Sunday, April 29, 2012

R & R

So I've made it through 8 days of my 3 week, self-imposed, running restriction.    I decided long before the Blue Ridge marathon that I would take a 2-4 week rest after this training cycle.  The week of the marathon, I decided 3 weeks would be the right amount, this time.  Is it easy, NO!  while sometimes I do enjoy the break, and the time to focus on other things, it's hard to put the training aside.  I take the break for longevity.  I think it's so important to have mental breaks to the hard training that I do.  If you've been reading, you know I like volume, and I also like quality running.  This is tough training, and while I thoroughly enjoy it, I know it's important to take some mini-breaks throughout the year.   These mini-breaks allow me to take a short break, and help me to avoid burn-out.   Trust me, after the 3 wk run restriction, I will be 100% ready, and pysch'ed to pick back up, and start back with base running miles.  

Now that a little time has passed and I reflect on BRM26pt2, VA, I have to say this marathon ranks number 2 or 3, of my 24 marathons.  I would say it ranks 3rd in beauty - behind ST. George, Utah - 1, and Mt. Desert Island, Maine - 2.  If I'm ranking on the overall experience, the BRM moves up to number 2, in my personal ranking.  This is not a reflection of either course, or management of the races, but more a personal experience of how I "raced" at BR vs. MDI.  I had a good race at BR, on "America's toughest", so that makes it extra special for me.     For me, St. George is still number 1.  The SGM course is beautiful,scenic, and it's a fast course (if you run it smart), and it's my PR, which of course, makes it special in my heart.  SGM will not be my PR much longer (it won't!), so it will be interesting to see how the rankings change in races to come......

The non-training:
7 days of 30 min. walks, and 2:00 mountain climbers 
this wk I limited myself to 30 minutes.

today - the time restriction is lifted - I was happy to go for a 5 mile walk 
this week - I will add some yoga, biking, and walking, but all easy, and will go with the "whatever-whenever" approach. 

I'm already getting excited about the training to come this summer.  I've been listening to podcasts (Endurance Planet - Ben Greenfield and Lucho, Cut The Fat, Jillian Michaels, etc.)  I'm hopeful that we will have a local group, training hard for fall racing.   I know I will be..... Should be a fun summer ahead.......
#WalkLA-  April 2012

Daylily - April 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Oh What A Day @ the Blue Ridge Marathon

Oh what a beautiful day! 
 On Sat. April 21, 2012, I completed "America's toughest road marathon",  the Blue Ridge Marathon in Roanoke, VA. 
pre-race - pumped up & ready
You may recall several months ago, I won an entry to the Blue Ridge Marathon from Marcia's Healthy Slice  I came across Marcia's blog when I started training for the 2010 Boston marathon and I've been following since that time.  I was thrilled when I received the news from Marcia about the free entry.  

 When we entered the expo for packet pick up, I mentioned to a volunteer,  that I’m from MS,  and she called someone over to tell him with wide eyes, “she’s from MS and running the FULL!”  The man had run the marathon, and the marathon course many times.   He gave me tips which included walking and be sure to start walking early in this race.   He also recommended to be sure to walk some of the down hills.   During my training, I trained on the best that my area has to offer,  which really doesn’t compare at all to mountains.  I felt well trained for our area, but had no idea what the course would be like.  After the expo, we drove one section of the course.  After speaking with the expo workers, and the pre-race drive, my OPTIMISTIC thinking that 4:15 was a realistic goal was fading fast.   I prepared my Mom and sister for the possible 4:30-5:00 hour finish time.  but.......  
walking on Friday, we came across this on the side walk

The start temp was around 58 and would be near 70 degrees before my finish.   As we started out, I replayed the advice that was recommended several times.  “Go out conservative, walk early, walk often in the early miles.  Be careful on the down hills, or you will destroy your quads early in the race. ……    I took the warnings seriously.   The first mile was mostly flat, but I decided "to chill” in hopes of saving myself for later in the race.  The first climb started around mile 1.  I kept repeating "save yourself, not too fast, don’t push on the early hills."  

