Saturday, June 27, 2015

MCM Training Week 2

Week 2 of Marine Corps Marathon training went well despite lots of rain and thunderstorm challenges.

Old Shoes

I had some runs where I felt weak and just "off" - I think it may have been my shoes, which have just over 300 miles on them. I am retiring them, and bought a new pair to rotate with my other shoes, which have 120 miles on them.

Slower Long Run

I ran my long run slower than I have been, which kept me (mostly) in heart rate zones 1 and 2, where I need to be to teach my body to burn fat more effectively, which will help protect against hitting the wall because I ran out of glycogen stores.

Pep Talks

Coaches Jodi, Shannon, and Mike each gave me a helpful pep talk about my training and goals. Connecting with my coaches when I have self-doubt is reassuring.

Week 2 Statistics

I ran 5 times for a total of 17.9 miles:
  • Track: 6x400 w/ 2 minutes rest (2 miles). 
    • Short workout because thunderstorms delayed the start by 70 minutes. 
    • I'm really proud to have persevered and gotten at least the minimum workout in.
  • Easy runs: 3.1, 2.8, and 3 miles
  • Long run: 7 miles
  • Strength training: 3 times
  • Yoga: one practice session at home

My yoga practice
(source: Moms Run This Town)

Onward to Week 3!

Read about previous training weeks

Friday, June 26, 2015

Double Age Group Awards! (& MCM Week 1)

Here I am, almost done with Week 2 of Marine Corps Marathon training, and I still haven't recapped Week 1 or my two races last weekend. I'm going to smush everything together into one post and try to be brief.

Two races makes for a busy weekend!

MCM - Week 1

I'm going to report on each of my 19 weeks of training to keep me accountable. Week 1:
  • Ran 4 times for a total of 15.8 miles
    • Track: 1600, 2x800, 4x400 w/ 3 minutes rest (4.2 miles)
    • Easy runs: 3.1 and 3.5 miles - forgot to include strides at the end of one of them
    • Long run: 5 miles 
  • Strength training: 3 days (yay me!)
  • Yoga: a couple of random poses most days, but didn't make it to a class
(skip ahead to Week 2 of MCM training)

Women's Distance Festival 5k

On Saturday, my long run day, I was signed up for the Women's Distance Festival 5k. This race is a small, women-only race held in Reston. It coincides with the end of the Women's Training Program and many of the WTP participants participate. For some of them, it is their first race! I'm very fond of this race and its supportive atmosphere. My current 5k PR of 32:24 is from last year's WDF. 

WTP Coaches (orange) and Participants (purple) at the WDF 5k
(photo courtesy of Brian Kent)

As excited as I was about the race, it posed a conundrum for my long run, which was to be between 4 and 7 miles. Two days before the race, the obvious solution hit me. I parked at, and went to, PR Reston where my Distance Training Program was meeting. When they went out to run, I headed in the opposite direction and ran 1/2 mile to the starting location of the WDF. After the race, I ran back to DTP, and ran one more mile with my training group, giving me 5 miles for the morning.

Since the race was part of my training run, I decided it was best to run it at a training run pace instead of going all out like I had last year. Mentally this was tough. Running the race at a 10:27 pace last year felt amazing. I honestly didn't know I had it in me! Running slower this year - partly because it was a training run and partly because I'm not in the same shape I was last year - felt discouraging. I finished in 38:17, a 12:20 pace. 

The finish line is in sight!
(photo courtesy of Brian Kent)

I tried to keep the bigger picture in mind - that I had made the full training run my priority and kept my MCM commitment to myself. And that I really enjoyed running with my friend Coach Norma and with Mary, who was running her first race in 17 years. Viewing the race through Mary's eyes helped me reframe my perspective.

Norma, Mary, & me at the start of the race
(photo courtesy of Brian Kent)

Run With Dad 5k

Sunday was Father's Day, and the Run With Dad 5k. My family has done this race the past several years; I run with my dad and Freddy runs with Rick. It's an annual tradition I look forward to. And it is generally pretty easy for me to run at my dad's slower pace so I don't tend to think of it as a race. 

