Posts Tagged ‘running terminology’

Maybe shouldn’t have done that.

Date: April 5, 2014

Distance: 10 miles

Time: 1:39:24

Today I ran the Emigration Canyon Ten-Miler, despite my better judgement.

No medals in a ten-miler, but you still get a shirt.

On Thursday, I woke up with a sore throat and extreme exhaustion, which prompted me to call in sick yesterday when I also woke up with a headache. I rested most of the day and was feeling better, but still wasn’t great by evening. In contemplating whether or not to run the race, I told myself, “I’ll only run if I wake up feeling good AND it’s not raining.” (Honestly, I was thinking I would most likely put in a few miles on the treadmill at the gym).

Surprisingly, I woke up at 5:00 without my alarm, and the updated weather forecast predicted no rain until 10:00. I was also feeling decent–no sore throat, just a bit of nasal and chest congestion–so I got up, made coffee, and ate. Still felt pretty okay, so I took some cold medicine and headed out the door by 6:15.

This race finishes at “This is the Place Heritage Park,” so runners were encouraged to park in the lot there and ride buses to the top of Emigration Canyon to the start. Good plan, so after the race, it’s easy to simply jump in your car and drive home.

The problem with that plan (Race Directors, are you listening?), was the way too early bus departure. We all got up to the start by 6:45 and the race didn’t begin until 8:00. Dang it! It was cold up there and we all had to stand around for over an hour jumping in place, pacing around, or anxiously jogging around in order to stay warm. If my cold turns into pneumonia, I’m not blaming it on the race–I’m blaming it on the fact that I had to stand around in the cold for an hour before I could even get started.

I really had no high hopes on my performance for this race. I really was running more out of guilt rather than anything else because I had broken all training rules and hadn’t run at all since my half marathon two weeks ago. With my next race only two weeks out, I felt as though I needed to get some mileage in. In fact, my normal training schedule would have me run 10-11 miles this weekend anyway and I’ve been completing most of my long runs down Emigration Canyon anyway. The timing and location of this race couldn’t have been more perfect.

The Race

The race began at Little Dell Reservoir  so that means there’s a two-mile uphill climb right at the beginning of the race until the top of the canyon where the course winds downhill the whole rest of the way. I started off very slowly–alternating between walking and jogging during those first two miles. I’ve run this course dozens of times and knew how bad that first part is. Get past those first two miles, though, and the downhill makes it all worth it.

I forgot to wear my Garmin today, so I had no idea how I was pacing and had to rely on the race markers along the side of the road to inform me of my mileage. Every-once-in-a-while, it’s nice to run “naked”–as they say in running circles–meaning without technology. (I wasn’t completely naked, however, because I did remember to bring my iPod).

The nice part about running without tracking technology is you aren’t continually glancing at your watch the entire time and, most enjoyably, you are able to set a pace that isn’t dictated by your watch, but is based on how you feel. That was nice today. Even with the all-downhill course, I took a few walking breaks when I felt like it and then, when I was running, simply ran at a pace that felt right. It wasn’t until I crossed the finish line that I realized I had run an average 10-minute mile the whole race–even with the miserably slow first two miles. Wow. Sure wasn’t expecting that.

Looking Ahead

After the race, I headed home and enjoyed a hot shower followed by an hour-long power nap. Not a bad way to start the weekend and get some much-needed miles in before the Albuquerque Half in two weeks. Just hope I manage to get some shorter training runs and a few yoga classes in there before then as well.



Is it possible?

Date: August 25, 2013

Distance: 10.85

Time: 1:44:45 (9:45 pace)

In preparation for the Big Cottonwood Canyon Half Marathon, I planned to complete a ten-mile training run yesterday that followed the last ten miles of the race course. (I’ll spare you the details about taking a wrong turn that added almost a mile to my planned route).

