Wednesday, May 30, 2012

May Mileage Summary

Posting this now because Thursday is almost always a rest day and I am done running for this month.

Total Miles: 125.4
Total Runs: 21
Average Distance per run: 6 miles
Average Speed/Pace: 7.1 mph/8:27 pace
Races: none
Highlights: just maintenance running
Up for next month: A rest for a few days or more (maybe) and the beginning of Marine Corps Marathon training. Oorah!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Minimalist Running

Sometime in the past, I said I wanted to try minimalist running when I wasn't training for anything. Well, I am in between training cycles. Now is the time to try it.

I already had a pair of miminalist shoes, the Saucony Hattori shoes (review here). I have been using them to help my balance during strength training. For that purpose, they were great. I could feel the floor better without all the cushioning of a running shoe.

The first time I tried running in the Hattoris, I ran maybe about a quarter mile total. It wasn't exactly the greatest idea to test them up and down hills, although I didn't really have much of a choice. Still, I could feel the difference. My calves felt it. My footstrike was different, mostly. I still landed mostly on my heels, especially on uphills but ran more on my toes on uphills. My stride was shorter. Much shorter. A few days later, I ran about .4 mile in them. Slowly. Then .6 mile on a treadmill slightly slower than my regular pace. My calves still felt it but not as much. Then .8 mile total. It was different, but good.

I know you have build slowly to minimalist running, and I do not intend to stick with it long-term. But I would like to work up to a couple of miles. A wee bit by a wee bit. Try it out to see what it's like.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Gansett Marathon Playlist

This is so behind the game that it isn't funny. I wrote the playlist down over a month ago and then didn't have a chance to update with my thoughts. Oops. After Shamrock, I assembled the random mishmosh of songs that I had during the marathon into a playlist and matched it to my Garmin map. I don't care enough to do that for Gansett. It's interesting enough that I am posting it anyway. Some songs work. Some songs don't. The ones that don't work get eliminated from future playlists. And then some songs surprise you. I never know which songs will end up being really helpful until I am out there.

Here's what my iPod picked me for the second half of the Gansett Marathon. It is in order, except for the 1st 7 songs. Songs with (S) are repeaters from Shamrock.

U2- Get on Your Boots. I think I knew this song was going to be first when I cued up my playlist.
U2 - Beautiful Day. I have a love-hate relationship with this song. No strong feelings about having it for Gansett, though.
Foo Fighters - Bridge Burning (S). I am keeping this song on future playlists.
Billy Idol - Rebel Yell. This song makes it onto every single running playlist. It saved me at mile 23 of Chicago.
Elvis Presley JXL Radio Edit Remix - A Little Less Conversation. This song is fun. Kinda like the Fraggle Rock songs.
Kevin Rudolf - I Made It (S). Haha, not yet.
The Naked and Famous - Young Blood. This song did not make the cut for earlier playlists. It made a return for Gansett.
Sean Kingston - Fire Burning (S). Keeper.
Chris Brown - Turn Up the Music (S). Yep, keeper again.
Dropkick Murphys - Captain Kelly's Kitchen. I tried to skip this song because I couldn't remember why I had it on my playlist. I thought the button on my headphones that skipped ahead to the next song, but the button paused my iPod instead. Oh well. Just go with it.
The Police - Everything Little Thing She Does is Magic
Switchfoot - The War Inside. Clever, iPod. This was around the point where I started bargaining with myself to keep running. Just run til the end of this song and you can take a break. Walk a little and start up again. Repeat.
Pitbull w/ Chris Brown - International Love. I can see myself getting tired of this song, but we'll see.
The Verve - Bittersweet Symphony. I remember hearing this song but didn't have any particular thoughts about it.
Switchfoot - Meant To Live. Not the first time this song has helped me in a race.
Journey - Don't Stop Believin'. Definitely a message you want to hear in a marathon.
Fraggle Rock - Stuff Samba. Short and upbeat and has the line "Do the stuff you've always done before."
Civil Twilight - Fire Escape. This was a new find through Pandora.
Lady Gag - Judas. Here because of the beat.
Incubus - Dig (S). Still love this song.
Switchfoot - Rise Above It. Good message for a marathon.
Hanson - Can't Stop. (S) Oh, you were really clever, iPod, picking this song again just like you did at the end of Shamrock.
Darshan (from the Bend It Like Beckham soundtrack). I like the beat of this song. I don't even think it is in English.
Switchfoot - The Sound. One of my favorite Switchfoot songs.
Pearl Jam - The Fixer. Yeah yeah yeah.
Katy Perry - Part of Me. This song was making me angry, but it might be one of the surprise helpful songs. I found myself thinking, "How badly do you want it?" I said out loud "I want it" and started running again.
Fitz & the Tantrums - Money Grabber. Kinda don't have any strong feelings about this song either. Has a good beat.
Fraggle Rock - Pass It On. Skipped. Just wasn't feeling it at the the very end of the race.
Wang Chung - Everybody Have Fun Tonight. My race playlists are heavily populated by girly pop songs and 80s music. Don't judge. And don't pretend like you don't like these songs too.

