Monday, March 28, 2011

Taper Time!

But before I get to that, let me rewind a little and go over my training for the last few days. Thursday was another Crossroads run. I was still a little stiff and sore from my intense workout the day before so I decided to take it easy. I ran the hills with my friend Jack, a newly retired Boston Firefighter. It was a great run. We pushed each other. When he started to fade I’d pick up the pace and when I started to slack off he practically sprinted. We finished the 9 mile run at a decent 9:40 pace and both of us felt pretty good at the end. And as an added bonus for all the runners that night, not only did they get the usual free pizza, I brought homemade cookies! Chocolate Chip AND oatmeal awesomeness. Of course they were a huge hit and I made lots of new friends fast.

Friday, all the hard work caught up to me. I woke up wicked stiff and my resting heartrate was 68 BPM (usually in the 50s). So, even though I felt ok by the afternoon and Mother Nature was tempting me with beautiful running weather, I listened to my body and took a rest day. AND made more cookies. I made some oatmeal awesomeness without white chocolate chips because one of the DFMC runners told me she gave up chocolate for lent.

Saturday morning, I got up early to sneak in a short run with a friend before heading to Newton to deliver my cookies to the DFMC runners on the course. We did a nice easy 5 mile loop and I added on a mile and a half each way running to my friend’s house. Newton looked AMAZING! There had to be thousands of charity runners on the course and all kinds of teams training and tents with water stops set up from all kinds of different vendors. It was almost as beautiful as seeing those hills on race day. I got to the BC athletic center and gave the runners cookies when they finished up and helped pour water and gatorade for them too.

After the cookies were all gone, I headed out to run a few errands. I had fried my iPod during my intense interval workout on Wednesday so I brought it to the Apple store at the Burlington Mall. You would have thought it was Black Friday or something, there wasn’t a single empty parking space to be found ANYWHERE. I finally found a spot about a mile away from the Mall and walked to the entrance and found the Apple Store and waited forever for them to tell me the iPod was indeed fried and I would have to wait for them to order a new one because warranty stock is separate from saleable stock. It’s the same damn thing to me, I just want a new iPod. But I have to wait. Stopped at Trader Joes before heading home and got all kinds of yummy deliciousness, including some snack mix (trader joes version of chex mix) OMG, it was so good I ate the whole bag!

Good thing for me I need to load up on some carbs because Sunday was the Eastern States 20 miler. A race that starts in Kittery, ME and ends in Salisbury, MA and runs all along the coast of NH. It’s beautiful. 3 states in one race, tons of fun. I got up early to head to Hampton Beach where the buses pick you up to go to Kittery. I ate breakfast and packed my fuel belt and filled my travel mug with some tea and headed out the door. Somewhere near the NH-MA border I realized I wasn’t thinking when I packed my fuel belt because I only packed enough gels for a half marathon, not for a 20 miler. Thank God for the support of other runners (Jessica Costa) who chipped in a few extra gels for me to use.

My plan was to run the race very conservatively and just get the 20 miles in and save my energy for Boston. So, I found some friends running the pace I wanted to keep and hung out for the first 17 miles. They started to slow down and stop to tke walk breaks after the first 12 miles or so and I was feeling good. I tried to hang with them and help them push through the pain and gut it out, but they cramped up and couldn’t hold the pace so I took off in the last 3 miles and finished strong. 3:18 for the 20 mile run, about 5 minutes faster than last year’s time and I wasn’t really trying.

I didn’t realize until I got home and weighed myself that I was severely dehydrated. I had lost 8lbs. in sweat. No wonder my stomach was upset, I was shivering even after a hot shower, and I had a dull headache. Spent the rest of the day on the couch watching Mean Girls. I’m not a fan of basketball and it was the only thing on. I ended up falling asleep anyway so it didn’t really matter what I was watching. Went to bed at 6:30pm! Let the taper begin!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My biggest challenges

1. Dealing with Boredom during Taper
2. Staying motivated/pushing through rough spots
3. Deciding what do I do next?

I know my taper doesn’t officially start until NEXT week, but the madness is setting in a little early. After running a total of over 30 miles this past weekend, I decided it would be a good idea to take a rest day on Monday. Work went by sort of slow and by mid-afternoon when I was heading home I was already bored. I stopped at the grocery store and picked up a few things and went home. Unloaded my groceries, put a load of laundry in, set out ingredients to bake some cookies and waited for the butter to soften. Meanwhile, I caught up on some TV and read the new Dean Karnazes book. I baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies and then looked at the clock and realized it was not even 5:00 yet, so I baked some oatmeal cookies too. Downside of taper for me is boredom, benefit for my friends is I tend to bake when I’m bored.

