Pittsburgh Marathon Training – Week 15

Holy poop. It is RACE WEEK!!! Just typing that out has my little sausage fingers trembling with a mixture of excitement and terror. At this point, I know there is nothing more to do than (TRY) to relax and make sure I don’t do something asinine  (like thinking running a 15 miler as my last long run is a good idea. Spoiler alert: I didn’t!). I only ran 20 miles this week…it was supposed to be 28 but sometimes life happens and running falls to the bottom of the priority list. This was one of those times, and to be honest it’s probably for the best that I only got 3 days in; my legs should be READY to run come race morning!

Monday – 3 guesses to what I did today…first 2 don’t count. AND GO!!


There is a little gray nose poking out of those blankets.

There is a little gray nose poking out of those blankets.

Yes. I rested.

Tuesday3.71 miles 42:21 (11:26 pace). You can so tell it’s The Taper. Everything felt difficult, I kept stopping at the house because I thought I needed a bathroom and didn’t want to do the penguin waddle home. I finally just gave up at 3.71…I had only planned on 4 anyway and I wasn’t putting my shoes back on for a quarter mile (we have a STRICT ‘No Shoes in the House’ rule…no matter how close you are to crapping your pants). Sort-of not sorry about this.

Wednesday – I debated running on Wednesday or not. I had a hair appointment on Thursday so it was either run Wednesday or Friday. It was cold, and raining and even though I normally LOVE a good run in the rain I just didn’t feel like it today. This decision would be the reason that I only got 3 days in.

Thursday – My mom was admitted to the hospital after an incident at work, and so I spent most of the day at the hospital waiting for test and doctors. I  had to take care the of The Wieners since my mom wasn’t coming home and for whatever reason I thought it was a brilliant idea to let them stay at our house, rather than me sleep at my mom’s. HAHAHAHAHAA. It was like having two infants in the house. No sleep was had by anyone, and I thought the cats were going to kill me.

Friday – Mom had more tests, but we expected her to be discharged. I went out to the hospital bright and early and figured we would be home by dinner time and I could get a quick 3 or 4 miles in. This is the 2nd HAHAHAHAHAHAHA of the recap.  She was released, but I didn’t get her home until almost 9:30, so I didn’t get home until 10. Just in time to see the Pens lose Game 5. Awesome.

Saturday6 miles 1:06:57 (11:10 pace). April 25th. The perfect date:

All you need is a light jacket. And gloves. And a hat. Maybe a scarf too,

All you need is a light jacket. And gloves. And a hat. Maybe a scarf too, if you live in Pittsburgh.

However, that was bullshit. It.was.SNOWING. What in the ever loving hell is this?! We just can’t catch a break. I did my favorite loop around the house just to keep practicing my hill strategy. All things considered, this was pretty good; two days of late nights, shitty hospital food, stress, etc. can do a number on you so I was A-OK with this pace!

Sunday10 miles 1:52:31 (11:15 pace) LAST.LONG.RUN. Jiminy Cricket! The plan said 12, but for whatever reason 10 sounded better. I figured it’s better not to push it this late in the game. The weather was awesome. Cool, but sunny and a light breeze.

Let's do this.

Let’s do this.

If we could have this weather next Sunday, that would be fantastic. As long as we don’t hit the predicted high of 77 until after the race is over. Scratch that. In the 15 minutes it took me to put this post together, the forecast now shows rain. And so it beings.  And again, because I went back to re-read/edit and the rain is gone…cloudy with a high of 75. Hold me closer, Tony Danza.


Beating the Taper – Spring Cleaning!!

We are officially in full taper mode right now (holy crap…IT’S RACE WEEK!!!!), and if you’re like me…you’re going nuts. I‘ve found the best way to beat this is to keep myself busy and catch up on things that I didn’t have the time, or energy, for during training.  The first way to occupy my time and mind is by cleaning!

