Week 3 + Being Unbeatable

It’s Week 3 of marathon training and things are rolling along nicely.  I’m feeling good after two weeks of increasing mileage and have two more to go before a down week.  One thing about this year’s most ambitious training plan yet is that I’m tying it to my Unbeatable Mind training.  While I am far from unbeatable yet, I am seeing and feeling some big differences from how I felt last year early on.unbeatable

Even with more miles on the calendar each week I’m more relaxed and flexible about what’s coming my way.  I’ll get the miles on the treadmill if I have to, in the middle of the night if I have to and at the end of the day, it’s all going to be fine.  Unless, of course, I get injured.

Which I might be on my way to but hopefully not.  I’ve had some funkiness going on with my right ankle or glute or Achilles that I warm up out of some days.  It’s definitely muscular and I’m trying different things to see what shakes it out the fastest.  Extra glute activation during my warm up, extra stretching of the calves and sometimes just loosening my shoe lace for a minute all help.  I’m making a big effort to listen to my body and figure out what it needs.

That’s how I can tell my Unbeatable training is making a difference.  I’m not freaking out.  There’s no desperate search for a quick fix.  I have a long way to go in both marathon training and mind training.  I’ll get to the finish but I want to be injury free when I arrive.  For now I’ll pay close attention to what works best to get me going on each run and stick with it.

Meredith

Do you ever over reacted to or ignored to a potential injury and what helps you be Unbeatable?

North End Run Club + Week 2

It’s Week 2 of One City Marathon training and I’m loving it.  Of course, I haven’t had a big mileage week or a 20 miler yet…  I do have 45 this week, however, that are going well so far.  I’ve done a few easy easy runs, one tough set of 400M repeats and some cross training in the gym.  It feels good to be back on plan with structure for every workout.  When I’m just winging it to stay in shape, it’s easy to get in a rut.  Giving each workout a purpose prevents that completely for me.

One purpose of some workouts is to rack those aforementioned miles up.  The issue with having all these miles to run, though, is that I’m always looking for a buddy.  The North End Run Club has been going on since late summer but because of my training, working and north end run clubEquiKids schedule, I wasn’t able to attend their Tuesday evening runs.  Until now, that is.  It’s a new session at the barn and my schedule is different.  That makes the North End Run Club weekly outing much more accessible for me.

The size of the group varies week to week but there’s a great core of North End Run Club-ers who come out every week.  There’s also an early Wednesday morning run at a nearby park that’s partnered with November Project but I unfortunately have clients at that time.

I’m ready for the challenge my most ambitious plan brings with it and really looking forward to spending more time with the other runners of North End Run Club as my mileage demands increase.  It starts with Week 3 bumping up to 50 miles for two weeks before a recovery week over the Christmas holiday.

Meredith

Do you run with any groups?  What do you like best about it?

Marathon Training Has Begun

Marathon training officially started Monday with an easy 20 minute treadmill run.  Way to kick it off strong, I know.  I took things easy after racing a 5k over the weekend and figured there are plenty of miles to come, why rush.  This week features a total of 40 miles with 35 of them at an marathon trainingeasy pace.  I’m enjoying the easy running and hope it stays that way as my mileage increases and the weather deteriorates.

After Monday’s easy treadmill session, I dove in Tuesday.  A Crossfit workout in the morning, an hour biking with a member of Team ECRP, biking to take care of some errands and a seven mile night jog.  Wednesday was a nice easy six mile run and yesterday I kept racking up the miles with 5 easy miles and 5 at marathon pace.  Had to earn that Thanksgiving food somehow!

My 16 week plan has me ramping up the miles to peak at 60 per week in January and I am not in a rush to get there.  Last year I had fueling troubles and over training issues that I’ll be avoiding this time around.  Easing into higher mileage is a great opportunity to make sure I’m getting the calories I need.   After 6 weeks of base building, I’ll step things up with more intense miles for the second half.  Because my taper got thrown out of whack due to my overzealous number of 20 milers last year, I’m making sure to do it right this time.  My first three week taper into March’s One City Marathon is sure to drive me nuts.  I’m looking forward to it!

