4 Images

>> Thursday, September 30, 2010

1. A (long-time-coming) gross foot photo:
Yeah, it's been a while. Too long, in fact. The interesting thing is that I've run more in the last 2 months than I EVER have before, but my feet are doing pretty good! I guess that's what happens when you don't run every run ALL OUT. Here's the current state of my right foot:

That's just a SLIGHT purple-haze to my second toe, and a little "rubbed-raw" spot on the knuckle of my third toe. Not too shabby.

2. Oh, how about another gross foot photo:
I came across 2 small plantar warts on my right foot about 10 days ago, so I started treating them with "wart pads" so they weren't painful for the race. This is how they looked last night after they've been "burned" off by the wart pads:

I may need to treat them a little more, but I'm letting them be from now through the race to make sure I don't have 2 nice, soft, tender spots on my foot during the hard-fought 10 Mile.

3. Road closed:
I took this photo just off of Summit Avenue on my way to class this morning:

Damn right!

4. Running the race route:
I've got a good sense of the race course for this weekend. I've recently ran ALL of it except for the first 2 miles and the last half mile or so. Here, check out the nerdy map I made with all my taper-time:

So as you can see, miles 2.5 - 4.5 and miles 5.5 - 9 are routes I'm VERY familiar with. Two days ago, I ran the "big hill" at mile 2 along with the very middle part of the course. And I've ran most of the final stretch of the route within the last 2 months, but I also work right along that stretch, so I see it (and walk along it and drive along it) a few days each week.

Back with a HAIRY "Friday Funny" tomorrow! Thanks everyone!


Pros and Cons of Working With a Coach

>> Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sunday is the TC 10 Miler. It's the reason Jen took me on as a client. After Sunday, I'm no longer going to be working with Jen. I thought I'd take this taper time to put together a list of Pros and Cons of the different things I've come to realize over the last 8 weeks of being coached.

Pro: You don't have to think about your workouts; you just DO them. Julia (and other friends who are coached) have been telling me about this "pro" for years. Normally, when I'm not being coached, I try to plan out my weeks well ahead of time. "OK, this is a 'build' week, this is a 'run heavy' week, and this week I'll scale back a little because I'm racing on the weekend." Then I'll fill in the days of the week. Monday: this. Tuesday: this: Wednesday: this. Etc. But since I've been working with Jen, I just check my training schedule at night, wake up in the morning, and do what she's said. No fuss.

Con: You might want to NOT swim / bike / run today. When I agreed to have Jen coach me for 8 weeks, I agreed to follow her orders to the T. It's NOT like that for her "normal" clients; she's cutting me a SUPER deal, and I wanted to make sure that I lived up to my end of the bargain. So I did NOT SHIFT A THING. (I only missed 2 workouts over these entire 8 weeks, and that was an easy[ish] swim and a super easy spin on the bike that were scheduled for the weekend Pharmie and I were out at Rev3 Cedar Point. I let Jen know about this ahead of time, and she said they weren't vital workouts, so it wasn't a big deal. I DID make sure to fit in my long run that weekend.) I think my point here is you CAN miss or shift around workouts, but you might start to feel a little guilty about it. "Oh, it was raining today, so I didn't want to bike, so I did tomorrow's run workout instead." Sure, that's fine, but I feel like Jen had SUCH a plan for me, that I didn't want to shift a single thing around. I think I'm making this a bigger deal than it really is...

- - - - - - - - -

Pro: Your "old routine" will be nicely broken up. I was a runner for 2 years in high school, but then I didn't do much for 8 years. And I've only been doing this swim, bike, run thing since 2006, so it hasn't been THAT long. But I'm already deep into my own routine. A coach can break you of that and show you some new ways of training. I'm not saying your old routine is wrong, but I DO think that everyone's routine could use a nice "stir" now and then. Being coached is a GREAT way to break through a plateau.

Con: You might like your old routine. I've missed running intervals (on the track) while working with Jen. (But I haven't mentioned this to her - if I REALLY missed intervals, I bet she could have worked more into the plan.) I planned on doing intervals the Friday before starting with Jen (see below), and in the 8 weeks we've worked together, I think I've done them once. (BUT she had me not do as many because I could benefit more from tempo runs instead.) I also haven't done long, hard efforts the way I usually do. And I DO kind of miss some of that.

