Monday, October 31, 2011

Garmin makes it right

My Garmin stopped working properly in late August. The GPS worked fine, but I had to do a soft reset (press and hold lap/reset and mode button) twice every time I wanted the silly thing to turn on. It would charge but wouldn't transfer my workout data to my computer or Garmin Connect.

I got in touch with Garmin support. As suggested, I cleaned the contacts on the watch and charging cradle with alcohol. Still didn't working. I updated the Web Uploader and reinstalled the unit software and USB drivers. Nope, still didn't work. After a few email exchanges, I got the info to send it back for repair/replacement. It was still in warranty (1 year from date of purchase), so all I had to pay for was shipping to Garmin.

Garmin sent me back a brand new GPS. Thank you, Garmin, for your 1-year warranty. Turnaround time from first email contact to replacement GPS in my hands was 11 days. A company with good customer service who stands behind their warranty and makes it right? I'll take it.

I purposely waited for my running hiatus so that I would be without a Garmin at a time when I didn't need one. The only downside is that I "lost" all of my data from late August to mid-October. No Chicago Marathon data. No Amica Half data. I manually entered data into Garmin Connect during that period, but it isn't the same. Oh well. I guess it's better than no data, and it's still massively better than Nike+. I created an Excel file with my times, paces, and mile splits for all of those runs. Some data is better than no data. I needed the mostly functioning Garmin for the Chicago Marathon. I would have had a much different race without a Garmin.

I need a new name for my second Garmin. Goodbye, Rhody G. Hello ... what now?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Working It

This was Week 2 of no running and no real workout schedule. Can I just say that that Body Vive class last week was so simple and yet surprisingly effective? It was fun and worked body parts that I forgot I had.

Sunday - yoga class at the gym. Haven't been to yoga in several weeks because of class cancellations and races. I missed it.

Monday - 35 minutes on the stationary bike, plus lunges, lower back, and abs with an exercise ball. I am definitely better at standing on my left foot (the good foot) than my right foot (the previously injured/misbehaving one).

Tuesday - Strength training. Did upper body, chest, pushups, squats (with kettlebells & an exercise ball), and calf raises.

Wednesday - Rest. Got my flu shot the other day and was feeling tired and very mildly sick. My upper body kinda hated me for increasing my weights. It seemed like a good day to rest. Then suddenly realized that I had to renew my car registration by the end of the month. I never received my renewal notice. Fail, Rhode Island DMV and town where I used to live, big fail. Thank goodness I have a AAA membership. Easy peasy. I walked out of AAA with my new registration and plate stickers in hand. Can't do that at the DMV.

Thursday - 40 minutes on the bike.

Friday - 30 minutes on the bike, plus some planks.

Saturday - tailgating and trying to stay warm at a college football game ;-)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Working It

My workout plan for the week is .... no plan. I am currently not training for anything. This is Week 1 of at least 2 weeks of no running at all. Oh, I have my next race picked out. I've plunked down my registration fee and mapped out my training plan. But I don't have to start thinking about training for a wee bit yet. And so I won't. That's nice. I kinda don't want to think about it. I've been constantly training for one thing or another since August 2010. In that time, I have ran 3 marathons, 4 half marathons, 1 10K, and 2 5Ks (the 10K and one of the half marathons lined up perfectly with my training schedule). While I am not burned out, I need a break. I took the week after the Chicago Marathon very easy. Ran twice and that was it. The half marathon was intentionally easy.

I have a general plan in mind of what I want to do for the week. Then I take it a day or two at a time and go do whatever I feel like. Easy cardio? That sounds good. More strength training? Yes please. Try a new class at the gym? Go for it. Extra rest? Sure. This is the time to be flexible.

Sunday - half marathon at a nice easy pace

Monday - rest

Tuesday - upper body strength training (bicep curls, tricep presses, upright rows, chest presses) and core exercises (abs, lower back, and a couple of planks)

Wednesday - 35 minutes on the stationary bike at the gym. Back to early morning workouts at least a few days a week. Can't do early morning workouts on Tuesdays and Thursdays because of my teaching schedule. I'd have to get up at 4 or 4:30 so I could be at the gym by 5, working out by 5:15, home by 6:30, showered and ready to leave at 7:15, teach my first class, go through the day, and finish teaching my second class at 8pm. Yeah. Not happening. I would be a zombie in the second class, and I do not like having time pressure for my workouts.

