Vancouver Marathon Training: Week 7

I want to want this race. I want to be excited about it. But I’m just not. I don’t know if it’s the fact that this has been the longest winter ever or that I felt like I was overtraining or what. It’s been a frustrating training cycle, to say the least.

I think the thing that stands out to me the most is that I feel tired and weak more often than not. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely have good runs here and there when I feel really strong and push myself. But those have be the exception rather than the rule. I’m not especially motivated, even for my easy runs, and the workouts I enjoy most are cross training. Not the best.

Apple fritters in the car after a long run console me.

Apple fritters in the car after a long run console me.

I’m afraid I might have a bit of a mental block as well. I read plenty of running blogs and threads, and I know that really successful (read: FAST) marathoners run a lot more miles than I do. Their weekly mileage tops out anywhere from 55-70+ miles, and mine is nowhere near that. So while I began this training cycle with big goals for myself, the realization that my body isn’t cut out for that kind of training has me doubting myself, big time. And really, I know I should be happy with a sub 3:30 marathon and that everything beyond this should be gravy, but it’s not. I want to be better. I want to run faster. I think I can run faster, too. Can I do it with a much lower weekly mileage than most? Guess we’ll find out May 3.

Week 7

What I was supposed to do: 5 miles, easy @8:35-9:00
What actually happened: 5 miles @8:26
Legs felt heavy for the first part of this, but after I warmed up, I felt ok.

What I was supposed to do:
XT or rest
What actually happened: 4 miles @8:32; physical therapy appointment
This will come as a shock to no one, but I decided to run this day because I either had time to work out or walk the dog, and I am a slave to her. It was breezy and mild, and I think we both enjoyed getting out for a few miles.

I will own you and you will like it.

I will own you and you will like it.

What I was supposed to do: 
7 miles total with 1/2 mile repeats–6 x 1/2 mile @ 6:40 – 6:43 per mile pace. 2-3 min jog in between
What actually happened: 7 miles total–1 mile warm up–7 x 800 m repeats with 400 m rest for each; 1 mile cool down
Yep, threw in an extra one for good measure. This was my good, strong workout for the week. I loved it so much that I ran faster than I needed to AND added an extra interval. If only they could all be this good! 

What I was supposed to do: 
4 miles EASY
What actually happened: 48 minutes HIIT training
I’ve been missing my strength workouts, and since I didn’t need fresh legs for Friday, this seemed like a good time to squeeze in some muscle work. Just what the doctor ordered.

What I was supposed to do: 
rest or XT
What actually happened: REST
4 hours in the car and a long day of meetings. Rest, indeed.

What I was supposed to do: 
20 miles @8:25-8:45
What actually happened: 20 miles @8:31 average pace
The worst. Yet again. It was 17* with the windchill on Saturday morning, and even though I was bundled up, my hands were swollen, numb, and painful by the time I stopped at my car for Gu after 9.5 miles. I spent 10 very painful minutes waiting for the feeling to return to my hands. Damn Raynaud’s! Since I like having 10 fingers, I drove home, changed and went to the gym to finish on the treadmill. It was the worst. If I never run on a treadmill again, it will be too soon. My body felt fine, but I would’ve been much happier if I were able to do the whole run outside.

I refuse to get up! You cant make me!

I won’t get up! You can’t make me!

What I was supposed to do: 
rest or XT
What actually happened: 45ish minutes of HIIT training
The world is a cruel, cruel place, so I woke up at 6 am on Sunday even though I had absolutely nowhere to be. Since Roo wasn’t about to get out of bed, and Trader Joe’s doesn’t open until 8, I killed time with a workout. My legs felt surprisingly fine after 20 miles the day before, and I finished with a fair amount of core work that I sort of loved.

Total for the week: 36 miles
vancouver marathon week 7


Vancouver Marathon Training: Week 4

I have to start by confessing that every single time I type the word “marathon,” I accidentally (?) type “marathong.” Every.single.time. This brain of mine. I tell ya.


I’ve been dialing up the intensity in week 4, and I’m having fun trying some challenging workouts and really dedicating myself to my training. This week went pretty well all around, but my speedwork day was flat out HARD. I’m really glad I have a coach because he was super helpful. I always want to know WHY and how to fix it, but sometimes, it’s just a bad workout. And really, if I look at it in perspective, just because I didn’t hit mile repeats at a sub-7 minute pace doesn’t mean I had a bad workout. Let’s get to it–

Get on with it, lady!

