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.

 

FridayRest.

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.