Saturday, December 31, 2016

Time to "geek-out" on the numbers

Even though I don't train or race at the level that I did a few years ago, I still like to "geek-out" on the stats.   So let's see.....

**Total Run miles - 1219 miles in 2016 -  23 mile per week avg. 
(2015 total run miles - 474 miles- 9 mile per week avg.) 
**Total Walk miles - 132 in 2016 
(2015 total walk miles -99)

2016 Races - 15 races from 2 miles to 26.2 miles

Steam Whistle 12k - 1:05:03 - (8:43 avg) 1-1-16
MS River 13.1 Greenville, MS - 2:00:54 - (9:13 avg) - 2-13-16
Rise & Shine 13.1 Hattiesburg, MS - 1:59:24 (9:04 avg) 4-2-16
OLPS Tomato Fest 5k Chalmette, LA - 26:22 (8:36 avg) 4-10-16
Zydeco 5k Gulf Shores, AL - 26:08 (8:26 avg) 4-16-16
Civitan 5k Hattiesburg, MS - 26:39 (8:34 avg) 5-14-16 (a step back time wise, but this is a rolling hills course, the others were flat)
Greek Fest 5k - New Orleans, LA - 25:37 (8:16 avg) 5-27-16
Bastille Day 2 mile - Braithwaite, LA - 16:01 (8:01 avg) 7-10-16
Oregon Fall Half Marathon - Canby, OR - 1:54:37 (8:44 avg) 9-10-16
Christian Fellowship 5k - Violet, LA - 24:47 (8:08 avg) 10-9-16
Gulf Coast Half Marathon- Mandeville, LA - 5 miles pre-race, 13.1 mile training run. 2:02:22 (9:20 avg) 10-16-16
Stennis Space Center Half Marathon - Stennis Space Center, MS - last training run before St. Jude (1 week) 2:07 (9:39 avg)
St.Jude 26.2 - Memphis, TN 4:12 12-3-16
Ole Man River Half Marathon - New Orleans - (training -run 2 weeks after the St. Jude 26.2 race) 2:08 (9:46 avg) -
Steam Whistle 12k (7.456 miles) - Hattiesburg, MS - 1:03 (8:35 avg) - negative split run

**The Steam Whistle race is normally on Jan. 1st, but this year they changed it to Dec. 31st.  So I start and end the year with this race.  I improved my time by 2 minutes from the first of the year.   This was after running 16 miles on Wed. in hot & humid conditions.  This is a great sign for 2017.  I consider today's race a tempo run by effort and pace.  I'm happy to run this well only 4 weeks after the marathon.  I also ran a negative split race which I always love.  The weather today was FINALLY nice for running.  It was around 50 degrees.  We did have some sprinkles during the race, but that didn't start until around 2 - 2.5 miles.  I'm ok with that.  

**I'm happy with the total mileage in 2016 vs. 2015.  My goal for 2016 was to run a weekly average of 20 miles per week.  I ended with and avg. of 23 miles per week.  The miles came easy for me.  I was pleasantly surprised after the low volume training for the past 3.5 years.  I'm happy the increased mileage came easily in 2016. 

**I ran 15 races and most of these I would consider at "tempo effort."  I've been REALLY cautious about coming back to aggressively.  I want to keep the running and races fun, and my intention is to NOT "all out" race, in most races.   I will continue this strategy for 2017.  I'm happy with the results, especially knowing that I only "raced" a few of the 15 races that I entered this year. 

**It's been intentional to keep my mileage relatively low.  I'm happy with my race times knowing that, for me, to run my best, I need to run higher mileage.   This year, and maybe 2017 (undecided), I had no desire to run high weekly mileage.  I'm thinking as I gradually improve, at some point I may decide to up my mileage a little.   For now, I can add in quality over quantity and still continue to improve for a while. 

** the last month or so, my hip flexors have been giving me some problems.  Specifically, my TFL - tensor fasciae latae.  They don't hurt when I run, but after running and then sitting briefly, the first few steps when I get up hurt.  This week I started icing post run, and heating with a heating pad before the run, and they seem a little better.  It may still be some post marathon soreness, and the heat of this winter doesn't help either.    Since my hip injury in 2013, I've been doing the tedious recommended hip exercises (side lying leg lifts, hip thrusts, etc).  I'm starting to think my recent issues are after I do these exercises.  Ugh !  damned if you do, damned if you don't.  If you have any experience or recommendations, please let me know.   I haven't dealt with this particular issue before.

