Monday, December 29, 2014

DPHM Week 4

My left leg has decided to stop being a team player. A couple miles into my long run on Sunday I started getting this weird pain in the back of my knee. It was kind of a snapping sensation as if a tendon/muscle/something was being stretched like a rubber band and then being snapped against the back of my leg. I tried slowing down and focusing on my form, but the pain persisted so I ended up just walking back to my car. A little frustrating to miss a long run, but probably the right decision in the long run.

I've actually experienced this pain before and it was caused tight hamstrings. I am going to back on my mileage a bit and focus on stretching and foam rolling. I think I caught it early enough that it won't be an issue. I was about due for a cutback week anyway, so I'm not too bothered about missing a few miles.

Monday: rest
Tuesday: 5.16 tempo
Wednesday: 3.4
Thursday: rest
Friday: 6.12
Saturday: 4.36
Sunday: 3.34

Total Miles: 22.38

Post run cookie!
I am so glad that the holidays are over. I have been eating a lot of sweets lately and not actually running enough to justify eating quite that many cookies. Also, you'll notice that this week I skipped my strength training session. Insert excuse here. I definitely am ready for the huge heaping of motivation that the new year will bring. Hopefully that will get my strength training back on track, and maybe, just maybe, make it an actual habit.

Apart from cutting my long run short, I felt like this was a pretty great week of training. The tempo run on Tuesday felt amazing. Hard work, but very manageable. The 6 miles on Friday were faster than anticipated and I felt great for the entire run. If it wasn't for the temperature dropping after sunset, I probably would have stayed out for another mile or so. But I was wearing shorts and I could really feel the temperature change.

Shorts and a hat. Totally normal, right?
Sadly I think that was my last opportunity to wear shorts until I am running around Florida in February. The 10 day forecast is showing highs in the 20s and 30s. No snow though, so no complaints from me!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Need for Speed (and motivation!)

I am officially 12 weeks post calf strain! Woohoo!!

Since I haven't had any additional issues with my calf since the injury, I have decided that I am ready to start adding in some speed work once a week. For now I am going to focus on tempo runs. As I've mentioned previously, I am using McMillan Running to determine my training paces.

Tempo runs, or threshold runs, are supposed to "challenge [my] threshold between easy and hard." My pace for these runs should be between 7:37 - 7:55. I aimed for about 7:55 last night for about 2.5 miles. About halfway into the run, I realized I would not be able to maintain that pace for that distance so I cut it down to just under 2 miles. Since these runs are supposed to be medium effort, I wanted to feel challenged, but not out of control (if that makes sense).

Warm up: 1.46 miles in 14:00 (9:35 pace)
Tempo: 1.92 miles in 14:58 (7:48 pace)
Cool down: 1.78 miles in 16:34 (9:18 pace)

I plan to keep increasing the distance of the tempo portion as my training progresses. I will probably top out around 5 miles, or about 40 minutes. I was pleased to discover that when I went out for an easy run on Wednesday that I didn't have any residual soreness from putting in a hard workout.

Hello new running shoes!
The weather is nice and I have some new running gear from Christmas to test out, but I am feeling completely drained of motivation. I'm not sure if I am just tired from having a couple busy days or if I might be coming down with a cold or something. I had a tickle of a sore throat this morning, but I feel fine right now, just lazy.

Monday, December 22, 2014

DPHM Week 3

Monday: rest day
Tuesday: 4.09
Wednesday: 5.18
Thursday: 4.09
Friday: strength training
Saturday: 5.16
Sunday: 9.43

Total Miles: 27.95

Monday is supposed to be my strength training day, but I was just not feeling it last week and really wanted a day off. I have no discipline when it comes to sticking with a strength training schedule. It was raining on Tuesday and I had about a million errands to run (last minute Christmas shopping). I had no interest in going for a run, but, fortunately, am really disciplined when it comes to keeping a running schedule.

Rain + mascara = not my best look
Wednesday was 5 miles with run club. One of the other runners brought holiday cards for everyone and included a Clif Shot with each one. She is seriously so kind and thoughtful. This really made my day! Runners are the best sort of people.

Thursday's run got a bit dicey towards the end because the rain was turning to snow and suddenly the sidewalk was turning to ice. I should have run earlier in the day before the temperature started to drop, but, I was trying to be nice by waiting for Mr. Shoe to get home. So I could drag him out on a run too. Instead of taking a rest day on Friday I caught up on my strength training. A certain old man cat even helped me stretch afterward.

"Stop stretching. I need attention right meow."
Saturday was an easy 5 miler. Sunday was supposed to be a nice and slow long run, but I ended up running quite a bit faster than anticipated. I ran without my watch, but right before I left I started the stopwatch on my phone. I was aiming for 9:30-9:45 miles, but I didn't check my time during the entire run. I was feeling strong so picked of the pace for the last few miles. I ended up averaging a pace of 8:43. Ooops. I might need to work on my pacing!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

DPHM Week 2

Last week was another great week of training, even with my mini-race on Wednesday. I was a bit sore on Thursday so I took an unplanned rest day and rearranged the rest of my week.

Monday: strength training
Tuesday: 4.49
Wednesday: 5.18
Thursday: rest
Friday: 4.2
Saturday: 8.18
Sunday: 4.09

Total miles: 26.14

Paces for week 2 were pretty consistent, averaging between 9:12 and 9:41. I actually don't know my pace from Wednesday's run since I didn't have my watch with me. I'm probably happier not knowing since I am sure it wasn't as fast as it felt.

My general plan for building my mileage in 2015 is two weeks of building followed by a cut back week. This rotation worked really well for me during my fall training this year. I am holding off on taking a cut back week until I get my mileage back up (targeting week 5 as my first cutback week).
This week I am aiming for a minimum of 27 miles.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Fighting words

Step 1: Tell myself that I am going to run all of my runs at an easy pace.

Step 2: Fail miserably. Twice. In one night.

On Wednesdays Mr. Shoe and I usually head to a local running group to get our miles in. We started doing this over the summer and it was one of the best running decisions that we have made. We found out about the Growler Gallop through this group (and I scored a growler of beer at this race!) and I met fellow runner who just happens to be our neighbor. If she hadn't texted me on Tuesday to go run, there is a chance I would have chosen pajamas over running tights and stayed in bed reading all night.

The group usually runs 5-6 miles. Everyone stops at the halfway point to regroup and take a bit of a break and then we head back to the starting point to regroup one last time (and pick a restaurant/bar for post-run refreshments).

This week, about a half mile or so into our run, Mr. Shoe flagged me down to tell me he is heading back to the car. His calf has been bothering him and he didn't want to over do it. We chat for a minute and I figure I can easily catch up with the end of the group. So I catch up with the last few runners but decide I want to run just a bit faster. So I tried to catch up with the next group of runners. It was a straight section and I could still see them. Easy peasy.

Except not. After a few minutes I realized the trail started twisting around and I lost sight of my friends. I couldn't see anyone behind me either, even though I knew they had to be there. Suddenly it was just me, my footsteps, and my breath fogging in my headlamp (which added a nice eery glow). It might have been peaceful if I wasn't so afraid of the dark. So I started running faster to catch the next group. And faster. And faster.

Finally I caught sight of them, about a quarter mile from our well-lit meeting place. I knew I wasn't really in danger, if I had called out, I'm sure the group would have heard me. Or I could have waited a minute or so for the group behind me to catch up. But alone in the dark, I panicked just a little.

