Week 2 and meet Seamus…

How on Earth am I already done with Week 2 of my 18 week training cycle?  I think I said this last year when I was training for VCM ’15, but MY GOD does time speed up the moment one starts training for a marathon.  Despite a few moments of self-doubt this past week, I am actually really happy about how Week 2 went down.  One of the great things about being Type A logging my training in a Google Doc and on this blog and in my Believe Training Journal and probably on Facebook and Instagram too is that I can compare where I am at running-wise now to where I was a year ago.  After a thorough analysis, I have determined that I am actually right on track.

As I alluded to above, I recently purchased Lauren Fleshman’s Believe Training Journal.  I have wanted this thing for SO long, and I am so glad I bit the bullet and bought it.  The Believe Training Journal is basically every former-angsty-teenage-journal-writer-now-adult-that-loves-running-and-talking-about-it’s dream come true.  If you had trouble reading the previous sentence, don’t worry, so did I.  Lauren Fleshman is my spirit animal.

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I would show you the inside, but then you would know who I have a crush on my innermost running feelings.

Well let’s jump right to it, shall we?

MONDAY – 7.65 miles w/ 10 X 100 meter strides + cool-downs = 9 miles total

Believe it or not, this was my first time officially doing strides!  I LOVE STRIDES!  MORE STRIDES!  STRIDES AND HEALTHCARE FOR ALL!  In addition to discovering my love for strides, I rediscovered my hate for ice and almost dying during Monday’s run.

TUESDAY – Strength Training Adventure – Wanted to skip my strength routine SOOOOOO badly, but I sucked it up and I’m glad I did.  +1 for Shannon’s glutes!

WEDNESDAY – Due to inclement weather* and an inability to stop yawning, I decided to switch Wednesday’s 10 miler with Thursday’s planned rest/cross training day.  To be perfectly honest, I felt like a complete failure when I went to bed Wednesday night.

THURDSAY – The thing about marathon training is that it is relentless; yes, occasionally a workout can be moved from one day to another, but at some point you just gotta put in the miles and get ‘er done.  After I wrapped up work on Thursday I wanted nothing more than to go home and put on my sock monkey pajamas, but I had already postponed my 10 miler from Wednesday to Thursday.  So, I did what any self-respecting 30 year old would do and put my sock monkey pajamas on after I busted out 10 pretty-good miles.

FRIDAY – 5 recovery miles – Weirdly, this was the only run of the week in which my shin/calf hurt.  At some point during the run, I decided to name my shin/calf pain “Seamus” because referring to an ache as “Seamus” is a lot less scary than referring to an ache as “a possible stress fracture and season ending injury.”  Get out of town, Seamus!

SATURDAY – 13.1 mile long run – Not much to say other than despite sore EVERYTHING, I managed to negative split this run big time.  My plan called for 13 miles, but obviously I added the extra .1 because I like it when my Garmin congratulates me on a new record.  😀

SUNDAY – Long walk with the yellow monster and my her tennis ball.  I probably should have done some strength training today, but I’d rather eat liquefied cheese with chips while watching funny commercials.  (Note to self: more strength next week!  These glutes don’t work for free!)

Total Miles = 37.1

* Fun fact: I have not run on the treadmill since last summer (I know, who am I and what have I done to Shannon?) and I have a secret (well I guess it’s not a secret now!) goal of not running on the treadmill for the entirety of my VCM training cycle.  If winter decides to actually pay Vermont a visit, I may have to reassess this plan.  However, I will say that I have become MUCH tougher when it comes to running outside during the winter.  Aside from one comically cold and windy run a couple weeks ago, I’ve actually enjoyed braving the elements to get my run on.  A little negative degree weather with 30 mph winds never hurt anyone!  (Actually, that statement is probably the opposite of true.)

With 2 weeks down and 16 weeks to go, I am pleasantly surprised with the state of my endurance.  Three weeks ago, 10 miles seemed like an ultra marathon.  Today?  Not so much.  However, I’m still impatiently waiting for the return of my ability to run fast (for me).  The word on the street* is that my B-12 levels are very, very low.  I’ve started taking a supplement and I’m hopeful that I’ll feel less huffy-and-puffy in the coming weeks.

*And by street I mean doctor.

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The most comfortable post-workout attire there ever was!

Until next time,

S

Back at it.

The theme of this past week was eat all the cheeseburgers “cautiously optimistic.”  If you had asked me a couple weeks ago about my expectations for Week 1 of VCM training, I probably would have rolled my eyes middle-school style.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I am sorta really out of shape.  Yes, I have been running, but a few road blocks have impeded my ability to run like Shalane a slightly above-average hobby jogger.  In no particular order:

1) My lower left leg has been quite the grumposaurus.  For several months now, I have been feeling aches and pains in just about every part of my leg below the knee.  For example, I had to back out of a turkey trot at the last minute because my ankle decided to stop working that morning.  Stopped working as in I couldn’t even walk.  A couple days later, my ankle resumed working just as quickly as it decided to take a vacation probably to somewhere warm since Vermont gets cold that time of year.  Eventually, the pain decided to settle in on a small spot along my interior shin.  This particular injury is not new to me, so I immediately* made an appointment with a sports medicine doc to get checked for a stress fracture.

