Running on gluten-free carbs…

Archive for August, 2013

Marathon Training Week #12 – Taking someone along for the ride…

Marathon Training Week #12

Marathon Training Week #12

Last Saturday, when I was supposed to be out running 18 miles at my long slow distance with my training group…I was instead at Iroquois Park, gearing up for a small 5K race that I run every year.  It was important to me, and it did mean shifting the schedule around.  Normally this would have meant I’d just meet up with someone on Sunday instead, but much of my group was volunteering at one of the water stops at the Louisville Ironman…so it meant my 18 mile run would be done solo…and I’d keep it on the Indiana side of the river instead of taking it over to Louisville.

No problem.  I mapped it out so I had a route, and actually memorized it without a problem.  That’s quite unusual for me.  I’m such a scatterbrain at times.  But this stuck.  Maybe because the long runs are the foundation of my training plan and the runs I look forward to the most.  I’ll be honest though…I wasn’t looking forward to this one.  18 miles would take me around 2 hours and change to complete…and that was if the elements were ideal.  And on Sunday morning, it was a humid morning in the high 60s…and once that sun came up…it was hot.

I had jokingly suggested that my roommate, Cathy, ride her bike and shadow me on my 18 mile run.  Since this run was done on a route that wouldn’t take me back near my apartment, nor really around to any water fountains (they aren’t readily available around here like they are in Louisville), I figured she could be my roving water stop.  She actually seemed game for it, despite being worried about taking on the hills.  I figured she had plenty of time all week to back out of it…but she never made any indication that she intended to do that.  On Saturday night, I asked if she was really going to come along.  She said she was…and seemed adamant about it.

So…for the first time ever, she got to see me through an entire run.  And at the end…I was glad she was there to push me to finish strong.

This week would normally be a taper week…as I have a half marathon next Sunday…but my main focus is on the marathon.  It just so happened that this week required a 13 mile run, so the training schedule fell right into place.  I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect alignment.  But…no taper was happening.  And I promised my sports nutritionist not to all-out race this half marathon and keep it at my training pace.  So…I hope I can manage to keep myself from getting carried away.  Guess time will tell.

That being said…let’s take a look at how this week shook out leading up to the Disneyland Half Marathon.

Cathy and I after our 18 mile adventure!

Cathy and I after our 18 mile adventure!

Sunday, while normally was the “Do What Feels Good” distance or rest day…it wasn’t happening this week.  As I mentioned, my usual long run day on Saturday was replaced with a short 5K race.  I rocked the race, but it meant the long run had to be pushed to Sunday.  I was a bit unhappy with the dramatic drop in my mileage for the week because of the 5K…but…I’m not overly concerned now.  I’m doing the work…and that’s the important factor here.  Anyway, I got up early to get ready and slap on some sunscreen before the sun even came up.  I ate my usual breakfast of cereal…no banana today because I didn’t have one and forgot to pick one up.  No worries.  I packed three GU packs in my skirt and started to fill up my water bottles with NUUN.  My roommate was up and moving, making it even more likely that she was at least going to start this adventure with me.  I was fairly certain she’d ditch it after the first couple of miles.  I got her suited up in my reflective vest and she ate a quick breakfast and went to pump up the wheels of her bike.  We were waiting on the sky to lighten up just enough to feel safe out on the roads.  She put on her bike helmet and hauled her bike down.  I went to get warmed up, as usual, with a slow mile through the apartment complex parking lots.  And soon…after she added more air to her tires…we were hitting the road.  At first, she had some trouble actually shadowing me…but she got the hang of it.  And she did a fantastic job seeing me around New Albany, biking the entire time and either being just slightly ahead of me, or just behind.  And, let me tell you, one of the best things in the world is hitting your final mile on a hot day where you just want to STOP…and hearing this slightly off-pitch voice start singing the Rocky Theme at you…followed by other inspirational songs.  She even botched Queen lyrics, making me laugh.  It was fantastic and when my watch hit 18 miles, we high fived and called it a day.  I was so proud of her for making the entire 18 mile journey with me.  She never complained once and she was always asking at stop lights if I needed the Sports Beans I had her take just in case…more NUUN…or more water.  She now has a good idea of what I do on my long runs and I quite enjoyed having a roving water stop…and my own personal radio of inspiration at the very end.  I got through that run because of her.

Monday…ah…Monday.  My training schedule called for 7 miles…but with my upcoming week of craziness…I bumped it up to 8 miles.  This also meant that I needed to get up a wee bit earlier to get the run done.  So, at 3:30 a.m., I’m up and getting dressed, eating a light bite and downing 16 ounces of water.  I had hoped to hit the ground running early, but I spent about 15 minutes searching for my reflective vest that I had let my roommate wear the day before.  I couldn’t find it anywhere.  So, finally, I grabbed my winter reflective vest and headed out to run.  The winter reflective vest was super, super hot and the morning was warm (74 degrees) and humid.  And it was just after 4 a.m.  I started out, and immediately found that the vest was just too much.  But, I needed to be seen, so I kept it on.  My roommate later showed me she hung it up on my drying rack…on the back part that I couldn’t see.  At least I know it’s there for tomorrow.  Anyway…it was a miserable and slower 8 miles this morning.  My legs were feeling the 18 mile hot run on Sunday…and the dehydration I think the vest was causing me.  I hydrated (with Gatorade and water) every mile…but it was a struggle to get through this one.  I managed.  Needless to say, Monday is, of course…the weekly Daily Double.  Most of the group wanted to run trails…but Natalie said she ran trails last week.  She recommended hills due to all my bitching about not running them, but I ran hills at the race on Saturday and then everywhere I turned on Sunday.  So, we opted to run one of our fun run routes backwards…not even going inside Cherokee Park.  What came of this was a nice, relaxing, easy 3.6 mile run that felt awesome.  And the company of Natalie and Harry was perfect.  Once again…we talked about lots of things, but I got to talk to Natalie about Celiac and gluten intolerance and how we just like to eat…all…the…food.  For the second run of the day, it sure did feel good.

Tuesday is cross-training day.  But I was a very, very bad girl this morning.  I went for a run.  I did.  I admit it right now…I got up and got into my running clothes, slipped into my running shoes, got that reflective gear on and went out for a slow…slow…easy run in the morning.  I didn’t want to press it too much because it was actually a cross-training day and I was still hitting up my gym to accomplish that part of the training plan.  It was a gross 78 degrees out at 4 a.m. and I took the humidity and heat in stride, maintaining an easier pace than I normally would sustain on an easy run day.  It was a good call because I was dripping at the end of the 4 miles I decided to run.  I even took it out to the street to hit a few more light hills…just because.  I don’t know why.  Neither my upcoming half marathon nor my marathon are particularly hilly.  I guess I’m just working on building up some strength.  Speaking of which…cross-training commenced at the gym.  Tuesday means it is Arc Trainer morning.  Today I set it for Program 6 – Intervals 1:2 – Level 5.  This meant that I was at a moderate step for about 1 minute, then for 30 seconds, the resistance got harder and the incline got steeper.  My legs were feeling strong and I pushed out 2.56 miles in 45 minutes on this machine.  Then it was time to hit that stationary bike.  I hate the stationary bike more than I hate the dreaded treadmill (dreadmill).  Seriously.  It is SO boring.  I kept it as interesting as I possibly could by changing up the resistance very mile.  And, despite it all…in 10 minutes, I pushed out 3.9 miles, which isn’t too shabby.  Then it was downstairs to hit up a few strength machines.  Want to get rid of these noodley arms, you see…

Wednesday is the speed work/pacing day.  And this Wednesday meant…speed work.  Since school is back in session, I can’t get over to the track to bust out my work…so this meant hitting up the gym and getting it done…on the treadmill.  This might have been a blessing this morning as the humidity was just…stifling and the air was hot, hot, hot.  I still dislike doing treadmill work, but got up early, grabbed a bite, then went to the gym to get my speed work done.  I always keep in mind never to push faster than I would normally run if I were running these sprints on the track.  Keeping that in mind, I had 8 miles total to do…2 mile warm up, then 3 x 1600 meters with 2 x 800 recovery, then a 2 mile cool down.  I made sure I was stretched and warm before I even started because the worst thing to do when working on speed work…is to do it with cold muscles.  That is a recipe for injury.  I hit the 1600s hard and fast and made sure I had an easy recovery in between.  My 8 miles was done in 1:03:36, which isn’t bad considering the 4 miles of warm up and cool down I did at a much slower pace than I would normally run on my own.  I was pleased with it.  But, I am so out of practice on the treadmill (not a bad thing!)…that I kept hitting my pinky against the bar and now it’s rather bruised and a bit swollen.  Sort of hurts to bend too.  MEH!  Yuck.  Went home and did the last day of Level 2 of the circuit training required for the week before the trip.  When I get back…boosting it up to the next level.  Sort of fearing that and looking forward to it.

