Wednesday, May 27, 2009

There Was A Knock At The Door

... and Mario raced off to see who it was...

It was his good friend, Cadbury!

He even arrived all wrapped up with a pretty Christmas bow.  Mario (like his owner) is a sucker for Christmas so he invited Cadbury inside.  Cadbury told Mario all about his terrible woe of being left behind while his biped went on vacation.  The Houseful of Rabbits decided to spring Cadbury from the vet's and he has been visiting all of his blogging bunny buddy friends (say that three times fast!).

Mario first shared his best veggies with Cadbury (couldn't compare to the feast with The Spots, though):

After they were both stuffed, Mario offered to take Cadbury to see the Golden Gate Bridge or Alcatraz but Cadbury begged Mario to show him the secret of his awe inspiring talent.  So Mario obliged and spent the day tutoring Cadbury in
Sitting on Things 101
 Cadbury later told me that as the lesson continued he was more interested in How To Get To The Hay In The Box 101.

Complete with diploma in paw, Cadbury is off to continue his vacation adventure.  We think Cadbury will have a hard time picking his next destination since The Spots pointed him in so many great directions.  But we'll put the bow back on him and send him off to visit DKM who said she'd save some yummy kale for him!

"Once a Runner" Review

I had often heard of this book and wanted to give it a go. But I had also heard it went for $100 on ebay. Luckily it was reprinted this year and my BFF the public library had a copy. Win! You can read a nice synopsis (better than one I could come up with) here. The book is about a fictional college track runner. I have absolutely zero experience in the world of track and field. I am also about as far removed from competitive running as it gets. So a lot of the times for given distances and the types of workouts were pretty foreign or meaningless to me. I could, however, relate to the fundamental desires and challenges of being a runner.

I've been doing some lighter types of reading lately (still waiting on Book 3). This book is written in a style reminiscent of books I was forced to read in high school. I do most of my reading right before falling asleep and this posed a little bit of a problem for my pre-sleep foggy brain. However, it was very well written and I definitely recommend it to everyone.

Some of my favorite excerpts:

"And he tired quickly of the standard party fare that goes: 'You run twenty miles? Without stopping? I couldn't run twenty feet, har har har har ...' He would have to bite his tongue to keep from saying that it had been real humorous the first thousand times he had heard it. He had forgotten what it was like, this thing with the stupid jokes. And too there were the questions: What did he eat? Did he believe in isometrics? Isotonics? Ice and heat? How about aerobics, est, ESP, STP? What did he have to say about yoga, yogurt, Yogi Berra? What was his pulse rate, his blood pressure, his time for the hundred-yard dash? What was the secret, they wanted to know; in a thousand different ways they wanted to know The Secret. And not one of them was prepared, truly prepared, to believe that it had not so much to do with chemicals and zippy mental tricks as with that most unprofound and sometimes heartrending process of removing, molecule by molecule, the very tough rubber that comprised the bottoms of his training shoes. The Trial of Miles; Miles of Trials. How could they be expected to understand that?"

"There were two large boxes full of track shoes of every description; there were Adidas Gazelles in varying stages of decomposition, Puma interval trainers, several pairs of Tiger's Cortez, one pair of indoor pin spikes, an old pair of long spikes still dark with petroleum jelly and the mud of Chicago, road racing flats, nylon mesh Tigers for the steeplechase (still brand-new), and beach hack-arounds with no real mileage left in them. He thought: I have measured out my life in worn-out rubber."

I loved how Diana from The Qi Papers coined the pose from the previous Monday Mario, "Bun loaf hatching enlightenment." Ha ha! Here is a shot of Mario in the pose from the front. Please excuse all the straggly hairs which tell me it is time for a grooming session.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Monday Mario

I alternate between calling this look "Chicken Pose," 
"Bunny Loaf," & sometimes "Buddha Bunny."

Friday, May 22, 2009

Week 3!

Sunday: 7 miles @ 10:46 pace (goal 11:16); included Bay To Breakers spectating.

