November 29, 2005
Having Left You All in Suspense, I'm Sure...
...let's catch up.
When I last wrote, I was contemplating the upcoming weekend and trying to decide how to incorporate my fast running for the week. I did ultimately run Fresh Pond--I always prefer that to tempo runs on my own. It was an incredibly cold day and, for a while, it seemed that not too many people were going to show up--just me and the old-timers. Eventually, we got a group of about 40 people, but not too many women. So I pretty much ran in no-woman's-land from the half-mile mark on. I wasn't really in contact with anyone for the rest of the race; combined with the fact that I went out in 6:23, which was a little fast for me, it pretty much felt like the longest 2.5 miles of my life. But I ran 16:08, which is 40 seconds faster than I ran in early September and is only 7 seconds slower than my Fresh Pond post-collegiate PR (I probably ran faster than 16:01 there when I was in college, but I didn't keep track then.). I was just happy to get the effort in and it made me feel pretty good about my conditioning as I looked ahead to the race I'd signed up for (with my whole family) on Thanksgiving. I started thinking about a time goal for that race and thought that maybe 20:40 wouldn't be too unreasonable for a 5K on the road.
Until I hit a roadblock.
The Tuesday after the Fresh Pond race (after a 9.5-miler on Sunday and 5-miler on Monday), I went out for a run. Right away, my right hip and both hamstrings really hurt and my shins felt incredibly tight. Since these were the initial symptoms of last fall's bursitis in my hip, I turned around after a mile. I felt I was probably being over-cautious, but decided that my primary goal was getting to the starting line of the Thanksgiving race as healthy as possible. Unfortunately, it turned out that I wasn't being overly cautious--I ended up having to take three days completely off that week and did no more speed before the race. However, this did mean that I showed up to race on Thanksgiving pain-free with only a little bit of tightness here and there in my legs. Naturally, at this point, I'd re-evaluated my time goal; the new plan was to break 21:00 and to pick off as many women as I could throughout the race.
I'll save my race report for my next entry to keep this one from getting too long. Plus, if I'm going to get my run in before class, I better get moving. So I'm leaving you in suspense again...=)
November 10, 2005
Hamstring Exercises, Anyone?
One of the reasons I love having a blog about my running is that it keeps me honest. As promised in my last entry, I did my long run the very next day (Tuesday). I went out and ran 10 miles in Newton, which means that I finally ran all of the hills in Heartbreak Hill in one run. I was really happy because the run felt really good. There was a strong headwind coming from the west, which meant that I had it in my face for the first 4-5 miles. But I actually think that that was a good thing, because it made me wary of starting at too fast a pace. One of the things about doing these Newton loops is that I'm always nervous that one of these days I'm going to get injured or feel like crap and be unable to keep running just when I'm at the point when I'm farthest from home. That's one of the reasons I like eastbound loops toward downtown Boston--if something goes wrong, then I can always jump on an outbound Green Line train for free and get home. But the Newton loops are definitely nicer and I can get off pavement for miles, which is always preferable.
Since Tuesday was Election Day, I decided to incorporate a visit to the polls into the end of my run. Fortunately for me (but not for the city), the polling place was not crowded when I got there (about 12:30 PM), so I was able to zip in, vote, and zip out before my sweat could dry and I could get chilled. I did feel a little bad for sweating all over my ballot, though. The cop at the polling place was quite amused by me--not only was I breathless and sweaty, I think that I might have been the youngest person by 40-50 years to vote there in hours!
Yesterday, I spent the day in my hometown of Hingham, hanging out with my mom. We had plans to check out a local yoga studio, shop, and have lunch. Since I was supposed to meet her at the house at 10:45 AM, I woke up at 6:00 AM to drive A. to work so that he could work out at his company's gym and so that I could have the car all day. Then I drove directly to the grocery store--which is so much easier to deal with at 7:30 AM! I drove the groceries home, unpacked them and put them away, scarfed down a bowl of cereal, fruit, and a vitamin, before running out the door again to do a few more errands before heading down to Hingham. I was wearing running clothes since I was hoping that I would get to Hingham well before 10:45 and I could then squeeze in my run plus a shower. Since I wanted to do about 6 miles, this meant that I had to get to Hingham by 9:15, especially if I wanted to be able to stretch. Which I did. Very much. I was definitely feeling my 10-miler from the day before.
