Tuesday, March 22, 2016

An Odd Week, and the Mercer Island 10K

Ok, I hate 5Ks, but I really hate 10Ks, too!

But, coach tells me to race 10Ks as training, so racing 10Ks for training is what I do.

Last week was weird.  I was sick, then I got mostly better and had customer reviews/meetings for a  few days.  That meant sitting in a conference room all day (and limited workouts), along with lots of catered food.  DELICIOUS catered food!  And more eating out.

By the time Thursday rolled around and I had a “normal” day again, I was SOOOOOO READY to get back to my routine!  It was a magically sunny day, but I had a specific treadmill workout and I honestly wasn’t even sad about missing out on the sun.  I didn’t want to just run and play in the sun, I wanted to WORK, and I knew the treadmill was going to be awesome for it.  It was a variety of intervals (different paces, different lengths, all kinds of stuff) and while none of it was crazy tough, it still felt amazing.

Friday was a tempo run then a long bike ride.  Tempo is fine, but once it was done, I was a bit tired.  Oh well, just a nice 2:30 time-in-the-saddle loop to do on the bike, with no expectations.  All was fine for about 3 miles, until I got a flat.  I changed it, and in record time!  ;)  But when I went to fill my tube, I realized the CO2 cartridge I had with me was non-threaded….which didn’t work with the threaded little inflator thing.  After fruitlessly trying to somehow force it to work, I gave up and texted a friend who lived close by.  Please note this was all done on the corner a VERY busy intersection, and so everyone in the world saw the sad little cyclist who couldn’t change her tube :(

Josh arrived, we pumped up my tire, and PFFFFFTTTTTTTT it went flat as well!  Well with no more spare tubes, he offered to give me a ride to a local shop.  Long story short, the sidewall was blown out and I ended up with a new tire.  Other long story short, I didn't really start my ride until about 2 hours later, as in..almost the time I thought I would be done.  Which also means I was getting hungry (and ate my snacks I had for the road) right at the beginning.

Then there was a nasty headwind.

And my legs were tired from the running.

And did I mention I was severely under-fueled at that point?

Yeah, soooooo it was an awful ride.  But I got it done.

With a 10K on Sunday, all I had was an easy swim on Saturday, but my legs were so sore!  I thought they would be ok, lots of foam rolling and compression socks, but Sunday morning I woke up feeling achy and tired and my legs just felt heavy.  The course is also conveniently very hilly.  Like, big long steep hills, not just little rolling hills.  Soooo it was with great trepidation I lined up at the start line.  7:15/mi was the goal (my previous standard for a flatter course)…although I knew with the hills it would be tough, not to mention my legs….

GO!  Luckily it started off downhill.  My first mile was the fastest, in the 6:50’s.  I knew it would be the fastest, and knew I would need that cushion later.  It was fine but—I was already feeling it.  My legs were just so, so TIRED!  The course turned a corner and started some smaller hills and I started struggling.  People were passing me, flying past me.  I was settling into the 7:15ish, but it just felt so, so hard.  We got to a sharp U-turn, and tilted back up a longggggg hill.  I saw the leaders, a guy absolutely flying off the lead, with another couple behind him a while back.  I finally saw the first girl, and started counting….5 ahead of me.  I was 6th.  The girl ahead of me was running with her dad, it looked like.  She looked so young!  (At the time I thought she was young; looking at results, I realized she was 13 years old…13!! INSANE!  She was running phenomenally).

Anyway, back to my own sad struggle, I made the turn, saw another girl was behind me and close but not quite on my tail yet, and started slogging uphill.  Longest hill ever.  I ran the uphills alright; I was slow, but I reeled some people in.  Couldn’t even get close to the girl in front of me, but was ok.. until a couple guys passed me. GRR.  Tired, tired, tired.

I just wanted to stop.  I literally wanted to just stop running, walk along the side of the course and…be done.  This was very strange for me, and a little bit shocking—usually the start line gets me engaged, and I will snap out of any doubts and RACE.  I have never wanted to stop in a race before (well maybe long-course triathlon, but that’s a different kind of thing ;) ) and yet here I was, not even halfway through a 10k, and I really just wanted to quit.  My heart rate was fine—high, but not that high.  I train with it much higher during hard intervals…I just couldn’t get my legs to work any harder!

