Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Freaking out!!

Ok, so it's Wednesday, which means in 2 1/2 days I will be boarding a plane to NYC!

My Team in Training buds Louise and Maria and I have been in close contact throughout these past couple of weeks.  Louise sent me this article yesterday about the course and Bob Glover's strategy for tackling it.  As I mentioned previously, I really admire Bob and Shelly-Lynn Glover's methods and I have a great book by them entitled The Competitive Runner's Handbook, which I used extensively in my marathon training.

This book was awesome and really helped all aspects of my training, including nutrition, rest, injury prevention/treatment, mental toughness, and race strategy and tactics.  Anyway, I was glad to read more of Bob's words of wisdom.  But it started freaking me out!

First of all, I know there are hills on the NYCM course.  Many hills.  Of varying sizes and lengths.  But I was mostly focusing on the bridges, while I now am coming to fear the ordinary street-based hills because those are the ones I won't be expecting.

Secondly, Bob mentioned that NYCM is not a great course for setting a PR.  Well, I knew that.  And to be honest, my last time was so slow that I am pretty certain I can beat it on Sunday.  But the whole "take your latest half-marathon time and double it" rule doesn't really'll have to add an additional 10 minutes or so on there.  So if I take my 2:20 time, doubled is 4:40, plus not ten but twenty minutes...that's...5 hours!  But am I really to believe that 5 hours is possible for a second-time marathoner who is, well...slow as sh*t? :)

Anyway, enough self-deprecation.  It is time to be positive!  To get excited!

This week's schedule is "great," but is also making me antsy because I am not used to running this little.  After my 8 miles on Sunday, I took Monday off and then did 4 yesterday (choosing to walk the huge Steelyard hill instead of running it, to preserve my legs a bit).  Today is off, although I am feeling weird about that.  Oh well, guess I have to just suck it up.  Tomorrow I will run 3.  Then, the last time I will run before Sunday is a quick and easy 2 on Saturday morning.

 So far, I have heard from a bunch of people who said they're gonna cheer.  Just to keep track of them in my mind, I'm going to list them here:

Miles 2-4 (Bay Ridge): Emily, Kirsten
Mile 6.5 (4th/11th): Judy & Lenny
Mile 7.5 (4th/Union): Derek, Matt & Sarah
Mile 11ish (Bedford Ave. Williamsburg): Trish
[Melissa will also be in Brooklyn, playing with a band, but I'm not sure where yet. Also, Allison is watching but not sure if she'll be with Emily or with Trish.]

Not sure where (or if they will be in Queens, but I heard from Nicole, Lauren, and Josh that they will be watching, and they all live in Astoria, so...??)

Here's where I start to not have any freakin' clue.  I know Derek will make it up here, as will Heather & Mike (and Kiera?), Kristin & Kathryn, and my parents.  This is what I do know:

Mile 14 (Aid Station 13, 1st Ave): Dorothy (volunteering at an aid station! Cool!)

So hopefully I will hear from these people and find out what's going on, so that I can make sure to look for them!  I think I'll have to write their names on my arm or something!

More at a later date. :)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Last Hurrah

Today, I did my last "long" training run before the marathon - a measly 8 miles in Rocky River. :)

It's great how, around this time of year, every week is different and exciting, because the trees look slightly different.  Last week was a bit wet and soggy because of rain the day before, and I was a little worried about slipping and sliding.  Today was just gorgeous.  The only "wild card" was that so many leaves had fallen that it was sorta hard to see the ground (and any bumps, grooves, or fallen branches that might be hidden).  Luckily, I ran the entire thing without incident!

Another aspect that was different as a result of the leaf-laden paths was that sometimes the mile markers were also hidden.  Hence, the weird split times which I will share below.  Also, I feel that some of these miles are very long, and others are SUPER short.  Oh well.  I guess it all evens out.  You'll see this happen twice, as it's an out-and-back course.  And by the way, how sweet that I got to turn around so early...after weeks and weeks of doing anywhere from 12-20 miles on this same trail.

