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.



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.



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!




NVHM Training Week 6 – Fitting It All In

Less than 1 month until NVHM. And I still haven’t registered for the race yet. Whaaat?? I’m going to – I swear! I didn’t register right away because I wasn’t 100% sure that I would be able to run it. I was a little nervous that my tendonitis might flare up and keep me from doing the training I need for this race and I don’t want to show up  unprepared.  Luckily, everything seems to be going well with that so I’ll be registering very soon. I’m also still a little worried about the weather – State College in December could be really good..or really bad. Obviously if they are calling for bad weather, I won’t be going and will lose out on another registration fee but at least this one goes to help under-insured families in the State College area. I can get behind that one.

This was a crazy week – there was something every single day this week but I managed to fit it all in!

Monday was my rest day and necessary. All I wanted to do was lay on the couch and be useless, but I had to drive my car out to the dealership and drop it off for it’s inspection.  Once I finally made it home, I got to crash and it was great. Pretty sure I was out cold by 9. Amazing.

Tuesday was extra fun. I had to go back to pick up my car, and Miss Shooter had a vet appointment because we thought she may have broken her tail. It’s kind of a long story, but the good news is there is no break. The bad news is that they don’t know what the problem is. She’s getting better, and can almost raise her tail up all the way again which is good stuff. Running after work wasn’t going to happen, so I got up nice and early to run on the treadmill. I think the most I’ve ever run on the ‘mill is about 3 miles, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I figured 3 would be acceptable but I really wanted to get 4 in. 1 mile doesn’t sound like a big difference but on the treadmill feels like forever. I got all 4 miles in at an 11 min pace – perfect. I’m not going to lie, the first two miles didn’t seem so bad, but 3&4 were a struggle. I played around with the speed and watched TV but it was a battle to keep going. I try to tell myself that running on the treadmill is just as good mental training as it is physical!

Wednesday was strength training, which I knocked out first thing in the morning! Go me! I thought I would have the night to relax, but I realized I had no food in the house so I dragged the Tall One grocery shopping with me. I know you’re so relieved to hear my kitchen is fully stocked now! I thought about doing a WIAW post, but I totally forgot about it until Friday. A little late for that, I think. Here’s a snapshot of my dinner though – SO good!

Homemade BBQ Chicken Pizza. Delish!!

Homemade BBQ Chicken Pizza. Delish!!

Thursday was my tempo run. I fell about a half mile short of my planned 5 miles, which was ok with me. It was that or potentially have an up close meeting with the pavement and, call me crazy, but that didn’t sound like much fun. As soon as I was done running, we had to drop Tall One’s car off to be inspected. I neglected to ice my legs/stretch after that workout  because I was rushing and I’m feeling it today. Seriously…when will I learn?! I ran 4.5 miles for a 10:56 overall pace. All things considered, I’m really happy with that workout!

Friday was more strength. I feel like I’m finally getting in the habit of doing this. I don’t have the most challenging of workouts right now, but I figure that I’m more likely to stick with it if I gradually increase my workload rather than jump in feet first. In a few more weeks (after the half I think), I’ll up the intensity a bit and see how that goes.

I was hoping for 5 or 6 miles on Saturday, but my legs were feeling Thursday’s tempo so rather than push it and potentially make it worse, I went out for 4 miles of hills  at a 10:51 pace. It was COLD! I dug out my tights and found a long sleeved shirt to wear under my jacket, and realized that I need to make some additions to my winter running wardrobe!

Yay! Hills!

Yay! Hills!

I spent a lot of time in The Boot on Saturday, hoping to alleviate some of the tightness. I could still feel it before I set out for Sunday’s long run, but not enough to stop me from running.

Sunday had 11 miles on the schedule. Now that I’m getting into double digit long runs, it’s time for me to start taking in some fuel during them. Typically for any run 10 miles or under, I don’t like to take any gels but once I start getting into 2 hour territory I like to have them. I also need to have a rough idea of my fueling strategy for NVHM so this is the time to figure it out.  It took a few miles for my legs to wake up and join the party, but once they did this was a pretty solid long run! The weather was much nicer today – 40 degrees at the start of my run compared to yesterday’s 28. I opted for a long sleeved shirt and shorts and was comfortable the whole time. I like to call that look winter on the top, summer on the bottom. I also think there’s some kind of ‘that’s what she said’ joke in there too…but that might be pushing it.

I doubled up on my normal route around the neighborhood and stashed my water bottle/gel near my house. I hate carrying a water bottle with me and will do everything to avoid it. This may pose a problem later on, and it’s something I’m going to have to work on.

This looks much worse than it is

This looks much worse than it is

I have to chuckle at these elevation charts – they make these hills seem so much more dramatic than they really are.  I shouldn’t say anything and let you guys think I’m a total bad-ass trucking up these mountains!

I totaled 23.5 miles this week, and am feeling great! My left leg is a little tight,but nothing that I can’t manage! I’m really pleased that I’m (finally) learning how to juggle and manage my training even when little snafus pop up. Look at me being responsible and stuff.

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!

Air Force Marathon Training – Week 4

Wow! 4 weeks in already? Those went by so quickly – I feel like I just started!

If you’ll recall, last week was pretty rough for me. I was hopeful that I could turn things around this week, and looking at things from an attitude standpoint – I did. I took Sunday off, and used that time to clear my head. It was seriously needed.

I was back on track this week – until this happened.  I stuck to my plan and took Friday off – used the extra time to stretch, ice, and use my new Tommy Copper Compression Socks. It worked, because I was able to get my long run in on Saturday and the pain didn’t get any worse, and has actually subsided. I’ll still be getting my Graston treatment Monday, and seeing the foot specialist the following Monday.

