Pittsburgh Marathon Training – Week 7

Week 7 is done, and Mother Nature just keeps throwing us curve-balls. I think at this point, we are all complaining about it, so I don’t even feel bad anymore.  This training week was pretty decent, even though I cut a run short, and (once again) missed out on one of my two strength training days. I also had a pretty fantastic 10 mile race, so that more than made up for the cut/missed workouts!  I’ve said this before, but the moral of the story is that I just need to haul my buns out of bed early in the AM so this doesn’t keep happening. That should be REALLY fun next week after we lose an hour of sleep. Oh well, it is what it is and it needs to be done.

Monday – Rest day. Also grocery shopping day; it is AMAZING how much money I save when I leave a certain Tall person at home. Yes, I like the company while shopping; and yes, I enjoy the help loading the bags in the car. BUT I also enjoy saving 50+ dollars on my trips.

Tuesday – 4 miles. It was cold, but there was this strange, large burning orb in the sky. It was strange, so I took a picture of it…just in case.

What is it?!

What is it?!

And then my phone died from the cold. Balls.  Overall, this was a good run. I felt good, kept it at an easy effort and was once again pleasantly surprised that this pace felt that good. Progress, yo! 4 miles 42:50 (10:42 pace)

WednesdayStrength! I skipped a workout last week, so I picked up again where I left off. I really like my ‘B’ days, because it’s things that I don’t normally do. Deadlifts are slowly becoming my favorite! In most people’s eyes, I take these way too light but I’m also terrified of hurting my back in some way so I err on the side of caution and go light.

No pictures of weights, but just thought I’d let you know that my cats are still addicted to the iPad. I’m a horrible parent.

Thursday – Should have been speed day, and I must’ve gone harder on the deadlifts than I thought because my legs HURT so good!! I totally forgot that I was on Weiner Dog duty that night so I didn’t get my run in. It was no biggie though since I took Friday off work – I would just do it first thing in the morning. Heh. Riiiiiiiiiiiight.

Friday – I woke up and it.was.COLD. I think the feels like was -9 or 10; BUT the sun was shining so I thought it wouldn’t be so terrible.  I went outside and discovered there was also a light coating of snow on the roads. Wonderful. It was juuust enough to be a nuisance and to cause some slipping and sliding, especially on the downhills. Plus, it was freezing; the sun did not help like I had anticipated. My legs were still incredibly sore, and somewhere in the first mile I remembered I was racing 10 miles the next day. I made a deal with myself that I would run at least 3 miles to try to shake out the soreness in my legs and to treat this like a shake out run before the race. I wanted my legs to feel as fresh as possible for Saturday so at 3.5 miles I called it a day and went home…to the warmth! 3.5 miles 42:00 (12:01 pace) I had my typical pre-long run/pre-race dinner of mushroom ravioli and garlic bread (delish!) and got to bed early.  Luckily, when I woke up Saturday the soreness was gone and my legs were ready to RUN!

Saturday – Race Day! My recap is here, but I have a few things that didn’t make it that should be noted.

– First and most important – a huge THANK YOU to the volunteers!! From the people that helped us get checked in/registered, to the troopers out there handing out water and Gatorade, plus the police controlling traffic…they were the best! It was effing cold, and they were absolute rockstars manning the water stations, cheering for us,etc. I know how cold I was running, so I can’t imagine how they must have felt. I tried to thank as many as I could but if you were a volunteer or know someone who was volunteering please let them know how much it was appreciated! 

Saturday was Tall One’s birthday, and I completely forgot to wish him Happy Birthday. I didn’t remember until I was sitting in the parking lot at the race! Oops! We both laughed about it, but I did feel really bad that it took me 3 hours to remember that. 

-The race swag was awesome! This was the first year that they handed out medals and they were so stinkin’ cute; we also got hats that are super warm and soft. I’m actually very excited to rock this bad boy out and about.  Elite really puts on nice races! This is second race of theirs that I’ve run (the first was the Frigid Five) and they are just great. The registration process/packet pickup is easy; they always have great volunteers, the post race party is clutch (pancakes after the Frigid Five, and soup + pizza after the Spring Thaw!) AND the money always goes to a great cause. I’m happy to continue supporting these races!

Love the hat!

Love the hat!

