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

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 in Review

My oh MY what a year it was! If I had to pick one word to characterize 2016, it would be "uneven". In all possible ways. In work, in living, in running. And since I haven't blogged much, unless you see or talk to me on a fairly regular basis, you've probably only seen a sliver of all of that. Welcome to the 2016 Review--a look at what uneven running looked like, and how it is leading to a 2017 I'm excited about.

This chart says a lot about my year:

Like I said, uneven. Why? How?

Let's go back to October 2015, when I stopped running all together due to an injury I later learned was a tendon in my left foot. This tendon connected some magical way to the inside of my left knee, causing my left knee to swell, limiting my range of motion. This in turn caused my left hip to get tight. The month+ I took off did little to help, so I had to start running again very, very carefully. And that meant running a total of about 40 miles in January and February of 2016. In early January I found a massage therapist who specialized in sports injuries, and she set me on the path to recovery.

In late February, we decided to uproot our Utah lives and move to Ohio. As my dear running friend Rachel once told me, running performance is sometimes a barometer of personal well-being. And, in March, for the first time in 5 months, I set a running goal of 12 miles per week, and was thrilled to hit it.

Having some success, I increased that weekly goal for April and May. In April I ran some 8:30-ish pace miles and felt euphoric about it. I also ran more miles the last week of April than I had in any week since the previous August. I wrote zero words about it, but by my dim memory, I think May went about the same.

Then we moved. It had been months of work in the making--packing, listing our house, packing more, planning the trip, house hunting in Ohio, coordinating the moving truck, on and on and on. My older son's last day of school was June 3, and on the morning of June 4, we put the last few things in our cars and drove out of Utah. North, into Wyoming, then down into Colorado, stopping in Denver for the night, which involved my older son puking during a power outage and us realizing the shower in our room was broken. Some day I'm going to write that one into a novel. 
Stopping for dinner in Laramie, WY. I was very pleased with myself for navigating this little town based solely on my memory from one previous trip. This is not usually my strong suit!
From there we drove to Manhattan, Kansas (the little apple!) to see and stay with dear friends from grad school. From there, to Columbia, Missouri, to see and stay with The Best Neighbors Ever, from our days in St. Louis.
Being greeted in Columbia, MO

From there, to St. Louis to see old friends, though sadly we didn't have enough time to see them all. From there to Indianapolis for some fun at the Children's Museum. 
Chihuly ceiling at the Indianapolis Children's Museum
From there to Cleveland on June 9, to a house we bought sight unseen. Our truck arrived June 10 and we unloaded it June 11 and started what would be a very long (and still ongoing) process of making the house our own (you can read about my dining room transformation here). Trying to help my parents, while they tried to help us, because they were doing the same thing--setting up their adorable little house a few miles away. And, I want to be honest (if in a limited way) about this--it was a difficult period. Leaving Utah was painful--not because I didn't want to leave (I did), but for a whole variety of reasons that meant starting our lives over in a new place felt like a heavy load to bear.
Everything we owned
Once here, I fell in very quickly with the Cleveland MRTT, a free running group for women. It has been one of the best things I've found in a long time! I felt welcomed and joined them for runs and social events frequently.
After a bike trolley bar crawl
With my friend Shannon for an afternoon of drinking, shopping, eating, and drinking

In early fall I decided I was running well enough to sign up for a half-marathon. MRTT'ers seemed to love Towpath, and it was close by, so I signed up. Loved it. Very flat course through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Read all about that here.

Then, November, and the 37-mile-month. Partly, my race was over. Partly, I traveled to Portland and Pittsburgh at the beginning and end of the month. It's not an excuse. I slept in. I didn't make goals. The mileage was low. It was ok.
Lobby of the Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburgh--well worth the visit if you're ever in the area.
After the low mileage November, which I was feeling kinda bad about, and the need to get some base training in prior to actual training, I decided to aim for about 20 miles/week in December. Then, halfway through I accidentally did one run a few miles longer than planned, and just like that a 100-mile month seemed doable, and I went for it.

Finishing out the year, and a 100-mile month, on NYE with Laurie
And so, the year went, and went unevenly, and involved a tremendous amount of change. I saw old friends and made new ones. Sold one house and got to work renovating another. Started the year largely unable to run, and am finishing it out with a stubbornly tight left hip but feeling strong and getting stronger. 

At year's end, some stats:
Miles ran: 695.
Races completed:  3--Hofbrauhaus 10k, Muddy Paws Trail Race, and Towpath Half
States ran in: 7--Utah, Arizona, California, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland
States visited: 16--Utah, Arizona, California, Ohio, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia

Goals for 2017:

  • Marathon #5!!! Football Hall of Fame Marathon, April 30. Training starts in a week!! I'm not looking to PR this (although it would be welcome), but would like to get sub-4 again. 
  • 1000 miles. I own my low mileage this year and look to the future. 
  • Stay healthy. Because, duh. 
  • Do more yoga and strength training.
  • Settling in and finding our groove.
 Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for Marathon #5 training!!