Thursday ushered in another easy run day.  This was, once again, supposed to be 7 miles, but I bumped it up to 8, just like I did on Monday and yesterday with the speed work.  I’m heading out of town on Friday afternoon, so going a few extra miles before taking Saturday completely off was part of the plan early in the week.  That’s why I ran on Tuesday, which is normally just cross-training.  Let me tell you…the humidity and heat this morning was horrible.  At 3:30 a.m…when I headed out the door to run, it was 78 degrees with 86% humidity and a 70 degree dew point.  Already my legs were exhausted from my 8 mile speed work and circuit training from the day before, but I told myself just to run easy.  I didn’t want to push too hard in this kind of weather, nor did I want to risk injury by pushing too much on tired legs.  So…I just ran an easy-peasy 8 miler, remembering to hydrate often (with both Gatorade and water) along the way.  It took just over an hour and was close, but just slightly slower than my Monday and Wednesday runs.  So, I don’t feel too bad about that.  I tend to take my Thursday runs easy anyway because it also is another morning at the gym.  The morning was all about hustling to get to the gym a little earlier than usual.  Like I said…I’m heading out of town this weekend, so I’m working a bit more at the office to make sure I have everything in order and done.  The gym schedule had me on the Octane Fitness 4700 Elliptical Machine…which is really more of a cross trainer than anything.  Which might be why I love it so much.  It is really a full-body workout on this machine.  Upper and lower body get worked and it has various programs to choose from.  I usually just do the Loop program, Level 7, and just go with it.  But, I think after Chicago, I might try some of the other options on there.  Anyway, I managed 8.97 miles in 49 minutes, which isn’t too shabby on these tired legs.  From there it was over to the Cardio Wave machine to work these legs a little more, but get them moving in a different direction.  Managed 3.97 miles on that in 10 minutes, which is a new record for me.  I had it set for Level 13 instead of varying the resistance throughout.  Figured I’d keep a steady rhythm for a little more of a challenge.  It was definitely a challenge.  After that, it was downstairs to hit up a few strength machines before heading in for a long, long day at the office.

Friday is normally my rest day…which I always try to respect and keep holy.  However, Saturday is going to be my “rest” day…if you can call it that.  In a couple of hours, I’ll be heading to the airport to fly out to Los Angeles, CA.  The best part of this trip…hanging with my GIRLS!!  Indy and Tawn are both going to be there and it has been quite a few years since our last encounter.  Well. the four of us (Indy, Tawn, Cathy and myself).  I got to see Indy at the Disney World Princess Half Marathon back in February.  But…no Tawn.  So…it’s happening.  Both Indy and I are participating in the Disneyland Half Marathon on Sunday.  So, with Saturday being a day of rest…I figured I could venture out and do a bit of a shake-out run before the long day of travel ahead.  And that’s exactly what I did.  Once again, the morning greeted me with temperatures in the high 70s.  It was 75 degrees at 3 a.m.  The humidity was at 81% as well, making it…oh, just so enjoyable.  Everyone loves running in a sauna, right?  Right?  Yeah…not so much.  For the first 4 miles, I was pulling a good pace though.  The only problem was…my usual running clothes were packed for my trip to California and Colorado…so I was wearing shorter running shorts than usual…and the mace I carry with me was smacking against my thigh.  I didn’t notice.  HOW I didn’t notice, I still don’t know.  But…when it finally hit me that my leg was hurting, I realized my mace had now given me a nice welt and bruise on my right thigh.  Lovely.  I stopped and moved the mace further back on fuel belt and that fixed the problem.  Finished out the run and even did it with negative splits.  It was also my fastest run this week.  Not too shabby for a blech kind of morning.  I showered.  I foam rolled.  I finished up packing and headed into work.  Getting ready to head out to the airport.  California bound.  Doing Disneyland with my GIRLS!!

Saturday is normally my long run day, but as I am racing in the Disneyland Half Marathon on Sunday, Saturday is my day of rest.  This actually works out since my training plan called for 13 miles this week (it’s a step-back week on mileage).  So, instead of running, I’ll be hitting up the race expo, and seeing some of what Disneyland has to offer with Tawn, Indy,  and Cathy.  And let me tell you…I totally can’t wait.  Running the Disney Princess Half Marathon back in February at Disney World was so much fun, I can’t wait to see what sights, sounds, and adventures Disneyland holds!


Marathon Training Week #11 – Getting back into the racing game…

Marathon Training Week #11

Marathon Training Week #11

I’m going to say it right here and now…so listen up!  5K races are my least favorite distance.  I never feel like I’m pushing myself fast enough, despite pushing these short little legs harder and harder with each mile.  And at the end of a 5K…I never have the drive or the energy for that final kick that so many of my running friends have.  And it makes me dislike that distance even more.

Let’s face it…these short little legs were made to go long.  I actually would rather run a longer race any day than a 5K race.  Winning an award at the shorter races is all fine and good…but I love the challenge of the longer run.  I love to push my legs past the distance they think they can go…and prove to myself that my passion for the longer distances truly is what drives me when I run.

With that all being said…this past weekend, I had to shift my long run to Sunday because…well…Saturday I had a 5K race.  Normally I wouldn’t have signed up for one.  I’ve been avoiding races to focus more on my marathon training…but this is one race I would never dream of missing.  My Aunt Debbie died 3 years ago from colon cancer, and here in Louisville, for the past three years, I have ran in the Walk Away from Colon Cancer & 5K Run.  The only difference between the past two years and this year…is that this year I wasn’t returning from an injury that kept me out of running.  This year, the Walk Away From Colon Cancer & 5K Run was not a comeback run.  This year…I was free to run it as I chose…and I chose to run a smart, safe, and fun race.  And that’s how it should be.

Having the race on Saturday also decreased my usual weekly mileage…but…you know…it was worth it.  I’ve racked up some crazy mileage over the past couple of weeks, I think giving these legs a shorter, but harder (as in speed and the fact that I tested them out on the hills of Iroquois Park), run was just what they needed.  Speed work.  Hill work.  All in just over 22 minutes…done.

I admit, however, that the morning of the race I was not in a racing mindset.  I hadn’t actually raced since The Boilermaker 15K in Utica, NY back in early July…and I was having a hard time finding that run hard, run fast mindset.  Regardless, I took to the course and had a fun, beautiful, and very hot run yesterday morning.  And it was for a good cause and in memory of my aunt.  I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

But…that was the end of the week…I still had the entire week before I got to my race…so…

Sunday is the normal “Whatever My Legs Feel Like” training run…or rest day.  It just depends on how I feel that morning.  Except, keep in mind, I busted out 20 miles the previous day.  So, as I was getting ready for bed, I asked my roommate what I should run in the morning.  She shrugged and said, “I don’t know…13 miles?”  Then paused.  “No…do 13.1.”  Ah…a half marathon challenge.  I was game.  I figured I could run it at the LSD pace and have a good morning run.  I guess I was feeling super that morning, despite the heavy mileage on Saturday…because I took to the streets and my legs felt strong and good…not tired…not sore.  I was having a great run.  The first half of the run was rather flat, but then I decided to challenge myself and run a very hilly second half.  I just wanted to see how I would do on tired legs with a bit of a challenge, I guess.  I wasn’t slowed in the slightest and somehow ended up rocking out 13.1 miles  in a time faster than my half marathon PR.  If only this had been in a race.  I was super-stoked.  Super surprised.  And super proud of myself.  That was on legs that had gone 20 miles the day before?  Had I not been the one running, I wouldn’t have believed it myself.  I was feeling amazing and hit negative splits to boot!!  Yeah…I was feeling sort of invincible that morning, I guess.  I was all smiles after that and feeling like Beast Mode was activated.  If only every run felt that awesome.  That evening was the Bruno Mars concert that my roomie and I had tickets for.  I didn’t get home until well after midnight…and my legs were tired and sore, not just from the previous two runs, but from standing the entire show.  LOVED that concert though.  Had such a great time.

But…Monday morning rolled around and that meant it was back to the training schedule.  That morning I was not feeling as awesome.  In fact, I felt a bit defeated.  The schedule called for 7 miles.  And I did get 7 miles out that morning.  But, I was running on very tired and somewhat sore legs.  In fact, I actually went to bed in my running clothes…because I wanted to get more than 4 hours of sleep.  And to knock out 7 miles…I needed all the time I could manage if I wasn’t getting up until 5 a.m.  The later start sort of threw me off, but sleeping in my running clothes was sheer genius, because it meant I just needed to slip into my compression sleeves and my shoes before hitting the road that morning.  It definitely got me out the door quicker.  There was also a definite change from the weather I had the previous Monday morning.  So, with the return of the humidity, the run just felt hard.  I managed to press on and rocked the run with negative splits, but it was a hard-fought battle.  And then…even with the tired legs, I wouldn’t dream of missing my Monday night fun run.  So after a long, long day at work, I went home to eat and change and headed off to Louisville to do a run with my group.  We were supposed to do hill work, which is something I really need to focus on.  However…they vetoed it before I got there and half of the group was going to run trails, and the rest were going to hit up the Scenic Loop in Cherokee Park.  I am not currently running trails because I don’t want to get injured, so I stuck to the road.  And for the first mile was running with the group.  My legs were still sore from all the hard efforts I put on them…as well as sitting for a long period of time at the office…but none of that seemed to matter.  I got to the hill after Hogan’s Fountain and I was off.  I had intended to stick with everyone, but I got ahead and there was no stopping me.  I didn’t push…not for speed or anything because my Achilles was acting up a little…and the last thing I wanted to do was hurt myself on a fun run.  Foam rolling commenced the moment I got home.  Monday’s Daily Double was in the books.