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“My, what shapely calves you have!” said nobody.

*And by immediately, I mean I ran through the pain for several weeks before making an appointment.

Of course the x-ray didn’t show anything, because they never do, so the very nice doctor who showed me how to do squats, which was weird, ordered a bone scan.  Several days later I was shot up with radioactive material and scanned.

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Here I am!  Wearing my hat backwards, per the ush.

Several days after that I received the results.  No stress fracture!  Hurrah!  Just a lot of inflammation in my lower left leg.  I can deal with inflammation, which is why I’m cautiously optimistic.  In fact, I already have been dealing with it – through strength exercises, compression, stretching, foam rolling – and the pain has already diminished to pretty much a 1 on the scale of no pain to HELP ME I AM DYING!  The tennis ball is definitely my best friend when it comes to massaging the sore spots.  Unfortunately, the tennis ball is also someone else’s best friend.

2) In keeping with the theme of getting checked out by doctors prior to beginning marathon training, I decided to pay a visit to my GP to get my iron levels checked.  For a variety of reasons including the fact that I have been very huffy and puffy, I suspect that I am anemic again.  [Insert angry noise here.]  I had my blood drawn last week and results are TBA.

3) Just like a certain yellow very fluffy friend I know, I have put on some winter weight.  Five to ten pounds may not seem like a lot to hippopotamuses, but the extra weight definitely slows me down a bit.  I’m hopeful that the weight will melt off as my mileage increases.  I’m also trying to cut down on delicious things, which does not make the Shannon very happy.  😦

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A few extra neck rolls never hurt anyone.

So now that I have discussed all of the negatives, let’s turn to the positives!  Given all of the above, Week 1 of VCM Training went amazingly well.  In the past I have followed a mashup training plan best described as the “Things Shannon Found on the Internet that have to do with Training for a Marathon Plan.”  This time around I am switching things up from the aforementioned world-renowned plan and following one of the plans from the book “Advanced Marathoning.”  I will do my best to follow the plan to a tee, with the exception that I will need to veer from the plan to accommodate races and a trip to Ireland.

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Don’t worry, I plan on running while in Ireland.  I also plan on shaving my legs.

Here is the official Week 1 Recap:

Monday – 2 up, 4 at tempo, 2 down = 8 total – Felt swell

Tuesday – Strength Training Adventure – OW

Wednesday – 9 easy miles – Felt not swell

Thursday – Rest day – I planned on cross training, but I had a bunch of errands to do whomp whomp.

Friday – 4.12 recovery miles – I am attempting to get over my fear of ending a run on a random number – Plus strength

Saturday – 12.6 mile long run – Felt great, but I picked a horrible route.  I ran on Rt. 2 (busy, paved road) because a combination of snow, warm temps, and freezing temps made the less-traveled dirt roads impassable.  Well, the shoulder on Rt. 2 was NOT plowed and I nearly became roadkill on numerous occasions.  In addition to my leggies, my middle finger also got a good workout.

Sunday – No running today, but Basil and I will likely go on an adventure later and I may do some strength training.

Total Miles = 33.72

Only 17 more weeks to go!

See ya next week.

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My stretching buddy.  She is so helpful.

 

 

I am alive.

You can all breath easy now.  Cancel those funeral plans, I am alive and well.  Why did I fall off the face of planet Earth, you ask?  My answer is three-fold:

1) Shortly after posting about week 1 of training for the Marine Corps Marathon, I lost my marathon training mojo, and in turn my desire to blog about marathon training.  Why did I lose my mojo?  I’m not sure exactly.  Probably due to training and race fatigue, and several other factors that I will not discuss on the Internet because I would like to run for President some day (just kidding, Vice President will do).  VCM was pretty much my 3rd back-to-back marathon training cycle.  I am not one of those crazy people who can handle running 42 marathons per year.  Running zillions of miles takes a lot out of me.  Thus*, when it came time to start training for MCM last summer, I had zero desire to run far or fast.  My body was perfectly content to run 3-6 turtley miles a few times per week.  (FYI: “Turtley” is a technical term that refers to running at an easy pace.  It’s in the dictionary.  Look it up.)  I tried to ramp up my mileage and insert in some speed work, but I just wasn’t feeling it.  Finally, in late August after a 12 mile slog-fest, I asked myself, “Self, why are you ‘training’ for a marathon when it is the last thing on Earth you want to be doing?”  Upon realizing that I was not able to answer my own question, I promptly deferred my registration for MCM.  I run because I love it and enjoy eating copious amounts of food.  As my good friends Ben and Jerry would say, if it’s not fun why do it?

* UGH, I am such a lawyer.

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Ya know what is fun? Going to DC anyway because your plane tickets are nonrefundable and drinking overpriced beverages at the W rooftop bar whilst spying on President Obama and Basil’s bff Bo.  MCM 2016 here I come!

