Sunday, December 13, 2015

Off-season Recap: Week Four

What amazing weather we had this week! It was in the 50's and 60's every day, and I tried to enjoy every moment outside as much as possible. It's supposed to cool down to more seasonable temperatures this week, and I know it will be a long time until standing outside is enjoyable again.

We've also made some progress on wedding planning: (I promised I wouldn't turn this into a wedding blog - but I feel much less stressed now.) I finally ordered The Dress, which gave me a giant stress headache, but I'm really excited to get like two months.

We also finally got a roofer to come do an estimate for us on a few things, namely a missing apex shingle. He was awesome and actually noted a few other problems, including an old bee hive that had pushed out part of our siding. I swear, after knowing about that plus the giant hornet's nest this summer, I might just wear a beekeeper's suit outside next year come spring.

Sunday, December 6
Winter Warm-up Hike (CVNP), 6.7 mi

It was actually cold in the morning when we started this hike, even though it warmed up later in the day to the high 50's. The hike combined three trails on a really enjoyable (and easy to remember/follow) loop I definitely want to do again on my own! The first trail was the cross-country trail, and a lot of it went through open fields covered in heavy frost. Since it wasn't horrifically cold, it was magical.

Monday, December 7
Zombies, Run Season One, Mission Four, 3.1 mi easy

My legs were pretty tired from the longer hike the day before, but the story of the app kept me engaged and the run enjoyable.

Tuesday, December 8
NTC: Wipeout, 30 mins

This was a repeat of the first NTC workout I ever did, and it felt a lot better than the first time, even though it still killed me. I get a lot of anxiety when doing a new workout where I don't know exactly what to expect, so having a better idea of the sequence this time around, I felt more in control.

Wednesday, December 9
Zombies, Run Season One, Mission Five, 2.9 mi easy

I set out for the run with hat and gloves, and took the gloves off halfway and could've easily lost the hat too, except I hadn't bothered to put my hair up. I'm doing a pretty good job about not over-dressing, at least based on the few other people I've seen out there, but it's still weird to go out uncovered in December!

Thursday, December 10
NTC: Body Buffer, 45 mins

This workout was so hard! It was long enough that it could really hit upper body, lower body, and core until all three were spent. I feel like this workout buffered me right into the ground.

Friday, December 11
Zombies, Run Season One, Mission Six, 2.7 mi easy

The weather was gorgeous out! My legs were pretty stiff from the day before, and the gentle run really helped loosen them up.

Saturday, December 12
Extreme Hiking (Brecksville Reservation), 8.1 mi

I'm not sure what classified this hike as "extreme," other than the length, but it was awesome! The ranger led us on a circuit of the large reservation, and I'm bummed I didn't pay enough attention to be able to recreate it on my own. I wore my MSU shorts (and a t-shirt!) because it was in the 60's, and a naturalist with the Metroparks noticed, and it turns out she was a Spartan too! I spent a lot of the hike with her, and hearing all about her work was so interesting. (Which is always fun to follow up with being an accountant!)

Run Miles: 8.7 mi
Hike Miles: 14.8 mi
Weights Time: 1:15
Total Time: 8:16

I'm really pleased with how active I was this week again, even with only three days of running! I know most people keep up a long-ish run in the off-season, but the hiking so far has been a great substitute. All the hikes have had at least 600 feet of elevation gain, and they force me to work lots of different muscles, so I'm getting awesome time on my feet without as much impact. Plus, hiking is just so much fun! I'm almost a bit sad we're going back to Michigan for Christmas and New Year's, because I'm missing out on several awesome hikes!

I might just have to drag my family out on some trails there!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Off-season Recap: Week Three

I know it's not related to running, but I would be remiss if I didn't start this post with the highlight of my week - Michigan State made it into the College Football Playoffs! 8 PM New Year's Eve with face off with Alabama, and I couldn't be more excited!

But back to my own sports (if you can call it that). This week went really well. I busted out the Zombies, Run and Nike Training Club apps to give myself a bit of structure. Zombies, Run is super fun! I'm always looking forward to my runs to find out the next part of the story. Are there any other immersive story apps like this? Because I want them all.

On the other hand, Nike Training Club totally kicked my butt! I wasn't expecting it to be easy, but I usually lay on the basement floor for a couple minutes after each one trying to catch my breath. Michael did a couple with me, and he agreed they were tough! I think it would be hard to do these during marathon training because they make me so sore, but they're great to build some strength for the off-season!

Sunday, November 29
Turkey Burner (South Chagrin Reservation), 5.3 mi

I drove about a half hour to the east side for this post-Thanksgiving hike. It was a beautiful day, and we hiked several different loops around the park, using the bridle trail to connect as needed. The only bummer was we didn't cover as much mileage as I hoped because of some pretty out-of-shape people that slowed down the hike. (I'm not trying to say at all they shouldn't have come out - I just wish they would've stayed in back with the sweeper volunteer, instead of hiking with the ranger and forcing her to slow down.)

Monday, November 30
Zombies, Run Season One, Mission One, 3.2 mi easy

What an action-packed intro! I was hooked on the app immediately.

Tuesday, December 1
NTC: Wipeout, 30 mins

This workout had a ton of arms, and mine felt like jelly at the end! I have to do this again this upcoming week, and I am scared!

Wednesday, December 2
Zombies, Run Season One, Mission Two, 2.9 mi easy

My legs were really sore from the day before, so it was nice to run for time instead of distance. (I know - who am I?!)

Thursday, December 3
NTC: Mean Machine, 45 mins

I roped Michael into doing this one with me, and I think we both felt liked Broken Machines at the end.

Friday, December 4
Zombies, Run Season One, Mission Three, 2.6 mi easy

I had a close encounter with some deer on this run. There is a long, narrow field that cuts through our subdivision where the power lines run, and a huge buck likes to hang out there with his two ladies. He's cantankerous at the best of times, and it's the tail end of rut right now. Luckily, my head lamp picked up their eye shine when they came bounding up, but I still waited almost a whole minute for the buck to cross. I'm glad I saw them, otherwise we would've been only a foot or two apart - scary!

Saturday, December 5
NTC: Circuit Challenge, 30 mins

This workout felt like the easiest out of all three I've tried so far, but it still got my HR way up! It was a good distraction waiting for the football game, however.

Run Miles: 8.7 mi
Hike Miles: 5.3 mi
Weights Time: 1:45
Total Time: 5:49

My total time was down a lot this week because I only devoted 30 minutes to being active each day, instead of 60, since I'm moving back to higher impact activities. I also hiked less, which makes up a lot of the total!

I'm really, really enjoying this break. It's also helped me discover how much cool hiking there is within 30 minutes of my house! Without even trying, I'm able to do a group hike for fitness at least once a weekend - and it's the winter season for programs! I love hiking, so I plan to incorporate it into my next training cycle. Everything I can find on the Internet says not to, but it makes me so happy, I'm going to find a way! (If you have any tips or ideas on how to do this, please let me know!)

We've also signed up for three marathons for 2016 - the Coastal Delaware Running Festival in April, Shires of Vermont in May, and Route 66 in November. We are planning to do White River in November as well, as a double with Route 66. It will be our first, and we're looking forward to it!

Northeast Ohio has also really lucked out with some very mild weather as of late, and it should continue. The lake isn't supposed to freeze for a long time because of El Nino, so once it gets below freezing, we're going to get more snow than normal, so I plan to enjoy this as long as I can!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Off-season Recap: Week Two

Week two of my off-season really flew by! I'm sure it's partly because of the holiday week, but I can't believe it's already time to start adding in running and strength training again. We were blessed with beautiful weather, and I feel like I took advantage of it as much as I could.

