Saturday, March 29, 2014

Day 77: Double digits!

I decided to run with a friend late afternoon Saturday instead of super early Sunday since my sister and her friends were staying with me and it was a great one!

I was jumping from 8 to 12 miles, and I was a little nervous but all turned out rather perfectly! I met Ratana at her apartment, and she had plotted out a 12-ish mile course with a few hills for good measure. I wasn't sure how it was going to go, but my legs - which had not been behaving for the most of the week - got with the program.

It was the perfect temp with a lovely little breeze to keep us cool. We chatted up and down the hills, eventually making our way up a solid hill back to the path that runs along the Santa Monica coast, dodged a million tourists, and then made our way back inland.

I felt surprisingly great after the run, picked up the girls who had gotten some delicious cheese and we celebrated my successful run with a glass of wine - success!

Off to NY again Monday...see you soon east coast.

today's mileage: 12.3 miles
season mileage to date: 167.5 miles

Friday, March 28, 2014

Day 76: Lead legs

This week has been a extremely stressful one and I've decided it's manifesting in my legs.

I took the day off to hang with my sister and her peeps today, but they were heading to Pop Physique later so I ran on my own, although later than I usually head out.

Our weekday runs are now 45 minutes, and I took off on my usual route down the pier then north on the bike path. It was a sunny, pretty morning and should have been the perfect morning for a run but my legs were NOT having it.

I can't blame the wine because I drank early and in moderation. Maybe I didn't have enough water before bed. I did have plenty of sleep - over 8 hours! But my legs felt like there were lead anvils strapped to them. Usually this gets better a mile or so in but not today. Today my legs were in a terrible mood and it made for the most unpleasant of runs, my cardio having to work harder (it seemed!) to keep my poorly behaving legs in line.

Maybe it was this article I read on California hippie energy work blah blah blah, but I suspect the stress surrounding me is weighing down my usually light and airy countenance. This weekend I've got to run 10-12 miles in a canyon so my mind and body better get with the program in the next 36 hours or so, or this is going to be brutal.

today's mileage: 4.2 miles
season mileage to date: 155.2 miles

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Day 75: Too much vino does not a good run make

I was supposed to go to practice last night but instead ended up switching the Friday day off to Wednesday.

Kristin's friends are arriving this morning, so we headed to Whole Foods to stock up on a few things, and then headed to my favorite local Barnyard for a little dinner.

It was paaaaacked and there was one stool left at the bar which I graciously gave to my sister ;) That sort of thing doesn't happen often so it was fine and I ended up eating at least part of the meal standing at the bar - clearly, I am low maintenance. For my chillness, I ended up with more wine than I intended on drinking, which made for some slow legs this morning.

We should have done intervals - about a 1/2 mile at tempo pace, then 2 minutes recovery but it was not happening. First we started to fast. Then my quad started to hurt. And I was fuzzy. We didn't quit but we did end up opting for a "normal" run instead of the tempo run.

I've got to say...I'm seriously thinking of giving up alcohol between now and the marathon. I don't actually drink too much out here, especially compared to NYC, but - I have been thinking that I should be aiming for my best self while training, and my hungover self (even slightly) is definitely not my optimal self.

today's mileage:
 3.8 miles
season mileage to date: 151.0 miles

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Day 73: Just me and my sis

My little sister Kristin arrived last night so she joined me on this morning's run.

She runs sometimes, and when she does is generally much faster than me - more like a 9:30 minute mile vs. my 11-ish so before we went out I set the rules of no speeding and no making fun of me for being pokily slow.

Kristin has the speed but I have the distance so my slowing her down was probably not a bad idea as the longest she's run in a little while was more around 3 miles. It was a lovely morning and the run was pretty uneventful - we chatted a bit but really I am not used to talking much before I've had coffee so for the most part it was a sleepy, quiet run.

today's mileage: 4.2 miles
season mileage to date: 147.2 miles

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Day 71: Sunday Sixer

I got back from NYC yesterday and was totally and utterly beat.

Maybe I've grown soft from living away from the grind. Maybe it was just a rough week. Maybe it was all the fine wine. But whatever it was, by the time I got back to my lovely little apt, all I could do was...more or less nothing.

Within 5 minutes of arrival I was in my bathing suit and headed out to the beach. However, it was a bit too windy and chilly so I only lasted a little less than an hour. I came back, looked in the fridge and knew I was going to have to hit the grocery store. I wandered around Whole Foods, making a concerted effort not to buy too many random things since I didn't have a list and then enjoyed my ride home, beach traffic and all - who cares when the sun is shining down?

