Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Operation Jack

It has been a crazy several days and I'm just plain worn out -- exhausted.  But here I sit at work attempting to get a few things done (as well as get things like blog posts done!!).  More on Christmas stuff later -- but I did want to check in with how the Operation Jack race went yesterday.

The short answer is that it went very well and I'm quite pleased with the results.  Ending time is 1.56.56 which is a 1 minute 38 second PR.

The best part though was that this was a really fun race (confirming yet again, how much I LOVE the small race).  Operation Jack was started by Sam Felsenfeld as a project to run at least a marathon a week in 2010 to raise funds and awareness of autism of which one of his son's suffers.  He needed one final marathon at the end of 2010 to meet his goal and created this one which was supposed to be a one time event.  But apparently the even was so popular, he put it on again and it also attracted satellite races in a few cities and Afghanistan.

Sam and his volunteer crew put on a wonderful race.  It was super well organized and everyone was so friendly and it was just a pleasure to be out there.  There was always a kind word at every water stop and even the runners were the nicest I've been around.  I passed a few people towards the end and each time I got a 'good job'!  I chatted with several people who were just lovely and one guy even waved as he headed back out for the marathon as I was headed in to finish the half.  It was so nice.

Back to the beginning.  Right before we started Sam and his wife reminded us all why we were there and we were told to walk/jog/run our asses off for the cause.   A few more thoughts and we were off.  The race was from the north part of Manhattan Beach to Marina Del Rey and then back. The marathoners then got to repeat the route.  Other than being incredibly beautiful, it was fairly uneventful.  Just nice and pleasant.    I took his picture on Saturday when I did a run at the same beach:

Yeah, it was that beautiful.  (as a side note, if I didn't hate LA so much and if I could only stay at the beach, I'd live in Manhattan Beach or one of the nearby cities -- every time I'm there I want to move -- unfortunately I'd have to leave it to go to a job and then LA becomes awful again).

Anyway, so the run just sort of happened -- my goal was to stay at around a 9 min/mile pace for the first three miles and then bring it down from there and basically that is what I did (other than mile 12 -- not sure what happened there but I do remember at one point looking down at my watch  and asking myself if I thought the run was over because clearly I wan't at the finish and I was able to pick up my pace.  So I think I was just so relaxed I lost track of fact that I should be running fast for me.)  But overall, these splits cause me joy:


And honestly, I think I was being a bit cautious throughout the end of the race. I remember thinking during mile 10 that I really should pick up the pace as I still could have carried on a conversation -- wouldn't have been easy but I probably wasn't working as hard as I could have -- but I was still scared from Disneyland and SJRNR where I felt so miserable during the last miles in those races so I just played it safe.

So all in all, a fantastic morning -- a great experience on all accounts from a terrific race to a performance I'm pleased with.  If I'm in LA next Christmas I'll do this one again -- and I'd highly recommend it to anyone nearby (Caroline - I'm talking to you ;) )

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A bunch of ramblings...

Can you count the miles you run in your sleep?  No?  Dang.

I pulled another DNS on the scheduled morning run today (alarm goes off, think I'm going to die, roll over and go back to sleep).  I remembered doing this fairly recently and it was about a month ago (the benefits of the weekly recaps). I'm seeing patterns in my insomnia and that is good -- it seems to be cycle driven (damn hormones) but thankfully with a pattern I can plan around it all when I'm in full force marathon training.  The sleeping thing (or lack of sleeping thing) is still what scares me most about the marathon training.

But I have to say over all I feel very good at the 37 miles per week range -- was hoping to have a 40m/p/w week by end of year and maybe I'll make it next week as it isn't looking so good this week.  But overall I'm pleased with myself for actually getting out there and running (and realizing the more I run, the more my body expects to run and the grumpier I am on days where I don't) and I'm also pleased that my body is doing okay.  With running on average 22 m/p/w for a year and a half, I just wasn't sure what this old body would be up for dealing with -- but I think it likes running more and can handle even more so I feel like I'm in a very good spot to start training.

The other few running things that are making me happy are:

1.  A lot of my morning runs are FINALLY at an under 9m/m pace.  Or if the entire run isn't, the later miles are.  Whew.  

2.  Many of my runs are naturally turning into progression runs.  I like that.  I'm running a lot of the same distance runs and naturally starting to start slow and build speed as the run goes on.  Of course I start most of them still asleep so that might have something to do with it  However, since I'm doing a lot of the runs in the dark, I'm just doing this by feel vs relying on my garmin.  Surely this is a good thing?

