Sunday, September 18, 2016

And The End Has Come - For Now

Training is over!  Well, training for this marathon is over.  I have some 5K's and half marathons scheduled later this year.  So that just means training is not as intense.  I think a week break is in order, however.

I ran the Cleveland River Run Half Marathon on Sunday, September 11.  It was a beautiful day, perfect for a race.  It was supposed to be a "just for fun" run, but with the weather I couldn't help but push it a little bit.  I ran a 10 minute per mile pace, and I ran the entire race for a change with no walk breaks. I pushed it a bit at the end as I felt like I could run another 13.1 miles :)

This continues to be one of my favorite half marathons.  I've run it four years in a row, and it never disappoints.  The medal is nice too :)

Overall it was a great experience. This race doesn't have an expo, but I don't mind because they mail my packet, saving me an extra trip or an overnight stay!

Now, about the marathon . . .

It was a busy few days.  On Friday we drove to Dayton, picked up my packet, then made a quick trip to Oxford to drop things off to our son, then back home.  The expo was average but there were some nice vendors.  One issue for me was the way it was arranged.  We entered the building and walked around, visiting vendors.  I saw a few I wanted to re-visit.  Then the path took us downstairs and there we picked up my packet.  There were more vendors on that main floor.  The exit only went one way however, and to get back to the other vendors would have required re-entering the building, and it just wasn't worth the effort.

Saturday morning we left around 2:30 a.m. to head for the race. It rained and stormed on the way there.  Once we got there, I got on one of the buses to head to the race start.  About that time they decided to delay the race for 1/2 hour.  Even though the start time was a few hours away, they made us stay on the bus (safety first).  Finally we left for the start.  

It was still overcast, but the storm had passed.  People gradually started filling the start area.  We had been incorrectly told that no one was allowed to enter/park near the starting area, so Curt was not there at the start of my race.  This is me waiting for the start!

As it was getting closer to the new start time, it got more humid and warmer.  They didn't have race corrals, just flags with finishing times.  I lined up at a slower finishing time.  I prefer to be in a slower group than my normal pace so I don't go out too fast.  The 10K and marathon start at the same time, and the half marathon starts 30 minutes later. So, at the start area there were all sorts of people milling around, making it difficult to find the proper pace time.  As the start approached, the groups surged ahead, and I assumed I was still in the slower group.

Finally we started.  By now it was quite warm and humid.  There were two hills at the beginning of the course.  I didn't look at my Garmin to see my pace - I probably should have!  After the two hills I started to feel a little ill.  I almost pulled out at mile six after spending some time in the porta-potty (I won't give too much information!).  I decided to slow down and walk a bit - and I was passed by more than one pace group - I had definitely somehow gotten into the wrong one during the beginning race surge!

By the time I could take in any nutrition, it was too late for my muscles.  I was cramping any time I ran for more than 1/4 mile.  I walked a lot the rest of the race, but I was determined to finish.  I saw several runners stopping and some likely didn't finish.  One person dropped almost right in front of me - we were just past a water break, so we passed the message back, runner to runner, that medical help was needed.  One runner stayed with him - he had some severe muscle cramps.  A mile later I saw another runner almost drop and she limped to the aid station.  

All in all, I am glad I finished!  The medal is really nice.  This was the 20th Air Force Marathon so it was extra special (and quite heavy). The course was not too bad; again not one of the best but not one of the worst I've run either.  Some things they did right - there were water stops at just about every mile, and they had bananas at some of them.  I discovered I can eat them during a race without issues!  At one point they were handing out wet sponges and it was great to cool down!  However, I think the delay contributed to my nutrition issues and I'm not sure it was necessary.  We spend quite a bit of time at the starting area waiting. 

I learned some things from this marathon and this training session (that's the point, right?). I learned that the training plan is working.  I didn't have any problems that were caused by not being properly trained physically.  As far as mentally, this marathon was a test of my willpower and stubbornness and I know I can push through adversity.  The Cleveland half marathon was my best half since I returned to running!  I also learned that I need try to be more rested on race day, or at least not to run a half so close to a full as I'm not QUITE as young as I used to be.  I also need to work on my nutritional issues.  I plan to keep training, after a short break (and by break I mean I won't push training this week).  I want to run a long distance (20 or so miles) at least once a month and experiment with nutrition.  I can stay close to home while running so it's easier to experiment.  

