Pittsburgh Marathon Training – Week 14

First week of taper – DONE.  I remember when I trained and tapered for my first full marathon what a bundle of nerves I was for the 2 whole weeks before the race…I basically resembled an over-caffeinated squirrel. This time around, I’m a little more relaxed; not a lot but enough. I’m more of an over caffeinated chipmunk instead of squirrel.  I have a few fun posts to publish in the next couple of days of how I’m keeping myself busy during the taper and that’s helping to take my mind off of the race.

I mentioned last week that I’m all kinds of nervous that my stomach would not cooperate on race day, but you guys are awesome and had some great suggestions that I already started implementing aaaand *knock on wood*/*fingers crossed* I think they really helped!!

Monday – Rest Day.

Because it's been a while...#whereswilbur??

Because it’s been a while…#whereswilbur??

Tuesday7 miles. I was nervous that my stomach would be cranky and that the awful pain from Saturday would come back but…NOTHING! I felt great the whole time, and was happy to see a 10:54 average pace for this. I used my standard big loop around the neighborhood, and there is a long gradual climb right in the middle that I think is a good simulator for Oakland. It’s not exact, but I like that it helps me practice the mental aspect of running a hill that seems never ending.

This chart makes it look massive, but it's really not.

The climb starts around 3.5 and goes until mile 5.

I like to pick different point along the road, and run to that. So, as I start the climb I look for a road sign, mailbox, pole, etc that is ahead and focus on that. Once I get there, I pick a new landmark and focus on that…and just keep repeating until I get to the top. Some days, if I’m not on my A-game the landmarks are really close together and other days I only need to pick 2 or 3 to get me through. Either way, it works like a charm. Try it…you’ll love it!

WednesdayRest. I hate to admit it, but I definitely abandoned my strength training. At first it was due to physically not being able to, and now I feel like it would do more harm than good since I’m so sore after. I try to throw some body weight work in when I think of it – some air squats, lunges, planks, etc. but…I usually don’t think about it so it usually doesn’t happy. Sorry ‘bout that.

We do rest days right in this house

We do rest days right in this house

Thursday6 miles. Technically 5.89 because….I really had to go to the bathroom. Overshare? Maybe, but I’m sure we’ve all been there. All of a sudden you need to GO and thank god I was close to home or that could have been a disaster.  I was juuuuust shy of race pace at an 11:04, but since I was all kinds of speedy on Tuesday I was pretty happy with this.

Don't act like you've never done the "penguin waddle" home.

Don’t act like you’ve never done the “penguin waddle” home.



Saturday6 miles 1:07 (11:19 pace). Holy shit where did the heat come from?!  I started my run a little later than I normally do and the sun was out in full force…there wasn’t much wind and very little cloud cover. It.was.HOT. To be honest, I didn’t think much of it at first but not long after I started running I could feel myself struggling – everything felt very difficult, and it was just hard. I could feel my stomach getting angry and I stopped at the house to avoid a repeat of Thursday’s near disaster and got some water.  Rather than doing my big loop, I stayed close to home (just in case) and did several smaller loops. This was basically a repeat of last Saturday’s run: warm, sunny, and a lot of interruptions. I kept getting text messages and phone calls and while I usually ignore them these ones needed to be answered…there were a lot of stops and starts and wasting time. As I started mile 6 I could feel my stomach tightening up and I decided to not even try for 7. It’s taper time and I should be cutting back anyway. As I chugged some ice water and tried to cool down I started to think. MAYBE my stomach pain when I’m running isn’t connected to the other issues I’ve been having (those have thankfully been going away). Both runs where I had trouble the conditions were similar – the weather was not at all what I’m used to. Lots of sun and HEAT. I’ve spent the last 4+ months running in the Arctic Tundra. Seriously. There were many days where it was colder here than Antarctica. I checked. My body doesn’t remember what sun, and heat, and humidity are. I also know that I was not well hydrated for cool conditions, let alone 70 degrees.  I spent the rest of the day chugging water in the hopes that maybe this was the answer, and judging by Sunday’s run I think it might be. I have one more long run to test this theory out but…THIS is my biggest race day fear – heat.  There haven’t been many opportunities to run in warm conditions and that could cause major issues if that’s what we get on May 3rd.

