Friday, September 26, 2014

Monument Marathon - Pre-race Overview

Tomorrow is the Monument Marathon. I had originally set out to train for a 4:20 and eventually dropped back to a 4:30. After fooling around the last few weeks, I'm not sure where I am in terms of fitness.

I do know my 5K time improved by 1:28 over the course of this training cycle, and my recent 5K time suggests I could run a 4:40. However, after an epic blow-up at Sleeping Bear last year based on what a chart said I could run, I'm hesitant to plow headfirst towards The Wall again.

In addition, race day is predicted to be 88 degrees and sunny, and it appears there will be little to no shade. The race is also at a few thousand feet of elevation, and elevation has bothered me a bit as an adult. (All it did when I was young was give me nosebleeds.) There will also be some significant hills and potentially strong headwinds.

I hope I haven't lost my heat adaptation already, but I'm not prepared for the hills or elevation because mid-Michigan does not want to hook you up with anything by sea level flats as far as the eye can see.

But, and this is a big but and it cannot lie, I have Stone Bridge scheduled two weeks from Monument. This race should have shade and cool temperatures and is supposed to be relatively flat. With this in mind, I've decided to opt for a more conservative race at Monument.

My main goal tomorrow will be to assess my fitness and not feel like total death at the end. I've decided the best way to accomplish this will be to focus on running on negative splits. I reviewed my splits from all my past marathons, and I tend to slow down significantly after 18-19 miles. My plan is to run easy to that point this time around, and then hopefully pick up the pace.

To that end, I've studied the race course profile almost obsessively, as well as reading the few blog posts on the race that I could find. The first five miles are downhill, but there is a significant climb up to Mitchell Pass (and also where the strongest winds are supposed to be) from miles 12 through 14. This is followed by an equal downhill, and the next hills don't come until between miles 20 and 25, a spot that apparently trips lots of runners up.

While, as I mentioned in my weekly recap, I'm hitting faster paces now that I'm tapering, I still want to edge towards conservative, again knowing that I can always run harder at Stone Bridge if I end up with something left in the tank.

As a starting point I'm using the 5:00 hour marathon pace. I struggled with this for awhile - shouldn't I be able to beat my marathon PR after incorporating way more speedwork this training cycle? But then I realized I need to be more realistic and compare myself to where I was in the spring, rather than last fall. In which case, five hours would be an improvement of about an hour, which is nothing to feel sad about!

To run a sub-5 marathon, I would need to hit 11:26 min/miles. I'm going to round this to 11:25 to make the mental math just a bit easier. The plan for the first 20 miles is to run 11:25 min/miles on the flats, 11:05 min/miles on the downhills, and 11:45 min/miles on the uphills.

What happens after those 20 miles will depend on how I feel. Hopefully by taking it slow, I will be able to drop the hammer, so to speak, and earn some of the lost time back. If not, especially if I feel worn from the heat and elevation, I won't beat myself up.

I'm also excited to give this a try because of my new Garmin (which I absolutely love love love). I have my first screen set to show total distance and lap time. This is a double bonus because it takes away the mental block of being able to see my total elapsed time and prevents me from having to do crazy mental math to figure out my splits.

So, there it is, my relatively simple, but hopefully effective race plan.

Most accurate description of a marathon ever.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Weekly Recap: 9/17-9/23

So, here we are. Taper week.

I've never actually had one of these before. For my first training cycle, I was laid low by a sinus infection and, except for a two mile shake-out run the day before Sleeping Bear, I took the whole week beforehand off from running. And, as I've mentioned ad nauseam, I battled injuries and illness leading up to my season this spring, so I didn't run for 12 days before the marathon, and hadn't been running very much beforehand either.

While I've freely admitted to essentially bailing on Hanson's the last few weeks, I've still been running five or six days a week, so I finally can actually taper down. And I have to say, I'm definitely a fan. I'm running enough that I don't feel like I'm losing fitness, but I feel more rested, physically and mentally.

