Twin Cities Marathon Week 7 Training Recap

According to the original plan, this was going to be my biggest mileage week ever. As usual, plans change. I ended up with about 30-40% less but an answer and a plan. As I mentioned Thursday, it turns out that my knee issues come from a weak hamstring. I’m pretty sure that I caught it early enough to prevent a full-blown injury.

Monday easy run with fartlek intervals
I could tell this was going to be a different kind of training week. If my knee had cooperated, this would have been a perfect run because otherwise I felt great. Unfortunately, my knee was tight the whole time. It felt fine while walking and most of the rest of the day. I’m glad I have an answer now.

Tuesday stationary bike
I took it easy–trying to do this recovery thing right. I felt pretty good throughout the ride and did warm up drills afterwards. My knee felt almost normal. I’m pretty optimistic.

Wednesday 80 minutes easy
This was a difficult run, specifically mentally. I did a lot of praying (both before and during) because my desire is to be okay whatever happens. I had no tightening sensation in the knee. The best way I can describe how it felt is “weird.” There were times during the run that I felt completely normal. Other times different muscles in my right leg felt achey. Yet other times I felt (or imagined) twinges in the knee. Running never became painful but I don’t really know what to make of it. I do know that while doing WUDs (warm up drills) afterwards, my knee did not like the quad stretches. I stopped. I felt pretty low then and even more confused. I had no idea what to do then, hence the PT appointment and thankfully the answer.

Thursday Physical Therapy appointment
Not much more to say here…

Friday stationary bike
My head was in a weird place. I’m not the best with the whole “not obsessing” thing. The ride was fine, pretty good actually. The PT exercises after were “fun” and tough, in a good way. The next thing I need to work on is mental stamina.

Saturday long run
I’m definitely insane. After the week I’ve had plus 100%+ humidity, I headed inside. Another benefit? I could very easily pull the plug if I had knee issues. Thankfully, I had none. Also, the automatic 60 minute limit of the treadmill made it easy to break the run down into manageable chunks and provide an opportunity to get more water. The knee held up pretty well. There was no tightness or pain, just an awareness. I nixed the fast finish just in case. That was definitely a good idea. My legs were super tired during the last 60 minute segment. My form was not that great during the last 30 minutes either. Other notes from the run: I walked just over a minute at each half hour mark to chew my Gu chomps (and managed to leave the remainder at the gym…whoops). I did think about walking a minute per ten during the last thirty but I put the towel back up (to cover the time) and kept running. Even though this week did not turn out like I had hoped, this run was a big confidence boost.

Sunday rest
Definitely took advantage of that

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The Physical Therapy Post

(The title is not quite right but…)

Every runner reaches a point (or multiple points) in their running career where they are either injured, stressed about potential injury, or worried about re-injury after a recent recovery. For the past week or so, I’ve been in the middle position, stressed about a potential injury.

I did what I normally do, played Google Doctor and freaked out a little at what I found and didn’t find. (If someone could invent a real game of Google Doctor that would be amazing.) As usual, I found a couple possibilities but my symptons didn’t quite fit. I’d almost decided that it was ITBS but it didn’t sit right.

In comes physical therapy. I’d searched to see if there was someone local that had experience with runners and found one. The “weirdness” of my run yesterday tipped me over the edge. For the longest time I’ve put off something like this for fear that it would make x,y,z problem worse. Silly. I know.

I headed over there this morning, nervous about what I would find out. Afterwards, I can look back and say that I am so thankful I went.

I’ll stop beating around the bush. The culprit? Weak hamstring(s). (Both are fairly weak but only my right knee has been bothering me.) As the therapist described what the weak muscles does to the tendon and the tendon to the knees and etc, everything made sense. All my symptoms fell into place. I’m so glad I went because I never would have even though to search for hamstring weakness and/or strengthening exercises yet now I have an answer and a solution.

I plan to go back at the very least Tuesday and Thursday next week. (If only I could convert my miles into dollars.) I also plan to start carving out daily strength training time.

