Spring has Sprung (sorta)

So much has happened in the last week!  I don’t know where to start.

This picture was taken on Friday at 4:29 PM.
This picture was taken on Friday at 4:29 PM obviously.  (Cell phone use at stop lights is still legal in Vermont thankyouverymuch.)

IT WAS 66 DEGREES ON FRIDAY!  I also left work 1 minute early due to aforementioned warm weather.  If you are reading this and you are my boss, hello!  Welcome!  Have I ever told you that you are the best boss ever?  I am beyond excited for warm temperatures and sunshine.  Not only because I am sick of running in cold/snowy/abysmal weather, but also because TRAILS.  I discovered the wonderful world of trail running late last summer and I am so excited to frolic through the woods with my trusty companion, Flash.  I even have my eye on a few trail races!

However, before can I break out the ole trail shoes, I have a marathon to run.  Onto Week 9…

Week 9

Monday – 6 miles w/ 3 speedy miles

Tuesday –  Spontaneous rest day

Wednesday – 4 mile repeats (7 miles total on ze treadmill) at lunch + 9 miles easy after work = 16 miles total

Thursday  – 6 miles easy

Friday – 5 miles easy

Saturday – 6 miles outside + 14 miles on ze treadmill = 20 miles total

Sunday – Rest

Total: 53 miles

As you may be able to garner based on the above summary, Week 9 was filled with many ups and downs and sideways.  I’ll start with the ups first because good news > bad news.  (Rocket scientist, right here.)

  • The best part of Week 9 is that for the first time in awhile, I finally felt like myself.  Despite feeling like a sleepy sloth on Ambien lethargic on Monday, I forced myself to get outside and run.  (Shout out to running life coach Emily who also encouraged me to suck it up.)  Oddly, I felt amazing as soon as I hit the mud pavement.  Without even meaning to, I ran 3 sub-8 miles.  Then on Wednesday, I easily pushed through 4 mile repeats at paces that would have felt unmanageable just a couple weeks ago.  While I am nowhere near as speedy as I would like to be 7 weeks before VCM, some progress is better than no progress.
  • I ran twice in one day this week, which I have not done since high school cross country camp prison.  After logging less than adequate mileage on Monday and Tuesday, I knew I needed to get in some major miles if I was going to meet my mileage goal for the week.  I started out with the aforementioned speed workout, totaling 7 miles.  Just 4-5 hours later, I headed out for an easy recovery run.  The first couple of miles felt rough, but I eventually loosened up and logged 9 miles at a surprisingly decent pace.  This run will also fall into the “bad news” category for reasons that will later become clear.  I ended the day with 16 pounds miles worth of spaghetti and meatballs.  Nom.
  • I finished my first 20 miler of this training cycle!  The run did not go quite as planned, but I got ‘er done.  I ended this run with 3 fast miles.  During the last 0.2 miles, I increased my pace to 6:40/mile and visualized the finish line at VCM.  I’m also pretty sure I threw my hands in the air while on the gym treadmill.
  • 53 miles total!  One of my highest mileage weeks ever.

Now for the downs and sideways of Week 9.

  • The week got off to a rough start and I paid for it later.  After not running as much as I had planned or at all on Monday and Tuesday, I logged 16 miles on Wednesday.  Four of those 16 miles were at a hard for me pace, and I averaged well under 9:00/mile for all 16.  While I felt amazing upon completion, my legs were sore on Thursday, Friday, AND Saturday.  Running 20 miles on sore legs is not my favorite activity in the world.
  • During the evening portion of Wednesday’s run, I was attacked by a very mean dog.  I survived without injury, but it was a bit traumatic.
This is an example of a dog.  This is not the dog that attacked me.
  • Despite beautiful weather late last week, I woke up on Saturday to cold temperatures, snow/freezing rain, and 25-30 mph winds.  I made a deal with myself that if I ran 10-12 miles outside, I could finish on the treadmill.  I only lasted 6 miles.  Apparently, I do not enjoy being pelted in the face with snow and ice and being nearly blown over by wind gusts.   After a quick costume change, I hopped on the treadmill for the remaining 14 miles.  Things I did not like about this run: (1) the weather, (2) the monotony of the treadmill, and (3) the fact that I had to take several short breaks to change, refill my water bottle etc.  As they say nowhere, lamesauce.
This is what I looked like after 20 miles.  Please send modeling contracts to my agent.
  • Finally, I have done exactly zero strength training this week.  Now that my mileage is creeping up, it is becoming increasingly difficult to make time for strength training.  Luckily, I have a plan to stop being a slacker.  It involves a spreadsheet and doing pushups and planks in my office while listening to Beyonce.

This upcoming week is a step-back week and mini-taper fun fest of joy because the Unplugged 1/2 marathon is on Saturday!  I am reluctant to state a time goal for this race because I honesty do not know what I’m capable of at the moment.  I will say that I will be super happy with anything under 1:45.  If I can run 1:45 or less after several weeks of hard training with only a mini-taper period, I will feel much more confident about my ability to BQ at VCM.  The course is a flat and fast point to point, and I know it like the back of my hand.  Of course, if I am forced to run into heavy wind the entire time, I will probably cry reassess my goals.  My biggest goal is to finish strong and healthy.

Last, but not least, I recovered like a champ this week.

Sometimes when I take ice baths I pretend that I am a happy penguin.  Jk I curse the entire time.
And then I erase the pain
It’s important to rehydrate after long runs.

Good luck to all of my fellow running friendsies running Unplugged!


Holy guacamole, Week 8 is over and I am officially halfway to the marathon!  I began Week 8 with 4 goals: (1) Run outside as much as possible; (2) Run at least 50 miles; (3) Feel strong and steady during my 18 mile long run and finish fast; and (4) Eat more vegetables.  Who am I kidding, I heart vegetables.  I nailed the first 2 goals.  I ran 50 miles, 37 of which were run outside.  As for goal #3, I felt mostly strong and steady during my 18 miler, but I did not finish fast (on purpose).  Obviously I nailed goal #4 by I eating as many vegetables and cookies as cookie monster eats cookies.

Overall, Week 8 was a success.  I will discuss the details in just a moment.  You may be wondering why this posted is titled, “Rejection.”  Over the course of the last few weeks, I was rejected by not one, but TWO marathons.  I entered both the NYC marathon and Marine Corp marathon lotteries.  While I did not expect to get into NYC, I had high hopes that I would be accepted into the MCM.  FALSE.  I was rejected from both and I am having middle school dance flashbacks.  Right now, I am leaning toward running the Maine Marathon in the Fall, but I have a lot of time to make my decision.  Onto Week 8…

Week 8

Monday – Spontaneous Rest Day

Tuesday –  12 hilly miles

Wednesday – 7 miles easy

Thursday  – 5 miles easy (treadmill)

Friday – 8 miles easy/moderate (treadmill)

Saturday – 18 mile long run

Sunday – Rest

Total: 50 miles

Despite taking the previous Sunday off (as planned), I needed a second day of rest on Monday.  Some days my body just says, “Nuh-uh, I will be spending the evening on the couch eating bon-bons thankyouverymuch.”  To be honest, I am still experiencing the lingering effects of the worst. head. cold. of. all. time.  The only reason I got any sleep this week was due to my new BFF Mr. Nasal Spray, who has since been banished to a dark corner of my house due to his highly addictive properties.  Needless to say, I was raring to go by Tuesday.