I wanted to do this at marathon pace or maybe a little faster, just to make the pace next week feel easier.  Again, the voices in my head were debating: push, or hold back?  I know that right now, it's best to play it safe...still, I couldn't help going for my goal time of an hour and 30 minutes.  Let's see how it played out:

Mile 1 - 11:14
Mile 2 - 12:26 (this was one of those "didn't see the marker" splits)
Mile 3 - 9:24 (and I obviously missed it about 1 1/2 minutes back!)
Mile 4 - 12:33
Mile 5 - 12:34
Mile 6 - 9:55
Mile 7 - 12:30 (again, just missed it so I estimated)
Mile 8 - 8:52 (hmmm.)

Total time: 1:29:32 - yes!, 11:11 pace (perfect for marathon or maybe that's a little faster)
First half: 45:39 /  Second half: 43:53 - yay negative splits!

The thought that kept going through my head was...this is it.  This is the last long training run for this marathon!  You've done it!  No matter what happens next Sunday...I'll know that I trained my best for this race.  I mean, there's always MORE we can do (like not eating like a pig? doing more weight training? etc.) but I think I did a pretty great job.  Now we'll just have to see what the day has in store for me.

On tap this week:

Monday - OFF
Tuesday - 4 easy
Wednesday - OFF
Thursday - 3 easy
Friday - OFF - travel to NY!
Saturday - 2 just to loosen up
Sunday - RACE!

Also, I am a carb-loading machine.  That's all.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Gotta have a goal

Well, it's getting down to the wire!  The NYC Marathon is just a week and a day away!

I've been pretty calm in most aspects concerning the actual race, and running.  My aches and pains have seemed to have all fixed themselevs (knock on wood!), and the taper has been great for me to feel refreshed and to go into each run with energy.  Had a 5-mile "easy" run on Tuesday, a great, final speed session on Wednesday behind Steelyard Commons, a rest day on Thursday, and a little faster than expected 3-miler yesterday around Tremont.  (I wore my garmin, and it just kept saying paces that were fast for me!  I kept having to force myself to slow down!)  Part of the briskness of yesterday's run was the fact that it was raining, so I just wanted to sort of get it over with and nobody likes standing around in the rain.  But it felt really nice, and that last mile passed by so quickly and I almost felt that I could do one more...but I didn't.  I need to not push so much!

Today, I was going to do 8 but I think I might save that for tomorrow and just do an easy 2-3 today...part of the reason is because it's again overcast (and supposed to clear up tomorrow), we had a lot of errands to run this morning (dry cleaning, laundry, bank, groceries), and, uh, let's just say I had a little bit too much fun with the wine last night at Rob & Claire's.  Ha ha.  Which reminds me, I totally did not stick to my original plan of not drinking a full month before the race...but I'm going to at least try to do a good 5 days before if not a full week.  (I read up online and nobody really says it's necessary to fully cut it out except for a couple days before so that you're not dehydrated.)

So, I am feeling "ready."  But how do you ever really feel ready for something like this?  Will it be easier than I thought?  Harder?  It's gotta be easier than Phoenix in that I actually KNOW I am capable of finishing, and that I trained smarter and harder than last time around.  But the course itself will be hilly!  Oh well, at least NY will have tons of crowds - and my friends and family - to pull me along.  Here's the course:

NYC Marathon Course

And here, for the first time ever...are my marathon goals!  (Drum roll)
I've heard it's smart to always make three goals: a reachable goal (like I finished), a somewhat attainable goal (like I finished having a great time without any pain, or I beat my time by a few minutes or seconds), and a harder to achieve, "stretch" goal.

Being that I only ran one other marathon, and my time was not that impressive (5:53:45), I truly feel that I can beat that time, even with the hills of NY.  I think last time, I was very tentative and was so scared of pushing too hard and hitting the wall (which, by the way, I did anyway) that I ran super slowly.  We also stopped for the bathroom a ton of times, which I don't really want to do this time if I can help it.

So Goal A: Beat my time by at least 10 minutes.

I don't really know what times to put for the others...I am thinking of "milestone" times, like 5:30 as the next goal.  I don't know why, but for some reason, the time 5:11 keeps flashing in my head.  Maybe it's cause it was my address in Madison....haha.  But I feel that that might be something to think about.

Going to the McMillan calculator and putting in my last half-marathon PR (2:17:12) gives an output of 4:49:21 for the marathon.  But that is crazy!  I don't think I am capable of breaking 5 hours...however, in that same page, the output for 5000m is second off my last 5K race time.  Creepy, huh?

