2017 Boston Marathon Training, Week 12: 2/27-3/5

Seriously though. It was a rough week last week. It’s getting close to the end of the 3rd marking period at school, and that sums up my thoughts lately!

Had some really weird stomach issues last week, combined with a Saturday race. Hanson’s schedules long runs every other weekend with the option of doing one every weekend if you really want, so I opted to not do an official long run this week because of the race. I’ve been doing long runs every single weekend regardless of whether they are on the schedule, with the exception of last week because of my work trip and this week due to the race. Last year, the race and the work trip fell during the same week so it wasn’t as big of a deal. Actually, it wasn’t really a big deal this year either – I didn’t do a long run. Such is life.

Monday: AM pole competition practice + abs + MYRTLs, 10 miles easy, PM pole class
Tuesday: AM pole competition practice + abs + MYRTLs, 13 miles w/4 x 1.5 miles @ marathon pace – 10 seconds per mile (goal marathon pace is 6:45-50 someday, so I shot for 6:35. All were on pace and my last one was the fastest, averaging somewhere in the 6:20s) Highlight of the workout? I did it in shorts and a sports bra. On February 28th.


Wednesday: AM 6 miles easy, Pole Flow class, Pole Competition Practice class
Thursday: AM pole competition practice + abs + MYRTLs, 4 miles easy – was planning to do 8 but had some weird stomach issue that started Wednesday night and felt crappy after one mile so called it a day at 4 miles).
Friday: AM 6 miles easy, Abs/MYRTLS, Pole Competition Practice class – was planning on taking a rest day from running but I felt better when I woke up, so I went to the gym to do the remaining 4 miles of my Thursday run. I had a pretty good playlist going on Spotify and I was actually early for once in my life so I did 6 instead. My outfit for my pole competition shipped!!! I will at least give you a glimpse of it:

It should officially be here soon!!
Saturday: Quakertown 10 Miler (14 miles total with w/u and c/d), Abs/MYRTLs, Pole Competition practice
Didn’t run a PR but this happened:

I’ll get a race report out soon! I celebrated by going to dinner with friends to a restaurant I’ve been meaning to try, Grain. I ate the best Chicken and Waffles I’ve ever had. Actually, I think it’s the only chicken and waffles I’ve ever had.

Sunday: 9 miles easy, Abs/MYRTLS, Pole Competition Practice
Had to do something, because it was my birthday and I knew I wanted to eat as much of this as possible:

My speedy friend, Cassie, is a pastry chef and she made me my cake. I loved it. She is so talented!

= 62 miles

Overall, it was a really good week. I really think I was fighting off a stomach bug or something because from Wednesday night through about Sunday, my stomach felt terrible! I’m hoping I kept it at bay and that I’m past it now.

Did you ever eat chicken and waffles? What was the best birthday cake you’ve ever had? 

♥♥♥

February: That Time I Remembered that I Actually Like Running

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I didn’t track too much of anything mileage wise in the month of February. Since I really started my training for Boston after the holidays, I can tell you that I’ve put in the miles and the effort but if you want to know mileage totals and paces…maybe stay tuned for next month. I had a rough time in January because it just felt so hard, but February was a turning point.

  1. I ran my first race since July and didn’t die.
  2. Running/training became a habit again, rather than a chore.
  3. My tempo runs started feeling less like an activity designed to inflict endless torture/frustration, and more like a solid workout.
  4. I used the treadmill entirely too much earlier in the month, but I got to finish the month running in shorts and a sports bra. In February. In Northeastern PA. Shorts. Sports bra.
  5. I got back on track with being Paleo-ish and got close to my racing weight again.

I run the Super Bowl Sunday 10K every year. this year, it fell on February 5th. I was just getting my legs back and didn’t think I could come close to the time I ran last year, which is my 10K PR. My good friend, Kathy, and her husband Darin were also running. Darin told Kathy that he wanted to beat us at the race. He even sent me a screenshot of his Strava with proof that he was averaging 6:50 pace for his own 10K time trial. I was shit talking right back, although I knew the reality of my fitness at this point. It’s a pretty hilly course, and I’m not much of a 10K runner, so I knew my PR was somewhere in the 41 minute range – only slightly faster than what he was averaging on his training runs.

My personal goal was the same as last year’s goal. Run this as a tempo run (especially good use of this race since it’s hilly and I tend to stick to flats for tempos) and average goal marathon pace, 6:45-6:50/mile. I also wanted to beat Darin, but I wasn’t willing to go out too fast and blow the workout. The race began, and I felt fantastic. I ran comfortable and relaxed, and I didn’t work too much harder than I had to. I ended up averaging 6:41/mile and running 41:34 – four seconds slower than my 10K PR. If I’d known I was that close, I would have picked it up. I’m not disappointed because I never expected to come close to a PR, let alone feel that good. Kathy finished a few seconds behind me (41:46) and Darin finished a few minutes after us 🙂 🙂 43:41! He ran a great race, but it was even better since we were able to remind him about how we beat him.

