Monday, March 23, 2015

Shamrock Run 5k Race Recap

Free race photos, and this is the
least horrible one there was.
I decided to do the Shamrock Run just about a month ago, more for the sake of having a race during March, than meeting a specific running goal. I actually did this race as my second 5k, back in 2011. It was ridiculously rainy and cold and miserable. The next year I signed up again, but ended up just walking it with some friends - again, it was rainy and cold and miserable, and that was the best way to make it a relatively enjoyable experience.

So I kind of swore off of it since then. But, this is the year of racing and aiming for new PRs, so why not? The weather this spring has been remarkably dry and mild, but the weekend of the race was rainy. Still a lot warmer than typical, but wet (and then it was the afternoon after the race that we had a ridiculous windstorm).

I found as much green as I could in my running supplies, plus bought a cheap pair of festive socks at Fred Meyer while we were out the day before - unfortunately they really were cheaply made without much stretch, and didn't fit over my thick calves. I didn't think until during the race that I could have cut off the feet and used them as armwarmers.

The Shamrock Run includes a half (new this year), 15k, 8k, and 5k, and the 5k is last (run first, then untimed walked), so I got to sleep in, relatively, and just catch a MAX into downtown by 8:30. When we were almost to the nearest stop, the train crossed the race course, making some 8k-ers stop during the race. Unfortunately there's not a good way to have a race course downtown without some train issues.

It was drizzling but not too cold as I walked to the start line; I wore a long sleeve throwaway shirt, and was fine in that while waiting. Though it's a huge event overall (35,000 people!), the 5k was "only" 11,000, and being almost the last event, the line for the porta potties was amazingly small. I found a set of 6 or 8 with a line only a dozen or so people deep. Got to that spot maybe 20 minutes before the start time, used the bathroom, and got in the start area by my pace sign (9 - 10 minutes) still about 10 minutes early.

I'm probably getting to the point of pushing myself in 5ks enough that I ought to be doing a warm-up mile or two. I was definitely feeling stiff as I got going; that plus pausing briefly to take off my arm-warmers put my first mile a little slow. Or I was just being conservative, let's go with that. My previous PR, set on New Year's, was 31:52. I didn't think I'm quite ready for a sub-30, but was hoping to go under 10:00 miles. 

The second mile was better, right on target. This is a big enough race that the crowd never totally thins out, so I was doing some weaving around people pretty the much the whole time. Despite the start lineup having pace signs, there seemed to be a lot of slower people, doing lots of walking, ahead of me. Then in the third mile there is a bit of an uphill as you turn in downtown back towards the waterfront. I was nearing the top of the hill when I ended up on the other side of the train/runner conundrum. I saw it about to cross from a half block away; I slowed down as I approached and didn't have to actually stop, but sort of lost a few seconds there.



Then, though, you get a half mile or so of downhill towards the finish line. I was pretty happy as I finished, and saw 9:50 average pace on my Garmin! Sadly, my weaving, lack of tangents, etc., resulted in it measuring 3.17 meaning that my actual pace per the official distance was 10:01. So freaking close! Official finish time of 31:07, still good for a 45 second PR. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Hop Hop Half Training Week 6

Workouts

Monday: Easy run 2.4 miles (12:42 pace)

Tuesday: Treadmill run 3.0 miles (12:45 pace) - easy-ish steady pace with random incline

Wednesday: Tempo run 4.35 miles (11:27 pace)

Goal: 4 - 5 miles @ HMGP = <11:30
Actual: 11:25, 11:21, 11:31, 11:25, 11:40

I even chose a hillier route for this run! Felt pretty goodl

Thursday: Run 3.0 miles (11:12 pace) with coworkers + easy run 2.10 miles (13:06 pace) + 1:05 plank + 1:05 wall sit

I meant to do an easy run, but Jessie (fast coworker I've run with a couple times) was about to head out for a run when I was walking into the bathroom to change, and invited me along. She's great about slowing down to my pace (which is still fast relative to me, but 11:xx is typical of what we do when I go with her), but I'm afraid we may have inadvertently hazed our tax intern who also ran with us. Apparently she just started running this tax season! She was clearly working harder to keep the pace than I was (and I was working harder than Jessie), but kept up just fine. I definitely couldn't have done that when I was a new runner!

