Thursday, June 25, 2015

Summertime training

The top perk of being a teacher = summer vacation.  Man, do I love summer!  I'm just about the laziest endurance athlete you've ever met.  I do my workouts super-early in the morning before my mind is even awake so that I have no chance to procrastinate about doing them later on.  The rest of the day, I prefer to do pretty much nothing if given the chance.  Truthfully, I usually end up doing some laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc. but most of my days are pretty low-key.  My kids don't have a ton of scheduled activities in the summer.  Charlotte is on the swim team, which involves practice every weekday morning and meets on Wednesday nights, but none of the other kiddos have any big commitments.  

Charlotte at one of her meets.  Seeing her swim makes my heart super-happy!
Oh, Joey has soccer camp 1-2 nights a week, but it's spread out through the summer and it's no big deal if we don't make it.  So the first couple of weeks of summer vacation were filled with Safety City for the twins and Vacation Bible School for the older two, but now we've settled into our chillaxed summer, where the days run together.  We are such a go-go-go family during the school year that I think we all need the summer to be unscheduled.

My summertime training schedule, on the other hand, is very heavy!  Now that I've taken on the task of training for my first triathlon, I am doing double-workouts several days a week in order to fit in all three sports.  I would never be able to do this kind of training during the school year, so I'm very grateful that as a teacher I can fit it in.  Not only do I need to do the workouts for tri training, but also I know all of the cross-training is only helping my running.

Here is what my schedule has shaped up to look like:

Monday: bike. I can fit in anywhere from 13-18 miles on Mondays before hubby has to leave for work.  I do this solo, and typically ride a big loop around Westerville or do an out-and-back on the Westerville/Genoa bike path.  I take this ride slower, just working on feeling comfortable and working out the kinks from my Sunday long run.  I also typically do BodyPump at DK Fitness on Monday evenings.  I'm sooooo happy to be back to doing Pump again!  I always feel a bit sore for the day or two after a class, which is proof to me that my muscles are continuing to get stronger.

Tuesday: run & swim.  I start out with an early 5-mile run.  I like to keep this run on the easier side.  My favorite Tuesday partners are my MIT girls; they are great at making my legs slow down a bit.  I always love our runs together!  

Look at Steph Harless rocking the 36-week preggo belly at a recent run!
After I run, I usually head over to the rec center for about 45 minutes in the pool.  I try to get some hard yards in, since this is a shorter workout and the run is easy.

Wednesday: bike & run.  Shorter bike ride this day (around 8-10 miles), so I push the pace a bit more on this ride.  I follow it up with a 4-5 mile run at the "late" hour of 7 AM. I've ran with Allison for the past two Wednesday runs, and we are both bad at keeping the pace easy, but I love our runs together so much!  

For me, I've found that when I run immediately after I bike, I have trouble keeping my pace in the 9's.  It's weird; my legs feel super heavy but they can't run slow!  My chiropractor (who I see each Wednesday) is a triathlete and told me this is very common.  

Thursday: rest day.  I reserve Thursdays for doing nothing. I am working very hard to stay true to the rest day!

Friday: run & strength class.  I meet a few friends to run about 4 comfy-paced miles super-early before our 5:30 AM strength class.  The class is specifically designed for runners to improve on strength and explosiveness.  It's put on by Marie Miller, who is the personal trainer who also leads the core class that I love on Sunday mornings.  I signed up to do the class for 12 weeks (basically, my entire summer vacation). I've found the hardest part so far to be the plyometric exercises--anything involving jumping!  

Saturday: swim & bike.  I did my first "open water swim followed by bike" brick a couple of weeks ago with some fellow triathletes at Alum Creek (45 min swim plus 18 miles on the bike).  So much fun!  I'm planning on doing the same thing most weekends if possible.   

Sunday: long run.  I'm working to increase my weekly miles by increasing my long run.  I did 10 miles last weekend and plan on 12 this weekend, and then I'll do a drop-back week where my miles will go down.  I want to get my weekly miles up to the 30-mile range before I add any true speed work back in.  I miss core class on Sundays, but since I am taking up Saturday mornings with brick workouts, I can't ask too much of my hubby as far as time away, so core class has been one area where I've slacked off.

Sunday Run-day... love running with both of these ladies!
So that is how my weeks are shaping up.  Obviously, there are times when things change.  Last week it was pouring on Wednesday morning, so my bike ride became an easy 4 miles.  The beach was closed on Saturday due to high water so I headed to the pool for a workout.  I'm flexible, for the most part :)

The other thing that's changed is my triathlon goal.  I decided that August 2nd was too long to wait, so I registered for a mini sprint tri at Alum Creek on July 11th--just over 2 weeks from now!  I was especially attracted to this race as it is an all-female triathlon.  It is very short (0.25 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 2 mile run).  The race will probably take me around 1 hour and 15-20 minutes to complete.  I am super excited to begin my foray into triathlons with this race. I have a few friends doing it as well, and likely will have a few friends there cheering as well.  I still may do the race on August 2nd, depending on how my first race goes and also what's going on with my running.  For now, I have some studying to do... I need to figure out transitions and a ton of other tri-specific stuff! Good thing YouTube is so helpful, and of course I have the time... again, yay for summer!!!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Year 3 is in the books! A "10 Things" list to celebrate!