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(Darin is in black, and his twin brother, Derrek, is the one in blue!)

Since last spring ended and I got burned out, I was having trouble getting out the door to run regularly. I would find excuses not to go or to just do it another day. I kept remembering how last year it didn’t matter what the situation was – I got the run done. It was like I was on autopilot. There were weeks where my shortest run was 10 miles and I never once thought, “ugh, can I just do this another day?” Once I got back on the training horse in January, I had that thought that every single time I laced up my running shoes. The week after the 10K, that changed. I was getting ready to do a tempo run. As I headed over to the trail I use for those workouts, it dawned on me that I wasn’t thinking about the tough workout ahead, or trying to figure out a way to push it off. I finally felt like I was on autopilot again. Even yesterday, when I was leaving work and totally exhausted and had a long strength/track workout to do, I just got out of my car and did it, no hesitation. I like that feeling. I missed that feeling.

Another January/February habit I developed was using the treadmill (or should I say, overusing). I started to become a real baby about going outside. We’ve had pretty much the mildest winter of my existence, and somehow I found reasons to not run outside. We got one snowstorm, so there was that – but I always found a way to say it was too cold, too windy, too cloudy, too whatever. In January and the beginning of February, I think I ran more miles on a treadmill than I’ve ever run on a treadmill. I just went with it. If it was the thing that got me motivated to run again, great.

While I don’t like to use a treadmill often, I think I relied on it because I felt like I could control my pace and force my body into working harder than I wanted (dumb idea, I’m sure). This was especially helpful with the tempo runs. I had a rough time getting started with these. I couldn’t even touch the goal pace from last year, let alone try to go faster. I found if I used the treadmill, I would at least do it and not stop – because God forbid I accidentally reset the treadmill before it hit the one hour mark. It would be like the run never happened. This past week, not only did I do my tempo run on a different trail, but it was at a different time since I had to rearrange my schedule to accommodate a work trip. It was outside, and it was my best one yet. Ahhh, finally. I think making myself force the pace on the treadmill helped get my confidence and speed back (probably not the smartest strategy, but whatever).

I gained a few pounds over the holidays (as usual, but not as much as last year) and started to get closer to my racing weight again, which feels great. I spent a lot of time training for my upcoming pole competition (Atlantic Pole Championships in DC on 4/2!) both at the pole studio and on my home pole, but that’s all I’ll say about that for now 🙂 By the time I do a March recap, I will be able to share much more about that experience because the competition will be over! But here is a picture of my new pole in my spare bedroom (we haven’t renovated that section of the house yet so it looks a little scary):

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Other fun, non-fitness related things…I got my orchid new to bloom! I bought this little guy in July and I’ve never had any luck with orchids ever in my life:

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My husband and I cook Valentine’s dinner together every year, and this year was wonderful:

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Homemade crab cakes (I need to get that recipe out because they were freaking amazing), homemade tarter sauce, homemade mashed potatoes and seared strip steaks, asparagus, and homemade chocolate creme brulee with homemade creme anglaise. I usually do all of the cooking around our house but I love when we do a meal together, and we usually do this for Valentine’s Day. So fun.

We also finished our pantry, which is an addition off of our new kitchen! So much room for activities!!!!

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How was your month? Do you ever feel like you’re on autopilot with running?

2017 Boston Marathon Training, Week 11: 2/20-2/26

(I swear weeks 1-10 happened.)

These weekly workout posts used to get a little lengthy, so I’m going to give you the abridged version this time around since basically, I’m doing what I did last year. Except instead of a color coded spreadsheet where I have everything carefully planned and then logged post workout, I just carry my Hansons Bible around and whip it out when I can’t remember what I’m supposed to be doing. Instead of worrying about, “am I running more miles than I ran last week?” I focus on running the minimum mileage on my easy days and only tack on miles if I want to, not because I feel like I have to.