BUT, as I mentioned above, I'm not in the same shape I was last year. And my dad is in better shape than he was last year. And he runs straight through until he absolutely has to walk, unlike my style of planned run/walk intervals. So I found the race, especially the first half, harder than I expected! Again, I had to focus on not getting discouraged and keeping things in perspective. I'm just starting my training cycle. My speed and endurance will improve.

I love this picture of me & my dad from the race!
(photo courtesy of Potomac River Running)

Freddy says he is done with 5ks for a while. Shorter distances for him for now!
(photo courtesy of Potomac River Running)

We were really excited that my dad placed third in his age group. He has placed in his age group before, but he tends to diminish the accomplishment by pointing out there were only three (or fewer) men in his age group. This year, however, there were five! I always vicariously enjoy it when my dad gets an age group award because I know that I am too slow to ever get one myself.

Who Said You Were Too Slow?

On Monday night we had the Women's Training Program (WTP) celebratory dinner. We celebrate our accomplishments over the past weeks and encourage each other to keep accomplishing more. 

There are also age group awards for the subset of WTP women who ran the Women's Distance Festival. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I heard my name announced as the winner in my age group. I almost cried. Really. My prize was a pair of socks that say "She believed she could...So she did"

I believe I can.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Creating Workouts for Garmin Forerunner 220

Marine Corps Marathon training has begun, and that means Tuesday night speedwork at the track. When I started doing speedwork, I had trouble timing everything. I would start my Garmin for the warm-up, measure distance by the track (once around = 400 meters or ~ 1/4 mile), and pause my Garmin between intervals for recovery & sort of guess at the time since my watch was paused. Did you know there is a much better way? It's actually very easy to program workouts into your Garmin!

Tomorrow's workout

Here is my workout for tomorrow night: 1600, 2x 800, 4x 400, all with 3 minutes rest. With, of course, a warm-up and cool-down. Here is what it looks like on the Garmin Workout screen:

  • Warm-up, with a press of the lap button to signal the end
  • Run 1 mile
  • Rest 3 minutes
  • 2 repeats:
    • Run 1/2 mile
    • Rest 3 minutes
  • 4 repeats
    • Run 1/4 mile
    • Rest 3 minutes
  • Cool-down, with a press of the lap button to signal the end

When I am doing my workout tomorrow night, my Garmin will signal to me when each interval distance has been completed and when each 3 minute rest period is over. It may look complicated, but it is actually really easy after you've programmed a couple.

Setting up a new workout

Go to the workout screen, select "run" for a run workout, and click "create new workout". This will take you to the workout template.

Workout screen

Use a descriptive name

The workout template includes a warm-up, one run segment, and a cool-down. The default name will be "Run Workout" and you should change it to something that describes your workout. For example, I named Tuesday's workout "1600-2x800-4x400".

Run Workout Template

Setting the duration

From here, you can start filling in the details. For each segment you can select a duration. For example, I like to leave my warm-up time open-ended, so I choose to signal the end with a press of the lap button. Other options include:
  • time (e.g., 10 minutes), 
  • distance (e.g., 1 mile), 
  • calories (e.g., after burning 25 calories), and 
  • heart rate (e.g., after achieving 150 beats per minute heart rate).

Selecting the duration

Setting the intensity

You can also select an (optional) intensity for each segment, and your Garmin will alert you if you are outside of your intensity range. I haven't done this yet, but now that I know my training zones, I may add zone indicators to future workouts. Options include: 
  • pace (e.g., stay between 9:30 min/mile and 10:00 min/mile)
  • speed (e.g., stay between 5.5 mph and 6 mph)
  • cadence (e.g., stay between 170 steps/min and 180 steps/min)
  • zone (e.g., stay in heart rate zone 4)
  • custom zone (i.e., set a heart rate range that doesn't correspond to a zone range)

Selecting the intensity

Selecting segment type

You can specify the type of segment you are adding. Warm-up and cool-down are pre-populated for you, and one run segment. Segment types include:
  • warm-up
  • run
  • rest
  • recover
  • cool-down
  • other
Select segment type

Adding segments

You can add individual steps or repeats of a series of steps. My workout for tomorrow includes both types of segments. You can drag and drop your segments into different places if you need to, as well.

