Friday, March 30, 2012

Running "Naked": Leave the Tunes at Home

I think that sometimes we get so caught up in reaching our racing goals, we forget how much we just love to run :)

On Sunday, I went for a glorious 7 mile run. It was seriously one of the most enjoyable runs I've had in a long time. Don't get me wrong- I always enjoy running (except maybe during track workouts...) but this one was special. Why? Because I left my Garmin and iPod at home.

Of course I didn't do this by choice- I realized both were dead right before I left. In fact, I almost skipped this run altogether. I woke up with a head cold on Sunday, and then I had a headache from doing a lot of cleaning with bleach products. But then I looked at the weather forecast for Monday, and seeing as it would be 20 degrees cooler with 25 mph winds, I decided I should just suck it up and go.

I started out with a 4 mile loop, and I can't even describe to you how good I felt. It's been so long since I last ran without music, I forgot what my footstrikes and breathing sounded like. And at the risk of sounding super cheesy, it was a beautiful day outside- 60 degrees, a light breeze, birds chirping- the whole shebang. When I got home, the door was locked- which meant Ben had gone to play with our niece and nephew at the park. So I ran another mile to there and played with them for a little while too. Then I finished with 2 more miles, ending at Carrie and CJ's house, where we cooled down with a game of baseball.

Total: 7 miles
Time: No clue, easy by feel :)

I just received the latest issue of Runner's World in the mail on Wednesday, and one of the articles inside, called "Tech Time-Out," made a lot of good points about running "naked" (meaning sans-techonology- get your mind out of the gutter).

Some of my favorite points (from Runner's World):

1. Checking your pace, distance, and heart rate every few minutes means you're focusing more on numbers than on your body's cues.

2. "As much as numbers sometimes motivate us, they sometimes limit us," she says. "We all have this number in our head--we think we can't perform well unless we're at that exact spot, and we limit ourselves to that number." But by blinding yourself to the various digits, you might push past your own barriers and discover another level of running.

3. Good tunes can get us through a long, boring run, or drown out the chitchat of the people power-waling on the treadmills next to you. But music can also block sensory feedback your body is trying to give you, and be a distraction. For example, when you run with earbuds, you're missing out on the sound of your breathing and your footstrikes--important clues that give you an idea of how hard your working, says Underhill.

4. Listening to music all the time, every time, means it loses its value too. "You can become desensitized to its motivating effects," says Ben Greenfield, an exercise physiologist, certified coach, and author of Run With No Pain.

It's no secret that I've become quite dependent on my running gadgets. On easy days, I'll sometimes leave my Garmin at home- but I ALWAYS have my iPod with me. But I think I'll start saving the tunes for harder runs, like speed workouts and long runs. I've gotten so used to basing my "easy pace" on the numbers my Garmin shows me, rather than the sound of my breathing and my footstrikes- both of which are drowned out by my iPod.

I think I could definitely benefit from running "naked" a couple times a week. My hope is that it will improve the quality of my training runs, and as a result, allow me to run faster and perform better in my upcoming races.

Do you always run with either your watch or an iPod?

How often do you run "naked?"

Any big plans for the weekend- racing or otherwise?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Race Recap: Race for Research 10K

Today I ran the Race for Research 10K, which is organized by the Mayo School of Health Sciences Program in Physical Therapy. I love racing, but I love it even more when I know my money is going to a good cause, so I was happy to learn that all of the proceeds go to the Foundation for Physical Therapy. It was a fairly small race, but I think in the coming years they'll start getting more entries. The course was flat and fast, and the weather was perfect for racing.

I left work an hour early last night to make sure I got enough sleep. My pre-race routine was a little thrown off by the fact that we had no bananas, but I didn't let it phase me too much. We got to Soldier's Field around 8:15 to pick up my race packet, and I got to chat with my friend and roommate from last year, Kim, who's in Mayo's DPT program. I jogged about a half-mile to warm up, stretched, and then headed over to the start line.

Like last week, the race was gun-timed, so I started pretty close to the front. I wasn't sure if I was ready to conquer my sub-50:00 goal yet, but I decided to aim for it anyways, and tried to stay around a 8:00 min/mile pace. My first three mile splits were fantastic:

Feelin' good.