Tuesday, of course, meant it was my cross-training day.  And, as is the norm for Tuesdays, I resist the urge to run, even though I have the time and the ability to do so…and instead head to the gym before work.  Tuesdays means it’s Arc Trainer day.  The Arc Trainer, by the way, is basically the high calorie burning solution to the modern elliptical, built to be safe for high intensity workouts.  In other words…it works like an elliptical, but is scientifically tested to be gentler on your joints, burn 16% more calories than a standard elliptical, and it can help the user train for strength, power, endurance, cardio and weight loss.  It has this range of incline and resistance levels which makes this seem like 3 machines in one.  Honestly.  At lower incline levels, it’s has a glide like a cross country skier.  In the mid-range levels, the motion is a stride, like on an elliptical but with proper positioning.  And at the higher levels, it has the climb of a stepper or climber.  I use the preset programs on the machines which automatically changes up resistance, incline, and the intervals.  It makes this machine challenging, yet still puts you through a total body workout.  It’s an elliptical on crack and I love to hate it.  This time, I was on Program 5 – Intervals 1:1, meaning I had 1 minute at a lower incline, then it shot me up to hard resistance and the “climber” mode for 1 minute and it would rotate this out.  I did this for 45 minutes on Level 7 and managed to dig out 2.08 miles.  After that, it was on to the Cardio Wave.  If you’re not familiar with this machine either, it is also like an elliptical machine, except that this one focuses more on strengthening the gluteus and lower limbs while still focusing on the core stabilizer muscles…so you get a full body workout that is safe and non-impact.  And…your legs move from side-to-side and not the usual forward and back motion that I get with other ellpiptical machines and my running.  It’s a nice change of pace and it works three different planes of movement simultaneously: extension, abduction and external rotation.  My roommate hates this machine, but I love it.  And I rocked 3.89 miles on it set to a steady Level 13 that morning.  Then it was downstairs to hit up a few strength machines to help build up some muscle.  After work, it was time to circuit train and that took some convincing.  I knew it needed to be done, my body was just tired.  But…my roomie and I knocked it out of the park and it actually helped loosen up the muscles and tendons that were giving me issues on my runs on Monday.  So…bonus!

Wednesday marathon training is always speed work/pacing day.  And today…it was all about pacing.  The schedule called for 8 miles…yes…8 miles.  But this was to be a Tempo Run…meaning I was to build up to about my 10K race pace, hold that for a couple of miles, then ease back down.  I ended up steadily building up my pace, making this tempo run more of 8 miles with negative splits.  Whoops.  So, I guess I ddi one better than what training called for.  And that was a miserable morning.  Because it was 8 miles and would take about an hour to do, I got up half an hour earlier and headed out.  It was 70 degrees at 3:30 a.m. and we had 92% humidity.  Needless to say, I was dripping by the end of it and was more than happy to hop into the shower before getting dressed for work and making a healthy breakfast.  After work, it was the second session of the circuit training and this one really felt hard.  My legs were screaming for some rest.  I promised if they got through “the shred” than they could have some downtime.  They saw me through the circuits and weights…and so…I rested them that evening.

Thursday was a lot easier this week.  Training simply called for 4 easy miles.  Four miles…and I’d be done.  It was another humid morning and my legs were tired…but my four miles ended up as 5 miles.  I wasn’t at all happy with that run, honestly.  Maybe that is why I pushed the extra mile.  Or…that I just am not used to lower mileage under 5 miles at times…regardless…I got through the run, but it was not a happy 5 miles at all.  After that, it was the second day at the gym.  With my legs angry at me for that run this morning, I knew better than to really push it on the cardio portion of this workout.  So, when I climbed on the elliptical, I set it for my usual Level 7, but didn’t push on the speed too much.  I managed under 9 miles in 49 minutes…which is under what I normally can do.  But, I was listening to my body.  The second machine of the day was 10 minutes on the rowing machine.  Ah…the rowing machine of doom.  I put on my gloves and settled in for a L-O-N-G 10 minutes.  But the rowing machine is such a great machine in that it works so much of your body.  Not only are you working biceps, back, and shoulders, but you also work your quads, glutes, and core muscles as well.  So…while I hate it…I love the workout I get from this machine.  After that…it was downstairs for some more strength machines before heading to work.

Friday is the dreaded, but necessary, rest day.  And, since I was going to be racing on Saturday, I definitely wanted to keep it holy.  I admit though…I did take myself out for another brisk morning walk.  This has become the Friday norm.  I walked 3.26 miles that morning in 36:42…which is good.  Very good.  It also took the edge off the rest day so I wouldn’t be cranky, crabby and miserable.  It worked.  And the rest of the day felt okay because I had at least gotten some form of movement in for the day.

Saturday…it’s usually my long slow distance run.  And this week I was to run 18 miles.  Except, I had another commitment on Saturday morning.  *GASP*  I know.  But this was important.  As I mentioned, my Aunt Debbie died from colon cancer a few years ago.  Every year since, I have been a part of this race.  It’s the Walk Away From Colon Cancer & 5K Run.  I would never dream of missing this.  Even if it meant I didn’t get to meet up with my running group and do my usual long run.  The long run was pushed back to Sunday…which I’ll tell you all about next week.  But Saturday was all about honoring my aunt’s memory, running for a great cause, and putting some speed work and hill work into play simultaneously.  I won’t lie…a part of me was hoping to rock out a sub-22 5K, which is something I am still chasing…but Iroquois Park is not the place for that.  And I knew that going into this race…but it was a dream.  It will happen…one day.  Until then…I just sort of ran this race with how I felt.  My legs were rested.  My mind was clear.  And I was focused on just getting to that finish line.  Like I said…5Ks are my least favorite distance.  I place a lot when I run them, I just don’t like running them.  That being said…this race was hot and hilly…but I just went out there to have some fun and “do some work.”  And I did.  In fact, I ended up finishing 27/799 finishers overall, 4/496 female finishers, and I was 1/67 in my age division.  WOOHOO!!  The speed and hill endurance will come with practice.  This was my 2nd fastest 5K to date…and that is saying something!  I thought about running more later that day, but I had so much going on…shopping for items for my upcoming trip, grocery shopping, cleaning…and since Sunday was now going to be my 18 miler…without a group…I thought my legs needed the rest of the day off.

So, this was a much lower mileage week than my previous ones, but I think it was good that I listened to my body…and my heart…and ran what I needed to run, the speed I needed or felt like I needed to run.  I still managed to nail my training, and that’s saying something.  This week was a tough one, despite having fewer miles…but I got through it and knocked it out.  Proving once again, even if my body is tired…my determination always makes me feel stronger and better.  Lack of sleep and harder runs made the lower mileage this week a welcome change of pace…but it never once slowed me down.

Time to see what I can manage this coming week…

Walk Away From Colon Cancer & 5K Run – Louisville, KY (August 24, 2013)

Me heading out of the start for the Walk Away From Colon Cancer & 5K Run

Me heading out of the start for the Walk Away From Colon Cancer & 5K Run – Louisville, Kentucky

Race: Walk Away From Colon Cancer & 5K Run

Place: Iroquois Park, Louisville, Kentucky

Date: August 24, 2013

Time: 22:45

Wow…can you believe this?  A race report!! An actual race report.  I haven’t officially raced in over a month.  One month and 10 days to be exact.  And I certainly haven’t done a 5K race in a long time.  I’ve been putting my focus on my marathon training…distance, speed/pacing, easy, hard…but no races.  They just haven’t fit in.

But this race…I haven’t missed this race in the three years I have been running.  The previous two years, it was my comeback race.  The race I was finally able to run again…after an injury healed.  In 2011, it was my stress fracture and runner’s knee.  In 2012, it was my plantar fasciitis.  So…this was a new experience for me.  I could actually…RUN!  And run however I wanted to run!  BONUS!

The Walk Away From Colon Cancer & 5K Run holds a special place in my heart since my Aunt Debbie died from colon cancer three years ago.  Note…I’ve run this race for three years…and I always do so in her honor.  This year…I felt like I could really honor her memory.

I actually went into Louisville to the Clifton Center where the Colon Cancer Prevention Project is headquartered.  The packet pickup was happening there on Thursday, then at Fleet Feet on Friday…and race day packet pickup was also available.  I tend to get my packet ahead of time if at all possible…sort of saves on the rush on race morning.  And since I had to pick up a package at the Fed Ex place in Louisville on Thursday…I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone.  So, I picked up my packet two days early and didn’t have to concern myself with it on Friday or Saturday.

