Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 in Pictures

Back at the track
Almost half PR on a long run

Four Courts Four Miler

Crystal City 5k

First triathlon!

Lots of time on the bike

Culpeper Sprint Tri

Centennial Lake swim

Morning run commutes

Army Ten Miler

Philadelphia Marathon

Still wearing shorts!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Eve Treadmill (Almost) Half Marathon

Well, I did it.  I completed my long run on the treadmill on Saturday afternoon.  Here are some thoughts from my Christmas Eve treadmill (almost) half marathon.
Minute 0 – This treadmill can’t be set for distance, only time?!?  And it maxes out at 60 minutes?
Minute 1 - How many channels are there? If TV package no longer includes Fox I may kill someone. Most likely myself
Minute 3 - FINALLY I found the game.  And the Redskins are losing.  Excellent.
Minute 10 - This isn’t so bad.  Why do I stay away from the treadmill?
Minute 12 - These announcers are horrible.
Minute 15 - I hate the treadmill.  Could time go by any slower? It’s going to be  LONG afternoon.
Minute 20 - I should probably bump up the pace here...or just wait until 30 minutes instead.
Minute 25 – These socks are making my legs really hot.  Why did I chose to test them out inside?
Minute 30 - Speeding up!
Minute 40 - Why does Honey Stinger make this package so hard to open?  It says “tear here” yet it seems to be impenetrable
Minute 42 - I’m really not going to get this open. 
Minute 44 - Ugh. That took long enough. Now I remember why I always pre-tear the packages.
Minute 45 - Fruit Smoothie flavor is quite nice.
Minute 52 - I really wish the treadmill wasn’t stopping in 8 minutes.  It’s going to be really hard to force myself to restart it.  Also, why is halftime so long?  This is boring, though that Cincinnati touchdown was pretty cool.
Minute 60 - 6.35 miles done. Cancel cool down, push lots of buttons, please restart faster!!!
Minute 61 - I have to do this all over again and then some.  Can I pick up the pace to fit in 6.8 miles in this hour?  Probably not…
Minute 70 - Oh man, that Adrian Peterson knee injury looked REALLY bad.
Minute 75 – I should really practice tweeting while running. That would be a good skill for Goofy. Except I probably am not coordinated enough for treadmill tweeting.
Minute 80 - Time for another snack!  And I guess I'll pick up the pace again.
Minute 84 - #$!#%!@%  Almost went flying off the back of the treadmill.  Totally distracted by that 67 yard run by Toby Gerhart.  Why can’t the Redskins tackle?
Minute 93 - How did the Redskins blow out the Giants last week and look so bad this week?
Minute 100 - I probably don’t really need to run 13.1 miles.  I mean is there really a reason to run a Christmas Eve half marathon? 1.1 miles won’t make or break Goofy...right?
Minute 101 - But a treadmill half marathon just sounds so much nicer.
Minute 105 - No, 13 is too far.  And completely unnecessary. What do I need to get to on this leg to get to 12? Running math is so hard…
Minute 110 - I can’t stay on this treadmill another 9+ minutes. I should be able to do anything for 10 minutes, but I just can’t.
Minute 111 – And…5.65 miles. I’m done. Unfortunately, it appears that the Redskins are too.  This was not one of my better ideas.  At least I don't have to do a long run on Monday now.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Running with the Redskins

With it being a holiday weekend, my schedule is a little crazy and the only options I have for fitting in my long run are Saturday afternoon or Monday morning.  I'm hoping to get in a short Christmas Day run, but I don't think there will be enough time for 13 miles.

Saturday afternoon also happens to be when the Redskins play the Vikings in a game that is likely to be bad in every way possible.  Yet as a dedicated fan (read - this is an addiction I can't break), I still want to watch.  So I started to think, is it possible to get in my run and follow the game?  I determined there are two options.  I can run outside while lugging my giant old school Walkman so I can listen to the game on the radio or I can run on the treadmill and watch the game on TV.  I am not exactly on friendly terms with the treadmill and haven't been on one since sometime last winter.  But maybe the game would be enough of a distraction for me to complete my longest treadmill run ever? 

Love of Redskins > Hate of treadmill?

Now I almost feel like I have to try it, just to see if I can.  If Michael Wardian can run a treadmill marathon during an Orioles game, I can manage to complete a half during a Redskins game. Right?

And besides, it will offer plenty of opportunities for the running version of drinking games.
Take a gu every time Rex Grossman throws an interception (at least I'll be well fueled?)
Shots of water every time the Redskins defense gives up a big play?
Increase the treadmill speed if the Vikings score?
What else?

Really, the possibilities are endless.  And I'm pretty sure yelling at the TV is an excellent way to make new gym friends.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Halfway to Goofy

Well, I'm halfway through my "intense" six week training program for Goofy and I'd say for that for the most part, things are going well.

Here was the plan:
During the week-Run 2-3 times
-Pool run at least 1 time
-Rest day
-If I only run 2 days then I'll throw in another pool run or elliptical session
December 3-4: 10 miles (DONE)
December 10-11: 13-14 miles
December 17-18: 16-18 miles
And here's what I've actually done:
November 28-December 4
Monday - Rest
Tuesday - Run 4.21 mi
Wednesday - Pool run 60 min/6 mi
Thursday - Rest
Friday - Elliptical 45 min
Saturday - Run 5.1 mi
Sunday - Run 10.25 mi

December 5-11
Monday - Run 4.1 mi
Tuesday - Pool run 70 min/7 mi
Wednesday - Run 4.1 mi
Thursday - Pool run 70 min/7 mi
Friday - Elliptical 45 min
Saturday - Rest
Sunday - Run 7.9 mi (with Lauren!)