So my super-secret goal, that I might be able to do if EVERYTHING worked out and the stars were aligned (weather, no clothing mishaps/chafing, no hitting the wall, fully hydrated, etc.) is to break 5 hours.


Dedications to come in a future  An easy 3-miler!  (And I mean easy!)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Eye of the "Tiger" is one of those days. Don't want to get into details as to why, but...let's just say it was hard.

This weekend, however, was great!

Did a "brisk" 10-miler on Saturday, and felt very good during it, even at the end (although really, who ever feels excellent at the end?).  First half - 59 minutes; second half - 56 minutes for a total of 1 hr 55 minutes.  That's good!  (Of course, it would have been harder to keep up that pace for another two or three hours! But still.)  One minor setback was that one of the water fountains I have come to rely on in the park was shut off!  BOOO!  At least I still had one, or else there would have been trouble.  It's crazy how much longer you can go in chilly weather though...I (almost) wasn't even that thirsty.

Then on to Sunday.  I had had a conversation with myself that went something like this.

Me: Should I do this Pumpkin 5k tomorrow?
Self: Why not?
Me: Well, I just ran 10 miles today.  What about that "no race and long run in the same weekend" rule?
Self: But 10 isn't really "long" anymore.  Remember you just ran 20 a couple weeks ago!  10 is like a walk in the park.
Me: I wouldn't exactly say that.  But I see your point.
Self: I thought you would.
Me: Should I run this 5k all-out, or what?
Self: Well, you can and you won't have to worry, but I know you, and you'll worry anyway.  So maybe run it at 75-80% of your 5k pace.  So you can relax, ya worrywart.
Me: Yeah, you're right.  Plus, I read recently on a running discussion board that running your best 5k two weeks before the marathon is kind of a bad sign.  You want to still be fatigued from training, and have been doing marathon-specific workouts, accounting for a slower time.
Self: I guess we are both super running nerds.
Me: Glad we had this conversation.

ANYWAY.  So yes, I did the Great Pumpkin Run on Sunday, and it was...great!  Many people were in costume, and it was a lot of fun.  They had good food at the finish, including yummy bagels, apples, bananas, and a bake sale (which I did not partake of).

I think that I ran a really good race.  I listened to my, uh..."self," and ran it almost all-out but not quite.  I especially held back in the beginning but was pleased to note that I passed TONS of runners in this race, including Wonder Woman and, of course, a Tiger!  Didn't run my best time, but still broke 30 again!!!!

And to think, my pre-race dinner the night before was none other than a Wendy's burger and fries (Derek and I went to see Kelly Clarkson (!) on Saturday night and stopped for fast food on the way home...ohhh how deliciously evil.)

Here are the splits:

Mile 1 - 10:09
Mile 2 - 9:34
Mile 3 - 9:00
last .12 - 00:51 (woulda been faster if the chute hadn't been so small...had to slow down a lot towards the finish because there were 3 girls running RIGHT ahead of me and we couldn't all fit in the chute at the same time!  Guess that only happens once in awhile.)

Finishing time: 29:36.

I love how my splits get progressively faster by 30 seconds each mile!  Yay!  And I was thinking during the last mile especially what a difference a couple of months makes.  This race had the same exact course as the Patrick Joyce Scholarship 5k in August, and the brutal heat & humidity in that race were awful!  That last flat mile seemed to take forever last time with the sun beating down...and yesterday, with the streets all shaded and the cool felt almost pleasant.

Also, got my bib info today!!!  Will be in the green start, and the third wave.  Can't wait to see everyone there cheering!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Taper Troubles

Oy vey.

Well, either what everyone says about the marathon taper is true, or I'm just paranoid about things feeling "off" that I am making it true.  Either way...this week has been quite annoying in terms of feeling "healthy."

After the half on Sunday, I was dead to the world.  Hurting everywhere, exhausted...nothing like the River Run 3 weeks ago or EVEN the 20 miler in Rocky River last weekend.  I don't know what the deal was.  I had mentioned I started feeling a little off on Saturday, but then I guess the half "washed it out" for the time being, but then the icky feeling came back with a vengeance.

Monday I felt stiff, groggy, and had a headache and jaw pain most of the day.  Kept taking Tylenol/Advil/whatever for it, but I hate taking medicine.  I was going to go to yoga at 6pm on Monday--which I've done before and has actually helped a lot after a long run or race--but then I had a baking mishap while making Derek anniversary cupcakes (Salted caramel filled chocolate cupcakes with dark chocolate frosting).  Everything started off fine, but then when it came time to make the caramel...WTF!?!?!?!  It took me three tries.  Finally, I got it. 

