Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Training, Racing, and Knees

Whoa....words spewing out on the computer from my finger tips - that can only mean one thing: being coached hasn't killed me.  Yet.

Nor have I been fired.  Yet.

I'm off work today and thought it'd be a great opportunity to catch up on all things blog. Never mind that my Christmas tree has been standing tall in my family room naked for two weeks; crap spewed all over my entire downstairs from one twin's Blue Knight's weekend workshop and the other twin's ski trip (envision a bomb explosion of 100 articles of nasty, smelly teenage boys' clothing - ick); nor that I have 15 family members arriving in a few days for Christmas dinner and have no earthly idea what we're eating.  For the one family member who reads my blog, toast and cereal is okay for Christmas dinner, right? Priorities, priorities.

I'm now a couple months into this slow Maffetone training with the coach and you're probably excited yawning and want to know how it's going.  So in typical Jill-esque style, let me ramble on incessantly....

Actually, the coach thing has been going well.  I've tried to contain my questions to a maximum of 200/week but I'm sure I get a lot of behind the screen eye rolls with some of the things I ask :) I know he doesn't have a limit of questions or emails I can send (NOT a fan of coaches who do!), but I can type a meaty paragraph - or 5 - if need be you're shocked, I know! My goal is to grow and expand my knowledge so I know what makes my aging body tick to run well again and if I have to be annoying to do so, then annoying it is.  I'm learning a lot, but I know this isn't particularly easy - on either end.

For such a complete obsessive compulsive data freak who loves graphs and charts and all data pertaining to pace and mileage and anything that has a number associated with progression, it's taking a crap load of willpower to not do anything other than look at my heart rate (HR) and give the coach my PE (perceived exertion) each week.  My data, or lack thereof, is based nowadays on HR, run time, and PE.  I don't know if I'm getting faster, I haven't done any testing to tell nor any work to warrant any speed, but I'm building my endurance and I am starting to get excited about this running thing again.  I can't believe I'm even typing this, but I actually like the MAF training more than I thought, especially since I'm no longer briskly walking to sustain my low HR.  Shhh, don't tell the coach I said that!  Apparently, over time, you get faster at the same HR without even doing any speed work (that will be for later), so I am enjoying just putting in the mileage and not obsessing over my watch - right now that matters most.  I had a fantastic 1/2 marathon a few weeks ago (more below) and the coach thought it was a big stepping block for me, so I'm going to take that as a big positive and keep chipping away with this thing.

I know this may be hard to believe, but I've run 3 races since Chicago a bit over 2 months ago.
Okay, 4 if you count the XL's virtual Jingle Bell from Hell - and hell it was!

First: I ran a 5k in frigid temps in late October with some teammates from the race team I run for (I'm not racing for them next year...more on that in the next post - which I promise will be before April).  Note I have a yellow bib indicating I'm a wuss and only ran the 5k whereas my rockstar teammates all ran the 10k.  The race was miraculously not a PW for the year, but it was pretty damn close.  But more important than a suck-ass finish time, I ran each mile consistently instead of increasing each mile by about 2 minutes, per usual 5k Jill tactics.  Major score there!  And, I somehow managed to place first in my age group gotta love small races!

Second:  I ran another 5k on Thanksgiving.  As a girl who loathes 5ks, I sure seem to have done my share of them this year - for some illogical reasons.  But it just wouldn't seem right not to race a little local turkey trot on Thanksgiving with my favorite running guy, Ryan.  Well, I don't really run "with" him as he's a good 500 yds ahead of me before I even get to the start line - whatever!  But I enjoy every microsecond I get to spend with this kid doing the one thing we both love so much.  And who doesn't need to burn a few hundred calories before inhaling half a pumpkin pie later? This 5k was a tad faster than the one above, which admittedly made me happy, but what I loved most about it was that again, my miles were consistently paced and at the end, when I really wanted to slow down and start crawling you know, like I did every other race all year, I didn't and pushed the last mile hard and finished pretty damn strong.
If anyone happened to have stolen borrowed my favorite blue jacket pictured above,please return asap.
Just leave on my doorstep, no questions asked!
Third: This RR will be lengthy 'cuz I have so much to share -- you've been warned!  Two weekends ago, Ryan and I ran our annual Rock Canyon Trail Half Marathon together again, not together, but you get the drift by now.  "Annual" meaning it is now our 2nd year :).  For the 3 people who still read this boring as hell blog from last year, you may remember this race being a wee-bit on the chilly side (aka: freaking blizzard!).  Here's a few reminders of the glorious conditions in case you forgot (or in the off-chance I have a new reader!):

