Hartford Marathon Training, Week 9: 8/34-8/30

This past week was my first week back to school, but it was just Monday-Thursday and only the teachers went back. My days were full of in-service meetings and classroom preparations. Every four weeks, I have a “recovery week”. My last one was in week 4, and it was perfectly timed that my next recovery week would coincide with my first week back to work. Last week I hit 67 miles (my highest yet), so I cut down by about 25% to 50 miles. Mostly, I swapped recovery runs for cross training. I kept the key workouts – a tempo run, a mid-week medium long run, and a long run. I’d been running 6-7 days per week, so I also made sure to reduce the number of days I was running to give my muscles a chance to repair themselves.

I’m usually terrible at recovery weeks when I’m in charge of my own training. Normally, I schedule a recovery week and end up going running more than I’d planned. This time, I made myself stick to it. It’s the one thing I told my former coach I needed to learn how to do. I still never really learned how to do it since I spent much of last year injured. When I started from scratch after not running the way I’d hoped at Grandma’s, recovery needed to be a focus of this training block. Last time a recovery week was in the plans (four weeks ago), it worked out that I had a wedding, a summer cold, serious blisters from Quadzilla, and a severe case of poison oak. I really had no choice but to cut back that week regardless, simply based on my level of discomfort. So since I began this round of training, I’ve had two successful recovery weeks scheduled and completed. With recovery in mind, my goals for the week were:

  • Pacing: Hit the tempo run and the long run hard, relax for the recovery run and mid-week medium long run.
  • Terrain: Varied. Flatter for the tempo and the mid week medium long run, but anything goes for the recovery and long run.
  • Cross-Training: I wanted at least one swim and bike in there, and pole classes as often as possible since once the real school days hit, it won’t be easy to get there. Strength 1-2 times, yoga and core everyday if possible.

Monday, 8/24 – 5 Mile Recovery Run + Core/Yin Yoga+ Pole Fit

Mostly a day of “meh” here. I felt okay running (certainly not great) , though it was the day after my first 20 miler so it makes sense. I didn’t have to be at work until 8:30am, so I got in my run, core, and a quick 20 minute yin session that isn’t worth mentioning (tried a new video, didn’t love it). It was also rough times at pole class, which was a few hours after my work day ended. I think it was just a cumulative fatigue thing. My body was tired from the long run the day before and from being at work for the first time in months! I did do a few fun poses that I never did before. These two look much harder than they actually are. On the left is “Bow and Arrow” and the right is “Fang”:

Tuesday, 8/25 –  Core/Yin Yoga + 10 Mile Tempo Run w/5 Miles @ 15K- Half Marathon Pace

I had great intentions of waking up and doing this run at 5am. The problem was that I don’t live on the best road for more than about a 5-6 mile run. It’s a busy road. I had an appointment after school with my sister-in-law (she’s a stylist, had to at least make an attempt to get myself looking presentable for when the kiddos return) and I wasn’t sure how long it would take. I got up, it was dark and I wasn’t feeling running on the trail in the dark (and thank God because there were several bear sightings near that trail all week long!). I resolved that no matter the time, I would go after my appointment. I did some core and a new yin video – the instructor is a little annoying but I loved the postures (I just muted her and had some music playing instead).

Yin Yoga: Deep Stretches for flexibility, meditation and a peaceful mind with Yogi Nora

After work, I ended up at my sister in laws until 645pm. Eeeeeeek. I headed to the trail where I like to do my tempo runs and realized I didn’t have my headlamp. Double eeeek. Almost turned around and went home but it was SO gorgeous out. I decided to start the run and see how far I could get before it seemed like I should turn back. I’m so glad I did! I had an excellent run, even though the last two miles were in almost complete darkness. I knew as I neared the turn around at the halfway point that the run back would be pretty dark.

I had trouble seeing and couldn’t get my backlight to stay on my Garmin (and I wasn’t willing to stop and risk losing precious daylight just for that), so I was one second off of negative splitting my tempo miles. First tempo mile was a bit conservative because I was a little concerned about holding that pace for five miles, but once I got moving it felt as good as a tempo run could really feel. I warmed up for four miles, ran five at tempo, and cooled down for one. I felt like I could keep going at the end of the run and really was happy I did it, even in the dark! I held 7:50s for the first five miles and my cool down mile, and my five tempo miles were 6:56, 6:51, 6:47, 6:41, 6:42. Overall pace, 7:21!

Wednesday, 8/26 – 2100 Meter Swim  + Core + Pole Fitness

Didn’t have to be at work until 8 am so I hit the pool at my gym around 5 am for a short, easy 2100 meter swim to loosen up my legs. I had enough time to squeeze in a core workout before having to get ready and go to work. After work, I went to pole class with my sister in laws. I learned a new pose called Dragon Tail, which was pretty tough:


And then I somehow ended up getting the pose I started working on last week, the Ayesha! It’s super tough and still a work in progress. It definitely needs some work before I can say I’ve mastered it, but I got off the pole and into the right position – it’s super scary!

Thursday, 8/27 – Yin Yoga + 15 Mile Medium Long Run w/10×100 meter sprints

Woke up early and did a nice yin practice before having to be at work by 7am. We had to be in at our normal contract time but had the day to spend in our classrooms getting ourselves ready. I went with one of my tried and true videos:

Yin Yoga for Runners – Hips and Hamstrings

And that’s where my nice day ended. I went to work and finished the day at normal time (2:35) and headed to the Saucon Trail. I was debating whether I should run flat or on roads. Thank GOD I chose the trail – my reasoning was that I had the successful tempo on Tuesday and a long run scheduled for the weekend, and I should take it easy on my legs since this is technically a recovery week. I felt good all day long, but the second I began running, it was like my legs didn’t get the memo that we were doing this today. It was a huge shit show from start to finish. It felt like I never ran a day in my life and I was riding the struggle bus right out of the gates.

