Back in the Saddle… I think

Hi Friends –

Until just now, I had not realized that I haven’t written here in over 7 months. I’m shocked and a little disappointed about that. I AM still running – nothing will stop me from that – and I AM still chasing that brass ring of a BQ and I AM still knocking out states on my 50 states quest… (I now have 19) – however, I had to make some changes in my training.

I was tired. So, so, so very tired.

I was having a hard time keeping with training and although I got faster for a while, I was starting to slow down in races (though not in training) and it was something I complained about right after the Tobacco Road marathon last year. I’ve not done a full marathon since – only half marathons (which, by the way, are no small feat, so I’m not at all diminishing them – I just thought that at this point in the year, I’d have a nice shiny BQ, or at least a PR at the 26.2 distance…).

While attempting to train for a spring marathon, I finally broke down and got a FitBit (all my runner friends were getting really fancy runner watches, but none of them had *all* the things I wanted, so I got a FitBit Charge HR to hold me over until the Garmin 235 has been out for a while) and I noticed a trend: my resting heart rate was higher than I expected… Also, my heart rate jumped really fast when I started a run and took foreeeeeeeevvvvvvvvvveeeeeeerrrr to recover. I had lost fitness ūüė¶ How could I have let that happen? I was a Runnah! Running is supposed to make you fitter, thinner, healthier! I ate well (what all the running blogs told me to eat), I followed training plans (which I blabbed about on this very blog for a couple of years), I did speed intervals, hill workouts, and I ran 30, 40, 50 miles a week… and, yet… I was getting unfit… and fat… and slow… and frustrated!!

Apparently, that was too much. I’m over trained (admitting it is half the battle, friends) and probably have been for at least a year, and (like any other injury), I need to take the time to recover. An active recovery (of course), but a recovery all the same.

While attempting the training for that same spring marathon, and complaining about my lack of energy to a friend, she recommended that I read The Big Book of Endurance Training¬†to help me learn a little more about heart rate training. I’ve found, though, it is teaching me a lot more in the process about just being honest with myself about how I feel and how to be healthy and still reach my goals (they can be complimentary).

Although was¬†not completely finished with the book, I immediately started to implement some of the tactics he discussed. My first shock: my resting heart rate was still really high and getting higher. Okay, I thought, maybe it is the FitBit – it can’t be all that accurate¬†–¬†so I bought a chest strap. To my surprise, the FitBit was really all that accurate – they are usually within a couple beats of each other, for what it is worth. It became clear that I needed to change my strategy and try things a different way to see if I can make my goals a reality.

I’ve been following heart rate training¬†for about 3 weeks now and I am starting to feel a little better. I’m starting to have some energy again and I no longer dread run days. For the most part, I’m sleeping better and I have craved sugar a lot less lately. I follow a schedule when I run¬†2 days, take day off, and then run 2 days. I keep my runs to under 45 minutes for now (except for the long that is once a week) and keep my pace so that it is within a range as outlined in the book. My heart rate is still keeping me pretty slow and I can’t say I’m not frustrated about it (especially when I see friends cruising along at 8:00 paces), but I’ve got my eyes on the prize and I really want to get there the right way. I’ve been walking more and actually warming up and cooling down as appropriate, steps I skipped in the past and shouldn’t have. I am getting faster, but I have a long way to go and I need to be patient (to me, friends, that is the toughest part of training…).

I ran my first half marathon last weekend (the Myrtle Beach Half Marathon) with this strategy and came in at 2:00 on the nose – one of my slower half marathons, but the faster end of my target completion time. My heart rate was¬†just a tad over the target rate set by my heart rate monitor (I train at a lower rate) and I didn’t have to refuel or stop once throughout the entire race. I actually felt good throughout and just after – not even sore muscles. I hope to get that post up soon – and of course there are port-a-potty stories involved – haha.

I am running my second Half Marathon since I started heart rate training¬†in NYC next week. My goal is to finish a tad faster than Myrtle Beach (with fewer Potty moments…) Wish me luck ūüôā

Until next time…

Tobacco Road Marathon Training: Week 15

Oh… yeah. I have been very bad about posting here throughout the last 14 weeks.