Thursday - Rest. It was an out of control busy day anyway.

Friday - 35 minutes on the stationary bike at the gym.

Saturday - Body Vive class at the gym. Low-impact aerobics with balls and resistance bands. I liked it. It was a bit of everything and adaptable to your fitness level.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Amica Marathon Spectator Recap

This is a marathon review from the perspective of a marathoner who didn't run this particular marathon but ran the half instead. The first half of the full marathon course is the half marathon course, and then the marathoners continue on at the half marathon finish line.

I ran and finished the half marathon. You can read about the first half here. Expect to see a beach, Newport Harbor, farms, Ocean Drive, and Newport Mansions.

After I was done with the half marathon, I was waiting for a runner to finish the marathon. So I went out on the course to mile 24. It was only about a mile from the finish line. I had a cow bell and a poster in my gear bag.

The poster was a hit. I got a lot of smiles and thank yous. A runner even stopped to take a picture of my poster. I think marathoners make good marathon spectators because we've been there and we know that support is really really important in those later miles.

The second half of the marathon is essentially an out-and-back in Middletown. While I did not run the full and I am not familiar with that area, my runner said that it is boring. No Newport Mansions or Ocean Drive for you, although parts of it run along a beach. My runner also said it was hilly but no more so than the first half, which I would characterize as rolling hills. Not flat but not unmanageable either. There is less spectator support than the first half. Actually, there isn't much spectator support on the half marathon course either because it is difficult to get to and it isn't heavily populated.

The marathon course is like the Chicago Marathon. I think it would be better if it ran backwards. I don't want interesting scenery first and boring scenery second. I want the interesting stuff at the end where I need motivation to keep going. Amica clearly caters to the half marathon. Kinda unfortunate since the marathon has been running for years and the half marathon was only added in 2009. Oh well, I guess that's the explosion in half marathons over the last few years. It is organized by the same company as Cox Rhode Races. While I would not recommend the Cox Rhode Races Marathon (read my recap here), Amica seemed much better.

Overall, I'd recommend the Amica Marathon. The shirts and medals are pretty. There are aid stations about every 2 miles. Three flavors of Gatorade for those of you who don't like lemon-lime. The post-race food area was restocked for the marathoners, and there was plenty left all the way to the end. I'm not sure what I think about the second half. I don't particularly like the idea of running with the half marathoners the entire way and then splitting off from the half marathon at the half marathon finish line. I don't particularly like the idea of little crowd support in the second half. But I'd consider running the Amica marathon. For 50 Staters, I'd certainly pick it over Cox Rhode Races for a Rhode Island marathon.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Amica/United Healthcare Half Marathon Recap

I ran the Amica/United Healthcare Half Marathon in Newport, RI on October 16, 2011 with two of my running buddies. Amica is easily my favorite half marathon.

I have to put in a word of caution. I ran the Chicago Marathon a week ago (recap here). While I wanted to run the Amica half, I knew to wait until afterwards to see how I felt. Online registration for Amica closed 2 days after Chicago. My legs were a little sore but felt mostly fine, and so I jumped in. I had an easy run on Thursday with no soreness. I knew I was running with a pregnant running buddy and another running buddy who also just ran the Chicago Marathon. We weren't going to break any land speed records. The pregnant running buddy was going to control the pace, walk breaks, and stops at aid stations. Go out and enjoy a nice 13.1 mile run through the most scenic parts of Newport.

The night before, my running buddy and I decided to take old race bibs, write "Pregnant runner support posse" on them, and pin the bibs on the back of our shirts. They were a hit!! We got encouragement all along the race. A lot of people thought we were pregnant too. Hahaha, no. We were just the support runners to keep our pregnant friend company ;-)

The weather was perfect. Partly cloudy at the start, then cleared to sunny. Kinda windy but it was manageable and kept us cool. I'll take windy over nor'easter (this race actually was in a nor'easter in 2009 ... stupidest race ever) any day.

The course is gorgeous. We had such a fun race. I actually got to enjoy the race, look around, and take pictures instead of thinking pace, pace, pace all the time. We chatted with lots of other runners along the way and all finished together. Way to rock it with your running buddies!