I'm also very pleased that my bothersome right leg seems back to normal. Two weeks ago, I would notice some twinges while hiking. It wasn't pain, or even discomfort, but I could tell it still wasn't quite right. But I realized after my hike in Friday that I hadn't felt it at all. If running this week aggravates it again, I will back off, but I'm feeling very hopeful about my recovery!

Sunday, November 22
Hiking the Hills (Cuyahoga Valley NP), 6.3 mi

This was a very enjoyable hike on a portion of the Buckeye Trail, and it included lots of hills, as the name suggests! It sounds like one ranger leads a similar series of hikes year-round (though the name changes based on the season), so there were lots of repeat hikers, and the rangers was very popular. We also got to do a short off-trail section, which was pretty fun.

Monday, November 23
Yin Yoga for Neck, Shoulder, & Upper Back Tension Relief
Yin Yoga for Deep Relaxation and Stress Relief

I knew I would be doing more hiking in the days ahead, so I made sure to spend some time on my mat.

Tuesday, November 24
1 Hour Yin Yoga Full Class - All Levels Total Body Stretch

Wednesday, November 25
60 min walk

I got dismissed early from work at 1:30 (woohoo!), so I made sure to get out for a long walk in the sunshine. It was very pleasant in the 50's, and it was great to get some vitamin D. Afterwards, I did some Thanksgiving cooking, with a lot of time on my feet, so I was pretty tired by the time I went to bed!

Thursday, November 26
Yin Yoga for a Deep Stretch - 45 Minute Full Class for Flexibility

We didn't have to leave for Thanksgiving until 12:15, so it was nice to have a lazy morning.

Friday, November 27
Black Friday Hike (Cuyahoga Valley NP), 5.9 mi

This was another hike on a section of the Buckeye Trail. We finished about five seconds before it started raining. Thanksgiving is fun, and a great time to see family, but it was so nice to take a couple hours for myself in the morning and spend them outside in the fresh air.

Saturday, November 28
Yin Yoga for Runners - Hips and Hamstrings
Yin Yoga for Neck, Shoulder, & Upper Back Tension Relief

I did these videos while watching some late-night college football, which seemed like an excellent way to close out our three day Thanksgiving celebration. (Obviously, I had today off too, but I've mostly spent it taking care of stuff around the house!)

Walk Miles: 3 mi
Hike Miles: 12.2 mi
Yoga Time: 4:02
Total Time: 9:47

I'm really pleased with how much active time I had again this week! I don't know why I ever thought I would have to be a couch potato if I stopped running, because it's not true at all.

I did consider whether I truly wanted to add in running and strength training this upcoming week, or if I only felt compelled to because I had set that timetable before the marathon. While going for walks and doing lots of yoga has been super fun and relaxing, I have found myself craving a bit more intensity. It's been a bit harder to fall asleep a night, and I've missed the feeling of breaking a good sweat.

For this week, I am planning to run three days, strength train three days, and hike one day. I downloaded the Zombies, Run app, as well as the Nike Training Club app, and I'm hoping these "programs" will give me enough structure to keep me happy, without making me feel like a slave to a training plan!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Off-season Recap: Week One

This week marked the beginning of my "off-season" from training. We haven't signed up for 2016 races yet, but our first race is pretty well decided. I won't need to jump back into marathon training again until January 4th (starting around the New Year makes me happy because I'm OCD like that!), so that means I have six whole weeks to fill.

I was worried about feeling lost, but so far I am having an absolute blast. After focusing on training for so long, it's fun to use my fitness to be active - just because. I'm waiting at least two weeks to start running again to allow my leg time to fully heal, and I'm more than okay with taking more time off running if needed. My goal is to be 100% again when 2016 hits, and if not running is what I need to do, not running is what I need to do.

Until then, I have been going for walks, hitting up my yoga mat, and fitting in hikes when I can (which basically means the weekends, since it gets dark at 5 now...). While I have the itch to run, it's also nice to give myself a break. I've been listening to an audiobook on my walks (I can't focus enough on them when I run), I've been watching funny videos while doing yoga (I know, I know, not the best way to do yin yoga but it makes me happy), and spending a lot of time on my feet at a low HR while hiking. I'm also developing some new hiking callouses to go along with my running callouses, so my feet will look absolutely spectacular soon!

Sunday, November 15
1.2 mi walk
Yin Yoga for Runners - Hips & Hamstrings

We flew home around 9 AM from Atlanta and were home before 12, even with a stop to pick up a pizza, which was a nice travel day for a change. We had plenty of time to unpack, do laundry, and run to the grocery store. I made sure to fit in a walk and some yoga - both were slow and gentle after racing the day before, but I felt surprisingly good Monday!

Monday, November 16
1.4 mi walk
Yin Yoga to Restore and Reboot

Tuesday, November 17
1.4 mi walk
Yin Yoga for Anxiety and Stress

I read some creepy SAR stories posted online around Halloween (I don't why I thought this would be a good idea, since sometimes even the old Scooby Doo can be too scary for me), and I've been getting the willies about going to wooded areas alone ever since. This is a bit of a problem because I'm surrounded by woods when I walk and run. I decided to face my new, stupid fear by walking through the wooded patch right by my house.

My new headlamp is excellent, but I didn't realize how creepy seeing eye-shine would be. Two deer were standing right off the path, on eye level with me, and picking up their eyes just about gave me a heart attack. But I did feel less creeped out afterwards. (Though I had some rational fear because I'm pretty sure one was a buck and it is rutting season, the last thing I want is to get gored!)

Wednesday, November 18
1 Hour Yin Yoga Full Class - Total Body Stretch for All Levels

It was incredibly windy outside and started pouring as soon as I got home, so I opted to just spend the evening on my mat.

Thursday, November 19
3 mi walk

I went for an hour long walk Thursday since I didn't go out Wednesday. It was still pretty windy and cold, but not nearly as bad as the day before.

Friday, November 20
Yin Yoga for a Deep Stretch - 45 Min Full Class for Flexibility

I didn't quite get in a full hour of activity because MSU had a basketball game at 7. Yes, it is now the time of year when our random basketball schedule dictates my life! However, I did fully get into square pose (which apparently is the real name for what I've always called half lotus) on my right side, which blew my mind. Maybe I'm getting a bit more room in my hips.

Saturday, November 21
Extreme Hiking (Mill Stream Run Reservation), 6.8 mi

This was my first group hike out of several I have planned in the coming weeks. It was at one of the two mountain biking trails in the Cleveland Metroparks system, which made it interesting for hiking, since it is built specifically for biking. (Hiking, in either direction, is always allowed when it's open, though the bikers have to go one direction. I'm surprised this is the case, because it seems like a recipe for disaster, especially when the leaves are out and visibility ahead on the trail is super low.)

I spent half the hike stuck behind a group of three of the loudest women ever and can now tell you about all their drama. My favorite was when one of them complained that someone who wanted to join her masters rowing team was too out of shape, yet none of them could keep up with the ranger. It was interesting to count how many people sidled past them when we took a break. Once I snuck around them, the hike was much more enjoyable.

I'm really glad there was a ranger leading this, because the trails were confusing, plus we took a hikers-only connector trail that is not on the map. I'm not sure I would call the hiking "extreme" after what I've done in other parks, but hiking on a trail not specifically designed for hiking was a fun challenge. It sounded like the ranger changes up the configuration, so I will definitely check this hike out again when it's offered.