2) I started a new job!  I’m still a lawyer doing lawyerly things except now the candy store is a whole 2 blocks away instead of right around the corner.  Okay, so this is probably the lamest reason for abandoning http://www.shannonsalembier.com.  (I purchased my own domain name!  Children, dreams really do come true.)  My hours are still pretty much the same (maybe slightly longer) and my commute only increased by 30 seconds or so.

3) Um, I swear I had three reasons when I started this list.

Fortunately, after months of turtely runs, I think I got my mojo back.  A couple weeks ago, I started increasing my mileage in preparation for the beginning of VCM training.  I’ve lost a lot of fitness and consumed a lot of cookies over the last few months, so I know I have a lot of work to do.  My easy pace is pretty much an entire minute per mile slower than it was 6 months ago.  The good news?  After just 3 weeks of running with purpose, I am already feeling zippier.

I also got this bad boy for my birthday and I’m pretty sure it will turn me into an Olympian:

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Hello!  Is it me you’re looking for? I can see it in your eyes; I can see it in your smile; you’re all I’ve ever wanted; and my arms are open wide; ’cause you know just what to say; and you know just what to do; and I want to tell you so much; I love you.

I’ll try to update this thing more often.  I will certainly be back in full force once VCM training begins.

Over and out.

 

 

MCM Training Week 1 Recap!

My 16 week training cycle for the Marine Corps Marathon began on Monday, July 6th.  Given that my body is still mildly protesting the agony fun-fest-of-joy that I put it through less than 2 months ago at VCM, I have decided to gently* ease back into marathon training mode rather than jump in head (feet?) first.

* I plead insanity with respect to what happened on Saturday and Sunday.

So now for the official Week 1 Recap!  Note on paces (or lack of thereof) – I find it easy to get sucked into the comparison trap when bloggers post their training paces for every freakin run.  Therefore, I will not post about my training paces unless my pace is somehow crucially important to whatever nonsense I’m blogging about.

Week 1

Monday – Lunch: 4 x 800 + warmup/cool-downs = 3.75 miles / Evening: Legs & Core

Tuesday –  4 miles road/trails (was supposed to be easy, but I found myself huffing and puffing on the hills)  / Arms & Core

Wednesday – 4 X 400 + warmup/cool-downs = 4 miles

Thursday  – 5.39 miles on mostly trails (lots of hills! gah!) / Arms & Core

Friday – 2 miles super easy on the dreadmill / Core

Saturday – Bear Swamp Run!  (Masochistic 5.7 miles) + Warmup = 6.5 miles

Sunday – Stowe 8 Miler!  (distance self-explanatory, no warmup or cool-down because I was already sweating before the race began I planned to run at an easy pace)

Total: 33.64 miles (Trying not to freak out about the .64.)

My mileage was not as high as it was for Week 1 of VCM training, but that’s OK!  I want to do things a bit differently this time around.  My training cycle for MCM will hopefully include:

  • Less junk miles and more meaningful miles.  I actually hate the term “junk” mile so I don’t know why I just used it.  Running is running.  However, when I was training for VCM, I found myself slogging through slow blah miles just to reach my magical weekly mileage number.  This time around, I’d like to run more miles with purpose, even if that means running lower mileage overall.
  • To elaborate on the above bullet-point, more speed-work and tempo runs!  The plan is to do speed-work at least once a week (preferably on the track), and run at tempo speed at least once a week as well (if I have a race, that will likely count as my tempo run).  Equally important, easy/recovery runs will be easy!  No more of this pretending-my-pace-is-easy-when-I-am-clearly-out-of-breath crap.
  • I know I’ve said this before, but more strength training!  I will shoot for legs 3X/weeks, arms 3X/week, and core 5X/week.  No slacking.
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This is how I know I will have made progress.

So you may be questioning my life decisions wondering about the two races I ran this past weekend.  The Bear Swamp Run is a Central Vermont Runners race that is 5.7 miles long and SUPER hilly.  Despite its name, I did not see any bears during the race.  😦  I may have seen a swamp, although I cannot be sure because I was mostly on the lookout for bears.  Here is the elevation profile:

Elevation Profile for Bear Swamp.
Just looking at this picture is giving me PTSD.

I checked out the elevation profile ahead of time, but for some reason I did not think it would be that bad.  Well, it was that bad.  I’m sure the heat and humidity didn’t do me any favors as well.  I knew going into the race that I am not in shape to run like the wind, so my plan was to run strong and have fun.  Unfortunately, I felt pretty crappy for the entirety of the race.  My fun level was at about a 2 on the running fun-ness scale (goes from 1-10, obviously), and that was only because I enjoyed chatting/hanging with my fellow runners.  Had I been competing against a bunch of un-fun people such as post apocalyptic zombies I probably would have been at a 1 on the fun-ness scale. 

Previously in the week, I had received an email offering free entry into the Stowe 8 Miler for CVR members also running and/or volunteering at Bear Swamp.  This seemed like a good idea at the time.  [Spoiler alert!  Not a good idea.]  However, I woke up slightly sore on Sunday from the above-mentioned mountain hill.  Nonetheless, I was not too worried because I planned all along to use the Stowe 8 Miler as my long run, therefore running no faster than an 8:45ish pace.  That probably would have been perfectly manageable had the race not taken place in the inner core of the Earth in 85 degree/humid weather.  While I managed to stay under 9:00/mi, I felt like I was going to die from heat stroke the entire time.  It was clear from the carnage around me that I was not the only one on the brink of death.

