Wednesday, January 27, 2010

8 Mile Tempo

Today I had one of those runs that felt like I was going to die out there!

I was honestly reduced to a sad little girl sitting not on the curb but on somebody's cement fence taking a break because I felt destroyed by this run on the 7th mile. I started getting bad stomach cramps pretty much as soon as I hit 6 miles. I think it had to do with me not having enough water in my system. I was lazy and totally forgot to go buy water yesterday. So this morning (Noon for me because I work nights) I only had one glass of water with the blueberry muffin I had for breakfast. And of course I did not take a detour to get water at the park even though I already felt dehydrated by the second mile. =/

So there I was feeling like I couldn't catch my breath and my abdomen feeling like somebody just punched me repeatedly a bunch of times. I was sitting right by a small intersection with a light...I figured I'd wait for this green light to pass and then cross at the next one. But the damn light would not change! And I kept looking at the walk sign, and it's like it was telling me to get up and GO GO GO! It refused to change until I got my ass back up and kept going.

So I did just that and I felt much better after that. The pain was still there 'til I got home but I managed to keep up an 8:30 pace. The 7th mile of doom was at about 9:40! And I kept looking down at my Garmin wondering WTF? It felt like I was running as fast as I possibly could and that's how slow I was running.

Oh well...I pushed through it and finished the 8 miles. Considering I did not run at all last week and I only did a short easy run with my dog on Monday, I think I did quite well and my average pace ended up at around 8:56 which is quite good for that distance. Miles 2-6 and 8 where at about 8:30-40 pace.

I'm hoping to get in an easy run tomorrow because I'm actually feeling sore from today's workout. And I really hope I have it in me to do a miraculous long run this next weekend.

Oh and I do have to say that I was so glad to see the sun come out again today! After all the rain we've been having, it was a beautiful day in LA!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Running alone vs. running with company

Since graduating high school and after my brief stint with the cross country running club Freshman year of college, I have been doing all of my running alone. Just me and my iPod.

Since I began to seriously train for the LA marathon around this time last year, I've only done a whopping THREE runs accompanied by a friend!

Lately one of my high school team mates and superstar marathoner (2:50 marathon!) moved back home and we met up while I was out on a run. We were both excited to see each other again after such a long time. She said we should run together. I said, YEAH RIGHT! I CAN'T KEEP UP WITH YOU EVEN FOR 200 METERS!

But of course, amazing girl that she is I think she was just excited to see a familiar face again and be able to hang out while we do what we love. So of course I was excited to meet up with her and hit the pavement. It's been 3 weeks since then and we've only managed to get one 10 mile run together. We live only a couple of miles away which is great because we can just run out and meet up halfway and go wherever our feet will take us. But of course my stupid schedule has gotten in the way of us getting together again for another run.

Plus honestly, I don't even know how I feel about running with another person. It had been so long since I last ran with somebody else that it felt difficult to run and hold a conversation at the same time. I'm so used to just listening to my music and thinking about life stuff when I run. Plus I think that knowing that holding my pace for her probably feels like walking, kinda brought me down a little. Like I'm such a slow poke =/

On the one hand it's great obviously since it helps me push myself. Plus it's great to be able to talk to someone who is a competitive runner and ask for training tips. But it's also kind of stressful mentally for me because I can't seem to relax. Maybe it's just because I'm not used to it anymore. I just have to get over it and allow myself to have fun running with friends.

So this weekend if it all goes well, I might either do a long run with her or with another friend from college. They're both much faster than me...I have to get over that fact and just hope that some of that speed rubs off on me! Haha...

Monday, January 25, 2010

What a disappointing week. Blehhh....

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

It's pouring in LA...

I took 2 days off after my 18 mile long run this past weekend.

After the 18 miles on Saturday, I went and hung out with the boy for the rest of the evening. Went to see some friends of his play music and had a good time drinking beer (I'm a beer drinker now? What? Who would've thought!)

Sunday, I felt surprisingly good. I was expecting to be very sore but I felt great all morning and afternoon. It wasn't 'til I came into work and sat on my stupid chair that I started to feel pain.

I took Monday off since it was pouring rain and I figured 2 days of rest would be good for my legs to recover.

It's supposed to rain pretty hard all week long so I don't really know how I'm going to get my weekly mileage in. Today, it poured all morning long. At around 2:30 it had stopped raining for a bit and the sun even came out so I figured I'd try to get a few miles in. I was hoping to do 6 miles at an easy pace but 3 blocks into my run it started raining again. I figured I'd brave the rain and just keep going but it was COLD. Brrrr...

So because it was too cold I began to push the pace and treat this as a short tempo run. About a mile into the run it really began to pour down and even though I felt badass for running in the rain, I was also beginning to feel tired from the quick pace and I was freezing!

