Sunday, September 26, 2010

Three Weeks Until Baltimore!

Three more weeks until my first marathon! Three more weeks of training, thinking about what to eat before, during, and after the race. I've decided what shoes to wear (Brooks Ghost) and my racing outfit is all picked out; Off n' Running top and some black and obscenely florescent yellow shorts with nice pockets.

This morning's run was amazing. I planned to do 14 miles at my average pace, but after the first two, that seemed a little boring. The temperature hovered around 65, it was cloudy, and there was even a breeze. I decided to add in five mile repeats at my half-marathon pace (8:50) @ 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11 miles. Well, that turned into 6 repeats (I added one at mile 13) at 8:00-8:30 pace. It was exhilarating. Even by the end the quicker pace didn't fatigue me and my recovery miles in between weren't slow. I finished with an average pace of 8:46, a little quicker than my best half pace.

I know this doesn't mean I should aim to run 26.2 at this morning's pace. This might have been one of those rare, perfect runs that happen with no warning and no promise of a repeat. Even if it was just a fluke, it felt great.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I don't know how far to run this weekend

After Saturday's triumphant 20-miler, I gave myself a few days to figure out a plan for the rest of the month. Well, today is Wednesday and I haven't a clue as to how far to go on my Sunday run. If I feel good, I guess I could attempt 22, but what if it ends badly? I wouldn't have time to redeem my running mojo before the race, and that might psyche me out in Baltimore. 14 Sunday is a tried-and-true distance, so maybe it's the best choice. I still have a few days to decide, but I do better if I can mentally plan for the weekend run. And if I do 14 instead of 22, can I still run longer week after next?

So, if you've done a marathon, how far was your longest run? How many weeks out did you do it? If you've never run 26.2, is there a particular number that has significance in your life that you think I should run? I'm very open to suggestions.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Twenty Miles!

As this post's title suggests, I ran twenty miles this morning!  It was so different from last week's attempt; even at the end of the run I felt good.  I made two major changes, so I don't know for sure which one helped.  I think maybe both of them did.

First off, I ate an drank a lot more during this run: 20 ounces of water, 16 ounces of Gatorade, 2 Hammer Gels (espresso) and 1 package of Honey Stinger Chews.  I guess I need a lot of calories when I run.

Also, this run wan't completely alone.  I ran 4 miles before meeting up with some friends (and speedsters) at 7:00.  Seeing the sun come up over Country Park was gorgeous.  I ran with the group for 12 miles and then ran 4 more on my own to finish up.  Saying that I ran with them for 12 miles is not entirely true; I ran about 200 feet behind the pack, catching up at water stops and when I cut one corner through a parking lot to dodge part of a hill.  Even watching the backsides of ten running buddies is better than running solo for three hours.
I haven't completely decided what to do for the three weeks left in my training.  Originally, last week was supposed to be 20 miles, this week a relatively short 14, and next week 22.  Since I did 20 today, should I do 22 next week without a week off, do 14 next week and 22 two weeks before the race, or skip the 22-miler altogether?  I wanted to have three weeks of taper before the race, running 10-14 mile long runs. Is two weeks of taper enough?  Is 20 miles really enough for a long run?  I know a lot of training plans max out at 20, but I've always been skeptical of leaving 6.2 miles to chance.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Weekday Runs and Next Weekend's Plan

I've run both Monday and Tuesday, which is unusual for me.  After Sunday', I knew I needed to up my weekly runs and work through my leg pain.  Sunday afternoon my legs and back were sore and I had a headache; Monday morning I couldn't imagine running but knew that it had to help.  Ideally I should run four times per week, but it's hard to fit that in.  The weeks when I have three short runs plus a long run, my body feels better and I'm not as tired.  I just need to remember that when I decide to put off a weekday run for a less-than-worthy reason.

Monday's trail run started off with 1/2 mile of sore knees.  I've never had sore knees before, so I promised myself I would stop running if it continued for more than five minutes.  They were completely better before the time ran out and the slowish, uneventful run relieved my muscle soreness.

Today's run was great.  I added in six 30-second speed intervals and my legs didn't hurt at all.  Tomorrow I have a meeting after school so will not run, but Thursday I plan to run the Guilford Woods again.  It's easy on my (apparently finicky) knees and very close to work.

Saturday was going to be a 14-mile run, but after last weekend's experience I'm going to try again for 20.  I'll eat and drink more along the way and might even get a little radio to listen to NPR along the way.  Car Talk should get me through at least an hour.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Twenty-Miler that Wasn't

This weekend I needed to run twenty miles.  I set monthly mileage totals and weekly long-run distances, and this week was my first-ever twenty mile run.  Running that far is a milestone; for many first-time marathoners, that's their longest training run before the big day.  I wanted it to go smoothly.  I wanted to have that experience.  I didn't make it, and I'm pretty disappointed.  Here is what I learned.

