Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Quitter. (Adventures in workouts.)

Back to the regularly scheduled programming.  Thanks for indulging me in talking about the Newtown tragedy.  I know I'm no Anderson Cooper (who is the new love of my life due to his late twitter exchange), but sometimes it's really nice to be able to talk about other things on this blog.  So yeah, you rock.

No one likes a quitter.  Especially me.  Especially when I'm the quitter.  That really sucks.

Like this morning, for example:

Because I'm trying to get into good half marathon shape, I've been trying to do some long intervals and tempos.  They've occurred mostly on the treadmill because I am lazy and don't like being bothered with setting my own pace.  That, and I think I can push myself harder there than on a road by myself.

So a 5 miler at 7:08 was scheduled this morning.  Except I figured I'd go at 7:12 because I'm still easing back into this "speed thing".

I was a little nervous about this run because I've been quitting tempos halfway through since this summer.  And everyone knows that once you start quitting things, it's hard to stop.  This would be a challenge given my current speed ability.

I ate some mango chunks and told myself "you won't quit this workout, you'll stick it through".  "Yes, I got this."  I stepped out the door to warm up into the 40 degree LA weather which if you didn't know, feels like -20 degrees to us.   I got back and stepped on the treadmill.  "You won't quit this time", I told myself.

I put the treadmill at 1.0% incline and 8.3 mph.  The first mile was easy.  I blasted some old techno song.  Crystal Castles I think.  Around two miles in, doubt started creeping into my mind again.  "How the hell am I going to run for three more miles?".

"I really feel tired".  "If I feel this tired now, how will I feel 15 minutes from now?"

And then that same stupid voice started coming into my head.  Like one of those cartoon devil versus angel over my shoulder.  "Just hit the stop button".  "You're tired".

And damnit, 2.75 miles into this stupid tempo run, I looked down at the stop button...tried to stop myself for a minute...but then as I have many times lately, I hit it.  The treadmill slowed down and within a couple seconds I was instantly pissed at myself.  How the hell am I going to improve if I just keep quitting these workouts?  This keeps happening.  

Then the cartoon angel (ok, more like a cartoon personal trainer) came back into the picture.  "Come on, Margot.  The least you can do is try to finish the tempo".

I decided to get right back on the treadmill and go another two miles (cutting off one quarter).  I cranked the inclined down to 0% which I guess is cheating but whatever, I need all the help I can get.

Somehow, the tempo didn't seem to mentally hard when I could think of it as two miles left without already having mileage down.  That, and the 60 second break helped.

I finished the two miles at 7:12 and got off the treadmill, still annoyed with myself.  And very sweaty.  But at least kind of happy that I tried to finish the workout.

There is no inspirational end to this blog post, because it hasn't happened yet.  How do you stick it out?  I've thought of some ideas...

1) Allow myself to take a 60 second breather during one more tempo, then cut it down to 45 seconds, then 30, and then it's so small I must be able to just keep going right?

2) Adjust the treadmill speed up and down every half mile to avoid boredom and get a sense of achievement every 3-4 minutes.

3) Get someone in there to workout with me.  I don't know about you, but I workout way better when there is someone there with me.  Essentially, I don't want them to think I'm a total loser and that is motivational enough.

4) Chop stop button off and build cage around treadmill so it is impossible to escape.

How do you get yourself to complete workouts?  Have you ever had the same dumb issue as me where you just stop because you don't feel like running any more? And it's easy to do because you're in a pattern of quitting?

I gotta find a way out of this pattern.  Or in the words of Daniel Bedingfield, I gotta get through this. 

 (Dance Party Time)

Monday, December 17, 2012

A small thought on Newtown

This is a bit of a deviation of how I normally blog, but how are you guys doing in the wake of the Newtown tragedy?

It's unimaginable, isn't it? 

I can't imagine what the families of children at Sandy Hook are going through.  When I was driving home from the grocery store last night, the services were being broadcasted on NPR, and I started crying just listening to them.  Of course, I ran into several neighbors on the way home and I'm pretty sure now they are sure I'm crazy after they've seen me walking up with about six grocery bags, all teary eyed.

There have been a ton of comments about gun control, school safety, and mental health awareness.  I don't know enough about these issues beyond knowing that what we're currently doing is probably not the best. 

