Marathon Training Recap: Weeks 4-6

There is no denying it: we are in full fledged marathon training mode right now.

From that first 14 miler, the exhaustion, and the “runner tan” (racer back, shorts, compression socks), to the telling our friends that we couldn’t try SUP yoga with them because, running. All the time. I even kind of look forward to Mondays because I can actually sleep in.

We’re up to 40+ miles per week, hitting a 17 mile run last Saturday followed by an 8 mile run on Sunday.  I still consider this my “building” phase, but in about 2 weeks, we enter into 6 weeks of…is there a more elegant/anatomically more accurate way of expressing “balls to the wall?” We are just 2.5 weeks away from our first 20 miler of this training cycle, and I’m kind of amazed at how fast and how undramatic the last 6+ weeks of training have been.  I love drama-free runs! (knocks on wood…well, wood laminate anyway).

20140618-130119-46879990.jpgThis is me knocking on wood laminate right now

20140618-125919-46759983.jpgPost 17 miler soak in the ice cold river felt AMAZING

Overall, I wouldn’t say I’m getting faster, but I am holding paces within goal range as we increase time and distance, so my endurance appears to be developing.  I will focus more on speed during the BaToThWa period once that endurance has been built.  During my last training cycle, one of the lessons I learned was not to push it too hard too early into training because that only led to me screwing up my legs and having to sit out training runs when it was actually important.  A fast 800 repeat in week 3 does not equal a goal marathon.

This time around, we’re also kind of eating like adults on a regular basis.  Less happy hour friend food, and even less burritos!  I won’t say less booze because I would probably be lying if I did.  BUT, we are gradually trying to switch from beer to wine in order to accommodate Aaron’s gluten issues. And with all of this healthy eating, I feel the stomach issues much harder than I did before, so even when we do spring for the absolutely delicious nachos at our neighborhood pub, I immediately regret that decision.  It took me 3 days after a work potluck for my digestive system to return to normal.  I’m hoping all of this “healthy eating” nonsense will help come race day because I miss my nachos.

20140618-130203-46923007.jpgYummy, but a little too healthy for my taste. 

20140618-125921-46761692.jpgWe pretty much incorporate our garden kale into every meal. EVERY MEAL. 

WORKOUT RECAP:

I’m like 3 weeks behind, so instead of listing all of the workouts from the last 3 weeks, I’ll just provide highlights:

* Up to 17 miles for long runs

* Consistently holding about a 9:33 average pace for long runs with a few miles sub-9 and usually 1 sub-8 mile per run (I don’t seem to warm up or get into a groove until mile 8-9, and then suddenly faster miles seem effortless)

* Hitting 800′s in the 3:27-3:40 range…a bit slower than I want, but at least there has been no more puking! I even got through yesterday’s workout nausea-free!

* Tempo miles averaging between 7:45-7:56

* All but 1 run, a recovery jog, have been outside (not on a treadmill)…the treadmill run was actually on National Running Day because temps were too high.

20140618-130521-47121186.jpgI took this treadmill selfie to prove that I ran on NRD, but I couldn’t bring myself to publish. Until now. 

We have our first “Back Down Off It” weekend this weekend which I am really excited about.  We have a fast 13 on Saturday AND A REST DAY ON SUNDAY.  I don’t even know what I’m going to do with all of those extra hours of sleep.  But then we go right back up the following  weekend for 19 + 9, so the rest is short lived.

And that’s it for now! Hope your training is going wonderfully!

Marathon Reflection Monday: 1 WEEK!

(First, I MISSED NATIONAL BEER DAY! I mean, not really since we enjoyed some locally brewed La Cumbre Malapais stout yesterday, but I didn’t celebrate with purpose).  

Holy cow! We are SEVEN days until GO time.  Not quite close enough to determine race day weather with any certainty (looking like high 50′s with a chance of rain), but not quite enough time to “cram study” my way to a passing grade (at this point of every year, I start having nightmares about passing finals even though my college career is long over…for now…).

weather

While I haven’t been doing a lot of “blog” marathon reflecting this time around, I have been thinking a lot about what mistakes I’ve made, what I would do differently, and at what point everything changed from “on track for a super PR” to “not so much.”  Basically, I’m giving myself this one last whine fest, and then starting tomorrow, we are transforming to the intense mental workout that will hopefully carry me from Hopkinton to Newton and on into Boylston Street. Preferably on my own two feet as opposed to in an ambulance.

I made no secret over the fact that I didn’t love marathon training during Chicago.  Crossing the finish line to my first marathon was amazing, but I was re-reading my race recap, and I state very clearly that I didn’t want to make marathons a habit.

But I figured since I got the chance to run the marathon of all marathons, that I should probably soak up the experience and push for a very respectable PR time.  And I started training for marathon #2 in January.

I  had pretty high hopes going into this race.  For one, at the beginning of last training in June, I was at a 1:47 half.  At the beginning of this training, I was at a 1:41 half, meaning I was starting stronger and faster.  My first official run was 7 miles at marathon pace (about 8:10).  My first official run of last training cycle was a 7 mile long run that felt absolutely terrible.  And, there would be none of those dreaded 96 degree temperatures.

But my mindset going in was a bit different.  For one, I didn’t have the goal to re-qualify because I already have a 2014 qualifier (not that it guarantees anything), so the drive to accomplish a specific time goal was significantly less.

And as much as I complained about training in the heat of summer, as it turns out, I’m a much bigger wimp when it comes to cold weather.  During the winter I had to either run at night (dark and scary), or run in 10 degree temperatures in the morning, and a lot of times I just hung out on the treadmill.  And when winter gave way to spring, my allergies took over (they still are) making breathing feel much harder than it should.  And, when the time changed and there was daylight and warmth…well, let’s just say patio happy hour felt far more appealing than running. But then I would feel bad and try and run after happy hour. And running hard after happy hour doesn’t feel as good.

But all of that was easy overcomable.

Unfortunately, I made 3 sabotaging mistakes this training cycle that hindered my success:

1) Not letting myself completely heal after Chicago.  During my last 20 miler in September, my calf suddenly started bothering me to the point that I barely ran in the 2 weeks leading up to Chicago.  During the race, I was fine, but within hours after finishing, that little calf issue turned into a big problem.  I couldn’t run for 3 weeks post marathon.

The calf issue was kind of annoying through RnR Arizona half training  but nothing too bad, and I jumped into marathon training, even though it wasn’t completely pain free.  Three weeks ago, it got to the point where running was impossible.  And it hasn’t gotten better despite desperate efforts to fix it (I have session #2 with the sports chiro dude, so I’m hoping for good things).  I run one day and have to take the next couple of days off, which hasn’t lined up with the training plan very well.  I have lost speed and I have lost endurance.  I am not in as good of shape as I was before Chicago.

