Sunday, January 31, 2010

Pacers Ambassador

I was thrilled to learn that I was recently accepted into the Pacers Ambsasador program. Pacers is a local running store here in Northern Va. with retail shops in Arlington, Fairfax and Alexandria. They also host quite a few local races, including the 4-miler that I recently ran on New Years Eve.

I was excited to learn about the Pacers Ambassador program on their web site and I eagerly applied. It seemed like they were looking for runners who were active in the running community-- both locally and online through social networking. One of the criteria is that you run a minimum of eight races per year. I think I average about 12 races per year, so that one is easy for me.

I'm not sure how many people were selected (I guess I will find out at the kickoff party in a few weeks) but I feel very honored to be representing Pacers because I really like their stores and their races.

I've committed to wear their racing uniform in at least eight races in 2010 and also to volunteering at some of their events. This is a great way for me to become more involved in the community, while also enjoying some nice perks from Pacers. Meanwhile, I have decided to not participate in the Brooks ID program that I blogged about a few months ago for the 2010 year.

The marathon is in exactly seven weeks. My biggest goal between now and then is to not get injured. Even if I only ran 40 miles a week each week until the race, I am confident that I would still BQ. My motto is going to be to always listen to my body and not push it now that I have done so much hard work.

Based on my heart rate and how my runs feel, I think that I can definitely run a BQ time, and perhaps even something like a 3:37. My "recovery" pace has sped up to 9:30 and my "easy" pace is about 9:00. This is all based on the heart rate zones that I was tested for during my VO2 test last summer.

A huge confidence booster was an 18-mile run last weekend including 6 at marathon pace. I ran 11 miles, 6 at goal pace, and then 1 cooldown. The marathon pace miles averaged 8:18 and they felt great! My heart rate stayed in zone 3, which means I wasn't working too hard for that pace. I'll probably need a Garmin pace of 8:18 or faster to yield a race pace of 8:24 due to all the weaving that goes on in a marathon. I will probably run 26.4 miles based on my Garmin. Anyway, the average pace for the full 18 miles was 8:48 and the run felt wonderful with no lingering soreness the next day. Of course I had perfect running weather, so I just pray that the weather is decent on March 21.

Weekly mileage totals are as follows:
Week of Dec. 28: 47 miles
Week of Jan. 4: 36 miles (recovery week)
Week of Jan. 11: 51 miles
Week of Jan. 18: 54 miles
Week of Jan. 25: 56 miles

Next week I will target 55-56 miles and then I get another recovery week. They are predicting snow and freezing rain for next Saturday, which puts my 20+ miler in jeopardy. I've found that my treadmill maximum is about 16 before my legs just feel to tired from the repetition.

I'm running the "Love the Run You're With" 5K on Sunday, February 14 with my fiance. A few weeks later, I have a 5-mile tune up race. And then the marathon!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New Years Run-o-lutions

I'm probably a little late for a New Year's resolutions blog. But I was enjoying a Caribbean cruise for the first week of 2010 and I have also been busy planning my wedding.

The cruise was so much fun! It was basically a lot of relaxing, eating, drinking and gambling. Running wise, I had scheduled a "cutback" week, so I only had to run three times on the trip-- Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Each day I did an 8-mile run. Thankfully, there was a track on the upper deck that indicated 5 laps equaled one mile. This meant 40 laps around the track. Every time I started to get bored, I just remembered how nice it was to be looking at the ocean, and how it was better than the 30-degree weather we were having back home. And far better than being on a treadmill.

As for my running goals in 2010, the only goal that I am really focused on is qualifying for Boston. I have been after this goal for over a year now, and due to circumstances beyond my control, I have not qualified. I think that my training and my fitness level indicate that a BQ is possible, but I do need the right racing conditions (i.e. no hypothermia and no overheating in 70-degree weather. . . and no major injuries during training!).

If I BQ at the Shamrock marathon in March, I feel like I can cut back on the high mileage and start focusing on shorter, faster stuff. And more importantly, I will be spending most of the spring and summer preparing for my wedding, which includes selling my condo, buying a new house and moving. If it doesn't happen for me in March, then I'll give it another go at the St. Jude Memphis marathon. I also entered the NYC marathon lottery, but I will likely run that as a "fun run" if I am accepted.