Walk Miles: 7 mi
Hike Miles: 6.8 mi
Yoga Time: 3:36
Total Time: 8:56

Looking back on this week, what I'm most surprised about is my total time, which is near what I get to during peak training weeks. But I feel so good after nine hours this week because it was also spent on low to no impact activities done at a low HR. I've always thought taking a break would mean having to spend lots of time on the couch, but that's not the case at all.

This coming week I have three hikes scheduled, so I will probably spend some extra time on my yoga mat. The rumor is I get to leave work incredibly early Wednesday, so I will probably get outside some extra time then and enjoy the (predicted) sun.

I will try to get my Chickamauga race report up this week, but in case I don't, I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon: Week 14 (Lots of Rambling, Little Running)

I'm once again really bummed to report that my bum leg derailed yet another week of training. I did specifically opt for more rest, hoping to feel better for my race on Halloween. I ended up only running on Saturday and rested the other days.

I did feel much better on Saturday, but still not really the same. The pain is now tolerable enough to run, and I can run much more normally, rather than limping and hobbling along. However, that certainly doesn't mean I'm healthy.

I don't want to spoil anything for this coming week's recap, but when I tried to run yesterday, my heart rate was once again sky high, I assume from my body processing the stress of the leg while trying to maintain what is normally my easy pace. I think the leg will stretch out and be better after about 5-7 miles, but it's not ideal.

Obviously, I'm pretty upset and disappointed that I put in such a good training cycle and was in such good shape, only for it all to fall apart at the end. I'm still contemplating what my race strategy will be, and I have some ideas about how I will tackle marathon training in the future, both of which I will hopefully cover in future posts. Either way, the chiropractor thinks weak and inactive glutes are the root cause - which seems perfectly reasonable to me - so I will be making some sort of home glute routine to try to prevent this from popping up again.

However, I thought I would be more distraught than I am. Even though running long distances can sometimes feel like a chore, I guess I really do love the training, if not getting a pay-off at the end doesn't bother me all that much. I know I will be able to complete the marathon under the time limit and most likely can't cause any significant harm. If I couldn't race at all, I would be much more upset!

I do have, most likely, a six week "off-season" coming up after Chickamauga, and I'm already planning fun, active things to fill it with, which I think is really helping my mental state. There's so many cool outdoor things to do here, and I feel like I've ignored them all because of marathon training. This could probably be a whole post by itself, but I plan to take a lot more advantage of these opportunities in the off-season, and hopefully find a way to incorporate them even when I start training again, ie - maybe do a ranger-led hike instead of run.

I'm also beginning to contemplate what I'll have to do once it snows. I'm thrilled to work so close to the Towpath now, but it is not plowed in the winter. I also have a feeling the farm roads around our house where I have been doing almost all my running will be lowest priority on the plow list. I don't mind running in our neighborhood, but the most you can do in a loop is about two miles, or three via an out-and-back. This is fine, but this will probably get really old!

Luckily, there are lots of options for winter sports really close by, plus lots of chances to get instruction! I would love to learn how to snowshoe and cross-country ski, because I think they would be really good, fun substitutes for running, and are much lower impact. While it looks like snowshoes can bit a tad pricey, cross-country skis are way cheaper than I ever expected, so if I want to invest in these as choices, it won't break the bank. There are super affordable rental options nearby for both (like $5/day for snowshoes and $15/day for skis affordable!), so I plan to try them out once we get some snow. Skiing under the stars on the Towpath after work sounds pretty magical to me!

Run Miles: 3.1 mi
Total Time: 28:04

Sorry for this post and its many tangents, but I feel like it was a lot more interesting than regaling you with all the ways I'm icing my leg with a bag of carrots. If you do winter sports and have any tips/suggestions/ideas, please let me know! Because basically the only thing I can do right now is snow tube - not exactly perfect cross-training!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Dead Sprint 5K Recap

I've talked about it many times on the blog before, but one of my favorite running things is holiday-themed races. I'm on the fence about doing the Cleveland Turkey Trot because we're helping Michael's aunt with Thanksgiving this year, and I don't want to be cavorting downtown if I'm needed elsewhere. And since Halloween is on a Saturday this year, I decided I needed to work in a race for that holiday!

My goal and/or hope was to PR this race. If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that didn't happen. I'll analyze the race a little further on in this post.

The race was held at a bar called West Park Station in Cleveland, though it is basically in the swankier West Side suburbs, rather than Cleveland proper. The race didn't start until 9 AM and was only a half hour away, so I was able to sleep in relatively late for a race day (about 7:30 AM).

We haven't been running our heat (to save money), so it felt really cold when I got up, and I grabbed my hat and gloves, but when I stepped out of the garage, it was actually very pleasant! It was 50 degrees, but it didn't have that "chilly" feeling. I ended up running in just shorts and a t-shirt and was very comfortable, though almost everyone else was layered up. It's been seasonally warm here, so I think we're all still in that stage with overdressing on accident.

I arrived at the race site around 8:30 AM and parked at the Walgreens next door (shh...) and waited about two minutes for my race packet. I got the last small shirt (score!!), but they were ordering more shirts for the sizes they had run out of, which I always appreciate. I was planning to wear the shirt to pass out candy, so I was really glad they had my size! They are long-sleeve cotton shirts, which I think are my favorite type of shirt to get from a race - so comfy and cozy!

For a unisex, it fits surprisingly well!
I took my stuff back to the car and got my bib pinned on. I then dipped back into the bar to use the indoor(!!) bathrooms. The bar was also hosting a discounted mimosa/bloody mary bar for runners after, but I didn't stick around for that (which it turns out I should have...more on that in a minute).

They sent us out to the start about five minutes before hand, and while it was a little cool waiting, and I was far from miserable. I ended up standing next to this guy who asked for the time, which I was happy to provide him, but then he kept craning his head to look at my watch about every 30 seconds, which I had pick up satellites, so the time wasn't even showing anymore. It was strange!

The race started without much fanfare. I'm very happy with where I placed myself, since I have a history of starting too far back. I only had to weave around a few people, then I was in a good spot. I wasn't sure of how fast I could run, so I hung on to a guy pacing about 8:50. He was going very sure and steady and seemed comfortable at that pace, so I two stepped behind him for the first mile and a half. The pace felt hard, but I was able to keep my breathing under control.

However, after about the halfway point, my legs were just done. I lost my rabbit but was surprised to see I was holding about the same pace - he must have sped up (because he had a better pacing strategy than hanging with a random stranger, ahem).

After the second mile, the wheels came off. I'm sure it's been the time off due to injury, but my legs could not turn over and my heart rate was sky high. I kept backing it off incrementally to see if I could catch my breath, and I ended up dropping to an almost 10 min/mile pace. There was a point where sitting on the curb and crying sounded good. It sounds so melodramatic now, but I just hurt at a pace that should've been comfortable.

With a half mile to go, we turned back to the main street, which would take us to the last .1 of the course. I felt like slowing had allowed me to recover fairly well, so I started to pick it back up. I imagined "changing gears" and picked it up in spurts, letting each increase settle in before going again. It was hard, but with my heart rate back under control, I felt better.

The last .1 was a straight shot and I focused on doing a controlled acceleration through the finish.

Time: 28:04

There was water, bananas, and granola bars easily accessible right across the line, and I helped myself and watched people finish for awhile. A lot of people dressed up, and it was really fun! But I felt really tired and nauseous. Now that I've had a chance to think over the race, I've started questioning whether it was really a physical issue that held me back, or if it was more mental. But, to me, wanting to puke is a good benchmark, so I feel like I did really give it my all.

