Marathon on the Horizon

I’ve written this post 1000 times in my head. I’m not sure which version is going to come out tonight, but getting it out there will be a big relief for me.

Training for a marathon the second time around is SO completely different from the first time.

There’s a lot of ways you can spin it. The ways going through my mind are:

#1: You’ve got one marathon under you belt with no time goal, let’s try to get faster and break 4 hours for the next one.

#2: You enjoy running, so just run with no time goal. Run for fun.

#3: Let fear of getting injured a second time around get in the way of running and defer your entry to next year.

I think I’ve got a mixture of all three going on now. At the beginning of marathon training, the goal was more similar to #1. I incorporated speed work, tempo runs, and I obsessively checked my pace on my Garmin.

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After about 4 weeks of that (the beginning of August, not even a third of the way finished with training) I could tell something was different. I blamed it on the heat and the humidity but honestly, I don’t know that I really like being a slave to my Garmin. Do I like having a goal to work toward? Yes. Do I love the feeling of a bust-your-ass workout?  Of course. But as the days turned into weeks, even though I saw improvement, I wasn’t in love with running this way.

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Some of the problem could be that I don’t really like my training plan this time. Another reason is that I can’t run on the treadmill. I know the treadmill has a bad rep, but it’s perfect for those days when it’s too dark or hot to get some miles in.

Mentally, I’m just not where I was last year. When it’s your first marathon, every week you’re reaching new PDR’s (personal distance records) and that’s exhilarating to see IF you can do it. Then when you do, you’re pretty freakin’ proud of yourself.

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I would say training for a second marathon is above and beyond harder than training for your first. That’s my experience at least. I’ve toyed with the idea of not running the marathon because I’m afraid I’ll injure myself again. But.. I think that’s just a cop-out. I’m big fan of finishing what you start, so quitting really isn’t an option.

I was burnt out after racing the NYC Half Marathon this past March. I took 6 weeks off of running. SIX. WEEKS.

In that time though, I really got into weight-bearing exercise like circuit training. I’ve been a runner for 9 years; I want to explore what else my body can do.

The icing on the cake though was Brandon getting pneumonia 3 weeks ago. I did everything I could to not catch it. I didn’t end up catching it, but I did have some pretty crummy feeling days. All I wanted to do was come home from work and sleep or drink hot tea. Turns out I have an upper respiratory infection and it’s been making it hard for me to breathe.

When you can’t breath normally and drive to work, it makes running such a silly thing to think about. I am on antibiotics now and am feeling better but it’s really taken a toll on me over the past 2 weeks. I ran tonight for the first time since last week and it felt good to get out there again.

So, as it stands now, my mind is somewhere between  #1 and #2. Instead of racing the marathon to beat my time, I’m thinking I may just take my time and run with my friend that is running her first marathon that day. (Yay!)

I’m entering the last 6 weeks of training and while I can’t say I feel as ready as I did last year, I can say that this training cycle has taught me a lot about myself as a runner and as an individual.

Do what makes you happy. If you don’t like something, change it.

This post wasn’t meant to be all woe-is-me, but getting it out there always makes me feel better. With my lack of posting this time around, you can begin to see why.

The marathon distance is a distance to be respected. It can make you feel on top of the world or suck the life right out of you. I fully intend to give it 110% on October 28th, but what my 110% will be that day has yet to be determined.

I’ve always said a half marathon is the perfect distance… I think 2013 may be the year of half marathons!

Keeping Up

I wrote the following post last Thursday, just haven’t had time to publish it add pictures. It’s pretty direct, so I apologize for the lack of writing style. For your reading pleasure:

Marathon training is going well, I’m in my 5th week out of a total 18. I had a low-mileage week 2 weeks ago when a random Wednesday night concert was thrown into the mix and I couldn’t get my Thursday tempo run in. Follow that with an only 6 out of supposed to be 10 mile long run that Saturday. Truth be told I felt like I was getting sick that weekend and just couldn’t run any longer in the heat that Saturday.

Last week I had a decent speed workout on Tuesday but the rest of the week was great. Instead of cross-training last Wednesday I ran 4 miles then on Thursday did a 5 mile tempo run. Last weekend was also the first Saturday I’d gotten up to run a long run and actually felt like I was in training. I slept in my own bed, woke up before the sun, ate my usual waffles + PB and water, grabbed my sport beans and was out the door for 11 miles.


                                            (Not my picture)

That was honestly the first run of training where I felt like I’m getting stronger. The distance seemed easier, my form felt good, breathing was in sync with everything, and I loved my route. I decided there is no. way. I am going to be able to train with gel this year. I bought several packages/flavors of sports beans and wanted to give them a shot this summer. Verdict? I really like them, just not the fruit punch flavor. It reminds me too much of the gel that I used last summer and when I’m running and think of that, I literally almost vom.

Seeing how I need all the electrolytes I can get, there will be no vomiting while I run. No thank you.

The Sport Bean package was easy to carry; it’s even resealable so I can eat a few then close it up so they don’t spill everywhere as I run.

