First 2 weeks back

The last two weeks have been down weeks for me.  I'm getting back into the swing of things after Grandma's.  Jerry wrote just a few miles the week after the marathon (35 or so?) It was the first time I've ever done anything the week after - and it felt great!  I did 4 miles on Monday after the race which really helped work out the lactate.  I wasn't sore at all after that run (although, I wasn't really too sore right after the marathon, surprisingly).  I was just "slower" - not sure if that's typical.  My easy runs were around 8:20 or so, getting a little quicker as the week progressed.

This week is planned at 70 which I'll hit without a problem. 70 now seems like a walk in the park, which is nice.  Mileage will be a focus during the next cycle.  I honestly feel like that will be a huge break-though for me.  I hit 105/week for the first time this cycle and felt as good as I've ever felt.  I felt like I could run forever, I was more efficient/stronger than ever before (and ended that week with a 1:19 1/2 marathon done at marathon pace that felt great!)... there was just this feeling of "this is good".  It could mean that mileage is a good thing for me, or it could mean that 100-105 is my "sweet spot" -- only one way to find out.  We'll see what Jerry has to say, though :)

I've sent Jerry a few thoughts on the next cycle.  Funny story.  I went for a noon run one day this week, thinking about the training plan Jerry had written for NYC.  It included the move to the elite plan (Daniel's), challenges with pace, and increasing mileage.  He had sent it to me the evening before, and for some reason I wasn't fully on board.  I thought about it during the run... it came to me.  This was suspiciously like my Trials training, where we had attempted to increase 3 things: mileage, pace, and training plan.  I had felt so slow and run down that cycle (and end up injuring my achilles) - it wasn't good.  Ah-ha!  So, I thought to myself:  Are there 2 things you can change with this cycle?  If so, what are they?  My thoughts landed on mileage and pace (keeping training plan the same - Daniels A).  I gave my thoughts to Jerry... again, we'll see what he says.  Perhaps he'll argue that mileage needs to be capped and we'll focus on pace and the move to the Elite plan.  We'll see!

What's funny about this, you're asking?   After over an hour of running where I contemplated my situation and my training, I arrived back at my desk to find a blog comment by Steve - reiterating my exact same thoughts.  Weird timing.  Perhaps God was just making sure I got the message? :)

Also, post-marathon, I've had some trouble with my hips and right hamstring (old injury where I tore the hamstring and it didn't heal 100%).  It's weird, I'll go through a training cycle without much thought (adjustments every 10 days or so) - but then when I start to taper, the right leg seems to act more like a "club".  Perhaps during the taper I'm running differently?  Or perhaps I'm not doing enough strength to keep it in place?  Or the "strength" of a lot of mileage helps it?  Who knows.  Good thing I have Jim Patterson to turn to!  He is absolutely amazing - if you're in the Red Wing area, please look him up.  I've been in his office frequently lately, and each time the hip/hamstring has felt better.  Hopefully within the next week we can get it to where I don't notice it much at all.

Nate and I are waking up early to run in Dundas' Doggie Days 5k tomorrow.  Should be entertaining - Mesa is tapered and ready to go (she did a "shake out run" of 10 miles mid-day in the heat/humidity) :).  Ha.  We'll run with our Stunt Puppy gear, should be a really fun time!  We'll post pictures :).


Grandma's marathon & training recap

Grandma's was not a good race for me.  I'm a little bummed by the result - although 2:47 is still very respectable, I know I'm capable of so much more.  So, this means I go back to the drawing board, consult with Jerry, and make changes going forward.  What went well?  What didn't?  I strongly believe that races like this make you stronger and smarter, helping you to re-analyze what you're doing, your training cycles, the "little things", etc.  

First, the race:
Things that went well (Race):
·        - Bottles/nutrition out on the course.  I have this DOWN.  No dizziness anymore, no side aches, was great!!   I absolutely love carb Boom - not sure what it is about their product, but I have had no issues since switching to them.  I feel like I metabolize their gel quicker?  I didn't have any stomach issues (unlike a couple of other women I knew in the top 10, bummer); I'm SO thankful.  It's a challenge to eat as much as I know I need, but not eat so much that your stomach has issues.  I don't have my gel/bottle detail with me now, but I'll post this later. I'll definitely repeat this in future marathons.
·        - I was able to bring the pace down the last portion of the race.  It's the first time I’ve been able to do that (granted, still wasn’t even able to come close to 6:05s, but at least it was a “move” of some sort)!!
·      -When Jerry let me know how far back from 10th place and I realized I was gaining/within striking distance, I shifted into attack mode mentally. 
·        -26.2 doesn’t seem long anymore, mentally or physically.  I think I'll be able to bounce back after this race faster than I have before.

