Backwards and Forwards

Dear readers,

Happy new year. May it bring us all positive answers, a stronger sense of security, and some peace.

The days between the years were great. I went home to blue skies and lots of sunshine for Christmas and flew back to Germany on the 31st. Long flights leave room for thinking (if one doesn’t get too distracted by the onboard entertainment, this time including the pilot), and this time of year invites reflection in general. So I will reflect on a year of PRs, months riddled by injuries, and a much lower mileage than I had planned for.

First of all, if anything, I can appreciate my 10,000 lifetime recorded miles. Assuming I continue running, I can’t expect another 10,000 until 2023. But to run strong through 2023 is a good long-term goal! I’d love to not have any injuries until then, but to ensure that, I am going to need some assessments of my health that I hadn’t taken seriously enough, and age 25 is a pretty good time to start, especially if I want to continue to be a runner. I have a few doctor appointments planned.

year-2016

All things considered, I had a pretty good year running the majority of the time.

Not meeting my 1500 (bumped up in June to 1700) miles goal is not bad news to me. I accept that I was challenged by injuries (one major one not running related) and should have been smarter. I reached 1367 miles this year, which is a nice prime number if you ask me. As long as I’m logging more than a mile a day for a year, I’m in pretty good shape.

I guess not meeting a mileage goal (the first time I ever set one, actually) helped in the realization that I don’t have to take myself as seriously as a runner. I still have my lifetime goal of a sub-3hr marathon, but that’s not a priority, especially not now while I’m working on my doctorate. I don’t know if I’ll ever have time to focus on the training enough to dedicate mind and spirit, whole-heartedly, but for now I am grateful with consistency that will always leave a starting point better than square one, should I chose to reach that goal. Running is a part of my life and always has the potential to be more. Right now, that potential is enough, especially when I’m continuing to score age group (and super-occasionally overall) wins.

My training from 2015 paid off into 2016 with a PR in the half-marathon in January and an 18 minute PR in the marathon February. I didn’t race again until Fall 2016, but did fairly well (considering 6 weeks off due to broken toe) in a 10.7km, 8.6km, and a 20km in December. I never recapped that race, but I was 7th overall for the females and ran a 1:33:40. Not amazing, off my goal by about 3 minutes, but still a good race considering the injuries, etc.. It also probably prepared me to end the year on a positive note with a 5K race on New Year’s Eve.

In my race Saturday, I ran 21:32, placed 8th for the women, won my age-group and was off my 5k PR by only 18 seconds despite a hurting back, a freshly stubbed toe (race-morning wandering around the house in the dark, because I didn’t want to wake the whole household up) and not having trained specifically for a 5K nor training properly at all, due to a hurt tendon in the foot after the 20k.

My weeks (Dec. 5-Jan. 1st) since the last time I posted looked like this:

graph-runs-4-12-through-1-1

One can see how I took a few days off after I hurt my foot (coinciding well with a scholarship application due on the 15th), and slowly ramped up the mileage the following week. I learned again not to do too much too soon following a race, and the graph shows I had a better month than I allow myself in my memory. In general, the stats always seem better than the reality in my head. I need to get out of my head more often.

One last running highlight of the year that I’d like to mention was volunteering at the Berlin marathon. I somehow missed signing up for the lottery for 2017, but may just volunteer again, anyway.

Looking forwards, I intend to keep logging my running and keep updates with my blog posts. I also am running at least one marathon that I’d like to PR at on April 23rd. I haven’t decided yet if I will do another one (I signed up for one on April 15th, but am not sure about messing up my chance to PR on the 23rd), but for now the plan is to just slowly start upping the mileage anyway. I will also continue strength training, since I noticed a huge shift in the effort in the fall after the work I put into increasing my core and upper body strength.

I plan to get to 50 miles a week by the middle of February and once I’m there, double-marathon specific training can still be decided. I can also use this time to address my nutrition without stressing about specific workouts, and in general focus on my academic life a little more. In February, it’s time to reassess and think about later in the year. But for now, I’m satisfied in my planning and excited about a lot of easy and long runs.

Wishing you all a great year of running- and otherwise.

-Dorothea

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Remembering Trotting Through a Turkey Trot

I’m going to open up with this photo that makes me laugh each time I see it. This is definitely what I look like while running:

Running hamster

Photo credit goes to Julian Rad from Austria, who submitted it to Die Welt photo-contest.

But I really don’t have the time I’d like to dedicate to this post.

I just need to get this down before I get consumed by the finals haze and forget everything except for my name and the date. Wait, today’s still Saturday, right?

Let’s get started by saying today was not an ideal race to PR at.