December 12-18
Monday - Elliptical 45 min
Tuesday - Run 4.31 mi
Wednesday - Pool run 70 min/7 mi
Thursday - Run 5.15 mi
Friday - Rest
Saturday - Run 8 mi
Sunday - Run 17.35 mi, Swim 1000 yds

Other than the weekend of December 10-11, when I was planning on 13-14 miles and did just under 8, I've managed to stick to the plan.  And on that run my ankle was feeling somewhat cranky so it didn't seem worth it to tack on some extra miles by myself after Lauren and I had finished the trail loop.  I've decided not to push my legs with a 3rd run during the week so I've replaced that with either a 2nd pool run or an elliptical session.  All in all, I'm happy with what I've done and how well I've stuck to the plan, especially since there have been some days when my motivation was severely lacking.  I guess only time will tell if this was actually a good plan to follow!

Today my legs are a bit sore after my big running weekend, but I'm sure they'll be fine with some extra stretching and foam rolling.  Besides, with the races just under three weeks away, it's time to start my taper!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. In last week’s informal poll, the Incredibles were the clear winner for my Disney costume.  I’m going to head to the fabric store at some point this weekend and see what I can find to put together the "I logo" for my shirt and make myself an eye mask.  However, if I get there and find a nice dalmatian print, I may be switching to Cruella DeVille.  I ordered some red knee socks yesterday which will work with either costume. Of course after ordering them I noticed that the Incredibles wear tall black boots so I should probably wear black socks, but whatever, I’m going with it.

2. I’m still lacking the motivation I had during marathon training, but I’m still fitting in a workout almost every day. I’ve definitely found it harder to get up in the mornings, but on those days when I've stayed in bed, I’ve managed to rally myself and fit in a run after work. It’s definitely not my regular routine, but I know that at this point there’s not much I can do that will help or hurt my races at Disney (other than an injury). So I'm doing everything possible to avoid injury! I’m aiming for a long run of 16-18 miles this Sunday and I’m optimistic that it will go well.  Then again, if I stop at 14 or 15, it probably won’t matter all that much. I kind of like this "training" philosophy!
3. Despite the fact that I am not feeling highly motivated right now, I spent a fair amount of time last week on the Marathon Guide web site reading about late spring marathons. I think I finally have convinced myself that this is NOT a good idea (but feel free to tell me otherwise). Something like Eugene (April 29) would be too early and a race in late May/early June would mean that I was doing a lot of the longer runs by myself.  In order to set myself up for a strong 2012, I want to make sure that I take plenty of time off post-Goofy to recover and not rush getting back into serious training. 
I found out last week that I got in the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, so I’m thinking that race plus a late spring half seems like a much more reasonable and smart plan. I know I have the potential to crush my current half PR and I think it will be fun to spend the spring focusing on a bit more speed than marathon training allows.  That being said, I’m trying to remind myself that I should really wait until after Goofy is over (and I see how my body handles it), to actually commit to anything.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Peanut Butter Gu - Finally!

During our run on Sunday, Lauren and I had peanut butter gu for the first time!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What to Wear?

I think I'd like to wear a costume for at least one of the two Goofy races. With the main goal of the weekend (other than to finish) being to enjoy myself as much as possible, it seems like the perfect opportunity to have a little fun with my outfit. Unfortunately, I'm not super creative, though I'd like to try. So I'm looking for some help. What character(s) would you pick for a Disney race?  The only real guidelines I have set right now is that I need to be comfortable and chafe free (since both of these races are long enough that could be painful - particularly if it happens on day one!) and I don't want to be a princess.

Here are a few characters I'm considering:

Cruella Deville

One of the Incredibles

Robin Hood or Maid Marion

Someone from Alice in Wonderland (Alice, evil queen, Cheshire cat?)

I own a fair amount of running gear in red, white or black, which would make some of these easier than others. I went through a running skirt phase about two years ago so I have a black skirt and a pink skirt.  I'm assuming that temperatures will be in the 50s, though obviously I won't know for sure until the week before the race!

What would you suggest?

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Goofy Plan

With just five weeks to go until the Goofy Challenge, I've come up with a general schedule to hold myself accountable and get to race day in relatively decent shape.

During the week
-Run 2-3 times (one of these might be a CAR workout. Hills start on December 13, so that will work well)
-Pool run at least 1 time
-Rest day
-If I only run 2 days then I'll throw in another pool run or elliptical session

Run both days.

In the past I've typically used Sunday as a cross training recovery day.  Since I'm going to be running both days of the Goofy weekend, it seems like I might as well run both days over the next few weekends. My plan is to do a long run and a run in the 5-7 mile range, just to get my body used to that schedule. I'm going to try to do the longer of the two runs on Sunday since that's how the race is structured, but I already know that won't work with my schedule every weekend.  Here are my general goals for the long run:

December 3-4: 10 miles (DONE)
December 10-11: 13-14 miles
December 17-18: 16-18 miles
December 24-25: 14-15 miles
December 31-January 1: 10 miles

I'm not going to worry if the next month looks different from this, but I find that I do better with some type of structure.  So I'll more or less try to follow these guidelines and hopefully will get to Florida on January 6 ready to do a lot of running!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November Recap

Miles: 107.53

X-Training: 8 (4 pool runs, 2 elliptical, 2 stationary bike)

Rest Days: 8

Race(s): National Race to End Women's Cancer 8k (PR - 38:02) and the big one, the Philadelphia Marathon (PR - 4:01:23)!

Workout goals: 
Stay injury-free and sane during taper - Well, there were some crazy periods during taper (and some imaginary foot pain), but I got to the race injury-free so that's all that matters!

Crush the Philadelphia marathon - DONE! 39 minute PR. 

Non-workout goal: Wisely I didn't pick a goal for this month.  The marathon consumed all of my thoughts and energy.

