Sunday, February 26, 2017

Marathon Training: Week 7

Week 7 looks a lot like Week 6 with a few more miles tacked on. The week proceeded on schedule and smoothly enough. Here's the run-down. 

Six easy near home in shorts. Shorts! In CLE! In February!

I ran on tired, heavy legs. I reminded myself that Mondays are the reset button in training. Mondays I shake things out. Mondays I run easy and tell my legs to gear up because we're doing this again. Today I took comfort in knowing the rhythm of the training cycle.

Seven miles of hills. My mid-week running buddy caught the cruddies, so I was left to my own devices. I decided, finally, to try Cedar Hill, the sole you-won't-blink-and-miss-it hill near me.

My alarm went off. I closed my eyes for what should have been five minutes. It was 20. I dragged myself out of bed, reminding myself how disappointed I'd be if I swapped tomorrow's rest day for this, and it rained tomorrow. Or if I had to do 7 miles on a treadmill. So I dragged myself out of bed and left.

This one's going to take doing a few times to figure out the best place to park and the best way to run it so I can get all the way to the bottom twice. I ran all the way to the bottom and back up once, then did what I thought was about half of it a second time, but it turned out to be less than half the elevation change. I ended up with 315 feet in elevation gain.

Lessons learned:
  • Run this one as early as I feel comfortable going. Even the edge of rush hour traffic is unpleasant on this route. 
  • This 315 elevation gain is easily harder than the 500+ feet I was doing on the treadmill a few weeks back. Watching footing, not running in a perfectly straight line. Concentrating most of the gain in a relatively short stretch of the course. 
  • Take my phone, or preferably Shannon, next time so when (not if) I feel uncertain where to turn, I have a reference.
Rest day. Took clothes to do office yoga. The day got away from me. Will try again next week.

Five mile pace run. I'm having a difficult time settling into race pace. I either run way too fast or struggle to get fast enough. On this one, I was also encountering some combination of allergies (because it was so warm, I think) and a cold, along with everyone else in the CLE. I'll get there on pace. I'll find the right gear.

Five miles easy. Seventy degrees. Crazy. Beautiful.

Saturday: aka, the run of things I didn't know existed

Friday night we had friends over for dinner and a game night. As we sat playing and drinking and carrying on, we caught flashes of lightening and claps of thunder. It rained, and rained, and rained. I grew concerned about running on the Towpath in the morning, as Shannon and I had planned, due to mud. Sometime after midnight I texted her that maybe we should switch to running closer to me, where we could run neighborhood streets and a paved path nearby.

Thing I'd never heard of #1: She suggested the Bike and Hike Path. It was just exactly what we needed. It runs near the Towpath but is entirely paved. No mud. Allegedly has bathrooms. Also shout out to First Energy here.

We met about 8:30, as late as we dared given the forecast and the fact that my younger son had a birthday party to be at later. We headed south.

Thing I didn't know existed #2: Brandywine Falls. Sadly I'm blocking a lot of the falls in this picture, but it is beautiful. This is not even the first time Shannon's taken me to a waterfall I didn't know about.

We kept moving, which for Shannon required superhuman strength because she was pushing her two girls in a double stroller, which rings in about about 115lb. Our run was mostly flat but had some short, steep hills. Since she would inevitably catch me on the downhill, I went ahead on the uphill stretches here and there. I didn't know she snapped this pic until much later. What a beautiful morning we had.

She turned in an impressive 8 miles then sat in her car hating me for about 20 minutes while I carried on. The miles that followed were largely like the first 8, just a little more tired. At run's end, I'd done 18 miles, 580 feet elevation gain, and a 9:30 pace.

I kid you not, the second I set foot in the parking lot at the end of the run, a snowflake landed on my arm. I went home and showered and left for the birthday party with sleet-esque snow dancing on my windshield and wind whipping. So glad I got this run done when I did. And yes, it was 70 degrees on Friday and snowing on Saturday. CLE!

