Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Week 3 Tow Path Marathon- Just Do It

Week 3 of my Tow Path Marathon Training was crazy busy, needless to say, as I was preparing and celebrating the marriage of my sister and her now husband! In between all of the craziness, of course, I got in my miles! When life's busy, running tends to take a back burner. It's more about just doing the miles than actually planning them out in the ideal way I'd like. So, in the madness that was week 3, here’s what I got out of it:

Monday: I had my much needed speed intervals, 4X800. I had errands to run in the morning, so I ended up doing this workout in the late morning heat and humidity. I probably should have just held off until the sunset, but I was worried something would have come up for the wedding that could have compromised that. So, I grabbed my water and was out the door into the sauna that was the great outdoors! Despite having no muscle soreness, my legs were definitely depleted from the weekend. Regardless, I pushed through each repeat trying to stay as close as possible to anything under a 6:10ish pace.  Following two 5ks in one week and a long run, I wasn’t too disappointed with the workout!

Tuesday: My designated cross-training day! I headed to the gym, and initially did a 1 mile light jog on the treadmill to get my muscles warmed up and my stomach in check. Morning weekday workouts are a big adjustment for me, since I tend to be more of a late-afternoon runner during the school year.  After my warm up, I did some stretching and crunches. I followed this up with 30 minutes on the elliptical and 30 minutes on the bike. I left the gym drenched in sweat---mission accomplished!

Wednesday: I had a 30 minute tempo on the schedule, and I had no choice but to get this one in early. In addition to an afternoon filled with wedding stuff, it was forecasted to be well into the 90s. I was out the door by 8:30am, which was not early enough! I’m not sure if it was the stress of the upcoming afternoon and weekend, my queasy stomach, lack of good sleep the night prior, or the heat, but this tempo was a challenge. I did a 10 minute warm up, and then eased into 15 minutes around a 6:40 pace, and then finished with a 5 minute cool down. I only ended up covering 3.82 miles, which is likely from playing it safe on the 6:40.

Thursday: 6 miles at marathon pace on a forecasted 90 degree+ day was on the agenda, and I was up bright and early for this one! I wanted to stay as close to a 7:15min/mi as possible, being that my last pace run was a tad fast at 7:08. I had to be at the airport at noon and my sister’s rehearsal was that evening, so I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to recover post-workout. Last year, I ended up having a massive migraine after this same exact workout on a hot day. I had NO TIME for a migraine, so I was out at the door at 7:30am. But, it was not early enough! It was very hot and uncomfortable, but the first mile and a half that are flat were okay. As soon as I started hitting the hills, my pace dropped dramatically. I couldn’t find it in me to push beyond what my body would give me, so I ended up sticking around 7:30 up until about mile 4. Once I hit the downhill, I picked the pace up again and tried to give as much as I could until I got home. I ended up finishing 44:14, 7:22min/mi. I was off my average mile, but not by much considering the heat. I felt okay after the run, but a few hours later felt VERY depleted. It didn’t lead to a migraine, but I took a nap in the afternoon and was good to go for the rehearsal! OH, and my big toe nail ended up falling off!

All six of us brothers and sisters-- crazy family, indeed! :-D
With the bride!

Bride and groom sandwich!

Friday: Although this is normally my day of rest, I used this as my long run day. I was not going to have time on Saturday to do this with the wedding, so I really didn’t have much of a choice. It was much cooler Friday morning, but still humid. I wanted to take this waaaaaay easy, since it was only 8 miles and I’ve had a few hard workouts over the last few weeks. I did just that for the majority of the run, but pushed hard the last 1.5 miles around a 6:20ish pace. I ended up running 1:04:11, averaging a 8:01min/mi. The pedicure ended up working out great! The guy just painted over the skin, and didn’t seem too grossed out by it. I guess they’re used to seeing crazy looking feet, lol.
Before pedicure...
...and after! Talk about a miracle haaa :-D

Saturday: Sister’s wedding! The weather was gorgeous, and it couldn’t have been more of a perfect day! My feet definitely took a beating with my fierce heels, but I got in some great cross-training with all of the dancing we did that night haaa!
Gorgeous bride!
Wedding party!

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My baby nephew Tommy...
With the bride!!
Sisters with our fav Uncle Paul!

Sunday: OWwWwWwW. My feet were killing me, I was incredibly sleep-deprived, and out of balance. I ended up doing a late afternoon 5 mile easy run at 41:31, 8:18min/mi. Usually, running after a night of adult beverages helps to clear out my system. I had the opposite reaction, and just felt worse! I was in bed early, and not fully recovered until about Tuesday. YIKES!