Ice cream flavor of the month: Pumpkin (a repeat from last month, but it's just so good!)

The focus of November was getting to the Philadelphia Marathon ready to race and then running my heart out.  I ran an 8k as a tune up two weeks before the marathon and along with picking up a new PR, it showed me that I was right on track.  After a lot of thought, I finally decided I was going for sub 4:00 and shared that goal with the Internet.  Although I didn't quite get there, the marathon was a total success.  I showed myself that I can run faster than I ever thought I could and I know that I'm only just getting started. There is a lot of progress yet to be made!

December Preview

Workout goals:
Get in a few good long runs - I think this is the only crucial thing I need to do this month in order to be ready for Goofy.  I'm not concerned with time in either race, I just need to make sure that my legs are ready to cover the distance

Pool run at least once a week - Pool running is a good way for me to keep up my fitness and give my legs a bit of break as I recover from Philly/prep for Goofy

Stay motivated and mix things up when needed - I don't want to get stressed about what I need to do to be ready for Goofy.  So my plan is to give myself a break and throw in my cross training or rest days if I start to feel at all burned out or have any pre-injury twinges

Races: None on the schedule right now
Non-workout goal:  Get back to trying new recipes.  I've been slacking the last few months

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Philadelphia Marathon Photos

Just a few more Philly marathon photos (featuring Beth!)

 I have no idea when this was, but after 20 because I have my headphones on. Also, I look miserable

The final stretch. REALLY wanted to be done 

Beth is WAY more excited than I am at this point

Monday, November 28, 2011

Recovery and What's Next

I spent last week doing a whole lot of nothing and recovering from the Philadelphia Marathon.  In one of the better decisions I have ever made, I decided to take the whole week off from work, even though I would only be out of town Thursday and Friday.  It might be a Thanksgiving tradition I need to repeat, marathon or no marathon.
My quads were incredibly sore after the race.  I went to the gym on Monday and Tuesday to ride the stationary bike and hopefully get some of that lactic acid moving.  I also attempted to use my foam roller but that ended after about two minutes and lots of pain.  By Wednesday I was able to get on the elliptical for a short stint and and finally by Thursday I was able to walk down the two flights of stairs to exit my apartment without thinking about it.  Victory!  I had no turkey trot scheduled because I’d be in the car Thursday morning, but I think it would have been a generally bad idea if I’d been available.  I was in no shape to run.  I finally went for an easy run on Sunday morning and though I felt decent while I was out, it completely exhausted me and I spent the rest of the day on the couch.
I had planned for this to be a short recovery period with a quick return to running because my next big race is less than 6 weeks away.  And not just any race, the Goofy Challenge.  Obviously this “adventure” is not at all about time and just about finishing, so back when I registered in March (for both Philly and Goofy) I figured all I needed to do was maintain my fitness level during December and I’d be fine.  I had great success last fall doing the Baltimore and Rehoboth Beach marathons 8 weeks apart (a 15 minute PR at Rehoboth) and thought I might as well do something similar this year. 
Unfortunately, after Sunday’s semi-successful run, I felt less than motivated to jump back into a regular schedule this week.  Apparently I am much more motivated to train for a second race when the first one is a disaster.  Last year I couldn’t stop thinking about redeeming myself and proving that Baltimore was a fluke and jumped right back into training.  I also think that I came out of Baltimore with legs that were in pretty decent shape because of the large amount of walking that I did in the second half. 
Obviously the circumstances are different this year.  Philly was a highly successful race and it took a lot out of me.  It also was nowhere near the race I was planning back when I registered in April.  I was going to shoot for 4:30 and follow a training plan with a number of double long run weekends all fall.  I saw Philly more as a step along the way to Goofy instead of a goal race.  Obviously that all changed when I joined CAR, started regular speed work and decided to go for sub 4:00.  I don’t regret any of those decisions (AT ALL), but it makes for a bit more complicated “inter-race” period.
So, where do I go from here?  I’m hoping with another semi-recovery week this week, I’ll be excited to get going again next week.  And, if I’m not, I’m just going to force myself to get it done for the next five weeks.  It would be different if I was looking at full season or long training cycle, but since it's not, this seems to be the time to push through the lack of motivation.  I already plan to take most or all of January off after the races.  I purposely haven’t signed up for any spring races even though I’ve wanted to as friends have discussed spring plans.  As much as it kills me (hello, National Marathon or Half) I KNOW that those decisions are best made post-Goofy because I have no idea how I’m going to feel.  So there will be no pressure or reason to do anything until I am absolutely feeling motivated to do so.  This alone should get me through December. 

I’m also not planning on any super serious training.  Just enough to get me to the finish lines uninjured.  And, more importantly, with legs that can still walk around Disney World on Monday January 9.  I’ll share my tentative schedule once I’ve mapped it out, which will hopefully be sometime later this week or early next week.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Philadelphia Marathon Race Report

I felt like I had been waiting for this weekend, and race, for a long time!  After a last taper week filled with lots of resting and very little running, by Saturday morning I was ready to go.  Beth and I left around 9 and after a few detours and poor navigation on my part, we made it to the expo and met up with lots of fun people.  I was able to pick up my bib and (giant) race shirt quickly (dear race directors - offer XS or women's sizing please) and switch corrals easily.  We wandered around the expo for a bit, but no one was super impressed.  Afterwards we went our separate ways and I headed over to my friend Katie's apartment.  She was running her first marathon and conveniently lives just a few blocks from the start!

I didn't sleep all that well, but when the alarm went off on Sunday morning I was excited to finally run the race.  Fortunately I had no problems meeting up with Katie, Thom, Beth and Jon, and after checking our bags and hitting up the porta potties, we split up and Thom and I headed into the green corral, while Katie and Beth headed up to black to start the half marathon of awesomeness.  We got into the corral just a few minutes before 7:00, so we didn't have too long to wait before our wave walked up to the start.  Then, finally we were off!

