Monday, September 30, 2013

Steamtown Training Week 17

2 weeks to go. It's getting real, yo.

I hate to be stereotypical runner and say "omg, tapering is hard, my legs feel so heavy! I'm sluggish!" but, omg, tapering is lame. I feel sluggish as hell. Part of it is I'm a crazy endorphin addict, and a 4 miler just doesn't do it for me anymore. After 4 miles I'm just hitting my stride. I don't mean that in a bragging way, I wish I could get a normal high from 4 medium-paced miles. I am slightly worried I don't enjoy moderate exercise anymore. It needs to be immoderate or gfto. Not healthy. Also, some of my GI symptoms are best managed when I'm running more. And my restless legs don't bother me nearly as much when I'm running higher mileage. Basically, I am sleeping and digesting very poorly right now and it's making me testy.

One positive is that I feel like I have tons of free time. If I want to skip cross training, I can, without feeling like I'm missing an opportunity to increase my fitness. On Thursday we got to hang out with my coworkers for my boss's birthday, then we went house hunting (sorta), and it pushed my run to a 7 pm start time. That wasn't happening, so I just pushed it to Friday. Random day off = I feel discombobulated, but it worked out.

Victories: I'm tapering! I have so much time!
Failures: I 'm tapering! I feel like a slug.

Monday: (included on last week because I delayed my 
Tuesday: treadmill 4.1 plus c/d. My legs were not happy. 4.35 total
Wednesday: bike 14.8 @ 17.5 (short but quick!)
Thursday: off, we went house hunting instead!
Friday: 1 @ 6.1, 4 x (1.05 @ 8.2 / 0.5 @ 5.1),  then another interval of 0.1 slow 0.2 fast, and 1 mile cooldown. 7.75 total
Saturday: 4.1 outside @ 8:19
Sunday: treadmill (I'm a weenie) 10.25 in 1:31 (8:52 pace)

Totals: 26.4 miles running, 14.8 biking

Sunday's "long run" probably should have been closer to 15 miles but I put it off all day and then it was dinnertime and I couldn't run through dinner, now could I? I seriously am the laziest person on the planet. Anyway. I ran on the treadmill with a goal of getting in as many miles as I could before it was time for dinner. That ended up being 10, which was pretty perfect. I did them very slightly faster because I knew I wasn't running as long. It felt pretty comfortable. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Steamtown Goals post #1

I will probably provide amendments to this post about a million times between now and race day (17 days, kill me now), but I want to talk about goals. Way back when, I said "lolz I bet I can qualify for Boston this year! I'm so fast!" and made that my lofty goal. I thought I would make that my "A" goal and be totally ok with missing it, but I thought it was a realistic stretch goal.

Yeah, no.
In this metaphor, the cat is me and the water is a BQ. And the cat won't touch the water, much like I won't touch a <3:35:00 marathon (not to mention 2014's actual qualifying time, which was >1:38 below the qualifying time).

There are lots of way to make my goal estimates more realistic. Option 1: look at last year's race and aim for some reasonable improvement over that time, considering course differences. My Richmond time was 4:04:17, so to aim for a mild improvement over that, I'd go with something like 4:00. A 4 minute improvement = 10 seconds per mile. That's the difference between 9:17 and 9:09, so it's a decent jump but I can easily wrap my mind around running slightly greater than 9 minute miles. Even for 4 hours. It's not a mental leap. If I add in the huge net downhill at the beginning of Steamtown, and I might even bank a little time. I know this is mistake numero uno for screwing up a net downhill race and trashing your quads early, but I run on moderate hills all the time. It'll hurt, bad, but I'm not a total hill novice and plan on using that downhill.

It's meme day here on my blog. Bear with me, and maybe I'll reward you with a puppy gif.

Anywho. So my "C" goal, meaning the number I promise I'll absolutely be pleased with, I swear, is <4:00. It'll be a PR, and it'll be glorious. I mean, going sub-4 would be breaking a huge barrier for me.

