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?

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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 – 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?

St. Jude Memphis Marathon Training – 8 Weeks to Go

It’s been a couple of weeks and a vacation since the last training update. The last two weeks’ training began normally. Then I vacationed to Central America (Copan Ruinas and Utila, Honduras – check out Jeff’s trip report on Lonely Planet if you’re interested). I’m hoping to write a recap of my own once I get vacation photos all sorted out.

I’d been worried about decompression sickness from diving and training, but I should have realized that pulling off marathon training in the tropics was going to be the greater challenge. The last few days have been an exercise in bouncing back, and I hope next week’s update reflects that!

Two weeks ago, I was coming off of a successful 38-mile week of training and was on cloud nine about my training. Here’s how training has gone since that period of marathon-training-euphoria:

Monday, 9/29: poor time management, let the day get away from me, no time to run but had an amazing 12 course Korean dinner.

Korean Food

Korean Feast: (from top left): cucumber stuffed w/ jellyfish & hot mustard sauce; asparagus with mushrooms, one stuffed with avocado, Korean-style shrimp tempura, short rib, clam with minced hard boiled egg and cucumber, and ALL THE SIDE DISHES!!! and that was just half of our meal.

Tuesday, 9/30: 6 miles easy @ 11:02 pace (I am really starting to get this “easy run” thing down!)
Wednesday, 10/1: 8 miles / miles 4-6 @ tempo pace – I have issues reading my training plan and again screwed it up, running 5-7 at tempo pace instead. Splits:

tempo run

Feeling pretty good about this one.

I might have let myself run too hard at the end of mile 7 to compensate for feeling fatigued. I actually thought I was slowing down when I was speeding up. But all my splits were within my tempo pace range (8:45-9:00) so I’m not going to lose sleep over it.
Thursday, 10/2: left for vacation! Had a flight delay, arrived at 2 am Friday.
Friday, 10/3: vacation/rest. No good leads on a place to run in Copan Ruinas, with its unreliable sidewalks, cobblestones, and steep hills.

Copan Ruinas Street

Cobblestone streets in Copan Ruinas. Not advised for running.

Saturday, 10/4: I found a place to run! Between the town of Copan Ruinas and the ruins site itself is a reasonably flat 1/2 mile stretch that I ran back and forth. It was horribly hot, and I got just under 4.5 miles in. It was the hardest 4.5 miles I’ve run in a long time. Continue reading

Diving and Marathon Training – Planning Ahead

I’m leaving to go on vacation late next week, which includes some planned scuba diving. I didn’t think anything of this when we planned the trip, but I’m not sure how the high level of training (high level for me) will work with diving. I found one study that suggests exercise before diving could protect against decompression sickness (“DCS” or “something you never want”). This page recommends four hours between exercise and diving, or six between diving and exercise. From reading dive forums, it does sound like there have been other studies linking exercise (everything I read seemed to indicate post-diving exercise was the bigger risk factor than pre-diving exercise) and an increased risk of DCS. I also saw one forum specifically mention that the effect of long runs on DCS risk has not been studied.

What does this all mean? To me, this means exercise caution. I’m an inexperienced diver, so I plan to err on the side of being overly conservative. Based on what I’ve read, this is my very preliminary plan for balancing training and diving on vacation:

a) Talk to dive master about the plan, and adjust if recommended.
b) Try to train according to plan, but pay special attention to how my body is feeling. It’s ok to skip or shorten a run here and there (repeat x5).
c) Dive less than I would when not training. 1-2 dives a day is plenty. Sit out the harder/deeper dives, or only dive once on a deeper dive day.
d) Run in the morning. Everything I’ve read suggests that exercise before diving is less risky than post-dive exercise and possibly even beneficial.
e) Consider not diving at all on workout day/long run day.

This is a preliminary/untested plan, so please don’t take it as advice. I will post later with how everything worked out. If you have any experience or expertise on the subject, I’d love to get your input on how to balance a diving vacation with marathon training.

PS: in case anyone was wondering, I plan to keep a safe distance from stingrays 🙂

UPDATE: I did not get DCS, and I did not adhere to my training plan. I did some running, outlined here, but not nearly as much as I expected.

Even though I train in the relative heat and humidity of Atlanta, that didn’t adequately prepare me for running in the tropics. And that’s okay. I didn’t do a long run, and my attempt at a faster workout was borderline ridiculous.

If I have this situation arise again, this is how I will approach it:

  • IT’S JUST ONE WEEK. Do what you can, don’t sweat the rest. Most of us are working 48 weeks out of the year. Enjoy vacation. To the extent there is time/energy for training, I’d recommend the following:
    • Easy running/brisk walking: walking around is a great way to see the sights in a remote location, and in the tropical heat, a brisk walk can be very good cardio with minimal risk.
    • Strides: It’s vacation, and strides are fun. A good way to get in a little faster running without killing yourself.
    • Bodyweight strength work: This is a great time to catch up on the ancillary work we all shortcut during normal training. Planks on the beach, anyone?

Milwaukee: beer, cheese, and running

Milwaukee-Baxter-anchorman

Baxter, is that you? Bark twice if you’re in Milwaukee!

I spent last week in Milwaukee, a charming city and a lovely place to visit in September.

