Marathon Reflection Monday: 41 Days Until Boston

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

facbookWorkout Recap

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

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

Tuesday: Rest

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

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

Friday: 3 easy miles

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

Sunday: 3 easy miles.

Marathon Goals:

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

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

 

 

 

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Marathon Reflection Monday: 55 Days Until Boston

First, I need some grammar help!

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Running. I needed that.

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

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

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

Workout Recap:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TOTAL MILEAGE: 41.69.

Marathon Training Goals:

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

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

Marathon Reflection Monday: 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!

Marathon Reflection Monday: The Taking a Break Edition

Since I won’t start really training specifically for Boston until January after the Rock n Roll Arizona half (and not even mentioning the word marathon until December) , it seems pointless to continue Marathon Reflection Monday until I’m actually reflecting on a marathon.  But before I vanish off into a land where I talk about something else on Mondays, I thought I’d do a final reflection on my first marathon.

Really, I think it takes more than one marathon to understand the ins and outs, so by no means do I consider myself an expert.  Who knows if I can ever replicate last weekend’s performance.  But I would like to take this opportunity to share a few things that I’ve picked up over the last four months that I wish I’d known going in, and that I will spend a lot less time worrying about on round two…I hope.

Amy’s Marathon Wisdom Tidbits

1. It will be hard.  Probably harder than you think it will be.  Physically, yes.  You will have weird pains that never existed in half marathon land and recovery takes longer.  But emotionally too.  Be prepared to get your confidence tested every week.  Be prepared to hate running in every possible way.  You WILL get stronger and better.  But it takes a long time to get there.

2. I compared myself to others and I didn’t die.  Everyone says not to compare yourself to others.  But, everyone puts their paces and workouts up on weekly recaps and pictures of their Garmins after weekend long runs.  To pretend that we aren’t comparing ourselves to everyone else is ridiculous.  And truthfully, as a competitive person, it drove me to run faster.  THAT BEING SAID:

3. Winning a morning workout does not a champion create (loosely quoted from a book I’m reading called Once a Runner).  Several people I’ve been following (none of which read my blog by the way) had fast long run paces (and by fast I mean faster than mine) that freaked me out and made me question my progress.  But they didn’t come close to my marathon time come race day.  Compare yourself to others if need be, but don’t assume that it tells you ANYTHING about your performance or theirs.

4. Don’t become a run snob.  This goes both ways.  I actually saw someone post on the Chicago Marathon facebook page that faster runners didn’t work as hard for it and medals are more meaningful for the back of the pack.  HUH? I’ve also heard people criticize women who put on make-up before races or wear run skirts (guilty on both accounts).  Then of course there are those that say nobody should be proud enough to put a 6.2 sticker on their car. Everyone has a journey and an ability.  The most important thing is that we support each other instead of finding reasons to be jerks. Be friendly, people!

5. Train in conditions harder than you want them to be.  We ran a lot in the hot sun.  We ran up a lot of hills.  We ran when we were tired, or when we hadn’t eaten very well the day before. Essentially, we didn’t seek out perfect conditions for our workouts.  I hated it at the time.  But the better prepared you are to deal with anything the better you’ll do when conditions are just right.  Apparently, Michael Phelps was trained with this same philosophy.  And you know, he won lots of medals.

6.  DON’T WORRY ABOUT LONG RUN PACE.  I get it now.

7. Everyone has advice (HA! Get it.  I’m giving advice right now).  Take the advice of the runners you want to be like more seriously.  Also, seek out runners who run races within your goal time.  Follow their training.

8. It is ok to whine.  We all understand and we’ve all been there. Occasionally there is a really awesome relaxing mind clearing run, but more often there are hard runs that are satisfying to finish or runs that just plain suck.  Marathon training isn’t the most fun thing I’ve ever done.  Our satisfaction comes from knowing that we survived and thrived despite the pain and having people treat you like a rockstar because you ran 26.2 is pretty cool.

9. I think Marathon training is kind of like having your first child (because in addition to being a marathon expert, I’m also a parenting expert!).  You try to do everything by all the rules and stress that every little thing is going to mess up your marathon.  But for the most part, everyone makes it out just fine if not slightly traumatized.  Is it possible that I would have run faster had I drank less, eaten cleaner, slept more, and kept more closely to the schedule? Um…I kind of have no clue.  But in the end, I managed to still enjoy life AND meet my goal.

