Wednesday, September 22, 2010

25 Days

That is how long before the Long Beach Marathon.  I feel good.  I have the endurance.  I could run a marathon tomorrow.  The question is: can I run a marathon in 3:49 or less?

I began training in April with the St. George Marathon  as my goal.  After a slow start and a failed St. George lottery attempt, I ramped up my mileage.  I had plans to run a 50K in August, but that didn’t work out, so I put my focus on a marathon and a BQ attempt.  I decided to run Long Beach when I met a friend who had a similar pace and goal and was running it.  I had heard good things about the race from other runners I have met, as well as other bloggers like Danica

I have already run two twenty-milers and a couple eighteens*.  I ran four half marathons (well, three half marathons and a 22K).  During this training cycle, I set PRs in the half, 10K and 5K distances.  I have run over 800 miles, gone through several pairs of shoes and had two sports massages.  But as I sit here reflecting on it all, I can’t help wondering:  is it enough?
I have one more long run before I start to taper.  I am planning on running twenty-two miles this weekend.  I have never run that distance in training.  I wonder if having such a long training plan (26 weeks) had me peaking too early.  There is something to be said for the Higdon program I did for my first marathon where I built mileage each week, culminating in one twenty mile run right before the taper.  However, I really wanted to get in three or four twenty+ mile runs this time.

This morning I went to the track to do some 800m repeats.  My friend couldn’t make it, so I was on my own.  It is harder to motivate yourself to go that fast by yourself, especially when your running partner is just a little bit faster. Our plan is to use Yasso as our guide.  The goal pace is 3:45 and we are building up to ten repeats.  Two weeks ago we did four.  This morning, I only had time for six.  While my times were slower this time than my previous track workout,** all six repeats were at or below my goal pace and my recovery time was shorter.***  I’m not going to lie; they weren’t easy.  I am pretty sure that I could have pushed out a few more given the time, but who knows.  As it was, I kept fighting with myself to keep going.  First, I told myself that four repeats would be plenty.  But I kept going. Then I justified that five would be one more than last time.  I still kept going.  On the last repeat, I told myself that a 400 for the last interval would be fine.  Then I heard my thoughts wonder if 600m would give the same benefit as 800.  I finished all six repeats, feeling pretty spent at the end of each of them.  My 800m times were: 3:45, 3:41, 3:42, 3:35, 3:38 and 3:43.  I walked 200m between each interval.

So I am basically at a point where I have to trust in my training.  Did I stick to my plan completely?  No.  But I did come pretty close.  I kept the mileage higher than any of my previous marathons.  I had hoped to do a bit more tempo runs and speedwork, but as you can see above, when I have done them, I have been able to hit my marks.  If I am obsessing about all this now, what kind of a mess am I going to be during my taper?

25 days.  Bring it on.

Happy Running…

*We averaged 9:00 minutes on my eighteen miler last weekend!
**Two weeks ago we did four 800m repeats with 400m recovery with times of: 3:24, 3:28, 3:38 and 3:30.
***This morning I recovered for 200m instead of 400m.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Last weekend I hit 1000* miles for 2010.  That is pretty amazing considering the fact that I hit the 1000 mile mark the last week of the year in 2009.  I am almost full four months ahead of last year!

I still haven’t busted the fifty mile week yet, but I have been close (forty-seven).  However, I ran 171 miles in the month of August, a new personal best!  I think September might shape up to be a monster mileage month as well.  I ran twenty-six miles this weekend** and have a couple more twenty milers scheduled.  We’ll see how it goes.

I am enjoying a higher mileage training plan. With my high-mileage plan, I can run with my friends and not worry about pace.  I can run one day at twelve-minute-miles with the girls and another at a tempo pace under race pace.  It really works for me and gives me a higher level of flexibility.  I know my way involves a good bit of “junk” miles, but these “junk” miles are good for my mental state as much as anything and I don’t want to give them up.  As Long Beach Marathon approaches, I am adding more quality miles to my weekly total.
In the interest of getting some of those quality miles, I did my first track workout in a very long time.  Since Marci and I both hadn’t done speedwork yet this training cycle, we started “easy.”   But there is nothing easy about 800m intervals on the track.  We were aiming for something around 3:45 for 800m using Yasso as the guideline.  I also had my friend Nadine’s FIRST pace for these intervals,*** which is 3:33.  We did four 800m repeats at 3:24, 3:28, 3:38 and 3:26.  Not bad!  We walked/jogged our recovery for 400m, but I think I want to reduce that to 200m this week.  I think it was just a bit too long (although, at the time, I didn’t think so). Our goal is to work up to eight or ten repeats in the next several weeks.


