Sunday, March 21, 2010

I've neglected my blog for nearly a month. In my defense, I'm a PhD student, and I've been preparing for comprehensive exams and working on an article manuscript. I'm great at balancing school and running, but blogging is admittedly a low priority and comes close to last on my never-ending to-do list.

Despite the chaos, I've mostly kept to my running schedule. Our training schedule switched from 4 days per week to 5, and Wednesdays are now spent running instead of swimming. I hope to compete in a triathlon this summer, so it's important that I also incorporate swimming and cycling into my weekly workout schedule. Unfortunately, training for this half marathon leaves little time for that.

Here's a summary of my recent training:

The weather last week was absolutely beautiful with highs in the 60s. Although it was great to run in the sun wearing shorts and a tank top, I had a difficult time adjusting to the heat. Breathing was more difficult, and my runs were hot and uncomfortable. Akitla hasn't shed her winter coat yet, either, so she was limited in how far and fast she could comfortably run. I knew I had to cut our 5-miler short last week when she started pulling me off the bike lane into the adjacent marshlands so that she could get a drink of water.

17 minutes! That's how long it took me to run two miles last week! I'm so proud of myself. I knew I was capable of running 8 minute mile intervals, but this was the first time I'd run 8 minute miles consecutively with no rest in between.

10 miles! Yesterday's schedule called for a 10 mile run. I was delighted to see that it was snowing in the morning, which made the run much more comfortable for both me and Akitla. Since I have my eye on a trail marathon in August, I decided to run the dirt trails at Lake Lansing Park. That was a bold move. Trail running is MUCH more difficult than road running, and the longest I had ever run on the trails was probably 4 miles. I knew completing all 10 miles would be difficult, so I kept myself at a slow pace. I needed to conserve as much energy as possible for navigating the hills and uneven terrain. Once you've been running for awhile, the trail begins to feel like an obstacle course, and jumping through the tree roots that have overtaken much of the trail begins to feel like running through tires at boot camp. My muscles are sore, but I'm so proud of myself for surviving the run!

Only a few short weeks until race weekend!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A day behind and a tough run this morning

Our training schedule called for a 5 mile run yesterday. I'm ashamed to say that I skipped it. I've been studying extra hard lately. I've stayed on campus the last few nights until 9 or 10pm. By the time I get home, eat something, and unwind, I'm up way past my bedtime. It's has really worn me out. Plus, it's been snowing like crazy here for the last few days. Morning exhaustion coupled with snowy sidewalks hasn't exactly been the best motivator to get outside and run.

I sucked it up this morning. Instead of doing the scheduled 2 miles, I did yesterday's 5. It was awful. There was a good inch or two covering the sidewalks, and my legs were absolutely exhausted. Putting one foot in front of the other was a struggle.

To top it off, Akitla was extra hyper and excited to be outside in the snow. She was incapable of concentrating on running. It felt like she was always either trying to pull ahead of me, dive sideways into the snowbanks lining the sidewalks, or chase the falling snowflakes. If she wasn't doing those things, she was distracted with [fill in the blank: squirrel, car, person, bird] and getting dragged behind me. On a morning like this morning, the last thing I needed was to have to wrestle with a 30 lb. puppy.

Normally she's a great running partner. I loop her leash around my waist and secure it with a carabiner, and she runs right next to me without pulling. When we're on the trails and have to maneuver through a tight space, she automatically falls behind me and allows me to lead. Not this morning.

Luckily, my legs woke up and switched into autopilot about 4 miles in to my 5 mile run, and I was able to finish comfortably. I hope today was just a fluke. We'll give it a shot again tomorrow morning, and hopefully I'm not so exhausted and Akitla will behave better.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

woot. woot.

I did it!

I had an amazing run today. Our Team in Training schedule calls for a 2 mile run every Sunday to recover from our Saturday morning long runs. I normally take it easy, but today I was determined to run my hardest and kick some butt. I decided to run two 1-mile intervals with a short rest in between. I ran my first mile in 8:13 and my second in 8:30!