 

Sunday – 16 mile long run. I knew going into this one that it was going to be nice and slow and I was 100% OK with that. This would be the 3rd day in a row, and I put a hard effort in the day before so I should have no problem keeping the pace in the 11:50s or slower. Little did I know what lay waiting for me outside. I had no idea that we were getting any snow until Jen mentioned it the day before, and even after watching the news I didn’t think it would be much of anything. I was so wrong (as usual!). I walked out my door and promptly sunk into at least 3 inches of snow. Fabulous. I tried the cemetery and it was just as bad…even worse because I knew that no one would be around to clear them. I still gave them a shot and started on what has become my weekend loop – lap through the cemey, up the hill to the plan of homes and up and down each side street. I’ve done that for my mid distances (7-9 miles) but never for my long run. I was going to have to double that distance in less than ideal conditions. Luckily, the plow truck was just heading into the plan as I arrived – the driver and I are pretty much besties now since I see him practically every Saturday or Sunday while I’m out. He even told me that I was nuts; I told him he wasn’t wrong, but I preferred to think of it as ‘dedicated’. He laughed and said he would get things cleared up for me! Awesome! While he was working, I still had to take it easy on the streets – the downhill was extra slippy, and it was just as hard to get traction on the uphill. I need to re-invest in snow spikes or Yak-Tracks, but I keep putting it off because I’m holding out hope that this time will be the last snow. Yeah, sure.  After the second pass through the cemetery, I had to call it quits in there.  I was expending so much effort trying to plod through the snow, and was doing this weird shuffle trying to kick the snow away to clear a path (thank GOD I was smart and wore 2 pairs of socks this time); I could feel my calves and Achilles screaming at me and knew I was going to pay dearly for this one. I decided to stick to the side streets and hope for the best. I just kept going up and down, and up and down and up and….holy shit was this boring. I was starting to lose it, and every little thing was pissing me off. A car drove by too fast and sprayed with me slush – they got the stink eye and a “SLOW THE F DOWN!’; people went too slow…they got the stink eye too “suuuuuuure. Go a little slower so I can keep waiting for you to get the F outta the way”. Nothing would make me happy. I reached my breaking point when I saw a guy on the corner, clearing his driveway with a snowblower into the freshly cleared street, and he nearly hit me with snow in the process. Just typing this is giving me all of the ragey feelings again. I stopped, looked at him, threw my hands up and said “REALLY?! They don’t plow and salt the streets for YOU to redeposit your shit in them”. I was met with some unkind words that I couldn’t make out over the snow blower and my music, so I ran down the street before they could chase me with more snow.  Not my finest moment, but that was icing on the cake and really? That’s a dick move anyway, not to mention a total traffic hazard since it’s on a hill, and  at a Stop sign but, whatever. I’m over it (not really. Not even close). Since that street is right in the middle of the loop and I would be passing it frequently I decided that route was burned and I headed into the cemetery for the last 3.  It was insanely hard with  how deep the snow was, but I was determined NOT to cut another run short. My heart rate felt like it was through the roof and my legs were screaming at me. I sort of felt like Rocky Balboa when he’s training for his fight again Ivan Drago in the Russian wilderness.

Pretty much me

Pretty much me

For some reason I thought this was hysterical and that helped the last 3 miles pass a little “faster” (as fast as they can at a 15 min pace). FINALLY I was done, and went back to the house where I promptly iced my calves to try to delay the inevitable pain, and enjoyed an almond milk hot chocolate and kitty snuggles.   This run wiped.me.out. I was useless for the rest of the day  – SO tired! I basically was a lump on the couch with ice packs, cats and Pinterest.

I spent the next 8 hours like this

I spent the next 8 hours like this

  I should have caught up on some blogging, but that sounded exhausting. Even after a nap and lunch, I didn’t want to do anything. Long runs don’t normally do that to me – after a nap I am ready to go, but throwing in the elements wore me out.  I woke up Monday and my legs were on fire!! It reminded me of the dreaded tendonitis pain that I battled for the better part of last year, and that terrifies me! I am icing, stretching, compressing the shout out of them so hopefully this goes away ASAP! I finally downloaded the data off of my Garmin and was surprised at my pace; I expected to it be much slower. I had been hoping to keep things around a 12:30 so this wasn’t bad at all.  16 miles 3:30 (13:09 pace).

We are heading into the 2nd half of training and after a quick step back week, I am ready to WORK! That mean several 20 and 22 milers to get me prepped for the big dance. My goal for those runs is typical – run them strong and controlled and try to nail down my race fueling.  Pre race fuel, and race fuel…especially the timing and combinations of what gels I use. That’s going to have a big impact on my performance so I need to get started!

2015 Spring Thaw – 10 Mile Race Recap!

Spring “Thaw” my a$$.  There was absolutely no thawing to be seen; when I got to North Park around 8:30 to meet Jen it was a whole 3 degrees, and maybe 9 degrees at the start.  It was entirely too cold to even think about taking pictures, so this recap is going to be lotsa words and maybe 2 pictures. Sorry I’m not sorry. As per the usual, I was a bit under dressed – my biggest mistake was only wearing one pair of socks. I lost feeling in my toes during our warmup walk from the Skating Rink to the Rose Barn and didn’t regain feeling until I was partway through the race. We got to the Barn and had some time to kill before the race started so we were able to meet Chelsea and Nichole and catch up with Steff, which was so great to put real faces/voices to blogs & Twitter!

