Goals for #ChiTown 2014

ChiTrainingPlan

Sub-4:00 training plan from runnersworld.com.

I feel like I’ve been thinking about a fall marathon since January. Actually, I know I have. It’s always funny to me that after finishing one race, I immediately start thinking about the next. It happened to me when I crossed the finish at my first marathon at Big Sur last year and it happened to me after Marine Corps in October.

But I needed a mental break from marathon training. I wanted to take the spring off to try to get faster by running half marathons and shorter distances. My plan almost worked and I definitely got faster, but more than that, my mental vacation was just what I needed to get excited about training for a marathon again. And, man, am I excited for Chicago!

Now, here I am, with about a month to go before training starts and I’m already setting my goals. It might seem a bit early but most of my goals for Chicago are more “habit changers” than race goals. I won’t really know my race goals until closer to October 12, but I do know there are some changes I want to make to the way I train this time around that need to be set in place before training even begins.

  1. Sub-4:00 – Ok, so here’s my one “race goal” so far. I want to cross the finish at Chicago with a 3:xx:xx on my watch. Right now I have no idea what the xx:xx part of that time is going to be, I just want to see a 3 at the beginning. My current PR is 4:07:06 which I set a Marine Corps (26 minutes faster than my first marathon) and I’ve made leaps and bounds in terms of fitness and speed since then so we’ll see what I can do in the next 20 weeks.
  2. Become a morning workout person – This is going to be crucial for training during the warm and humid summer months. I’m lucky enough to be able to run during lunch at work but during the summer a lunch run can feel more like a burden than a blessing. I’d like to try to run before work at least two times a week. This is not going to be easy because I relish the fact that I can sleep in until 7 a.m. but I need to make it happen.
  3. Stop doing so many doubles – In past training cycles I’ve broken up many of my workouts in an effort to get the miles in. For example, if my training plan says “Run 9 miles with 6×800″ I’ll probably run the 6×800 with a 1-mile warmup and cooldown during lunch and then finish up the mileage after work. This is ok every now and then but you really don’t get the benefits of the full workout. I mainly do this because I’m not speedy enough to run 9 miles during lunch but I’m hoping that by trying to get these runs done before work I’ll be able to get the whole workout in.
  4. Incorporate strength training at least three times a week – Over the winter I’ve gotten into the habit of adding more strength training into my weekly schedule. Before my races this spring I was doing IronStrength on Mondays and another strength workout on Fridays. I want to add in another mini strength workout on Wednesdays as well. Jess from Race Pace Jess made an awesome “mini workout” to add into an already packed training schedule so I’m going to try to do that.
  5. Nail down my nutrition - I need to take better note of what I’m eating pre-run and how I recover post-run. I am usually pretty good with my nutrition but I think I could get a little better and really figure out what works for me and what doesn’t.
  6. Be able to run/wear these shorts in public and not be self-conscious about it.  - I have these bootay shorts and they are meant for running but I only ever wear them around my apartment. For some reason I’m self-conscious about wearing them in public or going running in them, which is silly. So, in training for #ChiTown I want to gain enough confidence to be able to rock the spandex on a run without stressing about my butt falling out. This is my silly-but-important goal.

What kind of goals do you like to set for marathon training? Tell me about ‘em in the comments below!

Making the Smart Decision (For Once)

Plan BI used to pride myself on having a high tolerance for pain. I’ve been lucky to have only a few minor running injuries in the two years since I started, like IT Band Syndrome, Runner’s Knee, some possible Plantar, but nothing major.

That is until three weeks ago when I started having chest pains 8 miles into my spring goal race. The pains passed, I was able to finish the race, but I missed my goal of setting a PR and none of my runs have felt the same since. My easy runs have felt harder than they should, and my race pace runs have felt really tough – I’ve been walking, a lot.

I would be kidding myself if I said I was in shape to hit my goal PR this weekend at the Brooklyn Half Marathon. I’d also be kidding myself if I said I wasn’t scared those chest pains would return mid-race. The truth of the matter is I’ve been really disappointed in my running since the race three weeks ago and honestly I’ve lost some of that confidence I gained over the past few months of training.