That was an added bonus. I learned that one can do everything right-properly fitting shoes, varied running surfaces, gradual mileage progression and etc-but not be able to live by running alone.

Post appointment I actually felt pretty great. Not only do I have an answer but I also have a game plan. (I also have some sore muscles, the good kind of sore.)

I don’t like spending money but this was money well spent. I definitely recommend it.


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Twin Cities Marathon Week 6 Training Recap

This week did not go according to plan. I won’t get into the details in this post but I will say that I may be facing a nagging knee issue that could keep me from being able to make a true BQ effort. (Doctor Google says it may be anything from Runner’s Knee, ITBS, quadriceps tendonitis or something else because the symptoms don’t exactly match anything. I’m hoping it’s just tight muscles.)

Monday week 5 long run
The weather wasn’t any better than last Saturday except for a bit more cloud cover. This run started as a mental battle. From the first step I kept telling myself that I could do this. (I lost track of how many different mantras I mentally shouted at myself.) Eventually I settled into the run but I can’t remember when. I was supposed to do some moderate intervals at the end but decided early that my goal would be finishing the full mileage and staying hydrated. When I got back to my car I refilled my bottle and drained a 20 oz Gatorade. Soon after, I decided that I would do walk/run intervals of 9:1 after mile 15 and turn around when I got to 15.5. A parked train blocked the trail so I turned at 14.75 adding one more little out and back before I could finish. After I had my next Gu chomps I decided to get to 17 before walking again, then 19. I ate chomps at both those miles. I walked at 20 then started counting down hundredths. I decided against stopping at 21 and just kept going. I also broke through the “wall” and reached that point where your body just keeps going because you’ve already gotten that far. I’m really not sure how this happened but I clocked my last mile at 8:16. Seriously? Long run success!

Tuesday easy recovery run
I’m pretty bummed. I forgot to mention Monday that I felt a weird tightness in my right knee around mile 12. It worked itself out fairly soon after and I didn’t feel anything throughout the day so I didn’t think about it until that night when I got up to go to bed and discovered that it protested when I tried to bend it past 90 degrees. I hoped a good night’s sleep would help. I think it felt fine when I woke up but I can’t remember. By the time I got to the gym I could feel it. It didn’t really hurt and the weird tightness gradually went away during these three miles (which I know I probably should have skipped) but I’m still concerned. My whole IT Band feels tight. (At least I think it’s my IT Band. My “injuries” never fit the common stuff so I can never figure it out.) So, I’m still trying to figure it out.

Wednesday recovery run + hill intervals walk
It was really weird to just walk but two days off definitely did me some good. My muscles felt really tight. I think I may have some muscle imbalances because I keep having nagging twinges on my right IT band.

Thursday stationary bike
I felt good on this ride. I did lose a little time adjusting the seat but other than that it was a great ride.

Friday tempo intervals
I ran inside because of the dark and the humidity. I could have run outside but I couldn’t work up the motivation. The run itself felt fairly good. The intervals were hard but in a good way. I did decrease the speed a tiny bit on the last interval but put it back up where it was supposed to be by the end. My hip felt a little bit odd but nothing super out of the ordinary. I still can’t tell if I overreacted or not.

Saturday long run
This was an extremely tough run mentally. This run was plagued by weird issues in my right leg. There was never pain but lots of tightness and stiffness around my knee and even a little in the front of my hip. I want to say that it didn’t affect my gait but I’m not sure. I had to decide whether it was a precursor to an injury (cut it short) or just me being neurotic (finish it out and become mentally tough.) I took two breaks: a bathroom break just after mile 2 and a water/mental regroup break close to mile 6. Up until this point I had run all of the miles (except the first) just a little bit faster than my average goal pace. I felt mentally defeated so I walked for a minute with 30 minutes to go and then again at 20 to go. I planned to do that again with 10 minutes to go. A runner I had just passed started talking to me and told me that he read my blog and that I’d been tearing it up this year. Those kind words made me feel a little bit guilty because I’d given up and wondered if I had an injury. Soon after that interaction I turned around and headed back. I felt pretty good considering everything, including the weather, obviously buoyed by the other runner’s kind words. I didn’t walk again and even increased my pace for the final mile. I finished with an exact 8:30 average for the run, my goal pace. I’m really conflicted about this run because I feel pretty much normal after and have no idea why I’m struggling with this knee thing again.