In the first mile, I was still pretty close to my car and really wanted to quit. I made myself keep going to see if I just needed to warm up. Around mile three, I began my intervals – I decided I’d do one per mile over 10 miles and then take the last few miles easy. Ha. I did each interval, but who knows what kind of pace I was holding for the “sprint”. It felt like I was running through mud the entire time – I just felt so off. My stomach felt TERRIBLE by the third mile, so the entire 15 mile run was spent debating which was worse: feeling like shit in general, or feeling like I might shit my pants at any moment. Yeah, it was that good.

I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. While I was running, I was worried that I was coming down with something. All week at work, one of my coworkers was really sick with a nasty cold and she kept hanging around me! I love her, but I HATE that. The last thing I want is to catch a cold before the first day of school, and before my upcoming races. Another possibility was that until this week, I haven’t run in the afternoon since the spring. Here I was working a whole day and then going for a 15 mile run. But my tempo run was good earlier this week, so who knows. I came home, showered and sat on my couch for a good two hours before I could even eat anything.

I thought back to my nutrition for the day and I think that could have been a problem. I ate a homemade coconut flour waffle for breakfast, and I had a nectarine and one of those yogurt tubes (like for little kids, except it’s the Siggis brand so it’s healthy!) for a snack. I had a Chicken Cobb Avocado salad with no cheese from Panera for lunch, and a Quest bar as a snack pre run. I did drink water, but probably not enough. I brought no fuel on the run, but that isn’t too out of the ordinary – I usually only fuel on my Saturday long run. So it could have been the week catching up with me, the nutrition, or a combination. Either way, it was tough. My pace was still good – I averaged 8:13 for the run – so that’s in my general aerobic/long run zone. Either way, just doing the run is a win because it was a mental struggle the whole time, and those are the runs that make you tough.

Little side note – there was a bear spotted off of Flint Hill Road, which intersects with the trail I was running on and someone on Facebook snapped a picture:

imageThat was taken on Tuesday, when I was on the trail for the tempo run. Our local news station said he was spotted on Thursday in Lower Saucon Township (also near the trail) and he ate a goat! He’s big! Apparently he ran out on the golf course that the trail also runs through. I didn’t see him myself…this time…

Friday, 8/28Pole Fitness + Power Abs

Since the kids don’t start until Monday, I was off and had one more day to enjoy the summer (really, I was just running around doing all of the things I said I would do all summer long!). I knew I had a long run on tap for Saturday and had a bad run the day before, so I slept in, and went to pole class. My friend and I also stayed for the one hour power abs class after pole fitness.

Saturday, 8/29 –  20 Mile Long Run

I was terrified of this run because of how badly I felt on Thursday. Even though I took it easy on Friday, I was really tired all day and worried about the run. To add stress to the situation, I was planning to meet and run with Kathy. She texted me later in the day on Friday and told me that Chris G., one of the speediest local runners in our area, wanted to join us. I think he ran Boston in 2:49 or something this past year. I wanted to go with them and run, but after the run I had on Thursday, I wasn’t sure what I should do. I was in bed early and up at the crack of dawn. I ate some breakfast and headed out to meet the crew, even though I wasn’t so sure how good of an idea it was. Chris had to be done pretty early and had started already, and had four miles in the bank. We began running, and I felt decent. We chatted and ran all over hilly Bethlehem, including parts of the Runner’s World Half Marathon course since both of them are running the race this year. Before I knew it, we were halfway through the run and I was feeling great. The only thing that was off was my stomach – that was a bit upset (wtf??? That was part of my problem on Thursday!), but I was really enjoying the run. We overshot the distance a little so poor Chris, who banked four miles, ended up running over 21 miles, oops! We dropped him at his car and Kathy and I ran out the last 2.7 miles on the towpath. The whole run was so even paced, with just a few weird splits here and there:

Overall pace, 7:22. I was ecstatic! My stomach was really jacked up after and I spent a good amount of time on my couch that day and then running errands. I had good intentions of stretching and doing abs, but I felt gross. I’m not complaining. Kids are back on Monday so I don’t mind some extra relaxing!

Sunday, 8/30 – 23 Mile Bike Ride + Core/Strength/PT

I didn’t have a run on the schedule so I didn’t have to worry about waking up early to beat the heat so I didn’t set an alarm. It was wonderful. When I finally got moving, I could pick between a swim and a bike ride and decided on the bike ride. I don’t ride as much once fall hits, and I hadn’t been on my bike since the Steelman Tri a few weeks ago. It was the right choice. It took me a really long time to warm up and I never really pushed the pace, but it felt so nice to be out. I headed to the gym and did just over an hour of strength/PT/core. I spent the rest of the day having a marathon cooking session in my kitchen. When school is in session, I like to spend some time on the weekend prepping my food for the week so I can spend less time doing it during the week and still eat healthy. I prepped my lunch (just plain chicken and plain sweet potatoes – boring but hopefully easy on my stomach for afternoon running), and made three dinners for the week: a Paleo Shepard Pie, Paleo Stuffed Peppers, and a Spinach/Mushroom Lasagna (definitely not Paleo), and coconut flour waffles for breakfast. If all else fails, I won’t go hungry this week!