The course was set up as a 5K loop, so the 5K runners ran it once and the 10K runners ran it twice. I tried to ignore all of the 5K runners finishing and made the turn for my second 5K loop. There weren't many 10K runners at all- during mile 4 I could see only one guy in front of me and nobody behind me. The lack of spectators- and people in general, for that matter- didn't do much for my mentality, and my pace started to slow.

No longer feelin' good.

Right around the 5 mile marker there was a switch back, and I noticed there was a woman about 100 meters behind me. I had passed her around mile 2, but she was looking strong. I couldn't recall having seen any women in front of me- if there were any, they had to be waaaaaay in front of me. I knew if I was in first, I'd be ticked if I let this girl pass me- because let's face it, how many times does an average runner like me get a chance to win a race? So I picked up the pace and was able to shake her in the last mile.

Time: 52:02* (New PR!)
Average pace: 8:23
1st female

Shortly after I finished, my name was called- turns out I was top female! My prize was a $30 Trader Joe's gift card, which just so happens to be the same amount the race registration was. In the end, I paid for my race with chocolate covered almonds, wine, and various other goodies.

Random beers, wine, Clif bars, chocolate, dark chocolate-covered almonds,
bananas, coffee, bananas, granola bars, an dried fruit paid for my race.

This race was really small- since the results aren't up, I don't know exact numbers- but I think only 15-20 women ran the 10K. But SO WHAT?! I'm totally owning this win. It's not like I didn't have any close competition, and it involved some serious guts on my part towards the end of the race. So although it's probably a freak occurrence and may never happen again, I'm going to enjoy my moment in the spotlight... perhaps by overindulging in the bottle of wine I bought with my winnings.

My next race is the Spring Fling Diva Run 10K on April 28th. I'm going to be ready to run that sub-50:00 10K!

What was the highlight of your week?

When is your next race?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Race Recap: Lucky Green 5K

Yesterday I ran the Lucky Green 5K, a small race organized by the Rochester Track Club and the Running Room in Rochester. This was its fourth year running and they had a record number of participants (154). It was also the first year they didn't have to use ice melt on the course- we've had record high temps in the 70s and 80s all week!

I got up around 6:45 and had my regular pre-run Eggo with peanut butter and banana. I headed to the race around 8 and met up with my friend Felicity. Since it was a small race, the only bathroom available was a single bathroom inside the Running Room, so we hopped in line for that pretty early. After that we went for a short jog around the parking lot and did some stretching, then met up with Ben right before the race.

We all walked over to the start line together, which was about a block away. The race was gun-timed, not chip-timed, so I started pretty close to the front. I knew I probably couldn't hang with half the guys up there, but they weren't going to stop me from getting a PR!

The race director yelled, "Runners to your mark... GO!" (small race, remember?) and we were off.

Showin' the guys what's up- for about a quarter of a mile.

Remember how I said I couldn't hang with the guys at the start line? Well I definitely couldn't, but I tried for about a quarter of a mile, before I looked down at my Garmin and realized I was holding a 6:45 pace. Definitely not where I wanted to be! So I dialed it down, let a few women pass me, and settled in around a 7:30 pace instead. I needed to average 7:40 min/miles to make my ambitious goal of sub-24:00, or 8:00 min/miles to make my secondary goal of sub-25:00.

The first mile flew by- literally. 7:30ish. I can't tell you my exact splits, because I'm an idiot and didn't turn the Auto Lap on my Garmin back on after my speedwork sesh last week. You can bet this came back to haunt me later in the race- stay tuned.

Second mile was a little tougher. The course was flat the whole way, great for racing a PR. I monitored my lap pace a little bit more during this mile, and it had slowed to 7:38- funny, because I felt like I had slowed down more than that. Turns out since I turned the Auto Lap off, the entire race was my "lap" and I had really ran around a 7:46 second mile, and my average pace for both miles had dropped to 7:38.

The third mile was not so good. I felt like I might throw up, or possibly pass out, probably from sustaining a pace I wasn't quite sure my body could handle for 2+ miles. So when I looked down at my Garmin it said my pace was hovering around 7:45, I was (again) slightly confused. I (again) felt like I was running much slower than that, but I still hadn't realized my mistake, and thought, "I might as well slow down, because I can afford to give up a few seconds and still make my sub-24:00 goal."

Imagine my surprise when 100 meters from the finish I catch a glimpse of the race clock, which says 23:57.

At that moment, it all clicked, and I thought, "Well, crap." So I used the small amount of energy I had left to sprint to the finish.