Luckily, the weather on Tuesday was uncharacteristically nice, so I decided to head to the Berlin Pond area for some sunny outdoor miles.  I did not intend on running 12 miles, but I felt good and could not stop listening to Serial.  Plus, after taking 2 days off in a row, I needed to get in some solid mileage.  Surprisingly, because normally I feel like mushy peas after a longish/hilly run, I also felt good on Wednesday during my 7 miler.  I did not feel good on Thursday, however.  I know this because my planned 8-9 mile run turned into a 5 mile run with 2 bathroom stops.  TMI?  I think I have reached the beautiful point where I have transitioned to running outside and the treadmill is no longer my friend.  Unfortunately, this meant that in order to reach my weekly mileage goal, I had to run at least 8 miles on Friday, the day before my long run.  So the whole “take it super easy the day before my long run” plan went out the window.  Ah well, not a huge deal.

Muddy calves after Tuesday's jaunt.  Yes, I took this picture myself.  #acrobat
Muddy calves after Tuesday’s jaunt. Yes, I took this picture myself. #acrobat

Now for the long run.  The good news is that I finished 18 miles.  My pace was a bit slower than I would have liked, but only by about 15-30 seconds per mile.  The first few miles were rough, but this is usually the case with long runs.  Generally, my legs feel like crap for the first 2-3 miles of every run.  [Side note: You know you are a crazy marathoner when you do not feel warmed-up until 2-3 miles into a run.  I remember when 2-3 miles was a run.]  It can be really tough to think about the fact that I have 18, 17, 16 etc. miles to go.  For this reason, I try very hard to “stay in the mile I’m in.”  Some days, this is easier said than done.  On Saturday, I struggled mentally for all but a few miles of my run.  It was cold and the wind seemed to be in my face no matter which direction I turned.  Physically, my legs felt strong until the very end.  My stomach cooperated, and the fact that I ran with water was HUGE.

Speaking of water, during my long run this week, I lost my mind had a thought.  My thoughts on running with water have evolved in a very similar way to my thoughts on hanging out with my parents.  When I first started running long distances, I quickly realized that some sort of water carrying device was a necessity, especially during the warmer months.  My first water carrying device purchase was a Nathan handheld water bottle.  I quickly realized that I do not enjoy the feeling of carrying around a sloshing water bottle IN MY HAND when running.  Furthermore, I suspected that my right arm was becoming stronger than my left arm due to the extra weight and I am all about arm strength equality.  Lies.  I really just hated the way it felt.  My second water carrying device was a Fuel Belt.  It looked something like this:

Fun fact: Before I purchased a Garmin, I used to write directions for my runs on little pieces of paper and stick them in the front pouch of my fuel belt!
Fun fact: Before I purchased a Garmin, I used to write directions for my runs on little pieces of paper and stick them in the front pouch of my fuel belt!  Nerd alert.

At this point in my fledgling running career, running with a water belt was COOL because it indicated that I was a serious runner.  I ran so far that I required WATER.  This period was akin to elementary school, a time when I was the envy of my friends if my mom showed up to help out in my classroom.  However, just as prepubescence came to a grinding halt sometime around 6th grade, so did my fondness for my fuel belt.  Suddenly, wearing my fuel belt was sooooo uncool.  I think the uncoolness factor was exacerbated by the fact that in order to prevent bouncing, I had to wear my fuel belt like Steve Urkel at my natural waist.  In summary, I determined for unknown reasons that running with water was about as uncool as hanging out with your parents at age 13.  Enter, the Rev 6:

This thing is actually way cooler than it looks.
I purchased the Rev 6 in “flash green,” which is cooler than regular green.

At some point, I grew up realized that running without water for long distances is not smart, so I began to gradually let my parents be in the same room as me experiment with “cool” hydration packs.  I eventually settled on the Osprey Rev 6, which carries 1.5 liters of liquid in a bladder and contains many pockets for all sorts of running related goodies.  I am not kidding when I say that the Rev 6 weighs practically nothing.  Nonetheless, I only run with “Flash” (yes, I named my hydration pack) during long runs or when it’s especially hot outside.  Because let’s face it, while I may enjoy my parents more at age 29 than I did at age 13, I can’t run the risk of being completely uncool.

In other news, I finally bit the bullet and purchased the Brooks PureCadence 4s.

The PureCadence 4s, expected to arrive tomorrow.
To be or not to be brought into my harem?  That is the question.

Goals for next week*:

*Technically this week because I am posting this bad boy on a Monday.  I am also writing this post under the influence of cold medicine, which may explain why I just compared running with water to puberty-related embarrassment.

  • Run at least 52 miles
  • Feel strong and steady on my 20 miler
  • Eat less candy/chocolate starting Tuesday because *whoops* I had brownies for lunch
  • Develop a realistic plan for the Unplugged 1/2 marathon in 2 weeks
  • Get my blood drawn and iron levels tested

That’s all folks!

4/1/2015 9

Remain Calm

Remain Calm: VCM is 9 weeks from today.  Before I get into recapping Week 7, I need to get real with you all.  The last 2 weeks have been terrific in terms of mileage.  I even felt “speedier” during at least 2 runs this week.  But the truth is, I am nowhere as speedy as I would like to be at this point.  I think my lack of speediness is due to a combination of the following:

  • False Expectations.  Back in November, when I set my PR in the 1/2 marathon, I felt on top of the world.  Although I continued to run until VCM training “officially” began at the end of January, I obviously did not train at the same level of intensity as I had been training at prior to the GMAA marathon and Race Vermont 1/2 marathon.  But when I began training for VCM, I falsely assumed that I would pick up where I left off in November.  As they say in Spanish, my assumption was incorrecto.  That 1/2 marathon PR was the result of many months of hard training, MOST OF WHICH TOOK PLACE IN THE SUMMER AND FALL.  Which brings me to my next point…
  • Training for a marathon during the winter in Vermont sucks.  Plain and simple, training during the cold/snowy/icy/dark months is just not the same as training during the warm/sunny/bright summer and fall months.  Running on the treadmill is not the same as running outside.  Running on snowy/icy roads is not the same as running on clear roads.  I do not have access to trails (my preferred place to run hills).  I do not have access to a track (my preferred place to do speed-work).  Although I have trained for a spring marathon twice before, attempting to BQ (and consequently set a massive PR) at a spring marathon is much different than training to finish.
  • Not racing.  Last summer and fall, I raced as much as I could.  Not only do I love racing, but I firmly believe that the torturous devilries that are 5ks are the best form of speed-work.  Even longer races, such as 10ks or half marathons, are a great way to get in some speedy miles.  Although I can do speed-work and tempo runs on my own, there is nothing quite like a little friendly competition to get my juices flowing.  Unfortunately, winter in Vermont is hardly conducive to racing.  Luckily, I will have a few opportunities to race before VCM.  First up is the Unplugged 1/2 marathon in 3 weeks.  I’ll talk about my goals for that race in a later post.
  • Anemia and the plague.  I think this bullet point speaks for itself.  I will say that I no longer remember what it’s like to not have a stuffy nose.

