Thursday, April 29, 2010

4 days until the 1/2 marathon

Four days to go until 1/2 marathon... After reading so many blogs and so many books, I think I have mastered the theory pretty well, even if the application eludes me. So here is what I know:

- The Pittsburgh 1/2 marathon was not supposed to be an "A" race, which means I should not taper too much for it.

- I should not have great expectations since it is my first race and tons of things are doomed to happen.

The reality is vastly different. Initially I chose to do the 1/2 marathon as practice for my 1/2 Ironman in August and to keep me motivated to run (which I thought would be hard). However, after three months, I am enjoying running and look forward to the 1/2 marathon as a great opportunity to test my running. I was not going to taper for the 1/2 marathon, since I figured I need all the training I can get before this summer, however it all worked out differently.

I think I worked out a bit too hard last week, and despite taking Saturday off, could not coerce my legs to move on Sunday. So I skipped Sunday's workouts (the fact that the weather was crappy made the decision pretty easy). My totals for last week were:
Week 15 (19 April)
Swim: 8,400 yds
Bike: 80 miles

Run: 20 miles
Total: 11 hours

This week also did not start very promisingly. I cut Monday's swim short (this swim did include my personal best on 200 yds x 3: 3:12, 3:12, 3:13 and 100 IM, 1:49) and skipped Monday evening's run. On Tuesday morning I did make it to the gym and did my hardest gym-bike-trainer to date. 2 hours at an average of 17.5 mph (it was a gym trainer so who knows how well calibrated it was) and an average heart rate of 142. I guess I did manage to rest the legs after all.

On Tuesday evening, I timed myself on a 10K and did it in 54:35. According to McMillan's calculator, I could finish the 1/2 in slightly over 2 hours (2:01:27). When I plug my last 5K time (25:06 on a certified course), I could even do it in 1:56:01. So my super super goal is to get it done in under 2 hours. My more realistic goal is to finish in under 2:15. And my more basic goal is to just finish the thing and have fun...
Yesterday after my 10K and groceries. Pretty happy reading blogs and EATING!

So now, I am trying to balance the need to keep up with my triathlon training and keep my legs rested for Sunday. Today I went for another 2 hour gym-bike-trainer workout and only managed to hang on for 1:45 before calling it quits. Tomorrow and Friday I am planning to swim in the morning, bike tomorrow evening and run on Friday night. Saturday we will be visiting Pittsburgh so we will be doing a lot of walking. Excluding the walking and the 1/2 marathon, that will still be about 10 hours of training.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


I just realized that I had not posted in almost two weeks. And no, I have not yet quit. There just wasn't much to tell. Training has been going well. Yet, as I was reading through my older posts I realized it was nice to have some kind of training journal. So instead of posting my training on Facebook, I think I will try to keep the blog a bit more up to date.

The past two weeks have been pretty good training wise. On Friday of last week I finally managed to get that elusive 12 mile run in. I was planning on 8 to 10, but after I started I decided to go for 12. According to my brand new buddy Garmin, my average moving pace was 10:07. That means no sub-2 hour 1/2 marathon for me next week but at least I should be able to finish... On Tuesday of this week I tried to duplicate the feat, but I blew up after the very steep hill half-way through mile 11. So I cut my run short to 10.89 miles. My average moving pace for those first 10 miles was 10:12 (Friday) vs. 9:53 (Tuesday) so only about 20 seconds per mile faster. I don't think I was going that much faster. I also did a few shorter runs, mostly 4 milers including one (Wednesday 14th) at an average pace of 8:47, the same day I did 45 miles on the bike for the first time.

Biking is going well distance wise. I managed a 45 mile ride last week and a 55 mile ride this week. Both were pretty hilly and therefore slow (average speed 12 to 13 mph). For the next two months my goals are to get comfortable riding for 55 miles (and not just "survive) and gradually increase my speed. I also started going to spinning class.

This week my swimming went much better than last week. Last week I wimped out and only managed one real swim (that was cut short). I paid for it dearly on Monday, when I got tired after a paltry 2,400yds. I redeemed myself with 2 3,200 yds swims. On Wednesday, after a quick 800 yds warm-up I timed myself on 1,650 and 800 yds. I can't remember the times but they weren't stellar. On Friday I did a 1,200 yds warm-up (I skipped the 200 yds kick and 4 x 50 yds sprint), followed by 2 timed 800 yds. The first one was 13:55, the second a crazy 13:25. I know these times are pretty pathetic, especially for a former swimmer. But I haven't done any serious swimming in years, and even now, I am working hard on my running and biking. I figured there isn't that much time I can make up on the swim.