- - - - - - - - -

Pro: You'll learn a lot more about your training / body / pace. I have 2 examples for this:

Example #1: Usually, after HARD workouts or races, I take a day (or 2) off. I don't really know why - it's just felt right. Jen has had me do easy spinning or easy running after HARD days. I'd never do that on my own. A few weeks ago, my heel really flared up on one of those easy days. (I never injured myself working with Jen, but we flirted with that "line" for most of the 8 weeks to push myself as much as possible.) I realized that I usually don't hurt myself on long runs, but instead it's AFTER those long / hard efforts when my body isn't fully recovered that I hurt myself. This might sound dumb to you, but it was a pretty great revelation to me. I thought back, and it all made sense: when I first injured my heel 2.5 years ago, it was on a short run that SHOULDN'T have hurt it. But that short run was 2 days after a hard 18 miler. I would have never discovered this about my body had Jen not been telling me what to do.

Example #2: The Friday before I started being "officially" coached by Jen, she told me to run 4x1600 on the track with descending times with more rest than I was used to in between intervals (4:00). She said to start around 5:40, and drop to under 5:20. She noted: "...IF doable..that may be a tad of a stretch, but probably not." I'd NEVER had an interval under 5:20, let alone my FOURTH interval (I usually just do 3x1600). Well, I did 5:40, 5:34, 5:25, and 5:18. How was I able to get that 4th interval under 5:20? I hit 5:18 because I was told to. Simple. As. That. No one ever TOLD me to go run a 5:20 interval before, so I never considered it an option.

Con: If you're aiming for a big goal, you WILL be pushed. Is this really a con? Of course you will be pushed, but this is the closest to a con I can think of to counteract the pro of learning more about your body / training.

- - - - - - - - -

Pro: I find myself pushing myself harder on my coached workouts. When I build my OWN workout plan, I catch myself always thinking about the next day. "Oh, don't overdo it on the bike today because you're planning that HARD run for tomorrow." I always end up with a lot of 85%-90% efforts when I'm hoping for an "all out" workout. But for some reason, when doing Jen's workouts, I'm ONLY thinking about this workout. If she says "HARD" or "ALL OUT" or "FINISH CRAWLING" (which she has said before), that's what I do. I can't explain this one, but I KNOW it's happening like this.

Con: There's no con for the pro above. If you stick to the plan and don't over-extend yourself and get injured, then there is no con to pushing hard. If you follow the plan from a coach that knows what he/she is talking about, you'll be golden.

- - - - - - - - -

Pro: I love Jen.

Con: Coaching costs money, even if you've professed your love to your coach. Because I'm cheap thrifty, I think KNOW this is the biggest "con" that's keeping me from being coached. I have really, REALLY, REALLY enjoyed my 8 weeks with Jen, but I just can't get myself to shell out that much $$ on an already expensive "hobby." I think a lot of people know what I mean here.

- - - - - - - - -

Pro: You'll get workout ideas for AFTER your time being coached is over. I mean, of course. I'll probably be training for a half marathon this winter or spring, and I KNOW I'll think back to some of the longer, harder workouts Jen has had me do. I'll add a few miles on, and suddenly I have a workout plan that might help me out for that race. She's given me lots of great ideas for how to "mix up" my training even though I've only been with her for 8 weeks.

Con: You can't workout "blind." You need to try to understand why your coach is having you do the things that you're doing. This really isn't a "con," but more of a "warning." Doing the workouts as prescribed is one thing, but (for me at least) UNDERSTANDING them makes a big difference. I always tried to figure out "why" as I was doing it. I feel like if I didn't, I'd be done with Jen this next week and I'd have no idea where to go from here.

- - - - - - - - -

Other notes:

- Jen was ALWAYS open for questions or clarification. I've been working with her for 8 weeks, and I have nearly 150 emails in my "Jen Harrison" folder in my inbox. Most of those didn't start from her - most of those were HER answers to MY questions OR her e-mails with feedback after I had logged my workouts.

- Before being coached, I always leaned towards "over-training." Every workout was usually 85% effort or harder. With Jen, she's got me running FASTER than I ever have been, but she's also got me running SLOWER than I usually train. (And I've heard a TON of people mention this when they first start working with a coach.) Normally, I'm at 7s or faster ALL THE TIME. Some of Jen's warm-ups or cool-downs have been 8-9 minute miles. Proper training involves some slower running (or so I'm learning).

