A Fall and a Big Bump

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This isn’t exactly how I saw the first week of official training going. In fact, I was pretty excited about the work I put in last week and I was going to cap it off with a 15 miler. I started late after a lazy Sunday morning. The Man and I have been running the 2 miles to the lakefront together as a warmup before our own long runs. It makes the trip to the lake more fun. There’s a section of this street that I’m always careful on. I cross a small set of train tracks, being careful with my footsteps. And, after that, there’s this section of gnarly pavement. It’s been this bad as long as I’ve been running this section (which is about 1,500 times in the past 3 years). I wasn’t paying attention this time. I’ve run it so many times that my brain must have switched off.

My left toe clipped the ledge of this “sidewalk pothole” and, with 100% of my weight, I fell straight down on my right knee cap. Cue immediate pain and lots of tears. It hurt like hell and I was just sitting there howling. Manny said I bounced I fell so hard. And thank goodness he was with me. With all the adrenaline after falling, I thought the best thing to do was to loosen it up… by jogging slowly the 4 blocks back home. I had blood running down my leg and I couldn’t stop crying.

I spent the rest of the day being a big baby, icing my knee, and watching episode after episode of Orange Is the New Black. An hour after the fall, it was really swollen and I had a very, very limited range of motion. Bending it or straightening it didn’t feel good.

Two days later and some of the swelling has gone down. I can bend it very slowly (still painful and uncomfortable) and it feels better when I keep it loose. If I sit in one position for awhile, it gets cranky. A 4 hr flight on Monday was less than ideal.

So, what do I do now? I am traveling this entire week and won’t be home until late Friday night. If it’s still this painful, I’ll head to the doc. I’m encouraged by the fact that my range of motion has improved from Sunday-Monday. I’ve been icing it every couple of hours and taking Ibuprofen regularly. I can’t help but wonder if it’s something serious but I’ll take it day by day and see how I feel at the end of the week.

Note: I find it somewhat hilarious and ironic that a Chicago pothole has caused this fluke injury.

-J

The Beginning of a New Cycle – Monumental 2014

I’ve debated a bit about whether or not I want to post training updates this time around. This seems to be a normal part of a new cycle for me – do I want to share how my workouts are going, even (and especially) on the days when they’re not going well? Am I posting for myself? I’ve certainly had different answers to these questions in the past. And just as before, I’m a bit conflicted. For now, I’ll update when I feel like it. I like being able to look back on past training cycles. It helps put things in perspective, especially when you consider the training-LIFE balance that anyone training for a marathon has to deal with. I’m toying with the idea of posting monthly updates – surely, few people (if anyone) would read them but at least I’d be able to process what the heck is happening running-wise.

Thoughts? Do you read training updates or do you scroll them? What do you think are the advantages or disadvantages of sharing?

So, the weekly update!

Last week was a transition week into my training for Monumental. I’ve been ramping up my mileage a bit in the past 6-7 weeks and I am happy that I was mentally ready to start a new cycle.

Monday: REST + taking care of those sniffles

Day 1 of training (although 16 weeks out was officially Monday, July 14) and I woke up feeling like absolute crap. I fought a cold/cough/sore throat over the holiday weekend but thought it had run its course. Turns out Monday was the worst of it and I spent half the day working in bed. I spent the rest of the day being lazy. But hey! I spent 30 full minutes foam rolling and using the roll recovery that night!

Tuesday: [8 easy with 8 x 20 sec surges (7:44 avg) - paced between 5:50-6:10 min/mile] 

After 10 hours of sleep, I woke up feeling human! I took plenty of meds and hydrated on Monday so I’m sure that helped a lot as well. The only time I had to run was during lunch so I ran 8 easy in a nearby park and ran straight to Potbelly for lunch. I took the long way there :). The surges felt great (turnover seems strong lately) and it was a good ‘light speed’ workout, considering the lingering congestion I was dealing with.

Wednesday: [10 miles easy (7:40 avg)]

Easy 10 on the lakefront this morning. It was a “cool” 72 degrees out, so it was pretty enjoyable. Seen on my run: Mr. Bean’s doppelgänger. I’m curious to see how these longer mid-week runs impact my training. Still a bit of lingering congestion, but much better than Monday!

Thursday: [Bastille Day 5k! 20:32 + 1.67 mi warm-up]

One word describes this race experience: woof. I jumped into a 5k just to see where my fitness is at before officially beginning the training cycle. I thought I could get to low 20s without blowing up. I’ve PR’d at this race the past two years and have liked racing it. This year, the congestion was terrible. The 8k starts 15 minutes before the 5k and they finish together on an out-and-back course. I was on target through 2-3k & felt pretty good – just starting to hurt but knew I could push for another 2k. After the 3k mark though, staying on pace was pretty much impossible. They didn’t put a race official at the turnaround to even let people know that a race was happening. There was plenty of traffic on the lakefront because it was such a beautiful evening. (The course is never blocked off but it’s never been a big problem in the past. In fact, I don’t even really remember any congestion last year.) This time around, there were cyclists on both sides and down the middle of the path – I was basically surrounded by bikes on both sides. And then, you run into the 8k runners that were running a much slower pace by the time the 5k runners were at the turnaround. There were more people running in the grass during a 5k than I’ve ever seen before and you could tell some people were frustrated. At that point, I literally had to stop and walk for a few seconds because it was so bad. Total of two stops probably totaled 15-20 seconds.

Soooooo yeah, it didn’t go well. But I guess it was a decent workout. I haven’t done any structured speedwork since before Boston so at least I know I have a little bit of pep in my legs these days. I doubt I’ll be able to squeeze in another 5k in the next few months, but damn I really want that sub 20 goal knocked down this year. I know I can run a sub-20. I ran 20:05 at the same race last year. It’s gotta happen!

The highlight was definitely hearing some familiar voices with 200 meters to go. Corey, Chanthana, and Manny were definitely the loudest spectators at the finish. We grabbed some burgers and beer after the race. NOMS!