I’m not 100 percent and I know if I decided to race at Brooklyn this weekend, my heart wouldn’t truly be in it (no pun intended). So I’m not going to run. It sucks. A part of me thinks taking the DNS (did not start) is the easy way out but a bigger part of me knows this is the smart decision, both physically and mentally.

I have a doctor’s appointment scheduled so I can figure out what’s up and hopefully get the all clear. I’m just going to take this time to refocus, try to get healthy, and regain some of that running confidence in time to start training for my fall goal – The Chicago Marathon.

Have you ever taken a DNS for a race? How did you deal with it?

Enough with Cat Calling Female Runners

(Source: Pinterest)

(Source: Pinterest)

Yesterday, I was nearing the end of my final tempo mile along a busy-ish road near work when all of a sudden a massive tractor-trailer honked his horn at me… four times.

I was so startled from the noise of the honking, and the fact that I was in the middle of a very fast-for-me mile, that I stopped dead in my tracks. Instead of catching my breathe and calming down, I turned to the truck and flipped him the bird with not one, but both of my hands.

I know, bad behavior shouldn’t illicit more bad behavior but I’ve had enough. And I’m not the only one. This week alone, I have been honked at five times during a run by guys driving by. Scores of women runners, of all shapes and sizes, have had moments like this. You’re running along, minding your own business, when a dude driving by beeps his horn at you, and whistles out his window, or says some other obscenities.

It happens to me almost every time I go for a run by myself. It happens when I go out running with a friend. It even happened once when I was doing a hill workout with my boyfriend who was about a half-mile ahead of me. No matter the time of day, year, or what I’m wearing I get beeped or cat called at.

A writer over at Competitor wrote a story about this today, which prompted me to write my own. Another writer friend wrote a post about it for Philly.com and told me that after she published her piece she actually got HATE emails from men (and women too!) defending these actions. What the hell, people?

Besides it being annoying and interrupting my otherwise killer tempo run, I wondered, what did that disgusting trucker think he was going to get out of that? He wasn’t turning me on. I wasn’t flattered. I was pissed off.

Like the author of the Competitor piece, all I wanted to do was get my tempo miles done, cool down, and go back to the office for lunch. Instead my run was interrupted because some trucker decided I looked good enough during my run to honk at. Unfortunately, I don’t have a solution for the problem, and I don’t have much faith in the changing the men who tend to cat call, but we need to make it clear that it’s not a compliment and it’s not OK.

7 Lessons I’ve Learned from Training for a Time Goal

(Source: Pinterest)

(Source: Pinterest)

This winter/spring my focus was to train to run a half marathon PR. The PR didn’t happen (yet) because of a weird fluke but I have another half coming up next weekend. I’ve never really trained hard for a half (besides the first one I ever ran) but my main reason for training with a time goal in mind was to help capitalize on some of the speed I’ve been developing. I figured, if I try to train for a maybe-just-out-of-reach time goal, it will force me to get faster.

Well, I have definitely been getting faster but it hasn’t been easy – and it shouldn’t. I’ve learned a lot so far and I’m sure I’ll continue to learn more but I thought I would share a few of my lessons here.

  1. It’s important to take easy days easy. Doing 2-3 speed workouts a week means you NEED the easy days for recovery, so don’t push the pace- it’s a recipe for injury and exhaustion.
  2. Do the pre-hab. Foam roll. Stretch after running. Hydrate. Compress. Ice (if needed). Doing these seemingly menial tasks will add up in the end.
  3. Don’t ignore the little aches and pains. I’ve had a few minor injuries during this training cycle and instead of being stubborn and “sticking to the plan” I’ve backed off and traded easy days for recovery rides or workouts for an easy run.
  4. Be flexible. This is so, so, so important. I am a type A runner (and person) and like to follow a plan to the T. But you know what? Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Sometimes life gets in the way. Sometimes you get those little aches and pains. Sometimes you’re just not feeling it. But that’s OKAY. Be flexible and don’t fret about a missed run here and there.
  5. Strength train. This is something many of us runners forget. It also can be controversial since there’s one camp that believes strength training can hurt your running performance and another camp that thinks strength training can prevent you from getting hurt. I’m in the pro-strength training camp because I think stronger muscles, and varying your exercises, can make you a more dynamic athlete overall. Plus, we all love to have vanity abs, am I right?
  6. Mix it up and run with a group. I’ve been going on group runs with my local running store a lot more during this training cycle than I have in the past and I’ve been loving it. Running with different people helps to keep training interesting and it’s awesome to have the support of others.
  7. BUT, don’t be afraid to run alone. I’ve made the mistake this training cycle of sometimes running with speedier runners on days that were supposed to be easy and I get stuck in that medium-hard pace. Running alone sometimes helps me keep my pace in check.