This brought me to Thing I didn't know existed #3: The Jump Yard. It's one of those sensory-overload places for kids. I happily checked in my son and walked myself next door to a little restaurant and ate a BLT. And all those fries. And two more cups of coffee. And smiled the entire time.

Post-run lunch
Total miles: 42
Favorite run: Easily the long run for conversation and new scenery. Happy to have figured out something of a hill route earlier in the week, too.
Other: I'm hoping this cold/allergies will go away. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Marathon Training: Week 6

How am I one-third of the way through this already?! It has gone by so quickly. This week, Week 6, brought some one-liners, some hard miles, and some great running buddies.

I can tell you what my Garmin data can tell you about this run. This is terrible, and unusual, but I don't remember it at all! Five miles easy. I remember that I cleaned the kitchen when I got home. Does that count?

To get hillier hills, Shannon and I ran near her house, which is ~7 miles east of me in a much less densely developed community. There aren't streetlights out there--just her headlamp, which means we had a dark, star-filled sky at first.

Somewhere in the first mile-ish, she was about 20 paces ahead of me flying down a hill in the middle of nowhere and I'm yelling, "you run downhill like an asshole" into the pitch black night. You know, you just don't really expect your Valentine's Day to start like that. Or, maybe you do and you're not sure if you're proud of it or not. Anyway, she ran down this grade like my 8-year-old skis: like they're unaware of the potential implications of gravity.

By the end of our 6 miles, the sun was on the horizon, streaked in beautiful color. As a hill workout it was a success: 300 feet elevation gain. I've since told her that next time I'd opt to turn around at the halfway point and run it all the other direction to almost double that elevation gain. She said she'd ride her bike if I want to do that. At least she wouldn't be leaving me alone with the neighbor's not-at-all weird bear statue. Which wouldn't at all make you jump if you didn't have a headlamp and couldn't see it properly. AT ALL. 
Happy Valentine's Day, Shannon.

Office yoga! I've been slacking on cross-training. As in, I've done zero cross training. I know guys. I know all the things you want to say about this. I'm aware. But it's not on my schedule and I haven't pushed myself to add MORE to my schedule.
Not the greatest picture, but you get the idea
Office yoga was great. I used, found a 30 minute intermediate class, unrolled my mat and got to it. I plan to do this weekly from here on out.

I went to bed early and slept late. Got this pace run done at the gym at work instead. My penance: treadmills are so f-ing boring.

I woke up feeling like I'd been hit by a bus. I helped with the kids, then went back to bed until 10:30, which never, never happens. I finally laced up around noon and headed out for an easy 6. I took a guess on the distance of one loop near here and it worked out just about perfectly. We've all been dragging a bit--maybe fighting something? Not sure. Glad I got it done before it was late afternoon, knowing the distance I was facing the next day.

Laurie and I met at yet another new (to me) trail head on the Towpath Trail, this time farther north. We were both feeling intimidated going into the run. 18 miles. And like so many other Saturdays, I would not have gotten out of bed when my alarm went off had it not been for friends.

We ran 9 miles south and turned around. These miles weren't fast, but they were relatively consistent. We were both stiff in places and knew it would be a grind to get it done. The turnaround came somewhat as a relief, since it meant we would have to finish. There was no other way to get home but to finish all 18 miles.

The second half was rough. We ended up walking parts of a few miles. To distract Laurie for a while I started telling her stories about my ancestors. That got weird fast. My favorite line came in our discussion about diets though. Laurie: "one good thing about Whole 30 is no alcohol." Me: "That's a good thing?!?"
At the finish. 50+ degrees and sunny! In CLE! In February!
I do get where's she's coming from, about carbs. We're both starting to struggle with the increased calorie intake that necessarily comes with marathon training, and balancing our desire to eat whole, real foods. I am so thankful for friends that will help me stay accountable and healthy. It's one amazing, distinguishing characteristic of the women I've met here.

