Sunday, February 27, 2011

Miles on the 'mill.

12.5 miles on the 'mill today.

That's right: 12.5. Twelve point five.

A mere .6 away from the half marathon and that will be run in the lovely environs of Flushing Meadow Park in Queens. I can totally handle it.

For real. If I can run 12.5 on the 'mill, 13.1 on real roads should be a piece of cake. Of course, I'll be pushing harder in the race, striving to make a time goal that is much faster than I ran today. But still.

In case you're wondering, no, I hadn't planned to run that long on the treadmill. I had grand plans of running outside yesterday. But my baby is sick and he was in rough shape yesterday so my long run was out. Neither of us slept that much last night so I wanted to be nearby in case he needed to nurse (which he did) or in case my increasing sleep deficit finally caught up with me (which it didn't).

I ran this one nice and slow for the first 9 miles and then picked up the pace, running mile 10 at 8:30 and then slowing back down for mile 11, finishing the run in 2:00:30. Afterward, I ate and ate and I plan to eat more. Good thing my parents are cooking dinner tonight!

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

~ Felice

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Paranoia will destroy ya.

File this under "At Least I'm Not as Crazy as the Happy Runner."

Or just laugh at me. Either is fine.

First, by way of background, we're 5 weeks from the half marathon and every little sore anything has me slightly paranoid. When I started to feel a little something in my left knee yesterday I kinda freaked. I never have left knee problems. Whenever I have any sort of foot/knee/hip problems they are in my right leg. Always. So something in my left knee? Yikes-ola.

It was one of those funny-surface feelings. It felt as if some ligament or tendon was just loose and flapping around right under my skin. It didn't hurt, which I figured was a good sign, but I definitely felt the flapping when I walked up or down the stairs and when I sat or stood.

I didn't want to think about what could be wrong.

And so I thought instead about how terrible it would be to have to miss the half marathon. I would be doomed. These thoughts ran through my head all day, especially when I felt the flapping. Stupid knee!

Or maybe just silly, silly me.

You see, on Thursday I had cut my knee. Just a wee little cut but it bled so I covered it with a band-aid. That's right. A band-aid. Apparently, not a tight-fitting band-aid because that was what was causing the weird flapping around feeling on my knee. It wasn't a torn ligament or pulled muscle or off-set kneecap. Nope, just a little bandage on a little cut.

So, yeah. I'm OK. Still on for the half.

Now, doesn't my crazy paranoia make yours seem normal?

You're welcome.

~ Felice

Thursday, February 24, 2011

HMRRC Winter Marathon Relay 2011 race report. Part 2.

If you haven't read Part 1 you can find it HERE.

OK, so on with the race!

Janis and me at the start. Yes, we are in matching jackets.

Before I get too far into it, let me point out that this race is small. The marathon had 77 finishers and there were 43 relay teams. So there were about 110 of us at the start. This meant that there weren't crowds of people holding me back from a fast start. And because I was so itching to race, I needed to be held back.

I spent the entire first mile trying to rein myself in. Pace yourself. Don't go out too fast. You've got miles and miles to go. Live your Plan A. No 7s. No 7s.

That was the big thing. I didn't want to run anything under an 8-minute mile because I didn't want to burn out early in the race and end up dragging for the remaining miles. My goal was to run at a pace I believe I can hold for 13.1 miles, or 8:40 per mile.

Since there were so few people in the race I was quickly running by myself. A few times I fell into step with someone and we ran together for a bit but I was mostly running alone. Occasionally I would pass someone or someone would pass me. Whenever someone passed me I thought about trying to go with them but then remembered by own advice. Run your own race. Live your Plan A. And I would hold back and keep to my own pace.

Which was hard to do at times, given the crippling winds that cropped up throughout the course. But I like to think I did relatively well sticking to my pace.

I had told Suzy, who was running the second leg, that I thought I would finish around 80 minutes. At the first turn-around (the course is an extremely exciting five looper around the state office campus and some roads on the UAlbany campus) I caught sight of the clock (there were no time markers anywhere else on the course) and it read 28-something. For some reason I thought the turn-around was at Mile 3 so I figured I was way off pace. In reality, the turn-around was at 3.5 or so. But, I didn't figure that out until later.

