Tag Archives: marathon

Eugene Marathon Training Week #11 and #11.5

Stuff is winding down around here. I haven’t really done a “workout” so-to-speak in nearly two weeks, and my legs are more than ready for a little freedom.

I thought I’d report on both this past week and this current week, seeing as after Eugene, the likelihood of “recapping” my final taper week is close to zero. I’ll more than likely have too many chocolate chips to focus on at that point. Actually, I’m already distracted by chocolate chips. I don’t even buy bags with the intention of baking cookies anymore.

But I digress.

I am rather methodical about my final week taper schedule though, so I figured I’d do a little detailing.

But first, last week…

Week #11

M: 7 miles w/ 6 x 100 meter sprints

T: Rest

W: 5 miles easy + Maximum Sculpt

T: ~2 mile swim

F: 8 mile run, easy + easy lifting

S: 12 mile run, no watch- tried to finish strong

S: Rest

= 32 miles

Nothing exceptionally noteworthy last week. Saturday’s last long run felt good, and it was probably a good thing my Garmin died before I even started the run. I tend to be a bit time-obsessed with that thing on…even if the prescribed run is supposed to be “easy.”

I had the best intentions to go to yoga on Sunday. Like I actually got myself to the gym early and everything. Alas…class was cancelled. Oh well, can’t say I didn’t try. My foam roller and I got cozy instead.

And now for this week…both what’s happened and what’s planned:

Week #12

M: 6 miles easy

T: 1 hour swim

W: 7 miles “dress rehearsal” with 2 miles @ mgp

T (planned): 1 hour swim

F (planned): Rest

S (planned): 3-4 mile shake out

S: Well…you know 🙂

The swimming seemed to be a game-changer for me during my tapering for Chicago, so I’m plugging it in twice this week. Generally, it seems to really flush my legs and wiggle out all that lingering tightness…all good things for marathon prep.

This morning’s “dress rehearsal” went about as well as dress rehearsal runs are supposed to go…not awesome. If we’re being honest, marathon pace felt kinda fast, but I’m choosing to trust the training instead of let one less-than-perfect run freak me out. It’s par for the course during race week, right?

I’m also having race-day attire qualms, and today’s run didn’t help much. Tank top? Short sleeves? Arm warmers? I’m all over the place. In the end, I’m certain I’ll go with whatever feels most comfortable…and it will undoubtedly be less clothing than what most people are wearing. Cold weather runner FOREVER!

And speaking of, not that I’m hawking or anything, but race day temps are *for now* looking pretty stellar. High of 61 for the day, meaning a chilly start, just the way I like it. Low chance of rain and partial cloud cover…I couldn’t really ask for much better than that. Honestly, when it comes to weather for races, I try to ignore the predictions…because no matter what the skies decide, I’m going to be running either way. However, it does add a little comfort that (hopefully) wet clothing won’t be an issue.

I’m having a hard time believing there’s only three days between now and race day. Tomorrow night I’ll be packing everything up, and just 48 hours from now BF and I will begin our drive south.

Ah, it’s all happening soon. And since all this typing about the race is starting to send my tummy butterflies a-flutter, I’m signing off for now.

Happy Wednesday folks!

Boston

There was never a doubt in anyone’s mind that yesterday would be joyous. No matter if you were an elite runner gunning for the win, an age-grouper who’d worked so hard to qualify, a cheering spectator, or an onlooker from afar dreaming of the day when you could run those sacred roads—Marathon Monday promised, as always, to be filled with inspiration and celebration.

Yesterday started out no differently. I spent all morning at my desk with a browser dedicated to streaming the race. I had followed the stories of several elites, and I couldn’t wait to watch them perform on the most famous stage the sport has to offer. I also couldn’t wait to track friends of mine who were running for the first time. I myself would be attempting to qualify for this special race in just two weeks, which made yesterday’s show all the more inspiring.

After the top men and women came through, it was time for the rest of them—”them” being a collective term for ordinary runner folk—to take their turn on the legendary course.

Many finished. Many fulfilled the dream that they had been training for and focusing on for so long. Those who finished intended to spend the rest of their time celebrating what should have been one of the happiest days of their life.

That’s the thought I can’t get out of my head.

What should have been.

Because at 4:09 hours into the race, everything stopped. All those people invested in the race—those who’d finished, those who hadn’t yet, and those watching their loved ones fulfill a dream—suddenly it wasn’t a scene of triumph. It became a scene of chaos and panic, all set on the stage of a marathon. A scene so shockingly different from what had existed moments ago, it couldn’t possibly be happening.

But it was happening. And despite all the pleas of asking why and the anger and the frustration and the sadness and the desperate attempts to discern some meaning from it all—all we’re left with on this morning after is a hole in our hearts for the violation of our running community.

I can’t add anything to the story of what happened that you haven’t already heard. I went from a state of pure elation for all the runners yesterday to complete shock and disbelief. I watched the news for hours and read as many stories as I could, but they all revolved around one truth: the sanctity of running a marathon had been brutally intruded upon.

