Philadelphia Marathon Training Week #11

Last week was my first peak week of this training cycle! And it was the most miles I’ve ever run in one week! And I ran a half-marathon! So many exclamation points!

I had been hoping to peak around 60 miles this training cycle, but I wasn’t going to force it if it didn’t feel feasible, or if it felt like I was pushing it too much. Like I said in my last update, recently I’ve started to really feel my fitness creeping in, so I thought I’d set the goal of 60 miles and see how it went. My long run this week was also going to be a hybrid 20-miler: 7 easy miles early in the morning, followed by the Denver Rock ’n’ Roll half marathon with the goal of running my hopeful marathon pace. Lots of big numbers, lots of good training, here’s how it all unfolded:

Monday: 9 miles

Tuesday: 8 miles + Core Power yoga

Wednesday: November Project workout + run to and from (6.5 miles total)

Killer NP workout, including bounding up big stairs and bunny hopping up little stairs. Also, I won the Positivity Award! It may or may not have sat next to my bed for the entire week…which may or may not have made me smile every time I went to bed and every time I woke up.

This is Alli Bell, who is the best, bestowing me with the Positivity Award via a stellar poem. It was all awesome.

This is Alli Bell, who is the best, bestowing me with the Positivity Award via a stellar poem. It was all awesome.

Thursday: 10 miles

This run was heaven. Perfect fall temperatures and a sunrise that stopped me dead in my tracks and made me wish I ran with my phone.

Friday: Core Power yoga

Yoga in the dark in the early morning was close to the most relaxing way to start a Friday. I’m really enjoying supplementing my running with yoga, and it definitely does not feel like a chore or a hassle at all.

Saturday: 6.5 miles easy

Sunday: 7 miles easy + Denver Rock ‘N Roll half-marathon in 1:43:17 (7:52 average pace)

I was a little apprehensive about how this whole crazy scheme would shake out. Doing this made me feel a little insane, but I’ve done this same “20 miler” scenario before and it ended up being the biggest confidence booster on the road to Eugene. Which is why I decided to schedule it for this Philly training cycle, and as you can see above – it worked out great, once again!

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I’ll write a full recap soon (promise), but essentially – this was as good as I could have hoped for in terms of how this race unfolded. My pace was spot on where I’d like to run at Philly, and it was on the back-end of a huge week, which gives me a lot of gusto for the added benefits tapering will provide. Not to mention this was hillier than Philly will be, and I’ll have sea-level on my side for the marathon as well. So, while I realize running 7 miles before a half-marathon seems positively wild (and it sort of is), I’ve really become a fan of it for marathon training. Not to mention running 13.1 miles of a 20 miler alongside thousands of people around your city is infinitely more entertaining than designing a route to run solo.

Total=60.1 miles

Really happy with last week, overall. It did, however, take it out of me a bit – as this week hasn’t exactly been top notch. But, my plan this week is to take it easier as a step-back, crank into high gear next week for my second and final peak week, then lock it in for a three week taper. Holy shit, I can’t believe tapering is only a week and half away! Scary. But, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Right now, I’m still focusing on keeping the balance of hard work and quality rest in harmonious equilibrium…and judging by the amount of sleeping in I’ve done this week, I’d say I’m doing a solid job.

On one final note from last week, Peyton is the best, and now it’s going to be hard for people to keep denying it. GO BRONCOS!

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509, adios Brett

Philadelphia Marathon Training Week #10

At some point last week, I realized that this has been perhaps the most diversified marathon training cycle I’ve gone through so far – and it’s entirely not on purpose. But I love it! Every week has been a little different, and I’ve hardly been bored over the past 10 weeks. Between the slow runs, the fast runs, the trail runs, the road runs, the runs with friends, the solo runs, and the Crohn’s runs (sorry…I had to…and jk, things are a-ok in that department!) things are feeling well-rounded and fun.

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Last week was a good example of this happy mix of running…here’s how it looked:

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: AM Core Power yoga, PM 6.5 mile trail run with Julia

Things got wild as we headed out after work for some miles on Green Mountain. Julia wanted to run some hills, and I tend to happily follow along with any adventure that involves being outside and running shoes. I figured this could be my speed work for the week too, considering running up a mountain at 6,000 ft elevation is basically equivalent to interval repeats. And oh baby…did this deliver. Here’s the elevation profile of the trails we ran:

Capture

That 800 feet in the first mile was seriously no joke. My lungs were burning practically the whole time, but the view and the cruise around on top was beyond worth it. An A+ Colorado evening.

Wednesday: November Project workout +run to/from, 5 miles total + 3 miles PM

By the end of the day on Wednesday, my quads were feeling royally brutalized by the steep decent we flew down the day before (see photo above). Needless to say, Adam and my evening jog was a struggle, but my legs did feel a little less robotic afterward.

Thursday: 9 miles easy + PM Core Power yoga

Still loving on the yoga, and managing 2x per week so far. It’s not extraordinary, but it’s something!

Friday: Rest

Unplanned but necessary rest day. I wanted my sore legs to feel fresh and ready for a weekend in the mountains!

Saturday: ~16 mile trail run in Steamboat Springs, CO

You know how everyone talks about getting uncomfortable and getting out of your comfort zone etc, etc? Well, this run about summed that up for me, although I naively didn’t really think it would going into it. Some November Project brethren had the brilliant idea to spend a weekend in beautiful Steamboat Springs, with activities including running and eating/drinking. A Fun Run “race” was planned with two separate courses laid out, a 16-miler and an 8-miler, and being the “in training marathoner” I am, I went with the 16-er group. Please note that everyone in this group was wearing trail shoes, hydration packs, and more than a few had finished 50+ mile races. And then there was me… with my tiny hand-held and Adidas Energy Boosts. Superb, ready to rock.

