Pictures from the Weekend

This weekend I had an interesting time.

Friday I ran a little and slept a lot.  It was awesome.  In the evening I went out with Nathan to revisit our neighborhood restaurant, Smoke in the Pit.  I was in the mood for a ton of meat and the evening did not disappoint.

Saturday I had a little run and a little Zumba.  Then it was massively raining when I tried to go to the Farmer's Market and I was totally thrilled I'd made the decision to bike instead of drive.  Sigh.

Sunday was a fun day.  I woke up, biked over to the farmer's market for real and got all kinds of stuff. In the afternoon I had a date with Nathan at the Minnesota Zoo.  It was my first time to the zoo.  It was both bigger and smaller than I'd expected.  I thought they did a nice job of using the space well, and not trying to do more with it than is really possible.  Sunday night Nathan and I took Nancy over to Lake Harriet for the final Minneapolis Pops concert of the season and an early birthday celebration.


Minneapolis: To Rain or Not To Rain.

It was a tale of two cities today.  Almost.  I'd headed over to Lake Nokomis for a 4-miler.  it was a gorgeous day, around 70*, slight breeze and gorgeous sky and clouds.  When I got out of the car I looked behind me and saw Armageddon coming my way.   I couldn't believe it.  See the weather picture below; top two panels are standing in the exact same spot near the lake, one looking west and one looking northeast.

Instead I headed over to the gym for a quick workout.  I didn't bring earphones since I'd planned to be running outside, so I had to make up a workout I could do on the track without earphones and still be okay.  I did an old workout, the 6-5-4 workout that I used to do when I was teaching Nancy to run.  It winds up being 3 miles.  I took a bit of time to do some planks, and then took a long time to stretch and foam roll. 

I headed back outside to go to the store and again, the day just couldn't make up it's mind.  Bottom two pictures are sitting at a stop light (the light was red, calm down) on Lake Street. Storms are looking east and clear skies are looking north. 


Long Run - 18 Miles of Lakes

I had an 18-miler on my calendar this week.  The 18-miler week is an interesting one, because next week is a step back week with no long runs and a chance for my body to recover.  Sounds great.  Right?  After that step back week comes a build up including three 20-mile runs.  It's sort of like "you're done with the easy stuff; after this you're in it for real".  Nonetheless; I was looking forward to the run and a route I hadn't done in a while.

Shoes: I had a bit of a wild hair about my shoes.  I pulled out the old Green Silence pair and took them for another spin.  I wore these last year a lot, including during the marathon.  I like my current shoes just fine, but the old shoes have a much wider toe box.  For some reason, that's just what my brain wanted me feet to have today so I obliged.

Fuel: I'm realizing I need to actually eat breakfast before any of the 20-mile runs.  Fueling was the only major fail for the day.  I ran five miles, then took two gels, one gel at miles 9 and 13 and one more around 15 because I was so hungry and miserable.  That seems like a lot of gels for the run.  I'm thinking the fueling during the run was fine and the pre-run fueling (a banana and chocolate chips) was the fail.  It's probably time to head to the store and get yogurt.

Pacing: I tried a different pacing goal today, instead of trying for sub-marathon pace, I tried for 'in the neighborhood' of the marathon pace.  My splits were all about 10 seconds/mile slower than goal pace, but I was right on track through mile 13.  Then the wheels sort of came off the wagon.  Mile 14 involved a potty stop and a 'calm down stomach' walk; Mile 15 involved stop lights and Gu; Mile 16 involved that hill; Mile 17 involved a stop light, construction zone, and trying to take a picture and failing; then by Mile 18 I just let myself run intervals. What I learned from this pacing adventure and fiasco is that when I was moving I was fine.  Once I started throwing in walks, it all just sort of blew up and I didn't have the mental strength to find that original pace again.

Pictures: I did finally get a couple of good ones, about a mile from home.