We all ache most for the innocent victims and families of this tragic event. Our resources must be used primarily to help them and to help the city of Boston. There is nothing anyone can say or even do  in the wake of these disasters to help the pain of losing a loved one. Perhaps, if anything, all we can do is demonstrate that despite the violation, despite the blatant hatred, we are a people of fortitude.

Runners are built to endure. We are bred we an understanding that in order to succeed, we must find a way to push through the pain. The marathon itself is a metaphor for the human spirit—and while someone may have attempted to crush that spirit yesterday—as always, we can and will keep going.

A running race is in no way an analogy for the pain felt by the people directly affected by this event. But perhaps all we can do, in a situation that otherwise feels helpless, is lend some of the camaraderie and resilience within the running community outward. Ours is a group of individuals full of love, hope, determination, and perhaps most importantly, will. These qualities do not exist solely within the confines of the track or a race course—they transcend into our every day lives and to the people around us.

It took all of a few minutes yesterday for incredible runners to turn into incredible samaritans. If there is any hope to take from all this, it’s that from the destruction of one individual arose a people of perseverance and strength. A people who’s determination to defend our sport, to defend the marathon, cannot and will not be broken.

Here are some of the best symbols of resilience I read regarding yesterday’s events:

“Eyewitness to Bravery, Horror.”

-Peter Sagel, NPR & Runner’s World

“If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.”

– Ezra Klein, Washington Post

“Bombing in Boston”

– Lauren Fleshman, Ask Lauren Fleshman

“The Meaning of the Boston Marathon”

-Nicolas Thompson, The New Yorker

“The Marathon”

-Charles Pierce, ESPN

Our most loving thoughts are with you Boston. Stay strong, keep running.

What’s Worked: Reflections on Marathon Training

As I approach these last few weeks of marathon prep— namely, the taper stage— I’ve been reflecting a bit on how this bout of training has fared compared to others.

There were a lot of different strategies I incorporated this time around which made for a lot of new experiences. And while it’s still 17 days ‘til race day (*shudder*), I think it’s pretty safe to say that these strategies have worked.

As of right now, I feel healthy, strong, and mentally prepared to make Eugene an “A” race. Since I’ve had more than a few marathon-training mishaps in the past, I thought I’d write a bit about the things I’ve implemented this time that seemed to have made the biggest difference.

Following an actual training schedule.

I know, right? NUTS.

But honestly, other than roughly sketching my first marathon training around a Hal Higdon program, I’ve never really followed a “schedule.” Before, I would just try to gradually increase my mileage and my long-run distances. And somehow I kept winding up with injuries that forced me to take weeks off at a time. I didn’t go into my last two marathons 100% healthy. In fact, I was more concerned with my injuries flaring in those races than the actual running. Luckily, I was able to complete both races—but they didn’t have that climactic, “I gave it everything I have” feel that 26.2 is supposed to have.

So I changed my method. I bought the Advanced Marathoning book by Pete Pfitzinger and decided to let him take the reins. I made a few tweaks to the prescribed programs (long runs on Saturday instead of Sunday), but otherwise—it was all up to Pete. The schedule wasn’t too much more demanding in terms of mileage, but if definitely offered components that I’d never used before.

Suddenly, all of my runs had intention behind them.  There were paces I never, ever trained at—both fast and slow—and workouts I’d never done before. I liked it though. This new approach was refreshing and interesting—and it added some color to the “10 miles at an average pace” runs that had become too frequent in my schedule.

I now have a pretty good idea of how my 5k pace, half-marathon pace, and goal marathon pace all feel according to effort as opposed to solely by my watch. I feel more in tune with my exertion levels and when to push and when to hold back. I also have a much better gauge of my strengths and my weaknesses—which feels good both going into race day and future training. For instance, to work on: hills, tempos, and workouts in the middle of long runs. To capitalize on: race day brain/competitive nature, speed work, and finishing strong.

I love that this new schedule has given me new favorite workouts, too. Somehow I’ve developed an infatuation for 800 repeats as well as half-marathon pace shorter runs—both of which require hard, fast rap…which I also kind of love right now.

Rest Days

I think there has been one week this entire training cycle that I didn’t take a rest day. Otherwise, they have been as integral to each week as the long run. I’ve gone from avoiding and hating any rest days at all to welcoming them with open arms whenever they come.

I am certain that this change has made a critical difference in my body’s health, but perhaps more so—I’m convinced that they’ve done wonders for my brain. While I definitely still get a little restless on rest days—it’s the temporary holding back that gets me excited to get back out there the next day. My workouts or runs the day after rest days always feel so fresh and strong, and I’m having a hard time remembering back to the time when I disliked rest days.

Through this, I bluntly have to state that, IMO, any runner who doesn’t take at least one day OFF a week is fooling themselves. There is everything to be lost, and nothing to be gained, by not letting our bodies recover. I’ve learned this the hard way too many times, and it took me too long to realize that this habit was actually the thing holding me back.

In our sport, sometimes the greatest strength of all can come from when we go against our instincts to keep pushing. It’s a strange concept in a country riddled with laziness and lack of motivation— but something I’ve come to realize is that there can always be too much of a good thing.

