Eat Drink Run Woman

Musings from a Seattle personal chef with a fitness problem

Archive for the ‘Pfitzinger 18/55’

Published April 6th, 2008

Pfitz, Week 9 (31.75 miles)

As Bon Jovi would say, “Ohhhh — we’re halfway there. Ohhh-oh! Livin’ on a prayer!”

This week fortunately ended on a much better note than it started. However, I believe what transpired needed to happen to help me gain perspective.

Sidelined with a sore calf, I moped around the house on Sunday. “I’m not going to hit 200 miles this month,” I sniffed. “I may not be able to run the Mt. Si Relay,” I sniveled. “I may as well give up on Boston,” I weeped. While deep down he really wanted to shake me out of my funk, my darling knew I just needed a hug and a good cry.

With that out of the way I too could see how ludicrous my problems were. Here I was sulking because there was a chance I wouldn’t be able to run a 26.2-mile race in a time fast enough to… run ANOTHER 26.2-mile race. However, I’m not too surprised at this reaction. After all, when I first blogged about wanting to qualify for Boston, I wrote:

“I know my biggest challenge will be to keep things in perspective: few people qualify on their first attempt (I read blogs by people who have tried to qualify numerous times). You just have to learn from your experience and adjust your training accordingly. Plus, you can never predict (or control) what the weather will do on race day.”

I knew this adventure wouldn’t be easy; I’m just bummed I started acting like a petulant child at the first sign of adversity. It’s at times like these I need to remember what Juls has endured. Her quest for Boston has been side-lined not from a minor injury, but the devastating loss of her dear husband to cancer a year ago.

Besides, turns out I just needed some new shoes.


Published March 30th, 2008

Pfitz, Week 8 (50 miles)

It was bound to happen. I’ve been too cocky. I’ve crowed about how fast I’ve been. I obviously did not leave an offering to the running gods.

I have a calf sprain.

How can this be? I’ve been stretching (most of the time). I’ve been doing my PT exercises (many of them, anyway). I even took an extra day of rest this week. But about five miles into Saturday’s 20-mile run my left calf started tightening up. I should have stopped to stretch earlier, but I was determined to keep going. Ironically I was forcing myself to slow WAY down since I was concerned I was over-training. I was determined to keep my heart rate at 70% of my maximum during the first 10 miles (which was about a 10:30-10:40 pace); I’d then allow myself to speed up to 80% of my maximum (about a 10:10-10:20 pace).

I finally stopped at the 10 mile mark to take in some ShotBlocks and water and stretch my calves and hamstrings. That helped at first but soon the tightness returned. Just before mile 16 I stopped at my gym for a potty break, but I also spent several seconds with the calf stretcher (in hindsight I should have also used a foam roller). By mile 18 I was really feeling the pain, but I refused to walk.

When my darling saw me hobbling up our stairs he knew he’d be conscripted into service. I winced in pain as he massaged my tender calf; although it truly helped, I still have a bit of tenderness today. I’m hoping a day of RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) will help, as I’m just 5 miles from hitting the 200-mile mark for the month (I KNEW I shouldn’t have taken that rest day on Friday!). However, I have to follow the same advice I gave my darling when he rolled his ankle earlier in the week — if it still hurts, DON’T RUN!


Published March 24th, 2008

Pfitz, Week 7 (47.25 miles)

Angie asked me about my weekly mileage on the Pfitzinger plan, so I’ve added the numbers to each of the weekly posts. At first glance it would appear the program does not follow the 10% rule, where you only increase your mileage each week by 10%. However, that isn’t the case; it just appears that way due to how I’ve shifted the schedule.

Pfitzinger has you start your week on Monday and end with a long run on Sunday. I prefer to do my long runs on Saturday, so I’ve shifted it a day. However, there have been a couple of instances where I’ve had to do my long run on Sunday (once when I was sick, the other when I ran the Mercer Island half instead of the scheduled long run). So you’ll see a jump from 35.85 miles in week 5 to 57.65 miles in week 6. I started week 6 with the MI half and ended it with my regularly scheduled long run. If I were to recalculate my mileage based on a Monday-Sunday schedule, then it’s more in line with what the program calls for (and doesn’t increase more than 10% each week).

