About that blogging hiatus.

It’s been a couple of months since my last post. Anyone who read either of my last two posts probably saw the hiatus coming, or at least wouldn’t be surprised by my blogging absenteeism.

In summary, I’d been struggling to try to train for the Paris Marathon fighting a stubborn case of ITB Syndrome. I’d seen some signs of improvement, then the injury came back with a vengeance. As my training derailed throughout the month of February, every long run ended up being abandoned because I couldn’t bend my knee without that signature stabbing feeling on the outside of my knee. And I just didn’t want to make myself miserable by reliving the whole experience just to write a blog post. So I stayed away from blogging, and I think it was a good thing.

IMG_6964

Alter G selfie from an 8 mile run – one of the longest I finished without having to stop.

Into March, training improved a little bit. I figured out how to loosen up and stretch out the ITB area when it locked up during a run. What this meant was that I’d run 6-10 miles at an easy pace, then once it started, I’d have to repeat the cycle of running and stretching until I finished, sometimes every third of a mile. Even though my training improved again in March, I never ran more than 16 miles, and then only once. I never ran more than 11 or 12 miles without having to stop to stretch. I knew I was way undertrained for Paris. I seriously contemplated bagging the marathon and just enjoying a vacation.

IMG_6963

I did enjoy SOME of my runs this training cycle.

In the middle of all that, some other things happened:

  • I got a new job. This was totally unexpected; I loved my old job! A former colleague – one of my favorites – reached out to me about a position in her group. My initial reaction was to “just hear them out,” but the more I learned, the more it turned into something I couldn’t turn down. I joined the Assurance Risk Management group at a global accounting firm, which basically entails doing all kinds of things to help the firm’s professionals perform the highest quality audits.
  • I got into the NYC Marathon lottery. So that was unexpected. And not great timing given how Paris training went. I’m keeping an open mind about running this year vs. deferring to 2017…going to wait until I get back into the swing of warm-weather running before making any decisions.
  • I let running be “just running” and let it go when I wasn’t training. I have a tendency to get a little obsessive about whatever “big thing” I have going on – this was definitely the case during my last marathon cycle. This go-round, I generally did whatever training-thing I had on the calendar, then went about the rest of my life without much thought of training (or lack thereof). I hosted a brunch shower for my friend Britt the day after one spectacularly bad attempt at a long run. I finally got to feed people my breakfast pizza!
    IMG_8032

    There was food too.

     

Beyond all that, I voted in the primary, tweeted nearly every debate, got a charcoal grill, made a bunch of new recipes, and played with friends’ kids. Truth is, playing with babies is a great way to chill out after the worst of possible training runs.

Then I went to Paris, ran/jogged/walked a marathon, and spent two weeks gallivanting around Europe. I’ll get to the Paris recap soon enough, but I felt like writing a catch-up post before diving into all that.

Congrats to all of you who finished London and Boston and did other cool things while I was away!

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Paris Marathon Training – Weeks 7-9

The recap in which training gradually falls apart

I’ve gotten behind on these training recaps. I’ve had more than usual going on personally and professionally – some good, some bad, none expected. I had already written most of the week 7 recap, so it’s more detailed than the others.

Week 7: 1/25 – 1/31

Monday:

  • Plan: 3 miles easy + 4 strides + rehab exercises + strength
  • Actual: 3 miles @ 10:00/mile + rehab exercises + strength

Um, totally forgot the strides, but it was a gorgeous day for a lunchtime run. I decided to go ahead and deal with the nuisance of getting a running photo, which I promptly forgot to Instagram.

atlanta beltline running

So I’ll add my graffiti running photo to the Internet’s collection.

Seriously, this was more of an ordeal than it was worth, and I seriously wonder how people who Instagram running photos multiple times a week do it. #shareyoursecrets

I went to the gym for my strength workout, and it was – unfortunately – a day to get the opportunity to check off new feats of strength to see how strong you’re getting! Unfortunate because I get way too competitive with myself in these kinds of situations and work harder than I should considering I’m also training for a marathon. So shortsighted. Anyway, the feats of strength were related to variations of squats, strict pull-ups, and bar dips. I did a lot better with dips than pull-ups, and right now I’m just not limber enough to do what’s next for squats, which is a full butt-to-heel pistol squat. After attempting the feats of strength, there was a workout to challenge the muscles I had just worked to failure – pull-up negatives, rows, stuff like that – so it was hard. Even lunges with racked kettlebells made my arms feel like chicken wings.

Tuesday:

  • Plan: Rest day
  • Actual: Rest day

HOLY MOTHER OF DOMS. There was not one direction that I could move my arms without nearly recoiling from the soreness.

Wednesday:

  • Plan: 5 miles w/ 6 x 1:00 @ 5k pace, 2:00 jog recovery + rehab exercises + strength
  • Actual: Rest

The thought of swinging my arms for just an easy run would have brought me to tears, so after a full day of lecture-style training with a nasty headache, no way was I getting through a faster workout, even if it was a relatively easy cutback-week workout. No unplanned rest day has ever been such a no-brainer.

Thursday:

  • Plan: Rest day
  • Actual: 5 miles w/ 6 x 1:00 @ 5k pace, 2:00 jog recovery + rehab exercises + mini-strength

Annnnddd we’re back. I didn’t get to this workout until after dark, so I decided to take it to the treadmill in my office gym. The faster portion was fine, but the other miles were so boring.

I didn’t have time to get a proper strength workout in, and my upper body was still pretty angry, but I did a mini-strength workout focused on lower body after my rehab exercises. My office gym has a few kettlebells, so I did 3 sets of 20 kettlebell swings, 3 sets of 10 kettlebell deadlifts, 2 sets of 10 goblet squats, and 2 sets of 10 Bulgarian split squats.

Friday:

  • Plan: 3 miles + 4 strides + Myrtls
  • Actual: Rest day

I thought about skipping the rest day and taking this run really easy, but I ran about one minute and decided my body needed the day off.

Saturday:

  • Plan: 12 miles w/ last 3 @ GMP (9:25) + core
  • Actual: 3 miles @ 9:52/mile + 4 strides

Slacked on the Myrtls. GUILTY.

I’ve had a couple pairs of shoes wear out on me lately, and since I’ve had an injury recently, I decided to head over to see what the pros recommended shoe-wise.

I don’t want to take over this post with the nitty gritty of what went down (although I learned some interesting things that may warrant a future post), but a proper video analysis at West Stride confirmed what I expected – mostly neutral/slightly supinated gait. I tried on a few pairs in the “daily trainer” category, and to my surprise I ended up in the Brooks Ghost. I’ve previously tried out Brooks shoes from the Pure line, which never really felt quite right on my foot. But the Ghosts were the shoes that felt so comfortable on, fit like a glove, and allowed me to go through a comfortable stride without feeling like I had to really “muscle through” any part of my stride (unlike others I tried).

IMG_6905

Sunday:

  • Plan: Yoga
  • Actual: 12 miles w/ last 3 @ GMP (9:21/8:59/9:09) + 26 minutes core + 15 min stretching-oriented yoga

The elusive marathon pace. I’m not of the mind that “I ran faster, yay me” because I don’t feel like I’m ready to run a whole marathon at those paces, so I kind of screwed up the point of the workout by running faster than I should have. But it did feel nice at the time.

