Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cracking the 70% Age Grade..(Turkey Trot 5 Miler Recap)

In addition to refusing to get dressed for upwards of 80% of my Thankgiving trip to Virginia, I also ran a 5 mile Turkey Trot.

Yes, just like 80% of the running bloggers out there, I woke up on Thanksgiving and decided to race.

I went into the darned thing with mixed feelings.  It was pretty exciting to run a race in Northern VA, and in my hometown of Alexandria, in particular.  But races, even without high expectations, are stressful for me.

As I outlined over sweaty beers with Emily earlier in the week, under 35 minutes would be a success and over 35 would be failure.  I'd had some pretty embarrassing workouts earlier in the week, in which I wasn't able to hold a 7 mile 7:20 pace tempo for even 5 miles.  Times were tough, times were tough...but...I had two secret weapons....

1) Jenny, the little bird sent me a kickass (although a bit small on me) Halloween tee, so that we could start the sisterhood of the traveling t-shirt.  See exhibit on right.  (I also brought out the bunny ears because...I figured why not be totally off holiday).

2) I bucked up and bought racers.  I've been using light-weight trainers (Mizuno Elixir) for races since August.  I bought the Mizuno Ronin.  Clearly these were going to make me run like my feet were en fuego.

I got to the middle school gym and picked up my packet.  And hung out with Senor Turkey for few minutes...

This race is particularly awesome because there's a stroller race category and a doggy race category.  So there was a festive atmosphere.  After doing some striders, and lining up in the giant line (there were over 4000 people in this Turkey Trot!), we were off.  

I saw a girl ahead of me who seemed to know what she was doing (no idea what made me conclude this), so I decided I'd try to keep her in sight the whole race.  I tried to keep my first mile in check, and the plan was to run it in 7 minutes, but of course, my adrenalined legs were not about to go that pace.   First mile was 6:37. 

The crowds were great, and people kept on shouting "go bunny",  "wrong holiday", and "1st costume".   They were also yelling "1st Stroller" because I was neck in neck with the first stroller.  How the heck this dude was running sub 7s while pushing a giant stroller is beyond me.  

Surprisingly, I kept the whole dang thing around 6:40 something pace and in the last mile, I passed a girl and she passed me back.  I'm not exactly sure what got into me, but with about 200 meters from the finish, I turned the race from a friendly town Turkey Trot to my own Olympics.  I thought "I can get her" and went into a dead-out sprint to pass her right at the finish, much to the amusement of the spectators.  
Yup...not competitive at all....

Race Stats:  5 miles, 33:57, 6:47 pace. 20th woman. 

Here are the splits:

Not exactly an effort worthy of my "sprint to the death" finish, but better than my expectations, and I finally cracked the 70% Age Grade Bracket.  Maybe this training is starting to pay off....

Final Thoughts:
1) I was super careful about what I ate in the morning due to all the cramps I've been getting lately.  And it worked.  I had half a Luna Bar, a few Honey Stingers, and an Orange Gu.  Yeah...definitely not real food, but I think this is the path I need to take to avoid cramps.  
2) Thanksgiving Dinner > Turkey Trots.  But only by a bit....
3) Pretty happy with this effort.  Didn't feel like I sucked!
4)  It's time to pass on the sisterhood of the traveling t-shirt.  No really.  It's good luck!  Who wants it next?!?!?!?!?!  I'll send it to ya. 


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How to get totally fat during the holidays

Every year around this time, I start seeing a lot of articles about how not to get fat during the holiday season.  Stuff like "bring an apple to the party" or "Walking 2 extra laps around the track will help you burn off half of that holiday cookie!".   Or best yet "park far away when you're going shopping to get the exercise".

I park far away when I shop.  But not to burn 5 calories while inhaling insane amounts of car exhaust.  It's because I live in damn Orange County and trying to park anywhere close at South Coast Plaza in December is my idea of hell.

I'd like to propose that we all just chillax and enjoy the holiday season.

There are probably about five times during the holiday season when you're really going to indulge:   Christmas (or insert other religious holiday of choice...if you're celebrating Hanukkah, those 8 crazy nights may indeed break the diet more than my projections), Thanksgiving, Some sort of random cookie binge session, and about two big holiday parties, assuming you have a moderate amount of friends.

Sure sure...there will be people around the office offering you random crap to eat, but if you usually eat that stuff in moderation during the rest of the year, you're probably not going to go hog-wild on them just because Santa is coming to town.   So here's the breakdown:

Holiday Party #1:  Some random work party that your sig o (or awkward date) brought you to.  You decide not to completely embarrass them, so in addition to a normal dinner, you pretend you're on Mad Men and drink the following:
2 Old Fashioneds and a Vodka Gimlet. And you have a piece of Apple Pie.
Total Damage: 180 + 180 + 110 + 400 = 870 Calories

Cookie Binge:  The host of the last party insisted you took stuff home.  So instead of taking it into the office like you said you would, you got up at 2 AM for a "bite" and they all ended up mysteriously disappearing.   10 medium-ish cookies.
Total Damage:  1200 Calories