But by that point, the kitchen was a mess, I had chocolate all over me...and there was no going to yoga.  Oh well.

Derek did enjoy the cupcakes immensely though...

Anyway. I was a little on edge from not doing ANY type of working out on Monday, even though I didn't have a run planned.  Derek and I went out that night for our anniversary at Farenheit, which was fabulous. 

The only thing wrong was that my head started feeling gross again, and I couldn't get the smell of that caramel out of my mind...and all those dishes that had to be washed when we got home...

I did, however, enjoy a glass of my new favorite red wine, InZINerator, a Zinfandel (not to be confused with its trashy pink counterpart, White Zinfandel). 

I got exactly ZERO sleep Monday night, adding to the problems.  By Tuesday morning, I felt so tired.  I didn't know what to do about running, because I know I am tapering, but not that much, not yet!  I still have to do up to 80% of what I was doing last week, maybe even more since I didn't really do high-mileage throughout the training.  Ugh.

Got a flu shot Tuesday afternoon (the spell is broken; after getting my first flu shot I am no longer convinced that it will give me the flu -- but knock on wood), then did a measley 20-minute run by the Steelyard.  I just wasn't able to continue; too many things felt "off."

Wednesday the headache still wasn't gone.  I was getting really upset!  My tooth was still kinda hurting too (I have never gotten my wisdom teeth extracted, and so sometimes I bite my cheek and it hurts for a little while but then the pain goes away.  Dumb, I know, I should get them taken out, yadda yadda yadda.  I probably will.  In fact, I made an appointment this morning to see the dentist so I will see what he tells me).  I made myself go running, not only because I am stubborn but because I honestly did think it would make me feel better.  And it did, for a while.  I did around 5 miles and even tried to pick up the pace a mile at at time for a little makeshift speedwork session.  I decided not to take any meds all day, but then kinda gave up that idea around 6 o'clock when I had to go meet Derek and his boss for dinner at Outback Steakhouse.  I wasn't just going to go and feel miserable; I wanted it to be a pleasant experience.  I took some Advil...and...the headache went away and stayed away!!! YAY!!

I am thinking it was sort of like a migraine...I only get those at times of stress.  Saturday could have been the "aura" because I was feeling weird and lightheaded...and then the half put it off and then it came back.  Ugh.  I hate migraines.  I think the nausea is the worst part of it. Blecch.  So what's the stress?  I dunno...not knowing where I stand job-wise...while part-time is good, it's not what I really need in order to feel secure.  Been waiting to hear back from a couple places so we'll see.  Also, tapering is good put it is also much do I run, how many days do I take off, with what intensity do I do my workouts?  It's all kind of a mystery. 

Went to Hot Powerful Flow yoga today at Inner was awesome, just what I needed.  I am planning on doing 10 miles sometime in the next few days - maybe tomorrow, because I just signed up for a 5K for Sunday (or maybe just running 6-7 before the race?), then cutting back next week to two runs of 4 miles and maybe one of 3 miles...and then the week after that maybe 4, 3, and 2?  I don't know, I think I'll just wait and see what my body tells me.  As so many running experts will tell you, less is more in these situations.  I just don't want to lose fitness (hence the 5K and some other minimal speedwork to keep me sharp).  But I guess it's all just a mental thing right now; the hard part is all I can do is TRUST MY TRAINING!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Great Quote of the Day

Great quote from Ryan Hall in this month's Runner's World magazine ("Ryan's Hope," November):

"Everyone else seems to call their afternoon shuteye 'naps.'  I call them 'business meetings.'  On my easy days, I schedule two hours for these meetings.  When you're sleeping, your body absorbs all the hard work.  It's ironic: one of the best ways to get better is to do nothing."

Words to live by, folks.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Tale of the Towpath

Hey, folks!

Here's my race report for the Towpath Half-Marathon (Sunday, October 11, 2009).

Let me first say that this was a beautiful weekend in Cleveland town. Both days were DRY, finally, for the first time in over a week! The sun came out both yesterday and today. The high temps were a little lower than would be considered my "dream" temperature (mid-hi 50s), BUT they are ideal for running.

