Saturday, March 31, 2012

March Mileage Summary

Total Miles: 148.8
Total Runs: 20
Average Distance per run: 7.4 miles
Average Speed/Pace: 7.3 mph/8:13 pace
Races: 1 marathon
Highlights: BQing/GQing/21 minute PR at the Shamrock Marathon

Spell it with me: B-E-A-S-T

Gansett, you saw what I did at Shamrock. You better start running now ;-)

Marathon Training Week 20

My plan for the week was ... my own plan. I didn't like any of the plans I saw, so I made up my own multiple marathon schedule. I'm keeping Hal Higdon's intermediate structure of run 5 times a week (3 days in a row, then 2 days in a row), cross-train one day, and completely rest one day, plus strength training where it fits. I can adjust as necessary. I start a 2-week taper after this week.

Will this work? I don't know. I am going into uncharted territory. But I know how I like to train. I have learned through multiple training cycles how to listen carefully to my body. I've been doing this long enough that I think I know what works. We'll see what happens on April 14.

Gansett will throw off my schedule in the last week because it is on a Saturday. Every other marathon or half marathon I've done has been on a Sunday. That's pretty minor, though. A day or two has never really thrown me off in the past.

Sunday - last yoga class at my gym. I was sad that my regular instructor wasn't there, although I went on Monday after one of her other classes to say goodbye. My legs needed yoga. Oh, they could feel it. Did calf raises before class.

Monday - 4.5 mile run in the AM. A wee bit chilly but generally pleasant. Last day at my job. Carried my box of stuff from cleaning out my office about a quarter mile. Jelly arms.

Tuesday - 9.3 mile run. Last longish run in Rhode Island. Cold and windy. I was not feeling this run at all. Went out too fast in the beginning. Felt tired and lightheaded at the end. I didn't eat enough beforehand or bring enough water with me (had an 8 oz Fuelbelt bottle ... not nearly enough). And I started my run later than I usually do, hence not enough food. Lesson learned. I felt perfectly fine once I got home and had more food. And water. And coffee. Went to the gym to do lunges, upper body strength training, squats, and core work. Still having some occasional weird issues with my right quad, so I lightened up on the squats a bit. Last time at my gym.

Wednesday - 5.7 mile run. Last time on my regular running route. Miscalculated my turnaround point, so I ended up running farther than I meant to. Not as cold, though. Walked all over Boston. Last time I will be in Boston for a while.

Thursday - Rest. And traveling. Again. It'll be nice when this traveling business lets up.

Friday - 7.2 mile pace run. Flew around my hometown in capris and a short-sleeve shirt. I'm not sure what my pace should be, but I figured run comfortably fast. Overall pace was 7:33. Hello, confidence. Glad you're sticking around. I needed that after some of the runs I had this week. I still got it.

Saturday - 18.2 mile long run in and around Eisenhower Park. In the mist. Wasn't too cold, though, as long as you had the right clothing. Ran a little bit in the park, then around the park clockwise, then in the park, then most of the way around the park counter-clockwise, then a few more miles in the park. Took bathroom breaks at mile 2 and 15, refueled at my car at mile 10, and had to take a short untimed walk break at mile 16.5 to get rid of a painful side stitch. I planned the end carefully so that I ended exactly at my car. At that point, I had been misted and lightly rained on for almost 2 1/2 hours. I needed to get into dry clothes as soon as I stopped. I was glad that the bathroom that wasn't open earlier was finally open. It was warm, or at least warmer than it was outside. This was another run to boost my confidence. My pace held steady in the 8:10s, fell to 8:09 at mile 13, and finished in the 8:00s. The last 6 miles were sub-8 without even trying. Well, I was trying in the last 3 miles or so but wasn't pushing it before then. Woot!

Total Miles: 44.9

It's taper time again!!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Open Letter Randomness

Dear Carra,
I know it wasn't nice to load you with so much stuff that I couldn't see out the back and then expected you to go fast. I know, you didn't handle like you normally do. I know, it was like running a marathon with a weighted backpack on. You are a trooper. Rest today and tomorrow and then we'll head out for the last 200 miles or so on Sunday. I promise we won't do this again. Well, maybe.
car mama

Dear guido guy in an Infinity,
I bet you thought you were clever passing me on the right on the parkway and then looking at me when I went flying past you while you were on an exit ramp. Idiot. Don't be fooled by my license plates. I learned how to drive here. I can drive just as aggressively as anyone else.
former Long Islander

Thursday, March 29, 2012

On the Road out of the Rhode: Part III

A few more hours and then I am on the road again.

I have slowly said goodbye to people in Rhode Island since the beginning of March. My running buddies (although I will see many of them when I come back to run Gansett). My coworkers. My major professor. The priest who performed my wedding ceremony who I followed to a parish in Providence. My yoga instructor. My in-laws (who I have lived with for 2 years). The campus where I got my graduate degrees. OK, so that isn't a person. It's still bittersweet.

I still don't have a job. I have a good lead on a job, though. I have a growing list of positions to apply for. My resume is in the hands of a headhunter. I no longer have to explain that I am in Rhode Island but will be moving to the DC area soon. Things are looking promising. In the meantime, I run and enjoy all of the free things to do in DC.

I will be back. I have family in Rhode Island (see the point above re: in-laws). I'm going back in April (good, since I can't fit everything in my car) and at least one more time to return my stuff from work. I've been at this point of almost leaving before. But this time it is different. I really am leaving Rhode Island. If people ask me where I am from, I don't think I will say New York where I grew up. I am a Rhode Islander. A transplanted Rhode Islander, but a Rhode Islander nonetheless.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

So about that Gansett Marathon course being flat

It is. Sort of.

I scratched my head looking at the Gansett course map and elevation chart. It looks like there is a hill in the beginning of the marathon and then another one later on. Because the course loops around twice, you get to run both hills twice. Joy of joys. The Blessing of the Fleet 10 mile race runs on part of the Gansett course. I ran the Blessing several times. I don't remember hills.

That's because the hill in the beginning isn't a hill. It is a long gentle incline for about 3/4 mile. One of the nice things about my job (wah, last day was Monday) was that I worked close to Narragansett. I popped down after work last week, parked at Narragansett Town Beach (I miss this crescent-shaped beach so very much), and ran about the first 2 miles of the Gansett course. The start is at the curved part above the r in Pier at the top of the map.


R2's elevation data backed me up. It is not as bad as the graph makes it out to be. Check the scale. The "hill" is an elevation gain of about 60 feet over 3/4 mile. I could see and feel the long gentle incline. It wasn't that bad, though. I turned around at mile 2.4 at the blue spike and ran back to just before where I started. Also, I don't know why it looks like I went below sea level at the very beginning. That is not possible. I promise you I did not jump in the water and go for a swim ;-)


Side note: I actually used a similar example in my stats class to illustrate what happens when you change the scale of your graph. I took the official elevation chart and my Garmin data from RnR Providence. I made the course look flat and then made it look hilly. All I did was change the scale.

If that's a "hill," the rest of the course is pretty darn flat. Good stuff.