Stole this from Jen's blog!

Stole this from Jen’s blog!

About 35 or so minutes before the race started we walked over to the Boathouse to check Jen’s bag and then we spent a few minutes inside the OTB restaurant trying to warm up, but were kicked out about 20 minutes before the start, which was totally understandable – we were taking up a lot of space and were bad for business. As we stood around trying to stay warm (didn’t work – I lost ALL feelings in my toes) Jen and I went over our plans for the race; this was a long run for Jen so she was going for a moderate pace – not a long run pace, but not race pace either, and I decided to use this as a test and race it. I was hoping to start out with the 10:30 pace group for the first 5 mile loop and spend the second loop chipping away at my pace. My biggest problem in races is starting out too fast, then fading HARD in the later miles. This is something I really need to work on and will be a huge factor in whether or not I meet my marathon goal in May. The plan there is to run the first half with Jen at around a 11:00 min pace, and then tackle the second half where I will hopefully work my pace down to the 10:50’s (or better). As someone who has HAD (spoiler alert!!!!) never negative split a race this is going to be tricky, which is why I’ve been trying to incorporate that into our long runs and why my speed work is typically a progression run. So I figured this race would be great practice. I lined up with the 10:30 group, and after the Nation Anthem (not sure what recording they used, but it was a really good version!) we were off!!

Loop 1 – I stuck to my plan and started with the 10:30 pacer and got just a few steps ahead of him. For some reason, I felt better having him behind me, than next to me. I could NOT feel my feet at all. It was very much like running on concrete blocks, and it actually hurt a lot little bit. Luckily, the sun was shining and that really helped me warm up. I stayed just ahead of the pacer and was surprised at how quickly the first mile marker, and water stop, popped up. I skipped the stop but made a mental note that I would use that stop the second time through after I took my gel. I was feeling good, the sun was shining which helped with the cold and I started to cruise. I was torn about looking at my watch or just going and I finally decided to take a peek. I didn’t want to get too far off of my plan, whether that was subconsciously speeding up or slowing down. My pace looked good…a little faster than I planned, but my breathing was very controlled and even and my heart rate didn’t feel like it was out of control so I stuck with it. Somewhere around mile 3, I regained full feeling in my toes and feet which was a relief. I had actually started to get a little concerned. This first loop went by very quickly before I knew it we were on the closed part of Ingomar making the turn onto Babcock. I could feel myself slowing down here and was a little concerned but not much – there was still A LOT of race left, and I was coming up on the rollers along the back of the lake loop. As we neared the Rose Barn and turn into the Boat House, I heard some heavy footsteps and saw that the 10:30 pace group was literally steps behind me. I was really disappointed to see them; yes, it had been my plan to run with them for the first half, but I thought I had ditched them a few miles ago and that I wouldn’t be seeing them again.  Initially, when I saw the pace group, I admitted defeat: You started out too fast again. Maybe you aren’t ready to run that kind of pace for any kind of miles. Meh. Even if you just stick with them for the next 5 miles, that will still be an OK time for your first 10 miler. And here is where I had my breakthrough.

Looking at the splits, I really slacked off for a couple miles.

Looking at the splits, I really slacked off for a couple miles.

