Sorry it's been a while!

Yeah for vacations. Ours was great -- very relaxing. We spent a lot of it at the cabin in northern Wisconsin. We were away from the internet, the TV didn't work well, and away from work, housework, and everything else I typically busy life with. It was exactly what I needed :).

It also revitalized my training. During the beginning of the trip we backpacked, which didn't lend itself to running (much less running 85-90 miles/week). I really, really missed being able to run! I realized how much I love pushing the envelope, following a training plan, tearing myself down and then allowing myself to rest (and how great you feel after you do that!). I told my husband during one of the hikes that I know I'm going to go through a major withdrawal period after this training is over with. Right now it's such a big part of my life, and I love that. After the marathon, I've told myself that I need to take two weeks COMPLETELY off (hold me to it!!). Can you imagine?

Anyway, the second half of the trip was full of fun training time, minus a slight twinge in my quad toward the end of the week. On Tuesday I did 800 meter repeats and was able to post them all under 2:44. That's encouraging. Many of them were 2:42 and the last one was in 2:39. That's a VERY encouraging workout. I can tell that I'm strong and really fit. Just 2-3 weeks ago I was running 800s between 2:45-2:52 (and working very hard to do so). Tuesday afternoon I did an easy 5 mile as a second workout and that's when I felt that twinge in my quad. It wasn't anything big, but I did make sure to massage that spot after the run.

Wednesday was my typical 15 mile run. My legs felt GREAT, actually. Weird! I had just done 15 miles total yesterday, with hard 800s in that. They were probably feeling the "rest" of not running during our backpacking. I averaged 7:27s (WOW!!!) for 14.2 miles, but had to stop about 3-4 times to stretch out that quad. At 14 miles I could feel that the leg was losing power -- if you've ever had this while running, you know what I'm trying to describe -- so I just called it a night. I'm a little concerned...

Fast forward to this weekend. I ran on Sunday for the first time, 6 miles nice and easy. My leg didn't flare up, great!! Monday I did a 5 mile threshold run, and my IT band is pretty tender now. Weird how it moved from the quad muscle to the IT band... but at least I know how to treat the IT band. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, I can't get injured at this point in my training!

Injuries are always a concern when training at this volume. You have to push the limit to find out what you can accomplish, but because of that, you're always riding the verge of injury.

P.S. During vacation I was changing my shirt at our car so I took off my Garmin, sunglasses, and hat and put them on top of the car while I switched. You can imagine what happened -- I totally forgot about them until we heard something on the roof and Nate looked back and said, "Hmmm.... there goes a Garmin!". Nothing was completely broken or run over, but now the lap button on my Garmin doesn't work. It's OK for normal training (just much more math), but it's not "raceable" anymore and I can't do repeats anymore with it. Noooooo!! It's my favorite thing (and not inexpensive!), so I'm very sad that I was careless and broke it :(. I think I'm going to break down and get another... but the question is: get the Forerunner again, or opt for the 310XT (the newest one)?? If anyone has any insights, I'd really appreciate it.


Nothing a little vacation can't cure

I'm a little burned out, not going to lie. This week I didn't have that same "let's tackle that workout plan" attitude. In fact, during my run last night (2nd for the day) I stopped mid-run, put my hands to my head, and told my husband that I really just wanted to quit. I had a hard time getting myself out the door that night as well.

I hate this feeling. I also hate knowing that I can't really allow myself to get too lax with my training -- I need to follow up last week's 100 with another 3 weeks of 80-90 mile weeks. These are the most important weeks of the entire cycle.

I'm hoping that getting away on vacation will help. I'm leaving tomorrow for a week up on the North shore and at the cabin. It should be filled with a lot of hiking, running, and skiing (bringing the rollerskis). Hopefully the change in scenery will help rejuvinate me!!


Still healing

All this running takes a toll on your body! I think Sunday's run in the rain/wet socks is what really did me in.

I chaffed on the inside of my thighs (hate it when that happens) and my feet blistered up pretty bad. Since that run, I've had to tape up my feet and thighs before I can run. It's a pretty funny sight to watch me prepare for a run :). The leg chaffing was actually pretty bad this time, but covering it with athletic tape seemed to work.