Adding segments

Saving the workout

Saving the workout is as easy as clicking the blue "save workout" button.

Save your workout

Transferring the workout

To transfer the workout to your Garmin, connect the Garmin to the computer via USB and select "send to device". You will also notice options like "edit workout" if you want to make some changes and "copy workout" if you want to create a similar workout and use your existing workout as a template.

Note: the 220 will only hold 10 workouts. If you have 10 workouts on your Garmin already, and want to transfer a new one, you will need to delete one of the old ones. Don't worry, the deleted workout will still be available on your Garmin Connect Dashboard and you can add it back the next time you need it.

Transfer, edit, or copy your workout

Using the workout

To use the workout on your Garmin:
  • Select "Training" from the Garmin main menu. 
  • Select "My Workouts" from the training menu
  • From your workout menu, scroll through and select the one you want - this is where the logical names will come in handy! 
  • Selecting the workout will take you to a screen that says "Do Workout" - push the runner button (upper right) to queue up the workout, and push it a second time to start the workout. 
Have fun, and remember my track mantra: "Run the segment you are in."

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Twilight 4-Miler Recap

The Twilight 4-Miler has become an annual family tradition for us. It's a great race with a fun, family-friendly party and it benefits a good cause, Run For Jaime Foundation. In past years, Rick has run the 4 mile race and Freddy & I have run the 1 mile fun run. This year, my dad came with us to keep an eye on Freddy so I was able to tackle the 4 mile course for the first time.

Josie, Maura, & Michele from Run For Jaime
(photo courtesy of Potomac River Running)

Run For Jaime collected all of these shoes for children in Haiti
(photo courtesy of Run For Jaime)

Pre-Race Jitters

Potomac River Running Reston's Distance Training Program kicked off the morning of the race. Although I deliberately took the last two months easy in anticipation of the marathon training cycle I had ahead of me, the kick-off made me start to get nervous. I suddenly felt unprepared for what I was about to begin, and questioned the wisdom of my planned break.

This nervousness carried into my feelings about the twilight race. It was going to be hot & humid. What if I crashed and burned during the race and carried new self-doubt into the start of my training cycle? A whole bunch of stuff bubbled up from I don't even know where. Yikes!

It Takes a Village

Fortunately, I have a vast village of support. I have my Potomac River Running Training family, Moms Run This Town friends, the Reston Runners Best Food Forward ladies, and my actual family. I felt the strength & support of my network as I struggled to push past my doubts.

  • Susan advised me to go slow & do my intervals. Realize that the heat is going to slow me down. Focus on having fun rather than a PR. This was exactly what I needed to hear.
  • Shannon told me she was running the race and would run with me. I love running with Shannon & she will be training for Marine Corps with me.
  • Cheryl posted her "flat mama" in the Ashburn MRTT group and inspired me to pull out my sparkle skirt to add some fun to my race outfit. 
  • Karen gave me a yellow Fellow Flowers which I pinned to my race belt for inspiration.

A surprise gift from Karen

Multi-Chapter MRTT picture before the race.
Meeting up with so many awesome women helps calm my nerves & get me psyched!

Herndon-Reston MRTT - this is my local chapter!
Annie, me, Jade, Amritpal (b-day girl!), Lindsay, Valencia

The Race

Mile 1
Shannon & I planned to take it easy during the race. We set our watches for 3:1 intervals (2:2 would have been a better choice). We got carried away and went out too fast during the first mile. 

I am usually pretty good about reeling it in at the beginning of the race, but we got caught up in the enthusiasm of the crowd and the many friends we heard calling out our names - during the first mile I saw Josie, Maura, & Michele from Run For Jaime; Melissa, Ellen, Susan, & Jessica from Vienna MRTT; and Fred the course marshal on his bike (he periodically kept us company throughout the race).

An overly enthusiastic start for Shannon & me
(photo courtesy of Potomac River Running)

Mile 2
We extended our walk break so I could get my heart rate a little lower. We passed the water table being manned by Pure Barre of Ashburn and I saw my sorority sister Jill. I may have put ice cubes in my bra. We saw runners on the other side of the course heading back toward the finish and I saw both Coach Mike and my husband Rick. 

