Sunday, February 17, 2019

My Week In Shoes: Shamrock Marathon Training

Life has been crazy busy lately and I realize that I've only written two blog posts this year. That's about to change. It's time for a good ol' week in review + the shoes I wore.

The last time I blogged about shoes was in September. Since my Nike Lunarglide was being discontinued and the Mizuno Wave Inspire no longer worked for me, I was on the hunt for a new rotation. I've now settled into a shoe mix that works for me-- one that doesn't create injuries and allows me to maximize the benefit of my training runs.

I ran all seven days this week, which is typical for me, and I'm at the point in my training cycle where four of those days are harder, "quality" workouts, and the remaining three days are easy. The Shamrock Marathon is four weeks away, and even though this week was tough, the next two will be even tougher as I prepare to peak.

I wore all of the above shoes this week. You will notice that three pairs are Nike and three pairs are adidas. I like these brands because they fit my narrow foot. I've never been able to wear Asics or Saucony, and when I wear Brooks, I buy the narrow width.

On the top row, from left to right are the adidas Adizero Adios, the Adizero Tempo 8, and the Adizero Tempo 9. In the Nike row, from left to right are the Lunarglide 9, and two pairs of the Odyssey React.

These are the shoes I wore this week. Other shoes that are in the rotation that I did not wear this week are the adidas Adizero Boston 7, the Mizuno Wave Sayonara, and the Brooks Ghost.

Monday: 3 x 2 miles at 10K effort in the adidas Adizero Tempo 8
What a brutal day for a workout! In the morning, we were greeted with freezing rain, so I had to wait until lunchtime when the temperature rose from 32 degrees to 34 degrees. I ran from my office to a nearby track. Ideally, I would have done this workout on the roads, but since I am not as familiar with the good running roads near my office, I opted for the track. I was frozen to the core, even though I was dressed appropriately!

I warmed up for 2.4 miles and then ran 8 laps (2 miles) with splits of 6:43, 6:38. Then came a 400m recovery (3 mins), followed by another 8 laps with splits of 6:38, 6:36. Another 400m recovery (3 mins) and then 6:42, 6:40. Whew! I was so glad when that was over and it was perhaps one of the most mentally tough workouts I have ever done. The combination of it being on a track with the awful weather and in the middle of the day was rough. But, I was happy with my paces. Even if you include the two 400m recovery jogs, I ran 6.5 miles at an average pace of 7:05, which is FASTER than the Pancake Run 10K from a few weeks ago. Just goes to show that something was majorly off in that race. My average for the 10K effort miles was 6:39.

I love the adidas Tempo 8 for tempo runs! There's a good amount of cushion, yet I can still "feel" the ground under my feet for a controlled toe off. There's a bit of "bounce-back" but overall the shoe is on the firmer side in my opinion. I also wear the Tempo 8 for half marathons, and have raced a few 5Ks in them too. Unfortunately, they screwed it up with the Tempo 9, making that shoe heavier and bulkier. The Tempo 9 doesn't feel like a speedy shoe to me. Hopefully they come up with a newer model that is more like the 8. And yes, I have stocked up on the 8's!

Tuesday: 11.35 miles at 7:51 pace in the Nike Odyssey React (blue pair)
My coach likes to give me these medium-long runs at a moderate effort. He prescribed a target pace
Nike Odyssey React
of 7:45-7:55 for 90 minutes. In the past, it's been as fast as 7:30! The theory is that the more miles you run at the high end of your aerobic range, the more gains you make. So the effort here felt moderate or maybe I would call it a "hard" easy. Of course, this was all made more challenging with the pouring rain and a temperature of only 33 degrees. Brrr! But I wasn't as cold as I was on the track since I had layered up a bit more. I wore a shower cap to keep my hair from getting soaked. Nothing makes you cold like wet hair, so having this extra protection helped.

I wore the Nike Odyssey React. This blue pair was my first-ever pair of this newly released shoe, and it was nearing the end of its life. I like the Nike Odyssey react for long fast runs, like this one. It's also the shoe I wore at the Rehoboth Beach marathon and it worked great. It has a lot of cushion and loads of bounce and it's fun to run in. Probably the most "fun" shoe I have ever worn, if that makes sense. It's super light weight (even lighter than the adidas Tempo 8) but really supportive and fast. This shoe has it all.

Wednesday: 7.8 miles at 9:00 pace in the Nike Lunarglide 9
A much-needed easy day after two consecutive days of hard running in the rain. Thankfully the weather cooperated, because I don't think I would have tolerated another freezing wet run. When my coach saw this slower pace he asked, "were you tired?" Ummm . . . did you not see the workouts I did the past two days?! LOL. In all seriousness, my legs felt heavy and of course that's natural after so much hard running at a high volume.

