September 24, 2018

Incremental 10K Improvements

After the Giants Race 10K, I'd put in a decent week last week and an okay week this week, mainly easy short stuff with a focus on tapering for Saturday.  The two key "workouts" were Tuesday's mid-effort strength track workout and Saturday's race.

Summer Veggie Pasta
Garlic, basil, cherry tomatoes, olive oil,
red onion, salt, red pepper flakes
(And grated pecorino to finish)

M: 2.74 super easy (jog/walk)

Tuesday Track: jog 0.46; 2X1000, 2X1200 (per mile paces 9:37; 9:48; 9:57; 10:04) w/3 min R/I 3.16 total at the track; jog 0.4; 0.93 walk

W: 3 easy @ 11:50; 0.1 walk

Th: 0.51 jog; 1.47 walk

Friday Shakeout: 0.52 jog super easy @ 12:46; 11 X 60 seconds target race effort/60 seconds jog (per mile paces -- 9:58; 10:28; 10:23; 10:59; 10:16; 9:53; 10:36; 10:26; 10:12; 10:31; 10:11); walk c/d 2.47 total

Seen on my run today.
Saturday, my sis, a childhood bestie (D), and I headed out to the Break Free 10K.  They offered day-of registration for the 10K for $52 (benefits an anti-human-trafficking non-profit), which my sister and I opted into.  Their registration system was fast, efficient, and they accepted credit cards.  There were plenty of porta-potties and the start was roughly on time.

Gorgeous paved trails for 70% of the route.
The hairpin turns plus re-uniting with the 5K at the end
slowed us a bit.  But overall, a great course.

Based on how my Fall of improving my speed has been going, I decided I would be thrilled with anything below 1h05 (10:27/mile) for the 10K.  Thankfully, D decided to hang back with me at roughly 10:20 pace and my speedy Sis decided to chill out with us as well.  As a result, I had a great race, with Sis & D chatting for most of the race and me trying to keep my effort conversational, but at times pushing it more than that, which was fine.

In the end, I blew away my goal and I was thrilled:

Unfortunately, my Garmin registered a short course (as did D's phone app):

But, even with the short course, I still bested my pacing goals.  So, I'm taking the W.

September 18, 2018

Baby Steps

I seem to be (fingers crossed) continuing in the right direction with my running goals.  Last week, I managed 21.47 miles on my feet, including a couple of workouts that made me grin.

The first workout that made me smile? I pulled off a solo 9 mile long run that was nice and slow and easy effort, right in the middle of my recommended easy pace (11:57/mile) and it didn't destroy me.  I did end up taking a 30 minute nap in the afternoon after lunch between client calls -- but I consider that smart recovery, not an indicator that I pushed it too hard.

Second, I pulled together a great strength workout.  I decided to join a friend who's training for the NYC marathon and hang on as long as I could during her long run.  I biked to the trail as a warm-up and she showed up at the predicted time ON. THE. DOT.  When L decides to hit a pace, she hits it!

This time, my ability to hang lasted only 2 miles (my hope had been 4...) but they were at 10:12/mile and we were talking for much of it.  So, since this is a solid tempo pace for me these days, I'll take it.  After I dropped to walk and recover, I added 2 X 0.5 miles at the same pace and then 7 X (1 min hard/1:30 walk) in the high 8s and low 9s.  Finally, I met back up with her and joined for the last 0.78 miles at 10:07.  I biked home and grinned at how great it was to spend time with a friend and get in a great workout.

I made it back to the yoga studio for an hour of heated yoga.  I fit in my 36 minute jumprope/calisthenics workout.  And I did some easy runs, bike rides and walks as well as my shoulder stabilization and leg stretching.

Overall, it was probably the most evenly balanced workout week I've had in 2018.  And (knock on wood), my left leg seems to be cooperating with this plan.  I'm cautiously hopeful for an improvement in my 10K time this weekend.    

September 9, 2018

A Little Victory

I've been wanting (and working) to creep back into a slightly more "runner" level of fitness as opposed to just the general level of "I'm a healthy, happy, grateful human" level of fitness I'd been maintaining over our year of travel and our year of return to home-life.

