Marathon Training Recap: Weeks 9 and 10

Today’s post brought to you by Rainbows.

I wrote a draft for my weekly marathon training recap last Monday, and tried all week to make it sound less forlorn. I didn’t succeed.

I’ve been trying really hard this training cycle NOT to act as dramatic as a World Cup soccer player about every little thing that doesn’t go as planned, but last week I hit the point where I have just about had it with this stupid running thing and I wonder on a daily (hourly?) basis WHY THE HELL I’M DOING THIS. It happens every training cycle, but for some reason I thought Amy Sunshine would overcome the black cloud of training despair with happiness and rainbows this time around (we’re in monsoon season, so we have lots of rainbows..but also lots of clouds and dark skies).

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But, with 2.5 weeks left until taper, I am exhausted all the time, hungry all the time, my body aches in all places all the time, and, especially early last week, I felt like a complete and total training failure because I wasn’t hitting paces and I wasn’t feeling strong, and the dumb calf issue that I’ve had since Chicago resurfaced, and I really just want to sleep in past 5:00 am during the weekend.

Someone please call the Waaaa-mbulance for me. Or, maybe the W(h)ine-bulance because wine sounds good. Play me that sad sad song on that little violin.

This guy will never be irrelevant.

But then, last Thursday, I was in the middle of a tempo run, 2 miles into the speedy part.  I was definitely pushing the leg turnover, but I was relaxed, breathing evenly, NOT feeling like death, and overall doing well which was a happy change from other recent runs.  Imagine my surprise when I looked down at my Garmin to see a 6:55 pace on the screen.  Surely this was some sort of mistake.   This training cycle, I’ve only been able to hit a sub 7 minute pace during track workouts, and thus far I’ve only been able to get one 800 repeat at that pace, so I wouldn’t say that sub-7 and I have gotten to become friends.  To see that pace in the middle of a run was a huge surprise. I didn’t hold it for the entire mile, but considering that I’ve had a hard time dipping under 7:40 this entire cycle, and especially after a discouraging week of training, seeing those numbers felt magical.

Unicorns and rainbows and happiness magical.

And then, on the last mile of Saturday’s longish (down week) run, I saw it again.  Only for a couple of seconds, but I saw it. 6:59

Somewhere in the sea of self-pity, I forgot a lesson that I’ve learned before.  TRUST YOUR TRAINING. Your body does not change overnight.  Training cycles are designed to get you to your peak right when you need it the most.  If you put in the work and bust your ass, your body will respond, even though you feel like progress isn’t being made.  It’s like those fad diet  “Lose 10 Pounds in 10 Days” programs. Your body does not lose actual weight that fast.  Just like your body does not gain actual speed that fast.  But when you do it the right way, suddenly everything clicks into place.

Thank you, Glenda!

Please don’t judge me and my hippie moment.

2.5 WEEKS UNTIL TAPER! I am so exicted (until I get there, and then I’ll be likely complaining about Taper Madness…you just can’t win with me).

WORKOUT RECAP: WEEK 9

Monday: 4 Mile recovery run.

Tuesday: 4 miles at half marathon pace: I ran this with an average pace of 7:52 which includes an 8:22 warm-up mile.  Fastest mile was 7:34

Wednesday: We made the mistake of rearranging our week to avoid 4th of July Costco madness (an obvious priority since a crowded Costco can be a real mood dampener).  We did not do our run, but intended to make up for it on Thursday.

Thursday: Monsoon thunderstorms made us decide that we didn’t need a second recovery run this week, so we didn’t do it again.  FAIL.

Friday: Tempo Run: 4th of July! We DID finally run in the morning.  7:40 average for the tempo part, but I didn’t feel well for most of it.

Saturday: 20 Miler #1: It went great until it didn’t.  At mile 11.33, I felt a sharp pain to run down my shin.  When I first touched the bone, I thought it was broken, so I did the rational thing: kept running. For the next 5 miles I had to stop every 5 minutes or so to massage the surrounding muscles and then finally I was able to only have to stop every mile.  It obviously wasn’t broken, and I’m not sure what the issue was. I hate it when problems seem to surface out of nowhere.  9:24 average pace which is more than 30 seconds slower per mile than I want it to be.