Made it to the top and had the longest “flat”-ish portion..and the girl behind me finally caught up and made the pass.  I stayed on her tail for like, 3 seconds, before she pulled away.   Came up to the next hill, and this was the REAL hill!  During Seafair, when the Blue Angels come to do an airshow over Lake Washington, we often come to Mercer Island to watch.  As such, I have walked up this hill many times.   WALKED up it.  And it’s tiring just to WALK up it!  And here I was trying to run it.  I lied about the last hill—THIS was the longest hill ever!  I made up a liiiiiiittle time on the girl in front of me, but nothing that challenged her at all.

Luckily, this also meant a really long downhill.  I did try to work the downhills, during this race.  I’m awful at running downhill, but Shawn had texted me in the morning telling me to “work ‘um!” (in response to me “UGHHHH HILLLLS” text) so I kept repeating that to myself and tried to win some time back.  It worked, some.  I definitely am not great at running down hills, but I do think I ran them well—for me! 

At the bottom of that hill…wait, we keep going down?  Don’t we turn and head back now?  No?  But if we keep going down, we’re gonna have to run back up on the way back! …..dangit…..

So, an unexpected out-and-back plus an unexpected extra climb back up, and I was SUFFERING.  I was suffering too much to even think about wanting to quit.  I knew there was less than 2 miles to go but that just seemed so impossible!  I kind of started blocking things out, FINALLY, which meant I finally started to feel like myself in normal race mode (although I wasn’t exactly running fast anymore).  I tried to speed up when I could, and by the time I got to mile 5, I started trying to do some math.  I wanted to break 45 minutes but wasn’t very optimistic…but, maybe it was possible?

Please note, at this point, I forgot how long a 10k was and was doing the math for 6.1 miles.  UGH!  It does, however, explain why I was so confused about how it seemed like I would be able to break 45 minutes relatively easily (as long as I kept it steady).

Up, down, up, around, some guy yelled at me about my outfit (color coordination on point!!), more up and then the flat.  We were CLOSE now, because we were running by the park-and-ride where we had parked, and it had been a short walk to the start line!

But, it was also a STEEP UPHILL to get there.  I looked at my watch.  43:52.  I still need to get up that hill.  It’s too far.  44:22.  Why am I not at the top of this hill yet.  44:48.  Yeah no, I’m still not at the top of this hill?!?!?  I NEED THE FINISH LINE NOW.  I think I backed off a bit around then because I was clearly not going to make it under 45, and the extra few seconds really didn’t matter to me at that point.  I finally crested the hill and coasted down to the finish line.

45:50, for a 7:22/mi average.

And you know what, I’m happy with that.  I mean I’m not HAPPY about it, I always think I should do better, and honestly it was a bit of a failed race execution-wise (plus I just never felt really good or into it)…but it’s what I deserve.  I’ll take it.  7:22 on some INTENSE hills, on already-tired and sore legs, and after a week of being sick and busy…  Honestly, I can’t complain about that!

Still managed a 7th place female and 3rd AG, too, and maybe it’s good for me to be humbled sometimes.

Anyway, this week is a bit of unloading…  Which STILL seems weird to me, like what, no, but I’m not even doing lots of work!!!!...but I trust my coach.  This weekend will be chill, then another 10k the following week.  Which I’m now a little more excited about, because I feel like I need to tackle it again.  :)

Friday, March 18, 2016

Where did the time go?! And an absurdly long account of a 5k...

As long as December and January felt, February (and now March?!) has flown by!   I even wrote a something a few weeks ago but never got around to posting it, and it already feels so out of date.

So, what’s been up?

Honestly, not a lot.  I mean, just swim-bike-run and work but nothing incredibly noteworthy.  Just back to the grind and time is starting to move so fast!

Raced the Kirkland Shamrock 5k last weekend.. I woke up Friday with a sore throat, took it easy, then Saturday morning woke up very much sick.  But I needed to race!  So, I slept in as long as possible (thank goodness it was close, and started at 9am!), took some DayQuil, and dragged myself to the start line.

I had been nervous for this race.  Which was funny, considering it’s just a 5k… but I have only done a couple 5ks, and I had done this one last year so I knew what to expect (ALL UPHILL) and also felt the pressure to compare it to last year!  In my mind, I should be faster!  But of course, feeling so sick I started letting go of that idea.  Hey, at least I had an excuse?

Lined up near the front.  Started…and, wouldn’t you know it, started running hard.  Funny how slapping a timing chip on me and throwing me over the line magically makes me forget everything else.

