Monday, August 31, 2009

A View of the Finish

This weekend I went out with some fellow runners that I hooked up with on the Runner's World forums. I had my first (and only scheduled) 20 miler ahead of me. The group was meeting up at the St Paul Cathedral and carpooling over to Lake Calhoun to run the last 20 miles of the Twin Cities Marathon route. Since I am no where close to most of their speeds, me and one other runner decided to meet up at Lake Calhoun about an hour earlier and get a head start on the group.

We started out together until we made it to Lake Harriet, where I stopped off for a minute. We ended up meeting back up around Lake Nokomis and ran together until past Minnehaha Park. Unfortunately, around Nokomis we missed the turn to get back on Minnehaha Parkway and ended up adding about 1.5 miles to our run!

Around mile 15, I was still feeling pretty good and strong, so I decided to pick up the speed a little - the rest of the run I was on my own. I was able to keep up a pretty decent pace for a couple miles and then I hit the hills! Why would anyone put these hills this close to the end of a marathon? I walked up a couple steep hills with the hopes of keeping some energy for the infamous Summit hill.

Finally, I turned onto Summit and started the long gradual climb. The hill here didn't bother me, the worst part was stopping at the legs wanted to either keep going or stop - not this stop and go stuff! It was so hard to take that first step after each time I had to stop. Somewhere along here my Garmin informed me that I hit the 20 mile mark...but the Cathedral was not yet in sight. I think mentally I started to stop here - I was out for a 20 mile run, not 21.5 after all. I felt really good though at the 20 mi mark (well, considering I had just run 20 miles that is) and had maintained an average 11:15 pace, which I was very happy with.

That is about when I hit the point where Summit turns...and gets steep! I did quite a bit of walking up that hill. For some reason I got a stitch in my side (that never happens) but I pushed through until I came over the a wonderful view!! As you top the hill you pass the St Paul Cathedral, which itself is great sight, and the Capital building is right in front of you with downtown St Paul spread out to the right - it is a great view...but what makes it even better is knowing that the finish line is right in front of the Capital only a few traffic lights ahead (about a quarter mile) and it is downhill from here! I will say right now...this is probably where I will start crying on Marathon Sunday. After 21 miles mostly by myself I got a little emotional...I can just imagine doing that surrounded by lots of other runners and knowing that I was about to finish my first marathon!! ONLY FIVE WEEKS TO GO!!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

I'm gonna blame the rain...

I woke up to my alarm Sunday morning - same as usual. I knew it was suppose to rain, so I looked outside before I started getting rain, just a little wet. So, I grabbed a PBJ sandwich which I ate while playing on the internet for a few minutes. I put my running clothes on and started getting all my gear organized. Then I went downstairs to clean up a little bit before heading out and what did I hear? A sudden downpour outside! I went to check it out and during the short time that I was looking out the window I saw three lightning flashes. So...I went back to bed.

I woke up again to the sound of the kids wanting out of their cribs. "Up, up, up. Up, up, up." you get the point. I looked outside and the rain had stopped but it still looked horrible outside. I ate a giant muffin and debated going out for my run...eventually I decided I should just do it! So, I finished getting everything belt, garmin, gels, visor, mp3, chilled water & choc milk for the drive home...and headed out to the lakes. Yeah, I know I said I was going to try to avoid the lakes, but I figured that way I wouldn't end up 9 miles from the car if it started downpouring again.

The run started a little tough. My legs felt heavy and the muffin felt like a brick in my stomach. I headed around Cedar Lake first. Normally I could make it around fine without stopping/walking (it is about 4 miles around) but this time I struggled a little and walked a few times. I stopped back at my car at 4 miles and took my first gel then headed toward Lake Calhoun. By the time I made it about halfway around Calhoun the clouds were pretty much gone and the sun was beating down on me. I thought the threat of rain had passed, so I went on to Lake Harriett. At this point my knee was starting to bother me a bit, but it was kinda off and on. I stopped for a potty break and a gel while at Harriett (around mile 9). I was actually feeling better and thinking that I would actually make it through the run.

Then I started back toward the car again around the other side of Calhoun. Sometime along here the dark grey clouds returned, this time with a whole lot of wind! I was preparing myself for the oncoming deluge. I stopped again for a potty/stretching/water refill break at Calhoun before heading back to Lake of the Isles.

About a half mile around LOTI my stomach suddenly started doing flips and I had to walk. I had two choices...I could hope that this would pass and continue the 2 miles around the lake, or I could turn back and make it the half mile back to the port-o-john...I went with option 2. Afterwards, I turned toward the car (only about a half mile away at this point) and decided to call it a day. I made it 13 miles. Very disappointing.

But, I am gonna blame the rain. If it wasn't for the rain, I wouldn't have gone back to sleep and ended up eating that muffin when I got back up. I also wouldn't have been so miserable in the humidity. Plus, I would have already finished my run by then...instead of being a couple hours later. Yep, it was definately the rain's fault.