As you know, this past week was a high-mileage and high-intensity week for me. After my three six-mile runs on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I took Friday off completely (was gonna go to yoga at Inner Bliss, but had to wait for UPS to deliver a package...hinted at by Derek.. :)

(A gift for our first anniversary tomorrow! Love you, sweetheart!)

Anyway, I was then going to go to Studio 11 at 6 pm for a different yoga class...but fell asleep. D'oh. I chalked it up to needing extra rest (hadn't taken a full "off" day with no exercise in over a week).

Yesterday morning (Saturday), Claire and Rob picked me up -- he decided to run the 10K portion of this race -- and we went to get our bibs and goody bags. It was a really nice drive, scenic and quicker than I had expected to get down to Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Peninsula, OH.

View Larger Map

I was really excited to see a section of Ohio that I hadn't seen before (kinda like when Kristin visited). It's amazing just how much green land there is over here! I'm realizing that just because my immediate area doesn't have that much in terms of parks...the "Emerald Necklace" of Metroparks in and around Cleveland is a real find and worth scouting out.

Got back and I went to my first training session for work, during which time I was starting to feel a bit under the weather...chills, queasy. Hope this doesn't get worse! Turns out I just needed to eat something. Got a Dunkin' Donuts tea and a raisin bagel with cream cheese on the way home and all was well again. :)

So on to today and the race. Got up at 6 am, did my usual routine. I've been trying a few variations on different pre-long run and racing meals. This morning I had two pieces of whole-grain toast with White Chocolate Wonderful peanut butter (the best!) and slices of banana on top. I did not have coffee, finding it made me quite a fan of the port-o-potties (and boy, a story about that!) Claire and Rob got me at 6:45, and off we went. The start was at Brandywine Ski Resort and it was beautiful - but COLD. It was 37 degrees there compared to the 45 degrees in the city. Yikes! We dealt with it, though, and parked easily. Then of course, came the infamous wait for the bathrooms.

Online, they said they would have "plenty of bathrooms." Um, yeah. There were ten total port-o-potties for like 1,000 people (don't know the actual number of registrants, but the half was sold out!). The 10K runners also started at the same spot. So we were waiting and waiting..finally Claire and I did the unthinkable, and ran behind a building. It's ok, it was a "ladies only" zone (designated by...the ladies!). Poor Rob waited in line until like one minute before the start (it started late), and finally got in there. Whew, that was close.

Started off..with some hills. Now, when I went to the website, I checked the FAQ, where someone asked specifically about this:

Is the course flat?
YES. The course is VERY flat. There are no hills to speak of anywhere on the course.

Well, ok, there were no SKI SLOPES on the course, but....there were hills! I'm just sayin.' So I already knew not to anticipate a fast time like the River Run which was a really fast, mostly downhill course. This was a little discouraging to discover in mile one. However, mile one clocked in at 9:52. Hokay! Too fast!

I'm thinking about proper pacing, and I'm confused. I was planning on trying to run this race similarly to the last one, to see if I could beat it by a little bit. Because I did my last LONG run last weekend, I wanted to make this a solid speedwork effort to make it a bit more challenging. But I do know that marathon pace is going to be more like 11:30 ish pace for around a 5 hr and change goal (more on goals in another post). So I knew that 10:30 pace was going to be great because it will make MP feel easier on race day.

That being said, I was a lot more inconsistent this week with my pacing than last time, where it was like I was a robot and everything felt "right." This could be due to a few factors:

One, the course was very narrow, especially on the Towpath, and it wasn't as easy to "open your stride."
Two, the course was more turny and windy than the River Run, including a really awkward turnaround at mile 8, which slows you down.
Three, we were being passed the other way (toward us) by the 10K runners during the first half of the race coming in to the finish, and then on the way back, by the marathoners. So we really had to be on our toes - literally - and watch where we were going. It got a bit claustrophobic.

That being said, the course was beautiful, and the Towpath part itself was crushed limestone and was very very easy on the joints. (Of course, ironically enough, this would be the day that I got a bloody toe: not because of pressure or a nail falling off, but because when I trimmed my toenails last night, I guess I left a little sharp edge on one nail, which proceeded to cut into the adjacent toe...Ouch!! (this is Ouch #1)

Also? Remember NNORD (Nothing New on Race Day)? Didn't really think that applied to me because I have worn these particular pants numerous times before, including runs of 10 miles or more, so I didn't think there would be a problem with them...but DUH, I had never raced in them, and the intensity of running fast does weird things with clothes and...let's just say I experienced some VERY uncomfortable chafing and should have used more Body Glide. Ouch #2.