Now to make a "B" goal, based on improvement from last year's half marathon and improved training this year. B means I'll be over the moon happy, although it's a slight stretch for me. And I arbitrarily will choose <3:50 for that. That's an 8:45 pace, which is still not a mental stretch for me, and it's only about 15 seconds/mile faster than most of my long runs. It's a 1:55 half marathon split, which is slower than my PR by 6 minutes. It's a logical, sane number. 3:50 marathoner. Sounds glorious.
I want to put a crown on this pug and name him King of my Heart.


As for an A goal? The total shot in the dark? The dream number? 3:45. I'm not giving up on the BQ someday, but this year I know it's out of reach. All the internet calculators have me around 3:38, and those assume I'm training significantly more than I actually am (>50 mpw). 3:45 is an 8:34 pace, which is still not a mental stretch for me, and it's about 30 seconds/mile faster than most of my long runs. The half marathon split is slower than my PR by 3 minutes. It's a stretch goal. It would definitely give me something to work toward in future marathons. 

You made it this far? Thanks, here's a puppy with a bunny.

The bunny looks like he's only pretending to like the puppy. Bunny, everyone can see through your lies.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Steamtown Training week 16

3 weeks! 19 days! It's taper time! I could not be happier/more scared about this. 

Tuesday's run was all sweetness and joy. I felt like I was flying. That was big news early in the week, but the biggest news was my super exciting new 5K PR from Saturday!

Here's a quickie race report. Nick and I stayed up until almost midnight the night before the race, and cider was consumed. After too few hours of sleep, I woke up grouchy and had some mild stomach pains, but the 5K was happening no matter my emotional state. We headed down to the race. This was a tiny, local race with, I'm guessing, ~100 participants. I lined up near the front and joked with a guy near me about how everyone should just stay behind me the whole race. I was mildly surprised when my high school cross country coach said something along the lines of "she'll definitely be toward the front," implying I don't totally suck at running. I was incredibly flattered.

Per usual, I decided that I should run the first mile at a pace that's completely unrealistic. Nick ran with me, and the first split was 6:53. Yikes. We were hanging in there with the leaders (all male). We got to the turnaround, which included a little uphill, and then onward to mile 2 in 7:35. At turnaround I got to see that the next woman was about 100 yards behind me. That was motivation to not lay down and die right there on the course. The last full mile was 7:43 (consistency!), and then 7:30 for the last 0.12. I didn't have much sprint left in me. I kept asking Nick to check for the 2nd place woman and he sweetly checked for her, while reminding me that just because I was in 1st didn't mean I should walk. I had visions of piggyback rides across the finish line. We finished in 22:50. Pretty awesome.
I look like I'm being dragged down by the starfish "medal"

Yay! Prizes.

I won a super lucrative contract with Mizuno. Kidding! I got dinner for 4 at Potbelly Sandwich Works. Also, tickets to a local museum and a boat ride! Neat! The highlight was the glittery starfish medal, which shed its glitter all over my body and car. Nick and I did a little cooldown jog while waiting 1.5 hours for the awards ceremony. Luckily they had a nice selection of baked goods that I sampled while we waited.

Victories: 5K PR WOOOOO. Oh and a 20 miler. In 3 hours. No big deal.
Failures: Delaying long run a day, but that probably benefitted me more that anything.

Monday: HIIT
Tuesday: 7.2 @ 8:20 and felt like I was running on air. 70 degrees and low humidity, never change.
Wednesday: bike 26.6 @ 16.6
Thursday: treadmill 1 @ 6.01, 2.6 @ 7.6, 2.75@ 7.7, 0.9 @ 6.6 plus cooldown. Total 7.6
Friday: 3.25 @ 7.0 plus cooldown. 3.5 total
Saturday: 3.11 in 22:50 (woo PR!) plus 0.7 cooldown
Sunday: off
Monday: 20 miles in 3:00:24. Bam.

Totals:  42.1 miles running,  26.6 biking

Long run details: I didn't make my long run on Sunday because of a rough Saturday night and the intense desire to lay on the couch all day. On the plus side, Nick and I made some major progress on watching West Wing. I love that show. Monday I had the run hanging over my head all day. I needed to get this last long run in. It was non-negotiable. The last thing standing between me and taper. My eats for the day were fairly standard: banana, apple, eggs, cereal, farro stuff and veggies at lunch. I also had nuts and a KIND bar in the late afternoon because my stomach was grumbling.