10. It comes down to YOU.  In the end, your training will only take you so far.  The last few miles are a mental battle and if you don’t believe in yourself, then you will have a harder time making through.  I credit my intense mental workout for keeping me going when my legs didn’t want to.

11. HAVE FUN!  (thanks to Brandi for this contribution!).  Don’t take yourself too seriously.  Wear weird outfits.  Prance every once in awhile.

Crossing the finish line is a fantastic feeling. I would recommend a marathon for any runner because it does push you to your limits and you do come out stronger.  I’m already forgetting the pain (DAMN), and the thought of training for another marathon is not sounding too bad.  WHY.

And because it is getting colder and I’m going to need to remind myself of this pretty soon:

Have a fantastic week!

Marathon Reflection Monday

So, I ran 30 miles this weekend.

I’ll just let that sink into my brain (and yours) for a second.

I knew this was going to happen one day.  6 and a half months ago when we first signed up for Chicago and Aaron devised our training plan, I saw it on the spreadsheet and knew I would have to run it.  2 and a half months ago, when I first started my training, I knew it was getting closer.  Last weekend, after a 28 mile weekend, I knew there was no turning back.

But I’m sitting here, realizing that I, the most non-runner out there, who up until a year ago couldn’t imagine a fate worse than running more than 6 miles at a time, ran 20 miles on Saturday followed by a 10 mile run yesterday.

I don’t even know myself anymore!

Ok. Now that that’s done…

I kinda just didn’t feel like it last week.  We did our two speed workouts, but I didn’t do my two recovery runs.  Aside from not getting the mileage in, it didn’t seem to help our hurt me too much by skipping out.  But I just thought you needed to know as my accountability brigade.

Saturday we woke up early, got in almost 3 miles before the sun came up, and ran around what felt like the entire Northeast side of the city.

Um, hello elevation gain! Thanks for being a pain in the ass. (That’s over 1,000 feet of gain if you’re wondering).

We carried the hydration pack with us and stuffed it with 3 water bottles (it is only supposed to carry 2).  I got away with only having to carry it for 4 miles, but wow.  That’s a lot of water weight to carry around.  Maybe I should have been training with this thing the whole time!

There couldn’t have been a bigger difference between this week’s long run and last weeks miserable experience.

Mentally, I was focused, positive, and unconcerned with how many more miles I had left.  I had energy the whole time, and while my feet really did hurt starting at mile 16, my body met the 20 mile challenge.  I don’t really know if I have ever been more proud of myself or more impressed with what this little body can do with some hard work.

I can’t even believe I’m saying this, but running 20 miles was…enjoyable? I was almost deliriously happy starting at mile 14.  Is this the “runner’s high” that everyone is talking about?  If so, this would be the first time I’ve ever felt it. (I also just noticed that mile 14 started the downhill portion of the run…coincidence?)

It seems to be common thought that once you hit 20 miles, you can run a marathon. Through this whole process, I’ve been obviously doubtful that I can pull off a 3:30, but at many points, I’ve been doubtful that I can do this at all.

Saturday, as I heard the little beep from my Garmin indicating that I had hit 20 miles, it became very real.  I am now in marathon shape!

{Awkward photo angle}

BUT, for all of the happiness I felt on Saturday, yesterday’s 10 miler kicked my ass big time.  Saturday night we tailgated at the opera (more on that tomorrow), and I didn’t eat very well and had more wine than water.  So, when we finally got up and out the door at 9:30 (read, hot), I was dehydrated, not fueled properly (I actually got the ammonia taste in my mouth which means my body was breaking down muscle for fuel…this is BAD), hot, and tired.  I usually try to push the pace of these mid-distance runs, but yesterday I had more miles above an 11 minutes than I did under 10. Not cool. Meanwhile, freak of nature Aaron was prancing around bragging about how wonderful he felt.

But, I got it done.  With four weeks left until taper, I have two more of these mileage overload weekends.  This is a back down off it week, so next weekend will focus on running 12 fast miles followed by 6 faster miles.  I still don’t think I’m running my “fast” runs fast enough (at least according to McMillian), so I have 4 weeks to really hammer out some speed.

As always, injury prevention is a priority.  I didn’t wear my  little IT band thing on Saturday (I forgot it), so I’ve spent the last two days trying to get my whole right leg back in good condition.  Otherwise, everything seems to be going great!

