Thursday, May 27, 2010

To Bring to a State of Currentness

I have been woefully bad about updating on the running front. Time to get caught up!

Friday (May 14th): 10 miles including 3 mi @ 9:05 pace; This was a horrible, life sucking type of run. It was all I could do to hang on to the pick-up pace and I totally crashed and burned in the miles afterward. I felt like I was at mile 22 of a marathon the last two miles of this run. I had to take some walking breaks during what should have been fairly easy cool-down miles. I kept telling myself it was good mental practice for the marathons next month.

Sunday: 6 miles @ 10:07 pace; Still not feeling like myself.

Monday: 14 miles @ 10:18 pace; The drudgery continues. Got this done with my dignity intact but it didn't feel as easy as it should have.

Tuesday: 8 miles @ 10:13 pace

Thursday: Walk 4.5 miles

Friday: 10 miles including 4 mi @ 8:46 pace; I really needed this run for my self-esteem. I've been horribly dragging the past week and my body was in some sort of running funk. I think this is the fastest overall pace I have averaged for a tempo pick-up. I was down in the 8:30's the last mile or so which is pretty darn fast for me. Thanks, legs.

Saturday: Walk 5 miles; This was the first time I went out for a walk workout by myself and I pushed the pace a little. I usually average about 16:40 minute miles overall when I walk with my mom or Boyfriend but I was down in the 14:40's for a bit and averaged a 15:08 overall pace, I think. I actually got into a zone where it almost felt satisfying like running!

Sunday: 6 miles @ 9:45 pace; Fun, fun run with new and old friends. I would have loved to have run farther but I knew I had an 18/10 combo coming up the next two days.

Monday: 18 miles @ 10:33 pace; I took planned walking breaks which I told myself was to get more time on my feet but it was probably 60% because I felt sort of blah. I walked about 0.1 miles every two miles the first 14 miles and then from 15-17 I walked 0.1 miles every mile. I still maintained a decent pace overall which surprised me. My legs were super tired at the end of this run, though. After I finished up the 18 miles I walked an additional mile to make 19 to get more practice for the inevitable walking I'll be doing next month.

Tuesday: 10 miles @ 10:03 pace; Even though I was super drained after Monday's run, I got out and had an amazing 10 mile run. The cool weather and drizzly rain helped a lot. The pace was a little slower than it would have been without the 19 miles the day before, but I hardly felt the long run in my legs.

And that brings us up to speed from my last running post! As you can see I have really been pushing my body a bit by walking on my rest days and stacking my runs on consecutive days. My shin got a little mad at me but I think we made it through without a major dispute.

I'll be back to my normal schedule next week (still doing walk workouts but no more stacked runs) which is actually the start of my taper period. I am not sure if a 14/8 combo and a 19/10 combo are enough to do a 26.2/26.2 combo, but it will have to do.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday Mario

Yesterday I had a ton of fun at BunnyFest 2010! I missed the first few hours but got there in time for all the speakers I was interested in hearing and the second raffle of the day.

There were a ton of great raffle prizes and I easily parted with $20 to secure some tickets to try to win Mario some goodies. I threw in tickets for a big cardboard tunnel (Boyfriend, who ended up attending, was secretly hoping I would NOT win this because then we would have it in the living room for years), book store gift certificate, a HUGE basket of willow balls (this would have been awesome to win, but at only $1 a chance there were TONS of tickets in for that one), a cardboard playhouse, and a little wooden crate thing.

Some of the raffle prizes. I spy The Spots!!

I really, really wanted to win that little wooden crate thing! Mario used to have a multi-level condo. Back in those days he was upwardly thinking. When I moved, I put him in an exercise-pen set-up. I'll never forget when I first put him in the pen, he seemed a little confused. He jumped on top of his willow tent. He tried to jump on top of his new covered litter box (he nowadays NEVER tries to jump up on these things). He didn't seem to understand what had happened to all of his fun levels.

I've noticed that when he was in the condo he was much more into exploring vertically. I feel like he sort of lost this and really wanted to offer him something he could jump up onto. I figured I'd take his willow tent out of the pen and set up the crate thing in the corner to give him the option of exploring upward again.

The crate thing had a $5 minimum ticket deposit to enter. I threw in five $1 tickets and noticed there were only five other tickets in the basket. Some guy named "Joe" and I were in a 50/50 heat for this crate. I went and purchased more tickets and threw another $5 worth into the basket. Mario now had a 67% shot of winning! Boyfriend made a comment about how I could probably just outright buy the crate for $10 worth of tickets but I poo-pooed him saying it was for bunny charity.