I definitely feel I’m getting stronger and faster with the training. I’m sure part of it has to do with dropping a couple of pounds (although the orgy of food and drink that is Easter certainly didn’t help. Back on the program!). Even with my long runs I find I can run a fast pace toward the end. I haven’t been as diligent about my gym routine (I really need to get my core conditioning in), but I guess I shouldn’t beat myself up about it too much.


Published March 17th, 2008

Pfitz, Week 6 (57.65 miles)

While I’ve read a lot of positive comments about Pfitzinger’s training programs (especially if you want to get stronger and faster), most people agreed you will feel rather beat up. This week certainly gave me a taste of what’s to come.

Given I ran the Mercer Island Half on Sunday, once again I tweaked the schedule to allow for some recovery. While I (mostly) got in all my runs, I bagged out on all my gym routines save for Monday. I just couldn’t drag myself out of bed at 5:30 a.m. While I know my body appreciated the break, it meant I didn’t do any stretching or PT exercises (our house is so tiny I’d have to rearrange the furniture to make room for any type of exercise. Therefore I typically just do my stretching at the gym). But I’m heading into the big-time mileage weeks (50 this week, 54 the next) so I know I’ll need to concentrate on keeping my muscles flexible.

Here’s my week:

Sunday: Mercer Island Half

Monday: 45 minute arm/shoulder routine, 5-mile recovery run (9:18 pace)

Tuesday: 9-mile lactate-threshold run w/4 miles @ 15K-half marathon pace. This run was truly a mind-over-matter one. I ran a 2-mile warm-up at roughly a 9:40 pace and contemplated how fast I’d run the 4 miles. My goal is to run at my 15K pace (8:45), but since I was recovering from the half I decided I’d be happy with a 9-minute pace (what I ran during the half). When I hit two miles I picked up the pace; I didn’t look at Garmin, I just wanted to run what felt comfortable. At the end of the mile I glanced down to see I had run it in 8:28! I slowed it down for the next mile, which wasn’t difficult given I was now running into a headwind. I also toyed with taking a break after two miles, easing back into a slow pace, then picking it up again. But as I neared the 2-mile mark I decided to keep a fast pace for four miles nonstop. Miles 2-4 were 8:56, 8:40 and 8:44, which meant I averaged an 8:42 pace. I was pleasantly surprised. I ran my last three miles at a considerably slower pace, but averaged 9:17 for the entire 9-mile run.

Wednesday: Rest day! A group of personal chefs gathered that evening for a wine tasting, so my only form of exercise was bringing a glass of wine to my lips and noshing on yummy food.

Thursday: Since I hadn’t been drinking for a couple of weeks the wine really took its toll. Oy! I planned on hitting the gym, but when I awoke with a bit of a hangover I reset my alarm for another two hours. I pretty much felt crappy all day and I certainly wasn’t looking forward to that afternoon’s 10-mile run, especially since it had been pouring all day. By the time I headed out the door it was well after 5 p.m. I decided not to wear my iPod given the rain, and turns out I’d be sans technology throughout the run. Because the sleeve on my heavier rain jacket forces my Garmin onto my wrist bones, I slipped the sleeve over Garmin (which meant I couldn’t view it during the run). Halfway through the run I decided I’d cut it short, so as I was nearing the end I slipped my sleeve back over to see I had run a total of… 16 yards. D’oh! I somehow had hit the stop button in the very beginning. However, I was able to determine I ran a little over 7 miles using MapMyRun, plus I had my start time. My overall pace was 9:19.

Friday: A new day, a better attitude. I was bummed to see the rain wasn’t letting up, but since I only had a 5-mile recovery run, I didn’t mind. Imagine my delight when I stepped out to see the rain had stopped. Hallelujah! To celebrate (and to make up for cutting yesterday’s run short), I ran six miles (9:15 pace).