So, this morning was the big event.  I woke up early enough to get dressed and slather on some sun screen.  It was in the high 60s this morning with 86% humidity.  BLECH!!  Sunscreen is always a must!!  So, in order to let it soak in…I have to get it applied early.  So, I went to the kitchen, got the coffee maker prepped and brewing…then went to get my albino on!  I use Badger sunscreen, which turns me even pastier white than I already am.  But, it works.  So I use it.  I actually did a good job of lathering myself up.  Managed to contort and get my back as well without getting too much on my top.  I was dressed as Wonder Woman for this event…because…I think people who fight through and survive cancer are amazing.  They are all superheros.

Breakfast was the last of my Vanilla Chex cereal.  I got my clothes to change into together, laced up my Adidas Boosts, and grabbed a banana to eat about 30 minutes before the race.  Got into the car and Cathy and I were winging our way out to Iroquois Park in Louisville…the scene of the event.

Mind you…in 2011…this race was small.  There were 468 finishers in 2011.  Parking was so easy to manage.  And the event was quite small.  Last year…2012, the event grew to 684 finishers.  There were bouncy houses and tents set up everywhere.  It was a big change.  This year…there were nearly 800 finishers.  799 to be exact.  So, once again the event grew.  And this time…there were people directing traffic to parking spots.  Huh.  This was different.  We were guided into a nice spot, and soon we were popping out of the car, throwing stuff in the trunk, and starting toward the amphitheater at Iroquois Park.  I had my banana in hand…but it was definitely too early to dive into it.  Instead, I went ahead and used the flushing toilets before a line formed…which was also a good call because the line did get stupid long and the port-a-potties that were ordered were not delivered.  So…yay for peeing ahead of time!

After that, Cathy and I wandered around…taking a stroll down the road of Iroquois Park…checking out the various companies that came out to the race…walking through the GIANT INFLATABLE COLON!  Here in Kentucky…we’re famous four our inflatable colon.  It’s true.  I We found a shady spot near a curb so Cathy could settle in and I could do some preliminary active stretching.  High knees, knee circles, hip circles, butt kicks, the works.  Nothing stationary.  I was getting those muscles ready to fire quickly.

The opening ceremony was starting at 8:30…and local radio personality, George Lindsey, got us started.  We had announcements of upcoming events, mentions of sponsors, and then the survivors were called forward to receive a nice gift and get their picture taken.  It was amazing how many people were there.  Varying ages.  Some…no older than me I would guess.  Just…so moving.  We applauded them and gave much respect for their battle against colon cancer.  Just…amazing.

Afterwards, it was time to get the race started.  Cathy and I began to make our way over to the start line as photos of the survivors were being taken.  This allowed me to get into a good starting spot.  I wasn’t right up front…I don’t feel I belong there, but I wasn’t too far back either.  I did a few more stretches while waiting on the rest of the crowd to get lined up.  The front was starting to fill in and as I was standing there this really, really good looking beefcake of a guy with a body like WHOA and WHOA GUN SHOW…comes over and asks if he can get his picture taken with me.  WITH ME!!  Yes…Wonder Woman gladly accepts pictures with hot strangers.  I don’t think I was drooling.  This was the first time that has ever happened to me.  It was a nice way to start the race.

And with that, we were given the instructions from our favorite people at River City Races.  We’d hear “Runner’s set…and then the whistle.”  A pause.  “Runner’s set…”  And when the whistle went off, we exploded out of the starting line.  I flashed a badass peace sign to Cathy as I ran past…and that was the start.  In my head, I really, really wanted to hit a sub-22 minute 5K.  But, I also know my limitations and I know the hills of Iroquois Park…so I also knew that wasn’t happening at this race.  Instead…I chose to run a happy, honorary race…and just have a good time!

The first mile always seems the longest.  I don’t know why.  Especially since it tends to be my fastest.  I settled into a good pace, seeing Lynn (she’s at all the local races!) ahead of me, and another woman running right next to me.  We rounded the corner and hit the first of many hills…and the woman who was running with me pulled way ahead.  WAY ahead.  UGH!!  I need more hill work in my life.  For real.  That was okay…it was still an early race.  I took to the streets, pushing just enough to make it not feel like a run in the park.  HA.  See what I did there?  I’ve been training a lot at the Long Slow Distance Pace…that racing now seems a lot harder than it used to be.  Add the need for speed work to the list of things I need to incorporate more into my running regime.  Anyway…I was heading for a downhill when I got to Mile 1.  I was around 7:12 pace…which was awesome.  But I knew Mile 2 was a killer.  It starts off down hill…but I know…I know that a large hill awaits towards the end of it…as we head into the final stretch.

So, Mile 2 I took the downhills easy, not wanting to shred my calves or my quads.  You know, I have this goal to not get injured this year…and a 5K race wasn’t going to take me out.  I refuse.  Running smart is the goal…and that means I ease up on the downhills.  To make up for it, I attempted to push a little harder on those uphills.  And Mile 2 was filled with uphills.  We were supposed to stay to the left of the orange cones for safety…but the cones went away halfway through our second mile…so a lot of runners were just veering to the other side in an attempt to take the hills a little easier.  I don’t think it helped.  I stayed my course…because I know what feels right.  And got passed up by another female.  My pace definitely slowed in that second mile…and I was thinking about how I just needed to suck it up (gluten-free) cupcake and run some hills.  I wanted to do that with my fun run group…but it was vetoed.  Totally vetoed.  So, I guess if I want to get some hill work in I have to do the work myself.  There is no lack of hills around here, so I’ll make it happen.

Mile 2 ticked off and I knew I was in my last mile.  I also know about the hill that gets me…every time I run at Iroquois Park.  We were running the park the “hard” way…the way there seems to be more uphills than downs.  I prefer running this park the opposite direction, but I swear all the races go off the other way.  So…it’s harder.  But…from previous races done here, I know…I know that somewhere between Mile 2 and the finish line…there is this hill of doom…that just never seems to stop going up.  The first year I ran this race…I walked the hill.  It was the first (and only) time I ever walked, but my runner’s knee twinged at me and I didn’t want to push my luck with the stress fracture.  The second time I ran this race, I took the hill easy…didn’t walk…but took it easy because I didn’t want to tear my plantar fascia again.  I was so nervous about that.

Me with my 1st place age division medal at the Walk Away From Colon Cancer & 5K Run – Louisville, Kentucky

Me with my 1st place age division medal at the Walk Away From Colon Cancer & 5K Run – Louisville, Kentucky

This year…this year I killed the hill.  It slowed me, sure…hills do that…but I didn’t let up.  I pushed…I drove myself up that incline and saw the sunlight streaming into the parking lot.  I knew the finish was coming.  I was close.  So, I attempted to pick it up some.  I tried…for that kick that so many runners manage.  I don’t think I’ve quite gotten the hang of that yet, but I felt like I might have kicked it a little to the finish line.  I could hear Cathy screaming “GO TWIN!  GO!”  So, I ran and just put my all into getting across that line.  And I did so…feeling like I truly earned my stripes there.  That was, as usual, a difficult course.

Cathy came over and said, “Guess what?”  And I said…”Fourth female overall.  I know.  I ticked them off in my head as they passed.”  I laughed when I said it.  These women all finished in sub-22…the overall female winner finishing in 20:50 which is…a dream to me.  How the heck did she run that fast?!  It boggles my mind and my little short legs.

We stayed for the award ceremony…and it turned out I won 1st in my age division!  I won third last year…so this was a WOOHOO moment.  In fact, my time this year beat out the time for the female overall winner last year.  But we had a faster crowd this time around.  But…this was a good race for a good cause…and one, regardless of my hatred of 5Ks, I would never dream of missing.

So, as it stands the official results for the Walk Away From Colon Cancer & 5K Run are that I finished in 22:45.  It wasn’t a new PR…but I was only 30 seconds off.  Had this course been flatter…well…maybe.  Anyway, I was 27/799 overall, 4/496 female finishers, and 1/67 in my age division.  Considering 5Ks are my least favorite distance (yet…I run a lot of them)…I was totally thrilled with these.  And I dedicated this race, as always, to my Aunt Debbie…who I think gave me some wings on that uphill at the end today.

So, on a hot and humid Saturday morning…I went out and ran for a good cause…and had a good time.  Already looking forward to next year!

Marathon Training Week #10 – Hitting the first 20 miles

Marathon Training Week #10

Marathon Training Week #10

My training program has me running at least two 20 mile training runs.  Due to upcoming vacations and time spent at a higher altitude…my training schedule got a little bit flip-flopped in the upcoming weeks.  It had to happen. While I don’t doubt I could rock out 20 miles in Boulder, CO or even Denver, CO…I don’t know of any places to rock such a run out in, nor do I know if my body can adjust to that high altitude in order to hit the required paces.  Therefore…I took some liberties with my training schedule and bounced things around.  Never hurts…keeps it interesting.

That being said…this meant that yesterday was my first ever 20 mile run.  Believe me, it can seem a bit daunting.  But I was feeling good that morning.  My legs felt strong.  There was a light breeze…and 20 miles felt like nothing.  Now…how many people can honestly say that.  It was run with Harry and Linda…part of my running group…and I kept it at my Long Slow Distance pace.  I was so surprised with how good I felt at the end of the run itself. I probably could have kept going for a few more miles.  That is the best feeling in the world.  It means I’m training right.  Just the boost of confidence I needed.

