So be sure when you step. You step with care and great tact and remember that Life's a Great Balancing Act.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Marathons and Minutes

Even though I do not enjoy running marathons, I do enjoy spectating them.  I guess it's similar  to the experience of watching the Ironman:  I cannot help but think to myself, Thank goodness that is not me.  Even though the rest of my Sunday schedule was rather bland (laundry, house cleaning, grocery shopping), at least it was not running 26.2 miles.  It made the day seem grand.

I live right in the middle of the Rock and Roll AZ courses - the half marathon skirts the right side of my neighborhood while the marathon brushes the north side of my neighborhood, loops around, and then goes down the left side.

At first, the kids were not excited about the environment - a lot of music, a lot of yelling and a lot of people.  But they have been doing this since they were babies so they quickly adjusted.

I volunteered at us a water station and the kids were willing to help.  A few people took water from Brenna, but in general, I think they were a little short and overlooked.

After observing hundreds of runners, Brenna requested to change her shoes.  She wanted to run!  I normally do not encourage bandit-ing (running without a bib), but I think pre-elementary age kids are an adorable exception.

Luckily for me, there are enough 5Ks, 10Ks, 5 milers, 10 milers, half marathons, trail races, duathlons and triathlons for me to do in the absence of the marathon.  I haven't picked out anything yet, but I also haven't done a lick of speedwork since the last time I made that claim back in September.

I returned to my haphazardous training method where I have no idea what the workout is until I am at least three intervals deep.  I don't look at my pace at all and focus on my perceived exertion instead:

On the way out (a very slight downhill, hardly noticeable)
- 4 minutes "fast" (5:52 pace)
- 4 x 1 minute "faster" (5:33 avg interval pace)

On the way back (a very slight uphill, hard not to notice)
-  4 minutes "fast" (6:02 pace)
- 4 x 1 minute "faster" (5:40 avg interval pace)

Only 16 minutes / 2.83 miles of actual "speed", but it's a starting point.  Now I just need to select an endpoint.

During the workout, I was slightly frustrated with how high my heart rate got during the one minute intervals.  This, of course, meant I required longer recovery.  But, I was also slightly satisfied when I reviewed the numbers after my cool down.  Anything faster than 5:50 is very fast for me - a minute, even though such a short increment of time, can feel very long if you run fast enough.

But, here is the can endure anything for one minute.  No matter what, that minute is going to end in less than 60 seconds.  The only time you can say that with certainty during the marathon is after you run 26.1 miles.  And that is a lot of miles.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Coldwater Rumble Race Report (19K again)

It’s crazy how quickly a year passes – this race unexpectedly snuck up on me.  After winning last year and receiving a trophy so weird and ugly that it made it the best trophy ever, I was hoping to win again.  But, after a series of head colds and busy work weekends, I didn't get to the trails very often and my long runs topped out at 10.

On Monday, when I realized that I only had 5 days to train, I rushed to South Mountain to tackle as many large hills as I could find in 80 minutes.  This was going to be my speed work, hill work and endurance work all in one fabulous extravaganza!

And perhaps it was fabulous until around Mile 3 when my foot came in contact with a rock boulder.  I lunged forward, saving my face, but my poor toe, crammed under the rock, did not feel so good.  
But it’s just a toe so no big deal.....or so I thought.  After another mile, it became apparent that I needed to turn around.  By the time I returned to my car, it felt like my foot no longer fit my shoe and everything below my ankle throbbed.

I spent Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday slathering my toe in arnica gel, experimenting with taping and creating splints out of Popsicle sticks. By Saturday, it did not feel perfect but it felt okay.

Having spent the last four days in a forced taper, I was excited to run.  And when the race started – BAM, off I went!   And as you all know, when I start a race report with “Bam!” it doesn’t end well.  But, after like 10 minutes, I did turn on my brain and slowed down.  I spent the next 40 minutes hanging out in a nice, comfortable pace. 

But, female breath behind me prevented me from being too comfortable.  I hate the pressure of being chased.

 I reminisced back to my Cactus Cha Cha win and decided to execute a similar strategy.  I asked her to pass me and found myself in my favorite position.  But after a few miles, the gap between us started to get bigger, as well as the pain in my toe.  I also developed a blister on the other my foot.  Each step hurt.  At some point, that trophy just did not seem to be so cool.  I attempted to pull out some candy from my pocket (because maybe fuel would help?) but it was smashed and stuck to the pocket lining.  I stopped to peel my questionably gross, lint-covered gummy goo from my pocket.  The five seconds gave me enough to gather myself and I resumed my race at a respectable pace, with red flavored candy stuck to my teeth.

