Sunday, August 24, 2008

Four five-mile runs

Today we had 20 miles on the schedule. Despite running pain free this week, the leg workout Danielle gave me Wednesday basically destroyed my quads, so I didn't run much up to Sunday. I did go out dancing...in heels...twice.

So Aleks and I really wanted to run a flat course for physiological reasons - my knee and her hip issues are exacerbated on hills. And Portland is a really flat course, so I felt okay with an easy run.

We decided to leave her car at a park along the Cedar River Trail and run out five miles, then back five, then meet up with Nancy and Sarah and run five out the other way.

Running this way - with four five-mile sections - made it feel so easy. I felt like every 2.5 miles was actually a milestone: we were halfway through that section!

The first 10 miles was pretty easy. Nancy and Sarah weren't quite ready when we got back to the parking lot, so we stopped for a potty break. I walked around the parking lot for a few minutes and felt...nothing. No soreness, no pain - only the tiniest bit of tiredness.

The second 10 miles was much more interesting, both because of the scenery and because Aleks and I played a game. We had to work into our conversation certain obnoxious words...and every 15 minutes I had to mention that I was an Ironman. It was kinda easy to do that, since today is Ironman Canada 2008. But the other words...including "sausage factory," "beaver," "butt plug," and "corn hole" proved to be a little more challenging...but super-entertaining for Aleks and me. We did let Nancy and Sarah in on the joke by the end of the run.

Whenever I run, no matter the distance, I feel done at 75 to 80% of the run - whether the distance be 6 miles, 16, or 26. Today was no different. I felt fine, but by mile 17, I wanted to be done. But nothing hurt, so I just kept moving.

Aleks decided at 17 to empty the gas tank, so she ran ahead. When I finally reached her, I said, "Am I done? Did I hit 20?" I knew she had her GPS and would have run right up until 20 miles - not 19.9 or whatever. She told me I had to keep moving to a sign down the street a bit, so I took off sprinting to finish it off. I really wanted to get exactly 20 today.

When I finished, I felt amazing. Sure, my legs are exhausted - even now, seven hours later, they're so heavy and tired and I feel almost ill. But seriously, my runner's high today was a flood of serotonin: I felt awesome! I couldn't stop smiling! I ran 20 miles pain-free and in 3:40 - which is an 11-minute mile average, but whatever! I can run happy, if slow.

And now, Aleks and I have one more long run two weekends from now - a 22-miler - and then we taper for the marathon. I'm almost through my hard training!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

We're doing WHAT?

Met Danielle for weight lifting today...where she said, "We're doing legs today!"

OW!!! Pyramid sets of lunges and squats hurt. I mean, you know you're going to be sore the next day when you finish the workout already sore.

But it's all good. I need it.

Ran yesterday; just six miles, but for the first time in a while, the six felt completely effortless. I mean, I did my 18 happy, but I haven't had a truly effortless run in a while. So yay!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Party like a rock star, train like an athlete

This weekend was slated for two events: Christopher Lawrence at Last Supper Club, and an 18-mile training run.

Accomplishing both would be a major feat. After all, a good night in the club means drinking, staying up late, partying, dancing - and to run 18 miles means eating well, hydrating, getting lots of rest.

Hmm. They don't at first seem particularly compatible, huh?

Not even just at first: They're NOT. But I'm happy that I managed - with the help of my lovely husband - to do both.

I took Friday off of work to spend with out-of-town family and the kids. Once my out-of-town relatives took off on the cruise they had scheduled, the kids and I ran errands and got ice cream together, so we spent a pretty nice afternoon. (They were semi-fun errands: getting a microphone stand for Gabriel so he can sing and play guitar at the same time, getting Camille's school uniforms - more adorable than you'd think.)

The kids and I played and made dinner together in the late afternoon, and the babysitter arrived around 9:30. By the time we hit the club, we were ready for a good time. Tons of friends there, great music - it was a blast. Per Danielle's advice, I drank vanilla stoli and soda, but in a tall glass - so only one shot of liquor at a time and lots of soda. I think that helps to stave off some dehydration.

But you know how when you're out at night and you're having a good time, and you don't want the night to end? Well, John and I both felt that way - and he had been invited to a bachelor party in a hotel nearby. The bachelor party had been to the club earlier, so they knew I was with John - and they said it was cool for me to come, too! So I attended my first bachelor party. It was really just a bunch of guys we knew sitting around and being silly, but it was fun.

