Sunday, July 31, 2011

Week 4: Sunday- Wud up 13 miler

Week 4: COMPLETE!!

I finished this week of NYC marathon training with 13 miles on the Tow Path. I’ve started to become desensitized to mileage, since I think it’s fair to say that I’d be considered a “marathoner” at this point in my running career. It’s crazy to believe, but I’ll be running my 7th and 8th marathons this fall!! :-)  I went into this workout thinking “ahhhhh easy 13 miler” and left thinking “owwwwwwwwww my legs hurt!” My legs were pretty stiff from the 5K yesterday, so I decided to do the run at noon instead of the early AM to let them warm up a bit. I knew I was risking unfavorable weather conditions, but was willing to suffer through it.

It was definitely hot and humid when noon time came around. Overall, the run was difficult mainly because I underestimated it. My legs were stiff just about the entire time, and my back hurt for a bit around mile 5. The back pain eventually subsided, but my legs just never warmed up. I was hoping for at least a strong finish with the last three miles. I had a strong finish, but it took a lot more “oomph” than should have been necessary. I ended up running EXACTLY what I wanted to (1:43:56, 8:00min/mi pace), oddly enough, but I wasn’t satisfied with the amount of effort that I needed to put in. Plus, I was DEAD when I was finished and my legs hurt A LOT. I finished feeling like this should have been an easier workout, especially considering the pace I was running. But the truth is, as I said earlier, I’ve trained for 6 marathons now and 13 miles just sounds easy in comparison to the mileage I’ve covered and that I will be covering in the next few weeks. However, it is 13 miles!!! When I referred to it as “easy,” my sis pointed out that it’s the amount of miles she drives to work every day… we shared a good chuckle over my insanity! Hahaaa…  I’m glad I rocked the 5K Saturday, but with the intensity I’ve put in with the hill training, tempo,  pace run, and 5K race this week, I think I burned myself out for the most important workout of all: THE LONG RUN!! The run that most closely simulates the marathon itself.  I need to take these workouts more seriously. I’ve been mentally blowing them off, and today I felt it. Absolutely not a good feeling!

I have 14 miles on the schedule for next Saturday, and I will be doing it with a GOOD rest day on Friday.  I have a 10 mile race scheduled for August 14, and right now, I don’t feel like I’m ready to run my best 10miler. It’s time to get my long-distance running act together!!! 

So, despite a challenging finish to the week, it was a good one! I covered 34.79 miles this week and a total 117.84 miles over the past 4 weeks. 

My plan for Week 5 in my NYC Marathon Training (based off of Hal Higdon’s Advanced-2 Marathon Training Plan):
Monday: 3 miles easy
Tuesday: 35 tempo
Wednesday: 3 mile pace
Thursday: 7 miles
Friday: REST!
Saturday: 14 miles
Sunday: 30 minute cross training

97 days until NYC!!! :-)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Week 4: Saturday- Wigs For Kids 5K

I’m pretty sure I’ve forgotten what it feels like to run a flat race.  My expectation going into the Wigs for Kids 5K being held at the CLE Zoo today was that it was going to be a fast, evenly paved, flat course that I could potentially P.R. on. Well, guess I should have done my research!! To summarize this 5k in one word, as the Hermes race director did prior to passing out awards, it was DIFFICULT. SoOoOoO here’s how it went…

I sprung out of bed at 6am, perky and eager for the 5K on the schedule for the day! I left earlier than usual to get to the zoo because I anticipated a large crowd for this one, being that it was at the zoo and for such an amazing cause. I’m so grateful that I am able to give to so many charities and great organizations through all of these races. No matter how the race goes, I always remind myself that I did something good just by showing up. :-)

I definitely made the right choice getting there early. Although I pre-registered, I still got stuck waiting in a super long line for my race packet. I then did a 1-1.5 mile warm up around the zoo. I did this as a light jog with a couple 200 meter repeats to get my fast-twitch muscles ready to roll. I was feeling GOOD and definitely feeling like I could make something happen today! I quickly learned that the zoo is VERY confusing, and I managed to get lost on my little warm up. LOL. Fortunately, I figured my way back to the start prior to the beginning of the race.

When I got to the start line, the announcer stated that there was a record amount of people registering for the race and that they’d need to hold off the start time for about 10 minutes. Although this is not something I like hearing when I’m warmed up and ready to go, I thought about how awesome it was that the organization was able to get so many people to support Wigs For Kids.  Additionally, it reinforced one of the things I love most about running: it’s truly a sport for EVERYONE. All are welcome to participate, whether you’re an Olympian, a local elite runner, a social runner, someone hoping to get in shape, or someone that just wants to cross the finish line. What other sport brings together so many different types of people? It’s truly fascinating to see. 

Then, the Hermes race director came over to the start line and informed us that awards would only be given to the top male and female finishers, and that age groups were not gender specified. Plus, the age groups included 9 years. This meant I was competing not just against the ladies, but all the boys from age 20-29. Are you SERIOUS!?!? (*that was my response, LOL).  He said yes, and that it was the organization that wanted it kept that way.  All of the ladies were pretty upset and expressed their frustrations. They just looked discouraged and defeated.  I focused on being positive and kept saying, “Just run your own race…focus on a P.R.! Don’t worry about the boys!!” The boys kind of knowingly shook their heads and one made a remark that “he’s never been beaten by a girl.” If you know me or have gotten to know me through my blog, you know that this naturally ignited the competitive juices in my running soul. I’ll refer to him as “Hot Shot” from now on.  I was tempted to say, “WELL, you boys happen to have significantly larger lung capacities, naturally less body fat and more muscle, and longer legs that allow for a longer stride. We have to work MUCH harder to kick your butt.” But, I took a deep breath and recognized he meant no harm by saying that. I think he was trying to agree with us that it wasn’t fair. So, instead I said in a friendly yet sarcastic tone, “OH YEAH? What’s your age group?” He didn’t tell me!!! Hahahaaaa :=)

I got over the unfair award situation, reminded myself that this race was for an awesome cause, and took the advice I gave the ladies. I was feeling good and just wanted to get in a good race! Plus, I was excited to see how the “No Ipod” situation was going to go.  So, the bell rang and off we all went! There were no stand-out speedy ladies at the beginning, and I thought maybe I had gone out too fast. But, I glanced at my Garmin and was at about a 6:30 pace around the first .25 mile. I got jittery and picked it up to 6:10 and stayed there. I noticed right away the hills, but felt like I could push them…they didn’t seem super significant (YET!). I crossed the 1 mile marker around 6:12, and was in close proximity with “Hot Shot.” I was shocked that he, and some other gentlemen, were running rather conservatively. I passed him.  And then…a SUPER huge hill that was about .5 miles long (or at least it seemed) came in near sight. I was so bummed, and felt like my chances of PR’ing were pretty much gone. I trudged up the hill, breathing heavy and refusing to look at the terrible pace displayed on my Garmin. “Hot Shot” and a few boys passed me. Then, a girl popped up to my side. She also passed me, which was the piece of motivation I needed to boost my attitude back where it needed to be. As soon as I got up that awful hill, I pushed past her. I gave all that I had at the moment and went strong and fast. I claimed back 1st place female, and decided to make that my goal to the finish. I ignored my Garmin, and decided I was going to run by feel.  I flew on the downhills to make up for the time lost on the uphills, which I think is what ultimately saved me. The men on the course that I passed were encouraging and supportive, which TOTALLY boosted my confidence. It has been a mistake to wear headphones for all of the races I’ve run…I never would have known of their support had I been wearing them.  Not wearing headphones reminded me once again why I love running so much: EVERYONE is SO nice and supportive!! I also passed “Hot Shot,” who gave me an exhausted, “Awesome job!” VERY COOL, I have to say. I then crossed the mile 2 marker, and the guy standing there informed me that I was the first female with a big gap behind me. I kept focused and wanted a strong finish, regardless of how big the gap was. The last mile was tough, and once I got to mile 3 I glanced at my Garmin. It said I was at  mile 2.85? I’m not sure if the dramatic uphills and downhills threw it off, but I wasn’t sweating it (well, literally OF COURSE I was hehe). The clock turned 20 minutes, and I pushed through the chute and was done. FIRST OVERALL FEMALE!!! WOOP!!

I did a little cool down with some stretching and hung out for the awards. The Hermes guy announced my time at 19:34 (I think?) …but I swear the clock said 20 minutes and change? Since my Garmin was off, I didn’t stop it until after my cool down so there’s no way of verifying my exact time on my own (it won’t load data onto my computer for some reason). So, I’m waiting to see the official results and to see if he made a mistake announcing my time. I do know for certain I was first, but I’m not so sure about 19:34…I’ll take it though!!!  :-) Plus, I want to see where I rank against the boys!!

Tomorrow, I’ll be heading to the Tow Path for 13 miles. I can’t wait to get in a good long run!!

