Sunday, July 31, 2011

Marginal Road, and Q&A Answers Part One

I got lots of good questions as part of the viral Q&A (ask me anything, and I will answer, is the theme). In fact, I got exactly 30 questions! Today, I'll answer 11 of them. Apologies for the long, illustration-free post. I'm still in Cleveland. I'll get some pics in part two.

Before getting to your questions, I'll share with you how my Downtown Cleveland 18-miler went yesterday. The short answer is: the *16*-miler wasn't my greatest long run ever, but I got it done, which I figure is pretty good for a working weekend in a strange city.

Here's the long answer: It was too creepy and dark at 4:30 a.m. to go outside, so I went to the hotel treadmill and ran the first 10 miles there. A travel show on Ukraine made the time go faster. However, images from that show were a problem later, when I moved outside.

By then the sun was up but at first it didn't feel too awfully hot or humid. Thinking, "Oh, eight miles will be easy and so much more interesting since I'm no longer on a treadmill with only a TV for company" I foolishly left my new CamelBak behind (more on that in a later post) and brought only a half-full water bottle. The route I chose, provided on a little card by the hotel staff, took me past some scenic stuff at first....but the interesting diversions quickly petered out. Then, it was just me, a busy highway on the other side of a fence from me, the glaring eye of the rising sun...and Marginal Road.

It looked like something out of Chernobyl, which was featured in the travel show I had watched: tufts of wan grass growing out of potholes, a giant power plant, an abandoned aviation high school with boarded up windows, the swampy smell of Lake Erie (unseen for most of the way). "Marginal" is a good name for this road. It could have been the eponymous road in Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer-winning post-apocalyptic book. By four miles out, I felt like a Bugs Bunny character in one of those desert scenes. And at the 16-mile mark, I threw in the towel. I was so thirsty the gutter water looked tasty. But I managed to make it back to my hotel. My T-shirt hasn't been that wet in a long time.

OK! Now on to your questions:

Chris @ Heavy Steps asks...

1. What is your favorite movie?

My favorite movie(s) are the Lord of the Rings series (which are among my favorite books, too). My favorite scenes (in both the movies and books) are the ones where Gandalf slays the Balrog and (of course) where Eowyn slays the Witch King. Go Eowyn! If she were alive in our world, she'd be a runner! And if I were in her world, I'd love to be her. No ethereal elf princess types for me....Among arty think-piece type movies I love "Magnolia" and "Un Coeur En Hiver." Generally I like movies that, even if they aren't black-and-white-good-guys-beat-bad-guys type plots, nonetheless offer some hope for the human condition.

2. What big races do you have planned?

My next big race is the Top of Utah Marathon on September 17 in Utah's Cache Valley. After that, I am signed up for the Houston Marathon in January (please give to my cause, the Houston Food Bank, if you haven't yet! read more here). I may also run the Colder Boulder 5K in December (if marathon training allows; I just love that race)
and a half-marathon if needed as a progress check before Houston.

3. What is your fave about running and what do you HATE about running?

I love almost everything about running, but my favorite thing is the effect is has on my mood and outlook (I believe it has prevented me from suffering a mild form of hereditary depression). I like how it challenges me. As for what I don't like? Hmm...I wish I were better at it, that it came more easily to me. :^) I don't really hate that factor, though. It's just hard to take during those times when you feel like a plateau will be permanent.

Erin at See Mom Run Far (who I will be meeting in seven short weeks at Top of Utah) asks:

4. What would be your ULTIMATE race if money, travel, child care, etc. didn't matter?

I thought long and hard about this question! The London Marathon? The Comrades Marathon? The Great Wall Marathon? And lame as it may sound for someone who does love travel, the two races that are on my must-do list are right at home in Colorado. The Pikes Peak Ascent is the first. I will do this someday soon, I hope. I just have to get to Boston first. (Oddly, I have no interest in the marathon option for this race. It sounds like the down part just beats your body up too much.)

The second: the Imogene Pass Run. This is a 17.1 mile point-to-point mountain race in the western San Juan mountains, run along a route connecting the towns of Ouray (7810 ft.) and Telluride (8750 ft.) by way of 13,114 foot Imogene Pass. I just love that part of the state. I also love trail running. And it sounds like a great way to get an "ultra" type experience in without actually having to do an ultra.

5. If you could go back in time and change anything about your life what would you change (and no saying "nothing")? :)

Oh, there's no chance I'd say nothing! Since everyone makes mistakes, how could anyone have no regrets??

