Wednesday, January 29, 2014

13 miles

I ran 13 miles today for my long distance run of the week. I am racing in the Antigua Superyacht Challenge this weekend and I'm not sure I'll have time to run 13. The run was out and back around Willoughby Bay. I did my bike workout yesterday and my legs were hurting more than I thought they would. I started well but started having doubts around mile 4. I toyed with turning around at 5 miles and wrapping it up at 10 miles instead. I stopped and stretched at 5 and talked myself into another 1/2 mile before turning around. The sun was setting as well and I wanted to run the final miles around English Harbor. I ran well after the turnaround and felt pretty good through mile 10. I turned past the road to home and continued into the village for mile 11. My legs were screaming at me and I turned around before the clock hit 12. When I reached my house, my watch read 12.5 I gave myself the ol' are you really going to quit with 1/2 a mile left?! lecture and continued past my gate. I finished the 13. My legs are killing me but I feel good that I ran the whole way even with multiple points of doubts. My pace was 9:03 and I finished the run in just under 2 hours.

While I was running I started thinking about the fact that I now have this goal to run 30 miles and many of my daily decisions revolve around my training. The decisions that I make about waking up early, eating breakfast or not, having a beer after work, all of these now have to do with when and what I'm running or training that day. It's kind of nice to have something to base my week around. The training asks for only 3 days of running and I'm finding it strange to think about doing other forms of exercise.
 I have always run as my primary exercise because it is easy to do when I am traveling. I only need my shoes. I don't need a gym or pool or a bike. I can do it pretty much anywhere. With the training schedule asking for 2-3 days of cross training I have to find time and the means to bike, row or swim. Swimming is taken care of, seeing as though I live on an island in the middle of the Caribbean, I just have to remember to pack my swim suit and goggles and go before or after work. Biking is possible at the gym here at the Yacht Club on an old stationary bike they have in the basement. Adjusting my thinking to include these other works outs is harder than I thought. As I settle into the routine it will get easier, it just feels funny right now on the days that I'm not supposed to run. My first instinct, the one that hates being told what to do, is to fight the training program. Don't tell me when I can and can't run! If I feel like running I'll go running! My second instinct is to go back to bed when I wake up early to run and realize it's a cross training day. I'm very good at convincing myself that I won't have time to do the workout, get home and shower and still get to work on time. This week I swam after work on Monday and biked in the gym on Tuesday. I'm looking forward to finding my rhythm with running and cross training. Next week I will definitely separate the bike from the long run so my legs are more fresh.
Right now I need to stretch some more, 13 miles is soo much more than 10!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Mostly Flat

The training program that I am following is the Runner's World Run Less, Run Faster program. The emphasis of the program is 3 hard runs and 2 sessions of cross training in a given week for 16 weeks leading up to your race. In the book they have training programs for the 5k, 10k, 1/2 and full marathon, as well as tips on cross training, fueling, stretching, etcetera.
The three key runs each week are; a long distance run, building miles each week, like any marathon training, a repeat run ideally on a track of repeats at race pace, and a tempo run of a few miles slightly slower than race pace.
Today was the first day I did a run from the training schedule. I set out this morning with my Nike+ watch to map out someplace where repeats were possible. There isn't a track close by and finding flat road can be difficult around here. I headed over the hill to the beach to measure out the parking lot there. The road along the beach is a lot shorter than I thought and is only about 200m long, not so good for mile repeats, I'd be turning around so much I would probably fall over!
Today's work out was 3X1600 with 400m rest intervals. As I write this I realize I had it in my head that the work out was 4X1600 with 200m RI and that's what I ran. whoops.
Since there wasn't enough distance along the beach I ran to the harbor started my timer outside of the Yacht Club. The road is flat as you head out of the village all the way to Cobbs Cross and I ran my first 1600m in 8:11. I was aiming for 8:20 and trying to get all 4 repeats to finish within a couple seconds of each other. My second mile was from the Cobb's Cross Corner down the road to St. James. Now when I say the road from town and to St. James is flat I mean Mostly Flat. Like how Wesley was mostly dead. There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there's usually only one thing you can do. Go through his clothes and look for loose change!" There's a big difference between flat and mostly flat. The road to St. James is mostly flat which is slightly uphill. I ran my second and third repeats on the same stretch of road. I ran the second 1600 in 8:30 and my third in 7:30. That is the difference. Slightly uphill means slightly downhill on the way back. My final 1600 took me back past my house in 7:40.
I cooled down with a walk to Genny's store to buy some juice to rehydrate. I drink watered down juice instead of sports drinks and find they are full of sugar and vitamin C. When I'm running any kind of distance and it's hot I crave lemonade like crazy. Maybe it's all those laps from Portsmouth to the Wentworth and back ending at the juice stand. All I know is after a hot run there is nothing better than wicked cold lemonade! There is no lemonade here but they do make yummy local juices with mango and passion fruit and guava. I grabbed a couple of those and headed home to write this blog.
All in all I had a great run, misread the training plan, did an extra mile and didn't run them in the same time at all. I guess it's only day 1 but I feel good about the whole thing and I have a nice cold glass of Caribbean Medley juice and water next to me. :)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Sources of Inspiration