I’ll finish my blog entry today with an amazingly inspirational quote by Steve Prefontaine: “A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more.” I live by this! :-)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Week 4: Thursday- Uphill battle!

Uphill battle indeed! I decided to run the same course today for my 6 mile pace run, but to do it backwards. This meant that I began and ended uphill, where as for my pace run last week I began and ended downhill. And, I ended up with similar results...although quite different experiences!! I finished 44:17 and averaged a 7:23min/mi, and last week finished 44:34. Last week was the hottest day of the year, and today was not nearly as extreme. It was definitely sticky and humid, but complaints here!!

My goal going into my workout today was to stay at 26.2 race pace (7:30min/mi), and to finish uphill. I LOVE these pace workouts. They help me to maintain focus, patience, and consistency in  my running. To run a smart, fast marathon, you have to run with all three of those qualities. Today, I definitely worked hard to stay focused on my pace. I focused on not putting out too much too soon or on tough parts of the course, but also without easing up too much. I also focused on putting out a bit faster pace on the easier, downhill parts of the course...without putting out too much! Ahhhh confusing a bit, ehhh??

I started out with a .5 mile walk to warm up my muscles a tad prior to starting the 6 miles. Then, off I went! The first mile was uphill, and I was a bit stiff and a little scattered in my pace trying to hang on to 7:30min/mi. It was hard...and I was kind of all over the place (7:20-7:47ish). Once the road even out around 1.5, I picked up to a consistent pace a little under 7:30min/mi. Once I got to Coventry, which is initially a moderate decline in elevation and then picks up to a big downhill, I dropped down to around 6:50-7:00. I held this pace for most of the middle miles all the way through Little Italy. Once the elevation increased, I  slightly picked up to 7:30 and maintained that as I circled around Case back to Cedar. The last .5 miles was up Cedar Hill and was, as it always promises, VERY challenging. I started out pretty slow around  9:00, and dug deep down to PUSH and floated around 7:30-8:00 pace until I got to the top and was FINISHED! Love the feeling of being done after a great workout!!

I reached my goal for my workout today, and won this uphill battle!! I was much more relaxed throughout the workout today then I was last week (I think the heat played a large role in this). These pace workouts are a pivotal component to marathon training...if you don't do them, you should!!

Looking forward to my rest day tomorrow, the Wigs For Kids 5K at the Zoo Saturday (hoping for sub 20:00), and my 13 mile long run on the Tow Path Sunday!! :-)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Week 4: Tuesday/Wednesday- TRIBE TIME!

I commonly discuss the perks of running that deliver on a  physical, mental, and even spiritual level. Guess what? There are other perks, TOO!! I finished first at A Most Excellent Race10K a few weeks ago and scored some SICK Tribe Tickets!! I almost forgot about them, but found them Monday afternoon. WOO HOO!
A Most Excellent Race 10K 1st place, WOOP!

The game was a blast! I brought my sis with me, we had AMAZING seats, the weather was perfect, and we got on the JumboTron (hahaaaa we were pretty excited about that)! With the stomach bug that I think I've FINALLY kicked, I wasn't planning on drinking any adult beverages. Our tickets were "loaded," which meant they needed to be used appropriately....*eHhHm* Three large adult beverages later, I realized I was havin' a GOOD time and went against my plan. OOPS! HEHE :-) I'm so grateful to have won the tickets, and that I got to share them with my amazing sister who appreciated the quality more than anyone else I know could have!!! I love her so much!
Tribe Tickets, WOOP!

Wud UP, Sandy Alomar!!

Prior to the Tribe Game Tuesday night, I ran an easy 3 miles in 23:08, 7:43min/mi and got in some good Pilates. I'm enjoying these days of low mileage, as I know they will be soon gone!! I'm definitely looking forward to stepping it up though!

Speaking of stepping it up, my tempo is now up to 35:00 minutes. Unfortunately for me, I cannot enjoy a few adult beverages without feeling the side effects the next day. I don't know why but it always takes so much out of me. I'm going to try (VERY hard) to keep my adult beverage consumption to a minimum until the NYC Marathon. However, despite feeling dehydrated and scattered, I rocked my tempo tonight! The weather was awesome, which I'm so grateful for after last week's heat wave! I did a 10 minute warm up around an 8:00min/mi pace, and then picked it up to 10K pace for 20 minutes (eased in around 7:20, picked it up to 7:00, and then ran the majority around 6:50). I decelerated at an easy pace for the last 5 minutes. The last 5 minutes were the hardest because I had some odd stomach cramping. It wasn't a side stitch, but an entire stomach stitch. LOL. I blame the good times last night, in addition to my recovery from the stomach bug I  had. But, it was worth it!

I'm planning on an early night to bed tonight for an AM 6 mile pace run tomorrow, taking into consideration the weather conditions are forecasted to not be particularly ideal (around 90 degrees). But, the good news is it's still much better than what I ran in last Thursday. I'm hoping for a 7:30min/mi average, and to finish under 45 minutes again.

This weekend, I'm planning on resting Friday, running the Wigs For Kids 5K at the CLE Zoo Saturday, and a 13 mile long run on the Tow Path Sunday. This is a small modification from my initial plans at the beginning of the week. I'm looking forward to a fun weekend of running!!! :-)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Week 4: Monday- Hillin'it up!

The Monday that begins every 3 weeks of my NYC Marathon Training is dedicated to HILLS! Today, I was scheduled 4 X hill. I went back to the same hill I ran on during my first hill session three weeks ago. It's a steep climb that's a little under 400 meters long, accompanied by a sidewalk, lots of spectators, and has got a certain "je ne sais quoi." I'm totally digging it! It leads into Little Italy, which has such great energy and spunk. It makes the workout much more manageable!!

I've been struck by a stomach bug, as I discussed in my last blog, that is still somewhat lingering. I'm feeling MUCH better today, but I still have a little queasiness and a headache. I decided to make this a night run, so I can give myself the day to feel a bit better. It turned out to be a great choice! After an entire afternoon and early evening consumed by chemistry, I was ready to for a release. I wanted to run this workout with tenacity...EXACTLY how I want to face hills in races! I always back off too much on hills, and need to have confidence in my own strength. I'm hoping that putting 110% into these workouts will give me the strength I need for a much needed hill confidence boost!!

I did a 1.5 mile light jog warm up to the hill, and then I was off!! My first hill was the toughest because I was a little stiff, and averaged around a 7:30 min/mi. My second was much better, and I averaged around a 6:50 min/mi. My third was also around a 6:50min/mi, and I had a strong finish with my fourth around a 6:40 min/mi! WOOP! People were definitely looking at me like I was a crazy person while I was doing my hill repeats. I guess it is kinda weird-looking to see someone running up a hill like she is running for her life, just to see her gently jog down and do it all over again hahaaaaa! And, I must say, I'm PROUD to be a crazy runner :-)

I did a 1.5 mile light jog back home, did a little stretching, and then ate dinner. I'm planning on doing Pilates at some point this evening, but I want to let my stomach settle before I attempt it.

OH and for all potential Boston 2012ers, Boston made a calculator to let you know when you can register with their new efficient, quality-ensuring, wave registration process! You can find it on their official website: After my 3:18 at CLE in 2010, I definitely took my marathoning down a notch and this may prevent me from getting in this time around. I didn't think I'd want to run Boston more than once, and even immediately after Boston I wasn't sure. It was such an awesome first time  experience, and I didn't want to taint that. Butttttt as all of the runners at Boston warned me, just a few weeks after the marathon...I wanted to be part of it again! SOOOO here's my situation:  I ran a cozy, not-pushing-the-limits 3:30:15 at Marine Corps last October (and 3:35 at Boston this spring), which only puts me in the "five minutes or faster" registration wave. I can't imagine that it will fill up before I can register, but there is no way of predicting how quickly the race cap is going to be reached with this new registration process. I'm putting my faith in fate...if it's meant to be, I'll run it. If it's not meant to be, I'll run CLE again and set out for a speedy 26.2!!

Life is too short to be anything but an optimist. Happy Monday everyone!!! :-)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Week 3: Wrappin' it up!