 

20140716-131312-47592692.jpgMy message to Aaron to let him know I’d be later than expected. 

Sunday: In one of my more rational decisions, decided to sit this scheduled 10 miler out because of the shin issue.  I felt terrible about it, especially because of the missed 5 miler earlier in the week (a total of 15 miles that didn’t happen), but I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t just being a weanie. I consoled myself by hanging out at the Santa Fe Wine Festival all afternoon.

WORKOUT RECAP: WEEK 10

Monday: 5 mile recovery run

Tuesday: 7×800.  It was ridiculously windy and there were high powered sprinklers that would cause me to hyperventilate whenever I ran through them (hyperventaliation isn’t useful when attempting to sprint). I was in such a bad mood and I couldn’t hit my paces.  Most were in the 3:32 range, but then there were some in the 3:47 range.

Wednesday: I attempted my first ever lunch time workout at the gym.  I managed 3 treadmill miles before my calf started bothering me (I was pretty much out of time anyway).  And I was kind of smelly the rest of the day.

Thursday: Tempo Run: The magical one.  7:43 tempo average.

Friday: REST!

Saturday: 12 miles. As a down week, our long run this weekend was a gloriously short 12 miles. Average pace: 9:29, but on a much hillier course than we’ve been using for long runs.  It is what it is.

Sunday: 6 miles at marathon pace: I managed to get 3 miles below marathon pace after it took 3 miles for me to warm-up.  I brought up to Aaron that I was concerned about the fact that it is taking me 3 slow miles to get warmed up, and he reminded me that during training, I have a lot of left over stiff and soreness to work off during each workout.  This problem will work itself out during the taper. Average pace: 8:48 (which is how fast I want to run my final 20 miler in 2.5 weeks).

This is the first week that I’ve really started to feel faster.  I’ve been hitting several miles at or faster than marathon pace, and even rest/recovery miles have gotten faster.  We’ll see soon if I’m fast enough to hit my sub 3:30 goals. This weekend, we have 20 miler #2.  Hoping for a less dramatic run this time around!

 

Marathon Training Recap: Week 8

The Green Socks.

Last year, The Bataan Memorial Death March fell on St. Patrick’s Day.  I didn’t want to go full-out leprechaun since this is a race to honor our Veterans, so I ordered green compression socks to go with my black and white outfit.  In general, my calves have issues, so I like to wear compression socks on any run over 10 miles, and sometimes the green socks come into rotation (my others are hot pink and white).

I never really thought they were that out of the ordinary.  I enjoy bright clothing.  And, since I always assume that I am a target for kidnapping (fun times in the head of Amy), I figure wearing something bright might help witnesses remember that they saw me at a certain point in order to establish timelines and locations of my last known whereabouts.  Really, they aren’t anything out of the ordinary for me.

But then, during my 19 miler on Saturday, I easily got comments from 20 different people.  It was an out and back run, so many of these people commented twice (and those who didn’t comment the first time, went for it the second time!).  “Hey! I recognize those green socks!” “Way to go, Green Socks! Still going!”  “Love your socks!”  Men, women, runners, cyclists, walkers, kids in bike carriers.  Everyone.

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Having the constant encouragement was actually very motivating, even though it had nothing to do with my running performance. It made the hot long run much more enjoyable, and as a result, I ran faster than I have been for long runs, and I smiled much more.  And I am certain that if I would have gone missing, several people would have called in to let the authorities know that they saw me along the trail!

The whole thing made such an impression that I actually demanded that Aaron take my picture post-run so I could share it on the blog! Green socks have special powers!