Swim:  2100 meters ♥ Bike: 23 miles ♥  Run: 50 miles

How was your week? Do you prepare meals in advance to make your life easier during the work week? What are your favorite go-to, easy meals? Give me some ideas for the next few weeks!

What I’m Working Out to Wednesday

Leave a Trace


Chvches (pronounced “churches”) has a new album coming out! It’s not out yet but their new single was released. At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it…but like every other song of theirs, I’m HOOKED! While still in the indie genre, they are a little different than some of the other stuff I’ve posted lately. They’re a Scottish electronic band with a female lead singer, Lauren Mayberry. Their first EP was released in early 2013 (Recover), and their first album (The Bones of What You Believe) followed it a few months later. I was absolutely obsessed with the song (I still am!), The Mother We Share. I might even like it more than the song I’m really featuring today, but their new song deserves a shout out. Recover is another excellent hit of theirs to check out. They also had a song featured on the Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I that I love, Dead Air. Their new album, Every Open Eye, should be out in September – the release date is set for September 25. I can’t wait for the rest of the album!

Any good new music on your radar this week?

Hartford Marathon Training, Week 8: 8/17-8/23

My last week of freedom before the start of the 2015-2016 school year! Last Sunday, I ran the ridiculously hilly Perk Up Half Marathon. Though it went well, I was a little fearful for the effect it would have on my upcoming week. I didn’t want to taper or recover from it, which I realize sounds stupid and stubborn. I had one more week of climbing in mileage to get through and I didn’t want to slack – next week is a recovery week! I kept telling myself that everyday. After considering the past three weeks (two consecutive weekends of racing, a week of running on total hills while vacationing at Babcock Lake, and my highest mileage weeks of my training yet), I had the following goals for the week.

  • Pacing: For any runs that were to be recovery or aerobic, keep them on the slow side. For my speed workouts, start all intervals on the slower end of the prescribed range and progress from there. Recover for the 20 miler and use up whatever my legs had left. When my mileage was lower, it was easy to be on the faster end of these ranges. If I want to run all of the miles, I need to really embrace the easy running philosophy.
  • Terrain: Although I need to be more regular about running hills, I wanted to keep the majority of my week flat so I could get the miles in, but hit the roads and some hills for the 20 mile run.
  • Cross-Training: Since I’ll really miss the freedom of going to pole class whenever I want, I made pole my cross-training priority. I planned to try to stick with the yin yoga after harder workouts, and abs as often as possible. Minimal to no biking because of the mileage jump, but possibly getting in the pool to swim once (but the pool was closed this week for it’s annual maintenance). Mostly, I wanted to run and do pole to enjoy my last week of freedom.

Monday, 8/17 – 5 Mile Recovery Run + Pole Fit + Strength/Core/PT +Yin Yoga

I really wanted to get a longer run in today, but I knew it was dumb and asking for an injury to do anything more than a recovery run. I headed to the Plainfield trail and actually felt decent, though my quads were still feeling a bit like Jell-O. Overall pace, 8:36.

Headed to pole class but felt tired in general and didn’t accomplish much, and then off to the gym to lift some weights and do my PT. I also did some speed drills and MYRTLs and an ab circuit with weights. When I came home, I knew I needed a good stretch for my quads so I went back to this yin yoga video:

Yin Yoga – Hips and Thigh

You don’t need props to do these poses and can use whatever you have laying around the house (pillows from your couch, foam rollers, etc). I happen to have a lot of props since I teach yoga (I haven’t actually taught in about a year) and took full advantage of them today:

imageTuesday, 8/18 –  15 Mile Medium Long Run + Pole Fitness + Core/Yin Yoga

Still not feeling recovered but also not feeling terrible, I headed out for my second longest run of the week with the intention of keeping the pace on the easier side of my general aerobic range (7:14-8:14). I was able to negative split the run, with the first half being in the 8:00-8:10 range and the second half being in the 7:50 range. Final mile was a fast finish mile, and my overall pace was 8:01.

Headed to pole class and made some progress on a few poses but nothing too significant. When I got home, I did my MYRTLs and a quick 15 minute ab circuit. My sister-in-law came over to sit by the pool for the afternoon and soak up the last few days of relaxation before I go back to work, and we did some yin yoga to stretch:

Yin Yoga for Runners – Hips and Hamstrings

Wednesday, 8/19Specific Endurance Intervals (20×400) + Strength/PT + Pole Fitness + Yin Yoga

I wasn’t sure how this workout was going to go because it was 88% humidity and HOT outside. I knew from the previous week that the Lehigh athletes get the the track around 8am, and I didn’t want to interfere but really wanted to run as early as I could to avoid the strong afternoon sun. I got there a little after 6am, as the sun was rising:

imageThe workout was to warm up for 2-3 miles, and then do 2x(10×400) – 1 minute recovery between each 400, and then a full recovery between sets. So 10, recover, 10 more for a total of 20. The workout called for 5K to 10K pace. I used the McMillian calculator and used their prescribed times for 400s but took 5K-10K pace into consideration (that’s a little slower) since I was doing so many repeats and came up with 1:25-1:35 as my range for each 400. I was pouring sweat by the end of my first warm-up mile and drained my whole water bottle by the third mile – and I was still in my warm up (found a water fountain that I didn’t know existed though, SCORE!). My first set of repeats went by fairly quickly, and I walked each of my 1 minute recoveries. The air was SO THICK! I also walked a 400 after the first set since the workout said to ensure a full active recovery between sets. The second set was definitely more difficult, but I was able to stay consistent and within my goal range:

Set #1 (10×400): 1:31, 1:29, 1:29, 1:28, 1:28, 1:27, 1:29, 1:29, 1:29, 1:30
Set #2 (10×400): 1:31, 1:29, 1:29, 1:28, 1:29, 1:31, 1:29, 1:29, 1:30, 1:30

I was happy I was able to keep them all in my goal range since I was doing so many of them. The most I’ve ever done for 400s was 12×400, and that was in the late spring. I did a three warm up and a two mile cool down at a recovery pace, I walked the each recovery – including one full 400 around the track. I didn’t stop my watch for any of it – the whole workout was 12 miles and with the warm up, cool down, 400s, recovery walks, it was a 9:06 pace. The intervals are the focus of this workout, not overall pace.

