Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #20

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornI don’t know how I made it through these last 20 weeks, but with that said…race week has arrived.  I’m both nervous, excited, anxious, and calm.  How is it possible to feel all the things and remain sane?  Well, the vote is still out on that whole remaining sane thing.  HA!

This was definitely a week to turn it down.  And my coach gave me specific instructions that he didn’t want me to take a complete back seat this week, but I could move or change whatever I needed to going into it.  I didn’t change a damn thing.  I did, however, knock my recovery runs down one mile and made sure to keep that pace nice…and…easy.  The last thing I wanted was to go into race morning with lactic acid hanging around in these legs.  NOPE NOPE NOPE!

As I mentioned previously, my coach does an untraditional taper.  He does lower mileage (although I was in the 60s, 50s, 40s for the last three weeks)…kinda.  He makes a lot of it all about that speed work.  Getting those legs to fire…right at the end of a run…when they are the most exhausted.  But this week really didn’t have too much on it.  My longest run was 7 miles, and that was the ONLY one that really had a speed element to it.  And it was a 4 mile fast finish.  Other than that…strides on the last day I ran before the race.  But I’ll cover all of that in this week recap.

It’s race week…let’s go!

Monday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.

I love that even in taper, my coach trusts me with “Choose Your Own Adventure” runs.  Knowing that this is race week, I really wanted to make my primary focus recovery.  I want to hit that start line feeling fresh and ready.  I was stressing over the forecast a little too much, because it looks like this will be my coldest marathon I have run.  Thanks to Canada and this arctic blast that is attacking our nation.  HA!  Anyway, I woke up to weather JUST above freezing.  So it was a long sleeve, capris kind of a run.  I didn’t wear my Dunkin’ Donuts hat…don’t know why.  I just didn’t.  And the legs did a little shakeout.  They felt good for a Monday.  I opted to do 4 instead of my usual 5 miles…and somehow snagged some negative splits in the process.  I called it a day.  No personal training.  Just my normal PT stretches.  I didn’t even do the additional hip strengtheners this week, not wanting to accidentally tweak something.  Simple.  Basic.  Got it done.

Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: 5-8 MILES WITH 3-5 MILE FINISH AT MARATHON PACE – GOAL 6.5 MILES – EASY DOES IT UNTIL THE FAST FINISH AT THE END

I woke up on Tuesday morning to 50 degree weather.  Yep.  From 33 degrees Monday morning to 50 degrees on Tuesday.  Fun times.  I knew he gave me the option of 8 miles…and if this was training on a normal week and I was feeling good…I might have pushed for it.  BUT…it’s taper.  It’s race week. I don’t like half miles…so I rounded up to 7…and I opted to go right in the middle with that fast finish, doing 3 easy miles and pushing pace on those last 4.  It felt hard.  It shouldn’t have felt hard.  But, I did at least get it done.  My sinuses were having a fun reaction to the yo-yo temperatures, so that was fun.  Other than that…I took it for what it was.  Finished as strong as I could for the day, then went inside to shower and just do my usual stretching.  Keeping it nice and easy.  Oh, and I went and voted.  Because that needed to happen!

Wednesday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.

Second verse, same as the first.  My only other “Choose Your Own Adventure” run for the week.  Happy to have had 2 of these.  I opted to do 4 again, unless I just wasn’t feeling it.  That’s the glory about these…I control them.  I did make a note to back off on pace and just let the legs work a little less.  My last 2 miles were much quicker than my first 2 miles, but that’s because it took me 2 miles to feel warm.  Isn’t that fun.  OH…did I not mention that the temperature dipped back down to just above freezing again?  Another morning with 33 degrees.  Oh…joy.  And the fact that I went from a warm apartment to run and it took me 2 miles to get my legs going was a bit of a concern.  I just tried very hard not to let it get into my head.  I did my stretches twice that morning.  And I foam rolled before work.  After work, I had a sports massage and I was so thankful for that.  Basically all that is holding me back right now is the weather.

Thursday: BASE FUN 4-8 MILES + 4-6 STRIDES – GOAL 6 MILES – EASY OVERALL EFFORT

It was another rainy Thursday morning.  Just like last week.  UGH.  MEH.  BLAH.  I originally had thought about just doing the run on the treadmill, but I can’t do strides on the tready.  Nope.  So…I opted to just go and get it done.  It never stopped raining on me…but thankfully, we were back up to 50 degrees.  WHAT THE HELL WEATHER?!  So, I definitely didn’t want to push anything. Not even the hills I go up and down.  This was one of my slowest training runs to date.  And some of it might have been fear of slipping on the wet pavement and falling.  I won’t lie.  But I really just wanted it all to feel super easy.  It didn’t.  I blame the rain.  But, I did get in 6 miles.  See…I was given the option of going up to 8…but I really am doing JUST what needs to be done this week.  I reset for strides and pushed those legs on some short sprints…then went inside to take a hot shower, stretch, and get to work.  I met my friend, Melissa, for coffee after work…and she gave me my start line pep talk just in case she couldn’t get that out at my start line.  I appreciated it.  Went home to eat dinner.  Was supposed to pack.  Didn’t pack.  Went to bed by 8:30…because I really wanted to get some quality sleep knowing that I probably won’t sleep much on Friday night.

Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!

Thank God for small miracles.  I woke up at normal time…of course.  I didn’t set an alarm.  I just woke up.  So I lounged and dozed and finally got up at 5 am.  I showered.  I stretched.  I was thankful to not have to do one single mile today.  I was thankful that it was 26 degrees outside and I got to stay inside, stretch, hydrate, and sit under my snuggie, working on this blog.  That’s what I did.  I eventually made breakfast and my roommate and I got to packing…pretty much every option for any scenario on race day.  I still don’t know what I should or want to wear during the race.  We haven’t had weather this cold yet here…so I am at a total loss.  Not to mention, I have never run a marathon or a long distance run in temperatures like this.  It doesn’t sound fun.  It’s producing a lot of anxiety…but we’re working through it.  We had to wait for Dragon King’s Daughter to open so I could order my “magic sushi” to take with me to Indianapolis.  Then we hit the road to get up to Indy, check into the hotel, and hit the expo.  The rest of the time, I was going to spend in the hotel…rolling, stretching, and keeping myself off my feet.  I wanted to feel good Saturday morning.

Saturday: CNO FINANCIAL GROUP INDIANAPOLIS MONUMENTAL MARATHON

Goal: Qualify for Boston – needed 3:40 time.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Finished in 3:35:13.

More to come in actual post race recap!  This girl is going back to Boston in 2021!  This is my second fastest marathon…EVER.  This beats out my 2nd marathon, the Marshall Marathon, by about 42 seconds.  Super proud.  Super sore.  But my day didn’t end with that finish line.  Then I went and sat outside in Indianapolis for the USL Eastern Conference Finals between the Indy Eleven and…Louisville City FC.  We won.  In overtime.  It was a long day of being cold.

Sunday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!

I just can’t sleep the night after I run a marathon.  I was up until after midnight, watching Mindhunter (finished Season 2) and was still NOT tired.  I tossed and turned all night.  Finally got up and decided to finish this blog.  Will take a short 20 minute walk on the hotel treadmill this morning before grabbing breakfast, packing, loading up the car, and heading out for some shopping and lunch (you know I’m going to Woody’s).  Then, the long car ride home to Louisville, where I still need to buy groceries, meal prep, and all the usual stuff.  This coming week will bring my 20-30 minute walks (just like I did post Glass City Marathon in April).  I want to get back to spin classes…all the stuff I stopped doing when marathon training took over my life.  Looking forward to this recovery time while I make plans for 2020, which now doesn’t need to include a marathon!