So for the return trip I made sure to lock in my pace with a couple of guys so I wouldn't be alone. With about a mile left, without comment, we slowly started picking up our pace and trying to catch the two guys ahead of us. We pass this one guy with about a half mile to go. A minute or two later he ends up passing us back, and before I can stop myself I say, "Wow, it's like you want me to pass you twice." There is a brief pause before my previously silent running partner says, "Yeah, those are fighting words."
Wednesday. Raceday. Same thing, right?
The next thing I know it is an all out race to get back to our cars. I'm sorry to say that that one guy out paced me in the end, but hey, there is always next week for the rematch!

Monday, December 8, 2014

DPHM Week 1 + Sunday routine

Last week was the first official week of training for the Disney Princess Half Marathon. I still haven't finalized my 12 week training plan, but I have outlined the rest of December. I want to see how I am feeling before I make any concrete training plans, but I must say I felt great this past week!

Monday: strength training
Tuesday: 4.09
Wednesday: 5.18
Thursday: 3.4
Friday: rest
Saturday: 4.2
Sunday: 7.1

Total miles: 23.97

I have been keeping the pace for all of my runs in my easy range. For me, that is 8:28-9:29 per mile. I am using the McMillan pace calculator and my most recent half marathon to determine my training paces. For my marathon training I used this calculator to determine my long run pace even though it made me super nervous to be running so "slow." But, I have to say, I was thrilled to discover that although I was averaging 9:45 on all of my long runs (and most of my shorter runs as well) I averaged 8:06 for my half marathon during that training cycle (PR!). I am hoping to have similar results in 2015.

Post run selfie
I think this week was a bit of a breakthrough in terms of returning to running after an injury. On Tuesday's run I felt like I was struggling to maintain even a 9:26 pace, but each run felt easier and easier as the week progressed. My long run pace was 8:56 and I felt amazing during after the run.

Post run snack
I was starving when I finished my run and so, so happy that there was a loaf of homemade oatmeal bread waiting for me. I may or may not have indulged in two slices topped with butter and honey. After a shower and a nap, I spent some quality time with the couch in my pajamas with an ice cold beer.

Short's Thirst Mutilator wins the award for cutest beer label ever.

It is nice to be getting back to a Sunday routine. Long run, nap, eat/drink all the things. The best part about winter is getting to delay the long run until the afternoon so I can sleep in! Getting up at 6 every Sunday in the summer gets old quick! Plus running errands on dead tired legs sucks. Yesterday I was able to do my grocery shopping first thing in the morning and go for my run around lunch time. It was the sort of day that reminds me just how much I love running and training.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Return of the long run

Sunday marked the return of the long run...sort of. I don't know that I really consider 6 miles to be a long run for me, but based on how long it has been since I've done anything longer than 3 miles without a walking break, I think it should count.

Mr. Shoe and I really couldn't have asked for better weather, especially for the end of November! It was slightly overcast and about 57 degrees out. I'm in a bit of disbelief that I wore shorts for all of my weekend runs! Last year it was freezing the weekend of Thanksgiving! Even on Friday this week it was cold and snowing.

My goal for the run was to keep the pace easy for the first 4-5 miles and then kick it up for the finish. Instead I ran the entire 6 miles at a steady pace, that ended up being faster than I intended. I am going to need to work on my pacing this week since I am determined to actually start a training plan today. And I really need to if I want to be ready for a half marathon in just 12 weeks.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Michigan Weather

Monday: 4.2 miles, 3(5:00 running, :30 walk) + running the rest
Tuesday: strength training
Wednesday: 5.18 miles (break at the halfway point)
Thursday: rest
Friday: rest
Saturday: 3.13
Sunday: 2.12

Total miles: 14.63

My weekly mileage was actually lower this week than it was last week. Since a couple of my runs were complete without any walk breaks, I am pretty happy with the way things are progressing. Sure, I would like to be running more and not have each run feel quite so difficult, but I am making progress. That is the important thing.

Pretty much this.
The weather this week has been so crazy. On Monday it was cold (22 F) and windy. The wind was absolutely brutal during the last mile of my run. On Wednesday it was snowing; we ended up with a couple inches total. Only part of the trail had been cleared, the rest of the way felt like running in loose sand. My calf was not a fan of terrain and was very tired by the end of the run. Saturday morning everything was covered with a layer of ice, but that started melting mid-day and it rained. Sunday it was in the 50s and I wore shorts on my run.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Weekly Recap

Monday: 4.02 miles, 5:00 running, 1:00 walking
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 4.02 miles, 7:00 running, 1:00 walking
Thursday: rest
Friday: 4.2 miles, 9:00 running, 1:00 walking
Saturday: rest
Sunday: 3.4 miles, 7:00 running, 1:00 walking

Total miles: 15.64

Confession: I was feeling really good on Friday and pushed the pace quite a bit during the last half mile. That was definitely a mistake and has resulted in a very tight right calf on Saturday. I had a difficult time determining if it was just normal, ran-too-hard pain or angry injury pain. It didn't feel quite the same as the injury so I'm hoping it is just normal pain. I can actually feel a tight, knotted muscle in my calf, which wasn't the case with my calf strain.

Confession 2: When I went out for a run on Sunday my calf was still pretty tight. I probably shouldn't be pushing it if there was a chance it was injury related pain, but I wanted to run. So I did. I did cut back my planned distance and reduced my pace by quite a bit. I could tell when I was running that this definitely was NOT injury pain. It felt completely fine during the running bits. Definitely just a tight muscle.

Confession 3: I gave Mr. Shoe approximately 0.2 seconds notice that I was going to take that picture. He walked in the door, I yelled at him to not take his jacket off, and then snapped the picture. Sorry, not sorry.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Strength Day

After Monday's post about needing a training plan, I sat down and planned out the rest of the year. I think it is a pretty good plan. By the end of the year, I should be consistently running 5 days a week and my long run will be up to 10 miles. At that point I will still have an additional 7 weeks to get ready for the Disney Princess Half.

I didn't work any strength training or cross training into my plan, but I really need to. Not getting injured is probably going to be one of my top goals for 2015. And to minimize the risk of injury I am going to need to do some strength training. I hit the gym on Tuesday and did the following:

Not listed: calf raises, bent over rows
I'm definitely not an expert in weight lifting, but this seemed like a good mix of running specific leg stuff and upper body stuff. It also served as a nice reminder that I haven't gone to the weight room in approximately 6 months. The single leg dead lifts ended up being just normal dead lifts and I needed assistance with the single leg squats. I am so out of shape!

I was reasonably sore on Wednesday even though I only did one set of each exercise. Not sore enough that I couldn't run, but sore enough that I needed to spend some extra time stretching and warming up. At least I had company while I stretched.

Little kitty insisted it was petting time. Good thing she is cute.
I'm not sure how often I am going to incorporate strength training into my routine. Does anyone else lift weights? If so, how often per week? I think I could set one day per week aside for weights, but I'm not sure if that is enough. I also know that every time I plan to lift after a run I end up skipping the lifting every.single.time. So there is no sense in setting myself up for failure.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Plan Needed!

All fancied up!
I was hoping to run every other day this week. Instead I managed to run twice. Ooops.

