I’m still here. I think.

You guys. I’m not sure how this happened, but I am already completing my first 8 week semester of school. Technically the semester ends tonight at midnight , but being the overachiever that I am, I finished everything yesterday. THANKYOUDEARSWEETBABYJESUS!!!!!!

dearlordbabyjesus

 

I’m feeling pretty confident about things and am pretty sure *knock on wood* that I will get A’s in both of my classes, so I’ll just have to be patient (lol) and wait for grades to be posted. I have been so busy with school that posting was just not happening, but, I have so many things to talk about that I don’t even know where to start! So I’ll just jump right in.

I’m still running the Buffalo Creek Half tomorrow and, despite my utter lack of training, I am still looking forward to it! With exactly 1 double digit long run (2 weeks ago) under my belt, I don’t have high hopes for the outcome but that’s A-OK. There are 0 goals – just have fun!  I can’t have my cake and eat it too, you know?

Did someone say cake?

Did someone say cake?

My training for this race really didn’t go as planned. At all. Back when I first said I was going back to school, I was delusional and thought that I will still be able to run 3x a week with no problem, mon. but it didn’t work out that way. I’ll admit that a good part of that was totally on me. I put so much pressure on myself that for a while, I felt guilty if I wasn’t diligently working away on assignments.  I also felt a little overwhelmed, thinking that I made a mistake going back to school, and that this was never going to work. Eventually, I started to find a balance and realized that I did not need to be spending ALL of my time outside of my job doing homework. In fact, in the last week or two I’ve actually been able to take a night completely off! WOW! To be fair, there was a good amount of work that I had to get through each week but I learned how to manage it. The only problem is that juuuuuust as I feel like I’m getting a grasp on the situation and better learning how to manage my time….a new round of classes start on Sunday! Oy vey! Hopefully though, this time management will still apply to the new classes.

That was the really long explanation of why I didn’t train (at all) for this race. If you’re still reading…you deserve a medal. Or a hug. Or both.  I can deliver on one of the two…..I’ll let you decide which.

It's really up to you

It’s really up to you

 

I am hoping that in the next few days I can do a post talking about both of my classes, and my experiences with them.  At the very least, I’ll be back at some point late Saturday or Sunday with a race recap!! 

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 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!

Weekly Recap 1/5-1/11

Another week in the books! This was the last week of “freedom” before 16 weeks of marathon training kicks in, and I stuck to the plan of relaxing and taking things nice and easy – I only totaled 14 miles for the week! Jennifer and I were talking at the race yesterday and we both agreed that while there was a smidge of guilt over the lack of miles, it was really our last opportunity to do whatever we wanted and I took full advantage. It also happened to be the first “real” week of winter with subzero temperatures, ice, and snow so that made my decisions much easier! Having said that, I am READY to start marathon training!

Here’s a peek into last week:

Monday: You guessed it – REST.

Tuesday – This was a double workout day. I ran 4 miles on the treadmill first thing in the morning, and then did my weights when I got home from work.  I am still trying to figure out how I want to balance my strength work during this training cycle. If I stick to only doing weights 2x a week, I could pull doubles and run in the morning, then lift when I get home. This would give me a few extra rest days during the week, which would be lovely. I could also lift on the days when I don’t run…this would mean less rest days but also less work each day, if that makes sense.  If I bump it up to 3 days a week, this all goes out the window and I will have to double up on some days. I can’t make up my mind, so I think I’m just going to have to try them both and see what works best for me.

My trainer. He just lays around and barks orders at me. Jerk.

My trainer. He just lays around and barks orders at me. Jerk.

Wednesday – Rest.

Thursday – AM Weights + a quick 15 minute incline walk on the treadmill. I’m not crazy about hauling my buns out of bed at 4:30 in the morning, but I do LOVE getting a workout in first thing. I always feel energized and ready to KA-POW  the shit out of my day!

Friday – More rest. I could get used to this.

