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

img_9887

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.

img_9616

(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):

img_9732

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:

img_9800

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

img_9788

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!!!!

img_9914

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:

snapseed

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.

img_0049

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:

img_9982

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!

Lehigh Valley Poleathon 2016

I’ve refrained from writing about this because while I had a great time, this event was very poorly executed and like nothing I’ve ever participated in. I’m usually pretty positive, and I typically try to find a silver lining in everything and point out the positives. There has been a lot of negativity surrounding the competition SINCE the competition, so I’m not really sure how to talk about it. I’m not a negative person and I don’t want to come off that way, but this is not an event I would recommend to anyone. The scoring got very messed up for certain people (not me) and it resulted in a huge disaster with a lot of hurt feelings. There was also a lot of drama leading up to the competition – not with my friends/studio, with the studio that hosted the competition. I am not going to get into the details, but it got ugly.

Besides the fact that I got to watch almost every single person perform, I found the people I met that day to be really interesting. You had everyone from teachers (not just me – there was woman who was a middle school teacher) to strippers participating in the event. I truly enjoyed those aspects of the competition.

There were seven girls in the championship category and I took 4th place! I was pretty happy considering the people who beat me were a pole studio owner, someone who was a serious dancer/gymnast, and my friend, Aimee who has been doing this for years.

We arrived at the venue (The Roxy Theatre) at 9:30am. After checking in, we had the rest of the time to relax, get ready, and warm up. I headed down to the dressing rooms and did both my make up and my friend, Keri’s. I had gotten my hair done by my sister in law that morning so I didn’t have to mess with that. We got things squared away with the DJ (he deleted the whole music file by accident, so there was also that issue) and spent the morning stretching and getting ready. I was strangely calm and really didn’t feel concerned, even though I heard they had sold 100+ tickets for the event. The first two categories to perform were Amateur and Masters. I watched a few of the Amateur category from the back of the theatre before heading back to the dressing room to warm up.

I wanted to watch the Master’s category because I knew several people in the event, so I watched from the wings of the stage. I hadn’t been backstage anywhere since my high school drama club days, and it was really exciting. I still wasn’t nervous yet, but I was pretty excited. I was the first one in the Championship category to perform, and that category was immediately after the Master’s group.

As the last person finished their performance, I was standing in the wings and started to get nervous. For some reason, there was a really long break between the Master’s and Championship categories, and I began to worry that something was wrong with my music. I just wanted to get out there and do it already – I’d been choreographing and rehearsing this routine since January. I was more excited to share it with the audience and the judges. Finally, my name was announced and I headed on stage.

It felt so much like I was back at my high school getting ready to a show, except I felt much more naked – ha! I had on a pair of booty shorts that covers more than most, and a sports bra that I felt confident would be fine (it actually only arrived the night before). The lights were bright and just like my old drama club days, you could only see the first few rows of spectators. I took my position and when the music began, the routine just came like muscle memory.

Overall, it went unbelievably well. It wasn’t my best performance of the piece that I’d done, but it honestly went better than anything I could have hoped for. There were three areas that I wished went a bit more smoothly: right in the beginning, one of my first tricks when I climb the pole – it just looked choppy. Before I got off of the static pole and transitioned to the spin pole, I slipped in the last move that I did. I wanted to hold it for a few beats, but I didn’t. Lastly, when I stood up from my backbend, I was more forceful than I’d hoped and it looks sloppy. Other than that, I was pretty happy and I’m proud to share it with you:

If you’d like to see any of the other performances, here are a few:

1st Place Championship Division, Rachel Skye (owns her own studio)
3rd Place Championship Division, MiCole Sechler (gymnast/dancer)
1st Place Masters, Jess (a friend from my studio!)

Based on the general organization of the event and the outcome of the scoring, I would not participate in this event again. However, I would absolutely participate in a pole competition again! I still don’t consider myself graceful or to be much of a dancer but I had a lot of fun trying. I learned so much, got pretty strong and had a lot of fun with the other girls from my studio that participated. Also, I got to perform on a stage pole, which is quite different from the rigged poles at our studio.

Have you ever competed in anything other than a running event?

 

Recovery Week 4: 5/23-5/29

You guys, I am going to do some serious writing, commenting and catching up this week. Last week was unbelievably busy. At work, it’s the end of the school year and I teach mixed grade levels. So figuring out who is supposed to be taking my final, reviewing for my final, cleaning out their locker, and whatever else needs to happen at the end of the year made my brain hurt a little. At home, we opened our pool and pretty much finished our kitchen. We spent the weekend moving our stuff in and then to top it off, we had a BBQ on Sunday. WHEW. I owe you guys race recaps, pole competition recaps, end of the month recaps, music (I MISSED LAST WEEK and I have SO MANY NEW BEATS FOR YOU!!), food conquests, etc. I will get my shit together.

