The Snow Shuffle and Boston Week 3 Recap

An alternate title:  Separating the Crazy from the Sane.

I woke up Saturday morning determined to get 17 miles in – snow, blizzard, ice storm, what have you.  I woke up at 6:50AM, checked Twitter, and was surprised by all the “I’m treadmilling it today and getting my 20 miles done” tweets.  Crap, is it that bad out?  I checked outside and was surprised we got so much snow – about 3 inches.  Usually the weather people are way off.

I couldn’t imagine running for 17 miles on the TM, so I bundled up, and prepared myself mentally for the challenge.  I got myself out the door at 7:30 into the freezing rain.  It wasn’t terribly cold but it was tough to run – even with my YakTrax on.  The snow was deep.  The paved trail that I usually run on clearly states “no winter trail maintenance” and they mean it.  It pisses me off since they mow the lawn once a week in the summer but they can’t drop a plow and remove the snow in the winter.  Running on an unplowed trail wasn’t working.  I was shuffling along and my stride was all messed up.  There was no way I could maintain this for 17 miles.

So I found a 1-mile stretch that was plowed and managed to run around it 7 times, looking like a complete ass in the process.  By now my Garmin, my tights, my jacket, my hat, and my (right) eyelid were getting icy.  My eyelid was really starting to sting too.  I waved the white flag, ran the 1/2 mile back to my house, and decided to prepare myself mentally for another challenge – 9.5 miles on the TM.

I watched Leap Year while on the TM and tried to transport myself back to Ireland.  It helped for the first 3 miles.  After that I was just antsy and miserable.  I have no idea how people run 20 miles on the TM.  I’m in complete awe of them.

7.5 miles in the snow at 9:40 pace and 9.5 miles on the TM at 8:53 pace.  Done and done!

Boston Week 3 Recap
MON:  8mi speed
TUE:  8mi tempo with 5 miles at MP (8:28, 8:11, 8:12, 8:16, 8:07).  I experimented with doing 2 hard days back-to-back and it wasn’t too bad.  Those MP miles felt easier then they did last week.
WED:  barre class
THU:  rest!
FRI:  6mi easy with 5 short hill repeats at the end
SAT:  17 loooooong miles
SUN:  6mi easy

45 miles total for the week.

How did you deal with the snow and running this weekend?  If you live in the South or San Francisco and had perfect weather, I don’t want to hear it 😉

Does your favorite running route get plowed or do you have to get creative?  


Five for Friday: Race Edition

I guess January is officially here because they are calling for a wintry mix on Saturday.  I’m freaking out because I have a 17-miler to get done.  If I have to slap on YakTrax and slow down, I won’t be happy, but so be it.  I can’t get annoyed over things out of my control.

Anyway….today’s Five for Friday (I act like I do this every week…I don’t) is 4 races that I would love to do and 1 race I’ll never do, in no particular order.

1.  JFK 50-Miler:  Ultras are where I’m headed after I scratch the Boston itch.  So long speed work, hello super long runs!  I would love to do this race some day, especially after reading Kara’s recap last year.

2.  Big Sur Marathon:  I wouldn’t want to race this marathon but run it for fun, take pictures, and enjoy the scenery.  And yes, I wish I was doing Boston to Big Sur!

3.  A marathon in San Francisco:  Nike Women’s or the San Francisco Marathon, it really doesn’t matter.  I just want to run in the city that I love so much.

4.  Another World Marathon Major:  I’ve done NYC and will soon be done Boston, but I’d love to run Chicago or London.

5.  A marathon I will never run:  Disney Marathon.  I’m kinda anti-Disney.  I have no desire to run near or in the “most magical place on earth”.

Any races you would like to do?  Any ones you have no desire to run?   

Breaking The Curse

I have a Spring marathon curse.  I’m blogging about it to prove, in black and white, how ridiculous it sounds and how I have managed to make myself believe it.  I have it engrained in my head that every Spring marathon I run, I suck/bonk/give up/etc.  Yep, the Spring marathon curse.

Prior to 2010, I only ran Fall marathons.  My first Spring marathon was May 2010 (the Pocono Marathon).  It sucked.  The following Fall, I ran Steamtown.  It was awesome.  Next Spring, I ran the NJ Marathon.  Although I did PR by 6 minutes, I considered it a sucky effort.  Then in September, at the Lehigh Valley Marathon, I BQ’d.  See the pattern here?  Bad -> good -> bad -> good…which means my next marathon will be bad because it’s in the Spring.  Someone please slap me.

So why are my Spring marathons bad?  I managed to convince myself that I run slower in the winter, because I’m never fully warmed up.  Therefore my training suffers and I have a bad race day.  This is just ridiculous.  Yes, training over the winter is challenging and can be difficult but it can also be effective…just as effective as summer training.

