Fast Friday

I know, I know – I disappeared again. But I’m happy to report that after 2+ months of zero training, some occasional racing (for fun), and even an age group award, I’m back in training?

So what have I been up to? Well, the holidays saw a major slump in mileage – surprise. Although I’m not sure I can qualify it as a “slump” given how much my mileage had tanked. But I was clocking “fun runs” when I could (no pressure for speed, just run what felt good) and cross-training up a storm. My left IT band was pretty dicey for a bit, actually. It was feeling tight down toward my knee, and the pain ended up even creeping down to the outside of my shin (not a shin split – it was more lateral than anterior). During a group run with NF (the artist formerly known as Nerdy Boyfriend, aka NB), the muscle seized on a small uphill, and despite trying to stretch it out, we had to turn back early. It sucked cause it was cold out, but what are you gonna do? I managed to job in the three-quarters of a mile, going slow and taking tiny steps with high turnover (which I suppose is good practice anyway). It had tightened during a trail run several days before – it may have been the uneven terrain I was running on, given the plethora of snow.

Either way, I’ve amped up my strength training: I’m trying to be as diligent as possible about foam rolling and stretching, doing my pilates sidelying series, and doing a lot of lower body strength work, particularly squats (regular squats, single-leg squats, split squats, and eventually jump squats), as well as lunges, calf raises, and leg extensions. Just trying to keep everything in working order, and prepare my body for hill training.

Since my last post, I raced twice. On New Year’s Day, NF and I were in Athens, GA ringing in the new year with his family, and we raced a local 5K – in the chilly rain. I wasn’t sure at all how I’d perform, and went in with low expectations, hoping to have fun. It was a great little course: it looped a local park, only backtracking on itself a little bit, and and one semi-cruel out and back portion. Per usual, I bolted out of the gate in the teeny tiny field of no more than 100 or so (maybe 200, max). I paced off another girl who looked to be my age, but wondered if I’d be able to hang on. We traded spots back and forth quite a bit, her pulling even or ahead on downhills and flats, and me pulling ahead on uphills (!!). Just after the one mile mark, my right shoelace came untied. I cursed, carefully moved to the side, and retied the shoe (triple knotted), wasting precious seconds to secure the other laces as well. No way was that happening again. I maybe lost 15-20 seconds on this, given my fingers were cold and wet from the rain.

I spent the rest of mile 2 playing catch up on rolling hills. I was behind my pacer, but I slowly but surely caught up, overtaking her on a hill. By mile 3, I had dropped her, and on the out-and-back portion, NF and I high fived as he passed me coming back in to the finish. I cranked my finishing songs and kept on pushing through the hurt. As  my watched beeped 3 miles, I came careening down a down slope and around a curve to the finish, sprinting with all my might, and finishing in 23:19, a PR (previous was 23:42 back in September 2011, on a much faster course). My garmin measured it as 3.08, but either way, I still would have PR’d. And I even walked away with some swag! First place in my (new) age group, 25-29! NF kicked butt as well, slicing time off of his PR and getting second in his AG.

By mid-January it was time for the annual Frigid Five Miler, one of our favorite local races. The first three miles are pretty fast, though still tough and rolling. Four flattens out and climbs a bit, and in the last 2/3 of a mile of the race, it’s all a huge, steep, winding uphill. We again were in it to have fun, and to celebrate the warmest weather ever for this race! Almost 60! I wore shorts and a singlet, it was insane.

I again found a pacer, and we switched off leading several times. For a while I thought I might be ticking her off, but eventually the camaraderie became clear. We didn’t really speak until a couple short, huffing words on the last climb, but we were silently supporting and pushing each other, maintaining a tough pace and firing each other’s competitive drives. She overtook me on the hill (I took a couple of walk breaks and as far as I know, she never quit – maintained a slow and steady climbing pace) but we shook hands warmly after the finish. She got me to a huge course PR – just a hair over 40 min by chip time (my last mile I managed under 10 min pace for the first time ever. All the miles before were fast mid-7s)! (I won’t say 5 mile PR because 1.) this course has  been short the last two years and 2.) this course is NOT an ideal five miler, either way.


Of course this was not quite as small as the Athens race, and the competitiveness of my age group showed: I placed 9th (respectable, but damn those girls are fast).

Now training has officially begun. I’m trying to maintain Body pump once a week (probably Mondays) and pilates on Tuesday evenings, though I managed to tweak my left deltoid this week so skipped pilates as a precaution. Both my runs this week have been stellar. I did a hilly 5 mile “easy” run after work on Tuesday, and kicked its butt, averaging close to my goal half-marathon pace for this season. And yesterday? Despite sleeping in and pushing my tempo run until the end of the day, and thereby having to fight foot traffic at rush hour in Oakland, I had an absolute blast. True I ran a light and a car honked at me (oops – sorry!) but I obliterated my paces, negative-splitting each one and running 10K PR pace or faster. I’m sure this is just excitement from a new training cycle, but I have to say, I hope it sticks around!

My spring season is looking like this:

Spring Thaw – February 23: 10 miles (planning to run at HM goal pace)

JASR – March 30: half-marathon (hoping for race pace, or at least a slight PR)

Pittsburgh Half-Marathon – May 5

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I'm a 35-year-old writer and runner. This is my running blog.

4 thoughts on “Fast Friday

  1. Hello,
    I wanted to invite you to the Boston Harvest 5k/10k in Elizabeth Twp, Allegheny County,PA. The race is Sept 21st at 9am on the Yough River Trail. 92 Custom medals per race/kids’ finisher medals/live band/free professional photos/over 60 door prizes (also free).

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