First of all, this is what the weather looked like:

Temp (°F) 73° 74° 77° 78°
RealFeel® 78° 76° 78° 84°
Humidity 94% 88% 85% 83%
   
   5 AM  6 AM  7 AM  8 AM
Rain  

47%

 

51%

 

51%

 

47%

Snow  

0%

 

0%

 

0%

 

0%

  5 AM 6 AM 7 AM 8 AM
Wind (mph) 4 ESE 4 E 6 SE 6 SSE
UV Index 0 0 0 0
Cloud Cover 65% 62% 100% 96%
Dew Point 71° 70° 72° 73°

The race started at 7:31. On the plus side, there was 0% chance of snow, so that’s nice. Also, more seriously, 100% cloud cover is nothing to complain about.

But the dew point was no fun. If you recall this chart that I’ve talked about before, a dew point above 70 degrees is “very humid and uncomfortable,” and one should “expect pace to suffer greatly.” At least the chart isn’t telling me that I should skip the run, but I’ve run a race like that before, and it isn’t that much worse than it was today. It was raining off me already after my 15 minute warm-up, so I was already not thrilled about how this race was looking to go.

Then, let’s also consider that there were no course markings at this race, and my GPS watch has been broken for a few weeks. The race organizers are a good group, and I’ve run races with them before. I’ve never experienced a run with them without at least mile-markers though… if not the huge mile clock timers.

So yep. I basically ran this race “blind.”

At least I had my stopwatch on me, and I figured out that it was an out-and-back course at the turn-around point (which I reached around 10:38), so I was able to kind of know how I was in pacing… but not really. And I had none of the positive feedback that could have picked me up during miles two and three. I really struggled during minutes 15-17. It was getting even harder to breath- and that’s saying a lot since I started the race already trying to suck out the oxygen from the water in the air. I guess I’m lucky that part of the course was what I run every Saturday with the running group, so I knew the course to some extent. Otherwise, this race would have had three ingredients for a recipe of disaster.

But it wasn’t. It wasn’t a stellar race, and the weather makes me think that I could pull off a faster time in better conditions, but I did-in the end, after all the sweating and fretting and killing myself to get to the end without knowing if the end would even ever come- PR.

21:13.45

If you’ve been following me, you’ll know that this is breaking a nine year record. A new era of Dorothea running is beginning. I don’t even know what to do with myself today.

That’s all I have to say about that, really (and if I had more to say, I don’t have the time [and you probably don’t have the patience]).

Thanks for the support during the training leading up to this! This past week after the last log consisted of a rest-day, another rest day, a short, hard workout of 4x400s at race pace, an easy 4.2 miles, another rest day, an easy 21 minutes, and today’s race. I won’t have time for a separate post for my log this week, but I know some of you were rooting for me, and so I wanted to let you know that the support was well-placed; I appreciate it, and I have you to partially thank for this PR. Part of my motivation was “what would Paula, James, Harold, Chelsea and everyone else reading WordPress this weekend say?”

Official Results (if you’re interested in that sort of thing… or just don’t believe me ;) ): here  Sorry, but I have no splits or mid-race information… just the time. But that’s okay, too… once in a while. When I had my 21:15 PR, most running technology that we have today was not around.

Hope everyone having a run today had a great run, race, or anything in-between. Good luck to racers tomorrow and those who have Turkey Trots on actual turkey day. ;)

 

Running Update 9/14-9/22: in which I become the runner I was six years ago

Ahhh! New shoes. I got new shoes the moment my check cleared on Friday. I splurged for the ASICS Nimbus, which I’ve had before and do the best good for my legs, even if they are too expensive. They’re already making a difference and my legs are returning back to their usual level of whining.

However, that wasn’t the only thing good to happen in this training update. I ran 13.1 miles, was able to take a few days off without feeling guilty, and… ran my fastest 5K in 6 years.

6 years ago, I hadn’t done any marathons or half-marathons. I hadn’t earned my BA or MA. I weighed about 18 pounds less. I had my first fall without cross country in four years. I was playing soccer about every evening. That is all to say, I am not the same runner at all.

And yet today, I ran only one second slower than my fastest time since sophomore year in high school. Basically, in November 2006, I ran 21:15. In September 2009, I ran 21:18. Today, I ran 21:19.

Granted, I was on a treadmill in the gym. It was at .5 incline, but I’m aware the odds of gravity, traction, whatever were in my favor. Still, the 21:18 six years ago was also on a treadmill, and that has stood as one of my quickest runs.

I am so motivated right now, I can’t even begin to describe all the 5K races I want to go out and run.

In fact, I have two I’ve signed up for now- a turkey trot and a jingle-bell jog. They  were what got me out today to begin with, since I’m inspired to focus on 5Ks again. Because of the eminent races, I decided to shoot for my old PR and am basically going to revert back to high school in which I ran a 5K on Tuesday (almost) every week during cross country season. I want to start “racing” once a week again and then add a speed-workout on another day.

