twenty mile fun: hills, trains, and chews

I am well on the other side of my first 20-miler of the year! As all marathoners know (gosh, I almost sound like I consider myself experienced…I don’t yet), getting up and over that hump is a big relief. If you can run one 20-miler without any (well, many) mental or physical roadblocks, it’s safe to say you are prepared for a marathon, if someone was like, Surprise! Run 26.2 in two weeks! What a good feeling. Speaking of “getting up and over,”

I took hills to a new level this weekend. The destination spot of the run can be seen at the very highest point on the above chart. It’s a part of the road I have only ever been via bike, and that whole extra loop in that territory was an area I was eager to explore. Pretty much everyone in the area knows exactly where I am talking about when I reference this hill and this road. It comes with a beautiful view – if you turn around at the top that is – and then another beautiful view less than a mile later.

Here’s a photo my friend took from almost the top of the hill, while biking in the fall:

And no that is not, nor will ever be, my bike. In case you were wondering.

The hill starts way before this, and then there’s the sharp turn you see in the picture. It goes past a stable…not the best smell to waft at that point. Just before the climb, I experienced something that had never happened before on a long run: I HAD TO STOP FOR A FREIGHT TRAIN. See, as I was approaching the base of the hill, I noticed two things: one, there was a herd of cyclists coming up behind me on the opposite side of the road, and two, there was a railroad crossing about 200 meters ahead. I thought, wouldn’t it be funny if a train came right now? So of course, on cue the bells start sounding and the gates came down. I reached the crossing just as the cyclists did. “Great timing, right?” I yelled with a laugh, and threw my hands in the air. While it would have been cool to chat with the cyclists, or better yet, see who was faster up the hill as soon as the gates went back up, I’ve heard stories about freight trains that take twenty minutes to cross, so I decided to run up and down the road. Luckily it was only a few minutes long. So, that was a first….

As soon as that loop was over, I headed to the more familiar stretch of the road, where the previous “biggest hill” is located. And did that one.

This is actually the view from the other side. The side I climbed is more gradual, but longer.

It’s pretty easy to tell where the big hills were….

I must give photo credit to the guys behind Hidden NJ. One thing you should know about me (if you haven’t realized it already…) is that I can’t get enough of learning the history behind places I frequent. Whether it’s photos taken inside a friend’s house from twenty years ago or a historic landmark I pass on a run, it excites me incredibly. I just discovered this site as I was searching for photos and spent way too long on it….If you want to learn about when East and West lines were drawn for New Jersey though, check it out here.

Back to the run. In an effort to experiment with something other than gels after suspecting they may be causing stomach distress (I think it actually was a stomach bug of sorts…but I still don’t want to stop during Boston!), I took along PowerBar Energy Chews. It was nice that I could have just one chew at a time, and spread them out over several miles. It was kind of strange to chew while running…believe it or not, it was my first time doing so. In the future, I think I’ll try the Clif Shot Bloks instead. The PowerBar chews were very, very chewy. There was no one to save me if I choked out there, just saying. I didn’t hydrate well because I didn’t want to carry a bottle…also could not find the bottle pre-run anyway…first sip of water was at the municipal building (this was planned, it was either there or my house) just before mile 18. Needless to say I downed two full glasses of Nuun when I was finished. Other than lack of water though, I have no complaints. I did the entire thing alone, and it wasn’t so bad. Much, much better than last year’s 20-miler, even though nothing really went wrong on that either. I felt fine all day and night after that – much less tired than after my 18-miler for some reason. All of this left me super relieved. Another conclusion drawn from both the long run and Tuesday’s hill loop interval workout: hills are way easier than they used to be, even last fall. Making hills the name of my game was such a good idea. Never looking back. I may be in a relationship with hills from now on.

My friend was in town, and fortunately we both agreed to do the best activity humanly possible right after my 20-miler: MAKE LOTS AND LOTS OF PANCAKES. With peanut butter, Nutella, and bananas. I made so many I had to actually save some for later. Got a little over-ambitious. :/

PANCAKES.

I have a long list of other things I want to write about very soon! I just wanted to write down the 20-miler recap so, you know, it actually happened. 😉

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I can see the light at the end of the tunnel…I mean…the shoulder on the side of the road.