IT WAS HARD.  The first half mile was probably the hardest—a very gradual uphill, running hard, trying to find a rhythm and I could NOT for the life of me figure out how to breathe and run at the same time!  I was acutely aware of how stuffy I was, and my patterns were all off.  I was moving, but I just didn’t feel good!  I finally did settle into it more, but I definitely felt “off” the whole time—my dad took a video at the finish which kinda confirmed how I felt.  My feet and timing are just..off.  Clunky.  OH well.

Anyway, back to the beginning as I was dying and seriously trying to figure out how to run like this.  Of course, THIS is where allllll the photographers were stationed!  I vaguely noticed one and hoped I looked ok, but as I saw more and the road kept with its slight incline and I really just wanted to blow my nose.. I stopped caring.  I ran on the outside edge hoping they just wouldn’t see me, haha!

Up the rest of the first hill, and a sharp down.  Pitching back to a sharp up.  Around the corner, and the long slog up various degrees of hilliness, through the neighborhoods of Kirkland.  A few people passed me, I let it happen.  I was running as hard as I could, trying desperately to elongate my stride, knowing I was not running very efficiently but just could not do it!  I kept expecting Kyle to pass me, but held him off up those hills.

Finally, down the neighborhood hills (how was the downhill only one block, when we had been running uphill for the last 0.8 mile?!), up a bit, then turned off into some other neighborhoods… but at least we were getting closer.  Things were spread out; after the first main hill, the lead pack pulled just ahead of me, and I pulled away from the following pack behind me… so I was running in relative solitude most of the way.  But, with flatter terrain now, I could hear feet approaching.  I knew that this would be where Kyle could run fast, faster than me.  I tried to kick it up, and give up as little time as possible ;)

Some turns.  A VERY STEEP downhill (again, what’s with the long slow uphill slog, followed by one block of super steep downhill??), with a very off-camber corner?!  Coupled with the rain, it had the potential to be very bad news, but I was pleasantly surprised at the traction on the race flats I was wearing—I think they were grippier than the hokas I wore last year, surprisingly!!

Another long stretch before hitting the main road, which would take us to the finish.  Counting down the seconds, because now breathing was seriously hard, I was slowing down, and I wasn’t sure how much longer I could take this!  Heard feet, and someone pass me.  Whew, not Kyle.  Heard feet again, and breathing, and—yes, no question about it, that was Kyle and he was RIGHT on top of me.  I’ve run with him enough to recognize his footsteps and breathing pattern.  But I didn’t want to turn, and kept trying to keep my pace up.  The wind picked up along this stretch by the water, OF COURSE it was a headwind, and the road tipped very, very slightly up again.  I ran hard, and heard Kyle’s footsteps grow quieter.

Rounded the last corner, and it was a downhill sweeping arch to the finish!

OPEN YOUR STRIDE, KELLEY!  I tried so hard to run as FAST as I could.  Quick feet, open hips…yeah, later video proved I failed miserably at that but so what, I MADE IT to the finish!!

I forgot to stop my garmin right away, so wasn’t really sure of my time.  Finished 7 seconds ahead of Kyle, and turns out I finished a whole 8 seconds faster than last year!  Hah!  But considering how awful I felt, it’s still a win.  I need to run a flatter 5k, preferably while healthy, to really know where I stand.

21:21 and I was 2nd female overall!  Super happy, and goes to show just how hilly and tough that course is, haha!

Anyway, wow, only I could write so much about a 5k.  As expected, I was pretty wiped afterwards.  Coupled with a fun visit to the zoo and a super fun birthday dinner, I was sick as a dog the next day and basically dead to the world!  Cut all my workouts, took a couple days off.. Started feeling better but had customer meetings etc all week so workouts have been light.  And food has been mostly of the “fancy catered food and eating out” variety.

Thankfully, I finally had a solid day yesterday (65 minutes of varying intervals on the treadmill..finished the last 3x0:30 at 5:27, 5:24 and 5:18…should have done them all faster!  Then an easy 90 minute spin on the bike) felt AMAZING!!!  Was feeling so BLEH that was seriously sooo good to hit the workout and feel good throughout!

Today is a tempo run and long bike; tomorrow is just a quick swim; and Sunday is another 10k race!!  EEK!  I thought it was flatter but just looked at the profile and, nope, some big hills.  This is gonna hurt, too.  But hey, as long as I’m not sick! ;)