I registered for the Giants Race to join a friend -- it seemed a bit gimmicky, but why not?
I have disabled young relatives. I have friends and relatives that have died much earlier than the average age in my country.  When facing that reality, sometimes, at least for me, it feels very selfish to have sports-performance-related goals in your 5th decade.  Because, obviously, I'm just grateful to be alive and healthy.

An early morning 10K with a finish on the field?  It's pretty awesome.
And yet.  Today, I ran a 10K with a strong negative split.  And I am a happy lady.

The last mile and 0.31 at paces that were faster than last week's 5K?  Yeah, that felt good!
Overall, I was a bit shocked at how awesome this race was.

The Schwag was hard-core!
Also, the course looked to be quite boring on the map.

I've run this route many times (or so I thought).
But it turns out, they close the Embarcadero for the race!  It is so nice to run so fast on a course that I've only run in the past while on the (certainly broad) sidewalk, dodging pedestrians, pedicabs, unicyclists, cruise-tourists-with-luggage, etc.

The 5K is HUGE!  It starts at 10:50 AM, 3h50 minutes after the 10K/half start, 
or, otherwise known as you can watch it while you brunch!
Here's to creeping back to some semblance of runner fitness.  I'm very much looking forward to the next 2 weeks of training 'til my next 10K.  Healthy food.  Good workouts. All sorts of good goals.  Here's to hoping I can improve on today's performance and slowly inch towards a decent half marathon effort on Thanksgiving.

September 2, 2018

Hamstring/Glute Insertion Runner Issues -- Anecdotal Overview

I've always had a bit of a struggle with my left leg, running-wise.  I wear my left shoes out long before my right.  My left hip is always more annoyed at me than my right when I'm working hard.  At times, I've joked that my left knee is my "health scale" and if it starts to hurt, I probably need to lose some weight.  Also, my left shins and calf muscles occasionally just freak out as well.  When I'm on it, I do the work to keep these imbalances in check (ART, Yoga, stretching, and functional strength).

Late last year, it got a bit out of control and I really started to struggle with a recurrent left leg issue that was possibly hamstring tendonosis, glute insertion inflammation, and/or SI joint inflammation.  During this flare-up, I was slow, in more pain than I'd like, and I definitely took longer to seek solutions than I should have.  

First -- ART.  It works so well for me.  I highly recommend trying it out.

The downside?  It's a temporary solution.  It fixes me, but it doesn't fix me long term.  My ART professional is super knowledgeable, so he recommended lots of strength, rolling, and stretching exercises that I obviously needed.  But I still found it hard to make the time and effort to do the stuff that was prescribed.  And so, I was going back when things flared back up.  It was a maintenance solution with a little bit of slow improvement, but not a magic bullet, for sure.

Second -- Yoga.  I finally started to get back into a semi-regular practice and once I got a few workouts on the books, I noticed that my leg started to be better. (This compounded with the ART to get me into a better spot.)

Third -- Functional Strength: Side lunges. Front & back lunges with leg extensions. Clamshells. Squat-cross. Burpees. Jump rope. Skips. Leg Swings. Reasonable speed work that doesn't hurt.  Making time for this stuff other than the speed is difficult for me.

Fourth -- TV/Movie Stretching.  I think this is the biggest reason why I've been managing my leg so much better this Summer than I have since when I really messed it up last Fall.  Frankly, it's part of the stretching that my ART professional recommended.  I'd just neglected what I should be doing until I found a way to incorporate it into my night-time media consumption.

Thanks to my shoulder dislocation, I did not have a choice re: adding some quality time with shoulder/arm workouts.  I experimented with weights, but after getting strong enough to max out my rotator cuff with 2.5 and 5 lb weights and my larger arm stuff with 10 lbs, I decided I didn't want to buy heavier weights.  Instead, I ordered a set of resistance bands and started a habit of doing my shoulder/arm workouts to stabilize my shoulder at least 2X per week at night (although in a perfect world, 4X would be wonderful).  This had a bonus of allowing me to justify some media consumption that I otherwise might have felt guilty about.