I pulled my headphones out a little bit before the end, probably about a little more than a quarter mile to go. The end.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Working It, Yet Another Week

I went back to running 5 times this week. I aimed to get closer to 30 miles. Why? No real reason. Just to see if I could do it.

I am going to plot out my Marine Corps Marathon training schedule and then confer with my training buddy to see if our training plans, long runs, and goals, match up. I am not sure whether I want to run as a pacer or try to go after sub-3:30. But I don't have to decide that just yet. In the next couple of weeks, yes, but not today. My plan will be some variation of Hal Higdon's Intermediate plan. Hal hasn't failed me yet. I have to think about whether I want to slightly increase my mileage or work with a slightly faster marathon goal pace. Or both. I increased both speed and distance for Shamrock, and that worked. Still don't have to decide that now, though.

Sunday - two 20-minute yoga podcasts. New ones. I liked them, except I have never heard of horse and need to look up the pose guide to see what it looks like. Also did lunges.

Monday - 5.2 mile run on the treadmill at a 7:30 pace. Not gonna lie, this was hard. Actually, the 3rd and 4th miles were the worst. The rest were OK. I am so way beyond done with Nike+. Yes, I have said this many times before. Yes, it is worth mentioning again. Eating half a mile at a 7:30 pace is beyond unacceptable.

Tuesday - 5.2 mile run in the mist. Warmish and humid. Relatively fast pace. Did one-legged squats, abs, and lower back in the evening.

Wednesday - 6 mile run with my Wednesday morning group. Easy pace. Still humid. Ran about .6 mile in my minimalist shoes, plus upper body strength training. I wish my gym had 12 pound free weights. 10 pounds isn't enough, but 15 pounds is too much. Did planks in the evening.

Thursday - Rest.

Friday - 5.2 mile run, partly with the husband. Essentially turned this into a tempo run. Ran easy the first 1.5 miles, then ran on my own at a faster pace, then ran with DH (sorta) for the last mile or so. Warm and humid. Anytime it feels like close to 80 degrees first thing in the morning is not a good thing.

Saturday - 11.2 mile long run. I was planning on 10 miles but couldn't find a turnaround landmark. Humid and warm. Again. I definitely enjoyed the shade in Rock Creek Park. I got out early and was done before it started getting hot and sunny. Ran at an 8:14 overall pace, which is on the fast end of my typical long run pace. Maybe it won't be so bad in DC in the summer. Just maybe.

Total Miles: 32.8. Woo for over 30!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Working It, Another Week

I guess this is another stepback week. Other than marathon recovery weeks, this was one of the first weeks in a long time where I only ran 4 times. It was partly a busy thing and partly an ankle thing. That pesky ankle is being pesky again. I took some extra rest this week, which seemed to help. I gotta figure this out before I attempt to ramp it up again.