Post run stretch: I did that 'collapse on the ground after the run' thing and did some stretches while laying down.  It actually felt about 10 times better than I'd expected. I did the back twist and IT band stretch, stretched my quads, and then the laying ham string stretch while catching my breath.  I should do that more because I didn't really have spasms.  After  stretching I took an ice bath, screaming the whole way in.  I have 10 miles left to run this week, and then I claim a step back week where my goal mileage is 20 miles and the longest run is 6 miles.  I cannot wait.


Stretches for Runners - Part 2

I had a blog post not so long ago with a couple of my favorite videos of stretches designed for runners.  Check it out. Since then I've found some more videos I'll add for your consideration.

Mobility and flexibility exercises for the ankle joints.  My ankles have been making themselves known to me recently.  I find the last one particularly helpful.

Bedtime static stretching routine.  The first exercise is the best feeling ever in life, at least after a long run.  I usually skip the second exercise because I've already done it in one of Caroline's videos.  The final exercise is good for the hips but I really feel it in my back and it's a great stretch.

Yoga For Better Sleep.  The dude in the video is a little bit whatever, but I like the stretches in the video and usually feel like a pancake by the time they're all done.


Wordless: Lake Harriet and the Pops

On Sunday My Pooky Bear and I walked around Lake Harriet and then watched a Minneapolis Pops concert.  Her pictures are here.  The pops have one concert left this season.  I've only discovered their outdoor concerts this year.  I've really enjoyed the concerts, the chance to bike a bit more, and the chance to hang out with friends at the lake. And the truffle popcorn which is legit.


Seven Miles - What Does a Runner's High Feel Like?

That phrase "run like someone is chasing you" totally applied to my workout today.  "Run likes clowns are chasing you" and "Run like zombies are chasing you" are also acceptable, but today it was just some dude.

Warm Up: I tried a dynamic warm up that I'd read about over here.  I really liked it and I didn't think I would.  I read the warm up last night and forgot the 'knee to chest' and the 'figure 4' but I did everything else on her list.  My favorite is the 'trail leg' warm up.  It really loosened up the hips nicely.

Run! I had to do seven miles today because it was on my schedule and also I needed to burn enough calories to have Chipotle later on in the day.  I wanted to take it faster than my long runs but didn't have a specific goal in mind other than 'go a little hard'.  When I came on to Lake Nokomis there was a dude running on the bike path, sort of parallel to me running on the pedestrian path.  So, yes, I took it as something of a personal challenge to go faster than the dude.  It took a while to catch and then pass him and then in another half mile or so he'd peeled off the lake but I was flying by then.  I was shocked when my app came on and read some of the mile splits I was running.  I hadn't meant to go that fast because I didn't think it was possible.  But I was all "I'll keep going like this until I want to stop".  Nice to get a runner's high every once in a while.

Don't poop your pants! As is the motto at the end of so many of my runs, I was flying along until the last mile.  Then I slowed down because I had to poo.  So long Runner's High!  I did not poop my pants but my plans for a quick ab session and then a nice cool down and stretch where dashed.  Sigh.

Pictures  Since I kept up such a break neck pace, I did allow a couple of pictures.  The moon was setting over Lake Hiawatha as the sun was coming up and it was pretty amazing.  And then there's the egret fishing.  I think that egret lives at the lake because I see it fishing there all the time.


Stretching and Core Work for Runners

After a bit of excitement with my ankles, I made a few corrections and additions to running. Most notably, I stopped wearing shoes for my cross training workouts.  I'm opting for the Vibram Five Fingers instead.  I'm wearing them a lot now so I'm sure I'll have a follow up post soon.

Stretch! Step two was to be more intentional about stretching.  I tried a few different things.  I looked up some yoga videos online, and some other things.  The yoga videos just weren't quite right for what I wanted.  Then I started sifting through the eight billion 'stretches for runners' videos on You Tube.  There's really a lot of bad videos out there.  I prefer the videos where the leader does the stretching workout for me to follow, times the stretches for me, tells me when to move on.  I've found two videos that I really like.  The first video I've been doing almost every day for a couple weeks and it's really made a big difference in the way my body feels.  The second video I just found while looking for more variety but I find it helpful as well.