 Things that went well (Training):
·         -Massage.  I went every other week, and I honestly think this is what kept me healthy through the high mileage weeks.  Jenny is AMAZING.  Seriously, if you are in the Northfield area, look her up - Pivotal Point Oriental Medicine.  She's a great listener and has a way of finding each and every knot and working all of them out.  I HONESTLY think she's the reason I was able to hit 105/week for the first time, without injury, and feeling great/fast.  Who knew??  I will definitely be looking to massage to keep me injury free during the next cycle (which I'm hoping to hit 115-120/week)

      -I felt SO good at higher mileage.  I hit 105/week for the first time and felt like I reached a new level of efficiency.  If you haven't read Camille's blog, check it out:  Her training commentary is here: I completely identify with her comments at 100/week, and look forward to challenging my mpw further.  I honestly think that will bring a huge breakthrough to my race times.

-Kept injuries at bay!  YEAH!!!  There were a couple times the Achilles was sore after a workout, but then I just did an ice bucket every night & it settled back down.

·        -I don’t feel the need to take much time off.  Previously the body was a little beat up after a marathon.  Also, mentally I needed a break.  That’s really not the case this time (also probably means that I wasn’t mentally “all-in” for this race like I was for Gmas ’11 or the Trials)

Things that didn’t go well (Race):
·         Race day legs = heavy and slow!  No spring, no get-up-and go.  Worse than at the Trials.  At the Trials I just didn’t have anything faster.  For Grandma’s, they were just BLA, flat, slow.  Why?

Things that didn’t go well (Race):
·         Obviously… vacation.  I think it was combination of vacation & big-time crossing “the line” with the group run in Las Vegas.  Hopefully neither one repeated this next cycle.  I'm smarter than this and know how to listen to my body.  I just need to keep a careful ear to what my body is telling me.
Changes for next cycle:
·         -Increase mileage.  'nuff said :)

-  Being more diligent about strength days.  I was a little lax with this during this cycle.  I sometimes find myself "too tired" or find other excuses.  The reality is that I really enjoy strength training, and should just do it much like I "just do" the rest of my training Jerry lines up.  I've asked him to write in strength days, I'm much less apt to cheat (actually, not apt to cheat at all) if he tells me to do it :)

·         Weight: I didn’t try as hard here, either, and probably raced ~3 or 4 lbs heavier than Grandma’s last year.  They say each pound is a minute… which would be the 3 minutes I was slower this year vs. last.  No excuses, I just need to work harder here.  I'm excited to work with Just Food in Northfield for the next cycle, trying a lot of differnt things, recipes, trying to learn what snacks are best, etc - I'm going to make an attempt to make as much of my diet from there as possible (although, I'm very scared about that, just because it is so much more expensive...).  I'm also inspired by Scott Jurek's diet (still need to read his book!), and aim to try some vegan meals (or days?).  Guess that doesn't really count as vegan, then, I know... but I just don't know if I can give up meat and greek yogurt just yet! Much more to come!
·         Diet week of: this hasn’t had the same effect for me the last two times.  In fact, I feel like I almost come to the line race morning a little heavier?  Maybe because I’m over-compensating for the things I’m missing in my diet by eating more?  I think for NYC I might just do a 3 day “more carb” diet? I'll have to do more research on this.

·         HILLS, at least every so often.  NYC is a little hillier (not bad, but not flat).  I’ll do some of my long runs in Afton (Nate rollerskis there with a group) which I think will be good.  I’m not as good of a hill runner now – been away from “the hill” in St. Peter for a little too long :)

Also working a little on speed as well, since I'm not the strongest at this.
·         And since I asked Jerry his thoughts, I'll pose the questions for readers here:  anything you can see that I can work on/improve this cycle? :)  I'm game for pretty much anything.

Less than 20 weeks to NYC.  Let's do this!!              


