Fretting and Stopping - Oh, Long Tempo Workouts!

I admit, I have this problem - when I look at long tempo workouts, I fret about them.  I wonder if I should move them to another day so I'll have fresher legs.  I will often stop in the middle of them if I'm doing them alone (I don't know why).  I think about how much they'll hurt.  I question if I can hold paces for that long.

Does anyone else do this?!?

That was exactly the case Tuesday.  Because of last week's workout switch-arounds (due to weather), I knew I had run 22 miles on Friday (workout and PM run), 20 on Sunday (easy), and this Tuesday called for 19 miles (workout and PM run).  Ouch!

My legs did not exactly feel fresh on Tuesday.  I called Nate and told him that I wasn't sure about the workout and might decide to move it to Wednesday if my legs felt dead.  Plus, it was pretty nice out (33 degrees!  Woot, woot!), and I wanted to take advantage of a run outside.  Wednesday was supposed to be cold, which would be perfect - I could lace up and do the tempo workout inside on a treadmill.

I headed out the door, fully intending to just run easy miles.  I wore my heavy, more cushioned Trance's (I switch my Brooks models often, running in different shoe weights depending on the workout - these are great for those easy recovery days) and brought Mesa with me.

At 2 miles, I stopped to stretch.  I can do this, I thought to myself.  Why not at least start?

Workout was: 2 mile warm up, 4 miles at tempo, 4 min rest, 3 miles at tempo, 3 min rest, 2 miles T, 2 rest, 1 mile T, 2 CD.  (Plus PM shake out run)

Can you see why I wasn't looking forward to this?  In the past I've always converted workouts like this, per Daniels' recommendation: 1 mile = 4:45 minutes (the elite plan he wrote was written for people who run their MP around 5:00, Tempos around 4:45).  But I decided that this cycle I'm going to try not to do that.  Jerry has written them this way for a reason - and hasn't told me to convert.  So trust his plan.

And... drum roll, please!  For the first time in, well, ever?!? I completed the tempo segments with only 1 "pause" (bathroom break needed!).  I stayed mentally positive and just went on effort.  So what if I'm not hitting 5:45's or below (ideal tempo pace)? At this point it doesn't matter.  I just need to become stronger and more mentally tough, and that's exactly what this workout helped with.

I did take a longer break in between each one (maybe 90 seconds longer than written?).  

Paces: 4 mile: 6:04 average (more downhill), 3 mile: 6:12 average (more uphill - and was feeling the fast 4 miler before!), 2 mile: 6:05 average (rolling), 1 mile: 5:48 (very much downhill - so close to my goal time, but definitely aided!).  

So THERE, mid-week workout!  You didn't get the best of me! :)

PS - Mesa is a great workout partner.  Before every segment, I'd ask her if she was ready, tell her how far we had to go.  She'd just look up at me and then look forward, like "Of course!  Why are you making us stand out here any longer than we have to?  Let's start this and get it over with!".  Well, that's what I think she was saying.  She very well could have been cursing me the entire time :).


This makes me SO excited to race on the track this season!

It also makes me realize how much work I have to do to improve my power and speed :).  My marathon legs just won't cut it.

Can I also just say that I just love track & watching all-out efforts like this?  Inspiring, to say the least!


Week 18 & 17 - the countdown begins!

2 weeks in review:

Week 18, the start of the Fargo Marathon cycle:
Goal: 80-85 miles with 1 day off
Actual: 80 miles, 1 day off.
2 "workouts" on Treadmill: 5 miles progressively faster inside a 10 mile run, and 5 miles hard hill segment at end of a 19 miler.

I had that good "fatigue around the edges of your quads" feeling that I always get at the start of a training cycle part way through the week.  A rest day cured that, and then felt like I was better able to handle the miles, recover quicker, etc!

The first 5 mile progressive run wasn't stellar.  I think I averaged about 6:50 or so (starting at 7:40 and working down to 6:00).  My HR was near max at the end, and my body and lungs didn't know how to handle the shock of running so hard :).  I had to run to the bathroom immediately afterwards and felt sick the rest of the night.  Ohhh, I forgot this feeling :).  But good to shock the system and start working hard!!

Week 17:
Goal: 96 miles, no days off
Two workouts: 5x1000m, 6x400
and a 2x3 mile tempo run inside of an 18 miler

Actual: 96 miles.  Workouts were interesting, as you'll see.

I shuffled my training plan this week due to the cold (Tuesday's air temp was -3 for a high, and Monday's windchill dropped to -20 or below).  Wednesday was supposed to be a little warmer, so decided to attempt my track workout for the week.  I had 3 other brave souls meet me up there, including Claire, who I'm helping train, her husband Jake, and Matt, a friend who is about my speed (yeah!!).  We started the track work around 4:30.  It was quickly apparent that the 10-15 mph winds were going to challenge our goal times.