My theory of good weeks following bad weeks proved itself valid, as I had a great week of training last week. In my world, the week begins on Monday, not Sunday, a factor that would have made the previous statement untrue otherwise, since my long run Sunday fell significantly short of pleasant. It was only 13.5 miles though, so I told myself it was better to have that run be sub-par and look forward to a solid 18-miler the next weekend.

I miss you, track!

I miss you, track!

To avoid the issue I battled the week before when I tried to do a track workout, I chose to do a workout earlier in the day Tuesday rather than at night (er, at 6:30pm…same thing). As I feared, the track was not shoveled after the snow we got at the end of the previous week. Luckily, the snow had been completely cleared from the neighboring turf field, so I took advantage of its unoccupied state and did 5 x 3 laps, or 1255 meters, with about two minute rests. It was so windy, so that definitely was an added factor, as well as the slightly soggy surface. I ended up averaging 6:30 pace for the intervals, granted my GPS was accurate while running in a square, which wasn’t as fast as I would have liked; however, I got out there and did it, and after the week before, that was okay with me. I was also very grateful to have the turf available for intervals when the track was covered in snow.

Thursday was a workout I was both looking forward to and anxious about…clearly, signs of a workout that was going to be worthwhile. I wanted to do another five mile tempo, maybe even six, but I did not want to do it on roads with shoulders covered in ice and snow, with cars forcing me to break my stride and jump to the side every few minutes. A coworker had told me she did a tempo run in Hillsborough, a couple towns north of here, and there were huge shoulders and no traffic. I didn’t have to be at work until later that day, so off to Hillsborough I went. It helped that it was almost fifty degrees with full sun: short sleeves and shorts, hooray! I will spare the details of how the few errands I had to do before this run caused me to almost pay a frozen yogurt shop worker to use the bathroom as a locker room. It happens. That is all.

I mapped what I thought looked like a good course ahead of time, and wrote the turns on my arm, like so:

I failed to write one road/turn here, which made me improvise a bit at one point, but it was all good. I used the first two miles as a warmup: 7:46, 7:48. At mile 3 I picked it up to tempo pace and held it for the next 5 miles. There were some gradual inclines and declines, and a steep, short hill during the second tempo mile, but for the most part the course was much, much flatter than places I normally run. Splits: 6:52, 7:10, 6:56, 6:51, 6:41 (34:30, 6:54 avg). I thought about going for a sixth mile, but instead decided to do a recovery mile, then do 4 x 60 seconds hard, 60 seconds easy, then cool down back to the start from wherever I was at that point. This ended up being pretty fun. The easy mile was 7:42, and then the on-off minutes and cooldown looked like this:

I was pleased that my “recovery pace” after the tempo was around 7:30; it felt very comfortable. Overall, I managed to run 10 miles in 72 minutes, for an average pace of 7:12. Although my tempo two weeks before was faster, I averaged an overall faster pace for this run and a farther overall distance, and this route had considerably fewer downhills. It was one of those runs that left me with rekindled confidence as well as a killer runner’s high. I put the windows down on the way home (for about five miles until I was freezing of course) and blasted this awesomeness:

I usually match…but when I don’t, I really don’t (not shown: traffic-cone orange shirt).

Brooks Transcend group run

That evening was our group run with Brooks. I was thinking about doing two miles really easy in the Transcend, but decided against it since a lot of people ended up showing up and so I didn’t feel bad for not participating. I still have yet to test out the shoe, but I recently read Jesica’s thorough review on rUnladylike, so I will direct you there for now! What I did learn was what astronaut ice cream tastes like. I can’t say it’s better than real ice cream, but I’m not even a big ice cream fan, so what do I know.