I have trained, though, I am not really feeling good about it. This cycle, more than the other three I went through, seems to be plagued with more interruptions from life: an unexpected and frustrating injury that has slowed me down and stolen miles from me; busier work and work travel schedule replete with delays and cancellations that ate in to my training time; busier kids’ schedule which is the only thing I’m happier about this time around; anxious dog contributing messier house that has brought me to a point of triaging messes;¬†and, finally,¬†a recent diagnosis of cancer that hit a little too close to home for me (not me, but close enough that it could be), so few extra helpings of worry on my plate – in addition to the myriad of things that contribute to that.

And, that’s when I remind myself “this is why I run in the first place: to deal with that better”, so I lace up, but admittedly, my heart just wasn’t as into it this time around.

I haven’t worked on abs (like I said I would). I haven’t worked on nutrition (like I said I would). I haven’t worked on cross-training (like I said I would). I spent more time than I would have liked on the treadmill (including a 20 mile run), thanks to alterations in my schedule with the kids/travel and icy NC weather. Most of the longer runs have sucked. My first 20 was awesome (the one outside), but the second was horrible (the one on the treadmill) and I hated every second of it. I seriously considered dropping out of the race several times throughout this training cycle – a thought that never crossed my mind either of the first two times. Don’t think I haven’t still considered it at this late date. My attitude has suffered significantly. I’m finally starting to feel a little more excited as I approach the last week of my training, but I don’t have quite the enthusiasm I had for the last two.

A little more about this injury: I have something that I either pulled or is inflamed in the back of my right leg – this happened early in the training, too, like week 4. It doesn’t hurt as much now, especially when I run. The part that hurts is when I sit for extended periods of time. Walking around actually makes it feel better – it reminds me of my IT band injury (which is why I think ‘inflamed’). I’ve been rolling and stretching it and staying hydrated has helped, but I’m worried about it locking up after the 3:00:00 mark, the farthest it has been tested. At any rate, I’m putting it down here as something that might bring me to a rather disappointing conclusion to this race and a bit farther away from the sub-4:00:00 – and BQ – goals I have.

Or… I could be seeing things through an altered lens today – it could just be effect of one hour less of sleep and accumulated anxiety about not having a record of my thoughts about training at the time they occurred to prove there were some good days in this cycle, too. That’s part of why I strive to write my training in this blog on a weekly basis – to remind myself that there is an equal mix of good and bad days with this training business and that the cycle always comes around and to try not to set myself up for success or failure based too much on one part of it. I think I was overly confident at the end of the training cycle for Portland, and I don’t want to end up under confident for Tobacco Road.

So, for this week, I’m trying to reset my attitude and go with it and have a little trust in the fact that the runs that exceeded 2:00:00 – on balance (other than the treadmill 20) – felt better than last time and I recovered more quickly than I ever had before. That, I’m taking as progress. On my schedule,¬†I have three runs: one more speed interval (Monday), an easy 4 (Tuesday) and a 15-minute jog (Thursday). That’ll give me two days of rest on my legs so I can focus on stretching and rolling out the tight spots.

See you all on the other side of Tobacco Road ūüôā

2014 In Review – Q1

Hi Friends –

I know that title seems a little odd, but I work in finance and I think of everything in terms of Quarters and, traditionally, I’ve done reviews of my training on this blog. This year, though, I decided that I would chunk it and evaluate my goal progress only 4 times a year because I tend to have a difficult time keeping up with it more frequently than that. I’ve also been so focused on this marathon that I haven’t really given much thought to evaluating how I’m doing…. So, now that the dust has settled after the marathon, I thought I’d take a little time to reflect on how my training is going so I can keep track of my goals. Here is how 2014 is shaping up so far (1/1/14 through 3/31/14):

  • Total Mileage: 438.2 miles over 53 runs; That’s an average of just over 146 miles per month and 8.27 miles each run. Wow! Just a year ago, I was feeling pretty lucky to have 80 miles a month and this is 60% more than that – not to mention that I was averaging about 4 miles per run back then. It blows my mind.
  • Total Duration: just over 63 hours, averaging over an hour per run – and at some point, that hour I invested actually seemed like a “short” run. I’m hoping to get back to that in a couple of weeks after marathon recovery is over.
  • Average Pace: I know I worry about this a lot, but I have specific goals that hinge on this number, so I do pay attention to it. I want to go to Boston, and the only way I can do that is for this number to gradually get better, so I’m targeting it specifically. My average pace for the entire 3 months was just under 8:39, which is a huge achievement to me because I ran 60% more miles. Traditionally for me (and I think for most people), when you add miles, your time slows a little – mine got faster (significantly, actually – I think my average for the year last year was in the 8:50s range). I’m super duper proud of this number and I hope to drop it closer to the magical 8:30 space soon, but with the summer months (and hotter running conditions) ahead, it’ll be tough to keep this pace in the 2nd and 3rd quarters of the year.
  • Number of activities: I’m only counting run activities in this statistic. There were a couple of runs that didn’t get measured or counted or that I did as “other” because it wasn’t a “training” run (i.e.: chasing my kid on a bike and he wanted to know how far we went… that’s my boy) so this number may seem low: 53 total over 3 months averages to just over 17 a month, and just over 4 a week. I did have some weeks where I might have done double runs or had an extra run (for a race or something). The plan I followed specifically had 4 runs a week all 16 weeks, so I stuck pretty close to that and 4-5 runs a week is still manageable. We’ll see once I start on the 3:30 plan which is 5 runs a week.