Happy run-iversary to me, happy run-iversary to me...

Three years ago today, I laced up my brand-spanking-new pair of Asics that I'd spent a cool $50 on at Kohl's and headed out for Week 1, Day 1 of Couch-to-5K (this was a 5 minute warm-up walk, then 60 seconds of running alternating with 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes).  I felt so awesome to actually be out and DOING something!  True to form for me, just six weeks later I was sidelined with my first running injury, a stress fracture in my left fibula.  I restarted the program at week 1, day 1 in early September after letting the fracture fully heal, but I will always consider June 15th my official "run-iversary," the day I decided to give this running thing a try.  Obviously, the rest is history when it comes to me and running.  I've ran in five 5K's, one 4-miler, one quarter-marathon, seven half-marathons (including the one when I blacked out and collapsed at mile 11--a DNF but I count it nonetheless), two 15-mile races, and two full marathons.  

I could spend this blog entry talking about many things--what running means to me, the friends I've made, the races I've ran.  Instead, I came up with a fun idea--10 things that most people do not know about me as a runner.  So, drum roll please...

10 Things You May (or May Not!) Know 
about Runner-Marcie!

1) I simply must have gum in my mouth when I'm running.  I started chewing gum about a year ago, when a few friends chided me for carrying water during a 5K race.  "You don't need to do that!" they said.  "It's only just over 20 minutes, you'll be fine!"  My handheld Nathan bottle was my security blanket, though.  When I tried to run without it, I would find my mouth to be incredibly dry.  To alleviate this, I tried running with gum one day, and now I feel extremely weird (and suffer from an awful dry mouth!) if I run without gum.  If you're interested, my gum of choice is Orbit sweet mint :)

I do not blow bubbles, however :)

2) My most favorite piece of running equipment is my pink FlipBelt.  Not my Garmin watch, not my shoes, not my BondiBands (headbands).  I bought my FlipBelt shortly after I started running as a way to carry my ginormous Samsung Galaxy phone.  I love that it holds my phone, my gels, Biofreeze packets, extra gum (see #1), chapstick, etc.  It is comfy and doesn't ever bother me.  I wear it around my hips and it seriously is super comfy.  I let my friend Jess borrow it for her most recent race and I missed it so much for the week that she had it!  I now use it on my bike rides too :)

3) My first race after finishing the Couch-to-5K program was the Hot Chocolate 5K in November 2012.  My best friend Elizabeth and I ran this race together.  I started out too fast and died, and she blew by me at the finish and promptly retired her racing shoes.  I always tell people that you can go in two directions once you run a race--you can be one and done, or you can continue racing and perhaps follow the path to half marathons and full marathons.  My chosen path is pretty obvious ;)

Elizabeth and me, post-race!

4) I actually ran in a race once before the Hot Chocolate 5K.  When I was in the 8th grade at St. Paul, the Catholic diocese of Columbus had a middle school cross-country race.  None of the schools had a team or anything, so it was really just anyone who felt like running could show up and run in the 2-mile event.  I was a swimmer and a soccer player, and I enjoyed running when we would do it during P.E. class, so I figured, why not?  I still have the 3rd-place overall female medal that I won.  

5) I am on an eternal quest to find the perfect shoe for me.  I started out with Saucony ProGrid.  My right foot would fall asleep on my runs, so it was recommended that I try the Mizuno Wave Inspire 9, as the toe box is wider.  The problem never truly went away for good, and when Mizuno released its newest version last year, I was not a fan and had to find a new shoe. I turned to the Brooks Adrenaline.  I do like my Brooks, but I know that my Cinderella shoe is somewhere out there.  The shoe that will feel like I'm walking (running) on air when I put it on.  

6) I'm a Balega lover.  Balegas are one of several different brands of running socks. I've ran in a few other types, and I will use them if I'm in a pinch, but I always smile when I slide on my Balegas.  Specifically, I adore the Hidden Dry low-cut socks.  They are super-thin and I barely feel like I have socks on when I'm wearing them.  I will say that in the winter, I love my thicker Feetures socks, or if it's REALLY cold, my Smartwool socks.  

7) I'm a stalker of sorts.  When I meet a new runner (either online, in person on a training run, or at a race), I check them out on Athlinks, which is a time compilation website where the races that a person has done are listed (it's pretty inclusive, although not every race seems to show up).  I honestly just do this so I can see if the person is possibly a good training partner for me.  If our race times match up, then maybe we can meet for a run.  I love meeting up with people for runs, and I'm always on the lookout for a new running friend.  My friends find it hilarious that I stalk others... I don't apologize for it; it's just me!