In other news, we are now officially in the middle of the Balls to the Wall  (from the windowsssss to the wall!) portion of training.  All we have left is three 20 mile long runs with a down week in between each before heading to Taper Town (won’t you take me to Taper Town).  The mileage has been built up, so the next 4.5 weeks will be dedicated to getting more miles in at marathon pace and working to make marathon pace feel as comfortable as possible.

Workout Recap:

*Funny that on the days that I was writing my blog post last week about pushing through adverse conditions to be more like a soccer player, I was actually taking a couple of rest days to deal with some stomach issues.  Nothing too crazy, but experience has taught me that running through it equals having to crawl in fetal position on the side of the road.

Monday: 4 recovery miles

Tuesday: REST (yes, I was pretty happy to avoid an 800’s workout)

Wednesday: REST

Thursday: Tempo (15/20/10): Because Aaron was at a work event and the temperatures were hot outside, I opted to do this run on the treadmill.  I always increase the incline to 1% to simulate a more realistic effort.  Tempo pace was 7:39 which is perfect, but I’m trying not to get too excited because, incline or not,  I still had a machine pacing me and pushing me along.  When I can recreate it on my own, I’ll be happy.

20140702-122628-44788664.jpgI took a picture on the way home from work so you could sympathize with my choice to treadmill it…also, don’t judge me by my gas mileage!

Friday: REST

Saturday: 19 mile long run: Overall, drama free and with minimal pain.  The last few miles were hot, and as we were leaving after our river ice bath, an ambulance pulled up to rescue a runner who had apparently passed out, so even though we started at 6:30 am, things were getting into the dangerous realm by 10:00 am.  I ran this with an average pace of 9:22 which is 1.5 minutes slower than marathon pace and right on track.  However, in 4.5 weeks, I want this to be at a 8:52 average, so there is speed to be gained before then!

Also, we ran next to the river which means bugs.  I have so many bites on my legs, and if you look at this picture closely, you’ll see a the types of swarms we have to run through. This was right at eye level, and those little dots were bugs in front of my face.

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Sunday: 9 miles:  This was supposed to be at marathon pace, but I knew I wouldn’t come close, and I didn’t.  Because I accidentally counted the weeks wrong, we started training two weeks late which meant significant mileage jumps over the last several weeks.  After only training for 12 weeks for Boston and having major issues close to race time, I’m extremely cautious about how that ramp up affects my body.

After Saturday’s long run I was feeling funkiness in my legs and I knew that pushing the pace wasn’t a good idea.  So, I stayed in the low 10’s/high 9’s and just got the run done. Not quite World Cup Soccer Player status, but I do think that my legs recovered much faster and much more adequately because of it.

20140702-123631-45391023.jpgTaking preventative measures against injury after a jump to a 28 mile weekend…AND MORE GREEN SOCKS!

As of right now, I think I’m on track to hit about 3:30 on Marathon Day.  I’m not giving up on a sub-3:30 marathon yet, but I know that the next few weeks are critical, and now is the time to stay focused. If you see me running, please yell at me to run faster, and be sure to make a comment about my socks!

What’s your craziest/most attention grabbing article of running clothing?

 

Marathon Training Recap: Week 7

Over the last week, I’ve been watching a lot of soccer, judging players by how well they know their own National Anthem, and yelling more than usual at the television (Giuseppe just sits there looking at us, bewildered).  But also, during the “down time” when people are just running back and forth across the field and not scoring, I’ve been thinking a lot about the conditions in which they have to play.

1) These dudes are sprinting for about 50 minutes at a time (almost non-stop).

2) They are playing in an jungle where it is hot and humid.  I imagine it might feel something like playing soccer in a steam room, but with more clothes.

3) There are no porta-potties on the field (I don’t want to dwell on this too much because I’m sure things have been done).

4) They are having to actually think and communicate and strategize while sprinting (potentially needing to pee) in the hot humidity.

Stefano Rellandini, Reuters

They look hot. And scary. 

4) They have to put forth a 100% effort, then they only get 3-4 days to recover before having to put forth another 100% effort…they do not get a “taper.”