Not bad. I’d like to keep up this level of training once I recover from the marathon. I am chomping at the bit to start running again, but I know I have to be patient and let my body heal. I am planning a run on Saturday (4/19) and Monday (4/21) of this week to see how the recovery is going. If all is going well after Monday’s run, I’ll plan to start doing some more regular, shorter runs Wednesday and Friday of next week and gradually add mileage and speed to one run a week, keeping the other three easy until I’ve hit the 4 week mark.

That’ll do it for now. Have a great day!


Stats and Pre-Race Jitters

Good evening, my friends –

If you’ve read any posts I’ve put here since July, you know I have been following a training plan to run a full Marathon in sub-3:45 – which I intended to follow twice – in preparation for my first full marathon in April. I officially – and rather¬†unceremoniously – “finished” that plan last week. ¬†I didn’t run 26.2 like a lot of my friends suggested I do, primarily because I’m running the Rock and Roll Savannah half marathon on Saturday and I really want to break my current PR, which is the TCS Annapolis Half Marathon from last December, so I ran 8 miles with my friend who is doing his first full this weekend and I tried to focus on maintaining a taper for my race, even though it makes me anxious. More on the jitters a minute…

But first: a discovery. Going through the training plan now has taught me a lot – more than I ever expected. I knew I’d learn how to be a better runner, but I learned a lot more about myself and my body as a result of it and am extremely grateful I decided to take this path. Hopefully the second time around I can make all of the runs and hit the pace targets. My goal is to reverse taper back up to 30 miles a week after the half and maintain a minimum of 30 until the plan officially starts on December 22. ¬†Out of curiosity, though, while I was adding the second plan, I decided to take a look at the mileage I have for the year and was shocked: 975 so far, and it is still early November. I got so damn close to 1,000 last year I could taste it and it was a goal in the back of my mind… but, I was not keeping up with the same kind of a pace in the first couple of months of 2013 that I did in 2012, so I didn’t think I was that close yet. Had I kept up with the pace, I would have been over 1,000 already, but honestly, I’m really happy to be where I am – not burned out or injured and really, really close to my goal. I have 492 just since I started Marathon training in July. My overall average pace for the year – including a 9:44 average pace (my slowest this year) 22 miler – is 8:45 – which puts a smile on my face ūüôā

So… now on to the jitters… I set my goal to PR this race. I figured that the marathon training – especially the extra mileage – would be a much more efficient base to work from and the organized speed work would have made quite a difference. That proved to be almost true in Newport – I had to stop to use the restroom and I think now that I took my gel too late. I have also logged much, much faster runs than I ever have since I got back from Newport, which makes me both happy and skerred. I always get this way when I start getting faster, though – I have an element of doubt, particularly because it is usually significantly faster (in this case, almost 20 seconds) and I am able to repeat it for longer distances (in this case, over 6 miles). So… I’m worried that the *one* day I won’t be able to do it is the date I had my heart set on: November 9. (sigh).

I’ll keep you all posted. I’ll keep my head up and try to stay focused – it is almost here – but you *never* know what to expect on race day.

Until then: happy running, friends.

The Amazing Perspective from 22

Happy Saturday morning, my friends!

I am still training! I have been horrible about managing my time and allotting for writing about my training, and I’ve been barely keeping my head above water, but I *am* still doing it. In fact, that’s what today’s post is all about. My biggest running achievement since I made the important decision to start running again (over 4 years ago): I ran 22 miles.