Loop 2 – We cruised past the finish line to start our second lap around. The negative thoughts were still swirling as I took my gel (Gu Rocktane – Strawberry Kiwi. SO GOOD! Tastes like a skittle!!) and tried to thaw it out a little before I ate it. Somehow that must’ve distracted me just enough. The first thing I told myself was to not let the pacer pass me. Just keep him behind you. Even if it’s half of a step…do NOT let him pass you. I decided that was a good plan for now; I started taking my Gu and we went past the tennis courts where there were two ADORABLE huskies playing in the snow! They gave me a nice little boost, made me smile and my mind started working again: This part of the lake loop has always been a struggle for you. You HATE running past the tennis courts – that’s why you don’t do it anymore. Just get through this stretch and you’ll be at the water stop. Get a drink (water should be nice and cold!), and get to work. You feel fine. You’re really NOT tired. And that’s what I did. I grabbed some water, and indeed, it was wonderfully cold (I loooove ice cold water!) and refreshing. I took a deep breath, and focused on what lay ahead. My iPod was on fire and playing some really good music, so I started up the rollers that made up the next couple of miles. I checked my watch, realized that I was making progress on my pace and still feeling good. My heart rate still felt good, my breathing was perfect so I kept going. I was at about 6.5 miles so I started playing the numbers game. Really, you are SO close. You have half a mile and then not even a 5K, and you KNOW you can rock that. Just take it one mile at a time and don’t get too far ahead of yourself. Start focusing on some people in front of you and start reeling them in. Before I knew it, I was running past the field (I think that’s the JC Stone field? Not sure, but it’s by the bathrooms with running water!!) and at that point there’s only about 2 miles left. My internal cheerleader sprung back into action. Nice work, home slice. You have this little climb up Ingomar, then a nice downhill. You can grab some Gatorade and get ready for the last mile of hills. You have this in the bag. Just keep bringing that pace down, keep the breathing even, and you’ll be FINE. I’m not ashamed to admit that I listed to Eminem’s Lose Yourself on repeat at least 3 times during miles 6.5-9. It was just what I needed to hear and really kept me in the zone! Right before mile 9, there was a water stopped and I grabbed some Gatorade. I made the turn onto Babcock at mile 9, started to bring it home. I turned some Taylor Swift on (you can’t listen to Shake It Off and NOT run fast) and really went to work. There is that awesome flat section before you turn onto Pearce Mill Rd so I used that to give me some momentum. I made the turn and put my head down and just went. For a minute I thought maybe I started to speed up a little too soon – my breathing was getting heavy and the heart was starting to pump. Then I reminded myself that it’s a race, and it’s supposed to feel like work. I kept pumping my Baby Sasquatch arms and getting up over the hills. Finally I crested the last one, and started on the downhill where I opened up my stride and went for it. I made the turn into the Boat House parking lot, made that last turn and kicked it into high hear. I heard the announcer congratulate the 10 minute pace group, and I was a little pissed that I had JUST missed them. I’d been looking for them during the second loop and never saw them.  I saw the finish line and gave a final big kick and crossed the finish line in 1:40:24/ 10:02 pace. My Garmin recorded 10.1 miles which made my unofficial pace 9:57. Heck. Yes. MAJOR negative split!

Big time negative split

Big time negative split! Check out sprint at the end 😉

I got my medal, which was ADORABLE, found Steff, who finished a few minutes before me, and Chelsea crossed the line just after I did!  We hung out and talked about our races until I saw Jen making the turn to the finish! She finished strong and met her race goals as well! This was her first double digit run of training and she rocked it! We grabbed her checked bag, and regrouped back at the Rose Barn with pizza, and soup. We also got to recap with Nichole (and meet her husband and ADORABLE son!), who ran a solid 15 miles! All in all, this was a pretty great day, despite the frigid temps!

Very excited to add this medal to my collection!

Very excited to add this medal to my collection!

I am incredibly happy with this race. I’ve never done a 10 miler before so this was an automatic PR, but it’s a GOOD PR! I struggle with pacing myself, with sticking to a plan, and just racing in general. This was a huge confidence boost going into the second half of marathon training as well. The weather has had a major impact on training so far – lots of treadmill runs (where I’m always slower), and lots of what I call “resistance runs” – running in the snow, slush, slop, ice, etc. All of that has slowed my paces, and it’s been hard to get an accurate reading of where I am in my training. I’d even started to worry that I’m behind, and that I won’t be ready on race day. This race showed me that I’m just where I should be, and that as long as I stick to my marathon plan, I should be able to pull off that negative split.

Did you race this weekend? How’d it go?

Pittsburgh Marathon Training – Week 6

The first time I complain this year about the heat, or humidity or sun….smack me. Hard.  It’s cold out there. Really freaking cold.  In fact, it was cold enough that my Weather Channel app even reminded me to put on a hat.

Thanks, Mom.

Thanks, Mom.

I keep our thermostat pretty high because I’m freezing no matter what, and I think the cats are starting to appreciate it.

Heat stealer!

Heat stealer!

They camp out and smush themselves right up against the vents when the heat comes on. It’s horrible for their skin, but it’s not like I can stop them. I’ve lost all control of this house.

Stealing all of the warms

Stealing all of the warms

 

This could be why I'm always cold. They take it all.

This could be why I’m always cold. They take it all.

I capped week 6 of training off with a 15 mile long run. I was actually really excited about this run (until I saw the conditions at North Park, at least), because to me, it finally feels like I’m marathon training! I also (finally) registered for this weekend’s Spring Thaw out at North Park – I’m running the 10 miler! At first I was going to do the 15 as my long run, but then realized that there was a good possibility that I would finish last in that race so I decided to stick with the 10 and go for a hard effort.  I’ve never raced 10 miles before, so it will be an automatic PR and should  be a good indicator of where I’m at in my training. To be honest, if you had asked me yesterday, I would have told you I’ve got this in the bag. Then I saw the countdown on the race website and, well, now I’m not so sure,

Oh, shit. It's getting close!

Oh, shit. It’s getting close!

Hopefully, Saturday’s race will give me some confidence!

Monday – Rest.