In related Gansett news, I dug up my emails from volunteering last year. I saw the race from the other side and was impressed. Can I just say how amazingly organized the race director is? His level of detail for volunteers (maps, specific instructions, times to expect runners, etc) is incredible. Then there was a spectator guide to match. Holy organization, Batman. Big race or small race, I have never ever seen anything like this. Super impressed yet again.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Shamrock, one more time

OK, I think this is the last one. Maybe. Don't hold me to that. There will be a lot of blogging in the next few days. Bad = no job. Good = extra time.

Part of my marathon strategy is to check in with myself in the higher miles. I planned to do this at mile 18 at Shamrock. That's the point where I usually hit the wall. That's also near the point where you can switch from long-distance race mindset to shorter race mindset and start counting down the miles. Just 8 more miles, then a 10K, then a 5K. Yeah. Didn't happen. I didn't need to. I was comfortably cruising at mile 18. Seriously cruising. The pace felt sustainable, almost effortless. My form was good. I was mentally on it, even though this was a very isolated stretch of the course. During the race, I don't even think I was aware that I had planned to check in with myself at mile 18. It was still all systems go. Same thing at mile 20 where I knew I was under 8:00 overall. It was a perfect day.

The hardest part of the marathon was not the marathon. Really. It was the training. It was getting out there every day, even if I didn't feel like it or the weather wasn't cooperating. I have NEVER felt that way about a marathon before. RnR Mardi Gras was tough in the last miles because my quads hurt so badly. Cox Providence and Chicago were mentally difficult races. I learned how to (not) address dehydration at Chicago, but I also learned how to (not) manage my mental focus correctly. Those were vitally important skills for Shamrock. Who decides to sign up for another marathon literally on crossing a marathon finish line? This girl did. See, it couldn't have been that bad.

My recovery after Shamrock was relatively easy. Not quite as easy as Chicago, but not too far off either. Score. I stayed on speaking terms with stairs. I had many hot dates with my foam roller. I was back running 4 days later (minimal soreness, yay) and back to my normal speed in a week. No, I am not fully recovered yet. My yoga class a couple days ago showed me that I have lost some flexibility. That's OK. I asked a lot of my body. I am not terribly surprised it pushed back.

I have to gear up to run another marathon in 18 days. That certainly has an impact on my recovery. Just keep moving.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

M is for Marathon

Anyone remember when I said 3 marathons in one year was too much and there was a chance I'd run 3 in 2012? I thought carefully about that. 3 marathons in 2012 it is.

At some point, I said I wouldn't double down on my training and run 2 back-to-back marathons again (did 2 in 10 weeks last year, got injured in between, and had a mentally bad second marathon). Yeah, I thought carefully about that too. 2 marathons in 27 days it is. I am not the only one who qualified at Shamrock who is also running Gansett. Excellent. More crazy runners.

I also said I wouldn't train through the winter for a marathon again. Yet I did it and it was better than I expected. Much much better than last winter. Wait, what winter? It was the mildest winter in a long long time. It barely snowed. I only needed my soft shell jacket once. I only needed a fleece once or twice. I had some runs that required no cold weather gear. The bike path where I do my long runs stayed clear the whole time. I only had to adjust my running route because of snow a handful of times.

Now that Shamrock is all wrapped up, these were my spring race plans. There were a select few people who knew about my Plan A. I didn't want to jinx it. I had Gansett on my radar but couldn't commit until I saw how I did at Shamrock. Plan A it is!

Plan A (under 3:35): Run the Gansett Marathon on April 14. Maybe run the Frederick Half Marathon in Maryland on May 6. I am signed up for Gansett (this is how organized this race is ... I was in the list of registered runners within hours of registering). Still not sure about Frederick. Dunno if I want to race again after doing 2 marathons in 27 days.

Plan B (3:35:01 or over): Run the Long Island Marathon or Cox Providence Marathon. Both are on May 6. I have family in both locations, so my only costs would be the entry fee and transportation. Or maybe the half for either. Or the Frederick Half if I didn't want to travel. A spring half would mean I'd have to put all my eggs in the Marine Corps Marathon. I probably wouldn't be able to qualify for Boston for 2013. Long Island is mostly flat. Cox was a mental disaster last year. I am a Cox legacy, though, and didn't want to give that up. Either marathon would have been a decent but not optimal choice for another BQ/GQ attempt. Thankfully, I don't have have to go that route. I'm kinda done with traveling for a while.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Marathon Training Week 19

I spent 18 weeks for training for Shamrock and will spend another 4 weeks training for Gansett. 22 weeks total I guess?

My training plan for the week was no plan. Take it easy. Sign up for Gansett. Rest and foam roll in the beginning of the week. Attempt to start running on Wednesday or Thursday. Try to do a shorter long run over the weekend. Run in Narragansett!

I looked into Hal Higdon's multiple marathon plans. I like Hal's plans, but I'm not sure the 4-week one is right for me. The mid-week runs looked reasonable. But there is a longish long run the weekend before the marathon and only one week of taper. I would like to do one longish long run next weekend. I'm leery of a one-week taper. So I think I am going to make up my own plan. I have the flexibility to be able to run more, although I know not to ramp it up too quickly. The big thing I need to do is continue to pay very careful attention to my body. Now is not the time to do anything stupid.

Monday and Tuesday - Marathon recovery. No running. Foam rolling and playing with The Stick. Submitted my application for Gansett, waited to get it approved, and signed up the next day. Go go Gansett go!

Wednesday - Still no running. More foam rolling and playing with The Stick. My left leg felt reasonably OK. My right quad was still sore. It was getting better, though.

Thursday - 3.7 mile run. Got going just before 7am for an easy run to test the legs. Wore a skirt and short-sleeve T-shirt. In March. Pace was around 9:00, nice and easy. My right quad was still not 100%, but everything else was fine. I enjoyed seeing most of my morning regulars. Did some pushups in the evening because I felt like it. Got out the foam roller since I already had my mat out.

Friday - 4.6 mile run after work in Narragansett along the sea wall and Ocean Road. Beautiful weather. Waaaay too fast (8:18?!?), but everything felt good. I psychologically needed it. Right quad is up to 99%. Scouted out part of the Gansett course (long gentle incline in the 2nd and 17th miles that I somehow never noticed before), then got dinner from Markos Kabob for the second night in a row. Narragansett is one of the things I will miss the most. Less than one week til I leave Rhode Island :-(

Saturday - 8.5 mile long run. Paced this one in the 8:40s. Much better. Felt great. It was a perfect day to be out for a run. Right around 50 degrees with mostly sunny skies and some breezes. Went to Brown University and downtown Providence, then turned around and retraced my route.

Total Miles - 16.8

Shamrock Marathon: Race Review

I ran the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach, VA on March 18, 2012. There is also a half marathon, as well as an 8K and a series of kids races the previous day. Over 27,000 people participated in this year's Shamrock races.

The course - Flat as a pancake. Essentially 2 half marathon loops that start and finish fairly close together. The half marathon (which started earlier) runs on the back half of the marathon course. The full marathon has one bridge that you run over twice, but that's it. Long sections are very straight.

Completely separate from the half marathon - I liked this a lot. You are with marathoners from the very beginning. I don't think I have seen this done at any other race that has both a half and full marathon. The two races started in 2 different places at 2 different times. The half starts first, which is unusual. Logistically, it works. If the marathon started first, the speedy marathoners would merge into the back of the half marathon and create a huge bottleneck. No bueno. The only time the half starting first would be a problem is if it is hot.