I set out on the run with a horrible attitude. It was already 4:30pm and there was a ton of traffic on the road and cars irritate me (I didn't want to drive to the trail because it's ~25 minutes away and every second counts when you're starting so late in the afternoon). Also, apparently it's that magical time of year when squirrels insist on committing suicide. I must have seen a dozen squirrels over the course of my run. Sad, cute little guys. The first several miles were a mental battle of epic proportions. I was feeling every little twinge in my legs and my stomach was unsettled. I listened to This American Life and chugged along though, trying to settle into an even pace. It worked. I ended 20 miles in 3:00:24, which is a speedy 9:01 pace. In comparison, my Richmond marathon pace last year was 9:17/mile and I did slightly less than 19 miles as my last long run last year at a 10:05 pace, and the run before that at 9:59. I am pretty happy. 

I drank Gatorade every 2 miles, plus a gel at mile 6ish and 11ish. It probably wouldn't have hurt to have another one in the last 9 miles, but I wasn't feeling it. I started to get hungry for real food. I got home, collapsed on the floor, and drank a protein shake, then tried to get calories into my body in the short time I had before bed. I was moderately successful (salad, chili, and pear cobbler were consumed). 

And now, taper crazies begin!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Steamtown Training week 15

4 weeks to go. This week was originally labelled a stepback week on my pre-made schedule, but I didn't see that as beneficial since I'll have 3 stepback weeks in a row soon when taper starts. I'd rather get a little more quality under my belt before it's go time. 

I wrote those first sentences before my long run. I had this grand plan to run a strong 20 miles after a good week of speedwork, and then.. nope. I will blame it 80% on my stomach (frozen yogurt is where it's at! ..if you like reflux), and 20% on my head. I started off pretty strong (8:45ish, not too fast, not too slow) and knocked out the first 4 or 5 miles pretty well. Then I started feeling increasingly gross. I slowed down. Then I felt grosser. I slowed down more, and turned back toward the car (maybe I will be able to waddle my way back, 13 miles is no joke, blah blah blah). Finally, grossness turned to intense stomach cramps and dry heaving and a very urgent potty break. I was about 6 miles from the car and started a killer run/walk pattern. I was still averaging ~10 min/mile with the run/walk, so now I totally get why people Gallowalk. My stomach calmed down and the last 3 miles I managed to run/walk in half mile segments instead of 0.1 mile segments. I almost thought about doing 7 more miles after I got back to the car that way, but I realized I didn't think I'd be proud of that performance, so I gave up.

Gave up. Again. I know stomach problems are legit, but the amount of giving up I do is just stupid. I cried for a while (crying, sweaty runner on a public trail at 4pm) at the prospect of giving up during Steamtown. My brain sucks, and I don't know why. Now, I have legitimately never liked long runs, but these lately have been unusually sucky. I like running long races, but long runs play with my mind and even more so when I have a speed goal. I need to #getoutofmydamnhead and just #dothework and every other stupid platitude that Pinterest has turned into a dramatic motivational poster. I need more motivational posters in my life!

Victories: I did the speedwork that almost killed me last week. And it felt great!

Failures: My stomach rebelled and made my long run impossible. I make the worst decisions sometimes. And by sometimes, I mean all the damn time. 

Monday: off, working swing shift and recovering a little from the half
Tuesday: 3.5 @ 6.7, 3 @ 6.8, last 0.5 @ 6.9 plus cooldown. 7.25 total in 1:05
Wednesday: lots of lifting and trimming and walking during United Way Day of Caring, then 15.6 miles biking @ 16.8

Look at the little lizard Nick found. He stayed perfectly still on my glove.

