Saturday, August 31, 2013

Emerald City Quarter Marathon Race Recap

I have been wanting to write this recap for six days (!), but life has gotten in the way.  The first full week of school threw me for a loop, both physically and mentally.  I always forget how hard it is on me to go back to work!  I haven't had time for much of anything other than working (both at school and at home--lesson plans & grading), shuttling the kids to their activities, and sleeping (far too little of it), hence the recap being so late.  But, better late than never!  Oh and please excuse any typos... Hunter had me up at 3:50 AM and I am typing this before the sun comes up...

I was feeling pretty darn good the night before the race.  Legs felt rested, and mentally was quite excited for this one. 

Flat Marcie!

I had decided on GU Strawberry Banana for my refueling, with SportsBeans (berry) for pre-race.  There are two GU's only because I was worried I would drop one, as a friend did on a recent triathlon!  Honestly, I am sure I could've gone through 6.5 miles without refueling, but I feel better when I do it, so I figured I would GU-up.  I ran in my new Mizuno Wave Inspire 9's.  They are the same make and model as my previous pair of shoes, but OH so much prettier than the orange!  I had about 25 miles on them so I felt they were broken in enough for the race. 

The race took place in Dublin, about 20 minutes from my house, and was set to start at 7 AM . I was up just after 5:00 to have breakfast, and left as planned at around 5:50.  I figured I would get to the race with plenty of time to park, do my mile warm-up, and stretch out before it started.  I hate being late to places, so I always plan on needing extra time.  SO glad I did in this case... traffic was horrible!  It took me about 30 minutes to finally get to the parking lot.  I was stuck in standstill traffic at one point and was sooooo nervous!  But it ended up being fine; I parked and walked over to the race start, and then found a nice big parking lot nearby where I could warm-up.  Had my SportBeans at 6:30 and headed to the starting corral at 6:50.  

You can see in the pic above that I only have one earbud in.  I realized when I got to the parking lot that one of the little soft bud covers had come off at some point.  Annoying!  Oh well, I just tucked that one into my shirt for the race.  Not too big of a deal, I suppose.  I had actually considered running sans-music for this race, so I figured this would give me the best of both worlds LOL.

I had decided to start with 1-hour pacer, and then try to catch the 55-minute pacer by the end (or stay as close to her as possible).  This was the first race that I had the plan to stay with a pacer, as they aren't typically around smaller races, and at Cap City I had no clue what I would be doing.  The starting corral was really crowded.  About 2700 runners were in the race (half and quarter marathons combined).  Just before 7:00, they announced that many were still stuck in traffic on 33, and the start would be delayed to allow more to make it to the race.  It bummed me out, because at that point I was ready to go!  My Garmin kept going into power-saving mode, and I kept having to find the satellites over and over again.  I had created a new play list for my race and since I was toting my phone in my FlipBelt and wanted to have it in there when the race started, I must have listened to the first song on my playlist 5 times while I waited.  

I had hoped to meet up with my friend Tamara pre-race; we ran the Cap City together, and although she was doing the half today and I was doing the quarter, I wanted a pre-race photo together.  Unfortunately, she was one of those who was stuck in traffic, and we never found each other :(

The horn finally went off at around 7:13 AM.  I of course was fiddling with my darn playlist on my phone and ran the first 500 yards or so with it in my hands, trying to get my music to start up again (GooglePlay stopped!) and then getting my phone back in my belt.  Stressed me out, but just a bit, and I quickly hit my stride. 

I spent the first mile telling myself to take it EASY.  The race route was really really pretty.  We ran through a few big fields during the first mile, and I took it all in.  Despite my self-talk, I went out about 15 seconds faster than I had planned.  However, I felt amazing... not like I was working hard at all, so I was okay with it.  The second mile was the same... a couple of seconds faster, but still very easy on the effort level.  At that point, I knew I was going to have to start to pick it up, as I was a third of the way done.  Felt good, but the intensity started to rise.  At mile 3 I took my GU easily, and felt it kick in at around 3.5 miles.  However, it was by then that the pace that I had taken the race out in was starting to come back to haunt me.  I was feeling it, and I still had a few miles to go.  Ugh! 

