Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fifteen Days

I just finished up a 15 day consecutive running streak.  It was daunting to look at this stretch on my training plan.  The first time I did this plan I modified the schedule to allow some rest days since I had previously not run more than 4 days in a week.  This time around I had eyed a couple of the workouts as potential rest days if things went badly, but I was committed to trying to stick to the plan if my body help up.  Until now I had never run more than 6 days in a row.

I ran a total of 133.5 miles over the 15 day period.  There were some days my legs were really tired. I learned to take those really slowly.  My cranky shin got pretty mad at me but I did all sorts of voodoo damage control on it that kept it from combusting.  I tried my best to run early every day so that I could try to maximize recovery time between runs.  I learned a lot about how my body recovers and what keeps me running healthy.  I am especially proud of my quality runs over this stretch of time.  I hit my paces on the hard runs which kept me from feeling like I was just running myself into the ground.  Over the period I ran over 16.5 miles total --sometimes 30 seconds at at a time, sometimes a mile at a time-- at a sub-8:00 pace which is pretty huge for me.

Amazingly, I didn't set a weekly mileage PR.  I logged 65.5 miles one week, but I checked and in June 2010 I ran 67 miles one week.  That week consisted of some pretty sluggy running when I did a double marathon stunt one weekend.  My 65.5 mile week had only a long run of 16.4 miles versus two 26.2 mile runs in the 67 mile week.  So I'm not sure you can really compare the two.  But as far as number crunching goes, it is what it is.

Talking to people who are much better at marathons than me, I've heard a general consensus that if you want to run faster you have to run more.  I definitely think there is a point of diminishing returns and I'm sure this point is very different for everyone.  There were days when I didn't question I was training harder, but had some internal debate about whether I was training smarter.  But I decided if I didn't push my limits a little I would never find out where that point was for myself.  There are probably better ways to increase your mileage (maybe a 10 day cycle or double days to allow for a more frequent rest day), but I find this an interesting experiment into how my body could take this sort of abuse.

At any rate, I am very proud of myself for sticking this out and turning my life around a bit to get it done.  I am looking forward to two delicious rest days this week.

8/15:  6 miles easy
8/16:  10 miles:  2 mi easy, 10K time trial, 2 mi easy
8/17:  8 mi easy
8/18:  7 mi easy
8/19:  10 mi easy
8/20:  10 mi easy with 30 sec at 5K pace every 3 min
8/21:  8 mi easy, 10 hill sprints
8/22:  7.1 miles:  2 mi easy, ladder intervals (1 min, 2 min, 3 min, 2 min, 1 min, 2, min 3 min at 3K-10K pace with equal duration active recovery), 2 mi easy
8/23:  8 mi easy
8/24:  16.4 miles:  6 mi easy, 5 mi:  90 sec @ 10K pace/90 sec easy , 2 mi easy, 3 mi hard
8/25:  6 mi easy
8/26:  9 miles:  2 mi easy, 4x1mile @ 10K pace with 3 min active recovery, 2 mi easy
8/27:  12 mi easy
8/28:  6 mi easy, 10 hill sprints
8/29:  10 miles, last 15 min moderate

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Mario

I've blogged in the past about the cost of hay for small animals.  I used to pay about $75 for 50 lbs of Timothy hay when I lived in NYC.  The delivery guy would carry it up the 5 flights of stairs to my apartment so I considered it money well spent.  When we came to CA I bought a plastic bin that fit 25 lbs of hay.  I paid about $46 for the 25 lbs.  When I started leasing Wings last year I learned that you can buy a bale (100 lbs) of hay for about $20.  Feeling taken much?

When I stopped leasing Wings I lost my source of cheap hay.  But when I started helping out with Rowdy I talked to the volunteer coordinator about it and she didn't see why I couldn't buy a bale of hay from the ranch.  So I did just that.  I paid $25 for a bale of hay, carted away less than 25% of it, and donated the rest to horses that may need it.  The volunteer coordinator felt bad that I had paid for the whole bale and barely used any.  So she said she'd be happy to just get me hay here and there for free.  The last year+ I have been doing this.  When I run low I'll ask her and she'll stuff some in a bag for me.

I was very appreciative of this but I always felt as if I were rationing Mario's hay since I never knew how much she was going to give me.  A couple of times I took away two flakes (about 20 lbs), a few times I got just a small plastic bags worth.  Sometimes the hay was damp and I had to air it out.  I also felt bad pestering the volunteer coordinator every couple of weeks even though I'm sure she didn't mind.

So I recently found a great source of hay and am really happy.  A feed store in Half Moon Bay sells loose hay in big bags for just $4.95.  You can't buy any unit smaller than a whole bale otherwise.  We were able to stuff two bags worth into my plastic bin.  The hay is loose and not tightly packed like it comes in bales but I'm estimating we were probably able to get about 30 lbs for $10.  For that price I'm more than willing to pay for hay again just to have peace of mind of the amount of supply we'll have.

