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!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon Training: Week Two

I was surprised last week just how hard truly putting in the work to train for a marathon is, and I was honestly a little concerned about the following 15 weeks. However, I think my body remembered much more than I gave it credit for, and this week was 100 times easier, even though it had slightly higher mileage and intensity than week 1. I'm still really excited to train, and that slightly "off" feeling I had last week is gone.

My main takeaway from this week is I really need to be serious about doing my foam rolling and stretching every single day. I slacked off here and there when I wanted to sit on my butt instead, but I found the next day would leave me achy and craving a good roll all day at work, to the point it got a little distracting. (You know you're a runner when....) I have no excuse not to spend 15 minutes every night doing those little extras.

Sunday, August 9

I honestly don't remember what I did this day, but it involved a lot of sitting around, which made for the perfect rest day.

Monday, August 10
AM - 3 mi easy (11:24 min/mile)
PM - 10 min spin WU, NROLFW Stage 2A-2

We finally had some rain overnight Sunday, so it was very pleasant out Monday morning! I even saw a hummingbird zipping by when I was in the wetland protection area.

Tuesday, August 11
AM - 320 yd swim
PM - 6 mi easy (10:55 min/mile)

I'm really surprised and pleased how fast this easy run was. When I saw my splits creeping to sub-11s, I stopped looking at my watch and focused on really going easy. The fact that this truly was a sub-11 pace was a great confidence booster!

Wednesday, August 12
AM - 2.8 miles hills
PM - 10 min spin WU, NROLFW Stage 2B-2

Last week, my hill workout felt really hard and I was discouraged about if I would ever improve, considering in two weeks I'm supposed to go from two sets of hills to four, but this time I felt great! Obviously the workout was still hard and my heart rate really got up there, but I didn't lose my form and didn't feel like I wanted to die.

Thursday, August 13
AM - 320 yd swim

Friday, August 14
AM - 5 mi tempo (1 mi WU, 3 mi @ 9:53, 1 mi CD)

I'm not sure if the heat and/or humidity were down from last week, or if I was just better rested, but this tempo run felt a million times easier than last week's! It was still uncomfortable, but I was able to just zone out to my podcasts and enjoy it, rather than counting down the seconds.

Saturday, August 15
PM - 11 mi long w/ FF (8 mi @ 11:22, 3 mi @ 9:53)

I had an allergist appointment Saturday morning and didn't feel like getting up early enough to get my long run in before then. I do really enjoy running in the evening, so it didn't bother me all that much. In the reverse of most days this week, this Saturday was much more humid than the past Saturday, and I could really feel it! 

I have started taking a salt capsule every 45 minutes on my long runs, and this time I noticed a huge difference in my energy levels and mental state. I really notice it when I get back and, while I am still sweaty and gross, I am not the abomination I once was.

I was also pretty nervous to try the fast finish Hal Higdon recommends in his plans for non-beginners. Since it was so humid and because I had had three vials of blood taken at the allergist (to confirm some things my skin test was showing), I gave myself permission to back off if necessary. I spent the whole first segment counting down until I had to speed up, which actually made those eight miles fly by.

It turns out all the worry was for nothing - I held slightly under my goal marathon pace for the last three miles without too much of a struggle. The first mile was really hard, but I found by the third my heart rate and breathing had settled back down - my body was plenty capable of what I was asking it to do. I'm only going to incorporate these every three weeks, but I think they're going to give me a ton of mental fuel for the last 10K of the race.

Run Miles: 27.8 mi
Bike Miles: 5.1 mi
Swim Miles: .4 mi
Lifting Time: 1:14
Total Time: 6:56

I'm so delighted with how this week went, but I am pretty fatigued from increasing the training load. This coming week will be my first cutback week of the training cycle - no speedwork and a shorter long run (only eight miles). This break was a great motivator in giving it my all the last two weeks. I know some people only cut back every fourth week, but I find three works much better for my body.

I also finally(!!) had luck in finding a great allergist. He needs the results from my bloodwork to determine the final make-up of my serum, but hopefully I will be starting back up on my shots in the next week or two. This fall will not be the best, because the shots won't have had much time to get into my system, but he gave me a few new things to try to help mitigate the symptoms in the mean time. They all rely on steroids, which I've found give me bad side cramps while running in the past, so it will be an interesting challenge to balance everything.