I'm starting to hit the easy paces Hanson's prescribed for me, except now they feel truly easy. Instead of gutting out every run, I've been pushing the pace a bit because it feels fun and good, rather than like death.

I'm sure this is exactly what I look like.
I can also tell my mind is raring to go. I'm exhibiting the classic symptom of wanting to sign up for every race I see. I should totally do three different 5Ks the weekend after Stone Bridge, you guys. And I'm totally getting back into tris and doing a half iron ASAP. Yeah...clearly I'm ready to race. Hopefully I can channel this energy when I need it Saturday.

Wednesday, September 17

Why can I never remember what I do on these days? I think I managed to work in a nap.

Thursday, September 18
4 mi easy, 11:41 min/mile

After running nothing shorter than five miles for months, it felt so bizarre to turn around at the two mile mark. I already noticed my legs were feeling perkier than normal.

Friday, September 19

I watched terrible college football, and it was wonderful.

Saturday, September 20
3 mi easy, 11:44 min/mile

I cranked this one out before watching MSU spank Eastern Michigan. (Seriously, I know tune-ups are important, but if you have to pull your starters in the first quarter, it's pretty out of control!) Even though it was quite cool, the sun had heated up the asphalt to the point that it was uncomfortably warm out on the trail.

At least I didn't forget to snap the ball.

Sunday, September 21
8 mi easy, 11:21 min/mile

This run was one of the best of the training cycle and was a huge confidence booster. I set out at the same pace I plan to use at the start of the race, but I felt like I was floating, so I boosted my pace every other mile. I finished feeling strong and invigorated. Now the real question will be if I can do that 2+ more times Saturday.

Monday, September 22

Having a Monday off felt so scandalous.

Tuesday, September 23
3 mi easy, 11:08 min/mile

I probably ran this one a tad too fast, but I was feeling good, and the pace felt easy.

I know quite a few people complain about tapering, but I love it. It's like an early reward for the hard work. (I know the race is the true reward, but that's a pretty painful reward at times!) I feel like I'm primed and ready to go. I'm a tiny bit antsy, but I think a lot of that has to do with a slow period at work giving me lots of extra time to contemplate the race.

I'm also just so excited for this trip! I love the West, and I can't wait to do some light hiking and exploring on Friday. Plus I get to see Michael after a few weeks apart. Oh, and I get a chance to try this fabulous creation.

Who knew Nebraska was hiding such a wonderful and terrible secret?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

What I Learned Doing Hanson's

This post might be a bit premature (since I'm writing it before I run the race I trained for), but I wanted to explore what I learned from trying Hanson's Marathon Method before my race results could color my judgment (good or bad).

For anyone not familiar with this program, it involves six days of running a week, no cross-training, and long runs that only build up to 16 miles. The main ideas behind their program are cumulative fatigue - so that those 16 mile long runs feel like the last 16 miles of a marathon instead of the first -  and the rule of specificity - the way to become a better runner is by running more.

I was super excited when I first started using this program. I was coming off a very disappointing training cycle using Runner's World SmartCoach. Not only did I dislike the training program, but I suffered through two illnesses and an injury, leading to some less than stellar marathon times during the spring season, only breaking six hours once. Considering I had managed a sub-5 at my first marathon, this was very disheartening.

Hansons seemed like a great way to redeem my running. I had run five days a week before no problem, so I assumed adding one more wouldn't matter. I had done some speedwork and gotten up past 40 miles when doing Hal Higdon for Sleeping Bear, so I didn't think I would be adding too much distance or intensity.

Spoiler alert - those assumptions were wrong.

I ended up getting overtraining syndrome, reigniting the compartment syndrome in my lower legs, and inflaming my cranky left IT band. I cut runs short because they were too hard and took it really hard. I slept and slept and ate and ate but was never satiated. I spent a lot of time feeling bad because not being able to adhere to my training plan didn't just mean I was a bad runner, but also a bad person. (Don't worry, once I scaled back the last few weeks, I realize how silly that was.)

