Wednesday, July 22, 2015

NYC: week 1

It's for NYC has officially started.  I still have chills about running this and am so excited to start training again.  We were in Michigan for the first half of the summer and had unseasonably cool weather.  While that wasn't ideal for the beach, it was great for running.  We are in New Jersey now and have the opposite....ideal beach weather, but not-so-ideal running weather.   I have been catching up to get acclimated as quickly as possible.

This was also the first week of my officially being coached by Kristy and I could already see a difference.  It was more difficult to fit my runs in this week and the weather made two of the workouts more challenging.  Being accountable to someone else helped me stay honest and kept me from justifying changes that I may have snuck in otherwise :)

Monday: 3 miles easy (9:41 avg pace) and strides

Kick-off to marathon training with a low and slow 3 miler!

Brian had a doctor's appointment that afternoon and I went with him.  My godparents were visiting, so they were on babysitting duty with my parents....and I think they all loved every minute of it :)

Tuesday: 4 miles easy (9:45 avg pace)

I got up to do this one before the boys woke up and then we went out to a late breakfast with my parents and godparents that morning.  We took the boys to the beach that afternoon and when we got back, my brother had arrived.  So we had my godparents, parents, and one of my brothers all together - that hasn't happened since Brian and I got married (6 years ago!).

Wednesday: warm-up, 10 x 400 @ 7:15 pace/1:48 (8 miles total)

Well this one was a doozy.  I got up early to do this before the boys woke up, but it was already really soupy out.  It was also my first time doing speed work since before Bayshore....and I was mentally distracted by what the day had in store.  So who knows the reason, but I didn't come close to hitting a 7:15 pace.  My splits looked like this: 7:34, 7:34, 7:43, 8:00, 7:38, 7:53, 8:23, no data (I didn't hit the lap button), 7:49, 8:04.  

Brian had knee surgery that afternoon.  We were on a run together the previous Monday and something happened - he came to a sudden stop and we walked the rest of the way.  That happened two days before we left Michigan and he was in significant pain.   We got him set up for an MRI when right after we landed in Philly and he saw an orthopedist my parents know the next day.   It looked like he had torn his meniscus and we decided to stay here and have the surgery.  The surgery went great and was a huge success!  Turns out, there was only a small tear, but the major issue was a build-up of plica that was rubbing on the knee and had to be removed (ironically, the same thing I had knee surgery for in 2011).  It was a long day, but he showed incredible strength and made me proud.  

Thursday: off

Friday was my scheduled off day, but I swapped it for Thursday.  When we're away over the summers, Brian and I take turns watching the boys while one of us runs, but we had to adjust to a whole new morning routine on Thursday and I was not prepared to do that and fit in my run :) 

Thursday was a tough day for Brian, but he managed to get out that night for his first walk!

Friday: 3 miles easy (9:53 avg pace) and strides

Short and sweet and I got it done before anyone in the house was awake and was home in time to get the boys up, Brian taken care of, and breakfast for us and the boys.  

Saturday: 1 warm-up, 4 @ 8:35, 1 cool-down

Pace-work runs are my favorite (along with long runs) and I felt good about this one. My splits were 8:32, 8:33, 8:36, 8:36.  I did an out-and-back route and ran against wind on the last I suppose I ran with wind on the front-end (although I didn't know it at the time).

Sunday: 13 miles easy (9:37 avg pace)

This was just plain hard.  I learned from my long run the previous week and I brought money with me to stop for drinks, but I relearned other standard rules when doing long runs at the shore during the summer: get out there early and wear a visor and/or sunglasses.  I didn't want to ask my parents to wake up as early as they would need to in order to get the boys up, so I convinced myself that I could get the boys up and fed and get out by 8:00 and still be okay since I didn't have any pace-specific miles and I would bring plenty to drink.....wrong.  It was humid, the dew point was super high, there is no shade at the shore, and it was pretty miserable.  But I got it done.  And I have already ordered sunglasses and a visor for this weekend's long run....learning curve, people.