Weekly total: 39 miles
Favorite run: The hill workout. Funny. An actual hill. Beautiful sunrise.
Next week is essentially more of the same, adding a few more miles.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Marathon Training: Week 5

An easy 4 on a crisp, clear morning. Soft color--pinks and blues and oranges--on the horizon. A thrill to the heart of all runners: We'll have morning sunlight soon.

Tuesday: A Haiku
Slept badly, in fits
Woke up to run, to strong rain 

Slept more, felt human

Because I live in Ohio, and because 7 miles is past my patience for running on a treadmill, it took a little work to find "the hilliest route you can find," as instructed by ye olde training plan. 

Being the proud data geek I am, I decided not to guess about this. Did you know you can view your area's topo map, complete with street lines and names, for free online? Go here, click Custom Views, Maps, then type in your town (and zoom in if necessary) until you can see street names. Pretty cool, huh? I used this to identify the hilliest possible route I could safely run in the dark by myself.

Data doesn't lie. Look at that! I ran from my house to the "hilly area" and ran three laps of it, not quite finishing the third, but turning back toward home instead. 

While producing one of the prettiest hill elevation graphs, each of those "hills" is only about 20 feet in elevation gain, so on the whole it's not a lot. On the other hand, it was the longest mid-week run so far this training cycle, and I did it significantly faster than I did my treadmill hill workouts. I'm really pleased with this one.

I met Shannon and her dog at 6am for 4 miles with 2 at race pace (8:52). Krowa's a sweet dog with a hair trigger on his bladder. Against the laws of physiology, this dog can fully unload its bladder every quarter of a mile. And since we were running neighborhood streets in a neighborhood I'm still not super familiar with, Shannon just yelled "keep running straight and we'll catch you" a few times. A few other times--four, actually--which you can plainly see on this pace read out, I stopped too. I don't know how our runs are so universally ridiculous, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

We met and exceeded our race pace goal, turning in an 8:41 and 8:45 for the middle miles.

I crawled back into bed for a bit when I got home, and that was a terrible idea. I had enough sweat on me that I just simply froze, and no amount of covers could warm me up. It was the first time the cold has bothered me this winter. Lesson learned: just move on with the day.

Just four easy miles, but 20 degrees and felt like 8. Tall girl tip: if your tights don't cover your ankles, wear ski socks. Bonus, they not only cover your ankles, but they keep your feet and lower legs warm too.

Long run: 16 miles. Laurie and I met at 7:30 at the Towpath again, but at a different trail head than before. For the vast majority of our miles, the path was covered in a thin layer of snow and occasionally some ice. For some miles the snow/ice slowed us down to where 9:45 minute miles were the best reasonable target. And, that was just fine. We saw some deer, several historic mills and other sites, plenty of other runners. Laurie was doing 18, so she missed the photo opp at the end.

These 16 miles felt incredibly easy. I only felt a little tired for about a mile, and even that was no big deal.

Sunday: rest

Total weekly miles: 35
Favorite run: It's always hard to pick. My Monday run was good for my soul. My runs with Shannon somehow usually become comical, which I love. But the long run is hard to beat, so I'll say that. New places, good conversation, felt good.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Marathon Training: Week 4

I'm a little late posting it, but here's the run-down from Week 4.

Short version:
It snowed. A lot.
Longer version: I tried. I laced up. The roads had been plowed but not salted and didn't look too bad. I hit go on the Garmin. I tried. And for 0.11 miles I slipped and slid and probably cussed just a little. So I turned around and walked all 8 houses back to my front door and called it a day. I had a snowball fight and built a snowman and made snow angels and drank hot chocolate with my kids. My heart was full. My Garmin, not so much.

Gym day for hill repeats. In the few weeks I've been doing these I've gotten on to using my employer's indoor walkway system that connects buildings. Several northern cities have these--Minneapolis' might be the best known. It's a whole world that avoids winter weather. There are coffee stands and even full restaurants set up in the corridors. And you can just peek outside at the winter while "crossing" streets.