Saturday was the first long run in my training that felt like a legitimate long run. That is, not a run I would do if I were not training for a marathon. The plan was 18 miles, and I luckily found a buddy for the entire thing. I decided to be smart and not do much besides go to a yoga class and eat dinner the night before. I was already multiple steps ahead of my first super long run last year. In short: this was the shortest 18 miles I had ever run. We talked the whole time, and made for excellent matches in terms of pace, lack of awkwardness, etc. This whole phenomenon makes me laugh when I think about it, because it’s almost like going on a date. I just wrote so much more about this and then took it out, which means…separate post to come – subject: why a first run is like a first date! But back to the run itself: I keep mapping similar things, yet adding on an extra corner or two as the run gets longer. This time, I took us down a road I’ve always been curious about, called Aunt Molly Road. Come on, don’t lie. You’d be curious too. It turned out to be a very interesting stretch of road, including an unpaved section, a farm, a lot of trees, and a vulture sitting atop a telephone pole. Curiosity satisfied indeed. Of course I added the infamous hill in reverse as well…and my running buddy still wants to run with me again sometime. I think. So that’s good. We stopped back at the car for water but that was at 16.5 miles or so…not really necessary but I took a few sips and we did a small loop for 18 (18.33, actually). In terms of fuel, I was also going to have a PowerGel on the run, and one for “breakfast.” I was hungry when I woke up, so I had both for “breakfast.” Oops. The good news is, I didn’t feel like I needed it on the run at all, and felt like I could have kept going. Summary: I feel way stronger than I did at this point in marathon training the first time around (last year). Long miles feel easier. Big hills feel easier. There is very little thirst, or bonking, or slowing of pace. I was excited to have completed this run, and am simultaneously looking forward to the 20-milers ahead of me, because I know they’ll just make me even stronger, especially mentally to be honest. [AND THE SNOW IS MELTING! BIG DEAL. SO EXCITING.]

What I did with my wet clothes after the run...sometimes you've got to be creative....

What I did with my wet clothes after the run…sometimes you’ve got to be creative….

Oh, and let’s not forget my weekly elevation report:

(Watch got screwed up, aka I forgot to restart it for awhile, hence the cut-off.)

So, I’m already well into the week after everything I just wrote about…and contrary to the pattern that developed before, it’s been quite alright! The E. Murray Todd Half Marathon is this Sunday, March 2nd. A couple weeks ago I was feeling pretty underprepared, but now I’m actually excited. The course is rolling the whole time:

emurraytoddelevationchartHowever, it looks like the hills are less massive than the ones I’ve been running. I’m looking forward to putting the work I’ve done so far – and yes, I finally feel like I have actually done some hard work – to the test and seeing what I can do. I’m not gunning for a PR, or even a PR effort, but rather a hard effort over 13.1 miles that will serve as a benchmark and confidence-booster for the rest of my training for Boston. It would be nice to run faster than I did on the somewhat hilly Caesar Rodney Half course last year, though. So while I’m not going to state an overall time goal, I will say that I would be content maintaining around a seven-minute-mile pace effort, or slightly faster.

Training check-in between snowstorms

I started this post – okay, wrote the title and saved it as a draft – over a week ago. I was having a great week of training and finally felt like I was able to do workouts and runs that allowed me to assess where I stood in terms of fitness. The week that followed was quite the opposite. This pattern is leading me to believe that we may need “bad” weeks to appreciate or even have “good” weeks of training…at least, that’s what I’m telling myself. This in turn got me thinking about all the blog posts I read that mention such “bad” or “good” weeks, and the bigger picture…which totally deserves its own blog post, but I’m pretty sure when I publish two at once, one never gets read. Anyway.

The week of February 3rd…the “good week”:

Actually, take it back to the preceding weekend. I did a solo 15-miler on Saturday, and it was SHORTS WEATHER! This was glorious. I also think I was a bit dehydrated. When mid-forties gets you dehydrated…that just says the weather we have been having otherwise is just wrong. I found a new giant hill, and was loving life while running up it. Seriously. It was one of those awesome top-of-the-world kind of hills, with a view that only lasts a moment before you descend, but it stays in your mind for the rest of the run.

feb1hillsI averaged a little slower than I would have liked on the run for feeling so good (8:00 pace), but to be fair this was probably the hilliest loop so far, and I didn’t want to look at my watch much, just go by feel.

