Archive for March, 2008

Boston Training: Week 10 Recap

It was a week of transitions for sure. I went from gritting my chattering teeth to keep from whining about running in weather that felt frigid until I warmed up on Monday night, to longing for that refreshing chill in the air as I sweated through the longest run of my Boston training program Friday morning in near 80 degrees.

I also transitioned to a new living space, which meant chaos, disarray, and less time spent blogging.  In the process, I incurred my only (knock on wood) injury of this training cycle: a badly smashed, swollen, and bruised finger.  It is currently making typing creative, but I am so thankful the injury didn’t happen to a toe or foot!

Week 10, March 24-30

Monday – 5.5 easy (road)

Tuesday — 8 easy (path)

Wednesday — 10 with 5 miles at Tempo pace (8:00) (treadmill)

Thursday — rest

Friday – 22 easy (road)

Saturday — rest

Sunday — 7 easy (road)

Totals:  ~  52.5 miles + 2 yoga and 1 pilates sessions

Good stuff: I got incredible support from my parents and a few friends that allowed me to keep running in the middle of moving. The help was a worthwhile opportunity to look at the portion of balance training encompasses and reflect on how difficult it can be to pursue athletic goals and potential without assistance from others.

Stuff to keep an eye on: Adjust nutrition and rest appropriately to accommodate the taper phase of training. Less fuel, better rest!

Goals for the coming week: Soak up the good energy and motivation while getting some last-ditch hill training crewing and pacing friends at the Umstead 100 mile endurance run this weekend.

Boston Training: Week 9 Recap

A lifetime ago when I was a college student in northern Minnesota, we used to venture even farther north across the border into Manitoba for spring break. This had everything to do with Canada’s legal drinking age of 19 and nothing to do with love for its arctic climate. 

At least a lifetime later, I found myself northbound again for spring break. This time the expedition had more to do with good company and good marathon training, rather than legal beer. (I can get that almost anywhere on the planet nowadays.)Snowy Metroparks path

Like spring breaks of years ago, winter weather played a role. I planned to join several runners I know for a hilly 20-mile course intended to make Boston seem “flat and fast.” Old Man Winter had other ideas, covering the region with more than half a foot of powder. Between a change of location dictated by the snowplow and the powerful lure of pancakes and hot coffee, a rolling 20 became a mostly flat just under two hours out.

I may have Spring Fever and might well tell you differently in exactly four weeks, when if all goes according to plan I will be proudly wearing a Boston Marathon finisher’s medal, but I’m sure the steaming coffee, satisfying flapjacks, and fun company contained special, intangible training benefits that surpass what another hour of running could have delivered.

If nothing else, spring break is leaving me extra rested to dig in and have a focused final peak training week before beginning to taper.

Week 9, March 17-23

Monday – Extra rest day after Shamrock Half Marathon

Tuesday — 7 easy (road)

Wednesday — 2.5 easy just because I had time to kill before Spinning; taught Spinning class; weights

Thursday — 10.5 with 6 X 2:30 5K pace intervals (treadmill)

Friday – rest

Saturday — 12.25 easy (road)

Sunday — 7 easy (path)

Totals:  ~ 39.25 miles + 1 cross-training workout, 1 weights session, 8 yoga & pilates sessions (teaching).

Good stuff: I was healthy and able to complete every workout. My knees and energy level all started to feel more “like me” again. So far I really like my new Brooks shoes. I had a lot of fun with great company on Saturday and Sunday’s runs.

Stuff to keep an eye on: The usual non-running training practices that are just as important as logging the miles: mindful nutrition, enough rest, and quality recovery.

Goals for the coming week: Keep my focus and manage stress for best training with a day trip, out-of-town visitors, and moving all scheduled near the end of the week.

Neither Fightin’ nor Irish

Event: Shamrock Half Marathon
When & Where: 7 a.m. Sunday, March 16 in Virginia Beach, Va.
Results: 1:52:14 (8:35 pace). 41/492 females age 35-39 and 280/3,162 of all females.

As I started planning a spring race calendar, I earmarked the Shamrock Half Marathon as a goal race. The course is fast and its St. Patty’s Day party atmosphere is energizing and fun. Most of my local running friends would be participating in the 8K, half marathon, or marathon. Shamrock and I have some emotional history too: I had a breakthrough half marathon here in 2006 that started the quest to qualify for Boston, which included an injury and DNF in 2007’s marathon.

But then race week 2008 came. 

My body felt like a sluggish sack of potatoes most of the week. A few minor aches and pains I’d had after runs calmed down with lots of ice and a few easy days, but shook my confidence. Race-day weather wasn’t great, but nowhere near as wild as forecasted. It could have been a PR day conditions-wise.

