Marathon Reflection Monday: 76 Days Until Boston

Well, hello!

Welcome to Week 2 of Marathon Training #2.

Why yes, I am typing this as I am sitting with ice packs attached to my calves.

“It’s all coming back to me nowwwwww.” – Celine  Dion.

But seriously, I went from half marathon training ish to covering 37.25 miles since last Monday. Overall though, marathon training is much less scary the second time around.  The self-doubt is gone.  I know I can run 14.5 miles and not die because I’ve done it many many times.  And against my will, I am really starting to believe that “ONLY 10 more miles” is a true statement. Although I did have my first marathon nightmare already, which I think is a few weeks earlier than last time.

I took yesterday’s long run really slow.  After racing a half PR last weekend and jumping up to 16 miles next weekend (NOT a mileage progression I would necessarily recommend, by the way), I purposefully ran at a very comfortable pace 1) because you’re supposed to, and 2) because I don’t want to injure myself.  Aaron, who is still hurtin’ for certain joined me for the first 8 miles and then we branched off as I finished off to hit 14.5.

I averaged 9:23 per mile and ran with a fuel belt (I’ve decided to use one for long runs to add a few pounds/make running without one feel easier…hopefully). I had several sub 9 miles and only one above 10, so overall I’m satisfied with my first long run of this training cycle.

Thanks to Sam and Hyedi, I’ve been reading a book called Advanced Marathoning.  This book really delves into the science of endurance running (i.e. there are lots of big words).  I already know lots of the content that’s covered thanks to Aaron’s ridiculous amount of knowledge, but I am picking up some little tidbits.  For example, tempo runs are the most useful workouts for improving lactic threshold.  The speed part should be 20 minutes or more, and the pace shouldn’t be too fast (about 15 seconds slower than 10-K pace).  I do a lot of tempo runs (mostly because they are my favorite type of speed work) but sometimes I run at 5-K pace or faster, which apparently isn’t as helpful in building endurance.  Great read if you’re interested in learning what goes on in your body while you’re running.

Also, special shout-out to Colby who pointed me in the direction of Trader Joe’s Chunky Cookie Butter! Pretty amazing stuff.  Aaron used it to make me a post long run recovery protein shake, and it was quite possibly the best tasting post run thing I’ve ever had.

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Workout Recap:

This week was a little bit different than most will be.  For example, I used Monday as my rest day.  Also, Aaron’s gym is sponsoring one of those New Year’s weight loss/get fit challenges and we signed up.  I’m hoping this will help me make healthier choices this time around (read: not eating the equivalent of a cow after every long run).  On Friday night, the gym sponsored a group workout for all the participants that included 20 minutes each of Body Pump, treadmill intervals, weights, abs, and spin.  I took it as easy as I possibly could, but I entered into Saturday’s pace run (and subsequently Sunday’s long run) on tired legs.

Monday: 2 mile walk (day after half marathon)

Tuesday: Interval/Farklek/Hill Repeats thing: We ran 3:30 intervals, mostly uphill, in a neighborhood.  This was a fun workout that combined three different types of speed work into one.

Wednesday: Easy Threesy

Thursday: Tempo (20 minute)

Friday: “Crunch time” workout with Body Pump, Treadmill (2 miles), weights, abs, and spin

Saturday: 7 miles at marathon pace

Sunday: 14.55 mile long run

TOTAL MILES: 37.25

Marathon Training Goals:

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I developed a little form for myself to keep track of my marathon goal progress.  I didn’t quite make it this week (big surprise…couldn’t manage to cross “eating clean” off the list), but having the ability to “x” off an accomplishment makes hitting goals more fun….for me anyways! I’m also positive that we wouldn’t have done the yoga video last night if it wasn’t written in the plan, so I think this system will benefit my marathon in the long run (hehe..long run).

I hope you are having a wonderful Monday!

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Rock n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon Race Recap

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

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

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

PRE-RACE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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RACE DAY!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Go Aaron, Go!