Monday was the first snowfall of the week…I went for a sloppy run once the snow stopped and some plows had made their way through town in the evening. It wasn’t horrible, but obviously pace went out the window with the footing I was dealing with. Oh, then I had this. I nearly forgot (man, that was a good week…):

20140203_215105

It was worth the snowy trek. And here are some necessary snow pictures…for those of you jealous of us freezing, buried New Jerseyans! (Anyone, anyone?)

snow

Tuesday was Intervals practice and I was really hoping our plan to improvise would work! You never know what is shoveled….We really lucked out, because we found a turf field that had been snow-blown. The perimeter of two lacrosse fields ended up being 0.27mi, so we went with that and did a down ladder workout of sorts. After, I ran right to the gym and did some lifting and abs…I can’t say my half-mile run home from the gym was very fast or pleasant, but it was an evening well spent, in every sense of the word. Wednesday was the day New Jersey turned into an ice skating rink, and I ended up working all day and that was it. I didn’t feel like myself at the end of the day – just sort of restless – and it was a reminder that a.) I’m getting used to more training, and b.) running and cross training is definitely not all physical. The latter is a simple concept, but I forget it too often.

This was taken by someone else who scoped out the possible workout locations a little early...no photos of the actual loop we did but it's inside the fence! The lights weren't on...but that was okay, snow makes quite a bright perimeter.

This was taken by someone else who scoped out the possible workout locations a little early…no photos of the actual loop we did but it’s inside the fence! The lights weren’t on…but that was okay, snow makes quite a bright perimeter.

Thursday I did a five-mile tempo in the middle of a nine mile loop. I was planning on going alone, but I ended up with a great partner/pacer at the last minute. We warmed up three miles (during which I forgot to start my watch at one point, so my perfectly-planned, mile-by-mile workout was kind of messed up before it started…oh well), all uphill…then did the next five of the loop at tempo pace. Going into this, I had no idea how any sort of pace in that range was going to feel, because I’ve only ran faster or slower than that since the Philly Half. I thought I’d aim for what felt like 6:50-7:00, but told myself I wouldn’t be discouraged if it was slightly over 7:00, because the route was rolling (and the shoulders were covered in ice…). I just wanted to see what my legs would decide “tempo pace” was on this day in early February. It was probably more downhill than uphill, but there was more elevation gain in the third mile for sure. My splits were: 6:46, 6:45, 7:03, 6:39, 6:37, giving me 33:50 for 5 miles (6:46 average). I was really pleased with this, because we were talking at times. Just a few words, but I didn’t feel like I was racing or anything. It was definitely a relief to know my tempo pace is 6:45 at this point in training. Pretty sure that was a 5 mile PR!

The week of February 10th…the “bad week”:

First, it wasn’t really a bad week. It would have been if the IT band soreness I felt after my long run Saturday had developed into anything remotely bothersome for longer than a day after. In my typical paranoia, I started the week by taking two days off of running completely, icing twice a day, and constantly assessing how I felt on stairs. Oh, and wondering if Boston was out the window. Let me emphasize that I actually had no pain, I’m just that paranoid. I skipped the Intervals workout Tuesday (hill repeats) and did an easy run to test out my leg instead. It was totally fine – no discomfort at all. PHEW. You must understand that with me, something can go from “bothersome” to full-on, season-ending “injury” in one simple run. So, I wasn’t hurting but that run was still awful. So tight, so tiring. Further proof that I want to take fewer days off than I used to feel comfortable with. I think I can handle it now, and I think it will help me, not hurt me.

The good thing about the long run though, was getting to meet Hollie in person! She, Greta, and I slid up and down hills (okay, I made it sound too easy there) for sixteen miles.

Photo credit: Hollie.

Photo credit: Hollie.

The rest of the week was a comical failure, honestly. I had a workout attempt just like this one from April, but I couldn’t try again because there was a snow and ice storm the next day. And I still felt sick. Ultimate combo of un-motivation and frustration. What did get me motivated for a 75-minute bike trainer ride in my shed?

House_of_Cards_title_card

THIS.

I only wish I had stumbled upon it sooner so I wasn’t so behind everyone else as they’re starting the new season (released in full this past Friday)!

The ending (please let it be the ending!) to this sub-par training week deserves its own post, so up next: what I learned on Valentine’s Day. I’ll give you a hint: it has to do with treadmills dreadmills. There will also be glitter.

I remember my first workout…

First, thanks for all your support in response to my last post! It means a lot to me to have more people out there believing in me. Also, fun fact about that fortune I posted: I spotted it on the ground during my warmup before a turkey trot in 2012…on my cooldown after the race I was too curious not to go grab it.