Sunday rest
I have been following this to the letter, stretching and foam rolling. The knee feels normal-ish but I’m hyper aware of everything so I’m not sure.

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Twin Cities Marathon Week 5 Training Recap

This week didn’t feel complete without a long run. Technically I’ll be completing the long run for this week when this post publishes. The holiday provided an alternative to waking up really early Saturday before work or Sunday before church. (By really early, I mean 3 or 4 am at the latest.

Monday recovery/easy run
I know that I gave my Saturday long run everything when I still feel a bit tired on Monday. It made me plenty okay with taking it easy. The run was fairly average. I did wonder at the sanity of another runner who I saw running in the median of the road with no reflective gear or headlamp before the sun came up. The strides went fairly well too though I was a bit tired by the time I got to them.

Tuesday short intervals
These intervals didn’t feel quite as hard as I thought they would. Maybe that’s because I’m used to longer intervals and/or tempo runs? More likely I could have tried to go a bit faster. I stuck with the prescribed range. I also tried to focus on my arm swing. I’m wasting a lot of energy trying to fly.

Wednesday easy run
It took forever to get going that morning. I’d had 3 nights in a row of super crazy dreams which I think made my sleep less than great. I ran inside because that’s most appealing when I’m sleepy. Once I got going, the run felt fine. I definitely looked forward to cross-training Thursday.

Thursday stationary bike
I loved pushing it on the bike. It didn’t hurt to have a distracting episode of Bones to watch either. I also was not sleepy at all. I wonder what the difference was.

Friday tempo run
I started out outside but ended up finishing the tempo on the treadmill at the gym. I don’t know what it is about running in the dark that makes fast paces feel so hard but it felt like night and day when I got inside. When I first started on the treadmill I wondered at the easiness. Hah. That didn’t last long. The 8 min pace did feel easier than attempting to maintain that outside. I know that part of that is the treadmill but I know that a large part has to do with the light. When I finished up the cool down portion of my run outside I felt incredible. Holding a 9 min pace (unintentional since it was supposed to be a cool down) felt easy and awesome. The fact that the sun had come up by this point was not a coincidence. Hmm…

Saturday regular run with 3 hard intervals
It felt so weird to not run long. I really wanted it. The humidity was awful so maybe it was a good thing that I didn’t run long. I felt pretty good considering the humidity and finished with 3 x 3 minutes of hard effort. That hard effort definitely felt hard but I managed to negative split!

Sunday rest
Definitely ready for the long run.

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Amateur Review of the Garmin 220

I’ve had this review written and ready to post for over a month (or two) so I figured it was finally time to post it.

I am not the most technically savvy person so there are likely plenty of features that I know nothing about. Thus, this isn’t a comprehensive review. I’ve written about the features I use most often.

Overall, I absolutely love it and nearly everything I’ve discovered about it. Now to some specifics.

Size My old 205 took up a lot of space on my wrist. I was wearing a watch that didn’t tell time. I’d gotten used to the size since it’s all I’ve ever known. Then I pulled the 220 out of the box and marveled at its relative tininess.

Clock Since I don’t wear a watch, I didn’t care that the 205 lacked that feature. The only time (pun not intended) that telling time mattered was race mornings and getting to the race before it started. I love this feature now. It’s been so nice to be able to flip to the clock screen on race mornings to see how long I had before we were off.

Charging Not only does the 220 charge exceptionally fast but it also gives a percentage. I love knowing how much longer i have to keep the 220 connected. The only thing that I need to remember (I still struggle with this more than a couple months later) is to eject the Garmin before taking it off the dock. It hasn’t seemed to matter yet but I’ve had enough trouble with my iPod not being ejected properly that I don’t want to risk it.