My husband is a neat freak, but with 4 cats and me (he refers to me as Hurricane Amanda) things can still get messy. We dust/vacuum at least 3 or 4 times per week, and any clutter makes him twitch so things are normally pretty clean but there are somethings that can get overlooked. My Big 3 are:

                Light Fixtures/Ceiling Fans: Lamp Shades need vacuumed, and we take the actual glass fixtures down from the lights and ceiling fans and wash & dry them. We took every.single.glass pane off of our chandelier, washed, dried, and hung them back up.

So pretty when it's clean. Kind of like me...LOL!

So pretty when it’s clean. Kind of like me…LOL!

I can’t BELIEVE how much brighter it was in our house after! This doesn’t take a ton of time, but it is still a really good way to distract yourself! And when was the last time you cleaned the blades of your ceiling fans? We try to do ours monthly and they can get pretty gnarly.

                Pet Beds: 4 furry cats and boy, do they love their beds and cat trees.  Holy cannoli! I vacuumed all three beds (Peanut doesn’t ever use them, so we stopped trying to buy him one. He’s much happier using my pillow), and I’m pretty sure I could have made another full sized cat out of what was in the canister!

It's amazing how nasty these things get.

It’s amazing how nasty these things get.

I flip them inside out and use the brush attachment of the vacuum to get in all of the corners/folds.  We also have 2 cat trees (1 upstairs/1 downstairs) and when they aren’t in the beds, they’re on the trees.  They also need a thorough cleaning…and probably more often than they actually get.

             Vacuum Cleaner: Yes. You need to clean your cleaning supplies!!  

I vacuum the vacuum cleaner. WHAT?!

I vacuum the vacuum cleaner. WHAT?!

Again, I do this every couple of months (but should do it monthly) because the filters get clogged and bogged down. I just cleaned mine last week and I can’t believe how disgusting it was AND how much better it’s cleaning now!  I take the filter out, vacuum it off (yes, I have a vacuum cleaner to clean my vacuum) to get the excess dust off and then rinse it off under warm water.  I also wash out the canister and wipe everything down and let everything air dry for a day or two to make sure it’s completely dry; otherwise it can smell really musty the next time you turn that vacuum on! I’ve always referred to vacuums as sweepers, and was surprised one day when someone didn’t know what I was talking about. Is this a regional/Pittsburgh term, like gumband, that I don’t know about??


This is the look I get (x4) when I start the vacuum cleaner.

This is the look I get (x4) when I start the vacuum cleaner.


This is just one of the way I’m going to keep busy during my taper, but I have a few more fun posts about what I’m up to!


What are your “often forgotten” about places/things that you should probably go clean now?

Pittsburgh Marathon Training – Week 14

First week of taper – DONE.  I remember when I trained and tapered for my first full marathon what a bundle of nerves I was for the 2 whole weeks before the race…I basically resembled an over-caffeinated squirrel. This time around, I’m a little more relaxed; not a lot but enough. I’m more of an over caffeinated chipmunk instead of squirrel.  I have a few fun posts to publish in the next couple of days of how I’m keeping myself busy during the taper and that’s helping to take my mind off of the race.

I mentioned last week that I’m all kinds of nervous that my stomach would not cooperate on race day, but you guys are awesome and had some great suggestions that I already started implementing aaaand *knock on wood*/*fingers crossed* I think they really helped!!

Monday – Rest Day.

Because it's been a while...#whereswilbur??

Because it’s been a while…#whereswilbur??

Tuesday7 miles. I was nervous that my stomach would be cranky and that the awful pain from Saturday would come back but…NOTHING! I felt great the whole time, and was happy to see a 10:54 average pace for this. I used my standard big loop around the neighborhood, and there is a long gradual climb right in the middle that I think is a good simulator for Oakland. It’s not exact, but I like that it helps me practice the mental aspect of running a hill that seems never ending.

This chart makes it look massive, but it's really not.

The climb starts around 3.5 and goes until mile 5.

I like to pick different point along the road, and run to that. So, as I start the climb I look for a road sign, mailbox, pole, etc that is ahead and focus on that. Once I get there, I pick a new landmark and focus on that…and just keep repeating until I get to the top. Some days, if I’m not on my A-game the landmarks are really close together and other days I only need to pick 2 or 3 to get me through. Either way, it works like a charm. Try it…you’ll love it!