Monday: planned rest day
Tuesday: 3.62 miles at 3:00 running, 1:00 walking
Wednesday: planned rest day
Thursday: excuse day
Friday: 4.02 miles at 4:30 running, 1:00 walking
Saturday: planned rest day
Sunday: excuse day

I really was planning on running on Sunday, but Mr. Shoe and I attended a wedding Saturday night and I was just exhausted all day Sunday. It is actually a small miracle that I made it through Sunday without taking a nap.

 I think it is time to sit down and write an actual training/recovery plan. I do better when I have a written plan. If I am just making it up as I go, I let myself make up excuses as well (see above). I have been hesitant to write an actual plan, because I didn't want to feel guilty if I couldn't stick with it due to my injury. But I haven't had any issues with my calf so I think it is time to get a plan going.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Almost back!

I haven't felt up to blogging for the past few weeks because I haven't had much to say. I haven't been running and I didn't feel the need to keep reminding myself of how much I missed it. Finally I am at a point were I am making slow, but steady progress. I have been following Courtney's advice to taking it really, really slow and ice after every bit of exercise. This is the type of injury that go on and on for months if you don't let it fully heal. I definitely don't want to do that.

My recovery so far has included 1 full week of rest followed by 2 weeks of stretching and walking. I made my return to running with a test run of 1:00 running followed by 2:00 of walking on October 20th. While that felt fine during the run, I noticed the next day that my calf felt really tight. It wasn't necessarily painful, but it definitely didn't feel normal. I took two days off after that and then started again with 0:30 of running and 2:30 of walking. It was slow and a bit frustrating, but I was pain/tightness free the next day.

I think it might be time for new shoes!
Since then I have been "running" every other day and slowly increasing my run time while decreasing the time spent walking. Fortunately Michigan was enjoying a very warm fall or these walks would have been pretty miserable. It is hard to stay warmed up when most of your time is spend walking! On Halloween I was up to 2:00 of running and 1:00 of walking. I was grateful that this was mostly running since it was super cold and I hadn't bothered to check the weather. 41 degrees + wind + shorts is not a great combo.

My plan is to spend another 3 weeks running progressively longer intervals and getting back to running 5 days per week. At that point I will be 8 weeks post injury. I will then spend another 4 weeks just focusing on increasing distance while keeping the pace easy. When I reach 12 weeks post injury (December 22) I should be able to start doing speed work without any risk of re-injury. So that's the plan. Assuming I can stick to it without becoming too impatient!

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Saturday: Tried the calf strain rehabilitation exercises recommended by my doctor. They are all pretty easy except the wall jumps, because any sort of jumping is painful. I managed 5 jumps. I went to the gym to see if the elliptical would be an option while my calf heals. I was so bored that I left about 5 minutes later.

My wall jumps were not nearly this fun [image:]
Sunday: Plenty of walking.

Monday: More calf strain rehabilitation exercises. I can now jump 10 times and it is just a bit uncomfortable. Made it official and paid to defer my race entry to 2015. 

Not how I like to spend my money.
Tuesday: I took a 2 hour nap to try to forget about my disappointment. It didn't help. I drank a few glasses of wine which did help.

Wednesday: Calf strain rehab and a 2 mile walk. I tried running a few short segments and was able to slow run maybe a tenth of a mile before feeling some discomfort in my calf. A definite improvement over the 5-10 steps that I made it last time. As soon as I felt any discomfort I switched back to walking for a few minutes. 

My plan is to continue with the calf rehabilitation exercises for the next few days as well as walking a few miles each day. I know I will be tempted to try to run again every day, but I am going to force myself to take 2-3 days before I try it again. I don't want to hinder my recovery by overdoing it.

Ideally I would plan on run/walk intervals over the next few weeks. In November I would begin building back to my pre-injury level of running (35 miles per week). Then I would start my next training cycle on December 8th. I don't know if this is a realistic timeline, so I am trying not to get ahead of myself. But I just want to be running again.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Not happening.

Yesterday I tried to test out my leg to see if I was able to run at all. My plan was to apply heat, stretch, then head out on a walk. After about a half mile walk (to get everything all nice and warmed up) I was planning to alternate 30-60 seconds of running with 60-90 seconds of walking. Instead I ran approximately 10 steps before the pain started back up.

On one hand my calf used to hurt immediately if I tried to run and I can now run the length of my car without pain, so I am making improvement. On the other hand, a marathon is 26.2 miles and I know that means I would have 10 pain free steps followed by approximately  43,190 extremely painful steps. No thanks!

This morning my doctor diagnosed me with "Calf pain, right." Such insight! And offered up treatment advice that includes "If it hurts, don't run." So helpful!

Advance apologies to everyone I encounter in the next few weeks.
That is probably snarkier than necessary and I should say that my doctor was really nice and definitely felt bad telling me that I shouldn't run the marathon. I was also given a bunch of strengthening exercises and have a follow up appointment booked for October 20th (the day after the marathon). My follow up appointment is booked with the sports medicine doctor in the practice (she was out of the office today, of course!). I was also cleared to continue walking and try swimming, biking, or the elliptical (assuming I can do so pain free). So at least I'll be able to do something for the next few weeks.

I still haven't actually deferred my race. I know that I should. I know that I NEED to. But...I'm just not ready to make it official yet.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

back and forth

I've been going back and forth between feeling confident that I can still run the marathon and angry rage at having a stupid injury derail my plans. 

On Monday I thought that my calf must be making progress since I didn't have any pain while walking, including stairs which have been just a bit painful. I really worked to convince myself that the heat/massage/ice routine from Sunday night was doing the trick. 

I was able to do even more heat/massage/ice on Monday, a bit of massage before work and the full routine after work and again before bed. The massage and foam rolling hurt a bit more on Monday than it did on Sunday. Not sure what to make of that.
Tuesday morning I had a bit of soreness in my calf, but instead of the sharp pain I have been experiencing, it felt like normal muscle soreness. I took this to be a good sign. After a bit of heat and a bit of walking around my calf was back to feeling normal. At this point I was feeling really confident!

Unfortunately I left work late and had to run to catch my bus. I only ran about 10 yards, but man did it hurt! I'm not sure if it hurt as much as my test run last week, but there was definitely pain in each step. This basically put me right back to the angry rage. I stuck with my made up treatment plan for the night: heat, foam roll, walk, and ice. The heat felt amazing. Foam rolling was a bit tender. I was nervous for the walk after my painful mini run, but it turned out just fine.

Overall, I'm not sure what to think. Excluding my test run last week, I am now at 9 days without running. I won't be running tonight, so might as well call it 10 days. If I can't run pain free this weekend, I know need to just defer. It sucks, but it is what it is.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Marathon Week 16

This is what week 16 should have looked like:

Monday: rest
Tuesday: 5
Wednesday: 6
Thursday: 5
Friday: rest
Saturday: 4
Sunday: 12

That is not at all what happened. Remember the nagging calf pain that I mentioned in last week's post? Well that has turned into a bit of a serious problem. I took Monday - Thursday as rest days. I figured four days would give my leg plenty of time to rest/heal/fix itself. I planned to do 3-5 miles on Friday based on how I was feeling. Instead I managed a bit over a mile with my right calf hurting every step of the way.

