Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November Running Summary

Last post for NaBloPoMo. Woo! I made it. I am not sure I am ever going to attempt to post every day for a month again. It is very much like a marathon. See, it all relates to running.

Anywho. Here are November's running stats. Half rebuilding my mileage and half marathon training. Pace is right where I want it to be. Good stuff.

Total Miles: 108.2
Total Runs: 21
Average Pace: 7.1 mph/8:27 per mile
Average Distance: 5.15 miles

I am on track to cap out around 1350 miles for the year, my highest yearly mileage ever. That's about 350 miles more than last year, even with several injuries and 5 weeks total with no running after marathons. So far in 2011, I ran ~1230 miles. I'm already well over last year's total, and there's still a full month left to go.

That is a lot of miles out on the Rhode.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Everything I learned about {insert anything here} ...

... I learned from running.

Set goals.
Work hard.
Persist in the face of pain.
Try again if you don't get it right the first time.
Celebrate when you meet your goals.

If I had to sum it up in a phrase, it would be this. Plan but adapt.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Running in the Winter

One of the benefits of living in Rhode Island is that it generally doesn't snow too much, in part because we're not too far from the coast and stay warmer than areas farther inland. But it still snows (last winter we had storms on Wednesday for a month straight) and it's still something to be aware of if you plan to run outside in the winter. I'm actually disappointed that I haven't had a chance to run while it was snowing. Of course, now that I've said that, we're guaranteed to get snow.

Some more tips of random that I learned in my first winter running outside:

1. Be very mindful of your feet. Yes, you will slip. But you may not fall. Your balance will improve as you learn how to catch yourself when you slip.

2. Packed snow and "crunchy" ice are OK.

3. Deep snow and sheets of ice are not OK.

4. Be on the lookout for ice patches, especially black ice patches or ones that are hiding under thin layers of snow. If you are on the road, look out for potholes and sand piles.

5. Yaktrax or other contraptions provide extra traction. They slide over your sneakers. My current pair is designed for walking, but I've ran in them with no problems. Plus I couldn't beat the price. $1.99 still in the package at a thrift store. I'll upgrade to the Pros if/when my current pair breaks.

6. Sun + snow on the ground = blinding snow glare. Wear your sunglasses.

7. Like Christmas lights? Grab a running partner and run around a neighborhood in the evening.

8. Get creative with your running routes. The bike path I use for long runs isn't passable when snow is on the ground. So I switch to a 3ish mile loop on a road with a wide shoulder. It is always plowed and clear down to the pavement no later than one day after significant snowfall. Lemme tell you about the fun I had doing 20 miles around and around and around and around and around that loop. Yeah. Not sure if I'd call it fun, but it certainly gave me practice at using my mental skills.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday Thoughts O'Random

I have 4 classes left to teach plus a final exam. At the beginning of the semester, it seemed like the end was far far away. It'll be done in about 2 weeks. Yay.

While I like teaching and I'm sure I will teach this class again in the future, it made me realize that I do not want to be a university professor (unless it's a purely teaching position, but those types of jobs are few and far between). Oh, I was already pretty sure I didn't want an academic job, but now I am certain I don't want one.

I could never think more than 2 or 3 days ahead. It was always "what do I need to do right now that I cannot do later?" I was up by 6am and doing stuff til 9:30-10pm. Every. Day. I can't keep up at that pace long-term.

I held 2 jobs AND ran a marathon AND traveled a lot this semester. It was one of those very busy times where I look back and honestly can't figure out how everything got done. But it did.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Marathon Training Week 2

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 3, 5, and 3 miles, rest, 5 mile run, and 9 mile long run.

Sunday - yoga class, plus calf raises, abs, lower back, and lunges.

Monday - 4 mile run. Was going to run after work in the dark, but then decided that I'd rather not run in the dark and went a little earlier. Thank you, flexible work schedule. It was faster than it should have been, especially considering hills. But I'll take it. I am trying to run a little faster this training cycle. As long as I don't do this on every run.

Tuesday - 5.2 mile run. I usually go to the gym on Tuesdays but didn't have time to leave campus. Much slower than Monday, which is what I needed. That pesky ankle was kinda bothering me. Hrmmm.

Wednesday - 3.6 mile run on the treadmill, plus upper body strength training and squats. Went to the gym early in the morning because 1) the gym is much less crowded in the morning than in the evening and 2) I didn't want to run outside in the evening on a deserted college campus and 3) it was raining and 4) I needed to do my strength training since I couldn't do it on Tuesday.

Thursday - Rest. Just happened to line up with Thanksgiving.

Friday - 5.5 mile run, plus pushups and a few planks. Haven't run 5 miles in my area in a while, so I overestimated the distance a little bit. Pace was fairly consistent in the low 8:20s ... until mile 4 when I ran up a steep hill. Short hill but steep hill nonetheless. Pace was in the mid 8:20s overall. I think this running slightly faster business will work out.

