13.1 miles, 21.08 km: berliner halbmarathon

so i signed up for the Berliner Halbmarathon, aka the Berlin half marathon, on April 5th. today I jumped into a 12 week training schedule (pdf of my training plan here, created with the nike+ site which i don’t especially enjoy using), a week and a half late. after last year’s 10k training (blogged here here and here), it’s nice to be back on some sort of prescribed workout plan. this morning i had to replace my garmin forerunner 50’s battery, (followed this) as well as my pedometer foot pod’s battery. today i tried out my new running gloves for the first time, they made such a difference against the cold. here is a shot of the ice from my run today:

but luckily it was just a three mile jaunt, not a 7 miler like tomorrow has planned. the half marathon will be the longest race i’ve ever run (and trained for), and i’m hoping to have fun in the process! also i am back on the less-of-a-crummy-diet bandwagon: less booze, less junk food vegetarianism, more protein and veggies and rice and all that good for you stuff. rumor is we are getting an elliptical trainer at the office this month, so i will be able to log the shorter runs at work.

6.2137 miles


[Photo by Tomas used under an Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Creative Commons license]

it’s been two months since i ran the avon frauenlauf, but i have managed to sporadically tie on the running shoes and get out of the house since. i didn’t beat my time from the last time i ran a 10k, but i almost tied it. the race i was trying to beat was the 10k new york run to liberty which i ran in 2002 in 57:24. at the avon frauenlauf two months ago i clocked in at 59:23. all in all, i started the race way too hot, hitting some sub 8 minute miles according to my garmin. by the time mile 4 came around there was no way i was keeping it up and i hit a big fat wall. i also forgot to drink my caffeine before the race (i had stopped drinking caffeinated drinks a few weeks before).

the race killed me a bit mentally, but since then i’ve had some time to reflect. i hadn’t run regularly since 2002 and the training schedule i started in march to train for the 10k drastically changed that. even though my race wasn’t a great success, the training meant i ran in some pretty awesome places and with some great people including: next to an agent from langley on a treadmill in vancouver while the snow was pouring down outside, a half dozen times around green lake in seattle, with melanie and her forerunner 205 while she was in berlin (run data), and my favorite, the johnstone trail. sometimes it’s hard not to get caught up by a goal. when other runners say the journey is the part that counts, try to listen.

today i managed to get myself outside to run for the second day in a row. my goal was to run longer than yesterday’s run (3.5 miles) and to run some negative splits (where the pace gets faster later in the run). i achieved both: 6.3 miles total distance, lap one pace at 9’55” minute miles, and lap two pace at 9’30” minute miles. to attempt to counteract my running plateau i’ve been trying some new things as well. firstly i’ve been drinking a sports drink while i run. i didn’t think i would like it, but after reading the evidence in Performance Nutrition for Runners, i thought i should at least give drinking while i run a try. based on the chart of pros and cons of sports drinks in the aforementioned book, i am drinking efs (no not the encrypting file system). efs comes in a few flavors; i’m using tangerine because it doesn’t contain sucralose. at first i found the taste really repulsive, but now i actually enjoy sipping it cold while i run. it hasn’t been enough time to see if it really is helping my runs, but i have been less sore after long runs where i’ve sipped along the way. the second change i’m making is to add in a bit of resistance training to my workouts — nothing drastic, just some basic crunches, squats, lunges and bicep/tricep curls.

right after my race two months ago i considered signing up for a half marathon sometime in october. i didn’t find any very local to me, so i may wait to see what my travel schedule dictates at that point. for now i’ll settle for running three to four times a week and increasing my distance. at least i can say with certainty that running is back in my life.

running running running as fast as we can


so with five weeks left to got before my race, i seem to have developed some sort of injury to my right quad, but i still managed to kick it into high gear today for some interval training. i thought i’d blog a bit about the garmin forerunner 50. (it is a non-gps based wireless device). i have the version with a foot pod pedometer. i grabbed it while in seattle and used it to clock my pace around green lake while i was there. it works wonderfully as a watch based pedometer for pace and distance. it doesn’t however, work so happily with mac or linux or bsd (yet. apparently mac software will be out at the end of this year). secondly, for doing something like my interval training of today, it isn’t so handy. it isn’t easy to switch between miles and meters for speed work, neither is it easy to track “x distance in x time” because the timer function only shows in timer mode which doesn’t let you watch the distance scrolling by. also, as far as i can tell, when you use the lap function while training, it doesn’t show you the current distance of the current lap. i could be wrong about this, but it certainly isn’t intuitive in the design. i was looking forward to the new garmin forerunner 405 gps based watches coming out in june, but if they are as stupid as this watch at interval training i think i will skip them completely. i hope garmin surprises me in a positive way. oh, and some way to get my data off the watch without running windows would be fabulous as well.