Miles 1-3: 9:44, 9:29, 9:12
My plan for this race was to run the first 5 miles around 9:30 pace and then work on picking it up from there.  Thom and I focused on staying relaxed at the beginning and letting everyone around us take off.  I decided to carry a disposable water bottle so I could avoid the crowds at the early water stations and just toss it when I had emptied it.  I wanted to make sure that I drank enough in the first half and the disposable bottle ended up being a great decision.  Our third mile was a bit quick, but it did include a long downhill so I tried not to worry about it.

Miles 4-7: 9:18, 9:18, 9:14, 9:07
I knew the one thing that I didn't want to do was pick up the pace too much early, so I tried to make sure I was running comfortably and not pushing the pace.  Around mile 5 we turned onto Chestnut Street where the crowds started picking up and the support was great.  There was a bit of an incline, but I didn't feel like it was affecting me.  We hit the 10k at 58:02, which was a little faster than planned, but not by much.  In the first mile or two Thom and I discussed breaking the first 20 miles into 5 mile pace segments of 9:30, 9:15, 9:00 and 8:45.  We wanted to hit 20 miles around 3 hours (9 minute mile pace).  These miles were a bit ahead of that, but not by much.

Miles 8-10: 9:21, 9:34, 9:23
This section contained the bulk of the hills found on the course.  I knew that they were coming, but they were definitely bigger than I had expected (in particular the largest one right after mile 9).  The downhills were particularly steep, which I think took a toll on my quads that would come back to haunt me in the later miles.  I tried not to worry too much about pace in this section and just worked on staying controlled and steady.

Miles 11-13: 9:01, 8:45, 8:45
The steepest downhill on the course came after the 10 mile marker and took us back down to the river.  I was glad to know that the rest of the course was pretty flat.  Since Thom and I had discussed being right around 9:00 pace for miles 11-15, I conciously tried to pick up the pace once we were back on flat road.  Before the race I was concerned about getting too focused on my watch, so I avoided paying too much attention in this stretch. I just tried to increase my effort level a bit.  Unfortunately, somewhere around mile 12 Thom told me he needed to back off the pace a bit and we separated.  I had hoped that we would be able to stick together longer, but we each needed to run our own race so I forged ahead.  I figured I might see a number of people I knew around mile 13 so I had that to look forward to in this stretch.  Somehow I missed my friends, but did see George and managed to give him a thumbs up as I went by.  The race splits say I hit halfway at 2:00:08, but the timing mat was actually at the 13 mile marker, not 13.1.  So I imagine I actually hit halfway right at or under 2:01.  It's not that crucial, but it matters to me that I actually ran more or less even (or possibly slightly negative) splits.

Miles 14-17: 8:54, 8:40, 8:50
This was probably my favorite part of the race.  I had just gone through the half right on pace to break 4 hours and I was feeling so strong.  The course was heading out Kelly Drive which was pretty flat and the views were nice.  It reminded me of running on Hains Point, which I love.  My goal in this section was to just get to the turnaround point (right before mile 20) because then all I would have to do was run back.

Miles 18-20: 9:00, 9:08, 9:06
It was around mile 18 that things started to get painful.  Both of my quads started to hurt and I can only guess that the hills (and steep downhills) in miles 9-10 had really taken their toll.  Still, I was able to more or less maintain my pace so I figured I had no reason to be concerned.  I realized that I might not be able to hammer home the last 10k like I had hoped, but I knew that if I could hold pace, I would still be able to meet my sub 4:00 goal.  One of my friends was going to be somewhere in Manayunk and the thought of seeing her kept me going.  She ended up being right by mile 20 and I saw her on the way out to the turnaround and when I came back.

Miles 21-22: 8:49, 9:05
I had decided before the race that I would put in my music after mile 20.  When Thom and I split up earlier than planned, I thought about starting it earlier, but I'm glad I waited.  As you can see from my mile 21 time, initially it really helped me pick up the pace.  Coming out of Manayunk I was really starting to hurt.  I just kept telling myself that I had come to far to give up and to just keeping pushing and holding the same pace.  I knew that the last stretch was going to be really tough.

Miles 23-26.2: 9:30, 9:46, 10:11, 11:28 (for 1.2)
Mile 23 is where I really hit the wall.  I could feel myself slowing but there was nothing I could do about it.  I wanted to cry and I wanted to walk, but I knew I would never forgive myself for walking when I still had a shot at sub 4.  I only had my watch displaying my current lap pace, distance in that lap and overall average pace.  I knew that I was about 6 minutes behind the race clocks, so I had a general idea of my overall time, but I had avoided focusing on it during the race.  I could tell though as I passed miles 23 and 24 that my shot at 3:59 was slowly slipping away.  At mile 23 I calculated that I had roughly 30 minutes for the last 3.2.  Normally that would be reasonable, but I was slowing and didn't have the energy to pick up the pace.  When I passed the 25 mile marker I switched my Garmin display to show my overall time.  I was at 3:50.  I knew that realistically there was no way I was running the final 1.2 miles in 10 minutes.  But I knew I had to try to get as close as I could.  Beth jumped in with me somewhere right before mile 26 (I never saw the marker) and I was so angry and tired that I couldn't say anything.  I just needed to be done.

Since my Garmin distance had been off on most of the miles (and I missed the 26 sign), I couldn't be positive how much I had left until I could finally see the finish line.  Then I really tried to sprint in to the finish, though my legs really didn't have much kick left in them.