Today was just supposed to be a test-drive, a chance to gauge my fitness. I’m feeling pretty good about my fitness. Even if it was on a treadmill, I know I could have run faster. I was still breathing smoothly at 2 miles.

Then again, the run-up to this run may explain my success.

Since the last time I wrote:

Tue: 9/15- off and spinning
Wed: 9/16-off and spinning
Thurs: 9/17-off and off to a birthday celebration
Fri: 9/18- easy 2.5 miles with some circuit training
Sat: 9/19- 13.1 long run in 1:59 on the dot; Marco Polo in the pool
Sun: 9/20- off
Mon: 9/21- easy/tempo 5.3 in the park
Tue: 9/22- 5k success! (and a warm-up/cool-down of 1.05 each)

So, I guess one could attribute my run today to having last week off. However, I think it is also fair to consider that even though I haven’t been running more than 28 miles, and I’ve taken a lot of days off, I’ve been running at least a little each week. I also did a few interval/fartlek/tempo workouts throughout the last weeks. I’ve been increasing my long run… oh, and shoes.

It’s definitely the shoes.

I really can’t see exactly where my personal success from today comes from (I’m so proud! and a super dork), but now I need to reign myself in to not overdo training to get even faster, and to just relax for the next month and keep doing what I’m doing. I would be BEYOND stoked if I could finally break my 5K PR this fall/early winter.

We shall see.

Happy running!

-Dorothea

Race Ready- How do you know if you’re ready to race?

 How do you know when you’re ready to race? Generally, you don’t. However, there are usually a few indicators in your ability to follow a training plan and the runs in the days leading up to your race that will let you know if you’re ready or not. 

For example, let’s say it’s the week leading up to your 5K on the weekend and you do two one-mile runs at 5K race pace. Then, after a short rest, you do two 400 meters at 1-mile pace. If you complete these, you’re in pretty good shape to target that race pace for the 5K on the weekend.

Usually, if you’re able to nail a certain interval workout at race pace or better, you can feel fairly confident that you’ll be able to tackle similar distances during the race. Keep in mind that interval training runs are controlled environments in which you’re expected to feel pain, but also able to recover and do another good run the next day. Races are clearly more intense, painful, and allow for a much harder effort since few people actually need to conserve energy and speed for the next day or following days (unless you’re, you know, doing a hat-trick or something). Those shows of speed that you pull off in a training run are good indicators of the speed you can draw on during the race, especially if you follow a pretty easy regimen for the week with a rest day before or two-days before the race. 

Some other ways to know if you’re race ready is if you’re motivated to break a PR or a certain time, if you’ve been training for at least 4 weeks before a 5K or 6-weeks before a 10K, have good base, have been watching the diet and not gaining weight over the course of training… there’s many factors that come into race preparation. 

However, it’s also possible to be physiologically ready and not feel ready at all. This happens to many runners, especially the day before the race when one would rather just have the next 24-hours be done with and the race have already happened. It’s similar to the experience of putting alcohol on a wound. You know it’s going to hurt, but you know the wound needs to be disinfected and that you’ll be relieved afterwards. At that point before a race, the best thing to do is distract yourself. If you’ve done the training and you’ve done your best to prepare, even in last minute preparation, you’re going to be fine.

So, after that how-to, let’s see if I can follow my own advice. 

Monday’s run: 2 x 1 mile at 6:50 mpm with 5 minute rest; 2 x 400 meters at 6:18 mpm with 3 minute rest; 2 mile warm-up, 3-mile cool down. I should feel good that I nailed the pace for both miles, but I can’t help but be nervous. Goal for Saturday is to break 21:30. 

To race or not to race… Hey!

I can’t decide if I want to race next weekend (not this weekend, but the first of the month). But before I get into whether or not I should do it, let’s back-track a bit to the days where I raced every week and sometimes twice a week: high school cross country.

you know you’re a 90s kid when someone yells at you “run, Forrest, run” and you know what they’re referring to. We don’t have to backtrack that far now…

During high school, all the self-discipline I needed was to change into my running clothes (consisting of a cotton t-shirt and soccer shorts… I didn’t get fancy [or smart/cotton in Florida?] until college) and make it over to the cross country coach’s classroom. There were coolers with water and Gatorade, a group of running buddies, and a coach with a plan waiting for me. Now, I have to organize the times I run, the workouts I run, and I am almost always solo unless my brother deigns to join me. During high school, I also got to run races for free. I didn’t have to worry about the funds to pay registration fees or figure out ways to get to the races and pay for said gas. I had it made, as a runner. Now, on my TA funds (most of which go towards fueling myself for running), I find it hard to regularly sign up for a race.