On my way back I ran into the North Hollywood High track team kids running in the opposite direction. It brought back good memories which is why I always run this route. I always want to say hi and talk to them a little about how I used to run there a long time ago, but they'd probably think of me as an old goon and I'd feel like a pedophile haha...

So it's just a quick little smile and a quick hello and wave if it's the girls team. :)

Anyway, I felt pretty tired after the second mile (which clocked in at 7:58 on my Garmin). I had to stop and catch my breath twice which was disappointing but I figured my body just didn't feel ready for that quick pace yet. I also ate horribly this morning before the run because I thought I wouldn't get a chance to run because of all the rain. So mile 3 saw me running a slower pace with a stomach ache...ugh. Cheese sandwiches and ice cream are not good pre-run fuel!

So I got home and I was soaked...I need to invest in some rain gear. I jumped into a warm shower and felt better.

I'm now feeling a lot of pain running down from my left hip flexor to my ankle. I think it's probably because I did not warm up...I just started to go fast to get past the cold. Now my whole leg feels busted. My left hip flexor has been giving me problems the past few weeks but it usually is just when I'm sitting around at work for 10 hours. Tonight the pain was pretty intense and I took some pain tablets that I found at work. I probably need to do some core work and stretch! I've been horrible at stretching lately! I read some article on Runners World that said stretching isn't really necessary and since then I've gotten really lazy about it =/

So I'm hoping my leg feels better tomorrow. Not sure if I should take the day off or not. I guess it all depends on the weather and how my leg feels at this point.

I want to get a 20 miler in next weekend. We'll see what happens.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Long Run- 18 miles

So I've run a total of 4 marathons in my lifetime. I ran 3 marathons in high school (the first when I was just 15!) and then ran my fourth last year when I finally decided to make a return to long distance running.

For those 4 marathons, the longest run I have ever done in training has been 18 miles. In high school I was running track and cross country year round so I was always putting in a lot of miles. I was also part of this program called Students Run LA which prepared young kids to run a marathon. In order to run the marathon each year (free entry), we only had to complete an 18 mile race. So back then, I'd run the 18 and then just keep doing my track training 'til marathon day arrived. It worked out okay, but I always died during those last 6 miles.

Last year when I returned to running and decided I was going to run a marathon again, I started training towards the end of January. I decided to stick with the same kind of training plan that I did back in high school. I figured as long as I run 18 miles at some point, I'll be ready to finish the marathon.  So April came around and I ran the same 18 mile Hansen Dam race that I had done while back in high school. Then I continued training with my short runs during the week and a some longer runs during the weekend...but I think the longest run I did after that 18 miler was probably only 12. I never increased the mileage or did any other lengthy runs in the month before the marathon. Marathon day came in May and I finished the marathon, even PRed by almost 30 minutes but I also hit the wall hard during those last 6 miles.

This year I want my marathon experience to be different, so I've decided to put in multiple long runs of 18+. Already I feel a lot stronger than I felt last year and my pace has gone down to about 8:30-9:00 in just a month a half of training. So I'm sticking to some short fast runs during the week and either two 10+ on the weekends (both Sat. and Sunday) or a really long run of 18+ on one of those days.

Yesterday was my first attempt at the 18 mile monster. I wrote here that I was going to try and do it Friday. And then I woke up Friday and I could not make myself get out of bed. I was petrified of having to go out there and run that far all on my own. Something I have NEVER done. 18 miles is a long way to go!

So after spending hours awake in bed not wanting to get up, I eventually did and dressed in my running clothes and laced up my newtons. I went outside to walk the dog before taking off for the 3 hours that it was going to take me...started running with the dog and I just did not have in me that day. I gave up on the idea within the first block. All these fears paralyzed me....What if I didn't carbo load enough? It's already 3 the time I get back it will be dark and I don't want to be running in the dark when I'm that tired...etc, etc.

Friday night, I made sure I ate plenty of carbs and got lots of sleep.

Fettucini Alfredo w/ shrimp
1 beer

12 am


I got up at around 11am.  Ate my one slice of toast with peanut butter. Drank a couple glasses of water and was out the door praying to the running gods that I would have the strength to finish this run.

First mile felt a little sluggish like usual but kept going at an easy comfortable place. I did the usual run up to Chandler then up to Van Nuys and back down. By the time I got to the North Hollywood park on Magnolia and Tujunga, my Garmin was reading 7 miles. So I ran a lap around the park which is about 1 mile long then ate my GU packet that I brought with me and drank plenty of water since I'd already gone 7 miles without water.

I then headed off West on Tujunga towards Ventura Blvd. I turned around once I got to Ventura and on my way back I decided to change the song on my iPod and the darn thing died on me! I was panicking! At this point I was only 9 miles into the run and I did not want to spend the next hour and a half running around without any music. It's hard enough running all those miles alone, but without music it was soul-crushing. After about a minute of trying to make the iPod come back to life, I resolved myself to keep going. Then as I kept going, about 4 minutes later, I pressed the play button and voila! The music started blaring into my ears again! I was so happy!

