Sunday, April 18, 2010

St. Cloud Earth Day 20

Saturday April 17th was the Earth Day Run in St. Cloud, MN. It was a somewhat unique event in that they ran both a half marathon and new this year, a 20 mile run. I had great company at this race with Daily Mile friends Jenn B., Megan N., and Jenessa. Each of them ran well, both Jenn and Jenessa obtained half marathon PR's and Megan ran a very solid 20 miles. They are a great bunch, if you are on Daily Mile and you don't follow them already, you should, I expect each of them to have some great race results this year.

Obviously running is a physical sport, but I would say it is equally and many times more so a mental sport. Preparation, attitude, and determination are major factors in the result of any distance run. It is easy to be intimidated by a race or a long run. But if you have trained properly, and have the right mindset your results will generally be positive. I found a great quote on Twitter from EnMotivate : If you truly expect something to be difficult, it will be. ~ Pete Cohen.  I went into this run with expectations of having fun, maintaining a responsible pace,and working on fine tuning my fuel plan for Fargo.  

The Fun Part
An amazing thing happened on this day. I woke up in a great mood (not that amazing), and I was really looking forward to this run. I have been training hard through some really crappy weather and was looking forward to see how things would shake out. I have started to develop a new attitude towards running this year and it is all about enjoying the runs. I don't know that I have too many more PR's left in me and frankly I am not too worried about it. It is all to easy to obsess about training and racing, but my eyes have been opened to the joy of running. Throughout this race I made it a point to thank as many volunteers as possible and talk to and encourage other runners along the way. I hope I made some people feel a little better about there run, even if for only a few moments. I was running well and felt good most of the way, so why not try to spread a little love?

Maintaining Pace
Yep, I am very much a typical runner, I go out too fast at the start, and have nothing left at the end. I proved it in my first marathon and I still do it much too often in my training runs. This time it was different, but I did have a little help. My goal was to finish with a 9:00 - 9:30 pace without wiping myself out in the end. Luckily there were pacers at this race, so I found the 9:33 pacer and stuck with him. My plan was to run faster the last part of the race if I felt well enough to do so. 9:33 seemed a little too easy the first few miles, but I stuck to the plan like a champ, for the most part. I did pass the pacer and pick things up at miles 6 - 10 knowing that I was going to have to make a bathroom stop. When I stepped out of the port a potty I had to pick my speed back up to catch back up to the pacer which I finally did somewhere close to mile 12. I kept a pretty steady pace through the next 4 miles and then started to push the it a little at mile 16, simply because I felt like I could. I feel good that I was able to finish strong and run my last two miles at close to 8 minute pace, my pacing plan worked well!

The Fuel Plan
This is where I have the most anxiety about my long runs and the marathon. Mostly because I did such a poor job of it during my first marathon that I really don't want to make the same mistake twice. I have asked questions on Daily Mile and done a little experimenting on my own. I have not come to a complete resolution yet but here is what I have so far.

  1. 5-hour Energy - yeah, don't freak out. I am typically not a big believer in these things and I am not sure how much it has actually helped. But, the two times that I have tried it, I had solid results. I will give credit where credit is due, I borrowed this idea from Rob-The-Runner on Daily Mile.
  2. Hammer Gels - I have tried Honey Stingers and Hammer Gels on my long runs. I like the flavors and the ease of consuming the Hammer Gels. I use the non-caffeinated gels simply because I don't feel like I need any more caffeine than what is in the energy shot. I consumed one gel for every four miles. This seemed to work out well, but I may try every 30 minutes on my next long run.
  3. Water - I still have some work to do in this area but I drank from every water stop and walked through most of them to drink. I was still a little dehydrated at the end of the run but it was much better than my first marathon experience.
Here are some pictures of me and the great DM runners that I mentioned earlier

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Finding hills in Eastern South Dakota

Living in the eastern part of South Dakota limits the opportunity to run many hills. They really are far and few, especially if you are looking for trail running. Most people don't go looking for hills, in fact they avoid and despise them. I am not sure that I actually enjoy running up a hill, but the challenge and the feeling of accomplishment is like a drug. I get an incredible high after ripping my lungs out on a challenging hill run.(sounds fun right?)

Running up a steep hill on pavement is one thing, but blasting up a single track trail is much more fun. Here are some of my favorite hills.

Big Sioux State Park
Elevation profile (hmmm... should I say this park is the tits!?)

View from the bottom of one of the hills. Doesn't seem like much.

But from the top, it's a little more daunting.

Beaver Creek Park
Elevation Profile

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Beaver Creek- Spring Run

I was looking for a little variety this week, so I conned Jeff P. into running the trails of Beaver Creek with me today. I knew it would be muddy, but to add to the excitement it rained for most of our 5.35 miles too. It was just a nice casually paced run with lots of hills and mud. Here are a few pictures that I took along the way.
For me, this is the cream of the crop, this is what makes it all worthwhile, being able to find places like this to run.

Here is the Garmin upload of our run. It's not a very long trail so we had to make several loops to complete 5 miles.

Friday, April 2, 2010

March-ing on...

March has been a roller coaster of a month for my running.  I jumped into the first week with a 40 mile week and discovered once again that I am not invincible. I have been adding some core work to my routine for a few months now but I was not incorporating enough "easy" days into my running routine. The lack of easy days seemed to lead to some nasty knee pain that kept me from running for 11 days. I did go to a physical therapist and she told me that the pain was from weak glutes. So I kept myself busy by going to Power Pump classes and spin classes and did some extra stationary biking on my own to try and keep my fitness in line. I was finally able to run again on March 21st. For you non-runners, when you cannot run due to an injury you truly appreciate being able to run when you can. For awhile it seemed like everyone but me could run and was doing so. It was a little disheartening for the duration but I am past that now. 
As I write this, it is now less than 50 days until my next marathon which is in Fargo, ND. My goals for this marathon are to run it without hitting the wall, and finish faster than I did in the Twin Cities. I learned a lot from my first marathon and will go back and review my posting of that run as a refresher. I felt that my two largest mistakes were that I did not fuel enough or properly during the race and I definitely ran too fast starting out. After 17 strong miles the wheels fell off and it was a struggle for me to finish, mile 17 is also where the hills started. Most of my splits up to that point were well under 9 minute miles which is not crazy out of my league, in fact I felt great until around miles 16-17. This picture reminds me of how I felt immediately after the marathon.

I have had some beautiful runs through the winter and I am now enjoying the awesome spring weather. My next race will be in St. Cloud, MN on Saturday April 17th, which will actually just be a 20 mile training run for me with some friends. Hopefully all will go well and I will stay healthy and continue to enjoy my runs!