Final Time - 4:01:23

A 39 minute PR and I could not be more thrilled!  Yes, it would have been nice to break 4 hours but this race showed me that I have it in me and I have no doubt that I will get there next time.  I ran the smart race that I wanted to run and left it all out there on the course.  To be honest, while I knew that I should be able to run sub 4, I wasn't totally confident that I wouldn't run the first half on pace and then blow up in the second half.  I've never run close to that fast for that long.  I knew that I needed to trust the training and run and I'm so happy that I was able to do just that and not let my brain get in the way.

In some ways it still feels a bit surreal.  As recently as a few months ago this was not a time I thought I would ever get to and now I know that I can go even faster.  I can't wait for the next one!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Philadelphia Marathon Goals

 "Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great"
-Steve Prefontaine

I've thought about what I would say in this post for a long time, 16 weeks to be exact.  I started this training cycle with a pretty clear goal.  My current marathon PR is 4:40 and I wanted to break 4:30.  But as the weeks went by and I started running with CAR, it became obvious that I could go a lot faster.  The question was, how much faster?

I realized several weeks ago that my legs and fitness level were not going to be what held me back in this race, it was my mind.  It's hard to go from thinking that certain paces are faster than I will ever run to accepting that I can run said pace for 26.2 miles.  I have also blown up in a marathon that I started way too fast, so getting to a place where I view these new times as safe (even conservative) starting points has even more challenging.

I've been vague over the last few weeks when asked about my goals for this race.  I wasn't sure what I was comfortable shooting for and, on top of that, what I was willing to admit I was shooting for.  Did I want to admit to a goal time that I find intimidating and that will push me to my limit?  A goal that I wasn't even confident I could meet?  Or did I want to be more conservative and shoot for a large PR while still being slightly conservative and reducing my potential for crashing and burning in the final miles?

I've been lucky to train for this race with a great group of people, many of whom have expressed confidence in my abilities and potential long before I was willing to listen. Even after I stopped dismissing them as crazy and started seriously considered what I could do in this race, I still had a lot of doubts. It was not until this week that the "top secret goal" became MY goal. That is to say, it became my goal for this race. It's always been a long term goal of mine (one that often seemed like a pipe dream), but I never thought I would be chasing this time so soon.

While the time is obviously important, I am really more concerned with executing a strong, smart race.  To that end, I have a couple of goals for how I want to run.

1. Conservative start with a controlled but strong first half - My history is to start too fast in races because a pace feels comfortable at the time, even when it is faster than I planned.  If I blow up in this race it is not going to be because I started too fast, it will be because I went for it in the second half.  And I'm okay with that risk.  I'm going to push as hard as I can and not hold back.

2. Avoid focusing too much of time/pace/splits - After the initial miles when I want to be conservative, I know that my biggest mental challenge will avoiding freaking out when I see a pace on my watch that I think I shouldn't be running in a marathon.  I don't want my mind to stop my legs from running what they are capable of running.  So my plan is to "just run" as much as possible and only check my watch periodically.

3. Go for it in the second half, no regrets - As I said in the first point, if I struggle at the end of this race, I want it to be because gave it all I had in the second half.  I don't want to finish the race thinking that I have energy left or that I should have picked up the pace earlier.

And now for my time goals.

A - sub 4:00
Based on my training and my recent races, I think this is totally achievable in this race.  I'm not saying it will be easy, but if run the way I am capable of running, I can do this.

B - sub 4:15
The average pace for all three of my 20 milers was right around or under 9:50 pace.  This works out to a 4:17 marathon.  It would also be a 25 minute PR, which would make me very happy.

C - new PR
I'd like to think that even if I struggle in this race, I can still come in under 4:40 (10:40 pace).  I hope it doesn't come to this, but a PR is a PR.

So, there it is.  I've worked harder than I ever have this training cycle and I'm going to run harder than I ever have in a marathon on Sunday.  At this point all I have left to do is trust my training and run.

I won't lie and say that I don't have any doubts and that the pacing required for sub 4 doesn't scare me. This is why the quote at the top of this post really spoke to me when Emily shared it on Twitter yesterday.  I know I could run a good marathon and easily beat my current PR by a large margin.  But I won't know how great of a marathon I can run if I don't leave the safety of my comfort zone behind.  I might fail spectacularly, but I am going to give it everything I have.

I've signed up for updates to be posted to both Twitter and Facebook, so if you're interested you can follow along. I'm bib #12241 if you prefer to head directly to the Philadelphia Marathon web site.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

I'm not sure if it's going to be cold enough for me to need throwaway pants for standing around before the race on Sunday, but if it is, I'm prepared with these beauties I found on the clearance rack at Target.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


You may be hoping that I would post my goals for the Philadelphia marathon.  They're coming, I promise.  Instead of working on that post I have been thinking about future races.  Because, like a true running addict, I can't finish a marathon without knowing when my next fix is coming, I may have just registered for this:

Taking place on November 10, 2012.

Friends running and only $55?  Done.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Philadelphia Marathon Training - Week 15

Monday November 7
Run 4.25 mi
A nice easy (short) run to start off the week.

Tuesday November 8
Run 7.13 mi
I felt okay warming up but once this workout started I realized that I had a lot less energy than normal.  My legs just didn't want to move, which I'm sure was a result of Sunday's 8k.  I cut the workout a bit short (missed an 800) and called it a day.  I know that nothing I am doing this week is going to make or break my marathon in a positive way and I don't want to end up injured.

This was also the day that I first started feeling cranky (just in case anyone was making bets on that at home). I need my regular dose of endorphins!

Wednesday November 9
Run 4.33 mi
My last run commute this training cycle!  I was finally able to take the most direct route to work since I didn't need to fit in any extra miles. 