5) Apparently they do most of this without water breaks or nutrition breaks (much was made of the fact that a referee let everyone take a HISTORIC 30 second water break during the USA vs. Portugal game).

6) ALSO: sometimes, they break their noses…or they get bit.

Basically, these people are having to play well and win in conditions that would cause most of us to go into breakdown mode if we encountered them during our runs.

I’ve determined that I need to adopt the mentality of a World Cup soccer player…preferably a good one.

10422554_818327120465_4633195273892978387_nIn front of Maracana Stadium in Rio, they have the footprints of the great Brazilian futeball players.  Time to channel my inner Pele.  

Adverse conditions are a given and even then, working hard will be uncomfortable/painful even in perfect conditions.  But to allow myself to give up or slow down will result in personal defeat (admittedly, less scary than international defeat), so the only option is to keep fighting. Otherwise, I will be the England of marathons.

I don’t think anyone in England is walking right now around saying, “they didn’t bloody win, but it’s ok because they were playing in the bloody jungle.”   No, I think those soccer chaps will be buying their own beers at the pub for a while.

Workout Recap:

Monday: 4 mile recovery run

Tuesday: 6×800 (with 1 mile warm-up and 3/4 mile cool-down): Kept it at a 3:35 average for the 800’s.  These need to be faster.

Wednesday: 4 mile recovery run

Thursday: Tempo Run 10/20/10 Kept the tempo average pace to 7:46 which is great! I’d like this to be closer to 7:30 by the time training is done, but I did notice that it felt a lot more comfortable this week, so I think my body is finally accepting that sub-8 miles aren’t sprinting.

Friday: REST

Saturday: REST (we went kayaking).  Marathon training has prevented us from participating in a lot of recreational warm-weather activities, so this was an awesome way to celebrate the first day of summer!

 20140625-145051-53451507.jpgCross-training! 

Sunday: 13.1 miles at half marathon pace: My half marathon pace is 7:47.  I ran this at an 8:32.  I knew I would never be able to hold half marathon pace without actually running an organized half marathon.  I mostly just wanted to get as many sub-8 miles in as possible, and push it harder than I have been for long runs.  Overall, I did okay/meh.  My slowest mile was my first at 9:20. I stayed sub-9 after that, but I couldn’t get myself any faster than an 8:07.  I hit a mental wall at around mile 8, but I know that I could have pushed harder through it if I had adopted the mentality of a World Cup soccer player.

I do think this run was a good “real world” indicator of where I’m at.  I know what I need to work on over the next 6 weeks before taper begins, and I still have confidence that I can hit sub 3:30, even if I don’t make it all the way down to 3:25.

This coming weekend we have 19/9 (OHMYGOD), and then we are up to 20! This training cycle has been flying by.

Hope you are having a great week! GO USA!

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 Training Recap (Weeks 2-3) + Irrational Runner Syndrome

I really need to get the training recap for the last two weeks out of the way before I get THREE weeks behind.

But first, I did want to offer a little insight, into my brain, and maybe yours too.

Ever since Jen asked if we thought marathons were healthy last week, I’ve been considering some of the commentary that followed.  I think all but one commentator had run a marathon before, so it probably wasn’t the most diverse set of answers, but I think the point was made a few times that marathoners (particularly ones who spend time training and trying to improve speed and skill) usually have the type of personality that values getting the job done no matter what, even if it includes personal injury.  And not only that, we are actually tough on ourselves when we don’t push hard enough or when we don’t meet those goals. “Results-orientated” is our resume term of choice. None of this is groundbreaking information. And I really think this is a source of pride for many of us.

Anyway, on Tuesday, we did our first set of 800 repeats since the puking incident three weeks ago.  Except this time it was 88 degrees outside on a high school track with some teenage pole vaulting club team practicing on the sidelines.

I didn’t push myself to my limit (likely out of fear of making myself sick again but in front of snotty teenagers) AND I FELT SO GUILTY. I was a sad panda all evening.  WHY didn’t I push harder? WHERE was my mental strength when I needed to talk myself through the discomfort? HOW am I going to run a 3:25 marathon when I can’t hit my 800 goal pace more than once per workout?