I'm sure this training plan works great for some people, but it wasn't for me. I don't want to guarantee I won't revisit it in the future, but it won't be for a while.

But I am really glad I tried out this training plan, because I learned a lot in the process:

See, I'm just really Zen!
1. I am a terrible all-or-nothing perfectionist.
I was reviewing my training to calm my pre-race nerves, and I was surprised by how many workouts I had nailed. However, after missing a few runs because of the wedding I was in, the wheels came off a bit. I got worried I couldn't handle the training anymore, and, instead of amending my time goal then like a normal person, I skipped workouts rather than fail them. I should've just backed off the pace and at least gotten the miles on my legs, but that didn't seem like an acceptable options, since I had already "failed."

2. I love having prescribed paces, but they are a double-edged sword.
Building off the item above, I love the focus of having a specific pace to hit each workout (even if it is just what my easy pace should be) - I value each run more because I feel like it's accomplishing something. Obviously an easy run will do the same thing if I'm just told to go run based on effort rather than a specific easy pace, but I like tangible goals. (What can I say, I'm an accountant through and through.) However, if I don't think I can handle the pace, I'm very tempted to make an excuse and skip the run entirely, rather than just modify.

3. Saturday is my ideal long run day.
This was something surprising to me. Hal Higdon's long runs were on Sundays, and they were fine, but I used that plan in college, and most of it was over the summer, so I didn't really mind which day I lost four hours on, since my schedule was so flexible. Now that Monday always means a return to the office, I find I like having more couch time the day before. FIRST places the long runs on Saturdays, which might involve some early mornings and use of the DVR during football season, but I'm fine with that.

4. Five days a week is the maximum I want to run.
Hal Higdon prescribed five days a week of running, and I never felt like I was losing all my free time. Obviously, this (again) was different in college, but the thought never even occurred to me, so I assume it will translate pretty well to now. Running one more day a week doesn't sound that much different, but when it means one free day instead of two, it is.

5. I know what overtraining syndrome feels like for me.
As training started to ramp up and I was running paces truly beyond my ability, I got real live actual overtraining syndrome. It's always hard to distinguish between that and just normal fatigue (which is what I thought it was), but I eventually realized what was happening when I put on 5-7 extra pounds without any real diet change and had major trouble falling asleep, which I normally can do just fine. While this certainly wasn't fun, it'll be much easier for me to spot next time it happens.

I wished I looked this contemplative when I thought about it.
6. I love swimming.
This was also pretty surprising, especially because I'm by no means a good or even technically sound swimmer. I was honestly looking forward to Hanson's as a break from swimming, but now I see that was more a burnout of ramping up my yards too fast in the pool. I couldn't be more excited to get dive back in (ha ha ha) a month from now. While it still gets me a great cardio workout, swimming feels refreshing because it's no-impact, and I mean that mentally as well as physically. I'm sure I'll be back to flopping around like a drowned cat, but that doesn't mean it isn't fun. 


7. I'm not very good at setting a realistic time goal for myself.
I think I'm better at speed than endurance. (Which is so weird to type since I'm quite slow and enjoy endurance more.) What this means is my 5K/10K times aren't very good predictors of what marathon times I can run, at least in my experience so far. The reason I blew up in Sleeping Bear so bad was I tried to run a 4:20, which my contemporary 10K time (56:08) said I could run, but I could only handle that for about 18-20 miles. My recent simulated 5K indicates I could run around a 4:40 at Monument. Maybe I just lack the race experience to manage myself appropriately to that time goal, but I'm going to be much more conservative. Worst case I can run negative splits and take my mulligan two weeks later at Stone Bridge.

Overall, my takeaway from Hanson's is that it's a great training plan, it just wasn't for me. Running is a way for me to relieve stress, but having some quiet time on the couch every night is vital to my mental well-being, too. I sustained a lifestyle of work, run, sleep when I had my crazy internship two years ago, but that was just to keep from going insane - it didn't renew or refresh me. I need free time to do other things for that to happen.

