Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Six Impossible Things...or 500 of Them!

I don't like asking people for money.

Doesn't matter to me if those people are my parents, my friends, the cashier with the penny stash that will help me get to exact change, total strangers. I don't even like to ask my husband to pass over a $20 bill when I need some cash. It's not because he's stingy or controlling--and I do believe that most of the people I know are generous.

I figure most charity-minded folks already have the causes they support and that being hounded by me to support my causes would just make them feel guilty and resentful--the way I feel when the fresh-scrubbed, ubiquitous clip-board toting kids in Boulder approach me with a bright yet pushy, "Got a minute for cause X-Y-Z?" This is why in all my years of racing (more than a quarter century!), I've never run for a cause.

My attitude about asking for money, though, is somewhat irrational. I know this because when my friends ask for donations to further their athletic fund-raising goals, I almost always give--no resentment, no guilt. In fact, my friend and Top of Utah Marathon partner-in-crime Erin is raising money for a great cause--and she's doing a giveaway, too! Check it out here and help her meet her NYC Marathon fundraising goal.

When the fickle hand of fate favored me earlier this week, selecting my lottery number for the Houston Marathon, I decided it was time for me to join Erin and other generous friends and give back some of that good karma. So over the next six months, as I prepare for Houston and work towards a BQ at one of my upcoming marathons, I will also be raising money--$500, to be exact--for a cause I believe in: the Houston Food Bank.

This commitment scares me almost as much as committing to run 26.2 miles at an 8:30/mile pace. But assuaging the hunger of the needy is basic, something we can all get behind. We have a problem with the kind of neediness that sends people to food banks even here in wealthy Boulder. How must it be in a big diverse city like Houston?

So please go to my fundraising page and help me achieve this goal--which really when you think about it matters way more than whether or not I BQ.

Lewis Carroll wrote, "...Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." I don't have anything cool to give away to those of you who help out. But here I am asking.

Impossible thing number one: check.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Houston Marathon: I'm In!

In the wee hours of the morning, as I slumbered in my own bed exhausted after the trip home from Missouri with my sleep-deprived children, I got the email confirming that I had made the lottery cut for next January's Houston Marathon.

This is exciting because not getting in would have entailed finding a much-less-palatable Plan B race. Houston was my first marathon, way back in 1997, and I know the course. It's flat, fast and (usually at that time of year) nice and cool. I also lived there for seven years, four of them when I was in college at Rice University and another three working after that. I have lots of friends in town, some family too, and this will hopefully mean that even though Dan won't be able to come I'll have some people cheering for me.

Two other awesome factors: my friend Kathy also got in--this will be her second marathon (she's running Portland in October)--and the Olympic Trials Marathon is the day before the general race. So we'll have lots of inspiration from watching some of the people on this list vie to make the team that will run in London later next year.

A BQ there would sure be a nice 39th birthday present for me! Anyone else out there running Houston in January?

Last Thoughts on the Reunion

In the end, my high school reunion was a mixed bag. It was great to see people I've kept in fairly good touch with (in particular, my friends Angela, Scott, and Chris and their spouses), and to touch base with some other friends (Amy, Brian, Mike, Alice, Meghan, Laura and others) whom I hadn't seen in a very long time. But I sort of wish that we had all just gone together to a winery on our own. The music at most of the events was too loud (c'mon, we didn't come to dance or over-drink; we came to talk; it's not lame--that's the way it is when you're renewing old ties).

One positive thing I took away from the weekend (besides my 14-mile run!): it's much more interesting to talk about other people than it is to obsess about yourself. My mom has been trying to drill this in me for years, and I'm still learning.

Part of me wanted this to be like a big "so there" to a bunch of people I'm still mad at after all these years (as in, "hey, look at me, I'm thin, fit, *faster* than I was in high school...and I have cute kids, a great husband, a job I like and I live in one of the most beautiful places in the country"). But (gasp) nobody really cared. And you know what? I'm OK with that. I don't have to say "so there" to anyone. Living well is the best revenge, if any of us need revenge at all. And I'm happy to say that the people who might have a few "so theres" for me all seem to be living quite well, too, thank you very much.

