Saturday, March 30, 2013

You Know You're Training for a Marathon When.....

You Know You're Training for a Marathon When.....

1.) You buy more than one pair of running shoes in a year.

2.) You plan to wear closed-toe shoes indefinitely.

3.) Most of your laundry pile consists of running clothes.

4.) You can no longer fit all of your running clothes in your dresser.

5.) 13.1 miles becomes a training run.

6.) You care more about comfort during a long run than fashion.

7.) You frequently find a small amount of blood in at least one article of clothing after a long run.

8.) You constantly have blisters on your feet.

9.) Your boots no longer zip up over your calves.

10.) Most of your fluid intake consists of water and gatorade.

11.) Gu has become a new food group on your own food pyramid.

12.) You plan your weekends around your long run.

13.) You make running plans with friends instead of going to happy hour.

14.) Your neighbors start asking you how many miles you ran each weekend.

15.) You see the same people twice during a run.

16.) A 3 mile run can suck one day and a 7 mile run can feel great the next day.

17.) You start a run with gloves and a headband on and end in shorts and a t-shirt.

18.) A beautiful day improves/increases your speed.

19.) 6 or 8 miles are now considered short runs.

20.) You can calculate your mile splits faster than your phone can.

21.) You get multiple emails a week from MapMyRun.

22.) You only buy running clothes or running accessories whenever you go shopping.

23.) A good night's sleep can make or break your run the next day.

24.) You have many obstacles thrown your way during training.

25.) You can take 3 weeks off from running and return to training like nothing ever happened.

26.) You can now run more miles than it would take you to drive to work.

27.) Double digit runs are a normal part of your weekend.

28.) You start a run in snow and end the run in 50 degree weather.

29.) Walkers and other runners begin to recognize you when you're out for a run.

30.) You are tempted to run or feel restless on days off.

I think that this list will definitely continue to grow over the next few weeks and there are probably tons of things that I forgot to add to the list. I will end there for now and talk about this week. Week 22 has been my best week of marathon training yet! I was a little disappointed after the Syracuse Half Marathon because the race was a bit of a struggle for me and it did not go quite as I expected. However, I have quickly learned over the past few months that marathon training never goes quite as well as you planned. This was the first week in quite awhile that I actually completed all of my short runs during the week and stuck to my actual schedule. There have been plenty of weeks where I have skipped a short run or changed the mileage on at least one of my short runs. I decided that I should try to stick as close to my marathon training schedule as possible this week. My 3 miler on Tuesday was a little rough because it was just two days after Syracuse and it was my first run in my new kicks. I went into Wednesday's run expecting to have to shorten my 7 miler, but it actually felt great and I completed the entire run. I was really tempted to skip my 4 miler on Thursday because it was the beginning of spring break and I had a 3 1/2 hour drive ahead of me. However, I decided to run before I drove home since it would be dark by the time that I got home. I had one of my fastest runs in weeks because I was so excited to head home and start my spring break.

I ended week 22 of training with a 16 miler. After my race last weekend, I knew that I needed to prepare my body much better for my long run. I did everything that I was supposed to yesterday. I drank a lot of water, ate my carbs, had plenty of downtime and got a decent amount of sleep. I woke up this morning feeling good and ready to run. I was also excited for this run because I was going to be able to run 16 miles through the streets I grew up on. The change of scenery made a huge difference in my run and I really enjoyed running from one end of town to the other and back. I was also sporting my brand new Mizuno Wave Elixir 8's and a new Nathan Trail Mix 4 hydration belt. I filled up three of my bottles with water and one with gatorade. I grabbed my hydration belt, 3 packets of Gu and my headphones and I was on my way out for my 16 miler. The gorgeous weather today also made the run much more enjoyable. I was surprised at how much easier this run felt than my run last weekend. I felt really good for the entire run and nothing hurt when I was done running. I am extremely happy with how today's run went and I actually feel like I'm going to be able to run a marathon in two months! Here's a glance at what week 22 looked like:

Week 22
3/26/13 - 3 miles in 28:41 (9:34 min/mi pace)
3/27/13 - 7 miles in 1:10:11 (10:01 min/mi pace)
3/28/13 - 4 miles in 35:31 (8:53 min/mi pace)
3/30/13 - 16 miles in 2:41:20 (10:05 min/mi pace)

312 miles complete in 49:02:00 and only 56 days until conquering 26.2 miles!

