Saturday, September 27, 2008

Hail Petra Half Marathon

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Ten
09/22/08 - 09/28/08
Week Total: 26.1

Do we know the effect that we produce on other people? We may not. We may know the effect on our children, spouse, parents, close relatives and friends, and possibly, co-workers. But what about the rest?

Well. I am going to tell you the effect that a blogger friend had on me.

After reading her blog last week, I got some sort of inspiration to drastically change my long runs' strategy. My intervals and tempos have been awesome, but didn't know how to translate that to my long runs. They were just long and slow. I certainly was able to complete my mileage, including a 20-miler last week, but it was a dragging-feet type of situation, telling me that something else needed to be done. I love my 3-day running plan from Furman; it fits with my busy schedule and continuous traveling. I can say that thanks to Furman I am a total injury-free person, but again, how to speed up the long runs?

Well, my Brit friend Petra, who is training for Chicago after a season of some injuries, with no races in 2008, and some lack of motivation, ran on Sep 14th, the Mablethorpe Half Marathon on the Lincolnshire coast to "shake" herself. There she went, taking pictures along the race, inspired by our friend Shirley from Hawaii/Florida, she did 2:01. That was a big WOW...

After exchanging some messages with her, I made my drastic plan for my long run of the week. It was my turn "to shake myself." My plan called for a 13-miler, so perfect timing for a Half. There was a Marathon and Half on Sunday 28th, in Bellingham Bay, along the coast, 1 hour 15min from my home, but I already had committed that day with my son. As I didn't find any races on Saturday, I decided to organize my own Half. I designed the route in Harbour Point in Mukilteo and sponsored the race providing free water and GU for the participants (only one, me)!!! My son provided the gadget to measure the times and the splits. The name of the race? Hail Petra Half Marathon.

The day was perfect for a race, 61F/16C and 100% sunny. The strategy was to run 1 mile and walk 1 minute, based on Petra's similar strategy. I did that as my training last year, but my runs/walks were too blended that never got below 13:15... This year the best long run I've had was a 14.6-miler at a 12:28 pace. The rest had been always above 13:19. For the Hail Petra the mandate was to speed up.

The organizer (me) aligned the participant (me) at the start line. The crowd (me) cheered for me... Everything was about me!!!! "On your marks, get set, go", and I went. I did as I have never done before. My thoughts all along the way were just on the next mile. That was my goal, not a Half but the next mile. The split times gave me the needed mojo. Total time 2:24:43, including two stupid minutes lost at mile 7 in a water station (my car) where by mistake I left my asthma medicine, having to go back to get it.

I didn't have negative splits, but that will be part of a next strategy. The goal was achieved. I won the race (my age group, female category, overall, everything - of course I was the only one). I enjoyed it as if I was in the most official of the Half Marathons. Maybe the organizer had some leftover funds from the sponsor and can send me a medal....

Thanks Petra, you really inspired and motivated me to move my butt.

Here my splits:
Mile 1 - 10:19
Mile 2 - 10:11
Mile 3 - 10:42 (I did feel some slowness between 2 & 3)
Mile 4 - 10:50
Mile 5 - 11:07 (Between 4 & 5 there is a very steep hill)
Mile 6 - 11:09
Mile 7.1 - 11:08
Mile 8.1 - 13.25 (Lost 2+ minutes fooling around)
Mile 9.1 - 10:56 (I ordered myself to makeup for the time lost)
Mile 10.1 - 11:32 (I can't tell what happened here, I didn't notice so much difference with the previous split)
Mile 11.1 - 11:36 (It seems my body was feeling the mileage, I felt good, though)
Mile 12.1 - 11:52 (Between 11 & 12 the same very steep hill. It was hard)
Mile 13.1 - 09:56 (I happened to have Mrs. Robinson which is a 184 bpm song. Knowing that it was the last mile I ran as fast as I could)

Average pace: 11:03... This is an improvement of 1.25 ~ 2 min per mile!!!

Hail Petra!!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Eleven
09/15/08 - 09/21/08
Week Total: 30.4

Memories of "raindrops keep falling on my head", soft raindrops gently touching my face for more than four hours, sensing the nice smell of wet soil, wet bark, and wet leaves that start to change their color. All these provided me with more than two hundred delightful minutes... Last week, my long run was under a sunny and warmy day with blue skies. This week, under a rainy and coldy day with grey skies. No difference at all.

Being alive and well, sensing nature in its different manifestations, sensing my feet pounding on the ground, having the opportunity of just doing it.... No complains, "cause I'm never gonna stop the rain by complainin', because I'm free, nothin's worryin' me. "

Saturday 21st
was that typical Seattle autumn day, constant temperature throughout the day of 52F/11C, constant greyness, and constant soft showers. To run at 9am was going to be the same than at 12, than at 3pm. So I snoozed in the morning, rested in my bed for a good while, and at 11 am I decided it was time to go. A very long run was ahead of me...

