Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February Mileage Summary

Total Miles: 176.4
Total Runs: 21
Average Distance per Run: 8.4 miles
Average Speed/Pace: 7.2 mph / 8:20 pace

This is another highest mileage month ever, even with 2 fewer days than January. Shamrock Marathon, you better start running because I am coming after you.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Run for Sherry

This is so very very late since I moved (mostly) 2 weeks ago and went back to work last week. Better late than never, right?

I participated in the virtual Run for Sherry on February 11. Sherry was randomly abducted and killed while she was out for a run. So senseless.

I did 2 runs, one alone on February 11 and one on February 12 with my running buddies. The first run was my first 20 mile run in preparation for the Shamrock Marathon. The weather mostly cooperated. Light snow that didn't stick. Thankfully not as cold or windy as my other long run in the snow. Normally, I would have headed out to the bike path. But I like staying closer to home when it is snowing or very cold. That way, if anything happens, I am less than 2 miles from where I started at all times. So I headed out to my winter running route of 3ish mile loops on a relatively flat, wide, always cleared-to-the-pavement shoulder and bike lane. I caught a break early on of about an hour with no snow. I ran a little faster than I planned, but I wanted to capitalize on the break in the snow.

About 7 miles in, I wasn't paying attention and almost got hit by a car that ran a stop sign. The driver had her turn signal on too (a rarity for Rhode Island), so not only did I think she was going to stop but I also thought she was turning in a direction that would not have put the car in my path. I thanked Sherry for looking out for me.

My thoughts went all over the place. One word I kept coming back to was grateful. Grateful that I was out running. Grateful that I could run. Grateful that it wasn't snowing too hard. Grateful that I was out doing something I loved to do. I ran without my iPod the whole way. If I started to get sore, I thought about Sherry and this virtual run that was going on all over the place. I made it 20.5 miles with just me to keep me entertained. That is a no-music distance record. I honestly didn't miss it.

At the end of my run, I took a picture of my bib under a Play! Hope Street banner. A sign that said Hope? That seemed appropriate.

The next day, my running buddies and I headed out on the coldest day we've had this winter for about 5 miles at an easy pace. I was supposed to run 5 miles on the following day, but I decided to move that run up and do yoga instead. It was a smart adjustment in my schedule. We chatted and had fun and stayed warm. The miles ticked away. Then we went out for breakfast afterwards. I think we were more excited about hot coffee and yummy food than the run ;-)

Even in the darkness, there is hope. Hope wins every time.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Dancing with the Devil

This training cycle, I know I am dancing dangerously close to overtraining. There is an extremely fine line between pushing yourself to improve and pushing yourself into exhaustion.

Overall, my pace on all of my runs dropped. I think a lot of it is the cooler winter temperatures. However, I didn't push the pace on every single run. I knew not to do that. I did it on some of my runs but only where and when it was appropriate. I was floored on the day I ran a mile at an 8:05 pace AND kept up a comfortable conversation. I was floored when I saw mile splits at 7:30 and 7:45 in the last mile of two of my longest runs.

I kept monitoring myself for signs of overtraining. Pace slowing down in spite of efforts to run faster? No. Elevated resting heart rate? Sort of, but that was probably stress-related (interstate move and job searching, anyone?) and didn't happen all the time. Disruptions in sleep? No. If anything I was sleeping better. Eating like crap? No. Lack of motivation? No, not at all. Muscle soreness lasting for days? No. Thanks, yoga and foam rolling. Not recovering? No, it was quick most of the time, or I adjusted my expectations and took it easy if I needed to. Feeling excessively tired? No. Skipping runs, especially for no reason? No. I have yet to miss a single run this training cycle. Not looking forward to running? Absolutely not. I really enjoy running and look forward to it every day. Not resting? No. I like rest days almost as much as I like running days.

I know I ran my long runs faster than I was supposed to. I am aiming for an 8:00 marathon pace to give me some leeway to actually meet an 8:12 pace. I have now ran over 20 miles at an 8:07 pace. Crazy stuff. I should not have ran that fast, but it didn't feel excessively fast. I reeled it in and I was still running faster than I was supposed to. And yet I was no more tired or sore than usual. Going into a marathon, the confidence of KNOWING I can run that fast for that long is tremendous. I know I can do it because I already have done it. I also know that I can pick up the pace when things start to get tough because I've already done that too. That is hugely huge for my confidence.

I still do not think I am overtrained, but that is yet to be seen. 3 weeks til Shamrock and we will see.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Marathon Training Week 15

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 5, 8, and 5 miles, rest, 5 mile pace run, and 20 mile long run. The final push forward. The second 20 miler.