Marathon Number Nine is in the books!

No Excuses/Gotta Run (later)

Monday, September 5, 2016

Winding Down

I haven't updated this blog lately. Life has been busy!

We successfully moved the two kids to their respective schools.  As predicted, I got a lot of natural strength training during the moves.  We carried many boxes, pieces of furniture, etc.  Also I cleaned the house thoroughly after the moves, and that involved some stretching and lifting.

Another factor is that school has started.  Since I am teaching 12 credit hours, I'm basically working two full time jobs!  It's good that I enjoy both jobs.  As busy as I am, I try to keep my running as a priority.

Training has been going very well.  I made it through my third and final 20-mile run with no issues, no injuries :)  I think this is the first time I have completed all my 20-miles runs (and the other training runs) without injury.  I'm happy to report I have not missed a single run in this training cycle. I have rearranged a few, but not missed any.  My knee does hurt a bit after the longer runs, but it's not "clicking" and it's not causing me to change my stride, and I'm not experiencing any other unusual muscle pain.

I have missed some strength training.  At this point in the training cycle, I feel with the limited time I have, running is the priority.  I do a few push-ups, sit-ups, etc. as I have time, so I haven't completely abandoned the strength training.

I'm in taper mode now, having run my last longish run yesterday (8 scheduled miles turned into 10).  I added a half marathon into my training cycle, and that is coming up soon.  I will try to post an update afterwards.  I'm going to try to not race it, but use it as a tune up.  It's difficult to not compete, though! The marathon is six days after the half.  My main focus for these last two weeks is nutrition and keeping healthy.

No Excuses/Gotta Run

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Week Twelve, Thirteen Finished and Now Week Fourteen Begins

I didn't write anything last week like I usually do.  These last few weeks have tested my ability to "go with the flow" when it comes to training.  All in all, I'm pleased with my progress. The hot, humid weather has been difficult to deal with, but I've been able to do my running, even though it might be at a slower pace than I prefer.  When it's hot, I slow down.  The important thing to me is to get the training in, even if it's slow.

At the end of week twelve, I ran the "Runaway Bride Women's Distance Festival" 5K.  It is always a fun race, and as the title implies it is mainly for women. This year they added the bride.  We chased a bride (a local fast male runner in a wedding dress complete with a veil) and had the option of wearing a bridesmaid dress.  I wore one (lucky for me it was shorter) and I won my age group.  It was so fun to see the bride and runners in various dresses.  I laughed when I first saw the bride :)  My total time was about a minute slower than last year, but I haven't been training for speed.  But wow, the age group just above me - those 60+ year old women can run fast!  I'll have my work cut out for me in a few years.  I really liked the prize this year; it was a small glass.  Because I was a little sore from the 5K and I raced rather than ran a training run, I decided to forgo the 14-mile run scheduled on Sunday.  My goal is to not end up injured, so I have learned to adjust, as hard as it is sometimes.

Week thirteen went fairly well.  I was able to do all my runs, with some ingenuity.  On Wednesday, a seven mile run was on the schedule.  About two miles in, the lightening started.  I'm crazy, but not stupid!  I was running in my neighborhood instead of my usual route, so I came back home and, as much as I prefer outside running, I finished on the treadmill.  I put on a rather difficult program, so I pushed myself. 

Friday was the first day of my "vacation" - I'm off work, but will be busy moving kids and cleaning, etc.  As it was the end of week thirteen, a 20-mile run was on the schedule.  It was a very hot, humid day.  I started out around 5:45 a.m.  I wore a head lamp and stayed in my neighborhood.  Once the sun started to come up, I left the neighborhood and headed toward town.  It didn't take long for it to heat up.  I was out of water by the time I got to about 10 miles, so I stopped at a local Walmart and re-filled my water bottles.  What a sight I must have been - I was dripping wet and probably a little flushed from the heat.  I refilled my water again at DCTV (thanks to my husband).  With a lot of slow running and walking, I was able to finish my 20 miles.  It was tough, I was dehydrated, but I finished.  This is the first time in several years  I've gotten two 20-mile training runs in; one more is scheduled in a few weeks.  I usually end up being injured and having to take time off, and never seem to get to those long, long runs.  I can't say the run was without injury, however.  Because it was hot and humid, my feet swelled.  I felt a little pain, but did not notice a blister forming and opening, until I got home and looked down at my shoe to see what the little bit of pain was about.