Which they did :).  My goal for these was 3:22, which should be doable since 2 weeks ago I did them around that speed.  The first one we came through in 3:32, the second in 3:40.  At that point, I gave Matt a helpless look.  Is this doing any good?  I literally could not drive into the wind any harder, so couldn't get my lungs to burn like they needed to.  When you hit the wind, you could see all of us pull up our buffs/balaclavas to cover most of our faces :).  The only problem with my buff was that Nate has used it one too many times so it doesn't stay up.  Also, when I grabbed it to bring it up over my face, I'd sometimes grab 3 layers of cloth, causing some fun "gasping for air" sounds.  Ohh, to have watched us from afar!  We must have looked crazy. No, I take that back.  We ABSOLUTELY looked crazy out there.  This is hard core dedication, people.

I wondered what else I could do to make this workout harder.  Guess I could scrap this and run to the YMCA and hit up the treadmills there... but that seemed silly.  Just finish the workout.  Just run as hard as you can despite the wind and cold.  This workout might not be "helping" as much as it was supposed to (due to slow times), but it certainly isn't hurting.

We muscled through the next 3 in 3:28, 3:33, and 3:33. Matt and I came up with a plan for him to take the first lap and for me to take the second (even though I'm a terrible wind block :)). I couldn't ever catch him, though, but it was fun to have something to chase after - helped to push harder than I thought I could.

The 400s were fun - either chasing Claire or paced by Jake.  So fun to be with friends!! The inside of my nose was freezing on the last two.  Definitely getting colder out!

As Jake and I headed out for the cool down, I suddenly realized my hands and cheeks weren't warming up, despite blowing into my hands, trying to warm my cheeks with my hands, stuffing my hands down my pants.  I was embarrassed to have to ask Jake to turn back... we ran inside to the hockey rink and called for a ride home :(.  I have never been more thankful for the help, but also ashamed that I didn't plan appropriately for the cold that comes post-dark (and the wind that was forecasted to increase).  I also HATE missing miles that are scheduled on the plan, no matter what the reason.

Turns out, the windchill when I got back was -18.  Once I unthawed, there were also two small raised white patches on my right cheek.  So I guess I can't be too hard on myself for stopping and seeking help back.  But I have to be smarter about this! 

We all decided that this was a workout we'd remember in the summer when we thought we were hurting. Also, we may call ourselves team HC from now on (Hard Core!) - but we're still leaving that open to other, more clever or catchy, suggestions :)
Second workout of the week was a long tempo workout.  I did the tempo miles inside and was surprised how poorly I handled the paces.  I started the first 3 mile segment at 6:20 pace and dropped to 6:00 by .5 miles.  The goal pace for these is sub 6 (eventually 5:40 when I'm stronger/more fit), but I found myself gasping for air at the end of a mile.  I hit stop on the TM, leaning over the bars, lungs heaving.  The lady next to me looked at me quizzically.  I apologized and told her what I was trying to do :).  She then cheered me on, which was awesome :).  I decided to take these miles 1 at a time and make them as hard as possible.  The next two I was able to hit in about 6:05.  That's pretty slow, considering that's my goal marathon pace...

Then 8 miles easy and another 3 miles tempo.  I did this one at 6:10s, stopping just once briefly.  I handled this one better, for whatever reason.  Nate suggested I just needed 14 miles to warm up :)  I think TM running is just different for me, and it takes a little getting used to.  I'm obviously not at the paces I'd like to be at, but they aren't terrible (tempos at 6:00 just 1.5 years ago would have been great!) - and I know I'll improve quickly once my legs and lungs get back into the training cycle.

Overall, a great first two weeks.  I have a LOT of work to do, but I'm super excited to get after it! 


Shrimp Bok Choy Stir Fry - Low Carb

  • 3/4 pound shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 pound Bok Choy
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil for stir-frying, or as needed
  • 2 thin slices ginger (1/4 tsp ground ginger)
  • 8 ounces (2.5 cups) snow peas
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth, sodium-reduced if possible
  • 1/2 packet sugar substitute
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • black pepper, to taste
  • hot sauce, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 2 teaspoons water - if needed
1. If using frozen shrimp, defrost. Rinse shrimp under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Place in a bowl and add the rice wine or sherry, 1/2 teaspoon salt and cornstarch, stirring in one direction (this is to make sure the marinade spreads evenly.)
2. Chop bok choy stalks diagonally (with the leaves) across into 1 inch pieces. Cut mushrooms into thin slices.
3. Preheat wok and add 1 Tbsp of olive or peanut oil. When the oil is hot, add the ginger (if using fresh - if ground. Stir fry for 30 seconds, until aromatic, then add the shrimp. Stir-fry until they turn pink. Remove the cooked shrimp from the pan.
4. Add water to the pan to cook the vegetables. Add the bok choy, mushrooms, and snow peas. Stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the chicken broth, cover and cook for 2 more minutes.
5. Add the shrimp back into the pan. Add the sugar substitute, soy sauce, and pepper. Give the cornstarch/water mixture a quick re-stir and add in, stirring to thicken. Cook, stirring for another minute and serve hot.

