Training Update {8 months out}

Fiona will be 8 months old tomorrow.  Eight months?!  I sound so cliche but time really does pass in the blink of an eye.  I wish the same was true for training.

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This is definitely my longest training cycle so far.  By the time the marathon rolls around I will have racked up 20 weeks of training.  Totally necessary but daunting at the same time.

Here’s a little look at what I’ve been doing…

The first 10 weeks (when I thought I was doing the 50K) included lots of slow miles, lots of hills, and some trail running.  This is exactly what my body craved (it still does).  I ran my first 50+ mile week when Fiona was 6 months old.  A slow and steady comeback.  Structurally I feel great – I’m still religiously doing pre-hab 3 times a week – but I’m exhausted most of the time.  Which brings me to the topic of “total work”.

Pre-Fiona, when I was training, I would get solid sleep and sit on my ass for 8 hours a day at work.  I recovered as hard as I worked.  Now I get less sleep, run around all day, and carry 20 lbs on my hip (alternating hips, of course, to balance out the inevitable imbalances that will result).  So my “total work” skyrocketed and 50+ mile weeks knock me on my ass.  Too bad I can’t spend some time there and rest.

So this parenting thing is exhausting and coupled with marathon training, it’s really exhausting.  Maybe I’ll adjust (has anyone adjusted?) but for now my weekly mileage will remain around 45 so I don’t fall asleep at dinner.  And I realize that doesn’t sound like much of a decrease but it seems to be my sweet spot these days.

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Since I decided to run the marathon instead of the 50K you would think I would begin to do some type of speed work.  Nah, I’m too exhausted for that!  In all seriousness, I just don’t want to do any type of organized speed work.  I have picked up the pace on a few runs and I do coach a track workout on Tuesday nights, where I run with all different pace groups…well, the ones I can keep up with.  My goal for the marathon is a “solid effort”.  I’m not in PR shape – nor should I be at 8 months postpartum – so a PR would be an unrealistic goal.  I just want to get out there, enjoy myself, get used to marathoning again, and see what I can do.

After the marathon I’m running the Philly Half Marathon in November.  I definitely want to race it (and would love to PR) but I need to see how the marathon goes and how recovery goes.

But before all of that I’ll be running the Philly RnR in 2 weeks.  That kinda snuck up on me.  So I guess I’ll see where my speed is (or isn’t) very soon.

I guess what all of this means is that 2014 is my rebuilding year.  Exactly what I intended it to be and exactly how I’m training.  It may be a year without any PRs but my engine will be strong for 2015 – and ready for a PR.

Big Plans {revised}

In February I posted about my Big Plans for 2014 and then, 6 weeks later, posted about how running kinda sucks.  I have updates on both fronts…as I’m sure you are on the edge of your seat in anticiptation!

First let’s talk about running.  This is the good news.  It’s getting better…dare I say running seems to be clicking again?  Maybe it’s the weather and more outdoor running?  Maybe I needed to get that first race under my belt?  Maybe, structurally, I’m finally adapting to my new normal?  Whatever it is, I hope it sticks around.  My weekly mileage is still low – 25 to 30 mpw – and I intend to keep it there for at least  another month.  Lower mileage is giving me ample time for pre-hab (hips and glutes) and core work which is vital right now.

My big plan for this Fall was to run a 50 miler – specifically the JFK 50 miler – in November.  Training for an ultra, as opposed to training for a marathon PR, just made sense postpartum.  My body cannot handle the rigors of speed work and fast finish long runs this year.  Instead I crave long, slow miles…the building blocks for a strong 2015.  (Goals for 2015 include a marathon PR and Boston in 2016.)

Registration for JFK opened April 1st and I went back and forth about it.  I so wanted to do it but my gut kept telling me to run a 50K instead.  Since your gut is always right (always), I registered for the Blues Cruise 50K in October.  My primary reason for dropping to the 50K distance?  Motherhood is physically exhausting!  And I don’t mean in a sleep deprived way…I’m talking about hauling around almost 15 lbs (Fiona’s a good eater!) all day while bending, twisting, and kneeling.  By the end of the day, I’m beat up.

