Saturday, December 31, 2011

D - Took the Day off to enjoy with C

We're getting ready to head out for our new years plans (a tradition of getting Indian food with friends and then going to a party or two) - but I thought I would update about tomorrow. The weather for our Needham Nears Day 5k looks to be just about perfect. Forties and partly cloudy for a January Race seems too nice to have even hoped for.

To anyone out there, best of wishes for the new years!

Ending 2011 on a Rest Day

C - 0 miles, push ups galore

Today is a rest day for D and me - theory being that we'll race better tomorrow.  It felt nice to take the day off.  I'm not that worried about tomorrow.  Yes, lowering my 5K PR is one of my goals, but it's mostly my goal because then I'll know that I can run an even faster half marathon.

Happy New Years all!! Hopefully this time tomorrow, you'll be reading a happy race report to start off the new year.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Breakfast of champions

D- Ran 5.1 miles ~ 48 minutes

I think I was feeling the run from yesterday a bit, but it still felt good (though I felt like I was going faster).
My breakfast: The other day I bought a sesame seed bar from a corner store near my work. It was really good, so I grabbed this coconut flavored bar the last time I was there thinking it could be interesting.

Bar contains: Coconut, Rice Syrup... that is all. This bar was literally a brick of shaved coconut! It kind of reminds me of the sweetened shaved coconut my mom used to put in our waffles growing up. This bar is probably not the healthiest breakfast (29g of sugar!), or the greatest post work out food (only 1.4 grams of protien) - but it was a great alternative to a regular candy bar and something different.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Running in a Monochrome Gray World

C -  5 miles, 1 dead watch

Um, problem...
So, as I was getting ready to go running this morning, I put on the same watch that I've had for 4 years now, and I realized something wasn't right.  My watch was dead.  I went to show my father, but he was more concerned with my "gaudy" nail polish (apparently he's not a fan of Luminous Tulips).  I blame the dead watch on D, since he finally convinced me to use the "Chrono" setting a few months ago (kidding D!).  As for the colorful nails, I blame that on the weather.  After about a week of running in a monochrome gray world, I will start seeking out color with reckless abandon.

New Arm Warmers!!
(and no, I don't run dressed as a ninja, just had to
show off my final Christmas gift)
I promised yesterday to talk about my push ups.  I've only been doing them for about 2 months, but considering that 3 months ago I'd never done a "real" push up in my life, I'm quite happy with them.  I started out doing knee push ups (the type where your knees are bent rather than straight) or as we called them in my school, "girly" push ups.  Not a huge fan of that name.

Anyway, now I do push ups every other day.  I start out by doing as many "real" push ups as I can (my PR is the 6 that I did on Christmas Day), then I do knee push ups- I do 15 x 10 x 15 x 10 x 15.  Yes, I stop and stretch where all those "x"s are.  I have a weak upper body, but I'm trying to fix that.  After I started, Runner's World came out with a piece about runners needing whole body fitness for quality running, and they suggested some exercises that you can do to achieve this- here.  They suggest that women should be able to do 10 push ups and men should be able to do 20.  I can't do 10 yet, but I will.  Qualifying for Boston is hard enough without my legs having to do all the work.  Once I can do more than 10 push ups, I plan to start working on some of the other muscle groups that Runner's World suggests strengthening.  Hold me to that plan, will you D?

Meanwhile, my mom's final Christmas gift to me came last night- arm warmers!  I can't wait to start running with them.

(P.S. this is a Friday post, I just uploaded the picture of the arm warmers last night.)

Predicting your racing times and Why C has been winning

D here,

Are you ready to geek out with a bit of math! (Its running Math, so it should be fun)
Photo credit to NIU Today
As we approach races, I start compulsively breaking down my mile splits in my head, trying to figure out a pacing strategy. Ok, I may have even made a few excel spread sheets!

When I know how fast I can run a distance based on recent experience, these splits are very helpful, since they are based on a realistic goal time. This issue comes up when it's been a while, or I haven't run that race before. How do you or I know what is realistic?

In the past I've used the McMillan Running Calculator, but today, while reading Bob Glover and Shelly-lynn Florence Glover's the Competitive Runner's Handbook, I came across a cool formula. Follow these simple instructions:
  • Lookup your time for a distance you've recently run (22:16 at the 5k),
  • Find the world record for the same distance of your gender. (12:37 by Kenenisa Bekele)
  • try not to cry at the difference...
  • Divide the world record time by your time (12:37/22:16)*
  • This number is your percentage of the world record (.567)
  • Find the world record for your goal distance (58:23 for the half)
  • Finally Divide the world record by your percentage (58:23/.567)
  • Now you have your goal time of 1:42:58
Ok, so it's over ten minutes off my real half time of 1:52:10... but my 5k time was from a flat course, and I had a bit left over at the end of the half, so maybe this is a good goal!

