Thursday, July 26, 2012

First track workout in Colorado, in this training cycle and in 2012

photo courtesy of
I am proud of myself. I stretched beyond my comfort zone and joined a group of complete strangers for a track workout. I put myself out there with some (hopefully) positive results.

I have had great intentions in the past of joining a formal running group, but have never done it. I joined a Meetup group in Anaheim when I first moved there, but was lucky enough to find friends in the neighborhood soon after moving there, so I never met up with the Meetup group. I am smack in the middle of marathon training right now.  *Did I mention that I signed up for the Big Cottonwood Marathon on September 22?*  That means that I need to find ways to motivate myself to push a little further.

I have met some people through DailyMile who are local Colorado runners. One of them messaged me about a track workout in town. She couldn't make it this week, but told me where and when it was.  She encouraged me to go telling me that the group was warm and welcoming.

I was nervous. Really nervous.

I showed up to the track and there were a couple people there warming up. I set off to do a warm up myself. It struck me odd that the people that were running were running the opposite direction than people normally run around a track. I followed suit. It really did feel odd to run that way on a track. I figured that people wanted to run a different direction since the workouts would go the standard counter-clockwise.  I didn't ask.

After my one mile warm up (which was the best mile I have run since moving here), people were gathering. I stood with the group awkwardly. No one talked to me at first. I introduced myself to someone who seemed like he was in charge. He then introduced me to Jane, the coach. Both of them were super nice and welcomed me.

Coach Jane gave us the evening's workout.  This was cool. I have never had a coach tell me my workout. I have given out workouts, but it was nice to have someone figure it out for me. The workout was to run 1200 meters as a group and then in pairs, we would run twelve intervals of 300 meters. During the group 1200, we were to figure out who our partner would be.

Here is where I realized that the group was fast. Very fast. I ran with the pack and as I looked down at my Garmin, I was running in the low 7's! I averaged that 3/4 mile at around 7:15, which is fast for me, especially lately.  However, I quickly fell toward the back of the pack. I was running even with some women for the first lap or two, but by the third lap I was nearly dead last. There was one older guy who was behind me. I have never really been the fastest runner in a group, but I definitely haven't been the slowest. It was a bit of a blow to my ego.

When it came to teaming up, I felt like the nerdy kid on the playground. No one was approaching me to ask me to be their partner. It seemed like there were a couple younger women who actually teamed in a group of three. Ack...another blow to the ego. The coach paired me with the man who was slower than me. This was actually a relief since the workouts were done in a relay fashion and your rest time is a function of the speed of your partner. I knew I would need as much rest between intervals as possible.

The workout was pretty simple, once I figured out what we were actually supposed to do. We sprinted 300 meters (3/4 of the way around a track) and then jogged/walked back 100 meters where our partner would be finishing his 300 meters).  This would continue twelve times.

I can tell you that I never would have had the motivation to finish twelve intervals without the help of a partner/group. My partner, Brian, and I had been lapped several times over.  But the good news is that with everyone running their own intervals, you couldn't really tell who was ahead and who was behind.  Had Brian suggested that we skip the last two intervals (since we were about two behind the bulk of the pack), I would have easily agreed.  But we did them all and pushed ourselves each time. We finished last to cheers of some of the people who were still milling about (others had set off to run some cool-down laps).

My pace was not as bad as I had thought at the time. Converting 300m to standard interval distances isn't easy, but I am pretty sure I am on target for where I need to be for a 3:40 to 3:45 marathon.  When I knew I would be doing a track workout, not knowing what kind of intervals we would be doing, I set a conservative goal to run 400's under 2 minutes, knowing I should decrease that time to around 1:40 or so. I was not that far off.  Here are my intervals:
My overall running pace for the evening (not including the jog back 100m to meet my partner) was 7:32 (including the 9:00 paced warm up!!).  For me, that was fast, fast, fast.  Even though I was the second slowest person out there, I am happy with my performance. Despite being the turtle, I will be checking my ego at the door and going back. Heck, some of that speed may just rub off on me!

I have eight weeks before my marathon. For the first time since starting my training, I think I am on the right track.

Happy Running...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Zooma: where will they go?

