Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Banner Workout

This morning, I had my best workout. Ever. Ever. Ever. It was incredible. I'll save the superlatives and just lay it out for you with a few editorial comments interjected. Oh, and for the record: Lynn designed it, and only told me pieces of it on a need-to-know basis...as in, the second round of track workouts were a surprise until after we finished road run. If I'd known what awaited me, not sure I would have gotten out of bed today...

Here goes:
2.5-mile warm-up from my house to track

Ran 4 X 1200 (three laps each) with one lap recovery jog in between each one (times: 5:43; 5:32; 5:42; 5:34)

Left track. Ran 5 miles at tempo pace (8:32/mile) on the roads. (This was supposed to be at marathon pace, with Lynn's parting words as we left the track, "We have to keep it to 8:45. No faster!" Uh, yeah, famous last words...by about mile 4 pace became a running joke--pun intended.)

Returned to track and ran two timed miles with one lap recovery jog between each one. Lynn's mantra before we started these miles was T-shirt-worthy: "Anything under 8:00 is great." We then proceeded to run: 7:31 for the first one, 7:14 for the second one. (With Lynn noting after the first timed mile, "You realize you ran that in the exact same time as the timed mile you did about two years ago before Nike Women's Marathon, right?" Oh, you mean the one that made my arm tingle and I was pushing full-bore?!?! And now it's something I can crank out after all that work...and then do another, faster timed mile?)

Total length of run outing, including various slower, cool-down 400s: 15 miles.

Yeah, I'm a proud peacock right about now!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Mood Altering

Typically I’m a happy optimist. But last Wednesday I woke up in a crummy mood, not feeling at all enthusiastic about my run. I should have been: It was spring break, so I had the luxury of running once the sun was up. But the sun didn’t make an appearance here in Portland that morning--instead, a light but steady rain was falling. I still should have been feeling chipper as I’d decided I’d do my 13-mile run in Forest Park. I rarely get to trail run these days: My runs are so long that I can’t spare the 15-minute drive each way to the trailhead.

But I just was not feeling this run. From the moment I started, it felt like a slog. It was what my coach, Lynn, calls “beauty miles”—mileage run at a relaxed pace intended to just get me time on my feet. No tempo, no marathon pace, no intervals. Just one foot in front of the other. Usually these mid-week runs are a delight, a chance to veg out and listen to tunes while covering 12 or so miles. Instead, it felt like a moving pity-party…until about mile 11 when, suddenly, a feeling of contentment flushed through my veins. The feeling of well-being was palpable, yet entirely fleeting, like a woodland creature scampering across my foot.

But instead of accepting that I was once again in a funk, I told myself, “Make your own good mood.” Almost as soon as I thought it, I felt my spirits lift. My footsteps seemed lighter and the weather looked less gloomy. My run ended on an upbeat note, but overall it was a dreary, weary run.

Oh, what a delightful difference a few days can make. Yesterday I ran 18 miles, with 10 of them around marathon pace (I averaged 8:37 for the 10). Lynn ran with me for 11+ miles, and the time passed in an enjoyable, entertaining blur. If my Garmin hadn’t told I’d covered 18 miles, I would have swore I’d run only half that distance. When I got home, I felt exuberant. It was a great kickoff to a high-mileage week.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Forget Lourdes: I Have Ice Baths

Even though I’ve run regularly for fitness (and sanity!) for more than 20 years, I sometimes still feel like a poser. As if someone is going to blow the whistle on me and reveal me for the brainiac, non-athletic child I used to be. Sometimes, to bolster my self-image, I do things that smack of hardcore athlete. Every so often, I become a teetotaler, acting as if serious athletes steer clear of all alcohol. Or, back in my green-and-salad (and single!) days, I got weekly massages.

My latest ploy? Every Sunday after my long run, I take an ice bath. And, let me tell you: It has cemented my reputation as an authentic jock. All I need to do is mention “ice bath” in my Facebook status update, and the comments come flying in. (Dare I say that ice baths are a “hot-button” issue on FB? Ha, ha: Sorry, couldn’t resist.) Yup, within minutes of finishing my run and chugging a Nalgene bottle full of Carnation Instant Breakfast (my new drink of choice for immediate refueling), I sit up to my waist in our clawfoot tub with ice cubes floating in the frigid water. (First I snuggle into a wool Sugoi pullover and a fleece hoodie to trap some body heat.)

If you feel life is passing you by too quickly, just hop in an ice bath. I swear time stands still while I’m in there! Yesterday I lasted 13.5 minutes, but it felt like an eternity. Don’t know how I’d survive without iPhone to fiddle with (thus the photo above).

All jokes aside, ice baths work wonders. Yesterday was my first 20-miler for my marathon, and it included 10 miles at marathon pace (from miles 5-10 and again from 15-20). My mileage had been a bit “off” the week before because of illness and life-stress, so the threat level was at orange for muscle soreness today. But, nope, my legs feel fresh without any tweaks or strains. So after your next long run, hop in—the water’s fine!


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

SBS 15K Playlist

Had to skip the race but here's my playlist. I'm planning on listening to it tomorrow morning when I run tempo. Mary J. sets the "starting line" mood, but then it gets a bit slower to ensure I don't fly and die. (Oh, and it wouldn't be an SBS playlist if it didn't have some showtunes from Buffy musical and High School Musical series! I make no apologies!)

