Sunday, April 16, 2017

Marathon Training Week 14: You may saaaaay it's a taper

But when I'm still running 45 miles a week it's kind of hard to see how. Welcome to the recap!

Today was novel in two regards. First, I'm not sure my calves have ever been this tight. So tight I stopped to stretch them about 3 times in the first 1-2 miles, and even to massage them once. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to finish my 8 miles. Finally around the end of mile 2, when I stopped at a light for a bit and stretched again, finally they released. Just, wow, though. I think I was trying so hard not to slip on Saturday that I must have changed my gait or something. Who knows!

The second thing: there was a discarded red apple on the sidewalk in front of the middle school. What better place! It made me laugh out loud.

Tuesday morning it was raining, so I stayed in bed and put the run off until Wednesday.

I got to go fast. I love to go fast. As I was running fast--and smiling--I thought, today will be the day my co-workers drive past me and wonder why I'm grinning like an idiot while running. I just...I love to go fast.
Seven easy miles. I did a loop down through the next town over and home. On my way back I saw a small purse left behind on a park bench, near a school. I hesitated. What should I do? Should I take it into the school, in case it's a student's? In case they could check it for ID and try to find the person? I went back and picked it up and opened it. If it had a wallet or phone, I decided, I would take it to the school. It didn't. Just some lip gloss and a few similar items. I hoped it hadn't been picked over already. I hoped no one loved the particular bag a lot.

I got lost going to Shannon's house, a full 36 hours after telling her we could run near her because I was sure I could finally find her house. Someday, someday I hope to say reliable things to that woman while planning our runs. 2017 is not, apparently, that year. Thankfully my phone had come back the day before so while it had deleted her contact information at least I did have GPS.

We ran through horse farms. Beautiful, rolling hill, green pasture, mansion-laden, horse farms. The sun was streaming through some clouds. The horses were pasturing while wearing blankets, which I hadn't seen in so long (maybe ever?) I'd forgotten it was a thing they sometimes do. Beautiful morning with a wonderful friend.

I realized I've nearly completed this race season and haven't brunched after a Saturday long run even one time. Unacceptable! So I texted Laurie and Shannon Friday night to see who was game. To my great joy, Laurie said she could run a few miles with me. SO HAPPY TO HAVE HER BACK!! So Saturday morning I went to our agreed-upon trail head to run the first 9 solo. In perfect timing, just as I was walking off the trail back into the parking lot, Laurie pulled in. It was so good to see her again. We ran my last 6 together, then headed to brunch.

Laurie & me
Both Shannon and my friend Rosie met us for brunch. I loved the place we ate at. Everything looked so good, it was hard to choose. They served the best breakfast sausage I've maybe ever had. What a win.
The dream team of strong-willed women
Total Miles: 45
Favorite Run: I loved going fast. I loved the horse farms with Shannon. Laurie was back. This week, I can't call a favorite. There was just too much good.

Next week I taper in earnest, cutting back more dramatically on miles and effort. I'm ready.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Marathon Training Week 13: Rain and snow and ice, oh my!

Six easy miles. I told myself to relax, that this is the weekly reset button on running. I did finally relax into it, it just took a little bit.

I'm using my iPad for most things since I currently don't have a phone. I forget that when I sleepily hit the iPad when my alarm goes off, the way I have the settings it just turns it off. And so, I turned off my alarm and slept an extra roughly 45 minutes.

It was hard to make myself get up. I was over-tired the night before and had slept ok, but not great.I told myself it was probably still raining (it wasn't). I told myself my stomach hurt and I should go back to bed (it did, but this is pretty normal when I first get up when it's super early, and not at all an excuse to go back to bed). I told myself I could switch my rest day (tomorrow) to today and push this back (I shouldn't--it was a tough workout). I fought back against the inner voice and won. I made it to the back door, to my shoes, and outside.

Two mile warm-up: easy, slow, steady. No big deal.

8 x 800 Yassos.
Yes. This day has finally arrived.
(Yassos: you run 8 800s in the minute:second pace of your hour:minute target race pace. So, if you wanted to run a 4:00 marathon, you'd do Yasso 800s at 4:00 per 800)

In all sincerity, I have been looking forward to this for weeks. I ran 6x800 a few weeks ago, but on a treadmill, which might make it a little easier to pace. Would I be able to do them at pace outside? For 8 of them?

