Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Long rest

I really did need to rest after the last 5K. My left knee began hurting, and I was afraid of causing injury by exercising on it, so I've taken off about two weeks, with one or two short jogs in between. Today I'm going to run with a friend, if she's up to it (I don't know if she likes cold-weather running), or run on the track. I'd like to get back into the habit of running at least 4 times a week. I'll be more careful about stretching, though. It was the outside of my knee that had been hurting, which appears to be iliotibial band syndrome. I'm not certain that's the problem, but if it is, the solution is to stretch the iliotibial band, and I notice that I had been neglecting that stretch for a while.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Not a PR, but close

5K Time: 26:45 Pace: 8:36
Yesterday's race went surprisingly well. It was about 30 degrees and windy, but the course was fairly easy, and I almost equaled my PR of 26:37 from August 2007. Best of all, I came in 1st in my age category, which was a great ego boost. I'm very excited about improving my mile time now. This week I will be taking it easy to give myself a rest, but I intend to do a lot of running this winter.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Race day again

It's two weeks to the day since the trail run, and I'll be running another race, a 5K. It should be easier than the trail run, since it's shorter and I've been running consistently in the past two weeks (I finally got a reflective vest), although I don't think that I'll be setting any PRs. I ran another 4 miles last week, and it was even slower than the race had been. I've also run on a track and timed my mile splits, and they were slower than I usually average. Next week, I'll keep up the training, but scale it back in terms of mileage and intensity to give myself a rest.

Monday, December 1, 2008

My first trail race

4 miles in 37:49. That's 9:28 per mile. It's not too bad, but it's not great. What is great is that I met my goal: I set out to place in my age group, and I came in second out of six runners in that group.
This was the first trail race I've run, as well as the first 4 miler. My previous 3 races were 5Ks. I knew that this one would be tough, not only because it would be a little longer, but because of the terrain. It was, as I was afraid, a pretty tough trail, with a lot of sand. Most of the path was covered in pine needles, which was firm and easy to run on, but every patch (and often stretch) of sand was a workout. It was raining, which isn't exactly comfortable at the end of November, but I think that may have helped to firm up the sand a bit. In any case, it was quite a challenge for me. I got lucky that the other runners in my age group weren't a lot faster, but reaching my goal has motivated me to continue with my running and maybe work on speed for another 5K. I just checked a listing for local races and there's a 5K nearby in less than 2 weeks. If I'm not scheduled to work that Saturday, I'd like to run in it...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Countdown Begins

Only three days to go before the race, and I'm a little nervous. I left all of my running gear at home this morning, so I can't run after work. I guess I'll have to make do with the treadmill tonight, since it's too dark to run on the roads around my house without a reflective vest (which I really need to get soon).

I read an article written about last year's race that has made me nervous about not being prepared for this run. It describes the course as a "tough 4-Mile Trail that took them through rough sand, sharp turns and over a couple tough sand hills (including Sugar Loaf)." Sand hills? I have no experience running on sand. I've tried to prepare myself for high-stepping over tree roots and running around turns, but who knows how agile I'll be after that many miles over that terrain.

I'm also concerned about the temperature. I live much farther north than the race will be, so it will be a little warmer than I'm used to, but the report keeps changing every day. Right now, it says that the low for the night before is 45 and the high for that day is 56. I'll have to bring all of my gear just in case the report changes again.

Here's a map of the park where the race is held. And here's a photo of a sand ridge from somewhere in the park. Also, here's a little more info I dug up on the web:

"Sugarloaf, a 50-foot high relict sand dune near the bank of the Cape Fear River, is part of an east–west ridge of sand dunes formed thousands of years ago during the late Pleistocene epoch. Gradually trees and grasses stabilized the dunes by holding the sands in place. The massive sand dunes reminded early settlers from Barbados of the mounds of sugar at their home port, and the name “Sugarloaf” stuck. Today, Sugarloaf is a part of Carolina Beach State Park. Sugarloaf appeared on navigational charts as early as 1738 and was an important landmark for river pilots."

Apparently, Sugarloaf dune is the only elevation on the trail, which is a relief to hear. I've looked at some other pictures and it really seems very scenic, and not to mention entirely new. Whether or not I perform well in the race, it is a new adventure for me.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Eowyn Challenge

In August 2003, at the height of "Lord of the Rings" movie hype, I came across a website called the Eowyn Challenge. The challenge was to set and reach fitness goals with the support of other LOTR fans. The main event of the challenge was called the "The Walk to Rivendell", which entailed walking, running, biking, etc. for 458 miles, the equivalent of the distance from Hobbiton to Rivendell in Middle Earth. Over 5 years -- and several thousand miles -- later, I am still on the road to Rivendell, setting new goals and challenges. I began by walking, and eventually I got back into running, which I had all but abandoned in the year preceding my discovery of the Challenge. Now I've run in three 5Ks, and my current challenge is a 4-mile trail run in a few days.

I began training for this race a little over three weeks ago. At that time, I had planned for sprint workouts and long runs incorporated into my training. First the weather didn't cooperate, and then, on my first sprint workout, I hurt myself, despite a careful warm-up before the sprints. That set me back a lot. I've done a couple of 4-mile runs over the past few weeks, but my usual every-day run is only 2 miles. I'm averaging about 8-minute miles on those runs, and I hope I can hold that pace for the full 4 miles. I am going to run another 2 miles tomorrow and just walk on the next two days before the race. No matter how I do in this race, I hope to continue running consistently throughout the winter, when I usually slack off.