Tuesday – 4 on the treadmill. I added in some hills to at least attempt to mimic outdoor conditions and really picked up the pace for the last three quarter of a mile, or so. I enjoy trying to simulate a fast finish and the treadmill really helps me do that. It was brutal, but I kept telling myself that I was at mile 24.5 of the marathon and tried to picture me still looking strong and passing people and crossing the line with a 4 in front of my time. Sounds cheesy, but it works! 4 miles 44:22 (11:05 pace)

027

 

Wednesday – Strength.  You can read all about the new strength program that I’m trying out here.

Thursday – 5 Tempo miles. On the treadmill. HOLLA! I’ve only run 5 miles on the ‘mill one other time, so this was a pretty big deal for me, especially because I was able to successfully incorporate speed too! I started out at a 5.3, and gradually increased the speed as I went. I forgot to keep track of what increments I increased to, but I eventually held it at a comfortably hard pace for a 1.5 miles (it was maybe a 5.7 or 5.8? not sure). Somewhere along the line, I tried to calculate what my overall pace would be and I wasn’t coming out with anything under 11 min/mile and that pissed me off, so I ran the last mile or so at a pretty fast clip…maybe 6.8 or 7. Again, not sure and trying to take a picture when I was going that fast would have ended with a trip to the ER. When I put the numbers into FitSnap I was really pleased to see a 10:39 pace. Daily Mile gave me a 10:40 pace, so naturally I’m picking the faster one. 5 miles 53:20 (10:40 39 pace)

Treadmill runs mean that I don't have to match, can avoid the MINUS FOURTEEN degrees b.s. and Peanut can cheer me on!

Treadmill runs mean that I don’t have to match, can avoid the MINUS FOURTEEN degrees b.s. and Peanut can cheer me on!

 

Friday – I needed the sleep, so I decided to do my strength after work. And then I didn’t. I came  home and Tall One had made dinner plans, so I didn’t even have time to change let alone pump some iron. I thought about doing it after dinner, but I desperately needed to get to the store before the snow came Saturday. By the time I got home it was close to 9 and I admitted defeat. Lesson learned: just do it in the morning before shit can hit the fan and ruin all of your plans. I’m not too upset, but this is the 2nd week in a row that poor planning on my part has caused me to skip or cut short a workout.  I don’t want this to become a habit so I need to stop this now.

Saturday – 8 miles on the schedule. We were supposed to get 6-8 inches of snow throughout the day, so there really was no good time to head out. I started out and did what has become my “snow route”. It’s a lap through the cemetery, then out and up the side street next to the cemetery and up and down the side streets, back into the cemetery for a lap and repeat until I’ve hit my goal. As I was running, the snow kept falling harder and each time I made a pass through, my old footprints would already be covered.

I tried to take pictures of my footprints getting covered, but it doesn't look like anything.

I tried to take pictures of my footprints getting covered, but it doesn’t look like anything.

My eyelashes had icicles on them! I tried to take a picture, but my phone shut off due to the cold. This is a little frustrating to me; I carry my phone in case of emergency. What good does that do me if it turns off because it’s cold out?? Not OK, Apple!!  The streets were a mess, and it was getting harder and harder to run. It kind of felt like running in quick sand – I ‘m calling this resistance training! It did occur to me that I could’ve waited for the salt truck, but then I would have been running in slush so it was pretty much lose, lose. Oh well! 8 smiles – 1:39 (12:23 pace) I came back inside and since it was a snow day, did a bunch of cleaning and organizing to keep myself busy while Tall One was working.  I was a machine. I also washed my iPod Shuffle when I did some laundry. Luckily, it still seems to be working!

Sunday – My technical difficulties continued when I left my Garmin at home. WHO DOES THAT?! I walked out the door to meet Jennifer at North Park and left the Garmin sitting on my desk. I realized what I had done on the way out there, but didn’t want to turn around and hold up our run. I decided I would have to use the Run Keeper app on my phone.  As I drove out to North Park, I had hoped that the running lanes/paths would be clear and I was sorely disappointed to see nothing but slop around the lake. We got started; I had 15 on the schedule and Jennifer 7. Right away we knew this would be another tough “resistance run” due to the conditions. It was SO bad – people were running in the road (which makes me SO nervous, especially with my back to traffic), but you really didn’t have a choice in some spots.  We were slipping and sliding allll over the place, but we made the best of it! When I do these long runs, I always try to negative split the parts I do alone to hopefully mimic race day as best I can. I’m pretty sure I did that on Sunday, but I wouldn’t know for sure because MY PHONE DIED AGAIN!!! At mile 14.54. I muttered a few choice words and then I nearly chucked that f*cker into the lake.  Luckily, the data was saved despite the shut down and I had been monitoring my pace after Jennifer and I parted ways so I’m  sure I pulled off the negative split, but I don’t know what my final pace was. I’m giving myself an even 12 min pace just because I can, and because I was a 12:03 pace with a half mile to go and I was starting to pick it up for a fast finish. So. 15 miles 3:00 (12:00 pace).   This was the first time I used the RunKeeper app and I really liked it! I’ll do a small separate post on it, because it’s definitely a good app to the keep on your phone for the days when your Garmin dies….or you just plain forget it! No pictures from this run because, you know, phone died. Jag-off.