Week 16
Monday: rest
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: rest
Friday: 1.28
Saturday: rest
Sunday: rest

Total miles: 1.28

I spent the rest of the weekend trying not to think about running. My internet diagnoses is that it is a mild calf strain. Since I can walk with minimal pain and there isn't any bruising or swelling, I don't think it is too bad. I've started a rather intense massage/foam rolling routine that I'll be doing multiple times a day. I tried it last night and there seems to be a bit of an improvement this morning.

I'm hoping that I'll be able to run on Wednesday. If I can get back to pain free running by the weekend, I should be okay for the marathon. It is actually good that this happened at the start of the taper. I was able to finish all of my high mileage weeks AND I still have a few weeks to let this heal.

Less than two weeks to go! 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Marathon Week 15

Finally I've made it to the taper portion of my training schedule! I was really looking forward to reaching this point, but now I feel like I haven't done enough to prepare and there isn't time left to correct that. I just keep telling myself to trust my training.

Week 15
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 5.12
Wednesday: 8.01
Thursday: 2.56
Friday: rest
Saturday: 8.2
Sunday: 20.42

Total miles: 44.31

I felt like I was struggling all week. I am pretty sure that my body was just extra tired from Sunday's half marathon, but I also struggled with some doubt that I've taken on more than I can handle. Maybe I can't run a marathon (No, trust your training!). All of my mileage this week was run at a very slow pace and I fought side stitches during every single run.

The last 3 runs of the week also included some nagging pain in my right calf. It was really bad on Thursday and the reason that I stopped after 2.5 miles instead of 5. On Saturday and Sunday the pain lessened after a couple miles.

I'm not quite sure what to make of the side stitches. It feels like the side stitch during the half marathon left some lingering pain (Is this a thing? Can this happen?). I've noticed a bit of tenderness in that area even when I am not running. It was so bad during my 20 miler that I resorted to running 5 minutes and walking 30 seconds to keep the pain from getting too bad, which completely killed my pace. I spent almost the entire run fighting a side stitch (also fighting tears because I was so frustrated with my body).

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this week was a struggle due to the race. I really hope this isn't a sign of what's to come with the marathon. I definitely will be taking my sufferfest of a long run into consideration when choosing a goal pace for the marathon. I'd rather run a bit slower than spend 26 miles in agony.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Growler Gallop Follow Up

I was able to determine that I did not finish the Growler Gallop 5k in 22:14. I think 22:20 is much safer estimate. As I've mentioned, this wasn't a PR, so I am not too worried about it.

The race organizers (Trivium) put a TON of pictures from the race on Facebook so I was able to grab this one of me finishing the race. The clock that you can see is the clock for the 10 mile race. I did a comparison of the other finish line photos with the other runners official finish times and determined that the difference between the two times was about 15:09. So the adjusted time on the clock would be 22:14. Perfect, you know, if I wasn't a few feet from the finish line.

Start of the race!
 I understand that Trivium couldn't just made up a time based on how far I was from the finish (probably just 2-3 seconds different). So I think they did the best that they could based on the situation. Plus I love having pictures of me running so I am glad that the photos were all available on Facebook instead of having to pay for them.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

2014 Capital City River Run Recap [part 1]

On September 21, 2014 Mr. Shoe and I ran the Capital City River Run half marathon in Lansing, Michigan. This was my fourth half marathon and Mr. Shoe's first half.

We headed to Lansing on Saturday for packet pickup. I requested a women's small shirt, but ended up exchanging it for a men's small. The women's "long sleeve" shirt had sleeves that ended a few inches above my wrists, so awkward. We also grabbed some free Gatorade Energy Chews.

Spoiler Alert: We both received finisher medals!
We spent Saturday night at Mr. Shoe's parents' house since they live closer to Lansing than we do. My in laws really took care of us this weekend by driving us to the starting line and volunteering to take lots of pictures of us. I still got up two hours before the start of the race so I could eat breakfast and have time to fully wake up before the race. I am not a morning person at all, so I really need this time. My go-to pre-race breakfast is a Clif bar. I also snacked on some caffeinated jelly beans before the start.

Mr. Shoe is not feeling the early morning.
I did some dynamic stretching to warm up and lined up with the 8:00 minute pacers. Assuming I ran with the pacers the entire time, I would end up finishing in 1:44:52. I have three running related goals this year: sub 1:45 half, run 1,000 miles, and run a marathon. I didn't try for the sub 1:45 in April because I knew my training had not been optimal. This race would be my last shot at this goal. My first goal was to run with the pacers for at least 10 miles, then pick it up for the last few miles. My fall back goal was to just run with the pacers the entire time.

When the race started I was still fumbling with cheap $8 watch that I use to time my runs. I did not get it started on time and decided to just trust the pacers for the first mile. When we got to the first mile marker I was able to start the timer. I told myself I would just have to remember that my watch was 8 minutes behind. I spent most of the second mile worrying that I was running too fast and wouldn't be able to hold this pace for all 13 miles.

Somehow I was able to settle into the pace and the next few miles went by easily. I grabbed water at about 3.5 and at 5.75 miles. Seeing my in laws out on the course cheering for us at mile 7 was a nice boost. I was feeling great at the point. The pace felt so easy! I had a Honey Stinger gel and some more water at mile 7.5. Before I knew it we were at mile 9 and then mile 10. So easy! I even chatted with the pacers a bit.

Running away because I am too fast for pictures!
The last aid station I was planning to stop at was at mile 10.5. I fell a touch behind the pacers at this point because I actually stopped to drink the water. When I started running again I felt a bit of a side stitch forming. I tried to focus on breathing and relaxing, but the stitch just kept getting worse and worse. I was almost to the pacers when the pain went from normal side stitch to someone is stabbing me pain.

The next mile was an awful mix of running until the pain was so bad that I couldn't continue and standing hunched over clutching my side in absolute agony. It killed me to watch the pacers get further and further away before disappearing around a corner. I am so grateful for the kindness of the runners who passed me and tried to encourage me to keep running. Finally I was able to start running and keep running. I held my pace back for a few minutes, running with the awesome lady who had told me that I would make it.

When it was clear that the stitch was really gone I picked the pace up and started looking for my pace group. I tried to figure out how much time I had lost, but because I started my watch at mile one, I just could not figure out the math. I caught a few glimpses of the pacers in the distance, but I never caught back up with them. I crossed the line in 1:46:11. It is still a PR and I know I should be happy, but honestly, I am really disappointed.

And suddenly a race broke out for 183rd place (I won!).
I hobbled my way over to my father in law. My left IT band got really tight as soon as I stopped running. After that, all that was left to do was wait for Mr. Shoe and hope he was having a better race that I had. Recap of Mr. Shoe's first race coming up in Part 2!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Marathon Week 14

Only four weeks to go!

Week 14
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 8.33
Wednesday: 8.01
Thursday: 5.02
Friday: rest
Saturday: rest
Sunday: 13.1

Total miles: 34.46

This week went just as planned. Week 13's reduced mileage meant my legs were rested and ready for 8 miles on Tuesday instead of my usual 5 miles. My goal was to 1) add a few extra miles to the cutback week and 2) keep the extra miles at the start of the week, so I was ready to race on Sunday. If the half marathon had been my primary goal race this fall, I would have cut back my mileage even more.