Running-specific strength training

On a similar self-preservation topic, I think a key component of this training cycle has been the strengthening I’ve incorporated.

I’ve always been a regular “lifter”—but mostly in an arms-and-core-only kind of way. Part of it was that I didn’t like straying from routine, and the other part was that I never wanted my legs to be too sore to run.

Overuse injuries that were all stemming from muscular weaknesses kind of forced me to change my habits. I started going to the total-body strength class that I always talk about, and all of a sudden—the aches that always plagued me weren’t there anymore.

The class toasts every single muscle group—including my glutes, hammies, and quads, and it also incorporates a lot of plyometric work that improves balance and ankle strength. All of it is so very good for runners, and while I don’t love the weekly DOMs screaming in the back of my legs, I have also seen my recovery time and speed increase.

And fine, maybe—MAYBE—PSJJ has helped too. I still hate it. Day 101 today, woof.

What’s interesting to me about this whole strength-training concept is that I’ve actually decreased the amount of other cardio-cross training during this cycle. I spin or swim maybe once a week, and otherwise it’s just running and strength classes. I used to be a big believer in a more-is-better approach to cross-training, but I’m starting to think that for me—my body can handle running better than I previously thought, so long as I’m diligent about strength. Which is encouraging, because if there’s a choice of activities…I think you can guess that run > everything else.

Food

I love food. I’m very non-discriminatory when it comes to the food I love. As in, I love a big bowl of vegetables and quinoa as much as I love a piece of chocolate pie.

Really though, I’m all about diversification and all-encompassing love when it comes to my food choices. It’s part of what helps me feel balanced, and I like to think that it helps me become not too obsessed with what I put in my body.

However, the fact of the matter is, I have a digestive system that really does not appreciate being deprived of the things it really needs, therefore ample portions of fruits, vegetables, fats, and protein are essential to ensuring I’m not keeled over in abdominal pain every night.

And not to mention running. I’ve done a bit of experimenting this training cycle to see exactly what types of fuel (food) are best on my stomach for both comfort and performance. Instead of focusing on, “Okay, I know I need a lot of water and a lot of pasta before my long run…then I can have whatever the f I want afterwards,” I’ve started focusing more on the before-and-after fueling of every run. Through this, I’ve discovered that food is really magical. Good, whole, nutrient-dense food can make such a monumental difference in how we perform and how we recover, and it’s this special attention I’ve given to figuring out what works for me that’s yielded a greater understanding of what’s best.

A list of my current staples: sweet potatoes, kale, peanut butter, avocados, eggs, oatmeal, almond milk, apples, bananas, spinach, berries, quinoa, almonds, rice cakes, pasta, zucchini, carrots, bell peppers, chicken sausage, squash, Picky Bars, and black beans.

Of course, I stray from these staples often—there’s lots of chocolate and cookies to be found too—but around my long runs and around key workouts, these are what I’ll go for. A lot of it has to do with my bad digestion, admittedly, but I suppose it’s a blessing in disguise because it’s forced me to think about fueling as opposed to rewarding.

….

Along with all these things, I think that being keenly focused on a tangible, quantitative goal has really helped me through this training. Whenever I get the urge to fall back into an over-training or haphazard habit, I remind myself of the truth that nothing changes if nothing changes.

Do I want to get in an extra couple of miles, or do I want to qualify for Boston?

Whenever I put things in this perspective…the answer’s always the same.

I’m ready to see if the changes I’vee made, and the habits I’ve broken, will yield something great—something I’ve wanted for a long time.

More than anything, I’m happy to have had a solid training cycle that has helped me improve as a runner and has helped me rediscover so many new and wonderful things about the sport I love so much.

 

What works for you in marathon training? What doesn’t work? What changes have you made that make the biggest difference in your training?

Eugene Marathon Training Week #9

Good morning!

I am certain I won’t be saying this for more than week…but currently (please quote me on this later) I’m definitely ready to taper.

I feel like I’ve packed in all the training I could up until now, and it just feels like time to slow down, smooth out the cracks, and mentally prepare for race day.

Too bad that will be a three week process. But for now, I’m feeling more relived than anxious to be entering taper-phase. Part of that reason could be last week…it was a big one (for me).

M: REST

T: 10 miles fast-ish

W: 8 miles easy + Maximum Sculpt

T: 11.3 miles

F: 3500 yd swim ~80 min

S: 22.4 miles

S: 6.5 easy miles + 75 min yoga

Total= 58.2 miles

That right there would be the most miles I’ve run in this training bout. Most of it felt good…with the exception of some not-so-favorable conditions on Saturday’s long run.

*Edited to add: After some archive snooping, I discovered this is actually the most miles I have ever run in one week!

The truth is that I should be really grateful for Saturday. All the weather apps (yes I have more than one) promised “steady rain” and 10+ mph winds all day on Saturday. I whimpered a little bit on Friday night, but resolved that rain or no rain…the run was going to happen, and I needed to suck it up.