This week was GREAT because of the six times I ran, five of those times WERE IN SHORTS. OUTSIDE. I live in Northeastern PA. Is this real life? It was also good because I had Monday off of work for Presidents’ Day, but challenging because I chaperoned a three day trip to Hershey. I do this every year and I’m able to get a decent number of miles in but can’t count on getting pace specific workouts in. There’s a great trail right by the hotel that I can log some long miles on if the kiddos aren’t too needy:

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Monday – 10 miles, easy + pole competition training/core/MYRTLS
Tuesday – 14 miles, Track/Strength – 6×1 mile at marathon pace -10 seconds/mile + pole competition training/core/MYRTLS: Although I don’t think sub-3 is in the cards this season, I’ve been using about a 6:45-6:50 pace as my “marathon pace”, so the goal here was to hit 6:35-6:40 for these. I can’t remember what each mile was, but I remember that I kept them all under 6:35 (because I am a head case). I did a 3 mile warm up, 6×1 mile with 400 recoveries, and 3.5 mile cool down on the Saucon Trail. I felt pretty great until the last mile, when I really wanted the steak I had waiting for me in my fridge at home.
Wednesday – 6 miles am + core/MYRTLs & 5 miles pm, easy pace: I don’t usually do two-a-days but I ran before we left for the conference and when we got there and got settled, I had about two hours to kill so one of my co-workers and I hit up the trail for an easy run.
Thursday – 10 miles, easy
Friday – Rest day! I always schedule the final day of this conference as a rest day. Lack of sleep from chaperoning 172 kids for three days + travel day = no bueno. I did eat an entire bag of BIRTHDAY CAKE HERSHEY KISSES though! Did you guys know that was a thing? They taste like Funfetti icing and I’m pretty sure I’ve never been happier.
Saturday – 6 miles, easy + pole competition training/core/MYRTLS
Sunday – 14 miles w/8 @ marathon pace + pole competition training/core/MYRTLS: 
No long run this week so I saved my tempo run for Sunday. It was a good call. Felt great, shot for the 6:45-6:50 range. No idea what every single mile split was but I know that my slowest one was 6:51 and my fastest one was 6:27. This was the first week that my tempo run felt like it should feel. Thank GOD because I was really starting to think my legs forgot about tempo runs.

= 65 Miles 

I got some new kicks on Monday – first running shoes I’ve purchased since JULY. My shoes all but had holes worn through the soles. Partially because I was on vacation from running for so long, partially because I forgot to buy new ones, and partially because I was lost since Brooks discontinued my beloved Pure Connects. HATED the Pure Flow 5, was trudging along in the Launch for most of my runs and the Hyperion for track/tempo runs. Launch just feels like too much shoe for all of the time, and the Hyperion is a glorified racing flat so not very comfortable. BUT THEN THE PURE FLOW 6 HAPPENED.

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It was love at first run. If you were in the same predicament as me…get these on your feet yesterday. LOVE THEM.

In the world of farmhouse renovations, we are currently finishing up an addition off our kitchen that includes a laundry room, and my husband laid the tile while I was away. We went with cement tiles through a company called Lili Tile – their Instagram is ridiculous and a gorgeous addition to your feed if you like to drool over home renovations like I do. It’s not grouted yet, and literally took this after he laid the final tile so it isn’t even clean, but I can’t even handle how much I love it:

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Everything in my house is very monochromatic and plain – lots of gray and white everywhere – so choosing a pattern was huge for me. The patina of cement tile is to die for. I will take some more pictures after it is cleaned, sealed and grouted but OMG YOU GUYS.

How was your week? What shoes are you currently running in? What’s the longest you ever went without buying new running shoes?

♥ ♥ ♥

If miles were run but they weren’t blogged about, did they actually happen?

Hello!!!!!

I didn’t really know how to start this post. Just diving right in seemed kind of lame. Like oh hey guys, sooooo, this is what I did last week…and the past eight months…

Yesterday, I posted a picture of my new running kicks, and I was overwhelmed by some comments and messages I received from some of you who missed hearing from me. It truly warmed my heart and motivated me to get a post out there. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write – I have – but I just didn’t know what to say. First of all, I am really really really sorry I left you all hanging! That was pretty shitty of me.

Usually when you get radio silence from me, it’s because I’m injured and pissed off. This is not exactly the case this time. I came off of my Kentucky race on a HUGE high. I thought I was “recovering well” because I took like a week off and then started running some “easy, low, mileage”. I signed up for “just a few short distance, local races” and jumped almost immediately back into round two of Hansons in June. A month away from structured training was enough, right?

Looking back, the months that followed don’t surprise me in the slightest. I spent two years chasing a marathon PR and doing whatever I needed to do to make it happen. I suffered through countless injuries and heartbreak. I hired a coach, and then I stopped working with him when I got slower. I tried my hand at writing my own training plan before finally finding my jam with Hansons, which was an integral part of my success last year. It not only taught me to push limits and run harder than I ever have before, but it taught me to back off and understand what it truly means to run easy. This lesson alone has become invaluable to me this time around.

The catalyst for this whole hiatus was in early July. I ran the Belmar 5 Mile, and ran a PR for the distance (I had to look it up, 32:04) but I could have run it much faster. I felt outstanding, but my stupid calf cramped. If you’ve followed my blog for long enough, you’ll know that I’ve battled calf strains before and it never usually ends well. Luckily, a cramp was as far as it went physically, but it triggered some serious mental burnout.