So, there it is. Another week down!  How are you handling the weather?? Are you running the Spring Thaw this weekend?

Pittsburgh Marathon Training – Week 5

Hello, Friends!!  Another week down, and that means another (late) weekly recap! I have to first thank everyone for the positive pep talks last week! I was really feeling crummy about my training, but you guys really helped me snap out of my funk!  You’re the best!!!

The bitter temps that we’ve been experiencing here are nothing to mess around with, and made the later part of last week a bit tricky. I hate to be a whiner and complainer but ohmygooooooooooooood am I sick of winter. Then again, we could be in Boston so I shouldn’t cry too much!

Monday – Rest Day, and dentist day. Booooo. I finally got the permanent crown put on my tooth from root canal back in October. There were some insurance things to juggle and it ended up that if I waited until 2015 to get the permanent crown put on it would cost me less in the long run. We all know how cheap I am, so this was a no brainer!  Now that you all know the state of my teeth, we can talk about running!

Tuesday4 miles. I really had 0 hope for this run. I had been in a serious slump, but the weather was decent and I decided to forget about pace, heart rate and whatever else just go. Maybe it was the lack of pressure; maybe all I needed was to type out that I was having some training trouble (I wrote me recap that afternoon, but hadn’t published it yet). I don’t really know, but HOT DAMN was this run amazing! I would peek at my watch every now and then and would see a 10 in front of my pace and a couple of times I though “maybe my Garmin is dying. No way am I running these paces right now”. I try to never be that negative, but with the way things had been going, it’s kind of hard to blame me, right?! I finished 4 miles with a 10:34 (!) pace, and I still felt like I could have done a little more! I was so thrilled to finally have a decent run under my belt! As I was doing my cool down walk, I kicked myself for not wearing the stupid HRM. I would have LOVED to see my numbers compared to last week, especially because these miles felt effortless compared to what I was doing before.

Wednesday – Should be strength, but it was a nice day and Thursday’s high was supposed to be 9. Eff that. I am not running in that shit if I don’t have to. So I didn’t!  Even before I started, I told myself to not expect too much. I ran fast (for me) the day before and it was OK if Tuesday ended up being my speed day and Wednesday was a little (or a lot) slower. I started out and decided that it’s been a while since I attempted a Tempo Run, so I went for it. I clocked the first mile a tad faster than I expected, but not wicked fast, so I told myself to try another mile and see what I could get out of it. Still faster! And still feeling really good – strong, in control, even breathing, steady heart rate (I think)! I cranked out another mile and was shocked when I saw a 9:44 mile. I used the last as a cool down, even though it was a little fast for that.

Boom.

Boom.

Overall I was really happy when I saw my average pace for this run. Again, I didn’t wear the HRM and wished I had because it just felt SO good! It was nice to see some of the speed that I KNOW is in these legs, but just can’t seem to consistently find. 4 miles 41:16 (10:19 pace).

Thursday – I was a little torn. Because I switched my run to Wednesday that meant I would have strength two days in a row – something that should normally be avoided. In a perfect world, I should have done my work out on Wednesday as soon as I finished running but that didn’t happen!  I thought about it, and decided that I either do it 2 days in a row or I have to bump it down to 1. I have been sooo consistent with strength, and I didn’t want to mess with that so I hit the weights. I made sure to do it first thing in the morning so I would have a full 24 hours of recovery time before Friday.

Friday – Strength.  I love that I’m starting to see progress with this program ( it really deserves a whole post that I’m going to work on!). Not necessarily in my physical appearance, but I have been steadily increasing the weights that I use and definitely feel that I’m getting stronger! If I could clean my diet up a bit, I’m sure I would see some physical results as well!

Saturday – Jennifer and I did what all of the other cool kid runners did and moved our long run to Saturday. (I had gone back and forth over registering for the Valentine’s Day 10k or 15k and ultimately decided against it. ) The snow was supposed to hold off until later in the day, but it started flying before we even made it to North Park! It was cold, but not unbearable.

I wore ALL of the pink in order to be festive!

I wore ALL of the pink under a shell in order to be festive!

