Saturday, June 30, 2012

Post race

I have re-read my report and what a lame report! Even lamer than my usual ramblings but that’s what you get when I write a report after 10pm. Oh well, I will never be a witty writer.

Couple more race and post-race remarks that I forgot to mention yesterday:
I took a shower in men’s changing room after the race. (Un)fortunately no men walked on me. But think nothing bad! There was a loooooong line for women’s showers so I asked the lifeguard (race was happening in outdoor pool complex) whether I can use shampoo in the shower that’s by the pool for rinsing off. And he told me to go use men’s showers since it is running race for women no men are in showers. Ok. So while all the women waited in line I had the whole shower room for myself:) 

I ran 5k in around 21min at the beginning of June 2010. Then I ran 19min at the end of October. Although that 21min in June was not really due to my lack of fitness but rather me being a chicken I was still able to make a significant progress in 5 months (with one month or so off due to ITB flare up somewhere in those 5 months). So that gives me hope for next few months.

ITB feels good. I am quite surprised because it was not feeling that hot this week (not sure why, but probably those intervals on Sunday because the surface was quite hard or maybe those were just phantom pains, who knows). Also my calves are not tight at all while they usually are after harder efforts. I am sure that it is because I swam immediately afterwards and that helped me to loosen up and also because the race was not on hard roads but on a dirt road. And because of the rain it was nicely soft, muddy sure, but soft.

It was quite fun to compete with that one woman. Of course I think that only now when it is over and I think that because I won our battle but it was fun nevertheless. 

I think that my legs/core are not strong enough for faster running because there were moments when as I landed my leg “gave up” under me. Although it might have been than I landed in a little hole or something.

Since Erdinger sponsors a lot of sport events and athletes n Germany I do not have to use my gift card to buy any beer-related products. Instead I can buy some sport gear with Erdinger name all over it, they sell running shorts, tri stuff, jackets etc. Score! Then I will at least look like one of the hard-core German athletes they sponsor:)

Friday, June 29, 2012

5k race report: Plan worked

I got quite excited for the race during the day and was looking forward to it! Unfortunately the forecast called for storms in the afternoon and they were not kidding. Thunder, wind, pissing rain. I was actually strongly considering not going as I was sitting in the stadtbahn and watching tree branches fly by the windows. But then it calmed down a bit so I went to see whether they the show goes on or what they were doing.

The race was Frauenlauf Hannover, quite low-key event with no chip timing, but they have close to 1000 women signed up for 5k and 10k and products-for-women expo. And registration was 19Eur, which is really a lot since most races here are max 10Eur. Of course I learnt that only after I already committed and PPC prepared my training plan accordingly.

It was taking place at the pool where I swim almost every day, which was great because we did not have to stay outside in the rain. Almost everybody took advantage of the cozy shelter and therefore I did not meet anyone on my warm up.

I did 20min warm/up + 3x40sec pick ups and was completely drenched, fortunately it was quite warm outside.
After 15min waiting in the rain (and of course the rained stopped like 2 min after the start), we were off. One girl shot to the front immediately but I knew she would not last long because…hm, her behind was even bigger than mine and that tells something, so she clearly was not a runner. (I am not the only one who uses this “measure” to tell athletes apart from non-so-much-athletes). I passed some people in the first 300m or so and was leading but I could hear the footsteps close behind me and they were getting closer and closer.
You know how I had the plan to start at 4min pace, which is faster than I can hold for 5k at this point, and hopefully squeeze under 20:30. So I started at 4min but very soon stopped paying attention to my pace. I was checking the watch every few minutes and saw that I was going at 4min pace, then 4:06, 4:02 but I have no idea how fast I was going after I reached the mid-point. Even when I knew my pace I never adjusted my effort when I saw I was slow or fast. I somehow forgot and I was not even thinking about it. I was just checking for how long I have been already running and how far is the finish line and for how long I need to continue running. That was my focus.