And then I felt guilty for feeling guilty over something so stupid. People out there have REAL problems, Amy.

And then I just felt crazy.

20140530-130212-46932644.jpgThis is me, wondering if I’m crazy.  Also, I need to get better at taking selfies, because this is scary. 

(Sidenote: I’ve been hanging out in the Run Disney Facebook page the last couple of days because I’m trying to figure out if the Star Wars Half Marathon will be the one that finally gets me to shell out $195 for 13.1 miles, and I’ve come to learn that those Run Disney people are a whole different kind of irrational!).

Did I really want to push myself so hard that I made myself sick again? Was I that upset over my repeat times which were actually not bad considering the heat? Am I making decisions that are causing marathons to be unhealthy for me? And is this something I do regularly?

In addition to the usual stuff like running when something hurt or pushing when I should not have, I have definitely done things like loading up on ibuprofen before a race to make myself more likely to push through the pain (I don’t care if I break my foot during the race as long as I can run through it!).  And last weekend we did the final 4 miles of our long run in the middle of a lightning storm (we had the option of cutting the run short…but we didn’t).  While I tend to think I’m somewhat rational about the running thing…there is a very good chance that I am…NOT.

So, please tell me: what is one crazy thing (or 10) you’ve done for the sake of training?  Yes, I am using you to make myself feel like less of a weirdo. 

TRAINING RECAP: Week 2

Monday: 3 mile recovery run

Tuesday: Hill repeats:  We did 8 1/10 of a mile repeats.  I never really have pace goals for hill repeats just because it really depends on the steepness of the hill, and the distance is all over the place.  I mostly just aim to push hard and stay consistent for each repeat.  I think this workout went well.  There was a hawk circling around us though, probably thinking that we looked near death.

Wednesday: 3 mile recovery run

Thursday: REST DAY (we moved Thursday’s workout back a day since we had sod delivered.  I got a fantastic strength workout carrying the heavy rolls of sod around.

Friday: 10/15/10 Tempo run: This workout was wonderful! I hit 2 miles in just over 15 minutes, averaging about 7:47 per mile. The angels sang.

Saturday: 6 miles (this was supposed to be faster, but we didn’t want to do back-to-back speed workouts followed by a long run, so we cruised it).

Sunday: 12 mile long run (10:14 average pace)  This went much slower than last week for a whole bunch of reasons, but mainly because I ran with a hydration pack for the first time ever (I’ve always used belts before).  I also had run out of sports bras, so I had to wear a supportive top from Lululemon with a decorative cut-out in back. Those two things didn’t mix.  The pack rubbed my skin so raw.  Luckily, I met up with Aaron at one of our long run “checkpoints” (since we don’t run at the same pace), and he had a bandanna that I could use as a bandaid.  It still sucked.

20140530-125620-46580470.jpgCathryn the Brit said this looks like a ninja and I agree! 

TRAINING RECAP: Week 3

Monday: 3 mile recovery run

Tuesday: 3 miles at half marathon pace (ran it with a 8:08 average pace): We ran this as part of a running group on a course that we didn’t create.  The course had 2 long stretches of uphill that really slowed me down on the last mile, ruining my average, but overall not a terrible run. Pushing speed on hills is never a bad thing.

Wednesday: 3 mile recovery run

Thursday: 10/15/10 tempo: I ran the tempo part with a 7:52 average pace which is slower than last week, but still within my goal range. The angels didn’t sing as loudly.

Friday: REST DAY!

Saturday: 13 mile long run:  I forgot to charge my Garmin and it died about 6 miles in.  Up to that point, I was at a 9:50 average, but I know I got faster towards the end because of a lightning storm (nothing like the threat of getting struck to push the pace!).