Just before the ½ and 26.2 marathoner split, I noticed a runner up ahead who had on a “Run Chat” sticker pinned to the back of his shirt.  I thought it was David.  I called his name and was happy to meet “@RunningBecause” from Twitter and Run Chat. ( We had a quick chat, and then he headed up Mill Mountain (for the ½) and I proceeded on toward Roanoke Mountain (the highest climb, but not the hardest climb of the day – IMO).  
the view from the top of Roanoke Mountain
 By mile 6 and 7, I’m at 12:10 and 11:02 pace.  Trying to save my legs for later in the day, I walk the steepest part of the hills.  As I start down one of the steep downhills, I hear the recommendations to "walk some of the down hill sections" playing in my head.  I was surprised that it was actually hard to stop my body (in motion) to begin walking.  I take a quick walk, and start back running down the mountain. 

By mile 10, we have made it up, and down the first of 3 major climbs in the race.  I’m feeling good at this point, but wondering (& slightly worried) about the “wear and tear” of the hills, and how I will feel in the later miles.   My hill experience includes the downhill course at St. George, Boston, and Mt. Desert Island marathons.  As advertised, Blue Ridge is tough.   I wonder if, or when fatigue will set in, but keep moving forward, feeling good and hoping to finish with no major issues, but truly expecting "the bear" to jump on my back at some point in the race. 

The 2nd major climb is up Mill Mountain.  This is the mountain that has the famous Roanoke star. 
The Roanoke Star - to the left of the power line
  As I begin the climb toward the star, “We Three Kings” starts playing on my Ipod.   My mind ponders this for most of the climb.  I have a few Christmas songs on my Ipod that I instruct I-tunes NOT to send to my Ipod, but it does anyway.  I find it so strange, but neat, the perfect timing of the song. 
 "Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light"

 The song of the day on my shuffling Ipod, has to be “I get Delirious.”  Thankfully, I ended the day without this occurring, but the song played early in the marathon, and I could totally picture being “Delirious” before the end of the 3 climbs. 

Favorite lyrics of the day:  
(From - This Woman's Work lyrics Songwriters: Bush, Kate)

"I know you have a little life in you yet
I know you have a lot of strength left
I know you have a little life in you yet
I know you have a lot of strength left
I should be crying but I just can't let it show"

At mile 15, I'm greeted by my Mom and sister who are on the course to support me.  At this point, I’m heading down the hill, feeling good, and hoping it will last (14-8:35, 15 – 8:41).  I smile for a pic and keep moving forward.   We have a couple of miles of relatively flat, before the final climb up to Peakwood.  The course runs along the Greenway (a paved trail) beside the river.   As expected, around 16-17ish, even small  “ups” become challenging .  My mind wonders “how will I make it up Peakwood and still have anything left for the last 6, which is reported to be flat.   (16 – 10:15. 17 – 9:55, 18 – 13:11 slowest of the day, 19 – 10:47)
Favorite "overheard" words of the day 
(I heard this around mile 19, as were making the last, tough climb to Peakwood)
"we women get better as we get older"
As I made it to the top of Peakwood, I get excited and start heading down the hill toward the finish.  It’s a LONG downhill.  I seriously wonder if I will pull or tear a muscle as I go down.  At this point, it’s hard to “break”, and it feels like I’m on the edge of danger (20 – 8:39). 

We were told before the race, at mile 20.4 ish, “you will be done with the hills”  As we go up each hill , the spectators promise us "this is the last hill"NOT TRUE.  As a Southern girl, from mostly flatland, the last hill (incline) came in mile 25, not 20.4, or any of the multiple promised "last hill" along the way. 

At mile 22, the countdown is on.   Even after the major climbs, I’m feeling better than most marathons, at this point.  I can’t go any faster, but I’m happy with the pace that I’m maintaining at this point, on this course.  I’m just happy to be running (22 – 9:06,  23 – 9:33,  24 – 9:47,  25 – 9:27,  26 – 8:54)     Finish time – 4:16 (Garmin 26.07 - running hard tangents)  Thrilled With It!  Many times, I’ve finished around this time, or slower, on a “flat and fast” course.    I finished the day with time that I thought was unrealistic after driving the course on Fri. 

 As I reflect on the race, I have to say that I loved this race.   I prefer a small race and this one definitely is that.  (300 in the full, and 515 in the half marathon)  I finished 9th out of 80 females, and won the 2nd place masters award. 

I want to say thank you to Marcia for the spectacular marathon entry giveaway.   To date, this marathon is in my top 3 of 23, and it’s one that I may not have attempted had I not won the entry.  Several years ago, I avoided every hill while running.  While training for the St. George, Utah marathon (2009), I trained and started enjoying hill running.  Each year, my joy of hill running grows stronger.   As I reflect on this weekend, and my personal victory on the mountains, I have a new, much higher, love and draw to the hills.  