Friday: Rest day

Saturday: Easy run 3.4 miles (12:46 pace) + tennis (25 minutes)

Sunday: Long run 11.1 miles (13:10 pace)

Goal: 11 - 12 miles <13:00
Actual
1 - 4: 12:42, 12:56, 13:00, 12:55
5 - 8: 13:02, 13:37, 13:39, 13:05
9 - 11.1: 13:04, 13:51, 13:01, 12:40

Oy. Why did that feel so hard?! Too many miles this week, too many fast miles this week, playing tennis yesterday, the couple drinks I had last night? I'm surprised I ended up only that far over 13:00, but may of my other long runs went so much better at a relatively faster pace. 

Total running: 29.35 miles

Skipped weights this week to preserve some sanity. Now onto taper! Two weeks til the half marathon, and three and a half weeks left of tax season.

Friday, March 20, 2015

March PDX Veg Restaurant: Van Hahn

Van Hahn is a Vietnamese restaurant, all vegetarian (and mostly vegan, but not all, in my understanding), run as a nonprofit by a Buddhist temple. They have tofu options plus a variety of mock meats. It's in SE on Division, just a little west of 205, so we met up with a couple friends, L and J, who live in that part of town, for lunch on Sunday.

Website None, but Happy Cow has some menu photos. 

Genre: Vietnamese

Price: Drinks/appetizers $1.99 - $3.99, entrees $7.99 - $8.50, desserts $2.99

Setting: It's a casual setup, in a former house; the eat-in area is fairly small, I think maybe 5 or 6 tables. There's also a deck that appears to offer outdoor seating in nice weather (unlike the day we were there, with a ridiculous windstorm!)

What we tried: J and I both got the broccoli, me with tofu, him the combo (all the mock meats). He also got the pickled lemonade. L got the green beans with tofu. Abe got the special noodles (banh hoi), and a taro smoothie.

The taro smoothie was amazing! I liked my entree too. Served with rice, it was just broccoli and tofu in a sweet-ish sauce, a simply but satisfying stir fry.

The mock meats were... interesting. Honestly, in my haven't-tasted-meat-in-15-years opinion, they are really quite similar in texture and appearance to the real thing. Not so much you couldn't readily tell the difference, but at a glance or first bite, a satisfactory substitute. If, that is, you want a substitute and to feel like you're eating meat. I do not. But if you're an omnivore that wants to cut back, or transitioning into a vegetarian diet, these are probably a very good option. They were close enough, for my senses, though, to be a bit freaky.

Overall impression

The food was good. I don't know if I'd say it's spectacularly better than any other Asian restaurant, but it was good. The mock meats were of a high caliber, if that's something that appeals to you.

I really appreciate and want to support their mission, both the non-profit/temple connection and being exclusively vegetarian. And what I've read from multiple sources online is that the people working in the restaurant are volunteers from the temple. So to truly complain about their service seems extremely rude and disrespectful. 

But, there were difficulties with the service. We had to flag someone down (or even go to the kitchen doorway) to get their attention to order, get boxes, and get the check. At no point did they refill our water, or check on how things were. The server didn't speak fluent English, so asking for additional information about anything was hard, and some of the descriptions on the menu weren't quite complete or consistent (for example, some items said "mock pork", others just said "pork" - we were fairly sure there wasn't any actual meat in the restaurant, but it'd have been nice for everything to be labeled as such). 

I understand that running a successful business isn't their goal, so quality customer service might not seem crucial; but it seems to be that having better customer service would help them promote their mission, and still be worth investing in. I don't think I would ever eat in again, but would certainly be open to getting take-out if I were nearby.

Would I take my parents?*: No. Any Asian food genres aren't really their thing, combined with the service-related issues, it wouldn't be a comfortable place for them. 

*Scale: Heck no. No. Probably not. Maybe. Eh, yeah. Yes. Definitely. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Hop Hop Half Training Week 5 & NROLFW Phase 2 Week 2

Workouts

Monday: Easy run 3.05 miles (12:51 pace) + NROLFW phase 2 workout A

Tuesday: Virtual 10k race in 1:10:26 (11:21 pace)

Goal: 10k @ < 11:30 (HMGP)
Actual
1 - 3: 11:00, 11:20, 11:23
4 - 6: 11:32, 11:25, 11:34
6.2: 2:08 time for 0.2 - 10:35

Wednesday: Unplanned rest day - Though Tuesday's "race" was challenging, I didn't feel too wiped out physically (the next day, my legs did feel tired but not quite as sluggish as I'd thought they'd be), but mentally I needed a day where I just didn't have to do anything in my limited time after work. 