On Saturday, I ran 20 miles at Newport’s Back Bay.*** It was a gorgeous morning and the weather was perfect.  The Back Bay is a great place to run.  I ran with my friends and we took it pretty easy.  In fact, our pace was so relaxed that at one point I was worried that running close to two minutes faster during the marathon would be impossible.  I decided to run my last two miles at race pace or faster.  It was good timing, since Joan was ready to switch to run/walk.  Kelly and I took off and I gradually kicked it into another gear.  I felt great.  By mile 19, I was feeling in a zone.  I really turned it on, because I still had a lot left.  I ran my last mile in 7:58 and it was a HUGE confidence booster.  I was thrilled that I could finish a twenty mile run with 10k speed.

I did stop right around nineteen miles, however, for a minute or two.  There were some people gathered looking at something.  There was some sort of animal on the trail about twenty feet from the bike path.  I was expecting a coyote, but was surprised to see at bobcat!  Apparently, she is a known resident of the bay and is named Babe.  I thought she was pretty cool!

Newport Back Bay Bobcat
Newport Bay Nature Preserve
I knock on wood that my running continues like this.  I feel good.  I feel strong.  I’m having fun.  What more can I ask for?  I hope the next 1000 miles are just as enjoyable.

Happy Running…

*I hit 1000 miles on September 5
**20 miles on Saturday and 6.2 miles this morning.
***My friend, Nadine, did the FIRST program earlier this year when she qualified for Boston, which has three high quality runs per week.  It doesn’t allow for deviation in the plan, though.
****This is the stomping grounds for fellow blogger, Glenn.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

LA Eco Mud Run Race Report

On August 21, I had the opportunity to run the LA Eco Mud Run as part of Team Jamba Juice.  It was an interesting experience.  I am finally coming up for air enough to finish up the race report…

The BestThings About the Day:
I had a lot of fun.  You can’t go into a mud run without the attitude that it is all about the fun.  I crawled around.  I got muddy.  That’s all good.

I really liked the fact that it was at the Rose Bowl.  As a Pac-10 girl, the Rose Bowl holds a special place in my heart.  Before the days of the BCS (and even during some years now), the Rose Bowl is the ultimate goal for Pac-10 teams.  Many great football games have been played there.  The race was held on the grounds around the Rose Bowl.  Someday, I’d like to run a race that ends inside.*
I met, yet another, awesome running mom.  I had sent an e-mail out to the local Team Jamba members who were running the race to see if they wanted to meet up.  I couldn’t talk any of my friends into driving up to Pasadena with me, so I thought I could connect with fellow Team Jamba runners.  Nadine responded and it seemed like we would be running around the same pace, so we planned on meeting before the race.
She is GREAT.  We hit it off right away and have so much in common.  We hung out before the race and then ran the entire thing together.  We laughed and talked the entire race.  If it wasn’t for her, I know I wouldn’t have had nearly as much fun.  In fact, as you’ll read some of the negatives of the race below, I am not sure if I would have enjoyed the race at all if it weren’t for her.

Nadine is showing off her guns (as well as her Jamba Juice temporary tattoo) :-)

LA Mud Run Team Jamba Juice

We also met another Team Jamba member.  Felipe was a super nice guy and really down-to-earth.  It turns out he took third overall!  I love a guy who is humble, yet FAST.
Team Jamba Juice

 Mud Runs are known for the fun, party-like atmosphere.  Runners are encouraged to dress up in costumes.  They even have prizes.  Someday, I am going to put together a team with costumes.  We chuckled at a few of the goofy costumes.  I was able to snap a photo of one of my favorite team costumes.
LA Mud Run Mullet Dudes
“Business in the front, party in the rear.”  LOL.  These guys had beer cans in their back pockets.
Justin Bieber fan
And you’ve gotta love a guy in a Justin Bieber t-shirt!