I hope your long runs went well this weekend!  After a hot summer, it looks like almost everyone is starting to get back into training and racing!

I hope you have a fantastic week!

Marathon Reflection Monday: Halfway Point

I am officially at the halfway point of my marathon training! This is probably one of the few cases where “it’s all downhill from here” just does not even apply.

This has been such a crazy and unexpected couple of months.  There has been far more frustration and all over the place emotion (I’m happy! I’m sad! I hate running! I love running! I’m hungry!) than I anticipated, but I’ve also gone way out of my comfort zone and done things like run 17 miles that I definitely didn’t think I’d ever do even 10 months ago.  And I’ve become a faster runner regardless.

Luckily we’re on a happy Amy week right now, so no complaining! Yay!

This past weekend, our plan called for a half marathon race.  Incidentally, there happened to be a half marathon organized in Albuquerque, but we decided to save our money and run our own.

We chose a hard course near our house that includes a 400 foot elevation gain over a mile and a half…but we went around 3 times, so I had to run up that hill three times.  No matter what, I can’t get myself up that hill with any type of speed, so I knew there was no way I would be able to achieve a half marathon paced run.  I focused on getting up that hill as fast as I could (ranging from 8:50 for the first time around to about 9:30 for the last) and running everything else at an 8 minute mile pace or under.

I finished 13.1 in 1:52:47, at about an 8:36 average pace.  Not too shabby, even though I would have liked to go a bit faster.  I was also pretty dehydrated.  We chose this course so we could do a bottle drop.  We had a few little water bottles placed along the way that we could grab during our 3 times around this loop.  But, somebody stole one of my water bottles.  What is wrong with people?  I just hope that person was about ready to pass out and really needed it.  Or choked on it enough to remind them that stealing isn’t cool!

Next week we have 19 miles. And then we’re almost at our max mileage! Crazy to think that my first 20 miler is in two weeks.

Since I am at the half way point, I’ve been looking back at all my workouts over the last couple of months.  From my first long run (7.5 miles at a 10:15 pace) to my 17 miler at a 9:35 pace.  I have gotten faster and stronger.  Even this past 13.1 was way faster than my long runs pre RnR Arizona, so I’d like to think that if I ran a real half with real competition and sans the 400 foot elevation gain X3, I’d have a fantastic half PR!

See, I told you I was in a good mood!

So, this will be a comprehensive reflection of the last two months.

What’s Going Well:

1. Sticking to the plan: Even though Aaron has been on reduced mileage for over a month, I’ve been sticking to it and running solo.  While I’d obviously rather run with him, I’m proud for doing a lot of this on my own.

2. Getting over the pace obsession: It hasn’t been easy.  I try not to let my long run paces get me down, but I am slowly understanding that my long run paces aren’t too indicative of my marathon pace come race day.

3. Picking myself up when I want to quit: Last week was a rough week.  I questioned my sanity, and at one point during a workout I wanted to give up altogether.  Then I realized that I’m not a quitter, and the only person making myself miserable was me.  After a quick attitude adjustment (and a good long run), I am completely rededicated to making this BQ happen!  And it’s not like anyone forced me to do this.

4. Injury Prevention: I’ve managed to keep little annoyances (knee pain, IT band pain, and heel pain) from becoming big problems.  I hope we can keep it this way!

What Needs Work:

1. Eating well and drinking less: I can clean up my diet for two months.  I thought I’d start from the beginning, but I really like food and beer (and margaritas and wine), and giving that all  up was not as easy as I hoped.  But I’m ready to give this healthy lifestyle thing a go.  Starting tomorrow.  JUST KIDDING!

2. Getting the Emotions Under Control: Training for a marathon is hard.  Duh.  That doesn’t mean I can get sad after every bad workout.  Because then I eat badly and write long blog posts about how much I hate running.  No fun for anyone!

3. Rededication to the Goal: I was very public about my goal because I hoped it would push me harder.  I think I’ve lost a little bit of that focus thanks to frustration and also the ease of letting myself off too easy.  I’ve got two months to whip myself into shape.  I can do it!

I bet the people who came in last for the Olympic track and running events wish they had tried a little harder. I know even Pre wished he had pushed a little harder in Munich! I don’t want to finish my marathon wishing I had tried harder.  And there is no time like right now to start.

Have a fantastic week!

