Monday, August 27, 2012

Highs and lows...but not too low

Saturday was my 3rd 5k of the summer. My times have gone 19:30, 19:45(ish) and now........20:10! ugh. I'm left scratching my head a bit. Coach Doug wasn't too keen on the idea of one in August, something about heat and humidity but I know best and signed up anyway. I got a free entry and it's such a local race I found it impossible to turn down. 

Anyhoo, I was feeling good, woke up with a bit of a cold (of course) but otherwise felt fine. Warmed up for a couple of miles which is longer than normal for me and timed my strides so that I was on starting line feeling like my heart rate was elevated and I was ready to go! 

This is only the 3rd year this race has been run and the 2nd time I've competed. I recognized a few faces this year, last year I wouldn't have recognized anyone anyway as I'd only been running and racing for such a short time but I knew this year the prize money on offer had resulted in a bigger and more talented field. 

Still, I like lots of healthy competition, maybe it would help drag me round to that new PR I'd like so much, right?! They moved the start time too this year, which was great. The 10k went off 1st at 7:15 and the 5k at 7:30. I didn't think it was that hot or that humid, I mean it's August in Houston so it is what it is. 
I tried to hold back in the 1st mile but went through in 6:07 (I think I've had the exact same split for my 1st mile in all three 5k's I've done now!) There were two female runners ahead and I felt good enough that I thought if I could keep them within striking distance I could maybe take them during the 3rd mile (my plan had been to build, build, build). I felt ok, but during the 2nd mile my chest tightened up and breathing was a struggle, not something I'd expect. I really wanted to stop at around 2 miles, I mean I was VERY close to calling it a day and walking/jogging back. I felt awful. Like throwing up. I never feel great on a 5k, I mean there supposed to feel like hell on earth but something just didn't feel right. I was around 6:4? for the 2nd mile and brought the 3rd home in 6:3?. I do have my splits on my Garmin but am too tired to go get it - yup I'm not feeling 100% for sure :D I was 3rd female and won my AG for what it's worth. 

Almost finished and completely finished at the same time!

I'm wasn't hugely disappointed, just a bit puzzled. Why can I produce better runs in training and then bomb out on these 5ks? I know I don't cope well with the heat, I had contemplated putting a zip lock bag with ice under my hat - I might in my next 5k! 
I worked this 5k into my long run which was 13 miles, doing the last 6.5 on the treadmill at my Y which was very near the race start/finish. 

Later that night my 'cold' hit me like a ton of bricks and on Sunday it was all I could do to move. My whole body ached, even my eyes? I have only had the flu once before and felt certain I was on course for my 2nd time. A friend asked if it could be allergies? 'Emmmm no way, it's definitely not pollen' was my response but it got me wondering. The way I felt during the race was the same as I did back in March when the tree pollen made it virtually impossible for me to run outdoors. 

I should probably mention, at this point, I have next to no knowledge about pills and lotions and potions. I guess I grew up in house where there were none and I think its a cultural thing too. Because it's such big business here, you guys are bombarded with advertisements all the time about this drug or that drug but where I come from there are next to no adverts for medication - National Health Service makes it pointless to advertise to the general public other than for over the counter things. 
Anyway, I popped an antihistamine (I had some left from March) on Sunday evening and felt a bit better, well actually a LOT better within around 15 minutes. My body no longer hurt from the neck down and my energy level had gone from 20% (it was a huge effort to brush my kids teeth!) to around 75%. 

I hate to make excuses after a crappy race and take full ownership for my result. I did feel like I hadn't given it my all at the end, which is not like me AT ALL but I think it was more like I felt I couldn't give my all, like I was being held back. 
The upshot is I will start to be more mindful of the pollen around here, I keep hearing what a problem it can be and I know it can effect me so it would be stupid not to. I have a couple of 5k's planned for next month and will try popping a pill before hand so I can at least eliminate it as a possibility if nothing else. I was having to take one before my track sessions during the summer, when I forgot it made a manageable session impossible. 

On that note does anyone have any advice as to what kind of allergy medication to take? Again, I know zero about this. I just grabbed the 1st thing I saw on the shelf back in March, maybe there's one that's suited to exercise or maybe it doesn't matter? Help. I suffered from hay fever as a kid in Scotland and had no idea there were pills you could take! I was working on a farm one summer whilst I was at uni and my eyes were streaming and burning. Someone asked if I wanted an antihistamine and I was like 'a what?!', she gave me a pill, I hesitated and then popped it. I thought a miracle had occurred, a few minutes later I was cured!!!!!! I couldn't believe this...stuff existed and I just didn't know about it :D 

I feel way better today, still not good enough to tackle the threshold/hill session I was supposed to do but I did manage 10 miles on the treadmill and still need to find an extra 4 this week to make up for the 8 miles I dropped on Sunday. 