During the GMP miles, I felt my shorts chafing my right thigh, but decided to sacrifice my skin for the confidence that would come with executing my GMP miles. I implore you, please never do this to yourselves. One week has passed and my skin is still not 100%. Once I was finished with the run, I looked down and saw blood all over my right thigh. This wasn’t just a slight chafe.

silver comet running

You didn’t think I was going to show a bloody chafe photo, did you? I’m far too queasy to ever see blood on purpose.

Week 7: 23 miles

As for my resolutions to run healthy in 2016:

  • Rehab/core work – C: I did 3/4 of the planned core/rehab/Myrtl routines on my schedule.
  • Sleep – B: I hit my 8 hour goal every night except one, but I didn’t feel rested. Most nights, I was waking up in the middle of the night and I’d have a hard time going back to sleep. By Thursday, I was exhausted and went to bed before 9pm, which may have helped me “reset” – I haven’t had serious sleep interruptions since then.
  • Nutrition – C: I’m going to have to find a reliable way to track my fruits and veggies. I didn’t do it this week. I know I had some good days, but the point was to actually keep track.
  • “Body maintenance” – B: I did the bare minimum of stretching and foam rolling, and I checked the box with Sunday yoga, but after moving my schedule around I wasn’t up for much more.

I didn’t track these resolutions over weeks 8 & 9.

Week 8: 2/1 – 2/7

Monday:

  • Plan: 3 miles easy + rehab exercises + strength
  • Actual: 3 miles @ 10:20/mile + rehab exercises + strength

Felt some discomfort near the bottom-inside portion of my left thigh, close to my left knee. UGH.

Tuesday:

  • Plan: 4 miles easy + 4 strides + core
  • Actual: Rest

I was at work late (unexpectedly), then saw my late night as an opportunity to let whatever was bothering me on Monday’s run rest and heal.

Wednesday:

  • Plan: 7 miles w/ 3 x mile @ tempo, :90 jog recovery + rehab exercises + strength
  • Actual: Rest day

I had a morning dermatologist appointment, and I told the doctor I’d had my eye on this spot on my chest. He said it didn’t concern him much, but he’d do a biopsy to be safe. This was my first skin biopsy, and it took more skin than I expected. When the nurse gave me care instructions for the wound, one of the explicit instructions was to keep it dry for a day.

Me: So, does that mean I can’t go for a run?

Nurse: Well, do you sweat when you run?

Me: [head drops] yes.

Thursday:

  • Plan: Rest day
  • Actual: 7 miles w/ 3 x mile @ tempo (8:35/8:32/8:28) + rehab exercises + strength

Left quad pain was still there, maybe at a 3/10 on the pain scale.

Friday:

  • Plan: 3 miles + 4 strides + Myrtls
  • Actual: Chiro + 3 miles @ 10:08/mile + Myrtls

I got in to see my chiro that morning, who worked on the area and diagnosed insufficient quad strength as a contributing factor. He gave me an exercise to do, which I could do at my desk (it’s just using the quads to straighten the knee from a bent position).

My run did not go well. I had to stop around the end of the second mile to stretch/massage that spot in my quad. It started bugging my left knee a little bit as well. I skipped the strides.

Saturday:

  • Plan: 15 miles + core
  • Actual: 1.6 miles @10:42/mile + lots of foam rolling

Since I’d moved my tempo run to Thursday, the plan was just to get in 3 easy miles and some strides. I stopped as soon as there was discomfort – no point in sabotaging the long run.

Sunday:

  • Plan: 15 miles + core
  • Actual: 15 miles @ 11:04/mile + core

This run was horrible on so many levels. 1) I didn’t feel fit at all. 2) that spot in my left quad was bugging me for the majority of the run. 3) I was angry at everyone and everything because of 1&2. (How dare that asshole on the bike pass me so quickly? Brag about your modern technology a little more, jerk.)

In the last 6 miles or so, I made a concerted effort to be positive. One thing I noticed was that my right ITB didn’t hurt at all. That was the best thing I could come up with (and it was indeed a good thing!)

I got home and alas, my right ITB felt like the last two months of rehab hadn’t happened. Mega pissed. Mega discouraged. I don’t have anything positive to say, other than I’m glad I have other things going on right now to distract me from how training is going (or, not going, as the case may be).

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Current mood.

Week 8: 30 miles

Week 9: 2/8 – 2/14

Monday:

  • Plan: 4 miles easy + rehab exercises + strength
  • Actual: Nada

Right knee at ITB insertion point hurt just walking around. Lot of ice. Lot of foam rolling. Panicked call to the chiropractor’s office.

Tuesday:

  • Plan: 4 miles easy + 4 strides + core
  • Actual: Chiro + rest

My chiro was out of town, so I got squeezed in to see his partner, Dr. Glass (who is so nice – I really love their practice). Dr. Glass wasn’t as concerned about the whole situation as I was, seeming to think it was just a setback. As he was testing my hip range of motion while I was lying on my stomach, it was so obvious that my right hip isn’t moving nearly as well as my left. The difference was pronounced.

I got some homework which is just a simple variation on foam rolling + static stretching, but I really like it. The idea is to sandwich some light static stretching into your foam rolling – so if you’re rolling your quads, take a break in the middle and do 5 5-second static stretches, then resume rolling. As for hip mobility, Dr. Glass’s recommendation was just to do a few leg swings intermittently throughout the day. So simple. That I can do.

He recommended a test run Thursday, and to do my long run on a loop so I could stop if needed.

Wednesday:

  • Plan: 7 miles w/ 3-5 @ tempo + rehab exercises + strength
  • Actual: Rest

I considered going to the gym and cross-training, but after staying late at work again, I decided to focus on rolling and stretching. Oh, and I found out Jeff had the flu. Influenza B. So there was some care taking involved.

Thursday:

  • Plan: Rest day
  • Actual: 3 mile test run @ 10:30/mile + rehab exercises + PT

This run didn’t feel too bad. I could sense that my quad pain was worse the more I flexed my knee, and I also felt a dull ache under my left kneecap post-run.

I had a PT appointment, and holy smokes did that spot in my quad freak out when he needled it. I felt cautiously optimistic that it would really help.

Friday:

  • Plan: 3 miles + 4 strides + Myrtls
  • Actual: Rest day

I was pretty sore from the needling. Much needed day off.

Saturday:

  • Plan: 16 miles + core
  • Actual: 3 miles @ 10:15/mile + strides + Myrtls

I really got after the foam rolling and stretching post-run. I felt ready to take on my 16 miler after this run.

Sunday:

  • Plan: 16 miles + core
  • Actual: 8 miles @ 10:37/mile + core

I normally actively avoid repeating loop routes for a long run, so the loop I chose was one I’m not terribly familiar with, and it really wasn’t ideal (unavoidable road camber + too much opposing traffic to get off the side of the road). I called it quits shortly into the 9th mile. My left quad and right ITB had been feeling angry, then my left ITB started hurting. I felt like collapsing on the ground in dramatic fashion, but I would have probably hurt something else picking myself up. So I just stopped running and walked the rest of the way back.

None of the pain was horribly acute, and if it had been a race, I absolutely could have kept running. My level of discomfort felt about like last week’s run did, which sidelined me for several days. I hope that by cutting it short, I gave myself a fighting chance to get back on track with my training. What I did last week didn’t work, so I’ll just try something different and hope for the best.

Week 9: 14 miles

Right now I don’t have anything positive to say about training. I don’t want to train for a marathon anymore. If I were training for the Publix Marathon or something else close by, I would absolutely throw in the towel and let all this junk heal properly before training for another race. Any hopes of a PR in Paris are wild dreams right now. All I can hope for right now is to be healthy enough to continue training, finish the race, and stuff myself with croissants, cheeses, and Bordeaux when it’s done.