So we were out until about 4:30. I slept until around noon (John barely slept at all), and then hung with the kids until it was time to go to a birthday party. The birthday party rocked - all the kids were entertained, all the adults sat outside and chilled.

That evening, though, everyone was invited over another friend's house, and that's where I had to draw the line. I said I'd be in bed by 9:30 p.m., and actually I was in bed at 8:30 with two Tylenol PM. I fell asleep and slept until 5:45 a.m. - woke up feeling refreshed and happy. John was awesome - he really wanted to go out, so he got a babysitter even though I was home to make sure I didn't have to referee. We also had a couple extra kids over, doing a favor for another friend.

So I got up, choked down half a bagel and half a banana (so hard to get the calories in in the morning!), and Aleks met me at the house.

I planned a route that involved a two-mile climb half a mile into the run. Ha. Then the rest was all rolling hills - the next 2 on pavement, then nearly 10 on trail, then the rest back on pavement.

At mile 9, I got a terrible pain in my left knee. It felt like my lower leg was unscrewing itself from my knee - like my leg could turn around backwards and was hanging by a thread. It sucked. I could tolerate the pain as it built, but then something would happen and it would get really sharp and painful - so much so that I cried out.

But I was determined to do 18 miles, no matter what. I haven't had a solid long run yet; the 16-miler was difficult cardio-wise, and it was really important to me that I break through and have a good run. And this one, honestly, felt great up until then. I could breathe easily, I felt comfortable, I felt like, frankly, I could run a marathon. So how dare my knee act up?

I walked a few steps - very quickly - and realized it didn't hurt at all while walking. It also didn't hurt much on flat or downhill ground - just uphill. So I decided to run as much as I could, and walk when I couldn't take the pain any longer.

I did this for the rest of the trail route - six miles more. Scheris stayed with me, while Nancy and Aleks ran ahead. We met up with Nancy and Aleks at the trailhead (it's a loop), and Scheris left. The three of us decided to change up the route to stay on pavement, and end at a Starbucks. :-)

On pavement, my knee hurt less - but still hurt. Finally though I realized it hurt the same no matter what speed I ran. The pain changed only with the grade. So I ran as much as I could - and honestly, I pretty much ran the rest of the remaining 3.5 miles - and finished pretty happy.

Weirdly, I feel a lot less sore than I did after the 16-miler. Pretty much I have no muscle soreness, except a tight right calf (which I had before I started the run anyway, I woke up with it yesterday). And my knee isn't too bad - it doesn't hurt at all really while walking, and it only hurts a tiny bit climbing stairs.

I'm probably going to do a short run this afternoon to see how things feel. And I kind of want to see a doctor to figure out what could be the problem and whether I can fix it. At the same time, I don't want to be told not to run...not now, when I feel like things are finally coming back together.

So, my house is mess, my laundry isn't done, I haven't gone grocery shopping...but I balanced the best I could to accomplish some goals. There's always tomorrow for chores!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Remind me to work out when I feel bad

I've been lifting and on a much better workout schedule for the last couple of weeks, and I feel better. Already I can lift almost as much as I could before, and today in a circuit training class I noticed my balance was way better than it has been.

I knew I lost it pretty quickly; looks like it's coming back just as quickly.

Thank goodness! I also am in a better mood...then again, it's only Monday. :-)

Friday, August 08, 2008

Wow, you're fat!

So last night, I'm in a bar. And this is what often happens in my scene - electronic dance music in Seattle, specifically trance and progressive. There are like way way more men than women, and I'm married and somewhat oblivious, so I don't really notice people. Or, it takes me a while to notice them. And I'm busy dancing anyway and trying not to make eye contact with anyone I'm not married to.

Guys, though, they don't have too many women to look at, so they look at them all - including me. Often because they've seen me over weeks and months at the same clubs they're going to, they decide that they know me - and maybe because the scene is small and everyone is connected by probably three degrees, let alone six, they think we've been introduced.

We haven't. I remember people once I look at them and talk to them.

This guy is talking to my friends, and turns to talk to my husband. It's quite possible John and the guy have met before, but I know I haven't met him, though he looks vaguely familiar. We've probably been to like 20 events at the same time and I didn't know.

We start talking; he tells me he works on the same campus as I do, so obviously he's seen me at the office. Hmm. Okay. Then we start talking about bar fights, and how he's never seen one in five years of going to this particular club. And John decides to tell him the story of my bar fight.

So I say, "Well, you know, this was Thursday night after I completed an Ironman on the previous Sunday. I was still all pumped up about being an Ironman and feeling strong and stuff."