Did my drills and MYRTLs at the track, then headed to the gym and spent an hour doing some upper body, core, and PT exercises. At pole that night, I finally was able to get into a “French Press” – I was having trouble grabbing my foot for the past week and wanted to get it so badly!

imageI also did a loooonnngggg yin yoga practice after dinner while watching some TV and it felt GREAT!

Yin for the Neck, Shoulders, Back and Hips

Thursday, 8/205 Mile Recovery Run + Pole Fitness

As the week was winding down, I still had two tough run workouts on the schedule after this recovery run, so I went nice and easy on the run and headed to pole class. No abs, no yoga, no lifting, no extras. Just enjoyed an easy run around Lehigh Parkway (overall pace, 8:52) and started working on some new moves at pole. One pose I began working on is called an Ayesha- it’s really impressive but so hard. It might be a little while until I have some good pictures of that one!

Friday, 8/2110 Mile Tempo Run w/4 Miles @ 15K-Half Marathon Pace + Pole Fitness

I was happy with how this run went, especially considering the weather. I ran pretty early because once again, the weather was showing 93% humidity. I didn’t know the humidity would drop as the day went on and I wanted to get it done before pole class at 9:15am. I was out running super early – and in the humidity, of course. I kept the pace easy for the first 5 miles, hit my tempo miles and cooled down for a mile. I like to try to push the tempo miles off until later in the run so I can do them on tired legs. My tempo miles progressed from half marathon pace to 15K pace: 6:57, 6:52, 6:44, 6:38. Overall pace, 7:34. I cooled down for a mile, and headed right to pole, and that was it for the day. I wanted to enjoy the rest of my day since work is starting on Monday!

Saturday, 8/22 –  REST!

First actual rest day since 6/22! I thought I might try to get to the gym for a swim, but I was content with sleeping IN (well, 8am) and spending the morning running errands with my husband and the afternoon at my brother in law’s house, who had a tye-dye party. So much fun! I knew I still had a 20 miler on tap for Sunday and this was my highest mileage week yet. I want to make it through my recovery week next week and get into the 70 mile weeks so I figured that finally, I would rest!

Sunday, 8/23 – 20 Mile Run + Core + Yin Yoga

Met Mark and Kathy for our long run. We haven’t gotten together for a long run since before school ended, and the weather was AWESOME. Perfect temps. We had a great run and the miles flew by – overall pace was 7:38! We also had a fast finish mile – 7:12. Came home and my sister in laws came over and we did abs and yin yoga poolside.

Yin Yoga for a Deep Stretch

It was a great day, and a great summer! Back to work on Monday!

Swim:  0 meters ♥ Bike: 0 miles ♥  Run: 67 miles

As the mileage has gotten higher, I’m finding it harder for me to find the time and motivation to add in the swimming and the biking. I’m going to really have to prioritize next week as school starts up, especially since I want to continue going to the pole studio. I really like swimming before work, so I know as school begins I will get in the pool more often. As the miles climb, I’m keeping the focus on running and adding in a second workout of cross training in when I have the time and energy. As for now, I have a reduced mileage week coming up next week, and it’s coming at a good time! I’m ready for a little break to let my legs absorb everything I did in the past four weeks.

How was your week? Any good workouts on the schedule for next week? Do you take recovery weeks in your training cycle?

Race Recap: Perk Up Half Marathon

imageAnother race that I signed up for that was out of my comfort zone, and I’d say it was a success! I considered not wearing a watch at all because this was not about pace…but I really wanted the Garmin data for the elevation. I went into this knowing that my chances for a PR were slim. The last time I actually raced a half marathon was in 2010, so my PR was a 1:35:25 and five years old. I thought I was capable of a PR, but the course was a wild card. I’d seen the elevation from MapMyRun, and it was ugly. That was part of the draw with this race. It was hillier than pretty much anything I’ve ever run (aside from Quadzilla) and I thought it would be a good training run. One local runner that’s a bit faster than me has won this half in the past with about a 1:31, and another girl that is similar in pace to me has run this race in 1:37. I figured if I could end up somewhere between 1:35-1:40, it would be a good indicator of how my training was going.

I chose not to taper for this race and ran on tired legs. It was a week after my triathlon, it wasn’t my long run (I did 18 earlier in the week), and it was the end of my highest mileage week yet (63 miles). I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

Pre-Race/Packet Pick-up

The race offered race day pickup and I only live 30 minutes from the start, so it was a treat to sleep until almost 5:30 on the day of a race. I made some coffee, threw my stuff in the car and hit the road by a little after 6am. I ate breakfast on the road. I got there and had my stuff before 7am, and the race start was 8am. I had some time to kill so I hung out in my car and hydrated. As it neared closer to 8am, I got out of my car and headed to the starting line.