The only problem, besides the fact that I’m crazy, is this Spring marathon is Boston.  It could not possibly suck.  I’ve waited 10 years to run this race.  How can I allow myself to get sucked into thinking I will suck/bonk/give up/etc. at Boston?

I’m already comparing my long runs and speed work to my last training cycle, overanalyzing to look for drastic improvement.  This can only end bad…especially for someone like me, when training “clicks” or all comes together later on.

I’m done working on the warped thinking.  I’m done comparing my current runs to runs this past summer.  What’s the point of working my ass off for 15 weeks if I’m going to let a silly, made-up curse take me down on race day?  Instead, I will believe in what worked for me last September – hard work and determination.

Do you have a particular distance or race that you feel is cursed?  

Summer or winter training – which do you prefer?  Summer all the way for me.  Oh, I’ll complain about the humidity but I love me a long, sweaty run!  

Sweat-icicles and Boston Week 2 Recap

This morning I headed to the track for a speed workout.  There was no school today so I didn’t have to hurry and finish before the buses arrived.  And, since I didn’t have work, I could actually wait until the sun started to rise.  Win-win!  It was frigid – 19 degrees.  During my warm-up, it was so cold that I actually wished I was home in my warm basement on the treadmill, wearing shorts and a tank top.  I hate to be all bundled up!

I did a “ladder down” workout starting at 1200m and going down to 1000m -> 800m -> 600m -> 400m.  I did them at 10K pace with a 200m rest interval in between.  Since it wasn’t a super taxing workout I threw in 2 miles at MP (8:02 and 8:19), a cool down, and called it a day at 8 miles.

During the cool down I could hear my hair sweeping along the back of my jacket.  It sounded like it was frozen.  When I got to the car…and this is a first for me…sweat-icicles!  So gross!

Boston Week 2 Recap
MON:  6 miles speed (4×800 with a MP mile at the end)
TUE:  6 miles easy
WED:  rest
THU:  8 miles tempo with 6 at MP
FRI:  6 miles easy
SAT:  15 miles
SUN:  barre class

41 miles total with another yoga fail.  I’m still figuring out how to fit it all in and I need 1 complete rest day a week.

I need your help…can anyone recommend WARM and WATERPROOF running gloves?  As in, I can wipe sweat and snot away and they won’t freeze on me.   For LRs, I switch my gloves halfway through and today I doubled up on gloves.  

Ever get sweat-icicles?  It’s funny how I can get so sweaty and be so cold at the same time.  

Olympic Trials, Haircut, And A Long Run

Happy Sunday!  I’m enjoying Day 2 of a 3-day weekend!  I just got back from barre class which kicked my butt, as always.  My legs were already tired from 15 miles yesterday and all the pulsing and squeezing sent them over the edge this morning.

So, the Olympic Marathon Trials?!  So exciting.  I cannot wait for London.  I just got back from my long run in enough time to catch the Twitterfest of the finish.  Meb is amazing and Shalane, Kara, and Desi are a force to be reckoned with in London.

Hawk enjoyed watching the Trials as well

I wish I could say that I channeled some of that elite energy during my LR but I didn’t.  15 miles with an average pace of 9:04.  I will call that a LSD run.  I slept 4 hours on Friday night (random insomnia) and, beginning at mile 6, I developed a blister on my right foot (while wearing my Adrenaline 11s – yes, the ones that are supposed to feel good).  I have no idea what kind of metamorphosis my right foot is undergoing but it better morph back to my old foot pronto.  I’ve never had issues with blisters before.  They suck and can really derail a run.

To be honest, my heart was not in this run.  I was tired.  It was so, so cold.  The wind kept smacking me in the forehead and pissing me off.  I wanted it to be OVER.  I came home and I was upset.  This was a slow run for me and a good 45 seconds slower than MP.  Then I took out my FIRST plan and looked at what pace I was supposed to run those 15 miles (note:  when it comes to long runs I generally “beat” whatever pace the FIRST plan calls for…so I never even bother to look at it pre-run).  9:08.  I ran 9:04 and called it a terrible run.  I stopped sulking after that.

And…I got my hair cut yesterday!  I got a good 6 inches lopped off the back.  It feels amazing to have less hair to deal with!  It was getting to the point where my hair was in a ponytail every single day.  Some pics…

it may not look like a lot from the front...

but I now have a tiny ponytail

Good luck to everyone running Houston today!

What did you think of the Trials?

Did you have a good long run this weekend?

Thursday Thoughts

I woke up this morning to torrential rain, despite’s hourly forecast assuring me that there would only be a 50% chance of rain at 6AM.  Ugh.  I’m all for running in the rain (especially when it’s 50 degrees in January), but voluntarily running in a downpour is a bit much.  My mind starts spinning.  How am I going to fit in my tempo run?  I could do it on the treadmill or get to work early so I can leave early and do it then.  Outside running (even at night) trumps treadmill running any day.  Decision made.