I finally feel like 25-30 miles a week of running easily fits into my routine. Just a few years ago, 25-30 miles a week would have been the peak of half marathon training. I was tired, sore, and hungry on 25-30 miles a week. Now, it's my everyday running volume. While that many miles still make me hungry, I am no longer tired or sore. Never thought I would say that. Of course, I have gotten faster in just the last year alone. I am probably spending about the same amount of time running. Faster pace means more miles in the same amount of time. Good stuff.

Sunday - three 20-minute yoga podcasts, plus lunges and calf raises. Plus 4 minutes running in my Saucony Hattori minimalist shoes. Mapped it when I got home and figured it was about .4 mile.

Monday - 5.2 mile run in showery rain.

Tuesday - Upper body strength training, one-legged squats, and .6 mile running on the treadmill in the Hattoris.

Wednesday - 5.7 mile run with my Wednesday morning group. Humid as heck. 95% at the time we were done. Bleh. It is going to be a long summer.

Thursday - 4.1 mile run with the husband. Much less humid.

Friday - Rest. I did a whirlwind overnight trip to NYC on Thursday night and didn't get much sleep. Rest was probably a good idea. My ankle was feeling a lot better.

Saturday - 9.2 mile run in Rock Creek Park. I do so enjoy Rock Creek Park. Every time I am amazed at how quiet it is in the middle of city. Pleasant temperature and not too humid. Also did planks and pushups afterwards because I didn't do them earlier in the week.

Total Miles: 24.2 miles plus 1 mile (uncounted) in minimalist shoes.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Blogging for Mental Health. Yes, it relates to running.

Mental Health Blog Party Badge

This is a running blog. For today only, this is a mental health blog. Today is the Mental Health Month blog party.

Wait a second. Running and mental health are related. They go hand-in-hand pretty easily. See, I told you it all goes back to running. It always goes back to running.

Running is one of my mental health coping skills. It keeps me fit. Helps my health. Gets me outside. Helps me sleep better. Gives me time to think. Teaches me how to listen to my body. Strengthens my mental skills. Gives me goals. Clears my head. Improves my mood. Reduces stress. Some of my best runs have been on days when I was angry, upset, or otherwise not feeling it. Yet I got out there anyway and always felt better afterwards. You often regret sitting at home on the couch. You rarely regret going out for a run.

It isn't just running that provides the mental health benefits. It doesn't have to be the extreme miles of marathon training (like what I do most of the time). It doesn't have to be anywhere close to that. It doesn't have to be running. More generally, physical activity of any type can impart the similar benefits.  Even something as simple as short walks can help.

Why am I blogging about mental health? Because there is far too much stigma around mental health. Because far too often mental health issues lie in the silence. Because mental health permeates all aspects of our lives. Because it's too important not to.

You can find out more about the Mental Health Blog Party here or more information about mental health at

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Working It, One More Week

Yep, still no plan. What else is new?

I kinda pushed myself with the distance (not pace, though. That is one of the good things about running with my husband) last week, so I figured I'd back off this week. Stepback weeks ain't just for during training.

Sunday - 2.5 short yoga podcasts, plus lunges and calf raises. I need to find more yoga podcasts because I finally got bored of one that I have been doing for several weeks. Or I need to pull out Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown.

Monday - 4.4 mile run, plus planks. Cloudy but pleasant weather. I lied about getting used to the hills. I felt every single one of them when I ran on my own at my normal pace.

Tuesday - 4.2 mile run, plus upper body strength training. Easy paced run.

Wednesday - 5ish mile run. I paused my Garmin in the middle to cross a street and forgot to turn it back on. Lost about 2 miles, including a nasty hill. Oh well. Also did one-legged squats, pushups, lower back, and abs.

Thursday - Rest. Extra sleep.

