Friday, March 30, 2012

Running Realizations

Have you ever finished an easy run and then realized how much you thought of during that run? Bear with me for a minute, if you're confused, I'll try and straighten you out. Sometimes I run with music and zone out, sometimes I'm with friends and we talk the whole time. Everyonce in a while though I'm by myself with no music and no friends (that almost sounds depressing lol) and I'm left to my own thoughts. This could be dangerous....Tuesday  night after I got out of class I decided to go for a simple 5ish miles and when I got done I just had this feeling of wow! I just realized a whole bunch of shit! 

Realization numero uno: I really need to work on a pre-race plan.
      I came upon this because I was thinking about about Saturday's race and I realized that I pretty much fumbled my way through getting ready and then stood there for a few minutes waiting to start. Now I realize that Saturday being a relay and not exactly knowing when Christen would be coming through the exchange point changes things a little but looking at other races I've done, I haven't ever really gotten ready the same way twice or very organized for that matter. Nothing too crazy but maybe figuring out what to eat, how far to warm up, and all that jazz.

Realization numer dos: I need to grocery shop!
     This seems pretty straight forward, but I was thinking about how much I get take out and how there are so many better choices I could be making with food. Afterall prefueling and refueling are important parts of a healthy run and good recovery. I've got a book about nutrition for runners. It's next on my list after I finish Running Anatomy.

Realization numero tres: Why are my realizations in espanol?

Realization numero quatro: I keep hearing good things about the hunger games. I should probably read the book.  
     I want to see the movie but everyone says I should read the book first. I know if I see the movie before reading the book, then the chances of actuallly reading the book become slim to none. Suddenly the nutrition book has been bumped to second on the list. Then again I did get a new runners world today. And like that boom nutrition third. Maybe there will be an article in the RW about something healthy I can eat. I do love what my friend Niki said about reading the book before the movie though. "Why would I want to ruin a good movie by reading it first?" haha awesome!

Realization numero cinco: It's been how long since I've done speed work?
     Well the short answer is probably almost a year. It's basically been long runs and mid long runs all winter. Sure some were a little quicker than others, but when it comes to repeats, intervals, fartleks, and all those other fun sweat inducing torture workouts you'll find a big 0 in the totals column. I'd like to set some PR's this year one in particular is my all time 5k PR of 17:43. I ran this in the state cross country meet my senior year. The closest I've come is 18:27 last summer at the Blueberry fest. I'm definitely not going to get there without some speed work. I feel it will help my half times too.

So there ya go, a few things I need to start working on. Wednesday I went out for a mid long run of 10 miles and felt a lot better than the 5.5 from Tuesday. I don't know what it was but my stride just felt wonky during the shorter run. Last night I decided to get a start on some speed work. Nothing too ambitous, so I decided I'd do a couple mile warm up, followed by some intervals. 3x1 mile with the interval being 3:00. (I learned from one  of Hal Higdon's books that the interval part of doing intervals is actually the slow lap!) So I found a feature on my Garmin that I didn't even know existed on accident. The Interval setting! It's pretty cool I just had to tell it how far for the speedy and how far or long for the rest interval and whether or not you are doing a warmup and cooldown! When you start it, it will beep at you letting you know when to speed or rest. Pretty cool I thought!

So I warmed up for a couple miles over to a two track like trail around a pond where we used to do repeats and intervals in high school and then did my intervals and then used the two miles home as cooldown. I was a little slow on my last one, but all in all I was pleased with the way the workout went. I'm going to try and fit some type of speed work in once a week now and see how that goes.
I was shooting for 6:00 miles 2,4,6

Tomorrow's long run is looking like 18 miles? That sounds good. That also means that tonight will be nice a chill. Maybe I'll get some reading done! Hope everyone has had a great week and is ready for the weekend!

