Month: November 2011

Running Naturally?

Coming into the finish and heel striking big time!

In an effort to hopefully get faster and stay injury free (something I have done pretty well at so far) I am embarking on trying to correct my running form.  I am a notoriously heavy heel striker. It is not uncommon of me to wear through the black soles on the heels of my running shoes in less than 200 miles.  And from all the literature out there, it seems like mid/fore foot striking is more efficient and should result in faster running overall.

So starting today I will be using the plan in Natural Running to help correct my running form.  The plan is fairly detailed (if you read it that is) so it should be simply a mater of me following the plan; something I am not the best at.  The worst part is that I can’t do any significant running for the next 4 weeks!  I keep seeing people running down the street and I get jealous!  Hopefully this will work because I would love to gain/lose 30 seconds per mile!

Here is a little more evidence of my running issue…

(**if this plan also cures me of my “girly arms” that wouldn’t be a bad thing either, #justsayin)

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Trifecta for Tribecca

It has been a busy 6 weeks for me. I did three pretty big things I NEVER imagined I would be able to do.

The first thing I did was qualify for Boston.  I had thought about trying to qualify when I first started running but after my first couple marathons I couldn’t wrap my head around running a marathon under 3:40.  It seemed impossible.  I knew that to do it meant I would have to really commit to work on my speed, something I had never enjoyed.  But with a great training program, the support and encouragement from my friends, and more long runs than I had ever done while training for a marathon I pulled it off and qualified by running 3:34:43!

The next thing I did was win my age group in a marathon.  I had signed up for the Santa Clarita Marathon in case I didn’t qualify for Boston when I ran Portland.  Granted, it wasn’t the biggest group of people running but who cares! I won my age group!!!  The coolest part is I made the leaderboard for the race so when people go to see the results they will see I was the fourth woman overall!

The third thing was I completed an Ultra trail run.  I ran a 50K just two weeks after running the Santa Clarita Marathon, and just 6 weeks after doing Portland (that should qualify me to be a Marathon Maniac as well!). 6 Months ago I would never have imagined running 31 miles, let alone on trails with over 5000 ft of elevation gain.  Now I didn’t train specifically for this race so honestly I was a little disappointed with my time.  But the more I thought about it I realized that I did something that not too many people can do.

So this year’s racing has come to an end and it is time to start planning for 2012.  I am going for a pretty big trifecta on May 5th as well… Wish me luck!

Click here  to hear a podcast where I talked about my three races with Kimberly L.

Santa Monica Mountains PCTR 50K Trail Run Race Report

Getting ready to start the day!

If you had told me 9 months ago that I would be an Ultra Runner one day I would have said you were crazy.  This was never something I was interested in.  Heck, I had never enjoyed running the trails until April of this year.  At that point the thought of doing an ultra was planted in my head.  I had a lot of races between then and the race day of November 20, 2011, so I could only get as much time on the trails as I could sneak in during my various training plans.  I figured my marathon training would help prepare me for the distance and I would do all I could to prepare for the terrain.

So the day was finally here to tackle a 50K.  I woke up extremely excited to do the race.  I knew the weather was gonna make things tough; rain was predicted for pretty much the whole day.  I wore my new #DoEpicShit shirt, a running rain jacket, my CW-X tights, and my Salomon XR Crossmax shoes and started off on my adventure.

This race is essentially 5 ups and downs, so I will give you a run down hill by hill.  The first hill is a counter clockwise loop kind of like a lolly-pop.  The views are breath taking and the terrain is very technical.  It is single track and some fire road with varying surfaces.  It can be kind of tricky (I actually fell on this the first time I ran it and almost broke my ribs).  Luckily my legs were fresh and I was excited.  This loop went by pretty smoothly but it did rain the whole time.  I had lots of nice conversation with the fellow runners (something I am not used to from triathlon), and the first loop was done!

I ran thru the first aide station and started on the second climb which takes you up and over a hill/mountain (whatever you call them) into a totally separate canyon.  The up was pretty much all single track.  I was still feeling good and ran most of this leg.  The conditions were getting worse and there was a lot of mud and puddles.  The down was mostly fire road which allows for easier passing (and being passed) but it made for some CRAZY mud! I tried to get out my camera to take a picture but I fell flat on my tush! It was a slippery mucky mess! Once I got myself up (thanks to the help of a nearby runner) I finished the descent and ran on to the aide station.  I needed to refuel big time! The spread was awesome! Payday bars, pumpkin pie, beef jerky and coke was what I ate!  It all hit the spot!  After the snack and some Advil I was on my way.