Tuesday, I returned to the gym after work, but I was feeling kind of “blah”. Maybe because I ate a few too many of the cookies I baked or maybe delayed fatigue from the running and racing over the weekend, either way I was not very motivated. I pushed through an hour on the eliptical and called it quits. I could have done some strength training, but it’s my least favorite thing to do on a good day so, it’s the first thing to fall off my “to-do” list on a bad day.

Wednesday was much better. The day at work flew by and I got to the gym pumped and ready to go. I decided to do the treadmill workout that may be the magic behind my recent speed over distance and feeling like I have rocket shoes. (100 jump rope skips + 2 mile treadmill run on incline increasing speed with each interval + 2 mile bike to recover from run) x 4, would like to do 5, but it already takes me about 2 hours to complete so one more interval would be a bit much.

The first interval felt a little sluggish and slow, but I decided to continue and try to relax into a groove. My first few miles are always the toughest anyway. Second interval was a lot better. I relaxed and found my groove. Third interval I kicked it up a notch and increased the incline AND the speed. For the last interval I decided to make the run my timed 2 miler for the week (a mini-challenge at the gym – try to beat your own time week to week). My previous week’s 2 miler was 16:10 and I was determined to get under 16:00. I started out a little slow and increased the speed every quarter mile until I was at an all out sprint for the last half mile. Stopped the clock at .......... 15:50!!!!! Beat my time by 20 seconds!

Finally, I know I haven’t even reached my current training goal, but my mind is already wandering to “what next”? I have been looking at various triathlons for the summer and over the past two years I have debated doing a half ironman. I really want that 70.3 sticker for my car. So, I registered for one. It’s not until September so I have all summer to train and there’s a full turkey dinner at the finish!

Monday, March 21, 2011

4 weeks to go!

I kind of feel bad for my friends right now because I'm so focused on Boston it's all I talk about. Only 4 more weeks then I'll be talking about summer races. Hahaha

What an amazing week I had last week!!!!!!!

Tuesday, I did a timed 2 mile run in 16:10, trying to get under 16:00. Will attempt again this week. Then I went for a 6 mile hill run with a friend.

Wednesday, I discussed active rest with the trainers at the gym because it's the one thing I struggle the most with - REST. Who woulda thunk it, I'd rather run 18 miles than take a rest day. I ended up doing 45 minutes on a stationary bike to kill time and try not to raise my heart rate too much. It was a fun challenge.

Thursday, I did another 6 mile hill run with another friend and visited our running friend that just had her baby girl, Ryann Ann, on Monday. Adorable!

Friday, did a nice easy 7 miler and some yard work because it was gorgeous out.

Saturday, 18 miler at race pace. I felt AMAZING! I still can't believe how awesome I did. I went out easy in the first 4 miles and then found my stride and held onto it for the rest of the run and even picked up the pace in the last 3 miles. Here are my splits:
1- 10:33
2- 9:44
3- 10:34
4- 9:55
5- 9:25
6- 9:17
7- 9:48
8- 9:33
9- 9:20
10- 9:35
11- 9:07
12- 9:22
13- 9:31
14- 10:23 (huge hill)
15- 9:55
16- 8:55
17- 9:08
18- 8:56

After the run I got lunch at Life Alive and brought some food to my friend and visited with the new baby again.

Sunday morning was the Historic Quincy half marathon. I wasn't expecting to break any records considering that I ran 18 the day before and did it super fast. So, I met up with a friend from the Thursday night Crossroads runs and decided to try and stick with his pace. We were targeting 10:00s for the first 3 miles and ended up going out quite a bit faster. I felt really good. When we reached the first water stop my friend stopped and I kept going. He never caught up. I was in the zone. I reached the half and realized I was on pace to PR and maybe even break 2 hours. I just needed to run 9:00s or less for the last 5 miles. AND I DID IT!!!!!!!!! Here are my splits for the race:
1- 9:13
2- 9:13
3- 9:13
4- 9:12
5- 9:09
6- 9:14
7- 9:04
8- 8:58
9- 8:58
10- 9:13
11- 9:01
12- 8:43
13- 8:22
.1- 7:16

I felt like I had rockets on my shoes. I need to go back to the running store and get another pairs. Like Forrest Gump said, "they were my magic shoes".