 I also want to say thank you to my hill prep crew in MS.  Hill repeats, up hills - hard, down hills -hard, hilly long runs with friends all helped to prepare me for the “America's toughest road marathon ”  I did it! 
(Terri – thanks for moving out of your comfort zone to help me train, and being eager to run "whatever" I needed to do,  Audrey – happy that we share the love of hills (mine has now grown much stronger), Kily – thanks for helping me finish my toughest “training” 20 miler to date) 
 more of the same this summer, after a few weeks of R&R

As always, thanks to my Mom and  sister for always being willing to travel to my crazy adventures.  I always appreciate the love and support. 
Linde (sister) and Mom touring VA

Finally, thanks to Chad for understanding my crazy passion for this marathoning life that I lead.  

 I do love a marathon…….
the data

Monday, April 9, 2012

Fuel - pre, during, after

It's heating up in the South, and I wanted to share how I fuel, and hydrate for a long run, before during and after the run.  This if from my recent 20 miler, 3 wks out from the Blue Ridge Marathon   Of course, the regimen varies a little each time, but overall, I'm a "creature of habit."  If something seems to be working, I have a tendency to stick with it, but I do some experimenting here and there, just in case something may work better for me.

I typically have 2-3 quality runs per week.  My goal is to optimize the opportunity for a good, quality run.  This requires some prep work, but if it enhances my chances for a good run, it's worth the extra steps.  

Getting ready for the long run:
I typically get up extra early so that I can hydrate and fuel for my run.  Some fuel, some do not, but my strong belief is if you want the best possible run, you must fuel for it.  My opinion comes from not only my personal experience with fueling and not fueling, but also from reading, reading, reading, and also in witnessing/hearing about other runners struggles on the long run.   Everyone is different, different sizes,  different sweat rates, etc., but my belief is that the large majority of runners will benefit from proper fuel.   As average runners, who will be on the road a LONG time to complete their long run, fuel and hydration is key.   I would highly recommend experimenting with many different options until you find an option that will work with your stomach.  This is the first step in ensuring a quality run.  Yes, you will be able to run, and complete the run without fuel, but without fuel, you are lowering the quality that you may have had with fuel.  (my opinion)

Recently,  I had a 20 miler on hills with some local friends (Terri, Audrey, and Kily).  Below you will find the details of my fuel and hydration.  I sweat a lot,  and I'm a large person (5'10), so I require more water than most.

 pre-run - plain Chobani greek yogurt, w/ half of a banana, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa,  and a few pistachios.  1 slice of raisin bread with Promise light margarine.  1 large glass of water - 16 ounces.  If I wake up during the night, before a long run, I will drink the water early.  If not, I drink the water as soon as I make it to the kitchen.  In addition to the water, I also have 1-2 cups of coffee, depending on how much time I have before heading out the door.   (note - many can not tolerate dairy before a long run.  Fortunately, I have a tough tummy and most anything works for me.   I have a tendency to stick to 3-4 different things.  I like to get some protein and carbs, pre-run,  so that's why I choose the yogurt and pistachios)
Another part of my pre-run is to plan for my hydration and fuel during the run.  For the past year, I  prefer using the Camelbak.  It's good for around 13-15 miles.  So,  in addition the the CB, I make sure that I either go out and put water/gatorade out along my route, or make sure I have $$s if I'm doing more of a "city" run.   For this run, I placed water/gatorades out along my route, and I would have one stop at my car halfway through the run.    Part of my Sat. am prep included getting a small cooler ready to be left in the car for my halfway stop, and my post-run fuel.   I had ice, water, gatorade, gels, and a wet rag, etc. (see Post Run for the rest)  The wet rag is used as a refreshing, cooling-off when I stop at the car half way through the run.  I use it to wipe my face and neck.   Several years ago, my running partner at the time taught me that trick and it's a nice treat when running in the heat. 

During the run  - because of my sweat rate, I need water every 15-30 minutes, even in the winter.  In the spring, summer, fall I drink every 15-20 minutes (or should drink).  For Sat.'s 20 miler, I started using Gu gels at 1 hour, and then roughly every 45 minutes thereafter. (sat gels - 6, 11, and 14).   In addition to the water and gels, I also use Gatorade in the later miles.  On Sat., I had around 6 ounces of Gatorade at mile 10, 14, 19, and after I completed the run.