2) 12 Week Training Cycle.  For Chicago, I did 16 weeks, and it worked fine.  I chose the 12 week cycle because Hal Higdon’s “Boston Bound” plan said it was ok, and because I wanted to finish the RnR Arizona half before I started training, BUT I also thought that I would have a stronger base built at that point.  In the end, I ramped up faster than I was ready, probably not helping the calf issue.

3) Getting caught up in the mileage envy.  Right at the beginning of training, I started secretly reading Boston training blogs and they all had one thing in common: significantly more mileage than I was doing.  I panicked and started doing more weekly mileage than my plan (which worked PERFECTLY for Chicago) called for (see also, ramping up too fast above).  This bombed fast.  I don’t think I ever got a complete week in.  I was either hurting or burned out.

I burned myself out on running and managed to get hurt as wel, which are really inconvenient ways to enter into a marathon.

I don’t want to get completely down because who knows what will happen on April 15th.  I believe in the power of confidence and positive thinking, and I still somewhat believe I can will myself to a decent race time.  And truly, even though I’m not in PR shape, I should still finish in about 3:45, which isn’t a terrible time by any stretch of the imagination.

I’m comforted by the number of people who emphasize that Boston is a “victory lap” and shouldn’t be used to PR. Stressing out over a time goal or an unsuccessful training schedule is counterproductive to the experience.  Also, Meb dropped out last week due to a lingering calf injury which is a reminder that even elites have bad training cycles.

And on the upside of all of this, I have been much less stressed this time around.  I haven’t been having marathon nightmares, and taper has been much more relaxing.

So, now that my marathon sadness session is over, we can transform to the mental workout and CHEERLEADING! Time to prepare for the pain and resolve to push through it!

Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Running Update: 18 Days Until Boston

Hi friends!

So, I’ve been kind of holding off on this post because 1) I haven’t had very much spare time recently (I feel like I haven’t had spare time since January), and 2) I was trying to wait until I wasn’t angry about this dumb leg and its dumb inability to move without pain (just like I was trying to wait to run until after I could walk up the stairs without hurting, but since neither of those things have happened, here we are).

I am angry about my dumb leg and its dumb inability to move without pain.

Since last we spoke about marathon training, I had just completed an uneventful 20 miler 2.5 weeks ago.  YAY! 20 miler complete, ability to complete marathon verified.

Then I attempted some mile repeats (finally running a sub-7 minute mile for the first time this training cycle) which caused massive shin splints.  Annoying, but not a big deal. I rested for a couple of days, and everything was ok. BUT THEN, when the shin splints were not bothering me any more, the dumb calf thing appeared out of nowhere (during a rest day) AGAIN and started hurting AGAIN.

More rest. More annoyance.  Mild panic over the fact that my most crucial training weeks were rapidly being wasted.  I did however buy a bag of Easter egg Reese’s cups (they were on sale at Target!), and eat them.

Then, last weekend, I ran Bataan (bad Amy) but at a slower pace than I wanted, not because I was being cautious, but because I hurt so bad.  When I caught up to my dad, he asked me if everything was ok since he was expecting me to pass him long before.  I said no, as a matter of fact, I wasn’t ok.  But, as I mentioned in that epically long Bataan post, that particular race really changes one’s perception of “discomfort.” And, at mile 10 my body just stopped caring and the pain went away.  Until I crossed the finish line and remembered it.  Then it came back.

MORE rest.

I didn’t run all week.  I tried once, but I got less than 2 miles in before having to stop.

Sunday was scheduled as our final long run.  We had chosen the course weeks ago as a ridiculously challenging 22 miler with a steep uphill and a steep downhill, up and down until mileage was complete.  A 10K is actually run on this course…it is called, “The World’s Toughest 10-K.”  My goal was to mimic the long downhill stretches followed by long uphill stretches of the Boston course.

Tramway Elevation

It sucked for the following reasons:

1) I was throw-up sick both Friday and Saturday (this happens for no apparent reason every once in awhile, and no, I’m absolutely not pregnant), so most of what I ate didn’t stick around long enough to provide energy or nutrients,

2) The course included almost 1,000 feet of elevation gain over 4.5 miles (meant to make the Newton Hills look easy),

3) Intense spring winds made downhills feel like work (even Aaron said so!).  My average pace was 10:20 which was not confidence boosting.

Thanks to a fabulous bacon themed party the night before, we stayed up past our bedtime and woke up late/got a later start than planned, and I ran out of time.  I only got in 19.6 miles instead of the 22 I had wanted to run.

Luckily, the course ended at a resort (we’re so clever!), and we headed straight into a massage (slightly ironic that the massage was the cause of my run being cut short).  It simultaneously felt amazing and painful.  I told the masseuse to let out her life frustrations on my calf, and she did.

But I still hurt.

It isn’t an injury.  Nothing is broken.  It just hurts.  I’m making an appointment with a sports chiropractor (thanks, Beth!), and I’m hoping he doubles as a miracle worker.

I’m able to run, but not fast.  I’ve lost 2 weeks of training and my last long run wasn’t long enough to satisfy me (I considered attempting 20 miles again this weekend but I have decided against it).  And we are EIGHTEEN DAYS AWAY from Boston.

So, my training isn’t suggesting that I’ll hit 3:30 much less even match my Chicago time (not that I won’t fight to the death to try). But I am excited nonetheless.

My Runner’s Passport and welcome brochure came in the mail this week which was comparable in excitement level to getting my first college dorm and roommate assignment. In just a few short weeks, I’ll be lining up in Hopkington and running this amazing race.  IMG_6120

Also, thanks again for all of your kind words regarding the Bataan Memorial Death March! I shared a photo album (from someone else) on the blog’s facebook page if you want a better idea of what that race looked like!

I hope everyone is having a good week!

Marathon Reflection Monday: 41 Days Until Boston

Today officially marks the half-way point of my Boston marathon training.  Well, that went by fast!  I have three weeks left of actual training before the taper, and this is the point where I (and apparently most people) start having a minor freak-out (because I haven’t been freaking out the rest of the time?).

The taper crazies are definitely, well, crazy, but there is another perhaps more intense type of panic that occurs when you still have time to make a difference.

I feel faster and I feel stronger than I did at this point in Chicago training, but my mileage has been much more in line with a half marathon training program (I haven’t even hit 40 miles a week yet).  And I also don’t feel like I’m working as hard.  It might just be that everything feels easier the second time around, but I truthfully don’t feel like I’ve put forth as much effort.