At the start of the week, I was so tired from moving. Beyond tired. I don't think I stopped doing things for a week and a half. Pack stuff. Travel. Unpack stuff. Buy stuff. Organize stuff. Buy more stuff. Extra alcohol, lack of sleep, lack of my usual food, and being out of my routine didn't help either. I am glad that a stepback week lined up with the week I was moving.

I skipped my yoga class this week. It was a combo of being too tired and just barely getting back to Rhode Island before the class started. I gotta say, I could tell the difference. My legs felt more stiff than usual. I'm usually not that stiff anyway, in part because I've been training at this level long enough that I think my body just says "Another long run? *sigh* OK. Let's go." But still. I could feel it. That yoga must be doing something good.

Sunday - Rest. First day of complete rest in a week and a half. I needed it.

Monday - Decided to sleep instead of run in the morning, so I went out for 5.7 miles after work. It was still mostly light out. Score. Ran relatively fast, probably because I wasn't dressed warmly enough. Wasn't freezing but could have used more clothes. Got to see the sun set. Did lunges, calf raises, abs, and lower back when I got home.

Tuesday - 9.3 mile run in the AM. Got going a little later than I wanted to. It wasn't completely dark, though, so that was a plus. Got to see the sun rise. Ran relatively fast again because running in DC last week spoiled me and I still wasn't dressed warmly enough.

Wednesday - 5.6 mile run on the treadmill, plus upper body strength training and squats. Did planks and pushups in the evening. Back on track with my strength training.

Thursday - Rest. Sweet sweet rest.

Friday - 5.3 mile pace run. In the snow. It was supposed to change over to rain later in the day, but I'd rather run in snow. It wasn't sticking. It wasn't too cold. This pace run was only slightly uncomfortable. Yes, it was a little bit slower than some of my other pace runs, but I wasn't really watching the pace and still banged out a 7:43 pace overall. Nice. Something must be going right this training cycle.

Saturday - 20.6 mile run. Another epic long run. It was very windy, so windy at times that the wind almost pushed me backwards. We're talking sustained wind, not gusts. It was good practice for Shamrock, since part of the course is along the beach and it could be windy. I planned a route down to a state park, a loop in the park and a pitstop, back to my car, refuel break, about 4 miles north, and then 4 miles back. Something strange happened with my Garmin and I couldn't see the mile splits. I kept an eye on the overall pace, though, as I think that is more useful than individual mile splits. The overall pace was in the 8:10s the whole time. I got to practice keeping my excitement levels in check and reeling it in when I needed to. 20 miles is a long way to run. You don't want to go out too fast. By mile 14 or so, it was starting to get harder. I maintained my overall pace and slowly watched it drop. I practiced my mantras. I have worked too hard to fail now. Reach into the pain locker. I am a beast. Oh, I was channeling lots of beast vibes. I got a massive surge of energy when at mile 19.5 I saw 8:09 on the overall pace. What! Under 8:10 for almost 20 miles?? I banged out an 8:07 overall pace. For 20.6 miles! Alone. In the wind. Whoa. I checked in with myself at mile 16. Could I keep going for another 10 miles? Yep, I thought so. I checked in again at mile 18. Another 8 miles? Yep, I thought so too. Good stuff.

Total Miles: Scheduled - 43 Actual - 46.5

And that brings me to taper on a confidence boost. 3 weeks til Shamrock!!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

On the Road out of the Rhode: Part II

I am feeling a lot better about moving to Washington, DC. My apartment is in a perfect location. About 20-25 minutes into downtown DC on the Metro. Within walking distance of 2 supermarkets, 2 pharmacies, a bazillion coffee shops, a FroZenYo (self-serve frozen yogurt), a sports store, a running store, and a ton of other things. I can see the Metro from my apartment. I don't even have to cross a busy street to get to the station. Not bad for not actually seeing the apartment until we had a signed lease and keys in hand.

Now I just need to find a job. I am getting back into sending out more applications, this time with an address in the DC area. And I am finally getting some calls back for interviews. Promising signs? I think so.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Marathon Training Week 14

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 5, 5, and 5 miles, rest, 8 mile run, and 12 mile long run. The final stepback week before one last high mileage week. And then taper. Say what?

This week was busy. I was traveling. And moving. And still trying to get all of my workouts in. I rearranged my running schedule so that I could get in all of my runs. I planned on doing strength training, but I quickly realized that it just wasn't going to happen this week. Loading and unloading a moving truck is plenty fine strength training in my book.

Sunday - second Run for Sherry with my running buddies. Did 5.2 miles at an easy pace on a cold sunny morning. Legs felt fine in spite of running 20 miles the previous day. Went to my yoga class at my gym.

Monday - No running because I ran on Sunday instead. If I did run on Monday, I would run 6 days in a row. I don't think I have ever done that in my life. Did a 20-minute yoga podcast instead. Loaded the moving truck. Very much like putting a puzzle together.