Imagine my euphoria, then, when the 7:00 am alarm went off and not only was there no rain on my window, but there were BLUE SKIES. Nothing will get me out of bed to run quicker than a welcomed fault in weather reporting. This optimism didn’t necessarily carry on through the run, unfortunately.

I’m not really sure if it was the distance, the headwind (they were right about that part), or just the day itself, but I never really fell into a groove during my long run this week. I really dislike when this happens, particularly as it ruins any hope for consistent pacing (my only goal for the run), and I hate having such variance in speed. The second half was infinitely better than the first half (a reprieve from a head wind will do that for you), and my fastest miles turned out to be my final 5 or so. I would upload and post my splits, but I’m a little afraid to look at their lack of symmetry quite yet.

I kind of felt like I hit the wall during this run, which is definitely not awesome during a training run. But. I suppose if I have to take it now or in Eugene, I’d much rather take Saturday.

At one point, I stopped my watch to refill my water bottle (holla for the fountains being back on!), and I forgot to turn it back on for ~.4 miles. Not really a big deal…except that I plum forgot about it until after the run was done, and after I’d completed the Garmin-verified 22.0 mile distance. During a regular run, this wouldn’t have made a difference. But on a 22 mile run, that extra .4 might have been the death of me.

But no matter. I would have liked to finish my longest long run on a more confident note, but you can’t always count on that. I’ve had more than my share of encouraging long runs this training cycle, so those are what I’ll try to focus on.

I spent the rest of Saturday cuddled in a blanket on the couch in the dark. It sounds pathetic, but it was actually rather perfect. And that rain they predicted? It started probably 20 minutes after I walked in the door from my run. I’ll call that a win for the day.

I also slept about 11 hours Saturday night, all of which felt super necessary. Nothing wipes me out quite like a long run, and there is no more delicious sleep than those fueled by miles (and an entire pizza in my stomach 🙂 )

Not too much else from last week is especially note-worthy. Going to yoga yesterday afternoon was one of the best decisions I made all week…and by “going,” I really mean summoning up every morsel of willpower in my being. There is no excuse for why I don’t prioritize going to yoga more, as it never fails to leave me feeling 100% better afterward. It’s just so much easier to choose an hour of sitting on my butt than an hour of downward dog. I can also easily fool myself too into thinking that I’ll just “stretch at home” and it will be just as effective as an expert telling me what to do. Lies.

However, I’m going to try and go at least twice before Eugene. It really is so good for us runners, and when I’m there I can almost hear my pissy muscles thanking me for finally giving them a little TOC.

Other than yoga, there are a few other “running accessories” that I wholeheartedly believe to be effective and helpful, but that’s a post for another day.

I hope everyone had a nice weekend!

Eugene Marathon Training Week #8

M: Rest

T: 10 mile,s easy

W: 7 miles w/ 6 x 800 in ~3:30s + Maximum Sculpt

T: Spin

F: 7 miles @ hmgp (7:30/mile) + Maximum Sculpt

S: 17 miles

S: 7.5 miles easy

Total= 48.5 miles

Mini step-back week last week. If you consider 17 miles a step-back, which I hardly do. But, it was nice to have a long run ahead of me without a “2” in the front of it.

The two most notable workouts for me were Wednesday and Friday. I decided that I really enjoy 800s as speedwork. They’re long enough to do the work, and short enough to not make me want to cry. The 6 that I did were all at about an 8.5-8.6 mph pace, and I felt great. In control, strong, and probably could have a few more. Afterward, my legs were the perfect amount of tired, and I think I’ll probably try to get in an 8×800 before taper starts.

I was feeling all kinds of happy after Friday’s workout as well. I was a little bit anxious about 7 straight miles at hmgp at O-500 on a Friday morning, but I was reminded—again— that I should try and trust myself a little bit more. The miles actually felt easy, which was pretty darn encouraging. I followed the effort up with my favorite lifting class at my gym, which together yielded more sweat than I knew how to handle.

The class instructor started posting the workouts on her FB page before class, so here’s a look at how Friday’s went (which is a good carbon-copy of how most of my Maximum Sculpt classes look):

photo

It’s a lot like BodyPump. I really, really love this class, and I’m certain it’s helped with a lot of imbalances/weaknesses I have as a runner. I’m not really a class person, but when it comes  to strength and lifting, I’d much rather have an expert instruct me.

Saturday’s long run was fine. Not great, not horrible, just fine. I didn’t wear a watch with the intention of it being an easier effort, but I think this may have had the opposite effect. It didn’t feel top-notch, which I think was due to it being a little too fast. Of course, it could have been to my negligence for ideal fueling/hydrating/etc., but from now on I think I’ll wear the watch on my long runs even for the purposes of staying slow.

But, truth be told, I actually wanted to get a less-than-stellar long run out of my system. I’ve been having a really successful jaunt of long runs recently, which was making me nervous that I wasn’t saving my good mojo for race day. It’s silly, really. But getting in a harder long run actually makes me feel more in-balance with the long-run juju…or something like that.

We all have our running quirks.