P.s. It would be nice to win the crazy big Mega Millions jackpot tonight. If I do, you'll soon be reading posts written on an island. An Island I'll own.! haha wouldn't that be nice?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Kal-Haven Recap

I feel so lucky to have so many great friends in the running community. Yesterday was a prime example of the joy I get being a part of this crazy family made up of running friends. The Kal-Haven Trail race is like three races in one. There is the 3-6 person relay race, the 2 person relay race, and for the super crazy...the solo ultra race. That's right 33.5 miles for the insane runners. I ran the race as part of a two person coed team and we had a blast. I mentioned before that my partner Christen had an injury limiting her running for a month. We originally had hopes of winning the coed division but we both knew that was most likely out of reach now.

There were a couple of teams that surely would have beat us that dropped out in the weeks leading up to the race so we started thinking that we had a chance again. This hope was quickly snuffed out when we found out our friends Mike and Michelle had teamed up too. Damn the luck haha. They're fast, Mike is relatively new to running distances but he's been a quick learner and made up for lost time. Michelle is also fast, having run something crazy like a 3:05 marathon a couple years ago.

Like I said we're all friends and run together as part of a group every weekend and sometimes during the week too, so it was all in friendly competition. The race started at 8:30 and the weather was pretty much perfect. It had rained a bit the night before and this helped cool things off, which was good since it had been in the 80's most of the week.

The girls both ran the first leg and Mike and I anchored.The trail is pretty much a straight shot from Kalamazoo to South Haven, following an old rail road bed so there are plenty of street crossings from which to cheer people on. I drove to a crossing near the 4 mile mark and the girls were about neck and neck and from what I learned later they were in second and third place for our division. At the 7 mile mark Michelle had begun to open up a gap of twenty to thirty meters but Christen was still looking strong.
My leg of the race

Mike and I headed to the exchange point 17.6 miles from the start and began to get ready and chatted with friends while cheering on the ultra runners that were coming through the half way point. (they started a half hour earlier than the relay) While getting ready I noticed my buddy Timis wasn't there yet and I knew he was also supposed to be running the second leg so I called to find out where he was. He was still on his way there because the yahoo decided to race a 5k that morning first and then do his leg of the relay. I guess it was a good idea because he won that race and got a free pair of shoes and 50$ gift certificate to the local running store for his efforts, along with a badass trophy. Not a bad way to start the day!

We stood near the exchange point waiting for our partners and keeping an eye out for other coed teams so we'd know who we had to catch. Luckily we only saw one guy tag a girl, not so lucky was that easily three minutes went by before we saw Michelle. Mike and I were talking before the race and we both agreed we didn't care who won between both of our teams, but we weren't going to let somebody else sneak in and take it! haha He took off and I stood there waiting. and waiting. A couple more coed teams came through and about five minutes after Mike took off I got the tag from Christen and was off like a rocket. I want to make sure you know that I'm totally proud of how Christen did! She pushed herself harder than she had to and ran an outstanding race! My work though was cut out for me.

I quickly picked off a couple of the teams I had seen go through ahead of us and I was feeling strong. I wasn't entirely sure I'd be able to keep up my high 6:30's pace I had started off with but I knew that if I wanted to catch Mike I had to try. Around the seven miles in I realized....wait hold on....warning....I'm gonna talk about shittin in the woods briefly so you may want to skip ahead to the next paragraph if you don't want to read about poopin! Okay around seven miles, close to eight I realized the one thing I fear for every race was happening. I had to drop a deuce! I attempted to go before the race but nothing was doin so I figured I'd be okay. I was wrong. There are bathrooms along the trail every couple of miles but I'd never been this far on the trail before and didn't know how far it would be til the next one. I held out as long as I could hoping maybe it was just gas, but alas I decided better out than in haha. I realized I was catching someone else and I didn't want to pass him and then duck off into the woods and since there was no one in sight behind me, and trust me the trail is soooo straight that you can see almost half a mile, I decided it was now or never. Before this moment I'd never dropped one during a race in the woods. It was kind of a rush but I wasn't too excited to be in the postion and wanted it to be over as quick as possible. I also had no tp. shit. Luckily the leaves I choose apparently weren't poison ivy or something similair haha, that would have SUCKED!

