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MCM Part 1: Six Weeks to a Marathon, the lead up, the plan.

Obtaining a race bib for the Marine Corps Marathon kinda fell into my lap. Aaaand I may or may not have had a beer or two in me aaaaand accidentally on purpose agreed to a bib transfer, for a marathon only 6 weeks away.

I need to back up a bit. I know i’ve skipped a lot of blogging. Over the summer I had an almost injury where I had to back off of running, see the chiropractor and an orthopedist in the same week because I was so scared I was on the verge of tearing something in my knee.

Right around the 4th of July I was getting some weird knee pain like I’ve never experienced before. Now, since I’m a personal trainer I like to set examples for my clients, readers and friends. When something feels “off”, not normal, or “OW” type pain, STOP whatever you’re doing, take time off and if it doesn’t get better and seek a professional diagnoses. So I did just that.

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4th of July

I immediately stopped running, lifting and to my despair and two more weeks off, nothing seemed to get better. After visiting the Ortho (who is also a marathoner) he ruled out the big fear of a tear and was 99.9% sure I was experiencing inflammation in the patella tendon and a tight hamstring which was pulling at the knee, making running feel unstable. Surprisingly, he said the issue wasn’t from running, but from the way I was squatting. He wrote me a prescription for lifting shoes which changed the angle I was squatting and ice for my knee.

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That was it. Lifting shoes helped the problem instantly. I was excited and back to running slowly by the end of July. I spent all of August building a running base and was quickly back to 20-30 mile weeks. <—pretty much the type of running shape I attempt to be in even during “off season.” Is there such a thing as off season?

That’s when the MCM opportunity came up. September 5th I bought a bib transfer through one of the Zooma Ambassadors because I had nothing going on the weekend of October 22nd. Easy right? Well, easy was how I planned to run the race. I just wanted to run it for fun, but I always feel like I’m kidding myself when I say this. I like to race on race day. It’s hard for me to run for fun unless i’m running with friends. With the bib now in my name I had to come up with a training plan that would work in 6 weeks, including a taper week which realistically meant 5 weeks to prep for a marathon. Yikes.

I think the pictures below were Stephen making sure I was making a sound choice. ūüėČ

I was starting off on the right foot, I had the base mileage. 30 miles was a great place to begin. I figured the best way to train on a shortened schedule wasn’t to do traditional speed work and tempo workouts.¬† I was nervous if I were to add more mileage on top of a crapload of speed sessions I would only increase my chances of injury (especially after recently sidestepping one).¬† I had to somehow do everything at once, but not in running workouts.

I decided to take a big risk and weight train (heavy lifting) for the fast twitch muscles (replacing speed work) then run on fatigued, tired legs (simulating the last miles of marathons). Then repeat. I didn’t let my legs relax for 5 solid weeks. I lifted my heaviest over those weeks and went running shortly after. Slogging miles with heavy steps and tired muscles on hills was the name of the game. This was a difficult training cycle, there were tears and many moments where i forgot what fresh legs felt like.

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Heavy DL, then a run after

I used Ragnar DC for a speed work check in. I did the virtual Ragnar 7 Summits Challenge as motivation for another week of even more hills and elevation. I finished one 16 miler, mostly because i needed a confidence boost and had one high mileage peak week at 55 miles, 2 weeks before the race.

I didn’t rest until the taper, 7 days out from Marine Corps, I stopped heavy lifting, didn’t do any strength training and ran easy while attending my best friends wedding. A great way to take my mind off a marathon.

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And that was that. I had to trust that I put in work that was all my own. Not a training plan or Hansons or Runners World or a coach had given me. I was putting some faith into knowing my body, knowing I was a strong lifter and a strong runner. All that was left was to cross my heart and hope it would somehow merge together and show up as fitness on race day.

To be continued…

 


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The Almost PR- Rock N’ Roll DC 1/2 Recap!

Monday: 20min yoga

Tuesday: 8.5m interval 16 x 400s @ 10k pace (6 @ 6:31/pace, 6 @ 6:27/pace, 4 @ 6:22/pace)

Wednesday: 6.9m easy 8:58/pace, 40 min shoulders + legs

I made a ton of last minute changes for the race which made me extremely nervous and anxious during the week leading up to it. Pre-race went badly, a lot of stuff was out of my control, I didn’t think this was going to be a good race.

Monday through Friday leading to Saturday’s race I dealt with a massive sinus headache, sinus related vertigo/dizziness & pressure headaches until Friday ,when i finally started feeling better (cue sigh of relief!) and changed my hair color. Not that hair color had anything to do with me feeling better.. wait, it may have been a slight pick me up.

