Saturday, January 31, 2009

Candy Canes and Kona

Enough with inauguration and my shoes. It's back to business.

Back to business meant Black Monday, a day when more than 75,000 people were laid off in the U.S. My small company was not untouched, I am sad to say, although by the grace of God I still have a job. It was a hard hard week.

On today's schedule was a 10 miler. I had to decide whether to run with my official group, the Montgomery County Road Runners Speed Development Program, or with the good ol' Snail Trails. The Snails run on a path that's about 5-minutes from my house, but it's a always a crap shoot whether there will be anyone there who is going the distance you need. I knew with the SDP (enrollment=300) I'd have plenty of company.

The SPD-ers met at 7 a.m. (RealFeel=6F) this morning at a site charmingly called Candy Cane City. Doesn't that just evoke Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? I am quite vexed and sad to report that, though scenic, there was no candy to be found.

Our pace groups are based on our most recent 10k race, which for me, was my glorious PR at the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot: 1:06. Our coach then calculated our paces for various runs (you know you love all the details):

DistanceEasyThresholdInterval RecoveryRACE, you idiot
1000 6:406:10 

So I started this morning with my group of four, and we were running 12 minute miles—on purpose!! YES!

Except, it soon started feeling...too slow.

And that's coming from someone who last week tried to run 8 miles in Charleston, South Carolina, (where I was attending a writing workshop run by Natalie Goldberg--if you've heard of her tell me what you think) and managed only SIX, in a blazing 1:20, which included the part where I fell and ripped my spiffy new New Balance running tights to shreds (size L). (Along with my knee. And hands. But the tights! Marked down to $30!!!)

This is why I will never understand running. EVER. One day your legs are encased in cement, the next day you're...only slogging through mud.


About three miles in, two runners joined our small group, and after a bit one of them asked, "Who here is a triathlete?"

Ah, the magic words. I wormed my way beside this tall fellow, P., and we started chit-chatting about triathlon, me bragging about my 4-hour Olympic finishes. Finally I realized that it would be polite to maybe ask what races he had done (ya think??) so I did, adding, jokingly "However, if you say 'Kona,' this conversation is over."

Well, you can guess the rest. He said oh Eagleman this, and Battleship that, and blah blah, ending with: "Kona Ironman Triathlon World Championships, 2004."

No you did NOT just say Kona.

I ran my 10 miles this morning with not just any old Ironman, but a KONA Ironman, with a 15-hour finish and no crawling and this guy said it was the best experience of his life. So I grilled him about it for the next eight miles or so, trying to wring out of him the part where he gave up, where his spirit wilted, where he questioned his sanity, where it all fell apart.

Nope. Nada. All he could report is how he felt: "I'm in the Kona Ironman and you're going to have to surgically remove the smile from my face."

Me: "But...didn't it hurt? Didn't your BUTT get sore?" (I'm detail-oriented like that.)

Him: "Well yes! Duh! But I'm in the Kona Ironman and you're going to have to surgically remove the smile from my face."

Well then what about after, I bet you needed an IV, almost collapsed, legs fell off?? "I went back to the condo, went to sleep, woke up thirsty after 4 hours so had a drink of water, hung around the pool the next day, and then went horseback riding."


Plus, this fellow is starting a new tri club: Montgomery County Multisport Club. (P., just put the check in the mail. Heh.)

Back to this morning's run. Me, P. and J. kind of left my pace group behind (which is a big no-no and I don't know quite what to do about that) and ran somewhere between 10 and 11 miles in 1:50, which puts my pace somewhere between 10:30 and 11 minute miles.

The fastest 10 (or 11) miles I've ever run--ever!

Someone has to explain how running 12:15 minute miles on my long runs is going to make me faster. Cuz I'm not buying it.


Dan said...

So, what I'm hearing're starting to save money for the 'Kona', right?

Kelly said...

I love running into other triathletes (pun not intended). I saw a guy yesterday at the Miami airport who was wearing an Ironman shirt. If I wasn't running late, I would've stopped and said hi (we triathletes are friendly folks, no?)

ShirleyPerly said...

Yes, Kona is a very magical place. The ocean, heat, lava and winds seduce you. I have yet to have a bad swim, bike or run there even if things did not go as well as expected.