 Waving to Suzy just before the first turn-around.

Suzy was out cheering me on like the super teammate she is and when I saw her after the turn-around, I told her I was probably going to be slower than I had originally thought. She was encouraging, though, and didn't seem to mind. I, on the other hand, did.

Feeling a tad deflated by what I thought was my time through 3 miles, I tried to pick it up. When I hit the Mile 5 marker, though, I realized that I had been wrong at the turn-around. My time was 41:13. Clearly, I was running fine, under my 8:40/mile goal.

So then I just ran. I often had to run with my poor hand in front of my face to block the frigid wind but I kept running strong. I was feeling good and at Mile 7 I felt sure that I could beat 80 minutes so I started to tell myself to run hard. I didn't need to hold back at that point, I needed to push. It wasn't easy to push in the wind and cold but I gave it a shot.

As proof of how ridiculously cold it was, the Gatorade I had in my handheld bottle began to ice up over the course of the race. Yeah, nothing like chugging down ice crystals on the run! Oh, and my jellybeans (my "fuel" of choice) were as hard as rocks when I tried to eat them. I managed to suck on a few of them until they were pliable enough to eat and then I just gave up. Plus my fingers weren't all that happy when I took my gloves off to fish the 'beans out of my pockets.

I pushed on to the turn-around where I saw Amanda and Suzy waiting for me:

Sunny gals! 

I tagged Suzy and she was off on her leg. And then I felt like I would hurl.

Seriously. Poor Amanda had to listen to me curse about the cold and the wind and speak complete nonsense the entire way back to the indoor waiting area. I was just spent. Cold and spent.

But happy! I had BEATEN my goal. Here are my splits:

Mile 1: 8:08
Mile 2: 7:55
Mile 3: 8:17
Mile 4: 8:30
Mile 5: 8:29
Mile 6: 8:19
Mile 7: 8:43
Mile 8: 8:23
Mile 9: 8:46
last .26: 2:06 (8:08 pace)

Total: 1:17:30, avg 8:22 per mile
26th out of 43 overall for my leg (male and female)

Yay, yay, yay!

After I warmed up and grabbed some coffee and a banana, I realized that I had beaten my goal by almost 20 seconds per mile. I can't tell you how happy that makes me!

I changed out of my race garb and then Owen showed up to drop my 4-month old off (so I could nurse him, etc.).

My finger chomper, hanging with the runners!

After I finished my leg, Suzy went out and ran her 5.7 mile leg and Amanda ran her 11.3 miles. Both of them did GREAT! 

Go, Amanda, go! 

Amanda bringing it home for the team!

Not to be too boastful but we kicked some serious butt! Our official time was 4:05:34 -- 16 minutes better than last year! Can't wait to see how much we improve next year.

Suzy, Amanda, me after the relay.

It was such a fun day: Relays are awesome. It was especially fun this year because my good friends Janis and Bridget were part of a team, too. Janis ran the same leg as me, which was her longest run ever! And Bridget ran her leg through some bad foot pain, but she toughed it out. Way to go, girls!

Janis, me, Bridget before the race.

So, here we are at the end. Thanks for your endurance in making it through my race reports! I'm hoping this report is just the first of many for this year.

In the meantime, hope you're all having a good week. Thanks for stopping by!

~ Felice

Monday, February 21, 2011

HMRRC Winter Marathon Relay 2011 race report. Part 1.

Note: I've never broken a race report into parts before but this one was getting too long so I decided to just go for it! Here's part 1!

After Sunday's race, I know what it is like to run 9.2 miles when the temperature is 16 degrees, but feels like 3.

This was the weather on Sunday (thanks, Suzy!):

16 degrees. And windy -- don't let the 12mph fool you. When it "feels like" 3 degrees and you're running into the wind, that 12mph "feels like" 50. No lie.