A few more snapshots from this weekend. In case you hadn’t heard, Seattle was all dressed up in her springtime finest:

image

image

First roller-blade + taco-truck date of the season. Friday afternoon splendor.

The Easter bunny knew their recipient very well. Football-shaped eggs, yep.

The bunny loves you BF, you’re welcome. Football-shaped eggs, yep.

Easter yesterday was perfect. Run with BF, brunch, Ballard locks to see some boats, reading outside, cooked a ham, Breaking Bad, and lots of chocolate. It couldn’t have gone better, really.

Happy Monday!

How was your Easter? Weekend? Long Run?

Eugene Marathon Training Week #7

Last week was peak week ya’ll.

56 miles on tap. 22 mile long run.

All kinds of big numbers that make me question my sanity and sends my injury-paranoia into overdrive.

Every 50+ mileage week I’ve ever done while marathon training has led to minor injuries. Once a major injury. I also haven’t had an injury-less spring in three years. Needless to say, I have been ridiculously in-tune and overly-wary of how my body has been feeling and how the runs have been going.

So how did this past week fare?

Things are looking/feeling/going great!

Here’s the deets:

M: 7 miles with 7×100 meter pickups, after work

T: 10 miles, no watch

W: Maximum Sculpt class + 1 hour swim

T: 12 miles w/ 7 ” fast” miles

F: 5 miles easy + Maximum Sculpt class

S: 22 miles

S: 1 hour swim

Total= 56 miles

And tack on way too many push-ups, sit-ups, and jumping jacks every night, too. That’s right… PSJJ is still going. We hate it.

A couple of things about those runs/workouts up there:

Thursday’s run didn’t go exactly as it should have.

The truth? I gave myself a little bit of an out.

On the docket was 12 miles with 7 miles @hmgp. When I read that description on my training schedule on Sunday night beforehand, I was already scared. It was like I somehow knew that I wouldn’t be up for it, and—surprise—when the day came, I definitely wasn’t. And while ordinarily I would write this off as a missed-workout and a loss of mental strength, I’m actually glad that I decided to approach this run differently.

After last weekend’s faster-than-planned half marathon plus 7 miles, my body was a little toast. Not overworked, just in need of a little more recovery than a regular training week. I decided to “do what I could” on the run instead. Go fast when I could, hold back if I needed to, essentially—let my legs dictate the run. And wouldn’t you know it, the results weren’t too shabby:

Let's play, "Find the steep uphill mile of this fun." Go!

Let’s play, “Find the steep uphill mile of this fun.” Go!

Perhaps I should have just done the workout and not let the voice of doubt get the best of me. But I’m actually happy I took the route I chose instead. There’s a difference between not giving into fear and recognizing when you actually should hold back, and it’s that fine line that defines the difference between constructive and destructive training.

Onto my favorite training run of the week: the big kahuna.

I’ve only ever done 22 miles in marathon training once before, and it was in my first training cycle. I don’t completely think that it’s physically necessary, but mentally…it’s huge. For me, getting within 4 miles of the full marathon distance does a lot for my confidence, and in distance running… confidence can at times be more important than actual endurance.

That said, there was really only one thing I wanted out of Saturday’s 22 miler: confidence. I had gained a great deal of excitement and encouragement last week from the race, but now was the time to really go long. No stopping, no breaks in the middle, just running. And running. And running.

I decided to tackle this monster on the Burke-Gilman trail for a change of scenery and also for some company. Sure enough, there were runners/bikers/walkers galore…and it felt like the place to be on a Saturday morning.

No sugar coating— this sucker took a long time. But truthfully, it felt like it went by relatively fast. I enjoyed essentially every mile of this run, and with the exception of a couple lonely/tough miles around 15-16, I felt great the whole time. I should note that it was also so m-f cold at the beginning that anyone would rather be running than standing still…meaning the first 5-ish miles were spent thawing out and regaining control of my fingers.

Once the end was in sight and I knew I wasn’t going to blow up, I decided to go for a strong finish. A strong finish in a regular training run (at the tail end of a high-mileage week) would be optimal for the whole “confidence” goal…and I’m really happy with the end results.

photo

Capture2

8 minutes per mile flat average pace. Last mile in 7:30. I like it.

A little fast, I’ll admit. But my recovery this training cycle has been so much better than it’s ever been. I woke up on Sunday without any soreness (11 hours of sleep probably helped 🙂 ) and I essentially have zero lingering fatigue.

I decided to swim on Sunday to shake out my legs, after debating if I should take a rest day or not, which felt fantastic. I still maintain that swimming has actual magical powers.

The universe disagreed with this decision though…and it made me pay the price. I woke up yesterday after a horrible night’s sleep with a cloudy head and sore throat…allergy season, you devil. I always forget that the spring is the worst allergy-wise for me, and apparently running through the woods for 3 hours doesn’t really help them stay put.

Alas, unplanned but welcomed rest day yesterday. This week is a partial step-back week with a “shorter” long run, and otherwise— we’re heading into the homestretch, folks. Just two weeks until the three week taper starts. Crazy.