Well, well, WELL! Another week of training for the NYC Marathon is DONE! It's hard to believe I will be beginning my fourth week as of tomorrow. Time is so hard to keep up with just keeps FLYING by faster and faster (...and hopefullly my race times will be, too! heheee)

I had a great week despite the extreme temperatures we've all been faced with...untilllllll the end of this week. My pace work out Thursday was my most challenging and turned out awesome...untilllllll after. As I blogged about Thursday, I was faced with a terrible migraine post-run and I thought I had recovered from it rather quickly (a few hours). But when I woke up Friday morning, I just didn't feel right. My stomach was SUPER queasy and I still had a head ache. I pretty much laid-low all day, and decided later that evening that a 5K Saturday was pushing it. I just ran a 5 miler Sunday, had a great training week, and didn't HAVE to race this weekend. But, I still set the alarm for 6am in case I changed my mind Saturday morning. I'm a pretty indecisive girl and like to keep my options open! ;-)

When the alarm went off at 6am, I was COMPLETELY unmotivated to race. My stomach was feeling worse (like I had been riding a spinning amusement park ride all night), and I decided I would just keep it to my scheduled 8 miles. Plus, I was 3 pounds lighter today which made NO sense considering I didn't run the day prior. Hmmmm? I also decided to keep the 8 miler as close to an 8:00min/mi pace as possible, since I just did a 6 mile pace run and I was not feeling good at all. I did my normal pre-run routine, laced up the shoes, and was out the door! And, again, NO IPOD!!!! The run was comfortable and relaxing at times, and at other times I was trying very hard to not get sick while running. Unfortunately, by mile 4, the illness took over (I won't share any of the details...YOU'RE WELCOME!!). Needless to say, it made the last four miles VERY uncomfortable. I kept a solid pace despite feeling awful, and pushed a big hill as I finished up the 8 miles. I finished in 1:04:07, 8:01min/mi. I was happy I was able to stay at my planned pace, but worried that I may be sick. I can run with just about any illness, but stomach viruses are the WORST. I pretty much felt yucky all day Saturday, but my spirits went WAY UP when I got the news that my sister and soon-to-be-brother-in-law got engaged!!!!

I woke up this morning feeling a bit better, but still not 110%. My stomach is just super queasy...I don't know what the problem is!!! I still managed a solid 30 minutes on the elliptical followed by Pilates. My total mileage this week is 25 miles, and my total overall mileage is 83.05. Overall, I feel that these three weeks have been quality training and lots of intensity despite being faced with multiple challenges. I just have to keep this going for the next 15 weeks!!!

I'm VERY excited to start Week 4 of my training and am hoping my stomach will be back to 110%! I'll be stepping it up this week...and feeling TOTALLY ready for it!!!

Here is my NYC Marathon Training Week 4 Run-Down (based off of Hal Higdon's Advanced-2 Marathon Training Plan:

Monday: 4Xhill
Tuesday: 3 miles easy
Wednesday: 35 minute tempo
Thursday: 6 mile pace
Friday: rest
Saturday: 13 miles
Sunday: 30 minute elliptical

Happy Training Everyone!! :-D

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Week 3: Thursday- MP vs. Mother Nature

Well, it's not cold. I think we can all agree on that. haaaaa :-D Mother Nature sure loves to mix it up here in CLE. Ice, snow, hail, rain, humidity, heat...all of which you can expect to the extreme at some point on the calendar year.
Who wants to run in this?? :-)

All that just makes us that much more grateful for the perfect 65 degree sunny days. :-) But when those awful conditions fall upon us runners, we're faced with a tough decision: take it to the treadmill or take it to the road? Some runners REFUSE to step on a treadmill, and will run in just about all conditions regardless of how bad it is. I have a great deal of respect for runners with that kind of dedication. I, on the other hand, in the icy, snowy winter, am absolutely NOT that runner. Quality counts over quantity for me, and when it's icy and snowy I can't get the speed I want in my workouts. I'm slipping over ice, and trudging through the snow, and getting frustrated with my Garmin showing my pathetic pace. I know it can still be a great workout, but for me, it's not the kind of workout I'm looking for. Although the treadmill is not ideal, you can still rock out with great workouts on it. This past winter, I got a fan base at the gym because I did just about all of my training (speed training, tempos, even long runs!) on the treadmill. People would stare at me like I was a maniac...and I guess it's fair to say that most of us runners are...and we're PROUD! :-) And, once it cleared up outside, I was SO grateful to get back out on the road. The awful days really do make me appreciative of the great days!

When it comes to summer running, my philosophy is much different. I do everything possible to keep my runs outside. I just feel much more comfortable doin' my thang in the summer, even when it's SCORCHING hot like today. Maybe I'm a fool, but I also LOVE the challenge that comes with summer running. Today is a great example of the crazy LOVE I have for running and the challenges that come with it! I manage to keep the quality of my workouts even when it's hot (or at least try VERY hard to!) so it's worth it to me.

The forecast last night stated that today could potentially be one of the hottest days since 1952. 97 degrees was in the forecast. I was not intimidated by this in the slightest, but instead compelled...I had a 6 mile pace run scheduled for today and I was determined to get this one in outside! I woke up at 8am this morning, stepped into my living room (only the bedroom in my apt has AC) and it was toasty. I had a little breakfast, drank a TON of water, laced up my shoes, and was out the door (I left the Ipod at home, WOO!!). I walked to the end of my street to let my muscles loosen up a bit, and then off I went!

I didn't have a plan in mind of where I wanted to run. I was kind of leaving location up in the air, and was just goin' with the flow! I just wanted to finish under 45:00 minutes and stick around a 7:30min/mi, which is my intended 26.2 pace for both C-bus and NYC this fall.  I started out down Cedar Hill, which was a good pick-me-up and motivator that my pace was not out of reach in this tough heat. I ran around Case, and through Little Italy, all around 7:00-7:15ish pace feelin' good. Then, when it came time to climb up Mayfield hill, I slowed it down to about a 9:00min/mi and pushed. It was HARD. I was SO HOT, the hill seemed MUCH bigger than I ever remember it, and I was mentally getting worried. This would be the time I would switch a song on my Ipod to pick myself up! But, nope, I dug down into my running spirit for the courage to keep going. Once Mayfield flattened out, I picked up the pace back to about 7:20ish. I drenched myself down with water, and was doing everything possible to run in the shade where I could. As I rounded on to Coventry, there were people cheering me on and encouraging me to keep going! HAHA I felt like I was in a race!! It was so awesome! I gave a painful smile and wave to be courteous...I LOVE nice people. :-) I pushed up Coventry hill, which was painful, too, and my pace dropped again to about a 9:00min/mi. As soon as I climbed it, I saw I had 2.5 miles to go.  I just had to block out the heat and keep pushing...and I knew I'd be golden. I kept the pace around a 7:10min/mi and I kept going...past the Fairmount intersection, and then turned onto North Park. I was def. hurting, but my breathing wasn't too terrible and I felt in control. I had just a little more than a mile to go. North Park is beautiful, shaded, and I was now running down in elevation. I stuck around a 6:50-7:00 min/mi, and then was HOME! I was THRILLED that I reached my goal...and with some change! I finished in 44:34, 7:26min/mi. TAKE THAT Mother Nature!!

I was a little too thrilled after my run, and should have IMMEDIATELY gotten into an air conditioned room. Instead, I hung out in my hot living room, did some pilates, and watched the View. Then, all of the sudden, I started losing perepheral vision. I knew EXACTLY what was coming...A MIGRAINE!! I immediately grabbed an ice pack from my fridge, ran into my bedroom, cranked on the A.C., and laid down with the ice hoping it would not develop into full blown migraine. Unfortantely, it did. Thankfully, my parents live close and my beautiful and wonderful Mom was able to take care of me. When I get migraines, I'm completed debilitated. I can't see, I have nausea accompanied by EXCRUTIATING head pain and sinus pain, and my upper jaw gums were hurting super bad as well (weird?).  I was able to sleep it off, but it stunk. It's my fault though. Had I properly cooled down and hydrated that may have not happened. OH WELL! I still rocked an awesome run, and DEF. kicked Mother Nature's butt!!!! ALL without my Ipod!

Tomorrow is my rest day, and I'm happy to take it considering it's forecasted to be another scorcher! I was planning on a 5K Saturday followed by my 8 mile run, but if the weather is 90 degrees as the current forecast states, I will be moving the 5K to Sunday (or not doing it at all!). We shall see!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Week 3: Wednesday- Tempo run UNPLUGGED

Wow, the title to this blog entry sounds DEEP. Like you're about to find out what happens...when people stop being polite, and start getting real...

UGH, NOPE! Just ran without my Ipod today. Haaaaaaaaaaa! But, I'm proud! Two days of running totally unplugged, and both were great workouts! I'm sure my blog entries over the past few days are quite ridiculous to some. You may be thinking, "Why the heck is it such a big deal to run without an Ipod?" I think that's a great question. The best answer I can give is that it's one more step for me in the direction of becoming a "pretty good" runner, and eventually becoming a "GREAT!" runner. I've been sitting comfortably as a "good" runner for awhile now, and it's time to take it up a notch! I have the determination, will-power, and confidence to do whatever it takes to be a "GREAT!" runner. When I'm a lil old lady telling my grandkids stories of my running career, I don't want to say,  "Well, if I..." I rather it be statements of "I did..." So, the time is NOW to take the steps I need to become a better MP :-D. Running without the dependence of good tunes, but relying on my own inner running spirit, is a good start!