I have never run a Zooma race, but I am a big fan of any race that is designed for women. Plus, my friend works with them and loves the race series and she has great taste. Zooma is getting ready to announce a new race location. Where do you think it is? Check out their video and then go to their blog to make a guess and become eligible for some prizes!


Have you ever run a race targeted to women? What is your favorite?  Do you think it is fair to have women's only races?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Solo long runs are tough, but doable

I have yet to find running buddies, but I still need to get long runs in. It is definitely more difficult getting out the door to run several hours by myself. On Saturday, armed with a Nathan Hydration Vest, my phone and my iPod loaded with an audiobook, I set off for my third long run since moving here. 

One thing I really enjoy about Fort Collins is that it is set up very simply. It is a grid with several main roads going north/south and east/west. It is very difficult to get lost. You will eventually come upon one of the main thoroughfares and know where you are. There is also a great system of multi-use trails weaving through the city. After a brief look at a map of these trails, I had a good idea of my route.

I started out on Power Trail, a trail that runs along the railroad tracks. There are some cool murals painted on some utility boxes, but other than that, this isn't the most beautiful path I have run since moving here.

From there I ran on the Spring Creek Trail.  I have run on this trail, in some portion or another, on each of my long runs.  It runs about 7 miles east/west. My first long run I ran on the middle portion of that path and last week I ran on the western portion.  Saturday, I ran east from the Power Trail, for just under a mile, to meet up with the Poudre River Trail.

The Poudre River Trail runs along the main river in Fort Collins through the northeast part of town. It is a gorgeous path. I ran on this trail in January when I first visited the town and again in May during my house-hunting trip.

I needed to turn toward home, so when the trail hit Lemay, a major north/south road leading back to my house, I got off the beautiful trail and headed back south on the road. This last chunk of the run wasn't as pretty or pleasant as the first chunk.  It is a nice road with a good sidewalk, but the trail system really spoils me.  Why do I run on sidewalk when there are such great paths that are nowhere near traffic?

There are definitely some pretty parts of the road.  It goes next to a couple lakes, including the one below.  Honestly, I haven't really found an "ugly" part of Fort Collins!
It was a long, HOT sixteen miles. I still haven't fully acclimated to the elevation. I take more walk breaks than I ever have. I am not sure if I would push through those urges to walk if I were running with someone else.  Probably. My pace is SO much slower than it had been. I have two months to get rid of those walk breaks and speed up that pace.

I am happy that I got my long run in as scheduled. It wasn't pretty, but I did it. It can only get better.  

I hope your long runs went well this weekend.   Happy Running!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Making a new home

As you know, we moved. We are no longer residents of Southern California and are proud Coloradans. As I create our home and unpack boxes, I have been trying to keep a running routine and my mileage up.  I wrote an article on about finding ways to do just that.

When I have gone out for a run, I have struggled a bit with the altitude. It is right at 5000 feet here and I honestly didn't think it would affect me as much as it has.  In the past, I have been able to run at even higher elevations several times (in 2008 and 2010). What I have learned is that the effects of altitude don't necessarily show up right away. After two weeks I still feel the altitude, especially when going up hill. It has also been pretty hot (as it has been all over the country) and I have had a tough time motivating myself to get up early.

I was very spoiled with my running group.  On any given day, I had a friend to run with. Running by myself has been a difficult transition. It really makes motivation a struggle. I miss my friends quite a bit. I am going to try to join local runners soon. I really need to psych myself up for going. I am nervous. My running isn't really up to par and I am a little afraid that they will leave me behind.  Once I acclimate a bit more, I will have more confidence to join strangers for a group run.

On one of my first runs through my neighborhood, I saw the following evidence of women doing workouts.  I didn't see anyone, so how did I know it was women?  Do you know any men who write "love" in a heart? I have yet to see this type of evidence since, but I am hoping to catch the "culprits" and maybe invite myself to join them?
On my first long run, I followed one of the many bike paths in and around Fort Collins. There were cool statues, a few motivational signs, some murals, a pelican on a quiet lake and a snake.  I loved all of it except the snake.  Yikes.
I know I will love it here. I know I will find a new community of friends, moms and runners.  I am just feeling a bit impatient, I suppose.

I am off for another long run tomorrow.

Happy Running...


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