Do you have any tips to add to this list? Let me know!

{Race Recap} St. Luke’s Half Marathon

On Sunday, while running the St. Luke’s Half Marathon (one of my goal races this spring), I almost had my first DNF.

The week leading up to the half was a bit hectic but I woke up on race morning feeling really good despite being filled with pre-race nerves. My legs felt rested. I wasn’t sleepy or exhausted. I felt ready to go after a sub-1:50 finish at the race.

Prerace photo with Team St. Luke's. (Photo credit: St. Luke's University Health Network FB page)

Prerace photo with Team St. Luke’s. (Photo credit: St. Luke’s University Health Network FB page)

We got to the start in time to take a team picture with Team St. Luke’s (since Adam works at the hospital) and had enough time to see our friends, take care of all the prerace necessities and get into the corrals. I had decided I would run with the pacer to at least the halfway point to try to keep my pace controlled. I found him in the corral and was happy to see one of my coworkers (who went on to absolutely crush his previous PR) in the pace group too.

We were aiming to average 8:24/mile for the race. The first few miles were a little quicker but I was actually shocked at how good I felt. Everyone had been telling me all week that I would crush the 1:50 time goal but as always self-doubt sunk in. However, after we ticked off about 6 miles around 8:17/mile I was surprised to find that my legs still felt fresh.

Around 6.5 miles into the race, the pacer told us, if we were feeling good, now would be the time to pick it up to get closer to 1:45. I decided at this point to not necessarily pick up my pace but to try to keep the pace group behind me. Just stay ahead of them and keep at a comfortably hard pace.

I managed to do this until mile 8 when everything suddenly fell apart. My legs still felt great and my energy was up but all of a sudden I started to experience a sharp pain in my chest and tightness. My heart rate was racing and my breathing was becoming increasingly labored.

This had never happened to me before. I mean, in speed workouts I’ve had some difficulty breathing but I’ve always just assumed that was because I was pushing myself. Never had I experienced the tightness in my chest or sharp pains. I decided at this point to stop and walk a little to try to get my heart rate down. After walking about 10 meters or so I started running again but much slower.

I walked once more during this mile up a hill and saw mile 8 tick off at 9:42/mile. There goes my sub-1:50 I thought. A man wearing an orange shirt ran up behind me and tried to give me words of encouragement, “Come one, you’ve got this,” he said. So I tried to pick up the pace again and work the downhills to see if I could at least get close to my goal. Just after passing the man who was trying to cheer me on my heart rate jacked up again. I started to walk and a volunteer asked me if I was ok. I really, really wanted to quit at this point. I was fighting back tears when orange-shirt-man passed me again and I decided to take some water and just try to finish.

I don’t remember how many more times I walked the rest of the race but it was a lot. There are a lot of hills in the last miles of this course and I wasn’t prepared for them. I came up the final hill right before entering the high school stadium where you run about 200 meters around the track before finishing and I saw Adam there cheering me on but I’m pretty sure my face said it all.

Usually in races I can give a good final surge into the finish but I just didn’t have it in me on Sunday. I came through the finish in 1:53:32, met Adam, and just wanted to sit down and cry in the bleachers. I felt so defeated and pissed off that something so out of my control had ruined my race.

It wasn’t until later on that I really was able to put it into perspective. My dad has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, “a disease in which the heart muscle (myocardium) becomes abnormally thick (hypertrophied). The thickened heart muscle can make it harder for the heart to pump blood,” according to the Mayo Clinic. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is also the leading cause of sudden cardiac arrest in young athletes – it’s no joke. When I told my parents what happened they were pretty concerned. I haven’t gone to see a doctor yet but hopefully I don’t have my dad’s condition and it was just a fluke thing that happened.

