I have been slacking on new blog posts. And it sucks. I had known I wanted to write a new post all week, had an idea on Thursday after my run, and now it is 9:39 pm on Friday and I’m trying to begin it….all while binge-watching House of Cards Season 3 with my husband.
I was in a weird slump—As you are aware, Dan and I did the two weeks of the Clean Eating Challenge. We were suppose to feel fantastic! Well, really, I started feeling empty. I was losing too much weight and didn’t have enough carbs in my system. My body has ran on carbs, literally, since my first years’ in middle school track. I am not gluten intolerant, so in moderation I really don’t see this as an issue. My normal eating habits already consisted of whole wheat pasta, and as much as possible scratch-made sauce, so the lacking of that staple, especially during training, hit me. (Wow, that was a lot of commas in a sentence.)
Then the challenge ended. Horray! Eat what I want! Sorta. There were things I wanted to keep with me, like the healthier breakfasts and snacks, and I even realized I should limit my cheese intake (total Wisconsin girl horror!). I also was pumped to get my training back in gear. Thing is, I was headed out to Albuquerque for an International Baccalaureate training. Let me say this-I am SO GLAD I don’t travel regularly for work. Holy crap, it takes a lot out of you. You eat even more different than at home (opposite end of the clean eating challenge) and your normal workout schedule could go haywire.
When I crafted my Edmonton Marathon training plan, I kept in mind my summer vacations. I kept in mind this very week of “school” training in the States. I made sure the runs planned during those times were feasible. Coming off my two challenging weeks of training all while feeling empty, it was harder than I planned getting back into the game…especially while in dry, hot, arid, desert filled New Mexico.
I ended up moving my training days around, struggling to get the miles in. With training going from 8-4 each day, and me not being a morning runner unless it’s a race, getting my ass out training in the afternoon was next to impossible. I went on a ten-miler one day at 4:15 PM…but it was 95 degrees…and I’m a northerner…so I made it 2.5 out and turned around laughing at my rookie mistake. I had to do just 2.5 back, which was a struggle, but I did it. This 5 miler counted for a run later that week. But I needed to do that damn ten-miler sometime.
I got the ten-miler in on Wednesday evening, two days after it was originally planned. And it got done in the Marriott treadmill. Erin, my cousin and motivator for this training, yelled at me via text to get with it and get at it. Well, that I did. I had the luxury of watching my own personal tv during the run, focusing on HGTV, but that wouldn’t be enough. I had to push it to make it worth it.
For each mile, I increased my speed 0.1 mph. I started at 6.0 mph, all the way to 6.8 mph. Then, for the last mile, I increased my speed 0.1 mph for every tenth of a mile. It was the best run I had done in two and a half weeks…and it was done on a treadmill. Go figure.
I got back home from the trip, ready to get back into the swing of things. It didn’t come immediately, because then all the traveling back took something out of me. Plus the end-of-school-year party may have too. But the past two days I made huge gains in the right direction. Yesterday, I did a solid 6 miles with a 9:01 average pace, and my fastest mile being the final mile in 8:36. Today, I rocked a speed workout of Yasso 800s. I did not do it on the shale track, but over on the bike path at Nicholas Sheran Park near my house. I ran a mile warmup in 8:46. Then, I did my 800 meter repeats…8 of them to be exact. I wrote about my first experience with Yasso 800s here: YASSO 800s For the WIN!
I was faster than my goal 3:30 pace for every 800 except the 7th one. And I’m not making excuses, but this had a lot to do with the inconsiderate woman taking up the bike path with her three dogs, two of them off-leash…(one of my pet peeves! This is not an off leash park!). I ran 3:27, 3:13, 3:19, 3:17, 3:24, 3:19, 3:43 (ouch! See!?) and 3:12. Each had a 2:45-3:00 minute power walk break. I rounded the workout out with an easy mile home in 9:27.
Tomorrow I have my alarm set for 7 am. After my morning rituals and preparations, I plan on heading out of the house by 9:00 am for my 16 miler. This is a mentally tough distance for me, because during Calgary I hit my decline at 13 miles, and had completely fallen apart at 17. I have a route on the west side mapped out in my head. Then, a decline down Bridge Drive into the river bottom, up the steep Lynx trail, where I’ll prowl through the south side neighborhoods. I’ll head back over the river valley on Whoop Up and hit home. And trust me—Tomorrow is Canada Day. I am done with the Clean Eating a Challenge, and I will have just run 16 miles. I’m having a carb-filled beer! Cheers!