I proceeded to catch up on bad TV, eat a lazy dinner of bread, triple cream cheese, grapes and gelato and passed out by 10:30pm.

There was no way I was going to make practice at 7:30 all the way across town so I planned to run on my own.

I got up around 7:30 and suited up, grabbed a bottle of water for my fuel belt and headed out.
I started with intervals but it kind of backfired - I was running way too hard during my running times and the run was feeling not awesome. So on the way back I took the pace down, ditched the intervals and finished in a good way - slow and steady.

Damn, it's good to be back in Cali.

day 71 mileage: 6.1 miles
season mileage to date: 143.0 miles

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Day 67 & 68: N.Y.C (again)

Getting out for a run here is sooooo much harder.

Out every night.

Too much rich food and good wine.

On Monday night after I arrived, I had dinner with my dear pal Lucas. After delicious burgers and an old fashioned (or two), I met one of my oldest friends and...the night extended with fun and bubbly for a bit too long, and there was no run on Tuesday.

After another evening out, I did rally on Wednesday and headed out to the usual route along the east river. It was a bit chilly for me at 33 degrees but I got over it quickly.

Thursday morning was better - it the mid 40's! And it was a lovely little run. I left my phone at home - I had left my watch in Cali, which was annoying, but carrying the phone and pausing the timer at the lights (yes I am that precise) was even more annoying. So Thursday I just ran - I knew roughly what 40 minutes should be so just ran and ran and it was pretty lovely.

day 67 mileage: 3.6 miles
day 68 mileage: 3.8 miles
season mileage to date: 136.9 miles

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Day 64: The amazing world of intervals

My alarm went off for the first time at the lovely hour of 5am. I stumbled to the kitchen and opened my little mason jar of overnight oatmeal (used hazelnut milk instead of regular, left out the lemon, added a pinch or two of salt, cinnamon & some dried cranberries) and scarfed that down along side a big glass of water and was back in bed by 5:06.

By the time I fell back asleep my alarm went off again at 6:30. Practice was at 7 a 5-10 minute drive away so I had opted for more sleep, less time to putter around. I thought about snoozing but that would take 9 of my precious 20 minutes to get ready so talked myself out of bed. Contacts in. More water. Clothes on. Find matching socks. Where are my shoes? Retrieve water bottles from the fridge. Where's my watch? Drink more water. Get in car and try to pay attention to the road.

We met at the Santa Monica Civic center and had both a nutrition clinic (short version: you need to hydrate, eat, and make sure you have enough salt in your body) and an injury prevention clinic (short version: follow the schedule, rest when you're supposed to rest, stretch and use a torture device on the regular) before we ran.

I may have mentioned but when I had my alumni one-on-one with one of the coaches this week he explained that the team out here is an interval based team. I had heard of / seen some marathoners doing this method, and had read a bit about one of the more famous interval programs - Jeff Galloway's - in the past. Essentially you run for a certain number of minutes, then walk one minute, during the duration of your runs.  Many people advocate for this method although from my initial research there's a lot of mixed opinions about this methodology.

Everyone on the team runs in intervals like this, and the difference between the groups is how many minutes "on" i.e. running you are going. Oh also, when you are in your "walk" minute, it is not supposed to be a time to stroll. You're supposed to be fast-walking granny-mall-walker style, arms pumping and the whole bit. Group 1 - the most advanced - was doing 6 minutes on, 1 minute off today. My group was running 4:1.

Because I missed last week, I was off schedule. The rest of the group was doing 10, so I was to run with my peeps until the water stop which was at the 4-mile mark and then turn around and head back.

Because of the clinics we probably didn't get going until about 8. Groups 2 and 3 ended up combining since everyone was running 4:1s. I really need to do my pacing run at some point to validate what tempo I should be running at. I decided to try the intervals for the day and see how it went - since the last really long run was 6 miles about oh, 3 weeks ago, I wasn't feeling to bad about not running the whole 8 miles.

We set out and at first I thought I was running way to fast for my pace - it was hard to tell. I could talk, but it wasn't easy talking. There was also a giant hill semi-early in the run and I feel like that set our pace to something more reasonable. We had a good little posse and by the time we got to the turn around spot, I could barely believe we had been running for 4 miles already, where I was going to turn around.

