Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Move It Memphis 10K Recap

I traveled to Memphis to spend this past weekend eating and running with the best friends a girl could ask for. Seriously these girls are amazing.
With bellies full of yummy food from the night before, we woke up Saturday morning to rock the Move It Memphis 10K! Our pre-race game faces: Kara was ready to crawl through her 5K, I was channeling my favorite one-armed runner, and Nora planned on high-fiving everyone.

I am one lucky girl to be friends with a speed demon like Nora. I'm not just bragging- she actually won 1st place in her age division last year! She so kindly offered to pace me during this race, and I nervously agreed. I also agreed to run "naked", aka- no Garmin or watch to track my pace or time. Eek!

The weather could not been more perfect- cool and sunny with a slight breeze. Nora lives just a few blocks from the starting line so we ran to the start to pick up our race packets and circled back to pick up Kara and eat a quick breakfast. With a start time of 10:00, we had plenty of time to relax!

At the start, I told Nora that I would be happy to average a 10:00 minute pace, but she could push me a little towards the end. We bid Kara good luck on her 5K and lined up at the start. We started off strong with a slight conversational pace- Nora later told me the first mile was approximately a 9:30, and miles two and three were slightly over a 9:00 minute pace.

I remember at mile three I felt tired but knew I could keep the pace. My legs felt fresh and Nora's stories kept my mind occupied (She seriously talked non-stop for 6.2 miles and I loved every minute of it). Nora told me that, if I could keep this pace, I would be really happy with my time. She also said that she was going to keep pushing the pace, especially the last few miles. I was tired, but I trusted her.

Miles 4 and 5 were kind of a blur. Nora's stories are a little hazy at this point and I was just thankful for a fairly flat course.

The last half mile was horrible. The pace was hard but it was the constant turns the got me. I seriously feel like we turned 5 times before the finish line finally came into sight. Nothing is more mentally exhausting than thinking the finish line was around the corner, just to find another turn.

But when we crossed the finish line I was shocked by the time. Official time: 57:38! A new PR!
This picture cracks me up! I'm literally gasping for air while Nora is leisurely checking our time.
(Thanks Donna Manley Photography for letting me display my official finish)
 57:38 people!
That's a 9:17 pace!!
While it definitely wasn't a fast race for Nora, I set a PR! Kara rocked her 5K as well!
Our interpretation of the race: Nora cheering while I grin and bear it! Totally worth the pain in the end!
What I learned this weekend:
1. Having friends who share your passion is the best. Also having friends who share the same bedtime of 9:30 is pretty amazing too.
2. Running with fast friends make you run faster. This only makes me wonder how fast I would be if I could run with Nora all the time.
3. Ice cream is not always the best pre-race meal. 
4. Running "naked" is awesome. I will definitely start doing this more. While it would be nice to look back on my spits, it was freeing to run solely on feeling.  

Best Girls Memphis Weekend ever! 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Love Me Some Yasso

Since my resignation of running the full New Orleans marathon, I have been embracing my new found freedom. More time on the weekends, shorter runs during the week, and quicker recovery all around. Since I am running less miles, my focus has turned from quantity to quality.

One thing that was left behind in my marathon-training-dust was speed work. I simply could not recover enough from my long runs in time to bust out speed sessions; my legs were just unable to handle the demand. But now that my longest runs are 10-12 miles, I can easily complete a recovery run the next day with speed work in the days to follow.

A workout that I have fallen in love with is the Yasso 800s. This speed work was invented by Bart Yasso, who is one of few that has completed races on all 7 continents, countless ultra marathons (50+ mile races), completed the Ironman five times, and cycled, unsupported and by himself, across country twice. This man is a monster.

Yasso 800's are incredibly simple:

The intervals should consist of 800 meter runs (or half a mile/ 2 times around the track). If you're aiming for a 4 hour marathon finish time, then run your 800 meter interval in 4 minutes. Jog for another 4 minutes and then repeat by running another 800 meters in 4 minutes. Do this until you can do 10 total repetitions in a given workout. After 2 or 3 months of Yasso 800's, along with your typical marathon training schedule, you should be prepared to charge the marathon and complete it at your target pace based on the Yasso intervals. -Source-
My speed work this week, which I completed on the treadmill, looked like this:

1 mile: Warm up jog
.5 mile (aka: 800 meters): 8:50 pace
.25 mile: Recovery walk
.5 mile: 8:50 pace
.25 mile: Recovery walk
.5 mile: 8:50 pace

.25 mile: Recovery walk
.5 mile: 8:50 pace
.25 mile: Recovery walk
Total miles: 4

I completed each 800 in 4 minutes, 25 seconds. The goal is to push yourself, but for it not to be insanely difficult. Each week I'll add another repetition, making it a little harder each time. 