Yes. My slowest 800 was still a few seconds faster than my goal pace. Success!

The run did feel substantially harder than my treadmill version had. In part, this was due to wind. In part, I ran the intervals faster. And once, I had to dodge a car. All told, definitely pleased with this one.

(And those cool-down miles, sooooo slow)

Rest day. Like a mother.

This is an actual Facebook Messenger conversation with details obscured to protect the innocent.  

I ran through an honest-to-God thunderstorm. Thunder. Lightening. In the dark. At one point I thought, "I'm not sure it's possible to rain any harder." There was a puddle so big it covered three-quarters of the road; I got lucky though and got to it when there were no cars, so I could walk around it. It was so bad at one moment I fantasized Shannon would just materialize with pastry (because she does that) and a dry, warm car (which I knew I was not out at the right time to really hope for). Of my 7 miles, it was raining for about 5. 

I was so wet when I got home that I put my shirt in the bathroom sink. Fact. 


Cleveland: We had a mild winter
Me: Ok, but can it be done now?
Later in the day I had occasion to drive through rolling hills and lots of trees. It was gorgeous. Like, the kind of day where people stop and get out of their cars to capture the perfect picture of snow-laden trees hanging over the road. Beautiful. And I did finally get the easy run done. I've lived here long enough to know the roads will be clear by mid-afternoon, so I waited until then.

Plan A: meet a group running a point to point that would end with breakfast. Make new friends! Run new places!
I got up at 4:30 to get dressed and drive to the meet-up. Because I don't have a phone, I looked up all the directions for the whole round trip. And then realized, I didn't have time. It was 30 minutes from the end back to the cars, and then ~45 minutes back home. And with a group running a variety of paces, I was not going to get home with enough time to shower, eat, and get the rest of the way ready for my younger son's 5th birthday party*, which was at the house. 

(*Sidebar: if you're a parent wondering where the hell your kid's invitation was, we tried. He was determined to invite just a few kids from his daycare. How about more kids from your class? No. How about kids from the street? No thanks.)

So I reluctantly texted my soon-to-be running buddy to cancel. So disappointed. 

Plan B: Run alone near home. I went back to bed for a while, then got up and ran. I quickly realized the path I usually run on days like this still had too much snow and ice on it and was not passable. I redirected, no big deal. As I do, I circled back to my house at the halfway point to refill water and grab more Gu. I left again and headed north. 

My path north goes through a one-block stretch of road that's currently closed for maintenance, and thus isn't being treated for snow/ice. I walked over the snow and ran where it was clear. Then my feet flew out from under me. It wasn't clear. It just looked clear. A sheet of ice. The good news: my internal monologue reacted well--I knew what to do. Mid-air I was bracing for impact. The bad news: I landed pretty f-ing hard. I groaned. 

A guy heard me. He came running to see if I was ok. 

He fell exactly the same way on the sheet of ice. 

We were both fine. He at least had on a thick hat that probably protected his head, which was my chief concern for me. I noticed shortly after that both hands were bleeding, just a little. I didn't know until I got my shower later that I also got an impressive bruise on my left elbow. Then there were muscle-related responses. 

At mile 20 my left shin clenched hard into a ball. I actually had to walk a few times, and that night it hurt so much I could barely walk. By Sunday morning, and after a good bit of massage, it relaxed. My abs hurt on the left side into Monday. But all told, the incident was more funny than painful. 

I finished my 22 miler slower than most long runs, and feeling successful. 

It feels weird to say when I'm still running 45 miles next week, but the taper has officially started! It's all downhill to race day. It's hard to believe I've arrived at the taper already!

Total miles: 50
Favorite run: The Yassos, easily.  

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Marathon Training Week 12: Sideways

I did not even make it off the starting block this week before having to rearrange. My younger son didn't eat much Sunday, tossed and turned a lot Sunday night, and didn't eat breakfast Monday, earning him a day at home. And my husband was out of town. So I had no way to run.

I have a 1-mile time trial later this week. I'll ditch that, move everything back a day, and take today as a rest day. So I'll only miss 1 mile. That's a small price to pay for a maybe vaguely sick kid.

Also, my phone got stuck in a perpetual reboot cycle, earning it a trip home to ATT to be fixed. I'll be lean on pictures until it's back. Sad face.