I know Brian would love to run and I know what it feels like to watch others run when you can't.  So he has been in the back of my mind all week when I was fighting the heat and humidity on my runs, it's part of what kept me going when I wanted to stop.  Perspective is a good thing :)

Total mileage: 37

What type of runs are your favorite - long, easy, speed work, pace-work?   How do you get through times when you can't run?  Would you rather train through the summer or the winter? Pin It

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Catching up, a new coach, & what's next

Oh hi there!  So it's been always feels as if it should be easier to keep up with things in the summer and that I would have more time....yet, despite having a less demanding schedule and having Brian around more, I typically find the opposite is true.  Especially this summer with how active the boys are (and how much less they nap)!

We left Fayetteville in May and headed to Michigan to spend some time with Brian's family and introduced the boys to the lake life.  We got to the Jersey shore last week to see my family and are getting them acquainted with the waves now.  The boys love the beach....and apparently I have always under-estimated how much fun throwing rocks into water is :)  

Last time I checked in was my Bayshore marathon recap.  Things have gone well since then.  I took the week following the marathon off and then started picking my mileage back up and including a moderate long run.  However I officially start training for NYC tomorrow and I am so happy to be back in a training cycle!  I love having a structured training program.  

NYC is my big focus right now.  I am going to start working with a new coach for this cycle and I couldn't be more excited.  Kristy is a friend of mine (we graduated a year apart from the same undergrad, but 'met' through our blogs) and has been coaching Brian for over a year.  I have observed her style from the sidelines and am really excited to have someone else coach me instead of coaching myself.  I find I always put so much thought into the training plans for my clients and the decisions I need to make for them are black and white, but I end up constantly second guessing decisions I need to make for myself and not spending as much time planning it out.  So I am looking forward to being accountable to someone else and having someone else to sort through all of my second guessing with :)  

My biggest goal right now is to qualify for Boston before next year's registration.   However, I don't expect to qualify at NYC and I am not going to go into the race with that goal.  I will probably only run this race once and, more than anything, I want to enjoy the experience and not get too wrapped up in a specific finish time.   I haven't picked anything out yet, but I plan to run a late winter/early spring race and I hope I'll be ready to give a BQ a shot at that point.

I also plan (hope!) to keep up with regular weekly recaps again, I always enjoy doing it and am thankful for the documentation and reflection on my training.

How much time do you take off after big races?  Do you prefer to be in a training cycle or just going by what you feel like running?  How do you like to document your training?

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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Bayshore marathon recap

The Bayshore marathon was my 9th marathon and it still never ceases to amaze me what a beast the marathon is.  But this was my best experience yet and definitely the smartest marathon I've ever raced.  I feel as if things clicked a little more with this race and it made me excited to take what I learned from this training cycle and race and apply it to the future.

The race was a huge success for me and I crossed with an official time of 3:49:13.  I ran this race 2 years ago with a final time of 4:37:42, I finished with a 10 minute PR from Memphis in December, and I accomplished my biggest goal of running a smart race.  This race was about more than my final time or a PR.  In my mind, a marathon doesn't really start until miles 18-20 and, for me, this marathon was about being ready to fight and to stay in the game when things got real.  It was the most consistent race I've ever run and I was mentally stronger and more present than ever before.

The course

I think the Bayshore marathon is one of the best kept secrets out there.  It has so much going for it: it's small, it's flat, it's mostly waterfront, it offers gorgeous views, and there is a high likelihood of ideal running temps on race day.  The lay-out is great too.  The full is an out-and-back route with a few turns in the beginning and end, but mostly a straight stretch on a road that runs along the water and the half marathon starts at the turn-around for the full.  I love this because you will clock a shorter marathon distance on your GPS and come closer to the actual race distance without worrying about tangents.  I also really enjoy seeing the half marathoners coming through and then seeing everyone else in the full.