Holiday Party #2:  Your ex shows up with his new girlfriend.   She's not cute at all, but it's still annoying. Also, some random girl won't stop talking about her oatmeal being amazeballs.  So you really booze it up.  And you are the best dancer at that party, fa sho.
7 Coronas and some chips.
Total Damage:  140 x 7 + 200 = 1180 Calories

Thanksgiving:  You eat a lot of crap.  Wine, rolls, stuffing, turkey, cranberry sauce, pie...etc....
Then you wash it down with a bottle of wine while listening to your cousin tell you about her new awesome job/baby/husband/life and ask you why you haven't settled down yet.
Total  Damage:  1500 (dinner) + 500 (wine) = 2000 Calories

Christmas (...or insert extra holiday of choice...):  Repeat of Thanksgiving.  Except this time you eat the Whitman's sampler instead of the wine.
Total Damage:  2000 Calories

So here's what your five days of fun will cost you:  7250 Calories.

Number of Calories in a Pound?  About 3500.

Total Weight Gain?  2.07 lbs.

2.07 lbs?
That's not all that bad...

I say go for it, you crazy kids.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Tale of Two Sports (San Diego Duathlon Recap)

Today, after 1 billion years of just running, I finally ventured into something new.

Yes yes...the rumors you heard on TMZ are true...I did a Duathlon.

I was nervous as all hell the night before.  I started Googling things like "first duathlon" and found blogs talking about all their brick workouts, their hard core biking, and how much more awesome they were than me (ok...that was not in their blogs).
Basically a lot of stuff I didn't do.  I imagined all worst case scenarios and decided that not getting a flat and not killing myself or others would be....a minor success on it's own.

This morning, I woke up at the hour 4 AM.  Actually, I woke up at 3:30 AM to some drunk kids coming back to my apartment complex.  I thought "wow. that used to be me. Boy am I uncool now.", and rolled over and went back to sleep. Before I left, I took this picture.  I like to capture pre-race looks because a sleepy and terrified picture in the dirty bathroom mirror is worth a thousand words.
Yes, I am aware that my arms are way smaller/skinnier than the rest of my body.  No I don't know why.  I should do push ups or something.

After a 70 mile trip down to San Diego, I picked up my packet and put my bike on one of the racks along with all of my stuff.  One thing I noticed as soon as I got there, is there is none of this running skirt / tulle / costume stuff in du/triathlon-land.  I was wearing a sequined headband and felt somewhat ridiculous even in that.  The du / tri landscape is still dominated by dudes and non-flashy women which honestly was kind of nice for a change.  My bee suit from the LA RNR Half probably would not have been quite as welcome ;-).

After warming up for a bit, we were all herded to the start and then we were off!

RUN - Leg 1.  Quick 'n dirty. 
The first run was just 1.5 miles.  I think I ran them in at 6:50 something pace although the official splits aren't online yet so I'm not sure.  When I finished the loop, I went to the transition area to get my stuff for the bike leg.  Of course, I couldn't find my I jogged back and finally found it!  Transitions = hard, yo.

As soon as I hopped on the bike, something was wrong.  The pedals were moving like the bike wasn't in gear.  Turned out, somehow the chain had popped off the big gear of the bike.  Murphy's law, right?

I freaked out and spastically asked a volunteer for help.   Poor guy put the chain back on and probably got his hands all disgusting and full of oil at the same time.  So nice of him.

Hey Volunteer Dude:  If for some reason, you ever see this blog entry...THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR HELP!

This adventure probably added a couple minutes to my time, but that's nothing compared to the billions of people getting flats on the loop course.  It rained like mad the night before and so the path was still pretty messy.

The bike was the best part of this race.  The wind rushed by, and I didn't get my butt kicked quite as much as I thought I was going to!  One girl in grey kept on passing me and I'd pass her back.  You're not allowed to draft which is why I think we kept doing this.
Although it got kind of awkward after a while:  "Oh hai again other girl who is riding the same pace as me..."

Here're the Garmin Splits from the bike portion!

I think my average pace on the 12.4 mile bike was somewhere 19.5 mph without the chain issue at the start which I think took 2 minutes.  Probably more like 18.5 mph factoring it in.   I'm (somewhat) ok with this!  Lots of work to do to get over 20 mph comfortably, but I was passing plenty of people, so I think with a little more biking dedication, I can start to not suck!
*edit.  Garmin pace = faster than race.  race recorded like 18.2 mph /19.2 mph. I think it's different because we were all riding on the outside of the loop in order to stay to the right.

Run - Leg 3 - Cramptastic. 
This transition went smoother.  I put my bike on the rack, chugged some Gatorade and started running.
I usually train with Nuun because it is lower cal, just as tasty, and they are nice enough to send it to me (I'm a brand ambassador...see that product plug?  ;-) ), but I thought having a sports drink with sugar in it would be better for the race.

As soon as I started running, I developed a cramp.  I know...this is becoming a reoccurring issue.  I need to figure out how to stop stomach cramping.  It sucks.  And it makes my times suck.