I felt supremely out of my element during the first few miles of this run. Not only was the altitude over 8,000 feet, but the course started on a climb which quickly reminded me that no, in fact, we don’t have hills in the big city (Denver). Not to mention I was attempting to keep up with trail runners who not only knew what they were doing, but they were all good at what they were doing. There were a few mild instances of fright, needless to say, as I heaved myself along in my very non-technical footwear.

But not too long into it, things started to click. I may not have been very fast or agile, but hot damn it was FUN. The dirt, the single track, the nice longgg descent we got along awesome switchbacks– it was all so enjoyable. And the scenery? You guys, this wasn’t even real life. I had to make sure I didn’t fall several times because I couldn’t stop looking around at all the yellow, red, orange, and green that blanketed the area. Fall to the max; it was perfect.

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This run wiped me out in all the right ways, and while it was a little nontraditional for a road marathon training run, I’m pretty sure that spending 3.5 hours on my feet running up and down in the mountains at 8,000 feet of altitude is pretty decent training.

Sunday: 6.5 miles

It took literally all of my strength the lace up and get out the door once we drove back from Steamboat at 6 PM, but I was wildly happy I did. I felt fantastic on this run; fresh, grateful, and just happy. Fall was/is whirling through Denver, and I’m trying to soak as much in as I can.

Total= 46 miles

This current week is one of my two peak weeks for this training cycle, and I kind of can’t believe I’m already at this point. I’ve been incredibly back and forth between thinking my marathon ambitions and goals are far-fetched, and feeling confident in my training. I’m still a little bipolar about it, and I don’t really know if I’m ever going to fully shake that tendency, but I did feel this week like fitness is really starting to creep up on me. I’ve been told that’s the way it’s supposed to happen, so I’m hoping that the momentum I’m starting to feel will escalate me through the next few weeks, just in time to lock it in and start tapering. Time will tell. In the mean time, I’m really enjoying the journey.

Representation of "enjoying the journey." Colorado mountain sunset with some seriously awesome friends.

Representation of “enjoying the journey.” Colorado mountain sunset with some seriously awesome friends.

Happy Friday everyone!

Philadelphia Marathon Training Weeks #8 and #9

Training! It’s been happening. Let’s recap before I forget all of it.

Hard to believe I’ve been marathon training for 9 weeks now. It feels like I’ve done nothing…but I suppose that’s not true. These next few weeks are going to include some hard workouts and high mileage before I taper down for three weeks. In a lot of ways I feel like I haven’t been doing the tough work I need/want to be doing, but when I look back I suppose things haven’t been too lackluster. There’s been progress, and I need to remember that.

Week #8 (9/22 – 9/28)

Monday: rest

Tuesday: 8 miles, or at least…this is what I think I did? Not a lot of recording happened this week

Wednesday: November Project workout (clovers) + run to and from, ~6.5 miles total

Advantage of shorty shorts: even the most height-deprived of us get to have the illusion of long legs

Advantage of shorty shorts: even the most height-deprived of us get to have the illusion of long legs

So. Hard. This is a workout that is always hard, but since the first time I did it…it’s become a little easier every time. Not today. Following my half-marathon the Sunday before, my legs were not happy during these 35 minutes of stair running.

Thursday: 9 miles

Friday: November Project workout + happy hour run, ~7 miles total

We played capture the flag for NP and it was SO fun. After work, some members reconvened for a little jogging followed by beers. Again, so fun.

Saturday: 6.5 miles, so slow

Sunday: 20 miles

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A friend is running the Denver Rock ‘n Roll full marathon in a few weeks and wanted to log her 20 mile run along the course. Julia and I joined her, and I’m still in shock at just how much better long runs are with friends. They go by so much faster, they’re so much less boring, and in a lot of ways I think they’re easier. This was a great run – my energy was high, my legs felt good, and it was followed by a great brunch.

Total= 57 miles, highest yet!

Week #9 (9/29 – 10/5)

Monday: rest

Tuesday: 9 miles + Core Power yoga class

Would you look at that…something new and exciting! After months of hating my gym and not lifting or really cross-training, it was time to do something that would help my running. Julia and I decided to try out a few yoga studios via newbie deals/Groupons and choose one we liked to stick with. This month is Core Power, and I’m digging it so far. A great combo of stretching, strength, and sweat, with just the right amount of “om” factored in.

Wednesday: November Project workout + run to/from, 6 miles total

High fives and hugs, natch

High fives and hugs, natch

Thursday: 9 miles w/ 5 mile tempo + 5 x 100 meter strides + Core Power yoga

I had very good intentions about doing 800s on this day, but when the track was pitch black my desire to be in the people-filled park changed my workout plan to a tempo run. Which, ultimately, is fine – as marathon training necessitates longer hard effort workouts rather than short intervals anyway, IMO. Anyway, I ran two laps of Wash Park (2.5 miles each) at a 7:30-7:40 pace, stopping twice briefly (once halfway through for a breather and once for a bathroom break…). Regardless, I was happy with the splits (avg. 7:35), although I wish this had felt a little easier. Finished off with some striders, which are always my favorite. More Core Power that night, more yoga love.

Friday: November Project workout + running pre and post, 7 miles total

Such a fun circuit, Friday NP workouts are the best!