- After working with Jen, I'll go back to SOME of my old ways of training, but I know I'll shift a lot of what I've done in the past to match with what Jen had me doing. I think I'll (dare I say it) WARM UP MORE in my regular workouts once I'm not one of Jen's babies anymore. ;)

DID I MISS ANYTHING? Do you work with a coach? Is there a PRO or CON that you can think of that's not on this list? Comment and let me know! You can check out more on Jen by going to her site, and if you missed it a few weeks ago, click here to see a "guest post" that Jen wrote about finding a good coach.

p.s. I sent this to Jen yesterday as I was working on it. I wanted to get her input (to add to this post if she wanted to) before I published it. Here's part of what she said: "...I think the only thing I would mention is that communication is key - that you MADE SURE you were on the same page with me and I was on the same page with your heel, with your travel - etc.....and a good coach (Not just me) will be responsive to that and adapt and be quick about it."

p.p.s. As Coach Jen told me to do in the last post Here's today's "reason I will PR" for the 10 miler: "You are a MUCH smarter racer than you were last year." Last year, when you ran it in 1:02:43, that was your FIRST 10 mile race. And you had only done 2 half marathons at that point as well. Since then, you've done 2 more 10 milers and 2 more half marathons. You're not the same person.


The Plan for the TC 10 Mile

>> Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Apology in advance: this week will have some over-analytical posts about the upcoming 10 Mile. Sorry.

Jen put this in my schedule for this week: "Please put together your race plan for me to review. Please include: pacing for the race, fueling for the race, a timeline of the race and any 'what ifs'." First of all, before even getting her feedback, I KNEW this would be useful in helping to get my mind set and wrapped around this race. Secondly, I couldn't wait for Jen's 2 cents on my thoughts. Here's what I sent her. It's not super exciting, but it IS a glimpse into my head:

Hi Jen-

Here's what's been bumping around in my mind >>>>>>>

I'm not expecting you to read this, but should you want to, here's my RACE REPORT from last year at this same race.

Here are the miles splits I pulled from that race report:
First 5: 6:35, 6:26, 12:46 (6:23 pace), 6:20 = 32:09
Last 5: 6:23, 6:28, 6:00, 6:00, 5:40 = 30:34
Total: 1:02:43

Seeing that I ran the last 5 in 30:34 and the last 3 in 17:40 BACK THEN kinda makes me feel good about this year!! But doing that after running the first half MUCH HARDER still scares me....

SOOOO, based on my splits from last year, looking at my thoughts in my race report, and the elevation chart....

(Mile 3 is uphill, a short "gut-busting" hill just after mile 5, "false flats" uphill from 5.5 - 7 [not as bad as it looks on the elevation chart], then small rollers to the finish. DOWNHILL finish!)

... here's what I think I should shoot for this year:

6:00, 5:55, 6:10, 6:05, 6:05 = 30:15
6:10, 6:05, 5:55, 5:50, 5:40 = 29:40
Total: 59:55.

WHAT'S YOUR TAKE ON THIS? Do-able? My goal is to just be sub-60. 59:59.9 would be cause for celebration! Is that possible? Like 90% possible or 15% possible? ;) I think I probably need a little more cushion going into that last mile - I can't be holding onto the fact that I need to close with a 5:40 mile. Sure, I did that last year, but I ran the first half a bit too easy last year.

I'll be wearing shorts, a compression-like top, a "throw away" shirt, and my compression calf sleeves. I'll do my normal 2 packets of oatmeal in the morning and a Roctane gel about 15 minutes pre-race. I'll also have a Power Bar and another regular GU on me in case I start getting hungry pre-race. (I usually get hungry enough to eat part or all of the bar, but I usually don't need the other GU.) I won't need any food on the course - a few water stops on the route will be fine.

I don't know what "what ifs" to throw in. I've been thinking that I want to keep myself in contention for a sub-60 finish. What I mean is that I DON'T want to see consistent 6:15s on my watch as I slowly see the goal slip away. I'd like to stick as close to the plan as possible. IF IF IF something happens and I hit a wall and cannot maintain that pace, then I'll at least know that I went for it. Sure, I could pull in a 1:01:05 PR, but that's not the real goal here - that would be OK, but no cause for celebration. So I'm already thinking in the dangerous "all or nothing" mindset of sub-60 or bust. Literally. I don't know if this is "gutsy" thinking or stupid thinking....

What do you think of all of this??