Size - About 3300 marathon finishers. Personally, I think this is the perfect size. Enough people so that you are never running alone but not so many people that you can't move.

Weather - Average high for March in Virginia Beach is in the high 50s. Get the wind blowing in the right direction and good things happen.

Expo - Packet pick-up was quick and easy. Free parking at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. All of your standard vendors were there. I wanted Bondi Bands, new headphones, and new caps for my Fuelbelt bottles. I found them all. Some people complained about long lines at the Shamrock Store. A post-race email apologized for the long lines, said they'd get more cashiers next year, and offered free shipping on orders over $25. I can live with that.

Parking - I walked to and from the race, so I have no idea if parking/traffic was an issue. Virginia Beach has free on-street parking in March. As long as you don't try to park on the course, I would imagine it would be OK. You do kinda need a car if you want to get off the oceanfront.

Gear check - I didn't use it, but it seemed smooth.

Pace groups - I didn't use a pace group either, but there were some pace groups.

Port-a-potties - I saw plenty on the course and at the finish. Could have used a few more at the marathon start. I hopped into one of the oceanfront hotels to use a real bathroom about 15 minutes before the race started.

Corrals - Worked perfectly. Not crowded in the corral or once the race started. I got in my corral about 10-15 minutes before the gun went off. Volunteers were good at checking bibs to make sure people were in the right corral.

Start - The gun went off right on time.

Volunteers - I hope every single one of them comes back next year. They were great!

Spectators - I liked the Marines in Camp Pendleton the best. The area with the most spectators was around the halfway point. There were some areas with no or limited spectators. Didn't see a ton of posters. It didn't bother me, though. Shamrock had DJs on the course in several spots and riddle posters in one area that was particularly isolated.

Bibs - Personalized with your name. Some people don't like this. I found it helpful. I said thank you or gave a thumbs up to anyone who cheered me by name.

Aid stations - Fully stocked (although I was at the front of the marathon pack, so take this with a grain of salt). Volunteers yelled whether they had water or Gatorade, plus you could tell by the color of the cup. The water in Virginia Beach is heavily chlorinated and you can taste it. Be aware of that. I recently started using Nuun tablets (electrolyte tablets that dissolve in plain water). I hadn't been using them long enough to try during Shamrock, but I did put them in Virginia Beach tap water to mask the chlorine. There were two stations with CarbBoom gels. I carry my own supply of shot bloks and I wouldn't have eaten CarbBoom on the course (don't like gels to begin with and couldn't find them to test them out). There was one aid station in the higher miles with food. Not sure whether it was an official aid station. All I remember were little cups of gummy bears.

Finish line - Wave hello to the King Neptune statue and cross the finish line. Leprechaun Bob announces you by name and hometown. I must have been losing my mind at the finish line because I heard my hometown pronounced correctly. No one outside of Rhode Island knows how to say it right.

Using a Garmin - My Garmin read 26.39 miles at the end. A difference of .2 mile in a marathon is not too much of a difference. I've seen much much worse. If you weave around, don't run perfect tangents on turns or corners, or are in an area with tall buildings and trees, the Garmin will be off. There's some random measurement error too. Usually, the pace on the Garmin is off by 5-10 seconds per mile as compared to the official pace based on your finishing time. My Garmin pace was off by 3 seconds per mile compared to my official pace. Thumbs up in my book.

Swag - Shamrock does it better than anyone else. Marathoners get a long-sleeved technical race shirt. But Shamrock didn't stop there. When you finish, you also get a finishers hat AND a T-shirt. This year, the finishers shirt was a technical hooded sweatshirt in honor of Shamrock's 40th anniversary. The swag bag is one of those drawstring sack bags that will be my new gym bag. The race program is a calendar. The medal doubles as a bottle opener and has a detachable shamrock charm.

Post-race refreshments - Water, Gatorade, bananas, sugar cookies, granola bars, and pretzels. The bananas were green and pretty much inedible. Oh well, can't be perfect. Things happen. There was also beef stew (more like beef soup ... warm salty liquid never tasted so good). Your race bib got you 4 (!?!) Yuengling beers. 274 kegs were consumed this year. We must be a bunch of drinkers with a running problem.

Post-race party - Shamrock also does it better than anyone else. On a tent on the beach. The cool sand felt nice against my gnarly runner's feet. Have your picture taken with a giant sand sculpture. Listen to some music. This year had Vertigo, a U2 tribute band, plus 2 other bands. I'm a little biased because U2 is my favorite band. Vertigo didn't start playing til 2pm when just about all the runners were done. They were fun!

Hotels - I stayed on the Virginia Beach oceanfront. I warmed up by running to the marathon start and back, then stretched and hung out in my hotel room til a half hour before the start, and then walked to the start line. Without knowing it, I picked the perfect hotel (Best Western Plus Oceanfront). It wasn't too expensive. It was about a mile from the half marathon start, a quarter mile from the marathon start, and at the finish line and post-race party. I got to open up the balcony door and hear the music from the comfort of my hotel room. My room looked out directly at the Shamrock sand sculpture.

Shamrock's Facebook page - Full of useful information and a good way to connect with other runners. The night before the half and marathon, King Neptune told us all to go to bed. Tee hee!

Organization - Virtually flawless. Plenty of information was provided. The things that weren't quite right were very minor. That happens at every race. They took responsibility for mistakes and attempted to make them better. That's how you run a good race.

Overall, I cannot say enough good things about Shamrock, and not only because I had an epic race. This is an all-around quality event. Everything was well-organized and well-supported. I have ran a lot of different races, everything from small local races to big city marathons. Shamrock wins overall by a landslide. I will be back!!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Shamrock Music

Shamrock set out DJs at various points on the course. These locations and songs I remember:

Mile 3 - Lady Gaga - The Edge of Glory. It was too early in the race to tell whether I was on the edge of glory. In hindsight, it was an auspicious sign.

Mile 5 turnaround - Foster the People - Pumped Up Kicks. Foster the People has some good running music. I sang along until I couldn't hear the DJ any longer.

Mile 13.1 - Bon Jovi - Living on a Prayer. I actually turned to 2 runners next to me and said, "Hey, we really are halfway there" just after that line played.

There were more DJs out on the course, but I either can't remember what they played, don't remember where they were, or didn't recognize what they were playing.

I ran the first 14 miles or so without music. I am used to running about that far without it, and there were enough interesting things on the course to keep me occupied. At mile 14, the music needed to come out. It got suddenly quiet. The course had been too straight for too long. I knew it was going to continue that way for many more miles.

A leprechaun possessed my iPod and picked me the following songs (with approximate mile markers):

Mile 14-15 Atlantic Ave north
Kevin Rudolf - I Made It. I had set my Shamrock playlist to shuffle before I started the race and then turned my iPod off. I knew this song was going to be the first song. It is more appropriate for a last song. Oh well. The beat was right. The message was good too. I hadn't made it yet, but I was pretty sure I was going to make it.
U2 - Magnificent (Redanka's 360 version) - This song is very long. Another song with a good beat. It was a message I needed to hear at that point. Magnificent. I turned onto Shore Drive towards the end of this song. Let the long crowdless stretch begin.