As always, my goal was to negative split the race.  I was worried that wasn't going to happen for a bit, due to the fatigue I had started to feel.  However, I took strength from a few things.  One: passing other people.  I love to run by runners during a race!  I love knowing that my race plan is working out.  I don't get passed too often in the final mile or two of a race, and that makes me smile.  And two: the cheering crowd.  This route had quite a few pockets of people cheering on the runners, and some were quite loud, with their cowbells and such.  There were even two youth cheerleading squads, and one had a great pyramid!  I really got into high-fiving the spectators, and it was funny how my pace would get faster right before and after I would do it.  I was totally feeding off of their energy.  I haven't ever really done that in a race, but it definitely was fun!

Lots of self-talk going on during miles 4-6.  I kept telling myself that I could do this, that I had trained and was prepared for this race.  It was still so very hard, though.  I was counting down the half miles left, the quarter miles left.  Anything to keep my mind off of how tired I was feeling.  I was keeping tabs on where I might finish as well.  I had done some projections using possible split times, and knew that if I came in at the 5K at around 26:30, I would have a pretty good chance of going sub-55 (my "ultimate" goal).  I was right at 26:30, so that got me pumped.  At 3.5 miles I hit 30:00, so I did some mental math quickly realizing I would need a sub-25 minute 5K in order to make my goal.  That freaked me out just a bit, considering my PR is 24:26!  I am such a numbers geek, and it doesn't change when I am running.

It wasn't until around mile 6.1 or so that I caught sight of the 55 minute pacer.  She was a good bit ahead of me, though, and I was pretty sure that I wasn't going to be able to catch her in the final stretch.  I would definitely try, though!  When I saw the bend in the road towards the finish, and then the finish arch, I put it into high gear, sprinting with all I had.  I was actually surprised by how much I did have left!  I was looking at my Garmin, knowing how very close I was going to be to the 55-minute mark.  I must have checked it 10 times in the final tenth of a mile.  I was so happy when I ran under that archway and got my medal!

They had towels in pools of ice... wonderful idea!  I wore it from right after my race until I got home.  I went to the post-race area, grabbed a bagel and a banana, downed some chocolate milk (not something I prefer, but really good for post-race recovery), and gave the engraver my medal; for $10 they will engrave your name and time on the spot!  With a medal as pretty as this one, I wanted it to be engraved.  While I waited for my medal to be finished, I went over to the OhioHealth booth and foam rolled for about 10 minutes.  Another super-awesome thing to have post-race! 

I knew that my official time would be oh-so-close to my goal.  Here is the side-by-side comparison of my Garmin and my medal.

Yep, as close as predicted... Garmin says 54:59, and the medal says 55:00!  I couldn't believe that I didn't make it in under 55:00 on the official clock, but I had to laugh when I saw that time.

A few random guys took this for me when they saw me struggling to take a selfie after the race...

So, all in all, I am super-happy with this race.  I was extremely close to my "ultimate" goal, the one that I really didn't think I could attain.  (And according to my Garmin, I got it... so I'll go with the Garmin, please and thank you!)  Even better, I rocked my splits!

I hate to brag, but you really couldn't ask for much better than that when it comes to negative splits.  This race really does give me confidence for my half in October, and going sub-2:00.

As far as how I have felt post-race... sore, definitely.  I had hoped that rolling and stretching right after I raced would make a difference, but I don't think it did.  Still the same ol' sore legs for a few days afterwards.  I haven't had much time to run this week, either.  I did a 3 mile easy run on Wednesday night in 85-degree temps with 72 dewpoint (UGH UGH UGH), but that was it.  No cross-training, either.  Just too busy, and when I do the chance to do anything, I am too exhausted to even consider it!  Planning on heading out soon for 10 miles, though!  Nice and easy is the plan... hoping to stick to it.  Five more weeks till the half!!!

Friday, August 23, 2013

The interruption of life

I figured that blogging would take a back seat as my life resumed... "life" meaning work.  As a teacher, I have the luxury of summers off ("off" of course is a relative term... I am "off" from taking care of other people's children, but instead spend the day with my own).  While my summers are far from relaxing, I don't have to wake up at 5:30 AM (unless I want to run, of course!), I get to chill for a couple of hours while the twins nap each day, and most importantly, I don't have to write lesson plans or grade papers!  This is why I started to blog... I simply had the time to do so.  We went back to school on Monday, thus I had zero time to blog this week. I imagine I will have to simply start doing "weekly recaps" instead of daily blogs, at least until winter break ;)

I have a race on Sunday!  It sort of snuck up on me. With getting ready to start back to work, and then actually starting back, I haven't had the time to think about the race much at all.  I am running a quarter-marathon (6.55 miles), and wanted to do a mini-taper this week.  Meaning no tempo run, no real speed work or anything.  So here is what this week looked like:

Monday: cross-train (arms workout, plus 60 pushups done in sets of 30-20-10)

Tuesday: rest

Wednesday: 4 miles easy after Char's dance class (7:15 PM).  This one hurt more than it should have.  I kept my pace easy, but I just felt blah during the run.  It was my students' first day back, and I wore 4" heels all day long.  OUCH.  I am chalking the ickiness of this run up to that.  Splits were 10:15, 10:00, 9:52, and 9:50 (39:58). 