Friday, June 24, 2011

14 Miles and My 20th High School Reunion

This morning I woke up at 7 a.m. Central Time on the dot and went out for my long run. It's a Friday, not my usual long run day, but this weekend will be filled with activities celebrating the fact that 20 years ago I was 18, and graduated from high school, and I didn't want to have to wake up early and run double-digit miles after being out (maybe late? not sure I still have that in me!) at a bar with old friends.

Everyone else in my family was still asleep, but the sun was well up and angling down the hill of my mom's street. I walked until the Garmin caught the satellites, then started at a slow jog. By the end of mile one, I felt good. The first six miles passed easily, fueled by sea-level air and the fact that the heat and humidity I'd heard about earlier in the month had given way this week to temperatures and moisture levels not so unlike what I'm used to back in Colorado.

I thought a lot about high school, of course. Some of the people here this weekend I've kept in solid touch with; others I haven't seen at all since high school or visits home during college. Most of my memories of high school are good ones, but not all of them are (are anyone's???). And there will be people at the parties this weekend to whom I wasn't always very nice. Hopefully we've all grown up enough and understand that everyone was young and, to varying degrees, selfish and tunnel-visioned back then. But who knows? I myself remember some slights from high school that still prick at me.

The other thing I regret from my younger days was being soft, and a quitter. I took the easy chemistry class rather than the hard one. I had a paper route and often bailed on it rather than get up at 4:30 a.m. to fold papers before school on cold mornings (needless to say the paper got a lot of complaints about me). I can think of other instances of this tendency too, and I wouldn't be surprised if this is how some of my old classmates remember me.

But I didn't quit on this morning's run--all 14 miles and two-plus hours of it. With each footfall, I hope I'm becoming less the way I was then and more somebody stronger. I even, as my McMillan plan suggested for today's run, threw in some 15-second pickups at the end.

Quitters wouldn't do that, would they?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Steve's BQ: My First Guest Post

My friend Steve after the 2006 God's Country Marathon in Pennsylvania.

In 2001 and 2002, I lived in Far East Russia teaching English in a small village as a Peace Corps volunteer. The experience was supposed to last another year, but it was cut short when the Russian government refused to renew the visas of most people in my group of volunteers. All that's left me of the experience now are vivid memories, some waning knowledge of the beautiful Russian language, a musty box of papers and photos...and some friends.

One of those friends is a guy named Steve. Steve could always be counted on to provide a sense of humor (sorely needed at times; serving in the Peace Corps is not easy) and good advice (when he and two other awesome friends visited me in my town at one point, he told me to buy a boom box; I had been hesitant to spend the money, but found that having access to my own music all the time really lifted my spirits).

When we all returned to the States, I didn't see Steve again until he came out for my wedding in 2005. And later that year I saw him again. You see, Steve is a runner. Coincidentally, we both ran the New York Marathon that year. Not coincidentally, we met up for a celebratory beer afterwards.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, Steve ran two other marathons in quick succession after that. In February 2006, while back in Colorado Dan and I were beginning to contemplate trying to get pregnant, Steve qualified for Boston. He's now on a course to run 50 marathons in 50 states (here's a map of his progress on that goal). And, in a sweet reversal of roles, I contemplate Boston on a daily basis, while Steve and his wife are about to become parents.

Here in his own words is Steve's take on marathoning--it has everything: pain and suffering, advice, romance, and of course lots of running. A big thanks to him for working so hard on this post!


I click the bookmark for Terzah’s blog a few times a week because I’m fascinated by natural experiments. I am currently a doctoral student in political science. The science part enters when thinking about and measuring which variables influence the likelihood of a political action—a state passes bill X because of factors Y1 and Y2. Runners likewise focus on those variables that influence our X, our race times. An evil, evil man was right in dividing the world of variables into a set of three: known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns.

