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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Training commences

I guess when you train with a group - and a real training plan - marathon work starts a lot earlier. We're already getting started building our base for Houston in January!

Track Tuesday was the beginning of longer workouts, and it was amazing - because despite rain early in the workout, the weather turned out gorgeous. It was the first time I've run in weather under 80F in months!
(This weather prediction lied. It was 96 on Wednesday.)
We were doing 6x1000m at 6:45 with 2-3 minute jog, so the easy pace and ample rest felt good, too. The only problem occurred when my group switched pacers - I can pace pretty well on the track, but Paige is newer to track and struggled to get the pace right. After a rep at 6:50 and one at 7:00 (!), I was forced to take the leader spot over again. After the 1000ms, we finished with 4x150m strides with a walk-back rest after each one. Altogether, we ran 6 miles plus 3 in warm up and cool down. Then we enjoyed some of the beautiful sunset:


Hopefully the combination of longer, slower reps plus leg-turnover-encouraging strides will get me ready for a fast race in January!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

On the schedule: Houston!

In response to overwhelming peer-pressure, I registered for the Chevron Houston Marathon in January.

My running group, the Powermilers, is competing as a team, and that means that a huge group of friends will be going (I think maybe 20 of us are running). I jumped on the bandwagon for a few reasons:

  • Our team coach? president? all around good guy? (and also my acupuncturist) Jimi offered to write a group raining plan, and it makes sense for me to be doing the same race as everyone else (or at least a race on the same weekend). 
  • After two marathons in which the final miles were basically solitary non-confinement, I miss the crowds (both spectators and runners) like I had at Twin Cities. Especially as a women, big races are helpful: at my pace, I'll have plenty of people around me at all times. This won't hold as true for faster guys, but it does for my finishing times. I might get some help pacing that way!
  • Houston is pretty close, and flights are cheap.
  • I already registered for RnR New Orleans, like I do almost every year, but that stupid race is in MARCH. It will be 80 degrees here in March. I'll take a shot at Houston in January and hope for the best.
This is pretty long-term planning for me! Got any winter races on your schedule already?


Monday, August 14, 2017

Weekend recap

My weekend was delightfully laid back! It looked like this:
School: Just some studying while I watched the track and field championships. I'm so excited to only have one test left!
So, these championships: Obviously I'm loving our steeplechasers, especially our women and their 1-2 finish. And I'm really excited to see Torie Bowie kicking butt and getting better. She gets credit for the 4x100 relay, too. Things I'm not so thrilled about include NBC's egregious ignoring of Paul Chelimo's 5000m bronze - they did not even mention his name until going into commercial break, and here is a man who has served his country twice, both in the U.S. Army and representing us as a runner - and our men's 4x100 relay finish. Silver was weak. And I'm in camp Gatlin-is-a-drug-using-cheat.
Long run splits
Partying: Saturday night was a surprise birthday party for Dave, a member of my running group. His wife did a great job planning his party: for one thing, the "surprise" was that she told him an hour before the party that they were having a huge birthday blowout. So it was nice and easy for the guests. Surprise parties stress me out! And she is also a great cook, so the food was delicious. The only problem was the timing: late nights with wine don't bode well for long runs early the next day.
Running: I really need to get a grip on my weekend running, or really my running schedule altogether. Right now I'm taking either Thursday or Friday off, but I'm doing my more intense strength/weights that day. That's leaving me sore for the weekend, and then I feel obligated to take advantage of the available time on the weekend and run long both Saturday and Sunday. But it's hurting the quality. Saturday I did ten miles, mostly easy, but I threw in two sets of 5xhills, with full recovery after each set. It was brutally hot and humid, and I came home with the kind of drenched exhaustion I'd normally feel after a hard workout. I think I overdid it. Sunday morning I was slightly hungover, dehydrated, tired from Saturday, and sore from Friday, so yes, that long run sucked.
Soon after we started running, our pace starting to drop to the 7-teens and 7:20's. At our first water stop, I told the rest of the group to expect me to be back of them: I just can't - and shouldn't - run my long runs at that pace. I dropped down to 7:40's instead. My overall pace for the 14 miles was 7:46, and I'm fine with that. I generally like my long runs to be a lot faster than many people run them, but no faster than 30 seconds over marathon pace. Seven-forty-five is exactly 30 seconds over my current race pace. Of course, when I got home, I realized that I had clocked a 9:20 first mile, which was in no way accurate: I'd forgotten to stop my watch when I reached our meet-up spot (in reality, I booked it to the park, because I was running late!). So my overall pace was actually off - too fast. Still, an improvement over some of the 7:30 long runs we've logged, although I did miss having company!
Chores: You don't really need to hear about me cleaning my house, do you? No, I didn't think so. But I did repaint some frames for my dining room. I bought these rather beautiful gray frames, which you can see here:
This is actually a watercolor I did for my brother,
but it's the same frame - they were buy one, get one
free, so I bought four. 

