August 30, 2011

Memphis Marathon Training: Week 2

Let's pretend this post isn't two days late. Let's pretend you read this on Sunday and I'm not totally behind on both blogging and training.

Week 2 wasn't bad, and I was feeling pretty decent about sticking to my training plan until the last few days. Increasing my mileage is really taking a toll on my energy level, and I'm finding it hard to complete all the workouts each week. I feel like I've been fighting off a cold since Friday. If I'm going to make it through this, I'm going to have to get lots more sleep than what I usually make time for. BUT, we all know marathon training is hard; if it was easy, more people would do it. So there will be no whining here. At least not until my runs reach double digits.

I ran at the track with Alicia, and had a great speed workout! We ran a slow mile to warm up and then did some half mile repeats. I still haven't figured out how to settle into a pace that's out of my comfort zone and keep it there, so my splits were kind of all over the place. Still a good run though.

3 miles/30 minutes

Cross train
I skipped spin class so I could try out my new bike!

I got a Scott Sub 45 Solution. It's a hybrid/fitness bike, and I love it! It's going to take a while to get comfortable on it, but I think I'll get used to it eventually. It's been years since I've been on a bike, so I'm still trying to remember how to ride. We had a fun evening cruising around on paved bike paths.

7.5 miles

7 Tempo
This tempo run was such a nightmare. I was supposed to run 1 mile easy, 5 miles at marathon pace and finish with the last mile easy. Sadly, none of these miles were easy. Work was crazy last week, so I worked late, which made me go for a run late. Really late. Like pitch black and wearing a headlamp. I wear a headlamp to run in winter, so I didn't think it would be a big deal. News flash: Bugs are attracted to bright lights in the summertime! It was awful. Also, because this run was on a Wednesday and not on a weekend, my brain did not compute that this was about the same length as my weekend long runs have been. On weekend long runs, I make sure to eat before I go and take Sport Beans or ShotBloks to have midway through the run. But because it was Wednesday, my brain thought, eh, it's just a mid-week run. I'll just carry some water.  And so I almost died. And I will add one more complaint...Trea and I ran late enough that spiders were out and building their webs for the evening. There may have been some screaming and cursing and flipping out around mile 6.

7 miles/1:21:00/11:34 avg. pace

Cross train (Spin) Rest
Still exhausted from 7 miles of hell, I came home from work and collapsed on the couch.


9 long
I ran with a group Saturday morning and had so much fun! Lori, Jennifer and Alicia joined me and Trea for 9 miles around Bentonville.

I'm the slowest in the group, and I warned everyone what my pace would be. I was so nervous that they were all going to take off and leave me running by myself. Trea led for the first few miles, and he was extra careful to stick to the pace that I was aiming for. About halfway through the run, the girls sped up a bit and Trea and I hung back. I have bonked on so many runs by burning through my energy too fast, and I really didn't want that to happen that day. I wanted to stick to my pace and make sure I finished my miles. But they gradually got faster and a little faster, and I had to speed up to stay within a reasonable range of them. I was so worried about hitting a wall, but thankfully I never did. I had negative splits the last half of the run and ended up running the whole thing faster than I had run my 7 mile tempo. I felt great and never struggled, even at the end. As long as I listen to my own body and stay aware of my limits, I think running with a group can be a great thing. They all felt better because the slow pace at first helped them finish strong. I felt better too because I had pushed myself and gone faster than I would have if I had been alone.

9.03 miles/1:43:00/11:22 avg. pace

Total running mileage for the week: 19

14 weeks till Memphis!

August 23, 2011

Hot blooded

I don't know why my post titles are usually bad cliches or song titles. This one's brought to you by Foreigner. Google it, kids.

Anywho, marathon training is underway, and I have my sights set on Memphis in December. But in the meantime, it's still August. And it's hot. So hot that, as I'm running, I picture calming, happy thoughts, like my shoes melting to the pavement or those True Blood vampires walking into the sunlight as their skin melts off and they burst into flames. Not the Twilight sparkly vampires; the spontaneously combusting barbecued ones. Seriously. It's that hot.

I had to work early Saturday morning at the time when I would normally be running to beat the heat. So instead, I had to do my long run later in the day. Trea and I ran 8 miles at high noon. It was 94 degrees with a heat index of 104 and not a cloud in the sky. Also, no shade on the course we chose. Geniuses, we are.