675 total calories: 35 grams carbs, 20 grams fat, 88 grams protein.  If divide into 3 servings: 225 calories, 12 grams carbs, 7 grams fat, 29 grams protein.

Something a little different, light and delicate tasting.  Enjoy!

Adapted from


Healing - And a Plan! :)

The foot has healed great.  I was able to run 2 miles yesterday, plus an hour elliptical. Today I was able to do 6 miles, plus 45 minutes on the elliptical.  Super excited about that - it means I'll be able to resume training as normal next week (obviously cognizant about how the foot is feeling and careful not to re-blister or cause the healing skin/foot to endure too much pounding).

So, what will the plan entail?  Good question!  Jerry was in touch with me tonight, so I have a general plan.  This week, there's nothing written.  Just run, and run easy (although not too slow, he warns me) - 80-85 miles with a day off (15 miles/day).  Striders, strength, and flexibility.  I am in desperate need of all three he suggested, as confirmed by today's post-workout flexibility attempt.  My strength session yesterday was harder than it should have been as well.  So I'm excited to have that be my focus this week (just getting back to a rhythm).  Plus, I love just running "miles"!!  So, yeah!!

Our total plan for Fargo will have a max of 120, just above the max for New York.  After this week, then, I'll average 100 miles/week.  Hope the weather accommodates!

Other mid-cycle goals will be to target a sub 17:20 5k.  Now, that's not the speediest in the world, but I am truly NOT a greak 5ker.  This will be a great goal for me to motivate me to get to the track and work on my speed, since I know in order to lower my marathon pace I simply need to become faster.  My current PR is 17:27.  I'd love to have a PR in the teens.

When Jerry emailed me, he first emailed with goal paces.  I opened it and immediately showed Nate.  Wow... Jerry thinks that the Olympic Trials A standard might be in reach for this fall.  Yikes!  I was content chasing a course record at Fargo (currently 2:41:52) and just snagging the standard.  But, if I have learned ANYTHING through this journey and with Jerry, life and running is all about setting crazy goals.  You never know what you're capable of achieving until you set yourself up for it.  I never would have imagined making the '12 Trials, signing with Brooks... so a marathon sub 2:37... well, maybe?!?

Here are the things I told Jerry I think I need to work on (from my email to him), soliciting his advice for other items (if you've been reading this for a while and have other observations, let me know!):

1. Picking up the pace as the race goes on, or that long run strength in general (i.e. those 20-22 milers where there are 3 miles of Tempo at the beginning and end – I feel like right now I don’t have the strength to do the end one)
      -  I feel like I’ll get that long run strength back fairly quickly once a block of training starts.  Getting faster through a long/hard run… will have to work on that!
 2. Not pushing the pace on the days/weeks I’m feeling good.  I think this put undue stress on me (on top of those high mileage weeks), broke me down more than necessary. I think it's best to stick to the paces written (+/- just a few seconds), even if I'm feeling really good – so that I can stay feeling good!
3.  I think I should alter the paces on my easy days just a little bit.  Some can be slog-through-the miles slow, some should be a little quicker (i.e. below 7:30s – closer to what Daniels recommends).
4.  Nutrition/weight.  Now I know I should target a lower race weight.  I’ll hate this, but just have to get it done.  I can also work on the fat burning part – so will probably take my plan and map out 4 depletion first runs and 2 more further depletion PM runs per week (per info from an elite mens marathon study on what they do nutritionally).  I do so much better when things are just laid out in black and white.  [long blog post to follow this week on things I've explored with a doctor friend.]
5. Ability to randomly pick up the pace.  I’ve lost a little of that snappiness.  Probably something as easy as striders, some plyos? Into the schedule.
6. HILLS.  I think it’d be beneficial to write in a few hill workouts this winter/spring.  I did more in prep for NYC, but only on my easy runs in RW (and here in NF I’d try to pick a more rolling route), but I can tell I’m not as good of a hill runner than the others around me.  Maybe not the biggest issue, since Fargo will be flat… and Chicago as well (unless we decide to do TCM).
7.  Assuming I can stay healthy and feel good throughout the cycle, let’s keep mileage a little higher through the taper.  I’m scared to say this, but I think cutting mileage severely leaves me feeling flat.  I’d likely also keep the doubles through the taper, just reduce the duration of doubles.  Seems like when I start to cut those out, my body doesn’t quite know how to take it.
8.   Cut out the junk in my life that doesn’t count for anything.  Be efficient at work.  Prioritize sleep.
9.  Work on flexibility a little bit more.
10.  Strength 3x/week.

So, there you have it... have to say it again, I am so excited to chase my spring and fall marathon goals.  It's going to take a LOT, but I'm on board to give everything I have. 


Foot update - and looking forward to training again!