Either way it was a scary experience and it made me realize that no matter how hard you train, sometimes the outcome is completely out of your control. I think I did the right thing on Sunday by reining it in but in all honesty it probably would have been smarter to take the DNF and get checked out at the medical tent immediately.

Besides my awful race, it was a great day overall. Adam ran the half (just six days after PRing in Boston!) and set a new half marathon PR. We also saw three of our friends run their first ever half marathon, which was really exciting. Other friends and coworkers set some really awesome PRs as well and I’m so happy for them! I’ll take another stab at running a sub-1:50 in three weeks at the Brooklyn Half Marathon. Hopefully it’ll go better!

Celebrating with friends postrace.

Celebrating with friends postrace.

St. Luke’s Half Training: Weeks Nine and Ten

Celebrating post-marathon at Fenway!

Celebrating post-marathon at Fenway!

I’ve been majorly slacking on posting my workouts the past two weeks because I’ve been traveling for work. We all went up to Boston this past weekend to cover the marathon and it was an incredible day. The day was made even more incredible by my boyfriend who ran a 2:56:02 (p.s. this was his first Boston and just his third marathon)! I am so incredibly proud! Anyway, it’s now race week for me and although my goals have changed a bit I’m really hoping to run sub-1:50 at the half marathon this weekend. I had two really good workouts in the last two weeks so I’m hoping I can ride that post-workout confidence into race day.

Monday, April 14 - 45:00 of Vinyasa Flow Yoga

Tuesday, April 15 - 5 miles with 3 miles at HMP

I felt really, really good on this run tonight. The weather was kinda crazy today so I opted to run on the treadmill instead of outside. I felt like I could run forever at my goal HMP which is a really good feeling and hopefully means I’ll do well at the half in two weeks!

Plan: 5 miles with 3 miles at goal half marathon pace (8:13/mile)
Actual: 5 miles with 3 miles at 8:06-8:13/mile

Shoes: Saucony Mirage 3

Wednesday, April 16 – 6 mile, easy

It was so much colder outside today than it has been but it doesn’t look like the cold is going to stick around for too long. I just had to do an easy 6 today. Felt pretty good.

Plan: 6 miles, easy (9:06/mile)
Actual: 6 miles in 53:17 at 8:52/mile

Shoes: Saucony Mirage 3
Conditions: 43 degrees, sunny, gusty wind

Thursday, April 17 - REST

Unexpected rest day due to traveling up to Boston.

Friday, April 18 - Hill Workout with November Project in the a.m. + Shakeout run in the p.m.

Did the Summit Hill Ave hill workout (and stairs) with the November Project… so awesome! Then in the evening I went to the RW Heartbreak Hill Half shakeout run.

Total: 4.5 miles

Shoes: Saucony Mirage 4

Saturday, April 19 – B.A.A. 5K (5 miles total for the day)

Not a PR due to really packed crowds (hello, 10,000 runners!) but had a ton of run!

Time: 25:37

(Plus 1-mile warmup and 1-mile cool down walk)

Sunday, April 20 – 10 miles, LSD

I got to run around my hometown which is always fun!

Actual: 9.58 miles in 1:27:00 at 9:04/mile

Shoes: Saucony Mirage 4

Week 10

Monday, April 21 - Boston Marathon Monday!

I didn’t run because I was working and obsessively checking the runner tracking to follow my boyfriend!

Tuesday, April 22 - REST

Another unexpected rest day due to travel/life. But Adam and I did take about a 1-mile walk around my neighborhood before heading back to PA.

Wednesday, April 23 – 4 miles, easy

It was CRAZY windy out today, which seems to be a pattern lately, so I was glad to have just 4 easy miles.

Plan: 4 miles, easy (9:18/mile)

Actual: 4 miles in 33:51 at 8:27/mile

Shoes: Saucony Mirage 4

Thursday, April 24 - 5 miles with 4×800 

It was a nice day out today but the wind was terrible. This is my last workout before the St. Luke’s Half Marathon on Sunday and my 800 times left me feeling pretty confident.

