Friday, August 19, 2011

The Hangover

Some wraps-ups about the race and the rest of my time in Vegas..

First off, a quick word about my shorts.  I wore Lululemon reflective speed shorts.  They are pretty unassuming (in fact, when I first saw them online I thought they just had some cute pinstripe detail):

But man alive do they light up in the night:

A small group of us planned to wear the shorts since we all had them.  We all agreed that we got more comments/compliments on them than any other piece of running apparel we'd worn in races before.  See, sometimes running clothes have safety functions as well as being cute.

I didn't gamble a cent or drink a drop of alcohol while in Vegas, but I had an awesome time.  I hadn't been in Vegas since I was in my early 20's doing what early 20 year olds do while in Vegas.  I had a fairly different experience this time around.

Sunday night I went to see Celine Dion's show at Caesars Palace.  I had been wanting to see her show for literally over a decade.  She closed her original show a few years ago which made me sad but she recently opened a new one.  While I love Celine Dion I wouldn't call myself a HUGE fan or anything like that.  I had seen her in concert before in Hawaii back in 1999 and I debated a bit about whether I needed to see her again.  But I figured the opportunities to see her were limited and there wasn't anything else I preferred to see over her that night.  

I am so happy I went. It was an amazing show.  A lot of people give me flack for liking Celine Dion but the woman has an amazing voice.  She's moved me to tears both times I've seen her perform.  In fact, this time around she didn't even have to be singing to make me emotional.

Side fact:  I start just about every run listening to a slightly esoteric Celine song.  I don't consider this my "Power Song" per se, but it is on the play list of songs I listen to when I want to get psyched up pre-race.  I've found high energy music isn't what I want to listen to before a race effort.  I like to listen to words.  

The lyrics from 2:30-2:46 never fail to give me goosebumps.

I was operating off of a 4 hour nap early Sunday afternoon at her show.  That's 4 hours of sleep in over 33 hours after running 6.5 hours through the night.  But I was riveted.  Sunday was a very good day.

Monday, I met up with a friend who recently moved to Vegas from the Bay Area.  We had decided to go hiking out at Red Rock Canyon.  When we were making plans I neglected to realize that it would be 90+ degrees out there.  But it wasn't as horrible as I thought it would be since it was a dry heat.  You barely even feel like you're breaking a sweat since it dries so quickly.  It felt sort of strange to be drinking SO much water which seemingly never came back out my body, though.

After hiking, we had lunch at Serendipity 3 which is probably more famous for its NYC location.

My old NYC favorite, Peanut Butter Frozen Hot Chocolate!!
And I had the most amazing grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup.  I almost DIED when I saw they put Goldfish crackers in the soup.  I *heart* Goldfish crackers!!!

SOOO yummy!
I had stayed in the Hard Rock Hotel the first two nights since it was the race headquarters.  I really didn't care for the vibe there.  I'm not old, but I guess I have an old soul because all the skanky drunk young people there were really annoying.  In fact, I felt more at home with all the older people at Caesar's Palace.  Ha ha.  Luckily, I had decided to move to a different hotel the third and last night (mainly because it was cheaper to actually move to the strip).

I booked the cheapest hotel on the strip I could find.  It ended up being at the Excalibur.  After taxes and resort fees, I ended up paying $52 for my room (list price was $35 online).  When I checked in, the guy at the desk told me he had upgraded me.  I went up to my room and was greeted by the largest hotel room I've had.  It was a suite with two bathrooms, two flat screen televisions, a living room and dining room.  The bathroom in the bedroom looked like this:

Yeah, I think I've stayed in hotel rooms smaller than this bathroom.

Sadly, I didn't have much time in this room.  I checked in around 6 pm and had a Cirque du Soleil show to see at 9:30 that night.  I had booked a ticket to see "Mystere."  It was actually my third choice show ("O" had been my original choice but they had an off schedule the weekend I was there, "Ka" had been next but it sold out while I was deciding).  I don't know if it was the late start time and the lack of sleep catching up with me, but I was underwhelmed.  I saw "La Nouba" in Orlando a few years back and it was just too similar to that.

The strip on my walk Monday night.

I liked staying at the Excalibur even if not for the ultra cheap super duper room.

When I got home, Boyfriend had this for me:

"Congrats Ultra 'RoadBunner'"
An ice cream cake!!   Yummers.  We're still working our way through it.  Over halfway to go!

