Friday, August 30, 2013

The Mile

Walk a mile in my shoes? HA! Run a 10k in my shoes, then we'll talk.
If you only walked a mile in my shoes, you wouldn't get it.

I sincerely believe that people who have never really run consistently before write it off way too quickly. They decide that running is a cheap form of exercise and a good way to lose weight, so they go out for a bit, find it uncomfortable, walk (which is fine if you've never run before), then stop completely. Feeling defeated, they come up with the following conclusions about why they don't like running:

"My --fill-in-the-blank-- hurt when I try to run."
"I just get so short of breath when I try to run."
"Running just doesn't agree with me."

These things are all true. About the first mile. No one likes the first mile.

Runners, am I right about this?  I've heard that track workouts for my triathlon club have historically lower attendance when the workout calls for a "timed mile" - and these are people who do Ironman, for the love of God.

The trick to being in love with running, or any endurance sport, is to get past the first mile. If you were like, "Suzanne, go run a mile." I would dread it too. I hate running one mile only. That first mile of any workout is brutal. Believe it or not, my legs don't feel good during the first mile and my breathing is really uncomfortable. In fact, I now dread the first three miles. (This is why I don't do a lot of 5k runs). It takes a while before my legs loosen up, my lungs get enough air, and joints start to perpetuate a good rhythm. It takes a good 30 minutes to start to feel good.

So, remember this. I don't know anyone who loves running one mile. You have to give it time, walk before you can run, push through, because miles 5 and 6 are bomb diggity.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Holy Crapathon, Batman!

60 days to Chicago? Are you freakin' kidding me?!

A good little monkey, I took it easy for a couple of weeks after Barb's Race. For the most part. There was one 15 mile run. I'll explain later.

My boyfriend and I took a little vacation down to Santa Barbara where we ate, drank, and slept in. The only exercise I did in Santa Barbara was cruiser down the coast for a few miles. Now I am looking at my training log for the past two weeks, with a bunch of random/short workouts and days off, and it's freaking me out.

On June 19th, I received an email, reminding me that the month of June is the official start to training season for the Chicago Marathon. (Many training plans, like Hal Higdon, are 18 weeks long.) Let's see, Hal Higdon's training plan for the week of June 19th includes: 26 miles or running, with a long run of 10 miles. My half Ironman-distance training, on the other hand, included: about 18 miles of running, 70 miles of biking, and a couple of miles in the pool.

So how does that add up? Well...

Fast forward to the week after Barb's Race (marathon training week 7), when Hal Higdon suggested a 16 mile run. I mean, I took a couple of days off, and it was only a week after Barb's Race. I can run a half marathon in my sleep. I am a superhero, people! How hard can 16 miles be?

POW! BANG! WoaH! Yikes!

I only made it to 15 miles. Sure, it might have been fatigue from the race, and not enough recovery time, but that mere 5k extra was just too much. It was a flashback to marathon training last winter. WOAh!

I knew when I signed up, that the Chicago Marathon would be an experiment. I am determined to keep up with some biking and swimming, so that will cut down on some marathon miles, but I am also hoping it might improve how I feel overall. Last winter, I felt like going back to just running was too difficult on my legs, and it probably took me until March to feel normal again.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Pure Evil. Waahahahaha!

Barb's Race - year two. My plan worked. Boo ya!
Evil Plan:
To finish Barb's Race in under 6 hours.

To finish Barb's race in well under 6 hours - not 5:59:59, but to make significant changes to my time from last year.

Evil plan tactic #1: Swim Faster.
I've always just tried to stay out of the way of real swimmers during races. You know - stay in the back, wait until they go, then start. Their pace is their pace, and mine is mine. I'm not a real swimmer anyway. Last year, at the turn around, the water was so shallow that someone literally swam over me, and my entire chest pressed to the ground.

