Rest up!

My legs didn't exactly come around during last week's down week.  Bummer, I was really hoping they would.

All I can do now is make changes to the next week and a half to try to get them feeling snappy and fresh again.  Jerry is so key to this... I, being "type A, love to run a zillion miles, take satisfaction in beating myself into a pulp" still strongly dislike reigning things in.  I've gotten better about accepting the changes and knowing I need them... but I still hate them, nonetheless.  I know I will take more satisfaction by cruising to new PRs at TC 10 and NYC than the extra mileage we're taking out - so therefore, I won't put up too much of a fight.

I also never know the best way to rest up fatigued legs - day off?  Two?  Lay off speed work?  Just run easy?  Luckily I have Jerry and he always has a plan.  I trust in him and trust in my training. 

What brought about the plan changes?  I had another workout Tuesday that wasn't as fast as it should have been.  In fact, it was pretty slow.  Granted, it was THE hardest workout of the entire cycle (21 miles total: 3 WU, 4.25 miles T, 5 min rest, 3.25 T, 4 min rest, 2.5 T, 3 min rest, 1.6 T, 2 min rest, .85 T, CD to round out the 21) - but that's no excuse.  It would have been one thing if I came unraveled at the end because it was so long/fast.  But, on the contrary, I could hardly move during the first segment.  It's that slow motion feeling where you know you're reaching to go faster but you literally can NOT.  Some of the last minutes of the segments were really ugly, like someone was pushing the slow motion button on me.  I know I shouldn't have let the thought come in my head, but after one of the segments I saw a movie of someone that had suddenly been put into slow motion.  They're talking normally -- and then they're talking reeeaaallllyyy slowly.  The last few minutes of the long segments were exactly this - I'd turn a corner or transition myself to running downhill or uphill and my legs would come off.  Like 6:40-pace come off.

Later that evening my calves, ankles and feet felt swollen.  Weird, never had that?  I woke up with a calf cramp as well.  Super.  Sooo..... I obviously am beyond that "good point" line.  I'm a little disappointed in allowing myself to get here (I try to monitor this very closely - but guess I've been telling myself to hang on until the "down week" - which was probably a week to 1.5 weeks too late in the cycle.  Note to self for next cycle).  I'm also wondering why I'm here?  Good to reflect so you can make adjustments & get better.
-I think the biggest reason is work related stress, since I've entered the period of time where I'm literally on my computer all day, every day - and still find myself with a to-do list filling up an entire dry erase board.  *Sigh*  I would love nothing more than to feel caught up.  I'm trying not to stress about it, since I only have two hands and one brain... and they can only work so quickly, but the late nights and constant "not done" feeling wear on you, definitely.

-I haven't been as good about strength since work got a lot busier.  No excuse for that! This week I've felt the difference - just not as strong in my arms and core.  I HATE that feeling.  I'm considering getting in a strength workout before work in the mornings.  When I leave it for the evening I always find myself scrambling to finish work until late and then thinking that bed sounds like a better idea than a strength routine.  Maybe I should bring my free weights to work and do them out by the river over lunch?  See what the construction workers have to say about that?  Hahaha :)
-Water.  Dehydration is probably a part of the equation as well.  Darn the sneaky dry fall.  I finally washed my water bottle at work & am committed to drinking 3 of them before I head home for the day.  If only you could drink a lot and not have to go to the bathroom so often...

I say this not in a "hard on myself" way, more with a chuckle and a "okay, hmm, what now?" attitude.  Like I said, I trust in the fitness and mileage I have in me, I just need to find a way to bring it out again.  It'll come.  5.5 weeks to NYC, 1.5 to the 10 mile.  In the mean time, I'm enjoying a little bit of down time, promising Jerry that I'll spend the minutes I would be running either drinking water or sleeping.  Wish me luck! 


Fun workout with a co-worker and (very) random compliment

All three of my typical 3 Northfield co-workers were down for the count this week.  Actually, one is travelling and the other two are racing a half marathon on the weekend - so needless to say, they didn't want or need a hard workout (at least what I had written) during the later part of the week.

I thought about doing my hard workout alone, but then my thoughts drifted to Chap Achen who works at the Shoe with me.  A very, very good triathlete and speedy runner (I did one of my first runs with him after the Trials - where I had allowed myself to get out of shape & slow - and tried to hang on until I literally had to ask him to slow the pace down.  He hasn't tried to run with me since, ha!).  He said he was game.  How fun!!

We ventured out over our lunch hours for a fun 4x2 mile @ tempo workout (2 min rest in between).  My legs are starting to come around (this is a down week for me), but I could tell on the second mile of the first repeat that they were working pretty hard for the paces we were running.  Wish they could get back their low 5:40's spring, but oh well, guess I don't really need that until November 4th :).

We managed to average about 5:52ish almost every mile.  Amazingly consistent.  I forgot my Garmin, and after bumming out for a minute or two, realized it was probably the best thing for me (in the way that not eating that cookie is the best thing... or finishing an interval on an uphill is the best thing for you :)). I looked at my watch a handful of times in the interval, and instead of altering my pace to get the watch to read a time I'm happy with, I was judging my pace on effort, breathing, and how the legs felt.  I really should do this more often.  Chap had a watch and yelled out our splits at the mile and 2 mile.  Perfect.

Times: Rep 1: 5:52, 5:54.  Rep 2: 5:50, 5:53 (I think?).  Rep 3: 5:48, 5:52.  Rep 4: 5:49, 5:52.  Chap did the 1st mile of the last interval and left the second to me (no watch! yikes!).  It was great to practice finishing something as hard as I could without someone right there.