I was really grateful for the two rest days in a row leading up to the race. I wish that I was able to take an extra day off this week since my legs are definitely tired/sore from the half marathon. The race has left me with a whole slew of emotions and I am still kind of processing it. I'll try to get a race recap up later this week!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

2014 Growler Gallop Recap

On Sunday, September 14th Mr. Shoe and I ran the Growler Gallop in Detroit, Michigan. Mr. Shoe ran his first ever 10 mile race while I ran the 5k. The race was not until 4:00 PM which kind of threw off our entire day. I much prefer morning races so I don't have to worry about eating too much at lunch and feeling too full to race.

Ready to run!
We ended up being a bit late getting to packet pickup. Not actually late, but we were running late enough that we were starting to worry about making the start of the race. Traffic near the start/finish was an absolute nightmare due to closed roads and, I kid you not, a circus that was mere blocks away from the race. Fortunately we were able to find parking right next to the starting line.

Start of the 10 mile. Go Blue!
Picking up our packets and getting our IDs checked for the post-race party went pretty quickly. There wasn't much time for anything else besides a quick warm up and waiting in line for the restrooms. I loved that the 5k was starting after the 10 mile because it meant I would be able to cheer him on at the start and finish of his race.

After the 10 milers were off, I dropped the camera off at the car, ran a quick warm up, and fought my way up to the front of the corral. I was planning on starting towards the middle of the pack, but after asking a few runners what their expected pace was, I decided to move up so I would have less dodging to do. I ended up lining up next the same gentleman that was in line for the restrooms with us. It was really nice to chat with him about planned paces and upcoming races. We both had a goal of finishing under 23 minutes.

Mr. Shoe has just crossed the starting line!
Sub-23 was a kind of steep goal for me. I set a PR in May of 22:12, but the course was mostly downhill. I wasn't sure if I could hold a similar pace on a flat course. I also have not been doing any speed work. I was fairly certain that I would not get a PR but I also knew that under 24 should be relatively easy. I was hoping that sub-23 would be enough to make me work for it, but not so fast that I would run out of gas at the end.

Once the race started and the crowd thinned out a bit, I tried to get a handle on where I was in the pack. I estimated that there were about 4-5 women in front of me. About a mile into the race I managed to overtake one of them, but at the half way turn around a different woman flew past me. For a moment I tried to latch on to her pace, but I decided it was too fast for me, better to run my own race. I hit the turn around at 11:30, right on track for my 23 minute goal.

The rest of the race was fairly uneventful for me. There was a terrifying moment when a car tried to cut through the course and almost hit the girl in front of me. I could hear that there was another runner pretty close behind me, so I just focused on keeping my pace up and staying in front of him. No one passed me and I didn't pass anyone else for the remainder of the race.

Hoodies, bottle opener finisher medals, and race numbers.
I am fairly certain that the clock said 22:2X as I crossed the line. I knew it wasn't a PR but I was very happy to be within 10-15 seconds of it! Volunteers got me my medal and a bottle of water and I focused on getting my breathing back under control. About 45 minutes had passed since the start of Mr. Shoe's race, so I knew I had a bit of time before he would finish.

I made a quick trip back to my car to towel off and grab the camera. I made a loop through the post-race party to grab a slice of pizza then went to watch the finish line. Mr. Shoe had set a goal of 1:30, so at about 1:15 I staked out a spot near the finish line. The top 10 mile finishers started coming in amongst the 5k walkers. I felt for them as they tried to kick at the finish and dodge the people walking. This wasn't the best set up.

Exhausted, but he finished!
As I mentioned in his birthday post, Mr. Shoe finished in 1:28:17. My official finish time was 22:14. Very close to my PR, but I'm actually a bit relieved that it wasn't a new PR, because the race had major timing issues! Awards were supposed to start at 6:00, but we waited and waited, still nothing. Finally someone made an announcement that both their regular timing system and the backup system had failed and they were still in the process of trying to recover data.

I'm guessing only some of the data could be recovered, because when they started announcing winners everything kind of spiraled into mayhem. Finally they decided to stop trying to announce winners and go back to working on fixing the problem. We finally managed to get our hands on the timing results, Mr. Shoe was listed correctly on the 10 mile results, but I was not on any of the results.

Fortunately once we managed to speak with one of the organizers, she had me write in my result and let me leave with one of the age group awards. The age group awards were growlers filled by Atwater Brewery (the main sponsor). This is not the type of award that could be easily mailed, so I am really grateful that the organizers took my word that I would have placed.

Atwater Brewery
The line to fill the growler was long and filled with confusion/frustration. The guy in front of us was the first finisher of the 5k, but he was not on the results list. The people behind us were complaining about the people complaining. I understand that the race organizers (Trivium Racing) hadn't intentionally lost half of our results, but it was frustrating to pay for a chip timed race and not have an official time!

I will say that I am impressed by how quickly Trivium managed to compile an official list of results. They must have spent most of the night reviewing the finish line photos and hand written results list to determine times for all of the runners. Unless they were somehow able to actually recover the missing data. I don't know if my 22:14 was an estimate by Trivium based on photos or an actual chip timed result, hence my relief that this was not a new PR.

Cans, growlers, and kegs, oh my.
I am really happy with this time. Even if my actual finish time was a few seconds slower, I came very close to my current, mostly downhill PR. I am relieved that I must be picking up/maintaining my speed even though I have only been focusing on endurance. In 2013 my 5k results were 22:59 (downhill course), 24:20, and 24:23. Without the benefit of the downhill, I could not come close to my best time. This year I'm actually close!

I'm not sure that we will do this race again next year. This was our first experience with Trivium, and it wasn't a great one. The race itself was pretty good, the course ran along the river, and if you were racing the 10 mile, out onto Belle Isle. The post race party had pizza and snacks for runners and registration included 2 free beer tickets. And, of course, winning a growler was pretty sweet! I think we will have to see what the rest of our schedule looks like before making a decision.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Marathon Week 13

Week 13
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 5.12
Wednesday: 5.26
Thursday: 5.6
Friday: rest
Saturday: 10.3
Sunday: 3.1

Total miles: 29.38

I can't say I am too pleased with how week 13 of training turned out. Wednesday's run was supposed to be 8 miles, not 5. It rained pretty hard on Wednesday which is usually the day that I run some trails with a local running club. I knew with the rain that the trails we usually run were going to be a muddy mess. So I did the "smart" thing and wore my trail shoes. My trail shoes have been feeling a bit too small so I usually just wear my road shoes (Why are my feet growing? Seriously, stop it feet!).

When I got to run club, we decided to run a different route that would keep us on paved trails and out of the mud. I wasn't thrilled about being stuck wearing slightly too small shoes for my 8 mile run. And once we started running, I realized that I had forgotten my inhaler. I kept the pace nice and easy for the five miles that the group ran. I could feel blisters forming so I just left it at that. Not a great run, but I wasn't worried about missing 3 miles this week.

And then Saturday's run happened, which brought my missed miles this week up to 9. So aggravating! I thought about adding some extra miles Sunday morning or Monday night, but in the end decided to just let my body enjoy the cutback. I'm also thinking of it as a bit of a taper for my upcoming half marathon.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mr. Shoe Update

I know I still need to recap Marathon Week 13 and write up a recap of Growler Gallup, but today is really not about me and my running. Today is Mr. Shoe's birthday! So let's talk about his running instead!