I also survived the 1st day of Kindergarten, my eldest boy did too but I knew he'd be fine ;) We managed our cycle there and back with no major mishaps (there are always several minor mishaps which are no longer 'mishaps' just merely 'life' when you have a 5, 3 and 1 year old). 

All ready for the off, very mixed emotions but he had a great day :)

Oh, when I finished my 10 I came back to find my 1 year old on time out at the Y creche for hitting his sister and other various kids, boys and girls alike - he does not discriminate. I went through the same thing with his big brother, just before he turned 2 he would hit every kid in sight for no reason. Here we go again, this is a fun ride and I have a feeling I'll be riding it for the next 10 months or so. What's nice is the first time round I found it so awful, it reduced me to tears on several occasions and I considered not taking my 'terrible 2' ANYWHERE until he, hopefully, outgrew it. This time, when I got the report I heard myself say 'oh, well here we go again, he'll probably be doing it for the next year if he's like his big brother and then it will just stop one day, just like that.' 
I'm not sure what I was supposed to do or say. They had dealt with it, and he's only 2 and in with the big kids (hit him back guys, he might learn quicker!) It is so much easier being mum the 3rd time round - this time I KNOW it's not my fault and there's nothing I can do. AND I know it won't last forever and I won't cry about it this time :) Older and a tiny, tiny, tiny bit wiser perhaps - a first! 

Finally, I got chatting to the female winner of the 10k and she gave me a bit of a brief history of her running career. It has got me to thinking do I need to have years and years and years of high milage in my legs before I can do what I want to in the marathon? Or will I be able to get there in a relatively short period of time? I hope so, my coach thinks so. I will give it my best shot anyway, if someone could tell me I can't do it, that would help me heaps! I will be honest, I am having major doubts about sub 3 come January. I knew it was a tall order but I'm wondering if time is too short? One things for sure, I'll give it my best shot. I'm just hoping it will be a cold day in Houston come January 13th but there are no guarantees there either!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Race Time :)

It's not much, it's not a nice juicy half or 10 miler but I have a race this weekend - hooray! There's a local 10 and 5k a 5min drive form my house on Saturday so it would be a crime not to run. I was toying with the 10k but I wimped out and opted for the 5. It's just so hot and humid still that the thought of the 10k filled me with....dread! I ran it last year, my 2nd 10k ever ( actually not true I ran a couple when I was around 18 but have no idea of my times) It was hell on earth. It was so hot and humid and despite the fact I had only been running for 8 months, I started like I was a super star and died the most vile death :D Also Coach Doug wants a few 5k's over the next month or so I had my get out clause from the 10k.

I have zero idea what I'll be capable of. The heat is such a killer and despite putting together some nice threshold runs on the treadmill I'm not sure what I can pull off in the real world! 

I am going to play with my approach to this 5k a little bit. I will do a bit of a longer warmup up and try to ensure that my heart rate is elevated at the start. I find when I'm doing my 4/5 mile threshold runs on the treadmill, which are run at 6:30 pace, it takes me until the 3rd mile to settle in and get in my groove. I want to lose that 'shock to the system' feel I've experienced at the start of the 5ks I've run over the summer. 

It's also my intention to make the 1st mile my slowest. I CAN DO IT!!!!!!!......right? No, I will do it! I feel like I have so much discipline in some things but this is one area I am sooooo weak. I spent my whole running career when I was younger being a front runner, I think I felt (feel?) if you don't go for it and give yourself a chance to win then what's the point of starting?! But I am beginning to slowly realize that you can be competitive AND be a smart racer. Who knew. I'm not running sub 19 5k's let alone sub 18 so I need to have a word with myself. I want to start off conservatively and build, build, build and finish the same way I do during my fast training runs. I have only run one race since taking the sport up again in which I felt strong and it was by far my best race (1:29 PR in half last Dec). I took the 1st 2 miles easy, made myself hold back and then when I started to struggle to keep with the 2nd placed female (Adrienne Langelier!) at around the 5/6mile mark I decided that I wasn't there to run her race but my own so I let her go and ended up with the sub 1:30 time I wanted. It's time to get race smart.

Tomorrow I get to string 6 threshold miles together, yeh! Actually, I'm usually pretty pleased to see the 4.99 click over to 5.00 so we'll see how I cope with that extra mile. 

On a completely different note, my 5 year old starts Kindergarten on Monday. I am terrified. We are going to be cycling to school and did a Walmart shop today for his bike lock. That was the last item on the list of TTD, we are ready. Well he is, I'm not so sure. Any advice on surviving next Monday would be greatly appreciated. Makes a 5k in 90 degree heat feel like a piece of cake. 

I have also signed up for the Houston half and 1o for Texas in October, here's hoping we get some nice cool weather running!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Join the club!