So, I don’t really know what’s going to happen at the start line in 6 weeks.  It is quite tempting to go Rocky Balboa style for the next three weeks, but I know the “right” answer is not to over-train.

The Boston Marathon actually has a really helpful social media presence, and they posted this on Thursday.

Training TipBE CONFIDENT WITH WHERE YOU ARE WITH YOUR TRAINING. I mean, I’m not, but all I can do is finish out strong and make the most of the time I have.

My plan for the next few weeks is to really rededicate myself to injury prevention. Now is the time to make sure that my core is strong and my quads are adequately prepared for a mostly downhill course.  I didn’t put “get 8 hours of sleep” on my checklist, but I probably should have because I have been going to bed way too late and waking up way too early.  So, sleeping will be a priority. As will making sure that my body is prepared to successfully finish the last two long runs (two twenty milers).

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I have created a facebook page for the blog.  I’m not too concerned with how many “likes” I can get, but I would like to have a place for all of my running related links/pictures/etc. that doesn’t impose on the news feeds of my personal facebook friends who have likely all unsubscribed from me already.  I’ll very likely use this more than twitter since I’m considerably more comfortable with facebook.  You can like me HERE.

facbookWorkout Recap

Based on a lot of advice, I decided to take things pretty easy last week in order to not push myself into injury.  Also, last week my job had me on my feet all day on a concrete floor (easily walking 4 miles a day on said floor) which surprisingly tired me out, and made my legs ache.  My little desk-dweller body isn’t used to not sitting down for that many hours. I’m hoping this was the main cause of my heavy legs all week. We did yoga three times this week just to make sure that all my muscles were loosened up and less prone to causing sudden bursts of sharp pain because that wasn’t too fun.

Monday: Rest (still trying to figure out and heal the weirdness from the failed long run)

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: 1 hour spin, plus 2 easy miles to test the waters

Thursday: 5 mile tempo run: I accidentally ran too far.  I only like to add .5 miles per week to my tempo distance, but I mis-remembered last week’s distance, and added a full mile.  7.1 miles total (8:04 pace).

Friday: 3 easy miles

Saturday: 14.2 miles (9:05 pace).  This is back down off it week, so our long run was shorter.  Overall, I felt ok.  Still having issues with that side calf that has been bothering me for weeks now, but no leg spasms, and no problems afterward.

Sunday: 3 easy miles.

Marathon Goals:

SO CLOSE to hitting all of my goals! As I’m heading into these last few weeks, I’m rededicating myself to getting those goals accomplished.  If over-training isn’t encouraged, then at least I have six weeks to make a difference with the little details.

IMG_6046Hope everyone has a fantastic week! It is suddenly springtime here (this week anyway), and I couldn’t be happier!

 

 

 

Marathon Reflection…Uh Whatever Day This Is: 45 Days Until Boston

This week has been weird.  Typically, I sit at a desk for 8 hours a day and take an hour long lunch break where I can blog stalk, but this week I’ve been out of the office (in a warehouse moving and staging office furniture) with a 20 minute “standing up” lunch break and no computer access. But hey, I’ve gotten to wear running shoes and workout clothes to work all week! I don’t feel so bad for not getting Marathon Reflection Monday out somewhere in the vicinity of Monday, but I do feel bad for not having the chance to get caught up on everyone’s training.  Hopefully everyone is doing well! 

I’m not going to say that I’m injured, because I don’t necessarily think that I am.  I don’t think anything is broken, torn, or sprained.  But I think I’m slowly falling apart.  I feel like the runner equivalent of The Wicked Witch of The West, slowly melting into a giant puddle of green mush.

I did something on Saturday that I’ve never done during a training cycle before (dun dun dun). For the first time ever, I didn’t complete a long run that I started.

Truthfully, it was one of those runs that seemed to not really want to happen in the first place (check it out…foreshadowing!).  We had 19 miles on the schedule.  I woke up and had no energy. Aaron handed me the sunscreen and the thought of reaching my arm out to grab it seemed exhausting.  It wasn’t tired in the “I just woke up” sense.  It was a tiredness that affected every bone in my body.  But, I kept getting ready and we managed to get ourselves out the door.  But of course my Garmin beeped “low battery” as we headed out.

The run started off ok.  It wasn’t as fast as last week’s long run, nor did it feel as effortless.  But we soldiered on.  We made it through the 7.5 miles of uphill,  turned the corner, and had started on the faster, flatter part of the run.

And then it happened.

Right as we hit the 9.75 mile point, a painful spasm engulfed my leg and stopped me in my tracks. Stemming from under my knee, it felt more “nerve” related than muscle related, and it made me cry out in pain.  I tried stretching for a bit, tried running again, even tried to convince myself that it didn’t hurt THAT badly (it totally did), but as my Garmin beeped “10″ (and then died…much like my run), I knew there was no way I could run another step. This, on my good leg…the leg that hasn’t been giving me any problems this whole training cycle.

Unfortunately, we were just over the halfway point of our run, and almost at the farthest point out.  From where we were, our house was about 5 miles away.  So, Aaron and I walked home, hand in hand, looking like the most over-prepared walkers with our fuel belts.  It was a moment that made me completely grateful for my husband.  I would have been crying had he not been there to help me laugh the situation off.

At a few points along the way, I tried running again, but I would only make it a few strides before the spasms started.

Saturday’s workout ended up being 15 miles in something like 3 hours and 15 minutes (at least I got lots and lots of time on my feet!).

After getting home and analyzing the situation, I’m positive that nothing is broken/torn/strained. But after stretching/rolling/yoga, it is very evident that my leg muscles are tighter than they have ever been.  I’m positive that the tight muscles in my right leg caused me to over compensate with my left leg, tightening those muscles to the point that other things were  getting pulled, causing the spasms.

Sunday, I decided to do my miles on the treadmill so if something weird happened, I wouldn’t have a long walk ahead of me.

I only ran 5 miles…in other words, I didn’t get anywhere near my target mileage this weekend.  I still don’t know if it was the right decision to keep Sunday’s run so short (or if it was the right decision to take Monday and yesterday as rest days).

But every muscle in my legs is tight right now and running won’t loosen them up.  And the incredible number of injuries that I’ve seen over the last month are making me perhaps more paranoid than normal.  A painfully tight muscle today is just waiting to turn into plantar fasciitis, a stress fracture, or a myriad of other issues.  I’m taking all of the proper measures (icing, rolling, massage, rest, etc. etc. etc.), but I haven’t run without pain since last Saturday, and it is getting old.