I covered 4 miles in my 30 minute tempo today. I did the usual 10 minute warm up, but did more of a gradual acceleration and ran 5 minutes at about a 7:20ish pace, ran 10 minutes at a 6:50ish pace, and then did a 5 minute cool down back home. I did this in the a.m., and it was HOT. I was literally glistening in sweat when I got home (gross, sorry for the over-share) and I was dripping all over the place. I had some cold water, got in some pilates, and went to class. Working out is the BEST start to the day...I wish I could do it during the school year. But, for now, I'll save the 4am workouts for the day I have kiddos. :-)

Tomorrow, I have a 6 mile pace run. I will be up EARLY, and this run will also be UNPLUGGED! I'll let you know how it goes.

My weekend plans include a rest day Friday followed by the Strongsville CLE Clinic 5K Saturday and 8 miles on the Tow Path. WOO! :-)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Week 3: Tuesday- Ridin' SOLO!

Yep, you read it correctly. I'm finally at the point where I feel comfortable going it alone. I became so attached that I didn't realize that I was holding back as a result. It's been a great three years, but it's time I do my own thing for a bit. This isn't a permanent separation, but I just will be going it alone more often than before.....

....I'm speaking of my Ipod, which has been my wingman for every single training run and race since I began my running adventures back in 2008 (with the exception of the CLE 1/2 Marathon, Ipods weren't allowed back in the day!).

I plan on continuing to use it here and there for my longer distance training runs and easy runs. But for my speed workouts and short-distance races, I'm going to be leaving it at home! Why am I hanging up on the Ipod for these occassions? I've found that my Ipod tends to be more of a distraction when I'm trying to go fast, and I feel that I may be able to focus better without it. The cord is dangling from my ears, the Ipod holder is strapped on to my arm and gets sweaty, I can't listen to my breathing, I usually miss out on the experience of people cheering me on and encouraging me, and as I said yesterday, my indicator for being "off" in a race is when I'm paying attention to my music. Although listening to my favorite songs gets my heart rate going and gets me pumped up, I've evolved into an incredibly conscientious and serious runner over the years. I'm not sure I need that motivation now like I used to...just getting out on the road is enough for me!!! I truly love running. :-)

I did a test-run today, and went solo for the first time on the track. I was scheduled 4X800, and had an AWESOME workout despite the extreme heat/humidity which is nearly inescapable this week. I learned from this workout that over the past 3 years of running, I've NEVER paid attention to my breathing. How the heck I've gotten this far is beyond me. LOL. I did my first 800 repeat around the track and my breathing was horrendous. I was breathing so heavy and erratic, but nailed it at a 5:30min/mi pace. I took a brief 400 meter jog, and then nailed the second, but much slower around 6:00min/mi pace. My breathing was much more controlled this time around, since I was actually paying attention! It was very HOT so I had some water with me that I got down before my third repeat, which was around a 6:10min/mi. My fourth repeat, that I swear I was in a daze or something because it went by super fast, was about a 6:20min/mi. Did I need the Ipod for the success? NOPE! I was good to go. I have a 30 minute tempo scheduled for tomorrow, and I'll attempt this one Ipodless as well!!

The real test will come with the 5K Saturday. I've come to realize that I haven't been focusing on my own breathing, but fear that it will be VERY annoying listening to other people breathing as well. But, it's something I need to get used to. If I ever want to win money at a big marathon (just sayin'...:-) ), I have to do it Ipodless. You cannot be considered for prize money if you are wearing an Ipod. USATF sets these rules to ensure runners aren't coached throughout the race.

Looking forward to this heat wave ending!!! I hate to wish time away, but I can't wait for the fall. It's been my favorite time of year since I was a little girl...and now with running I love it even more!!! :-)

Stay cool. Stay hydrated. But not too hydrated! :-)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Week 3: Monday- easy 3 and feelin' good!

Feeling uncomfortably good today. No muscle soreness. No exhaustion. No overeating desires. Just feelin' good! Obviously, this indicates I could have put out a little more at the race yesterday. However, the reality is, I really couldn't have. With the heat, 33:55 was all I I'm not sweatin' it (now...but I was, literally, yesterday haaaaaaaaaaa).

The temps were crazy high in the 90s again today! I had some chem homework to get done this morning, so I planned on a night run. There ended up being a moderate temperature decrease to about 80 around 6ish, so I got my run in then. It was awesome!! I challenged myself with a tough 3 mile course (gotta love the Lil Italy hills!), and it went quite well. It was comfortable and relaxing...a good transition after a race. I finished in 23:21, 7:47min/mi. I did lots of stretching and Pilates after.

I def. want to get in a 5K this weekend, since it's a step-back with my long run. There are a couple to choose from, and right now the Strongsville Cleveland Clinic 5K on Saturday is most appealing. That way, I can just drive over to the Tow Path for my 8 miler after. But, I'm playing the entire weekend by ear...we'll see what happens!!

My plan for this 5K is to: (a) get back under 20 minutes (b) possibly P.R. <under 19:38> (c) run without my Ipod. I've become SO attached to running with my Ipod. I think it serves its purpose while I'm doing my training runs and when I'm running marathons, but it has some disadvantages in short-distance races. I honestly don't even listen to it when I run fast races. In fact, my test for being "off" in a race is when I start paying attention to the music! Plus, my headphones always seem to want to fall off when it's windy, and it just ends up frustrating me adjusting them. So, I'll give it a Ipod for my 5K this weekend!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Week 2: Sunday- Johnnycake Jog 5 miler

HOT! HOT! HOT! That’s in reference to the Johnnycake 5 miler, and also the boy (who may have been a mirage) that I used to pace myself to the finish line.  Shocked? Not really. It’s July 17th. If it weren’t hot, I suppose something would be wrong! 

I’m not sure exactly why I love this race so much. I think it’s primarily because of the awesome competition. This race attracts amazing runners. The first overall male was Kenyan, and finished 23:49, 4:45min/mi. The first overall female, also the winner of the CLE Marathon for the past two years and an Olympic Trials Qualifier, finished 28:15, 5:39min/mi. The official race results have still yet to be posted, but I’m pretty sure all of the top 5 females were under 30 minutes. OBVIOUSLY, I don’t stand a chance at this point to competition like that, but it motivates me SO much to keep working hard. Although I’ve come very far over the past few years coming from ZERO real running experience, there’s still a great deal of room for improvement. I am confident that if I keep working hard, I’ll be running sub-6:00 minute miles…I just know it. :-)

So, yes, the race was hot. I got up ON TIME this morning (WOO!) at 6am, took my time doing my pre-race run-down, and headed out the door by 7:25am. The race started at 8:30am, so I probably could have left earlier (OOPS!). Once I got out to Painesville for the start of the race, it was about 8:00am. I immediately headed towards the facilities (priorities are priorities!), and the ladies line was RIDICULOUS! I stayed positive, got in line, and just stretched until I was able to get in. I waited about 15 minutes to use the bathroom (GRRR!), but still was able to get in a little bit of a warm up before the race. I wish I could have gotten in at least a mile, but there was just no time. I did a little stretching, and then it was time to line up.
Ready to roll!
As I was waiting at the start line, the announcer said “This might be one of the hottest Johnnycake Jogs EVER!” I really wish he didn’t say that. It was 88 degrees and VERY sunny, and hearing it just made it even worse. I got really nervous at that point, and wished I brought my bottle of water with me to the start line.  I had hydrated pretty well all day yesterday and this morning, but I was worried.  But before I could analyze any further, the gun went off! There were over 1,200 runners, so it was the usual mad-dash at the start line. I tried to stay at an easy pace, but I wanted to get a peek at the speedy girls before they were out of eye sight. Despite their quick pace, they looked calm and in control. And then they were gone…:-) 

As I was running into the first .5miles, I noticed a girl had been running RIGHT next to me since the gun went off and I was just not in the mood to pace anyone. With the extreme heat, and no chance of claiming any of the top 5 finishing spots (with prize money!), I wanted to run my own race. So, I picked it up and held it until I knew she was gone. Then, the first hill came and I took it with ease. There was a SUPER sexy guy in front of me (tall, tan, lean muscle, no shirt hahahaaaa, I will refer to him as “hot guy”) and I was moderately creeping on him to stay on pace. He didn’t exactly appear to be the classic “male runner,” so I was anticipating he’d slow down and I’d be able to pass him. So, I wasn’t being ENTIRELY creepy. :-)

As I climbed over the second hill going into mile 2, the heat was taking over me. The “hot guy” was getting a bit farther away, and a girl with pig tails popped up to my side. Like the girl from the start of the race, she was running right with me, and I was DEFINITELY not interested in dealing with that for the remaining painful miles of the course. Instead of flying ahead this time, I slowed down a bit and let her go ahead.  I was more than willing to give up an age-group slot at that point, LOL.  
Once I got the last major incline out of the way, I was relieved but also definitely feeling the heat. It was hard to breathe, and I spotted one of the female elite runners walking off to the side. Although I was out to run my own race, seeing her walk definitely made me quite nervous.  I can’t imagine ever dropping out of a race, even if I knew I was WAY off my intended finish time. With my little fighter mentality, I’d likely LITERALLY drop out of a race first…which makes me grateful for my Road ID! Heheee. And with that fighter mentality, I pushed! Once the course evened out and I could feel the moderate decline in elevation, I picked up the pace. The “hot guy” was back in near sight, so I felt good to go! Pig-tails wasn’t too far ahead, but I wasn't worrying about that.

