Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Freedom Of Running By Feel

I’ve fallen behind in my blog posting. Reason? No idea, but I did. So I will just briefly account that I started my endurance training for Boston logging good mileage. I started my running commute with about 10 miles in the morning and 5 in the afternoon and no surprise to anyone that I have kept racing as much as I can: A couple of short races for speed work, and a trilogy of Half Marathons.

A day after my birthday I ran my first race being 56 years old: 5K Green Lake Gobble in 23:33 for a 7:35 min/mile. I was very pleased because I had not done any speed work in the last 2 months. I got 3rd place, and all the rain my body could soak. I have run this race the last four years and I love it. 

Then I went for three Half Marathons during the Thanksgiving Holidays. They were part of the Quadzilla/Quadzuki but I skipped Friday’s run which was a muddy and technical trail run. Not for me. The first race was on Thanksgiving Thursday: Wittle Waddle Half Marathon. I had a good run, clocking 1:54 and giving thanks for life, family, running, and hugging friends! Race started in Gas Works Park and was run on Burke-Gilman trail.

On Saturday I ran the Seattle Ghost which is run in the original Seattle Marathon's course. This race was beyond fantastic. It was my Half Marathon # 80 and I clocked 1:53. I confirmed once again that running is definitely magical, but more magical when shared and lived with amazing friends. The race goes along Lake Washington Boulevard. I know so well every inch of this course as I ran all my long runs there, back in 2007 when I prepared for my first marathon ever. The post-race party was a delight, and my friends and I took the advantage of the cold water to get a soak of our tired legs, while having beer or chicken soup! It was indeed an amazing party.

And on Sunday Nov 27, my favorite race: Seattle. On a day like this, Nov 25, 2007, 5 years ago, thanks to my daughter Alejandra, I ran my first marathon: Seattle Marathon. On the same very weekend, in 2009, I ran my first Half: Seattle HM. Today, I was proud to cross this finish line again, a line that means the world to me. My HM #81, the third on the weekend: 1:54:34 and 4th place in my division. I was very happy to run very consistently the three races. 1:54, 1:53 and 1:54. A great Thanksgiving running feast. 

Thanks to my son Diego who's made the tradition to be at this finish line for me.

Seattle Splits:
1- 8:57
2- 8:48
3- 9:03
4- 8:58
5- 8:49
6- 8:22
7- 8:33
8- 9:31 (can you spell Madison?)
9- 8:38
10- 8:40
11- 8:28
12- 8:41
13- 8:16
13.1- 0:49 (8:10)

On December 8th I ran Christmas Rush 10K. I went to run as hard as I could, and honestly I didn’t expect that the hard run was going to be my best (time-wise). Again, I haven’t started speed work. My pleasant surprise is that my hard was also my best. I PRd by 33 seconds and got 3rd place in the division: 47:50 - 7:42 min/mile. I wrapped that PR as a gift for my Alejandra, my daughter's birthday, and many, many thanks to my Diego, for being there in the home stretch, and for his company, and the coffee... and the jokes...and the laugh, and the pictures... and the jacket... and just for being my son.

1- 7:42  -
2- 7:46
3- 7:48
4- 7:39
5- 7:41
6- 7:45
6.2 - 7:15

I would like to close saying that I am at the point where running is definitely embedded in me. I dropped pace monitor, music, heart rate monitor. I don’t know what pace I am running in a race but after the fact when I lap my chronometer as I run by the mile marker. If the race doesn’t have mile markers I simply don’t know how I am doing or what my splits were. I appreciate having gone through all the steps and phases of running with different gadgets because thanks to them and to the analysis of the numbers I learned how my body performed in every different circumstance. Now I am gadget-less. The three Thanksgiving Half Marathons and yesterday’s 10K, with so consistent splits, tells me how my body understands it now. I am very happy. I feel freedom. The Freedom Of Running By Feel.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Whole Month Off

I went into “no formal training” mode after St. George, UT. No speed work, no hills sprints, no tempo, just running for fun. Shorter weekly runs and my regular weekend Half Marathons, for a total of 4 HMs during the break.

#75 Poulsbo, an account of that race can be found here.

#76 Snohomish River Run Half Marathon, 10/27/12. Nice, cold and wet run. Though I went for a Personal Record (to better 1:45:22) I couldn't get it, I couldn't run faster. I got 1:48:33 (my 6th best). The race was fantastic and I got 1st place in my division and a large beer stein for trophy. 

The vertical lines in the picture are, yes, rain. Last 2 miles were Capital City type of pouring rain.
This race was run with 2 women in my heart: Jen, who rang the bell on Oct 25, (finished her chemo in her fight against breast cancer) and BethAnn who will be running Marine Corps Marathon while battling brain cancer. BethAnn has endured 2 major brain surgeries and is scheduled for a third next year. Her cancer has spread to her bladder, bringing on several more surgeries, and now she fears that she has a tumor near her larynx. This tumor was discovered a few weeks ago before she left for Kona IRONMAN which she successfully finished two weeks ago !!!

These are the type of role models in my LIFE! God Bless Jen and BethAnn.

#77 In Unity We Run Half Marathon 11/03/12, Green River Trail, Kent, WA - 1:50:27. - For first time ever I ran in a pack that stuck together for the whole run: Eric Hanson, Karlee Coble, Charles Finn and me (we were the front pack, with only one guy way ahead of us). After we crossed the finish line, led by Eric (who was second overall), Karlee and Charles continued to complete a marathon. Karlee got first female overall in the marathon with 3:56:18. I got first place female overall and third place overall.