Gatorade - my preferred brand
I have experimented with the various versions of Gatorade - the high calorie, the low calorie, and the middle of the pack version.  I prefer the G series with some calories (80 per 12 ounces).  I use the 12 ounce bottles.  If I'm running an out an back route, this works well, so that I can drink 1/2 on the way out, and then 1/2 on the way back. 

Post Run
maybe you noticed on my last post, for Saturday's run,  I mapped out my toughest long training run, EVER.  Knowing the run would be extra challenging, I wanted to be sure to fuel, hydrate, fuel, hydrate, and finally,  fuel right after the run.   Some research still recommends the best refueling opportunity is within 20 minutes post run.  I know some can't eat right after a run, if not, I would recommend some type of drink (chocolate milk, some type of recovery drink, or even an additional gel)  From earlier in the week, I had some bowls of steel cut oats cooked and ready to eat, in the refrigerator.  (mine has oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, a little peanut butter, a little brown sugar, chia seeds, craisins - for this post run fuel, I also added some Chobani yogurt in the mix)  I added this to the cooler so that I could get a better recovery meal in quickly.  Had I not packed the cooler, it would have been a subway, egg & cheese biscuit, or pancakes, type of option.  Many times I do resort to those yummy options, but Sat. I was prepared with a healthier option.  I always feel better about the day (myself) when I choose the healthier route, but I struggle to make the "right" decisions many times.   On Sat. after finishing the 20 miles, I had a mile walk back to the car, which I kind-of like.  I was ready to be finished, but it's nice to have a little walk after finishing a long run.  When I made it to the car, I opened the door, and finished the open bottle of Gatorade, I stretched a little (not enough).  Soon after, I sat in the car and had my oats mixture.  I also continued to try to drink as much water as possible.   The rest of Sat. included some walking around, eating and drinking throughout the day, and about a 20-40 min. nap.    Yes, I consumed more calories than needed throughout the day,  but one advantage in over fueling is that I do believe it helps in recovery.  Throughout the day, some of the options were healthy or "healthyish", and some, not so much, more along the "treat" side of things.  (noted on previous blog - when I'm "really training" to "RACE" - my portion control, and my choices,  are much better.  When I'm not focused,  I eat some unhealthy options, but i also want to get some healthy options in, so at the end of the day, too many calories - my curse.  I struggle, but I continue to try to choose healthier options) 

I enjoy reading what others do, and what works for them, and wanted to share some of what works for me on my long runs.  It's getting warm out - Happy Running!
 tips from people who know much more than I.....

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Spring 2012 Racing Recap

Hello Blog World......

Obviously, I haven't been posting lately, I have been keeping up with my favorite blogs from time to time.  Sometimes I comment, sometimes I do not, but always enjoy checking in.  On a whim, which is the way I live my life these days,  I decided I really should post an update.  So to update everyone,  I will give you the week to week narrative of my training,  etc..

*My last post was in Feb. and it was about my first race of 2012, the Sweetheart 5k in Gulf Shores, AL 23:01.  You may recall, I was pleased to start the 5k season only 3 seconds away from a PR (personal record). 

*Feb. - I started #BurpeeFebruary and each day of the month was the number of burpees to be completed (Feb. 5th - 5 burpees, Feb. 15th - 15 burpees, and Feb. 29th - 29 burpees with push-ups included.   Of course I would pick a "leap year" to do the burpee challenge :)

*Wk of Feb. 13th - 60 miles
*Wk of Feb 20th - 26.5 miles - Arbor Day 5k in Biloxi, MS  great weather, great course, but couldn't run fast ???  23:22  (weight is one of the answers, but....????)  I did this fun challenge on Sunday   - "Outside Your Comfort Zone" 50s Workout -  ouch, tough, and had to modify it, but completed in 51:29

Wk of Feb. 27th - 39.5 miles - Get Your Rear in Gear 5k in Savannah, GA  - 24:16 - warm & humid and decided before the race to "tempo run it".  It still hurt at tempo pace.....  Chad and I had an excellent trip visiting Savannah.   It was nice and relaxing and I managed to get in some running.  (my favorite time to run is while on vacation, exploring different cities on foot)  Another year older on this trip too - eeekkkkk

