Marathon #3, FOUR DAYS and Counting.


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).


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.


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.


Marathon Reflection Monday, The ALMOST Taper Edition

I won’t beat around the bush here.

I didn’t run 30 miles this weekend.

I didn’t run any miles this weekend.

At about 11 am on Friday, my mild sore throat that I’d had for 4 days got worse.  I knew by about 2:00 pm that I was in fact, infected with the deadly cold.

So, I came home, hopped into bed, Aaron whipped us both up some hot toddys (it was happy hour after all), some soup, and some grilled cheese on Udi’s gluten-free bread for dinner, and we fell asleep hoping to wake up on Saturday  miraculously healed.

Um, not quite.

I woke up at 9:30 on Saturday even worse.

Aaron attempted a run on the treadmill before realizing that he couldn’t breathe.

We hung out, slept, drank tea, and medicated ourselves hoping to wake up Sunday miraculously  healed.

Um, not quite again.

We were both feeling better overall, but I was still coughing and sneezing.

Apparently the accepted rule is that it is OK to run if your symptoms are above the neck.  Our lungs were congested, so we decided that trying to run 20 miles or running at all was not the best idea, especially because the mornings have been pretty crisp the last week. Plus, all rules aside, we just flat out weren’t feeling well.  Doing anything that didn’t involve laying down wasn’t high on our priority list.

Throughout this process we’ve had to make some hard cost/benefit analysis with regards to running.  This by far has been the hardest.

It isn’t ideal to do your last long run 2 weeks before your marathon, but we will be running our 20 next weekend.  It will be a very slow, easy 20, but our last long run was two weeks ago (5 weeks out from Marathon Day), and I’m not feeling comfortable in my endurance level.

Hopefully a two week taper will be enough time to fully recover before the marathon.  I’ve felt good after the last two 20 milers, so if we take it slow, and go overboard with recovery efforts, we’ll hopefully be fresh and ready to go on marathon day.

The good news is, I’m feeling better today, so I should be able to get all my runs in this week, and finish training strong NEXT week.

Regardless, we have 3 weeks to go (aaaaahhhh!).  I’m keeping my mind in the game (insert High School Musical sing off here), and staying optimistic for a strong marathon.  This weekend was definitely a bummer and I’m not happy about it, but we are trying to be flexible and avoid giving up.  At this point, that’s about all we can do.

And what fun would this process be to follow if everything was smooth sailing?

I hope your weekend runs went better than ours did!

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

So this is kind of a super late Marathon Reflection Monday.  I just couldn’t get into writing today.  Sorry.


I survived 24 miles this weekend!

I got in my first ever 16 mile run on Saturday, and then finished off with 8 miles yesterday after taking 3 days off from running last week.

Aside from some muscle soreness in my calves, everything appears to be working just fine, even my IT band! I slapped this sexy beast on during my run, and it seems to have worked.  Aaron called me on Friday to tell me that he bought me a present! Turns out it was this.  True love.  That’s a picture of my leg by the way.

All of the extensive rehabbing I’ve been doing has helped too!

I’m sad that I missed a tempo run on Thursday, because tempo runs are actually my favorite speed training workout (probably because they don’t involve sprinting up a quarter mile hill followed by a deep wave of nausea).  But, I think sacrificing was necessary for healing.

Aaron did the 16 with me, but opted out of the 8 yesterday.  He’s feeling much stronger, and should be back on a regular schedule here soon.

Saturday, we finally got our act together, woke up early, and started the run at 6:30 instead of 8:30.  Amazing how much cooler the world is at 6:30!  Though, of course when we finished at 9, things were getting hot and sticky.

At mile 8, we ran into a gas station, and I used the restroom while Aaron purchased some Gatorade.  Because we chugged down the Gatorade, I actually didn’t fuel with any Clif shots.  I usually don’t take more than one gel per workout anyway (this will probably change once I hit the 20 mile mark), but I didn’t really feel like I needed anything extra.

I forgot the body glide on both days, but luckily I had no chaffing anywhere!  I consider this to be pretty lucky.  Thanks, Lulu!

