March 28, 2011

This run almost struck out...

Strike One - Headed down the Paint Creek Trail for an out-and-back recovery run. The trail was in horrible shape, so I detoured up the short section of singletrack to hit Kern Rd, across Orion to Stoney Creek Rd.

Strike Two - Since I was passing by Bald Mountain's trails, I ran down to see what shape they were in. BAD. Covered with ice and snow still. Terrible footing. No fun. I turned around and stuck to back roads for the rest of the run.

Fortunately there was no strike three. :-)

This run followed on the tail of two intense days of training. Saturday - 20 mile long run with pal, Fritz, at Kensington Metropark. Tough run. Good physical and mental training.

Sunday - 50 mile (3 1/2 hour) training ride on mountain bikes in preparation for Lumberjack 100 in June. Dreading this race more and more.

So today was a recovery day. Easy run just shy of 9 miles. Felt good on the legs, though I am ready for spring to actually feel like spring. It was 25 degrees out there today. *sigh*

March 23, 2011

The Cold Won Run

I've read that running with a head cold is okay, as long as it hasn't moved into the chest. I tried it today. Didn't work very well. At one point, the sinus pressure even made my teeth ache. I hate that. And I even had a decongestant and antihistamine on board. I suppose it probably would have been much worse without the drugs. Anyway, back home now to lots of liquids and rest. If I'm gonna have a cold, I guess now is a good time considering the crappy "spring" weather we're having up here in Michigan. Still, I managed 4.5 easy miles on the treadmill. I'll take it.

March 20, 2011

Pacing - Just Do It!

Last weekend I ran a 23k trail race on a moderately technical singletrack in Kentucky - the Land Between the Lakes Trail Race. I ran as hard as I could since I was going for the win, which I missed by 15 minutes! Ack! I was 2nd overall - quite a gap between the two of us. I really didn't stand a chance. First place was a superstar!

Today I had another race! This one was a road half marathon - the Rock CF Rivers Half Marathon in Grosse Ile, MI. It was the inaugural running of this race, which raised money for cystic fibrosis research. The race was incredible, so well-organized with great volunteers, well-marked courses, ample, well-stocked aid stations and amazing post-race chow (Panera bagels!). You really would never know it was their first year!

Having raced last weekend, I knew it wasn't reasonable to expect I'd be at my best today. I really wanted to support Rock CF, so I was going to participate regardless, but I figured I'd just have to make it a training run. Well, I found an even better solution. I became a pacer!!

I knew my friend Jaime had a specific goal in mind for this race. I also knew her goal time would be pretty easy for me. Problem solved. Pace Jaime! Of course, I'd never done it before, so I knew it'd be a great mental exercise for me. It takes a lot of concentration to keep even splits, especially when the pace is pretty easy. I was proud of myself, but even more proud of Jaime. She struggled through the last few miles, but came in under her goal time. Our goal was to go sub 1:40 and we finished at 1:39:24. How bout that!?  :-)

It was immensely satisfying helping someone else achieve her goal. I think I even enjoyed it more than racing for myself! This pacing thing - highly recommended!

I even came in 2nd in my AG and got a nifty coffee mug as a prize. Ha! :-)

March 13, 2011

Land Between the Lakes 23K - Race Report

Land Between the Lakes - sunset evening before race

Western Kentucky’s Land Between the Lakes recreation area was an amazing setting for my first trail race of the year. The little town of Grand Rivers hosted the race and welcomed racers with open arms. The people were friendly, open and helpful. The weather was amazing – race day saw temperatures ranging from around 50 degrees to start and rose to a high in the mid-70s. The snow was long gone and the daffodils were already in bloom! Considering our drive down began on roads still slick from a mid-March snowstorm, the weather was a welcome relief. After the race, I was very reluctant to leave!

We stayed at America’s Best Value Inn which was minutes away from the race start at a price that couldn’t be beat. Our pre-race dinner was at the Yacht Club at the Green Turtle Bay Resort. Apparently they usually only allow guests and members to dine there, but made an exception for us since we came down for the race. The employees were so welcoming! The food was great!  Kentucky has not yet gone smoke-free, so that was the only mar on the evening’s dining. I couldn’t wear my sweatshirt again after that night due to the reek! Ick!