Pink Ribbon Sport Beans - Fruit Punch Flavor
(source)

I like the actual size of the bean. I like Clif Blok Shots but they’re so gummy and big it’s really hard for me to run, chew, and breathe all at once.
beans
                                Sport Beans                            vs.                Clif Blok Shots
                                                                 (source and source)

The small size of the jelly bean is good for me, even though I eat them one at a time. Safety first!

Coming into this week I’ve had some pretty strong workouts following suit with Saturday. Tuesday was my best ever speed workout to date. Not in terms of actual speed, but in the way I felt during the workout and hitting good splits.

tuesday speedwork splits

Time to play a guessing game! Which splits were my intervals?

SPOILER ALERT: Miles 4-6!

The whole workout looked like this:
10-20 minute warm-up
6 x 800m (90 sec. RI)
10 minute cool-down

(800m = 0.50miles)

That workout really did a number on my legs. They were killing me the rest of the day/evening despite wearing my compression sleeves to work all day.

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I did a lot of foam rolling on Tuesday evening and even iced my hip and knees as a precaution. Bedtime was an early one at 8:45 and I slept for 9 glorious hours. I awoke to refreshed legs, but I didn’t want to overdo it, so I grabbed Owen and we were out the door for an easy 1.5 mile run.

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It was his first run since he was sick a week and a half ago, plus he hasn’t been running with me in the heat so I wanted to take it easy with him. Even though the run was short I came inside and did plyometrics focusing on core and back strength along with some PT exercises for my hip to keep me strong and pain-free.

Thursday was a 5 mile tempo run but as I was running it on the route I chose, I realized it was going to be more of a hill workout than a tempo run. I tried my best to bust out the splits, but those hills are no joke.

thursday tempo

I.E. mile 2 and 5.

Now I rest until Saturday when I have a 12 mile run at 9:00-9:15min/mi pace planned. My parents are driving down from Indiana tomorrow, so it’ll be an early run to maximize family time!

One other note I’ll add is that this humidity is AWFUL. I usually start my runs around 6:15am-6:20am and it’s so hard to breathe through the thickness of the air.
I think I already mentioned this, but since my hip injury I haven’t been able to use the treadmill. I am missing it sorely these days.

Last year I’d save my weekday runs for the afternoons when I got off work and hit the gym to bust out 4-8 miles 3 days per week. This time around I’m running before work Tuesday-Thursday and it’s not exactly a walk in the park with the weather. In addition to the humidity (even though temps are between 71-75 degrees) there are hills no matter which way I turn out of my neighborhood. If it’s downhill on the way out, it’s uphill on the way back.

Yeah yeah, “hills are speedwork in disguise” but I’d really rather just have one route I could run that’s relatively flat!

This has turned into a novel but now you’re caught up!

Enough about me:
Are you training for anything?
How do you deal with the heat and humidity?
When do you run during the day?

Race Recap: Fun 4th Freedom Run 10k

As part of my training for the Marine Corps Marathon, my plan had me running 8 miles this past Saturday. There was also a race in Greensboro and I thought, no better way to spend my miles than at my first Greensboro Race!

My friend Tyna, from Winston-Salem came over to run it with me as she is also training for the MCM.

We started the morning off at 7:15am with a 2 mile run before the race so we could get all 8 miles in for the day.

I’ve never split up a long run during training like this, but since it’s early on and a special event, I thought it’d be worth it. The weather was perfect during the warm-up and we had a pretty easy route around downtown Greensboro. We finished within 20 minutes of the race starting.

After our 2 miles we met up with another runner friend of ours, Erin. We had some confusion before the race as to where we were meeting, but we found each other in plenty of time before the start.

I will say that since this is one of the smallest races I’d participated in over the past 2+ years, the starting line was a little confusing. Runners were corralled behind the starting line in no particular order so if we weren’t paying attention we would have ended up pretty close to the front. We started somewhere towards the middle of the pack though and we were comfortable there.

Starting Line:


(photo source – On the Mark Sports)

Up until the week of the race I had been planning on taking it easy and just running for the fun of it. Once race week came I (of course) started to flirt with the idea to run for time. With the heat and humidity that crept up as the morning wore on though, I knew at the starting line I wasn’t going to be racing. It’s too early on in marathon training to go all out and risk injury, especially after my first week just wrapping up. The race was supposed to count as my long run anyway, so I was fine going at a comfortable pace.

The course was beautiful and I got to see areas of Greensboro that I didn’t even know existed. Course Map


(source)

It was a hilly one! It was pretty much half shaded and half in the sun and thankfully some generous homeowners along the course set up sprinklers for runners to run through.

There were lots of water stations along the way, some of which I drank and some of which I poured down my back. The volunteers were amazing, calling out times at each mile marker, cheering and using noise makers for support, along with manning the water stations along the entire course.

The run went well despite the hot and humid conditions, but I was a little bummed that I couldn’t run for time. There is no way I could have run at my usual 10k training pace that morning. I went into the race a little hungry and under-hydrated, too. The last 0.2 miles though, the course flattened out and I picked up speed towards the finish line. I finished strong with a time of 54:38, an average of 8:49 min/mile (official results from the race website). I placed 10th out of my age group…but I have no idea how many runners were in my age group. hah

10k

Waving to Brandon, about to cross the finish
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Tyna finishing!!