At the start
And we're off!

Newport Harbor, complete with cruise ship in Newport for the day and the Newport Bridge in the background

Fort Adams State Park with a different view of the harbor

Farm with moo moos (can't really see the moo moos, but they are there)

Ocean Drive. So beautiful. You can taste the salty sea spray.

I can haz this haus?

One of the aid stations had a construction theme with all sorts of funny signs. This one was good!

Bellevue Ave ... 3 miles to go. Bring on the Newport Mansions

Rosecliff, my personal favorite

The Breakers is the granddaddy of the Newport Mansions

I liked this guy's sign. It said "marathons are for winners." Yes, sir, indeed.

The finish line is waaaaaay off in the distance.

The post-race refreshments were pretty good. They ran out of pizza and bananas (although there were more brought out for the marathoners), but there was plenty of hot chicken soup (the clear winning food choice and perfect for a windy fall day), bagels, and bottled water and Gatorade. Zico was giving out little bottles of coconut water, including the chocolate kind. My running buddies and I got some food, then waited for some other running buddies to finish their first half marathon. We were so proud to see them running along!!

There were some minor organizational kinks, but what race doesn't have that? Overall it was much better than years past. I was expecting a traffic and shuttle bus apocalypse that never happened. Gear check and port-a-potties went smoothly pre-race. The aid stations seemed better organized, or maybe that was just because I was paying more attention to them. Some of the aid stations were themed. Crowd support is minimal because the course is not heavily populated and is not very accessible by car once the race starts. But the pretty scenery makes up for it. I really liked a spectator lady who rode around the course on a bike. We saw her at least 4 or 5 times and she was screaming like mad. She was great!! I am pretty sure she was there last year too.

I knew going into it that we were just running for fun. It is very very different running with a time goal and running for fun. I can see the value of running for fun every once in a while. I did this one to provide morale support and company for my pregnant friend and to get the T-shirt and medal. A nice T-shirt and medal they are.

How to Run a Half Marathon a Week after Running a Marathon

1) Recover quickly from the marathon, or at least feel reasonably OK ... whatever that means to you.
2) Wait until after the marathon to make a decision about the half marathon.
3) Have a good understanding of your own body and how you recover from races.
4) Don't do this for a first-time marathon or half marathon.
5) Take extra rest and do a couple of short easy runs. Legs not sore? You're good to go.
6) Be prepared to take the half marathon easy.
7) Run with running buddies who you absolutely will not abandon.
8) Enjoy your race! Chat with other runners, interact with spectators, take pictures, linger at aid stations, and stop to walk whenever you please.
9) Do it for the T-shirt and medal.
10) Accept your certifiably insane label ;-)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Chicago Marathon Part III

What Went Well

Got a PR – Knocked off 2 minutes 30 seconds off my previous marathon PR (also ran on flat course too, but on a 55 degree day). Would have knocked off more had the heat not gotten to me.

Was prepared to ditch my shirt – I had sunscreen all over me and didn’t have my bib attached to my shirt.

My ankle held up - After flaring up right before taper, it did not hurt at all. Didn't need my sample pack of Biofreeze. Yay.

No quad muscle failure – This is a hugely huge thing that went well. In my first 2 marathons, I started getting twinges of soreness between mile 8-12 and then painful soreness by mile 14. That never happened this time around. Yes, I got kinda sore by mile 21, but it was bearable. All those squats paid off.

Felt strong at mile 20 - I actually picked up the pace a little bit in the 5K split around mile 20. Mile 21, well, that was another story.

Crowd support - Amazing. That is all.

Stayed positive the whole time - This makes the difference between a good race and a bad one. Even after I knew I wasn't going to reach my goal, I figured I'd enjoy the race as much as I could. No need to dwell on what wasn't going well. At least my quads were OK and my feet didn't hurt. I never wanted to give up. I never thought I wouldn't finish. That's a victory.

Post-race recovery – Usually it takes a few days for my legs to get back on speaking terms with me. They never stopped speaking to me this time around. No problems going up and down stairs either. I did a decent amount of walking after the marathon (in the finish area and to the post-race area, then a mile back to my hotel, then a mile and a half in the evening, then several miles the following day). It helped. A lot. While my legs got sore, the soreness was nowhere near as bad as before. Good stuff.