First, before I get to that, let me tell you what I’ve been doing, training-wise in the few weeks since I last posted. As I mentioned then, the 30+ mile weeks were kicking my butt. I was exhausted constantly, which made training a bit of a challenge, especially on the days when I had speed targets. I was missing the targets in a major way. I decided – after the failure of my first 18 – that I needed to change my perspective a little. I’ve shifted my focus from target paces and finishing all the prescribed runs as written to just maintaining 30 mile weeks (minimum) until this plan ends next week.¬†I’ve been hitting all the longs and attempting speed workouts, but supplementing easier runs for the other two runs in the week and I feel like my body is finally getting used to this level of running. I feel much better during my runs… though, one draw back I’ve noticed (and discussed as recently as yesterday) is that my body considers the first 4-5 miles a “warm up” which means I am finding it more difficult to enjoy the 4-5 mile runs now. I also got a little lax on my ab workouts and that became apparent during my 22-miler, so I’m getting that routine set again.

This training plan ends next weekend. I’m going to celebrate by attempting to break my Half Marathon PR (currently 1:51:13) in Savannah. After that, I’m going to take my “recovery” weeks (3) where I’ll start back at 23 miles the first week (my average before starting the training plan) and then add 3-4 miles a week to increase to 30 again, and maintain at least 30 during the beginning of the second time I do the plan until the prescribed mileage exceeds 30 (around week 6 if my memory serves me). I’m hoping this will make it easier to get through weeks 10-14 next time I do it. And… who knows… maybe I’ll actually hit pace targets?!?!? A girl can dream…

Now… let’s talk about the 22. I got varying opinions on whether or not to do this distance in training. Many of my multiple-marathoner friends strongly advised against it. It opens you up to injury and it doesn’t give you additional fitness – they are right about that. I had others who said do it – mentally, it might help me better decide my strategy for finishing the race and understanding my limits – they are right about that. After evaluating all sides and talking to several people about it, I decided on doing the 22, since I had extra time for recovery (my full isn’t until April, so I have 6 months to go). Another deciding factor was: that’s what my long-run buddy was doing. Although the vast majority of my training runs have been solo, I did manage to find a running buddy for my longs (thank God). He’s a family friend who I’ve known for years that had just recently added a full marathon to his bucket list and is on a similar schedule to mine and runs around the same pace as me, so it worked perfectly. He and I talked about doing a 22 miler, and eventually he decided that is what he was going to do, so I decided now was as good of a time as any to get it done.

I don’t regret this decision one bit.

We didn’t have a time goal: we just wanted to put a 22 mile run in the books and call it a day, so it was slow, intentionally (at first, at least). It was a great run in the log of runs I can remember details of this year, in fact. It was perfect weather: chilly but not cold, lower humidity, partly cloudy… I couldn’t have asked for a better day from Mother Nature (though, I’m logging official requests now: can you please give my long run buddy something similar in 2 weeks when he does his full? …and me something similar in 6 months when I do mine?) The first 7 miles, I had to pee within the first 3 miles, so I was uncomfortable and ended up hauling ass toward the end of it knowing there was a bathroom (really, Tobacco Trail: you need more bathrooms along the route). After the pit stop, we went on to the mile 13 marker (a little past it, actually) and ended up almost at the end of the trail – so I can say that I’ve officially run to Durham. Weird to say that. The middle 9-16 miles, we got separated for a bit because the gu I took was kicking in, so I was a bit ahead of him – no music or anything, just me and my thoughts. Boy, there were a bunch of things swirling around in there. We made another pit stop at around mile 16, and then set off for the last 6. Miles 16-20 were great – I felt great, especially since I knew I had done 20 before and I already felt better than I thought I would. During the 20th mile, I could feel my energy level diminishing quickly… it was like the gas tank on Hondas: full, full, full, 1/2 a tank, empty. haha. Mile 21 was rough, especially after I hit 21.5, but I kept it together enough to just push to the end. When we got to 22, he had caught back up to me (managing reverse splits where I did not) and we walked it off. The best part was that the leg swell pain was minimal and lasted only a few minutes. I wasn’t the least bit sore. I had a little bit of foot pain in my left foot, but that diminished as the day went on and I haven’t had it in any other runs this week.

This knowledge has made me eternally grateful that I took this approach to training (doing the training plan twice) for my first (possibly only) full and didn’t try to wing it (like I did for all my half marathons). That would have been very ugly. I’ve also rearranged my gu strategy now. I was thinking every 7 miles (which is what I do in my half marathons), but now I’m thinking it should be every 6, so I’m going to try that strategy the next 20+ I do.