Okay poo talk over. Feeling much lighter, I kept trucking along and right about ten miles in I caught the girl who at the exchange point was in first place. Now all that was left was Mike. Well that and not blowing up and slowing down and getting passed by everyone and their brother. When I crossed the half marathon mark I looked down to see my watch read 1:28:08 which would be an unofficial PR of almost five minutes! This made me happy and excited for the upcoming race season. There were still three miles to go in this race though. I was starting to struggle to maintain that quick pace that I started with. The pig farm that stunk up a quarter mile of the trail didn't help either.

About three or four miles in I could see a guy ahead of me with a bright green shirt on that I thought could have been mike but he was a half mile away and I wasn't closing the gap at all. with two miles to go I saw my partner and a couple other friends at the final water stop, I shouted to find out how far ahead Mike was and Christens response was a slow and uninspiring "ummm he's a ways" haha damn.

I finally reached the finish in 1:49:00 (avg pace 6:46) and our team time was 4:01:52 (avg pace 7:13). Mike and Michelle had beaten us by about five minutes. This means my minute in the woods didn't cost us the win haha. It was a great day and we finished second in our division and if we had to take second I was glad it was to them and not someone else.
Last turn before the finish

Finally over!
Christen, Michelle, Myself, and Mike after the race

Can you tell I made a pit stop during mile 8?

After the race a group of us met at a friends condo by Lake Michigan and showered. Well some of the crazies that ran the ultra marathon decided to jump in the freezing cold waters of the lake instead. We went out for dinner at a place called Su Casa that had delicious burrito's and even better margaritas!

I forgot to mention that Friday night I decided to shave my beard off because I thought it might be a little too hot for a beard. Do you know what it wouldn't be too hot for though? That's right a fu manchu! Oddly enough I wasn't the only one of our friends to trim their beard into a rockin stache for the race! It was great, there was a debate on wheter it was more of a 70's porn star look or a Super Troopers look. Apparently though no matter how big I smiled people still thought it made me look angry so I sadly shaved off the flavor saver. I'm just kidding, there was no way I was keeping that thing for more than a day. I think by law if you have a mustache like that for any reason other than to be funny then you have to drive a van that says free candy on the side with blacked out windows....too much? Oh well. I laughed, if you didn't too bad. :-)

I hope you all had great weekends too, I'm so proud of all of my friends who competed yesterday. There were many PRs, and a lot were running their first Ultra marathons. My friend Nicole won the female Ultra race and broke the course record by half an hour! Jonathon finished fourth overall in the ultra with a blistering time of 3:51! that's faster than two of my marathons! haha Leslie won the female masters ultra and like I mentioned the EPIC Crew took first and seond in the coed relay too. We've got some talented runners in Kalamazoo, and even better than that, they're all great people too, so again I'm feel lucky and blessed to be a part of this community!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Runnin' Down a Trail

Tomorrow morning is the Kal-Haven Trail Race! The name is a little deceiving though. The trail is a former railroad bed so it's basically flat and straight. The surface isn't your typical trail either. It's a crushed limestone surface, so it's considerably softer than pavement but it's not a two track either.

I'll be running it as part of a two person co-ed team. My partner Christen will be running the first half which is about 17.6 miles and all slightly downhill. Downhill enough that you'll notice a slightly quicker pace but not enough to punish your quads. That leaves me for the 15.9 miles slightly uphill to the finish. It's been record heat the past week in Michigan so I was a little worried it would be hot tomorrow especially since I won't even start running until close to 11am but today it rained and cooled down significantly. Forecast for tomorrow shows it should be mid sixties when I'm running with a chance of rain. With those temps I won't mind a little shower. It might even help out if I start heating up.

Christen is coming off an injury and as you know I had a couple weeks off from being sick so neither one of us is 100% going into the race so that takes a little pressure off and we can just have fun. I say that now but I know I'm still gonna push myself....I tend to do that. lol.

I picked up our packets tonight and carb loaded with some pasta for dinner. I actually really like the shirts! I noticed too that the womens are gender specific and look like they will fit women well. I've heard a lot lately about girls not being happy with the sizing and style of shirts so it looks like they got this one right!