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Pre-race optimism 

Splits: 3:52, 4:03, 4:07, 4:18 (darn traffic), 4:09
9th female
4/113 age group
32/861 overall

Friday: [5 easy + 5 x 8 sec hill sprints, (8:11 avg)]

My legs weren’t sore or tired from the 5k at all. Derp. It felt good to move at the end of the work day.

Saturday: [Long Run - 14 mi (7:52 avg)]

What a backwards Saturday. I woke up to a crazy downpour (think monsoon) at 6:30 AM and the rain didn’t stop until 11 AM. At that point, I was already preparing a late breakfast and debating delaying ’til tomorrow. After the rain cleared, Man and I headed out for our long run at 1 PM. Annnnnd it was sticky. And hotter than expected. If there wasn’t an annoying crosswind the entire time, I’m sure it would have felt much hotter. Ran easy 2 to the lake with Man and then ran 7:40-7:50 for the remaining 12. Stopped at plenty of water fountains and just took it mile by mile. Didn’t have much energy today despite 9-10 hrs sleep. Just happy to get it done and relax the rest of the weekend!

Sunday: [3 recovery (8:10 avg)]

Just a quick jaunt around the neighborhood in the evening. We drove down to 3 Floyd’s in the afternoon to pick up some friends that had biked the 35 miles there. We had a few beers and ate lunch – annnnd watched the World Cup on my iPhone. It turns out 3 Floyd’s has a policy against playing sports on their TVs (they always play movies?).

Totals: 

6 runs, 45 miles

Core x 2

1 “race”

& 1 cough/cold that went away! 

- J

Fall Training & Racing Plans

Fall racing plans are finally coming together. After a disappointing Boston race, I knew I wanted redemption in the fall (despite my best attempts at telling myself I would “only” train for a half marathon). I’m still chasing that sub-3:10 goal that I set for the year and I have a feeling I’ve found the perfect place to do it.

Today is Day 1 of training for…. the Monumental Marathon in Indy!

MonumentalMarathon

There are a lot of reasons why I think Indy is going to be a good race for me. I grew up in the Indy area and there’s a certain hometown advantage that I’m banking on. Having family members on the course will mean a lot and I am familiar with the streets (especially after pacing my friend through the first half last year). Plus, the perks of sleeping in a familiar bed and enjoying a home-cooked meal by my mom are pretty irresistible. Also, the weather tends to cooperate. It’s several weeks after the Chicago Marathon during the first weekend of November. I’m hoping for race conditions just like last year – cool and calm from start to finish. I like cool temps. :) Annnnnd, the course is flat. Helloooooo pancake-flat course! I think we’ll get along well.

I’m planning on racing a 5k and 10k as part of my training for Monumental. I hope I can make both races hurt and PR, but I’ll be happy with a solid effort. The focus is on the marathon. As of right now, I don’t think I’ll race a half marathon this cycle. I normally like to race a half as part of my training but I don’t want to squeeze too much racing into a 16-week cycle. The half can be a confidence boost especially when I really feel like I’m in shape, but I’m going to try to be patient and enjoy the process of training again.

So, 16 weeks to race day and today is the day that I woke up with a horrible summer cold. (cue: whining) A sore throat and a stuffy nose aren’t exactly ideal when your motivation to run is high. I think I’ll spend a few days blowing my nose and consuming Nyquil before doing any tough workouts. (I can only imagine how much snot would flow out of my nose if I attempted to do speedwork today.) Let’s hope this cold goes away soon!

… The excitement doesn’t stop there, folks!

Honolulu_Marathon

I’m helping my sister to train for her first maraton this fall with Saucony 26 Strong. Our original plan was to run the California International Marathon in December. We were really excited about it! And then!… Saucony asked each team if they were interested in switching their goal race to the…. Honolulu Marathon. (I feel like I’m kidding, but I’m not.)

We considered Honolulu a few months ago, but thought we’d go with a race that typically has cooler weather. I wanted to find ideal racing conditions, especially for her first. Welp! It didn’t take much convincing to switch to Honolulu considering several other teams will be there with us and we’ll have some fun pre- and post-race activities. My sister has been building up her base for almost 2 months now and her training will officially begin the first week of August. I think we’re both still in denial that her first marathon is going to be in Honolulu.

Between the two of us (and the Man running his first 26.2 at Chicago!), we have a lot of miles to run this summer! I think the rest of 2014 is going to be pretty fabulous. I think today may be the one and only time I register for two marathons within ten minutes — but don’t quote me on that.

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-J

City Slickers Gone Campin’

Last weekend, I….

  • Stayed up until 5 am talking and drinking around a campfire
  • Didn’t shower for 48 hours – and sweat profusely in that time
  • Ate a lot of s’mores and hot dogs
  • Drank more Bud Light & Coors than I care to admit
  • Slept in a tent on a sloped hill
  • Took a nap in a hammock (it was glorious)
  • Hung out with Jedi the Pug (Barklee Ann is jealous, I know…)

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Let’s just say camping was a huge success. It’s been years since I last went camping with my family. I honestly don’t even remember when the last camping trip was but it was likely in Michigan and I was probably in high school. Since then, my brother has been trying to get a camping trip planned. Finally, this year, I committed a weekend on my calendar to making the trip to Bloomington, IN. My brother is one of those people that has ALL of the gear that you could ever need for a weekend camping trip. He fogged the camping site for bugs before Manny and I arrived, brought us a tent to use (cuz hello, we don’t own one), bought the majority of our food along with the utensils needed to cook it, and let us use his air mattress pads so we didn’t have to sleep on rocks for two nights. It’s true camping but with all the things that I would forget if I planned it on my own (related: we didn’t even bring pillows or towels. That’s how unprepared I was and how prepared everyone else was.)