Saturday: 14 miles w/ 8 miles at GMP

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I don’t really know what my goal marathon pace is yet, but as of late I’ve just been using my old goal pace for Eugene which was 7:50-8:00. That was my benchmark for when my speed was really clicking, so while it might be a little ambitious (/delusional) to use it as my default, I still find comfort in it. Anyway, I was in Portland for the weekend and didn’t want to spend 3 hours running super long, so I decided on a shorter long run with fast miles in the middle. Here’s what happened:

3 mile warm up, 8:09, 7:56, 7:43, 7:36, 7:41, 7:43, 7:28, 7:50, 3 mile cool down

Guess what? Running at sea level is the best. I ran almost solely on effort since I used a borrowed Garmin and couldn’t figure out how to change the display screen, which meant my paces didn’t show up until the end of each mile. Really pleased with this run; I felt controlled and it was just fun to run fast.

Sunday: ~5.5 miles of marathon “pacing”

I was so happy to get to watch my best friend Anna run her first marathon this weekend! Portland was my first marathon too, so being on the course from the other side brought back all kinds of happy memories. Anyway, we got to see her a handful of times in the first off, and then we plopped ourselves at mile 20 or so. Spectating is seriously so fun, especially when people have their names on their bibs like they do for PDX. Being at mile 20 was great too – because I always feel like that’s when I need a crowd booster.

SPOILER: she finished, like a boss.

SPOILER: she finished, like a boss.

Anyway, I hopped in with Anna (per her request) from miles 20-24, at which point she wanted to finish alone. In order to get back to the finish line to see her finish, I didn’t really have a choice but to run along the course until right around mile 26, where I scooted off. Want to feel like an asshole? Run past a bunch of marathoners when they’re on mile 24-26 on fresh legs that have only run a few miles. Seeing Anna finish was worth it though – she killed it, and there’s nothing like watching someone complete their first 26.2.

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Total = 50.5 miles

I was happy with training this past week, and I’m hoping to continue to see some fitness improvements over the next month before I have to taper! Here’s to the weeks ahead…

Happy Tuesday!

 

 

3 Races, 1 Recap (Deschutes 5k, ADT Half-Marathon, Equinox Half-Marathon)

AKA: I’m lazy and busy, sorry.

So I’m missing a couple of race reports. I ran a 5k in August and a half-marathon on Labor Day weekend. Each race should have received its own recap, but by the time I managed to surface from of all the work I had around that time, it was suddenly weeks later and I had other races to run/recap.

So here’s the deal:

Deschutes Brewery Twilight 5k: 22:06, 10th AG

I was mostly okay with this race. I’ve done a lot of self shit-talking about my speed in the last few months, and while it was nearly a minute off my PR, I was still content with a 7:07 average pace. But, at the same time, I’m still itching for a fast 5k…because I think it’s in me. While I knew this wouldn’t be “it,” I still wanted a little bit more. Oh well, next time. 5ks are hard.

American Discovery Trail Half-Marathon: 1:46:13, 8th overall female, 1st AG

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I ran this race as a training run and as a way to see my friend Julia finish her 6th marathon. It wasn’t a goal race, I went in with very tired legs, and I had little expectation time-wise. I did, however, want to practice a few things— which I deemed the three “p”s: patience, presence, and power. I wanted to be patient in the beginning with my pace, present (“in the mile”) during the long middle miles, and powerful in the final miles. I think I executed this “plan” well, as I felt incredibly consistent in my effort and pleased with my overall place.

Equinox Half-Marathon: 1:41:32, 5th AG

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As you can probably imagine, this was a little more encouraging. And this report will be a little longer than the first two, not because the time was more satisfying, but because it was 11 days ago so it is still fresher in my brain.

This is a relatively new race, but with a fast course profile, ideal seasonality, and beautiful scenery, it drew quite the crowd. Its price tag was a bit off-putting for a  small, non-RnR race, but I bit the bullet and registered anyway. I can’t resist a fall half-marathon. It was also an excuse for my family and me to check out some wedding-related spots in Ft. Collins, so we made a weekend out of it.

This was a point-to-point course, so we were bussed to the start line beforehand. I presumed this meant we’d be freezing for an hour ahead of time while waiting around, but when we arrived at the start area I was pleasantly surprised to see we could hang out inside a lodge until the start time. Score! Not to mention there were lots of porta-pottys and coffee available.

The start was a little anti-climactic, but what can you expect from a smaller race in its third year? It was obvious, however, that there were some FAST runners there to race, and whoa baby did they get out of sight quickly. My plan was to try and average around 7:50s or so, which I thought would be do-able considering there was a good amount of downhill to capitalize on.

The first few miles clicked off well. My hamstring and glute have been ridiculously tight lately, so I was a little concerned about running fast on them. Luckily though, it was a non-issue for almost all of the race. The first 4-5 miles felt smooth and controlled, and I had a decent amount of company for the most part. Around mile 3, something happened that has literally never happened once before in a race…my shoe came untied! More than a few profanities were uttered, as I had double-knotted both shoes immediately before the start. Oh well.

The middle miles felt a little tougher. My legs were tired, as once again I was quite un-tapered and on my 6th day of running in a row. But, I took advantage of the downhills when they came, kept my head in the mile, and enjoyed the feeling of running fast.

I logged a few miles in the 7:30s, which I was really happy about. Not once did I do the calculation of my finishing time, but I knew that if I could stick around 7:50s, I would finish in 1:42ish.