I needed a good run today. Work has been pretty hectic and between a few different boats and islands for the past month. Last night I finally arrived back in Antigua where my duffel bag lives and it felt nice to be 'home'.

I ran a few times over the past week. I was on charter but I managed to squeeze in a run in Jost Van Dyke one morning. I ran over the hill to Great Harbor and later that afternoon I ran on Norman Island on what little road is left from an intentional development that fizzled out with the market crash. I left the BVI on a boat headed to St. Lucia. The wind direction is pretty far south at the moment and we were almost heading up wind the whole way. The trip took ~36 hours and we arrived into Rodney Bay early Monday morning. Tuesday morning I woke up early, still on delivery schedule I guess, and headed down the dock for a run. St. Lucia was where we finished the ARC and where my first run back was so awful. 12 days at sea is no good for the legs, remember. It felt good to be running the same road with strong legs. I ran out and back for 6 miles at an 8:57 pace. The next morning I woke up and ran the same course but with a slower pace of 9:30. I had been excited to go running when I went to bed and woke up well rested and ready to go. I headed down the road with my eye on my pace and just couldn't shake the slower pace. I couldn't figure out why I was so slow. I wasn't tired or sore. I was well hydrated and had eaten dinner the night before. My back was hurting again which may have been a factor. I decided to accept the slow pace and to tack on an extra mile to the run. If you can't build speed, build distance, I guess. The road I was on was really lovely and wound through some of the nicer neighborhoods in Rodney Bay. At the end I ran around the parking lot a couple of times to get a final distance of 7.5 miles. All in all the run was fun, just a little bit frustrating. That afternoon after work I flew to Antigua.

Back in Antigua I had a day off to sort through life-y things. I moved some money between accounts, checked in with some friends on Facebook and through email, and even joined Linkedin. I have been stewing over a job offer for a couple of weeks now and had to make a decision by the end of the day. For some reason I just couldn't decided what to do. I went back and forth and back and forth again. Take it, don't take it, take it....Don't take it. I decided to decided after my run. It was almost 4 when I finally got out the door thanks to my little sister's motivational speech. "You might find a sign on your run to tell you what to do." Good call, Jules. and just in case I didn't find a sign, I downloaded a new Rock My Run mix with super pop-y, up beat, happy songs (Thanks for the membership, Jules!). So with the fast beat tunes and Jules' encouragement, I headed up to Shirley Heights and I was headed there fast! I put on my Merrill's for the first time in awhile and felt light and free. Even though I was heading up hill my watch had me doing just over 8 minute miles! I was breath hard and sweating a lot! As I neared the top I felt myself slowing down. "Oh no, keep going, come on legs!" and just when I couldn't  seem to get back up to pace a yacht captain ran past me. "Come on, we're almost at the top." He said as he went by. and I thought "Yea! We are! And I have way more in my legs than I thought!" So I raced him to the top, swung around the taxi turnaround and flew back down the hill. I stopped off at my apartment, grabbed my backpack and headed to the beach for a sunset swim and cool down.
A great run and a great way to end a pensive day. I read in a book once to "ask nothing of your running and you will get plenty in return." I needed a good run after my slow pace in St. Lucia and my decision making day and I had a great one. I'm excited and ready to enter week 1 of my marathon training. This weekend marks 16 weeks until my birthday and my 30 mile run. YIKES! Good thing I have so many great sources of encouragement and inspiration; my sister, my iPod, fast super yacht captain guy and inspirational running book.
Here's my little inspirational thought; if you're hemming and hawing about going for a run, get out there and do it. I have never regretted going for a run but I have regretted my decision Not to go for run.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming....