When we started out, I felt fantastic. My last few long runs have been awful because I've been struggling with early morning nutrition. But Saturday, I had finally cracked the code. I had an egg McMuffin and half a small coffee from Mickie D's as soon as I woke up, a banana about an hour later, and half a Powerbar and 1 ShotBlok a few minutes before my run. I had energy! But not too much! I was so looking forward to a strong 8 miles. It had been cloudy all morning, and I thought we would get lucky with overcast skies. Not so much. As soon as I stepped out of the car, the sun broke through the clouds and was merciless the rest of the day.

I realized immediately that I needed to scrap my plans to hit a certain pace and just focus on getting the miles done however I could. I normally start drinking after 10 minutes and then sip every 5 minutes after that. But on this day, in this heat, I drank every 3 minutes exactly, and I was sweating like never before in my life. It was so hot that I even ran in just a sports bra and no shirt. My abs were not prepared for that, but it was nice not to have a soaked shirt blocking what little breeze there was.

After just 3 miles, I was already running low on water. I always dilute grape G2 with water and ice in a 22 oz. Nathan handheld, and it's usually fine for me. But I wasn't even halfway through my run, and it was over half gone. Trea always sweats a ton when we run, so he recently started running with a Nathan Endurance hydration vest. It holds 70 oz., and that still wasn't enough for this heat.

We stopped to walk for a minute around 3.25 miles. The sunshine and heat was making my heart race, so we had to take a breather. We decided to run to Orchards Park because it has a covered pavilion where we could get out of the sun and rest a while and refill our water bottles at a water fountain. When we reached the park, we were at 4 miles and still had 4 to go. We would have preferred to cut it short and finish the miles at night or early the next morning, but we still had to get back to the car. Might as well run it. We stayed at the park for several minutes, I'm not even sure how long. I had three ShotBloks and topped off my water bottle twice. After only 4 miles, Trea had already drank 50 oz. and refilled his pack too.

The rest of the run is a blur, but not because it was fast. I was sipping yucky water fountain water that was the same temperature as bath water. I'd had sweat and mascara in my eyes since mile 1. I had applied SPF 50, but I felt like I was on fire, and I could see poor fair-skinned Trea turning pink. Around mile 6, I stopped for walk breaks about every half mile. It was so hot that when we waited at stoplights, we would try to hide behind the skinny line of shade cast by the pole. I would run along slowly, but doing OK, until we reached shade. Shade trees were like magnets. I could immediately feel the temperature get cooler when we passed under a tree, and my feet would refuse to go forward.

We had stopped and started so many times that Trea's Garmin time was screwed up, so he was just following my time and pace with my watch. For the last mile, I called out updates for us every quarter mile. "We're at 7.5!!" And Trea would respond with fist pumps in the air. "Just another quarter!" More fist pumps from Trea. "EIGHT!!!" And we high-fived like we had just finished a race. I'm sure we looked insane.

What did we learn? 1. Don't run at noon in August. Trea drank a total of 120 oz. while we were out, and it took two days for his shoes to dry. Not worth it. 2. Be flexible with this training plan. As long as we get the workouts done, it doesn't matter what day they happen. 3. Also? If a hot 8 miles is this tough, 26.2 is going to be a serious test, both mentally and physically. Thank goodness it's in December!! Bring on the cold!

Long, hot run

August 21, 2011

So here's the plan

Marathon training is ON! Week 1 just ended, and I think it was successfulish, considering how busy work and life have been the last few days. I do other stuff (occasionally) besides run, you know.

So here's the plan. I'm following the Run Less, Run Faster plan for first-time marathon runners. I'll run three days a week and cross train two days a week for 16 weeks leading up to the Dec. 3 St. Jude Memphis Marathon. The idea is that by only running three days, I will be less prone to injury and burnout. However, the cross training part is serious. Without that, I don't think even finishing 26.2 is feasible. The plan calls for one day of speed work, one tempo run and one long run each week. I'll eventually build up to 20 miles (!!!) for my long run. Please put me on your prayer list now.

Here's my pretty pink plan (design inspired by That Pink Girl, of course.) Click to make it bigger. Friday and Sunday will be rest days, and though it seems silly to write down "stretch," I actually need reminders to be kind to my sore muscles.

I'll be posting training summaries at the end of each week because I know you're all just dying to know how all my training runs go, and it will help hold me accountable. So here's my recap for week 1:

Speed Rest
I took an unplanned rest day because my previous week's running schedule was off, and I did my long run on Sunday instead of Saturday. That means my legs were useless on Monday. Skip a day, and it throws the whole week off kilter. Lesson learned.

Spin Speed
Since I was off a day on my plan, I chose to make up my run rather than attend spin class. In training for a race, I think it's more important to make sure I get my runs in if I have to choose between running and cross training. BTW, excuses stop here. For the most part.
I ran 2 x 1600 (9:33, 9:35) at the track with a half mile warm up and half mile cool down. I cut the speed work 1 mile short because it was late and someone has to cook dinner.