The end was a mini-battle, which I’m finding is pretty standard in half-marathons. The course started a gradual upward slope which never really stopped. I was getting hot, my legs were beat, and I really just wanted it to be over. But all the while, I still felt in control and mainly happy to be out racing. It didn’t take long for the finish area to come into view, and as always I was so happy to cross that line.

Here’s my splits, which I’m pretty proud of in terms of even pacing:

7:42, 7:45, 7:43, 7:43, 7:31, 7:37, 7:32, 7:35, 7:39, 7:42, 7:54, 7:55, 7:55, 7:15 (last .1)

Highlights of this race:

-My dad and stepsister road their bikes up the road to cheer us on, and seeing them around mile 8 was a definite high moment for me. My dad road alongside me for a bit, and it was a nice distraction to have him there. He also managed to catch me about half a mile from the finish line, and while I may not have been exactly interested in chatting at that point, it was nice to have him there 🙂

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I just realized that looks like a beer can. HA. Negative, it’s la croix. Beer came later.

-Pretty immediately after finishing, my dad and I got in the car and he drove up the course to where my stepmom was so I could run the rest of the race with her. She started the race with a big goal (sub-2), which I knew about, so I wanted to help in any way I could to help her get to the finish line satisfied. And oh man was it impressive, and a serious display of guts. She finished in 1:58, 11 minutes under her PR! Really fun to experience that with her, I was/am proud!

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-Feeling like myself again (mostly). Not that my running is entirely correlated to the time on the clock, but I am certainly a runner who is motivated by speed. More than that though, I felt strong and in control during this race— which is a feeling I haven’t had in a long time. After a lot of clamoring to get back to where I was this time last year, I’m finally feeling that I’m getting there, slowly, which makes my ambitions for Philly seem a little less daunting.

 

Philadelphia Marathon Training Week #7

Another week, come and gone.

We’re closing the summer-fall gap more and more everyday, and I have a feeling the leaves will be long gone before we know it. Trying to soak up all the yellow and red beauty while we can! Please check out Adam’s view on a Saturday climb of Pyramid Peak:

I can't make this up.

I can’t make this up.

So, still loving Colorado, more or less.

Training this last week was good. I opted for more intensity vs. high mileage, and it worked out well. I had a half marathon on Sunday that I certainly didn’t taper for, but I did schedule my training around it. The race went well, and it was a needed confidence booster. Here’s more of the details of my week:

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 6 x 800 (7 miles total)

Very pleased with this workout, especially given my apprehension going into it. I ran on a track (one million times better than on the roads or treadmill), but it was completely dark when I started, and I was the lone runner. It was at a high school so I felt reasonably safe, but the lack of daylight and company definitely added to the mental aspect of this workout. I was aiming for 3:25-3:30 per 800, and I was super happy with the results:

3:23, 3:21, 3:19, 3:22, 3:21, 3:20

Fastest 800s to date! I felt tired by the end for sure, but they all felt do-able. I told myself to run by feel and only check my pace on the 200s of each lap, which worked well. I did a slow 400 between each interval (and a few moments of stand-still heavy breathing). Definitely a repeat workout this cycle, probably two more times with added intervals. Oh, and around my fifth 800 the high school men’s XC team showed up to do their workout, so I did have some camaraderie :).

Wednesday: November Project workout + run to and from (~5 miles total)

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Thursday: 8 easy miles

A fantastic run, all around. Fall temperatures, easy breathing, happy legs. A+.

Friday: ~2 mile swim

Fine cross-training, I’ll partake in you. I really REALLY wanted to go to November Project this morning, but figured given the race on Sunday I ought to give my legs a breather.

…but then FOMO got to me too much, and I went to the evening “Run to Happy Hour” outing with NP friends. 3.5 easy miles followed by beer with some awesome people=worth it.

2-for-1 beers, yep.

2-for-1 beers, yep.

Saturday: 5 slow-as-mud miles

Sunday: 13.1 miles + 1 mile

I finished the Equinox Half Marathon in 1:41:31, and like I said…I was pretty darn happy. After a 1:49 and a 1:46 earlier this summer, I feel like I’m getting back to where I was before in terms of speed, and it feels good. I’ll post splits and such when I get my race report up.

I also ran in my stepmom for the last mile of her race, in which she had a HUGE PR of 1:58…11 minutes faster than her previous best! Insane, I’ve never heard of anyone taking that much time off a HM. Needless to say, it was very fun to run her in.

PR city!

PR city!

Total=42.5 miles

I was happy to get in two solid efforts last week, and I’ll be adding a little mileage this upcoming week. Alternating between mileage and intensity seems to be working for now, so I’m kind of basing my training around that configuration. You can look for my next marathon training bestseller due out next spring :).

Welcome to fall!

 

Philadelphia Marathon Training Week #6

Hello and happy Tuesday! I have a chance to recap my training last week closer to the beginning rather than the end of this week, so that’s progress. Let’s do it!

Week 6 was a tale of two very different modes; the beginning was slow, tired, and generally just blah. The end turned a corner though, and the last three days were A+ training. I was originally planning on following a very formulaic, pre-planned schedule for this cycle, but so far that hasn’t really worked out — and that’s totally okay. I’m mostly just letting things ebb and flow according to how I feel, and last week was a perfect example of how such a method is so helpful sometimes. I’m starting to realize that extra rest is sometimes more beneficial than a hard, fast workout — and in a lot of ways they’re both a means to the same end.

