miles

In addition, I’ll keep trying to lose weight and do more speed work. I should probably try to do one 6-7 mile run each week at a 10:00/mile pace or faster. If I can do this, I should hopefully finish stronger and hopefully get my time down around 2:15.

Training Runs (5, 7.75, and 3.5 miles)

Getting in three outdoor runs in a week is pretty good for this time of year. Last week, it was so nice in the morning that I went in late just to run in the nice cool weather. It went alright, but not as easy as I had hoped.

Saturday, I was actually able to do a mid-day outdoor run. I did the long run to Centennial Lake, around the lake and back. It looked like a triathlon had been through there, because there was a big set up for bikes. I think it was called Iron Girl, or something, so it was probably a women’s only race. I guessed that the race must have been over because there were a lot of bikes there and there was a sign that said “run out”. Nothing seemed to actually be going on, though, so it must have been over for quite some time. Overall, I was quite happy with how this run went. It wasn’t super cool, but it was nice enough and the course was challenging. I made it through without too much of a struggle, so I felt good about that.

I got in another outdoor run on Monday. The weather was starting to get back to normal D.C. area humidity, though. It wasn’t real hot, but it was muggy, so I made it a short run.

Training Run (4.25 miles) — 8/12/2013

I decided to try some speed work on the treadmill tonight. It went okay. I did half-mile intervals. I started at 7.5, then went to 7.8 and 8.2 for the next two. I tried for 8.5 on the last one, but felt like I was slipping a bit on the treadmill. With my legs already pretty well fatigued, I didn’t want to injure myself and gave up. I think next time I try intervals, I’ll go back to my old strategy. I’ll increase speed for the first 3, then drop back for the last one. My first two were a piece of cake. My third one was good, but hard.