Monday: Rest

Wasn’t supposed to be a rest day but we voted on our new teacher contract and I was at school pretty late. I got out too late to make it to pole class. It was a long, emotional day so I just went with it. “Going with it” included going out for dinner and getting fries. I needed them.

Tuesday: 6 Miles + Pole Fitness

I wanted to do some intervals like the week before but was pretty drained from the day before, so I opted for an easy run and pole class. It’s recovery right now, and part of what I want to embrace is just doing whatever I want. I ran easy on the Plainfield trail, and I felt great:

image

I also went to pole and worked on a few new combos and old stuff I neglected during competition prep.

Wednesday:Core/Strength/MYRTLs + Pole Fitness

Did my core work and had plans to run after work. Drove to Plainfield, changed my clothes, got out of the car and got right back in. I sat in the air conditioning until pole class. Yep. It was so hot and humid. So…NOPE! Pole was great and I had fun working on some combos I found on Instagram that day.

Thursday: 8 Miles w/45 seconds @ “5K” pace 

I tried something new. I got up at a god awful early morning hour and drove my ass to Saucon Park before work. I had to have enough time to drive there, do my run, drive home and shower and then go to work. I accomplished all of this and was in the car by 6:35am. I did, however, do my make up en route to work. Since it gets light so early, this worked out pretty well and I’ve decided that for the remainder of the school year I’m going to run before work…even if my alarm clock and makes me want to vomit when I set it. I like it SO MUCH BETTER.

Last week, I did some 30 second intervals so I thought I would do a similar workout but bump the time up to 45 seconds. My first track workout for Hansons is the week of 6/13 and it’s 400s. I think my goal for 400s is 1:28 (? I have to actually look it up, I’m just throwing a number out there) so you can see where I’m going with these little pickups. Anyway, I just went on the roads of Saucon – rolling hills – in lieu of a actually going to a track. This is not meant to be a formal workout, just reminding my legs that hey, we do have work to do soon.

My goal was to do 12 pickups at “5K” pace. I use “5K” loosely because I know what Hanson’s says my 5K pace should be for my marathon goal (5:47-5:57), but I also know what my last 5K pace actually was (6:03/mile). Still too many numbers for my “recovery” season, so I just picked up the pace and looked at the numbers later. My pace for each 45 second interval:

  • 5:37, 5:45, 5:54, 5:50, 5:50, 5:54, 5:43, 5:54, 5:54, 6:08, 5:47, 5:40

Not sure what happened with the one that was “off pace” but I felt really good on this workout. I had fun with it and thought 45 seconds at this pace was pretty reasonable.

After work, we opened up the pool and I threw my husband in, which was really fun until we realized his phone was in his pocket. WHOOPS. It was hot and the water was 55 degrees, so even after the phone debacle we went for a swim.

image

Friday: 6 Miles Easy + Core/MYRTLs + Pole Fitness

Did my new get up super early and run before work routine and it was GREAT. I ran at Lehigh Parkway and had a fabulous run. I did some core work over my lunch period and then headed to pole after work. I FINALLY got my Iron X! NOT the most flattering picture but OMG I was SO PUMPED!! I did it twice in a row and held it for a pretty long time both times. Sooooo excited!

image

Also, we learned this pretty variation of a Sneaky V:

image

Saturday: Coopersburg 5K ( 2ish mile warm up and cool down, 7 total miles)

I’ll recap this one soon but let me tell you – I was sucking WIND on this one! Ha! It was a really fun morning, despite it being one of the hilliest 5Ks I’ve ever done.

image

Sunday: 10 Miles, Hills! + Core/MYRTLs

I live at the base of a pretty steep mountain, so I decided this was the week I would start incorporating some elevation. My pace was slow, but this was my run:

image

The end of the run was pretty nice. I want to try running that one in reverse at some point. It was a great course and I plan on doing something like this every single week. I did my MYRTLs and a quick core workout before having a bunch of people over for a Memorial Day BBQ.

I sucked at core and strength this week, but overall I had a good week. I’m really happy with how recovery is going but I’m looking forward to building up some speed again soon – Hansons Round 2 begins again in a few weeks and I am pretty excited for it!

♥ Run: 37 Miles ♥  

How was your week? 

Hansons: Post Race Thoughts & Round Two!

hansons
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:

honeysuckle

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!