This post might come off as hyper-negative, but I truly don't want to dissaude anyone from using Hanson's, I just want to lay out the details of my experience. Besides this plan being quite hard (and I think that dead horse has been beaten pretty hard by others at this point), Hanson's takes a lot of time on weekdays. To make the shorter long runs work, you need to hit this weekly mileage. This can really suck all your time, so proceed with caution.

So what's next for me? I've hopped aboard the pendulum to swing the whole other way and will be trying out FIRST's Run Less Run Faster program. This involves three runs a week (intervals, tempo, and long) and two days of cross-training. There is one dedicated rest day and another optional rest day. I'm pretty sure I will be using the optional day to take a slow flow yoga class, another thing I've realized I really miss.

From what I've read (it seems like a lot of people critique this plan without every trying it and sharing their results!), this plan sounds just as physically taxing on Hanson's on the run days, but it will allow me to mix up my workouts and have some free time on weekdays again! I will be swimming on my lunch hours, so I will only need to come home from work (or get up early, like I alluded to in my last post) and lace up twice a week, rather than four.

This plan also allows for more flexibility. As long as the runs are not done on consecutive days, they can be moved around. This will be especially key during the holidays between travel and weird pool hours. I've been using this in between time to work on some other, non-running habits, so I plan to actually recap each week of training.

But if Hanson's taught me anything, it's that flexibility is key!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Weekly Recap: 9/10-9/16

I have to say this week went pretty well overall. I only skipped one planned run day, but I've been re-learning how to deal with my seasonal allergies (but thank God the shots have significantly improved how I feel!). I'm used to skipping runs this time of year because my head feels like it's going to explode, not because I just feel sleepy (because my body is convinced I'm on the verge of death). 

It's hard to say this is all mental, because there's obviously a physical reaction outside of my control here (and I'm doing what I can to mitigate it - shots, Zyrtec every day, 8+ hours of sleep a night), but I know sleeping won't actually help, so it still feels like I'm succumbing to my weakness.

The problem is, every day becomes Caturday.
I used my air filter last night before I slept, and I noticed a huge difference this morning. Even though I had to get up a lot earlier than usual for a work meeting (7 AM meetings should be illegal), I was so much perkier than usual that even some of my co-workers noticed. The awful sleepy feeling was successfully staved off until about lunchtime.

I'm not a fan of exercising in the morning - although I would like to be - so I'm contemplating transitioning over when my next training cycle starts. Not to spoil too much, but I'm planning to use the FIRST method, which will only require four weekday workouts. I plan to take a bit of an extended lunch (staying late to make up for it) to swim twice a week, so I would only need to get up early enough to run two days a week, which I think is very doable for me.

If you understand, please immediately become my friend.
I'm sure the adjustment will take some getting used to, but, as much as I like evening runs, I like not having to have this huge battle over my allergies every day more. I'll also have the bonus of DST ending a week into training, so I think if I can gut out the first two days, the habit will be easier to set, because it'll feel like my normal time anyway. Once everything outside is good and dead, I can always switch back to evening runs if I want!

Wednesday, September 10

I think I did things that day, but they did not include a nap, and that was very sad.

Thursday, September 11
5 mi easy, 12:03 min/mile

This was our first real day of fall weather in mid-Michigan, and it felt amazing! I obviously overdressed, but not as badly as normal.

Friday, September 12

I caved to my fake sleepiness and the cold rain outside and just curled up on the couch. That week was still pretty rough at work, and I needed the time to decompress. At least I didn't have to stay until 8:30 like the week before....

Saturday, September 13
6 mi easy, 12:17 min/mile

I felt fine but took the pace a little slower and was very comfortable. My new tentative game plan for Monument is to run about 12 min/miles at the start (I'm adjusting the pace from this run for the five mile decline the race starts with). I will post more on this later, but hopefully it will prevent me from blowing up.

