Marathon Training Prep Mode

Hola!

If you are anything like me, then you were probably going NUTS yesterday when Shalane was leading the way (she ended up finishing 7th), when Meb just completely dominated and became the first American male to win the Boston Marathon since 1983, and while watching various real-life and internet friends pass timing mats along the course.  I wasn’t able to watch the live coverage, but thankfully twitter described things perfectly in real time. What a morning!

The whole experience made me so pumped to run another marathon and hopefully get the chance to run Boston 2015.

And really, all of this excitement couldn’t come at a better time.

I can’t believe that I’m about to say this, but training for marathon #3 starts in less than 2 weeks.  The whole thing seemed so far into the future when we signed up for the race back in February (or was in January?) and now here we are, about ready to embark on the madness once again. It’s so hard to believe that just 2 years ago, a bunch of us were heading into training for our 1st marathon together, and now we are all repeat offenders.

We are now less than 18 weeks away from Santa Rosa.

Not that I'm counting...

Not that I’m counting…

Aside from desperately wanting to pin on a bib again and run through the streets while strangers cheer me on, mostly, I’m excited to have something to blog about again.  It’s hard to maintain a running blog when all you have to talk about are 3 mile runs every once in awhile.  Soon the internet will once again be bombarded by my training recaps, and occasional (and by occasional, I mean weekly) panic attacks over not hitting paces or wondering how I’m supposed to run 26 miles at a 7:53 pace when I can’t even hit that during my 800 repeats (I just shuddered thinking about 800 repeats).

Fun times.

With 12 days to go until training officially begins, we are starting to get into preparation mode.

We have:

* Started building up the mileage again and we are now running 6 days a week

* We’ve been modifying our marathon training plan

Training Plan

* Purchased new running shoes

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* Started stalking up on our arsenal of coconut water, Nuun, and ClifShots

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* We’ve started to become reacquainted with our BFF the Foam Roller (we will become very intimate at least twice a day over the next 4 months)

Hi, Friend! I HATE YOU AND YOUR PAIN

Hi, Friend! I HATE YOU AND YOUR PAIN

* We’ve looked into getting a chiropractor appointment in to correct any lopsidedness

* We’re also planning some sort of “kick-off” event.  I love being deep and symbolic, so we always try to do some sort of ceremonial thing that prepares us for 4 months of putting ourselves through running hell which hopefully yields Marathon PR Glory.

Climbing a mountain to kick-off Chicago Marathon Training in 2012

Climbing a mountain to kick-off Chicago Marathon Training in 2012

It may involve climbing a mountain again (but a bigger one since the goals are loftier this time around), or maybe something else.  I have just a few days to decide.

Also, Despite all of my big plans, I haven’t signed up for any other races.  We might still sign up for the Run For the Zoo (10-K since the Half sold out) which is on May 4th along with some shorter summer races, but I’ve really just can’t make myself excited over anything available.

Random question: I need to change my blog reading system.  Right now I use the WordPress reader (which sometimes includes all of the blogs I follow and sometimes doesn’t), email subscriptions (I’ve kind of been slacking on email reading), and the Blogger reader for those bloggers not on WordPress.  I need something a bit more comprehensive because my current system isn’t quite time efficient. Any reader suggestions? I know this was a big topic maybe a year ago, but I didn’t pay attention.

What’s your next race?

Will we be late summer/fall marathon training buddies? 

 

 

Committing to Marathon #3

FIRST: Remember to enter to win a free race entry into any 2014 Spartan Race! Right now, your chances of winning are pretty darn high! Winner is announced tomorrow. 

There is some sort of general theory suggesting that no matter how painful pregnancy and/or childbirth might be, and no matter how much someone might swear that she will never (ever, so help you God) subject herself to this torture again in the moment, most women look back 1-2 years later and remember 36 hours of labor as “bad, but not THAT bad,” and many (most?) decide to do it all over again. Multiple times.

(I am obviously at the life stage where 75% of my facebook friends are either pregnant or have a child in the newborn/toddler range).

While I have yet to bring myself to the whole childbirth thing, I think that this general theory also applies to marathons.

While there is nothing like the pride I experienced crossing the finish line at Chicago, my body HURT so very bad in ways I didn’t think possible starting at about mile 22, I was violently sick to my stomach all day, and I couldn’t walk like a normal person for about a week. Stepping up from the street to the sidewalk? Forget about it.