Thursday: rest

Friday: 2 miles easy (20:48).  I woke up at 5 AM this morning to get in a run.  I had planned on just cross-training today, and not running at all until my race on Sunday morning, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought a run made sense.  Not running at all for over 3 days didn't sound like a good plan.  It went better than Wednesday.  Still didn't feel spectacular, but I was able to do a quarter-mile pick-up at the end (down to around my 10K pace), and then I did a couple 30-yard strides, just to kick it in a bit.  

The plan is to rest tomorrow (may fit in an arm or a core workout, but we have yet another busy day, so that may not happen), and then race on Sunday morning, bright and early (race start is at 7 AM).

Goals... I have gone over these in my head several times.  I *should* be able to hold around an 8:15-8:20/mile pace, based on my 5K time from last month.  That pace seems unbelievably fast to me.  That would be a sub-55 race, which would be... wow.  Fast.  

So my C goal (the one I really should accomplish, based on my times and training) is a sub-1 hour.  That's a 9:09/mile pace.  Considering I did my half in 2 hours and 50 seconds, going under an hour should not be a problem.

My B goal (the one I really think I can do, if I work hard) is a sub-57.  That would be an 8:41/mile pace.  Quite a bit faster than my C goal, but definitely a do-able goal.  

And my A goal?  The one where I just might cry if I get there?  A sub-55.  I find it hard to believe that I can run that fast, but heck, it's worth a shot!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Still the reigning queen of negative splits!

I was really looking forward to today's run, for several reasons.
  • It was with Danielle, and I enjoy chatting with her when we run.
  • It was "only" 8 miles--long enough to feel like a long run, but short enough to not take more than 1.5 hours and not hurt (as bad).
  • It had a relatively easy caveat: 4 miles easy, 4 miles negative split.  As you all know by now, I love me some negative splits.  My plan was to negative split down to my half-marathon goal pace (around 8:55/mile).

Danielle and I met halfway between our houses, at a freestanding ER that is smack-dab in the middle of a great bike/running path that goes around my wonderful little town.  I mapped out our course the night before, making sure it would be a relatively easy run (no big hills!) as well as scenic.  It ended up being a "tour de parks and schools of Westerville", as we ran by several of each during the 8 miles.

The run went absolutely perfectly.  I wanted to stay at around 10 minutes per mile for the first four miles.  That's easier said than done, especially as muscles begin to loosen up and running just feels easier.  We both fueled (me = GU gel, Danielle = GU Chomps) at mile 4.  Our conversation petered out a bit at around 6.5 miles, as we both started to get a bit winded from the talking + running combination we'd been doing for almost an hour, and our pace had decreased by then to a pretty quick clip.  I was feeling exceptionally good for the final mile, and kept telling Danielle how little we had left (her Garmin died right before our run started).

So here is how things ended up going...


Again, I couldn't have scripted things more perfectly.  We both agreed that after walking for a couple of minutes, we had more in us, and could have easily ran another 5-6 miles, which is exactly how I want to feel after a long run.  Even better, the run took us about 1 hr 15 min.  Another 5 miles at 9 minutes per mile would be 45 minutes... which is 2 hours... which is awesome.  I am really feeling like I am on track for a sub-2 hour half!  I think next week's quarter marathon will really give me a good idea at where I am at as well.

This week is going to be very busy. I go back to work tomorrow... ugh.  I am worried about fitting everything in once things start up again.  I am always so busy at night with my kids' activities, and then I will have lesson plans and grading to do... double ugh.  How am I ever going to fit in cross-training and running??!!  Trying not to stress about it until it really does become stressful. 

This week's training plans:

Monday: rest
Tuesday: cross-train (arms)
Wednesday: 4 miles (easy with strides at the end)
Thursday: rest
Friday: cross-train
Saturday; rest
Sunday: quarter marathon race

So, it is a VERY easy week, training-wise, which is exactly what I need, as I know I will be exhausted from work each night.  I will continue with my two August challenges, as well... speaking of which, I need to go get them done right now! 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Core training + me = ouch!