Mile 16-19 Shore Drive
Fraggle Rock - Pukka Pukka Pukka Squeetily Boink. I put this song on my playlist because I wanted something fun. It came on at just the right time.
Chris Brown - Yeah 3x. Any song that repeats "yeah" or "woo" or any other one-syllable noise is good in my book.
Lady Gaga - Highway Unicorn (Road to Love). On a section of road that looked like a highway. This song starts off with the lines "We can be strong ... run run with it" and a thumping beat.
Incubus - Dig. This is one of my unexpectedly favorite running songs. Already tested at the end of a long run.
30 Seconds to Mars - The Battle of One. Yes, a marathon is a giant battle of one.
Ke$ha - Take It Off. Eh. Not making the cut in the future.
Tom Cochrane - Life Is a Highway. Huh. Like Highway Unicorn, that was appropriate.

Mile 20-22 Fort Story and Cape Henry
Daft Punk - One More Time. This song saved me at the end of my first half marathon. I was very close to breaking 2 hours. This song helped me pick it up and run hard the last half mile. It ends up on most of my running playlists.
Passion Pit - Little Secrets. I remember hearing this song but didn't have any particular thoughts about it.
U2 - Elevation. U2 is my favorite band. Elevation is my favorite U2 song. I remember thinking I didn't particularly want to hear this song. Mmm. It's getting cut next time around.
Hanson - If Only. My favorite Hanson song. Don't pretend like you don't like Hanson too.
Blue October - Into the Ocean. I had just been thinking about looking for the ocean and thought about this song. Poof. There it was.

Mile 23-24 Atlantic Ave south
Chris Brown - Turn Up the Music. One of my favorite songs of the moment. Ironically, I had to turn the music down at an aid station.
Shakira - She Wolf. OK, be a she wolf and keep running.
Rihanna - Don't Stop the Music. Don't remember hearing this song. Maybe I was distracted by the fighter jets? Or starting to take more walk breaks?
Ke$ha - We R Who We R. Eh. Another Ke$ha song? The leprechaun could have done better than that. This song is being dropped from future marathon playlists.
Foster the People - Call It What You Want. Love this song. The rhythm in the beginning always makes me think of a step class.
Hanson - Can't Stop. Oh you think you're clever, leprechaun. I was taking a walk break when this song came on. Can't stop. Keep running. I ended up taking another break during this song, but at least it got me started up again.
Foo Fighters - Bridge Burning. Shoulda had this song for going over the bridge earlier in the race. Still good later in the game.

Mile 25
Sean Kingston - Fire Burning. The end of the song coincided pretty closely with reaching the boardwalk. Pulled out the headphones once I could see the finish line a half mile away.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

More Thoughts on the Shamrock Marathon

This is another long post. Still a couple more Shamrock posts to come. I am still enjoying my post-marathon glow. Just bear with me. It doesn't seem to be going anywhere soon. I'll nickname Shamrock the !?! Marathon for all the times I did something that made me go !?! Yes, there was a lot of that.

My thoughts about my performance in the Shamrock Marathon, in no particular order:

The course - The course is pancake flat except for a bridge that you run over twice. I am used to running hills, so the bridge did not phase me at all. There are many long, straight sections. Kinda boring at times but manageable.

The weather - Couldn't have asked for a better day. Mostly cloudy for most of the race. In the mid- to high-50s. Headwinds in the first half and tailwinds towards the finish.

Fluids - I was trying to carefully walk the line between overhydrating and underhydrating. I got it right this time. My Fuelbelt bottles were nearly empty at the finish line.

Fuel/food - I ate fewer shot bloks than usual. I usually eat a handful of pretzels around mile 12-13. I ate 2 or 3 around mile 15. Maybe I should have eaten more. I could feel a salty crust on my forehead in the higher miles. But I also knew I was drinking more Gatorade than usual. Overall, it worked pretty well.

Mantras - "Boston is going to happen today" became my mantra early on in the race. I had a collection of mantras to draw on. You never know which one will work until you are out there.

Concentration - I was careful to not use up too much energy in the beginning of the race. If I found my eyes wandering downward, I told myself to look up at the scenery. I kept an eye on my overall pace but wasn't overly focused on it.

Mental skills - They were much stronger than in marathons past. Must be all that running without music or practice at doing difficult things. Think running 18 miles in a snowstorm qualifies as difficult? How about running 20 miles alone in strong winds? I read Hal Higdon's chapter on mind games on the way to Shamrock. I had already incorporated most of his suggestions into my training. Excellent.

Being confident - I had a series of really great long runs leading up to Shamrock. I put up a great deal of bravado in the days before the race. But hey, it worked. I got out there and ran ran ran and didn't doubt what I could do. Tell yourself you can do something and you just might surprise yourself.

Monitoring my body - Nothing hurt too much. Sure, I could feel some blisters on my feet and yes, my muscles were getting a little sore. That's normal. I did not have a massive quad muscle fail. My hips, which had been acting up on some of my long runs, stayed OK. My ankle held up. Victories.

Learned from Chicago - The biggest issue was ignoring dehydration. This time, I recognized the signs of dehydration and did what I needed to do immediately. It worked. I felt fine when I finished.

Pace groups - I didn't use a pace group. I started off in between the 3:25 and 3:35 pace groups. Around mile 8, the 3:25 pace group was a couple minutes ahead of me. I decided that if the 3:35 pace group passed me, I needed to chase them down. The 3:35 pace group never came near me.

Pacing - Planned to run at an 8:00 pace, in part because I could easily memorize key splits and do the math on the fly. Banked some time up til mile 22, then started backing off because I was dehydrated. I ran all the way through mile 22. I set an unofficial half marathon PR (1:43:45). IN A MARATHON. WHO DOES THAT?!?

PRed big time - I had a hugely huge PR. I knocked off over 21 minutes!! And exactly 24 minutes off the time from my first marathon. I didn't even realize this until the day after the marathon. Well done, self, well done indeed.

Got my BQ/GQ - I met my lofty goal. My training, the flat course, and the weather all collided for an epic marathon.

Rankings - 305 out of 3303 finishers, 46 out of 1359 women (Top 50!?! Holy crap), and 8 out of 251 women in my age category. Sham Rock On indeed.

Corral 1 - I'll be honest. I wasn't sure I belonged in Corral 1. The cutoff for the corral was under 3:45. I put 3:35 as my projected finishing time when I signed up in October. My training suggested I belonged in Corral 1, but my previous marathon times did not. I certainly had no reason to believe I could run 3:35 when I signed up, other than I really wanted 3:35. By its nature, Shamrock draws a lot of people who run for fun. You see tutus, green wigs, and all sorts of Shamrock-themed things. Not in Corral 1, though. I think I saw 1 tutu. Green clothing, yes, but no silly costumes. It was all serious runners. Almost no one talked waiting for the race to start. That's one of many reasons why Shamrock is a great race. There is a place for the runners who want to be serious and a place for the runners who want to have fun and a place for everyone in between.

Ran a smart race - The me who ran Chicago failed to slow down when dehydration set in, didn't manage energy and mental focus correctly, and didn't adjust goals to weather conditions. The me who ran Shamrock ran infinitely smarter.

Ran evenly - My second half was only 4 minutes slower than my first half. I'll take it. I knew I could have picked it up at the end if I really needed to, but I didn't need to. Pretty darn close to negative splits.