So anyway, that all being said (sorry for the disclaimers!), here are the splits:

Mile 1: 9:52
Mile 2: 10:50
Mile 3 and 4 together (there was no mile 3 marker! WTF?!?): 20:56
Mile 5: 10:09
Mile 6: 11:27
Mile 7: 10:38
Mile 8: 10:59
Mile 9 (where supposedly Derek was cheering but we were so focused we didn't see him!): 11:05
Mile 10: 11:45
Mile 11: 10:12
Mile 12: 10:55
Mile 13 plus .12 (again, no dang 13-mile marker!): 11:37

Finishing time: 2:20:30, or 10:43 pace. Not bad! Only 3 minutes (or 13 seconds/mile) longer than the River Run three weeks ago.

Also, dammit, I am at the end of my hard training! I'm tired! I'm sore! It's ok I didn't beat my time. And now I get to taper!

Went through the chute (thanks to Derek and Rob for cheering at the finish!), got my medal and an apple and water, and then we all got grossed out by the smell of kettle corn at the finishing tents that we left pretty abruptly and went to Tap House for brunch. YEEAAAH.

The third "Ouch?" Feeling that chafing in the shower (as well as my cut-up toe) caused me to seize up and keel over....and promptly get a bad upper ab cramp!!!! And I don't mean gastro issues...I mean a hard knot! Had to massage that one out!

More tales to come...Marathon Goals, Tapering Trials and Tribulations, and Dedications!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I Walk the Line

As sure as night is dark and day is light
I keep you on my mind both day and night
And happiness I've known proves that it's right
Because you're mine, I walk the line

Even though Mr. Cash wasn't talking about running in this works.

My reflective musing of the day is...there is always a feeling of "Walking the Line" with training. Why can I never choose between "pushing it" and "risking it"? We're always told to try harder, do more, leave it all on the _____________ (fill in blank: dance floor, course, field, whatever). Heck, we've all see The Biggest Loser.

But then there's an opposite voice saying don't do TOO much. Don't do 2 hard days in a row. Don't do hills and speedwork. Don't do a long run and then a race. Don't run on a mild injury; it might turn it into a worse injury. Blah, blah, blah.

It's "hell week." The last week of marathon training before the taper. Did my last 20-miler on Saturday, and I have a half this coming Sunday (Towpath Half in Peninsula, OH). And this week has just been six-milers every day.

Tuesday's and today's run were the same path: home to end of the Steelyard, then around the neighborhood for one more mile. Yesterday I ventured out to the Towpath and had a great scenic (and also hilly) speed session.

I have been nursing different minor injuries this month. Shin splints in the left leg (now almost completely better due to Kinesio tape and ice), now this weird pain in my right foot - like around my arch area, on the inner foot. Not plantar fasciitis, thank god, but still pretty uncomfortable. Do I rest? Or do I run? It's the last week of high-mileage, high-intensity training, so I just went for it. I can rest during the taper and hope that's enough to heal it.

Yesterday I started off taking it easy but then eased right into a hilly tempo run and felt great for the most part. I really felt that I was consciously "holding back" to not do too fast a pace. Good sign?

Then today I started off sluggish and blah, but by the end I just killed it. I was even planning on cutting it off at 5 miles because my foot was hurting -- but by the time came, I don't know if I was just numb or what, but it wasn't bothering me anymore so I added a loop around Tremont. A little over 6 miles.

But the whole second half of both of these workouts were filled with cautionary thoughts: is this too much? Am I going to be sorry on Sunday 'cause I expended all my energy today? Is it wrong that I ran a hilly workout two, well actually three, days in a row? Am I not looking towards the ultimate goal, which is running a comfortable (and hopefully faster than last time) marathon? Or is all this, in essence, like a "Last Chance Workout?"