I’ve been doing my long runs at a solid “cruiser” pace, and I’m excited to see the cruiser pace drop each week!  I am exactly where I want to be at this point in the game.  With 11 weeks left to go, I really think that 3:30 marathon is achievable!  At the very least, I’m still in the running!

I still do have a long way to go however.  At 14 miles, I started experiencing a fatigue unlike anything I’ve experienced before. It wasn’t a lack of energy, but my legs just started to feel like jello in a way that felt way more literal than I thought possible.  At one point, I had to wait for some cars to go by at mile 15.5, and starting up again was pretty much one of the hardest mental tests I’ve ever had to endure.  But this is good.  I need to have experience with the mental push.  My pace didn’t drop during the last two miles, so I guess I have muscle memory to credit.  Just keep running!

Also noteworthy: Even though I still have 11 weeks to go, I’ve already started having marathon nightmares.  The other night I dreamt  that Boston was releasing the 2014 qualifying times at the same time that I was running my marathon. I finished in 3:32 (YAY!) only to find out that the qualifying time for my age group had gone down to 3:28.  Bummer, dude.  And then to top it off, my tweets that I was typing weren’t posting, so I couldn’t even vent to you guys about it. In another dream, I missed my flight because I decided to run a 5-K at the last minute.


Rehabbing: I’ve gotten pretty good at the whole process.  And it has worked!  I seem to have stopped what was trying to become an injury. I hope that everything stays in one piece from here on out!

Speed improvement: At first, I was frustrated because I wasn’t going as fast as I was a few months ago.  But after working hard, I’m feeling much stronger and much faster.  I’m amazed at the progress I see every week!


Cross-training: This seems to be an off/on week type of thing.  This week was an off week.  During my faster 8 yesterday, I could feel my belly bouncing around (EWE) instead of feeling strong and helping me go faster.  I bet you can tell how well the ab challenge is going…

Getting up earlier for long runs: Things felt so much better by starting out earlier in the morning.  Because the mileage just keeps getting higher, and temps won’t cool down for maybe 2 more months, I need to make sure that I’m not out past 10:30.

FitStreak with Allison:

Monday: Ran for 33:34

Tuesday: Ran for 30:00

Wednesday: Elliptical for 45:00

Thursday: Walked for 25:38

Friday: Walked for 25:43

Saturday: Ran for 2:26:19

Sunday: Ran for 1:09:42

I hope everyone had a good Monday! Mine was kind of nuts.  But it is raining! That’s reason enough to end the day on a high note!




Turpentine…and Texas? a.k.a Respect the Distance!

So, after Wordless Wednesday, I almost feel the need to spend some time explaining the pictures.  Is this what is supposed to happen?

If you couldn’t tell, I am really trying to do everything I can to prevent what feels like an imminent injury.  Though really, if I had spent more time doing this stuff in the first place, then I probably would not be dealing with any heel/knee weirdness right now.

While I wasn’t planning on doing a “marathon lessons learned” list until AFTER I actually finished the marathon, I’m pretty sure I’ve determined what Lesson #1 is.  Spend way more time “rehabbing”  and “preventing” then you think is necessary.  Twice a day at least. Rolling, icing, stretching, taping if needed.  Even when everything feels great.  In my (albeit rather limited) experience, there is a little bratty body part just waiting to give you grief.

I think the problem with reading running blogs as a hobby is that you start to really believe that EVERYONE runs marathons and that it is a completely normal way to work out.  If you take a step back from the computer and look around (assuming you aren’t in fact at a marathon), you’ll remember that marathon running is not “normal” and most people don’t do it.  In fact, as of May 2012, only half of 1% (i.e. .5%) of the population has finished one.

I knew going in that it would be a challenge, but I truly didn’t internalize that the process was going to be so hard on the body.  Looking around at various marathon bloggers, I have determined unscientifically that 100% have had some type of injury at some point.  Half Marathon training was not so bad for me.  Just some minor IT issues back in January, but nothing too crazy. And while a marathon appears to be the next logical step after getting comfortable with a half, I think I forget sometimes that it is TWICE the distance.  You are literally running for longer than it takes to fly across half the country.