Thanks Jen!

Like I noted in her e-mail, I KNOW that I can't hope to close with a 5:40 mile. I know I need to be closer to my goal than that at mile 9.

Jen sent me a response with 5 things to be doing / thinking about this week. She asked me not to repeat them word-for-word here - coach/client secrets. ;) But here's the jist of them all:

1. Be focused on race day. No distractions.

2. Sleep and eat well this week.

3. Each day this week, write down one reason I will PR. Then review the entire list pre-race.

4. Warm up well for the race.

5. Race splits: I CAN count on a negative split, but I shouldn't let the hills dictate my pace as much as I showed in my first e-mail to Jen.

She had a lot more for me in each area, but this was the basic idea.

With regards to my splits, I think I can shoot for being at 30:10 - 30:15 at mile 5. I'll use the first few miles to get things figured out, but I'll hope to be within that 5 second window at mile 5. *gulp* THEN I'll try to keep the pace stronger. I WON'T let miles 6 and 7 slip away like I had first told Jen I would. I'll keep them stronger so I DON'T have to end with a 5:50 and 5:40 mile like I first told Jen I would do. Basically, I'll be checking my watch each mile to make sure I won't be far from 6, 12, 18, 24, 30, 36, 42, 48, and 54 minutes. Then I'll HOPE to get under 60!!!

Here are Jen's most recent thoughts on the race plan, and they match up nicely with what I just mentioned above:

I think for the miles 5-8 you do need to run these at full max. So miles 1-4 you have 1 more gear, but you are STILL very very on the edge, then MAX IT OUT and run like you are being chased for miles 5-8 and hold on for 9,10, yes.

Sounds like a plan!

p.s. I like Jen's idea in #3. It sounds kinda cheesy, but writing those thoughts down and having them in my head to draw upon when the race gets tough might help. A lot. So here's yesterday's "reason I will PR:"

"All of the things that Jen Harrison has done to you." That sounds dirty. Whatever. Maybe it's supposed to. But she's REALLY mixed up your normal routine, and she's REALLY had you pack the miles on (considering you only run a few days a week due to injury issues). Last September, you ran 73.2 miles before the 10 Mile in early Oct. This year, by the end of the month, you'll have more than 109 miles on your legs. And you've been hitting her time goals for your runs ON THE HEAD. She has you ready for this. No doubt.

And here's today's "reason I will PR:"

"Last year, you ran the last 3 miles of the TC 10 Mile in 6:00, 6:00, and 5:40. This year, you're in WAY better shape." Sure, I ran the first 5 miles too easy last year, but still, having that speed at the end of the race is a positive sign going into this year's race.


Photos from the Iron Girl Duathlon

>> Monday, September 27, 2010

Yesterday, I headed out to the Iron Girl Duathlon in Bloomington, MN. I had nothing to do in the morning, so I figured I'd bump into someone I knew at the race. And I LOVE to cheer at races!

I ran into Dave N and Dan K right away (plus TONS more people throughout the morning). Dan and I ended up chatting through the entire race (his wife was doing the race). I ran into my archenemy racing buddy Jenny Wilcox and Suzie Finger too - they were both ready to race.

I wrote an Examiner article about the race, and I put up nearly 40 photos. CLICK HERE to go to the article. And check out a few photos from the race below.

The start of wave 2 - Dan's wife is 2nd from the right

A later wave starting with some women already on the bike

Jenny Wilcox starting the run - this photo sums up her amazing race!

Suzie Finger starting the race

Dan and I headed up to watch the bikers go by on the 2-loop ride. Dan ended up running back down the hill to help a racer who was having trouble with her chain:

These guys got her going again in no time (Dan's on the left)

Suzie starting loop 2

Jenny flying by to start the final loop

Dan receiving the hand-off from his wife as she started the final run

A smile and wave from Suzie coming out of T2

Cute high-5s to start the final run

Jenny nearing the finish with ANOTHER WIN!

Suzie nearing the line with a FIFTH PLACE FINISH!

Again, CLICK HERE to go to my first Examiner article about the race (along with a lot of images) and CLICK HERE for the second article, which only consists of more images. Thanks everyone!

6 days to my big race! *gulp*


Poopy Fartlek

>> Saturday, September 25, 2010

Thursday, my coach had a fartlek on the schedule. Thursday was also the day that all of Minnesota nearly drowned. You've seen it on the news - the Metro area only got about 3 inches over the course of 24 hours, but some places got over 10 inches. My folks got 9 inches! That will keep Dad away from the harvest for a little too long. Sorry Dad!