He confirms what an Ironman is - "A full marathon, after how much swimming and biking?" and I tell him. He asks where, I tell him in Penticton, in the mountains. And then:

"I thought you had to look like Lance Armstrong to do an Ironman! Wow!"

Of course I smile and brush it off, saying, "Well, no, all you have to do is train properly. I didn't win, but I definitely did it."

A few minutes later, after a change of topic, he's back to: "So, you really did all of it?"

I reply, "Well, yeah, I wouldn't be talking about being an Ironman if I didn't!"

So of course I'm just thinking, wow. This guy thinks I'm totally fat, not athletic, not capable of finishing an Ironman.

I should kick his ass!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

16 miles? Yeah, I can do that.

That was what my schedule said for this week: 16 miles. And although I was positive I could do it, I was less sure I could do it with other people who might run faster than me.

Couple that with the fact that I knew Aleks had a particular pace range in mind and that it was important to her to run continuously - not stopping and starting - and I was nervous.

I debated bringing my Zune; I knew if I had it, I'd feel more like it was okay to run alone, but if I didn't and I ended up running alone, it would suck for me.

I brought it.

The first four miles were easy; both Aleks and Allison had their GPS thingys on, and though they each said different speeds, it felt like we were running really comfortably (and we finished the four miles in between 40 and 45 minutes, which was the goal pace). My heart rate was in the low 150s except on the uphills.

But after the four, we picked up another friend of Aleks' and the pace. He was also wearing a GPS, and all three of them showed pretty dramatically different paces. So I always go by RPE and heart rate anyway, but soon we were running a pace that put me in the high 160s on flats - which to me said we were running faster than we started out. And since I thought the pace we started out was what they wanted to go, I felt like we were going too fast.

I didn't want to say anything and look like a whiner, though! The fact is, I'm nowhere near as strong as I was last year, and I look at myself and think, "Maybe you're getting tired. Maybe you're weak. Maybe the pace hasn't really picked up and you just can't cut it."

Except realistically, it had. Aleks' friend is a much, much stronger runner - he's done a 3:02 marathon, she said, and qualified for Boston three times. At the same time, I had nothing to back up my assertion that we were running faster now except my RPE and heart rate - which are really only good for telling how *I* feel, not anyone else.

So we ran together, we sped up sometimes, we slowed down sometimes, and we got to 13.2 miles together when we hit this massive hill.

Oh wait - to this point I had no abnormal pains. Obviously my heart rate was happiest closer to 160, and at times my legs felt heavy and my muscles felt tired, but nothing bad. I did start out running on a really tight left hamstring, but after the first four slow miles it loosened up and felt normal.

So we start up the hill...and I slow down a lot. I let my heart rate climb to about 174, and then just slowly jogged up the hill. I put on my headphones without stopping and just kept moving. The hill was long - nearly a mile - and they waited at the top for me (which I felt bad about).

The rest was not bad. Once you hit 14 miles, you know you're getting the 16. Aleks and I ran slightly faster the 15th mile, then she asked if I minded if she ran it out for the last mile. Of course I didn't, so she took off. I actually sped up too, lengthening my stride. My heart rate climbed, but I felt good. I think it might be better for me to change my pace while doing long runs - spend 30 seconds each half mile or so really running it out, to change things up. It made my legs feel way better.

When I reached the end, Aleks told me I was a couple tenths of a mile away from 16. She had run a little further to get the full 16; I wasn't going to worry about it. I'm okay with approximations of distance. No race I've ever run was perfect against someone's GPS. Mentally for me, the cafe we parked at was the finish line; I crossed it feeling really good.

So, I didn't do 100% of it with the others, but I did do most of it. I didn't really feel totally prepared for this run, but to be honest, now, after showering and stuff, I feel pretty darn awesome.

Nothing hurts very much; I have a little muscle soreness (but way less than I had the past few days from circuit training) and I get stiff if I sit for too long. My left knee hurts a bit - probably from the compensation I did at the beginning of the run because of my sore right hamstring - and going up and down stairs kind of sucks. But I feel good. I always feel like the first run you do in marathon training beyond a half-marathon distance is a breakthrough run - it's going over what I feel like a totally reasonable running distance is into the "wow" territory. And I did this one way happier than I did my first 14-miler my first marathon season.

So I'm on my way back...this run proved to me I've still got some catching up to do to be back 100% with my friends, but I'm pretty close. And I certainly know what to do to get there.