It is kind of funny though.  Before that happened, I had a great week of training.  It seems that when I have a really bad week of training, my long run feels great.  When I have a great week of training, my long run hurts.  Just another reminder that I have a long way to go before I figure out how in the heck to train for marathons.

Workout Recap

Monday: 4.5 mile recovery run

Tuesday: 4 mile tempo run with 1 mile warm up and 1 mile cool-down (6.1 miles total, 8:14 pace).  Tempo pace ranged from 7:20-8:00

Wednesday: 1 hour spin, 1 mile walk

Thursday: 4 miles at half marathon pace (overall average pace 7:53)

Friday: Organized group workout: 2 hours of weights/abs/treadmill (I walked)/body pump/body jam/spin…I took this workout as easy as I could without looking like a bad sport.  The trainer in charge of the treadmill section even asked if I was ok since I was walking so slow.  Perhaps I didn’t take it easy enough?

Saturday: Long run (ish): 10 miles running, 5 miles walking, 3:15 hours on my feet and a bruised ego

Sunday: 5 not-so- fast miles

TOTAL MILES: 36.6 (should have been 44)

Marathon Goals:

Despite the terrible long run, this was a great workout week.  I’m hoping that I can finally hit a 2 week streak this week!

IMG_5870

*ALSO I’m trying not to make this a pity party.  I do feel a weird sense of guilt for not completing an important long run, but I have to remember that it isn’t the end of the world.  I think I’m just in a grumpy mood in general this week (being on your feet all day is actually really tiring), so that isn’t helping. And I’m thankful that even though everything DOES hurt, at least I’m not actually injured (KNOCKS OBNOXIOUSLY LOUD ON WOOD).

Have you ever had to cut a long run short? 

Marathon Reflection Monday: 55 Days Until Boston

First, I need some grammar help!

I always kind of throw a title into my blog posts at the last minute without too much thought.  I called my last one “The Caddywonked Way By Which We Are Getting to Boston” in much this fashion. But then I suddenly woke up at 2 in the morning worrying that I was committing grammar travesty (this is by far not the weirdest thing that has panicked me in the middle of the night).  I won’t say that I’m a grammarista.  I’m definitely one step above the two/to/t00 people, but ask me to determine participles, or prepositional phrases, and I’m going to have to Google it first.

So, when trying to determine if my title was correct or if “The Caddywonked Way WITH Which We Are Getting to Boston” was more correct, I came across lots of explanations about inanimate objects, direct agents, passive voice, etc, but none of them really helped me out (and yes, I did start googling at 2 am).  Does “the way” get us to Boston, OR do we get to Boston using “the way?” So, I tried switching into the active voice (I think) to see which sounded better: Are we getting to Boston by a way or we are getting to Boston with a way.  Instinct is telling me “with” (so I’ve changed it), but I’m not completely sure.  If any grammar people out there can tell me what the right answer is, and most importantly why, I would appreciate it!

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One of the reasons I dislike training for marathons is the fact that I never feel completely healed.  Just as soon as something gets better, something else starts hurting.  And even though I’m trying super hard not to freak out about every little pain, I am in fact starting to freak out about every little pain.

Last week, I had the weird sore throat (I even went to the doctor to confirm that I wasn’t dying). And I had the heel pain.  Then,  just when everything seemed to get back to normal, the side of my tibia really started bothering me and I started to have sharp pains while running. STRESS FRACTURE was my first thought.  So, I laid off the running for a couple of days (this started happening on Wednesday…right after I had just been to the doctor of course).  After a pain free long run on Saturday, I’ve determined that it probably isn’t a stress fracture, but now both my IT bands (which haven’t hurt since October) are both tight and annoying.

Thanks, Running. I needed that.

Half Marathon Land doesn’t hurt this much. Just sayin.

But, all that being said, I am consistently amazed at how much easier this whole thing is the second time.  Yes, my body does hurt 100% of the time, but I don’t feel anywhere near as miserable as I did the first time around.  I hate to say it, but I can kind of see now how people agree to do this more than once…or twice!

Coincidentally, Chicago registration opens up tomorrow at noon CST.  I would be lying if I said I wasn’t itching to sign up again.  I would get to run in B corral this time!  It will take a lot of willpower to step away from http://www.ChicagoMarathon.com tomorrow.  Last year it sold out in about 6 days, so if you are considering this race, make sure to sign up right away!

Workout Recap:

Monday: I was convinced that I had strep throat, so I took a rest day just in case.  WEENIE AMY.

Tuesday: 7 easy miles.  By this point, I was actually going crazy, and I needed to run.  I also knew that the upcoming 26+ weekend wouldn’t be so good without some mileage during the week.  So I put in 2 miles before work and 5 after work.  It was my first “two a day” workout, and I think it was a good solution.  I got a decent amount of miles in without putting a lot of strain on my body.

Wednesday: 4 easy miles.  By this point I was diagnosed with a simple “virus” so I knew I could workout without any major problem.  Until my tibia started hurting.

Thursday: I had good intentions, but only managed 1.5 miles before having to shower up for work.  Being a good Valentine takes a lot of time and effort!

Friday: This is about when I was convinced that I had a stress fracture.  I had been planning on a very easy 3, but decided day of not to risk it.  I didn’t want to break myself.  I did go out for a 2 mile walk though.

Saturday: Aaron and I set out for 17.5 miles.  I couldn’t have asked for this run to go any better.  Nothing hurt, I managed to keep a decent pace along the long uphill stretches, and the miles flew by!  Average pace was 8:57, making this the first sub-9 minute mile marathon long run.  I only hope the last 3 long runs are just as confidence boosting!  I also think maybe taking it easy during the last couple of weeks really helped.  Being sick isn’t fun, but boy does it feel great when you’re running on fresh legs.  We headed to the hot tub at the gym afterwards, and my muscles were just a bit sore, but otherwise everything was working properly.

IMG_0614{Mile 12 water break.  I promise I didn’t ask him to take this picture! Also, check out that sun! I got pretty sunburn, but at least the weather is getting warmer! Also, could my smile be any doofier?}

Sunday: 8.69 miles with an average 8:42 pace. I  don’t think I was properly hydrated or fueled for this run, and I wasn’t feeling very motivated to push the pace.  I had wanted to be closer to the 8:00-8:25 average, but that’s ok.  My IT bands did tighten up later in the afternoon though, so now I’m dealing with that.

TOTAL MILEAGE: 41.69.

