October 2015 Recap

Sometimes, I wonder if I’m pursuing the right field of work… I mean, I would much rather read and write about running than prepare for teaching/grade papers. But maybe that’s everyone. I’m sure once I can read/write about literature again, I’ll be much more motivated. Again, this post is more a way to procrastinate than anything else, but I think it’s also good to reflect on a month to see where I’ve been and where it takes me.

October 2015 is one of my best running months in nearly a year.

Sept 2014-Oct 2015

Last October, I was spending my first month studying abroad in Hamburg, Germany. There, running became a way to cope with anxiety of being “alone” (I wasn’t totally alone, but it sometimes felt that way) in a foreign country, and a way to fill in time and create a routine in a new place where I didn’t know what to do a lot of the time. That’s why Nov. 2014 was such a high mileage month! However, as one can see from the graph, my mileage dropped after my half marathon in Dec. After I developed PF, I used Jan. to recover and heal, and then I picked up mileage a bit through the spring to prepare for the Hamburg Marathon. Post marathon, I did what any mortal does and took a break. The summer was difficult to run regularly with summer courses, family vacation, and a lot of traveling. Since getting back to the states in August, I have slowly been increasing my mileage again.

However, Oct. saw a big jump that I’ll have to keep an eye on in case I do start feeling injury. There is always the danger of the PF flaring up again, and my knees complaining due to the resulting extra stress. On the other hand, while the mileage per month seems to have increased a lot, it’s only because my weekly mileage has been slowly inching up. Slowly enough that I’m not too worried.

August-Oct

This past month brought an increase in speed work and a good 5K test run. I’m building my long run throughout the fall, but being careful about that too.

Looking forward, I have a race planned for every month (the first time since freshman year of college- yay for adult paycheck!) and I’m excited about trying to PR in the 5K, half-marathon and marathon. The real goals are the 5K this month and the marathon in February, so there’s enough chance in between to relax and enjoy the holidays.

Looking at other people’s months, Oct. was a big month of racing and great running! I know for a lot of you readers, the winter is  time to recover from hard summers and falls, with the goal races in the spring again. Here in South Florida, winter is race season, so the Saturday group runs are becoming more full and racing calendars are filled.

Happy November, everyone! I’m excited about the last weeks of the semester and the winter break just around the corner.

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Homecoming for Autism Run/Walk 5K- Oct. 25th Race Report

As far as races go, this was a good one. As far as my performance goes, it was low-keyed, but I’m happy with the promise it shows!