Thursday November 10

Friday November 11
Run 6.44 mi with 5k tempo
My legs were feeling much better than they had on Tuesday, so I was hoping to wrap up my tempo training with a strong 5k.  All went according to plan and I had my fastest 5k time this training cycle and one that was only 10 seconds off of my 5k PR.  It was also about two and a half minutes faster than my first tempo workout in September.  I'm very happy with how I have progressed in just under four months and what this means for the marathon.

Saturday November 12
Elliptical 40 min
After a super lazy morning spent tracking friends running Richmond (so inspired by all of the great races!), I decided to head to the gym for a bit just to get my legs moving.  This may be the easiest I have ever gone on the elliptical.

Sunday November 13
Run 8.09 mi
The last long(ish) run before Philadelphia!  I always love how by this point in training 8 miles seems like such a short run.  Being able to do most of my long runs with Thom has really made this training cycle so much more enjoyable and I'm glad we were able to meet up for this last one.

Week 15: 30.24 mi
Due to achy legs last week, I dropped my weekly mileage more quickly than I would have liked.  So rather than drop it again this week, I did a similar amount but didn't have supplemental miles in the pool.  The upcoming week will be super easy and I plan to show up in Philly on Sunday with legs that are ready to run!

Monday, November 7, 2011

National Race to End Women's Cancer 8k race report

On Sunday morning I ran the National Race to End Women's Cancer 8k.  I warmed up about two miles before checking my warm clothes and braving the elements in shorts, tank top and arm warmers. I was wearing a lot fewer clothes than most of the people there, so I got some interesting looks. It was the perfect outfit for the race, though I did get a bit chilly while waiting to start.  Definitely a good reminder to go pick up some throwaway clothes in the next week and a half before Philly! 

Since this was a charity race, I figured there would be a lot of people running more for the cause and less for time, so I tried to position myself pretty close to the front.
I'm somewhere on the left (Source)

I took off with the people around me when the race started. Remember that strategy of starting around 7:50 and working my way down? Didn't happen. About .25 into the race I looked down at my Garmin and saw 6:45. Oops! I immediately threw on the brakes knowing that it wasn't likely a sustainable pace for me. I'm sure some people would argue that I should have just gone with it and seen what happened, but I really didn't want to blow up halfway. As a result, a ton of people went flying past me, but it was definitely the right move. I hit the one mile marker right about the time my Garmin beeped, but as the number of turns increased, it got farther and farther ahead.
Mile 1 - 7:34 (7:40)
I left autolap on since it was a smaller race and I wasn't sure how well the miles would be marked. I've taken the "extra" time (27 sec) and evenly distributed it between the miles to get a general sense of my actual splits. That's the time in parenthesis. For the purpose of this experiment, I'm also ignoring the fact that this race was actually 4.97 miles and not 5.

Mile 2 included the only hill of the course as well as two hairpin turns as we went up towards Union Station, went up and back on 2 blocks of 1st street, turned around and headed back down 3rd St. and past the mall. This mile ended on a very nice downhill, hence the fastest split of the race.
Mile 2 - 7:25 (7:31)

There was a water stop just past the two mile marker that I skipped because I was focused on trying to maintain my pace and not slow down. Miles 3 & 4 blurred together for me. We went back towards L'Enfant Plaza and then did a long out and back on Independence (and hit the third hairpin turn). I distracted myself on Independence by counting the number of women ahead of me. I counted 15, which is definitely the closest I have ever been to the front of a race!  After Independence we got back on 3rd St and hit the mile 4 marker right before turning back onto Pennsylvania Ave.
Mile 3 - 7:35 (7:40)
Mile 4 - 7:31 (7:36)

It was then a straight shot back down Pennsylvania Ave to the finish, with a one block out and back on 11th St. (and the final hairpin turn).  Early on in this mile a woman went flying past me. I tried to keep up with her and in general I was hoping to have more left in the tank to drop the pace at this point, but I just didn't seem to have that next gear. I focused on staying as close to 7:30 pace as possible and keeping up with the men just ahead of me. When I came back onto to Pennsylvania Ave after the out and back on 11th (final hairpin turn!), there were only two blocks left and I was able to sprint in to the finish.
Mile 5 - 7:30 (7:35)

Final time - 38:02 (7:39 pace)
I was the 18th woman and 8th in my (10 year) age group.

I didn't exactly follow my own race plan, but I'm still very happy with how this race went.  I think that if I had started a bit slower, I probably would have been able to pick it up a bit more at the end.  But I certainly can't complain about the relatively even splits that I ran.  A good reminder, though, that I have to start the marathon at a reasonable pace.  Starting faster than planned doesn't have all that many consequences for 5 miles, but could be a real problem for 26.2.  It was a good race and left me feeling confident heading into the final two weeks of taper!

Philadelphia Marathon Training Week 14

Monday October 31
I felt really tired after 21 miles on Saturday and several hours standing and spectating the Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday so I decided to take Monday completely off.

Tuesday November 1
Run 8 mi
2x1200, 2x800, 2x400
Another good workout at the track.  I am a big fan of two repeats because there is no middle one!  The first and last are never that bad, it's always those ones in the middle that are mentally tough.  So 2x a bunch of different differences is ideal for me.

Wednesday November 2
Run 6.05 mi
An easy run commute

Thursday November 3
Run 6.0 mi
Since I took off Monday, I did an easy run instead of taking my normal Thursday rest day.

Friday November 4
Pool run 60 min/6 mi
My legs had been feeling a bit sore all week so rather than do an easy run for the third day in a row, I decided to pool run instead.

Saturday November 5

Sunday November 6
National Race to End Women's Cancer 8k + 4.6 mi of warm up and cool down
70 min/7 mi pool run
Sunday morning I ran in the National Race to End Women's Cancer 8k. I also convinced my mom and sister to sign up, so it was a family race day. A full race report is coming, but it went really well and I improved my (old, outdated) 8k PR by more than 10 minutes!  I warmed up about 2 miles before the race and cooled down for about 2.5.  Then later in the afternoon I headed to the pool for a nice, easy pool run.