I follow the intervals and tempo for the Furman advanced plan, but for the long run, I sum the mileage for both, beginners and advanced plans, divide by two and establish that distance as the minimum distance I should run. This gives me something to push for.

Last week the beginners called for 12 miles and the advanced for 18, so my goal was 15: I ran 16. This week the beginners plan called for 13 miles and the advance for 20, so my goal was 16.5. I ran the whole 20-miler.

I cried when I was feet away of my finish line as if I was about to break the ribbon. I felt so accomplished for the challenge. The challenge of running for more than four hours wet, with my wet breath thermo, my wet head, my wet face, my wet hands, my wet socks, and my wet shoes.

Raindrops keep fallin' on my head
But that doesn't mean my eyes will soon be turnin' red
Cryin's not for me
'Cause I'm never gonna stop the rain by complainin'
Because I'm free
Nothin's worryin' me

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Running Together. Not Alone, But Together

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Twelve
09/08/08 - 09/14/08
Week Total: 27.5

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Thirteen
09/01/08 - 09/07/08
Week Total: 9.0

I am logging two weeks at the same time as week thirteen was kinda busy. I only ran 9 miles. But, trust me, it didn't matter. I arrived home from California on Tue 02nd - after Labor Day - to 3 days later fly back east to the beautiful city that never sleeps: New York.

The reason was that my adorable daughter was in her way from Thailand to South America and we arranged to spend a weekend together. And guess what? For first time since getting back to running, and running alone, but together, we ran together...
not alone, but together.

Given our conditions of recent arrivals from the west coast and from the other side of the world we ran 3 very nice miles. She jumped on my bed at 7:00 am and told me: Let's go running. It was a reality.

My son and his f
iancée joined us on Sat afternoon. We got the "Hanna experience" and walked for more than 10 hours under the tropical storm ~ 5 inches of rain!!!

Following week, #12, was a complete one - mileage wise. Everything was successful. My speed work, intervals and tempo, was very good and my long run was a 16-miler by Lake Washington. The weekend in Seattle was extremely gorgeous, and the weather was just perfect. During my long run on Sunday morning, the temperature went from 62F to 69F, with a nice breeze and a perfect combination of a blue lake and a blue sky. Couldn't ask for more...

Monday, September 1, 2008

Being in Ryan's Territory. Run, Ryan, Run

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Fourteen
08/25/08 - 08/31/08
Week Total: 25.6

I started to sweat profusely just after 0.5 miles of the warm up for my weekly interval session. I didn't feel dizzy at all but certainly I felt too hot... My husband recommended me to stop, so I did. I stood for some minutes in front of the fan, and decided to do leg curls, extensions and abduction/adduction workout. No clear explanation for my extreme sweat... unless it was... a hot flash? Oh My, I am old.

On Wednesday I needed to do some short run to replace my failed interval mileage. I ran 4 miles at the beach and they were particularly slow, way slow, 13:45. This was slower than my marathon pace of 13:35... WHAT'S GOING ON? After some thought I remembered the phrase "if you always run slow you will be an expert running slow".
I've learned to keep the pace in the treadmill as I became its slave (Seattle's weather.... hot weather in the back east...) , but keeping the pace on the road has become a challenge , especially, having lost all my running gadgets. TIME TO STOP. Needed to do a further evaluation of my paces and determined them again.

Following McMillan calculator, which is a "
method that estimates your equivalent race performances using a current race time at any distance" I should be running the Marathon in 4:42:53 at a pace of 10:48, given my 9:21 for my best 5K of the year. No way... There is NO WAY I can do that. McMillan mentions that although these are estimates they are accurate. Could they be accurate for me? I only wish. But in my wishes, I decided to get more serious. My plan continues to be Furman's Marathon plan with the optimal training paces proposed by McMillan.

Friday was my trial. My plan indicated a warm up of one mile, a tempo of 5 miles, and a cool down of another mile, for a total of 7 miles. Paces? My warm up/cool down around 12 min/mile, and my long tempo at 10:15. With a "no feet dragging" as a mandate I finished the tempo at 11:24 average. I'll try to nail next tempo at 10:15, but at least this was much better than a 4-miler at 13:45.

My long run should be at 12:18. I ran a 14.6 miler at 12:28.... NOT BAD AT ALL....

For the long holiday weekend my hubby and I went to the mountains to Big Bear Lake, Ryan Hall's city of birth. Even though the Olympics ended one week ago and Ryan finished 10th, the marathon still was on the air. It was cool to be there and see the support his community gave him. Seeing banners all over town, I felt pretty happy being in Ryan's Territory. Run, Ryan, Run.

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Fifteen
08/18/08 - 08/24/08
Week Total: 15.7

Short mileage week... Traveling to SoCal... Not much to say, only that I felt heavy legs in my long run (11.5 miles), and a very slow pace... Hoping for improvement...