Tuesday - 5.7 mile run. Got this one done in the morning before I left. Finished packing the last few things in the truck. Travel day #1. Rhode Island to the metro NYC area. Bought a mattress along the way. Don't ever try to slide a mattress and box spring on top of random items in a moving truck. Trust me on this one.

Wednesday - Quasi-rest. Travel day #2. Metro NYC area to Washington, DC. Unloaded the moving truck. It went much faster than loading the truck.

Thursday - 5.3 mile run on the treadmill. I was tiiiiiired.

Friday - 8.2 mile run. Holy moly, the area where I am going to be living is hilly. Pace was slower than usual, but whatever. Moving is serious business.

Saturday - 13.2 mile run with a friend. Got to see Rock Creek and the Potomac River. We have 2 different Garmins and didn't have the same distance readings. Huh. That was strange. But the weather was nice. Spring-like. Daffodils in bloom already? Strange as well.

Total Miles: Scheduled - 35 Actual - 37.6

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

On the Road out of the Rhode

I have been on the cusp of moving out of Rhode Island since, oh, 2007? 2008? In 2008, it was almost to Delaware (Dela where? Dela who?) where my husband was in grad school. But it took me longer than I anticipated to make progress on my PhD. So I planned on staying put til I had just my dissertation left. And then it made more sense professionally for me to stay in Rhode Island. I started teaching. I got asked to teach again. And again. My husband's job moved him to the Boston area. I graduated and accepted a post-doc in Rhode Island. We were set for a while. We moved in with his parents (It was supposed to be for a few months and yet I am still there almost 2 years later). Then he got a new job and moved to Washington, DC. I stayed in Rhode Island in my post-doc because once again, it made more sense professionally for me to stay in Rhode Island.

Well, I am not teaching at the moment. My post-doc is almost over. I won't have anything holding me in Rhode Island soon. I finally reached the point where I just need to pick up and go, job or no job. Everything other than what will fit in my car is currently in transit to Washington, DC. I trail along in late March or early April.

There's a lot I will miss about Rhode Island. My running buddies. My grad school friends. Proximity to Boston. Lots of good restaurants. Being near the ocean.

It's unfortunate that I think that the economy in Rhode Island is going get worse before it gets better. That's part of the reason why I can't stay in Rhode Island. Cities are about to go bankrupt. Taxes and unemployment are too high. My post-doc was one of a handful of jobs for me. Too bad. Rhode Island is a small strange place. But it is a nice small strange place.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Marathon Training Week 13

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 5, 8, and 5 miles, rest, 5 mile pace run, and 20 mile long run. The first of two 20 milers is this weekend. Hello, training peak.

Sunday - Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown (Level 1), plus a yoga podcast, for about an hour total. Yoga Meltdown was harder than I expected. Oh, I'll do it again and it was a good workout. But it's definitely beyond the power yoga I usually do. Did calf raises and lunges while watching the Super Bowl pre-game show.

Monday - 5.7 mile run on a cold clear morning. Easy pace. Saw a nice sunrise. Did lower back, abs, and pushups in the evening.

Tuesday - 9.3 mile run. Saw the full moon setting and the sun rising. Not too chilly. I like that it is starting to get light earlier.

Wednesday - 5.7 mile run on the treadmill, plus upper body strength training and squats. I am so done with Nike+ eating my distance. What gives? If I run at the same consistent speed on the same treadmill, why is the distance different every single time? Did planks in the evening.

Thursday - Rest. More sleep. I was extra tired this week.

Friday - 5.3 mile pace run. Kinda chilly. Finally no wind. These pace runs have definitely gotten easier. Bring it, marathon.

Saturday - 20.5 mile run. Participated in Run for Sherry, which I will address in another post. Another long run in the snow. In 3ish mile loops, although I learned how to add on a half mile here and there. The snow wasn't that bad, pretty light most of the time. It didn't even stick to the ground. Yay. Definitely not as bad as my run in the snow a few weeks ago. I ran faster than I wanted to at the beginning because I wanted to capitalize on less snow (it actually stopped snowing for about an hour). The first 13.1 miles were exactly 2 minutes off my half marathon PR. I stopped at 13.1 for a pitstop. The last 7 or so miles were not quite as fast. I took an untimed walk break at mile 14 to get rid of a painful side stitch. Miles 16-18 were uncomfortable. The wall? Probably. My hips felt sore. I slowed down a lot. But then I felt better after mile 18. Two and a half miles to go. I just have to hold this for 2 and half more miles. I can do that. When I reached 20 miles, I checked in with myself to see if I felt like I could keep going another 6 miles. I knew I didn't need to do it today, but I felt like I had enough energy left and could have picked up the pace if I had needed to. I left my iPod at home because of the snow. I made it the whole way without music. Longest run without the iPod!! I ran faster than my 18 mile run in the snow, too. Yay again!!