Yes, I will probably do 22-miles again. Maybe on the Full Route this time (they just announced the route!).

Let’s see… what else? Oh! I also knocked out another state in my quest for 50: Rhode Island – The Newport Half (that’s what I’m calling it, though, it is officially sponsored by United Healthcare). Beautiful course and lovely town. I got to finally meet another of my Virtual Running Club friends, which was awesome – she will be running the Full in Raleigh with me and is a bit faster than I am, so I’m excited to have a running buddy for the race itself. I need to write up the race report for that one: it was a great race and I highly recommend it. Oh, and I came within 50 seconds of beating my PR in that race. Sooooo close. ¬†I’ve now officially completed 13 half marathons in 12 states (so far, only California, ironically, is repeated).

My next race is in 2 weeks: Rock and Roll Savannah Half Marathon in GA – making it my 14th half in 13 states. I’m also considering doing the Skinny Turkey half in Raleigh on Thanksgiving day – for no other reason than I’d like to run *with* people that day. I’m a little tired of the solo runs. ¬†I have been running solo a lot more than I’d like. Thankfully, I have my long-run buddy (It is difficult to ask someone “hey… wanna run 20 miles today?”), but otherwise, our schedules don’t really allow for us to do all the other runs together so I do the rest alone mostly. I’ve even broken plan a few times just so I could run with someone else instead of alone because I’m not liking that part of it.

That should catch us up, in a nutshell. I will be running a shorter one today, followed by an “easy” 12 mile run with my long-run buddy on Sunday.

I can’t believe I just called a 12-mile run “easy”.

Amazing, the perspective you get when you’ve done 22.

Have a great weekend, Friends!

Coffee… and Training – Marathon Training 1: Week 9

Happy Sunday, my friends!

In spite of my exuberance about being half way through the plan last week, it became clear over the course of the last 8 days that the toughness of the plan was starting to catch up to me. My friends, this was a tough, tough running week for me. Every run was a huge challenge and I was exhausted during the first mile. This, friends, is what over training feels like. The point of this plan is to teach you how to run the marathon physically, sure, but also to (sort of) emulate getting your body so tired that your brain says “nope… nope… not gonna happen today kid” so you can learn how to overcome that when you’re hearing it at mile 20. My understanding of that philosophy is a really big reason I keep going.

However… Before I started this plan, my average mileage per week was around 20. I think I hit 30 miles one time and that week I did a 14-mile run in preparation for a half marathon. I have *never* run more than 7 miles on a work day (and I only did that once), let alone routinely get up at 4 am to run 9 (fast) miles on my home treadmill while my kids slept. Now, I do that regularly on Mondays and Wednesdays, and, not only do I do it, I am to do it faster than I usually run. For the last 3 weeks, I have gone over 30 (well beyond, I believe), and now I think it is catching up to me. I feel stronger – my body has changed dramatically in the last 9 weeks. I feel better after a run than I ever had, especially the last couple of weeks – I’ve grown to love the feeling of a fast run, even when it hurts. But… as it happens to all of us, we hit a training wall and, well, as stubborn as my mind is, my body sometimes trumps it. This is a big reason I decided to do this training plan twice. The hope is, after a few weeks break between them and the accumulated miles for my “new base mileage”, the second time around will be a little less painful for me.

Here is how the training went this week:

  • Sunday: The boys were with me and my house was starting to disgust me, so I did a lot of cleaning. We had a birthday party in the afternoon, though, I spent a large portion of it sitting on my butt talking to my sister, so I didn’t participate as much as I was worried I’d have to (it was a basketball-themed party and I thought I’d be throwing air-balls all afternoon). That said, I did have to wrangle two sugar-ed-up boys who hate getting clean into the shower, and, they are getting to the point where they are getting too big for me to pick them up like that (sigh). So… not exactly a restful rest day.
  • Monday: The plan called for 5 x 1 mi intervals with (gulp) 90 sec rests and 2 mi warm up, 1 mi cool down – this was my first challenging run. I did it. I was finished, but (a) I had wayyy more than 90 seconds between each interval (b) I didn’t do the cool down because I didn’t have the energy for one more mile (c) all the “rests” were stops on the treadmill and (d) I even had to stop mid-mile on the first couple. I didn’t do it according to the plan flawlessly, but it was done. I didn’t have time for the core work, so I didn’t get it done, unfortunately.
  • Tuesday: I did nothing more than my usual routine with the boys.
  • Wednesday: the plan called for a tempo: easy 2, target pace of 8:00-8:20 for 6, and then 1 cool down. I got up at my usual 4:30-ish to do this run, but I was taking a looong time to get it started. Once I finally got on the treadmill and started the run (even with a movie), I was having a really, really tough time enjoying it. In fact, I felt so tired that I really just wanted to stop. I got 1.5 mile into the “warm up” and it felt like I was trying intervals. I felt so heavy. I decided to give up for the day and just take a shower and get ready for work. However… I know me. The entire drive to work, I fretted about “how am I going to make this up?” I thought about shifting this one back to Thursday and doing my 6 on Saturday and my long Sunday – four the day after a long shouldn’t be too bad – or just taking next Monday off anyway and doing the other two runs back to back to get back on schedule. Yeah. I’ll do that. Then, I looked at the 10-day forecast. The humidity was supposed to be much lower on Saturday (sigh). I should do this run today and stay on schedule. Thankfully, I have my gym bag and, thankfully, that sucker is always full of at least 2 days worth of run gear (totally worth the teasing I take for that now). I took my gym bag into the office, checked for an easy 2-hour block of time (10 am to noon) and had some breakfast and water to prepare for it. After eating some food and having some water, I felt a lot better and the first mile went well. However, I had to pause the treadmill to fix my hair (I was getting flyaways in my face) and discovered that the treadmills at work give you only 10 sec to pause. I tried to restart it before it hit zero and knocked the safety out. DAMNIT. Ok. I started it again and managed to get 5.8 mi at pretty close to the time prescribed in the plan before I knocked it out a second time. In all, I had just over 8 miles total for the day in those 3 attempts. I was fine with that and had to learn how to accept it when I know I need to just stop.
  • Thursday: Like Tuesday, I did nothing.
  • Friday: Steady 6 – no pace was suggested, but, since it is the same color on the training plan as the 8:35-9:10 pace workouts, I targeted that pace. Or, I started to. I decided to do this run outside during my “lunch hour” because I just couldn’t wake up in enough time to get it done before work (in fact, even without the run, I barely woke up in time to get the boys to their early care before the bus left). I started out fast because I was excited about running outside. I haven’t had many miles outside since I started this plan in mid-July, so I am always excited to run outside. My excitement, however, tends to be my downfall, and I had to walk at mile 3 (gah!) I did finish the run inside of the 8:35-9:10 range (8:48) but it kind of sucked, even if it was outside. I felt a lot better after I finished it, but I was very worried about my ability to do an 18-mile run the next day.
  • Saturday: the plan called for a steady 18-mile run, which would have been my longest run. I’ll be honest: I was mega worried about this run, unlike the 16 the week before. I was excited about the 16, even. I was dreading this one. Maybe it was because I was so tired. Maybe I had a mental block about the 18. Maybe all those things. Like Monday, though, it took me a while to get dressed and get myself ready for the run. I finally got out a little after 8 (when I got up around 6) and the first mile 1/2 mile or so felt alright. However, shortly into that first mile, I had to pee and that was all I could think about. I stopped at my normal bathroom stop at the lake around mile 2 and started to feel better until I got to mile 4. All of the sudden, my body just felt like concrete. Not just my legs: my entire body. I felt like I could stop and take a nap at any point along the route. The thought of walking home, let alone running home, was painful to me. I kept going, though, because that’s happened to me before. I eventually got over it and I thought I’d be able to get over it today, too. I stopped and walked (I already told myself we were NOT worried about pace at all today) and started up again. I got about 1/2 a mile before I had to stop again to walk, but I kept on the route I had mapped out for myself, assuming I’d get over it. I didn’t. It got worse, actually. So, at the point in the route when I was running toward the neighborhood that was my half point (that street was about 3 miles away from me at this point), I decided to cut it short. I was at mile 7. I decided that if I could continue running from this point back to my house, I could at least get a double-digit run today and, if I felt better, I could do what I can to get as close to 18 in my own neighborhood, which is a tad flatter. Boring, but flatter. It was not to be. Between 7.5 and 8.25 was absolutely miserable and I couldn’t run one more step. I was so disappointed. It was such a perfect day for a good long run. 61 degrees, 60% humidity, partly cloudy. Absolutely nothing in my environment to keep me from my goal. Only my body. I walked 3 miles home, deflated and pissed off that I “wasted” a perfect run day. During what I referred to as my “walk of shame” home, I talked it over with a runner friend of mine who made me feel much, much better about things. I then, later in the day, got an unexpected invitation from another close family friend who is also a runner (training for his first marathon, too!) to do an 18-miler next weekend – an invitation I was happy to accept. It might make it easier to finish it if I have people to run with, too.

