Sunday, July 25, 2010

Early race report (without any detail)

I had a great San Francisco Marathon (Second) Half Marathon today. While I pushed (... it was a race, after all), except for the finish line sprint I never felt like I was killing myself. The result was my fastest half marathon since March 2006. I was 6 minutes faster than my best case scenario.

I guess all this "training" stuff really does work!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Three weeks in

I'd like to report that after 3 weeks I've lost 20 pounds, reduced my minutes/mile to 10 and lost 12% body fat. However, seeing that I live in the real world and not some fantasy Biggest Loserland, that hasn't happened. What has happened is that I'm slowly dropping bits of pounds, gradually increasing my running speed and endurance and meanwhile getting a little stronger. That counts, right?

Seriously, I have GOT to stop watching those quick weight loss shows which skew my vision of normalcy. Since I've dieted in the past (... once or twice) (... yearly) (... since I was a teenager) I know how my body reacts to calorie restriction and increased activity: by (figuratively) yelling "Help, I'm stranded in the Sierras and out of food and I must conserve all my resources by holding onto all this lovely life-saving blubber so that I don't have to eat my neighbors, the Donners." It's a big annoyance but sooner or later, quarter pound by quarter pound, I lose weight. Along with that I lose fractions of inches. I just need to be patient.

Training is going very well. I have indeed gained a bit of strength; I no longer fall flat on my face during planks. In fact, I no longer fall at all during planks (but don't ask me about mountain climbers). I'm doing so well at the little girl push-ups that I might soon graduate to big girl push-ups (not so close on regular push-ups though). I'm getting through the sets quicker, easier, and less exhausted. Katie is able to correct my form since I'm getting strong enough to actually have form. Still not liking the whole getting up early, but I don't think I'll ever be a happy early morning person.

I've made it through another week of also getting up early on Mondays and Wednesdays to run on my treadmill. This is also going better. I'm slowly increasing my speed while cutting out walk breaks. Since my legs like it better I'm also running at 1 degree elevation (whatever that really is on a treadmill). This has the added benefit that I can catch up on my recorded television shows.

It just gets more and more fun to enter my foods into my Lose It! app. It was strange on Saturday when my activity wiped out all the calories I ate; negative calories for the win! I spent a very long time on the internet last night trying to figure out a fair nutritional basis for the very large fruit salad that I made. Deliciously ripe cantaloupe, watermelon and honey dew with some blueberries, raspberries and bananas. I finally tracked down something like the Melon Council and just averaged out several melons per cup. Tasty and all I have to do is make sure it isn't the only thing I eat all day.

Saturday's run went very well. Bree and I again met at the Alameda Ferry, this time to run 15 miles. We only stuck together for the first 2 and then I continued on my 9:1 way. I kept up the 9:1 through 13.1 miles and was happy to see my half time was much quicker than it's been recently. I slowed to a 4:1 for the last couple of miles and it was a struggle, but I mentally wanted to get through the run without unscheduled walk breaks. It was luckily still mostly overcast when I finished although the sun was flirting with a grand appearance. The wind was unnoticeable when it was at my back, but the last 2 miles it was in my face. Although it felt nice for the cooling effect, it made my breathing worse and slowed me down. It was about 60 degrees when I finished, a vast difference than if I had run in my own neck of the woods.

It was great to see Iron Phil out there running with his Iron Team (although he was the only person I recognized). I'd been running along and trying to figure out what team had chalked the "TI" on the sidewalks. Then I realized that without dyslexic-vision it was really "IT." I still didn't know what team that was until I was crossing the bridge and heard someone behind me call my name. Luckily Phil was taking his 1 minute walk break so we could chat for a second. At the foot of the bridge he broke left while I broke right, but we again passed each other around the other side of the island. Good grief, he's gotten speedy as hell and is going to kick ass and take names when he does the Iron.

This weekend will be the San Francisco Marathon, where I'm running the second half as usual. I always like this race and was sad to miss it last year at the last minute. I didn't run it the year before either, since I was in training for the tri and my knee wasn't healthy. The year before that I had a great time running it. I ran the Half (always the second half) in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007 and the full in 2004. I've finished between 2:42 and 2:55 (with the full at 5:39) and more than likely this weekend will be toward the slower end. I don't mind. Being able to run a half marathon just because makes all the the early mornings and food journals worth it!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lose It!

