Wednesday, January 16, 2013

9 weeks and counting!

Another blank span where running should have occurred. Oops. Life is a funny thing. After the New Years double, I hit the track workout on Wednesday, took off Thursday, and ran to work Friday. In hindsight that last run was a mistake. I'd spent the entire week in the Pure Cadence and my body is only used to doing one race in them at a time. At 4mm it is a departure from the other 12mm offset shoes that my body is used to. I paid quite the price on Friday and Saturday. The run to work on Friday dragged on as I quickly became overcome with calf pain. I knew it was the shoes but there was nothing I could do so I ran/walked the rest of the way to the store. Come Saturday morning I eased out of bed, hoping for relief. I felt mildly sore as I headed out but it wasn't until the long run group took off that I realized it was a no-go. 12 miles was the goal, 4 miles was the end result. Valuable lesson learned but another long run in the toilet.

Due to factors somewhat beyond my control (funerals suck) I ran a grand total of three miles last week. *high fives all around* One run to work. That's it. And the 14 miles that was supposed to happen that Saturday? I bumped it to Monday morning and was going to have pleasant company but the weather and E's nagging ankle killed that one. Tuesday? Nada. Today? 7. No, really. Despite the rain, E and her friend J and I met at E's house and hit the streets. E graciously kept the pace slow and steady which allowed me to hang on for the entire run. It wasn't pretty, but it was done. I'd like to run to work at least once this week but logistics for that are not working out. C'est la vie. I just might have to put on my big girl panties and run before work instead.

However, in the midst of all the hoopla I had a nice surprise. My friend and Ragnar captain, C, and I have been meaning to get together for some time now. His lovely fiance needed new running shoes from the store and C said he had something for me. I hadn't the slightest idea what that could be but I quickly found out on Sunday afternoon. BOOM.

Yeah, that just happened. As a team we knew we had performed really well but I didn't expect any official acknowledgment from Ragnar. In case you can't read the print, it says that my team (heretofore including me) is officially badass. We took second place in the submasters division and for that effort received the lovely certificate and a special commemorative relay baton. Pretty neat, right? I was content with the bitchin' medal, but this is good too. Rumors of a 2013 team abound and once I know something, so will you.

Shamrock is a mere 9 weeks way and I am too embarrassed to tell you what my longest run has been. I am really feeling the pressure and it is all self-imposed. Despite training with a group I have just not pulled my own weight and that will become very evident on race day. No PR for this chicky. It sucks but it is my fault and I have 9 weeks to suck it up and come up with a plan B for race day. In the short term that plan involves attempting the 16-18 mile long run scheduled for Saturday morning. There are no foreseeable obstacles to physically getting to the run, just the usual surprise of not knowing what the run will be like until it actually starts. I plan on finding that precious balance between stupid and stubborn in terms of getting every mile done.

I've added a few more races to the 2013 docket, each either a tune-up for a bigger race or a quick recovery run. Up first is Run Your Heart Out 5k in Reston on February 10th. I don't know what my long run mileage will be the day before, but if my legs will permit it I plan to use this as a tempo run. The next race is the Reston 10 Miler on March 3rd. I should be in taper-town by then and hope to run the race as such. Once those two guys are under my belt, I tackle Shamrock. And before the bib comes off, training for the 50k begins. Right now the only race I'm considering between Shamrock in March and the 50k in June is part of the Backyard Burn series. May 5 in Fairfax Station, 5 miles on Fountainhead. My 50k training plan has me doing 26 miles the day before and calls for an hour long medium effort run on what happens to be race day. I think 5 miles on a trail fits the bill.

As you can see, I don't plan on loading up on races for the sake of racing. Each one I've picked out is serving a purpose for a larger goal. As long as I can keep my ego in check and run according to plan, I'll be golden. I don't have anything in April yet (probably going to pass on the Cherry Blossom bib exchange) and am open to suggestion. No, I don't want to race the GW Parkway, I've heard too many reports that have ended with the word "injured." The store has plenty up their sleeve (and I can race for free), but they are mostly 5ks and I'm not sure how that will fit in with the 50k timeline.