[photo: me running the johnstone trail near inverness, california this march]

my shadow weighs 42 pounds

running shoes

the pic above is a vintage one, of pre-camera-owning me in april of 2001. at the time i was in great shape, and i still considered myself a long distance runner. seven years later, it’s a different story. a little over two weeks ago i calculated my bmi and my bfp. the scary thing is, for the first time (i think), i am officially in the overweight category for both measurements. as weird al says, You know I’m fat, I’m fat, you know it. i freaked out and in my pudgy haze i signed up for a 10k race in may here in berlin complete with an order for a championchip timing thingy. next i checked out the nike running online training tools that i had been meaning to try for over a year (a friend of mine helped design the site, warning: coded in flash). i put in my desired pace, my running level, and my race day and out popped a training plan. (note: keep the interface with weeks starting on sunday otherwise it is kind of wonky.) so has it worked? has my auto-generated training schedule and the fact that i signed up for a race in may helped? the answer is: so far so good. it has been two weeks now and i haven’t missed a run and have logged all the mileage on the training schedule. (16 miles/25.5 km the first week, 18 miles/29 km the second).

i have blogged before about running tips and such, but there are a few more “mods” that i use when i run. i hate it when keys or zippers clank and jangle during a run. i use a hair rubber band on my keys and electrical tape on the zipper pulls to dampen the sound. secondly, i safety pin the rubber-banded keys to the inside of a pocket so they won’t accidentally fall out when i run. in the summer i tie the keys into the tie on my shorts and some of my shorts have built in key pockets. i also hand-sew some mini pockets into the inside bottom corner of my zip hoodies near the zipper. one mini pocket is for paper money, the other is for the keys. i use spring loaded toggles on my shoe laces, and then tie the ends to the front of my laces and tuck in the excess. i hate having shoes come untied (once my cross country team lost the qualifying race to go to california all-state by 2 points because one girl on my team had her laces come undone, ever since then i only do toggles), and it’s much faster to shoe-up and get the lace tension right with the toggles. more recently i have had the need to calculate distance, and someone asked me how i know how far i’ve run. i’m waiting on the garmin forerunner 405 to come out this summer, and i’ve ordered the forerunner 50 (no gps, just pace and distance from a foot pod pedometer). in the meantime, there are a bunch of google maps / click-the-route-calculate-distance mashups, this one is fairly intuitive (here is my 5 miler from this week, the park is the one pictured here below: volkspark am friedrichshain).

fernsehturm sunset

so my goals are to get out of the obese category and to beat my last 10k race time (my last race was in 2002, ouch! it’s been a while). as of this week, i am just out of the overweight category with regards to bfp, but for my bmi i have about three kilos left to go. (my overall goal is to lose 15.5 pounds/7 kilos and lower my body fat percentage by six percent). i am considering starting a separate fitness log/blog, but that will have to wait until april i’m afraid. other soldering matters are at hand.

giving you the run around

beach peace

if you had known me in high school, you probably would have described me as the loner geek classical music girl who ran on the cross country team. i “starred” at counties my junior year, which means i came in the top seven (i was seventh) in the women’s division during the county meet. everything was pretty much downhill from there, not an easy run but a sort of degenerate spiral of non-achievement as far as running was concerned. what with the veritable fatblogging fiesta going on, (major shout outs to J-Dawg, Scott, and C.K.), i think it’s high time i share a few tips with all those who think running is hellish and a really awful way to get fit. [let me just take a second here to say that: a. i do not have any license to practice sports science, b. i have never coached an individual in any sport, c. nor do i guarantee you won’t hurt yourself, proceed at your own risk]

that said, i have been running for a long time (since i was 11 or 12), and when i started out i was the slowest on my junior high team, and since then i managed to run in the “point counting” part of my team for five years. besides all of those speed things, what i love about running is the zen aspect, you get out there, you feel crappy, your day isn’t going well, a great pair of shoes puts a spring back in your step and you groggily sneak your way to your favorite place to run. the pavement or the dirt fuels your pace and you start to forget the less savory thoughts you were thinking minutes earlier. you zone out and start to forget the people staring at you and you really don’t give a flying freak what that guy in the suit thinks about your jiggly thighs. the hill that you make your way up forces you to concentrate on your stride — you keep your foot fall length consistent even as the slope veers quickly from molehill to mountain. you reach the top too soon and realize you completely lost track of time and you concentrate on your breathing as you start the descent. a river of relief flows over you and you hit the running zone.

ok wait wait wait, rewind, before that fairytale of a run, there are a few preliminaries to keep in mind. first of all, shoes are your friend. i know it sounds basic, but if you want to enjoy running, your feet and knees and shins need to enjoy running as well. my number one tip about running shoes? you never need to break in a pair of running shoes. in other words, a pair of running shoes should be comfortable from the first moment you try them on in the store, if not then they aren’t for you. if you are in doubt, many reputable running stores (not huge sports shoe outlets, a dedicated running store) have free fitting services whereby the specialist will find out if you pronate, supinate, have a wide foot, your general stride, and suggest some shoes that will be best for you. if you are nervous, go to more than one of these places and get a second opinion. secondly, just because the shoe is more expensive (or a more palatable color) does not make it a better shoe for you. trust the fit not the appearance nor the brand name. if you do find a brand that consistently works for you, then that’s fine, but don’t just go for the priciest pair on the rack thinking they will be the most comfortable to run in. thirdly, i always grab running shoes with removable insoles (the foam insert inside the shoe) that aren’t glued down. this is for multiple reasons, first it will make adding custom foam under the insert possible (which i do in a DIY fashion because otherwise my toes curl when i run). secondly it will allow you to more easily wash your shoes with the inserts separated in a washing machine (note that laundering running shoes should only be done on a cold gentle cycle, they should always be air dried and washing shoes repeatedly will cause the foam and rubber to wear out more quickly).

more in the next installment of running with fabienne. until then, get outside and go for a run.

[pictured above is shell beach in inverness, california. running the johnstone trail down to this beach in the early morning is in my top five favorite runs of all time.]