Get on with it, lady!

What was supposed to happen: 6 miles @8:37-8:59
What actually happened: 6 miles @8:40
Completely unremarkable recovery run on the treadmill.

What was supposed to happen: 
What actually happened: 45 minutes of arc trainering plus 15 minutes of ab work
I’ve come to really enjoy my XT days. It’s a nice break, and I don’t feel any of the pressure to run a certain pace or distance, which is nice. I usually get close to 3 miles in 45 minutes. Then, I did an ab workout that I pinned a million years ago. It was a good one!
Also, I ordered myself this hoodie from Lululemon on Tuesday, and I am very happy with my purchase.
lululemon hoodieYou might not be able to see, but the zipper is silver AND gold, and I really love the detail. Sometimes retail therapy is necessary and makes me very happy.

What was supposed to happen:
 Groove repeats–7 miles with 4 x 1 mile @6:51-6:55 with 3:00 jog recovery
What actually happened: 7 miles total; 2 x 1 mile @6:53 with 3:00 recovery jogs; 1 mile @7:03 with 3:30 recovery; 2 x 0.5 mile @7:03 with 4:00 recovery
So. I really had to fight through this one. Physically and mentally, I felt ready–ready to work and ready for a tough, focused run. But. As soon as I began the first mile repeat, it felt TOUGH. Too fast for me. Almost like a dead out sprint. I got through 2 repeats at the targeted pace, but my lungs were on fire. I didn’t want to slow my pace, but I wanted to get through the workout somehow, so I slowed a little. The third mile still felt hard, but I got through it. I knew, though, that there was no way I was going to be able to do a full 4th mile. I went into that last “repeat” knowing that I was going to split it up. It worked out, but I think it was just an off day.
After, I emailed my coach, and he said that it’s ok to slow the pace a little, but that I should’ve gone ahead and slowed up for the first couple of repeats and tried to finish a bit stronger, which makes sense to me. Since I did well with last week’s tempo run, I know I don’t need to worry about it. Honestly, I was kind of bummed during and afterward, but I’m over it now. Hopefully it makes me stronger for race day, which is what really counts!

Drinks on drinks on drinks

Drinks on drinks on drinks

What I was supposed to do: 5 miles recovery, no faster than 9:05
What actually happened: 5 miles recovery @9:03
Easy miles on the treadmill. My legs felt good, if not a little tight in the hip flexors. I think I may have also done some ab work, but I didn’t write it down, and Thursday just seems like such a long time ago, doesn’t it?

What I was supposed to do: REST
What actually happened: REST!! I also had PT on Friday and did a bunch of hip/glute strengthening work. Plus, I had my hip flexors and TFLs dry needled. Necessary. He also suggested that I do my strengthening exercises after my long runs to help train my glutes to fire when they’re tired. Since they don’t like to fire when they’re fresh, I thought this was a good idea and tried it on Saturday. Not exactly what I wanted to do after 15 miles, but I know it will make me stronger.

What I was supposed to do:
15 mile long run @8:25-8:30 pace with 2 x 3 miles in the middle @7:38
What actually happened: 15 mile long run @8:27ish pace with 2 x 3 miles @7:35 (for all 3 miles in the first set) and @7:38-@7:30-@7:30
This is (I hope) my last long run on the treadmill for this training cycle. I broke it up into 5 mile stretches so I could mentally tackle it a little easier. I did the first 3 mile repeats for miles 6-9 and felt good, but was more than ready for a gu at mile 9. I did one easy mile to recover, then finished the second 3 mile set feeling really strong–strong enough to push the pace.
Finished with post-run stretches, single leg star taps (3 sets of 5 on each leg), and 30 bounds on each leg.

What was supposed to happen: 
5 miles easy recovery no faster than 9:05
What actually happened: 5.44 miles easy recovery OUTSIDE! (finally) @8:21
I really did try to go slower, but Roo and I were both excited to get outside for a run after so many freezing, windy, snowy days. Even though we lost that hour of sleep, the weather today made up for it.

