Monday, March 24, 2014

Week Six: Staying on Track

I have been bound and determined that the drop-down to the Half distance at my goal race will not derail my training. I will not allow myself to skimp on my training even though I am not running the full 26.2. I will respect the distance and the course at OKC, and I will do all that I can to prepare as best I can for this race.  It's not JUST a half. I want to really show what I can do on that day and I want to be able to rely on my training and preparation to give me a strong performance on race day.

After my decision to cut back, I went to my training plan and re-evaluated it and made the appropriate revisions.  I was using a hybrid of Hal Higdon's novice marathon plan, with the intention that I was treating this as a "first-time" since it had been so long since I ran a full.  The basics behind that include 3-5 mile runs bookending a mid-week mid-distance run that is half the length of the long run that week, and 3-4 miles on Saturdays.  I don't have any prescribed paces to hit, as the focus is just on getting the miles done.  Plan the work, work the plan. In actuality, I usually end up cutting one of the shorter runs each week, just depending on my schedule, how I feel after the long run, and what the lovely Texas weather decides to throw at us that week. While I am committed to sticking to the plan as much as possible, I also am committed to having as robust of a life at the same time, which means I will not break my back at the expense of the plan. This is a part of me, not all of me. There are some weeks that I need a longer recovery, some weeks that it just doesn't happen. And that's okay. With this plan having me out 5 days a week, if I have to bail on a run, I make sure it's the shorter ones, and not the mid-week or the long run. Those two, in my experience, are the most valuable for me.

With that in mind, I didn't fret too much when I intentionally skipped my Tuesday run. I had meetings all afternoon at work that prevented me from running at lunch, and that night, I met my hubby for his birthday dinner at one of his favorite places. We have gotten much better at choosing our meals off the menu, making adjustments to the listed choices like double steamed veggies instead of rice, or asking the servers not to bring the tortilla chips so we aren't tempted. We had a great meal and a nice chat while the Nerdlet was at acting class. I did not regret skipping the run. Wednesday, I got out the door at lunch for 3 miles and then hit the Trinity Trail immediately after work for another 5 to give me 8 for the day. The highlight of this was making it all the way up the hill at Rogers street in one fell swoop, with no stopping and no walking.  I had set this goal for myself a few weeks ago, and decided I wanted to be able to do this before OKC. I ran down the hill and then about a mile out and back onto the trail before I doubled back. Two undergrad girls were out running along the same route, and they started up the hill, across the street, at the same time.  I took a deep breath in and just started churning up.  I knew there was a little bit of a false landing about 2/3 of the way up, and that has been a convenient place for me to regroup a bit in the past. This day, for whatever reason, maybe because my legs felt good after the extra day of rest, I felt strong when I hit that point. And I decided that I could power through. It hurt. The breathing was harder than the climbing, though, and I re-focused my energy on just BREATHING.  I told myself my body would do what I asked it to if I just gave it a little more oxygen. I set my legs to match my breath and dug in and just climbed.  And before I knew it, I was at the top of the hill. Boom. Was it a fast run? Um... no. Was it slightly more than a power-walk, really? Maybe, but at no point in that climb did my MIND give in and say, "okay, you're MOSTLY up, you can dial it back a notch now...' That is the victory I had that day.  I might have done a little dance at the top, and it really made my day when the girl behind me yelled, "Great job" as she stood there with her hands on her knees trying to catch her breath. BOO YAH!

My overall paces for that route were a few seconds faster than the last time I ran it, which I am sure is due to my effort on the hill. In general, I'm very slowly (see what I did there?) ooching my paces a little faster with each run. I'm still a long ways off, but now that I am not focusing on adding distance, I can start to think about what I can do to get that speed back over the summer.  Maybe that won't be possible with the impending heat, but any gains I make during the dog days of a Texas summer will definitely pay off in the fall. And I'm willing to wait. I'm ready to experiment some with this delayed gratification thing. It's not something I do well.  I'm by nature very impatient and demanding. But, I know I didn't fall out of my 9:30/mile pace overnight, so I know there will be a long road back to that.

