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!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Philadelphia Marathon Training Week 11

Monday October 10
Elliptical 45 min
I decided it would be wise to take a day off from running after the Army Ten Miler so I went to the gym and hit up the elliptical instead.  Nothing exciting, but it was a good way to get my legs moving (and watch TV at the same time!).

Tuesday October 11
Run 4.7 miles
My legs felt pretty good after the race, though I could definitely feel that I had put in a hard effort.  I kept the pace easy for this run and passed on the track workout.

Wednesday October 12
Run 6.7 mi
This was another easy recovery run (and run commute).  My legs felt fine, though I definitely wasn't ready to try to push the pace at all.

Thursday October 13

Friday October 14
Run 6.7 mi with 5k tempo
I felt recovered from the race, but my legs proved otherwise when I started the tempo run.  The first mile was fine, and right on pace, but after that I slowed down.  It felt like I was getting slower each lap (only by a few seconds each time), though I'm not sure if that was actually the case for EVERY lap.  I just had no energy to push the pace.  So when I was told around mile 2 to shut it down after a 5k instead of 4 miles, I readily agreed.

Saturday October 15
Run 20.90 mi
I was a bit worried about how this run would go after I struggled at Friday's tempo run.  I also knew that no one else was running 20 and I would have to run a significant portion by myself.  Fortunately, my legs were fine and I brought along my iPod so the 11 solo miles weren't really all that bad.  I felt great the whole time and managed to finish with sub-10:00 mile average pace.  Definitely another confidence boosting long run.  It's hard to believe I only have one more 20!

Sunday October 16
Run 4.0 mi
A nice easy recovery run before I headed out to watch the disaster that was the Redskins v. Eagles games.  At least the run was a good experience!

Week 11 - 43 miles
Another good week of training.  I still find it hard to believe that I only have one more 20 miler and 5 weeks to go!  This has been such a great training cycle that I have a feeling I will almost be sad to have it end.  And I also predict a fair amount of taper crazies.  I'm glad I have a bit more time before I need to deal with that!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Four

1.  I went to the dentist yesterday and thankfully didn't have any cavities.  Unfortunately, despite having next to no cavities as a kid, over the last few years I seem to have had at least one almost every time that I have gone (and often several).  I'm doing everything I can (special toothpaste, flossing, fluoride rinse) and still they keep on coming.  I know some of it is likely genetic, but yesterday the hygienist also called out running!  More specifically, all those sugary snacks we all eat while running.  Although I wash them down with water, I can't deny that gels and gummy chews are likely coating my teeth with sugar during long runs.  On top of that, she pointed out that if I am breathing through my mouth, it dries up saliva, leaving sugar (and ultimately plaque) coated on my teeth.  So I guess I need to be brushing my teeth mid long run? ;)  Anyone else notice an increase in cavities since they've been running longer distances?

2. After easy days at the beginning of the week, I jumped back into hard workouts this morning with a tempo run.  And with 20 miles on the schedule tomorrow, marathon training is back in full force.  Although my legs felt pretty good after Sunday's race, this morning's workout was pretty rough.  My first mile was fine, but then I just kept getting slower each lap.  Nothing hurt, but I just had no energy to pick it up.  I'm hoping that my legs feel better tomorrow or it could be an extra long morning.  Of course, I always seem to have at least one horrible long run per training cycle, so maybe I'm due.

3. I'm thinking about signing up for a short race (5k or 8k) two weeks before Philly.  Anyone else in the DC area racing the weekend of November 5-6?   I'm considering the National Race to End Women's Cancer 8k but am open to other suggestions.  It would be much more fun if I wasn't racing alone!