WednesdayRest. I hate to admit it, but I definitely abandoned my strength training. At first it was due to physically not being able to, and now I feel like it would do more harm than good since I’m so sore after. I try to throw some body weight work in when I think of it – some air squats, lunges, planks, etc. but…I usually don’t think about it so it usually doesn’t happy. Sorry ‘bout that.

We do rest days right in this house

We do rest days right in this house

Thursday6 miles. Technically 5.89 because….I really had to go to the bathroom. Overshare? Maybe, but I’m sure we’ve all been there. All of a sudden you need to GO and thank god I was close to home or that could have been a disaster.  I was juuuuust shy of race pace at an 11:04, but since I was all kinds of speedy on Tuesday I was pretty happy with this.

Don't act like you've never done the "penguin waddle" home.

Don’t act like you’ve never done the “penguin waddle” home.



Saturday6 miles 1:07 (11:19 pace). Holy shit where did the heat come from?!  I started my run a little later than I normally do and the sun was out in full force…there wasn’t much wind and very little cloud cover. It.was.HOT. To be honest, I didn’t think much of it at first but not long after I started running I could feel myself struggling – everything felt very difficult, and it was just hard. I could feel my stomach getting angry and I stopped at the house to avoid a repeat of Thursday’s near disaster and got some water.  Rather than doing my big loop, I stayed close to home (just in case) and did several smaller loops. This was basically a repeat of last Saturday’s run: warm, sunny, and a lot of interruptions. I kept getting text messages and phone calls and while I usually ignore them these ones needed to be answered…there were a lot of stops and starts and wasting time. As I started mile 6 I could feel my stomach tightening up and I decided to not even try for 7. It’s taper time and I should be cutting back anyway. As I chugged some ice water and tried to cool down I started to think. MAYBE my stomach pain when I’m running isn’t connected to the other issues I’ve been having (those have thankfully been going away). Both runs where I had trouble the conditions were similar – the weather was not at all what I’m used to. Lots of sun and HEAT. I’ve spent the last 4+ months running in the Arctic Tundra. Seriously. There were many days where it was colder here than Antarctica. I checked. My body doesn’t remember what sun, and heat, and humidity are. I also know that I was not well hydrated for cool conditions, let alone 70 degrees.  I spent the rest of the day chugging water in the hopes that maybe this was the answer, and judging by Sunday’s run I think it might be. I have one more long run to test this theory out but…THIS is my biggest race day fear – heat.  There haven’t been many opportunities to run in warm conditions and that could cause major issues if that’s what we get on May 3rd.

Sunday –  15 miles 2:58 (11:54 pace) I met Jen for a long run. I had 15 miles (you know training is almost over when you’re excited that you’re running a “short” 15) and I was really nervous to see how things would go. The last few long runs I’ve done have sucked so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I took the advice of Nichole and Gretchen and switched things up with my gels.   I would normally only takes gels at miles 5 & 10 during a training run, but to practice the fueling strategy I fueled at miles 3.5, 7.5 11.5 and I alternated Gu Roctanes with Honey Stingers and was thrilled that I tolerated each one without issue! Those worked so well, that I’m pretty sure that’s the combination I’m going to use on race day: Gu, Stinger, Gu, Stinger…and 1 more Gu just in case. The run itself was great as well – it started out chilly but sunny and as usual the miles ticked by and before I knew it I was on my own for the last 3 miles. I wanted to try to pick up the pace for the last few and practice a fast finish. It was really tough – I was tired (my dinner the night before was not my usual pasta thanks to a night out for the hockey game), it was warming up and I was at the hard part of the lake loop. I didn’t even check my splits because I thought I failed miserably but when I uploaded them I was shocked to see that I was pretty close to race pace. I’m not sure that’s a good thing though – according to my race plan, I should be starting to speed up a little around mile 13 or 14 (after the Oakland Hill), not struggling to barely hold pace. BUT this is the taper, and your body does funny shit during it so hopefully it will get itself together in the next few days!