Since I know everyone is dying for a foot update (and another lose-your-lunch photo), here it is:

Doesn't it look great?

I'm pretty amazed at how quickly it has healed.  Interesting to watch it heal from the inside-out, actually.  The far left side is almost healed to the original skin levels.  Crazy!

3 years ago, I was the slowest healer on the planet.  Bruises would take 3 weeks to go away.  This would have taken a long, long time to heal.  So - readers - next time you think that calories are calories, think again!  Eating good wholesome food does so much more for you than keep your weight in check.  I noticed that the first time I tried running 90+ mile weeks on healthy food and comparing that vs. my packaged food days.  I recover between workouts, have less inflammation, can handle way more miles consistently without feeling run down, and now this - a bad blister has healed faster than I would have thought.  What a world of difference.  Are you convinced?

Almost looks runable, right?  I'll have to get Dr. Nate and Genius Jerry's okay tonight, but I think tomorrow (Fri) may be my first opportunity to workout.  Any doctors reading this that want to give their opinion?  I'll likely elliptical since then I can use the foot/leg as more of a "club".  I wonder how soon I'll be able to start pounding out the miles.  Although it looks great, I know the flesh behind what has healed isn't "tough" yet (i.e. wouldn't hold up well to pounding).

I can not think of anything I'd rather be doing now, though (although time to catch up on the house, work, errands, etc has been SOOO nice!).  When driving into work this morning I looked down at the black highway pavement, a little wet because it's above freezing, and the bright winter sun.  Ahh, I thought to myself.  To be out on a 22 mile tempo run, pushing off the highway with power, fluidness, sun beating down on my shoulders - I can not wait :).

In the meantime, I guess I'll enjoy at least one more evening run/workout free.  I'm anxiously awaiting Jerry's spring marathon plan and am curious what he thinks will be best.  I sent him a ton of thoughts yesterday (will post here later).  My thoughts were a good track speed cycle (although not full of 200s/400s since my marathon legs never seemed to come around to them last spring) - but also said that if I should spend this winter/spring just putting in a ton of miles and "strength"-type workouts that I'd be totally game for that too.  I trust in whatever he thinks will get me to that May and October start lines healthy, strong, and FAST (even if that does mean 200s/400s, I guess :)).


Race Recap In Pictures

Meet Matt.  2:43 marathoner at Chicago this fall.  I can't imagine how long the race would have felt without him for the first 1:45.
Matt and I taking a turn together early in the race.  My mistake early on was trying to take these corners tight and fast (vs. not caring and running out in lane 2 - and I also tried not to lose speed coming out of them).  This would cost me!  
The best part of this marathon is the bond you form with the other racers.  In no other race do you get to know each other so well! (helped in part by the name you put on your back so everyone learns names as you come up behind or pass someone)  I was so thankful for all of the cheering and encouragement.  Suzy, pictured here, was the best - there were so many excited "You have this, girlfriend!" and "You're my inspiration!" cheers!
2:15 hours into the race.  Not in the greatest of places.  Ever run hard just for the sake of running hard?  Without a clear finish line (well, there obviously is one, but I really had no idea how far or close I was from it)?  It's an entirely different mental challenge.  [I can't help but make two unrelated comments: 1. This really shows how much stronger I've become in the last two years. Cool! 2. It does beg the question, though... did I miss my true calling as a gymnast?]
I try to analyze form, and two things stick out at me in this and the above photo: 1. arm swing isn't terrible but can be better, and 2. I don't have hip drop on either side when I land, which is good.  I've had to really work on this, since my right side isn't as strong (old hamstring injury) and that glute used to give in when I landed.  Means I need to keep it up with the glute/hamstring exercises!  Any other observations?  Hard to pick anything out from stills, I realize...

David - my pacer late in the race.  It made me realize how much easier it is to work with/off of someone late in a race when your brain isn't fully working.  Need to take that into consideration for my fall race/OTQ attempt plans...
1 lap to go!  See the hint of a smile and a "I have this!" look?!?  Note that I ran most of the race out in lane 2 - and a bit in lane 3 as well.  Wonder how far my 26.2 actually was?  Any math guru's out there?
And done!!  There's a guy in the far background with his fist in the air for me.  That's how AWESOME the crowd was for this!  As brutal as an indoor marathon is, I will say, you will NEVER become as close to the people you're competing with as in an indoor race.  It almost makes me want to consider doing it again... wait, no... that would not be a good idea...
That great pulsating feeling post-marathon. Know what I'm talking about?
Now, on to a blister update, since this has been the highlight of most news stories.  Here was the initial look.  I'll have to clean up those racing flats before Fargo :). Or Nate said that I didn't have to and would just look hard core at any future races :).  I also think the flats cut me up more than I would have expected because I'm heavier now than for a typical focus race.  This pair fits me so well when I'm at peak shape race weight - when I'm heavier, my feet widen and lengthen a bit.  So, I think I'll get another pair, 1/2 size bigger, and use them at different times of the year.