  1. I need to be physically rested for a long run.  This means that I cannot do anything unusual the day before.  Saturday, Jenn, James, and I worked a cross-country meet at Haganstone Park.  It was fun, the weather was perfect (and cool!) and I also stood for four hours in dead shoes, frequently squatting or bending down to retrieve shoes, receipts, and the occasional train engine.  Then this morning I left the house and did not discover until arriving at the parking lot that I had left my water bottle on the counter.  I drove back, got the bottle, and ended up starting about thirty minutes late and frazzled.
  2. I need to be mentally prepared for a long run.  This means that when I set the date and time, it cannot change.  Saturday at the meet the weather was so cool that I decided I'd run that afternoon instead of waiting until Sunday morning.  We got home, I got all gussied up in my new running shorts, and it started to rain.  So, I ate ice cream instead.  
  3. The Garmin can only tell me my pace, not if that pace is a good  choice.  This is the most important lesson for the day.  I started off at a good pace, but since I typically run negative splits (get continually faster as I go), the pace was too fast for such a long run.  I sped up, got tired, slowed down, sped up some more, etc.  That really threw me off.  I should have seen my first mile's pace and noticed that it was too fast; instead, I saw it and felt proud of something that I could not sustain over twenty miles.
  4. Dehydration and pew aerobics don't mix.  I got pretty close to passing out during the Prayers of the People.  I hadn't rehydrated well enough and I suddenly felt hot and saw pretty pink spots.  I sat down and got some water as soon as I felt steady, but yikes!  Good thing we were in the back of the church with all the other toddler parents.
So that's this week's long run.  I ran 18 miles and felt completely drained afterward, both physically and mentally.  It's not the run I planned, but it probably does have its place.  The last few miles were really difficult.  I had to push just to finish, and my body ached immediately.  I was at my limit.  Lately that hasn't been the case, so there's value in the challenge.  Right?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Running on School Days

When Guilford College had a pool, I used to swim one or two days a week during lunch as part of my training. I love swimming even though I'm a pretty bad swimmer. Alas, Guilford cemented over the pool last summer to improve their cardio and weight room. The new, improved facility is bigger and better, but as one of the few people who used the pool, I miss it.

Why would a runner miss a pool? The most important reason is that I turn bright red and sweat buckets when I run, even on a treadmill, even on a slow jog. Not only is it highly unattractive, but it is not conducive to a lunch-hour workout at all. The pool, on the other hand, cooled me off and had a shower right next door. It was the perfect way for me to exercise on a school day.

I run after school a few days a week now, but it's not ideal. The last month has been so hot, and 4:00 is just about the hottest part of the day. I run in the Guilford Woods most of the time because it's beautiful and a little cooler (and because I prefer to not run on my students' bus route as they head home in the afternoon). From my classroom to the trail and back ends up being 2.5 miles. When I don't feel pressed for time (which is rare during the week) I do the 1.5-mile trail loop twice, giving me 4 miles in all. The important thing right now is to get those weekday miles in; if I don't there's no way I'll be ready for the race. I can't train doing just long runs! In a few short weeks 4:00 will be cooler, the air will be drier, and there will be a breeze. I can't wait!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

14-Miler and "The Plan"

Today I had company for my 14-mile run! Most of my long runs are solo because I start very early (6:00 or sun-up, whichever is later) and often have to run on Sunday morning because of other obligations. This morning, however, I met up with my buddies for 14 miles; actually, they ran 16 so we parted ways at mile 12, but that's 12 miles of conversation, jokes, and sharing in the misery of a hilly course. The weather has cooled off a bit in the last few days, and we had multiple water and Gatorade breaks. Fantastic!

I decided not to follow a pre-made plan for my marathon training due to several factors. First, I don't run as often as most plans require. I don't have the time or a safe place to run from my house. This week I only ran once during the week! Also, as a teacher I knew that a lot of my training would happen over the summer. I added miles months earlier than many plans require. Most importantly, I can be a little fanatical when it comes to following a plan. If I have to miss a run that's already on the calendar I feel like I've somehow failed. Yes, I know this isn't actually failure, but that's where my brain goes.

So instead of following a plan, I've set monthly mileage goals and weekly long run requirements. I've kept this up since July and it's worked well. In July, I had to run (or elliptical, but that's another story altogether) 100 miles. For August and September, the goal is 120 miles per month. I made it for August, but just barely. September's off to a better start. October's goal is 100 miles, and the race is Saturday, October 16.

For long runs, I add two miles every other week. On the off weeks, I run 12 or 14. This means that next week I'll run 20, and two weeks after that I'll run 22. I haven't decided if I'll make it all the way to 24 or not. At this point I doubt it.

This unconventional training plan has worked so far; I'm injury-free and the long runs haven't killed me or my desire to run. I don't know if I'll finish the race in under four hours, but it's my goal!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Saturday's Long Run

Here's what I did Saturday. This was my first 18-miler ever, and it went well. This weekend I'm planning to run 14 or so, and it will be with friends. Yay!

Why a blog?

I started running in high school because of the wonderful women at InsideOut gym in Memphis, TN. Running began as one-third of triathlon training, but it became indispensable in college and beyond. I luckily found OffnRunning soon after graduating from college. It's been my running home for years.

I ran my first half-marathon in 2005 with my dad. Since then I've run a lot of half-marathons, but this year I'm doing my first 26.2. I've signed up for the Baltimore Marathon on Saturday, October 16.

My goal in starting this blog is to motivate myself (and maybe others) to finish this marathon and then set and reach some new goals. I probably won't qualify for Boston this time around, but I WILL get there eventually.

Happy running, y'all!