15 splits 4-19

I cannot believe that we are 10 days out from race day. It seems like just yesterday it was Christmas, and we were all making our training plans (and checking them twice), and now….the countdown is ON.

Pittsburgh Marathon Training Weeks 12 AND 13!

Well, hello there!! As I was getting ready to write up my Week 13 recap…I realized I never posted a 12 recap! Oopsies!  So you get a 2 for 1 deal! Week 12 was a step back week, and I was still feeling less than 100% so I scaled it waaaaaay back and my body was really happy with that.

A quick rundown of Week  12 before moving onto PEAK WEEK (eep!)

Monday Rest.

Tuesday4 miles. I was starting to feel a little better, but was still pretty tired so when I saw that for a step back week I was supposed to run 38 miles, I cut back on a few days.

Wednesday – Rest.

Thursday – Rest.

Friday6 rainy miles. I had the day off of work, and after 2 rest days I decided to give it a try. Not too terrible…just rainy.

Saturday – I met Jen for our long run at North Park. I was supposed to run 15 miles, but the night before Tall One suggested that I cut back to 12 so that I wasn’t running by myself in case I started to not feel well. I told him I’d think about it, but in my mind I was still planning to do all 15. When I met up with Jen, she also thought it was a good idea if I stuck with 12 instead of pushing it; I realized that they were both right and that I should maybe try being responsible for a change. We ran all 12 together along our favorite Hill Hell route. I felt…OK. We both agreed to keep the pace super easy and that was a big help! I could have done 15, but I’m really glad that I played it smart and stayed with 12.

Sunday – 6 miles. I felt SO good! Not tired. No pain. I even managed to crank out a smidge of speed. BOOM.


WEEK 12!

Peak.Week. I wasn’t sure how this would go. I’ve got part of my “issues” under control – the fatigue is slowly going away thanks to my B12 and Iron supplements, but I’m still dealing with stomach pains and have a few more tests to undergo. I decided to take this one run at a time and adjust when and where I needed to.

Monday – Rest.

Tuesday6 STRONG miles. I felt really good about this run and it gave me some hope going into the rest of the week.

Wednesday – Strength! I was feeling OK, so I decided to bring back my NROLFW work. This was not the best of ideas; it’s been several weeks since I’ve lifted anything so my legs were on FIRE after this. Oops.

Thursday – My legs were tight and sore and normal walking hurt so I did not have high hopes for this run. My first two steps told me that this was going to be looooooong 6 or 7 miles – legs were not happy and my stomach was not on board either…it was really hurting. Luckily, Mother Nature intervened with a wicked thunderstorm that sent me scurrying back to my house after only 1.5 miles. I was not even a little upset about it, and I figured that I could try a few miles Friday.

Friday – My legs were still a little sore, but I knew that I needed to get a run in. I decided against all 6-7 miles since I was running 22 the next day. I went with 5, and instead of pushing it I tried to take it a little easier to conserve energy for Saturday.