At this point, miles 9-14, I just ran around that neighborhood back and forth just adding mileage. I didn't want to get too far away in case something happened. And at mile 9 as I was running up a slight incline, I felt a sharp pain on my right foot. It continued on for the next 400 meters or so. I kept running hoping that it would just go away on its own. I still felt it for the next couple of miles but it continued to subside until I couldn't differentiate the pain from just normal foot fatigue.

So I got back to the park on my way back and ate some sport beans, drank lots of water and did two more miles there because I wanted to make sure that all I had left were the 2 miles back to my apartment.  At this point I still felt good and especially re-energized after I hit 15 miles (my previous long run) without having to walk at all. I left the park and headed home with 2 miles to go and I decided that since I felt so well that I would try to speed it up during the last 2 miles. I ran the 17th mile in 8:59 and the 18th in 8:42! My Garmin chirped away at the 18th mile mark and I decided to save my legs and just walk the rest of the way home even though running would've probably been less painful! As I started running my legs immediately felt on fire and started to cramp up but by the time I got home, they felt better. I think the walk definitely helped and today I was able to walk around normally and experienced very little soreness.

Got home and I could not believe I had done it and that it had gone so well! There were some tough miles...miles 10-14 were especially tough because it just felt like I still so far to go. You can tell because my pace dipped to the 9:40s.

So overall, this was a successful 18 mile run and I feel like the proper carbo load and rest the night before were very important. And fueling up properly with a GU gel and replenishing electrolytes with the sport beans made a huge difference in my legs not dying ever. I also iced my legs as soon as I got home.

I wasn't very sore today at all. I woke up feeling great and grateful that I could move without screaming in pain!

So hopefully I have a good 20 miler in store for me next weekend :) And a few more long runs after that. I can't wait 'til marathon day rolls around. This is the year that I'm going to race smart. I've learned so much that I know I can race it smart and accomplish my goals.

:) Yay!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Marathon multiples?

I've spent the last 2 hours looking up marathons near LA that I can travel to for relatively easy. My main goal right now is obviously just getting to the LA Marathon in March. But I've also got other goals in mind for this year. Inspired by reading about The Chic Runner's quest to become a marathon maniac, I've decided I want to embark on my own journey towards becoming a maniac as well this year. I've only dreamed of this before but never sat down and given it serious thought 'til now. I also know somebody else who is running 13 marathons in 13 months! Amazing!

So I've been thinking, why the hell not? I'm already itching to race again after this half marathon last Sunday. I need something to look forward to after I run LA. So why not go for a marathon in April and one in May in order to complete the lowest requirement (3 marathons in 3 months) for the marathon maniacs!

With all the crap that got me down in 2009, why not make 2010 the ultimate running year ever! I honestly think running is the only thing that will get me through this year.

Anyway, tonight I went through and looked up races that I could run this year. I'd love to run Big Sur but it's already sold out :(

Okay...I'm obviously crazy even thinking about this right now but I'm just putting it out there. I think writing my goals down and sharing them with the world helps me remain focused on them.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

18 miler tomorrow?

Didn't run today.

I've been trying to decide all day today whether I should do my 18 miler tomorrow or on Sunday. I usually do my long runs on Saturdays or Sundays but this weekend is super packed with social events that I've promised to attend. If I run this tomorrow I can get it over with and relax the rest of the weekend. I'll rest Saturday and then on Sunday I'll go for a 6 miler either with the DailyMile people or the Ragnar team.

The longest run I've done in the past month and a half since I started training again has been 15 miles. And that was the day after Christmas (26th). So almost 3 weeks ago! Yikes. Shit, I ran 15 miles only 3 weeks after I began running again. Crazy.

Anyway, I'm a little overwhelmed thinking about running this. I know that I can do it, especially since I'll be taking it slow. I just have to make sure I bring some gels with me and take a route where I can stop for water somewhere. But still...I'm scared and I'm beginning to feel the nervous butterflies in my stomach. 18 miles is a long way to go.

I think having a successful half marathon race this past weekend has rewired my brain. I'm obsessed with training to beat all my goals this year. I'm going crazy thinking about pace and how to get faster. I figure if I can improve so much in just a month and a half of training, then I should be able to improve a lot more in the next 2 months before the marathon. It's all I can think about!

Well, I hope tomorrow turns out well. My legs feel good today. I only did some short speedy runs on Tuesday and Wednesday so the legs are relatively fresh. I hope they will not die on me tomorrow. Let's be positive. We can do this, legs! :) We can so do this.

Happy Running!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

California Dreamin'

I walked up to the shore and dipped my feet in the cold ocean water after the race. It was such a beautiful  morning and everything felt just right. I could not help smiling as I looked into the horizon. Everything will be okay as long as I hang on to my dreams.

