Marathon #3, FOUR DAYS and Counting.

HI!

It certainly has been awhile, hasn’t it!

In my very long blogging absence, I have actually completed training for the Santa Rosa Marathon, and we are now more than 2 weeks into our 3 week taper….which means… The Marathon is FOUR DAYS away. I can’t believe it! We’re even within reliable forecast range (and what a beautiful forecast it is).

IMG_1923-1

If you’re wondering, training ended well!  Not maybe as well as I would have hoped way back in May, but I am undoubtedly faster and stronger than I was before heading into Chicago two years ago.

Highlights from the last few weeks of training include:

1) My fastest ever 800’s track workout.  

I make absolutely no attempt to conceal the fact that 800 meter repeats are my least favorite running workout.  But, since they work, I do them anyway to build speed and mental toughness (I literally have to pep talk myself through each and every step).

Despite the rainstorm in the middle of this last workout (which happened about 3 weeks ago), I pushed on through, and consistently hit most of the repeats at or below goal pace, and had my fastest ever splits. Knowing that those were the last 800’s I may ever have to do in my life absolutely helped. (But really…who are we kidding).

2) A relatively reassuring final 20 miler that not only didn’t hurt, but also yielded my fastest training pace for that distance ever.

IMG_1795-0

We also survived the subsequent wedding weekend for my sister including a humid 10 miles the morning of her wedding day.

3) Aside from a few little aches and pains, I finished training uninjured and mostly intact.

There are still plenty of hours left for something to go wrong though.

This morning, I actually was on a local morning talk show dressed as a donut to promote an event we have coming up (don’t ask), and we had to jump over hurdles.  Talk about insane ankle-twisting/leg breaking paranoia.

IMG_1927Aaron and I are two very paranoid donuts. I really LOVE my husband for spending his morning being silly for my job on television.

************************************

If I had blogged more regularly over the last few weeks, I would have also discussed some of the changes we made during this training cycle.  I still a very inexperienced marathoner, and I believe in cautious experimentation until a perfect formula is worked out. I still have so much to learn about my body and how to whip it into optimal marathon shape, and until I’m convinced that my lovely Boston Qualifier wasn’t a fluke, I’m open to change.

What we tweaked this go-round:

1) 3 week taper.

I’ve done a 2 week taper for the last 2 marathons.  For Chicago, we were sick on the day of our last long run, so we pushed it back a week.  My plan for Boston only called for 2 weeks.  Both times I felt like I didn’t adequately heal between our last long run and race day and I went into both races with some pain. My legs are feeling really great right now with a three week taper.

BUT, this time around I am worried that I’ve lost some endurance. We reduced long run mileage gradually (12 miles two weekends ago, 8 miles this past weekend), but were those runs enough to get me through 26 miles on Sunday?

Luckily, I’ve been too busy to really dwell on whether or not a 3 week taper was the right decision.

IMG_1871Taper is AWESOME!

2) More (and different) race fuel.  

Up until this training cycle, I’ve been taking a ClifShot every 7 miles (roughly once an hour), maxing out at 3 during race day.  I’ve increased this to every 50 minutes during training, so I am planning on taking 4 during Santa Rosa.

We also switched it up from ClifShot to Gu because we were both noticing that the ClifShots seem to give us stomach issues whereas the Gu have not.  The Gu is also less thick and I think it tastes better. I think that these will both be beneficial changes.

3) More “flat” training.

We did most of our Chicago long runs going up a steep incline, then down the steep incline.  This was great for building overall strength, but running on a flat course uses only one muscle group over and over without relief, and I don’t think our training prepared us for it.

So, this year, we did all of our long runs on a flat course.  Because the incline was consistent, I also trained at a more consistent pace which is how I race.  I’m hoping on Sunday that this course specific training will pay off a little bit.

***********************************

When I first set out my goals for this training cycle, I was very ambitious.  I figured if I worked hard, I could pull off something along the line of 3:25 and 3:27.  Training did go wonderfully, I know I pushed myself harder than I think that I did for Chicago, and while I didn’t quite build myself up to run what I wanted to back in May, I think I can realistically run both a PR and a BQ on Sunday.  Regardless, I am really excited to visit an area that I called home during college, hang out with some old friends, and meet some internet strangers!