I ended up covering 28.82 miles finishing up this week, and am looking forward to stepping it up in week 4! I have no strict plans this week, so my "just do it" mentality will not be driving my workouts. I also have no specific races on the agenda, and so I am looking forward to just getting in some good, hard training runs!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Week 2 Tow Path Marathon Run Down

I’m two weeks down from my Tow Path Marathon training. I’ve blogged periodically about my racing adventures over the past week, but this is what I’ve been doing in in the meantime:

On Monday, I had a 30 minute tempo on the schedule. I got this one in early because I had lunch/pool plans with one of my dear college friends, Melissa, and wanted to be able to enjoy the visit without the workout on my mind.  I haven't run early training runs, with the exception of my long runs, since last summer so these workouts will take some getting used to. It was a slow start and my stomach wasn’t feeling great, but once I got through my 10 minute warm-up, I was ready to roll! I stuck around a 6:40ish pace for 15 minutes, then dropped down to an easy pace all the way home. I ended up adding in 10 more easy minutes, and covered 5.07 miles in total. I followed the run up with a little strength training and pilates.

Tuesday is my designated cross-training day. I did a 1 mile easy warm up on the treadmill to get my legs loosened up, followed up by 40 minutes on the elliptical, and 20 minutes on the bike. It was an awesome workout, and I REALLY worked up a major sweat! In between the bike and elliptical, I did some crunches.

Wednesday was the Flag Day 5k. Results are finally in, and my official finish was 20:17, 6:31min/mi—one second faster than last year. Ha!

Thursday I surprisingly had no muscle soreness at all! I didn’t even feel as if I ran a 5k the night before, but still took it easy on my run. I ran 5 miles easy at an average 8:17min/mi pace. Similar to Monday, I followed up my run with some strength training and pilates.

Friday was my day of rest. Although running wasn’t on the agenda, I did lots of walking at Crocker Park in efforts to find a dress for my sister’s rehearsal dinner that is quickly approaching! Unfortunately, I was feeling pretty under the weather for whatever reason. I ended up having major stomach issues after lunch, and spent the rest of the afternoon in bed. BLEH!

Saturday was the Captain’s Charities 5k. My official finish was 19:42, 6:20 min/mi. Unfortunately, I had a MAJOR headache post-race that lead into the evening. It wasn’t a migraine, but it was definitely very uncomfortable. I really hadn't been feeling 110% all week, so I'm wondering if I had some kind of bug.

Sunday, fortunately, I awoke without a headache and was once again graced with no post-5k muscle soreness! I ran a solid 11 miles on the Tow Path. I started out easy and picked up the pace gradually throughout the run. I got in a strong finish, and averaged a 7:49min/mi in 1:26:01. I felt great throughout the run, and even better after. I felt very accomplished completing two fairly strong 5ks and getting in a long run in one week! I covered 29.27 miles this week in total. With the low early mileage as directed by Hal Higdon, now is the time to get in as many 5ks as I can!

Week 3 includes my sister wedding, so I will be one busy lady! I’ll try to blog randomly throughout the week, but can’t make any promises!

OH, and this Friday—I will be getting my first pedicure in YEARS. Yes, years. As a lady runner, I take pride in the fact that my feet are not the pretties of the bunch. Yes, pride. My feet are representative of the heart and soul I dedicate to running. I feel the same way about my booty. HA! JK--- Seriously though, as far as my feet go, I find it comical whenever I polish them. It’s like putting make up on an ugly dude. LOL. With this sentiment, I just stay away from the humiliation of getting a pedicure. But, for my sister’s wedding, I’m left with no choice. It's more of a girlie bonding experience than anything (and the guys will be bonding over golf and beers, LOL). My concern lies mainly with that big toe nail that took a turn for the worst at the CLE ½ Marathon.  It’s now on the edge of glory, literally, but is still hanging on. It definitely isn’t looking good, and I’m not sure what to do with it. Any runners out there have suggestions on what to do with damaged toe nails when getting a pedicure???  
"I can't quit you!" say the Nail to the Toe. haaaaa :-D

I think I may make that picture my facebook profile picture. I think it tells a lot more about me than my face does. Sexy and I know it. :-D I'm sure this will get me LOTS of dates this summer!! OoOoO la la--I'll let ya know how that works out for me. HA!
Happy OFFICIAL summer everyone (as of Wednesday!!!)! :-D

Saturday, June 16, 2012

We Run the Night :-)

