Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January Mileage Summary

Total Miles: 172.4
Total Runs: 21
Average Distance per Run: 8.21 miles
Average Speed/Pace: 7.1 mph / 8:27 pace

Goodbye, highest mileage month of all time. Hello, hungry little marathon monster that lives in my stomach.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Marathon Training Week 11

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 5, 8, and 5 miles, rest, 8 mile run, and 18 mile long run. Highest mileage week is here again.

Sunday - yoga class (during the New England Patriots playoff game ... Pats were winning when class started and, judging by my Facebook feed when I got home, it was way more relaxing in the class than watching the game ... Pats won!), plus calf raises and lunges.

Monday - 5.6 mile run. My winter running route was clear, and it wasn't even that cold. Yayz. Did planks and pushups in the evening with the company of the DVR.

Tuesday - 8.7 mile run. It was 50 degrees at first thing in the morning. In January! Thanks, Mother Nature, for a gift of a decent day. No cold weather gear necessary. Most of the snow had melted or got washed away by overnight rain.

Wednesday - 5.6 mile run on the treadmill, plus upper body strength training and squats. I need to start getting up earlier so that I have enough time to get my run in and do strength training. Just when I figured out how much time I needed, there goes another bump up in mileage. Did abs and lower back in the evening.

Thursday - Rest. Needed more sleep badly this week.

Friday - 8.3 mile run. Mostly caught a break between rain showers. I almost turned around and went to the gym about 2 miles in because I was cold, but I didn't have my iPod and therefore couldn't record my distance inside. So I kept going. My quads were very cold, but it got warmer as I went on. Got heavily rained on at the very end. I could have used cold weather tights, but I made it through. It wasn't super pleasant but it wasn't that bad either. Spent a good part of the day going on a treasure hunt in my attic. In other words, carrying boxes and furniture down 2 flights of stairs to get ready to move in a few weeks. I forgot I had a toaster oven and a set of wooden folding tables.

Saturday - 19.2 mile run. EPIC. Epic I tell you. Comfortable weather. I started out a little too fast but realized this and reeled it in. I planned a route on the bike path and a loop in a state park. I was pleased to find a port-a-pottie in the state park around mile 7. Nice views of Narragansett Bay. I really like running near Narragansett Bay. Hal Higdon suggests converting your long run into a 3-1 run ever 3 weeks or so. Run the first 3/4 at your normal pace, then drop the last 1/4 to goal race pace if you are feeling OK. I was feeling OK when I stopped at mile 13 to have a snack and fill up my water bottles. So I continued on for another 2 miles, turned on my iPod at mile 15, and dropped the pace for the last 4 miles. I was comfortably under goal marathon pace, including doing the last mile at 30 seconds under goal marathon pace. What! Who does that?? Especially at the end of a 19 mile run?? Even I was surprised at that. It didn't feel unreasonably difficult. It was good practice for trying to pick up the pace at the end. I got to practice positive self-talk. Winning.

Total Miles: Scheduled - 44 Actual - 47.4

Thursday, January 26, 2012

More Music

I got $100 in iTunes gift cards from my credit card rewards points and more gift cards and some CDs for Christmas/my birthday (a few weeks after Christmas). Woot! More new songs for me to add to my running and marathon playlists. I still haven't made a dent on the balance in my iTunes account.

On a random note, Foster the People's Torches is actually a pretty good CD. No other song sounds like Pumped Up Kicks, but there are several songs similar to Helena Beat. Mostly dance-type music. U2's Magnificent is one of my most favorite songs ever, so 2 remixes are going onto my playlists. I have some questionable taste in girly pop and 80s music when I run. But hey, if it works, I'll run with it.