Here’s the nitty gritty:

M: Rest

T: 8 miles + lifting

Would you look at that, I finally got back to the weights. Adam and I forced ourselves to the overcrowded, post-work gym and followed a tough, major muscle group routine. And guess what happens when you don’t do more than push-ups and planks for 2 months then lift a whole lot? You’re sore for the entire week after. It was our intent to lift again on Thursday, but there would have been no point…we were hurting too badly. But it’s a start! I love lifting with Adam because he gets me to do lifts I ordinarily don’t do on my own.

W: November Project workout + run to/from (~6 miles)

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Imagine my horror when upon getting to NP, we were instructed to kick things off with “100 100s,” which is 100 push-ups and 100 leg-throw downs (read: ab destroyers) spread out over a few sets. After my night of muscle-shaking weight training, I was not psyched. But, I got it done, and I enjoyed the rest of the workout a lot (running interspersed with lunges, mountain climbers, and burpees (wait, I hated those…)). GO TO NOVEMBER PROJECT.

T: Rest, unplanned, but necessary

F: November Project workout + run to (8.75 miles total)

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Hills! This was an awesome workout, and it gave me a bit of a confidence boost. Essentially, for 35 minutes, we ran up and down a ~0.3 mile hill. I finished with about 4.5 miles total, which I was uber pleased about since my uphill running definitely leaves something to be desired. I ran the entire time with an ultrarunner, and I feel like the distraction/company helped me push the pace.

Also, you can’t really tell in the above photo, but I was wearing an ear-warmer, and most people showed up in down coats and leggings. Yep, 34 degrees on September 12. Colorado is weird.

S: Mt. Bierstadt! 7 miles roundtrip, 2,850 feet elevation gain

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I summited my 10th 14er of the summer with Julia, and it was fan-flipping-tastic. The weather was gorgeous, the trees were teetering perfectly between green and yellow, and we kicked some major mountain butt. 3.5 hours roundtrip, not including a lovely stop on the summit. I’m pretty sure half the people of Denver were on the mountain with us, but it didn’t really matter. So fun.

Twins, unplanned. Also, let's talk about Julia's legs for a second?! #fordays

Twins, unplanned! Also, let’s talk about Julia’s legs for a second. #fordays

S: 14 miles

A solid long run following last week’s disaster. 8:25-ish average, felt great the whole time, and got to see some new parts of Denver.

Total= 36.75 miles (running)

A nice little step back week, including a solid ending. I’m starting to feel a little more spring in my step than I have been, and I’m happy to remember what that’s like.

We finished off the week sweating it out at the Broncos game, and I mean that both very literally and very figuratively. But, they pulled through in the end, much unlike our NFC friends to the north who let Phil Rivers get away with an upset. I’m not naming names, but…LOL.

We are covered in sweat and without voices from yelling but also happy!

We are covered in sweat and without voices from yelling but also happy!

Have a stellar week!

Philadelphia Marathon Training Week #5

Hurrah! An opportunity to recap training!

You guys, this week has been insane. So much work. SO MUCH. But, it’s the kind of busy that I’ll always prefer over boredom, so I’ll take it. But seriously, I’ve been ready for Friday since approximately Tuesday at noon.

My favorite little lazy snuggle buddy. I would like to watch movies and sleep next to this nugget for three straight days please.

My favorite little lazy snuggle buddy. I would like to watch movies and sleep next to this nugget for three straight days please.

This week has also marked the first time this training cycle I’m feeling like I was hit by a bus. My whole body is sore, I can’t get enough sleep, and I’ve got a tickling throat and a relentless headache to boot. FUN! But, I’ve readjusted and made this a very-needed step back week. I’m not counting mileage, just resting more and focusing on recovery rather than build up.

But we’re not talking about this week, we’re talking about last week…the one that kicked me in the pants. I already recapped last Monday in the Week 4 recap, so let’s start with Tuesday. It’s not lost on me though that beginning the week with a half-marathon didn’t exactly launch me into a “rested” state for the remainder of the week.

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: November Project workout + run to/from (6.5 miles total)

Thursday: 9 miles + 18 holes of golf. Does that count as exercise? It felt like it, considering my appetite afterward and whining during.

Friday: November Project workout + run to/from (6 miles total)

Saturday: 7 miles easy

Sunday: 18 miles, mixed up between spectating some sweet 70.3 racing action.

Total for Tuesday-Sunday: 46.5

My long run felt like death last week, which always sucks. It was almost entirely self-inflicted, after running 4 days in a row prior. But, it was also wicked hot (we all know how I feel about that), exposed, and just long. Since I wanted to watch my friend Dan race his 70.3 that day, I organized the long run around the race location and fit miles between opportunities to see him. Great idea, except that, as the brilliant Julia pointed out, this meant that the time on my feet was actually much longer than the long run itself. I somehow managed to average around 8:30s for this run, which does give me some confidence that when conditions are better, my speeds will be somewhat decent.

How cute are Dan and Julia? I tag along with them in all their coupley-cuteness. Is that weird? Hopefully not.

How cute are Dan and Julia? I tag along with them in all their coupley-cuteness. Is that weird? Hopefully not.

Honestly, I was hoping to be gearing up a little bit more at this point in terms of key workouts and speed increases. But, sometimes stepping back for a week is all part of the gearing-up equation, and I’m hoping that by next week I’ll have a little more fight in my legs. I better, since I have a half-marathon next Sunday that I’m hoping to run fairly well at.

This post is so little, I’m sorry. At one point or another I’ll get a race recap up, but today is not that day.

Adios amigos!