I thought, “wow, that was a great accomplishment, but this distance isn’t for me, or even humans in general.” Yet, despite all this, I registered for Boston the next day.

The whole cycle did a repeat 4 months later.  Except, when I crossed my second 26.2 finish line, I knew that I would do another one in the (far off) future when I could forget about blisters and chaffing.

Slide3Who’s idea was this anyway?

I didn’t apply to get into Boston this year.  I could have used my Chicago qualifier again, but I decided in September that a trip to Boston in April wasn’t in the cards. Closing on our house probably had something to do with this.

Turns out, it wouldn’t have mattered.  My qualifier wasn’t fast enough to get me in. Truthfully, it was a blow to the ego.  I had never thought of my time, 1 minute and 5 seconds under, to be a “squeaker,” but in the end, it wasn’t even that.  It was just plain insufficient.

So, it was with renewed enthusiasm that I made a commitment to not only run another marathon, but also attempt another BQ and run a time that would, without any shadow of a doubt, get me into Boston 2015.

And perfect timing really, because all of that pain that I described above (soreness, sickness, blisters, chaffing, fatigue, aching feet, etc.) is now a very abstract memory.  Like, I don’t even remember what it feels like to seriously contemplate whether it would be less painful to just chop your feet off than run another step on them.

However, I suppose saying that I’m going to run a 3:27 marathon (that’s my goal, which is a big fat YIKES) is the easy part.  Training for it is much harder.  But before I can even begin to train, I need something to train for.

STEP 1: Choosing The Marathon

For me, choosing the right marathon felt similar (if not more intense) to figuring out what we wanted in a first house.  For both, we had a list of non-negotiables along with a list of things we could compromise.  Except, with a house, we could fix almost anything with enough time and money.  I can’t exactly remodel a marathon course to fit my needs.

So, what was I looking for?:

1) Held in June, July, or August: Since I’m going for a BQ, I need the race to be prior to September’s registration, which essentially eliminates all of the big fall races.  Add on 4 months of training, plus about 2 months of base-building, and I’ve crossed off all late winter/spring races off the list too.

2) Mild Summer Weather:  Since I’m looking at a summer race, it needed to be in an area that has at least some chance of not being ridiculously hot or humid.  This really limited us to the Coastal West part of the country, or the far Northeast.

3) Needs to compliment our strengths: That means a relatively flat course without a huge elevation gain and something at sea level to take full advantage of our training in the mountains. Mentally, I’d prefer a course that wasn’t 2 loops of a half course, and a substantial marathon field (1000+) because I do well when I have the energy (and competition) of other runners off which to feed.

4) Within close-ish proximity to New Mexico: to keep travel costs down. We’re talking second tier on the Southwest Airlines sale scale.

There were slim pickings after all of the elimination.  Slim pickings.

It came down to Eugene, OR and Santa Rosa, CA.

E vs. SR

These marathons were ridiculously similar.  Both are designed as “Boston Qualifier” fast and flat courses, both are held in smaller towns, both run on bike paths and scenic nature routes, both appear to be well-organized with lots of positive reviews from fast runners, and both offer post-race pancakes which is actually sounding really good right about now…

But neither offer substantial spectator support throughout the entire 26.2 miles (unlike Boston or Chicago), and both have courses that do a bit of back-tracking. And, considering my first two marathons were World Majors, these two are pretty small without the bells and whistles you get from having Shalane Flanagan somewhere ahead of you.

While Santa Rosa’s course seems a bit harder (runs on a slight uphill during the last few miles, and portions run on gravel) and the the field is considerably smaller (capped somewhere around 1600), in the end, the fact that that Eugene moved it’s date from mid-April to July this year (meaning potential hiccups), and the 2 hour drive from the Portland airport helped us in our resolve to choose Santa Rosa.  Eugene is also the weekend before my sister’s wedding, so Santa Rosa fit better into bridesmaid duties.

With a bottle of wine and a jacket (and rumors of a Lululemon bag!) included in the $125 registration fee, Santa Rosa also appears to offers more bang for the buck.  Plus, the fact that it is only 1 hour from San Francisco adds about 10 points. I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned it (HA), but I’m obsessive over San Francisco. And wine.