Most of the blisters went away within a day or so, but there was one that got progressively worse. I woke up Tuesday morning and hobbled around the house. It throbbed & was a reddish purple color. Great, just what I need: I'm injury free after all of this training, but an infected blister might keep me from running. I've never had an infected blister before, it's actually pretty gross looking. Lesson to myself and anyone reading: if you ever pop a blister (I know you're not supposed to, but I just can't help doing it), cover it and put an antibiotic on it!

One of the joys of training a lot! :)


I did it!!!

Me at the end of my 100 mile week. YEAH, I made it! And I'm still in one piece!! I did a 5.25 mile run at night on Sunday just so I could reach it... silly, I know, but I just really, really wanted to hit that goal. Now I can always say I've done it (and survived it!). I wanted to take pictures right after that run to commemorate the ending of the week, so that's why they're sweaty and not so attractive :)

I'm surprised by how well my legs took it. I actually felt pretty good picking it up at the end of my long run on Sunday, which was the end of this 100 mile week. It's amazing how well your body adapts. Downsides to the mileage? The whole "laundry" chore is a big pain when you're working out a lot. Where's a clean pair of shorts or sports bra? Gaaak, they're all dirty. The other downside is sleepiness. Other than that, though, I have to say... it's just so cool to be able to say that I've been able to handle this volume. Great accomplishment!! Now... just have to keep the volume fairly high for the next month. Hope my body can take it!!

Special thanks to Nate. With the time that this mileage takes, I really rely on him to help w/ a lot around the house. I also really appreciate him running with me, working around my workouts, etc. He's super supportive and understanding. I can't imagine being married to a non-runner/non-athlete. It's make training a LOT tougher.


Great long run!

Today I met up with Jenny, my training partner from Fargo, and Kim Pawelek, the 1999 Twin Cities Marathon champion. Kim's sister lives in the cities, and Jenny is friends with Kim's sister -- so Jenny gave me a call and asked if I'd be interested in doing a long run with her. Of course! What a great opportunity.

I met them at 6:30 this morning over at Lake Elmo. That meant only 4 hours of sleep (oops! Nate and I went to a movie and it ended up taking a lot longer than I anticipated...). At 6:30 the rain is just starting to let up, which is really nice. Nate drops me off and he head over to Afton to start his OD ski. I head over to the trailhead and start my run!

We run about 14 miles together. Kim isn't training for anything in particular and just wanted a medium long run. Even thought she's no longer racing full time professionally, but is still wicked fast... last year she decided to hop into Boston at the last minute and without any training ran a 2:52. How fun would that talent be!! Her first marathon she ran a 2:41 (WOW). She ran a 2:37 at Twin Cities in 1999 and I think that's her PR at the distance. She's a 1:12 1/2 marathoner (which is really impressive!)

We ran on trails the entire time which was a lot of fun. The only downside was running through the mud and wet long grass. There were a few really slippery spots. Plus, my socks are just soaked now, which is never fun. I didn't realize how bad of an idea that is (wet socks) for a long run until I started off alone on the roads. Ouch!! My feet are really, really blistered up.

Kim was super interesting. So many stories! She has a very strong "tell it like it is" personality, very spunky, and you can tell she's super competitive still even though she's 37 and no longer competing on a regular basis. We talked about her family, her running, and asked a few questions about our personal training. A few of the tidbits that stick out for me were her thoughts on mileage and intensity. Her typical routine is to do 3 weeks high (mileage/intensity) and 1 week low. The low week is just as important as the high weeks. She'll work up to 4-6 weeks high during her most serious training blocks. During high mileage weeks she's really careful with her intensity. Running fast and hard on tired legs makes you really susceptible to injury, so she typically has a higher goal time target for these. They're still hard, but she doesn't take the times as seriously. If she can hit these times, great. If she can get below them, it's gravy, but she will never put pressure on herself to do so. Her mileage during the high mileage blocks is now around 100 miles a week. During her peak, she'd sometimes hit 120, but usually stayed at 90-110.