Mileage for the week: 38 miles

vancouver marathon week 4

All in all, a good week. Otherwise, I’ve been working on getting plenty of protein, hydration, and lots of maintenance work. I’m trying to stretch before and after every run, foam roll, lacrosse ball my hip flexors (YOWSA that hurts), and do all of my strengthening exercises regularly. Sometimes, I want to do it, but I sit on the couch instead. I’m admitting that so that I can report back next week that I’ve followed through and actually done more of this. We shall see 😉

Training to Run a Half Marathon PR

You guys.

You need to read this article about training to run a half marathon PR.

OK–maybe those of you who don’t run don’t want to read it.

But! The rest of you: READ IT.

I, for one, am completely smitten by it and immediately want to find another half to train for so I can implement these ideas because I’m a super nerdy runner like that.

So this all started because I came across this article and started rambling to Manfriend about it via gchat.

Manfriend is not a runner.

He’s plenty athletic (he plays all the sports), but my running rambles got stale for him pretty quickly. It was basically this scenario:

It’s Not About the Nail from Jason Headley on Vimeo.

So. I reverted to my usual first reaction: emailing this lady, obvi. But I wanted to talk about it MOAR. And here we are.

My favoritest parts of this read include, but are not limited to:

  1. Long Runs. I wonder if adding a 2 hour run every week would help build aerobic capacity long term? Or does this just work during training and require downtime (ie., non-training time) to be effective?
  2. Strides! Why am I not doing these? I don’t know why I never do strides, but I should, especially given that they take almost no time and very little effort. Same with incorporating fartleks. I used to do intervals fairly regularly, but almost never do now. At least not running intervals. HIIT is a different story.
  3. Hills. I know running uphill is great for training, but what about downhill? The part about running downhill and strengthening quads is so smart, especially for a course like the one I just ran, which is a very gradual downhill course.
  4. Lactate Thresholds.  Funny, I was just talking to my co-worker (who used to be a rower) about this. Apparently, you reach a point in your workout where you start producing lactic acid (you know, the part that really hurts), and you can’t push yourself any further. Your body literally starts to break down. (Yes, literally). I think it’s interesting that you can increase it, though. I want to do that!
  5. Last Miles = Fast Miles. I know you’re supposed to pick up the pace at the end of long runs, but I always go out too fast and then get tired. If I could pace myself better, I know this would help me.

Anyway, the article is written by Greg Strosaker who is a marathon runner, author, and online running coach. I was pretty impressed with the quick look I took around his site. Definitely worth a follow.

Decker’s Creek Half Marathon

(Warning: Long post ahead. Only one picture, so you’ll have to count on being entertained by my enthralling prose. Proceed at your own risk.)

Remember that race I’ve been training for? So I ran it last Saturday. And it was good! Ish.

To fully understand what I was working with, let’s talk through the events leading up to the race.

I knew it was going to be hot. Really hot. And disgustingly humid. I did my regular hydration routine beforehand in anticipation of the conditions, but even a well-hydrated, well-conditioned body is going to struggle in the heat. I went into the race with this in mind, reminding myself that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I needed to slow down because of the heat.

Friday night was very low key. I arrived at the hotel with a pretty bad headache, but assumed I just needed to get some food and that would take care of it. No dice. I’m super stubborn about taking medication if I think I can “tough it out,” so I didn’t bother running to the store for anything.  I mean, how bad could a headache be? <–foreshadowing

I went to bed around 10 and fell right asleep, but around 12:45 I woke up with an absolutely pounding headache. We’re talking blindingly miserable pain. I thought I could just go back to sleep and it would go away, but an hour later, I was still awake, and my head felt like it was going to explode. I called down to the front desk asking if they had any ibuprofen (acetaminophen has never been good to me), and they said they’d send some right up. And up it came. In the form of Extra Strength Tylenol. I knew I had a bad history with the stuff, but I was desperate, so I took the meds. Approximately 8.3 minutes later, I was retching in the bathroom.  It was a sad scene: sweaty fever and blinding pain–and it went on for the next hour. I somehow managed to sleep for another 2.5 hours,  but then I was awake–without the headache or vomiting–but also without the rest I needed pre-race.