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So, I will be attempting a Boston qualifying time at the Santa Rosa Marathon at the end of August (and hoping to meet some of you California folks!).

I am beyond myself excited (27 weeks and 1 day).  Training will officially start at the end of April, and I am looking forward to every 800 repeat in 90 degree temperatures and every 20 mile long run that I have coming up.  What pain? What torture? All I remember is the amazing feeling of looking down at my Garmin, and knowing.  I hope to have that feeling again.

The rest of our 2014 racing schedule looks pretty dismal, especially compared to all of the fun we’ve had over the last 2 and a half years. But I do need to get back into the racing groove with at least a couple of half+ distances because it isn’t second nature to me anymore.  What do I eat for breakfast? How many trips to the porta-potty do I need to make before lining up? These are answers I don’t think I have anymore.

1) Albuquerque Half Marathon: I really don’t like this race.  But, with the uninspired course, the heat, the smell of farm, and the small race size, it should help build up some mental toughness.

From 2012

From 2012

2) Shiprock Half Marathon: This is a HUGE maybe. Initially, I was thinking that the full version might be my goal race, but I don’t think the course lends itself to not-quite squeakers like me.  I do want to run it eventually because it is one of the best races in the state.  Plus, I’d get to see 50-states Dan in action as he crosses New Mexico off his almost complete list.  BUT, it is on the same weekend as…

3) Run for the Zoo Half: I love Run for the Zoo.  I ran my first ever 5-K here in 2010, and I haven’t missed a year since.  It really feels like everyone in Albuquerque is involved in some way, and I love all of the high fives you get from friends, co-workers, family, etc. as you turn into the last stretch.

So, there we have it.  One big race with the sole goal of qualifying (and wine), and some small local races.  And with any luck, the 2015 schedule will include a bus ride to Hopkington, a battle with Heartbreak, and a left on Boylston.

So, who wants to come join me in some running and wine drinking in Santa Rosa?

The expo is held at a winery, a bottle of wine is included with entry fee, and you actually run through a barrel room.  GOOD TIMES! 

Hope you have a wonderful three day weekend! Remember to spread some LOVE and eat lots of chocolate!’

*Also, thanks to the Santa Rosa Marathon facebook page for supplying most of the photos! 

What Goes Up Must Come Down…Hopefully on Two Feet

Every time I write a post about trail running, I focus on all of the stuff we’re doing to get up the mountain, but not really even mentioning the whole “getting back down” part, even though multiple people have said that for Imogene, the downhill portion is more physically taxing than the uphill portions. I tend to think I am a strong downhill runner which almost seems like a silly and maybe even embarrassing thing to admit. It’s like saying I’m really good at the one thing in running that requires no skill aside from just being a body of mass subject to the laws of gravity. BUT at least I have that!

Not only does my pace slow down considerably while running uphill, I also feel completely miserable/tired/frustrated any time I’m faced with an incline.   I can handle flatness and seem to do ok with it as evidenced by the Chicago Marathon, even though I prefer to add little elevation changes so my muscles don’t get tired.

But when I’m running downhill everything works in conjunction to make me feel like I am the most fast, amazing runner on the planet. Stand in the way, and I will knock you down with my downhill runner awesomenss.

IMG_1242 - Copy

So, basically I spend a lot less time worrying about downhill training because overall I LOVE it.

BUT. But.

I have noticed that this whole thing gets a little more complicated when it comes to trail running.  Suddenly being a body of mass subject to the laws of gravity seems like less of an advantage when I can’t control myself going down, and as a result my quads get a beating because they are trying to stop me from missing a switchback and ending up going a bit too far over the side of the mountain.

Also, rattlesnakes. Not having control of your body might make you run into a rattlesnake like the run we saw during our 18.5er on Saturday. This alone is reason enough to consider going about downhill running in a strategic way. photo (5) Even though downhill trail running is different than running down a street I think the general tips and tricks and principles still apply: allow gravity to do its thing while attempting to reduce the amount of “braking” action you’re doing. But on some of these trails (and apparently at the top of Imogene Pass when you first start the descent), this requires considerable bravery and skill…things I don’t necessarily have as a strict “body of mass” downhill runner.

So, we have been practicing descending upon steep downhills (mostly because once you reach the top, you generally have to get back down). For me, my most obvious weakness has been  my core.  While a strong core will do wonders for just about anything in life, a weak core will make steep downhill running without falling down pretty impossible. At least for me.