*wk of March 5th - 58 miles -I decided another challenge was in order for March, so a few of us participated in "Plank-itMarch".  I started at 30 seconds and each week added 30 seconds to the plank time, ending the month at 3:00 minute planks.  bye bye March - TOUGH!   In preparing for the "Blue Ridge Marathon" - "the toughest road marathon in America" - i've been running on hills some solo, many with Terri.  This week's long run was 15 miles, running on hills with friends (Kily and Terri) - we had a great run 9:14 avg., on the hills.  After the run, I set the treadmill incline on 10, and walked 1 mile.

wk of March 12th - 55 miles - this wk Terri and I started running hill repeats.   on Tues., Terri and I ran "the billboard run" - a 3/4 mile hill series that makes me want to cry, lol .  (thank you Terri - CAN NOT do this workout solo).   Fri evening Terri and I ran a race, the St. Thomas Irish-Italian Fest 5k.  Terri is having an excellent year of running so I encouraged her to run the race to get a new 5k PR.  (she had run a 5k in 2 years).  She came in 2nd overall female (22:45) in the race and PR'ed by several minutes - sweet.  I followed her as closely as I could and I ended the evening with a 1 SECOND PR - 22:58, and 4th overall female.   (80 degrees & still carrying the extra lbs. - yes I'm excited)    Sat. am, Terri, Kily, and I partnered up again.  I had 22 miles, and they ran 14.  with the "fast for us" 5k,  Fri. evening, we ran this one slow on the hills.

Wk of March 19th - 39 miles - Tues. Terri and I ran hill repeats in Bent Creek.  The hill is .37.  It's tough!  I ran the ups and downs hard.  I'm running some downhills hard, to prepare my quads for the steep downhills at Blue Ridge 26.2.   On Sat.,  Terri and I were back at the races.  The Azalea Trail 10K in Mobile, AL.  This was my 26th running of the ATR.  It wasn't a good race day for me 49:34 official , Garmin 49:22 - too warm and humid.  Terri ended the day with another huge PR.  so excited for her...... 

Wk of March 26th - 49.5 miles - on Tues., Terri and I were back at the "billboards" running the hill series.  Fri night another 5k - I prefer the evening 5ks with the lower humidity (77ish degrees)  Cancer Fighting Fool 5k - 23:09.  I won the ladies overall, which means the fast ladies didn't show up.  Yay, because I won a $40.00 gift certificate to "Gourmet & More".  Yes, that's going to help my current weight issues - lol  
Yesterday, was my last long run before Blue Ridge.  I put together a "challenging" 20 miler. (if you're a local reader,  the route was 40th, Richburg, Cascades, Honeysuckle, up Hwy 11, billboards & Bonhomie loop)  It's the toughest training, long run that I've ever attempted.  Terri and Audrey ran the first 10 with me, and Kily joined us around 4.5 miles and he "gutted-out" the rest of the run with me.
So thankful to have friends to run with.  We chatted and laughed and got it done.    With the 5k Fri. night, and the extra hilly course, I was happy to finish the 20 at 9:50 avg. 
5 weeks after the first Outside Your Comfort Zone 50s workout, I repeated the workout.  I finished the workout 2+ minutes faster this go around.    (48:44)

So now I will taper a little.  While I have mentioned I have been training on hills, truly the hills here locally, will NOT compare to the race ahead.  Luckily, I have ZERO time expectations.  I do hope the hill training and the cross training will help me to have a solid effort, but most of all,  this one is for fun.   (note:  if I had been training to "race" the marathon, I would have limited my spring racing, but with the "planned, no expectations 26.2 ahead, I was free to race until my heart is content.  My heart is just about content ... ha ha.  Also, I've realized this spring that it appears that I will continue to struggle with weight issues when I'm not seriously training for a marathon.  It seems that's the only time I have the motivation to keep the weight down.  It's still frustrating because while I obviously enjoy the food, the WHOLE time the extra lbs. BUG ME.  It's maddening! 

The April Challenge is Mountain Climbers.  Terri tells me (via her trainer), the "correct" mountain climber is with the legs coming forward with the knee OUT to the side, not with the knee coming straight ahead, like I've always done them.  I tried it this way, and it is much more challenging.  I will start with 30 seconds of mountain climbers and add 30 seconds each week.  This is a "make your own rules" mountain climber month, so make up your own challenging rules and get started with me.  Jump in anytime during April.