The Start

I lined up towards the front, and there were two other women lined up near me. One of the girls was a bit younger (22) and was pretty nervous/excited. She was from London, here for some sort of camp over at Lehigh University and was a 10K runner.  She asked me what I was shooting for, and I said hopefully something from 1:35-1:40. She said she was looking to run a 1:20, but this was her first half and she heard it was pretty hilly. Before we knew it, the gun went off and we were running.

Miles 1-5

As we begin the race, I found myself up front with the two other women from the start. One dropped off immediately and I never saw her again. Around the first mile, the 10K runner from London dropped me. I watched her go and normally would try to catch her, but I know that I’m in no shape to run a 1:20. It’s not even a goal that’s in my vocabulary right now. I’m glad she told me that was her goal so I didn’t follow her.

imageI knew the majority of the hills were going to be from miles 4-11. If you look at the picture above, the first real incline begins exactly at mile 4, they just keep coming after that. While it’s my goal to negative split my races (usually unsuccessfully – but it’s the thought that counts, right?), my goal was to make a conscious effort to do the opposite. I wanted to go out comfortably aggressive – at half marathon pace – and hold on until the hills so I could re-evaluate. I didn’t think I could hold onto half marathon pace once I hit the hills, so I was planning to relax and just run whatever felt comfortable. Once I hit the final downhill in mile 11, I hoped to run it in with everything I had left – maybe make up some time. I just didn’t know how bad that middle section was so I had no idea what to even try to plan for.

I took my first GU just before the first climb. The hill at mile 4 was the first of the big, long climbs and my pace suffered a little bit. I saw the London chick in the distance and I seemed to be gaining on her, but I refused to chase her. I was running my race, and if winning was in the cards today I needed to do it at my pace, not hers. My splits were 6:43, 6:39, 6:50, 7:11, 6:51. Other than the first climb, the sub 7 minute miles felt comfortable and doable. I was in second place, running my own race and I felt strong, comfortable and confident. I haven’t felt that good in a long time. Even the climb at mile 4 was tough, but I was still able to clock a decently aggressive pace for that mile.

Miles 6-10

I was feeling pretty confident after the climb at mile 4. I didn’t realize that the climb at mile 4 wasn’t the big one, so I thought the worst was over. HA! I hit that massive mountain and got a reality check – but I kept running. I passed men walking, but I wasn’t about to walk. Even if I was running at barely moving pace, I would keep running. It was on this steep ascent that I passed the London chick and took first place  – she was really struggling. I didn’t know if she wasn’t used to the hills, went out too fast, or what the problem was but I just put my head down and kept running. I cruised at the top and tried to run the downhill hard, but not so hard that it burned out my quads. My pace was all over the place during this section and nowhere near my goal half marathon pace, just as I’d anticipated. It didn’t bother me because I felt great, was running on effort, and had taken the lead.

I found myself running almost completely alone. I took my second GU around mile 8.5 to help me push through the final miles. I could see two men in the distance up ahead, and one guy who kept passing me and then walking the hills where I’d pass him. The course was no joke, and it was almost completely in the sun. It was a hot day with 88% humidity, which didn’t make this difficult course any easier. My splits for these miles were 8:00 (that was the biggest climb), 7:23 (the rest of the steep climb), 6:56, 7:18, 7:30. Just when I thought I would make up some time, I’d hit another steep climb. By the last climb at mile 11, my legs felt like Jell-O. Wobbly and unsteady. I knew the last two miles were going to be about survival.

Miles 11-13.1

Mile 11 meant the last significant climb, and then I knew I had a steep descent and rolling hills with a net uphill through the finish. I was hoping to be able to resume half marathon pace for the last mile or two, but my quads were shot so I did whatever I could manage. I was thinking a lot about a 12 miler I ran at Babcock Lake two weeks ago and thanking myself for doing it, because though my quads were tired, I wasn’t tired. My energy level was good and everything else felt great (all things considering), so hopefully I’ll feel that good for my goal half marathon.

I was holding on to first place, and I had no idea how close 2nd place was to me. Once again, I put my head down and ran as hard as my trashed quads would allow. I turned a corner and could see the finish line and the crowd in the distance. As the finish came into view, I could see the clock. I crossed at 1:34:05 (7:11 pace) and it was good enough to be the 1st female and 7th overall finisher. It’s also a PR by 1:20 seconds! I am still so stoked! My splits for the end of the race: 7:50 (the final climb), 7:16, 7:23 and 6:20 for the last .1.

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 9.08.55 PMI came through the finish and once I chugged some water, a few of the guys who finished around the same time as me came over to say congratulations. One guy mentioned that he runs the race every year and he finds the course to be consistently around seven minutes slower than the other half marathons he’s run that year. Seven minutes sounds a bit excessive, but I could absolutely see how this is NOT a PR course! I did set a PR here but honestly, part of that was definitely due to the fact that I haven’t raced this distance in a long time. I wouldn’t expect another PR here if I choose to run the race next year.

London chick’s name was Steph, and she finished about 3 minutes behind me for 2nd place. She came through the finish, came over to me and we gave each other sweaty hugs even though we’d only exchanged a few words at the start. After surviving that course, I feel like we are all one big family. Everyone was so friendly and supportive and it was such a great dynamic. Steph told me that she went out around her 10K pace and thought she could hold on. Made sense, because I passed her around mile 6. A few minutes later, my friend Jory came through the finish. She ran 1:46 and won her age group!