Anyway, coach told me to do this on trails, so I ran down the middle of Summit Ave (on grass and something that resembles a single-track MTB trail). It was pouring when I started, but thankfully, Mother Nature called off the rain when I was about 2 minutes from the end of the run. Sheesh. More like Mother Jerk-Face.

Here's my wet and pathetic self after almost 8 miles of rain:

Note my erect nipples in that photo. The heavy, wet shirt rubbed on them over those 8 miles so that they were "at attention" and "hurty" the rest of the day. One of them had just a little spot that was rubbed raw, but not bad. I hate it when something f*cks with my nip-nips.

I got in the house and took off my shirt in the basement. I had NO IDEA the back was so full of mud that I had kicked up while running!!

I guess when something is called a "fartlek," one shouldn't be surprised to finish covered in something that looks like a major poo incident.



Friday Funny 117: Working Out in the 70s

>> Friday, September 24, 2010

This makes me wish I was around to enjoy working out in this decade:

I would have totally ROCKED those jean shorts.


10 Mile Confirmation

>> Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's official. This just came in the mail:

I'm #11210. I've got 10 days to convince myself that I CAN hold on to sub-6s for 10 miles. That I CAN put up with the pain for 59:xx. That I CAN survive until the end.

Oh, and here's an important Farm Animal Update: This year, the Cow (Matt) and the Chicken (me) will be back to cheer for the marathon runners, but the pig is being replaced:

Instead, we'll be having a Raccoon (Mike) and a Moose (Borsch) join us!

So marathon runners, look for a jolly group of 4 random animals about a half mile from the finish line.

No runners, you're not hallucinating.

Yes, those are farm animals you see there.


p.s. If you're a "local," consider becoming a fan of the "St. Paul Triathlon Examiner" on Facebook. I'll be posting links to my articles and other things going on in the local tri / du / swimming / biking / running community, and by "liking" this page, this info will just appear in your FB news feed. So CLICK HERE and "like" the St. Paul Triathlon Examiner! Thanks!


More Rev3 Photos

>> Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rev3 Cedar Point photos just came online. This was the half iron race that Pharmie did with along with her EvoTri teammates. Here are 10 more photos from their race:

Pharmie coming out of the water

These next three photos are from James, the hubby of one of the Evotri team members. (Click here to see James' photos from Rev3.) I love how epic these are:

Beating a WHOLE PACK of swimmers out of the water!

This should be my desktop image

On the bike (on the narrow causeway out of the park)


Rural Girl

Pharmie running with a roller coaster in the background

Robby hitting the finish!

Pharmie down the chute with a look that says "PR BABY!"

If you missed ALL the photos from my big Rev3 Cedar Point "Sherpa Report," CLICK HERE to check it out.

Oh, and remember how I was cheering on DKT, our local pro triathlete who finished 3rd in the full iron race at Rev3 Cedar Point? He had 2 items from McDonalds on him during the race, and he ate one of them 90 miles into the bike! CLICK HERE to read my Examiner article about his secret food weapon that helped him turn in an 8:36 finish in his first Iron-distance race!


Leading Up To My Last Long Run

>> Monday, September 20, 2010

This is a “week in review” post about the last 10 days or so of training. I don’t want to post all of my coach’s secrets, so I’ll give just a few of her goals for each workout. I’m now on a downslide for the TC 10 Mile in just under 2 weeks!!

• Thursday, 9/9: 4x1600 on the track. Coach's quote: "4 x 1600m - yes....but with less rest today....but here are the times I want you to hit - NO FASTER - #1: 5.45, #2: 5.40, #3: 5.30-5:35. #4: MAX EFFORT - what can you do here? REST is 2 - 2:30."

I nailed this workout, as I mentioned in the “mental” running post from this weekend. I gave myself 2:15 rest, and I did 5:44, 5:41, 5:30, and 5:15. Nice.

• Friday, 9/10: skipped an easy swim. Yes, yes, I know. I skipped 2 workouts this weekend. Bad Steve. But I just missed an easy(ish) swim and a super easy spin on the bike. I made sure to fit in my long run (Saturday). This was when Pharmie and I were in Ohio for the Rev3 Half Iron race.