Paris Marathon Training – Week 6

Ahhhhh, the return of the federal holiday and the four-day work week. This week was set up to be great on both ends. It began with a long weekend and ended with a dear friend’s wedding. And all the training in between!

Week 6: 1/18-1/24

Monday: 

  • Plan: 3 miles easy + rehab exercises + optional strength training
  • Actual: 3 miles @ 10:25/mile + rehab exercises + strength training + chiro
john lewis quote

This quote from Rep. John Lewis is painted on a wall just down the block from my apartment. I love being in an environment where I’m reminded of the work we have before us to reach the true ideals of our country’s founding – for everyone, not just land-owning white males 🙂

I have a real fondness for MLK Day for a couple of reasons: I live in Dr. King’s old neighborhood, and about 90% of my running routes go past the MLK Historic Site. I love seeing all the tourists and catching snippets of the history they’re getting on their tours of the site. I guess you could say that being in the neighborhood keeps the importance of the civil rights movement on my mind. Also, I extra-love MLK Day because I never got MLK Day off during my time working in public accounting, because busy season. Practicing CPAs, all my love to you these days. Stay strong and treat your body as well as you can. If you have to cry, I’ll be with you in spirit in the last bathroom stall.

My street was closed off for the MLK Day March. I couldn’t drive to my normal flat route, so I took a hilly route out my front door instead. It was an okay run, but afterwards I knew my ITB still wasn’t ready for the hills. The discomfort wasn’t intense, but it felt like I’d regressed in my recovery by a couple of weeks.

My chiro did some much-needed work on my right hip and knee, and unfortunately there were some new nasty spots in desperate need of release.

I tried to take it a little easy with strength training that evening since I’ve been struggling with DOMS into Wednesdays each of the last couple of weeks. The workout was heavy on back/arms/core, and it included LONG negative push-ups (20 seconds! It took me until the third set to get the timing right), alternating one-arm kettlebell swings, leg raises against a resistance band (love), and my very favorite new exercise – I’m actually considering writing a post to commemorate my love for this one – half Turkish get-ups with a press.

Tuesday:

  • Plan: 4 miles easy + 4 strides + core
  • Actual: 4 miles easy @ 10:06/mile + strides + core

Cold, windy, dark, unremarkable run. Except that I rocked this awesome navy-on-navy outfit under my reflective vest. With Monday’s gym workout being somewhat core-heavy,  I streamlined the core work to focus on the types of movements that weren’t a part of Monday’s workout.

cold weather running outfit

You’re welcome for the running fashion advice. #notafashionblogger

Wednesday:

  • Plan: 6 miles w/ 2 x mile @ tempo (90 sec jog recovery) + rehab exercises + yoga or strength
  • Actual: 6 miles w/ 2 x mile @ tempo (8:36/8:30) + rehab exercises + strength training

We got some cold, rainy weather in Atlanta so I decided to take this workout to the treadmill. I so appreciate how this training plan is easing me into the longer tempo runs that I know are coming. This was a pretty fun, satisfying workout that didn’t leave me beat.

I felt like I recovered from Monday’s strength workout better than expected. Maybe my body is adapting to regular strength training. This workout was pretty tough: 5×5 deadlifts (I’m adding weight cautiously, so after the warm-up I did 2 sets of 105 and 3 sets of 115), man-makers, jumping split squats, and Tabata kettlebell swings (a surprisingly tough workout for just 4 minutes!)

Thursday:

  • Plan: Rest day
  • Actual: Rest day + PT

All the needling yet again. He hit all the usual spots (right hip, glutes, quad) and got into my left hamstring and calf (OWWW calf needling). I’ve had a gnarly spot in my right outer quad close to my knee that almost made me jump when it released. I’m hoping that’s a sign of good things to come!

Friday:

  • Plan: 3 miles + 4 strides + Myrtl routine
  • Actual: 3 miles @ 10:20/mile + travel to Dallas

I squeezed in 3 miles on a really iffy hotel gym treadmill in between landing in Dallas and my friend Laura’s rehearsal dinner. We got stuck in a nasty security line situation in Atlanta and didn’t have time to grab lunch to take on the plane, so I had a JD’s Chippery cookie before my run. No warm-up, no Myrtl routine, no strides.

Saturday:

  • Plan: 14 miles + core
  • Actual 14 miles @ 10:14/mile + nap

I had a nice run around White Rock Lake in the cold and sunshine. The only downside was there were more hills on the east side of the lake than I remembered, and I definitely felt that dull ache in my ITB come and go throughout the run.

white rock lake running dallas

I skipped the core work for a nap, ate a lot of Mexican food, then spent the evening celebrating the Bruders!

dallas wedding

the happy couple + adorable flower girls

college pals

college pals

dallas arboretum wedding

pretty bride

It was such a fun wedding – we danced most of the night to a fun band (even though they didn’t play any TSwift…I will forgive them.) Laura had college friends come in from all 4 time zones and more than one continent! She is that kind of person and friend – it’s not at all surprising that many friends would make long journeys to celebrate her. I loved every second of hanging out with this fantastic group of women, and as my friend Carly said, I wish we could do this every weekend!

The groom’s cake was Mexican Chocolate cake – yum! – and in addition to wedding cake there were also donuts. Who doesn’t love donuts? Between the dancing and the 14 mile run, I hit a new high for steps on my Fitbit – 37k steps. *pats self on back*

Sunday:

  • Plan: Optional cross-training + yoga
  • Actual: Travel home

I was really exhausted form the weekend and took not one but two naps. I did make some  food to kick off the week (with lots of veggies!), so I wasn’t entirely worthless (just mostly worthless).

Week 6: 30 miles

Not the best week for my resolutions to run healthy in 2016:

  • Rehab/core work – B minus: I got in all the rehab exercises, but I skipped core work after my long run in Dallas.
  • Sleep – B: I didn’t meet my 8 hour/night goal (I was around 7.5 hours on average), and I woke up in the middle of the night nearly every night.
  • Nutrition – C: I lost track mid-week of how I was doing against my fruit/veggies goal. I know I had some good days, but C seems like a fair grade given that I don’t know for sure how I did.
  • “Body maintenance” – B plus: I skipped yoga for the second week in a row (oops) and didn’t foam roll on my weekend away, but I did well with stretching/foam rolling during the week, and I had my chiro + PT appointments.

When you go out of town over a weekend, do you typically get your long run in beforehand or do you fit it into your trip? 

Do you try to have decently coordinated running outfits, or do you just grab what’s comfortable and weather-appropriate?

Paris Marathon Training – Week 5

Week 5: 1/11-1/17

Monday: 

  • Plan: 30-60 min cross-training + rehab exercises + optional strength training
  • Actual: 30 min easy spinning + rehab exercises + strength training

I planned my time perfectly, then forgot to bring my resistance bands to do all my rehab exercises between spinning and strength training. I did what I could before my strength workout – which included deadlifts, plyometrics, and some arms – then did the rest of my rehab exercises with bands once I got home.

In a quest to eat all my veggies, I made this Asian-inspired brown rice & quinoa bowl – the idea came from this NYT Food recipe but I added several things: most importantly, shiitake mushrooms sautéed with minced garlic and a little salt.

kimchi rice bowl with egg

I turned on the College Football national championship game and had a grand old time foam rolling and going through a few yoga poses. So my national championship game watching experience was…totally normal.