We decided to run the JASR course for some practice, and because it fit perfectly into our schedules – Jennifer needed 8, and I needed 13. The first 4 or 5 miles were a little treacherous with all of the snow – the salt crews were out, but we were slightly ahead of them! They caught up to us on McKinney which made half of the climb bearable, but they didn’t get to the downhill portion and it was so slick we had to walk down a section of it! Luckily, our PW buddy drove past again and threw some more salt down for us so we didn’t slide down on our butts! Other than that, it was a good run! After we parted ways at mile 8, I set off for 5 more miles. I was starting to fatigue a little bit, but was beginning to pass some of the 15 and 10K runners (I was running the opposite direction…not going that fast, hah!) so I tried to look fresh and strong. It must’ve worked because someone that I passed asked me if I was running the 15K – I WISH! If that was the case, I would’ve been in first place 😉 ! The last two miles were really tough, but I shuffled along and tacked on an extra .1 to make it a half marathon. 13.1 miles 2:45 (12:38 pace) . I was drained after this run, and I decided that it’s definitely time to start adding my gels into training. This is a whole ‘nother post as well, but I try to do some of my shorter long runs (12 miles or less) without gels. It’s not very conventional but it works for me! 

Sunday – All of the LOLs!! It was COLD – 5 below 0 with a ‘feels like’ of -23WHO DOES THAT?!?! I had 8 miles on the schedule, and I wasn’t too keen on doing all of that on the treadmill. I stuck my head outside, and to be perfectly honest, it wasn’t sooo terrible. Still effing cold, but possibly do-able. I knew there was a good bit of snow/slush on the shoulders of the roads so I figured my best bet was to stick to the cemetery. I layered up to the point where I was unrecognizable and looked like Randy from A Christmas Story.

I CAN'T PUT MY ARMS DOWN!!!!!!

I CAN’T PUT MY ARMS DOWN!!!!!!

Two pairs of pants, a baselayer, my blue jacket, and a hoodie. I added my headband, and one of those 6 in1 balaclavas that cover your mouth. I tried to take a picture, but honestly couldn’t get my arms up that high, hah. One of the great things about having a husband over a foot taller than me, aside from being able to reach ANYTHING in the house, is being able to steal his hoodies when I need to. I grabbed a heavy one and set outside; I was definitely dressed well. Almost too well – that hoodie was HEAVY and I was very warm. The problem turned out not to be the cold, but the wind. We all know that they don’t maintain the roads in the cemetery (I may have mentioned it a time or…..12), and in some places there was no snow in the road and in others there was 7 or 8 inches that I was trying to trudge through. My little rubber snow spikes that my Dad sent to me broke so I wasn’t even able to use those! It was incredibly slow going, and I was getting frustrated. I wrapped things up at 2.78 miles (12:23 pace) with every intention of finishing things off on the treadmill. My shoes needed to dry out first, and I wanted to run drive out to my Mom’s for a visit so I figured I would do it when I got home and it would all be A-OK. Until Tall One reminded me about dinner at his parent’s house. Shit. Sooooo needless to say, the other 5 didn’t get done. I’m irritated, but not going to lose much sleep over it. It’s the first time I’ve cut a run short this training cycle, it wasn’t a long run, and as long as I don’t make this a habit I’ll be fine!

Another way I figured out it was cold as @#$* outside? Wilbur finally figured out how to hide:

I still see you

I still see you

All in all, this was a good week! My attitude was much better, and my runs were much better and stronger. I also think one of the reasons for that is that I’m starting to eat MORE. In an effort to lose the stubborn 5 8 post holiday/off season pounds I was slashing the calories a little too much. My strength program advocates eating more to weight less so I cautiously added more, and almost instantly my energy levels went way up. Who woulda thunk it?! Scale still hasn’t moved, but I’m working on it…  It doesn’t look like the weather is going to ANY better this week, so I’m going to make the best of it and do whatever I need to to get those miles in!

 

 

Pittsburgh Marathon Training Week 4!

Another week down. I try to stay as positive as possible, but, I have been feeling really ‘meh’ these last two weeks and I just need to get it out there. It’s one of the reasons it’s taken me so long to get this post up. I just  I  like I’m regressing in the speed department instead of making progress, and that worries me.  I gained weight in the “off season”, and can’t seem to lose it and that frustrates me.  I look at what other people are doing in their training (which I know is a stoopid thing to do) and feel like I’m not doing enough and that scares me.  I’m tired of running in the cold and dodging ice. I want to blog more, but I don’t feel like I have anything interesting/valuable to contribute. I’m also tired of whining and being in a shitty mood so hopefully something will change soon.  Anyway. Thanks for “listening” to me complain – I hate to do it, but sometimes it’s just necessary.

Monday – You know how I roll – Rest Day!

Tuesday4 miles. I wasn’t sure what the ice situation would be in the cemetery/surrounding roads so I decided to just get it done first thing in the morning, on the treadmill. I’ve said many times before that I really feel like I’m losing my hill mojo. They’re all starting to feel hard again and I don’t like that. So instead of playing around with the speed on the treadmill, I switched up the incline. I had no idea what I was doing, so I’d pump it up to a 2 or 2.5 incline, run that for a minute or two, then lower the incline back down to a .5 . The highest I got up to was a 4%, and my legs were really feeling it by the end so I’m going to say this was a success. I finished this in 44:45 (11:04 pace).

