Sunday, March 30, 2014

A marathon of a blog post...

I started this post two weeks ago, realizing that it'd been a month since my last blog post.  Never got back to it, as of course life always seems to get in the way.   It's been a busy month of running, working, and mommy-ing. This post is going to be devoted to running, though, as I've got a lot to say after so many weeks!  Sorry if I get a bit wordy... pull up a chair, this is a long one!

I've been heavily into training for my first full marathon, which is on April 27.   Exactly 4 weeks from today, eek!  I was able to push to 5 runs a week for a couple of weeks in late February/early March, but as the long runs on weekends have increased in distance, my body has responded by telling me that 4 runs per week is plenty (plus 1-2 days of core work).  Training for this marathon has been so different than training for my three half-marathons.   I've had company on probably close to 60-75% of my runs.  I love running with friends, as it makes the miles just fly by.   

 I've found various runners to match my goal paces on the different types of runs that I do, which has been really cool.  My long slow distance runs are always with Jen, the best friend a runner could ever have.  She's not even racing in a spring marathon, but she's done every single long run with me.  She'll be by my side during my race, as my cheerleader and coach.  I can truly say I wouldn't be training for this race if it weren't for her.  We've had some company on a few of our runs as well; Jess is training for the same full as me so our scheduled distances typically match up.  Our kids are similar ages so there's always a lot to talk about on our runs.

 This is Jen, me and Jess after one of our long runs!

When I want to run a bit faster, I call up Jenny or Tamara K., as they both are speedy mamas who push me hard.  I try to get in at least one hard road workout per week, either tempo or progressive.  Jenny is in nursing school, however, so I don't get to run with her as much as I'd like.  Wednesday mornings have become a party in Worthington Hills, as up to seven of us meet at 4:30 AM for miles plus hill repeats.  The party-goers vary from week to week, but I can always count on Jamie to be there.  She's the leader of our local Moms Run This Town group and I love running with her... awesome sense of humor in that one!  

 Here we have Jen, me, Jess, Laurie and Jamie in the front, and Lyndsey and Stuart in the back, lighting up the Hills!

I still am on the treadmill typically once per week, doing speed work (interval repeats or ladder sets), since I know my legs still need to know how to run fast even though I'm running a huge distance.  I do still "dread" it, but it's too cold and dark out when I can fit in track repeats, so the gym it is.

So that's my training, in brief.   Here is a quick peek at the weekly miles I've been running... we do drop-back weeks every other week, where our long runs go down a bit. I think that these weeks, in addition to running 2 runs per week (hills and long run) at a pace that is very comfortable for me (over a minute slower than my half-marathon pace) has what's keep me injury-free as well as motivated to train.  
Look at that 43-mile week in there! :) 

Well, yesterday was the big one... 21 miles!  I've never ran so far, or for such a long period of time.  It was just Jen and me, as Jess has some tweaky ankles right now and didn't want to have to pull out during our run.  We started at 6:00 AM to 1) hopefully escape the predicted rain, and 2) get finished by around 10:00 so Charlotte could get to her swim lessons at 10:45.   Both tasks were basically accomplished :)  We began at our usual spot, the beginning of the trail behind the Hills Market in Worthington.  Recently on our long runs we've had friends come with us and have done a few out-and-backs to stay with them on their shorter-distance runs.  This time, though, it would be 10.5 miles out and 10.5 miles back.  The first half of the run is a blur.  We ran, we talked, we laughed.   The miles ticked off and we felt great.  The sun came up a little over an hour after we started our run, and even though it was cloudy we were happy to turn off our headlamps and be able to see the trail. 

We hit Ohio State's campus just before the halfway mark, and ran onto West Campus to get in the extra half-mile.  It was at the same time that I saw the building with several cars parked in front of it that I realized that I *really* needed to use the bathroom.  That building was a beacon of light... almost like there was a neon arrow pointing at it saying, "HEY, there's gonna be flushable toilets in here!"   Super happy mama runner here!  We ran to the building and found a bathroom where we did our business, relishing in the clean toilets, running water, and yes even the automatic paper towel holder.  These are such luxuries during a run, when we haven't even had porta-potties to use over the past few months!  Even better, there was a drinking fountain where we could fill our bottles.  We gave thanks for these small but miraculous fortunes and headed back out to finish what we'd started... but not before we snapped a picture in front of the 'Shoe (OSU's stadium).   It always sends shivers up my spine... I'm a Buckeye for life!

The 10.5 miles back to the Hills didn't go quite as swimmingly as the first half of our run.  The rhythm had been interrupted, and as the miles racked up, Jen's tweaky hamstring started to bug her more and more.  We added some Eminem to our run via Pandora, which pumped us up a bit.  By this point, other runners had started their Saturday long runs, and we welcomed the diversion of the different people on the trail, even chatting with a few as they passed us or we passed them.   The predicted rain finally decided to make its appearance at around mile 18 or so.  Sprinkles were fine, though--we were prepared with hats and water-proof jackets.  We were fortunate that the rain didn't
really start to fall until we had less than a mile to go.  At that point, the parking lot was a truly welcome sight!  A quick selfie (see the inset pic above) and we were on our merry ways, truly proud of each other and what we'd done that morning. What a feeling, to run farther than most people will even drive in a day!   I'm pleased to say that I feel great this morning, thanks in part to wearing my compression socks yesterday.  I still can't believe that I'll be racing in a marathon next month... but I can say that I've definitely trained for it!

Next weekend brings a new challenge for me.  Several moms in the MRTT group are running a half-marathon in Xenia, Ohio (a little over an hour from Columbus).  I signed up for this race before deciding to run the full.  Needless to say, I am not prepared to PR at this race.  I'm a strong believer in tapering, and running 21 miles the week before a race isn't really tapering LOL!  That being said, I am not sure how I could run a race and not... well, race.  Well, I've decided to try something new... I'm gonna be a pacer!  My aforementioned friend Jamie is going for a PR, and I want to help her get there.  So that's my job, and I cannot wait to do it!  We're gunning for around a 2:05... maybe faster ;)  I'm also planning on running 2 miles prior to the race and 2 miles afterwards, so that I can still get in my 17 mile long run for the weekend. I will try to blog about that race in a somewhat timely manner :)