I'm disappointed I didn't PR, and I just left the race afterwards, instead of staying for awards. I told myself I was cold, but I easily could've grabbed my coat from the car and gone back inside. The racing company posts results in real time, and I thought fleetingly I should check them, but I moped my way home instead.

Imagine my surprise and disappointment when I saw later I had placed third in my age group! I'm hoping I might be able to pick it up at one of the Fleet Feet stores, but we'll see.

I'm feeling a little down because I was hoping a big PR would prove I had gained a ton of fitness this training cycle. However, I realize I should have recognized that taking a few weeks off throughout to treat my leg, while being the smart decision, would affect my performance. I also need to keep in mind I've been training for a marathon, not a balls to the wall 5K, as it were.

I am taking heart in the fact that my last .1 was at a 7:20 pace, and it didn't feel like a wild out-of-control sprint. For reference, the last bit of the Jog into Spring 5K, where I got my current PR, was an 8:35 pace and felt like death. I think I have more speed than I showed today, I just didn't have the endurance to put it all together.

Hopefully I will be able to clean my running up the next two weeks for Chickamauga!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon: Week 13

I'm just going to get it out of the way and say this week wasn't quite perfect, but I'm happy with what I got done considering my injury. I made it through everything except my 20 miler. My leg was really hurting Saturday, and while it was really hard for me to give the run up, I knew I needed to focus on getting healthy. I think I've made really good progress this training cycle and want to be able to test myself on Halloween at my 5K, which I can't do if I'm hobbling along.

But the good news is I found a great chiropractor less than 10 minutes from work who was able to fit me in Friday morning. She gave me some physical therapy exercises to do on my own to strengthen my glutes, and then did ART on my quads, hip flexors (major ow!), and IT band. I felt tons of immediate relief afterwards, though I might have undone a lot of the good by doing my 10 mile tempo run after work. However, I am seeing her tomorrow and I'm committing to resting until I heal, even if it means I don't run again until my 5K.

My leg does feel significantly better today though. We did engagement photos today and did a lot of walking off-trail/climbing on rocks/sitting and standing up from the ground, and I had basically no pain the whole time. I also mowed the lawn this morning and was fairly comfortable. I have another ART torture session tomorrow after work, and I might get another one before the weekend if I need it. I'm bummed I once again won't have a full, real taper, but what can you do?

Sunday, October 18

Monday, October 19
5 mi easy (11:36 min/mile)

I thought I was going slower than normal because of my achy leg, but this run was super windy, so it might not have been just my body.

Tuesday, October 20
8 mi easy (11:26 min/mile)

My leg hurt pretty badly for the first four miles, but after that it loosened up and was actually alright.

Wednesday, October 21
4.8 mi hills

My IT band was really cranky during the WU, but after that, it was fine, I assume because I run hills more up on my toes. My legs felt so tired during this workout! I had to bargain with myself that if I finished, I would never have to run hills again. Obviously this is not true, but it worked at the time.

Thursday, October 22

Friday, October 23
1 mi WU, 8 mi @ 9:54 min/mile, 1 mi CD

I went to run on the Towpath after work (it's now seven minutes away from me!), and it was awesome! (Well, other than my leg hurting for the first five miles....) After about three miles, the path heads away from the road and into the woods, with the canal on one side and the Cuyahoga River on the other. It was spectacular with the fall colors, and I saw a lot of wildlife, including an otter, which I thought was super cool!

Saturday, October 24

I skipped my planned 20-miler because my leg was pretty bad. I tried to convince myself I was okay, but I was basically limping around the house, and Michael helped me see running 20 miles on that would not help the situation get any better.

Run Miles: 27.8 mi
Total Time: 5:02

Obviously I'm not thrilled my last week was not "perfect," but I'm at the point where I'm sick and tired of running injured. I wish I had known the injury would persist when it first started so I could've sought out a chiropractor sooner, but I'm glad I'm getting in now three weeks before my marathon, while I still have time to heal and get care. If I can get to a place of no to minimal pain by Saturday morning for my 5K, I will be ecstatic.

Speaking of the 5K, I am super nervous. I have definitely gained a lot of fitness since the start of my training cycle (and before I started, I got a 5K PR), so I know I should be in PR shape, but I'm so nervous for the race. I think part of it is knowing how much racing a 5K hurts, but I'm also putting a lot of pressure on myself to see a big improvement. I guess we'll see how much fitness I've gained!

But now it's taper time!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon: Weeks 11 & 12

Hello, once again, from the long delayed world of the injury doldrums - round two. While resting for a week definitely helped heal my leg somewhat, the pain came back again and necessitated some more time off. My focus right now is to get through my last real week of training and make it to my taper. I'm bummed I might not really get to enjoy taper, but hopefully those three weeks will allow me to heal completely.

In other news, my new job is awesome! Learning a whole new industry (again...) is hard, but I feel like I'm starting to get the hang of things and can do some tasks on my own now like a real person. My team is great and really friendly. It's so refreshing to enjoy work again, and I'm amazed how much better I feel when I get home, especially since my commute is so short. (I worked more than eight hours today and still made it home before five. It's like magic!

Sunday, October 4

Monday, October 5
5 mi easy (10:59 min/mile)

This was my first run in my new shoes, and they felt awesome! Having fresh, thick cushioning underfoot made for a much gentler ride. I moved up from the Wave Rider 17s to the 18s. The bottom is exactly the same, but the upper changed enough I went from a 7.5 to an 8. They feel a bit like clown shoes.

Tuesday, October 6
8 mi easy (10:56 min/mile)

This was my last day at my old job, so I left early and got home early enough to do the whole run in the sunlight. It was beautiful.

Wednesday, October 7
4.8 mi hills

Once again, I had six sets of hills on the menu. I won't lie and say it wasn't hard, but I realized around the fifth set my breathing, while heavy, was actually pretty controlled, and my legs didn't feel really beat until the last set. This is a long way from when two sets wiped me out pretty hard! I don't want to get cocky, but I certainly feel very prepared for the hills at this race.

Thursday, October 8

Friday, October 9
1 mi WU, 8 mi @ 9:53 min/mile, 1 mi CD

My sleep patterns got really messed up on my days off (I wanted to stay up ALL THE HOURS, and then felt like all the crap during the day). I could really feel the lack of sleep eating at me on this run, but nothing was wrong, so I pushed through. I guess it was good mental training?

Saturday, October 10
20 mi long (11:21 min/mile)

I felt like I nailed my nutrition this run and never got in a bad mental place. The last five miles were a bit tricky since it was dark enough I had to do smaller laps in the neighborhood. The last two to three miles really taxed me mentally. I wanted to be done so badly because my legs were just so tired, but I knew that was the whole point, and nothing hurt, so I kept going. I was pretty done when I got home, but super proud of myself!

Run Miles: 47.8 mi
Total Time: 8:41

Sunday, October 11

Monday, October 12
5 mi easy (11:14 min/mile)

I didn't make any notes for this run, which means I think this is when my leg started hurting again, but I didn't want to admit it.

Tuesday, October 13

I got stuck at work a bit late training, and then I had to go across Cleveland to see the Hobbit Extended Edition in theaters. (Yes, yes, I know.) I didn't have enough time to run, and I certainly wasn't about to skip my movie to do it.