When I do a core workout on a cross-training day, I am reminded over and over how weak my core really is.  I always think I have a pretty nice stomach, especially after having five kids (two of those being twins).  I don't have a six-pack anymore, mainly due to my "twin skin", but I have always had a pretty strong set of abs.  

Core workouts time and time again prove me wrong.  They HURT!  I can bust out 200 sit-ups and not bat an eye... okay that was an exaggeration, but seriously, sit-ups don't really bother me. 

Just goes to show how very little they do to help your actual core.  Today's workout wasn't very long, as I had a busy day.  I found a great one about a week ago and did it again tonight.  Oh my goodness, it's just insane. I totally can't keep up with the marine-type guy leading the video, so I just do my best for the 20 minutes.  My goal is to eventually do this workout without having to stop at all (right now I usually rest for about 10 seconds two or three times during the course of the video), and also to keep up with the machine leading it.  I am far from that right now, but maybe if I keep working on my core... someday!

Up to 2 minutes on the plank challenge, and 150 squats.  Those squats are definitely getting harder... no breaks taken yet!!!

Headed to bed... 8 miles in the early morning with Danielle!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tempo Thursday = Trying To Trust The Training

OK it was hard to come up with that title!  I am a math teacher, not a language arts teacher, so words aren't my thing.  That's not actually true, as I am certified to teach all subjects, and I did for about 5 years.  Now, though, it's strictly math and science for me. 

But I digress.  Today was Tempo Thursday.  I don't always do tempo runs on Thursdays or anything, but it worked out to be that way this week, so I thought a catchy title was in order.  This was my first tempo run since July 22.  I knew it had been awhile, but not THAT long!  As I have mentioned previously, tempo runs scare me more than any other run.  Why is that, you ask?  Well, it's because my tempo pace is just too darn fast LOL!  A tempo run, according to what I have read, should be at your 10K pace, or about 25-30 seconds slower than your 5K pace.  My 5K pace for my last race was 7:52.  That leaves me with a tempo pace of approximately 8:17-8:22.  That just seems really fast for me!  But I know I need to train at a faster pace to race at a faster pace, so that is why I do these runs.  And, to be honest, they are never as bad as I think they are going to be.

Today's run went well.  I planned a 4 miler, with a mile warm-up and a mile cool-down, so only the two miles in the middle were to be at my tempo pace.  "Only" those two... LOL.  For me, a tempo run where I need to keep the tempo pace for 2 miles or less is much less intimidating than one of more than 2 miles.  I need to get past that, but for tonight, I will just be happy with my run.  I did it on the paved trail that surrounds Joey's soccer fields, while he had practice.  I like this trail, as it's very flat, and there is a lot going on to watch while I run, with different soccer/baseball practices (there's a pool there too, although not many people were there since it was 70 degrees with low humidity at 6:30 PM).

I felt good for my warm-up, but the nerves started to come on just before mile two began.  I was happy that a half-mile in, I was at an 8:25 average for that mile.  Typically it takes me longer to get down into my tempo pace.  From there I was able to whittle down to a good strong pace.


I am happy for two reasons: that the run was successful (I hit my tempo pace for both miles!), and that I don't have another tempo run planned for 3 weeks!  I really should do another one sooner, but I have my quarter-marathon coming up on the 25th and will be doing a mini-taper for it.  And, given that a quarter marathon is 6.55 miles, which is only .35 miles longer than a 10K, I suppose I could call the quarter a tempo run?! 

Excited for a busy few days coming up... zoo trip tomorrow with my sister-in-law, nephew, and my three youngest kids to wrap up my final weekday off from work before I go back to school on Monday, a community baby garage sale on Saturday morning, and an 8-mile run with Danielle on Sunday morning.  I love running with Danielle!  All good things to keep my mind off of starting back to work on Monday... ugh... I hope I can keep my focus on running as well as on my job!

Monday, August 12, 2013

A new plan takes me back to the track

After thinking about it long and hard, I decided to revise my training plan for the remaining 8 weeks before my half marathon.  I like the Train Like A Mother: Own It plan that I have been following, but there are a few components that don't sit well with me.  One, there really isn't any track work.  I love going to the track and pushing myself on repeats.  There are other types of speed work, but I truly believe that the track work helps with my finishing speed.  And two, the long runs have too many specifics to them, such as running race-pace miles in the midst of a long run.  If I am going to run three times a week, I need to not be over-exerting myself on every single one of those runs.  That was what was going on, and it led me to needing a break after just 3 weeks of the plan.  

