Monday, August 17, 2015

Marine Corps Marathon Training - Week 6

Lacking in general updates and slow to even post a recap this week.  I'm trying to acclimate to a major shift in schedule and trying to live out of two residences (or at least sleep at one, and work at/gradually move into another).  So I really do apologize if I'm not up on responses anywhere on social media and for my just lack of being with it.  I promise once things settle down I'll be more with it.  Right now I'm looking longingly at my bed and it's just 7 pm...

So, this week in training went really well for me.  It was what I believed to be the first "hard" week of my training plan - long tempo, more 800s, and a long run over the half marathon distance.  Here's what I did!

Monday: Super easy and just awesome recovery run.  Beautiful sunrise.  One of those mornings you're just thankful to be alive and part of the world.  After I ran outside I went to the gym and did my upper body and core workout.

Tuesday:  Tempo.  It sprinkled a bit for maybe a minute but then it was just humid and gnarly.  However, I was able to pace myself pretty well this week so I guess it didn't bother me as much as I thought.

Wednesday:  Lower Body and core lift session at the gym.

Thursday:  5x800m repeats.  I did a 1 mile warmup, equal recoveries for time, and a cooldown for a little over 7 miles total.  It was fall-like cool out this particular morning (48 degrees when I got up!) and with that my legs seemed to want to run like the wind!  When I felt like I was going slow, I was still going faster than intended!  It always cracks me up the first couple of times I run in cool weather because the effort/pace thing just doesn't line up! haha  So, I guess some people would say I "failed" my intervals since I ran a few too fast, but you know what... these days when I feel this awesome are a blessing to me so I'm not gonna feel bad for it!

Friday: 30 minutes on the treadmill turned into a nice little 5K (3.15 miles, actually).  I felt really good!  Afterward I did 30 minutes of core work.

Saturday:  Long run - 14 miles.  I was a little nervous in the days before this run because I haven't really ran long in a few months.  But the morning of the run I woke up excited and positive and set out to have a good time.  My plan this week was to slow down my run a bit because just running by a straight set heart rate was freaking me out because my pace was consistently faster than I expect.  And I'm not sure that running all my long runs at a pace that would automatically give me a marathon PR if I held that is a good thing.  So what my plan included starting slow - at the very bottom of my heart rate range, barely above even a recovery run.  I ran at that effort for a few miles, then increased a few bpm to a more moderate/easy effort.. then the last few miles I ran at what I may normally try to hold right out of the gate.  This worked really well!  While my first couple of miles were slower than I'd normally run them, I didn't have any major crashes or slowdowns and I felt very strong the last few miles like I could go much farther and faster.  I think I'm going to do my long runs this way more often.  Maybe on the cutback weeks I'll do them the old way, but for now I feel better doing this.  Could I run all of them as hard as before?  Yes.  Absolutely.  But I don't think there's any benefit to it, really, when time on my feet - especially with a newly remodeled bone is important.  And also I do 2 hard speedwork runs a week.  I don't think pushing pace any more than that is healthy for me, either.

I wore my daughter's flower power Bondi Band to give me a boost!

I do want to mention that I tried 2 new gels during this run.. Yes, I like to live dangerously... lol  At mile 5 I took a Lemonade Roctane.  It was probably the most fake thing I've ever tasted.  It was gross.  At mile 10 I had a Double Expresso (and yes, they spell it like that...) Clif shot.  I've never had this flavor before and I love my Espresso Love GU AND this stuff said it had a whopping 100mg of caffeine in it, so I figured I'd give it a whirl...  First of all, the taste could be best described as the thick, strong, old ass coffee at the bottom of a pot at a 7-11 that's been sitting there for like 6 hours.  Way bitter and strong and thick...  BUT - if you can get past that taste, OMG this stuff is a kick in the pants!  I felt like someone lit a fire under my ass and I kid you not I looked down at my watch and realized I was running a 7:11 pace... over a bridge near the end of a long run.  LOL talk about having to put the brakes on!  Just wow... even though it tastes like crap I kind of want to try it again to see if it has the same effect.  :P  It might be a while though because I just stocked up on a whole bunch of gels at REI... we'll see.

Sunday: Rest.  But I walked 7 miles.  Here's another "thing" you should know about me.  When I get stressed out and pissed off I walk.  I literally just like to walk... and walk and walk and walk.  I got really pissy and frustrated Sunday afternoon while working on the new place and went out for a walk.  I walked all over the place from Troy Hill to the North Shore, the stadiums, casino, etc.  I even did Rialto, since I'll be living right by it and wanted to see what it was like on foot rather than car.  I don't think I'll be running Rialto on the regular, I'll tell you that.. lol  Anyway, I really didn't time/pace the walk and I did stop several times, including a run into a store for water, but according to my activity tracker I went 7 miles while I was out.  haha.  Don't worry, I won't add it to the weekly total, but it does amuse me what I'm capable of when I'm really not thinking about it.