All that's left to do is set out my clothes and other gear I'll need for the day, put together a playlist for the iPod and chillax. Can't argue with that for an easy Friday night.

Hope you all have a great weekend and if you're racing then good luck to you!

Monday, March 19, 2012

St. Paddy's weekend

I hope you all had a great weekend, and celebrated St. Paddy's day to it's fullest! I know I did! Let us back up a little more before I get into the holiday festivities.

I've mentioned before that I'm a member of the Kalamazoo Area Runners and Thursday night was the anual banquet. We had dinner, listened to guest speaker, Carey Pinkowski, the race director for the Chicago Marathon, and runner recognition awards were given out. This event is fairly casual in nature, some people show up in shorts and t's some in polos in khakis. A few of us in the EPIC Crew decided to stand out this year. We went with Dress shirts, ties, and the shortest running shorts we own :-) When I first heard the idea I thought it was going to be hilarious. I was right, everyone got a kick out of it, including the race director for Chicago. We for sure got some stares from general public as we walked into the banquet hall. I figure if one person laughs, then it was worth it.
That's a lot of leg!

Myself, Carey Pinkowski, Nicole, Jonathon

As you can tell Michigan winters are not good for my legs...they're kinda pasty!

After the Banquet, Jonathon managed to talk me into meeting him for a run at rediculous-o'clock Friday morning. We knocked out 8 miles with an average pace around 7:11 and I felt great during the run. After though I noticed my right calf seemed extra tight. Then I realized it was actually below my calf, in what I've come to find is known as the soleous muscle. I figured it was nothing big as it loosened up throughout the day.

Saturday morning we went for our long run on the Kal-Haven Trail (the location of this weekends upcoming race). We did 16 miles (8 out 8 back) and around mile ten I started noticing my soleous was tightening up again. That coupled with the gradual uphill that is the return trip on the trail made our pace drop significantly for the last two miles. I'm not sure what to make of it at this point. I've been icing it, using my compression socks and resting it so hopefully it'll feel okay for the race Saturday.

I'll be running the second leg of the race with my original partner so Team McSmitty is a go! Originally she was going to take the second leg because she wanted the more difficult of the two but since she's coming off of an injury she's taking the slightly longer, yet easier leg. I'm excited, I've never done a relay before so I think it will be fun, and I'm ready for spring racing to begin!

Even though I wanted to get out and celebrate my Irish heritage with a Guinness ASAP following the run, I ended up not getting to the bar til about 3:00. I know what you're thinking. What took so long? Well 75% of my friends were stuck working, 13% were out of town, 10% were waiting to go out til later, and 2% are just plain silly and didn't go out at all. This leads me to question my friendship with that last 2%..... Anywho, I managed to enjoy many a pint of Guinness, green beer (Bud Light I believe) and a number of Irish Car Bombs (delicious). I managed to celebrate until 12:11 when I promptly went to sleep passed out. I know this because that's when I sent the last text message haha.
Yes. Yes I do wear my sunglasses at night. Thanks for asking.

I didn't have homework this weekend so I spent yesterday relaxing, took the dog for a walk, and stopped by the parents for a bit. A pretty good Sunday with some beautiful weather. Hopefully you all enjoyed your weekends too. Clearly I made the best of mine! Oh I almost forgot, I went and saw 21 Jump Street Friday night too and I enjoyed it. It was kind of stupid humor, but I went in to it expecting that so I wasn't disappointed. Sometimes it's nice to just relax and laugh and not get caught up in the plausibility of a movie.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

musical obsession

I think I've mentioned before that I love music and listen to it often. I don't remember if I told you that I tend to obsess over songs for a bit. Well I do and though I don't know if you want to know what I've been tapping my foot too lately I'm going to share it anyway

Walk Off the Earth - Somebody That I Used to Know (I realize this is a cover but I like it better than the orig. How can you top 5 people playing one guitar?)

