Buffalo Creek Half Marathon Training – Week 1

How is it August already?! I feel like just yesterday we were still training for Pittsburgh and now we’ve all moved on to training for fall races! Crazy! Since everyone else has been training for BCHM for 3 or 4 weeks I feel like I am SO behind. This capped off the first week of training for me and it was great. When I picked my training plan (Hal Higdon’s Intermediate Half) I didn’t realize how LOW the mileage is. I only ran 16 miles this past week, but I felt like they were all quality. Thanks to this plan, and my heart rate training, I really feel like they all served a purpose and I can feel that they did. That probably sounds crazy, but for the first time in ages I really feel like I am making true progress with my training. That is an amazing feeling. Also. I have 0 running related pictures…so cat pictures it is! Sorry, but not really.
Monday: 3 miles 36:36 12:12 pace Avg HR: 153.  I always struggle with Monday runs, which is why I usually make that my rest day. This time around it’s time to suck it up and get it done. I could NOT drag myself out of bed that morning so I had to wait until after work to do it. It was HOT and sunny out, but I told myself that it was no biggie. Since it was an easy day, I didn’t have to worry about my pace or throwing down some major repeats. It wasn’t terrible, but it reminded my why I love running early; I was tired, and my legs were like lead and it was pretty toasty. I was disappointed when I realized that soon I’ll be doing most of my runs at that time since it will  be too dark to run before work. Major sad panda over here.
Sad Panda

Sad Panda

Tuesday: 5x400m repeats. I did not have high hopes for this one. I wasn’t feeling 100%, and the humidity was brutal. I usually do a 1 mile warmup, but only did about 3/4 of one – I had to make a pit stop home and since I was right by the road I do the repeats on I decided to just get them started. My target heart rate for repeats is 186-190, and I noticed that since the repeats are so short it’s not a lot of time for me to get my heart rate that high. Even with that, my splits were: 7:47, 7:35, 8:07, 7:51, 8:07 . My recovery intervals are .10 . I was really ecstatic to see splits in the SEVENS. WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?! Apparently, there is an inner speed demon that is just waiting to bust out.  Because of the recovery intervals, it’s hard to give an accurate representation of average heart rate, pace etc. but here they are: 1:.69 miles (does not include my warmup because I have to reset my watch) 16:00 9:29 pace. Avg HR: 171 BOOM!
Rub muh belly, please

Rub muh belly, please

Wednesday: 3 miles  33:00 11:00 pace Avg HR: 152  . This run doesn’t have a specific designation (not easy, not speed, not pace, etc) I designated this as a medium pace with the heart rate zone between my easy and long run zone: 155-160. I was met with 80% humidity but it didn’t seem too terrible, and I was able to keep my heart rate in the zone. Actually, it was just UNDER the zone at 152 so that was even better for the pace I was able to manage.
No respect. On the table, on my sweater. You can tell she's concerned about the ramifications

No respect. On the table, on my sweater. You can tell she’s concerned about the ramifications

Thursday: Weights! I finally moved on to the next stage of New Rules of Lifting for Women a few weeks ago and I really enjoy those workouts. The ONLY move I hate is the Dumbbell Cuban Snatch. It feels so unnatural and like I’m not doing it right (even with 3 lb weights) so I decided I’m not doing it anymore. I’ll substitute it for….something. Not sure what, but just not that!
Now we are crossing the lines. On the counter, bird watching.

Now we are crossing the lines. On the counter, bird watching. Obviously the counter was cleaned and a new towel was put down. And he was back 5 minutes later.

Friday: 3 miles 30:00 10 min pace Avg HR 167 . This is supposed to be a pace run and my heart rate should be between 170-174, so again I was a little low but still a really good effort. I was a touch disappointed that it wasn’t as fast as last week’s pace run (9:5x pace) but had I kicked it up a notch and gotten my HR up 5 more bpm I would have been back in the 9’s. It’s amazing to me how those few beats can so drastically effect your pace!
Breakfast is apparently self serve these days...

Breakfast is apparently self serve these days…

Saturday: 5 miles 1:02 12:23 pace Avg HR: 137 I met Jen at North Park bright and early at 6:30! The roads were practically empty (except, I did manage to get stuck behind the ONE other person out…going 5 miles under the speed limit), and it was so nice and cool. I only had 5 on the schedule so we did the first loop together; it was great to be reunited! Our schedules haven’t matched up for the last few weeks and it had been awhile since we tackled any miles together, so we got to catch up which made the miles FLY by! Before I knew it, we were back at our cars and Jen was fueling up to tackle the last 4 miles. Our roles are reversed for this training cycle – during marathon training I was always the one setting of to face the last few miles solo and now it’s Jen’s turn! She crushed it (of course), and used her last miles as a fast finish! Awesome!  It was awesome to be finished with my “long run” (I use long very loosely here since it was only 5 miles) before 8 AM! I literally had the whole day to get stuff done!
Sunday: Rest! I remembered when I was crawling into bed that I’m supposed to use Sunday as another weights day. My bad.
I’m really pleased with this week. I only totaled about 16.5 miles and I’m good with that. It can be tough to look on Daily Mile and see everyone else logging 10 and 20 miles per week more than me but I need to swallow my pride, and focus on me and my goals. For a while I was focused on quantity not quality in my plans, but I’m starting to appreciate that that may not always be the best option for me. It’s awesome to have focus and direction again!! I can’t wait to see what this training cycle brings 🙂
How was your week? Please tell me your pets have some bad manners/bad habits too?
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Buffalo Creek Half Marathon Training Plan AND Sharing Some Exciting News!