My run this weekend was a vast improvement from the week before. Last weekend I ran 4 good miles before hitting a brick wall; this weekend I ran 8 great and 2 good miles before getting tired. That's (for the mathematically compromised) 6 more at-least-good miles. I also continued for another 4 miles and they weren't horrible, just tiring and slow and somewhat more uncoordinated.

Helping the quality of the run was that Bree and I ran in Alameda this weekend, a cooling improvement of about 20 degrees. It was overcast almost the entire run and I don't think it got much above 60. There was a slight bay breeze - incredibly stinky at the start since the tide was way out. We did the first few miles together and then split up, meeting back at the lot after 6 miles. I did those at 9:1 and had a good average. I slowed down after heading back out but kept up the 9:1 until I passed 10 miles. I rejoined Bree at that point and we finished at 4:1 and all of those "1" times made me very happy. My last 4 miles were about 1 minute per mile slower than the previous miles but my overall average was still about 25 seconds/mile faster than last week.

Also helping the quality of the run was that I was so tired during Thursday's workout that I was slower than before and didn't mange to complete the extended workout of Tuesday. I was sweating like a Miami thunderstorm and sliding all over when I was on the mat. I fell on my face twice while doing planks. I'm weak enough that I do it on my forearms and they kept sliding out from underneath me. Katie had to keep correcting my form. Since my legs are so much stronger than any other part of my body, my unconscious tendency is to let them take all the weight and effort. As the purpose of all of this is to build some strength in my core and upper body, it can be a problem. I was pooped when we finished and worried about the run, needlessly as it turns out.

I'm not loving the whole get-up-at-5:15 am thing. I'm barely tolerating it. The good part is when I wake up at 4 or 5 am, I know I'll be getting up soon and I'm not as anxious about getting back to sleep. The bad part is -- well, the getting up. One thing is not sleeping, another is moving. But I'm determined to continue the running on Monday and Wednesday and training on Tuesday and Thursday, and hoping to throw in an after work walk or run.

A very nice side effect of this is I'm losing weight. No, not from the consistent workouts alone. I'm dieting. Yup, real live honest to pete dieting. Holy Food Journal, Batman! I've been using Lose It!, a free app on my cell phone, and I really like it. Between being able to input full nutritional data on my own foods and their own extensive database, I feel I'm keeping honest track of not only calories, but the balance of protein, carbs and fat. I think their calorie burn for exercise is high but I try not to consume those calories anyway. I really don't think I burned 1,871 calories during my run yesterday but it's a fun number to see. The website has some incredible reports for those of us who like to obsess about what we've consumed. I could spend an entire day playing around with this.

I miss my lazy way of eating. These days there's no popcorn and wine for dinner. No late night 100 calories carb-loaded snacks. Hardly any chocolate. No cartons of ice cream on my lap. Instead I'm roasting veggies and eating fruit. Except for yesterday when I splurged with a soft shell crab sandwich (and kettle chips and cole slaw) after the run (yes, I had an almost 1,000 calorie lunch and it was goooood!).

Anyone want to place bets on how long I can keep this up?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"You'll get used to it"

I didn't have a great run on Saturday along the Lafayette-Moraga Trail. Apparently ramping up my training, especially the Tuesday and Thursday workouts with the personal trainer, took a big toll on my legs. The first 3 miles were good, then I sped up a tad on mile 4. Then I ran smack dab into a big freakin' wall. I thought that perhaps I was a little late on gu'ing, or maybe I hadn't eaten enough breakfast. Probably I'd get a second wind once I passed the little hills. Or I'd feel better after taking a short break to refill my water bottle at the 5.5 mile fountain.

As I was under the little delusion that any minute now I'd be feeling better, I continued on to the 6 mile mark before turning back. On the contrary, when I got back to the water fountain I had to take a break and refill the bottle again, just to take the 60 second pause. Walk a little, run a little, walk, run, take more gu, drink more water. At the Senior Center at the 3 mile mark (9 miles down) I refilled again.

Did I mention it was considerably warmer than I'm used to? Wahhh, boo hoo kitty poor me. While one part of my brain was actively thrilled at the beautiful day, the flowering oleanders, the deep green of fresh grass and shrubs, the other part of my brain was in whine overdrive. It's quite tough trying to run on legs that feel like grossly overcooked linguine. Not even al dente. Wobbly and shaky I continued along the trail, trying to keep my pace within something resembling a run.