Bank of America Customer Upgrade Area – This was nice. There were snacks, water, Gatorade, a tent and grassy area with picnic tables, extra port-a-potties, and an aluminum water bottle for BoA customers. I went there pre- and post-race. It was quiet and less crowded than other areas pre-race, louder but also less crowded than other areas post-race.

What Went Poorly

The weather – Really, there isn’t anything you can do about the weather. It could have been worse. I think the temperature was about 5 degrees hotter than I thought it was, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the humidity was higher than I thought as well. Small things like that can make a difference. Even still, I trained in weather worse than the marathon. I just didn’t train at my marathon pace.

Went out too fast? - This is questionable but probable. I trained to run BQ pace and I have held BQ pace in a half marathon in worse weather. I held BQ pace for the first half on the nose. And then the heat got to me. Badly.

My official splits. You can clearly see where I decided to slow down after the halfway point. Major side eye to that 10:42 split. That was just dumb on my part, although I'm pretty sure that's where the heat was the worst.

Positive splits - Also known as crash and burn. Running fast to bank time in the first half and then hoping you can hold on for the second half is not the way to run a marathon. Mardi Gras was the closest I've come to even splits where there was a difference of 2 minutes 15 seconds between my first half and second half. I've never managed to run negative splits in a marathon. Maybe next time with the right weather.

The weather, again - Chicago has a history of being hot. I knew this and decided to register anyway. While it wasn't as bad as years past, it was enough to significantly affect performance. It really didn’t feel that bad. I never overheated. I just think it was deceptively warm and deceptively humid.

Ended dehydrated - I drank water at every stop til mile 3 and then Gatorade and water at every water stop after mile 3, AND I had a Fuelbelt with my own supply of water and Gatorade. And yet I still ended up dehydrated at the finish line. If I really think about it, I was showing signs of dehydration from about mile 6 ... I’m not exactly sure. At least I recognized that I recognized that and knew I needed not just water but electrolytes as well. I was trying to walk the fine line between overhydration and underhydration. In the end, I didn't walk that line the right way.

Immediate post-finish - I felt OK for the first 10 minutes but then felt nauseous. For me, nausea is a classic dehydration sign. I have enough running experience that I have ran to the point of bad dehydration before (I don’t recommend it because it feels miserable). I knew what was happening almost immediately. Sat down on a curb. Tried to stand up. Oh hell no. Sat back down again as my stomach decided it did not want what I was trying to put in it. But then I felt better. I’ve had this happen before, usually in the summer or when it is hot or very humid. I knew it would pass. I stayed put for another few minutes, successfully stood up, and made my way out of the runners only area. I felt better once I got water and food back into my stomach.

What Just Was

GPS devices - If you are using a Garmin in Chicago, I’d suggest using it for time not pace. My distance was off from the very beginning, due to underpasses, tall buildings, and the large amounts of runners interfering with satellite connections. My distance was off by over half a mile by the end of the race. I knew this was going to be problem running through a city. So I went off time (which meant I needed to calculate approximate mile splits in my head ... that’s a good way to keep your mind occupied) and not the pace on the Garmin.

Now that I am a little more removed, I'd still run Chicago again. It is not perfect, and you need to be aware of what you're going into. You need to know it is a very large race and it could be hot. I think the positive aspects outweigh the negative ones. Expect to be greeted well by thousands of volunteers and over a million spectators as you run through the streets of Chicago.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Running =/= Strong Legs: The Verdict

Yeah yeah, I still have a few more Chicago Marathon posts left. Sorry, just bear with me.

My legs felt pretty much back to normal today. I went for an easy 4 mile run on the treadmill. My legs held up perfectly. I have never had a good run so soon after a marathon before.

In fact, my legs never really hurt too much either during or after the marathon. My calves did not hurt at all (thank you, Zensah compression sleeves). My quads were sore but not nearly as bad as after marathon #1 and #2. My quads did not fail on me like they did in marathon #1 and #2. Hallelujah.

What's the secret?

I started doing squats using an exercise ball with two 12 kg kettlebells. 3 sets of 20 reps once a week. And maybe lunges with one foot on the exercise ball, but I think it was mostly squats. It wasn't a huge extra time commitment and yet strength training on my legs made such a big difference.

