Monday, May 28, 2012

Family weekend / Bit O' Race Envy

I had a good weekend with my family (despite Lil' C being sick). We camped out (in the back yard), tried to teach J-Man to skateboard (not sure why he decided he wanted to), J-Man was in the Memorial Day Parade and I got a little bit of work done around the house. I was able to get a couple runs in too on Saturday and Monday morning.

On Saturday, it started to rain a couple miles in. I don't mind rain, sometimes I welcome it. The rain was nice, but if it's gonna rain, I prefer that it just keep raining. It all but stopped after a couple more miles and it got really humid. I ran again early this morning. I left at about 7:30 but should have gone even earlier - it got pretty warm rather quickly. For both runs, I didn't feel too hot for the first couple miles and then felt better.

This morning, I wanted to run at about an 8:30 min/mi pace, but my legs just didn't want to move, especially early. The yard work I did over the weekend must have been tougher on me than I thought (and yet another reason why I avoid it for as long as I can). I was running at about 9 min / mi for the first half of the run and gradually sped up as I got loose, finishing at 8:47 min / mi. With the "heat", that was fine.

Spending time with my family was more important than racing, but I felt a bit left out with so many people racing at Bayshore in Traverse City on Saturday. Megan and Matt each ran their first marathons and Alexis set a big 10k PR. They all did great. While I missed racing, I didn't miss driving up North on a busy travel weekend or trying to get a hotel room, again on a busy travel weekend. I still would have dealt with that if I was ready to do a marathon, but I just don't have time right now to dedicate myself to that kind of training (That and I am enjoying running shorter distances at the moment).While I could now get ready for a half marathon in a few weeks, marathon training is something completely different. Maybe next year...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Level up!

I had a really good practice run yesterday. I did a 5k in about 23:15, which is by far my fastest practice time at that distance. In fact, it is faster than any of my 5k races except for the last one - and I wasn't racing. I knew I was going pretty well to start and tried not to look at my watch, but peaked at it after a mile and saw that I was moving a little quicker than I thought. Thankfully, I was able to keep it up and even finished a little bit faster than I started. There wasn't anything "magical" about the run, but once I finished, I felt like I had "leveled up".

If you haven't played a video game RPG, in many of them, you fight battles or do other things to gain experience so that your character can "level up". Upon leveling up, you often gain more power or learn a special skill that will help you advance in the game. 

It just feels like something has clicked in the past couple weeks where I can run faster and better. There has been a gradual improvement over the past couple months for certain, but things just seem to be falling into place lately. A few examples:

Running negative splits without specifically setting out to do so.
Running faster with the same perceived effort.
Actively seeking out and attacking hills.
Running with more powerful strides.

I am really looking forward to racing at the Open Door Julie Run on June 9. It is one of my favorite races for several reasons, my little girl is going to run and do great, and I hope to crush it. One of my previous posts mentioned that I have been feeling competitive lately and nothing has changed. I am setting my goals really high for this one. I intend to best 22 minutes and I intend to place in my age group and don't think I will be satisfied with much less.

There are plenty of people both much faster and slower than me, but this is where I am now and these are my goals. I can let work and everything else wear me down or I can focus, rise above and accomplish things that looked so far away just a over a year ago. There is no pressure to meet anyone's expectations but my own when I run, and that is liberating.
  • Have you met or exceeded your goals lately?
  • When you meet a goal, do you take time to celebrate and appreciate it or do you immediately set new ones?
  • Can one have high expectations without creating excessive pressure on oneself?

Monday, May 21, 2012

So Proud of You

Lil' C completed her Couch to 5k Training and I am very proud of her. Despite a lot of complaining about various things nearly every time we went out to run, she did everything that was asked of her and did a great job. I think she feels a sense of accomplishment and that was what we were going for. And to celebrate her efforts, 4 year old Lil' C will sing her bigger self a song:

I think that is a pretty good song for a 4 year old to make up off the top of her head. It had structure, a chorus and everything. I am very proud of you too C! You can do anything you want to do with some effort and perseverance. You will do great at the race and we love you! Awwwwwwwwww.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Do the Shuffle

While in my mind I post on this blog at least 3 or 4 times a week, I don't come close to doing that and I haven't posted in over a week. Since the last post, I ran the Sylvan Shuffle 5k.

I put this one on my schedule early because, last year, it was the first time I ever got a trophy for running. I didn't race fast enough to "deserve" to win anything, but it was very encouraging regardless.

 And here it is!

This year, it was unlikely that I would win a trophy because instead of giving age group trophies for adults, they only had them for the top 3 men and women overall. (The kids had tons of trophies - darn kids). I got there a little early (as usual) and sized up the competition, trying to figure out if I could place 3rd or better overall. While it isn't accurate to judge an individual by their looks, you can often tell if you are facing trained runners or not. There were quite a few people who appeared to be good runners. 

I shouldn't expect to place overall at any race and it is presumptuous that I should expect to place in anything at all, but I have been feeling quite competitive lately, both against myself and other people. I'm not good enough to feel that way, but it is what it is. :)

As the race got underway, I felt pretty good and finished the first mile under 7 minutes (probably the first in a race as an adult). The second mile I slowed a bit but I recovered for the 3rd mile and change, finishing in 22:50, a PR and about 5 minutes faster than last year. I didn't come close to finishing in the top 3. The official results have not yet been posted, but I'm guessing I was somewhere around 12 - 15th overall. I think I placed in my age group, but still don't know if I did yet. 