Day 1.  More red and weeping a lot. So gross. Sorry to have made you lose your lunch again (that'll teach you to continue to follow this blog!).

Day 2.  Better!  You can see that there are still some "fingerprints" on a lot of it, so that's good (or are they "foot prints?"). Also not as wet as yesterday.  It's relatively dry until I start to get up and move, and then it starts dripping junk. The feet swell then, too.  So - all the more incentive to stay off of it (so it can heal from the outside in) and keep it clean.  Uncovered during the day, covered anytime I need to be up and walking, and covered at night.  If ANYONE has any tips on how to make sure this heals asap, seriously, PLEASE comment here.  (things like - make sure to flex the foot to stretch out the skin that's healing over it so when I go back to normal movement it won't crack). I told Nate last night that if I needed to bathe it in hydrogen peroxide for hours, do anything else that would prove to be ridiculously painful but help it heal faster that I didn't care.  I just want to get over this quickly and not have it affect my training/stride/etc!
One other random comment:  As I was reflecting on this race, thinking about what went well, what didn't, etc, I scolded myself for giving in to the pain coming from that blister.  I allowed that sensation (pain) to consume the majority of my thoughts for a large portion of time (oh, another turn... this is going to hurt!).  I work a lot on my ability to manage pain while racing, and know that I simply can't allow myself to dwell on things like that.  Pain is simply a sensation telling you something.  Recognize it and then put it out of your mind.

Plus, how bad did it really hurt? It was just a blister after all (the right foot is also blistered, but about 1/4 the size and didn't open, so didn't bother me).  So I started scolding myself for not being as hard core as I know I can be - but then looked down and gave myself a break.  Because I think it did really hurt, and maybe I'm actually lucky that I didn't start favoring that leg and doing funny things with my stride (limp).

So - there you have it!  I hope to be at the next ZYY marathon - as a spectator :).  Thanks for the fun comments here and through email - each one has made my day!  And I'm not kidding about blister advice - please share!


New World Record - 2:57:34 at Zoom! Yah! Yah! indoor marathon

What a great experience, made not by the run itself (which was a little painful, imagine that), but completely by the crowd that assembled to help get me there.

I am truly blessed.

Race recap (don't worry, I won't do it lap-by-lap!)
I met Matt Eckberg, a 2:43 finisher at this fall's Chicago marathon, and the rest of the crazy indoor marathoners the night before the race at packet pick-up and the pre-race meal.  Since my personal best is just a minute slower, we decided that we could help pace each other.  He found me through my blog so we communicated via email about our strategies before.  How cool is that?  This blog has brought me more contacts through the running world, more cool connections than I ever imagined when I started it.  We decided that we'd come through the half in about 2:55 pace (neither of us had any idea what an indoor marathon would feel like) and then pick it up from there if we felt good, slow it down from there if we needed to.

The pre-race meal was fabulous, btw.  All you can eat at Olaf's cafeteria.  Although, not so much fun when you truly can't eat all you want :).  I did sneak a bite or two of cream cheese carrot cake and a bite of chocolate chip cookie.  Yummm :).  I'm not shooting for the Olympic Trials standard yet, so totally legal on the cheating for the time being!

Dick did a great job going through the "you should knows", introduced some of the runners/volunteers (including me, which was really nice of him, so that everyone knew I was shooting for the record).  Dick is so great.  If you haven't met him, you must.  For those of you have, you know what I mean :).

On to race morning:  5:00 wake up call for a 6:30 race start.  I went for the single breakfast again.  Single breakfast, you're asking?  I've typically been up twice for 2 rounds of breakfast - typically falling back asleep in between.  This is mostly because 1. I like to sleep as late as possible, and eating a lot close to the marathon start isn't smart, and 2. Because I know I need to have quite a bit in me to keep me fueled (now I know why - I don't burn any fat when I run/race).  At CIM, I decided to try eating just once, but was hungry early on as I didn't have my first gel on the course until mile 7. This time, I wanted to try taking more gels earlier - and I definitely like this approach.  I took my first gel at mile 4 and I feel like that was perfect.  I also tried taking a caffeine pill before hand.  The elite marathon nutrition study forwarded to me via this blog mentioned 3 men's typical caffeine regime and noted they take 60% of their caffeine before the race starts.  I figured today was as good of a day as any to try a few new things!

The rest of my routine was exactly the same:  1st warm up (slow) with 30 mins to go, bathroom stop, change into shoes/race stuff.  Eat part of banana, run second short warm up at a slightly faster pace and last bathroom stop.  Then off to grab my gel and secure my spot on the start line!  I have that system down pretty well :).  It pays to have a plan!