I purchased or got on CDs:

Dropkick Murphys - I'm Shipping Up to Boston (hopefully!)
Rihanna - We Found Love
Rihanna - Roc Me Out
Foster the People - Helena Beat
Foster the People - Pumped Up Kicks
Foster the People - Don't Stop (Color on the Walls)
Foster the People - Houdini
Foster the People - Call It What You Want
Stereo MCs - Connected
Good Charlotte - I Don't Want to Be in Love
Shifty - Starry-Eyed Surprise
Death Cab for Cutie - Meet Me at the Equinox
Sean Kingston - Fire Burning
U2 - Magnificent (Redanka's 360 remix)
U2 - Magnificent (Adam K and Soha Club remix)
Maroon 5 - Misery (this one is going on my running playlist only. NOT a song I want to hear during a marathon)
Blue October - Into the Ocean
Nickelback - When We Stand Together
M83 - Midnight City
Wang Chung - Everybody Have Fun Tonight
Fitz & the Tantrums - Don't Gotta Work It Out
Angelic - It's My Turn 2009 (Darren Tate radio edit)
Shakira - She Wolf

Songs I Already Owned that I Added to my Running/Marathon playlists:

U2 - Do You Feel Loved
Lady Gaga - Highway Unicorn
Barenaked Ladies - Grade 9
Ben Folds Five - Landed (running list only)
Def Leppard - Pour Some Sugar on Me
Hanson - Don't Stop
Faith No More - Epic
Tonic - Casual Affair

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Open Letter Wednesday

Dear Rock N Roll New Orleans,
I am glad I ran Rock N Roll Mardi Gras/New Orleans as my first marathon in 2011. I had a blast. I am really glad I am not running it this year, though. You took out Audubon Park. That was one of my favorite parts! The whole second half of the marathon course is out in no man's land along the edge of a park and the edge of Lake Pontchartrain. I liked running by Lake Pontchartrain. In fact, it was a beautiful pale blue color that I wasn't expecting. But I would not want to run for miles and miles along the lake. There will be no spectators. Seriously, no spectators. Not exactly what marathoners need in the later miles of a marathon.
marathon runner
P. S. One other thing that I really liked about last year's race was that the half and full marathons split off at mile 5. I don't like races where the half and full marathons split at the half marathon finish line, as you have done this year.

Dear snow,
Thank you for melting so quickly!
winter runner

Dear blisters on my feet,
Be like the snow and kindly go away quickly.
crazy runner

Monday, January 23, 2012

How to Run While It Is Snowing

I ran 18 miles in a snowstorm over the weekend. It was ... interesting. It was not the hardest run ever, but it wasn't pleasant either. Not sure I want to run that far again in the snow. I am either dedicated or insane. Or both. If it snows on the day of a race, what are you going to do? Not run? So you might as well get some practice at running in less than ideal weather.

There are some extra safety challenges if you are running while it is snowing. I am a big advocate of doing whatever it takes to keep yourself safe.

1. Get out your Yaktrax. They'll provide extra traction on packed snow and crunchy ice (not smooth ice, though ... not much can help you there).

2. Wear something brightly colored. You want to be as visible as possible. White is bad since it blends in with the snow. Highlighter colors are good choices. Bonus points if you don't match.

3. Wear a hat, preferably with a brim. It'll help to keep the snow out of your eyes.

4. Ski goggles aren't just for skiing. Yes, I ran outside wearing ski goggles. Did I look ridiculous? I'm sure I did. Did I care? Not enough to not do it.

5. You need to have a very good sense of how to dress appropriately. It is important to stay dry but also to regulate your temperature. You don't want to get too cold or too hot. The one advantage that snow has over rain is that snow generally doesn't soak you.

6. Ditch the music and headphones. Running in a snowstorm is difficult enough as it is. You don't need any extra distractions.

7. Get out of the way for snowplows. Jump in a snowbank if you have to. I was not expecting this one to make it on the list. This is why you need to be able to hear and be aware of what's going on around you.

8. Be extra cautious when crossing streets. Vehicles can't stop as easily on snow-covered roads, plus drivers may not be expecting or looking for runners on the road. You never win against a vehicle.

9. Be extra cautious of your footing. If you can't see the ground, you don't know what you are stepping on. That layer of snow could be hiding icy patches. The snow is not uniform, either. Some of it could be light and fluffy. Some of it could be hard-packed. You don't know until you step on it.