Unfortunately, I underestimated my errand-running as well as the traffic (even though it really wasn't that bad) and didn't make it there until 9:40. My mom took one look at me and asked, "Did you run already?" To which I explained that I hadn't, but I hoped to--if we didn't have to leave the house by 10:45, I could do it right then or it could wait until after we got back from shopping, etc. "But," I warned her, "if I put it off, then I'm not changing out of my running clothes and I'm going shopping like this. Because if I change, then I might let myself be lazy and not run." Now my mom generally views the car as a gift sent by God so that we humans wouldn't have to do crazy things like run, but she also understands that my running is very important to me. Plus, I think she preferred that I not hang out with her all day in running tights and a big Patriots sweatshirt! So off I went.
I ran 6 mi. in 47:08--it was about 53 degrees and breezy, but the sun was still out then, so it was pretty nice. My legs were fairly stiff and sore from my first 10-miler in well over a year, but they hung in there. My hamstrings were, and are, particularly achy. Does anyone out there in blogger-land have any suggestions for hamstring exercises? I want to be sure that I'm definitely targeting them and strengthening them. The exercises I do now focus on other muscle groups (hip flexors, glutes, etc.) and strengthening the hamstrings is sort of a secondary effect. So I'd love any suggestions from anyone who knows any specifically hamstring strengthening exercises.
Today was my alternative training day at the gym: 30 minutes on the elliptical with stretching and core strengthening. I definitely didn't work as hard on the elliptical this week as I did last week; I read this past Sunday's Boston Globe magazine and just went nice and easy. I'm getting a little bored with the elliptical--I might try aquajogging next week. The gym's recreational pool actually has a section with a "lazy river," a kind of kidney-shaped track about 3-ft. deep with a current that you can run against. I think I might try doing my old drill workout in the water, too. I'm just a little afraid to get back in there--the last time I used the lazy river, my calves were screaming for a week since running in the shallow water makes me bounce up and down on my toes. As an inveterate "heel striker" when running on dry land, I have pretty wimpy calf muscles compared to the "toe runners" I know and those wimpy muscles are certainly tested in the lazy river!
Tomorrow I'm planning just an easy 4-miler and then I'm trying to decide what to do with my weekend. I can't decide how I want to get my fast running in on Saturday. Plain old tempo run? Hills? Fresh Pond race? Fartlek run? Intervals on a track? Hmmm...so many choices.
November 7, 2005
Mental Victories and Defeats
This weekend, A. and I went to New York to visit his parents and attend his uncle's 70th birthday party. And I ran on both Saturday and Sunday, even accomplishing a speed workout on Saturday. This is quite the mental victory for me, since we're always so busy on these family trips and end up staying up way too late talking and exchanging the tsismis ("gossip" in Tagalog, the language of the Philippines) that we've saved up since the last time we were all together. This trip was no different; I just refused to compromise on the fact that I had to get my run in both days. So I was pretty happy about that.
When we go to New York, A. and I always leave Boston late--around 8:00 PM--in order to avoid all traffic. This way, the trip generally takes 3-3.5 hours, rather 4-4.5 hours (and yes, we drive a little fast). Because A. had a meeting in downtown Boston until 9:30 PM, we didn't leave until then, so we didn't get to New York until around 12:30 PM. But my mother-in-law had just returned from the Philippines that evening, so it felt like the middle of the day to her. So we all stayed up until 3:00 AM or so, hearing all about her travels and the family members that still live outside Manila. By the time we crawled into bed, I promised myself that I would be up and running before noon. We had plans to meet up with A.'s brother and his family in Manhattan, so I had to have my run done for the day before we had to leave.
Surprisingly enough, A. and I woke up around 8:30 AM, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. It's funny how sometimes a late night can just kill me the next day and sometimes I can just roll with it. I was lucky that this was one of those roll-with-it days. I jogged over to Cunningham Park in Queens and ran loops on the grass around the park. It was pretty busy with lots of little boys playing baseball, soccer, and football and their apparent legions of fans watching. It's such a wonderful and, at the same time, sobering thing that youth sports have become so serious--but that's another topic for another day.
I ran 5-4-3-2-1 hard with recoveries of 3-2:30-2-1 in between. And it felt hard. I think that I may have been going a little harder than I intended since I felt under pressure to finish this workout as quickly as possible and wanted to get in as much mileage possible in the time allotted so that A. and I could devote ourselves to a fun, relaxing day in the city. I am enjoying the fact, however, that a hard workout just feels hard because I'm challenging myself and not because I'm so out of shape and not used to running fast. I am feeling more and more like I've got my legs under me again. I ran just over 53 minutes for about 6.5 miles.
On Sunday, I had really wanted to get a long run in (about 8-9 miles for me, right now), but there was just no time. After staying up until midnight or so on Saturday night, my sleep deprivation definitely caught up with me, so I just slogged through 4 miles and tried to be contented with getting out the door at all. We had stayed up to watch "The Interpreter" with my father-in-law (my mother-in-law tried valiantly to stay awake, but she was no match for the jet lag). It was incredibly interesting to watch this movie with him since it is set in the UN and he used to work there, first as an assistant to the Philippine ambassador and then for the UN directly as an investigator for many years.