This blog is relatively small, but I wanted to write this anyways because who knows if someone from the media reads it:

I wish the major media channels would make a pact that the next time this happens (because unfortunately, it probably will) to not broadcast the name or pictures of the shooter.  Sure, I guess people will find out from other sources, but 1) I don't want to see that asshole  2) I am tired of giving these people their 15 minutes of fame and 3) Who knows if this could help prevent others from wanting to do a mass shooting, but maybe it could.

What do you think? (*edited to add based on Kelly's comment - Is it possible to do this but still address the mental health issues or other factors that contributed to the tragedy?)

I hope you are all (especially those of you with children) are doing ok.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Run Faster, Suck Less, Write More Yelp Reviews

Yelp, Internet Law, and other things I don't understand. 
Have you guys heard of the lady being sued for her Yelp review?  Interesting stuff.  I don't know anything about internet law really (beyond some of the stuff I do for work), but I think we're definitely still in the Wild West period of being on the internet.  The world is still feeling out what's allowed and legal, etc.   

I'm usually the last person to advocate for regulations like restricting what you can say on the internet, but I do think it's very easy to destroy the reputation of a business or person online based on untrue statements.   But where is the line between providing an opinion and damaging something/someone based on untrue claims? 

If you're a lawyer, let me know what you think?  Or even if you're not.

New Shoes New (s)Hoes 

On a totally different note, I am loving the new Mizuno Inspire (9th edition).  I've had it for about three weeks.

They've updated the feel of the shoe (it almost feels like a lightweight trainer) and increased the cushioning in the forefoot.  It's also quite a bit lighter.  I feel like this shoe might appeal to people who aren't as die-hard about Mizunos as I am, while not alienating their base.   I know I'm biased about the brand, but I think it's a great update and wanted to pass it on if you're looking for a stability trainer.  

The Plan to Suck Less and Speed Up

I decided to start getting more serious about running about two years ago.   I ramped up by doing some speedwork and trying to get ready for the Boston Marathon.  I ran a 3:35 which I was happy with based on the amount of preparation. 

That fall, I increased mileage to around 40-45 miles a week, did speedwork three times a week and started road biking.  I set pretty the majority of my PRs during that time and was feeling pretty good. 

Then I started looking at the mileage that other people ran.  And it was way more than what I did.  So when I trained for Eugene, I tried increasing the intensity of the speedwork and mileage.  I was freaking exhausted.  I ran a minor PR, but fell short of my expectations.  And this summer and fall, I increased mileage quite a bit (I think I peaked around 60 miles a week) but stopped doing much speedwork.  And I am noticeably slower. 

Higher mileage just doesn't seem to work for me.  Also, I don't like it and find it mentally exhausting.  Maybe those are related?   There are only so many episodes of This American Life one can listen to on a long run...

It also makes me absurdly hungry all the time, so I struggle not to gain weight when running a lot.

So it's time to go back to how I trained in Fall 2011.  This means running about five times a week, biking twice, and running the hell out of any speedwork / tempo sessions.  I'm going to try to combine workouts from Running Planet and RLRF again.  Also, it's time to do minor weight training.  It's embarrassing how much my upper body gets sore in races.   Let me know if there's a good resource online about weight training for runners.

Next race is the Surf City Half.  Unless a small miracle occurs, I won't be in PR shape by then, but hopefully I'll be close.  

What makes you a better runner?  Increased miles?  More Speed-work?  Form drills?  Reduced cookie consumption?  Do tell...

Monday, December 3, 2012

California International Marathon Recap (CIM)

I don't know how to start this recap because I don't really know what to think about this race. 

This fall has been weird.  I've run a lot of miles with little focus.  It's been uninspiring to say the least, and bad for my general running ability.   I've learned a lot of about what doesn't work for me.  (running every day, long runs, low intensity stuff, etc.)

When the NYC marathon was cancelled I decided to jump into the California International Marathon that was taking place a month later.   I figured, why not?  Anthony has family there, I knew friends that were running it, and I may as well put all those long runs to good use, right? 

So here it is.  If you read other running blogs, you probably know the weather sucked, but damn straight I'm going to complain about it too :).

California International Marathon

The night before CIM I could barely sleep. It was a combination of nerves and of the wind whipping around the house.  It was loud!  I woke up and Anthony drove me out to Folsom where the race was starting.  I think we both felt pretty crappy, and I took a Tylenol.  Usually I have no problems eating before a marathon (or really any time!), but the most I could take down was a Luna Bar and half of an Espresso Gel. 