I’m definitely not saying “don’t do it.”  Quite the opposite, actually.  I think it is possible to train for a marathon and not have problems.  My mistake was in not, as blog friend Dominick said the other day, “respecting the distance.”  (I’m totally quoting him out of context, but I think it applies regardless).  26.2 is  A LOT of miles to work up to and it will be hard on your body if you don’t take care of yourself, and as a first timer, I really needed to respect that.

Anyone want a hat to remind them? Source.

I started having annoying heel pain last Thursday/Friday.  Right now, I am icing it twice every day and taping it every night.  If feels mostly fine until I workout, and then it hurts for a little bit. However,  I think this is close to being cured.

Then Monday I started getting sporadic sharp (pretty uncomfortable) pains in my knee. After extensive Wikipedia/Web-MD searches (my favorite), and then confirmation from Aaron the Expert, I realized that EVERYTHING, including my foot pain is really stemming from IT band issues.  I’ve been rolling, icing, stretching, and wearing flat shoes.  I’ve also been wearing KT tape on it, but I’m not necessarily convinced that it is helping. Basically, it feels like I need to trade my entire right leg in for a new one.

I’ve had this talk before.  I keep having new symptoms in different places, but it keeps coming back to that one pesky IT band.

Two people have recommend these little bands to help IT issues.  I think I’m going to get one. I’m willing to try just about anything right now, including turpentine Volcanic oil (also used as lamp fluid, by the way).

I am taking care of it.  I’m very lucky to be married to someone who, for example, has taken entire classes on how to properly tape someone.  I’ve definitely taken it easy this week.  But I’m a little annoyed by it. And I hope my premature lesson learned can be of some benefit to someone else.


In other, more happy news!!!

At some point in the next several months (being ambiguous so the evil burglars don’t come to steal my succulents), Aaron and I are taking a whirlwind road trip through Texas to visit family in various cities! We know all the stuff to do in San Antonio and Austin, but we are also heading to Houston (never been) and Galveston, which is a beach town, apparently.  I don’t know too much about Texas beaches (except of course not to mess with them!), but living in a landlocked region makes one slightly desperate for a beach, even if it isn’t the world’s nicest.  All I know is that I will be horseback riding my little behind on that beach so I can cross it off my bucket list!

Our big challenge (aside from not eating Texas sized meals all day) will be finding running routes.

If you have ever run in Austin, San Antonio, or Houston, do you have any recommendations for running paths/trails?

Any good “post run” eateries (or, you know, breweries) worth noting?  

And most importantly, any tips on running in what I’m sure will be crazy humid conditions? 

I hope everyone has a fantastic (and thoroughly preventative) Thursday!

Marathon Reflection Monday

Wow, can weekends go any faster?  Here we are, back at Monday.

That means I am another long run older and another week closer to running my first marathon.

This week’s training started to bring back all of the old aches and pains that I had forgotten during my month-long running break.  Will I ever again be able to live life without having to constantly ice/roll out my IT band?

And even though I’m not yet hitting my pre-break pace, my body is starting to get used to the idea that we’re training for a marathon, and slowly, things are starting to feel less wheezy and blah than then were last week.  Things are starting to work like they should!


Attitude:  In all situations, I’m trying to talk myself through the pain and encourage myself to keep strong.  Overall, every workout this week felt much better than last week.  When I started to hit a wall, I would start giving myself a pep talk, and I could feel a new surge of energy.  I’m hoping the better I get at this, the more likely I will be to talk myself through the moments when I feel like collapsing during my marathon.

Preventing hip tightness: Last week I noticed that my hips starting tightening up around 5-6 miles.  This week I’ve been doing hip strengthening exercises, and I had no hip tightness during our 9.5 mile run on Saturday.

Limiting Booze: Still drinking more than someone taking this whole thing seriously should, but I think progress is being made! However, when we were at a Mexican restaurant, we found a drink that involved Mexican beer topped with a dollop of margarita.  I couldn’t resist!

Drinking water: I’ve been making it a priority, and I can tell that I’m not completely dried out.  However, I still feel thirsty.  Julie suggested throwing in some Nuun or something similar into the mix.  I’ve also been drinking more gatorade post-run.