Saturday - 10.2 mile run. Was slightly chilly but comfortable enough to run in thin tights and a short-sleeve shirt (once I got warmed up). Part of the bike path where I do long runs is closed for construction. Boo hiss. I'm going to have to get creative with my running routes.

Total Miles: Scheduled - 25 Actual - 28.5

Friday, November 25, 2011

Running on a Treadmill

Let's face it. This is the time of year where it isn't always practical, feasible, or safe to run outside all the time. Make friends with the treadmill, or at least try to be friends with the treadmill. I promise running on a treadmill is better than no run.

I've gone as long as 14 miles on a treadmill. While it wasn't easy, it wasn't unbearable either. I think I learned more from running 14 miles on a treadmill than running 20 miles outside.

Random tips for keeping yourself on the "hamster wheel" (or dreadmill, but I prefer hamster wheel):

1. Set the incline to at least 1%. The forward motion of the belt actually mimics running downhill.
2. If you are switching from running outside, don't switch too abruptly. Like anything in running, you don't want to make sudden changes.
3. Expect it to be different. Some people find it easier while others find it harder to run on a treadmill.
4. Find ways to entertain yourself. Program your mp3 player with your favorite tunes, watch a movie or TV, and make up games.
5. Practice your mental skills. It is not always easy to keep yourself motivated to stay on the treadmill.
6. Vary the inclines and speeds. It'll help to keep you from getting bored. Plus intervals are good for you.
7. Put something over the time/distance display, especially if you are tempted to constantly look at it.
8. It is possible to do long runs on the treadmill. Break it up into smaller pieces, say 5-7 miles. Plan breaks to fill up your water bottle, go to the bathroom, and get some fuel.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today I am thankful for:

being able to run
my marathon medals
my running buddies
cranberry sauce
Rhode Island
my Costco membership
my quantitative skills
hopefully living with my husband soon

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down

Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down

Some new finds:

Thumbs Up

Clif Kid Z bars - the kid-version of Clif bars. The Chocolate Brownie kind is pretty close to a chocolate brownie. Yes, I am not-so-secretly 5 years old.

Roasted salted sunflower seeds from Trader Joe's - these little guys pack a lot of calories in a small portion, but that's exactly why I like them. I portion them out into a little container with a handful of dried cranberries or dried cherries. Easy portable snack.

Half Thumbs Up/Half Thumbs Down

Old Navy hooded long-sleeve running shirt - I like that it has thumbholes, cute ruching on the cuffs, a small zippered pocket, and a half zip so that I can zip it down if I am too hot or pull over my head easily. I don't like that the hood doesn't stay up while running. It would be better with a drawstring. ON claims it has a reflective strip on the hood, but I don't think the strip is reflective. It's a decent running shirt, though. Worth the $15 I paid for it on sale, but probably not worth the $30 regular price.

Thumbs Down

Nothing, really.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Running Safely

Some more tips of random and a few ways to stay safe. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list. Just whatever I could think of.

1. Wear bright colors. This is particularly important in the dark but is true for daylight as well. The brighter the better.
2. Run against traffic if you are on the road.
3. Never ever assume a driver sees you. You will never win against a vehicle.
4. Pay particular attention to cars that are turning right. The driver is looking left and may not have seen you
5. Run with a partner.
6. Run with a dog.
7. Let someone know your route and when you might return.
8. Carry identification, or get a RoadID.
9. Carry your phone. Program an ICE (in case of emergency) contact into your phone book.
10. If you run with music, consider ditching the headphones. Or at least turn the volume low enough so that you can still hear what's going on around you.
11. Keep your eyes and ears peeled. Be aware of your surroundings.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Running Buddies

I was a solo runner for a very long time. Just me and my iPod.

Then I literally ran into a group of friends while I was running alone. I ran a couple miles with them and headed back to where I had started on my own. I ran with them again a few weeks later. And the rest is history.

I can honestly say I have become a better runner because of my running buddies. I never would have ran my first 20 mile run without them. That was the confidence boost I needed to commit to my first marathon. Oh, I had been contemplating marathons for a while but hadn't made the leap yet. If I could run 20 miles when I really didn't need to, I was ready for a marathon.

We run at different paces, but we'll sometimes start together and then see each other along the way. We chat about anything and everything. The miles tick along. We ordered custom Bondi Bands with the name of our running group. Most of us ran a 10K wearing our Bondi Bands and the same pink tank top. We have a Facebook group and meet for dinner or breakfast (after long runs) every once in a while.