One of the most important thing for her to feel about a month away from the marathon is that "everything is going well, I can easily hit my workout times" feeling. Sometimes that'll never come, and that's fine. But if she can tweek her training to get herself at that level, she will (she said it's just something she can "feel" deep down) -- and that's when she knows she'll have a good race.

She also explained how important tactics are to her racing. At her level, she's not trying to hit specific times anymore. Instead, she's racing to win or get some prize $$. Her training is still centered around a specific time, but the day of the race she throws that out the window and races on feel and how others around her are doing. Interesting perspective. Even on races where I think I have a chance to win, I still am very "time" oriented. She said racing for time is more stressful and takes energy away from your race. Should I change my mentality??

My last observation will be on weight -- WOW, did I feel HUGE next to her and my training partner. Kim is probably 5'0 or 5'1 and weighs maybe 85-90 pounds? She's just TINY. She's healthy, just build very small. Plus, there's just no fat on her whatsoever. Guess that's a part of being one of the US's best marathoners :). Jenny has also lost a bit of weight. She's training for an Iron Man and has been training between 22-24 hours/week this last month. She didn't have anything extra on her back in May when we raced Fargo together, but she's managed to work a little more of that off. Anyway, it reminded me that I should probably watch my weight a little more if I want to be a really competitive marathoner. I know I carry around a lot more than my competitors, and if I could work on that, I could have a pretty sizeable advantage.

So, a very interesting run!!! What an opportunity. I wish I would have brought a camera. After Kim and Jenny peeled off (Kim did 16, Jenny did 18), I started off on my run to Afton to meet Nate and the other skiers. Here's where I realized how much my feet HURT. I'd grimace every time I had to run around a curve; the different movement in my shoes wasn't fun. I made it to 22 miles, and then picked it up to marathon pace. It actually felt great! From 20-22 miles I started to feel fatigue in my butt and hamstrings (hate that feeling), so wasn't excited to pick it up. Once I did, though, my legs actually felt better. The first marathon pace mile was EASY!! Yeah!! 6:38. The next mile I had to work a little harder, but still was pretty easy. 6:36 (MP is 6:40 so I was letting myself go a little harder...). What a confidence booster, I hadn't had a workout where MP was feeling good/easy. And it came on my 24 mile run at the end of my 100 mile week. Yeah!!!

Interview with Kim:
She actually talked a lot about these same topics during the run!


Almost... but not quite??

I apologize for not writing more during the week! This week has been absolutely insane.

How has the "100 mile/week" plan been going? Actually, pretty well, except for tonight. I'm really disciplined about making sure I have time for my run/runs. Here's a run down of my week so far:

Monday: 6 miles AM, 6 miles PM
Tuesday: 10 miles AM (legs felt great!! They could tell that yesterday was a "recovery" day, so I let myself go a little and averaged about 7:30s for the last half of the run). Then 10 striders afterwards. 6 miles PM.
Wednesday: 15 miles. I'm struggling to concentrate during the work day. Not good. I'm sooo tired (the I can't concentrate type of tired). That's the one side effect of training volume that I could really do without. Guess it would help if I actually slept a decent amount during the week... Anyway, I finished the 15 miler at 11:10 at night. It's just been so hot! I can't get in a 2 hour run during the day at work, so I have to do it after work. Problem is that it's so hot/humid that I don't want to start until after 8 or 8:30... which means I'm finishing really, really late. Didn't sleep much Wednesday night :) Not good.
Thursday: 6 miles AM, 6 miles PM. Even though this is still 12 miles, I felt like I had a lot of extra time in my day!!! Whoot, whoot!! How exciting!
Friday: Wow, am I beat. I allowed myself to sleep in an extra 2 hours this morning (was going to do my workout in the AM, which would have been smart since today will be 90+ degrees) because I'm absolutely exhausted. I'm still not 100% awake/alert, even with that. Hmmm... Anyway, today's my hard workout. I begin around 7:30 pm, but it's still 85 degrees and humid out. My legs feel really tired too. Great. I'm supposed to do a 3 mile warm up, 7 miles at tempo, 3 miles cool down. I quickly find out that my legs and head aren't into this. I did 4 miles (averaging 6:31) and then stopped and called it quits for the evening. I'm working WAAAY too hard to hit these times (HR was 203 at end of last mile), which isn't a good sign. Plus, I'm just mentally struggling to get myself to get into this workout. I know fighting through workouts like this leads to burnout (at least for me), and I still have 8 weeks of hard training to put in. I decide that it's better to end early and be happy with the work I've done (which is still a good workout! 4 months ago I would have been very happy with a 4 mile tempo).