Saturday: I was worried when I checked the weather forecast on Wunderground the night before — 80% chance of precipitation. NOT what I wanted to hear given I’d be doing a 17-miler. But fortunately the report was wrong; while I awoke to overcast skies there was nary a drop of rain. I had hoped to get an early start, but realized all my cold weather gear was in the laundry. So by the time I got everything washed and headed out the door, it was a little after 10:15. Because I wanted a relatively flat run, I drove down to Gasworks Park and headed along the Burke-Gilman to the Locks. After crossing the locks I headed south and made my way down to Myrtle Edwards Park. I’ve been hearing a lot about the Phedippidations podcast, so I downloaded several episodes, including his report of the 111th Boston Marathon (I thought it would be good motivation!)

I’ve been concerned that I’m running my long runs too fast, so I really tried to keep my pace for the first few miles in the 10:30-10:50 minute pace (approximately 20% slower than my marathon goal pace). I came close — 10:20 average pace for five miles. I then picked it up, hoping to average a 9:55-10:10 pace (approximately 10% slower). I managed to do that for the next four miles, but was then ready for a walk break as I downed some Clif ShotBlocks. My legs were beginning to tire at this point, so I slowed to a little over a 10-minute pace. However, I managed to pick it up for mile 16 (9:56) and again for mile 17 (9:49). I guess I was really motivated by the chocolate milk I had waiting in my car! My overall pace for the 17.25 mile run was 10:10.

Published March 11th, 2008

Pfitz, Week 5 (35.85 miles)

Given I was running the Mercer Island half I flip-flopped weeks in the training program to make this week a recovery one. However, because I also was recuperating from my cold, I started the week out with a long run.

Here’s a recap:

Sunday: I wanted to be prepared for MI’s famed hills so my darling and I once again ran what I’ve dubbed the “Freakin’ Hard Ass Hill Run.” It starts at our home at the bottom of Phinney Ridge, heads up over the ridge and down to Golden Gardens Park. We run along Shilshole to the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, then over to Discovery Park for the 2.8 mile loop trail (which is also hilly). Then it’s back over the ridge to home.

My darling got to choose our route heading back from the Locks. The first part didn’t have as many hills, but we then hit a street that appeared to have a 45-degree hill. In unison we said, “I’m walking this!” At the top we had a choice: head 1/2 mile north to home, or head south for a bit to make up the full 15 miles. My darling chose the former, I chose the latter (my final mileage was 15.25).

Monday: didn’t feel like hitting the gym, so I just slept in. But I did do my afternoon 8-mile general aerobic + speed work. Normally I’d hit the track for the speed work but it’s been really crowded with high school track. So I just did some fartlek work along Greenlake (9:18 average pace)

Tuesday: this was the day for “The Yoga Class at which I Cried.” I was still feeling the lingering effects of the cold (and had developed a cough), plus I was feeling beat up from the Sunday and Monday runs. I just couldn’t get into any of the poses. I was tempted to leave early as I didn’t think the others appreciated my hacking and groaning. At one point the instructor asked me how I was doing and that’s when I had to fight back the tears (as I was standing in mountain pose I felt a few drops falling down my cheeks!) I was still feeling pretty crappy that afternoon, so I bagged my 5-mile recovery run.

Wednesday: A new day, a new attitude. Started with an hour+ conditioning workout (I only did one set of arm weights since I wanted to work on my PT work and stretching in preparation for the race). It was a glorious afternoon that was sunny enough for me to don a running skirt for my 8-mile GA run (although I’m glad I wore a long-sleeved shirt). Once again I chose a route with hills (9:40 overall pace).

Thursday: another hour+ conditioning workout with a 4-mile afternoon recovery run. Normally my goal is to run those at a 9:35-9:50 pace, but I was just dragging. My overall pace was more like a long run: 10:34. I was concerned since I didn’t think that bode well for my upcoming race, so I decided to take it easy for the next two days (a mini taper, if you will).

Friday: VERY short (45 minutes) arm weight routine.

Saturday: Planned to do a few laps at the pool but the parking lot was packed. I tried to find street parking but that too was packed (not surprising for a weekend day at Greenlake). I wasn’t dressed for a long walk, so I circled around a bit hoping to find something close. Nuttin’. I resigned myself to another recovery day and headed back home. I did, however, make sure I ate sensibly and drank plenty of fluids (although I did have a glass of wine with dinner).