Marathon Training Goals:

I don’t know what happened this week.  Was it the mystery illness that turned out to be nothing? Or maybe the holiday also known as “eat lots of chocolate and drink lots of bubbly day” in the middle of the week?  Whatever happened, I neglected my goals.  I could tell by Sunday that those hamstrings that I’ve been working hard to establish were fading, and my abs were starting to soften. (It makes me so angry that muscles take weeks to build up, but start going away with just a few days of neglect).  I actually considered hopping on the elliptical on Saturday afternoon (after the 17.5 mile run) to get the cross-training in, but managed to convince myself that doing so would completely defeat the purpose of preventing injury.  I’m very happy that common sense won that battle! I’m already back on track.  I think the constant threat of injury is helping me stay motivated!

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Hope everyone’s week is off to a fantastic start!

Marathon Reflection Monday: 69 Days Until Boston

First, I wouldn’t be an American if I didn’t mention the spectacle that took place last night (because really, even if you hate football and Beyonce and commercials and an excuse to eat 10 bowls full of queso dip…not that I did…, at the very least you know that all of that took place AND you probably even know that there was a blackout if not who won).

In my “I have a degree in communication and took at least 1 adverting class” expert opinion, this year’s Super Bowl commercials were pretty creative and well constructed as a whole (except for that first Go Daddy commercial. You know what I’m talking about.  Yuck). I really  liked the M&M’s ” I would do anything for love” montage, the Audi kid who enjoyed every second of getting a black eye, the Live Mas Taco Bell commercial (esta nochhhhheeeee), and the Clydesdale horse commercial.

And the outage. I was actually laughing in an “ARE YOU SERIOUS?” type of way.  Event Coordination Fail.  I also thought Beyonce did a spectacular job and her on-stage light show was out of this world.  And  HOW AMAZING WAS IT WHEN MICHELLE AND KELLY POPPED UP ON STAGE?!?! I was the perfect age to be a big Destiny’s Child fan in the early 2000′s  (much more so than I’ve ever been a solo Beyonce fan), and even though everyone pretty much knew it was going to happen, I still got a bit emotional when the girls all sang together on stage…even though Beyonce’s microphone was obviously louder, but did anyone actually expect otherwise? Destiny’s Child, not children.

Ok.  Obligatory Super Bowl mention done.

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I think the most appropriate thing I can say right now is thank goodness for back down off it week this week.

This weekend was the first real long run duo of marathon training: 16 miles on Saturday and 8 miles yesterday.  The runs themselves weren’t so bad, but my body seems to be rebelling a bit and punished me by making it difficult to walk yesterday.  I’ve been rolling and stretching right when I get back, but for some reason, my left calf just completely knotted up.  I’m looking forward to today’s recovery run, and a shorter mileage weekend.

Speaking of  mileage, January was the first month that I’ve been actively tracking how many miles I run/walk.  It looks like I hit 98.64 for the month (yes, I am slightly annoyed that I didn’t hit an even 100).  I’m not really too concerned with what this number implies or doesn’t imply.  I’ve determined looking around blog land that I’m a pretty low-mileage marathon trainee (which served me fine the first time around). I usually base my progress on how much faster I run (determined by race times or the number of sub-8 miles I can hit during training) over how many miles I run since I’m more of a quality over quantity type person, but it is interesting to see the overall monthly total.

Anyway, this was an ok 2nd week of training.  Last week was a really crazy week both professionally and personally, and my mind was elsewhere.  I’ve always thought that running successfully comes down to a strong mental will, and I didn’t have it this week.  I’m hoping for my own 49er’s post-blackout moment!

Workout Recap:

Monday: 3 mile recovery run

Tuesday: 1 hour Spin class (cross-training)

Wednesday: 5 quarter mile hill sprints.  Mentally, I wasn’t into it at all.  4.5 miles total

Thursday: 3 miles at half marathon pace, 1 mile walk.  4.4 miles total

Friday: REST.

Saturday: 16 miles.  My Garmin died at mile 10.36, so I have no idea what my pace was.  My feet really started hurting at mile 14 (I was wearing my less supportive shoes) but otherwise, it wasn’t too bad for a long run.  I also could have run the last 5.5 miles at an average pace of 14 minute miles, but whatever.

Sunday: 8 miles.  The first 4 miles were pretty hard and I had to stop and stretch every half mile or so, but the last 4 felt great! I’ve been really trying to push hard on downhills in order to prepare for the Boston course, so I actually had to put effort into the downhill miles.  We also did yoga Sunday night which helped stretch out the sore muscles.

Marathon Training Goals:

My strategy this week was to do as much as possible early on since it is harder to eat clean during the weekends and doing squats after long runs feels about as fun as it sounds.  Mondays aren’t usually fun anyway, so eating clean wasn’t too hard to tack onto an already lackluster day. I can’t tell if any of this is actually making a difference, but I am glad that I’m starting to feel stronger again.  And I *think* I’m actually getting more flexible!

And I managed to have a perfect marathon week! I got all of my workouts in, and I achieved all my goals! Thanks to the checklist (and knowing that I’ll post it up here), I’ve really made a commitment to following through with everything even when I’d rather sit and veg on the couch (MUST DO PLANK OR BLOG FRIENDS WILL JUDGE!).

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I hope you are having a wonderful Monday! Because of last week’s craziness, I am super behind on blog stalking/paying attention to my own blog, but I hope to catch up very soon!

Rock n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon Race Recap

Rock n’ Roll Arizona is quickly becoming one of my favorite races because for the second year, I have run a PR race on this course! (you can read about last year’s experience HERE)

And, I am scary good at predicting my race times.

I went into this race with two goals: 1) to run a PR time, and 2) to run easily enough to not require a recovery period.

PRE-RACE:

We were in Phoenix for a few nanoseconds.  Aaron is the manager at a gym and it is January (aka New Year’s Resolution Hell).  He is also without an assistant manager or shift supervisor, so taking days off (even MLK Day) wasn’t an option.

On Saturday, we did an easy 2 mile shake-out run after the 6 hour drive.  Papago Park in Phoenix is one of my favorite places to run, especially in winter when there is less danger of rattlesnakes. You can mix trail running with pavement running, and the desert landscape is really beautiful.  And I enjoyed every second of wearing a tank top.

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After the run, we headed downtown to the Expo.  I spotted Run Eat Repeat Monica (very blonde, very pretty, and very well dressed) and Boring Runner Adam, both huge running bloggers that I would feel very awkward walking up and talking to.  The Brooks expo displays never fail to disappoint (Brooks is the apparel sponsor of Rock n’ Roll, so they get lots of floor space), and their carnival theme was slightly creepy, but creative.  We didn’t get to witness the Human Jesus Lizard in action, but I imagine it was quite miraculous.

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I’m not sure why they have space ships, but Journey is cool!