But in my dining room, gray didn't work. There were too many dark woods and no other gray. It was too light, and there were too many wood colors happening in one space. So I repainted the frames, and also moved them to the higher shelf on our mantle, and I like it much better.
Now the frames pick up the color of the Japanese screen and
the fireplace - both a brick red color.

And that's about the extent of my artistic endeavors this week. Some weeks I'm just not that creative!
How was your weekend? What are your highs and lows of the championships?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

My cadence is crap

I did this brief foray into Strava this Spring, and while I ultimately deleted the account, it did have some useful features.

One thing I've noticed (besides the hilarity that is the elevation here: I'll run ten miles and only see elevation go up or down 1 foot!) is that my cadence is TERRIBLE. Like, so bad. If 180 is the goal, I'm nowhere near. I'm usually under 170!
Now, for my tempo run last week, I hit 179 at 6:50 pace, so maybe it's mostly speed related. Maybe my slow-down-and-speed-up steps when I stop and start affect my average (it does seem like runs where I stop a lot have a lower cadence). But if that's the case, wouldn't other peoples' cadence show the same thing? And I can see their cadence on Strava, and everyone else is much closer to 180 (some are over 180!).

By the way, once I deleted Strava, I can view the same data on Garmin Connect, like this run from Saturday: it's a typical moderately-easy 8 minute pace run, but my cadence is just 168. It does seem - although maybe I'm looking at this wrong - that my cadence is worst at the beginning of the run. Do I just need to find my groove?


So, what should I do about this? Does it really matter? Does higher cadence correlate with faster race times? Will taking more steps help me stay healthy?

Has anyone ever increased their cadence? How did you do it? Did you notice an improvement in time or decrease in injury?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Track torrents

Was the rain done? Could I actually run NOT in ankle-deep water?
Ah, no. Not at all.
David stuffing my shoes with paper for me
Our Tuesday track was at Pontiff playground, which, interestingly enough, Jefferson Parish purposefully floods during rainstorms, with pumps dumping into its bowl of green space. It was dry enough for track by Tuesday night, though - for a minute. Two reps into our 6x800, it started raining, and by rep three, we were sliding in mud on the cinder track. I was working with Paige, and we agreed to complete our last two reps on the roads, but that was barely better: my shoes have little traction, and again, we were sloshing through ankle-deep water. Our pace suffered!

We could have done a few more reps, but we called it at six: the minimum the workout called for. I was just sick of it. I'm at the point where all of my shoes are soaking wet!

Today we started building a base for upcoming marathon training. Most of the group is doing a winter marathon, and at present we're looking at evaluating our fitness to ensure our paces and goals make sense. Then we'll start training in earnest. I just hope I can stay healthy for the duration.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Weekend happenings and floodings

Last week was crazy for both me and David. I can't believe how much work piles up in just two days off! We both headed into work with plates full, and my week was complicated by a personnel issue (what else is new?) and the first of the month - always the busiest day in pharmacy. Then I also had a test for school and a couple of evening work events, so we hit the weekend exhausted!

I got on the road a little late Saturday, but I managed ten easy miles anyway. I didn't want anything hard, because I did a workout Friday night (it should have been Thursday morning, but I had my test schedule for Thursday at 6 am! And then I woke up too late Friday to fit it in before work). So Saturday was a warm 8+ min mile ten miler - no hills, no strides, no anything with any particular effort.