Sunday –  15 miles 2:58 (11:54 pace) I met Jen for a long run. I had 15 miles (you know training is almost over when you’re excited that you’re running a “short” 15) and I was really nervous to see how things would go. The last few long runs I’ve done have sucked so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I took the advice of Nichole and Gretchen and switched things up with my gels.   I would normally only takes gels at miles 5 & 10 during a training run, but to practice the fueling strategy I fueled at miles 3.5, 7.5 11.5 and I alternated Gu Roctanes with Honey Stingers and was thrilled that I tolerated each one without issue! Those worked so well, that I’m pretty sure that’s the combination I’m going to use on race day: Gu, Stinger, Gu, Stinger…and 1 more Gu just in case. The run itself was great as well – it started out chilly but sunny and as usual the miles ticked by and before I knew it I was on my own for the last 3 miles. I wanted to try to pick up the pace for the last few and practice a fast finish. It was really tough – I was tired (my dinner the night before was not my usual pasta thanks to a night out for the hockey game), it was warming up and I was at the hard part of the lake loop. I didn’t even check my splits because I thought I failed miserably but when I uploaded them I was shocked to see that I was pretty close to race pace. I’m not sure that’s a good thing though – according to my race plan, I should be starting to speed up a little around mile 13 or 14 (after the Oakland Hill), not struggling to barely hold pace. BUT this is the taper, and your body does funny shit during it so hopefully it will get itself together in the next few days!

15 splits 4-19

I cannot believe that we are 10 days out from race day. It seems like just yesterday it was Christmas, and we were all making our training plans (and checking them twice), and now….the countdown is ON.


Pittsburgh Marathon Training Week 4!

Another week down. I try to stay as positive as possible, but, I have been feeling really ‘meh’ these last two weeks and I just need to get it out there. It’s one of the reasons it’s taken me so long to get this post up. I just  I  like I’m regressing in the speed department instead of making progress, and that worries me.  I gained weight in the “off season”, and can’t seem to lose it and that frustrates me.  I look at what other people are doing in their training (which I know is a stoopid thing to do) and feel like I’m not doing enough and that scares me.  I’m tired of running in the cold and dodging ice. I want to blog more, but I don’t feel like I have anything interesting/valuable to contribute. I’m also tired of whining and being in a shitty mood so hopefully something will change soon.  Anyway. Thanks for “listening” to me complain – I hate to do it, but sometimes it’s just necessary.

Monday – You know how I roll – Rest Day!

Tuesday4 miles. I wasn’t sure what the ice situation would be in the cemetery/surrounding roads so I decided to just get it done first thing in the morning, on the treadmill. I’ve said many times before that I really feel like I’m losing my hill mojo. They’re all starting to feel hard again and I don’t like that. So instead of playing around with the speed on the treadmill, I switched up the incline. I had no idea what I was doing, so I’d pump it up to a 2 or 2.5 incline, run that for a minute or two, then lower the incline back down to a .5 . The highest I got up to was a 4%, and my legs were really feeling it by the end so I’m going to say this was a success. I finished this in 44:45 (11:04 pace).

This popped up on my screen during my run. Perfect motivation!

This popped up on my screen during my run. Perfect motivation!

Wednesday – This was supposed to be strength but when I was greeted with a 40 degrees and sunshine leaving work, I knew that I needed to run. I raced home, put on shorts (!!!) and set out for 4 miles of speed. I wasn’t planning on running, so my Garmin wasn’t charged and it shit the bed not long after I started so I was running blind. I tried to use the Outside app on my phone, but it only tracks if the screen is on. Anytime it timed out to the lock screen, it would stop tracking. I used to have a Run Keeper app, but it was nowhere to be found.  By now I had no idea how far I’d gone, and I wasn’t even sure how long I’d been running.  I figured that I started running at about 5, so at 5:45 I wrapped it up. In my mind, if I was going “fast” I would have run  at least 4.1-4.3 ish miles, and if I wasn’t going as “fast” as I thought/hoped then I probably still got about 4 miles in. So, I could have run anywhere from an 11:15 pace (I don’t think it was this slow) to a 10:27 pace (not likely). I’m going to split the difference and hope that I was in the 10:50 range. I tried to keep the intensity up, but without any data it’s so hard to say. Either way, I was just happy to be OUTSIDE and enjoying the tease of spring.  After my run, I went right to the basement to get my weights in. I didn’t want to push it to Thursday because that meant back-to-back days of strength and that’s usually frowned upon.