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Syracuse Half Marathon

I decided to keep my mileage pretty low this past week because I planned on ending week 21 with the Syracuse Half Marathon. I did set a personal record for my half marathon time, but I was not entirely happy with how my race went. I kept changing my mind all week about what I was expecting out of this run. I had a goal of aiming for a 2:10 finish earlier in the week, but by Sunday morning I decided that I was just going to let the Syracuse Half be a regular training run. However, the runner's high from the race day excitement quickly changed my expectations once the race began. I had the 2:10 goal in mind still, but I just couldn't push it out yesterday. Even though I set a personal record yesterday, I was both happy and unhappy with my race performance and here are the reasons why:

Reasons Why I Was Unhappy With My Half Marathon Race
1.) If you are a teacher, then you understand how busy and long the month of March can be. I have had some sort of club or activity after school 3-4 days a week for the past couple of months. When I registered for the Syracuse Half, I did not think that this would be an issue because my training was still going well. However, a student council dance and the mathalon competition both fell on this weekend. This weekend consisted of a student council dance Friday night, an hour drive to mathalon on Saturday morning, all Saturday morning at the competition, an hour drive back from the competition, an almost 2 hour drive up to Syracuse after and spending Saturday night with my parents.

2.) In addition to very little downtime, I did not get much sleep over the weekend. By the time that 6am arrived Sunday morning, my body told me that I should never pack so much into a race weekend. I was very tired Sunday morning, but your body quickly forgets the tired feeling once you start running.

3.) I followed the rules and did not bring an iPod to listen to for the race. There was an email that was put out saying no headphones allowed and I did not dare to bring any seeing as I almost got kicked out of a race for that once. However, most people ignored the rules, listened to headphones anyways and no one got disqualified for it. I did have my iPhone in my pocket, but I did not have my headphones. I wish that I had brought them with me because I always listen to music when I am running alone and it helps me to run faster.

4.) There was a lot of uphill running during the first couple of miles of the race. Now this should have been easy for me because I have done a lot of training in hilly areas since there are plenty of hills around here. The inclines in the race were more like speed bumps, but were very much unexpected. I had no idea of the course ahead of time so I went in with the mindset of running an extremely flat course. The inclines slowed down my pace a little bit.

5.) My Mizuno Wave Elixir 7's are extremely worn out and are ready to be retired. By the time that I realized how worn out my kicks were, it was too late to break in a new pair before the race. So I ran my last race in my Mizuno's and I was definitely sore by the time that I got to the finish. I could feel my ankles rolling in during parts of the race, which can easily be corrected by a new pair of kicks.

6.) Chaffing ..... I do not need to get into the details on that one!

7.) I could not find a pace that I was comfortable with for most of the race. I had a very slow start and I never made up for the time that I lost at the beginning of the race. I was glad that I had such a slow start, but I expected to pick up the pace enough at the end to reach my end goal. I know that my splits were probably all over the place, but I could never quite get to the pace that I wanted.

8.) I hit a wall around mile 11 and was not sure that I was going to make it. I was worn out and my body was tired from the extremely long weekend. I had run 15 miles the week before so this should have been no problem for me. However, I did not give my body enough rest before the race so this was expected. I wanted to just stop and walk, but I knew that it was not going to be an option. It's funny how 11 miles seems pretty easy and the last 2 miles just drag on.

9.) When I saw the finish line, I felt like I was 5 miles away and was never going to reach the finish. That half mile, or less, felt like the longest half mile of my life and I was not sure that it was ever going to end. I did not have enough energy left in me to kick it out in the end and sprint to the finish like I normally do.

10.) I was aiming for a 2:10 finish, but was only able to push out a 2:14:50 finish. I had run a 2:08 half marathon in a training run 2 weeks ago so I thought that a 2:10 was a reasonable goal. Even though I still had a PR yesterday, I was just a little bit disappointed in not reaching my goal.