But after all the talk about downhill training, I decided to do a little bit of research in hopes that I could improve my abilities and maybe be more prepared for this race.

After reading a bunch of lists on how to improve downhill running (actually, there are like 3 lists out there about downhill running), it looks like these other things are also important:

1) Hot Potato Steps:

Remember when you played hot potato as a kid (or yesterday…) and you tried to get whatever object (usually not actually a hot potato) out of your hands as fast as possible because presumably, it was “hot.” Kinda the same thing, except your feet are your hands and the trail is the hot potato. Think of times when you’ve missed a stair and ended up going farther down than you anticipated.  It usually results in a hard landing.  This is the same type of thing. Your foot is going farther than it thinks it is going, so it lands harder.

Apparently the more you replace “pounding the pavement” (dirt?), with being light and springy, the less pressure you are putting on your legs.

2) Bend slightly forward: 

This helps you use gravity while giving you more control.  Leaning back is part of the “braking” action that increases impact on your legs.  If you’ve ever been skiing, this makes a lot of sense.

3) Trail Shoes: I went against my own advice and purchased new/unfamiliar shoes last week.  I went with the Brooks Cascadia because most of the people in the facebook group said having traction on the bottom of your shoe will help prevent sliding during the initial steep descent from the summit. Trail shoes are made for this very purpose, so it makes sense to use what tools are available.

 So, I decided to put these two secrets to downhill success to the test during our last 18 mile run on Saturday.  We ran up the La Luz trail to the Sandia Peak summit, and then back down.  This course actually has a larger elevation gain than Imogene, so it was a good training run and in the very least assured me that I wouldn’t come in dead last at the race provided I stay in one piece.
We started down where those houses were: 9 miles up, 9 miles down

We started down where those houses were: 9 miles up, 9 miles down…check out those new shoes!

So, did incorporating these super secrets for downhill running success work?

Well, attempting to focus on not tripping while simultaneously playing hot potato with my feet and remembering to bend forward was…a good way to slow down.  It was just too much for me to concentrate on at once.

Bending forward: I feel like I worked hard to improve my running posture and keep my shoulders up, so bending forward felt a bit counter intuitive…but it worked.  I felt so much more in control of my body than the flailing around that I usually do.

Hot Potato Feet: Just didn’t work out. I tend to really lengthen my stride which makes each foot push off feel heavier and harder, but when I tried to shake things up,  I felt like I lost control of my steps. In general I think it is too late in training to try and change my form that much, and I’d rather not attempt something this new this close to a race for fear of making things worse.

Trail Shoes: Worked well, and I think helped my feet take less of a beating on the rocks.

In conclusion….I’m hoping that by incorporating the “bend forward” technique, I’ll at least add some control to my downhill running and reduce a bit of the impact that my legs will feel.  We’ll see how it turns out during race day!

What are your downhill tips and tricks? HELP ME PLEASE! 

What is you elevation “strength?” 

I hope everyone has the most amazing Labor Day Weekend!

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: 34 Days Until Boston

For me, there is an exciting moment when the Garmin beeps, and I realize that I have just run 20 miles. I don’t think there is anything more reassuring during marathon training than knowing that you have hit that milestone.  It is the moment (for me, anyway) where I realize that I am going to be able to run this beast of a distance.

THANK GOODNESS I was able to experience that moment again this past weekend.

I was worried about Saturday’s run because my last attempt at a long run ended with a 5 mile walk home.  I also approached it cautiously since my last successful long run was 17.5 miles…more of a mileage jump than I’d like.

The weather on Saturday was supposed to be pleasant during the morning and rainy in the afternoon, but I think weather.com lied.  Because it was windy and snowy (I was wearing shorts) so, it wasn’t the least miserable run ever.  Aaron had to work on Saturday morning, so I ran this one solo, but he did get out on his bike to meet me at about mile 14.

As luck would have it,  I ran into a coyote during this rare solo run.  It just ran across the road in front of me, and then stood there, about 10 feet away, eating something while I had a heart attack.  Albuquerque is a city where coyotes can be found in just about every part of town, but this was only my second time running into one.  My reaction was to freeze, call Aaron (more as an “in case I die, this is where to find me” precaution), walk slowly, and then bolt.  It worked, apparently, but I was pretty nervous.  That mile split was about 13:00.

