Monday, May 31, 2010

Amy Thompson Run 8K - Memorial Day 2010

When: May 31, 2010
Where: Loose Park, Kansas City, MO
Distance: 5 miles
Temp: 68F
Humidity: 80%
Finish Time: 51:39
Avg. Heart Rate: 158

This marked my 3rd year running this race. Unfortunately, I needed to run it smart and not push myself during the race. It was tough to do, but I wore my HRM and wanted to keep the heart rate below 165 with an average below 160.

I arrived early to walk around the park since the only time I'm here is when I'm running the path that borders it. About 10 minutes before start time I line up behind the 10:00 pace marker. It feels odd because I really WANT to be near the 8:00 marker so I could run my PR. However, since I have a tough HM in 5 days, I decided to take the advice of some very knowledgeable runners here on the forum and run an easy race. While waiting for the start I snapped the follwoing pictures:

Looking toward the starting line

Looking at the few runners behind me

Looking at the hill we have to run up for the finish.

The pack starts moving and my competitive nature is trying to steam roll over my common sense. Picture the devil on one shoulder saying "it will only be 40 minutes of hard effort, you'll have no problem recovering in time for the HM." While the angel is on the other shoulder saying "don't listen to the devil, listen to the advice your friends gave you." The next thing I knew the angel appeared on the other shoulder and bit%@-slapped the devil to the ground! Common sense won out and an easy paced run was in the making.

Instead of giving a play by play of the run, I'm going to let the pictures do the talking for me. I hope you enjoy them.

Mile 1: Split - 10:17

Just after the start.

About halfway through.

Mile 2: Split - 10:29

Near the start of mile 2.

Abouth 3/4 through mile 2

Mile 3:
Split - 10:30

Near the beginning of mile 3

Early in mile 3

Halfway through mile 3.

Near the end of mile 3.

Mile 4: Split - 10:36

Sign near the start of mile 4 approaching the final water stop.

About 1/3 through mile 4.

Mile 5: Split - 9:47

Near the start of mile 5.

OK, so as you can tell from the mile 5 split I did pick it up a little. I had to finish strong so I kicked it up the hill at about a 6:00/mi pace. It felt soooo good to finally get some speed to my legs

Overall I would count this race as a complete success. I had a lot of fun and managed to take it easy for 99% of the race. I could definitely feel the humidity though. Just look at the shirts in the photos and you can see the humidity in action.

I hope everyone enjoyed the pics. Have a great Memorial Day!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

7 mile run to end the week

When: May 29, 2010
Where: Little Blue Trace Trail, Independence, MO
Temp: 65 - start and 70 - finish
Distance: 7.12 miles
Avg Heart Rate: 155
Avg Pace: 10:30/mi

I woke up at 4:00 a.m. this morning so I could do my usual morning routine as if I was heading out to a race. So I drank my coffee, ate my cereal, used the foam roller to warm up the muscles and then started getting ready to head out to the trail. I wanted to start running early so I could beat the heat. I managed to get fill the Jeep up with gas and get to the starting point at around 6:10 a.m. During my warm-up walk, I snapped the following picture:

After about a 5 minute walk to warm-up, I hit the starting point and started my Garmin. It felt great to be running in cool temperatures. This was one of those runs where everything just seemed to click. I ran the first 3.5 miles listening to music, but had it low enough to hear the birds singing. I ran the remainder of the run just listening to the soundtrack that nature was providing. It was full of the songs from red-winged blackbirds, eastern meadowlarks, red-bellied woodpeckers, common yellowthroats, with some chorus frogs mixed in here and there. I did have some discomfort appear near my right knee during the run. It's the same ache that I've been dealing with for a while, but since it doesn't alter my gait and doesn't cause any pain, I just run through it. I figure since I'm at the end of my half marathon training a little bit of discomfort can be expected. The discomfort was gone somewhere during the 6th mile. The rest of the run was very peaceful and relaxing. When I finished the run, my heart rate was at 160, but by the end of my 3-5 minute cooldown walk it had dropped to 125.

I only took a few pictures while I was out this time. This picture was taken about 3/4 into the first mile. I liked the way the fog was hovering over the field.

This last picture was taken a couple of minutes after the above picture. I just wanted to see how the camera would take a picture while facing the sun.

All in all, I couldn't have asked for a better run to finish the week off. My next run will be the Amy Thompson Run 8K on Memorial Day.

