Monday, September 29, 2008

Adventuring in New York City

I am on business travel in NYC this week and tonight went for a walk around Manhattan with a quick stop in Times Square. What a great place to visit on a cool September night!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Miracle Mile 15K and The 18 Mile Long Run

Two great running adventures to tell about this weekend! :-)

Saturday began with the Miracle Mile 15K. This race is run in downtown Orlando and tends to attract the more competitive of the running community. You have to maintain a 15 min/mi pace to participate and the top female in my age group (45-49) ran it in 1:03:11, a 6:46 min/mi pace! I was 51/73 for my age group, 407/584 women, 881/1106 overall. Still, I was very pleased with my 1:41:04 finish time.

For some reason, I thought the race started at 7:30, so I naturally timed my arrival for 1 hour before the race to avoid the last minute crowds. When I arrived near the race area at 6:30 there were crowds everywhere. I finally double checked the race information and found that the 15K started at 7:00! It all worked out ok - I got my car parked and even got my porta potty stop in before lining up for the race. The race started a little late because people were still arriving.

I had decided to run my target marathon pace (11:00 - 11:30 min/mi) so I took a nice easy pace right at the start. I wasn't sure how I was going to work in my walking breaks so I did them at the mile markers initially. Later I settled into walking through the water stops. I also kept my walks to about 30 seconds. I was feeling pretty good, the weather was cool, and all conditions were ideal! My only problem was where to put the Clif Shot I had with me. I didn't want to run with my fuel belt and it didn't fit into that little pocket in my running shorts. I ended up carrying it in my hand until I took it between mile 4 and 5.

After a few miles, it appeared my pace was close to the 11 min/mi point - which I was happy with. I greeted most of the police officer's working the race - wishing them a good morning and thanking them for working the race. As I got further on in the course, I started to chat with a few runners. I ended up speeding up a bit running with them. I also skipped a walking break here and there.

Near the finish, I felt great so I picked up the pace the last 1/2 mile or so and sprinted the last .1 mile, passing at least 20 other runners who were bunched ahead of me. I finished about 1 min short of a PR - but felt great with an AHR of 159 bpm. A little high but still within my aerobic zone.

Sunday 18 Miler

So after running a strong 15K on Saturday, I wasn't sure what to expect today for my scheduled 18 mile long run. Surprisingly, my Saturday runs have not hurt my Sunday long runs but seem to help them out. According to the Higdon training plan, Saturday should be run at race pace and Sunday long and slower. I have been running Saturday's runs pretty easy so far.

I also felt pretty crummy yesterday afternoon and then in the evening. I had a headache so I popped some Advil and headed to bed - hoping to feel better in the morning.

I got up a little later than I have for recent long runs - at 5:30 am with the intent to start running about 6 am. My headache was gone and I felt ok - just the normal 5:30 am tiredness. I decided to split the run into 10 miles then 8 miles - stopping at the house in between to refill water.

I started out really easy - with the goal just to finish and a hope I could keep the pace below 13 min/mi - but that I wouldn't push my pace if I was feeling it too much. I ran 5 minutes and walked 1 minute. As it turned out, I felt REALLY GOOD through the early miles. My heart rate was nice and low - in the low 140s for the first 9 miles. Low heart rate for me means I am not working so hard, meaning I have gas for the latter part of the run. I was feeling good but I didn't want to start to push the pace until I was about 5 miles from the end. I decided if I felt good then I would step it up.

My AHR stayed below 150 until I got to mile 13 - and since I was 5 miles out, I stepped it up. My average pace until this point was about 12:12 min/mi. My last 5 miles were around 11:55 with my 18th mile in 11:30. Although it was feeling harder the last 2-3 miles, I just got it in my brain that I was now training to push through the end of that marathon :-). I also got a little help from my iPod tunes. I was around 17 miles in and feeling like I really needed a break when Jackson Browne's "Running on Empty" came on. The Forrest Gump in me kicked in and I picked it up a notch.

What a great long run after racing yesterday! I think I will focus my Saturday runs on race pace for now on!

Have a great running week everyone!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Preliminary Race Report - Miracle Mile 15K

Quick update on today's race!

