Pittsburgh Marathon Training – Week 2

Another training week completed! It’s only Week 2, so very early in the training cycle but I’m feeling REALLY good! I know not every day or week will be perfect, so I will definitely take it while I can! We have been dealing with the cold temps off and on all winter, but this is the first time since real training started that I had to deal with the other side of winter – SNOW!  After realizing last week that I’m losing some of my hill fitness, I made it a point to make sure all of my runs were outside this week, and…Mission Accomplished! Running in the snow/slush/ice is definitely an adventure.  I finished with 23 miles for the week…still on the lower side, but I’m steadily increasing and feeling stronger every week!

Monday – Rest. After Monday being my rest day every day for almost the last 2 years, the Tall One has finally stopped asking me “Are you running today?”. I think he gets it. Maybe.  I worked on this week’s training schedule and on my blog post…Peanut supervised:

Keep working, slacker.

Keep working, slacker.

Tuesday – It has almost become habit to run my easy/recovery days first thing Tuesday morning on the treadmill. I decided to break that and run after work, outside, in the elements. It was beautiful outside – not too cold, with snow lightly falling…it just really made me happy to be out in the fresh air, doing something I love! The snow definitely makes you adjust your stride a bit, and I could feel my legs burning in spots that they usually don’t.  This would have been the perfect opportunity to try out Shaun’s trick of winterizing your running shoes. Except I don’t have an old pair that has enough miles left on them  – I try to get my money’s worth and run those bad boys  into the ground (literally) before getting new ones. 3 miles 33:26 (11:08 pace).

007

Wednesday – Strength. I switched up my routine a little and wasn’t really happy with a lot of the moves I selected. It would have been really easy for me to say “eff it. I don’t like this, I’ll rework the plan and try again on Friday”, but…I didn’t. That is a major win in my book.

Thursday – Speed Day!! Unless there is some kind of major weather event, I will always do my speed work (and long runs) outside – I just perform better out there.  The plan was a 4 mile progression run. As I made my way home, I took a peak outside and it looked like most of the slush and ice had melted. What that really meant is that it was all black ice. Yee-haw. 

Not bad. Not great either.

Not bad. Not great either.

This was definitely not my best work, and if I’m going just by my perceived effort, I could/should have done much more. BUT. I stayed upright the whole time (there were a few close calls) and finished with my body/face intact so I consider that a win. I vented a bit on Daily Mile and Nichole gave some great perspective.

Sometimes, you just need some perspective.

Sometimes, you just need some perspective.

Friday – Strength. I went with the same routine as Wednesday, and instead of whining about it I tried to keep a positive attitude, focus on my form, etc and ended up (almost) enjoying it. My arms were jello by the end and I had a hard time even picking up my hairbrush after so you know it was a good one!

Saturday – Long Run. 10 miles 1:55 (11:28 pace) I usually spend Saturdays hiking up and down the mountains hills in my neighborhood, but the threat of snow on Sunday prompted to me email Jennifer Friday afternoon to see if we could switch days around. I don’t mind cutting a 6 miler short (or attempting it on the treadmill), but I will not sacrifice the long run. I think that’s a Marathon Training Commandment, or something.  Luckily, Jennifer was fine with the switch and we met out at North Park for 6.5 miles for her and 10 for me.  It snowed a little overnight, so there were some slush puddles and snowy spots to deal with so we slowed down a bit to accommodate those. Overall, this was great – the first 6.5 flew right by and I set off for 4 (technically 3.5) on my own. I managed a good negative split over the last bit and that is exactly what I was looking for.  In a perfect world, the Race Day Plan is to run with Jennifer for the first 10 miles of the race until the Half/Full split at around 11:00 min miles, and after the split (and climb into Oakland) try to start chipping away at that pace to get into the 10:50’s. I don’t know how well this will work, but that’s the plan and the more comfortable I get with running progressions I think the better off I will be.  Theoretically, at least.