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When we planned the trip we didn’t realize that it was over the summer solstice. It must have been fate that we’d celebrate the beginning of the summer by doing something we did throughout my childhood. It’s always refreshing to get out of the city for a weekend but especially when it’s to get a big dose of fresh air (well except for our B.O.) and time with my family. I think I’ll be camping again sooner rather than later – I’m just going to make sure it’s not YEARS before we do it again.

Running has felt so much more enjoyable lately. I ran 30+ miles last week (baby steps!) and even managed my first real workout since before Boston. I surprised myself in that workout – just 4 x 3 min surges but I managed a faster pace than I thought I would. I had way more motivation to get out and run than I did a month ago. I am still having a hard time switching back to AM workouts and the humidity in Chicago has certainly been something to struggle with. But I still have a few more weeks of easy base mileage before I jump into any kind of real training schedule. Slowly, but surely I think I’m getting my legs (and my fire) back. I’m still working through the details of this fall, but I will definitely jump into a 5k and a 10k this summer to see where my fitness is at. I’m sure it will be slightly humbling but at least I’ll know what I need to work on. I’m starting to get more excited about training, especially now that I’ve taken 4 weeks to just run when I feel like it.

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More smiles lately! (and hey, I can touch my toes!)

Besides, the camping trip was more relaxing when I didn’t feel the need to squeeze a run in. :)

- J

 

True Recovery & A Focus on Strength-Training

A few weeks ago, I made a conscious decision to cut back on miles and focus on true recovery + a decent amount of strength training. And guess what? Since then, I’ve felt much, much better.

My legs felt dead, heavy, and sluggish. My form felt ‘wonky’ and it took a lot of self-talk to get through even the easiest of runs. I had little niggles that just didn’t seem to want to give up. I felt a twinge in my left quad (helloooo old injury) and my right calf wasn’t having much fun. (Note: I’ve experienced burnout. This didn’t feel like that. It just felt ‘blah’– and when running feels ‘blah’, you must learn to cool it. It’s possible that I recognized the symptoms of burnout before burnout actually happened. Hey, I’m learning!)

Week of May 19th: 4 runs, 30 miles (Soldier Field 10) including: 1 spin class + 1 ART session

Week of May 26: 4 runs, 15 miles including: 2 hours spin, core + leg + hip strength routines x 2, 1 Bodypump class

Week of June 2: 4 runs, 21 miles including: 2 hours spin, 1 hour vinyasa yoga, core + leg + hip strength routines x 1

I keep a paper training log (I know. Weird, right?). Four short weeks ago, I wrote this at the bottom of my weekly log: “I just want to enjoy running right now. Cutting back!”. It took me a few weeks to let go of a redemption dream after Boston. After busting my a** all winter and enduring some seriously horrible training conditions, I was more than eager to get to a 26.2 finish line in my goal time. But my body (and likely, my mind) was not ready for another 26.2 mile beating and it finally dawned on me that the rest of this year will be a success if I take it easy now. I am setting my sights on a fall marathon – and recovery and having fun right now is all part of that plan.

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My favorite place lately.

So, the week of May 26th, I got seriously about doing some strength training. And lemme tell ya, when you haven’t used your upper body in any other way than to pump during speed intervals, said upper body can go into complete shock after a single Bodypump class. I’m not kidding. I was pretty much sore from Sunday afternoon to Wednesday morning and I only loosened up after a Vinayasa class. Clearly, focusing on strength is a good idea before I really begin to commit to a training cycle again. I did two full strength workouts and 1 Bodypump class that week, which is approximately 2 more strength workouts than I do during a good (i.e. normal) week. Each run was 3-4 miles and I felt like I finished each one feeling like it was just right. I didn’t feel like running any longer. Motivation to run was lowwwww. (I can only imagine what this week had been like if I decided to get back to some serious mileage. Crash and burn comes to mind.)

2014-06-05 19.13.23No workouts = more exploring.

The next week was full of some more cross-training – 2 hours spin, 1 hour yoga, + another strength routine. Note: upper body fully recovered from Bodypump. I am LOVING spin class lately. I’ve officially found my favorite instructor yet. She’s “no nonsense”, tough, and plays great music. Another bonus is that she teaches a noon class on Friday which is relatively easy for me to get to. It’s my Friday treat. Plus, it’s the closest I’ve been able to come to a runner’s high – sunshine and rainbows after 1 hour on the bike lately! All of the running miles this week felt easier than the previous week (i.e. I didn’t feel like I was running through sand) and I was even able to “run long” on Sunday. I went for a 8.75 mile trot on Sunday. It felt so good to feel good again. And I couldn’t pass up a recovery run with Kristy who was in town for Marron’s wedding. I’m not sure if it was just the distraction of chatting with her, but I felt better than I have in weeks on that run. Plus, no run can go poorly when it’s followed by brunch with the gals.

2014-06-08 12.52.02-2CT, Liz, Leticia, me, Kristy, and Corey (they waited many cold months to wear those white pants!)

So, two weeks after making a conscious decision to cut the miles and add in some fun strength & cross-training, I’m feeling MUCH better. I haven’t taken note of a single mile split in the past two weeks – it’s refreshing to just run. I haven’t felt any painful twinges and my form feels stronger than it’s felt since before Boston. I doubt I’ll ever be the type of runner than can jump into one training cycle immediately after another. Taking the time to rest and recharge between cycles works for me. Besides, I’m beginning to become aware of my biceps and triceps! Who knew those muscles existed?!

Fall marathon plans to come!

- J

 

 

Saucony 26 Strong: A ‘Vet’ and A ‘Cadet’

I’m really excited to announce that I’m representing Saucony as part of their 26Strong program this year! On a frigid February morning, I received an email from Saucony asking me if I was interested in helping a first-time marathoner to the finish line of her first 26.2 this fall.

It seems that just when you make a fairly firm decision to take a season off marathon training, the universe conspires against you and presents you with a pretty cool opportunity! 