10. Your pace will slow down. Let go of whatever your usual pace is. This is not only OK but also smart. You can't keep running if you fall on your tuckus or injure yourself.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Marathon Training Week 10

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 4, 8, and 4 miles, rest, 8 mile pace run, and 17 mile long run. Ramp it up one more time.

I had to make some changes again to account for Sunday's half marathon. I moved the first 4 mile run to last week. So my plan was 13.1 mile race, rest or cross-train depending on how I felt, run 8 and 4 miles (or possibly switch those runs depending on how I felt), rest, 8 mile pace run, and 17 mile long run. I figured I'd keep it easy on the strength training this week too. When I hit this week the last time around, I didn't give myself enough recovery time after the half marathon. No bueno. I didn't want to make that mistake again.

Sunday - 13.1 mile virtual race on a treadmill (not counted in the weekly mileage since it took the place of last weekend's long run), which was 13.9 miles according to the treadmill and 13.1 miles according to Nike+. See the post here on the Nike+ Women's Half Marathon. I'm going to go with 1:42:02 or there abouts for a half marathon, assuming the treadmill was calibrated correctly and the pace was right. Not based on Nike+. Walked for nearly a half hour as a cooldown and foam rolled afterward.

Monday - I felt a little bit sore but mostly fine. Nowhere near as beat up as after Rock N Roll Providence. Yay. Must have been all that walking and foam rolling. Did two 20-minute yoga podcasts at home, plus abs and lower back exercises.

Tuesday - 8.6 mile run. First run in slushy snow. First measurable snowfall this winter (we had a freak October snowstorm, but that technically isn't winter). The snow and occasional slippery patches kept me from going too fast. At least it wasn't cold or raining. Each mile split was faster without trying to go faster, so that's a win. Did calf raises and lunges in the evening.

Wednesday - 4.6 mile run on the treadmill (Nike+ behaved this time and was reasonably close to the treadmill), plus upper body strength training. Skipped squats this week to give my legs some extra recovery time. My legs felt fine and I probably could have done squats, but I also knew to not push it. There were some difficult workouts coming up this week. Did planks and pushups in the evening while catching up with the DVR.

Thursday - Rest. More sleeeeeeeep. Goooooood.

Friday - 8.2 mile pace run on the treadmill, plus 9 minutes walking as a cooldown and about 1.5 miles total walking to and from the gym, plus snow shoveling. I was planning on running outside, but the less than 1 inch of snow we were supposed to get overnight was more like 3-4 inches. Fine for an everyday run but not a pace run. It was that light fluffy snow, too. Packed heavier snow is better for running. So I went to the gym. At first, I thought this run was going to be no big deal. The first 2 miles felt easy. I took my shirt off somewhere in mile 4. Yes, I have become that annoying person who goes to the gym in a sports bra. It was a fight to keep going after 5.5 miles. I probably should have brought some Gatorade in addition to plain water. I had to trick the treadmill into letting me run longer than 1 hour by running into the cooldown phase. So problematic. Every 1 minute, the pace dropped to 4.5 mph (I was running at 7.7 mph) and the incline reset to 0%. I had to keep bumping up the speed and the incline. It was harder than the half marathon at the exact same pace. Go figure. But I made it. Small victory.

Saturday - 18.2 mile run. In the snow. While it was snowing. Busted out the Yaktrax and my ski goggles. This one was tough. There is a road near me with a wide shoulder and bike lane in a 3ish mile loop. That road is my go-to route for winter long runs once there is snow on the ground. I had to stop about 5 miles in to get more clothes. I underestimated how cold and windy it was. Good thing I wasn't too far from home. I took my break (usually at 12 miles) early. I had a soft shell jacket to keep me dry which I never wear. One pair of cold weather tights and lightweight tights were not enough. I needed two pairs of cold weather tights and the lightweight tights, plus a fleece tied around my waist to keep my bum warm. I also picked up my highlighter yellow reflective vest so that I was visible. I figured most drivers wouldn't expect to see a runner on the road. The first 10-11 miles were fine. And then it started going downhill. My Gatorade froze, although my water didn't. My fleece neck gaiter froze. My nose was running out of control, so badly that I couldn't breathe through my nose. My feet were getting blisters. I didn't drink or eat as much fuel as I usually do. The roads got more and more slippery. I had to step off the road to avoid plows. My pace slowed down and I honestly didn't care. This was a run to just do it, not a run for time. However long it took was however long it took. At least I didn't overheat or get too cold, and I stayed reasonably dry, and the road I was on was continually plowed pretty much down to the pavement. It is still harder to run a half marathon in a nor'easter than to run 18 miles in the snow. I don't have much desire to run that far in the snow again, though.