A short word on my leg:  When I started running during the race, I assumed I felt no pain because of the Tylenol I had taken.  But really, Tylenol can only do so much, you know?  I had no issues the entire race.  I was a little afraid after the race it would flare up horribly, but the 3 days post-race I was actually in less pain than I had been the three days going into the race.  I didn't take any pain killers once the race was over, either.  Strange, right?  Right now I feel like my leg is sliding back a little, but I am still in less pain than I was before the race started.  I truly believe the root of my problem is a pinched nerve somewhere and I'm hoping all that running jarred it loose a little.  I was seriously planning on giving up on the Half Moon Bay full but since this went so well I'm rethinking that.  I guess we'll see how I feel as I resume running.

An outtake from our photo shoot.  Guess he didn't think he was properly groomed for his public.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

E.T. Full Moon 51K

The Mario Recap, Ultra #1:

I am an ultra marathoner.

Bought these cute alien antennae at the expo for $3.

The Full Recap, Ultra #1:

First off, I made a critical error in my trip planning.  I signed up to take the 7 am flight out of San Francisco to Las Vegas.  I recall doing this because it was a cheaper flight.  However, this meant I had to wake up at 5 am (about 3.5 hours earlier than my usual wake-up).  I arrived in Vegas shortly past 8 am feeling groggy and in a daze.  I was luckily able to check into my hotel early. 

Vegas hotels are huge and I schlepped all the way over to my room and swiped the key.  The door wouldn't open.  Boo.  I went back to the desk about a mile away and told them what happened.  The guy rekeyed my key and back I went to the room. Swipe the card.  Red blinky light.  $*%&!  Alllllllll the way back to the desk.  The next lady helping me was about to just rekey my card again, but luckily a higher-up was watching and realized this was my second time back.  She upgraded me to a better room and assured me this key would work.

Success!  I have no idea what my original room was going to look like, but this one was pretty sweet.  It was BIG and had a fluffy bed and huge shower.

Big cushy bed with a fluffy comforter and tons of floofy pillows!!

You could fit about 6 RoadBunners or 36 Marios in that shower.
I didn't really have a plan for the day. I had some breakfast and was debating whether I'd go shopping for a bit or take a nap.  I eventually ended deciding to try to to take a nap.  I managed to sleep a little less than 2.5 hours.  I had originally planned for my Saturday nap to be banking sleep for Saturday night.  But instead my little nap was really making up for the lost sleep from Friday night.  Ah, well.  Lesson learned.

After I woke up, I decided to just lounge in my comfy bed watching cable TV all day and killed time until the 4 pm packet pick-up.  It was so relaxing in the room I had a hard time envisioning myself running for hours on end later that night.

Very low-key event.
On the way back up to my room from packet pickup, I got a late lunch/early dinner pizza.  I figured I'd eat a big meal then and perhaps have a quick snack around 7 pm before getting on the buses.  I attempted to fall asleep again but didn't get any more sleep. It was slowly starting to dawn on me that I was going to be attempting to run 31.7 miles soon.  My leg pain had gotten slightly better as I had taken three days off from running, but it still hurt even when walking.  What in the world was I thinking?

I headed down a little before 8 pm to meet up with friends before getting on the buses that would drive us 2.5 hours into the middle of nowhere. I probably fell asleep for only 20 minutes on the way to the race which was a little disappointing for me.

Black Mailbox, ironically white.
We were ejected by the infamous "black mailbox" which marks a dirt access road which leads to Area 51.  I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by the weather.  I dare say it was slightly cool.  Score.  Throughout the race there was often a refreshing breeze which kept my temperature worries off the radar.

We were all given glow necklaces to wear.  Poor photo, but the scene at the start.

I have previously aired my distaste for marathons which have concurrent half marathons or relays.  I think it cheapens the marathon distance and is hard for morale.  This race had a 10K, half, full, and 51K. However, the full and 51k'ers started at the black mailbox and all the other distances were shuttled further down the road to start their races.  Therefore, you had the feeling at the start that you were truly all in it together and weren't running with other people who were doing shorter distances (I did pass some half walkers, but never caught sight of the majority of people doing the other distances).  And for the record, I have no problem sharing the road with people doing other distances if they aren't moving at my same pace.   I just hate running alongside people who are doing a shorter distance than me.  Does that make sense?  In case you were wondering, I wasn't bothered by the marathoners.  Ha ha.