I got wishy-washy on my plans to shoot for a new personal record. I am a planner who performs best with a strategy to follow, but Saturday night at dinner was saying things like “Eh, I’ll see how I feel in the morning … at the start … at mile 3 … halfway through … at mile 10.”

So, how did I feel?

In the morning:With a great night’s rest in the comfortable hotel bed, I wasn’t exactly in a hurry to greet the day at 5 a.m. Some good coffee, conversation with roommie Amy, and encouraging text messages did the trick.

At the start:The all-night rain stopped, winds subsided, and an 8:20 pace felt easy. Not a bad way to get going. Hmm, I kind of miss my music, though. It is too quiet as we count the street numbers heading north on Pacific Avenue.

At mile 3:We head into 3 miles of road surrounded by pretty coastal forest. Here organizers attempt to entertain us with non-sensical signs like “Man running behind car gets exhausted.” Ba-dum-bum. I wish I had music. It is too quiet.

Half-way through: It is St. Patrick’s Day, not Halloween! Why do I feel like a zombie with these achy heavy legs? I spot my friend Noel ahead and dig in to pass her, which helps for a couple miles. She catches me at mile 9 and we give each other a boost and pick up our paces together.

At mile 10:My knee feels a bit tight, so I reluctantly let Noel go. I am excited for her though, as I’m pretty sure she is on pace for a new personal best. It is still too quiet as I count the street numbers heading south on Pacific Avenue. Finally, music! I run by a bunch of Team in Training volunteers who are cranking 11th grade cruising tunes “Nothing But a Good Time” and “Talk Dirty To Me” by Poison. Thank you, Bret Michaels! Between the hair band and tail wind I manage to feel more like my usual pumped-up racing self until paying respects to the huge King Neptune statue that reigns over the Finish line.

So … I don’t really know what was up with that.

It might have helped if my head had completely been in Virginia Beach, rather than jumping forward to Boston. In the past I’ve struggled with letting self-talk affect my running, but have gotten much stronger about that and wasn’t battling negative thoughts at all. Mentally, I haven’t felt tired of training at all. But I have learned that I need to be personally motivated to race well, and right now am more excited by of course Boston, and also the idea of trail running and ultras.

Simply, it wasn’t my day to show the half marathon who’s boss. Instead, I got a decent marathon-pace workout.

The best thing to do is leave a so-so race effort behind, focus on the considerable fun had during the weekend, and keep moving forward.

Boston Training: Week 8 Recap

Has anyone seen my mojo? 

Shall we shag now or shag later? 

If this was a cut-back week, why don’t I feel more rested? My mojo seemed to have gone missing all week. In its place were a few minor aches and a body that felt dull and heavy. My mood was positive — it had to be to pick up the slack!

A number of variables could be contributing, including quite a few higher-mileage (for me) weeks recently and the manageable personal stress of an upcoming move.

Hopefully after one more light day tomorrow my energy will begin rebounding.

Week 8, March 10-16

Monday – 6.2 easy (path)

Tuesday — 7 including 10 x hill repeats (overpass)

Wednesday — taught Spinning class

Thursday — 5 easy (treadmill)

Friday – 3.5 easy (road)

Saturday — rest

Sunday — 14 .1 (warm-up plus Shamrock Half Marathon)

Totals:  ~ 36 miles + 1 cross-training workout, 1 weights session, 5 yoga & pilates sessions (teaching).

Good stuff: I was healthy and able to complete every workout. Shamrock weekend was a lot of fun, thanks to pre-race festivities with friends, time catching up with out-of-town friend Amy, and celebrating five friends’ new Personal Bests in the half or full marathon. It was a great day for many runners.  My own run was mediocre but I remembered that it’s just as fun, if not more, to witness someone else achieving or surpassing a goal.

Stuff to keep an eye on: After Tuesday’s hill workout, I noticed my knees were achy, tight, and stiff. Same thing after Thursday’s easy run and very briefly after the half marathon, during which my anterior right ankle also had some tendon pain. As boring and time-consuming as it can be, I must stay attentive to resting, icing, stretching, foam rolling, and any other TLC methods I can try. It is more than worth the effort.

Goals for the coming week: Be extra mindful about hydrating to try to get some uncomfortable water weight off. Have a good long run back on the hilly course I rolled over for 13 miles last month. I’ve been told that if a person can do 20 there, any marathon is within reach. Most of all, remain healthy and able to complete every workout.

How Much Baggage Does One Person Need for a 13.1 Mile Trip?

One advantage of running compared to other sports that’s frequently given lip service is “It’s simple. You just need a pair of shoes.”