I’m excited to see where I can go with this more ambitious plan.  As of right now, a BQ time is definitely reachable and my goal will be 3:28-3:30.  Hopefully the winter weather cooperates and my training goes as planned.

Meredith

How do you kick off marathon training?  How many miles do you peak with?

 

2016 Norfolk Harbor 5k

Even though this was technically the third time I’ve run this event, it was the first time it was monikered Norfolk Harbor 5k instead of Harbor Lights 5k.  I paced the half marathon in its inaugural year then finished third female overall at the 5k in 2015.

My last race of 2016 and the end of my between training cycle down time, I knew my performance wouldn’t be as fast as last year.  I was OK with that and just wanted to get out there and have some serious fun before the long miles of marathon training took over my schedule for sixteen weeks.  That’s exactly what I did.norfolk harbor 5k

The morning was cool with a little wind that was barely noticeable once you were between the city’s buildings.  I felt OK warming up and shed a layer before the start.  I lined up right in front to avoid traffic at the beginning.  We went off right on time and I focused on running my own race instead of getting caught up with the faster runners around me.  Mile 1 featured a few turns and a tiny climb (6:54).  During Mile 2 I passed a lot of runners but knew I was still sitting 7th or 8th female.  One woman was within striking distance and I planned on going after her with 1k left.  I wanted to run an even effort but weaving through the city made it hard.  Especially the two sections we traversed some cobblestones.  Mile 2 clocked in at 7:00.

Another very sharp turn slowed me down with 800M to go but I was able to move up the spot I planned on.  More twists and turns (see braking/norfolk harbor 5kheel strike) kept my pace a bit slower than it could have been but I finished decently with Mile 3 at 6:56.  The final 200M were straight and fast.  I crossed the line at 21:50/3.16, winning my age group as 6th overall female.

Through the chute I picked up a bottled opener medal, banana, bottled water, chips and Norfolk Harbor 5k mason jar.  My legs felt good as I cheered Team ECRP runners on and enjoyed my complimentary stew and beer.  As always, J&A Racing put on a stellar event with great swag and a kicking after party. 

Meredith

What makes a good race in your book?  Swag?  Course?  Free photos?

Ready for Marathon Training

I am ready for marathon training to start next week.  It’s been a while since I’ve run lots of miles or worked really hard more than once in a week.  For the first time in a long time I’m looking forward to tired legs that I know are getting marathon trainingstronger.  Since my goal race debacle training has been inconsistent and actually stressful.  At the moment I almost feel a little taper crazy and I haven’t even been tapering!

So let’s bring on the miles.  I want to go for a run when I feel like it, not make myself stay put because I’m on a breather week or looking to hit a 5k hard this weekend (which I am).  I miss just going out and doing something.  Maybe it’s a run, 50 box jumps or an extra leg added to my bike commute but I’ve been keeping myself away from those things and it’s starting to be a bummer.  Logging lots of easy miles and having fun will be the priority for my first few weeks. 

The marathon training plan I’ve laid out is more flexible than last year but also more ambitious.  My peak weekly marathon trainingmileage is higher than last year’s at around 65.  I’ll also be focusing more on taking my recovery runs at a slower pace and making sure my important workouts each week are very high quality.

This down time craziness wraps up with the Norfolk Harbor 5k tomorrow.  I was third overall female last year but with my lack of concentration lately have no idea how it’s going to go this time around.  It will be fun knowing marathon things kick off Monday with a 40 mile week.  I can’t wait to be on a predictable marathon training schedule again!

Meredith

Do you get excited for marathon training?  What’s your favorite part?

3 Things I’m Loving Right Now

Tuesday isn’t the usual day for Favorites but who’s counting?  I’m loving these three things right now and got a little Monday excited to share.  Here they are!

Shoes.  I picked up a pair of Saucony Zealot ISO 2s last month and am really liking them right right nownow.  It took a few miles to adjust to all of the cushioning.  At first I felt like my gait was a little funky and the shoes themselves were a little clunky or heavy.  I definitely lose some feel of the ground in them but the comfort level is a nice trade off.

The cushioning makes them a great long run shoe while the 4mm drop doesn’t take away from the amount of work my legs have to do.  Winning!  I don’t think I’ll race in them since they’re so heavy but I do right nowlook forward to continuing to train in them.