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The sinus/allergy stuff ¬†was out of my control of course. It’s never fun going into a race week feeling like absolute crap. I still managed to hit the weekly running workouts on the schedule, even though they all felt harder than usual. I’m thankful it was a cutback week, although I probably would have had to cutback anyway with how tired those horrible allergies made me.

The changes I mentioned have to do a lot with nutrition. Since last fall I’ve cut out most refined carbohydrates (breads/pasta etc) and have replaced those grain carbs with potatoes/carrots/beets etc. I will do a post on this in more details soon–> the point being, I was nervous about not having a regular pasta meal the night before and a bagel the morning of the race. So what did I eat? ¬†I had a whole sweet potato with maple syrup and pork chop for dinner. The morning of the race I had a banana with pb and coffee, then on the train I ate a Honey Stinger Waffle and drank pink lemonade Nuun.

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Another thing out of my control pre-race: the metro was a complete mess on race morning. 13 minutes behind schedule and the train stop we were told to get off at had their stairs and escalators blocked off. Hundreds of runners were waiting to load up into an extremely small, slow moving elevator. A lot of us hopped back on the train and got off at the next station. Because of these setbacks, I did not have the chance to warm up or start the race on time. I was literally in a port-o-potty at 7:28am, two minutes before the start.

I ran slowly to the corrals, peeling off my throwaway clothes, getting my Ipod set up and finally squeezed into Corral #5. I was supposed to start in #2, so i knew i’d have some weaving to do in the early miles. My plan for this race was to hold back until miles 6-7 where the big hill was then see how I was feeling to push the backend of the race.

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After the stressful morning,  the race itself was great! Once my legs warmed up (took 2 miles) and I weaved around the corral 5 runners, i got into a groove and felt very relaxed. I finally had some elbow room at mile 5 and I could feel myself trying to speed up and kept telling myself to save energy for the hills in the 2nd half.

You might not like it, but my race mantra for the hill was “I like it on top.” It made me smile and laugh a little, which relaxed me. Feel free to think of this on your next hilly run ūüėČ

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Once I hit that wretched hill and my slowest mile–it took another half mile for my quads to stop screaming at me. But once they recovered I was feeling fantastic and I just let the legs do what they wanted.

The final miles of the race were 7:05, 6:59, 6:51, 7:05 and my final mile was a 6:56! I was hoping on a good day i could FINALLY hit a sub-7 mile during a half. The negative split was my fastest ever 10k! Hitting those splits are a good indicator that big things may happen in 6 weeks. Horn officially tooted.

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Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 2.05.47 PMHere are the splits! Official Time 1:37:05.

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I did a breakdown of the good, bad and otherwise in a few other race recaps and I’m going to continue with this because it’s easy to look back and recall what needs to change and stay the same for future races. So here it goes!

The bad

-I did not anticipate the Metro being backed up, therefore I had ZERO time to do a proper warm up. I truly feel if I had that extra 30 minutes as planned I could have had a PR day, but i’m not upset over it because that was not the purpose of this race. This just means for my ‘A’ race I will have to plan for extra time to warm up just in case!

-My back was really sore after this race. I don’t know if i was tense or if my back was taking all the downhill jolting. Guess I’m out of downhill running practice?

The good

-I felt 100% properly fueled. My nutrition is on point and Honey Stinger products & Nuun are sitting well in my stomach.

-The final 6 miles. I paced properly! All those workouts of mile repeats and 2 x 3s are showing up!  A 7:00/pace did not feel like death :).

-I’m definitely a midwest girl. The flat parts of the course I cruised and dare i say, the pace felt easy. I never felt like I went above an 7-8/10 effort and the negative split was just icing on the cake.

-This race felt better (i.e I felt more comfortable) than  Indianapolis where I got my latest PR.

The firsts¬†¬†I know you aren’t supposed to try new things on race day, but this was a practice race for me so there were a TON of new things.

-Pre race evening meal. Sweet potatoes will forever be a staple. And the morning meal, no bagels just real food.

-On the course i only drank water. This is the first time I didn’t have gatorade, and my stomach was happy because of it!

-Shoes. I bought a brand new pair of Saucony Kinvara 6s for this race. I did not wear them or break them in before the race. They worked perfectly. No blisters or anything. Saucony is seriously amazing.

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-I was blonde. Hey when you’re not gunning for a PR you need to find other running firsts. It was my very first run with blonde hair. lol.

 

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Last Week

Monday: 7.5 tempo (2m warm up, 3 @ 6:53/pace, 4 x 2:00 @ 6:18/pace, 1m cool down)

Tuesday: 4m easy 9:45/pace + 2m walk w/LE

Wednesday: 6.9m easy 8:41/pace

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 13.1m Race 7:20/pace Rock n’Roll DC 1/2 marathon

Sunday: Rest

Total Miles: 31.6

What are your pre-race rituals??

