Week of 2/17/14 – 2/23/14: Country Music Half Training, Week 6

week of 2/17/14 to 2/23/14
Guess what? I finally went running with a group this week! Except it wasn’t the group that I’m supposed to be running with.

Tuesday

Since it was 60 degrees, I decided to meet up with the Mt. Juliet Flyers group to do my easy three miles on the Providence Greenway. Around twenty people showed up. Like I am wont to do in groups, I started my easy miles too fast. This week’s intervals were 12:2, which should be no problem, but I started off at a sub-11 min/mi pace. Nope. The entire interval I was also leapfrogging with a couple of other ladies who were doing 3:1 intervals, so after my first, I decided to join them. Because isn’t that the point of running with a group? I completed the three miles with them effortlessly and within my easy run pace. Yay!

I almost decided to not do my strides, but I stopped on the way home in the neighborhood I like to run in and did them. This was my first time not doing them on a treadmill this training cycle, so I was interested to see how my times would compare. So here’s a comparison for you! Outside is on the left, and what my footpod recorded on the treadmill for my last stride workout is on the right:
stride workout comparison

So pretty close, but looks like I’m slightly speedier outdoors, probably because the treadmill does a ramp up to the speed I enter, whereas I just start out faster when I’m outside. It also (oddly) feels like they take longer outside. Usually the opposite is true! Maybe it’s because I wasn’t listening to music or couldn’t stare at the timer. Or, again, because the treadmill ramps up the speed so the time spent at the fastest pace is shorter.

Thursday

Long hill workout day! Except a storm was en route (the downside of it finally warming up), so the group workout got canceled. I did treadmill hills. The hill the group was supposed to be running is about 0.4 miles with an average grade of 6%. So this is what I replicated on the ‘mill. First, I did an easy 8.5 minute warmup at 4.3 mph with a minute and a half of walking after to shake out my legs. I decided to start at 5.0 mph and see how that felt before possibly increasing my speed on subsequent intervals. For recovery, I walked at 2.5 with zero incline until I felt recovered (usually around 4-5 minutes). Not nearly as fun as jogging back down the hill (literally the only fun part of hill workouts), but it would have to do.

I’m not going to lie. The first interval was HARD. I did it at a steady 5.0, and I was breathing crazy heavy by the middle of it. That said, I figured I was still just warming up, so I did the second one faster. I increased from 5.0 to 5.2 over the course of the interval. Yeah, I wanted to die after that. I didn’t know if I was going to be making it through this workout. So I decided to slow it down on my third and started at 4.5 and increased to 4.8. This was easier and I only needed about 2.5 minutes of recovery for it. So for the fourth, I started at 4.8, increased to 5.0 and back down to 4.8. Finally, for the fifth interval, I started at 4.8 and played my counting game until I was increased to 5.4! Figured I might as well finish it off with death.

My fastest of the intervals was my second one, which I completed in 4:37. My slowest was the third, completed in 5:11. The other three all fell in the middle, around 4:50. This probably would have been easier on an actual hill where I could adjust my speed as needed, instead of being stuck at a speed on the treadmill. This may have been my hardest workout ever.

Saturday

My five miler this week went well. The 12:2 intervals posed no problem, and the weather outside was perfect. The only issue I had is that I started to develop some blisters on my big toes. Also, my knees have been hurting earlier in runs than they used to. I used to not feel them until around 7-8 miles, but lately it’s been around mile four. I hope this isn’t an issue.

Sunday

Ugh, where do I begin with Sunday? I knew my training was going too well, and I was sure to hit a roadblock eventually. I was scheduled to do eight miles easy; this is slightly less than my last couple long runs because I knew the hill workout would be killer. And I was right. That, on top of the five miles from the day before, meant I was going into this run with really, really tired legs. I mean, that’s kind of the point. That’s why I scheduled the long run for the day after a five mile run every week. I’m supposed to be running on fatigued legs because it trains me to do so in races. But this was way more fatigued than normal.

It was also really warm and sunny outside (hi, 67 degrees!) and incredibly windy. And I chose a hilly route. I didn’t feel strong starting out. I didn’t feel strong in the middle. My knees starting aching around mile four again, and by mile six, they were downright HURTING. I pushed on, promising myself I’d do at least seven miles. However, on my sixth running interval, I ended up cutting it two minutes short. I was just in too much pain. The blisters from the day before had gotten way worse, so that, plus my knees, plus the fatigue in my legs, just wouldn’t let me go on. So I turned my two minute walk break into a four minute break before starting my seventh interval. I got to 7.5 miles, but I just couldn’t finish it out. I needed to listen to my body and not push too hard, but I still felt like a failure.