For the first time in who knows how long, I started skipping runs. It was too hot, too hilly, too fast, too early, too late, too busy, too <insert any excuse here>. School started and I was in a wedding in the middle of September. I didn’t feel like juggling it all, so I just…didn’t.  I wasn’t logging zero mile weeks, but it was a big milestone if I racked up over 20 miles in any given week. Coming off of 85 mile weeks at the end of my previous cycle, this felt strange…and really, really nice. I didn’t miss it, even when all of my friends started posting about their fall races all over social media. I was hitting the pole studio almost every single day, so between running intermittently and frequent strength training, I felt good.

In the beginning of October, it dawned on me that I was scheduled to pace a 1:45 half marathon in early November. I spent the month of October “training” for this – running 3-5 miles a few days during the week, and a long run on the weekends. Race day came, I got the job done and had a blast. I went right back to my newfound slacker ways the next day, even though my intentions were to start ramping up my mileage in preparation for Boston training. As the weeks of minimal mileage passed by, I wondered if I would ever feel like training for a race again. The excuses to not run continued to pile up – including a bout with strep throat over Christmas week. I want to say I felt worried about my lack of running, but really I was more worried about my lack of interest in it.

But then, something happened. I still don’t know what it was. One morning, I packed my gym bag with running clothes, and somehow packed my lunch box full of healthy food, and it began. I don’t know what shifted my mentality, but since January 2nd, I’ve been “back”.

At first, it was a struggle. Every mile hurt. Every workout hurt even more. I took the focus off my pace and just focused on getting my endurance back. I started following the Hanson’s Advanced plan, but I’ve been much more casual about it. I don’t skip runs, but I’m not as neurotic as I was last year. I couldn’t tell you how many miles I ran last week – I haven’t been tallying them. I couldn’t tell you exact times from my mile repeats from last week, but last year I knew each one by heart, down to the second. I’ve been following it, taking it one day at a time. One mile at a time. One step at a time. And you know what? It seems like it’s working. I ran a 10K a few weeks ago and my time was almost exactly the same as last year (four seconds off), but I know I felt way better than I felt running that same race last year.

As far as my goal for Boston…well, of COURSE I want to nail a sub-3 marathon. Physically, my legs feel fresh and rested but my extended vacation from running left my endurance a bit shot. I mostly feel that my relaxed mentality towards my training means expecting to run a sub-3 marathon is both unrealistic and undeserved. People pour their heart, soul, sweat and tears into achieving this feat – the way I poured myself into my training last year. Physically, I am going through the motions but mentally, I haven’t been gearing up for such a big hurdle. My primary goal for Boston will be to run a PR for the course (sub 3:11), should all of the stars align that day.

So what else? In terms of our farmhouse renovations, we finished our kitchen and just finished our new pantry, and are almost finished with the laundry room. It’s been an exciting project, and having a new kitchen means I’ve been spending lots of time cooking. I’m back to my Paleo-ish ways for now, but I’ve incorporated some carbs (particularly since my recent obsession with homemade sourdough everything).

I got my very own pole for Christmas (you had to see that one coming from a mile away) and I’m currently training for the Atlantic Pole Championships. I will be competing in the “Championship Level 4 Senior Category” (apparently, being 33 is old in pole dancer years!). It’s the highest category you can compete in without competing in the professional division, which scares the absolute SHIT out of me. Compared to the little local pole-athon I participated in last year, this is a pretty big deal. My sister in laws are competing together in the doubles category. The competition is in DC on April 1-2. I compete on April 2nd! So, you know. 15 days before Boston. (What the actual fuck was I thinking.)

I probably won’t post too much on here about the competition until after it’s over because I don’t want to post too much about my routine (do you sense my competitive nature?). But I will tell you that I LOVE my song, and love what I’ve choreographed. The problem now is actually getting through the whole thing without stopping. The struggle is so real.  I am really excited, and I truly hope I can do it well because it is something that I’m really proud of and excited to share.

Sooooo…what about you guys? How are you? What are you training for?! Update me on your lives!!! I missed you!

Hansons: Post Race Thoughts & Round Two!

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I’ve had a few weeks to reflect on using Hansons and this past season as a whole. I thought about what I liked, what worked, what didn’t, and what went wrong. I’ve come up with a few theories and ideas for moving forward. If you want to read my more “heartfelt” and “in the moment” post where I talked about how I benefited from Hansons, it’s here. It was really more of a post about my last tempo run turned sappy. If you would have asked me on that day, Hansons is all about sunshine and rainbows and unicorns and smiles. In reality, it’s certainly all of that, but add blood, sweat, and tears and it’s a lot little more accurate.

At this point, Hansons is an ideal plan for me and my current ability level, especially when following the program modifications. I learned more during this training block than I ever have before, which is more valuable than any PR. I learned so much about running, but also about myself.