At any rate, that is the latest and greatest from me. Non-running life is a swirling top but I've found that is the way I like it. I start what I hope is a killer internship next week, so wish me luck! And yes, I'll be holding down two jobs and two grad classes at the same time while I pretend to train for this marathon. I know, I know. My mom already pointed out that I might be taking too much on. Moms are like that. But you don't know until you try, right? Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Sending off 2012, Welcoming 2013

Overall, the plan to run back to back races was a success!  It didn't hurt that the weather was extremely cooperative. The Fairfax Four Miler was first up, at 6 pm on the 31st. I've run this race twice before and been very pleased with my times. I knew it was going to be different, however, because I am undertrained. I also needed to save something for tomorrow morning. Not that I'm good at that. I love racing and I've never been able to take it easy on race day. My ego just doesn't like it. That being said, you can probably guess what happened.

D and I raced. We agreed on a mile split before we started but once we settled in on the course, we were nearly two minutes ahead of that time. Oops. I've gone out too fast before and paid for it, but this time I tried to hang on. D lets me set the pace and so far I haven't run him into the ground. Mile two was faster than the first, the third was slower, and then the fourth was light speed. It didn't hurt that the remaining 800 meters or so was downhill....

The time definitely didn't seem to reflect the amount of effort expended but we were both happy. I like this race and I plan on doing it again next year. My hip held up pretty well during the race but I was experiencing some pain for hours afterwards. It definitely made me concerned for the 5k to come. We stopped for dinner on the way home, showered, and hit the sack. Neither of us are big on the "holiday" so it was nice to just crash and prepare for the following morning.

Next up, the Reston New Years Day 5k. At the outset, I was tempted to bail. I wasn't tired but my hip was hurting pretty badly. It hurts worse to walk than run, so I was hoping that once we got started that it would be ok. And I reminded myself that it was just a 5k, we did our racing last night, and this was supposed to be fun. We ran into a few friends at the start line and they were planning to run for fun too.  Once the race started, there was no going back.

At no point did I settle into a comfortable pace, although this time we stuck to the goal we'd set for the morning. I couldn't have gone faster if I wanted to. My hip did loosen up as expected but my legs were just TIRED. Two races in less than 24 hours is definitely a challenge. I look back to the double I did earlier this year and I am amazed that I pulled it off. I was leaps and bounds ahead of where I am now, so there really is no point in comparing.

We finished and I flashed a big smile for the race photographer at the end. One bagel and a bottle of water later, it was time to go home. Goal achieved. My hip feels really good today and I haven't the slightest idea why. I'm not going to question it, though. We spent the rest of yesterday being lazy bums and today has been no different. I have a track workout tonight at 6:30, so I'm giving these legs as much rest as I can before then.

I didn't meet all the goals I'd set for myself in 2012. I need to learn to expect the unexpected and that was one of the lessons I learned the hard way. I did have some amazing experiences throughout the year and I do not want to take away from them in any way. Ragnar Relay might be at the top of that list. I have a few races scheduled for 2013 but I think I'm going to be a little more cautious and a bit more open to surprise this year. Between the Shamrock Marathon in March and the Endurance Challenge 50k in June, the spring is spoken for.

I can enjoy a nice recovery during the sweltering summer when I'd normally be  training for the fall. And come fall? Who knows. There are so many things I want to try for the first time and so many races I want to face again with a vengeance. 2013 has started on the right foot and I will continue to build on that. I've recruited some new supporters that are going to help me iron out issues off the road that impact my performance on the road. It is all a little scary but exciting.

School starts up again in just about two weeks and I'm actually looking forward to it. My internship is also about to begin and I can't begin to express my excitement about that. Between school, interning, working, and running I will once again be carrying a heavy load. But I'm confident in my ability to handle it all, if not with grace then with a little style. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and are ready to take on the new year, come what may!