This is my first week of training for the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon (BCHM from now on because that is just too much to type!), and I have yet to post my training plan. I’m finally getting around to that, and to be honest, it’s the not the most exciting. I tried to make my own plan – I did. I sat down at the kitchen table 3 weeks ago surrounded by planners, calendars, books, printouts, 7 different colored pens and….I just couldn’t do it. Nothing was making sense, or flowing and to be honest, I just didn’t want to do it.
I was so overwhelmed for some reason that making a plan seemed impossible. I decided to go back to the basics and stick with something that I know works. I used Hal Higdon’s beginner half marathon (Novice 1, I think) plan years ago for my first race and since that is my 2nd best half marathon time, I figured that Hal wouldn’t lead me astray this time either. I went back and forth between the Intermediate and Advanced plans and was even going to “merge” them – I loved the idea of doing long runs by time instead of distance but ultimately decided that might not be the best option. I’m on the slower side and if the plan calls for a 2 hour long run I may only get 10 or 11 (at most) miles in. I don’t feel like that’s enough. With the intermediate I’ll get a 12 miler in, and I know I’ll feel much more confident on race day with a 12 miler or 2 under my belt. So, Intermediate it is!! I’m also slightly shifting the plan around so that Saturday will be my long run day (the race is on Saturday, and I have *thing* about doing my long runs on the same day the race will be. Don’t ask.), and Sunday will be a rest day instead of Monday. This doesn’t sound like much, but I hate running on Mondays. For some reason, my body just doesn’t like it. Luckily, Mondays will be easy days so I don’t think it will be too horrible.
This should do

This should do

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ll be doing this all by heart rate so my zone are:
Recovery Runs (Monday): <155 bpm
Repeats (Every other Tuesday): 186-190 bpm
Tempo (Every other Tuesday): 170-178
Medium Pace (Wednesday): 155-160 bpm
Pace Runs (Friday): 170-174
Long Runs (Saturday): 151-164
For the last month or two, I’ve been doing a pretty good job of strength training 3x week and I’m going to do my best to stick with that, but we’ll see.
I have a little something extra going on in the background that will take priority over all of this, though.
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I’M GOING BACK TO SCHOOL!!!! I’ve applied, and been accepted to, Point Park University. I’ll be doing the classes online because I have no desire to go to night classes AND spend 9+ hours every Saturday in a classroom. The online option will give me more freedom and flexibility to continue working full time, and have a little bit of a life. I hope. This will obviously be my first priority and once classes start (August 23rd. I can’t wait!), I’ll have to see how training fits in. If I need to cut back and drop a weekday run then that’s what I’ll do.
I also have a vacation smack dab in the middle of this training cycle AND school that we’ll have to work around but I’ll worry about that when we get there 🙂
Gizmo is not thrilled with the idea. She'd rather sleep on the laptop than let me use it.

Gizmo is not thrilled with the idea. She’d rather sleep on the laptop than let me use it.

Obviously this is a huge step that warrants it’s own post, and once I have my classes scheduled and a better idea of what’s going on I’ll definitely be sharing!

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.

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.

Pittsburgh Marathon Training – Week 10

Spring is finally here!! Of course, Pittsburgh welcomed the first day of spring with snow. Typical. I know I will be saying this every week from now until race day, but I still can’t believe that it’s almost here! Just a few more long runs to go… This last week has really gotten away from me – can you tell?? It’s freaking Saturday and I’m just getting this posted.. Oops. There aren’t even any pictures to share…not a single one. Oh well, it’s this or nothing. Hopefully I’ll have something next week (don’t get your hopes up)

Monday – Rest Day. It was another GORGEOUS day, and as usual I couldn’t throw the shorts on and enjoy it. I did get to open the windows in the house to let some fresh air in. The kids always enjoy window time as well – watching the birds go CRAZY outside makes them go crazy INSIDE. I love it!

Tuesday – I was feeling a little off and debated skipping my run, but I had a new route to try out that was near my office and I was really excited about it so I figured I should at least give it a shot. This much harder than I expected (which was a good thing) but the wind was crazy! There were a few times that I went backwards instead of forward. My stomach wasn’t really on board with this run and I had to make a brief pit stop at the office but after that I was A-OK.  I could have done without the wind but at least the sun was shining!