Before they were discontinued, I stocked up on the Nike Lunarglide. I have this current pair (2/3 through its life) and one more remaining. Since I am using the Odyssey React for most of my long runs, I use the Lunarglide for my easy runs. It's nice and plush, but feels heavy in comparison to the Odyssey. I also wear the Brooks Ghost on easy days, but didn't wear it this week.

Thursday: Ladder Intervals in the adidas Adizero Adios 3
The workout was 2 x (1 min, 2 min, 3 min, 2, min, 1 min) hard—all with 90-second easy jogs in between. I was a little conservative on the way up the first ladder but then started pushing on the way
adidas Adizero Adios 3
back down. I determined I would really drive on the second set:
1 min: 6:25
2 min: 6:32
3 min: 6:35
2 min: 6:18
1 min: 5:50
1 min: 5:58
2 min: 6:11
3 min: 6:15
2 min: 6:01
1 min: 5:48
The easy jogs ranged from 8:45 to 10:15, depending on the elevation gain or loss. The elevation also factored into my paces above, as I ran a gently rolling course. Overall this run felt really good and I was lucky to have the day off and nap afterwards. Including warm up and cool down, I ran a total of 9.1 miles.

My coach recommended the Adios to me as a racing flat. That's a bit of a misnomer though because it's not exactly flat. I can't run in flat shoes because my Achilles tendon will flare up. The Adios, however, has a 10mm drop which is good for me. These shoes do not have a lot of cushion and they are good for really feeling the ground under your feet. They are super lightweight, which I love. I wore them in my recent 10K, and I have also wore them in 5Ks. I don't think I would wear them for anything longer because I like a little more cushion. I move up to the Tempo 8 for a 10-miler or half marathon. There are many runners who race marathons in these shoes, but I don't. 

Friday: 7 miles at 8:52 pace in the Nike Odyssey React (blue pair)
Nice and easy again as I recovered from Thursday's run and prepared for Saturday's long run. It was 52 degrees and I wore shorts and a t-shirt! What a change from Monday and Tuesday.

This pair Odyssey React was at the end of its life so I took them out for one final spin. Typically I don't wear these shoes on easy days because they are so light and bouncy that they make me want to run faster. But I knew I could squeeze 7 more miles out of them. I typically get 180-200 miles on my shoes, and then they start to break down. That's less than the average runner. I think it's because I have a high cadence (around 190 steps per minute) so I am taking more steps during each mile than the typical runner. Just a theory, but these shoes are now retired and I will be donating them.

Saturday: 16.2 miles w/12 at marathon pace of 7:17 in the Nike Odyssey React (orange pair)
The prescribed workout was 15-30 minutes warmup, 90 minutes at marathon pace, and 15-30 minutes cool down. It was super windy out; which was annoying but good practice for my marathon.
My splits were:

8:33, 8:26, 8:22
7:25, 7:22, 7:19, 7:16, 7:14, 7:12, 7:14, 7:13, 7:14, 7:15, 7:20, 7:18
8:47, 8:33 for the last 0.2

Nike Odyssey React
I was really happy with how comfortable and strong I felt during this run and my target was 7:20. I was really starting to feel it in my left leg during the last three miles, so those were a struggle, but I pushed through! A 7:17 marathon pace would be a time of 3:11!

I can't decide if these shoes are pink or orange. They look orange in the photo, but more pink in person. Anyway, these are the shoes I plan to wear in the marathon. I like to run marathon pace miles in the same shoes I will race the marathon in, so I took them out for their maiden voyage. They worked well for me, so I will probably just do one more long run in them before race day. As I said above, these shoes are light and springy, with plenty of cushion for 26.2 miles.

Sunday: 6.8 miles at 8:51 pace in the adidas Tempo 9
An easy recovery day for me! My legs felt decent post-marathon pace run, and I attribute that to the massage I got yesterday.

The adidas Tempo 9 is the latest version of the Tempo, and as I mentioned above, I was disappointed in it. It's heavier and bulkier than its predecessor, which makes it a poor choice for a speed workout, but a decent choice for an easy run. I don't plan on buying more of these shoes because I prefer the Nike Lunarglide and the Brooks Ghost for my easy runs. But since I had the pair, I figured I might as well use it. I really hope the next version of this shoe is more similar to the Tempo 8.

Total Weekly Mileage: 69
I would have loved to reach 70+ miles, but considering that 4 out of these 7 days were hard workouts, I’m good with 69! The next two weeks will be really tough, especially since we are expecting some wintry precipitation Wednesday-Thursday, but I'm feeling good and up for it!

adidas Adizero Tempo 9

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Pancake Run 10K in Phoenix, AZ

What could be better than a race that’s pancake flat with free pancakes afterwards? That was my thinking when I registered for the Runner’s Den Pancake Run 10K. I’m in Phoenix for business, so I figured it would be fun to check out a local race. Plus, I hadn't run a 10K in over two years! The last 10K I ran was my PR of 41:51.

