Sunday, June 21, 2015

AR Runner 2 Miler Race Recap and Some Whining

I’m just going to get all the negativity our right away. The race didn’t go well. I haven’t got my legs back since Boston. The 8k, while not a disaster, did not go well. I tried to do some speed work after that hoping to get back into things. The week after the 8k I did a 12x400m work out and it wasn’t awful. I even managed to do a mid week medium long run. That weekend though, my actual long run was terrible. It was just so humid and hot. I slogged through 12 miles and really never ran well again after that. Doing speed work that next week just seemed impossible and like a really bad idea. I did manage some strides though. After that, I took it easy the rest of the week leading up to the 2 miler. No matter what I tried to tell myself, I just couldn’t get into the idea of the race. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have run it. I should have listened to my body (and my mind-I am so burned out) and sat it out. The race only cost $7.50 so it really wouldn’t have been a big deal and we would have saved money on a babysitter.

My 2m PR is 12:32. I ran that in 2011 at an early March race. In the past, I’ve liked 2 milers. As I get older or maybe as I focus on longer distances, my speed has really seemed to take a hit. I thought I would be fine though. Just 3 months ago I ran a 5k right at PR pace. The McMillian calculator predicts I can run a 12 minute 2 miler based on my 40:46 10k time from Capital City Classic back in April. I didn’t figure I could actually do that. Brian and I have looked at the calculator and it is pretty obvious that I’m the strongest at 5 and 10k so my shorter and longer stuff will always be a little slower than predicted if I use a 5 or 10k time. It didn’t seem like running my PR time would be that much of a stretch though so I figured I’d go out between 6:10 and 6:20. When I warmed up, I felt so sluggish. It was hot and humid but it was worse than just that. My legs felt like they had no spring in them at all. I’ve had many bad warm ups that came before great races though so I didn’t worry about it too much. The attitude though… Man, I just didn’t want to hurt the way you hurt in a 2 miler, especially in the oppressive conditions. I lined up and went out at my intended pace. A quarter mile in, I knew I was in trouble. I seriously considered throwing in the towel. I have never DNFed and I don’t want to but at the same time, it isn’t a good idea to just run yourself into the ground. I decided to keep going. I went through the 1 mile mark in 6:12. I was running pretty much on pace at that point but the thought of another mile seemed pretty hopeless. A girl that is approximately my speed but that I usually beat was beside me. I tried to just keep going and let the distance pass. We stayed together until the 1.5 mile marker. She pulled a little ahead of me and I figured I’d just let her go but the next thing I know, without even really trying, I was with her again. With a quarter mile to go, she took off and I fell apart. She ended up beating me by 14 seconds and we were together with a quarter mile to go. Ugh. My time was 12:51 and the last mile was 6:31. My overall pace was 6:26 which is about the pace I’ve been running 5ks. I felt really horrible at the finish line even though I slowed way, way down. I started cooling down pretty much immediately. What an awful experience. I sulked the whole time I cooled down. I do not like feeling this way about running. I know I need to do something different but I don’t know what it is. My left Achilles was bothering me but that happens periodically. I had actually felt it on the Wednesday and Thursday run before the race. I felt it in the cool down but it didn’t feel like anything more than a little ice and some stretching would fix.

Brian and I talked on the way home and he agreed that I needed a major adjustment of some sort. He suggested getting through the Go!Mile which was the next weekend and then taking and entire rest week and reassessing. I agreed. Later that night, I went to do a recovery run and it was clear that my Achilles was more than a little sore. I decided to just skip the Go!Mile and take my rest week immediately. I was sad but it felt like the right only thing to do. I was already signed up for the Go!Mile but too bad.

Through Tuesday, the ankle hurt bad enough that it was hard to walk without a limp. I iced 3-4 times a day. I didn’t stretch because it seemed like it might do more harm. It felt a little better by the end of the day Tuesday so I went to yoga and really got it stretched out. That was the best it had felt since the race. After yoga, it continued to feel better every day. We all went to the Go!Mile because the kids were doing the Mini Mile. Brian had a great race. He did 4:40! I really wish I had skipped the 2 miler and done this race but what’s done is done. I ran with Leo and the ankle felt good although it really wasn’t a true test as it was only about 3/10 of a mile and Leo only ran about half of it. I wanted to test it out but it was pretty hot by the time we got home. I waited until 8pm and ran 3 miles. I was hoping that I’d get out there and feel great. I’ve been really missing running this week and even longed for my pre dawn runs. It didn’t go well. My left ankle hurt pretty bad after a mile or so and my right ankle started hurting too. WTH!? I haven’t had problems with the right ankle since at least 2011. I’ve had Achilles issues off and on throughout the years so it is a problem for me and I can’t be that surprised.

I have to believe that this too shall pass. This is running for me. A big series of highs and lows. Marathoning has always done a number on me and Boston is just so punishing. I was so sad a couple of weeks ago that I couldn’t do anything but run 6 milers and now I’m limping through 2 and 3 milers. Gah!!! So frustrating. I’ve been doing eccentric exercises for the Achilles that really seemed to help last time. I’m also icing 3-4 time per day. I plan on looking up more PT type things I can do and I plan on getting to yoga as much as possible. I haven’t complained on here about it but the gym I was going to shut down the location with the best yoga instructor/kids club. They brought her over to a new club but only once per week and the kids club isn’t ready yet. Just last week, they started having a Tuesday night class at a new place with a kids club and we all liked it (all being me, Leo and Darwin). She has a new Monday night class to so I’m going to try to make that as well.

From here on out, I’m going to think long and hard about marathons. I do really enjoy training for them but they aren’t my best distance and, as much as I will miss them, I don’t want to be in this type of position ever again. I know I will be from time to time because that’s just running, but I don’t want to purposely walk into the lion’s den so to speak. I do still want my sub 3:15 and I plan to do Houston if I can and it seems like the right thing to do as the time gets closer. Houston is fairly flat so it shouldn’t tear me up as much. One thing I learned in Boston training is that I’m really good at 10k! I’ve always had such a mental block about that distance and was convinced I was bad at it. I am not and I feel like I could be really happy focusing on it and 5k. I’m hoping to rehab myself and focus on the Chile Pepper 10k XC in October. If I can maintain some fitness and build back up, it would be really good timing to have a good race there and then transition into Houston training. I’m just going to stay as positive as possible and work through this. I really miss running.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Rock Run 8k Race Recap

It is that time of year. It is hot and humid and most of us aren’t acclimated to it yet. Not that anyone really ever gets used to it but you do cope better after you’ve had some time to adjust. Every year there is one Grand Prix race that is the first really unpleasant race of the seasn. The Rock Run gets that distinction this year. Brian does a lot of the work for this race so he got up early and went out to do things like mark the course and set up water stops. I stayed home with the boys until the sitter arrived at 6am. The race started at 730 and it was about a 30 minute drive to the course. Thanks to early packet pick up, I didn’t need to do anything except show up, warm up and run. It was raining when I arrived but it wasn’t a downpour. As I warmed up, I realized that it wasn’t that warm and the wind was blowing in my face cooling me down. It was almost pleasant. This did not last long. Before I even turned around for the second mile of my warm up, I was already starting to feel pretty hot and gross and the soupy air was not exactly conducive to breathing. As the sun tried to peek through the clouds and the temps went up, it soon started to feel a little like a sauna.