Thursday: Easy run 2.2 miles (12:49 pace) + NROLFW phase 2 workout B

Friday: Run 2.5 miles (12:33 pace) - easy with some strides

Saturday: Rest day

Sunday: Shamrock Run 5k in 31:07 - 10:01 pace! Not quite to my sub-10:00 pace goal, but so close! and a PR nonetheless.

I planned to do another 6 - 8 miles to get a better "long run" total mileage for the day, but I just couldn't get myself out the door. I couldn't do it right after the race, as we had lunch plans with friends, and by the afternoon when I had time, it was really ridiculously windy (like, lots of power outages across the city, kind of windy). I still could have gone out, it wasn't unsafe, but it made a nice excuse.

I still have next week to get in a really solid 11 - 12 miler, and then it's taper! I think I will back off a little on my goal for this race, and based on it goes get closer to 2:30 at Hippie Chick in May. I'm now leaning towards only doing the half in July (when I was thinking of a full), and do Portland as the full marathon goal, in October. It's a little iffy scheduling-wise, which I won't be able to finalize until much closer, but I think I can make it work. I really love the idea of the Portland Marathon, and beyond not feeling ready to do a full any earlier, the idea of a marathon finish line, that wasn't that finish line, was making me sad. 

Total running: 17.05 miles

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Race for PAWS Virtual 10k Race Recap

Earlier this week I participated in my first ever virtual race - Kristina's Race for PAWS. I'm glad to be supporting an internet friend and a really great cause I believe in (a no-kill animal shelter); plus I got to practice my pacing and beat my 10k PR!


Source

One of the awesome things I realized about a virtual race is that if you're having an off day, it's ok! You can have a do-over and try the race again later. I was going to do the race as my long run last weekend - it was a cutback week, so just 8 - 9 miles; add a mile warm-up and cool-down to the race distance and it'd be perfect. 


But I didn't just want to get in the distance, I was hoping to use the opportunity to practice pacing at my half marathon goal pace, and beat my 10k PR. My first attempt was just a ridiculously off day. My legs felt so sluggish; I simply could not get them to move at a reasonable pace. I slogged through the distance, but wanted to do something better - both as a point of pride to submit something better for the race, and the practice of holding my goal pace.

I gave myself a couple days to recover, and headed out for my race on my dinner break from work on Tuesday. This afternoon/early evening time is a peak energy time for me, and I think the effect of drinking caffeine throughout the day on a workday is probably helpful too!

There are two main directions to run in from my work; one is rather hilly (which I've been trying to do more often, for the training benefits), the other is relatively flat, so I picked that one for the race! Basically an out-and-back, with a little extra loop around the block to start out with to get the total mileage. (Yes, I know technically a 10k is a smidge over 6.2 miles. I care more about getting "even" (multiples of 0.05) mile distances than being that accurate.)



I headed out way too fast in the first mile; this felt like a hard pace to maintain - I kept dropping to around 10:00 (5k pace) or slowing down to 12:00 (long run/easy-ish pace). Staying in this middle pace, not that fast but not too slow, was more challenging than I'd expect.

Next couples miles were right on, and felt pretty good - challenging, but not dying. I saw some of the peacocks out. After turning around, it started feeling more challenging. By the end I was definitely wishing for it to be done. Finished in 1:10:26 (11:21 pace), beating my official 10k PR by the tiniest smidge under 5 minutes! That 10k PR was just last summer - and I'm pretty sure the effort level was similar, if not a bit harder, than what I did for this run. I've definitely done more training, rather than mere running, since then, and it seems to be paying off.


I'm glad I took the opportunity to practice goal pace. It was doable, though I'm also doubting whether I can truly hold this for twice the distance. I think I need to do at least one more tempo run longer than my typical 4 miles, to work on sustaining the pace. Perhaps I need another interim step for the half marathon, hitting 2:40-ish before working all the way down to 2:30? I think this establishes that I should definitely be more conservative in the first half of the race, to avoid blowing up, but it might be possible. This practice made me both more sure and more nervous about it. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Hop Hop Half Training Week 4 & NROLFW Phase 2 Week 1b

Workouts

Monday: Easy run 3.0 miles (12:58 pace)