Marathon Reflection Monday

Happy First Monday of the Olympics!

Have you seen this commercial?  They’ve been playing it non-stop.

I’m starting to feel like I can relate to this man.  He’s running, and all of the sudden he looks up and realizes that he is waaaay further out than he meant to be.

This weekend I put in 25 miles.  17 miles on Saturday and 8 miles yesterday.  Both were kind of miserable.

Saturday we ran from our house down to the University of New Mexico (UNREAL.  Our house is nowhere near UNM), around campus, and back home.

This was the first time in our marathon long runs that we did an “urban” route, having to cross streets, stop at stop lights, and endure people looking at us funny.

We also got to see some of the highlights of the city including a lovely lady doing her walk of shame at 6:30 am, and at 8:30, two already drunk teenagers drinking Bud Light under a bridge.  Stay classy, Albuquerque.

The course was also a lot harder than what we’ve been doing.  The last 4 miles were uphill and my legs wanted nothing to do with it.  My solid cruiser 9 minute mile pace dropped to a 10:30.  But new and improved non-long-run-pace-obsessed Amy let it go.  It is also amazing to me how much your pace can drop just by pausing at an intersection to check for traffic (not that I was paying attention to my pace….)

We did a section running through the UNM campus, which was kind of slow because we had ramps and steps and all sorts of weird surfaces  (running up 20 steps and then down 20 steps is hard on the legs at mile 8 by the way).

We stopped at mile 9 at a gas station for Gatorade, water, and to take our Clif Shot.  My guess is that 17 miles is the point where we’re going to have to add a second Clif Shot to our routine.  Regardless, starting up again on an uphill after that brief break was reminder enough why you shouldn’t stop.  Taking a break sounds nice until you do and then can’t get started again.

Overall, 17 was not fun.  But, we did it.

Afterwards, we watched some games, grabbed some burrito bowls at Chipotle, and then I slept all afternoon.  I woke up to watch rowing, slept some more, woke up to catch up on The Newsroom, and then went to bed.  Exciting life, the one of a marathoner.  Run, fuel, and sleep.

I’m also realizing that while I can probably talk myself through running an 8 minute mile for the marathon, there are a lot of little pace-slowing factors that I need to consider.  I got through 17 miles without having to use the restroom, but I can I assume that I can hold it for 9 more miles after that?  And we stopped for about 5 minutes to drink water from a park water fountain at mile 14 (bless that little water fountain).  Am I going to have to spend more time than I’m used to at water stations to gulp down multiple cups of water?  In half-marathon land, I grab a cup, take a sip, pour the rest down my neck and keep going.  Points I need to start considering.

On the injury front, I think I have my IT band under control for the moment.  Hooray! If I could only get this heel issue to go away.  (I’m working on it!).

What Went Well:

1) Rehab continuation: Even though things like my IT band are not hurting as much, I’m still giving them a lot of attention to make sure they stay that way.

2) Cross training/weight-training/core work: This was an “on” week.  My core still needs some work though.  Like, lots. But at least it is getting incorporated in the routine.

What Needs Work:

1) Avoiding burn-out:  I’m starting to feel like my life is being taken over by running (probably because it is).  I don’t see myself becoming a marathon maniac anytime soon.  This may be a once or twice in a lifetime activity for me.

And this has nothing to do with today’s post, but I thought it was funny (I’ve also used almost all of the good inspiration off of Pinterest.  I may need to start making my own inspirational posters!).  Also, this girl actually looks like she could be a runner instead of a fitness model.

I hope everyone has a fabulous week!

Marathon Reflection Monday

Welcome to a new week!  It’s kind of hard to believe that I’m only starting week 6 of training.  I keep having to remind myself that even though it feels like I’ve been doing this marathon thing for forever, I still have so many more weeks to go! Good because I need them, but bad because I’m starting to get a case of serious 26.2 bumper sticker envy.

This week was our “back down off it” week (Is this the name of a hip hop song? Because it should be).  The way our plan works, we increase mileage for two weeks and then back down off it for a third week (this may be standard marathon procedure.  I’m not really sure).   My body has started to notice that it is being tortured more than it ever has, so I’m really valuing these “rest” weeks, even though in a few weeks, “rest” week will include a 12 mile run.

