Marathon Training Update: Week 11

This week FLEW BY! I can’t believe it’s already Thursday and Rock ‘n Roll Chicago is 17 days away. The next two weeks are going to go by even faster and the mileage will have to be smart. Rock ‘n Roll will be my 3rd half marathon this year and 4th completed half marathon since I started getting serious about racing last May. It’s kind of crazy that it feels like a routine now. Get up one morning and race 13.1 miles as fast you can? I can do THAT! Here’s how the past week went down:

Thursday, July 21: Tempo Run

I was good about waking up early for this run considering the heat was going to be unbearable later on in the day. I refuse to do the majority of my workouts on the treadmill even when it’s 70-90 degrees because my “winter self” would just say “tsk tsk”. I did a 1 mile warm up and 1 mile cool down with 4 miles at a pace between 8:25-8:35. I avoided looking at the Garmin too often and posted the following splits: 8:41, 8:22, 8:25, 8:14. I couldn’t find much of a rhythm for this run, but I was happy with my splits after I finished.

Saturday, July 23: 13 Mi LSD

Despite the heat that we’ve been having lately, Saturday morning was the perfect day for me to do a long run. It was overcast the entire time, slightly muggy, but there was a breeze along the lake. My goal for this run was to be consistent and add 2 minute surges every three miles to keep the legs fresh. I ran 12.95 miles in 1:55 and realized something amazing on my bus ride home (stopped at Starbucks for a grande iced coffee–which totally hit the spot!). I ran my first marathon in 1:56. That day I was racing. The longest run I had done before the Indy Mini was probably about 8 miles and it was a struggle. I lacked the motivation to get out there, but knew that I had a goal to finish the half in under two hours. I was determined, but I didn’t commit to the mileage or to fueling myself properly. This past Saturday, on the other hand, was a training run. In my mind, I was going out for a light jog and ended up posting the same time as a race about a year prior. It’s always nice to see how far you’ve come in terms of personal goals. I love that I’m seeing results!

LADIES ONLY: This was my first long run in just a sports bra. And I have to say, I need to do that more often. It was so liberating and I felt so…FREE! No wonder guys run shirtless all the time! Brady wrote an awesome post about running topless on Loving the Run a few weeks ago. Both honest and hilarious. I’ll be running topless more often…well, not topless!

Monday, July 25th: Tempo Run

Another tempo on the books. Coach wanted me to post the tempo miles at an 8:15-8:30 pace. I intended to do this in the early morning before work, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. So after work, I laced up my shoes and headed out. And it felt weird to run in the evening! I definitely have more kick in my legs in the morning, which I never thought would be the case. I wouldn’t consider myself a morning person just yet, but I’m acclimating to being a morning runner. I don’t have to be nice to you in the morning, but my legs will be nice to me! I felt out of sync for this run (*most likely because it was in the evening) but was able to push the pace a little bit and persevere through a high heart rate: 8:07, 8:12, 8:05, 8:11.

Tuesday, July 26th: Slow jog

I had a really rough day on Wednesday. Attempting to deal with drama when you’re a drama-free person just takes the wind out of you, sometimes. I got a delivery from Running Warehouse and after trying out the singlets I bought, I felt the urge to go for a run. Kept it nice and slow, but the adrenaline and endorphins helped me work through some things by the time I got home less than a half hour later. Running is the ultimate therapy!

Thursday, July 28th: 8 x 800s

I didn’t wake up early this morning for my speed workout, but I’ll be pushing it in the heat tonight. The air is humid and “rainforesty” today, so it will be a good test. I was tempted to go to the gym for the first time in three months and do them on the treadmill, but Coach wants me to prepare for the potential heat at Rock ‘n Roll. Should be doing eight 800 meter repeats at 3:45 (or faster) with 400 meter recovery in between. Look out for my update next week to see how I handled it!

In other news, Ryan Hall has announced he is going to be running the Chicago Marathon this year. I was exited to see yesterday that he will be making his only public appearance this week at Fleet Feet at Piper’s Alley tonight at 5:30. Sweet!

-J

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I Beat the Heat This Week

It’s been so HOT this week, that’s it’s hard to even imagine a temperature below 80 anymore. With the increased heat and humidity, it’s more difficult to get off your butt and running out the door. It’s Friday afternoon and I found myself wondering how I beat the heat and still managed to get some quality runs in. I made it through the heat the following ways:

  • I got my first shipment of Nuun last week and I think I’m officially in love with “electrolyte enhanced drink tabs”. The citrus fruit flavor is absolutely delicious–a mixture of orange and grapefruit. Yummmmm! Each tube has 12 drink tabs and they’re handy enough to throw in your purse or gym bag and add to a bottle of water. I’m keeping a roll or two at my desk at work from now on.