That being said, I am not yet willing to throw in the towel.  Do I think I can PR in the marathon in 9 weeks?  Hell yes.  Do I think I can BQ in 9 weeks?  Not without a miracle.  I don’t know.  On one hand, 9 weeks is a long time.  Assuming I stay healthy, I can accomplish a lot in 9 weeks.  Especially because April is a little over a week away and April showers bring May flowers, RIGHT!?!?  On the other hand, 9 weeks is not a lot of time at all.  In fact, if one wants time to pass really quickly, he/she should sign up for a marathon.  There is no better way to make the weeks fly by!  Conversely, if anyone has any suggestions as to how to slow down time, I would love to hear them! For now, I will focus on positive thinking, healthy living, and training, training, training.  

Onto Week 7!  Here is my weekly summary:

Week 7

Monday – 9 miles easy/moderate outside

Tuesday –  6 miles easy (treadmill)

Wednesday – 1.5 mile warm-up, 5.5 miles progression tempo w/ super fast finish = 7 miles (treadmill)

Thursday  – 3 miles easy (treadmill)

Friday – ~ 8 miles easy/moderate outside (Garmin stopped working)

Saturday – 12 mile hilly long run in the great outdoors (I am reluctant to refer to this as a “long run” because 12 miles does not feel particularly long these days)

Sunday – Rest

Total: 45 miles

Now for the rundown.  Pun intended, I so funny.  My favorite run of the week occurred on Monday.  The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and my “speedy” pace felt easy!  I could have continued for many more miles, but dinner was calling me home and Basil turns into a grumpasaurus if she is not fed by 5 PM.

Literally could not stop smiling!  Also, I need to stop posting such flattering selfies on the blog.
Literally could not stop smiling! Note to self: I need to stop posting such flattering selfies on the blog.  Makes the other running blogs jelly.

Tuesday’s run felt the opposite of easy, but I blame this on the 99 pounds of Irish-themed food I ate for lunch during a St. Patty’s Day work potluck.  After 6 miles of burping up corned beef and cabbage, I called it quits and did some strength training.  On my way out of the gym, I found a 10 dollar bill in the parking lot!  Some little leprechaun was looking out for me.

Totally should have worn this hat on the treadmill!  Next year.
My dollar store hat that I wore all day at work.  Should have also worn it on my run!  Next year.

Wednesday’s run is self-explanatory.  I felt good.  On Thursday, my legs were dead, but I managed to get in a solid strength session.  On Friday, I ran about 8 miles at a rather brisk pace.  After noticing that I was really struggling to make it beyond 5.12 miles, I determined that my Garmin had lost satellite connection or my pace had decreased to 0.0 min/mile.  So I can only guesstimate that I ran about 8 miles.  Commence the taking of deep breaths. Must run precise number of miles.

Saturday’s long run was a little shorter than I would have liked, but it was super hilly and a step-back week to boot.  (Side note: I did not step back my mileage because I am still trying to make up for 3 weeks of illness.)  Next weekend I will run 18 miles, and then the following weekend I will run my first 20 miler of this training cycle!  Yikes, stripes!  I did an out and back on Rt. 100b, which I have driven on but never run.  Holy hills!  There was nothing too crazy or steep, but if I wasn’t going up, I was going down.  I will definitely be running this route again.  The shoulder is super wide, and the views are astounding.

Ran by the cutest/creepiest graveyard.
Ran by the cutest/creepiest graveyard.  Not sure who (or what) is buried there.  I also just figured out how to make pictures bigger.  The internet is hard.

I actually planned to run farther than 12 miles, but when I returned to my car for a water break, my legs announced that they were done.  This leads me to 2 things that I will do differently next week.  First, I will suck it up and look like a nerd run with water.  By the time I returned to my car after completing 12 miles, I was so dehydrated that any motivation I had to continue running was completely zapped.  I need to drink early and often.  Additionally, I need to run with water because it’s way too tempting to cut a long run short when I adhere to the “stop by my car for water” method.  Next week, I will make it physically impossible to cut my 18-miler short unless of course I hitchhike or call an ambulance, neither of which is out of the question.

The second thing I will do differently next week is either not run, or do a very easy run, the day before my long run.  So far, I have adhered to the “running on tired legs” long run philosophy.  While I think this philosophy is not without merit, my last 2 long runs have definitely felt a bit rough, and I’d like to get some solid non-rough long runs under my belt.  I’d also like to add a fast finish to the end of my long run, which is sort of impossible when my legs are so tired by the end that I’m hanging on for dear life.  Next week, I will likely take Friday off (or do a shake-out run) and run the last 6-8 miles of my long run at an increasingly faster clip.  I shall report back on how it goes!

A few random notes:

1) According to Map My Run, this is the elevation profile for my 12 miler on Saturday:

The definition of rolling hills!
The definition of rolling hills!

This is the elevation profile for VCM:

See that little spiky thing around mile 15?
See that little spiky thing around mile 15.81?  I eat bigger hills for breakfast.  (The hill coming up the beltway, around mile 8, is actually just as big, but at mile 8 in a marathon I am still like “Yay I am running a marathon! Life is grand. Rainbows, butterflies, and puppies!”)

So if Map My Run is telling the truth, I ran almost double the elevation in 12 miles that I will run over the course of 26 miles at VCM.  Does anyone know if Map My Run is remotely accurate?  The squiggly lines generally seem pretty on point, but I’m not sure about the total “gain.”  I wish my Garmin tracked elevation, but alas it only tracks the basics – time, pace, and distance. 

2) During my run on Saturday, I listened to the first 3.5 episodes of Serial.  I know I am late to the party, by OMG so good.  Twelve hilly miles flew by.

3) I tried some new goodies this week!  I ate the Honey Stinger waffle immediately prior to my run on Saturday.  Not only did it taste delicious, but it sat well in my stomach.  Honey Stinger waffles and I will definitely be seeing more of each other on future runs.  As for the Gu chomps, I am not a huge fan.  I started popping these around mile 6.  They taste delicious, but I felt like I was playing a game of chubby bunny.  By the time I finished chewing, I literally felt out of breath probably because I had not consumed any oxygen for 30 seconds.  The chomps also made me feel slightly sick to my stomach.  Lame sauce.