3.  Oh oh oh -- take a look at this:

Avg Pace

Notice mile 6 -- an under 8 mile!!!!!  Happy Dance as this was Sunday and mile 24 in three days.  Three months ago I could not have done this.  It felt so good too -- to just kind of blow off steam.

4.  Last Saturday -- mile 12 of 12 was also mile 1000 for the year.  I also managed NOT to get hit by a car during that mile though  it was close.  Can you even imagine how bad that would have sucked.

I'm a bit nervous about the race I decided to do on Monday -- I really want to just have it be a check of where I am so I don't have any big goals. But I do have a little mini goal -- finish with an official time of under 9m/m pace.  Apparently I like to run my half marathons longer than 13.1 miles (!!!) because the three I ran in the fall had a Garmin pace of less than 9m/m BUT the official pace was greater than 9m/m (and they were all well over 13.1 miles).  Anyhow so that is my only goal -- but, the race is gun time vs chip time so I'm not sure how that will all work out.  It is a super small race so I'll just get as close as I can to the front without being right up front and hope I'm not in anyone's way.  This is a flat race (maybe a 25ft climb right in the middle -- probably going over a freeway) so my strategy is to keep a 9m/m (or very low 9's) for first three miles and then just keep it under 9 after that -- gradually dropping pace.  As long as I don't go too far over 9 in the beginning, and assuming I can do this, it should get me my goal.  But I'm going to be tired after three nights not sleeping in my own bed (not that I actually sleep in my own bed half the time but still) and from all the Christmas festivities so we'll see how it all goes.

Enough fussing!

Happy Holidays!  

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Five -- Merry Holidays

1.  I used to be fantastically good about getting the family Christmas card and letter out.  Then in 2005 I sort of fell apart and stopped doing the pictures, letters, card, whatever.  Then in 2008 I had a good year and needed to get some family changes out to a lot of people so did a Christmas picture of the three of us and sent it off.  I just knew I was back in the game -- but alas, I wasn't.  2009 and 2010 and no card, no nothing from me.

And now I'm off most people's list which makes me so sad.  I get it, I haven't been a good card sender but for some people I really really really enjoyed getting their annual cards and letters.  It was a nice way to stay in touch with people I just don't see often (or at all).

So I'm on it -- not perfectly mind you.  But on it.  Since I was a bit late getting my act together (like yesterday), I decided to go with the New Year's theme and ordered these:

Aren't these two darling?  This was taken last summer at the Boy's graduation from Marines boot camp.  I'm sure she'll be upset that I used this picture since she doesn't have braces anymore but I just love this shot so she will just have to deal.  

The cards arrive sometime between the 20th and the 24th so I made the right choice.  I can leisurely send them out right after Christmas.  AND, I've got the letter written to go along with them.  I'll have to post that some other time.  

2.  I just realized by deciding for an LA Christmas (where family is), I've made this weekend my last opportunity to get EVERYTHING done.  That's a bit overwhelming since not much is done so everything is really everything.  

3.  We got the tree last weekend.  It is still naked and now we are leaving. I suppose we'll get the lights on and decorated just in time to leave.  Maybe it can be my New Years Tree. 

4.  Those lovelies above only want money for Christmas.  Now I get it -- teenager=money.  But really?  Christmas?  Usually I'm good at ignoring them and doing something else but they've given me NO ideas. Nothing.  Nada.  So it may be money.  Maybe I'll do the box wrapped in a box wrapped in a box thing so at least the opening will be amusing.  

5.  All week I carried around a package that needs to be mailed to my brother and never got it mailed.  Now it may be late.  SIGH.

Have I mentioned I have to do EVERYTHING christmas related this weekend?  Including mailing packages that I should have mailed this week.  

I need to get the to do list written.... nervously yours....

Thursday, December 15, 2011

All signed up

All signed up and ready to run on the day after Christmas.  I'm actually kind of excited -- no pressure.  Just a nice little half marathon to see how I'll do now that I've built up some mileage on these old legs.  I've done no speed work in the last 10 weeks nor will I taper -- so I'm just going to go have a good time and see what happens.

Whoo hoo.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Dec 26th race?

