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.