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I know a lot of people think expos and the crowds they draw are a pain, but I love them.  We stocked up on GU, Nuun, and compression socks at fabulous expo prices! (We’re trying out ProCompression socks since they were $22.50 for a pair….definitely different than my CEP ones, but I don’t know which I like better).

After the expo we rode the Light Rail (Phoenix’s transportation system) into Tempe and ate some tacos at a really cool restaurant called Canteen on Mill Street (Phoenix’s version of Austin’s 6th Street).  By the looks of it, it transforms into a nightclub when the sun goes down, so we got to enjoy our tacos in a very trendy setting.

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After relaxing for a bit back at the hotel, we headed to Scottsdale and ate dinner at a casual Italian restaurant called Oregano’s which is a very popular Phoenix chain (we carb-loaded here last year too).  Aaron ate a really awesome looking salad (the life of a gluten freer), but I stuck to pasta.  And it wouldn’t be carb-loading with a locally brewed Four Peaks Kilt lifter scotch ale.

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RACE DAY!

I woke up Sunday morning with something I’ve never dealt with before a race…stomach problems. Up until now I’ve been very talented at creating perfect race day conditions for myself, but I think a trip to McDonald’s on the drive into town may be the culprit.  I had serious paranoia about a terribly embarrassing accident. No runner wants to be that person.  I ate a few bites of banana hoping to settle things down.

This race runs through three different cities: Tempe, Scottsdale, and Phoenix.  We stayed in Phoenix, so we rode the light rail into Tempe (about an 8 minute ride) along with lots  of other runners! I think the one non-runner was certainly not expecting his ride to be high-jacked by a bunch of dry-fit toting people.

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We made it to race central with plenty of time. The porta potty lines weren’t as long (I think they had more this year), and gear check was organized and efficient. The race started about 20 minutes later this year than last year (7:50 for both the half and the full).  Aaron and I wished each other luck before heading into our respective corrals (Aaron was in Corral 1, and I was in Corral 2).  My stomach still hadn’t settled, but at this point there wasn’t anything I could do about it.  The gun went off, and after waiting a couple of minutes, my corral got the go ahead to RUN!

This year I lined up at the very front of my corral, so I didn’t have to deal with weaving in and out of runners.  This race places you in corrals based on an estimated finish time that YOU provide, so there are always plenty of people who probably should be in a slower corral.

One of the first things I noticed was the lack of crowd support.  Last year it seemed like most of the course was lined with cheering spectators, but it was pretty dead this year. I haven’t run with music since last May, but this was the first time I really wished I had something to distract me from the quietness.  I also saw very few race signs.  We talked to some ladies back at the hotel, and apparently the marathon course was more supported.

And the bands.  The whole point of Rock n Roll races are the bands along the course.  I think there were fewer this year, and at least 3 of them were on set breaks when I went through.  The ones playing were fantastic though, and the all-boy a capella group melted my little choir nerd heart.  One of the bands had a huge screen with their lyrics scrolling in case you wanted to sing a long.  And I think every race I’ve ever done has had a wildly enthusiastic group of Lululemon girls.  They all complimented my skirt as I ran by and Aaron was excited that they cheered a little louder for him since he was also decked out in Lulu gear.  Almost worth the price just to get extra course motivation!

And, super weirdness.  Some nice man cheered for me by name somewhere in Scottsdale (mile 6 or 7 maybe?) and I don’t know who it was.  My bib didn’t have my name on it, and I didn’t really know anyone else running the race, so I’m baffled.   It is entirely possible that another person named Amy was right next to me, but after checking out the race pictures of the two other Amy’s who finished around my time, I didn’t recognize either of them from the race (yes, I’m creepy enough to stalk the race pictures of other people named Amy). Regardless, it was a much appreciated cheer, even if it was meant for someone else!

I was seriously worried about my stomach which wasn’t handling the constant bouncing very well until about mile 6, and the sickness went away.  I don’t know what brought it on and I don’t know what made it stop, but I’m sure glad that I made it through without any incident.  At several points I considered stopping to use a porta potty, but I only spotted one group of them late in the race.

Even though my stomach settled at mile 6, at about this time it became quite apparent that I had forgotten to apply Body Glide.  I don’t know what it is about chaffing that is so terribly painful, but I remember encouraging myself to run faster so the stinging would stop sooner. Maybe I should use this as a tactic in future races?

Arizona’s course is flat for the most part.  There is a steady uphill that starts at about mile 7 and gets pretty steep at about mile 9.  And then the rest of the course is a nice downhill.

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Go Aaron, Go!

Go Aaron, Go!

Running uphill through Papago Park

Running uphill through Papago Park

I was pretty excited the whole race because all of my miles were sub-8 except for one (the uphill one), so I knew I was going to run a PR pretty early on.  I’m actually pretty proud of myself for being a smart and not going out too fast or attempting paces that I couldn’t sustain.  I had to force myself to slow down when I noticed my paces hitting 7:00 minute miles.  There is no way that I’m in shape to hold that speed for a half marathon without some pain for days after, and I couldn’t afford to push like that during this race when I’m already behind on marathon training.

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I crossed the finish line in 1:41:53, a 3 minute PR! I ran a 7:47 pace which is  EXACTLY one minute slower than my last long run pace, so I correctly predicted my finish time two weeks ago! I finished in the top 6% of all the half runners, and 42nd in my age group!

Spring toward the finish line!

Sprinting toward the finish line!

Look at that Garmin stopping action!

Look at that Garmin stopping action!

After collecting my medal (confusing since they were handing out medals for both the half and the “mini” marathon in the same place…I didn’t want to get the wrong one!), I met Aaron a little ways down the finisher chute.  Turns out he’d had a great race and had similarly hit a PR time.  He finished in 1:29:11 (6:49 average pace!) in the top 1.6% of all runners! He was pretty happy with his performance, although he wished he’d run just 12 seconds faster so he could dip into the 1:28′s.

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All races have giant horses don't they?

Giant horse!

Another great aspect of Rock n Roll races is the post race concert.  After watching Marathon Legend Frank Shorter (1972 Olympic Gold Medalist and frenemy of Steve Prefontaine) present the awards to a group that included I think 3 people from New Mexico (GO NM PEEPS!), Andy Grammar took the stage.

Frank Shorter on the right

Frank Shorter on the right

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He’s pretty “up and coming,” but I’ve heard at least 2 of his songs on the radio, and he was really adorable and interactive.  Unlike the mean man from the B-52′s who performed last year.

It takes a brave man to jump into an audience of smelly women

It takes a brave man to jump into an audience of smelly women

Meanwhile I was feeling pretty sick for a couple of hours post race, but my muscles never tightened, and overall I felt far better energy-wise than I usually do after a half marathon.