What I did was use parts of the TLAM plan and just modified it to suit my own needs.  I added in track workouts, put in tempo runs every other week (versus weekly), and made sure the long runs weren't too long (TLAM had them going up to 15 miles, which I really don't feel is necessary when training for a half) or too fast.  

The result: I am feeling much better about the next 8 weeks.  Tonight I headed back to the high school track. I haven't ran a track workout in about a month, and boy, could I ever feel it!  It was definitely tough to get the speed up to where I wanted it.  I ran an easy mile to warm-up, and then I did 6 x 400 with 2:00 walk/stretch between each repeat.  My goal was to hit 1:45 for each repeat.  I started out really hurting, but the repeats got better and better.  My splits were 1:51, 1:48, 1:44, 1:42, 1:43, and 1:42.  I am pretty proud of myself!  I jogged an easy half-mile to cool-down, and then tried out a GU Brew electrolyte tablet for the first time.  You put it in your water, and it's supposed to help like how Gatorade does.  It wasn't the tastiest thing, but definitely tasted better than the Nuun hydration tablet I tried last week. 

Tomorrow I am planning on running three VERY EASY MILES with a new running friend, Katie.  Her pace is quite a bit slower than mine, but I am excited to just enjoy running easy with a friend. 

Plans for the rest of the week... it is a messed-up week, as I have a school-related function on Friday night, and a big garage sale that I attend every year on Saturday morning (and Hunter is here on Saturday morning as well, so I can't run early).  No real time for a long run either day, so I am doing my long run on Thursday night while Joey has soccer practice.  I should be able to fit in all 8 miles. 

Tuesday: 3 easy miles with Katie; also cross-train (arms and maybe core)
Wednesday: rest day
Thursday: 8 mile long run (easy first 4 miles, negative split second 4 miles)
Friday: rest
Saturday: cross-train
Sunday: 4 miles (middle 2 @ tempo pace)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

She's ba-ack...

Did you miss me?  Huh, did ya? ;)  

A full week off from running AND blogging... whatever did I do with myself, you may ask?  A quick recap:

Monday: In the morning we went to the park and had a picnic lunch.  I took Joey to Back-to-School night after dinner (this is a time when I usually run... it was nice to do something with just Joey).

Tuesday: In the morning we went to Kingdom of Bounce.  In the evening, I took the three youngest kids to the pool while Joey had soccer practice.

Wednesday: SLEPT IN TILL 8 AM! (Typically I am up and running at 6 AM on Wednesdays) Playdate at a friend's house in the morning along with lunch.  In the evening, I went to the Another Mother Runner Party at Fleet Feet (more below about that). 

Thursday: Grocery shopping in the morning.  Hubby took Joey and a pal to the Clippers game that night... rainy most of the day so we just chilled at home, did laundry, etc.

Friday: Slept till 8 again!  A few errands with the kids in the morning.  Out with my BFF after dinner (stayed out too late gabbing, as usual!).

So, needless to say, I kept myself busy.  What else did I do?  I did the squat challenge and the plank challenge (see previous blog post) every day, taking rest days when they were scheduled.  I did a bit of strength training (arms on Wednesday, and core on Friday).  What didn't I do?  I didn't foam roll (except for once on Friday morning).  I didn't run (duh).  I didn't focus on hydration, or eating certain foods.  I just kind of chilled.  Mentally and physically.

And the results?  I am definitely feeling better physically.  I still have a bit of soreness in my calf/shin.  I just don't think that's going to go away.  It only hurts (and very little) first thing in the morning, when I go down the stairs.  After that it goes away.  Mentally, well, I missed running... a bit.  I really thought I would miss it more.  The times when I really missed it were when I got my Runner's World magazine on Tuesday (and had it read cover-to-cover by Wednesday), and after the Another Mother Runner Party.  

The party was so much fun!  I started out by going to Fleet Feet and trying out a few different pairs of shoes, as my Mizuno's have just over 250 miles on them right now and I know that I will need new shoes before my half.  I ended up buying another pair of Mizuno's... nothing else felt even close to as good on my feet!  The best part is my new pair are PINK :)  

Then I had dinner at the pizza place next store to Fleet Feet with several other moms who are on the Columbus Moms Run This Town Facebook page.  I had only met one of them previously, so it was neat to meet them in person and have a fun dinner.  Then we headed back over to Fleet Feet for the party.  It was so cool to meet Dimity and SBS, the authors of Run Like a Mother and Train Like a Mother.  They are both really down-to-earth ladies.  I got Dimity to sign my copy of Train Like a Mother.  