This week ushered in some gorgeous morning weather that made my runs really, really enjoyable.  Nothing like waking up in August to 57°F and low humidity.  Loving it.  Seriously loving it.  And what that meant was that I was really feeling good on my running this week.  The difficulty and mileage went up…but I just rolled with it.  I even did good on the extras I’m doing to better myself.  And, I can actually see results.  And that is the most fantastic part.

Let’s take a look at this week…

Sunday ushers in what I like to call my “Whatever My Legs Feel Like” training run day.  I just go until I don’t want to go anymore.  I always keep it under the previous day’s mileage…just normally run it a little harder.  My Long Slow Distance training runs on Saturday help with endurance.  These Sunday runs…they’re a chance for me to see what my legs can do while still recovering from the previous run.  If they aren’t feeling the run, I stop.  It’s that simple.  I did a grueling 17 miles on Saturday in high humidity and rain, testing out new shoes and socks.  There were many breaks on this run, as two of my fellow runners were keeping a more deliberate pace in the distance we were covering.  So, on Sunday, when I headed out, I had no intention of running 14.3 miles…but I did.  I can’t tell you what possessed me to go that long after a hot 17 the day before, but the morning felt good and I got out early in order to beat any of the sun for most of the run.  I stayed off the hills as well, but really enjoyed being out and about.  I clocked my 14.3 miles in 1:51:41…which felt good.  It really did.  I think I was smiling at the end of it.

Monday morning put me back on my revamped training schedule.  I start almost every run these days in the dark, so that doesn’t even factor in now.  Amazing how that happens.  I am missing my earlier light in the morning, but I just strap on my headlamp and reflective gear and get it done.  On the weekdays…that’s the norm for me.  I was out the door at 4 a.m. to log 7 easy miles.  The temperature was in the high 50s, which felt amazing.  But as I was running, my left shin started to bother me.  I was concerned it might be shinsplints, but it turns out I have a bruise on my shin and my compression sleeve was just hugging that area.  Figures.  I managed to get through that 7 miles with negative splits.  And, as always Monday is also the day of the Daily Double…so after work and a quick bite to eat, I was heading down to my running store for the Monday fun run.  There were six of us there, two (Laura & Amy) were heading out to do their run/walk routine on the scenic loop.  So the remaining four of us (Mike, Joe, Ellen and myself) all headed out to run the Scenic Loop at Cherokee Park.  Because my calf muscle on my right leg was being finicky (I blame breaking in new shoes on a 17 mile run) and my shin was bruised and bound again in compression sleeves, I wanted to take this run easy and stick with the group.  And I did.  Up until Ellen stopped for water and said she would catch up.  Mike and I went on ahead…and we ran back to the store.  Ellen never did catch up, but I think Joe stuck with her.  As we were waiting on the light to change to cross over Bardstown Road, Mike said to me, “You’re so fast.  And that’s not a bad thing for a runner.”  It made me feel good!  Honestly.  And as I made some gluten-free chocolate chip cookies as a reward to my fun run group, Ellen said she could have a cookie if she didn’t start walking on Dog Hill.  And she didn’t.  So she got her cookie as a reward.  Another 3.3 miles logged on Monday.

Tuesday, as always, is my cross-training day.  And this Tuesday really was no different from the previous ones.  I resist the urge to go for a run…despite really wanting to do so.  And I hit the gym before work.  This time…I was on the Arc Trainer for 45 minutes, set it for Program 4 – Pike’s Peak.  And I did this at Level 5.  I managed 2.36 miles, which isn’t bad given the changes in incline, resistance, and the intervals that it puts you through.  Afterwards, it was the rowing machine.  I bought gloves to wear when I do this one, which definitely made rowing so much easier.  I have a love/hate relationship with the rowing machine.  It works everything, but it can be just as boring as the stationary bike or treadmill.  I usually end up glancing around at the others on machines…or focusing intently on my form.  Anyway, I managed 1.19 miles in 10 minutes on the rowing machine.  I hit up a few strength machines to help build up some muscle.  After work, it was time to circuit train and that was a challenge after the gym…but it had to happen.  The circuit training felt good to hit up after a long day at the office, even if I really didn’t want to tackle it.  The fact is…I did.

Wednesday was speed work day.  With classes back in session, my track workouts had to move to the treadmill.  BAH!  I hate that blasted machine.  But…when speed work and pacing day comes along, the interval speed work has to be monitored properly.  And this was no easy session either.  I got up early and got to the gym right as it opened.  This morning called for a 1 mile warm up, then 3 x 1600 meters at Marathon Pace with 2 x 800 meters at an easy pace for recovery.  Then I finish it all up with a 1 mile cool down.  I did just as I was instructed and rocked out these 6 miles in 47:21.  Not too shabby.  I kept my warm up and cool down slower than usual to allow my muscles to get warm, and then finally relax.  I ran the marathon pace part slightly faster…and then the easy recovery at an easier than normal easy pace for me.  So, I think in the end it all balanced out.  I felt like a rockstar though when I finished it up.  After work, it was the second day of circuit training.  I’m trying to keep it so my roommate and I blast through the circuits at least 2 times a week.  More if we feel the need.  But twice a week seems to work.  We were both feeling the previous day’s workout so I think this circuit was done a bit easier than the prior day.

Thursday is my crazy-busy workout day.  That morning I got up to log my 7 easy miles, which were, in fact, faster than Monday’s 7 miles.  How I managed that on legs that were tired and sore from speed work and circuit training, I’ll never know.  But…I did in fact manage it.  Maybe it was the amazing 57°F weather that morning.  Maybe I was just feeling good.  I felt like my legs were really having to push on this one, but somehow…negative splits happened again.  That was the confidence I needed going into the gym afterwards.  I pushed through 45 minutes on the elliptical, dialing in 9.13 miles.  Then, the dreaded stationary bike was next…and in 10 minutes I hit it up with 3.89 miles.  So bored.  I was trying to actually take it easy on my run and gym routine, because on this particular Thursday, the BlueMile Brew Mile series was wrapping up with its final race.  Yep.  I was able to make all 5 of them.  Love running races for charity and getting my roomie a free beer at the end of it.  So, this BlueMile Brew Mile was at Against The Grain over by Slugger Field.  It was the sight of the first one that we ran this year too.  Came full circle for sure.  Anyway, I donned my Wonder Woman outfit for this one and we headed out for the mile run.  I even convinced a co-worker of min, Justin, to come out and do it too.  He used to run cross country, so he agreed.  I knew this wouldn’t be my best mile…so I just kept it comfortably hard.  I knocked it out in 6:55, which isn’t too bad.  I’ve had slower and I’ve definitely had faster during this series…but it was fun.  And I lost Justin on the hill coming back up to round to the finish line.  He did manage a sub-8 minute mile though.  Proud of him.  Trying to get him to come out for the Monday runs.

Friday is the dreaded, but necessary, rest day.  As usual, I took myself out for a brisk stroll in the morning.  Why?  Because I need to do something in the morning or I might go insane.  This Friday, I logged a 3 mile walk in 34:42.  Not bad.  I was wearing (or attempting to wear) a fuel belt that Harry brought for me to try, since it had four bottles.  But…it didn’t quite fit me.  BUMMER!!  So, I have a purchase I need to make at the race expo in two weeks at Disneyland.  It was another gorgeous morning in the high 50s.  The walk was just what I needed.