We saw Mike & Rick close to the Mile 3 marker (source)

Mile 3
We picked up the pace again. We ran through a neighborhood with families out in front of their homes cheering us on. Shannon stayed really positive and kept my spirits up. I saw Cheryl and her sparkle skirt just ahead of us. I tried not to think about how much farther a marathon is than a four mile race.

I noticed my fingers were swollen like Vienna sausages. Shannon told me to raise my arms in the air and it relieved the swelling almost immediately. Such a simple fix, but it never would have occurred to me to do it.

Mile 4
My heart rate got higher and we took some extra walking time. We had to start running sooner than we planned when we saw Coach Mike cheering up ahead on the course. We didn't want Mike to see us walking! 

When we got close to the finish line we started sprinting hard. I heard Amritpal cheering for me. We were almost done! We finished in just under 52 minutes - not even close to a PR, but a respectable effort given the heat. We were given icy cold wet towels when we crossed the finish line & we headed over to my dad, husband, & son.

Flying to the finish!
(photo courtesy of Potomac River Running)

Post-Race Party

My dad headed home, Rick & Shannon went to the beer garden, Freddy & I went to watch the activities at the dunk tank. There was a live band, bounce houses, face-painting, balloons, ice cream & pizza. Mizuno and ElliptiGo had tents set up.

It was almost nine o'clock and I felt like I had missed a lot of the party. I realized my favorite thing about this race is spending time at the party and enjoying all of the activities. By running the four-miler instead of the 1-mile fun run, I had inadvertently cut out most of my party time. We'll be back next year, and I think I will go back to the fun run and maximize party time!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

VO2 Max and Heart Rate Zones

In the past, I have generally trained by feel. For example, making sure I can carry on a conversation during an easy/long run. I have a Garmin Forerunner 220, so I track information about my pace, heart race, and cadence, but I haven't really utilized that information effectively.

Sometimes during speedwork I see that my heart rate is in the 180s after a hard sprint. Is that too high? Am I pushing too hard? Based on the highly inaccurate but ubiquitous "220-your age" formula, my max heart rate should be 220-46=174. This would suggest that a heart rate in the 180s is cause for concern, to say the least! I wanted some accurate heart rate guidance for the marathon training cycle I am about to begin.

Active Metabolic Assessment

I turned to the "Active Metabolic Assessment" offered by my gym, Life Time Fitness. This assessment identifies your heart rate training zones and VO2 Max using the VO2 breath test. In this test, you have a breathing mask that measures the volume of oxygen you are using while running on a treadmill at progressively harder levels. In addition to identifying your VO2 Max, the test identifies your individual heart rate training zones along with information about each zone, such as the percentage of fat/carbs you are burning in each zone and what type of training each zone is good for.

The Test

I was nervous about the test. I tend to doubt my athletic ability, so anything that formally assesses it makes me a little uncomfortable. I worry that it will expose me as a fraud and reveal that I have no business calling myself a runner. Silly, huh? Fortunately, the test was being administered by a cute personal trainer who is also known as my husband, Rick. That helped me feel a little better about it.

Rick preps my breathing mask

The actual test consists of two parts; a warm-up and an assessment. During each part the treadmill speed gets progressively faster and you rate how you feel at different points while the breathing mask captures information about the volume of oxygen you are using and a heart rate monitor captures your heart rate.

Before the test I wanted to know what "7" was supposed to feel like.
What is between "Hard" and "Really Hard"? (almost really hard?)
During the test, I was actually able to identify a level between them. Go figure!

Rick fitted me with a breathing mask which I was able to keep after the test. When you come back for re-assessments, you can bring the mask with you and the cost of the assessment is lower. I felt a bit like Hannibal Lecter with the mask on, and it took a few minutes to get used to the sensation.

The leads from the mask connect to a machine;
the black strap around my arm captures heart rate.

We went through the warm-up phase which lasted about 8 minutes. During that phase the speed kept increasing and I went through the "easy" to "hard" levels based on my assessment. Then I got to rest for 5 minutes, after which we went through the assessment phase. The assessment phase lasted about 14 minutes and I went all the way to the "really, really, hard" level. And then we were done and I was rewarded with a multi-page printout of data and results - my favorite!

