Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Goes Out Like a Lion

The chinook winds returned, just in time for my last long fast-finish long run ahead of the Houston Marathon. I sat in the car at the rec center, thinking maybe I should just do it tomorrow. But that's fool's thinking, and I know it, so I got out, shouldered the CamelBak one last time and hit the pavement.

It only took about a tenth of a mile before I was loving it. I loved the whole slow ten miles I did out in the wind. I loved the guy smoking a cigarette in the parking lot of the used-car lot who asked me, "Aren't you freezing your tush off?" and laughed at me when I told him sincerely that it wasn't that bad. I loved the three super-fast runners, two men and a woman, whom I saw on my favorite hill up 9th Ave. (the same hill that broke me on a tempo run during my ramp-up for the Top of Utah Marathon last summer). I loved the wind that chilled me when it blew and allowed the sun to bake me when it briefly dissipated. I loved the sight of the mountains on the horizon when I turned around, and even the feeling of my calves being blown around when my stride had them airborne.

At the end of the ten outdoor miles, I knew this run was charmed. I entered the crowded rec center and against the odds walked right onto an empty treadmill. A weight lifter dude I see there sometimes shook his head and smiled, asking me if I had food with me. I brandished my Shot Bloks with pride. I started the treadmill at a 9:05 pace and as seven miles flowed by ratcheted it down every mile until I finished at with 3/4 of a mile at an 8:13 clip. I threw in three 2-3% hills of a quarter mile each in the last three miles. I was hot and purple-faced, but I felt good.

Why did I stop at seven fast-finish miles (McMillan allowed eight and I definitely could have done that last one)? Well, three reasons: 1) my left hip and low back were bugging me again, probably because I took my kids ice skating yesterday and the hip didn't like that inside turn over and over again for an hour 2) a very polite lady asked me for the treadmill at the end, and I felt so lucky to have gotten seven miles that adhering to the rec center rules seemed more like a sign from the cosmos that I should stop than an imposition and 3) I feel like the hay is in the barn; what would one more mile today have gained me?

I'm very happy about how the long runs have gone this cycle--the only one that was rough for me was the 16 miler I did right before we flew to Virginia for Thanksgiving, and it turned out I was coming down with a stomach virus. I still don't know what to expect in Houston, as the speedwork was deliberately NOT run as fast as last time. But I strongly feel I can at least PR if the weather is favorable.

For now,'s taper time. Ahhhhhhh! I have big plans for this taper. They involve tasty, nutritious meals....good sleep....a massage this week AND next week (yes, I'm splurging.....). But perhaps most exciting....yesterday I found out I won an hour on the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine's Alter-G Anti-Gravity Treadmill!

I'll be using this machine on Tuesday, Jan. 10 (five days before my race) for an easy wind-down run. Dan will cut work to photograph me. So stay tuned for a post on that next week!

Happy New Year everyone! I'm off to eat homemade pizza and drink some Riesling (not too much, I promise!).


  1. Ooh, I love Riesling! I had other things to say, but that last line distracted me. :)

    I loved this post. I had the biggest smile on my face as I read about your surprisingly good run. What a great way to wind up the training cycle! And super cool that you get to use the Alter-G mill.

    Happy New Year!

  2. I love the "hay is in the barn" analogy. I couldn't agree more. Great work!

    Happy New Year :)

  3. Yeah, that one mile is probably going to cost you the BQ!!! Bahahaha....kidding, of course - I just couldn't resist :). Great run, girl! I can't believe you got out there in this crazy wind and polished off 10 amazing miles, NICE WORK! I think Houston is going to go very well....very very well! Happy New Year!! :)

  4. Great job getting out there in that wind! I wussed out and kept my workout indoors! Today I am accepting no excuses and am getting my butt out there!

    Happy New Year friend!

    ps can't wait to hear about the antigravity treadmill!

  5. Can't WAIT to hear all about the Alter-G!! Sounds like you had a great cycle, and you're ready to kick ass in Houston. Now it's time to rest, rest, rest!

    Happy New Year!!

  6. Your rocked your last long run of the year, I am so proud of ya. You're going to do so well in Houston!!!

    I really like how you finished so strong, that'll help you during those last miles of the marathon.

    So as I was saying earlier over the twitter with the world limit........the most important thing that I learned during my BQ marathon was to keep my pace under control in the beginning. It allowed me to cruise for as long as possible in a good heart rate zone. And I was so scared because I thought I wasn't going to be fast enough, that I was going to burn out on the later miles and that I wasn't "banking time" (which is a TERRRRILE IDEA), but it really did pay off.