We started running and miracle of miracles I felt NO PAIN from my left leg.  I haven't run without pain in that leg for weeks.  I chocked it up to the extra strength Tylenol I had taken a half an hour before the race started (I never train on pain killers, but always take them before races).

Before the race, I created a distance-only data field on Garfield:

I figured that with all the issues I had going on, the last thing I needed to see was my pace.  All I needed to know where was I was distance-wise.  With very few exceptions, I kept to this screen the entire race.

I started off running very easy to see how my leg would hold up.  After weeks of pain it felt so awesome to be running pain-free.  In retrospect, I sort of feel like a lot of the happiness I felt during this race was the gratitude I felt for this gift of pain free running.

At this point, let's look at the elevation profile:

As I mentioned before the race, the first 13 miles are all uphill.  No rolling hills.  Just UP.  It starts off at a pretty gradual grade, and in the dark you almost feel like it is flat.  But eventually, make no mistake, it is going up.  Too rub salt in the wound, as you climb the elevation obviously increases which makes gathering oxygen even harder.

When I was training for Bear Lake, I did some reading on altitude training.  I read somewhere that no matter what shape you are in, the way altitude affects you is just hard-wired into your physiology.  I learned at Bear Lake that altitude hits me hard.  For my perceived effort, I would have told you I was moving along at a 10:00 pace but in reality I was coming in at 11:20+. Oh, well.  That is part of this game.  I was feeling pretty good and I remembered that at Bear Lake, around mile 8 I started to feel like utter crap.  I crossed my fingers and my toes that wasn't going to happen (it didn't).

I envisioned in my head that I would eventually end up alone out there.  But for the majority of the distance I was always in at least sight distance, if not sharing running space, with other runners.  There were quite a few I leap-frogged with for most of the race.

Rare, but surprisingly existent spectators!
The girls above were howling like coyotes which I thought was funny.  It was amazing for how far you could hear people cheering out there.

There were a few malfunctions early on:  I put a small piece of medical tape on my arch where my ankle brace rubs.  The last run I did another area seemed to be bothering me so I put a piece of tape there, too, before the race.  Very early on this tape was pinching the skin on my foot and I had to stop and take off the shoe, brace, and sock in order to remove the offending piece of tape.  I generally don't 100% subscribe to the "nothing new on race day" rule, but I suppose it applied here.  My glow stick necklace also fell off twice and I ended up running holding it in my hand for many miles before I chucked it when the glow started to fade.

The aid stations were about 4 miles apart from each other.  We were instructed to carry our own water bottles.  At Bear Lake I realized that the dry air at altitude increases my fluid intake.  I was therefore a little paranoid about the water situation and filled up my bottle just about every aid station.  Because of this, my right arm got pretty achy from holding a full 22 oz bottle.  I started trying to switch hands but am not used to holding anything in my left arm.  On the bus ride back I even thought I might get a cramp in my right arm, but amazingly I had no specific muscle arm soreness after the race.

With the increased water intake and slower pace came increased pit stops.  I typically stop zero times to pee during a marathon.  I stopped 5 or 6 times during this race.  Gah.  But I was expecting that, having learned my lesson the hard way at Bear Lake last year.

Even though I knew that the "hill" was 13 miles long, I kept looking longingly at the red lights up ahead that were on the backs of other runners hoping they would stop being above my line of sight.  I mean, having never experienced a 13 mile uphill grade it seemed sort of illogical that it could keep going up forever like that!  The 2.5 mile Hurricane Point at Big Sur will never scare me again after this doozy.

At one point I was running more or less by myself and I went ahead and turned my headlamp off.  The full moon was out in full force and it was actually pretty bright out there.

I had to tinker in iPhoto to get the photo to look like this, but my shadow by moonlight looked just like this.

It was amazing to be out there running in the moonlight.  There was a quote I love from a Sporthill ad of all places that said, "Running takes you places you might not otherwise go."  The quote really spoke to me when I went to Kenya to run a marathon in 2006.  But I was ruminating on all the other less exotic places running has taken me in my life.  If I wasn't a runner I would never have come out to the desert in the middle of nowhere in Nevada.  And I sure as heck wouldn't be out here in the dark soaking up the scenery.