But the best part is this coming week has multiple days of rain in the forecast! Here's to hoping for some nice cool weather.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon: Week One

Week one of training is in the books! 

I guess I didn't realize how half-hearted my previous training cycles have been, because I forgot how much time and energy goes into truly preparing myself to race 26.2 miles. I also forgot how crazy runger is - I've been mowing down food at a record pace. 

There were some setbacks this week, as there always will be, but I didn't let them derail me. We ended up having to make a noise complaint this weekend when our neighbors left their dogs outside for a second night in a row and they barked and barked and barked. I guess the silver lining is that the police here don't have much to do, so they actually respond to and resolve problems! I am a little low on sleep after being up late with that issue last night, so I foresee a nap in my future this afternoon.

Monday, July 27
AM - 3 mi easy (11:25 min/mile)
PM - 10 min spin WU, NROLFW Stage 2A-1

I'm glad I got up early to get my run in, as I got pretty sweaty and gross, even at 7 AM. I also got stuck behind a garbage truck, which was even grosser. It was also exciting to start a new stage of NROLFW in the evening. This stage incorporates lots of lunge variations, so I think the added strength in a few weeks will make a difference in my running!

Tuesday, July 28
AM - 640 yd swim
PM - 5 mi easy (11:37 min/mile)

My normal commute home from work takes about one hour. Tuesday it took over two hours due to two disabled semis right at my exit. The last thing I wanted to do after I finally got home at 7:15 (after leaving my desk at 4:50!) was run, but I got it done. 

An important aside about our community pool - it is actually only 40 yards to a lap, instead of 50. I've decided to just count laps for each set as if it were 50 yards, but then adjust my total to the real number of yards. Fortunately, we'll be voting in November to expand and renovate the community center, which would include a completely new natatorium with a real lap pool. I figure since I just swim for fun, there's no reason to lose sleep about doing fewer yards for now.

Wednesday, July 29
PM - 2.8 mi hills, NROLFW Stage 1-B

This hill workout was tough! It involved two sets of running on various inclines at MP. I focused really hard on keeping my form as I fatigued, rather than letting my limbs just flail around all over the place. I think this extra speedwork is really going to build my mental strength, not just my physical strength.

Thursday, July 30
AM - 600 yd swim

I had to try splitting a lane this morning, which was hard considering there are no lane lines down. I did fairly well keeping my line straight. I only got nicked by my neighbor's fins once, so I'll call that a win.

Friday, July 31
AM - 5 mi tempo (1 mi WU, 3 mi @ 9:54 min/mile, 1 mi CD)

I had to be at work by 8 for a doctor's appointment at 8:30, which meant a wake-up call at 5 to get my tempo run in. It was incredibly painful to drag myself out of bed that early, but I sweated out a few pounds of water and was drenched by the end, so I'm glad I didn't wait until later to do it. Other than the heat and humidity, the pace felt fairly comfortable.

Saturday, August 1
PM - 10 mi long (11:23 min/mile)

My intention was to get up in the morning to get this done, but I desperately needed to catch up on sleep. We had an appointment to see a wedding venue in the early afternoon (and we picked it! Check that off the list.), and I didn't have enough time to run and shower beforehand when I finally woke up. 

I waited until about 7 PM to set out. The humidity was way down, and I was in shade for most of the run - truly beautiful weather. I had quite a few wildlife sightings too - a red-tailed hawk, a muskrat, and a bunch of bats. This was a perfect long run to kick off the training cycle with.

Run Miles: 25.8 mi
Bike Miles: 2.5 mi
Swim Miles: .7 mi
Lifting Time: 1:14
Total Time: 6:49

Overall, I'm very happy with how this week went. I hit all my workouts and all my paces. We're finally supposed to have some cooler weather this week, so I'm hoping it won't be quite as tiring as last week. And unlike like last week, I don't have any days I have to be at work early, and the barking dog problem should be sorted now, so I'm hoping I will be much better on the sleep front this week. I'm very excited to keep working towards my goal!