Monday, April 04, 2011
So, this past week the weather warmed up considerably which has made me quite anxious about the possible weather on race day this coming Saturday.
Two weeks ago it was cold enough for me to wear gloves in the mornings when I ran before dawn with lows in the 40's highs in the mid 60's. This past week it was in the upper 80's and low 90's and the 10-day forecast had been calling for more temps in the 70's and 80's this week. I don't mind running a race in the 60s, maybe the low-mid 70's, but I certainly would prefer not to race in the 80's or especially 90's.
However, as the days have passed, the 10-day forecast has seen some big changes.
First, there was the possibility of rain on Friday, with Saturday being partially cloudy and a high of 72. That would mean 60's for most of the race with it warming up to 70 by the race's end. That's what I have been planning for and I was okay with that.
A couple days ago, the forecast changed to show still partly cloudy, but with highs around 67 on race day. That sounded nicer.
Now, the forecast is calling for highs around 60 with a decent chance of rain for both Friday AND Saturday. The LOW forecast temp is 45! That's nearly the same temperature (42) we had in December for my first half. Now, instead of wearing just a t-shirt and shorts, I may actually need to consider wearing some type of sleeves. This is craziness! What's next, snow?
Cloudy with start time temps in the 50's would be perfect, but I'll take anything close, at this point. Hurrah for the cold!
Unfortunately, cold and rain would mean my wife and 10-month old daughter would not be able to watch my race. So, it's a mixed bag. We will wait and see what the weather will be, but it's at least shaping up to be pretty decent racing weather.
Sunday, April 03, 2011
Tomorrow is only a 6-miler as I rest up for my race next Saturday. If I asked 18 year-old me if I would ever say that, he would reply that I was crazy (tho, he might be right, but I digress). On Friday I was telling someone that on Sunday I was ONLY going to be running six miles, and I thought to myself, "Did I just say 'ONLY six miles!'?" I remember nine months ago, looking at my training schedule for my first half marathon and being horrified that halfway through my training I would regularly be running 4-5 miles twice every week plus six miles or more for my long runs every Sunday. And now, here I am training for my second half and I'm telling someone that I will be ONLY running SIX miles!
As of this morning, I am nearly over my cold. The weather forecast for race day is looking more and more promising. I am looking forward to my short runs this week which also give me a few minutes of extra sleep every day. Hopefully my beautiful wife and child will also be over their colds by then as well so they can come out and watch - and also so my wife will stop hacking up a lung as she falls asleep at night (but, that was me last week, so I can't really complain).
Regardless, two rest days have allowed my confidence to grow once more and hopefully I will have some good runs this week to keep it growing in the right direction. I am starting to get excited for the race, again. My current point of anxiety simply is what route I can take to drive to the race and where I can park. Simple enough, eh? I can think of a lot worse things that I could possibly be worried about, but I will try not to think about them. Don't think about white polar bears... Don't think about white polar bears....
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
It's amazing how high confidence get be built when things are going great, and then how low it can fall when things are not, even when one only *thinks* things are not going great.
Take, for instance, training for my first half marathon. I felt great. My runs went well. I continued to improve my times. By the time the race rolled around I was brimming with confidence and had an awesome race.
Compare that to my current training for my second half. I started my training a little later than I probably should have which was nothing I worried about since I felt I had a couple extra weeks. Then I missed two long runs and had a stomach bug for a week, and am now going on my second week with a cold. I expected my training times to continue to improve from those during my first training, but for the most part they have been about the same and while I've been sick they've been slower. Now, even though I want to be confident about my race which is now just over a week away, I continue to be wracked by anxiety about feeling sick and slow and weak.
In truth, I really am at about the same point I was for my first half. Sure, my legs are a little more sore, and I am battling a cold, but I should be over this cold by then and I just finished my longest runs and started my taper so it's not surprising I'm feeling a little tired and by the end of next week I should be feeling much better.
But, it's hard to tell my brain that.
It's similar to the differences I feel between running in front of someone and running behind someone. I could be in the same shape and run the same speed. If I am running in front of someone who is running the same pace as me, I feel fast, I feel pushed, I feel in control, I feel like I could accelerate away and lose them at any time. Move that same runner 10 feet forward so they are now running in front of me and suddenly I feel slow, I feel tired, I feel pulled, I feel like I'm barely clinging to their heels, I feel like they could accelerate away from me at any moment. Move them back behind me and I am suddenly in control again. It's all a mind game.
No matter how many times I tell myself I will be fine and I will do great, it's just not sinking in. I'm anxious about the weather and my health and my training. I am no longer excited about my race. I am anxious to get it over with, and I hate this feeling.