The course promises to be fast.  The website includes quotes from all sorts of runners reporting PRs (personal records) and BQs (Boston Qualifying times) at last year’s race. The fast, downhill course is pretty much the only reason I decided to run another Utah race instead of “saving myself” for other states. That, and the fact it’s close to my house and being held during a perfect time of the year to be racing down a scenic mountain canyon.

At my age, I have no idea how many more races I’m capable of so I’ve got to spend my racing miles allowance judiciously. Still have to get through 27 more states.

from Google images

from Google images

Months ago, when I registered, I had a tiny little thought in the back of my head suggesting, “You might be able to get that sub-2:00 time you’ve always wanted.” Despite the fact that my fastest time (2:03) was in 2007, and my last several races have averaged 2:18, I still haven’t given up that goal.

Yesterday’s trial run gave me an indication of what I might expect come race day–three weeks out.

The half marathon course will begin about 8 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon, so I went about 5 miles up for my planned ten-miler. After leaving the mouth of the canyon, the course heads west, through residential areas, and ends at Cottonwood High School. The last five miles are mostly flat–with just a gradual descent. It’s those first miles, however, that allow for screaming fast times.

While I have averaged a 10:30 minutes/mile pace in my last five races, my first five miles of the training run were completed at 8:56, 9:05, 8:33, 8:42, and 8:47.  I was shocked when I would glance down at my Garmin and see how fast I was running–especially since I wasn’t breathing hard at all. If I could run an entire half marathon at an 8:33 pace, I would finish in 1:52!  No, I fully realize that won’t happen. There’s no way I’m running an entire race at 8:33. Still, I felt so incredibly good during this run, I realize that the 2:00 time just may be within reach. My pace for 10.85 miles was 9:45/mile and that pace would allow me to finish in about 2:07.

In three weeks, is it possible to shave off some more time? I really, really hope so.

I will admit to being incredibly sore today. My quads and calves are hurting and I feel upper glute/lower back muscles I didn’t know existed. The speed and the downhill course resulted in some achy muscles. I also admit to not having worked out at all for six days in a row this past week. I know, I know, skipping workouts will not get me to sub-2.

I’ve got to resolve to eat well, sleep well, and closely follow my training plan if I’m going to make that long-time goal of under two hours.

Now that I know the course (no more wrong turns), I’ll follow it for next week’s 11-mile training run. That will give me an even better indication of how I might do come race day.

What Else Besides the Long Weekend Run?

Date: September 23, 2012

Mid-way up Emigration Canyon–one of my favorite long run locations.

Distance: 8 miles

Time: 1:26:43

Fall weather is perfect for those long weekend runs. Not too hot, not too cold, and still a reasonable amount of sunlight.

Every long distance training plan I’ve seen places a lot of importance on the long weekend run. Of course, runners can adjust the actual day they do the long run based on personal schedules, but if you are looking to build mileage or train for a full or half marathon, it’s important to schedule in that LSD (long, slow distance) once a week. Simply put, regular long runs prepare your body physically and psychologically for the longer distance you plan to ultimately run.

Beyond the long run, though, training plans vary quite a bit–with some advocating running five or even six days a week and others suggesting only three runs per week.

After running for about six years now, I’ve settled into a routine that seems to work pretty well for me–and I’m in the “three runs per week” camp. My training week includes a short run (2-4 miles), a medium run (4-6 miles), and the long run (5-12 miles), all supplemented with core & strength work (usually Pilates or yoga) two to five times per week. Also thrown in there are walks with my dog, an occasional hike, and rest days when I feel like I need them or when life gets in the way.

Anyone who talks to me about running knows within the first five minutes that I’m a big fan of cross-training and building a strong core. A training plan that has runners doing other types of activities such as biking, walking, swimming, yoga, or weight training is most likely to prevent running-induced injuries and create a better overall level of fitness. Perhaps equally important to me is my own personal experience of finding out first-hand that when I do a variety of workouts in support of my running, my running efforts are more likely to be maintained long-term.