Tuesday: 7 miles including 5 miles @ 9:44 pace (goal for tempo portion 9:50); I really love the intervals and tempo runs on Tuesdays! I usually don't force myself to run at any speed except "feels comfortable," but when I do it is very enjoyable!

Wednesday: 6 miles @ 10:40 (goal 11:16)

Friday: 16 miles @ 10:58 (goal 11:16); took one 0.1 mi walk break while eating my first blok because I had some side-stitch issues, but after that was able to cut out all of the run-walk-eat-blok walk breaks I'd come to rely on for Big Sur training.

So overall I've been going a little bit faster than the prescribed paces per the plan. Thanks, everyone for all the great advice about my goal and easy paces. I am trying to run more slowly than usual for the sake of my foot right now. I do agree that running all the runs except for Tuesdays at 11:00+ isn't a hot idea. At this point though, I'd rather get to SFM slow than have my foot combust and I don't get to run at all. Once my foot is feeling better I'm going to analyze my old running logs from 2006 when I came close to a sub-2 hour half and see what sorts of paces I was doing back then. I want my easy pace to be in about that range so that I can start dedicating my training to the half after SFM.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

World's Most Boring B2B Spectator Report

I wasn't much interested this year in spectating at Bay To Breakers. I had gone last year to watch the mid-to-back of the pack shenanigans. However, when I heard that Deena Kastor was going to be running the race I wanted to watch the elite race up front. I had 7 miles on the schedule so planned to hit the north-west end of Golden Gate Park about halfway through my run. I managed to catch a quick video of the leaders:

Yay! I started running again and noticed a tight (very fast moving) group of men. They were all roped together. They were the lead team for the centipede division! I missed catching a photo of them, but shortly after the second place team came by and I got a shot of them.

I saw (but was too lazy to stop and get my camera out) the first "real" costume -- a guy in a head-to-toe hot pink gorilla suit. It was pretty hot even at 8:30 am so he must have been baking in the thing!

And with that, I headed home to finish up my 7 miler. No nude people. No alcohol. TWO pictures for my Bay To Breakers spectating. I wouldn't even have bothered sharing this but thought the video of Deena and her awesome running form was worth something.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Week 2 Training! Too Slow?

A running update is long overdue. Week 2 of SFM training running included:

Sunday: 7 mi; So I lied in my previous post. I am capable of running 11+ min miles for an extended period of time on fresh legs. I concentrated really hard on running very easy and pulled off this run at 11:13 min/mile pace (was supposed to run 11:16's). I was pretty pleased with myself in a backwards sort of way. It helps I'm paranoid about my foot because it keeps me from picking up the pace when I'm feeling good.

Tuesday: 6 mi with 2x 1600@9:06 pace; my 0.5 mi splits for the two pick-ups were 8:49, 9:12 & 8:53, 8:50. Really enjoyed this run.

Wednesday: 6 mi; 10:56 pace (goal was 11:16)

Friday: 14 mi; 11:03 pace (goal again was 11:16) 6 fun miles with ShoeRunning -- yay!! I felt pretty good this long run. I'm working to cut out my run-walk-eat-blok walking breaks since I normally prefer to not walk during runs. ShoeRunning met me for the middle 6 miles which is exactly the distraction I needed. I haven't been able to run with her since before Big Sur so we had a lot of catching up to do. She left me around mile 11 and the last 3 were definitely tougher without her company.

So overall Week 2 was great. My foot is behaving. The trend seems to be no pain on Tuesday runs, some discomfort on Wednesday and Friday runs, very slight discomfort on Sunday runs. However so far each week the amount of discomfort seems to decrease. Today's run (a Tuesday) had zero pain. I think the consecutive running on Tue/Wed causes Wed runs to have some discomfort. Then the longer Friday distance causes it to flare up a little bit. Overall it is continuing to get better so I'm sticking with the plan for now.