Philadelphia Marathon Training Week #4

It’s hard to believe that I’ve already been marathon training for four weeks. Probably mostly because I haven’t been following an exact schedule, per say. I’ve mostly just been trying to run a lot, within reason, and get in some quality workouts when I can.My main priority whenever I’m marathon training has always been the long run, so that has been something I’m diligently doing, but otherwise things are a little loosey goosey. Which is fine, but I realized this week if I want to accomplish the big goals I’m hoping for, I need to buckle down and start doing more of the extra steps other than just logging miles. Primarily more lifting, more stretching, and more annoying-yet-necessary stabilization/injury prevention exercises. My occasional clam-shells while watching Jeopardy and one-minute planks after runs aren’t going to cut it on their own anymore. I don’t want to look back on this training cycle and say, “I should have done more of…”

I’m in control right now, and I want to do everything I can to set myself up for success.

That said, here’s how last week looked (which is now almost two weeks ago…). It was a little weird since I was running my long run, a half marathon, on Labor Day – therefore I’m including this past Monday in this week’s recap. A little confusing, but it’s how I strategized my week.

M: Rest

T: 8 miles

W: November Project workout, 8 miles total

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This November Project workout is done once a month, and it’s a butt-kicker. I realized ahead of time that by doing it, I was going to be slightly sabotaging my half-marathon, but that was part of the idea. I wanted to run the half on tired legs, and doing this workout would help do just that. I’ve done this workout now 5 times, and while it’s gotten a little easier every time – it’s still an awesome benchmark workout.

T: 9 miles

F: November Project workout (5 miles total) in the AM, 3 easy miles after work

We did the ice-bucket challenge in a fountain post-workout.

We did the ice-bucket challenge in a fountain post-workout.

S: ~2 mile swim

S: 6 mile hike in the mountains, continuing the theme of sabotaging the half…oh well

M: America the Beautiful 1/2 Marathon + 2 miles 

Race recap to come, but essentially this race was about what I could have hoped for. My legs were definitely tired going into it, but it was a solid and smooth effort, and I was happy with my pace consistency. I finished in just over 1:46 and 8th female overall.

Total: 46 miles

I was toasted in a good way after this week. It was a decent variety of things with the swimming, hiking, NP, and running. While I’d love to still be able to run an “easy” 1:40 half, it felt good to continue to push those times down closer to where they used to be. I’m running two more halfs during Philly training, and I’m looking forward to using them as long-run workouts. 

Otherwise, I’m hoping to log more workouts and “extras” in the upcoming weeks. Consider that an invitation to call me out if you keep seeing a lack of strength training in these recaps 🙂 There’s also some yoga Groupons floating around, so maybe I’ll actually get back into that habit one of these days.

Generally, I’m happy to be marathon training, happy it’s almost fall, and happy to be (slowly) making progress. I’m trying to take a lot of ownership over my training this time around in terms of not making excuses, but also in terms of staying intrinsically motivated. If I want it, I’m the one that needs to go out and do it, and there’s something really empowering about feeling so in control. I haven’t felt this way in a while, and it’s good to be back.

 

Playing Catch-Up: Fall Marathon Training, etc.

And suddenly it was almost September. Where has my blogging gone? There’s a handful of different posts I’ve been wanting to/meaning to write, but whenever there’s time available to write them, I’d rather be sleeping instead. Most hours of my days have been super full all summer – which is great – but again, I’m left with too much to say and no blog posts to show for it.

Life is hard, wah wah wah.

But hopefully there’s still a few of you out there that read, so I’m going to try and get down a few updates before I’ve lapped myself too much.

I’m training for a marathon, woo!

Training for Philadelphia officially started 3 weeks ago, and I’ve got 12 more weeks to get myself in fighting shape. My plan this time around is to get uncomfortable; actually do the workouts that I’m always scared to do instead of mindlessly clicking off junk miles. I’ve got a longgg way to go before my body and mind are in the spot I want them to be on November 23, but luckily I’ve got both time and decreasing temperatures on my side. In the meantime, I’m really happy with the base I’ve got, and provided I stay smart and stay hungry (figuratively of course..I’m always hungry literally), I think I have a decent shot at making good progress over the next three months.

The “plan” I’ve developed for myself is basically made up, with a little help from the Advanced Marathon Training schedule, which is what I used for Eugene. While I’d like to be the kind of person who can follow a by-the-book plan, it’s more important to me to keep certain things (like November Project) as a part of my routine. My schedule is focused on a key workout per week (unless it’s an off week), a long run, and overall mileage. I’d really like to peak around 60 miles per week, maybe a little higher, this time around— which I’m guessing shouldn’t be too hard since I’ve been around ~45 all summer. But generally I’m just listening to my legs and trying to ignore my head when it yells negative and discouraging thoughts at me. Admittedly the goals I have for this race are high, and it’s going to take a lot of umph to get there. I’m counting on fall weather, friends, and faith in myself to make it happen.

And because I need to write this down somewhere or it’s never getting in my spreadsheet (ha), here’s how training has gone so far:

Week 1

M: 8 miles w/ 5×100 meter strides

T: Rest

W: November Project workout + run to and from (~7 miles total)

T: 9 miles w/ 5 miles @7:30

F: Quandry Peak climb!

S: 5 trail miles

S: 14 heavenly miles @ 8:05 average <- best long run pace in a long time

Total: 43 miles

14er number 9 of the summer!

14er number 9 of the summer!

Week 2

M: 5 trail miles

T: 8 miles

W: Rest

T: 9 miles total, 3 in the morning, 5k race (22:00), 3 miles warm up/cool down

F: 7 trail miles (Smith Rock!)