What I Liked

I learned that I love following a plan with structure. In the past, I’ve used other training plans, a coach, or created my own plans. I’ve always lacked some sort of structure. I never did the same thing each week for the whole training cycle. This plan is very regimented and very simple: you always have a speed workout, a tempo and a long run (or an easy run depending on the week) each week on very specific days. This made scheduling “life” around training much easier. I never felt like I had to consult my training before I made plans – I knew what each week would bring. I’d try like hell to steer clear of doing “life things” on speed and tempo days. But if something happened and I had something else going on, I knew well in advance that I needed to make other arrangements to accomodate the workout.

I found that prefer running long on Sunday. In the past, I always ran long on Saturdays because it’s what my friends did. I don’t know if it was the way the plan was structured or just how my body felt, but I felt better running long on Sunday. Changing the day of my long run meant running solo or with new friends. I was still able to meet Kathy and Mark for a few miles on Saturday when they were running long, so it was like the best of both worlds.

I liked that as I followed this structured schedule and became dedicated to it, I stopped making decisions that worked better for everyone else. I don’t mean that to sound selfish or harsh. I realized how often in past training cycles I altered the pace or timing of a run to meet up with running friends. That’s fine to do sometimes, but at some point you need to be able to do the work on your own, too.

I like to think following this plan helped me figure out the line between taking myself too seriously, and having fun with my friends. I learned that it’s important to have a healthy balance: you shouldn’t always run solo, but you shouldn’t always run with a group. When you race, most times you race alone so it’s good practice. I know that makes me sound selfish, but I spent two years chasing PRs and something had to change if I wanted to see a change in the time on the clock.

What Worked

This could probably also be filed under “what I liked”, but whatever. I’m going to say it. I liked the speed, strength, and tempo run. It’s simple: they work.

The first ten weeks are devoted to building speed, so the workouts are run at 5K pace. Track workouts – this was nothing new. The progression, however, was new to me. In the past, I always jumped right to 800s or mile repeats and hoped for the best. Usually, I would do 3-4 track workouts in my whole entire training cycle. With Hansons, you start at the very beginning with 400s. Why do 400s in marathon training? Makes zero sense to me, so I never did it before (with the exception of my 2015 fall training cycle). With Hansons, your little 400s in week one turn into mile repeats by week eight. And – bonus – do you know what happened after actually working up to mile repeats? I ran a 5K PR – because I was ready for it.

By the time I got to week 11 and Hanson’s was telling me to switch to strength workouts, I was ready for the change of pace. Between the speed and the strength workouts, the strength workouts were my favorite. The focus was marathon pace minus 10 seconds per mile, and to hold that for just enough time that you were comfortably uncomfortable. The result? I felt unstoppable. The day I did my hardest workout from the strength set – 2×3 miles – I was on top of the world. I felt like I could do anything.

Let it also be known that workouts like “10 miles at marathon pace” still scares the absolute living shit out of me. I’m not saying this was ever easy, but ohmigosh. The feeling you get when you nail a workout like that. By yourself. On a Thursday afternoon in whatever the weather throws at you. YAS. You just know that you are capable of anything when you finish something like that. I’m not sure if you can sense it, but every item I’m listing as what “worked” for me all has something in common – confidence. I felt like I could DO this.

What Didn’t Work

This plan doesn’t address hill training. I made sure to try to choose rolling hills for my terrain for my long runs when possible, but I did use some flat trails for some of them occasionally to accommodate running with a group. I’d originally planned to do my easy days on roads with rolling hills, but as the weeks progressed, I wanted to do my easy runs on flat surfaces because my legs were tired. Sometimes, I was able to stick to the roads and incorporate a variety of terrain but most days I headed somewhere flat.

Most of my next training cycle is going to happen over the summer, when I have more flexibility in my schedule. The days are longer, and I’m not working since I’m a teacher. I’m able to go wherever I need to for my runs, so my goal is to try to stick to the track for my speed work, trails for strength workouts and tempo runs, and roads for my easy days. I’m not going to do hill repeats, but I will run hills. One day per week, I want to start running the hill by my house again – Honeysuckle Road. I’ve talked about that before, but I haven’t done it since the beginning of my fall training cycle. I haven’t done as a regular, weekly workout since 2014. This was an old picture from one of the last times I blogged about it:

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What Went Wrong

I wasn’t sure why I didn’t have it at Boston (other than the heat, I truly didn’t feel amazing) and have spent some time considering what factors to attribute that performance to. I don’t know many people who ran the race they trained for that day, so I could blame it on the heat and move on. I want to learn from this experience, so I need to be honest and consider other factors.

