28 March 2010

Springing out of Winter

Two Saturdays, Two long runs.
One week ago, March 20, the day we crossed the spring equinox. The morning began with a 17-mile run in the Morton Arboretum ... with snow falling and accumulating on the road.
Yesterday, March 27, the first Saturday of Spring, an 18-mile run in the same park ... cold and sunny, but more sunny than cold. And sunny enough that after a couple of circles I started to shed accessories and layers. I ran the last 3-mile loop in shorts, a long-sleeved light-weight jersey, with my head band providing just a bit of extra coverage around the neck. The breeze, light as it was, was cold! 

I began the run with layers, a head band, and light gloves. The 3-mile loop warmed me up pretty well, but I stayed "bundled" for the 4.5 loop, just to see how the various directions and exposures would be. The wind, light as it was, was still cold (air temperature was right around 40, but the sun was nice). But my hands were cold, and I thought removing the head gear would regulate my warming core temperature. So as I repeated the 3 mile (counter-clockwise, against traffic this time) my gloves and band were tucked into my waist band. Always the careful "traveler." It was clear that I was still going to have to shed something. When I got back to ground zero, I pulled off the tights and left my accessories. At first, it was pretty cool on the legs, but they warmed up reasonably quickly. The zipper on my pullover helped me regulate my torso/core temperature, but that pesky cold wind made me committed to having something over my jersey.

It was something else that made me decide to drop the jersey. My first experience with chafing - if not the nipples proper, at least that general vicinity. I'm still trying to figure that out. I wasn't wearing anything I haven't worn, and I've been running in layers for 2 months. The distance was only 1 more mile, but in any case the sensation kicked in at about mile 13/14. Gotta watch that because I have a bit of running still to do, and don't want to spoil April 25 like this! It wasn't terrible, just uncomfortable. I wasn't bleeding or anything. But I can see how that could happen, and would like to avoid it!

So my last 3-mile loop was in shorts and a light long-sleeved jersey, with the headband providing that neck warmth in the wind. It was a glorious, if tired, circle, on an early Spring Saturday one month before race day.

A word about my training options. A few weeks ago I switched to the Hal Higdon novice training schedule for guidance on my long runs. This week I began a change-over on the week-day runs. I am keeping to the sequence from Dave Kuehls, because the pacing (and the commitment to cross training) works so well for me. But I am taking my distance cues from Higdon. This will build my miles over the next couple of weeks (before tapering), without adding a lot of extra time.

This week's short runs (4.5, 8, 3.5) total somewhere between Kuehls and Higdon. The pace on the first two turned out to be 8:00 miles, surprisingly fast for me, and not what I intended or set out to do, but satisfying. The third was slower by design, 8:42. My 18-mile run averaged out to an 8:40 pace, and was pretty consistent throughout.

And now, onward to my last long run before the Marathon. I will do 21 miles, and am supposed to do that this coming weekend. Which, as it happens to be Easter weekend, and I am Quite Well Occupied all weekend, thank you very much, I am trying to find the right time for it. I am slowly, begrudgingly, realizing that it will almost certainly have to come on Easter Monday ... the day of my annual first long bike ride (50+ miles). Now this marathon training has gotten personal.

14 March 2010

Who Calls that Livin'

Finally hit a 30-mile week! It was my first week to reach 15 on my short runs. Long run Saturday was supposed to be 16, but I only reached 15. Hilly, yes! Cold, not so much. Rainy, lightly so. It was the Morton Arboretum Hills that done me in. But I got in both loops, twice each.

Two of my short runs were a hilly neighborhood close by. It's the Big Sur course hills that keep pushing me now. Not to say the added distance can't undo me. But the hills on race day are what I am preparing for.

All in all, a decent week. Except ... I had to forego cycling this week. And as spring began to suggest itself this week in Chicago, that was especially disappointing. My Monday was scheduled as a rest day, but I had hoped to get in a light spin, even indoors. A scheduled, routine, marathon-anticipating stress test turned out to be my only "cross training." At least I passed it with colors! Friday was truly a "cross training" day as I helped a son move: from a second floor apartment, into a third floor apartment. Lots of stairs and lots of weight. I truly consider this a cross day. Just not the way I might have chosen.

Still, the adventure of helping a son make another good move, to see his life, and to celebrate the good things going on there: Awesome!

Onward into week 12. It has a planned cross day, and a rest day that I think I will use (lightly!) for another easy spin. The miles afoot need to keep building each week. Onward!

06 March 2010

So-called Stamina

Here we are in the "Stamina Phase" of this marathon training. So far, not so good as one would hope.

The major change in this phase is the Wednesday run. Quarter mile intervals are replaced by tempo runs. Week 9 (last week) I ran the requisite 4 miles on Wednesday, but at about 30 seconds faster pace than called for. Well, better than that much slower, I guess!

This week's "tempo run" was to be 6 miles at a pace of 8:45-50. I am also trying to get in some "hills" so I chose to do this run in a nearby neighborhood with an interesting terrain. Around here we'd call it "hilly." My trouble, vis-a-vis the pace, was that after mile 2, I wasn't sure how my distance was doing, so I couldn't monitor the pace. The run ended up being only 5.5 miles, and the pace well over 9 minutes per mile. OK, as far as that goes (I reasoned to myself and my Karen), at least it was hilly. Then I clicked "show elevation" in Map My Run, and was reminded how hilly this part of the state isn't! Oh well.

My other hilly run was the previous Saturday (one week today). I planned a ride from part of a cycling route, and knew I'd get a little terrain. A 6-mile route, which as an out-and-back would give me 12 miles. A 13-mile day on the training schedule, I'd get that last mile in the neighborhood. The run was a nice course. There was still snow crowding the shoulders, so with traffic it wasn't great. But it worked. I got into a neighborhood I hadn't seen (horsies!), and did that loop twice - nice, rolling mile or so each time. But about 2 miles from home my quads started to give out, and I walked about 1/2 mile of those final 2 miles. And didn't put in the 13th mile. So much for stamina.

And these are nothing like the hills we'll see in the Big Sur run. Gotta get out more!

On the plus side, this week Friday I put in my long run. 15 miles (flat miles!) at the end of the afternoon. My longest, and I survived, and this morning feel pretty good.