I ran [long] hill repeats with two friends this morning. The experience really got me thinking about something…aside from my announcement that there should be a community website for runners to go and color-code roads and sidewalks on a map after a snowfall, indicating what’s been shoveled and what hasn’t (that’s almost better than the porta-potty network idea, I think). Anyway, one friend ran competitively in high school and college like me, and now runs marathons. The other found running, running races at least, later in life and now balances training with a very busy family life. So, the workout idea I had in my head was pretty natural to me; I had done things like this a dozen times before: warm up about two miles, run hard up a medium-grade hill 0.4-0.6 mi. in length five or six times, and use the downhills as recoveries, then cool down a mile or two.

This hill is in the middle of the Princeton Half Marathon course…hence the photo of so many runners on it at once.

Long story short, this is what we did, but I was reminded during the workout that piecing together something like that might come very easily to me and my one workout partner, but not as easily to someone who was not introduced to competitive running (meaning, training to run a race for which you have a time goal in mind) by a coach at an early age. I seem programmed to use some of the same things I did in high school and college when it comes to workouts, such as two mile warmups and cooldowns, an ab workout and stretching immediately following a cooldown instead of another time during the day, not doing “workouts” two days in a row, not lifting two days in a row…the list goes on. To be fair, I guess the things that have stuck with me are things that worked for me. I don’t run my long runs the day after a race anymore, because that doesn’t feel like a good idea to me most of the time. I don’t do 2-3 mile runs in the morning if I’m doing a hard workout at night, in fear of too much mileage. These were some other things my teammates would be advised to do sometimes. I’m lucky to have had good coaches who understood my bad luck with injuries; I don’t blame them at all for the times I got hurt.

It all got me thinking about how other people started to grasp the concept of a “workout.” Did it just make sense to you? Did you look up workouts specific to your race distance online? Seek out a coach? A friend who seemed to have experience? I think runners on both sides of the continuum can learn from one another: there are probably things ingrained in a former high school/college runner that need to be given a dose of variety, and there are things that a runner new to the whole training-to-race thing is missing and can find within a typical college cross country team workout schedule. Then there is the concept of a sport-convert: the marathoner who played soccer (or another sport) all her life without once touching the track aside from the preseason fitness test. This also has given me a different perspective on the newbie runners I talk to everyday. I fitted a collegiate swimmer for running shoes yesterday; he told his sister he would train for the Disneyland Half Marathon in August with her (what a nice brother!). A “half marathon” to any college or high school runner doesn’t sound daunting: increase the length of your tempos and the number of intervals you are already familiar with, maybe increase your long run by a mile or two at the max, run the race. To imagine myself as the runner I was when I started, however…running 2-3 miles a day for fitness and not knowing how fast I was going at all…or to imagine that all my workouts had been done in a pool and I was in shape for an entirely different sport…well, a “half marathon” doesn’t sound so easy anymore, I guess.

I’m glad I had such a gradual transition to marathon training…but tell me, what was yours like? What was the first faster “workout” you ever did, and how did you go about choosing it? 

It just occurred to me before I hit “Publish” that I might have evidence of my first track workouts in spring of 2006 in a folder a foot away. Success! Check it out:

march 2006

Dashing through the snow…and an epic fall.

I’m going to take a risk and commit a faux pas of mine: I’m writing about the weather. Something you all are aware of and can look up online at any time.That being said, it would be difficult to write about my last week of training without doing so! Here in New Jersey, we have gotten snowfalls more frequently than any previous year I can remember. They have not all been significant, but I hold the theory that to a runner, one huge snowfall a month is much preferred to bi-weekly medium-caliber snowfalls. The reason being, we can move around an important workout or long run according to the one huge snowfall, but it is much more difficult to constantly have your speed workouts become a project week after week. Easy runs in the snow are no problem, but when it comes to hitting specific paces…there’s ice, there’s packed snow, there’s loose snow, there are unplowed loops and unshoveled tracks…clearly, frequent snowfalls make it much more difficult to do the exact run you want to do, when you want to do it.

…it actually looks better on “paper.” You had to be there.

Snow #1 of the week was on Tuesday…the day of my interval workout. I had off work, so there was no point in waiting until 6:30pm, by which significant snow would have surely accumulated. After some running around in what was already lots of snow, I decided to do hill repeats in the middle of campus. The footing wasn’t ideal, but it was a good workout done by effort, and with less traffic than on a normal road. I was glad I did it instead of a normal run…but I’m still itching for some concrete, distance-based workouts. That might not be a bad feeling to have in January though.