I am a little confused about this 11:16 goal pace for runs. I know it is probably a good goal for long runs (a 4:45 marathon is roughly a 10:52 pace; common wisdom is not to do long runs at goal marathon pace) but I feel it is a little meek for some of the other runs during the week. I'm gladly sticking to the prescribed pace now until this foot thing is 100%. However, I feel I should probably do at least one of the non-tempo/interval runs a week at something close to marathon pace or possibly a little faster.

If my body holds up the plan is to transition from SFM training to half marathon PR training after SFM. My goal is a sub 2-hour half marathon (roughly a 9:00 pace) about 2 months after SFM. I'm feeling like all of this 11:00+ pace running is not conducive towards a 13.1 mile 9:00 pace run. The training plan I am following has some interval/tempo work every Tuesday to keep mixing things up, but I'm still a little hesitant to train my body to run at 11:00+ for all other runs. An "easy" pace for me typically runs at about 10:30-10:40 nowadays. Thoughts?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Monday Mario

The Princess & the Pea

Someone tried to feed Mario a fresh pea.  I didn't think he'd enjoy one.  Mario sniffed it, kicked it into his willow tent, and decided to take a nap.  I felt rather smug in my "I know my own bunny" routine.  However, careful inspection of the pen today indicates he decided to eat his veggies after all.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Foot & Squeezies

It seemed to confuse a lot of people so I'd just like to clear it all up by saying that the previous post was a picture of the top of Mario's head (profile shot).  The brown fur on the far lower left is the patch above his eye.  That was actually an older photo of Mario but he is definitely going through a shed again.  I held him hostage in the bathroom (tiled floor vs. carpeting elsewhere in the apt) and gave him a good brushing today.

I am optimistic about my foot.  During my Sunday run the discomfort started further into the run than it had on my Friday long run.  The level of discomfort was also greatly diminished vs. Friday.  During today's run I had ZERO pain!  The big test will be tomorrow.  It will be the first time I'm running consecutive days since the foot flared up.  I am far from home free with it, but I'm glad it has been improving each day and not worsening.

I bit the bullet and got a pair of recovery socks and compression sleeves.  I had to get both because I wanted the socks for the foot issue & the sleeves to sleep in (possibly run in) and wear under my pants to work.  I hate having socks on when I sleep but don't think I'll mind the sleeves.  Everyone has been raving about compression leg thingies lately I had to jump on the train, too.

I also realize I need to start incorporating more stretching into my regimen.  Sometimes I do it, most of the time I don't.  That is definitely something I need to address.  I also want to start cross-training more.  The whole swimming and biking thing didn't go so well so this time I'm thinking yoga or pilates.  I used to do pilates and enjoyed it & have heard a lot of great things about yoga.  I am quite possibly the most inflexible person so that will be an interesting adventure.  Does anyone know any good pilates or yoga DVD's (there is no way I'm going to a class!).

Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday Mario

Bad Hair Day
 (photo tightly cropped to protect identity of unfortunate rabbit)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Week 1, Done!

The first week of SFM training is in the books.

Tuesday: 5.7 miles with Audrey

Wednesday: The plan I'm using has one "tempo" run a week. I don't think it's the technical term of "tempo" but to me it basically reads "don't just putz along." These are supposed to be done on Tuesdays but this week I switched it to Wednesday so I'd be able to hold a conversation with Audrey on the Tuesday run. Week 1 called for 6 miles with 4 miles at 9:44 pace. I did pretty good at holding the pace for the 4 miles. My Garmin spits out data every 0.5mi. My fastest splits were 9:30 and my slowest were right at 9:44. So overall I'd say mission accomplished. I have not run with a goal pace in mind since August when I crunched my shin. It was not easy but very satisfying. I have a long way to go if I want to run a sub 2 hour half later this year (basically about a 9:00 pace). Got to start somewhere.

Friday: 12 miles. I want to mention here that the plan I'm using suggests I run every run except the tempo run at something around a 11:16 to 11:02 pace. I don't pretend to be a fast runner, but I very rarely actually RUN at this slow a pace. I know, looking at my marathon times this seems almost implausible. If I'm not taking walk breaks my actual running pace rarely falls slower than 11:00. This has always been a crux of my training. I'll run my long runs around a 10:40 pace but only once have I ever pulled off a marathon at a pace equal to or faster than that.