And surprise!  Jerry came!!
Jerry the genius :)

Then, the race:  Oh, my...  Luckily, I had Matt to run with for more than half way.  We had planned to switch off the lead every 15 minutes or so, but he had a 4ish second gap on me at 30 minutes.  I knew we were running slightly faster than the 3:00 pace I wanted to start at (then warm down to 2:55 pace) so was content to run in 3rd or 4th place.  It's hard to know what to do in places like this... do you run a little faster than your goal so that you have company along the way?  After about an hour, whenever Matt would gap me by a bit Jerry would encourage me to try to close the gap.  "Company is a good thing!", he'd cheer.  And in this case, I feel, more than most other instances, that was totally true.

Nate was so great in reminding me to eat and drink.  In a normal marathon you have water stops reminding you to take something.  Here there are 4 tables with your bottles on them but because they're tucked in the corners it's super easy to forget about them, even though there are technically SIX HUNDRED water stations.  Plus, you're so concentrated on just zoning out and just RUNNING (and no mile markers to spark the reminder that: Oh! First gel at mile 4!) that I would have completely forgot to eat until it was way too late.  Pretty sure Matt thought my husband was a little crazy when he was pointing out my gels, telling me to take water now, etc, but oh, so necessary.  

I'm not sure where Matt and I became separated - he dropped back at maybe 1:45 or so?  After that it was a little lonely.  I actually felt great that that point.  I remember thinking to myself, "Great!  You're not even using your lungs yet!".  I felt efficient, effortless, and fluid.  I love running and how free I feel doing it :).  But then, perhaps just to make me earn this marathon, I started to notice a large blood blister forming on the ball of my left foot.  You know, those ones where you can feel the liquid moving around when you step on it?  I looked down to see some blood on my shoe.  Super.

From about 2:00-2:30, the effortless feeling disappeared and was replaced by a "I'd SO like to stop" feeling.  Every turn (4 per lap, people - and they're sharp!) hurt because you were pivoting hard on that blistered foot.  There will be some ugly grimace pictures during this portion of the marathon.  I also became a little dizzy.  I have had this problem a lot, although have controlled it better in previous marathons, and know I need to be careful when this comes on.  I wondered if it was due to the heat (heaters in the building came on at 8:00, and although just 60 degrees, it feels warm compared to the 10ish degrees I've been training in). I dumped a little water over my head.  I know it's also likely energy related.  Because I was drinking more than I typically do, I purposefully skipped one of my gels and only ate a half of another (I have come to respect that full-but not sloshing around-stomach feel in a marathon and know when I need to curb the intake or risk stomach pain).  Maybe this was also partially the cause?  Or could have been the hundred plus laps I'd already run, ha!

At 2:30 the blister popped.  Ahh, bliss!  Anyone that's experienced this knows what I'm talking about.  At that point, though, there was just 25 short minutes left.  Nate yelled at me that I was risking the 3 hour mark by my recent blister-slowed/dizzier laps.  At that point, blister-free and non-dizzy thanks to a recent gel, I was good to go.  No more of those 73-77 second laps (72 seconds = 3 hour pace) - I was back to my 70-71 second normal.  Nice.  I love that rhythm you can find in a marathon, how bad can turn to good.  Just remember that the next time you're hurting.  It isn't always permanent, don't give up hope.

Oh, man - just finished.  Can you tell?
Jerry came into action with 12 laps to go.  At first, I had no idea what he was trying to tell me.  With 11 to go, the light bulb went off.  11 TO GO!  Anyone that's never done a indoor marathon has no idea how wonderful of a phrase that is.  Just 2 miles!  Eeek!!!! I can DO this!  I can!  I looked forward to seeing him every lap - he was so excited to give me the latest countdown.

On lap 8 to go, a wonderful man named David hopped in and asked me if he could do a half lap at my speed just to see what it felt like.  I think at that point I was running around 70s (Jerry can confirm or call my bluff), so no small feat for someone that was running a 3:30 marathon and still had a good 45 mins to go.  I was SO happy for the proposal though!  At the half lap, I asked if he could carry me through two laps.  He thought for a minute and said, "Yeah - I think I can only do two, but I could do that!".  So he generously took lane two and lead me through two laps.  Actually, now that I think about it, he may have been the pace change to sub-70s.  He made the world of difference - because he delivered me to the lap mark with just 6 to go.  Just over a mile.

Which leads me to an aside:  do you know how happy it makes me to meet so many selfless runners?  People willing to help me, pace me, aid me in my pursuits?  The men at CIM who formed the best wind block imaginable for those 35 mph headwinds (just tuck in!), David who worked his tail off to make that last portion more do-able, Chick (Northfield runner) who was the best at moving in/being aware of where I was at during the race to help give me the best line, Craig and Brian and Brendan who are willing to do whatever is on my crazy training plan?!?  To ALL of the people who came to cheer me on (probably at least 1/3 of the entire spectator field)?!?  I know I say this a lot, but it is completely true, and I tear up as I write this.  I means SO much to me, and has made this journey possible and that much more fun.  Honestly.  I can not thank each and every one of you enough.  I can not wait to repay each of your support 1000% (or more) as I start to mentor other runners, help others with their dreams, and eventually live through the lives, endeavors, and goals of others by coaching.  I hope you can feel the sincerity and power in what I'm writing.

