Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Best Running Buddy

As I re-started the Project 365, I took some shots of Bourbon The Dog after our Sunday run.  He is the cutest little thing always ready to go, he does most of my training with me. Open the full post for more photos :) 

Monday, February 27, 2012

VŠ liga 10km Race Report

This "University League" monthly race is a great way to test your actual form on regular basis. As you might have read in my race report from the January edition, I did quite struggle last time I ran it. And this weekend was another try to do better. Mainly by not going all out at the beginning raising my heart rate to the sky :D How did it go? I PRed again, but came in fourth among the women this time. If you want to know more (like why this photo???) keep on reading. You can also check all photos in my previous post.

We have been spicing up my training with The Coach in the past few weeks, so naturally both of us were curious on how would I do in the race. I was aiming bellow 47 minutes for the 10k, but with strong emphasis on not overspeeding the start. The limit was around 176 BPM for my heart rate in the first part of the race. My heart rate was kind of too high in the easy warm up jog, so I was not sure how fast was I going to be able to go with the heart rate limitation. My Garmin file is kind of screwed up, because even though it was saying it has the satellite reception, it actually did not for the first 600-800 meters. But still you can see that I more or less achieved my targets.

But before all of that there was quite significant "bump" on my road. After few hundred meters the race course leaves for some part the cycling/walking/running path on normal road and there is this barrier - the red and white pole you can see on the photo. I was checking my non-GPS-tracking Garmin while listening to an annoying sound of a jacket of runner just behind me and then BAAAANG. I ran with my left thigh directly in this pole which kicked me down and threw me on my right hip. We were still in quite a crowd after the start and I think that all the runners around me were more shocked than I was. Sorry about that guys. I jumped up and kept on running, told myself that if something hurt too much, I was gonna stop. Fortunately there was no need for that. But if you have heard the irony noise of the bang ...

OK, back to the race. I went strictly under or around 176-177 BPM for the first four kilometers. Just after the fourth km Martina was waiting for me with my Isostar. How cool is that??? She thought the race was on Sunday, realized it was Saturday less than an hour before the start and still raced her bike to come and cheer me up. Thank you sweet Martina! :) Ok, so after the drinking and the slight hill, I held my HR under or at 180 until the turn around point (which is somewhere between 5th and 6th km). After that, I just tried pushing little by little to go faster and faster at least a bit :) After the turn around I slowly approached a male runner ahead of me and it seemed he did not want to let me go easily. I made the wise decision of not trying to overpass him and we made a pact without saying a word to pace each other for the rest of the race. I think it helped us both a lot. He overpassed me in last few hundred meters - but come on, he is a guy, so he is supposed to do so! Thank you stranger for helping us both achieve a better time!

My great on course suppporter - Martina :)
What was it? 46:57 ... 3 seconds bellow my target time. OK, I was hoping for a slightly better time, but given the fact that at least 10-15 seconds were lost on my fall and I don't know how it might have influenced my overall performance. I am more than happy with how I did. I am getting curious on the target time The Coach sets for me for the Prague half on March 31 :o

For the rest of the weekend I was tempted to take it very easy on Sunday, but then I told myself that it was only a practice race and I already had two days off in the week (yes, playing squash counts as a day off from running). I managed to get in the 8.7 miles (14 km) at 8:41 min/mile (supposed to be 8:43 min/mile = 5:25 min/km), it wasn't all easy, but damn it felt great after finishing!

What was your weekend workout???

Friday, February 24, 2012

It Ain't Always Easy

Quite outdated photo from 2009 by Lada,
it reminds me of the importance
of looking ahead in the right direction.
Idea of writing this post came in last Monday during my 15 km run. Since "It Ain't Always Easy", I did not find time to finish it until now. I was too busy working, running, taking photos and having fun on snow with two cutest little creatures in the world. And then Janae posted about our Fear of Failure and Perfectionism. Sometimes I think Janae can read my mind. What is this about? About the reminder to myself that through running I am constantly challenging myself which helps me in becoming better person.

It was my mid-distance, average speed run - not the fastest, not the long slow run. 9.32 miles (15 km) at 8:59 min/mile (5:35 min/km) pace. It is kind of slow even, but honestly, it was a tough run. Over the winter months, we concentrated on building a solid base at slow paces in order to let my body recover after the NYC marathon and all the training and troubles that preceded it. And I kind of got used to the training that ain't that difficult. The paces felt more or less easy, of course the weekly sessions with The Coach were tough, so were the hills, but that is given period of time, given set of repetitions. I can cope with that. Though honestly, the sessions with The Coach at 6:30 am in the darkest winter months - not much motivation and enthusiasm from my part. I am over that trouble, The Coach is hard on me, but I tend to feel better during the training with him.

Back to the last week's run. It was almost 90 minutes - one and half hours. Quite a long time of not feeling at ease, comfortable like I am having things under control. On the other hand, there is the feeling that comes when you finish such a workout. Or even before that, when you are still running, but you already know that you will finish the dreadful workout at given pace with all the required distance under your belt. Yay! The more I am thinking about it, the more I think that such workouts when you are not absolutely at ease feeling great are more valuable than anything. Honestly, I do not want to run my races at an easy pace, I do care if my result is the best I can do. I am still slow enough to set new and new PRs and I am not afraid to admit that :) Yes, I am a competitive crazy hot pink runner!

