Saturday, March 26, 2011

Didn't I Nail It?

I have been clueless about what my next marathon pace (MP) would be and really haven’t cared much. Rational: I am very happy with my current training. My goal is to run better without getting concerned on the measure of “better”, and I know that in just 7 weeks, I am running way better!!!

But being 8 weeks from Coeur D’Alene Marathon, I felt the need to have some idea on what my MP would be. My current plan calls for similar long runs than Furman’s, which establishes the paces a run should be done. I decided to use my great Mercer Island results from last week to do the reverse calculations. For the same week than Mercer, Furman called for a 13-miler at MP  + 15 seconds. As I did that race in 10:21, my MP, according to the formula, is 10:06.  Though it seemed a really ambitious MP, I decided to stick to that number.

Plan for this weekend was Birch Bay 30K race (18.6 miles). Furman has an 18-miler at MP + 30. According to MP of 10:06, I should run the 30K race at 10:36, for a finish of 3:17:30. Though I had this number as a not-to-exceed finish time, my primary goal was to run freely at the pace my body dictated. And I ran that way. I had a good idea of how I was running as I passed every K mark and had a watch to tell me how long I have been running for that distance, but other than that I never really knew what pace I was running.

With a course divided in Ks, my race segments where one K at a time. And because they are shorter than segments of one mile, the time flew faster. I had a solid run, I was strong all the way, never felt bad, and nothing went wrong.

I crossed the finish line in 3:16:05 for a 10:32 pace. A 15-min PR. Didn't I Nail It? 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

This Is A Cliché, But Hills Are Your Best Friends

How do you train your hills if you happen to spend your week in SoCal?

In the treadmill.

Though I definitely prefer my chuckit hills, the treadmill alternative was not too bad. 6% incline, 3 sets of 3 reps - 0.15 miles. Easy at 10:50, moderate at 9:30, hard at 8:30. Reps 8th and 9th at 7% at 9:30 and 8:10 respectively. Not bad.

On Thursday my legs feel bad. Monica is coming out of a cold. The run is slow, though not as bad as could’ve been.

Sunday, Mercer Island, a hilly course, I dare to say one of the hilliest in Western Washington... When you get to mile 11, you just look at the hill, and ask, seriously? It’s a loooong and horrendous hill waiting for you… and the final stretch to the finish line… another hill, short though.

But... as Seattleites we don’t have too much option but training on hilly streets so the course profile doesn’t look as bad as in paper.

And... We work hard hills, we work with Chuck, he trains us for this…. 

Then... We rip the benefits in a course like this. All of us had an amazing race. Monica, Nikki and Annabelle, all PRd (1:55; 1:47 and 1:54 respectively). I was one minute shy of my PR for a 2:15, a 10:21 min/mile… in this course, seriously?

I have to say it. I have to: This Is A Cliche, But Hills Are Your Best Friends.

Mercer Island. Perimeter: Half Marathon!

Mercer Island Profile... How do you like it?
Nikki... where are my safety pins?


Annabelle and Lizzie chomping
We, four.... A successful race!!!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Leprechauns Don’t Run Too Far

There was not a single race available this weekend, for distances 13.1 miles and above. From the Canadian border to South Olympia all runs were 5Ks dedicated to St. Patty, being Joint Base Lewis McChord, JBLM, the only offering also a 10K. This translated to: I am on my own for my long run.

Plan A was to run on Friday the 13-miler at whatever pace my body dictates.  Plan B was to run the 10K @ JBLM, and 7 additional miles either before, after or both.  The plan C was to run the ~6K in another St. Patty’s in Seattle and 9 additional miles either before, after or both.  Plan D was not to do a long run at all.

I had a lot to do at the office on Friday as I have to fly to So Cal on Monday. I got home at 5:30. A 13-miler would’ve been miserable in the rain, cold and dark, especially when my long runs are slow and l-o-o-o-ong if alone. In addition I was sore for my week’s workouts. On Tuesday I had brutal hills repeats. 3 reps of 3 sets easy/moderate/hard. I stuck with Monica, Nikki and Annabelle. They are very fast for me, so I needed to give everything I had to see what my limits were. I did. After rep 6 I was about to puke. However, the highlight of the workout was rep 9. I took off running all-out trying to avoid that Monica closed the gap between us. It was a race, but not because I wanted to beat her, but because I knew, that as long as I had her breathing on my neck, I had strength. As soon as she passed me, I was done. Fortunately this happened getting to the top. We ran that hill at 8:10 min/mile. Success!!! Between this workout and Thursday’s workout of 8-100m strides @ 7:30 min/mile I didn’t want to drag myself in a solitaire misery. Plan A failed.  

On Saturday I drove a bunch of miles again, this time South to JBLM in a pouring rain day. Started my Plan B, running some miles before the race. I was very enthusiastic, but I was bothered with something, legs felt like lead and, as I was getting further from the start line, I was getting nervous that I didn’t have enough time to come back. I thought the 10K itself was going to be horrible and I only logged 1.8 miles pre-race.

The gun is shot and here I go, running in a way that had nothing to do with the previous 1.8 miles. The Ks are flying and, at the 5K mark I noticed that I am possibly PRing. At 7K I know that the PR is a fact, but I also know that I finally have the chance to break the hour. A goal that I have wanted for more than a year. 8K, 9K, finish line. Soaked to my bones I clocked 57:58, a PR by 2:30 minutes. Got 3rd in the division, and because continued downpouring, Plan B was out of the question.