  • Short hair–I chopped my hair off a few months ago and have recently become more grateful for it. I used to have hair that was long enough to get caught in my purse handles and my armpits on hot summer days haha. So glad I decided to cut 6+ inches off and go short for the summer!
  • My favorite Saucony singlet. It’s lightweight and fits in all the right places. It’s not too wide and not too short. Love it! Running a speed workout is much easier when you get to wear running clothing that is virtually weightless.

  • Free concerts in Millenium Park! Despite the heat, Manny and I decided to go see Blonde Readhead for the free concert at Millenium Park on Wednesday night. Summer nights in the city are absolutely amazing when you’ve got a free event to go to. We snagged a spot on the side of the stage to see most of the show and enjoyed a few cold Goose Island brews to stay cold 🙂

Stay cool and relax this weekend! For those of you who have a long run scheduled, get up early so that you can enjoy a big brunch and nap afterwards 🙂

-J

Marathon Training Update: Week 12

Training is officially in full swing. After a much-needed (and appreciated) week of rest in Cabo and some simple base training to get back into the swing of things and the A.M. running schedule, I started my training cycle last week. On Sunday, July 10th I put in a strong 10 mile run along the lakefront. I was excited to get up early and head out there, considering it was the longest run I would have in over a month and a half. Since 13.1 Chicago, my goal was to re-focus, allow my body to rest, and to prepare a strong 12-week training cycle led by my coach (and brother) @PedalingPoores. And if my training over the past week and a half isn’t a testament to the power of REST, I’m not sure what is!

Tuesday: Progressive Tempo–7.5 Miles

I didn’t have a plan for this run the night before but woke up thinking “yes, I will do a tempo today!”. Each mile I gently pushed my legs along to a speedier pace and it seemed light and effortless. I didn’t get much sleep the night before but I was feeling energetic and ready to tackle these miles. (I consistently “zap the zero” on Tuesdays–I think that motivates me to kick butt!)

Splits:
09:13
09:12
08:35
08:14
08:18
08:04
08:34
08:56

Thursday: Speed Ladder– 5.92 Miles

I spoke with my coach on Tuesday over lunch and got all jazzed for the official training to begin. We decided I should do my first two-a-day. (eek!) I ran a strong speed ladder in the morning:

I was quite happy with myself! I had no idea what kind of pace I was running for each interval because I programmed the workout into my Garmin myself. It shows distance and time remaining when you are in an Advanced Workout, but not current or lap pace. I began to feel the burn during the 800 interval and tried to keep my form together through the end of the workout. The rest intervals always seem shorter and shorter towards the end, but I always tell myself that means I have less distance to run anyway. Coach told me I should have been on Cloud 9 with these splits and, indeed, I was!

That night I ran the Bastille Day 5k with Manny, my newbie runner boyfriend. (Click link for recap!)

The easy 5k at night flushed out my legs and I didn’t feel heavy at all. I went to bed feeling refreshed and relaxed, which was great considering the total mileage I put in!

Saturday: 12 Mile LSD

Woke up nice and early in order to get this run in before the heat really set in. I was nervous about the heat but was happy to see an overcast sky the minute I woke up. Running along the lakeshore in full sunlight is never fun, especially on a long run (over an hour and a half). I felt strong throughout and my breathing wasn’t as labored as I thought it would be. I decided to do a 3 mile surge towards the end of the run and, again, blew myself out of the water! Even though my average pace should have been around 9:30, it turned out to be 8:59, with a strong final three miles at the following splits: 8:39, 8:17, 7:49. I ran right up the steps to the Starbucks and grabbed myself an iced coffee before getting on the bus to head home. 🙂

Sunday–BF Birthday Recovery Day

Tuesday–1 km Repeats–6.03 miles

Schedule called for 1 km repeats at a pace of 5 min/km or faster. I programmed this workout into my Garmin as well, by using the Repeat function for the first time. I hoped to do 5 repeats, but instead accidentally programmed it for 4. Woops! It was probably a good thing considering I woke up late and was rushing to get ready for work by the time I got back from my run.