You see, what we are going for here is long term.

I recently came across a great quote from one of my favorite running gurus, Hal Higdon. He observes, “It’s not that I started running, it’s that I continued.” Love it. We all know it’s easy to start almost anything but much harder to continue. New Year’s resolutions are the perfect example of that.

So far, my 2006  New Year’s resolution to walk a half marathon has turned into a way of life that I have happily continued. With luck and a bit of continued cross-training, I hope to enjoy running for many years to come.

I’m certain I will if I:

  • stay injury free.
  • keep signing up for races.
  • continue to surround myself with friends who motivate me with their own running and workout stories.
  • keep enjoying those long weekend runs where I get to escape for one or two hours and simply meditate, contemplate, and rejuvenate.

So, what do YOU do with your race medals and bibs?

All those medals.

I officially started running in road races in 2006 at the age of 39, which for most of my running friends is pretty late in the game.

Even with my late start I was surprised at how quickly the bottom drawer of my dresser filled with finisher medals. They are given out at virtually every race so there is certainly no shortage of them around my house.

one option

It doesn’t take long, though, for them to start taking up valuable drawer space and I’ve been wondering if there’s any good way to display them in an unobtrusive way. I don’t want a trophy shelf in my living room or some other obnoxious tribute to my fledgling athleticism, but I enjoy seeing them. I like that they remind me of places I’ve visited and friends I’ve spent time with. Some are just plain cool, too–like the Ragnar medal that doubles as a bottle opener or the New Orleans one that sports Mardi Gras beads instead of the traditional cloth ribbon.

I’ve seen wall-mounted medal racks such as those sold at, but those didn’t completely appeal to me. During one impulsive shopping trip to my local craft store, I saw some shadow boxes and thought, “I could do something with this.” This is what I usually say when I attempt to start a craft project that ultimately ends in disaster. Crafty I am not.

Anyway, I put together a shadow box that shows off the medals I’ve earned in my relatively new quest to run a half marathon in all fifty states. They are no longer buried in the bottom of my dresser drawer and I’m able to see them more often and enjoy the memories they spark.

Since I’ve put together my shadow box, I’ve seen a better ways to display medals in shadow boxes that don’t entail any ribbon cutting–a good idea if you want your medals to stay intact. Oh, well, at least I have more room in my bottom dresser drawer for things like Gu and Rock Tape.

my new office artwork

What about race bibs?

Then, there’s the question about what to do with race bibs. Some people toss them after each race but I’ve kept mine–for many of the same reasons  I have kept race medals. For the past six years, I’ve simply taped each race bib to the front of my file cabinet at work. I like how they serve as conversation starters when people visit my office.

Fellow runners will invariably start talking to me about running or people will notice a race bib from an area of the country with which they have a connection and that prompts conversation too. It was time for me to admit, however, that my file cabinets were beginning to look a little obnoxious with about two dozen race bibs plastered all over them.

To give my office a more respectable appearance, I bought a poster frame and decided to simply make a collage with all of my race numbers and hang them in my office more as a picture rather than wallpaper.

Well, there you have it. Two ideas for what to do with all the race memorabilia. Curious to know what others have come up with…let me know!

Mojaves part deux

Date: July 14, 2012

Distance: 8x400s timed runs; 8x400s walks; approx 3 mile run/walk (almost 5 miles total)

Times: 2:07, 2:04, 1:43, 1:49, 1:50, 1:48, 1:51, 1:42

google images

It’s been ten full weeks since I tried Mojaves for the first time and today I was prompted to do them again. I was curious to see how my times may have changed plus I’m always looking for motivation to do speed work.

I had skipped a planned three-mile run earlier in the week so I ran the 1.5 miles down to the local high school track figuring the to-and-back would make up for that lost mileage. Running downhill to the track was no problem. The temperature was relatively cool and I had fresh legs. Coming back up the hill after doing the set of sprints and with the sun now bearing down on me was a different story. I walked the whole way, but that ended up being a great cool down and I feel like I got in a great workout today.