Wednesday, October 14
Yoga for Runners - A Stretch for the IT Band

I spent all day trying to hide a pronounced limp at work (rather successfully, I might add!), so I decided maybe running wasn't the best option for me.

Thursday, October 15

Friday, October 16
Yoga for the IT Band and Outer Hips
IT Band Healing Yoga
20 Minute Deep Stretch Yoga for the Hips and Quads
Yin Yoga for Runners - Hips and Hamstrings

My leg was really painful, so I tried every IT band/hip yoga video I could find. I'm not sure how much any of them really helped.

Saturday, October 17

But don't worry - I got my heart rate up with the best play ever in college football. Seriously, if you did not see the ending of the Michigan-Michigan State game, go watch it. I highly recommend the version with the MSU radio broadcast cut on top, since our color commentator completely loses his mind (as well he should). I think Michael and I laid on the floor after the game for fifteen minutes, unable to comprehend what had just happened.

Run Miles: 5 mi
Yoga Time: 1:47
Total Time: 2:43

Looking back, I had forgotten how good my leg was two weeks ago. I was feeling a little disheartened that it flared up again, but writing this post made me feel better. I'm glad at least since it's my IT band, that I won't be able to do any permanent damage. I'm also thinking I should find if someone in the area will do ART - I have a feeling a good chiropractor could probably clear out a lot of the problem.

It's hard to believe the marathon is less than four weeks away!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon: Week 10

I dove back into training this week after taking some time off due to my achy quad. The injury isn't completely gone, but my treatment for it has helped a lot. I've been doing my fire hydrants and rolling the IT band and hip with a tennis ball every night. I still feel some discomfort when I walk and run, but it usually goes away within a minute or two. I'm confident I have it under control now, and that my taper will give it time to heal.

Speaking of taper, I only have two more hard weeks of training left! (With a step-back week in between, so taper is a little further away than I'd like to think.) While I love running, and I've loved doing a full training cycle again, I'm excited to get my two 20-milers in the books and rest up. I felt really good this week, and hopefully that will continue for the last bit.

Sunday, September 27
20 Minute Deep Stretch Yoga for the Hip Flexors and Quads
20 Minute Deep Stretch Yoga for the Hips
20 Minute Deep Stretch Yoga for the Neck and Shoulders

After Michael's parents left, I spent some quality time with my yoga mat to try and work out my quad.

Monday, September 28
5 mi easy (11:16 min/mile)

My quad felt a bit achy on the run, but I really noticed how tight my Achilles were. It was after the run that I noticed the pain was actually radiating from my IT band. I did some fire hydrants and was 100% in the morning.

Tuesday, September 29
5 mi easy (11:23 min/mile)

My legs felt like lead, but that is very normal for my second run back after a lay-off, so I wasn't worried. My breathing felt pretty heavy, but the humidity was over 90%, so again I assumed it was no big deal. There had been a lot of rain, so there were tons of frogs out. Lots of them were really small, so I felt like I was playing some sort of reverse frogger, especially as it got darker and I couldn't tell easily what was a leaf and was a frog. My shoes were clean when I got home, so I think I did okay not squashing any!

Wednesday, September 30
4.8 mi hills

I upped my hill sets from four to six. I was really nervous I wouldn't be able to finish, so I promised myself I could stop at four or five if I needed to. I thought my legs were going to fall off during the fifth, but I made it through!

When I recover at a 0% incline during the sets, I still leave the pace at my goal pace. I think this has done a really great job teaching my body to recover and lower my HR at that pace - hopefully this will pay off big on race day.

Thursday, October 1

Friday, October 2
1 mi WU, 7 mi @ 9:53 min/mile, 1 mi CD - 9 mi total

I ended up taking the day off work (I had a PTO day left), but I still waited until the evening to run because it was so windy all day. There were a few times during the tempo section my HR got really high (when I had to go uphill into the wind), but otherwise I felt really comfortable at that pace. That was a huge confidence booster!

Saturday, October 3
19 mi long (11:22 min/mile)

It rained almost the whole run (and had been raining all the previous night and during the day), but I felt really good. I thought I might be having a slight bonk around mile 12, but after about a half mile, my salt tablet kicked in and I felt fine. I noticed I wanted my fuel every mile but never felt desperate for it - I think I might have my race day nutrition nailed down! I think the key is for me to eat a lot in the day or two before. Luckily I am very good at that.

Run Miles: 42.8 mi
Yoga Time: 59:57
Total Time: 8:51

This week will be a bit interesting because Tuesday is my last day at my current job, and then I will have five days off before I start my new one a week from tomorrow. I'm really excited for that time off, but it will be interesting to not have as much structure to my days. I plan to catch up on some stuff (like actually cleaning my house), but also having a little bit of relaxation. I only get five days of PTO my first year at my new job, which is fine, but I will need to save them all for my honeymoon, so I need to enjoy some extended time off while I can.

I'm hoping to be able to drive to a few new places to run - we have so many beautiful Metroparks here that I really need to take advantage of!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Thinking Out Loud 1 - 10/1/15

Happy October, everyone!

As my job change grows ever closer, I'm getting more and more back to my old self. You know, the one that's actually interested in doing things! I had such high hopes for blogging this year and have fallen short, which is not surprising in hindsight, given moving, buying a house, moving to the house, and now switching jobs for the second time in six months. Since my energy is coming back, my goal is to get back on track for the last quarter of the year!

What better way than to try something new and do my first Thinking Out Loud post.

I know the original meme is a dog, but obviously I have to use a cat.
-I absolutely love my allergist! It took me several months and three tries to find one, but it was 100% worth the wait. Besides the shots, the best thing he did was give me a prescription of Prednisone to use on an as-needed basis. Let me tell you, that stuff is powerful, but nothing has ever made me feel so much better when my allergies are really bad. Seriously, I will feel totally normal after I take one. It's sad, but I'm way more excited for fall now that it doesn't make my head feel like it will explode.

-Apparently fall is very rainy in the CLE. I had some coworkers stop by for a chat this morning, and I asked if it was still raining. They were basically like, duh, it is Cleveland in the fall. I love the rain, especially for running, so I'm really excited about this. While it's not like mid-Michigan was a desert, storms had so long to break up as they crossed the state, that we didn't get very many big ones. (Or maybe it was the giant chemical cloud we joked about covering our city.)

-Our lawn is back to looking nice. Over my birthday weekend, we discovered a giant hornet nest (and I mean giant as in the size of a soccer ball) in one of our trees. I held off mowing and weed-whacking the backyard until we could get an exterminator out. I'm sad neither of us were home when they came because I have no idea how they safely removed that thing.

-I'm really looking forward to next week! My last day at my current job is Tuesday, so I have five days to rest and recharge. That will also happen to be one of my two heaviest training weeks, which is a nice coincidence. (Especially because my first week at my new job will be a very welcome step-back week!) I think I will get a massage some time during that time - I just can't decide: relaxing massage or sports massage?

-Once again, I'm way behind on shoe models. My Wave Rider 17s are almost at 400 miles, so I went to buy a new pair online. Only I couldn't find any because the latest model is the 19s. Whoops. I'm excited to check out a new-to-me running store this weekend and try them on. I'm 99% sure I will love them and will fit perfectly in a 7.5, but I always get nervous.

-Michigan State is (still) ranked #2 in football. It's the first time in my lifetime. Because it hasn't happened since 1966. Womp womp.