Noteworthy to mention that we were off course for a couple of times, and we had to stop several times to figure out where the course was and return/come back. If I would've been alone, I'd probably still be running.
The picture was taken at 7:30 am... yes, it is that dark in the morning...
 #78 Veterans First Call 11/10/12, Sammamish River Trail, Bothell, WA – 1:58:38. Very tough run for me. I used the inhaler about 10 times the first two miles, then asthma settled. Too cold weather (30F) + asthma + running: Tough combo. Covering my nose and mouth with an ear-band helped me to reduce the likelihood of an asthma attack. You can't imagine all the weird looks I got from most runners... Thanks to all Vets for your service. MANY THANKS! I got 1st place in my division, 6th female overall. 

And this is how my running-break looked. A Whole Month Off.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

I ran a couple of short runs after my St. George marathon and felt fantastic. My quads were never sore after the 3,000-ft decline race, and my calves felt the effect just a tad. My conclusion is that my legs’ training was perfect: hills sprints, high-speed downhills every three/four days, legs extensions at the gym three times a week. All paid off.

I was ready for a race comeback as I honestly believe I couldn’t race my marathon, I simply ran it. I had Poulsbo Half Marathon scheduled for the week after the marathon which was part of the Silver Strider Grand Prix. I needed the run for my hunt of the Half Fanatics Sun status by February. However, I was hesitant of running it as my brother Freddy, who I haven’t seen for 9 years, was coming to town with his wife, Nelly. As one of his main hobbies is photography and that’s what he wanted to do during his 10-day stay, I found the way to make it work. I told him: “I have a race in a town founded by Norwegians that is really pretty. If you want to come with me you need to get up very early, we'll leave at 4ish and drive around the Sound (the ferries don’t start early enough). While I run you can wander around downtown; then we can visit Chief Seattle’s grave located just minutes from the race, and take the ferry back home”.  He, as a very easygoing person, said: YES.

So, that’s what we did. We left about 4:45 am, drove down South to Tacoma and back North to Poulsbo, all along Puget Sound.  The memories I had from this race were a long and hilly 20-miler run I had to do in my preparation for New York marathon in 2010. I remember I ran the Half, grabbed my medal and continued the marathon course for 7 more miles, but it was so hilly that I turned around at some point and to finish the 20 miles I ran the last mile in the school parking lot for my entertainment and pain. This time those 7 miles were not scheduled!

My brother Freddy and I before the start of 2012 Poulsbo Half Marathon
The course was changed since the last time I ran it. We had to do a loop, twice around the school what I found annoying. Then we went on the course I remembered. The run was good with its hills up and down. When we approached downtown I was hoping to see my brother and indeed he was there. He took a picture of me, and it was so nice seeing him there. 

I continued through more hills with gorgeous scenery. The last 2 miles were uphill; I was running slower than my pace because I was definitely feeling the tiredness from my marathon, but I felt strong. I never felt spent, or exhausted. I had a great race. I clocked 1:55:52, and my brother was there to capture the moment. I placed 4th in the 50-59 division but as the three first ladies were 50 and 51, I captured the 10 points given to the 1st place in the 55 division for the Silver Strider Grand Prix. 

From there we visit Chief Seattle’s grave (Chief Sealth) to pay our respects and then took the ferry in Kingston to Edmonds just a 20 min drive home.
Chief Seattle "Sealth" grave in Suquamish, WA
SEALTH (SEATTLE), Chief of the Suquampsh and allied tribes. Died June 7, 1866. The firm friend of the whites and for him the City of Seattle was named by its founders. Baptismal name, Noah Sealth, Age probably 80 years.
The rest of the week was awesome. I still had my early runs and during the day we did visits around town where Freddy shot thousands (literally) of pictures: Seattle downtown, Pike Place Market, Queen Ann neighborhood, our beautiful Needle, the EMP, Shilshole, Ballard, Fremont,  Gas Works, Lake Union, Lake Washington, UW Campus, Sammamish River Trail, Woodinville Wineries, Mukilteo Lighthouse and beach; Mount Rainier National Park. He and Nelly also had the opportunity to visit with my son Diego, and know my granddaughter Peyton.

I decided to skip Salty’s, the following weekend's race. My brother was leaving that very night and though he would’ve loved to photograph Alki and Seattle from the west side, we decided to spend the whole day with my hubby and a nice lunch at home. The vacation ended with a large file of beautiful memories (and pictures). We drove to the airport without missing on our way, the memorial of our great Jimi Hendrix. 

I love when everything can be combined to make everybody happy: racing, tourism, photography, history, traveling through the Sound on water, visit our natural massive monument Mt. Rainier; in short, to enjoy the magnificent nature of the Pacific Northwest. All this was possible because He Ain't Heavy, He Is My Brother. 
The menu: Ivar's Clam Chowder as first course, followed by a nice Flat Iron Steak cooked by my adorable Hubby, accompanied by a nice radicchio salad from my garden and garlic bread.... and WINE!!!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bouquet Of Goals

I trained for St. George Marathon like nobody’s business which would be my first attempt to qualify for Boston. It was the hardest training of my life so far: 3 months with 640 miles / 1024 Km; 12 tune-up Half Marathons; one 10-mile race; one 10K; and two 5K. Three months that told me I was in excellent shape. With the course profile and my tune-up races results (1:45 for the HM, 48:23 for the 10K, and 23:08 for the 5K) I designed the strategy for my 10th marathon, my 8th state in my 50-state quest, St George, UT race.