My running buddies motivate me to work hard and reach my goals. We commiserate with each others' challenges and celebrate each others' victories. That is priceless.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Thoughts O' Random

This posting every day for a month thing is hard. Well, not really. It's harder to remember to post every day than to think of something to write about.

I kinda want a tablet PC. Probably not an iPad. It would be more convenient for traveling than dragging my laptop around. Plus I have to practice my Angry Birds skills. I was really really really bad at Angry Birds at first. I'm getting better, though.

I will miss Rhode Island when I move in the next few months. It is a small strange nice place.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Marathon Training Week 1

This is my first week training for the Shamrock Marathon on March 18 in Virginia Beach. Yay for being back on a training plan. Once again, I am using Hal Higdon's Intermediate I. I would step up to Intermediate II, but my job and living situations are in flux. I'm not sure I have the flexibility to run extra miles. That said, I might bump up the mileage slightly here and there.

I am still training to attempt a Boston Qualifier/Gansett Qualifier. I have a feeling Gansett's qualifying standards will drop for 2013. If that is the case, my best shot is to try hard for 2012. We'll see what happens when I get out there on March 18.

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 3, 5, and 3 miles, rest, 5 mile pace run, and 8 mile long run. Once again, I shifted Hal's plan by one day. I like doing my long runs on Saturdays and I go to power yoga on Sundays for "active" rest/cross-training. So, yeah, I have a plan again, but it's not much different from what I would do normally. At least not at this point.

Sunday - 3.7 mile run in the DC area. Except for The Mall and the banks of the Potomac River, DC is very hilly. Doesn't matter where you go. It's hilly. Switched Sunday's and Monday's workouts because I was traveling.

Monday - yoga on demand. We just switched from cable to Verizon Fios, so I had new on demand yoga videos to choose from. Wasn't overly impressed with the first yoga video I tried. It was a little too advanced for me. Arm balances in a yoga video? Riiiiight. Oh well, there are more. Also did lunges, abs, lower back, and calf raises.

Tuesday - 5.2 mile run. It was too fast, especially since it was warm. But it was a needed confidence boost. I finally kicked the cold that I had had for almost a week. I had a new pair of shoes, so maybe that was part of it. Then did upper body lifting and squats at the gym.

Wednesday - 3.7 mile run in the dark. First run in complete darkness since ... February? Bonus points for rain as well as darkness. Got out a reflective vest, reflective hat, reflective arm sleeves, white T-shirt (thanks, Chicago Marathon), and red blinky light from my Amica swag bag. It felt like I was running really fast, but then I looked at R2 (new Garmin) and realized I wasn't fast at all. Ha ha. Oops. I generally do my darkness runs in well-lit areas of a college campus. Even though there are people around and emergency lights in sight just about all the time, I always carry my phone in my Spibelt. And wear my RoadID on my shoe. Then did a few planks when I got home.

Thursday - rest

Friday - 5.2 mile pace run on the treadmill. Set the speed to 7.7mph (7:45ish pace) and off I went. Started out my first pace run of this training cycle exactly the same as my first pace run of last training cycle. On the treadmill. Then, it was because I didn't know how to pace myself appropriately. Now, it is because it is too dark to run outside in the morning. Bah. But it was also because it's been a while since I've done pace runs and I need some help getting used to them again. While it was somewhat challenging, I never thought "What have I gotten myself into?" this time around. I know pace runs are supposed to be challenging and I know they will get easier as I run on. Yay.

Saturday - 9.2 mile run. Chilly and sunny but was appropriately dressed. Pace was all over the place but was reasonable overall. The last mile was at marathon goal pace. For some reason, my Fuelbelt did not want to stay put. Oh well. It happens.

Total Miles: Scheduled - 24 Actual - 27

One week down, 17 to go. Sham Rock On!

Friday, November 18, 2011

2011 Races in Review

Here's the breakdown of my 2011 in races. I am moving sometime in the next few months, so this year was the last chance for me to do my regular races in Rhode Island. Too bad. I will miss a lot of these. I also traveled to 2 big races this year. That's new to me.

I realized that I ran more races than I thought I did. I thought it was more like 4 races. Ha. Who knew? There's still a possibility of one or two more 5Ks, but I doubt it. I'd want to try to PR but could potentially injure myself. My focus is marathon training.

Rock N Roll Mardi Gras Marathon, New Orleans, LA
My first marathon and a race I would definitely do again. Flat, mostly interesting course, well-organized, and tons of fun.

Cox Rhode Races Marathon, Providence, RI - Eh. The marathon is an OK choice for locals, but I'd seriously think about running it again. There are some issues with the course and limited crowd support, especially in the last 2 miles.

Harvard Pilgrim 10K, Foxboro, MA - 4th of July-themed race. The best part of this race is finishing on the field in Gillette Stadium. There are a lot of cons, though. It can be hot and humid, no electrolyte drinks, no tech shirt, the course is crowded, etc.