I would not wimp out of cross-country in high school. I would be on the team, even if I were always last and slowest. I would thereby discover sooner that I, too, can be a runner. (And maybe I'd be faster today. :^) )

I would have stayed and hung out with that cute banjo player in the pub in Dingle, Ireland, in the early spring of 1994. I left because I was afraid of being lured into cheating on my boyfriend back in the States. Truth is, I should have broken up with said boyfriend while I was studying abroad (I ended up breaking up with him anyway later). Young people, heed my words! Do not tie yourself down unless you're SURE this person is The One! Unless it's really truly that person, life is too short!

I would not delay my Peace Corps plans a year because of that guy I met. Yes, it's true, I got to have the Peace Corps experience anyway (after it didn't work out with the guy). But I didn't get the full two years. Again, young people, heed my words!

6. If you had to choose between (a) - making CRAZY awesome progress in your running for the next 5-10 years, smashing PRs and kicking butt, but then never being able to run again, or (b) - not getting any faster or any more endurance than you have right now but being able to run for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

I'd take option B. Option A sounds like fun, and I know I'd be sad never to improve, but what would I DO with myself if I couldn't run????

7. Have you always seen yourself as a runner? What would be your second choice sport to be a part of?

I still don't always think of myself as a runner. Kara Goucher is a runner. Expanding that definition to include an average gal like me takes a mind workout for me. But I guess I started to be able to open my mind to the idea more when I finished my first 10K race back in 1995.

Second-choice sport: hiking and backpacking. I'd love to do the whole Appalachian Trail someday.

8. Who is your most favorite blogger from WY that you would MOST want to meet if given the opportunity? :)

That's an easy one! She's this amazing person. You should read her blog (see link above)! She is *fast* and never knew it until last year! She has 12 kids! She is inspiring! And I *do* get to meet her, very soon. :^)

From my fellow Rice University alum Margot at The Faster Bunny:

9. How did you end up in Colorado?

Right before I went into the Peace Corps, in April 2001, I was a bridesmaid in the wedding of my old friends, John and Rosann. At their wedding reception, after much red wine, I ginned up the courage to approach John's cute friend, Dan, who had gone to Rice with John and me, but whom I had never met. "So," I asked him over the band, "are you a runner?" He said yes. We danced. We talked all night. We really really liked each other.

But three months later, I was leaving the country! As much as I liked Dan, there was no way I was going to stay behind again for a guy (I'd made that mistake a few times, as you'll know from reading above this). So Dan, who lived in Denver, came to visit me before I left New York City, and then we went to another wedding in Costa Rica together, and then I visited him in Denver....and then I flew off to Russia for a year.

Dan was the only person from the States who managed to visit me and see my life there before the Russian government decided to passive-aggressively remove us by refusing to renew our visas after just one year instead of the promised two. When I moved back to the U.S., unsure of what I wanted to do next professionally, it was to Denver I moved. And THAT is a decision I've never regretted. :^)

10. Running gear. If you had to run 10 miles without one of these, what would it be? Sports bra, shoes, shorts.

A bra! Being relatively flat-chested has its advantages. That said, I do like to run barefoot on soft, glass-free grass. But I'm not sure I'll ever be ready to do it on pavement, or for 10 miles. And shorts (or covering of some variety on my lower half)? Non-negotiable!

11. Favorite distance ? Least fave distance?

Favorite distance....At this point, probably the half-marathon. It's a cliche, but true to say that it's long enough to be an accomplishment but short enough that you're not wiped at the end. I don't really have a least favorite distance, unless it's to say "The one I didn't prepare for."

More to come! Hope y'all aren't sound asleep (unless you needed that sleep; in that case, glad I could help).

Friday, July 29, 2011

On Unfamiliar Ground

Just a quick post from Cleveland, where I'm parked all weekend for a work conference. I'm currently in the hotel business center catching up on some things.

And I'm also waiting for a call from a local running store. You see, I'm supposed to do an 18-miler tomorrow and I want some advice on where to do it (and where is safe!) and possibly also on whether there are any other crazies around here who might be doing it with a group I could join.

It is HUMID here. No more will I complain of the "heat" in Colorado. I've been for two runs since arriving early yesterday afternoon. I did one on the hotel treadmill (boring!) and this morning's on the sidewalks and roads bordering Lake Erie. The latter was certainly more interesting (Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame! Coast Guard outpost! small lakefront airport!), but despite a constant breeze I felt like I was running under a washcloth wet with warm water. I think Jim of 50after40 is right: training in humidity is sort of like training at altitude; all of my advantage from the latter is currently wiped out by the former.