I haven’t felt great since Boston so I was a little worried about this race. I figured I should be prepared though and my recent speedwork was respectable. I put my Capital City 10k time in the McMillan calculator and it predicted I could do 6:30s for an 8k. Capital City was perfect weather and was pre-marathon but it also was done on a lot of miles. I didn’t taper at all and ran a 15 miler the Wednesday before the race. With the weather and the questionable legs, I figured I would go out at 6:30 and just play it by ear. I did manage to do the first mile in 6:30. It wasn’t horrible but I could tell that there was no way I would be able to keep that up. I backed off and did the second mile in 6:45. At that point, I knew I was in trouble.  I felt awful but I figured it was the horrible weather and I told myself to just keep going and that everyone probably felt as bad or even worse than I did. There was a girl a few feet in front of me so I just locked on to her and tried to focus on bringing her in. I also started to watch for the leaders. It is an out and back course and I felt like I should at least be able to see the first few people soon. For some reason, it really bothered me that I couldn’t see them yet. Finally they came into view. Brian was in second place. He looked to be running well but didn’t seem to be enjoying himself much. As I met more runners, I could see that most people weren’t feeling too good. The turnaround came just before mile 3. Ughhh… I still had nearly 2 miles to go. I was really feeling terrible. Mile 3 was 6:46 pace so at least I wasn’t continuing to slow down. I caught and passed the girl in front of me but she hung on and came back up beside me. I was in no mood to go back and forth with someone for another mile and a half but I didn’t have the energy to drop her either. Sometimes, running beside someone is helpful but sometimes it really bothers me. Today, running beside someone felt like extra weight or maybe a too warm shirt that I wanted to strip off. I just tried to hang on to my pace and, lucky for me, she fell back. At the 4 mile mark, there was a little bit of a decline so I tried to tell myself that it was all downhill and less than a mile to go. Unfortunately, the split was 6:58 so I was getting slower. There was nothing I could do though. At that point, I was just hanging on and had no fight left in me. If someone would have passed me, I wouldn’t have had the speed or the motivation to try to stay with them. I knew there was at least one girl at the turn around that was close enough to catch me and there was the girl I had passed that could also come back up. As I got closer, I really started to feel bad. All I could think about was finishing. I started to worry that I might pass out. I did every trick I could think of to get me to the finish line. I would pick short goals like telephone poles and other landmarks and just focus on getting that far. Once I got pretty close, I somehow found the strength to speed up and the last split ended up being 6:40 pace. Brian was near the finish and told me that I was probably fine but not to “put the brakes on”. I finished and really was a little woozy. My vision swam but I could tell I would be fine. After I got my chip clipped, I saw the two girls behind me finish up. They were 14 and 22 seconds behind me. The looks on everyone’s faces said it all. People were pale and drained and just looked spent. Like I said, there is one of these races every year.
Just before the turn around.

While I didn’t do great, I did good enough. I ran a 33:36 which is 6:46 pace. The only other 8k I’ve ever run was in 2002. I was actually able to find the results online and it was a 36:52 so this was a big PR even though it didn’t feel like it. I was 4th overall and the 3 ladies that beat me are typically quite a bit faster than I am so I beat everyone that I should have. It sucked hard though. I was not very happy out there so I’m hoping this will motivate me to work harder. From here until October, it is all short stuff thankfully.  The next race is the Arkansas 2 miler on 6/13 and the very next weekend is the Go! Mile.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Recovering and Looking Forward

It is 3 weeks post Boston now. I felt better than expected in the days after the race but my legs are pretty sluggish now and I can tell I need some recovery time.  The week following Boston I ran 46 miles but that is a little deceptive because Boston itself is included in that total. The next two weeks I did 42 with the longest run being 10 each week. I think I’m starting to feel better but the temps are rising so it is hard to tell for sure. I’ve just been doing easy runs but next week I’m going to start gradually upping the mileage and adding speed work and tempo runs. I’ll build up slowly over the summer and be ready for some fast running in the fall once it cools back down.

Yesterday, I signed up for a lot of races. The next will be an 8k on 5/30. I’ve only done one other 8k and it was about 13 years ago. I’m not sure it was a certified course and I don’t remember my time so this will be almost a first for me. I also signed up for the Arkansas 2 miler on 6/13 and the Go!Mile on 6/20. I better get started on that speed work! I do plan on some 5ks and maybe a 4 miler this summer as well but I’ll wait and see how my legs feel. I also want to do the Chile Pepper XC 10k in October. I love that race but I’ve never been able to do it in top form so I’m hoping I can make that happen this year.

The other thing that I must mention is that I signed up for the Houston Marathon on 1/17/16. I know, I just did one marathon and I’m already signed up for another. I’m an idiot. The thing is, after finishing Boston, I was happy with my performance on that day but I was disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to run what I know I’m capable of running. I’m certain that a sub 3:15 was in my legs that day but the course and the weather made it difficult. I really want to train and run a race that will give me the best chance to maximize performance. Houston is a fast course and the weather is about as consistently good as you can hope for.  Their guaranteed entry for time qualifiers opened on 5/6 so I felt like I had to go ahead and secure an entry. If I waited to see how my legs felt, I would have to go into the lottery and I might not get in. January will give me a full 9 months between marathons and I won’t have to start official marathon training until the last week of October. Just like weather, healthy legs are never a given so you really are always taking a little bit of a gamble. Now that I have signed up though, I’m going to try to put it on the back burner and have fun focusing on shorter distances this summer.

I’ll be back in a few weeks with a race recap of the Rock Run 8k unless something more exciting happens before that.

Book wise I have been very busy listening to the 3rd and 4th Game of Thrones books. I'm about a third of the way into the 4th one. They are long and tedious but there is no turning back at this point.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

One Week Post Boston

So the race is done and I’ve been in a weird in between place for a few days. I’ve been able to bask in the glow of a great performance which is always nice but you also end up with that strange empty feeling you get when you are done chasing a big goal. For me, it is almost like that mourning period you get after you finish a good book and you’ll miss the story and the characters and wish it could keep going. I feel like I am recovering well. I took the day after the race off and then ran 1.8 on the treadmill the next day. It didn’t feel that bad. I ran 4 miles the next day and it went really well. We were in Concord, NH so the temps were brisk and the air felt amazing. I ended up running 7:53 pace. The next day I ran 5 miles around a cove in Portland, ME. The trail was crushed gravel so it felt good to my feet and joints. It was cold and windy and I managed 7:46 pace. Running in a new place is always great. I took Saturday off while we were flying back home and then ran 9 miles this morning. Sunshine and 60 something degrees felt so hot after the cool New England temps. I took it easy and ran 8:07 pace. I do have some aches but they are minor. My left groin hurt for a couple of days after Boston but seems better now. My feet are still sore too. The worst thing right now though is my back. After carrying luggage and kids through airports yesterday and then sleeping in a weird position, my back ribs are sore on the left side. I’m also bloated and sluggish after a week of eating pretty poorly on vacation.

The good news is, I’m raring to go! I want to get faster at shorter races and I’m eager to work toward that goal. Right now, the hardest thing will be forcing myself to recover properly. I typically feel pretty good after a marathon and I’ll start training or racing too soon. I’m certain this is why I got injured last year so I have to really be on myself to go easy for a while. Next week, I’ll add a little mileage but I won’t do anything big. I’m loosely following my Boston taper in reverse and won’t do any formal training plan for another couple of weeks. My next race will be an 8k on May 30th.
I’ll probably take a break from this blog until I really get into more focused training so I’ll be out for a couple of weeks.

P.S.-Here is my favorite pic from Boston. Check out the rain drops and my red from the cold skin. As much as the weather sucked, I am starting to look back on it as a fun adventure.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


So I did it! The weather was terrible. Miserable actually and it looked like Mother Nature was going to ruin everything but it went pretty well. It was hard fought. I couldn’t run my 3:15 but I did manage 3:16:11 which is a 3 minute PR! This entry will get long because I’m into the minutia of running and racing so bear with me...or don’t. I’ve already told you the ending anyway.