If the waffles weren’t so darn expensive, I would eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

4) Goals for next week:

  • Run outside as much as possible.
  • Run at least 50 miles.
  • Feel strong and steady during my 18 mile long run.  Finish fast.
  • Eat more vegetables.  Who am I kidding, I heart vegetables.
My bffs.

Week 6 Recap

Week 6 is done!  Week 6 was hardly perfect, but it was a welcome relief after the suffer-fest that was Weeks 3-5.  With 10 weeks to go until VCM, I am feeling (at least with respect to my mileage) that I am right where I should be.  The speed will come.  Crossing fingers, toes, legs, arms, bellybutton.

After 3 weeks of too-low mileage, I ran 46 miles this week.  This puts me on track to peak somewhere in the high 50s to low 60s, which is all the mileage my body can handle.  I have no idea how people run 100+ miles per week.  I would love to be able to run that much without getting injured!  I would also love Shalane Flanagan’s arms and a pony.

My running hero!  I can't wait to watch her at Boston this year.  Obviously next year I will be too busy running.  ;)
My running hero! I can’t wait to watch her at Boston this year. Obviously next year I will be too busy running. 😉

Unfortunately, I am not yet 100% healthy.  My cold the plague made a second appearance late this week in the form of a stuffy nose and a sore throat.  Luckily, my symptoms are not nearly as bad as they were the first time around.  As of this morning, I am feeling much better.  KNOCK ON WOOD.  However, I would by lying if I said that this cold has not affected my running this week.  I’m actually pretty sure I set the world record for most number of snot rockets during my long run yesterday.  Running is a sexy sport, my friends.  (It is especially sexy when a snot rocket fails to launch properly and lands on my cheek.)  Okay, now that I’ve lost all 8 of my readers…

As for the anemia, I will not know for sure whether I’ve kicked it until I go back for another round of blood testing, which I plan to do this week.  Given that I am still struggling to maintain paces that should be fairly easier for me, I wouldn’t be surprised if my iron levels are still too low.  Aside from taking iron supplements twice a day, I am eating tons of spinach and single handedly altering the supply and demand of cheeseburgers.  Insert nerdy econ joke here.  I briefly considered taking liquid iron, but nixed that idea when I read that liquid iron can turn your teeth black.  No thank you.

PSA: Do not do a Google images search for "black teeth!"  Here is a picture of a unicorn instead.  You're welcome.
PSA: Do not do a Google images search for “black teeth!” Here is a picture of a unicorn instead. You’re welcome.

So now for the official Week 6 recap!

Week 6

Monday – 8 miles easy w/ fast finish (treadmill)

Tuesday –  7 miles easy/moderate in the great outdoors

Wednesday – 5 miles total w/ 2 miles at 10K pace (treadmill)

Thursday  – Rest

Friday – 9.5 miles easy (treadmill)

Saturday – 16.5 mile long run in the great outdoors

Sunday – Rest

Total: 46 miles

Although it was great to run outside on Tuesday after work, this run definitely kicked my butt a little bit.  Some days are just rough, ya know?  My legs felt like cement logs and it didn’t help that I had to hop all over the place to avoid puddles.  [Side note: If you are one of those people who purposely splashes runners, you are dead to me.]  Wednesday’s run was also a bit rough, but I think I overestimated my ability to do speed-work at this point.  I originally planned on 4 mile repeats, but could only manage 2 before calling it quits.  My rule of thumb is that I will not quit midway through a run unless I am legitimately hurt or sick.  I guess I should probably add “not remotely capable of completing planned work-out” to that list.  Live and learn.

Saturday’s long run was uneventful except for the part when I almost got arrested.  I felt terrific for the first half of the run.

Beautiful interstate 89!
Beautiful interstate 89!  Endorphins!

About 8 miles in, I began to feel a little bit thirsty.  Not desperately thirsty like the time I contemplated drinking polluted river water, but thirsty enough that I wasn’t sure I could make it another 8.5 miles without water.  So I decided to bop in a small general store!  I would name said small general store, but Vermont is a small state and perhaps small general store is owned by one of my 8 reader’s grumpy father/uncle/deranged cousin.  I grabbed a small coffee cup and filled it with tap water.  As I was leaving, the man at the counter informed me that if I DARED to walk out of the store with the cup he would call the police.  He then proceeded to go on a tirade about how people like me are the ones responsible for small stores going out of business.  Uh ok, crazy person.  Here is your already-dirty cup back.

After I recovered from that ordeal, I decided to take the shortest route back to my car where my beautiful water bottle was waiting to quench my oh-so-parched lips.  (Water fantasies can get pretty PG-13 during long runs.)  I wasn’t sure that my favorite dirt road was passable, but the temperatures had dropped low enough that the dirt had solidified!  Joy!

Remember that evil snowy road from a few weeks ago?  Not so evil now!  Muahahahaha.
Remember that evil snowy road from a few weeks ago? Not so evil now! Muahahahaha.

After chugging water like a frat boy chugs beer, I ran around Montpelier until my Garmin reached 16.5 miles.  In case you are wondering why I ran 16.5 miles, and not 16 or 17 miles, I have psychological issues a weird need to end my week with an even number of miles.

In other running news, I am desperately sad that Brooks has released a new model of my beloved Purecadences.  I currently own 4 pairs of the 3s and I am clinging to them for dear life because I can no longer find the 3s in my size anywhere on the interwebs.  I’m sure the 4s are satisfactory, but whhhhhhyyyyyy GOD WHY why did Brooks have to discontinue the 3s altogether?  Why couldn’t they have phased them out gradually to give me time to cope and adapt to the change?  If anyone has a recommendation for a similarly lightweight yet supportive shoe that will fit my narrow feet, please advise!  During my long run on Saturday, I finally bit the bullet and ran outdoors with my fourth and final pair of Purecadence 3s.  I had reserved them for treadmill use only to preserve their effortless beauty.  Yes, I realize I sound crazy.  Acknowledgment is the first step.

So beautiful, even with mud between the toes.
So beautiful, even with mud between the toes.

Lastly, I stocked up on enough running fuel to last me for through the marathon and possibly a nuclear holocaust.  So far, I’ve determined that my stomach likes gummy fuel the best, which isn’t surprising given that gummy candy is my favorite candy ever except for you, Cadbury creme eggs, I will never cheat on you.  I also purchased some honey stinger waffles, which I look forward to trying for the first time.

I'm embarrassed to admit that this cost about $46.
I’m embarrassed to admit that this cost about $46.