Professional pictures - They are some of the best race pictures I've ever had. I am notorious for never seeing race photographers until I am past them. I usually end up with a lot of bad pictures. Even my crappy race pictures look good. I think I will be buying this batch. Double thumbs up with a smile AND King Neptune in the background? Yes please!

Training - I was worried about overtraining and pushing myself too hard. Nope, no overtraining. I pushed myself appropriately to improve. The shocking secret to run faster is to ... run faster.

Support of my running buddies - I had a group of strong women believing in me and encouraging me from the day I signed up for Shamrock to the moment I crossed the finish line and beyond. Thanks, buddies!!

In past races, I have taken pictures during the race. Not this time. I got a new phone that isn't amenable to taking pictures on the run. It just barely fits in the pocket of my Fuelbelt. So I wrapped it up in a plastic baggie at the start and didn't look at it again until I was done. But here are some other pictures.

Walking up Atlantic Ave to the start

King Neptune statue (taken the previous day)

View of the finish, finish area, and post-race party from my hotel balcony. Pardon my finger

Sand sculpture on the beach

Vertigo playing at the post-race party

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

And now for my next act

It's official. I am running the Gansett Marathon in Narragansett, RI. In 25 days. 27 days after Shamrock.

Crazy? C'mon now. Did you really expect anything less? You're talking to someone who has already ran a marathon and half marathon 7 days apart. Yes, this is different. I will manage it. I got here by working hard, but I also got here by carefully listening to my body.

I volunteered at Gansett last year because I wanted to see what it was all about. I knew I'd qualify. Eventually. I didn't know that eventually was going to be this year. My time might not be good enough for 2013, so 2012 it is. Plus I can use my Shamrock time for Boston for next year. That actually works pretty well. How could I not sign up for the only qualifiers only marathon outside of the Olympic Trials?? People say you are ready for next marathon when you have forgotten the last one. I was psychologically ready to sign up for Gansett as soon as I crossed the finish line at Shamrock.

Gansett will be very different than, say, a big city marathon like Chicago. Heck, it'll be different than a small city marathon like Cox Providence. It will be a marathoner's marathon. No big corporate sponsors. No frills. No crowds. No big hassles. I'm looking forward to that.

I haven't mapped out my training plan yet. My legs are a little bit more beat up than after Chicago. But not by much. I am not having any trouble with stairs. I brought The Stick to work with me to use as necessary. I'll wait and see how long it takes me to recover. This week is going to be easy, hopefully getting back into running at the end of the week. I will be temporarily unemployed (mostly) after the end of this week. That means extra time to run. This opportunity is not likely to come around again anytime soon. Why not take advantage of it?

I knew there was a reason why I set the background on my phone to this picture of The Towers. Gansett runs under The Towers twice. I ran Shamrock with my phone tucked into the pocket of my Fuelbelt. In a way, The Towers came along with me :-)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Shamrock Marathon: Mile-by-Mile

There will be multiple posts about the Shamrock Marathon. But first, the mile-by-mile race recap. It will be long.

Good morning, Virginia Beach

Getting ready to Sham Rock On

Mile 1-2 - south on Atlantic Ave. I was in Corral 1 (based on my projected time), so I crossed the start line in under 30 seconds. Settled into my pace within the first quarter mile. I knew I had to reel it in and not go out too fast. I planned to run at an 8:00 pace. Since R2 (my trusty Garmin) overestimates distance, I was aiming to be in the 7:50s. The temperature was perfect, but it was also somewhat humid. Or at least more humid than I am used to at this point in the year. I started drinking both water and Gatorade almost immediately. This was a wise move. I spent a lot of the first mile or two fiddling with my headphones and my Spibelt trying to get everything positioned correctly. My Fuelbelt stayed put the whole race. Didn't have to adjust it at all. Note to self: never try to wind your headphones around your iPod and then tuck the earbuds into your Fuelbelt or Spibelt. Just wind them behind your neck and tuck the headphones into the strap of your shirt.

Mile 2 - Some winding roads and over a bridge. The bridge is the only hill in the entire race. There might be some very gentle inclines in other places, but I didn't even notice them. Pancake flat.

Mile 3-5 - South to the turnaround. Passed the Virginia Aquarium. I dropped one of my water bottles and had to stop to quickly pick it up. My pace was exactly where I wanted it to be. Between 7:50-7:55. Somewhere in this stretch, the lead runners and escort passed me on the opposite side of the course.

Mile 6-7 - North from the turnaround. Pretty straight. Nothing too stand-out. I started picking runners off, one by one. Hit 7 miles at 55:53 (7:59). Spot on.

Miles 8 - Camp Pendleton Marine base. Loved this part!! Some of the Marines were out cheering and singing. I am really excited to run the Marine Corps Marathon in the fall. By this point, I knew I was having a good race. "Boston is going to happen today" started creeping into my head. You really do know about 5-10 miles in if you are having a good race.

Mile 9-10 - Still heading north. Over the bridge again and more winding roads. No more hills! By mile 10, my pace had settled into the low 7:50s. I was still picking off runners.

Mile 11 - North on the boardwalk. Straight into a headwind. At first, I hated the wind. But then I realized it was cooling me off. And it was going to be a tailwind on the way back into the finish.

Mile 12-16 - Back on Atlantic Ave. heading north. I did a systems check at about the halfway point. Tired? No. Aches and pains? No. Thirsty? No. Pace good? Yep, pace good. Boston is going to happen today. Hit the halfway point at 1:43:45 (7:55 pace). That's a half marathon PR by 2 minutes. In a marathon!! Whoa. Bon Jovi's Living on a Prayer was blasting as I ran by the half marathon mark. "We're halfway there" has never been more appropriate. I pulled out my iPod at mile 14. I was trying to make it to mile 16, but I needed the music. The course was just too straight. The lead runner and escort passed again on the opposite side of the course.

Mile 16-19 - Shore Drive. No mans land. No, really. There were no spectators for 3 miles straight. Except the road isn't straight and there there is a strong cant to the road along turns. This part could have been an epic disaster, but Shamrock got it right. Oh, did they get it right. There were signs with Shamrock-themed riddles. One sign was a riddle. The next was the answer. Some of them were lame, but most were funny. It definitely kept my mind off of a potentially boring stretch of the race. Hit mile 18 at 2:22:55 (7:56 pace). I was feeling pretty good, mentally had it, and was still picking runners off.

Mile 20-22 - Fort Story and Cape Henry, slowly turning south again. This part was also pretty boring with limited spectators. The Cape Henry lighthouse was interesting, though. You could catch glimpses of the ocean if you looked carefully. Hit mile 20 at under 2:38. Sub-8! For 20 miles!?! Boston IS going to happen today. Felt good at mile 20. Still felt good at mile 21. And I was STILL picking runners off.

Mile 22 - The sun came out and it was starting to get warmer. My pace had stabilized at 7:50 from about mile 10 to this point. Up until this point, all of my mile splits were under 8:00 (except the first time over the bridge and the mile where I dropped my water bottle). I knew I had several minutes of wiggle room to work with. I knew I was starting to get dehydrated, though. Sloshy stomach feeling was creeping into my belly. In hindsight, my experiences with the Chicago Marathon were really helpful here. I knew immediately that I was getting dehydrated (waaaay better to happen at mile 22 than mile 6 like at Chicago) and I needed to slow down and/or drink more Gatorade. My bottles were getting empty. I had successfully held off dehydration for 22 miles. I knew I would make it 4 more miles. So I took my first walk break. I couldn't believe that I RAN all the way through 22 miles. I have never ever ran that far without stopping. Ever. Boston is going to happen today, even if I slowed down.