4. I know that sometime soon I'm going to have to start thinking about pacing and goals for this marathon.  I had some vague goal ideas when I started this training cycle and those were put aside when I started training with CAR.  People have asked me occasionally over the last few weeks and I've more or less been deflecting the question.  I need to find that balance between overambitious and too conservative. With my recent improvements, I'm still not quite sure what the right "slow" start pace is right for me.  Fortunately I have a little over five weeks to work through this.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Army Ten Miler Race Report

I was excited (and nervous) about this race because I knew I had the potential to set a big PR, but also because I knew so many people running.  On Sunday morning my father was nice enough to drive a few friends, my mother and me to Pentagon City.  We then made the trek across the Pentagon parking lots to the start area on 110.  I knew this was going to be significantly longer than in previous years, but I was still surprised at how far we had to go.  Fortunately, none of us had anything to check because we never did see the bag check.  We had hoped to make a pre-race porty potta stop, but by the time we got to them it was already 7:40 and the lines were ridiculous.  There was no way that we would have been through the line in 20 minutes.  When we got to 110, my friends headed to their corral and my mom and I made our way towards the blue balloons. 

Since it had taken us so long to get there, we didn't have to wait all that long for the start.  The first wave started, we walked up towards the start line and after a few minutes we were off.

I had forgotten how crowded this race is at the start.  I spent the first mile weaving around as many people as I could and trying to settle into a groove.  The new course required us to run up an exit ramp from 110 which narrowed the road considerably and caused an even bigger bottleneck.  By the time I got to the first mile marker, my watch was already ahead.  Mile 1 - 8:41

I felt like the course opened up considerably after mile 1 and I was able to pick up the pace.  I tried not to pick things up too much as I historically tend to go a bit crazy in mile 2 (warmed up, not yet tired).  I slowed down a bit in mile 3 and I'm not sure exactly why.  The only thing I can think is that I had to negotiate the first water stop and there was a decent incline as we went up Virginia Avenue.  I knew my brother was going to be somewhere along this stretch so I distracted myself by looking for him, but somehow I still missed him.  Mile 2 & 3 - 8:18, 8:27

I can't remember any particular details about miles 4 and 5 so they must have been relatively uneventful.  I do remember feeling like the race was flying by when I got to mile 5 and realized that I was already halfway done.  Mile 4 & 5 - 8:12, 8:13

I got a huge energy boost once we got onto Independence Ave and there were tons of people cheering.  This was also the only section where the course doubled back so I scanned the runners coming back the other way to see if I could spot anyone I knew.  Sarah had said that she would be somewhere near 7th St. so I was also keeping an eye out for her.  Mile 6 - 8:11

Right after I passed the 10k timing pad marker, I saw a familiar face.  I had run into Chris, a CAR teammate, who has been my running partner for most track workouts and long runs.  I knew that we were starting in the same corral, but figured with 30,000 people there, we probably wouldn't see each other.  I think that this was a little boost that we both needed and we decided to stick together as long as possible.  Thus far the longest tempo run I have done on the track is 4 miles, so I figured that I was safe to start really trying to pick it up with four miles left.  So as we came back down Independence and headed towards 14th Street and the bridge, I started trying to speed up.  Miles 7 & 8 - 8:09, 8:02

I wanted to finish the race at a sub-8:00 pace and I was really hoping that I could hit that pace for the last two miles.  As we headed out onto the 14th St. bridge, I noticed how hot it was and started to feel tired.  I kept telling myself that I had less than 20 minutes to run (then less than 15, etc.) and could keep pushing it for that long.  Mile 9 - 8:00

Once I hit nine miles, I knew I had no more excuses to hold back and really had to see what I had left.  It was around this time that I pulled slightly ahead of Chris.  It was still pretty crowded so with all the weaving around people, we got separated.  With the new course layout, I wasn't sure how much I would have left to run after we took the exit ramp off the bridge.  I also knew that my watch was close to 0.2 miles ahead and that I would still have a fair amount to run after I heard it beep for 10 miles.  As I came through the Pentagon parking lot, I was disappointed to see that we had to go up another incline to go over a bridge/overpass.  I had thought that it was going to be flat to the finish.  Coming off the overpass I still couldn't see the finish line and I didn't want to start kicking in until I could see it.  Fortunately we finally came around a corner and I could see the line.  At this point I kind of felt like throwing up, but pushed it as hard as I could to the finish.  I was surprised at how many other people did not have this same strategy and I ended up weaving around people to the very end.  Mile 10 - 8:00, Extra 0.2 on my Garmin - 1:24 (6:39 pace)