Sunday, September 14
10 mi long, 12 min/mile

I tried out my planned pace, and it felt comfortable. My legs were fatigued, but I'm sure taper will clear that up. I focused on fueling properly (maybe that's why I get so tired in races?!) and forced myself to take 100 calories per mile. (For context, that meant 15 beans per hour, rather than the usual 5.) The distance was too short to really say, but I didn't feel any blood sugar drops nor (more importantly, honestly) any GI distress. I plan to carry this through to race day. I might vomit up a giant pink mess at 20 miles, but hopefully it will be worth it.

Monday, September 15
5 mi easy, 12:04 min/mile

My legs felt like lead after the prior long run, so I took it easy. There was a light rain, which made everything more enjoyable. I did realize that my normal route is not well-lit, and I should probably get a head lamp so I can run into the evening. (For what it's worth, the route is very safe, it just doesn't have enough street lights to make out the uneven sidewalk, so I end up high-stepping and looking ridiculous.)

Tuesday, September 16
5 mi easy, 11:57 min/mile

I ran with my co-worker (who I'm doing the 10K with in October) to help push her to five miles for only the second time. Chatting made the time fly by, and I was glad I got out there.

I'm debating what my plan is for the next week (plus the extra couple days before the marathon). Hanson's calls for a much different taper than usual. I don't disagree with their theory, I'm just not sure it's what's best for me, considering how I've been so off plan the last month.

I'm tempted to go back to Hal Higdon's taper (the Intermediate I program), since that worked well for me before. I'm only hesitant because I feel like I should get a few more miles on my legs, but I know now that I'm 10 days out, I won't really build any fitness. The hay is the barn...I'm just worried I'll lose the key before race day!

Informative picture illustrating my fitness. Thanks, Wikipedia!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Budgeting the 50 - Part One

I know this blog ostensibly has nothing to do with finance, but as an accountant, it is a big part of my daily life. I've decided to put together a Budgeting the 50 series to merge my two interests.

One of the first things I did when I signed my job offer coming out of college was to draft a detailed budget for myself. While I think it's too intense for most people - even fellow bean-counter Eager Feet Mom seemed to think it was a bit over the top - I absolutely love it.

Because I'm tracking every dollar I spend and making sure I'm in the ballpark of my estimates, I'm free to use the remainder for my marathon travels, guilt-free. (I find this especially key in months where I owe a large bill, like my car insurance, for example. I set aside the money each month, but it can still give me a mini-heart attack when my credit card statement is way bigger than normal.)

But generally, once I get someone to understand that yes, running marathons is fun and no, I'm not purposely picking the "worst" states to do first, they want to know where I'm hiding the trust fund that must be supporting this operation. I'd venture to say most people seem to think this much travel is way out of their league.

What I've come to learn is that traveling to the 50 States involves prioritizing, just like the actual training for the races does. Several other new hires started at my company the same time as me, and a particularly nosy one revealed that we all make the same amount - but these people still constantly question how I pay for my races!

I could rant all day about this, but it drives me nuts when people do this and then whine about not having money. Most people in my town own one or more purebred dogs (you should see the looks I get when I try to explain I have a mixed breed cat), a boat (we're about five miles from a sizeable lake), a place Up North, and an oversize truck or SUV (for hauling said dogs and boats to those cottages).

None of these things are inherently bad - though my accounting office parking lot tends to look like a construction site with all those F150s running around - but I found the owners of these things then like to complain how much traveling costs. I won't lie and say traveling is super cheap, but it's no more expensive than all those extra costs. It's a matter of priorities!

I made the choice to live in the second cheapest apartment complex in town. (The cheapest is not an options - not only is it loud, but one of the units blew up in a meth lab explosion this past year.) I made the choice to drive a small car and carry a higher deductible on my car insurance. I made the choice to only go out to eat once a week (excluding special occasions, of course). I make the choice to rarely buy alcohol.

And this is what lets me do what I really want. Sure, it's more expensive to have Faramir than no pet, but he's the most amazing thing ever, and I wouldn't trade him for anything. I'm able to save aggressively for retirement, a new car 10 years down the road, and for a down payment on a home. And, when that's all said and done, I still have a large travel fund waiting for me.