Published March 9th, 2008

Mercer Island Half, part deux

What a difference a year (and hardcore training) make! I ran this race for the first time last year, dubbing it the “Strongest. Half Marathon. Ever.” Ah, what a naive young thing I was!

Reading the 2007 race report brought a smile to my face on several fronts. Here are some choice excerpts:

I compete against myself and yesterday my bad self whipped my wimpy self all over the course. HAH! Comparing 2007’s “bad self” to 2008’s would be like comparing Marie Osmond to Courtney Love.

…my finish of 2 hours, 9 minutes, 35 seconds… Ummm… Hello? Conveniently forgetting that 2 minute, 20 second potty break now aren’t we?

Yes, I was sore and in need of some serious couch time immediately after the race, but I feel fine today and even mustered up the strength for a 4-mile walk. Whatever. I’ll be RUNNING five miles tomorrow, you wuss.

I attribute my success to Jeff Galloway’s run/walk program. Sure, if you want to stay middle-of-the-pack, that program is fine. But if you want to run with the big girls, Pfitzinger’s program kicks ass.

And here’s the best:

I’ve decided I don’t need to prove anything by trying to run a sub 2-hour half marathon; I’m just looking to have a good time and keep my body healthy and injury-free for the next race. Screw that! (Okay, not the “having a good time” and “keeping my body healthy and injury-free” part).

Of course, some things never change:

With Helen serenading me, I picked up speed, passed several runners, blew my darling a kiss and sprinted powerfully over the timing mat. Oh wait, I suppose that needs to be re-written for this year:

With Helen serenading me, I TRIED to pick up speed, but GOT passed BY several runners, blew my darling a kiss and sprinted powerfully lurched dizzily over the timing mat.

Mercer IslandI’ve been looking forward to this race for months. As I mentioned in last year’s post, it’s particularly significant since it’s a fund-raiser for colon cancer awareness (colon cancer runs in our family). And how cool is it to run a race on a course that looks like a foot (minus the toes)! But this is the first long race I’ve run twice, so it was great to compare my progress. Last year I followed a 12-week training schedule, logging in a little over 150 miles. While I was diligent with my weekend long runs, I often bagged on the mid-week ones. In the three weeks before the race I only logged 14 1/2 miles (although I think I was sick one of those weeks). My weight on race day was 166.4.

This year was considerably different. In the 12 weeks leading up to the race I logged in 311.5 miles. I did a mini-taper this past week, but still put in almost 36 miles. And by watching what I ate and eliminating alcohol for the past couple of weeks, I weighed in at 161.6 this morning (although by the time I ate my pre-race steel-cut oats and drank my coffee and water, I’m sure I gained a couple of pounds).


Published March 2nd, 2008

Pfitz, Week 4 (27.5 miles)

This week’s theme is flexibility, though not in my body. Due to a social obligation earlier in the week and the onset of a cold in the latter part, I wasn’t able to follow the plan to a T (how I survived, I’ll never know). In fact, I put off this week’s long run until today, which is technically the beginning of Week 5 (shhhh… please don’t tell anyone).

This week was also the magical time of a woman’s life marked by bouts of irrational crying interspersed with intense cravings for anything sweet. I really don’t know what came over me — I normally don’t have much of a sweet tooth, even when I’m on my cycle — but this week you could have plopped me in Oompa Loompa land and I would have felt like I’d died and gone to heaven.

It started Monday evening over dinner with a few chef friends. We began at The Tasting Room for what was advertised as “three half glasses of wine and a BOWL of hot & creamy mac & cheese” (made with Beecher‘s incredibly yummy cheese). The $12 cost should have tipped us off that we’d merely be getting a small portion of the mac & cheese. It was certainly tasty, but our appetites were by no means sated. We then headed off to Etta’s for yet more food, and when the dessert menu came along we couldn’t refuse a slice of Tom Douglas’ famous coconut cream pie (we shared it five ways, but we each had several forkfuls).