Thursday – Should have been 4 miles, but since I was hardcore the day before and did both workouts, I got an extra rest day and it was FABULOUS. It was also 9 degrees out, so I was really happy that I didn’t have to go out there and run in that!

Friday Strength training.  This week felt harder than last week on both days, even though it was the exact some workout with the same weights and reps yet…I wasn’t as sore the next day.  I’m not sure what’s up with that – maybe last week  I went above and beyond because I was so excited about my new plan? That or the weights I picked were too heavy, and I should have started lighter. Who knows. I got my two days in and that’s still winning in my book!

Saturday Hills. I tried to come up with a good, hilly route that wasn’t still covered under snow and ice.  I did ok. After hearing Nichole and Jennifer talk about Heart Rate Monitors I wore my HRM for the first time in….years. Except… I had no idea what the numbers meant. They obviously spiked on the hard, hilly sections and leveled out on the flat/downhill parts. I did notice that on my last mile when I was really starting to struggle I had a hard time getting it to go back down.  I feel like this is obvious, though. Of course my heart rate is going to jump  when I’m trying to chug up a hill – I’m working harder. Of course it’s going to spike when I’m struggling….that’s why I’m struggling. Either way, I did 7 miles in 1:19 (11:18 pace) which is about average for me. Overall, I felt OK…I was able to distract myself with the HRM for a good portion of the run so it went by quickly.

Hills 7 2-7

Good climb going right into mile 4!



But what’s it mean?!


SundayLong Run with Jennifer! I was so excited to have my running partner back! It was also really nice out, so I threw on some shorts. I forgot that it’s normally colder at North Park, but I was still pretty comfortable and was much happier than I would have been in pants.  We did the first 6 together, and ran the lake loop backwards which was a nice change of pace. I wore my HRM again, but I still have no idea what it means. I was also reminded why I don’t wear it – after a while it gets very uncomfortable and starts to hurt. I don’t think I’m wearing it too high…it’s about flush with my sports bra strap. I was already over it by 3 or 4 miles and I spent the rest of my run cursing that thing. I think it’s safe to say I’ll probably be leaving it at home from now on. Of course, the first 6 flew by as we chatted and we passed Shaun and Kim who were both zooming around the lake! We parted ways after 6 miles and it started to wear on me. I turned on my music to give me a little boost, and it did for a mile or two, but overall I just struggled mentally.  My paces were right on, but my mind wasn’t in the best place. It just wanted to be done! I also saw Nichole zip past me on my second loop! It was great to see so many other runners/bloggers out and about! 12 miles 2:19 (11:39 pace).

So, that was my week. On the positive side, I got all 4 of my runs in! There is soooo much to improve on – I just need to focus on one thing at a time and take it from there. There’s plenty of time left before May 3rd (81 days, but who’s counting?!), and everything will be A-OK. And because we need a smile and I didn’t have many pictures this week, here’s a few cat pictures.

I got up for a cup of tea, and when I came back...my spot was gone.

I got up for a cup of tea, and when I came back…my spot was gone.

#whereswilbur ??

#whereswilbur ??

The cats have learned how to play on the iPad and they're hooked!

The cats have learned how to play on the iPad and they’re hooked!

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!

Where’s Wilbur?

Wilbur is the youngest member of our furry family.


A few days after we brought him home (left) and now

A few days after we brought him home (left) and now

We rescued him as a stray last October, and he’s been ruling our house ever since! He went from a 1.75 pound ball of fuzz and fleas to this handsome stud practically overnight!

In true cat fashion, he is of the firm belief that if you can’t see his face or that if he can’t see you  then he is invisible. You’ll be walking past a couch, or curtains, a blanket, or door and all you see is a long, fuzzy gray tail sticking out. I’ve started capturing this and posting it to Instagram with the caption #whereswilbur ?  

They are too cute not to share – hopefully they bring a smile to your Monday!




PS – you can follow my shenanigans on Instagram here! There are plenty of cats, running, food and cats.