When I got home I discovered that I got to experience the wonderful world of chafing for the first time. The skin on the upper inside of my right arm had been rubbed raw. Remind me not to wear that running shirt again, as that’s the only thing I could think of that would have caused it.

Does anyone have any good advice on what to do for these blisters I keep getting on my big toes? I seem to get them with all socks and all shoes, so I’m not sure that changing any of that will help.

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Race Report: Hot Chocolate 15k – February 15, 2014

The race started out with some bad news.

Amanda texted me on the Wednesday before the race to ask what day we had signed up because she couldn’t find her confirmation email for packet pickup on Thursday. I searched my email and told her it was July 19th, but they had sent out an email last Friday with a link to use. She said she didn’t receive that. I started joking around with her that she had never actually signed up. But when she tried to log into their website to view her confirmation it soon became clear that she had never actually signed up. I teased her about it and figured she would just go ahead and sign up since registration was still open.

On Thursday, I texted her to ask about meeting her for dinner after packet pickup. She said she wasn’t coming up because she wasn’t running. Say what? She said she couldn’t afford it and refused my attempts to pay for it. So, I sadly lost my race buddy, which super bummed me out since running a race and having no one to share it with at the finish line is not really fun at all.

This really diminished the excitement I felt for the race, and I almost didn’t want to do it anymore. But I had paid for it and the fleece tech shirt they give you is really nice, and I wanted to be able to wear it, so I forged on, despite this warning that was posted to their Facebook page the night before:

hot chocolate 15k weather alert

The weather was forecasted to be in the 20s on Saturday morning with a windchill of around 12. (Whyyyy?) So I opted to wear running tights with compression sleeves under them, my long-sleeved half-zip with thumb holes, my new Brooks jacket, mittens, and my earwarmer headband. I also decided last minute to wear my Skechers; the tread is running a little low on them, but it’s not completely flat and the midsole seemed fine. I knew they wouldn’t give me blisters, and that’s all I cared about.

I went to bed the night before with a bit of a stomach ache. I don’t know why it was hurting. Jonathan and I had decided to postpone most of our Valentine’s celebration until after the race, so we had just ordered pizza. No alcohol. Nothing unusual. I woke up the next morning still in pain, although it wasn’t as bad as the night before. I downed some Pepto-Bismol and hoped that it would subside. I was imagining having to write a blog post on having to quit the race halfway through due to stomach issues.

Race Day

I arrived in downtown Nashville around 7:30 am for the scheduled 7:55 start. It was so cold and starting to snow. I spent about 10 minutes lightly jogging and trying to warm up, but the entire time I was standing in my corral, I couldn’t feel my fingers or my toes. I thought to myself, “Never ever ever let yourself sign up for a winter race again!” I was in K corral, which was two corrals back from the start (A-H were for the 5k). We were sent on our way a little after 8am.

My goals for this race were pretty simple. I knew that I could easily do it in under two hours. I would be greatly disappointed if I went over that time. But I was really aiming for about 1:50, which would tell me that I was on track with my half marathon training (with the goal for that to finish in 2:45). I decided not to do structured intervals, but just planned on walking through water stops and on uphills.

The way the course is laid out, the first two miles are fairly flat. Then you get four(ish) miles of mostly uphill, then four(ish) miles of mostly downhill. Really good training for the Country Music Half, since it’s kind of similar and along some of the same route. The first two miles were pretty uneventful, although sucky in the way the first two miles always are. I warmed up pretty quick after we got going, so the cold stopped being an issue. Just before the first mile marker, I got something stuck to the bottom of my shoe that was causing a big bump under the toes of my left foot. I thought I was going to have to stop and remove it, but it worked itself out after a few minutes. The first water stop was just after mile 2. It was so cold, all the water cups were filled with slushy ice. I dumped some in my mouth to let it melt and started running again.

Soon after was the first big hill, which was the ramp on Rosa Parks. It was steep. It was so steep that I literally only saw two people attempting to run up the thing. Everyone was walking it. About a half mile after that was another hill. This one wasn’t as steep; it was just long. So I ran up part of it and then walked the rest. About a quarter mile after that, right before the fourth mile marker, was the second water stop. This is why you will notice that miles 3 and 4 were my slowest; this was most of the walking that I did.

hot chocolate 15k

This look on my face clearly says, “I just went up a hill.”