This popped up on my screen during my run. Perfect motivation!

This popped up on my screen during my run. Perfect motivation!

Wednesday – This was supposed to be strength but when I was greeted with a 40 degrees and sunshine leaving work, I knew that I needed to run. I raced home, put on shorts (!!!) and set out for 4 miles of speed. I wasn’t planning on running, so my Garmin wasn’t charged and it shit the bed not long after I started so I was running blind. I tried to use the Outside app on my phone, but it only tracks if the screen is on. Anytime it timed out to the lock screen, it would stop tracking. I used to have a Run Keeper app, but it was nowhere to be found.  By now I had no idea how far I’d gone, and I wasn’t even sure how long I’d been running.  I figured that I started running at about 5, so at 5:45 I wrapped it up. In my mind, if I was going “fast” I would have run  at least 4.1-4.3 ish miles, and if I wasn’t going as “fast” as I thought/hoped then I probably still got about 4 miles in. So, I could have run anywhere from an 11:15 pace (I don’t think it was this slow) to a 10:27 pace (not likely). I’m going to split the difference and hope that I was in the 10:50 range. I tried to keep the intensity up, but without any data it’s so hard to say. Either way, I was just happy to be OUTSIDE and enjoying the tease of spring.  After my run, I went right to the basement to get my weights in. I didn’t want to push it to Thursday because that meant back-to-back days of strength and that’s usually frowned upon.

Thursday – Should have been 4 miles, but since I was hardcore the day before and did both workouts, I got an extra rest day and it was FABULOUS. It was also 9 degrees out, so I was really happy that I didn’t have to go out there and run in that!

Friday Strength training.  This week felt harder than last week on both days, even though it was the exact some workout with the same weights and reps yet…I wasn’t as sore the next day.  I’m not sure what’s up with that – maybe last week  I went above and beyond because I was so excited about my new plan? That or the weights I picked were too heavy, and I should have started lighter. Who knows. I got my two days in and that’s still winning in my book!

Saturday Hills. I tried to come up with a good, hilly route that wasn’t still covered under snow and ice.  I did ok. After hearing Nichole and Jennifer talk about Heart Rate Monitors I wore my HRM for the first time in….years. Except… I had no idea what the numbers meant. They obviously spiked on the hard, hilly sections and leveled out on the flat/downhill parts. I did notice that on my last mile when I was really starting to struggle I had a hard time getting it to go back down.  I feel like this is obvious, though. Of course my heart rate is going to jump  when I’m trying to chug up a hill – I’m working harder. Of course it’s going to spike when I’m struggling….that’s why I’m struggling. Either way, I did 7 miles in 1:19 (11:18 pace) which is about average for me. Overall, I felt OK…I was able to distract myself with the HRM for a good portion of the run so it went by quickly.

Hills 7 2-7

Good climb going right into mile 4!

 

heartrate

But what’s it mean?!

 

SundayLong Run with Jennifer! I was so excited to have my running partner back! It was also really nice out, so I threw on some shorts. I forgot that it’s normally colder at North Park, but I was still pretty comfortable and was much happier than I would have been in pants.  We did the first 6 together, and ran the lake loop backwards which was a nice change of pace. I wore my HRM again, but I still have no idea what it means. I was also reminded why I don’t wear it – after a while it gets very uncomfortable and starts to hurt. I don’t think I’m wearing it too high…it’s about flush with my sports bra strap. I was already over it by 3 or 4 miles and I spent the rest of my run cursing that thing. I think it’s safe to say I’ll probably be leaving it at home from now on. Of course, the first 6 flew by as we chatted and we passed Shaun and Kim who were both zooming around the lake! We parted ways after 6 miles and it started to wear on me. I turned on my music to give me a little boost, and it did for a mile or two, but overall I just struggled mentally.  My paces were right on, but my mind wasn’t in the best place. It just wanted to be done! I also saw Nichole zip past me on my second loop! It was great to see so many other runners/bloggers out and about! 12 miles 2:19 (11:39 pace).

So, that was my week. On the positive side, I got all 4 of my runs in! There is soooo much to improve on – I just need to focus on one thing at a time and take it from there. There’s plenty of time left before May 3rd (81 days, but who’s counting?!), and everything will be A-OK. And because we need a smile and I didn’t have many pictures this week, here’s a few cat pictures.

I got up for a cup of tea, and when I came back...my spot was gone.

I got up for a cup of tea, and when I came back…my spot was gone.

#whereswilbur ??

#whereswilbur ??

The cats have learned how to play on the iPad and they're hooked!

The cats have learned how to play on the iPad and they’re hooked!