My goal for tomorrow is just to finish the damn thing and get to my conference's morning sessions on time. If the humidity drives me back inside to finish it on the treadmill, so be it (I hope that won't happen, though, due to the boredom factor).

By the way, it's not too late to ask me questions as part of the viral Q&A (see my last post--apologies that I don't have the link in here; my ability to have multiple tabs and windows open is hampered by the hotel's business center Internet security). I'll be posting answers to these early next week, when I'm back (and dry) in Colorado. I love the questions I've gotten so far! Writing those posts will be fun.

Send good-running-in-humid-conditions vibes toward my wimpy self!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Q&A: Ask Me Anything!

Kind Julie over at You Just Have to TRI tagged me for the viral Q&A that's going around thanks to our good buddy Chris K. at The Manly Runner (I should mention here that Julie in just 13 days will be doing 70.3--that's a half Ironman!--and that Chris K., in addition to being manly, is a Boston qualifier and one of my main inspirations--see the Inspiring BQ Stories page for more about him).


....Terzah. What this means: you can ask me any question and I pledge to answer it (since I've never had anyone leave a raunchy or otherwise inappropriate comment on this blog, I think that's a safe thing to say!).

These can be questions about running or questions that have nothing to do with running, such as, "What was the first album you ever owned?"

I'll go ahead and answer that now: Men At Work, "Business As Usual." It was an LP record (yep, I'm at the tail-end of the last generation to buy those on a regular basis), my parents bought it for me when I was eight or nine years old and I played it over and over again on my Fisher Price record player (unless my dad let me use his stereo), it had a yellow hard-hat construction theme, those guys are from Australia and I still love them. "Land Down Under" there's a song.

My current band obsession is Mumford & Sons. I really do think this group of four scruffy-looking English dudes was sent straight down by God in heaven to remind me that there can be almost perfect beauty in the world. I sometimes forget that. Here's a video of one of their as-yet unreleased songs:

So anyway....if you don't think it will be too boring, ask away! I'm also supposed to tag others with this designation, but almost everyone I read has already been tagged. If you haven't been tagged (and especially if your name is Erin, Christy, Chris C. or Margot), consider yourself tagged now.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Good Things About Summer Running

I kicked off the second half of my training program for the Top of Utah Marathon this morning with...spin class. {cue let-down music} Given my illness last week, and the fact that I ran 15 miles yesterday (yes! got the Long One done!), I took it easy today.

The hard (fun) stuff will resume tomorrow with a set of 6 to 8 Yasso 800s. One thing that works for me with my McMillan Running plan is that he allows a lot of choice on almost every run. Over the weekend, for example, I was told to do a long slow run of 14 to 16 miles. I wanted to do 16 but felt really tired at 14, so I compromised...and with the 15 still did what he asked me to do. Tomorrow I'd love to do all 8 of the Yassos but will once again see how it feels. I'm excited to get back to the track!

Meanwhile, since I know a lot of you are wilting in terrible heat and humidity, and since even though it's drier here it still feels RIDICULOUSLY hot, I'm looking on the bright side of summer.

Here's a list of My Top 10 Reasons Summer Running is Good:

1. No treadmill necessary! I haven't been on the treadmill since June 2. Not only does this make for less boring running, but in my case anyway I think it makes for stronger running.

2. It's not spooky outside when I get out there at 5 a.m. Nope, the birds are already singing, the street lights are winking out and I've seen some spectacular sunrises and mountain vistas.

3. My nose doesn't run (as much).

4. The smells! Flowers! Mowed grass! Honey locust trees and honeysuckle bushes! Warm pavement mixed with sprinkler water or rain.

5. Water tastes better all day.

6. Fewer items of clothing are required. Boy, was I sick of hats, gloves, and tights by May.

7. Ice baths are less shocking to the system. The one I took yesterday was downright refreshing, even that first plunge.

8. I'm much less interested in eating (rich food in particular). Salads, fruit and juice are the most appealing consumables (along with a daily fruit popsicle and the odd smoothie).

9. I don't have to worry about spin class selling out before I get there. The hard-core cyclists are out on the roads.

10. Safe roads--no slipping on ice, blindness because it's dark, unexpected saturation due to sleet or snow.

What are favorite things about summer running? (And don't worry--I'm going to do a list of things I looking forward to about fall very soon!)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Recovery (Run)

After my race Sunday, I woke on Monday ready to attack the next week's training. Monday was a rest day, so I slept in, stretched a lot and concentrated on work.

Unfortunately, by that night, some germs decided to attack me. Specifically, they attacked my bladder, resulting in a screaming urinary tract infection that kept me up all night and prevented my planned 50-minute recovery run planned for Tuesday morning. I stayed home from work, went to the doctor, got some antibiotics and rested.