I'm back out on charter and haven't had the chance to run very much. I have been swimming everyday around the boat and for some reason swimming doesn't entice me to blog quite as much as running does. I'm pretty sure I'm a slow swimmer but have never done a race or tri to compare to other people. I swam 0.67m today along the coast of Cooper Island in 30 minutes. That makes my average mile swim pace around 45 minutes. I don't even know how people calculate their swim pace. I imagine it is not in minutes per mile or every would be so discouraged they would jump out of the water! I also have trouble relaxing and zoning out while swimming, which is probably the reason I don't think of stunning blog subjects along the way. I don't relax because when I do I forget all the little things that make you a strong swimmer. If I start looking at the sea grass under me I forget to kick my feet. When I realize I am not kicking I focus on that and forget to keep my fingers together and my arms long. Basically I have to think about every stroke while I swim. I haven't been swimming for as long as I have been running so I chalk it up to not having enough practice. Don't they say you need 10,000 hours of doing something to be really successful at it? I don't think I've done anything for 10,000 hours, perhaps that is why I am not incredibly successful at anything particular.
Swimming is fun though, especially in the Caribbean. It's warm and windy and there is often a lot to look at under the water. Two nights ago I swam a couple laps around the boat before sunset and I saw two sting rays and a barracuda. Yesterday and today I swam mid morning at Cooper Island and saw all sorts of pretty shells in the sea grass and some fire coral and fish by the rocks at the turn around. I do actually enjoy swimming I just have trouble doing it for more than 30 minutes. I also don't know any good swim workouts so I just swim at a consistent speed around and around the boat. Swimming through mooring fields is pretty dangerous because of all the dinghy traffic and I get too nervous to have a good workout.
Though I am enjoying swimming it is always nice to have the opportunity to run while on charter. I ran on our first morning out up the hill at Peter Island but we have been staying on the outer islands, many of which don't have roads or trails. This evening we are moored in Soper's Hole and I managed to get off the boat while everyone was showering and having sundowners for a run along the coast road. It was a beautiful run, right before sunset. My legs felt fresh and it felt good to push it pretty hard. I forgot my running watch on my friend's boat last week before charter and I have been running with just my Casio. I ran out for 20 minutes and back trying to keep my pace up. It felt pretty good to map it on MapMyRun and see that I was running at an 8 minute pace. Even my pace up the hill on Peter Island on Sunday wasn't too bad. It's a pretty steep hill and I averaged around 10:30/mile. My legs and lungs are feeling strong and even my back has stopped hurting! I feel like I'm coming back into my stride after so much time away from running consistently. My 16 week training starts the last week of January with a 13 mile LSD. I am heading back to Antigua after this charter and am looking forward to running there. Though I love spending time in the BVI, training in Antigua is a little easier and there are more routes to run.
Here are the maps of my swim and run today.


And here are a few photos I have taken recently of the BVI.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Can an uninspired run lead to inspiration?

I know it's Friday and all and my post should be an ultra inspiring, uplifting post to roll into the weekend but I'm really just not feeling it. Maybe it is because I work on opposite schedules to most normal people and instead of a slow Saturday morning I actually start a week of work tomorrow. My friend, Jillian, always writes a Feel Good Friday post on her blog. In honor of that I tried to curb my really terrible horrible no good run into something positive this morning.