But, the key thing is that I finished the run and was still able to walk (as long as I wasn't wearing shoes) the rest of the day!

Today is the unofficial start of week fourteen.  I will have to really adjust my schedule due to the moving activities going on this week.  I was scheduled for an 8-mile run on Tuesday; I ran that this morning.  Of course it was a little too soon perhaps; with no runs scheduled until Wednesday, hopefully my heel will heal.  At least now both pairs of shoes match!

Where I am missing out is my strength training.  For weeks twelve and thirteen, I have only been able to get one session in each week.  But, it is a tougher session, and it is better than nothing.  I hope to get both sessions in this week.  However, we will be moving kids to two different colleges, so I may be getting some informal strength training during those moves!  Time has been limited these last few weeks, so if I have to choose, I will do the running. 

That's it for now!  The next few weeks will test my resolve to get my training in and to adjust as life dictates.  I can do this!  There is only one more 20-mile run, and then it will be basically taper time (which can be the worst part of any training plan).  I will try to write each week.  This is mainly for my benefit so I can look back and see how this training went and how it well it worked.  I won't know that until Marathon day!

No Excuses  / Gotta run

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Week Eleven - Getting closer

Good or bad, the weeks are flying by this summer.  As I write this, it's hard to believe it's the last day of July.  My fall marathon is seven weeks away.  There is still plenty of time to train and to work on NOT getting injured.

This was a good week.  I was able to get my runs accomplished and my strength training, all on schedule, even though my daughter was visiting. The strength program continues to step it up with more difficult workouts, and I like the way it's causing me to work different areas.  I don't like doing evening runs because of the heat, but during the week I have no choice.  It was very hot when I did my nine mile run this week, and I was wearing new shoes.  Even though they are the exact same except in color as the other pair I started breaking in last week, they felt tight on one foot and I ended up with a blister on the bottom of my little toe.  Ouch!  I know sometimes different colors of the same shoe are slightly different, but this felt much tighter.  I believe, however, my feet were very swollen because of the heat or other issues.  I wore those shoes for my other runs this week, and by Saturday morning's run they felt fine.

That's it for this week. 

No Excuses  / Gotta run

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Week Ten - Tough Week

I'm amazed I've made it this far without any injuries or major training detours.  I've been following my schedule, making adjustments as necessary.  I was able to get my strength training in, too.  That program stepped it up a bit and I can feel it, especially in my abdominal muscles. 

This week was supposed to be a "cut-back" week as far as mileage.  Every few weeks, this schedule has a week with much less mileage.  I suppose it's to keep one from burning out.  I switched and moved the lower mileage week to next week.  My daughter is visiting at the end of the week, and I didn't want to try to squeeze in my runs or skip any high mileage while she is here.

The hot, sometimes stormy weather made this a tough week.  Tuesday's scheduled 10-mile run became an 8-mile run on the treadmill.  I didn't feel like taking a chance with the lightening that was happening, but after 8 miles I could do no more on the treadmill.  I used to do a higher percentage of my runs on it, because of weather and family obligations.  I can't imagine that now!  Wednesday we ventured to the big city and I was able to finally purchase some new running shoes.  Mine were well over their prime, and I could feel it in my hips and knee.  Of course I had to try them out, so I made up the 2 miles from Tuesday as soon as we got home.  Well, I MAY have gone 3 miles, but the new shoes felt so good! 

The toughest day by far this week was today.  I ran (technically I ran and walked) 20 miles!  I slept in a bit and started later than I planned.  Originally I wanted to be out by 4:30/5:00 a.m., but I ended up out the door at 5:50 a.m.  I wore my headlamp for part of the run, then looped back home to drop it off once it was light enough outside.  We are under a heat advisory, so I wanted to finish before it got too hot.  I didn't quite accomplish that goal, but the point is that I finished 20 miles.  Last year when I was training for my October marathon, I didn't end up with any 20-mile runs due to schedules, injuries, etc.  I have two more planned before this marathon.