Even though it took me ages to convince Mr. Shoe to start running, he seems to be catching up with me pretty quickly. It is actually kind of frustrating. When he ran his first 5k he finished in 28:19. I finished FIVE minutes faster than him. Within just one year, he has managed to close that gap to just one minute.

10 miles done!
He kicked off his birthday week (I'm a firm believer that birthdays deserve a full week of celebrating) by running his first 10 mile race. This was his longest race yet and an automatic PR (1:28:17). He'll be finishing up his birthday week with his first half marathon (and another PR). Pretty much a perfect week in my mind.

His training has been going really well. He has been following a slightly modified version of Hal Higdon's Novice 2 plan. He extended the plan slightly to allow him to run the full 13.1 miles in training and to fit in the Growler Gallup 10 miler. He struggled a bit with his 12 mile training run, but made it through the full 13.1 miles the following week. I'm really excited to see how his race turns out on Sunday!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Dealing with doubt

It seems like every other week I flip between feeling ready for the marathon and feeling like I won't make it to the finish line. After finishing my 20 mile training run last week feeling so strong and confident, I was so sure that I had a great race coming my way. After today's failed long run, I am full of doubt.

This morning I set out to do a 16 mile run. I thought that this run was going to feel so easy. Usually I do my long runs the day after a medium length run, to practice running on tired legs. This week, to accommodate a race on Sunday, I planned to do my long run on Saturday, the day after a rest day. Plus I only had to go 16 miles instead of 20. So easy, I thought.

I knew about a mile into the run that it was NOT going to be easy. Three miles in, I was ready to quit. Every other step I thought about just turning around and heading home. At about five miles I decided that I had it in me to finish the run, but I might need to slow down a bit. I was not running very fast at all, just my normal long run pace. I told myself that this was a chance to work on my mental toughness, to prove I had what it will take to make it 26.2 miles.

I pushed myself all the way to 9 miles which is when my IT band lit up with pain. I was over a mile from my car. I managed to keep running in spite of the pain, but each step was agony. When I got to my car, I decided to just call it quits after only 10.3 miles.

I'm pretty disappointed. Does this mean I don't have what it takes to finish a marathon? I think stopping when I did was probably a wise decision. Had I kept going, I could have ended up in injury territory with my IT band. With three races in the next five weeks I need to stay healthy. Even though I feel like I made the right decision, I am now filled with doubt for my upcoming races.

Tomorrow I'll have the chance to regain a bit of confidence. I am running the Growler Gallop 5k and Mr. Shoe is running the 10 mile. I've been reminding myself of my week 4 training. I only managed 4 miles of my 10 mile long run and the next day was a race. Even though my long run absolutely sucked, I ended up pulling together a much better race than anticipated. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that tomorrow plays out in a similar manner.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Marathon Weeks 11 and 12

I am having a hard time believing that August is over and only 6 weeks of marathon training remain. How has time gone so quickly?!
These legs just ran over 18 miles!
Week 11
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 5.12
Wednesday: 8.01
Thursday: 3.12
Friday: rest
Saturday: 7.1
Sunday: 18.42

Total miles: 41.77

Thursday's run was supposed to be 5 miles (not 3), but my legs just were not up for it. I ran too fast on Wednesday, so this was completely my fault. With just that one exception this was a great week of training! I even made it through my first 18 mile run. About 15 miles into the run, I might have said (out loud, talking to myself), but I somehow managed to hold it together for the last few miles.

Week 12
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 5.0
Wednesday: 8.01
Thursday: 5.15
Friday: rest
Saturday: 7.1
Sunday: 20.42

Total miles: 45.68

I made plans to run with a friend on Thursday to make sure I didn't cut it short this time around. We got caught 2 miles from our cars in a downpour, but we still made the full distance. The storms continued through Friday night and created a few obstacles for my Saturday run.

Sunday's run was actually one of the best runs of the week. I was up early to take advantage of the cool temperatures and the view of the sunrise while running did not disappoint. I was a bit nervous for this run (based on how my 18 miler had gone), but I didn't struggle at all with this run. I did the first 18 miles at my long run pace and picked up the pace by a full minute for the final two miles.

Sunrise with fog coming of the river, so lovely and serene.
I was a bit sore through out the day, but nothing too terrible. That all changed at about 7 PM when a rather intense level of pain in my legs set in. I spent the rest of the night with my feet up. I am feeling pretty decent today, though I am glad it is a rest day. I must say, this whole marathon thing feels pretty real now that I've crossed my first 20 mile training run off the list!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Sunday No Fun Day

Two weeks ago I had a pretty terrible Sunday.

On Saturday, what should have been a pretty easy 5 mile run turned into a hot, sweaty mess of a run. I was so sweaty that Mr. Shoe had though I had dumped water all over myself. So I was determined to start Sunday's run nice and early to avoid the heat. I should also mention that this terrifying/awful news story was fresh on my mind [a Michigan man was killed by dogs while he was running].

Sunday morning I hauled myself out of bed at dawn and got ready for my run. My plan was pretty simple: drop Mr. Shoe off 6 miles from our ending point, drop some water bottles off on the route, park the car and run a 12 mile out-and-back. When I was dropping off the water, a car going the opposite direction pulled off onto the shoulder as well. I assumed he thought I might be having car trouble. But I hopped back in the car and drove off before he was out of their car.

Then in my rear-view mirror, I watched him do a u-turn and start following me. I had a twinge of panic, but thought maybe he had pulled over to check a map and realized he was lost. Or something. I tried not to worry about it as I continued to the starting location of my route. He followed me all the way through town.

The starting location for my run was a relatives house. So I pulled in the driveway and the other car continued down the road. I told myself this was probably just a weird coincidence, but I spent a lot of time stretching before heading back to the road for my run. Just in case.

I walked down to the end of the driveway to start my run and while I was doing a final stretch I watched THAT SAME CAR pull out of a driveway a few houses down and start heading towards me. I immediately went back to my car and locked the doors. That was too much to be considered a coincidence. I was so freaked out. I didn't know what to do; everyone inside was still sleeping. I ended up talking on the phone with my sister until I was calmed down.

So yeah. That was the end of my plan to run early in the morning. I was hoping to run later at night after the temps started to drop and on a different route. Those plans fell through and I ended up running right in the heat of the day.

The first 7 miles or so actually weren't too bad. I was doing a run 10, walk 1 minute plan so I could drink lots of water during the run. The last 5 miles were awful. I was hot, tired, and emotional. I was angry that I didn't get to run in the morning, I was angry at Mr. Shoe for leaving for a 5 hour motorcycle ride, I was angry at how hard this run felt. The last few miles were a lovely mix of angry crying and very slow running.

Then, a mere, 2 tenths of a mile from where Mr. Shoe was planning to pick me up, two very large, barking dogs shot across their yard toward me. I basically froze in panic. About the time I stopped running, they stopped running. From what I could tell, they were just loose in the yard (no fence). I was afraid to keep running, because I didn't want them to start chasing me. Finally I started calling for help as loud as I could. I just didn't know what to do. A neighbor came to my rescue and tried to explain (over all the barking) that they had an invisible fence and were nice dogs.

I'm sure they were nice dogs, but between the heat, the car following me, and my complete exhaustion I just couldn't handle the fear of being killed by dogs too. I tried to explain this to the neighbor, but I suspect she thought I was all sorts of crazy. I am so grateful that I had told Mr. Shoe when to expect me, because he drove up about a minute later. I was 15 minutes late getting to our meeting spot so he had come to look for me.