I think the theory to running long and slow has to do with increasing the nbr of capillaries in your muscles, cardiac output and training your body to burn fat more efficiently, all of which could help improve your long distance running abilities. Not running your long runs too fast also reduces the risk of injuries and should help you to recover faster. A variation that some people, myself included, like to do is run most of a long run at a slow steady pace but finish the last few miles at your desired race pace.

Calyx Meredith said...

a) I can't decide if I'm jealous or not that you went to a Natalie Goldberg seminar! I use her practice exercises from Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind all the time, but I'm not sure I'd be Zen enough to deal with her in person. Will you post about whether you liked it or not?!

b) How totally cool to run with an iron person of the Kona persuasion! I bet those miles flew by.

peter said...

An old saw says that to run fast you gotta run fast. I think that's where you're getting to, with your need to increase your pace, especially when the faster P showed up. But Shirley is right too, that fat burning/building your aerobic engine requires you to do LSDs slow. It's complicated. So if you're planning to win at Kona, throttle back and train your body to look around for glycogen to burn or fat or whatever it finds and is used to as you strategically run with and anticipate outpacing the Kenyans in the last mile. Short of that, if you're an American, get out there and run.

Neal Carlton said...

I have the same reaction to folks I've seen or met who have done Kona. I just want to touch them. On the arm. Or ear. Or ankle. Or wherever. It's weird, I know.

David said...

Is Kona a new kind of rum?

So you took up with this guy and flew away from the pace group. How irresponsible is that?

I applaud your selection of starting with the WCRRSDP, even if they are a mouth-full.

And running is not something to understand. It is something you do from which knowledge just happens. Go with it.

Susan said...

Whoa - Kona! WOW!

Sorry about your pants. That would tick me off!

MOCO Paul said...

Hi Jeanne, Jodi and I had a great time with you this morning too! Thanks for spreading the good vibe on a cold but otherwise beautiful morning in Rock Creek. I have photos from the 2008 IM Kona week up on the Montgomery County Multisport Facebook group (thanks for linking it) if anyone cares to look. We are launching this year with rides & runs and are looking for all who want to bring a little triathlon 'aloha' to Montgomery County.

Best, Paul (MOCO pres)

jeanne said...

see, look people, I really DON'T make these things up!

Thanks Paul.

FloridaGirl said...

I remember in one of her books, Natalie talked about trying to run, but if I recall correctly, she moved on to yoga.

I have been to two Goldberg writing seminars and it was great!

Thomas said...

I love that Kona smile story. I just hope I'll feel the same in Boston, no matter how much it hurts!

Anne said...

I'm sorry about the downsizing at your company. The guilt of being kept (for now) is killing me inside. Especially when you know you might be next and am powerless to do anything about it.

I read Writing Down to the Bone many, many years ago. I recall being impressed at the time, though now I don't remember much except that her father believed in 'doing your best' as his life's mantra. Was the workshop worth it?

Petraruns said...

Hee hee sorry Anne's comment about the mantra. Trying your best - no kidding.

But I am very interested in this workshop about which you're being very cagey ..

LBTEPA said...

Noooo! Not your bargain pants!!
But HOW COOL to be running with an a) Ironman b) who's done Kona and c) is not a complete tosser (the triple combination is very rare!)

Sunshine said...

Bought the "Writing Down the Bones" a long time ago.. but it didn't make me a published author. Maybe if I could have heard the author in person??

Best wishes for your continuing training... I'm cheering!

21stCenturyMom said...

I bought Writing Down the Bones but have yet to read it. Uh oh.

I think the whole 'run slow to get fast' program only works if you are using a HRM and can use target zones and stuff. Othewise I'm with Peter - just run faster to run faster. You are getting MUCH faster. Way to go!

Rainmaker said...

Startin' to hang out with the Kona folks ehh?

Will you still be around to hang out with all us little peeps? ;)

IHateToast said...

black monday? i'm glad i'm back in oz where we don't get every depressing story out of the u.s. glad you're still employed even if it means darning your own tights.

Vickie said...

Yeah, I'm having a little mental trouble adding up how running slower to be faster equates, but in my case, I've pretty much resigned myself to just finishing. Great job on acquiring your speed. You will be faster this year, no doubt!

Zinazinabobina said...

Should have tripped him.

"I ran Kona so now the sun shines out of my butt. Oh how deliciously it burns!"

Just12Finish said...

Cool story.

I'll add Kona to my list. Right after Boston. Sigh.