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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Twin Cities Marathon Week 3 Training Recap

I finished this week .04 short of 50 miles. The crazy part of me wanted to get that extra .04 in but I contented myself with 49.96.

Monday recovery run with hill intervals at end
My calves were still a little bit tight. Thankfully, they loosened up soon into the run. I kept it easy and enjoyed the run despite the 97% humidity. I will be very thankful when this passes. I also “loved” the fact that my splits got 30 seconds faster for my last two miles aka the miles I ran when the sun was up. There’s something about running in the dark that makes me slow. I finished up the run with hill intervals which were tough but I loved them.

Tuesday tempo intervals
I will be very happy when this humidity decides that it’s had enough and leaves. The tempo intervals were incredibly hard. I made my goal pace on the first and the last and was only 8-11 seconds off on the middle three. As soon as I started the first tempo interval, sweat started pouring out, literally. I kept pushing and breathed a sigh of relief when I finished the fifth interval by which time the sun started to come up. For me that means an increase of almost a minute in my pace with perceived effort staying about the same. Seriously, my pace for the warm up miles was just above 10. My pace for the cool down miles was just right around 9.

Wednesday easy run
I didn’t feel like dealing with the humidity so I took this run inside. I felt fantastic throughout the run.

Thursday stationary bike at gym
That distance (17.45) proves that last week wasn’t a fluke. The gym felt stuffier and warmer than usual which probably was the reason that occasionally throughout the ride I didn’t feel like pushing quite as hard. I still loved the ride though.

Friday tempo run
This was my best tempo yet. I actually hit my goal pace on one of the miles and came close a few other time. It was still incredibly hard, as a tempo run should be but I think I might be getting the hang of my least favorite time of speedwork.
Splits for tempo (goal of 7:40): 7:42, 8:25, 7:49, 7:40, 7:56, 8:00, 7:55, 7:44

Saturday long run (treadmill)
I’m not sure if I’ll be doing this again any time soon. :)

Sunday rest
I was so glad that I ran on Saturday. Complete rest days are wonderful.

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Adventures in Treadmill Running

As soon as I found out that I had 18 miles (155-160 minutes) on tap for this weekend, I started trying to figure out when I would squeeze it in. I work one or two Saturdays a month and this was one of them.

My options were: Move the long run to Sunday and try to find an 18 mile route near my house. (I don’t like the Swamp Rabbit on Sunday mornings. There are too few people out there.) Run after work, sometime in the afternoon. Get up super early and run on the treadmill until the sun came out and finish outside all before work aka leaving the house as close to 8 am as possible.

I went with the latter. I love that I have several routes near my house that I can use but they’re all by roads and exposed to the sun, not to mention super hilly. With the temperatures forecasted to rise, I scratched off that option. (Plus, I really like the idea of having my Sundays remain a complete rest day.) Running after work was really never an option either. It’s South Carolina in August. I think it would be close to clinical insanity to run outside in the middle of the afternoon.

Having decided on the treadmill route, I had to plan everything out ahead of time. Mom graciously went on a breakfast run (Chic-fil-a biscuit and chocolate shake—yes, a chocolate shake is an amazing breakfast) so that I could get up at 4:30 instead of 4. I prepped everything the night before, both for the run and for getting to work. I would have just enough time to brew some coffee and grab my purse.

On my way up to bed last night I started doing the calculations. I wouldn’t have enough time to drive out to my starting location and back and still finish with enough time to shower so…160 minutes on the treadmill.

So…I survived. Here’s just a sampling of my adventures:

Covering the clock with a sticky note saying “Run, Forest! Run!” provides good motivation.
Doctor Who, season 2, is the absolute best distraction.

I drank so much water you’d think I’d float away. Seriously, I drained 3 of my normal water bottle and that holds 24 oz.

I drank so much water because I sweat more during this run than I think I have during any other run. Around mile 11 my sock started squishing. In another first, I stopped at mile 12 to peel off my socks, grab some new ones (which were much more difficult than normal to put on) and switch out my shoes. No point in putting on dry socks if you’re just going to put them into wet shoes.

My stride felt very different in my CloudRacers. (I had been using my Kinvaras.) I almost stopped again to make the switch back. I’m not sure what it was about the shoes that made the run feel harder but, unfortunately, that’s how I had to finish out the run.
I really don’t like that treadmill, especially at faster paces. Trying to finish out the run with 3 segments of 7 minutes hard, felt much more difficult than it should have.
I didn’t made 18 miles, 17.2 to be exact but I’ll take it. Running on the treadmill that long is not easy. I did contemplate running just a bit more so that I could bank enough mileage to make this week my first 50 mile week of the cycle. Thankfully, my limited time kept me from that.

I didn’t get bored. Seriously? Who am I? Like I mentioned above, David Tennant…I mean Doctor Who is a pretty good distraction.