Marathon training plans comprise the known known variables. Each of these controllable Y variables—a better diet, increased miles, speed training, sound sleep—has proved correlated with faster race times. I’ve always wanted Runner’s World to bestow upon a random sampling of average runners all of the vestiges of elites’ training—dieticians, running coaches, the best equipment, massage therapists, and the designated free time to train—to see how much the environmental effects of nurture can close the advantage gap given some by nature. Terzah has thankfully decided to run a scaled-down version of this experiment on a sample size of one.

Runners have less control over the second set of variables, the unknown knowns. We can select marathons with differing field sizes and types of courses and terrain, but the race day weather is not a certainty. Runners of the 2007 Chicago Marathon had probably not trained for an 88 degree, high-humidity, late-October race day.

I give credit to the right alignment of variables in each of these two categories, but I believe one variable in the third set, the unknown unknowns, was responsible for my achieving a Boston Qualifying time at the 2006 Austin Marathon.

Why I (Still) Run
My reasons for continuing running have always centered on the personal. I usually do not train for or run marathons with others. A personal drive sustains my daily running. But the hallmarks of my running career—running my first marathon, getting hooked on running marathons, and qualifying to run the Boston Marathon—have come about in response to others.

I ran my first marathon in 2003. My brother asked me to run the Marine Corps Marathon with him so I could be there when he proposed to his girlfriend. I did, and he did, and she said yes. In spite of that happy occasion, my most enduring memory of that marathon finish is still the barely resistible urge to curl up on the soft lawn of the Iwo Jima Memorial and weep myself to sleep in the warm October sun. I was not hooked. But, a year later, again upon request from a friend, I ran the Chicago Marathon. Having this comparison data point was what hooked me; I needed to see the quantifiable measures of improvement that the race clock provides.

I immersed myself in data, literally running the numbers on my Garmin over the next year. But I soon realized that I did not love running these data, nor do I like to train. There are really only two parts of running marathons that I do enjoy: 1) signing up and 2) finishing. Everything that comes in between those two activities—training, eating better and drinking less beer, scheduling, etc.—aren’t really my thing. But they are prerequisites for the enjoyable parts of running.

To hardwire my brain to understand this connection, I created a reiterative incentive structure by committing to run a marathon in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This overarching goal has provided the opportunity to sign up for and finish a seemingly endless diversity of races and led to the following wonderful discovery: spacing marathons close enough together both reduces the time between the incentive payoffs of finishing a marathon and signing up for another and eliminates the need to follow the traditional, four-month marathon training regimen. I replaced the four-month training program with the following one-month plan (patent pending).

Week 1: You just ran a marathon. You deserve chicken wings, beer, and a week off.
Week 2: The marathon is in three weeks, better start training! Run 6 miles T Th and 10 on Sunday.
Week 3: Time to taper to preserve glucose blah blah etc. Run 6 miles T Th and 8 Sunday.
Week 4: Don’t want to overdo it. Run 6 miles on T, and a marathon on Sunday.
Rinse and repeat.

Steve in action last month at the Brookings, SD, Marathon.

Most importantly, my race times improved from less training. Following a four-month training plan in preparation for NYC in November 2005 I just missed a PR (3:24.45). I was eager to immediately sign up for another, but was cautious about integrating my new training plan. Two months of training after NYC yielded a PR (3:19.30) at Rock n’ Roll Arizona in January 2006. I proceeded with fully implementing my master marathon training plan, and one month later I was at the starting line of the Austin (TX) Marathon in February. My RnR Arizona finish put me within striking distance of the 3:10 BQ required for my age (29) and gender (M). But, despite being so close, I never really thought that I would cut the last 10 minutes to qualify, particularly since my only mimicry of elite training methods was inclusion of a weekly tempo run.