The elevation map:

And the course map (the red line is the out-and-back-route):

The weather was nearly perfect - it started in the upper 30s and was in the 50s (I think) by the end.  The sun did come out and it warmed up a tad, but not significantly.  You are susceptible to wind and we did get hit with some wind in the second half.  There is also limited access for spectators; however it is easy for them to jump along to multiple places along the course and you'll get big crowds of people at the access points.  The only negative I can think of for the course is the grade in the road.  I learned my lesson the first time I ran this race and consciously ran as close to the center of the road as I could this time and didn't have any problems.  But if you aren't aware of it and run along the sides, you could have some unexpected soreness.  


My in-laws were up in Michigan with us and took the baby monitor the night before the race (meaning we actually got a good night's sleep the night before a race!) and watched the boys that morning.  We woke up at 4:00, had breakfast, got ready, and were out the door at 5:15.  We wanted to give ourselves extra time because we still had to pick up our packets (I tried to pick up our packets the night before, but was unable to get down some stairs that led to the packet pick-up area with the stroller, couldn't find a handicap entrance, and didn't have anyone with me to watch the I drove back home sans race packets...womp womp).  We got to the start area with plenty of time, picked up our packets (so easy, especially considering it was race morning), went to the bathroom, went back to the car to keep warm, got all of our gear and fuel ready, went to the bathroom again, got rid of our throw-away sweats, and hopped in our corral.  Everything was easy peasy.  

The race

My plan was to start with a conservative pace and maintain that for at least the first half, but likely until I hit 20 miles and then inch my pace up if I had it in me.  I clocked miles that were faster than where I wanted to be (my goal was 8:39-8:43) for the first half, but I felt good and I felt like I settled into a comfortable pace.

I loved seeing the half marathoners coming through.  First I saw a local friend of ours, Karen, and then I saw Corey.   Once they passed, there was a little bit of time before the marathoners started coming in and I couldn't wait to see Brian.  Brian was going for a BQ (sub-3:10).  His PR is a 3:15 from this race two years ago and I had a really good feeling that this would be his day.  He gave me an indication that it was dicey and things were going so-so.  I saw Elizabeth a bit later and could tell she was having an awesome day.

Miles 1-13: 8:28, 8:33, 8:38, 8:36, 8:43, 8:39, 8:37, 8:40, 8:37, 8:37, 8:37 8:33, 8:38

The only race photo I could find
Once we hit the turn-around, we got hit with some wind.  I didn't notice the impact at first, but realized I had to pay more attention when I saw my mile split.  I still felt good overall, but definitely wasn't ready to drop my pace yet.

My water bottle was empty and I debated whether to fill it up or just use the aid stations.  Right or wrong, I stopped in mile 19 to refill my bottle and it kind of turned into a 'thing' with the guy (he didn't mind, it just did not go as smoothly and as quickly as I had it going in my head).  The good thing was that I used my bottle for the rest of the race and didn't have to worry about using aid stations.

Things got real around mile 20 and everything was harder.  I felt mentally and physically stronger than I had in any other marathon and was prepared.  I was confident I could hold it together, but didn't think I could drop my pace.  I ended up having to stop for the bathroom in mile 22 and it cost me about a minute....and irritated the bejeezus out of me.

I really started to fade during mile 25 and could feel things slipping away.  I knew Brian was (hopefully) finished and wanted so badly to know how the race went for him.  Our friend Karen (the one who ran the half) is normally somewhere in the last mile cheering for people and I hoped to see her so I could ask how Brian did.  I pulled it together for mile 26 and was able to finish strong while keeping my eyes glued for Karen.  I saw her somewhere in the final stretch and she jumped in to run me in.  It was awesome and she gave me the push I needed to really pick it up.  She had also run Brian in for the final few miles and I found out then that he didn't qualify and that he finished in 3:26.  I knew he would be devastated and I wanted to finish more than anything just so I could see him.   I saw the clock was 3:49:XX and knew I would get in under 3:50.  I had a mix of emotions - I was so happy with my race and time, but so surprised by how Brian's race went and was worried about him.  I felt like I had already processed my race and knew I hit my main goals and I was just focused on finding Brian to check in on him.