Luckily the rain was still coming down so all the mud on me started to wash away.  The next climb was a killer.  My back was tightening up and my hip/glute was not happy.  This was the my lowest point in the whole race. The climb just felt like it went on forEVAH and I did very little running.  All I tried to do was keep moving forward, purposeful walking I call it. Luckily after every 3 mile climb there was a steady descent to enjoy.  The trail was getting muddier and muddier so some parts of the descent were not runnable for me.  I didn’t feel like falling on my a$$ again!

Got to the bottom and ran by the start/finish but really had no desire to quit.  I knew I could do this but there was no way I was going to make my goal time of 6 hours.  I hit the aide station for a few more snacks and continued on to the first loop again.  I remember saying to myself, “How did I run up this before?”  A voice inside my head answered “That was almost 4 hours ago! That is how!”  Lots of purposeful walking and some very cold and deep puddles and I made it to the top.  There is a really nice pretty flat section at this point.  I was amazed that my body just kept running!  It wasn’t going fast but it was going!  I made it to the descent,  got back to the start/finish, and quickly set off for the final hill.

I didn’t waste much time at this point to get moving.  I was starting the last 9KM out-and-back and I was at 6 hours (the time I had been hoping to finish in).  I couldn’t do much running up but I just kept moving forward.  That was all I could do.  The clouds had broken over the ocean and the views were amazing.  The pictures from my camera don’t do it justice (mostley because water leaked in my lens!).  At this point it was just about getting it done.  Get up, Get down, and get out of there!  The descent was pretty slick in parts but amazingly I was still pretty comfortable running downhill.

Just a little bit of the mud. Nice toe nail!

I made it to the finish around 7:35!  Not the most exciting of race finishes and honestly I was a little disappointed with my time at that moment.  I grabbed a banana, headed back to may car where I took off all my muddy and wet clothes (which were all of them).  If I flashed you on the side of PCH either sorry or you’re welcome!  Drank a chocolate Honeymilk and made my way home!  I stopped for some soup, nachos, and coffee and then finally washed the rest of the mud off me!

In hindsight, what I did was pretty amazing.  Not many people can say they ran 31 miles with well over 5000 ft of climbing, especially in those conditions.  Not only that, but I never turned my music on, not once.  The fact that I did 7.5 hours continuously and with NO music was a big boost to my confidence for Ironman training.

I had said that I had no desire to do another Ultra anytime soon and honestly there is no time in my schedule to really train for one specifically (but you  know I already am planning on how to crush my time!).

The views were amazing! I ran up from sea level to here!

I had trouble with the self portrait, I didn't want to fall off the cliff!

Water in the lens kind of messed this one up.

Here is some video of the event done by Billy (@larunr)

Trained the Terrain?

Elevation Profile for 50K

With my first 50K only 3 days away I am feeling a little anxious.  I didn’t really train for this race specifically.  I really concentrated on my A-marathon (Portland, October 9, 2011) training and didn’t spend as much time on the trails as I should have.  I did have a couple good runs on the trails but I think a good 20 miler in the hills would have been a really good thing.

I have been really lucky in that I tend to surprise myself and do better than I think will when I tackle a new event or distance.  I am really hoping that this trend continues.  I have done a race that took me 6 hours before (my anticipated finishing time).  But this will be my first race that will be 6 hours of the same activity (running) and climbing over 5000 ft over 30 miles of trail.

This is my last race of the year.  It has been quite a difficult year for me both physically and emotionally.  I hope I can make it through the race Sunday with a smile on my face, happiness in my heart, and NO injuries! (I want to be an Ironman! on May 5th!)

Below are the elevation profiles from a couple of my trail runs over the last couple months.  Let hope I trained enough of the terrain!

The Sufferfest: Hell Hath No Fury Review

I have been using the Suffestfest videos for guided indoor cycling training for a little over 6 months.  There is something about chasing professional cyclists for an hour that makes the workout on a trainer bearable; as well as the awesome music and outstanding commentary. So when I heard that The Sufferfest was doing an all women video I wasn’t quite sure it would have the same draw for me…I was totally wrong.  I wanted to kick those chicks a$$es more than when I ride against the dudes!