There were endless indications and St. George profile’s formulas that could be used to establish the pace per mile: from the slight decline at the start, to the hard and steep incline at Veyo; from the rolling hills, and the “brutal” downhills (they were not brutal at all, at least for me that trained hard downhills).

I knew several runners that had run it and all their splits were consistent with the above description, so, I had calculated that my first 7 miles will be around 8:20-8:25 min/mile, Veyo around 9; rolling hills around 8:40, and the back half in the low 8’s with under 8’s for the so called “brutal” down hills, which I consider I have mastered. I had an excellent downhill training mimicking many times these hills, and I knew I had good quads for this event.

I left Seattle on Friday morning to St. George via Salt Lake City. The flights were uneventful and the airplane SLC-STG was a 48-seat regional jet where half of the travelers were marathon runners. Conversations started, strategies shared, and excitement was boosted.

I joined 3 runners in the airport to go directly to the Expo (taxis were absent and not available, so rental car is recommended). Once at the expo we parted our ways; I grabbed my packet, bought a handful of GUs and called a taxi to take me to my bed & breakfast, Seven Wives Inn (go figure, is Utah).

It was 2 pm and I sat on the balcony to enjoy the B&B garden view while having my lunch: pasta with a touch of milk, a mound of parmigiano reggiano cheese, and a couple of fruits (I take the meals with me if I travel the day before the race so I don't have to deal with restaurants.)

I took a 2-hour nap, and at 5 pm I took a shower and arranged my running gear. I lied down again to watch a movie; those kind of movies that are irrelevant, nothing to think about.  I just wanted to be on that relaxing stage where nothing but my rest matters. At 7 I had my second load of pasta not because I am carboloading, but because this is my menu almost 365 days a year; nothing more simpler than that. Boring, could be, but simple! After this I went to sleep. Took me a while, but I know the sleep the night before the race is not the key. The key is the cummulative rest that I’ve had the week prior to the marathon.

The B&B (good place to stay if all hotels by the finish area are booked) had breakfast bags arranged for all runners and left in the fridge at 4 am to grab & go. A yogurt, a home made granola bar, a protein bar, a banana, and water or juice. I also prepared my personal oatmeal which I usually eat 2 hours before the race. I joined a couple of runners at 4:30 am and rode with them to the shuttle area (1 mile from the B&B) where we were going to be bused to Central, UT, 26.2 miles away. I had my oatmeal at 4:45 am while riding in the bus, and chatting with guy sitting next to me. He was local and had run this race many times, and confirmed my plan was totally in-sync with the course profile.

There were at least 50 bonfires for runners to stay warm. I walked around, talked to runners, took some pictures, porta-potties a few times, and left my gear bag at the U-haul truck.

From there to the start line where we were set to go. I had a disposable flashlight for the first mile as I was told it was pitch dark but there was enough moon and it was not too bad. I set my pace to a comfortable start with the caveat that it was not comfortable. I felt my chest tight and I had a minor difficulty to breath. I knew it wasn’t asthma but I was not able to breath smoothly. This mile was a slight downhill and I felt my legs so heavy that I thought I was running uphill. I had trouble lifting them. Did I taper too much? What was going on? When I hit the mile marker I was in 9:08 what concerned me a little. In none of my plans 9 min/mile was considered with the exception of Veyo climb.  During the 2nd mile I still had trouble breathing. I thought that probably I had a beginning of a cold therefore my chest was tight. 2nd mile was 8:58. During mile 3 though my legs still felt heavy, my breathing improved; I felt much better, and then is when I realized that altitude hit me. Definitely that was; my chest lighten up, I felt more secure and continued my run trying to convince my legs that they would be fine. However, they were still heavy and I told to myself “I will never taper that much again.” I felt like if I had not run in 6 months, and I was only in mile 3 with no challenges yet.

Paces were improving as planned but only because the course profile; my legs were not collaborating. Then Veyo climb approached. This is a hard hill even for Seattleites. I went as planned, shortening my stride, running at moderate pace to not blow it. It’s early in the race, and this is where the race is lost if trying to keep the pace that you bring from the downhill section. My pace was not what I expected. During my training I was doing 8:40-8:50 in hard uphills back home. Now I was doing 9:40. With that 9:40 on Veyo, I thought that my goals were out of reach. Veyo is a 500-foot climb in one mile. When I finished Veyo, I was done. I felt like puking, and I wanted to quit. I was not in my natural “good feeling” state. I haven’t run anything extremely difficult, I was just in the first third of the race and I felt absolutely spent. Big Sur climb was similar with headwinds, further in the race (mile 10) and though it was hard, I never felt spent. Though I had strategies for every mile, I decided to follow my overall strategy. Do first half in max 1:55 and the back half same pace or faster, as most everybody recognizes that is a negative splits course. That would put me in my main ulterior goal of 3:50.
My mind started to send negative messages. During the super smooth rolling hills from 8 to 12 I felt miserable. At mile 10 the same negative feeling of quitting was all over me. I started to feel desperate. At mile 12 things improve when the downhills section was ahead of me. I hit the half mark in 1:56. I thought if the negative splits were true, I still had a good chance to keep my goals in mind, but though my paces improved I never felt well. At mile 17 I just pulled over to the side of the road and was very close to puke again. Unsuccessful. I talked to myself. What do you want to do? Do you want to quit? The answer was yes. Then I saw myself getting a ride. Then I saw Petra, my dear Brit friend, running Berlin in 2010. I pictured her at the exact mile I was, 17, shivering, wrapped in a blanket inside a medical tent. I pictured her all discouraged because she was shooting for Boston as well, and she was about to DNF. Then I saw her standing up, and kept going. Then I saw her qualifying for Boston. I was not at that level of discomfort, I was not shivering, and I was not in need of a medical tent. I was in need of a BQ. From that moment the quit feeling was gone but not how I felt.