Those paces are closer to my goal paces than I've been in the last couple of weeks when I've been running tired.  Getting back to where I need to be! 

One fun story from today: After my run I walked past a young construction crew.  One guy rushed out from behind his machinery and told me he did a 5 mile run in his neighborhood the other day and nearly died.  "I was thinking about you, though!  And how you do this every day!", he said.  Guess that crew has been there for a couple of weeks... and I probably have been running over lunch quite a few times... guess it never really occurred to me that people might see me day in & day out.  I replied something like "It really does get a lot easier the more you do it, promise!".  I told him I was training for a marathon, trying to run a bit every day.  As the conversation ended, he said, "Well, whatever you do, please try to put those legs in a magazine or something".  It was so unexpected, so random that I laughed about as hard as I've laughed in a while... "Ha, these short legs?!? What?"  I walked away smiling.  He just made my day.  I think that is the first time, EVER, that my legs have been complimented (I am barely 5'1", and my legs are not helping me much in that height measurement).


Down week!!!

I am so excited... this is a huge down week for me - 81 miles!  It shows how far I've come when three cycles ago this would have been a huge week.  Today's plan just called for 10 miles and my immediate reaction was: what?  Just 10?  Not a second run at night of 6 as well?  It just feels weird :).

I managed the high mileage block really well, and although the last 2 or 3 weeks I've been more tired, I was very careful not to allow myself to get too tired.  I've learned there's a very fine line between training tired (essential for the marathon) and training too tired.  I noticed little things... my paces for my easy runs all slowed to between 8:30-8:40 (during my "I feel amazing" high mileage weeks there were days that slow but then I'd recover and be back at 8ish the next day), my routine 25 push ups and sit ups after my runs became harder (very odd...), and I needed more sleep.  I'm glad that I've become good at seeing those signs and allowing my body to do what it needs to do instead of forcing paces that aren't right for it.

Note: although I monitor the paces on my easy runs, I have learned the best thing is to not care about what the watch says, in the slightest.  If I'm running 8:30's plus, I don't worry about it.  I do whatever it takes to let my legs actually recover so they can hit the hard workouts hard.  I think this is a common error amongst runners... pushing a little too hard on the easy runs and therefore sacrificing a little on each hard workout.  Run by feel!!

Amazingly, this down week came at exactly the right time - Jerry's plans have a habit of being written perfectly like that.  I don't think it would have been beneficial for me to run tired for any longer.  Instead, we'll let the legs freshen up, get their spring back, and we can hit a few more weeks of intensity and mileage before starting the taper.  The focus now needs to be on being faster, not building strength by running tired.

I'm excited just thinking about it! :)

I'm going to enjoy every extra down-time minute this 80 mile week gives me.  Maybe I'll be able to get a little more caught up on work, actually clean my house (!!), or... most fun... sleep a little more :).


Beet Barley with Mushroom Cannellini Bean Paprikas

Time to start posting some of the fabulous things I've tried/made lately!

This is one of my absolute favorite dishes now.  I wasn't so sure, even as I was cooking it, but it turned out great.  I've made it again recently, this time using red beets (since the true recipe is supposed to be Scarlet Barley).  Turned out just as good!

From "Appetite for Reduction":

Beet Barley:
2 cloves garlic
Black Pepper
1 Bay Leaf
1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 tsp salt
1 beet (.75 pound), grated
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Heat 2 cloves garlic in water with a couple pinches of pepper and bay leaf.  Add the barley, broth and salt, cover and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, stir and lower the heat to low.  Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

I've never cooked with barley before!
When most of the water has absorbed, mix in grated beet (here I was very scared - I told Nate the beet still smelled like "dirt"...).

Cook for about 20 more minutes, stirring occassionally.  Turn off the heat and mix in lemon juice (I used a concentrate).  Cover and let sit for 10 minutes (not sure why?) and remove the bay leaf.
Yes, Mom and Dad, it's me - cooking!  And there isn't too much smoke it the house!

Mushroom Cannellini Bean Paprika:
1 cup small onion, sliced thin (recipe officially calls for a "red" onion)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
Black Pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup dry red cooking wine
1/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 Tbsp fresh thyme (I used a dried spice, just converted)
16 ounce can on cannellini beans, drained/rinsed

Cook onions in a little water (or olive oil if you prefer - I've been following advice in another Vegan cookbook that doesn't add olive oil into recipe.  I don't miss it, so why add it back?) until soft.  Add garlic and heat for about 30 seconds.  Add mushrooms, peper and salt, cook until lots of moisture has been released, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
Add the wine, broth, smoked paprika, and thyme.  Turn up the heat and bring the mixture to a low boil (3 mins).  Lower the heat and add the beans.  Cook to heat them through (5 mins).

SOOO good!

Serve alongside the barley - YUM!


I'll have my work cut out for me...

I'd expect nothing less from NYC!  Intimidating, definitely, but also very exciting :)


Exciting News - Brooks!

I'm so excited: Brooks just offered a great product/shoes sponsorship to get me through to NYC!!!

I'm hoping to be able to join their elite/sponsored team in 2013 (this year I was too late in applying - didn't know I was even fast enough to be considered until meeting other women at the Trials - bummer).  Instead of waiting until January 2013 to officially start with their sponsored team, they were able to put something together to bridge the next 4 months or so. I'll be doing some blogging/writing for them in the next months: about my progression as a marathoner, about my NYC training plan, and then something after the marathon as well.

Thank you to Kristen Carter for her help in making this happen!!

Another fun fact:  Jerry emailed me today to give me the surprising factoid that I've averaged 97 miles over the last 10 weeks.  WOW!  No wonder the legs are a little tired :)

Run Happy!