There was plenty of parking near the race start and we had no problems figuring out where to go. The community center was open already so we had someplace warm to stand around before race time. The RD got the race going right on time. Being in the shortest race, I had no trouble finding a spot to stand near the front so I could get ahead of the slower runners. The first 1.7 miles were on asphalt as we headed toward the singletrack. This part of the race took us over the canal bridge where we were treated to a beautiful sunrise over the lake. Volunteers were friendly and abundant and ushered us on to the trail head with no problems.

That's me in the bright orange crossing the canal bridge!
The beginning of the trail headed under the canal bridge we had just crossed, so I was able to see the tail end of the runners who were still crossing. It was fun to hear them cheering those of us on who had already hit the trail.

The trail itself was singletrack perfection. Many times while running I thought to myself, I’ve GOT to get my mountain bike out here! The trail was moderately technical with many log piles and other obstacles to run/ride over. It was very well maintained. Several times I had lovely views of the lakes. There were many tiny streams that caused dips in the trail, several of which were very steep and deep!  But all the water crossings themselves were narrow enough to leap over, so my feet stayed dry.

Beautiful lake views from the trail!
The first half of the run was on only slightly rolling terrain. The second half had a few challenging hills that I chose to walk up to conserve energy. But I’m getting ahead of myself… I started the race quite fast, too fast actually, but I was lucky and didn’t end up paying a price for that mistake. At the first mile marker, I was at 7:00 almost exactly. Granted much of that was downhill. I wanted my average pace to be around 7:20-7:30, so I slowed down just a bit. With no chance to warm up, my breathing was very labored for the first few fast miles. I got a little concerned, but kept pushing since I figured my lungs would settle down eventually. They did! Once my breathing became easier, I settled into a nice rhythm and really started to enjoy myself. I felt good for the majority of the race. The latter hills started taxing me a bit, but once I started walking them, I felt much better. During the last 3-4 miles, I even got a second wind and picked up the pace quite a bit. I flew on the final paved stretch back to the finish (except when going up the hill on the bridge!). I crossed the finish feeling great and quite happy! I got a fancy finisher’s key chain to add to my collection of awards.

I finished with a very strong time of 1:55 which is very close to what I was hoping for (1:52 – old course record). That time gave me a second place overall finish. The only gal who beat me was 15 minutes faster. She totally blew away the competition and crushed the old course record by 12 minutes. If I’m going to get beat, I prefer to get beat badly! ha!  :-)  Of course, if I had finished with 1:55 in any other year (except the year the old record was set), I would have won the race. Go figure. ;-)

I can’t comment on the aid stations as I did not make use of them. I carried a handheld Nathan and didn’t even finish the 20 oz of Gatorade I began the race with. I took one GU and had a spare in my pocket, which I didn’t need either. I heard from others that the aid stations were wonderful, so that is great to hear. I am not surprised since every other aspect of the race was perfect. Matt’s only complaint about the aid stations was that they didn’t put mayo on the fried egg sandwiches. lol!!

Post race chow was great! The community center had lots of grub, both hot and cold food. In the morning there was oatmeal, coffee, muffins, cinnamon rolls, lots of fruit, peanut butter and crackers, granola bars, water, Gatorade, pop, cookies, etc.  Later in the day, they discontinued the oatmeal and muffins, but added in soup and chili. I definitely didn’t go hungry. The chili was amazing… Mmmm….

Land Between the Lakes Trail Run – HIGHLY recommended!!

LBL 23k finisher's key chain

March 10, 2011

Hanson's (un)Group Run

There are soooo many things I could say about this run. Oh boy. Not impressed. Not impressed at all.

First we arrive to find the two shoe reps (Saucony and New Balance) standing outside in the cold with their boxes of wear test shoes. It was near dusk at this time and the ground was soaked. It wasn't raining or snowing, but it still had that "wet" feeling. Granted it would have been a little tight in the store with the two guys and their shoes, but it definitely could have worked. I'm still shaking my head. If I were these reps, I'd never offer to come back. That's not how you treat guests.