Speaking of the scenery, there were lots of little bushes and mountains in the distance off to the side.  When I was at Bear Lake some runners were talking about this race and were saying that it got sort of mind numbing not having anything to look at.  I disagree.  The atmosphere was enough to make up for lack of changing scenery.  It was hard to make out too much in the dark and I almost felt like it wasn't real.  I had the feeling that I was on a movie set and at any minute someone would flick on the lights and ruin the illusion.

Hard to capture in the darkness, but the full moon and a mountain in the distance.

The last two miles or so of the hill were tough.  I was taking short walk breaks whenever I ate a gel or hit an aid station (I ate my typical 4 marathon gels but also grazed on pretzels and animal crackers they had out).  So I wasn't walking much at all.  But the last two miles of the hill I took short walk breaks here or there to regroup.  I had broken up the race into the major chunks of 13 miles, 20 miles (you pass the finish and start an out and back), 23 miles (the marathon turnaround), 25.x miles (the ultra turnaround), then the finish line. I was so looking forward to getting to the top of that hill.

The running got noticeably easier on the downhill side of the hill and I kept telling myself that with every step I was losing elevation and gaining oxygen, too.  One of the criticisms I've read is that the 10K and half marathon finishers leaving the race site detract from the experience because that puts cars on the road coming towards you.  Overall, I didn't mind too much. It only really happened for the miles somewhere between 13 and 20 and it didn't bug me too much.  I did put my headlamp back on, though, in order to have better visibility.

I passed by the finish line at mile 20 and took another dose of extra strength Tylenol.  I usually take just one dose for a marathon, but figured 4 hours into it I'd dose up again.  At the 20 mile aid station I also downed a salt capsule which I've never done before ever.  Not sure if it was a great idea, but with all the water I was drinking, I figured it wasn't a bad idea.

Then we were spit into the out and back section of the course.  About a mile into this section runners started coming back at me.  It was nice to cheer for them and many of them had nice words to say back, too.  The marathon turnaround had music playing and it became the next magnet to pull me.

I think somewhere after the marathon turnaround the sun started to rise.  And then something totally magical happened.  Off to my left, the full moon was still high in the dark sky.  Off to my right, the sunlight was peeping over the mountain tops.  I felt like I was in a hug between the characters of the "Day and Night" Pixar short.

It was utterly beautiful, humbling, and almost indescribable.  I've seen sunrises in my life but something about this was different.  Perhaps it was the ability to see both horizons perfectly.  Perhaps it was being right smack in the middle of the two horizons   Perhaps it was all that plus I was out there, alone for a stretch, doing what I love.  I honestly rank this moment as one of the top moments in my running life.

I took a video which doesn't even begin to capture what it felt like out there.  The lights ahead at 4 seconds in the marks the ultra turnaround point I was heading towards:

That light at the turnaround seemed SO close and yet it never appeared to get any closer.  But eventually I got to the ultra turnaround.  A very nice volunteer took down my number and I ate a banana and some pretzels.  Then I got to work heading home to the finish.

As the sun came up, the scenery started to open up a bit, too.  It wasn't so obvious in the dark, but we were running on a very straight strip of road.  It made it feel like you weren't making any progress.  In fact, I disagree with the runners who said the dark was mind numbing.  Looking down the straight strip of road was far, far worse.

I was happy my leg held up. All those strange pains I've been having didn't crop up at all.  Not once the entire time!  Towards the end I had the usual groans and aches but I was happy to take that. 

I wasn't waiting for it, but I happened to look down when Garfield read exactly, "26.2."  Out of curiosity, I switched over to the time screen.  I hit the marathon point in 5:25 which was about what I thought I might do out there.

So that is what I've been looking at the last 5+ hours.
I have to say that I am really proud with the way I held up.  I did take scattered walking breaks during the last 10 miles, but they were pretty short and quick.  I have to admit that continuing running was really all mental.  Sometimes you hit points in runs where you physically just can't run.  I was at the point where walking was exponentially more appealing, but running was still an option and it just took some mental toughness to keep running.