I flew from Washington, DC to Phoenix yesterday afternoon. The flight was over five hours, which I know isn’t ideal the day before a race. But I wasn’t going to come in early for a 10K and pay for an extra night of hotel. Instead, I focused on drinking plenty of water and using UCAN Hydrate to ensure my electrolytes stayed balanced. I think I did a decent job of this, as my urine was a very light shade of yellow; not dark and concentrated like it would be if I were dehydrated.

We ran for pancakes.
I can’t explain it, but I had a sense of “doom and gloom” about this race. It was weird. I was super excited about this race, and I wasn’t being negative. But I had this strange premonition that it wouldn’t go well. Maybe it was because the last time I ran a race in Phoenix I bonked. Maybe it was because my legs had been feeling heavy due to treadmill running. Maybe it was because I had just been feeling out of my training “groove” for a while due to weather disruptions and random bouts of fatigue. But whatever it was, I just wasn’t feeling the good mojo around this race.

I arrived in Phoenix, relaxed in my hotel room for about an hour, and then went out to an Italian restaurant with a co-worker. I had a pretty standard meal: linguine with marinara sauce and chicken. And I continued to drink water. And then I was in bed by 7:00 (9:00pm eastern time) and I fell asleep almost immediately.

I usually don’t sleep well in hotels the night after a long flight, but last night I slept well. The bed and pillows were comfortable and I only woke up once in the middle of the night for a short period. Everything seemed to be in order. Hydration was good, sleep was good, and I had packed my standard English muffin and peanut butter to eat. As for the weather, I was worried it would be on the warm and humid side at 58 degrees with rain. But if it’s going to be 58, then rain is actually preferred to sunny skies.

Before the Race
The race was about 15 miles away from my hotel, so my plan was to take an Uber. But when I hailed an Uber, the closest one was 8 minutes away. And there were cabs waiting right outside the hotel. I didn’t want to be late to meet my friend Alyssa, so I cancelled my Uber request and hopped into a cab. Shortly after getting into the cab, I regretted it. The meter was going up like 2 dollars a minute. I started freaking out, thinking that this would be a $60 cab ride.

I asked the cab driver why the meter was going up so quickly and he said it was $3 per mile. WOW. This cab fare would cost me more than the race registration fee! This would be 2-3 times the price of Uber. The cab driver offered to exit the highway and drop me off so I could hail an Uber. But it was dark, I was alone, and in an unknown area. No thank you!!!

The race started and finished at a shopping mall. After paying $55, I got out of the cab and proceeded to pick up my bib. I got my bib and shirt (gender-specific Brooks t-shirt!) and found a covered area to pin on the bib so I wouldn’t get wet. The rain was medium-light at this point. Not a huge deal, but I did want a dry location for the bib pinning process. I texted Alyssa and told her where I was, and she arrived shortly after. I had met Alyssa on Instagram, and she was a fan of my book. She told me that she records all of her marathon times on the book’s inside cover!

Alyssa’s mom was with her, and just like her daughter, was super sweet. We hung out in the dry car for about five minutes, and then started our warm-up. Alyssa was truly a lifesaver for letting me stash my phone and warm-up shirt in her car. We ran around the mall twice, which yielded just over 2 miles. During this run, I drank my Generation UCAN and we chatted the time away.

Alyssa and I have almost the exact same PR’s for the 10K and the half marathon. She had run a 14-miler the day before and was thinking this would be a tempo for her. By contrast, I had tapered for this run and had only run 4 miles the day before. I was planning to run it at race effort. Alyssa said she might do that too, just depending on how things felt.

After the warm up, we used the porta-potties and then headed back to her car to ditch our outer layers. I did a few strides while she stretched, and then we lined up at the start line. It was there that I saw my friend Carlos, who I had met last summer at a local race in Virginia. Such a small world that we were both in Phoenix!

My plan was to go out at a pace of around 6:42 (my PR pace) and then speed up from there if I was feeling good. I didn’t study the course map or elevation. I knew it was one big square and it was flat. What else was there to know?

Mile 1
The race started and I felt okay. About 2-3 minutes in, I looked down at my wrist and saw I was running a pace of 7:10. That was a surprise, so I started pushing harder. This first mile felt like the first mile of a 5K, but I didn’t judge it too much and I didn’t speculate on what it would mean for the rest of the race. I’ve learned that the first mile is often NOT a good indicator of what’s to come. I later learned that the first mile was slightly inclined, so perhaps the best starting pace would have been closer to 6:50. But I ran a 6:40. So this was probably a mistake, but starting out 10 seconds per mile faster than goal pace in a 10K shouldn’t spell disaster. Plus, I was hoping my race pace would be around 6:37.