Tuesday:

  • Plan: 4 miles easy + 4 strides + core
  • Actual: 4 miles easy @ 9:36/mile + strides + core

I’m really not sure what happened with this run. I was sore from yesterday’s jumping split squats and squat jumps, and was super relaxed for a nice easy jog. From my effort, I wouldn’t have been surprised to look down and see 11:00 miles, so I was pretty surprised to see 30 seconds off my normal easy pace. My effort at the end got a little more labored, so I think I should have backed off more at the beginning.

adorable cat photo

This rascal loves core work time, if only to interfere.

Wednesday:

  • Plan: 6 miles w/ last 3 progression to tempo + rehab exercises + yoga or strength
  • Actual: Rest day

All the DOMS. Decided to switch Wednesday and Thursday.

Thursday:

  • Plan: Rest day
  • Actual: 6 miles w/ last 3 progression to tempo (9:23/8:54/8:36)

I ran after work, knowing I’d finish in the dark. I ran the same workout last week with slightly faster paces, although both were in the ranges that my plan called for.

I think I ran this week’s workout better than last week’s, even with the slower paces. I stayed more relaxed/controlled, and I had more gas in the tank when I finished. I saw my current Garmin pace get down to 8:05/mile in the last half mile (oops), backed off, and cruised the last quarter mile to the end. I felt great afterwards.

BUUUUT then I got home AND I was so hungry AND so I made dinner AND so I forgot my beloved rehab exercises. **sad face**

Friday:

  • Plan: 3 miles + 4 strides + Myrtl routine
  • Actual: 3 miles @ 10:14/mile + 4 strides + rehab exercises

Saturday:

  • Plan: 12 miles + core
  • Actual 12 miles @ 10:36/mile + core

After moving my tempoish workout to Thursday each of the last two weeks, I knew this one would be a little tough. It was. But it was a really beautiful day, and I did a full 25 minutes of core work at home later, which was a big win.

long run silver comet

Sunday:

  • Plan: Optional cross-training + yoga
  • Actual: Not a damn thing.

It was a holiday weekend and I felt like garbage. My Fitbit registered precisely 2000 steps. I did nothing.

Week 5: 25 miles

I saw some improvement in the resolutions I’m tracking for this training cycle:

  • Rehab/core work – A minus: I got in all the rehab exercises and core work, but I was lazy with the rehab exercises one day.
  • Sleep – A: Last week, I wanted to be more consistent with staying near my 8 hours/night goal. This week my sleep was on target according to my Fitbit…with a Sunday nap in there to pad my stats.fitbit sleep tracking
  • Nutrition – A: I hit my fruit/veggies goal like a champion! (I ate over a pound of spinach. It may have been overkill.) I had a smoothie after nearly every run, which made it so much easier to hit that fruit/veggie target. And I had just two meals from restaurants all week! Having friends with kids who invite you over for home-cooked deliciousness helps with this.
  • “Body maintenance” – C: I skipped yoga when I wasn’t feeling great, and I also missed an appointment with my foam roller. On second thought, do I get a “D” here?

How about you: do you have trouble getting enough fruits and veggies? Either way, let me know your secrets to getting your nutrition right. 

Paris Marathon Training – Week 4

If the work week is an endurance event, then the holidays really zapped me of my work-stamina. Wednesday felt like it should have been Friday, and that’s my week in a nutshell.

Week 4: 1/4-1/10

Monday: 

  • Plan: 30-60 min cross-training + rehab exercises + optional strength training
  • Actual: chiro + 40 min strength training

Last week, when I posted about how not planning enough time got in the way of my doing all the “little things” to keep myself injury-free, this was the day I was thinking about. I didn’t plan my day well and didn’t get the work done that I needed to do. The strength workout was a lot of shoulders/chest/triceps/back/core.

For the third chiro visit in a row, I got a resounding vote of confidence from Dr. Eng to keep up the good work and run all the miles. I’m starting to really notice how much better my hips, glutes, and quads feel with the work he’s been doing and my rehab exercises. He introduced the idea of getting on more of a “maintenance” schedule where I come in once a month. I think I could get on board with that idea next month, but right now I see the biweekly appointments as a security blanket – I know he’ll take care of whatever’s bugging me at least every two weeks.

Tuesday:

  • Plan: 4 miles easy + 4 strides + core
  • Actual: 4 miles easy @ 10:06/mile + strides + core

Just a nice easy, sunny, chilly run at lunchtime. I love winter lunchtime runs. I felt the slightest tinge of ITB pain after my run, so I spent some extra time foam rolling and in pigeon pose.

Wednesday:

  • Plan: 6 miles w/ last 3 progression to tempo + rehab exercises + yoga or strength
  • Actual: Rest day

My core was pretty sore from the last two days’ workouts, and when some unexpected appointments took up a part of my day I hadn’t planned for, I decided to switch my Wednesday and Thursday workouts.

I noticed that when I take the train to run errands (like grocery shopping), I get quite a few extra steps in my day. My Fitbit registered over 13k steps – which, with my desk job, is pretty good for a rest day.

Thursday:

  • Plan: Rest day
  • Actual: 6 miles w/ last 3 progression to tempo (9:12/8:50/8:23) + rehab exercises + PT

Another chilly lunchtime run, gray and a little foggy but really nice weather, and the workout went off without a hitch. I remembered to stay relaxed during the workout – sometimes I get anxious about workouts (I realize that is crazy, but it’s true).

Piedmont Park oval atlanta

As usual, I went to the PT with a lot of tightness through my right hip and outer quad, this week so much that my right leg pulled to the side when I fully relaxed it. He needled my right quad, piriformis, TFL, glute med (where I’d been feeling some soreness), and both my right and left psoas – those little boogers have been knotted up for over a year. I REALLY felt it in my right glute med for the rest of the day.

Friday:

I didn’t want to move my long run to Sunday, so I added in a rest day to help myself recover from Thursday’s workout. And I do love Friday rest days.

The end of the week finally came, and we celebrated by staying in with homemade veggie pizza and a movie.

Saturday:

  • Plan: 12 miles + core
  • Actual: 12 miles @ 10:45/mile + core

WOOF. This run was awful. It started out feeling funny and just never got better. I’m of the superstitious belief that if all your training runs are magical, your race will probably suck…at least that’s what I tell myself after days like this. I’m glad I got it done and I was extremely glad when it was over.

silver comet mableton ga

I bought two Powerball tickets with the spare change in my car, and managed 8 minutes of core work before throwing in the towel. Later, we had a busy night celebrating one of my favorite people’s 30th birthdays (happy birthday Sarah!!) and seeing off one of Jeff’s grad school classmates, who got a job with a construction software company in Silicon Valley. It was a much later night than I am accustomed to.

Sunday:

  • Plan: optional cross-training + yoga
  • Actual: 3 miles @ 10:09/mile + 15 min yoga

I slept in and was lazy most of the day after the exhausting Saturday. I made further strides toward perfecting the breakfast pizza – one egg on the crust and another broken over the toppings. I barely made it out the door before dark for the run, but I managed to get it done just before the sun went down.

breakfast pizza

Breakfast Pizza v2.0: mozzarella, egg, thinly sliced potato, caramelized onion, mushrooms, fresh tomato slices, sautéed spinach, Italian sausage, and more egg/mozz.