Now, I won't pretend this easy. It's certainly not, especially when I'm surrounded by people making other choices. (Which, again, isn't inherently bad.) Just sometimes I want to throw my hands in the air and say "Screw making a full IRA contribution this year. I want to go buy crap too!" But then I realize traveling wouldn't be as fun if I had to watch my budget more when I'm out and about.

The moral of the story is to sit down and think about what is really important to you (an extra trip each year or that bigger car) and then proactively budget to make those priorities a reality.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Weekly Recap: 9/3-9/9

I thought about tagging this as another Hanson's Marathon Method post, but I realized I've been half-assing my half-assed training for these last few weeks, so I don't think what I've done is a true enough reflection of the plan to count it as such. So this will sit here as a sad, lonely weekly recap. (But if I crack the whip and keep up with my plan to post on a schedule, it will soon be joined with other friends!)

Wednesday, September 3

No clue what I did. I think I worked late because of close. Thug accountant life.

Thursday, September 4
1 mi WU
3.1 mi simulated 5K
1 mi CD (walked)
5 mi total

I left work earlier than I probably should have, but it was my birthday, and I didn't feel particularly enthusiastic about celebrating by staying past 7 PM. Instead I went home and ran a simulated 5K in 28:28. This was an awesome birthday present to myself.


My legs were wiped after the "race" the night before, but I had every intention to run, until I stayed at work until 8:30 and didn't get home until after dark. I laid on my couch instead and watched college football so awful I thought the announcers were going to piss themselves in excitement when one team got a first down.

6 mi easy, 12:20 min/mile

My legs were still tight and tired from Thursday (which I took as a good sign that I had truly pushed myself), so I didn't worry about pace. I went out with just enough time before the MSU football game because my pre-game nerves were so bad. Yes, we lost, but I'm glad we looked competitive for three quarters. (Unlike me on my run.)


I was scheduled to do a long run, and there was beautiful weather, but after sleeping 12 hours straight - which I needed so badly - and working from home for a few hours, I had no interest in losing any more free time from my day.

5 mi easy, 12:16 min/mile

Legs were still tired, so I took my five mile loop easy and just enjoyed my podcasts. After listening to one about Big Sur, I'm pretty much sold on doing that for my California race...though I'm still a bit torn with doing Avenue of the Giants. Anyone have any advice?
7 mi easy, 12:11 min/mile

I was supposed to do 10 miles of strength, but I knew that wouldn't happen, so I put my big girl running shorts on and did a modified run instead of skipping it entirely. It felt nice to not worry about pace and just relax. As much as I liked having prescribed paces for every run in Hanson's, I think it burnt me out a bit towards the end. I missed being able to just run by feel.

Total Miles: 23.1 miles (ehhh)
Total Time: 4:47:41 (At least I'm getting time on my feet?)

While this doesn't look very impressive, work has been off the walls insane, so it's been tempting to just lay on the couch when I am home. I'm also having that feeling of being on the edge of overtraining after doing for Hanson's for so long, so I am trying to be mindful of my body.

Plus I actually modified my workout Tuesday, which should set me up for more success the next 17 days. Monument is right around the corner.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Simulated 5K

I don't know if it's just me, but every training cycle, at some point, I suddenly decide that I've lost all my fitness and am just an imposter slug instead of a real runner. I don't know how much of this is mental and how much is physical - I find I get extremely antsy if I go an extended period of time without racing. Maybe this is just a tangible manifestation of my psychological anxiety.

Either way, this feeling was starting to overwhelm me this week. It certainly didn't help that I was in the middle of an extremely stressful work week. I have the nasty habit of assuming everything will go wrong if just one thing does. And trust me, plenty of things went wrong at work this week. Which in my head meant my marathon - three weeks away, mind you - would also go wrong.

At the start of this training block, I ran a local 5K in 29:56. I ran the first mile way too fast and blew up the last two. I was devastated. I had run two minutes off my 5K PR and had felt like dying the whole time. Admittedly, I lost a ton of fitness between being sick twice and injured once leading up to Crossroads, but I hadn't realized how bad it was. I think I tricked myself into believing I had lost my endurance and not my speed, even though I'm perfectly aware that speed disappears first.