Even though I am not running the full marathon, the concept still applies. If the Yasso theory hold true, once I am completing 10 repetitions by the end of my training schedule, I should be able to meet a goal time of a 2:10 half marathon (and a 4:20 marathon...someday). 

The downside? I just started these so this will likely not affect my pace during the New Orleans Half Marathon. I've come to terms with the fact that, since I have not been doing any sort of speed work over the last 15 weeks, I will probably not set a PR. But oh well, whatcha gonna do?

Tell me if you attempt any Yasso 800's this week and let me know if you love them as much as I do!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Naked Face far

At the beginning of February, I decided to participate in The Naked Face Project by locking up my makeup for the entire month. 

Going to bed January 31st, I was nervous and anxious knowing I had to wake up the next morning and go to work with a "naked" face. At 6:30 the alarm buzzed and I jumped right out of bed. I showered, blow dried my hair, and then...I was done. It wasn't even 7am yet!
Man, I could get use to that routine! No styling of hair. No make up. Quick and easy! So much extra time in the morning!

The first week was a little awkward for me. People at work kept saying: "Have you gone tanning? Your face is really red!" -No I just have really rosy cheeks, but now I'm blushing. "Something is different about you. What is it." -Oh you know, I'm not wearing makeup today, or tomorrow. Get use to it. "Are you not wearing makeup, cause I can really see your freckles." -Yes Sherlock, I have freckles.

It has now been 15 days since I wore make up, and I must say it is quite nice! My skin is incredibly soft and getting ready is such a breeze! Also, I love the fact that I can wipe my eyes without worrying about smearing anything. However, I still feel like something is missing when I see myself in the mirror, especially when I go to work or dress up for church or dinner with friends.
But I'm really enjoying this project! Each day I am becoming more comfortable with my "naked" face and I'm loving it more and more. It is oh so freeing!

YAY for growing and pushing yourself! And YAY for improved self esteem!! 

Monday, February 13, 2012


I've been dreading writing this post. Avoiding it like the plague. Pretending like it didn't exist. That I could just ignore it and no one would notice. Maybe no one will. That would be nice...

For the past 15 weeks I have logged over 240 miles training for the New Orleans Rock N Roll Marathon. I started off training in October super excited about the possibilities before me. Quoting myself (can you do that?), "Food will be for fuel. Sleep will be for recovery. And I will be counting the waking hours until I can pull on my Asics and hit the pavement."

I had some great runs:
10 solo miles where I pushed myself to go further than scheduled, and

proving to myself that I can run faster than I think.

I even proclaimed that 2012 was going to be the Year of the Marathon.

But oh, how the mighty have fallen.

It is time to confess that I am no longer running the full New Orleans marathon. I have given this countless hours of thought and consulted multiple people. While advice and opinions vary, my feeling towards running the full 26.2 miles has not.

Training for this marathon has been less than stellar. Early on, sickness and a minor injury set me back and I've been playing catch up since. I haven't been running the weekly mileage I should have been and my training has felt rushed.

Additionally, these past few weeks of running has been tortuous. I've been dreading all my runs and it was no longer fun for me. Although I am already logging 18 miles for long runs and only have 3 weeks to go until race day, forcing myself to do something that I dread will only result in injury or burn out.

Despite my long runs being accomplished (and productive)

they haven't been efficient or acceptable in my book. I realized I didn't want to "merely finish" my first marathon. I saw myself run/walking the last 6-7 miles solo and that seemed purely miserable.

I'm downgrading to the half and I am completely stoked about it. I'm not saying I will never run a full marathon, but now is not the right time. I miss loving to run and I feel completely relieved to have the pressure off of me.

Say hello to the new, carefree, running Alex. It is so very nice to meet you!