Road condition from Denver to Pueblo - Driving 2 and a half hours in this
made me truly question my sanity!  But the sanity's questioned pretty much daily!
Race start.  Loving that vertically blown flag.  Nothing like 30 mph
winds to go with 15 degree temps and snow and ice to make race day exciting!
Official race pic of me ice skating.....and cursing
the fact I just cut my bangs.
Fast forward one year....
Road conditions.  Drive time this year 1 hour 20 minutes, including a potty break!
Race Start: all the royal blue shirts are Air Force Academy
track runners.  I'm pretty sure they soaked up the top
30 places!  Note: no one in tights this year!
Official race pic.  Like the painted red smile?  :)
So the coachy guy probably wasn't all too thrilled I was running this race, evident by the fact I was told I had to run the thing at my MAF training heart rate plus a few beats (basically, below 150) for the first 7 miles.  After that, it was game-on and I was free to do whatever the legs had in them provided I kept my HR below 170.  Hahah...okay.  I hadn't run more than 10 miles training, and those were all in the 135-145 HR range, so I had little confidence I could finish this thing running, let alone pick up the pace at mile 7.  But whatevs.  I wasn't here to race, I was here to learn!  So, I tried to keep the HR below 150 for the first 7, and I'm not going to lie and say it was easy to hold back.  Because it wasn't.  At all.  But I did .... and all I can say is that the coach may actually been right on this one :) because these first-miles-slower-than-snot plan actually saved my race!!

I absolutely love this race when it's not run in Arctic temps with blowing horizontal snow; it's mostly run on trails along the Arkansas River on one side and beautiful sandstone cliffs on the other.

Then through a wooded area on single track....

 Then by the dam and reservoir....

You have lots of time to stop and take pictures when your HR needs
to stay in a super low place
Once we circle the reservoir, we head back to the trails we started on to the finish.  My HR was starting to rise to the mid to high 150s opps but I think this was in part due to the headwind I was slightly fighting and not my pace, per se, though really it doesn't matter - extended elevated HR is what kills your race eventually.  I waited until mile 8 to attack the race instead of mile 7 as the coach said, simply because I thought 5 miles of an increased HR was much more manageable than 6.

At mile 8, I stuck my camera/phone in my shorts and off I went.  I quickly saw my HR raising into the mid 160s and I was pretty sure I was going to crash in a couple miles.  But I didn't really care.   My pace was in the mid 8s, and though once upon a time 8s would have been in the pathetic range, I hadn't seen 8s on my watch in what feels like a decade so I was thrilled Oh how far I have declined :(.  BUT, I felt absolutely incredible and I suddenly was overcome with that really warm feeling of just how much I LOVE to run - and race!  It's been a very long time since I've felt that runner's high I used to get so this was pretty damn exciting.  At one point, an elderly guy told me I looked fantastic when I passed him and asked if he could run with me.  He lasted a mile until he fell back :).  I kept my increased pace up and honest to God, I must have passed about 30-40 people - and not one single person passed me.  It didn't  matter what my finish time was at this point, I just felt so amazing to have so much strength left in me; I was entering a place in my head - and my legs - that I haven't felt in ages and THIS is what I have missed so much this year racing!  At mile 12, I started to fatigue slightly; my HR was hovering around 172, a bit above where I was told not to go, but I wasn't going to slow down for this last mile to get it down below 170 - no way.  There is a giant hill in the last quarter mile and I simply walked up it because I knew I'd have more strength to finish stronger than if I ran it...and the couple people that passed me on the hill, well, I just re-passed them once we got to the top and picked off a few others along with them.  I sprinted to the end and I can't even express how utterly emotionally happy I was to finish this race feeling so incredibly strong.  Man it's been a really long time since I could say that.

My overall time wasn't anything impressive, but the fact I executed this race exactly well, almost :) as planned, and came out on the positive side, is way more important right now to me than anything a clock can say.  When I told the coach about my incredible day, I think the man of few words was actually pretty pleased, and this meant a lot to me :).  Definitely dusted off a couple of cobwebs from the thousands covering the confidence section of my brain.

Now on to the Forth, in case you haven't fallen asleep yet: XL from Taking It On, hosted her annual Jingle Bell From Hell virtual race.  Now, I'm not one to usually participate in virtual races - I have enough I've paid for or my team paid for :) right here in my own backyard which have been pretty much hell all year - no need to add any more.   But I like XL; she's funny and there were prizes at stake here - who doesn't want to win some long lost Hostess donuts?  So I was in!  I figured a little 5k in my neighborhood in my slowacious MAF zone is pretty much hell enough so winning this thing would be easy peasy.  But oh no, I can up the hellacious ante a notch by producing a bloody nose at mile 1.5, full of blood clumps and endless dripping Thank you Colorado's incredibly dry winter!  I tried to get it to stop by holding my nose.....I even tried to run some 20" strides, but blood was draining down my throat making me pretty nauseous...and running strides without the use of both arms pumping is a little ineffective, so I ended my 5k at 2.12 miles and figured I have the hell part in the bag.  I hope I won!