Saucony 26Strong

The program consists of 13 ‘vets’ and 13 ‘cadets’ from across the country. It’s a smaller group than Saucony had last year and it’s especially exciting for me to be a part of the team this year because it consists of all WOMEN! I’ve met a few of the other vets IRL (Jess, Dorothy, Michele, and Lora) and know a few through the Twittersphere – I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone a bit better!

When Saucony told me that I could personally select my ‘cadet’, I immediately sent an email to my sister, Brittany. It was a no brainer to reach out to her.

The email exchange went something like this:

Me: So ummmmm…do you want to train for your first marathon? I’ll run it with you!

BrittanyI would LOVE to do this but I don’t think I can commit to it until school is over. [Note: she's finishing her MBA while working full-time. No small potatoes.]

Me: We can do this! As long as you have a decent base, we can begin a full training cycle in August for a December marathon. No pressure…. But if you’re game, I am too! 

Brittany: When do you need to know by? (I knew I had her hooked!) 

Me: Next week?

….Followed up by a phone call a few shorts days later. I can’t remember the details exactly but I think I screamed in her ear something like:

“OH MY GOD ARE YOU SAYING YES?!”

and, after asking a few questions, she responded with something coy & calm like ,”I think I’m saying yes.”

Guys, she said yes.

The truth is that Brittany isn’t really a ‘cadet’ and I don’t quite feel like a marathon ‘vet’. Brittany is not new to running and my 4 marathons hardly make me a vet in my mind.

Brittany is more like a ‘vet‘ than a ‘cadet’, to be honest. She is two years older, approximately 6 inches taller, and has quite the athletic background. Brittany was one of just two girls in her high school graduating class to commit to 12 sports seasons within 4 years…..which means that she never had an off season in her entire high school career. I’m not sure how many people can say that but I think it’s pretty darn cool. She played basketball and ran track all 4 years, played soccer the first 2 years, and ran cross-country the last 2 years. I’m tired just thinking about it. Aren’t you? She’s badass, guys.

2014-05-30 07.31.30

Exhibit A: I stalked my own sister on the interwebs and stumbled on some of her track records from her junior year… (I was aware at the time that she was fast but I don’t think I was able to truly internalize how fast she was running until just recently.)

BrittPooreHSTrack

NBD right? Just a 64.30 personal record in the 400 m and some crazy fast relay times with some speedy ladies. [Brittany contests that "this was a decade ago!", but I know better. I'm convinced that her legs still have that speed in them and she's going to completely shock herself in training for an entirely new distance this year.] I was only behind her by two grades, but I was lightyears behind her when it came to athletic prowess. I remember Saturday afternoons when she’d collapse on the couch with a towel wrapped around her head just to nap for a couple of hours (either before or after a practice). I’m not sure I understood that level of exhaustion until I started to train for my first marathon. I remember the excitement of watching her run in the state track meet finals with my parents and twin sister, Lindsey. There was always a basketball game, soccer game, track meet, or cross country meet to go to. Thinking back on Brittany’s 4 years as a high school student athlete, I wonder how she just seemed to get it all done (see napping talent below).

Needless to say, Brittany is prepared for the challenge of running 26.2 miles in more ways than one. (Because, she’s like…really, really, really, good at napping. I’ll have to ask her to share some tips for napping like a pro with us all.)

She’s incredibly determined, hard working, and disciplined in everything that she does. A few weeks ago, our family attended her commencement ceremony to see her receive her MBA diploma. Afterward, we joked that it’s probably a good thing that she has a marathon to train for –otherwise, she wouldn’t know what to do with herself without the obligation of classes (along with a full-time job, duh). She’s always working toward a goal. And it’s one of the things I love about her most. She’s always made the time to commit to things that are important to her, whether they lead to accomplishing professional, academic, athletic, or big LIFE goals.

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It’s a big year for this woman! 

I’m really excited to help Brittany train for her first marathon. Although, in reality, I don’t think she will need much of my help. I’ll just be there to kick in her in the butt when she needs it.

Sooooo what marathon are we running, you ask? The California International Marathon on December 7, 2014! To those of you who’ve run it, tell us all your tidbits, stories, and tips!

 If you want to follow along…

Here we gooooooo!

-J

A Small “Aha” Moment

I’ve done a bit of thinking this week. I’ve realized a few things:

I’m not really that jazzed about running, training, or racing lately.

Running doesn’t really feel that great (but the fresh air does).

I have 7 weeks until a fall marathon cycle absolutely needs to start.

I really really enjoy a good spin class and reacquainting myself with some strength work is refreshing.

I’ve never been the kind of running that exclaims “oh my goodness, I LOVE LOVE LOVE running!”. I do love it, but I’m not bubbly about it. I truly enjoy the miles and the work that goes into training for a race. The process of training is rewarding because, as long as you work hard and stay disciplined, you almost come out of the cycle with the feeling like you could conquer the world, or at least run as fast as you possibly can to that darn finish line.

Last Saturday, I ran the Soldier Field 10-Miler. It was my first time running this race and, having no races on the horizon, I figured “why not?”. I’m definitely not in race shape and I didn’t really have an expectations going into it. I thought ‘yeah, maybe I’ll tempo a few miles and just see how I feel’. It turns out that’s exactly what I did. I felt fantastic in my runs the week beforehand, but still not strong. It was a beautiful morning, the Man was running it at a solid effort, and I figured I would earn the beer that we would drink at the beer fest afterward.

I was pretty excited to race. After dabbling in some marathon redemption ideas post-Boston (and realizing that my body was definitely not ready for that challenge just yet), I felt like racing anything would make me happy. I was excited to get to a start line. I haven’t run a true ‘workout’ since two weeks before Boston (ha, that feels like a long time). I started conservatively– the course is a bit crowded in the first 2 miles and, because you enter the dark stretch inside McCormick Place fairly soon in the race, there is a lot of jostling (probably because we were scared to face plant in a dark tunnel). My first mile was was 7:45. Once there, I felt like I could pick up the pace.