Last weekend we went to Washington D.C. with my in-laws and had an amazing time. We went sushi eating, museum seeing, sushi eating, bike accessories shopping, running pants shopping, sushi eating, capitols steps watching, zoo visiting, and more sushi eating... It was awesome. I also got two half-hearted workouts done in the hotel gym. They weren't too bad, except for the extremely hung-over guy that started sweating profusely on the bike next to mine. The smell was disturbing... The drive to DC was however very unpleasant as most of it was done in a terrible storm. We stopped at the Dunkin Donuts in Urbana, MD and got completely soaked in the short distance between the car and the shop. Ondrej (my hubby) did not have a second pair of pants so he had to borrow one the pairs of workout pants that I had brought along... CAREFUL: as it may damage your vision...
These are my totals since the last time I posted them:
Week 11 (22 March)
Swim: 7,150 yds
Bike: 94 miles

Run: 15 miles

Total: 11 hours

Week 12 (29 March)
Swim: 6,000 yds
Bike: 100 miles

Run: 33 miles
Total: 13:15 hours

Week 13 (05 April)
Swim: 8,400 yds
Bike: 120 miles
Run: 20 miles
Total: 13:45 hours

Week 14 (12 April)
Swim: 3,200 yds
Bike: 105 miles

Run: 30 miles
Total: 13 hours

The week ending tomorrow sounds promising. I already got my "long" run in on Tuesday (the 10.89 miles), and my long bike on Thursday (55 miles on hilly Purdue Mountain Road) with a few shorter runs here and there. I would like to get another 40 miles in tomorrow, but the weather does not look very promising. I also am thinking of doing a local 5K. The cause is worthy (special olympics) but the price is high ($35). But the temptation to go for another 5K PR is great. I took today off (after 3,200 yds of swimming, 6 miles of running, and 20 miles of riding yesterday) so my legs should not be as tired tomorrow as they were on my last 5K. And if I remember not to overeat breakfast, to use my inhaler, and to not overeat breakfast, I should be able to drop my time...?

Monday, April 12, 2010

5K PR (again)

The joys of starting out a training program are many. The best one must the 5K PR at each attempt. Today, my good buddy Dan and I ran the Kines 5K. With three weeks to go to the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon, I am trying to practice running in crowds (not my favorite). And I really wanted to beat my time from last week (26:05). Learning from last week's mistakes, I did not forget my asthma inhaler (still was wheezing and coughing but I think it helped), I did not have a supersized breakfast (just mildly so) and I warmed up (for five minutes).

The course starts with a looooong downhill, followed by a mild uphill with a few steep parts thrown in for fun and ends with a slow downhill.I don't know what my splits were (I got my brand new Garmin 405cx in the mail yesterday and practiced/tested it yesterday on a short run, but miserably failed to get it going at the start of the race...) but I think I slowed down a lot on the last mile, I was completely done. I was a bit disappointed that I did not have anything left in me for a final sprint. A few people ran past me on the last 0.2 miles and I could just not follow. But I think 4+ hours of training the day before kinda did me in. Maybe at the next attempt I will ease up the day before. I still bettered my time by an entire minute (actually 59 seconds but 1 minute sounds better) and finished in 25:06. I would have been even more excited to win one of the road ID vouchers at the raffle, but I can't have it all :-)

Even though I put in a very good week that included 120+ miles on the bike (of which 48 outside at a good pace) and 8,000 yds in the pool, I failed miserably (again) at the long run. I think a mild norovirus struck early today. I managed the 5K despite some "discomfort" but I could not imagine running for 2 hours... So yes, I failed again at the most important workout of the week. As of next week, I am moving my long run to Friday or Monday, first thing in the day. Nah.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

So far, so good

So far this week has been good to me. I nailed my Monday AM swim, even though I really didn't feel like finishing the workout. I did 10x100 and if I recall correctly, kept them all under 1.37, but it might have been 1.33. Today I did another 3,200 yards, including 3x400. They clocked in at 6.37, 6.37 and 6.25. I also did 4x50 and I think I did 43, 43, 44, 42 seconds. Monday PM I took a rest. Yesterday included 30 miles on the gym's bike trainer and 8 miles outside in really really hot weather (29C). This evening I did a spinning class which kicked my rear end royally. So 5 good consecutive workouts in 3 days. Only 7 more to go until my next day off...

My dilemma is to Garmin or not to Garmin. Still thinking about that one. I am a data junkie, so I think having numbers to play with may motivate me to run further and faster. But I should be able to do that without 300+USD on a new watch right?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

New 5K PR and lovely ride

I ran in the Lactic Acid 5K today, organized by the Penn State Triathlon club. Until about an hour before the race I wasn't sure I was going to go since I had planned a 45 mile ride. The one I have been postponing for several weeks now... In the end, even though I ran 6 miles every day on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, I decided to try to set a new PR. I was a bit disapointed that I did not get under 25 minutes, I felt I could have. But I was happy with 26 minutes and something (no results posted yet). I made a few key mistakes.
#1 I forgot to use my inhaler, so the wheezing started pretty much straight away
#2 I ate waaaaaaaaaay too much breakfast (I thought I was riding 45 miles...)
#3 I did not warm up (I was worried about #2)
#4 I went out too fast (sub 8 minute 1 mile)
I was a bit worried since all the runners (at least 95%) looked extremely fit and like they knew what they were doing. Still, I managed to stay ahead of a few of them.

After the 5K, awesome wubby, great friend Dan and I went on a ride to Centre Hall, PA. We stopped on the way at the Mount Nittany Winery and Vineyard for some sightseeing (and no tasting) and then went on for some massive pizza at Brother's Pizza in Centre Hall. On the way back we rode through Lemont (another picturesque PA village). 35 very easy miles. My legs were tired. I still owe myself a real 45 mile ride, and I am several long runs behind, but for today my legs were shot. Tomorrow I am attempting (again) the 12-mile long run. Pittsburgh 1/2 marathon is only 4 weeks away...