I felt better, though still not great, on Wednesday morning. I figured I'd quickly improve that day, though (I've had UTIs before and always kick 'em quick once I get the drugs), so not only did I go to work but I packed some running things with me, figuring I could get that recovery run in on break and get myself back on schedule with that recovery run.

Again, the germs had other plans. By the end of the work day, my bladder pain was worse than ever and, even worse than that, had spread to my entire lower abdomen and up the right side of my back. One of the managers admonished me to go home, so I went back to my desk and called my doctor. He told me to head straight to the ER.

Turns out my UTI (which though painful was at least familiar) had headed on up the line and infected my kidney. After six hours in the ER and two different kinds of IV antibiotics, they let me go home. Yesterday (Thursday) I spent in bed, except for a check-in with my doc. But the pain was vastly better, and this morning I'm feeling mostly like myself.

So--finally--I went for that recovery run.

Lucky for me, my doctor works out of the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine. He's the same one who helped with my Morton's neuroma back in February. He's not the kind of guy who tells you not to run if he doesn't have a good reason. What he told me was to do easy runs until Sunday. If I feel good then, he said, I can start to push it again a little.

Best of all, he doesn't think it will set back my marathon training. Which of course is what I was most worried about once my back stopped aching.

Today's run was an easy five miles. I let it fill an entire 50 minutes. I got a side stitch, but other than that felt nothing adverse. Mostly I felt grateful.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Race Picture and New Training Times

Well, I sucked it up and bought a race picture from yesterday's ZOOMA Half. I really like this one, even though I look downright grim in the face. But can you blame me? It was HOT. You can read my race report here.

They claim this was taken at mile five, but I don't remember seeing a photographer at mile five. The only one I saw on the course was just after mile 12, when I started booking it. And that wall behind me, and the brightness (I was still in shade at mile five), also lead me to believe they got the placement of the photographer wrong.

I was also curious what my time in this race would have (theoretically) been had the weather been perfect (perfect for me being defined as about 60 degrees or cooler with overcast skies). And lo and behold! I found a calculator online that does just that. It's from a coaching company called Premier Coaching and you get to it here.

I had to fool around with it some, as when you enter a time it plugs it in as if you ran that time in the ideal conditions, and the directions about subtracting were confusing. So I just entered times until I got mine to show up under 85 degrees (finish temp yesterday was 86, so I rounded down). Here's what it came up with:


I'm very happy about that. And since my training runs are mostly done at 5:30 a.m., when temperatures here in Colorado are much closer to the ideal, and since the marathon I'm training for (Top of Utah) is mostly downhill and won't be run at 86 degrees, I used that adjusted time to compute my new training paces using the McMillan Running calculator.

Not sure if this would be kosher if I had a real coach, but since I don't, I'm going with my own gut and how I felt during the race (which was great). Using that time, the calculator predicts a marathon finish of 3:56:53. That's not fast enough for Boston, but it's a nine-minute improvement over what my Bolder Boulder time predicted.

Getting there, getting there.....and a girl can (and will) dream!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Race Report: ZOOMA Women's Half Marathon

Wow, July is a hot month to race 13.1 miles in Colorado. I'll admit, when I woke up this morning, I had a fleeting thought that it would be much nicer NOT to run this race. I'm glad I didn't give in to that.

I'll start at the beginning!

I arrived in Colorado Springs in Friday night. Since I was a ZOOMA ambassador this year, I worked packet pickup on Saturday afternoon, and my awesome husband Dan agreed to take on the kids this weekend. (It helped that his mom and step-dad are staying with us--they are awesome, too. They made me a spicy spaghetti with tahini sesame sauce when I got home today--but I digress....) I found my hotel (the Hilton Antlers), checked in and found myself *alone* in a big quiet 12th floor room with a king sized bed.

I love hotels. I love how everything is right there for you--a bucket for ice, glasses for water, a throw to cuddle up with, seven or so pillows for your weary body, air conditioning to cool you off (we don't have that in our new house, one of its few drawbacks). I settled right in and proceeded to sleep for eight hours uninterrupted.

On Saturday I helped out with packet pickup, which was a fairly quiet affair. I bought a pretty copper "RUN" necklace with my twins' birthstone on it (turquoise for December) and met some nice runners from Denver and the Springs. One of them, Abby, works at Boulder Running Company in the Springs and is a nutritionist. She's young (early 20s) but self-possessed, and didn't take at all kindly to being quasi-flirted-with by the much-older dude manning the table next to us. He was tall, with his shirt unbuttoned to reveal just a bit too much chest hair (not something that's attractive in a guy at ANY age), and old enough to be her father (or even her grandfather). Why do guys like him always think girls like her want to talk to them?