Race results: 21:52.137

When I logged this run, I rated myself 8/10 for quality and 4/10 for effort. The interval training I’ve been doing is really paying off.
I kept this at a very easy, reasonable pace. 6:42 for the first mile, 7:08 for the second and 7:09 for the third. The hard goal (the one I was really aiming for) was to end without injuring myself. The soft goal was to go sub 22. It’s too soon to tell with the hard goal (though I hope!!!), but the soft goal was well met. Considering that I did NOT do my best, I think the PR in November is definitely doable!!!
I can’t wait. I just need to keep myself under control, and keep getting that speed work in.
This race was held on my university’s campus, and students were permitted to run for free (which is the main reason I decided to run– a race after my regular long run). I didn’t think I would run the race, otherwise I would have planned the last two weeks differently. Since I only registered on Wednesday, I decided to stick to my plan and run the race for fun. This attitude helped me through traffic on I-95 and kept me calm despite arriving on location no earlier than 17:15. The race was scheduled for 17:30, so foregoing a warm-up I didn’t need (since the run was the only thing I planned to log today), I parked my car, jogged over to the bib and t-shirt pick-ups, jogged back to the car, dropped off the shirt and my ID, and jogged to the starting line. After five incredibly calm minutes, we were off.
Hard to believe I was only just watering the plants.
Given the amount of running energy I felt at the start, I was surprised to find myself with the top 25 people. I could see all the girls in front of me, and kept them in view for the first half mile.
I found a comfortable pace from the get-go, nothing too speedy but enough to have a turnover I only use in intervals. I kept that pace for the first mile and rolled through in 6:42. At that point, shortly before the first (and only “hill” of the course), I told myself to reel it in. I actually did not want to go faster, because I’d injured myself on the hill two years ago, and told myself to slow down. Instead, I focused my energy on seeing who was around me, encouraging the one girl who overtook me, and passing on words of encouragement for those whom I passed. One guy, who started walking with .6 miles left, I gave a pat on the back and encouraged him to “pick it up,” telling him “you’re almost there.” Because I was not concerned about my performance this race, I had a lot more to give to my fellow runners, meaning I really enjoyed the experience more myself.
Running wise, the last two miles were uninteresting near easy splits, and I was just keeping watch on my legs (particularly my left knee, which gave me a spot of pain and my calves, which got a bit tight) and keeping myself under control. I didn’t even go in for a final sprint and I ignored my watch after the second mile started (other than to look at distance… I admit, I was ready for the race to end with about .35 left).
The end was nice. The last .12 were on the school track and I’ve been doing a few interval workouts there, so it felt like a special workout session.
I came through with a 21:xx, and I was just happy to be in under 22 minutes.
I was handed water by a former cross country mate (she unfortunately has a stress fracture, I hope it heals in time for the indoor season!) who is a star on the team I had a (very) short stint on. It was nice to chat with her for a bit, but then I headed out. I did my cool down run to the library to pick up a book (yup- I’m an athlete and a nerd) and jogged back to the track to let the race administrators (some university officials) know that I wouldn’t be sticking around and to pass on my age group award to the next person. Then I left.
Not accepting my award was both because I was tight on time, but also because I felt guilty for placing. See, the race was free for students, but I’m technically no longer a student so… I bandited, but not really since I was still in the system as a student to register. Let’s say, I took advantage of the system. Because of that, I didn’t make this a goal race, I didn’t want to place, and I didn’t want an award if someone else should get it. This brings up full-circle to registering last minute, doing a 10 mile run yesterday, and using this race as a tune-up for a potential future PR race. Let’s just wait to see what happens.
I have no idea how this recap was just organized, but it’s out there now.
Cheers, and good job to all the runners racing today, training, or resting (like a good runner should! I haven’t decided yet, if I should rest tomorrow or Tuesday).
D
 p.s. in review, I’m afraid this post may come off a bit “woo, look at me! Aren’t I great?!” Please be assured that I’m only competing against myself and am just happy about where I seem to be heading in terms of my own goals. I know I’m faster than a lot of people, but I’m also slower than a lot of people. This was a fairly easy race, and it was incredibly well-organized (something I didn’t spare enough words on). South Florida times are generally slower, but I am also in awe of the 13 year old who won the women’s race in 19:xx. Go Rylee! That is all, for now.

Rotary Run for Tomorrow Half-Marathon Recap

I haven’t updated this site of my blog in a while, other than to gleefully post my confirmation of my registration for the 2015 Haspa Hamburger Marathon. A lot of this is because of the pick-up in course work, some traveling within Germany, and my trip back home to the States for the holiday season. But I’ve been running consistently and using the events in my life to set up a decent taper for the last week.

December running update

Due to my race this morning, I didn’t worry about running a lot while in Nuernberg last weekend and I didn’t worry about running the day of my arrival in MIA nor on Friday, allowing for a short easy run yesterday. I arrived a bit later than I would have liked this morning at the race, meaning I could not warm-up for more than half a mile, but that was probably a good thing.

Basically, I arrived fairly well rested at the starting line. However, my biggest concern before waking up at o’dark thirty this morning was the exacerbated plantar fasciitis in my right foot, and it proved to be an issue through this morning. Thankfully, two days of almost rest and a lot of tennis ball rolling helped relieve the drastic symptoms my feet were displaying from playing indoor soccer on Monday and Wednesday… but soccer is my first love, so I don’t regret deciding to play. At any rate, I taped my foot up this morning, and even though 13.1 miles of pounding pavement resulted in a nasty blister when I removed the tape, I was free of the worst of the plantar pain during the entirety of the race.

It was a good race. I would say it was perfect, but my competitive self would have liked to have gotten top 10 in the women section. I ended up being the 11th female to cross the line.

But, the weather was great (55 degrees Fahrenheit were ideal, and coming from the cold north German climate, it was more comfortable than my Floridian counterparts), I felt strong, gave it 105%, and have a new personal best:

1:38:52

When I say that I gave it 105%, I acknowledge to myself that I ran a race to feel proud of. Not 110% proud (I wasn’t dying by the end), but proud none-the-less (and not just because I PR’ed).