Dr. Harvey talks about bunny abscesses.

There were tons of people at the event (the above photo represents about 1/3 of the people who were there). And a shocking number of people had brought their bunnies along. I am really sorry I didn't get any photos of the buns people brought. I kept meant to ask permission to take photos of people's rabbits but never got around to it. They were all SO cute. I was really amazed at how docile the rabbits were, too! A lot of people were carrying their bunnies around and the rabbits didn't seem to mind one bit. Mario is definitely NOT a lap rabbit. It has been so long since I've had a lap rabbit (my childhood rabbit was quite into being carried around) that I've forgotten rabbits like that exist. I kept enviously eyeing one rabbit during a seminar who sprawled so contentedly in his owner's arms soaking up pets.

After the veterinarian's talk we gathered around for the raffle drawings. Luck was not on my side for most of the drawings, but I DID win the crate thing! Woo-hoo (sorry, "Joe.")!! I was so happy!!!

We missed the talk about bunny condos but I snapped a photo of what I assume was the sample bun.

The last speakers of the day were two women who talked about clicker training rabbits. I actually bought a book on this a few years back and have done some elementary things with Mario sporadically over the last few years. I can't say they said anything I hadn't read before, but their whole speech motivated me to get going with Mario again. I picked up some new toys to use in training with Mario.

A shot I took during the agility clicker training demonstration. The rabbit was decidedly not into performing for everyone so the video I took is not so interesting.

They also showed videos of bunnies they had worked with which was very interesting. They had taught one rabbit to pick up balls and deposit them into a little basketball hoop! Very impressive.

I picked up some treats for Mario and a bag of pellets (slightly cheaper at the host pet store than my usual source and I figured I'd support them for hosting the event).

Mario's Bounty!

We did some clicker training last night and I got Mario to go through the hoop a few times. We'll keep working on it and if he ever gets reliable I'll post a video.

Mario was not yet interested in jumping on the crate thing but did like sitting inside of it. I call it "The Garage." I'm planning on putting it in his pen today or tomorrow.

Oh, and I did get a good deal! If I had bought the crate online it would have cost about $26 shipped and I would have had to put it together a little. So I saved $6 and got to help out The Rabbit Haven. I am really excited for Mario to have a little perch again. Hopefully he thinks to check out the top of it soon.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday Mario

Rabbit toys are so easy to come by. Mario also loves hopping over that cardboard roll. So much so it has been lying in the middle of the living room for almost 2 months!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Aloha 'Oe

First off, I'd like to say, "Wow!" I have never had a race report bring so many people over and out of the woodwork. Go, Wisconsin!

I had some comments about the beeping Garmin: I actually wouldn't mind the countdown timer beeper. I know a lot of people use that for walk-run intervals. Since I generally only run, even if we move at the same net pace and leapfrog a bit, I probably only have to hear 50% of the chimes. I don't mind hearing the "You passed another mile" beep, either. I actually have mine set to go off every half a mile which means I annoy people 100% more during a race with those beeps. I also get curious about when other people's garmins beep in relation to the mile markers. Sometimes when a whole bunch of them beep over a tenth of a mile before the marker early in a race, I think, "Ha ha! The course IS long!" It is only the "You're going too slow!" or "You're going too fast!" alert that irks me. Mainly because once it starts to go off, it will probably continue to go off for the duration of the race. I think EndorphinBuzz had the right idea of only letting that chime go off a few times before admitting defeat (or success, as the case may be) and turning it off. Or better yet, we should all get the Garmin 310XT which has a vibrating alert! Me want!

RG, Kenosha was at an elevation of something like 600 ft. You worried me the night before and I checked!

Two, sorry for the long silence, but I flew home to Hawaii this weekend for a quick visit with the family. While not terribly hot this time of year, the humidity quickly kicked my butt when I went out for runs.

I barely took any photos (and didn't even go the beach) so nothing super exciting to share with you.

Here is a photo of a Hawaiian plate lunch from Young's Fish Market (always my first stop after I get picked up from the airport). Pipikaula, poi, lomi salmon, lau lau, and kalua pork. I have just succeeded in making myself salivate on the keyboard.

I had a two-seater to myself on the return trip so took the opportunity to catch some shots:

Diamond Head in the distance from the airport

This view while heading in this direction always breaks my heart.
If you take off from the Honolulu Airport, get a window seat on the left side of the plane. You'll get this great view of Oahu as you take off.