I also met Sarah Bowen Shea, co-author of Run Like a Mother. I'd already met her co-author, Dimity McDowell, who lives in the Denver area, and I love their book, so it was nice to meet the other half of the duo. Sarah and I bonded over the fact that we have boy/girl twins and that both of our sons like to dress up in dresses sometimes.

The coolest thing about packet pickup itself was the way it assigned bib numbers. The runner walked up to a computer screen, typed in her name and then, when the system recognized her as registered, prompted the volunteer manning the table to scan a barcode on a bib. Voila! Number assigned, right there. And jumping ahead a bit, this race was the fastest at getting results back at the end that I've ever been a part of. The same screens used at packet pickup were set up at the finish party. You typed in your number and there was your time, pace, place, and age group place. Awesome!

Anyway, I got really sleepy toward the end of packet pickup, and since they had plenty of volunteers I headed back to my quiet room and took a nap. Bliss! Then I watched TWO movies on HBO (one lame--something with Jennifer Aniston--and one really good--The Kids are Alright). We also don't have cable at our house (by choice, unlike the air con issue--most TV just sucks and so it isn't worth shelling out the $$$ for it). But watching premium channels when we're in hotels is fun for both Dan and me. Sort of like eating too much junk food is fun sometimes.

Then I figured I'd better eat something, so I ventured out to a local coffee shop and drank some tea and did bridge problems (Dan and I are obsessed with learning how to play bridge--it does for my mind what running does for my body). Then I went to Old Chicago and ate a pizza with just crust and sauce (given my track record, cheese the night before a race would have been a bad idea). Then what could I do but sleep some more???

The next morning, with the start line literally right outside in the hotel's driveway, I had a leisurely time getting ready for the race. I showered, ate a breakfast of 1/2 a scrambled egg, some Honey Nut Cheerios, tea and ice water and welcomed my friend Kathy, who drove down with her running group and stashed her stuff in my room. Soon it was time for the 7:05 a.m. start.

I hate running in heat. And I knew this day was going to heat up fast. The temperature at the start was 72 degrees and 61% humidity (the latter very high for Colorado). With not a cloud in the sky, it had nowhere to go but up. So I kept my goals realistic:
A) Moonshot goal: beat 1:54 (I'd love to go under 1:50 but I knew that wasn't going to happen on this course; it's not as hard as the Boulder Half course, but there was a big hill toward the end and did I mention it was hot?)
B) Realistic step-forward goal: beat my PR from March (1:57:18)
C) Bad-day goal: finish under 2 hours

We took off, heading south for the first mile. I ran into Meg, a runner who used to work with Dan, and her friend Erin. We chatted about how this course looked much nicer than last year's ZOOMA (a beast, apparently) and then I pushed ahead a bit. I was trying to rein it in, but I felt pretty good. My legs at the start had this tingly, let's-run-now feeling, and a mile in I woke up to the fact that this was a great sign and maybe I could push my pace.

The first half of the course was beautiful. Shady downtown streets, an old-town neighborhood with bungalows and Victorians, a parkside path under tall trees...It made the slight uphill barely noticeable. I worked hard on not passing people here, though, as I knew things would shift as the sun rose higher and the course changed to feature less shade and more concrete. About four and a half miles in, we moved to a wide gravel trail with some interesting little ups and downs, and by the time we turned south again, and slightly downhill, we were on a major riverside trail and fully in the sun.

Strangely, the sun didn't bother me. I was comfy in my hat and sunglasses (dumping water on my neck and back at water stops helped too!). Instead, I concentrated on trying to pass people. I found myself following another runner in a skirt and black hat quite closely. Her pace, averaging about 8:40, suited me, so I stuck with her for three or so miles. She surged a couple of times, but I always reeled her in again, and when after a water stop near mile eight she seemed to be faltering I picked up the pace and left her behind for good.

The course got more and more urban, snaking along the interstate and some busy city boulevards and through warehouses and trainyards. Finally, we burst off the trail and onto a wide street. The sounds of the traffic surprised me after the relative quiet of the trail. I had turned my music on just before the halfway point, though, so soon I was able to tune the noise out again.

Just in time for the hill at the 10-mile mark.

I knew the hill would be about two miles long, so I shortened my stride, ate the last of two Gu chomps and attacked it. The first stretch was fine. I even passed several runners (including a few guys, among them Andy Baldwin of "Bachelor" fame, founder of the race's official charity, the Got Your Back network, who had given a pep talk at the start but was now *walking* the hill! nothing against Andy--his charity is a great thing--but it was sort of fun to pass a reality TV person).