Thursday: treadmill 1 @ 6.01, 5.6 @ 7.6, 0.9 @ 6.6 plus cooldown. Total 7.75 in 1:05
Friday:  5.5
Saturday: off
Sunday: 13 @ shut up, stomach, I'm trying to run here

Totals:  33.5 miles running,  16.8 biking

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Parks Half Marathon Race Report

I ran the Parks Half Marathon on September 8, 2013. I last did this race in 2008 which is ridiculous mostly because how on earth am I 28 years old now? Time marches on... Anyway. In 2008 I was much, much slower than I am now. I ran the half in a blazing 2:38, 12:05 pace. In my defense, I was very new to running. I also weighed about ~50 lbs more, which did not help. This year my finish time was 1:50:30 (about 90 seconds off my PR), and I ran it with Nick by my side!

Post-race. Pre-desperate hunger.

The race was just as lovely as I remembered. It's nicely organized. We got our packets on race day because I was working the day before, and it was seamless, as was bag check. We got lined up a little way behind the 1:45 pacer and got started on time. I was super nervous, since I had dreamt about failing badly at the marathon the night before. My dreams are just the worst! I had also had a week of rather crappy running, so I wasn't mentally ready for any mind-blowing paces. My 3rd excuse was my silly work schedule had me leaving work at about 11:15 the night before, asleep by 12:15 or so, and awake to race at 4:30. Ugh.  It was ridiculously humid, although the temperature was pleasantly cool at the start.

Miles 1-3: 7:49, 7:41, 8:16
This was us trying desperately to catch the 1:45 pacer. In hindsight, holding back a little more here would have been wise, since we never even saw the pacer even though we were ahead of his pace. Arg. This part was also slightly downhill, on paved roads.

Miles 4-7: 8:04, 8:18, 8:25, 8:24
Chugging along. Started running on paved, twisty trails. Still felt amazing. We hit the halfway point at 53:15, which, in an absolutely perfect world, would be a 1:46:30 finish. I was pumped, but started to get worried about running that pace for over 50 more minutes.
THERE WAS A PIANO ON THE COURSE AT MILE 5. I want this in every race.


Mile 8-10: 8:20, 7:57 (no clue where that came from), 8:37
Starting to feel the pain. I was pretty sure I'd need to stop at a porta-potty along the way, my stomach was an absolute mess. I was also starting to lose form, but Nick is the best and lets me know when I'm starting to turtle up my arms and shoulders (Exhibit A: every race photo of me in history)

Mile 11-13.1: 8:44, 8:53, 9:12, (last 0.1) 8:41
Nick and I were both hurting. I pushed him the last couple miles, but I was struggling myself. These last couple miles were consistently uphill, which didn't help.

We were getting passed left and right at the finish, but I didn't care. We finished triumphantly in 1:50:30, which is just a little off my PR time and a huge PR for Nick (who ran his first half last May with me in just under 2:00)! I was so proud he battled through the humidity and tired legs. He's my running hero.

I felt fine when we finished, so I downed a water, grabbed my bag from the bag check, and went off to run a little more to get some more miles in (I had 20 on the schedule for the day, although I didn't feel compelled to get all 20 in). It was less than 10 minutes between when we finished and I started running, and apparently that 10 minutes was long enough for a ridiculous amount of lactic acid to get into my muscles. I cramped up like a champ just a block away from the finish line. It was so bad, I actually worried about being able to get back to Nick. I stopped and stretched repeatedly and eventually was able to get a nice slow jog going. I have only ever cramped that intensely during the night, it was a full-blown charley horse, and it stopped me in my tracks. Because of that, and the fact that I had to be at work a few hours later, I stopped after just a mile of cooldown. Finished the day with ~14.1 miles. All in all, I was very pleased with how the day went. Not so pleased to go work for 8 hours, but that's life.

Race nutrition minutiae: The night before I had veggies and chili. Not normal pre-race food, but I was working. Day of: banana, 2 eggs at 4:30. Granola bar at around 5:30. Big coffee at 6am. Gu at 6:45, then mile 5 and 9. I alternated water and Gatorade every 2 miles. After the race I had a lot of water, a piece of pizza (!?), some watermelon, chips, and Nick and I split a Red Bull. All before 11am. It was that kind of morning.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Steamtown Training Week 14

5 weeks to go! More freaking out! Ah! This week was a wee bit less mileage because I didn't do the 20 miler that was on the schedule for the week, but instead ran the Parks Half Marathon. I'll be compensating by not taking a stepback week this upcoming week, and really hitting it hard and well these last couple weeks before taper. 