Now for the fun part (for C), if your eyes haven't glazed over, you can use your percentage time to figure out how you stand against a competitor of the other gender!

  • Take your time for a distance you've recently run (22:16 at the 5k),
  • Find the world record for the same distance of your gender. (12:37 by Kenenisa Bekele)
  • Divide the world record time by your time (12:37/22:16)*
  • This number is your percentage of the world record (.567)
  • Take the time of your competitor (C) of the other gender (24:08 at the same 5k)
  • Find the world record for the same distance of their gender (14:11 by Tirunesh Dibaba)
  • Divide the world record time by their time (14:11/24:08)
  • You get your competitors score (.588)
  • Compare!

     So gender adjusted, C at the 5k, is actually .021 (or 21 if you're a baseball fan) points ahead of me! To beat her I just have to crank out a 21:28. If you've read about my goals, you'll know this is right on target for where I want to be... so ignore the photo to the left, I'm not giving up!

    You can also use this to compare performance over different distances!

    * When using excel or a free version like google spread sheets or open office, remember to express your times as 0:12:37 (H:MM:SS), otherwise functions won't work!

    Work day run

    D- ran 4 miles in 30:16...

    Today I met up with a friend I normally get lunch with to crank out a mid day run. What we set out to do as a "maintenance" run ended up being quite a bit faster pace than either of us train at. With good conversation, we hardly noticed. Maybe the course was short, or running on flat surfaces for a change helped, but I think the faster time was mostly because running with someone can literally be a nice change of pace.

    As for lunch day runs, I got to sleep in, have my evening free, and I only have to make up ten minutes of work. I strongly suggest trying this.

    Talking to S (the guy I ran with) we might even try some weekday speed sessions - schedules permitting.

    Racing Together, Apart

    D running a 5k that we ran in Vermont over Thanksgiving
    (he's the second person in this photo).
    Note 1- the lack of heel strike.
    Note 2- the lack of me (I'm somewhere around the bend).
    C ~3 miles ~27:50 (plus 4 push ups and a bunch of "knee" ones - more on this tomorrow)

    I say about 3 miles because I have no idea how accurate the run mapping program that I use is - especially on the twisty, somewhat hilly roads around my family's house.  I feel a little frustrated that I haven't run more miles this week, but D and I are starting a new training cycle, and it starts out slow.  I don't run high mileage weeks (my normal is around 25 miles or so), but if I run less than 20 miles a week, I start to go a little loopy.

    This week is an especially off week because D and I are going to exchange our long run on Saturday for a 5 miler tomorrow and a 5k race on Sunday.  Will the swap make my Sunday run any faster? Maybe, but short distances and speed aren't my skill set- speed is my annoying nemesis.  I'm trying to conquer it, but generally I end up wheezy and frustrated because I know I can move faster than I do.

    D's first half marathon, and
    my first real lesson on
    the values of race planning.
      As you've probably noticed, D and I don't race together.  We'll run any type of distance together in training, but we won't run any races together.  I refuse to be the reason that D's PR is one second less than it should be.  If I thought I was slowing him down, my race would be miserable.  As for D, he learned his lesson about running with me during our first half marathon.

    I'm sure D's version of his first half is different, but in my version of the story, the beginning to the course was mostly flat, beautiful, and partly packed dirt.  I felt amazing, and I went for it.  As in I went much, much, much too fast, and D unwittingly ran alongside me, "the pro."  I like to believe that I would have slowed down if I knew how much uphill there was at the end of that race, or if I knew that there were no gels . . . or energy drinks.  At the end of the race, we both crashed and burned on the uphills.  I passed D, but it's the only race that I've ended up walking any part of - I just couldn't make it up the seemingly never ending hills.  In the end, I learned never to run a half marathon without some type of energy aid.  D learned never to race with me.

    Wednesday, December 28, 2011

    These are a few of my favorite things

    D - Ran 4 miles ~36 minutes

    Todays run was a bit sluggish from holiday stresses, a few nights with less than desired sleep etc. However, forcing myself up, and doing my run regardless, felt pretty darn good. Now I'm settling into my desk.

