Sunday, March 28, 2010

The State Of Being Certain

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Six
03/22/10 - 03/28/10 - Week Total: 24.6 miles

When you follow good advices you reap the benefits. Week Seven I was off... Totally off with the exception of a Pikermi (former Half Marathon) I had registered since December. It was a good run in a tough course. I had battled the fatigue I had.

Half hour after that race I got a terrible cramp in my left leg and
Week Six didn't start good. On Monday my leg hurt badly. I was desperate thinking I could not afford more resting. Did some investigation and found that arnica is good to increase blood flow. My mother in law is a blind believer of arnica and she uses it on a regularly basis for everything. Drove 30 min to the closest natural products' store and got the arnica in gel and pills. What the heck, it would not hurt. On Tuesday I was afraid of running, and took another day off. I had battled the cramp.

Tuesday night I got up with the start of a cold. Like a drug-addict, reached my Zicam and started taking it, same with Thera-flu.
Another battle, now against the cold.

On Wed with no pain in my leg and with the cold on the leash, I went for a 6-mile run in a 69F sunny afternoon. It was an amazing run. I did intervals of 200 m (not because I needed them) but I could not run faster for longer because I had some respiratory difficulties due to the cold (cold and asthma don't make a good combo).

The week was going to be short of mileage. I didn't run on Thu or Fri because the cold, and focused on another registered race of 30K. Yes, my second-to-last long run before the marathon. The race was Birch Bay International Road Race, in Birch Bay and Blaine, WA (border with Canada), sponsored by American and Canadian companies.

My husband and I rented a cabin to combine the race with a nice getaway by the beach. We got there earlier Fri afternoon, settled in the cabin (wasn't too nice after all), and went to drive along the beach and the race course. Pretty much a flat course, with a beautiful scenery: the strait of Georgia, between Vancouver Island and the mainland Pacific Coast of British Columbia, Canada.

The cabin was located half a mile from the start/finish area, and happened to be the 5K mark and the 29K mark. Good plans for husband to see me going all cheerful with 25K ahead of me and coming all tired with 1K to go. I gave him the best scenario times when I would be running by.

Being a small town there were no hassles to pick up the packet or to park or to anything. I was sharp at opening time - 6:30 on Sat - to pick my bib number and time chip. Went back to the cabin. Had a cup of coffee, a yogurt, and a banana. Guess what was the best part? I had the cabin's bathroom all to myself. At 8:10 we left the cabin and went to the start area (race time 8:30 am). I was happy that my hubby was there with me but really nervous because the lack of mileage on my legs, the cold, and the previous cramp.

Temp 49F, overcast, no wind. Wave one - 6 to 8 min/mile - left. I was in wave two. 10 seconds, kisses to hubby, three, two, one, go.

Everything the race site said about the run, was true: "A spectacular run along the shores of scenic Birch Bay and country roads for serious and recreational runners alike. Inspiring vistas, rural roads in the early morning. A scenic 5 K and 15K along the Bay. The 15K and 30K add rolling rural roads and million dollar views. Measured course, great "A" race class event at international distances. A classic road race in every sense of the word".

Being a metric course changed somehow my perception of the distances. I didn't know if to focus in every K, or in every water station (every 3K). My first focus, for sure, was going to be the 5K mark when I would see my hubby. He was at the beach and came to me, took a picture, kissed me goodbye and took my jacket and gloves as I was already hot. Strategy after that was to stop for water at every station and power walk at 12:30 min/mile to the count of 100 steps.

We left the shore at Km 6, ran through quiet country roads, then had again the Semiahmoo Bay for our eyes to enjoy, went back again inside the country and turned around at Km 17.

At Km 20 I started to ask for an additional cup of water to pour on my face. It was mid 50's and partly sunny. After ten years in Washington State, this tropical girl is so acclimated that mid 50's is hot for her.

I ran good all the way at a steady pace. I felt so good and strong. At no moment I felt tired, or desperate or anything. The only discomfort I had was about Km 25 when the left lower back started to bother me, but it was just a 5K race now, and I was looking forward Km 29 and hubby's face.

