Running and things…

I don’t want to write an organized blog post, so let’s just go with a list.  Nah, bullet points. –

* The Runner’s World Summer Run Streak is starting up next week. I still really want to do it even though I know it’s not a good idea.  This is how I will fix that: I will do a summer stretching streak…in lieu of running at least 1 mile every day from memorial day until July 4th, I will stretch every one of those days. Huzzah! I’ve solved it. Stay tuned for my progress…also, feel free to check up on me, stretching everyday is not as easy for me as running every day.

* Talking about a stretching streak has made me want to do other types of streaks too. Like a cleaning/decluttering streak, and a knitting streak, a blog streak, and a board game streak. I tend to go overboard.

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I knocked off the Runner’s World image with my crazy awesome paint skillz

* My sister had a BABY yesterday.  A little girl. I’m so excited to see them all in a couple weeks when I make the trip back to my hometown. Do you know what this means? Another potential family member to run turkey trots with (I know, I’m getting ahead of myself). What age is appropriate to buy a baby her first pair of running shoes? It’s older than two weeks, isn’t it?

* I haven’t run since last Thursday. It feels like FOREVER. Isn’t that funny? I mean it’s only been 5 days, but it still feels like a very long time.

* I “have” a fitbit flex. I mentioned it’s brokenness in another post a while ago. I downloaded a software update and it went bonkers. I contacted support and found out they couldn’t fix it. They had FedEx send me a shipping label. Eventually, after me asking multiple times, they explained that I should send parts of it back. Eventually, I did that. It was a ground label and took an entire week to get there. Finally yesterday (it’s been over a month since this started – thanks to their and my slowness), I got word that they will ship me a new one. Hurray! But wait, the color I currently have is out of stock. So, I get to wait until they get them in. Then I can wait another 5 to 9 days for it to get to me. I contacted them to see if I could get another color, but no response.  The color doesn’t matter. I didn’t have to send the strap back to them, I already HAVE the strap in the color that I’m waiting for them to get so they can send it.  Come on FITBIT! Don’t you know I have a problem with lack of patience?

* I want/need to run a five mile race. I haven’t run one in a long time. And I know I could PR easily.

* I save all of my race bibs. I didn’t do this on purpose from the start; one day I noticed that I had saved all my bibs, so I started doing it on purpose. Last Christmas my sister gave me a BibFolio to hold all my race bibs. I decided to use it for bibs from my PR races (I already have a binder full of bibs, and the BibFolio is not big enough to hold all the bibs I anticipate accumulating over my life time). I like it a lot.

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Bib’s on disply

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My 6.66 mile race PR. The Devil’s Chase is such a fun race. 🙂

 

* It turns out I didn’t actually save EVERY bib, and I’m missing the bib from my current 5 mile PR. So, now the BibFolio is missing a distance. See, I need to find a five mile race and set a PR. Until I do, my poor BibFolio will feel incomplete.

* I made a board game once, and it was really fun. For a few years, on and off, I’ve wanted to make another board game – a Harry Potter themed one. I’ve started working on the game, but haven’t really followed through. I recently got the idea to make some kind of running board game. But first, I must dust off and finish the Harry Potter one.

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Pieces of my HP board game board. Yes, this is a very involved board game. #GoBigOrGoHome #YOLO #BestBoardGameEver #HP4LIFE

* I’ve been taking Epsom salt baths. Well, I’ve taken 3 over the course of 4 or 5 weeks. I’m not sure exactly if they’re helping with leg soreness or whatever else they do, but it is relaxing. So, I’m going to keep it up. It’s certainly more enjoyable than an ice bath, that’s for sure!

Well, I’ve reached the end of my bullet points, thanks for hanging in there. Until next time…

 

The Friday 5 – 6th Edition

I hope you’re having a lovely Friday! I’ve had a productive week, and I’m getting a lot done today, too. I’m still looking forward to the weekend, though (specifically because of number 1 in the list below):

1. I have a race this weekend! Have I mentioned that yet? Wait, I think I might have. I’m pretty excited about it. I haven’t done a goal race since October, and no races at all since January 1st. Training has been awesome. What will I train for next? Think I’ll break 2 hours? Let’s Race!

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Last race I ran. I won’t have to be quite so bundled up this weekend!

2. Friday is chocolate banana oatmeal day As if Friday wasn’t good enough already, we save the most delicious oatmeal for Friday mornings. It is so good. 