Miles 14-26.2:  8:50, 8:39, 8:41, 8:36, 8:45,  9:17 (stopped to refill my water bottle), 8:39, 8:45, 9:44 (bathroom stop), 8:47, 8:46, 9:05, 8:38, 2:09 (7:36 pace)


Race stats:

Garmin stats:


I saw Brian as soon as I finished, he was just on the other side of the gates.  My heart broke for him.  This was supposed to be his race.  He trained so hard and did so during a time that was personally difficult for him because of his work schedule and family demands.  All of his training data indicated he was ready for a sub 3:10 and I really didn't have a doubt in my mind that he would get it.  He was on pace for most of the race, but the wind got the best of him in the second half and then he had some form of leg cramp or his hamstring gave out and he went down (literally) at the very end.  He recovered and finished strong, but it wasn't the race he wanted.  I was so proud of his fight and, as always, his resiliency, perseverance, and determination are so impressive.

We got ice cream from a local shop (chocolate peanut butter for the win!) that had a stand in the post-race area.  I saw Elizabeth walking by and got to chat with her - she had an awesome day.   After that, it was time to go get back home.

We got back home right before the boys went down for their nap, which was perfect timing - we got to see their smiling faces, got tackled with hugs, played with them for a minute, and then got to rest and recover while they napped.  Brian and I dropped a not-so-subtle hint about how amazing sandwiches from our favorite local place would be (they have pretzel bread, people) and my in-laws promptly picked up on the hint and were out the door to get them.  We got showered, ate an awesome lunch, and then Brian's parents offered to get the boys up from their nap and let us take a nap of our own.  Uh...yes please!

We ordered pizza for dinner and then got a second wind to meet up with our friend Karen who ran the half (the one who ran both of us in), she was at a bar down the street.   My in-laws took the cake when they offered to keep the baby monitor again that night and let us sleep in on Sunday morning.  It's literally been about a year since we slept later than 7:00am.  No lie.  They did return the baby monitor to us on Sunday :)

What I did differently

My watch settings
I have always kept my watch displays and settings the same for races as I do for training.  That meant I could view my distance, average pace, lap pace, and time and that I would get mile alerts.  However this always played with me in the later miles of a full when my lack of ability to run tangents would highlight itself and I would get mile alerts well before the mile markers along the course.

For this race I switched my primary screen to average pace, lap pace, and timer (instead of distance) and I turned off all alerts (tones and vibrations).  I had my distance on my second screen if I wanted to scroll to it (which I did a few times).  It is hard to over-state how well this worked for me.  It allowed me to focus more on my pace and how I felt without being so cognizant of what the distance was.

I had a bagel with butter and half a cup of coffee about 3 hours before the start.  Then I sipped water until about an hour before the start and had a chocolate Honey Stinger waffle 30 minutes before the start.  During the race I started with two Honey Stinger chews at 2.5 miles, had a PowerGel at 5 miles, 2 chews at 7.5 miles, a gel at 10 miles, and continued with that pattern.  I also carried my handheld, refilled it during the race (still not sure that was a good decision), and finished with my handheld (first time ever not ditching my handheld mid-race....cha-ching, I saved $20!).

I feel as if fueling is an ever-evolving topic for most runners and I changed a lot during this training cycle.  I am getting close, but have yet to really nail my fueling strategy.  Towards the end of this training cycle, I started experimenting with alternating chews and gels.  I feel as if gels are a good fuel source for me, but taking too many gels results in bathroom stops.   I didn't have too much time to play around with this and mainly wanted to ensure that chews wouldn't result in something worse.  Obviously it still needs to be perfected since I had to stop for the bathroom, but I feel as if I am getting closer.

I also experimented with different types of gels.  I have always used Gu and never really had a problem with it....unless Gu was my problem?  In this cycle, I experimented with Huma gels and PowerGels.  Regarding chews, I tried Honey Stinger chews and Clif Shot Blocks.  After trying everything, I found I like PowerGels, Gu, and Honey Stinger chews the best.

Do you set your watch differently when you are racing and training?  What are your watch go-to settings?

What are your fueling strategy go-tos and what are you still playing with?   Do you race with your own bottle and fill it up or do you take what is available on the course?

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