Friday, August 29, 2014

After all this HM training, I think I like the Marathon better!

Yup. That's the conclusion I've come to after these past 4-5 weeks of HM training. While the shorter mileage is a nice break, especially during these really hot afternoons, there's something more simple about marathon training. Yesterday I had a peek at a Runner's World marathon training plan and it looked like an old friend, comfortable and simple. Just log lots of miles, then some more it basically said. None of this V02 Max workout stuff, hill sprints 'till I could hurl or tempo runs that kick my butt. Nope, just log some miles, then do some more. Ahhh. So I think I might take a brief pause from the HM stuff and jump into some marathon training for a week or two. You know, to keep things fresh. Haha.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Country roads and beautiful views - last camping trip of 2014

Big Island Road

This past weekend I went camping with the family and my in-laws in Merigomish. While the weather was cold and overcast I did manage to have a great ocean-side run between camp fires and bbqs. I had looked around Google Map to some ideas on which direction I should head on my long run Saturday morning. After a wee bit of scanning around I was able to establish two things. One, there was no trail system anywhere close to this area. Second, there WAS a cool little road (I hoped) that seemed to run between a lake and the ocean just 5kms from where we would be camping. So, Saturday morning I laced up and plodded down the dirt road to the main road, taking a left and heading out to find Big Island road which Google said was about 2km from where I was. 3km later (nice accuracy Google-sheesh) I finally spotted it and made another left onto a very old road. So far the breeze had been nice and cool but as soon as I turned onto Big Island road the skies opened up and it poured. With little else to do about the situation I hid my phone so it wouldn't get wet and tried to catch some water falling from the sky. Then, just a few hundred meters up the road the rain stopped and the sun peeked out. Just at that point I crested a small hill and was met with a gorgeous view of the ocean and the road I was aiming for. After a small downhill I was on the road with a calm lake to my left and breaker rocks and huge waves to my right. I couldn't resist the temptation of the ocean so I had to go check it out. The current was really strong but the water on my feet felt wonderful and made the 8km run back to camp so much nicer. Overall my pace was pretty good for not taking any water with me, and I was able to squeeze in a run while everyone back at camp was still waking up. When I got back my wonderful husband was cooking up a delicious breakfast of eggs and bacon. Could life be more perfect than that?!

A New Buddy

View from the beach

Beautiful view-cold water!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The HM project: Days 8 & 9...and doin' fine!

Flexibility seems to be the word of my week so far. No, not the yoga-bendy kind, but schedule flexibility so I can fit everything in. Some weeks just need more flexibility than others I guess. My Monday 3 miler went fine, but I feel like I cheated a bit by only doing a 20 minute strength session, using a workout app (Workout Trainer) on my phone. I had some serious burn but still, not the "holy-crap-sweat-my-butt-off" kind of burn I get from P90X. Yesterday I did a 2 mile warm up and then 5 hill repeats of 30 seconds each. My quads were burning big time after that and I needed the 1 mile cooldown to recover my own breath! It was a good run though, and a beautiful day for it too. My eating plan is going okay. I still manage to do really well right up to about 10pm when things fall apart. Ugh, I'm getting there. Today I've got a 4 miler with 4 x 20 second strides at the end. After I finish that it'll be time to pick up Han and then head off to get groceries for the upcoming week and camping trip to Merigomish. I've been Google-mapping the area to see if there is any kind of local trail system around Merigomish but it seems I'm out of luck. It looks like Peanut and I have the choice of banging out 9 miles Saturday morning along the country roads of Pictou County or on the beach of Merigomish. The bright side to the camping trip is the fact it's really hard to over-eat since we have limited food and resources while we're there. I'm hoping that will help me cut out my 10pm binge time. Well, today is looking beautiful again so I'm looking forward to this afternoon's run commute. Have fun out there-and don't forget the sunscreen!

Monday, August 18, 2014

The HM Project: Days 6 & 7

Day 6 was my rest day. It certainly didn't feel very restful though between a soccer tournament, school supply shopping, canvas mending (for our pop up camper), and new outdoor patio set assembling! But in the end all of our little tasks got accomplished which paved the way for a more restful Sunday, right after my long run and one more soccer game. The long run on Sunday was short by my usual standards, but it was also nice not to be out there for 2+ hours for one weekend. I grabbed the dog (Peanut is up to about 7 miles now), then we headed out to the "Moose" in Cow Bay. There were alot of cyclists but just one other runner out on the country road. I got to enjoy the gorgeous view of the ocean for the last 2 miles before our turnaround while Peanut enjoyed showing off for all the yelping dogs stuck behind fences as we passed. This week isn't too tough. Today and Wednesday I've got 3 miles + strength workouts to do, and tomorrow is a speed work session consisting of 7x400 meters at 5k race pace. Depending on the weather I'll decide if I'm going to do the repeats at the indoor track or the old outdoor track next door. Then Thursday is a 45 minute tempo run, another 3 miler set for Friday and a 90 minute "long" run set for Saturday while we're camping in Merigomish with my husband's family/my in-laws. I'm looking forward to the Merigomish long run, I'm going to do a bit of Google map scouting to see what sort of trails might be close. My expectations aren't too high though, I expect to plod along a country road for this one. Well, with coffee in hand, let's get this week started! Have a good one!