I don’t know who says that and what they are smoking. Obviously they’ve never packed for a destination race. Especially one with a wild and variable forecast, like tomorrow’s Shamrock Sportsfest half and full marathons.

As I write this post, I’m about to finish preparations for an overnight in Virginia Beach. Running shoes may be at the top of my packing list, but they’re only the beginning. Here’s the unabridged version:

  • Newer running shoes
  • Backup pair of shoes in case anything happens
  • Two tank tops, because I’m not sure what one I’ll want to wear
  • Short-sleeve technical shirt in case I don’t want to wear a tank
  • Long-sleeve technical shirt just in case I want that
  • Windbreaker jacket
  • Running shorts
  • Capri-length tights in case I don’t want to wear shorts
  • Two pairs socks in case anything happens to one
  • Sports bra
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Watch
  • Throwaway shirt (for cool weather) and garbage bag (for rainy weather) in case I want to wear either before the race starts.
  • Body Glide to prevent chafing
  • Sunscreen
  • During-race fuel (Gu)
  • Pre-race breakfast (instant oatmeal packets and peanut butter, plus bowl and spoon)
  • Post-race refueling items
  • Camera
  • Plus the usual stuff a non-running person would bring for an overnight trip (pajamas, change of clothes, toothbrush, etc.)

We runners may want to tread lightly but as you see, that requires considerable overpacking!

Extreme Makeover: Runners’ Feet Edition

This is not a post for the Meek at Heart or Weak of Stomach.

Below, hopefully far enough below to require considerable scrolling down, are images of Before, During, and After a recent pedicure.

I confess: It had been more than six months since my last pedicure. In that time I had trained for and run a Boston-qualifying marathon, no small feat for a couple of feet. Proud of the marathon result but too embarassed by the resulting traumatized toes to seek professional help, I attempted to keep my feet fit for public viewing with regular home maintenance. It got to be so labor-intensive that this barefoot Pilates and yoga instructor transcended her vanity and just let things go for a while. But when I discovered that one of my new yoga students is a nail technician, I took a chance to see if she’d take on my tootsies.

The resulting pampering was relaxing and educational. I learned:

  • A pedicure should be regarded as a regular health maintenance treatment, rather than a luxury. Hmm, any chance my health insurance will start covering the service? As Wayne and Garth would say, “As if!”
  • To stop cutting around my callouses with a nail clipper (like I said, not for the Weak of Stomach), and use a pumice often rather than infrequently hacking away with a cheese-grater type tool. Those things apparently make the skin vulnerable and not able to do its job of protecting.
  • That I have particularly small and challenging toenails. Tell me about it! At least I have all 10 again; after my last marathon I was down by half.
  • Random local gossip, including why one of the other health clubs in town suddenly closed. But that’s what you’re supposed to get at a salon visit, right?

If you’ve read this far, my wish is that you’ve summoned courage to forge onward. Without further ado, have at ’em!




Boston Training: Week 7 Recap

Flexibility paid off this week, reminding me that a training plan is ultimately that: A plan. All good plans allow for a Plan B. My coach downgraded Tuesday’s originally scheduled hill workout to an easy run since my knee was tender, and it was the right thing to do. I was disappointed to move Saturday’s planned long run with two friends to a solo run Sunday due to a very windy and stormy forecast, but 3 + hours in those conditions would have been sheer misery even with great company!

This week marked the mid-point in my “formal” Boston Marathon preparation program.

Week 7, March 3-9

Monday – 8 easy (path)

Tuesday — 6.5 easy (roads)

Wednesday — taught Spinning class

Thursday — 10 with 6 at Tempo pace (treadmill)

Friday – 6 easy (treadmill)

Saturday — rest

Sunday — 20 easy (roads)

Totals:  50.5 miles + 1 cross-training workout, 1 weights session, 9 yoga & pilates sessions (teaching plus home practice).

Cutie the Chocolate Lab

Good stuff: I was healthy and able to complete every workout. Sunday’s long run was in my future neighborhood, and I got to meet one of my prettiest and friendliest neighbors. She’s pictured to the right. After two higher-mileage (for me) weeks with 20 mile long runs, I admit I am excited and ready for this coming cut-back week.

Stuff to keep an eye on: My right knee is calmer than it was last week, but I will continue icing and foam rolling to manage a tiny bit of runner’s knee and tight iliotibial bands. I am very happy my body seems to respond well to the TLC. Running has taught me that ice and daily self-care can be much more effective than popping pills to treat the inevitable low-level aches and pains. Especially ice!

Goals for the coming week: Be satisfied with how I race the Shamrock Half Marathon on Sunday. It’s a fast course as well as an opportunity to have a great day and a lot of fun out there, and especially to enjoy some memorable time with local and out-of-town friends who are also running.