Week 4: 25 miles

I have mixed feelings about this week of workouts – it was just an okay week. I also had mixed results with respect to my 2016 resolutions:

  • Rehab/core work – C: I was 1 for 2 on rehab exercises, and 1.5 for 2 on core work (I cut Saturday’s short). But I’ll be honest, if I hadn’t gone through the exercise of breaking it all down and coming up with these resolutions, there’s no way I would have done any core work on Saturday.
  • Sleep – B: I made my average of 8 hours/night, but that included one 10+ hour night and a couple of nights when I came up more than 30 minutes short. I’d like to be more consistent.
  • Nutrition – C-minus: I only got my servings of veggies 3/7 days, and fruits just one day. I’m really glad I started tracking this, because it’s an area that I can definitely improve. (Is it just me, or is it harder in the winter?) I did eat just 5 meals out during the week, which was better than I hoped to do.
  • “Body maintenance” – A-minus: I could have done more yoga, but overall I was consistent with seeing the chiro/PT, foam rolling, and doing what I can to stay loose and limber.

How was your week of training/workouts? If you set any resolutions or goals, how are they coming along?

RnR Savannah / St. Jude Half Marathon Training – Weeks 1&2

I recently started “real training” for fall half marathons.

The long break from structured training following my knee injury was not all that bad, and perhaps even a bit rejuvenating. I kept a long-ish run of 7-8 miles most (but not all!) weeks, and tried to do a faster running workout once every week or two. I added strength training 2-3 times per week.

Ultimately, I like structure. I also don’t like second-guessing if I’m doing the right things with my training. My marathon training last year got off to a horrible start when I selected a plan that wasn’t right for me. I salvaged the experience by getting a custom training plan from Jason, which helped me turn the corner and have a great time training for my first marathon. I thought about designing my own training plan, but after last year’s experience, getting another plan from Jason was the option that made me feel most comfortable.

Week 1: 26 miles

Monday: 4 miles easy @ 10:42/mile; hip/glute strength

I ran 4 miles in the morning before getting my plan in the afternoon. The plan called for a rest day. It wasn’t a terribly challenging run, so I didn’t sweat it.

Tuesday: 6 miles w/ 3-5 @ tempo pace (9:28/mile overall); core; strength training (PM)

Tuesday morning tempo runs are back. The plan said to do miles 3-5 at tempo pace. While I felt fine during the first tempo mile, the second was brutal. In the heat and humidity, I could feel that my heart rate and level of exertion were higher than they should be for a tempo run, so I turned the third tempo mile into a fartlek (each 1:00 of hard running followed by 1:00 of recovery jogging). In retrospect, I probably pushed myself too hard at the beginning given the heat and humidity. Although I didn’t adhere 100% to the plan, I did what I could to salvage the workout. Splits for miles 3-5: 8:33, 8:40, 9:30.

Post-tempo-run core work cat photobomb

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: 5 miles @ 9:50/mile; 4 strides; strength training (PM)

Cute run sighting: Paris-inspired locks on the Cherokee Ave bridge

One of the main things I’m working on in strength training is my glute strength, so this was deadlift day with lots of squats and some upper body and core mixed in. I deadlifted 125 lbs. for the first time, but the trainer noticed that I’m still favoring my right side (stronger glute) during squats. Much work still to do.

Friday: 45 min. indoor cycling @ Torq Cycle

Saturday: 8 miles @ 10:46/mile

This was the worst run I’ve had in a while. I didn’t get out for my run early enough, and I paid for it with the heat and humidity. The first 5 miles averaged a 10:00/mile pace, which is on the slower end of what my plan calls for on long runs and about what I was planning for. Then the wheels fell off. I felt like I couldn’t breathe properly, my heart was racing, and my whole body was drenched in sweat. I walked hills and got the run done.

Sunday: 3 miles @ 10:55/mile; core

Bahston bound.

How I pack a work trip carry-on: half suits, half sweat.

Week 2: 26 miles

Monday: 4 miles @ 11:00/mile

This was supposed to be a rest day, but I was in Boston for work, and I couldn’t say no when one of my coworkers wanted to go for a run! We had a nice easy run and great conversation along the Charles River.

After dinner, I walked with a few coworkers to the North End to get a cannoli from Modern Pastry. Delizioso.

The best.

Tuesday: 6.5 miles w/ 3-5 @ tempo pace (9:06/mile overall); core; strength training (PM)

An oh-so-lovely tempo run along the Charles River. With the flat terrain and cooler temperatures, I actually dipped below the 8:30-8:45 pace I was aiming for while still feeling great. Splits for miles 3-5: 8:38, 8:29, 8:19.

Sweaty selfies aren’t my forte. That’s Faneuil Hall in the background.

My gym membership includes custom workout design for members who are traveling, using whatever equipment is available. My first workout was a deck of cards workout. I used the RipDeck app to get cards (if you want face cards, you have to select “intermediate”), and it was an uncomplicated, fun workout to do away from home.

Travel workout.

We had dinner at Strega, one of the North End’s many yummy Italian restaurants AND a good place for large groups. It’s a bit loud, but the food makes up for the ambiance. Strega also has a number of TV screens that are always playing classic movies like The Godfather. Some people love this or hate it. (I think it’s funny.)

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: 5 miles @ 9:32/mile; 4 strides; strength training (PM)

The first half of my run didn’t feel great, but it’s impossible to complain about running in Boston.

Charles River Esplanade

Travel workout: descending ladder sets (10, 9, 8,…1) of kettlebell deadlifts, floor press, bent row, and jumping split squats.

Friday: Rest

My glutes and hips were so sore from deadlifts and jumping split squats. A much needed day of rest and travel home.

Kane’s Donuts: worth visiting in the Boston Financial District. #recoverymeal

Also, sparkling rosé and gnocchi at Ristorante Fiore.

Saturday: 3 recovery miles (untimed and SLOW!)

The plan was to do an 8 mile long run here, but I was still really sore from my Thursday workout. Decided to switch up Sunday’s recovery run and Saturday’s long run.

Sunday: 8 miles @ 9:24/mile; core; yoga

Atlanta got a momentary respite from the heat and humidity, and my run definitely showed it/took advantage. It wasn’t quite 70 degrees by the time I started at 7 am, and less than 70% humidity. Despite being mostly uphill, I ran the last mile in 9:01.

Running in my hood.

I also got in a much-needed yoga class on Sunday, after my travel schedule interfered with my Sunday yoga routine the week before.

After a couple of rough runs the first week, I was so glad to have a beautiful week of running in Boston.

How about you: do you pack light for a business trip or take all the stuff?

Do you enjoy summer training or just endure it until the temperatures drop?

St. Jude Memphis Marathon Training – 2 Weeks to Go

Last week of training before Turkey Taper 2k14!

Total miles: 47 (!)
Total recommitments to good habits: 2
Status of said recommitments: improving and needing further improvement

Monday: unplanned rest day

I felt run down from all the traveling I’d been doing, plus Saturday’s rough long run left a bad taste in my mouth. Decided to begin my last real training week on a little extra rest.

Tuesday: 6 miles easy @ 11:06/mile; strides; hips

The plan was to do 7, but I had to squeeze in this run during my lunch break and get back for a conference call. Recommitting to “easy days easy” went really well on this run. And I did hip strengthening work! Pats self on back.