I woke up feeling achy, tired and uninspired. I debated with myself about going running at all, but seeing as I won't have a whole lot of opportunities this coming week, I pushed myself out of my bunk and pulled on my running shorts. I touched my toes and headed down the driveway of the marina. Legs felt heavy, back felt tight, just all around "ugh" feeling. I said to myself "just get in a few miles, I'll do some push ups and sit ups when I get back. Maybe go for a swim later. Stretch it out." I slogged along for my one mile warm up and stopped and stretched. Looking around for inspiration to get through the next couple miles, I gazed out over the channel. The sun was just above Dead Chest and Peter Island and the sky was a cool yellow gray color. The breeze has dropped a little but is still cranking down between the islands, keeping everything nice and cool in the mornings. As I looked back toward the road it hit me. Telephone poles! Nothing beats a good old Fartlek drill when you can't get moving. I would do a mile of poles and turn around to finish with 4 miles total. My intervals were short in 3 speeds. The mile went by quickly and loosened me up quite a bit. While running yesterday I took notice, as I always do, of the trash lining the side of the road. I have been running on the Coast Road in Tortola for the past couple days and, more than other places that I run, it bugs me to see trash right next to the ocean, about to go in to be gobbled up by an unsuspecting turtle and dolphin. I decided to search out a plastic bag, there is always at least one, and fill it as I turned around and jogged back to the boat. There is a one mile stretch between two dumpsters so I would have a place to dump it on my way through. I filled the first ice bag with bottles, cups, straws and other random pieces of daily life. Just when I was running out of room another plastic bag appeared and I continued to fill that one too. I found an empty gallon water jug and some plastic sheeting. I filled both bags, dumped them in the dumpster and headed back to the boat feeling like my little good deed did very little in the grand scheme of things. Those two little bags of trash barely nicked the surface of the amount of junk along the road, hidden in the mangroves and gutters. I have a secret little hope that, though I looked like a crazy bag lady collecting trash and running down the road, someone on their morning commute saw me and think twice about their plastic cup while they are sitting at the beach drinking a pina colada this weekend.

So this isn't the feel good Friday post I was hoping for. I know a few of you are running post baby and struggling through achy yucky runs. The important thing is that we're struggling through with little baby steps that feel insignificant. Because I love parallels I guess I could say the situation with our environment is the same. I have to make myself believe that little baby steps like picking up trash will eventually make some sort of difference. That's my Friday message, it's not a feel good one but a do something to make some good happen. Order your drink without a straw, pick up that trash that you see or bring your coffee cup with you instead of using a take away. Running, the environment, it is all about little steps, take a few this weekend.

These were taken in the harbor in Rovinj, Croatia and of the local dump in Vis. The way they dispose of trash is very similar here in the islands. Pile it up and when it's really big, burn it. No surprise that some of it ends up in the sea.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

goal setting and pace time

I have been reading Run Less, Run Faster as a training guide for this whole crazy endeavor. For Christmas my sister purchased the digital version as a Kindle book that I can read on my computer and iTouch. I don't really have a mailing address so receiving gifts and mail doesn't happen very often in my world. Thank goodness for our digital solutions to everything! I am using the guide as a 16 week marathon training plan ending on May 17. My 16 weeks start the last week of December and I have been using my time now to gear up for that. They have you jump right into the training and at the end of my first week the distance run is a 13 miler. The training platform is based on running 3 hard, quality runs per week with 3 days of cardio cross training using different muscles to your running muscles. I think the cross training and more focused runs will be a better fit for all of my island hopping and sailing. 
One of the prominent  themes in the book is the goal setting. They break down the 5K, 10K, 1/2 and full marathon into tables of 10 second increments. The coaches keep insisting that in order to set an appropriate goal you can't focus on a nice round number for your mile time. I had never really thought about it that way before. I was definitely mentally aiming for "around 8 minute miles." Since I have been traveling a lot I have not been racing all that much and don't really have an idea of my 5k race time. The last race I ran was a cross country 1/2 in the Marin Headlands out in California. It was a very hilly course with beautiful views. Though I was well prepared for the race and had run each part of the course in the weeks leading up to it, I managed to come down with a nasty head cold and wheezed my way up and down the mountain. Before that I ran a fast 4 mile cross country race and paced about 7:20.  
This morning with my Nike + strapped to my wrist I decided to try to focus on my mile pace. In the book, if you don't have a recent 5K race time, they say to use a track and do a specific work out. I'm sure there is a track around here, I just don't know where it is, and if you're allowed to run on it while school is in session. The training guide says to run 3X1600 with 1 minute rests and average the 3 miles into a 5K pace. My workout this morning was roughly the same. My intention was to run out for 3 miles and back for 3 miles with the first and last mile as warm up and cool down miles. I warmed up with a slow mile, stopped, stretched and ran 2 miles at what felt like a hard, maintainable pace. At 3 miles I stopped my watch and my self, stretched again and got ready to run back. I stopped and restarted my watch in order to get the 9'30 warm up mile out of the average pace calculation. The Nike website that my watch uploads to shows your mile splits so this was probably unnecessary but it made it easier for my own mental math. These were my mile times for all 6 miles. 
Using 8'20" (I find it very hard not to round up to a nice neat number) the tables in the book suggest a 5K pace of 25'54, 1/2 marathon 1:49'15 and a full marathon time of 3:38'29. 
I know I can run a half faster than 1:49 but I think this is a good base pace for now. I will rerun this workout in 2 weeks and see what my pace time is again before I start the really structured training. 
Here are a few photos from California and my last 1/2 marathon;