We were even able to walk to Four Peaks, home of one of my favorite beers, the Kilt lifter for some post PR celebration!

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A couple of months ago I had wanted to run this in 1:35.  I obviously came nowhere near that, or even near the 1:40 window.  I think if I didn’t have Boston training to worry about, I could have pushed it hard enough to at least get into the 1:40′s if not down to 1:40, but I’m glad that I kept my paces in check instead of getting swept up in excitement.  Because of that, I only needed 1 day of recovery while Aaron is still dealing with tight muscles and Achilles issues.

DETAILS:

Finish time: 1:41:53

Average pace: 7:47

Placement: 747/13344 overall, 177th female, 42nd female in my age group

Pre-Race Fuel: Luna Bar, about 3 bites of banana, 2 Clif Bloks

Race Fuel: 1 GU at mile 7.7

Issues: stomach yuckiness, chaffing, slight calf tightness and ankle stiffness on the right side

The Race: Fast course, great volunteers, well organized, ample water stations and fueling options pre/during/post race, plenty of bells and whistles, BUT minimal crowd enthusiasm.

Overall Impression: Happy with my performance.  It wasn’t the PR of my dreams, but I don’t think I could have gone any faster and bounced back as easily.

Marathon Reflection Monday: 83 Days Until Boston

First, thanks for all of the encouragement and congratulatory comments this weekend! Both Aaron and I ran Half PR’s yesterday at Rock n Roll Arizona! I’ll have a recap up in the next couple of days, but we were in full celebration mode yesterday afternoon!

But today we are back to business.  The Boston Marathon is in 12 weeks, and training starts today (kind of…I will either do some elliptical at the gym this evening, or take a rest day since stuff still hurts).

Welcome back to Marathon Reflection Monday! MRM is something I started doing this past summer during my quest to BQ at The Chicago Marathon.

MRM is a way for me to take a hard look at my training progress every week.  What am I doing right? What am I doing wrong? And what lessons can I take away from all this to make me a stronger runner both physically and mentally? Plus, I heartily encourage unsolicited (solicited since I encourage?) advice on everything from compression socks to electrolyte tablets.  I’m so happy that other people have found this weekly reflection post useful, and I knew a few people have started posting their own versions as well!

So, Boston training. How did I get here?

Last February, high off of RnRAZ 2012, Aaron and I decided to sign up for our first marathon (well, Aaron’s first non-Ironman marathon).  After analyzing my paces, I concluded that it was perfectly reasonable to train into a Boston qualifying time of 3:30 (twice my half time…makes sense, right?) on my first try.  Go big or go home.  I made my goals public on our first day of training.

Turns out, preparing to run a full marathon was a whole different experience than preparing to run a half marathon.  I was emotional, I was grumpy, I was hungry, everything hurt all the time, and I got discouraged sometimes on a daily basis.  But I pushed myself and kept the dream alive. Going into the race, I wasn’t very confident, but thanks in part to a flat course and perfect weather along with 4 months of solid training, I qualified with a time of 3:33:55.

Typically, Chicago falls after Boston registration closes, so I wasn’t expecting to run until April 2014.  But in a very weird turn of events, registration remained opened, and I got one of the last spots for the 2013 race. Despite an initial emotional breakdown fueled by post-marathon depression, I am actually pretty damn excited and quite humbled to run what is considered the most prestigious road race in the world. And I’m a pretty big fan of unicorns.

So here we are.

I have opted to do a 12 week training plan, which is truthfully making me extraordinarily nervous since I’ve seen Boston training recaps popping up for the last month.  I thought I’d have a better base established, and even though yesterday’s race was a little confidence booster, I know I haven’t been putting in the number of miles that I should be.  It might not have been the best decision, but it’s too late now, so I’m going to have to make the most of the 12 weeks I have.

…I haven’t quite nailed down my training schedule yet (I have the excel spreadsheet open and I’m working on it!).  Hal Higdon’s has a Boston Bound 12-week plan with two 20 milers and a two week taper, so I will likely use his long run schedule (starting with 14 miles next weekend) and use the Lavender Training Plan that got me to a BQ for all of the stuff in between.  I am playing around with the idea of substituting one 20 miler with a 22 miler, and switching some of the back down off it weeks so I can run the Bataan Half in March.

My amazing husband has offered to train with me.  He doesn’t have a marathon on his schedule, so he will be getting up and doing long runs on Saturday for no other reason than to be supportive.  I am a very lucky lady!

I’m not quite sure how to approach making a time goal time for this race.  I put a lot of pressure on myself last marathon training cycle, and looking back on my old posts, I realize that I turned all kinds of crazy when it came to hitting paces and missing workouts.   I don’t know if I want to go through that again (or if you’ll want to read crazy Amy rants again).  Plus, if I do decide that I want to run a 2nd Boston in 2014, I can “double dip” my Chicago time, so I technically already have a 2014 qualifier.

But that being said, I want to challenge myself and I always want to work to get better, so I would like to hit 3:30 (my original Chicago goal) in Boston.  This means shaving almost 4 minutes off my Chicago time, or about 9 seconds per mile.  I’m still incredibly green at the whole marathon thing, so I don’t know if that’s reasonable progress for a 12 week cycle.

Also, I’m worried about the following:

1) Weather.  Statistically, this year shouldn’t be as warm as last year.  But, yikes.

2) The late morning start time.  All of the races I’ve run have been first thing in the morning.  I’m worried about failing to nail a pre-race breakfast/hydration/bathroom routine that works for a 10:30ish start.

3) This little thing known as Heartbreak Hill.

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I train next to a mountain, so I’m used to lots of uphill running, but this tiny hill at the very end of Chicago felt epic.

Slide2This is straight from my Garmin report, but I think that giant spike in the middle is a lie. 

 

I’m always slower going uphill, so I’m worried that I’ll crash and burn trying to race the Newton Hills.

So, how am I going to conquer my fear of Heartbreak and shave 4 minutes off my Chicago time?  I still don’t really know.  Bu my training goals for the next 12 weeks include:

1) 4 days a week of weight lifting,

2) 6 days a week of core work,

3) 1 day a week of cross training (likely elliptical, spinning, or swimming),

4) rolling out my muscles and stretching every day,

5) eating completely clean 2 days a week,

6) practicing yoga once a week,

7) and remembering that there will be bad runs, that they aren’t the end of the world, and it is a waste of energy to frustrated or discouraged over them on a weekly (daily?) basis.

I’m not putting “follow the plan to an annoyingly exact degree” on here because I’ve come to realize that listening to my body is important, even if it means taking an unscheduled rest day. And I’ve proven to myself that I will push hard and strive to make the most out of each workout.  But it’s all of the little things like core work and stretching consistently that I need to work on.