When it was time to actually get up and get ready, I still felt a little queasy, but I didn’t train for 6 weeks to sleep off some weird illness in a hotel room, so I figured I’d at least try to run the race. I could always drop out if I needed to. We stopped at the store for some ibuprofen and pretzels, which helped any traces of headache and settled my stomach, respectively. Sidenote: when you live in the city, the price of groceries in the rest of the world becomes a source of great joy. Meds, pretzels, and 2 giant Gatorades for under $10. Unheard of. Anyway.

The Decker’s Creek Half Marathon is a tiny race–600 participants, max–and there’s no pre-race expo. Packet pick-up is before the race near the finish line, and then runners are bused to the start. They do this part really well–very orderly and pretty straightforward. I grabbed my packet, dropped everything but my bib back at the car, and hopped on the bus with a handful of gummy bears. Shot blocks, gummy bears–it’s all the same, no? I got to the start in plenty of time to use the bathroom and do a few dynamic stretches beforehand–I just swing my legs back and forth and side to side (one at a time, of course), and I actually think it helps the ol’ hips.

Even though there were only 600 runners, the start was incredibly crowded. They do 2 waves, but with approximately 300 people lining up on a path that’s 8–maybe 9–feet across doesn’t make for an easy start. Oh, and my Garmin didn’t start right away, so my distance was slightly off for the whole race, but that’s not the end of the world.

After the first 3/4 mile or so, I had gotten out ahead of the jumble and found a comfy pace. I was surprised at how good I felt considering how sick I was and how little sleep I’d had, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that adrenaline can do surprising things. I started out around a 7:30 pace, sped up for the next few miles, and then settled to just under 8 minute pace until around mile 10. Despite the heat and humidity, the miles ticked by relatively quickly, and I felt good. Shortly after mile 8, I ate my Gu and actually stopped at the water station to make sure I didn’t spill anything–I needed the hydration. I usually run through water stops, but I needed to be sure I got every drop. When I finished the cup, I remember thinking, that’s it?!? I suppose I could’ve walked back and gotten another cup, but I figured I could wait until the next stop.

I did ok until that next water stop, but by then, I was pretty wiped out. I stopped again and drank 2 cups of water, then plodded through the last few miles of the race. By mile 12, I was at a 9:14 pace and just spent. I stopped once more for a drink, then finished ‘er up.

Official chip time: 1:44:36, 25th of 329 women, 7th in my age group

deckers creek half

Honestly? Not mad at that at all. It’s 10 minutes faster than the last time I ran this race (and the conditions were much better that year). All things considered, it was a pretty good run. A tough run, but a good one no less.

Bonus: Manfriend was there (with signage!) cheering me on. This is the first time since I started racing that I’ve actually had a significant other, and it was kind of awesome to have him there. Decker’s Creek is not an easy course to spectate–it’s all on trails that are difficult to access from the road–but he caught me at 3 different spots. Even though I was salty about how hot it was, seeing him definitely made me smile.

Will I run this race again? Maybe. Now that I have more races under my belt, I can see that it leaves some things to be desired, like the congestion at the start, the lack of Gu/gel on the course (they have them for you to pick up pre-race), and the location of the aid stations (it was a little hard to tell when they were coming up, even if you knew the mile marker, they weren’t consistently spaced). I’ve also realized that it’s harder to run a race when there are so few places for people to spectate. I like the energy of the crowd, even if I do have my headphones blasting the whole time. So we’ll see. I really do like the course and the size of the race, so I’ll keep it in my back pocket. But for the immediate future, I want to set my sights on something new. Any suggestions for a fall half?


Training Update

Hey hey party people! Another week of training on the books, and I feel like I’m finally getting back into fighting shape. This week was the best I’ve had yet. As my dad always tells me, training works. Indeed.

Half Marathon #7 Training–Week 4

Monday: 5 miles w/Roo @8:27

Tuesday: 5 miles @7:50 pace <–where did that come from???

Wednesday: OMGawesome tempo run. Got that? I wanted to do 5 miles at or around 8 minute pace. Had the pup with me for the first 2.5 (1 mile warm up, 1.5 mile @tempo), but she did just fine. Dropped her off, and I was on my way for the rest. All told, the breakdown was this:

Mile 1 (warm up): 9:11
Mile 2: 7:55
Mile 3: 8:06 (dropped off the pup halfway through and 1/2 of this mile was uphill :/)
Mile 4: 7:42 (the downhill from mile 3 helped here)
Mile 5: 7:55
Mile 6: 7:33
Mile 7 (cool down): 8:55

But even more exciting than the pace I maintained is the fact that I did the whole hilly thing with NO PAIN. Party.