It was pretty steady for a while after that. Most of miles 5-7 were through Centennial Park, which is fairly flat. There was a turn around point just before the sixth mile marker that was on a hill, but I ran all of it. The third water station was just after that and they were also handing out chocolate candy. I hadn’t eaten at all and my stomach had been growling, so I took one. I unwrapped it and stuck it my mouth before I realized my mistake. It was 20 degrees outside and the chocolate was rock hard. I chewed it up as quickly as I could and then dumped some ice from the water station in after it to try to wash it down. Luckily, the discomfort of having chocolate stuck in my mouth didn’t last long, and I was soon running through the 10k point. I hadn’t been checking my watch very much, but I did look at it around 6.2 miles and realized that I had just ran my fastest 10k. “Huh,” I thought. I was feeling really good, so I decided to pick up the pace a little.

hot chocolate 15k

More in my groove at this point!

There were no stops from miles 6 to 8. There was the occasional rolling hill, but it was mostly a downhill trajectory, and I managed to average under an 11 min/mi pace with mile 8 being my fastest of the whole race at 10:28. The fourth and final water stop was just after mile 8 at the base of a hill. I took my last gulps of ice, walked part of the way up the hill, and then started my final mile to the finish. I ran mile nine in 10:38, with that mile marker telling me to pick up the pace even further because there was only 0.3 left. I pushed harder until I saw the mile 3 marker for the 5k, signalling there was only 0.1 left. I started passing people left and right, sprinting across at a 9 min/mi pace.

hot chocolate 15k

Again, I did not run the whole race with my hands up. I promise.

I hit the stop button on my watch and looked at my time. One hour and 46 minutes. Fourteen minutes faster than my I-can-definitely-do-this time, and four minutes faster than my it-would-be-awesome time. I was incredibly happy. Later, I plugged that time into the McMillan calculator and saw that if I kept up my training, that meant I could potentially run the Country Music Half in 2:33. *jaw drops*

hot chocolate 15k

Am I staring at the ground again? Maybe I’m just blinking. I have got to perfect these finish line photos.

I picked up my souvenir race mug, which had hot chocolate, a banana, and chocolate fondue with wafers, marshmallows, pretzels, and a rice krispie treat to dip. I sat down and ate my banana, but I was soon becoming very, very cold again. So I downed my hot chocolate and hightailed it back to my car, saving the fondue for when I got home.

hot chocolate 15k finisher

Race Review

It was one of the most well-organized races I’ve run, especially for its size. (There were an estimated 6000 people running that day.) Packet pick-up was a breeze. They let you exchange hoodies if you got one that didn’t fit. (Mine fit perfectly.) Speaking of the hoodies, BEST RACE SHIRT EVER. They are long-sleeved tech fleeces with thumb holes. (You know I love thumb holes.) Very warm and comfortable. I haven’t run in mine yet, but it will definitely go in my winter rotation. Corrals were clearly marked, as was the entire course. There were parts of the course that had ice on it, but they set up barriers so you wouldn’t run over it. The volunteers were fantastic. Names were announced as you crossed the finish line and you were immediately handed Gatorade or water. (Gatorade has never tasted better.) The finisher’s mug was great. The hot chocolate was some of the best I’ve ever had. I didn’t eat the fondue till I got home, but it was easy to heat up in the microwave. All-in-all, an amazing race that I will definitely do again next year. (They’ve already announced the date!)

hot chocolate 15k souvenir race mug

I chose the perfect outfit to run this in. My hands got sweaty occasionally, but I would just take my mittens off and put them in my jacket pocket until my hands got cold again. The zippers on both my jacket and shirt allowed me to use them as a kind of thermostat. I felt completely comfortable despite the 20 degree temperature throughout the entire race.

Race Analysis

So now it’s time for all the charts and graphs and analysis! You know, the part I love that’s probably also boring to read about. So I won’t say anything and just post the screenshots. First up, my mile splits:
hot chocolate 15k mile splits

By the way, my official time agreed with my watch time down to the second, so apparently I did a good job hitting buttons:

hot chocolate 15k official results

For the timed splits, the first one was at 3 miles (not quite to the 5k mark for some reason) and the second was at the 10k point.

