Em oi! #314: That Old Rivalry

So The Birds wasn’t really a scary movie by the time I’d saw it.  The zeitgeist had moved on and people expected their films to look more realistic (and more realistically colored).  But having a red-winged blackbird come down on your head?  That’s scary.

Bryan: I would have paid money to hear that scream.

Emily: If you’d been outside, you would’ve.

RWBBs are about the size of robins and fairly aggressive between May and September (the nesting season).  They usually don’t go after people in pairs, but they will attack a solo jogger.  Bryan only runs with me, so he’s never been the victim of this sort of attack, and I think he thinks my enmity is a bit much.  But then again, I have rather long, thick hair and he doesn’t.  If a bird lands on his head, it will hurt, but there are no chances of…entanglements.

This comic gets the LCC number:

QL795.B57 L86 2010, for Zoology–Animal behavior–Stories and anecdotes–Special. By common name of animal, A-Z–Birds.

Marathon Wrap-Up

I can’t believe it has taken me so long to get to writing about this.

In short, the first 15 miles were great – very fast.  I hit the 13.1 mile point in 1:58:something, faster than I’ve ever run a half-marathon.  Despite the fact that I was having stomach cramps from the shot bloks I was trying to eat, I had a great time.  Then, somewhere between 15-17 miles in, my left knee’s iliotibial band began to ache, a pain which only got worse over the next several miles.  By mile 23 I was nearly in tears, hobbling through Crystal City and wondering if I was going to have to walk the last three miles.

Fortunately, after I stopped to stretch several times, the pain began to recede and I was able to lurch back to a run (though my stomach protested with a wave of nausea that slowed me down again).  I finished in 4:20:34, about 20 minutes faster than my first marathon.

Lessons learned:

  1. Marathons are about dealing with the unexpected.  As a runner, I tend to have tunnel vision – I like to do things by my plan and not deviate from them.  While running a marathon, things will come up that need to be dealt with immediately.
  2. I probably went out a bit fast.  Should have reined myself in a little until the 5k mark.
  3. Should have ditched the shot bloks (which I hadn’t used much in training) and brought another GU.

All the speed work I did leading up to the big day totally paid off.  I’m pretty glad of that.

T-4 days until the Marathon

The average daily temperature in Madison has been about 40 degrees, sometimes cooler during the time that I have been out running.  There were even a few flakes of snow when I was out doing 13 miles two weeks ago.

This coming Sunday, the temperature in DC is forecast to be 62.  I am in so much trouble.

When ultrarunners are training for some of the more extreme races (races like the Badwater which goes through Death Valley, CA, or the Western States, which is known for its temperature extremes), they do what’s called heat training – wearing long sleeves and trousers even in warm conditions, sitting in saunas, driving around with the heater on (during the summer, mind).  The idea is to raise your core temperature up to what it might be during the event so you can start to get used to it.

When I first realized what the temperature differential was going to be, I started trying to do something similar – running in long sleeves, a sweatshirt, and tights even when the weather was in the 50s and I didn’t really need these accouterments.  But when it’s 35 degrees out (thank you, bank clock in Verona), will the concept really work?

I suppose we’ll find out on Sunday.  I have a couple of advantages working for me: I have a strong base, having run about 40-50 miles per week since January, and I acclimate to heat a lot more readily than most people.  My goal is to come in right around the 4 hour mark, but finishing at all will be great.

I think in general it should be a better race than last year.  Here’s hoping, anyway.  We fly out Friday morning.  Wish me luck!

Running in Outer Space

“…If I travel but four foot by the squier
further afoot, I shall break my wind.”

–Falstaff (1 Henry IV: II, ii)

You can stop at red lights, but then keep running again when they turn green.
You can stop at red lights, but then keep running again when they turn green.

I ran 20 miles this morning.

There’s something weighty about the distance itself, quite apart from the pain it inflicts.  Twenty is such a large, round number, a distance often driven and rarely traveled afoot.  In America, where people rarely put shoe leather to paving stones, I doubt most people understand how far 20 miles actually is.  I wonder if three hundred years ago most people would have known someone who lived farther than, say, 50 miles away.  And yet it’s a requirement of modern society that we be able to travel and communicate across these distances at great speeds on a daily basis.

For fun, take a look at these two graphs:

Total Milage per Week 2008
Total Mileage per Week 2008

This is a graph of my total mileage from 2008 with three points marked:

C: The week I injured my ankle and had to take several days off (this follows a half marathon and my black belt test, so I’d been putting it through the wringer).  My marathon training really began after this.

A: My peak of 64.1 miles, reached the week of 31 August.  Also the week before I met the guy who’s now my fiancé.  Coincidence?

B: The week of the marathon.  I ran 42.5 miles that week, though a little more than half of that was the marathon itself.  This is because I don’t know how to turn it off, even when I’m supposed to be relaxing.

Training for 2009
Training for 2009

My average weekly mileage is a lot higher, although my long runs are generally shorter (I’ve only done one twenty-miler so far, compared with four before the marathon last year).  I’m also doing a lot of speed work (it helps that my training partner is working on improving his 10k time), so my runs are getting faster (instead of the 12 minute miles I was running in 08, I’m doing mostly 10s and 11s with a handful of 9.5s thrown in – a marked improvement for me).

Although I’ve been running for years, I’ve only really been doing serious distance since Fall 2007 (when I ran my first 10k).  It’s really interesting to see how my running has changed over time.  I’ve been routinely hitting close to 50 miles per week for half the year (my standing goal is “at least 36”).  I’ve also noticed that while my absolute minimum for a run (that is, the minimum I had to run to feel okay) used to be about 5 miles, now it’s between 6 and 7 miles.  Any more and  this is going to start cutting into my life a lot…I guess it’s a good thing I’m getting faster.

The marathon is 25 October, a little more than a month from now.  I think I’m ready.