Thursday, February 20, 2014

Running high at sea level

Runners highs are one of those things that are mythical and elusive.  I can count on one hand the number of times that I've experienced this.  Probably just 3 times and really, the first one probably didn't count.

  1. during my first half marathon.  Probably not endophin related - more like, "wow, this is FUN, I get it now".  It was the first time I'd had fun while running.  (it made training for that half marathon a fairly long and not-so-fun process)
  2. a ~6 mile run while at the family ranch in Southern Idaho.  I remember this run and the huge endorphin high vividly, even though this was a good 2+ years ago.
  3. my run on Sunday.  I remember being mid-run and thinking to myself "wow, endorphin highs are awesome"
Endorphin highs are what keeps me running (among other things).  You never know when you'll experience it, but when you do, wow.  Amazing.

This past weekend, we were in New Orleans visiting our super cute 3.5 month old nephew.  Because I have a 10 mile race coming up, I had to get in a 1:40 run on Sunday.  In New Orleans.  Pros: sea level!  Cons: I may get shot or run over while running!

I posted on a forum I like for suggestions on where to run.  They suggested Lakeshore Drive or City Park.  The family we were visiting looked at me a bit crazy but also thought City Park would be good.  Although they suggested I drive there because it was "kind of far".  (It was 2 miles away).  I decided, since they're night people and likely wouldn't be up to drive me (we didn't rent a car) that I would just run from the house.  Besides, it was 8 AM on a Sunday morning, the morning after the local Mardi Gras parade.  No one was going to be out.

I had 20 min of warmup, then 1 hour at my half marathon pace (10:30), and a 20 min cool down.  City Park was ~2.25 miles away, so my tempo run started a bit before I got to the park.  I really didn't know what to expect.  I looked at the park on a map on my phone but didn't really register anything.  I was just hoping I'd find roads or maybe a bike path to run on for about 6-7 miles.  Along the east side of the park was a really nice bike path that followed a bayou, so I headed south on that for a bit.  Then a encountered a highway that ran east-west and I didn't feel like taking the path under the highway (it looked sketchy) so I took a road west that paralleled the highway but was within park boundaries (is it just me, or is it weird to have a park be bisected by a highway?).  I ran along that for a while and took a road called "diagonal" where I encountered a bunch of frisbee-golfers.  I think by this point I'd only seen 2 other runners (wearing M-dot visors) and a cyclist.  

It was a bit strange but also fun to not know exactly where I was.  I knew I was in a park, but I really didn't know where the roads went.  I was just exploring and having a fun time.  I hit a traffic circle at some point, took a road west and encountered a group of ~6 runners.  My people!  I asked if I could run with them for a bit and they said no problem.  I ended up running with two other women on a really, really nice trail.  It was very soft, which my legs appreciated after running on icky concrete for 4.5 miles.  These women were a bit faster than the pace I was supposed to do, but it was fun to run with people and the trail was really confusing.  I didn't want to get lost so I just kept up.  It was SO MUCH FUN.  Leave it to me to find not only runners but runners ON A TRAIL during a random run while travelling.  

We did 2 loops (about 1.25 miles each?) of the trail before we parted ways.  They were really nice ladies and they even gave me a tip about a beignet place inside the park.  I did a quick out and back to take some photos and then I started heading back home.  I was about a mile over my distance, but that was ok. I was riding my running high and really having a good time.

On my way home, I just enjoyed things and really absorbed the feeling of joy and luck.  I really lucked out with this run, in so many ways.  Its like the running universe knows when you need a good run and delivers it when you least expect it.  I plan on holding on to that endorphin high for quite a while and use it as motivation to keep running towards the next one.

I didn't realize it until this weekend, but I miss live oaks.  They're just so big and old and awesome.
City Park
Auntie E and Clark

tasty golden fried pillows of sugary happiness.....

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Exercise "Challenge"

Our work wellness program has set up an exercise challenge.  You win it by having the highest team average for weekly exercise minutes (or steps or % weight loss)  One of my friends in another business group asked me to join his team, (correctly) figuring that I was already training and logging minutes.  He's a marathoner, I invited another one of my friends (a Colfax Ambassador who also works here).  I was hoping he'd invite other big numbers people.

