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.   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 Week 9 – Almost There!!

I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday! I have really been slacking with my posts lately, and am hoping that I once this race is over I’ll be a little more consistent and get a few more up per week. I have lots to talk about, but all I want to do is lay on the couch at night!

Onto the week:

I spent my Monday rest day out at my mom’s taking care of the Wieners. Occasionally she has to work a longer 12 or 14 hour day and that’s too long for “the babies”, as she calls them, to be alone. So on those days I head out after work to feed them, let them out, etc.  

I got up bright and early on Tuesday for a treadmill run. After last Thursday’s “run” (If you can even call it that), I wasn’t really looking forward it but I decided that a shitty attitude before I even started running would do me no favors. I changed my thinking around, and instead of saying I need to run x number of miles I would run somewhere between 3-4.5. That mentality always seems to work well for me, whether or not I’m on a treadmill, so I went for it. I covered the display screen with a towel so I wouldn’t stare at the timer, turned on the TV and got to work.  To help things go by a little faster, every time a commercial came on I bumped up the speed by one or two clicks. That worked out really well, and the run just flew by! I felt really strong and controlled and…dare I say it – I actually enjoyed it! Except for one minor detail….I completely forgot to write down what my time was. And how far I went.  Yes, really.  I’m still not sure how I managed that one.  Regardless, it was a good one!  I then spent Tuesday evening running around buying last minute things for Thanksgiving dinner!  Luckily, the stores weren’t too crowded and it seemed like everyone was making an effort to be extra nice to each other.

Wednesday, I got a good early morning strength workout in. I had some Turkey Day prep to get started after work, so I knew better than to put it off. I made sure to get in plenty of hip strengthening exercises to make sure my knees stay strong.  Because they aren’t really strenuous, I now use those as sort of a warmup before I start my other exercises. I’m sure I should be doing these more often so after the race on Sunday (whaaaat? How is it already here?!) I’m going to make an effort to get them done 3-4 times a week. We’ll see how that goes.

Since we were hosting our first Thanksgiving Dinner this year, I had a lot of work to do Thursday morning but  still had a few minutes to get a run in so I went for a quick progression run. It looked like a perfect morning for a run, so I got started and soon discovered that it was a little more treacherous than I realized. There was black ice all over the place!  I tried to keep an eye out for patches of it, but even then I still slipped several times. Luckily, I never went down but I definitely hit a few slick spots. Despite the fact that I really needed to watch my footing, I still managed a pretty decent clip. Mile 3 was a little slower – this is when I really started to lose my footing and I had to try to find some dry spots.

Turkey Day Splits

The best part though, was how good I felt. Those splits felt easy and effortless and had my paths been clear I know I could have thrown down even better splits.

 I came home, and Tall One and I got to work cooking our first Thanksgiving Dinner. Everything came together really well, and I have to say that it was a success!!   

Friday was supposed to be strength day, but I was exhausted from cooking and hosting duties so I crashed on the couch. Hard. My brother and sister in law also came into town to stay for the weekend, so it was nice to hang out with them!

Saturday, I hit the hills.


5 Miles 11:02 Pace

5 Miles 11:02 Pace

I got a later start than I’m used to and right away it just felt tough, almost like I was running in slow motion or running through molasses. It occurred to me that I didn’t eat breakfast before I started, and probably should have since I didn’t start running for a good 4 hours after I woke up. Whoops.  At 3.5 miles I told myself to just get another half mile in and be done. I tried really hard to focus on my breathing and form and did such a good job, I missed my watch beep on the mile. When I finally looked down I was at 4.75! I finished out the last quarter mile with a decent kick – my last mile was 10:52! I am always amazed at what I can do when I stop staring at the watch and let go. When I uploaded the data, I was really surprised at the time – I definitely felt like I was going much slower! Overall, the pace is still just average, but I took away a lot more from this run than I expected.

Sunday I was planning on my last long run and I was hoping for 8-10 miles depending on how I was feeling. We were treated to some more spring-like temperatures and I was so excited to get out there! However, I wasn’t feeling so well. I’m not sure how to describe it, but it wasn’t good. I decided to at least get started and see how things went. About a mile in I started to feel really fuzzy and lightheaded, which is normally one of the first symptoms I experience when I get a migraine. I hightailed it home to get some water and food in me and to lie down for a little while. Migraines tend to put me down for an entire day or more, and I was meeting my mom later to volunteer for an activity that her workplace was putting on so I couldn’t afford for that to wipe me out. Luckily I managed to fight that off and meet up with my mom as planned. Whew. I am a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to do more but I’ve learned to not mess around when it comes to migraines. If I feel one coming on, I stop everything and do whatever I can to stop it. This is definitely a confidence crusher though, since it happened so close to race day. I have to forget about this one run and focus on how many good ones I’ve had. I started my taper a little earlier than planned, but at least I will be well rested for the NVHM 😉

This has been a pretty good training cycle overall – I stayed healthy, almost injury free, and I feel like I really made a lot of gains in the speed department!