Sunday: 6 miler: uneventful, and actually feeling really good.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

 

Marathon Training Recap: Week 1

Two years ago, I started doing a reflection of my marathon training every Monday in a series aptly titled Marathon Reflection Monday.  In this weekly series, I would detail what type of workout I was doing each day along with analyzing what was going well and what needed improvement.  It really forced me to stay on top of maintaining good habits while also giving me a record of everything that I was doing to reach my lofty first marathon goals. You can lie to yourself, but you can’t lie to your blog friends.

MRMThrowback to 2012

It is a goal of mine to reintroduce this weekly series, even though I don’t think I’ll be calling it Marathon Reflection Monday anymore because CHEESINESS.  Also, promising something on a Monday is kind of setting us up for failure.  I would have already been behind on week 1 since today is Tuesday.

Marathon training started one week ago.  Unlike most of you crazies, it is my preference to only train for 1-2 races big  per year.  My last big race was at the beginning of September, so I’ve spent the last 7 months happily doing things that aren’t training (mostly home improvement projects…house update post coming soon!).  While this has helped me get to the start of training excited and hungry to work my ass off, it also means that I’m really out of practice.

For example, Garmins need to be charged or they will die.  Similarly, dehydration will cause side stitches and lots of them. Not to mention that when you start getting the clammy cold sweats, you might be close to throwing up.  All valuable lessons that I learned this week.

THIS is why I need the 18 week plan…two of those weeks are purely there to use as a grace period.

MONDAY: 3 mile recovery run

TUESDAY: 800 repeats:  By race time, my goal is to consistently hit the 800 meter distance in 3:25 for 8-10 repeats which loosely translates to a “Yasso 800″ workout (no, I don’t buy the concept, but I do use it to determine my 800 speed).  This week we started at 4 repeats.  I was running the last one at the 3:25 pace when I got sick.  So, I guess this means that I have a long way to go.

WEDNESDAY: 3 mile recovery run

THURSDAY: Tempo run (10/10/10):  I forgot to charge my Garmin, and it died 7 minutes into the 10 minute warm-up, so I really have no idea how I did for the speed part which was supposed to be at marathon pace (eventually, I would like this to be in the 7:50 minute range, but for now I’m working toward an 8:00 minute mile).  My shoulders did tense up which I know only happens when I run faster than I’m comfortable, so I hope that was a good sign.

FRIDAY: Rest day: we were thinking of doing yoga, but I ended up having to work later than anticipated, so we just drank wine instead. Working out on a Friday night is lame.

SATURDAY: 11 mile long run: for me, the long run is the best gauge for what I’m capable of on race day.  In order to feel confident going into Santa Rosa, I want to run my last 20 mile run at a “cruising” 8:50 average pace.  Until that point, I want to keep my average somewhere between 1 minute to 1.5 minutes slower than goal race pace.  Getting time on my feet and building endurance are far more important to me during long runs, so, especially this early, pace isn’t a primary focus.  I ran 11 miles at an average of 9:34 per mile, which is exactly where I wanted to be.

SUNDAY: 5 mile recovery run: I know it isn’t a popular training method, but we do utilize back-to-back longer runs on the weekend in order to get more miles on tired legs.  I did this for Chicago but laid off it a bit for Boston.  In the end, I think it helped so much more to do the two long runs on the weekend.  In the next week or so, the Sunday long runs will work themselves up to marathon goal pace and in general are about half the distance as the Saturday long run.  First week in, we used it as a recovery run instead of a speed workout.

TOTAL MILES: About 30 (I’m estimating 4 miles for the tempo run)

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Getting all of the miles in, and feeling like each workout was a quality one and a step toward reaching my goals. Also, I’ve started my visualizations.  I’m imagining what I will put as my facebook status when I hit my goal time on race day! (kind of kidding, but not really).

WHAT NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: Nutrition (during the week…all bets are off during the weekend), hydration, sleep, foam rolling twice a day, core exercises, weight lifting (so…just about everything except the running).