Final Time - 1:23:33

I am very happy with how this race went.  I do think if it had been slightly cooler I probably could have gone faster, but all in all I ran the race that I wanted to run and executed the start slow finish fast strategy as well as I could have hoped.

And based on all of your comments on my race goals post, I know that you will be happy to hear that I finally beat my mother!  She ended up having a great race as well, taking 1:30 off her time from last year's race and finishing in 1:28.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Philadelphia Marathon Training Weeks 9 & 10

I didn't manage to post a recap last week, so here's what I've done for the last two weeks

Monday September 26
Run 5.26 mi
Nice easy recovery run to start off the week

Tuesday September 27
Run 5.95 mi
After staying up late on Monday night to see the Redskins lose to the Cowboys (sigh), I knew that there was no way I was making it to the morning track workout.  So this was my first evening interval workout.  I was a bit nervous about how my stomach would behave, but I was careful about what I ate all day and didn't have any issues.  While I will always prefer running in the morning, there was something fun about running around the track more or less in the dark.  This ended up being a strong workout.

Wednesday September 28
Run 8.15 mi
Since I was going away for the weekend, I tried to get in some "longish" runs mid-week.  After running the night before I couldn't quite get myself up early enough to fit in more than 8.

Thursday September 29
Run 8.5 mi
I left for a long weekend in New Orleans mid-morning and managed to squeeze in this run before having to head to the airport.

Friday September 30
Rest (and a lot of walking in the Garden District)

Saturday October 1
Run 4.65 mi (treadmill)
I fit in a quick treadmill run before we headed out for our last day of exploring New Orleans (including visits to the zoo and aquarium).


Sunday October 2

Monday October 3
Run 5.5 mi
I was looking forward to getting back to my regular running routine after my weekend out of town. It was good to start of the week with an easy Monday morning run.

Tuesday October 4
Run 6.5 mi
This was a good workout for me.  I think the cooler temperatures helped because I felt like I could have done another one at the end.  I managed to get progressively faster, so I was very happy with how I executed this workout.

Wednesday October 5
Run 6.25 mi
Run commute!

Thursday October 6
Run 4.25 mi
Normally Thursday is my day off, but since I knew I would be taking Saturday off, I opted for a short easy run instead.

Friday October 7
Run 5.2 mi
Since I was racing on Sunday, I skipped the Friday morning tempo workout and did an easy run commute instead.

Saturday October 8

Sunday October 9
Army 10 miler
I'm very happy with how this race went and I ended up with a new PR!  Full recap is coming.

Week 9 - 32.51 mi
Week 10 - 37.7 mi

It wasn't my preference to have two lower volume weeks in a row, but it just ended up that way with my vacation and the Army 10 miler falling on consecutive weekends.  I still managed to fit in some quality runs and am pleased with how these two weeks went.  I'm looking forward to getting back up to a higher volume again and really working hard these last few weeks.  I can't believe there are only 6 more weeks until Philly!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Army 10 Miler Goals

It seems surprising to me, but the Army 10 miler will be my first running race since early June!  Over the summer I focused on triathlons and running was put on the back burner.  I started back up with marathon training at the beginning of August and have been focused and working hard.  The last couple of weeks I have been feeling great and running well.  I started to get really excited about seeing how I could do in this race a few weeks ago and was counting down the days to this weekend.