The woman behind me passed me just as we reached the mid-point. Now she was a runner! Her arms and legs were half the size of mine. I told myself to stay with her after some battle in my head to give up or not give up. Just focus on her back and run. I was running behind her for the next 1.5k, which passed quite quickly and I do not remember much of it. But then we reached 4k mark. There I started to think: I have been running 3meter or so behind her for 1.5k and we were running exactly the same pace, maybe I should speed up a little bit and catch her. And when I catch her, I can run with her until maybe 300m before the finish and then show her some middle-distance runner speed. Hm, but I probably do not have any speed. So maybe I should try to pass her already now because I am feeling pretty good.
And I do not know whether she slowed down or I sped up but I was reeling her in and I made a decision to go past her. I do not know whether she bonked badly or she broke mentally because I was immediately gaining big time on her. I am sure that it was not because of me going faster, but rather her going slower.
The last 1k I was still in fear that she will catch me and I just concentrated on not slowing down. I was checking my watch to see how far the finish is quite often (as if that would get me there faster) and everytime thinking, gosh I need to keep running for 3 more minutes (2.5, 1.5, 1min…), where is that stupid last turn etc (all positive thoughts). I think that I picked it up the last 300m but maybe it was just my feeling.
I squeezed just below 20:30. I crossed the line at 20:23. Phew.
Then cooled down for 20min to get 65 min of running in.

And then I swam 2200m (mostly slowly, but I threw in some faster 3x (100 and 200). Although I could not kick much or push off the wall because I was getting cramps in my left foot and toes.

The final thoughs: I am quite satisfied with the race. Sure, I could have gone little faster, maybe 20:15 because I did not feel completely spend at the finish, but I need to train myself to suffer. I do not understand why I did not pay attention to my pace and did not adjust my effort accordingly. I mean, I completely forgot. I think that it is because I did not have a real time goal in mind so I was like just get to the finish line and get this over with. And I am pretty satisfied with 20:23 because I really was dying while trying to do 5x1k at 4min pace (which by the way I was not able to do even with 3min rest) so I was worried I would end up running 21min.
Also for me not giving up when that woman passed me was a small victory because I am not the mentally strongest athlete ever.

So all is good. (Unless my ITB decides to flare up tomorrow)

And since I won a 5k, I got a prize- gift basket full of cosmetic products (shampoos, deodorants, soaps, lotions etc, there is so much stuff that it will last me a year), 100Eur gift certificate to Erdiger fanshop (I really wonder what one can buy there…) and 50Eur certificate to a cosmetic saloon. So I got my 19Eur back plus little more:)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

5k race tomorrow!!!

The last time I did a running race was in January 2011 (quite disastrous 3000m indoors). Not that I did not want to but you know...
And I cannot decide whether I am looking forward to tomorrow or whether I am completely indifferent. One thing I know and that is that I am not scared or nervous. There is nothing to be nervous about, I am not shooting for a win, PR or anything fancy. I just want to know what I can do and get some experience racing. Although I am pretty sure I can see what I can do during training where I do not have to pay for it, so it is more about getting racing experience. 

It seems I am mostly indifferent except last night when I was falling asleep I had a bright moment when I was looking forward to this race.
My indifference stems from the lack of “motivation” (PR, prize etc) and “expectations”. I am doing it for experience, I am going to suck and there is nothing exciting about that. Yeah yeah, people might say something along the lines of pushing your body and giving your best given your current fitness and feel like you have accomplished something but I somehow cannot wrap my head around that. Call me cocky or a snob but I do not think that running 21min 5k is anything special no matter that that’s where my current fitness is. This is just an intermediate phase. Can we just fast forward to the future when I will be able to run 17:30 and when I can be excited about racing? :)
Ok, I got the usual ramble out of the way and now onto my goal: Go out at 4min pace and pull it off to squeeze under 20:30. Simple.  I believe that it is the only strategy that might (might being the key word here) get me under 20:30. If I start slower, I will never be able to pick it up. So I need to start faster. But not too fast of course.
Although this 20:30 goal is kind of a long reach since I did 5x1k @4min pace workout with 3min rest and it was not pretty (read: I died after the 3rd one and each one of them left me bend over my knees gasping for some oxygen. But I was running up and downhill, so I should take that into consideration). But I do not have any other benchmark to shoot for and I want to have a goal, I NEED to have a goal otherwise I will just jog it. Maybe breaking 21min would make more sense but let’s be ambitious, shall we?
I am 100% sure that the course will not be accurate. It is a loop course. 2 loops around a lake to be exact. Start and finish are at the same place. What is the probability that the loop has exactly 2500m? Close to zero.  (This actually holds true for all loop courses that start and finish at the same place.) Therefore I am going to wear Garmin and hopefully it will work decently and I will be able to use it as a guide and get some data out of it afterwards.