I’ve really been loving this training cycle…and as much as I’d like it to continue, I’m getting really anxious for the grand finale. My focus on my BQ goal hasn’t wavered a bit, and if anything… I’m hungrier for it now than I’ve ever been.

I think it’s possible. I think it’s going to take a little more work and a little bit of race day luck. I’m a big believer in never doubting the unexpected—both for better or for worse. But I’m also a big believer in race day magic.

We’ll see. All I can do now is continue to run well, run safe, and keep my eye on the prize.

Happy Tuesday!

How was your weekend?

Eugene Marathon Training Week #6

And just like that, we’re halfway through this training cycle already. Just crazy. I hadn’t really realized how fast approaching race day really is until Sarah posted a “42 days left” countdown yesterday. Yipes.

But! This weekend was a big confidence builder, which makes me more excited than nervous about the dwindling time frame.

So with that, here’s how week #6 shook out:

M: 12 miles- no watch, blissful + lifting

T: 5 miles + spin

W: 5 miles + Maximum Sculpt

T: 10 miles with 5 x 1,000 meters @ 5kp

F: REST

S: 20 miles total. 7 miles in ~61 minutes, then 13.1 miles at St. Paddy’s Day Run Half Marathon in 1:40.

S: Spin + 30 min stair-stepper + lifting

Total= 52 miles

Monday’s run was the kind of run you always want to have. Perfect temperatures, perfect setting, and the feeling like your floating. I didn’t wear a watch but I did see the time I started and the time I ended—essentially dead on 8 minute miles, all of which felt great.

I already wrote about the horror of Thursday’s workout, which made me slightly nervous for not only 20 miles on Saturday, but trying to maintain marathon goal-pace for 13.1 of those miles. Luckily (thanks to the Irish?) the outcome of Saturday’s running was exactly what I’d hoped for—if not better. But that’s a post for tomorrow 🙂

I think what I’m most pleased about is how my body has been feeling so far. I’ve had a few paranoia-fueled aches and pains, but overall I feel great. Nothing lingering, nothing worrisome (here’s where we all knock on wood in unison…ready, go), and generally I just feel strong. Now that this weekend is behind me, I can come out and say that for the past two years I have been unable to run on St. Paddy’s weekend because of injury. Not this year! I’m hoping this healthy trend continues through race day, as I really would like to have a fondness for spring racing.

Generally, I’m just feeling really excited. I’ve had some hard, not-so-awesome runs and workouts, but I’m trying to be of the mindset that it’s the tough ones that are going to be the most helpful tools come race day. Learning how to push through and trek on isn’t as easy as learning to play it safe, but it certainly has a better pay-off in the end. I know for a fact that running a BQ time on April 28 isn’t going to be easy or necessarily all enjoyable, so I’d rather practice the painful feelings now than let them scare me away come race day.

That’s all for now folks. Congrats to everyone who raced this weekend! It felt like the spring race season really kicked off these past two days, and from what I’ve seen so far—there were some huge milestones reached and PRs achieved. So fun to see!

Did you race this weekend? Did you spectate this weekend? Did you drink green beer this weekend?

The Hardest Workout I’ve Ever Done and a Race Weekend

Something crazy is happening, I’m posting three times in one week! This would have been a little light for old-school “I’m a new blogger and need to establish content!” RBR, but for this currently lackluster, unmotivated, very busy person who’s taken over, three times is a big win.

I still love running. I still love writing about running, I still love blogs and bloggers. I just want to live my off-internet life a little more right now.

Which brings me to the topics of today’s post—both of which (excuse my horrid play on words here) are both very topical.

Topic number 1: Today’s workout.

I’ve gotten away a bit from posting the details about all my runs and workouts because…hey-o, that’s boring. The weekly recaps work much nicer for that. However, some workouts jolt your system to the point that you can’t help but gab about it to other running kin.

On the schedule: 10 miles with 5 x 1000 meters @ 5k pace

I have been scared of this workout ever since I wrote it on my training schedule. You see, I decided to do something stupid late last year and get a new 5k PR, which consequentially lowered my “5k pace” approximately 15 seconds. (I know, I know…I am happy with my 5k time and I’m just being a brat right now). I normally correlate 5k effort with a 7-minute mile for my current fitness. I can handle that. I can wrap my brain around that. But a 6:47 pace? That shit cray.

I have just recently become accustomed to being comfortable in the 7s. I’ve had to be very deliberate in not letting a 7:xx on the clock scare me back into my 8:xx comfort zone. It’s mostly been working—which is good. However, it does not, in any way, further prepare me to face anything with a 6 in front of it.

To this day, I’m still a little shocked by my 5k time. I’m proud of it, but I’m honestly unsure as to if I could do it again. BUT, it is what it is…so when a workout calls for 5k pace, that’s what I’ll stick with.