STRETCHING WITH THE RESISTANCE BANDS IS AMAZING!  I hadn't planned this at all when I ordered the bands, but now, every night when I finish the shoulder/arm stuff (and some nights when I'm too lazy to do it), I add in some great stretching that the bands enable.  The big ones I've been doing almost every night include seated twists seeking a bind on either side and standing bow-pose (or dancer's pose), but with a switch between which hand(s)/arm(s) holds/pulls/anchors the leg. The end result has been *much* looser hip flexors, loosening of my transverse hip movement, and very surprisingly to me, much better hamstrings & glutes, which has translated to decreased pain and a slowly increasing ability to get faster without pain.

So, there you go.  My anecdotal evidence is that the foregoing makes *my* hip/hamstring/glute issues much more manageable.  And this early 40s lady has been able to get faster and improve her running fitness by doing the stuff above.

Race To the End Of Summer

Technically, there are 3 more weekends before Summer is over.  But, RTTEOS is usually on Labor Day weekend, and this year was more of the same.

The cameraman at the finish was INSISTENT, so I celebrated!
PC: Jen
This year's new course starts in the park and is an out-and-back on the trail (which could use slightly better marking), so there's no more slogging it out on closed roads.  Overall, the tradeoff is for rolling hills on a trail in lieu of flatter stuff on closed vehicle roads.

Sunrise over Moffett Field on the way to the start.
I think I like the new course better, even though, I do think it's probably a little harder.  Last year's race had been hot, and humid, and just all-over not super pleasant (did *NOT* feel like the end of Summer).  This year, however, was *wonderfully* cool and fun and totally felt like the end of Summer with temps in the 60s.  Also, although we didn't realize it, it appears that they now offer day-of-race packet pick-up at registration, which is amazing, and coupled with the reasonable price point and the potential for a cool day, if you're willing to gamble on the heat, this is a great option for heading into the Fall racing season.

If you are curious about how the temperature swings can matter, I think the post-race photo above has all of Angela, Jen, and myself looking *much* better than we did in our *pre-race* photos last year -- This race is a crapshoot -- it can be muggy and miserable.  But, when you get lucky like today, it's lovely. (Plus, Angela took 2nd female in the 10K, Jen took 3rd AG in the 5K, so this is also a very celebratory photo!)

Given the AM temps, I went in with hopes of a decade PR (e.g. best for myself in this decade of age).  NOPE.  But I ran a very hard effort on a rolling course (hard enough to require a 30 second walk break around mile 2.8 - kind of embarrassing, but it happened, so there you go).  I finished in 31:09, 1:26 off the goal, but good enough for 6th in my age group, which was fun -- small races are wonderful.

And then, we had a delicious post-race brunch at our place.

Summer at its finest: Dips & cheese & grilled veggies & tomatoes in olive oil & deviled eggs & fruit & sausage & crackers & bread & mimosas + sparling rosé
After this wonderful experience, I'm very much looking forward to my fall plans of lots of weekend races and solid workout weeks to get me into shape for my target race of the Atlanta Half Marathon on Thanksgiving.

So far, here's the current tentative race schedule for the rest of the year:

9/9/2018 -- Giants 10K (registered)
9/22/2018 -- Break Free 10K
10/7/2018 -- Rock 'n Roll San Jose 10K (registered)
10/28/2018 -- rc.ocktoberun 5K
11/22/2018 -- Atlanta Thanksgiving Half Marathon (registered, assuming I finish, it will be my first half marathon in 2.5 years!  Fingers crossed!  This will be my training cycle goal race.)
12/2/2018 -- CIM relay (registered, I'll likely run one leg of roughly 6-7 miles)
12/16/2018 -- Silicon Valley Santa Run 5K
Christmas/New Year's -- something in the bay or sac area??

Cheers to cooling temperatures and best wishes for a great Fall to all!