And that is the story of my worst long run ever.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Marathon Week 10

Last week was a cut back week and for that I am so grateful! I have been feeling really fatigued lately and just sort of "off." I'm not sure that anything is actually wrong, but even though I am getting plenty of sleep at night (8 hours almost every night), I still feel like I need a nap after work everyday. Hopefully this week feels better.

Week 10
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 5.12
Wednesday: 6.3
Thursday: 5.02
Friday: rest
Saturday: 6.3
Sunday: 11.58

Total miles: 34.32

In spite of my fatigue, most of my runs seemed to go very well. I don't recall having any IT Band problems. I even made an effort to log a few sub-8 miles this week. I realized I haven't done much fast running since my injury. Sure, I have done fast finishes and a few strides, but that is fast in relation to my predicted marathon pace, not my half marathon or 5k race paces. With three weeks until my next 5k and four weeks until my half marathon, I might want to start thinking about running at those paces.

The one run that did not go as planned was my long run on Sunday, but that is a whole different post.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Tale of Laziness

I spent most of last night trying to come up with a solid excuse for skipping my run. I was in a bit of a mood and really just wanted to have some snacks, watch some tv and sleep forever. So from the minute I got home from work, I started looking for excuses.

This is a cutback week, so I thought maybe I could just cut an entire run. Except the last time I skipped some runs, I felt pretty guilty about it. I didn't want to feel guilty. I needed an excuse that wasn't just "I'm too lazy." 

So I started working on my next excuse: the weather. The current temperature was 87. I could have run in that heat, but it was hot enough that I could use it as an excuse to delay my run by a few hours. Plus the radar showed a huge storm front moving in. Perfect! Delay starting my run due to the heat and then cancel my run due to the thunderstorms.

A few minutes later I was curling up in bed for a nice long nap. I was able to sleep for about an hour and it was glorious. I really was feeling a bit worn down and some extra sleep was definitely called for. After my nap, Mr. Shoe ran to the grocery store and I watched a little bit of tv. While he was gone the sky opened up: pouring rain, wind, thunder, and lightning. My plan was working! 

Unfortunately the storm didn't last all that long and as soon as it cleared up Mr. Shoe suggested we go for our runs. Before my brain could try to come up with an excuse, I hauled myself off the couch and out the door. It only took about half a mile before I realized how glad I was to be out running. I love running! It always snaps me out of a bad mood.

This little kitty will also improve a bad mood. Just focus on the cute kitty and not on my messy, sweaty, post-run self.
I made it through four miles before my legs remembered they were still tired from Sunday's run. My training plan called for five miles so I forced myself to carry on. The last mile felt pretty slow, but I am so glad that I was able to stick to my training plan!

Even though I got an hour nap yesterday and about 7.5 hours last night, I am still pretty tired today. I think they increased mileage is really starting to catch up with me. Hopefully I'll be able to grab another nap this afternoon before heading to run club tonight.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Marathon Weeks 8 and 9

I'm halfway done with my marathon training! Which is equal parts exciting and terrifying. I haven't quite figured out if I am feeling well prepared and on track or completely under trained. I guess I'll find out in another 9 weeks.

Week 8
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 4.32
Wednesday: 8.01
Thursday: 3.52
Friday: rest
Saturday: 5.12
Sunday: 15.08

Total miles: 36.05

Even with four days in a row off (Chicago trip!), my left IT band was a bit problematic this week. On the plus side, it seemed to hurt less with each run. So while I think last week's attempt to run all the miles in the fewest days possible aggravated it, I don't think running in general is making it worse. I've been foam rolling and stretching every day to try to stay on top of it. Even during my long run it only bothered me for about half a mile.

My week went almost exactly as planned, such a relief after the week 7 mess. Only major issue was that Saturday's run was meant to be 6 miles. For some reason I was positive it was 5 miles. I didn't check my training plan until after my run, whoops! I ran this run at my predicted marathon pace to throw a tiny bit of speed work into my plan.

Sunday was my longest run ever! And it went really, really well! I choose a fairly flat out-and-back course and aimed to hold a steady pace of 9:30 for the run. The first seven miles were at the right pace, but I think I lost a bit of time during the next few miles. Fortunately I felt great during the last 3 miles and made up the lost time.

Week 9
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 4.32
Wednesday: 8.01
Thursday: 4.32
Friday: rest
Saturday: 6.2
Sunday: 17.1

Total miles: 39.95

Another week where everything went as planned and I had another "longest run ever" on Sunday. My IT Band only bothered me on one or two runs. I only wish I would have run an additional 0.05 miles to bring my weekly total to 40.  I might have tried to sneak it in tonight, but my legs are completely shot from the 17 miler.

I once again used Saturday's run to sneak in a bit of speed work. This time I ran at an easy pace and added four strides to the end of my run. Sunday's run also had a bit of speed work at the end, except not really. I tried to run the first 15 miles at a steady pace and then do a fast finish for the last two miles. I was much too tired to push as hard as I had hoped, but I did manage to do them marginally faster.

I also spent the last five miles fantasizing about a Mountain Dew slushie. It was the most delicious reward for making it through all 17 miles.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Marathon Week 7

This post is coming a bit late. I didn't have an awesome week (in terms of running) and I have been trying not to focus on how bad it was.

Monday: 3.84
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 7.95
Thursday: 12.63
Friday: rest
Saturday: rest
Sunday: rest

Total miles: 24.42

Four rest days and almost 7 miles fewer than the previous week. So what happened?

At Cloud Gate (the bean)
A weekend in Chicago happened! To maximize the vacation vibe of the trip Mr. Shoe and I decided to try to get all of our running in before we left Saturday morning. My original plan was to run Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday morning before we left. This plan was a bit ambitious considering I had run Friday-Sunday the previous week.

So I set out to run 5 miles on Monday. About 3 miles in, I knew I wouldn't make it to 5. I was just too tired from Sunday's 13 miler. The dead leg feeling persisted on Tuesday so I decided to make that a rest day. The almost-eight on Wednesday felt so good, that I decided to push my long run up to Thursday (just 4 days after my previous long run). Looking back, that was definitely a mistake. My pace was awful (full minute slower than my usual training pace) and I didn't finish my 14 mile run. With my slower pace, this actually ended up being my longest run, time-wise (but not distance-wise). By the end my IT band was screaming at me to stop running.

That left me wondering what I should do on Friday and Saturday. With my IT band messing with my knee, Friday had to be a rest day. I was so convinced that I should try to squeeze in a quick 3-5 miles before our trip that I set my alarm extra early for Saturday. Instead I woke up in the middle of the night and decided to just shut of the alarm and give my body a break.

This week was definitely a mistake. Looking back, I can see much better ways to rearrange my runs and still get the weekend off. But it is over and done, so I am trying not to dwell on the negative. The positive is that I gave myself a 4 day break (this Monday was a rest day too) and my legs feel ready to tackle the next week of training!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Marathon Week 6

I am pretty sure that this is my highest mileage week to date. It is kind of exciting to be breaking new mileage records again! I remember training for my first half marathon and getting to the point where each long run became my longest run ever.