Running does not mean strong legs. I get the need for strength training. The verdict? Strength training works.

Chicago Marathon Part II

Top 10 Reasons Why I Would Run the Chicago Marathon Again

1. The course is flat. There are a few inclines, including one just before the finish line. Other than that, it is a pancake. I never even saw an elevation chart.
2. It was really fun. Music, dancers, bands, cheering crowds, signs, and all sorts of random things will greet you on your 26.2 mile tour of the city of Chicago.
3. You will never run alone.
4. Over 1.7 million spectators line the streets to cheer you on. The crowds were best in the entire first half, around miles 20-21 in Chinatown, and the last 2 miles.
5. All of the aid stations were well-stocked and well-organized. At least, they were all fine when I went by. There were signs for the aid stations before you even saw them, so you knew they were coming up.
6. The expo is giant. I got to meet Hal Higdon. How can you argue with that?
7. Chicago has nice architecture. You will see a lot of it on the marathon.
8. Chicago becomes a runner's playground in the days around the marathon. Wear your T-shirt or medal afterwards and random people will congratulate you or ask you about the marathon.
9. It is one of the World Marathon Majors.
10. If I lived closer, I would run Chicago every year. It had the best combination of an interesting course, lots of spectators, and good course support out of the races I have participated in.

Top 5 Reasons Why I Would Not Run the Chicago Marathon Again

1. The weather is usually not conducive to good marathon performances. It seems like it is either too hot or too cold, more times that not too hot. No happy medium. I think I could have BQed had it not been for the weather.
2. Most of the second half of the course is not as interesting as the first half. There are fewer spectators and less shade.
3. If you have to travel, it is expensive. I refuse to think about how much money I spent on 3 nights in a hotel, airfare, marathon registration, food, sightseeing, and marathon gear.
4. It is a very large race. Large races are not everyone's cup of tea. The expo, the start, the course itself, the aid stations, and the finish are all crowded. Not swamped but definitely crowded. You need to be careful about tripping over or running into other runners. Over 35,000 runners finished the Chicago Marathon this year.
5. You need a good spectator plan. It is very difficult for a spectator to see their runner or vice versa.

All in all, Chicago is a fun, large, well-organized, and well-supported race. The biggest caveat is the weather. I'd have to think about it, but I'd probably run it again.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Chicago Marathon Recap

I ran the Chicago Marathon on October 9, 2011. This race has a history of being hot. It wasn’t as bad as some years, but it was hot enough to slow almost everyone down. While I didn’t get the BQ I had trained to run, I set a new marathon PR and had fun doing it.

The race expo was gigantic.

I got to meet Hal Higdon! And he signed my marathon book.

Ready to start on Sunday morning

Here's the mile-by-mile breakdown:

Mile 1-3 - The Loop in downtown Chicago. I really liked the architecture in Chicago. The beginning was crowded. There was only one part in the first mile or two on a narrow(er) street where I had to slow down. That’s probably a good thing. I knew I had to be careful about going out too fast. The crowding made that difficult to do. When I hit the 5K mark, I thought I was running too slow but then realized that I was just about where I wanted to be.

Mile 4-7 - LaSalle Drive heading north, then Lincoln Park. I like parks.

Mile 8-11 - This part was very pretty. Brownstone buildings, lots of spectators. If you look out for the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower, you can use it as a reference point. Head north, then back, head west, then back, head south, then back. If you know to look for the Willis Tower just before mile 8, you will know where you are. I didn't see the Willis Tower, but I did catch a glimpse of the John Hancock Building, the other tall black building with antennas. I hit my planned pace on the nose for several miles. Oddly enough, I walked along mile 11 later in the day and did not recognize it at all.

Mile 12 - I honestly couldn’t tell you. Somewhere in downtown Chicago. At least it was shady. I got confused about where I was. I thought I was at mile 12 but was still in mile 11. I think the course goes very close to the Willis Tower and yet I completely missed it. My husband was spectating on a bridge. He did not see me. I did not see him. A note to spectators. Bright signs and distinctive clothing are not enough. We should have gone with a mylar helium balloon.

I am not in this picture, but this is what the marathon looked like around mile 12.