-I figured out my quad issue, and I'm pissed at myself for not realizing it sooner. Even after a week off, it bothered me Monday, but when I stopped, I realized the pain was originating from my IT band. You know, an issue I've had multiple times before. Luckily, I'm an expert at dealing with it now, so I did a few fire hydrants and woke up 100% Tuesday. Obviously I'm glad I know what's wrong and can treat it, but I'm annoyed I lost a week of training for basically nothing.

-I signed up for a Halloween race - the Dead Sprint 5K! Like I've said previously, I love holiday races, and I'm excited to see how much my marathon training has improved my fitness. I'm pretty nervous I will run a worse time than I did in May (even though all my marathon training was based off that 5K time, and I doubt I've regressed). I'm considering turning my Garmin to just show clock time so that I run based off effort and don't get in my own head.

I really enjoyed doing this brain dump of a post - I hope you guys enjoyed reading it. Sometimes I feel like I don't have very much from my day-to-day non-running life to talk about, but this was a good way to catch up!

Which type of massage would you pick?
Do you have any fun holiday races on the schedule?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon: Week 9

So, it finally happened. After a bunch of fantastic weeks of training - I finally ran into some trouble. At the very least I'm glad it happened this week, during an already scheduled step-back week.

Last spring, I took some time off for illness and then jumped back into training. My hamstrings ended up getting so tight, my quads had to do all the work and in turn got so tight I could no longer run (or even walk without hobbling). I've been foam-rolling most days, adding in some extra therapy with a tennis ball as necessary to try to avoid trashing my quads this training cycle.

However, last week, I noticed some tightness developing. It usually worked itself out less than a mile into my runs and didn't bother me, so I kept training on schedule. There was some tenderness Sunday after my long run, but Monday morning I felt 100%. Unfortunately, Tuesday I was in a lot of pain and made the decision to stop running until it healed. This was so hard for me to do, but I kept remembering how miserable it was last year, and that helped me hold strong.

I added in yoga most days this week, which seemed to help somewhat. Even if it didn't help my quad heal any faster, it really cleaned up my hips and IT bands, which can't hurt! As I write this, I notice a little bit of twinging if I pivot on my right foot without bending my knee, which won't really be something I do when I run, so I plan to start back up tomorrow. I've really missed running!

I think the problem partially stems from running on roads, which means my right foot is hitting ever so slightly higher than my left due to the camber. When I start my new job in two weeks, I plan to do some runs on the Towpath by work, which will be flat. I would prefer to train by my house to keep getting hills in consistently, but it's obviously not worth it if I will get injured. But I also seem to have noticed I hold all my work stress (which is honestly a lot) in my right quad. Hopefully when I leave my current position, that problem will solve itself!

Sunday, September 20

Monday, September 21
5 mi easy (11:02 min/mile)

I went a little too fast for this to feel truly easy, but I had just found out I was getting the job, so I couldn't help but run a little faster with all the adrenaline.

Tuesday, September 22
Yin Yoga for Runners - Hips and Hamstrings

My quad did feel better when I finished, but I really noticed my IT bands felt much better.

Wednesday, September 23
Yin Yoga for Runners - Hips and Hamstrings

Thursday, September 24

I had good intentions of doing a yoga video when I got home, but I got three shots at the allergist (my two allergy shots and my flu shot), so I just sat on the couch with my achy arms instead.

Friday, September 25
Yin Yoga for Runners - Hips and Hamstrings

This practice was slightly abbreviated because Michael's parents came.

Saturday, September 26

I watched football and ate Melt. Very important things to recover.

Run Miles: 5 mi
Yoga Time: 1:46
Total Time: 2:41

As hard as it was, I hope taking this week to rest will pay off. If the pain continues, I might schedule a sports massage to try to dig deep into the problematic tissue. Has anyone else had problems with tight hamstrings leading to tight quads? I'll take any tips!

Fall is finally here, and I'm so excited to get out in this weather and run this week! I've missed it so much, I'm actually tempted to get up and run before work tomorrow, rather than waiting all day. There is 0% chance this will happen, but I still entertained the idea!

I also am to the point I almost need a new pair of running shoes, so I'm hoping to check out a new-to-me running store this week that looks promising. The main chain by us is Fleet Feet, but all the locations seem pretty small and a bit lackluster. Hopefully this place will be a winner. I also have my eye on a Halloween 5K - I am a sucker for fall/winter holiday-themed races, even if it's in name alone, so now is prime time for me to get some scheduled!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon Weeks 6-8

So it's been a long time since I last posted. I have still been getting in my training, but some other stuff has come up in the mean time. Mostly another bout of depression (always a real treat) followed by a cold. Thankfully both are over now. The other good news is, even though my allergies are now acting up (story of my life), I finally tried the steroid my allergist prescribed for my Bad Days. I was a little hesitant to take it because I wasn't sure if the prednisone would keep me up for a week straight, but instead it just made me feel a little wired for six hours, but my allergy symptoms were completely gone. That's huge for me!

What else has happened since I last blogged? First, I had my birthday, and I had a great weekend celebrating with Michael and my parents. I'm also happy to be 23, because I feel like 22 still sounds like college age. I'm not sure why I care, since everyone who sees me will still assume I'm about 14, on a good day.

But in the biggest (and most exciting) news, I got a new job! I'm hesitant to say anything negative about work on my blog, so let's just say I already feel like a whole new person knowing I have just two weeks left in my current position. As a bonus, my commute will go from being 50 minutes one way to 20. Plus (and I'm so geeked about this), a trailhead for the Towpath is less than 10 minutes from my new office, so I'm hoping to get out there for a lot of runs after work, rather than coming home first and procrastinating.

I hope you made it through that big info dump! Now that I will have more time and be less beaten down when I get home, I'm hoping to get back into blogging regularly. Maybe I'll even recap Missoula from two months ago!

Anyway, I want to keep a record of my training for Chickamauga, but I understand if no one reads through three weeks of training! The main takeaway from this period is I've decided to cut out strength training. I'm glad I did it for some of the cycle, but it started to feel like a chore instead of fun. I know if I ever want to get to Boston, I might have to do some more chore-ish things, but right now I still want training to be fun!

Sunday, August 30

Monday, August 31
AM - 4 mi easy (11:14 min/mile)
PM - 10 min spin WU, NROLFW Stage 3A-1

Tuesday, September 1
PM - 7 mi easy (11:13 min/mile)

Wednesday, September 2
AM - 4 mi easy (11:33 min/mile)
PM - 10 min spin WU, NROLFW Stage 3B-1

I noted for this workout that my legs felt so tired and heavy from so many humid runs in a row. I am so glad fall weather is finally here!

Thursday, September 3

Friday, September 4

This has been my only unplanned rest day of the cycle. I was supposed to run seven miles, but I had my first round interview in the morning and then got stuck at work for month end. I didn't want to miss Michigan State's kickoff (priorities, people!), so I took a rest day.

Saturday, September 5
PM - 10 mi long (11:23 min/mile)

Run Miles - 25 mi
Bike Miles - 4.6 mi
Lifting Time - 2:01
Total Time - 7:06

Sunday, September 6

We celebrated my birthday with my parents by eating Melt and lemon bars. A very good day for eating!

Monday, September 7
PM - 4 mi easy (11:23 min/mile)

Tuesday, September 8
PM - 5 mi easy (11:02 min/mile)

Wednesday, September 9
PM - 3.8 mi hills

This was my second time doing four sets of hill repeats instead of two, and it was so much easier! It really shows how much of running is mental.