But... there are still 6 laps to go!  They were glorious.  I thought about the 1000s that Slaine and I had done a week and a half ago.  You did that, and your lungs were working twice as hard as now!  You can pick it up!  At 3 to go, I went.  Just 1000m to go at that point.

The last lap was just awesome.  The entire crowd cheered my name, Slaine was leaned as far forward as possible, screaming :).  There is nothing like being cheered on like this!  Nate, smartly, reminded me to raise my hands as I passed (knowing me, I would have forgotten!).  I did, crossing the line in a new 11 minute indoor world record of 2:57:34.

*I must take the time for a brief aside to mention that I know this is an obsure world record, and I in NO way think that I am a world class runner.  I am just merely the fastest crazy woman to run an indoor marathon! :)

Now, the aftermath.  My foot is pretty torn up.  I've had my share of blisters and lost toenails, but this one takes the cake.  A world record size blister for a world record indoor time?  Seems fitting :)  Pictures below.  I really apologize.  What was most impressive was the flesh cells that worked themselves through my sock and shoe to form a glob on the outside of my flats (see the "B" on the shoes).  Sorry to have made you lose your lunch.

Nice, eh?
Note size in relation to my hand/rest of foot :).  Toes are swollen too, not sure what that's about.

And I promise, these are the ONLY flats that I have found that I don't blister in during a (normal) marathon!  So this is in NO way shape or form representative of the Brooks T7.  I promise.  It does represent how your feet respond to running 150 laps on a square-ish track :).

I have to admit that I broke out in a whole-body cold sweat when the medical doc at the race cut the dead skin away from my foot.  I am such a wimp when it comes to blood and medical things when it's my own body!  Seriously, it's just the thought of it... it doesn't hurt an ounce.  Thank you to Slaine for telling me a story and distracting me so I wouldn't pass out during the "procedure".  Nate said I looked pretty green when the doc took out his scissors. [okay to shake your head at me, I know this is pathetic!]

Jerry and I talked afterwards.  I started by saying, "I'm going to have to work really, really hard for that 2:43 this fall".  (Said with a big smile)  Because it's true.  That's 15 MINUTES faster than today.  Jerry reminds me that although this is a 2:57, it was a 6 minute win over a true 2:43 marathoner, and the third place runner (who I beat by 10 mins) is a 2:50 marathoner.  So even though the time was slow, it isn't representative of the effort put in. 
I know I am capable, but know that it'll have to be an all-in effort like it was for the 2012 Trials standard and like I was for New York this fall.  We are going to have to be smarter, work my weaknesses, strengthen my strengths, etc.  Today was the perfect end to a rough fall racing season. It'll force some true down time (I am not allowed to run on this foot until it is HEALED.  There is no way I want it to become infected, cause a limp, alter my stride, cause a string of other injuries, etc).  And I honestly need some mental downtime to help me get that fire back.  It'll be a long journey from now until October, one that takes ultimate dedication and a mental attitude in love with giving it 100%.  I also need some physical downtime.

But, before I scheme about the next two cycles, what I'll do better, more/less of, etc, I'll end this (in the off-chance that you've made it this entire way through this novel of a post!).  Plus, I need to move on to a celebratory greasy cheeseburger, fries, and a drink!!

[More pictures added as they're sent to me - we desperately need a new camera, all of ours are just a blur.  Advice on ones to look at?  Luckily Slaine's dad is the BEST photographer and captured the race via his lens.  Can't tell you how excited I am about that!]

Onward to 2013 (and really, the 2016 Trials :))!

Thank you all, again. :)


Welcoming the new year!

Guess it's time for an obligatory post recapping last year and ringing in the new year, right?

Let's start with what I learned in 2012:

Nutrition:  Where do I start?  Donna helped me peg a "number" to target, how to divide that amongst meals and snacks, when to have those meals/calories, and what ratios to target.  I slowly (very...) but surely became leaner - and it was so much easier in the past!  Now, I still have a bit to learn, as I'm trying to teach my body to burn fat vs. 100% carbs - how to do that, how important is it?,  etc.  I've also learned that I should be targeting a racing weight of about 3 pounds lighter than in the past.  Uff.  But, I know I can do it - just have to keep it structured and simple.  Food as fuel!

My support team continues to amaze:
Jerry is a rock star.  Nuff said :)  Nate too, for putting up with all of my dreaming, constant rambling about learning this, how I'm feeling, this race vs. that race, etc :).  Dr. P for keeping me healthy.  My sponsors, including CW-X, carb-Boom!, and Just Food - and the new additions to the team, Brooks and Anytime Fitness.  I would not be where I'm at today without them.