New running “first” you’ve accomplished during a race (other than a PR/distance record)?


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Secret Weapons for Marathon Week

Before this marathon happens in *gulp* 6 days, I have to get things organized. The day before a marathon should be spent resting and inhaling ingesting carbs. Don’t overwhelm yourself by leaving a ton to do/organize/layout the week and night before.

The week of the marathon (i.e. right now!) I make trips to Target, grocery store or a running store to have exactly what i need for race week/day. Over the weekend, I picked up Gatorade, Honey Stinger gel & chews, bagels. What I forgot was anti-chafe cream. Totally slipped my mind. Another good reason to shop early in the week–you will forget something. Plan on running out to the store 2-3 times for last minute items. I usually make a list and then leave it on the table at home. It’s the thought that counts.. unless your thoughts are left behind, of course.

I do my running laundry in the middle of the week so most of my clothes are clean. Heaven forbid the night before a race my favorite shorts are dirty and i’m up late waiting for laundry to finish. I just bought these 2 pairs of Under Armour shorts over the weekend, super comfy, and long enough inseam so the thighs aren’t rubbing together–now which color to wear??

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Put a¬†Marathon Playlist together. ¬†This is a big one for me because I love setting the tone of a race to music. This training cycle I listened to a lot of Say Anything, Reliant K, the Starting Line, Jimmy Eat World, The Thermals‚ĶSo i’m probably not venturing out too far. I have a secret weapon though.. and i’ve wanted to share it for a long time. I listen to this Dj called Pogo and if you haven’t listened to his stuff you need to do it RIGHT NOW. Pogo remixes a lot of Disney music which brings back a ton of memories, makes running feel fun and keeps my legs churning. There is nothing like running on trails listening to this guy.. i swear it will change you.

The week before a marathon is a good time to stress out, freak out, question your training etc.. As i said plenty of times before–i’m working very hard on positive thinking before, during and after a race. A good way for me to do this is not to fine comb my training log and focus on, ¬†well, what I’ll be focusing on during the race. Where will my positive thinking drive from? What do i tell myself when my body wants to quit in the later miles?

My go-to mantra has been “earn the downhill” because most of my races have been extremely hilly. This time around I might use something Shalane Flanagan mentioned in a recent article, her mantra during Boston was something her coach says to her, “don’t lose your shit.” She wanted to keep calm, cool & focused. I don’t have one as of yet, but i’m working on it!

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new shorts, new shoes ‚̧

So there you go, my secret weapons to have a race day go well, get your fuel & race day items ready way beforehand, get a playlist/mantra together, lay out your exact clothes & relax the day before while your iPod/phone/garmin are charging ;). Also- I have a check list from an old post that I’m going to update below, so if you want to just copy and print, it will help for the week of your race!

Race Checklist 

__Garmin Watch (charged!)

__Ipod/armband/headphones (charged!)

__Sports Bra

__Shorts/Capri’s/Throwaway pants

__Shirt/or Throwaway Shirt

__Socks/Compression Socks

__Running Shoes

__Sandals & after race clothes/deodorant/body wipes

__Anti-Chafe Cream

__Aspirin/pain reliever (for after race)

__Sunscreen/Sunglasses/hat

__Hair ties/headbands

__Gels or Sports Drinks/Water/Nuun/Pre-Race Food (doesn’t hurt to have extra left in your car, hotel, or with family)

__Race Confirmation/Course Map (for friends or family who are attending & for race morning!)

Last Week’s Work

Monday: 6m fartlek 7:26/pace, 35 min biceps/back, 30 min abs

Tuesday: 5m easy 8:10/pace

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: 10m easy 7:51/pace, 15 min abs

Friday: 30 min TRX full body, 10 abs

Saturday: 3.2 easy 8:50/pace

Sunday: 5.4 tempo 7:44/pace

Total Miles: 30

What is your “power song” or mantra you use during a race?

What else should I add to my Race Checklist??

 


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Race Eve in Philly & Summary 9/9-9/15

I spent a good amount of Saturday & Sunday in Philadelphia with Cameron and it was a blast. I’ve never seen Philly before and I actually liked it a lot.¬†Keeping this post short and sweet & will recap the actual race soon! I’m still getting used to blogging life, so try to bear with me as I get used to updating closer to real time.