Seven is my lucky number, so I have no doubt that this will be a really good week!  🙂

Overdue Update on Weeks 3-5

I know, I know, I know…it’s been 3 weeks since I’ve updated this thing!  The truth is, the last 3 weeks have been less than stellar and I’m trying to pretend they didn’t happen.  However, one of the main purposes of this blogeroothingamabob is to hold me accountable to my training or lack of thereof.  So here we go…

When we left off, I had just finished Week 3’s long run on a Wednesday.  After a 2 mile death march recovery run on Thursday, I decided to give myself the rest of the week off due to anemia fatigue and birthday festivity plans that I knew would pretty much consume my weekend.  After two solid weeks of relatively high mileage, I figured it was time for a step-back week anyway.  The entire week looked like this:

Week 3

Monday – Rest

Tuesday –  9 miles easy (treadmill)

Wednesday – 14 miles long run in the great outdoors

Thursday  – 2 miles easy (treadmill)

Friday/Saturday/Sunday – Rest

Total: 25 miles

By the following Monday (Feb. 23, first day of Week 4), I was raring to lose the 5 pounds worth of delicious food I ate over the weekend go!  Three days off of running is never desirable, but my body needed the break.  I also learned on Monday that my anemia is due to a run of the mill iron deficiency, and not something scarier like Ebola.  [Side note: I have now been taking iron supplements for 2 weeks and I am sensing improvements in my turtleyness.]  Week 4 started off strong, but ended lamely due to a combination of calf pain, laziness, and impending sickness. 

Monday’s workout consisted of 8 miles followed by an intense strength training session! Dog not included.
Proof that I foam rolled. And that I have a tongue.

Week 4 also included a “speed” workout consisting of 6 x 800.  I put “speed” in quotes because my paces were nowhere near as fast as I would have liked them to be.  Still, it felt good to pump. it. up.  (Said in my best Arnold voice.)

Shannon or a tomato?  You be the judge!
Shannon or a tomato? You be the judge!

Week 4’s long run was cut short from 14-15 miles to 9.25 miles.  Let’s first discuss the positive aspects of this run.  First, the sun was out!  Second, I ran up Battery Street, which is VCM’s *scariest* hill.  It comes around mile 15 of the marathon, which is always a pleasant time to run up a big hill.  So while running up a big hill may seem more like a negative aspect than a positive aspect to some people, the positive part is that after cresting the hill, I realized that Battery Street is much bigger in my head, and that I eat bigger hills for breakfast.  [Side note: My mantra during the Race Vermont 1/2 Marathon, where I PRed big time on a hilly course, was “I eat hills for breakfast.”  It worked wonders.]

The not-so-great aspects?  My silly right calf was bothering me throughout the run.  Not in a major way, but in a if-I-keep-running-this-might-get-worse-way.  I probably could have run through it without problem.  However, at mile 9.25 I made the decision to refuel at South End Kitchen on Pine Street.  This was a rookie mistake.  It was cold out and they had a fire, people!  For the first time in less than 2 weeks (cue foreshadowing), I made the boyfriend come “rescue” me.

Salted caramel gu by the fireside?  A runner's paradise!
Salted caramel gu and water by the fireside? Men, take note: This is my idea of a dream date.

Here is the entire Week 4 rundown:

Week 4

Monday – 8 miles easy (treadmill)

Tuesday –  8 miles easy progression (treadmill)

Wednesday – 6 x 800 = 6 miles total w/ warmup and cool-downs (treadmill)

Thursday – 4 miles easy (treadmill)

Friday – Unplanned rest day for some reason (I don’t remember why.  I probably felt like crap.)

Saturday – 9.25 miles in the great outdoors

Sunday – Rest/Onset of the plague

Total: 35.25 miles

How did I spend the first, second, and third days of Week 5?  Sick and dying on the couch.  While I luckily did not have the flu, I did have some sort of Ebola-like cold that managed to hack away at every aspect of my soul except my ability to eat copious amounts of food, resulting in me being the only person in the world who actually gains weight while sick.  I seriously could not even fit into my sweatpants by Thursday.  I managed to get in some slow pathetic miles on Thursday and Friday.  By Saturday, I was ready to kill someone if I did not get in a solid run.  I smeared Vaseline under my nose, stuffed my pockets with tissues, and headed out the door.  For the first 3.99 miles, I felt GREAT given the circumstances.

I did NOT feel great when I face planted on the ice at mile 4.
This was taken before the goose egg fully took form. Good thing knees aren’t important when it comes to running or anything.

For the second time in 2 weeks, I required rescuing.  Although I knew right away that I wasn’t seriously injured, I was soaking wet and covered in mud.  Also, my face was bleeding, which isn’t exactly a huge deal but I AM A WIMP, OKAY?  Not exactly how I wanted to spend the next 10 miles.  So I went home, rinsed the mud and blood and tears off of my face, changed into shorts, and hit up the treadmill for the remaining 10 miles.  Not the most ideal long run, but sometimes you just gotta git-r-done.

Week 5

Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday – Sick

Thursday – 3 miles easy (treadmill)

Friday – 4 miles easy (treadmill)

Saturday – 4 miles in the great outdoors  + 10 miles (treadmill) = 14 miles total

Sunday – Rest

Total: 21 miles

Except for the fact that my nose has been replaced by a leaky faucet, I am pretty much back to normal.  Between the anemia and the plague, the last couple of weeks have been somewhat discouraging.  I’m trying to remain optimistic that I will continue to see improvements in my performance very soon.  However, I still have 10.5 weeks to whip my butt gluteus maximus into shape.  That is a long time in the world of marathoning.

In other news, I no longer have to run with a headlamp now that the time has changed!  (Well, unless I want to run in the middle of the night, which would be weird.)  Yesterday, I headed out for a glorious run after work in 50 degree weather.  I was actually too hot, which is a nice change from trying not to lose any extremities to frostbite.  The only downside is that my favorite dirt roads are now impassable to non-crazy runners.

This is actually a picture of pavement. The dirt starts midway up the road. Okay, so this is a bad example.

I’ll try to be better about updating this thing, especially since my readership has increased to practically 8 readers!  Hello!  Here’s to hoping for some excellent confidence-boosting training runs!

I will leave you with a picture of Basil, who turned 7 this week.  This has nothing to do with running.  Oh wait, Basil runs!  This is totally related to running.
I will leave you with a picture of Basil, who turned 7 this week. This has nothing to do with running. Oh wait, Basil runs! This is totally related to running.

Anemia Update and Other Exciting Life Events

The last time we talked, I mentioned that I am a turtle anemic.  Well, I have since visited my doctor.  After careful analysis of my blood work, he determined that I am most likely experiencing a deficiency of iron, B12, folate, or a combination of the three.  He ordered more tests and hopefully I will know the source of the problem (and thus be able to correct it) pronto.  When I noted that I run more than the average bear, he informed me that my hemoglobin levels are such that it probably feels like I am running at 10,000 feet in altitude.  While this was certainly a relief to hear given my turtle-ness as of late, I am looking forward to returning to sea level.