Mile 23-25 - Atlantic Ave. again heading south. I took more walk breaks and started walking through some of the aid stations so that I could fill my water bottles. "How badly do you want it?" crept into my mind, and the answer was "Not that badly." Still, my pace didn't fall off that much. Boston is going to happen today. A bunch of fighter jets soared over head. Perfect timing. There were runners on the opposite side of the course. I always like parts of the course that double-back on themselves.

Mile 26 - A little bit farther on Atlantic Ave and then onto the boardwalk. I pulled my headphones out as soon as I turned onto the boardwalk. There was King Neptune and the finish line!! I knew it was deceptively far away. 3:28:xx on R2. About a half mile to go. It was not going to take me 7 minutes to run a half mile. I made gestures at spectators to get them to cheer and they did!!

Mile 26.2 - Passed King Neptune and crossed the finish line with 3:31:xx on the clock and on R2. Official time was 3:31:27. 4th time a marathoner and 1st time a Boston Qualifier AND Gansett Qualifier. I did it!!

Thumbs up on the Shamrock Marathon and my green Costco tank. The tanks are 2 for 2 in marathons.

Garmin unofficial time and 26.2 Finisher hat

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Reeeally quick Shamrock update


That gets me into Boston for 2013. But it also gets me into the Gansett Marathon for 2012. In 4 weeks. As soon as the results are official, I am signing up for Gansett.

More later. Seriously could not have gone better!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Ready to Get my Sham Rock On!

Here I am on the cusp of another marathon. When you pick out and commit to a marathon, it always seems like the marathon is so far away. You plot your training plan. You go out and run. Then all of a sudden, you are days away from your race.

I have a lofty goal again. The same one I had for Chicago. 3:35:00. Yep, that's a Boston Qualifier for me under the new standards. That's 3:35 flat. Not 3:35:30. Not 3:35:59. To reach my goal, I have to hold an 8:12 pace for 26.2 miles. I have to run a marathon 18 minutes overall and 42 seconds per mile faster than my PR. This is my second try at a BQ after a failed attempt at Chicago last year. I may not make it again, but I am feeling much more confident than last time around.

Still, I need an A day. I need the right weather. I need to run a smart race. I need everything to come together perfectly. I'm not sure I have a B goal. Go big or go home, right?

I have heard you will know within the first 5-10 miles how your race is going. I kind of agree with that. What you do in the early miles sets you up for the later miles. I've never had issues with 5-10 miles, though, or even a half marathon. I can pick a pace and hit it almost perfectly. I run into trouble somewhere after the halfway point. There is a lot that goes into a marathon performance. You have to get it all exactly right. Even a small miscalculation in pace, weather/temperature, energy, fluids, or fuel can cause problems. Some people run into trouble at mile 20. No. I have trouble somewhere between miles 15-19. I suspect this is where I hit the wall. My pace slows. I get all kinds of uncomfortable feelings. I need to reach deep into the pain locker. But once I get through it, it gets better. I pick up the pace. The uncomfortable feelings lessen. I keep going. For me, mile 18 is the critical point that makes or breaks my marathon. Mile 18 is where I decide to step on the gas pedal or set the cruise control and hold on.

I managed to keep calm and carry on in the days before Shamrock. Going into Chicago, I was revved up the entire week before the marathon. I didn't sleep well for days before the race. I flew into Chicago the morning before the marathon, went straight to the expo, had lunch, had an hour or two to settle into my hotel room, and then met friends for dinner. Not the way to prepare for a marathon. I used up too much energy before I even crossed the start line. Once I got out on the course, I was overly focused on trying to hit my planned pace in the first half of the marathon. I should have saved that focus for the second half. I learned that if I start to feel nauseous, I am already dehydrated and I need to do something immediately. I need to drink more Gatorade and/or get some salt into me and/or slow down. Where did that happen in Chicago? Mile 15-19? Yes, that's when it was worst. But it started much earlier. Around mile 6 if I really think about it. Trust me when I say that you don't want to run 20 miles into dehydration. Hopefully, I have learned what not to do. I have no desire to repeat that mistake at Shamrock.

In my preparation for races, I usually practice positive mantras. Commit yourself. Right here right now. Yes I can. Yes I can. Yes I can. I decided a few races back that I did not want mantras with negativity. Words like "not" or "fail" did not make it into my mantras. But I am not sure the positive-only strategy works. Some of my fastest runs have been on days when I was angry. I ran a PR half marathon (at the time) where so much went wrong pre-race that I didn't have time to warm up and almost didn't get to the start line on time. Negativity is not necessarily a bad thing.

On some of my runs, I practiced giving myself pep talks. Sometimes out loud and usually addressed to my legs. I did victory fist pumps if things were going particularly well. I didn't care if anyone else saw me, heard me, or thought I was strange. It helped. I practiced keeping my excitement levels in check. You will crash and burn if you go out too fast and don't leave enough fuel in the tank. You need to be mindful (but not overly mindful) of your pace, especially at the beginning where a fast pace feels easier than it actually is. I practiced picking up the pace at the end of a few of my long runs. I managed to run one of my fastest miles of this training cycle at the end of a 19 mile run. I did it again at the end of a 20+ mile run. Whoa. See, self? Yes I CAN run faster when I am tired. I had some utterly beastly runs where I ran faster than I ever imagined. Those runs were not overly difficult, and I felt like I could have kept going if I had needed to. When things start getting tough, I know I can sustain my pace AND pick it up because I've already done it. More than once. Having that confidence is priceless.

I have worked too hard to fail this time. Too many early morning workouts. Too many miles (600+) in the cold, dark, rain, or snow. Too many Friday nights with water and the DVR instead of wine and friends. Too much thought about what to eat and drink. Too much time carefully listening to my body. Too much energy spent planning and preparing for this marathon.

I have worked too hard to fail this time. Just keep repeating that to myself. If the 3:35 pace group passes me, I chase them down. I will not let the 3:35 pace group get ahead of me. Just keep repeating that to myself, too.

I painted my nails the same sparkly white color I wore for my first marathon. Based on projected time, I am in Corral 1 (out of 4). My bib is odd-numbered. I hate odd numbers, but I tend to run well with odd-numbered bibs. Go figure. I hope it is a sign.

Shamrock, you better be running because I will chase you down. Tomorrow. Sham Rock On!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Marathon Training Week 18

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 3, 4, and 3 miles, rest, 2 mile run (every time I see these 2 mile runs on my schedule, I think "Really? Why bother?"), and rest. And then the marathon. Third and final week of taper. Hello, marathon week!!

For me, taper madness means phantom pains. This happens every. single. time. C'mon now, brain, please stop playing tricks on me. I had a strange dream about running a marathon on Monday night. Overall, it made sense (and I hope parts of it are more than a dream!), but some of it was completely nonsensical.

I was so excited I couldn't stand it before the Chicago Marathon. It backfired. I did not want to do that this time around. I managed to keep calm and carry on through most of this week. Excitement didn't start picking up til Thursday, and even then I wasn't overly worked up. Much better.