I get into work by 7:15AM and manage to spill my coffee not once but twice.  The first time on myself as I juggled 2 bags and an umbrella.  The second time all over my mouse pad.  I dry off the mouse pad, let it air dry, and stick my planner under the mouse.  Ugh.

If today continues this way, at least I have my run to look forward to.

I was out the door for my run by 4:15PM.  I’m not the best after-work runner but I was aiming for 8 miles total, with 6 at MP (8:15-8:20 pace).  Success!  MP splits:  8:17, 8:13, 8:17, 8:19, 8:15, 8:14 <– consistency!

Other random thoughts…

I love Running Times. I just got my first 2 issues in the mail this weekend. Way better than Runners World, if you’re a run nerd like me. No fluff, just good articles with quality information.

I’m not so in love with my Brooks Adrenaline 12s. I know, this is blasphemous. I’ve been wearing them for 2 months now with no issues (note: I’ve been wearing them for 11 years with no issues as well). This past weekend, the right shoe started to rub the inside of my ankle the wrong way. My inner ankle is now swollen and sore. I switched back to my Adrenaline 11s and I’m fine. Comparing the 2 side-by-side you can tell the 12s are cut higher on the inner ankle than the 11s. Waaaah! Now I’m running in an old pair of 11s while my new pair of 12s sit in my closet.

Is anyone else super excited about the Olympic Marathon Trials?  I would love to be in Houston, spectating and soaking it all in!

Is it true there will be no live coverage of the Trials?

Is anyone else having a similar problem with the Adrenaline 12s?

Running Words of Wisdom

In my 11 years of running I have learned a lot. A lot. About myself, about training, about fueling, about dressing properly (clearly still learning this one after last Saturday), about hydrating, about resting, about pushing it, about GI issues (I couldn’t resist!), etc., etc. There are so many things that come to mind, it is hard to list them all (and I will spare you a lengthy list).  Here are a few…

You probably have more in you than you think.

Stop talking about it and JUST DO IT!

Hard work really does pay off.

Looking back and analyzing a bad race will uncover a lot of information. Take notes and implement changes in your next training cycle.

Training plans are NOT one size fits all.

Choose your goal marathon pace wisely.  It should feel relatively easy.  Everything feels hard during the last 6.2 of a marathon.

Drink chocolate milk after hard efforts. You legs will thank you the next day.

No one knows “you” better than “you”.

Stop comparing yourself to other runners. There will always (always) be someone who is faster.

Never run through pain.

If something hurts, do something about it. See a doctor/physical therapist/chiropractor.

A lightweight, waterproof, and windproof jacket is essential in the winter.

So are warm, dry gloves. Stash an extra pair in your pocket or car if you can.

If you want to start running, get fitted properly for shoes. Don’t even bother running in your old Nikes you found in the back of your closet.

Always drink and fuel during your long runs before you need it.

Take notice of your upper body at the end of a long run. You shouldn’t be leaning forward, shrugging your shoulders, and your face should not be all tense.

GI issues creep up sometimes without rhyme or reason.

Saying you have no time to run is an excuse. Where there’s a will there’s a way.

Smile and remember, you do this for fun!

Any words of wisdom to add?

Being Flexible and Boston Week 1 Recap

When I first started training for marathons and knew very little about myself as a runner (or really anything about marathon training), I would follow a set training plan.  All 16 weeks planned out in black and white.  This type of training is beneficial for beginners, as long as you are listening to your body and pushing when appropriate and resting when you need it.  My approach to training now is drastically different then it was back then.

Every Sunday, I plan out my running schedule for the week.  I’m using the FIRST plan so in a way those 16 weeks are planned out but I modify the plan so much it’s never set in stone.  Things I consider:

  • Am I busy this week?  Do I have stuff to do after work or during the weekend?
  • What’s the weather like (especially in the winter)?  If there is even a hint of snow, I will finagle my schedule to get all my key runs in before the snow hits.
  • What was my total mileage last week?  How much should I increase it this week or decrease if it’s a drop back week?
  • When will I strength train this week?
  • How am I feeling overall?  How did my runs go last week?  Did I hit all my key workouts?

All of these factors go into my planning.  The only things really set in stone are my track workouts and long run mileage.  Everything else I decide on the Sunday prior.  Even the days I do track, tempo, and easy runs change each week (although I try and get track work done on Mondays to get it out of the way).  I love the flexibility this gives me and my training has improved so much.

Boston Week 1 Recap
I’ll call week 1 a success!  Aside from my failed tempo run and yoga fail (I just couldn’t get my butt there on Sunday – I have no better excuse than that), I was happy with my long run on Saturday.