First of all I generally train for endurance events (marathons and soon my first full Ironman) so I am not great with workouts that are about short fast intervals.  My body doesn’t work that way.  I think that is why I liked this Sufferfest so much.  It was broken up into four stages (the Tour of Sufferlandria) and the two middle stages were both 20 minutes each.  That length of effort works really well for me.  They both were broken up enough to keep you on your toes with breakaway efforts, hill climbing, and of course sprints.  This Sufferfest, of all the ones I have ever done, really had me feeling like I was in the race.  When you do it you will understand…

Here are the details of the workout:

  • 3:30 Warm-up
  • 5:30 Stage 1: Easy, flat terrain at effort level of 6/10 with a few accelerations
  • 20:00 Stage 2: Rolling terrain with a series of attacks as the pack tries to take the lead from you
  • 6:00 Recovery
  • 20:00 Stage 3: More rolling, attacking racing in which you try to break away to get the lead back
  • 4:00 Recovery
  • 3:30 Stage 4: Team Time Trial in which you have to crush yourself in order to take the lead, and the Tour of Sufferlandria victory
  • 6:00 Recovery, featuring Mental Training Reflection from Athlete’s Audio

It really was the best workout I have done from the Sufferfest.  It had a story that took you from the start to the finish.  I really wanted to make  the Sufferlandria team proud (and I didn’t want to be boiled!)  You must pay attention to the interview during the second recovery period, and enjoy the Mental Training Reflection at the end.  The music was great, the workout was challenging but rewarding, and the footage during the team time trial was amazing!  It is well worth your time because it really simulates real racing scenarios and give you an awesome workout!

KSwiss Kwicky Blade-Light Shoe Review

Fresh out of the box!

I have been running in KSwiss running shoes for the last year or so.  And as I have tried to increase my speed I have also tried to reduce my shoe, by running in something that is less of a stability trainer and more neutral shoe.  Prior to running in the Kwicky Blade-Light  I was running in the Blade-Light RunsI was happy with that shoe because it started to help shift me into a more neutral position and was starting to get me off my heels.  But when a company comes out with the new and exciting shoes, who doesn’t want to try them?

I was fortunate to be given a pair of the Kwicky Blade-Lights right after I did Vineman this summer and I was very excited to give them a spin.  I was gearing up to start my training for my A-race marathon of the year, Portland, so I need a good shoe to get me through.  They are extremely good looking shoes (yes, that matters to me) and I really love the material they are made from.  It is different from any shoe I have ever run in before.  It is made of material that is hydrophobic (water fearing for those of you that weren’t science teachers in your past) so it is water resistant but still breathes well.  Here is some of the details about the technical information for the shoes from the KSwiss website:

Profile: An innovative light-weight running shoe featuring Blade-Light technology and stability enhancement. 8.0oz, 227.76g.

• Guideglide dual-density construction featuring Blade-Light cushioning and side drainage.
• Superfoam heel crash pad and footbed.
• Aosta II heel outsole and Duraplush forefoot outsole.
• Dynamic TPU arch support and 3D medial posting for enhanced stability.
• Seamfree technology heat welded seamless upper for total comfort.
• ion-mask™hydro-phobic technology for state of the art water resistance. (ion-mask™by P2i)

The fit was excellent.  Lots of room in the toe box which is good for me.  I run up and down hills a lot so extra room in the toe is good for me.  The ankle and heal support is very comfy.  I did a lot of long runs in these shoes and at first my legs were pretty tired after the runs since there was a little less cushion compared to a traditional stability trainer.  But then again, I was doing 20 mile runs, faster than I ever had before (that could have been making my legs tired as well!)

The only problem I had with these shoes is related to how I run.  I am a very heavy heel striker and  as a result I managed to tear off the black sole on part of the heel after 100 miles of use.  KSwiss was very helpful to replace the shoes when I did this.  When I ran the Portland Marathon in these shoes I managed to do the same thing to them again (and after 100 miles).  I don’t think it is a flaw in the shoes but more it is a combination of my running style and the way the sole is constructed.