**The Steam Whistle 12k is typically Jan 1st.  I like that because I feel like I'm starting my year off right.  With the race being Dec. 31st (today), I kind of feel like I'll be starting 2017 off on a lazy note.

2017 Goals 
I have big goals for 2018 and for me to reach those goals, I need a consistent training year, and a little progression in my training (quality or quantity, or a little of both). 
**Perhaps one goal will be to average 25 miles per week, but I haven't decided.  Still not wanting to do high mileage, currently. 
**I would like to get my 5k time down.  I struggle with this because I always want to focus on distance, but when I get my 5k times down, my distance racing improves too.  A win/win !
Currently, I haven't figured out my training or racing for 2017.  To be continued.....

I look forward to reading your 2017 goals.  Perhaps they will help me to solidify my goals.
Happy New Year !
Happy 2017 Running !

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Ole Man River 13.1 - hot running !

Finisher - that's about all I can say for the day.  :)

I signed up for the Ole Man River half marathon last year when the rate was as cheap as many 5ks these days.  Couldn't resist the bargain !  Much later, my plans changed and I decided to run the St. Jude Marathon.  Ole Man River was only 2 weeks post marathon,  so believe me when I say, it was going to be a training run.   The weather was not kind to us !  It was hot with HIGH humidity.  The kind of weather that makes you feel awful for the entire run, even a training run.   I know you are run in this weather all the time, you should be used to it.  I think that too, but somehow, when the body has a few days of cool running, it only wants cool running for a few months.  I was not prepared ! 

My plan all along was to run pretty slow, but as we started the race, almost immediately, I adjusted my pace again (slower), and I ended the race even slower than that adjusted slower pace.  With it being only 2 weeks post marathon, pace was not a goal anyway.   I just wanted to get some miles in and cover the distance with other runners instead of my typical solo run. 

This was my first time signing up for Ole Man River (New Orleans).  Let me say I was SOOOOO disappointed the first half of the race.  The race is advertised as a levee run along the river.  I have signed up for other "levee races" in, or near New Orleans, where you couldn't see the river, but this wasn't even on the levee for the first 6 miles.  In fact, it was in a 100% industrial area, so believe me when I say there was NOTHING pretty or inspiring to see.  My spirits were finally lifted a little when we arrived back near the start and we finally started the last half on the levee, with a river view.   It was HOT, I was hurting (at jogging pace), but at least there was now something to see.  This part of the race ran straight across the river from Jackson Square, Cafe DuMonde, and the French Market area.  Other than riding the pedestrian ferry over and back years ago, I had never had the view of the city like this.  The trail is very nice and well maintained in this area.  It has more concrete than I like, but other than that, it's a nice place to run.   As we started this part of the race, I continually noticed the wind at my back.  It's funny how many times you don't notice the wind when it's at your back.  I noticed during this race because this section was out and back, so while I was thoroughly enjoying every step with the wind at my back, the whole time my mind was thinking about how tough the return would be when I was already laboring much more than I should be in a training run. 
As I made the turn heading back, as expected the final miles were tough.  I walked a few times, and my pace continued to slow.   I ended the race at 2:08, 9:46 average.  It's interesting because this is the exact same pace I ran for most of my HOT summer long runs.  

Remember how I messed up my tangents so much at St. Jude (26.46)?  For Ole Man River, I finished at 13.14.  Sure......when time and pace totally DO NOT matter, hit those tangents perfectly Ginny.  Go Girl !  Ba ha ha ha !

Soon after the race, my head started hurting.  My husband had been battling a cold for a couple of days, and I was certain, soon after the race that I was getting sick.  As it turned out, after Sat. I felt ok until Wed. when it finally hit me with full force.  Head hurting, nose running - feeling BAD !   It was odd.  I felt awful Wed. evening and all day Thursday.  When I got up on Friday, I felt so much better.  I still had a little stuffiness, but felt pretty good all day.   I felt good enough to run by Sunday, and every Christmas for as long as I can remember, I wake up and run, but this year I decided to take another day before starting back.

Yesterday, I ran 5 miles and Chad rode the bike along with me.  It's been many years since he's done that.  I enjoyed the company and felt great to be running again.  It's still HOT and HUMID, so it wasn't easy, but I was happy to be back at it. 