So how did the week turn out? It turned out in my highest weekly mileage ever, which is 58.08 miles (93.47 mi). You can see the Garmin weekly summary below (click on the picture to see the detail):

Being not always easy continued when I got the new training plan on Monday from The Coach. Monday should have been a day off after finishing the 7 training units in 8 days with only one session with The Coach in between (= no day off), but I played a little squash finally. OK, so I got the new plan with new speed workout - in the last one there were 8x 600 m for the speed work, now I got 10x 800 m at crazy fast pace. I texted The Coach asking if he was sure about the pace for the speed workout, he promptly replied that yes, he wants to spice things up and add intensity. I got a text later, correcting the time for 800 m, the correct time is 3:35-3:45 per 800 m = 7:30-7:14 min/mile pace (4:40 min/km - 4:30 min/km). I was little afraid, but fortunately I read great Janae's post and running psychology article at Behej.com (sorry in Czech only) and both helped me to get mentally ready for the workout. Here are the splits from Garmin and bellow the pace and hart rate graphs:

We discussed my training schedule for this week with The Coach since there is another 10 km race of the "University league" - VŠ liga this Saturday. Which meant for me doing the speed workout right next day after the session with The Coach (included 2x 800 m as a test). I was allowed to go down to 8x 800 m if I felt too tired. I had the hesitation for a moment to do it that way, but finally managed to kick my own butt and finish the last two reps as the fastest ones. (The first two ones do not count, since I they were little bit shorter.) I am running the 10 km from a full training, but still we added day off yesterday, I went to sauna and got a massage. Physiotherapy today morning and a pre-race tuning run planned for today evening. We will see tomorrow where I got from my last attempt in January.

Short reminder: I made it to the final of the "Best Czech Running Blog" here at Leona's blog. Thank you for voting for me in the first round!!! You can still support me in the finals :) What is more important, I would really appreciate your feedback. Let me know what are you interested in, what are your ups and downs and what would you like to read about?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! I know it is a more or less commercial kind of holiday, but I like to think about it as a reminder that any day is great to express your feelings and appreciation to the people you love. I do not mean by buying stuff and silly Valentine's day special editions of chocolate. Simply calling a friend and saying that you care is a great way to celebrate your relationship.

I am attaching two videos down here to illustrate the atmosphere. The first is in Czech (sorry my English speaking readers), but I think it can be hilarious even for the non-Czech speaking crowd :) I would like to thank my dear friend Katarínka for sharing the video with me - it made my day!!! The second is my all time favorite Something Stupid ... though I prefer the original version by Frank and Nancy Sinatra.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Best Czech Running Blog

You can vote for the Best Czech Running Blog here at Leona's blog, the link includes rules of the competition and the voting pole on the left side of the site. I hope that my English readers will excuse me, the link and competition is in Czech only.

Have a great week running!

You've Got a Mail !!!

Not much to be said. Friday mail pleasantly surprised me :) Brought sweet memories of the great November day when I ran my first marathon (the NYC marathon it was). Nice service, well paid in the registration fee though.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

I was a very very very good girl and will be mainly posting from this very cute baby! :)
Yes, I am an Apple addict and I am proud of it.

Guess what day was today??? 

Hint: I am officially another year younger :D

Thursday, February 02, 2012

YAY for Two-a-Day!

It has been some time since I was able to squeeze in two running phases of training. So I am sharing my happiness with you. 6x 500 m intervals in the morning and tempo 5 km (3.11 miles) in the evening. I actually quite enjoy running in the crazy freezing weather we have here in the Czech Republic right now: -14° C (7° F) in the morning -11° C (12° F) for the evening run. I know this might not be so cold for someone, but it is kind of freaking cold for us. Two-a-days are great, but also tiring, so it's hitting 9 PM and I am heading off to sweet dreams place of my bedroom.

Good night and good luck! Happy running everyone!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Thank You for Running

More precise would be perhaps labeling this post "Grateful for Running", but like its' sound this way better. Yesterday evening was the moment when I definitely appreciated the most my unconscious decision to take up running. At least concerning the rememberable past :) Things aren't great right now at many different levels, but it is the running that keeps me sane, shifts my outlooks towards the positive tones and gives me energy to get up and continue the everyday battle for a meaningful and fulfilling life I want to live. If you had told me back in 2009 that I would be heading of for a more than 10 miles (17 km) at 9 pm winter evening with -6 degrees Celsius, I don't think I had believed you... Yet there I was, running at a steady pace, acquiring the peace of my mind with every single step, every moment my feet touched the ground, every breath. Thank you for bringing running in my life! I hope I can pay back by motivating at least one of my friends or virtual friends to take on running and become blessed as well with the great benefits running has for you.

There is one more thing that I am grateful for today and that keeps me sane. It is my interesting, motivating and fulfilling job that gives me purpose and distracts me from unwanted wanderings of my mind. Fortunately by diving deep in my work, I do not have the capacity to let my mind create crazy scenarios like some of the Desperate Housewives do :) I know there are many inspiring women as Amanda and many more who I respect and admire for their capacity to be great moms, runners, readers, writers and many more, but there are also many others who should take them for an example.

Once again thank you for running! 

What do you appreciate the most about your running???