Go Aaron, Go!

Running uphill through Papago Park

Running uphill through Papago Park

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

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

Spring toward the finish line!

Sprinting toward the finish line!

Look at that Garmin stopping action!

Look at that Garmin stopping action!

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

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All races have giant horses don't they?

Giant horse!

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

Frank Shorter on the right

Frank Shorter on the right

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

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

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

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

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

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

DETAILS:

Finish time: 1:41:53

Average pace: 7:47

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

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

Race Fuel: 1 GU at mile 7.7

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

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

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

Marathon Reflection Monday: 83 Days Until Boston

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

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

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

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

So, Boston training. How did I get here?

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

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

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

So here we are.

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

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

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

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

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

Also, I’m worried about the following:

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

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

3) This little thing known as Heartbreak Hill.

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

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

 

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

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

1) 4 days a week of weight lifting,

2) 6 days a week of core work,

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

4) rolling out my muscles and stretching every day,

5) eating completely clean 2 days a week,

6) practicing yoga once a week,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heading to My Warm Happy Place (aka RnR Arizona)

In true pre-race fashion, my body has been bothering me since this past weekend.

I keep hoping it will go away, but essentially, it feels like both legs and my lower back are all in a giant conspiracy against a half PR. Everything hurts all day long.  Hips, piriformis, knees, calves, Achilles  even obliques and rhomboids.  Strangely, I had all of these problems LAST year right before this very same race.

It started on Saturday after our sub-freezing run.  I took Sunday and Monday easy with lots of stretching and felt great on Tuesday, so I pushed myself speed-wise on a tempo run only to have everything start hurting again.

So, we’ve been spending some quality time with our Yoga for Runners DVD. If any of you Yogis can help with a modified version of the cow face pose, we would appreciate it since neither of us can get our legs to do anything resembling the nice man in the video. We are however, really good at mooing every time the word “cow” comes up!

Yesterday’s Easy Threesy felt ok, but still not 100%.

I don’t know if this is taper weirdness, or something I’m making up in my head to get out of running in the cold (p.s., the “magic” is gone now that everything is just muddy and icy and cold), or if I do really have body issues that need addressing by a professional.  I’m also planning on buying some new shoes this weekend, so maybe that will help? Mostly, I want to make sure that come next week, none of this is an issue.

So, as I attack Half #6 this weekend, I am going to approach it far more cautiously than I would like to.  I’m going to run a comfortable pace, but if I start feeling any tightness anywhere, I’m going to lay off of it a bit (This is a lie.  Put me in a race, and there is no way that I’m backing down if I have the energy not to…but I’ll try!). PR’s are fun, but not being injured is more fun, so I’m attempting to prioritize my options here!

And regardless, this is a fun race.  They have giant Chinese dragons along the course, and local bands every mile to add to the flavor.  Plus, Phoenix is WARM! Looking at the forecast has been almost heavenly this week.

We’ll see how it goes.  Marathon Reflection Monday will make it’s return next week (weird that I’m more excited for that than for actual marathon training), but until then, enjoy your (hopefully) holiday weekend! Meanwhile I’ll try to make it through 13.1 miles without breaking myself.

The Devil Went Down To Georgia (he was looking for a soul to steal)

A huge thanks to Shannon for awarding me with a Leibster! Shannon is another Albuquerque running blogger, but her race times are far more impressive!

First, my 11 randomish things:

1. I just started watching Downton Abbey on Friday.  I’m about halfway through Season 2 and I was officially obsessed after 3 episodes.  I’m going to be sad when I finish catching up because then I’m going to have to wait a week to find out what happens next.  And you can judge away, but my favorite sister is Edith.  I think she acts exactly like a spoiled, unappreciated, middle sister would.

2. I think IPA is disgusting.   I will never understand how people not only drink it, but embrace it.  Luckily, Aaron feels the same way, so there is never any of that yuckiness taking up refrigerator space.