Exercise on this snow day wasn’t over after the run. I somehow managed to do double workouts on a day it snowed all day. Kind of ironic. A friend came over and we set up shop in my shed/barn out back for a trainer ride. We rode for 50 minutes at a steady effort while chatting and sort of watching Without Limits (since he had never seen it). A trainer ride had never gone by so quickly, and I realized what people meant when they said it’s hard to make a trainer ride “easy.” There were tight quarters due to the temporary storage space this thing has become (if it was all mine I would totally make it a triathlete’s dream barn…if there is such a thing), but it worked. I also did a solo trainer ride here Monday night, and my view was something like this:

10 Things I Hate About You…so many quoteworthy lines.

On Wednesday morning I managed to find a running buddy and had a lovely, chill run through the snowy streets. There is something really fun about getting out on foot to see what it looks like after a snowfall that lasted the entire previous day.

Thursday I took off because I got up at 5:45am and proceeded to have a day that rivaled the entire past year in terms of productivity. Seriously, I may have figured out my whole life on Thursday. More on that soon.

Friday I ran with a friend before work, and unfortunately chose roads (hilly roads of course!) that had inadequately shoveled sidewalks, making the run pretty slow. I’m starting to realize I run slower when I run with most other people. Strange.

Saturday more snow was expected, so I decided to do my long run today (versus Sunday). I admit I should have started earlier than I did. The snow was coming down kind of hard when I started, and I immediately understood the purpose of running vests…I should really add that to my wardrobe one of these days. Today would have been the perfect day to wear one. Anyway, this run is probably worthy of its own post, but I’ll consolidate the highlights. Or rather, the most important episodes within it. I mapped a 15 mile loop on roads I usually run, with the exception of one unfamiliar corner, since it was a mile farther out than I usually go. Despite the bitter cold snow pelting me (and the salt-spreading trucks…oh, the salt-spreading trucks. Love ’em and hate ’em), I was feeling really good. I cruised at about 7:30 pace on every flat stretch that didn’t have a lot of snow cover, but made up for it on the hills that did. I found a new really steep hill during mile eight (reference elevation map to follow), so that was cool. Then the intersection came in the later part of mile ten. I knew these two roads were busier, but they have shoulders when there’s no snow (guess I overlooked this factor), and I was hardly on them for long. A car was coming so I moved over to run partially in a snowbank…when the road beneath said snowbank became really uneven (it dropped off onto the dirt but I couldn’t see it coming because of the snow). The next step was no better, and I lost my balance and wiped out. It was my first fall on a run since January 1, 2012, so it was a big deal! The snow gave me a soft landing on my hands, but my knees took a beating. The only answer was to get up and keep running like nothing happened, which was easy to do because any pain I felt was delayed until after I was no longer frozen….

A visual representation of the fall & its aftermath.

A visual representation of the fall & its aftermath.

These were my newest pair of Brooks Infiniti tights…and yes I will still be wearing them like this because a.) I no longer have a washer & dryer in my house and b.) I can’t budget for a replacement pair right now. Oh well.

As I discovered when I showered, the battle wounds actually look a lot worse underneath the tights – some swelling and bruising. I suppose it’s bound to happen to every runner someday – that little-kid-who-fell-off-her-bike look. I’ll be rocking it for awhile, but at least it’s winter. In other news, who would’ve thought to put Body Glide behind the knee? And only the left? Well, not me.

Weekly long run hill report…note that short & steep climb during mile 8!

To conclude, the random things I learned this week are plentiful:

1.) Don’t touch your eye after chopping hot peppers, even after two hand washes.

2.) Trainer rides are not easy, but they can be fun.

3.) The path to get where I want to be in life is actually there, contrary to previous doubts.

4.) Doing stupid things while running in the snow (like running on particular roads) does have consequences. Even for me. Shocker.

And no, the contact solution didn't help at all.