How I Qualified for Boston
I’ve now run 24 marathons, and I believe I can adequately assess some of the factors that portend success (or failure). Three factors enabled me to BQ at the 2006 Austin Marathon. First, the known known variable, was my training. My innovative (read: lazy) training program ensured that I was prepared, but not overtrained. I had none of the nagging injuries that can result from the traditional four-month marathon training program. The second factor, the unknown known, was the weather. Starting time temperature was 28 degrees, and I am a cold weather runner. The third reason was the unknown unknown factor, and I do not recommend it: I ran that race broken hearted.

I broke up with my long-term girlfriend a few days before the Austin Marathon, but in so doing I realized that she was The One. She, deservedly skeptical of my relationship-deathbed conversion, would not answer my calls. Panicked, I left her a voicemail asking her to meet at a local restaurant next Wednesday at 8pm if she was willing to try again, with the understanding that a no-show would end us. With no idea of whether she would show, and with five more days to mull over the possibilities, I welcomed the marathon’s physical pain as a distraction. I ran the first two-thirds of the race trying to achieve a trance-like state wherein I couldn’t think about the breakup by focusing on the act of running itself, of putting one foot in front of the other. It worked to the extent that I was shocked to be on pace for a BQ at mile 18. Then, as I used the physical pain of the first 18 miles to distract myself from myself, I used my emotional pain to distract from the marathon’s physical pain over the last third.

I do not prescribe a broken heart as a training tool, but I do recommend being prepared to take advantage of whatever conditions race day brings. Take care of your known knowns by finding and personalizing a training program that produces results. Control to your best extent the unknown knowns by picking a race that suits your climatic and course-related needs. Finally, prepare yourself to use as motivation any surprise unknown unknowns. Motivation can spring from the most surprising and even unwanted of places, and it is incumbent upon us to turn that motivation into accomplishment.

Oh, and, my wife gave me plenty of time to sweat it out, walking through the restaurant door that Wednesday night at 8:45.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My McMillan Plan!

This morning I ran the second long run on my marathon plan from McMillan Running. McMillan has me running for time rather than distance on my runs, so I did about 12.5 miles in two hours. I'm supposed to take the pace nice and easy (for now) but incorporate hills to get my body used to an even effort on all terrain. And that's just what I did, feeling good for the entire two hours (except for some potty stops--more on that below).

My new plan, because it was written with my past training in mind, resembles my FIRST training quite closely, at least on the surface. I'm in what McMillan calls the "pre-marathon" phase of the cycle. Unlike many marathon programs, which ramp up distance early and then work on speed closer to the race, this program works on speed in the early weeks and on distance closer to the race. The theory is that for a marathon (unlike a 5K or 10K) the endurance part is the most important but that runners on most programs hit their endurance peaks too early for their races because of the later shift to speedwork. For more on this, here's Greg McMillan's article on the theory behind it.

Despite the running-for-time-stedda-miles component, my weekly mileage is up (27 miles last week, 29 miles this week and climbing in the week ahead). The speedwork (so far in the form of stride drills and fartleks) has been hard but fun. I'm still doing one day of cross-training (I just think it's better for my body), but the other one has been replaced with an easy run. I'm trying to be good about stretching after every run, and I'm doing a weight-training class twice a week (no bootcamp for the time being--I think I'm getting plenty of cardio from my running at this point).

I'll be curious to see how this works for me and my Sept. 17 Top of Utah Marathon. I have a test race on July 17 in the ZOOMA Women's Half-Marathon. This coming weekend we are traveling to Missouri for my 20th high-school reunion, so the long run will be done at sea level (though I fear the humidity and heat will wipe out any low-altitude advantage I might have!).

Potty Update: It's official: I'm calling a gastroenterologist this week. Today's long run featured five trips to the bathroom--two at home, two in a golf course port-a-john and one at a friendly 7-11. Five is too many. And every other run I did this week involved a bathroom stop, too. I need to get this fixed. I'm sick of it.