SO, after my latest 5K adventure Wednesday night that had me questioning my fundamental views of racing, I decided to pop in another one on Saturday. I appreciate the challenge that difficult 5Ks present, but they always leave me wondering how I could have done had the course been flat and fast. SO, in addition to channeling my inner competitor, I wanted to see what kind of spark my legs REALLY had in them.
Race start at the Flag Day 5k--where's waldo??? :-)

I decided to run the Captain’s Charity 5K because it was advertised as flat and fast, AND it was only five minutes away. I planned to get there a bit early so I could register, use the restroom, and get in a good warm up because I was up against my biggest competitor and needed to be prepared. Who is this crazy perfectionist competitor getting me all psyched up to kick butt this morning??? Well, DUH--- ME!!! J The truth is, and with all people, I truly believe our best competitor is ourselves. Upon reflection over the last few days, I think my self-competitive ways of being have been doing me right. It’s just not me to worry about the rankings of anyone else; I’m only concerned with how I’m doing relative to ME.  That’s just who I am. Sorry, Darwin! :-) 

So, my goal was to get close to 19:30. I haven’t done any kind of speed training in months (SHAME ON ME!!) so I didn’t want to hold my heart to close to it. Anything under 20:00 and I was going to be a happy girl. After I registered, I ran out to the race course. I did some jumping jacks, stretched a bit, then did a mile warm up. I included a few 200 meter sprints to get my legs loosened up. I hate starting a race with stiff legs! The course looked flat as suggested, although a bit windy, so I knew I had the power to get under 20:00 if I ran smart.

After my warm up, I hopped on over to the race start and felt totally ready to go. All of the runners lined up, the horn went off, and off we went!! I made sure to relax and stick to a comfortable pace for the first few meters. 5k races always have the mad dash runners for the first half mile that crash when they realize the pace is out of their league. I always get anxious holding back. But, in every race as I start passing runners one by one, it's always apparent that sticking to a pace in my league pays off in the long run! So, I kept that in mind and I stuck to about a 6:10 pace. There was one female ahead of me in the first mile, but I let her do her thing. I was racing the clock and wasn’t worrying about anything else. As I crossed the first mile marker, I was at 6:11 which pleased me. Wednesday, I was at 5:55 and I didn’t have the finish I wanted. So, with my conservative start, I felt confident. As I came to a turn around, I ended up passing the girl who had been in front of me. She didn’t even attempt to stick with me, and soon I was catching up with some boys with various race plans. Some dropped behind, one flew ahead, and one stuck just a tad in front of me until the finish. I think I was his motivation---he wouldn’t want to lose to a girl!

As I got to mile 1.5, I started getting those “oOoOooOoO half way there, this is where you could choke” thoughts in my head. I immediately started thinking of that super fun new Pitbull song that I was dancing to on the car ride to the race (…and for all these years, I thought coffee was the key to my morning perkiness. Apparently I don’t need it after all!! Haaaa).  I think it's called "We Run the Night." It's sOoOoO peppy and fun! :-) It got me out of that potential funk and kept me on pace. I kept a close eye on my watch, not letting my pace sink anything below 6:30, and holding close to the 6:20s. Once I got into mile 2, I was confident that I was going to break 20:00 but knew I had to keep pushing. I definitely was feeling the pain, but had enough in me to keep chugging. The boy that was a tad in front of me was feeling it, and I felt like I started giving into his pace a bit. It's really easy to do that, especially towards the end of the race when you're tired. AND, that's why it's SO important to RUN YOUR OWN RACE!! ;-) We rounded the corner into the Captain’s Stadium, and I pushed across the finish line. I finished 19:42, 6:20min/mi and was first overall female!

I didn't break 19:30, but did get under 20:00 so I was very excited! The race was a good confidence booster for me, and a reminder of the benefits of conservative pacing. Any race of any distance I’ve been truly successful in, it has come down to proper pacing. If I go out too fast in the heat of the moment, it throws off the entire race. Even in races where I’ve run fast times (CLE Marathon 2010, I ran a 3:18, but paced it ALL wrong and the second half was pure misery), conservative early miles or meters are essential. I do want to get under 19:30, in fact, I want to get under 19:00! But to do that, I need to get back on the track. I will be their Monday morning!! :-)

As for tomorrow, I will be up bright and early for 11 miles on the Tow Path wrapping week 2 of my Tow Path Marathon training! Just an FYI for those interested, I will be once again using Hal Higdon’s Advanced 2 Marathon Training Plan this time around. I had a pretty successful fall using that plan, (and potentially spring, but had to stop in the middle due to my stupid health issues!) so I plan to stick with it.  I will blog a week 2 recap tomorrow!

It’s Saturday night---stop reading this blog post and go run the night!!! :-D

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Nice guys finish last?