Total Miles: Scheduled - 37 Actual - 39.2

Monday, January 16, 2012

Marathon Training: Halfway Update

Halfway through another marathon training cycle. Again? How did that happen? It is 9 weeks til the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach.

I pretty much kept up all of the changes I made in my Chicago Marathon training cycle. Wore my compression socks/calf sleeves daily, did yoga once a week, did low weight-high rep strength training including squats and lunges, cut out almost all alcohol, paid attention to eating and hydrating, used my Garmin, and ran faster and farther (see 1 and 2 below). I am somewhat concerned about overtraining. I don't *think* I am overtraining, but I also don't really know. There is a fine line between pushing yourself to improve and pushing yourself too much. I keep checking in with myself periodically. All is good so far.

I also:

1. Ran faster - I dropped my (training) marathon goal pace down by 15 seconds to 7:45 per mile. Mile splits in the 7s scare me, so I need some practice at seeing them and knowing I can hold them. I also tried to get my other runs into the 8:15-8:30ish range. That's also about 15 seconds faster per mile than my training pace from my last training cycle. Oh, I am still going after a 3:35 marathon (8:12 pace) and plan to run at an 8:00 pace. Hopefully I will get through the first half faster and will have some wiggle room in the second half. I work well with wiggle room. I think part of running faster was the colder winter temperatures. I ran several minutes faster than my similar distance runs from my last training cycle.

2. Ran farther - I followed Hal Higdon's Intermediate I again but tacked on an extra 3 miles or so onto each week's total mileage. I want to get my mileage closer to 50 miles for at least a week or two. I won't quite make it, but I'll be closer than I was for Chicago.

3. Raced a virtual half marathon on a treadmill. Because I just am that crazy. I could have ran anywhere and yet I chose the treadmill. I am still not sure about my true pace/distance because the treadmill and Nike+ gave me two different distances, but I'll take it. I survived and survived well! Pretty sure I set an unofficial PR. See the separate post on the Nike+ Women's Half Marathon.

4. Got minimalist shoes - for strength training, not running. I'm not sure they make any difference, but it's something I wanted to note. I *think* they are helping with the sporadic issues I've had with my ankle. It is definitely easier to balance with the minimalist shoes.

Shamrock's Facebook page has preview pics of the finishers medals. The medal doubles as a bottle opener and has a detachable shamrock charm. Want!!

9 weeks to go. Sham Rock On!!!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Nike+ Women's Half Marathon Recap: The Race

I just completed my first virtual race, the Nike+ Women's Half Marathon.

I prepared as if it were an actual race. No expo? No problem. I made myself a virtual expo. That seemed appropriate for a virtual race. Checked out stuff online and used my Christmas/birthday gift cards. Downloaded new music from iTunes. Hydrated. Ate chicken parm from my favorite restaurant. Got my gear and clothes together the night before. Enjoyed sleeping in my own bed and not traveling. I only had to get up, have breakfast, get dressed, and roll down the street to the gym.

Off I went in the morning to the gym. It was a good morning to hit the gym. Temps in the teens with windchills around zero. Brrr. I would have done a long run outside, but not a race. Especially not a race by myself.

The treadmills are programmed to stop after 1 hour, so I had to trick the treadmill into letting me keep going. I was going to have to come to a dead stop and start the treadmill again. I decided ahead of time that I was going to run 7 miles, stop briefly, restart the treadmill, and run the last 6.1 miles.