See that pink and blue blog in the background?  That is me, melting.
See that pink and blue blob in the background?  That is me, melting.  [Also, you’re welcome EORC man.  You are now famous.]
Ah well, what doesn’t kill me makes me want to live in a hole in which the soil is likely cool and dark and there are cute animals such as groundhogs makes me stronger, right?  On to week 2!

Injury Scare

PSA: I started this post last Sunday, but didn’t get around to finishing it until today (Thursday), so I apologize if the timing doesn’t make sense!  I am on vacation and under the influence of margaritas so procrastination is the name of the game.

***

As far my running hobby (obsession?) goes, the last year has been fantastic.  PRs!  Sub-4 marathons!  Love!  Rainbows!  Puppies!  Aside from a tight calf here and there, the Running Gods have spared me from suffering from any real running-related injures.  Well, ladies and gentlemen, I have some terrible, awful, no good, very bad news.  One week ago, I experienced my first DNF since the VCM salmonella incident of 2014.  At the Paul Mailman 10 miler, I was forced to drop due to a stabbing pain in my right buttocks.  Yes, I am discussing my buttocks on the interwebs.  Yes, my colleagues read this blog.  (Hello!)

Before you reach for the tissues and buy me get well soon presents such as brownies and/or chocolate chip cookies (I will also accept gummy bears), this sob story has a happy ending.  So please keep your tears inside your head for the time being.  If you want to cry happy tears, please do not hesitate to do so but know that I will be judging you.  The story starts on May 29th.  On that day, I volunteered at the Central Vermont Kids Track Meet, a.k.a. the most adorable event in the history of events except for the puppy bowl.  

I die.
I die.  I want to take them all home with me in a non-creepy way.

In between corralling tiny exhausted humans into straight lines and asking them their names (I imagine it would have been easier to convince a pride of lions to dance in a circle whist singing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”), I happened to mention to a fellow volunteer that I had a sporadic stabbing pain in my right butt cheek.  Since I was only 5 days out from the marathon, I was not very concerned with aforementioned butt cheek pain.  However, my fellow volunteer happens to be a Physical Therapist and world champion Iron Woman.  Ya know, just the usual sort of person.  She mentioned that I may have piriformis pain/syndrome/evilness, which I filed away in my head next to future yellow lab puppy names before resuming management of my herd of adorable tiny runners.

Fast forward a couple of weeks.  In the interim, I resumed running; no real issues except for legs made of lead; lots of trails and bears; probably jinxed myself by writing a post about how I was going to run nothing but trails.  Well, two Fridays ago, as in June 19th, I was frolicking through the woods on one my favorite trails when OW OW OW OW OW.  The right butt cheek pain was back, and it was back with a vengeance.  I attempted to limp through the rest of my run, but the pain was noticeably altering my gait.  I made my way back to car and drove home, where I proceeded to attack my butt and other muscles with a tennis ball.

Rolled out
Torture for both of us.

Due to Friday’s butt cheek pain, I did not run on Saturday.  I may have returned to Kettle Pond for a 3 mile walk with my favorite human and favorite non-human, but as a friendly reminder, there are bears at Kettle Pond so you should not go there under any circumstances.  During the mild inclines (as in, I stepped over a rock), my right butt cheek was NOT happy.  I dealt with the situation in a perfectly healthy manner by pretending that my right butt cheek was completely fine.

The next morning, I woke up bright and early to volunteer at the registration table for the Paul Mailman 10 miler.  I had also tentatively planned to run the race if my post-marathon legs felt up to it.  (This plan was formed prior to right butt cheek pain.  Obviously the plan changed considerably after right butt cheek pain.  On opposite day.)  To make a long story short, I stupidly toed the line and promptly realized that 10 miles was not in the cards.  Did I drop out right away?  Of course not!  That would have been wise!  Instead, I ran like a wounded horse for 2.5 miles before informing a course marshal that I would be turning around thankyouverymuch.  I then proceeded to wallow in self-pity for the remainder of the day.

What is a sad runner girl to do?
Wearing my marathon medal and snuggling with #snugglesaurus cures even the bluesiest of blues.

You may be wondering, where is the happy ending in this tale of woe?  Well, after a week of rest and a PT session, I am back to running pain free!  Apparently, my silly right butt cheek has been utilizing my piriformis muscle when it should be using my much stronger gluteus maximus muscle.  The good news is that my PT confirmed that this is not a strength issue.  My glute max is very strong, she informed me.  In other words, I have buns of steal.  No surprise there.  She showed me a few exercises I need to do in order to activate the right muscle.  So far, the exercises are working.  KNOCK ON AN EXTREMELY BIG PIECE OF WOOD SUCH AS A TREE.