Friday, August 15, 2014

The HM Project: Day Five

Yay it's Friday! I managed to avoid the rain yesterday during my 40 minute run which also meant that kids soccer would be a go. After a month and a half of go-go-go each weekend I think it's been catching up with me. But yesterday was the last kids soccer practice so I grabbed my big-girl pants and off we went. The run itself went well. I was a bit sluggish at first and then after a mile or so I had to remind myself that this was an easy run, not a tempo run. The sun was shining and warm so it was a beautiful day for a run. Today I've got 3 miles to do, but really its a rest day, I am just switching my Sunday for today so I can have a weekend day off. Tomorrow is my long run of only 90 minutes so I should be able to wrap that up before heading off to the last soccer tournament of the season for the rest of the morning. The eating plan is going along alright, certainly not as well as the running side, but I'm honestly getting there. I know if I go "cold turkey" with the snacks I like I won't stick with this plan for long so I'm trying to make small changes each day that eventually should result in what I'm looking for. One day at a time...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Race Review! Brookvale Ultra Trail Race

This past weekend I ran the Brookvale Trail Ultra Race in Prince Edward Island. It was my first out-of-province trail race so I was nervous and excited. My family hooked up our camper-trailer and off we went for a weekend of trails and beaches. We stayed in a flat (very important for the anticipated post-race soreness) campground close to the beach, so I enjoyed some laid-back tapering prior to race day. Even with the relaxing atmosphere it was hard not to think about the hills from the elevation profile. Alot of people I talked with prior to the race didn't know that PEI had a ski hill, never mind a tough trail racing course! I got up on race morning early, ate my banana and some of my bagel and tried to relax as much as I could while getting a cranky 7 year old up and at em' at 6:30am. Soon enough though we were off and, thanks to my clever husband, we had already figured out where to go after previewing the race start area the day before. We arrived at the ski hill and I check in and chatted with the other runners as we were all eaten alive by the tiny black flies. I met one of the North Face reps for Newfoundland who told me about a 67km race (single loop) around Deer Lake that he is the RD for, it sure sounded appealing! Then I ran into Karine and Jodi, the RD for the Nova Scotia Trail running series. As up-beat as ever they were both doing the 10k version. After hearing that I was seriously reconsidering changing my 50k to a 25k race! In no time at all though it was time to go. I started off really well, keeping pace with a small group of 10kers who were very familiar with this whole trail system. One of the ladies recognizied me from the trail races in Nova Scotia so we talked for a few minutes before she surged ahead up the first of many steep mountain bike hills. Then I ran with a guy whose son was running the 50k race-at the age of 12! His son had a few marathons and a multi-day tip to tip run across PEI under his belt so his dad was confident he would do fine out on the trail. Impressive! I kept my pace conservative, not wanting to overheat. My IT band reminded me to shorten my stride at about the 4-5km mark, so I slowed down a bit and tried to resist the urge to bomb down the mountain bike trails that made up the first section. At the first aid station I was feeling pretty good. The race organizers had a few kids waiting at the aid station with super-soakers if a runner wanted to be cooled down a bit-I let them have at it. And man did they ever get me good! I grabbed a cup of water, thanked the volunteers and the kids and took off again up another section of mountain bike trails. After about 6 or 7km the 10k group headed off to the left while the 25k and 50k groups went right towards the bottom of the ski hill. This section had big rolling hills on clay roads, grassy moss and single track. It was beautiful but I found the footing challenging. My IT band was giving me constant pain at that point so I took a couple of aspirin and hoped it would settle down. My new New Balance trail shoes (WT00 v2s) performed very well in this terrain, keeping me steady through it all, although I think testing them out the week before on road might have contributed to my hip pain. After the rolling hill section I found the second aid station. Again it was well supplied and manned by cheery volunteers who asked me a few questions on how I was doing. After another cup of water and a shoe-lace adjustment I was off to the woodlot area. All I can say about this area is WOW. It was gorgeous. Each section of the twisty (but flat) trail was dedicated to a different species of tree and it made for some gorgeous scenery. I had to stop a couple of times and take pictures to remember the beauty of it all. The trail section here was really rooty so my feet were a bit banged up after only a few kilometers. I was more glad than ever to have real trail shoes on as I think I would have had a few bruises on my feet had I been wearing road shoes or my VFFs. My IT band had calmed down a bit but I could still feel its dully ache. I knew as I was coming back into the second aid station that I would only be finishing one lap of the 2 lap 50k race, making this a 25k trail race for me. I knew I didn't have anything to prove, except to myself, and I realized I didn't want to push myself so hard that I'd be laid up for weeks because I kept going through the pain. I hoped this was reasonable and not just a big excuse to go back to the campground for rum and diet coke by the pool. So I made my way back up the rolling hills to the mountain bike section, which was fun but pretty painful with all the little ups and downs. I had been out there for almost 4 hours and the heat was starting to play tricks with my eyes. At one point, at the top of a very long steep hill I was sure I could make out my husband standing there looking down the hill at me. I knew that was impossible but it was a good bit of motivation to get to the top! You have to laugh sometimes at the things your mind will do during these events. After another grassy section I was back on the mountain bike trails. I wished my hip was behaving so I could enjoy it even more, but I tried to make the best of it. By then the sun was out in full force and it was heating up. Suddenly I had an overwhelming urge for a cold fountain pop. That kept me moving through the next section until I found the first aid station again. The volunteer told me I had only about 3k left to go at that point. Those 3k lasted a loong time, especially since the way back to the start wasn't the same trail as we all took out to the turnaround so it was really hard to judge how far you had actually gone. But I made it down the mountain bike section and back onto a grassy trail for the last bit of the race. After a big turn on a grassy slope I could see the finish line and I ran as best I could to the kind cheers of the people who stayed behind. Karine and Jodi were there at the finish and gave me high fives and kind words to remind me that it was okay to drop, what's most important is that I run again another day. Karine was battling her own leg/hip issues so she got where I was coming from when I said I was done for the day. It was a beautiful course with lots of tree cover and really fun mountain bike single track to bounce up and down on. I could see why people from seven provinces had all gathered to run this one! Will I be back to Brookvale? YES! I can't wait to get back there next year, hopefully un-injured and have a blast on those hills again. The RD Shawn was fantastic and put on a great event. I highly recommend this one although don't underestimate the hills!