Mile 13 – Halfway done in 1:46:15. I was on pace to qualify for Boston and only about 30 seconds off my half marathon PR. I decided halfway was a good time to take my tank top off, take a walk break, and whip out my iPod. I was also dehydrated but mostly unaware of it at that point.

Mile 14-17 – Eh. I kinda don’t remember much about this part. Headed west out from downtown Chicago. The scenery and crowd support were OK but not as good as the first half. The charity cheer zone around mile 14 was fun. There was less shade (although I was expecting no shade and there was some shade). The heat was catching up with me. Started slowing down a bit. I felt kinda nauseous around mile 15. Ate some pretzels?

Mile 18-19 – I pulled out my race cheat sheet, a little piece of paper with paces and times. While I still had time to make a move and was close to BQ pace, I knew I needed to speed up to make it. That was not going to happen. So I slowed down again. Took more walk breaks. Stepped to the side to walk and drink water and Gatorade. Ate more pretzels. I figured I could still get a PR. Just enjoy the race and get my money’s worth by being out on the course longer.

Mile 20 – The nauseous feeling from mile 15 or so had gone away. I picked up the pace a bit here. I was feeling better. My legs were still feeling OK, too. Well, that was a victory. I don’t remember my exact 20 mile time, but it was my fastest 20 miles in a marathon yet. Another victory.

Mile 21 – Chinatown. Lots of crowds. The wheels started falling off around this point. But this time it wasn’t because my legs hurt. It was the heat. At a certain point, there isn’t much you can do to beat the heat. So my plan was to hold on.

Mile 22 – Eh. I kinda don’t remember much about this part either. Except for a bunch of people giving out little cups of beer. I was really tempted to take one (because a marathoner I met several months ago described beer in a marathon as “sweet nectar of the gods”). But I resisted. Kinda knew I was dehydrated. Beer would only make that worse.

Mile 23 – The heat was really starting to get to me. Full sun by a highway. The temperature was rising. Slowest 5K split of the entire marathon. Saw a runner go down, probably because of the heat. I tripped on a runner at a water stop (didn’t fall but later realized that I got a nasty blister on a toe that had been giving me trouble since May). The course finally started turning north towards the finish line. 5K to go. Rebel Yell by Billy Idol came on my iPod. More more more.

Mile 24-25 – Straight north up Michigan Ave. I was expecting more full sun and was pleasantly surprised that there was a little bit of shade. Two miles to go, then 1 mile to go. The crowds were getting loud again. The Willis Tower was getting bigger and bigger.

Mile 26 – There is a lot of hype about the bridge/hill at the very end of marathon, right before you turn left to see the finish line. Maybe I am used to hills, but I didn’t think it was that bad. Or maybe it was because I knew it was there. Or maybe it was all the spectators.

Mile 26.2 – Slight downhill to the finish line. There were a lot of spectators in bleachers, but I honestly do not remember hearing them. I was a marathoner for the third time. 3:53 flat on my Garmin, but I knew I had a few seconds of wiggle room. Official finish time was 3:52:56. New marathon PR by a few minutes. All things considered, I’ll call that a win.

I felt fine at the finish but didn’t feel fine about 10 minutes afterwards. My stomach decided it did not want what I was trying to put in it. Thankfully (I guess?), this very thing has happened to me before. I knew this was classic dehydration for me. Sat down, let my stomach do its thing, and then started to feel better. I got up, made my way out of the runners only area, found my husband (nightmare ... he had to stand next to someone with a helium balloon), walked to the post-race party area, and started getting food and water back in my system. I knew I was fine once I could eat and drink again.

Back to all smiles at Cloud Gate aka The Bean

Would I run Chicago again? Yes. The course is crowded, flat, well-supported, and lined with spectators. There are some big caveats, though. More on that later.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Marathon Training - All Wrapped Up

I ran 3.4 easy miles today.

And so concludes training for the Chicago Marathon. I skipped a handful of workouts and made some adjustments here and there, but overall I stuck to my plan pretty closely. Consistency is what gets you the performance you want.

If I had to name the single most helpful thing in this training cycle, it would be getting a Garmin. I needed an accurate sense of pace. If you consistently practice hitting a particular pace, that pace becomes second nature. You push the button and go. You know what effort level goes along with that pace. Nike+ was good enough for a very long time. Good enough is not enough to take me to the next level.