Lil' C has one more training run left to complete her "Couch to 5K" training. She has done two 30 minute runs and has one left. She's done very well and I am proud of her (as always).

We still have 3 weeks until her "Big Race" (Open Door Julie Run 5k), so we'll need to improvise a plan to keep her ready. We might try a "practice race" next weekend. Maybe Mom and J-Man can make some signs and cheer us on and we can a race in the neighborhood.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Crazy Idea for a Sub 20 Minute 5k -or- I Want It All and I Want It Now

Not sure why I am thinking about running a sub 20 minute 5k when my best race time is 23:18. Maybe it’s just because it has been a goal of mine ever since I started running again. I figure that if I can run that fast in that race, I will place in my age group in age group in nearly every local race and should finish in the top 5% of the “bigger races”.  My other fascination with the 20 minute 5k is that I will consider myself back to “high school” shape. That’s pretty big since high school was nearly 20 years ago.

My race times have gradually improved over time. I ran about 32 minutes at my “untrained” 5ks in 2008 and 2009. I ran 28:10 at the Brooksie Way 5k in 2010. In 2011, I went from 29:57 for my first 5k to a 24:38 best. This year, I’ve done 24:01, 23:18 and 24:30 (Like Milli Vanilli, I “Blame It On The Rain”) and am really hoping to go sub 23 this Saturday.

I’m pretty confident I will get to sub 20 minute 5k and faster eventually, but I want it sooner rather than later. So I have hatched a plot that is goofy and probably won’t work. Here’s the setup: Right now, I can’t run a 20 minute 5k, no matter how good the effort (see the above race times as Exhibit A). I’m not even sure if I can run 2 miles at a 20 minute 5k pace (6:26 per mile). However, I’m fairly confident I can run one mile at that pace (that is even an assumption; I haven’t really done it yet).
So, the plan is simply that I will start by running a mile at 6:26 pace (If unable to do so, I will run a half mile at this pace). I will do this at least weekly and each time attempt to add a quarter mile to the run while maintaining that pace. At the end of approximately 13 weeks, I should be doing the entire distance in less than 20 minutes in training and, therefore, should be able to do that in a race as well.
I never read anything like this in any training manual and have no idea if it will really work. The main point is that I really need to make myself do speed work to get faster.  Since my “comeback”, I’ve probably only done a couple days of actual speed work.  The other days I’ve gone “fast” probably qualify more as something akin to “tempo” runs.

I do not dislike speed work, I just never seem to have time to get it in and keep up my mileage to a level I’m comfortable with. I already seem to run fewer miles than most of the runners “at my level” and I am not keen on doing less. I’ve been able to run 4 or 5 times a week lately – 3 have been running solo and 2 have been running with Lil’ C at a reduced pace for her benefit. After working a 10 hour day and being away from home for 11 or 12 during my work week, I just don’t think I have it in me to do speed work during the week. This leaves me Saturday – Monday, but I try to do a “long, easy” run on Saturday and a faster paced, mid distance run on Monday.

I don’t think I’m overly obsessed with time, as I enjoy the vast majority of my time running regardless of pace, but one of my main goals is to get faster. “I want it all and I want it now” is how the Queen song goes, and it is often how I feel. However, I am proud of the progress I have made in terms of speed, stamina, endurance, weight loss and overall health and it has been hard-earned. The effort has been part of the reward. If it came “cheaply”, I probably wouldn’t appreciate it as much.

I Want It All
So… I am going to start my crazy plan and see where it takes me. If not effective, I will try to do a more normal speed work program, or at least incorporate it into something closer to a standard plan. We’ll see what happens….

What is your big goal?

Have you had to make changes to your training that you initially resisted, but ended up working out for the better?

Are you obsessed with “time” to the point that it makes running less enjoyable, do you have a “healthy” relationship with time, or do you just not care that much and “whatever happens, happens”?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Meat and Potatoes

Had a good run this morning despite getting poured on from about mile 1 to 4 of a 6.1 mile run. It was may fastest training run at that distance (52 min) and my second fastest paced 6+ mile run ever. Despite going "fast", I really didn't push myself that hard until the last half mile.

Another notable item of the past week included a Saturday run at the Pontiac Lake Rec Area Mountain Bike Trail. While the pace I ended up with (just over 11 min / mile) doesn't sound too impressive, this was my best run ever on this course, which is extremely hilly and rocky. I highly recommend this course if you are looking for a challenge.

Also, Lil' C's training continues to go well. She has completed week 7 of the Couch to 5k program which involved 3 runs the past week of 25 minutes straight. She's got two more weeks of the program left where she will run 28 minutes 3 times and 30 minutes thrice. After that, we'll need to improvise before the Open Door Julie Run 5k on June 9.

The next race I have planned is next Saturday at the Sylvan Shuffle. I felt like I "needed" to do this race because this was the first race ever where I "won" something, in this case a trophy for a third place finish last year. It was a great confidence booster. Besides that, it is a nice course and a nice, local race. I hope to cut at least 4 minutes off my time from last year (5 would be better).

I was going to post more, but this is will work as a meat and potatoes type post. My next one will be about my crazy idea about how to train to do a 5k in under 20 minutes!