Sunday - yoga class. Was going to do some leg work but wasn't feeling it. This is the time to take it easy.

Monday - 3.8 mile run in the AM. Had to break out the reflective gear and lights again, but it was already starting to get light. It wasn't even cold. A half moon was still up. Only had to do once around my regular running loop. Did abs in the morning after my run. Was going to do some lunges but still wasn't feeling it.

Tuesday - 4.6 mile run on the treadmill, plus upper body strength training, squats, and lunges. Nike+ behaved this time. Cut the strength training and leg work down to 2 sets instead of my usual 3. No more strength training til after Shamrock. It was relatively warm. Went to the gym in shorts and a sweatshirt.

Wednesday - 3.8 mile run in the AM. Last run outside in Rhode Island. It was warm enough for capris and a short-sleeve T-shirt. Easy peasy. When did my easy pace fall into the 8:20s?

Thursday - Rest. And traveling. Hello, racecation.

Friday - 3.6 mile run in Washington, DC. Last run before Shamrock. And more traveling.

Saturday - Rest. And checking out the Shamrock Expo.

Sunday - Shamrock Marathon. This race has been in the works for 5 months. Bring it!!

Total Miles: Scheduled - 38.2 (including the marathon) Actual - 42 (also including the marathon)

Marathon Training: All Wrapped Up

My last training run for the Shamrock Marathon is on the books.

I pretty much used Hal Higdon's Intermediate I plan with some modifications. After reading Hal's marathon book, I can see why he designs his plans the way he does. I like the structure of Hal's plans, particularly the intermediate plans where there are back-to-back hard workouts. But I didn't think the mileage was high enough to get me to my goal. I tacked on an extra mile to all of my long runs (except the week I was supposed to run a half marathon race and the two 20 milers, and even then I ran a little bit more than what the plan called for). I also added some extra distance to my other runs. On average, I ran about 3-3.5 miles per week more than the plan called for. I never quite made it to that magical number of 50 miles a week, but I wasn't trying to. I came close enough for several weeks. I ran every single run on my training plan. That's a first.

I stuck with everything that I incorporated into my Chicago training cycle. No music, yoga, compression socks/sleeves, strength training, and some other stuff, plus a training goal marathon pace 15 seconds per mile lower than Chicago. I can't isolate the individual contributions of each change, but they all seemed to help.

I gained lots of practice at seeing mile splits starting with 7s. Remember when I said mile splits in the 7s scared me? Not anymore. I routinely hit splits in the 7s, sometimes without even trying. My mindset went from "Splits in the 7s? Ooo, scary" to "Yeah, splits in the 7s. Excellent!" By the end of my training cycle, mile splits in the 7s didn't even feel that hard. I never though I would say that.

Midway through my training cycle, I successfully raced a half marathon on a treadmill. It actually wasn't awful and I would do it again. Of course, now that I have said that, I probably will have to do it again some point in the future.

I need to put a word of caution out because I know I ran faster than I was supposed to. With a marathon goal pace of 8:00, I should have done my long runs around an 8:45 pace. Yeah. Not so much. Most of my long runs were in the 8:10s. My three longest runs were solid. One of my 20 mile runs was under 8:20. The other 20 miler was under 8:10. I ran 19 miles at just over 8:10. I should mention that I ran comfortably at those paces and distances, and they definitely got easier over time. I never though I would say that, either.

In all three of my previous marathons, I got injured somewhere in my training cycle. For RnR Mardi Gras, it was during my 20 mile run. An issue with my shin. Thankfully, it was minor and easily handled with extra rest and athletic tape. For Cox Providence, it was a serious injury to my ankle. I think I rolled it by stepping funny in a pair of Crocs. I missed several weeks of running and subbed in lots of cross-training. I ran the marathon anyway because I felt OK by the time the race came around. I did not have the race I wanted, though. For Chicago, it was another flareup of the ankle injury. I took a few days of extra rest and missed my last 20 mile run. Oh well. Like Cox, I was OK for the race. I didn't have the race I wanted, but it was because of the weather and not because of an injury. For Shamrock, my training went smoothly all the way to the end. This is the first time I have not gotten injured. This is a big deal. Maybe I just got lucky, or maybe everything I am doing is working.

I had some lingering issues with my ankle that I have been watching carefully. Mostly just minor irritation easily managed by stretching, Body Glide, compression socks, and rolling my foot on a tennis ball under my desk at work. I never got sharp pains that forced me to stop in the middle of a run. I didn't rely on ibuprofen or Biofreeze to reduce pain and inflammation. In fact, I haven't touched ibuprofen or Biofreeze this training cycle. The pain was very low-level to non-existent, and there was no inflammation. Much better than what happened in my training for Chicago.

One of the things about running a marathon is that you never know what will happen when you get out there. That's part of why I like marathons. You just cannot predict what will happen. Something goes wrong physically and/or mentally at some point, and you need to overcome that challenge.

Overall, I had a really good training cycle that exceeded my expectations. I am physically stronger. I am mentally stronger. I am going into the Shamrock Marathon uninjured and confident. Priceless. Stay tuned, folks.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Marathon Training Week 17

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 4, 5, and 4 miles, rest, 3 mile run, and 8 mile long run. Second week of taper.

I was thinking about this week's schedule on my last long run, and I found myself thinking, "That's all? You're kidding, right? I want to run more!" Well, that's a first. I know I need to trust the plan, though. It is laid out that way for a reason. This week was, however, the first week since the end of December that wasn't above 30 miles and the first week since mid-January that wasn't close to or above 40 miles. The hungry marathon monster in my stomach needs to be aware of that. Less miles in theory means less food. Veggies and fruit for you, marathon monster.

In other news, I signed up for the Marine Corps Marathon on October 28. It's my new local marathon. My running buddies are coming down for it too. We all survived the crash and got in before registration closed in 2 hours 41 minutes. I predicted 4 hours. I can't believe it sold out faster than that. But no matter. We're in and ready to run. Fun times ahead!!

Sunday - yoga class, plus calf raises and lunges.

Monday - 4.5 mile run in the AM, plus some foam rolling afterwards. The run was a piece of cake. Not too far off from marathon goal pace, either. It was nice to run in sunlight. I will enjoy it this week, because it will be dark next week.

Tuesday - 5.5 mile run in the AM, plus abs and lower back exercises. Colder with a headwind on the way back. I actually yelled at myself for starting off too fast ;-)

Wednesday - 4.5 mile run on the treadmill, plus upper body strength training and squats. My body was telling me to take it easy on the squats and some of the upper body work, so I listened. I should probably start phasing out my strength training anyway. Nike+ ate 1.25 miles of my run. Super frustrating. I have an extra sensor. Maybe I need to swap the old one out. But still. That is unacceptable.

Thursday - Rest.

Friday - 9.3 mile run. I swapped my planned Friday and Saturday runs so that I could do a special run on Saturday. And I also don't work on Fridays so I have more time for a longer run. Decent weather, not too cold. Piece of cake again. I can't believe this was my last long run before Shamrock.

Saturday - 3.5 mile run with the new running club at my local Lululemon showroom. Chilly and windy. Too bad I am moving soon. It is nice running alone sometimes, but it is also nice running with other people.

Total Miles: Scheduled - 24 Actual - 27.5

I am down to single digits. 8 days to go!!