Monday: rest
Tuesday: 4.0
Wednesday: 6.3
Thursday: rest
Friday: 4.0
Saturday: 4.0
Sunday: 13.06

Total miles: 31.36 miles

I tried to run Tuesday's run at my tempo run pace (about 8:00), but the heat (mid-80s) really slowed me down. My average pace was 8:19. I tried to push the pace a bit on Wednesday as well, but fell off a bit in the second half of the run. Friday's run was at recovery pace.

Saturday I aimed for my predicted marathon pace of 8:45 (based on my most recent half time). Since this is my first marathon I don't think I'll be able to actually hold this pace for the race, but I don't think using it for training purposes is going to cause any problems.

Against all odds, my long run on Sunday was amazing. I didn't make it to bed until 1:30 AM on Sunday morning. I am normally in bed by 10 so this was extremely past my bed time! After sleeping in and waiting out a major thunderstorm I didn't get started on my run until 2:00. Fortunately it was not too hot or humid! I knew about a half mile into the run that it was going to be a great run; I just felt amazing. I held a steady pace of 9:30 for the first 11 miles and then kicked it up to 8:15 for the final 2 miles.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Dart for Art Race Recap

On July 14th I ran The Ann Arbor Mile - Dart for Art and learned that racing a single mile can be just as challenging as a longer race. I am not joking at all. A one mile run where I am not worried about time? Easy! A one mile race where I running faster and harder than I thought possible? Completely different story.

About a week before the race I did a one mile test run. I spent half a mile warming up and then ran as hard as I could for one mile. I finished in 7:17. I knew that this wasn't the fastest I could run (my 5k PR pace is faster) but with the humidity and heat it seemed to be my best effort. I was hoping that the race day excitement and presence of competitors could some how push me to a sub 7:00 mile, but figured that was a long shot.

The race was the Monday following my failed long run, this did not do much to boost my confidence. I knew I would be running on tired legs, but with my marathon being my primary objective, taking an extra rest day was not an option. The races started at 6:00 PM, but my race would not be starting until 6:20; the elite runners would be going first.

So many goodies for such a short race (shirt, bib, finisher's medal, Hammer Gel, lip balm, and a sticker).
Watching the elite runners was amazing. I can not imagine being that fast. The top male, Nathan Brannen, finished in 3:54, while Sarah Boyle claimed the top women's spot with 4:42. After watching both elite heats it was time to get in line for my own race. I lined up near the 7:00 pace sign and took a bit of comfort from the fact that this was the fastest pace sign.

When the race started I took off as fast as I could imagine and told myself to just hold that pace no matter what. I left my watch and ipod at home so I could focus solely on running. I wanted to quit after about a quarter mile, getting passed by a couple of guys pushed me to keep running. There was an elapsed time sign at the half mile mark. I glanced at it once to see if I was on pace. I saw 3:03 and knew I was ahead of pace.

The last half mile completely sucked. My legs wanted to quit; my lungs were on fire. Another guy shot past me and I forced myself to dig deeper. I almost tripped coming around the last corner, but somehow managed to stay upright. And then it was over. A volunteer was handing me my finisher's medal (a cool ceramic medal made by a local running store) and offering to find me some water. Thank you, kind volunteer for taking such good care of me! My official chip time was 6:16.7. So much faster than I imagined was possible!

Art tiles based on artwork by Charley Harper were the age group awards. They feature a hare to represent our swiftness.
I even managed to turn around in time to watch my coworker finish a mere 30 seconds behind me. Then it was off to find the post race snacks and libations (doughnut holes and beer from a local brewery). I made sure to check the race results before we left, in case I had an award to claim. Unfortunately I ended up finishing in 5th place and age group awards were only 3 deep.

That night I looked at the results online and it showed me in third place in my age group. What?! It turns out that when they posted the results at the race only the top finisher had been pulled out of the results. The race actually had special awards for the top three finishers. Second and third place ended up getting pulled from the 20-29 age group which bumped me up to 3rd. Which is awesome, but I feel like I kind of cheated my way into an age group award. Fortunately I was able to contact the race coordinators and arrange to pick up my award.

I will definitely be doing this race again next year. Since it is such a short race, I don't think that I will follow a specific training plan just for this race. However, the pace I held for this race indicates that I should be capable of a much faster 5k. I need to get to work on that! I think some 5k specific speed work next year could help lead to a new mile PR. Maybe even a sub 6:00!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Marathon Week 5

Nine weeks to the half marathon, thirteen weeks to the marathon. 

Monday: 1.0*
Tuesday: 3.04
Wednesday: 6.3
Thursday: 3.04
Friday: rest
Saturday: 4.0
Sunday: 10.89

Total miles: 28.27 miles

*The one mile run on Monday was the Dart for Art race. Race Report coming soon, promise!

With a race scheduled on Monday I accidentally ended up with a 6 day stretch of solid running (Saturday-Thursday). My legs were definitely feeling a bit fatigued by the end of the stretch. I was so glad that Friday was a rest day. I've tried a running streak before and it was just not for me. I like my rest days!

Due to a slight math mix up, today's long run ended up being closer to 11 miles instead of the 10 that I was aiming for. This long run came together much better than last week's. There were definitely times during the run that my legs were tired (thanks, hills!) but I never felt like I was pushing too hard or that I wouldn't be able to finish.

Mr. Shoe also did his long run this morning and, at 8 miles, it was his longest run ever. We didn't actually end up running together; once we got to the park we went our separate ways. I took some off road trails and he stuck to the paved paths.While I enjoy running together, this worked out well since we were both able to set a pace that worked for us. When we run together we have tendency to really push the pace, which is less than ideal for long slow runs!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Marathon Week 4

Monday: 2.56
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 5.0
Thursday: 3.22
Friday: rest
Saturday: 5.3
Sunday: 4.0 and 2.24

Total miles: 22.32 miles

So you're probably looking at this and wondering what happened to my long run this week. I was scheduled to do a 10 mile run on Sunday, but my legs just would not cooperate. My Sunday run started with a night of tossing and turning instead of sleeping. The park I planned to run at was hosting a race Sunday morning, which I didn't know about until I got there. So I ended up driving all over the place just to end up back at the park closest to home. It also went from not raining to pouring while I wasted time driving around town.

During the run my legs felt heavy and tired. This quickly progressed to feeling like every step hurt more than the last. After 4 miles I decided to call it quits. My body was clearly telling me that I needed a break. I spent a fair amount of time icing sore muscles and then took a glorious 3 hour nap. Sunday night I was feeling much better so I decided to try a double. I kept the pace light and easy and everything felt much better. I'm frustrated that I missed a long run, but I know it is important to listen to my body. I have been upping my mileage pretty aggressively and I didn't want to push myself to another injury. I'll try for 10 again next weekend.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Marathon Week 3

Three weeks completed, only 15 weeks to go! I kind of went way off schedule this week. I was planning on running 4 miles on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, followed by 8 on Sunday. Of those runs, I only actually followed through with the Sunday 8. I still logged the 20 miles I was aiming for, but I definitely don't want to get in the habit of deviating from my plan every week! I think I need to revise my plan for the next few weeks. I seem to be coming back from my injury better than anticipated.

Monday: rest
Tuesday: 3.22 miles
Wednesday: 6.3 miles
Thursday: rest
Friday: 3.4 miles
Saturday: rest
Sunday: 8 miles

Total miles: 20.92 miles