Grandma's Marathon 2012 in pictures

Getting ready at the start:

And we're off!
Mile 9:
Mile 12:
Mile 16:
Mile 20ish:
Mile 25.5 - moving into 11th place!
Charging for home:
Almost there:

Finish line video: HERE, results: HERE

My reward - the chocolate shoe from our goodie bag :)


Grandma's marathon: 2:47:09, 11th place

Quick update before I do my typical race blog -- I finished in 11th place (just 30 seconds out of 10th, 40 seconds out of 9th, ug!!) in 2:47:09.  It was perhaps my worst race in the last year and a half - my legs felt dead from my short warm-up before the race :(.

The most painful stat is that I lost $33.33 per second to the 10th place finisher.  UGGGG!!!  I just didn't have it.  Even if I would have raced my trials time, which was also not a great race for me, I would have been in that top ten.  Guess that means I need to work with Jerry to go back to the drawing board to figure what isn't going 100% right.  I refuse to be so close to the podium next time.  Seriously.

I'll obviously take the next couple of days to digest the race further, to reflect on what I could do better, what I did well, etc.  But in the mean time, I've already begun to get excited for the next cycle :NYC marathon's professional women's division.  I've been extended an invitation, and am more than excited to train hard and race to my ultimate there.



Week before Grandma's

Week in review:
1 day off
Total of about 22ish miles (M-Fri)
1 "up tempo" workout Monday (4x1200m)
My typical carb-depletion/carb-loading routine (YUMMMM, oatmeal!)
10 (at least) times I felt myself wishing I was running 90+ miles.  I miss the way you feel when you're doing that much volume!  I miss being able to eat anything!  I miss the structure of it all.  I miss the craziness of it all!  But most of all, I realized that this is one of the few things that I truly enjoy the process as much as the end result.
8 (or so) times that I also thought that it's really nice not to have to run a double at night, do strength, etc
:)  I could get used to this!!

Not much to this week, I guess.  I'm trusting in my taper, trusting in the work that I did in the previous weeks/months, and just waiting until race day.

Early in the week I was scrambling mentally.  What should my goal be?  Originally it was 2:40, but the forecast was looking pretty bad (especially for me, since I am very affected by heat and humidity).  Forecasts were for 62 degrees at the start, and 95-100% humidity.  Anywhere from 70-77 at 10:00 (I'll hopefully be finishing around 10:30).  Yikes.  Without a time goal, what do I mentally prepare myself around?

Not sure what it was - perhaps continuing to listen and internalize Dr. Asp's CD - perhaps a few great reminders from my miracle worker chiropractor Dr. Patterson - who knows - but I woke up Wednesday morning and was just in a good place.  I was calm, confident, and felt ready.  Weird. 

I realized that it didn't matter what the temp/humidity was going to be; I don't have an Olympic Trials standard to hit this year.  Instead, the goal is to RACE.  To see what I have against the other women running.  To give a "full effort" (Dr. Asp's key phrase).  It doesn't matter how many women will be there, what they are capable of - I just have to hang with those that are around me & try to move up throughout the race.

I have a general pacing idea if the weather cooperates for a 2:40, and will decide at the start line and during the race if that pacing plan is doable.  If it's humid or hot, I back off at the start to try to ward off a big crash later on (I have had several bad experiences racing in the heat, and I can crash pretty big...).  Tuesday I was stressing about all of this uncertainty.  Now I'm totally relaxed about all of it.  I like it.

So, tomorrow will be a short shake out run, packet pickup, taking care of bottles (I don't have them mixed, thought I'd wait to see how warm it was supposed to be before I decided what to put in them), massage -- and then just hanging out waiting for Saturday morning.

I'll try to update this, if nothing else just with a quick sentence or two, on Saturday sometime.  Until then, hope for as cool of a day as possible!!


YES - great last tempo workout!

The legs are coming around!  I met up with Brenden today for a 2x2 mile tempo workout and felt like my typical starting-to-taper self.  What a fun feeling.  We came through in 11:33 and 11:38 and I felt strong, efficient, and my feet were slapping the pavement & bouncing up quickly, snappily.  I could have pushed harder (cool feeling!), but at this point I just want to be running fast & not totally trashing the legs. 

The whole workout was just 10 miles.  I hardly felt like it was enough - I'm typically completely wiped out after a workout with Brenden!  Yeah, tapering!!