13.1 Los Angeles

13.1 LA

I ran a race this past weekend, the 13.1 LA half marathon. My first half marathon since *gasp* high school 9 years ago! Wow, I feel old.

I only raced an 18 mile race and the LA marathon last year, and only one 5K sometime in June. Only 3 races in a year is disappointing since I had high hopes for more racing last year but things didn't end up working out.

Anyway, to get back to the half marathon this past weekend. I went in full of doubts. I barely got any running in the week before. Work started up again and I was back to my crazy night shift hours...ugh. And to top it off, my puppy got sick :( and I went into crazy dog mom mode. So I only managed a short 4 mile run on Thursday which was horrible! Absolutely nothing clicked that day and I found myself deep in despair like you always do when you have a horrible run...especially when it's just a short one and you feel like you're dying. How the hell am I supposed to run 13 just a couple days from now? And 26 in just a couple of months?! I didn't run Friday or Saturday because I wanted fresh legs for the race on Sunday. Instead I spent the weekend relaxing, eating a lot of pizza, drinking beer and watching football with the boy. I still don't understand football hahaha...but it was a good distraction.
Friday night I laid out my clothes and packed everything I needed into my backpack and went to bed at around 11pm. Waking up at 5:30 was painful! I so did not want to get out of bed, but thank goodness the Christmas hiatus from work gave me the chance to switch my sleeping schedule to nights so that I at least managed to get some sleep before this race. I got ready, ate a piece of toast with peanut butter and drank 2 glasses of water and was on my way out the door by 6:15 am.
I got to Venice beach at around 6:40 and managed to find my way to the parking lot pretty easily. You had to go pay for parking at one of those parking machines. I ran up to it and there were only about 4 people ahead of me. I was relieved I was already there with plenty of time before the race start. Then the person paying got their money stuck on the machine and couldn't get it out...ugh. Then the next 2 people had the same problem! By this time the line was like 30 people long behind me! When it was finally my turn, I was praying my money didn't get stuck and luckily, it didn't. Woohoo! I was free to go grab my iPod from my car and head to the start line.

Oh...I decided I wanted to wear a pink tutu for this race. So I'm walking around in a pink tutu and people are looking at me weird haha...Since the tag line for this race is "Where the party meets the pavement", I really was hoping to see people in costumes but I didn't see anyone. So I'm the only weirdo in a tutu at the starting line *sigh*.

Race starts promptly after 7:13 am. I take off and make my way through the crowd of people in front of me, being mindful of keeping a comfortable easy pace for that first mile to see how my body was responding. First mile was easy, the pains I'd been feeling the week before on my right knee and left ankle were barely there so I kicked it up during the second mile but still trying to keep up a pace that I felt I could maintain for that length of time. As the first few miles progressed, I found myself running each mile about 10 seconds faster than the previous one to where I was running at about an 8:20 pace which is usually a fast pace during my training runs. I kept passing more and more people and some gave me funny looks when they saw the girl in the silly tutu pass by them.

Made it to the turnaround point and I kept telling myself I wanted negative splits for this part of the race and even when I felt like I was slowing down, I'd look down at my Garmin and my pace would be 8:05 or something like that. I could not believe it. At the 10 mile mark I was thinking that I was going to cut it close to making my sub 2 hour goal time. The math was just off in my head. And this was also the point where I was beginning to feel really dehydrated and the rest of the race felt like I was just chasing an oasis of water up in the distance. I kept seeing the water stop up ahead of me and then felt disappointed when I realized it wasn't there yet. Yikes.

The last mile was painful. I had given it all I had during those middle miles. I was slowing down and I just felt like I couldn't get enough water in me at those water stops. Just 200 meters short of the finish line, I was done. My body did not want to run anymore and I walked for about 3 seconds when "I'm on a boat" came on my iPod! Hahaha! I swear this song gets me through the toughest parts of a run all the time, it's just so funny and upbeat. It was like divine intervention at that moment and I took off with whatever energy I still had left. I crossed the finish line and got my sweet medal and some goodies.

Finish time- 1:52:41

Yay! PR! My PR in high school was just 1:59 and that's when I was in really good running shape. I even beat my secret goal time of 1:55.

My pace averaged out to 8:36 per mile. Way faster than any long distance I've run probably ever!
So I'm ecstatic...can I keep up this sort of pace for the LA marathon?! It's going to take a lot of hard work to get me there but I'm so excited and it's all I can think about right now. I've got over 2 months to get me there.

I've only been training since the very end of November. The months between July and November saw practically no running at all because I was going through some tough personal stuff. But now that I'm out of that rut, I'm ready to go all out for this race. And I'm looking forward to doing some more races after that. I just have to remain positive and not lose focus and continue doing what I love most, running :)

Sorry for the long ramble.