Saturday – Holy $%# was it cold!! Even before the Marathon kick off run was cancelled, I decided that I would be hitting up the basement for a date with my treadmill. Originally I wanted Saturday to be my long run of about 8-9 miles but once I realized I wouldn’t be able to run outside I readjusted my expectations. I’ve never run  more than 4 miles on a treadmill so I set a realistic goal of 5 miles. Might not sound like much to some (like Steffany, who knocked out SIXTEEN miles on her treadmill this past weekend…SO awesome) but this was a big deal for me. I covered the screen with a towel, turned on my beloved Law and Order and went to work. I’m always slower on the treadmill than I am outside, so I knew that it would take me a while. I always play games with myself when I’m running, so I told myself to not look at the timer until after the episode ended (I started running at about 7:30, so it was already halfway over). Then I challenged myself to not look until after the opening credits played…and I just kept doing that until it had been almost 45 minutes or so. When I finally got to take the towel away I was past the 4 mile mark and pretty proud of myself. I very briefly thought about pushing it to 6 miles, but I figured there will be plenty of opportunities to try that out this winter! I started cranking the speed up every .2-.25 miles until the last quarter mile when I made it an all-out sprint to the end.  That sort of salvaged my pace to make 5 miles in 57:46 (11:33 pace).

015

It doesn’t seem like much, but that was big for me. I called it a TDR – treadmill distance record! Hopefully I don’t have to do this often, but knowing that I can is huge! I just pray that I don’t have to do my long run on that thing…

Also, as I’m writing/editing this I was contacted via the Pittsburgh Marathon that my entry on Instagram was one of the winners of their Treadmill Challenge! I won a VIP Package for race weekend – I NEVER win anything so I am soooo excited about this!! Wahoo!!

Sunday – Frigid Five Miler! Full recap is here.  Overall, I really enjoyed this race and had a great time! I did mention in my recap that I had some issues with our pacer…maybe it’s just me and I’m ultra sensitive to being a slower runner, but some of the comments he made seriously irritated me. It’s actually one of the reasons I decided to pull away from the group…I just couldn’t listen to him anymore! If I’m in the wrong, please tell me…I will shout an apology from the rooftops! I can’t tell if I’m being too sensitive or not.

Exhibit A:

As we were waiting for the start, someone in our group asked if 11:00 was his normal pace and he answered with a “ohhhh NO! I normally run an 8 or 9 minute pace. I ran a lot this weekend, so I asked for the slowest group they had.” Ohhh kay? There was also a good bit of attitude in his answer that made it seem like he was doing US this huuuuge favor of gracing us with his pacing presence.

Exhibit B:

We were talking about upcoming races, and I said that I was running the Pittsburgh Marathon and that 11:00 is my goal pace. He asked if I had run a marathon before and I said yes, and that going out too fast in that race cost me dearly in the end and added a good 20 minutes to my time. When he asked what my time was, and I told him “5:23” he replied with a “Huh. Well. Like I ALWAYS say….anyone can finish a marathon.” Again, with the attitude and making it seem like my time made this less of an accomplishment or… something. This is the point where I started to move a few steps ahead of him.

Exhibit C:

This is the last comment I heard, because we dropped him soon after so I don’t know (and don’t think I want to know) if any other comments were made.  We were still just ahead of the group, and some other girls were asking him about pace groups and if tucking into a group like this is beneficial because it can block some of the wind/elements, etc. He answered with a “Sure, but at this pace it’s not like you’re going fast enough for it to make a difference”.

I thought at first, maybe he just didn’t realize how those comments seemed but…the more he made, the more it just sounded like passive aggressive/digs to us slower runners.  Yeah, I’m not a sub 4 hour marathoner…I’ll probably never qualify for Boston; hell, I’ll be lucky if I can break 5 hours this year! It just seems to me that the last place for that kind of attitude is at a race where you are pacing these people.  If I had feelings, they would be hurt. Luckily, I can let a lot of things roll off my back but…what about other people? What if there was someone new to running in that group that was already nervous about being there, or nervous about finishing last (like I STILL am sometimes *cough* Nittany Valley *cough*)? Did those comments potentially cause someone to question whether or not to continue running?  I sincerely hope not. Luckily, it seems that for every 1 of someone with that attitude there are 100+ others that are nothing but encouraging and supportive to everyone not just the ones in their pace group. Sorry to go off on a tangent, but these kinds of things really grind my gears.

What do you think? Am I being too sensitive, or was this guy a little over the line?