I put my stuff in a locker, grabbed my water (1 L of Smartwater, two 8 oz bottles from my Fuelbelt, and .5 L Gatorade) and fuel (shot bloks and 4 mini pretzels) and pouch of extra stuff (chapstick, good luck charm), and hopped on my favorite treadmill, and warmed up. Then stretched. Then set the speed to 7.7 mph/ 7:47 pace and the incline to 1%.

I started my race a little after 7:30am. The gym was pretty quiet. I could have counted the number of gym patrons on one hand. The first minute, I thought the pace felt fast and wondered if I could hold on. And then it didn't feel so fast. Not easy but manageable. I had a TV schedule on a sticky note. I flipped between Saved by the Bell, ESPN, cooking shows on the Food Network, the Weather Channel, the Top 20 countdown on VH1, and CNN.

About 3 or 4 miles in, I realized Nike+ was eating my distance. Not cool, Nike+, not cool. Still, there wasn't anything I could do except run 13.1 Nike+ miles. The gym was getting busier, but there was still open equipment. Some people I knew came in close to mile 5. We waved at each other and that was it.

When I started to feel tired, I kept thinking that I paid $40 to run on my own and I am going to do it. That always brought on a surge of energy.

I stopped the treadmill at 7 miles on Nike+ and 7.55 miles on the treadmill. Note to self: if you ever try to do this again, don't try to drink out of a 1 liter Smartwater bottle. Fill your Fuelbelt bottles and loop the Fuelbelt on the treadmill rail. And off I was to run the last 6.1 miles.

Around mile 9, I got down to my sports bra. I have ran outside in the summer in a sports bra, but I've never done it at the gym before. I don't even think I cared at that point. I had a goal and I was going to work hard to meet it. I also realized that unless something unplanned happened, I knew I had enough energy to make it another 4 miles. Another surge of energy.

After 10 miles or so, I decided I wanted music instead of TV. Every song on my playlist was a song that I absolutely loved. My iPod picked me:
Switchfoot - Dark Horses
U2 - Magnificent (Redanka's 360 Remix)
Gym Class Heroes - Stereo Hearts
Katy Perry - Firework
Chris Brown - Beautiful People
Lady Gaga - Judas
U2 - I Will Follow
Kevin Rudolf - Let It Rock
skipped Jason Derulo - Don't Wanna Go Home and NKOTBSB - Don't Turn the Lights Out
Fitz and the Tantrums - Money Grabber

In my last couple of miles, there was a guy 2 treadmills down who looked like he was struggling. I encouraged to keep going and gave him thumbs up. Once we both stopped running, he thanked me for the encouragement at a time when he was feeling down.

I hit 13.1 miles on Nike+ and I think 6.3 miles on the treadmill (for a total of 13.9 miles according to the treadmill). And that was my virtual half marathon.

Nike+ says I ran 13.12 miles in 1:48:15. That comes down to an 8:15 pace. Except I had the treadmill set to a 7:47 pace the whole time (I dropped it to 7:30 for the last half mile, but that shouldn't have made a huge difference). Usually, that particular treadmill reads less mileage than Nike+, so I am not sure what was going on. Maybe it was because my Nike+ sensor is calibrated to be most accurate around 8:30-8:45? Assuming the treadmill is calibrated correctly, if my pace was 7:47, I would have ran 13.9 miles total and 13.1 miles in 1:42:02. That's an unofficial PR by almost 3 minutes! Which measurement is right, I do not know. I am leaning toward the treadmill being correct based on effort level and previous experience with that particular treadmill. I do know I am so done with Nike+. Oh, I was done with Nike+ months ago, but now I am really done with Nike+. Eating .8 mile of a 13 mile run at race pace is unacceptable.

I am not going to let it take away from successfully racing by myself on a treadmill. It wasn't awful! I never got bored because I had the TV and music to entertain me.

I walked on the treadmill for 5 minutes, changed into a dry set of clothes, ate a banana, grabbed a protein bar, and walked for another 20 minutes or so on the treadmill. I spent some quality time with my foam roller at home. Ahhhhh.

