Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Turkey Day!

"Life just get's in the way"

There is a reason this is such a popular quote. Something I did not consider when deciding to train for a Spring marathon versus Fall was the holiday season. This is probably due to the fact that I was too busy whining about training in the cold that it distracted me from the immense amount of scheduling conflicts to come. Well that and denial. Anyway, the first challenge has arrived... Thanksgiving. Instead of the traditional heading up north to grandma's house and spending the week in the kitchen, my small clan (it's just my parents, sister and myself) will be heading to warmer climates... The Bahamas! At first I thought this would make my challenge of hitting my mileage easier, but that is not necessarily the case. I'm not saying it will be impossible for me to escape for a quick run here or there, but how am I supposed to run all my midweek mileage PLUS a 10 mile long run, by myself, in the Bahamas, while my family sits around waiting? Let's not even mention the track workout. The negative of being at a resort versus home sweet home, is that with all the activities planned, skirting off for a 2 hour run usually puts others in the awkward position of having to wait for you or at a minimum scheduling the days activities around you.

My solution: do what I can and don't worry about the rest! I've already made a 10 mile running date with my training partner for the Monday we return to DC so that will be my belated long run for the week (Monday versus Saturday... big whoop!). As for my mid-week total, my goal for this week, if it was normal, would be 20, but considering the circumstances I am going to aim for 18, and Tuesday the girls and I got up early and pushed a hilly 6.5, so I'm already down to less than 12! I'm thinking 3 shorter, less time consuming runs sprinkled over the next 5 days should be doable. Yes I might lose a bit of nap time on the beach, but who says that's better then running by the waters edge?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Indian Sprints

Last week was my first ever track workout. By "ever", let me clarify... I mean EVER. As in have never ever...

Needless to say, I was walking in blind and a wee bit intimidated. Let us remember that running, and especially sprints, were used as the main torture devise of every soccer coach I've ever met. So shaking that negative connotation is not easy. As a few of us slowly jogged around the track for a mile warm up, the program's head coach ended up next to me. After introductions and "so why do you want to run a marathon?" type chat, I finally asked, as nonchalantly as possible, "so what are these sessions like?" He shrugged and said something along the lines of "Oh nothing too bad, the usual long distance speed training stuff" blah blah blah and left it at that. After a minute of trying to find the right words I finally spurted out "No, I mean literally, what do we do? I've never run a track workout before so I'm completely lost." He was a bit taken aback, and then smirked and said "Ohhh..." and went on to break down some basics for me before the workout began.

Track Etiquette:
Tip #1: Run Counter Clockwise
Tip #2: If you are not pushing your pace (aka warm-up or cool-down) stay away from the inside lane. That is for people who are in the midst of their workout.
Tip #3: At the same time, if you are pushing your pace and just happen to be slower than most of the Speedy Gonzales' out there, don't mind them, stay on the inside and they will pass you on the right. So really if you aren't pushing it stay away from the inside two lanes.

First Workout: Indian Sprints (ironically one of my past soccer coaches most favorite form of torture)

For those of you who had the privilege of escaping childhood without this growing experience let me enlighten. Basically you have 5-7 people running laps in a straight line (one behind the other), with the person at the end constantly sprinting to the front of the line. So as a group you are running laps, and when the person behind you sprints to the front of the line, it is then your turn, then you get to slow down until you are at the end of the line again at which point you sprint to the front again, and again, and again. You usually average 3-4 sprints per lap (quarter mile). We were to do 4 miles.

For me the weirdest thing was that I was running with 6 people, and yet no one was talking. Grant it, it was our first time meeting and we were sprinting, but the whole point, for me, to run with others is to pass the time chatting. So when I figured out that wasn't going to happen I worried that this was mentally going to feel like an eternity. Surprisingly, between absorbing the atmosphere of the track (it seemed the entire neighborhood around this school consisted of runners who were all training that night), keeping pace, watching out for my turn and county laps, I was quite occupied and before I knew it we were half way there. By the end, I was tired, but I felt really good! I know it was my intro to track, and that it is just going to get harder from here (the track coach's speech intro was that we were here to learn how to run in discomfort because no matter how much we train, those last 6 miles come race day WILL be uncomfortable - - not a motivational speaker) but it was definitely a confidence booster to walk out day one feeling good!

Monday, November 22, 2010

It's Official!

Just bit the bullet and am officially signed up for the Rome Marathon!
March 20, 2011

117 Days to go... 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What makes a "Runner"?

The late George Sheehan once wrote, "The difference between a jogger and a runner is a race number", this supposedly delineating the difference between those who enjoy running as an activity versus sport. I disagree with this. Does that mean if you run 40 miles a week but never enrolled in an official race, you are still not really a "runner"?

There has been equal amounts of praise and criticism about the recent surge of running's popularity. Some attest that this is proof that America is finally getting healthy and highlights all of the wonderful 5K's, Turkey Trots, and running groups that have recently emerged. On the other hand, there are those involved in the elite racing division that believe this surge of amateur involvement is actually hurting America's running competitions by lowering the mean racing times and overcrowding big city races with first time competitors.