The not so great news is that between marathon recovery and an injury scare, I have lost a lot of fitness.  However, as someone who has been forced to take months off due to injuries, I am just grateful to be able to run.  Even if running results in the consumption (and wearing) of lots of bugs.

I will
Protein.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to drinking margaritas vacation.

Exciting Newsflash!

Remember when I was rejected from not one, but two marathons?  Well yesterday, I was asked by a very awesome running colleague whether I wanted her sister’s friend’s or maybe some other person’s (does it really matter?) spot in the Marine Corps Marathon!  Aside from this little race called the Boston Marathon, MCM has been on the top of my bucket list ever since I discovered the joy of running 26.2 miles a little over 2 years ago.  Well, as of 8:42 this morning, all logistical hurdles have been hurdled and I am officially registered for the 40th Marine Corps Marathon on October 25, 2015!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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In case you are curious as to what Basil and I will be doing later today.

More details to come.

Recovery, trails, and running uphill for 2 miles!

First of all, a big thank to the Vermont City Marathon for posting the link to my little blog on its Facebook page.  Basically, I am famous now, so I can retire.  Goodbye.

Just kidding!  Really got ya there, huh?  However, the pressure is on to keep my interwebs friends up to date on my running adventures!  The first update is more of a non-update.  As you may recall if you are one of my loyal readers, I mentioned in my last post that I would be running the Capital City Stampede 10K.  I was really, really, really ^ 999 looking forward to this race, but I decided against it at the last minute.  Despite my earlier claims that I would “take it easy,” I know myself well enough to know that I would have charged out of the gate at lightening speed, realized my legs were made of lead, and drowned myself in the Winooski River injured myself.  There will be many 10Ks, but I only have 2 legs.  I need to take care of these puppies!

The good news is that 21 days after the marathon (hard to believe), I am finally beginning to feel like my legs are not made of lead.  To celebrate this development, I have been frolicking through the woods without my Garmin.

Hubbard Park deliciousness.
Hubbard Park deliciousness.

For the foreseeable future, I plan to only run on trails unless I am racing on a course that is not a trail.  The reasoning behind this extremely complicated plan is five-fold: 1) Trails are awesome, 2) Trails are generally shady, 3) Trails make me stronger, 4) Trails are easier on me old bones, and 5) I have always wanted to befriend a bear.  At some point, I will probably start training for a Fall marathon and resume running on the roads, but right now I just want to run with my bear friends in the woods.  After training for a marathon for a gazillion weeks, it feels GREAT to just run when I want, where I want, and for however long I want.

Another perk to running in the woods?  Provided I carry her water (SLACKER), this little monkey gets to join me for the shorter jaunts:

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Kettle Pond. Do not go there. It is awful. There are bears.

Yesterday, Basil and I “ran” a 3 mile loop around Kettle Pond.  I put “ran” in quotes because we stopped numerous times to swim, and parts of the trail looked liked this:

While I am generally up for challenging terrain, I also happen to like my face.
While I am generally up for challenging terrain, I also happen to like my face.  (Also, polar bear.  Seriously, do not go to Kettle Pond.)

However, we managed to run about 75% of the trail, because other parts of the trail looked like this:

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Delicious single track.  Really a shame about the polar bears, though.

Upon completing the loop, Basil and I decided to take a selfie to preserve our memory in case the escaped murderers were hiding out in the Groton State Forest to commemorate one of our more fun adventures:

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Basil is obviously too cool to take a picture with her mother.  Kids these days.  :/

Oh, I should probably mention that I raced this morning!  Coined the Worcester 4 Mile Challenge, the race was more of a fun run than a race per se.  No clock, no real start/finish line (let’s start by this car, ok?), and one massive hill.  The course is an out and back and climbs ~700 ft in the first 2 miles, most of the elevation being in the second mile alone.  Out of a competitive field of 9 women in the race, I crossed the finish line in 2nd place!  Almost accomplished my goal of winning a race!  My legs are definitely still partially made of lead, but I had fun and won a really cool prize.  That’s what it’s all about, RIGHT?

Can you tell where the hill was?
Can you tell where the hill was?
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Totally worth the $10 entry fee.

I heart running.

What’s next?

After the euphoria that was the immediate aftermath of the Vermont City Marathon, I fully expected to experience a serious case of the post-marathon blues.  Luckily, I have managed to mostly avoid this completely medically recognized condition over the course of the last 10 days.  I attribute my continued happiness to the following:

  • Rest!  I did not run or do any cardio whatsoever for a full 5 days after the marathon.  During the 5 days after that, I ran 4 times for 2-3 miles each time (with the exception of one 6 miler yesterday).  I’ve used the time I would normally spend running doing relaxing things such as catching up on Teen Mom reading the Classics and giving Basil her annual bath*.  My body took a serious beating during the marathon (thank god for handicapped bars in bathrooms) and I know that an injury is just lurking around the corner waiting to pounce should I ramp back up too quickly.  While I am feeling more than good 10 days out, during yesterday’s 6 miler my legs, specifically my left calf and quad, were definitely like, “Hi!  Hello!  We are your calf and quad!  It’s so great to be here!  We are feeling feelings right now!”
  • The knowledge that I am in awesome shape just in time for racing season!  While I will certainly not be gaining any fitness while watching Teen Mom resting my weary body, I know that it will take me no time at all to get back into fighting shape.  I’m excited to see what I’m capable of once I am finished watching Teen Mom fully recovered.  (Okay, okay – enough with the Teen Mom.)
  • As a continuation of the above bullet-point (sub-bullet-point?), I am really, really, really excited about upcoming races.  While I don’t have a set schedule at the moment, and I am forbidden from registering for races in the 2-3 weeks following a marathon (analogy: grocery shopping whilst drunk), I DO plan on doing most of the Central Vermont Runners races as well as several others.  First on the agenda is the Capitol City Stampede 10k on Saturday!  Will discuss this below…

* Giving Basil a bath is actually the opposite of relaxing.  It is probably a good core workout due to all the wrangling.

She looks
She looks pretty darn cute when not thrashing around!  Also, it is not lost on me that this is not the first time I have posted a picture of yellow lab bath time.

So what’s next?  A few things.  First up, the Capitol City Stampede 10k in two days!  I love this race because it is organized by my running club (CVR what what) and it takes place right in my backyard!  However, I know that racing any distance is quite stupid 13 days after a marathon.  Therefore, my plan is to run comfortably hard and drop out/slow down if anything hurts.  I do not want to risk a season ending injury for a podunk 10k.

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Here I am running the Capitol City Stampede last year!  Did I win by landslide or lose by a landslide?  You be the judge!  (In actuality, I finished somewhere in the middle of the pack.  Gotta love small town races!)

After the Stampede at which hopefully no one gets stamped on that would be sad, I plan on running many more races in the 5k to half marathon range.  Nothing is set in stone.  I do have a few goals of both the running and sorta running/related to running variety.  Some of these goals are short-term and some are more long-term.

GOALS:

  1. Focus on strength training.  If this means cutting back on mileage to make time, so be it.  Strength training will make me a better runner and help me continue to remain injury free.  I’ve also concluded as a result of following Shalane, Kara, and Lauren on Instagram highly scientific studies that runners have arm muscles.  Given the sad state of my arms as of late, I would be happy with just one bicep.
  2. Set some PRs baby!  More specifically, I would like to:
    1. Break 22 minutes in the 5k.
    2. Break 46 minutes in the 10k.
    3. Break 1:40 in the half marathon.
    4. Break 3:35 in the marathon and qualify for Boston! (OBVIOUSLY SHMOVIOUSLY.)
  3. Run a trail race!
  4. Win a race!  I realize that this one is more dependent on the other runners in the race and less dependent on how fast I actually run.  Therefore, I need to strategically pick some completely unpopular/small-town races.  Even better, I need to sign up for a charity walk and pretend that I didn’t get the memo.  “Oh, this was a walk?  My bad!  NOW GIVE ME MY DAMN TROPHY!”

On that note, I’m going to go celebrate National Running Day a day late.

Vermont City Marathon 2015 Race Report

Well, marathon #3 is in the history books.  Filed under chapter “awesome.”  Of course, it was still a marathon, so naturally there were times when I cursed the day I was born, but all in all the 2015 Vermont City Marathon was a terrific race and yesterday was a truly great day.  I PRed by nearly 6 minutes.  I ran the entire race from start to finish – no walking whatsoever.  I finally figured out how to properly fuel for a marathon.  I successfully fought off several mental demons attempting to convince me to quit the race.  Most importantly, I crossed the finish line with my hands in the air knowing that I left it all on the course and ran my best possible race.  I could not be happier.

Someone should have told me to look up. THANKS GUYS.
Someone should have told me to look up. THANKS GUYS.  (Side note: Lady on the right with the green bib ran a 5-6 mile relay leg.  She does not deserve to have her hands in the air.)

Before I forget the details of the race and delusionally register for 8 more marathons, I want to recap it so that I remember how at mile 20 I promised myself that I never have to run another marathonA promise that will most definitely not be fulfilled.  On Saturday, I limited myself to white carbs with a little protein and very few vegetables.  My stomach felt a little wonky on Saturday night, but that was probably due to nerves.  Also due to nerves, I slept for about 2 minutes Saturday night.  Nonetheless, I popped out of bed at 5 a.m. on Sunday morning (who needs an alarm?) feeling energized and ready to go.  Breakfast consisted of a small cup of coffee, lots of water, a salt bagel with a little honey on it, and a banana.  Forty-five minutes before the race began, I ate a honey stinger waffle.  Nom nom.

After peeing 42 times, I headed to the club corral!  As evidence by the picture below, I donned my Central Vermont Runners singlet. 

This pictures also evidences that I have OCD.
Also evidenced by this picture is a raging case of pre-marathon OCD.

I started the race with a disposable bottle of Nuun in my hand.  This was a genius idea for several reasons: 1) My stomach handles Nuun better than Gatorade and I wanted to limit any solid fuel until I knew my stomach was OK; 2) I could throw away the bottle at any time; 3) I avoided the first few aid stations, which are generally pretty crowded; and 4) It was on the warm side and I tend to get pretty dehydrated early on – I am pretty sure that having my own personal water bottle to sip on completely saved me later on from hitting the wall.