But now that I'm home, recovered, I'm thinking to myself... I still really, really, really want to hit that 100 mile goal. I'm now 5 miles short... should I do an extra 5 miles on Saturday or Sunday just to hit that target? I know 100 is just an arbitrary number, but it's such a nice, round, arbitrary number. I honestly think that during the marathon when I'm hurting, I'll think to myself, "remember when you did that 100 mile week? You can fight through this". Plus, I'd just really like to say I've hit that milestone :)

Plan for Saturday: 8 miles easy recovery
Plan for Sunday: 24 miles, longest of the entire training plan!!! (Might add the 5 miles in the PM. I thought about adding them to Saturday, but I think there's a lot of benefit in having a day to really recover)

That's all for tonight -- I'm off to bed for some much needed rest!!!!


Holy Humidity

I've been pretty lucky this summer with weather. I think this is the first weekend that has made for difficult training.

Today’s workout was brutal. 20 miles with 10 at marathon pace. The first 10 were great – 7:45-8:00 pace is nice!!. I picked up Lis, one of the skiers that was having boot trouble so she switched into running shoes. We ran the next 3 miles together easy. Actually the first two were easy. The next mile was up the coolie hill, which is pretty challenging. My HR at the top was 190, with the last mile run in 8:32. Hmmm… probably should have gone slower uphill since I had to start my marathon pace miles at the top of that hill.

And we’re off for the second 10 miles. I can tell from the start that this isn’t going to be easy. Lis runs three miles with me and turns back for home (lucky!!). I continue on, chasing the skiers. I’m so grateful to be able to run alongside them. Today they were ahead of me more than usual (were they going faster or was I going slower?), but in general when I have something long and sustained to do, they’re the best training partners :). At 6 miles, I’m starting to hurt. I’m dehydrated (should have run with water. Dave scolded me at the beginning of the run and he was right). Luckily Nate skis back to me every couple miles or so and gives me some of his. I’m really fortunate!! At 7.5 miles I stop and walk up one of the steep hills in Afton. My legs are shot. And mentally, I let myself go for a second. Looking back, I always beat myself up over these “weak” moments. At 8.25 miles, Nate skis back to me with a filled water bottle (with water now, not Gatorade). Hallelujah! I dump some over my head for the first time during the run. What a difference that makes.

Turns out, the Diggins have a pit stop set up for their high school ski team. All of the skiers (including me) stop to grab a drink and some fruit/nuts/etc. I can’t tell you how HAPPY I was to see this. I may have been a little delusional at this point, I’m not sure. I don’t think most people are as happy to see things like this as I was. I told Deb she should start a collection – I’d definitely donate. I’m sure the other skiers would as well.

Now I have 1.25 miles to go. I get my “game face” on and am determined to make these last minutes on foot really count. So, I take off again and basically push myself all out to the end. My last mile was ½ mile downhill (averaging 6:24) and ½ mile on flats (averaging 6:10).

So, workout done. Not great, but at least it’s done. I’m trying to tell myself that I can’t expect to feel great on days like this (given the high mileage week, the weather, etc), but inside I really wish I could have nailed this workout. It would have been a really good confidence booster. Guess there’s always a second chance… next long run w/ marathon pace = 3 weeks away :).