I settled into 6:50-7:00 pace (basically long tempo pace right now). I felt like I started to tick off the miles. Mile 2 at 6:59. Mile 3 at 6:49, Mile 4 at 6:48, Mile 5 at 6:47, and Mile 6 at 6:49. I felt like I was a running metronome for the first time in many weeks and it felt darn good. Near mile 4.5 (maybe closer to 5?), Manny and I passed each other. He was on Lakeshore Dr. and I was on the lakefront path headed back north to Soldier Field — out and back course. At this point, even though the pace felt decent, I didn’t feel the need to ‘race’ the remaining 4 miles. I was laboring a bit too much on my right calf and my form didn’t feel all that great. Clearly not in racing shape, people! Those little twinges can be serious if I don’t listen to them. The beauty of going into a fun race with absolutely no expectations is that you can do whatever you want – see where it goes. Once I reached mile 6, I decided to stop and wait for Manny. Yep, never done that before! He was excited to race and he’s really getting fit in advance of his Chicago Marathon cycle starting soon. He didn’t need my help but I figured he might want some company. He saw me on the side of the path and said “what the f&*% are you doing?” as he ran closer. I laughed and just told him to keep running, that I’d help pace him. He hated me for approximately 3 miles. (I always feel like if I don’t feel some sense of hatred for my own coach during a workout or race then I probably didn’t race hard enough. So, I’m considering this a success!)

We paced evenly to the finish and he ran toward the 50-yard line in flying airplane fashion. You know, for a badass race photo. Exhibit A:

AirplaneManny

Impressive, no?

Annnnd, after immediately collecting our things from gear check, we were one of the first to enjoy a Goose Island beer…at 8:45 AM on a Saturday.

2014-05-24 09.04.01Beerz. Sunshine. Running.

Last week, I thought I’d be ready to get back to some decent base mileage. I wanted to start putting in the work. But my legs haven’t really felt that fresh and I’m not mentally ready for a training cycle to begin. And, for once, I’m listening to that voice in the back of my head that says, “hey, Jenny, it’s not all about running!” I’ve been happier going to spin and yoga in the past few weeks than I have been running. If my body doesn’t want to run 50 miles a week, I’m not going to make it … at least not right now.

I read this quote today and it practically jumped off the page at me:

2014-05-29 15.30.51

I am choosing to be smart and happy for the next 6 weeks. I have the opportunity to be smart and I’m taking it. I’m not obligated to run high mileage weeks and it won’t get me anywhere right now. I keep reminding myself that it’s not all about the numbers and that taking a few weeks of relatively low mileage won’t hurt me. I’m excited to focus on getting (and most importantly, feeling stronger) so that I’m ready to run (and race) my heart out this fall.

Do you find it difficult to take time off? What prompts you to take a step back?

- J

Squashing the Post-Boston Blerch

Oh hey there! It seems I either forgot I have a blog or had no inspiration to write. I think both happened, to be honest. 

Now that I’m a month removed from the sting of Boston, I’m beginning to get more excited about running and racing the rest of this year. I spent a few weeks feeling pretty bummed about my race. It took me awhile to process and, I think, for good reason. Marathon training and racing can be so tough because you have to work your a** off in order for the fitness gains to follow and then you still have relatively little control over how the race actually goes. Not to mention you spend months avoiding even entertaining the idea that you won’t meet your goal — you have to think you will run your goal time when you spend hours, days of your life training. Because that’s how you get through it. You hope and believe it will happen.

And then, when I didn’t run my goal time, I let myself feel bad about it for a relatively short while. And now, just this week, I feel excited to just … run, with no real attachments or concrete goals. 

On Thursday, I went to a spin class in the morning. I haven’t gone to a class in awhile and I was looking forward to creating a pool of sweat under the bike. It was just what I needed. A longggggg hill along with plenty of sprints & jumps — and an hour later and I felt like a million bucks. And then, I realized that The Man had a workout to do after work. And I thought, “yeah, I could join him”. So, we ran to the lakefront together and started his workout shortly after. We ran 4 x 3 min “surges”. I let him set the pace on the first repeat and then we alternated. (So I guess I’m now I’m a rabbit-coach-girlfriend.) And damn! That dude can run! I wasn’t expecting to see a “6” on my watch that day, but it appears he has a lot more pick-up than I do these days. Note: He may or may not have given me the middle finger on one of those repeats. But this only means that I’m doing my job as Coach, right? I’m not sure I’ve ever gone to a spin class AND run in a single day before. It was my first ‘workout’ since Boston – and while it felt a wee bit creaky, it felt so good to run fast again. 

Sunday’s run was even more fun. I didn’t really have much of a plan, but I thought I’d run 10-12 miles. I had an extremely lazy morning after sleeping for approximately 10 hours (what kind of heaven is this?!) before heading out. It was a GORGEOUS day, fairly warm with a breeze off the lake. The lakefront was BUSY. It’s officially the season of dodging tourists on Segways (I must have seen 50 of ‘em on this run) and yelling at cyclists that are riding slower than I am running (no, I’m not kidding). I promise I was happy to see a busy lakefront but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t let a few curse words fly. I ran 2 miles to the lake with Man and then ran south. After mile 5, my legs started to feel super energetic. I had so much ‘get up and go’, I was shocked. By mile 8, I felt amazing and I thought it would be fun to see what the legs could do the last few miles. My last three mile splits were 7:01, 6:50, and 6:34 (say what?!), so I basically ran an impromptu 11-mile progressive. CUE RUNNER’S HIGH. I’m not sure where the pep came from but I’m glad it returned. I was beginning to think most of my runs would continue to feel like running through sand.

Annnnnd because I’m just letting the good times roll, I signed up for the Soldier Field 10-miler this weekend. I’ve never run a 10-mile race before, so the automatic PR will be joyous. I’m planning on skipping the free post-race beer and heading to a beer fest that afternoon instead. Run hard, beer hard right? 