At the water stop I had my first sports gel of the season. For those new to the world of sports gels, as your time run goes over an hour you need to start thinking about fueling as you run. Some people like real food - pretzles, trail mix, oranges, a banana.  I tend to go for the synthetic stuff because I don't like chewing things when I'm running and that stuff goes right to your bloodstream because there is less to breakdown. I don't know that its better for you, but I do know I do not want to be eating pretzels my whole marathon.

Anyway, I got a few from the running store near my house and the first one was Gu's Espresso Love. I usually am a Power Gel person and love the "triple latte" so tried this one. It was okay. At first my stomach was all "Oh, this stuff? Not sure about this stuff!" but it settled down and then I was supercharged! I was zipping along happily by myself, keeping an eye on my watch to maintain the intervals. Since they were five minutes total (4 on, 1 off) it was easy to keep track of where I was.

And I have to say - I might be a convert. I think the intervals allowed me to push harder during the minutes on. And I totally channeled those little old lady mall walkers during my walk minutes. I felt really great at the end of the run, and I ran just below an 11 minute mile, which is pretty speedy for me for that distance.

The run ended near the pier and I took a cool-down walk to the end and back. It is a pretty nice spot to end a run.

So, I'm thinking I will rotate between intervals and not intervals in my training in some way and just see how it goes. If I can get over my own ego i.e. that I need to run every step of the way, this might be a good way to approach the race, especially considering the old injuries.

today's mileage: 8 miles
season mileage to date: 129.5 miles

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Day 63: Easy Saturday run

I really didn't want to get up this morning.

With a long run tomorrow, and coming off the pinched nerve, I wanted to give myself permission to skip the little run. To sleep in. To laze about.

Buuuuuut I didn't. I dragged my sleepy butt out of bed and headed out into a beautiful morning.

The run was uneventful for the most part. My legs felt a bit heavy but that was the only thing of note as far as the run is concerned. I usually bring a few dollars and grab a coffee at the end of my run and today was no different. On one of my rainy runs a few weeks ago, one of the guys commented on the craziness of running in the rain and I said something like "marathon training waits for no storm".

So now when I get coffee and I've run (which is pretty obvious because my bed-head is usually pulled into a pony tail, my contacts are in and I may have "red exercise face"), they ask how the training is going, how many miles I ran that morning. A little support and encouragement with your post-run coffee is pretty awesome.

Tonight I am "behaving" as one of my NYC coaches Ramon - staying in, eating pasta, drinking a lot of water and going to bed really early. I have to run 8 miles tomorrow and I'm a little nervous since it was three weeks since I ran 6 even but...I know I can do it. Just might be a bit painful.

Practice starts at the brutal time of 7am. SEVEN AM. ON A SUNDAY. Wah. I really wish we had practice on Saturday's as we did in NY - it is way easier to behave on a Friday when I am already beat. But no use whining about that. Anyway. I'll have to get up...I'm going to guess...around 5 and eat some oatmeal and then nap again until 6:30.

7am. Gah.

today's mileage: 3.0 miles
season mileage to date: 121.5 miles

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Day 61: Baby it's dark outside

Set my alarm for 6:15 to try to get out for my run at 6:30 but man it's hard to get up when its so dark.

I was slow to the start and got out around 6:45. I also got a fancy new fuel belt this week. I didn't need the bottles for a short run but it also has a little pack on it so I can bring my camera on runs now which means you'll get beauties like this more often!

Run was great again - although in the middle I got a little hungry and it was probably a little faster than I should have been running. I powered all the way to the coffee shop and while I waited in line felt a touch woozy.  I chalked it up to a veggie-ful dinner last night, walked back to my street, had a good stretch with lovely ocean views.

Tomorrow is an off day and I'm getting acupuncture for my neck again. Saturday will be a shorty and and then Sunday...the 8 miles I was supposed to do last week. Eeeeeeeee!

today's mileage: 3.8 miles
season mileage to date: 118.5 miles

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Day 60: Back in the game

Woke up at 6:30am...and it's dark. As much as I love springing forward for the sunsets, it does not make getting up early for morning runs any easier.

My neck was feeling ok this morning so headed out to see how a little 40 minute run was.

It felt greeeeat. I forgot how when you start running and have to take a few days off, your body actually wants to get back out there again. And the dark gave way to a misty morning, clouds hovering over the pier and mountains - a perfect brisk morning for a run.