Goal: Target marathon race pace (11:00 - 11:30 min/mi)
Actual: A bit faster, around 10:51 min/mi

Final time: 1:41:04 / only about a min off my PR!

Felt great this morning. Cooler start to the day and strong finish! More later :-)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Today is Not That Day

This month’s Runner’s World magazine featured an article called “Get Motivated.” One contributor said, “I taped my mantra to the wall: ‘There will be a day when you can no longer do this. Today is not that day.’” I thought quite a bit about that mantra and made it the theme of my thinking this morning during my 5-mile run.

As I got out of bed once again in the darkness at 5:30 am, pulled on my running gear and stepped outside – I thought about how I didn’t really like running in the dark, or early in the morning when I wanted to sleep. But then I thought about how there will be a day, someday, when I wouldn’t be able to get up and run anymore. Today is not that day.

As I ran along my normal 5-mile path, I thought about the people I have been running for who can’t run like I do. Like my dad, who shuffles to get around; my mom with heart disease and emphysema who feels exhausted just walking across a room; and our little friend Elijah – who probably CAN run, but with his cancer treatments would have a hard time. There will be a day when I may be too ill to run. Today is not that day.

As I ran I met a fellow runner I see frequently on my runs. Joan is a 58 year old runner who runs with her husky. She always wants to stop and talk – and sometimes I just want to keep running and get my day going. But today I stopped and we chatted a bit. As I continued my run, I thought about how much I would miss seeing her if one day she stopped running. There may be a day when she no longer can do this – and I knew I would miss her. Today is not that day.

Michael Mucklow’s instrumental guitar music played as I mused on these thoughts and others. I enjoyed the cool air, about 65 deg F, along with a small breeze. The sky was clear and the stars and moon were bright as the eastern sky just started to change from black to a brightening blue. As I finished up my easy feeling run in my driveway, I looked at my Garmin and saw that I ran the run as fast as I did just two days ago, but with an average heart rate of 147 bpm – easy run. I looked up as the crescent moon smiled at me.

There will be a day when I can no longer do that.

Today is not that day.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Running for Team Parkinson

About a month ago, shortly before going to Arizona for my brother's wedding, my 71 year old dad told me that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. I had never (personally) known anyone with the disease, and didn't really know much about it - so I did some online research and learned quite a bit.

According to Wikipedia:

Parkinson's disease (also known as Parkinson disease or PD) is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that often impairs the sufferer's motor skills and speech, as well as other functions.[1]

Parkinson's disease belongs to a group of conditions called movement disorders. It is characterized by muscle rigidity, tremor, a slowing of physical movement (bradykinesia) and, in extreme cases, a loss of physical movement (akinesia). The primary symptoms are the results of decreased stimulation of the motor cortex by the basal ganglia, normally caused by the insufficient formation and action of dopamine, which is produced in the dopaminergic neurons of the brain. Secondary symptoms may include high level cognitive dysfunction and subtle language problems. PD is both chronic and progressive.

PD is the most common cause of chronic progressive parkinsonism, a term which refers to the syndrome of tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia and postural instability.

My dad had been having trouble with his balance - and falling quite a bit - when he was diagnosed. He has the typical Parkinson's "shuffle" but is still getting around ok.

Last year, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon for my mom - not so much for a charity but for the fact that she suffers both from Heart Disease as well as Emphysema - and could never run, let alone walk, around the block.

This fall, I have decided to dedicate my running of the San Antonio Rock N Roll marathon to my dad and to use the occasion to help raise money for Parkinson's Disease research. I have a link here on my blog if you want to donate for this run - I have no big fund raising goals to meet (I set my own goal at $500 but no minimum limit like TNT). I would like to run in honor or memory of anyone you know who suffers from PD. Feel free to email me their name at and I will pin it on my race jersey and dedicate a mile to them. No donation is necessary if you want to send me a name. I am just happy to be running for others and for my dad.

Today's Long Run:
I had a good long run today. Since I was going "only" 13 miles, I figured I would push my pace a bit and see if I could keep it under 12 min/mi. I came pretty close - but the run was more work that I thought it would be with 74 deg F and 100% humidity (the fog was so thick I could see about 100 feet in front of me). There was very little wind and I was sweating so much, my feet were squishing for all the sweat that ran down my legs into my shoes!