Let me start with week 12. The plan was 32 miles. Monday I did 5 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. The weather was terrible with rain most of the day. It started after my morning run which I managed in 8:30 pace. I was not so lucky in the afternoon. I hit the treadmill and did 8:10 pace. My legs were finally starting to shake out. I went to the gym for some yoga but the instructor couldn’t make it so a Piyo instructor taught the class instead. I should have walked out but I felt rude so I stayed. I’m an idiot. I got absolutely no stretching out of it and she had us do a bunch of squats and lunges. I don’t know if my gym has the worst Piyo instructors in the world or if it just isn’t a workout I enjoy but I HATE it and it is the worst thing I could possibly do on a marathon week. I was sore the next day. WHY DID I DO THIS!?!? Commence freaking out. I got up early again on Tuesday for 5 miles. My legs hurt so bad I couldn’t sit or stand without pain. The run sucked and was 8:29 pace. I went to yoga that night hoping to shake everything out but it just isn’t the same. I did get a good stretch though. My legs felt even worse on Wednesday. This was the dress rehearsal run. I’d had a lot of drama with what I was going to wear. I need to carry 4 Gu packets with me so either my shorts, top or some combination of the two has to support this. I also want whatever I wear to be flattering and functional. This is impossible for some reason. I do have an Asics top that is very functional but it looks terrible on me so I try to avoid it. I ordered several different shorts and tops trying to find something but most of it didn’t work. None of the tops worked at all and the final option arrived the day before the dress rehearsal run. I loved it. It looked good, was really supportive and it had large pockets in the back for all my Gu. This meant I could wear whatever shorts I wanted since all my Gu would be in the singlet. Unfortunately, when I ran in it, it rode up. I also didn’t like the feel of the material when it got sweaty. At that point, I was so frustrated that I just gave up and went with the old Asics top. The run itself went well except my legs still hurt. The two miles that were supposed to be at marathon pace were run in 7:20 and the overall run was 7:45 pace. Legs hurt but seem to still work. On Thursday I did 5 at 7:56 pace wearing the Asics top just to make sure it really did work. It did. Legs still felt terrible but running didn’t seem to be a problem. I kept telling Brian how sore I was and that I didn’t know what to do and he kept telling me the race wasn’t until Monday so it would be fine. I woke up just as sore on Friday. I also started looking at Boston weather forecasts. The temps looked ideal but it was supposed to rain. I actually don’t really mind the rain but it was saying the wind would be up to 20 mph from the East. That was very bad. Boston is a point to point course that runs pretty much West to East. I tried not to worry about it but I did. The Friday run was 4 miles in 8:11 and my legs did seem to feel better. I got packed and ready to go. 

Our flight left at 6 am on Saturday morning. We loaded up the car the night before, woke up at 4 am, got ready and were in the car by 4:30. Not bad considering that included dressing and loading up a 3 and 5 year old. The flights went pretty well with both kids and we ended up in Boston in the early afternoon. We took the T to the hotel, got checked in and set out for the expo. I wanted to get my bib and be done with everything so Sunday could be all resting up and relaxing. Our good travel behavior with the kids ran out on the way to the expo and Darwin melted down pretty bad. I didn’t even actually go to the expo. I just went to bib pick up and got out of there. The forecast got worse and worse every hour I looked at it. It was calling for 38 mph gusts! Brian assured me that this is measured at the airport which is right on the water so it would probably be better the further inland I was. I hoped he was right. The hourly forecasts said it would be in the 40s and raining but it would feel like the low 30s. That didn’t sound fun but I wasn’t worried about that. I ran 2 miles on Sunday morning. It was 50 degrees and windy. I ran from Cambridge across the Charles to Boston and back. I felt great! Even taking it easy, the first mile was pretty quick and I had to really hold back on the 2nd one. The soreness was finally gone. The overall pace was 7:56. I relaxed the rest of the day and even got a nap. The Boston Athletic Association sent out a warning email about the weather and suggested dressing warmly. Honestly, if you are wet, what does it matter? I had a sleeveless singlet and short shorts. I did bring gloves and I had a pair of sleeves so I figured I’d wear those. I didn’t have any pants to wear to the athletes village so I did go buy a cheap pair of those. I actually slept well but Darwin got in our bed around 5 am and I never got back to sleep. I got dressed and checked the weather. Yep. Still terrible. I wasn’t sure what to do goal wise. I knew that 3:15 probably wasn’t going to happen but I couldn’t give up all hope. I decided to go ahead and see how it felt at the race and just go from there. I had a pace bracelet for 3:15 and figured I could just add 5 or 10 seconds to each mile as needed. I like the bracelet because I try to run with an even effort meaning that each mile may be a different pace depending upon the topography of the race. has a huge database of marathon course elevation profiles and you can generate your custom bracelet based on your pacing strategy and goal. This way the bracelet doesn’t just help me keep pace, it lets me know when the hills are coming. I figured that would be handy even if I couldn’t keep up with goal pace so I took it. 

I rode the bus to Hopkinton with a girl I met from my suburb named Whitney. She was 2 corrals back from me. We didn’t even know each other when we signed up for Boston but I looked her up when I saw her on the entry list. She lives a little over a mile from me and we were able to do several training runs together. I was so glad to be able to ride to Hopkinton with her because that is a long ride to take alone when you are all keyed up with nerves.
Whitney and I freezing in the athletes village.