Jeeze, I've got so much to say but no time.  I'm almost at the end of my miles building phase and it has been going to well -- better than I hoped and I want to get some things down.  But work's been crazy (hate budgeting!) so I've not and I'm not going to now.

I'm thinking about running the Operation Jack half marathon.  I can't think of a downside:

  • we are going to be in LA anyway for Christmas
  • staying 15 mins from the start
  • I was planning on running on the Manhattan Beach strand on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day anyway (yeah this goes the other way but still).  
  • if I run the day after Christmas, I can take Christmas off
  • I LOVE running near the ocean.  
The only downside is that I usually get on the road early to make my way back and we are coming back on the 26th.  But what the heck -- race starts at 7.30.  I'm done by 9.30 -- even with minimal dilly dallying I get back to my sister in law's house, shower and am on the road by 11.30.  Heck, make my kids go with me (horrors) and we can leave right after -- who needs a shower to sit in the car for 6 hours.  The boy can drive.  

Oh oh oh -- good cause.  Small race.

I'm not seeing a downside.  

I think I'll do this.  Only 40 spots left according to the blog post -- so I guess I'll go sign up now!

(just had to think it through)

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Miscellaneous Ramblings

.....and a bit of a catch up.

Well well well -- I've now read quite a few RNRLV recaps and that is one race I'm not sorry I missed.  I had a bib and everything and was bummed that it wasn't going to work out for me but now I'm just thankful.  I miss that I didn't get to meet a bunch of fun nice people but I honestly would have absolutely fallen apart at the end. I guess you just handle it but not fun.

This morning's run was fantastic!  Cold (legit cold - 37F when I got home) but fantastic none the less.  I was FINALLY able to get sub 9min/miles in the dark.  Whoo hoo!  I was just not able to do it before now -- flat out couldn't bring my pace down no matter how much I tried.  I think I was adjusting to the miles build up because I've gone from 24 miles per week to 34 in 10 weeks which I think is very conservative, but still required adjustment.  Last week was my slowest week ever -- I just couldn't move on those early mornings.

Anyway, It was kind of fun running faster in the dark -- the sidewalks suddenly become like a technical trail with things to leap over and dodge -- I live in an older part of town and the sidewalks are a mess.  I run in the street where safe but there are parts that require sidewalks.  So I just focused like I do on the more technical trails I do and went for it.

I think it also helped I was freezing!  I spent 6 miles trying to warm up.

We'll see if I can do a repeat performance tomorrow morning.

The other thing I'm loving is this Yoga for Runners I'm doing through Sportskool on my Roku box.  Sportskool has a bunch of different yoga videos and many for crosstraining.  I found the one for runners and love love love it.  It really stretches every muscle used in running and I feel so much better when done.  They also have one that is ab specific that I want to try and one for golfers I'd like to check out.  I've been having a bit of lower back pain and the write up for the yoga for golfers says is works the lower back to improve swing.  I'm thinking anything that helps my lower back at this point is good.

Anyway -- a quickie recap of last week.

Monday (a week ago - 29th) -- Yoga day

Tuesday - 6.3 miles at 9.30 avg pace (the fastest pace of the week) maybe the fog slowed me down

Wednesday -- 6.3 miles at 9.58 avg pace (getting slower) a bit foggy but not as bad as Tuesday

Thursday -- yoga -- was supposed to be running day but it was so WINDY so I just went back to sleep.  I managed fog, wasn't going to manage wind apparently.  Tried to go out again in the afternoon but when I walked outside I was blown over by a gust and just bagged it.

Friday -- 6.3 miles at 10.04 avg pace (over 10?  really?) the weirdest thing -- I felt fine all week, slept better than I had in ages and yet my legs would not move.  Oh well.

Saturday -- 7 hilly miles at Rancho.  Well hilly isn't right.  More like one big hill up and one big hill down.  I got so chilled during the first mile that I was in tears at the potty stop my hands hurt so bad. I've got this stupid Raynaud's Phenomenon and it hurts beyond description when I let my hands get too cold.  My own fault -- I have big thick gloves but wore my thinner ones because I thought it was warmer than it was.  Lesson learned -- error on the side of warmer gloves given the chance.

Sunday -- 8 neighborhood miles at a 9.01 avg pace. Thank god for sunshine.

And that is a grand total of 34 miles!!  Most ever for me in a week.  Very exciting and my body and I are still friends.