Knee and lower leg:
What kind of year would it be without ending with a little, um, problem.  You know, because the torn foot ligaments which hindered me for 3 months and actually still bothers me on some days wouldn't be quite enough.  Monday I went for a "long" run 12 miles in a god-forsaken wind tunnel.  Mid-way, I feel this twinge running down the outside of my lower leg and then my knee becoming really stiff.  Now, I've had problems with this stiff knee in the past; most recently after Chicago when the thing swelled up to the size of a grapefruit.  This time, there is no swelling but it's so incredibly stiff and I can barely bend the thing.  I had planned to go to see my old bud today, Mr. PT-man, but Mother Nature had other plans and decided Denver finally needed some much needed moisture smack in the middle of morning rush hour traffic.  After producing a mile in 35 minutes and no way I was going to make it on time, PT was going to have to wait and thus I still don't have an answer to what's aggravating my outer knee and leg.  I know the stiffness will be gone in a couple days and I can resume running, but I'd really like to know what this thing is. I'm a girl who needs answers!

Well, my tree is calling and there's processed carbohydrates and refined sugar to be baked so it's time for the endless chatter to cease.  Considering it takes me about 3 weeks to write a blog post these days, I'm certain there won't be another post up before Christmas You're welcome! so while I could go on and on (I do plan to do an year-end wrap up post though... 25 races this year needs some sort of formal closure, I know you can't wait), I'll simply close by wishing everyone who has ever touched my life via this blog a very happy holiday.  You mean a lot!  I am truly blessed!!!

With much holiday love,


Anonymous said...

I remember that race report from last year. What a difference a change in the weather can be!

Teamarcia said...

I still do love that pic of you slogging in your hot pink jacket though.
Girl this was a GOOD year for you! Even better because T&L had 3, count em THREE adventures! Love the holiday pic of those gorgeous kiddos. xoxo

RunToTheFinish said...

Who stole your jacket, that's just rude!

I was reading and saw dam, had to reread to realize you weren't cussing about the race. :)

I'm glad you are enjoying MAF and it sounds like seeing some pretty significant progress with this. I have considered it many times, but I'm kind of digging my current plan so we shall see.

I hope you can continue to run more 5K's that you hate now that you are enjoying running again ;) hehe

Char said...

Happy Christmas Jill. I hope you manage to get that tree decorated and a little food ready for the rellies - whether it's toast and cereal or somethine fancier.

Tricia said...

What a fantastic half marathon -- what a nice way to end the year.

Happy Holiday's to you --

XLMIC said...

Blood and guts! Hot damn :)

Of course I must search for and send genuine Hostess products ;-) ...or a similar substitute in the event that such items have gone extinct.

Suz and Allan said...

You've been busy Jill! I think you take the cake with the blood. That sounds awful.

Hope your knee feels better soon. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

bobbi said...

I smiled so BIG reading that

bobbi said...

Stupid phone! Anyway the whole thing made me smile :)

Merry merry Christmas!

Jenn said...

Oh Jill-It's when I read some of your posts that I miss blogging-ha! You crack me up. Laughed out loud at the bangs picture of you iceskating. Not in how you looked as much as how you referenced it-ha! Actually, now that I look again, I lied. I'm actually laughing at how you looked-hilarious. It's a great race pic:):) And also laughing at the brisk walking to sustain your low HR-ha!

Kudos on the HR training. I did some of this for the first time last year. I found it such a nice change. To stop obsessing over pace for awhile and I made some great progress! I'm so happy for that HM for you!!! I can totally relate to that feeling you had finishing that feeling strong again!! Hope you get some answers with that knee!

Love the Christmas card. Have a wonderful Christmas with your beautiful kids in your disaster of a house. My, that sounds familiar. XO

ajh said...

25 races this year! Wow! That half looks like a good race esp. with your son! Post a pic of your decorated tree.

Velma said...

Merry Christmas!

Anne said...

She's alive! You certainly have stayed busy and I hope the nose bleed was an isolated incident. Beautiful holiday card -- such a handsome family, you have.

Kandi said...

Merry Christmas, Jill! Hearing about your awesome half marathon makes me smile. :) Hope you get your leg/knee issue straightened out!

CautiouslyAudacious said...

Sounds like the coaching is working out! Can't wait to hear the results of training based soley on your HR. I love numbers to but I usually keep track of my HR just to know how many calories I've burned and then can eat :-) BTW I LOVE LOVE LOVE your pic on the Title of your blog!!! Happy Holidays!!