    Aside from my Terra Cotta Warrios C brought me back from china that now protect my desk (as an FYI, they do not protect against computers randomly crashing) one of my favorite things on my desk is my Bodum Coffee press (right now brewing tea). This has been an improvement over the insta-coffee machine we have, and much cheaper than starbucks. I just wish it removed the tea/coffee better, after a bit it gets to be very strong.

    As a runner, who needs caffeine, this is a much better alternative to having soda on a daily basis.

    Gray Skies and Pink Shoes

    C - Ran 5 miles, time unknown 
    I'm still in Buffalo visiting my family, so today's run was snowy, gray, and cold.  Luckily, I had my new pink and white shoes to keep me motivated (yes, my shoes are Nike Pegasus- they work well for me).  There was enough snow on the roads that it felt more like cross-country skiing than running.  I like to think that the extra work it takes to run on snow means that I'm getting double the work out.

    This was my yummy after run treat.  The chai cookies were made by my lovely lean-cuisine cousin.  The smoothie has banana, strawberry, blueberry, pineapple, kiwi, mango, and orange juice (the more fruit the merrier right??).  I'm a big fan of smoothies whenever possible.  Still, I'm always on the hunt for new post-run snacks, so let me know what works best for you!

    Finally, there is SI Top Ten Sports Stories of 2011 - glad Mutai got recognized in the #4 slot.

    Tuesday, December 27, 2011

    Questions for D

    C: Ok D, your turn to share your running life. What inspired you to start this blog?

    D: We're constantly emailing each other news stories, training tips, upcoming races, blogs, gadgets - This seemed like a great way to keep all of this together. I also hope it will serve to keep us motivated, lay out our goals, and be a fun way to look back at how far our training has come as we (hopefully) achieve those goals.

    C:  Do you enjoy running more now that you're not competing in cross country?  What is different?  Is training easier or harder now that you're older?  Are your motivations different?  Why resume running now?

    D: I don't think I will ever relive the 'run till you puke' mentality of cross country racing in high school, but having a team and knowing your competition was fun. The downside is you fall apart a lot faster, and its easier to loose motivation. There is something Zen about getting out on the road by your self for no one but yourself. Going long slow distances has gotten easier with age, and now that we're creating our own workout schedule, I think I'm training smarter not harder. I started running again while talking to C, and once I started I remembered everything I used to love about running: The simplicity, the sweat and the sweet feeling after a good run. I'm finally running simply because I enjoy it.

    C:  What are your favorite running gadgets? Your running essentials?

    D: MyFuel Belt (Helium 2) is my favorite item I own. I honestly have no idea how we trained for our first half marathon without water belts. I particularly love the pouch so I can throw in a credit card and some Gel to fuel the longer runs.
    Aside from good shoes (I have 4 active pairs right now), dry wicking shirts and 50 lap watch there is also safety gear. A reflective vest (with chest pocket) is must have for morning runs in the winter. C just got me a key pouch with engraved ID from road id that I'm excited to try out soon.
    C:  What's your favorite run?  What race would you most like to run?

    D: My favorite race will always be the Hartford half marathon of 2011 (my second). I came in so far under my goal pace, my family hadn't even started looking for me yet. Realizing I was on pace to break two hours with 6.1 miles to go, I had a big grin on my face... then when I looked a second time and realized I had 5.1 miles to go and on top of it was feeling strong I had goosebumps over my entire body. Until I (If I) qualify for the Boston Marathon, I don't think any single moment in running will match that.
    I'm really excited to have the Boston Run to Remember on my list for 2012. I ran the five miler while C ran the half, so I feel like I need to experience the whole thing for myself.

    C: Do you run with or without headphones?  Why?

    D: Without for two reasons: Safety - I run in an area not known for cautious drivers or polite pedestrians, its good to have all my senses about me. The other reason is that I value the time while running to either let my mind wander or to focus on something really simple (splits, times, strategy.) Headphones get in the way of both. Treadmills are another story.

    C:  What is the most difficult part about running for you?  Have you had setbacks in your running?

    D: We all have our challenges to keep up with a race pace or just getting out the door to train. Right now its waking up while its still dark to get out the door for a run, or giving up my evenings to run after work. When I'm racing, I have a very weak mental game that lets the smallest things throw me off. To get over these, I just have to keep in mind "one foot in front of the other, check your form, be happy you can even run."
    About a year and a half ago I shattered my big toe (crush injury was the technical term) so that kept me from being able to even walk. After a few weeks of pretty major depression, then a month of lots of take out and TV, I started hitting the gym most days, but it wasn't the same.  It was over six months before I could hit the pavement. I just have to remember that feeling, and I usually can get myself motivated pretty quickly.