Afterwards, I started thinking about the fact that—just like that—I finished my longest run since training for MCM last fall, almost a year ago. Crazy. Absolutely crazy.

While it’s quite an accomplishment to have finished 17 miles before 7:45, it’s not the best way to do a long run. (It feels pretty fantastic too.) Hopefully I won’t have to do this but one or two more times this training cycle. ;)

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Twin Cities Marathon Week 2 Training Recap

After a week “off,” training volume ramped up this week and it’ll just continue next week. I am super excited. These workouts are hard but so worth it.

Monday easy run with hill intervals at end
I felt great through this entire run. The hill repeats at the end were supposed to be 5 x 2 minutes but that required too much effort to arrange so I just did 5 hill repeats on my least favorite hill. Fittingly, each interval was harder than the last. The strides after the hill repeats were pretty fun too. I hit the lap button for each one to see my pace and had to laugh. The pace drop off was pretty funny.

Tuesday tempo run
This was the first tempo run that I’ve completed as a tempo run and not given in to the temptation of making it into intervals or taking a rest break. I didn’t quite get to a 7:20 pace but I kept pushing the pace the entire tempo run and managed negative splits (7:44, 7:36, 7:28) which isn’t quite what a tempo should be but I’ll take it. I know I did the best I could because by the time the last four minutes of the tempo portion rolled around I didn’t think I could run any faster. I loved this run.

Wednesday easy run
The training plan called for an easy run. I complied. I still loved this run and felt strong throughout. Of course, I wanted more but I stopped at forty minutes.

Thursday stationary bike at gym
I have no idea how I was able to get in 18 miles on this ride. I’ve never even come close to that before. It felt good to push the pace and it made the time go by quickly. That’s always a plus. Like usual, I really liked this ride.

Friday tempo run (hard!)
This tempo run was hard. I knew it would be going into the run. I was supposed to run 55 minutes at a 7:40 pace. I didn’t make that pace. If I were looking for excuses I could blame the heat and humidity (70 degrees with at least that much humidity). I’m not. I’m more than pleased with the effort I gave. I did not give in to the temptation to take a breather at the turn around point or at any other point during the run. I kept pushing even though it was really hard and I wasn’t making my paces. I’m pleased because I gave it my all. Maybe soon this humidity will go away?
(Tempo mile splits were: 8:06, 7:59, 7:50, 7:53, 8:00, 7:45…aka when it started to get light… and 8:00)

Saturday long run (longest in time and distance for months!)
This was one of my favorite runs, despite the weather.

Sunday rest
My calves were pretty tight when I woke up so I made sure to include plenty of stretching and compression sleeves on this rest day. Another big week lies ahead on the other side of a good night’s sleep.

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Hot, Humid, and Happy

I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a hot, humid, super sweaty run like the one I completed this morning. Several times while I ran, I thought “this is why I love running…putting myself out there, seeing what I can do, pushing myself to the limit.”

This run proves that you don’t have to have a perfect run to add a run to the all-time favorites list. Seriously, this run kicked my butt but I absolutely loved it. My clothes have never been so soaked with sweat before. (I lost at least 3 lbs of water weight and that included the 3 bottles full of water, Gatorade and 20 oz coffee that I guzzled before I weighed myself. The water I drank while running.)

It was a good sign when I looked out my bedroom window first thing this morning and saw dry pavement. The forecast called for scattered thunderstorms all day. (It still hasn’t rained.) I am so glad that I did not have to run for over two hours on the treadmill.

Mom and I got out the door a little later than I had planned but that was alright.

We got to the trail and started running. Right away my legs protested a bit to being used so soon after a tough tempo yesterday. I forced myself to ignore them and settle into a decent long run pace.

Mom and I ran together for the first two miles. When she slowed to walk for the first time, I kept going. (In my defense, she told me to. ;)) I didn’t know until later that she wasn’t ever that far behind me.

I knew the day was going to be a scorcher so I took in hydration as soon and as often as I could, usually once a mile.

At the 30 minute mark I slowed to a walk to eat a couple chomps. I learned my lesson in San Francisco. Chewing while running at my goal pace is next to impossible. I’ll probably end up using gels on marathon day.

My first goal of the day was to run all the way to the new end to the trail. I love the new expansion to the Swamp Rabbit. It may not be the most scenic but it was new and enjoyable. The only part of the new section that I didn’t like was a lovely little downhill behind a gas station. When I ran down I mentally groaned knowing that I would have to come back up.

Just a little ways beyond that the trail ended … for now. (That’s what’s on the trail end sign. Love it!) I made the turn around and started the second portion of my run.

That hill? Yeah, it was hard but it didn’t kill me. It actually didn’t seem all that bad.

Soon after that I caught a glimpse of orange up ahead of me. It was Mom. She turned around just before the hill. Smart woman. I put on a little bit more speed than I probably should have to catch up with her.

About a half mile later I caught up with her and ran the rest of the way back to the Duncan Chapel parking lot with her.