Locating satellites It’s a common complaint from users of older models, the long wait to locate satellites. The 220 does not have this problem. I read an explanation for this on dcrainmaker’s comprehensive review but I don’t have the expertise necessary to explain that here. I used to turn my Garmin on when I pulled out of the driveway to give it enough time to load. With the 220, I can wait almost until the moment I start to run.

Bluetooth Upload If I had none of the other features but this one, I would still absolutely love teh 220. The most frustrating part of using the 205 was trying to get the data to upload to Garminconnect. Now? All I have to do is open the app on my phone and refresh the activities after I’ve saved the run. I’ve read that some people have difficulty with the synching process taking a ridiculously long time with runs longer than 10 miles. I have not had any such problem. I love being able to see my splits and other details right after the run rather than fighting with the device and Garminconnect to get the data uploaded.

Accelerometer I’ve tested this feature out a few times. It’s not quite as accurate as GPS. Okay, it’s not really all that accurate. Actually, it depends on the pace. When I’m running a slow, recovery pace (9:30ish) it measures almost exactly the same as the treadmill. The difference comes from times when I use my arm to wipe sweat or adjust my towel. The accuracy drops off a cliff when I increase the pace. I’m not sure why but the few times I’ve used it on speedwork runs, it measures about a mile off. It’s handy but not all that reliable.

Distance alerts Unlike the 205, the 220 displays the elapsed time in big numbers, easy to see with a quick glance. This works really well with mile laps. As I discovered with some speedwork runs, it’s not so helpful in trying to determine the pace for runs shorter than a mile. There might be a way to modify the data displayed on the alerts but I haven’t done the digging yet.

One downside I can think of is the watch’s lack of a cycling mode. I wore it on my rides on vacation back in July to measure the distance but did not save the activity. That would have messed up many of the records stored on the device. For the time being, this is not a huge downside to me since I don’t do much outdoor cycling. In a year or two when I finally get up the initiative to start training for an Ironman, I’ll likely invest in of Garmin’s multisport watches.

I, even two months on, am still highly satisfied with my 220. If you’re looking for a reasonably priced GPS watch with decent depth of data, this is the watch for you.

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Twin Cities Marathon Week 4 Training Recap

So close to 50 miles again but I did cover 28 miles in two days. I’m pretty pleased with that.

Monday easy/recovery run
I felt much strong on this run than I expected. I would have felt even better in less humidity. I’m more than ready for it to abate. For the strides at the end, I focused on staying strong and not positive splitting them. Success. Splits for the 4 strides: 7:17, 7:03, 6:51, 6:17

Tuesday tempo intervals
I ran on the treadmill because I just did not feel like dealing with the humidity and darkness. Plus, I was better able to make sure that I hit my goal pace. I did entertain a couple thoughts of taking a quick breather at the halfway point of the tempo but pushed that aside once I thought about how good I felt. It was hard but I could do it.

Wednesday easy run
I braved the humidity this time. Once again I’ll say that I will be ecstatic when this constant humidity goes away or at the very least, lower temperatures come through. I felt really good throughout the run, so good that I had to constantly hold myself back since this was supposed to be an easy run.

Thursday stationary bike
This was another great ride. I really wish that the gym could figure out a way to get the air moving so it’s not as stuffy. Other than that, I really enjoyed the ride.

Friday tempo run
When I walked outside to a wall of humidity, I decided to attempt this tempo run inside. Running inside meant that I was more likely to give myself a break or three. I could beat myself up for the three breaks that I took (1 at halfway to guzzle water and refill water bottle, 1 at 60 minutes to reset the treadmill, 1 w/7 minutes to go because I wasn’t mentally strong enough) but that won’t do any good. I managed to run 65 minutes at 7:40 pace with those breaks. Outside, I’m not sure what my pace would have been. It was a tradeoff. Soon I hope I’ll get the hang of these tempo runs. Maybe when the humidity and temperatures take a trip south?
(My coach emailed me Saturday and apologized. He’d assigned the wrong pace. It was supposed to be 8:00 not 7:40. Oops :D)

Saturday long run
I hoped for 3 more but I’m very pleased with what I ran.