The Not-So-Great Things About the Day:
Hmmm…where do I start?  I don’t want to be super negative, since I was able to run this race as a guest of Team Jamba.  However, I wouldn’t run this race again. I am relieved that my friends didn’t shell out $50 and drive an hour.  The race didn’t even compare to the Camp Pendleton Mud Run we ran a couple of months ago.  While it is unfair to compare it to that race, the San Diego Mud Run I ran a couple of years ago was also a much better race.

Signage for the start line wasn’t very clear.  We had a little time to kill before the race and wanted to hang out near the start.  We headed toward flags that read, “the party starts here!”  After a while, we realized that there wasn’t much of a crowd and figured out that the start was across the field.  It had the same exact flags.

There was a mass of humanity at the start (when we finally found it).  When the race started, the announcer told the teams to hold back and let the individuals go.  Ummm….this would have been good information before the race started.**  We looked around and realized we were among the teams and they weren’t letting individuals go.  In fact, nobody was doing much going at all. 
LA Mud Run Start
The race started with walking.  The crowd just started slowly moving forward.  It reminded me of a sporting event or concert.  We walked for the first part of the race—through the first several obstacles.  People were leisurely climbing over the first obstacle, which was a three-foot traffic barrier.** 

We finally made it to the first mud pit***.  Suddenly, I was hit in the neck by a big clump of mud.  It was raining clumps of mud that were being tossed by fellow runners.  What??  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind getting muddy.  Heck, I run in Mud Runs, don’t I?  But big clumps of barely wet mud don’t feel good falling from a high toss.  Nadine, who has four teenage boys, is no stranger to flung dirt and she was annoyed by fellow competitors throwing mud on us as well.  Come on, people!

As we walked to the next obstacle, we decided to laugh at the whole thing.  We shrugged our shoulders and started having fun.  There were a few more barriers, some hoola hoops to maneuver through, beach balls, a slippery piece of plastic to slide/crawl on and a bit more mud.  Then we hit the running portion of the race. 
LA Mud Run 4
We ran for probably close to three miles.****  The good thing about the long stretch of running was that Nadine and I passed people right and left.  Where we started in the pack was apparently among a bunch of non-runners and we were both eager to get in a decent run.  It was nice to push it a little and pick people off one by one (or group by group).

We circled the golf course adjacent to the Rose Bowl grounds and came back into the parking lot.  The course had us do all the obstacles again.  This time, we could go at a good pace as everything had spread out.  It was much better the second time through. There was room to breath and the mud had been mixed up with more water.LA Mud Run 3 LA Mud Run 2 LA Mud Run 02770012
We ran the last bit and finished strong.  Despite starting way back in the crowd and walking for something like a half mile, Nadine and I finished 11th in our age group (we had the same time).  Not bad!
We found another member of Team Jamba to pose with us after the race.
Despite some of the negative things about the race, I had a really great time.  The best thing about the race was meeting a new friend.  I feel very lucky to have so many great friends to run with, compare notes etc.  Nadine, who qualified for Boston this year, has already given me tips and run with me in Long Beach, where I hope to do the same.

Life is good when even a not-so-good race can be a great run!

Happy running….

*I think the Pasadena Marathon might end in the Rose Bowl.
**There was a second race that day at 10:30 and we clearly heard the announcement before the race began that individuals would start first and then the teams.  At least they figured it out for one of the races.  At the other two Mud Runs I have run, they had completely separate starts for the different groups.  I think that allows the individuals a chance to run and the teams a chance to goof around.
**The other two Mud Runs had five-foot walls.  A three-foot barrier isn’t even an obstacle, more of an annoyance.
***The pit was constructed of flood control bales and plastic liners filled with dirt and water.  One of them was built over concrete.  OUCH.  The mud itself was full of gravel.  I still have some marks on my knees from the gravel in the mud.
****It was a four-mile race.


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