Everything, from my neck to my shins, was feeling good and it was a pretty speedy run (for me ;) clocking just over 10m30s miles.

today's mileage: 3.8 miles
season mileage to date: 114.7 miles

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Day 57: Pain in the neck


Today I was supposed to run 8 miles.

I decided to sleep in and run on my own for maximum rest to my neck, but I still got up at 7:00 to eat some oatmeal to be ready to run at 9 / 9:30.

By the time I got up around 9, it was already seemed warm. I felt for the folks running the LA marathon today! My neck felt meh and I was definitely dragging as I got ready. I headed out around 10 it was downright hot.

I filled up my camelbak thinking it would be a good water container...however I made the mistake of putting ice in it and the way it was shaking around was bugging me. So I left it and decided to make due with water fountains.

Bad idea - too hot! But the bigger problem was the neck. 35-40 minutes in my neck pain started creeping up and I decided to call it so as not to take the risk of making that pinched nerve even more angry.

I came home cranky and emailed the coaches, who advised resting until Wed when I could try an easy 40 minute run instead of hill training. Meh.

Come on neck, loosen up.

today's mileage: 3.8 miles
season mileage to date: 110.9 miles

Day 56: Aches and Pains

I woke up yesterday with a pinched nerve.

I know it is a pinched nerve from a slightly bulged disc because last year when I moved here, I had the same thing, except I had never had it before so it took me a solid month of pain in my neck and shooting down my right arm and acupuncture to finally get to a doctor.

He chalked it up to stress and told me I needed to relax...and I thought to myself "Welcome to California."

I had been feeling my shoulder getting stiff after hill training and chalked it up to having slept funny, but by the middle of the night Thursday when I would roll over and felt shooting pains if I was in the "wrong" position, I knew it was back.

Ah the pleasures of getting old.

I wanted to go for a run, but opted to be smarter, working from home, getting some acupuncture from the good folks at Acutonix who were ever so kind as to fit me in right away, and taking a steady stream of muscle relaxers and ibuprofin. I was advised to pretend like I was in a neck brace, to not turn from the neck but the torso to give the disc a rest.

Last night I got myself situated on my back which seems to be the recommended way to sleep with a pinched nerve, and hoped for all the resting to do its thing.

I woke up feeling better / in less pain, but still twinge-y. I had read that some exercise is good for this sort of thing because it gets blood to the affected area, but too much jostling can be bad because it can make the already enflamed disc even more angry. I decided to go for a very slow run, giving myself permission before I even started to bail if my neck at all felt pressure from the run.

It was probably my least fun run since I started this whole thing again. My neck in particular didn't hurt, but all of me felt stiff and off in a way. My inner monologue was incredibly whiny, and went something like:

this is terrible. i feel gross. i don't have time for this neck thing right now. will i be able to attempt 8 miles tomorrow? my legs feel heavy. my shins feel tight. ugh - get away seagulls! don't look at the watch yet. no really don't loo--- oh man you looked! still 25 more minutes. meh. my shins feel tight still. why aren't i loosening up? is this going to irritate my neck more? i'm thirsty. why didn't i drink more water yesterday? 

At the end of the run, I sprinted the last little bit to the light, stopped and crossed the street. An old gent waiting on the other side nodded and said "Good job." And it was.

Day 56: 3.5 miles
season mileage to date: 107.1 miles

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Day 53: Culver City hills

Tonight was my first Wednesday practice, and we tackled hills.

Hill training is annoying and painful BUT I can speak from experience when I say it makes a huge difference in strength over the course of training.

We met at Culver City park and worked out in four segments:

1) Warm up - about a mile down and back, with four 10-second pick ups on the return leg. Pick ups are, as you might expect when you pick up the pace for whatever the duration of the pick up.

2) "Triple Crown" - Run to the top of the hill with a strong effort, recover on the way down - x3

3) "Three Minute Monster" - Run uphill 30 seconds, recover downhill, run 60 seconds uphill,  recover downhill, run 90 seconds uphill - try not to keel over - recover downhill...All without stopping and at 80% max effort.

4) Cool down run / walk / stretch.

I made the back of the pack the whole way, but that's okay. I'm working on taming my speed envy. Shins felt good which is important after all the downhills where you can really bang them up. I focused a lot on keep my stride short and quick and light. No clunking down the hill for me.

Tomorrow is a rest day. I barely know what to do when I get to sleep in these day - feels a little weird.