Sunday rest
I love my completed rest day. So worth it. Every week.

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Calling It

I know now why so many southern runners choose late fall marathons. Running (or even attempting) 20 miles in August is a recipe for near-certain disaster.

I knew that both the temperatures and humidity were going to be high today. Thus, I planned to drink as much as necessary and take walk breaks if I needed to. I wanted to hit my goal pace of 8:30-8:50 but I was willing to let go of that depending on the weather.

The run started off well. I planned to divide the run into 5 parts, taking 2 Gu Chomps every 4.5 miles with 4 of those sections being 4.5 miles and the last portion 2 miles.

First section: 9:06, 8:40, 8:38, 8:35, 9:28
It took a little while to warm up but I settled in quickly and the pace felt slightly harder than an easy run. This was the best section of the run. It already felt warm by that point but I tried to ignore it. The last split is from the mile when I walked while eating my Chomps.

Second section: 9:28 (repeat from above), 8:45, 8:47, 8:42, 8:45
After eating the Chomps I got a noticeable boost. I realize now that I should have taken more fuel. As I got closer to the halfway point I started to wonder how I would be able to do another 10 miles. I tried to banish that thought and keep going. I still thought that I could finish this run as prescribed, maybe even finish the 20 miles before 180 minutes.

Third section: 9:31, 8:53, 8:55, 8:46, 9:30 (.5)
This is where it started getting hard, fast. Thinking back to my quick glance at the weather channel app, I remember that temps were predicted to rise from 73 to 84ish between 7 and 10. This was about that time. I had stopped at mile 10 to refill my water bottle. I guzzled from the water fountain before setting out again. Around mile 12 I couldn’t wait to get to 13.5 and a chance to walk again. I also decided that I would probably have to give up maintaining the faster pace. I told myself I just had to get to mile 15. After that I would walk a tenth and then run the other nine.

Fourth section: 9:30 (.5), 8:41
So…when I got to mile 15, I stopped and then saved my run. I wanted to be able to see my average pace for the first 15 miles before I had to get through the last 5 miles at a slower pace. My average pace for the first 15 was 8:55 which is just outside the 8:30-8:50 margin but also includes the three walk breaks. I think I need to start practicing with gels. They’re not my preference but at least I can eat those while running.

Fifth section: 9:46, 9:50ish (I forgot to pause the Garmin when I refilled my water bottle)
I turned around at the start of this section and honestly could not fathom finishing 5 more miles. I was almost out of water so I made my next goal getting to the Swamp Rabbit Cafe to refill my water bottle. It was there I decided to call it. I felt so drained. I was drenched in sweat from head to toe. My socks were so soaked I could feel them squishing in my shoes. Another 3.5 miles was not worth potential dehydration or heatstroke. Seriously, it was that hot out. I hated not being able to finish but I knew that it was the right thing to do. I texted Mom and arranged to get picked up. I managed to finish 17 miles. It felt good to be done but I almost talked myself into finishing the final three miles. It’s only three miles after all. I didn’t. I stuck with my original decision and then have been working ever since to make myself be okay with that.

I ended up walking another mile or so for cool down while I waited for Mom to make her way over to my stopping point. I was very thankful that she was able to do that!

I could feel disappointed that once again, I was not able to complete a long run as prescribed. I’m not disappointed though. If it hadn’t been for the heat and humidity (a ten degree temperature increase is nothing to mess with) I would have been able to complete it as prescribed. The first 15 miles are proof of that. I’m also pleased that I made the smart decision instead of pushing too far. I still have another 20 and 22 mile long run left in the plan. I just hope that it’s not quite as warm for those. :)

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