Piedmont park

Wednesday: 10 miles // 4-5 @ tempo pace; 6 x 1:00 @ 10k pace w/ 2:00 recovery; core

Another long treadmill run fueled by a long string of Fresh Air downloads. I felt really strong during this run, so I did the tempo portion at an 8:41/mile pace and the 10k portions at an 8:29/mile pace. It was a little bit faster than normal, but just by one treadmill increment. Also, Jeff showed up on the treadmill next to me. We seldom run or work out together, so it was fun having him there.

My right leg/hip was still bothering me, but has improved a good bit. On this run, I noticed that the discomfort went away as I ran faster. I’m not going to read too much into this for now, but it might be meaningful if it persists.

Thursday: 7 miles // 4-7 @ goal marathon pace

The plan called for steady-state pace, but I was pretty fatigued from the 10 mile Wednesday workout, and I skipped the normal rest day between the long workout and the steady-state run to get back on schedule.

It was another treadmill run, and I knew it was going to be rough when my normal super-slow-starting-pace, 5.5 mph on the treadmill, felt kind of hard. I felt really out of shape working so hard to run 9:41 marathon-pace-miles, but I’m sure the last 4 miles of the race will be even harder.

Friday: 4 miles easy @ 11:36/mile; strides; hips

EASY DAYS EASY!!!! I got this, y’all. I really needed a super easy run to recover from the week, and this did the trick.

Leaves

Saturday: 20 mile long run @ 10:09/mile

I finally made it to the hallowed 20 mile training run, and it was better than I expected it to be. After a slow start, I started feeling super strong, and that feeling never went away.  Even though my pace was quicker than normal, I felt like I was running quite conservatively until the last 3 or 4 miles. Other than the feeling of “I’ve been running for nearly 3.5 hours and walking is awkward,” I felt amazing after the run. I had gas left in the tank, and I had the time to reflect on how far I’ve come with my training (I even got a little emotional about it).

20 miler splits

After the run, Jeff made us beef and cabbage soup, and I ate three bowls 🙂 Then I woke up hungry in the middle of the night and ate a Larabar.

Is this normal? Do you guys get outlandishly hungry after a 20 miler?

St. Jude Memphis Marathon Training – 3 Weeks to Go

I didn’t spend a single day at home during Marathon Minus Three Weeks. I missed this furry little buddy.

furry buddy

Thankfully I get #littlebuddy updates while I’m out of town. Photo courtesy of Jeff, aka Stedman.

I was in Boston for work this week. (again!! I love Boston.) Boston in November is a bit of a weather-gamble, but we got lucky to be in town during a week that was about 10 degrees warmer than average.

Boston

This photo pretty much sums up the week of gorgeous weather.

Total Miles: 42

Monday: 7 miles easy @ 10:20/mi; hip strengthening work

My easy pace was quicker than normal from a combination of a) being amped from my half marathon on Saturday, b) being amped because I love Boston and love running in Boston, c) running late for work, and d) running perhaps a bit faster than I should have.

My leg pain flared up again a bit and I spent some quality time with the foam roller. Huge shout out to the Financial District Hilton for having a full assortment of foam rollers in the gym. This seemed to help.

Tuesday: 9.5 miles // miles 4-5 @ tempo pace; 6 x 1:00 @ 10k pace w/ 2:00 jog recovery; core work

My plan was to run 10 miles, but I was running late for work again and had to cut the run short. The theme of running too fast continued on this run. During both the tempo pace and 10k pace portions of the run, I looked down at my Garmin and found myself running about 0:30/mile too fast. My splits don’t clearly show it because the too-fast segments were offset by stoplights and hills. I attribute this poor pacing to the causes listed above.

Tuesday Workout

9.5 miles // 4-5 tempo; 6×1 10K

After this run, I started feeling the mystery leg pain in my right leg – not severely, but enough to make me aware of it. Fan-f-ing-tastic. More foam rolling and core work are clearly needed.

Wednesday: Rest day
Thursday: 8 miles // miles 4-7 @ steady state

This run was supposed to be 7 miles, but I got lost by Boston University campus and it became an 8 mile run. In other noteworthy occurrences, I nearly got run over crossing Massachusetts Avenue when I finally found a recognizable landmark (the bridge to the Charles River Esplanade) after getting lost by BU.

Charles River

Dear Boston: You are pretty and fun to run in. Except in the winter. XOXO, Sarah

Continuing the week’s theme, I ran too fast. In addition to the causes listed above, it was the same temperature as the rest of the week, but with a nasty wind chill that I didn’t dress for. Faster running = warmer body. Getting lost definitely slowed me down and moderated my split times to about the pace I was supposed to run (9:00-9:20/mi). I actually cut through a BU building (did not run; brisk walk) at one point because I was so lost.

11.xx ss splits

Friday: unplanned rest day; hip strengthening work; travel to New Orleans

I had a 4 mile easy run on the schedule, but I started feeling symptoms of a cold, and it was nearly freezing and rainy outside, so I just decided to rest up for my 19 miler on the schedule for Saturday.

I went straight to New Orleans from Boston (via LaGuardia, which by the way, has a super nice Delta terminal). We had dinner at Mr. B’s for our friend Randy’s birthday, and it did not disappoint.

cajun BBQ shrimp

BBQ Shrimp at Mr. B’s, highly recommended.

bib

This is what happens when you order BBQ shrimp

birthday bread pudding

This is what happens when you have a birthday: bread pudding!

I booked a room at the Roosevelt Hotel for the weekend with points. I got an upgrade to a suite, a points rebate, two free cocktails, and the room was so nice. I’m now a huge fan of this hotel.

Saturday:
Plan: 19 mile long run
Actual: 17.5 mile long run @ 11:14/mile

File this one away under “it’s not always your day” long runs. I had every intention of just going slow and steady, since I still felt a little cold-y, but I was super excited because Jeff found me an awesome route to run. Around mile 5, the pain that crept into my right leg earlier this week (was originally left leg, but that seems to have gone away) really came in with a vengeance. The streets and sidewalks in New Orleans are pretty rough, and I got to the point where I didn’t want to land on my right foot anytime I stepped off a curb/pothole/etc because I really felt the hip/upper thigh pain with every downward step. Running on the dirt on the streetcar route along St. Charles for part of the run was probably really helpful.

Audubon Park

Audubon Park

The run was fine and I enjoyed taking in the scenery until mile 15. This was basically the only hill in the entire run, an overpass over I-10. I was almost to the bottom of the overpass when I tripped and fell and got some pretty nasty New Orleans street grime in my scraped-up hands.

Sidebar: There was once a time in college when I went to happy hour before quarterbacking a flag football game. I got tackled by an overzealous Zeta and hit the ground pretty hard, no doubt a result of slow response time. I started crying in the most unattractive way possible. My friend Haley came over to see if I was ok, and upon realizing I was totally fine, she started laughing hysterically at my ridiculous sobbing. I realized how absurd I looked, and my sobs turned to heaving laughter.

I basically relived that moment lying face down on the side of the road on my long run, minus having Haley physically there to laugh at me (her cheer was there in spirit, and it was infectious). Once I recognized that I was basically in the same position with the same unattractive-crying as in that football game, I mustered a little laugh, got up, and kept running. I stopped at a gas station to wash my hands, drank a Gatorade, and resumed the run.

street view

Google street view of the place where I fell.

The run was going slow but OK until I arrived in a residential neighborhood and felt a call from nature. I slowed my stride a bit and hoped to find a business to patronize/use facilities. Before too long, I couldn’t even jog without feeling like I was going to involuntarily answer the call of nature. I’d walk, try to jog, have to stop immediately.

long run

Loooooong run.

