Marathon Training: Week 6

So my attempt at two a days was laughable. Did two workouts on Monday–Insanity in the morning and a speed workout at the track after work. Was super duper sore on Tuesday. Like cancelled kettlebell class sore so I would have a shot at running at the group run on Wednesday. And that run was rough, but I got 4 miles done. Rested on Thursday. Liberty Mile on Friday night, then an impromptu 5k with my best friend on Saturday morning in Ohio. Pushed my long run to Sunday morning at Open Streets, but had to cut it short because my hip was not having it.

It’s interesting, though. Friday night at the Liberty Mile I didn’t do as well as I had hoped. I really wanted a sub-9 mile, but knew it was a long shot. I’ve literally done that one time on a treadmill, and road is vastly different. I was hoping for low 9s if I couldn’t break it. That didn’t happen either. 9:45. Totally respectable for my first mile race, and I gave it everything I had. I didn’t hold anything back, so if that was the best I could do, that was the best I could do. I was literally cramping as I walked from the finish to the bag drop area. Can’t ask for more from myself. After my heat I stuck around to watch my buddy run his race–and he killed it, of course. Then we went for our post-race free beer and it got interesting. My buddy is faster than me–that’s part of why I like training with him, he can push me like no one else. He was running in the masters division–sub 8 minute mile. And over beer, he challenged me to beat his time from this year at next year’s race. I hemmed. I hawed. He told me it was yes or no. I can’t back down, so I said yes. Then we got our official times. He put up a 7:48. Basically 2 solid minutes under where I finished. *gulp* WTF did he talk me into?

pictures from Liberty Mile on Friday…

Here’s the thing though, yeah, that’s a challenge. A big one. It won’t be easy. BUT–he wouldn’t have put it out there if he didn’t think I could do it. He’s a good friend and a great training partner (though we rarely actually run together…). He knows I wouldn’t back down from it, but he also wouldn’t intentionally set me up for failure either.  And the fact that I’m going for it will push him to do better–because he still wants to be faster than me.

Saturday I got up at the buttcrack of dawn and drove out to Ohio to run a 5k with my bestie and her husband (and their baby girl). She’s run all her life, both track and cross country, she’s coached both, needless to say, she’s also faster than me (even when coming back from injuries, and even with a baby jogger). Much as it killed her, she stayed true to her commitment to run the race with her husband, so for what will probably be the ONLY time in my life, I finished ahead of her. And the race was so small, that I actually snagged 2nd place in my age group–holla! That was a first for me as well. Definitely not my best 5k, not even a course PR for me (I’ve done this same course at a different race a couple of times), but I had a good time and got some quality time with some of my favorite people (which was the whole reason I went out in the first place).

shirt and second place age group medal from the 5k

Sunday, I was planning 10 miles at the final Open Streets of the season. Open Streets is an initiative to get people outside and active in Pittsburgh, three times each summer they take a stretch of roads branching through several different neighborhoods and shut them down to traffic for a few hours on Sunday morning. You can bike, walk, run, skate, shop, take fitness classes, eat, socialize, etc. It’s a really cool event and draws a lot of people. This was the first one I made it to, and I will definitely be putting them on my calendar next year. Unfortunately, my hips had other plans–I ended up walking a lot, and cutting it short at 7. Can’t pinpoint where it went wrong–I always run a mile on Friday nights and it’s usually chased by a kettlebell class, which I didn’t do this week. I’ve done several back to back races–5 or 10k Saturday and 10 miles or half marathon on Sunday–so it’s not running 3 days in a row or trying to run long after a race. But something was off. I’ll need to work on that for my long run next weekend.

view from Open Streets (this was a less crowded moment)

Final Flash 5k for SCRR coming up on Thursday. Plus more training. Happy Monday, Friends.

Marathon Training: Week 5

This week was interesting. I was traveling for work, so I was out of my routine–which is both good and bad. I didn’t stick to my training plan, I didn’t run or work out nearly as much as I should’ve. I had a really good solid 5k on the treadmill one day, and I stepped out of my comfort zone and met up with someone from the local running club in Milwaukee for a morning run while I was out there. Again, a nice solid run, I’m proud of it for a million reasons. But that said, returning to reality has been rough. I’ve been tired and trying to get everything together for my return to my real job. Being lax with my training and eating–not just for the past week, but really over the past month–has caught up to me, though and it’s time to buckle down and get serious if I want to reach my goals for this fall marathon.

I’ve debated this long and hard, but I’ve finally decided I’m going to do a modified round of Insanity for at least the next month until our vacation, which will mean twice a day workouts most days (1 day completely off in any given week) but the first part of the program the workouts are all 30-40 minutes essentially so that’s easy enough to work into my days. If I find it interferes with running too much, I’ll re-work my schedule and cut days out and what not, but I feel like I need to at least give this a try.

I also need to reign in my food. I’ve read Matt Fitzgerald’s The Endurance Diet and I like the focus on quality over calories–if you’re eating consciously to fuel your activity and choosing high quality foods you can be less beholden to hard and fast macro or calorie counts. I like this concept, it makes sense to me, though I’m also skeptical–but I got the Diet Quality Score app and we’re gonna give this a go. I’ve prepped a bunch of food for this week to keep myself on the straight and narrow. Now I just need to stay focused and keep my eyes on the prize.