As the miles went, my goals started to be thrown out of the window. I threw away the 3:5ish, and held tight to the 4:00 and lastly to 4:10, my BQ. When I crossed the 30K at 2:48 I had some hopes but then mile 20 was at 3 hours even. I had 60 minutes to pull a 10K if I still want a sub-four. Gosh, my 10K is 48 minutes fresh and I was doubting I could run it now in one-hour. I pushed the pace and ran an 8:11, but when you are going downhill, the slight flat, or uphill becomes a mountain. I clocked a 10:10 in mile 22. Orders given, back to the 8ish. At mile 23 I was in 3:27. I had 33 min to pull a 5K plus 0.1 mile. Could sound easy, but we seasoned marathoners know that nothing is a given. I pushed as I could and ran mile 24, a blessed downhill in 8:42. A fan by the road screamed: “Lizzie you are just 2 miles away, and this is the last downhill. The rest is flat.”. I didn’t want to hear that, I needed gravity to help me. Flats sections were mountains since I started because my legs didn’t play ball at all with me during the whole race. For the last 2 miles I knew I had Boston in my pocket; in my first try. I knew as well I had the sub-four. I would have to collapse for not getting it and I was not in so bad shape. I think my mind was blurry during this stretch. Then I hit mile 26 and I was in 3:54:55. I have 0.2 miles to go. I did it, I did it. I saw the finish line. I crossed it, it’s 3:56:39. I stood underneath the mist showers. I stayed there. I kissed Utah’s ground. The guy that put my medal on hugged me tight because I was crying heavily with one picture in my head: Myself crossing Seattle’s Marathon finish line 5 years ago, in 2007 in 5:54. My kids were in my mind; the words my beautiful daughter Alejandra told me before the race were resonating,"Mom, with faith you can move mountains. With doubt you only create them." She had so much faith in me; my adorable Hubby Randy who endures my "disappearances" every weekend to go to races. Michelle who was fundamental in my training, and Petra, because her Berlin experience helped me to keep moving. Mind over matter. Mind over matter. Everything is possible.

I had a wonderful list of goals to shoot for and I knew they were possible. I achieved most of my goals; some were lofty but with the training and information I had I knew they were achievable. I trusted my training and I trusted myself. Elevation hit me hard, and those are the variables we can’t control, but without the training I had I would have not been able to attain most of the flowers in my Bouquet Of Goals.

1) Conquer Utah (i.e.: Finish) - Checked
2) PR (Under 4:35:13) - Checked
3) Get a BQ (4:10:00) - Checked
4) Get time to spare for Boston registration 2nd week (4:00) - Checked
5) Sub-four - Checked
6) Position me on the top 10 for 2012 in Washington State - Checked
7) Get time to spare for Boston registration 1st week (10 min or more time to spare) – Checked. As 2013 was not sold out I could get a spot in 2013.
8) Place on the top 8 in the marathon (around 3:50) (awards went to top 8) – Nope -   Placed 11th out of 97.
9) Place on the top 5 in the race (around 3:45) - Nope
10) Position me on the top 3 for 2012 in Washington State (under 3:33:10) – Nope
1- 9:08
2- 8:58
3- 8:10
4- 8:24
5- 8:20
6- 8:00
7- 8:03
8- 9:40
9- 9:33
10- 9:05
11- 9:42
12- 9:22
13- 8:51
14- 8:59
15- 8:21
16- 8:38
17- 8:54
18- 9:47
19- 10:35
20- 10:08
21- 8:11
22- 10:10
23- 8:36
24- 8:42
25- 9:18
26- 9:07
26.2- 1:46 (8:45)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Let's Race The Race

Week 1 - Phase IV - Core Workout: REST
10/01/12 - 10/05/12 - Pre-race

My 50-state skirt with 7 stars (bottom-right corner) representing the conquered states... Utah will be my 8th state
I have had 9 tapering periods before and every one of them was happily welcome ... Not this one. Reason is that for all my previous marathons I trained 3 times a week, max 4, so I only needed to shorten the distance and continue with my 3 days for 3 more weeks. But for this training season I ran 8 times a week, so, I didn't need only to shorten the mileage but the quantity of runs. I needed to sleep in, I needed to take time off, I needed mentally not to think much about running. My routine changed dramatically. I stopped my running commute to/from work. I had too many "free" hours in my hands (and feet).

First week was crazy. I was indeed tired physically as I was coming from two hard HM races plus a 20-miler all in the same week. My legs were ready to rest but mentally I wasn't. I liked so much my routine, that to give up 3 running hours per day was going to be tough.

I didn't have a particular taper plan (or none at all), as the plan I was following was built by me for me. Following conventional wisdom and all marathon's plans available I should run the first week of taper between 70% to 80% of my mileage. If the % was based on the peaked mileage it would put me in 56-64 miles: too much; if based on the average mileage, it'd be around 48 miles: still too much. In addition my running partner (one of my running forces) was gallivanting with her husband in Hawaii, so being her away made me lazier than ever.

After investigating the science behind tapering I found some studies that revealed when we need to run our absolute best, we should put emphasis on high-intensity workouts and extremely low mileage. (I liked the "extremely low" part). One scientific study concluded that a drastic reduction in training volume (as high as 85%) decreased final race times plus had benefits in other areas (oxygen consumption). Also I followed various advices from runners (the advice we hear many times): Listen to your body, and Bart Yasso's: You can't taper too much.  