The back-to-back long runs needed for a 50 mile race would surely do me in on the weekends and it would require a lot of time away from Fiona (and family time).  I just don’t want that right now.  A 50K is much more manageable in terms of long runs and overall mileage and I already have experience with the distance and training for it.  And the race is an hour from my house and is supposed to be pretty good – a 31 mile loop around a lake that isn’t too technical (but hilly).

I’m excited.  And relieved.  There are lots of new “firsts” right now and I just don’t want training to be one of them.  I also have 3 half marathons scheduled for this year and my goal is to PR at the Philly Half in November.

First things first though – Broad Street on May 4th…

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RTLR Coaching is having a SALE on online coaching services now through April 21st!  Now is the time to start planning for your Fall race.  More details here.  

 

The LOVE Run Philly {Race Recap}

Last Sunday I ran Philly’s first ever LOVE Half Marathon.  CGI Racing put together a fantastic half – super organized with wonderful volunteers (who stood outside for hours in a freezing downpour).  If you like the Philly Half in November (my favorite race), then you’ll like the LOVE Run.  I’m so happy that Philly has another distance race in the Spring…something other than Broad Street.

This race was a lot of firsts for me:  first race postpartum, first race in a total downpour, and first race where I didn’t look at my Garmin (not one single time).  The weather was awful – freezing, windy, and nonstop rain.

My original plan was to make this a fun run, especially since postpartum running has been very blah lately.  Standing at the start, freezing and wet, all I kept thinking was the faster you run, the faster you get done.  Screw the fun run, I didn’t want to spend another minute in these conditions if I didn’t have to.

That’s when the strategy changed to let’s run HM effort and not look at the Garmin.  I love running by effort (although I rarely do it) – there’s no magic pace to hit, no pace charts to follow, just you and your breath.  And not looking at my Garmin was WAY easier than I thought…partially because it was under my windbreaker and I couldn’t see it anyway.

M1 – 8:51
M2 – 8:19
M3 – 8:51
M4 – 8:14
M5 – 8:20
M6 – 8:43
M7 – 8:19
M8 – 8:08
M9 – 8:52
M10 – 8:48
M11 – 8:41
M12 – 8:45
M13 – 8:36

Official time:  1:53:07 (8:38 pace)

Not the most consistent pacing and the wheels came off a bit towards the end but that’s to be expected after a year plus of not racing.  I was in total shock when I crossed the finish line and looked at my watch.  I was hoping for a (barely) sub-2:00 finish time.  If I were eyeing my Garmin I would have freaked out about my pace during the middle miles (what are you doing?  You have no business running that fast!).  Not looking at my Garmin was the best thing I did that day.  And also having absolutely no expectations helps tremendously.

Thanks to Oiselle teammate Danielle for keeping me company for a few miles.  It definitely took my mind off the misery of the weather.

Race photos: me, my sister, and sister-in-law pre-race (and rain) and post-race awkward selfie.

love run

 

 

 

2nd trimester running recap

Farewell, 2nd trimester!  On Wednesday I’ll be 27 weeks and beginning my 3rd trimester, according to my Sprout app.  Whether this happens at week 27 or 28 – I don’t know – but I like the sound of it so I’m sticking to it.

I know I sound like a broken record but I still feel pretty damn good.  Aside from having a gut that won’t go away and grows after each meal, I still feel like “me”.  Although I must admit, over the past 2 weeks, I get pretty cranky from 3-5PM.  I’m exhausted from carrying around the excess weight and just want to lay down.  After dinner I generally feel better so maybe I just need a snack?  Why do I feel like a toddler?!

Running during the 2nd trimester was pretty consistent, with the exception of a few days of extreme humidity, where I just bagged the run all together.  I decreased my overall mileage to 30-35 miles per week, compared to 35-40 miles per week in the 1st trimester.  My long runs stayed in the 10-13 mile range.  And I completed (pregnant) half marathon #2!