And on a completely unrelated topic: There is a Olympic games sponsors commercial on German TV that I find very nice (they probably show it in other countries as well). They show bunch of kids competing in swimming, running, gymnastics... And then they show how a mom must wake up her child very early in the morning to get him to practice although it is clear he wants to stay in bed. Then there is another kid with bandage on his foot and his mom mending to it. And then at the end there are athletes winning races and hugging their moms afterwards. The slogan said “the hardest task in the world is also the best task in the world”. I do not understand how the topic “mom” ties with those sponsors but I like it anyway.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Swimming is good and running is…not so good

It seems that my increased swimming volume is showing not only in my improved swimming durability but also in my speed.
5 weeks ago I was barely able to hold sub-2min pace for 5x100s. And now it is no problem.
I went to get MRI yesterday and waited there for over an hour so by the time I was done I had around 30min to swim. I was contemplating to skip the swim and just go stuff my face with pastries from Back Factory (when you are in Germany you need to go there! It is delicious and reasonably priced) but then I told myself to stop being an idiot and went to the pool. I was still hoping that they will not let me in because the last entry is 1 hour before closing and it was already past that but no such luck, they let me in:( So I decided on 300m w/up, 9x100 @2min descend 1-3 + one last fast 100 (to make it to 10x100), 200m c/d. 

I did this descending thing 2 weeks ago (but 15x100) and my paces were around 1:58, 1:55, 1:53 (the last one felt like all-out sprint) so I was thinking about hitting the same paces.

But then I went the first one in 1:46 (new 100m PR in this pool), second on 1:49, third in 1:47 so I said screwed it and just do all of them under 1:50 @ 2min send-offs. And I did (all in 1:47-48 range) and it was not hard at all! It felt good and controlled.

I know that the part of it is due to my arms being fresh (very easy 1.1k swim Sat and Sun off) and I did only 10 of them but it is definitely MUCH MUCH MUCH better than just one month ago.
I call that success.

But running…. I had 70min with 15m tempo on tap this morning. Plan was 30min w/up, then tempo and the rest cool down. Today was the first time I used Garmin on an easy run (that 30min w/up) and geeez. I was going 9:20 pace (mostly slight uphill and headwind but still) and dying. Well, that’s great. JUST GREAT. Much worse than I expected. I was (surprisingly) not freaking out about it though, because I am still using “7 months off running” excuse that helps me get over my very slow paces. The only problem was how the hell I was going to do that tempo run and not die. The tempo was supposed to be 15min at 10sec per mile slower than my 10k pace. (I got little lost in calculation there because I did not calculate it beforehand using excel or calculator. My calculation went something like this: So my 10k pace is maybe somewhere around 4:20-4:30/k pace based on the fact that I am dying at 4:00 pace while doing 5x1k repeats with 3min rest. And that’s like what? 6:50/mile? No, that does not seem right if 6:24/mile is 4:00/k. But if my 10k pace is 7min that’s really pathetic and I sure can run faster. But can I? Apparently I have been doing my easy runs at 9+min pace so maybe I indeed cannot. And I just got completely confused trying to convert my 5x1k intervals pace per kilometer to my 10k pace per mile minus 10sec. You are probably confused as well by now, aren’t you? So I decided that 4:30-4:40/k as tempo pace sounds reasonable at this point although it is very close to my former easy runs pace….baby steps, baby steps…that’s my mantra these days when I see my running times)

However, that tempo went better than expected. First 3.5min were uphill (and I was at 8:10 pace at the end of that hill…), then 7.5min slight downhill and tailwind (got pace down to 7:10 (4:29) by minute 11) and the last 4min were slight uphill with headwind. I ended with 4:24 pace (which is 7:02/mile. I realize that mixing all these different numbers and paces is confusing but that’s only because the Americans cannot be like the rest of the us and use metric system:))). Which is faster than planned and expected. But I was thinking that I would slow down going back up in the last 4min but I did not.
I am the last person to say that GPS watches are accurate and therefore the paces might be few second off of course so I do not dwell on those numbers way too much. Although of course they do give me confidence.
That tempo felt good. I kept the cadence high and thought about staying “tall” and using core to move the legs.
I think that I can go little faster for little longer and maybe I can sneak under 21min on Friday. Or maybe not. Because that would mean going 4:12 pace instead of 4:24, which is quite a difference. I am also not used to suffering and getting out of my comfort zone, which is needed for 5k races. One must train to learn to suffer and I am not there with my training yet so the only way to learn that would be to slam the door and keep my hand in it for 20+min.
So we shall see. But I am definitely not expecting any miracles.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Weekend recap

Nothing special going on.