The second stretch of the hill, however, looked like one of those crazy climbs in San Francisco. I shortened my stride even more and huffed it upward. My splits slowed to well above 9 minute miles for numbers 11 and 12, and I fretted inwardly about not breaking 2 hours.

But at the 12 mile mark I experienced a shift. And I knew I still had something left. So I sped up. And up. And you know what? It felt great! I passed several more people coming into the finish line (the last 1000 meters was a dramatic downhill--such a relief at that point!). It was like I just needed a gear shift.

The official result? 1:56:32--not a stellar time, but a 40 second PR and good for 6th out of 47 in the 35-39 female age group (the winner of our group ran 1:42:30), 35th out of 266 women and 47th out of 292 people. The temperature at the finish time? 86 degrees, 33% humidity.

Here (copied from the Garmin data) are my splits--they're all over the place but you can see the hill slowing me significantly at miles 11 and 12 and then me taking off at the beginning of mile 13--my fastest mile!

1 00:08:57 1.00 08:57 (chatting w/ Meg and Erin)
2 00:09:20 1.00 09:20 (turned back uphill; I think I overdid trying to go slow here)
3 00:08:55 1.00 08:55
4 00:09:00 1.00 09:00
5 00:08:44 1.00 08:44 (the next three miles drafting off of black hat girl)
6 00:08:54 1.00 08:54
7 00:08:37 1.00 08:37
8 00:08:51 1.00 08:51
9 00:08:20 1.00 08:20 (surging ahead of black hat girl)
10 00:08:36 1.00 08:36 (last flat-to-downhill mile)
11 00:09:21 1.00 09:21 (slowed way down, but I passed the Bachelor)
12 00:09:00 1.00 09:00 (getting it back a bit...)
13 00:08:17 1.00 08:17 (pushing the pedal down!)
14 00:01:57 0.30 06:37 (nice little downhill to the finish!)

You know what else was great about this? My stomach gave me NO TROUBLE in the least in this race. I'll have a post later on what I think helped. For now, I'll just say, it was so fun to run uninterrupted by GI distress.

Final thought: taken at face value, my time in this race indicates I am not ready to qualify for Boston. And the splits above show I have a lot of work to do on pacing. But I think given the heat and the course, running a PR and feeling good literally the whole way was the best I could hope for. My training is making me stronger. I'm excited about the next eight weeks of marathon prep. Bring on Top of Utah!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sleep Plan

I have a marathon training plan. I have an eating plan (sort of).

With my tune-up race (the ZOOMA Women's Half-Marathon) in just over a week, I think I need another plan: a sleep plan.

So I've created another column in the wonderful, geeky training plan spreadsheet furnished me by McMillan Running--and this column outlines when and how I will sleep over the next 10 days and nights. If it's successful, I'll plan it all out through the big day at the Top of Utah Marathon in September.

How will I know it's successful? How do you measure sleep success? Not sure yet. But I have a feeling it will be obvious.

So here's the plan:

For naps--I will not fret if actual sleep doesn't occur. I know from experience that if I need it (and my kids comply with the plan by either staying in their rooms or napping themselves), sleep will happen. If it doesn't happen, usually it means I didn't need it. I won't fret if I can't sleep at naptime. Dr. Andrew Weil, the popular alternative medicine advocate and a big proponent of naps, says any time with your eyes shut and your mind free of distraction is good for you.

Friday 7/8:
Daytime: Nap--40 minutes (checked off; I just finished it)
Night: Bedtime @ 9 p.m., no excuses; long run is tomorrow, I have to get up early to avoid the heat and this has been a rough sleep week

Saturday 7/9:
Daytime: Nap--easier with husband at home, if body wants it
Night: Bedtime by 10 p.m. (don't have to rise early the next day)

Sunday 7/10:
Night: Bedtime by 9:30 p.m. (nap not possible because I work Sundays, but I don't have to rise early on Monday; I can do Monday's easy miles on my lunch break at work)

Monday 7/11:
Night: Bedtime by 9 p.m. or earlier if possible (speed workout scheduled for early a.m. Tuesday)

Tuesday 7/12:
Nap (if needed): Since I don't have to be at work until noon on Tuesdays, if I feel drowsy after my speed workout and breakfast, I will take a morning nap, skipping my weight training class. The kids will be at preschool. At this point, I feel sleep trumps weights.
Night: Bedtime by 10 p.m. (would go for earlier, but I work until 9 p.m. on Tuesdays so that's not possible); spin class scheduled for early Wednesday a.m.