Ready to run The Portland Marathon

I do have to say, these shoes got me through a vigorous marathon training plan that included four 20 mile runs.  I qualified for Boston in these shoes and then ran another marathon 4 weeks later where I was the 4th overall women and 1st in my age group.  I couldn’t have done that without some good shoes!

2011 Santa Clarita Marathon Race Report

4th OA women, 1st in my age group!

In 2006 the Santa Clarita Half Marathon was the first race I ever ran.  After that experience I started to fall in love with running and have been continuously racing marathons, half marathons and triathlons.  So this year I signed up for the full marathon in Santa Clarita as a back up race if I was unable to Boston Qualify in Portland.  Luckily I did BQ in Portland so this race became a training run for an upcoming 50K as well as a practice in race execution and recovery.

Kwicky Blade-Light Runs laced and ready to go! (Marathon # 2 in this pair!)

I got up race morning, had trouble getting any solid food down but I had an Herbalife shake and some coffee so I wasn’t going into it with a totally empty stomach.  The race start was cold and rainy but that has always worked well for me so I was happy to get started.  My plan was to go out easy and try to get faster as the race went on.  Well as usual I went out too fast but my legs felt so good.

Around Mile 7 I met a really nice guy, Iyob, who I ended up running the next 10 miles with.  Iyob really helped get me through the middle miles because we were talking the whole time(about running of course).  When we got to mile 13-14ish and we ran through the aid station I found out I was the 4th women overall so far!  At this point I started to focus on not letting anyone pass me and hopefully catch one of the other women.

But as the run went on I started to hit the wall hard at 18.  My hips and knees were getting angrier and angrier as I ran on.  Another runner who had been following for awhile caught up and tried to help push me along, but I was fading.  I just tried to stay on top of my nutrition and NOT walk no matter what! 22 until the end were terribly painful.  About a half mile  before the finish I saw my first ever running partner and burst into tears, but I kept running.

I finished the race and found all the people I had been friend-ed by on the run.  We had a big group hug and got strangers to take our pictures.  It was the friendliest race I have ever run.  Not only that, it had the cutest and sweetest kids at every aid station.  I hobbled to my car, put on some dry clothes, and hobbled back to see how I did.  I was thrilled to see I had come in 4th women over all and 1st in my age group with a time of 3:46:04! I made the leaderboard;  I had never done that before!!

So back to my original plan for the race, I totally failed at the pacing plan.  I went out too fast and died the last 6 miles.  But I was much more successful with my recovery this time.  I ate well, often, and very soon after the race.  I also went home and soaked my legs in a very cold swimming pool and then wrapped my knees with Arctic Ease wrap.  Instead of curling up in bed I kept moving; this was the best thing I could have done.  It is two days since the marathon and I am barely sore!  Which is a good thing because I have a 50K in less than 2 weeks!

Click here to see all the Garmin Details…

Marathon #2- New Goals

If you have been following my blog lately you know that in October I qualified for the Boston Marathon when I ran the Portland Marathon in a time of 3:34:43.  This was an incredibly hard race for me.  It took everything I had to run that time.  I am extremely proud of that race because of what I did, qualifying for Boston.  But there are a couple things I did that could stand to be improved upon.  Specifically I went out to fast in the first 11 miles and could barely keep my pace the last 6 miles and I did a terrible job at recovering after the race.

So on Sunday, November 6th I will be running the Santa Clarita marathon.  Since I have achieved my BQ already I have two different goals for this race that I think will help me greatly as I train for an Ironman.  First I want to run each 6 mile segment of the race faster than the previous and then run the last mile the fastest of the whole race.  I am finally seeing the value in being able to pace myself effectively.  This is a skill I must improve at if I want to do an Ironman which will take me anywhere between 13-15 hours.  I usually am pretty good at evenly or negatively splitting a race but this time I want to really try to get faster as the race goes on.

The other thing I want to do (and must do because I have a 50K 2 weeks after the marathon) is take my recovery (immediately after and for the next couple days) serious.  I did a miserable job not taking care of my body (muscle wise and nutrition wise) after Portland.  As a result my legs hurt for days and 4 days post marathon I had to take a day off work just to sleep!  This time I will be prepping a variety of foods to eat right after the race and the rest of the day.  I also plan to do some aggressive icing, stretching, and foam rolling.

Look for a post about Wednesday next week to see how I did.