They don't do Timothy this way but Mario has been happily munching on his grass hay for a few weeks now.

Lotso hay for SO cheap!

Our bounty -- we had to STUFF the hay in and the lid barely stayed on.
The nice thing about having to go to Half Moon Bay every couple of months is that there is an excuse to stop by Sam's Chowder House for some Manhattan clam chowder.

Hay bin and one bunny for scale

Friday, August 24, 2012

Track Appreciation

For a couple of years, I've had a running love affair with Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park.  The loop around the lake is almost 1 mile exactly which makes it awesome for adding extra loops onto my run route.  The route is about as flat as you'll find for a mile stretch in Golden Gate Park and since it is a walking path there are no traffic crossroads to navigate.  Because of that when I want to hit specific paces I'll usually just loop around Stow Lake to get it done.

The following photos were taken on a rainy run back in 2010 which I meant to blog about but never did.

Someone decorates this tree every Christmas season. Love!

Exhibit A: Path width 

Exhibit B:  Note path width here, and funky bird

I suffer from a serious case of Sidewalk Rage when I'm running anything other than an easy pace.  I'm the type of person you can cut in front of in line at the grocery store and I'll probably bite my tongue.  But if you step into my line when I'm out running a tempo run, watch the heck out.

Stow Lake tends to attract all types of folks which cause my Sidewalk Rage to surface.  Groups of school children, mothers pushing baby strollers *with* dogs on leashes sticking out a yard to the side, dogs not on leashes, people walking four abreast, oblivious children with oblivious parents, tourist bike riders...  My blood pressure is rising.

For the above reasons, I try to only run at Stow Lake early in the morning.  There tend to be mainly only senior citizens out for their morning walk at that time.  There are some who insist on walking 4 abreast on Exhibit A pathway, but generally at this time of day it is easy enough to get around them.  There are in fact, a few people I see every early morning run and I've gotten into the habit of saying good morning to them (I run many, many loops in the morning so I see them upwards of 8 times some days).   I also run against traffic on the actual road in areas with Exhibit B pathway.  It is too narrow to even attempt to get around people being stupid there.

Lately, I've gotten into wars with the wildlife at Stow Lake.  I love the baby ducks and geese.  But then they grow up.  And people insist on feeding them.  So they congregate in large packs *on* the pathway.  And the pigeons.  And the squirrels. Dear god, the squirrels!!

The people who mainly feed the animals are seniors and children.  And there are lots of seniors out in the morning.  The squirrels especially have gotten way out of control.  They descend from the trees in the early morning and panhandle on the pathway.  Squirrels will see me coming and will run up to me thinking I'm a friendly feeder.  At the very last moment, they have an "Oh, $%&# moment" when they realize I am not about to throw them some food and they scamper off to the side.  But being squirrels they are pretty squirrely and it is so hard to predict which direction they are going to choose to retreat.

The other morning I was running through the especially squirrel invested area of the path and there were 4 squirrels sitting on rocks by the path.  I felt like I was in a scene from "The Lion King" and the squirrels were the hyenas on the rocks ready to descend on me in droves.

I've actually gotten so close to a squirrel that I felt its tail wrap around my ankle.  Today I almost accidentally kicked a goose when it did not get out of my way as fast as the pigeons and ducks tend to retreat.  Note to self, geese are not afraid of you.

There is a little lady who I swear is pushing 90 who feeds the pigeons regularly.  She has a 25 lb bag of bird seed in one of those stereotypical little old lady carts.  I do give her huge credit because she must walk over 2 miles from her home, up around the lake, and back.  She walks around the lake and leaves huge mounds of seed in a few places.  The pigeons descend by the hundreds to eat this stuff up.  Imagine hundreds of pigeons on Exhibit A pathway.  Talk about a pace-killer.

Because of all these issues I started trying to do any workout requiring anything faster than half marathon pace at the Polo Field.  The Polo Field has either a 0.75 mi dirt track or a 0.5ish mi paved bike track.  I used to do speed work on the dirt track but the last year or so have moved it down to the paved track.  The only downside is that the bike track is banked on the curves which tends to cause me to have to pull back on the effort a little.

The other week Outside Lands descended on Golden Gate Park.  It is a three day outdoor concert which I've learned to loathe over the years.  They erect fences all over the park which cuts me off from favorite running routes.  One year they even fenced off my favorite water fountain.  Because it is such a large affair, the fences last over a week.  The Polo Field is one of the stages so that is way off limits for running.  I had a mile repeat workout to do the weekend of Outside Lands and had no idea where to go.

Boyfriend and I decided to head over to Kezar Stadium and use the track.  In all my years of being an actual runner I had never done a workout on an actual track.  It was amazing.  Flat and wide and everyone on it has a purpose.  No lollygagging or photo taking. Just people moving in one direction.  If someone happens to be in my lane I just move over to pass them.  I could really concentrate on my effort when I wasn't dodging obstacles.


