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.

10303299_10100540351034045_5615357434833461935_n
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.

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.
IMG_1477
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.
IMG_1669
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.

IMG_1673
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!

Rejection

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.

IMG_1558
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.
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!  🙂