Speaking of beer, here’s a fun fact for you:

Image

So, post-Boston “blerch” has been squashed & I’m looking forward to a fun summer and fall. Who’s with me?

-J 

 

Boston Marathon 2014: Race Recap

No one likes to write a race report about a race that didn’t go well. I questioned putting these thoughts out there, but I know that I’ll be glad I did eventually. It will be good to look back on it in the future–hopefully when a race goes “right”.

On Tuesday and Wednesday last week, I didn’t really feel like reliving each mile of 26.2. And then I thought, “well, this year should be much easier to write than last year.” (biggest understatement ever made by anyone ever.) It’s clear that this recap may be easier to write for different reasons.

Like many, I found 4.15.2014 to be an emotional day. To be honest, I didn’t even fully realize it was 4.15 until that Tuesday  morning. I was so focused on being days out from reaching that start and finish line again that it hit me like a ton of bricks. I know I wasn’t alone (just like I wasn’t alone on 4.15.2013). Last year, I ran Boston in a 3+ minute PR of 3:14:37. It was a great day and then, suddenly, it was a terrible day. I surprised myself then. With practically zero hill training and a very short training cycle (just 14 weeks), I ran strong and hit almost every pace I planned in my race strategy. It was a day to remember. Yet a day I wanted to forget for so many days, weeks, months afterward.

This year, I wanted to repeat the race experience at Boston 2013 and enjoy being part of the kickass running community that clearly can’t be stopped.

I didn’t run the race I’m capable of on Monday. I ran 3:21:16, over 11 minutes off of my ‘B’ goal. I know I should be proud of this time. If you had told me 2 or 3 years ago that I would run this at Boston, I would be *over the moon*. I wouldn’t think of this as a failure or a disappointment. It’s perfectly ironic to me that my 2013 Boston experience was wonderful in terms of the race and so devastating in terms of its events — and that my 2014 Boston experience was absolutely wonderful in terms of the people I shared it with and disappointing in terms of my race.

But then, you think about last year. Facing each day was much harder the few days after last year’s Boston Marathon. I don’t want Boston 2014 to be about coming short of my goal. And I definitely don’t want to take the experience for granted. A few days ago, I gradually started to find a sense of humor about the whole experience. For example, how ridiculous is it that so many Midwestern runners (and elsewhere!) trained through one of the WORST winters in history and then ran 26.2 in 60+ degrees. (Luck of the draw with most spring marathons) Blaming the heat feels like an excuse for failing, but there were factors that I could control and others that I could not. That’s the way the marathon goes.

Even though miles 16-26.2 felt more like a slow march, I want to recap the miles of Boston 2014:

My goal was 7:10-7:15/mile or 3:08-3:10 for 26.2.

The last 8-9 weeks of my cycle went really, really well and I felt confident in this goal time. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I felt ready.

I woke up on Marathon Monday rested and calm. I slept surprisingly well and got up right away when my alarm sounded at 4:30 AM. Chanthana and I seemed to have a similar morning—we felt like we had plenty of time to get ready and we weren’t rushing around. We even had a few quiet moments to sit and have breakfast together. We left the hotel with Lauren with enough time to meet Corey and Molly near the buses at Boston Common. We all climbed on a bus together and chatted the entire ride. (I remember the bus ride being much longer last year–probably because I was super nervous then.)

2014-04-21 06.31.36-1Lauren, Corey, Molly, CT, and I about to check our bags and board the buses to Hopkinton 

Aren’t we super attractive, ladiezzzz?!

Quick shout-out to that $5 Walgreens blanket! I didn’t realize it was a Christmas tree until I opened it up on Sunday night! Almost didn’t want to ditch it in the Village. :) Also, as I was leaving the hotel on Monday morning, I showed Manny my awesome hobo outfit and he immediately said, “you’re so lucky I love you.” I mean, how could you not with that kind of outfit?!

After spending the morning in Athlete Village laying down, chatting with friends, and waiting in the bathroom line (75% of my time was spent  there, I swear), I was in a bit of a rush to get to my corral. Never fails. You wait and wait and wait and then you’re suddenly in a rush to apply BodyGlide, count your Gus, double-check your watch is working, & get to corral before the start. I nervously walked up to my corral, walking a bit and jogging a bit when space allowed. By the time I got there, I had 5 minutes before the start of Wave 2. I saw Leticia and Michele (didn’t know they’d be at the start!) and told them I was nervous and a bit worried about the temp. With two minutes before the start, I heard the announcer say ‘alright runners, it’s 58 degrees right now. how about we hold it right there?’. And I thought, hell yeah man it’s already warm! I had throwaway arm-warmers on (because you come prepared for cold weather when you train in -10 to 40 degree temps!) and immediately threw them to the side. I most definitely wouldn’t need them.

2014-04-21 10.17.24

Miles 1-5:

My goal for these miles was just to let the downhill do the work. I wanted to stay relaxed and find a flow, without putting the ‘breaks’ on (that would just kill the quads even more). My pace for these miles should have been 6:55-7:05 per mile. I didn’t feel like I was getting caught up in the excitement of the race. I felt really smooth and focused on keeping my heart rate low.
Miles 1-5

Looking back on it, I probably could have cooled it down a tad. Running 6:50 compared to 7:05 doesn’t seem like a big difference but I know better.

Miles 6-14:

The course here is gently rolling with no major hills. It’s a good time to settle into goal pace range and just focus on fueling properly. The goal here was 7:107:15, to stay consistent. Even thought there are no major hills, it’s still a challenge –something I remember being surprised by last year.