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #19

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornGuys…we have 19 weeks of hard training down…and only one more to go until the big day.  Am I nervous?  Of course.  There’s something scary about putting your goals out there for people to see…for putting your training out there for people to read.  Setting big goals in and of themselves can be a scary ordeal.

But there is no turning back now.  We’re in the homestretch.  That start line and that finish line are waiting…

So let’s do this thing.

Monday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.

I was so thankful to have another Monday as a “Choose Your Own Adventure” kind of run.  After moving my long run last week to Sunday, it was nice to not have to worry about hitting paces or doing some sort of workout.  I didn’t know this, however, until the morning when I woke up.  My coach sends through my plan after his children go to bed…and I had already gone to bed ahead of that.  What can I say?  Rest and sleep have been a priority this entire training cycle and it has made a world of difference.  So…I went out there, watch covered, and put in some miles.  I kept it easy and relaxed and just let my legs do what they needed and wanted to do that day.  No pressure.  No anxiety.  Just a simple run to shake out the legs.  I finished up with 5 miles for the morning, because my legs felt that good.  I did my additional hip strengthening exercises with my morning round of stretches this morning.  Then, at noon, at met with my personal trainer, Corey, who put me through a leg day workout, targeting some muscles that don’t get a lot of love.  I stretched and foam rolled that evening and went to bed early (as always)

Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: SPEED WORK – MONA FARTLEKS W/ 1 MILE HARD EFFORT

I didn’t want to incorporate speed during my taper…but it’s important to keep that rolling.  And my coach, thankfully, handed me my favorite of the speed workouts to do.  The Mona Fartleks.  If you haven’t tried these yet…DO IT!  You’ll see what I mean.  Mona Fartleks work like this: 2 mile warm up, 2 x 90 sec, 4 x 60 sec, 4 x 30 sec, 4 x 15 sec (with equal recovery after each at a pace faster than base pace), 1 mile hard effort, 2 mile cool down.  Simple.  Basic.  FUN!  It was a cool morning…and I felt fast.  I really did.  I kept my warm up nice and easy then really hit those intervals.  I even managed a mile in the 6s for pace at the end.  My cool down…faster than my warm up, but it usually is.  I mean…I wasn’t expecting my legs to respond like that, but they felt ready to go.  They felt strong.  It worked out to be 8 miles for the day.  I went inside and did my second day of additional hip strengtheners with my morning stretches.  Went to work.  Came home and did those evening stretches before hitting the sack for some sleep.

Wednesday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.

It was the perfect morning for another easy “Choose Your Own Adventure Day.”  When I have those in the middle of the week, it always means another bit of speed is coming the following day.  With that in mind, my watch was covered and I went out and ran comfortably.  And apparently comfortably that day was…faster than anticipated.  I felt amazing the entire time.  Rested.  Strong.  Capable.  This is what you need to be feeling this week of training…and I’m hitting it.  I did another 5 miles this morning, surprised with the average pace at the end.  I hoped it wouldn’t hinder my run the following day.  I stretched.  I went to work.  And I met with Corey at lunch for personal training, focusing on triceps.  We kept the session shorter than usual because he wanted to make sure I had no lactic acid built up as I go into race week.  He’s a runner.  He’s an athlete.  He gets these things.  That evening I had a great sports massage and all felt right with the world.  Except for…the rain.

Thursday: 8-10 MILES WITH A 3-5 MILE FINISH AT MARATHON PACE – GOAL 9 MILES – EASY DOES IT UNTIL FAST FINISH AT END

I didn’t casually mention rain yesterday for no reason.  When I woke up early to fit in this run (knowing I wasn’t going to do anything over the goal distance)…it was pouring rain.  Fun fact…if it starts to rain on me after I’m out running, I’m okay with it.  I don’t like starting in the rain.  At all.  And…if this wasn’t as long of a run, I probably would have gone to the gym and done it on the treadmill.  My plan was to go out and do 5 easy and 4 at marathon pace.  When the rain picked up that morning…I hit four miles and chose to just hit 5 at marathon pace instead.  So…off I went.  And even in the pouring rain (thankfully it was 58 degrees outside)…which I always fret over slipping…I nailed it.  Completely nailed it.  I even felt like I could have pushed harder, but the purpose of the exercise was to hit marathon pace, not half marathon pace.  This was also the first time since July that I have run with my watch uncovered.  And it didn’t stress me out at all.  That being said, I was very happy to finish up this run and get out of the rain.  9 miles for the day…5 of them fast.  It was a HUGE confidence boost to do that in rain.  I did my stretches in the morning and night.  Oh…and by the time I left work, winter had arrived.  We legit had snowflakes in the air.  NOPE!

Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!

I didn’t sleep in much for some reason this Friday.  I kept waking up.  So, eventually, I just got myself out of bed and went to be a little productive.  I erased my whiteboard art and went and did up something new for the month of November.  I used Simba from The Lion King (the original animated one) with his mane of leaves.  Because it’s fall.  Leaves mean fall.  And I love drawing Disney characters.  I showered.  I stretched.  I finished filling out my paper work for my podiatrist.  My appointment got moved to just before lunch today.  I don’t anticipate this being a long visit…but hoping he can do something about some of my nails (marathon training for 2 years = ugly feet).  And…after work, we hit up Dragon King’s Daughter for “magic sushi” as I prepare for my long run on Saturday.

Saturday: 11-13 MILES WITH 5 MILE FINISH AT MARATHON PACE – GOAL 12 MILES – EASY DOES IT UNTIL FAST FINISH AT END

Woke up to weather in the 20s.  No joke.  It was 28° and I was not happy!  Not one bit.  I don’t do well in temperatures below freezing.  It’s part of having Raynaud’s.   It sucks to try to run when you can’t feel your feet.  So, I admit…I was in a bad mood at the start of this run.  Not even going to lie.  I didn’t even plan out a route or think it through the night before.  I just was determined that this run was going to be awful.  It wasn’t too bad.  It was just cold.  But guess what…I warmed up.  The sky was crystal clear.  The sun came out.  And while I wouldn’t call it warm by any means, my movement did finally give me some feeling in my extremities.  YAY!  The same could not be said for my iPhone 7.  The battery died 30 minutes into my run.  Guys…I can’t have my phone battery dying when the weather is cold.  It’s a safety issue for ME.  Against my will, I ended up turning the phone off and finishing up the run, with the last 5 miles being along my super-hilly Thanksgiving course.  WHY do I do this?  Why do I forget (I run this course all the time) how hard those hills are?  But I pushed my fast finish at marathon pace.  It was a bit of a struggle today, but my last long run was done.  I took a warm shower.  I put on real (warm) clothes.  I watched Mindhunter with my breakfast gluten-free bagel.  I went grocery shopping (all day).  I came home and put away groceries.  Stretched.  Watched Top Chef.  Watched Mindhunter.  Then watched Louisville City FC win (on the road) the Eastern Conference Semifinals.  Guess what?  The Eastern Conference Finals are being held in Indianapolis…the afternoon of my marathon.  Guess what we’re getting tickets to go watch!!  It was a late night (for me) but worth staying up for.