So, what makes a competitor? If you have an answer to this question, feel free to comment away!

I’ve been pondering this question for the past few hours, as I completed the Flag Day 5K in Mentor and finished in 2nd place. I’m not disappointed with my finish. It’s a fun race on a tough course, and my beautiful nephew and sis-in-law were there to see me race! However, this race experience has forced me to reflect on something I definitely lack. For whatever reason, I just do not have any desire to compete with anyone else other than myself. Being the science geek I am, I believe this to be potentially problematic regarding my ability to really reach my fullest potential as a runner from a Darwinian perspective. Darwin suggested the Theory of Natural Selection; organisms best suited for survival will do just that and reproduce, others less fit will die out. Species, overtime, will improve in their fitness accordingly. This battle for survival in the constantly changing environment is driven by competition. Therefore, innate competition forces species to become better. Although clearly on a much smaller scale, with this idea in mind, if I could dig deep to my inner instincts to compete with other runner’s that are as fast and faster than me, I will be driven to become a better runner. ?

I am a major perfectionist when it comes to the things I’m passionate about; specifically teaching and running. When it comes to teaching, I have zero percent desire to compete with other teachers. My focus is 110% on doing what’s best for the kids, and I’m more than happy to share everything I have to help ensure other teachers do the same. I’ve had a great deal of success in my profession in a short period of time with this mentality, but is this philosophy applicable in all aspects of my life? I’m not sure!

When it comes to running, my philosophy is the same. That is why I started my blog! There is nothing I’m unwilling to share with another runner to help them be successful, and I have no desire to ever discontinue doing that. Even on the race course. When I started running back in 2008, competition never crossed my mind. I never imagined I’d get good enough to place in my age group, let alone win races. I remember running my first 5K in 2010, and the guys at the finish told me I was the first overall female. I'd never run a 5K before,  was in complete shock, and had no clue the entire race. LOL! As I’ve been in this competition with myself to become a better runner, I’ve been able to do just that!

So, what has me questioning my inner-competitor? Today, as I ran the Flag Day 5K in Mentor, a hilly course that always kicks my butt but has me coming back year after year, I was neck and neck with a chica for the majority of the race. The course is tricky; the first mile begins with a big downhill and leads to a flat straight away, followed by a turn around with a gradual incline leading into a big hill, a turn around that leads into a downhill, and the third mile is mostly uphill and then downhill to the finish. I went out super fast knowing the first mile was the easy mile, and then just tried to hold on the rest of the race.

The chica clearly had a similar mentality, and was running about a 6:00ish pace in the first mile. She looked pretty comfortable, but I wanted a fast first mile and didn’t want to run anyone else’s race and passed her early on. I know that if I were to run this competitively, I should just stick behind her and pass her later on when the course gets tough. But, I ignored that instinct. I had the lead crossing the first mile marker, 5:55. Knowing this was waaaaaaaay too fast for the upcoming hills, I backed off a little. As we approached the first hill, I backed off waaaay too much. A dude crept up on me, and then eventually the chica did. She passed me, which I was okay with because I just wanted to run my own race. I don’t know why this doesn’t light a fire in me??? But, it doesn’t. I kept chugging, and ended up catching up with her and before I passed her told her she looked great. She asked if there were any more hills, and I warned her of the approaching hills. I can’t help it. I’m too nice and would rather be friendly on the course than competitive! J She was slightly trailing behind me, and pulled ahead going into the 3rd mile. I should have stayed close behind, but didn’t. I let her go. The official times aren’t out yet, but I definitely know I could have run faster. She’s an awesome runner, but not out of my league. The race results aren't in yet, but we were both in the low 20:00s I believe. I wish that would have driven me to push harder! So, my question is, how does one tap into the innate desire of all living things to be competitive?

This isn’t the only race I finished knowing I definitely could have ran more competitively. I discussed this with my Mom tonight, and her response was, “MP, you’re too nice—that’s just who you are and why I love you!” Very sweet Mom I have. J So, am I being too hard on myself, and should continue with my self-competitive ways? Or, do nice guys finish last???

Flag Day 5K- 2nd overall female!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Laundry and blogging!

It’s a rainy start to my official summer, so I suppose what would be better than some laundry and blogging?!? I’ve fallen behind in my blogging, with very little free time as I’ve been finishing up yet another school year and getting everything ready for my sister’s wedding. In the meantime, I’ve commenced on another 18 weeks to 26.2 and am planning on running the Tow Path Marathon on October 7!

Saying good-bye to another group of amazing seniors!

Jeness and I with some more amazing ones!!