I am now into the one month countdown to the Calgary Full Marathon. I knew for a while I wanted to do this race, but it wasn’t until after my marathon during the Dopey Challenge that I realized I could maybe have a legitimate shot at getting a Boston Qualifying time. That has now become my focus, and things have been going well…for the most part. The races I have done this spring have gone phenomenal-new half marathon PR (1:38:40) and placed 2nd overall for women in the 10 Mile Road Race (1:14:49). But I have been having some bothersome knee pain. Yes, I am taking care of it and trying to figure out the issue (other than the obvious overuse) but I also know I can’t stop running altogether in order for it to heal completely. I have Calgary. And I have a goal!
After taking six days off of running while in Quebec City during Spring Break, I knew I needed to start tackling some tough workouts. Not just distance, but speed. Oh, the dreaded speed workout. I think back to when I was in Track & Field in High School and how much I loathed speed workouts. I use to run the 800 meter and 1600 meter back then, which is a tiny fraction of what I run now! But see, in high school, I think I got in a rut because I was never “that great” and was always a middle of the pack varsity runner. I helped the team in small ways, but my 2:38-800 meter time was never good enough to place high or advance far in our tough Southeast Conference, and even tougher WIAA Division 1.
Back to track workouts…I avoid them. I make excuses. I don’t have access to our outdoor community track, as it is used for the university or high school sports. You can’t just go jump that fence and use the track as you please. High schools in the area don’t have their own asphalt tracks like they do back in Wisconsin, so there goes that. My only option in town is the red shale track next to the curling club in downtown Lethbridge.
So that is where I went last Wednesday.
I decided I needed to switch my interval workout a bit. Usually, when I have a “speed” day, I just mess around with doing Fartleks. That way, I can just be going through neighborhoods minding my own business and surge for short distances whenever I feel like it. Over the past few months, I have been reading about Yasso 800s. It is a speed workout designed by Bart Yasso of Runners World Magazine. You can read about it here in this article:
The general premise is that you take what your goal full marathon time is (I need to be under 3:35:00 to make the qualifying time for Boston) and translate that time from hours and minutes, into minutes and seconds. So if I want to aim for a 3:30:00 full marathon, I am going to be running 800 meter repeats in 3 minutes and 30 seconds.
For my first attempt at Yasso 800s, I decided to do an 800 meter warmup, 6×800 meter runs at a 3:30 pace, and then an 800 meter cool down. Wednesday was our first HOT day of the year, as my car thermometer read 79 degrees at 3:30 pm. I was a little nervous how this warm weather would affect me during this workout, but I came armed with a bottle of water and was ready to go.
The reason I wanted to do an 800 meter warmup was so I could figure out where I needed to place myself in order to have a true 800 meter distance around the track. There are not any lanes drawn in on this old school track, so I did my first two laps hugging the curve in my made up Lane 1. It was under the 800 meters (0.5 mile) so I adjusted myself from there on out to be positioned in the middle imaginary lane.
I was nervous for my first 800. I really didn’t know how the pace would feel. I finished my first one in 3:32; just a tad off. Instead of jogging in between each 800, (I had wanted my total distance that afternoon to total 4 miles) I took a 2:30-3:30 minute break where I jogged over to get some water, did some stretches, and got set for the next one. I ran my second 800 pretty much spot on in 3:29! A highlight at the end of my second 800 was witnessing a homeless man peeing by a shed next to the track; oh downtown Lethbridge, you never cease to amaze me.
The third and fourth 800s were 3:30 and 3:22, respectively. Damn, I was feeling good! I was worried when I clocked in that 3:22; had I pushed too hard with two more repeats to go? I was downing water like no bodies business and by this point I was sweating more than normal. This is what I needed though—something new to get my body going.
The last two 800s were completed in 3:28 and 3:22. I was so happy with those last two times, and was wanting to almost pat my own back with that final lap! I had done my first Yasso 800 workout and it felt fantastic! After my 800 meter cool down, I got artsy in the shale (see below). Later that week, i revamped my training calendar a bit, and have set three more days of intervals. I will be doing the Yasso 800 workout during each, with my next one having 8x800s and the second having 10x800s. I’ll taper down to only 4x800s the week and a half before my big race. All in all, while I was nervously dreading speed workouts, I am now feeling really positive as I head towards the Calgary Full Marathon on June 1st!