I ran faster, even though the dog days of summer. I should have ran slower. And yet I didn't. I taught myself to drink Gatorade and eat pretzels. I have a sense of how warmth affects me and how to handle it. I ran my fastest long distance summertime race pace of all time. I set a half marathon PR in rain (warm rain, but rain nonetheless). Good stuff.

I got injured right before taper. Flareup of the pain in my ankle/heel. Again. Past me would have continued to run. Present me recognized that I needed to do something immediately, because future me has lofty goals. I took some extra rest days. I didn't do my second 20 mile run, but I did a 3-hour endurance workout with two 7 mile treadmill runs with an hour on a stationary bike sandwiched in between. Almost no pain, and it was actually fun. Backing off worked. I took a potential setback and turned it into a confidence booster.

Hopefully, I will take what went well at the Mardi Gras Marathon and what went poorly at the Cox Marathon and learn from them. Mardi Gras was a smart race. Cox was a stupid race. Mardi Gras couldn't have gone any better if I had tried. Oh right, I did. I went out conservatively, had an appropriate goal, met the goal, and had tons of fun. Cox was a failed attempt at a Boston Qualifier/Gansett Qualifier. Cox was one of those races where if it could go wrong, it did go wrong. I went out too fast, used all my mental energy in the beginning when I should have saved it for the end, had my timing device fail on me, mentally and physically lost it halfway through, and left all of my goals out on the course. In hindsight, I probably had an overly ambitious goal and was coming back from an injury. Pretty much the only successful part of Cox was that I never wanted to quit or thought I wouldn't finish.

I sometimes think that not meeting your goals motivates you to work harder next time.

Next time is here. I am ready to get the Chicago Marathon on the road. Let's see if I can run 26.2 miles in 3 hours 35 minutes or less. This time, I began lining up all my cards in a row from the get go. 3 hours 35 minutes has been in the back of my mind since early June when I started training.

I don't know if I will reach my goal in Chicago. The weather could get to me (The weather is a big monkey wrench right now. For now, I am sticking with 3 hours 35 minutes. But that is very likely to change). I still might have an overly ambitious goal. I could fail again.

I won't know unless I try. Survive the pain. Yes I can. Yes I can. Yes I can. Yes I can. Right here right now. I can. I will. Endure.

Flying off to Chicago in the AM ...

Marathon Training Week 18

My training plan for the week was cross-train or rest, run 3, 4, and 3 miles, rest, 2 mile run (Seriously? What is a 2 mile run? Why even bother. I am not doing that), and rest. And then that 26.2 mile long haul that is the Chicago Marathon. Last week of taper. BRING IT BABY!!

Sunday – yoga on demand. Kinda sad that my yoga class at the gym was cancelled.

Monday – 3.7 mile run, plus abs and lower back. Did 2 sets of lunges in the evening. Done with leg strength training til after Chicago. Had to reel in the pace in the beginning because it was just the right temperature on a beautiful morning. Or maybe it was because the first half mile was downhill.

Tuesday – 4.2 mile run, plus 2 sets of upper body exercises at the gym. Completely done with strength training til after Chicago. Felt really spacy on the run and I am not sure why. Oh well. Pace was about the same as Monday.

Wednesday – 3.4 mile run. Cruised through it at a very easy pace.

Thursday – Rest day.

Friday – 3.4 mile run. Last run til Chi-Town. I think the Beastie Boys said no sleep til Brooklyn, but I'll take last run til Chi-Town. Ran at the same pace as Wednesday and felt like I could cruise along forever. The pace? Was the same as my overall pace in my first marathon.

Saturday - The plan is rest, and some walking around the marathon expo and the city of Chicago.

Sunday - Chicago Marathon. Stay tuned.

Total Miles: Scheduled (not counting the marathon) – 12 Actual – 14.7

Monday, October 3, 2011

More Music

New editions to my running playlist (that I still don't really use for running):

Switchfoot - Dark Horses
Switchfoot - The War Inside
Gym Class Heroes (featuring Adam Levine) - Stereo Hearts
Foster the People - Helena Beat
Hot Chelle Rae - Tonight Tonight
Cobra Starship - You Make Me Feel
Black Eyed Peas - Don't Stop the Party

Some of these will be tucked on my iPod for the Chicago Marathon. My plan is to run without music as long as I can and then turn it on when I need it.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Marathon Training Week 17

My training plan for the week was cross-train, run 4, 5, and 4 miles, rest, 3 mile run, and 8 mile long run. Huh, look at that. A regular running week.