The first five miles of the race flew by. I actually ran mile one in 7:12, so I knew I had started off too fast. But I was feeling good, so I decided to only slow down a little and see what would happen as the race continued. It wasn’t a bad choice, considering that I stuck at a pretty steady 7:25 mpm pace for most of the race, but my last miles were closer to the 7:35 mpm, with the same effort of the first miles, so I know that I probably could have conserved my energy more wisely. However, seeing as this is the first real half-marathon I’ve run since winter 2012, I’m okay with having made a mistake or two.

I went into this race without a concrete plan. Similar to what I stated in  my intuitive running post, I wasn’t looking for a PR as much as a solid gauge of my fitness. Therefore, I also didn’t really plan a time or pace. I knew at the back of my mind that I wanted to get sub-1:40 and PR, but that was only because I felt like I was fit for it, not that I thought I had trained for it and therefore should get that particular time. I like this approach to racing, and may actually chose to use this approach in the future. The pressure of reaching the time one imagines for oneself during training, or having a training plan designed around a certain time, can actually be counter-productive. At least, for me, it has always lead to injury and disappointment. Today, I started the run thinking to do what felt good until the half-way point, and then after 6.55 miles, I would try to push myself.

Pushing myself came unexpectedly early, because around mile 5, I was overtaken by another woman who was running faster, but at a pace that was still comfortable for me. I decided to try and keep up with her, and having her beside me, telling me a few times that I was doing well or to take deep breaths, was nice. I appreciated her companionship for about a mile, until I decided I would rather slow down a bit before speeding up again. I guess she was also a reminder of why it’s nice to not run with music during a race (I had actually planned on running with my MP3, only to find out that it had no battery). While running with her, I also found out from a spectator that we were the 9th and 10th women on the course. Of course, after hearing that, all I could think of was staying at least as top ten.

So I pushed myself earlier than I expected, and therefore, after backing off again, took it easy longer than originally planned: until about mile 8. I crossed mile 8 at 59:30ish, so I just thought to myself that I only had five miles to go, and I could definitely finish those quicker than 40 minutes. Then, I thought, I could also do faster than 8 mpm, and I could maybe keep 7:30 mpm, and if I did that… I was also holding my number 10 place, so I was okay with just trying to keep the pace. That was my next goal and for the rest of the race, I just tried to keep 7:30 mpm. That is, until another woman caught up to me and I couldn’t stay with her since keeping 7:30 was barely happening and I just ran to finish without giving up.

(here’s the part I’m proud of), I didn’t give up pushing. I even put forth more effort to combat my slowly cramping thighs and weakening muscles (even though it was still only around 7:32 pace, I was pushing hard). A few of the thoughts that ran through my head were things like “people talk about the pain of the end of a race all the time,” “this pain is normal, I’m supposed to be feeling this” and “damn, even if I don’t get top ten, those other women aren’t that far ahead, maybe, if I don’t give up now, I can still catch up.”

By mile 12 and a half, I realized I wouldn’t be able to beat the other women, but I also realized that if I wanted to PR I would have to kick that in stone. I couldn’t run any faster than I already was (no end sprint for me, for the first time in a long time of racing), but I could hold on… and that I did–all the way until I saw the finish line and that I was at 1:38:30 and I just thought, man, I should try to get it under 1:39. Success. It’s not a spectacular time by many people’s standards, but as long as I am able to get faster as I get older, I’m happy. I don’t expect to be running some exceptional times for another seven years at least.

The course was good and fast. Florida is flat, but the race had one minor incline (a bridge over the turnpike). It was all pavement with a few different out and backs (three U-turns). I’m really happy with this race, since it confirmed the way I’ve been feeling in shape for a while now. The longer miles during the week as well as increased mileage have heightened my endurance, and soccer and bike riding have greatly improved my fitness. I’ve also lost about five pounds since my last race, and I think not having to carry around that extra weight helped in beating my previous PR by more than a minute and a half.

So, yup. I’m happy. I hope all of you had a good weekend and are happy as well.

Since I gave myself a glorious foot blister that has lost its protective skin covering, I am going to take it easy until it heals, perhaps biking more than anything else. For the rest of December I am also going to take it easy, running-wise, to give my fasciitis a chance to settle (I’m thinking of getting a boot or some orthotics or so) and to give my body some recovery from the 2.5 months of daily heavy activity. That way, once I’m back in Germany at the beginning of January, I can safely get started on marathon training. I’m excited!