S: 16 trail miles of perfection

S: ~3 miles

Total: 48 miles

Smith Rock is running heaven.

Smith Rock is running heaven.

Week 3

M: 7.5 miles

T: Rest

W: November Project workout + run to and from (6.5 miles total)

T: 8 miles total, 3 mile tempo @ 7:15 + 5 hill repeats

F: November Project workout + run to and from (9 miles total)

S: 6 miles

S: 14 miles

Total: 51 miles

Generally, I’m feeling pretty good. Despite my lack of strength training of any kind and not much cross training (oops…), I’m pleased with how things are going so far. Mileage wise, my legs are very comfortable here, which gives me confidence for gaining some momentum before too long. Once the weather stops being so perfect I suppose I’ll get back in the pool/gym, but for now I’m trying to integrate as much at-home strengthening gimmicks as I can…which isn’t much, but it’s something. Luckily, my twice weekly November Project attendance has done remarkable things to the strength (and size…) of my booty, which is where a lot of my running problems have stemmed from. The camaraderie also does remarkable things for my soul, but we’ll talk about NP another day. Overall, I have no doubt that keeping it in my schedule is not only helpful, but necessary.

Let’s see… what else? I ran a 5k for the first time in a year and a half (which you can see up there). I’ll recap probably in my next post, which needs to be followed by a post about the setting in which I ran said 5k: Bend, Oregon. I went to Bird Camp! Specifically, running summer camp for Oiselle runners that was all kinds of fun.

River soak post 16 trail miles. Bliss!

River soak post 16 trail miles. Bliss!

Oh, also, I’m running a half marathon this upcoming Monday, so I suppose I’ll need to work that in somewhere too. So you see, lots to talk about over here, and I’ll do my best to get it up. In the meantime, I’m really going to try and commit to weekly training recaps since they help me actually log the sweating that I do.

 

Thanks for sticking with me friends, happy fall race training to you!

 

Ragnar Ultra Relay Northwest Passage Race Recap

Holy Moses I need to get this post up!

It’s been two weeks since all the epicness of Ragnar Northwest Passage commenced, and I need to nail down my recap before it all falls out of my brain.

I did this same relay last year with this same* team, and although I knew a bit more about what to expect, I was still apprehensive about how 35+ miles of running in 30 hours was going to feel.

*our team name and three of the team members were the same…there were also three new peeps!

Regardless of my nerves, I was so excited to be in Washington with some awesome running friends and to be doing what I love. I was also lined up to be the first runner in the relay, which I was ecstatic about. In the two ultra-style relays I’ve done, I’ve always been the last runner which is a giant mental battle to deal with on top of the physical challenges. Needless to say, I was carrying a “one and done” attitude with me.

Our Team: Six Pack with Racks

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Here’s the quick-and-dirty of who comprised our small team of 6…in runner order!

Runner #1: Me, boring.

Runner #2: Lauren —the incredible captain behind the whole operation. Lauren ensured everything ran smoothly and tackled some high mileage herself.

Runner #3: Marilyn — the “relay rookie” who dominated basically the entire time. She had lots of miles and ran them all with a smile on her face.

Runner #4: Jordanne — the “underdog” who hedged her running abilities before we even started, and then managed to kill all her runs and made us all laugh the whole time.

Runner #5: Nicole — the comeback kid. Poor girl had some bad stomach problems early on, but by her last run was proclaiming her love for running and dancing with animals, literally.

Runner #6: Bethany — the closer. Bethany took my spot from last year as the 6th runner, and she proved to be incredibly resilient and determined as she tackled some tough and long-awaited legs.

Driver: Travis! Having a driver this year was huge, and we were all in awe the entire time of how patient and easy-going Travis was. Thanks for loaning your husband as our chauffeur, Marilyn!

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Leg 1

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I kicked off our race at 9 am with a 13.1 mile run starting in Blaine, WA, which is right on the border of Canada. I was excited about this leg, but I also knew it had the potential to take a lot out of me for the rest of the race — so I decided to just take it easy and enjoy the running.

I loved starting at the actual start line of Ragnar, and everyone’s energy was on fire as we made our way out of the shoot. I quickly fell into step with another ultra team runner (number 129 in the photo above!), and we starting chatting away about our teams, our relay experiences, and everything under the sun. The two of us stayed together for NINE miles, talking the entire time, which made the time fly by. I found out that her (Amy) husband works for the same company in Seattle that I used to work for, AND they live in West Seattle which (as most of you probably know) is my former beloved neighborhood. Bascially…besties.

But, besties aside, this was still a “race,” and when Amy started to slow down a little bit, I decided to finish the leg on my own. Bye bye! When I broke away from her, we started running along the water and I was completely overwhelmed with a joyous feeling. Ocean! Running! Washington! All of it merged together into a giant cloud of happiness, and I was loving it! I also started passing a lot of people, which only fueled the run-love I was already basking in.

Before I knew it, my own personal half marathon was done and I handed off the slap bracelet to Lauren. I was ecstatic to be done with my first (and longest) run and to have felt SO good the entire way. When Amy came in I thanked her for all the miles we spent together, and good news…she didn’t begrudge me for leaving her behind 🙂

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Onto the next!

Leg 2

My second leg started around 8 pm that night, and after a long day of waiting around, I was ready to run again! This leg also started from a major exchange, so there were lots of runners and people to get energy from. This leg was 8.6 miles or so, and while that distance on its own wasn’t really overwhelming, the thought of running it after my 13.1 that morning was little scary.

Pre-run 2, finding friends!

Pre-run 2, finding friends!