Remember how I LOVE a bargain.  Rock n Roll recently ran a special for the Mardi Gras marathon.  $67 (including fees).  Oopsie !   I think I may have signed up for the full in New Orleans in Feb.  If this weather continues (HOT), I will change my registration to the half.   I have no plans of running 26.2 in the steamy weather we are having now.   Also, with missing a week of training from the cold, it may be impossible to get back on track for a full anyway.   I have no plans of racing this one, but wanted to run 26.2 in the first half of 2017,  and the price was right.   We shall see.......

Final thoughts on Old Man River 13.1
While it's doubtful, I wish NOTC would make some changes to the first half of this race.  Without changes,  I doubt I would sign up for this one again, unless I was running with a group of friends (a fun run), or if I was really, really wanting to "race" a flat course.   Most times, I would prefer my solo runs rather than the industrial route of this course - not a fan. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

My Mind Needs More Work - but I'm happy with it !

So, you all know that prior to St. Jude 26.2 on Dec. 3rd, it had been 3.5 years since my last marathon which was Boston 2013.  To refresh your memory, I decided back in April that I would raise money for St. Jude (we raised $4370) and I would make my "comeback".   My plan was to run fewer times per week, lower mileage, and basically, 2 quality runs per week (long run and either tempo, hill repeats, or intervals).  Also, back in April/May I decided I would focus on the mental side of training this time.  My thinking was that I would not be doing nearly the volume of training, like before, so I wanted a "mental boost".  I also wanted something new and fresh to learn about and focus on.

Dec. 3rd - St. Jude Memphis
My husband made the trip with me.  I have come to love, love, love when he travels to my races.  He is so supportive of "my crazy".    He's also a great support crew of one.  I'm talking leg massages, making sure I have what I want or need for the race, supporting me on the course, etc. etc. 
a little shopping at Bass Pro

The fall leaves were beautiful in Memphis.  We stayed at the Sheraton.  It was a great location, and .7 from the start of the marathon.
Today, I ran 5 miles with Kelly.  This was my 3rd run since Memphis. (I'm recovering really well - feeling great).   I gave her the recap and I realized I hadn't blogged yet about the race.  The weather was good.  I think it was around 47 at the start but with clouds and rain moving in the temperature was in the low 50s during the race.   Rain was predicted for around 11AM.  The race started at 8AM.  Personally, I would prefer the temperature to be much colder, but with the cloudy conditions, it felt nice (until the finish -sweat and FREEZING!!!)

This is a pic of the start.  It was crazy trying to get to the corral.  I was at the bottom, right of the white rectangle in this picture, which is a parked bus.  I started making my way to corral 5 from the street to the left of the bus.  I made it to the corner of the bus and found the corral gate was open here.  I was so relieved because I was worried about having to climb over the railing to get to my corral.  I had made it to the opening and it was gridlock.  Just as I made it to this point, I'm looking around and I see my cousin, Laura and our friend Paige,  about 2-3 people away from me.   I called her name and told her to come my way to the opening.  She took this selfie. I was so excited to see them.  It's pretty amazing that we ended up in the same spot.  Like a 1 in 10,000 chance.  Wow!
At this point,  and for the first 2-3 miles of the race, I reminded AGAIN, why I prefer smaller races.  The logistics, the crowds, and the early zig zag racing are not my favorite things.....Also, the first 2-3 miles of this race are not scenic.  At this point in the race, I feel like a fish out of water and I realize again that city races are not my thing.  I like some beautiful scenery to go with my running.
Thankfully, around mile 4 we made it to the river front which is a pretty area.  Chad was at mile 4 and had made a new friend.  His new friend's wife was running too and so they both jumped in the car and made it to various spots on the course.

During this portion of the race I felt great.  My early mantra for the day was "I can do this all day long" (meaning I can hold the pace).  I kept repeating that at several spots along the way.
Somewhere around mile 5-7 we get to one of the best parts of the race.  Running through the St. Jude campus is special.  Many children with parents line the streets and they are cheering for the runners.  It reinforced that the effort to raise money for St. Jude was important and appreciated.  It was a happy spot, even though on some level you are sad because so many children are ill.

Several areas along the course had beautiful areas of fall leaves. The pictures below were taken the day before the race.   Race day was really cloudy and gray.

