Thursday, June 23, 2011

New Training Routine

Though I have completed more than 20 half marathons, I'm not good at training. Let me clarify -- I'm very good at getting in the weekly long-distance mileage, I'm horrible at getting in the mid-week speed workouts.

So this year, because I am only doing a couple of halves, I decided to follow an intermediate training schedule as closely as possible and see what it does for my speed.

So far this week, I finished 8 X 400s as fast as possible, one 45-min "easy" day and tonight I did 3 X 1 mile at half marathon pace. Tonight's workout was difficult because 1) I had never done 1-mile intervals before, 2) I wasn't quite sure what half marathon pace would feel like if I wasn't in a race. I'm assuming that by the time the race rolls around, I will know exactly what my race pace feels like.

My splits were 13:04, 12:55 and 12:50. I'm so excited that I got faster for each split. The other cool thing is, I have done half marathons in that pace range.

I missed one "easy" day this week due to rain and I'll miss another easy day tomorrow because I have tickets to a concert. But I think I can make that up -- it's still early.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

8 X 400 -- Kinda

It was raining when I got off work yesterday, so I didn't go to the high school to do my 8 X 400s. In fact, I was expecting to not do them at all. But it was fairly early when the rain stopped and I decided to act like an adult and follow my training plan.

I haven't measured out 400 m in my neighborhood, but I know it took me a little more than 3 min for each lap last Monday. So, I went to the cul de sac across the street from my house, picked a starting point and walked as hard as I could for 3 min. I made a mark in the mud near the curb, then walked easy for two more minutes as a rest. As it turns out, that got me back to my front yard where I could grab a swig of water and do it all over again.

Most of the eight laps were progressively faster and I zoomed past that first mud mark. Unfortunately, I had two laps where I just could not pick up the speed, but that's OK.

To tell the truth, I preferred doing intervals in my neighborhood as opposed to on a track. There is something about walking around a track that can be mentally tough for me. OK, it is just plain boring. Of course walking around the cul de sac was boring too, but for some reason I was able to keep going.

Regardless, though I'm not a fan of intervals, I will try to keep them up this entire training season.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Kill the Hill

Saturday, the Buckeye Striders took a road trip to Chillicothe to walk with our good friend Pat and her new walking friends. The park we started in near the Adena Mansion was beautiful!

As we went along, we enjoyed walking through the town seeing the local neighborhoods. The people out in their yards were so friendly and all greeted us. It was very fun. But I should have been a little worried when the nice lady in her front yard asked, "Are you going to 'kill the hill?'"

Not sure what she said I just agreed and said "yeah" as we walked by. If I had really been paying attention, I would have been worried.

Shortly after, we turned a corner and caught sight of "the hill". Oh my goodness it was big!

We all tried to attack it in a smart way. All of us slowed -- some of us slowed a LOT! The walkers from Chillicothe were not nearly as fazed as the rest of us. And it wasn't until we were halfway up that we heard the stories about the very challenging race called Kill the Hill.

I found the hill so challenging, I started walking backward. (It sounds silly, but it does help because you are working your muscles just a little differently.) And at the top it did take a little while for us to recover.

The funny thing was, after the grueling hill, the locals got a little turned around. They weren't quite sure what the best way to get back to our cars was and we ended up with a couple of short backtracks and walking for nearly 20 min longer than we had expected.

The good news is, many of us had 6 miles scheduled for Saturday and we walked 5 -- with the hill I think we were even. Unfortunately, several were not acclimated and had not expected the extra mile. They were having a little difficulty.

But once we got to iHop and were able to relax and eat, we were fine!

Thanks to the Chillicothe members of the Buckeye Striders for hosting a fun walk and breakfast meeting! I'm sure we'll be back -- though I think we can skip the hill next time.

Monday, June 13, 2011

First Day of Half Marathon Training

Today was my first day training for the Parkersburg Half Marathon slated for mid-August.

Though I have trained for and completed a LOT of half marathons, I usually adjust the training schedule to fit my personality. I don't really like doing speed workouts, so I usually replace them with something less challenging. Because one of my goals is to get faster, I plan to include speed workouts in future schedules.

The scheduled workout was 8 X 400 with 2 min rest between each. I recently learned that the local high school track is frequently open for public use, and since lane 1 is 400 meters, I thought it would be worth trying to do these workouts on the track.