And wine.  I’m excited about wine.

Meanwhile, I have been loving every second of the taper.  Whereas I used to have full on panic attacks coupled with the intense desire to RUN MORE! RUN FASTER! during taper in previous training cycles, I have really (really, really) enjoyed not spending all of my spare time running. Summer went by so fast, and I feel like we didn’t get to really enjoy it.  We also kept almost completely to the training plan, only missing a few workouts with no crossing training (unless you count puppy walks), so we put in a lot more miles this go-around.

I’m kind of burned out.

But, I’m sure if I hit my goal on Sunday, I’ll be happily signing up for the next goal race, because that cycle pretty much is the story of my little runner life.

IMG_1726Giuseppe is judging me

I do have a couple of other blog posts that I hope to get up this week with overall race strategy and goals, but um, if for whatever reason that doesn’t happen (since my track record isn’t great), you can track me on Sunday HERE.  I am searchable by last name, and bib number (#841).  Even if you don’t, please say that you will because thinking that people are watching my progress really motivates me to keep going.

Thanks for all of your support during this training!

SERIOUS/TMI QUESTION!: I developed an actual black toenail on my big toe about 5 weeks ago which is absolutely disgusting.  It has started to ache the last few days, and I am pretty worried that it will fall off before the race, or during.  Is there anything I can do to ensure that it hangs out on my actual toe (as opposed to OFF it) until Monday? My first thought is to wrap it in a band-aid, but upon further consideration, I have no idea how that would help at all.

 

Advertisements

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.

20140701-185647-68207114.jpg

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.

20140702-123018-45018392.jpg

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.

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

20140421-212545.jpg

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

20140421-212537.jpg

* 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? 

 

 

Staying Active with Arthritis

A few weeks ago, Tali asked if she could please take over the blog to talk about  something very personal to her and something I thought was incredibly inspiring and interesting.

Tali is in her 20’s, and she has arthritis, BUT that hasn’t deterred her from staying active which is AWESOME. I absolutely love stories about people who don’t let medical issues get in the way of fitness.  Her guest post is below, but also make sure to check out her blog, Wee Picket Fences (her last name is Wee!).  

*******************************************************************************

Bike Ride

Tips to Staying Active with Arthritis

The human body is designed for physical activity and has evolved to perform impressive feats such as long distance running.  Getting regular exercise improves fitness, sleep, body weight, energy level, brain function, immune systems, moods and overall health to prevent disease.  However, approximately 21 million adults in the U.S. have limited activity levels due to the restrictions of their arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Arthritis causes inflammation, fatigue, stiffness, pain and joint damage and does not have a cure.  These symptoms often flare with physical activity but worsen without it.  Exercise is a catch 22 for those living with arthritis.

Experiencing Arthritis:

Of the 50 million Americans living with arthritis, few cases are alike (CDCP). Some arthritis patients have just one joint affected with painful symptoms where others might suffer throughout their entire bodies.  We’ve all seen the commercials for Enbrel or Humira where patients can’t open a jar or comfortably travel up and down stairs prior to being medicated.  Medication to suppress the immune system decreases inflammation which typically relieves the pain, allowing patients to live fairly normal lives.

I’m one of the 9 percent of U.S. adults who are physically limited by arthritis.  By the time I found a doctor who could properly diagnose and treat my disease, she was shocked to find that I’d maintained a fairly healthy body weight and attitude without medication.  The doctor mentioned most patients suffering from severe cases become ‘couch potatoes’ after years of untreated symptoms.

Think about a time when you worked out so hard that you awoke the next day barely able to move.  The pain is a nice reminder that you’re building muscles, and it’s sometimes laughable when trying to accomplish daily activities.  Maybe you need a day to rest your fatigued muscles, or perhaps you just hit the gym and work through that sensitivity.  Living with my arthritis is similar to waking up with a sore body.  Only I have to monitor carefully if exercising through the discomfort will be pushing my body into a state of inflammation and increased pain, or if it’ll loosen my joints and alleviate the stiffness.