Fun - We are young (

Grouplove - Colours

Eric Church - Springsteen (I acutally bought all 3 of his albums on itunes after seeing him live)

Mumford and Sons - Home ( Still cannot wait for a new album)

The Head and the Heart - Lost in My Mind

Of Monsters and Men - Little Talks

On a running related note, last week the lady in charge of pacers for the Cleveland Marathon opened a facebook group for us and started putting up our bios! I think it's pretty cool, I've never done something like this before! (don't tell anyone but I keep checking the website for that race and the Riverbank 25k that I'm pacing to see if they've put the bios up on the website) Yup I'm a runnerd :-)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Back on the roads and free GU

What did you do last week? I ran 40 miles! Normally that's not very big news. After not really running for three weeks though because I was sick, this is big news! This week is also off to a great start. It's Tuesday and I've already logged 18 miles!

Last Monday I got out for a solo 7 mile run. I wasn't sure how it would go for the first couple miles, but realized I just needed to shake the dust off and then everything went well. Tuesday I met some friends for an easy 8.5 mile run. In shorts. And a t-shirt. Completely happy. I took Wednesday and Thursday off and then met my buddy Jonathon for 8 miles before work on Friday. Even though I still fight to get out from under the covers at 4 AM, I still love the morning run during and after.

Saturday Morning I met up with the Beyond training group for the weekend long run. I usually run with the 7:30 pace group which usually ends up running 7:00/ miles but since this was my longest run in three weeks I decided to run withe the 8:00 group instead. We ended up running a hilly and windy 16 miles with a 7:48 average. It was an out and back run. The out had a lot of up hills. The back was mostly into the wind.The run went well and it was great to catch up with friends over coffee and breakfast afterwards.

Saturday's run

I took Sunday off and then last night I managed to get a nice ten miler in after work inbetween tornado warnings and thunderstorms. Siren? What siren? I was going to run at 6 o'clock but it was pouring rain. Like hard. I love a good run in the rain on a hot summer day, but not so much right after gettin over a cold. I checked the radar and realized that there looked to be about an hour of no rain starting at 6:30. Perfect. I headed out as soon as I saw a break in the droplets. When I started running I was heading directly toward the next bank of storm clouds and they were headin my direction. When I reached the halfway point I'm pretty sure I was right on the edge of the storm. The clouds were like a wall of darkness inching closer and blotting out the little bit of daylight that remained. Now I was running the same direction as the storm for the next two miles and when I look at my garmin chart I see those two miles were my fastest. Apparently my subconcious didn't want me to get wet either. I managed to stay on the edge of the storm the whole way home and within five minutes of walking through the door, I heard the heavinly showers begin to pour.

Out running the weather
This morning I was up before the sun again to knock out 8 miles with Jonathon. We were flying the second half of today's run. We did an out and back and on the way out it was mostly down hill and with the wind. The way back was the total opposite Jonathon is wicked fast and has been putting in 100+ mile weeks lately training for Ultras this spring and summer. Saturday he ran an unofficial  3:10 marathon at 4 AM by himself before going to work and he followed that up with 13 miles on Sunday. He's slightly crazy. This morning I was struggling to keep up with him for the last mile. The kid is a machine. I looked at my daily mile leaderboard on Sunday and he had 75 more miles than the next highest of my friends on there! It was kind of funny this morning though. There was a good chance I was going to oversleep. I set two alarms on my phone last night, one for 4:05 and one for 4:10. I woke up for the 4:10 alarm. I wasn't sure if I slept right through the 4:05 or if it just didn't go off, because that tends to happen from time to time. I found out at 4:05 this afternoon why it didn't go off this morning. I set it for PM instead of AM....oopsie. Good thing I didn't get them both wrong! After my run I polished off a delicious french toast bagel sandwich from Panera and after seeing the oatmeal that B.O.B.  posted this morning from there though, I think I'm going to have to try that next time. Maybe both...