Mile 2
This is when things started to fall apart. My “don’t judge it by the first mile” mentality was gone because I was running very, very hard, yet my pace was getting slower and slower. Alyssa passed me early in this mile and pulled ahead quickly. She was with another woman who looked like she could be in my age group. Crap! My split was 6:55. 

Miles 3-4
I was in full-on “bonk” mode after having run just two miles. Yikes. I felt like I was running through molasses. My energy level was decent, but it was my legs that seemed to be the limiting factor. I simply couldn’t get them to go. They were heavy with zero pep. I kept trying to inject the pep into them by surging, but the surge would only last for about 15 seconds, and then I would slow down again. I tried to focus on the positive. I was running a new race in a new place and I could probably still win an age group award. That’s one of the perks of being 40! My splits were 7:18 and 7:13. I was now running slower than half marathon pace and creeping up on marathon pace. In a 10K. But I didn’t get emotional, I just ran. What else was there to do? That was the fastest way to get the darn thing over with.

Miles 5-6
This was weird. I felt like I had energy to give, but I couldn’t access it. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. And my legs were the horse. My upper body felt good and I wasn’t “hurting” like how I normally hurt when pushing to my max. This is why I was able to surge from time to time, but after surging, my legs would give out and I couldn’t maintain it. I was motivated by the idea of still winning an age group award, and not wanting any women to pass me. I was also motivated by the idea of Alyssa starting to worry about what happened to me after the race. I didn’t want her to worry. And I didn’t want Greg to worry, since he was tracking me from home. These little things helped me stay strong during these tough miles. Splits were 7:18 and 7:21.

The Finish
My “sprint” to the finish was a 6:56 pace. Yikes! I couldn’t run any faster than that for 0.25 miles. As I said, it was like running through molasses. Or, pancake syrup! At this race, you can see the finish line from half a mile away. And as I saw runners finish ahead of me, the announcer would say their name, and where they were from, and that made me super excited to cross. As I got closer, the announcer started promoting the events that were happening later in the morning. So my name wasn’t announced as I crossed. Kind of a bummer.

Alyssa was waiting for me. She ran within about 20-30 seconds of her PR! The day after a 14-miler. I was super impressed with her performance.

After the Race
Alyssa and I went to the results tent and looked up our official times. She was the 8th overall female and won 2nd place in her age group. I was the 14th overall female, and won 3rd place in my age group. As I said, there are benefits to being 40 years old. My official time was 44:29. My slowest 10K in over four years. Ah well, this race is in no way an indication of my current fitness.

Alyssa and I with the big pancake!
There was no awards ceremony so we went to collect our awards from the awards tent. Alyssa got her silver medal, but I wasn’t able to get mine because they were still waiting to receive the results of the later finishers. And the salt-in-the-wound was that we kept going back there to get my award, and they still hadn’t received my result. I wasn’t THAT slow!

Alyssa and I cooled down by running one lap around the mall (1.1 miles) and then it was finally time to enjoy the pancakes. And they had crepes too. These were delicious and just what I wanted to warm me up after running in the rain. Finally my results were delivered to the awards tent and I was able to get my bronze pancake medal.

Alyssa then offered to drive me back to my hotel, which was super helpful. It also allowed us to spend more time together and talk about our races.

Final Thoughts
In the grand scheme of things, this is just one race that didn’t go my way, so I am not going to analyze it too much. (I know—SO UNLIKE ME!) Here are just a few things I learned and a few reasons why I think this race didn’t go well:

Always check the elevation. If there is no elevation chart, find someone on Strava who ran last year’s race to see the net elevation gain/decline. Yes, this race was flat, but knowing that it was a little uphill in the beginning would have prevented me from running harder than I needed to.

Don’t take a long flight the day before the race. I think a 2-3 hour flight is probably ok, but any longer and I should probably fly out earlier. I had been considering California International Marathon (CIM) in December, so I will have to think long and hard about that.

Focus on having fun. This truly was an “experience” race, and I enjoyed the new scenery and course. It was also cool to meet up with Alyssa after having gotten to know her a little on Instagram.

I regret tapering. I ran 4.3 miles on Friday and 3.9 miles yesterday. That’s a big cutback for me. Clearly, my legs weren’t fresh, and I think I could have run this time even if I had run 10 miles yesterday! My total mileage for the week was only 51, and that's low for me. And my weekly mileage had been on the lower side in January due to vacation and illness. Anyway, I sacrificed even more mileage for Shamrock marathon training and it didn’t even help my race. But of course, hindsight is 20/20.

I do not think the weather was a factor here. This was a flat course in pretty good conditions: 58 degrees, light rain, and light winds at 8-10 mph.

I had fun and this was a good workout and a new experience. Now it’s time to focus on getting marathon ready!