3. My college basketball team isn’t anywhere near the top 25 this year, so I haven’t been watching the games at all. (UPDATE: our star player won “Best Play of the Night” yesterday for his game winning buzzer shot against BYU! Maybe we’ll finally move up a bit in conference rankings because #4 is embarrassing for former champions).  Meanwhile, Aaron has been watching EVERY New Mexico game.  I know his players better than I know mine.

4. Race medals are cool, but they aren’t even a remote consideration when I’m choosing which races to do.

5. I don’t think the new Justin Timberlake song was worth the 7 year wait.

6. I miss facebook circa 2006.

7. I think Taylor Swift is adorable.  I don’t care if she dates boys (and lots of them!) just for lyric inspiration, or if all of her songs sound like bitter teenage drama.  I love her.

8. I caught Aaron off guard the other day when The Devil Went Down To Georgia came on and I knew every word.  It was on the Coyote Ugly soundtrack.

9. I have absolutely no appreciation for country music unless it comes from Johnny Cash.  But Johnny Cash can sing to me all day.

10. I am severely claustrophobic. I have a panic attack if I feel confined in any way.  For example, I will change into flip flops the moment a race finishes because I hate closed toed shoes especially if they can’t be slipped off easily.

11. When I was younger, all of my school supplies were Lisa Frank.  Her dolphin line was my favorite!

Shannon’s 11 Questions:

1. What are two items that are always in your refrigerator?

We are never without cheese or artichoke hearts.

2. Do you prefer to exercise indoors or outdoors?

Definitely outdoors.  Albuquerque is a very outdoor friendly city except when it is 3 degrees outside.

3. Have you ever been on a cruise?

Nope.  I would like to though!

4. What is your favorite Disney movie?

This is like asking me to choose my favorite child.  Probably my top 3 are Aladdin, Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast. Jasmine is my favorite princess.

5. Besides water, if you could only consume one beverage for the rest of your life, what would it be?

COFFEE.

6. What’s the longest distance you’ve ever run?

26.2 miles.

7. How many James Bond movies have you seen?

Hmmm…I think all of the Sean Connery ones, maybe 1 Roger Moore, a couple of Pierce Bronson, and 1 Daniel Craig.  Sean Connery is by far my favorite Bond.

8. What is your favorite vacation place?

San Francisco, or any place with a warm beach.  My favorite “vacation ” (it was technically a month long field trip) was to Brazil.

9. If you were a Thanksgiving side dish, what would you be?

Mashed potatoes because they are smooth and creamy. Ooooooh yeah!

10. What was the last non-grocery store you shopped at?

Lululemon.  What The Fluff went on sale.

11. If you could participate in any athletic event, what would it be?

The Kentucky Derby.  I don’t know how to ride horses, but I’m jockey sized, and I think it would be fun to celebrate with mint juleps!

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Thanks again for the award, Shannon!

I’m officially in taper mode for Sunday.  Half tapers are so much more calm than marathon tapers, but I’m still trying not to aggravate all of these new aches and pains that have appeared since Saturday.  Giuseppe is helping us with proper upward facing dog form.

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I hope you have a fantastic day!

Snow

In the next couple of days, I will detail how my “buckle down and base build” week has been unraveled by mysterious pains (apparently when I said “we’re not tapering,” my body only heard the “taper” part and decided to act accordingly).  At least I’m finally doing all that yoga that I promised!

But first, this morning, I woke up to this:

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Typically (and quite vocally), I am staunchly against such temperatures.  But I was ok (not thrilled, but ok) with it this one time because last night, completely out of character for this weird little water proof city, we got snow accumulation.  We probably got about 2 inches in less than an hour between 6 and 7 last night (seriously, this hardly ever happens here, and it is about 95% melted already).

Check out my camera skills! 