Besides my two fuel breaks, I did walk one other time when she slowed to a walk. I wanted to stick with her. On a day like today, it’s so nice to have company on the run. We also made a slightly longer stop than normal at Williams Hardware to fill up our water bottles. (Thank you so much Williams Hardware!)

I felt pretty good throughout this portion, especially considering the weather–75ish degrees with 100% humidity. I didn’t feel drained or dehydrated. I did wonder how I would be able to speed up almost a minute per mile for my fast finish but decided to deal with that when I came to it.

Once we got back to the Duncan Chapel lot near Furman, I was on my own. I had about 15 minutes before I had to pick up the pace. I took my last fuel break with about 3 minutes to go using that minute afterwards to try to pick up the pace.

Word to the wise, 7:40 per mile after almost two hours in super humid summer weather is not for the faint of heart. I didn’t quite make it for the first mile but kept pushing, telling myself to “embrace the suck.” (Yes, I love my new catchphrase. It’s great for those times when you want to quit.)

With 10 minutes to go I did pause to catch my breath, regroup. I needed those few seconds. When I started running again, my new favorite running song (just bought it today!) “Bang! Bang!” started playing. (I’m not a huge fan of the lyrics but the beat is undeniable.) It was just the pick me up that I needed right then. Too bad I didn’t have it on repeat.

When it finished, “Firework” came on and while I like it, the rhythm was all wrong. That was the point where I needed a little external motivation to finish and that song just wasn’t cutting it. With 3.5 minutes to go I stopped again and put “Bang! Bang!” on again. I needed all the motivation I could get to finish. Those last few seconds seemed to take forever!

I finished with a huge smile on my face. Just like that my longest (both in time and distance) run in months was finished and I had conquered it.

Check out the splits (Ignore the 12:45…it was only a partial mile)

Screenshot 2014-08-09 15.13.17

Runs like this help me remember why I love marathons (and marathon training) so much. Bring on TCM!

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Entitlement Syndrome

I know I said that last week’s post was the last that I would write about San Francisco. Remind me to never say something like that again. Something always comes up.

This time it was prompted by an apology that The San Francisco Marathon posted on their Facebook page last Sunday. It surprised me because personally, other than the expo issue I mentioned, I had no problems. If not for the unexpected warmth, it would have been one of my best race experiences period.

What prompted the apology then?

The primary prompt, I assume, was an article posted on sfgate.com that critiqued the race for hydration supply issues, the malfunction runner tracking app, and confusion regarding which woman actually won the first half marathon. I have no problem with the article. The author composed it with the purpose of encouraging the SF Marathon to step up its game and showcase San Francisco properly.

It’s the comments on the apology post that make me cringe. So much entitlement is blatantly obvious.

Many of the complaints came from slower runners. (As a disclaimer, I should mention that I did not encounter these same problems because I started and finished before many other runners.) These complaints focus primarily on the inadequately supplied water stops. However, they also exclude complaints about crowding issues in Golden Gate Park (finish and start area for 1st and 2nd half marathoners respectively), water stations being closed too soon, small half marathon medals and an extraordinarily long line to get into the post-race beer garden.

It was the beer garden complaint that really got me thinking. Some people were bent out of shape that they had to wait in line for something free. They felt entitled to that beer even though they hadn’t bothered to get the “instant access” wristband provided at the expo. (The terminology is mine. I did not partake so I am unfamiliar with the specific terminology.) As a result, the line to get into the beer garden backed up while volunteers verified (id and bib, I think) each runner attempting to enter.

This bothers me. It bothers me enough that I could take the time to refute each of the complaints that I’ve already listed. That would take too long though and would not help me make my point. The main issue is the rank entitlement.

Almost all of the complaints boil down to a runner feeling entitled to a certain perk, promised or not. Some runners feel entitled to free water, electrolytes and fuel along the course. Some slower runners feel entitled to those same perks even though that means that other people would have to donate when more of their own time. Some runners feel entitled to get their hydration handed to them at water stops instantly in the manner of their personal preference. Some feel entitled to a bigger medal because they’ve “earned” it. Many feel entitled to all this because they spent some of their hard earned money on an entry fee.

Why do people feel this way?

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not maligning all runners or any for that matter. I am speaking from the heart about a culture of complaining that I see creeping into my beloved sport.

I’m also not dismissing the complaints as completely invalid. The SF Marathon dropped the ball on a few things like hydration. That’s where I feel that legitimate constructive criticism, like the original sfgate.com article, should play a huge part. Take, for instance, my own comments on the expo. I wrote and published those in the hopes that the marathon organization might take note and, hopefully, provide a better product next year.

The SF Marathon offers a product. I’ve chosen (and will continue to choose) to buy that product. I know that not everyone feels the same way. I hope that in future, reviews (and Facebook comments and tweets and etc) can be phrased as constructive criticism not complaint. I’ve found that complaining leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

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