Every finisher got a medal, and I received a trophy and some random gift cards (Applebees and Road ID) as my prize:

I’m beyond happy that I decided to run this race and I would absolutely sign up again next year. It was hot, sunny and hilly as HELL but such a good challenge. It gave me an awesome confidence booster for my upcoming fall races.

Ever add a challenging course to your race schedule to test your fitness?

What I’m Working Out to Wednesday

Catfish And The Bottlemen

20131107-131103.jpgSo this song is on my shuffle and I do love to run to it, but I am LOVING this entire album! I’ve been playing through the whole thing non-stop in my car and have no desire to change it up yet.

The Balcony is the first studio album by this fun, upbeat Welsh rock band. It was released on September 12, 2014 in the United Kingdom. Honestly, I have no idea when it came to the USA but I’m so glad it found it’s way here, and to my iPod. These guys are great, and the song is pretty awesome but the whole album really kicks ass. Check it out!! I promise to share something other than indie rock sometime SOON but there is just too much good stuff out there right now!!

Any good new music on your radar this week?

Hartford Marathon Training: Week 7, 8/10-8/16

After coming home from Babcock Lake and competing in the Steelman Triathlon last Sunday, I took a look at what I had planned for this week. I thought it would be a good idea to run a half marathon the week after Steelman – in theory, it’s a great idea. But it meant another week of front-loading miles if I didn’t want to taper for it – which I definitely didn’t. This was not my goal half marathon and is extremely hilly, so I was using it as a hard training run and went into the run with no pace expectations. With all of this in mind, my goals for the week were:

  • Pacing: Keep pace on all runs slow and easy – everything on the slower end of the prescribed pace range
  • Terrain: Since I ran hills all last week and had a hilly half coming up, run some flats to let my legs recover
  • Cross-Training: Minimal biking and swimming since the triathlon is over – would be unnecessary fatigue this week

As for the cross training, I am not giving up on biking and swimming by any means. With the way my week was panning out, I didn’t want to bike towards the end of the week since it was close to the race and tends to tire out my legs. After my disastrous swim at the tri, I wasn’t too excited to get in the pool anyway.

Monday, 8/10 – 18 Mile Long Run + Yin Yoga/Core

I woke up with the intention of doing my long run but not sure how it would go. It was rainy and dreary, and I was a little sore from the triathlon the previous day. Somehow I got myself motivated to leave the house and I drove to a flat trail in the area. All I did was run hills the previous week so I figured I might as well enjoy the flats while recovering. It was an uneventful run – once I warmed up, I felt tired and had no drive to push myself to run harder, but I felt good considering what I did the day before. It was my goal to be on the slower side of my McMillian long run pace range, which is 7:18-8:33. While this was not my fastest long run to date, it was successful. Overall, I ran the second half much faster than the first half so it was somewhat of a progression. I say somewhat because every single mile was not a perfect progression, but overall I was slower in the beginning (8+ minutes per mile) and faster on the second half (under 8 minute miles). I also was able to manage a fast finish mile at a 7:24 pace. Overall pace for the run, 8:09. After the previous week and the tri the day before with a 10K PR, I was more than happy with this run and how it unfolded.

Normally, I’d head to the gym and lift or do an hour on my bike but I went home and did drills, MYRTLs, abs, and yin yoga. I figured if I wasn’t able to take the day off because of the upcoming half marathon, I would at least cut out any extra, unnecessary cross training. I posted this link in my yoga post last week, but this was the stretch I did post run:

Yin Yoga for Hips

Tuesday, 8/11 –  6 Mile Recovery Run + Pole Fitness + Strength/Core + Yin Yoga

Enter the fatigue. NOW I was feeling tired and sore for SURE! I was happy for the delayed onset since I already got my long run done the day before. I went to the Plainfield trail for another flat run, and kept it in my recovery range (8:20-9:01). It felt really hard, but I figured the past week weeks were going to catch up with me at some point. Overall pace, 8:50. Easy means easy.

Pole class was rough and I didn’t accomplish much of anything, so I headed to the gym. I changed a few things up with my lifting routine this week. As my weekly run mileage continues to climb, I’m not feeling as motivated to go and do the current full body routine that I do. Between arms, legs, abs, and the PT exercises I do, it takes upwards of two hours. As the new school year approaches, I know I won’t have that kind of time (or motivation) while running long miles. I use my Nike Training Club app for abs pretty often, so I turned to their full body workouts. I completed a 30 minute speed drill session – Zoom Fast – with all kinds of speed drills for runners and a 30 minute full body routine. I liked it, and I’m going to keep playing around with the app and still incorporate my current routine every so often to keep it fresh. I finished up the day with this yin yoga session (also one I posted last week):

Yin Yoga for Hips and Thighs

Wednesday, 8/12Ladder Interval Workout + Recovery Run + Core + Pole Fitness

I didn’t know I was running the upcoming half when I planned my schedule out, but I couldn’t have picked a more perfect track workout for the week. I modified the warm up and cool down to shorten the workout and accommodate the recovery run (it was the day I ran with David Willey at Runner’s World) but the actual interval work itself went exactly as planned. It’s a shorter track workout and it comes from my Run Faster From the 5K to the Marathon book. It’s a shorter track workout that I’ve always really enjoyed. It’s a warm up, then your intervals are 1, 2, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3 minutes at 3K-10K pace with equal duration active recoveries. I ran a mile to warm up, and then my interval paces were as follows:

  • 1 minute – 6:10 pace
  • 2 minute – 5:54 pace
  • 3 minute – 5:50 pace
  • 2 minute – 5:41 pace
  • 1 minute – 5:26 pace
  • 2 minute – 5:54 pace
  • 3 minute – 5:55 pace