Thursday and Friday Runs

When: May 27 & 28, 2010
Where: Loose Park, KCMO
Temp: 90F
Avg Heart Rate: 160 during both runs
Avg Pace: 9:48/mi (27th) and 9:49/mi (28th)

Both runs were very similar. They felt tougher than they actually were, but that has everything to do with the temperature. My pace was fairly consistent during the runs. On Thursday my splits were 9:47/9:50/9:46 and on Friday my splits were 9:57/9:45/9:45. Overall I am very pleased with how both runs went. It was a great way to end the work week!

Monday, May 24, 2010

First run in the new shoes

Where: Loose Park (Kansas City, MO)
When: May 24, 2010
Temp: 90F
Humidity: 48%
Distance: 3 miles
Avg. Pace: 9:13/mi

I have been looking forward to trying out my new shoes since they arrived on Saturday. I must admit though, with the temp a balmy 90F, I almost said screw it! I thought better of it and decided that I needed to get my body conditioned to running in the heat. I changed into my running gear and headed out to the park.

Loose park is a beautiful park not too far from "The Plaza" area of Kansas City. It has a pretty nice asphalt running path that is about 1.38 miles long. I can run through the main parking lot, make 2 loops of the path, and be finished with 3 miles. It's also nice seeing all the other runners out there. It's great for running fartleks as well! I've noticed that when attractive women are running toward me, my pace picks up until they can't see me anymore, I then switch back to a normal easy pace :)

The run tonight turned out very well. I was going to try and take it easy but my legs wanted to go. I knew it was not going to be an easy run when my first mile finished in 9:30. I still wasn't breathing hard so I decided to keep it going. Mile 2 felt good as well and I ran it at a 9:24 pace. During mile 3 I started to feel the heat and my heart rate started to raise a little, but when it was finished I saw why. I finished mile three at an average pace of 8:45. I felt surprisingly good, but decided that a third lap would have been pushing it a bit. Overall I was pleased that my average heart rate was 166.

The best part, the shoes were awesome! No shin pain or knee issues during the run. I never even felt the twinge in my right calf that has been plaguing me the past couple of weeks. I'm looking forward to a good 250-300 miles worth of running on these shoes!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

My Paradoxical Run

When: May 22, 2010
Where: Shawnee Mission Park (Shawnee, KS)
Distance: 11 miles
Time: Too long (2:07:31)
Temp: 75F (start) 83F (finish)
Humidity: 65%

What's in a title? In this case, everything. A paradox can be defined as a situation having seemingly contradictory qualities or phases; that is exactly how I view this run. It was both a bad and a good run.

Now go get a drink, kick your feet up, and let me tell you a tale.

The day started very well. I awoke to my alarm, had my coffee and a bowl of cheerios, and spent about 10 quality minutes with the foam roller to warm up the muscles. I get to the trail at about 8:00, do a couple minutes of active warm-up and start the run.

Pic of the Trail Head

From my first step, I am worried about whether or not I'll be able to complete the run. As soon as my right foot hits the ground, my calf starts talking to me. You can call me crazy if you want, but the twinge was telling me to turn back. Now that I think about it, my calf was like the "Mariner" and I the "Wedding-Guest," except I chose not to hear the tale. Instead, I told the calf to "pipe down" and continued on my way. Thankfully, it listened!

Mile one felt great! I was taking in the sights, running at a nice relaxed pace and just having a good time! About halfway through the mile, my muscles feel relaxed and have settled in for the chore ahead. I finished mile 1 with an average heart rate of 145. During the first mile, I snapped the following pictures:

Near the start of the first mile

Early in the mile, I took the left fork.

Roughly halfway through the first mile.

The easy feeling continues through mile 2. I am actually starting to think if I was imagining the hilliness of this place. It turns out the hills started later than I remembered. I was feeling relaxed during this run, but I was starting to feel the humidity. At the halfway point of mile 2, I took my first 30 second walk break. My plan was to simulate walking at the aid stations during the Hospital Hill Half Marathon in 2 weeks and they will be spaced every 1.5 miles. I finished mile 2 with an average heart rate of 163. The following pictures were taken during the second mile:

Near the start of mile 2.

upstream view from a bridge on the path

downhill section during the mile (out and back route)

almost halfway through mile 2

Near the end of mile 2.