Straight to the point, a few weeks ago, whilst on my 'take it easy, chill out, run easy, before we get stuck into Houston marathon training' phase I power washed the...whole house, cleaned like crazy, organized the kids room and started a running club. I find it hard to do nothing. I was so frustrated 18 months ago when I was looking around for a club to run with and discovered Kingwood doesn't have one! What the.... There is one but it's only run for part of the year, who only runs for part of the year? Not me! 

I have since heard so many women tell me how they run, want to run, used to run, etc etc etc. I see countless women out running with maybe one other running buddy and would wonder what happens when her buddy goes on holiday or just can't make it? Does she go out solo? I mean I do but I'm big and tough and not scared of the boogie man ;) 

The school corridor at my sons preschool was filled with running clad women who would talk about the half they were training for, etc. Who with I would wonder, I mean I have my running buddy's now but it took a while to weed them out! 

So somebody ought to start a club, just a virtual 'noticeboard' where women can hook up with like paced friends and get their miles in safely and with good company. 

So I did. 

You should be aware that I am the biggest commitment phobe on the planet (I have no idea how I find myself married and with 3 kids - it's a mystery to me!) so I started this thing with the intention of kicking it off, pushing it a bit initially and once it had a few members leaving it up to them to make it work for them. I am still in that place, except I find myself expecting a delivery of 'wearables' from our sponsors tomorrow and my coach, coach Doug is going to be a kind of virtual coach, ask the expert type deal and I am even going to create a meet up with one of the new members for next week. Hey, baby steps for me! 
The newest member of our now 28 strong club, is a 22 year old college grad who recently moved from Colorado and has times not too far off my own! Excited much?! If I play my cards right I could be up to 4 fast ladies to train with :)

I am half way though Augusts training schedule now, H and I are following the same schedule or we were, she has made a few tweaks to hers whilst I soldier on with it unadjusted. 

I am on around 40+/50+ miles a week for August and am itching to get some big miles in but Coach Doug is teaching me patience. ugh. I feel like I've been waiting forever and I am green with envy when I read all these other blogs and their authors 70+ miles a week and more. But I trust Doug and the last thing I want is to get hurt so I will continue to behave myself (not easy for someone who firmly believes rules are made to be broken). 

Monday was a tough session on the treadmill:

2 miles w/u, 8x 2mins at 6:15 pace on an incline of 4, with 1 min recovery in-between. Then 1 mile w/d, total mileage 6.

I had to put the incline down to 2 towards the end of the 5th rep, it was that or fall off the ******! It made the rest of the session much more doable. That 4 incline kills! I will try again next Monday though, what doesn't kill me....

Today is Fun FriWednesday so I got to do threshold again:

1 mile w/u 5 miles at 6:30 pace then 1 mile w/d for 7 total.

I love covering that treadmill in sweat and being vaguely aware of the sideway glances whilst the early morning Y attendees wonder what on earth the crazy girl is up to! 

I was up at 5am and running by 6am, I find it hard to do threshold at anything before 6am and my hubbie kindly forwent his spin class so I could have an extra hour in bed before hitting this at a slightly more reasonable time! (if he goes to spin I have to be home for 6am so he can make the 6:15 class). I will do my easy 6 miles tomorrow at around 9am so he can have the early slot for spin - it's all works out somehow! 

I get to string 6 of those wonderful threshold miles together next Wednesday, that will be the most I've done at that kind of pace (6:30-6:40, of course I do them at 6:30) for a million years. 
I used to have an 8 mile route from my house in Scotland that I ran a lot when I was a teenager. I can't wait to be able to string that many together and have it feel as good as it did then! My best run ever, was on that 8 mile route. I mean better than winning the Scottish Schools cross country championships, better than representing my country better than any of the thousands of other training runs I've ever done. 
I felt good one day, the weather was good and everything just felt right. It was time to have a crack at my best time which was 57mins 5?secs. So I went for it and the first 6 miles were so easy and blisteringly faster than I'd ever been before. Then something happened and it went from being easy to being the easiest I had ever felt. I was pushing even harder, as hard as I could and it felt fantastic. I remember as clear as a bell thinking how the only thing limiting me was my cadence, literally how fast I could turn my legs over. Finished it in 53:54 (it was 8.1, according to my dads car, no garmins in those days!) so 6:39 pace. I still remember all these stats, worked out in my bedroom the minute after I finished but not before I ran passed my dad in the living room and told him 'beat my best time..... 53:54'. His jaw hit the ground :D

I never thought I'd be running those kind of paces again but it's coming. I feel so strong and still see changes in my legs, arms, core..entire body on a month to month basis! I can't help but feel if I was able to do 3:13 with 12 months training I must have a to more in there. 

I get so much from running, I am so grateful I have rediscovered it. I can't believe I deserted my first love for so many years! I want every woman, mum, girl to run and get from it all that I do. They just have to be slower than me ;)