It started raining on the ride but stopped before we got there. The athletes village was freezing. We stood in the porta potty line forever and then found a little comfort in one of the tents. It was still cold but the wind was blocked. Before long, my corral got called and I was out of there. I kept my extra clothes on until just before I got in the corral. I took my pants off but kept my fleece hoodie. Once the corral was loaded we had a little under 10 minutes to wait. About then, the rain started. I couldn’t feel my feet at all. I considered starting the race in my fleece but when they moved us up to the start mat, I took it off. The rain on my bare neck and shoulders was torture. The gun went off and we started. Boston plummets downhill hard in the first 2 miles and is a net downhill until about mile 16. I had to really hold back to stay on pace. Besides being cold, I felt ok. The rain stopped or at least slowed down at some point and I felt ok around 5k. I was right on pace and felt relaxed. The rain started again and was sometimes just drizzle and sometimes a downpour. The wind was present and unpleasant but it was not the wall I had feared. At 10k, I was still easily on pace but I was getting colder. I’ve never had that happen in a race before. My teeth were chattering and I was uncomfortable. I was fine through 15k but I had some trouble opening the Gu packet at mile 10.
Still feeling ok at 15k.
With a lot of effort, I got it open with my teeth but I still had trouble actually squeezing it into my mouth. I was so cold that my hands weren’t working and even my forearms felt weak and useless. So useless I didn’t have the strength to squeeze a Gu packet. Before my mile 15 Gu, I was still on pace. My quads hurt and were stiff but I couldn’t tell if it was because of effort or cold. I saw a medical tent at some point and actually thought about quitting. I figured they had blankets and could get me to the finish line. I started fantasizing about warm baths and coffee. From mile 14 to 15 I squeezed my hands open and closed trying to warm them back up. I had done this on training runs in the past and it worked. No such luck today. I did manage to get the Gu open but I couldn’t get it into my mouth. Some of it went in, some of it went down my chin and a lot of it just stayed in the package. I got some water and decided I would try to make up for it by taking the packet offered at mile 17 by the volunteers. I had a similar experience there and got part of the Gu down my throat but it was not worth the trouble. At that point I was well into the Newton hills. Around mile 15, my arms started shaking so hard that I really couldn’t read my pace band anymore. I was on pace to that point and I knew mile 16 was supposed to be fast and then the climbs were slower. After Heartbreak HIll, I was supposed to drop down in the 7:15ish range. I didn’t take the bracelet off but I quit looking at it. No more Gu and no more pacing. I wasn’t giving up though because I was still doing good. I hurt so bad but it had little to do with the actual running. I did slow down for the hills but they weren’t that bad. I did feel myself tightening up though. I just really hoped that I wouldn’t cramp up in the downhill after Newton. There was one of the downhill sections between the Newton hills that was supposed to be quick but I didn’t really speed up for it. When Heartbreak came, I ran right up it and my time for that mile was 7:40 which was actually quicker than my pace band intended. I was able to speed up after that but not to the degree I had planned. At that point, I was overtaking people from the wave in front of me. Lots of people. Sometimes it was fun but other times it was obnoxious. On the hills, people would just start walking right in front of you and you’d have to dodge them. Same thing once I was in Boston. I almost plowed right into a couple of people because they abruptly stopped. Sometime around mile 20, I botched a water grab so bad that it went all over me and the volunteer. My dexterity was a joke at that point so I gave up water too. I put my head down and just ran for the finish line. The crowds were great despite the weather but I had my head down and was just thinking about running. The wind did start to suck and I had to reach up and tighten my hat because it almost blew off my head a couple of times. It also tore into you like a dagger. I already felt like I couldn’t get any colder and the wind made me feel like I was going to freeze solid. Before I knew it though, I was at the Citgo sign with 1 mile to go. The last mile in Boston flies by. Even in 2008 when I completely fell apart, that mile was over before I could blink. This time when I turned onto Boylston, the finish didn’t seem a lifetime away. It also wasn’t as crowded. I had a clear path and I could run. I could also see the 26 mile marker. I completely missed it in 2008. I ran for it and then ran to the line. The fact that it wasn’t my ideal goal was not even on my mind. That weather sucked, the course is hard regardless of conditions and it is freakin Boston! 3:16 is a 3 minute PR so I smashed my secondary goal of setting a personal best. They hadn’t switched to clock over from the 2nd wave yet so it said 3:40 something. When I stopped running, my legs tightened up so hard that I had a weird floating sensation. I felt very bad and I had a pretty long walk to get to the T. I was cold. Like I want to just scream cold. My teeth chattered so hard that my jaw got sore. They gave us our medal first and we had to walk what seemed like eternity to get a blanket. The blankets were nice. They had armholes, a hood and they velcroed shut. A volunteer very carefully helped me into mine and I love her for that. They handed us food. I was not hungry but knew I had a good trek back to the hotel and should eat something. Once again, my hands failed me. I couldn’t even peel a banana. I should have asked for help but I didn’t have the energy. The people in front of me were moving so slow and I felt like I would never get out of there. Once I hit Boston Common, a lot of people went into the park. I didn’t check any gear so I stayed on the sidewalk and made a beeline for the T. The wind ripped into me and I did my best to hold the blanket down over my legs. I saw the green line stop but didn’t see the first red line stop. I need the 2nd red line stop. I had a panicky moment where I thought I went the wrong way but I saw it on the other side of the street. My T pass was zipped into a pocket in the back of my singlet in a ziplock bag so it wouldn’t get wet. I kept wondering how I was going to get it out with my hands being worthless and all. I decided not to worry about it until I got down into the stop and out of the wind. I actually didn’t have much trouble going down the stairs. It didn’t feel good but I made it. A Boston police officer let me in without my card. I guess the T was free to marathoners. That was so great! I didn’t have to fumble with the card. I worried that in my post marathon fog, I would get confused about which line to take but I easily found my way to the outbound red line platform and the train mercifully arrived less than a minute after I did. Once I got on the T and sat down, I felt so much better. I was warm and I could rest. I only had 2 stops until our hotel and the stop was right in the courtyard of our hotel so I only had to walk a few feet to the elevator. I never got my room key out. It was in the ziplock baggie with my T card. I knocked on the door and Brian answered right away. I immediately cried a few tears in the most pathetic way and said something about how much that hurt. I got into the bath immediately and Brian, after giving me a hug and making fun of my stupid looking, yet functional race blanket asked what he could get me from Starbucks. I love him. I got in the bath and life got like 1000 time better almost instantly. With dry clothes and coffee, I felt like I would after any marathon except that my skin hurt. Everything felt sort of wind burned yet it didn’t actually appear to be chapped at all. I had so many messages of support and praise from friends, relatives and e-friends that it took a long time to get through them all. I felt really loved! I was also happy to see that I was my state’s top finishing female! Both of the local running stores back home had given me shout outs on their Facebook pages so that was cool. People I didn’t even know had liked and commented on the status updates! Nearly all of my local running friends PRed or ran right at PR pace. My friend Whitney had a 5 minute PR for a 3:29! In that weather and on such a punishing course, that is really something. I know how easy it is to have a bad race in Boston so it is amazing that at least one of us didn’t have a bad day. I’m still a little bitter about the weather but mostly because it ruined a lot of the experience for me. My overall feeling about the race is still negative but I’m hoping that will fade with time. Boston is magical and I had my head down willing myself to finish for a lot of that. There were a few moments out there that I did smile and think to myself how great it was to be there. I LOVE the Boston crowd. Love them. Thankfully, while my head was down and I was missing the sights, I could still hear. From Heartbreak all the way to Boylston, the crowds were insane. They were good before that too but it really got rowdy in Boston. I feel sore but not nearly as bad as I did in 2008. I’ve been up and down and in the car a lot today (the day after) and I’m getting around pretty well. I’ll try to run tomorrow and I’ll let you know how that goes. TIme to regroup and come up with a new focus and goal. I’ll let the dust settle on this one first though.
Me, Leo & the medal.

P.S. Brian, who actually wrote down “not run a marathon in 2015” as one of his goals this year, got bitten by the Boston bug and wants to go again! We may be back sooner rather than later. I feel done here though. I had a bad race and now a good one. I think doing it again would be pushing my luck. I will never say never though.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Week 11

Coming into this week I was excited to really get to scale down. Unfortunately, between the week end combination of a 10k and a 17 miler, my legs were tight and tired. I got it in my head that the Monday run was 6 miles and when I finally looked at the plan and saw 8 miles it was like someone kicked me in the gut. I tried to be positive and suck it up but my legs protested. I got it done though. The run included 10 strides and I just tried to relax for everything which ended up at 8:10 pace. Fair enough. I am tapering after all. I celebrated with a 20 minute yoga video. I’m determined to take care of myself these last few days of training and my tight legs needed to be loosened up. That night, Leo was fussy and ended up in our bed. In the middle of the night he woke up and puked all over Brian. I stayed home with him which meant I wouldn’t be able to run until Brian and Darwin got home which also meant I wouldn’t be able to make it to my usual Tuesday night yoga class. I pulled out another DVD and did 25 minutes of yoga while Leo napped. I set out for an 8 miler with 3 mile repeats at 5k pace around 5pm. It was 80 degrees. In my 3 mile warm up it became pretty clear that mile repeats were a bad idea. I went ahead and did one at 6:45 pace. That was all I could do. That isn’t even my 10k pace. That isn’t even my OLD 10k pace. With Boston less than 2 weeks away, I decided to just finish the mileage. I’m not worried about my speed. I’m PRing or near PRing at short distances. The speed is there. I squeezed in another 20 minutes of yoga for good measure. Since the Wednesday run was only 7 miles I got up at 5 am and ran it. I managed 8:18 pace with the legs still feeling tight and tired. Can’t complain though because NO WEDNESDAY MEDIUM LONG RUN! Seriously, those were the worst! Once again, I managed a 20 minute yoga DVD. It is my goal to get as much yoga as possible for the rest of the taper. I was up again at 5am on Thursday for a 5 miler. 8:21 pace this time. On my way to the power yoga class I like to do on Thursday night, we drove into a storm with hail, crazy wind and like no visibility. Traffic came to a complete halt so I turned into a neighborhood and went back home. Leo was with me and was very freaked out by the hail hitting the car. We made it home but it was quite an adventure. A huge tree fell and completely obstructed the road at one point. I drove on the sidewalk to get around it. The universe just really doesn’t want me at a yoga class this week! Oh well. I did manage a 20 minute yoga DVD when I got home. I took Friday off. On Saturday I did my last double digit run. I did the 13 miles at 7:58 pace and the legs felt ok. I always feel like my legs should feel amazing during the taper but they never do. Brian ran the 1500 at a college meet that afternoon and had a really good race. We then went to a get together at a friend’s house with lots of people that are also heading to Boston. Both of our boys ended up with their shirts off and ultimately, Leo ended up completely naked. It was fun. Before we had kids, I felt like I was a big part of our local running community and that I knew most everyone that was around. Brian has managed to stay ingrained but I’ve missed a lot and I feel like I know less and less people. I used to go to a race and know everyone at the starting line and I’ve really felt like a stranger lately. It was nice to get to know some of the newer crowd. Brian worked on Sunday so I had to wait until 5pm to do my run. It was only 5 miles but it was 80 degrees. I still managed 7:57 pace.