Friday - 4.6 mile run. Cool and clear. Another easy paced run.

Saturday - 7.7 mile run on The Mall. Ran this one by time (warmed up for 5 minutes, ran about a half hour, and turned around) rather than distance. Tested drinking mostly Nuun. Good to know that it makes me thirsty, so I still need water.

Total Miles: about 26

Apparently, 4 miles is the new everyday distance. And I should probably start thinking about my Marine Corps Marathon training plan, shouldn't I?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Gansett Marathon Race Review

I ran the Gansett Marathon in Narragansett, RI on April 14, 2012. I am admittedly biased towards this race. This is a (formerly) local marathon for me. I really really miss living near Narragansett. Small towns in coastal New England have a charm like nowhere else. Narragansett in particular is special to me for a number of reasons.

I volunteered last year and saw that it was a quality event. I told myself eventually I was going to come back to Gansett and run it. Eventually just happened to be this year. Volunteering gave me extra knowledge since I've seen both sides of Gansett.

As of this week when new qualifying standards were announced (the standards dropped by 5 minutes as I suspected), I am no longer Gansett qualified. That's OK. That is exactly why I ran this year. Run it while I had the qualifying time and flexibility to run a marathon on short notice. Will I qualify again? Probably. But I don't have to. It's nice to not have that pressure.

I'm not going to post pictures, but check out last year's volunteer report and my Gansett race recap for a few photos.

My thoughts:

Extremely well-organized - Like, extremely. I cannot say enough good things about the race director yet again. He thought of everything. The level of detail was incredible. I am detail-oriented and even I was floored numerous times. Never seen anything like it anywhere else.

Size - Very small. So small it isn't chip-timed. I am surprised there were fewer runners this year than last year. I thought Gansett would grow. Too bad. Maybe next year?

Mile markers - Signs were every mile and half mile on handmade sandwich boards, plus a special sign at one mile to go. Painted marker on the road at 13.1 miles. Some jackal stole a few mile markers in between when the markers were put out in the morning and when runners came through. Who steals mile markers? Really? I didn't notice the mile 2 marker missing, I heard another runner's Garmin go off at the mile 10 marker, and a volunteer told us about an orange cone in place of the mile 13 marker (plus it was just before a halfway mark painted on the road).

The course - mostly flat, one hill, many gentle inclines and declines.The inclines and declines are so gentle that you can't really see them, but you can feel them. Many pretty areas. You'll see the ocean, the Point Judith Lighthouse, fishing boats in Galilee, The Towers, some big houses, and a couple of beaches.

Minimal course support - There were very limited spectators, but the ones who were out were great!

Weather - Unpredictable, although usually reasonable. Weather in New England in April is a crapshoot. You could get anything. We lucked out and got a perfect day this year. 

Camaraderie - Everyone is nice. I had several good conversations before, during, and after the race.

Participant lists - Some of the volunteers had lists with participants' names and bib numbers, so they cheered us by name. This is one of the extra nice things about running a small race.

Race DJ - He does all of the races in the Narragansett area. Announces you by name and qualifying race at the beginning of the second loop and at the finish.

Open course - Good and bad. Could be problematic because of inconsiderate Rhode Island drivers. It actually wasn't problematic. Yay. There are a couple of road sections with dangerous curves, but there were volunteers out to help us. I never felt unsafe. Volunteers and/or police were stationed at all major road crossings. Spectators can easily drive around to multiple points on the course during the race.

Aid stations - 13 total, spaced about every 2 miles. They are purposely placed in spots so that you pass them at least twice. In the second loop when most runners were running alone, a single volunteer held out a cup of water and a cup of Gatorade and you'd just tell the volunteer which one you wanted. An aid station at mile 12/23 had Gus. I only saw Gus the second time around, but then again I carry my own fuel anyway.

No frills - No expo, no medal, no pace groups, no cheering squads or on-course entertainment, no big sponsors, no silly costumes (OK, there were a couple of costumes. Literally a couple of costumes), no shuttles, no gear check.

