Thursday, April 26, 2012

Back to "racing" . . .

My first road race of the year is coming up, although I use the term "race" loosely. Over the winter, I registered for this Sunday's Race to Stop the Silence 8K as a way to keep myself somewhat accountable and to make sure that I didn't go into June's North Face Endurance Challenge 10K completely unprepared. So instead, I'll go into this weekend's 8K unprepared.

"Training" for the 8K began right after I got back from Oregon in the beginning of the month (see "eking out what I can from the 2011-2012 ski season"). I'd be super motivated on Mondays to wake up and run. And practice yoga in the evening. And I'd do both. Then I'd plan on heading to Pilates Tuesday mornings, but instead, I found myself hitting snooze and convincing myself that rest was better for me. Wednesdays, I taught yoga in the morning and had every intention to do speedwork in the evening. Except then the afternoon would arrive, and I'd be dead tired, so I'd scrap the speedwork. Then on Thursdays, I'd be scheduled for another evening workout, but because of other yoga commitments earlier in the day, I was – you guessed it – too tired to run. Notice the theme: unbalanced yogini! Ahhh! Strike a tree pose, quick!
Finally, Fridays would come along, and between Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, I crammed in all the missed and scheduled runs. Then I'd feel so bad about beating up my body that I'd take a couple yoga classes over the weekend, too. Rinse and repeat for three weeks. Obviously, this is not ideal.

Then last week, I amazingly got in a tempo run only one day off schedule. I completely scrapped a scheduled weekday run, but over the weekend, I got some things dialed.

First, I received bodywork, sort of. On Saturday, I went to a Yamuna Body Rolling workshop at one of the local yoga studios. Whoa. It's like foam rolling, but with a softer apparatus, and for the entire body. The instructor's eyes lit up when I told her I was a runner. This was a good thing. She showed us a number of techniques for working on muscles along the spine, hamstrings, quads, calves, and glutes. What more could I possibly ask for?? 

The other thing that I tried out over the weekend was a long run in a new locale and with a group! On Sunday, a local running store – Potomac River Running – and Saucony hosted a trail run with sample Saucony Peregrine 2 shoes for people to try out. And, not so coincidentally, the run was at the location of the North Face Endurance Challenge. Given my propensity to take wrong turns on trail runs when left to my own devices, I had already intended to check out the 10K course at some point before the race, but this was serendipitous. Who cares if it was over a month before race day, and I'll probably forget everything between now and then? I could kill 3 birds with one stone: do my longer weekend run, try out trail running shoes (which I don't own), and check out the course. It even stopped raining for the hour that we were on the trail.
I swear this was a group run. There's just no one around me.
And I look knock-kneed.
Check out the fancy sample Peregrine 2s on my feet!
So the verdict on last Sunday is that for the longer run, the group pushed my pace, but that's not a bad thing. For the trail race course scouting mission, I really have nothing to compare it to, but I was struck by how long it took to get to the singletrack, probably to space out all the runners. As to the Sauconys, I didn't get blisters, so that's a plus, right? And, they're purple! They were lighter than anything that I've run in, and my left arch (because my body is imbalanced that way) felt somewhat unsupported. I don't think they're the right shoe for me, but they've definitely turned me on to finding a grippier (and lighter!) shoe for the trails.

With only four weeks of haphazard training, I'm not expecting the upcoming Sunday to be anything more than a timed run through a small section of the city. I expect to be faster than I was at the Jingle All the Way 8K (same course), but then again, at the December race, I basically had a conversation with my running buddy, so being "faster" is not a stratospheric goal!

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