The 2nd trimester also brought some so-called “shin tension” while running.  I really can’t describe it any other way.  My compression sleeves helped a bit but my legs have to continually adapt to the increased weight.  Even more so now that my weight gain will be more rapid (awesome!).  I’m super vigilant about recognizing any shin tension, taking extra rest days, using the Tiger Tail, and icing.

Now that it’s cooler out my running wardrobe is limited.  All my tanks and shorts fit fine but my race Ts are a bit snug.  My weeks of wearing them (decently) are numbered.

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Instead of buying new ones, I decided to take advantage of Matt’s Ts (some of which were originally mine but too big).  Since Matt is “retired” from running, he shouldn’t miss them.

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This morning I ran an impromptu 5K!  Might as well leave the 2nd trimester on a high note.  My goal was to give it a solid effort and beat my PW of 28:22 way (way) back when I was 25.  That was my first 5K ever – on University of Maryland’s hilly campus.  That race is probably why I still hate 5Ks to this day.

Anyway, I didn’t think it would be that hard to beat – it would be close – but feasible.  What I didn’t expect was for my legs to feel like bricks after mile 1.  I felt like I was at mile 24 of a marathon…where your brain and lungs are saying “go, go, go” and your legs are uncooperative.  My breathing was fine, my stomach wasn’t “in the way” or bothering me but I just couldn’t move my legs any faster.  I did run 6 miles on Friday and 8 on Saturday but I really think it was just all the added weight and increased “speed”.

I finished in 28:44 – 9:16 average pace.  And now my legs are sore.  Who knew 17 lbs (and counting) could cause such havoc?

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Looking ahead to the 3rd trimester, I think my motto is going to be “grateful for each day that I can run”.  I will cut myself some slack on my miles per week mandate and just be happy running 25(ish) miles per week.

I decided (after MUCH debating back and forth) to drop out of the Philly Half Marathon and instead do the Rothman 8K in November.  I’ll be 8 1/2 months by then and I need to be realistic.  Even with using a run/walk approach, 13 miles is too far with all this added weight.  Today’s race confirmed that!

 

 

 

 

 

a good year

Happy New Year, folks!

I am thoroughly enjoying my time off and perfecting my “lady who lunches” routine.  Next Wednesday is going to be cruel and painful.

First things first – RTLR turned 2 this week!  For those of you who have been reading from the beginning – (1) kudos, (2) thank you, and (3) you deserve a tall cup of coffee or a stiff drink (your choice).

I wouldn’t be a proper blogger if I didn’t reflect back on 2012 (in terms of running, of course).  If I could sum it up in one word?  WOW.

What could be better than kicking off the year with the Boston Marathon?!   90 degrees or not, it was an amazing ‘experience’ (due to the heat, the B.A.A. refused to call it a race but instead an ‘experience’).

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this picture says it all…

My Christmas ornament from Matt this year…

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After Boston, I ran my first “ultra” (50K) and discovered that running on grass isn’t as fun as it was when you were a kid.  But…ultras ARE fun!

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After that came a 5K, 2 HMs, and the Rehoboth Beach Marathon – all PRs (thank you, ultra training).  Some were surprise PRs and others (err, RBM) were I-could-have-done-better-PRs.

I also learned some things along the way:  (1) when in a rut, run an ultra and (2) drop waaay back on mileage during drop back weeks.  In the past I don’t think I was cutting my mileage back enough to really absorb the benefits of my training.

Your turn to brag!  Tell me about your best (or favorite) 2012 race or maybe something you learned about running in 2012?

Philly Half Recap

There’s no half (in my biased opinion) that can top Philly. I love this race. Philly does a fine job of putting on a fun and organized race, all the while maintaining a mom-and-pop-like feel (similar to the old Philly Distance Run days – oh, how I miss you). And the 4-deep spectators along Chestnut Street don’t hurt either.

Based on my 12K finish last week I figured I could maintain a 7:40-7:45 pace. But I also wanted to feel things out a bit too. Settle into whatever pace felt comfortable on that day and go from there.

It was freezing at the start. As soon as I checked my jacket and pants my whole body was trembling. I totally forgot to bring a trash bag (it really does keep you warm!).