Week 14: 29.6 mi (+13 mi pool running)
I was hoping for a few more land miles this week, but I think that my legs needed the break.  At this point in the game, avoiding injury is the main priority. It's still hard for me to believe that this race is now just two weeks away!

Friday, November 4, 2011

National Race to End Women's Cancer 8k goals

On Sunday I'll be racing an 8k.  I'm using this as a final tune up race before the Philadelphia marathon.  I've never really done tune up races before so I'm not sure how the results of this race should translate to marathon pacing.  I'll let someone smarter than me figure that out!

I've only ever run one other 8k and that was several years ago.  I don't remember a whole lot about the race, other than the fact that my goal was to finish with a sub 10:00 pace. I did manage to achieve that, just barely, with a time of 49 something.  I'm gunning for a rather large PR in Sunday's race.

In recent tempo runs I've been able to start around 7:50 pace and get slightly faster each mile.  I've only done four mile tempos on the track, but I think I should be able to follow this same strategy for the (almost) five miles of this race.  My plan is to stay controlled for the first three miles and see how fast I can go in the last two.

I have no specific time goals in mind.  I'm just looking to run a smart, strong race and see how much I can push myself at the end.  It will be fun to get out and race a shorter distance!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

I wore my marathon shoes for the first time yesterday.

17 days!!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October Recap

Miles: 168.71

X-Training: 4 (2 pool runs, 2 elliptical)

Rest Days: 7

Race(s): Army 10 miler - new 10 mile PR (1:23:33)!

New gear: Red arm sleeves (with pockets!) to wear in the marathon. :)

Workout goals:
I did well achieving my running goals, but not any others.  This really shouldn't come as a surprise to me after last month!

Continue to push the pace in workouts - I finally had that breakthrough I was hoping for mid-month and really dropped my times for both interval and tempo workouts.

Strong long runs - I continued my string of long run successes and both 20 milers went extremely well.  After 21 miles in cold rain, I feel prepared for whatever weather marathon day hands me!

Try again with the planks - Like September, this was a total failure. 

Non-workout goal: I was also planning to work on redesigning this blog.  Didn't even get started.

Ice cream flavor of the month: Pumpkin

October was a very good running month for me.  I ran a new 10 mile PR, had a lot of strong workouts at the track and two good 20 mile runs.  I feel confident heading into my taper and can't wait to run a marathon in 3 weeks!

November Preview

Workout goals:
November is marathon month, so I'm keeping my list of goals short and sweet.

Stay injury-free and sane during taper - Pretty self explanatory. I'm hoping to keep the taper crazies away as long as possible!

Crush the Philadelphia marathon - I know I have it in me to run a great marathon. And on November 20, I will!

Races: National Race to End Women's Cancer 8k (Nov. 6) and the Philadelphia marathon (Nov. 20)!!!

Non-workout goal: I'm not even going to attempt anything.  I know this month will be dominated by the marathon!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Philadelphia Marathon Training - Week 13

Monday October 24
Run 7.25 mi
A bonus Monday run commute!
Random bird at Hains Point

Tuesday October 25
Run 8.87 mi
This was another good workout at the track.  I had a pack to run with for the first four repeats and then did the last one by myself.  I had been relying on the others for pacing so I wasn't sure how the last one would go, but it ended up being the fastest of the five (despite the fact that I went way too fast the first 400).
Wednesday October 26
Run 7.3 mi
An extended run commute to pick up a few extra miles (with super dark photos. Sorry, it was early).

Thursday October 27

Friday October 28
Run 7.19 mi w/4 mi tempo
This was the first really cold morning we have had, so I finally broke out the capris and never managed to shed my long sleeve shirt.  But I love cold weather running so I had no complaints.  There was a smaller crowd at the workout due to MCM and other weekend races so I didn't have a nice pack to run with like the week before. I ended up running by myself for the majority of the tempo, but stayed steady and finished a second or two faster than the week before.  I'll was very happy with this since I had to do a lot more mental work this week and my legs had a lot more miles on them!
Saturday October 29
Run 21.0 mi
This was one of the most miserable runs I have ever had. Certainly probably the worst when it comes to weather related misery.  It was cold and raining the whole time. Because I was signed up to volunteer at MCM on Sunday, I didn't really have to option to push back the run.  Fortunately, Thom somehow still agreed to run with me.  We were both very unhappy the whole time, but I know I couldn't have finished it without him!  As soon as we finished I immediately changed out of all of my wet clothes in the car and was still freezing. When I started driving to brunch (where pumpkin pancakes and fun blogger/twitter friends were waiting!), I started shaking/shivering violently even though I had the heat on as high as it would go.  It took sitting inside for a while and several cups of coffee before I finally felt warm.  I don't know what Mother Nature will throw at me on November 20, but after this run I can say that I am prepared to run in any weather!

Sunday October 30
MCM volunteering & spectating + 60 min pool run
Fortunately the MCM runners had a great, though cold, day and didn't have to deal with Saturday's weather.  I started out handing out water at Key Bridge with some teammates and then spent several hours cheering near the finish line on 110.  It was a lot of fun, though my legs were pretty tired after standing for that long.  Later in the afternoon I did an easy 60 min pool run to loosen up my legs.

Week 13 - 51.61 mi
My very first 50 mile week!  I was very happy to finally reach this milestone in my last big week of training.  I had a very good week and am really looking forward to tapering (while not going too crazy) and racing in Philly!  My legs are definitely feeling the miles and all the standing from yesterday.  So I'm kicking off the first week of taper in the best way possible, with an extra rest day!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. I signed up for the National Race to End Women's Cancer on November 6, so I'll be racing an 8k in a little over a week.  I'm excited to see what I can do in a shorter race and am I'm hoping it will be a good tuneup for the marathon.

