Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer Fun?

Living in the midwest, people constantly ask me, "How do you run in this HEAT?" or "How do you run in the cold like that?" The cold, to me, is actually a lot easier to deal with. It's very easy to add clothes, a balaclava, hat, Yak Trax, etc, but to take clothes away? Not so much.

When this is the weekly forecast, what do you do when you have a training schedule to try to work in (around kids, work, social things, etc) Run early? Run late? This morning it was 86 with a heat index of 94... If you've been running for a long time, I'm sure you already have some tricks & times of the day that work for you, but here are some things that work for me.

After I do my cool down, I always lay on the porch & elevate my legs. This is a trick my husband taught me (he coaches boys track & XC) & it helps to get the lactic acid moving. It doesn't help with the heat, but will you look at that nasty sweaty imprint?! Not surprisingly, my back sweat made the shape of a heart :)

Anyway, I never run in the middle of the day when the temps are this hot. It's just not smart. Forget about all those superhumans who run Badwater, they do all kinds of heat training & who knows what else to get ready for that. One thing we can learn from them is to wear white, technical clothing. It reflects the sun's rays & really does help. I always wear a white running hat & I swear it works. It also keeps the sweat from running in to my eyes since I have no dry fabric on my body to wipe them with. If I'm starting a run, & it's already 90 degrees, I will speed the process of my clothes getting wet from my sweat, thus cooling my body, & I will get my clothes, hair, & hat wet in tap water prior to running. Sometimes I drink ice cold water, or eat a popsicle, in attempts to bring my core temp down, at least 30 mins prior to running. I generally don't take water with me on training runs, I just got to places that have drinking fountains for long runs, & for runs shorter than 6 miles I don't drink any water, but when it's hot I always carry water. It's good to dump some under the hat too.

I read somewhere that one ounce of water takes 15 minutes for the body to absorb, so think about that & don't overdo it with the water. Avoid getting sloshed by taking some electrolyte tabs or salt with the water, or drinking a gaterade/water mix. I use Endurolyte caps from Hammer Nutrition since I tend to get a stomach ache if I drink gaterade/powerade type drinks.

Listen, I know that most all of us have body image issues (myself included) but I have finally gotten over that & have discovered the joy of shirtless running. Generally, I only run shirtless when I run alone, but this was a 92 degree day & we had a track workout. I needed all the help I could get. I would highly recommend it if you haven't tried it. I certainly don't look like the people in Runner's World, etc, & I don't care. You can all glare at my imperfect midsection, & I will no doubt benefit from the effects of nice cool air swirling around my body. Who. Cares.

When all else fails, we must resort to the treadmill. I know there are different schools of thought here, but I really feel like treadmill running is not realistic. I'm no expert, that's for sure, but that belt assists your leg during the pushoff phase of the gait cycle & there is nothing we can do about it. It feels better to me to have an incline, but my experience has been that it does not prepare my body for running on the roads/trails. Nothing can replace running on solid ground, for me. (If you are a treadmill runner, then, by all means, carry on!! Just my opinion).

With a heat index of 113 yesterday, I ran on the indoor track at my gym last night, & it wasn't half-bad, though I don't want to make a habit of it. While closer to the real thing, it offers nothing but a pancake-flat surface. I did some strengthening exercises afterwards to make up for the lack of terrain.

Run early, run late, split your long runs up into 2, managable runs so you don't get over-heated, cross-train indoors when you normally would have a shorter, easier run. Get 'er done & stay cool!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mildly Amusing Mile

I haven't exactly stuck to that lovely schedule I had all laid out for myself this year. It's kind of bugging me, since if I say I'm doing something it's as good as done, but I am still going to leave it up over there. I'm not sure why, but I am leaving it up nonetheless. Neither the Innsbrook nor the New Town Triathlons were raced, BUT I did run the Komen for the Cure 5K in June, & the Macklind Mile on Monday, July 4th. Both were pretty darn good by my standards & I had a great time at both!

I don't have any photos of me running the Komen race, but I ran it with my husband & we each had this sign on our backs (this was after, so it's a lit.tle bit sweaty). My dad's mom died of  breast cancer several years ago, my mom is currently undergoing treatment for it, & our dear friend (& next-door grandma) Shirley is a breast cancer survivor. Although I prefer smaller, neighborhood 5K's, this was an important one, & we were happy to go down & be part of it. It was a very HOT morning, & with this hilly course I was happy with my finishing time of 22:31. I'll take it. Meanwhile, I have been doing speed work with Fleet Feet to try to get faster at the 5K. Time will tell...