The humidity started really making its presence known and the sweat started dripping from the bill of my Brooks running hat. I come up to a hill, power up it and start thinking that it was easier to run up than I remembered. This run was going really well at this point. Sure I was being affected by the humidity, but it still seemed almost effortless and I was able to sing along with the tunes being quietly played from my mp3 player and hear the Northern Cardinals and Black-capped Chickadees signing their tune at the same time. I was greeting runners and cyclists coming back from their adventures and everything was going smoothly. I finished mile 3 with an average heart rate of 165 and snapped the following pictures along the way:

After cresting a hill near the start of mile 3

Roughly halfway through

Approaching the end of mile 3

Since all was going well on this hot and humid day, I should have known it was too good to be true. I took my second planned walk break and noticed I had forgot to bring my S!Caps. I was worried about cramping in the later miles since I was surely sweating out a lot of sodium. I started feeling the run during mile 4. It was getting tougher, but still comfortable. The sweat started dripping more regularly now. I decided to think of each 1.5 mile segment as its own run so I wouldn't think of how far I still had to go. I finished mile 4 with an average heart rate of 168 and snapped the following pictures:

Near the start of mile 4

About 1/3 through mile 4

About 2/3 through mile 4 and another bridge crossing

Nearing the end of mile 4

As you can tell from the pictures, up until this point there has been a good amount of shade. Unfortunately, that was about to change. Most of mile 5 was in full sun and it was taking its toll on me. The run was still comfortable, but it was getting harder to keep the heart rate down. I was really looking forward to the planned walk break and welcomed it when I was halfway through the mile. If I was smart, I would have taken my first packet of HoneyStinger chews during this mile. However, I was a fool and decided to wait until the turn around point in another mile. At least now I know NOT to do that during the race itself! I plan to take the chews at the 4, 8, and 12 mile points in the race. I finished mile 5 with an average heart rate of 172 and snapped the following pictures along the way:

Near the start of mile 5

almost halfway through mile 5

Mile 6 was about the same as mile 5. It was rolling along comfortably, but I was feeling the heat. I was still able to sing along to my tunes, well at least my version of singing, and greet the other people as they are passing by. The sun was beating down and I was sipping from my water a little more frequently, but my legs felt good and I still felt like I was doing OK. If I had been paying attention to my heart rate, I might have started adding in more frequent walk breaks though. I turned around and headed back to the start halfway through this mile and took my first package of energy chews. My average heart rate stayed at 172. I snapped the following pics during this mile:

Near the beginning of mile 6

Halfway through mile 6 looking off to the right

Halfway through mile 6

Near the end of mile 6

The temperature was probably around 80F now, but it felt like it was in the 90s. The top of my head felt hot. I was beginning to wish I had brought more than 24 ounces of water with me. I did have another 16 ounces of water, but I purposely left it in the Jeep so I had some cool water to drink when I was finished. As it was, the water I had with me was no longer cool. It no longer felt refreshing to drink. Don't get me wrong, it was worth its weight in gold at that point, but never seemed to quench the thirst. Looking back, this would be sign #2 that things were going to get rough.

I was more than ready for the walk break at the start of Mile 7. Probably 2 minutes after the walk break, the run started getting tougher. The sweat seemed to be flowing like a small creek ending in a waterfall from my hat. Surprisingly, no sweat was getting in my eyes. My shirt was drenched at this point. I was actually happy that I chose to go with the sleeveless shirt rather than a different running shirt. I just wished it wasn't dark blue. I'm sure it had something to do with my feeling the heat as much as I was. I finished mile 7 with an average heart rate of 175 and snapped the following photos during this stretch:

Near the start of mile 7

About 1/3 through mile 7

Roughly halfway through mile 7

Mile 8 felt a little better than mile 7, but not too much. I think what helped was I was starting to get back into some shade. I was no longer singing along with the tunes, but those birds were still singing their happy songs. The only thing that I had going at this point is that my legs still felt good and I was still moving forward. I did take an unscheduled break during this mile because I felt like I was in danger of overheating. I found some shade and stopped to stretch and rest for a couple of minutes. I also was glad that I brought 3 80z bottles of water on my fuel belt. It felt soo good to dump some water on my head. The sad thing, even with that short rest my average heart rate for mile 8 was 172. You guessed it, I was about to crash.