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my sister showing mile 26 some love pre-race

The first mile was a little rough since my feet were numb and my muscles were tight from being so cold. Soon enough I settled into a pace that felt like HM pace. When I glanced at my Garmin I was around 7:45 pace. Perfect.

The middle miles were pretty uneventful. I enjoyed the crowds and kept my mind occupied by reading the signs. There’s an incline (can’t really call it a hill) around mile 7-8 and a legitimate hill right past the mile 9 marker. That’s it though. Contrary to what people say the Philly Half (and full – I ran it in 2008) is a flat course!

Around mile 10 I started doing the math. 3 more miles at x pace and maybe you can snag a 1:41. Holy shit! Could I really? I started repeating my favorite mantra. You can do anything for 3 miles. Repeat again at mile 11. You can do anything for 2 miles.

The finish line at the Philly Half is deceptive.  You must go all the way around Eakins Oval and then down the Parkway a bit to even see the finish line. I forget this each year.

I headed down the Parkway – I still couldn’t see the finish line yet – and my Garmin said 1:41. I had no idea how close to 1:42 I was (after the 1-hour mark I don’t see seconds on my Garmin). I started sprinting – there was no way I was going to let 1:41 turn into 1:42.

1:41:54.

A 4-minute PR from September.

A 6-minute PR from last year’s Philly Half.

Splits
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almost all 7s…that’s a first

After the race I did a quick wardrobe change and coffee run and headed back down to spectate. I got to see strong finishes by Megan and Kelly (nice job ladies!) and watch my sister kill her marathon time from March by 20 minutes. Congrats Karyn!!

Completely unrelated but check out this great interview with Kara Goucher.  Ultramarathoner?!

 

 

WHYY 12K Recap

I ran this race last year and proclaimed “never again”.  The distance (7.45 miles) is strange and I end up running 10K pace and just feel miserable for the last mile.  For some reason I ended up registering again…maybe to get some redemption?

I had 2 goals going into Saturday’s race:

1.  Not race it.  Instead I would use the race as a fast finish long run.  A 13-mile warm up and then a 12K where I would keep the pace moderate.

2.  Beat my time last year – even though I wasn’t racing it.  Given my shitty performance last year (7:59 average pace), it shouldn’t be too hard.

I got up at the crack of dawn on Saturday and was running around Kelly Drive by 6:30AM.  13 nice and easy miles.

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I love Philly

I finished up run #1 around 8:30 and had a 1/2 hour to change out of my cold, sweaty clothes, eat some Shot Bloks, sit in my car and blast the heat, and then head over to the race.  I felt good.

The course is a simple out-and-back along Martin Luther King  Drive.  The weather was perfect.  I kept my pace nice and controlled during the first mile.  When I glanced at my Garmin it read 7:45 pace.  Hmm.

I maintained 7:45 pace until the turnaround (mile 17).  Then I got this incredible rush of endorphins.  I loved everyone and everything.  I dropped my pace slightly.

I saw Ann around mile 18 and got another little burst of energy (Hi Ann!).  I kept pushing onward.  I couldn’t believe how fresh my legs felt.  If only this were a marathon.

I crossed the finish line in 57:15 (7:41 average pace).  A 2+ minute PR from last year, even with a 13-mile warm up.

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Overall – 38/374
Female – 8/223
AG – 4/51

I cannot wait for the Philly HM next weekend!

Ever get an endorphin rush and love everyone and everything?  It’s like being a happy drunk. 

Beautiful Weekend

The weather in Philly was gorgeous this weekend.

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Perfect running weather.  Although I didn’t run a single step.

We went out both Friday and Saturday night and I had brunch with friends on Sunday morning.  Late nights, drinks, and long runs do not mix well at my age.  A constant reminder why a social life is best saved for the off season.

I say this often but it is worth repeating.  When your body is screaming for rest, it’s best to listen.  When I wake up and have no desire to run, I know it’s time to stay in bed and sleep.  And so I did.  Saturday and Sunday.  Until 10:00AM.  I think the last time I slept that late was college.