Anthony dropped me off into the abyss and I took a quick shuttle to the start.  Everyone was wearing trash bags and hair nets.  I huddled under a gas station awning with hundreds of people marathoners as the wind blew sideways into us.
"This is f'ing crazy".  I thought.  "We are all completely nuts".  I probably would have just not run, but I had already inconvenienced Anthony enough by asking him to spend the weekend in Sacramento, having him use his points to get me a ticket up there, been super lame all weekend, etc. that there was no way I could not run no matter how bad the weather was.


After a long time of trying to avoid the rain, it was about time to start and I moved to the 3:40 pacer.  I figured running a 3:40 in my shape and in this weather would be good enough.  I ran into Madison, Sarah, and Kristina there too! The race started and I instantly lost Sarah.  About a mile in, I purposely fell off Kristina as well as I knew that I wouldn't be able to hang with her that day. 

I just tried to duck behind people in the 3:40 group and not get blown away.  The first few miles were pretty uneventful as much as torrential rain and wind is uneventful.  A giant branch feel around mile 4 and everyone in that area of the race said "Woooooaaa" at once.  Fun stuff. 

The only major wind issue I had is that my hat blew off at some point and I had to go back and get it, nearly killing about a billion people on my way to get it.  Sorry about that - I did not consider the logistics at the time, only that I couldn't survive the race without a hat.  

From the glorious XLMIC.  What is this guy still doing in a trash bag?

Throughout miles 1-10, I pretty much convinced myself that the only way to survive this race would be to stay with the pace group.  I also told myself not to expect too much of myself on this one. 

I went through the half at about 1:48 and started having dreams of negative splitting.  I thought, maybe this isn't so bad!  Maybe you're not in bad shape. 

I told myself that miles 13 - 20 would be called "The Lonely Ones".  (This is a dumb rendition of what Sweaty Kid called them in a blog post when she killed the Philly marathon. Check it out.)

Thinking about these miles as being lonely actually helped me to get through them.  So much that I turned to the pacer guy next to me around mile 15 and said "You know...these miles are the lonely ones.".  He gave me a confused smile and told me that I wasn't alone. 

Also from XLMIC.  In the thick of "The Lonely Ones".

I still felt somewhat confident around mile 19.  I kept having fantasies of breaking off from the pace group and running a ridiculous negative split.  I fantasized about being able to tell people I had a great negative split performance...and did absolutely nothing about it. 

In fact, I completely dropped off the pace group at mile 21.  I guess I hit the wall?  I definitely was eating less on this marathon than on others that I've run.  What really gets me is that there was no excuse for dropping off.  I was tired, sure, but the truth of the matter was that in that moment, I just didn't care. 

I just wanted to be done.  I'm really disappointed in myself for this because I want to walk out of every race feeling like I've given it all that I had.  I mean...what the hell was the point of running for three hours in the rain to phone it in for the last 5 miles? 

I'm pretty sure at least 40 women passed me during the last 3 miles or so and I didn't want to chase any of them.   Lame.

I swore to myself that I would never run a marathon again unless I was properly trained and prepared to run fast and with heart.   I still stand by that.

The bright spot?  Right before the finish, I saw Paige, Aron, and XLMIC (and maybe others??) and Mason cheering.   You guys are amazing for standing in that mess. 


As I turned the corning to finish, one last woman came to pass me and with 100 meters left, for the first time I got some fight.  I raced her in and she raced back and that was kind of a fun way to end.  Because I'm sure it mattered whether I was the 319th or 320th women! 

So my time was a 3:41 or a 3:42.  It says it's a 3:42 on the website with unofficial results, but it also records my gun time as my chip time, and I'm pretty sure I wasn't standing at the starting line with the elites.   And yes, I will try to claim that extra minute even if my time was nearly a PW. 


So that kind of sucked.  But I'm glad I did it.  I felt completely miserable afterwards for hours which I think was from being out in the rain in wet clothes for hours.   But it's all good now - the only thing I really have to show from the event are a few giant chafing cuts on my boobs.  Hot. 

It's hard for me to have a ton of emotion one way or another for this marathon, but it was an interesting experience to run a long race in bad weather.  And I am infinitely thankful for all the volunteers and people who came out to cheer.  And those of you who PR'd or came close to PR'ing at CIM?  You are amazing.  Those of you who ran your first marathon at CIM?  Equally amazing.

As for me?  It's time to find a real training plan, focus on my training, and try to improve.  No more marathons for a while as well.   It's time to change things up and get some speed.