The last two miles of the course were the absolute WORST. It’s directly on Mentor Avenue, which is flat, unshaded, boring, and HOT!  I kept my focus (catch up to “hot guy”), and just told myself to stay under 7:00min/mi. I honestly didn’t give a s&^# at that point about breaking 34 minutes, I just wanted to be DONE with this race because I was near dying of heat exhaustion. But I kept chugging along, about a 6:50 pace. When the last mile came around “hot guy” was really flying. So, I picked it up as well. I ran a really strong last .5 mile to the finish, and to my surprise, MET MY GOAL!!!! I crossed the finish line at 33:55, 6:47min/mi. It’s a great feeling to make a Personal Record!
I didn’t end up passing the “hot guy,” and temporarily forgot about him when I crossed the finish line. I guess all I really needed him for was some good motivation to keep up the pace when I felt like quitting on myself. Thanks “hot guy” for being unbelievably good looking, AND a great runner, too. Hope to eventually see the front of you at my next race, hahaaaaaa! Well, the main reason I wasn’t focused on him at the finish was because I was DEAD. I couldn’t breathe, see, and was dripping sweat like you wouldn’t believe. I was so grateful to be done, and SO pleased I managed a P.R. through it all. I chugged a cold bottle of water, did a little walking/stretching, and I was good to go. GOSH was that a tough race! 
First overall male- YEP it was hot!

I was told when I finished I was the 13th female (out of over 600 ladies…not too shabby), so I didn’t know if I’d end up placing. Lucky for me, I ended up getting  3rd in my age group with a cute little plaque!

This was definitely my hottest race, for all of the reasons stated, but it was definitely another awesome experience! I can’t wait to do it again next year!!! 

I decided to NOT substitute my track workout this week, since I was def. under-pace with the heat today. Plus, I’m sure the sub-30:00minute 5 mile girlies aren’t skipping their track workouts this week!

So, here’s my Week 3 NYC Marathon Training Run-Down (based off of Hal Higdon’s Advanced-2 Marathon Training Program):

Monday: 3 miles easy
Tuesday: 4 x 800
Wedneday: 30 min tempo
Thursday: 6 mile pace
Friday: rest
Saturday: (possible 5K race) + 8 miles
Sunday: 30 min cross-train

111 days until the NYC Marathon!!!!!!!!!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Week 2: Friday- Lessons in Long Runs- Keep Running :-D

After a super fun night of catch-up with my dear friend, Jeness, I went to bed last night not feeling very well. I  had swollen glands, a headache, an achy throat, and my ears hurt! YIKES! I was worried I was getting sick, and decided I'd do my best to sleep it off. It's just been a long week for a lot of reasons, and I think it's all taking its toll on my body. I wanted to get my long run planned for today done early because of the hot/humid forecast, but didn't want to push it if I were still feeling under the weather when I woke up.

When the alarm went off this morning, I was feeling groggy and sluggish. I decided to give myself another hour, then got up and moving. I was feeling okay- not awful, but not great either. I did my usual pre-run routine- ate (2 slices of whole wheat toast with butter and jelly, glass of O.J., banana, water, and coffee), got my running gear together, and headed out the door. Once I got to the Tow Path, I used the facilities and then started stretching. I just was not feeling 110% and knew this run was going to be a challenge. I contemplated for a minute throwing the workout out the door and giving it another try tomorrow. But, I had already driven out there, I  had the 5 mile race on Sunday in the back of my mind, and again, I wasn't feeling awful, just not great. So I stuck it out.

As soon as I started the first mile, I could feel and LITERALLY see the humidity! It was already past noon, so I said to myself "dah dah dahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh this is going to be TOUGH!" The air was thick, and breathing was difficult. I tried hard to focus on my pace, not the humidity, and actually did a good job doing so. I just told myself, "keep running." But, then I got to mile 3. I was feeling dizzy, sticky, and my legs were feeling heavy. The thought of 8 more miles had me thinking I should just stop where I was at, turn around, and give it another shot tomorrow. I was on pace still somehow, but was just not feeling it at all. At that point, my running spirit somehow convinced my body to stop being a wussy and to keep going, and I did. :-) I just kept focusing on my pace, not the conditions or even the song on my Ipod. I simply just kept running. :-D The last two miles were the most challenging. The sun was beating on me, the humidity seemed to be so thick, and there was a light breeze that wasn't helping. But, I kept running. :-D It was tough, but I finished all 11 miles in 1:22:35, 7:30 min/mi. As soon as my Garmin beeped "You win! Workout finished," I felt the most gratifying feeling of triumph. As corny as it sounds, a few tears streamed down my face. That was one of the toughest runs I've completed in a while, not so much because of the weather conditions or because I'm sick, but because my mind was not in line with my body at all. What I learned from this long run is the importance of digging into your inner spirit; the fire inside that keeps us going even when the whole world tells us to stop. Always remember, no matter how big the obstacle that lies ahead you may seem, the worst thing you can do is give up on yourself. Always keep running. :-D

I've earned my rest day tomorrow, and am looking forward to it!! Sunday is the Johnnycake 5 miler, so we'll see how it goes!! It's supposed to be a hot one, but I'm certain it'll be a good one. :-)

Good luck to everyone running long runs tomorrow. Hydrate well, get out early if you can, and remember, Keep Running!!! :-D

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Week 2: Thursday- J.Cake 5 miler course preview

Another beautiful day in CLE! :-)

This morning, I made it out to the course of the Johnnycake Jog to get an idea of what I'm in for Sunday. Although I ran this course last year, it's always best to get your feet on the ground again if you have the chance to. It's hard to remember specifics when you run races like a maniac, lol (...since last Johnnycake I've run 2 marathons, 4 half marathons, a 10 miler, a 5 miler, a 10 K, and 7 5K's...geeeeeeeeeez it's been a busy year!). I'm glad I got out there because I def. need to change up my initial "run stupid" race strategy. I can def. P.R. and get under 34 minutes if I run it right. It's a loop course that starts out on the Painesville side of Mentor, loops around Fairgrounds Road (smells like horse manure, YUCK!) up a few hills leading into Concord Township, then a slight decent down Johnnycake Road, and then the last two, straight-shot, flat, UNSHADED miles are on Mentor Avenue leading back to the start. The hills in the race come during the first two miles, so I'm tossing out my "run 5K pace for the first two miles" out the door. I'll stick around a 6:40min/mi, pick it up if I'm feeling it leading into the 3rd mile, and then give the painful last two miles all I got! I need to prepare myself for the mental challenges that come with the last stretch (especially considering the forecast is 90 for Sunday, YIKES!) I remember last year I ran SUPER strong for the last .5mile and I hope I have the same intensity in me this time around!!

I ran the course at what felt to be an easy pace, and I finished in 37:55, 7:35min/mi. Therefore, with a little 'UMPH' I can kick this course's butt and P.R.!!! The result predictor says I'm capable of 33:21 for the 5 miler, based on my recent 10K time. I agree that I can def. do that, but my goal will be to get under 34 minutes.

I've moved up my scheduled 11 mile long run to tomorrow so I can rest on Saturday before the race. I did my 11mile long run before the 10K a few ago and felt fine, but I'm going to see if moving it up a day helps. I will be heading up to the Tow Path for my long run...should be lovely!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Week 2: Wednesday- Feelin' impulsive!

Although I planned on running early this morning, I had difficulty sleeping last night. I have a lot on my mind! As a result, I woke up this morning feeling "blah," to say the least, and just wanted to hold off until later in the day. I went to class/lab, met up with my sisters for dinner, and it was cool and beautiful outside when it came time for my run later in the evening! I contemplated being spontaneous, totally going off schedule, and running to Ohio City and back (about 20 miles). I really just need some running therapy right now, and nothing clears my head quite like a nice long run. I decided, although it would be fun, it was not a good choice, lol. So, I stuck with my originally scheduled 3 mile pace workout and followed it with a lonnnnnnnnnnnnng walk. The run went well, finished 21:26, and I averaged a 7:09min/mi. These 3 milers are such a piece of cake. :-)

Tomorrow, I'll be heading out to Mentor to pick up my race packet, and also to preview the race course. I'm scheduled a 5 mile "however you feel" run, so I'm going to just run the course!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Week 2: Tuesday- 3 easy miles

Yep, easy miles! These first few weeks are a nice ease into the intensity of advanced marathon training. I ran 3 easy miles around my neighborhood, and although the miles were easy, it was a pretty hot/humid afternoon. The run would have been much better had I done it earlier in the morning or later in the evening. I ran it in 22:51, 7:37min/mi. Slightly faster than the 8 minutes pace I'd like for my easy runs, but with the low mileage I'll give myself the pass! I did some pilates after, and am feeling awesome. I feel toned and strong...and it's only the beginning of my training!!