I walked to the high school for my warm up, but my shins did not really get warmed up enough. My first lap my shins burned. Though speed was the main purpose, I did try to remember to use proper racewalking form and to push my arms back.

I completed eight laps ranging from 3:02 (the last lap) to 3:09. Not too bad for my first time. The only problem is, doing these types of laps is extremely boring! And this school's track is in such bad shape, it has not hosted a home track meet in two years. (I think that is why the track is open to the public.)

Though it was boring, I know these types of training days are important to be able to build speed. Maybe on future days I can talk some of my Buckeye Strider friends into joining me.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

3 Miles in 95 Degrees

It was pretty hot when I stopped at a park to do 3 miles on my way home tonight. But because of my lack of exercise this week, I knew I needed to get outside and move. And we all know how it goes -- if we don't exercise early, we get distracted and don't do it at all.

The only good thing about exercising in the heat is, I don't have to worry about my speed -- I know I won't be fast so there is no stress when I'm not fast.

So I took it easy and kept my pace at a 15-minute mile. (It was not hard to walk that slow.)

It felt good to move the muscles -- I worked a lot of the stiffness out. And in an odd way, it even felt good to sweat!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Photos -- Warrior Dash

I don't know why I didn't take photos of the cargo-net wall, the planks or the mud pit, but I didn't. So, here are the couple of pictures I have. Unfortunately, my husband insisted he get washed off before we went to get our bags, which had the camera. Oh, well. (I have a good before photo I'll add tomorrow. It's on a different computer.)
The crew after the race. Cathy and Angel finished earlier than us and cleaned up a little. Many of these clothes did not make it home -- they were tossed.

I really thought the helmet would look cuter than this.
The rhinestones on my sunglasses don't help the look at all.

How she could crawl through mud and still be clean, I don't know.

After a race like this, you need a turkey leg.

This is just one of the many piles of shoes collected to give to charity. The volunteer we talked to said they get cleaned and are given to people around the world who need shoes. Hmmm. Not sure I would be thankful to receive any of these pairs.

Monday, June 06, 2011

I Survived the Warrior Dash -- Woo Hoo

(Edited June 7 to add finish times and fix typos.)

Yesterday I completed Ohio's first Warrior Dash and I am a Warrior! (I will not remember all of the obstacles or the order of them, so just bear with me.)

Nestled in the hills (mountains?) of Logan, Ohio, the course was extremely challenging, but I think the obstacles supplied by Mother Nature were worse than anything the Red Frog Company thought up.

The participants start the race in heats of 500 every half hour beginning around 8 a.m. and ending at 7 p.m. We started at 3 p.m., and it was sunny, very hot and very humid. As you cross under the official starting gate, flames shoot from the top of it. It was surprising that being under the gate we could feel the heat from the flames!

The start was a bottleneck as everyone tried to run, but the course immediately funneled to a trail just a few feet wide. Walking and jogging a little bit, we soon hit the first obstacle -- a huge hill, and the trail was covered with several inches of mud. I'm not a strong runner and I knew it was silly to even try to run up hill like my team all did. I think I started walking first, but my husband and our friend Curtis were soon right there with me. (OK, they were way ahead of me, but I caught up since we were all walking.) This hill was grueling -- my heart was pounding, I was gasping for air, it was hot and humid with no air in the trees -- I pretty much was ready to quit. To me, this hill was as horrible as the worst hill in the Big Sur Marathon -- with the addition of several inches of mud.

At some point it flattened out a little, there was a somewhat dry trail, so we (from here on "we" will mean Lenny, Curtis and me) jogged to a bend in the trail, and then just a little farther to the first obstacle. We ran through a bunch of tires hanging from ropes. Easy, it slowed us down, we caught our breath.

More up and down hills and lots of mud.

We came to walls and barbed wired. The walls were about 4 feet high, so they took a little effort to climb over. Between the walls were strings of barbed wire we had to crawl under. Being short, I took a little longer getting over the walls, but I had the advantage going under the wire.

Eventually we came to a water hole. There were logs across the water chained in place so you had to go over them. I anticipated walking through the water, but realized after a step of two I was going to have to swim. Ugh! It is not easy to swim in shoes.