I repeat- the day after a 9 mile long run, I ran 8 minute miles! That's a personal record for me, and I'm so proud of myself!! I normally stick to a 10 minute/mile pace-- high 10s for my solo long runs and low 10s for my mid-week runs. To date, I've always focused on increasing my distance, so I've never really pushed myself to run fast. In the future, I will definitely start to incorporate speed workouts into my weekly running regimen.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

9 mile group run

This morning Julie and I had our 9 mile run group run in Dewitt. A new Team in Training group started, so we were joined by new members who were beginning their training for summer half and full marathons. It seems like just yesterday that we were the newbies, running only 3 or 4 miles on our group "long runs." I'm so proud of how far we've come! I'm amazed that I often catch myself uttering the phrase, "only 4 miles" when my husband asks me how far I'll be running as I head out the door in the morning.

Our run this morning was relatively laid back and relaxing. We took it easy, and (mostly) stuck to our 1 mile run and 1/10 of a mile walk intervals. Julie's making incredible progress, so I think I'll have her weaned off her walk breaks in no time.

The picture to the left was taken at one of the Team in Training aid stations. I had just tried the chocolate PowerBar gel for the first time, which I don't recommend during a run. It was delicious, thick, and rich, like a decadent desert, and not at all refreshing. I think I'll stick with their energy blasts or Gatorade from now on.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

two halves do not make a full

Last month I created a poll asking if I should switch to the full Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon. I had been feeling unsatisfied and like I wasn't pushing myself as hard as I could. Since it was going to be my first race, I wanted it to do my absolute best.

As you've probably guessed, I decided to stick with the half marathon. Although I would have loved to switch, training to run 26.2 miles would just be too time consuming. As it is, I run 5 days and swim 2 days per week. Somewhere in there, I need time to work and study. :)

In lieu of switching to the full marathon, I've decided to run two halves in the spring and train for a full fall marathon. On April 10th, I'll be running the Martian Half Marathon in Dearborn, MI. This will be my first half marathon, so I'll run it solo and the quickest I can. Then, in May when I run the Cincinnati Flying Pig Half Marathon, I can relax, keep pace with the group, and fully enjoy the experience. When I have a bit more time in the summer, I'll train for the Chicago Marathon.

It sounds like a good plan to me.

sun and dry pavement!!!!!

Today was the first day in weeks that I was able to run on dry pavement! And the sun was shining!! It was amazing!

Since our snowstorm last week, Akitla and I have been suffering through deep snow and ice on the sidewalks. Unfortunately, when we get a lot of deep snow-cover, Lake Lansing trails are converted into cross-country ski trails and are closed to pedestrians and dogs. I love running on the snowy trails, but snowy sidewalks can be very treacherous.

Last week I fell for the first time on pavement. I was 1.98 miles into my 2 mile run and rounding the corner to turn onto my street. I hit a patch of ice, and lost control, skidding across the pavement on my palms and knees. I had just taken off my mittens, so I was skidding on bare palms. Ouch! I was lucky I didn't seriously injure myself and I was able to walk away with skinned hands and knees and a hole in my favorite running tights.

Since then I've been extra careful. I've ignored my Garmin and focused on safety rather than speed. Today, with our newly dry roads, all of that went out the window. I shaved a minute off off yesterday's pace and finished at just over 9 minutes per mile.

Lately I've been discouraged with my 10 minute per mile pace. Today confirmed my hopes that I'll slowly get faster as the conditions outside improve. And since I've never really worked on improving my speed, only my distance and endurance, knocking a minute off my pace is kind of exciting!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

three posts in one day?

Julie and I ran 9 miles with our team on Saturday! I was really nervous about the run, since I had barely run at all the week prior and was still struggling with back pain. I surprised myself, and it was a breeze! I'm so proud of us! We're getting so close to 13.1!

Sunday was an easy 2 miler, so Akitla and I ran the trails at Lake Lansing park. Although I usually swim after my Sunday runs, I was feeling too sore and tired. My back didn't hurt at all when I was running, but it was extra sore afterward. To make up for it, I snuck in some swimming on Monday afternoon.

I really struggle with my controlling my breathing when I swim (freestyle). Exhaling underwater is a mess, and I struggle with getting enough air when I lift my head to inhale. Not to mention all of the water I've inhaled.... I'm used to being able to inhale and exhale when I feel like it!

I've also been struggling with my endurance, which I'm sure is a result of my breathing difficulties. Right now, I have to catch my breath at each wall of the pool. If I don't rest, I inevitably inhale a lungful of water. It's ridiculous that I can run 9 miles without getting winded, but I can't swim 50 yards.

Luckily, it gets a little easier everyday.