No more! After months of keeping up with my lane peers in the pool, and fighting with flailing arms (while being smacked in the head a few times) during the Splash and Dash events, I decided to no longer make adjustments for others, and push through them as needed. I used their bubbles to my advantage and I probably accidentally swat people in the head or swam over them and did not apologize. There is a big difference between good sportsmanlike conduct, and being too nice.

I don't know what happened during that swim, but no one was getting in my way dammit. I was sick and tired of not being a swimmer. So, I pushed through some women. When there were two swimming side by side, I would just cut right down the middle of them. It is a competition, after all. I tried to keep my hands to myself, but wasted no time trying to go around other swimmers.

Evil plan tactic #2: Plot With My Evil Bike.
I surprised myself on the bike last year. It was probably because I had never timed myself on a long bike ride. So just over 3 hours sounded pretty darn good to me.

I biked a lot this year, close to 350 more miles than this time last year. I introduced the new bike, with new gears, and new pedals, saddle, shoes, etc. into training in May. As you may have heard, my new bike is haunted. It is constantly testing me. I now have a love/hate relationship with my bike. She is pure evil, but so am I. I'm thinking about naming her Miss Bigglesworth.

During the race, the front brake decided to rub against the tire. The. Entire. Ride. I physically had to keep adjusting it, and as soon as the road got bumpy again, it would move over again. Thhhhhhhh. So incredibly annoying. Somehow my bike time was slightly better from last year, but I was definitely more panicked, and frustrated. I was so happy to put on my running shoes.

Evil plan tactic #3: Run Faster.
The run was the worst part of my race last year. Last year, I just had nothing left - every step was like putting my foot into a foot of snow. Plod. Plod. It was uncomfortable, and annoying. My brain said, "GO!" and my body said, "No, no, no..."

This year I went to running "Rehab" (Run Even Harder After Bike). I did a lot more bike-to-run bricks, but it wasn't enough to just put in a couple of miles. No, no. I would run hard after biking. I know I can continue to move my legs after biking, but more importantly - the legs need to move pretty fast after biking. Otherwise, if becomes plodding. So, I worked on speed, and some more on speed. Also, anything that would make a run more difficult, I tried it: running in 100 degree heat on purpose, running up hills, running when I was tired, running slightly hung over (after July 4).

It worked! Wahahaha! I got used to the uncomfortable feeling of running, and knew what it would feel like. I kept pushing through the race, and didn't allow myself to go much slower than 9 minute miles. That was reasonable, and I knew I could continue at that pace without running completely out of steam.

Evil plan tactic #4: Transition Faster.
Last year, I spent over 7 minutes in T1, and over 4 minutes in T2. It doesn't take that freakin' long to take off a wet suit, folks.

I looked at a lot of times this year, and noticed that transitions do make a huge difference. Sure, I want to take some time to reorient myself before jumping into a new part of the race, but it can be done with a bit more urgency.

4 minutes was the maximum amount of time I allowed myself in transition - a reasonable amount of time. I ran through each transition. I used the wet suit shucker guy in T1 (you lay on the ground, and they shuck your wet suit off for you), then raised my voice at a girl on the other side of my bike rack because her helmet was stuck on my derailleur. Finally, I ran up the hill as fast as I could before clicking in, and riding off. In T2, I was literally eating, and putting on my Garmin as I was running out of transition. I knew I could make up for it later.

Transition #2 set up. Since I had to leave my stuff overnight, I took a picture to remember what it looked like. I still ran into the wrong row the day of the race, but I still maintained an < 4 minute transition.

My Evil Plan paid off. Every part of the 70.3 was faster than last year - over 31 minutes faster total. That's a lot.

Swim 2012 - 46:07 / 2013 - 39:55
Transition 1 2012 - 7:02 / 2013 - 3:47
Bike 2012 - 3:09:47 / 2013- 3:04:47
Transition 2 2012 - 4:45 / 2013 - 3:57
Run 2012 - 2:13:22 / 2013 - 1:57:07

Total 2012 - 6:21:15 / 2013 - 5:49:31

What will be my next evil plan?