My Garmin has been acting flaky lately, and around 11 miles got weird and started counting backwards on me....I ended at about 9.5 miles! After downloading my run to Sport Tracks and fixing the route, it was more like 13.3 miles. I recorded it in my log as 13.2. My pace was about 12:03 min/mi. I am very happy with that.

I will be back to the longer runs next weekend (18 scheduled). On Saturday, I am actually running my first race since April - the Miracle Mile 15K. I am not going to go for a PR (I would need to maintain a 10:40 min/mi pace for that) but instead will target running it at my goal marathon race pace (around 11:15 - 11:30 min/mi). Hopefully it won't be too hot!

Friday, September 19, 2008

I Have Been Accepted!

Today I got a letter I have been anticipating for a few weeks.

"We are happy to advise that you have been accepted on Regular status to pursue the Doctoral Degree in Industrial Engineering, ..."

I'm going back to school! I start classes in January. And if all goes well, I should finish in about 6 or 7 years.

This is something I have been thinking about for years - and now, 18 years after completing my Masters, 25 years after completing my Bachelors, I finally get to do it!

As part of this process, I expect that I may need to curtail my marathoning a bit. I am going to need those hours to study! I will still be out there running - but perhaps, not so much the 4-5 hour runs on the weekends.

On the running front, I am on plan this week for about 32 miles - having a step back week after my 46 mile birthday week. On Thursday I passed the 100 mile mark for the month of September. I am on track to complete over 150 miles this month - the biggest month in my 3 years of running. My plantar is beginning to remind me that it is there, but I have been more aggressively massaging and stretching the area and it seems to help. It has been a strong running month for me! I hope I don't burn out too soon before my big races are over in January.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I Have Completed My 46 Miles for 46 Years!

With the completion of today's 19 mile long run, I have finished a 46 mile running week (actually ran a total of 46.5 miles) in celebration of my 46th birthday. And what a week of running it has been!!! Overall, my runs have been strong and felt really good! Even today's 19 miler.

As has been typical recently, I was up while it was still dark and outside my driveway waiting for my Garmin to find the satellites at about 5:30 am. A bright, nearly full moon was beginning to set in the west. A bit of a late start with the distance I had to do - I was not likely to finish much before 10 am. The temperature just before dawn has been around 75 degrees (today was no exception). The reprieve I got was that it was not quite as humid as it has been lately. That made a big difference!

The first portion of my run was mostly in the dark. Since I am on the sidewalk I don't usually worry about traffic except for the occasional car coming from the side streets. I have started wearing a reflective "thing" (not a vest but just straps that lay over my shoulders and around my waist) so that any car coming would light me up like a Christmas tree. I figure it is better to be really visible and safe.

I ran the first 10.5 miles in just over 2 hours before stopping at the house for refills. This part of the run went really well. I was running comfortably and my heart rate was in the mid 140's - in a good part of my aerobic zone. I felt I had plenty of gas in the tank for the other 9 miles. The difference was that the sun had risen and it was going to make things more difficult for me!

I continued to run conservatively...running 5 minutes and walking 1. I didn't really start to "feel it" until around mile 14. My walking breaks got a bit slower which made my overall pace slower. Around mile 16 is when I started to have that "I really want to finish this" feeling - which is pretty good, since my last big run was 17 miles.

I was able to maintain my run 5 walk 1 pace until the very last mile, where I snuck an extra walking break before finishing the last .2 mile strong. I stopped the Garmin at 19.14 miles and walked the remaining .1 miles to the house. The finish time was 4 hours, 9 minutes, 5 seconds - a 13:01 pace. I was happy with the result and how good I felt throughout the run.