3. I think I may break out the Juicer next week We’ve had a juicer for 4 years, but have made juice only 3 or 4 times. It makes really delicious juice, but it is A LOT of work and cleaning it sucks. Now that I have some more free time on my hands, I think I might break out that bad boy. Know any good juice recipes? My current plan is to buy whatever fruit is on sale at the grocery store tonight.

4. I loved the Holiday Running Streak I had never done a running streak (on purpose or accidental) before this one; I’m very into rest days. Before the streak started, I didn’t really think too much about it, and I wasn’t very invested in keeping it going, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. I believe Runner’s World also “sponsers” a Summer Running streak. I’ll have to look into that.

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Day 1 of the running streak was a Turkey Trot.

5. My Fitbit is broken Last Friday the tracker went bonkers and started blinking like crazy, and won’t do anything else. I submitted a claim right away and got a response a few hours later (good job, Fitbit). Unfortunately, they told me that it’s broken. They asked for some info, which I sent the next day, but I have heard nothing since then. I sent them another email on Wednesday asking what is happening, but haven’t gotten a response. I’m annoyed. 

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Butter Lamb 2014 is photo bombing my post! She’s so mischievous. 

Enjoy the weekend! Good luck at any races you might be participating in!

Race Week – Being Prepared

I was (obviously) never a boy scout, nor do I have any special connection to them, but their Always Be Prepared motto is one I can get behind 100%. It is rare that I voluntarily get into a situation for which I am unprepared; this goes for regular life as well as running. I tend to go over every possible scenario in order to prepare myself for the worst case, and when travelling I have an extremely difficult time packing because I want to bring everything.

Now that I am only two full days away from running my goal half marathon, I want to make sure I am prepared. While I’m not super confident I will be able to get the finish time I want; I feel like I have prepared well. When I look back on my training, I know I put in all the hard work my training plan called for, and I’m not having any “well, what if I did….” thoughts. I did my speed work, my long runs, and I ran hilly routes as often as possible (including using the treadmill hill programs). Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I know I will be able to run a strong race.  Hopefully, a strong race will mean sub-2 hours.

The Will to

One of my favorite running quotes.

In addition to the running, I’ve tried to prepare mentally by coming up with some sort of race strategy. I babbled about my indecision yesterday, but after days of pondering, I think I’ve come up with something that will work:

* I have a list of paces I would like to hit. Let’s call this my wish list. For the majority of the race, I’d like to run 9 min/mile. I will start slower, and work my way down to that pace over the course of the first 3 miles. Then once I hit 10 miles, I will attempt (the impossible?) to pick up the pace. My last mile will (unrealistically?) need to be my fastest.

* I am going to run by effort. My watch is set to show distance only on the first screen. I will check in after each mile to see how my pace matches up with my “wish list” pace. Based on this comparison and how I feel, I will adjust my effort. This should allow me to adjust my pace naturally when running each mile instead of being a slave to the watch.

* I am going to eat two gels during the race. I will have the first gel at mile 5 (cherry chocolate w/ lots of caffeine) and the second at mile 10 (salted caramel w/ reasonable amount of caffeine). I am terrible at eating the gel while moving. I slow down a lot, and in my last long run had to stop and use my shirt to wipe gel off my face and hands. My plan is to eat them slowly (over a 1/2 mile maybe) in order to not mess up my rhythm (or clothing).

* I am going to carry my own water. I’ve been running with my camelback, so it’s not really an adjustment. It’s nice to run without anything and I don’t think I need to have water between the water stops, but given my gel eating issues, I’d like to have access to water whenever I want it. Plus it is always kind of fun to just zip by a water stop while everyone else is attempting to grab cups and get some water in their mouths instead of just down their shirts.

* I am going to bring my iPod shuffle. I might not turn it on, and will only put it in one ear (the course is open to traffic), but I might want some music in those last few (fast) miles.

Aside from the mental game, there are a few other small details that need to get worked out before a big race. And, I think I’ve got those covered, too:

  1. What to wear: Shorts, Knee-high Socks, Shirt (exact socks and shirt TBD based on weather)
  2. What to eat for breakfast: White bread toast w/ strawberry preserves and a banana
  3. What to have for dinner the night before: Some kind of pasta w/ a bit of sauce and some bread.
  4. What time I want to get to the race: At the start of packet pick-up – or whenever Jeff says is good.