• Saturday, 9/11: 75:00 run with hard finish: Coach's quote: "WU 2miles easy.....then, here we go....I want you to start at 6.35-40 pace and descend for 5 miles down below 6 min....you can do this.....THIS may be only 5-10" per mile and that is OK.....the key is to drive yourself sooo hard for the last 2 miles of these 5.. so you finish TOTALLY 100% done."

I ended up running 10.84 miles out around Cedar Point Amusement Park. Those hard 5 miles were 6:22, 6:25, 6:12, 5:52, 5:47. I was done. Good workout.

• Sunday, 9/12: skipped an easy bike. Cheered for Pharmie’s team at Rev3, and took 600+ photos. That counts for something. ;)

• Monday, 9/13: longer interval swim, and some core work.

• Tuesday, 9/14: key tempo run. Coach's quote: "Wu 2 miles easy...then, we are going to progressively work on speed... I want miles 3, 4, 5, 6 ALL getting progressively faster. THE goal is that each mile gets faster and you need to control that - last mile, #6 is all out - I mean ALL OUT - how fast can you do that one? Should be suffering. OK? Mile #7 is cd easy. Ok to crawl."

Suffering and crawling. OK. Got it. (Yikes.) Those hard miles were 6:03, 5:55, 5:42, and 5:45. That last mile was up a hill, so I think it WAS a harder effort, and if on the flat, maybe would have been like 5:40. Regardless, I finished this run TOASTED. I walked for 4:00 and even then, when I started jogging, my core was ON FIRE. Good news: my heel was still cooperating with me.

• Wednesday, 9/15: a bunch of 100s in the pool, and some core work.

• Thursday, 9/16: easy(ish) 7 mile run. Legs still felt grand.

• Friday, 9/17: easy spin. Coach's quote: "60 min easy spin - just FOR FUN....if you have a MTB that is super too....enjoy!"

I Facebooked a high school buddy who lives near some MTB trails and asked if he wanted to go for a quick ride. I met at his house and we headed out on the trails:

The main trails were closed because it had been rainy for the last couple of days, so I just followed Aaron as we looked for other trails to ride. I took this photo just as he hopped off his bike and said, “Uhh, I think we need to turn around.”

What? You can’t jump a 40 foot downed oak tree?

Aaron had to get to class, but I stayed out for another half hour or so. Once Aaron had left me, I had a pretty sweet wipeout. The trail suddenly turned sharply, headed down a steep hill, and got all “rooty.” My bike slid out from under me, and I bailed out right into a tree. Just got a few scrapes on one shin and some scratches from my pedal inside the other leg. As Aaron said earlier in the day: “It’s not a good day of riding unless you break skin.”

I finished up a little muddy:

Yeah, I know my helmet strap is loose, but I just wiped out. Everything got shifted.

Slightly muddy bike

Nothing a little “hose down” couldn’t handle back at home

• Saturday, 9/18: LONGEST RUN BEFORE THE RACE. Coach's quote: "80 min run, after the 2 mile warm up easyyyy, then run 1 mile moderate to get the body warmed up.... THEN... I want you to run 5 miles sub 6. CD easy rest of time. NAIL IT."

This was the test. This is where I tried to keep in mind a lot of Jen’s pointers from our “mental” running conversation that I posted about on Saturday. Here’s what I said when I logged my workout:

Started the first hard mile. Lots of people on the trail, but tried to focus on MY pace. Nearing the end of this mile, without looking at my watch, I felt like I had MAYBE ran this mile a bit too slow. Sure enough: 6:10

Tried to up the pace a little right away. Needed to be sub-6 for the next mile. 5:55

Tried to keep it strong. Thought I ran it a LITTLE harder than this: 5:58

Was hurting, but not bad. Tried to keep it strong. Felt like I had a decent amount left, so I tried to start upping the pace. 5:55

Starting the last hard mile, I realized I was hurting, but not too bad. Figured I'd just go hard. I knew this would be a fast mile, and that was maybe NOT a good thing - I should have been able to go harder in the first few miles. 5:28

Recap of the hard 5 miles: 6:10, 5:55, 5:58, 5:55, 5:28. 29:26 total.