And no, the contact solution didn’t help at all.

pre-Boston half choice, running lately, and SHOES galore

And the winner is…

e.murraytoddDark horse, huh? Sometimes I write blog posts asking people for advice, when I really end up deciding for myself just by writing down my thoughts on the choices. My last post was one of those times. I won’t be shooting for a PR here. I won’t need to travel overnight or spend over forty dollars. I could do both of these things, if I picked another race. However, I decided this is best. Boston is my goal race. It will be the biggest race I have ever run in my life, and so that is the race on which I want to keep the focus. Therefore, choosing a really hilly, low-key half marathon to run seven weeks before will force me to not stress over it and treat it as a race I’m running purely as part of my training. A running friend of mine said she’s running it as well, so it will be nice to have her there too (whether or not I can keep up).

Recent long runs

If there is one common theme to my long runs so far in 2014, it’s HILLS. If my memory serves me correctly, it was on the last hill of the first one of these runs that I decided something like, this is a hard run because of all these hills. If I do this often, any hill on the Boston course will feel easier. And thus it began, my new motto:

Suffer now. Glory later.

I may have just made up the wording right now. The concept has been in my mind for awhile though: why not do things the hard way in training, so that on race day, the same factors are so much less of a problem? I can watch the pace on my watch slow down and try not to give in to a steep incline on mile 11 of a long run in January, February, and March. I can make weird faces and wonder how my quads can possibly burn so much after the ascent. I sure as hell want to feel better than that at mile 22 on April 21st. Therefore, I must commit to doing more than my necessary share of hills in training, right now.

Here is what my recent long runs have looked like, elevation-wise.

elevations

Those of you living in the Rockies or San Fran, I don’t want to hear it! I’m basically finding all the hills in a certain radius and doing the opposite of avoiding them. I’ll hopefully drive to some even hillier places later, but for now I think I’ve done a decent job. Each of these contains the same hill at one spot on the run, I believe, and my average pace for that particular mile has gotten faster.

I want this.

I want this…

Theorizing: more is more?

As you may know, I am a little terrified of high mileage training. In high school I would run 45-50 miles a week and was just fine. When I started getting injured I cut it back to 40ish and added cross training. When I still was getting injured, I cut it down to 35ish and added even more cross training. I was paranoid for a reason: when you get stress reactions in places like your pubic ramus on 32 miles a week and people say you “must be overtraining” – newsflash: you are going to get really scared of normal mileage levels. Training for the New Jersey Marathon last year, I really did the minimum possible. I just maximized the training I did on the days I did run. My highest mileage week was 40…and that was the week I did my 20-miler. I did a 20-miler and a 18 (okay, 17.8...)-miler, and those were my two “really long” runs. That’s it. To feel totally prepared for 26.2 as I did come May 5th…that was pretty awesome. I’m considering the theory now that running more will teach my body to handle more, though…and furthermore, actually prevent overuse injuries my strengthening everything just because I’ve taught my body to better handle stresses. A podiatrist once told me he thought my stress fractures happened because my body needed more years of running to truly get used to the stress of running. It took awhile, but I’m starting to get that. I am in no place in my training to experiment – Boston is a mere three months awayHowever, I’m going to try to add one more run a week that my former, paranoid self would not have done. Continue to do PT and core and cross training to the max. See how I feel. It can’t hurt…unless, well, it does.

Workouts

I did one workout last week with the Intervals group. It was nice and easy to start: 3 x 10 minute tempo with five minutes rest (mostly active). I felt better as time went on, averaging about 6:59 for the first, 6:42 for the second, and 6:35 for the last. Clearly that was not a workout meant for marathon training, but it’s still early. As the weeks go on though, expect me to be on the prowl for the best marathon-specific workouts others (all of you…) have done…as I said before, this is something I do not want to skimp on over the next three months!

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SHOE REPORT: this just in, from the land of shoes…

New Ravenna: I am still running through the pair of Brooks Ravenna 4s I got in October, but the Ravenna 5 came out January 1st! I’m getting seeded a pair any day now and I can’t wait to try them out!

I tried them on at work on a day I happened to be wearing pink jeans…so much color!

They FINALLY came!

They FINALLY came!

This is the men's Ravenna 5 if you were wondering.

This is the men’s Ravenna 5 if you were wondering.