And I have my running buddy back!…Kind of.  Aaron joined me for the 10 mile run on Saturday! He is still working on getting healed, but he’s trying to at least get the long runs in if nothing else.  I’m still having to do about 70% of my runs solo, but he’s slowly getting back in the game!  I was hoping Saturday would be the day that I finally got to beat the gimp, but nope.  He still ran faster. With an injury. Taking it easy.  Must be nice.

I’ve been doing my last few long runs along the Bosque Trail which runs parallel to our “river.”  Chicago’s course is flat, so I’m trying to train on a flat elevation (hard to do in Albuquerque since the entire city slopes toward a giant mountain).

I’m getting a little bored with the route because it really is miles upon miles of the same thing, so we might change it up a bit next weekend. I WILL however miss the roller bladers.  There are so many of them! And these people look serious about it, and totally unconcerned that we aren’t in the 90’s anymore. If running doesn’t work out, it looks like roller blading may be the next option for me to try.  Any roller blading blogs out there for me to follow?

Also weird, was that 10 miles felt so much harder than 14 last week. We did get a later (read:hotter) start than normal (8:30 am), and Albuquerque was strangely very humid (oh my goodness, I don’t envy you people who have to live in that everyday), so that didn’t help.  But the run felt long, my legs didn’t feel as strong, and it was overall just not the most enjoyable experience, even with my running buddy. I think maybe I went in with the attitude that it was “only 10,” forgetting that a 10 mile run can be a battle in itself.

And yesterday’s 7 mile run wasn’t too much better.  I was able to run 2 minutes faster than the same course/distance last week, but it just felt so much worse.

HOWEVER, even though the two longest runs of the week didn’t feel particularly superhero-esque, my slowest splits are getting faster and I’m running more and more splits in the 8:50 pace range, which is 50 seconds slower than my marathon pace.  So improvement is being realized!  I’m cool with being miserable as long as I’m getting faster! It’s being miserable and non-improving that makes me sad and emo.

What Went Well:

1) Attitude and confidence: Considering where I was a couple of week ago, I feel like this is the biggest victory.  I CAN do this!

2) Cross-training: I’ve been substituting a recovery run day with a different form of exercise like spin and elliptical.  It is helping to keep things interesting, and I’m hoping that it is preventing my body from total burnout. Also doing well with lifting weights and working on my core everyday.

{Again with the picture.  No ladies I know run with their hair in their face.}

What Needs Improvement:

1) Icing/rolling/stretching/compressing: I’m doing this after every run still (GOOD), but  I think I’m waiting too long after finishing my runs to do it (BAD).  Also needed? A sports massage.  I usually get massages sporadically throughout the year, but they are more of the “spa day” type massages as opposed to ones that improve my muscles for running.  I’m beginning to see regular sports massages as less of a spa treat and more of a necessity.

2) Staying injury free: I’ve had an annoying ache in my heel the past couple of days.  This is not a good thing.  What’s funny is it is in the same foot where Aaron has been having his foot problems.  I’ve been icing and really babying that calf, but I’m scared. Almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy, I started getting Plantar fasciitis symptoms AFTER I relayed how terrified I was of it.  After seeing how frustrated Aaron has been, this is not something I want to play around with.  It isn’t to the point of slowing me down yet, but I don’t like that little ache at all.

3) Food and Sleep: Same old story, different week.  Friday I ate an abundance of fried food goodness for the first time in a long time.  It was tasty, but not as satisfying as I wanted it to be. And it was SALTY.  I could actually feel the repercussions on my body during Saturday’s 10 miler.  Every once in awhile, I think it is good to indulge because then you remember why it isn’t a good idea.

I think from here on out, my life will slowly be taken over by training.  I’m looking ahead 4 weeks and wondering how I’m going to have the time to get some of these runs in.  And this week I noticed the recovery runs jumped up to 4 miles when they’ve always been three.  Sneaky little plan, increasing recovery mileage like that!

I hope everyone had a great weekend, AND that everyone has a wonderful upcoming week.

Random Question: Have you ever felt uncomfortable saying if you were going on vacation or not going to be home at a certain time on your blog lest evil burglars got a hold of that information and used it to steal all of your valuables?  I try not to advertise where I’m going to be too much, but sometimes I just get so excited and want to talk about it.  Dear Evil Burglars: we really don’t have anything of value unless there is a big market for little succulent plants.  We have lots of those!