This morning I meant to get back on schedule by doing my long run today, but I was still feeling ridiculously tired and I needed to get to school to meet with my advisor. So I ran a 3-mile loop around the Chestnut Hill reservoir and promised myself that I'd get my long run tomorrow. I will, I will!
Unfortunately, I was in New York all weekend and was unable to get to any of the marathon festivities--I had hoped that our schedule would allow us to see the photo exhibit, go to the expo, and see the marathon itself, but it was a no-go on any of it. Oh well. I was able to see the beginning of the women's race through the first 10 miles before I had to get ready to go to A.'s uncle's party. I was impressed with my father-in-law who chose the women's winner from the very beginning!
OK, I should really be in bed, so off I go!
November 3, 2005
It's not that I've been so busy that I don't have time to blog--it's that I've been so busy that, by the time I am able to sit down to blog, I'm too tired to actually do it. I'm loving everything that I'm doing--school, internship, running--but it's definitely wiping me out at the end of the day!
But my running has been going well. I felt a little more sluggish after my down week than I expected; I had hoped to feel rested and bouncy (but then, don't we all?). But I still feel that the down week was the right thing. It was pushing too hard too soon that got me into trouble last fall and I'm determined not to repeat those mistakes. Otherwise, I'm really encouraged by my progress this week.
The highlights: Saturday, I ran in the snow with A. on a somewhat bizarre errand. A. works in marketing for a certain quick-service restaurant (read: fast food) and thus often has to do research on other QSRs. So our run had to, at some point, swing by a particular QSR so that we could check out their offerings, prices, and how they present it. Kinda weird, I know. Here I am, a future mental health clinician and running coach with interests in health psychology and behavioral medicine and my husband is part of one of the forces behind our nation's obesity and heart disease epidemics. A. says that it's by being married to me that he's hoping to avoid hell. =) I don't know about that...still, it was fun to try out a new route and I loved the weird looks that we got from customers and workers alike as we came into the restaurant--"what are two runners with no money coming in here for and just looking around?"
Sunday, I ran 8 miles, my longest run yet. Yay! And on Tuesday, I went back to the Brookline Reservoir and repeated the workout that I did on October 15th--3 x 1 lap (1 lap = .921 mi.) It was, of course, a beautiful Indian summer day but HOT. I couldn't believe that I was running in a sports bra and shorts only 2 days after running in snow. But, hey, that's New England weather. It was also incredibly windy--at times I felt like I was hardly moving when running into the headwind. When, out of desperation, I asked the wind permission to pass, it either ignored me or took it as a signal to kick it up a notch. I'm surprised that I wasn't blown right into the reservoir!
Still, it was a good workout. The last time I ran this workout, I ran 6:23, 6:09, and 6:02 with loose recovery times of 3:00-4:00. This time, I managed a 6:03, 5:52, and 5:55 and my recovery times were exactly 3:00 each. I warmed up for 14:00 and cooled down for 16:10 to make it 48:00 total, about 6 miles. So I felt really good about this effort and it confirmed my feeling that I've been doing things right so far. I'm not generally a paranoid or pessimistic person, but I am feeling like I'm looking over my shoulder a little bit for the Injury Monster or something. Things were going well like this last fall (albeit under more mileage and no alternative training and little core strengthening) when my hip and foot formed a conspiracy and decided to rebel together.
I'm really into personifying inanimate objects and concepts tonight, huh?
Today was pretty low-key. I went to the gym and risked getting caught on the elliptical for more than 30 minutes (a gym no-no) and ellipticalled for 45 min. For once, I actually worked hard enough to get my heartrate up a little. I often feel like I'm doing the equivalent of junk miles on the elliptical and that the effort I put into ellipticalling is hardly worth the effort it takes to get myself to the gym. But I think I'm finally getting the hang of it.
And it's on for Thanksgiving Day! It looks like all of my siblings plus my husband and brother-in-law will be running at my high school's Turkey Trot. I'm so excited--this will be a lot of fun. I found out that my brother's fastest time for 2.5 miles this season was a 16:51 and I ran a 16:48 at Fresh Pond...so it is ON! I have very little of Audrey's compunction about her desire to beat her brothers. As far as I'm concerned, the little punk is going down!
OK, I'm just kidding. I do think my brother-in-law is going to kick all our butts, though. He ran a 4:30-something mile in high school and I'm pretty sure that he has enough inborn talent to finish a good two minutes ahead of me. On no training. After smoking a cigarette at the starting line. Jerk. =)