Back to business. I decided to do this run on the treadmill (cue ominous, threatening music) simply because it was going to be a hell of a lot simpler to watch my splits/time on a self-regulated machine than on my own outdoor route and shoddy Garmin stalking. It wasn’t the treadmill that scared me though…it was the distance. I have never, ever, ever, ever run this far on a treadmill, mainly because I love being outside, but also because the thing that goes hand-in-hand with treadmills (other than boredom) is HEAT. Gyms aren’t ventilated like a 45 degree breeze keeping you cool throughout the run. No, a treadmill run is an unforgiving, unwavering torture mechanism in which your temperature just keeps going up and up along with the distance ticking slowly upward on the dial.

But, convenience won, and off I went on my speedwork endeavor. And by “off I went” what I mean to say is…I very unhappily got out of bed, blindly put on clothing, somehow drove to the gym, and just managed to fully wake up after the first warm-up mile. It wasn’t a pretty morning, folks.

As for the workout? Well, I kind of hated how right I was to be afraid of it. Because this sucker kicked me right in the pants and left me sweaty and beet-red crying on the ground next to the treadmill. <—find the exaggerated part of that sentence.

Here’s how it went. I did a .38 mile recovery between each 1000 meter interval, making each interval an exact mile:

3 mile warm up in 8:20s: Happiness! Easy! Bring on the sprinting!

1st 1000 meter @ 8.9 mph: Um, yea. Okay then. 4 more of those?

2nd 1000 meter @ 8.9 mphHey! Still super hard! How the effing f did I do a 5k this fast?

3rd 1000 meter @ 8.9 mphHATE. HATE. Have I ever quit a workout? Okay, I’ll just step off for a few seconds..

(I’m not proud of that one…it was only maybe 5 seconds, but still…not cool Broker)

4th 1000 meter @ 8.7 mphIf you’re going to jump off, you can lower the speed a little bit. It needs to be do-able. Okay…this is a little better. Still hate life.

5th 1000 meter @ 8.7 mphThis is it…the end. You can finish the workout or you can stew all day about not getting it done. HOW IS THIS ONLY .1 miles through???

2 mile cool down in 8:30sThis run is “never ever ever ever” going to end. I love Taylor Swift.

All said and done, I’m glad I finished the prescribed workout.

I’m not, however, happy with

a) briefly stepping off the treadmill while I was supposed to be interval-ing

b) turning down the speed for the last two 1000s

I realize that using a PR 5k pace may have been overambitious—maybe I was in better speed shape back then? But it still stung a little to feel so wiped by that pace. However, this was a VO2 max workout, which translates into 90% of max effort…which I definitely feel I was at.

It also could have been the longer distance that was spread throughout the run, the fact that this is my 4th day of running in a row, or the fact that I was in a very hot gym. Or it was an off day. Or the Girl Scout cookies have stolen my 5k pace. Yea, that’s it…let’s blame the samoas!

At any rate, this workout was no joke, and it really changed up the medium-long runs and recovery runs that I’ve been so merrily skipping between during the weekdays.

I really do like speedwork, and as difficult as it is, between the wheezing and the “Oh please do not puke” thoughts, I always tell myself that there is progress being made. I try and remember to embrace the discomfort and that it’s only temporary. You know, just to reflect on what every single sports quote of all time tells us.

Topic number 2: This weekend.

Surprise! I’m racing this weekend. Well, not racing-racing, but I will be doing a tune-up race of sorts at the St. Paddy’s Day Run Half-Marathon in Tacoma. Is “racing-racing” the runner’s equivalent of “like-like” instead of just “like” in middle school?

It works out rather perfectly. I’m supposed to run 20 miles for my long run that day, with 12 of those miles at marathon goal pace. Meaning, I will plan to run the half at the exact pace I’m hoping to run in Eugene. Bonus! I get to wake up hours before the race to run 7 additional miles. That part won’t be awesome, and running MGP for 13 miles afterward won’t be especially awesome either, but it’s going to be a great test to see where I am. I feel like I’ve gotten pretty lucky in the last two halfs I’ve run, so I hope that luck hasn’t quite run out. I mostly care about running a very even-tempo’ed pace the entire time. I’m going to be very happy with even 7:55 splits and a quality race “practice.”

This will be the first time I use a race as a part of a long run, which isn’t exactly ideal, but I like to think I’m killing two birds with one stone. The race environment in general is good practice—IMHO—and I plan on using it as a reference point.

Plus, I have a bad running taste in my mouth from Tacoma, so I’m hoping I can redeem myself a little bit.

Best part? BF’s running the half too! Post-race St. Paddy’s beers for all! Not like that wasn’t going to happen anyway…

So there you have it. A very long-winded post detailing how I almost threw up on the treadmill and how I’m running a St. Patrick’s Day race this weekend. I’m such an original running blogger, sometimes I amaze myself.

Happy Thursday!

Eugene Marathon Training Week #5

I’m baaaaack!

I almost didn’t come back—somewhere between the noon mai tais and the 80 degree weather, I tried to contrive some way of prolonging my stay indefinitely. Fake a horrible swimmer’s ear condition to the point that I could never again get on a pressurized plane? Become an overnight hula-dancing sensation so they practically beg me to stay and perform in nightly luaus?