So, looking at my schedule...I had a 13 miler planned for next week, followed by a 20 miler on the 29th. I don't want to be too tired for my 20 miler, but I don't want to jump from a 15.5 to a 20 either. I think I am going to attempt the 18 miler next weekend then take it a little easier during the week before my 20 miler to make sure my legs get some rest.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Week 11 - Still In Progress

Recap of the week's training (so far):

Monday - Scheduled rest day - rode the bike at the gym for 5 easy miles.
Tuesday - 5.7 mi easy - I had a little trouble keeping it slow at the beginning, maybe it was all that fast running last week? The first 2 mi were about 10:00 pace and by the end I was struggling to keep the pace under 11:00.
Wednesday - Floater rest day - I was just too tired to get out of bed in the morning. I was exhausted all day long.
Thursday - 8 mi easy - I was still pretty exhausted, though not as bad as yesterday. I felt ok until about 6 miles into the run when my stomach cramped up on me. I had to walk much of the last 2 miles back to the gym. I tried out my new hydration belt today - much better than the previous one, but still something to get used to. I only had 2 bottles on it and it felt kinda heavy. I am thinking for the marathon I will just carry one bottle and the pouch and rely on the water stops for most of my hydration.
Friday - 4 mi easy - I finally felt a little less tired this morning. I ran the 4 miles on the treadmill (cuz I had an early meeting that didn't want to be late for). My legs felt a little tight, but overall pretty uneventful run.

This Sunday I will be attempting to run my first 18 miler! I am a little nervous about it. I am not sure where I will be running...I want to try something different than the Lakes, maybe I will do Summit to prep for the marathon? But then I will have to deal with the Summit hill on my first 18 miler... I think maybe just moving from 15.6 miles to 18 miles will be enough challenge. Also, somewhere with some water would be nice, so that I can only carry one bottle since I am not quite use to the weight of the belt.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Week 10 - A Little Speed

Recap of last week's training:

Monday - Scheduled rest day - I actually felt pretty good considering I had just run 15.6 miles the day before.

Tuesday - Floater rest day - For some reason, my ankles/shins/calfs decided to tighten up Monday night and were still pretty tight Tuesday morning, so I took my extra rest day (I have an 'extra' floating rest day planned into my week)

Wednesday - 4 mi interval run on the treadmill - I forgot to grab my Garmin, so I decided to hit the treadmill instead of the trail (no, I'm not dependent on the GPS, not at all :) I did a nice relaxed pace with 10 pick-ups of 6.2-6.5 mph. A little speed felt like a nice change.

Thursday - Unscheduled rest day - I woke up with pink eye, called off work, and pretty much just stayed around the house all day.

Friday - ANOTHER Unscheduled rest day - Just didn't manage to get my butt outside to run.

Saturday - Scheduled rest day

Sunday - 11.5 miles at the Lakes - I parked at LOTI and did 2 laps of LOTI, 1 lap of Calhoun, and 1 more lap of LOTI. I left everything but the mp3 and a key at the car and stopped each lap for some water/gel. I was feeling good, so I thought I would pick up the pace for this "shorter" long run of ONLY 11 miles (who thought I would ever say that!) I ended up averaging 10:08 per mile!!! That is WAY faster than I was expecting…plus, I negative split it! My fastest mile was mile 8 @ 9:43. Besides the humidity (I was seriously dripping after the first mile) it was a really great run.

I had a cutback week planned…just wasn't suppose to be cutback quite that much. But, I feel somewhat rested and ready to do some serious training this week.

I treated myself to a new hydration belt…which should be arriving today (hopefully). I went with the Amphipod runlite 4. It probably has more than I need, but I like that it is so flexible. You can take off or add bottles and pouches. You can place them anywhere on the belt. And you can put them either vertical or horizontal. I am hoping I get it today so I can try it out on my 8 miler tomorrow before using it on my first 18 miler this weekend.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Half Done...and Half Done!!

Wow, it has been awhile since I have updated this, huh? I guess I have been spending all my time running and haven't had any time left to blog about it! (or something like that...)

Anyway - this past week I hit 2 big milestones in my 2009 goals...well, halfway that is. I wrapped up week 9 of 18 of my marathon training plan, and I hit 500 miles for the year - halfway to my 1000 mile goal! Yay!!

My long run this weekend was 15.6 longest yet. I ended up doing 5+ laps around Lake Harriet because I didn't want to have to carry my stuff with me. I briefly stopped at the car each lap to take a drink/gel/whatever. It was nice to not have the belt strapped on me. I have been having issues with my knee still and I was wondering if the belt was throwing off my stride...nope that wasn't it, the knee still bothered me. Also, I have a belt that holds one big bottle (instead of those little fuel belt bottles) and all of my bottles leak - leaving me with a wet bottom! Does anyone have any advice on fuel belts? Do you have one that works well for you? Does it leak? I am thinking of trying out one with the little bottles next time I am at the running store to see how it feels. I really want to have my stuff with me during the marathon and not have to rely on the water stops.

From here on out on the plan I get a pull-back week every other week. Depending on how it goes, I think I may try to do the long run during those shorter weeks at a faster pace (since I am running so many new distances PRs now, I barely even look at the pace...just aim to finish the mileage.