Throughout my run this afternoon, I was brainstorming my "plan of attack" for my upcoming 5 mile race this weekend. It's a very competitive race with lots of 5:30min/mi ladies that I aspire to run like at some point in my running career. But, I'm far from there right now so I'll just be admiring them at the start line...and that's about it! :-) I'm planning on substituting my 4X800 track workout scheduled for Monday with this race. Each repeat is scheduled to be at 5K pace(~6:20min/mi) which is not my intended pace for the 5 miler (~6:40min/mi). SO, I've decided to run a less-than-smart race (ehHhHhM STUPID ehhHhHm) and run the first two miles at 5K pace. Then, I'll do whatever I have left for the last 3 miles. I care more about getting in a good track workout then a good 5 mile race, so I'll sacrifice and potentially look like an idiot. :-D

Tomorrow, I have a 3 mile pace workout. I'm getting up early (NO MATTER HOW I FEEL!) and getting it in before class. My plan is to stick around a 7:30min/mi...but we shall see what happens there! :-)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Week 2: Monday- Loveliest tempo!

I was hoping for an AM tempo run this morning because of the humid/hot conditions that were forecasted for the day. When the alarm went off at 6:45am this morning, my stomach was churning and did not feel right at all. I wanted to get in a solid tempo, and didn't want to risk a bad work out just to get it over. So I decided to hold off until the evening. This ended up being a great decision!

It was definitely a hot/humid one for most of the day, then fortunately it rained while I was in class which brought down the temperatures significantly. By the time I was able to get my run in around 6pm, it was still humid, but much cooler at 75 degrees.  Kara Goucher once said, some days you're on and you can't really explain why, and some days you're off and you can't really explain why. Well, today I was ON and I don't know why! I got in a nice 10 minute warm up around an 8:00min/mi pace, and then kicked it into gear for a few minutes at a 7:00min/mi pace, and then picked it up to about a 6:40/min-6:50min/min until 25 minutes, and then did a 5 minute cool down back home. I felt strong and focused on my run, and was overall very pleased upon completion! I covered 4.07 miles in my 30 minute tempo run.

Tomorrow, I'll be running 3 miles easy. VERY easy workout, relatively speaking of course, but I'll take it!


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Week 1: Saturday/Sunday- finishin' it up!

SORRY I didn't get the chance to blog yesterday. I had a busy day and didn't have enough time to sit down and reflect on my long run.  I really don't have much time now either...I have a lot of chemistry homework to get to for class tomorrow. But, blogging is a much more appealing option at the moment. :-)

I must say, my long run yesterday was fantastic! I met up with my friend Jen to get in a good 10 miler on the Tow Path. We started on a part that I don't normally run on unless I'm running longer than 16 miles because I usually start farther up north. Now that it's summer and  my schedule is a little bit more flexible, I don't mind driving up to the Tow Path to get in my long run. Once fall starts, it might be a little bit more of  a challenge. But, it's so worth it to run out there. It's so beautiful, clean, and most importantly, safe. Plus, I LOVED running with Jen! Although we didn't run side-by-side the entire time, it was fun to have someone I could chat with before and after. She's such a great model of perseverance and determination...I don't think it's possible for anything to get in the way of what she wants. You're awesome, Jen, and you WILL qualify for Boston! :-)

My Garmin was not vibin' this new starting point on the Tow Path, and for whatever reason, took about a mile to acclimate. Since I really didn't feel like I had much faith in my Garmin, I decided for the first few miles I'd just run according to "feel." I didn't want to push it, but I didn't want to hold back too much either. Once my Garmin picked up, I was around a 7:30-7:40 pace. I decided to just stick to it for the rest of the 10. I was feelin' good, and I wasn't going 10K pace, or even 1/2 pace, so I wasn't concerned about over doing it. Towards the last few miles, the heat and humidity of the day started to kick in and I had to push to finish strong. I always, no matter what the conditions or how I feel, try to run the last part of my run the hardest. That's how I like to race as well. Once all was done, I ran my 10 miles in 1:16:00, 7:36min/mi pace. I hung out and chatted with Jen for a bit, did some stretching, drove home (got lost bc I'm a MORON), got in a little pool time, then got ready super quick to have a night out with the fam in DT Cleveland!
Progressive Field watching the Indian's play!

Me and sista!

Today, I did 30 minutes of cross-training on the elliptical and pilates (post-beer workouts are the WORST, but I did it!)

My plan for Week 2 is as follows (Based off of Hal Higdon's Advanced-2 Marathon Training Plan):

Monday: 30 minute tempo
Tuesday: 3 mile easy
Wednesday: 3 mile pace
Thursday: 5 mile easy (on Johnnycake course, hopefully!)
Friday: 11 miles
Saturday: rest
Sunday: Johnnycake Jog 5 miler

I've modified my week slightly to accommodate for the race I will be running on Sunday in Mentor. It's the Johnnycake Jog 5 miler, which is one of the most competitive short-distance races I've participated in. I'm READY for a little butt kicking, and hoping to get under 34 minutes!! I'm SO excited because my little brother will be running the 5K, too!!! WOO HOO!

Happy training everyone!!! 17 weeks til NYC!! :-)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Week 1: Friday- Restin' and reflectin'

These days are certainly the toughest. Beautiful and sunny accompanied by a light breeze. And, as odds would have it, it's my rest day. I was faithful to my body and resisted the running temptation. I have an amazing experience awaiting me in less than 18 weeks, and to get there I need to stick to my plan!

I made a very important purchase today that I recommend for ALL runners, bikers, and triathletes. It's called Road ID, and it's simply an identification bracelet. For as simple as it is, it's VERY important to have because you really never know what can happen when participating in a long distance event or in training. I never thought I needed to worry about anything happening to me while running, and I unfortunately had to learn the hard way that unpredictable things do happen. Back in March, I was getting ready for my Tuesday 5 mile easy run and was just not feeling 110%. I already had a banana and a granola bar on my way home from work, but decided to have an extra banana before I left to boost my energy level. It didn't work. As I was rounding mile 2 near Shaker Square, I started feeling worse. I felt dizzy, my legs got very heavy, I was seeing black spots, and I knew something was really wrong. I used my marathon "keep pushing" mentality, and the next thing I knew I was on a stretcher in the back of an ambulance. I was SO out of it and completely disoriented. The paramedics were asking me simple questions, like "what's the date? where do you live? who can we contact?" I was beyond frustrated with the paramedics because I could not answer their questions...I have no idea why but I just had no clue. I was insisting that they let me go and that I was fine, until one of the paramedics snapped at me and said, "How can we let you go if you don't even know where you live? We received multiple phone calls from people who saw you running past Shaker Square and thought you looked disoriented. Plus, we're really concerned because the doctor that found you thinks you had a seizure." I said, "What doctor?" And they said "ARE YOU SERIOUS? You were up and talking to him when we came." A good Samaritan doctor came to my rescue when I blacked out, and I had NO memory of this. Finally, I was sold on going to the hospital. Once I had an IV put in, my memory came back and I FINALLY remembered my parents number to have them meet me at the hospital. My chin was black and blue, and apparently I went down face first. No memory of it. :-( The doctors ran every test imaginable, and the only real conclusion that they could come to was that I was sodium-deficient. They think I had experienced a condition that results from overhydration. Whether or not this is the case, it was a wake up call for me. What if my memory didn't come back and I couldnt' get a hold of my parents? What would happen if I got hit by a car? What if I was out of state? I've been putting this important purchase off, but now those scary questions are answered because I will always wear my Road ID! I got the Wrist slim version Get it, if anything, to put your family's mind at ease!! They will appreciate it ( Mom will officially stop harassing me over it, lol).

SoOoOoO anywho, I'm feeling good and carb'ed up for my A.M. 10 mile long run on the Tow Path tomorrow with my friend Jen! Weather is looking good, and I'm planning on sticking around an 8:00min/mi pace. No races this weekend, so I'm excited for a flexible, social weekend!!! WOO HOO!!!!!! :-D

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Week 1: Thursday- 5 mile pace challenge!

Man, that was tough. Guess it's just been a while since I've done a pace run! My goal for this workout was to run 5 miles at my intended marathon pace, 7:30min/mi. The challenging part about maintaining this pace was that I could NOT for the life of me hit it. I kept putting out too much, and then when I'd ease up I'd be going too slow! I ran 5 miles in 35:49 at an average 7:10min/mi pace. That's TOO fast! Beh.