I haven’t actually laid out my clothes or bought the food above, but I’ve made all the decisions, and that’s the hardest part. I guess I’m pretty much ready to go. I’ve even painted my toenails Lickety-split Lime – I think it sounds fast!

I’ve read every email they’ve sent, I’ve read the athlete guide twice, and every word on the race website (even race director bios). I’ve reviewed the race route and (scary) elevation profile a few times. I know roughly where the big hills appear, but I might check it out a little more. I don’t want any of the hills to surprise me. I want to be prepared to see them when they show their ugly faces. It may not make much sense, but I’m sure I will run up them faster if they aren’t a surprise.

How prepared are you on race day? Have you ever gone into a race unprepared? Do you ever over prepare for anything? Is it even possible to be over prepared? 

Race Week – Obsessing over Strategy

I had a terrific long weekend! Passover Seder on Saturday, Easter on Sunday, and Patriots’ Day & Dyngus Day on Monday. It was a great weekend filled with family and food, and it ended with Meb’s awesome performance at the Boston Marathon! In my opinion, there couldn’t have been a better result for the men’s race. I was literally jumping for joy in my living room when he crossed the finish line.

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This is a picture I took of my television. I still have the entire race recorded. I plan to watch Meb’s last 3 miles before every distance race I ever run for the rest of my life.

I would love to one day qualify for and run the Boston Marathon. The way I see it, there are two things I can do to qualify: First, get faster. Second, get older. With my current marathon PR, I could qualify if I were in the 70-74 age group. (After my first marathon, I would not have been able to qualify at all – I’m making progress!) I just have to keep moving up in age groups while maintaining “speed.” Preferably, I will get faster as I age, and will BQ a decade or two before age 70. Easy enough, right? (Hear that body? Defy age and continue to get faster!)

Anyways, enough talk about my fail proof plan for getting into Boston, I have more pressing things to think about right now…it’s RACE WEEK!

There are 4 full days, and only 2 easy runs until race day; and I’m not obsessing about the race at all. HA. Race day strategy is pretty much the only thing I can think about. I’m having a huge internal debate on whether I should run by effort or shoot for specific paces every mile (obsessively watching my pace). On the one hand, the former sounds much more enjoyable and I’ve done well running by effort in the past. On the other hand, I’ve never run by effort with a time goal before, and how can I be sure I’m running fast enough if I’m not checking the watch…obsessively?

This weekend I spent a few hours playing around with paces in a spreadsheet. Turns out that there is no way to run slower than goal pace and still make my goal. Odd. I wish that goal pace didn’t sound so fast. In the end, the spreadsheet just proved what I already know – I need to minimize my number of “slow” miles, and for every slow mile l need to make up for it with a fast one. Good to know, but the fast miles are so scary sounding. Unfortunately, this exercise stressed me out a bit. I was feeling more confident when I wasn’t analyzing exactly how fast I need to run every second of the race. While that’s not a great side effect, it did help me understand the effort that will be required to reach my goal in this race. I will need to be outside of my comfort zone for a good long time.

After spending all that time analyzing paces, I’m still not sure I want to watch my watch so closely, and I’m leaning towards some combination of running by effort and watching the clock. My current (this could change at any minute) plan is to “take it easy” for the first 3 miles and only look at my watch for distance. Then I will start speeding up and settle into a “comfortably hard effort.” Once I get a rhythm going, I will start checking in on my time/pace. I’ll continue in this mode until around mile 10/10.5. From there, “full speed ahead”.

Ideally, these efforts would translate into 9:15 pace for the first 3 miles, followed by 9 min pace for the next 7 miles, and then faster than 9 for the last 5k.

The main thing I worry about in the “run by effort” plan, is that I will run too slowly in the first part of the race and will never be able to make up the time. Logically, I know this is ridiculous. I always have to chant “slow down” and “take it easy” at the beginning of long runs and races in order to ensure that I don’t go out at some insane speed. I have never seen my first mile time in a race and thought “Gee, that’s too slow.” I usually wonder if my watch is broken because it’s clearly showing an impossibly fast time for what feels like an easy effort. I also think that any extra time I take in the early miles will pay off in the late miles. I read something once that said that every single world record race time was achieved with negative splits.

I could debate about this with myself for hours. Actually, I have. I’ve been thinking about this too much, and and sadly I’m probably not done thinking about it yet. At least I’m closer to a decision than I was over the weekend, and I think my hybrid plan might be the right one. I’ll let you know what I decide.

Do you obsess over race strategy? Have you ever run by effort in a time goal race?