However, I decided a 4:20 was an achievable marathon goal. I spent all summer training with these times, but after avoiding a couple of long runs because I subconsciously realized I wouldn't hit the prescribed pace, I updated it to 4:30, and I've been feeling much better about those times.

But then I started to get nervous. Other than the disastrous 29:56, I had no recent race time to help me predict my marathon finish time. When I started drawing up a race plan for Monument, I realized I was mostly guessing at how fast I thought I could run, without any real evidence to base my assumptions on. Combine that with the antsy feeling, and I decided a 5K was in order.

I briefly contemplated running a 5K in my area this weekend, but I didn't want anything cutting into football time and didn't feel like paying through the nose since early registration would be long over. Since the anxiety was starting to get distracting at work and hurting my quality of sleep, I decided to replace my Thursday tempo run with a simulated 5K.

According to Google Images, this is what I did.
I did a very slow mile warm-up out to where I planned an out-and-back route that wouldn't require any road crossings. The halfway point would be at an intersection, so it would easy to visualize where I was without constantly staring at my Garmin.

My heart rate was already elevated even after the slow mile, mostly from nerves. I stopped to switch my podcast over to music and then took off. I decided to do at least the first half mile on feel and check in at that point. I was shocked after .5 miles to see I was running a little over 9 min/miles.

That was about how fast the first mile of that fateful 5K had been three months ago, and I was worried a similar explosion was ahead for me. But I decided to forge on. I promised myself if I needed to slow down, I would. Spoiler alert, I didn't.

The first mile, while slightly uncomfortable, was quite doable. It was the second mile where everything started to hurt. This mile is always mentally hard for me, but I always try to tell myself that once it's done, only one mile remains. I backed off a tiny bit to save some gas for that last push, so I was shocked to see I was only two seconds behind the first mile.

At this point, I was hurting pretty bad. I wanted to throw in the towel, but I knew I had to finish. Surprisingly, this was the only spot where I missed running an actual race. I think it's easier to push through this mental block when I'm surrounded by other people. This mile ended up being the same time as the first mile.

But the worst part was the last .1. I knew about where it would be, but I was surprised how much harder it was to marshal that final sprint without an actual finish line to focus on. Instead, I stared at my watch and doubled over as soon as I finished.

I had planned a one mile cooldown, though I had promised myself I could walk as much of it as I wanted. I think I could've jogged the last half mile home, but it was nice to enjoy the slower pace afterwards. I estimated my time at this point and thought I must've been doing the mental math wrong.

Needless to say, when I got home and saw I had, in fact, run a 28:28, I was ecstatic. The timing and weather of this simulated race was very similar to the last 5K I had done, so it was a true comparison of what kind of shape I'm in. Despite all my setbacks with Hansons, I had dropped my time by 1:28.

I rounded my time to 28:30, which predicts a 4:38 for the marathon distance, which translates to 10:35 min/miles. This honestly sounds a touch scary, especially since I've half-assed a lot of my long runs, so I'm going to make a conscious effort to really go slow in the first half and see how the race develops. (Though it's nice to know, knock on wood, even a slower than predicted race is highly unlikely to turn into another six hour sufferfest like my spring marathons.)

Staffed by Race Directors from across the globe.
I'm fairly settled that I will be using the Run Less Run Faster program for my next training cycle (which will start at the end of October). Right now I'm planning to take two weeks off after Stone Bridge in Illinois, only running if I want to, and then race a 5K the weekend before RLRF starts. Their program is all based on using a current 5K time, and I'm curious to see what I'm capable of on rested legs, in cool weather, and in an actual race.

Maybe I'm actually a fast (for me) runner after all.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


In honor of tomorrow being my third runnerversary, I thought I should actually get around to writing a post. (I bet I'm the first blogger to say this, ever. Please make a note.)