By this time, I’d been running for 3 hours, I was a mile and a half from being done, and the prospect of walk/jogging the final 1.5 miles seemed ridiculous, especially with my hands in need of some serious antibiotic ointment. I called a cab and that was that. Best $11 I’ve ever spent.

I took the best shower of my life (the shower had not two but THREE shower heads), and Jeff brought me a muffuletta from Central Grocery. Post long run food is the way to my heart.

Muffuletta

Not just any muffuletta. The ORIGINAL muffuletta.

After a much-needed muffuletta coma, we went out, watched football, and spent the evening bar-hopping the French Quarter and eating po’ boys.

po boy

Grilled shrimp po’ boy from Erin Rose.

I think we stayed out until 1 or so – I did flame out earlier than the rest of the bunch, but it was still a respectable showing.

Sunday: Rest day; travel to Atlanta

I woke up at 10:45 and missed breakfast, so we had a delicious lunch at Mother’s. Jeff and I split the combination platter (jambalaya, etoufee, red beans & rice, collards, and potato salad) and the house special po’ boy, the “Famous Ferdi Special.” This isn’t something I would have ordered without direction from Jeff – it’s a ham and roast beef po’ boy sitting in roast beef gravy. It was PHENOMENAL. I ate it mostly with a fork and knife. I can’t even put into words what made it so good, because I don’t even like ham, but please please do yourself a favor and get this sandwich if you go to New Orleans. The combination platter was excellent as well, especially the jambalaya, but given a choice I’d have to rate the Famous Ferdi as #1.

Famous Ferdi Mother's New Orleans

The Famous Ferdi Special, so good it will take away your ability to take acceptable photographs.

For “dessert” we went to the French Quarter and had Frozen Irish Coffee from Erin Rose, also excellent. We spent the afternoon walking around the Quarter, popping in bookstores and art galleries and bars, witnessed an attempted robbery, then headed to the airport to go back home.

Frozen Irish Coffee

Erin Rose’s Frozen Irish Coffee

I love New Orleans. I haven’t eaten so well in YEARS. It’s easy to bounce back from an awful long run when there are so many wonderful things to do and eat with wonderful people.

I’m not certain of it, but I suspect that running at faster paces than normal in Boston contributed to my awful long run. It’s so tempting to give in to adrenaline and run as fast as you want, but I’m coming down off the adrenaline rush and am rededicating myself to “easy days easy, hard days hard.” Last week I rededicated myself to core and hip strengthening work, and I managed a total of 3 days doing hips/core this week, which is meh better than normal. I wonder what next week will bring on the rededication front?

(This is a no-brainer by the way. I will rededicate myself to not eating like a trash compactor. Other possibilities: updating my blog timely.)

All right guys, help me feel better about all my bad habits. Let me know about all those good habits you keep having to recommit to.

PS – I’m thankful that Thanksgiving Day is a day that allows for the suspension of all self-control or good-habit-forming. Live it up with your friends & family, and smother everything in gravy! I know I will!

St. Jude Memphis Marathon Training – 5 Weeks to Go

Here’s the first in a three-part series of training and travels I have not yet blogged about. I’m starting with three weeks ago, which was Marathon Minus Five Weeks.

Total miles: 45

Monday: Rest day
Tuesday: 7 miles easy @ 11:06/mile; strides
Wednesday: 10 miles // 1-3 easy; 4-8 tempo; 9-10 cool down

There is a slightly-longer-than-half-mile gravel track in a nearby park that I’ve been using for tempo runs. I did a boring record 10 laps around this oval during this run. It’s actually quite a pretty spot for a run, but I was decidedly unaware of the scenery while pounding out tempo-pace-miles.

piedmont park

Piedmont Park Active Oval // photo courtesy of Delta Sky Magazine

Once I got to the tempo-pace miles, the first one felt amazingly easy, like I could run a half marathon at that pace (spoiler: I did). The second mile was unremarkable, but the third felt like holy hell. Thankfully I’ve read enough articles in Runner’s World that I’ve heard of this nifty trick called visualization, and I imagined myself giving it my all in the last three miles of my upcoming half marathon. I’ve never been into visualization (it strikes me as something this weird guy from my grad school class would have liked) but in that moment it was very effective. I may be a visualization-convert.

tempo run

10 miles / 4-8 at tempo pace

Thursday: Rest day
Friday: 7 miles // 1-3 easy; 4-7 steady state

This run was tough because I woke up at 5 to get the run in before going to the office and taking a conference call, then I had to go to the airport and catch a noon flight. Of course it was dark and chilly, but I also felt soooo sleepy. In the first mile at steady state pace, I felt like I was dragging and was 0:20/mile off the pace I was aiming for. Once my legs woke up, the rest of the run was good; I was aided by a slight downhill in mile 6, and ended mile 7 on the 10th Street Hill of Death before jogging home.

steady state run

7 mile run // 4-7 steady state

By 1:00 in the afternoon, I was in my old homes in Texas (Dallas then Waco), reuniting with wonderful friends, eating Mexican food, and visiting our old campus haunts. Besides being Baylor homecoming weekend, this was a special weekend because it was our friend Switz’s last weekend in Texas before making the big move from Dallas to Lusaka, Zambia. Check out her story here and here and prepare to be impressed by this woman.

Baylor

Waco reunion essentials: Tex-Mex and cheesy Judge Baylor photo

We were so fortunate to be able to stay right by campus in an apartment with a couple of college girls. Jess and Anna were the hostesses with the mostest, and I wish I’d been half as cool as these cats when I was their age.

Saturday: 18 mile long run @ 10:32/mile

On Saturday, I ran in the morning before the 3:30 football game. The conditions for running couldn’t have been more perfect – low 50s, sunny, and most of all, FLAT Texas terrain.

Waco Lasalle

Mile 1 of my run; aka Asphalt Pancake

For those of you who are familiar with Waco, I ran from campus to Cameron Park (about 5 miles on the route I took), along the River Trail for about three miles, headed back downtown and wound around the downtown streets for a while before heading back to campus and doing a couple loops of the Bear Trail. It was all flat and paved except for the  River Trail, which got a bit tricky several times.

Waco is known more for cults than natural beauty, but Cameron Park has unexpectedly pretty scenery.

Cameron Park

Cameron Park River Trail

Brazos River

Brazos River from Cameron Park

Because it was game day, I went with a green and gold themed outfit, because I can’t help but be cheesy like that.

Runootd

Team spirit #runootd

When I got back to the Bear Trail, my old campus stomping ground, I knew it was prime time for a fast finish and cut the pace down to 9:50/mile by the time mile 18 rolled around.

Baylor bear trail

The Bear Trail. Homecoming.

Long run splits

Long run, Waco edition. (KD Cannon is a speedy Baylor wide receiver)

Saturday ended up being a gorgeous day for football, and our team won in a blowout. The real highlight for many of us was seeing the gorgeous new football stadium in its inaugural season.

Some young whippersnappers or people who don’t follow college football wouldn’t know this, but Baylor’s football team was miserable when we went there. I remember going to games that ended in out opponent scoring more than 70 points (although I probably didn’t stick around for the fourth quarter). The team’s play on the field was matched by an equally unimpressive stadium off campus.