In my immediate future, I have a 5K in mid-February and a 5-miler as a tune-up race two weeks before the marathon. I should be able to PR in both distances, based on where I think I am fitness-wise.

Training for the past few weeks has been as follows:
Week of Dec. 14: 40 miles
Week of Dec. 21: 44 miles
Week of Dec. 28: 48 miles (including a 4-mile race)
Week of Jan. 4: 36 miles
Week of Jan. 11: 51 miles (including a 20-miler)
Week of Jan. 18: 54 miles on schedule

If all goes according to plan, I will peak during the week of February 15 with 57 miles. This is slightly less than what I typically peak at, but I think it's enough to BQ and avoid injury/overtraining. I have three 20+ milers planned, of which I have already completed one. I worry that I will have to miss some long runs due to snow and ice on the trail. Of course there is always the treadmill, but 15 is about the max I can handle on there without my legs hurting from the repetition.

Anyway, I am looking forward to a happy, healthy year of running and romance with my future husband.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year's Eve 4

To finish of a strong year of running in 2009, I ran the Fairfax Four Miler on New Year's Eve. I had run the inaugural race last year and I really enjoyed it. Last year, the race was run during a wind advisory and the course had to be changed at the last minute due to a down power line. It had been changed to a one-mile loop run four times.

This year, the original course was used, but I had no experience with it due to last year's change. The weather was in the mid 30's and rainy. The forecast had been for freezing rain, so in the days leading up to the race I figured I might not actually run it. In fact, two days before the race, I ran an intense set of 5 x 1000m intervals at a 7:11 pace. Normally, I wouldn't do this so close to a race, but I was fairly certain that the freezing rain would deter me from participating.

On Thursday morning and throughout the day, it looked like it was going to be cold rain and not freezing rain, so my fiance and I decided to go for it. We shivered at the start line as the rain fell down on us. I did not have high expectations for myself. Based on the half marathon that I ran earlier in the month, I should have been able to run a 29:30. However, I excel at long distance races, and my shorter race distance times never "match up" to the equivalent McMillan predictions. Last year, I ran a 30:16, and I figured I would be lucky to do that well again.

The race started and I had a very difficult time weaving through people. My fiance was just behind me, but I lost him in the midst of all the people. We had started relatively close to the start line, and yet there were swarms of slower runners blocking the way. For the first three minutes, my pace averaged a 9:00. As soon as I had passed most of these runners, I just took off. I ran a 7:00 pace for the rest of that mile and ended up averaging 7:30. The next mile was the fastest, I ran it as hard as I could, although I had to occasionally slow down for pockets of ice on the road. We ran one lap around a track, which was a nice relief from the icy road. During that time, I was averaging about 7:12, and it felt great. I am fairly confident that if the race was held on that track I would have done significantly better. Mile 2 averaged 7:15. The next mile was a bit tougher for me with some large uphills that I wasn't expecting. I logged a 7:30. At the end of that mile, I felt very strong and and was prepared to really gun it in for the finish.

However, the hills continued. The last mile just murdered my time. The problem was that there were so many long hills that I hadn't anticipated. The last mile seemed to be all uphill! Normally, I make up some of my time on the downhills, but in this case, the road was wet and icy in places, so I was afraid to really give it my all on the downhills. I crossed the finish line at a disappointing 30:35. My fiance followed about 20 seconds later. He said he had kept me in sight until about the last half mile, when the largest hill came.

Although I wasn't happy with my time, I was pleased with my performance and how I felt. I felt very strong, I felt like I gave it all I had, and beating my fiance is no easy task. He recently murdered me in a 5K and a 10K, so I know I had to have put out a strong performance. Usually I like to measure my performance by age group ranking, but the results weren't presented in such a way that I could determine that. I placed 147 of 1095 runners, both male and female. I counted 27 females who finished ahead of me, but I have no idea how many total runners were female. Another thing that felt great about this race was that almost nobody passed me. I passed a bunch of runners in the beginning and that trend continued throughout the race. Often times, I would pick out people to pace off of during the uphills so as not to slow down, but then I would end up passing them. For this reason, I feel like I did very well, although the watch indicates otherwise.

Overall it was a very fun evening. Going into it, I wasn't all that excited about putting out a race effort in cold, rainy, dark conditions, but it was all worth it. My fiance and I went home to crab legs, champagne and Rock Band until we rang in the new year.