What a morning. My intention of getting both kids dropped off the minute their schools opened did not happen. I was over-tired and slept a bit past my alarm. And then kids. When you're trying to rush to get out of the house. Glacial. I had them both dropped off and I was back home by about 9:15. I checked work email and took care of a few things, then headed out.

I was dressed for rain, which meant I was hot for the first half, until the turn-around. It started to very lightly rain at about 5.5, which was fine, because:
Image result for there's no such thing as bad weather for running just bad clothing 

Stilllll sideways. I came home early from work so I could run before picking up the kids. I had 9 miles planned with some fast miles. I got through the 2 mile warm-up and knew I didn't have it today. I suspect running at 4:15 was largely to blame, but who knows. I remembered that I had 6 easy miles sometime later in the week, so I did that instead and called it a day. 

It rained all day. ALL DAY. As in, thunder and lightening and heavy rain. So no. That 9 miles I pushed back? Not happening.
Still raining. A lot.
Some hours after my weather app said we'd moved to a 0% chance of rain--zero percent--it was still raining. But by mid-morning it stopped. I spent the morning cleaning the house, and headed out about 2pm for my long run. 
I was scheduled for 13 miles but was feeling guilty about missing 18 miles earlier in the week. Good news: I can run 13 miles pretty casually. Less good news: I have to think about 16 miles a little bit. I stopped by the house at 11.5 to get water and whatnot, and after that I was entombed in lactic acid that would not go away. I finished 16 miles at a just fine average pace, but I felt it. 

Total miles planned: 44
Total miles ran: 29
Favorite run: I mean, I guess Tuesday, although to be honest it wasn't very memorable. The week just didn't really happen. 

There isn't anything I can do about it, and there wasn't much I could do about it as it was happening. I have to just move on. Next week is another 50-mile week, and with it, my last shot at a really long run before the race. I'm eager to get this coming week right.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Marathon Training Week 11: 50 Miles

For, I believe, the third time in my life, I hit 50 miles in a week. Welcome to week 11!

My weather app did that thing again where it couldn't decide if I was in the clear or would be running in rain and snow. Gun shy after Saturday's hypothermic debacle, I went back to bed, packed a gym bag, and hit up the treadmill later for this easy run.

When I stepped outside, it felt like spring. The fog held a chill: damp, quiet, calm. The air smelled of wet leaves. It was dark. My feet crunched on pavement, its occasional gravel under my weight.

Rest day. Brought clothes to do office yoga but ran out of time, so I did it at home in the evening. I used a new workout from doyogawithme. The workout wasn't as fulfilling as others I've used, but I enjoyed trying a new one and getting the benefit of a workout. It's amazing how much even a little yoga can heal things that hurt from running.

18 degrees when I stepped outside. I was cold at first, but knew I'd warm up after a mile or two. And oh, these are the mornings I live for. I was most of the way finished before the sun really rose. Before that, I could see hints of light on the horizon, all in shades of blue, leading up to the inky, dark sky and a sliver of a moon over the lake.

The run felt easier than I expected, all but a small uphill part. I was home before anyone was awake, which let me get breakfast started and clean dishes put away.
Shannon and I met for this easy 5 miler. Well, easy for me. She was pushing a jogging stroller containing 3 and 5 year old girls. Not so easy. But a beautiful cool morning.
There wasn't a memo. We just showed up like this.
I must have checked the weather 40 times between Friday afternoon and Saturday. Rain or no rain? Rain or no rain? I finally decided that while it might rain, it looked unlikely to rain until at least 10am. If I started early enough, I could get this 22 miler finished before the rain came.

But just to be sure, because, lake effect, I told Shannon I'd text her before 6am if plans changed.

The plan only changed because I was a few minutes late getting out of my house. I ran the same 2.7 miles as last week to meet her. We ran 6 miles together. Without incident. I so appreciated having the company for part of this very, very long run.

Shortly after parting ways I saw a skunk. I stopped where I was, about 30 feet from it, and let it waddle itself across the road and well into the other side of the street before I proceeded. Without question, and with more thanks than I know how to express here, this was the most disruptive, concerning part of this run.