Rock N Roll Providence Half Marathon, Providence, RI - There were some extra hitches because it was an inaugural half marathon, but otherwise pretty much what I expected from Rock N Roll. Moderately hilly on a similar course to the Cox Rhode Races Half Marathon.

Rhode Island College Homecoming 5K, Providence, RI - small local 5K. Hopefully it will be back next year.
Chicago Marathon, Chicago, IL - Amazing crowd support, flat, and generally well-run. If it wasn't so expensive and if registration was open longer, I'd run it again.
Amica/United Healthcare Half Marathon, Newport, RI - My favorite half marathon by far. Moderately hilly. Had a really fun time running through the scenic parts of Newport. I would come back to Rhode Island just to run this race.

Total races: 7
Total miles: 114.1

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Boston Marathon

This week kicks off training for another attempt at a Boston Qualifier. Third try is the charm?

I have spectated at the Boston Marathon twice, oh, about 10 years ago. My undergrad degree is from Boston College, which is on the marathon route at the top of Heartbreak Hill at mile 21.

I missed the marathon twice because I wasn't in Boston. The marathon is held on Patriots Day, the third Monday of April. Marathon Monday tends to coincide with Easter. Those two years, I was on my way back to Boston as thousands of runners were trekking 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston. I made the mistake one year of getting off a train at Back Back thinking I could walk a couple blocks to the Copley T stop. Haha, no. I conveniently forgot that the marathon finish line is at Copley and the Copley T station was closed all day. Oops.

I don't think I fully appreciated the Boston Marathon while I was a student. I wasn't running when I was an undergrad. I didn't realize that Boston is the holy grail of marathons for many marathoners and marathoner-hopefuls. I seriously did not know that Heartbreak Hill was Heartbreak Hill until I was a sophomore or junior. In itself, Heartbreak is not that bad of a hill (and yes, I have ran up Heartbreak Hill, including at the end of a 20-mile long run). It's just in a psychologically bad place on the marathon route after several other hills.

One of my running buddies ran Boston this year. We did some long runs on the Newton hills. BC is a pretty good spot to use as a base for a long run. As a former BC student, I knew you can park for free at BC on the weekends (except during home football games in the fall ... then do not try to get anywhere near BC). I know where all the bathrooms are. It's easy to do a run of any distance. Say, 20 miles. Run 5 miles into Boston, run back to BC, run 5 miles on the Commonwealth Ave carriage road or along the marathon route, and run back to BC again. You will see tons of other people out training for Boston. You will see people with charity shirts or marathon shirts or hydration belts. It is one giant running club.

I don't know how long it will take me to qualify for Boston. But I do know one thing. I WILL qualify.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Animal Levity

This is an extra random entry because I am trying to blog about something every day this month. Halfway there as of yesterday.

Who doesn't like funny talking animals with British accents??

This one is a favorite as well.

More funny talking animals with British accents

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Running in the Cold

It was unseasonably warm last week and the last few days in my neck of the woods. But don't let Mother Nature fool you. The cold weather is right around the corner. There is no reason why you can't keep running outside in the cold, as long as you are prepared.

Here are some tips on how to run in the cold:

1. Finding the right amount of clothing takes trial and error. Everyone has different hot spots and cold spots. You don't want to be drenched in sweat, but you also don't want to be too cold. You have to find the right balance. Removing and replacing items as necessary can help.

2. Layers. Layers. Layers. I go with anywhere from 1-3 layers depending on the temperature, wind, and precipitation.

3. Hats. They are good. Any kind will do. Baseball hat, knit hat, fleecy hat, hat with a pompom, or a Santa hat. All work. I stay warmer and can wear less clothes when I wear a hat. Who doesn't like a hat with a pompom?

4. Plan for needing to stop. Yes, you don't intend to stop. No one does. But what would happen if you were several miles from your car, home, or shelter and you got hurt or just could not run anymore? Make sure you have enough clothes to keep you warm. Carrying your phone doesn't hurt either.

5. Start your runs later in the day so that the temperature warms up a bit.

6. You still need to stay hydrated, even though it is colder.

7. When you are done, change out of your sweaty running clothes immediately into a complete set of warm, dry clothes. This helps if you are prone to getting very very cold after cold-weather workouts.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Lady of the Boulevard

There is a bronze statue of a woman on one of my regular running routes. I always say hello to the Lady of the Boulevard (the name I gave to the statue) as I pass by. I kept meaning to stop, take a picture, read the inscription at the bottom, and remember to look up more about the statue.

Well, I finally did. Apparently, the statue is a Memorial to Young Womanhood. It is a memorial to Constance Witherby, an almost 16-year-old who died of heart failure while climbing the Alps in 1929.