Next Week’s Plan:
M-Recovery 5mi am, 4mi pm
T-Recovery 5mi
W-Dress Rehearsal 7mi w/2mi@marathon race pace
R-General Aerobic + Speed 5mi w/6 x 100m strides
F-Recovery 4mi
S-Rest and fly to Boston!
S-Recovery 2mi

Just to give you an idea of the work that has gone into just this training cycle which officially began on 1/26/15, here are some stats.
  • 676 miles run up to this point (4/12/15)
  • 22 medium long runs completed (runs 10-15 miles long)
  • 18 books read
  • 13 hour long yoga sessions plus all the yoga I did at home
  • 12 lbs lost
  • 8 long runs completed (runs 16 miles or longer)
  • 4 races completed (2 5ks, 1 10k & 1 half marathon)
  • 2 PRs set (soon to be 3 hopefully)
  • 0 ice baths! Interestingly enough, I usually do several but I didn’t feel like absolute crap for any of this training and a lot of it was done in pretty cold conditions. Last thing I want to do after running a 20 miler in 30 degree temps is submerge myself into ice cold water for 15 minutes.
  • 0 massages! Again, a real testament to how well my body held up through this training.
I really have loved nearly every mile of this training. It was hard and some days were downright brutal (33 degrees with rain for 10 miles and sleet for the last 5) but it was so much better than any other marathon training I’ve ever done both physically and mentally. Even if I don’t get the outcome I want in Boston, I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve accomplished. Honestly, that 10k PR is one of my brightest running achievements to date and I’m not going to lie. I’m really, really proud of it. Goal wise, I’m just going to set two. The “if the universe cooperates and everything is perfect” goal is 3:15. The secondary goal is to PR which would mean faster than 3:19:16. I’m fine with either. I’ll be fine with neither too if that is the way it works out. Boston is a punishing course so we shall see but I have no reason to believe I won’t have a great race.

On the book front, I finished All the Light We Cannot See. It was haunting and wonderful but sad. I then read some much lighter chick lit. Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews. It was not really that good. I’ve just started Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. I’ve meant to read her stuff for a while but it is so popular that it is never available at the library. I’m only a few chapters in so no judgment yet.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Week 10 and Another PR!

This is the first week that I get to start tapering slightly. At 59 miles total, it wasn’t exactly easy but the scaling back was certainly welcome, especially on Wednesday.  Monday started with 6 miles with some strides. It was pretty warm but I was still able to do 7:53 pace without pushing it too hard. Tuesday was another hot one and it was 9 miles total with 5x600m intervals. It was a hard workout but it went well. I did the intervals at an average of 6:15 pace and the total run was 7:42 pace. My legs felt pretty tired on Wednesday but 11 miles is so much better than the 15 I’ve been doing so I just pressed on. The weather was better than it had been with some breeze and cloud cover. I did 8:03 pace which felt fine during the run but I was pretty spent and completely salt covered afterward. I got up early on Thursday morning to do my 5 mile recovery run. My legs were tired but not completely sluggish. Without the sun, it was cooler but it was in the mid 60s and pretty humid so not great. I did 8:11 pace and then rested up until Saturday morning which was the Capital City Classic 10k.

This is a fast flat race that has been around for something like 30 years. Most agree that it is a great course and perfect for a PR. I actually set my PR there, 41:44, in 2011. 10k is hard for me. It is a long way to run that hard and I get mental and physical fatigue around mile 4 in a good race and even earlier in a bad race. It’s one of those glass half full/half empty type things. If you feel good at the 5k point in a 10k, thinking about being half way done can sound great. It can also sound like torture if you aren’t doing too good. Most 10ks I’ve done end up in the glass half empty category. The Chile Pepper XC is an exception. I typically run faster there than we think I can even though it is XC. I believe it is because of the multi loop course which helps me break things down mentally and the XC spectator atmosphere which I just happen to love. These fast flat courses which are great in theory, tend to get monotonous to me and I just kinda give up around mile 3 or 4. I knew this was an opportunity to PR and I really wanted to capitalize on that for once.  I looked at recent race paces, used some race converting calculators and talked it over with Brian and came up with a realistic goal. I really wanted to try for 6:30s but Brian pointed out that I really shouldn’t be able to do 6:30 flat if I could only do 6:21 on a net downhill 5k. He is right of course. Hillrunner’s race conversion calculator (which doesn’t take into account course elevation) predicted a 41:04 based on my 19:42 5k from a couple of weeks ago. Usually, race conversions over estimate your ability if you are using a shorter race to predict a longer one. I find them to be helpful tools but they must be taken with a grain of salt of course. I often will set more than one goal for a race I really care about. I decided that my main goal was to PR which meant a pace faster than 6:43 but I also wanted to break 41 minutes if I was having a good day which meant at least 6:36 pace. Brian felt that I could do something in the 6:30s but probably on the higher end like 6:38 or 6:39. I decided that I’d go out at 6:40 for the first 2 miles and then try to drop to 6:35 for the next two and then try to do 6:30 for the final 2. This strategy would actually be pretty difficult and I didn’t expect to meet it exactly but I liked the idea of it to guide me. On Friday, I thought a lot about the race and knew that it would come down to me staying focused. I needed a mantra to get me through. In Lincoln, when all my joints were aching but I otherwise felt good and had perfect weather, I said to myself over and over again “If not today, when?”.  That really helped me seize the opportunity. The weather for the Capital City Classic was supposed to be perfect and here I was in great shape and poised for a PR. Overall, I decided to stay calm and keep the first miles relaxed and to remind myself what a 6:40 mile feels like on a training day which would likely be a lot harder than what I would feel on race day. I also decided to remind myself at mile 3 or 4, when things start to hurt, that I’d already done 3 or 4 miles at a fast pace and that it would be a waste and a shame to just throw those away. I got up at 5am on race day, had some coffee and a Cliff bar and then did some final strategizing. I got dressed and the whole family took off for the race. It is only about 15 minutes from here. I already had my chip so I didn’t need to register or pick anything up that morning. Brian wasn’t running but the boys were going to do a kids’ race after mine. I left him with the kids and hit the bathroom and then did an easy 2 mile warm up. After one more bathroom stop, I was ready to go. The race does a loop in the park and then goes out onto the roads so I saw Brian and the boys at the starting line and then again about ¾ of a mile into the race. I built up to the 6:40 pace I wanted slowly and felt good. (My Garmin went off a few feet before each mile marker so the splits I’m going to post are what my Garmin said while in reality, they were probably a few seconds slower.) The first and second miles both came in at 6:36. I was feeling good and had already passed all but the super fast females that I knew I wouldn’t be able to catch. I was racing my watch anyway. In mile 3, I started to pass lots of guys and I did try to speed up a little. The Garmin went off at 6:31 and I pressed on. I was just starting to feel a little tired but it wasn’t anything to worry about. I told myself that I felt tired because I was rockin it and to just keep going. The Garmin had me at 6:31 for mile 4. When I turned back onto the main road, I knew I’d have the wind at my back. It wasn’t a strong wind, but I had noticed it on my way out. I stayed focused and hit mile 5 in 6:28. It was starting to get hard at that point but it should be. I was pretty much alone but I could see a teenage guy in front of me so I worked on catching him. I came up to him at the entrance of the park which probably meant about ¾ of a mile to go. He stayed with me at first but I lost him on a tangent when the road curved. Why do people not run tangents? I really felt like I was slowing down and I did let myself ease up a little. I knew I would easily PR and I thought I could still break 41 so I told myself to take a little breather and then kick it in at 5.7 miles, which would mean about half a mile to go. I hit 5.7 and couldn’t quite muster the motivation to do anything big. I took the final curve and could see the finish. I finally found my kick and pushed. The clock came into view and it said something like 40:30. I watched the seconds tick by and at first I thought I had plenty of time but it is amazing how fast it goes when you don’t want it to! I crossed the line at 40:47. The Garmin had me at 6:26 for the last mile and 6:02 pace for the last .2. The official overall pace was 6:35! Even better was that I had a great race. I felt absolutely fine until mile 4 and didn’t really start hurting until well into mile 5 and I got faster as I went. This is a huge victory for me since I’ve had a little mental block at this distance. I shattered my old PR by 58 seconds! I cooled down for 2.8 miles and ran a total of 11 for the day. 
The boys at the starting line.