Training Plan Thoughts:
Mileage is very, very good for me.  Lower mileage and workouts consisting of 200 and 400m repeats, not so good.

I need to bring down mileage week 10 of the Daniels plan (i.e. 10 weeks out from the marathon).  I always end up breaking down after this week and I think it's because the "recovery" week is a little too high in mileage.  Perhaps I need to look at a recovery 10-12 day recovery "week" at that point in the cycle.  I've actually thought about adopting a rolling 9-10 day "week" anyway (Hansons does this), we will see.

Speaking of training plan edits: In looking back at the end of my best 6 weeks of training ever, which were followed by about 4 weeks of my worst - I now recognize that at least a part of that was the fact that even though I'm feeling good on any one particular week, I need to stick to the paces given.  Granted, you need to challenge yourself in order to get better - but the overall plan is written to be a big enough challenge.  If you're pushing too hard, too often, you'll just end up tired and slower.  Easier said than done... sometimes it is SO nice to take one of those confidence-boosting bust-out-a-fast one workouts :).  Maybe the answer is you can take ONE, every once in a while, but they have to be infrequent enough to prevent fatigue.

Another big factor to those worse 4 weeks was not managing sleep and stress as well as I could have.

It's all mental:
Your mind can do wonderful things for you, both in workouts and during racing.  Don't believe me?  Call Dr. Asp, have him create a personalized visualization CD.  Then see what you think.

Now... on to 2013!

2013 Goals (no particular order):
1.  Set a new 5k PR (currently 17:27).  I know I can do this.  My goal would be something in the 17:1x's.  Linda Keller from U of MN Morris will be running 1, if not 2, races outdoor at GAC this spring, so maybe we can work together like we did for the aforementioned PR (Set at GAC in 2012).  Is it sad that I am very, very excited to do so in a new pair of Brooks spikes?  Maybe it's because I am still running in my very first pair of spikes from 8th grade.  Not kidding.  Nike Zoom Country's.  They weigh as much as some of my trainers, no joke :).  Something about the visual of running fast in a shiny new pair of racers really excites me!!
2.  Win a marathon, go for a course record.  Fargo Marathon, baby!  Current CR is 2:41:5x.  It'll obviously take a day of great weather (and with my record recently, the chances of that are slim...), great legs, and a great block of training, but I think I could make it happen!  (the win part... have to see who toes the line!)
3.  Grab my ticket into the 2016 Olympic Trials this fall (sub 2:43 - will likely run conservatively to try to be just under it - no huge PR goals here!).  This is my BIG goal for 2013.  If none of the above except this happens, I would be one HAPPY girl :)  Chicago, I'm thinking... but if I'm strong enough to think I could run it on TCM's course, I would love nothing more than to earn it on my home course with family and friends watching.  We shall see!!
4.  IF I can run my OTQ early in the fall, and IF NYC would be willing to have me back, I'd love to take advantage of their offer and experience the NYC professional division's race.
5.  Then, perhaps time to take a break for a little bit.  As in, Lauren Fleshman style?! (oh, scary, did I just say that out loud??)
6.  SLEEP.  This means cutting out the crap that I sometimes waste too much energy on.  Like facebook and twitter.  Like reading blogs (sigh).  Like trying to find the best deal on things I'm buying (I spend far too long trying to save a dollar or two).  Rely on Nate for a few more of the household things and errands (I really LIKE running errands, though...). Focus on the task at hand at work so I can move on from things quickly.  
7.  Further figure out the nutrition thing. I actually find this sort of fascinating and love learning more about the topic.  Try to eat as naturally as possible.  Use weekend "date nights" to cook fun, wholesome, and natural foods.  (Nate is jumping up and down at the prospect of this... He is so glad he married someone SO exciting!)  Work on (sanely) getting to race weight.  Get rid of as many packaged things around the house as possible. 
8.  Figure out a good balance between "the little things" (i.e. nutrition, stretching, flexibility, hydration, plyos, massage, strength).  You can obviously over think ALL of these, and there is a point of huge diminishing returns.  Of all the little things I do, I could probably cut out some and sleep more and I'd be better off - so I'll keep working on that balance.
9.  Non-running related: continue to work on the house (it desperately needs paint, decor, or SOMETHING (or lots of things) to give it character). Read at least one good book (really read, not just audio books to/from work) (yes, one - I would rather accomplish these goals and take pride in it that than fall short).  Paint my ugly toenails more often to spare people having to look at them.  Return the support Nate gives me every day.  Learn how to cook without setting things on fire and creating a complete disaster of our kitchen :).  Laugh a little more.  [Yeah, these are not "SMART" goals - I'm okay with that, you should be too]
10.  Most of all, above all else, find fun in training and racing every day, testing limits, and encouraging others to do the same!!  I want to be able to look back and say that I've given it my all - and there's no better way than by having a plan, sticking too it, and being jazzed up by the prospects of what it will bring months from now.  Let's go get it!

Any other goals I should add?