Final time: 24:22* (Post-high school PR)
Average pace: 7:51
9th female (out of 86)
1st in 20-29 age group (out of 29)

While I was disappointed I didn't break 24:00, once I got over it I was extremely happy with my shiny new, sub-25:00 PR. I just know I can break 24:00 at my next 5K- whenever that might be. No plans for one yet, but obviously I'm using a separate tab on my browser to search for one right this second.

I left shortly after I got done because I had very little time to shower and get ready for work. I didn't even know I had won my age group until I checked the official results today! I was pretty excited when I found that out. I emailed the race director, and he said they're holding my award for me.

Next up: MSHS Race for Research 10K next Saturday, March 24th

You better believe both my Garmin and I will be ready!

Anybody else race on St. Patty's Day? How'd it go?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Track Party and Carb Loading

Yesterday I did my first track workout since highschool, and it went surprisingly well. And by surprisingly well, I mean I survived.

I did 6x400 at 5K goal pace with 400m recovery in between. I HATE 400s... I had to block out the flashbacks of Coach Hofacker yelling out my split times on 400 repeat day at high school track practice.

When I was a freshman, neither me nor my coaches knew what event I was good at. They threw me in the mile (sucked). Then they tried me at the 800 (sucked even more). They even entered me in the 800 at a couple more meets to see if I would improve (still sucked). Then they put me in the 400, and I ran a 1:06 (or 1:07- I don't remember). Seeing as I wasn't absolutely terrible, they were all "The 400 is your event!" and I was all "YAAAAAAAAY I'm good at something!" Then they got all fancy and tried to talk race strategy with me, and I never ran under a 1:10 after that. I'm pretty sure I ran a 1:15 at regions. Turns out I was never good at the 400, it was just a fluke. It took until my junior year for us to figure out "my event"- the 100m hurdles. And we didn't have a track, so I only got to practice once or twice a week when we used another school's track. But I digress.

The track I ran on yesterday is the only public track in town (all the high schools lock up their tracks) and it's measured in yards. So I relied on my trusty Garmin to mark my start and end points (which were different every time). It was also made of dirt mixed with pieces of rubber... not the most glamorous, but its squishiness still felt better than asphalt.

Here's what my splits looked like (yes, I am aware that I am extremely speedy):

1:59, 1:58, 1:54, 1:49, 1:56, 1:53

Slowest pace: 7:51
Fastest pace: 7:21
Average pace: 7:41

Clearly my consistency could still use some work. But my average pace came out right around my 5K goal pace, and I'll take that as a small victory. Never mind that I felt like I was dying and I'm not sure how I'll hold that pace for 3.1 miles on Saturday.

Today is the start of one of my favorites times of year- MARCH MADNESS. It is the one time of year that I can pretend that I am an expert college basketball analyst for ESPN and pick my bracket based solely upon which teams I like and dislike because I haven't had time to a watch a game in its entirety all year. I won't tell you how good my bracket is doing for fear of jinxing it, but I will tell you that it's doing pretty darn good.
I took a half-day at work today, not JUST to watch basketball, but because we were fully staffed without me on the schedule and because a day of work sandwiched between two days off is never fun for anyone. I picked up an order of boneless wings from B-dubs (that's Buffalo Wild Wings, for those of you who have been living under a rock) for Ben and I to enjoy. I've also had two 16 oz. Coors Lights (the 24-pack of big cans was only $2 more than the 24-pack of 12 oz. cans- ummm, yes please!) and a mint Dilly Bar when we went to visit the niece and nephew. Did I mention that I'm trying to eat healthy before my race on Saturday? Ben was quick to point out that it's only a 5K, and in high school he would eat cake before races. I mean, beer has carbs... right?

Do you try to eat healthier in the days leading up to a race?

How is your bracket doing? Who do you have winning it all? 
I've got Michigan State and North Carolina in the final game, with the Spartans taking it all.

Do you try to eat healthier in the days leading up to a race?

Monday, March 12, 2012


Long time no blog!

Last week was a good running week. Had a good 5-mile tempo run (where I actually stayed within my tempo pace range) on Thursday:

Tempo run success!