For whatever reason, I still find it hard to refer to myself as a "runner." Some of it is the leftover mentality from less than a year ago when I found it hard to get out and jog 2 miles. That is more of a personal image I haven't gotten rid of yet. But there is also that larger stigma that unless you are really great and competitive in a sport you are not truly a part of it. This seems to be the same when you refer to the cycling world or many other endurance sports. If you go for a 25 mile bike ride every weekend, but never compete, are you a biker?

For many of these sports, there seems to be a reservation of sorts by the elite competitors. There's a kind of intimidation factor that comes across as "if you're not serious/professional about running/biking/etc, then get out of our way and don't waist our time!" I do understand that it must be frustrating when beginners who don't understand protocol get in your way, potentially could cause injury/accidents, or don't take it as seriously (I mean I get mad when people don't understand the stand to the right, walk up the left concept on the Metro!). At the same time, it's a shame that so many people do not attempt these great endurance sports mainly due to lack of encouragement or access to knowledge. Though I am an admitted book worm, there is only so much you can gain from pages, rather than being immersed in the actual culture. If it wasn't for the Y-Tri program holding my hand, matching me up with veterans, and having patience for my silly questions/mistakes I would NEVER have attempted a quarter of the things I have this year. I mean I grew up riding a beach cruiser (thank you Florida). I had no concept of gears let alone clip-less shoes/pedals, the appropriate bike fit... hell, the appropriate bike!

This is the number one reason I began this blog. In the weeks before my official triathlon training began, this shy, anxious, "I really don't want to make a fool of myself" girl spent hours online and in bookstores trying to find answers to basic questions like: what do I wear for winter running?, do you wear sneakers to spin class?, can anyone translate these swimming workouts to English? What I found was only training advise for the already experienced athlete, all in terminology that might as well have been Russian. There was no true beginner basic information. That was the niche I was hoping to fill here for the next couch potato who wanted to dip there toe in the world of endurance. I wanted to ease the fear of "what the hell are they talking about", and encourage the "oh I get it now!"

So call yourself whatever you'd like. The one thing you can be sure of is that there will always be someone faster, always be someone slower, and you will always have more to learn!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Road Runner Training Schedule

DCRRC Spring Marathon Program
Training Schedule
Targeting end-of-March Marathons


Wk Ending
  Weekly Totals  
  MidWeek Totals  
(SAT)   Low Mid Adv   Low Mid Adv   Long Run

10 16 26
4 10 20
14 22 28
6 14 20
18 26 30
8 16 20
27-Nov   20 28 30   10 18 20   10
22 31 32
10 19 20
26 34 39
12 20 25
27 35 40
12 20 25
25-Dec   26 32 37   14 20 25   12
27 35 38
14 22 25
30 36 44
16 22 30
28 33 42
16 21 30
32 39 46
16 23 30
29-Jan   36 41 48   18 23 30   18
32 39 44
18 25 30
38 43 50
18 23 30
34 35 49
20 21 35
26-Feb   37 38 52   20 21 35   17
40 41 55
20 21 35
28 29 38
15 16 25
21 23 29
12 14 20
32.2 33.2 36.2
6 7 10

Sunday, November 14, 2010

At the Beginning... Again...

Welcome to Tri-ing to Break Away... The Marathon Edition:

After making the commitment to do the marathon, one of my biggest issues was guaranteeing myself running buddies throughout this winter. I have already acknowledge my issues with training alone, and though right now I have a wonderful group of friends always available for a run, come the nasty cold winter I needed to make sure I'd have someone there to push me through those long double digit runs. Luckily, my best friend and tri training partner has also decided to tackle a March marathon! So even if everyone else decides they don't want to brave the freezing weather, I'd at least have him to count on. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that with running 4-6 times a week and truly hating running alone... ever, that this was a lot of pressure to put on one person.

Since the Y-Tri training program worked so well for me, I started looking into marathon training programs. After some researching, asking around, and avoiding programs that I had no way of affording, I came across DC Road Runners. This seemed like the perfect amount of training, for an affordable price. Their format allows you to be as involved in their process as you'd like. As a running group in general, they offer group runs throughout the week at different locations around the DC metro area. More specifically for their marathon training program, they also offer Wednesday night or Thursday morning track training session, and a Saturday 8 am long run. For me currently, I have my own running group that I can do my midweek mileage with, but have no structured track training, or weekend long run. So for now, I can join in for the Wednesday night track workouts and the Saturday long runs. Then when we get deeper into the depth of winter, if my running buddies decide to pull back a bit, I can always join in on one of the many Road Runners' groups as a backup plan to help meet my midweek mileage. Also, if that wasn't enough, Road Runners has partnered up with Pacers so just in case your schedule is particularly difficult, you can always join in for one of their "fun runs." Perfect!

Road Runners' program also matches you up to specific coaches depending on where you are with your running. Though you are able to work with all of the many coaches, and from what I understand they expect you to, you will also have a specific coach that works with you to personalize your training schedule and outline you're individual goals. This is where I find great value in participating in the program. No matter how many books, articles, and advice you find, outlining and analyzing your unique training program and goals is always where I seem to have the most questions... and astonishingly enough, no matter how many I ask, the books never seem to answer back. Basically, this program adds that human touch my massive amount of research was lacking.

Well it has officially begun. Here we go folks, on with this next adventure!