Near the start of mile 8

About 1/4 through mile 8

Roughly halfway through mile 8 recrossing a bridge

Nearly 3/4 through mile 8

Nearing the end of mile 8

Mile 9 starts with me in rough shape. I feel like steam is coming off the top of my head and would be coming out of my ears if it could. I push on, but when I sneeze and feel chills down through my calves, I figure it's not a good sign. I reach the half way point of mile 8 and come across a very welcomed site. I was at an overlook point with a bench placed in the SHADE! I hit pause on my Garmin and rested! I feel that if it wasn't for resting, the run would have ended up being very bad. I took my hat off and emptied about 2 ounces of water over my head. Even though the water was warm, it felt very COLD. I knew I was not in good shape. My heart rate took a bit to lower, but once it started it kept going down steadily. I decided that it would probably be a good idea to take my 2nd and last pack of energy chews. So as I was stretching, I was eating. I thought I was there for over 30 minutes, but according to the Garmin it was only 10 minutes. I saw my heart rate was down to 134, did a couple final stretches and poured another 2 ounces of water over my head. After rearranging my water bottles and snapping photos from the lookout, I restarted my Garmin and resumed my run. It was tough going, but thankfully I hadn't hit the large hill yet. I finished mile 9 with an average heart rate of 157.

Near the start of mile 9

View from the overlook

Another over look view

Just after the overview, roughly halfway through mile 9

Near the end of mile 9

After mile 9, it was a balancing act of running and walking to prevent myself from overheating again. Sadly, it was about a 3 minute run / 3 minute walk ratio. I had to do what I had to do and decided I was not going to push it too hard. Thankfully, mile 10 had the long hill I was dreading so I was relieved to walk up it. It would be the perfect hill for running repeats. Because I was walking more, I was able to keep my average heart rate for mile 10 at 159.

Near the start of mile 10

Halfway through mile 10

Near the end of mile 10

I was relieved to know that I only had one more mile to go. I also had about 6 more ounces of water. I made a point to take longer sips while drinking during this mile. I was also surprised that forgetting the S!Caps (electrolyte capsules) didn't come back to haunt me. I was able to run a bit more of this mile, but still took extended walk breaks just to err on the side of caution. I was really shocked to see people just starting out on their runs now! There is no way I would want to put myself through the torture of starting when it's over 80F with a warm wind blowing. I definitely learned my lesson of respecting what that sun can do to you during a run. Mile 11 was a good mile to end on and I finished with an average heart rate of 160.

Near the start of mile 11

About halfway through mile 11

Just after the bend in the previous picture, looking back across the bridge

About 3/4 through mile 11

The end of my run.

I purposely turned before I was supposed to so I could get my full 11 miles in and then still have about a half mile cooldown walk. That walk felt good. When I returned to the Jeep, the parking lot was completely full. I placed my fuel belt and hat on the passenger seat then stretched for about 5-10 minutes before getting behind the wheel. I rolled up the windows and turned on the AC. It never felt so refreshing. I sat there for a bit soaking in the AC and eating some trail mix for recovery. I drank some of the water I had left behind and it was still refreshingly cool.

On the drive home, I was thinking back to everything that happened during the run. Yes, it was for all intents and purposes a bad run. However, I still found it to be a good run. This brings us back to the first line of the tale, "What's in a title?" The answer is still the same, everything. If you managed to read this far, I don't have to tell you why it was a bad run. I bet you're wondering why I also view it as a good run. First, I had no muscle cramping, ITB issues, or any hint of the knee pain that showed up in runs the last 2 weeks. Second, I learned strategy lessons for the upcoming HM. I decided on points to take the energy chews and learned that walking the aid stations will work. I will bring my own water, but use the water from the aid stations to keep me cool. Lastly, although it wasn't exactly a confidence boosting run, I was left with no doubt that I will be able to finish the HM and hopefully have a good showing. What did me in today was the heat, not the distance.

If anyone made it through this whole post, get up and walk around a bit. It's time to stretch those legs. If I wasn't so rude, I would have included an intermission. I have 2 final pictures. When I made it home, this was waiting at my front door:

I was hoping it would arrive while I was gone. This is what was in the box:

A pair of Mizuno Wave Inspire 6!

Thanks for coming along for my journey of good times and bad times. Now have yourself a beer, you earned it after reading this.