Week 3 - Phase IV - Core Workout: REST
09/17/12 - 09/23/12 -
Week Total:  23.3

I decided to go with those advices. I listened to my body and ran only twice, a 12-miler and an 11 miler. Easy.

Week 2 - Phase IV - Core Workout: REST
09/24/12 - 09/30/12 -
Week Total:  18.3

On week 2 I ran three times (running partner was back). One of my runs planned to be a high intensity 6x800, but mind and legs settled for fartlek (0.1 miles) at 6:40 pace ... I took it anyway.

And then, THE WEEK. This week... Week one... This one... Marathon Day week... Nerves, nerves, and more nerves. I went for an easy 3.1 miles with asthma on Tue 10/02... I may run another easy 3.1 today... (may). I took Thursday off. I'll fly tomorrow Friday. I'll run on Saturday. I'll fly back on Saturday afternoon. I will discern on Sunday.

I have studied my numbers, the profile, the pace according to the profile, formulas behind St. George. I feel like those horse racing studious people that review all the stats to improve their odds of winning.

I have very high goals... Very high. Two main goals are to conquer my 8th state, Utah, and to get me a pass to Boston for 2014, but I have more goals which I only have shared with my beautiful daughter. 

As always, I conclude what I have always concluded. Race day is race day, and that's the day where everything needs to be aligned to make the stats work. As my daughter told me: "Mom, with faith you can move mountains. With doubt you only create them."

I not only have faith, I have numbers to back up that I should do very well... should... but I must run first... Let's Race The Race.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Let's Now Put My Feet Up

Week 4 - Phase III - Core Workout: VO2 Max -
09/10/12 - 09/16/12 -
Week Total:  80.0 -

Training season is over. I closed the week with my highest mileage ever, 80 miles, and my two best Half Marathons of the year. On Saturday 9/15 I ran JBLM Half with a PR of 1:45:22 for an 8:03 min/mile, and following day, on Sunday 9/16, I ran my second best in the hilliest course I’ve run in Washington State: Edmonds Half finishing with a strong 1:47:36 for an 8:12 min/mile. We climbed 980 ft, and although we ran a loop, everybody wondered how it seemed we climbed all the way. Frank Yamamoto, the soul of Edmonds’ running, designed the course. We could’ve cursed Frank’s name, but we didn’t. There is no escape in Edmonds. It’s a brutally hilly town. To the contrary, we praised Frank. He had a heart attack this week, and just went through open heart surgery. He’s recovering well, and we wait to see him back to take control of the sports in the area… We may tell him to flatten the course a little for next year, though!!! :) Get well, Frank.

I am starting my tapering as we speak, and plan on a good and well deserve resting for the following 3 weeks. I am very impressed that I had been able to put all these miles, run these races at a fast pace, and haven’t felt fatigued or sore any given week. I cannot be happier with the results.

I am skipping Race For A Soldier this coming Sunday. It’ll be hard to miss that fantastic race, honoring our military personnel and helping those with PTSD, but Gig Harbor is also a hilly course, and I know I will be tempted to race it. I want fresh legs for my Utah marathon. Let's now put my feet up. 

JBLM Half Marathon
I was down and blue on race day due to recent events, but ran my race like if there was no tomorrow. I was very surprised of the PR - 1:45:22, considering my legs had already run 50 miles during the week, including a 20-miler on Wed. Last 5K of the race were run in 23:17 min which is almost my 5K pace. Got 2nd place in the division.

1- 8:24
2- 8:34

3- 8:19
4- 8:09
5- 8:03
6- 8:09
7- 8:09
8- 8:08
9- 8:07
10- 8:04
11- 7:35
12- 7:41
13- 7:18
13.1 - 0:43 (7:18)

With Nancy Szoke, a super Ultra girl
With Pelicano!

Edmonds Half Marathon - My second best Half. A day after my best on an 80-mile week??? Phenomenal. Got 1st place in the division.

1- 9:02
2- 8:37
3-4-5- 24:11 (missed the splits)
6- 7:55
7- 8:41
8- 10:03
9- 6:23
10- 8:27
11- 8:36
12- 8:37
13- 6:26
13.1- 0:30 - (6:26)
With Debora Kerns
With Debora Kerns and Monica Callen

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Yes, I Was

Week 5 - Phase III - Core Workout: VO2 Max -
09/03/12 - 09/09/12 -
Week Total:  67.7 -

And with the Over The Narrows 10-mile race results on Sat 09/01 I went a couple of days later to apply the experience in Labor Day Half Marathon. My rational was that if I was able to sustain 8:08 min/mile pace for 10 miles on a hilly course, I could do faster than 8:32 that was my current PR (1:51:42) on a regular flat course.

And so I went on Labor Day. Guess what? I PRd by 4 minutes. FOUR MINUTES. Got my Half Marathon in 1:47:44 for an 8:13 min/mile. This race was the Regional USATF Half Marathon Championship and I got third place in the division. The winner was a woman I didn't know and when I asked her about where she's been, she told me she just entered in the division last week!. She doesn't seem to race that much. Second place was 14 seconds ahead of me.

 I ran pretty steady and though I planned on running by HR I didn't monitor it and ran by feel... It was GREAT...