Also, it is worth acknowledging that despite the random snow storm on Saturday, we have had great spring time weather which unfortunately means pollen.  I only developed allergies maybe 2 years ago, but now I’m a sneezy little person.  This past week, I have hacked up more yuck stuff from my throat then I care to think about.  I also think, unscientifically, that my lungs aren’t taking in adequate amounts of oxygen, leaving me much more out of breath than I should be.  All part of the sport I suppose.

Otherwise, the run went as well as it could.  I was expecting to feel like hell at mile 19 since I hadn’t built up the mileage, but everything felt great during and post run.  We celebrated victory by watching basketball ALL day.  Aaron’s team (New Mexico) lost by 1 point in the last few seconds.  I was only minorly sad since I typically don’t cheer for the Lobos, but the environment of disappointment was almost too much to handle at the sports bar.  Except for the lady watching hockey.  She didn’t care.

Meanwhile, my Saint Mary’s Gaels won by 3 points and are set to play Gonzaga for the WCC championships tonight.  Interestingly enough, the way the current bracket predictions are going, Saint Mary’s COULD play New Mexico in the 3rd round.  I do not want to see what this might look like for our marriage. Also, I would fear for my life if I went anywhere in this town with an SMC shirt should that game occur (though really, the odds of us getting past the 2nd round aren’t high).

Bracket

UH OH

ANYWAY.

I have a back down off it week this week including Bataan next weekend (14.2 trail race) and then one last long run before tapering.  SO NUTTY.  This has gone by so much faster the second time around.  And I’m so thankful that aside from some minor hiccups, I’ve managed to stay injury free.  Let’s just hope I can get through the next 2 weeks without any major issues!

TRAINING RECAP:

Monday: 5 mile recovery run

Tuesday: 1.2 mile walk (had to postpone the scheduled workout to Wednesday morning)

Wednesday: 8 x hill repeats (7 miles total) + 1 hour spin

Thursday: 5.5 mile tempo run/7.5 miles total, 58:48 (7:58 pace).  I really wanted to die for a lot of this, and had to stop on about 3 occasions to cough stuff up.

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 20 miles!!! 3:03:34 (9:10 pace)

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Sunday: BLERG. We put off running until the afternoon because we didn’t get up in time (time change), but on my way back home from lunch with my family, I started feeling really sick and I spent the afternoon in bed sleeping.  The thermometer confirmed my fever.  I’m feeling fine today (even though I still technically have a fever…don’t tell), but I was looking forward to celebrating 50 miles this week, and now I can’t.

TOTAL MILEAGE: 40.7

MARATHON GOALS:

I think this week was one of those that really shows how hard it is to lose weight while marathon training.  Spinach salad with grilled chicken just wasn’t enough to satisfy my enormous hunger, and after a hard workout, the last thing I wanted to do was more squats.  Sunday night is usually our yoga night, but I wasn’t up for it yesterday.  Staying on track with my goals was just much harder than it has been.  With 5 weeks to go, I’m running out of chances to hit 2 perfect weeks in a row.

IMG_6047Hope you have a great week despite the sleepies this morning!

 

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!

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*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: 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!

Marathon Reflection Monday

Happy Monday and Happy July! Crazy, isn’t it? (and yes, I said the exact same thing when June rolled around).

I’m now a month into marathon training, and the mileage is starting to indicate that we are not in half-marathon land anymore, Toto.  Saturday I did 13 miles which is the longest I’ve ever run in a  non-race situation. And then I ran 6 miles the following day.  It seems like just the other day that 6 miles WAS the long run.  But surprisingly, my body seems to be taking it pretty well.  My legs are definitely tired, and there are some deep-rooted knots in my muscles, but I appear to be functioning as a completely normal person despite the increased mileage.  Hopefully I can say the same when I’m running 20 miles in just one month’s time (Doubtful.  Even just saying that made my stomach do a little flip-flop).

But all is not is sunshine and happiness in Lavender Marathon Country.

After the 10-K last week, Aaron developed tendinitis (I forget where, but his foot hurts), and after our 2.7 mile dog rescuing run last Monday that aggravated it more, he’s been out of commission.  As you can imagine, this is extraordinarily frustrating for him, but we’re glad that we still have plenty of time to make up for it, though essentially he’ll be having to start over in a few weeks once he’s all healed up.