Wednesday 7/13:
Night: Bedtime by 10 p.m. (don't have to get up early for Thursday's easy run)

Thursday 7/14:
Nap: If possible (home with kids)
Night: Bedtime by 10 p.m.; no workout scheduled for Friday

Friday 7/15:
Nap: If possible (home with kids)
Night: Bedtime by 9 p.m. or earlier; this is two nights before my race, and I've read in numerous places that the night two nights before a race is the key one; I'll be in a hotel with no one to wake me for a potty trip (daughter) or a wet bed (son), so I plan to crank up the white noise (A/C) and sleep sleep sleep. On Saturday I have just a 20 minute easy run to do.

Saturday 7/16:
Nap: if possible (but I don't think it will be because I'm working packet pickup)
Night: Bedtime by 9 p.m.? Not sure this will work out, because I always have butterflies before a race, but I won't stress as long as I slept well on Friday night.

Sunday 7/17 (post-race):
Night: Bedtime by 10 p.m. (no need to rise early as Monday is a recovery day); a nap won't be possible as I am driving back home from Colorado Springs and will be eager to see my family

There you have it! Terzah's sleep plan! What do you think? Have you ever followed a sleep plan? Am I totally nuts and obsessed with sleep?

Another Boulder Moment:
This morning Ruthie asked me if I would buy her some biking gloves.

"Biking gloves?!" I asked. "How do you know about biking gloves?"

"You (that's "you" as in "Anyone who rides a bike the right way, silly mommy") need them," she told me. "Lyra and Julian have them."

Lyra and Julian are in Ruth and Will's preschool class, most of whose members know how to ride a two-wheeler now (putting them about two years ahead of when I learned how).

But really? Biking gloves? For four-year-olds?! Should I get her these lovelies?

Just kidding. We'll consider these (maybe) when she moves up to hand breaks.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Life Gets Busy Sometimes

About a month ago I got a promotion at work. I'm now a digital services librarian, working both reference (answering questions from library users) and digital services (helping our awesome Web developer, Lisa, with the employee intranet, working on the library's social media presences and learning more about products the library subscribes to online with my fabulous co-worker Gina, who just might be the smartest person in the world).

Of course I'm happy about this change. I get to work both sides of my brain at work now and use some of the technical skills and "figuring stuff out" skills that were my favorite part of library school.

But it also means there's a lot less room in my brain for blogging when I get home and on the down days I spend with my kids. Hopefully I'll get my balance back soon. But it's been hard to get posts up when all I want to do is collapse at night with a novel. Reading and commenting on other people's posts is easier!

At least my running hasn't slacked off. Tomorrow I have a one-hour-fifteen-minute run with five five-minute intervals at half-marathon pace scheduled. I feel like I'm getting faster, so I'm not really sure if I should run these intervals at the pace prescribed by my Bolder Boulder pace or if I should push it a bit. I think I'll push it a bit.

On my 6.5-miler run on the 4th, I did the following 10 1-minute fartlek intervals (I chose a hilly route, as McMillan wants me to do this type of run on varying terrain):
1. 7:34 pace (uphill)
2. 7:19 pace (flat)
3. 7:08 pace (flat)
4. 6:54 pace (downhill)
5. 6:44 pace (even more downhill)
6. 6:49 (flat)
7. 7:42 (uphill)
8. 7:15 (uphill)
9. 7:05 (flat)
10. 6:41 (flat to uphill! my fastest!)

Yeah, they were only 1-minuters, but I still feel pretty good about them. I wonder what I could do a 5K at right now.....

I'll get a good hard look at my fitness on July 17 following the ZOOMA Women's Half in Colorado Springs. It should be a good weekend. I'm going down on Friday night to be up early the next morning for a 2-mile easy shakeout run and then am working packet pickup all day. On race morning, Kathy's coming down to run and hang out. The elevation profile of the course shows a mostly flat course with a hill between miles 10 and 11.5. Seems like it will be easier than the Spring Half was, though heat could throw me off in a serious way (wish the race started at 6 a.m. stedda 7 a.m.!).

I'm off to bed. But if you have a minute and some spare dollars, please remember my effort to raise money for the Houston Food Bank as part of my Houston Marathon build-up. You can donate by going here. Thanks in advance!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I'm No Fastinista (or Fashionista)

Throwing down the gauntlet here: I think this outfit is hideous.

It reminds me of some of the bad movie theaters they built in the late 90s and early 2000s--lots of eye-jarring, garish patterns and colors thrown together that will look dated in about, oh, five minutes.