Games.  I’m a nerd.  I Lumosity regularly and have a daily Sudoku calendar.  Yes, I even let a week pile up then complete them.  That said, I was excited to find this oldie when I went to clean out a closet.  A present from Mom and Dad way too long ago, I’ve toted it around for years.  I’m excited to be back working at it.  Rush Hour presents a tactile brain challenge that doesn’t force me to stare right nowat a computer screen.  Perfect.

Fitness.  With marathon training kicking off next week, I’m ready to be back in the gym.  That sounds backwards doesn’t it?  I like the challenge of Crossfit as a compliment to my running and enjoy the workouts.  I am careful to not let my strength training have a negative effect on my important runs.  That’s why I avoided this one.  Even though I didn’t participate in the super hard WOD, it felt great to be back with my friends for the EOD 131 Memorial Workout Saturday.  Bring on the cleans and burpees!

Meredith

What are you loving right now?  Any new shoes or workouts?

Monumental Half Marathon

This weekend I checked off State #24 by finishing the Monumental Half Marathon.  With no idea how my run would go, I went out to have fun and check in on my fitness.  I arrived Thursday to hit the expo, explored the city Friday and was ready to go by Saturday morning.

Monumental Half Marathon race morning was crisp and clear if a little chilly at the start.  Since my hotel was only about a half mile from the Start/Finish area, I skipped gear check and lined up next to my corral after a one mile warm up.  I say ‘next to my corral’ because I was.  They were extremely crowded and I couldn’t get inside the fence until the runners in front of me started moving forward.

That traffic continued for a little more than the first mile.  I was seeded in Corral B, 1:45 and under expected finish times but found that at 1:38 pace I was passing an awful lot of people very quickly.  Including walkers and joggers.  Hopefully there will be bigger divisions or more corrals to eliminate this in following years.  Several other runners and I spent time running on monumental half marathonsidewalks until the roads opened up after the Mile 2 marker.

There was no timing mat at 5k (22:40) but I felt OK.  My pace had been all over the place due to the traffic and I still had no rhythm.  My legs and lungs felt good with a finally steady pace after a quick walk for water at Mile 7.  Shortly after that my calves starting getting grumpy.  I’ve been spending a lot of time working on stretching both them and my Achilles and I think the longer fibers aren’t strong enough to handle that much work for over 90 minutes yet.

With chatty calves I came through another water stop just past Mile 10 in about 1:15 and I set my goal to come in under 1:40.  I needed those two minutes of breathing room with less than 5k to go when I took a break to shake my calves out.  The last three miles I tried to slow my pace down.  Unfortunately, I was stuck in a move fast groove.  I took a final calf shake out walk at the Mile 11 mark.  An easy jog through that mile lead to a strong Mile 12.  I crossed the finish in 1:39.49/13.2 with very touchy calves.

I was happy with my race and to learn my fitness is still solid.  My walk was a bit ginger while picking up my medal, bottled water, chocolate milk, a new cap and lots of snacks.  The morning had turned out perfectly for my short cruise back to the hotel.  The Monumental Half Marathon was a great experience.  It’s a flat and fast course with good organization, course support and swag.

Meredith

How many states have you run in?  What’s the next one?

Jared Ward’s Olympic Advice

Last night I had the opportunity to meet and listen to Jared Ward.  Not only is he an incredibly kind and intelligent person, he finished sixth in the marathon at Rio 2016.  Known as the fastest mustache in the marathon, Ward won the 2015 US Marathon Championships in 2:12.56.  Jared Ward

Always eager to learn everything I can, I was excited to discover he would he doing a meet/greet and Q&A at the Monumental Expo.  These are some of the highlights from the 90 minutes he spoke to us and Jared Ward’s paraphrased thoughts on:

Your first marathon:  Spend time on your feet.  Ward suggests cross training on a elliptical or bike “if additional running is pounding your legs.”  He emphasized building up your mileage and developing aerobic fitness as marathon readiness tool number one.

Handling Heat and Humidity:
Train your stomach.  “It’s a muscle, too,” he says, and can be taught to handle the additional fluid you’ll need.  Practice during training runs by downing 3-4 ounces of fluid instead of the usual 2.