Muddy Run

I knew that I had two workouts today, one 4 mile run and another 11 mile run. I woke up this AM and turn on my computer (yeah, working from home!) and begin to get some stuff done. It's raining outside... ug. I'm hoping it'll stop in time for the morning run.

I know that I have to be at Finn Sisu at 12:30 (I only have to put in a 1/2 day at work on Fridays) -- there's a TON to do with their inventory system. So, when I look at the clock at 11, I know I HAVE to get outside for a run. Except it's not just raining outside anymore, it's POURING. Boo! That's the worst, trying to motivate yourself to start running when it's raining out.

But, I get myself out the door. By 2 miles, I am completely drenched. It's raining sheets! At 3 miles, I have to cross the road they've torn up (yeah construction). I hop from the grass into their construction site, and YIKES! It's not a hard pile of dirt, it's a sink-you-up-to-mid-calf mud hole!!! I try to leap/run across as fast as possible. Except you can't move too quickly when your shoes sink inches and are suctioned downwards with every step. For some reason whenever I'm running through mud like this, I always throw my arms up or out. So imagine me, trying to do a high-knees survival type sprint through a mud hole with arms outstretched (and I'm sure a look of slight panic). Must have looked fairly amusing, I got two honks from the cars that were passing :).

Oh, entertaining. Now, I'm suiting up for my second run. Hoping to stay a little drier/cleaner :).


8 weeks to go!

There are 8 weeks and a couple days left to TCM. It's crazy how fast time goes by! I can tell I'm stronger for this cycle, this week will be my second 80 mile week of this cycle (vs. only one during the entire cycle for Fargo). I've held up pretty good, but training at this volume takes up most of my free time. Good thing I enjoy it :).

Just as a recap, here's what this week looked like:
M: off (gave myself another day off after the 1/2 marathon so I could make sure to hit this week and next week hard)
T: AM: 10 miles total, with 6x800 hard. This was my first VO2 max workout. I'm glad to start this block of training (fast repeats) -- the base building cycle made me strong, but hasn't exactly made me "fast". PM: 4 miles easy. Total for the day: 14 miles.
Wed: 15 miles at 7:41 pace.
Thursday: AM: 8 miles with 4 striders. PM: Vakava skate rollerski (I'm going to try to take it a little easier there?)
Friday: AM: 4 miles. PM: 11 miles, lift. I haven't done enough strength work. I'm excited to hit the gym Friday night. I'm such a nerd... most people my age are out celebrating the end of a work week, I'm running and lifting :).
Saturday: 5 miles. That's it!!! YEAH!! I'll actually have some time to myself!!
Sunday: 20-21 miles with 10 at the end at Marathon Pace (6:40). This will be a really tough workout. I'm going to try to do it with the skiers, unless there's someone else that wants to run it with me? Please let me know!! I appreciate training partners (for all or part, it doesn't matter)!

Fun week, eh? But wait, it can only get better: next week (drum roll, please): 100 MILES. My highest week ever. We'll see how this goes...


Red Wing City Ramble - 1/2 marathon

A lot of my family came down for the 1/2 marathon in Red Wing this weekend. I had signed up a while ago because it was an event my work was sponsoring (and thus, signed up my husband, who always appreciates being signed up for long running races). My brother also came down, bringing a friend, and my cousin (who is 16) came down to run with my aunt and uncle to cheer. Fun family event!!

It's a nice cool morning, which suits me well. I do a little warm up, and realize that my legs aren't feeling really springy (the sign of a good race). Bummer. I was hoping they'd respond to a lower mileage week. They don't feel bad, just not great. I get to talk to my bro, friend, and cousin before the race. My cousin is incredibly nervous. It's his first 1/2 marathon, and he's only run 9 miles before :).

The announcer states that in addition to the advertised prizes (trail shoes and red wing pottery), a local Red Wing resident is donating a week's stay at his resort in Mexico for the men's and women's winner of the 1/2 marathon. What??!! Sweet!!