The HM Project: Day Four

Today's workout is a 40 minute run. Ahh. That sounds like a piece of cake after the first three days of this program lol (hmmmm....cake....moving on!). I'm assuming since the description consisted of simply "40 minute run" that there isn't any specific speed I should be aiming for and I should treat this one as a recovery run, which is what I'm going to do. Besides, it looks like it's going to rain out there so 40 minutes in the rain, regardless of speed, is good enough for me. Yesterday's 3 miler went really well. I was surprised how fresh my legs felt after the previous days' training. I tried a new route, aiming to hit a small trail but when I got there the trail was blocked off for repairs. Ugh. So I improvised and went to another trail that was nice and shaded from the afternoon sun. Once I picked up Han from day camp 3 miles later, we headed home for supper and laundry-last night was chicken and pasta-while I did a mini strength workout. Overall I got both workouts in but I feel like I should have made the strength workout longer, I was just plain 'ol tired. Han asked me what I was training for when I picked her up. I told her it was for a trail half marathon in October (I emphasized it was AFTER her birthday). She then turned to me and said, "So are you going to finish this one? 'Cause last time you only did one lap." My mouth dropped then clammed shut again. Yup. I did DNF from the last race after 25km, she's got me there. I was just stunned to have this come out of my 7 year old's mouth! But when I think about it, I shouldn't be surprised by her comment. My husband and I tell her to try your best and also try to finish what you start. Since I wasn't hobbling out of the last race, obviously injured (although I did quit because of a very sore hip), she didn't understand why I DNF'd the last race, just that I had quit. I told her that this time, I will finish the whole race. Oh, kids keep you on your toes!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The HM Project: Day Three