Splits - HR%
1- 8:11- No reading
2- 8:07- 85%
3- 8:22- 85%
4- 8:10- 90%
5- 8:13- 89%
6- 8:13- 89%
7- 8:18- 91%
8- 8:17- 88%
9- 8:03- 91%
10- 8:18- 91%
11- 8:31- 86%
12- 8:11- 91%
13- 8:02- 91%
13.1 - 0:43 (7:10)- 91%

These numbers are great for an analytical person like me. This was a flat course, so the numbers reflect even effort. I went "cautious" for the first 3 miles like I always do. Then I unleashed. I was able to keep the same 89%-90ish% effort for the whole race but couldn't elevate it beyond that. My legs delivered though.
I skipped my 8 Yasso's scheduled on Wednesday as I was tired. I had ran 2 strong races in 3 days, and decided to rest. I kept my high mileage though as these miles are running at a leisurely pace.

On Saturday I had Fairhaven 15K. Good race and distance to execute again with the same strategy. As this distance was 1K shorter than Over The Narrows, my goal was to have at least the same pace of 8:08. I had excellent results: 1:15:28, 8:06 min/mile and first place in the division. The difference with this race and Labor Day was that I felt rested that I could increment from 90% to 95% half way of the race. Strategy was to run the first 2 miles easy, and then just follow my breathing. I never looked at the watch to check the HR, but I had it exactly where I would've wanted it... What it means that now I can definitely run by feel without any gadget... My PR was a 16-minute PR (not a common distance so is not run very often...)

Splits - HR%
1- 8:10 - 87%
2- 8:25 - 87%
3- 7:47 - 90%
4- 8:07 - 91%
5- 8:04 - 91%
6- 7:43 - 95%
7- 8:08 - 95%
8- 8:05 - 93%
9- 8:00 - 97%
9.375 - 2:56 (7:48 min/mile) - 97%

And a day after the 15K I had another Half Marathon: Skagit Flats. I wasn't tired or sore but I didn't know how I would perform. I had no goals whatsoever, but just to run as strong as I could. I was very pleased to keep up with the 3:30 marathon group, which was a 1:45 HM pace up to the turn around. They continued we returned. My HR was reading lower than expected, it was difficult to put it in 90%. This occurs when my legs can't get there. I didn't feel them tired but they were no fresh either. As soon as we hit the turn-around I had the déjà vu of Skagit Flats 2010. Where in the hell this headwind comes from? I didn't feel it on my tail. Well it was there and deflate me somehow slowing my mile 8 considerably. I pressed the next mile and recovered. At mile 9, The Prez (Marathon Maniac founder Steven Yee) and a friend of his, to whom he was pacing, passed me. I though this was great because they looked strong and I could hang on with them. I ran with them for a whole mile at an easy 86%, but I felt way more effort than this HR. It was the headwind, not a terrible wind (~15mph) but it felt pretty heavy. So at mile 10 while they flew away, I faded. I pushed as much as I could but lost considerable ground until mile 12 when the wind died down. Then I pushed for a miraculous mile. I finished in 1:48:10, 26 seconds shy of my PR. I got a bobble-head trophy for 3rd place division 50-59.

A great week with almost 70 miles and 3 fantastic races. My blog and question last week was Am I Holding Myself? The answer is: Yes, I Was.
Splits- HR%
1- 8:19 - 81%
2- 8:09 - 82%
3- 8:08 - 84%
4- 8:20 - 86%
5- 8:09 - 86%
6- 8:00 - 90%
7- 7:53 - 87%
8- 8:31 - 86%
9- 8:11 - 89%
10- 8:20 - 86%
11- 8:45 - 84%
12- 8:42 - 87%
13- 7:44 - 93%
13.1- 0:44 (7:50) - 92%

Lizzie Lee and The Prez, Steven Yee, Marathon Maniac founder @ Skagit Flats

Shannon Perry, The Butlers, and Michael Hsu @ Skagit Flats

With Michael Hsu and Sharon Butler @ Skagit Flats

With Sharon who broke 2 hours! @ Skagit Flats

With my niece Angie @ Skagit Flats
Fairhaven 15K - 55-59 division winners
With Marie @ Labor Day Half Marathon
Labor Day Half Marathon 55-59 division winners

Happy. I got me a nice 4-minute PR @ Labor Day Half Marathon

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Am I Holding Myself?

Week 6 - Phase III - Core Workout: VO2 Max -
08/27/12 - 09/02/12 -
Week Total:  42.0 -

My St. George marathon training has not been a "following-a-plan" kind of training. I am just following my own method with some fundamentals taken from plans I have studied and that make sense to me. My running-commute takes most of my time, and I love it. It includes 9.2 miles from/to work, plus 5 to 8 miles with running partner Michelle on the same day. Though I feel tired some afternoons, I haven't felt fatigued not even once. Reducing the mileage two weeks ago was positive and permitted me to climb back to 50 miles without issue. I reduced the mileage this week as well, and will increase it next week to what I foresee will be my highest mileage week. Everything seems to be working out pretty good for me.

This week I worked 7 Yassos and they were tough. I think it was not a good idea to do Yasso's 2 days after a 21-miler. Or maybe it was. My legs were tired, but I still delivered. I did them slower than what I've been doing, but I'm still happy with the results: 3:33-3:33-3:36-3:34-3:31-3:34-3:28.

Next speed work was done on a 10- mile race in a hilly course. The workout had double purpose: Speed, and fast downhills. My marathon is mostly downhill and I need to continue pushing the quads so they don't become marshmallow during the descents. 

My goal was around 1:25-1:26, what would be pretty much my Half Marathon pace. I didn't want to speed up beyond that considering the hilly course. These results would be satisfying for me. 