The boys both ran the kids’ race and did great. In the past, we’ve tried these runs and they have refused to wear the numbers and had to be carried for a lot of the race. They both did great this time. I ran with Darwin. His race was a little over half a mile. He ran the whole time. I could tell he was tired at the end but he pushed on and even kicked. I teared up several times watching him. There was just so much joy present and it was emotional for me to see him enjoy something that I love so much. Brian ran with Leo and said he did great too. His race was about a third of a mile and he apparently ran the entire distance too. 

Brian had to work Sunday and since it was Easter, we couldn’t find a baby sitter so I had to wait until he got off to do my last long run. He got home a little before 5pm and I set out. It was pleasantly cool-upper 50s and overcast with a breeze. My legs were certainly tired but I’m not sure if this run was harder physically or mentally. The very last long run done at 5pm on a Sunday? That’s just cruel. I threw a couple of hills in the middle of it just for good measure and ended up running 8:12 pace. The hardest part was finding something to eat afterward. It was too late to cook and all 3 Subways in our town were closed. Lame! I ended up with Taco Bell. Gross. Thankfully Starbucks was open.

Next Week’s Plan:
M-General Aerobic + Speed 8mi w/10 x 100m strides
T-VO2max 8mi w/3x1600m@5k race pace
W-General Aerobic + Speed 7mi w/10 x 100m strides 
R-Recovery 5mi 
S-Med Long Run 13mi 
S-Recovery 5mi

At 46 miles total there will be no way that I don’t notice the lessened work load. The mile repeats on Tuesday will be tough because they always are but that’s it, it is the last speedwork. I’m most excited about 7 miles on Wednesday. The least I’ve run on a Wednesday since January 28th is 11 miles. 7 will be amazing! Saturday will bring the last double digit run and then the real taper will start the next week. It is getting so close!

Reading wise I finished The Narrow Road to the Deep North which was long, boring and pretty depressing. This is the first book I’ve read in a long time that I really didn’t like at all. Now I’m reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I like the book but I am so over the WWII novels. Nothing against that particular genre or era but I’m burned out on it. I failed to read the synopsis of this book before I started it or I would have skipped it altogether simply because I can’t do anymore WWII stuff right now.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Week 9

This is the last hard week before the taper starts! I can’t believe it is done! This was the longest week with 70 miles total. On Monday, I had a two a day run with 6 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. In my usual 5 am fashion, I couldn’t really get going and did 8:20 pace overall for the 6 miler. It was hot for the 4 miler but I pushed the pace since it was so short. I did it in 7:51. Tuesday was supposed to be 11 miles with 6x1k at 5k pace. It was hot and sunny and my legs were still feeling a little jelloish from the 5k. I ran 3 miles and then went for it. I couldn’t ever really get down to 5k pace but I figured the effort is all that really matters. On the 4th one, things started to unravel. Half way through the 5th one, I had to throw in the towel. I wasn’t even sure I could finish out the 11 miles but I did. The overall pace was 7:34 so the run was still pretty good. This was the first workout that I wasn’t able to complete in this entire training cycle. I was a little disappointed but not really. I was mainly worried about the 15 miler the next day. The weather was supposed to be up near 80 degrees and sunny for the run. I knew it was going to be tough. When I got to work, I realized that my afternoon was free and even my 11:00 had cancelled. I got out of there as soon as I was done with my 10:00. It was overcast and breezy and I wanted to take advantage of that. It was hard. For the first time in this training, my legs just felt sluggish. I kept telling myself that this was it, no more mid week 15 milers. I did it in 8:18. Honestly, I was just slogging through so I’m pretty happy with that pace. That afternoon, the clouds cleared and it did end up being very hot and sunny. I would have had a really hard time in the heat so I’m glad I was able to take advantage of cloud cover. It was storming Thursday morning so I just got on the treadmill, set the speed at an easy pace and plowed through it. I did the 6 miles at 8:35 pace. I took Friday off and hoped the rest would bring my legs back to me. I decided to run with a couple of other local girls that are going to Boston. They typically run a little slower than I do but they were running a route that was flat for 7, had a big uphill and downhill in the middle and then another flat 7 to the finish. It was the perfect route and they were going at 5:30 in the morning. The thought of getting it over with so early was really appealing. Any worry about pace was overshadowed by this. Also, I’ve done all these runs pretty fast so I didn’t mind taking it easy for this last one. When we met up, the other two agreed to go 8:45 to 9:00 pace and I wasn’t sure what to do. I can’t run at that pace even if I just took it completely easy. It was pitch black and I didn’t want to just take off so I went out at a comfortable pace and just tried not to push the pace too hard. I also decided that I could take off for the last 6 or so if I felt ok. We all agreed that we would split up if we needed to and there would be no hurt feelings. We ended up going more in the 8:15-8:30 range for the first 13 or 14 miles. At 15 we stopped for a bathroom break and the pace had come down below 8:00. They encouraged me to take off so I did. I ended up staying in the 7:30 range for the last 5 and it felt surprisingly good. I had a little bit to walk once I was done. I could see the other girls once I got to the parking lot so I waited for them. They had done the last miles fast too and were really excited to have had such a great training run. I was happy they were happy because I was a bit worried I had pushed the pace too hard and someone would bonk. My overall pace ended up at 8:08 and I was really happy with the run and even happier to be done with 20 milers! Mentally, it was the easiest one of all. I had company and a nice easy pace for 15 miles and only had to really crack down for the last 5 which wasn’t hard to do. To finish the week I ran 8 miles at 8:05 pace on Sunday. I haven’t done a 70 mile week since 2008 and this one felt unexpectedly good. I’m still super glad to have it behind me. Now I get to slowly back off until the race.

I taper gradually so this week will be easier but it won’t be insignificant at 59 total miles. The plan looks like this:

M-General Aerobic + Speed 6mi w/6 x 100m strides
T-VO2max 9mi w/5x600m@5k race pace
W-Med Long Run 11mi
R-Recovery 5mi
S-CCC 10k 11mi total
S-Long Run 17mi

I’m most excited about the 6 miles on Monday and only having to do 11 on Wednesday instead of 15. I’m most worried about the 10k. The distance intimidates me and I’ve never felt very confident while running it. I usually lose focus around mile 4 and then just drag it in. My PR is 41:44 which I should be able to beat but it is hard to say what my legs will feel like. Sometimes the legs can feel weird at this point in marathon training so we will have to wait and see.

My official packet from Boston arrived this week. My number is 16680. I’m in the first corral in wave 3 so I’ll start at 10:50am. When I did Boston in 2008, there were only 2 waves and I was pretty far back in the second one. I was probably 2 or more miles in before I didn’t feel absolutely claustrophobic. I couldn’t even see where my feet were coming down and it was unsettling. I’m really hoping that being in the first corral will help with this. Also, Boston is a seeded start so the people in my corral ran a similar qualifying time. My qualifying time was 3:30 so 8:00 pace which is a lot slower than my goal pace so I’m hoping that will also help with the crowds since I’ll go out quite a bit faster than that. Of course, lots of people will go out too fast and there will also be people like me that can run faster than their qualifying time so I know I won’t be all alone but I’m hoping to have some breathing room. I have to admit that I’m also pretty excited to get to line up right on the start line at Boston. That will feel amazing!