As a native Burlingtonian, I know the course like the back of my hand.  I absolutely love this course.  It has just enough hills, just enough crowd support, and enough twists and turns to keep things interesting.  For the first 9 miles, I felt phenomenal.  The beltway can be a little mundane, but watching the leaders come by during the out and back section is an excellent distraction.  I purposely held myself back during the first 2-3 miles, but from miles 3-10 I was cruising.  Around mile 9.5, I picked up my 2nd bottle of Nuun from my parents and flew down Church Street, which was lined with people, including drag queens because let’s face it, this is Burlington.

I could to this all day!
Marathons are fun!  I could to this all day!  Too bad I can’t telepathically register for another marathon next weekend!

However, my feeling of weightless euphoria dissipated as soon as I reached the long slightly uphill stretch that is Pine Street.  Although I felt a slight boost when I passed the part of the course where I dropped out last year (take that, you jerk), miles 11-14 were rough.  At this point, I finally felt like I was running a marathon, and the thought of running 16-12 more miles was daunting.  I tried to “stay in the mile I was in,” but it was tough.  I hadn’t even hit Battery Street yet, which is affectionately known as “the assault on Battery,” which should give you an indication of just how monstrous it is.

This picture was taking during a very dark stretch.  Obviously my eyes are blank and I am dead inside.
This picture was taken around mile 14. Obviously my eyes are blank and I am dead inside.

I knew that at mile 14.5 I would see my parents and Colin, and receive another bottle of Nuun.  Seeing them gave me a HUGE boost.  However, after taking one swig of Nuun, I promptly tossed the bottle aside because I could not bear the thought of carrying a 16 oz. bottle up Battery Street.  In hindsight, I probably should have planted the bottle at the top of the hill.  Although I was initially dreading Battery Street, I felt surprisingly good on the hill.  I focused on pumping my arms and the downhill I knew was coming.  I told myself that I eat bigger hills for breakfast.  I slowed down just enough to conserve energy and control my breath.  I passed a bunch of people.  By the time I reached the top, I had left my funk from miles 10-14 behind.  It was probably at the bottom of the hill.  Wow, that was corny.

I felt great until about mile 17.  Miles 17-20 were hard.  (Are you sensing a theme here?)  I no longer had Nuun at my disposal, and I was beginning to feel a bit overheated.  I ran through a few sprinklers, which felt amazing.  I should probably mention that I munched on Honey Stinger chews sporadically throughout the race.  At this point, I had absolutely no desire to eat anything, but I forced a few chews down my throat now and then knowing that “the wall” was coming.  I truly considered dropping out at this point, but nothing was seriously hurting except for my soul.  I mentally ran through all of the “hard” things I had done over the past 16 weeks.  I thought about Basil.  I reminded myself that there are good miles, and there are bad miles, and just because I am in a “bad” mile does not mean that a “good” mile will never come.  (Spoiler alert: There are generally not a whole lot of “good” miles after mile 20.)

Nonetheless, when I ran over the 20 mile timing mat, any thoughts of quitting went out the window.  I also still felt “good” (relatively speaking) and I began to sense that I would avoid hitting the wall, something I have never done before.  Around mile 21.5 there was a steep downhill that made my quads scream.  But then I was on the bike path – the home stretch.  (Side note: Do not yell to marathoners at mile 21.5, “You are almost there!  On the home stretch!”  Not helpful.  No one is allowed to yell this until mile 26.19 of a marathon.)  Having run on the bike path more times than I can count, I focused on landmarks rather than mile marks.  “Just make it to Leddy, North Beach, the Dog Park…” I told myself.  I sucked down a Honey Stinger gel at mile 22.  I turned the screen of my Garmin to the time of day and just focused on running as hard as I could.  I ran through water stops, which resulted in lots of water being splashed on my face, because I worried that if I stopped to walk my legs would not be able to resume running.

FINALLY, I could hear the roar of the crowd in the Waterfront finishers area and I knew I was almost there.  I tried to pick up the pace and wipe the grimace off my face.

Oh hey there, just out for a casual stroll.  What's wrong with this guy?
Oh hey there, just out for a casual jog. What’s wrong with that guy?
Psyke!  This is how I really feel.
Psyke! This is how I really feel.  Also note that the man in the green shirt and I ran together for practically the entire race.  We are best friends now.  (Just kidding we never actually spoke to each other but obviously WE JUST GET EACH OTHER.)

There is truly nothing like running to the finish line at the Vermont City Marathon.  The crowds make you feel like you’ve won the damn race!  All of the pain and anguish goes away for a split second as you push yourself down the finisher’s chute.

The expression on my face might lead you to believe otherwise, but I SPEAK THE TRUTH.
The expression on my face might lead you to believe otherwise, but I SPEAK THE TRUTH.

And just like that, I was done.

Did I come in first place?  Because it sure feels like I did!
Did I come in first place? Because it sure feels like I did!