Victories: Umm.. the half went pretty well. I'm happy with it. I'll write a whole post about that. Definitely gave me some perspective and a better understanding of what my goals should be for the marathon. More to come.

Failures: This was the first week a speed workout didn't go well for me. My stomach was upset. I'm blaming the lure of half-price whey protein bars. Whey makes my stomach go haywire, I know this, but $0.85 bars were too good to pass up. I'm cheap. And stupid. I also thought, what the hell, I should totally run these 5 tempo miles a little faster, like 12 seconds per mile faster, than I have in the past. THAT WILL MOST DEFINITELY GO WELL. It didn't. I made it to 4 miles then had to bail. My stomach was feeling terrible and it was just too hard of a run for me. I finished off the distance (a little over 7 miles) but did so with little speed ladders instead. That was humbling. The next day, I had an easy 6 miler outside that ended up feeling like death. Again. 

Monday: HIIT that left my entire legs and abs sore. Plus scratching my horrible poison ivy night and day. It's a real workout for my fingernails.
Tuesday: 6.1 @ 8:39
Wednesday: Bike 22.5 mi @ 17.7- new route with Nick with some obnoxious wind and killer hills
Thursday: treadmill @ 6, 4 @7.7 then a couple ladders 5-8. 7.3 total in 1:03. 
Friday: 6.2 @ 8:52. Not my best work. 
Saturday: off
Sunday: Parks half marathon: 1:50:30, plus 1 mile cooldown jog - 14.2 @ 8:33 total

Totals: 34 miles running, 22.5 biking, 1 HIIT

Thursday, September 5, 2013

My latest good decisions

2 weeks ago, I broke my phone. I dropped when a fit of running frustrating coincided with excessive hand sweat. The screen cracked and although it still works, for now, it's a mess. Last week's awesomeness included:

Poison ivy everywhere.
Friday...
...the following Wednesday. WHY IS IT GETTING WORSE. These are the least gross pictures I can take, on the inside of my wrist. I also have it on the front and back of both legs, my chest (sweat allowed the oil to get through my shirt?!), and my neck (no idea). Also possibly my ear. Wtf, poison ivy?!

As if that wasn't enough, I also drove into the garage with the bikes still on the top of my car. 
Above driver side passenger door

Above Driver's door

Mangled Thule bike rack

We are lucky that this is all the damage that was done. Our normal Wednesday bike ride was cancelled due to rain so Nick and I just went home, and because it was all weird and off-normal, I completely forgot about the bikes on the car and drove into the garage. When I first heard the noise, it took a few seconds to click and for me to realize what I'd done, and then the freaking out happened. Very, very luckily, the bikes were just fine. We got away with just Nick's handlebars being knocked out of alignment and the clear coat on my front fork getting scuffed. Other than that, they're good. It could have been so much worse. I haven't decided if I'm going to try and get the car looked at, it doesn't hurt to get an estimate but it would be nice to say "I ran into the garage and only needed a $70 bike rack piece" instead of dealing with insurance. 

Cross your fingers I can stop screwing up and breaking things for a little while. My stress levels could use a rest.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Steamtown training Week 13

6 weeks to go! 3 weeks of training then taper (39 days as of the day of this post... eek)! It's weird because, yes, I've run marathons before, but still the idea is daunting. It's such a unique physical challenge. I do it once a year! Maybe if I ran them all the time I wouldn't get so spun up about it, but here I am, already freaking out.

Tuesday's run was the worst I've felt during a run in ages. The first 2 miles, I fought nausea. I finally gave in and stopped for a few seconds to dry heave alongside the road. The roadside assisted in the pukey feeling by smelling like dead fish. Thanks, roadside! I do not live close enough to the water for that to make sense. Anyways, I dragged myself through the run. I promised myself I wouldn't walk but I shuffled through miles 5 through 7 at a >9 min pace. In retrospect, it was super humid and gross

Victories: Speedwork was lengthened slightly (this was my first time doing 4 x 1 mile repeats instead of 3) and it was easy breezy.
Failures: Long run was done on the treadmill for no reason other than convenience/avoiding humidity. I don't see it as a failure, but I know for some people it's a cop out. I finished feeling fresh and happy, which is a nice change from last week's run.