He’s been sticking to bike riding, elliptical, and swimming while trying not to go crazy over not getting his runs in.  So I’ve been running on my own, which is something I’m not used to.  I started running so we’d have something to do together, so running by myself seems weird.  Though, it was nice on Saturday when he rode his bike along the trail during my 13 miler  because he was able to carry lots of water and provide it to me along the way! Hey there, water boy!

I guess all of the planning and training in the world is no guarantee that a little glitch won’t ruin everything.

So, this week, I’ve decided to switch up my tactic to this whole marathon thing.  Instead of focusing on every. little. detail, I’m going to take a big picture approach.  In other words, Amy is trying to take a chill pill.

I’ve had 4 really good races.  3 out of those 4 were run without a Garmin or other time keeping device.  2 of them were without following a real training plan.  I’ve never sat there and analyzed every little thing that I was doing right or wrong, and I certainly didn’t change my diet/ beer:30 habits. I figured that if I took that approach, I could go from the faster end of average to a 3:30 marathon, but instead, all I’ve been doing is driving myself INSANE and probably driving everyone else insane too. Nobody likes an OCD drama queen.

So I’m going to take a step back.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m still going to push myself to the point of not being to go any further, and I’m still taking this whole thing seriously, and my goals haven’t changed.  I’m just not going to get obsessive over not hitting a certain pace on long runs (Dear Amy, get it through your head…LONG RUNS ARE FOR ENDURANCE, NOT PACE OBSESSION), or feel guilty over eating a cupcake at lunch because that might ultimately cost me my BQ.  (it won’t).  Trying to be perfect and then having a meltdown when things don’t go my way will not make me run any faster.

{Yes, I enjoyed every second of this cupcake and its banana salted caramel goodness with Zero guilt}

Push myself? Yes. Transform into Marathon-zilla? No.

{This girl’s form kind of annoys me}

WHAT WENT WELL:

1) Despite losing my running buddy, I’ve still kept up with my training! I haven’t had to run by myself outside of a treadmill since….college? So, this is a big step! I’m also prepared to use my kung fu training on any possible Amy-nappers.

2) Cross Training! I went to spin class last week! It was actually fun to do something completely non-running related.  I also started the 30 day ab challenge with Amanda from Run to the Finish yesterday.  I’m hoping to have some awesome abs by the time July is over!

3) Recovery. Me and the foam roller have reconnected, and I’ve added icing to my post run rolling/protein routine.

4) Hydration. Ever since I started drinking a Nuun after my longer/overheated runs, I haven’t had any dehydration issues, even though I am still running in 90 degree temperatures.  Highly recommend!

5) Making good food choices. In keeping with the “let’s give Amy a chill pill thing,” I’m not going to stress over what I’m eating as much as I was (truthfully, I was still eating cheeseburgers but feeling horribly guilty about it.  I don’t want that kind of relationship with food).  I AM making better choices.  For example, we went to an all-you-can-eat Indian buffet yesterday, and I really wanted a second serving of the  chicken masala, and I totally didn’t go back!  Also, surprise! Chicken masala sauce has flour in it.  Let’s just say Aaron was not very comfortable digestively speaking while watching the Espana/Italia game yesterday (P.S. GO ESPANA! Those are my peeps!).

6) This is kind of irrelevant, but I ran 13 miles by myself with no music.  And I was ok with it.  I feel in some small way, this contributes to general bad assery.  Little victories!

WHAT NEEDS IMPROVEMENT:

1) I have a tendency to get really tense in my shoulders when I run (if you haven’t noticed I tend to be a pretty tense person all of the time anyway).  I want to work on 1) building up shoulder/back muscles so they can hold their own and 2) RELAXING.

2) Sleep.  For some reason the last couple of weeks I’ve been having a hard time getting to bed at a reasonable hour and/or sleeping through the night.  So, I’ve been sleeping for 5 hours, loading myself up with insane amounts of coffee, and wondering why I have no energy all day.  If y’all could please stop being interesting after 8:00 pm MST, I would appreciate it!

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So, I hope you have a wonderful week! I’m loving the 4-day-ness of it, but having a day off right in the middle is stressing me out.  You’re so surprised, right?

Albuquerque Half Marathon Recap

Sometimes, I should probably read my own blog.