Here's today's run (and you can scroll back to see older ones, including the Garmin's take on the Bolder Boulder):

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Boulder Creek on the run

It's the time of year here when the creek runs high.

These photos were taken at noon today.

Because I think about running now the way I used to think about romance and traveling, with a passionate almost obsessive frequency, the Creek right now makes me think of a runner. So I wrote a little haiku:

She runs not to win.
Fueled by snowmelt, she races
To freeze, burn, worship.

The creek can be dangerous (this sign is just off the bridge on the sidewalk that goes to my library):

But it makes the trail to Boulder Canyon nice and cool:

Since it's poetry day on my blog, here's a shot of one of my library's "Poets' Way" tiles. It says, "I leave no trace of wings in the air/But I am glad I had my flight."--Rabindranath Tagore

A good theme for an average runner: no one will remember our times, but we're glad we had our flights.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Becoming A Little More Like Gumby

Now that I have my McMillan training plan for the Top of Utah Marathon and I've been (almost completely) sugar-free for 13 days, I'm feeling gung-ho about all the details that can help my training.

This morning I tried to stretch. It wasn't pretty.

This is not me.
It happened like this: I went for an easy four-or-so mile run this morning at dawn. It was one of those perfect Colorado mornings: cool, dry, stunning views to the west of Long's Peak. I followed Greg McMillan's instructions about making sure even easy runs have some hills involved, so you're building leg strength (more on Greg's instructions in a later post). And I was home by 6:20 a.m., so I had lots of time before needing to leave for work.

Over the weekend, we happened to have (finally) opened the boxes that contained things like my foam roller and yoga mat. So I got out the latter, unrolled it on the living room hardwoods (it was still kind of trying to curl up, which gives you an idea of how long it's been since I used it) and proceeded to try a sun salutation. I couldn't even touch my toes. Now I've never been super bendy. But through three marathons and lots of shorter races (26 years of running!), I've always been able to touch my toes. Not anymore.

So I took it slow and easy on that sun salutation, really trying to feel where the tight places are (answer: low back and left hip and hamstring, though the right hammy's pretty tight too). After I did five more sun salutes, I could touch my toes again (and even the ground, if you call grazing fingertips on the ground "touching"). Because the hip was so stiff, too, I did some special stretches for that (see this Runners' World link for these).

Now, 11 hours later, my back and legs feel good (the left hip is still twinging). And I know I need to stretch more regularly. As in, after every run. This will mean making time for it, something I'm not great at. But I need to make it across that finish line in September, with a confidence-boosting time--and preferably no sore back.

Are you good about stretching? What are your favorites?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Five Things Friday!

I like these quick hit bullet posts some people do on certain days of the week! So here are mine:

Poppies from this morning's Sanitas hike with Christine. No, I didn't run it again....

1. I mentioned a few posts back that I had ordered a custom training plan for the Top of Utah Marathon from McMillan Running Co., the same coaching/training group that provides the popular running calculator online.

Yesterday, it arrived! Its very presence in spreadsheet form on my computer has already rejuvenated me. Part of this are the personal touches. For example, in the lines for the weekends where I have my two upcoming races (the ZOOMA Women's Half and the TOU Marathon), he wrote, "Good luck Terzah!" This is a guy who coaches elites, wishing little average me luck. Yeah, I know, I paid for it--but's just really nice to sort of have a coach...

I'm all ready to hop out of bed tomorrow at some dawn hour and do my long run.

2.Speaking of the ZOOMA Half, did you know I can get you a discount? If you use the code COLOAM11, you'll get $10 off the half-marathon and $5 off the 10K. Just click the button on the top right-hand side of this blog and sign up! It's on Sunday, July 17 in awesome Colorado Springs.

For those of you who love reality TV, I also got word that Dr. Andy Baldwin--former “Bachelor” from the ABC series and founder of ZOOMA’s official charity partner, Got Your Back Network--will be attending race weekend. He will be speaking at the start line and also congratulating runners at the finish line. I heard a rumor he's single again....Just sayin'....