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Intricacies of Job Searching

I have been on and off the job market for the last few years. I lined up employment a few months at a time, usually teaching. I was pretty much semester-by-semester for a while. Now I am back on the job market again, this time searching for a permanent position, or at least one longer than a year or two.

I check a variety of sites. is one I like. I also check individual universities and colleges that don't always post to And my professional organization. And specific companies and organizations. My town even has a site where you can search for nearby jobs.

I have a Google docs spreadsheet with a list of jobs I have applied for or plan to apply for, as well as application deadlines, required application materials, etc. There are a lot of details to keep track of. It is tiring and time-consuming.

Then I found a posting for a job I have already interviewed for (twice, I should add ... still waiting and holding out because it's a job I *really* want). It was listed as a recent posting. It is not a recent posting. The job has been advertised since August. I applied in September, heard nothing for a long time, and then got a call back in late January. I think the site where I saw the posting aggregates other job sites or listings. But why list a job as recent when it isn't recent? I know it's not a recent posting only because I have been watching this particular job for months. Or maybe it was listed as recent because it was recently added to site. No idea. See? Tiring and time-consuming.

I am prepared to be unemployed for a while. I have marketable skills in an area where there are more positions than qualified people to fill them. I am constantly finding positions to apply for. Still, unemployment isn't ideal. My stress levels would be more manageable, plus I'd be able to start committing to more races once I know what my time and commute constraints are. Maybe I should just run a lot of miles anyway. That wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, and it would help with stress management.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

More Music: Shamrock Playlist

I did some slashing and burning to my Shamrock Marathon playlist. I am planning to run as long as I can without my iPod and then turn the music on whenever I need it. At Chicago, that was about halfway through. I ran the last mile or two without music because I wanted to hear the crowds. I want to cut the playlist down to 4 hours of music or less so that I know the songs I want to hear will pop up. It worked exceptionally well with my Nike+ Women's Half Marathon playlist. The last 3 or 4 miles, every song made me want to sing along and run run run. Every song could have been my favorite song. I've cut the Shamrock playlist down to 6 hours. Not quite 4 hours of less. Oops.

I've been doing tweaking and testing for several weeks. Any song that I skip over gets cut, no matter how much I like it. I might add a few more songs, but I think the playlist is pretty much set. Just under 100 songs at the moment.

For each marathon, I pick out songs that are location-specific. For example, my playlist for running in New Orleans had King of New Orleans by Better than Ezra and Hello Hurricane by Switchfoot. Or I'd put London Calling by the Clash on a playlist if I ever run the London Marathon.

For the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach, I looked for songs that had something to do with rock, green, Ireland, St. Patrick's Day, Virginia, beaches, ocean, or water. I didn't come up with much, but I did include:
Fraggle Rock - theme song, Pass It On, Pukka Pukka Pukka Sweetily Boink, Yes We Can, Stuff Samba (only because it has the line "Do the stuff you've always done before" and has already been tested on long runs)
Blue October - Into the Ocean
Dropkick Murphys - I'm Shipping Up to Boston, Tessie, Captain Kelly's Kitchen
R.E.M. - Orange Crush (from the album named Green)

I normally wouldn't go with Fraggle Rock songs. BUT Fraggle Rock is one of my favorite shows of all-time (yes, I am an adult, and yes, I still like and watch Fraggles, and yes, I fully admit to that). The songs are about 1-2 minutes long. Appropriate for Shamrockin' On? I think so.

Some other recent additions (purchased from iTunes):
Bruce Springsteen - Radio Nowhere
Death Cab for Cutie - I Will Possess Your Heart
Incubus - Dig
Linkin Park - Lying from You
Third Eye Blind - Non Dairy Creamer
Id Guiness - Going to Burning Man (found this through a podcast I listen to)
Pitbull (w/ Chris Brown) - International Love
Katy Perry - Part of Me
Ke$ha - Take It Off

Dug up from my music collection:
Weird Al - Yoda
30 Seconds to Mars - The Battle of One

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sunday Thoughts O' Random

Dear Nike+,
We need to talk. It's not you, it's me. Wait, that's wrong. It's not me, it IS you. You are just not meeting my needs anymore. I am not happy about it. I work hard. Why do you not work hard? Oh, I guess I can see you on the side on the treadmill once in a while. But you better be on better behavior.
No love,
(mostly) former Nike+ user

Dear Garmin Connect,
Wow! I just discovered weekly and monthly summaries. How did I not know those were there before? It was nice to confirm that I actually have been getting faster over the last few weeks and months. My inner data diva is pleased.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Marathon Training Week 16

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 5, 6, and 5 miles, rest, 4 mile pace run, and 12 mile long run. First week of taper. Sweet, sweet taper. My mileage is still high enough that I haven't reached taper madness yet, but we'll see what happens in the next couple weeks.

Sunday - yoga class, plus calf raises and lunges. I held crow for the first time and then did it again 2 more times. Woot!! I've been trying since July and couldn't quite get it. I thought it was all about arm strength. But then someone told me it was more about core strength. Yep, that was the trick I needed to master it. For the record, my upper arms were sore til Tuesday.

Monday - 5.7 mile run in the AM. Easy pace. Fairly chilly. First morning run in a long time where I didn't need my reflective gear. The sun was just about to rise as I was heading out. That will change in a couple weeks when Daylight Savings Time begins, but I'll take it for now. Did abs and lower back exercises in the evening.

Tuesday - 6.3 mile run. Took advantage of the sun being just about to rise to head to Brown University and back. I can only run to Brown in the morning (before it gets crowded by students) and when it is light out. It was pleasant and reasonably quiet. Didn't really pay too much attention to distance or pace.

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

Thursday - Rest. On Wednesday, I fell asleep watching TV before 9pm and then slept for almost 9 hours. I guess I was tired!

Friday - 4.4 mile pace run. How is it that this was the last pace run of this training cycle?? I wanted to kick some asphalt outside, but it was icy at the time I wanted to run. Ice and thunderstorms are the only weather conditions I absolutely will not run in. I ran the first 2 miles at a 7:47 pace and the last 2 miles at a 7:30 pace, just to see what that felt like. It was hard. 7:47 wasn't so bad, but 7:30 was challenging. Good to know. I am so beyond done with Nike+. Yes, it's worth mentioning one more time. It ate 1/4 mile while I was running at a 7:30 pace. Why does Nike+ always do that when I am running fast? It seems to happen on one particular treadmill, and it is always worse at faster paces. I compared the distance and time from the treadmill against the time on Nike+ and the mile splits I thought I ran. The two times were only off by 7 seconds. That's a very reasonable margin of error. So I am pretty sure the treadmill is calibrated correctly and Nike+ is being fussy.

Saturday - 13.2 mile run. In mist and light rain. Did and out-and-back to Brown University and the edge of downtown Providence, then a loop and a half on my regular running route. It actually wasn't too bad. I was dressed appropriately so that I didn't get too cold or too hot. I was planning on having a pitstop at my house around mile 7, but I had been rained on for an hour and didn't want to stop and get cold. My shoes were dry til mile 10. I must have had a lot on my mind because there were large parts of this run that I just don't remember. Even still, I hit 5 miles within 5 seconds of marathon goal pace without even trying. Score.

Total Miles: Scheduled - 32 Actual - 35.2