I've always thought that meant I was either running my long runs too fast or not shooting high enough for my marathon pace. The truth is probably a mix of both of those things. Anyhow, I decided to attempt to do this yesterday. I was trying to run really slowly and my Garmin still said I was doing 10:30 minute miles. My overall pace ended up being right on target since I resorted to doing my run-walk-eat-blok plan. I usually prefer to not take walk breaks, though, so am uncertain whether I should really try to hit 11:00+ pace when running or just "take it easy" and come what may.

I am currently dealing with a disgruntled left foot. I was having minor problems with it towards the end of Big Sur training. I remember there were a few runs it hurt for a few minutes here and there, but nothing that raised a red flag. During the actual Big Sur race it hurt enough that at one point I actually wondered whether those niggling pains had turned into a fracture during the race. It didn't give me any problems post-race or my first post-race run.

My Tuesday and Wednesday runs, though, were different stories. Sigh. I got very aggressive with icing and compression after my 12 miler and things are much better. It did flare up during the 12 miles but the overall status of my foot has not worsened (and I dare say it has improved) since. I am going to keep a close eye on it the next few runs. I've had strange pains that have plagued me for a couple of runs then totally disappeared and I'm hoping this is one of them.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

What's Next?

High on post-marathon euphoria I took a look at my race schedule.  No goal races until October!  No marathon until January 2010?!

Not acceptable.

So I signed up to run the San Francisco Marathon on July 26th.  Julianne is leading the 4:45 pace group.  Given the slightly hilly terrain 4:45 is a good goal for me.  I'll be honest and say that SFM never much interested me.  I regularly run the first 19 miles of the course and there is no scenic value in the latter miles.  In fact, a great deal of the course is run in Golden Gate Park.  I love me my Golden Gate Park but run there all the time.  Like, five days a week all the time.  Not exactly race-day inspiration.

However, the timing of SFM is just right.  I am planning to train hard to try to set a PR at CIM in December.  Running SFM will keep me running regularly in the ensuing months.  Also, travel costs are minimal since I live in the city.  Any other marathon would involve a long drive/plane ride and hotel costs.  Julianne leading the 4:45 was the clincher for me.  It's a goal which means I can't just putter along, but hopefully not so fast that I ruin myself for CIM.

I have already found a marathon training plan to use.  I decided to use a Runner's World Smart Coach plan.  It is a new type of schedule for me.  Lots of middle-distance runs.  I usually use a plan which has at least one palsy 4 miler at some point in the week.  None with this plan.  Lots of slow middle distances (e.g. 9 & 10 milers).  Hopefully this doesn't get too boring.  There is one tempo run a week to push the pace a bit.

SFM is only 12 weeks away so I am officially marathon training again.

I had a lot of fun going for a run today with Audrey.  She's doing Goofy & probably CIM, too, so we talked a lot of training strategy.  She also got to meet Mario.  He was a little groggy since we interrupted his mid-day slumber, but his bummy antics won her over.  Audrey, if you like lazy animals, Mario is your man!

Please congratulate my friend, ShoeRunning, who rocked her first marathon this weekend!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Monday Mario

It may not be apparent from the picture, but Mario's neck was craned in impossible angles to allow him to pick some hay out of the litter box (all four of his paws were on the ground).  It would have been much easier for him to hop in and have a bite.  Little bum.

An update to the digging saga:  Mario seems to have calmed down. He has always liked to dig a little in the mornings and has gone back to digging fruitlessly in the corner of his ex-pen.  Win for me.  With the cover on the box he sometimes gets dig-happy in the litter box, but much less consistently than before.  When he first got his covered litter box he loved to dig in the hay (which caused big messes both in his cage and on himself). Nowadays when he does dig with the cover on, he is scratching at the actual inside of the cover, high up in the corner.  I still sometimes have to take the cover away from him, but much less than before.  Just the fact that the new litter box has higher sides than the old one helps to keep the hay inside better.