Sunday: BASE RUN 5-8 MILES + 4-6 STIDES – GOAL 7 MILES – EASY OVERALL EFFORT

The time change messed with me.  I always panic when we have to fall back or jump forward.  Especially when I am meeting with friends to go running.  I set my alarm clock (which I needed to adjust the time, but in hindsight didn’t actually move it when we jumped forward in the spring…so I totally had the time wrong.  But I also set my phone alarm.  Then I woke up, not trusting it.  And my alarm clock (was wrong) said one time.  My phone and Garmin said another.  The clock in the living room said the same time as my phone, and the clock in the kitchen had the same time as my alarm clock.  I was driving myself crazy.  I finally asked Siri what time it was…and my phone was correct.  I just don’t trust technology to actually fall back.  Deep breath.  So, I snuggled down for another hour…but didn’t really sleep.  Finally got up to stretch, hydrate, fuel, and get my stuff together.  I figured, with it being another below freezing morning, I’d have to give myself time to scrape the windows of my car before driving to meet my friend Ron for my last weekend run before the marathon.  Murder fog rolled in as I arrived.  He had gone to do his additional 2 miles ahead of our meeting.  And we ran through it for a mile before it started to lift and the sun came back out.  We kept it easy and talked a lot about race strategy and the weather (he’s a meteorologist) and how to dress.  It’s all confusing to me.  Aside from the weather (which is an uncontrollable), I do feel confident and good and better than ever as this training cycle wraps up.  We threw in the strides at the end of the run.  Walked it back to the cars.  Stretched.  And that was it.  The last long run before the big day.  8 miles total.

So, yeah…a part of me is internally freaking out because I have put this HUGE goal out there for everyone to see, read about, and follow along with.  But, it honestly doesn’t feel like any pressure to perform has been put on me.  I trust my coach…his plan…my training…and I know I am capable of having a great race.  Now…I need the day to go well.  You never know on race day what can happen.  But…honestly, I have never felt more ready to run 26.2 miles.

Six days to go.  And, let me tell you, my friends running the NYC Marathon have been quite the inspiration!  Here’s to staying focused, healthy, and strong in these final days before the start line.

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #18

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornIt’s taper…but sometimes it doesn’t feel like it.  I’m still around 50 miles this week.  Not unusual, to be honest.  This was about what happened when I ran Glass City Marathon back in April.  I told you…my coach is very untraditional when it comes to the actual taper leading into a marathon.  That being said, mileage did go DOWN from last week…so it is technically a taper, right?

RIGHT?!

This week was crazy.  Lots of rearranging due to events and/or weather.  Tuesday night I was out late at the KFC Yum! Center seeing Celine Dion perform.  So I flipped speed work to Thursday.  Saturday’s weather was calling for TONS of rains (up to 3 inches) and some strong wind gusts…so I flipped my long run to Sunday.  So, structure isn’t a thing this week.  This week, it was all about fitting it all in.  October has been a crazy month and we are now two weeks out from the big day.  I need things to slow down a little.

Let’s take a look at the week, shall we?

Monday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.

After last week’s hellish week of speed, I was thankful that Monday showed up as a choose your own adventure run.  That is…I choose the distance and the pace…depending on how I feel and what I want to do.  I always appreciate these runs.  No pressure to put in any sort of long run.  I could stop at 1 mile…I never go over 5.  I was thankful for the recovery day and just let me legs do what the wanted and needed that day.  Kept my watch covered and just paid attention to if/when I was struggling with hills or feeling like I needed to stop.  It was just what I needed and I was happy that this turned, allowing me to not have to think about my run.  Just plug in and go.  I ended up with 5 that morning, as I felt good and the temperatures seemed just perfect. Low to mid 50s…that’s a happy place for me.  I did my additional hip strengtheners with my stretches this morning as well.  AND…I had a personal training session with Corey, focusing on legs.  It was a busy and full day, but thankfully the run felt good.

Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN 6-8 MILES – GOAL 7 MILES  + 4-6 STRIDES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN

Tuesday morning brought one of the speed elements I was given this week, but thankfully, it’s the least intimidating.  Strides.  My run was to be kept at my base pace, not really pushing it but keeping it where my rhythm naturally falls.  It was almost 60 degrees this morning, so I was back in a tank top and loving it.  I ran 7.5 miles without issue, keeping it around my usual base pace (sometimes faster, it just depends on hills).  And I felt amazing.  I added on the strides at the end, and my legs felt fast and strong as I pushed through 6 of them.  That was 8 miles total for the morning.  And after my shower, I went ahead and did my next round of hip strengtheners with my stretches.  Got through the work day, ate dinner, and headed out to the Celine Dion concert in Louisville.  The show was great…and I got home late.  That being said, it wasn’t yet midnight (I got in bed at 11 pm), so I didn’t have to get out and run my miles before bed for Wednesday.  And I set a later alarm, knowing that I didn’t have my big (and high mileage) speed work that following day anymore.  Thank God for a flexible coach and schedule.  I slept really well, surprisingly…just not enough despite a later (by about an hour) alarm.

Wednesday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.

From tank top to sleeves.  Wednesday morning, I headed out to run just after 4:30 am.  Thankful for the change to an easy, recovery run, I was hoping to at least get 3 miles in.  I would let my legs and body tell me what I had in me.  It was 41 degrees, but felt like 39.  That was a big change from the 60 degrees the previous morning.  I started off nice and easy and, while I felt tired this morning, my legs apparently felt good.  I was a little surprised by the overall pace when I uncovered my watch at the end of my run.  I never pushed pace, or even worked hard on the hills.  Recovery is very important and even I take recovery runs seriously.  Since it all felt so fluid and good that morning, I went ahead and did 5 miles.  After a shower, I did my stretches twice…and then later that evening, after work and dinner, I went and got a sports massage…which I felt I really needed!  I went right to bed when I got home because the second speed element was in my track workout (that I don’t do on a track) the following morning.

Thursday: TRACK WORKOUT: 1 MILE WU; 10X800M (GOAL: 3:30 OR ~7 MIN PACE) W/ EQUAL RECOVERY (AT A JOG, NOT WALKING), 1 MILE CD

It had been a full two days since I had an actual foam rolling session.  Granted, I did get a sports massage the night before, but when I stepped out (back in short sleeves because the temperature was in the mid-40s), I really knew I needed to get some good foam rolling in after this.  I won’t lie, 800s are my LEAST favorite speed workout.  Seriously.  I feel like they take forever to actually run (even though, for me, it’s close to 3:30 minutes…but that’s an eternity, honestly).  I don’t have a track nearby or open to the public…so I use a stretch of road and just run up and down it.  My warmup was nice and easy, followed by some dynamic stretches (high knees and butt kicks) before I launched into all TENTEN!! of my 800s that morning.  I could feel how each one was becoming harder and harder to hit, but I actually managed to keep the prescribed pace and never was slower than Daniel wanted me to aim for.  So, that was good.  In fact, before I could even fill in the comments on the training app we use, he was already commenting on how I nailed this one.  It was a good feeling.  So was finishing this up.  Because I really was not loving the speed work.  The cool down mile gave me 12 total for the day, 10 of which were the run/jog intervals.  I really made sure I kept it at a light jog, so I could feel recovered enough to push on every interval that followed.  I succeeded.  I stretched that morning and later that night went on a 5 mile run (doing the Thanksgiving route) with my friend Melissa.  It had been forever since we had run together and, she really wanted to do this route WITH me.  I don’t get invited to run with people often, and I don’t care if you run slower than me or not, I love running with people.  We kept this at a very, very easy pace because we both needed it that way.  After I downed a bagel for dinner, I stretched again and FINALLY got in some foam rolling.  I went to bed, setting a late alarm because my rest day was coming.

Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!

I was definitely sleeping better this week than I had been in the previous weeks.  So, that’s an improvement.  That being said, I woke up a full hour before my alarm.  I tried to lounge in bed and doze, but I was awake.  So…I got up, showered, did my stretches, got ready for work, ate breakfast, had coffee, survived the workday, came home for dinner.  My coach and my training partner opted to move my long run to Sunday due to the weather on Saturday…so I wasn’t feeling pressed for time.  I started a new season of Top Chef (I’m on the season in Boston, ironically), went to bed, setting a later alarm once again because I knew I was either going to do a short run in a gentle rain, or head to the gym to use the treadmill if it was a harder rain. At this point in the game, I’m 2 weeks out from my goal race…why risk slipping on wet leaves or pavement, twisting an ankle in a pothole that I thought was a puddle, or putting my immune system to the test in inclement weather?  Not worth it. I’d make the call in the morning.