Yeah, the weather was the talk of the day but it didn't define it. Awesomeness did. Running the Winter Marathon Relay with Team Pink Ladies for the second year in a row was capital-A Awesome! For real.

But it didn't start out that way.

First, there was my sleep. Which lacked. Yup, the one night I really wanted some solid, uninterrupted sleep was the one night that everyone woke me up. Repeatedly. Life of a breastfeeding mom . . . 

Who needs sleep anyway, right? Not me, apparently.

As I've said before, I'm dealing with the less-than-ideal sleep so it wasn't a big deal. I got up, had a breakfast of two pieces of toast with peanut butter, a big glass of water and some coffee. And then a little more coffee. I had packed all of my gear the night before so I was more or less ready to go. But there was one glitch -- Conal woke up with a slight cold (sneezing, runny nose) so that botched the morning plan for the boys and meant I had to unexpectedly rush around before heading out the door to go to the race. And once I did get out the door -- later than I had planned -- the car wouldn't start. What the what?!?!?

I almost screamed. Instead, I ran inside and got Owen and he started the car, promising me that it would start fine later, and then off I went. I rushed and rushed but ended up getting to the race late and flustered. Fortunately, my friends were all there and all helpful. As I mentioned on Friday, the relay was shaping up to be a bit of a running party with so many of my friends running and it really was great to see them when I got there.

I was running the first leg of the relay so being late wasn't cool. Sure, Suzy or Amanda could have taken my leg if I didn't make it there on time but that would have been incredibly lame. Who can't make it to a 10:00 start on time? Fortunately, I made it, bag o' nerves though I was. And with Suzy's help, I pinned my number on my jacket and was ready to go.

First, of course, we had to make time for some group pics. Since I was so flustered, I didn't take any photos but Suzy busted out her camera and let me steal use her pics.

THE TEAM!! Suzy, Amanda, me.

Our team . . . with some of the competition :-)
(Amanda, Suzy, me, Janis, Bridget)

Pics done, we headed to the start line, which was not too far from the nice indoor gathering space but felt like it was miles away because of the cold (did I mention it was cold out?) wind.

We lined up with the rest of the nutty relay racers and the even nuttier full marathon racers. The relay is broken into three legs: 9.2, 5.7 and 11.3 miles. I was running the first leg, 9.2 miles. A decent race distance for this point in my half marathon training. I decided to use this as a tune-up race to check how my training really has been working and to see if I could hold my half marathon pace for the 9.2 miles. In my head, I've been thinking that I should be able to run at an 8:45 pace for the half. With 6 weeks to go until the half, I figured that if I could hold that pace over the 9.2 I would be in great shape to hold it over 13.1 miles. The most important thing would be to not start out too fast, since I'm prone to fast starts and end-of-race fades. Before the start, I told myself I didn't want to have any miles under an 8 min/mile pace. I drilled myself on that. Pace yourself. Pace yourself.

Here I am trying to stay warm before the start:

Futile efforts, for sure.

Just before the start of the race, we turned into uber-huggers and started sharing them all around. Then we lined up and listened to the barely audible instructions and the (no kidding) verbal call of, "On your mark. Get set. Go!"

And with that call, we were off . . .

Friday, February 18, 2011

Ready to race!

This Sunday I'll be running my first race of 2011, and my second since giving birth to my son in October. I'm running the HMRRC Winter Marathon Relay, taking on the first leg -- 9.2 miles. Fortunately, the weather looks like it will be better than it was last year, with the forecast calling for a high of 32 and only light wind (not nearly as nice as it has been the past few days but I'll take it).

Even more fortunate, I'm again running the relay with Amanda and Suzy! AND my friends Bridget, Janis and Melissa are also running on teams. Let's call it a running party, friends.

I've gone back and forth on how to run this race. Part of me thinks I should treat it as a long run and settle in to a nice, easy pace, keeping my eye on the half marathon in 6 weeks. Then, there's that other part of me. The part that says, "Hey, a race is a race and this one is as legitimate as that half you're training for. Race on, Happy Runner."