The next day I showed up at my client’s house to see a container of cake in the fridge. Turns out it’s for me to take home; my client also was suffering from a sweet tooth and had to have the signature cake from a local bakery. It was a white cake with a whipped cream frosting and white chocolate sprinkles, layered with strawberry mousse. I cried “uncle” after two pieces and forced my darling to eat the rest (I had to twist his arm — NOT!)

Flower cookiesBy Wednesday my sweet tooth still hadn’t disappeared, so as I was shopping for my client I found myself wandering through the bakery. A few months ago another client had some frosted organic whole wheat shortbread cookies that were divine; I decided I MUST. HAVE. THOSE. COOKIES. I spied the container on the shelf, and while it was larger than I had anticipated (there were 27 cookies), there was no turning back. I didn’t bother to look at the price, so I was shocked to see $17.99 ring up at the cash register. ¡Ay Caramba! But that box satisfied my cravings for the rest of the week (and yes, I did get help in consuming them).

The amazing thing about all this? I actually LOST weight (I got down to a low of 162). Mind you, I’m also off alcohol until at least this coming Sunday (after the Mercer Island half). But I can’t say my diet has changed too terribly much. While I won’t make my goal of 155 pounds for the race, I ain’t complaining!


Published February 24th, 2008

Pfitz, Week 3 (41.5 miles)

This week’s theme: “I think I can, I think I can, oh maybe not, oh yes I can! but then again perhaps not, but on the other hand…”

Given the tough workout last week, I wanted to scale things back a bit this week. Mind you, I didn’t skimp on my mileage; I just chose routes that were easy and flat (okay, so MOST of them were easy and flat). I also made sure my core work wouldn’t leave me spent for my speed work.

The biggest boost this week? The weather! Pretty much the entire week was glorious: blue skies; few clouds crisp, cool air. Studies have shown that us Pacific Northwesterners are vitamin D deficient due to the lack of sun, but this week we all came out in droves to soak it in.

Sunday: rest day (I toyed with hitting the pool for a few laps, but instead got engrossed in creating my Medoc shadowbox).

Monday: Arms, abs, stretching (and lunges!). 8-mile lactate threshold run w/4 miles @ 15K-half marathon pace. For this run I ran 2 miles at a very relaxed pace, then picked it up for 4 miles. My goal was to run at a 8:52 pace (my estimated 15K pace). Just as I got to Greenlake I saw my darling, who was in the midst of his own LT run. Since he had run fairly hard he decided to join me for the remainder of his run.

Although I intended to run slower, I was a bit dismayed to see I was averaging about a 9:45 – 10 min. pace; I felt I was running much faster! I didn’t think this would bode well for my speed work, so I decided I’d be happy if I could average an 8:52 – 9:04 pace (the latter being my half marathon pace). When I got to 2 miles I hit the lap button on my Garmin and picked up the pace. I was determined to just run what felt comfortable, albeit fast; I wouldn’t keep checking my progress on Garmin.

A half mile into my speed work my darling had to make a potty stop, so we bid each other adieu. At that point I noticed a runner approximately 100 meters in front of me, running about the same pace. I was determined to pass him at some point, but I also didn’t want to speed up too quickly for fear I’d bonk at the end. As we wound our way around the lake I’d get close, but then he’d speed up and increase the gap. I’m sure I vexed him as much as he vexed me. I finally hit mile 4 and exited the outer loop for a nice leisurely jog along the inner loop (I’m sure my tormentor was more than happy to see me go).

Given it was not only a holiday, but a sunny day to boot, I knew the inner loop would be packed. It didn’t bother me for the first mile since I wanted to cool down from my speed work, but the crowds soon became unbearable. I headed back out to the outer loop to finish out my run. When I downloaded my run upon returning home I was shocked to see what my average pace was for my speed work: 8:46! Goes to show what you’re capable of if you take things slow in the beginning.


Published February 17th, 2008

Pfitz, Week 2 (33 miles)

Week 2 — your new Delta Tau Chi name is “Quads, They Burn.”