I chose a challenging course with a mix of uphill and downhills to practice maintaining my pace on both. Both pose opposite challenges: uphill- keeping up the pace but not putting it all out (you shouldn't put a 100% effort on the uphill in a'll burn yourself out), and downhill- staying on pace without flying with the momentum and burning up my legs without even realizing it. I was definitely speedy on the dramatic downhills (~6:40min/mi) and booked it up the Cedar Hill uphill climb (~7:00min/mi for most and then slowed it down as my legs were burning as I got to the top to ~7:50min/mi). After this big uphill (around mile 1.5), I was nervous I'd lose my pace  and I was simply  just going too fast...and I knew it! (~6:50min/mi). So I tried to slow down, and my Garmin showed 8:00min/ I picked it back up and was back near 7:00min/mi...and then tried to slow down and was at about a 7:50min/mi! AHHH! Once mile 3 came around and I knew I was going too fast, I gave up on getting to the perfect pace and decided to stick around 7:00min/mi. I always like finishing the end part of my run faster than the beginning (with the exception of tempos), so I didn't want to slow down at that point.

When I finished, I couldn't believe how hard it was for me to maintain the right pace! I think a large part of this comes from my racing streak over the past few weeks. I'm grateful for the speedy legs, but I'm not yet at the point in my running career to run a super fast marathon. Especially not on a hilly marathon course like NYC. Although my running "instinct" is telling me to put it out there, I'll save it for when I feel ready for it!!! Someday...sooner than later :-D For now, once I figure out how to get back to a 7:30min/mi, I will be GOLDEN. I'm bound to get under 3:20 this fall!

And, again, that's why pace workouts are SO important! You need to get not just your body in shape for the marathon, but also your mind! Today was more of a mental workout than a physical workout.

Looking forward to resting my legs tomorrow! Saturday I'll be heading out to the Tow Path to get a good 10 miles with my friend Jen! My planned pace is around an 8:00min/mi. The Tow Path is a flat, soft trail so it'll likely be a little bit faster...but I'll try to stay under 7:50min/mi.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Week 1: Wednesday- early AM tempo "runs"

I got in my 30 minute tempo run early this morning so I'd feel refreshed and alert for the chemistry test I had this afternoon. The last time I did a 6am run, I had the same problem I had today-- the runs, LITERALLY! (I said this was a candid journal...hahaa). My first AM "runs" experience was a few weeks ago, and I had to run into Phoenix coffee mid-run or else I would not have been able to finish. Today, I finished my run but it was very uncomfortable. I tried really hard to just focus on my pace, and not the discomfort, but it was nearly impossible. I did finish the 30 minutes...did a 10 minute warm up, picked up the pace to about a 6:50/7:00min/mi until about 25 minutes in, and ran an UNEASY remaining few minutes home. I think I need to start getting up WAY early for my AM runs (right now 5am is WAY early, although that is my normal wake up in the I can do it!). Tomorrow is scheduled to be a not-too-hot day, so I'm not worried about a super early run. We've been so lucky with a relatively mild summer here in CLE. I can only hope it'll stay this way!!!

I'll be tossing around my "rest" day based on when I need it. Right now, it's scheduled for Thursday. I'm going to move it to Friday and I'm going to do my 5 mile pace run tomorrow. I believe the pace run to be one of the most important workouts I do in my 18 weeks training. It trains you mentally and physically to run your MARATHON pace. I stress marathon because you don't want to get carried away...doesn't need to be faster, and certainly not slower, just marathon pace! It's on the "easier" side right now since it's only at 5 miles, but it'll pick up to 10 miles later on in my training. It's a challenging and significant workout. I like going into this workout with fresh legs, so I'll likely move my rest days back to Thursday as my training progresses.

The Chardon 5K folks took LOTS of pics Saturday! Here are a few new ones:


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Week 1: Tuesday- Make-up Hill Work!

I'm so glad I made the decision to do my easy run yesterday and hill work today! I was feeling great and had my running "spunk" to do some good work on the pavement. The hill I decided to do my repeats on is just under 400 meters and pretty steep. I chose this hill because it has a sidewalk. So, if for some CRAZY reason something were to happen mid-run, I wouldn't end up in the way of traffic. Plus, it reminds me a lot of the infamous Heart Break Hill that comes past the 20 mile mark at the Boston Marathon. One of my favorite memories of Boston, believe it or not, was at Heart Break Hill. There were several big hills prior to Heart Break from about mile 16-20, so I didn't know what to expect with the big finale. As I was running up it, unaware that this was THEE Heart Break Hill, I saw big broken hearts chalked into the road. I thought "waiiiiiiiit is this it??" As I got to the top, I asked this guy running next to me. He was DYING and looked at me and said, "Your first Boston, huh? YES IT IS!!" I started jumping up and down, dancing in the street, and ran into another guy hahaaaaa. He wasn't mad was very clear I was an over-eager first-timer!! But, WOW that was the best feeling of accomplishment! I pretty much danced/ran my way to the finish line. It was so much fun :-)...probably could have pushed a little more for a better time, but oh well!
Okay, back to today. I did a light 1.5 mile jog to the hill, and then got the ball rolling. I focused mainly on my effort, not specific pace, for this workout. I pushed 110% up, and then did a light jog back. I repeated this 3 times. I definitely put out too much too soon on the hills. I started out on my first repeat around a 6:20min/mi, and finished at about a 7:00min/mi. By my third repeat, I started around a 6:40min/mi and finished at about a 7:30min/mi. After all was done, I did a light jog home. I ran a total of 5 miles.

For my next hill work out, I'm going to try to start out at a moderate pace, and then pick it up as I go. I was a little too enthusiastic today!

Tomorrow: 30 minute tempo and pilates (I'll try to do core work twice a week...I'll like toss it in where I have time! Ideally, I'll do it on my easy days).

Monday, July 4, 2011

Week 1: Monday- 1st day switcharoo!


My plan for today was to get the ball rolling with some good hill work. Unfortunately, my body was not feeling the plan at all. I woke up with SUPER sore thighs and calves, and just didn't have the "spunk" I usually have before speed work. Although I loved winning $50 at the Chardon 5K Saturday, I've definitely gone a little over-board with all of the racing. I've run 4 5K's and a 10K over the past six weeks. It's been fun, but I think I over-did it with this last hilly 5K. There is something definitely addicting about racing...I just love it :-D But, I will DEF. NOT be racing at all this weekend. I need a break!

Anywho, I decided to switch up my plans for this week a bit to give my legs an extra day of recuperation. I did the 3 mile easy run scheduled for tomorrow, and will be doing my hill work tomorrow. I often switch up my schedule when my body calls for it, but I just about never skip a workout. However, if you need to, the world will NOT end if you do. Just don't make it a habit...and try not to take off more than 2 days in a row.

My first mile was a little slow (up Fairmount hill) but I picked it up after and ran an easy, smooth 3 miles! When I got home, I did about an hour of Pilates and stretched for quite a while. I went to the pool after, and did some stretching in the water ( p. 52 in this month's Runner's World has some great pool stretches!). Then, did some UNHEALTHY cookout consumption (I haven't had a burger in a while, and here and there it's good to get in the extra iron). Diet starts tomorrow. :-)

HAPPY 4TH EVERYONE!! Go on a run tonight...because you are FREE to do so!!!!!!!! :-D

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sunday- 18 weeks til NYC!

Had a pretty good 8 mile easy run this morning! My legs are definitely SPENT from the 5K yesterday, so I was happy to get in an easy 1:05:36, 8:12min/mi.

Today marks the final day of my rest and recovery (yes, if you've been following my blog, although I continue running in my "off" time it is just that!). In what will be a quick 18 weeks, I'll have checked off yet another phenomenonal experience from my running bucket list- the ING New York City Marathon! I'm so excited and honored to have the opportunity to be apart of such an amazing international event.

I have three main goals that I hope to accomplish at NYC:
(1) to HAVE FUN! Out of town marathons can be pretty stressful with travel, hotel stay, eating out, walking too much, overwhelming expos, and TONS AND TONS of people. This will likely be my only NYC Marathon experience, so I want to soak it in and enjoy every second of it!
(2) to run a "smart" marathon. I hope to hold a solid, consistent pace throughout the marathon at 7:30min/mi.
(3) to finish under 3:20.

I will be using Hal Higdon's Advanced-2 Marathon Training plan. You can access all of his plans on his website:  I used this plan for the Marine Corps Marathon last year and really liked it. It's definitely challenging, and I've modified it slightly to fit what works best for me. I've shifted the days I will be doing the workouts up a day (I like doing my long runs on Saturdays, so I've shifted everything up one day). I also prefer to do some form of cross-training in place of an easy run, so I'll be running 5 days a week instead of 6. I do plan on doing everything else as it's listed in the plan (including all three 20 milers. I plan on doing the Columbus Marathon in place of the final 20 miler).