Muir Beach at sunset

Heading up hill #1 (that's me in the 2nd white shirt!)

Start of the Marin Headlands 1/2

Top of hill #1

Sunset run

California coast

View of the Golden Gate on a trail run 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Chiropractor visit

I went to see a chiropractor. This is probably not a big event in most people's lives but I have been putting it off for awhile now. I believe that the spine is an important part of the body to keep healthy but I feel like chiropractors get paid by telling you to come back again and again. Surely, if it is not a chronic injury, a visit or two should be able to fix most problems. I am also not a massage person and though I love to talk about myself, I don't like doing it to strangers and medical professionals. I suppose with my job, lifestyle and all the running I have been lucky not to have any back problems so far. I decided, finally, to go see someone because of an issue that has been bugging me since September. On my second east bound crossing this summer I tweaked something between my shoulder blades and was experiencing a lot of pain lifting my head up off my pillow. Once it was up it was painful to look to the right, but nothing good happens on that side anyways, right? Being in the middle of the Atlantic, on some smaller Atlantic islands, and main land Spain (where I don't speak the language) allowed me to avoid going to see anyone for the next couple of months. Though I passed back through the States a couple times this fall I didn't manage to see a chiropractor there. I usually didn't have time and, to be honest, I am scared of doing anything medically related in the US without health insurance. I haven't been following the progress of the Affordable Care Act or ObamaCare and haven't signed up for personal health insurance that covers me inside the US leaving me with a very good travel insurance plan that covers emergency care. I'm sure it says something significant about the health care polices in the United States that I would rather wait and see someone in a 2nd world Caribbean island.

Knowing I would have a little time here in Tortola I asked a friend who she recommended here and was able to go in and see Dr. Nicole yesterday during work. She sat me down and talked to me about my health and daily life and what she was aiming to do during the adjustment of my spine. We also talked about running,  knee pain and Osgood Schallters. She adjusted my spine starting with my legs. My left leg was shorter than my right, showing her that my sacrum was misaligned. She proved this to me by bending my legs at my knee and observing that my right leg was able to bend more than my left. After the adjustment they both had the same amount of bend. She adjusted some more of my spine and found a lot of "heat" (inflammation) in my L3, T6 and a few of my C vertebrates. She also insisted on seeing me again this morning. All day yesterday I kept waiting for the miracle moment when I could touch my chin to my chest without feeling the muscles in my back complain. It never came and I woke up this morning with quite a bit of pain in the same area as always. I had decided to skip the appointment this morning until I talked to Ben last night. He uses a chiropractor for a chronic injury in his upper back and neck and goes many times a month. He reassured me that there would be no magic moment when I felt totally cured, especially after only one adjustment, and encouraged me to go back this morning. After getting the boat ready for charter I begrudgingly shoved some cash in my pocket and headed to the office. Dr. Nicole did another adjustment, cracked a few more bones and twisted my neck. She also requested that I don't run today. I skipped yesterday and decided not to run this morning since I had so much discomfort sleeping. I wasn't happy to hear her recommend a swim for today but I will fit one in after work and run in the morning. She wants me to go back one more time on Friday before I pick up my charter. I'm still undecided if any of this makes a difference or if it is just a frivolous expense.  I know there are lots of alternative medicine practices out there and have heard people swear by all sorts of things from acupuncture to pilates. Do any of you use a chiropractor or another type of therapy in conjunction with your training?