30 foot Statue of David in front of the 21c Museum Hotel

30 foot Statue of David in front of the 21c Museum Hotel

Saturday was the long slow distance pace…for 20 miles.  Not just the furthest distance I have run yet…but also…the first time 20 miles even came into the picture.  Was I nervous?  Not really.  I was pretty stoked to be gearing up my marathon training to hit that 20 mile mark.  It was going to be myself, Harry, and Linda leaving at 6 a.m. on Saturday to hit 20 miles.  But Harry had a route picked out…and, man, was it ever gorgeous.  Linda was running a little more deliberately than I was…so Harry tended to rotate between running with me, then falling back to run with her.  I took to the streets in Louisville, running to the Second Street Bridge…then across it.  Man…that has to be one of my favorite runs ever.  That bridge, when you catch a breeze like I did that morning, just gets you to that happy place.  I wasn’t quite 4 miles in and I felt like I had reached that runner’s high.  It was an amazing run across the bridge.  And when I got to the other side, I waited on Harry and Linda.  When they caught up, we headed to the Falls of the Ohio, then ran the flood wall.  I pulled ahead here, too, running at an easier than normal pace, but taking the lead and running until the yellow line on the trail ended.  I waited for Harry and Linda there.  Harry took Linda and I off the beaten path briefly to show us a log cabin.  Very cool!  We refilled water bottles, then took the path through the parking lots…instead of back out to the road and down a mega-steep hill.  We ran this road all the way out to Hwy 62 in New Albany.  I gave a wave in the direction of my home as we came up to the road and stopped to turn around.  Harry said he was off by a mile so we’d have to make that up somewhere.  I was good with that.  We started back, and instead of turning to immediately head back over the bridge, we hit up Jeffersonville’s river front where lots of restaurants are.  We ran through a neighborhood, just over to the border of Jeff Boat.  And…then…we came back to the normal route.  We refilled water bottles again, then it was time to hit the Second Street Bridge and head back.  Once again, I hit that bridge and every part of me just wanted to GO!  Runner’s high for the second time.  It felt awesome.  I just took off and when I reached the other side, I paused and waited.  Linda was heading back to the store, but Harry and I had about a mile to add on.  So…he took me over to the Statue of David, which stands outside Louisville’s famous 21c Museum Hotel.  This gold statue is 30 feet tall.  Amazing.  We used this as a photo op, then continued to make our way through the streets of Louisville.  When we got back toward Baxter Avenue, Harry told me that if I wanted to take off to do so, as he was running another 20 miles on Sunday, so he needed to conserve some energy.  I took him up on the offer and for the last 2 miles…I ran my pace…my speed…even passed up Linda at one point.  And when all was said and done…I hit 20 miles in 3:01:59.  Not too shabby.  Not bad at all.  And the reward to everyone who ran that Saturday was Paleo Cinnamon Glazed Pumpkin Donuts that I stayed up late and baked.  Everyone complimented me on how delicious they were.  Total and epic win!!  And, despite not really wanting to do so…I did down my Arbonne Chocolate Protein Shake after the run.  My stomach wasn’t wanting it, but I knew my body needed it.  Later that day, I scored a pair of Vibrams for $20 on sale at a local running store.  They were even the ones I wanted.  TOTAL WIN!!  Don’t you worry…I have no intention of ever, EVER, EVER running in these.  I got these to walk around in and build up some strength in my feet.  My podiatrist might have a stroke if he knew I was wearing them…but he’d definitely have a stroke if I ever ran in them.  Not risking tearing my plantar fascia again.  That totally sucked last year.  I stick to the shoes that my feet need when it comes to running.  These…are to hopefully build strength in my tender feet.  We’ll see.  At least if they don’t work out…I’m only out $20 and not the usual price of $100.

Things that I’m learning…I’m craving fruit more and more each day.  I get cases of the RUNchies on runs and definitely on those higher mileage days, get RUNgry.  A lot.  It amazes me how fast my body burns through the fuel I give it while out that long.  I also can tell that these longer, slower runs are helping me with my speed and endurance.  When I focus on speed, I can feel the renewed strength in my legs, and the power.  And I know a lot of that comes from the endurance I’ve built, running easier, running farther, and just…minding my form and everything else.

Already looking forward to seeing what I manage this coming week in my training schedule.  Another flip-flop ahead…but for good reason.  More on that…next week.

My $20 Vibrams!

My $20 Vibrams!

Marathon Training Week #9 – Getting a “Boost”…

Marathon Training Week #9

Marathon Training Week #9

This has been a rather intense week when it has come to my running.  Granted, it was basically an “easier” week for the weekday runs, but the weekend was calling for a 16 miler.  Okay…I’ve done 18 miles already…in intense heat and humidity.  And that…well…it sucked.  It sucked mightily.  So, 16 miles wasn’t daunting at all.  Not really.  And I have a great group of people to run it with.  And I was promised a new route.  So…that was exciting.

But…simply put…I was tired.  The previous week wore me out, basically thanks to Maroon 5 and their show up in Indianapolis last Saturday night.  I missed out on quite a few precious hours of sleep…still hauled myself out of bed and went out for a run on Sunday morning.  Because Sunday morning runs are one of my “me” times.  I don’t go out with any set pace or path…I just go.  And when I’m done…I’m done.

This week was a good one for running, but I think my body is still trying to catch up on rest…and I haven’t had a moment to allow it that luxury.  I have, however, enjoyed a few wonderful moments this week…all centered on running.  Not my training…not really…but the physical runs.  The people I’m with…the things I saw…the experiences this week were what really made everything feel…just right.

And…I can finally pump my fist in the air because I have treated myself to a new pair of running shoes.  I tried on a pair of these at one of my fun runs on Monday night back in March (I think)…when Adidas was visiting the store.  I had one of the best runs ever on a Monday night…and just fell in love with them.  With a gift certificate to Blue Mile and some store credit…I finally decided it was time to treat myself to some shoes I wanted.  So, yesterday…I brought home a pair of Adidas Boost running shoes and a new pair of socks made by Injinji…they are toe socks…and should help with any blistering issues.  I also bought some Watermelon Nuun…but that’s not as exciting.

So…how do I break in new shoes?  On a Saturday 16 miler, of course…in the rain!  They really don’t look new anymore.  Already.  On the first outing.  Welcome to the life of a runner!  Let’s take a look at the week, shall we?

Sunday, as always, is either an easy run day or another day of rest.  I don’t do well with run days, so I usually take this opportunity to rock out a couple of miles.  No set path or direction or distance in mind.  I just run and go where my feet take me, however long they feel like being out there, and on whatever route they choose.  Sunday is “me” time…as I get up early and get out there, trying to beat the heat of the day…the torturous sun…and all that jazz.  This Sunday…however…I decided to match my Saturday mileage.  My legs were feeling good, even after going 13 miles on Saturday with Laura.  So, when I headed out…I only had one goal…and that was to hit some hills.  I ended up running to the local campus and running the parking lots, which are hilly in their own right.  Then…I hit the hills around town…through the community park, and out towards the main drag.  I actually clocked a half marathon (exactly 13.1 miles) when I wound up back at my apartment complex and paused my Garmin.  And it was in 1:44:51…which means I was almost matching the pace of my best half marathon.  I was just 4 minutes off.  So, I was really having a fantastic morning run.  I didn’t feel tired after it either.  Just went inside, hopped in a nice cool shower, then got my roommate up because I was craving gluten-free pancakes.  So, we went out to North End Café where I enjoyed one gluten-free pancake with a side of fruit.  It was just what I needed and wanted.  Shopping followed…and then a sweet treat.  That’s how I roll on Sunday!

Monday Fun Run Group with fresh watermelon after the run.  Yes...I had already devoured mine!

Monday Fun Run Group with fresh watermelon after the run. Yes…I had already devoured mine!

Monday…the runs in the dark return with a vengeance.  Earlier than my weekend morning wake-up calls.  Sometimes it just seems hard to get out of bed.  But not this Monday.  Not really.  My training plan was scaling down in the week as far as my mileage, allowing me to physically get prepared for my longer run on Saturday, I believe.  The weather that morning was ideal.  Just beautiful.  Not humid.  A slight breeze.  I was loving it.  The training plan called for 4 miles…so I didn’t bother to pack something for fuel…I wouldn’t be out long enough to require it or to even necessitate practicing my fueling technique.  Then…I ended up going 5 miles because it just felt good.  I did all of this with fantastic negative splits.  By now you all know that Monday is also the weekly Daily Double…so that evening after work and a quick bite at home, I headed over to Louisville to hit the road with my fun run group.  We hadn’t run the scenic loop in Cherokee Park for awhile, so we chose to do that…but backwards.  There are parts of running the loop that I love to do backwards…but the worst part is right at the end…going up toward Hogan’s Fountain…on this windy, gradual-yet-still-steep climb.  I was with the group at the beginning, but somehow ended up ahead…and remained there for the rest of the run.  In fact, I got back to the store long before others.  I hate when that happens…because I do love running with my group…but it was how it worked.  Natalie, one of the runners I run with often on Monday, supplied the group with fresh watermelon.  And it was DELICIOUS.  Watermelon is something I crave a lot these days after I run.  So this…was fantastic to return to the store and indulge in.

Tuesday is not a running day, but it still brings an early morning.  Tuesday is my cross training day.  And my cross training all takes place at the gym.  And in order to fit in a gym workout without making excuses not to go…I go early.  Really early.  Much to Cathy’s chagrin.  She is not a morning person, but she does rise and shine at least twice a week to hit up the gym.  Tuesday we leave the apartment by 6:15 at the latest and get to the gym by 6:30 a.m.  This Tuesday’s cross training routine was done on two different machines.  The first one is the Arc Trainer, which is sort of an advanced and more difficult version of an elliptical machine.  I set it for Program 3 – Hill Intervals – Level 5 and then hit it.  I managed 2.68 miles in 45 minutes with the changing resistance, incline, and the intervals that it threw at me.  I was feeling awesome about that.  And then, the second machine was a 10 minute workout on the stationary bike.  I HATE the stationary bike.  I think for reasons I hate the treadmill.  I just don’t like putting so much effort forward and not be going anywhere.  UGH!  So, these 10 minutes always feel like torture.  I change the resistance after every minute and just gave it whatever I had left in the tank.  And in 10 minutes, I did manage 3.91 miles.  Then it was downstairs to get some strength training in.  Later that night…20 minutes of yoga to stretch everything out.  I needed it because…

Wednesday morning rolled around.  And by now, we all know that Wednesday means it’s pacing/speed work day.  This week it was asking me for 6 miles with negative splits.  I wasn’t sure this was actually going to happen.  I told my roommate this the night before, as I looked at the weather and saw how steamy and humid it was going to be that morning.  Well, The Weather Channel wasn’t lying.  That morning was heavy, wet air…and I felt like I was just running in MUCK.  Honestly.  It just made the act of running feel that much more difficult.  Somehow, and I still am not sure how, I managed to nail the negative splits that were requested in the training plan.  I still don’t know how I managed…but I did.  That evening, after work, it was 20 minutes of circuit training, which really kicked my ass.