They had super-awesome swag bags, with a bunch of cool samples in them.  Then, they had a drawing for several prizes. Guess who won a $55 gift card to 110%?!!  Yep, me!  I already know what I am getting: a pair of compression sleeves with ICE INSERTS.  Can we say genius?!!

So... this morning I woke up at 6:15 AM and laced up my new Mizuno's.  I admit, I was tired.  I have enjoyed NOT waking up very early, and my little ones have allowed mama to sleep in a bit.  But this run needed to happen.  I planned on running 3-4 miles.  My goals: to keep my pace above 10:00 for the entire run, and to really not push myself at all.  I almost accomplished the first goal.  My last mile, I got a bit fast, but overall the run went as planned.  I did 4.16 miles in 43:39.  Mile 1 = 10:58, Mile 2 = 10:40, Mile 3 = 10:21, Mile 4 = 9:58.  I wasn't out of breath at any time during the run (so goal #2 was accomplished).  My left foot did fall asleep at around 1.75 miles.  At 2.5 miles I stopped and stretched for a minute, hoping it would "wake up".  It did... for about three-tenths of a mile.  At that point I just ignored it for the remainder of the run.  For some reason, when I am trying to run slow, my left foot falls asleep.  My right foot falls asleep if I forget to keep my toes loose by wiggling them while I run (not the entire time--every minute or so).  

The big question now is, what's next?  Do I pick up with the TLAM: Own It training program?  Do I revisit the entire plan?  I am not sure... going to think about it tonight and tomorrow.  I am supposed to run on Tuesday night while Joey has soccer with a friend who is a bit slower than my easy pace, and I do want to do that "social run".  I need running to be fun, and not all about pace.  I think that was the biggest problem mentally for me... I would get so hyped up for the pace I needed to hit for each run, that it wouldn't be fun for me.  I have the quarter marathon in two weeks.  I miss doing track work for speed, so I may try to integrate that in a couple of times over the next two weeks.  It can only help with a race like the quarter. 

More tomorrow... I definitely missed blogging, by the way :)

Monday, August 5, 2013

A self-imposed break

I hinted at it in my blog yesterday, and today I mentioned it on a running Facebook group where I frequently post.  As my friend said, once you post it on Facebook, you have to do it, so I guess I have no choice: I am taking a break from running.  It hurts to even type it, but I know it is the best thing to do right now.  

Reasons for the break (in order of importance):
1. My right inner calf and my left knee (this is a new one) both hurt this morning as I walked down the stairs.  I hate having to hobble down steps.  It has been well over 48 hours since my run.  I just don't think my muscles have been given enough time to recover from all of the running that I have been doing.  It's hard for me to say that, especially considering that I know many runners who run 4, 5 or even 6 days a week, and I "only" run 3 days a week.  However, I also know that I really do push my runs, and I am running on concrete most of the time (the least forgiving surface to run on).  
2. Mentally, I need a week off from running.  It really does take over my thoughts, and there is much more for me to focus on right now.  Namely, my children and my job.  We only have a couple of weeks left before the school year begins.  My son starts next Wednesday!  This should be a time for thinking about them, not about my runs.  Also, I need to start planning for next year!  I really need to get into my classroom to start setting it up as well.

To be honest, I guess I am just tired of trying so darn hard.  Every morning I wake up and I have to foam roll right away in order to get rid of the nagging soreness.  I do it at least once more, but lately it's been twice more, every day, as the soreness just returns.  I have been working on hydrating, thinking about how to fuel during my runs, what to eat before and after my runs... the list goes on and on.  And nothing has worked.  I still feel sore for up to 48 hours after a measly 3 mile run.  That shouldn't be the case.   All that is left is for me to try a break. 

Not that I am happy about it.  I have my training plan staring at me from the refrigerator (that is going to have to be taken down).  My Garmin is sitting on the countertop, waiting to be used (that is going to have to be put away).  I know that taking off a week isn't going to kill the training that I have already done for this half marathon, but it still hurts to have to say that I just can't hack it.  But after that 13 mile run on Friday night, there really isn't any other option. 

                                                                      How I feel inside...