Saturday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.

Well, it was pouring when I woke up.  It was.  But I still had some time to make the decision.  I got over 9 hours of sleep, so I was feeling rested and ready, regardless.  I went ahead and did my stretches and hydrated.  I stepped outside, and it was still a steady rain, so I decided that, the best thing for ME to do, was to do this easy, recovery run inside.  On the treadmill.  You guys know I’m not a fan of the treadmill, but this was definitely the right choice.  I know a lot of people who were training and/or racing out in the weather, and that’s fine.  I don’t risk anything this close to race day.  And while it is possible it could rain on November 9…I have run and raced in the rain before.  And the training ground is NOT my proving ground and never will be.  I went to the gym and did a very easy pace (with a 1% incline) for 5 miles.  I forgot to set the incline at first, and my shins were killing me.  I was really confused and then I figured that out.  Sometimes a flat treadmill works best, sometimes that additional incline works magic.  I needed it today.  Honestly, I really kept an easy pace…probably easier than I would have done if I had been outside.  And that was the entire purpose of this run.  I went home afterwards, ate a big breakfast that my roommate prepared for me.  Then went grocery shopping.  Came home, prepared my breakfast to eat before my long run on Sunday…watched some soccer and rugby…and then went out to Dragon King’s Daughter for my “magic sushi” as my long run was tomorrow.  The playoffs for the Eastern Conference Finals were happening at Slugger Field tonight, but with the rain, despite having paid for the tickets, we bowed out.  Sitting in the rain and strong winds just didn’t sound appealing at all.  I went to bed early…hoping our soccer team pulled off a win…and preparing for my long run, most of which, thankfully, I’d have some company for.

Sunday: 14-18 MILE LONG RUN – GOAL 16 MILES – WITH 3 MILE RACE PACE FINISH: EASY PACE – DON’T PUSH IT! AND PRACTICE RACE DAY FUELING STRATEGY. AT THE END, CLIMB DOWN TO RACE PACE FOR 3-4 MILES.

With the whole intention of tapering down, I could have easily have gone on the higher end and pushed 18 miles.  But I honestly felt the goal of 16 was enough for this week.  And, thankfully, my training partner was free both days this weekend, so when we flipped to the better weather of Sunday from Saturday’s lousy weather…he was still able to join me and help me with my last push at the end.  I ended up getting up at 5 am.  This gave me time to stretch, do my pushups, eat breakfast, foam roll, get dressed, put on sunscreen, fuel, pack up my hydration vest, put on reflective gear, and head out the door at 7:20 am…without feeling rushed.  And I still had over 8 hours of sleep the night before.  I ran from my apartment down to the YMCA, where Ron was going to meet me.  I had 4 miles down there, and Ron showed up (a little late thanks to crazy road closures and traffic) and we headed out.  We kept the pace pretty easy on the 6 miles down the Greenway…which felt fast because we had this great tailwind.  BUT…this also meant when we turned around to head back (and do the fast finish) we’d have a headwind.  We eased into it…and both decided to just do the 3 miles fast at the end.  We hit it and Ron was amazing at keeping me on pace and making sure I didn’t push too much when I didn’t need to.  It felt easy having someone worry about the pace for me…and he’s really good at it.  We needed to beat a train, so the last .1 of our run was up a hill, but we were at or just slightly faster than my marathon pace.  Spirits lifted.  Feeling so good.  He was kind enough to give me a lift home afterwards.

So…we’re 13 days away from the official start of the Monumental Marathon…and with every run I’m growing in confidence and feeling more and more ready.  That’s the whole point of taper.

And, to be honest, I’m hoping that the miles go down a lot more this week…but we shall see what my coach has in store. I trust him.  It trust the process.  And for the first time in a long time…I trust my training.

2 more weeks…let’s go.

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #16

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornRemember how I said I was in taper?  I was apparently confused.  Out of my mind.  Wrong.  Because my coach had one more long, long run up his sleeve.  And I didn’t know about it until I was leaving the Kentucky Center of the Arts.  I had gone to see Dear Evan Hansen.  I was in a pretty dress and heels.  I had a message come through from my coach telling me my schedule was posted and that I could choose how to run the 5K I was participating in on Saturday, but to not go 100%…because we (as in me…he wasn’t doing it with me, HA) had one more long, long run to tackle.

I flipped to my calendar and it was staring me down.  One final 20-22 miler.

Here. We. Go.

Monday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.

Thank goodness for easy, recovery days.  With as stacked as last week was with three 13.1 runs…I was happy to have the chance to rest up a little.  Especially since I had a late night with the Broadway show.  I slept in as much as I could…then got up to go out for an easy run.  The temperatures had dropped into the high 50s.  It was supposedly raining.  It wasn’t.  It was a nice run that morning.  No pushing pace.  I ran faster than I had been in the past…probably because I had no humidity weighing me down.  It was a good morning for a good run.  Even if I wore a hat because of rain and it didn’t rain.  I ended up with just over 5 miles.  No personal training…which was a blessing with the week I had leading into this one.

Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN 6-8 MILES – GOAL 7 MILES  + 4-6 STRIDES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN

On an even more perfect morning temperature-wise, I went out in sleeves and some gloves (if temps are in the 40s or below…gloves always because Raynauds is real friends) and shorts and just let my legs do the talking.  I reminded myself not to push any sort of pace.  Just to go with the flow…stay in control of my breath.  And let this run be the miles I needed that day.  I ended up with 7.5 when I stopped.  Then, I got to add strides on to the end.  Six of them.  And I felt fast and strong and I was fast and strong.  And that’s the bonus of the cooler weather.  When you suffer and die and cry throughout summer as you sweat it out…you fly in the fall.  Hoping this trend continues because there comes a point where it gets too cold for me to function.  And right now…we’re right in my happy place.  Ended with 8 miles for the day.  Also tacked on my additional hip strengthening exercises to the stretches I do every day.

Wednesday: INSTRUCTIONS: TRACK WORKOUT – 1-2 MILE WU; 7 X 800M W/ EQUAL RECOVERY; 1-2 MILE CD – AFTER 1-2 MILE WU, DO SOME DYNAMIC DRILLS TO LOOSEN UP FURTHER. THIS IS A REPEAT OF A PIOR WORKOUT. WE ARE SHOOTING FOR AROUND 3:30 FOR THE *ON* TIME (~7 MIN PACE) AND THEN RECOVERY CAN BE LIGHT BUT NEEDS TO BE JOGGING, NOT WALKING.

Wednesday was a bad day.  Not that anything tragic or life changing happened.  But I had a double digit run on the schedule, so I had to go to bed SUPER early on Tuesday.  Then, I had to wake up every super earlier than usual on Wednesday morning.  I wasn’t loving it.  Not at all.  I also wasn’t loving the 800s that were scheduled.  I will gladly and happily force myself to do speed work when asked, but I LOATHE 800s.  The instant I got up, I went and made my Maurten 160 Drink Mix up and began to drink it while I was getting dressed, putting in contacts, all the things. I got my hydration bag ready to go and I headed out for my speed work.  And then…my stomach decided to be on the fritz all morning.  I just think it doesn’t like having things fed to it at 3 am before pushing a fast pace.  At all.  So, had to stop a couple of times for that, but felt better and rounded it out.  I also feel that EVERY FREAKIN’ TIME I have speed work, the road I cross on the stretch that I run for it (no track…because this area is the worst) has the most traffic of any other day, no matter the hour.  UGH!  But, you know, maybe it wasn’t perfect, but I hit my paces, recovered properly and wrapped it up with stretching.  I also had personal training with Corey that afternoon.  He, thankfully, kept it basic…challenging, but nothing too intense. And for that, I appreciate him.  Also…Annie Mays didn’t have soft pretzels…so lunch was a no-go.  Had to improvise.  It just wasn’t my day.