Sayonara: Riley stopped by today and graciously gave my coworkers and me some lightly-used (former testers) pairs of the Mizuno Wave Sayonara! The first time I tried on this shoe I wasn’t a fan, but it turned out I was trying a half size too big. I wore them for the rest of the day at work and concluded that I really liked them! (It may have helped that they weren’t the magenta ones….) I’d like to try them out for a short and fast workout…I will report back after said workout occurs.

SAY SAYONARA!

SAY SAYONARA!

New Balance Fresh Foam 890This new technology from NB won’t be released until the first of February, but we were given a sneak peak at our annual work party Friday. We’ll all be getting a pair so I shall report back on those as well. It reminds me of the Adidas Boost, but then again we don’t carry Adidas so I was never fully teched on that anyway.

freshfoam

Run Co group pict

Group picture from the party.

Brooks Transcend: Finally, the Transcend is coming out February first as well. I’ve seen the shoe in person several times – heck, I’ve even sat inside of it:

Seattle-20130821-02364…and falsely advertised its release date months after the fact:

franklin-20130923-02595…so long story short: it will be good for this thing to actually get here. In the meantime, I’m channeling the energy garnered from my anticipation toward drawing spaceships:

 I’ll have lots more to say when I actually run in all of these shoes, of course. This got lengthy; I didn’t even realize I had enough to say about shoes to fill an entirely new post until I was well underway!

Last week by the numbers

It’s been quite a week! Full of running, working, and fun…I’ve been itching to write all week…but was busy doing all of the aforementioned things, obviously. Like, on overload.

The last week by the numbers…

Pretty snow!

Pretty snow!

Miles ran (Monday to Sunday) = 33.78

Hours worked: close to 45

Styrofoam hearts painted (more on that later…): 9

Inches of snow: 7

Hill repeats: 10

Miles during those hill repeats: 10

Different shoes worn: 10 (I counted. It’s true.)

New people met: 7

Miles run for my long run: 15.23

Hours slept: not enough

Interviews had for my dream job: 1

Phew! See, told you it was a busy week.

Last Tuesday the Princeton Intervals workout was 10x Elm Drive, which is the uphill road in the middle of campus. It was a cold and misty night. At first it felt somewhat humid, but I was grateful for the long tights and long sleeves once we started getting pelted with wet snow. I remember doing this workout the same week last year…and not having a good time.

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Looks like I only did half of the workout…and I remember I was not into it – my foot hurt, it was mentally tough, I ran pretty much alone, etc. This year was SUCH a different story. Something clicked for me at the workout the week before – I decided I’d had enough of “I’m coming back from injury,” “I’ll run whatever pace feels good at the time,” “my race is far away, I don’t want to run too hard now.” It’s easy to fall into these traps, with my injury history and with how careful I need/want to be. But it is a workout, after all. The harder the workout is, the easier the race will be. I went in to the workout the week before telling myself, this is the only workout this week. Be relentless. Hammer. Make it count. See what you can do, no regrets when you calculate your pace later. And it worked. I ran faster that I’d expected, and it was fine. I went into this week’s workout with the same mentality. Ten is kind of a big number. It’s double-digits and all. Double-digit repeats aren’t the most mentally easy workout in the book. But with each hill, there was one less in front of me to do. Run the hill you’re on, I thought during each one. Halfway, everyone had gotten a little separated since there was a jogging rest, no stopping, so I re-joined Brennan and we started the last five together. “POWER UP!” became my new motivating cry, and apparently reminded Brennan of Mario.Image I unfortunately only had the privilege of playing “Mario Teaches Typing” as a kid. It didn’t even work – I type almost all with one hand (rather quickly, actually, don’t question it…).

Anyway, pretty soon the hills were over! Needless to say, the stats were much better than last year. I was quite wiped running back to the store, but in a very good way. (Also, it turns out the hill is actually 0.35 mi.)

The hills (and recovery downhills):

2:26 (3:22)
2:31 (3:09)
2:35 (3:12)
2:33 (3:11)
2:29 (3:31)
2:29 (3:30)
2:30 (3:31)
2:31 (3:41)
2:31 (3:20)
2:28 (3:10)

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It’s that time again…workout soon, got to warm up. Happy Mardi Gras! Up next: 1.) Post about my longest run ever! 2.) What has de-crowned glitter as the world’s messiest craft supply + what happens when running + Valentine’s Day + my nerdiness meet….