So that's been my running for the past week and a half. I'm really happy to be back out there putting one foot in front of the other again. Just in time too because I've got the Kal-Haven Trail Co-ed relay coming up a week from Saturday. I'm still not sure which leg I'll run. The trail used to be a railroad track way back in the day so its pretty straight and basically flat. Well sort of. The first leg is a gradual downhill and is just shy of 18 miles long. The second leg is gradually uphill and 15.6ish? miles long. The problem is my partner has been fighting an injury the last month. I got a message from her Saturday saying she ran 12 miles and it went well but she's down to an 8 minute pace and gave me her "blessing to replace her" if I have someone faster who wants her spot. Now I'm not the type of person to just drop her because she's not as fast currently as she was when we signed up for the race so I didn't even think of that. Granted if she wasn't injured we would have a very good shot at competing to win the co-ed division (she's crazy fast and faster than me) and that would be awesome, but it's not the end of the world if we don't. I told her it's up to her. If she still wants to run it with me she can, I don't want her to feel like she has too either because I wasn't sure how far she had been running lately and I don't want her to push herself too hard too soon just to run this race. She reassured me that if I wanted to get a new partner she wouldn't feel betrayed. So right now she is still my partner, and I'm excited for the race. It goes from Kalamazoo to South Haven (right on Lake Michigan) and a couple that runs with us has a condo out there and they are nice enough to be throwing a post race party for all of us.

Oh and last but not least, do you use to track your runs? I'd never heard of it until someone told me about a contest they're doing right now sponsored by GU. I already have enough ways of tracking my mileage but the fact that I can get some free GU out of it was enough reason for me to join up. The basic idea of the contest is this...You upload your runs from your smartphone, garmin or other gps device for a month from March 9th - April 9th and if you log 100 miles (manual entries don't count they must be gps tracked) you get 8 free peanut butter flavored GU packets. Log 150 and you get 8 free Roctane GU packets. Log 200 miles and you get a 24 pack of assorted GU. If everyone cumulatively logs 100,000 miles during the month then everyone gets a sweet discount at! Pretty sweet deal so if you're interested check it out here

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fingers Crossed

I think.....I'm back! I told that stupid congestion to take a hike and I never want to see it again! I've actually been telling it that all along but it didn't seem to care what I wanted so with a little help from my friend Amoxicillin I've given it the final boot in the ass! I hope. At least til next year? Wishful thinking never hurt anyone.

Yesterday after work I got out for my first outdoor run in just over three weeks!!!! Needless to say I was chomping at the bit. You know.....cus I totally use a bit when I got out for a run..... It wasn't a perfect run but it was good enough. I was hoping to get 7 miles in and less than two miles in I was thinking that might be overly ambitious. My lungs while not feeling horrible, didn't feel 100%. After 2 miles though, they started to feel normal so I was able to get in the whole 7. I think they just weren't used to A) the running and B) running in cold air.

Tonight I met up with a few friends after work for another run and felt fine the whole 8.5 miles so I think it's safe to say the plague of winter 2012 is finally in the rear view. *note* that as I type this I'm simultaneously knocking on wood, throwing salt over my shoulder, AND crossing my fingers. And toes. Just in case. I ALMOST forgot to mention the little fact that it hit 64 degrees here today!!!! Hell yes that meant that tonights run was done in shorts and a t-shirt. Ahhhhh spring time!! Please stay, don't go.

Last night I talked to my partner for the Kal-Haven trail Coed relay, that is rapidly approaching in 18 days!!!!! She has been getting over a slight hip/pelvis injury the past month or so but said she ran 10 miles on Sunday without a problem so she is 90% sure that Team McSmitty is going to be okay but that the speed is going to have to come from my leg of the race.....That's when I informed her of my recent illness induced running sabatical, haha so...... We'll be awesome. Honestly at this point after not being able to run much for 3 weeks I'm just glad to be out there and able to put one foot in front of the other.

I'm going to take tomorrow off from running. I don't want to try and do too much too soon but I'll do some cross training after work so I don't feel like a bum. My morning running partner has been patiently awaiting my return to running in the wee hours so I'm thinking either Thursday or Friday, or maybe both days I'll drag myself out of bed for a pre work run. Besides, I've been missing my Panera breakfasts!

I hope you're all having a great start to your week!