Not running long does have its perks.  It’s nice to lounge in bed, wake up slowly, have breakfast, watch TV, and not be tired by 12PM.  Your legs aren’t sore, they don’t crack and pop going down the stairs, you’re not wearing compression sleeves, not peeing every 1/2 hour, and don’t eat everything in sight.

It’s nice for a weekendOnly a weekend.

We spent most of Saturday outside at the dog park.  Hawk enjoyed himself.

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What’s the biggest perk to NOT running long on the weekend (on the rare occasion you don’t do a long run)?  I would have to say it’s the sleeping in without an alarm and having a leisurely morning. 

no speed work, no problem

Balls to the wall.

I decided that would be my mantra late last week.  Since the Philly RnR was not my goal HM this Fall (the Philly HM is), why not go balls to the wall and put it all out there?  The worst that could happen is I blow up during mile 10 and have a miserable race.  I’m so conservative sometimes, I just wanted to run like a lunatic and ignore my gut telling me to slow down.

So that’s exactly what I did.  I wanted a 1:45 finish time (8:00 average pace) so I went – balls to the wall – out at 8:00 pace at mile 1.

Splits:
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Official time:  1:45:12

That’s a 2-minute PR from last November!

At mile 10 I realized I could make 1:45 if I sped up a bit.  I could not get over how good I felt.  I haven’t done speed work since May – could this really be from ultra training?  Absolutely.

A runner’s speed is limited by their aerobic capacity.  But after 10 marathons over 8 years, I didn’t think I could further improve my endurance (significantly improve, at least).  Endurance was always my strong suit while speed was my Achilles heel.

That’s a small reason why I wanted to train for an ultra.  If my aerobic capacity could be improved, ultra training would do it.  And if my aerobic capacity improved, I may be able to run faster – despite doing no speed work.

So my ultra training turned into a little side experiment for me – with excellent results!  The weather was also a factor in my performance today as was my no expectations mentality.

But on to better things…

Today my niece (she’s only 17!) and my sister-in-law became half marathoners!

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Congrats girls – I am so proud of you!  Enjoy the post-race high…you earned it!

Fear

The last time I ran under 9:00 pace was May.

Next weekend I’m running the Philly RnR Half and I don’t want to go into the race blindly and not know where I stand with my speed.

This past Spring (and many years before it) I was solely focused on speed.  Then I switched gears entirely to train for a 50K.  Going from fast running to slow running was easy, although I must admit my pride took a hit (and let’s keep in mind “fast” is a relative term here).  But going from slow running back to fast running is frightening.  I knew I had to make a date with fear this week to assess my speed – and I was scared to death.

I often read about ultra runners PRing in marathons done as training runs.  These PRs are somewhat unexpected, as they focus little (or none) on speed work during ultra training.  But the sheer volume of their training and the adaptions that come with LSD running enable these PRs.  Also, since these marathons are merely a preparation for their ultra, they go into the race with little expectation.  It’s just another training run to them so there is no pressure.

I am hoping I can reap the benefits of a summer spent slogging through mile after mile next Sunday.  Do I think I’m in PR shape?  No, but I hope to come close.

My half marathon PR is nothing to write home about – 1:47 at last year’s Philly HM.  Given where I was speed-wise last Fall it should be closer to 1:45 or below.

OK, back to my date with fear (which kept getting delayed this week because of the humidity).  The workout was 8 miles with 6 miles “fast”.  I wanted to run between 8:00-8:20 pace and assess how this felt.  Not entirely scientific (I should have worn my HR monitor) but good enough.

The 6 “fast” miles:    8:14, 8:20, 8:19, 8:08, 8:13, 8:03.

I’m happy I was able to run the last 3 faster than the first 3.  Do I think I could keep this up for another 6+ miles?  Probably not.  My turnover felt awkward but that’s to be expected after a summer of slow running.

I got over the fear, I ripped off the Band-Aid…speed work is making a come back.  I’m going to see how things go at RnR…no pressure, just enjoy the race.

I still have the Philly HM in November and that will be my goal race.