My pace through mile 15 was 9:08.  The course is rolling hills the whole way.  Most of the hills are not bad, but some were long.   During the first half, my mind work was in full force.   I remember noticing all the great downhills while barely noticing the uphills (improvement here).  I didn't realize it until after the race, but I started falling off the pace at mile 16.   At mile 20, I was disappointed !   From May until Dec., my goal was this.......This time, I will conquer mile 20-26.2.  I will be mentally prepared and my mind will carry me through the hard miles.  I really believed it would be true!   I really did !   So as I get to mile 20 and I'm already slowing to 9:39 pace, I was upset.  Many, many times, I tried to shift gears and get back on pace, but it wasn't happening.

I was planning to see Chad at mile 22 and I was going to give him my fuel belt.  Around mile 20-21, I took my last gel out and was going to put it in my short pocket.  I dropped it !  I didn't realize it until I was down the road a little way, so of course, I didn't stop and go back to get it.  I convinced myself that I didn't need it anyway.   Guess what ?   I did see Chad at mile 22 and I totally forgot to give him my belt.  Marathon fog is real and I'm kind of foggy in general, soooo ........

The rest of the race was slower, slower, slower.   At one point,  with marathon brain fog in full force I looked at my pace which was around 9:30 avg.  In my confused mind,  instead of thinking about the 9:30 avg. somehow my mind went directly to thinking I was going to run a 4:30 marathon.   I was mad !   Even though 4:30 was my C goal, I was mad !   I just kept thinking about how well I had kept the pace up until 15, and I kept thinking I thought I was in better shape than 4:30.....

A few miles later, I finally realized I was still on pace to finish around 4:15 or better.  WoW !  I felt better !  Not like, better and I can run faster, but mentally better about the day.    In fact, my pace continued to slow down, but I still felt much better about my estimated finish time.   Miles 21-24 were in the low 10 minute range.  I even walked in mile 25 and 26 and those were 11:01, and 11:28.   Just to pile on, I ended up running 26.46, all while trying to run tangents.  I AM aware of tangents......   That's like an extra 3 minutes added on to my final time.  Ugh !   With the early zig zag, and sometimes with the crowds, it's just hard to hit the tangents correctly.  Also, this race has a lot of turns, so that adds to the challenge.   (I have finished several marathons at 26.2)

On our run this morning, Kelly asked me about my fueling during the race.  Even then it didn't register about dropping the last gel and it's impact.  It wasn't until I was driving home today, 11 days after the race, that I remembered about dropping the last gel.  All this time, I was thinking the rolling hills got me at the end, but today I realize that the low fuel at the end of the race had an impact too.    I think my last gel was around 16 or 18.

Hey, I'm a realist.  So my final review of this marathon is this:
when I factor in all of the following, I'm happy, happy that I finished with 4:12.   Please understand, these are NOT excuses, but in my realist mind, these things give me a clear picture of how and why I finished at 4:12.  Also, I like to analyze the what, when, and why of the marathon and for me, this is part of the process.  analyze, analyze, analyze

**I max'ed out at 43 miles (IMO - this is minimal mileage for a marathon)
**I'm 48 and it's been 3.5 years since I've covered 26.2 (this matters)
**This was not a flat course.
**I ran almost 3 tenths extra (adding 3 minutes to my time)
**no fuel after 16-18 miles

 So when I factor in the facts above,  I'm happy and proud !   I finished my 26th marathon and I finished it well, all things considered.

The data:
22 weeks of training
26.5 miles avg per week   (2013 - 45 avg per week)
Max mile - 43 miles - 1 week   (2013 - 80 - 1 week)
26:46 - 9:33 avg pace (what I actually ran)
26.2 race - 9:39 avg. pace (pace avg. based on 26.2 miles)
Yasso's Prediction - I ran the Yasso 800s - 10 X 800 at 3:55 - For me, I know the Yasso prediction doesn't work out, but based on the 3:55, I was thinking I might run around 4:05-4:10.
McMillan Running - Based on my Sept. half marathon - McMillan predicted I might run 3:59.  With my low weekly average mileage,  I was thinking 4:05-4:10 was realistic.

So, I've completed my 26th marathon.  Apparently, I still have some "mind and physical" work to do because I still haven't conquered 20-26.2.   I've trained up to a max. of 80 miles per week, I've added strength work, I've done boot camps, yoga, I've worked on my mind, and yet, I still have not conquered that last 6.2 the way I want to.  This is what keeps me going and intrigued.
I still believe that one day I will figure out how to finish a marathon well.  I will !   

A little post race Memphis BBQ

This weekend I will be "fun running"(maybe walk/running)  the Ole Man River half marathon race in New Orleans.  I signed up for this marathon last year when it was 5k priced.  This was LONG before a marathon was in my mind.