Really cool squirrel that came near me on my walk.  He just seemed to have an attitude and I liked that.

This week I ran 35.41 miles, so you see just barely even half a mile more than last week.  I'm still happy with the slow buildup right now, because of the increase of speed training.  In fact, this week that just started is another cutback week already.  I'll have a shorter tempo and shorter long run, but I am adding another 800 to my interval day.  Everything in moderation, right? :)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Marine Corps Marathon Training - Week 5

Well, it was back to the grind this week.  Back to longer runs, harder runs and focus.  No lie - I am loving this.  Something I'm really appreciating about my training plan is that while I have taken the overall mileage down a knock, I've increased my intensity with doing both a true tempo (miles at 10-15k pace) as well as 800s every week.  Knock on wood, I'm recovering really well - especially since I have a rest day from running in between the two hardest workouts.  This is just what I've needed to keep my interest and to pep my little legs back up.

Monday: 6 mile recovery run.  It was a little windy outdoors but that just felt great.  This whole run was awesome.  Couldn't have asked for a better start to the week.  Since I had a longer run than usual for a Monday, I opted NOT to do my full gym routine and instead just did a core workout.  Perfect. :)

Tuesday:  Tempo. 2 mile warmup, 3 miles at tempo, 2 mile cool down.  Another fantastic run.  I get a pat on the back for this one because I really controlled myself with the pacing this week.  My laps weren't wildly different and I didn't go too hard too fast.  Yes!  I was able to celebrate with birthday cake and ice cream and Texas Roadhouse because it was Vincent's birthday.  TR was his pick.  It's all about those freaking rolls... lol

He had to have those waitresses sing Happy Birthday to him! lol

Wednesday:  Legs, Back and Core.  I tried out some new stuff this week and I really liked this!  I love it when a workout is a keeper from the start!

Thursday:  4x800s.  2 mile warmup, equal time recoveries, and cooldown.  Another winner of a run!  Again, I was able to pace myself really well on these!!  Only one was a bit too fast, but not crazy so.

Friday:  25 minutes easy on the treadmill for 2.67 miles.  Afterward, I did a new upper body and core routine.  I liked it, though it wasn't perfect, so in the future I will mess with it a bit.  In all reality I think the main problem was I went really light on the weights because I didn't want DOMS for my long run so I didn't feel like I got much out of it (although I know that I did.. I'm just used to really killing weight workouts - I want those last reps to be a struggle of grunting and sweat).  In weeks where my Monday run is shorter, I will do this workout then and do core on  Friday.  Oh, and to make sure my OCD brain got an even 30 minutes of cardio in, I hopped on the Crossramp for 5 minutes... LOL.

Saturday: Long run - 12 miles!  Woohoo! Now, I finally feel like I'm back to myself.  Other than cutback weeks, this is the last run under half marathon distance for my entire training plan.  I felt great.  As is usual for me, I had a little bit of a fade around mile 8/9, and then pepped right back up to finish strong and fast.  Speaking of the speed/pace issue, in my previous post I mentioned about pacing my long runs via specific pace (30-60 secs slower than goal marathon pace) or the long run heart rate range I've been using.  This week I just went with the heart rate as usual.  I felt really good - tired at the end, but I was fine.  I felt great the rest of the day and today I woke up and feel like I never ran a step.  Maybe I'm just psyching myself out.  I guess I'll just keep playing it by ear..

Sunday: Rest.  We went to do a last walkthrough of our new place and get some paperwork flowing.  I am freaking ecstatic.

This week I ran 34.89 miles!  Like I said... NOW I feel like I'm back to the norm.  I'm still trying to be careful and smart, because 11 weeks is still a long way to go.

Starting now, I'm adding more core focused exercise to my plan.  I know how beneficial a strong core is for running and since my training plan is progressing well, I'm adapting my strength workouts accordingly.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Random Things About My Crazy Life

I just have some random stuff to babble about today.

I've alluded to the fact that life has been pretty wild around here lately.  There's been a lot going on behind the scenes.  Nothing terrible, though, so that's a good thing.  Just lots of changes.  I know I've said this before, but when it rains it pours around here and it's about time things start moving in a good direction with gusto!