That cluster of buildings up ahead is the finish.  So close and yet so freakin' far.
When I got to mile 30 I told myself that I was going to run the entire last 1.7 miles to the finish.  One of my favorite Central Park loops was 1.7 miles and I imagined having to run just one of those.  The plan got slightly derailed as I stopped to take photos of this:

And this:

I actually lost a bit of time here trying to get a self-portrait with the sign.
I had to pick bushes and signs on the road to keep myself running.  "Just run to that bush..."  then "Just keep running to that post..."  Looking at the finish area not seeming to get any closer wasn't helping.  The whole race I had been thinking of getting to 31 miles and I sort of neglected the additional 0.7 miles tacked onto that.  My legs had no gear except "run slow" but I was running!  The last two miles or so the actual sun started rising and I had to tip my head down so the visor of my hat would shield my eyes. I had debated carrying sunglasses with me, but am glad I left them behind.

I kicked it up just a bit the very final stretch and finally turned in to the Little A'le'inn and crossed the finish in 6:33.  Whew.

Finish area 
The unisex small shirt is like a dress on me.
I am really happy with the way I ran.  Yes, I was slow.  Yes, I had to walk some.  But I felt like I was in control of the walking and I definitely ran the majority of the way.  I felt strong the entire way and I'm really pleased about that.  The course is not easy.  Altitude and a long incline grind you down early on.  And I think since you can't visually see the hill so well, it is hard to understand why things are so difficult.  The last few miles I was sort of thinking of how it was crazy to run this far.  26.2 is good enough for me!  I declared it a one and done.  But not one day after the race I was contemplating doing this race again.  

Oh, and the medal glows in the dark!

It was awesome to see my running friends, KL, JB & CC.  They all ran really strong races out there.  'Til the next reunion race, ladies!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Mario

I haven't been as consistent with it as I should, but Mario is doing great with his enrichment toy.  A few times he's gotten his craisin bit out of every well with no additional encouragement from me (previously if he lost interest I'd tap the toy and call him back).  He often gets "stuck" once he's pushed the disc all the way away from him (much harder for a bunny to pull it back towards himself), but I've been impressed when he figures it out.  This is still the easiest level, but I'm thinking with a higher value treat I could probably graduate him to level 2 soon.

Paws work well for digging out the treat!

The nose knows.

Pre-loaded "Monday Mario" for your continuity loving pleasure.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Week 10; ET Phone Home

Sunday:  10 miles @ 9:36 pace; I stretched and stretched and stretched my hamstrings Saturday night (I've decided all my issues are currently arising from tight hammies) and it all really helped to loosen everything up.  I started off pretty slowly since I wasn't sure how everything was going to behave.  My quad did the usual decline in discomfort through the run.  My hip and butt behaved the whole run.  My calf did a strange thing:  twice early on it clicked rather forcefully three times (it sort of scared me since it was almost a pop) but I didn't have to stop and continually stretch it like Friday.  The calf is still pretty sore to the touch from all the tightness on Friday but I'm feeling like it won't give me major ongoing issues.  I picked up the pace at the end and found a couple of MP miles.

Tuesday:  10 miles @ 9:52 pace;  I felt pretty crummy the first 5 miles.  My leg was hurting and I just didn't have any pep.  I almost scrapped the distance but stuck with it.  I was rewarded with a strong 3.5 mile finish as my leg loosened up.  Such a bipolar run.

Wednesday:  4 miles @ 10:04 pace;  I decided to do a short shake-out run to optimize some recovery time before the race Saturday night.  I had originally wanted to knock out another 10 miler but figured at this point it would probably hurt more than help.  I've learned it takes 4-5 miles for my leg to settle down so I was hurting the entire 4 miles.  I also felt horribly sluggy.  Bleh. This was the first run in a month where my average pace was in the 10:00's (and that was a 20 miler). I suppose I could have fought to bring it down, but with all the pain in my leg decided to take whatever naturally came.

And there it is. My next run is the 51K on Saturday night.  I find it sort of amusing I'm off to do an ultra since I feel as if I'm pretty under prepared for even a marathon at this point.  With my skipped 20 miler due to my leg I haven't run 20 miles in a month.