The one thing that helps me? I've been here before. Twenty years ago I spent four years underachieving and I am just now finally proving to myself that I can achieve what I want when I just have confidence in myself and the ability to push myself when it hurts. It's still not easy, though. Will it ever be?
Pain is temporary. Legends are forever.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Today I ran 12 miles which is my last long distance run before my half marathon that's now less than two weeks away. I was a little nervous because I've missed two of my last 3 long distance runs. Two weeks ago I ran 10.6 miles and two weeks before that I ran 8.4 miles. I wasn't sure if my body was completely ready for 12 miles, but I needed to get it done because 13.1 is coming up on April 9th whether I'm ready or not. After running today's 12 miles, I'm still not sure if I am ready or not.
This was only a training run and especially with all my uncertainty over my conditioning (even tho I ran my first half back in December), and having been suffering for the last 5 days from either allergies or a cold, my plan was to run slow and ignore how long it took. During the week I run my 3, 4, and 5 mile runs usually around 9 minute mile pace (except for intervals and recovery runs). I drank a bunch of water, ate a granola bar and then left the house at 7:45 am and told my wife I would be back by 10:30 am (to include time for my cool down). I really figured it was going to be a slow run.
I'd run the route before, so I knew what to expect. The first two miles were all a slight downhill (except for a freeway overpass), so I tried to make sure I started out extra slow. As I finished that section, I started a slow slight uphill that would last until mile 6. Almost instantly my body seemed to lack energy as if I was out-of-shape. But, I've gotten in all of my mid-week workouts and they are all between 3 and 5 miles, so at the 2.5 mile mark, I wasn't sure what was going on.
I stopped at a red light at the end of mile 3 and collected myself before moving on when the light changed. As I passed the 4 and 5 mile marks I continued to grown concerned. There were no real sharp pains or anything like that, just that same general tiredness and out-of-shape lack of energy. I'd been on this route many times for many different workouts, but never felt this bad, before. Since it was just a training run, my goal was just to finish, so I allowed myself to slow down as needed.
After I passed mile 6, I checked my watch and was surprised to see that I had been running for almost exactly an hour which meant I was averaging 10 minute miles. I was quite surprised and figured something had to be wrong. Between miles 6 and 7 I was happier than usual to know that I was halfway finished, but still felt no better and allowed myself to slow the pace, some. My shoulder - which I hurt back in November and am just now getting physical therapy for - was tightening up and had started to pop every time my arm swung back and forth. It didn't cause any sharp pains, but still was not at all pleasant.
Halfway past mile 7 I checked my watch again and found I was still right on a 10 minute mile pace. I began to question whether I had my route measured out correctly, or if I had my mile posts messed up in my head. I stopped and walked for a minute to check my map on my phone - and to stretch out my shoulder a bit - then started up again.
Around 8.5 miles, either my stomach started to cramp or my abs started to tighten up. I couldn't quite tell, exactly, but I began to consider turning at the next street and making this run only 11 miles or staying the course, but walking the last mile as a cool down. I was that unsure about whether I could finish. I started taking deeper breaths to make the tightening in my mid-section go away (with mild success). After mile 9 I deliberately stopped at another red light to catch my breath and let my muscles relax and stretch out my shoulder, again.
Close to mile 10, two women came from the other direction and turned began to run the same direction, but on the other side of the street. They ran ever so slightly faster than me, as if they knew I was laboring and were trying to rub it in as they ran and chatted. They were obviously feeling much better than I was. I was just trying to make it home, at this point. I was determined to keep running, even though my legs were now screaming, regardless of how much slower I had to run - and it sure felt like I was running pretty slow, even though the two women weren't really pulling that far ahead of me.
Finally, I turned the second to last corner and had just over a mile left. At this point I knew that I was going to run the rest of the way unless my legs completely collapsed out from under me (which seemed to be a distinct possibility). I never pushed myself to run faster, only to keep running. I plodded down the street concentrating on each step I was taking until I turned the last corner and headed down the last eighth of a mile. I picked up the pace for the last 20 or so meters, but not by that much.
When I hit the end of my run I hit my watch and then looked down fully expecting to see 2:15, 2:20 or even 2:30. Instead, to my surprise, my watch read 2:01:45. 2 hours and 2 minutes?! For the last 3.5 miles I had felt like I was barely moving and was on my last legs and I would be lucky to even make it home without walking the last mile or two, and yet my watch is telling me I still was running a 10 minute mile pace? I checked the map of my run when I got home and everything was correct. My stop watch matched with the times I left and the time I returned home and the course measurements were correct. I had run 12.06 miles in 2 hours and 2 minutes. When I ran this route in November, 2 weeks before the Las Vegas half marathon, I ran it in 2 hours 5 minutes, but I felt a whole lot better than this.