Everything looks so pretty covered in snow!

Everything looks so pretty covered in snow!

Sunday – Man, I totally botched this! When I looked on Friday, the forecast said 1-3 inches of snow Sunday morning and another 1-3 that afternoon/evening. Well…throughout the day Saturday those times kept getting pushed back. First it was supposed to start early, then around 11, then 1, then 4….etc.  Total Fail Whale on my part, but it can be tough to predict that kind of stuff so far in advance.

Fail. Whale.

Fail. Whale.

It was a perfect winter morning for a run – not too cold and windy just a nice brisk day. I tackled 6 miles worth of hills in 1:08 (11:15 pace) and was pretty pleased with this. I wasn’t sure what to expect since my legs were a little tired from the day before, but I figured this would simulate the later miles of the marathon really well so I tried to keep my form, and breathing even and controlled on the uphill and use the flat and downhill to recover and that’s exactly what I did. Winning!  There were still a few icy/slushy spots to deal with, and I had to stop a few times for cars to pass, but nothing to complain about!

This elevation profile always reminds me of the Jack Rabbit at Kennywood!

This elevation profile always reminds me of the Jack Rabbit at Kennywood!

 

How’s your training going?

What’s your favorite ride at Kennywood? I LOVE all of the roller coasters, and really miss The Pitt Fall! I loved those few seconds at the top, depending on what side you sat on, you got some spectacular views!

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Pittsburgh Marathon Training – Week 1!

The first week of training is in the books! This was a pretty great week; all things considered, the weather was pretty mild (cold, of course, but no snow or ice!) and I had no problem getting all of my workouts in!

Monday – I love kicking a training plan off with a rest day. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see that I nailed it.

Boom.

Boom.   I also spy a Wilbur Tail (#whereswilbur)

Tuesday – First run of the week/training cycle! 3 easy miles (33:14/11:05 pace)on the treadmill . I always start out slow on the treadmill and try to finish fast (to simulate a fast finish in a race), so my pace looks normal for me but in reality, it’s usually an all-out sprint at the end!

Wednesday – Strength Training!

Thursday – My first speed session and I decided to take this one outside. Paces always feel so different to me outside than they do on the treadmill. I’m pretty sure I would have a much harder time pulling these splits off on a treadmill, if I could do them at all. Since this is the first week, I eased into it with 3 great progression miles.

Like lightning!

Like lightning!

I really love progression runs and hoping they will help me to stay disciplined to start the first few miles of the marathon slower and gradually increase my pace as the race goes on.

Friday – Strength Training, again! Since the New Year, I’ve been really good about hitting the weights 2x per week. I don’t have a lot of equipment since I work out in my basement, but am trying to get the most out of what I have. I’d like to see a few muscles out of this! 🙂

Saturday – Hills. In my downtime, I wasn’t as consistent with hill training as I had been. Couple that with more treadmill runs than I think I’ve ever done in my life and I could see a noticeable decrease in my hill fitness.

saturday 4 hills

I’m not worried though – I’m sure I will bounce back fairly quickly. Just by looking at the numbers, it doesn’t look like I lost a lot but it took some serious effort to sustain that!  From now on, anytime I need to run on the treadmill I’m going to start changing the incline around, instead of just the speed. That won’t totally make up for what I’m missing out on, but it should help. I’m also hoping that I will be able to limit my treadmill runs to just once a week on my easy day. I know that won’t always be the case but I can hope! 4 Miles (45:50/11:27 pace)

Sunday – I met Jennifer at North Park for our long run.  We were scheduled for 9 miles (me) and 6 miles (Jennifer) so we tossed a few route ideas around, that would accommodate us both and decided on the Frigid Five Miler course. Rather than try to do mid-run math and find a spot to turn around at, I decided to add on one more mile and make it an even 10.  The Weather Channel App said it was 42 degrees, so I used the opportunity to grace the other runners of North Park with my pasty, neon white legs and wear shorts.