Thursday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.

I love a good recovery run.  We were back in the 50s this morning, so I kept the short sleeves and shorts, but ditched the gloves before I even went out the door.  My goal, once again, was just to let my body do what it needed to that morning.  I know that I have a pretty stacked weekend, and one rest day (which will involve the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Iroquois Park), I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize how my body would feel going into those.  I figured 3-5 miles would be perfect.  I felt good out there. My turnover felt amazing.  My breath stayed controlled.  And I finished up with 5 miles.  Went inside and did my second day of additional hip strengtheners with my stretches.  Had to walk a bit farther to the office due to Harvest Homecoming happening downtown.  And spent a good chunk of my morning standing in line for Masonic Donuts (which I can’t eat, but my office loves them…except for this year…or something).  But, it was a good way to head into the weekend.

Friday: REST/RECOVERY

Full rest day!  YAY!!  I slept over 8 hours.  Got up to shower.  Did two rounds of my stretches and my foam rolling, just because I was unsure of when/if I would be able to get to it that night with the Pumpkin Walk happening.  I went into work…favorite t-shirt day…ready to sit and stand at my desk to get work done, go pick up Amanda (roomie’s sister), go to get Indian food for dinner, then head (weather permitting) to Iroquois Park to do the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular.  It was a bit chilly, but the worst of the rain happened while we were under the canopy of the trees.  It was a good way to wrap up the evening.  I went right to bed when I got home.

Saturday: RACE FOR THE CURE 5K – YOU CAN APPROACH THIS HOWEVER YOU WOULD LIKE OTHER THAN PROBABLY NOT A FULL OUT EFFORT

Let me preface this by saying that this didn’t feel like an all-out effort.  Not one bit.  In fact, for the first two miles of the race, I couldn’t feel my feet because I was so cold.  Most of this will be covered in my official blog on the race itself, but I felt good this morning.  I had a fantastic group of people running on my team for my mom, Dottie Brady, showing their support and honoring her and others in her family.  I love all of them for showing up and running for this cause.  So, I ended up averaging a 7:07 mile for the 3.03 (the course was either short or the GPS cut out when we went through the tunnel twice) miles, finishing third overall and first female.  I had a sweet woman come over when I finished and just gave me a hug and I loved her for that.  I needed it.  It was an emotional race and I felt so supported by my friends and team.  And for that…I am thankful.  So, it may appear I went all-out, but honestly, I had more in the tank.  But tomorrow’s run will be a good judgement on how I ran this one.  I felt amazing the entire time…and the cheers and shouts from not just my team members, but also the people along the course and in the race was uplifting.  What an amazing race!

Sunday: 18-22 MILE LONG RUN – EASY PACE – DON’T PUSH IT! AND PRACTICE RACE-DAY FUELING STRATEGY.

To be honest…I expected today to suck.  I really did.  After the 5K, a day full of grocery shopping, grabbing “magic sushi” during Harvest Homecoming (traffic and parking nightmare, friends), and a chilly Louisville City FC soccer match…I didn’t have high hopes for this run.  I set an alarm for 5:15 am.  Got up, put in contacts, ate breakfast, stretched, hydrated, got dressed, drank my Maurten 320 Drink Mix, and got ready to head out as it was getting light out.  It was 36° outside, so I put on bright yellow capris and a long sleeve shirt with gloves.  And I realize I would have been cold for a few miles, but I probably would have been fine in short sleeves and shorts with the gloves.  Eventually.  I wasn’t pushing pace at all, and I was doing what I could to make it so that when I did my Thanksgiving course at the end of the run, I could head straight home.  The cooler weather was nice, but I did feel overdressed after a time.  I rolled up my sleeves halfway through the run.  I did practice my fueling…and I definitely have that dialed in for race day.  YAY!  And I felt strong, even on the super hilly back half of this run.  I finished it up, feeling confident about the race four weeks from yesterday.  Honestly, I’m as ready as I’m going to be.  Now it’s just a matter of taking care of myself through taper.  I’ve been a bit sluggish the rest of today…but aside from that, feeling good.  Happy that taper has officially (for real this time) started!  YAY!

Bonus Sunday inspiration was Kipchoge’s world record 1:59:40 marathon finish on Saturday…and Sunday was also the 6th Anniversary (to the day) of me running my first marathon and getting my BQ.  I hope it serves for further inspiration and motivation as the weeks wrap up and I head into my 16th marathon.

I have no idea what my week will look like, save for a half marathon on Saturday of this coming week.  I anticipate that I’ll be told to take this one easy and not push the pace.  And that’s fine by me.  I’d like to just cruise a half marathon because I’m tired.  I’ve had some pretty crazy weeks these past two weeks, and I’m ready to start seeing some downtime.

Who else is happy to hit taper time?  Anyone else running Urban Bourbon next Saturday?

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #11

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornSometimes in training, you have to learn how to adapt.  And sometimes that means that the runs might be harder.  Sometimes it means that your hard pace looks slower on paper, but the effort is there.  Sometimes it means that you have to do two days of speed work back-to-back in order to have a bit of a life outside of marathon training.

Guys, I don’t know how I ever fit in gym mornings and time with friends and all that prior to this training cycle.  Because, honestly, I don’t feel like I have much casual, free, leisure time anymore.  I train in the morning, I do personal training sessions two times a week, I go to work, I come home, I stretch and foam roll, and in between all of that…I survive by prepping and eating and just making sure I get plenty of rest so that this body can continue to power through the workouts, training, and eventually, another marathon.

I am tired.  I have been living in a constant state of exhaustion for the past 2 years.  And with this past year, a lot of focus being on prioritizing rest/sleep…I just run out of time.  I knew heading into this week that things were going to get crazy.  Why?

Because I had concert tickets to see Rob Thomas…on Wednesday night.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT!  So, after a bit of debate, I decided the only thing I could do was rearrange my workouts.  I thought all the concerts/shows I had tickets for came AFTER my cruise, but I was wrong.  Rob Thomas slotted in ahead of it.  In the middle of the week.  Not going wasn’t an option.  Fun fact: I met Rob Thomas back in 1998 when I lived in Birmingham, Alabama.  And, it had been FOREVER since I’d made time to go to a concert on a “school night.”  HA!

So, let’s dive in to the insanity of this week.

Monday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN – GOAL 7 MILES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN

The best part about this past Monday was that it was Labor Day!  HOLIDAY!  Do you know what this meant?  I slept in.  I ran in the daylight.  I had been out at my friend’s house on Sunday night for a Labor Day cookout.  I indulged in more than a few Gluten Free Vegan S’Mores.  I had a good amount of food, and enjoyed my time hanging out with some of my favorite people.  We left late and I crawled into bed without setting an alarm. I woke up at my usual time and made myself NOT get up at that point.  I did get up to stretch and head out for a run in the early morning.  It was sunny, and a little humid, and the easy, recovery run felt a bit harder than it should have.  I think it was the extra sugar that night, but it was worth it.  Campfire S’mores are the best.  The run was nothing to write home about.  I just sort of let myself cruise, but it was a struggle at times, especially near the end.  After over 16 miles of pounding on concrete at marathon pace in the Parklands the day before, my legs were not loving the movement or miles at all.  They felt tired.  And that happens.  I made sure to give them some good foam rolling time.  I was planning on planting  my booty on the couch and binge watching Mindhunter on Netflix all Monday, but one of my best friends was in the hospital for surgery and I went and bought her a gift and delivered it to her.  I did manage some meal prep, 2 episodes of Mindhunter, and finished off the day watching Free Solo with dinner.  It was a long, productive, and very condensed day.  But, that’s holidays for you. The run was a total of 7 miles…nice and easy on very tired legs.

Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: TEMPO RUN – 1 MILE WU; 3X2 MILES AT TEMPO (7:20-7:50) W/ 0.5 MILES RECOVERY; 1 MILE CD

UGH!  Speed work.  Not just speed work, but a tempo workout.  I don’t know why tempos stress me out, but they do.  At least this one was with some recovery time and not hard pushes for consecutive miles.  My legs still felt a bit flat, but I decided to just give it my best effort.  I never once stopped.  Even in the humidity and the warmer temps….I came close to nailing this workout. The first mile of the last tempo push was a 7:57 so, but I got back to 7:50 for the second mile.  It was the end of the workout, so I’m not too mad at it.  I’m a little mad at it, because I like to have a bit more perfection with the workouts, but it was what my legs had that day.  I came close and I did it without burning out.  That’s a win.  I did my additional hip strengtheners with my stretches that morning as well.  As for the run, that gave me 9.5 miles for a Tuesday morning.

Wednesday: SPEED WORK – MONA FARTLEKS W/ 1 MILE HARD EFFORT

Yes…you read that right.  Two speed work days in a row.  It was my only option with the Rob Thomas concert starting at 8 pm Wednesday night.  I wasn’t going to have the time or energy to wake up at 3:30 am to fit them in per usual on Thursday morning.  I figured I wouldn’t get home until after midnight (I was right), so adjustments had to be made.  I moved my short, recovery run to Thursday and Thursday’s speed session to Wednesday.  At least it was my favorite – Mona Fartleks.  They work like this: 2 mile warm up, 2×90 sec, 4 x 60 sec, 4×30 sec, 4×15 sec (with equal recovery after each at a pace faster than base pace), 1 mile hard effort, 2 mile cool down.  I ran these SO much better last week.  I was 3 minutes slower overall.  But my legs still felt flat and my hard efforts were all I could manage that morning.  That one mile push was unsuccessful.  I did it, but it had at least 5 (if not a few more) stops just to pound on my legs and try to get them to loosen up, find some flow, and just go.  I was so happy to just have this done and behind me.  It wasn’t easy at all to run this much two days in a row.  Hard runs usually get some recovery time…and there wasn’t enough here.  I did my second day of hip strengthening exercises this morning, foam rolled while drinking my coffee, and even managed my evening stretches before heading out to the concert that night.  It was a messy day.  But sometimes training, and life, gets messy. It was just over 8 miles on the run!

Thursday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.

So…it was after midnight when I got out of the Rob Thomas concert and made it home.  Trying to figure out when I would fit in my recovery run…I opted, since I was up and awake at that point, to just suit up, gear up, and go out and do it before heading to bed.  The midnight temperature was in the low 70s, but there was no humidity and a nice breeze.  And, for the first time all week, my legs decided that they felt good.  I felt very light on my feet, free, and able to open up.  I didn’t push pace or anything.  I didn’t even have to stop, slowing down every time I needed to cross the busy road because there was ALWAYS a car.  Seriously, why are there so many cars on the road at midnight.  But I felt amazing.  I did 4 miles.  And they felt glorious…despite being completely exhausted and worn out from the early morning, speed work, real work, concert…all the things.  It was a nice surprise and was the lift I finally needed to feel a bit better about my runs this week.  Let’s hear it for small miracles.

Friday: Rest Day.  It’s always a rest day.  I have a big weekend ahead of me, so this was really needed.  I really made a point to get to bed at a decent time the night before.  And to SLEEP!  Really sleep.  Except I couldn’t.  And I ended up waking up at normal time.  I made myself stay in bed for a bit longer and got up about 30 minutes before my alarm.  I tried.  I really did.  I took a shower, stretched, drank water, ate breakfast, got ready for work and went into the office. With so much going on, I kept track of my nutrition, rested my legs, stretched, foam rolled, and started to prepare for the weekend.  God, I always look forward to Friday.  Respect and learn to love those rest days.  They are more important than the days you are running. These are the days that help your body get stronger, faster, better.  I might be the only runner in the history of ever who looks forward to and loves rest days!

Saturday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN – GOAL 7 MILES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN

I was going running with my friend, Dennis this Saturday morning.  Woke up early to fit in my stretching and give me time to lather up the sunscreen and fuel before heading over the river to meet up with him at the Big Four Bridge.  I had told him that because I had to throw some race paces into my Sunday run now (making it more of a race than a training run), I really needed to take this run easy.  Dennis has one gear…and it’s GO.  But he was doing a 25 mile bike ride that morning after the run so we were going to keep it easy.  And that…didn’t happen.  He blames me.  He claims that he’d shout out our pace and I’d say we needed to slow it down and then wouldn’t.  Maybe he’s right.  Maybe it was him.  Who is to say.  We turned around halfway and when we headed back up the bridge into the last mile, he took off and I let him go. After all,  I was racing the following day and he was not.  I met up with him at the finish, texted my roommate to come and get me before heading home to shower, eat, and head out to grocery shop and get some more vacation shopping done.  I did manage to get my costume locked down for my cruise.  It did mean that I didn’t get much time off my feet.  I went out for “magic sushi,” the vegan sushi that has been my go-to pre-long run meal.  Then, I foam rolled and stretched that evening and then went to bed early.

Sunday: DOWNTOWN DOUBLER 30K – INSTRUCTIONS: PLAN ON SHOOTING FOR 10-14 MILES AT RP FOR THIS ONE

I woke up just before my alarm again this morning, probably the nerves of having to race a race.  Let’s face it…I have been using most, if not all, as training runs in the past.  But, while still feeling wiped from a messed up week of sleep, I wasn’t feeling bad at all in the morning.  I decided to treat this like marathon morning (let’s face it…I was supposed to be running a marathon in Erie, PA today had I been able to register before it sold out), and fueled as I intend to the actual marathon morning.  So, my first breakfast happened.  Then I stretched, got dressed, put on sunscreen.  Prepared my fuel, which has been Maurten and it has been a GAME CHANGER for me.  I packed a small bottle of it to take during the race along with a gel pack to take near the end.  I never want to crash on a race, and my system of fueling hasn’t let me down yet.  My roommate and I left the apartment and headed down to downtown New Albany, where the race was starting on the beautiful Greenway.  For the 30K, runners would make 2 loops of the course.  I was starting to second guess my enthusiasm for doing the 30K over the 15K…but too late to turn back now.  My initial plan was to run 2 miles as a warm up, hit it for the middle 14 (if I felt good), and then use the final miles as a cool down.  In my enthusiasm, I just took off at the start, so when I hit the first mile at a race pace (faster, really), I decided I would race the first 10 to 14 and then cool down in the last part of the race.  I will do an actual post on this race, but it went REALLY well for me.  I executed my fueling perfectly, even at the faster pace, and I managed a time good enough for 2nd in my age division.  Stay tuned for a post.  After the race, and after getting delayed by a train stopping on the tracks and blocking the parking lot, my roommate, myself, and our friends (who did the 15K) Ron & Shawn met with us for coffee at Heine Bros.  Afterwards, I came home to shower, clean, meal prep, and get some laundry done.  Also stretched and foam rolled.  Ready for a breather!

My coach did forget that I was heading on my cruise at the end of the week and had a down/recovery week planned, but he switched it up to the following week so I won’t have to run as much or as hard on a cruise ship.  That was nice of him.  But that does mean I have a pretty stacked week again after a hard effort.  Just going to do what I can and hope my recovery really comes along.