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After we were across the finish line we waited for Erin to cross and dug into the post-race snacks; bananas, oranges, bagels, bread, Krispy Kreme glazed donuts, Gatorade and water. I had half a banana, some orange slices, a quarter of a bagel, and washed it down with some Gatorade + water. It was a good spread!

The best part was the misting tents they had set up!


(source)

Not quite like that but it gives you an idea. We stood under those a bit after we finished refueling then went to see our posted results. Can I put one of these on my “training plan wish list” for use after my long runs? No? No takers? Meh, there’s always Christmas.

I would definitely consider doing this race again. It was so nice to wake up in my own bed on race day and in combination with the packet pick-up, crowd/volunteer support, entertainment/announcers, post-race spread, and fast turn around on post race results, it was a great first Greensboro race experience.

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Did you race this weekend? Are you racing on the 4th?

 

Pretty Perfect Week

As far as I’m concerned, this past week was pretty freakin’ amazing.

Did I ever show you my new Brooks Ravenna 2 running shoes?

photo (33)

Love them more so than the Ghost 4’s or Adrenaline’s. Highly recommend them.

I ran Monday for 4 miles (furthest since the marathon) without ANY pain the next day. I’ve never really had pain during my runs since I began running again in January, but the day after is always my tell-tale sign of my progress, so it was encouraging to be pain-free the following day.

I have a new routine when I run starting with a dynamic warm-up my PT taught me. (Here is one similar from Runner’s World.) This helps warm up my muscles before they have to do so much work.

After I run, now I do a series of static stretches, shower, foam roll, and ice my hip for 15-20 minutes. Then I normally pull on my compression socks to help speed recovery.

photo (36)

I also normally sleep in them, I just love the way compression feels!

So far, this routine has really worked for me and I’m loving how it’s enabling me to run again.

Ever since I began PT I’ve been making gains, but 2 weeks ago when I started going twice/week I feel like I’ve really gained traction. When Justin (my PT) pinpointed my pain last week from the treadmill, and during manual manipulation, that was my last run on the thing. Since then I’ve run outside and haven’t had any pain.

Huge milestone for me.

Huge confidence booster.

Wednesday I ran 4.83 miles and it felt amazing. It was a little late after I got out of work so the majority of the run was in the dark, but I have my trusty nightlife running shirts to make me be seen.

That run was the most fun I’d had since the marathon with running. I felt so strong and free to be running so far. I also had no pain the following day.

Thursday I went to PT and we did more strengthening exercises. I’m working on balancing exercises too to recruit and strengthen my accessory muscles that support my powerhouse muscles when I run.

Justin told me it’s time to try running two days in a row now since we’re 4 weeks out from the NYC Half Marathon. Up to this point I’ve been running every other day. My instructions: I was to run 2 days in a row over the weekend, with the first day being the longest of the two runs. Saturday I pulled out a 6-miler on a beautiful 60 degree, sunny day. So perfect.

6mirun 2-18

The dreaded mile two. I always make up for my zealous mile 1 start.

That run felt great and I had a little pain last night, but nothing like I used to have. I iced twice last night and felt fine this morning.

Today, I ran 2 miles in the snow! It was my first run ever in the snow and it was actually really fun. It had been raining all day so when it turned to snow I thought this would be my best chance of the day to get a run in.

Before my run today:

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After my run today:

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My first run in my new running jacket, too! Fleet Feet had a winter blowout sale on Friday and I snatched this beauty up. I love it!

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Very good at keeping me dry.

Speaking of all this running gear, I got a new foam roller!

I knew I wouldn’t be able to bring my first foam roller with me to NYC..

It’s a bit..huge and wouldn’t fit in my carry-on luggage.

So I was on a mission to find a travel-friendly foam roller and have had this one in mind since fall. The Grid.

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There are different textures on this foam roller vs. my original foam roller which I was skeptical about. The squares are supposed to feel like fingers, the longer ridges are tubular feeling, and the flat feel more palm-like.photo (34)

As you can see, it’s hollow, so I can stuff socks and other running stuff inside and still have room for other necessities in my luggage. It’s also only 18” long.

So far I love it. I can actually tell a difference in the amount of pressure and it gives me a little deeper of a massage when I use the fingertip areas to get into those really tight areas that need worked out.

This upcoming week is my 6th week of physical therapy and is supposed to be my last. I may stretch it out another week or two and I’ll definitely come back after the half marathon in case I have any pain so he can work that out for me.

I cannot recommend a good physical therapist enough! I was definitely skeptical after not seeing any major progress for the first 2-3 weeks but then it’s like it all clicked for me. My PT is also a runner, so he gets it.

In less than a month, I’ll be running the NYC Half. I really believe I will be able to run it. Maybe I’ll have to run/walk it and that’s fine if I do, but I’m getting pretty excited about the possibility of running the entire thing.

Did you know there will be members of the USA Olympic Marathon team running this race? I SO hope to see Kara Goucher and Desiree Davila. Two of my role models. 20-something’s are still allowed to have role models, right?

Here’s to another positive week ahead!