Miles 6-14

This section felt pretty good. The rolling hills felt like the hills I had trained on at Morton Arborteum. My legs had more pep on the hills this year than they did last (which, again, makes sense because I did zero hill training in 2013). Miles 6 and 7 felt just as strong as Miles 1-5. Right after the Mile 7 marker, I felt like I need to make a pit stop and got lucky when I found an empty one. False alarm (insert profanity here). TMI: I thought I needed to go #2. Didn’t happen, but I did pee. And I only managed a few drops. I knew this was bad. At this point in the race, I should be plenty hydrated. When you realize that you may be flirting with dehydration at Mile 8 of a marathon, it’s a really bad sign. I tried not to think too much about it and kept running. I took water at every other water stop in the first 13 miles. Once I reached Mile 14, I knew I need to be taking in much more than that. I also started to pour water over my head and my back by mile 8. (And another bad sign– it felt so cold on my skin that it took my breath away for a second). I took a Gu about every 5 miles and washed it down with water.

Right after Mile 14, Jess and I exchanged a few words. She looked so strong and I have to say, I was 177% jealous of the water bottle she chose to carry during the race. She asked me how I felt and I said “I’m hot.” It was nice to see a familiar face when it all started to go downhill (errrr…uphill) (and she most definitely had some words of wisdom to share with me at gear check after the race). Thanks Jess!

Boston2014-6My face says it all: “Damn, it’s getting hot.”

The first time I looked at my splits after I finished (this wasn’t until Tuesday afternoon–didn’t have the nerve yet), I was actually shocked to look at these miles–the splits weren’t as bad as they were in my head! Miles 13-14 felt pretty tough, miles 8 and 11 were slow due to bathroom/water stops, but the remaining miles were pretty much in goal range. Still, the fact that they’re a bit erratic (even with the rolling course) isn’t a good sign.

Miles 15-21:

The hills. Yeah, this is where it gets real.

Miles 15-21

Mile 15 not good.

Mile 16 “Mayyyyyyybe I can get back into it.”

Mile 17. Nope.

Mile 18 Yeah, this isn’t going well.

By mile 18, I was playing mental games with myself. I spent so much mental energy just calculating and recalculating my projected finishing time. Each time I passed a mile marker, I weighed whether or not I could hold a pace closer to 7:00 and what the finish time would be. And then I gradually resigned to “ok, what if I just hold 8 min/mile? I mean, that’s 30 sec slower than your long run pace, Jenny!”. It wasn’t pretty and I stopped to walk at least 10 times. I’ve never walked in a marathon before (except to drink water or recover from choking on my water, heh…). My legs felt like lead and I was ashamed to even look ahead or to the side at the thousands of spectators lining the course. If there’s ever a time that I wished there were zero spectators at a race, it was then. [Spectators--you are amazing and in hindsight I'm happy you were there! I mean, I probably would have just sat on the curb if you hadn't been screaming your f***ing heads off!]

2014-04-21 13.29.28Hyedi snapped this pic near Mile 19. I told her I was shocked she saw me when I wasn’t walking! Heh.

Miles 22-26.2:

Miles 22-finish

Just trying to hold it together. After the hills in previous section, my legs didn’t even want to run downhill. I wanted to love those downhills, but my legs definitely didn’t. They were boycotting and I felt like there really wasn’t anything I could do about it. I walked in this section a few more times, yelled at myself (internally) a bit (ex: “you only have 2,3,4 miles to go– do you really need a walk break?”), and generally just felt sorry for myself. The goal for this section was to just hold it together and just get back into goal pace after the hills. This clearly didn’t happen. (I remember thinking that my slowest mile of Boston 2013 was 7:59 around mile 22-23. After seeing a few 8’s on my watch, this made me disappointed.)I had a bit of a mental boost seeing the huge Chicago crew (seemingly led by Lynton) and getting a side-5 from Jeff around Mile 22. Seeing some familiar faces kind of snapped me out of my own head for a second–that was MUCH appreciated!  Around Mile 25, Mary said hello as she passed and did her best to keep me going, but I just didn’t have anything left.

Making the right on Hereford and the left on Boylston was emotional. The crowds were unbelievably loud yet I felt like I couldn’t quite hear them. Manny, my mom, my sister, and some friends told me they would be cheering on Boylston (closer to Hereford than the finish). I remember looking to my left several times to try to spot them. And once I turned my attention on that beautiful finish line and put my hands over my heart, the tears started to flow.

I cried because I felt lucky to be back again after last year. I cried because I didn’t run the race I wanted to. I cried because of the crowd support (despite wishing them away when the going got tough). I cried because my legs hurt. And I cried because there’s only one place I was thinking about throughout this cycle–the Boston Marathon Finish Line. It’s so beautiful.

Not every marathon can be beautiful but that finish line surely was.

Boston2014-5

Marathon #4 was the toughest marathon I’ve ever run. It was also the most meaningful after a difficult 2013. I know that a 3:08-3:10 is in these legs of mine. It’s probably just a matter of time before that happens. And I can’t wait until it does.

The stats: 

My goal in the future is to never, ever, EVER run such a huge positive split in a marathon again. :)

Boston Marathon 2014 Jenny Poore Results

 Things I’ve Learned:

  • Don’t be a silly goose. Readjust your expectations up until the minute the race starts according to the weather.
  • Just when you think you’ve had enough water to drink, drink way more (this goes for the day of and especially the day before). I’m normally good at hydrating before a race (and maybe my body just didn’t have enough time to acclimate), but I think I should have had more water on Sunday. Rookie status.
  • Just because I didn’t run the race I wanted to, does not mean that I’m not strong. (And one bad race usually means a great one is just around the corner.)
  • When a race is going poorly, try to at least make the mental switch to just enjoy yourself. –> I clearly didn’t do this. It’s obviously much easier said than done, but I wish I would have just let go and had fun with the crowds.
  • I had so much more fun training for this year’s Boston than I did last year’s. It’s no coincidence that it’s because I spent the majority of every Saturday with Chanthana and Corey. Those two helped me through long runs in ice, snow, and wind—and they’re both ridiculously good at brunching. (#alltheBACON!)
  • Returning to Boston with *almost* the same crew as last year (we missed you so much Kris!) was very special. I recommend stalking these people: Kevin, Scott, Chanthana, Lauren (shout-out to Timayyyy! Because, duh, he’s gonna be running Boston *very very soon*).