Here’s my race analysis from Strava:
hot chocolate 15k strava race analysis

Also, according to Strava:

hot chocolate 15k estimates efforts

Even if that 5k time was recorded on a downhill, I have to be able to run a 5k at that speed if I can do it at the end of a 15k, right?

And, finally, my quarter mile splits:
hot chocolate 15k quarter mile splits

Shoes: Skechers GoRun 2

All on-course photos by Souvenir Photography.

2013 Race Awards!

I decided to separate this out from my 2013 in review post, but I want to talk a little about the races I ran last year before I get too far into this year’s races. I ran in a total of nine events last year, six of which were timed races.

Best Medal

Winner: Go Commando 5k

go commando 5k medal

I loved the Go Commando medal! It is very solid, with a good weight. And, bonus: the middle part spins around and has different things on each side. One side shows the name of the race and location, while the other side shows the year.

Runner-up: Music City Fourth of July 10k

Source: Facebook

Source: Facebook


This medal has a great design. The only thing I really dislike is that the year of the race isn’t included on it, so I hope they don’t hand out the exact same one this year.

Most Fun

Winner: Rockin’ Marathon Relay

This one was so much fun because you were on a team! So if it wasn’t your turn to run, you got to relax and hang out with friends. Once you were out there, it was all you, but it was only 1.9 miles at a time and then you were back to relaxing and hanging out. And crossing the finish line with your entire team was a blast! Plus you can say that you’ve done a marathon (relay).

Runner-up: Go Commando 5k

While just a pretty standard 5k, I had fun because I got to run with friends! (Are you noticing a trend here?) Even if I just ran the first half mile or so with them, I loved seeing them on the out-and-backs and waiting at the finish line to cheer them on.

Best Course

Winner: Music City Fourth of July 10k

A lot of Nashville races are held downtown and this one was no exception. However, just before the race, the new convention center opened up, which meant we got to run on the road that goes through it, which was pretty cool, and gives this race the Best Course award, despite all the hills.

Runner-up: Fremont Oktoberfest 5k

While the course wasn’t really an awesome thing of beauty, I’ll give the runner-up spot to the Fremont Oktoberfest 5k, just because it was in Seattle!

Best Shirt

Winner: Go Commando 5k

Source: Facebook

Source: Facebook


When you signed up for Go Commando, you got a choice: did you want shorts or the t-shirt? I figured I had plenty of race t-shirts that I never wore, but I might get some use out of the shorts, so I opted for those. And I do love the shorts. But when I saw the shirt design at the race expo, I shelled out another $12 for it. That’s right. I actually paid extra money for this race shirt. That’s how much I like it. And it does have the distinction of being the only race shirt I really wear around.

Best All-Around

Winner: Go Commando 5k

The Go Commando race was a great event! It was the only race I ran that had a real expo, which was pretty cool. (And, YAY, for free Stick massages after the run!) The food spread at the end was awesome and extensive. They had real race photographers out on the course (the only one I ran last year that did). I am planning on doing it again this year, although now they’ve added a 10k so I don’t know which to run!

Runner-up: Music City Fourth of July 10k

While it rained the whole race, which made me high-tail it out of there after it was over instead of sticking around for the post-race festivities, I did have a lot of fun at this one. The course was great, although I would like it if they had a different course for the 10k, so you weren’t just doing two laps of the 5k course. But I liked it enough to sign up for the 5k this year!

Week of 2/10/14 – 2/16/14: Country Music Half Training, Week 5

week of 2/10/14 to 2/16/14

On Tuesday, I headed out to the gym for my easy three and strides. I started up the treadmill on a slow walk while I set up my Garmin, like I always do. Except my Garmin was dead. Despite that it had said 60% battery when I checked it at home, it was completely dead. “Oh well,” I thought. “I can still track it with the Nike app.” The Nike app isn’t as accurate, but I’m still not sure how accurate my footpod is either, so I figured it’d be pretty close.

Nope.

Nike was telling me in my ear that I was running 9-10 minute miles (while at 4.8-5.2 on the treadmill), which is just laughable. This threw me off and made the first couple miles frustrating. I was doing 10:2 intervals this week, although I actually did 12 minutes on my first interval because I didn’t want to stop running to a song that I was listening to. By the third mile and third interval, I was more into a rhythm and ignoring my Nike app talking in my ear. Nike said I did 3 miles in a little over half an hour. I ran for 36 minutes, figuring that was closer to the truth.