And there he was. Waiting for me with a strawberry/banana juice. How sweet that was. I kissed him and continued. It was a one K race now.

Left the beach behind me to face a 0.1 mile tough hill before the finish line. I finished so strong and guess who was there at the finish line. Hubby. I got my medal and hugged him and cried (A LOT).

30K (18.6 miles) is not an easy distance. But after a fatigue diagnosis and the proper rest, I overcame the major hurdles I've had this training season. I still have a 20 miler in 2 weeks, but I know I am ready for Eugene.

I definitely went from
staleness, to independence, to The State Of Being Certain.

Time: 3:31:01 - Pace 11:20 min/mile
Mile 1: 10:17
Mile 2: 10:36
Mile 3: 10:41
Mile 4: 11:03
Mile 5: 11:12
Mile 6: 11:17
Mile 7: 11:01
Mile 8: 11:36
Mile 9: 11:18
Mile 10: 11:40
Mile 11: 11:23
Mile 12: 11:33
Mile 13: 10:55
Mile 14: 11:23
Mile 15: 11:24
Mile 16: 11:49
Mile 17: 11:31
Mile 18: 11:53
Mile 18.6: 8:21

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Pikermi With Toto, Anyone?

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Seven
03/15/10 - 03/21/10 - Week Total: measly 13.1 miles

My last week's state of independence plus wise advices dictated to take the week off. I tried last week and it didn't work, so I had to do it this week. The level of fatigue increased from day to day to the point that I couldn't go to work on Wednesday. I was sick (and tired!!!). I dragged my body from bed to the couch and viceversa for 12 hours. And for a non-TV watcher that was sort of a punishment. On Thursday, not yet feeling well, I went to work as I thought that the TV would devour my brain.

So, the only run of the week was a Pikermi (former Half Marathon)
in Mercer Island, WA which registration occurred back in December.

I have been in the island a couple of times, but never hung around enough to really know it. The periphery is pretty much the race distance, so I thought ideal to run around a whole island with the wonderful Lake Washington scenery at my feet.


I read and was told that was a challenging rolling course, but after running Seattle, I couldn't imagine that it could be worst than that.

I was wrong!


Would you call this a hilly course? I'd call it a brutal one. Check miles 5 to 6, 8 to 9, 11 to 12. And what about the last stretch to the finish line? So much for attempting a Mc Millan Fast Finish Long Run that calls for the last 3 miles at 10K pace.

Going down hill didn't help either.
From mile 10 to 11 you needed to hold your legs to avoid screaming quads.

After this adventure in the precious Pacific Northwest I wonder... how does it feel to run in Kansas?. A Pikermi With Toto, Anyone?

Time 2:30:58 for a pace of 11:31 min/mile. I attacked the hills pretty solid up to a HR of 182 (max 186), but they were still... hills!

The splits pretty much describe the rolling course!!!

Mile 1 - 10:44
Mile 2 - 11:19
Mile 3 - 10:55
Mile 4 - 11:21
Mile 5 - 10:55
Mile 6 - 12:11
Mile 7 - 11:31
Mile 8 - 11:56
Mile 9 - 11:35
Mile 10 - 12:45
Mile 11 - 10:53
Mile 12 - 12:17
Mile 13 - 11:56

Sunday, March 14, 2010

From State Of Staleness To State Of Independence

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Eight
03/08/10 - 03/14/10 - Week Total: 26 miles

To say that I am over-trained could be over the top, but if my logic works, and I am not strong enough, I could be over-trained even if I only run between 30-40 mpw. Or, I am just and simply tired.

At week 8 of my training I am completely fatigued. After reading some scientific studies I diagnosed myself with a state of staleness, mentally and physically. For that, I decided to rest Mon and Tue, to see how I felt on Wed. Plan called for intervals, but I broke up with my plans, my discipline, and my routine, and I went, in a windy but sunny day, for a 6-mile run trying to hit a good pace. I managed the run at my easy pace, but felt like a hard run.