You need sunglasses for those bad boys

You need sunglasses for those bad boys

The first 5 miles was great – I will never believe how fast the miles go when you have someone to talk to. As we tackled the little rollers of the course, I was reminded how remote that section of North Park is…and I started to get a little nervous about running another 5 by myself.  We passed our cars right before we started our second climb up the mountain and I grabbed my cell phone; I told Jennifer that way you guys could use the GPS tracker on it to find my body when I go missing up there. You think I’m kidding but let me refer you to cases 1 & 2 and tell me how crazy I am. Seriously though, safety first. We reached the top of the hill at the Lodge, and it was time to say goodbye to Jennifer (who crushed the hill both times!) so I could start my last 4 miles solo. I also reminded her of my description – grey and purple shorts, grey and purple shirt, ponytail, aviators….just in case.  I ran the last 4 miles a smidge faster than the first time – it was getting cold and rainy and suddenly the shorts seemed like a really stupid idea. I saw a few people here and there, but for the most part it was empty and I kind of really liked it (minus the whole being afraid of a mountain man stealing me and making me his child bride thing, that is).  I made it back to my car unscathed, except for a few frozen fingers that took a few minutes to come back to life.

I think it's obvious where the hills were!

I think it’s obvious where the hills were!

My overall pace was right on target, but my mile splits were kind of all over the place. As many other have said though, that is a really tough course to plan for! I tried to monitor my effort – I was able to truck up the biiiiig hill both times with no stopping or walking, and I was also able to use the level and downhill sections to get my breathing and form under control.

So pretty up there!

So pretty up there!

I finished the week with 20 miles (1 more than I planned for), and I’m feeling really good! Hopefully the momentum carries into next week.  In the coming weeks I want to continue to work on my strength training (that spare tire around my middle seriously needs to go!!), and focus on my nutrition to make sure I’m fueling my workouts!

 

How was your week of training?

Help me out – what are your favorite things to incorporate into your strength workouts? I’ve started doing single leg dead lifts with just a 10lb dumbbell and WOW! I can always feel it the next day!

NVHM – Reflecting on my Training

I’m still not 100% sure what my goals for this race are, but I wanted to reflect on a few things before this weekend.

I first decided to run this race (back in August), and I didn’t have any solid goals then, either.  At the time it was more about getting back into the training groove after taking some time off, and rebuilding a solid base so that I could rock the Pittsburgh Marathon in May.   I wanted to run a smart training cycle – listen to my body, don’t overdo it, and most of all HAVE FUN!  I feel like I really did that and then some:

I started to incorporate real speed work into my training. Not just a half-assed attempt at a tempo or fartlek runs, either. Real honest to goodness speed work.  And I liked it! For a long time, I would *try* (and I use that term loosely) to incorporate some speed into my training but I was going about it all wrong.  If I was doing a tempo, I’d get that first warm up mile in and then go out way too fast and burn out before I even reached another half mile. I learned how to gradually increase my speed, so that I could maintain that pace and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

I learned to LOVE hills! I used to hate hills. All of them.  Then, earlier this year as I was training for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon I decided that I needed to start incorporating some if I wanted to do well. I was also battling Achilles Tendonitis  at the time and wasn’t able to run much, so I figured what little running I could do would be on hills to get the most bang for my buck.  I showed up to that starting line with the least amount of training I’ve ever done for a race, was just grateful to be there, with had no time goal at all. I just wanted to have a good race, do the best I could on THAT day…and ended up setting a 2 minute PR and smashing my PR on that course by over 15 minutes! If you look at my training for that time by just the numbers – mileage and paces – I had NO business running a 2:18 that day.  I firmly believe that those hills had everything to do with it, and I’ve been hooked ever since! I look forward to my Saturday hill runs, and I now go out of my way to make sure I hit as many as possible. Hills are the best!