I finished out 11.5 miles to end up back at my house. I left a note for my still-sleeping husband, listened to the kids playing quietly, refilled my water, grabbed more Gu, and was back out the door. Down to the lake, a lap around, a lap through Cleveland Heights, another lap of the lake, and back toward the house. I got tired toward the end. Mile 21 was a 9:55 pace. I know enough to harness this as an opportunity to train my brain to deal with fatigue, and that's exactly what I did.

Total miles: 50. FIFTY!
Favorite run: I loved them all. Ok, not Monday, but all the others. Gorgeous sunrise one day. The smell of spring another. Running with Shannon. A successful 22 miles. It's too hard to pick this week.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Marathon Training Week 10: The Week I Learned What Lake Effect Actually Means

It's spring break at my university, which gave me the luxury of running this 4 miles mid-day. Nice.

As the east coast braced for soul-crushing snow, and as my older son's school was canceled, I kept watching the forecast and saying, guys, it says only 1-3" overnight. And guess what? We got about 4" of snow overnight. NBD. But it kept snowing through Tuesday, and the roads weren't great until mid-afternoon, at which point my window for getting 'er done had closed, as I was entertaining the kids. The worst part of the day was that my university also closed, so I didn't have access to the gym to do this run indoors.

With institutions re-opened, I headed to the gym to get my speed work done for the week. Could I have done it outside? Probably. But, SO COLD. Today was the second time this winter the cold has bothered me, and mostly at this point its because I went ahead and put the Easter wreath on my front door.

My training schedule sends me to the track only twice in this 16 weeks, and today was the first, for 800m repeats. I dutifully set my treadmill to 0.5%-1% grade (I varied it through the run) to simulate running outdoors. It might still be because I was on a treadmill, but these 800s felt pretty easy. This one was a win.

I don't watch a ton of tv, but lately when I have, I've been all over the commercials for fried chicken sandwiches. Hell, for almost any food. Today while I was getting my 10 miles of pace running done, my husband picked up lunch. So bad. So good. If there had been two, I would have eaten two.

My once per year fast food
The only rest Friday on my entire schedule. And thank goodness, because this body is tired.

The following are copied and pasted from an actual text conversation:

Friday 11am: "I'm showing rain and snow all day tomorrow but clear/foggy Sunday. Unless things change, I will likely do my run Sunday instead."

Friday 10:55pm: "Now it's saying maybe clear. I'm going to bed now and getting up early to check weather and will decide then."
Shannon, Saturday, 6:29am: "Mine is saying rain snow mix for 60-70%."

Saturday, 8:36am: "My phone can't decide. I checked twice in the last 5 minutes and it said two different things. It says it's going to rain but the radar looks clear until about 1."

Saturday, 9:21am: "I think the weather is going to hold" 

So we went. I ran almost 3 miles to a train station where I met Shannon and her bike. She biked and I ran about 3 miles east, where I wish we had aerial video of us going opposite directions around a cul-de-sac, and back. About the time we got back it started to rain/snow/ice pellet. We stopped to take a video and decide what to do.

A post shared by Shannon (@clerunningmom) on

So things weren't good at that point. We hoped the storm was just blowing through, that we were just getting the edge of something nearby, because, THE PREDICTIVE RADAR HAD BEEN CLEAR. I'd checked 487 times. The hourly forecast had been inconsistent but looked like it would be clear. I'D CHECKED.

So we kept running. The plan was to stop by my house 3 miles later anyway, so worst case, we could bail then if necessary.

Things did not get better. Things got worse. Much worse. People driving by started staring openly at us, shaking their heads. And, to make matters infinitely worse, neither of us was wearing a jacket. I hadn't had a hat until we went past her car. I was wearing regular, non-thermal, non-water resistant tights. I was wearing my lightest, thinnest gloves. Her feet were wet. I had no money on me.

We finally arrived at my house and went inside. We plainly couldn't do the other 8 miles. We went upstairs to get dry clothes. After I changed, I found her in my kids' bathroom with her feet in the tub, running the hottest water it would give her. Her toes looked like death. Fully changed, I could not stop shivering. This lasted an hour. Neither of us could have been coerced to change into real clothes or leave again for a while after that. So at some point we gave up on the day and started baking and drinking beer. I missed an event in my neighborhood in the midst of all this and I feel terrible about it. I also missed my husband's first tae kwon do belt test, and I'm sorry for that too. And I'm bitterly disappointed to have not completed a long run. But the day ended many hours later, smiles all around, after our families had a left-overs dinner at our house. The day ended like this. Yes, most of what she's wearing is mine. Especially those slippers.
What I learned:
"Lake effect" does not just mean "lots of snow." My whole life, I thought that's what it meant. Lake effect means a storm is moving off the lake and it could end up anywhere, violently, quickly, and the meteorologists really cannot tell you where it will land. That my weather app kept changing its mind reflected this. That we got caught in ice pellets blasting at our faces was the result.