Pacing Exercise:

Originally, arthritic patients were instructed to lay low and not add pressure to their joints.  Now, experts suggest getting consistent, low-impact, aerobic exercise.  When my entire body feels too heavy, stiff and throbbing to get up and exercise, I try to focus on small goals.  My theory is some activity is better than none.

My Manageable Exercise Goals Are:

  • Just 15 minutes of stretching.
  • Take the dog for a brief, casual walk.
  • Make it to the gym for 20 minutes of Elliptical exercise.
  • Swim laps for 30 minutes.
  • Complete an at-home yoga video.
  • Attend a hot yoga class.
  • Attempt a P90 video and complete only what’s reasonable.

I simply try to do what I can that day without pushing it.  The trick is to not take it too far on the good days.  When I feel amped to get a quality workout in, I have to tone it down and do what I know my body is prepared to handle.  Otherwise, I won’t be able to workout at all for the next three days.  This took many years to master.  Exercise as an arthritic person can be a serious test of self-control.  It’s important to monitor how my body responds, not just how energetic and competitive I feel.  Some days I’m internally motivated but my body refuses.  Those become my rest days.

Poster Style Biking

Staying Motivated:

Arthritic exercisers are like anyone else trying to stay motived to keep fit, despite their slow ramp-up period.  It’s helpful to have a schedule of how many days of the week should include exercise.  Try to block the time off in the calendar to be sure not to skip exercising.  Purchase a gym membership to feel slightly more obligated to attend.  Get involved in activities that feel refreshing such as walking, yoga, bicycling, dancing, gardening and Pilates or Tai-Chi.  Pair up with a friend to make mellow activates more enjoyable.  When energy is lacking, try setting a minimum time for an activity; just a 20 minute bike ride is mentally manageable on fatigued days.  Those with arthritis often suffer from fatigue.  Inactivity actually lends to further fatigue.  Getting out in the fresh air on a short walk can be enough to shift energy toward a healthier lifestyle.

What I’ve found from personal experience is the slow, steady increase of activity is the ticket to health.  With arthritis, there is no way to quickly jump back into exercise, we have to work ourselves back in.  It sounds lame in the beginning; try a 10 minute walk every day coupled with a few stretches.  This leads to 15 minutes, 20 minutes and then the eventual transition to solid a 45 minutes of aerobic exercise.  Truthfully, I go through weeks of feeling discouraged, uncomfortable and lazy.  But I can get inspired by the ultimate challenge of running.

For years, running was my goal.  That goal for an arthritic person can take months to work up to.  I used to be an athlete and know there is nothing quite like running with determination, winning and feeling exhausted from the triumph.  I’ve worked my way back up to running a couple of times over the years.  Between balancing medication, diet, weight and the slow fitness acceleration, running is a truly challenging goal to keep up with.

Takeaway:

Remember that exercise is healing for people living with arthritis.  Monitor your pace and take it slow.  Set weekly goals for the amount and type of exercises you’ll attempt.  Pay attention to your body’s resistance and think about how it’ll feel tomorrow.  Stay hopeful that tomorrow is one workout closer to running, jumping or whatever fitness goal you may hold.

Bio: Tali Wee currently blogs about life in the northwest and handles the community outreach for Zillow.  She owns Wee Picket Fences where she writes about being a foodie, new homeowner, bargain hunter and activity enthusiast.  Tali enjoys family, food, travel, writing and spending time on projects around the house.

Marathon Reflection Monday: 69 Days Until Boston

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

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

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

Ok.  Obligatory Super Bowl mention done.

**********************************************

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

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

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

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

Workout Recap:

Monday: 3 mile recovery run

Tuesday: 1 hour Spin class (cross-training)

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

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

Friday: REST.

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

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

Marathon Training Goals:

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

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

IMG_5830

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

Marathon Reflection Monday: 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.

Slide1

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!