I gave it my best effort, but all good things must come to an end. I’ll do a whole Hawaii post shortly (pictures included), but for now I’ll just say that Maui is seriously the best. Mr. BF and I had a magical time.

Last week was a cutback week which was perfect timing with our trip. I did still run a bit, and here’s a look at how training shook out:

M: spin + 30-ish min stair-stepper

T: 12 miles pre-plane flight

W: REST

T: 9 miles w/ 4 @ hmgp (5 outside with BF, 4 @ 7:30 pace on treadmill)

F: 6 miles easy

S: 14 miles, (10 outside, 4 on treadmill, overall ~8:10 pace)

S: REST

Total= 41 miles

Two rest days up there people, I’m patting myself on the back.

Saturday’s long run was no joke. It was HARD. Running in Hawaii is beautiful, however it is also incredibly sweaty and difficult. I was only able to force out 10 miles before I had to call it quits on the humidity and head indoors to finish it off. Not the most ideal way to long run, but I’m glad I got it done. Here’s a look at how running in Hawaii always ended up:

image photo

So pretty.

But who doesn’t love a good soaker sweat, right?

Time to get back to real life for now. Sad faces all over. Have a nice Tuesday!

Eugene Marathon Training Week #4

Happy Monday folks, how’s your day off to so far?

Time for a little training update. My tail is between my legs a bit as I know my last post was last Monday…and it was also a training update, but it happens sometimes. Ironically, I have a drafted post about how I haven’t been posting/haven’t had time/haven’t had inspiration, but of course, it remains a draft.

No matter, I think you’d rather read about running than my boring musings about not posting anyways.

This week was good. Kind of weird, as in it felt both very easy and very hard, but overall it was pretty quintessential marathon training.

M: 6.6 miles easy PM

T: 10 miles with 5 @ HMGP

This was hard. One of those workouts where I questioned how the f I was able to run 7:30s for 13.1 miles not too long ago. But either way, it happened and here’s how it went down:

2.5 mile warm up

7:27, 7:25, 7:27, 7:26, 7:23

2.5 mile cool down

This kicked my butt, but it was one of those runs where I could almost feel how effective the fast miles were going to be. Good stuff. Learning to appreciate the pain…and appreciate when it’s done 🙂

W: 8 miles + Maximum Sculpt <— love love love this class

T: REST

F: 6.6 miles slow

S: 20 miles in ~2:42

S: 4000 yd swim (~2.2 miles) + yoga

Total= 51.2 miles

Lots of numbers up there to talk about. First of all, I had my first 20 miler on Saturday, and for better or for worse—it was a tough run. Based on the route I chose, I ended up with about 14 miles of headwind—which is perhaps my least desirable condition, especially on a long run. Give me snow storms and pouring rain, but please oh please spare me the wind. Thank goodness for no goal-pace miles. BUT, I firmly believe that it’s the really grinders, the mentally-challenging runs that make the marathoner. 26.2 miles hurts no matter what—so it’s better to train with a little pain sometimes as opposed to simply fairy-dusting our way through each long run. So, once I again, I embraced it. And despite the slug-fest feeling of it all, I finished in a pretty good time. My right leg was super tight/heavy, which I felt was holding me back, but apparently it was more of a brain thing.

Another number to discuss: 50! I broke that barrier this week, and while I could feel the mileage increase, I have to say I’m a little shocked at my recovery times and how much they’re decreasing. I was barely sore after Saturday’s run, and on Sunday my legs felt as if it hadn’t even happened. Really happy about this. It could be that it’s my 4th time doing a full training cycle, or a myriad of other cosmic possibilities I suppose, but at any rate I think I’ll just keep doing what I’m going.

Admittedly, the big 5-0 number is when I start to get hyper-aware of injury possibility. The higher mileage weeks have always been the common denominator for me in terms of when I get hurt, so honestly I have been experiencing a little injury-hypochondria. Better paranoid  safe than sorry though. Again, I’m going to just continue to do what I’m doing and listen to the little aches and such as they come and go.

Oh, and in case you’d like an update…PSJJ is still happening! We’re into the 60s now, and it’s rough. But not rough enough to quit yet. The push-ups are getting easier, which is nice, but the sit-ups are getting tougher. We’ll see.

One last thing I’d like to point to: Yoga! I haven’t been to yoga since probably last October or so, and while I always kind of dread going, I forget how happy I am when I’m done. It’s hard to psych myself up for a yoga class the same way I can psych myself up for a run, but, like running, I’m always thankful after the fact. And let me tell you, there are much worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon than a long solo swim followed by an easy yoga class. So rejuvenating and cleansing.

Anyway, this week is cutback week—which feels like perfect timing. Not only will I be out of town (!!!HAWAII!!!), but it feels like the perfect point in time to draw in the reigns a bit.

That’s all for now, I hope at some point I can entertain you with more than just training-reflections and weekly updates 🙂 You can, however, count on an assortment of photos from our Maui trip after we return—as for when we’re there, well, I am hoping to forego all social media as much as possible, so until next week—aloha!

How was your weekend?