Monday: Yardwork. Bug bites and frustration.
Tuesday: 7 miles outside @ 8:58. Additional bug bites and frustration
Wednesday: I broke the bikes, so did HIIT and strength instead. 
Thursday: treadmill - 1 @ 6 then 4 x (1 @ 8.1, 0.5 @ 5) plus cooldown. 7.3 in 1:04
Friday: 7.1 outside @ 8:36
Saturday: off
Sunday: 16.3 on the treadmill in 2:28. ~9:03 pace. I bumped up the speed for the last 0.1 of every other mile, and the incline the last 0.1 of every other mile.

Totals:  37.7 miles running, 1 HIIT

Long run minutiae: This felt like a cheating on the long run, since I did it on the treadmill. I watched the Katy Perry documentary (don't judge) and then Bully (I don't usually cry during the last quarter of my long run... oh wait, yes I do, but usually for a different reason). I had been relaxing and lazing about most of the day (eggs and toast for breakfast, date balls and kale chips during the early afternoon), and was finally motivated to run because we were going to dinner with my folks. I drank a whole bottle of Gatorade and most of a bottle of water, plus Gu at 5, 10 and 13.5. This run gets an A+ from me.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

August totals

It's September. That means this marathon is NEXT MONTH.

Here's August in workouts. I am still proud of my consistency. My big highlights are my first 20 miler, plus 2 more long runs at sub 9 min/mile pace. I'm pretty happy, although I'm also fairly sure Boston is not in the cards for this year, unless I suddenly grow wings. It could happen! Considering I was running 30 mile weeks this time last year, I am at least pretty much guaranteed a marathon PR (I know I am jinxing myself so hard by saying this).

Un-highlights: I ran into the garage with the bikes on top of my car, so this is what our roof rack looks like (bikes are ok, more on that in another post). 
So glad the roof rack gave way instead of the bikes... 

August
August 1:  treadmill- w/u 1 @ 6.0, 3x (1.05 @ 8.1-8.2, 0.5 @ 5.0) 1.0 @ 6.6 then cooldown. 6.25 in 55
August 2: 9.3 miles in 1:17
August 3: off
August 4: off 
August 5: 16.5 @ 8:57 
August 6: 6.2 outside  @ 8:53
August 7: bike 26.6 @ 17 mph
August 8: treadmill 1 @ 6.0, 5.2 @ 7.6, 1.0 @ 6.6 plus c/d, 7.40 in 1:03
August 9: treadmill 3 @ 6.5, 3 @ 6.6. 6.3 in 58 (morning!)
August 10: off
August 11: 17 miles @ 8:48!
August 12: HIIT (more strength focused) with Nick
August 13: 7 outside @ 8:33
August 14:  bike 20 @ 17.4 mph
August 15: 7.1 @ 8:18
August 16: 7.2 @ 6.6 plus c/d, 7.45 in 1:07
August 17: off
August 18: 7.3 outside @ 8:48
August 19: HIIT 30ish minutes
August 20: 5.1 outside @ 8:18
August 21: biking 24.6 @ 18.3
August 22: treadmill 1 @ 6, 4.25 @ 7.6, 1 @ 7.7, 1 @ 6.7 plus cooldown. 7.5 total in 1:07ish
August 23: treadmill- 4.2 @ 6.6 plus cooldown. 4.5 total
August 24: off
August 25: 20 @ 9:13 - last 2 run/walk
August 26: Yardwork. It's like HIIT but with more bug bites
August 27: 7 miles outside. @ 8:58

August 28: broke the bikes. HIIT and strength instead!
August 29: treadmill - 1 @ 6 then 4 x (1 @ 8.1, 0.5 @ 5) plus cooldown. 7.3 in 1:04
August 30: 7.1 outside @ 8:36
August 31: off

August totals: 156 miles in 18 runs, 71.2 miles biking, 3 HIIT