The biggest of those little islands off the main island is called, Rabbit Island.

After an utterly lazy week after the Wisconsin Marathon, I am back on the training wagon again! I didn't run for 7 whole days. I actually recovered pretty quickly and could have gone for a run sooner, but lately it seems I'll take any excuse to not have to go for a run. I got out for one 5 miler and one 7 miler while in Hawaii. My mom walks about 5 miles every morning and I joined her two mornings for a nice stroll, too.

I haven't really been mentioning races down the pike this year until they are next in line (I do add them to my race line-up on the right hand side of the screen as soon as I am officially registered). So what is next?

In June, I will be doing my first back-to-back marathons. At first I was saying two in 48 hours, but I think the proper term would be two in 24 hours! On Friday I'll be running around the Idaho side of Bear Lake, and on Saturday I'll be trekking around the Utah side.

At this point I am not so concerned about the mileage of doing two marathons on consecutive days. I am, however, VERY concerned about the altitude. I have done one other high altitude marathon in Kenya. The Safaricom marathon is at 5300-5800 ft. elevation. Bear Lake is just shy of 6000 ft. I remember when I first arrived in Kenya I walked up a flight of (rather shallow) stairs and was winded when I got to the top. I had about 4-5 days to acclimate before the marathon which ended up being my slowest ever (5:58, I believe). The slow finish time can partly be blamed on a hellacious case of shin splints I developed which pretty much wrecked my training, though. This time I am flying in the day before the race which I am told is one of two ways to go (either arrive really early to acclimate or get there right before and bang it out).

I am thinking that the double-marathon coupled with the elevation will probably yield my slowest marathon times EVER. In anticipation of walking quite a bit I am going to add walking workouts on my rest days the next few weeks. Today I penned out a training schedule for the next 16 weeks! I haven't been on a plan since CIM training ended in December. I am looking forward to having something written down to be accountable. I've been weaseling out of training runs far too much the last 5 months.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday Mario

It's been a while since we've had a proper bunny-butt photo.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Wisconsin Marathon

The Mario Recap, Marathon #17:
Hot day. Boring course. Tired legs. Kept running. Great medal. Brats!

The Full Recap, Marathon #17:
I am not sure what happened since I believe I checked the weather the night before (things were looking about the same as California -- low in the high 40's, high in the mid 60's). When I deplaned in Chicago I was overcome by HEAT and MUGGINESS!? It was the same feeling I used to get when I'd get off the plane in Hawaii when traveling home for Christmas from NYC. I thought maybe they had turned on the heat in the little walkway. But no. That was the weather. Great.

The race started at 7:00 am and I had wanted to leave Chicago by 5:00 am to give myself enough time to drive up to Kenosha (I stayed with my sister who lives in Chicago). I figured after leaving the hotel at 3:45 am the week before for the Big Sur Marathon, 5:00 am was nothing! Of course, with the time difference, it was like leaving at 3:00 am. Bleh.

When I woke up at 4:00 am the temperature in Kenosha was 60 degrees. 60 DEGREES at 4:00 AM!!! Once again, my ideal marathoning weather is 44 degrees at the finish. This was going to be a pretty miserable day.

I did go Cheese Out with Outfit A! I also figured out how to get the mouse and cheese pin securely onto my hat. In Kenosha I emerged from my car and felt like a total dork when everyone else was dressed in decidedly non-cheesy clothes. Oh, well. I guess you could tell who the tourist runners were.

I got tons of comments and cheers for my hat. Lots of fun!

I got to the All-Cheese corral and took my place way at the front of the pack. In fact, we were right by the start line next to a "6:30 pace" sign. The race directors were smart enough to have the Cheese Corral to one side of the chute so faster racers could have a clear avenue to get their pace on. However this didn't mean we didn't clog things up a bit for some people which made me feel bad. They could probably organize that a little better.

Standing in the All Cheese Corral

The race course consists of basically two huge out and backs. The first one we ran with the half marathoners and the second one was for those doing the full marathon. I hate out and backs. In fact, there were some parts of the course I passed three times. Bleh. Overall, I found the course to be utterly uninspiring (probably not helped by the fact I ran the most gorgeous course 6 days prior).

I am assuming this area was considered "Downtown Kenosha"

The first half did a lot of running alongside Lake Michigan.

The first half also had your typical out-and-back where you could see people going out as you were coming back in. Hands down my least favorite part of the course. The first half was not helped much by the fact that the sun was out in full force and the temps were climbing.