Since today's run was so long, I altered my route.  Instead of keeping it in the country, I ran into town, by the library, a park (both of those twice - going out and coming back), some major parking lots, and so forth.  I did a country loop at the end.  I stopped home at 17.5 miles because all of my water was gone, and I was very thirsty.  I was tempted to stay in the nice air-conditioned house, but I couldn't since I was so close to my goal.  I saw some interesting things on my run.  At the library, I saw a group of people sitting on and around the cannon.  There is a Pokestop there, and I imagine someone set up a lure.  I saw quite a few runners; I assume they were like me and wanted to get their runs finished before the heat of the day set in.  I saw the usual deer and other wildlife. I'm glad I stuck it out and finished.  I didn't have my usual stomach issues, so I'm getting better at know what to eat and what not to eat the day before.  Now it's time for a little rest!

No Excuses  / Gotta run

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Week Nine - Keeping it going

Week nine - wow.  I've come this far without an injury, and I hope to keep it that way.  I accomplished all my scheduled runs this week, along with my cross-training/strength training. I seem to be running at a significantly slower pace, but that may be key to keeping injury-free.  Slow and steady finishes the race!

I have adjusted my schedule and I will see how it works.  Most weekends I prefer to do the long run on Saturday, and I had those scheduled for Sunday.  The change allows me to enjoy Saturday evenings without the the worry of what I'm eating and how that will affect the next day's run.  Also, usually the day after a long run (not the day of) I'm starving, and when I do my long runs on Sunday, I end up at work without enough to eat. Monday's are difficult enough without being continuously hungry! There may be a few Saturday's I'm unable to do that, but I'll adjust.  I've also added an occasional extra run in - it depends on how I feel.  I want to keep the enjoyment of running going, so if I feel like going for a run, I will.  And again, flexibility with my schedule is a key part of continued success.  I may have to switch up a few weeks due to family obligations, and that's OK.

This is a rather boring entry, but when things are going well, there's not much to say.  I did have one interesting run this week.  I knew the rain was coming, and I enjoy running in the rain.  The thunder was OK, too.  I was smart and, after my 3-mile loop, instead of doing a second one (I was aiming for 6 miles), I stayed in my neighborhood, running on every side street.  I was a block or so past my street and planning to run to the stop sign at the entrance to my subdivision.  As I said, thunder is OK.  Pouring rain is OK too, and it actually felt quite refreshing.  Then, there was lightening.  I don't do lightening!  I turned around and quickly ran back home.  I cut my run short by .4 of a mile, but safety is paramount!


No Excuses  / Gotta run

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Week Eight - Still Running

I finished with week eight of training. Usually by this time in my schedule there have been some minor issues or injuries, causing me to pause training for a week.  So far everything is going very well.  I have to be careful to not tell myself that, since things are going so well, I can step it up beyond my scheduled training.  Pushing myself is when I end up getting injured.  I think it is helping that I haven't registered for any local races during the training. When I run a local race, I sometimes feel I have a reputation to keep up (I often place or win in my gender/age group) and I push myself too much.

That being said, I have done two things I said I wouldn't in that first paragraph.  I signed up for a 5K in early August.  It's close but technically not local, it's a women's only race, and it raises money for a good cause.  It will be late enough in my training that I think I'll be trained enough and disciplined enough to avoid injuries.  I'm scheduled for pace training the day before, so I'll adjust and make the race part of that training.

Also, I added a run this week.  Because I switched and did my long run on Saturday, I had an extra day.  Monday was a holiday, so I met up with one of my friends and we ran.  Originally we discussed the idea of running the local July 4th race, but decided to just go for a fun run.  That was a good decision. We had fun, saw some local wildlife, and didn't push ourselves like we do when we race.

I adjusted my long run schedule again this week.  One of my friends is visiting her family (she lives out of state), and had a scheduled long run for Saturday. I decided to again switch to Saturday so I could run with her.  And a funny thing happened on Friday - I was out for a short "shake out" run (scheduled, not extra), and ran into her.  So we ended up running together two days.  It's a great way to catch up on whats going on. 

As far as cross training, I missed one session.  I'll simply repeat last week and get it in.  As I've said, flexibility in a training schedule is key for me.  We had out of state family in town, and we had a last minute dinner invitation.  That was more important than one session of weight training.  The week was so busy that there was no other time to fit it in.

In the past, I would obsess about having to get in that training, possibly causing myself injury by not allowing myself enough recovery time from running.  Now I've learned to relax and realize that the only way any training program will work for me is if I allow enough flexibility to actually live my life too.  Running is a regular part of my life, not just when I'm training for a marathon, and I want to keep it that way.  A few years ago I got pretty burned out and didn't enjoy running.  I won't let that happen again.

No Excuses  / Gotta run