I know they were short distances, but I never had so many intervals under a 6 minute pace in my life – and they didn’t feel awful! Since these are short intervals (3 minutes is about an 800 for me, and there were only two of those), I told myself to run “comfortably hard”. I expected to be closer to 10K pace (my shiny new 6:16/mile PR!), but was pleasantly surprised that faster felt comfortable. The only reason I didn’t have a fast finish was because I was using the track at Lehigh University, and one of the sports teams showed up and started doing something right at the end. They didn’t kick me off, but for the last two intervals I used the other half of the track and just ran back and forth for a 200 meter stretch until the interval was over. It was hard to get my pace faster since I had to keep turning around, but I didn’t care. I didn’t want to be in the way and I’m so fortunate to live so close to a track that is open to the public, and I would never want to jeopardize that.

I did run my warm up and cooldown super slow, and I walked my recoveries so my overall pace for the run was 8:45. It’s all about the intervals. I did drills, MYRTLs, and core at home while waiting for Kathy to come pick me up and head over to Runner’s World. I didn’t know how far we were going to run when we went to Runner’s World, but I’d assumed anywhere from 3-7 miles. I’d hoped to be around 4 miles, we did 5. Perfect. You can read all about my day at Runner’s World and our run here. Overall pace, 8:30. We unintentionally did this run as a progression run, starting around a 9 minute pace and our final mile being a 7:32, meaning we also managed a fast finish!

That night, I joined my friends at pole class. I expected to feel pretty jacked up and accomplish nothing, but we we worked on a pose called Sea Monkey and I was able to get both variations of it:

Thursday, 8/1312 Mile Medium Long Run + Strength/Core + Yin Yoga

I had zero desire to do this run. I was so angry about it for some reason. I already decided early in the week that I would keep this run on the slower side of my general aerobic range (7:14-8:14) but I still didn’t want to do it. I considered skipping it – I mean, I could really justify making this week a recovery week with the way I beat myself up the past two weeks and the upcoming half marathon. I resolved to go to the same trail I ran on Monday and just start running – maybe cut it short but not completely skip it. Once I got started, I won’t say I felt awesome by any means, but it wasn’t really bad until the last three miles. I was ready to be DONE. I had run out and back on one section of the trail and was approaching my car around mile 10 and it literally took every single fiber of my being not to run to my car and drive home. I sucked it up and finished with a fast finish mile, 7:27. Overall pace was 8:01. Right where I wanted to be, but it was absolute torture.

I headed to the gym and did drills, MYRTLs, a quick Nike Circuit for arms, and abs. I headed over to my massage therapist for a MUCH needed massage. I don’t get to go very often, but I really needed it this week. I didn’t care about the upcoming half – I told her to get in there and fix me! Usually, if I go to her pre-race it’s more of a gentle massage to flush everything out. Since I wasn’t tapering for this race, I didn’t want her to treat the massage as a pre-race massage. It felt glorious.

Later that night, I did a 45 minute yin yoga practice. Might be my favorite one yet:

Yin Yoga for a Deep Stretch

Friday, 8/142300 Meter Swim + Strength/Core + Yin Yoga

I slept in and was tempted to take a rest day, but I only have one more week left to enjoy the summer so when I finally felt like moving, I headed to the gym. Felt surprisingly good in the pool, and did a Nike circuit plus abs and physical therapy. Headed home and did two yin yoga sessions since my legs were still feeling pretty jacked up:

1 Hour Full Class
Yoga for Runners – Getting into the IT band (not Yin, I just really like this instructor’s classes and decided to check it out – plus it’s only 16 minutes long!)

Saturday, 8/8 – 4 Mile Run + Abs + Yin Yoga

I slept in and woke up whenever my body felt ready and made some Paleo waffles for breakfast!  Met Emily at the Parkway for an easy shakeout run. We walked about a half mile before and after starting the run, which was really nice – especially since I took the day off of running the day before. We kept the pace comfortable and easy, 8:36. After our run, we headed back to my house to sit by my pool and do some abs and yin yoga (another link I’ve shared before):

Yin Yoga for Runners – Hips and Hamstrings

Sunday, 8/9 – Perk Up Half Marathon + Yin Yoga

Race report coming soon…spoiler alert:


And then this, which was much needed:

Yin Yoga for a Deep Stretch (same one from earlier this week)…with lots of props to ease into deep stretches:


Lots of long/slow miles, some speed/races, and yoga this week! I’m glad I raced Steelman and Perk Up, but I’m glad I don’t have any other races on the schedule until September. I need a few weeks where I don’t have to organize my workouts to accommodate a race so I can also do some real speed work, and run some marathon paced miles on my long run. Overall, I’m happy with the way things went this week and my miles are steadily creeping up!

Swim:  2300 meters ♥ Bike: 0 miles ♥  Run: 63 miles

How was your week? Run any races? Good long runs to tell me about?

Yin Yoga and the Endurance Athlete

Something I’ve struggled with over the past two years is my yoga practice. When I began this blog, it was supposed to be a platform for me to chronicle not only my running, but my Ashtanga yoga practice. There was a time when Ashtanga was my primary focus, and running was just a thing I did on the side. I used to practice Ashtanga yoga six days per week, and sometimes my practice could take upwards of three hours. In 2013, trying to be an Ashtangi and a runner nearly broke me. I was practicing the third series, also known as Advanced A, and could do some seriously crazy (but cool) shit. I could put my leg behind my head and do things that most people would think are seemingly impossible. I have some really cool videos of it, but I still can’t figure out how to get them on here unless I put them on YouTube. Sometimes I watch them and can’t believe I’m watching the same person.