Saturday – My LAST 20+ miler! I decided to do the 20 mile course preview run with SCRR to work out any of the last minute kinks/nerves that I have about the 2nd half of the course.  That was the plan, anyway. I left this run 100% doubting myself and questioning whether or not I can/should/WILL run this marathon.  Let me explain…you might want to get comfortable for this one. I parked on the river trail and ran over for a 1.5 mile warmup, got checked in and hung out with Jen and Shaun. I WAS FREEZING!!! I knew that I would eventually warm up (I did) but omfg, standing around in the shadows and wind had me so cold I couldn’t feel my fingers!  I started out with the 12:00 pacer, but after a couple of miles decided to move ahead with the 11:30 group. At first, that seemed great – we were cruising right along and all was fantastic. Then we started to speed up. Not just a little bit, but a lot a bit. Some miles came in at 11:07…one came in at 10:50. I started to wonder if I accidentally joined the wrong group, so I didn’t say anything. Someone else finally spoke up and mentioned that we were going too fast. I (think) she was one of the pacers, but the other guy pacing didn’t seem too concerned by this. I really didn’t want to get left behind, so I tried to make sure I kept up with the group, despite some miles being at race pace or better and I know that caused me to fatigue earlier than I should. Some people weren’t able to, but we would stop at the crosswalks and make sure that we were all together before continuing on.  Have I mentioned how much I HATE crosswalks and city running in general??? I never know if I should be stopping my watch, and then if I do I half the time forget to restart it…I HATE stopping and starting so much (even though I know there isn’t anything we can do)…I just don’t like it. This soured my mood very quickly and I was not happy. At the first water stop in Station Square (that was OUT of water), I considered bailing and going back home but didn’t. I didn’t want to have to find my way back to Market Square to check out (not that it mattered…which I’ll explain later) so I stuck with it. My stomach was also hurting, which had me upset. I put my headphones in for a bit to try to drown out some of the negativity and that helped a bit. We continued on through the South Side, across the Birmingham Bridge and up the big, scary hill into Oakland. We stopped partway up to let the rest of the group catch up and for once I was reeeally happy we stopped. I could have kept going, but my heartrate was through the roof and my breathing was really labored. We continued on through Oakland and I found myself praying that we would hit a light so I could re-catch my breath. This makes me incredibly nervous that I am going to be wishing for these stops on race day. We made it to the next water stop at True Runner and it felt like we were there for forever. Some people wanted to use the bathroom, and everyone seemed content to just stand around and chat which was so strange to me….I was there to RUN. I understand that you can’t leave anyone behind, and I could have gone off of my own (hahahaha!! If I did that I’d STILL be wondering around Shadyside) so maybe that’s on me, but that SERIOUSLY added to our time.  So, I really have no idea what our true pace was, especially because I suck at managing my Garmin; my mileage is way off because I constantly forgot to restart it.  My stomach was killing me and I think, to an extent, the stopping and starting wasn’t helping. It was getting sunnier and warmer, and I found myself constantly draining my water bottle which is unusual for me. We kept trucking along, and despite how much my stomach was hurting I really enjoyed my group! They were a lot of fun and so encouraging to each other…I loved it! We got to the 15 mile water stop and once again…there was NO water. Just about everyone was out, it was hot…and we were thirsty. We went another mile and decided to stop at a grocery store in Lawrenceville to buy water. I brought some cash and my debit card just in case something happened and I’m so glad I did…we would have been so thirsty otherwise! With only 4 miles to go, I was starting to fade. Even though my watch said 3 hours and some change, with all of the stops I knew we were well past 4 hours of being out there. I tried to suck it up and push through but the pain in my stomach had me nearly doubled over. It was seriously uncomfortable. We finally (mercifully) started down the stretch of Liberty Ave for our last 3 miles, and I could absolutely see how people can come unglued on this part of the course, despite how close you are to the finish. It is BRUTAL. No shade, flat, desolate…it can really eff with your mind.  At some point, I decided to just put my head down and go.  Part of the group had split up, and were a bit in front of my but two other women stayed with me and together we covered the last 2 miles really quickly all things considered.

Somehow we still ended up with an 11:36 average. It's a miracle.

Somehow we still ended up with an 11:36 average. It’s a miracle.

When we finally arrived back in Market Square (to check out) everyone was gone already! The tent was taken down and the only people left were the ones still finishing! I could have bailed back in Station Square and no one would have known or cared whether I finished it or not.  All in all…this run took over 5+ hours. I got back to my car, was tired, hurting, cranky and sunburned!  While I really appreciate the effort it takes to put this run on, I don’t think that I would do it again. As I drove home, I started to wonder if I can run this marathon at all. I tried to figure out if the it was the starting and stopping that hurt, but the more I think about it…the more I wonder if it’s the gels and water. I’m already having tummy issues, and I’m wondering if asking it to digest all of these gels is a little too much? 