But, the show must gone on, and after Bethany came running through the exchange, off I went.

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Immediately I could tell that this run was going to be different than the first. The scenery beforehand had been beachy and full of little snow-cone shops and kayak huts. This second run was along city streets in a town that was full of projects and closed businesses. Needless to say, it wasn’t exactly scenic, and honestly if I had been running it out on my own…I probably wouldn’t have felt particularly safe.

But with decorated vans and headlamps abound, it was all good. My legs were definitely fatigued though, and after 4 miles or so, I could feel all the hills that covered this leg. My energy was draining a little bit too, and I tried to just focus on getting to the end.

Around mile 6.5 or so, in an effort to boost my mood and energy, I took a couple of chews which immediately improved just about everything. My form straightened up, my pace quickened, and my attitude brightened. I knew we were over the bigger hills on this leg, so I decided to push it to the end a little (mainly to get things over with…). And pushing it was so fun! I was running a mid-low 7 minute pace, which isn’t anything wild, but it felt great to turn my legs over and crank out some faster miles.

I think I got a little too carried away though, because when I trotted into the exchange…there was no team member to be found! I stood there like a lost child with a slap bracelet in hand and no one to hand it off to. Luckily, my team was on their way over, and quickly hopped-to as soon as they realized I was already there.

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2 runs out of 4 done! Now it was time to “sleep” and get through those long nighttime hours.

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 Run 3

This was the run I was probably the most wary about out of the 4. I was scheduled to start around 4 am, and this would be my hilliest run by far; mainly climbing and not a lot of descending. It was 7.3 miles, which again isn’t bad relatively, but after 21+ miles the day before and very little van sleeping, I knew it would be a challenge.

Keep smiling friends! It's 3 am!

Keep smiling friends! It’s 3 am!

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And right out of the gate, it certainly was a challenge. My legs were heavy and tired, and there was a sharp head wind combined with rain hitting me right in the face. Just lovely. The first part of this run was a straight shot on a paved bike path along some railroad yards, so it wasn’t exactly scenic. But that didn’t really matter, considering it was very dark anyway and all I could really see was the ground 20 feet in front of me.

Once I ran through the first exchange and continued on to the second leg of the run, things started to improve a bit. We entered a very woodsy area, and the familiar smell of damp bark and pine was super comforting and gave me a nice little boost. We were climbing and climbing seemingly forever, but I did what I could and managed to keep a steady pace. At one point I looked up and saw a long stream of blinking red lights all along the road in front of me, which was a nice reminder that I was definitely not alone.

I savored any minor descent I got, which seemed to only be met with an even longer climb. Eventually though, the lights of the exchange came into view, and after trudging up what was the steepest hill of the run, I handed off to Lauren as she sped off to traverse the rest of Whidbey Island.

Only one left!

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Run 4

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I was supremely ready to be done when it came time for my last run around noon. It was a 6.2 miler, and I wanted to see if I could push my pace a little bit—namely to just get ‘er done (I’d been running between 8:30-45). After nearly 30 miles though, I knew it would be a challenge.

"Do I have to?"

“Do I have to?”

I tried to psych myself up as much as I could, and when Bethany came around the corner, it was go time…time to finish this biz!

Pretty sure I said, "Oh shit" as this photo was being taken.

Pretty sure I said, “Oh shit” as this photo was being taken.

The start of this leg went all along an open field, which was pretty but really exposed and a wicked headwind was making any kind of “speedy” pace I’d been wanting to run a struggle. I was clipping along around an 8-minute mile and then I’d get blasted by a gust that would totally throw off my groove. Let it be known: I really, really don’t like the wind.

After a couple miles though, we turned left at the coastline and once again I was running along the water. Hurrah! This lasted all of three minutes, and immediately the course routed back inland up what was easily the steepest hill of my race. Womp womp. But, I knew that this climb was going to be rewarded with a nice long gradual downhill, so I didn’t waste any time attempting to power my way up.

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Once reaching the “summit,” I immediately quickened my turnover to take advantage of the descent, and all remnants of fatigue in my legs seemed to disappear. I was flying! It felt so good to move a little quicker, and with just a few miles to go, the delicious knowledge that I was about to be done started to seep happiness into my brain — which then worked its way through my whole body.

I looked down at my watch as I continued to trek closer to my own personal finish line, and while the speed wasn’t anything wild, it was still the fastest I’d run all weekend. I felt strong, I felt so much gratitude, and most importantly…I felt like me. After months of not feeling quite like myself, I cannot describe the joy of finally feeling like the runner I know I am. After 35 miles of running, a 7 minute pace magically felt effortless and freeing, and once again running proved that it can have magical powers.

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I turned a corner, and there was my team, ready to finish their own runs. I couldn’t contain my smile…I was DONE. All hopped up on run love, and ready to bask in the adrenaline of a great relay.

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It was so fun spending the remainder of the day cheering in my teammates as they finished up their legs. We had such a great team dynamic, and spending 32 hours with them was easily the best part of this whole shebang. Relays have a funny way of bonding people; through the abnormal nature of these beasts, there’s a unique camaraderie formed through a shared passion, shared pain, and shared experience.

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We finished in just over 32 hours, and every minute of it was a blast. I loved this group and I loved the fact that just a few months ago, I didn’t think I’d be able to pull this off. And in case anyone was keeping track…I did not have to stop for a bathroom once on any of my runs. Not…once.

Thank you SO MUCH to Six Pack with Racks for including me once again on this adventure. I loved spending time with these gals (and guy) in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

When’s the next one?? 🙂