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!

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 3

Boy, oh boy! Old Man Winter finally woke up and joined the game, and he is a miserable SOB!! I’m being perfectly honest – this week was TOUGH! The snow was a challenge, but the ice seriously kicked my ass! I’ve been kind of pouting about this week (which is why I’m so late in posting), but I’m ready to move on!

Monday – Rest. This was pretty much the highlight of my week 😉 !

Tuesday3 miles 35:00 (11:47 pace). There was SO much ice out there, and I’m pretty sure anyone who saw me out probably thought I was practicing my figure skating routine, rather than marathon training. I made sure to take it verrrrrry easy so I wouldn’t fall.

Ice, Ice, Baby

Ice, Ice, Baby

Wednesday Strength! I’m doing a really good job of sticking to the twice a week plan, but I don’t feel like I’m getting anything out of it. I did some research and started a new plan this week. It really encourages you to lift heavier, and gives you a solid plan to follow. I’m pretty clueless when it comes to weightlifting so I’m excited to try this out and hopefully there will be some noticeable results as well! My legs and arms were really feeling it the next day so I hope it’s working!

Thursday – This was supposed to be a 4 mile tempo run, but didn’t even come close! My legs were seriously sore from Wednesday’s workout, and I wasn’t sure how well the tempo would go so I figured even a progression run would be OK. It had been raining for most of the afternoon so I thought the snow and ice would pretty much be gone. It kind of was…almost like a slushie, sno-cone consistency, but still patchy in some places. I got to try out some ice spikes that my dad sent to me, and they were a huge help!

021

Even with those, I still had to be careful and watch my step and my pace was all over the place. I finished the 4 miles in 45:10 (11:18 pace), so not even a little speedy but…it’s 4 miles in the books.

Friday Strength. Still using the new program; still loving it! I know that it’s still new but I’m really enjoying this.

Saturday Long Run! Based on the “oh my god! Snow is coming! The end is near!” forecasts, I moved my 12 miler to Saturday. I needed to get an early start, so Jennifer and I weren’t able to meet up. That was a major disappointment – we’ve done almost every single long run together since just after Christmas, and I really look forward to them. Jennifer is also the responsible one, and makes sure we stick to our long run paces.  This is key. Typically when I do long runs on my own, the same thing happens: I start out waaaaay too fast (like, faster than race pace) and the second half of my run becomes more of a death march/battle to survive. The overall pace looks OK, but the point is that I’m barely finishing them. When I run with Jennifer, not only do I finish but I finish strong. It’s amazing what happens when you do these runs properly. Seriously.  I was a little nervous that I would revert back to my old ways and I decided that the main goal would be to stick to an 11:30ish pace. No worries about negative splits etc….just run smart and don’t go out too fast.  It was FREEZING cold out at North Park – around 7 degrees, and I thought I was dressed properly, but I could have used an extra layer on my legs. At one point, I literally thought I froze my ass off. The backs of my legs and butt were SO cold, they hurt. I wondered if it was possible to get frostbite even if your skin wasn’t exposed (still don’t know the answer to this). I stopped at my car, and gave a quick check to ensure that my legs weren’t  discolored or looking strange. Everything seemed to be OK, and for a brief minute I debated cutting the run short, going home and doing my long run on Sunday. I was already out there so I pushed that thought out of my mind and kept going. And made a mental note to wear an extra pair of pants when it’s that cold!  I usually hate staring at my watch while I’m running (it’s so stressful!), but I kept a close eye on it to make sure I wasn’t going too fast.  Luckily, Jennifer is rubbing off on me and I was able to maintain a decent pace.

Nailed it. Kind of.

Nailed it. Kind of.

Admittedly, it wasn’t perfect and I was a little faster than I wanted but I accomplished my main goal: run smart and don’t go out too fast. I finished strong and overall was really happy with this run. This was undoubtedly my best run all week. 12 miles 2:15:57 (11:20 pace)

Sunday – This run. Ohhhhhh, this run.  I do a lot of my running in a cemetery. It’s super close to my home, safe (minus the turkeys), and has a good mix of short hills and longer inclines…basically it’s perfect. In theory, anyway. In reality, there was maybe a quarter mile stretch of road in the cemetery that wasn’t buried under a solid sheet of ice. I tried to walk on parts of it, but after I fell I decided I shouldn’t risk it. So I had do to a little more running on the side streets than I wanted, but I still did it. And it was HARD. I don’t know if my legs were tired from my long run and the new strength program, or I was afraid of falling again, but I just could NOT get my legs moving. 7 miles 1:23:41 (11:57 pace).

2-1 hills

You get a picture of the hills, because I’m not posting my splits. They were awful.

My pace ended up being over 30 seconds slower per mile than my long run. It sucked and that’s all I have to say about that. Well, just one more thing: even though this run was awful, I LOVE running in the snow (when there’s no ice). It’s sooo peaceful, and pretty and compared to the day before it almost felt warm 🙂

The elements really kicked my ass this week, but I need to shake that off and refocus for this upcoming week of training.  It’s not like I’m the only person out there who is dealing with shitty conditions…we all are.  Big deal. It’s January (technically February since I’m late posting this), in Pittsburgh. Of course there is going to be snow and ice to deal with, and if everyone else can make it work then so can I! Suck it up, Buttercup!!