After much thought on Wed night, I decided to take the rest of the week off. No runs whatsoever. Log my already 6 miles and so be it. The mandate was not to feel guilty about it. The long run for the week was a 20 miler and I was ready to ditch it. On Thursday night I was happy with my decision, to the point that I started to feel more mentally relaxed. It was like if I had removed a heavy burden from my shoulders. My night's thoughts started to evaluate the possibility of running "free" the days left in the week. Free meaning without following the plan but
to still log some mileage. Maybe 6 miles each day (Fri/Sat/Sun)?

I woke up on Friday enthusiastic for work and with the open possibility of a run afterward. Back home, I thought about the 20-miler... nah... I put my jammies on (2 pm), and went to the kitchen to prepare a chicken for Saturday. Garlic, onion, red pepper, green pepper, lime juice, Marsala wine, cilantro, salt and pepper. Blender. I could drink that thing. While rubbing the chicken, it
started to rain heavily with 20mph wind. Then, it was sleeting at 45 degrees, and with a smile in my face I looked through the window and felt good!.

After washing my hands I laid down in front of the fireplace and in a peaceful state of independence I fell asleep. State of life, may I live, may I love...This sense of freedom derives from a meditative state... Jon & Vangelis. I've made peace with myself.
No plan dictating me what to do, relaxing on a Fri afternoon in a gray, rainy and cold day, feeling the warmth of my home.

A crispy Sat morning at 45F/7C, and partly sunny, called for a run. Whatever the distance, whatever the pace.

13.7 miles at a recovery pace. Stopped
(possible DNF in Eugene?) and laid down on the grass of a beautiful home with the gorgeous blue sound in front of me. My legs? Dead on the sidewalk. My ceiling? The sky. The clouds? Moving fast. The sun? Warming up. The Quest? Through my senses. The message? To reach the unreachable star. The tears? In my eyes.

April's RW
Mind+Body talked about this. "Stretch, take a drink, and start again", but I hadn't yet read it and went back home. Walked/jogged for 0.7 miles, and called hubby to pick me up. Sunday another easy yet hard 5.4-mile run.

The week ended with 26 miles. Things continued to be stalled and not looking good for Eugene, but I ran a peaceful road, the road From State Of Staleness To State Of Independence.

BTW, the chicken came out delish!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Who Can Say Where The Road Goes?

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Nine
03/01/10 - 03/07/10 - Week Total: 30.1 miles

I have never seen her, but I know how she looks.
I have never talked to her, but I know how her voice sounds.
I have never met her, but I know she is a friend.
I have never run with her... but I have.

When I came back to the long distance odyssey, the only runner I knew of was Ryan Hall. He had quite a few advantages over me. First, he was a male. Second, he was young. Third, he was elite. Given that, to measure my performance with his was a little unfair, not to mention, off. And while starting to understand my baseline, I started to know common mortals in this endeavor. Ones faster than others, but definitely mortals, not Hall.

And these mortals became my friends, my blogger friends. Some write once in a while, some quit blogging, some disliked me through the journey and left, some are always there. And for those, a handful of'em, I am grateful.

Each relationship fills different aspects of my journey in particular ways. But all come with words of joy and wisdom when needed, after a successful week, a discouraging run or a battle at life. And a run with each of them would be a blessing and something I long for.

As these runs are not likely to be attained, Chris takes me with her for a run after me having a bad 13.1. 3,000 miles away, recording her whereabouts and open thoughts, for me to feel she is running at my side. And just the thought that she is doing that to help me out, widens my heart with gratitude while a melancholic song asks Who Can Say Where The Road Goes?

And the answer isn't time, or a sub-5, or 27 minutes.
The road goes wherever I want it to go. The answer is in my feet, my heart, and my soul understanding the meaning of the road. The road I run for too many reasons better than time. The road of freedom. The road of long distance running.