The inscription says "The wind roars I feel it blow and know that I am free to go." It is part of a poem written by Constance Witherby.


Hmmm. Not sure what I think of that, but it's interesting. And now I know a little bit more about the statue.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bands that Populate My Workout Playlists

Pearl Jam
Foo Fighters
Arcade Fire
Barenaked Ladies
The Bravery

I have seen all of the above bands in concert at least once. I've seen Pearl Jam and Hanson three times each.

Other Bands that Make the Cut:
Lady Gaga
Michael Jackson

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Marathon Training Week -1

This was my last week with no real workout plan. I aimed to run just over 20 miles and phase in my strength training.

Sunday - yoga class at the gym, plus calf raises

Monday - lunges, lower back and abs, then 4 mile run. In the morning. Because it is light enough (at least for the next week or two) to run in the morning.

Tuesday - 5 mile run in between classes and meeting with students. It's crunch time.

Wednesday - Rest. Wasn't feeling so hot on Tuesday. Was feeling a little bit better on Wednesday but knew I had a mild cold. Best not to push it.

Thursday - 4 mile run on the treadmill, plus upper body lifting and squats. Still wasn't 100% but felt OK enough to exercise.

Friday - traveling again, so another rest day. And a concert.

Saturday - 8.2 mile run in Washington, DC. Still had that pesky cold, so it was slow. A slow done run is better than no run.

Total Miles: 21.2

Friday, November 11, 2011

Going The Distance

No, not running distance. I mean long-distance relationships.

DH and I have been together for 11 years and long-distance for 7 of those years, including 3 out of 4 years of marriage. We've lived in the same state for about 1 year and under the same roof for a total of 7 months. We've only spent one anniversary together.

And yet, it works.

DH's family has a long history of long-distance relationships. My parents were long-distance for a year before they got married. Yes, it can work.

How does it work? Well, we make it work. We talk on the phone at least a couple times a day, usually once or twice during the work day, sometimes in the evening before dinner, and always right before bed. There are some days that we don't get to talk until bedtime, mostly because I have a non-traditional schedule two days a week (morning and evening classes with a large amount of unstructured time in between ... I never know in advance how I will spend the unstructured time so DH often misses me while he is on break). We see each other about once a month, but it varies depending on other commitments. Some times are busier than others, and we schedule around big obligations. For several years, we were both in graduate school. We understood what it was like to have those big immovable deadlines. Big projects or papers. Comprehensive exams. Finals week. Thesis and dissertation defenses (for the record, I graduated 2 years ago and it took me less time ... DH is still working on his dissertation ... but it's getting to the finish line that matters ... who's keeping track of who finished first ;-D).

One thing I hear a lot is, "Oh, that must be so hard." My response is, "Well, yes and no." If you've already got a strong relationship, you will make it work over the distance. You have to constantly practice your communication skills. That's really all you can do most of the time. Communicate. That is a very important skill in any relationship. If there is anything wrong with your relationship, the distance magnifies it. The distance shows you the weak spots. You can choose to work on the weak spots or choose to break up. The root cause is not the distance. It's because something is flawed to begin with.

We jokingly say that we are not sure we can live under the same roof. Yes, it will be an adjustment. But I doubt it will be a problem. We have enough separate and shared interests. We do our own things (I train for marathons, he watches scary/violent movies, for example), and we also do things together just us or together with other people. We'll see soon when this long-distance business finishes up in the next few months.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thanksgiving Menu

DH and I are taking charge of Thanksgiving dinner. We're only cooking for 4 people (so far ... might be 8), but isn't one of the beautiful things about Thanksgiving all the leftovers? We actually like cooking and work well together. Here's the menu so far.

The Turkey

We make Alton Brown's turkey. There are 2 secrets: 1) brining the turkey overnight and 2) roasting it hot (at 500 degrees) for 30 minutes before lowering the temperature. The hot roasting seals in the juices. No cooking all day. No dry meat. Almost foolproof. Alton Brown hasn't failed us yet.

Side Dishes

Cranberry Sauce with Red Wine and Orange and stuffing made in the crockpot. These are 2 recipes from my giant crockpot cookbook. The crockpot and the cookbook are two of my unexpectedly favorite wedding presents. The cranberry sauce will be made the day before. Cooking the stuffing in the crockpot will free up space in the ovens. Yes, ovens. We have a dual oven, a full-size one on the bottom and a smaller one on the top. 99% of the time, we just use the top oven because it heats up in under 5 minutes. It is very very nice having 2 ovens. You can cook two different things at two different temperatures at the same time.

Roasted Medley of Winter Root Vegetables. This recipe is more about method than precision. We buy an assortment of vegetables from the farmers market. Whatever looks good. Some beets, pearl onions, turnips, parsnips, potatoes, and carrots. Comes out a little different every time but always tastes yummy. Extremely flexible with the quantity and type of winter roots in your medley.