After seeing and chatting many of my best running friends we were set to go. The first mile was downhill; the second was an ok terrain; the 3rd was a climb. However, I had my  HR under control, and didn't let it go too high. I was surprised that with that, I still got a good splits. As it happens with most of my races when I hold my HR I was now ready to unleash. The worst was gone. I pushed the pace. 

I knew I was doing great when I was about mile 4 and still had not seen the race leader coming back. Then here comes the front of the pack and a little bit later I saw the first female. It happened to be Amanda, a gal that I've just met inside the theater when we were putting our bibs and chip on our shoes. Second was my good friend Ginger, and then I decided to count how many women I had in front of me. When I hit the turn around I was #12. Two girls passed me immediately and I was bumped to #14. I kept pushing for the whole mile 6, and passed 2 ladies. Back to 12. I picked up the pace and at mile 7 I had so much energy that I passed 3 more, including my favorite runner in the world who I hate to pass. She is my hero, Judy Fisher, a World Class runner. Then I sped up. I passed a bunch of guys, but there were no more women in my reach. My thoughts were only to keep pushing just in case somebody else was coming close behind me. The last mile was uphill but I had enough power to climb it.

Fantastic race. FANTASTIC. Exceeded my goal on hilly Gig Harbor. 10 miles/16Km in 1:21:15 for an 8:08 min/mile. 9th female overall, and 1st place in the 50-59 division (which was a very competitive division, the first 3 spots were very, very close). A PR of 25 minutes. And better than that, a nice gathering with my running friends and great food, including a big Panera box full of bagels and cinnamon rolls.

1- 7:36
2- 8:09
3- 8:41
4- 8:00
5- 8:11
6- 8:15
7- 8:06
8- 8:04
9- 7:54
10- 8:14

I did the math, and with this effort I can get a high 1:40s for the Half Marathon. This was a tough course, and even if I lose ground in the next 3 miles I think I can make it. Am I Holding Myself? 

Here with female winner Amanda Hoskins (center) - 1:11:47, Ginger Gruber, 2nd overall - 1:14:45, Beverly Schubert - 1:21:51, 3rd in 50-59 division, and Judy Fisher winner 60-69 - 1:22:04
With Shannon Perry and Michael Hsu
With Tony Seabolt and Sharon Butler - Very nice ontheRUNevents photo


A Frustrated Goal

Week 7 - Phase II - Core Workout: Anaerobic Threshold -
08/20/12 - 08/26/12 -
Week Total:  50.2 -

The Yasso's are the hardest workout for me but I consider they are a great way to measure fitness. This week I did 6x800, and though I lost a little bit of ground I was happy (I always AM). 3:17 - 3:20 - 3:22 - 3:23 - 3:24 - 3:24. 

As part of my speed workouts I also threw in this week a 5K with a very high goal. I had to run 7:16 min/mile for a 22:33 race what would put me in National Class for my age. 

The race selected was Alki Beach Run, an out-and-back, straight line and flat. The weather was perfect: low 60's, and a nice sea breeze. I arrived very early as usual, ran a couple of miles as warm up including a handful of strides. Let the oxygen flow, and went (nervous I confess) to try to get what I was looking for. I went with HR 91% for the first mile and clocked 7:15. I was able to pick up the pace, set my HR in 93% and I knew I had this. I was running so hard, that I thought "I don't want to run a 5K ever again". When I was expecting that was time for the turn around, we were still going forward. Where is it? I got there at 12min 20 sec. That didn't make any sense; that was a high 24-minute run. I was running faster than mile 1 for sure, but when I got to mile 2 I definitely thought that the race was screwed up. I clocked 9:20 for the 2nd mile. This was not possible. I run my half marathons at 8:30-8:45. I lost concentration, and decreased my speed, and crossed the finish line in 24:53 - 8:02 min/mile. I was puzzled and clueless. I recently ran a 5K on Seattle hills in 23:33. This run was on a pancake course. I ran last week a 10K at 7:44. I had been running 1/2 miles at 6:50 pace. I started asking to other runners and everybody told me the course was longer. Somebody told me he wanted his money back. I would not ask for my money back because is a cancer run, I would not even ask for an adjustment on the time, because I gave up last mile, so my adjusted time would not be what I went for either. 

Well, it happens that Alki Beach 5K Run Course Marshall placed the turnaround cone in the wrong spot and the course was almost a quarter mile long. It's hard to believe, especially when this was a certified course. As The Silver Strider published it: All the times were consequently way off, negating any chance for changes in the Top 10 for 2012.

I talked to the organizers and they mentioned that when the route was measured, pins were placed in the concrete; the pin for the start/finish, 1st & 2nd mile were in place, but the pin at the T/A was gone. They told me they are taking steps to make sure the route is completely accurate in the future. 
It was hard for me to let go. I am glad there was a big crowd of running friends and together we enjoyed The Silver Strider crew post race party. After goodbyes, I continue running along the beach and went to complete a 20 miler. Good mileage for the week, but A Frustrated Goal.
Alki Beach Run 5K

From Ear To Ear

Week 8 - Phase II - Core Workout: Anaerobic Threshold -
08/13/12 - 08/19/12 -
Week Total:  31.2 -

Probably this was not too smart, but I decided to throw in a couple of goals in the middle of my marathon training. As speed work is my key work for the next five weeks I decided that decreasing my mileage from 50 & 60+ to 30ish would not do too much damage. I wanted very badly to run a 10K in a certified course, but to have a great run, I needed to do some tapering.