Walked for 2:00 and realized I didn't hurt NEARLY as much as after my hard 4 miles earlier this week! And I realized that during this run, my mental state was better than earlier this week. Earlier this week, I didn't want to finish my hard 4 miles - I thought I'd have to start walking early. During these hard 5 miles, it was never an issue of wanting to stop - it was just about how hard I could go. Minor victory. (It'd be a major victory if I had lowered my mile 1-4 times more so I didn't have so much left for mile 5.)

All-in-all, it was around 11.5 miles of running. As soon as I had updated my workout, I got this not from Jen:

NOW THIS IS PERFECT!!!!!!!!!! IF you went out harder then you would not have been able to run a 5.28. I am OVER JOYED with that 5.28 and you feeling like you could go harder and had more. THAT is why I have you do these runs....so you know how hard hard really is! MOST people think they know what hard is - MOST do not. PERFECTLY done. This should give you confidence for that 10 miler. AWESOME! rest up!

Oh, and I had JUST picked up some Zoot Compression Calf Sleeves the day before (for cheap!), so I tried them out for the run:

Post run

They stayed put and were comfortable to run in. If it’s not too warm of a day, I’ll wear these for the TC 10 Mile. (I wore them the rest of the day for recovery [which included 2 weddings] as you can see in the previous post.)

That got me thinking. Now I’m one step closer to looking like my archenemy racing buddy, Jenny Wilcox. She can ALWAYS be seen in calf sleeves:

Thankfully, I still have the better legs

• Sunday, 9/19: easy 5 mile run. Coach Jen wanted me to get in 4 runs this week IF my heel was feeling OK. And it was. It got a little sore during this run, but not bad.

So I think I'm on track for my sub-60 goal at the TC 10 Mile. It's going to be far from easy, but it IS in the realm of possibilities. I'll be back to over analyze the race next week when it's closer to "go" time. Have a great week everyone!


Compression Technology: Now For Weddings

>> Sunday, September 19, 2010

Yesterday, after my long, hard run, Pharmie and I went to TWO weddings:

It turns out my new Zoot compression calf sleeves match my formal wedding attire to a T:

I'll have more about my long run tomorrow. I tried to use some of Coach Jen's advice mentioned in the previous post. (Take a look at that post, check out my "mental running issues," and weigh in with your own.)

Happy weekend, everyone!


Mental Running Issues / Advice

>> Saturday, September 18, 2010

I had been mentioning a little to Coach Jen about how I feel like I can’t run long AND hard at the same time. (By the way, I’m going to TRY to refrain from “that’s what she said” jokes in this post, but it will be hard. Oooh, like right there....) She knew I was working up some questions and issues. When I told her I nearly had my ideas worked out into words, she told me this:

NO worries, just tell me you are mental.

So here’s what I sent her. Tell me if any of this sounds like you too:

Help me with my head

Hi Jen-

So I've been mentioning my "deal" over the last few days. I have issues going LONG and HARD (that's what she said - sorry) on runs.

You've seen my KILLER interval times. Last week you asked me to do 4x1600 at 5:45, 5:40, 5:30-35, and then "all out." I did 5:44, 5:41, 5:30 and 5:15. That I can do. When I know I have a little break coming (like when running intervals), I can GO.

The problem is when I try to run a longer, harder run. I have a hard time convincing myself that I can maintain a solid pace. My sweet interval times are always faster (proportionally so) than what I can do on my tempo or long runs.

A year ago, when I was "over-training" for my first 10 mile race by running every run too hard (something that Julia and you helped me see), I would focus on keeping a solid pace around half way into the run. Then I would just keep building. I've learned my body does NOT like to slow down - it feels like failure. So if I can keep a solid pace through the middle, I'll just keep building through the finish.

I found it weird that 1.5 miles into my "4 hard miles" during my run yesterday, I felt like death and couldn't catch my breath. But after another mile, I was running FASTER (the fastest mile of my 4), and I actually felt BETTER! (And don't EVEN tell me that I need to run everything at 5:45 pace and then I'll feel A-OK and be able to run forever.) Maybe it was just because I was that much closer to being done so it just FELT easier? Dunno.

And now, training with you as my coach, I'm not doing any long, steady, fast runs, so I'm feeling a bit scared at how I'll do in the TC 10 Mile coming up in over 2 weeks. What pace can I run and HOLD for 10 miles?


Is there something I can be thinking about / concentrating on / doing differently as I hit my last long hard run before the 10 Mile? And / Or is there something I can be working on after the 10 mile so that I'm fixed by next spring?

Or am I just mental.