Green beans with shallots and bacon. Or the same idea with Brussels sprouts. Or maybe both.

We made mashed sweet potatoes with molasses and maple syrup last year, but they didn't live up to expectations. So we will make regular old mashed potatoes this year. Or we might do the roasted root medley potato-heavy. We never eat potatoes in my house. What better time to eat potatoes than Thanksgiving?

Cornbread - from a Trader Joe's mix. I know, I know, it's cheating. A girl's gotta make some cuts somewhere.

We're thinking about one other side dish, but probably not. That should be plenty of food for 4-8 people.


Apple pie from Mendon Mountain Orchards in Vermont - Best pies ever. I have been getting pies from "the pie store" as long as I can remember. The last time I was in Vermont, I brought home a frozen pie to bake at some time in the future. I'm doing some cheating here too, but at least someone made the pie from scratch. Mmmmm.

What about all those leftovers?

We eat leftovers for a day or two until we get tired of them. Then we chop up all the leftovers, add whatever random other stuff we can find, and make pot pies. We follow this pot pie recipe as a general method.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thoughts on Marathons 1, 2, and 3

1. Your first marathon is a special thing. I wouldn't have changed a single thing about my first marathon. Except for strength training on my legs, but I didn't know that going into my first marathon. Everything went right. Got perfect weather. Started out conservatively. Ran a smart race. Knew I was going to reach my A day goal at mile 20. Almost ran negative splits. Reached my A day goal of finishing in under 4 hours.

2. The only good thing about my second marathon was finishing in under 4 hours. No big PR. Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong. I take that back. I never thought I wouldn't finish and didn't get caught up in negative thinking, so that went well. Learn and move on.

3. My third marathon is my current PR. I did a lot of things differently in my training. Got a Garmin, did yoga, added strength training, increased mileage, ran faster, etc. They paid off. Mostly. I got a PR by 2 minutes 30 seconds. Recovery was very easy. Extremely easy. There was one big mistake. I made a miscalculation about the temperature. I checked the hourly forecast right before I left. 60 degrees. Except it was Chicago and there's one problem with temperature readings in cities. It was at least 5-10 degrees warmer than I thought it was. The temperature reading was probably taken somewhere in the suburbs. Cities hold heat. Even though it was 60 somewhere in the Chicago area, it was probably closer to 65-70 in downtown Chicago. That's enough of a difference to need to slow down or adjust expectations. Well, I didn't do that because I didn't realize it was that warm. Note to self. The next time you are not cold while wearing a tank top and shorts, it means it isn't cold. OK, done beating myself up. Learn and move on again. A PR is a PR.

All of my marathon times were within 5 minutes of each other. What's going on?

My guesses:
1) I trained correctly but got the wrong day in Chicago.
2) I ran within my ability but near the top of my ability.
3) I am reaching beyond my ability and don't have the miles/speed to get there yet.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Clothes Favorites


1. C9 pullover fleece - scored this for $3.97 on Target's clearance rack. Yes, it wicks nicely. My LL Bean Pathfinder jacket is too warm 99% of the time. The pullover fleece is just right. Along with 2 base layers, it kept me comfortable on a 20-mile run on a 15 degree winter day.

2. Under Armour coldgear compression tights - Tights that fit like a second skin. They make me feel like a speedy ninja. I have another pair in solid black.

3. Under Armour college t-shirts - I am a Boston College and University of Rhode Island alumna. The URI shirt is from the green line made from recycled materials. The fabric is really soft. It's unfortunate that URI now carries Adidas. Go Eagles! Go Rams! (except for the rare times they play each other, and then it's go Eagles!)

4. Lululemon Groovy shorts - I like them because they are functional. Lots of places to stash things. 2 small pockets in the front, 1 zippered pocket in the back. Very comfy waistband with an internal drawstring. This pair has come along with me on two marathons. Sadly, these shorts have been replaced by the Turbo shorts. Boo hiss.

5. Kirkland Signature/Costco tank top - knockoff of Lululemon's cool racerback tank that was carried earlier this year. I still can't tell the difference.

6. Nike Drifit Freakishly Amazing tank top - the "uniform" shirt for me and my running buddies. Light fabric that dries quickly.

7. Balega Hidden Comfort socks - Very good to preventing blisters. Good performance in the rain too. The tab at the heel keeps the socks from falling into your shoe.

