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.



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 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.


Pittsburgh Marathon Training – Week 9

Week 9 is done, and I completed my longest training run since October of 2013! The weather was messing with me this week – the REALLY nice days were my non-running days (Monday and Wednesday) and the not so nice days fell on my run days. To be honest, I kind of like that because it toughens me up and gets me used to running in less than ideal conditions. If I can make it through those runs, race day should be A-OK. And, if we get shitty weather for race day…then I’m ready for it!

Monday – It was SO nice out that I almost considered going for a run, but, decided to stick to my plan and made it a rest day. I also decided, along with everyone else, to get my car washed; there were at least a dozen cars in front of me and another 7 or 8 in line behind me! I knew it was going to rain in the next day or two but I HAD to get all of that salt and crap off of my car. Then as I sat in line, I started to wonder: am I really getting the wash that I paid for? I went to Get Go and picked the high class $12 wash, but there were so many cars and they were really pushing them through the line that I had to wonder if each car was getting something different, or were all getting the same thing? To be honest, I can never tell the difference between washes; the $12 one is supposed to come with tire shine but my tires never look shiny. And really, as long as I’m getting the undercarriage cleaned I’m happy. Please tell me I’m not the only one who thinks about this in such great detail…? Just me? Good talk.

Tuesday – It was cold and rainy, but still a nice day for a run. It felt nice to get my legs moving after some hard workouts the week before and being cramped in the car all day Sunday.

My mom is so proud

My mom is so proud

4 miles 46:22 (11:35 pace)

Wednesday – Strength.  I’m almost finished with Stage 1 of NROLFW and I’m not sure what to do next. Continue on to Stage 2, using low to medium weights/higher reps or just repeat of few more weeks of Stage 1 until after the race when I can really focus on adding weight and (dear god hopefully) start to actually SEE a change in my appearance. Maybe if I put down the cookies I would see some results now, and could stop bitching about it but….cookies.

Thursday – Speed Day. I tried to make this a tempo run, but with all of the hills around my house that can be tricky so I while I know my pace will creep up a bit, I try to make sure that my effort is still hard. My first mile (warm up) already felt challenging, so how are 3 at a faster pace going to feel??  To be honest, I wasn’t sure that I would be able to sustain the pace for very long but aside from mile 3 I did OK.

That 3rd mile got me, but I pulled it together for my last mile

That 3rd mile got me, but I pulled it together for my last mile

It felt like a lot of work though. I even mentioned on Daily Mile that it’s amazing to me that one day I can average a 10:00 min pace for TEN MILES and on another day I can barely maintain a 10:50 pace for 3 miles. I know there are a lot of factors that go into it but it’s still fascinating!  5 miles 55:12 (11:02 pace)

Friday – Strength. The usual.

I knew they were calling for lots of rain for Saturday morning, and I’m sure there will be plenty more in the coming weeks, so I decided to splurge and get myself a nice new rain jacket.

It wasn’t quite a shell jacket, but it marketed as “storm gear” so I thought it would be great. I’m a total cheapskate so I was a little hesitant at the $80 dollar price tag, especially when I knew that I had seen other shells at a different store for half the price, but I got it anyway in BRIGHT ASS orange. They didn’t have the pretty mint color, or I would have picked that over the ‘road cone orange’.

Saturday – 10 miles in the pouring rain. In my spiffy new jacket.  I figured if the jacket didn’t work as a shell and keep me dry, it was still nice and BRIGHT (seriously, you can’t miss me in this thing) and would be good for chilly days, or days when visibility isn’t so swell. Anything to justify the price.  Since it was a longish run and I didn’t eat well the night before (looking at you, Miller Lite), I decided to eat a Clif Bar for breakfast but that particular flavor (Gingerbread) was not as delicious as I remembered so I couldn’t even finish it. I packed a gel and a water bottle to stash along my route just in case and set out. I was so excited to get back on the roads (all of my normal roads were free and clear of snow and ice!! YAY!) and the first few miles were great! I was dry, the miles were ticking by and life was good! I got to the first challenging part – this section of road is always hard. It’s a loooooong gradual incline that doesn’t look like much but it’s HARD! Since it’s been at least 3 months since I’ve run it I decided my only goal for that stretch was to not walk. I managed that, and kept a decentish pace. I looped back around, past my stashed water bottle/gel and decided to keep going. I felt OK and really didn’t want to carry it if I didn’t need to so I skipped it. In hindsight, taking the gel wouldn’t have been a bad idea – I hit the back half of the loop around mile 5 and the big hills, which are just as tough as I remember, start around mile 7.

Not too shabby...

Not too shabby…

My pace really suffered for the last 3 miles,  but overall I’m still really happy with this run.

Holy shit, I forgot how hard this is!!

Holy shit, I forgot how hard this is!!