    In order to qualify, I had to get a 3:35, which is an 8:10 pace. I ran the entire beginning part between an 8:00 and an 8:05 and made sure NOT to drop below an 8:00, no matter how great I was feeling. In my training, I had found that an 8:00 minute pace was something comfortable that I could usually maintain and I knew I could sustain it for a while. So when I got to mile 20 and my new friend told me that I could meet my goal if I just kept under 9 minute miles, I became SO excited that I still remained in the low 8's. But I made sure to slow it down a little because I did NOT want to blow it.

    My fastest mile ended up being the very last mile, it was right around a 7:30 because I was SO excited about meeting my goal.

    So my advice (which is certainly not a professional's advice, so don't take it too seriously because different stuff works for different people!!) would be to go 5-10 seconds below your time for the first 20 miles and then you'll have a little buffer in case you need to slow down at all. And at mile 20, if you can, try to calculate the pace for the remaining miles that you need to maintain in order to meet your goal time. So that's what worked for me!

    And last but not least, don't give up on yourself! If you have a bad mile, don't stress out too much. Just take it back a notch, let your heart rate go into a more comfortable zone and then push back on. I wish I'd listened to that advice during my first marathon in November, because I got so caught up after I had a hard mile around 17/18 and I never got it back after that, even though I could have totally still had a better marathon if I had just relaxed I think.

    Anyway, sorry for all the rambling, I just wanted to get back to you about the conversation that we had started the other day!!

  7. (wow that really did look like a novel, sorry!!) I may have to make something like that into a blog post of mine hehe :)

  8. I swear these are the runs that you try to talk yourself out of the most that turn out to feel the best. Notice that there isn't a whiff of wind out there today?? :)

    GREAT job! TWO WEEKS!!!

  9. Congrats on making it to the taper!! Enjoy it... you've certainly put the work in. I'm excited to see what you'll do in Houston--hope to meet you there!

  10. You are amazing! What a run, and I love how positive you are!

    How cool to get to run in the Anti gravity TM!

  11. Fantastic last long run -- so nice to end the big part of training on a high. So excited for you!

  12. Such a great run! I just know you will do great in Houston. I feel it in my bones!
    And how cool is that - you get to run on the Alter-G! I can't wait to hear about it!
    Happy New Year!!!!

  13. Wow, wow and WOW!!!

    #1 wow - are you kidding me? I can't believe you ran in that crazy wind and enjoyed it! you are a tough girl for sure!
    #2 wow for killing it on your treadmill run(and feeling so good) and being generous by cutting it short and giving it up so other people could use it
    #3 wow - so awesome winning the hour on the anti-gravity treadmill. sounds like perfect timing Houston.

    Even tho I know NOTHING about marathon training I'd say you have made plenty of deposits in the 'mental toughness & fitness' bank and you will be ready to rock at Houston. it's so exciting - you're my hero!

  14. That sounds like an AMAZING run. Good luck in Houston! You'll rock it :)

  15. You write so beautifully!
    Yes that run was charmed. Every windy, ass-freezing mile. The hay is definitely in the barn. Can't wait for you to unleash it all in Houston!
    Woot for the Alter-G! So darn cool! Enjoy!

  16. Loved reading this! I had the same kind of run on Jan 1st - I thought about putting it off as I was a bit foggy from the night before but it was awesome...
    Can't wait to hear about your AlterG experience!

  17. I am so excited about your upcoming treadmill experience! Trust me, that is the first time I have ever used the words "excited" and "treadmill" in the same sentence. I can't wait to hear about it.

    Happy 2012 to you!

  18. Yay taper! I find taper sleep to be so hard. The more I think about needing lots of sleep, the harder it is for me to sleep. :)

  19. I am totally envious of your AlterG winnings! I can't wait to hear what you think of it.

  20. How exciting that you are running Houston this year! Hope you get great conditions to run that PR. And, have fun on the Alter G. I'm glad you found my blog, and I'm happy to have found yours!

  21. Yay for taper time! The Alter G is super cool and I've always wanted to try one. Not that I actually know where the nearest one is, but if I did, I'd be on it like white on rice.

  22. Happy new year and enjoy your taper time.
    I am teetotal, for this reason I prefer Pepsi with pizza.

  23. I'm catching up.

    What a cool thing to win! I can't wait to see pictures!

    Sounds like the perfect last week pre-taper!