8. Smartwool PhD ultra light micro running socks - Similar to the Balegas but with arch support and made out of wool. Not itchy. I wear these year-round. Keep my feet cool in the summer and warm in the winter. They are not cheap and I admittedly did not like them at first, but I've come around.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Gear Favorites


1. Spibelt - For those times when you need to carry stuff and don't have pockets. Don't let looks fool you. Its capacity is deceptively large. Expands to the size of the items in the pouch. Has held 1) phone, key, iPod nano or 2) weight lifting gloves or 3) 2 packs of Shot Bloks, chapstick, and tissue. Doesn't bounce at all when items are positioned right.

2. Zensah compression leg sleeves - feel like hugs from angels for your lower legs. I only wear them for recovery/overnight. They have made a big difference in preventing shin splints. And they just feel good. Get the size XS/S if you don't have man calves.

3. Clif Shot Bloks - My current preference for fuel. I outgrew sports beans and didn't particularly like Gu. Strawberry, cran razz, black cherry, and tropical punch are my favorites.

4. Chica Bands/BIC Bands - thin or thick ribbon headbands with a non-slip velvety surface on one side. BIC Bands donates money to a different charity every month. Sometimes worn as a regular headband. Warning: addictive. I have so many that I can match ANY outfit.

5. Bondi Bands - It took me a while to come around to these. I just needed to figure out that I like to wear them folded in half. They work well as sweatbands in the summer. They're also good in colder weather when I need something to cover my ears. Plus Bondi Bands does custom designs. Thumbs up from me!

6. Illuminite hat - Picked this up at a sample sale a few years ago. Lights up in a direct light source. Made of a lightweight material. I keep it in my car, because you never know when you will need a hat.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Shoe Review - Saucony Progrid Guide 4

I switched from the Saucony Progrid Guide 3s to the Saucony Progrid Guide 4s when I got new shoes a few months ago. I was hesitant. The various pairs of Sauconys I've had over the years have treated me well, but I'd heard so-so things about the Guide 4s. Such as changes to the toebox and poor construction. When I got refitted, my running store recommended not changing my shoes. OK then.

From left to right, the new Guide 4, old Guide 4, and old Guide 3.

The heel wear was about the same.

I haven't noticed a big difference between the Guide 3s and the Guide 4s. I ran a half marathon in the rain about a week after getting the Guide 4s. No problems at all. Thumbs up on that front. I used to get soreness in my toenails after very long runs, generally anything longer than 15 miles or so. I don't have that problem with the Guide 4s. So the toebox seems to work for me. Thumbs up on that front too.

Buuuuut, there's a problem. The Guide 4s are not the same quality as the Guide 3s. My first pair of Guide 4s lasted for a whopping 2 months. My Guide 3s had be lasting 3-4 months. Granted, my mileage increased, so the Guide 4s should have worn out faster. But it wasn't just the cushioning. The shoes were starting to fall apart. More wear than normal on the soles. The inside of the shoe around the heel and ankle were disintegrating. That didn't happen with the Guide 3s. I'm not sure I'd go as far as call it poor construction, but it is definitely lesser quality. Thumbs down on that front.

From left to right, the old Guide 3, old Guide 4, and new Guide 4. Those are some worn treads.

Inside the shoe. The Guide 4 didn't hold up as well as the Guide 3.

I bought another pair of Guide 4s, so I guess the Guide 4s are mostly good. We'll see if the second pair holds up any better.

Aaaand, no sooner did I buy another pair of Guide 4s than I found out the Guide 5s are coming out in November. Huh. Maybe there is a reason for that? The Guide 4s only came out in February, so they did not last very long. I wish I had known about the Guide 5s, though. I would have waited.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Marathon Training Week -2

I am still working with no real plan. Traveling last weekend threw my workout plan off. I am back running, though. Yay.

Sunday - Spectating at the Marine Corps Marathon. Was just past mile 24 at the Pentagon. My sign with a picture of Uncle Sam that said "I want YOU to finish STRONG" was a hit again. I was kinda surprised that a marathon as large as Marine Corps did not have clocks at every mile marker. Oh well. Something to be aware of next year when I am (hopefully) running Marine Corps.

Monday - rest

Tuesday - running! Got my replacement Garmin and was ready to get back on the road. Ran 3.7 miles on a cool fall day, then did some pushups.

Wednesday - running again, this time 4.3 miles, then did lunges, lower back, and calf raises when I got home.

Thursday - rest

Friday - 3.7 mile run on the treadmill, plus squats with kettlebells

Saturday - 7.2 mile run on a chilly fall morning. It was kinda cold for first 2 miles and then I was fine after I warmed up. Was only planning on 6-6.5 miles but ran into a friend near the end of my run. We chatted for a bit, then I continued on my merry way.

Total Miles: 18.9

Friday, November 4, 2011

October Mileage

I got sidetracked by traveling and coming off of my running hiatus. Oops.

I'm participating in NaBloPoMo in an attempt to blog every day for the month of November. Blogging for blogging's sake. Right. We'll see if I can actually make it. Look for some extra random entries coming up soon. Or an excuse for me to finish all those draft posts and get them out the door.