Thursday, September 10

Friday, September 11
AM - 1 mi WU, 6 mi tempo @ 9:55, 1 mi CD

Michael and I had a six hour drive to Illinois after work, so we got up before 6 AM to get this run in. It sucked getting up, but I actually felt great during the tempo miles since it was cooler and a lot less humid. I was very, very tired at work, though.

Saturday, September 12
AM - 16 mi long (11:22 min/mile)

Luckily our hotel was 10 minutes from a really pretty park that had a paved eight mile loop trail. It was awesome to get a change of scenery, and "only" having to do two loops made the run mentally easier.

Afterwards we headed to celebrate my grandma's 90th birthday! She was only expecting her children to be there, so all the grandchildren and great-grandchildren were a huge surprise. My grandma is one of the happiest people I know, and I'm sure her longevity is strongly related to that fact.

Then we were able to sneak away to watch the Oregon with my uncle, who is absolutely hilarious. A Michigan State win was the icing on the cake.

Run Miles - 36.8 mi
Total Time - 6:43

Sunday, September 13

Monday, September 14
PM - 4 mi easy (11:19 min/mile)

Tuesday, September 15
PM - 8 mi easy (10:56 min/mile)

The humidity was finally gone, and this run made me remember why I love running!

Wednesday, September 16
PM - 3.8 mi hills

I woke up with a cold (that I caught from Michael). It worked out okay because I had to go offsite for training, and there was a Rite Aid on the corner, so I grabbed some cold medicine and actually got out around 3:30. I went to the gym from there - I don't think the cold slowed me down, and my headache finally went away while I was running.

Thursday, September 17

I felt much worse Thursday, and I was a little annoyed because I had to skip my allergy shot. (You're not supposed to get them when you're sick, I assume so your immune system isn't further stressed.) However, it was nice just to sit on the sofa all evening.

And I just want to quickly note I'm not viewing this cold as an overtraining warning since a) I caught it from the person I live with and b) I got over it in only a few days, while it seems to be lingering for most other people.

Friday, September 18
PM - 1 mi WU, 6 mi tempo @ 9:54 min/mile, 1 mi CD

I called in sick to work because I still didn't feel well and I had my second round interview, so it was easiest to just be gone the whole day. Michael got us wings for dinner, and I ran afterwards. I was so thirsty from the wings I thought I would die, but otherwise the run felt really good.

Saturday, September 19
PM - 17 mi long (11:21 min/mile)

Well, this was the first run of the training cycle that didn't go according to plan. The last five miles were supposed to be at my goal pace, but I just didn't have it in me. I had a bit of a bonk (I suspect more from not eating enough on Friday and Saturday, rather than my fueling during the run), so I just stuck to my long run pace and didn't beat myself up about it.

Putting the last three weeks in writing is good perspective now at how much I was handling physically and emotionally, so I guess it really is no surprise I had a bit of struggle. But I just reminded myself, hey, I had run 17 miles!

Run Miles - 40.8 mi
Total Time - 7:27

So there you have it - the last three weeks of my training. I'm feeling really prepared for this marathon, and I know I still have lots of time to build on that. I'm currently debating throwing in a race to test my fitness, but I'm still not sure how to fit one in. Maybe replace a tempo run with a race and move my long run to Sunday?

This week will be a little tricky because Michael's parent are visiting (and will finally get to see our house!), but they said they don't mind at all if we run, so I think it will work out fine. And most of all I'm so excited fall is here! I forgot how amazing it is to run when it's not humid.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon: Week 5

I just want to start off this post by saying how thrilled I am with how this week went! I changed things up a little bit, which I'll get to in a second, but I ran 36 miles - and I feel great! I haven't run that kind of mileage since May. I was a little concerned how my body would react, but once again, I'm eating a ton, sleeping a ton, and nothing hurts.

I did end up cutting out weight-lifting this week. I could not get up Monday to run and regretted it all week. My whole week felt off, and I didn't want to cram in my gym sessions, so I ended up skipping them. However, NROLFW recommends taking a week off between stages anyway. I changed up my training plan to now include these break weeks, and I will finish a stage up right before taper starts, so I'm pretty sure it was a sign from the universe to cut myself a little slack! 

I also had an amazing time with my friend this weekend. I'm really glad I won't have to go another eight months (!!) without seeing her again. 

Sunday, August 23

Monday, August 24
4 mi easy (11:03 min/mile)

We finally had a day without humidity, and this run felt awesome!

Tuesday, August 25
7 mi easy (10:55 min/mile)

The neighboring town (where I actually do almost of all of my running) finally finished some major repaving projects, so another country road was finally available to me. It was a little hillier than I expected, but not too bad. I felt awesome this whole run, and I was really pleased to see I got under 11 min/miles!

Wednesday, August 26
3.8 mi hills

I was really nervous to up my hill sets from two to four this week, but I'm really proud of how I did. Two honestly felt pretty easy, so I knew I was ready for a bigger challenge. I was wiped at three, but I was able to stay strong and hold my form through all four sets. It totally kicked my butt, and I know it will be great preparation for race day.

Thursday, August 27

I left work a few hours early, got my allergy shot, and then my friend came! It was a great evening of ice cream and catching up.

Friday, August 28
1 mi WU, 5 mi @ 9:54 min/mile, 1 mi CD

I left around 9:30 to do this run (since I took the day off work), and it was only 57. However, I forgot that the areas that are normally shaded when I run in the evening would be exposed in the morning. It was still in the 60's when I finished the run, but the humidity combined with the full sun really took a toll on me. I had to use a bunch of mind games to get through all five tempo miles, and I'm proud of myself for not giving in.

Saturday, August 29
14 mi long w/ FF (10 mi @ 11:23 min/mile, 4 mi @ 9:54 min/mile)

I was really nervous almost the whole week about this run because of the fast finish. Once I actually started running, I focused on trying to relax and keep my heart rate low for the first 10 miles. During the tenth mile, the skies opened up and poured rain, to the point I could barely look up to see if there was any oncoming traffic to avoid and couldn't hear my iPod over the wind. I got really worried about how I would manage the fast finish in these conditions (but I didn't want to just give up since you never know what can happen on race day!), but luckily it cleared up when I was almost done with my slow section. It actually turned out really nice - all the salt and sweat was washed off me, so my brain seemed to think I was starting an entirely new run. I won't pretend like the last four miles were easy, and once again I used some mind games to get through them, and I never felt defeated. It took a special focus to stay on pace and my legs were pretty slow to turn over, but it was still doable!

Run Miles: 35.8 mi
Total Time: 6:26

Again, I'm so excited about what a great week I had! I'm also really, really excited for a step-back week this coming week, plus getting back in the gym. The break from weight-lifting was nice, but I do really miss it. And I'm glad I know skipping my Monday morning run will throw me out of wack - even if I feel very sleepy tomorrow - I will be dragging myself out of bed!

This week also gives me a few things to look forward to - Big Ten football starts Thursday, my birthday is Friday, and I'm making next weekend into a four day weekend! It doesn't get much better than that. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon: Week 4

Wow, it's hard to believe training for Chickamauga is 25% done! (And I'm totally making myself forget this means I still have 75% of my training plan left....)

I mentioned last week that my energy felt a lot lower during my step-back week, and, just as I hoped, I bounced right back when I upped my training again. I could definitely feel some fatigue towards the end of my long run, but otherwise I felt great! I am eating like a horse and sleeping like the dead. After overtraining horribly on Hanson's last year, I'm keeping a really careful eye on my body this cycle, and so far, so good. My main problem on RLRF was chronic tendinitis, but my frequent foam-rolling seems to keep that cleared up as well!

