Saturday, August 29, 2009

My 20-miler and marathon prep

I just completed my last long run before the Lehigh Valley Marathon on September 13 in Allentown, PA. I don't have class/work on Fridays, so that was the perfect day to do it because I wasn't running in the rain of Saturday or blowing most of one day on the weekend with a run. There were only two things I had to do on Friday: run 20 miles and meet friends for Happy Hour. Needless to say: done and done.

I ran 6 miles downtown to meet a friend who is training for her second Marine Corps Marathon in October. We ran a good 8.5 miles or so (walking up the hills) and then I struggled to head the remaining miles back home. The last 5.5 were brutal, but I got them done and didn't feel like death afterward. Which, of course, is important since the marathon is 26.2 miles, not an even 20. My final time was 3:10:05, a 9:30 pace. If I can keep that pace in the marathon, I'll be ecstatic.

So now we go into taper mode. Unlike most people, I don't mind taper mode. It's a nice excuse to be lazy and not get up so early to run. Or to run less. Or not as hard. Come to think of it, I like tapering a lot. In reality, I'll likely just bike a bit more rather than pounding the pavement.

There's something very relaxing about your second marathon. You know you can do the distance so you're not fretting about that. You know what you can/can't eat. And, well, if you're me, you don't have goals like BQ-ing or goals like improving my time by an hour, or nonsense like that. It makes for a very stress-free couple of weeks.

I still have a couple of things to coordinate, mainly:
  1. I'm going to try to update my mileage/pace on Twitter during the marathon. I can text message the Twitter service and it may be a good way for spectators/readers to keep up with me because I'm sure the marathon won't have live updating. If you're interested, it's Oddly enough, running is the only reason for me to use Twitter, besides looking at others' updates.
  2. I still need to coordinate where spectators will be spread out along the course. During my last marathon, my dad was there, but I only got to see him a couple of times, and not after mile 13. It made for a very lonely second half and I'm determined not to repeat that. This time my whole family will be here as will friends. I'm hoping to space them out and then get them to the finish line in time to see me pump my fists in victory (meaning, um, finishing).
  3. The mile dedications. I did this for the first marathon and my 48 Miles in 48 Hours insanity, and it meant a lot to me, so I'll do it again this time.
So, this time 2 weeks and 7 hours from now, I'll be starting my second marathon. Wow. That came quickly.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Take It and Run Thursday: Running without a pre-determined plan

Note: I'm thoroughly behind on these posts, so you'll see a series of them over the next week or two as I try to catch up.

Erin asked:
How do you decide how far/long to run when you aren't following a predetermined training plan? I have a few short races (5Ks and 8Ks) coming up but I'm not planning to follow a training plan for them. I just finished my most recent half-marathon on July 19th and now I'm at a loss as what to do now in terms of distances, etc. I almost always run with a training plan but I'm not sure if I should now or not. Or, if I should be, what I should be looking for in one.

Oh, did you ever come to the right place, Erin. I am soooo not into training plans, at least not anything even remotely formal. I've talked about it at length in the past. In short, training plans bore me and I don't want to stick to them. They're not fun for me, so I just don't do them.

Does that potentially harm me? Eh, maybe. I likely won't be qualifying for Boston without a plan, but let's be clear... I likely wasn't going to qualify for Boston with a plan, either. I'm out to enjoy the run, maybe do a bit better than the last race, but I won't be heartbroken if I don't. It's not worth my energy to get all worked up about that stuff. I want to save that energy for when I'm hitting the roads.

So how do you decide how far you want to run? Well, you can either do it run-by-run, or try to do a certain amount of miles per week. At the beginning of the week, try to figure out how much you want to run, and then just allow yourself to get those miles in however you want. If you want to do 20/week, allow yourself to do that as 4 5-milers, 5 4-milers, a couple short runs and then a longer weekend run, whatever. Just try to get the total mileage for the week.

The normal disclaimers still apply, of course. You don't want to jump up into distances if you haven't worked up to it. Increasing long runs by no more than a mile each week and total mileage no more than 10% each week is a decent way to start.

But, after that, let your schedule and feel for things be your guide. I find that's much more enjoyable than having to do a tempo run on a certain day because it's on a schedule. Have fun with it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Race Report: Moose on the Loose 10-Miler

Yesterday, I ran the Moose on the Loose 10-mile run in Nashua, NH. I ran this race the previous two summers and have enjoyed it every time. The race is always scheduled on the day before my first day of law school, so it has become a bit of a tradition. An end-of-summer, beginning of reality tradition, I guess.

The race is a 2.5 mile trail course that we run four times. It's typically low-key with a good number of participants. The course is not terribly hilly and there aren't too many roots or rocks for a trail course, so we're not constantly worried about tripping. It really is a nice race.

It was humid, though, very humid. By the end of the first lap, I had completely soaked through my shirt and shorts, and by the end, I was just dripping wet. I had to wring out my shorts and shirt before I got into the car. Yikes.

I settled in at my 8:30-9-minute pace pretty quickly and stuck to it the whole time. I finished my last lap about 2 minutes faster than the previous lap, though. I guess I was feeling good at the end. I even walked a bit on an uphill, but I still finished strong.

In the first year, I did it in 1:23. Last year, I did it closer to 1:30. This year, I did it in 1:27:48 (an 8:47 pace). I was pleased with that, but I probably would have been just as pleased with a 1:30 finish. It was a training run and I knew I wasn't going to place in any groups.

If I'm in NH next year, I'll probably run this one again.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Do I always love running? Um, no

I often get the question, as I'm sure many of you do, of whether I love running. And I answer, "Yes, I do love running." And other times I get the question, "Do you always love running?" To which I answer, "Um, no."

When don't I love running? 5:30 in the morning after a short night's sleep. Actually, 5:30 in the morning even if I've slept for 12 hours. There's just something unholy about that time of day. But I hit the roads because that's the only time I can do it and still get to the office.

But every morning is a struggle. I debate with myself when I'm lying in bed. It goes something like this.

Bad Angel (BA): I could go back to sleep right now and sleep for another hour.
Good Angel (GA): But if you do that, you'll feel guilty all day.
BA: But I really want to sleep. And I would definitely go running tonight.
GA: But you won't feel like running when you get home. The alarm went off. Get up and get dressed. You'll feel better afterward.
BA: Fine, but make sure you're not happy about it and growl as you walk out the door.
GA: Deal.

And that's how the conversation in my head typically goes at 5:30 AM.

Do I always love running? Not at 5:30 AM I don't.