First of all, my husband has been working crazy ass hours.  At first I was pretty pissed - ok a lot pissed - but then I got over it and focused on the positives.  And there are positives, I'll just leave it there.  But, it's made some of our days, and mostly our nights really chaotic and it's been a shift for everyone in the house.

Also on the job front, you remember that I posted about needing positive vibes for a job interview and more recently I mentioned getting a job.  Well, the deeper story goes that I originally put in for a job way back in January, but didn't hear anything for the longest time.  Then (around the time I asked for that positive thought), I finally got contacted for an interview.  For the first time probably ever I felt like I nailed the interview!  I was comfortable in the facility, I felt like I took to the management well and vice versa and something just felt... right.  I left pretty hyped up and then.... silence.  So, bummed that I thought I didn't get the position, I put in for something else.  Not as good of a job, a bit lower in pay and certainly lacking in the quality of benefits, but still something that I saw as a step forward that was needed for myself and my family.  This scenario moved quite fast, and I was offered the position with a start date a month out.  I was happy with that.  Then... last week I got a phone call.  I was chosen for the original position that I thought I didn't get!  I was standing in the middle of a store when I got the call and I almost jumped ten feet in the air!  haha.  Now I find myself in the position of having to let someone down to take this opportunity, but it's what I have to do.  I know long term I wouldn't be completely happy in job #2, while job #1 offers a TON of future growth and fantastic benefits for not only myself but my entire family.  This is a break I've been waiting for for a very long time.  I'm really excited.

Of course all this good news wouldn't be complete without another major change:  If all goes well in the next couple of weeks we will be signing the papers for our new home back in the damn city where we belong!!  This year has been rough.  I don't know how or why my husband and I thought we could go back to small town living and be happy.  I'm not going to lie - this has been a miserable year of living here and I know for a fact that the stress has impacted me in a lot of ways.  We have not "fit in" to this neighborhood, neither have our kids, and to be honest, we don't want to now.  Word to the wise:  Do not EVER move up the 28 corridor.  There is nothing to see up here, stay where you are!  Hard lesson learned.  Fingers crossed that soon we'll be spending our days on the North Side again!  I won't have to drive in and make a special trip out of running on the North Shore Trail, I can just get right on it like before!

This blog post really resonated with me.  It makes a lot of sense, and I would add to it that the feelings of disappointment and embarrassment that come after not completing a goal makes it even worse.  At least for me.  Announcing my injury and failure to run this year's Pittsburgh Marathon was incredibly humiliating.  And I think it's because injury is always seen as an "at fault" thing where you're the one that screwed up and caused it and you should have been doing a million and one things to prevent it like foam rolling, stretching, hot yoga, the paleo diet, begging your fairy godmother, or offering up your first born.  I mean, even the most elite athletes get injured... some chronically so.  Life goes on.  But not announcing specific goals really makes sense to me... So, I'm not going to do it anymore.  I'm running MCM.  Yes, I want to get there injury free and finish the race without dying.  Any other specifics than that can reside deep in the nooks and crannies of my noggin. ;)  Oh, and I also have HUGE plans for running/fitness in 2016 - so much so that I already have my potential training plan penciled in (in a color coded spreadsheet.. lol).  We'll just have to see what happens there too.

I'm going to admit to struggling with something in regards to my running here.  I'm having a problem balancing heart rate training and accurate pacing.  I know that sounds screwed up, especially for me, but listen.  I'm starting to think that, especially immediately after an injury recovery period, my bones/etc might not be as caught up, or fit you could say, as my cardiovascular system.  I kept up my cardio really well during my non-running weeks.  I'm not seeing any loss of pace/fitness at all since my training for Pittsburgh.. in fact, I'm actually running statistically faster than I have in a very long time.  Now, I'm not feeling any injuries coming on (I'd tell you if I did), but if I keep running my long run by "long run heart rate" I'm running very near (and probably even faster than) what I believe to be marathon race pace... And I'm not sure that's a good idea.  Last year I did all my long runs between 9:20-9:40 and ran a 3:57.. so pretty damn close to the "30 secs faster than long run pace" theory.  When I was training for PGH, my long runs were a bit faster then the standard 30-60 secs slower method, but that's what the training plan required and that plan also required a good chunk of long run miles to be done AT race pace.  Now I'm not using that same plan, and this one specifically mentions "around 1 minute per mile slower", but up to this point I've been ignoring specific paces on everything except speedwork and running in my set heart rate zones instead.  My last two long runs have been 8:40-8:50ish.  I absolutely wholeheartedly do not believe that I can run a marathon 30 seconds faster per mile than that.  So, I'm thinking - at least for my long runs - to slow it down, no matter what my heart rate says.  I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but I can't help but think that I need to let my whole body catch up a bit and I'm honestly just damn scared that I'm going to run a long run too hard too fast and then fuck myself out of another marathon which would in turn screw me out of all the awesome plans I'm looking forward to in 2016.  Maybe I'm just crazy.  I don't know.  I have 12 miles scheduled for tomorrow and I'm going to play around a bit but I think I'll make a decision on slowing down all further long runs after I see what tomorrow brings.

