Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Running Journal Month 6 (June 2008)

Week 26 (6/23-6/29)
*30th B-Day* (6/27)
Mileage to date: 663.1

So, after the Double Dipsea (see below), my right knee was very sore/injured so I didn't run during this week at all, but I did make it to Yosemite to hike up Half Dome on June 27th for my 30th birthday! Climbing up half dome was one of my New Year's resolutions, so I'm glad I actually made the time to go there and do it. I thought the hike up was gorgeous - lots of waterfalls and beautiful, majestic scenery everywhere you looked. When you arrive at the base of the rocky "half dome" at the top of the hike, looking up at the steep, precarious climb ahead is a bit intimidating if you're a little shaky with heights, but I just tried to stay positive about it and actually had a lot of fun going up. I really didn't think it was that hard or scary, but I think I can credit at least part of that with the strength of my runner's legs and confidence built up from running :) The views (and cell phone reception) were great on the top, and I managed to hear a happy birthday song from my oldest and dearest friend Christina right as I reached the summit. Going down was a bit scarier, mostly because there were large steps in the granite that were difficult for me to navigate going backwards and down along the cables (partly I think because it would help to be a bit taller due to the height of the cables), but I made decent time and just kept at it. The next day, I hiked up to Glacier Point, which was at about ~7100', worrying about not having enough water on such a hot day the whole way up, but as it turned out, the top was fully civilized (many people drive up) and I had an odwalla smoothie and two hagendaaz pomegranate dark chocolate ice cream bars - go figure! Overall, I had an amazing time. The next hiking goal: Whitney! I wonder when I'll be able to fit it in...

Week 25 (6/16-6/22)
Weekly mileage: 46.5
Mileage to date: 663.1

Wow was the Double Dipsea a tough race! Ironically, before the race started, I mentioned that I didn't think the heat would bother me as it never had before and there would be plenty of aid stations, but was I wrong! Going from Stinson Beach to Mill Valley, I felt okay, and ran it in about the same time as the single Dipsea (~1:20). I noticed the heat, but felt cheerful and ran through the hoses and sprinklers that the locals had set up along the course. Even on the way back to Stinson Beach, I felt okay until the Cardiac climb began, and it all went downhill (very uphill!) from there. Even though I drank at the aid stations and ate fruit and was eating sports beans, I started feeling chills and nausea and my legs just didn't seem to have any energy in them at all. I hiked all the way to the top, and I've never felt so desperate for an aid station before! I wasn't sure I'd be able to finish the race. I ate tons of watermelon and electrolyte drink there, and felt just good enough to continue the race and run (slowly) to the end. My time back was about 1:36, so overall I only slowed down by 16 minutes, but the pyschological and physical pain of it all was enough to make me very conscious of the heat factor in running, and to plan better next time! I'll have to think of this a bit for the Tampa races coming up, as I'm sure it'll be hot and humid in a way I'm totally not used to, but those are shorter, flatter races so hopefully it won't be too much of a problem.

Race Stats:
Double Dipsea (~14M); 2:57:43 (Actual time); 162/359 (place); 6th Age

Week 24 (6/9-6/15)
Mileage to date: 616.6

This week I focused on moving my runs back outside (instead of running the treadmill). Went to the Dish a couple of times with my new friend Sue. When I first started running, I always wanted to run by myself, but now I'm finding that having a companion is forcing me to get out there, and that's what I need right now, although I have to say that once I'm back in the swing of things, I'll still do many long runs by myself, which I also love.

I spent some time reflecting on my running evolution to date as I find that I've gone through a lot both physically and pyschologically over the past six months. I've encountered numerous minor but aggravating injuries along the way, but I've also become a lot stronger - I can easily say right now that I'm in the best shape I've ever been in during my entire life, and that's a pretty good place to be, despite some week to week fluctuation. Also, I've run races faster than I ever imagined would be possible when I began. Really! In the beginning, I thought that I would have a hard time ever beating a 9 min/mile pace! Right now, I know I could run one mile at a 6 something pace for sure, and my best pace time is about a 7:30 (for a 10k). This getting faster thing is totally unexpected for me because I remember my one season of cross country at age 14 and just concluding that I'm not that fast (I rememeber going in the 7s was difficult for me then, but I'm sure now I was just not developed yet). Must give credit here to doing an oodle of races, which has basically served as speedwork training that I otherwise probably would not have done. Going forward, however, I feel like I need to develop a plan. Maybe not this instant, but soon. There are a few things I should decide, such as: which races do I really care about doing during the next year - do I want to do more 5ks/10ks/12ks or focus more on the longer trail runs/ultras and marathons? Depending on these answers, I should adjust my weekly running accordingly, with a view to improving and also not getting hurt. So far, I've muscled through the "training" runs on the theory, do what I feel like, with some shorter days and some longer, race when I want to and do the races I want to - it's been fun, but very hodge-podge, and probably creates a higher risk of injury. If my answer is that I want to do it all (shorter and longer) the way I have been mixing it up, then I need to think carefully about how to structure my week so that I don't fall into the trap of losing endurance or being so fatigued from the weekends that the first half of my week gets blown. I think Ive made it through phase one and I'm about to start the next phase of running - the second phase is a balancing act of careful planning and strategy, but also the ability to continue to have fun with it, preserve the passion, so to speak. Positive thinking is key right now.

Week 23 (6/2-6/8)
Mileage to date: 601.6

This week I fought off a cold, battled a strained hip flexor and tried to ignore a strange foot pain, and ended up running the 98th Annual Dipsea Race on Sunday as planned. The Dipsea is the second oldest race in the country after the Boston Marathon and is a very unique race. Each year, about 1500 runners participate, half of which are part of the "invitational" group and half of which are regular "runners." To qualify for the invitational group, which means you have an automatic entry in the race, you have to finish in the first 750 to cross the finish line. If you are a runner, you have to go through a competitive application process likely involving some bribes (there is a line on the app for this purpose). Making the first 750 may not sound that hard, but this is a handicapped race, which means that old ladies start first and fast young guys last, with a big time spread in between (the first group left at 8:31 a.m. and the last at 9:22). Also, the invitational group starts first (with all invitational handicap sections) and then the runners section (with all of its groups) next. This meant, as a 29 year old female, I was in the last group of women to start, with men age 11-55 following in small groups after, but with only an 8 minute spread between my group and the fast guys age 19-30. This also meant that, and I don't yet know exact numbers, but in order to make the invitationals, I would have to pass probably 4-500 people or something. Needless to say, I didn't make it in, but only by a mere 7 places!!! Ahhh! I almost wish I were place 800 so I would know I wasn't close. My conclusion is that I can make it in next year, which is the 99th Dipsea, and then I'll be in for sure in the centennial race, which would be pretty cool.

Race Stats:
Dipsea - 1:20:47; finish line place: 757; time place 651; Runners group place: 127