Imagine how much money I would save if I quit running… all that food, laundry, running shoe material

Also, I have other things to worry about, like priorities. I had priorities in high school too, like getting good grades, hanging out with friends, having a boyfriend, but I also had a set amount of time to train every day and I needed surprisingly little sleep (though, based on my later results, that’s probably not true).

Now, my academic and social responsibilities require more work and more time. My responsibilities to my family are especially increased, and I am less likely to pop-off on a weekend morning to disappear for hours at a time. So, I am less likely to sign-up for a race because I feel that I am less likely to train for one or make it to the race. Take the last race for example, the Berlin City-Nacht 10K; I had to miss it… two months training out the window.

Therefore, in light of all the obstacles, I don’t know whether I should register for the race in question that’s coming up. Some factors that come into the decision are the fact that I’ve had a nagging plantar fasciitis issue and that I am preparing for MA exams that make it more likely for me to blow off a training run (like the one I’m avoiding for today).

I need to go for a run today… eh

I also don’t know if I’m prepared for this run. I have about four weeks of 30+ mileage weeks and the starts of cross country training. But I also haven’t been running very fast, and I won’t be able to train this weekend properly.

But now comes the fun part. What do you all think? I have 25 dollars that may or may not go towards the peanut butter fund.

Introduction

If you found this site through my main blog, deutscherwanderwolf, you may be tired of all these introductions. I probably could have introduced myself as a runner in my main blog, since it is a part of my identity. However,  my main blog is for the general public, and most people don’t care whether I’m a runner or not. Readers of this site, however, will likely care and want to read more about me as a runner.

So, yup. I’m a runner. I never really had the pride in that statement that others may have because I didn’t have a mighty transformation; it was more a transition from soccer to jogging to running. I’ve been running for about 13 years now.

I started playing soccer when I was 5 (more or less, can’t remember) and I was pretty good at running after the ball. I also liked to race my brother around the house and race my friends in school to lunch. I don’t know when I ran my first mile, probably in P.E. during middle school, but I know that I actually ran a decent distance in the eighth grade on the treadmills. That year, my classmates and I were given permission (read: required) to use the newly constructed weight room for our school. I wasn’t very interested in the weights that made my skinny arms hurt and counting repetitions seemed stupid. My favorite part was when we were allowed, after doing our daily weight sets, to do cardio for the remaining time. There was a competition with all the machines for who could complete the most distance. The treadmill was my machine of choice, but unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to go above 6 mph (something I found fairly simple) and so I always hoped for more time in order to get a higher distance. Eventually I ran three miles and won the prize (something I took for granted at the time-funny). My P.E. teacher nearly forgot to give me the prize, but she didn’t forget to advise me to run cross  country… which I did. Since then, my longest break from running has only been a few weeks.

I was on varsity right away in cross country, and the top runner by the end of the year. My first official time in a 5K race was 27 min. something. By the end of the year, I was running sub 24  min. (not  fast, but promising) and my coach was asking my parents to send me to running camp in Asheville. That didn’t happen, but my second year of cross country brought me to districts (a race I missed the previous year, since I didn’t realize it was important), regionals, and states. My best time at states was 21:15, and I was pretty proud of that. I figured I had two more years of competition and could cut off two more minutes, at least. I ran track that year too and made it to regionals in the 2 mile with a 12:58 time.

However, puberty, AP and IB classes, little sleep and social life took its toll my junior and senior year of high school. I did enough on the teams to be captain, MVP, and receive various scholar-athlete awards, but my running itself wasn’t really getting better. So after high school, I tried for a while to go longer. My end-goal was the marathon, but I started with a few half-marathons and ran my first full marathon when I was 20 at 4:08. It’s not bad, but disappointing when one considers that my best half-marathon time was 1:40. I could explain that disparity, but that will be another post. At any rate, I ran a second marathon the following year, another one in Hamburg while studying abroad, and a fourth one in Feb. 2016 where I PRed with 3:32. I had my share of difficulties along the way- training injuries, life getting in the way, but I started figuring out the marathon as a race (keep in mind, I never had any formal coaching for this kind of running) and  am looking to keep improving in the marathon distance. Eventually I’ll get the ultra marathon bug.

My two main running dreams are a sub-3 hour marathon and a 100+ mile race through something like the Sahara I’m young (26), so apparently I still have my best running days ahead of me.

Right now, I’m training for the Darß Marathon. I’ve been derailed by a broken toes, stress fractures, and wonky feet  for the past two years, making me miss three of the three marathons I signed up for. I’m hoping this training cycle goes well and that I can maybe PR and BQ again!

I usually run 5 days a week, so readers will likely have something to look at if they check-in! I plan to keep this site updated with my runs, habits, cross training notes and ideas, my weight training practices as related to running, and general news that I keep up with from the running world.

In the meantime, happy running to you,

DT

updated February 2018