My average lap pace in May was 1:50 and today it was 1:53 so I certainly haven’t increased my speed. Of course, today’s run was at least twenty degrees hotter, but I have to also admit that I haven’t done much in the way speed training. I just hate it so much. It’s hard!

I probably need to get over that, though. There are many compelling reasons to incorporate interval training, like Mojaves, into my workouts.

This New York Times article, which first appeared in 2007, explains the findings of a 2005 study that showed how interval training “can dramatically improve cardiovascular fitness and raise the body’s potential to burn fat.” The best part? Improved results are seen almost immediately and, by incorporating interval training into workouts only once or twice a week, the body appears to do a better job of burning fat even during moderate-intensity workouts the rest of the week.

That certainly sounds good to me. And, if I happen to eventually improve my race times as well, this could be a very nice outcome.

Next time, I won’t let ten weeks lapse between my Mojave training.

2012 Wasatch Back

Date: June 15-16, 2012

Location: Logan, Utah to Park City, Utah

Distance: 197 miles

Time: 37 hours, 15 minutes, 38 seconds

somewhere along the Wasatch Back

How could I possibly capture the Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay in one blog post? I can’t. It’s definitely one of those “you had to be there” experiences in order to fully appreciate it.

I was asked to fill in as runner #10 for my team and, on a scale of “easy, moderate, hard, and very hard,” my three legs were ranked as “easy,” then “hard,” then “very hard”. I would have to agree with those assessments.

Runners 1-6 travel the course in van #1 and runners 7-12 are in van #2. Our van #1 runners were scheduled to start at 7:00 a.m. on Friday morning in Logan, and the team was expected to finish at 6:47 p.m. Saturday night in Park City. We experienced an immediate glitch in those plans when our van #1 teammates decided to drop off their first runner and, instead of driving directly to the first exchange, decided to go grab coffee and retrieve a forgotten pillow. They then somehow ended up at the second exchange point instead of the first and our poor lead runner arrived at the first exchange with no runner #2 to take over for her. After that snafu was figured out, we had lost about 45 minutes right off the bat. Add to that mix up several injury issues in van #1 that slowed their expected pace, and the resulting outcome was that the Master Sprinters finished about an hour later than we expected.

Not that I really cared. It’s not about the time, anyway. It’s about the experience. And I can say, I had yet another great Ragnar experience. I met lots of nice runners, spent a gorgeous weekend outside in the mountains, and can now proudly boast that I’ve run the Ragnar leg of the Wasatch Back.

Okay, so maybe I walked most of it.

Leg #1/3.8 miles/”easy”/36:53

My first leg, the one labeled “easy,” started at almost 5:00 p.m. in Huntsville, and ended by the Pineview reservoir. Based on my predicted pace, I was expected to knock that run out in forty minutes but was able to finish over three minutes faster than that, even though I was contending with a strong headwind the whole time. I felt great about that run and it helped me get my racing jitters out of way. I noticed right away, though, that I felt completely out of my league during that leg. I don’t consider myself to be the best runner (I’m not), but I usually feel like I’m “middle of the pack” with most races I run–especially in my own age group.

In this leg, I got killed. A lot.

In running terminology, you score a “kill” anytime you pass another runner and some vans in this race even post their total kills somewhere on the outside of their van. The competitor in me was feeling a bit disheartened until I realized that I was getting killed by very athletic, 20 and 30-somethings and it dawned on me that, after all, this was the Ragnar leg. That means in each of my legs I was running against all other #10 runners–the runners chosen to conquer the mighty Ragnar leg. That realization prompted me to readily forgive myself for being the runner that almost everyone was able to pass but it also added to my nervousness–how hard would the Ragnar leg be when I had to run it the next day and would I be up to the challenge?