I have a few "tune up" races that I will definitely be doing in my preparation for NYC:
(1) Johnnycake Jog 5 miler- 7/17/11
(2) Perfect-10 miler 8/14/11
(3) River Run 1/2 Marathon- 9/11/11
(4) Columbus Marathon- 10/16/11
**I'll likely do a few 5Ks and possibly throw another 1/2 marathon in there. But these are for sure!

Here is my run-down for Week 1:
Monday: 3xhill
Tuesday: 3 mile easy (+pilates)
Wednesday: 30 min tempo
Thursday: rest
Friday: 5 mile pace
Saturday: 10 mile
Sunday: 30 min cross-train (+pilates)

I plan on taking good care of my body throughout training. That means lots of stretching before and after my runs, eating well, reducing my alcohol consumption to beer only (no more wine/rum and diets...they destroy my body...and my decision-making hahaaa), developing a strong core and toning up my entire body, resting, and listening to my body!

I'm very excited to start this journey!! I will do my best to blog every day. Once the school year begins and I'm crazy busy, it will be a challenge. I definitely hope to help more than just myself with this marathon, so I will try hard to do stay on top of it!!

In closing and beginning yet another chapter in my running life, I'll end today's post with a beautiful quote my Mom shared with me today:

"Promise me you'll always remember...
You're BRAVER than you believe,
and STRONGER than you seem,
and SMARTER than you think"~ Christopher Robin to Pooh :-D

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Saturday- Chardon Race For Education 5K!

Turned out to be a not too shabby day for a race! ;-D

Woke up this morning on time at 6:20am, but was feeling somewhat disheveled  trying to get myself ready after the WEIRDEST dream I had before I woke up. In my dream, it was the night before the Columbus Marathon (I'm running Cbus before NYC in case you didn't know!) and I was babysitting for my x-boyfriend from many years ago (WEIRD). His baby was a girl with his EXACT face, and needless to say, this made for a quite distorted looking baby. I went to bed without putting the baby to bed, and woke up in my dream with the baby STARING at me because I didn't put it to bed (WEIRD!). I ended up leaving to head out to the marathon and there was a HUGE tornado. I decided I was going to run the marathon regardless, and ended up getting caught in the wind and was FLYING. LOL. I grabbed on to a tree branch and just prayed to God the storm would let up for the marathon. It did. And then I woke up. WEIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRD!

I was trying to analyze the dream as I was getting ready, and the next thing I know it's 7:15am! The race started at 8:30am and was a good 50 minute drive (at least) according to google maps, assuming I didn't get lost (...I have a tendency of getting lost, especially before races hahaaaa). So, I was eating, drinking coffee and water, and driving like a mad woman. Fortunately, it only ended up taking me 45 minutes to get there. So, with 30 minutes I had plenty of time to get my race packet, do a warm up, and sneak in a few trips to the Port-a-Potty, LOL. The weather was okay, 70 degrees and a little humid and on/off rainy (no need for the new shades, BOO!) I spotted a few fast chicas and knew I was in for some good competition. There were cash prize awards, $100 for first, $50 for second, and $25 for third...and I WANTED to place either 1st or 2nd for this one. I never typically run competitively, and am usually surprised to find I win races. But for this one, I decided to step it up a bit. I decided I was going to ditch my "safe" sub-20 plan and run like a competitor.

I did my warm up in my new shoes and was feeling great and ready to roll! I got up to the start line, and the announcer announced that the race was going to be post-poned until 9am. I tried VERY hard to not get super annoyed, but I was definitely frustrated. I decided to shake off the frustration, and head over to the track for a few more warm up laps. Finally, 9am rolled around and it was time to go! As soon as the gun went off, there was the normal rush of runners going out too fast so I held back a little but kept an eye on the girls that were ahead of me. As the first .5miles went by, I stuck at a 6:00min/mi and eventually swooped past a few quick start ladies. I could see only two girls ahead of me, one about 20 seconds ahead and another about 5. I snuck up to the girl that was about 5 seconds ahead, and she was NOT happy to see me. She pushed about a 5:50min/mi, and I watched her form and it was obvious this was not a comfortable pace for her. I ran with her for about a minute and decided to back off because I knew I'd eventually be able to pass her. I stayed right behind her, and waited for the perfect opportunity to get into 2nd place. We climbed over an uncomfortable hill around mile 1.25. This felt like the right time to pass her,  and as we approached the downhill, I did it and pushed ahead of her. I made it hurt and ran about a 5:50-6:00 min/mi for a good .5 miles. I wanted to get a good distance from her, because I didn't think she'd be able to catch me if I did. Once I got to about 2.00 miles and the rolling hills kept coming at me, I was paying for that quick boost. I didn't remember all of these hills from last year!! I just gave it all I had and told myself I'd put in the extra push if she (or another girl) caught me. To avoid getting anxious, I reminded myself that  everyone was running these hills and stayed calm although I was WAY off pace (about 7:25min/mi at one point). I slowly got back to a decent pace (about 6:30ish) around 2.5 miles but was hurting. Once I saw the finish was about .25 miles, I shut off the Ipod and booked it (about a 5:50min/mi!...don't know where it came from because I was dying). I crossed the finish and snatched 2nd overall female! I'm pretty sure my official finish time was 20:13, 6:30min/mi. I didn't get under 20 minutes, but I ran competitively for the first time ever and also P.R.'d on the course (ran 20:28 last year). I NEED to focus on my hill work in my NYC training. I want to run a race and say, "I kicked those hills' butts!" Hill training is a part of Hal's Advanced-2 training, so I will be doing it once every 3 weeks. I will be putting in 110% for those workouts!!

Nephew approval of the $50 prize!
So, overall, good race. I need to: (a) work on hills and (b) get under 20 minutes in my next 5K!!! I was hoping to get under 19 minutes at some point this summer, but I need to get back to 20 minutes first. I'll be doing an 8 mile easy long run tomorrow, and then my official NYC Training starts Monday!!! I'll post my first week schedule tomorrow, and also a list of races I plan on running over the 18 weeks. VERY excited to get started!! :-D

Friday, July 1, 2011

Friday- Rockin' new kicks!

Yeahhhhhhhhh got some new kicks today!! Drove down to Fleet Feet-Northfield and got a brand new pair of Mizunos to get my NYC Marathon training started! When it comes to buying running shoes, it's ESSENTIAL that you go to a running store with knowledgeable employees to ensure you get the perfect shoe. It goes without saying that a proper shoe is the most important component in running well and injury-free. That is why I drive out to Northfield to get my running shoes. A good friend of mine from work, Laura Bell, told me about Fleet Feet a few years ago, and I'm so glad. The workers are runners and coaches themselves, very helpful, knowledgeable, and friendly. They examine your foot, your old running shoes, and watch you run to find the shoe that is the best fit for you. I've been wearing Mizuno Wave Inspire for all six marathons, but I went with the Mizuno Wave Rider this time. The Fleet Feet guy took a glance at my old shoes, watched me run, and recommended I make the switch. The Inspires are designed for overpronators (which I thought I was!'s when you run more on the inside of your feet), but by watching me run he could tell right away that I don't at all. In fact, I superpronate (run on the outside of my feet) a bit! I looked at some of my old running shoes when I got home, and just about all of them showed much more wear on the outside of my shoes. CRAZY!
New shoes next to my newly retired ones!

I picked some cool running shades when I was there, too! I've been wanting to get running sunglasses for a while. All of the sun's UV rays aren't just dangerous for your skin, but also your eyes. I spend so many hours in the sunshine running, and when it's super hot I don't like wearing hats.  So, I'm excited to try out my new, cool sunglasses!! Oh, and these sunglasses are also good for anti-aging purposes...need to do what I can to reduce the prominence of those crow's feet!
Cooooooooool new shades!

I also picked up some gels, and (dare I admit) body glide. No matter how much weight I lose while training (I was 110lbs for most of 2010 and I'm 5'5"), I still chafe! Gross, I know, but thank God for body glide. I put it on my arms and legs every time before I run and it works like a charm! It's awesome, so if you don't have it, get it!! And if you don't chafe, consider yourself VERY lucky!!

I'm always sad to retire an old pair of shoes. They've been there with me through it all...every speed training session, easy run, beautiful long run, bad day, and each step of the marathon. I'm too emotional, lol, and I recognize this. But, my running shoes mean a whole lot to me. :-D

Although I'm not a fan of trying anything new race day, I will be breaking in my new kicks tomorrow at the Chardon 5K! The forecast for the race is low 70s and rain. Not too terrible, but not fantastic either. I read an article in Running Times that recommends consuming lots of electrolytes a few days before racing on a hot day. So, I made sure to drink a gatorade today and I hope that helps!! Fingers crossed for some sunshine so I can rock the new shades, too! :-D