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Time Flies when you’re training for a marathon

I can’t believe it’s been over a week since my last update. Holy Cannoli! (oh, man that makes me want to go get a cannoli in Worcester at Wholly Cannoli it’s an amazing little bakery, but I’m getting off track)

OK, so here’s the short summary of what I’ve been up to:

Saturday March 5th – 18 mile training run
Sunday March 6th – Claddagh Classic 4 mile race
Monday March 7th – Spin for Hope cycling event for American Cancer Society
Tuesday March 8th – Strength/30 mins elliptical/7.2m hill run
Wednesday March 9th – REST DAY
Thursday March 10th – Strength/60 mins elliptical/Newton Hills run with friends
Friday March 11th – (100 jump rope skips/2m dreadmill run/2m bike) x4
Saturday March 12th – 16.5 mile training run
Sunday March 13th – Hynes Tavern 5 miler race (plus 1.25 mile run there and 1.25 mile run home)
Monday March 14th – Strength/60 mins elliptical

Let me see if I can go back now and fill in the details. My 18 miler was AMAZING! It was relatively warm out (~40 degrees) and sunny and I did my favorite hilly loop through Tewksbury into Andover, back to Tewksbury and then back to Lowell. I averaged a really good pace and felt great the entire time. I raced home because I had plans to go out to lunch with my running buddies to my favorite Lowell eatery – LIFE ALIVE. I made it home with just enough time to do a 20 minute soak in an ice bath and then a quick defrost in the shower. Lunch with the Lowell Ladies was great. It was nice to catch up because we hadn’t been doing our weekly runs for a while.

Sunday was the Claddagh Classic 4 miler. It’s a torturous course with a hill I like to refer to as a WALL because it’s so steep. I dressed for the occasion in a cute green and black kilt. It was sunny and really warm, mid-50s. The only good thing about the giant hill on the course is getting to fly down the back side of it screaming “ON YOUR LEFT!!!!!!!!!” to everyone as I blow past them. The benefit of being a slightly heavier than average runner……gravity is your friend on downhills. I finished the 4 miles in 35:17, a new PR for the course.

Monday and Tuesday went by pretty fast, I was stressed about work still AND it was time for my annual review which was scheduled from Monday and then got rescheduled for Tuesday, prolonging the anxiety. I was terrified, but pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

Wednesday, I brought my stuff to go to the gym and I was totally ready for a workout after work, but decided it had been a while since my last rest day and my body would thank me for the break, so I went home and relaxed.

Thursday, was time for another Newton Hill run. This time, Charles and I drove together and met up with my friend Scott and his friend and first time Boston marathoner, Paula. Paula is running for the Greater Lowell Road Runners (GLRR, or as I like to refer to them “Good Looking Road Runners”). Since it was only Scott’s second run on the course and Paula’s first, I stayed with them over the hills and then picked up the pace into Boston. Charles ran with the wicked fast guys. My pace was a lot slower than usual because I wanted to make sure Scott and Paula didn’t get lost, but it was still a great run and sometimes it’s good to do lower intensity workouts.

I made up for it on Friday with a super high intensity interval workout. I did the (100 jumps + 2 mile Dreadmill run + 2 mile bike) x 4 workout and I did the dreadmill runs on an incline increasing the speed every quarter mile until I was totally maxed out and dying. My last 2 mile split was 16:35.

Saturday morning, I started to sort of regret that high intensity workout when I went out for my 16 mile run. Granted it was a “recovery” week for me and I was backing down on mileage, but the first 3 miles my legs felt like lead weights. I went out nice and easy and just loosened up, then I found my stride and fell into a great rhythm. I made up the time I lost in the first 3 miles and still averaged sub-10:00s for the entire run. I felt so good at the end of the run I added on a half mile just to keep going. After the run, was another ladies lunch at Life Alive. I brought one of my marathon cheering signs slightly modified for my pregnant running buddy Kim. It said “THE RACE BIRTH IS THE REWARD FOR THE TRAINING PREGNANCY” and on the opposite side it said “THE PAIN IS TEMPORARY, THE PRIDE LASTS FOREVER” She loved it and brought it with her to the delivery room the next day.

Sunday was the Hynes Tavern 5 miler and the last of the 3 races in the Wild Rover Series. I sported my kilt one more time and ran another PR! 43:08. Not bad considering I ran 16.5 the day before and I ran 1.25m to the race (and then 1.25m home). It was really windy out too. Strong headwinds for the entire race. Still lots of fun. After the race I went grocery shopping and made myself some yummy butternut squash brown rice risotto and sauted baby spinach and baked some chicken to go with it. Not a bad way to finish up the week and head into a new week with only 35 days to go until the marathon.

Oh and FYI, my bib# is 23195.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Challenging but rewarding

That pretty much sums up this week. Tuesday, I had another lovely day in hell despite my best efforts to focus on my job and get work done, work managed to ruin another 8hrs of my life. I left almost in tears, frustrated and overwhelmed with stress. I skipped the gym and opted for a 90-minute therapy session instead (massage therapy, that is). It was exactly what I needed, not just for my mental health, but for my tired muscles too. I felt so good afterwards that I went straight home and changed into my running clothes and went out for a 7 mile run. Just me, the road, a new pair of running shoes, and my thoughts.