Our first set of runs (legs 7-12) all went well and we met our other van at the first van exchange point at Snowbasin resort. That checkpoint is great–it serves hot meals and provides lots of space to relax. After I savored a hamburger and fries and the use of a real restroom, our team was able to spread out our sleeping bags for a couple of hours to stretch out and rest. The noise and early evening hours made it impossible to sleep, but we felt refreshed and ready to meet up with van #1 to knock out our second legs.

Our second legs started at about midnight and required the use of headlamps, flashlights, reflective vests, and layers of clothing to keep out the cold mountain chill. Yep, the Wasatch Back is one of the few races where you need to pack both sunscreen and gloves. The daytime temps were in the mid-80s while the nighttime temps were probably in the 40s.

This was a particularly challenging leg for one of our runners, Cindy, who was our oldest runner, has had hip surgery, has only been running for less than two years, and who is used to living at sea level. Her 3.6 middle-of-the night “moderate” leg was all uphill and took us to about 5300 feet elevation. This type of leg wouldn’t be a big deal for seasoned high altitude runners who are injury free, but to her it felt like a full marathon, I’m sure. She was winded and in pain during this entire run, and it took a huge toll on her–even making her throw up at the end and groan in pain for the next couple of hours as she stretched out in the back seat of the car to recover. I felt horrible to see her suffer like that, but she promised us she would be fine and, sure enough, she mustered enough courage and energy to complete her next leg later that day with a smile on her face. She, more than anyone else on our team, can enjoy a strong sense of accomplishment after finishing this race–her first Wasatch Back.

Two middle-of-the-night highlights included seeing escaped horses running along the road with the rest of the racers and being entertained by a very funny exchange point volunteer who keep the crowd awake and laughing as he called out runner numbers while singing, dancing, and telling jokes.

Leg #2/7.5 miles/”hard”/01:18:00

My second leg started in Coalville, Utah at about 5:00 a.m. and followed a portion of the Union Pacific Rail Trail–a biking/walking/running trail that follows the path of an old railroad line that carried coal and silver in the second half of the 1800s. This leg is described as “moderate” due to the length and gradual incline. I loved this run! I had no car traffic to contend with, I watched the sun rise as I was running this portion of the race, and the temperature was nice and cool. I again finished about three minutes faster than my predicted time, and I even had several “kills” of my own during this leg. I especially appreciated the woman who ran up beside me with about three-quarters of a mile left and pushed me to the end. I didn’t let her pass me, and that meant that I finished my last mile with a sub-ten minute mile pace. I finished strong and exhilarated.

Our team finished up our second set of runs on Saturday morning and were thrilled to find out that the sister of our driver (runner #9) offered to let us use her nearby house for a luxurious pit stop (real bathrooms and real showers). We also envisioned spreading our sleeping bags on her livingroom floor for a quiet two or three-hour nap while van #1 was running their legs, but that was not meant to be. We were concerned with the timing of our next exchange so we postponed sleep for a few more hours. The hot showers and clean changes of clothes, though, gave us all a second-wind and we felt ready to tackle our last legs that afternoon.

Leg #3/4 miles/”very hard”/01:03:42

This was it–the leg I anticipated with both excitement and fear. The Ragnar leg is identified as the most difficult leg of the whole course. It starts at 7200 feet elevation, halfway up the road to Guardsman Pass, and ends at almost 9000 feet. Paving of the entire road has made this run more enjoyable from previous years because runners no longer have to contend with gravel and road dust from all of the vans during the race. That doesn’t, however, do anything to alleviate the very steep, 18% grade and high altitude oxygen deprivation.

The vast majority of the racers walk this leg–either in part or whole–because it is so challenging. That included me. I was able to jog some portions where it flattened out a bit (or at least got less steep), but I would say I power walked about 80% of it. I enjoyed the beautiful mountain views and even got a glimpse of a giant moose through the trees at about the halfway point. (All the parked vans along the road and camera action clued me in to the fact that something photogenic was nearby). I finished this leg feeling like I had completed a bucket list-worthy accomplishment, and very happy that I had finished all of my legs and was one step closer to real food and my own bed.