I wrapped up this week with a solo long run at the lake on Saturday morning, then cheered myself silly at the Dallas Rock'n'Roll half with some of my favoritest people, watching some of our other favoritest people run. I had hoped to run long on Saturday, then head out to LBJ Grasslands to see my sweet friend Alicia make her dreams come true, but for various reasons, some of my own making, some out of my control, I wasn't able to make that happen (sidebar: Go read her blog. Now. She's kinda awesome, and she had a full-out Bubble of Love thing going on. Sad to have missed it, but I know I'll have another chance to see her do something spectacular, because that's how she do.). In any case, I did eke out 4 miles at the park with the hubby on Saturday night, leaving me with 9-10 miles to do on Sunday. I decided to wake up really early and take advantage of the drive to Dallas for cheer squad duty to run a loop around White Rock Lake.

It's been months since I've been out there for a run, and I think I've only every run out there by myself once. Usually, I have at least one other person out there to meet up for the loop (or longer).  That lake is the scene of oh-so-many vignettes from my past running life: great deep conversations, memorable races, LOTS of laughter, and true friendships were born on those paths. It's a testament to how strong these memories are that for the whole 9 plus miles, I never once felt alone.  Even in the dark on the first 1/3 of the loop, as I crossed the Mike Moore bridge, the boats, the Stone Tables. Every landmark brought back memories flooding into my brain. There's where we had the Autism satellite run. There's where we parked for that first 18-miler when Marci and Kris and Mel were training for Chicago. There's where Fi urged me to attack that hill instead of walking. This is the spot where Mellew ran out of water. There's the bridge. Another bridge. HOW MANY BRIDGES? And that time that I dragged Fi and Marci around the lake for Hottest Half, and they pushed me and pulled me and sometimes let me fall back or ahead by myself, to work through what I needed to work through, but were always there for me. How many people do you run into out there, getting their miles in, going in the opposite direction, or sometimes passing you, but all of you sharing the camaraderie of the lake? 

Suffice it to say that while I was out there on the lake by myself, I had all kinds of company on my run. And, yes, I very often laughed out loud to myself. In any case, I ran strong all throughout, even though I spent the last four miles heading directly into the wind. I fueled with bulletproof coffee I drank on the drive in, and only at about mile 9, when I was about a quarter-mile from the car, did I feel the first twinge of hunger. My legs were strong throughout. And I had zero stomach issues. So WIN!

As soon as I got done running, I headed back to the race course and parked the car just across the street from designated cheer central. TPG and her boyfrann Robert were already there, fully prepared with cowbells, wiener costume and a great sign for Robert's sister. I froggered across the street and joined in. Soon enough, we had Katie, Team K and, for a bit, sweet half-of-LIAR Teal with us. We brought the noise, y'all. Ain't gonna lie - we put our cheer squad up against anyone for the sheer loudness and obnoxiousness. And that's just what we (okay, me, mostly me) are wearing! It was so fun to cheer the runners at the top of the hill. It was a little chilly still, and that wind was pretty rough, and they were rockstars to be out there running 13.1 in that. I kept thinking of the year I ran this race with my cousin, which had to have been the hottest March day in history. Not that I wanted mid-40s and windy, but Texas, y'all... You can't predict ball and you can't predict Texas weather!

All in all, I was pretty pleased with how this week went training-wise. I am even more pleased with how the week went regarding our nutrition plan.  We celebrated a family birthday and I made it through a baby shower with PINK CUPCAKES and I didn't falter once.  I even managed to skip the donuts brought into the office. It's becoming natural for us to eat this way, even out at happy hour & post-dinner yogurt with friends (Pinkberry has greek yogurt smoothies made with fruit and/or PB - you can ask them to skip the agave syrup and the berry puree with added sugar). I'm feeling good all around, except for my arms and wrists, which are experiencing Cowbell-Related-DOMS. Ah... such is the life of the FIGJAM cheer squad!

Week 6:  26.2 miles, including conquering the hill, weeknight run around the hood, park run with my sweet baboo and a solo run around White Rock.

1 comment:

Fawn Simpson said...

Skipped donuts and cupcakes!!!!! You are rocking it girl! Every time I see something "bad" I tell myself I can have it, but I'm choosing not to. I have to remain in control. The first time I say, "I can't have that" I want it all the more. You are doing amazing. Seriously.