Total Miles Scheduled:
Total Miles Ran:
Favorite Run:
No, the long run was not my favorite, but certainly one I won't forget. Ever. And it was an amazing day at the end of the day.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Marathon Training Week 9: Breaking 40

I don't want to I don't want to I don't want to I don't want to I don't want to I don't want to

Oh, I'm finished.

Pretty much how 3 easy miles in the dark feel at this point.

My first speed work of the training cycle! I ran 8 miles with the middle 3 miles at an 8 minute pace.

Even though she wasn't there, Shannon helped me out on this one. A few weeks back she mentioned that one of the nearby paved trails happens to be almost exactly a mile loop. I couldn't have asked for a better way to do this run.

I ran this one mid-morning when I spotted what looked like one clear hour on the radar. At that point, by the time I got dressed and out, I figured I could get 6 of my 8 miles in before the next storm came. Like clockwork, at 5.98, the sky started to open up. I ran the last two in a steady rain, which was fine. I wore a hat to keep it out of my eyes. 

The fast miles felt pretty good, and 8 minutes was actually faster than my training plan called for. This one was a win.
Also: new shoes.

Rest. Which, thank goodness, because we had a wind advisory that was not messing around.  

Alarm goes off at 4:45. I get up and out a few minutes faster than usual and drive to the meet-up spot, arriving early. Shannon pulls in. We quickly discussed the game plan and set out: one warm-up mile, 7 miles at race pace, then a mile cool-down for me. She'd leave me after mile 6 or 7, depending on time. Promptly, we set out not at all like we were running a warm-up mile. Then, we ran the whole thing faster than race pace. Because we're us.
It took some doing to get this picture to look this reasonable

We talked about all kinds of things. How my son eating salad with his hands had been the last straw for me on the previous day. How our parents and in-laws not only prefer, but rather insist, their coffee be made. Things mean girls say. Daycare costs. The sunrise. The sunrise is beautiful! No it's not--we're on a hill! Yes it is. All kinds of things--and that's why we run. 

Another easy 3. Short and sweet.

When I was getting dressed my phone said it was 18 and felt like 3 degrees. I think the "feel like" temp for the day maxed out at 10. So I dressed for the arctic for my long run. 
Thermal tights and ski socks
Ear warmer and a hat. Also, that jacket is the warmest running jacket I own. Brooks=Run Happy.
For the first mile I thought I was overdressed and took stock of how much I could strip off and carry. Those thoughts ended quickly as the cold set in, then stayed. For the record: I really don't mind the cold, and I didn't mind it today. With the right gear, feels like 3 is no big deal. However, your body does have to work a little harder because of it, and today I really, really felt that. 

At 6 miles I took stock. Feeling ok. Feeling the miles a little. At the half way point I felt about the same. At 14 miles I was ready for it to be over, and it wasn't. And like the runner I am, I took the opportunity to train my brain to deal with difficulty, because in a marathon it isn't IF tough moments come, it's WHEN. So what if I hurt? So what if I didn't want to finish? There's only one way home, and that's to run. Here's hoping the hard miles don't come so early on race day. 

Now, about 7 hours later, this run is hurting more than most. Yes, I probably ran it too fast. Yes, I have a hard time slowing down. Yes, I was probably under-fueled. I'm not convinced any of that should make me this tight and sore, so maybe we just call this one character-building.

Weekly miles: 41
Favorite run: Easily the pace run 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Marathon Training Week 8: Multicultural Cleveland, Heartbreak

Up and at 'em! The first mile was sloooow and stiff, but I got going. After the turn-around I saw a woman I know from work. I was surprised to see her because she didn't appear to be exercising or dog walking. I stopped and said good morning and she shared what she was doing.