It was a wee bit tough to get up this morning. My arms still hurt from Monday's pushups and my legs were tired from yesterday's hill workout. But-I got 'er done! My 6 miler (in three parts) went pretty darn well yesterday. My legs were sluggish for the first mile but after that it wasn't an issue. I managed to squeeze in half of my hill repeats before picking up my daughter from day camp, and then dragged her over to the park to finish off the last three. She was awesome. She practiced her own gymnastics routine while I ran up and down a dirt hill, giving me "Go Mommy GO" with each turnaround. It was too cute and made my repeats a little bit easier knowing I had a little cheerleader waiting for me. Then she and I went over to the playground where she amazed me with her monkey-bar climbing ability (I could never do the monkey bars as a kid, but Han was quick to offer me advice on how to do it correctly lol). After that it was back home to make tacos for supper and a quick 2 miler with the dog to round off the 6 miles. It felt like I'd been running for hours, splitting it up that way, but sometimes you have to fit in fitness where and when you can. (Insert soapbox here). And that's what drives me crazy about people who throw up their hands and say "Oh I just don't have time to exercise." Really? I mean, seriously, really? I don't always have a nice 2-hour block to fit in a solid workout, but, like yesterday, I just changed into my running clothes and did what I could when I could. I could have not done the 3 mile run-commute in favor of sitting on a bus and playing candy crush. I could have picked up my daughter and went straight home so I could watch tv for 15 minutes before getting ready for her soccer practice, and skipped walking the dog. But instead I got out there and I got to see my daughter being supportive and having fun and our dog got in a good run after being couped up in the house all day. Not only I benefitted, but my child and the family pet did as well. Now who shouldn't make time for that? (Soapbox moment over, thanks for your patience ;-) I've got a repeat of Monday's workout. A 3 miler (my run commute) and a strength session. I think I'll shy away from the pushups today in favor of one of the other P90X workouts, I have between now and tonight to figure out which one. As for my eating plan. Yesterday went slightly better than Monday but I still have improvements to make so I'm not carb-binging at 11pm...but I'll get there. Okay, so onward and upward, have fun out there today!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The HM Project: Day Two - bring on dee Hills!

Well yesterday is in the bag. Whew. My 3 mile run was pretty hot and humid and I had a slight tight spot in my right calf, but I made it through the 3 miles, and hey, I even increased my pace at the end..although I could have just been glad it was almost over. Then after getting supper and laundry started (yup-multi-tasker right here) I did the P90X chest and arms routine and had a moment of self-discovery: I hate pushups. Oh my god I hate push ups. I tried to do them quickly but they still burn and hurt and all that and eventually I was doing the military pushups on my knees-my KNEES! But, I sucked it up and got through that workout too. Today I've got 6 miles with hills thrown in. I'm not a fan of hills but they are like medicine, it works wonders if you actually take it. Six miles though is a bit tricky with my schedule, so this one is going to need to be broken up into two parts. The first part will be 2 miles of flat running followed by 400 meters of hills as many times as I can before I need to pick up my daughter from camp at 4:30, then finish off any remaining distance with the dog once I get back home and have finished making supper-Taco Tuesday anyone-and before heading off to soccer practice for 6:45. Yeah, thankfully there are only a few more soccer practices so Tuesdays and Thursdays won't be so crazy in a week's time. My eating plan went great...until about 10:30pm last night when my husband offered me half of a Mars bar. I could come up with really good excuses-I was under my calorie goal! I had just heard that Robin Williams died! I had just woke up from a couch nap and was delirious! But no, it was a lack of will-power that did me in..and the three chocolate chip cookies that followed. Damn it! Ah well, I'm getting too old to really beat myself up about it for very long, so today is a new day and tonight I will try harder to have more will power-or just head to bed earlier, we'll see what works. So 6 miles of hills and avoiding chocolate chip cookies and Mars bars, yup, that sounds like a plan. Tuesday here I come.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Half Marathon Project: Day One (dun, dun dah!)

Okay, maybe my title is a bit melodramatic, but hey, why not. This is the Internet afterall. So yes, today I start a 12 week half marathon training plan that will get me to the last MEC trail race on October 26th in top trail-running form. I did my research, I checked out crazy intense plans that I quickly rejected after over training this past winter, looked at some easy plans that I don't think will push me hard enough, and eventually found a somewhat-happy-middle-of-the-road plan that I'm determined to give 100% to until race day. Why you might ask? Well this year has been a disappointment in terms of racing. I've struggled, been injured and DNF'd more times than I want to count and I want to end this season off with one personal achievement, running my best half marathon. That means anything less than 2:15 would not only be awesome and take some of the sting out of my performance so far this year, but I also think it will be motivational going into the winter build-up season. The bonus side to my plan is that it's a half marathon. 21 kilometers. I can totally run 21km, I just want to do it faster, so the mental barrier of the distance isn't there for me, just getting to the speed I want to run that distance really, really well. The trail race is on familiar ground, I've run trail races and done training runs many times there so I know by Jodi and Karine's standards this trail is a very easy one. Okay, so the distance and the conditions don't freak me out, the biggest hurdle I think will be sticking to my eating plan (I think that sounds better than diet plan), for the duration. To battle that I've got a handy app on my phone to track what I eat and how much I exercise each day so I can be held accountable - even if it is just to an app on my phone! As for the fine details of my eating plan, my goal is to eat less than 25% carbs a day, keep my fat and protein ratios about even, when possible, and keep my overall calorie intake to less than 2000 a day. So here goes. Today, being day one, is pretty easy. I've got a 3 mile run and a strength session on tap. I'm doing my 3 miler during my run-commute after work and plan to do my strength session once I get home, get supper made, get the laundry done and get the next day's bags/lunches packed. I'll let you know how it goes each day and hopefully in the next few weeks I'll have that 2:10 or less half marathon in my sights!