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We arrived in at the Sheraton Downtown Hotel around 3pm, and headed toward the expo. Our hotel was half mile to the expo and half mile to the start line. ¬†Since we arrived late on the last day of the expo it was super busy and they were out of free samples of pretty much everything (lame), so we didn’t stick around too long. Ended up eating pasta at the Hard Rock Cafe for my pre-race meal. We walked about 2 miles between the expo, hotel, food & a little sightseeing.

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left: church, right: philadelphia city hall.

near the hotel, thought it was an aptly named street :)

near the hotel, thought the street name fit the weekend ūüôā

Back at the hotel, I compressed my legs, used my muscle roller, drank Nuun & Powerade, ate potato chips, candy, watched cartoons. Chips for sodium, candy for glycogen stores, and cartoons to relax. Running life, by far is the best.

Hotel View was beautiful!

Hotel view was beautiful!

relaxing

relaxing at the Sheraton

Standard bathroom, but thought i'd share!
Standard bathroom, but thought i’d share!

favorite cartoon!

favorite cartoon!

Here’s a rundown of my workouts from this past week:

Monday: 40 min biceps/chest, 10 min abs

Tuesday: 6.4 miles 7:51/pace, 10 minutes of foam-rolling & 10 min of abs

Wednesday: 20 min shoulders/triceps,

Thursday: 6 miles easy 9:55/pace, 10 min abs

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 3 miles easy 10:00/pace + approximately 2 mile walk

Sunday: 13.1 half marathon race + approximately 3 mile walk

Total Miles: 28.5 + walking miles!

Race recap coming soon!!


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Like a G6!

Thursday workout: 6 mile easy 9:55/pace, 10 min abs

Yesterday I ran 6 miles and it was easy to slow down because the humidity did it for me. I didn’t even look at my watch cause I knew I was shuffling & struggling to breathe. I always tell people not to even pay attention to pace when it’s this hot and humid out. When you’re not breathing normally, oxygen can’t get to your muscles, so don’t expect for them to run fast.¬†You know those days where it’s so hot you can just see the steam off the ground? That was yesterday. The picture below was taken so you can see how sweaty & gross I was even though I was running 2+ minutes over my race pace. Sunday’s race weather is set for partly cloudy 55 low/75 high, couldn’t have asked for better race weather!

you can see that my pink Brooks sports bra + yellow tank= orange!

my pink sports bra + yellow tank= bright orange!

The last days leading up to a race I watch videos of races & runners to get me pumped up. Lately I’ve been watching the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials. Every time I see Kara Goucher finish she inspires me beyond the meaning of the word inspire. ¬†At my very first 1/2 marathon in 2009 she raced and finished in a blazing 1:08:05. If that’s not impressive enough, she actually won the entire race– over every woman AND man. I didn’t know who she was when I saw her during my first expo experience and I knew nothing about the elite running world while I was training, but she definitely changed the way I thought about running and my passion for the sport.

A few months ago I let her know I adore/love/watch/stalk her…and she LIKED MY POST.¬†I freaking love this girl.

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Besides stalking elite runners, another thing I do is get my 1/2 Marathon Playlist in order for race day. I am a firm believer that you can’t just wing it when it comes to music. You can’t play Pandora and hope the commercials won’t get on your nerves at mile 8. You can’t shuffle your ipod and mess with skipping songs for hours on end. For the love of God, pull yourself together and put ten minutes of time into orchestrating THE SOUNDTRACK for your race. There have been plenty of studies showing how music can help you push through fatigue and pain during workouts, so use this to your advantage!

 Here are some tips to pull off a playlist that will get you to the finish line: 

-What is your estimated finishing time? Make sure the time of the playlist is long enough so you don’t hit the end of the playlist and have to mess with finding more music. You need your playlist to last as long as it will take you to cross this finish line–and then some.¬†Just in case you don’t hit your goal time, having an extra 10-15 minutes of inspiring & fast paced music will help you finish strong, instead of giving up just because your MP3s do.

-How are you pacing the race? Are you trying to start out slower to save energy? If so, don’t play Skrillex or crazy dance music right out of the gate.

-When do you normally get tired in training runs or races? For me it’s about mile 8 where I start to feel it. This is where I will estimate the mile 8 time in my playlist and place music that inspires me. Power songs. Put them where you think you will need a pick-me-up! Your playlist will be ready to give you inspiration, energy and encouragement without you having to search for the songs and waste time.

-And always, make sure you charge your iPod/MP3 player the whole night before your race so it doesn’t die on you halfway. The biggest letdown/heartbreak is the sound of silence halfway into a race.

Now I’m off to pack for the weekend. I almost forgot I already put my Checklist on here!

What are your running plans for the weekend? Long run? 5k? Race? I’m coming for you Philly!!

What is your favorite pump up song for racing?? mine is Like a G6 by Far East Movement.