Did I go out too fast? Was it really just the heat? Was it the duration of the Hanson’s taper? Was it the races I incorporated throughout my training? Was I fighting off a cold? I blogged that in the beginning of marathon week, I had a weird spot in my throat that felt sore but it went away by the middle of the week. The morning of the race, I woke up with a headache but just chalked it up to nerves. If the outcome of my race had anything to do with illness, there isn’t much more I could have done. I was diligent about sleeping, taking vitamins and walked around with a Clorox wipe in hand the whole week.

Part of what went wrong was absolutely my pacing. Technically, I trained for a 7:03. If you go back and look at my tempo runs, my average for the tempo miles was always just under seven minute pace. I would bet if I went back and averaged them all out from the entire cycle, they would average out to be 6:57. In Kentucky, when I started at a more appropriate pace, I ran a 6:57 pace for the marathon. I think part of what happened in Boston had to do with my excitement over my training, resulting in me going out just a touch too fast. If the weather had been a bit better and I felt 100% (assuming I just didn’t feel great in general), it’s possible I would have gotten closer to a PR that day. But I didn’t train for sub-3, and all of the stars are going to have to align for that to happen even when I do train for it.

I was talking to Megan on our run this weekend and we discussed all of these factors. She’s brutally honest with me, has broken three hours many times, qualified for the Olympic Trials, and has been a coach. Neither of us think I raced too much during this cycle, but she believes the timing of my final race was my biggest error. While I had a great day at the Kutztown Fool’s Run, she thinks it was too close to Boston. She didn’t think my taper was too short, but did think the final race was a big part of what went wrong in Boston, and I agree.

So putting aside the heat and the possibility that maybe I wasn’t feeling 100%, the timing of my races and my pacing on race day were my biggest issues. Moving forward, the lesson here is to run the pace I trained for from the beginning, and to stop adding tune up races to my schedule about a month out.

Moving Forward

Every weekly update I did throughout my spring training began with my marathon goal and my training paces. I began to consider what I want that to look like for fall. I realize the reality of the races I chose: a hot race in October (Southernmost in Key West) and a hilly one in November (Madison, WI) may not be conducive to running a PR or sub-3. I’m not going to let those factors dictate my goal for the race or scare me away. I will take the conditions of those races into consideration as I train for them – add races this summer to practice racing in the heat, add hills to get ready for hillier courses, etc – but I’m not going to back down. If there’s one thing I learned as I’m conquering this 50 state goal: there’s always going to be weird weather and a hill you didn’t know about if you’re choosing to run in unfamiliar territory. I’m not being cocky and saying I’m not scared of it. I’m acknowledging that there may be some challenges on race day and I’m willing to give it my all anyway.

I’m going to be modifying the schedule the same way I did before to make sure I peak in the 80s again. I’d like to see if I can peak closer to 90, but I’m taking things one day at a time. One mile at a time. The only area I never messed with last time around was the sacred Wednesday rest day. The program modifications chapter does, in fact, state that you can add easy miles on your rest day if you’re trying to run more volume. I don’t want to run 7 days/week for 18 weeks, but I’m considering it for every other week in this round of training. I planning very short distances (2-4 miles) at recovery pace to see how my body responds.

Training for Key West begins the week of June 6th. Here’s a sneak peek of what my weekly workout post will look like… 🙂

Marathon Goal –  2:57 (that looks really really scary on here)
Marathon Pace/Tempo Runs –  6:45/mile
Recovery Runs – 8:45/mile
Aerobic A/Easy – 7:45/mile
Aerobic B/Easy – 8:25/mile
Long Run: 7:23

I was debating between 2:55 and 3:00 for my goal. Using Hanson’s online pace calculator, the improvement calculator, and the Hanson’s community page on Facebook, I came up with the 2:57. Luke Humphrey himself voiced his opinion and said 2:57 should be what I should aim for. This would be something like a 2.5% improvement in my current marathon time. The improvement calculator explains it like this: “Highly trained athletes should look for improvements in the 2-4% range, while newer runners can often expect slightly higher rates of initial improvements.” I believe 2.5% improvement is a reasonable goal.

I improved my marathon PR by almost five minutes this past spring. Running a 2:57 would be another five minute improvement. However, I hadn’t touched that time since 2014 and had been hovering in the 3:12 range on my best days over the past two years, so it was almost like a 10 minute improvement. I don’t think shaving 10 minutes off of a 3:02 is a wise goal, and five minutes is still extremely aggressive. My expectation is to train at 2:57 pace and hope to come in under three hours. At any rate, it’s certainly going to make it an interesting summer!

Recovery, Week 1: 5/2-5/8

This will probably be the most boring weekly workout recap ever, but I’ll do it anyway. I decided to push it off until today because I was excited to share my pole routine with you yesterday. That probably more interesting than a bunch of rest days.