Reasons Why I Was Happy With My Half Marathon Race
1.) I had a concussion less than 2 months ago and have only been back into running for about a month. I was not sure that I would be able to get back to where I needed to be in my training. I have successfully returned to where I needed to be and the half marathon was a perfect check point for me in my training.

2.) I sign up for most races and run them alone so I was extremely excited to see some familiar faces this weekend. I arrived at the Oncenter around 7:30 and saw Lauren, who I went to college with. We got talking for quite awhile before the race began and we saw Molly, who also went to college with us, when we headed out to the start line. Molly is also training for the Buffalo Marathon and her blog is the one that inspired me to begin my own running blog.

3.) I started the race with Molly and her friend Steph and we were in the back of the pack. There had to be less than 10 runners behind us at that point and none of us realized that there were so many hardcore runners there. Molly is definitely the most excited runner that I have ever met and that helped pep us all up. We parted ways shortly before mile one and I sped up to a quicker pace.

4.) Since I started in the back of the pack, I was able to pass many people during the run. I like to start out races a bit slower so that I can pass people during a race. I also like to slowly increase my speed during a race and that helps me to save my energy for the end of the race. All of the hill training that I have done also helped me to pass many people and made me feel pretty good about my race.

5.) I had the most delicious Raspberry Chocolate Gu around mile 6 or 7. I was extremely happy that there were Gu Packets or Gu Brew drinks at several of the water stops. I just began using Gu a couple of weeks ago during long runs and that little energy boost during a run sure does help.

6.) I was unfamiliar with the course ahead of time so it made the race go by much more quickly. I was surprised at how quickly each mile went by and I was extremely happy to have a change of scenery.

7.) Although I thought the 30 degree weather was going to suck to run in, I think that the colder weather helped quicken my pace a bit. It began to warmup while we were running and once the sun came out it was a pretty good temperature for a race.

8.) I always really enjoy the camaraderie of other runners on race day. Runners are some of the nicest people that you will ever meet and they can be so encouraging during a race. It's so great to have other people cheering you on and seeing so many people stick around the finish line after they are done running.

9.) My favorite part of any race is always the finish line. I love hearing my name announced as I come across the finish line and then having a brand new medal placed around my neck. The great thing about running a half marathon is that everyone gets a medal. I am now the proud owner of 5 half marathon medals because 13.1 miles is a pretty big deal.

10.) This was my 5th official half marathon that I have ever run and it was my fastest one yet. I have set a personal record in every half marathon that I have ever run in and yesterday was no different. I finished the Syracuse Half Marathon in 2:14:50, which is a personal best by more than 2 minutes.

There are 9 weeks of training left for the Buffalo Marathon and I am ready for whatever these next 2 months may have in store. I know that this is not going to be easy at all because I will be running further than I have ever run before every week over the next several weeks. I am a little nervous because I have many trips home planned over the next couple of months. It will be a little difficult to get a double digit run in when travel weekends are already so short to begin with. I will need to be a little creative with my training, but I cannot let myself skip or shorten any of the long runs. On the plus side, I am looking forward to having a few long runs through the streets that I grew up on. These runs will not only be a nice change in scenery, but they will also be much flatter than what I have been training in. The Buffalo Marathon is relatively flat for the most part so it will be good to get some good runs in on flatter land. I am also excited to ditch my Mizuno Wave Elixir 7's and begin running in my brand new Mizuno Wave Elixir 8's. I bought my new Mizuno's at Fleet Feet this weekend as a gift to myself for my mathalon team's 3rd place finish and my PR in the Syracuse Half. I did buy the sneakers on Saturday, but I knew that I would get a PR on Sunday. My old Mizuno's were really worn out and leaving me feeling sore after every long run. I am excited to break in my new kicks and to run my longest runs yet. Here's a glance at what week 21 was like as I head into some of the toughest weeks of training yet:

Week 21
3/19/13 - 3.2 miles in 31:14 (9:46 min/mi pace)
3/20/13 - 5 miles in 47:35 (9:31 min/mi pace)
3/24/13 - SYRACUSE HALF MARATHON - 13.1 miles in 2:14:50 (10:18 min/mi pace)