When thinking about the arc of my training since July, I am probably doing the right thing by going a little harder when it feels appropriate because I spent a bunch of time in the "easy" training zone. I am definitely feeling more fit these days, and faster with more endurance and stamina. I ran the second half of all my workouts faster than the first this week, which should mimic the actual race. But I guess I just don't want to make a mistake or burn out. (Hmm, I guess this is where wearing a heart rate monitor throughout this process would have actually come in handy.) But hey, it's the last week, I guess it's supposed to feel like a lot, and I guess everything is supposed to hurt (Advil & Tylenol = my new B.F.F.s) and I am supposed to be super tired and therefore getting more sleep. I guess my lack of a job is sort of a blessing in disguise for this last grueling part of training. I don't know how I would have been able to handle both this week.

So...week in review/upcoming weekend:

Monday 10/5 - Off (Yoga)
Tuesday 10/6 - 6 miles (Steelyard)
Wednesday 10/7 - 6 miles, 2x2 miles @ tempo (Towpath)
Thursday 10/8 - 6 miles (Steelyard)
Friday 10/9 - 4 miles
Saturday 10/10 - Off
Sunday 10/11 - Towpath Half-Marathon (8:00 am)

Editorial comments: I might switch the 4-miler tomorrow out for yoga instead, and then run my "traditional" easy 2-miler on Saturday to loosen up the legs for Sunday. I figure I need a good stretch tomorrow, and I can give my poor arch a break. Maybe it'll also help me feel more refreshed for Sunday. I am going to try to "race" this half, as opposed to just use it as a training run, because it is still 3 weeks out. Well, I will play it by ear and see how I feel. I'd really love to use this race as a gague for how I might do on marathon day! The last half I did (2:17:30) was unusually fast for me, and that was a net downhill course, so we'll see if that was just a fluke or if my training really has been working its magic. :) This course is supposed to be flat as well...yay!

Will update with a race report on Sunday (if I don't have something to blab about sooner)!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I survived.... last 20-miler of training!!!

Pretty much because I'm lazy, I'm going to cut and paste an email I just sent to my running buddies Louise and Maria that sums up my feelings at this point:

I did 20 today. My last one! I know 4 weeks out is pretty long but some sites/books say the "conservative approach" is good for people with minor injuries (like my shin splints) so whatever, I'll go with it. I have a half-marathon next weekend so I didn't want to do the 20 with only 2 weeks to go. I guess I could have added 6 or 7 to the race next week (like you were gonna do)....but oh well :) I'll probably keep my weekly training the same until the last 2 weeks, because I haven't been running an enormous amount of miles during the week anyway, and just shorten the long run.

It's funny, because when you do your 2nd or 3rd really looong run it does somehow get a bit "easier"...although I was delirious for like the last 3 or so...knew I could do it but don't know how it happened. Finally the end appeared. Mentally it was tough, but also easy because we know we can do it!!!!!! By the way I tried out GU Chomps for the last two long runs, and I really like them, even better than Clif Blocks. I think the gel is just nasty and doesn't always agree with me. I also tried the Extreme Sports Beans with Caffeine...nom nom! They are good.

Oh also I heard something really good from a running website that says you should think of your 16-20 milers not as the first 16-20 of the marathon, but as the LAST. It's more similar to the last part because our bodies are already so fatigued from all the training. This was a relief to think about today, because after 20 I was like "there is no WAY I could run 6 more right now!" Haha.


I pretty much spent the rest of the afternoon (holy crap, is it 6:30 already!?) resting my feet on a bag of ice and water. It really helps!!!

'Til next time.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Memories of Madison...

I was fooling around with Picasa today...and finally figured out how to make a collage! Here are a bunch of pictures of me and my friend Kim from Madison - I miss her so much!!!

Today is rainy and dark. And gross. Glad I don't have a run scheduled for today :)
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 1, 2009

And the countdown begins....

Just thought I'd check to say...ONE MONTH 'TIL THE MARATHON!


Did another strong six-miler today...felt great. Hey, maybe there IS something to say about the PowerBar, as I had one today and yesterday before my runs and felt really energetic. Hmm.

Also - I watched The Hills and The City on DVR today! Yess! I love those shows.

That's about it for now. Dinner with Rob and Claire tonight at Prosperity. Oh, and I made banana nut muffins again because I am apparently obsessed with baking. Here's a pic of those and of the buttermilk biscuits from last night.

One more thing...I made a "pact" with myself to have no alcohol for a full month leading up the marathon. But I want sangria! At Prosperity! Tonight! Boo. I guess we'll see how my willpower holds up.