I'm inclined to listen to that other part.

But I also don't want to jeopardize my training by pushing too hard so I've come up with what I believe is a good compromise: I'll try to run my leg of the race at (what I hope will be) my half marathon pace. Since the race is just 4 miles shorter than the half marathon it should give me a good idea of how I'll handle the pace over the longer distance. I plan to test out my half marathon fueling plan on Sunday, too. I guess this race will be a bit of a half-way test.

I'm excited. I feel like my running is much better than it was when I ran my first post-preggo race in the beginning of December. I hope that proves to be the case!

Have a great weekend, everyone. Good luck to everyone who is racing!

~ Felice

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Half marathon training: Check-in #6.

Welcome to check-in #6!

(More information on the Happy Runner Half Marathon Challenge can be found HERE)

Yeah, I know. I'm a posting slacker. I've just had lots on my mind and stuff going on and I haven't had a chance to sit down and write. Or stand, since that's what I do (did you know that? That I stand at my computer? It works. I love it. G'ahead, try it!).

Anyway . . . it's week 6 of half marathon training. Half way there! Here's what I planned to run / what I ran:

Mon: 5 miles easy / Done! 5 nice-n-easy miles
Tues: rest / Done!
Wed: speed: 3 x 1m @ 5k pace / Done to the DONE! (Wrote about them here.)
Thurs: 4 miles easy / Done! 4.25 easy miles
Fri: rest / Done!
Sat: 11 mile long run / So very done! 
Sun: rest / Done!

Total miles: 25.25

Yeah! This week just clicked: A solid speed workout and an equally solid long run balanced by two easy runs. My 11-miler was my longest run in YEARS and I'm glad I have that mileage under my feet right now. I'm also glad that I was finally able to slow my overall pace because I haven't been able to do that on my last few long runs. Here are my splits:

Mile 1: 10:23
Mile 2: 9:16
Mile 3: 9:25
Mile 4: 9:50
Mile 5: 10:31
Mile 6: 10:17
Mile 7: 9:41
Mile 8: 10:04
Mile 9: 10:27
Mile 10: 9:53
Mile 11: 9:36
last .02: :13

Total: 1:49:34, 9:57 per mile

How about you? How is your training going?

From the feedback I have been getting via comments and email it looks like people are making it through the winter with their training intact. Keep it up!

I don't have a help a reader question this week but feel free to check out the past questions (you can find everything related to the half marathon challenge HERE) and leave an answer if you'd like. Also, if you have a question that you'd like readers to weigh-in on, leave a comment.

Happy Thursday!

~ Felice

PS: WOW on the new Boston qualifying times, huh?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Plan A.

Yesterday, my schedule called for my first speed workout of this training cycle: 3 x 1 mile at 5k pace, with 1 mile warm-up and 1 mile cool-down.

I thought (worried) about this workout all day. Not a good sign . . . 

At my son's 4-month check-up (16lbs, 25in -- big boy!), I thought about the run. Driving home . . . the run. Eating lunch . . . the run. All afternoon . . . the run. Obsessed? Maybe a little.

I just couldn't get it out of my head. Could I do it? Could I run full mile repeats? I like speedwork but I normally keep my repeats to 400s -- short and fast. Anyone can hold a fast pace for a quarter mile. But a mile takes a little something extra. Add in the fact that I had to cut two runs short last week because of my hamstring and, I admit it: I was nervous.

So I started to plan. Or, re-plan, I should say. I'll run 5 x 800 instead. I can handle that. I worked it out on paper and thought it looked good. Hmm . . . maybe just 6 x 400. Fast. I worked that one out and then . . .

What in the what?!?! Was I really working out a Plan B AND a Plan C this early in the game? My first speed session and I was throwing in the towel?

Um, no.

I got it together. I laughed at my foolish self and decided to take my own advice and  live my Plan A. I have a training plan for a reason. The workout is on it for a reason. There's no way I can reach my A goal for the half marathon if I don't go after it. How many more shots am I going to get? Who knows? I mean, honestly, who knows what tomorrow will bring so why not go after your Plan A today?