I took a solid 24 hours after Boston and let myself have at it – eat all of the food, watch all of the TV, be as inactive as possible – but then, it was back to active recovery and tapering for my magical Kentucky marathon. But I promised myself a break – a break from diet, a break from running, a break from structure – post Kentucky. I bargained with myself in the last 10K of the marathon. If my legs would just hold on a little bit longer, I would give them some quality down time. I was ready to run by Monday or Tuesday, but I refrained. It rained every single day last week, and I wasn’t in the mood to fight with the elements when I didn’t have to.

A big part of why I chose to log couch time instead of miles had to do with my resting heart rate. Over the past year, I’ve been wearing a Fitbit. I mostly use it to track activity and calorie burn. Over this training cycle, I got really into monitoring my resting heart rate. Before all of my Hansons training, my resting heart rate hovered around 50-55 bpm average. Once my training kicked in, it lowered significantly – all the way down to 41 bpm. I found that I operated well if I could keep my resting heart rate around 41-45 bpm. After Boston, it stayed consistent and everything was fine. After Kentucky, it shot up to 50 bpm. It hadn’t been that high since January. No matter how good my legs felt, it was time for a rest. I don’t want to start my next round of training “overtrained” – I want to feel fresh. I decided not to lace up my running shoes again until my resting heart rate dipped below 50.

After my old PR in Charlevoix in 2014, I took a week off of running but cross trained like crazy. I never actually rested. My first run back was an aggressively paced eight mile run that left me in tears. It ended abruptly before I hit mile five with a serious calf strain. This past fall, I trained hard and ran Hartford. I felt decent enough afterwards, so I continued to run easy all week. That would’ve been fine, except I got the brilliant idea to race the Runner’s World Half Marathon the following weekend. I thought that since I didn’t PR at Hartford, I must have had some gas left in the tank. Guess what happened at mile three of that race? A calf strain that resulted in the end of my season. I still “ran” the rest of my races, but it got really ugly. So this week, I embraced rest.

Following the fall and over the holidays, I was certain I lost every ounce of fitness I gained over the past two years. I took a solid 30 days off of running and gained a bunch of weight. It was split up – not 30 consecutive days – but it felt super shitty to return to running. Except once I got my legs back under me, I felt great. There is no question that losing a little fitness and recovering is beneficial. I don’t want to take 30 days off again, and I don’t want to feel super shitty on my return to running. I also don’t want to gain a bunch of weight. It isn’t reasonable to stay at racing weight 100% of the time, so moderation is key. My goal this time around is to take one day off or easy for every mile I raced in Kentucky. So as of today, nine days down and 17 to go. I started running this week, but it’s all short and easy.

To kick off my recovery, I did whatever I felt like doing last week. If I wanted to eat brownies for dinner, then I ate brownies for dinner. If I wanted to park my ass on the couch and binge watch bad TV, fine. It was glorious, but I’m ready to add some miles to my schedule and get back into a routine.

I don’t have any new running or pole pictures to share with you, so here is a delicious mascarpone martini I had on Saturday after I performed my pole routine. I never get fancy drinks but mascarpone? YAS.image

I know I posted my Kentucky finish line picture basically everywhere, I thought the way I got it was pretty cool. I was sitting on my couch on Tuesday night, and an email popped up:

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I thought that since the image was part of my image gallery from the race, it came up as my invitation to view my photos. Until my friend Jenny posted this same screenshot on Facebook a few minutes after and tagged me in it, saying “look what I got in my e-mail!” I was excited.

I suppose I should also share my week of “workouts” with you, since that was the point of my post:

  • Monday: Core/Pole Fitness
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: Pole Fitness
  • Thursday: Pole Fitness
  • Friday: Pole Fitness
  • Saturday: Pole Fitness
  • Sunday: Rest

I threw the towel in with core work and strength training since I’d been extremely diligent about doing it every single day since February 1st. I’m back on that train this week. I meant to get out and bike, but it was nasty and rainy and I didn’t feel like riding my trainer…so I didn’t!

♥ Run: 0 ♥  

How was your week? How do you recover at the end of each season?

Goodbye April, Hello Recovery!

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  1. Total run miles for April: 207
  2. Miles run, year to date: 1000.3
  3. Number of races in April: 5 (wtf)
  4. Longest run in April: 26.42 miles (too much weaving in Boston)
  5. Highest volume week in April: 58.1 miles

My mileage was almost 100 miles less in April due to tapering, racing and recovering. I was excited that I crested the 200 mile mark at all, and I’m on track to meet my goal of 2,500 miles for the year. I need to be at 1,250 in June. I expect to have a low volume month for May, but to start increasing mileage again in June. My mileage wasn’t as high in April as it was the over the past few months, but this month might go down as my best month of racing ever. I raced (or paced) every single weekend during this month. It began with winning a 10 mile road race, and ended with winning a marathon. I don’t think I could ever top that.