Instead of swearing off the cold (probably about 16 degrees at that point), Aaron and I enthusiastically piled on our new Lulu winter weather gear and headed out for a very slow 2.22 mile run in the fresh, (mostly) clean, glorious snow.

Very rarely (maybe never?) does a run feel magical.

Yesterday, I didn’t care about pace, and I didn’t care that my nose was burning red in protest of the temperature or that my cotton pants (still no running tights) were soaked at the bottom.

From hearing the crunch of my feet cautiously hit the pavement, to enjoying the serene calm and silence that seems to always accompany snow, I enjoyed every second of yesterday’s run.  I felt like we were those little kids (I can’t remember their names) exploring Narnia for the first time.  If we were in a movie, Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Snowflakes would be playing in the background.

Sometimes, I need a reminder to calm down and not worry constantly about performance or races or PR’s.  A freak snowstorm gave me that chance.

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Mapping Out the 2013 Race Schedule

One of the most overwhelming parts of reading running blogs is the exposure to the endless race possibilities.

A year and a half ago, I had no clue that more than 5-10 marathons even existed let alone what they were called.  I didn’t know that there was a Chicago Marathon, and while I think I knew that there was a Boston Marathon, I didn’t know that it was any sort of a big deal (now we’re all on a first name basis).

But with all this exposure comes tremendous race envy.  *Almost* every recap I read drives me to look at my bank account to analyze if next year’s race fits into our budget.  I mean, all of the sudden I want to go to places like Duluth and Cincinnati for fun? What is going on here? (keep in mind that I say this out of love if you live in those places.  Albuquerque isn’t a dream boat city either).

But we can’t leave town every weekend to run races, so choices must be made.

This will be the 2nd time that I attempt to map out our race schedule for the entire year.  Realistically, we can afford one, maybe two, major “destination” race per year (last year it was Chicago, this year it is Boston), so everything else has to be regional (Arizona, Las Vegas, Colorado, or West Texas).  And timing plays a big part.  We need to have plenty of rest in between races to recover physically and financially.  And as a glass half full type person, I’m always under the impression that at any given time I will injure myself and never be able to run again, so I want to run the “must-do’s” first whenever possible.  Running Chicago as my first marathon was no accident.  I wanted my first time to be with a marathon that I really loved.

This year I’ve had a few other considerations while planning our race schedule:

1) Boston.  Everything else this spring has to revolve around it include filing taxes.

2) Aaron has expressed that he’s getting burned out with our constant road racing, so I want to incorporate more “non-traditional” races in the mix.

3) Training for a triathlon.  I’m going to need a few months off of running just to focus on swimming and bike riding because this IS happening in 2013.

As of right now, I’m only officially registered for 2 races (Arizona and Boston), but here’s what we’re thinking for 2013:

JANUARY: Rock n Roll Arizona Half.

MARCH: Bataan Memorial Death March 14.2 miler (Las Cruces, NM about 3 hours south of Albuquerque): This race has a full marathon and a “half” option that is actually misleading since it is more than half a marathon.  This is New Mexico’s “big deal” marathon and it is really geared toward veterans and active duty service members.  Many members of the military will run it in full uniform with a loaded backpack.  Lots of uphill, REALLY warm temperatures, lots of loose sand, and likely some rattlesnakes nearby. This is actually considered one of the hardest courses in the country. My dad is planning on running the full marathon (WHAT????) and even my little sister is planning on running the half.  I don’t even know my family anymore.

SOURCE Photo by David Young

APRIL: Boston Marathon. Considered the most prestigious road race in the world.  Still somewhat in denial that I’ll be running it.

MAY: Run for the Zoo Half (Albuquerque):  This falls just a few weeks after Boston, so this is a BIG maybe even though it has become a yearly tradition for me.  It took me a month after the Chicago Marathon to be able to run again.  I’m hoping for a faster recovery time this go around, but I probably won’t register for this until the week of.