Books wise, I didn’t set the world on fire this week. I ran my 20 miler and the 8 miler with people so I didn’t listen to anything. I did manage to read Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand and it was ok. I’m currently reading The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan and I’m having a hard time sticking with it. I’ve got several things on hold at the library that I’m hoping will come available soon. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Week 8 and a Race Recap

This week I got to scale back my mileage just a touch-63 total instead of the 66-68 I’ve been doing. Also, the tempo runs are done and the speed work had begun. Monday started out easy enough with 7 miles and some strides at 7:59 pace. Tuesday was a hot, windy day so I was a little worried about the 9 mile workout with 5x600 but it was fine. The wind, while challenging, did keep things cool and there was cloud cover for a lot of the run. I did the repeats at an average of 6:21 pace and the entire run was 7:32 pace. I felt like it was pretty successful! I was absolutely covered in salt afterward. Even my eyelids had salt on them. A cool front blew in and Wednesday had highs in the 50s and lots of rain. I ended up working half a day and was able to do my 15 miler before the worst of the rain hit. These 15 mile mid week runs are getting tougher and tougher. That’s just such a long run to do on a weeknight and coming after tempo runs or speed work the legs are always heavy. The first few miles were tough. Well, lets face it, all the miles were tough. I just put one foot in front of the other and got it done. The pace was 8:07 so I can’t be unhappy with it at all. I got up at 5 am on Thursday and did a 6 mile recovery run at 8:31 pace and then rested up on Friday to get ready for the Spring Fling 5k on Saturday.

I’ve done this race several times over the years. It’s not really one of my favorites but it is part of our Grand Prix Series so I end up doing it some years. It has rolling hills in the first two miles and then comes down a hill and ends on a track. Technically, it is a net downhill but it isn’t a very fast course really. I just missed breaking 20 minutes (I ran 20:00 exactly) at the Valentine’s Day 5k last month so I was hell bent on doing it now. Ideally, I wanted to go out in 6:25, do the second mile in 6:20 and then just go as fast as I could for mile 3. In my head, mile 3 was a plunging downhill but in reality, mile 3 has quite a bit of incline so my plan didn’t really happen. I started out pretty slow. My Garmin indicated 6:38 pace for the first quarter mile and I just hung out there while the crowd thinned. I used some down hill to pick it up and as I finished the first mile I was at 6:19 pace. I saw about 3 women not far in front of me and started locking down on them. I spent the first half of the second mile chasing them down and caught the last one around the 1.5 mile point. A girl that beats me all the time was about 10-15 seconds in front of me so I just tried to keep her in sight and slowly pull her in. I hit mile two at 6:12. The last mile was so tough. I knew that some downhill was coming but if felt like the incline would never end. My Garmin was showing 6:38 or so and frustrating the crap out of me so I pressed on and quit looking at it. Just before I plunged down the steep incline to the track, I took a look at I was at 6:25 pace. After that, I never looked again but I did end up with 6:25 for mile 3. The last tenth was sub 6:00 and my time was 19:42 which is exactly my PR. Interestingly enough, that is 6:21 pace which is what my intervals on Tuesday ended up averaging. This being a net downhill, it doesn’t count, but it is still exciting to be hovering around PR pace. It is especially exciting since that PR is pre kids and is over 6 years old. 

On Sunday I had an 18 miler. It was raining so I went out without my iPod which was too bad because I’ve been working on the 2nd Game of Thrones book for what feels like forever and I could have gotten through quite a bit of it. I took off with absolutely no course in mind and ended up doing a big hill around mile 4 and then a plunging downhill that got me to mile 5 and back to my house. The rain had stopped so I made a pit stop, grabbed my iPod and was able to finish the book while I ran. I felt pretty good considering I ran a fast race yesterday. I ended up doing the 18 miles in 7:59 pace, even with the big climb.

Still feeling good. Obviously no problems with sluggish legs as evidenced by the fast 5k. I started having some minor knee pain during the speed work on Tuesday. It just feels like runner’s knee type stuff. It was the worst on Thursday but felt fine by Saturday and I really didn’t feel it much at the race or during the long run. I’m definitely getting to that point in the training where the longer runs are a real mental struggle. Taking comfort in the fact that there aren’t many left has helped get me through them.

Next week’s plan:

M-Recovery 6mi am & 4mi pm
T-VO2max 11mi w/6x1000m@5k race pace
W-Med Long Run 15mi (LAST ONE!!!!)
R-Recovery 6mi
S-Long Run 20mi
S-General Aerobic 8mi

At 70 miles total, this is the highest mileage week, the peak of the training, the last 20 miler and the last week before the taper starts! I can’t believe I’m here already! Boston is less than one month away!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Week 7

No winter weather to deal with this week! There was quite a bit of rain but the temps were in the 50s or higher so no big deal. On Monday, I started out with an 8 mile run with some strides. It felt nice and comfortable and came in at 7:59 pace. Tuesday was the last and longest tempo run of this training cycle! Tempo runs are mentally very hard for me and I’ve had days where I worried about them all day long. This one was 12 miles total with 7 at tempo. I like to keep tempo at 15k to half marathon pace so 6:59-7:10. I didn’t feel great at the start of the run but I didn’t feel bad either. I did 3 miles to warm up and then got stated. The splits were 7:10, 7:03, 7:01, 7:04, 7:03, 6:55 and 7:03. 7:03 pace over all for the tempo section. I would have rather been just under 7:00 for all of it but I can’t complain about that effort. From here on out it is all speed work. I don’t love speed work but it is mentally easier than long sustained tempo runs so I’m glad to be past that part of the training. Wednesday brought temps over 70 degrees and lots of sun. I felt like I was melting on my 14 miler. 70 isn’t that warm, especially for someone that lives in the south but the extreme change was hard for me. The Wednesday before I was getting rained and sleeted on in 32 degree temps. It was also pretty windy for the 14 miler which wasn’t helping. I got through it in 8:06 pace so it wasn’t that bad. I was covered in salt afterward though and you’d have thought I ran in 90 degree temps. I got up at 5 am on Thursday for a 5 mile recovery run. I did it nice and slow at 8:26 pace. It was 50 something and lovely! After a rest day from running on Friday, I set out for 21 miles on Saturday. This is the longest training run I’ll do. It was drizzling and in the 50s. I actually kind of like that combination. The worst thing was lots of puddles as it has been raining pretty steady here for the last few days. I did a long loop all around my town with some hills but nothing too crazy. It was my birthday and I was a little checked out mentally. A couple of times I had to turn my ipod off and really think about what I was doing. I felt pretty good but I was kind of tired of being out there. I was happy with the effort though in the end. I did 8:08 pace which I think is plenty fast for a long run. At some point, it really is just about time on your feet and I certainly got that with this run as it was 2 hours and 50 minutes long! Brian had to work on Sunday so I got up early once again to do a 6 mile recovery run. It was tough. My legs didn’t want to get going and it was still dark when I left. My tummy wasn’t too happy with me either since I was pretty indulgent for my post long run/birthday dinner. I ended up with a pretty sluggish 8:36 but I'm not worried about it.
Post run/birthday hydration!
I’m feeling good. My aches and pains are minimal and my blisters are gone thanks to my Injingi socks. I was able to make it to yoga twice this week. Once for my usual power class on Thursday and then to a 2 hour yogathon on Friday with my two favorite instructors. I hadn’t seen one of them in a while and she commented that I was looking lean. This always makes you feel good but I’m especially glad to know that my hard work can be seen by someone other than me. I’ve done really well with my nutrition this training cycle and I’m hovering just a few lbs above my goal race weight for Boston.

Next week’s plan:

M-General Aerobic + Speed 7mi w/6 x 100m strides
T-VO2max 9mi w/5x600m@5k race pace
W-Med Long Run 15mi
R-Recovery 6mi
S-Spring Fling 5k 8mi total
S-Long Run 18mi

The mileage is 63 total so a little bit of a back off from the last few weeks. The week after this will be my highest in total mileage with 70 planned and then the taper will begin! Getting so close to being done! The Spring Fling 5k is a net downhill and not really a favorite of mine. The plan called for an 8k race. Those are hard to come by and the Spring Fling is a Grand Prix race so it will do.