Week 3 started off slow, but has quickly picked up speed.  Due to an ill-timed Bloody Mary on Presidents Day, I decided to make Monday an impromptu rest day.  I’m sure George Washington would have approved.  While it perturbed me to veer off course for a fourth day in a row, impromptu rest days, especially in times of imperfect health, are good for the soul (and feet, muscles, and cardiovascular system).  I easily pumped out 9 treadmill miles on Tuesday as a result of aforementioned rest.  Although I ran slower than usual, I felt good for the first time in weeks.  In related news, I learned that Bruce Jenner is definitely maybe transitioning into a woman.  Thank you People Magazine for making the miles fly by.

I had to capture this moment because I usually pull the emergency chord by accident midway through my run.
I had to capture this moment of treadmill perfection because I usually pull trip over the emergency chord midway through my run.

Due to 30th Birthday festivities this weekend (NOT MINE, I AM STILL IN MY 20s THANK YOU VERY MUCH), I decided to move up my long run to Wednesday.  Although all hard work outs (including the usual MGP run the day before a long run), have been shelved until further notice, I figured that Tuesday’s 9 miler would allow me to simulate running on tired legs.  Maybe it was the fact that the sun was shining for the entire 14 miles, but I actually felt OK for the duration of the run.  I felt a little sluggish, but that was likely due to the anemia rather than tired legs.  It’s funny how my legs automatically settle into an 8:45-9:00 min/mile pace during long runs.  I had to consciously slow myself down multiple times in order to keep my turtley breathing in check.

Although the sun was shining, it was still only 8 degrees when I started my run.

Swagger not included.
Swagger not included.

I passed some friendly horsies.


The majority of my route was an out and back on Spear St. in Burlington/South Burlington.  I always forget about this route.  The scenery is beautiful (with the exception of the mini mansions scarring what used to be Vermont farmland) and the shoulder is mostly wide enough to prevent me from becoming roadkill.  Nom.  The cars are generally few and far between.  With the exception of one monstrous hill in the beginning, the hills are rolling, which I love!  I also added on a couple city miles at the end of my run.  Note to self: college students are the worst at sidewalk hogging.  Also, since when did college students start looking like 7 year olds?  I swear I am still in my 20s.

I recovered with a little stretching and Gatorade in front of the fire.

Glacier Freeze is the best flavor.  Trust.
Glacier Freeze is the best flavor. Trust.

I probably should have foam rolled and/or stretched some more, but I was FREEZING!  Luckily, I remembered to braid my hair this time so my shower was quite enjoyable.  Sorry to abandon you, new BFFs Mr. Comb and Mr. Bottle of Conditioner.  Until next time.  (And there will be a next time.)

It's the little things in life!
It’s the little things in life!

Today, I have a recovery run on the agenda.  Given that it snowed last night, I will probably stick to the treadmill.  Also, I really want to watch highly intellectual television on Netflix.  Until we meet again…

Week 2 Recap

Adios Week 2 of Marathon Training!  I am officially 12.5% done with my 16 week training cycle.  Uhhh, that is actually really scary, especially in light of the ROUGH week that was Week 2.  Let’s start with the good before moving onto the bad and the ugly.  The good:

  • I ran 40 miles, only 2 miles short of my goal of 42 miles.  Pretty good, all things considered.
  • Despite insanely cold temperatures, I managed to run outside once.  Never mind the fact that this was a sad, sad run.
  • I received an awesome running-related gift from my Valentine:
I will start this as soon as I'm done with
I will read this as soon as I’m finished with the highly intellectual book on my nightstand about a woman who murders her cheating husband.  Priorities.
  • I foamed rolled!  It is amazing how much less sore I am the day after a long-ish/hard-ish run when I foam roll.  Must. foam. roll. often.
  • I ate chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast 2 days in a row.  Runger is real, my friends.
  • I soaked my sore muscles in an Epsom salt bath.  This relaxing experience nearly turned not relaxing at all when my water-loving Yellow Labrador, Basil, launched herself over the edge of the tub the moment I leaned back and shut my eyes.  She managed to get both front paws over the edge before I took a bubble bath with my dog stopped her.  Unfortunately, I did not have my phone nearby, but luckily cute things happen when you Google “yellow lab in bathtub.”
Not as cute as Basil.
Also not as cute as Basil.
Basil!  I die.
Basil! I die.

Okay, getting a little off topic here…

  • I did some strength training.  Not enough.  Whomp.  Does this still qualify as something that falls under the “good” column?
  • I purchased some new gummy bears running fuels.  After the stomach incident of 2014 (a.k.a. the time I barfed chocolate outrage Gu during the GMAA marathon), I am excited to try out new products.  Here is what I purchased:
So far I have discovered that the Strawberry Lemonade Nuun is an excellent hangover cure.
So far I have discovered that the Strawberry Lemonade Nuun is an excellent hangover cure source of electrolytes.

Now for the bad.  For a few weeks now, I have struggled to maintain paces that should be fairly easy for me.  I attributed this to treadmill running and evil snowy road running, but I was becoming increasingly concerned that something else was wrong.  I raced a lot in 2014, and according to the internet, over-training is a real thing.  Could all of the races and hard workouts of the last year be catching up with me?  I don’t run that much.  Well, last Thursday I received a phone call from my doctor informing me that I tested positive for anemia.  According to WebMD:

Anemia is a condition that develops when your blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a main part of red blood cells and binds oxygen. If you have too few or abnormal red blood cells, or your hemoglobin is abnormal or low, the cells in your body will not get enough oxygen. Symptoms of anemia — like fatigue — occur because organs aren’t getting what they need to function properly.

In a way, this news was actually a bit of a relief to hear.  An explanation for why I feel like crap when I run anything faster than 10:00 minute miles!  Furthermore, anemia is completely treatable.  Hopefully, after taking iron supplements eating cheeseburgers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a couple weeks, I will be back to my old self and be able to knock out 8:00 minute miles like they are going out of style.

Here is my weekly training summary:

Monday – 7 miles easy on the treadmill

Tuesday – 5 miles easy on the treadmill

Wednesday – 5 miles easy outside w/ 1 hard mile (This was an abandoned hill workout)

Thursday – 5 miles easy on the treadmill

Friday – Unplanned rest day thanks to anemia

Saturday – 11 miles easy on the treadmill (Felt like crap and had to cut my planned 14 miler short)

Sunday – 7 miles easy on the treadmill (Trying to make up for Friday’s unplanned rest day and Saturday’s too-short long run)

TOTAL: 40 miles

Final thoughts: Despite feeling lethargic and slow, I still managed to run only 2 miles short of my goal.  I am proud of myself for not giving up out of frustration, but rather listening to my body and giving myself permission to run like a narcoleptic walrus slow down.  I will continue to chug along this way until I feel better.