1 km splits: (with 400 m recovery) 4:14, 4:27, 4:21, 4:25

I didn’t expect to see these times flashin’ on my Dailymile or Garmin Connect Dashboard anytime soon. In fact, I think it’s because I had no expectations going into these runs. Sure, Coach had some times in mind for me; there are thresholds that I should reach at different times. But I felt like I just went out there and RAN. This weekend I will put in a strong 13 miles and continue to look forward to surprising myself.

Have a happy week! (AND STAY HYDRATED IN THIS HEAT!)

-J

Bastille Day 5k Race Recap

If you’ve been following recently, you will remember that my boyfriend, Manny, has recently taken up running. One day, he (to my surprise) mentioned that he’d like to have some medals hanging up in his office from some running races. I have a stack of running bibs that I have hanging along with medals as a kind of ‘shrine to running’ in our apartment. It’s always motivating to look back on what you’ve done to prove to yourself that you can do the same (or better) at the next race. I immediately capitalized on this interest and took him to buy his first pair of official running shoes at Fleet Feet. He walked away with a fresh pair of Mizunos and since then…(drum roll please) he’s been running regularly!

I always find it motivating to have a race or some type of fun run on the schedule, so I registered us both for the Bastille Day 5k. It’s a relatively small race on the day of France’s independence celebration. I’m a sucker for all things french (mostly wine, cheese, and bread) so I thought it would be fun for us. Manny and I met up in Lincoln Park and walked to get our bibs and shirts. It was a zoo when we arrived, but we had a minute to chat with a friend at the Muscle Milk tent and watch the 8k begin a few minutes before we headed to the start line ourselves. We both had tunes playin’ as we anxiously waited for the run to start. (I don’t think I’ll ever grow out of being impatient in the ‘corral’ before a race. After rushing to get to the start line, the last thing I want to do is wait around.)

The race began and we started running at a good pace. The usual shuffle and bob between other runners was pretty smooth and we were able to stay together for the most part. Manny really surprised me. We’ve jogged together a few times since he started running regularly and each time I think I’ve been impressed. He was holding a steady pace. The adrenaline of passing other runners was kicking in, I could tell. At Mile 1, we stopped to drink our water and chatted for a few minutes. I was happy to hear he wasn’t having any knee pain (the race was on a trail, rather than pavement, which definitely helped). Start up the tunes. And we’re off.

Mile 2 was a bit slower. We enjoyed the view and were happy to have a bit more space as the runners thinned out a bit. After passing water station #2, Manny got a small side stitch and we walked past the boat harbor. It was perfect weather for a run. Usually a July evening would be hot and sticky, but there was a breeze coming off the lake and we were happy to be running in shaded areas. At Mile 2.75, I asked Manny if we were going to race to the end. We decided against racing, but we did decide that we’d both do a surge towards the finish line.

And, to be honest, Manny was blazin’! I think I should bring him to my next speed workout and have him push me for some 400 meter strides because that man can RUN. At this point, his legs are ready to go but his lungs are still adjusting. For someone that has only been running somewhat regularly for about 2 months, he’s doing great. And I can’t wait to see what he does next. Our unofficial time was 32:33 with 3 short walking periods, which probably means that we ran a 9:00 average for the majority of the race.

We stayed at the ‘block party’ for a bit and enjoyed a beer (even thought it wasn’t free). We scarfed down some Swirlz cupcakes and headed home. What a perfect way to spend a summer evening! 🙂

-J

I’m Back! + Training Plan Thoughts

I’m back from vacation! After 7 days of full relaxation in Mexico, I’m itching to move my legs like crazy and pick up my training plan again. If you’re like me, you carry your planner with you wherever you go (yes, even if it’s out for drinks with friends on a Friday night and even when you know there’s a high probability that you won’t even need it). But this past week, I totally unplugged myself from all social networks, online communication, and even my planner. It’s weird to turn back the page and see nothing scribbled and scrawled there–no “to dos” listed to motivate me to accomplish something each day. I’ll be posting more about the vacation over the weekend for your drooling pleasure. 🙂

 

In the meantime, I was thinking about getting some feedback about marathon training plans. I feel like there are so many out there to choose from and it’s only a matter of trial and tribulation until you find the one that works for you. As I’ve only trained for half marathons before, the decision between one plan or another for twice the distance seems even more important. I’ve always been a huge fan of Hal Higdon’s plans, with a little bit of my own alterations and speedwork additions sprinkled in. And sometimes, it just comes down to how I feel each day. There’s no secret that putting in the miles is the first step for a long distance runner, but how those miles are arranged and when you plan your recovery seems to set each plan apart from another. Let me know which plan works for you and feel free to leave comments about why you like or dislike the plan you’re using!

-J