Tuesday: Speedwork run 4.1 miles (11:24 pace) + NROLFW phase 2 workout B

Goal: 0.5 warm-up, 4 x 0.5 @ 9:00 with 0.25 recovery, 0.5 cool-down 
Actual
0.5 warm-up: 12:42
4 x 0.5 intervals: 8:49, 8:59, 9:02, 9:26
4 x 0.25 recovery: 13:09, 14:53, 15:53, 14:48
0.6 cool-down: 12:37

Wednesday: Easy run 3.0 miles (13:22 pace)

Thursday: Tempo run 4.0 miles (11:16 pace)

Goal: 4 miles @ HMGP = < 11:26
Actual: 11:19, 11:09, 11:23, 11:13

Friday: Planned rest day

Saturday: Unplanned rest day

Sunday: Run 7.25 miles (13:01 pace)

Goal: 1 warm-up, virtual 10k race @ <11:30 pace, 1 cool-down

Uh, yeah. That was a ridiculous struggle. I've been tired and stressed, possibly fighting off a cold, it was ridiculously nice out - so almost too hot, undercaffeinated. It was all I could do to keep myself moving forward at any pace, much less the pace I was aiming for. This was going to be for Kristina's virtual 10k Race for Paws, but this was just not what I wanted to do for that. 

Total running: 21.35 miles

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Hop Hop Half Training Week 3 & NROLFW Phase 2 Week 1a

Workouts

Monday: Easy run 3.0 miles (13:04 pace)

Tuesday: Speedwork run 4.0 miles (11:35 avg pace)

Goal: 0.75 warm-up, 2 x 1 mile at 5k goal pace (<10:00) with 0.5 recovery, 0.75 cool-down
Actual
0.75 warm-up: 13:03
2 x 1 mile: 9:31 (!!!), 9:44
0.5 recovery: 14:55
0.75 cool-down: 13:07

New adult mile record! Was 9:5x - I think 9:51? 

Wednesday: Very easy run 2.0 miles (13:52 pace)

Thursday: Run 4.15 miles (11:57 pace)

This was kind of a hybrid workout. I wanted to get in some tempo miles at half marathon goal pace. I also wanted to do the HIIT workout that's part of the NROLFW workout B for this phase. (Though this wiped me out enough to not do the lifting part of workout B that night, and I didn't get around to it later in the week either.)

Goal part 1: Warm-up 3 min, 4 x 1 min hard (<9:00)/2 min easy, cool-down/transition 3 min
Goal part 2: 2 miles at HMGP = <11:30, 0.5 cool-down
Actual part 1: 1.5 miles (12:10 pace)
Warm-up 3 min: 13:12
4 x 1 min hard: 8:38, 8:02, 8:25, 8:22
4 x 2 min easy: 14:40, 14:26, 13:34, 14:00
Cool-down/transition 3 minutes (plus 14 sec to round mileage): 14:16
Actual part 2: 2.65 miles (11:49 pace)
2 tempo: 11:22, 11:24
Cool-down: 13:10

Friday: Rest day! 

Saturday: Long run 11.05 miles (12:40 pace)

1 - 4: 12:37, 12:38, 12:51, 12:44
5 - 8: 12:59, 12:40, 12:34, 12:39
9 - 11.05: 12:46, 12:20, 12:33, 0:41 time for 0.05

Damn! My half PR is a 12:57 pace, so doing a long run, at an easy-ish long-run-pace under that? I'm very proud of myself! Enjoying the beautiful sunny day and distracting myself with podcasts (a new thing on long runs - mostly Freakonomics and Wait Wait Don't Tell Me) certainly didn't hurt, but this never felt truly hard. 

Sunday: Easy run 3.1 miles (13:32 pace) + 1:15 plank + 0:50 wall sit

Total running: 27.3 miles

Based on my current 5k time, according to the McMillan calculator I should be able to run a mile in 9:10, and a quarter mile at just over a 7:30 pace! I'm currently running those distances at NOT those paces! But inching ever so much closer.

Though I've been pretty steady at just under 60 hours per week at work for the last month or so, it's felt harder to squeeze in more things around it. The cumulative effect of that workload over time adds up to it feeling more stressful, I guess. So I've been dropping more and more of the crosstraining stuff. Hitting my mileage is my highest priority, followed closely by the NROLFW strength training. Swimming, biking, and yoga would be nice to do, but there's a point where it's more stressful to make it happen than the workout would relieve. 
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