I listened to my body. This can be one of the hardest parts of training, but I feel like I’m making progress! No one likes to take time off, but this year I’ve learned what can happen when you try to keep pushing through and I’ve realized that taking one or two days off is so much better than taking 1-2 months (or more) off because I was stubborn.  

And, finally…my favorite part of this training:

I started running with a friend.  Prior to this fall, I had never run with anyone before and to be honest, I didn’t think that I would like it. Then I learned how wrong I was. Running with a friend is the BEST! We can’t always get our schedules to work out but I truly look forward to meeting up with Jennifer on the weekends and am so grateful to have found a new friend who shares my love of running (and cats!).

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At the ZooZilla 5K

 

To me, all of these things are so much more important than a number on the clock. I feel like I’ve made serious strides as a runner (ahaha, see what I did there?!), and am really starting to find my confidence and realize that I do have some speed in my legs! Would I like to come away with a PR? Sure! Obviously I would be thrilled, but I’m not going to get all hung up on that.  I’m going to show up to the starting line and do the absolute best that I possibly can that day, have a good time, and just be grateful that I am out there doing what I love to do!

NVHM Training Week 4 – Not Too Shabby!

All in all, this was not a bad week! I got all 4 days of running for 21 miles AND both strength training days in – good stuff!

I hate to say it (because I feel like I jinx it every time) but the legs are feeling good and now that I’m getting my mileage back I can start working on some speed again too!

Monday was a rest day, and even though I only ran 10 miles last week I was ready for this day. I had another dentist appointment and came home and just crashed on the couch – it was wonderful! Real talk – for as much as I love running, I also really really love laying on the couch watching Law & Order marathons and catching up on the DVR.

I was really looking forward to Tuesday’s run. My legs were feeling good, and I was ready to go. It was a chilly, windy fall day and threatening rain when I came home so I broke down and put on capris AND a jacket for this one.

You betcha I picked the two pictures that made me look 10 pounds lighter

You betcha I picked the two pictures that made me look 10 pounds lighter

It was just ok. I really just felt like I was lumbering along baby sasquatch like, and couldn’t seem to get into a rhythm. When I started I didn’t know how many I was going to do but I was hoping for 4 and would be happy with 3. I wanted to quit after 2 but kept trucking along. I called it quits at 3.5 just as I was starting to get into a groove. Not sure why I didn’t go for the other .5 but I didn’t. Oh well!

Wednesday called for strength training and since I had plans to go to the hockey game that night I woke up early to get my sets in. <— I know, right? Look at me being responsible and dedicated!

I was pumped for hockey and best friends time

I was pumped for hockey and best friends time

I also made a fun sign for the game – didn’t get on the big screen/jumbotron, but it was a total hit in our section! It was a late, late night (especially when you’re normally in bed by 8:00 9:30) but so much fun even if we didn’t win.

Sorry 'bout that Philly...

Sorry ’bout that Philly…

 

Thursday was a BEAUTIFUL day and I was so excited to get home and run. According to my outline, Thursdays are for speed; it can be a tempo, fartlek, repeats whatever. I started out and could tell right away that the goal for the day would be to just get some kind of miles in. There would be no speed, this run was just about surviving. It was strange – I was trying SO hard but I really felt like I was running in place. I was exhausted but my heart rate wasn’t really up and I was barely breaking a sweat. Looking back, I think it’s pretty obvious that my body was tired (even though I didn’t really think I was) and needed a break but at the time it was tough. I stuck it out for 3 miles and bagged it. Sometimes, you have to admit it’s not your day…and Thursday was definitely not.

Friday was another strength day, and hot damn if I didn’t wake up early to get it in again! I’ve decided that, as much I want to stay in my warm bed for as long as possible, it’s just easier to haul my ass out of bed and get it out of the way. If I try to put it off until after work, it’ll never get done. I caught up on How To Get Away With Murder while I worked out and it made the time fly by!