At the finish line, I took off my shoe for instant relief, and hobbled over to the winner.  Just like every other trail runner I meet, she was awesome.  I love trail running, even with a stubbed toe and blister.

I am very confused about what to do for the next few months.  Triathlons?  Half marathons?  More trails?  I want to feel excited about something but nothing is screaming me.  On that note, I was worried my toe would be screaming in the aftermath of the race, but through reasons that I cannot explain, my toe was 100% the next day.  At least its ready for anything.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Kids Train, Round 1

Last time we trained, I kept things pretty simple. Run.

But then on race day, when the gun went off, the kids did the opposite of running.  They sat down.

So, this time we started off by learning the basic mechanics of racing:
- There is a start line.
- You wait on the start line, ready to run.
- You do NOT run until you hear the words, "go."
- There is a finish line.
- You run until you get to the finish line.

We started off with a very short course:

And then gradually moved the start line back:

And, similar to last year, Brenna dominated each distance.

Our next lesson was proper pacing.
We started off together so I could lead by example. They eagerly waited while sucking on lollipops.
About .4 left of a mile away from home, they removed themselves from the stroller and started to run down the street, waving their sticky, gross lollipops.   

Brenna's beautiful stride gave her an edge - but she found herself on a small segment of sidewalk:

Although I commend her for following instructions to always use a sidewalk, it was not a good racing strategy as it quickly left her stranded.   In an unexpected turn of events, Hayden took the lead!!!!!!!

Thrilled with being in front, he sprinted as fast as his little, uncoordinated legs would move:

And for the first time he crossed the finish line first.  His lollipop was now not only sweet with sugar, but sweet with victory.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Looking the Part

I've told myself over and over again that I would stay out of the little girl's section at Target.  But the fact of the matter is that their running shorts/skirts/shirts are identical to those in the Women's section except for 1) they come in more colors and 2) they are half the price.

Perhaps that justifies it but I have no excuse when I find myself selecting two of the same item - in opposite sizes.

 I know, I know, I should not be dressing like my three year, I only buy us stuff when they are on clearance.   These blue spandex pants, which really no 31-yr old should be caught dead in, were only $3.

But, a three year old, with legs like these, and a race in 18 days, should absolutely wear these pants.  I am just thankful that she is too young to be too embarrassed by me.  I know the day will come.

To clarify, I do not discriminate against genders:

Sometimes I cannot believe the stuff I admit on the internet.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Xterra White Tanks Race Report

The year hasn't started off with anything more notable than a horrible head cold, however the first blog post of the year will be that of the best kind – a race report.

One of my favorite things about my little side job is that I get to run all the Xterra races.  But, since I do have to work, I am limited to only the short courses (8K).  I am not complaining – I love a short course.  By the time you get tired, you are all almost done.  For example, yesterday I got tired at Mile 3.  But by then, I had less than two miles left. 

The more experienced runners opt for the longer courses so the short courses are often pretty easy to win.   But, there are always people I do not know on the start line, and some of them look fast.  And, some of them are fast!   You never know who is going to show up on race day.  Even when I have a good lead, I am sure that there is someone behind me who is running a faster race and will smoke me at the finish.  And one day – it’s going to happen. 

That day was not yesterday though as I earned myself another Xterra beer mug by 3 minutes, 40 seconds.  It wasn't a top performance, though.  I only averaged 6:50 (which is fast for a trail run but this trail was not difficult).  But 6:50 is faster than I have been running, thanks to my cold.  Lately it feels like my legs are weighted down with bricks and that I spend more time blowing misguided snot-rockets on myself than I do moving.

I've been relatively good at resting and I think I am on the end of the recovery.  But I don’t feel like I am ready to add anything to my agenda – at least not for myself.

Every time I arrive home with a new medal, Brenna likes to wear it.  They are big and shiny so of course Hayden demands to wear one as well. They like medals.

They also like television.  
If they had their way, they would watch My Little Pony for hours on end.  As a parent, it is hard to say no because TV is such an easy activity!  But it’s lazy.

The other day I took the kids to the park.  We looked at ducks, ate a picnic lunch and played on the playground. The problem with the playground is the kids just want to sit in swings.  They refuse to pump and demand to be pushed.  This is not exercise.

So, I suggested a little walk.  The kids looked at me like I was crazy. 
After I stopped pushing them, they dangled for a bit.  They got bored.  They agreed to walk.

Hayden immediately dashed down the sidewalk.

Brenna wasn't going to give me satisfaction so easily.  She took the smallest steps that she could possibly step.

 Eventually we made it a half mile or so and back to the car. The kids were exhausted.  It made me realize that they are ready for  need another race.   

January 27th.  100 Meters.  
At the very least, exercise!