2014-04-22 07.18.51We did it!

 

2014-04-23 20.10.14-1

End of one chapter and the beginning of another, am I right?

Onward and upward!

-J

Boston 2014 Training: Week 15 of 16

Week15

Belated training update! Now that the taper tantrums have really set in, it’s only appropriate that I recap taper week #1, right?

The goal this week was: “DON’T BE A HERO SLASH STUPID-HEAD!” (it’s a theme lately)

I ran 35 miles, 5 runs 1 hour spin , 1 hour massage, and 1x (?) core.

Monday: 1 hour easy spin at the gym + core x 1 

I was happy to get on the bike today. It was a nice day if I remember correctly but I was looking forward to a dark spin room all to myself for some reason. And the ‘entertainment’ didn’t disappoint. My gym has a one-way mirror from the spin room looking to the weights section. And you can certainly tell who has and who has not been to a spin class just by how they react to the mirrors on the other side. I swear, one of these days I’m going to create a Tumblr of people checking themselves out in that thing. (It’s the weirdest thing when you think they’re actually looking through the mirror at you …staring at them…but they’re actually just staring at themselves. :))

Tuesday: [5 x 1k workout] 7.8 miles, 7:09 average

I had a tough time getting out of bed this morning for this workout before work. I’m actually glad that I waited because I went out at 2 pm to sunshine and clear skies. I couldn’t have asked for better running weather! I ran 2.5ish warm-up (the underpass that I usually take to the lakefront has been flooded for a few days so I took an alternate route), 5 x 1k with 400m recovery jog, and 1 mi down. I felt GOOD today. Although, I’m quite impressed with my consistent positive splits on this one haha — went out too fast on the first 3 (tailwind!) and the last two are right where all 5 should have been. (All of them should have been around 5k pace, so 6:15-6:20— they spanned 5:58-6:18. whooopsieeeees!) I am pretty sure the 800 speed was still in my legs from the previous week and they didn’t realize they were allowed to run a slower pace. ;)

Splits: 3:42, 3:47, 3:51, 3:52, 3:55 (see consistent positive splits! LOLZ)

Wednesday: Recovery 4.17 miles, 7:28 average

It was a morning! My legs felt GREAT today and I almost timed all of the stoplights perfectly. 4 miles seems so short. #taperproblems

Thursday: [3 x 2 mi at GMP] 8.7 miles, 7:06 average

The only bad thing about this run was the hairy buttcrack on the dude I saw passing me on a bike. Like, get it together, dude. (For those of you that asked if he was on a Divvy, I’m 78.789% sure he was.)

I was supposed to do 2 x 3 mi at GMP but I ran it a weeeeee bit too fast. 2 mi warm-up, then 2 x 3 mi with 5 min jog between. My legs were pretty heavy today. Par for the course during taper so I’m not overthinking this one at all. Beautiful night for a run along the lake (and in shorts!)

6:58, 6:59, 7:04
7:03, 6:56, 6:51

Friday: Recovery 4 miles, 7:36 average.

Quick one around the neighborhood. I didn’t really feel like running today but tomorrow is a rest day. (Something about taper makes these shorties feel pointless, but I know they aren’t.) Looking forward to some bodywork tomorrow morning!

2014-04-11 22.13.09-2

That night, Man and I treated ourselves to some fresh airrrrrrr and a few drinks with some friends. It was the most perfect spring evening–60 degrees and a slight breeze. Just comfortable enough in a light sweater sitting by the warm fire. Remind me to do this more often!

Saturday: REST + Sports Massage

Saturday was another perfect spring day. Although, I think 75 degrees is more like summer. You could tell everyone in the city of Chicago was loving life on Saturday. I woke up early (for a Saturday without a long run) and went to a massage appointment. It was just what I needed and I’m glad that I rescheduled it for the weekend — I originally had it scheduled for Tuesday 4/15, but thought that might be too close to race day. The rest of the day was spent walking around downtown, grabbing a drink with some friends, and lounging at home.

Sunday: 10 mile “long run”, 7:45 average

What a weird run! Man and I ran to the lakefront together. On the way there, we were sweating and commenting that it was the first really warm run of the season. He ran north and I ran south and after only a mile in, you could feel the weather start to change. A fog rolled in at Ohio Street beach and a really cool breeze came in off of the lake. Running south with a tailwind was smooth but running back north was FRIGID. I could barely see 100 yards ahead and all the runners appeared through the fog out of nowhere. It was 60 degrees when we started the run and only 41 degrees when we finished. I knew the temp was going to drop today, but had no idea it was going to drop that quickly—within an hour!

2014-04-13 12.39.40

Left: fog starting to roll in around mile 3. Right: lake is nonexistent and it’s freakin’ frigid!

2014-04-13 11.22.01

The entire skyline disappeared!

Last longish run before Boston! I felt strong today, even in the wind, and my legs are feeling pretty relaxed after yesterday’s massage. Followed by a Mad Men marathon and puppy cuddles on the couch :)

Thoughts:

I felt a bit “blah” and “meh” about running this week. My legs were heavy at times and super peppy at others. Again, this is all part of taper so I know to take that with a grain of salt. Later in the week, I remember thinking that I better savor each sip of coffee or beer because I’m calling it quits on both for the final week before race day. Keepin’ the eye on the prize, guys!

I’m really not sure if I’ll post before Boston. I think it’s going to be hard to put into words no matter what and I’m looking forward to spending time with my running family. I’ve been feeling the love lately and despite a few sad days as we remember 4.15.2013, I think it’s safe to say that I’m looking forward to a weekend full of smiles, happiness, gratitude, and warmth.

If you’re interested in tracking my progress throughout the race, text my bib number (9615) to 345-678 to receive text updates!

-J