Here’s what I mean: After I logged my interval workout mentioned above, I got Jen’s most enthusiastic response ever. It contained the biggest, bluest letters ever:

I sent her a note back and explained how my interval times are always better than my long runs (as outlined in the e-mail to Jen above).

Here are some other numbers to back up my points. Below are 3 screenshots from the McMillan Running Calculator. They show my estimated times based on my back-to-back-to-back races this past spring: a 5K, a 4 mile, and a half marathon:

Estimates based on my 17:11 5K

Estimates based on my 22:42 4 mile

Estimates based on my 1:22:52 half marathon

Notice: My 5K time says that I could do a half marathon in 1:19:26, but that’s WAY FASTER than I could do.

On the flip-side, my half marathon time says that I should do a 5K in 17:56, but that’s WAY SLOWER than I just did.

I can go shorter and harder, but when I go longer, I end up easing back a little. (And I know, the McMillan Running Calculator is NOT an exact science. I HAVE heard things about needing to run a ton of miles to be able to hit your predicted McMillan times.)

Anyway, here’s what Coach Jen wrote back:

Well, first of all, you are mental, that is already a fact. :)

You know...this is a normal feeling - and if you were the other way (could run fast forever but couldn't nail your track times) we would be having the other conversation.

YOU have gone long and fast...you have run nearly 11 miles with fast miles at the end....just this past weekend...

THEN this Saturday you have a 80 minute run with last 5 miles or so at race pace...so that is what you need. YOU need to FIRST OF ALL stop putting up a mental block and saying you cannot do this....if your head does not think you can do this, then your body will take the easy way out - trust me! that is everyone's problems. THEY do not believe they can.

IF I asked you to LIST 10 reasons why you will PR @ the 10 miler right now - you could rattle them off quickly to me - you need to believe that....YOU have nailed every single one of your workouts - you have stayed healthy- you are running more than ever before....not much more you can really do.

YOU have that 80 min run this weekend and that is KEY. YOU need to learn how to pace yourself.....at a slower pace (this is where the HR monitor helps someone) and then after 5 miles this saturday taking it up a notch and getting into that sub 6 min pace or 10" either way. On tired legs, on tired lungs and pushing thru.

THIS is not easy for anyone - even the PROS - they all have just learned a little better how to suffer and know that they will not die - sure, they may throw up, but not keel over.

FOR YOU - you said you have never felt like puking on your runs....your harder ones...that is interesting to me- so that tells me there is MUCH more in the tank....I mean, really! THIS is something you should feel after your hard runs...we are not training for an aerobic day like the Ironman - we are training to work at or above your lactate threshold for 59 minutes...and that is NOT a happy place. It will NOT feel good. If you think for one second that this will be easy...it will not be easy. BUT you are and will be prepared..but you need to focus on this mentally. Getting ready to race is not only physical but mental...so sitting in a dark, quiet room (I am serious) and focusing /visualizing your race...feeling good and then having some pain (from working hard) and how you will get thru that and what will be your words to yourself to get thru this threshold mentally....and eat the pain...and have the confidence that this will be your PR day.

So I would say it is a mental block really - you start to get uncomfortable and you ease off for fear you will hurt or possibly vomit. And, you know what? I love to race racers like that - we can smell the weakness and that is when we go harder. YOU need to think like that - NOT like "Oh this hurts!" Well, shit, of course it hurts....ON my 20 miler this past weekend I was throwing up in my mouth and trying to figure out how to manage that while suffering like a pig. YOU got this Steve....

This Saturday's run will be perfect for this. And, it your job @ 100% mental effort to nail this run.


I responded to her:

Some people have questioned me about my "never have to barf" issues. I run out of air before I have to puke. I just cannot breathe, and THAT is my limit. Barfing must lie someplace after breathing, but hopefully before death....

Jen replied one last time:

The key is shifting your breathing pattern. So when things are easy you are breathing 2 and 2, which means every 2nd stride of the leg you breathe in and out. WHEN YOU ARE suffering you breathe 1 and 1...every 1 stride you breathe - rough!

Do you have "issues" like me? Do you have any ways that you work through your pain while running long and hard? I'd love to hear what you do or what works for you.

And I'll post tomorrow with how my last long, hard run goes today. I'm headed out the door right now....


Friday Funny 116: If Superheros Were Hipsters

>> Friday, September 17, 2010

Some good stuff from College Humor.



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