I learned that the Jewish month starts with the new moon. She coordinates a group to get together each new moon to mark the occasion, I think always outdoors. I'm not clear what's involved in the get-together or why it's outdoors, but I enjoyed learning about that activity in her life.

This one will enter the history books, my friends.

I slept badly, worried I would miss my 5:45 alarm. I wanted to get up and out so my 8 miles wouldn't make me late to work. I got up, dressed, happily a few minutes faster than usual. But then, then: no keys. Not anywhere. Not on the kitchen counter. Or the key dish. Or my purse. No keys. I found the spare key to my husband's car and piled into that. Started the engine. Gas light was on, and I'm not driving even near a gas station. So, shit. Back inside for keys. And then I remembered: Brendan drove us home last night.

[Sidebar: My husband and I had a very rare date night last night. We went out to fancy dinner and a movie. There were two women and a man sitting directly behind us. One of the women in particular talked all the way through the previews, rebuffing an angry old man who yelled at her to "shut up!" I had hoped she would stop when the movie began, but she didn't. I calmly asked if she intended to talk through the whole movie. She angrily got up and moved herself and her two friends across the theater, which was fine with me. After the movie as we were leaving she starts again, "Now I can talk! People acting like you can't talk in a movie theater!" They had four PSAs before the movie about it. We had a good laugh about it, once I was sure she wasn't going to try to beat me up.]

If Brendan drove us home my keys were likely in whatever pants or jacket he wore. I checked the jacket--no dice. The pants? I headed upstairs, back to our bedroom, and there they were. I was finally on my way. 

I improved on last week's hill workout, making it to the bottom twice, with a small loop added to the first out and back that added a bit more elevation gain and loss. I got 434 feet in gain and again in loss. It felt good. What I did not improve on was mastering the parking situation. I parked in a small lot then saw the signs prohibiting parking before 8am, so I had to move. Between that and the key situation, I wrapped up this run about 20 minutes later than I really should have. 

As I got back in my car and was reaching for my seat belt, a black SUV pulled to the shoulder where I was parked, facing me, which I thought was odd. Then I realized it was my friend Shannon. Figuring she was there to run and just happened to see me, I got out to say hi. AND SHE HAD PASTRIES. FOR ME. Paczki, specifically, which is a Polish donut-esque pastry enjoyed on Mardi Gras. 

How magically unicorn-jumping awesome is this?!? You finish an 8 mile hill workout and your BRF appears out of nowhere with pastry?? It was magic. And they were delicious. I took them home and my family gobbled them up. Gluttonous. Happy. 


At a 10am meeting:
Me: I had a mile time trail on my training schedule today.
Colleague: You can do that while sick?
Me: Apparently not. 

My mile time trial was a full 40 seconds slower than I expected. I can only blame about 5 of those seconds on patches of ice. I'm hoping I can blame the rest on sinus pressure, noisy coughing, and a runny nose. 

Upside: office yoga. So good.

Today I learned what the term "snow squall" means. 

Just no.  

So, this: 
Friday night Laurie and I were texting, making plans for our Saturday long run. She was doing 18 or 20 to my 14 for my drop-back week. We were planning when and how she'd get her extra miles and when I would meet her. Somewhere in the middle of that planning, she figured out what her recent pain was: a femoral stress fracture. And with that, her marathon training ended. Our long runs together ended--at least for several months.

My instinct was to hope she was wrong. But if there's one thing I know about Laurie, when she says she's injured, she's injured. She is strong--strong-willed, strong-minded, strong-bodied. And so I knew there was no hoping she was wrong. And, I'm heartbroken. For her, and for our runs together. 

Left to my own devices, as I've long said I would, I did not get up early to run. I slept. Then I played with my kids. And mid-afternoon, only then did I lace up and head out. Just 14 miles ("just 14 miles"?? Who says that?!). I didn't really mean to take it fast, but I was enjoying the cold day and felt good. So I ran an average moving pace of 8:48. The best part--heading down a paved trail and hearing birds singing all around me. Spring is on the way.

Weekly miles: 32
Favorite run: Clearly my hill workout. I won't forget that morning any time soon.

With this week finished, I'm half way through training for this marathon, and prepared to switch from building endurance to building speed. No more hill workouts. Lots of pace runs, tempo runs, and a little actual speed work in the coming weeks. The next 6 weeks are the hardest of this 16 week training cycle. I think I'm ready.

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