The first half had a bunch of rolling hills (which due to the nature of the course you ran over twice). None of them were Big Sur-esque, but I would definitely not describe the first half as flat.

For more than a few miles I got caught running next to Annoying Garmin Lady. The Garmin has a feature you can use where you set a pace you'd like to keep up and it will sound an alert to let you know if you're going too fast or too slow. I sometimes use this feature when I am doing interval workouts of a mile or less. It is a nice way to get feedback without having to look down too often when you are pushing hard. This runner, though, had apparently set this feature up for a marathon. I don't know if she was going too fast or too slow (in my irritated brain I imagined she had bombed and was going much slower than she had hoped) but that damned Garmin was beeping alerts every minute or so.

I don't know if it is because I know that sound from training which usually ticks me off since I am off pace, but it is not a friendly sort of chime. It is sort of panic inducing. I shot her dirty looks (which she sadly probably couldn't see with my sunglasses) every time the thing went off. I almost wanted to say something to her. Can you imagine running 26 miles next to someone with their watch beeping like that?! And seriously, there are LOTS of ways to program a Garmin to let you know if you are on or off pace without having to resort to that audible chime. And during a marathon, once you are off pace (either for better or worse) the chances of you going back to your predetermined zone is pretty slim. AUGHGUGH! I am not sure if I pulled ahead or if she pulled ahead, but luckily I lost that sound the last 10 miles of the race.

We got rid of the pesky half marathoners around mile 11. That is when I realized that the second out and back was not along the lake in the opposite direction, but instead was taking us out into the boonies.

Fellow runners were sort of sparse the second half, which I am learning is the way I actually prefer things. The nice thing about the second out and back was that it was not run on the same road the whole way. There were portions you could see people heading in the opposite direction, but much of it was run on parallel roads so you couldn't see everyone else. Also, the way I like it.

Some parts were on an upaved road that had a lot of loose rocks. I kept thinking I'd roll my left ankle which I've easily accomplished in the past on much more stable surfaces. I was especially worried about this in later miles when I felt my feet were dragging more. Luckily, nothing of the sort happened.

You'll notice in this photo, the previous photo, and the next photo that the cloud cover rolled in which was a total godsend. I would probably still be out there in a puddly mess if not for the clouds. It was still warm but not unbearably so.

So how was I feeling? I was averaging a sub-10:00 pace for about the first 14 miles which is always pretty good for me. I could definitely tell my legs were tired, though. Things were pretty tough the second half of the course. I walked through the water stops and drank a lot of water since it was warm out. I kept counting off the miles in 2 mile segments. "Get to mile 16 and there will be a water stop to walk through..." "Get to mile 18 and there will be another water stop..."

This photo was taken at the turnaround shortly before mile 19. You know that feeling when you are doing an out-and-back run and you get to the turnaround. And then the rest of the run you feel lighter because you're headed home? Well, that was this point in the race.

I was feeling sort of drained and really wanted to walk. I was still only walking at water stops. I remember telling myself that once I got to mile 23 I could take a walk break even if there was no water stop. Amazingly, one magically appeared right before mile 23. The fact I didn't have to take a non-water stop walking break really buoyed my spirits. I thought I'd take a quick walk break at mile 24. But once I got there, decided I would just keep on running to the finish line.

For most of the second half of the race I didn't have any extra gears. I had two to pick from: A) Walk or B) Run. There was no C) Run Faster or even a D) Run Slower, for that matter. I just kept moving along at a comfortable pace. From Oakland I sort of recognize this as my body's response to doing marathons so close together. It was really more of a mental battle to just keep running.

With one mile left I did manage to kick up the speed just a little (more to get the thing over with). I wasn't near any sort of time turnover which would inspire me to move quicker. I was passing many walking people the last few miles but there didn't seem to be anyone really running my pace by me. I was pretty much all alone that last mile. I had the entire finish line dash to myself which was sort of neat. The announcer made a comment about my cheese hat as I crossed.

Finish time: 4:33:xx

They had free beer and brats at the finish for runners. Yummy. Strangely with all of the cheese hype, there was NO cheese to be found at the finish.

Hello, Cheese medals!

Lake Michigan

The final stretch to the finish line

Overall, I'd recommend this race if you're local to the event. I don't think I'd recommend traveling solely for this event. The course is not that awesome. The crowd support was just okay. There were some nice people who were outside of their houses cheering, but nothing that inspired me the way Austin people did. The race was very well run, though! Great organization. Even with the rolling hills the first half, it is a fairly fast course if you want to race it as well.

And I LOVE this medal. It is even better than I thought it would be.