Plan: 5 miles with 4×800 at 3:36
Actual:
1-mile warm up at 7:56/mile (What?? Yes, that’s right.)
4×800 with 400 recovery jog
(1) 3:26.6 – 7:02/pace
(2) 3:28.2 – 7:05/pace
(3) 3:27.5 – 6:55/pace
(4) 3:18.7 – 6:46/pace
1-mile cool down at 8:28/mile

Shoes: Saucony Fastwitch 6
Conditions: 52 degrees, sunny, 15mph winds with gusts of 35mph

Friday, April 25 - 4 miles, easy

Last training run before the St. Luke’s Half on Sunday! I ran it a little too fast but it was really gorgeous out. Feeling good for Sunday, now it’s time to rest.

Plan: 4 miles easy
Actual: 4.12 miles in 33:51 (8:12/mile)

Shoes: Saucony Mirage 4
Conditions: 60 degrees, sunny

See all training recaps here.

St. Luke’s Half Training: Week Eight + 2014 Chicago Marathon

ChicagoScreen Shot 2014-04-14 at 2.08.14 PMTraining last week went really well. I ran my tempo faster than planned and it felt incredible. Also, on Monday I found out I was accepted into the 2014 Chicago Marathon through the lottery! I’m really excited to start training for another marathon. I think the break from marathon training was just what I needed to spark that 26.2-mile fire again. Training starts June 23rd!

Monday, April 7 - 45:00 of Vinyasa Flow Yoga

Tuesday, April 8 - 6 miles, easy

Well it was quite a windy one out there today! I felt pretty good but the wind was rough. At one point I nearly lost my hat and fell over. I ran solo today during the lunch run which was really what I needed.

Plan: 6 miles, easy (9:12/mile)
Actual: 6 miles in 51:12 at 8:32/mile

Shoes: Saucony Mirage 3
Conditions: 59 degrees, overcast and windy

Wednesday, April 9 – 6 mile, easy

I took it a little easier today and ran on the trails by work. It was really nice to mix up my terrain and I hadn’t been on the trails in a long time.

Plan: 6 miles, easy (9:12/mile)
Actual: 6 miles in 52:00 at 8:45/mile

Shoes: Saucony Mirage 3
Conditions: 58, sunny and windy

Thursday, April 10 - 6 miles with 3 miles at tempo

So I’m not the best at pacing temp runs. I was a little all over the place with this one but it felt AMAZING to run fast (much faster than tempo, too!).

Plan: 6 miles with 3 miles at tempo (7:45/mile)
Actual: 6 miles in 46:50 (7:48/mile avg)
1-mile warmup: 8:40
Tempo: (1) 7:16 (2) 7:33 (3) 7:32
1-mile cool down: 8:20

Shoes: Saucony Kinvara 4
Conditions: BEAUTIFUL

Friday, April 11 - 40:00 strength training

Arms- 3×10 
Rotating overhead press with 10lb dumbbells 
Rows with 15lb dumbbells 
Tricep pulls with 15lb dumbbells 
21′s with 8lb dumbbells 
Legs- 
3×10 
Kettlebell swings 
Kettlebell squats 
Clam shells 
Abs- 2x 
0:45 plank 
0:30 side plank 
0:45 supine plank 
0:45 bicycles 
10 Russian twists with kettlebell

Saturday, April 12 – 6 miles, easy

I ran twice today because I had a 5K fun run at night. My morning run was much speedier than “easy” but it felt easy so who cares, right?!

Sunday, April 13 – 12 miles, LSD

I ran earlier in the morning than I had planned but I’m so happy I did because it got pretty toasty during the day. The run went really well, it was actually the best I’ve felt in a long time.

Actual: 12.2 miles in 1:48:00 at 8:51/mile

Shoes: Asics Gel Flux
Conditions: 65 degrees, humid and sunny

Weekly Mileage Total: 36 miles

See all training recaps here.

 

{Monday Motivation} The Marathon

I can’t believe Marathon Monday is already a week away. It certainly doesn’t feel like an entire years has passed since I spent 9+ hours in the press room following the horrific tragedy at the finish line. I still can’t really put into words how I feel about what happened that day. I joke that it feels like I’m giving an elevator speech every time I talk about it. But what I do know is that next Monday will be a great day for a race. It will be a great day for healing. And, it will be a great day for Boston. I want to wish the very best of luck to everyone in their final week of training (and tapering). I’m sending positive and calming vibes your way! Watch A Marathon