I was expecting today's run to be slow and comfortable; I wasn't going to push myself at all and was going to accept whatever time I ran. I knew I was going to be tired, but not until I was close to the end of the run. Now, I am surprised both at how fast I ran it, but also at how bad I felt; and I'm not sure what this means for my conditioning. I thought I was running slow, but was really running faster than I thought, so that could mean I am in better shape than I thought. However, I felt tired and sore and lacking energy which makes me think that I am not in as good of condition as I was hoping to be because of those two recently missed long runs. Or maybe it was because I haven't been getting enough sleep, lately, and/or because I didn't sleep that well last night since I went to bed late and was woken up twice by our daughter and then had to be up early to run? Did I not eat enough this morning before my run?
I am not sure what to think, but I know that it is certain that I will be running a half marathon in just under two weeks. It will be different from my training. It will have hills. It will most likely be warmer weather. How will my body react? For now, I have to plan. I have to be prepared. I have to get more sleep, and make sure I am rested for the race, in case that was the cause of today's issues. I have to plan my taper for the next two weeks. How far should I run? How will my body react to yet another weekend without a long run? I was confident and prepared until these last two weeks. Now, my mind is in disarray. I need to get myself prepared again. It's too late to back out now, and I refuse to quit. It's time to get mental... or crazy. At least I know how to do crazy.
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Friday, March 25, 2011
Training for my upcoming second half marathon has definitely been an adventure compared to last years's training for my first. All these adventures plus some definitely differences between my first half marathon and this race adds up to a lot of uncertainty and self-confidence issues for me and my upcoming race.
1) I signed up for the Summerlin half marathon the end of January which was approximately a month and a half after the Las Vegas RNR half marathon. I had taken almost a month off before resuming running no more than 3 or 4 miles on any of my runs, so I wasn't starting from scratch and was in better shape than when I started training for the LV half, but I didn't have the luxury of 5 months of training time that I had for the LV half. Instead of a slow build-up with 28 weeks to complete a 12-week training schedule, this time I had almost exactly 12 weeks.
2) Training has been going okay, for the most part, but twice I've had weekends where I was traveling and had no time to in get my long run for the week. That wouldn't be so bad if they had not of fallen within 2 weeks of each other and towards the end of my training schedule on days where I was scheduled to run 8 or more miles.
3) I had some weird stomach bug last week which made my stomach cramp and made me extra hot and sweaty and uncomfortable while running, not to mention making it nearly impossible for me to run at my usual pace without the fear or vomiting or passing out. I had to stop a couple times on each of my three runs that week, which I never do. On one morning I was passed by a lady and her daughter who were carrying on a lively conversation at 5:30 in the morning while also taking their dog along for some exercise. One of my missed long runs was the Sunday at the end of that week, which may have been a blessing in disguise since I felt much better this week (and even ran 3 miles in 26:06 on Wednesday, albeit, with what felt like too much extra effort).
4) My training run times haven't been significantly better than my final training before the LV half. I started out faster (since I was in better shape), but the steeper training curve has brought me back to about the same point I was at before the LV half.
5) The Summerlin half marathon course is in Summerlin (obviously) which is set on an alluvial fan with decent elevation gains throughout. Plus, it starts out downhill and ends uphill. The LV half was a fast, nearly flat race course down The Strip.
6) The LV half had nearly perfect weather in early December with no wind, no clouds, and a starting temps around 42 and ending temps around 50. This half will be in early April with the distinct and likely possibility of temps into the 70's and low 80's during significant portions of the race.
7) This may be a pro or a con. The Summerlin half is limited to 400 entries. The LV RNR had nearly 30,000 runners. I won't have to fight through crowds on the race course, but I also may not have anyone to pace off of, either. Having someone to chase over the last 2 or 3 miles is certainly underrated. I could possibly win my age-group, or I may be the slowest runner on the course which, depending on the way it ends up, I could have the time of my life, or end up red-faced.
8) Is this really another cold I have just before another race, or is it just allergies? It certainly feels like allergies. Either way, a lot of fluids and vitamins are being consumed to flush whatever it is out of my system.
I don't harbor any thoughts of matching my LV half time, although I would certainly be out of my mind excited to match or beat it. My goals are:
Save Face Goal: Finish the race!
Red-Face Goal: Not to come in last place!
Slow Race Goal: 2:45
Real Goal: 2:30
Fast Goal: 2:15
PR Goal: 2:06
"Maybe if I am on drugs or a bicycle" Goal: 1:59
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