On Saturday I went to a PiYo class with a different instructor than I normally have. It was SO MUCH HARDER than my normal class! But it was good for me to push myself. After that I did an easy 2-miler on the treadmill, during which I felt a slight twinge of ITBS (eek!). Rather than stop running completely, I stopped and stretched, then finished the run. Probably not smart on my part, especially because it was only 2 miles. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time with my foam roller on Saturday. I was really nervous for my long run Sunday, because I knew that if my ITBS was back, I most likely wouldn't be able to make it past mile 2. But mile 2 came and went, as did mile 3, and 4, and so on... Although I felt some tightness, I finished all 9 miles with ZERO PAIN! And I finally mastered the whole "easy pace" thing. Although I started out closer to 9:00 miles and ended closer to 10:00 miles, my average pace ended up being 9:30. Easy peasy!

Probably the best part of my long run was that Ben ran all 9 miles with me! He's not quite sure, but this may be the farthest he's ever ran, and if not, it's at least the farthest he's ran since high school. I thought he was just going to run the first 2 miles with me and then turn around, but he decided pretty early on that he would stick it out for all 9. Even though I suspect he only did it to prove to me that he's better than me at EVERYTHING, I appreciated the company :) I tried to convince him to run the Med-City half with me in May, but he's not to keen on the idea. He says he won't be running that far again in a very long time... but we'll see if I can change his mind! He ran an 18:00 5K in high school, so he could be pretty awesome runner if he wanted to. Let's be honest- he could beat my half marathon PR without even training. He amazes me, yet makes me angry at the same time ;)

Spring has come a little early this year, as we've been having some fantastic weather in Stewartville lately. Here's what our 10-day forecast is looking like:

Weather is looking good for 5K race day (St. Patty's Day)!

My favorite was this warning that we saw right before our long run on Sunday:

Watch out folks- it's a HEAT WAVE!

This is what my week is looking like in terms of workouts:

Monday: REST
Tuesday: 3 mi. easy
Wednesday: Cycle class
Thursday: 5 mi. speedwork (maybe some mile repeats?)
Friday: Yoga
Saturday: 5K race
Sunday: 10 mi. long

Would you rather run with a friend/significant other or run alone?

What is your favorite season for running (spring/summer/fall/winter)?

I'd have to say mine is probably spring!

Do you plan your workouts at the beginning of the week, or just go with the flow?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Recovery Week and My Next Race

This week was a much needed recovery week. I ran three easy runs consisting of 3-4 miles each and did some cross-training (spin class and elliptical). I also got a deep tissue massage on Wednesday- it hurt so good! The last time I got a massage was during my terrible bout of ITBS, and my massage therapist had told me I had some of the tightest IT bands she'd ever seen! This time she had much better things to say about my IT bands, and about my legs in general. "All I felt was the normal tightness I always see in runners," she said. "Keep doing what you're doing!" Don't mind if I do :)

I have been having some shin pain off and on since I got back from California. Although my return to outdoor running has been nothing short of glorious (save for my windburned face and cold ears), I suspect that running on pavement three times a week after not having run on pavement in three months might have something to do with the pain. Just a hunch. And the fact that my shoes aren't entirely broken in probably doesn't help either. It's not excruciating pain- just a dull, aching pain that I sometimes feel while running and after standing for long periods of time at work. So I ordered some of these to help with recovery time:

CEP Compression Calf Sleeves

They're supposed to get here Tuesday. Can't wait!

My cross country coach in high school always told us, "If you had shins splints, you wouldn't be able to walk!" I don't know how much truth there is to that statement, but nonetheless, it's always stuck with me! So I've been running through the little pain that I have been having, taking ibuprofen, and icing. I've seen some improvement this week, and hopefully I will be back to 100% in the next few days.

My first race of this year is two weeks from yesterday- the Lucky Green 5K! I've really missed the excitement and adrenaline rush that comes with running a race. Plus, I think I'm in the best shape I've been for a 5K since I was in high school. My realistic goal is to finish in under 25:00, but I'm going to try to get under 24:00. Either way, I would be running about as fast as I was senior year of high school. Although that may not be very "fast" for some people, I'd still be pretty excited about it! :)

I've already planned out my workouts for this week and I'm pretty excited about them:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 3 mi. easy + strength
Wednesday: Cycle class
Thursday: 5 mi. tempo
Friday: 2 mi. easy
Saturday: PiYo
Sunday: 9 mi. long

Did you do anything exciting this weekend?

When was the last time you got a massage?

Any upcoming races?