This is perfectly timed as I'll be putting together my stuff for the race this weekend.  Now I can truly throw out all of the doubts I had the last week and a half, think through pacing without thinking "well, I haven't hit my times in anything recent... is this really do-able?".  Instead, I can start to get really excited and enjoy the last part of the taper.  Yes :)

Oh -- PLEASE let a cold front come through for next weekend.  It's going to be a hot one here in MN this weekend (90 and humid) and initial forecasts for next Saturday call for a very humid day.  I don't race well in humidity... hopefully with enough praying things might change?? :)


Putting myself under... and digging myself out

My legs have struggled post-vacation.  Like, really struggled.  I think it was the combination of the following, in order:
1.  The run in Vegas with the group where I completely crossed "the line".  I ran the last 4 miles in without anything left in the legs, almost race-like in how depleted they were.  I know better than that; I am usually very good about having a plan for each workout and sticking to it.  This was NOT in the plan, and was definitely not what I needed to cap off my 3rd highest volume week.  Nate scolded me as well.  "You had nothing to prove!  They were the ones who wanted to prove something to you. You should be more confident to come to their practice and say, "This is what I need" & go out and do just that."  So true.  Lesson learned, believe me.
2.  Nutrition.  I scrounged for most of the time out there, especially in Vegas where Nate was in class and I lived off of the measly left-overs from our camp food (think remainder of a loaf of bread, finishing off the jam (pb was already gone), granola bars, etc.  Nate sometimes would bring up food from the class, which was really fun :).  Even while camping, my diet was not my norm, and I know I didn't eat much protein or iron those entire 10 days.  (Yes, I should have just gone out for meals... but I actually like "scrounging" (and not wasting food!)... I find it somewhat adventurous :))  Plus, unless I was to find a grocery store along the strip, I don't think I would have found much in the way of lean protein, green veggies, etc.
3.  Hydration.  There were some long, hot days in the sun, and the dry heat in Vegas didn't help.

Whatever the cause, my legs were completely trashed when I came back.  I tried a 10x800m workout the Tuesday after we returned.  I did the first 800m repeat in 2:59.  I literally laughed out loud.  I'm supposed to be doing them in 2:40!  My legs were oddly slow.  Not bound up and fatigued like I've felt before, but it was  more that they moved in slow motion, no power and no get-up-and-go.  Very curious.  I decided that doing the repeats in 3 minutes wasn't going to help me, so I packed it in.

I took Wednesday off (2 days in a week!  What?!?) and attempted the workout Thursday again.  It was moderately better (i.e. faster than 2:59!), but times ranged from 2:41 at the beginning to 2:49 on the 7th one... Craig had the brilliant idea to cut the 8th and 9th into 2 400m repeats with a very short rest in between to try to at least come closer to hitting the times.  The last one I did the entire 800 in 2:44.  So... better than Tuesday...

Saturday was a MP/Tempo workout that was, again, slower than the goal, but I purposely didn't look at my watch often.  If my legs are going to feel like this, there isn't anything I can do about it... other than focus on the workout ahead of me & put in a good solid effort.  So, that's what I did, and I'm proud I was able to mentally focus and power through the whole thing, most of which was done alone.

It gets you to thinking... oh crap... Grandma's is just 2 weeks away!  And my legs feel terrible!  I remember trying to race TC 10 last year on legs like this - they felt so dead that I wasn't even able to "race".  Ever had races like that?  How can I quickly get my legs back to how GREAT they were feeling during those high mileage weeks where I was firing on all cylinders?  Do I stick to the course or alter workouts?  Is there anything else I can be doing?  Diet?  Water?  I kept telling myself to shut up, stop worrying (knowing this is what Jerry would tell me).  But it's hard not to think about it a lot!  Really!!

BUT -- fast forward to today, Tuesday, and my legs are finally STARTING to turn the corner.  They still feel like they're moving in slow motion a little bit, but at least it's not deathly slow.  I ventured out in the early morning to beat the heat, met up with Craig (it is SO AWESOME to have someone in town willing to do these crazy workouts!!!), and we enjoyed 3x10 minutes worth of tempo work together.  Times were right around 5:55 or so.  That was my optimistic goal, given how terrible I've been feeling & running... so I can't complain.  Now, just need to get the legs 100% back so tempo effort is sub-5:50s... which I'm now very hopeful will come... right in time for my last tempo workout on Friday.  Perfectly timed?

Now, to down another glass of water :)