Thursday morning it was back to running easy.  And I was glad for that.  I was feeling “the shred” of the circuit training the day before.  And it was still humid as MUCK out on Thursday morning.  It might even have been muckier than it was on Wednesday morning.  In fact, I can honestly say I do believe it really was.  This morning called for an easy 5 miles, similar to that on Monday.  So, I ran my usual path…then decided…why not throw in a couple of hills.  So, I altered my route and went out on the one I used to run before strange men kept jumping out at me and scaring me.  I had my mace with me…so I felt I could manage this.  It meant no gorgeous negative splits…but the change was what I needed, honestly.  Thursday also took me back to the gym, where I did 9.16 miles on the elliptical in 45 minutes and then kicked out 3.69 miles on the Cardio Wave machine.  I love doing this machine because it manages to work my legs from side-to-side instead of the usual front-to-back motion.  A few strength machines followed.  Then, after work…it was back to the circuit training for the second day that week.  Let me tell you…I almost talked myself out of doing it.  I told my roommate we could either do it that night…or Friday.  She said she didn’t care…so I finally figured that if we didn’t do it Thursday, we wouldn’t hit that second day of it for the week…because Friday we are always busy.  So, I said we’d just do it…and we did.  It was painful…but we did it.  And I’m proud of us for doing so.

My Injinji socks and my Adidas Boost running shoes...treats to myself!

My Injinji socks and my Adidas Boost running shoes…treats to myself!

It was a good call because along came Friday.  Friday is the evil but blessed rest day.  The one day that I literally am not to do anything.  I do my best to respect this day and keep it holy.  I mean…it’s once a week, yes?  Yes.  The only thing is I do allot myself permission to go for an early morning walk.  Just a brisk little walk to take the edge off.  Friday usually means a lot of sitting at the office, trying to get accounts closed and the like…so this walk is good for me.  And I enjoy it.  Honestly.  I did 3.02 miles on Friday morning in 34:23, which is actually really, really brisk.  But I have short legs and honestly walk fast.  It’s just how I am.  The brilliant thing about this Friday was…after coming home and eating a delicious gluten-free pizza for dinner…I went over to my running store…and I treated myself to those shoes I was telling you about at the beginning.  The Adidas Boost.  There was just something about these shoes that I loved…after running in them for 3 miles back in March.  I coveted them from afar…wanting them so badly, but not having the money for the $150 price tag they carried.  But with a gift certificate, some store credit…and really wanting them…Friday…I finally did it.  I just broke down and bought a pair.  And they are bright.  And with them…I got a pair of Injinji toe socks…because I was mentioning how sometimes I can get blisters and I am totally prone to black toenails.  I was told the Injinji socks could certainly help with that.  I figured if I was going to break in new shoes on Saturday, I might as well give new socks a try too.  Purchased.  Done deal.  The Adidas Boost shoes were now mine.  So..what is so great about the Boosts?  It’s all in the design.  Adidas’ Web site says that we, as runners, put a lot of energy into our runs, and the Adidas Energy Boost shoes gives some of it back because they are designed with an energy-return boost midsole, which supposedly keeps every step charged with light, fast, energy.  Adidas Boost shoes are lightweight (8.5 pounds) and bring flexible upper support to the shoes.  Simply put…they feel great and running in them feels great.  And now…they were mine.  And I couldn’t wait to take them out for a spin.  A very, very long spin of 16 miles…Saturday morning.

Saturday means one thing…LONG RUN!  I love my long run days.  I really do.  Getting to run with people.  Doing the long slow distance (LSD).  Talking…about everything, anything, and just enjoying the company for what can otherwise be a very lonely time out on the roads.  I also love these runs because each time I go out with any member of the group who is needing or wanting to do the mileage I am doing…I get shown a new running route.  And today…was a beautiful one.  16 challenging miles…but on a route I had never taken before…but had heard stories about.  This is what the running group has dubbed the “Better Homes and Gardens” route.  And I now understand why.  We met up at 6:30 a.m. and Harry was going to take us on the route.  There were five of us to start, although Laura was on a step-down week, so she was only doing 10 miles.  She figured she’d run out 5 with us, then turn around and come back.  We left the store and started into Cherokee Park.  Laura and I kept the lead all the way through the park, taking the route Harry had planned toward Seneca Park, where we would wait for the other three (Harry, Carrie, and Linda).  We didn’t have to wait long…and we took the opportunity to refill water bottles and get ready for the next 3/4 of the 16 miles we wanted to log.  Laura came out to just over 5 miles with us before turning around to head back.  From there…the four of us set out for the remainder of the “Better Homes and Gardens” run.  First of all…gorgeous neighborhoods!!  STUNNING!!  And…I even got to see deer!!  A mother deer and two fawns.  A fourth one was lurking further back.  Harry and I were leading…and Linda and Carrie were behind us for most of this adventure.  Harry and I would pause at places to allow them to catch up and we’d discuss the next leg of the run…so that we would know where to meet and so on.  As Harry and I rounded a corner, we spotted another deer.  I had to get a picture!!  It was awesome!!  Harry snapped a picture on his phone too.  And then we continued on, pausing when we hit River Road to wait on the rest of our crew.  We never leave runners behind.  When the caught up, we ran through a park and then back out onto the road.  To make sure we hit mileage, Harry took us up to the Water Tower.  It was a beautiful detour.  And then we hit the road to head back toward our final destination.  Not wanting to hit the hill on Zorn Avenue, we went a different way to The Three Bears.  Now, I have heard many runners in the group talk about The Three Bears…but I was finally going to see them for myself.  And as Harry and I were first to arrive, he even snapped a picture of me with them.  I had to dance with them.  Just up the hill was an ivy-covered bunny…so we walked up there while we waited for our running partners…and I got a picture with that as well.  From there…it was a short stint on a trail…then back onto the roads and a few turns more before we arrived back at the store.  Of course…with about 5 miles left to go, the rain decided it didn’t want to hold off any longer…and so…it started to fall.  And it felt great.  I mean, I really needed it.  The humidity was awful in the morning…so this was nature’s very own air conditioning.  I welcomed it.  I didn’t have a hat with me though, so I was doing all I could to not get rain in my eyes.  It lightened up soon after…and with another opportunity to show me something I normally don’t see…Harry took me up to the reservoir where all of Louisville’s water goes through before heading out into the city.  It was AWESOME!  From there, he and I made the final dash toward the coffee house where all the other runners who left earlier or even later were meeting and enjoying the Gluten-Free Almond Peach Muffins I baked on Friday night for them.  The rain was falling again, but we waited for Linda and Carrie to make it back.  The actual run that morning was 17.02 miles…so…once again I went the extra mile.  But it was a fun, beautiful run.  And I loved the company and the sights I was able to see.

Scenes from my Saturday morning 17 mile long run

Scenes from my Saturday morning 17 mile long run

I am already gearing up for next Saturday, which is ushering in what will be my longest run to date.  I am totally looking forward to that challenge.  Now…I’m going to hit up the foam roller because my calf muscles are definitely reminding me that I road tested new shoes for 16 miles today.  Biofreeze might be my friend tonight as well.  No matter…I had a hell of a great run today and I’m still smiling from the high I felt while out there on the road…doing what I love…with people who share that same passion for running.  Sore calf muscles and all!!  Also…I need to carry more bottles with me.  My two 6 ounce bottles are definitely not cutting it in the humid, hot weather.  Good thing we had water fountains along the way.  But my Nuun was gone before I was even halfway through the run today.  Electrolytes are my friend as I tend to sweat out salt…so…this will be remedied.  Oh yes…yes it will.

It just means I might need to invest in a little more retail therapy…

Marathon Training Week #8 – Daily Doubles

Marathon Training Week #8

Marathon Training Week #8

Halfway!!  I am officially halfway through my marathon training for the Chicago Marathon!!

This has been one crazy week for my training.  Honestly.  Not just from a time perspective, but there was just a lot going on for me with my running and training schedule.  Some of it was part of the plan.  Some of it…well…some of it was bonus…extra…things I do for fun.  And that’s good to have in there every now and again.  The key is to keep it easy and run smart.  As long as I listen to my body and not get stubborn, I’ll be fine.

It seemed I was doing quite a few doubles this week.  That was not actually intended…it was just how it worked out.  Regardless, I can feel my legs growing stronger because while they have been worked hard once already, they still power through another run.  Sometimes faster…sometimes slower.   They run as they feel and I don’t push it.  I have a goal to come out of this year uninjured and so far that’s worked out for me.