Since I have some extra time on my hands this week, I’m going to try to get a few posts up that I’ve been meaning to write for a while now!

How was your Thanksgiving?

What’s your FAVORITE Thanksgiving side? Mine’s a toss up between good old fashioned green bean casserole and stuffing.

It’s Kind of Dark Out There

This week really got away from me! Everything seemed to happen at once – both cars needed to be inspected, and we thought Shooter may have broken her tail (thank goodness she didn’t, but we still don’t know exactly what’s wrong). At first, I was really excited about Daylight Saving Time and getting that extra hour of sleep but now I’m rethinking that. My schedule is all thrown off – I’m exhausted by 8:30 and wide awake at 4 in the morning. Not cool! I also didn’t think about the fact that the time change means it’s DARK by 6:00. Which brings me to Thursday’s workout…

Thursday night, I set out to tackle a 5 mile tempo run. I was a little nervous, because this would be the longest tempo run I’d ever tried before and I was worried about being able to do it. On the other hand,I was also excited to challenge myself and kind of looking forward to it. I got started a little later than I wanted to and got to work.  Right around 2.5 miles or so, I noticed that it was getting harder to see. Then all of a sudden – dark. I could barely see in front of me and of course I didn’t think to bring a flashlight or headlamp with me.  I finished my 3 tempo miles, but couldn’t see the times to tell if I was actually going fast or not. It felt like I was, but I wasn’t sure. I started to finish up my last mile, but couldn’t see anything. There were wet leaves and puddles everywhere and I couldn’t tell where I was stepping or what I was stepping into (which was super fun) so I had to call it at 4.5 miles. I didn’t even have to look to know that my pace was way too slow, even for me, and I was doing some kind of awkward shuffle-run thing that uncomfortable and probably just doing more harm than good.

5 tempo

Overall, I was really happy with this workout – I may not have been able to squeeze in that last half mile but the speed part was there. I was able to make each mile faster than the last and that’s what I look for more than what the split times were…and I was able to do it without my watch. Maybe someday I’ll be able to shoot for specific times, but I seem to have better luck when I don’t focus on the numbers and go by effort. And if it ain’t broke…don’t fix it!

That will probably be my first and only 5 mile run after work, and that disappoints me.  It’s only going to keep getting darker, earlier and pretty soon I probably won’t even have time for 3 miles before it’s too dark.  It looks like I’ll be moving my speed work indoors to the treadmill for the time being, which is ok for now. It’s not ideal, but I’ve been saying that I need to get more comfortable using that contraption anyway and this is going to force me to which is a good thing. I know that I’m a lot slower there, than I am outside but as long as I keep hitting the hills aka speed work in disguise I think that I’ll be ok for NVHM. Hopefully by the time training for Pittsburgh rolls around, I’ll be a little more comfortable on the ‘mill and I’ll be able to knock out some solid workouts on that baby.

Are you a treadmill lover or hater?

Back in the Boot

I had a whole woe is me post written out and ready to post the other day, but something made me stop.  Maybe I didn’t want to sound like a whining 5 year old in a public forum…

Yes, I am back in the boot.

You know you're jealous of the pasty complexion and freckles

You know you’re jealous of the pasty complexion, freckles, and grubby sock

To say I’m frustrated is an understatement and I definitely had a pity party for myself earlier this week but I’m feeling ok now.  

This was completely my fault, and I know that. After two difficult runs back-to-back, I should have been much more diligent about my icing/stretching and…plain and simple, I wasn’t.  And, let’s be honest…that 9% grade wasn’t the best idea either.



My original post basically had me convinced that I wouldn’t be able to run this half, and that my spring race was already in jeopardy. Just a little dramatic, no?

Fast forward a few days, and I’ve been icing and booting (not sure if it’s a word, but if it wasn’t before it is now) and stretching and resting. I skipped my scheduled run on Tuesday and moved my Thursday evening run to this morning for 2 sloooow miles on the treadmill to test things out.


 Luckily, the pain/tightness is almost completely gone and there was no discomfort running this morning. The big test will be tomorrow night – I’m going to shoot for 3 easy ones after work.  I’m also going to take my long run easy – no huge hills like last week and no looking at my watch.  THEN, when I get home? ICE, ICE BABY.  If  have to, I’ll take all of next week off and even though I hate skipping runs, I have to remember that I would rather miss out on a week’s worth of running now rather than 3 or 4 months down the road. I’m also incredibly frustrated because I was coming off a strong week and was hoping to keep up with that momentum and had to take a step back. Womp Womp.

This was a wake up call that I need to take seriously and make the time to recover properly. I am hoping that I can get ahead of this before it becomes a full blown case of tendonitis.