Going 31+ is going to be interesting for the following reasons:

  1. It is at altitude.  This will slow me down.  When I ran Bear Lake I felt as if I could have run a 4:40 marathon easy that weekend. I ended up finishing in 5:20+.  So I'm figuring the altitude alone will add about 40 minutes to my marathon time.
  2. The first 13.1 miles are all uphill.   Coupled with the altitude I'm sure this will be fun.
  3. The race starts at 11:59 pm.  This is past my bedtime.  I've done night runs during relays before but those maxed out at about 5-6 miles.  31+ in the middle of the night?  Umm...
  4. It is in Nevada. In August.  The race is located a few hours north of Vegas in Rachel, Nevada.  It is cooler out in Rachel but it is still way warmer than San Francisco.  I'm anticipating the starting temp to be about 70 degrees.  I seriously don't rememer the last time I ran in 70 degree weather.
  5. I'm injured.  No way around this one.  Something funky is up with my leg and I haven't been able to figure it out.  I've obviously been able to run on it, but it doesn't make for a zen experience.  I was going to say I have never run a marathon injured, but I remembered Honolulu in 2009.  I tweaked my hamstring after CIM and ran Honolulu a week later.  It hurt the entire race but I managed to make it through.  I figure if I can survive Honolulu injured, in the heat, a week after a PR effort at CIM I can make it through ET.  Right?
So with all the above in mind, I have no doubt I will be out there way past sunrise.  Hopefully they still have breakfast waiting for me at the Little A'le'Inn when I am done.  I am going into this with the attitude of taking my time and enjoying the experience.  A few of my running friends will be out there and I'm super excited to get to see them.  I am pretty much the antithesis of a Vegas person, but I am so looking forward to my weekend there, too.  Hopefully I'll have good news of a finish to report when I get back.

The super awesome Audrey tweeted this today.  So sweet!
More cowbell, ET!  

Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday Mario

Mario would like to share his newest class, "How to decorate with slightly-worn willow wreath branches."  Our last installment showed how you can wear willow wreaths as fashion pieces or perhaps hula hoops:

This week we take it to the next level with interior design.

Example 1:
Encircle your water giving apparatus.

Example 2:
Hang it up like a Christmas decoration.

Afterwards, be sure to take a much deserved rest.  Concentrate on looking cute.  It helps to accessorize with other random willow objects.

I have no clue how Mario managed to decorate as he did.  Especially that hanging one!

We are still in a holding pattern with his eye.  It always looks wet because the fur is always sort of laying down flat in that area.  But in the morning when I put in his first drop or the ointment I touch it and it feels dry.  So I am hoping it it just all the stuff I am putting in his eye which is giving him that appearance. He is still in awesome spirits and is eating and binkying like a champ.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Week 9; It All Falls Apart

Sunday:  6 mile;  Kept my friend, Karin, company during the last six miles of the San Francisco Marathon. We ended up walking more than running which was a blessing in disguise for my leg.

Tuesday:  8 miles @ 9:37 pace; My heart rate was up.  So sad that taking even a few days off does this to me.  My leg loosened up as the run went on which made me feel good.

Wednesday:  10 miles @ 9:45 pace;  My quad issue starts off at a level 5-6 pain for the first few minutes, for the majority of the run is a level 1-2, and by the last few miles is non-existent.

Friday:  16 miles @ 9:57 pace; I really, really struggled during this run.  My hip was achy for most of the run and my upper calf got really tight on me.  I had to stop and stretch it out multiple times.  I felt like I was at mile 24 of a marathon for the last 4 miles of this run.  So part of this was physical, and part of it was just a bad run day.  Not a great confidence booster for a 51K in a week.

So a quick follow-up about the chiropractor:  Verdict is that I have a slightly curvy spine which is causing imbalances in my legs.  She said it is very minor and we're being nit-picky, and that if I wasn't a runner stressing my body so much it would give me no issues.  Side note:  I have a compression fracture in one of my vertebra (I'm assuming from my horse fall; Not really sure what I paid $300 in x-rays for at UCSF after the fall if they missed that -- I still haven't forwarded my UCSF x-rays to the chiro to see if she can see the fracture in those as well).  She said I'm young with good discs so it won't give me any issues.

I'm not sure yet if it was the right choice, but I clunked down a hefty sum of $ for 30 visits with the chiropractor.  She's working on fixing my spine and also doing ART treatments on my wonky leg.  I'm going three times a week for a month and it tapers down from there.  Gah.

So far, all that has really happened is that I'm getting additional pains in new areas (see Friday's run).  I just finished up my first week of treatment, though, so it is too soon to tell if anything good long-term will come of this.  I like that she is trying to get to the root of the problem versus just managing the current fires, but at the same time I need an extinguisher stat over here!