MON:  3 x 1-mile repeats
TUE:   7 easy
WED:  barre class
THU:  rest
FRI:  6 pseudo-tempo miles
SAT:  13 (avg pace – 8:37).  I totally under dressed for this run.  I started running at 7:30 and it was bitterly cold (it later went up to 60 degrees!).  I had a thin, long-sleeved tech shirt and cheap Target stretchy gloves.  I thought my hands were going to freeze and fall off.  I even stopped into a bathroom to use the hand dryer to warm them up (I hate stopping during long runs too but this was so necessary).
SUN:  6 easy

38 total miles for the week 🙂

Do you follow a set schedule or plan your runs weekly like me?

Ever think you were going to get frostbite during a run?  Once my hands get cold, it’s all downhill for me.  It actually gets painful and I can’t concentrate.  I do use hand warmers sometimes but apparently didn’t think it was necessary on Saturday.  

Friday Thoughts

  • Most of you didn’t think I was a scumball for not showering post-barre class on Wednesday.  Or, if you did, you kept that to yourself.   Baby wipes and deodorant (exactly what I used) are pretty popular and they get the job done.  I walked out of class at 7AM and was in my car en route to work by 7:15.  That should speak volumes about my hair and make-up regimen for work.
  • Speaking of barre class, I was sufficiently kicked to the curb on Wednesday morning.  My legs were shaking uncontrollably during class.  I had to take brief breaks.  My hamstrings and calves were sore yesterday which, aside from running, I’ve never experienced before with any other strength training.  I can’t wait for more torture next Wednesday!
  • I got an iPhone!  I had a terrible, old BlackBerry which could hardly pass for a smartphone.  Now I see what all the hype is about.  I’m obsessed with Instagram and found other (free!) apps like Where to Eat? and Oh Ranger! Park Finder.  Reeder is also good (but not free).  It’s a much better version of Google Reader.
  • Today’s run was supposed to be short and sweet:  6 miles with 2 miles at tempo (7:35 pace).  It was tough.  My legs felt great but my lungs felt off.  Effort-wise I felt like I did during Monday’s mile repeats but I was running just under 8:00 pace!   The only plausible explanation could be my asthma.  I got my allergy shots yesterday (I get them once per month) and I had a pretty bad reaction.  That could have triggered something.  Oh well, I get 13 miles of redemption tomorrow.
  • I follow the San Francisco community page on Facebook for no other reason than daydreaming that I actually live there.  They post pics and events and I imagine myself there.  I know, total dork.  Yesterday they posted this pic and I wanted to cry with envy.

    sitting outside on a gorgeous january day

    If you could live in any city in the world, where would you live?  I would live in SF.  Absolutely.  I love Philly too, it’s my hometown and a great city, but nothing compares to SF.  

    Got an iPhone?  Was it life changing?  I can’t believe how much I was missing!

Boston Training and Goals

I hope everyone is surviving this week so far.  Work yesterday felt so strange…what’s my password?  Where’s my to do list?  What happened in December?  Tuesday was a blur.  I did manage 7 easy miles outside in the numbing wind.

Onto my Boston training…not surprisingly I’m using the 3:40 FIRST marathon plan.  It worked well for me in the past so I’m going with it.  Each time I modify it even more to fit my needs.

More mileage – hopefully (maybe) I can hit 60 miles this training cycle?  I hit 53 last cycle but I think I was running my easy runs too fast.  If I slowed down I probably could have accommodated higher mileage.  My hard days are really hard, so my 2 easy runs should be really easy.  Of course, this will all depend on how I feel.  Adaptive training 🙂

Strength training – barre and yoga each week.  I think I figured out a schedule that works, which was an issue in the past.  This means 6AM barre class on Wednesday mornings!

Hills, hills, hills – Uphills and downhills!  My LRs will be done on a hilly course and I’ll probably swap out a track or tempo workout every now and then for hill repeats.

Less Garmin-obsessed running – like I mentioned Monday, my track workouts will be based on effort and my easy days (which are now really easy) will be Garmin-free.

As for goals, I want to re-qualify for Boston at Boston.  That means a sub-3:40 which should be doable.   Here’s how I see it…I’ve shaved 30 minutes off my marathon time from May 2010 to September 2011, so what’s an additional 4 minutes?  It won’t be easy, Boston is a tough course, but it’s not impossible!

Another unrelated goal is to eek out a sub-7:00 mile.  6:59 would be acceptable.

This morning is my first time going to barre class before work.  I’m getting changed at the gym and then heading straight to work.  No shower.  The thought of showering at the gym skeeves me out, like I’m back in college.  I don’t sweat that much at barre and I will shower beforehand.  Matt thinks this is gross.  I can guarantee I will be no cleaner after using a communal shower!  I just hope I don’t forget anything important, like my work pants.  If so, wunder unders it is!

Ever shower at the gym?  Is it gross?  I just have flashbacks to dorm living and wearing flip flops in the shower!  

Are you currently training for anything?  If so, what are your goals?

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