The overall stats:

19.14 miles
4:09:05 / 13:01 min/mile (faster than my pace for the previous 17 miler)
AHR 149, MHR 173 (really good AHR)
3228 calories burned (according to Garmin)
6 Clif Shots, 64 oz of water
Ice bath afterwards
Beginning temp: 75 deg F
Ending tem: 84 deg F

Thursday, September 11, 2008

46 Miles for 46 Years

Tomorrow I celebrate my 46th birthday. Since I don't have the endurance to run 46 miles on my birthday, I am attempting to run:

4.6 miles on my birthday
46 km on my birthday weekend
46 miles my birthday week

My schedule:

Mon - 4 miles (done! 4.2 miles)
Tues - 5 miles (done! 5.16 miles)
Wed - 8 miles (done! 7.9 miles - was a little ahead so stopped before 8)
Thurs - Rest day (done, thank goodness! I ran Sat (6 miles) and Sun (12 miles) last weekend so after 5 days straight running I was ready for a rest day!)
Fri (B-day) - 4.6 miles (done! 4.6 continuous non-stop!)
Sat - 5.4 miles (done! 5.4 even after birthday celebration the night before)
Sun - 19 miles (maybe I will run 1 more to grow first really big run leading up to San Antonio)(done! See details in next blog post. Did 0.1 extra - didn't have it in the tank to do 20...but I completed my 46 for 46!)

It was the coming of my 40th birthday that started my running. In honor of my 40th birthday, I ran my very first 5K. So I guess you could say I am celebrating 6 years of running as well as 46 revolutions around the sun.

And what an adventure it has been! Thanks for sharing it with me.

I will let you know how it ends up!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Breathing New Life Into My Ipod - Engineering my Run

I own an iPod Mini which I won in a drawing about 2 years ago. At the time, the mini was no longer being sold - having been replaced by the 1G Nanos, but this one was special, with 6Gb of storage.

Recently, the battery has struggled to keep a charge. And more than once, I have gone out for my run only to find it dead within half a mile. I thought to replace it with a shiny new iPod Nano, but didn't really want to spend the $199 (okay, I did want to spend the money, but my husband didn't). I found a website online where I could replace the battery myself with their kit - and it seemed to have good reviews. And the batteries reportedly lasted longer than the original battery.

So I took the $30 plunge and ordered the battery. It arrived today and I managed to take my iPod apart and install the new battery.

I reassembled it and, lo and behold, the iPod powered up!

We shall see over time if I didn't break anything else and if the battery holds. If it lasts me awhile, it will be worth the $30.

Monday, September 01, 2008

The Miles are Picking Up!

August was an incredible month of running. I ran my most miles all year - 122 miles. This was more than June and July combined - which were a bit short due to vacation and other things.

Today's long run was to be 17 or 18 miles - depending on how well I was feeling. After a pretty good night's sleep I woke up at 5 am to prepare for my run. I was out the door and running by 5:40 am.

I decided to do my run in two parts - the first a 9 mile route down my usual Lockwood Blvd but with a little extra added to get to 9 miles. I would then stop at the house for refills and then do another 8 or 9 miles. Most of the first 9 miles were done in the dark, with the daylight arriving around 1 hour into the run. After the first 9 miles, I changed shirts (I could wring out the one I had on...) and refilled water and Clif Blok supplies, grabbed my sunglasses and headed out. It was a warm morning - but there were some clouds around that helped reduce my exposure to the heat of the sun. I felt okay after 9 miles but a bit tired. I decided 18 miles might be too far.

I began to lose steam around 12 miles in and seriously considered cutting the run short, but I pushed...telling myself that I was now in mental training. My legs were feeling tired and heavy and temperature was beginning to rise. By 14 miles, I could no longer maintain my run 5 min walk 1 min routine. I walked for about 3 minutes in the middle of mile 14, then opted to run 2 minutes and walk 2 minutes. That pace did me well for the rest of the run.

I even had in my arsenal a Power Shot gel - it was some Tangerine / Orange flavor with double the caffeine. I normally don't run with caffeine, but decided to take this along for the end in case I needed the boost. I finally downed it at mile 15. And, as I expected, it was pretty nasty. However, I think it helped me through the last couple of miles.

My final time for 17 miles was 3:42:10 - a 13:03 min/mi pace - which I was surprised by given my slow finish. With all the walking, my pace never exceeded 14:31 (miles 14-15) and I finished the last mile in 12:23 min.

The stats:

17 miles
3:42:10 / 13:03 min/mile
AHR 157, MHR 174
2593 calories burned (according to Garmin)
2 packs Clif Bloks, 1 Power Gel, 64 oz of water
Ice bath afterwards