Last week I did a long run which had a section of fartlek work.  I was supposed to run 1:00 at 10K pace, with 1:00 recovery for 5 miles.  It was going okay but as time went on the paths of Stow Lake were getting more crowded.  And then Cart Lady showed up and dumped her bird seed on the path.  I was pounding down at 10K pace when all of a sudden a wall of pigeons was upon me. I may have done some euphemistic cursing out loud (not at Cart Lady but at the situation) and then had to move that part of the run onto just the street portion of the lake.  I dislike running with traffic versus against it and going back and forth I had no choice.  Buzz kill.

This week I had a similar run to do and I decided to do the fartlek portion at Kezar.  It was a totally different world.  I could concentrate 100% on my running effort.  It was even better than the Polo Field since I didn't have banked curves to deal with. I'm a convert.  From now on I'm going to do all of my pick-up work up to a mile down at Kezar.  What took me so long to try a track out?

Today's fartlek progression long run of 16.5 miles:  6 mi warm up, 5 mi:  1:30 at 10K pace with 1:30 recovery (14 pick-ups total with a 7:23 avg pace at Kezar), 2 mi easy, 3 mi hard (8:01 pace, at Stow Lake wherein I almost took out a goose and a preteen with her camera), 0.5 mi cool.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday Mario

I love how Mario has little fur "creases" on his feet.  I imagine it being akin to little fat rolls on a pudgy puppy :)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Hello, Stranger

No one is complaining, but I thought I'd interrupt the parade of "Monday Marios" (yes, I realize I missed this week's) for a quick update.

Running:  Yes, I'm running!  I'm running a lot.  My next goal marathon is Two Cities in November.  I logged more miles in July than any other month of my entire running life.  233 miles to be exact.  August is already shaping up to rival July.  I'm using the same training plan I used for Modesto but this time I started from week 1 and followed the plan from the beginning.  For Modesto I jumped in at week 5ish.  I had to cut out a run or two a week at first in order to make allowances for that and the fact I had previously been used to running only 4 times a week.

I decided not to do a weekly training recap this time around.  I was hoping to write about specific runs every now and then but haven't been so great with that.  A brief summary thus far would be:  I'm running faster than I was at the end of my Modesto training cycle for specific-pace runs.  I'm also running slower than I was at the end of my Modesto training cycle when I'm not purposefully running a certain pace.  I'm trying hard not to overextend myself on easy days so I can continue to run high quality runs on days which call for that.  It is a fine line between doing that and not feeling like I'm just slowing down on easy days because I'm running myself into the ground.  We'll see how things hold up.

In order to support such a high level of running for myself, I've instituted a few changes to my life.  One I'll share for now is that I'm trying to refuel with carbs/protein after every run.  Lots of times I simply eat a meal when I get home.  But some days I'm headed straight to work after a run.  Boyfriend has really stepped up and makes me a smoothie a few times a week.  Do you know what it is like to come home from an early morning double-digit hard run and find one of these in the fridge?

Incidentally, everything is more fun when you're drinking from a straw.
Heaven.  The other weekend I got home from an early morning hard run.  Boyfriend was still sleeping when I got home and I didn't expect a smoothie that day.  Boyfriend must have heard me get home.  I didn't even ask and he got up from bed, made me a smoothie while I was stretching, and then got back into bed for a few more minutes.  And you wonder why I'm marrying him.

Yoga:  On that note, I have been really good the last few months at attending Bikram yoga three times a week.  I've decided three times a week is the sweet spot where I can see improvements in my practice.  I really believe it has helped to keep me relatively injury free the last year.  If it has been a few days since my last class I can feel my ganky left hip flexors tightening up and one yoga class puts it back into place.  Lots of people do 30 or 60 day challenges so this won't seem so colossal, but I will be celebrating my 120th Bikram yoga class tomorrow.  It is hard for me to get there most days, but on the note of making some changes, I've made it a priority to keep me running healthy.

Knitting:  I never shared some projects I had hinted at in a previous post. No great photos of those at the ready, but I do have pictures of some recent hats I made for a friend's baby.  I love making baby hats because they are a fairly quick project and there are lots of ways to make them cute and fun.

After spending what seemed like years of my life creating a baby blanket on SIZE 4 needles (never, ever again) these hats were fun, sanity restoring projects.

Horse:  I'm still visiting Rowdy once a week.  I'll brush him out and we go for a long walk around the ranch.  I get my horse fix and surprisingly I have no desire to start riding again.  I've gotten to know his personal quirks and I know he recognizes me when I arrive.  It is nice to think something I loved so much in my younger days is still a part of my life.

The Wedding:  Our countdown timer is about to dip below 100 days.  Aaah!!  Enough said.

Lots more to discuss about all the quick bullet points above but this brings things up to speed a bit.  I'm going to try hard to get up a second non-"Monday Mario" post every week.  Wish me luck.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday Mario

That can't be comfortable.