    C:  How will you feel when your girlfriend chicks you in our next half marathon?  (kidding!) What are your future running goals?

    D: Short term - for our next half marathon I want to run as well as my last, since I know its a slightly tougher course and running through the winter is a pain. In 2012, I want to drop my 5k times into 21minute range... maybe even faster? And pull a 1:45 at the Boston Run to Remember.
    Realistic long term goal - I want pull C to qualify for the Boston Marathon. While we're at it, I'd love to qualify myself (I'm already designing the tattoo if I do), but I haven't even tried the distance, so I will keep that goal to myself.

    C:  Where do you look for information about running?  How do you decide whose advice to take?

    D: I'm geeking out lately with a handful of running books (more on that later). RunnersWorld always provides some great inspirational stories mixed with useful tips. Blogs, athlinks, coolrunnings and talking to other runners also provide some great real world info as well. I have to give a lot of credit to Green Mountain Running Camp

    C:  If you could train with one professional runner, who would it be and why?

    D: I really can't just choose one. Of all the runners, I think Scott Jurek  and Kara Goucher would have the most to offer someone starting out running. They keep things down to earth in all the interviews I've heard. I might even be able to keep up with Scott... for a mile if he was doing 50. Lastly, Jenn Shelton's clean enjoyment of running just to run in every photo, interview and article make her deserving of a mention.  

    Our First Post: Questions for C

    To start off our Blog I thought it would be great to do a quick Q&A for C. Don't worry, this will not be our usual format!

    D: You did some light running in high school (a season of cross country), but what motivated you to get back into running, and then take on distance running?

    C:  I started running again when I moved back home to start graduate school.  I needed an outlet that was separate from school and home, and I wanted to feel as if I was moving forward (no pun intended!).  It was rewarding to run further and further each week, and I enjoyed having complete control over my running, when I couldn't always control how my research was going at school. 

    D: Now that you've logged a half dozen Half Marathons, what is your goal for your next one? What's your ultimate goal, and how cool is it on Athlinks for your halves your "latest" and "Best" are the same race!

    C:  :) My next goal is to beat you silly!  Seriously, when D and I began running I could run farther and I was faster at distances over a mile.  Now, he beat me at our last half marathon, and he's practically lapping me when we run short distances.  I knew he would eventually be faster, but it has been a humbling experience and I'm enjoying the challenge of trying to keep up while I can.  
    My ultimate time goal is to qualify for Boston- it may never happen, but I'd sure like to try.  My long term goal is to run as long as possible and to continue enjoying it.  Placing in local races and collecting some cute arm bands would be nice too...

    D: How about some inspiration. Out of your races, what was your favorite one, and more importantly, your favorite moment?

    C:  My favorite race was my first half marathon- the Niagara Falls International Half Marathon.  It was rewarding to know that I could race that far- plus it was held on a beautiful day, the course sloped gently downward the whole way, the course support was great, and my parents were waiting for me at the top of the Falls!   
    Niagara Falls International Marathon, Half Marathon, 10km, 5km - Sunday October 24, 2010
    My favorite moment was during a recent thanksgiving 5k, just after D cheered me to the finish, he and I went to "run in" the rest of my family members.  It was so wonderful to see everyone enjoying themselves and pushing themselves to the finish!!

    D: To stay motivated, research running techniques and to read about other runners, what are your favorite websites, books or magazines?

    C: I actually love podcasts- I listen to them sometimes when I run (it's a great way to get through a long run, if you're struggling with the length of time that you have to be out there).  Best podcast for runners? Marathon Talk!! No question, the British hosts know what they're talking about and have fun with their weekly show.
    I also enjoy other running blogs- we all like different things, but I'm a fan of Sweat Once A Day and Ali on the Run :)

    D: Do you have any tips for our readers on balancing what must be a ton of work in your final year of graduate school, a needy boyfriend and still find time to run?

    C: I have a needy boyfriend? I'd argue the opposite.  You're very supportive, and it helps to have someone to talk obsessively about running to!  I get a lot out of running- I feel healthier and stronger, and I get a mental break from whatever I'm working on.  Finding time can be difficult, but it's something I genuinely look forward to- so I find a way.

    D: Lastly, we all want to know, why did you decide to start a blog?

    C: Who is we? :) This idea was yours, and I'm looking forward to seeing it develop.  

    Time to for your questions...