JUNE: Garden of the Gods 10 Mile Run (Colorado Springs).  This race is full of rolling hills, but at least each uphill is matched with a downhill. The views are gorgeous apparently.

SEPTEMBER: Imogene Pass Run 17 miler (Ouray-Telluride, CO): Aaron has run this race before.  It sounds miserable yet amazing.  The website says the following: “The reality is that despite whatever emotions we may have for the mountains and their environment, they are in fact unfeeling objects and they follow the natural rules of physics which are not always benevolent toward living creatures, great or small.”  I guess they all can’t be easy.  Check out that elevation climb!

Please note the trail. And the lack of trees. 

OCTOBER/NOVEMBER: We’re going to put in for the Nike Women’s and ING New York City lotteries (if New York opens it up).  Statistically we’re not likely to get into either one.  But a girl can dream.

DECEMBER: Rock n Roll Las Vegas Half (Full?).  It is pretty pricey/cheesey, but Las Vegas is close, and I think running the strip at night would be pretty awesome. And Las Vegas at Christmas time is actually really pretty.  Plus, the race falls right around our wedding anniversary, and I’m not opposed to renewing our vows along the course at the “Run-Thru Wedding Ceremony!”

SOURCE Photo by Steve Marcus

Other Possibilities:

Duke City Half (Albuquerque, October): This was my first half marathon.  Not the most amazing course, but it will be good to do if (when) I don’t selected for NWM or NYC. Plus, you can’t beat a local race where you can go home and nap in your own bed right after.

Tucson Marathon (December): A downhill marathon!  I don’t really want to get into the marathon habit, but if I decide after Boston that I MUST RUN MORE MARATHONS, I think a downhill one will be a nice option.

Rock n Roll Denver Half (September):  This is a back up if Imogene fills up before we register (last year it only took a few hours).

I plan on spending the summer in the pool or on a bike, so I don’t want any big races during those months.  Otherwise, everything is pretty open and subject to change.

Anyone else doing any of these races?  Any other good recommendations in the Colorado, Arizona, or west Texas areas?

I hope you have a WONDERFUL weekend!

Lesson Learned: I’m a Hibernator

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I’m going to beat you! 

What I didn’t account for is that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, I’ve decided to:

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

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

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

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

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

Hope you are having a great (loooong) week!

When All Else Fails, Post Pictures!

I don’t really know what’s going on here.

The new year started (Happy 2013!), and I lost all motivation to sit in front of the computer and reflect on my training/write a blog post.  I’ve tried, but nothing has really sounded vaguely interesting to me, so I can’t imagine it would be vaguely interesting to you.  I wish I could say that I’m using up all this time to be more productive, but I don’t really know if I am? I did download that 100 push-ups app, so that’s something?

I’m at least trying to post runs on dailymile, so you know that I’m alive and haven’t forgotten that I have a half in 2 weeks and Boston in 14 weeks (15 weeks? I should probably know this…).

In the meantime, as further proof that I haven’t been kidnapped by dread pirates who have hacked my dailymile to post on my behalf, I offer a glimpse of non-running life since Christmas.  And can I just say that Christmas seems like a decade ago?  Only two weeks ago were we all merry and bright and running around trying to get last minute presents, but it seems like we should be well into summer by now.  Even though I just finished taking decorations down yesterday. And I’m still eating red and green M&M’s. Those suckers are yummy.

The following is a compilation of Christmas morning, the weekend before New Year’s Eve in the mountains, New Year’s Eve, a fabulous tea party with my mom and sisters (if you’re in Albuquerque, St. James Tearoom is the coolest place to spend a Saturday afternoon), and some random shots.  (I’ve been playing with the camera! I haven’t taken an auto setting picture in a week!).

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IMG_5715 - CopyWe got snow! It lasted about 3 hours on NYE before it melted.

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IMG_0505 - CopyStanding in front of a frozen water fall.

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IMG_0491 - CopyReady for some snow activities! 

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Hope everyone is doing well!