282 miles complete in 44:06:17 and only 61 days until conquering 26.2 miles!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Little Victories

The thing that I love most about marathon training right now would be all of the little victories. I am at a point in my training right now where I am beginning to run farther than I've ever run before. If my training continues to go as planned, then each week will be a new little victory for me for the next several weeks. I headed into this morning's run with some mixed feelings about my current training. This was another week where I only had time to do two of my three scheduled short runs. The short run that I skipped this week was supposed to be 7 miles, but I figured that I would still be in good shape for my long run today. I did everything that I was supposed to do in order to get ready for today. I ate a lot of carbs and drank a lot of water and Gatorade yesterday. I let Friday and Saturday be rest days so that my legs would be good to go for my long run. I was supposed to run 15 miles next weekend, but next weekend I am running the Syracuse Half Marathon so I decided to get my 15 miler in today. I went to bed early last night, but just like the night before any race I had trouble falling asleep. I always get really nervous the night before a race because I am thinking about things like whether or not I did my training correctly, if I am going to set a personal record or if I am really ready for the race. Just thinking about my long run this morning felt like I was preparing for a race. I have never run more than 13.1 miles before and this morning my goal was to complete 15 miles.

I woke up this morning with mixed feelings about how today's run was going to go. I was not happy to see that the temperature was only 15 degrees when I woke up this morning. I know that part of the reason why I had such a successful 13.1 mile run last week was due to the beautiful weather. I was not happy to be wearing gloves and a headband instead of shorts and a t-shirt. After bundling up, I grabbed two water bottles and two packets of Gu for the run and a bottle of Gatorade and a granola bar for after the run. I was physically ready for my run this morning, but I was not sure that I was mentally prepared for the 15 miles. My usual running partners were sick so I knew that most of my run would probably end up being run alone. Luckily, Sandy and Annette both joined me for part of my long run so that made the 15 miles go much more quickly. My body felt really good for the entire run and my legs maintained a pretty consistent pace for the entire run. I also tried Gu for the first time ever today and refueling during a long run really made a huge difference. I figured that I needed to start trying some sort of supplement during long runs before the actual race. While I felt really good physically, there were many times that I wanted to quit during this run. When I say that I wanted to quit during this run, I mean that I kept getting bored during the run. I really do not enjoy running when I can see my breath or my hair freezes so needless to say there were not many other runners out. I think that beautiful temperatures and seeing plenty of other runners really helps motivate you during any kind of run. I know that the crowd will carry me through race day, but today's run just got so boring with so few people around.

I quickly kicked my bad attitude and thought about what a huge accomplishment today was going to be for me. I do not know many people who can say that they have ever run 15 miles before. There was a point in time several years ago where I struggled to run just 1 mile. If I look back over the past 4 years as a runner, I have had several little victories. I have completed many 5K's so then I moved onto completing 10K's. Before I knew it, I had completed not just one half marathon, but four half marathons. I am now 20 weeks into my marathon training plan, which is something that I never expected myself to achieve as a runner. I finished my 15 mile run in 2:33:57, which is a 10:15 min/mi pace. I was extremely happy with my time because I plan to run about a 10:30 min/mi pace for the Buffalo Marathon. When I finished today's run, I felt really good physically and I was extremely proud of myself for what I was able to accomplish today. 15 miles is the farthest that I have ever run before and that incredible 15 mile run is my first little victory in marathon training. I am feeling extremely confident about my running now and I am excited to keep having little victories over the next several weeks. I felt so good about my run today that I came home and finally registered for the Buffalo Marathon. I have been training for 20 weeks now, but today I finally convinced myself that I was ready to register for the race. Looking forward, I plan to keep the mileage pretty low for week 21 because I will be running the Syracuse Half Marathon next weekend. I now have 10 weeks left to finish preparing for the Buffalo Marathon. And here's a look at how week 20 went:
Week 20
3/12/13 - 3 miles in 28:03 (9:21 min/mi pace)
3/13/13 - 4 miles in 41:07 (10:17 min/mi pace)
3/17/13 - 15 miles in 2:33:57 (10:15 min/mi pace)