Three days before running the tragic 2013 Boston Marathon, I was practicing yoga with my teacher, David Garrigues, at his shala – the Ashtanga Yoga School of Philadelphia (aka AYS). I had a weird ache in my groin area, but I went ahead to run and finish Boston (before the bombs) anyway. My leg hurt the whole time, and I was limping badly for days after. Fast forward to a doctor’s appointment a week later…I ran Boston on a fractured femur. It was the femoral shaft, not the neck so it actually wasn’t the worst recovery ever – I was back to running in four short weeks. I was training for a marathon in Alaska at the time, so I needed to keep my endurance up. I’d booked the whole vacation around this marathon and going to Alaska is NOT cheap, so not running was not an option. With the whole 50 state goal thing, it would mean I would have to go back to Alaska if I didn’t run it. This was about the time my yoga practice took a backseat to my running.

Around this time, I began increasing my cross training and started having less and less time for yoga. I struggled to keep up my intense practice, and by summer had abandoned my third series practice and just stuck with primary and second series. By fall, I was lucky if I got on my mat once per week. In 2014, I almost boycotted yoga altogether because suddenly I went from a 3:30-40 marathoner to a 3:06 marathoner with the goal of breaking three hours. After some research and discussions with medical professionals, I was certain my yoga practice was what was holding me back from getting faster. But halfway through 2014 and after months of zero yoga, I started with  muscular/soft tissue injuries that were never a problem when I was on my yoga mat regularly. A hamstring strain, plantar fasciitis, a calf strain, and Achilles tendonitis. It was clear that my body was rebelling, and I was pretty sure it had a lot to do with my lack of stretching and yoga.

So I returned to my mat, and tried to pick up my Ashtanga practice again. Just primary series, nothing crazy. But ashtanga is an extremely intense workout. A devoted ashtangi could practice regularly and use it as their sole form of exercise. If you are really into it and embrace the lifestyle, you’ll be extremely fit just from this practice alone. I can attest to this – I actually was my thinnest when I was a devoted ashtangi – close to being just around 100lbs – and every single person who took it just as seriously was very similar. You need to be very light to be able to put yourself in a lot of those postures, and my teacher was not afraid to come over when you were struggling with a posture and grab onto part of your body and say “You can’t do that because you need to lose this”. As awful as that sounds, he was usually right. Once you are really in the ashtanga mindset, it truly is enough.

So here I was, trying once again to do it all. And once again, I stopped practicing because it was just too much. I was too tired from running. I didn’t have enough time. I was too tight to get into postures that used to come easily to me. The reasons and excuses were endless. As the summer began, I really didn’t want to struggle with my Achilles anymore so in a moment of desperation, I Googled “Yoga for Runners”. A bunch of Yin Yoga videos came up. Yin…I forgot about that. When I was in the height of my practice, one of my fellow ashtangis used to take and teach yin classes because they would enhance her practice and help athletes. I even went to a few of them because I remember how good it felt. I changed my search terms to “Yin Yoga for Runners” and found a whole host of videos. I’m proud to say that I’ve been practicing 5-6 times per week again. But this time around, my practice doesn’t make me break a sweat. Not one drop. Sometimes it’s 20 minutes, other times its 90 minutes. I look forward to my practice every single day.

So what’s yin yoga? It’s a practice that focuses on holding postures for an extended period of time. It’s focus is to release muscles and connective tissue during the practice. An article on Competitor.com that I came across while researching the topic says it best:

For endurance athletes, Chung advocates yin yoga — the feminine, calming counterpart to more masculine, on-the-go, high intensity yang movements like running. Yin yoga focuses on the lower body, with a lot of work in the hips, Chung said, and because of the mellow, slow and focused approach, can be surprisingly intense and restorative. Maintaining poses for five minutes or longer has a dramatic effect on the tight, sore and often inflamed muscles, tissues, fascia and joints that runners have.

Holding a pose for more than 72 seconds has an amazing ability to restore and rebuild connective tissue and the skeleton as well,” Chung explained. “Runners, cyclists and triathletes use their bodies in precise ways; they use the same muscles to do the same things. Yoga can bring awareness to the actions you’re placing on the body and, aside from the biceps, we hit just about every muscle.”

Yes, yes, and yes. This is exactly what I need in my life! I even have a book that I bought years ago by Sage Roundtree about running and athletes and using restorative yoga as a tool. As a certified RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher), I already have some great ideas for some sequences based on my own needs that I want to try to post. Until then, I’ve had some luck with some videos that are already out there and I want to share. I keep my mat in my living room and end up watching TV while I practice because it can be quite boring if you are fidgety and impatient like me. I’m hoping over time I can train myself to sit in postures for minutes at a time without a distraction, but it helps with the intensity and to take my mind off of the stretch. Here are some that I’ve done and enjoyed:

I have a few more on my list to try, so I’ll keep posting classes that I try and like for anyone who is interested! Will I ever take up an intense Ashtanga practice again? I can say pretty confidently that I will, but it won’t be while I’m trying to break three hours in a marathon. I can still pull out a few Ashtanga tricks on a good day…like when I was at the lake last week:

imageSomeday, when I need a break from running I will turn to it again…but for now, I think I’ll stick with the Yin.

Ever try Yin Yoga? How about Ashtanga? Do you include yoga in your training?