Saturday I was shooting for 4-5 miles of hills, so I decided to use the loop that I normally use for my long run. I must have miscalculated somewhere along the line because I ended up with 5.5 miles. Oops.

yay hills

I thought about making it an even 6 but then I remembered that earlier in the week one of my runs also ended in a .5 and I have this thing about ending my week on an even number. So, 5.5 it was for an 11:10 pace. Yee-haw!

Sunday is (almost) always Long Run day and no matter what day it is I always look forward to it! I was really looking forward to today’s 9 miles because I was meeting Jennifer at North Park! Even though she is fresh of a fantastic half marathon AND a great 5K yesterday she still met me to keep my company. After a hilarious parking lot mix up – we both parked in different lots and neither one of us wanted to be the “punctuality police” to see why the other was late- we got started. The first 4.5 together were so fun, and really just flew by! I couldn’t believe when we were rounding the corner after our first loop around the lake. Jennifer and I parted ways after about 5 or so miles and I took off for the final few solo. I didn’t bring my headphones, and I usually don’t run without tunes but it was really nice to just listen to my feet on the pavement and hear the wind and birdies chirping and enjoy the sunshine! I was feeling really good so I tried to pick up the pace for my last few miles and even managed a 10:36 as my last mile!

9 miles

I finished with 9 miles at an 11:16 pace. Not too shabby!

Admittedly, this may have been a little fast but I was feeling really good and having a running buddy for the first half really kept me accountable and helped me make sure I didn’t go out too fast and burn out halfway through.

Overall, I’m really happy this week! Hopefully I can ride this feeling into Week 5 and come out with another strong week of training!!

Have you seen How To Get Away With Murder? SO GOOD!!! I’m hooked!

Running with Friends

I’ve been running consistently since 2012.

In that time, I’ve run 3 half marathons (training for my 4th starts today), 2 5Ks, and 1 full marathon.

With the exception of miles 20-26 of my marathon where my sister in law ran with me, every single mile of every single training run and race has been done solo.  I never really minded it – it’s all I’ve ever known.  I frequently see groups out running at North Park, on the River Trail or around my neighborhood and while I normally never give it another thought, I’ll admit that every now and then I feel a twinge of jealousy. How nice would it be to have some company and friendly conversation with another real, live person and not myself when I’m out there for hours at a time? Oh well, you’re not missing out on much, is typically what I would tell myself any time I found myself wishing for a running buddy.  

Wrong. I was so, so wrong. I have been missing out on so.much.awesomeness.

After commenting a few times on each other’s blogs that we should go for a run together, Jennifer(Running On Lentils) and I did! We met up Sunday for 9 miles along the River Trail and it was so.much.fun!

I’m not going to lie, I was really nervous.  I had pre-warned her that I am one of the most awkward people ever, but she still wanted to meet up which was great.  I really wanted to make a good first impression (told you I’m strange) so before I drove down to the trail, I made sure my teeth and hair were brushed and that my socks matched <—– taking the time to match socks is how you know I was taking this seriously.  It sounds funny to say that I was so nervous, but it’s true.  We don’t know each other in real life, and we were about to spend almost 2 hours in each others company. What if we didn’t get along? What if we had nothing to talk about? What if I’m being catfished? Ok, that last one is a total exaggeration but I think you get the idea.  Luckily, all of that worry was for absolutely nothing.   We settled into a good pace right away where the time and miles absolutely flew by and we never ran out of things to talk about! It was a gorgeous morning for a run, and we knocked those 9 miles out.  While I know that I will still continue doing the majority of my runs solo, I hope that we can still meet up for some long runs along the way! We’ll have to because even though I had my phone with me, I neglected to take a picture! Two bloggers meet up for a run and don’t take a picture? Did it even really happen then?

 

Thanks Jennifer for ignoring my awkwardness, and letting me tag along your training run. You are going to crush Buffalo Creek!!