I plan on continuing the squat and plank challenges, as I am enjoying them, and neither of them are really hurting at this point.  I may do some arm workouts as well.  We'll see.  My plan right now is if I am feeling better by Saturday morning, I will do an easy 3-4 miles and see how I feel.  If I am still sore on Saturday, then I will just take it day by day.  

I won't be blogging during this time, as I am going to try to really get things set for the start of the school year... and maybe do some much-needed cleaning around here!  So, au revoir for now, and I will update once I lace up again.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Cross training + 3 year olds = difficult

Typically I cross-train on weekdays, while my twins nap (or if I am lucky, I go to the gym after hubby gets home from work).  However, due to my schedule change this past week, I needed to cross-train today.  I had tickets to take Joey and Charlotte to see a community theater production of "The Wizard of Oz" during the twins' naptime, so I knew cross-training wasn't going to get done during naptime.  Sundays are busy anyway, and today even more so as I did the weekly grocery shopping this morning with two of the kids.  Anyway, I decided to go ahead and cross-train this morning while the kids were playing and doing their own thing.  

Hmmm... note to self: if I try to exercise around Abbie and Aaron, they WILL lay down and mimic me (no problem).  They WILL get bored and start to hang all over me (a problem).  They WILL get bored with that and just play two inches from me (also a problem, especially when I am using dumbbells).  
Not me, but could have been...

That being said, I was able to get in a good 40 minutes today.  I did the Madonna's arms video that I have posted about before (I like this video a lot, and I really do think I am seeing results!), as well as another arms workout, and two core workouts (one that I have done before--did each exercise 3x20 reps; and one that was new for me).  I prefer arm workouts to the core ones, which is funny to me as I have always been a core person... at least I was as a swimmer.  For some reason I am loving arms now though.  

I am anxious for my three mile easy run tomorrow.  Anxious in a good way.  My legs are slowly starting to return to normal; I am sore still but nothing at all like yesterday.  I want to see if an easy run impacts them at all.  I would think that I really wouldn't be sore the next day, but we'll see.  I am contemplating an entire week off of running if I continue to get sore from each and every run.  I know my legs need to rest, and  maybe two days just isn't enough for them to really recover.  We'll see...  

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Running is a science

I constantly feel like I am experimenting when it comes to running.  

Chemistry, anyone?

What training plan is the best?  How fast should I run today?  Should I negative-split this run?  What pace should I choose for my race?  What should I use to fuel?  

For me, the biggest question right now is what to do post-run.  I am trying to figure out a way to alleviate my sore muscles.  I imagine every runner is sore post-run, but I would like to not hurt quite so badly.  I mean, I expect it after a long run, but not so much after a 4-5 miler.  Here is what I am currently doing after each run:

  • ice bath (okay, not every run, but almost every run)
  • compression socks (I wear them pretty much 24 hours solid following each run)
  • hot bath (again, not after every run, but pretty frequently, as they seem to help my sore shins/calves)
  • chocolate milk (supposed to help if you drink it post-run, so while I am not a fan, I down a glass after my long runs)
  • foam rolling (after every single run, and usually 2 or more times a day)

I think that's everything.  I tried some leg elevation last night after my run, but didn't really notice it helping.  What has helped the most are my compression socks and the foam rolling.  I am going to continue to try to find the right "cocktail" for me!
 For the record, I love amaretto sours.  They're the only alcoholic drink I will actually ingest!

Day 3 on both challenges.  60 squats + 30 second plank.  No complaints... yet ;)  

This week's training schedule:

Sunday: cross-training (abs and arms)

Monday: 3 easy miles followed by a few short sprint intervals (more later on that)
Tuesday: cross-training (abs and arms)
Wednesday: 6 miles (more interval training)
Thursday: rest day
Friday: cross-training (hopefully hitting the gym for some bike and machines)
Saturday: 10 nice-and-easy miles

So it should be a good week. I haven't done much speed training lately, and I miss it.  I was hitting the track weekly prior to starting this plan.  Overall, though, this is an easy-ish week.  I'm not complaining... I need some relaxing runs. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Even the best-laid plans...

What is it that they say about the best-laid plans?  I had to Google this one... "Even the best laid plans of mice and men go array."  The saying is from John Steinbeck's book Of Mice and Men.

It is always good to have a plan B!

Early this morning, I made a realization: there was no way that my long run (the plan called for 12 miles) was going to happen on Saturday morning, as I'd planned.  My husband is leaving at 8 AM to help my parents move, and then he's headed out for a weekend fishing trip with a friend.  I could get up at 6 AM to run... but I have Hunter this weekend, and his caregiver isn't coming until 9 AM.  She worked a 12-hour day with him today, so there was no way I was going to ask her to come at 6 AM so I could run.