Let’s take a look at this week of pulling double duty…

Sunday is either an easy run or a day of rest.  I normally opt for the easy run unless my legs are just crying out for some down time.  But, this past Sunday I was invited by my good friend Kelsie to go running with her running group.  I never turn down a chance to get out and run with people.  I have a blast getting out with others, talking, running, and just having a good time.  You don’t even think about the miles when you’re in that sort of a zone.  They were meeting up in Jeffersonville, Indiana to run for 11 miles.  I had done 15 the previous morning, but I was feeling up to it and feeling good.  I met up with her group at 5:30 a.m. and we all headed out to run across the Second Street Bridge and head up Bardstown until we hit 5.5 miles.  Turning around and heading back.  We all talked about races, goals, pace, and some amendments to our own goals we had set.  Kelsie and I figured out why we click so well…we’re both Virgos.  And we had really great conversation for much of the run, talking about fundraising, about family, everything.  Running was not the only subject, nor were our upcoming marathons.  It was a gorgeous morning with 57 degree temperatures.  We finished up just as the sun was coming up.  A beautiful 11 miles with good people and great motivation.  My legs weren’t screaming at me at all.  They felt strong the entire way.  It was an easy pace, with great people and I would certainly do it again in a heartbeat.

Minion cake for my Monday fun run group!

Minion cake for my Monday fun run group! Yes…I made that!

Monday returned with a vengeance.  The weather that morning was perfect for a run.  And I took advantage of that for sure.  I was scheduled for 7 easy miles, which I totally devoured that morning.  I was shocked, actually, since I was coming off a weekend of two longer than usual runs.  But my legs were still feeling amazing and that was what mattered.  I even managed some awesome negative splits.  And, as usual, Monday also brings around my group fun run after work.  After rushing home to eat a quick meal and getting ready, I grabbed a special cake I made for my group and headed out to meet up with them.  Laura had heard about a World Championship Dainty Competition going on in the area, so we headed a different direction than usual, up Eastern Parkway, and took it over to Goss, where the event was being held.  We all paused to watch for a few minutes, then continued along the way.  I mostly stayed in the front with Harry and Natalie.  Harry and I have been trying to get through to Natalie that she doesn’t have to sprint through every run.  Especially since she is recovering from arm surgery and now an injury to her leg.  She is stubborn though, but hopefully she’ll learn.  We finished up another 4.1 miles that day and then returned to the store to cut into and devour the cake I made.  What was this special cake?  I made a cake shaped like a Minion from Despicable Me.  We all love Minions in my running group.  It was a gluten-free and dairy-free cake…and it was a hit!!

Tuesday, however, I was starting to feel all that running.  This was a no run…but cross training day.  So, Cathy and I hit the gym.  She was returning from having her wisdom tooth out.  So, we hit the Arc Trainer first.  I did 45 minutes on Program 2 – Hills – on Level 5.  This was a challenge.  But I pushed through those 45 minutes of hills, which means a change in intervals, resistance, and inclines.  It was tough, but I managed 2.38 miles.  Then it was over to the Cardio Wave machine.  I love this machine because it moves my legs from side to side instead of just the standard front and back motion.  In 10 minutes, I did 3.69 miles and was ready to call it a day.  But some strength training was up next.  I hit that up, left the gym…and was supposed to come home from work and fit in some circuit training.  My legs were saying “NO!”  So, I decided with Cathy still coming back from her tooth and my legs telling me to lay off…we’d take a break this week from circuit training and come back to it next week.  We were both happy with that decision.

Wednesday is my speed work/pacing day.  This week called for a 6 mile tempo run.  And, aside from having some issues with my fuel belt staying in place that morning, I was mostly successful in rocking this out.  I held a great pace, I worked into the tempo, sustained it, then cooled down.  I felt good about it when it was done, I just needed to get past scooching my fuel belt down throughout the entire thing.  I fueled halfway through just as my sports nutritionist is requiring me to do while out running.  And it was a good pacing day.  When I finished it up, I felt good…so that was the important part.

Thursday…was insane.  I went out in the morning for my 5 mile easy run, which I managed better than I thought I would.  I didn’t check the weather like I normally do that morning, and figured it would be cool like the past few mornings have been.  Wrong.  The air was very humid, but I did have a wind.  A strong headwind that hit me on the inclines of this run.  Despite that, I still rocked out those 5 easy miles and even managed negative splits.  Thursday is also our other day to hit up the gym.  This time, I did 49 minutes on the elliptical machine.  The last four minutes are a cool down, but I was doing good, despite having busy legs all week.  I did 9.38 miles in 49 minutes that morning.  Then I went over to the rowing machine for 10 minutes.  The rowing machine always kicks my booty.  It just works my body all over.  It’s great cross training and great on the core, back, arms, and even the legs.  I really struggled this morning though, starting to feel the fatigue set into my legs.  So…I did 1.17 miles in those 10 minutes, then headed downstairs for a couple of strength machines.  But my day didn’t end there.  Nope.  Thursday was also the BlueMile Brew Mile at Molly Malone’s.  I haven’t missed a Brew Mile yet this year.  And the one at Molly’s is one of my favorites.  Despite having to run through Eastern Cemetery.  I had actually gotten there in good time and met up with Natalie.  We probably should have been stretching, but instead we just got to talking.  This happens with us.  We met up with Ellen and Andrew from BlueMile as well…and more talking.  Then Laura showed up…and we all just talked.  No stretching actually occurred.  Not really.  We were directed to walk toward Eastern Cemetery, so we did.  All of us lined up and we were given the course directions by Derek.  And then…we were off.  Despite these tired, overworked legs, I rocked off a mile in 6:42, which is fantastic for me, I think.  I wasn’t sure I would be able to push it having not stretched and having just really tired legs, but I got through it and I pushed and pushed.  It was a brilliant mile and all of us finished in great time.  Then, we headed back to Molly’s for the giveaways and drinks.  I bought Cathy a Magners while I sipped on some much-needed water.  I even won a $15 BlueMile Gift Certificate in the prize drawings.  WOOHOO!!

Friday…the much needed day of rest.  And I’m really good about obeying this for the most part.  I have been going out for a walk in the morning.  It’s not running…it’s walking.  Which, I suppose, doesn’t really mean I am resting.  And I tend to walk fast too.  So, that morning I went for 3 miles and did that in 34:26.  It was beautiful out.  Nice breeze.  It just felt good.  And, on lunch, Cathy and I went for another walk (pulling a double again!), in which we managed 1.65 miles in 23 minutes.  It was good and I didn’t push much because I knew Saturday held my long run.

Saturday morning came and normally I would be running with Matthew and company.  Matthew and Dawn, however, had decided to spontaneously run a marathon in Tennessee…so they weren’t going to be there.  I had 12 miles to run for this week, as it was a fall-back week.  A few other people needed to go that distance as well.  So, I met up with Laura and a couple of other ladies for the early start at 6:30 a.m.  We headed out from Bardstown toward the Second Street Bridge.  From there, the other two ladies turned around, as they were only going 6-7 miles respectively.  Laura and I continued on, heading down toward the Waterfront.  Here Laura took me the opposite way, away from the Big Four Pedestrian Bridge…which was a very scenic and new route for me.  And I loved it.  We had great conversation, said hello to other runners and bikers that we passed, and she even showed me the trivia about river boats.  Oh, and if you don’t know much about trains…Laura can fill you in.  I loved learning so much about them.  I just love trivia and knowledge…especially on things I normally know nothing about.  We reached our turnaround point, then headed back along toward the riverfront before taking Main to Market to Baxter back to the store.  I was going to stop at 12 miles, but I felt so good coming up the hill on Baxter, that I just kept going.  When it hit the corner near Blue Mile, I was only 0.10 miles off from 13, so I made Cathy run behind me as I worked to hit that 13 mile mark.  She jogged for about 20 feet before just heading to the car, where I met her after my watch hit that 13th mile.  And I felt good at the end of it.  Which was what I wanted to feel.  We had a Maroon 5 concert that night and I had every intention of rocking out another 12 – 13 miles on Sunday, despite getting home at 2 a.m.  But that…will wait for next week.

So, there was a lot of daily doubles going on this week, whether in running or walking.  But I can feel my legs are getting used to working even when fatigued.  And that, I feel, is a good thing.  The marathon is going to drain me…so knowing my legs can carry me through, even when tired, is just making me feel better about the entire situation.  I’m loving every bit of my training…and the extra stuff I do for fun.  Because I can’t just keep it serious all the time.  I love to run…so when the opportunity comes up to run a mile for charity…to run with friends…to bake a cake and share it with good people…that’s what I do.  It’s good for me to adjust my running, to take it easier than usual at times, because it helps build endurance and strength.  That’s a hard lesson to learn.  I can’t be all-out all the time or I will get injured.  Those long, slow distances are key to going the distance and making it to the finish line at the very end of it all.

Definitely looking forward to this coming week…which won’t include as many doubles.  In fact…Monday should be the only one.  I keep learning from all my training and fun runs.  I take in great advice, I learn about what my body is capable of managing, and I just enjoy the feeling I get when I hit stop on my Garmin and realize just how far I’ve gone.

I might have been pulling double duty this past week on the running, but I ran smart to ensure I could handle it.  And that is the key!