3. Last Wednesday night, I had dinner with a bunch of the other ambassadors for ZOOMA. One of them is none other than Dimity McDowell Davis, co-author of Run Like a Mother and the super-popular Another Mother Runner blog (and yeah, she will be at the race on July 17, too--she wants to run a fast 10K).

Dimity told us about another calculator online that will take your race times at altitude and convert them to sea-level equivalents. I came home, Googled it and found this one by Runworks. My recent times came out like this:

Bolder Boulder 10K: actual time--52:24; sea level equivalent--50:30
Boulder Spring Half: actual time--1:57:18; sea level equivalent--1:51:47
Snowman Stampede 10-Miler: actual time--1:27:01; sea level equivalent--1:23:17

Grain of salt, I know, but interesting!

4. This is the last formal day of the 10-day Sugar-Free Challenge. Weirdly, I'm struggling more now than I did at the beginning. All day yesterday I just really wanted a cookie, or some sugary peanut butter...something! Part of the issue, I think, is that I let myself eat a few bites of an ice cream dessert when I was out with the ambassadors on Wednesday. But that's been my only transgression and hopefully I'll get past it quickly and move into the second half of my own 21-day Sugar Free Challenge. Whew! I'm right there with you folks out there who have been saying that sugar-free is HARD.

5. Any advice on how to make myself go to bed by 9 or 9:30 p.m. every night? I really think this will be key to my marathon success, but it's so hard! After my kids go to bed, I want to stay up and talk to my husband, read a book or magazine, read other people's blogs online--it's just so nice to not be Mom for a bit.

And yet I know....extra sleep feels good and boosts running....

Have a great weekend and run well!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sugar Free--Day 8

I LOVE sugar. Chocolate is number one, but I'll take cookies, biscotti, honey-flavored name it, if it's sweet, I'll probably like it.

But I know a sugar habit isn't good for my body or my running (except at certain very specific times). Because habits are hard to break, I joined Amanda's Sugar Free Challenge. I wasn't sure I could do it. I've tried this kind of cold turkey approach before, only to fall off the wagon and go back to my old ways many many times.

This time, it's actually working. We're on Day 8 (it's officially ten days long, and started on June 1, though I may attempt to make it for the 21 days that are supposed to be the adequate period needed to change a habit).

What's been the difference for me?

Getting sick last month with a horrible stomach bug, which kept me from wanting sugar or anything else rich for several days ahead of the Challenge, certainly gave me a leg up. The first few days of June soared by with nary an itch for a Hershey kiss. The last few days have been a bit harder. I definitely have a time of the month when the sugar monster roars louder (and yeah, TMI, but that time is now).

Nonetheless, barring a few sugar-free popsicles, one Diet Mountain Dew and some wine on Sunday night (yeah, artificial sweeteners and alcohol are also off-limits), I've been a very good girl. A big part of this has been the idea that I'm not alone. Reading Amanda's own posts about her effort, as well as the comments on those posts, has really buoyed my spirits, made me feel like less of a freak. Wow! There really are other runners, healthy spirits, smart people who know they don't need that Reeses Peanut Butter Cup from the office trough...but who (just like me!) somehow--quite often--can't help themselves. Over-indulging in sweets doesn't make us bad athletes or bad people.

Living in Boulder (of course) helps. I'm not big on promoting products in this blog, but working across the street from a posh organic market really helps with healthy eating. Here are a few things that I've been eating almost daily because they are sugar free and easily available here in the People's Republic.

Justin's Nut Butter (the classic varieties are sugar-free):

Nut butters are NOT low-cal, but they have a natural sweetness, so a little bit of this goodness can take the edge off a sweet craving.

Fruit, Fruit, Fruit!

I've been eating bananas, apples and especially raspberries like, well, candy!