I repeated the same workout I'd done the past two weeks, but increased the incline on most of my "rest" intervals. I got to 607 feet in vertical gain over 5 miles. Like last week, it felt easier than the week before. I can feel myself get stronger week to week on this one. Love that.

My schedule called for a one mile time trial. I did one a few years ago and have been looking forward to doing it again. But....the snow. My indoor track option is 10.5 laps to a mile, which certainly isn't optimal. I went and checked the roads Tuesday night and decided they looked reasonable, but we weren't sure what would happen overnight. So, Shannon and I met at 6am at a nearby school and decided we'd try the roads and hope for the best.

We did one mile of warm-up in which we learned the roads were not in fact clear. They looked clear! They looked fine. They had a thin layer of ice, not everywhere, and not visible. We ran cautiously.

We ran fast where we could for the "time trial" and turned in a 7:30 mile. That certainly is not the fastest mile either of us can turn in, but for the conditions we had, I think it was the best we could ask for.

One mile cool down, and headed home for a hot shower and breakfast. Bonus: since the schedule called only for the time trial, I made up 2 of the 4 miles I missed on Monday.

Thursday is my super long day at work, so I decided to sleep in a bit and hit the gym at work late afternoon. In case you forgot: four easy miles on a treadmill is super boring. Also, I accidentally dressed like a blueberry.
It was like running in a snow globe about 15 seconds after you shake it--snow gently, lightly swirling and falling past me. Beautiful.

My cut-back week long run was 10 miles. I met two of my MRTT ladies at the Towpath. Like we do, our conversation ventured into economic policy, this time around the Cold War. But we talked about all kinds of personal things too. I know them better for today. I love them better for today.

My friends head off for the rest of their miles--no cut-back week for them this week.

Weekly miles: 26 of a planned 28

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Marathon Training: Week 3

An Ode to Runger

Oh running, how I love thee
But you make me oh so hungry
I go through my day
Hearing myself say
What else is there here to eat?

I'd like not to gain weight
But, all those things I ate
Since I run every day,
Will the fat stay at bay?
Or will I race with 10 pounds more?

3 miles easy. Nothing too exciting.

I repeated the hill workout from the previous week, again at the gym at work. It told me I did 573 feet of elevation gain this time, so pretty close to before. The workout felt considerably easier this week, and I can already tell it's helping me get stronger. Really pleased about the hills. 


A hair over five miles, most of it in the rain. That kind of rain you might not intentionally have gone out in, but can live with finishing your workout in. 

Typically if I miss the weather-appropriate dress code, I over-dress. Today I over-corrected. It was about 27 with a Feels Like temp of about 19. I wore non-thermal tights and a slightly thicker than typical long sleeve top. Not one with a mock-turtle neck or thumb holes, just a long-sleeve top. Incidentally, Runners World has a form you can fill out about temperature, gender, run type, and other things, and it will tell you what to wear. Lesson learned! It was a beautiful run--snow gently falling.

Long run: 14 miles. When my alarm went off I got up because I knew my friends were expecting me. Otherwise, there is little chance I would have gotten up any time soon. This past week was, well, upsetting (to put it mildly) watching my beloved country unravel, and I hadn't slept well. But the schedule said run, friends would be waiting, so you run.

I pulled in a minute or two ahead of schedule and Laurie and I got right to the 2 miles our third friend, who would join us 20 minutes later, didn't have on her schedule. We ran through a park that's an old golf course. The trail was covered in patchy, light snow. Until, with no obvious warning, the light snow covered a partially frozen puddle. We both slid and flailed and tried to catch each other, and tried to get off the ice as quickly as possible. Luckily neither of us fell but we did both get a little water in our shoes (tech socks FTW!). First two miles: done.

At 7:30 Candice pulled in and had graciously planned the other 12 miles we would all share. Off we went. When we headed into Euclid Creek Reservation I knew we were in for a big downhill followed by a big uphill. What I didn't realize until much later was that the entire second half of our run would be uphill. We ended up doing ~550 feet of total elevation gain over the run. I *did* say I love hills.