Wednesday was a new day and I went to work optimistic and ready to face the day with lots of positive energy, then my computer decided to be totally whack again and prevented me from doing any work at all. I took a break from waiting for the helpdesk to call me and fix the problem and went to eat breakfast. It’s my favorite part of my entire day. I get 5-10 minutes of peace while I jam my food in my mouth and I try to savor the whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter, banana, and honey on it in as few bites as possible so I don’t get in trouble for sitting at my desk too long. Well, on my way back to my desk, drooling over my delicious creation in anticipation of the joy I get from eating it, I DROPPED IT and spilled scalding hot tea all over myself and honey and peanut butter and banana went everywhere BUT in my mouth. I was devastated and almost lost it right there in the hallway. I got some paper towels and mopped up my mess and went back to my desk empty handed and hungry and waited some more for my computer to magically start working again.

After 4hrs of staring at my screen unable to do anything and no response from the helpdesk, I left and used another 4hrs of personal time to get outta dodge. I went to the gym and did a quick 20 minute upper body circuit (oh and I found my missing jump rope!), ran 2 miles on the treadmill for time (new challenge at the fitness center, I did it in 16:38), then 60 minutes of intervals on the elliptical.

Thursday, I made plans with some friends to go into Boston and run the Newton hills. We were able to leave on time and even got there a little early, met up with the other runners at Crossroads and headed to the T station to go to Newton. Somehow my friend Scott and I missed the train everyone else got on and ended up waiting 10 or 15 minutes for the next one. We made it to Newton by 6:50 and started running up the hills. Immediately I remembered how amazing the Boston marathon is and how awesome it felt to run that section of the course. Here are the splits for the run:

Mile1 - 10:01 (First hill, over a few obstacles and around lots of ice)
Mile 2 - 8:28 (When Scott asked me "why are we running so fast?")
Mile 3 - 9:41 (second hill)
Mile 4 - 9:47 (third hill)
Mile 5 - 9:50 (heartbreak)
Mile 6 - 10:15 (cleveland circle, Scott stopped to tie his shoe)
Mile 7 - 9:29 (Eagles Deli, mmmmmm, burgers smell so friggin good)
Mile 8 - 9:33 (Hotel, motel, Holiday Inn, bonus hill)
Mile 9 - 9:30 (Kenmore Square, mass pike bump, I hate that bump)
Mile 10 (the last 400yrds) - 8:14

This is probably about a minute faster per mile than my pace last year over the hills. Totally ready to tear it up on April 18th!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Frozen Shamrock Race recap

Sunday's snow ruined any chance I had of getting in a long run, but the race in Haverhill was on. I got my green plaid mini skirt on (with under armour underneath to stay warm) and put little green bows on my sneakers and headed off to the race. It was slushy and still snowing a little, but not too bad. The roads were clear for the most part and afterall, it was just 3 miles. I've run longer in worse conditions so I wasn't worried.

The race started promptly at 1:00pm. It was a bit crowded at the start and as people dodged puddles and ice the pack slowed down dramtically around the first few corners, but after that it opened up. I was able to power up the first hill past a bunch of people and I was looking forward to really opening up on the downhill and picking up some speed. Unfortunately, the only section of road that was NOT cleared was the downhill. It was covered in hard packed snow and ice. So I had to slow down. Coming over the bridge into the last mile the wind picked up and made it a little more challenging, but I gutted it out and finished strong in 25:45. I wonder how fast I would have been without the snow.

After the race I enjoyed what I really went there for, the beef stew. OMG it's so good. I don't care how nasty the weather is I will always run this race just for the stew. I had my cup of stew and headed out and on my way home I realized I was really close to my favorite running store and totally due for a new pair of shoes. So, I stopped in and got some shiny new asics 2150s on sale!

My plan after that was to go grocery shopping and then go home and take a nap on the couch for the rest of the day. Clearly I didn't think this plan through very well because I was still wearing my green plaid mini skirt. I got a few funny looks in the store, but whatever, I looked good.

Yesterday, I went to the gym after work and attempted my (100 jump rope jumps + 2 mile dreadmill run + 2 mile bike) x 4 workout, but half way through the last set I got a bad case of boo boo belly and had to stop. So, I only got in 7 miles instead of 8 and didn't do the last 2 miles on the bike. I went home and made acorn squash with swiss chard and white beans. It was delicious. My tummy eventually settled, but I still feel a little yucky this morning. I'm hoping it passes.