Also, running off a bike is WAY HARDER than I thought it would be!  My legs felt like they were made of jello.   At the beginning I even saw a current pace beginning with "8", which is not so good when I wanted to keep all the running under 7.  Oy.

The girl in grey passed me back and I told her to go get it.  She did.  I believe she got 14th woman!

My full mile splits were 7:30 and 7:15 on the Garmin.  Half marathon pace, anyone?  I was thrilled to see the finish on the second loop, and booked it in for the last few seconds.
(*edit ...uhhhh....turns out my official pace was like a 7:50 assuming this portion was 2.5 miles.  yikes!  hopefully they marked it long.)

Total Time: 1:14:59.  16th woman.  It was a small race though, so I don't think there were more than 50- 80 women total.
*no splits besides the finish time are up yet so sorry if they aren't 100% accurate. 

I celebrated by drinking the recovery drink of champions:  Oh bubbly aspartame, I love you so. 

I stuck around the awards ceremony (top six got real silver and gold awards! jealous! )
Feels pretty cool to have done one of these, and I want to get more into these multi sport races!  I am now going to force all my coworkers to refer to me as "du-ath champ", not "Margot" for the day.

Of course, I've got a ton of learning to do.  Major lessons learned are....
1) Make sure the damn bike is ready to ride.  Like chain on gears.
2) Rack my bike early so that I am in an easy place to find!
3) Practice running off the bike.  Train more (obviously).
4) Figure out what's going on with my abs / stomach.  Come on body!
5) Sign up for as many du's / tri's in 2012 as possible.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Speedwork I luv (workouts to get faster)

Speedwork.   Intervals.  8x800m.

These words inspire fear in many a runner.

They kinda scare me too.  But I freaking love it.

Here's why:  
I never feel more like an athlete when I'm rolling down the backstretch of a track in the middle of a repeat mile.  Or even when I'm on the treadmill, getting "girl, you crazy?" looks with my sweat flying on anyone in a 10 foot radius.

I don't love it because it feels awesome in a traditional, eating cheetos, kind of way.  In fact, 50% of the time I want to stab myself during intervals.  But it's still awesome in that gut wrenching, leave all your days frustrations on the track and see what you've got kind of way.

I'm no running expert by a long shot, but I run a lot of workouts (and not a lot of mileage or long runs...what can I say, I like what I like).  Soooo....I thought I share some of mah fave workouts that I think help me be prepared to run decently.  (I'm not going to suggest speedwork for a marathon because I have no idea how to train for a marathon.   And am too lazy to do so at the moment.  All I can tell you is that Yasso 800s do NOT predict your marathon time.) 

For a 5k (or 10k just go a little slower and add a repeat or two)

The Meat O' 5k Training
What: 4x mile at 5k pace or slightly faster.  2.5-3.5 minutes rest.
Why:  Gets you used to running further than 3.1 miles, at the pace you want to keep up for 3.1 miles.
Where:  I think the track or the road is the best place to do this workout.  Treadmill is kind of a cop out for this workout.
Difficulty Rating (1-5, 5 is hardest):  4

Last Minute Speed
What:  A few (12 or so) 200s at mile pace.  60 second rest or short jog between intervals.
Why:  To get some speed under your legs the week of a 5k race but not to completely exhaust you.
Where:  Doing this on a treadmill would be ridiculous.  Find a 200m stretch somewhere else.
Difficulty Rating (1-5, 5 is hardest):  2.5

Indicator of Death
What:  5x1000m at 3200m race pace (somewhat faster than 5k pace), 60 second rest between intervals
Why:  If you can run this workout correctly, I bet you can run your 5k at goal pace
Where:  Wherever you want to get through this bad boy.
Difficulty Rating (1-5, 5 is hardest):  4.99.

For A Half Marathon

Prep for Going Out Too Fast (not that I was goin' to..) 
 (I got this from here)
What:  2x 800/1200/3200m supersets.  800 meters at 5k pace, 1200 meters at 10k pace, 3200 meters at goal half marathon pace.  Jog 800m between sets.  Don't rest during each superset.
Why:  This is great prep for still running strong after going out too fast and keeping it strong when you're tired.
Where:  Actually recommend treadmill.  It makes the speeds easier to get right.
Difficulty Rating (1-5, 5 is hardest):  4.5

The Fast Finish
What:  A long run of 8-11 miles with the last 3-5 miles at half marathon pace.
Why:  To teach your butt how to run fast when you're tired.
Where:  Probably wherever works for you.
Difficulty Rating: (1-5, 5 is hardest)  4.

Terrain Simulation Tempo
(ok ok.  I almost never do this.  But I should.)
What:  A tempo between 10k and half marathon pace of 4-7 miles on similar terrain as your race (hills, downhill...etc).
Why:  To learn how to run in an area like your dang race!
Where:  Outside.  Preferably in the blazing heat or freezing cold.  Simulate all possible race day discomfort.
Difficulty Rating:  Kind of depends :).

What are your fave workouts?  

Also, I'm doing a Duathlon this weekend.  Uhh....any advice?