Stay tuned!

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #6

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornI was frustrated last week.  I was run down, burnt out, and just down on myself and my performance.  I feel like I’m always making excuses (it doesn’t matter how true they are…it’s just how it seems to come across).  Yes…I worked really hard in an Extreme Heat Warning…and clawed my way through two workouts that included some speed work.  And at the beginning of the week last week…my body said…”ENOUGH!”  And it was a huge struggle.  The worst part is when my body can’t do something physically, it mentally rips me apart.  I’m not good at dealing with things going wrong.  I’m not good at feeling like I’m not living up to my potential.

I am my worst critic.  I am very hard on myself.  And I know this.  It comes with the territory of being a Type A Virgo.  Perfection is all I know.  So, when things skew off the line…well…I pretty much beat myself up over it for a long time.

Well, my coach…I LOVE MY COACH…noticed this downward trend.  And when he sent me through my plan for this week, he assigned me 0 miles.  All I had were guidelines.  The distance, and most of the paces were up to me.  This…was the RESET WEEK.  I have never felt better for an entire week of runs than this week.  This was exactly what I needed to regain a bit of confidence in my abilities, the process, and learn to have some fun along the way.

My coach, Daniel, may be the smartest coach in the history of…ever.  So, let’s dive into this week, shall we?

Monday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN – COVER YOUR WATCH OR DON’T WEAR IT!

I discovered something last week when I did my tempo repeats on Thursday…if I covered my watch, I wasn’t stressing as much over pace.  I couldn’t judge it.  It was what it was…and it actually was good when I uploaded the data.  Right on target, even.  When I run tempo or speed with the watch uncovered…all I do is stress and get wound up.  This covering the watch thing…this works for me.  I have a little Nike sweat band that I got once to cover up my Garmin during The Color Run…and I dug it out again this week to wear…EVERY DAY…because this week was up to me.  I held my usual base pace  and smiled…a whole heap!  I ended up doing a full 7 miles at base pace and probably could have kept going, but I had other things happening that day.  So I fit in my additional hip strengthening exercises and met with Corey as well for my personal training session.  It was the perfect way to kick off the week.

Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: ANGRY RUN – THIS IS THE “GET MAD” RUN. LET YOUR FRUSTRATIONS, STRESSES, ANGER, FEAS, AND ALL OF IT COME OUT. BE MAD ABOUT ERIE. STOP AND CRY IF YOU NEED TO. RUN FAST IF YOU NEED TO. GO FIND SOMETHING TO PUNCH (I liked that part, LOL). DON’T RUN FROM YOUR FEELINGS – INVINTE THEM AND RUN THROUGH THEM. THIS IS THE RUN YOU GET TO HAVE ALL OF WHAT YOU’VE BEEN FEELING.  THIS IS ALSO THE RUN WHERE YOU LET ALL THAT GO. IT MIGHT BE FUN OR IT MIGHT SUCK. IT IS WHAT IT IS. DO IT. THEN WAKE UP TOMORROW A NEW RUNNER WITH A NEW MIDSET AND NEW APPROACH LEAVING ALL THIS CRAP BEHIND.

Deep breath, friends.  Because this run…this was actual therapy.  I decided to actually run this as if it were an actual temper tantrum of fit.  So, I headed out and did the first 2 miles as a warm up.  Because every good tantrum starts with a build-up.  After that, I ran quick fartleks each mile for 5 miles…using each mile to symbolize some stress, frustration, or part of my life that has been holding me back: cancer, my fall race debacle messing up a ton of my plans, friends who aren’t taking care of themselves, work, myself…and maybe a few other things that got worked in halfway through each mile.  It sucks when you don’t like how you feel because people make and actions and yourself make you feel like less of a person.  This run helped me work through that.  And I rounded it off with 2+ miles cool down…because every fit of anger and tantrum ends with a cooling down period.  I basically did a 15K that morning.  And I needed that.

Wednesday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.

Even with the permission to go longer, I actually made this a short, base pace, recovery run.  I did wear my watch, but as with the two previous mornings, I covered it and just ran comfortably.  I had the same pace as Monday when all was said and done…and was happy to keep it short and easy.  I stopped at 4 miles.  But they were 4 wonderful miles. I then decided that since I had the time, and Thursday’s run was up to me, I could FINALLY return to a Wednesday morning spin class.  I was SO happy being back in Michelle’s class.  Spin class is therapy for me.  It’s hard work, it’s challenging, but it’s a great non-impact way to get some more endurance in.  And since Wednesday is always Endurance Ride Wednesday…it’s my favorite.  I met with Corey later that afternoon for personal training.  We had to change up the original plan as he snapped the resistance band.  It involved a lot of squats.  Because he’s evil.

Thursday: INSTRUCTIONS: FUN RUN – PICK OUT YOUR FAVORITE WORKOUT…COULD BE ONE I’VE GIVEN YOU, ANOTHER COACH, YOUR FAVORITE FROM 5 YEARS AGO. IT CAN BE A WORKOUT GEARED FOR 5KS OR 10KS OR A MARATHON. WHATEVER YOU WANT – RUN IT!

I have never liked, loved, or enjoyed speed workouts.  Ever.  Not ever.  Not in the history of EVER.  So I was really stumped on this one.  But, when all was said and done and I headed out (watch covered) that morning, I set myself up to run Mona Fartleks. Daniel got me hooked on these from the first time he assigned them.  They’re actually kind of fun, and still challenging at the same time.  The basics: 2 mile warm up, 2×90 sec, 4×60 sec, 4×30 sec, 4×15 sec (with equal recovery after each at a pace faster than base pace), 2 mile cool down.  Got it done, putting in 7 speedy miles that morning.  Then I worked in the 2nd day of the additional hip strengthening exercises to my physical therapy stretches I do every morning.

FRIDAY: Always a rest day.  I slept in.  I took a shower.  I stretched.  I finished off the My Favorite Murder book, “Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered.”  I went to work.  I cooked.  I ate food.  I let my body recharge.  I watched “Designated Survivor” and then went to bed just after 8 pm.  I set an alarm so I could get up, stretch, put on sunscreen, and head out early for my long run…of no set distance.

SATURDAY: INSTRUCTIONS: RUN IN YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO RUN! WATCH IS ALLOWED, BUT TURN OFF NOTIFICATIONS AND PROMISE YOURSELF NOT TO LOOK AT IT ANY MORE THAN 1 TIME EVERY 2-3 MILES. 10-20 MILES…I REALLY DON’T CARE!

I got up early and had a small bite to eat.  I stretched while I hydrated.  I lathered myself up in sunscreen.  I tied on my new Adidas Boston Boosts.  I fixed up my nutrition.  Anyone else loving Maurten?  I drank down the Maurten 320 Drink Mix and packed one of the Maurten 100 Gels to take with me.  Maurten has worked wonders for me.  No energy crashes.  No stomach problems.  It’s brilliant.  And I have had 2 very energetic and great long runs using it.  I’m sold.  So if any local peeps want my barely used container of UCan…let me know.  I didn’t know how far I’d run that morning.  I covered my watch.  I did a short warmup mile before hitting the actual roads and just letting myself go.  I told my roommate that I may have to call her to come get me if I decide I’m done before getting home. But despite hills and the hotter morning, this run was better than last week’s 19 miler.  And I only had to stop for traffic and at one point to make a tight turnaround.  That was it.  And I still had some in the tank when I made my way back to the apartment complex.  I ended up doing 20.25 miles…surprisingly at marathon pace.  And I felt so good.  I smiled.  I said good morning to people.  I was working, but I wasn’t straining, fighting, or dying at any point.  I needed this.  I needed this more than I knew I needed this.  I want running to always feel like this.  I need the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon to feel like this.  First 20 miler came early for me…but I feel good.  I felt good the rest of the day.  Walked the malls, did the grocery shopping, made dinner, stretched, foam rolled…yep…it’s good!  It’s all good.