Anyway. Back to running. The numbers don't look all that great, but the month went reasonably well. I pretty much didn't run for 3 weeks, which was something I planned to do. For 9 runs, I'll take it. I set a marathon PR and ran a marathon and half marathon a week apart. My legs stayed on speaking terms with me. I still have all my toenails (for now at least). Those are victories in my book.

Running Stats for October

Total miles: 65
Total Runs: 9
Total Races: 3 (1 marathon, 1 half marathon, 1 5K)
Total Race Miles: 42.4
Average speed: 6.5 mph/9:14 per mile
Average distance per run: 7.21 miles

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Shamrock Marathon Plan

This will be my 4th marathon and 3rd attempt at a Boston Qualifier/Gansett Qualifier. Well, it's my 2nd real attempt at a BQ/GQ. I was coming off of an injury and wasn't properly trained to run a BQ at Cox Providence. You don't know what you can do unless you try, right?

The course is flat. The size is decent. The weather is a wild card as always. I know I have a BQ in me and now I just have to get the right day.

I still have some time to think about a training plan, but I am pretty sure I am sticking with Hal Higdon's Intermediate I marathon plan again. I may tack on an extra mile or two here and there. I am going to drop my (training) marathon goal pace to 7:45 and my training runs to the 8:15 range (previous marathon goal pace was 8:00 and my training runs were in the 8:20-8:30 range).

I do not think I can run 7:45 in a marathon nor do I need to or want to. I am still going after 3:35:00 or an 8:12 pace. To give myself some wiggle room, I will aim for an 8:00 pace in the marathon. In order to run faster, you gotta run faster. What a shocking idea. One thing that works well for me in races is being ahead of my goal pace. If I train faster but keep my time goal the same, I should be able to run faster and be ahead of my time goal for a good part of the marathon. That strategy works well for me. It will hopefully give me a time cushion to work with. That leads to positive thoughts. Positive thoughts make my legs go faster.

Or I could try to run negative splits. I trained running negative splits for Chicago, and I think the major reason why I didn't run negative splits was the heat. Buuut, I have never managed to run negative splits in a marathon. I'm not planning on it.

So we'll see. 19.5 weeks to go.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Running in the Dark

Who's not ready for Daylight Saving Time to end this weekend? *raises hand*

It will be nice to have more light in the morning. Sun up after 7am is not a good thing. But darkness in the evening guarantees running in the dark. Sun down well before 5pm is not a good thing either.

How to Run in the Dark

1. Get as much reflective gear as possible. There is no such thing as too much reflective gear. You want to light up like a Christmas tree.

2. Wear light or bright colors. Colors that could be highlighters are good choices. Avoid black and earth tones.

3. Use active lighting as well as passive lighting. While reflective gear (passive lighting) is extremely important, it only works if a light source shines directly on you. Carry something that creates its own light (active lighting), such a blinky or non-blinky light or a small flashlight. Or both.

4. Those little LED flashlights are perfect for runners. My local discount store carries them for a few dollars each, including batteries. They're small, bright, and not heavy. Some have wrist strap. Even the small single bulb keychain flashlights are pretty bright. You can shine it on your path so you can see where you are going or flash it at cars to make sure they see you.

5. Do not assume drivers see you. This applies anytime but especially in the dark. The only close call I've had was in a poorly lit area with no sidewalk. I had no choice but to be on the road. The driver clearly did not see me. Now, I knew the driver didn't see me, so I got out of the way. You better believe it was the last time I went on the road without my blinky red light.

6. If you are on the road, run against traffic. Always. This applies anytime as well.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Back on the Rhode

Today ends my running hiatus. I ran 3.7 miles today. I made it 16 days, although this time I wasn't itching to get back on the road. The break was actually kinda nice.

I have 2 weeks until I start another marathon training cycle.

I considered Rock N Roll USA, but I heard bad things about it last year (when it was National) and I'm not sure what Rock N Roll will do in the first year taking over this race. I considered the Long Island Marathon in early May (because it is flat and my travel costs would be minimal), but it could be boring and too warm. I didn't particularly want to travel since that generally drives up race costs. I considered marathons along the Atlantic Coast down to about Virginia in March and April.

I picked the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach on March 18, 2012. I should be in the DC area by then, so that will make it a 3-4ish hour drive to Virginia Beach. Hotels are fairly cheap. I saw a lot of Shamrock shirts at the Marine Corps Marathon. The deciding factor was that it is Shamrock's 40th year and they are doing something special. OK then, Shamrock it is. My registration is already bought and paid for.

And I thought I wasn't going to do another marathon where I had to train through the winter. How quickly we forget.

Sham Rock On!!