Lara Bars (all the sweetness comes from fruit):

The "jocalat" ones are my favorites. They won't compete with Snickers any time soon, but the chocolate flavor is REAL.

Ezekiel 4:9 Cereal (my friend Josie at work called this "the Bible cereal"):

Not all of their cereals are sugar-free, but Golden Flax and some others are.

V8 Low-Sodium Vegetable Juice (not everything has to come from an organic grocery store):

I checked the label! No sugar! And a good way to get a veggie hit. I'm not as good about veggies as I am fruit.

Plain Greek Yogurt:

I like it plain, but also mixed with fruit, Ezekiel 4:9 and cinnamon.
In addition to these things, I have been eating lots of salads for lunch (using balsamic vinegar and olive oil as my dressing--sorry, I don't do naked salads and I'll never be a raw girl). A good tip has been that eating savory when you're craving sweet can kill the sweet craving, and that seems to work for me too.

I think I can keep it going for another eleven days (and beyond?). It seems to fit in with marathon training. Perhaps this will help me get to my racing weight of 120.

What do you think?! Are you doing the Challenge (or do you eat sugar-free naturally)? What are you eating that has helped?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sanitas Photos

Here are three photos from last Wednesday's Boulder Classic Run #3, courtesy of my friend Christine. She's smart--and has a smart phone! Mine is a dumb phone. I'm not a Luddite. I'm just cheap, and the monthly plan cost keeps causing me to put off getting one that can do cool stuff like take photos. Someday soon, maybe....

Meanwhile, thanks Christine.....

Here's one of the beautiful view (click on the photo to get a clearer look):

Here's one of me with the view behind me:

And here's one of me with more climbing beyond me:

Yes, it's true, Boulder is a stunning place.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Bolder Boulder Race Photo

I look seriously compromised in this photo, which based on the scenery was taken on Pearl St. partway through the fifth mile of the Bolder Boulder 10K last week. And yes I know I don't look slick in my old-fashioned headphones. But I like the pic nonetheless. I actually look like I'm running, unlike most race pictures of me where I look gravity-bound.

The guy in the red on my left is an A wave runner. He probably finished his race and came back to pace his bud or his girlfriend.
I have only rarely purchased race photos (I would have no money left over for the races themselves at the prices they charge for photos), so this is a proof from the brightroom, Inc. site. Is that stealing?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

It Builds Character, Right?

I wasn't expecting great things from today's 13-miler. I'm doing the Sugar-Free Challenge, so there are certain sugar-heavy foods that I might consider as fuel for a long run that are off-limits. Even without that factored in, my legs are still tired from the Bolder Boulder and Wednesday's Mt. Sanitas run.

But marathon training is underway. No excuses.

Since my McMillan plan hasn't arrived yet, I'm following the FIRST program for now. The pace for today's long run dictated by my race performance in the Bolder was 9:47/mile. I figured I could do that even with no sugar and dead legs. And I would have--I was even doing better than that. And then came....

....the Dreaded Trots.

They were the worst yet. I won't go into too much detail, but suffice it to say that I found out what Shut Up and Run means when she says "shart." The little outhouse on McIntosh Lake came just a bit late for me. And when I emerged from there, having cleaned up as well I could, I still had four miles to go. Those four miles (all on city streets, with me just concentrating on one foot in front of the other and not on what the drivers on the road might be seeing of me from behind) were slower than they would have been had my intestines not just firmly shared with me that broccoli, asparagus, tofu and brown-rice stir fry would be a better POST-run dinner than PRE-run.

When I finally got home (thank goodness Dan had taken the kids out to ride bikes) and made a beeline for the laundry room, then the shower, the Garmin told me I had done the run at a 10:17/pace. I'll take it, considering it includes about six minutes in the outhouse and some walking/waddling while I learned how to move as fast as possible in dirty shorts.

Lesson learned. It's back to my low-fiber and safe white pasta dinner on every pre-long-run night between now and September.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Training & Eating News, Boulder Classic Run #3 and May Recap

So I'm (finally) marathon training!