After that sweaty run, I cleaned the house, then entertained my friend Celeste for some afternoon cheese and wine. Celeste is a busy neurology resident, and hasn't been running much, which makes me sad. I miss running with her! She biked over from her place in the Marigny, and got caught in pouring rain, but since the rain had stopped while she was at our house, she decided to bike back. We offered to give her a ride, because we were actually going the same way since we had plans in the French Quarter, near her house, but she likes to bike and declined. She biked off, and we left shortly after - only to realize that every neighborhood besides ours was flooding! The rain had started again, and we were actually close to flooding in our car. We managed to navigate out of the water, but David's bumper got swept off in rushing water! We realized when we got home that many other neighborhoods flooded badly. Celeste got home safely, but in double the normal time, and water was thigh-high on her in some places!
See more, with video, at http://wgno.com/2017/08/05/widespread-flooding-hits-new-orleans-saturday-afternoon/
See slideshow here 

We ended up rescheduling our Saturday night plans (visiting my college roommate) for Sunday, and got Thai takeout and watched an episode of Endeavor instead. I rarely watch TV, but this series is so good!

Sunday, I hesitantly joined the rest of the Power Milers for our long run. The ground was soggy, but the forecast claimed a 0% chance of rain, so we'd be fine...right?
Nope. I and eight or nine others endured pouring rain for the majority of the 12 mile loop (14 for me, since I run to and from the start), and I was pretty miserable. I usually don't mind running in the rain, but I was kind of over the weather at this point, and my contacts kept getting dislodged. A new girl has joined us, Morgan, a speedy athlete and former swimmer for Tulane. I felt so bad that this was her first group long run experience! She was a trouper, though. Our loop circles almost the whole city, and parts were still flooded, with cars and garbage all over. Some of these neighborhoods have flooded over and over, unfortunately.


Waterlogged feet

Since we start at 6, I had plenty of time to make a pancake breakfast before church. But our walk to church was a deluge, too! Finally, the rain cleared in time for lunch. We agreed to meet my college roommate, Bekah, for lunch on Frenchman. I was glad she and her family squeezed me in to their vacation plans. I almost never see her, and I got to meet her little baby girl finally, who is named after me!
Roomies! 

Once we were back home, I finished up some chores and did some cooking, but I also squeezed in some time for track and field Worlds while "studying" (more or less. The book was open). It was nice to get some relaxation time in this weekend! We've just been on the go too much.

How was your weekend? Has your summer been dry, or a wet one like mine? 


Friday, August 4, 2017

Celebrating ten years in Denver

David and I decided to take a quick (Wednesday night - Saturday afternoon) trip to Denver to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary.
Yeah, ten. I can't believe it's been that long. I swear we JUST got married! We aren't the spring chickens we used to be, but we are still madly in love, so we thought a little celebration was in order.
Look at that cutie, all happy to be married. 

We picked Denver because we thought it would be a nice break from the hot weather here in Louisiana, and because there are direct flights from MSY. Ain't nobody got time for layovers.

The trip was short, but we had a great time. We spent the first day at Rocky Mountain National Park, which is the only part of the trip of which we took pictures. There was a brief period of rain, but it was while we were in the car anyway, so for the rest of the day we had some beautiful views of the park.

Snow in July! 

At 12,000+ feet - which feels pretty rough for us, since we live at 32 below sea level! 

The next day we did a tour of the state capitol (one of my favorite things to do when I travel), had brunch, explored some of the shopping areas in downtown Denver, and then had an afternoon beer flight at a brewery. Since Friday was our actual anniversary, we celebrated with a lovely dinner at Rioja, located in the cute Larimer Square. Our dinner was delicious: the entire meal was incredible (and I loved the deep magenta tempranillo we selected to go with it), but my favorite part was the dessert. We split a goat cheese and fennel panna cotta with fresh cherry compote and sorbet. It was incredibly good. The fennel was dried and sugared and added a piquant contrasting crunch to the creamy panna cotta. Just amazing.
And a card from the waitstaff!
We were flying out Saturday, but we had time for the Denver Art Museum and lazy glasses of wine on the hotel patio (leftover from the night before - we couldn't handle a whole bottle!). We stayed at the Art, which David picked because of my enjoyment of Art, and I loved some of the little perks they offered, like complimentary ride service within 2 miles of the hotel (they dropped us off at the rental car place Thursday so we could get a car to drive to the park - quite convenient).

I did go running while I was in Denver, and it was 15 degrees cooler with super low humidity. It felt heavenly, even at altitude (since I live BELOW sea level, going up a mile is tough). Cheeseman park is a mile from our hotel, so we ran there on Friday and Saturday. I always like running in new places, and the park had a pea gravel and dirt path that was an interesting change of surface.

And now I'm back and somehow SO far behind at work. How does that happen? I only took two days off! Crazy! But it was worth it to get away!