Sunday – After a craptastic Saturday, I wasn’t sure how this 10 miler would go. Energy wise, I felt great but I was terrified that my stomach would rebel. I got started and after few miles, I was fine. No pain, no discomfort…nothing!! That made me really happy, and also made me wonder if it really is the gels? I didn’t have any gels or water this time and was fine.  That also has me nervous – how am I going to run this marathon if I can’t take my fuel? I could try a different method but I think that no matter what I put in there would cause discomfort.   I have two more long runs to test this theory, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. Goody.

All in all, peak week wasn’t awful but it didn’t leave me overflowing with the confidence that I hoped it would. Now it’s time to trust the process, respect the taper and hope that I can show up ready on race day! 

I’m also hoping to get back into the swing of blogging and reading/responding to everyone’s blogs – it’s not because I don’t love you guys, I just truly have not had the energy to read/comprehend/respond to posts. It sounds ridiculous, but it was bad. I’ve also been pretty stressed as we try to figure out what exactly is wrong and I’ve just really had to focus on getting better first. I have some fun posts about staying busy during the taper that I want to post soon, and have SO many cat pictures to share!

How are you feeling heading into the taper?

How do you boost your confidence when it’s shaken before a big race?

Pittsburgh Marathon Training – Week 11

This may be the shortest recap ever – no extra words. Just the workouts. And a quick explanation!

I haven’t been feeling well lately, and last week was ROUGH. The symptoms were bad enough to send me to the doctor and had me worried/stressed. No one likes to admit when they are having troubles of any kind, whether it be health, financial, work, etc. and I am no exception.  And everyone has been so sweet checking in to see if I’m OK – it was SO appreciated; I’m still waiting on a few tests & results but it doesn’t seem to be anything serious. The point here is that I was exhausted last week and had barely any energy to go to work let alone get all of my workouts in. This isn’t just being tired from training, and yawning in the afternoon…this is pure fatigue/exhaustion. I can barely keep my eyes open during the day, my mind is foggy and I can barely focus, and the simple task of getting ready for work in the morning has me worn out. Dry Shampoo has become my best friend – I wash my hair at night so I can bank an extra 15 or 20 minutes of sleep in the morning. For the time being strength training is out, and I’m really not pushing my runs. If I feel tired at all, I back off. I don’t want to risk total burnout at this point.

Monday – Rest.

Tuesday – 5 miles 56:12 (11:14 pace).

Wednesday – Rest. No strength training….literally no strength to do any strength.

Thursday – 5 miles 55:48 (11:10 pace) Should have been some kind of speed work, but my only goal here was to get a few miles in.

Friday – Rest.

Saturday – HOLY CRAP WHY IS IT SO COLD?! Seriously. This is total bullshit. The plan was 10 miles at race pace, but it just wasn’t happening. At mile 4 it felt like I hit a brick wall, and I diverted off my route to go home. I ended at 5.89 miles….and that drove me nuts. I HAVE to end on either a .5 or a .0 . But I honestly couldn’t take another step; I was at my front door and I was going through it. Straight to the couch. 5.89 miles 1:06 (11:18 pace)

Sunday – Ideally, I would run 20 miles. I wasn’t sure if that was going to work out, but I headed out to North Park anyway. Jen rocked her long run the day before at the JASR half marathon, so I thought I would be all by my lonesome but Shaun had to run long that day too so he offered to join me for a few. I warned him that I am slooooow, but he was OK with that. We started out, and I must’ve been feeling good because we were cruising along right at race pace, or better. I knew that I would pay dearly for that later, but eh, whatever. We ran 12 together, and I set out to tackle the next 8 solo. I wanted to try North Ridge or Kummer, but I knew that there was no way that going to work. I slightly misjudged my mileage and got back to my car at 19.5 . I really didn’t feel like circling the parking lot like an idiot so I figured that 19.5 was just fine. 19.5 miles 3:41 (11:19 pace).  The last 4.5 were all in the 12+ min miles…I considered it my “cool down” 😉 I also re-learned my lesson that I should NOT start out like a bat out of hell and be a little more controlled.

Hopefully next week, I’ll be back to my normal…wordy self with lots of cat pictures to share 🙂