I know it's Wednesday, but Labor Day makes it feel like a Tuesday.
After I missed one week of a Hanson's recap, I sort of fell all the way off the wagon. Suddenly one week became a bunch. I think part of this is the fact that I'm really burned out on Hanson's, so I didn't want to think about it any more than necessary. In my hubris, I thought that I, obviously, was special enough to add mileage and intensity without a problem. LOL JK

I've amended the program for the last 3 weeks (I just threw up a little writing that), and I am more excited about it, but I'm mostly just excited to finish. I don't want to rule out trying it again, but I think I wanted a bigger consistent base first.

I think another part of the reason I didn't want to blog for awhile is I was trying to make the blog something it really wasn't meant to be. Most of the blogs I follow seem to be about attracting readers and advertising money (Please note, this isn't a criticism at all! If people want to start reading my blog in droves and send me free junk, I would be thrilled), when that wasn't my original vision for My Eager Feet. I wanted a place to chronicle doing the 50 States and to provide race reports for smaller marathons.

In getting away from my idea, I got sick of it. But now I've realized I'm failing in what I originally wanted to do. I wanted to create somewhere people could come and realize the 50 States was totally doable and a great goal, but if I never talk about it, that won't work, will it?

I've also missed having a creative outlet to write. I wish I were crafty, but since every craft I've ever made could be featured on Pintrest Fails, this is what I've got to work with.
I'd give the creation on the right a solid B-.
So, in an attempt to hold myself accountable, I'd like to plan on posting twice a week - Wednesdays and Saturdays. (These days will most likely change when I start a new training plan, but we'll roll like this for now.) Maybe when I practice more, I will post more, but I know I should start small. (See, I'm learning!)

Wednesdays will be my week in training, but Friday will be open to whatever I want. If any readers out there want to see something covered, just give a shout. I appear to have two of you a day, so your topic will be right at the top of the list.

The one thing from other blogs I do want to get better at is taking photos. I don't think I'll ever be a selfie person, but I really don't photograph anything. So, in an attempt to remedy that, I'm going to participate in Project 365 (better late than never!) starting tomorrow (my birthday). Hopefully when I'm done, I'll have a cool look back on my 23rd year. And maybe some pictures for the blog instead of more e-cards.

Now that I'm done rambling about this behind-the-scenes nonsense, we can move onto running. In some big news, Michael and I have selected our 2015 marathons and are registered for all the ones that are open! We will be doing Myrtle Beach, Knoxville, Blue Ridge, Hatfield-McCoy, Missoula, and Breakers (which is now Healthcare United or some garbage, but I'm going to keep calling it Breakers). This also means I'll be able to join the 50 States club at the end of March!

I've also registered to go to Turkey and run the Antalya Marathon! My best friend is off teaching English in Georgia (the Republic, not the state), and she just so happens to speak Turkish, so we are going to meet there and have amazing fun, and not get killed by the PKK, if Eager Feet Mom is reading this.
Pictured: zero terrorists.
In the back of my mind, I would eventually like to do the Seven Continents, so this will be perfect to get Asia out of the way. Plus it's among the mountains on the Mediterranean Sea and is organized by Germans. Could it get any better? And the cut-off time is five hours, so it's great motivation to get my butt into shape during winter. I'm not going halfway across the world to DNF.

Oh yeah, and the Monument Marathon is creeping up on me. I'm super excited to go out West (finally!) this year. And I'm hoping now that I did some real training, the race will not turn into a six hour sufferfest. I even am hoping for a PR. (The insane spreadsheet a made with my race plan says it's possible, even with a very conservative strategy.) I'm starting to get the haven't-race-in-awhile crazies and am doing a pretty good job convincing myself otherwise, so we'll see when we get out there. I'm hoping low humidity and cool temperatures plus some awesome scenery will inspire me to get it.

I guess I will just play with Faramir for the next 24 days to keep my mind off it.

Photo: My name is Faramir, and I mope around like I'm dying until Mommy puts the air on, then I cry until she opens the patio door so I can play outside in the heat.