I knew that I had the required speed to be in the top 10 in my division in Washington State, and the opportunity was there with the Railroad Days 10K. It was going to be a big race for me as this race was the USATF Regional (Pacific Northwest Track & Field, PNTF) 10K Championship. I decided to go bold, naked if you will: no heart rate monitor, no pace monitor, no music. My only guidance would be listening to my breathing. The goal was to get low 48's. Another goal I had was to be on the podium. Olympian Regina Joyce would take 1st place for sure, and the rest would depend on who shows up, and who doesn't. 

I went earlier, picked up my packet and warmed up jogging one mile followed by 6 to 8 100-meter strides. Rested for 10 minutes and the race was about to start. I didn't see Regina on the crowd and this surprised me. She never misses this race. Now, my goal was higher. In Regina's absence, could I get the championship? 

I went too fast at the start (first time running without heart rate monitor) so I was clueless on what my effort and pace was for the 1st mile. After the mile marker I saw I was going too fast for me: 7:18. I slowed down for miles 2 & 3 to avoid crashing later. I had very bad splits, but had time to adjust to get what I needed. 

My goals were achieved. I ran the 10K USATF Regional (Pacific Northwest T&F - PNTF) Championships in 48:23 (7:48 min/mile), a PR of 2min 33 sec. Got first place and was "crowned" the 2012 10K Champion for the division. Got 5th Female Masters Overall and my smile went From Ear To Ear. 


1- 7:18
2- 7:40
3- 8:12
4- 7:58
5- 8:03
6- 7:44
6.2 - 1:24 (7:00)

Yasso workout: 5x800 this week: 3:27; 3:25; 3:25; 3:25; 3:20

Monday, August 20, 2012

I'll Follow The Sun

Week 9 - Phase II - Core Workout: Anaerobic Threshold -
08/06/12 - 08/12/12 -
Week Total: 60.9 -

And after carefully traveling through cosmic space, planets, and galaxies, I got to Mercury. It took 28 Half Marathons in half a year. Tacoma Narrows was the culprit.

The next adventure translates to reach the hot, round, and yellow star that is above us. And with that I will secure a special place in the asylum sharing with nuts individuals that will continue doing nothing else than piling more Half Marathons underneath the bed. There will not be any more movements towards anywhere, no other dimensions, no other solar systems, nowhere, just moving around in circles around the star because when I arrive there I will become one of the Masters of the Asylum and I will be fried. 52 Half Marathons in a year, so I need 24 in the next 26 weeks.

The count started with Summer Series at Magnuson Park, but a couple of short races with high goals, my marathon in October, and winter in the middle of the endeavor, all threaten the challenge.

Now the time has come, and so, my love, I must go, and though I lose a friend, in the end you will know. One day, you'll find that I have gone, but tomorrow may rain, so I'll Follow The Sun.
Magnuson Park by Lake Washington was the perfect location for a race on a sunny day. Hubby dropped me at the boat launch, he went fishing, I went running. Though hot - 68-70F, I ran a good run with good splits (I definitely learned how to run in the heat), 1:54:09. After the race, hubby picked me up at the boat launch and we went boating to Lake Washington and Lake Union to admire from the water my beautiful city, with the most gorgeous (rare though) sunny blue skies.

Heart Rate Monitor didn't work (this gadget and I are divorcing imminently). I was on my own. I followed my guts.

1- 8:49
2- 9:18
3- 8:41
4- 9:17
5- 8:58
6- 8:50
7- 9:09
8- 8:32
9- 8:11
10- 8:40
11- 8:36
12- 8:32
13- 8:20
13.1 - 0:50 (8:20)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Scrooge Of Running

Week 10 - Phase I - Build up - Core Workout: Hills -
07/30/12 - 08/05/12 -
Week Total: 65.4 -

Commuting to/from work has been an amazing thing. I am able to log a bunch of miles without them being a burden. On Tue & Thu I logged about 15, and on Wed I logged 19, including hill sprints on one of the hilliest streets in the area. Steep as the steepest streets in Seattle: 22% slope (and I thought that 7% at Picnic Point was hilly)!!!

I concluded the week with 65.4 and I don't feel a little bit tired, to the point that I ran today the Tacoma Narrows Half Marathon and got a PR - 1:51:42 - 8:32 min/mile.

I wanted to run another Half on Sunday for another back-to-back weekend, I knew I'd do OK but I wanted to run the race more for being close to 80 miles, than for running the race. I felt like I wanted to have a lot of miles and put them in my closet or underneath my bed, like amassing a fortune, but I have a VO2Max test on Monday and they told me to be well rested (!); at least no workouts the day before.

After my daughter's comment "Mom, don't become obsessed now with this high mileage, I know you..." I realize that she was right (daughter knows best... or not). So, for the sake of a mental, physical, driving break (Sunday race 1.5 hour-drive), and for my test, I am skipping this race. Yes, unbelievable, but true.  I don't want to become The Scrooge Of Running.

Tacoma Narrows Splits
Mile - Pace - Heart Rate%
1- 8:40 - 80%
2- 8:18 - 84%
3- 8:46 - 84%
4- 9:31 - 86%
5- 9:20- 86%
6- 8:17- 89%
7- 8:14 - 90%
8- 8:23- 91%
9- 8:36 - 92%
10- 8:28 - 91%
11- 8:48 - 92%
12- 8:02 - 93%
13- 7:28 - 95%
13.1 -0:48 - (7:30) - 95%

PR and 1st place in the division - 1:51:42

With good friends Maryanne and Ginger
Great representation from Washington State 55-59 division. With Susie Hall, 3rd place with 2:01:48 and David Sherman, 2nd place with 1:34:38