Happy Monday, friends.

Marathon Training: Week 4

This was a week, let me tell you. Slightly less stressful but HOT. Rested on Monday since I raced on Sunday. Tuesday I blew off my cross-training workout in favor of an impromptu date night with my husband. Wednesday I did my now usual group run with the SCRR East Enders, though only 2 of us showed up and I cut it short because it was HOT and I was completely drained. Thursday was the second SCRR Flash 5k (though it was my first) and I didn’t get the time that I wanted, but it was a great event and I had a fantastic time. A Flash 5k is kind of like Flash Mob for runners–date and time are publicized ahead, but location isn’t released until that day. You show up, you run. No charge, no frills, just a mass of people running a 5k. And this particular one had a couple of local food trucks, so I snagged some dinner before I headed home. Shout out to The Coop Pgh for the AMAZING Chicken & Waffles…seriously hit the spot and they were incredible. Friday was cross training and a warm up mile at Pittsburgh Kettlebell and Performance. Great class, decent mile. Got it done. Saturday I needed to log 10 miles for my long run, so I headed out to Annie’s Run–a local 6 hour trail event fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation put on by a member of my running club. Didn’t do the full 6 hours, just the 10 miles I needed to get in. Another great no frills event, with excellent food at the aid station. I’m not a trail girl, but I’d do it again.

Sunday I spent recovering and preparing for my work trip this week. I’m on a plane for Milwaukee at the butt crack of dawn on Monday morning and not coming back until Friday evening. Did some finagling to figure out runs while I’m out there, and hopefully I can hook up with their local running club for a run or two-we’ll see. More later.

Happy Monday, Friends.

Race Recap: ORTC Summer Road Race 10k/Marathon Training Week 3

The end of last week was really rough. Thursday was a struggle at work and Friday was even worse. My anxiety was off the charts, I was on edge all day. By the time I wrapped it up at work, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go to go to the gym. But I changed my clothes, and I went–it might not make me feel better, but not going would definitely make me feel worse. And since I was going and had time to kill before class, I figured I might as well get a warm up mile in. I honestly did not have high hopes for it, the negativity in my head was spinning, and though I was going to force my hand a bit by using the treadmill, I didn’t expect anything spectacular. But I pushed. I bumped the speed up, then up again, then up again. And I finished my mile:

I was happy, but honestly, I was sure that I’d run faster with my buddy before, so I sent the pic to my husband and buddy, but basically let it go. I pushed through the rest of the workout–not as heavy as I would have liked to go, but I gave it everything I had in me. And I did feel better.

When I got home I looked to see what my fastest mile was so I could see where I was at. It wasn’t with my buddy, as I had suspected. It was at the Turkey Trot last November. And it was in the low 9s. That was my first sub 9-minute mile. How could I not be proud of that? Realizing that made me ecstatic.

So I went into this weekend with a major boost. My scheduled long run was supposed to be…6 miles. Not long by my definition, so I wanted to find a 10k to make it interesting. My running club never lets me down, when I failed to find something using my usual sources, I reached out and someone suggested a race on Sunday. An hour away, but I’ve driven further for shorter races, so no biggie to me. So I registered, and yesterday I drove up to Rochester, PA for the ORTC Summer Road Race 10k.

Flat, looped course along the Ohio River. It was pretty and scenic. Definitely different. The course is a 5k loop so the 10k runners did it twice. Very small field–like 23 in the 10k–but because of the loops it wasn’t desolate until the end (of course I was near the end). Definitely not a PR for me (as I’d initially hoped) but I ran the whole thing, which officially makes this the farthest I’ve run without walking in months. Baby steps, I’m getting my legs and confidence back slowly but surely.

This week I have a SCRR Flash 5k on Thursday–they announce the time and location the day of, you show up and run. Kind of excited, since I couldn’t do the last one and they only do 3 each summer. A 10-mile long run is on the schedule for next weekend, and I haven’t decided where and how that’s happening yet, but I’ll figure that out.

Happy Monday, Friends.

Race Recap: Brentwood Firecracker 5k

Lemme tell you, this week was ROUGH. I love holidays, but short weeks at work are always the worst–maybe that’s where some of my aversion to taking time off comes from? I don’t know. But yesterday was just a bad day all around. Details aren’t important here, but I took the evening off from training to regroup and try to come at the weekend with a better attitude.

So Tuesday…I ran a race. The Brentwood Firecracker 5k. I haven’t done this race in about 4 years (last time was 2013 when I literally lived a few streets away in the neighboring borough). It’s a tough course–lots of rolling hills and you finish uphill. And it’s in July so it’s HOT. But it’s also hugely fun–it’s BIG race (over 2,000 runners for a 5k–and that is the only distance), it takes place right before their 4th of July parade so the streets are literally lined with spectators (whose chairs have been saving their parade spots for the better part of a week). The race started at 9. It was HOT. I was pissy that I’d worn my awesome go ‘Murica outfit instead of finding something more weather friendly. I didn’t have high hopes for the race. It was HOT (have I mentioned that?), I’d been having some crappy runs, it’s a tough course. Whatever, I’d have a good time even if my time wasn’t good. And I was going to tailgate with some people from our running group after the race, so it was going to be a good day.