If you made it through this rambling, kudos to you!  :)

Happy running/racing this weekend!

Vince turned 9 the other day!  We had a fun party, went to one of his favorite restaurants, and played games (he's getting shrewd with his Monopoly skills)!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Marine Corps Marathon Training - Week 4

This was my first cutback week  (yeah, I know - already?) of my MCM training plan.  The plan was pretty simple: deload, keep it easy.  For the most part, I did ok with that.  I do have to admit that it has been a pretty hectic/rough week around here personally and professionally.. Just yikes.

Monday: 3 mile recovery run on the treadmill.  For some reason this was really easy and I was able to go faster at the same heart rate as I have been lately!  Nice!  I usually see the impact of heart rate training/fitness in the pace of my recovery run before anything else, so it's nice to note this happening now.  After my run, I lifted shoulders, arms, and worked core as usual.  Since I'm taking it easy this week I only did 2 sets of each exercise instead of 3 and I decreased the weight on most of the exercises a bit.  I still got a good workout in, but it was honestly a nice change of pace to take a break, so to speak.

Tuesday:  6 mile tempo run.  Very inconsistent pacing.  The first two miles were within range but the next was nearly 30 secs per mile too fast, I recovered that a bit on mile 4 only to run even faster still in mile 5....   I'd be kicking myself in the ass over this if it wouldn't be for the fact that even though it was extremely humid I felt damned awesome during this run.  Like from start to finish it was all happy lovey runners high.  So why in the world would I tell myself the run was bad?  It wasn't.

Wednesday: Legs & Back.  This was a strange day at the gym, especially with the deload.  I really didn't feel like I did much, and while yes that is the point, it just felt weird.

Thursday: 4x800m repeats, equal time recoveries and warmup/cooldown.  Total of a tad over 7 miles.  Like Tuesday, I felt amazing during this run.  And like Tuesday, my pacing was terribad.  I could NOT slow down enough!  But here's the thing:  I wasn't even at max heart rate for the workout... so... I wasn't overdoing it either?  I don't know, but I felt great so again, I'm not going to beat myself up and call this a failed run.  Here's a milestone for you:  This is the fastest average pace for a run of this distance for me in around a year and a half.  I was shocked too.

Friday: I started off with 20 minutes on the treadmill at the gym.  I felt really good and got in over 2 miles.  Then I did my cutback chest, shoulders and core work.  After today I think what I'm going to do as time moves forward is have this as a run and core exercise day and then do an upper body and lower body split on my other lift days.  I rode for 10 minutes on the bike to finish this day's gym adventure.

Saturday: 8 mile long run.  This didn't feel like much of a long run at all, of course, but I wasn't about to fiddle with the plan.  I kept my heart rate nice and low in the zone and managed to crank out this run in an hour and ten minutes.  The weather was nice and it was sunny and beautiful.  I did my standard out and back and on the way back I ended up running into the herds of pace groups from SCRR.  I thought I recognized some people and it was cool to see others out there.  Although I did think to myself that I'd hate to start off my run that late... I much prefer getting done as early as I can.  I wish there was an earlier group that ran because I'd be all over that.  Then again, sunrise is coming later and later and with my new work schedule starting in a few weeks I may need to jostle things around anyway so who knows what I'll have to do.

Sunday: Rest.

It was good to have a stepback week but honestly I'm looking forward to cranking it up a bit.  I have really missed running long and logging lots of time on my feet.

This week I ran 26.23 miles (hey - marathon!  I just realized that lol).  Provided all keeps going well this is the last I'll see the 20s until taper.

Speaking of totals, since we are in August now (say what??) here are my July numbers:  21 runs for 107.3 miles - my first 100+ month since April!  Yes!  Gimme more of these!

12 weeks until MCM!

Random question:  If you were me, would you run a tester half marathon 6 weeks out from MCM?  If so, would you actually race it to get a fitness check in or would you do it as a marathon race pace run?  Just trying to think things through but am open to suggestion.