Overall, aside from little mishaps, I’m very pleased with how this week turned out.  I’m finally getting to the place where my body is embracing distance training.  I feel so much stronger going into this race than I did for Chicago two years ago (plus, I have the benefit of now having 2 full training cycles and races under my belt). I’m still terrified that something is going to go completely wrong, but this first week back was incredibly reassuring that I have the ability to reach my goals and a that 3:25 marathon is an actual possibility.

It Wouldn’t Be Training Without Some Spewage

Marathon training officially began 3 days ago and there have already been mishaps.

First, The Plan: that color-coded excel spreadsheet that will dictate my life from now until race day.

We are using the same plan we used for Chicago since it seemed to work well (I used a 12 week plan for Boston and that didn’t work so well).  We had extracted the spreadsheet off the hard-drive of our old non-functional computer, but we hadn’t actually updated the dates.

We figured Monday, AFTER our first official run was a good a time as any to put things into stone. But Aaron looked visibly confused as he tried to copy and paste it into the current calender. WHY WEREN’T THE DATES LINING UP?

Back when I was determining our training start date, I counted 16 weeks back from marathon day.  But the plan so carefully created by Coach Aaron…is actually 18 weeks.

That would make us 2 weeks behind.

I won’t pretend that I wasn’t stressed out by this. I had looked at the plan, titled “18 Week Marathon Plan,”  several times over the last month yet somehow managed to not notice that 16 weeks is not 18 weeks. Stupid is as stupid does. Or something.

I know in the long run, 16 weeks is plenty of time to whip our bodies into shape, and we’ve adjusted the long run mileage for the next couple of weeks to prevent ramping up too fast, but this wasn’t how I wanted my glory marathon to start off.

A twitter conversation with CathrynJen and a glass of wine later, I made peace with the situation.

I woke up Tuesday morning ready to tackle my first speed workout: 800 repeats.

I slept in too late to make it to the high school track, so I did this workout on our treadmill.  I was doing ok considering this was the first speed workout I’ve done since August.  I was on my last repeat, and I started to get to the point of wanting to give up, which isn’t abnormal. 800’s are my least favorite running related thing.  But I talked myself through it and I kept pushing, even when my body started feeling clammy.

With .1 mile left to go, I got the taste of bile in my mouth, and I jumped off the treadmill and ran to the guest bathroom just in time to toss the cookies (I was also extremely grateful that this happened in my home instead of in front of a bunch of high schoolers).

I’m not a stranger to nausea during a tough workout, but this is the first time that I’ve actually made myself sick.

On one hand, I’m kind of proud.  I didn’t give up until it became physically necessary to do so which (I feel) shows progress in mental toughness (and I admit that after the puking incident, I marched right back and finished that last .1 mile at the same speed I’d been going… which seemed totally reasonable at the time but actually probably means that I’m disordered).  Plus, when people complain about hard workouts, I can now say something along the lines of “BUT DID YOU THROW UP” and *usually* they say no.

Not quite, but almost.

On the other hand, I hate throwing up, which I don’t think is unreasonable. And I know that my traumatized stomach will push me to take the next speed workout more cautiously which isn’t what I want.

So, that’s my week of running in a nutshell.  On the plus side, I haven’t broken anything yet.

And I know half of you already have seen this picture on his blog, but Aaron, Giuseppe, and I got to hang out with Fifty States Dan and two of his friends this past weekend.  Dan ran his New Mexico race in Shiprock, and we were able meet up for some beers afterwads on Saturday night. I’m always amazed at how I can meet internet friends for the first time and not feel like we’re all awkward strangers.

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L-R Aaron, Ryan, Dan, Tom, Me (should be noted that this is the first time in like 5 years that Aaron has been beardless)

I think we probably kept them up well past their bedtimes considering Dan had a very early flight home the next morning, but there was too much local beer to introduce and too many musicals to discuss.  We’re holding some fancy Rebel Donuts and a nice man named Tom hostage in order to make sure Dan and Ryan (and Dan’s wife Stephanie, who sounds just as awesome) come back.

Anyway, I hope everyone is having a fabulous week!

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.

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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!