Restaurant highlights included Millioke (Native American name for Milwaukee), which has great food with a focus on charcuterie and heavier meat dishes, but I thought my salad was phenomenal. A coworker got a root vegetable pot pie that I was eyeing throughout the meal. Awesome beer selection, too. Port of Call was another good spot – loved the gnocchi with creamy sauce.

Milwaukee eating and drinking

My check from Millioke // fried cheese curds, which are like fried mozzarella // Spotted Cow, a fave Wisconsin easy-drinking brew

From downtown Milwaukee, there were a couple of cool spots to run. Along the shore of Lake Michigan had to be #1 on my list because there were few intersections and water is pretty, obviously.

Continue reading

I’m Baaaaaack: Training Update

It’s been a few weeks since I last updated the blog, so here’s a brief update. It’s been all training and travel for me lately.

I changed training plans. Generally I’d say switching midstream is a bad idea, but I made the change for a couple of good reasons (in my mind).

a) I got an early start. The standard window for marathon training is 16 weeks, but I started training 20 weeks before the race to give myself a little head start in case of setbacks: illness (check), tough work weeks (check), vacation (check, and a stingray sting to boot). I started my new plan 15 weeks before the race, and I’m committed to seeing it through to the marathon!

b) I wasn’t confident in my existing plan. Leading up to and after the Peachtree Road Race, I began a ramp up of my weekly mileage from around 20 miles per week to 26/27 miles per week in anticipation of marathon training. Starting the plan at that weekly mileage caused my old plan to ramp up my long runs wayyyy faster than I was comfortable with. In the beginning, it was easy enough to subtract a mile or two from the long run and add it to a midweek run. As the long runs got to 16/18/20 miles in weeks 5, 6, and 7, I was basically going to have to rewrite the plan. I don’t feel comfortable with my expertise in designing marathon training plans, so I did a lot of research and selected a plan that excites me and makes me feel confident again! I think the mental aspect of training is so important, and I’m excited to be back on track.

I spent a week in Boston. Home to tons of history, delicious seafood, fall-like August weather, and the world’s greatest marathon. I ate amazing food, went on a ghost tour, and had the best week of training! (I got some work done too.)

Boston: a couple photos from runs along the Charles River, the best lobster roll from Neptune Oyster House, and the graveyard behind Old North Church.

Continue reading

The more you know: Stingray edition

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My foot and ankle swelled up and grew a ribcage.

disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional. This post is intended to share my own experience with a stingray sting, and not to recommend a particular treatment. Please contact a doctor or medical professional before following a course of treatment.

Those of you who are (un) lucky enough to follow me on Instagram got the pleasure of seeing a couple of select photos of my foot following an untimely stingray sting while visiting Sullivan’s Island, SC. I had no idea it was possible to step on a stingray in knee-deep surf on a crowded beach! A sting by a stingray is not something to mess with, so here are some signs to be aware of if you have a bleeding wound from an unknown sea creature:
– it’s a puncture wound, and could be deep
– you feel throbbing pain coming from the wound that doesn’t go away or intensifies
– there is a barb in the wound

Stingrays have poison in their stingers which can cause some nasty symptoms, and they may leave a barb in the wound. I went to an urgent care facility near the beach that was very knowledgeable of stingray stings; I’d expect this is the case in most coastal areas.

One thing I wish I’d known about stings is that submerging the stung area in hot water (the hottest you can stand) mixed with white vinegar will help relieve the pain. (Ibuprofen may also help.) At the urgent care facility, my foot was submerged for 90 minutes (changing out water periodically to keep it super warm), and it was sweet relief. I left the urgent care facility not feeling much pain at all, compared to agonizing throbbing pain before I arrived. Continue reading

On Bad Workout Days // Mistakes Were Made

I have a non-rhetorical question: what do you do when your scheduled workout appears to be headed south? Let’s exclude injury/illness from this question.

This week I learned one way NOT to effectively deal with this situation.

On Wednesday morning when I arrived at my hotel gym to do my mile repeats, all three treadmills were full. Ok, I thought to myself, I’ll do part of my strength training for the day. I didn’t get the treadmill for another 25 minutes. I skipped any lower body exercises but did some some arms/chest/back work. Although I didn’t think it was ideal to do any strength training before my run (not to mention mile repeats are possibly my least favorite running workout), I’m on the road working more than usual, so I wanted to make good use of time.

Strength training before a hard running workout: probably a mistake.

I felt ok in the warmup mile, but when I got to the faster running, I felt rough quickly. I’ve slogged through enough mile repeats to know that the last mile feels terrible and takes all that I have to finish even if the first one feels ok. I decided around the halfway mark of the first hard mile that today was probably a bad day for mile repeats, and since I missed my tempo run last week with a flu bug, I’ll just do that. About 0.1 miles later, I was running for the toilet. I ran a total of 1.6 miles, not including the distance to the toilet.

Changing from one running workout to another mid-workout: mistake.

Since I had an 8:30 meeting, the toilet time plus the waiting-on-the-treadmill time meant that I had to abort the morning workout and get my sweaty self cleaned up and in a suit. I’m especially intimidated by the prospect of beating Oprah without near-perfect training, so Plan B was to try again in the evening, with a tempo run.

Enter my first 12 hour workday since I left my old job 8 months ago. (Work endurance, like running endurance, is real. I have not been training for 12 hour days.) Continue reading