Thursday: easy 4 miles w/Roo

Friday: shopping in Georgetown REST

Saturday: 12 miles @8:27
The first half of this run wasn’t bad, but I was tiiiired for the last half. The humidity felt like a heavy blanket, and I was just done. Can’t be too bummed given how great I felt the rest of the week, right? Right.

Sunday: Unplanned REST day–lots of sightseeing down on the Mall, and I was Beat (yes, with a capital B) at the end of the day

So. What’s obviously missing? That would be strength training. I don’t even know how it happened, but I totally–unintentionally, I swear–slacked off. Back at it this week. Strength training is NOT optional!


Training Update

Week 3 of training is complete! This past week was a lot better injury-wise, and I’m pretty sure it has something to do with the fact that I didn’t do any speed work. I’ve noticed that when I try to push my pace, my hamstring cramps up pretty quickly and my hip gets tight, but if I keep it a little more moderate, I’m ok. This realization doesn’t make me all that happy, but at least I know I can run without pain even if it is slower than I’d like it to be. Here’s what happened:

Half Marathon #7 Training–Week 3

Monday: 4 miles easy, a lot of random strength training

All Over the Place Workout

Tuesday: 4 miles, easy; Absolute Power (abs) Workout

Wednesday: 6 miles, easy

Thursday: 10 miles with crazy pants

Are we seriously stopping for you to take pictures of me?  I just got bored.

Are we seriously stopping for you to take pictures of me?
I just got bored.

Running with Roo is somewhat challenging. She pulls on my arm the entire time, making it a little tough to stay loose and relaxed, especially over 10 miles. She enjoyed herself on this run. I did not. Even so, I didn’t feel sore because I was too busy wrangling her and kept my pace to 9 minute miles. Not as quick as I would’ve liked, but the absence of pain post-run made up for it. I also just borrowed a Gentle Leader to try on her when we run, and it’s like a miracle. But more on that later.

Friday: REST

Saturday: 5 miles easy, 4 sets of this workout

Sunday: this workout (same as Saturday), and Paula‘s Hurts to Laugh Abs <–kill me

All in all, a decent week. I’m much less sore than I have been, and while I hate that I can’t run as fast as I’d like to, I’d rather finish this upcoming race than run it fast. Right now, I’m focusing on staying healthy and enjoying my training sans speed.

Training Update

I know. I know. I’ve been away for a week. My uncle reminded me when he called last night and asked when I’d be writing a new post.

This blog’s for you, Uncle Jon!

The truth is, I had planned to blog, but, like, LIFE! You know? So here we are. He suggested a post about flowers, which would be lovely, however, maybe not all that interesting. Then again, that suggests that most of what I write actually is interesting. Debatable. So here are flowers:



And now, a training update. The whole training thing is still happening. Here’s the rundown:

Half Marathon #7 Training–Week 2

Monday: 4 miles easy

Tuesday: 3 miles easy with Roo yanking my arm off; This workout and this workout. Yowsa on the legs.

Wednesday: On deck: mile repeats. What actually happened was this: Screen Shot 2013-05-01 at 9.19.40 AM

I tried to set myself up for success by waiting to do that last mile until I had gotten back on flat ground, but the heat got the best of me. As I reminded myself, running these quicker paces doesn’t come naturally to me. I know I can do it, but it is something I have to train for.

Thursday: 4 miles easy, upper body & core work

Friday: REST

Saturday: 11 miles, 6 of them painful . . .

Sunday: this workout, core work

So, that long run on Saturday? Not fun. It’s the hip/back/hamstring issue that I’ve had on and off for the last 14 months. What’s most frustrating is that I don’t know why it keeps coming back. After taking 4 months off, I should be good as new, but that’s not the case. I know it’s not broken because I had it x-rayed, but I’m not sure what else I can do to fix it. I guess it’s back to the doc. I know Amanda recommended Sports + Spinal Physical Therapy here in DC a while back, so I think I’ll look into them. But seriously? UGH! I’d like it if my body would just work, damnit! Getting older is the worst.