Day 53: 3.6 miles
season mileage to date: 103.6 miles

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Day 52: Race pace

I will sound like a big jerk when I say this, but I am getting a little bored of my running route.

This morning we were running 40 minutes again, but this time at "race pace". I still haven't done that two-mile timed run to give more guidance to mypace, so, not exactly sure what my race or tempo pace is supposed to be, but here's a general overview for reference from the coaches:

Your WARM UP / RECV (recovery) should be easier than your conversational pace.
Your CONVERSATIONAL pace should be easier than your race pace.
Your RACE pace should be easier than your TEMPO effort.
Your TEMPO effort should be easier than your SPRINT/AET (anaerobic threshold) pace.

 I realized I hadn't run down the pier yet so started by heading that way, down to the sea and back, then north on my usual route. Starting at the pier broke things up a bit, and I was back to the start before I knew it.  I was running an average of 10:30 minute miles, which is fast for me, but I guess that's my race pace...if you're talking about a 5k race, unlikely a marathon tho!

What is a tiny bit depressing is that even if I could run a marathon at 10:30 - that is still a 4 hour and 34 minute marathon...I have dreams of a 4 hour and 30 minute marathon! But they fade a bit when faced with having to run at that pace for that long...

Have to keep my eye on the achievable goals -  no broken legs and raising $10k!

Day 52: 3.8 miles
season mileage to date: 100 miles!

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Day 50: Rain dance

No one that lives in LA really has the right to complain about the rain.

First and most obviously - drought. We need rain! We need it for the peaches! And the avocados! And for many other things obviously but stone fruit has a special place in my heart. Secondly, I think its rained maybe 4 times since I moved here last year (hence, point 1). Finally, when it does rain its warm! Not that horrible Feb / March rain that we get in the Northeast that chills you to the bone. This is balmy, windy, tropical rain and it is nice. Go out there and play Southern Cali!

I headed down to Manhattan beach for our 8am start - even with the risk of rain, we had a big turnout for our run yesterday morning. We were running on a trail down to Manhattan Beach avenue, down to the pier, back up that damn hill, then out a little ways farther before heading back.

All the groups seem to be doing intervals, and the main difference is how many minutes on (running) or off (walking "with purpose"). Based on my general speed, I had the choice between group 3 and group 4 based on my time and I decided to start with the slower group to see how it was going. I stuck with group 4 until I got down to the pier, then as we headed up the hill, I found myself feeling more on pace with the group ahead so I motored on up to group 3.  As we got to the top of the hill the rain began and it was pretty refreshing for the 2nd 1/2 or so of the run - I've always liked running in the rain, and running in the rain out here where its balmy is pretty fantastic.

East coast or west coast, the team spirit of Team in Training is consistent. The coaches are floating, keeping an eye on you, answering questions, watching your form. Your teammates are there toughing it out themselves but always cheering each other on. Everyone is friendly and supportive and positive - well, maybe that's because our runs are still on the shorter side ;).

The run on the trails felt really nice on my shins and with the intervals of walking, the 5 miles felt like a breeze.

Day 50: 5.0 miles
season mileage to date: 96.2 miles

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Days 47 - 49 Waking up with the sun in my eyes

Lovely to be back here even with the rainy weather this weekend.

I intended to go to practice Wednesday but jet lag got me and I decided to listen to my body. I ate dinner and passed out at the very late hour of 9:30.

But that left me ready to go Thursday morning - it had rained the night before so there were some giant puddles as obstacles on my route but otherwise was excellent to be back in the land where people actually make eye-contact, smile and say good morning!

I took the day off Friday, and started my day with a run in the rain. I timed it rather poorly - about 12 minutes into my 40 minute run the rain stopped leaving me soggy for the rest of my run. It was warm and quite fun in the rain while it lasted tho - one feels pretty tough when running in the pouring rain.

And today, the giant waves kept me occupied as I ran down the beach. The sky has been amazing, clouds alternating with crazy beams of sun, and the surfing was super fun to watch. I took my post-run-coffee over to the pier and stretched while watching the guys have at it. I'm not sure how tall the waves were feet-wise but they looked GIANT and there were some crazy guys out killing it at the pier.

My love affair with California continues...and this song pretty much sums it up - enjoy!

Day 47: 3.6 miles
Day 48: 3.4 miles
Day 49: 3.7 miles
season mileage to date: 91.2 miles