Next, we didn't get greeted by any of the regulars. I mentioned aloud to Matt at one point that we needed to try and find someone who was running our pace so we don't get lost. We're not familiar with Royal Oak's neighborhoods. One guy overheard me and asked our pace. I told him 8-9 min miles would work and he assured me that there would be plenty of people running that pace and not to worry. So I didn't. I guess I should have.

Out the door we went and immediately everyone took off at lightning fast speed. Are you kidding me!? It was all I could do to keep up. It wasn't an impossible speed, but usually I need to warm up to run like a cheetah!! Geez! We were stuck at that point since we didn't know the route. So this run turned into a tempo run without any warm-up or cool-down! Two days before a race, no less. Damn!

On to something positive. The whole reason we decided to drive down to Royal Oak was so Matt could test drive the NB Minimus and I could test the Saucony Kinvara. We were not disappointed! At least our rep boys came through for us! But I got one even better. The Saucony rep showed up with the Peregrine too!! YAY!!!! I've been wanting to try that shoe out so bad!! If only it were a trail run instead of a road run. Actually, the Peregrines weren't too bad on the road - just a tiny bit stiff. I loved them! Matt had good things to say about the Minimus too.

I know I said I'd do a shoe review for the NB 890 and Saucony Kinvara (now the Peregrine) and I will, but I still haven't packed for our trip to Kentucky and we're leaving at 6am! Eeep!! Gotta go!  Later!

March 7, 2011

Dear Kentucky, please be kind to us Northerners...

Yeeehaaaaw! (Sorry, but we're going to Kentucky this weekend. It kinda slipped.) That was a tough workout!  Just finished over an hour of Stairmastering. Felt great. Climbed 386 floors with an avg 93 steps/min, though I kept varying the step rate. I did a few 15 min sessions at 105 steps/min. At that rate it felt kinda like a tempo effort and I was sweating like a pig. I was a bit miffed that I forgot to grab a towel during this workout! Last "speed" session before my first trail race of the year - the Land Between the Lakes 23k! I'm ready! Will I break the course record...? Yet to be determined!

Did a nice little spin on the recumbent bike for a half hour after my Stairmaster sweatfest just to get a bit more easy-ish cardio in. I definitely had a little hard workout buzz going on when I was leaving the gym. Ahhhh... !!

Getting very excited to wear test the Kinvara on Thursday at Hanson's Royal Oak. Then I can do my shoe reviews for the NB 890 and Saucony Kinvara. Stay tuned...

March 6, 2011

HR Experiment - Fail!

Had trouble with my long spin session yesterday. The first 45 min were okay, then I blew up. I'm sure it is partly because I went out harder than I usually do for long rides - keeping my HR around 145, when I'm usually closer to 130. It was kind of an experiment after Jaime said she read somewhere that women our age should have our HR well over 140 for long rides. I was skeptical since I knew at that effort I'd have trouble talking normally. An hour in, I had to reduce my effort to a HR around 125-130 and then struggled with that!! After the experiment, I'm still convinced one formula does not work for all and that was way too hard an effort for a long ride. My right leg was giving me issues too. I really struggled even to do 2 hrs 45 min. Three hours (the original goal) was out of the question. No big deal since I'm still way ahead of my training schedule.
I got a kick out of the Garmin Connect map after uploading my long spin session. I used the Garmin only for timing and HR purposes, but forgot to put it on indoor mode, so it still tried to follow me with GPS. Here's what it looked like:


With the right leg issue, I'm taking a week off from running. I have races the next two weekends so I want to give the leg a chance to do some healing.

March 1, 2011

Stony Creek 20

First 20 miler of the year. GREAT! 3 GUs and 30 oz of Gatorade later, I'm feeling pretty good. Hip flexor did get a bit bothersome out there, so I'll hold off a few days before calling this run a total success, but I'm hopeful.  Matty and I headed out to Stony Creek Metropark and did 2 loops including the nature center out-and-back portion. That put us at 18.75 miles so we just kept going until our Garmins said 20. It was sunny and only slightly breezy with temps in the 30s. Not too bad! Finished in 2:45.
"Cats are like greatness: Some people are born into cat-loving families, some achieve cats, and some have cats thrust upon them." -William H. A. Carr

red's 2011 race schedule