So, I ran those mile repeats. All three of them. And afterward I felt wiped but strong. This training cycle isn't supposed to be easy and I can't wimp out.

Seven and a half weeks to go.

Bring it, Plan A.

~ Felice

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Half marathon training: Check-in #5 and Help a Reader.

Welcome to check-in #4!

(More information on the Happy Runner Half Marathon Challenge can be found HERE)

Some weeks are just better than others. And, on the other hand, some are worse. Last week was, well, worse. Not terrible, just not as good as my weeks had been going.

I had a sore hamstring all week. NOT at all what I want at this point in my training. But, that's life and so I'm dealing with it. I had to cut my midweek 6 mile run short (by a lot) and I skipped my Friday run. I also iced like crazy and rolled out the sore muscle and stretched well. The upshot? My long run felt GREAT and I made up Friday's run on Sunday and that felt really good, too! 

Now, the hammie is mostly feeling OK but I'm going to keep on icing, rolling and stretching to keep it that way.

I also have to admit that my lack of sleep is really starting to catch up with me. I'm glad last week was a cut-back week because I wouldn't have been able to survive an increase in mileage. This week? Well, we'll see. I think that the extra rest I had last week will serve me well for the increases planned for the next few weeks. 

Anyway, here's what I had planned to run / what I ran

Mon: 4.5 easy / Close: 3.25 easy

Tues: rest / Done! 
Wed: 6 miles w/4 @ tempo / Nope:  I had to stop at 2.25 because my hammie was just too tight/sore.
Thurs: rest /yup
Fri: 4 miles easy / Nope: Took an extra rest day.
Sat: 6.5 mile long run / Done! Ran outside and felt terrific. My hamstring didn't bother me a bit!
Sun: rest / Nope: Ran 4 miles outside and, again, felt great.

Total mileage: 21 / 15.7

C'est la vie. I can't worry that my week didn't go entirely as planned. I still worked hard and, more important, I listened to my body and gave it what it needed. 

*     *     *

Now, some questions from a reader!! Can you help?

Darlene asks:

As a newbie half marathoner, I have a few questions:
1)How soon can I do another? I trained for the lst one for 12 wks. I'm thinking of doing a 2nd on Apr 23 which gives me a 2 wk break before 12 wk training.

2) How do I avoid injury? My friend ran a half in Oct and then trained for another Jan 16 & wound up running it with a hip stress fracture.

3) Is training for 2nd hm different from the first? I know I can now so I will probably want to do more than just finish.

Share your knowledge -- please :-)

How's your training going? Are you staying motivated during these wintry months?

I have to say that I am super glad that I am training for this half marathon because having a big goal is making me stick to my plan and get out and run when I am supposed to. Quite a feat with the weather we've been having in upstate New York!

Have a great week, everyone. Happy running!

~ Felice

PS: Stonyfield Farm & Physician's Formula giveaway HERE!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

January recap.

January kicked off half marathon training and it shows in my monthly mileage! I had a great running month, despite the 33 inches of snow that poured down on our area in January. Sheesh! All the snow and the resulting ice jams on the road in my neighborhood made it so I did the bulk of my running on the treadmill. Not all of my running, just most of it. 

Fortunately, I was able to get outside for all but one of my long runs (ran 9.3 on the treadmill). Even better, I made peace with the 'mill and haven't had to spend my time bemoaning my running fate but, rather, embracing it. And my long run is back up in double-digits. Yay to the yay!

OK, so here's what the month looked like:

January stats:

Running (miles): 95.3
Cross-training (sessions): 2

Oops! I kinda slacked off in the cross training department but, you know what? That's OK. I've been fairly consistent about doing my special little leg routine that keeps my knee/ITB problems at bay so I'll let myself off the hook on the major cross training. 

So, that's the month. I'm looking forward to what February brings.

Before I sign off, though, here are a few links for you:

Yogurt giveaway
Running skort review and discount
Tips for running in the snow

Happy Wednesday!

~ Felice

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