Attending this game made me think, I didn’t go to school here. I’m glad for all the young kids who will look back on their college years and remember a shiny new stadium and a team that put together a damn good resume for the College Football Playoff (no matter what the committee decides or how they want to justify it). But I’m also glad to have seen the really low years, because I think it is that much sweeter to witness a complete transformation. I returned to my alma mater and didn’t recognize it because it was more amazing than when I left. I’ll take that kind of homecoming any day.

McLane Stadium

McLane Stadium

We also had an unplanned pledge class reunion. Yes, I was in a sorority. It’s silly, yes, but I bought made some great girlfriends that I might have never met otherwise.

reunion

Spent at least a quarter of the game catching up with these ladies.

I made it a personal mission to eat as much Texas BBQ as I could during the weekend. Getting to go to one of my all-time favorite spots, Vitek’s, was a huge treat.

Vitek’s is a former grocery-store-turned-BBQ-restaurant in Waco known for its signature menu item, the aptly named “Gut Pack.” This delicious combination of brisket, homemade sausage, pinto beans, cheese, BBQ sauce, corn chips, pickles, onions, and pickled jalapenos is worth the acid reflux, if you get that kind of thing. The Gut Pack is kind of a big deal: it won the Cooking Channel’s Best College Eats competition.

Vitek's Waco

The Gut Pack. Photo courtesy of the Cooking Channel.

the best

Friends & Vitek’s = the best.

Sunday: 3 miles easy @ 10:32/mile

I ran the Bear Trail again on Sunday. I loved every second of being back at Baylor and felt super strong just a day after my 18 miler. This week of training was that aha moment when I realized I really will be ready for the marathon.

This was the best week/weekend I could have imagined. Our Texas reunion for Switz was so wonderful, and I managed a solid week of training around it.

Football fans: how’s your team doing this year? Love or hate the new College Football Playoff?
Is there anything better than a long run around your old stomping grounds or a delicious greasy treat from your younger days?

Belated Race Recap: 2014 Publix Georgia Half Marathon

Since my half marathon PR in Savannah a week ago, I’ve been doing a little reminiscing on my first two half marathons.  I remembered enough to go ahead and write a recap before I forget even more than I already have. Most of the recap will be from the Publix Georgia Half Marathon this past year since I remember it better. 🙂

I didn’t have a blog when I ran the race, and probably wouldn’t have wanted to recap the race at the time anyway. This race was the biggest disappointment I’ve had as a runner to date, and has therefore influenced many of the goals I have and training I’m doing now. Here’s the story.

A Little Background – My First Half Marathon

For my first half (Savannah RnR), I attempted a training plan that was both too long and too ambitious. It was a 20 week plan, for a 1:55 half. My most recent 10k time was 59:00. I was delusional. Surprise of all surprises, I fell flat in workouts, then dreaded workouts, then skipped workouts, and hated everything about running. Work got crazy a month before the race, and I ended up working 12 hour days and some weekends. Once I logged all the missed runs into my run tracker, it suggested I might reconsider running the race. I did not reconsider anything. I forgot to pack my shoes and wore a 60 year old lady’s walking shoes for the race. I ran the race in 2:02:13, and collapsed (figuratively) in the final 5k. I knew with proper training, I had a sub-2:00 half in me. When I changed jobs not long after the race (for other reasons, but having the time and energy to train properly for distance races was a nice benefit), I signed up for the Publix race.

Savannah Half Marathon

My first half marathon. #positivesplits

Training a brief summary concocted from 9 month old memories

I trained for 11 weeks, starting at 17 miles per week and peaking at 27 miles per week. I nailed most of my workouts (on the treadmill), which were typically a total of 6 miles including warmup and cool down, and consisted mainly of 4 mile tempo runs around 9:00/mile and 3x mile repeats between 5k and 10k pace with 800m recovery intervals. (Fewer of the mile repeat workouts were “nailed”; this is my least favorite workout ever.) I knew the course was more challenging than Savannah, so I ran hilly long runs through the city, spending a lot of time on the race course itself. The long runs were HARD, and I think the hilly ones averaged around 10:45/mile, although I don’t have data on it. I did really enjoy this training cycle.

My training for this race was so much better than my training for the Savannah half a few months prior, so I was excited and felt ready to crush the sub-2:00 half.

The week before the race, for my last 13 mile long run, I decided I’d done too much slogging on hills and wanted to run fast and flat, with a fast finish. I headed to my trusty flat long-run trail and ran my heart out in the last 5k. I also missed my last speed workout on the Thursday before and did it on Friday before the Sunday race. I don’t know what you’re really supposed to do for a half marathon taper, but I’m fairly certain experts don’t recommend what I did for this race.

The Expo and Pre-Race Activities

I don’t have much to say about the Expo – I was in and out as quickly as possible. It was well-organized, short lines, and I appreciated that the safety pins were already precounted in the race packet vs. having to fish them out of a box. (The little things get me.) The Expo is located at the Georgia World Congress Center, which is easily accessible by MARTA (Dome/GWCC/Philips Arena/CNN Center station on the Blue or Green line). It’s the same location and setup as the Peachtree Road Race expo for those who have run the Peachtree. Thankfully MARTA has increased its weekend service since then, so wait times should be no more than 10 minutes for future races.

The day before was a friend’s birthday. There was a birthday party, and I went. I had 3 or 4 beers, crushed the cheese plate, and ate a couple of generous helpings of pasta salad. We went to the roller derby and had a great time. File this one away under “good times I paid for later.”

roller derby

Totally normal pre-race activities.

 The Race

The corrals are a short hike from the Peachtree Center MARTA station, but early in the morning in March, I was happy to do some walking and keep the blood flowing. The organization of the race/corrals is pretty standard – overall what you’d expect from a well-organized race.

The weather was great: around 50 degrees at the start.

Miles 1-3

These miles are net downhill, but there are a couple of uphills that really hit you hard when your belly is still full of cheese and beer from the night before. The course starts on Marietta Street and goes past Georgia State campus, then turns north on Piedmont through downtown up to North Ave. The course then heads south on Central Park and Jackson Ave. to Old Fourth Ward.

Towards the end of mile 3, there is a nasty hill on Central Park that I’d encountered on a couple of training runs. I’m pretty sure I was already out of breath at this point. Mile 3! I probably should have slowed down, regrouped, and enjoyed the race, but I couldn’t let go of my competitiveness, not even with all that junk in my belly.

Georgia Half Marathon

Dark outside = there’s still hope for sub-2:00

At my pace and corral start time (~2:00 finish), it was dark outside until mile 3 or 4.

Miles 4-9

These are my favorite miles of the course. I ran some variation on this route a lot during my training runs. The course goes through Old Fourth Ward past the Martin Luther King Historic Site. The course turns through the gorgeous tree-lined neighborhood of Inman Park, and up past the eclectic Little 5 Points. After passing Little 5, there’s a bit of a dull stretch up Moreland and Freedom Parkway, past the Carter Center (snoozefest, and a big hill on North Ave.), up Highland Ave. through the Virginia-Highland neighborhood and into Piedmont Park.

Around mile 4 or 5, I looked at my Garmin, did some math, and realized I was not on track for my goal time. I was also still feeling the cheese and beer in my stomach. I tried picking up the pace a smidge and hoped my stomach wouldn’t revolt.

The 2:00 pace group passed me running up the hill by the Carter Center, around mile 7. I tried to keep up, but this was the first point when I thought it might be a good idea to ease off the gas, considering that the race was only 7 miles in and I was running at an effort level that, frankly, was not sustainable for 6 more miles. Continue reading