I'm thinking he's glad he sucked me in.  I'm carrying my team.
Yes, I'm logging more than double the majority of my teammates.

I admit, I exercise a lot.  In fact, this past week has been an ass kicker.  My coach had ACL surgery a week ago and I'm guessing she wrote my plan when she was all doped up on percoset.  This week is HARD.  And I'm hungry all the time.  Holy cow.  I was not prepared to be this hungry this early in the season.

While I'm posting good numbers, I do wonder what my totals would be if I was in peak IM training.  I usually have 18-20 hrs a week of training when I'm peaking.  That's 154 - 171 minutes/day.  Which is a ridiculous volume of exercise.  So what I'm doing now is just sort-of ridiculous and I was hoping I would place amongst the top individual exercisers.  But I'm not.
WTF?  Who is this Kim person and why is SHE working out nearly 19 hours a week.  The challenge website also posts the people with the most steps/day.  When I checked last week, Kim had 20,000 steps/day.  So, my theory:  she was counting all of her steps (as in daily activity + possible exercise) in her total minutes.  Also: she's walking (or walking + running) 6-10 miles a day.  And exercising 3-4 hours a day.  I just don't see it, but who knows.

Also entertaining are the motivational emails that end up in my email box.  I understand this program is directed at new people or people who don't sign up for insane races.  But they're funny.

It never fails, my Friday morning email reads:
Don't even think about giving up -- there's still plenty of time to hit your weekly Achieve a Better You goals.

You have through Sunday to complete those minutes of exercise, so use the next three days to finish off your remaining XXX minutes of exercise.
Yes, its called the weekend.  When I do my longer workouts.

I also remember getting an email encouraging me to get in 30 min of exercise a day.  I'm pretty sure I am well over that on a recovery week.

And the Monday email:
Time to take a victory lap: you hit your 590 minutes of exercise goal in Achieve a Better You! Awesome job!

Want a tougher challenge? Adjust your goals to increase your exercise minutes.
Thus, the crux of the problem with the challenge (I think).  I think it makes things more fair if you're graded against how you fare against your self-assigned goal.  That would equalize the field.  Right now, I'm literally carrying my team to make us look like we're doing ok when in reality, we have several people who are failing to log in their minutes.  You make the ranking based on % of goal met, and that takes people like me out of the equation.

Its been silly and I was really hoping we'd do better as a team.  Oh well.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

January 2014 Training Totals

Man, I've done a lot of running in January...

January 2014
Swim: 9h 15m - 26137.36 Yd
Bike: 10h 03m 11s - 131.59 Mi
Run: 14h 20m 35s - 75.87 Mi
Skiing: 7h
Yoga: 1h

This was my 3rd biggest run volume month in 2013.  Bummer is that many of these runs have been done on the treadmill.  Winter running in Colorado has been challenging.

Swim/bike/yoga totals are a bit low, due to travel and being sick right after new years.  Yeah, 1 stinking yoga class in January.  Not good.

I'd say I'm steadily in base building mode.  The main difference is that my runs are quite a bit faster than last year.  My weekday runs in early 2013 were progressive pace runs (3 x 15 min, and you get progressively faster each 5 min within the 15 min block).  This time, my coach has me doing 4 x 2k (1.24 mi) somewhere between my 10k and 10 mi pace or doing some stuff at my half marathon pace, or doing stuff at my 10k pace.  Much longer and faster tempo intervals.  The good news is that my body is handling it pretty well.

She's also having me swim 1:15 for each masters practice, which typically works to 3400 m.  Last year it was 1 hr but I'd go to 1:10 to get my 3000 m done.  For some reason, it doesn't seem like I'm riding a whole lot, but I just think that's because my weekend rides are only 1.5-2 hrs long.  I somehow always think that weekend rides need to be 3+ hrs.

I imagine that Feb will be about the same as January and March will end up being a bit more.  Thinking the real work starts in April.