Recovery: Still doing good with post-run protein shakes, dates with my foam roller and massage stick, icing, yoga stretches, and recovery runs that are nice and easy.


Eating Well: This is still something I’m struggling with.  Trying to completely change my eating habits to avoid temptations like steak and fried rice just isn’t as easy as I want it to be.  Meanwhile, Aaron went gluten-free last week and has dropped 7 pounds.  (I hate him).  His weight drop and testimony over how much better he feels is almost enough to get me completely on board.

Pushing the pace: We are starting on week 3 of training.  So far I’ve been trying hard not to throw myself back into training with reckless abandon in order to prevent injuries.  Now is the time to start pushing myself back to the pace I used to be.  I’m close.

Cross-training: We’ve been doing ok with weight lifting, but we haven’t been doing other workouts like yoga or swimming.  This needs to be more of a priority.

Goals for This Week:

1) See pace improvement

2) Incorporate more cross training

3) Eat well ALL week

4) Do plank and ab workouts every day.


Marathon Reflection Monday

One week down!

My plan is to designate Mondays as my weekly marathon report card in order to force myself into some self-reflection.   I hate self-reflection, by the way.

I will be recapping what I’ve done well and what I need to improve on, in what will hopefully become a log of what I’m doing to get myself to a 3:30 finish time.

Before my week 1 recap, I do want to start off with a quick clarification about my intentions in attempting a BQ time. I am not trying to qualify for Boston because I think it will be easy or because I think I’m some sort of amazing athlete who can conquer what many people spend years trying to do in my first try.  I am not an amazing athlete (shocking, I know), and I know the odds are not in my favor.

I want to do this because I want to be the best I can be.  I want to reach for the stars,  I don’t mind working hard to get there (let’s see how many cliches I can cram into one paragraph!). And I get to train at altitude, so if everything works out the way it should, running in the flat midwest should feel much easier.

I also know that if I go into this with an ambitious goal (and broadcast it for everyone on the internet to see), I will push myself waaaay harder than I would otherwise.  I know my performance will be better, 3:30 finish time or not.

{I would be so much less inspired without Pinterest}

So, how did this week go?

I am out of shape.  Our last run over 4 miles was over a month ago for Run for the Zoo.  The base is there, but it hasn’t been maintained.  It will probably take a couple of weeks just to get us back into half marathon shape.  We are a little behind were we wanted to be, but hopefully we will be able to make it up in coming weeks.


Speed workouts: I feel like I pushed myself to about 85% of my max.

Passing on the french fries at lunch: I ate a side salad instead! It’s the little victories that help us get through the day!

Cutting down on booze during the week:  Unfortunately this did not carry onto Friday evening, the day before our long run.  Consider the lesson learned.

Recovery:  I’ve been keeping  a good pace for recovery runs, and rolling out every night.  We’ve also been doing good with recovery shakes and protein intake right after finishing workouts.


Quitting Fried food: I only made two bad meal choices all week, but my goodness did I pay for them. If your stomach rebels when you eat it, it obviously isn’t meant to be eaten!

Getting back into shape:  This Saturday we had our first long run. It was only 7.5 miles, but it felt much harder.  I took the whole idea of easing myself back into things with a comfortable pace a little too seriously.  My pace was ridiculous.  I know the first couple of weeks will be getting back into the swing of things, but WOW, do I have a long way to go.

Hydration:  I live in a desert.  I feel like no matter how much water I drink, I can’t get properly hydrated.

Attitude: I hated every second of that long run on Saturday.  I need to work on motivating myself through the pain instead of giving into it.

So, for the next week my goals are:

1) Drink more water.

2) Have a 100% success rate with healthy meals (we’re also going to go more gluten free, so that should help limit our bad food options more).

3) Push myself harder during the long runs and let happy cheerleader Amy go crazy when it starts hurting. Would it be weird if I carried pom poms?

Thanks again for the continued support and motivation! This is going to be quite the interesting road to marathonhood, and this week reminded me that I have a long way to go.  But I’m still up for the challenge!