If I ever attempt to race on a treadmill again, I will make sure I have a good plan for entertaining myself and have water bottles that are easy to handle. Good thing I brought two of my Fuelbelt bottles.

First virtual race done!

Nike+ Women's Half Marathon Recap: The Preparation

Week 9 of my training plan had a half marathon race. Um, right. That's not happening in New England in January (side note: there is a half marathon and marathon in February in Cape Cod, MA which sells out well in advance every year. The weather is completely unpredictable at that time of year. Who are these crazy people?). There were no half marathons anywhere remotely close to me that lined up with my training schedule. I wasn't going to travel for a training race either.

In December, I found out about the Nike+ Women's Half Marathon, a virtual race that lined up perfectly with Week 9. Yes, the $40 entry fee for a virtual race seemed steep, but $10 went to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and you got a bracelet afterwards. I would have preferred a T-shirt, but I'll take a bracelet. Kinda like a medal, right? $40 was way cheaper than traveling somewhere. The idea was to run wherever you are (On the treadmill? Outside? Either was a possibility depending on the weather) and sync a Nike+ run of at least 13.1 miles.

Hmmm. If I plunked down $40, I better well run hard. Seemed like the extra push I needed to actually race on my own.

Then I came up a crazy idea. I thought it would be a huge confidence booster to attempt to race (and unofficially PR) a half marathon on the treadmill. Go to the gym, load the treadmill up with a towel, water, Gatorade, and shot bloks, pick a time when there was something interesting on TV, make a playlist with my favorite songs, set the pace on the treadmill to about 7:45 per mile, run run run, and hope I could keep up. I don't particularly mind the treadmill, but 13.1 miles is a long way to run on a treadmill. The most I had done on a treadmill was 14 miles and at a much slower pace. Could I hold on to sub-8 on a treadmill? I knew I could run sub-8 for 8 miles ... outside. 13, though? On a treadmill? Crazy.

The only way to see if you can do something is to try to do it. You just might surprise yourself.

There are a couple of advantages to running on a treadmill. It is climate-controlled. The treadmill sets the pace for you so you don't have to think about pacing. It can be perfectly flat (although I set the incline to 1% so that it is like running on a flat surface). But there are some disadvantages. It can be incredibly boring. The scenery doesn't change. It is very tempting to stop if you are tired. You don't have other runners to help pace you.

Race recap coming up in another post ...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Birthday Treats

My birthday was this week. I got some nice surprises.

I got an email from the president of the university where I taught in the fall wishing me a happy birthday. I'm pretty sure it was automated, but that's OK. Unexpected birthday greetings are always welcome. Acuvue also sent me an email, and Southwest sent me a card in the mail.

Panera put a free pastry or sweet on my rewards card, good anytime in the next 60 days.

CVS sent me a coupon for $3 off any purchase.

Mapmyrun.com reminded me to log my piece of cake. Whatever, Mapmyrun. Don't you know birthday cake has zero calories? ;-)

On the other hand, my gym sent me a coupon for a free personal training session and smoothie, as well as a hilarious coupon for one day of skipping the gym guilt-free.

Random boxes from Amazon started showing up. After having an Amazon wishlist for several years, most of my family don't even ask and buy me gifts off my wishlist. It's a win-win situation.

Marathon Training Week 9

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 4, 5, and 4 miles, rest, rest, and 13.1 mile race. Stepback week #3.

I had to make some changes since I shifted the plan by a day. The 13.1 mile race should have lined up with Sunday. Except Sunday in the plan is my Saturday. So I modified the plan to run 4, 5, and 4 miles, rest, run 4 miles (subbed in one of the runs from the following week that I am going to skip), rest, and 13.1 mile race on Sunday. I chose the Nike+ Women's Half Marathon. A virtual race? Yes please.

Sunday - yoga class, plus calf raises. My yoga class was canceled the last two weeks because of the holidays. It was good to be back.

Monday - 4.4 mile run, plus abs, lower back, and lunges while watching the end of Spirit of the Marathon. The run was relatively slow and easy. Good. I needed a relatively slow and easy run.