Marathon Reflection Monday

Well, I have officially run my longest run ever!  Even though I will be saying this almost every week from now until mid-August, jumping over the half marathon distance hurdle made the whole full marathon thing seem a lot more real.

Saturday, I did a little happy dance as I hit 13.2, and I finished my 14 mile long run strong with my fastest split at the end! I was truly amazed at how fast the time went by, and how little it sucked.  Dare I say that I actually enjoyed it (helped that it was overcast and about 20 degrees cooler than last weekend).

I also ran all of my mile splits within my goal pace (I know, I know, stop with the long run pace splits already!), so I am really starting to trust the process.

I know everyone has been telling me from the beginning that things will start falling into place,  but I’m not even having to lie through my teeth this week and say that I understand, because I am actually starting to get it. 

I stumbled upon some articles about why we do long runs and what is happening in your body when you head out for longer distances.  You build new mitochondria and increase capillary density (both very good for marathon runners).  Your body is literally transforming into an endurance athlete during long runs  (Sorry, I know I’m late to the marathon research party).  I’m not running fast 5-K’s, and that is ok.  That isn’t the ultimate goal right now.  The ultimate goal is to dominate my marathon in 13 weeks, and I can suddenly feel that my body is up for the challenge.

It was a bit hard to swallow when I hit 2 miles and thought, hey only 12 more miles (12 is a lot of miles), and even harder when I realized that in a real marathon, I will be at mile 14 when I say that I only have 12 more miles (oh my goodness, that is crazy), but I was surprisingly completely ok when I hit mile 4 and said that I only had 10 more miles.  In what kind of alternate universe is my brain totally cool with “only 10 more miles?”

I DID get my first running induced blister on Saturday though.  I’m hoping this isn’t a sign of things to come.  I hate closed toed shoes, and I would be annoyed if I lost a toenail.  Is toenail loss inevitable, or is there a way to prevent this from happening?  These are the marathon questions I am most concerned about this week after learning all about mitochondria and capillaries.

{I think the little affirmation is nice and relevant, but why do they all have to have Miss Abs on them? You know she hasn’t eaten carbs in weeks and didn’t drink water for a day before the photo shoot.  It’s not like she looks like that because she did 10 burpees a day}

What Went Well:

1) Mental attitude: I’m starting to regain some of the confidence I’ve lost over the last month.  I had really starting questioning my goals and my abilities, and was starting to lose sight of a victorious finish.  This doesn’t make for a fun training process.  Having hope is an amazing feeling!

2) Cross training: I did elliptical, and made it a point to do weight lifting.  Also, doing that 30 day ab challenge (sort of…).

3) Still keeping up with all of my workouts!  Aaron got himself up to 3 miles on Sunday, so I’m hoping to have my running buddy back by Saturday’s (shorter) long run. But in the meantime, I’ve realized just how dependent I’ve been on Aaron to get me out the door and running these past 4 years.  Running by myself was kind of uncomfortable at first (Albuquerque isn’t exactly known for a low crime-rate), but turns out I can train for a marathon all by myself.  Obviously I want Aaron back in the game because I know he is disheartened, but I’m also actually pretty proud of myself for continuing to do this on my own.

4) Preventing injuries: We went to the magic Jedi chiropractor on Friday, and by realigning my hips, my leg/IT band/knee/calf felt much better.  For the first time in about a month, I can walk down stairs without feeling a little bit of tension.  I should have gone much sooner! Also, we doubled our ice pack supply, so I can now literally be icing every part of my legs post run.

What Needs Improvement:

1) Form: After analyzing some photos of me running the 5-K, I realized that I am twisting my upper body way too much (this uses up valuable energy while producing nothing in return).  I need to be more conscious of this. Doing the twist is fun, but not during a race!  Tracie wrote a fantastic post about this just days before I had to own up to my twistedness.

{Whoa, there shoulders.  Calm yourselves down!}

2) Getting back to eating better and drinking less: I took my chill pill attitude a little too seriously last week, and really just didn’t create any boundaries when it came to eating and drinking.  I should not be gaining weight when I’m running 30 miles a week, but I guess that’s what happens when you go through a 6 pack over the course of 4th of July.

3) SLEEP!!! Oh my goodness, go to bed already!

I hope everyone has a wonderful and productive week.  As much as I complained about having a day off in the middle of last week, I’m sad that it’ll be another 2 months before a mandated vacation.