I finished the 12.1 miles with my average almost 50 seconds/mile slower than the previous week when I'd been feeling great.But I finished, which is a good thing.

On Monday to celebrate my day off I treadmilled at home. I'm once again having Comcast issues (I'm on my third cable box/dvr for the exercise room) so I ran for 40 minutes while watching the local morning show. I even managed to not throw my shoe through the television screen out of sheer boredom.

Today was another workout with "Katie." Although I've been sleeping a little better recently (almost 5 hours each night!) last night was back to old habits. I think I managed an interrupted 2 hours total and when the alarm went off at 5:15 dark am, I wasn't too happy. Money talks though, and told me to get out of bed and to the gym.

The first thing I told Katie was that my legs were toast for my run on Saturday. She told me that it was just my first week, I'd get used to it. It wasn't until a couple of hours later that I realized I didn't know if she meant my legs would get used to the extra workouts and running would be easier, or if she meant I'd get used to running while my legs were toast. I don't think I'm going to ask her to clarify, I might not like the answer.

The workout was hard because of the lack of sleep. It was the same as Thursday but because of the lack of sleep my heart rate kept rising and my breathing wasn't smooth. I did all the exercises while Katie had to continue correcting my sloppy form. As I won't not try to do something she asks me to do, I was at definite risk of falling flat on my face. Shaky arms and legs made this workout -- uh -- interesting.

There were still a few minutes left after completing the sets I had done last week so Katie threw me a curve ball (not literally). She added a set of mountain climbers (I think that's what they're called) and I did indeed fall on my face. These were superset with oblique situps. Maybe superset is a misnomer since I managed one set of each this time. She generously called it a test set. Something to look forward to on Thursday morning.

I was tired all day and had a lovely nap after work. I've also been starved all day and have eaten every single calorie allowed, and then some. I think I've been shorting myself (I really liked seeing that scale drop last week) and I know that's a bad idea when I'm increasing my activity.

This is going to take some practice before I get it right, but I'm going to keep trying.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

All that, and more

Yesterday I rolled out of bed and was surprised to realized that nothing hurt. That lasted exactly until I finished my 40 minute run on the treadmill. Then my legs were aching and my arms hurt and my abs were tight. I spent the entire day feeling the effects of Tuesday's workout and feeling smug that, once again, I was working out enough to make things hurt.

When I awoke this morning I lay in bed trying to pretend that I was still asleep, thinking it was my usual 3-4 am wake-up. Imagine my surprise when I peeked at the clock and saw it was already 5:15 am, mere minutes from my alarm going off. Time to get up!

I had set my alarm a few minutes earlier since Tuesday I was so rushed and that's not my favorite way to start a morning. I made it in to the gym in time to weigh myself before my workout, something I plan to do every Thursday. Since my weight fluctuates so much on a daily basis, I'm happy with just a weekly weigh-in so as not to drive myself crazy. I was hoping for a sizable drop since I've been excellent with my consumption and burn this week and was rewarded with a 3 pound loss. Although that isn't Biggest Loser big, it's huge to someone who always averaged no more than .25-.5 pound loss weekly on previous bouts of Weight Watchers. I don't expect that much in the future but it's nice to see for the first week.

Day 2, Week 1 of training started the same as Day 1, Week 1: weighted squats superset with step-ups, 3 sets. Then medicine ball sit-ups superset with twists, 3 sets. Then push-ups with planks, 3 sets. Since we didn't need to do any time wasting paperwork today, there was time enough for more workout! We added in lying on my back, pulling in my legs (we had tried the raising and lowering of straight legs but my legs were doing the work, not my abs, so she modified it) superset with sideways up-and-over the step. This is a tall square step, not the little aerobic step that I'm used to (and I never did do the 2 risers on that aerobic step). I was huffing and puffing away with that. I managed to not fall over once, quite a feat for someone with my bad balance.

We weren't quite done though. I had to go up a flight of stairs, 2 at a time, then run down, twice. By then my legs were wobbling something fierce and I was toast.

I had thought that maybe doing 15-20 more minutes of cardio after this workout would be a good idea. Until I was done with this workout and realized I had no more cardio to give. This was made clear to me when I tried running across the parking lot to get out of the way of a car and my legs didn't want to carry me.

Thus concluded Week 1's workouts. I'm happy that tomorrow I have an exercise day off, before Saturday's mid-length run. I think this is going to work!