6 tempo 4 miles
This was a very tough run. I was dehydrated and had to walk a lot and cut it short.

4 miles/49:43/12:12 avg. pace

2 tempo and Spin
I made up for my Wednesday failure by finishing those remaining 2 miles at target pace in the morning and going to spin class in the evening. Redemption.

2 miles/20:00/10:00 avg. pace
Spin class: 50 minutes


8 long
This was the hottest, hardest run of my life. 94 degrees in direct sunlight at high noon with a heat index of 104. This one was ugly. But I got it done!

8 miles/1:38:00/12:15 avg. pace

Total mileage for the week: 17

15 weeks till Memphis!!

August 4, 2011

Heritage War Eagle 5K Race Report

I make poor decisions. I sign up for obstacle course races, even though I have no athletic ability or upper body strength. I sign up for marathons, even though I shuffle along at a grandmother's pace. And when it's 100 degrees outside, I sign up at the last minute for an evening 5K and run my face off, rather than doing the smart thing and sticking to the treadmill.

On Monday morning, Trea suggested we run the Heritage War Eagle 5K in Rogers. At 7:30 p.m. that same day. Even though the asphalt was melting outside and meteorologists were screeching words like "historic" and "record breaking" in reference to the temperature. I needed to do about 3 miles of speed work that day anyway, so I figured, why not. I made a quick trip home over lunch to grab some clothes so we could change at the office and head straight to the race. When I left work, temperatures in the area ranged from 100-107 with heat indexes (indices?) from 105-111. Awesome.

The race was chip timed, but there wasn't a chip start. We got burned by this at the Gold Rush 5K because we were too far back in the pack. So this time we got very close to the starting line, but on the edge of the road so the fast runners could easily go around us. The event was for the Rogers cross country track team, so we were surrounded by lean, athletic teenagers. As soon as the race started, everyone sprinted ahead. As I said before, I make poor decisions, so I tried to keep up with the pack. I looked down at my Garmin and saw I was running a 7:20 pace. SEVEN. TWENTY. I'm a slow runner. Pretty sure my Garmin didn't even know that first number could be a seven. I pumped the brakes and tried to shoot for 9:30. About 100 people passed me, but I know my limits, and I did not feel like testing the emergency response plan at this little race. 

Mile 1 = 9:27

As soon as I took my first step, even though I had been chugging water all day, my mouth immediately felt like cotton. I could barely swallow, and I was so annoyed that I would have to lose time at a water stop on a 3 mile run. I blew by the first one hoping I could tough it out. But I had started too fast, and the heat and pace were getting to me, so I stopped at the second water station and just walked a couple of steps to get one drink down without spilling before picking up the pace again. I don't think it cost me that much time, and it was about the best drink of water I've ever had in my entire life.

Mile 2 = 10:14

After the two mile mark, I was seriously struggling. The sun was going down, so there was a little relief from that, but the heat was so intense that I could barely breathe. There was a breeze, but it just felt like opening the oven door. I wanted to walk. The course looped around a neighborhood a couple of times, and even though the loops were different, we kept running by where we started and finished. For some reason, mentally, that was really hard for me. I felt like, "We're here! Why in the world am I still running?" I wanted to quit. But then I stopped that train of thought and really made myself assess the situation. Did I feel nauseated? No. Did I feel faint? Not yet. Still sweating? That's a good sign. Is my heart rate OK? I think so. I gave myself a mental head-to-toe check up and realized that even though it was hot and the pace was hard for me and I was tired, there was no reason that I couldn't finish and finish well. Runners always talk about mantras, and at this point, mine became: "It's supposed to hurt."

Mile 3 = 10:02
The end of the race finished with a lap around the track, and even though I was exhausted, tracks just make me run faster. That final 0.1 was a 9:21 average pace, and I finished in 30:25! A new PR! I took about a minute and a half off my previous 5K time. Considering the temperature and my lack of speed training, I'm really proud of this. I know I ran as hard as I could, and next time I'll be able to run even harder and break 30 minutes.

Heritage War Eagle 5k

Trea also set a PR and broke 30 minutes for the first time. He finished in 28:30!

Heritage War Eagle 5K

This was a really tough race because of the heat, but I'm glad I did it. The not so great news is that now my marathon training plan has to change. My plan is based on meeting specific paces for each run based on my 5K pace. And since my 5K got faster, my training paces just got about 30 seconds faster too! Eek! My 16-week plan starts August 14. It's gonna be an interesting next four months...


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