260.7 miles complete in 40:32:38 and only 69 days until conquering 26.2 miles!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Mile Two Slump

Another week of training is complete and now there are only 11 weeks left to get ready for Buffalo. I almost stuck to my actual training plan this week, but sometimes teaching just gets in the way of marathon training. The only thing that I missed this week was one of my 3 mile runs. I did not even feel slightly guilty about skipping a 3 miler because the longer runs are way more important. I know that missing a shorter run here or there will not affect my training too much, especially because I have such a solid base built already. I know that the long runs are the most important part of training right now so I headed out for a run this morning with the goal of 12 miles in mind. I am really supposed to be at 13 miles this week, but I had only run 10 miles last week so I figured that I should not push it too much. I met up with some coworkers this morning who are training for the Bridge Run half marathon and only needed to run 7 miles this morning. We all trained together for the Bridge Run last spring and were averaging a pace of somewhere between 10:30-11:00 minute miles. This morning we ran 7 miles in 1:10:05, which is a 10:01 min/mi pace. It's amazing how far we have all come as runners over the past year. Since I am the only person crazy enough to be training for a marathon right now, I continued the rest of the run by myself. It was wonderful to have people to run the first 7 miles with and it made the time go by much more quickly. By the time that I got to 12 miles, I was feeling really good so I decided that 1 more mile was possible. I am not only right back to where I need to be in my marathon training, but I also shaved 9 minutes off of my fastest half marathon time this morning. I would definitely say that this was a pretty solid week of marathon training and the times below definitely show how much my pace has improved.

Week 19 
3/5/13 - 3.1 miles in 28:42 (9:15 min/mi pace)
3/8/13 - 6 miles in 59:07 (9:51 min/mi pace)
3/10/13 - 13.1 miles in 2:08:08 (9:47 min/mi pace)

One of the things that we talked about during our run this morning was how much better a long run feels than a short run. I like to refer to this problem as the mile two slump. Some of my worst runs have been a 2 or 3 mile run. I don't know how other runners are, but I find it incredibly difficult to find and maintain a pace that I am comfortable with until I am about 3 or 4 miles into a run. I have had so many runs where I was ready to quit around mile 2 and the beginner runner version of myself would have quit. I usually feel so sluggish and unhappy with my pace around mile two and wonder to myself how much longer will it be until I am done with my run. It is amazing how much better I feel after I go a couple more miles and really get into my own running groove. I really dislike mile two and I think that there are so many different possible reasons for this. Sometimes I go out way too hard and fast and use up all of my energy on that first mile or two. Sometimes I go out way too slow in an effort to pace myself and I can never quite get my pace as fast as I want. When I was a beginner runner, I was extremely guilty of starting out way too fast all of the time and then I could never maintain my starting pace. Now that I am a more experienced runner, I usually start out a run pretty slow. I love starting races in the back of the pack and starting out with a slow pace. If I start out slow, then I have the energy to increase my speed slowly throughout my run until I get to the pace that I want. One of the best things about this strategy is the fact that I get to pass so many runners who go out way too hard or too fast. I have been using the MapMy Run app on my iPhone whenever I go out for a run and it really helps me to pace myself. I usually have the voice feedback turned on for every 0.5 miles so I can keep being reminded of my pace and seeing if I need to adjust my speed at all. This morning I decided to turn off the voice feedback because I did not want to hear my progress 26 times this morning. I actually maintained a pretty consistent pace throughout my run this morning. I think that my body is finally to the point now that I can pace myself pretty well without being reminded of my own pace every half mile. I was looking at some of my splits from the past few runs and my pace for mile two is usually way off from my pace for the rest of my run. I am beginning to become even more confident in my ability to run a marathon in a couple months and I refuse to let the mile two slump get in my way.