In order to stay motivated, I’ve established a reward system for myself.  At first, I was thinking that I would indulge in a giant cookie for each week that I hit 100% of my goals, but then Oliver (which I pronounce Ol-eh-vah since he is British) reminded me (well, me and all of the other people who read his blog) that I’m not a dog and I shouldn’t reward myself with food.  And um, I’d probably eat the cookie regardless.

So, I will treat myself to a pedicure for every 2 weeks that I meet 100% of my goals.  I used to get pedicures all the time, but now I go maybe once a year (cheaper to do it at home), so I think this will be both motivating and rewarding since marathon training doesn’t necessarily make feet feel awesome or pretty.

So, here we go!  Another marathon training cycle kicks off!  I’ve truthfully been dreading the thought of ramping up mileage again, but the race yesterday reminded me that I love the race experience and I LOVE the feeling of crossing the finish line knowing that I’ve just hit a PR.  The harder I work now and the more effort I put into becoming a stronger runner over the next 12 weeks, the more fun I’ll have at Boston.

And if you can’t have fun at a race with something called Heartbreak Hill along the course, where can you?

Change “months” to “weeks” and this fits perfectly!

Lesson Learned: I’m a Hibernator

Operation Fast Half is coming to a close here soon (the race is in a week and a half), and if I could sum up my lessons learned during this training cycle into one phrase it would be: people don’t change. Or maybe more accurately: after 28 years of life, you should probably know yourself a little bit better.  Maybe: You can take the girl off the couch, but you can’t take the cou…I guess that one doesn’t really work.

A couple of months ago I made some cock-eyed statement about trying to hit 1:35 for this upcoming half marathon.  I ran this same race last year, coming in at just under 1:45 (1:44:53), still  my best half time yet, but I thought I could train myself down 10 minutes to a race pace I’ve only hit a couple of times during 5-K’s because:

1) I’m faster overall thanks to some intense marathon training,

2) I’m a “real” runner now who takes training more seriously than Christmas cheer,

3) I have blog friends to keep me accountable for my workouts,

4) I’ve tasted goal crushing victory and I don’t ever want to eat anything else again,

5) I didn’t train very well last year.  My last/farthest long run was 8 miles, so anything more productive than that should surly produce extraordinary results.

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I’m going to beat you! 

What I didn’t account for is that:

1) I AM faster, but it takes a bit of time to get a LOT faster (i.e. a superstar transformation usually doesn’t occur within 10 weeks),

2) Um, was I high? (No, I wasn’t, I promise).  Christmas cheer will always trump running. Always.

3) Y’all are pretty easy to ignore if I turn off my computer,

4) Cookies are pretty tasty, oh yes they are.

5) People don’t change.  Little runners who would rather hibernate than train all winter will probably always be this way.

I was doing great all November.  Speed workouts were going amazingly, and long runs were flying by.  I was eating really well, and I was motivated.

And then I transformed back into Amy circa winter 2011, going around saying, “but, it’s Christmas”  as an excuse to not get a run in, or to pick up fudge square #3.

I’ve still been running and maintaining, but I don’t think I’ve been getting the type of quality mileage required of a significant improvement.

And then all of the sudden we’re having a really cold winter.  Albuquerque can get cold, and we usually have one miserably frigid day, but we’ve had multiple days in a row where the morning temp is under 20 degrees which seems out of the ordinary.  I’m not willing to head outside for an 11 mile run on  Saturday morning if it feels like -3 outside. I know most of you deal with this all winter every year, but I am not acclimated to cold like that.

So, I’ve been running on the treadmill more. It gets the job done, but I don’t think it really translates as well into the real world.  And I definitely cut runs shorter on the treadmill than I would outside because my wall is boring to look at.

We opted out of using a formal plan for this reason.  We knew we’d be busy and cold, and that we’d spend a lot of time rearranging workouts, but I guess we thought we’d be more disciplined (Um, WHY did we think this?  PEOPLE DON’T CHANGE).

And I’ve been eating non-stop since Christmas Day (slowly getting the cookie habit back under control).  I’m probably going to run this half about 5 pounds heavier than I did last year, which translates into extra effort and likely extra added time.  (Update: Tracie posted a chart on how many minutes extra pounds add to your race time.  If’ that’s not enough to make you depressed over holiday gain, I don’t know what is).

IMG_5648My sister made us our own special batch of gluten-free cookies for Christmas morning.  Guess who ate 95% of those…

So, there you have it. I’ve been training, but not very well, and certainly not enough to shave 10 minutes off my PR time.

In retrospect, I don’t think it was a realistic goal for me to increase speed that much knowing that I’d be distracted. I think we did better on our training this year than last, so improvement was made, and  I’m faster, stronger and more race savvy thanks to a year long effort toward improvement and I can appreciate that accomplishment.

I know that I don’t slack off all the time, and I think I have a better understanding of when I thrive and when I’m better at simply maintaining.  I’ve realized that I can seriously push myself during one training cycle per year (by seriously push myself, I mean stick completely to a plan, give each workout 100%, and have running be a top priority, while consistently remembering my goal and evaluating my progress toward reaching it), and that training cycle can’t fall during the holidays.

I won’t hit 1:35 next Sunday, and I’ve already moved past it.

What is kind of worrying me is that I should have been base-building for Boston.  The day after the half, I am jumping in head first into a more intense 12 week marathon program.  I’m taking my weekly mileage from about 15-25 miles all the way up to about 55 pretty fast, which isn’t really what I wanted to happen.  And if I only want to seriously push myself for one training cycle per year, then I want this one to be it, so slacking off for the first couple of weeks isn’t an option.

So, I’ve decided to:

1) Still go for that PR next weekend.  I can always predict my race time based on my last long run pace (without fail, I can run a full minute faster per mile).  I ran 12.35 comfortable miles on Sunday at an average pace of 8:47.  Based on this, I should come in at 1:42 which will constitute a PR.  I think I even have a decent shot at 1:40 if I suffer a bit. If I can’t be faster than I was 10 weeks ago, I can at least be faster than I was last year.

2) Go harder than I typically would for a goal race taper.  For half marathons, we typically taper for 2 weeks, but I’ll probably reduce it to about 4 days.  My priority needs to shift to marathon training.  I need all the preparation I can get to run a strong PR marathon.

I really hate giving up on something that I said I would do (though it kind of seems to be a theme recently), but I should have known myself better.

I have a general hatred toward the fitness models used in these.  What is up with this lady’s hair?

Any lessons you’ve learned about yourself during your training?  

Hope you are having a great (loooong) week!