Tuesday - 5.5 mile run on the treadmill, plus upper body strength training and squats. We got a dusting of snow overnight, which was surprisingly slippery. I was glad I had planned to go to the gym anyway. Did my upper body strength training a day early, in preparation for the half marathon on Sunday and so that I could get some extra sleep on Tuesday night.

Wednesday - 4.6 mile run on a cold clear moonlit morning, plus planks and pushups.

Thursday - Rest.

Friday - easy 5.1 mile run. I meant to run 4.5 miles but accidentally ran too far. Close enough, I guess. Misty and not too cold. It was also my weekday day off. Visited a running buddy and a special future running buddy.

Saturday - Rest. Half marathon prep. Shopping for running gear online. Chicken parm, here I come.

Sunday - 13.1 mile virtual race. Nike+ Women's Half Marathon. I decided to do it on a treadmill. Stay tuned.

Total Miles: Scheduled - 30.1 Actual - 32.7 (including the yet unran half marathon)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How to Celebrate, Runner Style

With new sparkly shoelaces, of course!

I almost got neon green laces in preparation for Shamrock, buuuuut I need a new pair of shoes before Shamrock. I just ordered the same model but in different colors (silver/light green instead of silver/purple-ish). To be honest, neon green is one of my least favorite colors. The silver sparkly ones are more versatile.

Twinkle toes onward!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Costco Does It Again

I should just rename this blog the Costco love blog. What isn't good about Costco?

I made my every 3 or 4 weeks trip to Costco yesterday. Costco still had plenty of the Lululemon Groove-like yoga pants AND they had coordinating jackets (in black, light purple, bright pink, or teal) similar to Lululemon's Define jacket.

The fit of the jacket was tight. If I had larger boobs, I don't think it would have fit well. The teal jacket jumped in my cart and came home with me because:
1. The cuffs are not tight. I often take off my outermost layer once I get going and have trouble getting tight cuffs over my Garmin. Not so with this jacket.
2. It has thumbholes AND an extra flap of fabric in the cuff that folds over into a mitten. Built-in mittens! My not-so-cold-any-longer hands appreciate this.
3. Two zippered pockets on the front.
4. A hole in one of the pockets to run headphones inside the jacket, and an elastic loop near the collar to keep the headphones in place. Not that I really need this feature. It doesn't hurt, though.
5. It matches the greenish tank top I plan on wearing for the Shamrock Marathon.
6. $24.99 pricetag. The Lululemon equivalent goes for about $100. The difference is my annual Costco membership fee and then some.

The jacket, and the thumbholes and cuffs.

I took the jacket out for a spin with a long-sleeve tech layer as a base this morning. Temps were in the mid-20s. I unzipped the jacket and tucked back the cuff mittens once I was warm enough. I gotta say, I don't often wear jackets, but I might be a fan now. I liked being able to unzip it to let my midsection stay cooler while I simultaneously had an extra layer on my arms to keep them warm.

Costco for the win. Again. Who's surprised at that one? Now if only Costco brings back those racerback tank tops in the summertime ...

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Marathon Training Week 8

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 4, 7, and 4 miles, rest, 7 mile run, and 15 mile long run.

Last week felt harder than usual. The holidays were part of it, but I also had more alcohol than usual. Even one or two drinks does not make for good runs when you are not used to having alcohol more than once a week.

I have a half marathon race in my training plan for next weekend, so I signed myself up for the Nike+ Women's Half Marathon on January 15. It's a virtual race that you can run wherever you want. My half marathon is most likely going to be on a treadmill. Crazy? Maybe, maybe not. I went beyond crazy a long time ago ;-)

Sunday - 2 yoga podcasts. Did the same one as last week (which had the wrong pose guide, but I followed it better than the first time) and another one (which I followed along even without the pose guide). Also did some calf raises.

Monday - 4.6 mile run in my hometown. Kept it relatively easy. It wasn't too cold but was windy. The mile where I ran straight into the wind was significantly slower than the other miles. Good to know. Also did pushups, lunges, abs, and lower back.