Click here for some Google images of the Guardsman Pass area. And, for anyone following this blog, I wrote about my Guardsman Pass training run last Sunday and my training run was not the Ragnar leg from this year’s race so the entire leg was new to me (and steeper than my training run).

The final two runners of our van finished off the race for us as they ran down the mountain, past Deer Valley resort and into Park City.

The Wasatch Back finishes at Park City High School–a great location that allows teams to meet their final runner and run the last few hundred yards of the race together as a team. Most teams are in full costume for this finale, which is capped off with team photos and receiving the coveted race medals and “Ragnar 2012” sticker that I will now see all over town in hundreds, if not thousands, of car windows.

our van

Our team was named “Master Sprinters,” a nod to Master Splinter–a character from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cartoon series. We finished the race in custom-made t-shirts, bandanas, fabric turtle shells, and purple and green tulle tu tus as we carried TMNT banners and some toy versions of the turtle weaponry (nunchuks and swords). Not my idea, but I went along with my team and had fun.

Another Wasatch Back completed.

I’m tempted to try other Ragnar relays since I really don’t mind missing out on one night of sleep and living in a cramped van with five other sweaty runners as we subsist for over thirty hours on pretzels, string cheese, and Gatorade.

It’s actually quite fun.


Search “relays” tags on this blog if you want to read my previous posts about the 2008 and 2009 Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay.

To learn more about Ragnar Relays–held in fifteen different U.S. locations, check out:


Date: May 5, 2012

Distance: 8x400s timed runs; 8x400s walks

Times: 2:02, 1:45, 1:47, 1:52, 1:49, 1:48, 1:57, 1:43

I once saw a track kid wearing a shirt that read, “My sport is your sport’s punishment” and I couldn’t stop thinking about that the whole time I completed today’s workout. It was punishing!

One of my friends has been posting notes on our Facebook running group page about completing what she calls “mojaves,” creatively named for Bart Yasso’s cat, Mojave. You see, Bart has come up with a marathon workout/race time predictor that includes running eight timed 800 meter distances that are now named “Yassos” after him.

He has found that the time he takes to run 800s is a spot-on predictor of his marathon time. If, for example, he can run 800s in 2:40 (two minutes, forty seconds), he knows that he will be able to run a marathon in 2 hours and 40 minutes. Yassos are described in more detail in this Runner’s World article.

Mojaves, then, are a half version of Yassos. That’s one lap around a standard running track rather than two. What you do is run one full lap (400 meters) at nearly full speed and note your time. Then walk a lap for recovery (half a lap if you want more of a challenge). Repeat seven times. I seriously doubt that the Mojaves predict half marathon times, but I would say they provide great speedwork. No way in hell I could run a 1:50-ish half, like today’s mojaves might indicate.

(Thanks, Mel, for the article link and thanks, Paul, Debi, and Mel for the further explanation I needed to understand Yassos and Mojaves).

I had no idea what to expect for today’s new challenge, but I was curious to know how fast I could run these since I haven’t timed myself running around a track since the ninth grade. And, yes, it brought back horrible memories.

Today’s workout…

1. Made me realize that I still don’t know what all the buttons on my Garmin do.

2. Allowed me to run on my kids’ high school track. Go Rams!

3. Taught me that sprinting makes my nose run and makes me want to puke.

4. Reminded me that I hate speedwork (see #3).

5. Prompted me to see my weekend long runs as my easy workout for the week.

6. Made me thankful for my new Facebook running group. Thanks, guys, for all of your support and encouragement! I never would have attempted Mojaves without you.

I’m tempted to try mojaves again on some of my cross-training days. This workout provides a good way to practice speedwork and appeals to my competitive side. I will now want to continually improve my times.

Now if I could only figure out how to run fast without wanting to throw up…