"Just Fine" by Mary J. Blige

"Everybody Knows" by Dixie Chicks

"Life of the Living" by Jeffrey Gaines

"Going Through the Motions" by cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

"We're All in This Together" by HSM cast

"Believe" by Cher

"Where Is the Love?" by Black Eyed Peas and Justin Timberlake

"Dig In" by Lenny Kravitz

"Mo Money Mo Problems" by Mase, Puff Daddy, and The Notorious B.I.G.

"My Life Would Suck without You" by Kelly Clarkson

"Lovely, Love My Family" by The Roots

"Wake Up Call" by Maroon 5

"MMMBop" by Hanson (again, no apologies!)

"LoveStoned" by Justin Timberlake

"South Side" by Moby

"Feel Good Inc." by Gorillaz

"God's Gonna Cut You Down" by Johnny Cash

"I Turn My Camera On" by Spoon

"Give Me a Beat" by Girl Talk

"Piece of Me" by Britney Spears

"Crack A Bottle" by Eminem et al

"Dead and Gone" by T.I.

"Suddenly I See" by K.T. Tunstall

"Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake

"Here It Goes Again" by Ok Go

Monday, March 9, 2009

Reinventing Ourselves

I'm visiting my parents in Connecticut, who still live in the house where I grew up. As I run on roads where I rode the bus in middle school or go past the house of my best friend in 5th grade, I've thought about how I've changed since those days. As I've mentioned a few times here, I was an athletic late-bloomer, not uncovering my inner jock until I started rowing in college. Before that I was a reader, not a runner or a rower.

Just as I no longer have bifocal glasses (to correct a lazy eye) or waist-length hair, I'm no longer inactive. But this morning on my 8.25-mile run, I suddenly realized how we continue evolving. It's not just that we're different from our teenage selves or who we were in our 20s, but even who we were last year or when we were training for our last big race. Despite turning another year older last week, I can still push the "reset" button and be pleased with the results.

Sometimes it's subtle changes: My long-run pace used to be 9:30-9:45. During this marathon training, I now hit 9:15-9:25 on long runs (yesteday on a hilly, 60-degree 18-miler, I averaged 9:23-minute miles). Other times it's more noticeable: My tempo pace is now an unwavering 8:15-8:25, whereas for my 2007 marathon, I struggled to get it down to 8:50. And I also have a different attitude toward hills: Instead of dreading them, I now get a thrill out of climbing them.

New challenges produce new attitudes and new skills. It's exciting to look back and see how far I've come--and how far I can still go.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Great Birthday Gift

Yup, today I start a new journey around the sun (as one friend eloquently put it on my Facebook page).

I'm not much for presents (I'm a hard-to-shop-for youngest child...), but 7-year-old Phoebe gave me something great right before I set off this a.m. on a later-than-usual 10-mile run. She asked me, "Mom, can I go running with you when I'm 15?" I replied, "Oh, we don't need to wait that long to run together!" With great excitement, Phoebe said, "Like when I'm 11 or 12?" I told her I thought we could even run together when she's 10.

A huge grin broke out on her face. It was exactly what this mother needed to kick off a great birthday.

photo above is Phoebe on Monday, the birthday of Dr. Seuss

Monday, March 2, 2009

Weasel or Wolf?

“Later, the boy sang out again, ‘Wolf! Wolf! The wolf is chasing the sheep!’ To his naughty delight, he watched the villagers run up the hill to help him drive the wolf away. When the villagers saw no wolf they sternly said, ‘Save your frightened song for when there is really something wrong! Don't cry ‘wolf’ when there is NO wolf!’”

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Aesop’s fable, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” lately. You know, the one with the moral of, “nobody believes a liar, even when he’s telling the truth.” Why have I been playing this parable through my mind?

Last week, my 7-year-old Phoebe was ill. Sickest she’s ever been (granted, she’s a hearty kid); slept pretty much all day Sunday. Fever, headache, stomach ache, and a few hurling episodes. We kept her home from school on Monday, but she seemed markedly improved the next day, so we sent her back to class. Off and on, Phoebe complained of having a headache or stomach ache, but like the villagers, we’ve come to think of that as the fake wolf-call: Phoebe “bellyaches” because she wants to get out of something.

On Thursday, the school called, saying Phoebe was complaining of a stomach ache and I needed to come get her. I stopped my workday and headed over there, convinced she was once again faking it. She didn’t feel hot, and she looked fine, so I convinced her to stay the rest of the day.

This is the point in my tale where I need to mention that on Monday night, I’d developed a sore throat from hell. Horrible pain when swallowing, yet no congestion. Fever on Tuesday morning, but I still got in a 6.5-mile run, including 12 hill repeats. But when I got home, I crawled back into bed and pulled the covers over my head. By mid-afternoon, though, I felt like a new woman, although my throat was still killing me. Ran my coach’s prescribed 10 easy miles on Wednesday, but let her know my throat was really bugging me.

The week before, I’d developed pain in my groin and upper leg area that hobbled me. I limped around, and ended up scrapping my tempo run on Friday and not getting in as many miles as we’d hoped for the week. That indeterminate leg issue, coupled with my sore throat, made me paranoid that my coach thought I was trying to weasel out of my workouts—just like Phoebe was trying to get out of school.

The kicker to this story? On Thursday, Phoebe and I both got diagnosed with our first-ever cases of strep throat. Seems the wolf turned out to be real this time. Suddenly running with a sore throat seems a breeze. The true wonder is how I’m able to move now , given how much mommy-guilt I’m lugging around!!