Not sure if it was the speed work, or just the fact that I had run this race last year, but I did manage to run the Macklind Mile 14 seconds faster this year with a time of 5 minutes 53.8 seconds!! Sub 6!! Nice... If you look closely, you can see my award for 2nd in my age group (the girl who was first in my age group also won the race in 5:04!), which is a little wire sculpture of a runner girl. Pretty cute :) Since it was on the 4th of July, we brought the whole family. My oldest daughter doesn't like running, but is quite a fine photographer (some of her work was chosen for the district-wide art fair at her school) & she took the photos for the day & had a great time. My 2 younger kids ran the Kid's Quarter, & my husband & I each carried a suicide pace for a solid mile.

"You see, the actual thing itself is so competitive and serious, I don't think anybody really has a good time right while they are competing. Oh, they like it all right, they like going to the meets, and they like being on a team and the general hullaballoo of being a jock. But when you get right down to it, right while you're doing the thing itself, it ain't much fun. I can't remember a mile in my life that was even mildly amusing."
-Once A Runner, by John Parker


I have to say this is the coolest thing I've gotten from a race in a while. It is totally on the back of my car, under the 26.2 sticker. :) I used to think that even a 5K was a waste of a beautiful morning... you know, all that getting ready & getting up early to just go & run 3 miles. If you haven't raced a timed mile I'm telling you it's the best! This year I feel like I did it almost all-out, which isn't as easy as it sounds. When things start hurting, you just have to keep pushing & that's not easy for a headcase like me :)

(I'm up there in the white hat & pink shoelaces)

The race went in waves, so they had friends & family go first (it's a point-to-point race, so the people have to get to the finish somehow), then the men, the women, elite men, elite women, & finally the kids. I lined up about 3 rows back, & I finished 20th overall so that was about right. The first quarter was a breeze & it felt pretty good to be hanging with a big pack of girls. We worked together to get the first 800 meters out of the way, & this is when I kept it steady when I should have pushed a little bit more. That's the only mistake I made, looking back. That's when I started feeling the burning in my lungs & I knew I was at my max. After I finished, I realized that I could have pushed it a little harder there, but we will try again next year! Anyway, I came to the "one lap to go" bell, & that's when the adrenaline took over & I just gave it all I had. I kind of yo-yo'd back & forth with a couple of girls, & it got sort of scrappy there at the end. So fun! My lungs were really burning & I could taste iron in my mouth. I can honestly say that I've never run that hard in my life, & it felt good!

One really smart decision I made was to go without a watch. Not even the Timex. Last year I wore the Garmin & spent the whole time staring down at the thing trying to "pace". Ummmmmm... it's a mile. You just go like hell. That. Is. All. Once I ran an all-out mile on the track, just after a speed work session, in 5:42. All by myself, & we all know that it doesn't count. I keep thinking of that time, like it's my ideal. But I wonder what would happen if I really trained for a mile... I really think I can do better. It reminds me of the book Once A Runner, that I quoted up top. Quentin Cassidy, the miler, ran a super-fast mile on the track while his coach timed him (it didn't count either). He had a lot of roadblocks, & after his coach had him run a ridiculously long track workout (with no watch!) he ran the mile even faster than his so-called "ideal" time when the race finally came.

Do I think I'm going to win a prize for running a (let's face it) mediocre mile? No... I just really like it. I have come to get some satisfaction out of the 5K & Mile distances. It's nice to see how far you can really push yourself... when you don't have to go too far :)

Next year I want to train specifically for the mile & see what my results are. This is a great "little" neighborhood race, with over 1000 participants, cool awards, a fun atmosphere, & a good elite field with runners coming from out of state. It's really fun to watch them come flying down Macklind Ave, & the winner among the men ran it in 4:05! While there is a slight incline on the course, it's mostly a downhill mile with 180 feet in elevation loss from start to finish. I hope to really have a fast mile next year!

It started to rain just before the kid's wave, & my kids were real troopers! Yep, my son is wearing Chuck's, & my daughter has on a Super Girl cape. :) This was the kickoff to my husband's marathon training, so I'd say he started it off with a bang. :)

This about sums up our day :)
Hope you are all having daily adventures as well.