Enter plan B.  I did my 12 mile run tonight.  It took a bit of planning, as Joey had soccer practice and of course there were the other 3 kids, but I figured it out and set out at 5:45 PM for my run.  I don't think I have ever done a long run in the evening. I know for a fact that 12 miles is my second-longest run ever; the only time I have ever ran further was when I ran my first half-marathon back in May.  

I wasn't afraid of the 12 miles... what scared me was the caveat: I was supposed to run the "middle 4" miles at race-pace.  "Middle four" is a somewhat ambiguous term; in the book Train Like a Mother, the authors say that any four miles in the middle would do just fine.  However, for a negative-splitter like yours truly, I knew that ANY four miles at that quick of a pace in the middle of a long run were not going to be easy for me.  Then there was the question of what was my race-pace?  For a 5K, it's sub-8:00 miles, but that wasn't happening tonight LOL!  A friend told me that it was race-pace for my goal race, which of course is the half marathon in October.  According to the McMillan Running Calculator, my 24:26 5K PR translates into a 1:53 half marathon, a full SEVEN MINUTES faster than my half-marathon PR.  Say what?!! 

That's an 8:37/mile pace.  I knew that was going to be near-impossible to hit for four miles, so I decided to try to get around 8:50/mile, which would be a 1:55 half.  I am cool with that time.

I decided I would start out nice and easy, and then hit my race-pace at either mile 4 or 5.  I procrastinated a bit and mile 6 it was.  I had taken a GU at mile 3.5, so I felt pretty good starting mile 6, even though I didn't quite hit my pace (8:56).  Felt even better the next mile (8:39).  Mile 8 was almost entirely downhill, so my 8:29 was a bit inflated.  I took another GU at mile 7.6, feeling great and ready to rock mile 9 (my final race-pace mile).  However, I quickly started to have trouble controlling my breathing.  Because of this, at mile 8.4 I had to do something that I have never done on a long run: stop.  I just totally stopped.  I almost cried.  I just couldn't breathe.  My heart was racing, and I was worried that I wasn't going to be able to get home.  I took about a minute to get my breathing under control, and then I finished out mile 9 (8:51). I took another breather after I finished mile 9 to restart my music (I always forget that the "shuffle" mode on my playlist doesn't repeat automatically), and then finished up the final 3 miles.  I wanted to walk sooooo badly on those final 3 miles.  I was tired beyond belief.  I didn't think I was going to make it home, I truly didn't.  I still don't know how I did, but here I am.  Splits...


So, what was it about tonight?  I have come up with numerous reasons excuses (let's be real here) why I had such issues.

1.  It was a night run, and I was tired from a busy day taking care of my kids.  Also, as I mentioned, I don't typically do night runs (especially for long runs).
2.  I had dinner at 3:45 PM, and ran at 5:45 PM.  Since I don't typically run at night, I wasn't sure when to eat, what to eat, or how much.  I don't think my chicken and mashed potatoes settled as well as I had thought they would.
3.  The delicious Salted Caramel GU with added caffeine... I really do feel this messed me up.  I have never had a GU with caffeine before.  I am really not a huge caffeine drinker... maybe one can of soda a day, but that's it. No tea, coffee, energy drinks, etc.  Lesson learned: no more GU's with caffeine!
4. I had Gatorade in one of my two water bottles tonight.  I think I should water down the Gatorade if I take it again.  It was too much for me; I found myself just wanting water.  I had planned on using a Nuun hydration tablet in my water, but I tried a sip before I left and it was GROSS, so Gatorade it was.

Whatever the reason, this run was super hard for me.  However, when I look at my final time, I think I know why.  It was a 1:52.  That is fast.  If I had run 13.1 miles, I likely would have gone around a 2:02-2:03.  As I mentioned, my PR is a 2:00, so I clearly was working it.  
If I had taken a picture of myself, this is what it would have looked like.

I am so very thankful that I am not running again till Monday night, and that next week's long run is only 10 miles, with no caveats :)  For my plan B, I think tomorrow will be total rest day (with a ton of foam rolling of course), cross-train on Sunday, and then run on Monday. 

Oh, I did do the two challenges today (55 squats and a 20-second plank) this afternoon.  I like the structure of the challenges.  Let's see if I am still saying that in a week when they get hard ;)