My terrible 16 miler has me thinking of dropping down to the half distance at Half Moon Bay.  I'm sadly going to be pushing my body for another week but would love to give it some time off after the 51K.  I've got my eyes on Two Cities.  I keep hoping I'll wake up one day miraculously healed...

RG, I am at week 9 of my schedule which was set up to be trained for Half Moon Bay next month.  I may reset the week count once I know what I'm doing and tweak the schedule a bit.

Friday, August 5, 2011

My Marathon Training Plan

Sun                 Tues                 Wed                  Fri

Week 1:      7 mi          6 mi, incl 4 @ T       6 mi            12 mi
Week 2:      7 mi          6 mi, incl 2x1600     7 mi            14 mi
Week 3:      7 mi          7 mi, incl 5 @ T       6 mi            16 mi
Week 4:      7 mi          8 mi, incl 6 @ T       6 mi            18 mi
Week 5:      7 mi          7 mi, incl 3x1600     7 mi            20 mi
Week 6:      7 mi          8 mi                         8 mi            8 mi
Week 7:      9 mi          9 mi, incl 7 @T         9 mi            16 mi
Week 8:      10 mi        10 mi, incl 8 @ T      8 mi            20 mi
Week 9:      8 mi          10 mi, incl 4x1600    11 mi          16 mi
Week 10:    12 mi        10 mi, incl 7 @ T      10 mi          20 mi
Week 11:    11 mi        7 mi, incl 5 @ T         6 mi            8 mi
Week 12:    6 mi          3 mi                  6 mi, incl 4 @ T   3 mi
Week 13:    Race Day!
                   26.2 mi

The above is the training plan I have been using ever since the San Francisco Marathon 2009.  It was generated by Runner's World Smart Coach (though they have since changed their plans because I can't get it to generate this exact plan again with the same inputs).  

Quick explanations:  T =  tempo runs.  The 1600m repeat intervals always have a 800m recovery jog in between each pick-up.  I generally do the speed work smack dab in the middle of the mileage so that I have equal warm-up and cool-down periods.  The specified pace for every other run is always "easy."  I never do any other aerobic activity on the other days of the week (I'm trying to change this but I hate to exercise).

I've PR'd 4 times on this plan every time I've used it.  While not for everyone, I think that my body does best on less running days and higher mileage per day.  This plan peaks out at 52 miles/week which is about what I used to peak at on a 5 day a week plan.  I love how it gets you running 10-12 miles and it doesn't feel like a "longer" run at all.  If you want to run 26.2 fast, I don't think 10-12 miles should feel very long to you.  This plan will get you running 10 miles and feeling like it is any other run day.  The two week taper vs. the more popular three week taper seems to work better for me, too.  I have a very low natural athletic ability (I recently took 6 days off and could tell my cardio had suffered for it) and I think it is better to keep my mileage up as long as possible.

I've been trying to grow within this plan the last two cycles, especially.  I've been adding in hill work, fartleks, and marathon-pace miles here and there.  I've been debating about folding in a fifth day of running.  But with my leg tweaks I want to concentrate on just the extra little speed play here and there for now.  My goal maybe the next training cycle or one after is to up the overall mileage a tiny bit.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Monday Mario

Last year I read about the awesome willow wreaths from Binky Bunny that the Big City Buns had loved.  They were already sold out when the blog post was up and I put my email in to be notified when they were back in stock.  A couple of weeks ago I got an email saying they were back in stock.  I swooped up two of them for Mario.

Day 1, He dug right in with no hesitation!

Day 2, He made quick work of the leaves and just had stems.

By about Day 4 he was down to just a couple circle twigs.  I got out of the shower one night and Boyfriend said, "Come quick! You have to see what Mario is doing."

Poor guy had gotten what was left of the wreath around his neck and couldn't get it off.

Boyfriend said he had been like that for about 10 minutes.

If I could just flip this...

I had time to snap a couple of photos before Mario successfully flipped it off his head.

It is a little hard to judge with all the stuff I'm putting in his eye, but I'd say it is probably about the same. Of course, you put in drops and ointment and the fur around his eye is always looking a little peculiar.  I've got another week or two of the current regimen before I analyze the next move.