Core! Step three will be to add more core workouts.  I went back to Pilates the other day at the gym and found it a useful refresher.  I'm not sure I can make Pilates fit in my regular schedule so I started looking for some core workout videos.  I'm having a harder time finding runner specific videos of any quality.  The runner specific videos tend to teach the proper form but not do the workout with me.  Which means I have to write down the workout and look back for reference.

The runner specific workouts I found are Premier Coaching Runner's Core Routine.  It's a really great explanation of the exercises, but the whole workout is a bit longer than I was looking for.  It takes about 15 minutes to get through it all at the recommended times for holding planks.  I was looking for something shorter I can do at the end of a run.  The second one is The Standard Core Routine which looks interesting, and the right amount of time to take after a run.  I haven't tried it yet.

The rest of the videos I found were more general ab workouts but still quite helpful.  Tip: Google "8 Minute" and then look at all the video hits that come back.  There's some great workout stuff in there for pretty much every muscle system, or whole body or stretching.  This last video is just creepy.
 Eight Minute Abs.
Eight Minute Abs - Core Series
5 Minute Standing Ab Workout
Eight Minutes Abs - Level 2.  Animation should never be used like this again.


Lake Nokomis and Ft Snelling - an ugly ugly marathon training run

It all started yesterday when I lost my mind and thought I was going to do marathon training inside.  I ran a 6 mile track workout and then got on the treadmill for a 5K.  That was stupid.  By the time I got on the elliptical I was dead.  I decided to give up and try again the next day.  Lesson 1: the point of marathon training is to keep a constant heart rate.  A 6 mile interval track workout is a stupid way to do that.

The dilema got even bigger today when my choices were:
  • Go to Zumba at 945a and squeeze the run in either before (so early) or after (not likely)
  • Go to Pilates at 1pm, run must be done before hand and there must be time to cool down after. That timing sucks more than you'd think.
  • Skip both classes and just go for a run.  I will never get out of bed to run if I don't have a class to aim for later.

Ultimately I picked Zumba and run before hand which lead to a 5am wake up call. No joke.

I knew my legs were shredded from the workout yesterday so I didn't have a specific goal for the workout.  Lesson 2: have a specific goal for the workout.  It minimizes blow ups.  I was all "I'll run, at least a mile or two, probably around Lake Nokomis, then probably keep running along the falls and down the hill, and then my usual up the hill,  then I'll probably start doing intervals but I don't know which interval ratio I'd like to use"  And so on.  I should have said "run this far at this pace, then switch to this interval".  It would have been easier to focus my mind that way.

Some of the pacing and what appears to blow ups were not actual problems.  I had a stop light around Lake Nokomis.  I stopped for two gus instead of one (may need to introduce that into the fueling program) then there was the hill, then there was an emergency bushes stop, then I had to stop twice to get a rock out of the same shoe (apparently I didn't do it right the first time), then somewhere after mile 10 I started doing intervals of 90 seconds walking and 30 seconds running.  That's actually a good interval even though I was super slow.

I was right that my legs were shredded, as was my brain and ability to concentrate.  Ultimately this run sort of chipped away at my confidence since exactly none of the mile splits were at my desired marathon pace.  It also in some ways encouraged my confidence because it helped me see I can keep running and I can move tired.  I also found an interval pace I liked for the end of the marathon, should I suffer any blow ups before then.
A couple more pics for the road.  One from my good side (the ground is apparently my good side today), and one of my collapsed on the ground after the run.


Linkfest - July Edition


Nike+ App Can't Do Intervals: A Review Update

I've talked about the Nike+ Ipod App lots and lots on this blog, mostly because it's what I use for running inside.  Apparently I've mentioned it enough times that search engines are finally pointing to those blog posts when people search for "Nike+ App can't do intervals".  I'm saying.  The website doesn't even display interval data correctly for the workouts I do now.  