Fueling a long run, marathon, ultra or anything really:
Find what works and stick with it.  Try different varieties of gels, blocks and fluids until you figure out what sits well in your stomach and isn’t a distraction. 

Cross training:
When he was looking for something to do, a friend suggested Jared Ward join him in the mountains of Utah, where he lives and trains, for a mountain bike ride.  Just as they were about to take off, Ward was told that after the ride he wouldn’t want to run anymore.  He “still loves running” but has found mountain biking to be his favorite alternative.  He “hate[s] swimming” and believes everyone should find what works best for them.

Easy Runs:
Ward emphasized the importance of making easy runs just that, easy.  Keep the pace casual and focus on making sure the time on your feet runs “don’t interfere with your next workout.” 

If you ever have the chance to meet the muschtached mathematician marathoner, grab it.

Meredith

Have you ever met any of your running heroes?  Which ones?

Mutt Masquerade 5k + Volunteering

This past weekend was filled with racing.  Volunteering at a race, running a race and getting ready for a race.  Friday I spent the afternoon volunteering at the Wicked 10k expo, Saturday I completed my last long-ish run before the Monumental Half and Sunday I raced the Mutt Masquerade 5k.

I wrote about the value of pitching in a mutt masqueradehelping at a race last week.  My time at the expo Friday did not disappoint.  Stationed at t-shirt exchange I saw tons of friends, met new runners and, since the shirts ran small, helped lots of people out.  Here I am hanging out with some of my good friends who are J&A Racing Ambassadors.

Saturday morning I ran my last big workout before I tackle state #24, Indiana.  The Monumental Half is a fast and flat course I’m feeling halfway prepared for.  I’m not in peak shape by any means but my legs are feeling good.  My last two long workouts were both very good and I’m looking forward to a solid performance.

Sunday morning the whole house packed up to hit the boardwalk for Virginia Beach SPCA’s Mutt Masquerade.  A morning filled with adorable dressed up dogs and lots of sunshine, it was lots of fun.  My legs were tired from Saturday’s finish fast long run and I didn’t mutt masqueradehave high expectations.  After a mile warm up, I lined up in the front pack of runners.  I took off, settled in to a comfortable pace for the out and back course and had some fun.  mutt masquerade

On the outbound side I realized my right shoe was tied too tight (still figuring out the new shoes).  My ankle was bothering me and an injury however slight was last on my list.  I decided to stop to fix it when I could hear my funky gait on the cement.  Passing all of the wagging tails on my return trip really made the race enjoyable.  Not one of my best performances after having to tie a shoe midway through, I finished second female overall (22:54) and won my age group.

Meredith

Do you run with your dog?  Would you do the Mutt Masquerade?

 

Fit Friday: Race Volunteering

The running community is awesome.  Runners are so supportive of each other at every level it’s amazing.  One of the best way many of us give back to the community that supports us so much is by volunteering at a race, or more, each year.  I try to pitch in at least a few times during race season and will be at the Wicked 10k expo tomorrow for four fun hours of packet pickup.volunteering

I regularly volunteer at EquiKids and it is unbelievably rewarding to see riders progress over time.  While handing out some t-shirts or race numbers doesn’t quite have the same impact, it is important.  Without runners ready to not only race but help the race directors out, many of us wouldn’t be able to afford to participate.  Paying someone for volunteering would skyrocket the costs of putting on an event.  That would, of course, be passed on to the runners and I’m pretty sure most of our race related pocket books aren’t overflowing.

With a wide variety of volunteering choices available to those who want to give back, opportunities abound.  I typically choose to help out the day before the race with packet pickup or set up.  This makes it easy to run the race myself or be there for the athletes I coach.  It also doesn’t hurt that I can often fit it in during the middle of the day.  Other options include Start Line, bag check, Finish Line, course marshals and water stops.  There’s something that will fit any schedule limitation you can think of.  No excuses!

Volunteering at a race is something everyone who runs one should consider.  It’s the perfect chance to give back to the community that gives you so much.  You might even meet your new best runner friend.

Meredith

What’s your favorite spot for race volunteering?