Tuesday - 7.6 mile run in the AM. Cold and somewhat windy. Cold is tolerable as long as you are dressed appropriately. Which I was.

Wednesday - 4.6 mile run on the treadmill, plus upper body lifting (increased the total weight by 4 lbs), squats, and planks. My first midweek day off because I only work 4 days a week now. It was really nice to go to the gym not at the crack of dawn and be able to spend as much time as I wanted doing my exercises. New Year Resolutioners tend to go to the gym in the evening, hence I will not be going to gym in the evening anytime soon. The gym was reasonably busy but not crowded. Got on my favorite treadmill (yes, I have a favorite treadmill) and had plenty of space in the mat area for strength training. A girl could get used to this.

Thursday - Rest.

Friday - 7.2 mile run. Two loops on my regular running route. It started out kinda eh. My pace was slower than usual. It was fairly cold. I didn't feel the need to push it. There was a dusting of snow that was pretty and didn't interfere at all. Then a rabbit (not an actual rabbit, but rather a runner ahead of me) passed me just as I headed out on my second loop. The rabbit was running faster than me, so I figured why not try to keep up with the rabbit? Halfway through the second loop, I had stayed about 15 feet behind the rabbit and was already down 7 seconds per mile. The rabbit turned around and started chatting with me, and so we ran together at the faster pace for about a mile. I even kept up a comfortable conversation for that mile ... while running at an 8:05 pace. What! That's nuts, and good to know because I was concerned about overtraining and am less concerned now. Thanks, rabbit, for turning my so-so run into a pretty decent one.

Saturday - 16.7 mile run. The weather on this run was a gift. I went out with not one piece of cold weather gear. No fleece. No gloves. No cold weather tights. It was 55 degrees by the time I was done. I forgot to account for some .1 and .2 mile bits when I planned my route, so I ended up running a half mile farther than I meant to. The weather was so nice that I didn't mind. Stopped a few times (mile 4 to cross a street, mile 8 to pop into a supermarket to use the restroom, and mile 12.5 to fill up my water bottles and eat some pretzels). Pace was good. Pretty consistent in the first few miles and slightly faster at the end.

Total Miles: Scheduled - 37 Actual - 40.7

Friday, January 6, 2012

Running Lightbulb

I think I have figured out part of the reason why it took me so long to recover from the Rock N Roll Providence Half Marathon. I didn't move around enough immediately after the race. This is partly due to Rock N Roll's organization of the post-race runner refreshment area. I like to walk around, eat a banana, make sure I feel OK, decide what else I need to eat and drink, and then walk more and eat and drink the rest of my post-race goodies. But you can't do that at Rock N Roll races because the finish area isn't that big. You pretty much come to a stop at the finish line. If it gets crowded, Rock N Roll forces you to move back or move out. Once you leave, you can't come back in. Hmmm.

I was very sore after the Rock N Roll Mardi Gras Marathon and chalked most of that up to running my first marathon. But maybe some of the issue was the Rock N Roll finish area. Too small to be able to decently keep moving.

I did sit on a plane the day after Rock N Roll Mardi Gras and in a car the afternoon of Rock N Roll Providence, which I'm sure did not help in either case. Hmmm again.

Compare to the Chicago Marathon, where I felt pretty OK from the afternoon of the race onward. At Chicago, you have to walk a long way to get out of the finish area. Easily a quarter mile if not longer. And then the post-race party is another quarter mile or more away. At least Chicago hands you a bag of snacks at the finish line, and I knew the Bank of America customer area (which I had access to ... very nice because it was quieter and less crowded than everywhere else) had food and drinks. So I didn't worry about getting my post-race refreshments in the finish area and then went to the BoA area. I hung around the BoA area til I felt ready to leave and walked a mile back to my hotel. And walked later in the day. And walked several miles the next day. All that walking made a huge difference.

Being a runner is like constantly running (pun intended) an experiment of one. You try something and it doesn't work. So you try something different and it does work. Or not. Eventually you figure out what works for you. Even though I do not know exactly why, I do know one thing. Walking after a marathon = good. Oh so very good.