Toward the end the wind picked up and the snow was whipping around. For at least the last mile we settled into quiet, and into our own paces, running in a spread out line back toward our cars. We only had one wipe out on ice and no one got hurt. By the end we were all happy to have it finished.

I stopped by the bank on the way home and walked to the Starbucks in the next lot over. All I could think was how cold I was, and if I were just then ready to start the run, I might look outside and reschedule for the next day. I'm so thankful for these ladies getting me to the start line and through these miles today. We're all training for the same event. I can't wait to share it with them.

Total weekly miles: 32
Favorite run: With no clear winner on the merit of endorphins or weather, I'll say the long run for the conversation. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Marathon Training: Week 2

Monday (MLK, and the day off work) morning I woke up in a pool of sweat. I felt nauseous. I puttered around the house, decided to eat breakfast to see if it would help. It sort of did, so I headed out to run about 10:30. I kept flashing sick hot then cold through the run--not awful, but probably feeling about 70%. Bleh. 4 miles.

I finally did it: I joined the gym at work. And the workout that put me over that line: 5 miles of hills and 24 hours of rain, some of which was cold and involved sleet.

About 4pm I closed the blinds and changed in my office, then walked across campus to the gym and got myself signed up. I found a line of treadmills.

I can't believe I'm typing this. Treadmills.

Anyway, I proceeded to do 0.25 mile increments of the following inclines:
Mile 1: 0.5%, 3%, 3%, 1%
Mile 2: 0.5%, 3.5%, 3.5%, 1.5%
Mile 3: 0.5%, 4%, 4%, 2%
Mile 4: 0.5%, 3.5%, 3.5%, 1.5%
Mile 5: 3%, 3%, 1%, 0.5%

Total elevation gain was 568 feet! Boom!

Rest. Yes.

I hit the roads bright and early with Shannon on Thursday for a fast 5 miles. My Garmin insisted for a while that we were running 9:45 miles and then all of a sudden 8:45s. So we ended up a bit faster than intended. A little [running] speed never hurt anyone, right? 

I also tested out the Nox vest I got for Christmas today. It easily makes me more visible than my reflective vest (that my 4-year-old thinks I got from working in the construction industry--not sure when he thinks I did that...)

5 miles easy but at 4pm because that's when it was supposed to stop raining. I still ran in very light rain, which wasn't so bad.

12 miles long with Laurie and it was 50 degrees!! And sunny!!
Short sleeves! Arm warmers! Sunshine! Capris, and a lot of people wore shorts.
I had to work for the run. My legs were tired. I was tired. But--beautiful. We ran rolling hills and saw lots of fog sitting in the low areas, sometimes with sun shining through it. Laurie told me this weather isn't that unusual for Cleveland in January. Yes, we get snow, but we also get this kind of fluctuation. She had 7 miles on her schedule, but ended up doing a little over 8 with me. I ran about 2 from my house to the meet-up spot, then 2 back. I was really happy I didn't have to do too much of this one on my own.


Weekly total: 31 miles
Favorite run: It's a tough call. Probably the long run because it was such a beautiful morning.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Marathon Training: Week 1

Marathon Training Week #1 is in the books!! This past week I was juggling a huge work deadline that had me working pretty long hours. Running was a great distraction from that. I think training is off to a solid start. Here's the weekly recap. 

Easy 4 miles. I found myself holding an 8:45 pace and breathing a little heavy. It was nice to remind myself what the training plan calls "easy" and to slow down.

My Tuesday hill run was magical. I woke up at 5:20 to howling wind and snow-covered streets. I'd gone to bed past 11:30 the previous night--the project had turned me into a mad scientist. I had that I'm-tired-it's-early-vomit feeling. Really? I thought. We're doing this? I checked the weather. The icy rain/sleet combo was set to move in about 7:20. We'd be done and home by then. So I got dressed, backed my car out of the garage* and headed out.