Wednesday – Strength day.  I’m not sure that I’ve ever detailed what my A& B days are. Today was A  and that includes: Squats 3×8  Alternating sets of: Pushups and Barbell Rows both 3×8 & Alternating sets of Step Ups 3×8  and Swiss Ball Jackknives 3×15. Since I don’t have super heavy dumbbells and the ones I’m using for the Step Ups are too light I do 3x 15 of those as well.

Thursday – Speed. I wanted nothing to do with this run at all. I was exhausted and was tired just driving home. I debated moving this to Friday but decided against it and that ultimately was for the best as Friday was a total wash. I started out with a warm up mile (11:31) and set out for 3 speedy ones. I went 10:38, 10:25, 10:29 and they were tough. Not only did I feel like I was going sooooo slow, but my legs actually hurt. My quads were on fire, like it was mile 23 or like it had been months since I went for a run. It was definitely strange, and terrible for my confidence as we get into the closing weeks of training . I just have to keep trusting the process and hope that all of this work and pushing through on tired legs will pay off in the long run.  I was so exhausted after this run. I could barely keep my eyes open at dinner and fell asleep not long after on the couch. It was not pretty.

Friday – This was supposed to be strength, my B day, by that didn’t happen. My alarm went off and I considered staying in bed because I was still really tired, but I know that a lot of times once I get my coffee I’m good to go. Then I rolled over and saw four furry faces silently judging me so that also motivated me to get up. I made my coffee and promptly fell back asleep on the couch. Weights did not happen, and I don’t even feel bad. My body is telling me that it needs a break, and I need to listen to that. I considered not even going to work so that I could catch up on some rest but I knew that we were already short a few people, and I hate calling off, and using sick time, unless I am really really sick…so I went.

Saturday – I had 9 miles planned, but was fully prepared to cut that short or scrap it all together if I was still tired so that I could be as fresh as possible for Sunday (my 1st 20 miler of the training cycle!!). My other plan was that if I WAS feeling good, I would add a mile for an even 10, which would also give me 40 miles for the week. For some reason, that seemed reeeeally important to me. It was cool, but not freezing so you know I was rocking the shorts and was happy I did – I was nice and comfortable the whole time. I used the same route as last Saturday, and while it was still tough it didn’t feel as difficult so that is good. Don’t get me wrong – it was still hard and I was still gasping for air like a fish out of water, but death didn’t feel as eminent as it did last week. I’m getting my mojo back! I think. I hope. 

Sunday – My FIRST 20 miles of the training cycle! I was excited for this – I really do love the long run aspect of training. Being out there for hours, and crushing some major double digit miles (no matter how slow) never fails to make me feel like a total bad ass. Normally 20 miles around North Park wouldn’t be a huge thing – 4 loops around the lake and done. BUT Allegheny County doesn’t seem to realize that some of us have marathons to train for (rude), and without Ingomar Road it makes things a LOT tougher.  I didn’t feel like doing the new horseshoe loop, so I started mapping out some new options. In theory, the course should have looked like this: Kummer, to McKinney, to N Ridge to Pearce Mill and up to JC Stone Field. It was perfect because Jen had 10 miles and I had 20, so I could just do 2 BIG loops and be done. So much easier than 4 little loops. However, I can’t read a map for shit and the roads weren’t clearly marked so I took us waaaaaaay out of the way and while it was very pretty and scenic it also meant that we didn’t get to climb N. Ridge. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because I really don’t think I could have done that climb twice. We ended up just going up the hill behind the Boat House, then turning around and going back up behind the Boat House again. We got back to our cars, and I said goodbye to Jen as I set out for another loop, the right way this time. I got up Kummer without too much of a problem until the very tippy top by the golf course/horse show ring. I almost broke into a walk, but held on. I made the correct turn down McKinney this time, but was already dreading the N Ridge climb. Like really dreading. I almost didn’t do it, but I would have felt worse for wimping out so I went for it.  I started up, and knew right away that it was going to be brutal. I just kept chugging away, and some guy went bounding up the hill in front of me and just BLEW past me. I had to assume that he just started or that this was his only hill because he was looking WAY too fresh on that beast. This sucker was never ending and I will admit that I had to stop a few times so that I could take a deep breath or two before continuing. I normally prefer to not stop or walk because it’s so hard for me to get started again, and then once I start walking I will just keep throwing the walk breaks in, but this was necessary. The good news here, is that I was able to recover pretty well and once I got past that initial climb I didn’t have to (or want to) stop and/or walk again. Overall, this was a good run. I would have like to get a negative split, but this was a REALLY aggressive route to tackle and the fact that I kept an almost even pace through all of that is A-OK by me. This was definitely a lot, and on Daily Mile, Mike mentioned that this may actually be too much. Pick one hill or the other, but not both – that could risk injury or burnout and I need to get to the starting line healthy. When he put it that way, I realized that he is exactly right. I have two more 20+ milers coming up, plus 2 more step backs so I think I’ll alternate Kummer with N. Ridge so I can keep my legs guessing.