2015 Frigid Five Miler – Race RECAP!

This was a last minute race – Jennifer and I had planned to run 8ish miles on Sunday at North Park to begin with and when we saw the race was going on at the same time we figured “why not?”. I also heard that there were pancakes and hot chocolate at the end…how do you say no to that?! That’s right. You don’t! We registered on Friday, and came up with a strategy for the race: make this a progression run at race pace. Start in the 11:10ish range and work our way down to a 10:50 pace. I am horrible with my pacing during races and it normally always comes back to bite me in the ass, so I wanted to practice starting out conservatively. This race definitely lived up to the “frigid” part – 17 degrees at the start with a wind chill of 9! Then again, compared to yesterday….it was almost pleasant. Almost.

Pre-race hashbrown selfie!

Pre-race hashbrown selfie!

The race starts and ends at the Lodge on North Ridge Road at North Park, and a pre-race email warned that there was limited parking up there so we parked at the skating rink and walked up the hill to the start. Realizing that we would later have to RUN back UP that beast was a little unsettling. After some warm up stretching, we made our way to the start line and found the 11:00 pacer. We were pretty excited to see that pacers were available and thought that it would be a good idea to stick with him for a bit. I’m pretty certain that I will be using a pacer at the marathon, so I wanted to try running with one today.  Our pacer said that he was going to bank some time early so that when we hit the monster hill at the end we would be OK. After seeing that hill, I figured that was probably a wise strategy.

The elevation profile:

Hold me closer, Tony Danza.

Hold me closer, Tony Danza.

The first mile of this course is pretty level; a few up and downs but nothing major. We stuck with the pacer* for the first mile, but then started to pull away from the pace group, but only by a few steps. I was feeling good as we started down a slight downhill just before the second mile, and we were still ahead of the pacer. Our pace was still in the mid 10’s, and I was feeling good but I kept thinking about the hill at the end and wanted to save something for that. Somewhere in the second or third mile there was a water table set up, but….no one was there! There were containers and cups, but no one manning the station. I joked that it must be self serve, but it was definitely strange. Maybe they didn’t have as many volunteers as they originally planned on and decided that this was a non-essential stop?

The miles ticked by, as they always seem to when you have good company, and we kept up a really speedy pace for the first 3 miles but it was starting to take it’s toll. Conversation wasn’t flowing as much and we started to focus more on our breathing and form. I started to feel awful because, once again, I didn’t stick to the plan, threw the paces out the window and it was going to cost us. The pacer was still behind us but was inching closer and closer. The last water stop was right at the start of North Ridge Road, just after mile 4, so we walked through that and started the climb. This hill was wicked, and was almost like you were running in place. We went with a run/walk to get ourselves up to the top and about halfway up the 11:00 min pacer finally passed us. We kept him in our sights though, and  seemed to get a second wind as we rounded the last turn, kicked it up a notch (passed a few people!!) and sprinted across the line in 55:15/ 11:02 pace. SOOOOO close to our 11:00 goal! When I realized how close we were to our goal, I didn’t feel as bad but I still couldn’t help but think that if we had held back somewhere else on the course, we would have had juuuuuust a little more to give at the end. That is something that will ALWAYS be a struggle for me, and something that I really need to get under control before the marathon. I can (sort of) get away with that in a shorter race, but that will (and has!) come back to haunt me in the half and full distances.

frigid pace

Not too shabby!

After the race, we went into the lodge to warm up and I grabbed some pancakes and hot chocolate!

Delicious. Also, Garmin gave me an 11:02 pace, vs the 11:03 FitSnap gave me so I'm gonna take the 1 second back ;-)

Delicious. Also, Garmin gave me an 11:02 pace, vs the 11:03 FitSnap (and Daily Mile) gave me so I’m gonna take the 1 second back 😉

All things considered, I am really happy with this race. I definitely still need to work on pacing myself but that will always be a work in progress ;-). I am really proud of Jennifer for gutting it out at the end and really grateful that she didn’t get mad when I nearly ruined it for us! This was a solid effort all around, we were only 3 seconds off of our goal pace, and this was a great way to kick off marathon training for me, and half marathon training for her!

*I don’t want to sound like a bitch, but I was not happy with this pacer.  I’ll talk about it tomorrow in my weekly recap….maybe I’m just way too sensitive about being a slow poke, but there were some comments made that really rubbed me the wrong way.