When we got out of the water, my legs felt like lead! And the soggy shoes! The good thing is we got cooled off, we washed the mud off and there was a water stop which we desperately needed. Turns out, this was the halfway point.

As we went along, we climbed over wrecked cars separated by large sections of old tires, then more cars, then more tires.  Somewhere along here was the tunnel of doom which ripped up my knees pretty good. There were bungee-type cords strung through some trees we had to get through at the top of a hill.

The course looped near the starting line to a two-story cargo-net wall. While we were waiting for our heat to start we watched people climb over it and I was a little bit nervous about it. It looks a lot taller when you are standing next to it. I thought -- what will be worse, saying I didn't try or getting to the top and being scared to death. I made it over and Lenny even waited at the top for me to be sure I could get over. 

We jogged a few feet to some planks that went up and down. My knees were so shaky from successfully climbing the cargo net, I thought I would fall off. I ended up having to crawl for part of it. (Oh, well, I got over.) We came to a HUGE wall that required ropes to climb. I was exhausted and couldn't do it. (After the fact, Len said he could have gotten me over, but he was a few steps ahead of me during this part and didn't notice when I was lagging behind.)

There were more cargo nets hung horizontally, we waded through a deep creek, turned the corner and we were at the fire pits. After the creek my legs were heavy, but I ran, leaped over both fire pits, crawled though the mud under more barbed wire, ran the last few yards through several more inches (feet?) of mud and we finished to the cheers of the crowd!

The race was a lot of fun! Some of the obstacles were harder than I would have expected. For example, that final rope wall -- much higher than what I saw on the website and I just didn't have the strength at that point to do it. And there is a real knack to going across horizontal cargo nets -- I don't have the knack. The hills were really horrible -- and I do lots of races that have hills.

Red Frog did a great job with this race. Though many of the obstacles were different from what was advertised, the course had plenty of them. I like the fact we could watch people do the cargo-net wall and the planks while waiting for the start. They also set up the final leg so spectators can watch participants leap over fire and crawl through the mud. The cheers at the end kept me going.

There are a few things I would do differently: 1) work on upper body strength, 2) plan to do it earlier in the day before it was so hot and humid, 3) protect my knees (they are SO scraped up!), 4) zoom ahead of my husband when I had the opportunity, 5) start my annual hill workouts earlier and 6) wear a costume.

Finish times (Added June 7, 2011):
Angel was 47 in his age group with 29:15
Cathy was 36th in her age group with a time of 42:19
I was 61st in my age group with a finish of 58:53
Lenny was 99th in his age with 58:35
Curtis was 101 in the same age with 58:55

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Preparing for Tomorrow's Warrior Dash

Well, the Warrior Dash I have kinda sorta been training for is tomorrow in Southern Ohio. Though I have no illusions that I am really ready, I am excited.

My cousin's son ran the event today. The photos she posted online made it look great. Though I have to admit -- the cargo net wall we have to climb over is a little higher than I had expected. (My hands are already starting to sweat.)

The things that have me worried include the fact that I still cannot run a full mile, even after training for over a month. (I know I could racewalk 10 miles tomorrow if I had to.) Also, I haven't done any upper body strengthening since we signed up. Oops!

So, I'm heading to this race with an overall fitness level that is way above average, with a good attitude, good friends and confidence I will have fun no matter what.

Things I am taking with me:
Shoes to throw away, flip flops to wear after.
A shirt to throw away, a good solid-colored sports bra so I can change my shirt in public.
A hat I don't like.
A gym bag large enough to hold my warrior helmet.
Trash bags, old towels and blankets to cover the seats in Curtis' car.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

4 Miles Today

I went to Griggs Reservoir by myself after work today to get back into the routine of walking in the middle of the week. I'm planning to enter a half marathon in August and that means my training needs to start pretty soon (I also need to do hills).

The temps were in the mid-80s and it felt hot. When I get more acclimated, the mid-80s will not be bad at all, but right now, it made me feel very slow.

In fact, I was somewhat slow and I couldn't get my HR over 142. That's a sign I wasn't moving much. The first mile was 14:46, then I got a little faster at 14:16, 14:23 and 14:20. Not nearly as fast as I've been during our group walks on Saturday mornings.

So, four days in a row I've been walking or jogging. Feeling pretty good.