SUNDAY: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! RECOVERY RUN!

With no expectations and no pace requirements, and a heavy heart from all the mass shootings this country is dealing with…I headed out this morning to chase the sunrise.  And that’s what I did, pausing at every mile (for the first 3) to take pictures of the sun coming up over the horizon and the cotton-candy sky that emerged from the dark night.  I ran the Fast Freddie course here…putting in 5.0 miles for the 50 states of this country.  Feeling blessed to wake up and be able to run easy, refreshed, and without care, when people are waking up and maybe missing their loved ones today due to a senseless act of violence.  With that being said, this recovery run was the last of my reset week and I enjoyed every step of it.  I needed this reset week more than even I knew.  This is why I hired Daniel.  He knew exactly what to hit me with this week so that I could shed frustrations, anger, and disappointment and find a new focus and really prepare myself for the upcoming weeks leading into the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.  I feel better about it.  I feel refreshed.  I feel ready.

So today I have a bunch of meal prep to do and some things to get done around the apartment today…and await this week’s plan.  I’ll embrace the good…the bad…the hard and easy this week.  When you’re struggling…don’t be afraid to reset.  Don’t be afraid to build from the experience.  Come back to it feeling ready, refreshed, and with a laser focus on your goals.  Just don’t forget to keep it fun and enjoyable.

Okay…new week, new training plan.  Let’s go.

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #5

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornThis week.  *SIGH*  This week…was one big roller coaster.  It started…going downhill…fast.  Forget the climb.  There was no climb.  There was just this screaming, falling, helpless feeling that just sort of paralyzes you.  But by the end of the week, save for having no one to long run with to pass the time, things were starting to turn around.

The highlight of the week…the cooler temperatures and lower humidity.

It was amazing.

And I think that’s why when Monday went off the rails…I couldn’t figure out a good reason for it.  So, my coach and I are blazing a new path this coming week…so stay tuned for something completely different.

Until then…let’s take the plunge and then slowly climb out of the pit that was…this past week.

Monday: My Monday run is always a recovery run. Usually between 5-7 miles.  And I always run it really well.  Relaxed.  Easy.  Legs feeling good after a weekend of mileage demands.  This run started off feeling harder than the pace reflected.  I chalked it up to not being fully recovered from two long runs (both with a bit of a workout element to them…the harder one being the 3×4 miles in the middle of 15 miles on Sunday) that were done in Extreme Heat.  It was one of the worst and hardest runs I have had in a very long time.  Every mile got considerably slower.  And, when all was said and done, I cut the run short by a mile and called it a day.  I had a hard time accepting it.  And it ate at me the rest of that day.  I did my additional hip strengtheners with my stretches that morning and had personal training.  And still…I couldn’t let it go.  It wasn’t that my overall pace was slower than I prefer.  Not at all.  It was how hard the whole run felt when it was supposed to be easy.  I felt like I was pushing pace and the pace wasn’t coming, but instead slowing down…mile after mile.  It’s hard for me to let go of bad runs…and this was one of my worst.

Tuesday: Speed Work.  The fresh hell that hits every week.  I dread it.  But I know it’s beneficial and will make me faster in the end.  This week was the Flat Pyramid.  I was to do a 1 mile warm up, then 400m-800m-1600m-1600m-800m-400m with 400m-800m recovery in between each one.  This wasn’t too bad.  The temperature that morning was once again…perfect.  My left calf felt tight, but I figured it would loosen up.  I felt like I was rolling on this one.  But when my runs were done, my second 1600 was just CRAP. For real.  Everything was actually slower than I felt they should have been.  I wasn’t having it.  It made me feel even worse coming off of the crash-and-burn run from Monday.  I figured I should have been recovered by Tuesday.  It was 7.5 messy miles. And I wasn’t happy.  I let my coach know.

Wednesday: Easy, recovery miles.  3-4 of them.  With the week I was having, I wasn’t holding my breath that this would feel good at all.  But, something was different this morning.  I managed to have a decent run.  The entire thing felt easy.  Right at base pace.  Two of my miles were faster than I anticipated, but I wrapped up the run and I felt good.  I felt like I was turning a corner.  No personal training because my trainer had much more important things happening…but I did my additional hip strengtheners again with my daily stretches that morning.  My coach wrote me back and said it seemed like I had just come out of a mental block and was back into one.  He asked me some questions, and that resulted in a very long, very honest, very vulnerable response from me as to what I feel was going on.

Thursday: Speed Work day 2 and my coach was changing up the Tempo Run this week.  After struggling time after time to hit the ladder tempos, he had me running the same amount hard, but this time with just 2 miles in each one.  So 1 mile warm up, 3×2 miles with 0.5 miles recovery between, 1 mile cool down.  I ended up grabbing a wrist band and covering my watch face.  I didn’t set the pace intensity into the workout on my watch.  I decided that it would be what it was that day.  And I ran it well.  I had to stop for a lot of traffic that morning.  And I needed to stretch out my calf a couple of times ( that, btw, feels much better), but it was an impressive run.  One that I was happy with.  I hit the usual tempo pace he wants me to aim for and I didn’t obsess over it or consistently check my watch.  No pressure.  No expectations.  I just let this one ride.  And it worked.  9.5 miles with 6 of them at the proper tempo pace. YES!

Friday: Rest day.  Recovery.  Sleep in.  Except…I haven’t been sleeping well.  Which sucks.  I didn’t get to stretch and then chill and read like I would have liked.  But I did my best to relax.  I checked in with people about long runs, both of which weren’t going to be able to run with me this weekend.  It was also a half day at work.  The original plan was to grab an easy lunch…maybe get grocery shopping done…My roommate and I did grab lunch and headed home.  We ran some easy errands instead of going grocery shopping.  But we did turn on Designated Survivor before I was going to cook dinner.  Except, with 7 minutes left in the episode…the power randomly went out.  I was 7 minutes away from cooking dinner.  Power wasn’t back on by 5:30 (over an hour after it went out)…so we ended up having to go out to eat…again.  We ended up at Dragon King’s Daughter for sushi.  Sushi is one of my favorite pre-race, pre-long run meals.  This was fine with me.  It was just an unexpected expense that night.

Saturday: LONG RUN!  I had a goal of 17-19 on the training plan.  With the awful start to my week, I mentioned to my roommate that I was going to head out early and aim for 19…but I’d be fine if I just did 17.  I used the Maurten 320 Drink Mix for the first time…and LOVED IT.  I never crashed on this run.  I felt strong the entire time.  And yes…I managed 19 solo miles…and my pace stayed pretty consistent and even throughout.  No stomach issues.  I didn’t want to quit.  I didn’t need to randomly stop just to breathe or berate myself for stopping.  It was smooth.  It was the run I needed to round out the week.  And I felt good the rest of the day…refueling, recovering, and…finally grocery shopping (and shopping for my vacation in September too).

Sunday: Recovery run.  4 miles.  Same run I did last week.  It felt good.  I ran a lot of hills on Saturday in my long run, and my legs were definitely feeling that, especially as I tackled one of my least favorite hills along the way.  But, this run was exactly what it was supposed to be…easy, slow, recovery.  And I got some great sunrise views (again…not sleeping well…so hopefully that changes this week).

So, yeah…this week started off rough, but it definitely ended on a high note.  That being said, my coach is taking a WAY different approach with me this week in hopes of giving me the compete reset I need to get back into a proper mindset as I head into my fall marathon.  Wish me luck.  And stay tuned. Because, honestly, I think this is going to be fun.