It’s my first time out on the roads since January, as I’ve been banished to the same 4 streets or the treadmill since training started and it’ll probably take me a few tries to get used to them again. The jacket? The $80 jacket? I was soaked by the time I was done. It felt heavy and bulky and my shirt underneath was drenched. I debated returning it, but I already took the tags off (and wore it…obviously) and like I said, it could work as just a lightweight jacket for spring/fall weather but I have plenty of those… and then I still have to buy a shell. I haven’t decided what I want to do yet, but I’m thinking I might try to return it; I’m not even sure they’ll take it since I wore it, but if it doesn’t work I don’t want to keep it. 10 miles 1:58 (11:51 pace)

Sunday – Jen and I decided that we wanted to try the second half of the marathon course so that I could get a feel for it. I have been to Oakland all of 3 times in my life and none of them on foot so I had no idea what to expect. Jen mapped out a 12 mile loop for us starting at CMU and covering a good bit of the Oakland/Shadyside.  I got myself together – the high for Sunday was supposed to be in the 50s and while it was still pretty chilly when I left the house, I figured that by the time I started running and covered 18 miles it would be warm enough to justify shorts. I loaded my fanny pack (now lovingly referred to as the ‘Kangaroo Pouch’), filled up my water bottle and set out to explore The Great Unknown.

The Kangaroo Pouch isn't as bad as I thought...

The Kangaroo Pouch isn’t as bad as I thought…

I found our meeting place with ease and as the wind whipped around my car, I started to worry that shorts and a long sleeved shirt wouldn’t be enough (spoiler alert – I was right). While Jen did her warmup, I decided to stash my phone in my car, because I was worried it would bounce around in the Kangaroo Pouch too much (spoiler alert – this was a bad idea). After a quick picture we were off! Right away, I was cold. My fingers were frozen, my ears were cold and I already couldn’t feel my legs (WHEN WILL I LEARN?!). Being so cold made me miserable, which made me a shitty long run partner. Normally, I never shut up but I was having hard time holding up my end of the conversation and that made me feel bad. Exploring a new area was still a lot of fun though! I will be honest -for a suburban/North Park runner getting used to things like crosswalks was tough. I never knew if I should stop my watch, or let it go…so I did a little of both.  Early in the morning, it wasn’t much of a problem but as the day went on and more people were out it could really throw off your rhythm.

This is the 2nd part of my run - lotsa stops for crosswalks!

This is the 2nd part of my run – all of those hits to the pace are crosswalks! There were a lot!


We went all over the place, and so did I as I managed to trip over anything and everything in my path. Seriously…if it was there, I tripped over it and it started to piss me off. I’m sure there are a lot of people telling their co-workers Monday about “that idiot running in shorts who tripped over a stick”. We also came across a couple walking their pet pigs! We stopped and Jen made a new friend (no picture, because no phone); I’m kind of afraid of pigs (the squealing scares me) so I hung back, but seeing them walk around on their leashes was ADORABLE.  It was around here that our directions seemed a little off, but because I didn’t bring my phone we had no way of knowing where we were vs where we should have been. Since I had no idea where we were vs where we should be, I honestly didn’t even notice something was wrong. We asked a lady walking her dog , and she (sort of) pointed us in the right direction. After that break, we were off again and this time we were both COLD! Stopping and starting again made it so hard to warm up and my hands were like ice cubes. I tried to tuck them into my shirt, but that didn’t do much especially when I was holding onto my freezing water bottle. We eventually found our way back on course and headed back towards CMU. I stopped at my car to get my phone, and Jen showed me where I could use the bathroom and refill my water before I set off for 6 more miles (technically 5.75 since we were a little over 12 when we stopped). After she left, I realized that I forgot to write down the directions for my loop so I wasn’t sure what to do. I thought about driving home and finishing 6 on my normal route, but knew that once I got home it would never really happen. I figured that if I stayed around CMU campus/Forbes I would be OK; I looped around some of the building and the back part of CMU, went aaaaaaaaaall the way down Forbes and back, up Moorewood and back down and was still a mile short.

Paces were kind of all over the place, but not much I can do about that.

Paces were kind of all over the place, but not much I can do about that.

Yes, I could have done that CMU loop one more time but the thought of going past my car again almost made me cry. Yes, I’m being serious.  I was in a strange place, alone, cold, tired, was sick of tripping over everything, tired of crosswalks and am more dramatic than a 15 year old so there were almost tears. I had checked my phone, saw how late it was, and decided that 17 was enough. Despite all of that, this was a really good run. I have been so nervous about the 2nd half of the course and this showed me a good bit of it, and that I am (or will be, rather) ready to tackle this in 45 days! A HUGE THANK YOU to Jen for mapping this all out and being our navigator!! 17 miles 3:24 (12:00 pace)

45 days until race day feels like a long time, but when you take the taper into consideration, there are only a few long runs left! Up next are 2 20 milers, a step back, then a 22 miler and then taper time!! Holyshit. My biggest concern now is really nailing down my fueling strategy for race day. Unless they are forecasting a hot day, I’ll be relying on the course aid stations for water so I need to work on getting my gels down the hatch before I actually get to the station (and getting the water IN my mouth, not down my shirt). I also have to work on pre-race food too…I always have a cinnamon raisin bagel w/peanut butter, but given the time between eating that and the race starting I’m thinking I’ll need a little bit more. Probably a Clif Bar on the ride down to the race; don’t worry, I’ll make sure it’s a good flavor this time 😉

How is your training going? Do you rely on race aid stations or are you a BYOW person? How are you at drinking from the paper cups – down the hatch or down the shirt??