Final chip time: 3:50:57. 8:49 pace.

I beat lots of boys.
I beat a lot of boys.

And because a post wouldn’t be complete without you know who…

The real winner.
The real winner.

Throwback to When I Used to Post Regularly!

Last time we chatted, I had just finished Week 9.  Currently, I am about to finish up Week 15.  Whoopsies, can we still be fwiends?  I have a newfound respect for people who blog regularly and people who have babies, super demanding jobs, commute 10 miles to work by foot uphill both ways etc.  In my defense, training for a marathon, lawyering full time, and snuggling with Mrs. Yellow Snuggles Maniac McGoo is hard work!  Rather than recapping the last zillion 6 weeks, I will stick to the highs and lows.

Let’s start with a low – the Unplugged 1/2 Marathon!  Also, home to the. most. unflattering. pictures. of. me. ever!  There is a special place in Hell for whoever decided that taking professional pictures of people during a race is a good idea.  Let’s start with the beginning, shall we?

Oh just walking a half marathon, no biggie.
Oh, just walking a half marathon, no biggie. (Contrary to what it looks like, I think I was still running under 8 minute miles here.)

Before the race even started, my stomach was on the fritz, but I attributed it to nerves – hoping that once the gun horn? whistle? I don’t remember went off, my stomach would settle down.  Unfortunately, the opposite happened.  From the very beginning to the very end of this race, I felt like a million little drummers were having band practice in my gastrointestinal tract.  I could not get my breath under control and I never got into the groove.  By the end, I was just trying to finish without walking.  This race was the epitome of a sufferfest.  I finished in 1:47:13, which I was not happy about AT ALL until I realized that I finished the same race last year in 1:57:13.  Kinda funny/awesome that last year I was thrilled to simply break 2 hours, and this year I am bummed about finishing 10 minutes faster!  I also felt happy about simply finishing the race, because doing so definitely build mental strength that I will be able to draw upon during the marathon.

I should probably start using wrinkle cream.
Finally finishing!  I should probably start using wrinkle cream.

Let’s contrast the above negative experience with a positive experience, shall we?  On Thursday, as in 2 days ago, I PRed in the 5k!  The 5k is my arch nemesis.  I hate 5ks for many reasons, including that 1) They hurt, 2) I cannot breath, and 3) I want to die the entire time.  Obviously, I do not train specifically for 5ks so I never know what I’m capable of.  My M.O. is that I generally go out way too fast and then crash and burn.  To date, my 5k “PR” occurred during the Sodom Pond 4 miler last summer (7:14 pace the entire way YO).  For stupid reasons like the fact that a 4 mile race is not a 5k, the aforementioned 5k “PR” does not count.  Until Thursday, my 5k PR was 22:56 and it was strangely set at the Leaf Peepers 5k, aka the hilliest 5k ever.  My new PR is 22:33 and it was set at the Corporate Cup, aka the most crowded and turny-est course ever!  Perhaps I run best in the face of adversity?

Other highs included:

  • My highest mileage week ever!  60 miles!  Running an average of 10 miles per day (I took one rest day) is super time consuming.  Also, the following week my body was like: “Hi, let’s never run again, ok thanks.”
  • The most 20 milers of any training cycle – 3!
  • Getting to the taper completely injury and niggle free.  This is a first.
  • Finding the last pair of Brooks Purecadence 3s in Women’s size 9 on Planet Earth.  I plan to put 20-30 miles on these babies before the marathon, so they will be still be fresh and so, so, so beautiful.
  • Some really awesome Spring/early Summer runs!  It is soooo much better running in shorts than snowsuits.
  • I purchased a Spibelt to hold my phone, fuel etc.  It is basically a fanny pack (nerd alert), but it is amazing!  Goodbye forever, arm band.  I will miss you a whole NOT AT ALL!  (Sorry, that was mean.  Just kidding arm band.  We had a good run, but now you must die.)
  • Track practice is back in my life!  I am incapable of running fast on my own, so it is so, so nice to have an organized track practice once a week with speedy friends!  I always feel amazing after pushing myself around the track.

Other lows included:

Running 20 miles in 80 degree heat and humidity.
Running 20 miles in 80 degree heat and humidity. 

…but that’s pretty much it for lows!  All in all, this has been a GREAT training cycle.  It started off rough and there were a few low points along the way, but I also had some TERRIFIC runs.  I started this blog to track my progress as I attempt to qualify for Boston.  Do I think I will BQ at VCM this year?  No way.  A lot happened over the course of the last 15 weeks that was outside of my control.  It would be imprudent to shoot for a BQ at this point.  While I am certain that I could run 8 minute miles for the majority of the race,  it’s not like at mile 16 I could say “well this doesn’t feel good, let’s drop it down to 9 minute miles.”  That’s not how marathons work.  However, do I think I can capitalize on the positive aspects of this training cycle and PR the *&$# out this race?  YES.  And I am NOT giving up on qualifying for Boston.  Assuming I can stay injury free, I will shoot for the BQ this Fall.  Boston, I am coming for you…

Except first, I am coming for you, Vermont City Marathon!  You better watch your back.