Just one more, I swear!
Just one more, I swear!

The Time I Almost Had to Chop Off All of My Hair

Where did we leave off?  Ah, yes.  I was midway through Week 1.  Well, Week 1 has come and gone.  Was it a success?  More or less.  I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it.

The Friday before my long run, I had planned on running 6 miles at marathon goal pace (MGP) (8:00 min/mile).  Due to frigid temps, I decided to run on the treadmill.  Mistake #1.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I have issues when it comes to running fast on the treadmill.  Mistake #2 was probably not canceling my run altogether due to illness but I am a crazy runner person and I will run unless I am dying and/or my legs are broken.  As a result of the aforementioned mistakes, my run did not go as planned.  I quickly realized that running 6 miles at MGP was NOT GOING TO HAPPEN, so I spontaneously decided to downgrade my plan to 2 x 2 miles at MGP.  Despite this downgrade, the run was still a struggle-fest.  It probably didn’t help that I had to blow my nose every 12 seconds.  (I’m sure my fellow gym-goers were thrilled by this.)  Here is a picture of me during my run:

JK, obviously I don't run in a bandana.
JK, obviously I don’t wear a bandana when I run.

Luckily, Saturday morning arrived accompanied by slightly warmer weather and only the flurriest of flurries.  I donned my winter running attire and headed out the door.  Twelve glorious miles here I come!  Screeeeeech…hold the phone.  I spent the first 7 miles struggling down a snowy dirt road.  During the warmer months, this particular road is my favorite, with the exception of one stretch adjacent to the smelliest farm in the entire universe.  For those of you who have not experienced the pleasure of winter running, running on snowy dirt roads is a a lot like running on the beach.  Seven miles felt like an eternity and probably super important stabilizer muscles I didn’t know I have ached after only a couple miles.  Eventually I veered off the beautiful, yet evil, course and found some sweet, sweet pavement.  My legs never fully recovered, but I was able to bust out a fast finish.  I finished Week 1 with 40 miles for the week.

It looks so innocent...
It looks so innocent…

As I alluded to in the title of this post, Week 1 was capped off by a somewhat traumatic incident.  Upon competition of Saturday’s long run, I discovered that not only was my hair tangled into 10,000 intricate and finely woven knots, but it was also frozen!  Instead of spending the hour following my run foam rolling/stretching/drinking my recovery beer smoothie, I was forced to spend it whimpering in the shower with my new best friends Mr. Comb and Mr. Bottle of Conditioner.  The moral of the story is ALWAYS BRAID YOUR HAIR DURING LONG RUNS!

Had I realized the full extent of the problem when I took this picture, there would have been tears in my eyes.

Obviously, I am well into Week 2 at this point, but I will wait until it’s over to summarize the highs and lows.  I will close with a few random thoughts:

  1. I am overall pleased with Week 1.  I hit my goal of 40 miles, and I had some quality runs.  Due to snow/ice/cold, I ran on the treadmill for 28 of those miles and I only feel mildly murderous.
  2. I did a bit of strength training, although I can always do more.  I need to remember to break out the old stretchy bands for some fun-filled hip exercises!  (Including my favorite, the monster walk.)
  3. I need to foam roll more.  Every day, preferably.
  4. I own a lot of running shoes.  I have 6 pairs currently in the rotation, although 3-4 of these are nearing the age of retirement.

    My babies.
    My babies.
  5. I eat a lot of bananas.  Bananas are the perfect food.  I love bananas.
Sometimes I even make banana phone calls.
Sometimes I even make banana phone calls.

Week 1

Week 1 of marathon training started on Monday.  So far so good!  I created my own training plan for this training cycle, which is loosely based on Hal Higdon’s Advanced Plan.  Each week generally follows the same pattern:

Monday – Easy run on the longer side (1/2 the long run distance)

Tuesday – Easy run on the shorter side

Wednesday – Speed, hill, or tempo workout depending on my mood

Thursday – Easy run on the shorter side

Friday – Same distance as Monday, usually at marathon goal pace

Saturday – Long run!

Sunday – Rest/Eat all of the food

I am tracking my runs on a Google Spreadsheet.  All future runs are in red, and all completed runs are in black.  The plan is intended to be a “guide” because I have learned from past training cycles that things do not always go as planned.

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 11.30.30 AM

Due to snow and/or arctic temperatures, all of my runs this week have taken place on the dreadmill hamster wheel treadmill so far.  I have a love/hate relationship with the treadmill.  On one hand, I love that I can get a run in when it is -30 degrees outside and/or there is 3 feet of snow on the ground.  I love that I can run specific paces without thinking about it.  I love that I can run “hill” repeats on a whim.  I love that I can zone out while watching Netflix* on my phone.  However, I hate with a fiery passion that time seems to stand still when I’m running on the treadmill.  Six miles on the treadmill feels like 12 miles outside, and 12 miles on the treadmill feels like an ultramarathon.

* I would never, ever watch every episode ever of Pretty Little Liars while running.

Another thing I hate about the treadmill is that anything over 6.7 mph (~9:00 min/mile) feels like sprinting.  Outside, 9:00 min/mile generally qualifies as an easy pace for me.  Today, for example, I have 6 miles at marathon goal pace (8:00 min/mile) on the agenda.  Given that it is 2 degrees outside (not exaggerating – see photographic evidence below), I will likely run on the treadmill unless it miraculously warms up by at least 18 degrees.  Six treadmill miles at 7.5 mph?  I’m pretty sure my heart rate monitor is already shuddering at the thought.

My propane bill > The number of miles I will run in 2015
My heating bill > The number of miles I will run in 2015

As for tomorrow’s long run of 12 miles, that will be taking place outdoors even it means losing a few toes the feeling in my face.  The thought of running 6 consecutive days on the treadmill, and for 12 miles, makes me want to break things.

Modeling the latest in winter running fashions a few weeks back.
Modeling the latest in winter running fashion a few weeks back.

In addition to running all. the. time., I will be incorporating into my routine as much strength training as possible to prevent injury.  As any runner will tell you, strength training is a necessary evil.  It is necessary because a strong core (especially the glutes and hips!) is crucially important to both preventing injury and improving running performance.  It is evil because time spent strength training is time spent not running.  This may not seem like a big deal, but 1) running is awesome, 2) running is time consuming, and 3) time is precious.  It’s science.

Here’s to hoping for warmer times!

Some day it will be warm enough again that my outdoor runs require water!
Remember when I used to run outside in a tank top, get really sweaty, and carry water?  Yeah, me neither.