I started phasing out some of my strength training, especially my legs. I can see that my quad muscles are stronger. I am really hoping that I will avoid the massive quad muscle failure that happened in both of my marathons. Or at least this time I know that yes, it hurts, but yes, it's just part of the game and I can push through it. I am still going to yoga once a week. That's not going to change.

Sunday – yoga class, plus lunges (2 sets instead of 3 as usual).

Monday – 4.2 mile run, plus abs and lower back exercises. Nice easy pace. Humid. Hey, weather, it's about time to drop the humidity. Thanks.

Tuesday – 5.2 mile run, plus upper body exercises (3 sets as usual) and squats (2 sets instead of 3 as usual). Kept the pace pretty easy. Reeeeallly not feeling the humidity, though. Where are those crisp fall days? Did my strength training on Tuesday because I had more flexibility with my schedule. I kinda like teaching one class, going home, exercising, doing work, and then going back to teach my second class.

Wednesday – 4.4 mile run in the PM, then planks and pushups when I got home.

Thursday – Rest day.

Friday – 8.2 mile run. Last long run on the books. I switched the 8 mile long run and 3 mile run because I was running a 5K on Saturday. Started the run in the dark and finished when it was light out. I got to see the sun rise for the first time in a long time. I had a ridiculous amount of reflective stuff. My shoes, pants, arm sleeves, Fuelbelt, headband, and vest all had reflective strips. Ran negative splits without realizing it.

Saturday - Local 5K that I ran, not raced. I thought of it as doing a training run with a bunch of other people with a T-shirt and refreshments thrown in. And yet I ran it in 23:29. I was not pushing the pace. Seriously? Something must be working. I was the 4th female overall and 1st in my age category. I also got a special prize for being the first female faculty member (the race was sponsored by one of the universities I work for). Not too shabby. I learned that the pack will go out too fast and that I am not competing against anyone other than me. It is also important to note that the pace felt easy and yet I knew it was faster than I wanted to run. This is helpful info to realize going into Chicago.

Total Miles: Scheduled – 24 Actual – 25.1

September Mileage: Scheduled - 151 Actual - 148.8

Onto October

October 2009 - Good Things in Threes

1. I ran a half marathon in a nor'easter in Newport, RI. It was one of the stupidest things I have ever done. Sideways rain? No thank you. I remember standing at the start line reassessing my time goal and my sanity. I have very little desire to run in weather like that ever again. BUT I can proudly say that I survived and finished well under my goal of 2 hours. Even though it wasn't my fastest half marathon, it was one of my strongest performances. I felt like I could do anything after slogging along in cold wind-driven rain for 13.1 miles.

2. The following weekend, I ran a local 5-mile race. I didn't pre-register because I wasn't sure how I would feel after the half marathon. I was close to defending my dissertation, and I wasn't sure I'd have enough extra time. Boy, am I glad I decided to do it at the last minute. I was the third female finisher! For my $20 entry fee, I got a long-sleeve T-shirt, a banana, a bottle of Vitamin water, a nice buffet lunch, and a $50 cash prize. Score!

3. Then I defended my dissertation 10 days after the nor'easter race and 4 days after the local 5 miler. I can honestly say the half marathon was harder than the dissertation defense. Or maybe it was the confidence boost from kicking asphalt in Newport.

October 2010 - Run, PR, Repeat

1. Ran a half marathon (Divas Half Marathon in Long Island) a week after running my first ever 20 mile run (for no reason ... I didn't need to run that far). I signed up one week in advance. Newport was my target race, but my training had gone better than I expected. I set a half marathon PR at Divas by a minute and a half.

2. Ran 12 miles the following weekend while on vacation in Vermont. Then ran the Newport half marathon the weekend after that. Anything would have been better than the nor'easter. Race morning was cool and sunny. Perfect running weather. I set my half marathon PR again by a minute and a half.

3. I was pleased with my half marathon performance, and so I registered for my first marathon. I had been seriously contemplating marathons for almost a year. It was time to do it.

October 2011

Stay tuned