8) I used to be an evening runner!  This will come as a shock to most of my running partners, as 90% of our runs start between 4:30-5:00 AM.  When I first started running, I would do my runs at around 7:30 PM, after dinner was finished but before the twins would go down for the night.  I only became a morning runner during my second year of running when I started to meet other crazy mamas who like to get their runs out of the way.  Now, I can't even imagine running in the evenings!

An all-too-familiar sight for me

9) I do a pre-running dynamic stretching routine before every single run.  I wake up about 10 minutes before I actually need to wake up and do this routine (called the Myrtl routine) in my family room.  It opens up my hips and gets my body ready to run.  I started doing it last summer at the recommendation of my friend Erin to help with my IT band issues, and I've never stopped. 

10) I'm doing the Market-to-Market relay this fall!  I've been reading more about the Ragnar relays, and while those are overwhelming to me, Market-to-Market is more low-key as it only takes place over one day and the mileage is much lower.  So excited to join six of my favorite running friends on September 5 for this fun race!

Blogging friends, I encourage you to do a "10 Things" list as well; this was fun to come up with.  I tried hard to think of things that even my closest running friends may not know about me--not easy!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

A new goal

I am sure that a few of you read the title of my blog and got anxious (maybe my cousin Katie? LOL).  No, I have most certainly not given up on my goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. But I've decided that a new goal is in order.

Let me backtrack a bit.  My return to running began on May 18, when I was finally permitted to actually start "running" again (I put that in quotes because the pace I was permitted to run at is actually slower than my walking pace).  Over the past 3 weeks, I have been following the return-to-running plan that my doctor gave me almost perfectly.  A few of the earlier runs were faster than they should've been, but when you're trying to run 3+ minutes per mile slower than your normal comfy pace, it can be difficult!  I'm pretty darn proud of myself with how well I've done with this.  To be honest, I am just so very grateful every single time I lace up my shoes that the pace or miles just don't matter right now.

I am currently on step 9 of the program, which is 50 minutes at my "usual" pace--this is tomorrow's workout. Step 8 was 40 minutes at this pace--my first time running at my comfy pace in 10+ weeks!  It felt amazing to not have to really control myself, to just let my legs do their thing.  I got to do the first workout of step 8 with my LC girls--the women I trained with at 4:30 AM almost every single Wednesday morning this past fall/winter/spring. I was so very excited to be running with them again!

Steph, Erin, Megan, Lori, Becky and me with our yummy post-run treats!
Donuts and chocolate milk of course were called for. It was a true celebration!  (Oh, it was also National Running Day--maybe that was why I got the donuts LOL)  I got to have donuts again on Friday--it was National Donut Day, after all!  I definitely could get used to running for donuts ;)

Ellen, Jon, and Tamara--we had a few others who had to leave early!
OK so back to the  new goal. As I have mentioned, I swam and rode the bike at the gym during the non-running period of my recovery from my injury.  A couple of days ago I was invited to join some triathletes at Alum Creek for an open water training swim.  As soon as I got into the cool 65-degree water, I remembered how much I loved open water swimming last summer when I first tried it out.  I have described it to friends as what it'd be like for a runner who'd spent their entire life on a treadmill and then finally gotten to run outside.  After years and years of repeatedly swimming back and forth in a chlorinated indoor pool, to be able to be outside and have no pace clock, no black line to stare at, no walls to flip on, no coach whistling at you to go faster... the feeling is indescribable. 

A couple of weeks ago my friend Carolyn (one of the sweet women I met during my first full last year) offered to lend me her spiffy road bike, as she had no plans on using it this summer and knew that I was itching to try out a good bike.  I took her up on her offer instantly, but haven't been able to actually hop in the saddle due to the busy end-of-the-school-year.  I also had to get air in the tires and get the seat adjusted. I finally got the chance to do these things today, and promptly took the bike out for a quick ride on the paths of Westerville. I've obviously rode a bike many times before, but a reallllly nice, expensive bike?  Nope, not till today.  All I can say is WOW.  As my friend Lynn said, riding a bike that awesome almost feels like you're cheating, it makes the ride so easy.  I totally loved this short 6 miler. 

I made the decision during my ride today that a triathlon is going to happen, and it's going to happen this summer.  I've decided on a race on August 2 that will take place at Alum Creek.  The only choice I have to make now is do I race a sprint tri or an Olympic-distance tri?  The difference: The sprint is 750 meters of swimming (basically a half-mile), a 20K bike (just over 12 miles) and a 5K run (3.1 miles). The Olympic distance is a 1500 meter swim (about a mile), a 40K bike (around 25 miles), and a 10K run (6.2 miles).  The only thing that throws me off of the Olympic distance is the bike portion. I need to get in some more training rides at higher distances before I actually commit to riding 25 miles in a race! 

So that's my new goal: to compete in a triathlon.  Aside from the fact that I really really really enjoy swimming (and maybe biking too!), I am also hoping that having a non-running goal will keep me from pushing myself too hard in my return.  I can't wait to start logging in more open water miles and learning how to ride the roads in preparation for my first race!