By Way of Introduction…

My name is Shannon.  In 16 short weeks, I will be running the Vermont City Marathon.  My big fat goal (BFG) is to qualify for the Boston marathon.  The qualifying time for my age group (F, 18-34) is 3 hours and 35 minutes.  To improve my chances of actually being accepted into the 2016 Boston Marathon, I am going to shoot for 3:30.  This means I must run 26.2 miles at approximately 8:00 min/mile.  Whelp.

I ran my first marathon, also the Vermont City Marathon, on May 26th, 2013.  I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but boy did I learn a lot.  Let’s back up for a second – In 6th grade, I joined the cross country team after a traumatic incident involving my nose and a soccer cleat.  Middle school cross country races were about 1-2 miles long, and despite walking and complaining during most practices, I somehow managed to display some talent when it came to running.

The one time I won a race
That one time I won a xc race in 7th grade.

When high school rolled around, the distance increased but my motivation did not.  I joined the cross country team in 9th and 10th grades, but ultimately quit for good mid-season during 11th grade.  Although I knew I had it in me to be “fast,” I was missing the mental strength/determination/whatever-you-want-to-call-it required to excel in the sport.  I dropped out of more races than I finished.  I faked ankle sprains to get out of practice.  I wanted to love running, but I just could not force myself to get with the program.  When I left cross country practice the day I quit for good, I remember feeling an immense sense of relief that I would never ever ever ever ever have to run again.

Obviously that feeling wore off pretty quickly, because throughout college and law school I ran on and off to keep in shape.  I generally maxed out at about 4-5 miles, which  seemed like an insanely long distance to run at the time.  I flirted with the idea of running a marathon and even briefly “trained” for one, but quickly realized that I did not possess the necessary determination, perseverance, and dedication.  Still, I could never fully shake my desire to join the 26.2 club.

Fast forward to February-ish of 2013.  Realizing that the Vermont City Marathon was a few months away and for reasons I cannot explain, I found a training plan on the internet, condensed it from 16 weeks to 12 weeks, and got to work.  I will never forget my first “long run” of 7 miles.  I did it on the treadmill at 5.2 mph.  I thought I was going to die.  My second “long run” was 8 miles and I ran outside.  Again, I thought I was going to die.  However, slowly but surely I increased my distances until one day I completed 16 miles.  That was the day I actually registered for the marathon.  I knew upon completion of that run that, barring tragedy, I could finish a marathon.  I finished my first marathon in 4:39:45.  I knew nothing about pacing, garmins, or BQ times.  I maxed out at slightly over 30 miles/week.  (Less than I will be running during Week #1 of marathon training this time around.)  I simply ran to finish.

Ignore the chocolate Gu on my chin.
And finish I did! Ignore the chocolate Gu on my chin.

Once I regained my ability to comfortably use the toilet (QUADS!), I realized that I had been bitten hard by the marathon bug.  I immediately started thinking about my next race.  I set goals.  I bought a Garmin 10.  However, my body had a different plan.  A few weeks after the marathon, I suddenly developed debilitating posterior tibial tendonitis (fancy name for shin splints).  I tried EVERYTHING to make the problem go away.  KT tape.  PT.  Compression socks.  New shoes.  Yoga.  Bargaining with the running gods.  Eventually, after 6-8 months, the pain subsided to the point where I could run and train comfortably.

I decided that marathon #2 would also be the Vermont City Marathon.  I wanted to finish in under 4 hours, but based on my time from the 2014 Unplugged 1/2 Marathon, I think I was realistically trained to run 4:10-ish.  To make a long story short, I dropped out of the race around mile 10 due to illness.  Boo.  There were tears.  Lots of tears.  And also lots of vomit.  (TMI?)

This is when things started to get interesting.  A couple of months later, in July of 2014, I ran a local 5K and finished in a time that involved 7-something minute miles.  I had not run a mile that started with a 7 since middle school.  What had just happened?!?  This was a defining moment for me.  I realized that I had potential, and I just had to figure out how to tap into it.  Around this time, I became increasingly active in my local running club, the Central Vermont Runners.  I ran a bunch of races and did well in many of them.  Some highlights included:

  • Berlin Pond 5 Miler – 3rd in my age group, 38:12 (7:39 min/mile)
  • Sodom Pond 4 Miler – 1st in my age group, 28:54 (7:14 min/mile)
  • Leaf Peepers 5K (aka the hilliest 5K ever) – 1st in my age group, 22:56 (7:23 min/mile)
It's always a good day when you win back the $5 race entry fee.
It’s always a good day when you win back the $5 race entry fee.

Meanwhile, throughout the summer I chugged along training for Redemption Marathon #2, the Green Mountain Athletic Association (GMAA) Marathon on October 12, 2014.  I had a big mental boost 3 weeks prior twhen I ran the very hilly and very windy GMAA Common to Common 30K (18.64 miles) in 2:38:27 (8:30 min/mile) as my last long training run.  Despite some calf pain about 2 weeks before the marathon, I managed to toe the line feeling incredibly strong both mentally and physically.   My goal was still to finish in under 4 hours, but I secretly thought I could pull out a time around 3:50.

The race started out well.  I ran the first half in 1:53:13.  Right on track.  I didn’t even feel like I was running a marathon until around mile 16, at which point my stomach started to hurt.  The gels were not sitting well in my stomach AT ALL.  I normally eat a gel every 5-6 miles during a race/long run, but after mile 16 I could only tolerate water.  By mile 20 my stomach was in very painful knots.  I dry heaved a bunch.  I wanted to quit.  I could see my pace increasing on my watch and my goals slowly slipping away.  Luckily, the race was small enough (and the runners spread out enough), that my parents were able to catch up with me on their bikes.  They rode next to me for the next 5 VERY PAINFUL miles.  I think I would have given up had it not been for them.  I did the math and realized that if I could just maintain 10 minute miles until the end, I would still finish in under 4 hours.  At mile 25 I knew I was home free and I told my parents to meet me at the finish.  However, about 400 meters from the end my legs began seizing up and I almost tripped several times.  Several of my friends later told me that it looked like I was hopping toward the finish line.  Somehow I managed to dip deep and fight through the pain to finish in 3:56:49 (9:02 min/mile).  Had the race been 0.5 mile longer, I probably would not have made it.  But I did, and I only shaved 43 minutes off my previous time.  🙂

26.2 miles worth of calories.
26.2 miles worth of calories.

While there is certainly a big difference between running a 3:30 marathon versus a 3:56 marathon, I feel confident that with the right training and a little bit of luck, I can pull it off.  Three weeks after the GMAA marathon, I ran the Race Vermont Fall Half Marathon on the same day as the New York City Marathon.  As you may recall, it was a tad windy that day.  Despite the wind and hilly course, I managed to set a major PR of 1:41:43 (7:46 min/mile).  If I can run that pace for 13.1 miles, I can certainly run 8:00 min/mile for 26.2.

I have a lot of work to do.  Boston here I come!