It also reminds me of the outfits my four-year-old daughter emerges from her room wearing when she dresses herself. When she puts an ill-matched clown-like creation together, I commend it, because, well, she's four and she did it herself.

One of Ruthie's creations....I think she's cuter than the cover model, but I'm biased!
And what looks super-cute on a four-year-old--four-year-olds can even pull off Crocs--is VERY different, to my conservative Midwestern mind, than what looks good on an adult woman (especially adult women who are ordinary-bodied specimens like yours truly, unlike the RW cover model, who, yes, IS in fact a model, though I don't think even she can pull off the horror of the ensemble she's wearing on the cover).

Now you do have to keep in mind that my "fashion sense" is nothing of the kind. No one ever called me fashion-forward. In both running and real life, I avoid patterns, wearing only one of them at a time if I wear them at all. Black is still my favorite color, a holdover from my years in New York City. For running, I favor shorts and capris (black ones, of course) over running skirts. I will wear shirts with fun statements on them, as long as the design is simple and classy (I own and wear the Run Like a Mother shirt that asks "Are my kids still chasing me?").

But I won't wear anything that attempts to make me look or sound more badass than I actually am (who would I be fooling anyway? certainly not myself!). And I won't be a slave to ugly trends, especially not in running. I run partly to be free of the kinds of attitudes that the fashion industry feeds into. I'm not saying I don't (unfortunately) share some of these attitudes. I'd love to have the body of the RW cover model. But I recognize that this is shallow and pointless, and I hope someday to evolve to the point where I no longer care in the least what anyone thinks of my appearance, aside from whether I look and am clean and healthy. Since running and my races are important to me, and make memories I want to cherish, I'd rather have the emphasis in race photos of me be on what I'm doing than what I'm wearing.

My relative lack of emphasis on fashion is, I know, a matter of opinion. For those of you who do set more store in fashion than I, I'd say, "Beware." Wouldn't you rather look classic, whether running or eating out with your partner, than clownish? Wouldn't you rather be Audrey Hepburn than Madonna circa 1983?

Where do you come down on the "fastinista" trend? It certainly made for an interesting read! I do enjoy that magazine.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

June Recap

And the running is easy...
Feet are jumping; the endorphins are high....
The track's not pitched,
Down the backstretch you're booking....
So rush, little baby: fly, fly, fly.

Two more weeks until the ZOOMA Women's Half Marathon! I'm really enjoying my training. Despite increased mileage, my body is holding up fairly well. I need to sleep more, though. Going to bed early is still hard to do. My in-laws, whom I love, are staying with us for a month, and it's so tempting to stay up and hang out with them rather than put myself to bed at a runner's hour. And I've paid for it this week in particular, having to drag myself out of bed for the last couple of days' workouts.

The workouts themselves aren't suffering yet. Once I wake up, I feel good. But I know getting overtired is only a matter of time if I keep this up. So my resolution for July is to sleep well and lots, even if it means foregoing a good social life.

Meanwhile, here are June's facts and figures:

--I started my McMillan training plan! I can't believe I'm already four weeks into it. So far my favorite of his workouts is a speedy mid-week run that combines tempo-type sections (5 intervals of 5 minutes at half-marathon pace) with slower distance. Variations on this type of thing have really ramped up my mid-week miles.

--I ran 124 miles! To some of you miles addicts out there, that's nothing, but I'm pretty sure it's the most I've run in any month since I trained for NYC back in 2005.

--I attended two 45-minute spin classes (both at the Longmont Recreation Center in my new town). This class isn't as intense as Tammy's down in Boulder, but that's OK with me as I want to be careful while increasing my running mileage. When fall rolls around and Tammy's class restarts, I will hopefully be ready to intensify my cross-training again ahead of Houston. I'm sure I'll need some new tunes by then, and there's no better source than Tammy.

--Speaking of tunes, just for the heck of it, here are some I've recently added to my long-run mix: three by the Decemberists ("Down By the Water," "Rox in the Box," and "This is Why We Fight"), Florence + the Machine's "Dog Days are Over" and Lucinda Williams' "Can't Let Go."

--I made it to six one-hour weight training classes and hiked several times with Christine.

--I got into January's Houston Marathon (thank you lottery!) and signed up to raise $500 for the Houston Food Bank. This has been awesome--what wonderful friends I have! But I still need a few more people to give to meet my goal. So I'd humbly request you go to my fundraising page and give whatever works for you. You'll be helping people get a decent meal and ensuring that this race will be a success for me no matter what my time ends up being.

Alright then! July is here! Let's do it!