Tuesday, February 9, 2016

I am Old Lady, Hear Me Roar - Roaring Run Half Marathon

This past weekend I ran the Roaring Run Half Marathon to see what 13 weeks of training and medication could get me. Well, it got me a strained right hamstring and a finishing time that didn't mesh with my goal time! 

Three weeks ago, I ran the Cascade Half Marathon at a controlled effort for a 1:26:44 finish. I thought three additional weeks of training along with a "race day" mentality (including a bit of a taper and better pre-race nutrition) would allow me to run ten seconds per mile faster for a 1:24:30 finish (6:27 pace), for my second fastest half ever, which would be a good accomplishment in my book (my PR came in 2013 when I was running out of my mind and I am not sure I will ever be able to equal that effort). I actually think it was a pretty reasonable goal and in line with my fitness. Unfortunately, I got a little too fired up early on and deviated a bit from the plan. (That's a euphemism for "I went out too fast and screwed up the pacing"). 

Two women were out front together early, chatting away at 6:10 pace. I knew better than to stay with them, but I stayed a little too close especially as the first two miles went downhill. I backed off but only to about 6:20 pace - still faster than goal pace. By mile 7 my hamstrings were sore and cement like and the pace slowly dribbled into the 6:40 range for a 50 second positive split and a 1:25:18 finish. Oops! At the time, I thought my hammies were just suffering from the hot early pace, but afterwards it was clear something wasn't right. My right hammy and right foot were in a lot of pain. My planned five mile cool down lasted all of 0.2 miles. On the bright side, I was at the front of the line for the potato bar! 
Covered bridge over the Roaring River
Saturday after the race, my kids were in a piano competition. Liam was up first and he totally choked. He left the stage in tears. Afterwards, I tried to tell him that we all have bad days and that I didn't have a very good race that morning. "Yeah, except nobody cares about running, Mom. It's just a stupid race!" So as you can see, there is no good reason for me to get too upset about my race! Megan didn't have her best day either, so no real shining stars in our family for the weekend, but we are getting out and trying and that's what counts.
How Liam really feels about the Bach festival: "Sucks big time". Hahaha!
Despite missing the goal, I am still quite encouraged. Aside from the hamstrings, I felt great. It was an "old lady PR" (PR post-40) and a master's win. (The two fast women went on to take 1st and 2nd overall). I know I could do better, but I am not a half marathoner and am not too hung up on what I could run. I think of endurance fitness as having two main components: a cardio-vascular component and a musculoskeletal component. With asthma, my CV fitness got so bad that I really wasn't taxing my musculoskeletal system and that fitness withered away. But with the asthma under control, my CV fitness has improved tremendously and now my musculoskeletal system needs to catch up. Strength training has always been an important part of my training because I think it helps so much in keeping the musculoskeletal system strong enough to endure the stress when the CV system gets in really good shape. And the weights don't lie: last time I was at the gym, I struggled to deadlift 155#; at my peak I could DL 200#. Now that this base/half-marathon phase is over, I know I need to get back in the gym and get strong again! But this week, I'll be babying my leg and not doing very much: ultra-marathon phase starts next week and I need a healthy hamstring for that!
First Old Lady!
We ended the day with peanut butter pie for Mac's 42nd b-day. Pie is good for aging husbands, sore hamstrings and crabby little boys. :)


Rob said...

Is that the eye of Sauron burning a hole into Bach's head?! Poor guy, I'm sure that was a growing experience but hard to process in the moment.

Still a faster time for the half and encouraging to see you're able to give an all out effort again. Even Krar has off days! Not that Liam gives a flip about some "old guy" running races.

All the best.

-(Still wannabe) Rob Krar

Pam said...

Thanks, Rob (Krar ;). Yes, good learning experiences for all, but sometimes those are not so fun in the moment!

Unknown said...

Playing the piano in public constitutes many of my worst childhood memories. So bad.

Do you fit 'endocrine' into your fitness model? I'm trying to figure that one out because I want to be running ultras in 30 years.

Pam said...

Luke - We are sensitive to the whole piano recital trauma: my husband quit piano because of his first recital! Liam has been playing for three years and this was his first one. We do think he needs some motivation to work hard, but we also want it to be fun for him. We've already said it'll be at least 6 months before we even think of putting him in another one and hopefully we can find some that are more low key. Hard to know what's the right thing to do!

Your endocrine question is a good one and a topic I have been interested to write about several times (if only there were more time in the day!). I absolutely think the endocrine system is critical to optimum health. But I don't think Health and Fitness always go hand in hand. In fact, a lot of times they seem to be at odds. Look at top athletes suffering from stress fractures, burnout, or a hormone problem like Ryan Hall. And how many of the women at this weekend's Olympic marathon trial do you really think are having regular monthly periods?? So I consider the endocrine system more of a health component and not really a fitness component. Particularly I don't know that the endocrine system is "trainable" but rather by improving CV and musculoskeletal fitness, you reduce the overall stress on the body and demand on the hormone system.

Unknown said...

It certainly is the topic du jour with all the high profile OTS or other burnouts going on. I was afraid we'd lost you too which is why your being able to tie it back to a specific condition and responding to the corresponding treatment is excellent news. I'm sure you're pleased as well!

I would love to read anything you had to say about endocrine 'fitness'. I think the idea that it can't be trained might be at least slightly dogma shattering (cracking)? When you get past the 'train hard to run hard' platitudes and address specific physiological adaptations in response to training that's always been a big part of motivating the long run (4+ hours). It's also underpinning the conventional wisdom that endurance gains, and the losses, are slow relative to cardio and musculoskeletal. Probably not necessary to explain that one, but it always fit together for me.

Pam said...

Sorry, yes - I do think the endocrine system makes adaptations to training and so your training can/will effect the endocrine system, but what exercises would one do to increase testosterone, or thyroid levels, etc.?? I don't know of any way to "train" your endocrine system to do what you want or to somehow get the endocrine organs to perform better. That's more what I meant by "not trainable."