The race starts. I take off, and it’s going better than expected. I pushed through miles one and two and was happy with how I was doing. Then I fell apart in mile three. I just couldn’t make myself go. I walked what felt like an awful lot. I ended up with a course PR, but nowhere near my 5k PR, which at first I was fine with because I wasn’t expecting it anyway.  I went about my day without giving it too much thought. The rest of the holiday was good.

The next day I realized I could’ve actually PRd this race if I’d pushed just a little bit harder in that last mile. If I’d dug just a little bit deeper I could’ve pulled it off. And this annoys me. I’m not beating myself up over it, but I’m definitely annoyed that I folded during the race. Motivation to push harder next time (in the SCRR Flash 5k next Thursday…).

Took part in the group run again on Wednesday. Definitely need to revamp the training schedule–I feel like I need the group run. Speed work will have to factor in somewhere else–which will be good training in discipline for me since it’s something I struggle with doing. The run itself was rough, but I managed to get through 4 miles–a solid mid-week distance for this point in my training. Kettlebell class tonight and long run tomorrow (ha! long run! it’s only 6 miles this week) as long as the weather holds up. Maybe I’ll try to find a 10k to show up for to make it more interesting and redeem myself for Tuesday.

Happy Weekend, Friends!

Marathon Training: Week 2

Didn’t post on Friday but man do I have a lot to talk about today…

Wednesday I did a group run with the SCRR East End group (unofficial) and it was great and EXACTLY what I needed to get me out of the slump I’d been in. I ran 4 straight miles at a decent pace–slower than I’d like, but  considering the temps and time of day I was happy with it. Hung out with the group to BS and have a beer after and it was a much needed release. After that run my perspective started to shift.

My confidence had been lacking for the better part of June. I’d been feeling really good about myself since our vacation in April, but suddenly the magic started to wear off out of nowhere. Runs were lacking and just started feeling lousy about myself. There is a direct correlation in my life between how I feel about my training and athletic abilities and how I feel about my aesthetics–when I feel like my body won’t or can’t do what I want I get hyper critical of the way it looks. Looking ahead at marathon training was also intimidating me, and honestly kind of bumming me out because of all the races I’m turning down for the sake of building mileage. But after Wednesday, when I (admittedly) forced myself through that run, and proved that I CAN do it (which I had started to question) I felt a lot better about myself and I started viewing myself differently–I *felt* like an athlete again.  I can do hard things and I can persevere when I want to give up. I felt renewed confidence in my body and it’s abilities.

So Saturday I set out for my “long” run–8 miles. My knee had acted up for my 6-mile long run the previous week so I was a little nervous going in, but I was going to do what I needed to and hopefully make it through the full 8 on my training plan. It was super humid when I set out at 6 AM, so I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular, I just wanted to get through the mileage. The first half of the run went pretty well. Had to walk a little bit, but forced my own hand and ran up all of the major uphill stretches instead of folding and walking like I normally would (side note: there is NO shame in walking, or in walking hills, I just know that I personally am capable of more so if I walk these particular hills I’m selling myself and my training short). The back half of the run was a different story. I took my gel too late, I ran out of water, I ended up walking more because I was depleted (though I still made myself run the uphill portions on principle). But my knee held up and I finished the run. Which also boosted my confidence–it was hard, it sucked, it didn’t go quite as planned, but I DID it.

I’m struggling with my training plan and may need to make some adjustments. That Wednesday night run was really good for me–and it’s a smaller group than the Saturday runs so its less intimidating and awkward for me. I haven’t been able to do the speedwork group yet as they’ve been on hiatus. A part of me wants to suck it up and do some speedwork on my own so I can stick with the Wednesday night run group. I know that I NEED to do speedwork to get the edge I want and need for my fall marathon goal, but I really like this particular group and I think they’ll push me in a different way. And this is why my training plan is in pencil and I ink it 2 weeks at a time when I get that far…I want to be flexible and open and take advantage of opportunities as they arise. Except for races, because they will interfere with my long runs. I WISH I could still race most every weekend. I LOVE racing, I love racing back to back days, and we’re in the prime season for me to do that. BUT…goals. I HAVE to get my mileage back up in order to run this fall marathon. I’ve carefully scheduled and balanced 2-3 races per month up to the marathon, but oh, man, is it hard for me to cut back so much. Another part of me REALLY wants to do another round of Insanity!…but I know that it will interfere with my running. I might see if I can sneak a couple of days a week into my schedule as 2-a-day workouts just sound super tempting right now, but I also know that I need my rest. So we’ll see. I’ll play with my schedule a bit and see what I can do. This week will be a shift anyway since I’m racing on Tuesday.

Happy Monday, friends.