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Just like the past few months, I can truly say that each and every mile brought me a lot of joy. There were a lot of huge breakthroughs for me this month. The biggest breakthrough was running a marathon PR: a target I kept shooting for, but missed for the past two years.

While it goes down as one of the best months ever, April was a funny month for running. We had everything from snowy winter weather, to almost summer temps. The first week, I ran a 10 mile road race in the pouring rain. It was a minute off of my PR from March, but I won the race and ran on effort. It was a huge confidence boost just a few weeks out from Boston. The following week was spent pacing a half marathon in a snowstorm. It was my first time ever pacing the 1:40 group and I was nervous with the weather conditions, but it went really well and I enjoyed pacing that time. When Boston finally rolled around, it was way too warm. It resulted in a course PR, but still not the 3:05 goal I’d set for myself.

The Sunday following Boston, I paced the St. Luke’s half marathon. The weather was ideal, and I got to pace the 1:45 group. I really enjoyed pacing 1:40, but 1:45 is my favorite time to pace. St. Luke’s was my first ever race, so it makes me happy to be able to pace it and give back to the running community.

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I spent the week after St. Luke’s running easy miles in preparation of my final marathon of the season. I’m not going to lie – I felt a little burned out and was ready for some recovery. I didn’t look at my calendar closely enough when I was committing to these events and didn’t realize how close they all were to each other.

It was a rainy day in Kentucky, but I finally did it. After two years of trying everything I could possibly think of and failing, I broke my PR. I ran a 3:02:19 at the Kentucky Derby Marathon, and I was the first overall female! It was one of my most favorite days to be a runner, ever. Not just because winning a marathon felt pretty freaking cool. I poured my everything into training for the past two years and I finally had my day. I am still on such a high from that moment.

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With the racing/tapering/carb loading, I gained about two pounds back of the 13 I’d lost. I anticipated gaining a few pounds back over these past few weeks, and I felt really good racing at the weight I got down to. I also realized how much better I feel when I eat a certain way. I really love junk food, but over the past few months I’ve learned that I might like feeling better more. It’s a lot easier for me to have a cheat day, but get right back on track the next day. Moving forward through my recovery, I will certainly be more relaxed about my diet but I plan to continue my eating habits. It’s not even really a question anymore – it’s become my lifestyle. That was my ultimate goal from the start of that conquest.

Moving into May, I plan on still running easy miles but I’m giving myself some “rules”. Nothing over 10 miles, and no speed. Maybe I’ll pick up the pace towards the end of the month to get my legs moving, but there will be no track workouts or pace specific work until June. I’d like to get back on some real trails to do some trail running, and I’m eyeing up a trail race in late May. Mostly, I don’t want my focus to be on running. I want to spend a lot of time in the pole studio and work on strength. My pole competition is on May 21st, so I have the rest of this month to prepare for it.

In the pole world, I didn’t learn many new moves since I’m still preparing for the competition. Busting up my big toe right before Boston scared me a lot little, so I’ve been a little more intimidated of pole class. And rightfully so – it is a dangerous sport, and while I’ve benefited so much from building up that kind of strength, I also have to be mindful of the consequences. I’m not planning to back off or stop doing it, but I don’t have quite the fearless attitude I’ve had since I began the sport.

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I continued my ❤️ StrongBody Streak through April, but I did take a few days off surrounding Boston and Kentucky. I can see a huge difference with just a little bit of strength training. Although I plan to be relaxed with running throughout May, I will be focusing on strength training. Without racing, I can do actual “leg” days with weights and build some additional strength and balance.

Moving forward to May, I have a few goals – but mostly recovery goals!

  • Strength training – stick with my 15 minutes each day. Keep the emphasis on core/hips/glutes, but really pay some extra attention to legs now that my mileage and intensity will ease up.
  • Diet: Keep up the healthy eating, and cook every single recipe in this:
    imageCook’s Illustrated is my most favorite cooking resource. Their cookbooks are like textbooks. They don’t cater to any diet or lifestyle, so if I wanted to make a “paleo” version of their recipes, I end up tweaking it on my own. They came out with a magazine full of 73 Paleo recipes, and I almost passed out from excitement when I saw it at the checkout line in the grocery store. The authors realize that there are different definitions of Paleo, so they designed the recipes by adhering to the most strict paleo guidelines they could find. It might take me the whole summer, but I want to cook my way through it, cover to cover.
  • Pole Fitness: Compete in my first pole competition!
  • Cross Training: I want to get on my bike and get to some yoga classes this month. Maybe, if I get really motivated, I’ll get back in the pool.
  • Instagram some more fun pictures as the weather gets nicer!

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How was your month? Any goals for May?