Now, thanks again to the girls for the hills push and to Coach, who, indeed lectured me this week but for different reasons. He cannot be anonymous Coach any longer. He shall be Chuck, and, not only Chuck, he has to be, and everytime I mention everything related to him has to be linked. So, from now on, Coach is Chuck, and Chuck is

I also stand corrected. “The Intimidator” told me “I felt bad after reading the blog. And BTW, nobody was running 5:30 min/mile”. No? I asked. How fast? 5:50… Ah OK!!!!  I want “The Intimidator” to know that if I call him like that is as a compliment and never because I feel he does it in purpose!!!

So Plan C is still available and I decided to log the miles after the St. Patty’s Dash. A massive race of an odd distance of 3.8 miles / 6.1 K, where la crème de la crème,  the best Western Washington runners participate. Though under constant rain, I ran a good race at 9:09 min/mile for a 34:44. As I saw my boss running with a keg (yes, a keg), I decided to wait for him. In the meantime a friend invited to have breakfast. Raining, beer, food, excuses... What the heck. After a fantastic speedy week with hills reps, strides, 10K, & 6K, I went for Plan D. No long run at all.

Chuck, forgive me this one. The blame is to the Leprechauns. Leprechauns Don't Run Too Far. 

10K @ JBLM
10K @ JBLM
10K @ JBLM
3.8 Miles St. Patty's Dash, Seattle
3.8 Miles St. Patty's Dash, Seattle- Boss and buddy carried a keg. They pass it to each other every minute.
3.8 Miles St. Patty's Dash, Seattle- Boss and buddy carried a keg. They pass it to each other every minute.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Coach, Will You Lecture Me?

This past Tuesday, we (coach's team) had our 2-mile time trial. It is pretty much 'a race' every first Tuesday of the month that permits coach to measure progress. My expectations were to clock 17:00 minutes. I clocked 17:44 for a 8:52 min/mile pace. I will not blame it on the muddy track, or on the intimidating 5:30 min/mile runners that yelled "left" for me to move to the outside lanes, for them to pass me on the inside lane. I credited to me not being able to run 8:30 min/mile. Not big deal. First time trial.

On Thursday, I went for a 5-miler with running partner Monica. We ran at 10:15 min/mile average in a course where I was able to chew a most horrendous hill. Two weeks ago, the hill chewed me.  I thank Monica for this run. If not for her, I would not leave the comfort of my home on a dark, windy and cold night. If not for her, after chewing the hill, I would've stopped and asked for a ride. After our awesome run, we talked about our upcoming long run on the weekend. We both had the same plan: 11 miles with 6 miles at race pace. What my race pace was going to be, I wasn't sure, but for a 4:45 marathon it would be around 10:50 pace. Monica said, "no way. You just did easy a 10:15. Shoot for 10:30. If you don't do 10:30 I would be disappointed".

OK, 10:30 it is.

Saturday came along and I drove again 100 miles up North, border with Canada, for a race; Run for a honeywagon (yes, as fancy as it sounds!!!). My strategy was  to run 2-3 miles as a warm-up at 10:50ish and then drop to 10:30 for 6-miles. The rest would be run at a leisured pace. Ready, set, go.

From a fast start, it normally takes me a quarter / half mile to set up the pace. Half mile arrived and I was going at 9:40, tried to slow down, but my body simply couldn't do it. Second mile same thing. Body was very comfortable at that pace. At mile 2.75 I decided to change the strategy. To split the race in two 10K with a mile of recovery in between, being the first 10K the one ran at race pace. When I finished mile 6 at 59:54, pretty much a 10 min/mile, I couldn't be happier. Monica, you haven't been disappointed!

My body didn't let me stop at mile 6, and I kept the same pace. Mile 7. 1:10:14, still ~10:00 min/mile. Then I stopped for water, GU chomps and to slow down. I took it easy for miles 8 and 9 as coach was whispering in my ear: You don't race!

At mile 9 I see this guy that had the same bright yellow Seattle Marathon 2007 shirt that I was wearing. He goes: Hey! my shirt partner... We talked for a while and at mile 10 I checked my watch and told him and his runner partner: Good bye, I have a PR in my pocket. I felt strong as Hulk and knowing myself, I was sure that nothing could be in my way for the 3 miles left. We turned South and then THE wind surprised me. Headwind. What could go wrong? Yellow-shirt-guy running partner reached me, and told me: you're gonna get it, right? She was running at a good pace, and I asked if she didn't mind if I piggyback on her. Of course not. I stuck with her. With wind and all, we were running at a good pace. She told me that she would speed off to turnaround at mile 13 to come back for her running partner - the yellow-shirt-guy. At mile 12 I gave her thanks, and she left. My last mile is often the best, but I was not planning on forcing it to her pace. The PR was a sure thing. I couldn't believe how strong I felt. At mile 13 'gonna fly now'. I sprinted at 7:50 and crossed the finish line at 2:14:15 (10:15 pace), a PR by 4 minutes.

I gotta thank Coach and Monica for this. Though it's my achievement, they were behind it. I felt good, strong, my breathing was in harmony, my legs were never tired and I didn't suffer, but I "may" have raced the race... Coach, Will You Lecture Me?

Co-worker Pablo Cabrera who clocked 1:35

Running blessings: After the race, met sister-in-law, her husband, grandkid and her beautiful daughter who ran a 1:57 race getting a PR by 8 minutes.

Bellingham Bay

With sister-in-law Linda. We had a wonderful time catching up.