Here are some photos from that crossing taken in Faial, Madeira and Barcelona
Gaudi in Barcelona

Gaudi in Barcelona

Running in Madeira

Boats in Madeira

Pico over the rooftop in Horta

Red Rock in Madeira

Monday, January 6, 2014

Wicked Windy

Happy New Year to everyone! Here in the BVI the celebration that happens on December 31 is Old Year’s Night and it celebrates all the good that happened last year as well as hopes for the year to come. I like both mentalities and I was lucky enough to share NYE/OYN with Ben and some other very good friends at BEYC.  I was on charter with a large family who had 7 children that were too young to celebrate with us but a couple of the adults joined us for a glass of champagne as the steel drums played Auld Lang Syne at midnight.
After leaving the North Sound we headed for Anegada. We had a great sail there and headed off to the Atlantic facing side of the island to get some big life snorkeling in. The next morning I managed to fit in a run with one of the guests. Since it is a barrier island Anegada is totally flat, a nice change to the hills of Virgin Gorda. We dinghied ashore and headed for Cow Wreck Beach. We were aiming for a 6 mile run at a 8:30 pace and we kept each other on track. It is always nice to have someone to run with and running with someone from a completely different world from mine always makes for interesting conversation that keeps the miles ticking by. Being on charter can make it difficult to find the time to run or a road to run on, depending on the islands we stop at. I tried to swim for 30 minutes most mornings as some cardio cross training and, thankfully, one of the moms was tranining for a marathon and IronMan, so it wasn’t just me that wanted to put in some miles.

We sailed for a total of 8 days around the BVI hitting the snorkeling highlights and staying in quiet, secluded anchorages. I had the opportunity to show off some of my favorite spots that are a little bit off the regular, bar hoping route. The breeze has been up since before Christmas and continues to build. The last night on anchor we had 35+ knot gusts hitting us, which made for a sleepless night and an early morning departure to a final, quieter snorkel spot. Anchoring in Great Harbor, Peter Island allowed everyone one final swim in the clear Caribbean water and the running mom and I a quick jaunt up the hill to the Sunset Lookout. There’s only one road on Peter Island and it goes uphill past the wind turbine and to a northwest facing lookout and back down to the resort. We hit 5 miles as we returned to the beach. Charters are my job and everyone likes when a job is finished but I was sad to see these guests leave. My job and lifestyle introduces me to so many people that I wouldn’t otherwise meet, it’s a part of it that I really appreciate.
These guests were from three families from all over the US and they get together as a family a few times a year. It is very refreshing to see parents take an active role in their children and to have those children respect and enjoy the family time together. Seeing a big family sail together and play together reminded me a lot of my own family and made me miss them more than I already do. I really do feel lucky to have such an amazing family. I don’t know if distance makes the heart grow fonder, if that was true I would have the world fondest (is fondest a word?) heart, but it certainly gives me the perspective I need to recognize that every piece of me is made up of the morals and beliefs that my parents and sisters taught me and continue to teach me.

 The wind is still up right now, howling over Frenchman’s Cay and through Soper’s Hole as I write. Hurricane Hercules is in the North Atlantic and is reported to be one of the worst storms in history. My living and hobbies depend on the wind but too much of anything can be a bad thing. A big blow like this one reminds us to respect the elements and nature. The sunny Caribbean can be a scary place when boats can’t hold their anchors and mooring lines break. The Northeast is getting slammed with some more snow and freezing temperatures.  As for running, all of these things can slow your pace down or drive you back inside before completing a run. I know it’s a whole lot easier for me to battle some strong gusts when running, than for you who are jogging though snow and ice, but get out there and don’t look at your pace. My oldest sisters always said that winter running was just for maintaining. And when it gets just too damn cold, you can all come run with me!