Reading wise, I finished Looking for Alaska by John Green. I liked it. There is a great prank involving a male stripper that makes the entire book worth reading. I’m now on the second Game of Thrones book. These books are long. So.Very.Long. I do like them though so I’ll press on. I’m only about a third of the way done with it and I’ve been listening to it most of the week. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Week 6

This week brought the staple of all marathon training, the 20 miler! After the half marathon last Sunday, I was a little sore but not too bad. On Monday, the run was only 7 miles with some strides so I was happy about that. I actually felt good and ended up running 7:56 pace. Not bad. Tuesday was supposed to be 11 miles with 6 at tempo pace (15k-half marathon pace). The last 15k I ran was in 2011 but it was my PR. I ran it in 6:59 pace. The 7:11 pace for the Little Rock half is my half PR but I know I can do it faster. I assume these runs should be done sub 7:00. Since I had just done LR, I was worried about this run and figured that as long as I gave a good effort, the pace today wasn’t that important. I was still going for it though and arbitrarily assigned 7:15s as respectable. I used the first 3 miles to warm up and then took off for the tempo run. As it often is by the river, it was pretty windy. It was a cross wind which meant I’d never really get any help from it no matter what direction I was going. I felt pretty strong in the first mile which is usually my slowest and hardest mile. I did 7:12 which was fine. After that I did 7:07, 7:06, 7:03, 7:01 and 7:04 with a tempo average of just over 7:05. I would have been fine with this on any tempo run day but considering I just did a half marathon, I was really happy about it! On Wednesday, they were predicting more winter weather. It started raining in the early morning hours but the temperature was up in the 40s. I was supposed to drop through the day and eventually turn to freezing rain, then sleet and then snow. At first they said it would happen around noon but it kept getting pushed further back. We made some calls to our patients and everyone either cancelled or came in early. I was done seeing patients by noon and left work around 1:30. At that point, it was close to freezing and raining. I dressed as best you can for those conditions, prepared for life to suck for the next two hours and left the house for my 15 miler. Since it had been raining so long, parts of the trail were flooded so I had to stomp through some really cold pools of water that were ankle deep. By mile 8 I couldn’t feel my hands. I kept moving them around and they actually did warm up a bit before I was done. I was soaked to the skin though. Around mile 10 the rain turned to sleet. It was windy and the sleet bit into my already cold face. It hurt and felt like hundreds of pin pricks. I was about a mile from home so I decided just to head that way and finish the run on the treadmill. Once I got to turn out of the wind though, everything became bearable again. I took a different, longer route home and decided to tough it out. Once I got into one of the newer sections of my neighborhood, the road got really slick and I had to slow down and be careful. Once again, I decided to just get home and finish on the treadmill. When I got onto the older streets of my neighborhood, it wasn’t slick anymore and I passed my street at 12.25 miles and decided to keep going. I did another loop and ended up in the slick new neighborhood again but I wasn’t as discouraged since I now knew it was just that the newer pavement was slick and it would get better once I hit the older streets. Unfortunately, the sleet had been coming down long enough at that point that the old streets were nearly as slick as the new streets. The last mile back to my house was tough. I’m sure I was tired from the run anyway but the sliding was making it worse. When I got to my street, I needed  little more distance so I passed it and ran down the other side of my circle. It was getting slicker by the minute. By the time I had to run up the hill to my house, I was crawling. I got over into the grass but that was like running in sand. I managed 8:19 pace overall which I was more than fine with. It was a real adventure and at least I avoided the treadmill. When I walked into the house, I was soaking wet and my skin was so red. Brian looked at me and couldn’t help but laugh. I had left a towel by the door and stripped everything off right there to keep from tracking water everywhere. I took a warm bath. I was numb so I didn’t want to burn myself with a hot bath. After that, some warm clothes and hot apple cider, I felt tons better. The sleet turned into snow so I did my Thursday 5 mile recovery run on the treadmill at 8:24 pace. I took Friday off. Saturday Brian had a 2 mile race in a town about 20 minutes away so I had to wait to do my long run. This is actually good because I’ll probably get to run Boston no earlier than 10:30. A few weeks ago, the thought of doing my long run at any time other than first thing in the morning would have given me hives but I’ve done several long runs later in the day on this training cycle and I actually like it-especially since it is relevant this go around. Brian won his race so that was exciting! I couldn’t run from home because the snow on our trails was still pretty bad since they are mostly shaded. I decided to hit the river trail and go up Fort Roots Hill. Fort Roots is an old Army post that now happens to be the NLR VA hospital that I have worked at for the last 12 years. It sits atop a big hill and the back way up, Fort Roots Dr., is a mile long, switchback climb. I started at NLR side of the Big Dam Bridge and ran about 10 miles and then headed back on the trail. It was fairly clear but I did have several patches of slushy snow so I got a little adventure here and there. I headed up Fort Roots Hill after I turned around. It is shaded and so there were lots of patches of snow left. Luckily, the road is still closed to vehicles so I was able to safely run in the clearest parts of the road without worrying about getting hit by cars. At the top of the hill is the hospital gym so I was able to stop and get a drink and take a Gu. I did a lap around the campus and headed back to my car. It was all pretty uneventful and I did the 20 miles at 8:03 pace which was pretty good considering the big climb in the middle as well as having to slow down for various patches of snow and ice slush. The real challenge of the 20 miler is how you feel afterward. I always feel a bit beat up. My joints ache and various places on my body are sore. Predictably, my hamstring was pretty tight but the general rule after a really long run is not to stretch for about 24 hours as the muscles are so damaged that you can actually cause more harm than good. I would typically take an ice bath after a long run but this winter has been cold and I just straight up don’t feel like it. I soaked in a warm tub and did as much couch sitting as possible for the remainder of the day. On Sunday I was supposed to do an 8 miler with some strides. I really, really didn’t feel like running and the fact that it was “only” 8 miles wasn’t helping. It was supposed to rain so my running buddy went early to avoid it. I had to wait because Brian did an 18 miler. We also had to spring forward so getting up early wasn’t appealing to me. I lucked out and the rain never came. I had a hard time getting started on the run and first few miles were slow but once I warmed up and the strides started, it wasn’t so bad. I ended up doing 8:14 pace which was pretty good considering how slow the first couple of miles were.

I’m still feeling good. I don’t feel over trained at all so that is great. When I trained for Go!STL last year I was feeling very sluggish by this point. I did go to yoga once this week but the other class I would have gone to was cancelled because of the stupid snow. I have a 20 minute DVD that is actually really good so I need to do it when I have to miss class. Gah! Why is it so hard to do what is good for you?

Next week’s plan:
M-General Aerobic + Speed 8mi w/10 x 100m strides
T-Lactate Threshold 12mi w/7@ 15k to half marathon race pace
W-Med Long Run 14mi
R-Recovery 5mi
S-Long Run 21mi
S-Recovery 6mi

More of the same really. The tempo run will be the longest and the last of the training cycle but I’m not too worried about it since last week’s went so well. There was a time when I would worry about a tempo run the entire day before I did it. While they aren’t easy and I don’t love them, I glad they aren’t anxiety producing anymore.

I think I have the blisters under control. I was really getting frustrated not being able to run without pain bad enough to change my mechanics. That is a recipe for injury. The 2nd skin and blister pads were just making it manageable but not fixing the issue. The Little Rock half had me scared to death since I knew it was going to rain the whole time. I decided to try my old Injingi socks and see if that did the trick. If you aren’t familiar, these are the socks with individual toes in them.
They help by keeping your toes from rubbing against each other which really seems to be my problem. Even with the wet conditions at the half, my feet held up. I bought several pairs on Monday and I’ve run in nothing since then. Two of the three blisters on my foot are completely healed and the worst one is better everyday. I think this is the answer to my issues!

Books wise, I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. Loved it and I can see why it is a classic. I then read Paper Towns by John Green and started Looking for Alaska also by John Green. I like both of these. YA stuff that is entertaining and helps the miles pass.