Did 1100m easy swim (just for the sake of hitting 17k for the week). I was planning on 1k but then I decided to try whether I can do 50m butterfly, and therefore I ended with 1.1k. And yes, I can do 50m fly:)

Then 3h ride. I have decided that doing only easy longish rides will not really help me to get faster so I threw in 15 or so faster intervals at 230+ watts. They were ranging from 1min to 5min, depending how far apart the little villages are, because I started the interval when I left the village and ended when I entered the next one. Most of them were 2-3min long. I really need to do intervals more often. 

Easy ride. I went with my biking buddy and we somehow ended riding for 3.5h. It was not what I had in mind because I had running intervals planned for later but it was a very easy ride. And I take back what I said when I said that I am becoming a responsible cyclist. First of all, I should have said a bike-owner, not a cyclist. And I rode in rain today and did not clean the bike. So I am not even responsible. I might clean it tomorrow if I do not forget.

Took 3h break and on to running workout. 65min with 1600 (at 10k pace), 800 (5k pace), 800, 1600.
I HATE Garmin. HATE HATE HATE it! I knew that I should have done it on a track but since it has been raining cats and dogs I expected the track to be a huge mud pit so I went to a park. But as I started the first interval I realized that clouds+trees makes for a very poor satellite connection. The plan was to go 4:20-30pace. I was running at around 4:20 pace and then 50meters alter I am at 5:05 pace. Of course there is no way I slowed down by that much! The 800 were better signal-wise but still little off. So for the first mile I ran for 6:30ish (I forgot whether I ran 6:30 or :35….) and made a mark there for a second interval. The 800s were according to Garmin 3:20 and 3:10, which is not too off but not accurate either. The same 4:20-and-then-sudenly-4:50 pace happened again for the second mile, so I ran to the trash that I ran to during the first one and ran it in 6:35. So basically the same as the first interval.
I swear, this is the last time I have used that stupid gadget for intervals!!! (well, I can still use it for intervals in an open space where I was last week but then I will running up and downhill)
I need to somehow measure some distances where I can do intervals, but how? Garmin is stupid, I do not have bike computer, using mapmyrun won’t be accurate enough. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Random but VERY interesting (training-related) facts

My ITB feels awesome. It has been feeling close to 100% for 3-4 weeks now. The only time it is bugging me is when I am sitting on a couch with my feet on a coffee table. When I do that something is pulling on something it seems. Well, it means that I cannot just sit with my feet up:)

I went swimming at 5:15am this morning and finished my run for the day at 10:50pm…..Tough life.

I ran for 70min straight today!!! 70min. You heard that?!? It just hit me, it is like 13k (at my currently very slow pace). I cannot believe it. That’s the longest I have run since…some time in February last year. I think that I ran one or two 90min run that time, just before my ITB flared up big time. But 70min! That’s awesome.

I hope I have not jinxed myself. If I did then the ITB flaring up around Wednesday next week would be a “perfect” timing. I have a MRI scheduled on Monday and a 5k race on Friday. Of course the ITB will be ok on Monday so MRI won’t show anything and then it flares up on Wednesday so I won’t be able to race on Friday. That will be my luck:(

My pool has hills! Because swimming with and against the current is just like doing uphill and downhill repeats, right? Yes, there is a current in my pool. I knew that because I always get thrown to the side at two different places (probably where they let water in, around meter 20 and then 40). But I thought that it is only perpendicular to my swimming path until I started doing some stroke and time descending 50s. And my times are always 1-2sec faster on way out and I need 3-4 less strokes. It is weird, isn’t it?

I rode a bike in rain and I cleaned it afterwards! Unbelievable. I usually just leave the bike as it is, never clean it and then give it a shower in a bathtub when I need to sell or pack it. So it seems that I am becoming a responsible cyclist:)