The Top of Utah Marathon is 16 short weeks away. This will be my first test at 26.2 since I committed to my Boston goal. The three-part goal for this race is as follows: Bad-Day Goal: beat my marathon PR of 4:14 set in NYC six years ago; Reasonable Goal: beat 4 hours; and Moonshot Goal (this one's always the same!): beat 3:45 and qualify for Boston.

Because I'd love to hit that Moonshot Goal (realistic though it may not be for my first marathon in six years), I've decided to shake up my training plan. Don't get me wrong: I LOVE the FIRST program. It's gotten me solid improvement in the 5K, the 10K and the half-marathon. The cross-training has been fun and good for my body. My times in these races have all been post-pregnancy PRs.

But my gut has been telling me that I need more mileage--more running mileage--to get done in the marathon what I want to get done. So last week I got out the old credit card and paid for a 16-week plan from McMillan Running.

A lot of you have heard of this Flagstaff, AZ coaching service, which is headed up by Greg McMillan. Some of you have even used it. McMillan writes each customer a custom training plan based on a detailed questionnaire outlining his/her running history and other factors in life that affect running. I filled this out and sent it in yesterday, noting things like the fact that I have little kids and a job, and in the past have gotten overtrained from high-mileage weeks. He emailed back and said he'd have my plan to me in a week or so. I'm excited about McMillan and eager to hear what he has to say about whether and when I can qualify for Boston. In the meanwhile, while I wait to hear from him, I'm starting my training by sticking with FIRST.

In other marathon news, yesterday I entered the lottery for the Houston Marathon. This was my first marathon all those years ago, and I figure a nice flat familiar sea-level course would be a good choice for what might be my first real attempt to BQ. I should know by June 27 if I got in. Anyone else gunning for this one?

Sugar-Free! I'm two days into Amanda's Sugar Free Challenge. So far so good! Maybe it's because of my unintentional detox the other week, but I have had zero sugar cravings so far. That said, finding stuff to eat that doesn't have sugar hidden in it is really hard. I tried to get a can of soup yesterday and was amazed at how much of it contains sugar in some form. I ended up having plain Greek yogurt mixed with Ezekiel cereal and raspberries for lunch.

Hunting for good options will be worth it, though. I'm happy to say that for the first time since I became a mom the evil scale at the North Boulder Recreation Center gave me a weight in the 120s: 129.6, it said this morning. Who needs sugar when I'm nine pounds off of racing weight?

Boulder Classic Run #3: Yesterday I ran Mt. Sanitas, the third of four Boulder Classic Runs I had planned for the spring. Or maybe I should say I "speed-hiked" Sanitas. The first uphill mile took me (drumroll) 25 minutes. Yes, you read that right. Almost a half hour. And if you think the downhill was any easier, you're mistaken. It was more like a rock scramble. Only when I got into the valley between Sanitas and Dakota Ridge could I actually run. The total distance was three miles. It took me 56 minutes, longer than it took me to run Monday's Bolder Boulder 10K.

It was a very Boulder-y way to celebrate National Running Day. But because of the steepness and slowness of this route, it's not one I'll be doing regularly for training. It's a great workout (as the delayed onset muscle soreness in my quads right now can attest!), but I just want a better feel for pacing than this trail offers. Now, when I someday train for the Pikes Peak Ascent, it'll be a different story.....

Before I ran this trail, I hiked part of it with my friend Christine. She took some pics that you can see in this post.

May Recap: May continued my trend of treading water but in a good way. Here are the highlights:
  • Post pregnancy 10K PR of 52:24 at the Bolder Boulder
  • Ran 81 miles
  • Ran Boulder Classic Run #2: Magnolia Road (great place to run; I will return)
  • Attended bootcamp four times and spin class only once (not offered at the rec center during the summer; sniff)
  • Lost five pounds (at last breaking through my plateau)
I think I'm ready to train for the marathon.