I'm sure there's a programming reason why my computer screen with it's excellent resolution and 13" of real estate can't find the pixels to make this line go up and down any more accurately.  How can I blame a computer person for this? Strangely, the Nike+ app on my phone is far superior when it comes to displaying interval workout data correctly.  Here's some side by side comparisons for a couple recent interval workouts.  Screen grabs from the Nike+ Site are on the left, screen grabs from the Nike+ iPhone app are on the right. Having been there, I assure you that the iPhone app is displaying the data much more accurately than the website.  The only way to get good data is to look at a four-inch screen.  Awesome.  I'm hoping the Nike+ app will eventually support some kinds of interval workouts.  I'm really hoping as the app gets better, someone remembers to improve the website as well. 

**Interval workouts are workouts that involve running, then walking for fixed periods of time; advanced runners will do hard running and then slow jogging for fixed periods of time.  An example of an interval workout is 30 seconds of hard running followed by 90 seconds of jogging, repeated 10 times.**


A Fantastic Workout on the Indoor Track

Sunday is starting to be speed work day.  In running there seems to be two ways to do speed work.  The first is on a trail or normal run, where the speed intervals are determined by time.  (Run a faster pace for 30 seconds, etc.).  The second and perhaps more common method of speed work is on a track where the speed intervals are determined by distance around the track (200m, 400m, etc.)

I wasn't feeling an outdoor workout since it was two billion percent humidity so I headed to the gym and the indoor track.  I'd wanted to do some shorter intervals faster thanks to a couple posts I read over at Steve in A Speedo where he talked about training for a road mile.  It said it was a good way to improve foot turnover and looked worth trying out. 

  • 1 mile warm up
  • 1 lap running at 9:00/mile
  • 1/2 lap jogging
  • 1 lap running at 9:00/mile
  • 1/2 lap walking
  • Repeat run/jog/run/walk eight times

The total distance of the workout was 1 mile warmup + 4 miles of run/jog/run/walk.  Looking at the graph, the walking got really slow at the end.  At first I thought 9:00/mile was not going to be challenging enough.  I kept it going until the final mile and then it got really hard to hold that pace.  I figure I must've picked right.  It's kind of obvious looking at the pace chart below that the final 2 intervals fell off a bit. Sigh. 

If I do this workout again, I'll either try to keep the 9:00/mile pace for a longer mileage workout, or shorten the miles and pick up the pace to an 8:00/mile pace or some pace.  8:00/mile is idea becuase it can easily be divided into both 6 and 4.  There's four points on the track where I was looking at the clock.  On my track a 9:00 mile translates into a 90 second lap.  90 seconds doesn't divide by 4, so I figured 88 seconds per lap, or 22 seconds per quarter lap.  I was doing math the whole way round the track for the entire workout.  An 8:00 mile is 80 seconds per lap or 20 seconds per quarter lap.  Would that make things easier or harder?


Midtown Global Market MusicFest

It's MusicFest at the Global Market, something I found out entirely by accident while at Zumba today.

Here's what really happened in my life today:
6am - wake up feeling very not good; get a little sick and head back to bead
830am - wake up feeling much better, if not totally normal.  Play a couple apps on the phone and thoroughly wake up.  Scarf a banana down and head to the gym.
920am - Run 2 miles on the track.  In my five finger shoes.  2 miles is the farthest I've run in them.

945am - Zumba.  It was a fun class today.  We had a new teacher for a couple songs.  She was good but hard to follow.  I think as I get to know her she will be easier to follow.
11am - Have breakfast.
1230pm - Get my bike out.  I know.  Ride back up to the gym.
1pm - Pilates class at the gym.  Normally I wouldn't go twice in the same day, but there's this contest and to enter I need to take 3 classes in the same week.  I just needed one more class.  I'd taken this class before and found it a good compliment to running so it was fine.  Caught up with a friend there.
2pm - Bike over to the Global Market.  I wouldn't have gone if I'd had to park my car, but with a bike it was so easy.  Promptly found my old boss who was also there for Zumba.  I played with the boss and the bosses kids and did Zumba.  Then we had ice cream and wandered around.