But also no hassles - No big crowds. No lining up in corrals for ages. No waiting outside. There is no shuttle because there is plenty of free parking right next to the start, finish, and host hotel (all in the same area). There is no gear check because you can leave your bag in the hotel ballroom. Pick up your packet the evening before or day of the marathon. Hang around inside until just before the race starts. Use the real bathrooms in the hotel instead of port-a-potties.

Swag - This year had a long sleeve tech shirts (white with the Point Judith Lighthouse on the front, Gansett logo on the back, and nothing else ... not filled with corporate sponsors), a finishers patch, and a button. That's it.

Entry fee - $70, regardless of when you registered. This is a steal for a marathon. 

Transportation/hotels - I have family in the Providence area and drove down from there for the race, but I'd recommend renting a car and staying in Providence or Narragansett if you are coming from out-of-town. Or stay in Boston if you are also running Boston, rent a car, and drive down for the day.

Random tip - Check your packing list, and check it twice. Make sure you have all of your marathon gear. Since there is no expo, there is no opportunity to buy something you forgot. There is a running store in the neighboring town of Wakefield.

There were some minor things that went wrong, but those happen at any race and they were so minor they aren't worth mentioning. I have no doubt that the race director takes runner feedback seriously and will make changes in the future. 

Overall, this is a high quality event. I've done all sorts of races. Small local events. Big city marathons. Mid-size races. Everything in between. In all honesty, while I think it is worth trying out some of the big races, the big races turn into spectacles and are sometime more hassle than they are worth. Gansett was a world of departure from the big races.  It really is a marathoner's marathon. If you qualify and want a small race that is only about the marathon, run Gansett. If you are a 50 Stater trying to get your Rhode Island marathon in and qualify, run Gansett. It is leaps and bounds better than Cox Providence and Amica Newport (although for non-qualifiers, I'd recommend Amica over Cox).  I liked it a lot and would run it again (if I re-qualify). For now, I'll enjoy having my Gansett patch on my office bulletin board.

Working It: No Plan Edition

I am still exercising without a plan. Kinda back to "I want to do xyz things this week and run xx miles total this week." Then I'll figure out where to fit xyz things and xx miles in. I don't have access to group exercise classes anymore, and my apartment complex gym is fairly limited. Good thing I have my own yoga gear and an exercise ball. I might buy an extra exercise ball to donate to the apartment complex gym.

Sunday - 5K race. Owned it big time on a decently challenging course. 21:35 for a 6:57 pace. Schnikes.

Monday - 20-minute yoga podcast, upper body strength training, and calf raises in the morning. Abs, lower back, one-legged squats, and lunges in the evening.

Tuesday - 6.5 mile run. In the rain. Of course it stopped raining as soon as I was done. At least it was not cold. The husband came along for the first 1.5 miles or so and then I sent him home. He was having trouble with the hills. I was just starting to think that I wasn't really noticing the hills anymore. Difference of perspective I suppose.

Wednesday - 5.2 mile run on the treadmill. Skipped out on my morning run group because the weather forecast said thunderstorms, although I don't think we actually got thunderstorms. It is hot in the exercise room. Practice for summer running?

Thursday - Rest. Tried to get some extra sleep. It kinda worked. I gotta get more exercise because I sleep better the more I exercise.

Friday - 4.2 mile run, plus pushups and planks. It's starting to get warm and humid. Bah.

Saturday - 10.5 miles in Rock Creek Park. First double digit run since Gansett. I enjoy how quiet (and shady and flat) Rock Creek Park is. I almost think I am in rural Vermont, not Washington, DC. You know you really like running when you go out for 10 miles for absolutely no reason, other than you want to. I got going early because it was going to be humid and warm. Well, relatively warm. Drank everything in all 4 of my Fuelbelt bottles. It is going to be a long summer in DC.

Total Miles: 29.5