Here’s how it all went down:


Planned: 4 Miles

Actual: 3 Miles 35:06 (11:41 pace). I usually run 3 on Mondays so I just assumed that this was another 3 mile day. Woops. Anyway, it was hot!!!


I made sure to hit some good hills, and boy did that heat suck the life out of me.  I was relieved to not feel any pain during my run (which these days in unusual), but after I could feel the pain setting in. I iced as soon as I got in the door and hoped for the best.


Planned: Strength

Actual: Strength! Wahoo!  My legs were really tight, so I did my weights but took it easy on my legs so I wouldn’t aggravate them even more. Then it was more ice and compression after dinner.


Planned: 4 Miles

Actual: 4 AM Miles 46:05 (11:31 pace).  I was hoping to make this a speed day, but I was trying to take it as easy as possible on my legs. They were very angry with me, but once I started running they didn’t hurt at all. I picked it up for the last mile and had no problems.  It was sticky, and humid and even though it slows me down I loved it! I was even super responsible and iced as soon as I came home.


Planned: Strength

Actual: Strength! 2 in a row – I’m on a roll!! My legs were killing me.  I kept stretching, and icing, and hoping that it would magically disappear by morning. I knew that it wouldn’t so I decided not to run on Friday in the hopes that I could still get my long run in. If I have to miss a run, I’d rather it not be my long runs. And, not running meant that I could sleep in. 🙂


Planned: 4 Miles

Actual: Rest. Ice. Compression. Repeat.

Every time I ice my legs, Shooter is right there "helping".

Every time I ice my legs, Shooter is right there “helping”.


Planned: 7 Mile long run

Actual: 7 miles 1:22 (11:49 pace). Overall, I was pretty happy with this run.  I think I’m still trying to get used to the heat/humidity (that, or I am just a major wimp). Just like last week, I felt like I had a really hard time getting myself to move. I think it’s finally time to start taking fuel/hydration with me. Normally, I don’t take anything with me if it’s under 10 or 11 miles but now that conditions are changing it’s time to be smart. My next long run is 10 miles, so I will definitely be packing some liquid and gels.

Even though I was happy with the day’s effort, I have to say I was a little bummed when I finished.  I usually don’t pass too many runners on my route – I don’t know if it’s because I start early, or it’s a tad dangerous (narrow road, fast cars, etc. ) but I can typically count on being out there alone. Not Saturday. I saw not one, but two other ladies out running. Awesome. Until they both blew past me like I wasn’t even moving (let’s be honest, I barely was), and I lost sight of them before it even registered that they passed me. Not going to lie, it was a little discouraging.  I felt like I was busting my ass and they both smoked me (on uphills, no less) like it was nothing and just kept cruising. Instead of being upset about that though, I know I need to use that as fuel; use that as motivation. One day, I WILL be able to cruise up those hills.

Overall, I’m happy with this week. I didn’t let outside factors have a negative effect (affect? I typed both and couldn’t decide which to use.) on my workouts and actually made a smart decision to skip a run by keeping in mind the bigger picture. Baby steps, you guys!

Pumping Some Iron

Or, as we like to say in The Burgh, “pumping some ‘arn’ ”  .

I know that strength training is an important part of any training plan, but it’s something that I have seriously neglected…ok, ok, completely ignored during all of my training cycles. Then, whenever I’m trying to chug up a hill or shuffling through the last few miles of a long run I always say “I am seriously going to start strength training. Tomorrow”. Then tomorrow comes and goes…and the next day, and the next, and….well, I think you get the idea.


I wish this was an exaggeration

I wish this was an exaggeration

This time, I really am going to make an effort to stick to a routine. Not only do I want to become stronger and a little faster, but I wouldn’t mind losing the “chicken wing” arms, and my pants fitting again would be nice.

I don’t belong to a gym, and have no desire to join one. Of the two that are a reasonable distance from my house, one is dirty and sketchy and not somewhere I’d like to spend extended periods of time; the second one I used to belong to, but I really didn’t like it. There were maybe 4 or 5 treadmills, a few weight machines and a teeny tiny free weight section that was always full. I’ll be honest, I was always really intimidated to go to the free weight section, especially if it was crowded; I had no idea what to do and was certain that all of the people there would be judging me (I know it’s stupid, but that’s what goes through a self conscious, not-so-lean person’s mind). To avoid all of the previously mentioned “issues”, I’ve been slowly but surely turning our basement into my own home gym – adding dumbbells, weight plates, and medicine balls to compliment the items we already have.

Having said all of that (if anyone is still reading), I’ve devised a plan that will help me ease into the world of pumping iron – something that will help me increase my strength without leaving me unable to walk for a week and that I can complete in my “home gym”.  Whew…no problem, right??  For now, in theory, my plan will be a total body workout 3-4 times per week. I’ll switch things up every few weeks to keep from getting bored.

Here’s what this week looks like:

3×12 of

  • Squats
  • Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Overhead Walking Lunges (w/10lb weight plate)
  • Toe Touches
  • Arm Pullover*
  • Plank (30 sec.)
  • High Pulls*
  • Pushups (on my knees, because I’m a wimp)

*I do these moves on my Total Gym (yes, the Chuck Norris endorsed one. Don’t judge ’till you’ve tried it)


I’m pretty clueless about incorporating weightlifting into my marathon training, and tried to do as much research as I could but I know there is still a lot of room for improvement, and would love some input.  Is this enough? Too much?  What am I missing?

If you have any suggestions, recommendations, etc. I’m all ears!

What kind of strength training do you do?