Like, when I say that I haven’t been training, so I’m just going to enjoy the half marathon ride instead of trying to PR.

But first….

 

The Albuquerque Half Marathon is a small, local race with just over 600 runners.  No expo, no race photos, no race swag. It took place on Saturday and got off to a late morning start at about 8:10 on what turned out to be a very warm day.  Not quite Boston warm, but still in the mid-80′s.

The race course took us through Albuquerque’s Los Ranchos and North Valley neighborhood which is a little bit of country in the middle of the city.  It smells like farm.

As the gun went off and I felt the surge of energy, I decided at that moment that I could keep a 7:50 minute mile pace (11 seconds per mile faster than my last half marathon in January), PR, and have a nice day. Nevermind that I had no evidence that I could hold this pace for 13.1 miles, and nevermind that I hadn’t trained to run at this pace.  And those running experts who say not to start off fast? What do they know?

After my initial 6:45 start, I slowed down a bit to 7:45 and I was able to keep it for awhile, never getting above 8:00.   I was feeling awesome! At a looping point, I saw that there weren’t very many people ahead of me (Aaron of course was one of them). I was the cockiest little running skirt girl on the course.

I ran my fastest 10-K ever at just under 48 minutes.

At around mile 6.5, a whole mass of people passed me.  Something was wrong.

I looked down at my Garmin and realized that my 7:50 pace had become an 8:20 pace without me even realizing.  I tried picking it up a bit.

About this time, it was 9:oo am, the sun was getting hotter.

It was also about this time that I could feel a bunch of yuck phlegm start to build up in my lungs thanks to the pollen in the air.  This is the first time I’ve ever felt like I was going to suffocate while running.  I will  have  to start taking Musinex before runs, because coughing up phlegm balls while running is not cute.

I was starting to get to the point where every little thing was driving me nuts.  I was convinced that the bike rider people along the course (race marshalls?) were making me run slower.

I took my GU at mile 7.5. Typically my GU makes for a nice mid-race treat that I look forward to.  This time, I was having to squeeze tiny little squirts in my mouth, trying hard not to have them come back up.  I also didn’t time it very well, so I had to run half a mile before reaching a water station.  Phlegmmy lungs plus sticky GU and no water was just a little more than I wanted to deal with.

And then I started getting cold chills.  On a warm day, I didn’t take this as a good sign.

But I ran on.

I had decided before the race that if I finished 10 miles in 1:20 or less, I would push it hard and attempt a PR.  All I’d have to do was run 7:55 miles, and glory would be mine.

I hit the 10 mile mark at 1:20:35, and I decided to go for it.  Finally, I started passing people again!

This is about when those 7:45 miles started catching up to me.

My pace dropped back down to 8:20.  I decided to wait until mile 11 to start picking up the pace.  I hit mile 11, and figured picking up the pace could wait until mile 12.  I came to a water station, and for the first time ever, I came to a complete stop to drink in the shade.  My knees started to collapse under me.  I had to keep moving. More cold chills.

I started playing with the idea of walking the last mile.  No shame in that right?  Mile 12 came.  I didn’t pick up the pace.   In fact, I did mile 12 in 8:39, which is the slowest I’ve ever run a mile during a race including the Shamrock Shuffle when I actually tripped, fell, and limped in agony for several feet.

Even as we turned the corner, and the finish line was in sight, I had a hard time mustering up the energy.  I finished strong, sprinting to the finish line thanks to all of the nice cheering people.

I crossed in 1:47:31, 6 seconds slower than my slowest half marathon time.  I finished 102/641 overall, 27th female overall, and 6th in  my age group.

Right after crossing the finish line.

The difference between my best and worst times is less than 3 minutes.  I can at least say that I’m pretty consistent?

My last few races haven’t been wonderful in either time or overall disposition since February, so I’m hoping that this will be the peak of race suckiness.

Aaron finished 30th overall, 4th in his age group.

We toasted our water bottles to what will hopefully be our worst half marathon ever.  This race was really not fun at all for either of us between allergies and the heat.

After finishing, we made a beeline for our car (parking was another 3/4 mile walk, which was not fun), rushed home, and I got ready very fast in order to help host a baby shower across town less than 2 hours after crossing the finish line.

And had to apologize for coughing up yuck stuff the entire party.