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