Total Miles: Scheduled - 43 Actual - 46.5

Monday, February 6, 2012

Runner Rewards

My Nike+ Women's Half Marathon finishers bracelet arrived in the mail today. Yay! That was faster than I expected. At least I got something for a virtual race.

The box, the card the bracelet was attached to, the bracelet, and a card about the virtual race


The leather band says "I RUN TO BE"

A bracelet is kinda like a race medal, right? :-)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Marathon Training Week 12

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 5, 5, and 5 miles, rest, 8 mile pace run, and 13 mile long run. Stepback week #4. I like working hard, but I also really like stepback weeks. Relative rest is good.

This week is nearing the peak of my marathon training. I am officially in that eat-everything-that-isn't-nailed-down phase. Sometimes I'll eat things are nailed down, just because I am hungry all. the. time. Welcome back to my stomach, little marathon monster. Nice for you to visit again?

Sunday - yoga class at Roger Williams Park Zoo sponsored by my local Lululemon showroom. My regular Sunday yoga class was canceled. The Lululemon class was pretty much exactly what I would have done anyway, plus it was free and included free admission to the zoo afterwards. Perfect. I had never been to the zoo before, so I wandered around for 45 minutes after the class. Did calf raises in the evening.

Monday - 5.6 mile run. Windy. I was off in la la land for most of this run. I guess I had a lot to think about. It was time to retire my old shoes for the pair of new shoes that had been sitting in my closet for the last few weeks. My old shoes had more miles on them than I thought. For some reason, I thought they had around 350 miles on them. Nope, it was more like 415. Yeeeah. Time for new shoes. I stuck with the Saucony Progrid Guide 4s (review here) but in a greenish/silver combo. They go well with my sparkly silver shoelaces. I picked green because these are the shoes that are coming with me on the Shamrock Marathon. Did abs, lower back, and lunges in the evening.

Tuesday - 5.6 mile run. Ran slightly faster than Monday. Too bad I didn't wait until later in the day. It was another gift of unseasonal weather.

Wednesday - 5.6 mile run on the treadmill, plus upper body strength training and squats. U2's Even Better than the Real Thing was playing when I walked into the gym. Nice. I usually do chest exercises with weights as part of my upper body strength training, but one of my arms just wasn't feeling it. No biggie. I skipped them this week. Did pushups and planks in the evening.

Thursday - Rest.

Friday - 8.2 mile pace run. Colder than the last few days, windy. Got some practice at using my mental strategies. This run was about imagining I was in the last 8 miles of a marathon. Run hard and finish. My splits varied a bit because the wind was at my back with a downhill half the time and the wind was against me on the uphills the half of the time. Successfully kept my overall pace a few seconds under my goal marathon/training pace. I was dreading this run, but it ended up going very well. Go me. Did some more packing for over an hour. I was highly amused when I found my Staples Easy button.

Saturday - 14.3 mile run. It's funny how I always get to this point in my training cycle and think, "Oh. That is not a long run." I usually run on a bike path, but I decided to do two 7-mile loops from my house instead. Did a loop down to Brown University and back, stopped at my house for a pitstop, then did a loop to East Providence and back. Pleasant weather, although it was a little windy. Overall pace was a bit faster than I planned, but it felt comfortable the whole time. Foam rolled when I got home. Then spent 20 minutes butchering a package of chicken breasts that still had the skin and bones.

Total Miles: Scheduled - 36 Actual - 39.3

6 weeks to go!! Shamrock is next month!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Water water everywhere

What's better than plain old water? Electrolyte water, that's what.

I started drinking electrolyte water (you know, Smartwater, or one of its generic cousins). Despite looking at the nutrition label and ingredient list, I still am not sure what electrolyte water has in it. Apparently, the electrolytes are just for taste. I wasn't sure the electrolytes were doing anything. But I kept drinking it during long runs because it wasn't hurting. The tap water in my area is nasty, sometimes even after it has been filtered. While expensive, electrolyte water tasted better. Much better.

Over time, I noticed there WAS a difference between plain water and electrolyte water. It didn't make a difference in everyday runs, say your average easy pace shortish weekday run. But it did for hard or long runs, say a longish pace run. A few weeks ago, I did an 8 mile pace run on a treadmill. I thought I would be OK with my regular water bottle filled with filtered tap water. I started to feel nauseous a few miles from the end. This has happened a few other times too. It definitely happened on a 12 mile run in Washington, DC on a humid and warm day when my bottles were filled with tap water. Of course, this could have been lack of electrolytes in general on those runs, but I think part of it was no electrolyte water.

Hmmm. Interesting.