I stayed for much more of the music than I'd anticipated.  At first I was all "I'll just watch these dancers" but then Ruth distracted me with her children and by the time that was done a legit brass band started playing and I really wanted to see them because it reminded me of my high school Latex Penguin days.  By the end of their set it was starting to look like rain so I grabbed the bike and headed for home.


15 Slow slow miles - watch me not panic

I'm off the step back week (it was nice) and had a long run of at least 14 miles on the schedule for today.  One of my favorite routes ever is just over 15 miles so that's what I picked.

Wake up - I actually woke up before my alarm because I had to poo.  Excellent.  That's actually a really good sign for the run.  I had a pre run breakfast of almond butter and Nutella (breakfast of champions) and got my gear together.  I am the proud owner of new calf compression sleeves but I decided it would be too hot to wear them.  I decided I'm also not that good so it probably wasn't legit for me to have them on.

Get out the door - Out.  It wasn't so hot but it wasn't super cool either.  It was definitely humid.  The sun was starting to come up; I was hopeful that by the end of the run it would burn off some of the humidity.  I was mistaken.

Run! The run was pretty fun, when I wasn't playing mind games.  Lake Harriet was packed as always, including some triathletes out for a morning swim.  I assume they were triathletes because who the hell else goes for an open water swim at 6am?  Lake Calhoun was the speediest part of my day and I had a blast flying around it.  I stopped for a gu along the greenway and then moved right along to Lake Cedar.  This is the second time where I've really felt like I was moving well around Lake Cedar and then I see the lap times and I'm all "it didn't feel that slow".  I have no explanation.  The Cedar Lake/Luce Line trail into town is one of my favorite parts of the who run.  Today I went a little off the beaten path, literally, onto a foot path and got in a 'trail' run too.  Lake of the Isles was more packed with runners than usual and I was glad for the company.  I tried to make my last leg of Calhoun a strong one.  I got slowed down by some stomach cramps.  Good news: one good fart was all it took to put me right.  I tried to go fast on the uphill sections between Calhoun and Harriet, and from Harriet back up to Lyndale. Fast at mile 13 is apparently a relative term.  At least I didn't fall down.  I've done that before.  I tried to take the run back home strong until I got to mile 15, and then I was stopping even if I wasn't home yet.

Stretching   Turns out I was about .6 miles from home when I reached my goal distance.  I used the time to walk and stretch my whole body.  Walk a block.  Stretch something.  Walk a block.  Stretch something.  It worked out pretty well.  I got to see this semi driving up and down the side streets.  I have no explanation.  I took an ice bath at home and then did more stretching after.  This Stretch Routine for Runners video has been really helpful.  I feel like I'm going to explode during the plantar fasciitis stretch.

Let's talk about pace.  I do have a goal marathon pace in mind that's much more challenging than I've ever tried to do in the past.  I'm trying to keep myself honest about the pace when I'm running.  It helps me work harder and stay focused.  Today, only 4 of those 15 miles were at the pace I wanted.  Watch me stay calm.  I never freak out about the first mile.  I figure it's good to learn to slow down since I start off too fast in the race anyway.  But I don't want to make excuses for too many other miles.  I assure you I was rationalizing it plenty during the run.  I had to stop for gu; I thought I had to poo, etc.  I figure I should get less lazy with the gels since I eat those on the run during the race.  The only thing I really forgive myself for are stop lights because those don't happen in the race and there's nothing I can do about them during training.   Miles 13 and 14 both had stop lights.  One was so long I had time to remove the rocks from my shoes.  Been wanting to do that since mile 8. 

I am thinking (hoping really) that the slower pace is not solely a reflection of my fitness level.  Some part of pacing comes from concentration and experience.  It will be easier on race day to have a pacer to follow.  I keeps the pace more consistent which saves energy and it takes the guess work out of my run which saves mental energy.  Fingers crossed.