Molly said...

I can't wait to run races with my kids! 25 races this year is A-mazing, I think you're showing that foot of yours who the boss really is : ) Merry Christmas Jilly Jill, may 2013 be all that you wish for and more! xo

Jenny said...

I'm so glad you had such an amazing race and what a difference from last year!! :) CO is so pretty. That looks like a phenomenal course. I'm so proud of how well you're doing with training and am SO happy that your love for running is back. :)
Can't wait to see what 2013 brings and what adventures we can get into together! xo

Ransick said...

So many great things in this post! Good training, great race starting slow and finishing strong, racing with one of your children, etc. oh, 25 races to boot. Merry Christmas Jill!

Tasha Malcolm said...

Yay- you are back on the blog. I missed you!!!

I remember your race report from that 1/2 marathon last year. Glad that the weather wasn't as awful this year.

I hope that now that you have written your post you can decorate your tree. Christmas is going to be here so soon!

Merry Christmas!

Raina said...

No more blood pictures OK?

Reading through this, I can tell you are rekindling your love for running. Isn't it fantastic to feel SO good and to follow a plan? Really impressed with the outcome here, and how you have been willing to let someone else take the reins. Did you run the 5k at MAF too? I can't tell if your coach asked you too.

So, I get to look forward to hundreds of sweaty things all over the house in a few years? That's it. I am getting them their own washer and drier!!

Loved reading today! Your enthusiasm is contagious, Jill.

C2Iowa said...

Happy Holidays from frozen Iowa.

Lets hope that your jacket is put to good use --- some people!

Good read - thanks for the positive viewpoints.

Matthew Smith said...

Hey Jill! Nice to read a post from ya! :) You've been cranking out the races in the last little bit. Nice work! I'm REALLY glad that half mary wasn't as bad as last year. I totally remember how bad that sucked for you. Oh, and great execution, by the way! I'm glad the coaching thing is working out for you. Before long, you'll have Ryan coaching you. That guy looks like he's fast!

Have a very Merry Christmas!

HappyTrails said...

You know how happy we are that things are coming around for you!!! Keep on keeping on! Have a merry Christmas! Sending a big hug to you! :-)

GZ said...

MAF? PE? watching HR? Ah, okay. Now I know who your coach is.

Glenn Jones said...

Happy holidays Jill! May the New Year treat you well.

Christie said...

I feel like I have not heard from you in forever lady!

Training with HR does take so much patience and can definitely be frustrating at times. Glad it is allowing you to not obsess over the good ol' watch! :) I have found that it really forces me to take the easy days actually easy.

That trail half recap was fun to read. You are funny! lol Great way to finish off the year too right... That emotion finishing a race that you described is one of the things I live for. Love that.

As always love all the photos especially your new profile one :)

Black Knight said...

Merry Christmas and happy new year to you and family.

Robin said...

Merry Christmas and all the best for 2013!

funderson said...

ooo...I wanna come run this race. Looks fun!

funderson said...

OH! and Happy Christmas again...your Christmas card rules!

Paul said...

Hi Jill,
Glad you are doing well...let hear it for not racing in blizzards!?!

I like MAF training for base training...but of course you knew that ;)

Hope you and yours have a great 2013!


Terzah said...

Merry Christmas, Jill! I am a week late reading this post due to our, um, unexpected driving trip to Missouri....but DUDE you sound so good. (I am not sure, by the way, that that version of Rock Canyon was really the same one as last year. I don't recognize any of those photos without the haze of sleet and freezing rain.) I totally get it on the slow MAF paces, but they really do work, and they work much faster than you expect from something that feels so glacially slow.

Looking forward to your recap, which I know will be funny and well-written! And I hope to see you EARLY in 2013.

Anne said...

Glad to read that the good definitely outweighs the bad and that life is being good to you :) Happy Holidays to you and your family Jill!!!!

Lindsay said...

it's definitely safe to say you've gotten faster on MAF if you can run and not walk to maintain the low HR! i like that training in theory but have yet to be able to keep myself "running slow" for a long enough period of time to make it beneficial. it is nice some days to say "oh, must slow down, heart rate too high" but after awhile i get antsy.

that race is way different! i don't know that i would have enjoyed the course in the blizzard... nice job on sticking to the plan (and i'm glad you had a great race resulting from it - hopefully motivating you to stick to it)!

merry belated christmas!

Cindy Ketner said...

Your description of how you felt during the half marathon brought a tear to my eye...I think you expressed beautifully something I have felt;something that keeps me running;esp. down lonely country roads. I miss you former neighbor! Keep writing and run on! Cindy

Anonymous said...

Oops, "...his training..." as in "Lucho's training!"