The gun goes off, and I start conservatively. Nate is next to me for the first 1/2 mile until I tell him we're running 6:30/mile pace. I continue to hold the 6:30/6:28 pace. It's a whole lot HARDER than it should be, though. Mentally, I let myself ease up a little. I know I'm the first female (I'm after that resort stay!), and I convinced myself that's all that mattered. At the half way point I turn around (out and back run) and see Nate. Right ahead of him is another girl who looks pretty strong. I know that I'm at least a couple minutes ahead of her, though, so I'm pretty happy.

The second half is mostly downhill. It's actually a really nice course -- flat, slightly uphill for the first half, slightly downhill for the second half. It makes for the chance for some quick times. My miles are now around 6:26/6:28. That's better, but I still feel really flat. Ug. I can't wait to get this race over with, I tell myself. Plus, in my mind I'm thinking: I've felt really flat in two races in two weeks. I haven't done well in either (10K last weekend in 38:30, which is 2:00 off my college times). Is my training really working? I think to myself that it's just making me slow... and then I think to myself that this 6:26-6:30 pace will only get me to the finish in 1:25. Yes, that's relatively quick by most people's standards... but even if I were to run TWO of these 1/2 marathons back to back at this pace, I'd still be 3 MINUTES off of the Olympic Trials time. In the back of my mind, I'd been telling myself that the Trials was my ultimate long-term goal. I sort of decided during this race that I just don't think it's possible, I'd have to be SOO much faster in order to make that happen :(.

Who thinks this much during a race?? I normally don't, and I don't recommend it (thoughts during races are never very positive). But, I didn't have anything else to think about, since I'm running completely alone. At about 3.5 miles to go we go down a bridge and you have a chance to look behind you. That chic in the green sports bra is actually really close now! What?? I start to focus more. I want this resort stay a LOT (it's not something I'd ever splurge on, but it'd be so much fun to have a relaxing vacation next to the carribean sea!!), so I'm going to make ever effort to make sure I'm number 1.

Except, she passes me with 2 miles to go. And it's not like I typically get passed, where they're just going a few seconds per mile faster and you can latch on to them. She BLOWS by me. I didn't even have time to react. The next thing I knew, she was 30+ seconds ahead of me (and this is just in one mile). I'm not going slow by any means either -- I think that mile was in 6:24 or so. The last mile I think I see her falling back a little (I'm probably just hoping for this at this point). So, I decide to go for broke. How fast can I make these dead legs go? Not very fast -- 6:15 pace for the last mile. And she definitely wasn't falling back. I think she put another 20-30 seconds on me. Nooooo!

I finished in 1:24.29. The woman that passed me finished in 1:23.36. WOW. She put almost a minute on me in those last 2 miles, and I wasn't running slowly at that point. I talked to Nate afterwards and he said that he ran by her until at leat the 7 mile mark. I don't think she started racing until the last 4-5 miles. Incredible.

I'm bummed because I didn't have a really quick 1/2 marathon like I was hoping. It's my 2nd fastest, but I was hoping to be able to set a PB. Oh well. I just have to trust in my training, hope that the base mileage will really benefit me in the long run. Is it working thought? I do doubt it in the back of my mind...

My family and I wait for awards. They call up the winners and they recieve a pretty cool jug & their certificates for their vacations. The guy winner comes back up. Apparently he can't take it because he runs in college & it's against NCAA rules to accept something this valuable. Instead of giving it to his mom (she talked to me afterwards and was really sad her son didn't gift it to her), he gave it to the second place male. Then, I see the women's winner running up: she too runs D2 in college and can't accept it. !!!!!! They call me up to accept it. I couldn't be happier!! I think it was almost better to have lost it and then to have re-won it :). Honestly, I'm beaming now, just writing about the winning/award. How generous to give it to the next in line. The two winners were first class, no doubt.

I went over to thank the winner (Morgan Place) afterwards & took my picture with her. No doubt, she'll do really well next year as a sophomore at UMD. I'll have fun cheering her on!!

I'm still in awe... winning a resort stay?? That's amazing!!!

Tonight I looked up Morgan's NCAA results and turns out she placed 7th at NCAAs in D2 as a freshman. That's incredible!! I suddenly don't feel as bad, getting smoked by her :)