Then this week arrived.  I was feeling abnormally stressed and bit cranky and I couldn't figure out why.  I finally realized at some point yesterday that this race is making me extremely nervous.  Although I have run plenty of distance races, I can't say that I have truly "raced" most of them.  There are still some nerves when you're not totally sure you can complete a distance, but, at least for me, not nearly as many as when I have a goal in mind.  Once I realized what was going on I tried to talk myself down off the stress ledge.  No one is putting pressure on me but myself, so I just need to go out there and run a smart race and see what happens. I'm feeling a bit calmer today, so hopefully I can stay this way through the weekend.

That being said, here are my goals for this race:

A - New PR (sub 1:28)
B - New course PR (sub 1:41)

I think I should have no problem beating my course PR from 2009.  I also ran this race in 2005 when it was detoured and ended up being over 11 miles.  At the time, that was the longest I had ever run and I distinctly remember thinking that I could easily tack on 2 more miles and run a half, but there was no way I could ever do a marathon and run over twice that far.  How times have changed. ;)  If I run the race according to plan, even if I stay at the same pace the whole time and can't speed up, I should have no problem achieving my A goal.  Of course, I know just as well as all of you that sometimes races don't go according to plan. And sometimes that easy pace you plan to start at just isn't so easy that day.  So if things fall apart early, I'm just going to do my best to enjoy the crowds, course, and experience.

Another fun note about this race - my mother is running it too and I have never beaten her in a race we have run together. At any distance. I believe at this point we have similar 10 mile PRs (and I may even have a faster 5k PR), but whenever we have been in the same race she has finished ahead of me.  She regularly places in her age group and probably will again on Sunday!  But we'll see if I can manage to sneak in ahead of her.  She says that she thinks I will based on our goal times, but I don't trust her.  She always seems to underestimate her abilities ahead of a race. ;)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

I had a sweet victory yesterday in the office NFL pool!

I know it's small but I couldn't figure out how to get a larger screenshot

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

September Recap

Miles: 168.32

X-Training: 3 (1 swim, 2 elliptical)

Rest Days: 6

Race(s): None. My first month of the year without a race. 

New gear: I got some CAR tops, so I am ready to race this weekend!

Workout goals: 
I didn't do very well this month with goals that weren't directly running related.

Focus on balancing workout intensity - This was one of my only successes. I started attending CAR workouts regularly and really focused on those hard workouts.  All of the running I did on my own was easy and at a recovery pace.  I tried using my HR monitor on the solo runs and slowed down when my HR went too high.

Injury prevention - I managed to take an ice bath after every weekend long run and I really think they are helping my legs recover faster.  I wasn't so great with the foam roller but have been diligent about stretching after almost every run.

Keep swimming - FAIL. I went once - on Labor Day.

Planks - FAIL. 0 planks.  It was almost as if once I realized I missed the first few days of the month, it didn't even seem worth it to start.

Non-workout goal: Work on the design of this blog. FAIL.  I did no work on the blog and barely managed to post.

Ice cream flavor of the month: Peach Cobbler

September was a good month for running and that's about it.  I had a lot of great workouts and strong long runs and am excited about my upcoming 10 miler, as well as the rest of marathon training.  I'm hoping that I can continue to carry this feeling all the way to the Philadelphia Marathon on November 20.  I really focused on running in September and it showed when I failed to meet any of the other goals I set for myself.  I should have known that as marathon training picked up, everything else would fall to the side. 

October Preview

Workout goals: 
After last month's goal fails, I'm going to keep it simple this month

Continue to push the pace in workouts - I'm still figuring out how to run track and tempo workouts and how much I can push myself and still finish strong.  I know I need to keep testing my limits during each workout.

Strong long runs - So far this training cycle I've had some great long runs and I'd like to keep that up in October as I tackle my remaining 2 20 milers.

Try again with the planks - Really, I should be able to do this
Races: Army 10 miler (October 9)

Non-workout goal: Work on the design of this blog. I'm going to try again with this one. I should be able to make some progress if I actually focus.