238.7 miles complete in 36:49:31 and only 76 days until conquering 26.2 miles!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

My Running Bucket List

I know many people that have bucket lists and I even have a few things that I would consider to be on my own personal bucket list. I have been thinking a lot lately about how far I have come as a runner over the past few years and I have come up with my own running bucket list. I never would have imagined myself being able to run a half marathon, let alone 4, or even be training for a full marathon. I am beginning to believe that the possibilities in running are endless. I am not saying that I could go out and run a 50 mile race, but there are many running events that I could do now that I never would have been able to complete just a few years ago. I have many things on my running bucket list that I have already completed and I have many more events on my running bucket list that I will actually get a chance to do this year. Now here is my running bucket list in no particular order or importance:

My Running Bucket List
1.) Run a 5K
-I have completed 16 official 5K's already.

2.) Come in first place in a race
-I came in 1st place in my age group for my first 5K ever.

3.) Run in the infamous Boilermaker 15K
-I ran in my first Boilermaker last year and am running the Boilermaker again this year.

4.) Run a half marathon
-I have now ran 4 half marathons and will be running 2 more this spring.

5.) Run in the Color Run 5K
-I will be running the Color Run in Buffalo in August.

6.) Run a full marathon
-I am currently training for the Buffalo Marathon at the end of May.

7.) Run a mud run
-I am running the Dirty Girl Mud Run in Buffalo in September.

8.) Relay a full marathon
-I ran the first leg of the Rochester Marathon during my senior year of college.

9.) Run a Tough Mudder
-This one will have to wait until a year that I have less running events already scheduled and will require a different type of training.

10.) Run in the oldest road race in America ..... The Buffalo Turkey Trot 8K
-I ran my 5th Turkey Trot this past fall and will continue to do so every Thanksgiving morning.

11.) Run a road race in all 50 states
-This one may take awhile to actually pull off, but I'd like to start working on this one soon.

12.) Complete a duathlon
-I am not a very good swimmer so a duathlon would be perfect for me if I actually started biking more and this will have to wait until after I am off of my long distance running kick.

13.) Enter a road race with each member of my family
-I have ran in a few 5K's that my mom walked in, but I would love to have each member of my family be a part of at least one race with me.

14.) Run in a cross country race
-I ran in the McQuaid Invite my senior year of college and I am proud to say that I came in last place.

15.) Compete in a triathalon
-This is the event that will be toughest for me because I am not a good swimmer, but this is another even that I would like to work up to once I am off of my long distance running kick.

16.)  Run a race in my hometown
-I have run in the 4th of July 10K through the streets that I grew up on 3 times now and hope to have many more years to come in this race.

17.) Run at least one road race a month for an entire year
-I have come close a few times, but I have yet to tackle this one.

18.) Run the Corporate Challenge with my coworkers
-If there is a Corporate Challenge here this year, then I plan to get a group of coworkers together for this.

19.) Finish a half marathon somewhere exciting
-I ran the 50 Yard Finish Half Marathon last summer and finished the race on the 50 yard line of the Ralph Wilson Stadium. 

20.) Stay tuned for more!
-I am sure that this list will continue to grow over time and include more races.

My bucket list came out of another week of successful marathon training since I had plenty of miles and time to think about it. I am back and feeling better than ever! I was able to follow my weekday running schedule with no problems at all. Each of my runs were much quicker than I expected and definitely a lot faster than my marathon pace. I guess a hiatus in my running this month really did not ruin the base that I have spent months building. I was scheduled for a 12 mile long run this weekend, but decided to only run 10 miles since I only ran 8 miles last weekend. My long runs should be back on track within another week or two. I had some coworkers join me for 6 of the 10 miles this morning since they are getting ready for the Bridge Run half marathon in May. I will be running the Bridge Run as well, but that is only a few weeks before the Buffalo Marathon. I still have not brought myself to register for the Buffalo Marathon yet. I think that I just need a couple more really good long runs before I can convince myself that I am ready to register for it. I know that I could easily run a half marathon right now, but I still need some convincing on the whole marathon thing. I still have over 2 1/2 months left so I think that this will begin to seem like more of a reality pretty soon. Here's a glance at how week 18 finished off:

Week 18 (Continued)
2/28/13 - 3.05 miles in 27:04 (8:53 min/mi pace)
3/1/13 - 10 miles in 1:42:00 (10:12 min/mi pace)

216.5 miles complete in 33:13:34 and only 83 days until conquering 26.2 miles!