I’m DEFINITELY feeling the effects of increased mileage during the week. In looking through my past training schedule, I realized the last time I ran more than six miles during the week was my 9-mile birthday run in November. Although I racked up 150 miles in December, my longest runs were on the weekends when I hadn’t been standing all day cooking.

To make matters worse, I’ve decided to do two other exercises I hate (in addition to planks): lunges and squats. Actually, I should say I’ve decided to follow my physical therapist’s advice and do the exercises as they help build my core. For the lunges, I hold a 4 lb. medicine ball out in front of me, lunge forward on one leg, turn to each side, then come up to standing. I then repeat on the other leg. For the squats, I cross my arms at chest height and then squat.

On Monday I did 10 lunges on each leg and two sets of 15 squats. That afternoon I ran a little over 8 miles, which included speed work, so by Tuesday morning my quads were pretty sore. Of course my yoga teacher decided we were ready for new poses — the triangle and pigeon — plus she had us do more warrior poses. My quads didn’t appreciate the extra work and I grumbled and groaned throughout.

Although I refrained from doing the lunges and squats on Wednesday, my quads were still sore during the afternoon run. I must be a masochist, as I chose a rather hilly route for the 10 miles. We live at the bottom of Phinney Ridge, and the run took us over the ridge (I swear the hills are at a 45-degree angle!) Thursday was either a cross-training or rest day, and considering it was Valentine’s Day I chose the latter (I wanted to get an early start so I’d get home in time to prepare a nice dinner for my darling).

On Friday I was ready to do some more lunges and squats (in addition to my typical arm weight routine), but since my cook date went so long I ended up bagging on my 5-mile afternoon recovery run. Sure, I felt guilty, but I didn’t get home until well after 6 p.m., and by then it was dark and rainy. I vowed to make up for some of it during the next day’s long run, and boy did I. The beginning of the run followed the same route as Wednesday’s, but it also included the loop trail through Discovery Park, which is also quite hilly. Although I was scheduled for a 13-miler on Saturday, it ended up being just under 15. With the extra mileage I ran earlier in the week, I’m only behind a mile and a half.

Published February 10th, 2008

Pfitz, Week 1 (33 miles)

One week down, 17 to go (damn that sounds like a lot). The training this week wasn’t much different than what I’ve already been doing, but I have to admit there were a couple of times I almost postponed due to crappy weather. But then I reminded myself that attitude won’t get me to Boston, so I laced up and headed out.

I know the hardest runs will be the mid-week ones. I actually relish the weekend long runs, but I typically keep my mid-week runs to eight miles or less. That distance is just the starting point with Pfitz; by week nine I’ll have a 14-mile mid-week run, and several 10-12 milers on other weeks (just what I want to do after standing on my feet all day). But fortunately I’m typically home from my cook dates by 3:30 and it won’t start getting dark until at least 5:30-6 p.m.

I’m also finding it tough to keep my pace slow for my general aerobic and recovery runs. For the former, I should be keeping it to a 9:30-9:45 pace; the latter should be 9:45-10:00. I’m also finding my heart rate seems to get pretty high, even though I don’t feel I’m putting in a lot of effort. However, it’s not too far off, so I’m not going to worry about it too much.

As for my weight? sigh. I’ve been a very, very bad girl. My darling and I decided to hit happy hour on Thursday, splurging on margaritas, chicken wings, Southwestern spring rolls and calamari (oh, and cupcakes from Cupcake Royale). On Friday we met up with friends at Shorty’s for pinball, hotdogs and nachos (oh, and a burger and fries at Dick’s on the way home). We were much more sensible on Saturday, preparing a huge salad with garbanzo beans and loads of veggies. (Oh, I guess I forgot to mention the aprés run mac & cheese and the evening martini. But hey — we were watching Casino Royale; how could we NOT have a shaken martini?). Today my darling joined some friends for the “Love ’em or Leave ’em” 5K at Greenlake; I however, decided to prepare brunch treats for everyone in the form of ooey-gooey caramel-pecan rolls and Southwestern strata. Looks like it’ll be lettuce leaves for the rest of the week!