Testing underway

The Results

I love data, and I was excited to get 10 pages of information! I learned my individual heart rate zones, my VO2 max, and received lots of guidance about how to apply this information in my training. 

My current VO2 max indicates I am in good shape. My Zone 5 HR range is 171-190 beats per minute, so that speedwork reading in the 180s after a sprint really isn't cause for concern. There is guidance about which zone is appropriate for different types of training, and I've updated my Garmin profile to reflect my individual zones and VO2 max. Now I can train by heart rate, setting my Garmin to alert me when I leave my intended zone.

My Heart Rate Zones

I am eager to apply this information during my training over the next few months. I am also looking forward to a re-assessment in 3 months so I can see how my capacity has evolved after a cycle of dedicated marathon training.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Happy Trails to You?

Today I ran my first trail run, which was part of the =PR= Race Series Trail Series. The series was designed to introduce:
  • beginners to trail running, 
  • more experienced trail runners to new trails, and
  • all trail runners to other trail runners!
There were four runs in the series; I couldn't attend the other three (Algonkian, Burke Lake, & River Bend) because they conflicted with prior commitments. Today was the last in the series, Lake Fairfax. Three different runs were offered: 30 minutes, 60 minutes, and 90 minutes. Within each run there were informal pace groups that developed.

I ran with my PR Training buddies Sallie, Rachel, and Jamie. We'll be running together a lot over the next few months as we train for the Marine Corps Marathon! 

Sallie, Rachel, Jamie & me

The trail was more technical than I expected, with branches, hills, and mud. I felt like I had to look down much of the time so I didn't trip or slip. I found it mentally and physically harder than road running (although not quite as hard as the cross-country run from a couple of weeks ago). We had selected the 30-minute run and I was glad we hadn't aimed higher! We ended up running for 35 minutes and that was just the right amount for me.

  • Apples really hit the spot after a run
  • My new Brooks tank is going to be great for summer runs
  • I would prefer less technical trails, like Burke Lake
  • I would not enjoy a dirty girl mud run
  • My training buddies are willing to rally & do lunges with me after runs
  • My training buddies are going to be awesome to train with this summer and they will help get me through uncomfortable runs!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Will You Run for Jaime?

On March 12, 2014, the running community was stunned by the tragic loss of Jaime Rowley, who was hit by a car while she was running. The community rallied to provide support to her daughters. Her family and friends were deeply touched by the support and they established the "Run for Jaime Foundation" to promote awareness of runner safety and to help "children who have lost a parent too soon."

Shoes for Haiti

One of the amazing things to come out of this tragedy was the donation of countless pairs of shoes to children in Haiti. Local runners started tying pairs of shoes to a lightpole at the intersection where the accident occurred. The makeshift memorial grew quickly. It couldn't stay there permanently. What to do with all of the shoes? The Run for Jaime Foundation worked with Moise Joseph to get the shoes to children in Haiti.

The number of shoes was amazing
Photo courtesy of Run for Jaime 

They were organized for the trip to Haiti
Photo courtesy of Run for Jaime

The video above has highlights from Mo's trip to Haiti. It is deeply touching to see the kids getting the shoes and learning about running from their Olympic hero. 

How Can You Help? Twilight 4-Miler!

In 2014, Potomac River Running & Mountcastle Plastic Surgery made the Run for Jaime Foundation the beneficiary of the Twilight 4-Miler. The turnout for the race was amazing, and there was a strong contingent of purple shirts to show support for the Run for Jaime Foundation. This year the race will again benefit the foundation. If you are local to the DC/NOVA area, please consider this race on June 13th! There is a 4-mile race, a 1-mile fun run, and a post-race party that goes into the evening. It is a family-friendly event and I look forward to it every year. 

Moms Run This Town at the 2014 Twilight 4-Miler

What Else Can You Do?

You can donate to the foundation here.

You can promote runner safety!
This reflective shirt is from RUSeen 

You can bring running shoes to the Twilight 4-Miler!
Run for Jaime & Run for Haiti will be collecting them at the race

You can visit the Jaime Rowley Memorial Bench in Broadlands,
the perfect spot to honor & remember her.
Photo courtesy of Run for Jaime

Will you run for Jaime with me?