* this is a big deal! One day while it was snowing last week, I said, f-it. This is the day I stop waiting for the garage to get cleaner while my car sits in the snow. I called a trash hauling company. I returned a ton of extra bathroom tile (that's another story), and I parked my car. I felt victorious. 2017: Making dreams come true.

Shannon had master-minded the route. We both arrived just after 6 and quickly found our way to the path we knew.....was there somewhere. It was dark and snowy, and for just a moment reminded me of walking across snowy fields with my friends when I was younger. We laughed at ourselves, trying to find the path, slipping off the side of it now and then. Sometimes we could feel the hard surface under our feet. Other times we were in calf deep snow. I wore ski socks. It was delightful.

We ran the hilliest loops we knew. I'm having trouble getting my Garmin to tell me the total elevation (net) change. Whatever it was, it certainly checked the boxes: strengthened my lungs and legs. Running in snow is beautiful, and a workout. I'm so very thankful for a friend who planned the route and met me to do this. 

Rested the crap out of Wednesday. Physically at least. Mentally, not so much. As I had been doing for many, many days, I kept working feverishly on the research project due by week's end.

Shockingly not sore after the snowy hill run.

Four miles easy. I went mid-day, when something with my data was going very, very wrong and I could not wrap my head around why, what, or how to fix it. I spent the entire four miles reviewing what I'd done, trying to find errors, and trying to solve the problem. The fog hung low over the lake, and I wished I'd had my phone to take a picture. At run's end, I had only decided that at least one part--the major part--of what I'd done had to be correct. Eventually I figured it out. I was still up until 2am working on it, the deadline approaching quickly.

Another four miles easy. I ran again mid-day. Largely from stress and not sleeping enough for several consecutive days, I was also not eating enough; my stomach had turned on me. For perhaps the first time ever, I ate a Gu before 4 mile run simply because I could tell my blood sugar was low. The four miles was good for me. I just tried to shake some stress out. I finally submitted the paper at 11pm. My mind then frantically ticked through the laundry list of things that might have gone wrong that I might not have caught. I checked the weather, made sure clean running clothes were available, and went to bed, about 11:40.

I was to meet my friend Laurie at 7:30 at a park about 25 minutes from my house. At 6:45 she texted me to let her know when I left my house. I saw it and 7:04am. When I woke up. It's extremely unlike me, but I'd slept through my alarm. In fact, I didn't even remember it going off. I texted her to start without me (she was going to do 3 after I left, so she just did them before) and I'd be there at 8. This would give me PLENTY of time. PLENTY. 

I got within half a mile of the park and my GPS just lost it. It insisted I turn into the park at what was not an entrance, then when I used the main entrance, told me it was adding an extra 12 minutes to the trip. I'd been there twice before, but it's an easy place to get lost. So I turned around. I thought I must have missed the entrance. I went back and looked. I hadn't. So I turned around again and went back the way I was going the first time--the right way. And so with what should have been abundantly enough time, I was still 7 minutes late. So.freaking.embarrassing.

I parked and jumped out and we took off. I didn't have a GPS signal yet and didn't care. We ran 8 miles together and talked about all sorts of things, my favorite of which might have been labor and modern manufacturing, as this is an area we're both interested in.

So we ran 8 miles. Know how many I was supposed to run? 10. But I couldn't because my husband had somewhere to be and my catastrophic efforts at 7:30am meant I simply didn't have enough time to run 10 miles. I hung out and played with the kids and cleaned until Mr. Joanna got home, then headed back out for the last 2. I think it's harder, not easier, to run 10 miles this way, which sort of surprised me. You know, in case you ever wanted to make a long run harder, I found your solution.

Because she's an awesome running buddy, Laurie texted me encouraging me to make sure I got that last 2 done. I'd just come back in from it, and sent her this picture. 
And then yeah, took a nap. I napped so hard.

Weekly goal: 26 miles
Weekly miles: 26.51

Favorite run: I loved my long run, but the snowy hills were truly beautiful and funny