Sunday, August 16

Once again, I have no idea what I did this day. Probably just totally relaxed!

Monday, August 17
AM - 3 mi easy (11:11 min/mile)
PM - 10 min WU spin, NROLFW Stage 2A-4

I did some heavy duty foam rolling Sunday night, and my legs had a weird achy feeling on my run Monday morning. (Does this happen to anyone else?) But otherwise, I felt fresh and ready to go.

Tuesday, August 18
PM - 5 mi easy (11:11 min/mile)

Ok, I think my secret superpower is running the exact same pace Mondays and Tuesdays. It was still really humid out, but cooler, and Michael and I both agreed we had really comfortable runs.

Wednesday, August 19
AM - 2.8 mi hills
PM - 10 min WU spin, NROLFW Stage 2B-4

This was a very exciting day because I officially finished stage 2 of NROLFW! I'm not sure how I did the same exercises for two months on stage 1, because after one month of stage 2, I am totally ready to try something new.

Thursday, August 20

Faramir had an emergency vet visit this day. I had huge cat mom guilt because I couldn't go with Michael because I needed my allergy shot, but I really appreciate Michael taking him. We were super worried Faramir had a UTI, but it turns out he was dehydrated (we provide him with plenty of clean water, so we're not sure why he just decided to take a break from drinking). They ended up giving him a subcutaneous injection of water - the kitty equivalent of an IV - and it was so funny! When I first saw Faramir when Michael got home, he looked like a camel, with this giant hump of water on his back. But he clearly felt 100% better and was back to his old self, so we were so glad to see that.

Friday, August 21
PM - 1 mi WU, 4 mi @ 9:54 min/mile, 1 mi CD

I waited until it cooled off to head out, and I had a great run. I took on a hilly route for the tempo section, and while I definitely need more practice pacing on hills, I felt in control and strong the whole time. I think my elevation gain for the run was 1/3 of the Chickamauga course (and over a shorter distance), so this really built my confidence for race day.

Saturday, August 22
PM - 13 mi long (11:27 min/mile)

I experimented with taking a salt tablet every three miles, instead of every four, this run, and it was not something I will be doing again! By about mile 9, I felt so bloated and had some pretty uncomfortable stomach pains. I must have been retaining too much water! I also had some cramps throughout the run in my lower abdomen, and I'm not sure why. The cramping actually persisted on Sunday, so I took an iron pill to see if that helps.

I had rented a movie Friday night since Michael went out with some friends, so I carried it to RedBox to return it on my run. This was supposed to be a quick minute break, tops, until I got stuck behind the slowest people ever! Every time they found a movie candidate, the mom seriously read the entire blurb on it, It also took her three times to figure out how to get through the pay bill sequence. I just don't get some people!

Run Miles: 29.8 mi (so close to 30!)
Bike Miles: 4.8 mi
Lifting Time: 1:12
Total Time: 7:02 (but I finally broke 7 hours!)

I'm really excited for this coming week because my best friend is visiting! I'm leaving work early Thursday and taking Friday off to have an extended weekend with her. I still need to plan a few things for a us to do, but I'm hoping my HOA gets Michael and I our pool passes in the next few days so that we can lounge at the pool!

But I'm very lucky that she's super supportive of my training, so I'm not worried about fitting my runs in. I will try to get up early Friday and Saturday to get them done - which is something I always want to do, and then get lazy about when it comes down to it. 

We're also supposed to have highs in the low to mid-70s, and I'm looking forward to having some more comfortable weather!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon: Week Three

I had been really looking forward to this week, the first of my step-back weeks. I was surprised at first that my overall energy level was lower, but I think I've seen around blogs that other people experience the same effect, so I'm going to assume I will bounce back tomorrow morning.

I really gave it my all the first two weeks of training, and I enjoyed only having easy runs on the schedule this week. I stuck to my subdivision for a lot of it, since it is much less hilly than the surrounding country roads, and that built in some extra recovery. I also spent most nights catching up on sleep, which led to my next decision - I am going to cut my planned swimming out of my schedule.

Swimming is really fun cross-training for me, but I knew I needed to re-evaluate my plan when I got excited when I saw the pool would be closed at for two weeks for cleaning. I wrestled with this for a few days, feeling lazy, but I eventually recognized getting up early to swim an extra two days a week was really cutting into my sleep. And, after all, gains are made during recovery, not during the workouts! I think part of the struggle is I trained for my first marathon in college when I had a much more flexible schedule and, let's be real, a lot more free time. There's nothing wrong with recognizing I'm under different constraints now with a full-time job and a long commute.

And speaking of the commute - my office just moved about three blocks away, but it seriously saves me 15 minutes each way. That's an extra 30 minutes I've gotten back each day! It was like amazing magic on Friday (our first day in the new building), and I can't wait to experience the thrill of leaving at 5 and getting home before 6 every day this week.

This intro is getting wordy, but I guess I had a lot happen this week! I got my first round of allergy injections (yay for finally finding a great allergist!!). I've been discovering that my last allergist sort of did some shady things (but I didn't have a choice before, so I can't be blamed!). The old allergist always gave me one injection, but the new one said I'm allergic to so many things, they have to give me two a time. That's one way to make a girl feel special. (And this new allergist confirmed my suspicion was correct - despite the MI allergist saying I had a severe cat allergy, I don't have and have never had one. I gave Faramir some extra snuggles to celebrate.)

If you've napped your way through to this point, on to my actual training:

Sunday, August 9

My friend from Germany and I finally made time to catch-up, and it was great getting to talk to her again. I was also relieved that after a bit of a shaky start, my German came back pretty well! I definitely need to be better about practicing regularly.

Monday, August 10
AM - 3 mi easy (11:36 min/mile)
PM - 10 min spin WU, NROLFW Stage 2A-3

My legs felt so, so heavy on my run, so I focused on going as slow as I needed to. My last mile was a little too fast, but it was so humid out, that I just wanted to stop being covered in sweat.

Tuesday, August 11
PM - 6 mi easy (11:36 min/mile)

Apparently 11:36 min/miles were my jam this week! My legs were a little achy, but again I focused on going super slow and found the run very enjoyable.

Wednesday, August 12
AM - 3 mi easy (11:28 min/mile)
PM - 10 min spin WU, NROLFW Stage 2B-3

I felt pretty tired when I got up in the morning to run, but I was totally fine when I was out the door. I got really excited when it felt cool, but then it quickly got humid. I'm basically over summer at this point - I am ready for college football and crisp weather.

Thursday, August 13

Friday, August 14
PM - 6 mi easy (11:21 min/mile)

This was our move day at work, and it was giving me a lot of anxiety. I know it was totally silly, because all I had to do was drive to a different building, but change is hard for me. This meant I opted to sleep in and run after work. I headed out around my house and really enjoyed a change of scenery.

Saturday, August 15
PM - 8 mi long (11:22 min/mile)

I followed my fueling/salt plan from prior weeks and again noticed the salt making a big difference. However, I think if it is very humid for my next long run, I might try taking a tablet every three miles instead of four. I really enjoyed having a "shorter" long run this week.

Run Miles: 26 mi
Bike Miles: 4.7 mi
Lifting Time: 1:15
Total Time: 6:33

I thoroughly enjoyed my rest week, and I feel refreshed for the next two weeks of harder training. Having all my workouts back-loaded in the week means I can ride this feeling for a couple more days. I'm also hoping spending a lot less time in my car will give me an extra energy boost too. 

I'm just a little worried this summer weather is going to melt me first!