This upcoming week is much needed step back:

  • Monday: 4+ with 6x:30 intervals (2:00 rests) at the end. Planning to do this one outside before work, weather permitting. I’ll also try to time it better so I can get my core work done this week.
  • Tuesday: non-run day – planning to do nada.
  • Wednesday: 7 mi slow – planning to do this one outside before work, weather permitting. I also plan to do my core work after this run, time permitting.
  • Thursday: non-run day – planning to do nada.
  • Friday: Easy 5 – planning to do this one outside before work, weather permitting.
  • Saturday: Plan calls for 10, but, considering that I got 8 this week and I have the invitation for 18 from my friend, I’m planning to attempt the 18 miler again. No goal pace, just get the mileage. I’m also planning to do it at one of the greenway trails that is a bit flatter than the route I attempted before. This will be my longest ever run if I finish the whole thing.

That should do it! Have a great day!

Coffee… and Training – Marathon Training 1: Week 8

Happy Sunday, my friends!

Half way through the first training plan – can you believe it? I can’t. This week was another move forward in the plan, though, not as big as last week. ¬†Another set of distance PRs for me, too: a new longest single run (16 miles) and a new (barely) most mileage in a week (37 miles). I’ve counted the mileage for the month in my plan at 140 to set a goal in RunKeeper and, as of the 7th of the month, am already 1/4 of the way to that goal. Not too shabby… Here is how the week went:

  • Sunday: The boys were with their dad and I was still recovering from the 15 miler the day before so I did not do much. I don’t think I even left the house, though, I was a little antsy so I didn’t sit much, either after updating the blog. I channeled a little of that energy into cleaning (emphasis on the little) and organizing a study spot for the boys, but otherwise, I didn’t do much.
  • Monday: The plan called for 16 x 400 m intervals with (gulp) 30 sec rests and 2 mi warm up, 1 mi cool down – essentially about 6.5 miles or so. The rests were way over 30 seconds, and I’m OK with that because I did all 16 of the intervals at target pace for the first time ever. I’ve *never* done more than about 5 or 6 intervals, even at the 400 m distance, so I was delighted to finish all 16. I ended up with 7.5 mi at around an 8:30 pace – a bit slower than I had hoped, given the target interval speed of around 7:45, but I know I have another time to get that one right and I know I have work to do on that. I also read an article called 13 Essential Core Exercises for Runners on Active recommending to do core exercises *after* a run and to “make the hard days harder and the easy days easier” so, I shifted all my core exercises to this day. It was really tough to do them when I was already tired and sore, but I did them and felt alright faster than I expected, so I’m going to try this approach going forward.
  • Tuesday: I did some much needed stretching, but nothing else
  • Wednesday: the plan called for 2×3 mile intervals at a target pace of 8:00 to 8:10 with a 2 mile warm up, 1 mile cool down and a 3:00 rest between the intervals – that should have yielded me around 9 miles at a faster than tempo pace. I did not sleep well the night before – I had a difficult time falling asleep and once I was “asleep”, it was very restless so I was exhausted when I got up at 5 am to do this run. I’m actually impressed I got as much as I did considering how I felt. I ended up with just at 7 miles, so I ended up cutting off the cool down and part of the last interval, but still ended up with an average pace of 8:22, so, in all, I’m happy with it. Like Monday, I did my core work after I finished the run, same as Monday, only I added push ups to it.
  • Thursday: Like Tuesday, I did some stretching, but nothing more.
  • Friday: easy 6, and as it turned out, that’s all I had in me. It was a struggle, actually, to keep my pace under a 9mm, and that only came during the last mile. I ran a somewhat hilly route through the neighborhoods connecting to mine, and I’m sure the training of the week was catching up to me. This is the design of the plan, though, to teach me how to run through feeling drained, so I finished it.
  • Saturday: the plan called for a steady 16-mile run, which is now my longest run. I chose the same hilly route as last week, planning to add some side streets in one of the neighborhoods I passed, and crossed my fingers that the weather would be better. The planets aligned and the weather was better. MUCH BETTER. My dad agreed to watch the boys for a couple of hours while I ran so I could do it outside. He arrived around 7:30 as we discussed, but I wasn’t quite ready yet because the damn alarm didn’t make a sound (it went off, apparently, but I never heard it… ??) and I woke up about 10 minutes before he got there. I was still cooking my breakfast when he arrived, so I ate quickly and got the boys ready and he took them out for breakfast. After they left, I finally got all my stuff together and opened the garage door to head out for my run and my kitten shot out into the garage. I had to chase his little furry ass for about 20 minutes, so I was nice and irritated by the time I got out for my run. ¬†Once I started it, though, I forgot all about that stuff and just enjoyed the run. It was 64 degrees and about 55% humidity, a stark difference from last week, so I had hopes of getting a much better time this week. The first six miles went well, but the hills around this area (and the full sun) got to me again and I had to walk a bit of it. I made it to the neighborhood I looked forward to last week and did some of the side streets to get the extra mileage. I also waited until I got to 8.5 to take the gu (I did it at 7.5 last week, and I’m trying to push it out a little so I only need 1 or 2 for the entire marathon). Unlike last week, though, the gu didn’t seem to make much of a difference in my stamina or performance. I just didn’t feel quite *as* drained, but I was still struggling with some of the hills. By the time I started back toward the lake, I started to feel thirsty and my sweat rate had slowed, so I was getting worried. All I could think about was stopping to get water (at the same place I stopped last week) so I just checked out. I couldn’t tell you anything about the people on the trail, what I listened to or thought other than “I can’t wait to get to that water fountain”. I got to the water fountain and stopped Runkeeper only to realize I had only 1.15 miles left! what?!? I got my water and caught my breath then started back again around the rest of the lake. I was pumped up that I no longer felt thirsty and started to pay attention to the people I passed on the lake. There was a man there walking with his son who appeared to be Autistic – and who smiled at me. That kind of made my day. I also passed a woman who threw her hands in the air and shouted “yes!” as she finished a run. I smiled and said “congratulations” to her as I passed her and she looked pleasantly surprised that I said that. These interactions got me energized as I rounded the last bit of the lake, but I got really energized when I finished at the lake and heard “15.5 miles…” on my audio cue. I had only 1/2 a mile left!?!? and, unlike last week, I wasn’t talking myself into finishing it – I was almost a little sad I only had 1/2 a mile left (probably because I knew how badly my legs were going to hurt after – haha). ¬†I got to the 16 mile mark just before crossing the big highway and stopped RunKeeper. I realized that I ran only 5 minutes more than last week, but a full mile longer. I was very proud of myself and grateful I was able to do this run outside. I walked a little more than a mile back to my house hoping to loosen my legs a little. That worked until I got about 1/4 mile from my house. My legs started to really, really hurt, just like last week. I got inside, filled my dad in on the run (he’s been very, very supportive of my running and takes an interest in my routes and progress) and had to stop talking to stretch out a couple of times because my legs hurt. But! This week, I was able to find my post-run drink and after my shower, my leg pain diminished quicker than last week. I spent a little bit of time playing video games with my youngest and just sitting to rest. But… going along with the “make the hard days harder and the easy days easier” mantra, I rested a bit and then went back outside to mow the grass in the afternoon… on my hilly front yard. Believe it or not, I’m not nearly as sore this morning as I was last week with one more mile and a lawn mowing. I’m taking that as improvement.

This upcoming week is another step up in intensity:

  • Monday: 5×1 mi intervals – 2 mile warm up, and then 5×1 mi intervals at 7:45-7:55 pace and 1:30 rest between, followed by a 1 mile warm down – I’ll be doing this on my home treadmill. I’m expecting around 9 miles from this workout. I also plan to do my core work after this run, time permitting. If not, I hope to make it up to the workout room at my office and/or do some of them when I get home from work.
  • Tuesday: non-run day – planning to do nada.
  • Wednesday: 9 mi tempo – 2 miles slow, 6 mi at 8:30-8:40 pace, followed by 1 mile slow. Planning to do this on my home treadmill. I also plan to do my core work after this run, time permitting. If not, I hope to make it up to the workout room at my office and/or do some of them when I get home from work.
  • Thursday: non-run day – planning to do nada.
  • Friday: Steady 6 – no target pace listed, but I’m guessing it is close to the 8:35-9:10 recommended for the long.
  • Saturday: Long steady 18 miler – goal pace is between 8:35 and 9:10 – I plan to do a similar route to the one I did this past weekend, adding another set of side streets and/or some of the Green way this time; this will be my longest ever run if I finish the whole thing.

That should do it! Have a great day!