2. I realized on Tuesday that I could get to 50 miles for the week (for the first time ever!) without too much difficulty.  So, of course, I had to make it happen.  I only need to get in just under 7 miles tomorrow, which I normally do for tempo workouts, and I'll be at 30 miles before Saturday's last 20 miler.  When I mapped out my original training plan, which was discarded when I started with CAR, one of my goals was a 50 mile week.  So I'm pretty excited to get there!

3. Obviously I don't have any idea what the temperature will be for the marathon, but I've already started considering possible outfits.  I'm hoping it will be warm enough for a long sleeve tech shirt or a t-shirt and sleeves.  I ordered a bunch of arm sleeves to test out and they should be arriving today.  Main criteria - pockets for holding gels.  I'm hoping that I like one of them! 

Conveniently the temperature has decided to drop on Saturday (highs in the 40s), so it will be perfect for testing out my race outfit!  I have a feeling it will be just a little too cold on race day for shorts, so I'm glad I can get in a long run in my capris this weekend!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Just about two years ago I ran my first marathon.

Over that summer and fall of training I went from someone who ran (and didn't like it all that much) to a runner. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that it changed my life.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Philadelphia Marathon Training - Week 12

Monday October 17
Elliptical 45 min
A relatively easy cross training session to kick off the week.

Tuesday October 18
Run 5.1 mi (1600, 1200)
As I mentioned last week, I took a bit of a funny step towards my 20 mile long run.  I had noticed that my lower left leg/ankle felt a bit off over the weekend, but I was hopeful that it was nothing and would be fine.  I had no issues during the warmup or the first interval (1600), but it started to bother me during the second lap of the 1200.  When the pain persisted through the third lap, I decided it would not be wise for me to continue the workout. I did a brief warmdown and headed home to ice instead.

Wednesday October 19
Pool run - 60 min/6 mi
Instead of my normal Wednesday run commute, I went to the pool for 60 minutes of pool running.  I didn't want to take any chances that the soreness and pain in my left leg would turn into anything serious. 

Thursday October 20
I was already planning to take Thursday as a rest day, so I stuck with this plan to give my leg plenty of time to heal.

Friday October 21
Run 7.55 mi with 4 mi tempo
I wasn't sure what to expect, but planned to warm up and run the tempo if my leg felt fine.  Fortunately I had no pain or soreness during warmup.  I'm not sure if it was the cooler temperatures or the bit of extra rest, but I had my best tempo run to date by far.  It also helped that I was able to hang with the pack that is usually ahead of me, so I didn't have to do much thinking.  I just focused on staying with them and wasn't calculating lap splits like I normally do.  I felt great the whole time and I hope that I can carry that feeling into my last big week of training and the upcoming taper.

Saturday October 22
Run 14 mi
This was another good long run and I had a chance to run with Thom, my potential running partner for the Philadelphia marathon.  We started out at a relatively easy pace for the first half (which was a gradual uphill) and really picked it up once we turned around and headed back downhill to the start.

Sunday October 23
Run 5.1 mi
A nice easy recovery run on a beautiful fall morning.  Due to some poor planning on my part I finished by going up a giant hill, but it was still a pretty relaxed run.

Week 12 - 31.65 mi (+ 6 mi pool running)
I had already planned for this to be a recovery week, but my mileage was even lower than anticipated due to my leg issues early in the week.  I know that it won't make a difference in the long run and I'm glad that I took the extra rest now so that the soreness and pain didn't stick around.  I'm still feeling good and looking forward to working hard in week 13, my last big week before taper starts!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Five

1. After two days off from running, I headed back to the track this morning.  My plan was to see how my ankle/leg felt warming up and, if there were no issues, run the tempo.  Fortunately there was no pain whatsoever and I ended up with my best tempo to date.  Apparently my body likes cooler temperatures and a few extra days of rest!

2. I always get a bit worried when new shoe models come out at the end of the year.  I've definitely had bad experiences with updates (hello Asics 2150!).  Now is the time that the current model is cheap and I'm pretty tempted to buy out the Internet and hoard some 2160s.  I do have one pair that I bought at the Army Ten Miler expo that I'm going to start wearing in the next week or so, and that will be my marathon shoes.  So how many more is it reasonable to buy?  I know storing shoes for too long is probably not the best idea...

3. I signed up earlier this week to volunteer with some teammates at one of the Marine Corps Marathon water stations.  I've actually never handed out water at a race before and I'm pretty excited about it!  Though I'm a bit nervous that I'll mess up!  I know I sometimes get annoyed when I get to a volunteer just as they are going back to the table to get more cups.
4. The Philadelphia marathon is now less than a month away. That's complete crazy talk!  Where has this training cycle gone? 
5. I feel like I've seen a lot of talk about 2012 racing plans on blogs and Twitter this week.  I guess it's time for me to start doing some thinking. All I have on the schedule right now is the Goofy Challenge the first weekend of January. I know I'm going to want to take some time off after that, but maybe it's time to start planning for later in the year, at least in terms of marathons.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Slight change of plans

For the next few days there is going to be a lot of this:

And some of this:

It's really not anything serious (and it won't become anything serious! power of positive thinking), but I took a funny step with my left foot towards the end of my long run on Saturday and whatever tendon (ligament? muscle?) that runs up the inside of my leg from my ankle started to bother me during yesterday's track workout.  I'm hoping that by being extra cautious, I'll be back to normal very soon.

Funny observation that came out of my second ever time pool running this morning - I used to wear swimming shirts when I went running so that I people knew I wasn't a runner.  I was a swimmer who was cross training.  Now I wear running shirts to the pool.  How times have changed!