Since my watch was dead, I had nothing to time my strides with. So I just decided to do a fast mile. Here’s some numbers and math for you: I started the treadmill at 5.0 and increased 0.1 every 30 seconds for the first two minutes. That got me to 5.4. Then I increased 0.1 every 20 seconds for two minutes. By then I was at 6.0. For the next two minutes or so, I increased 0.1 every 15 seconds until I got to 7.0. I held that speed for one minute. Then I decreased 0.2 every 30 seconds down to 6.0 until my mile was complete. One mile in 9:55 according to the treadmill, so effort felt slightly faster.

I had every intention of running this week’s scheduled hill intervals. I also had every intention of actually running with the group. Life said otherwise. My car tire somehow ended up with four spikes in it, so I had to take it in to get a new tire. Then Amanda hit me with the news that she wasn’t going to be running the 15k with me on Saturday (more on that in my upcoming race report). I was feeling a little defeated on Thursday and I didn’t really want to trash my legs before the race, so I ended up just doing a 15 minute tempo run alone. It was 50 degrees outside, so I opted to not go to the gym, which seemed kinda silly for a short workout, so I strapped on my reflective gear and headed into the night.

I considered bailing and not running at all, so I’m glad I pushed myself to do SOME sort of speedwork. It felt fairly hard, maybe even harder than the 20 minute tempo from last week, but then I came across this Runner’s World article about running in the dark that made me feel better. I also didn’t really warm up beforehand (bad runner!), which was evident by the awesome shin splints I felt during the entire run. Luckily, Jonathan cooked a super yummy dinner to make up for the crappy day I had.

I actually came pretty close to not running the 15k on Saturday, which I’ll go into more on my race report, but I’m glad I did because it was awesome. Despite being bitterly cold, I had probably my best race to date. And the race was super well organized and the chocolate at the end was very very yummy. I finished in 1:46:48, which was faster than what I thought would even be my best.

I didn’t have a run scheduled on Sunday because of Saturday’s race, but I went out for a thirty minute recovery run anyway because it was 50 degrees and sunny. The goal was to stay between a 12:30 and 13:00 min pace, which I did. I thought about doing this week’s 10:2 intervals, but I ended up just running the whole thing through. Again, I’m cautiously excited about how well training is going.

3 Ways to Beat the Treadmill Blahs

treadmill

Source: Flickr


It doesn’t look like this cold weather is letting up anytime soon, so for those of you stuck on the treadmill, like me, I thought I would post some of my favorite ways to beat the treadmill blahs.

  1. Listen to music or watch TV.
    I can sometimes zone out to my treadmill playlist. There are a few songs, in particular, that actually make me run harder and make me feel like I’m flying. I also have a tendency to mouth the words along while listening to music in the gym, which may be awkward. I don’t really care. Anything to get through the miles!

    But I get visually bored sometimes when just listening to music, and it gets me out of my zone. It helps to close my eyes, but that’s just not safe on a treadmill. (Although I do it for short periods.) In those times, it may better to put on a TV show or movie. The treadmills at my old gym had headphone plugs right in the machines where you could pick which of the TVs to listen to. My new gym is older and doesn’t have such technology. They make you tune into radio stations to listen to the TVs. I don’t even know how you do that in this day and age, but the average age at my gym is like 90, so…

    Sometimes I will put a movie on through my phone. I really like running to “Tangled” because the music helps me get that “I’m flying” feeling with the bonus of having something to visually focus on. Probably other musicals would do this too, but “Tangled” is the only one I have stored on my phone.

  2. Play games with yourself.
    I mentioned this on Monday, but one thing I like to do is play a counting game. I start at 1 and count to 100. If I look at the treadmill display before I get to 100, I automatically have to up my speed 0.1. However, if I get to 100 without looking at it, I have the option to raise my speed 0.1, lower my speed 0.1, or stay the same. Then I start the count over. It’s a great way to pass the time and keep you from staring at that pesky clock!
  3. Change something. Anything.
    Another thing I will do is change something every minute. Sometimes it’s my speed. Sometimes it’s my incline. Sometimes things go up. Sometimes things go down. It keeps the workout from getting too monotonous, but can be kind of draining because you have to constantly stare at the timer (which is why I prefer the counting game).

    If you are running with music, change something at the beginning of every new song. If you are running with the TV, change something for each commercial.

Speaking of treadmill blahs, has anyone ever tried this app out? I don’t have an iPad or a laptop I could haul to the gym, but it seems kind of interesting.