Celebrating the bachelorette days of my sis!
After my last blog post on my CLE wounds, I really started putting an emphasis on focusing on maintaining a positive attitude with running as well as many other aspects of my life. It’s easy to get caught up in negative thoughts. It’s even easier to blame negativity on circumstances or other people. But the truth is—YOU decide how you want to feel. Negativity is such a waste of time and energy, and I’m not a fan of wasting my time on anything!

So, with my focus on all that is good, I decided to run a 4 miler on Memorial Day in University Heights on the campus of my good ol' Alma Mater John Carroll University. This is where my love of running began, as I used to wind through the beautiful neighbors with my Discman (remember those things??? WOW I’m old!) and get myself lost. I was very excited simply to reminisce on the undoubtedly gorgeous course. Although it was another upper 80s day of terrible running weather <but amazing for everything else weather>, I decided I’d at least go out there to be a part of a fun race atmosphere without any unrealistic expectations. I definitely wanted to push myself as always, but had no to desire to run anything under a 6:40min/mi pace with the wicked weather conditions. Plus, I’m not a huge fan of 4 mile races. I feel like I can’t get the same “kick” that I get with 5Ks. So, 6:40 pace was my goal.

When we lined up at the race start, the race director made an announcement encouraging all of the runners to take it easy with the extreme weather conditions. Although my adrenaline is always flowing toeing the line prior to a race, I knew I’d need to back off. I was already sweating from my warm-up, was still in recovery mode from the CLE 1/2, and just wanted to get in a good workout. So, sparkling in my red, white, and blue, the horn went off---and I completely ignored him, haaaa! Unintentionally, at least…

I started out with a pack of boys that I could tell were definitely pushing the pace and were unexperienced—just not your typical male runners. Their huffing and puffing was annoying the crap out of me, so I picked up the pace to get a decent distance from them that I knew they wouldn’t be able to recover from. As a consequence, I crossed the first mile marker at 6:10---OOOOOOPS!! I immediately dropped my pace WAY BACK and maintained about a 6:40 pace throughout mile two. Into mile three, there were some gradual inclines and I started biting my own dust. It was VERY toasty on the course, and I took this mile WAAAAAAAY too easy, probably close to a 7:00 pace---EEEK! I ended up getting passed by a dude with a running stroller, LOL! The universe sure as heck has a hilarious sense of humor. J But, once I got into mile 4, I was hurting but was able to push for a strong finish. I ended up clocking in as first overall female, with a 27:23, 6:51min/mi. I missed my goal, but I got a nice little trophy, and it was a good excuse to eat lots of ribs for dinner that night!! Plus, it was nice to reflect on how much I've accomplished since my JCU days, and how you really never know what God has planned for you. I never anticipated being a teacher, and my love and passion for my job is greater than I ever could have imagined. I NEVER would have thought I would be a "runner" beyond my jogging to pass the time, and running has become such a significant part of my life. In my little reflection time at JCU, I left feeling so happy and hopeful for the great things to come in the future! It is never too late for great things to happen in your life. You just have to be willing to take the steps to MAKE things happen! :-)
Hot trophy (literally, it was hot out there, bahaaa)!

Since then, I’ve gotten some new kicks and have completed week 1 of my Tow Path Marathon training! I chose the Tow Path because it’s local and truly low-key, unlike Cleveland which has grown into a mid-sized marathon mania. I won’t need to book any flights, hotels, worry about pre-race food, walking too much, etc. I love big city marathons, but they can be really overwhelming and exhausting. I’m excited to run a marathon where my focus is only on the marathon!
Lookin' good!!!

I ran my first long run with my good friend Jen on Saturday. I haven’t run with anyone since the fall, so it’s great to have a training partner back!! I strongly recommend that all runners find a person or group to run with it. Although aspects of running solo I enjoy, I really enjoy Jen’s company and having her there to push me. It’s very easy to get complacent with running, especially in long runs. But, if you want to become a better runner, complacency won’t get you there! We were anything but complacent on our first 10 miler, were chatting a way through each mile catching up on lots, and ended up averaging a 7:40min/mi. A bit fast, but it felt comfortable and easy—so no complaints. I’m thinking a 7:50ish pace for the long runs this summer will be my goal. I want to see how the first few weeks of marathon training go, and then I’ll decide on marathon finish time goals. I would like to break 3:10, but I’m holding off on that commitment—at least for now!

I will have more time to dedicate to my blog this summer---so just a warning!!! Hopefully, I'll be able to do more daily blogging regarding lots of aspects of running like I did last summer. HERE'S TO A GREAT SUMMER!!! :-D