Sunday, February 28, 2016

Week 6 of Boston training, 50 days to go.

Wow, somehow I have been "officially" training for 6 weeks and there are still 50 days to go. Don't get me wrong, I'm feeling good and am perfectly happy to have more time but my typical unique training style usually has me tapering at this point.

So how did this week go?
Well, there was more unique but manageable weather followed by some incredible weather. (crazy)
After the last two winters this one has been just amazing. (and crazy)

Monday brought about some easy post work treadmill miles. I watched some Chopped and it was awesome.

Unflattering treadmill selfies, back this week in full force.
Tuesday was a rest day.

On Wednesday we had a very dangerous storm. I made fun of it partially in jest as I knew we were projected to get an inch of sleet and over two inches of rain. Grody....

Much fear and danger
I also ran some pretty fabulous treadmill mile repeats starting at an 8 min pace and finishing at a 7:30 pace for a total of 6 repeats and 11 miles. Solid.

Thursday was somehow both incredibly foggy and ridiculously windy. Isn't fog supposed to get blown away? My crow friends made an appearance which pleased me tremendously. The way that they converse with one another is fascinating to me and (since I spend all day outside) I listen to them a lot. They have stuck around all week. They are hoping I get them a crow sized birdfeeder.

My Homie
Thursday was an split run- half easy and half as what I referred to as an "optimistic" base pace, of 8:20-8:13. A good workout overall.

Shockingly, once the weather cleared up we discovered that the roads were completely clear. This is nothing short of a miracle in the land of snow and ice and poor plowing.

How is this possible in February??? HOW! LOVE.
The weather was far cooler on Friday with a high of 26 and some serious winds. I had a minor struggle getting outside to do some hillwork but when I'm "officially" in training I have a good ability to just shut up and get the job done. I did, for quite a fantastic workout. 8 miles over rolling hills at a surprisingly brisk pace. I thank the cold weather for getting me moving!

True Story
Next week, weather permitting, is when I expect to begin training on my "Boston" hill route. Thus far, despite getting decent elevation the hills have been fairly short. My Boston hill is a long, arduous climb of over half a mile at no less than a 4% incline. You can't exactly hammer up it but it definitely builds up some hill confidence and hill badassery.

For me, knowing that I have practiced over tricky hills is half the battle and the mental training when you don't feel that the hill will ever end is beneficial. For me anyway.

Friday night I proclaimed that my beer of the week was Oscar Blues "Old Chub" which is a great everyday Scotch Ale. Super smooth, nice bourbon notes and all that stuff that makes me an annoying beer hipster. Seriously though, coming in at like $9 a 6 pack you can't go wrong.

Beer of the week. Thanks to my Uncle Dave for getting me hooked!
On Saturday I was lucky to be able to take to the roads early (for me) for my long run. Eric was nice enough to do some equine babysitting so that I could start running around 10:30.
It was cold to start (25) but a perfect 35 and sunny after 90 minutes or so.

I took a nice route over rolling hills (pretty serious first half elevation drop, making for a good hardworking finish.) There were plenty of nice things to look at, three lakes, some people ice fishing, a distinct lack of snow and just a gorgeous day overall. I felt great throughout and never needed to stop for any reason.
I rarely stop mid run but I'm human. Sometimes I need to pee behind a tree. Or tie my damn shoe. This was one of those perfect days where I never had to break my running tempo and I just cruised along.

This is my long run. DOWN. UP. DONE.
There was one less than stellar moment. Around mile 14.5 I was traveling past the town beach and suddenly, the lake made a shockingly loud "BOOM!" This took me very much by surprise and I jumped and looked sharply to the right. Unfortunately, in that moment of distraction I stepped off the pavement and rolled my left ankle. HARD. There was a moment of stabby pain but it quickly subsided so I felt ok to continue. Honestly, I felt pretty lucky. I think that I easily could have sprained my ankle badly and I was fortunate to run away unscathed. 

I finished with 19 for the day at a pace that I was very pleased with.

No broken ankles for me today......
The rest of the weekend was enjoyable. The weather was close to 50, I felt fine after my long run and did a good amount of stretching and foam rolling.

And drinking a delicious recovery beverage. Duh.
Next week should be slightly more interesting for you readers. I thrive on the endless routine of training (I'm a dressage rider, it's how I live.) But I imagine reading about it is like watching paint dry.
Weather permitting Eric and I are running the Hampton Half on Sunday and a race is always more exciting to report on (or to read about) than a normal training week.

This week was quality though, exciting or not. I'm feeling good (especially with 50 more days to train) and I'm feeling motivated. I'm looking forward to the next month and hitting my peak weeks!

The weekly wrap up
Miles: 51
Favorite TV: Chopped while running, Dark Matter while sitting
Favorite beer: Oscar Blues "Old Chub"
Low temp: 7 on Thursday AM
High temp- 48 on Sunday
Favorite food: My Mom made Tacos.... MMMMMMMMMM.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Boston training week five. The one where nothing exciting happens.

As my title has already led you to believe, nothing exciting happened this week.

That's not to say that nothing happened. I had a perfectly good week, my workouts went as planned and the weather was good enough to allow me three outside runs. Amazing! So fun!

My foot, after getting hacked up last week seems to be on the mend. Probably, if I took a week off like they suggested I never would have noticed it. I said to my DR "A week???" And he said "For you, no. Maybe a day." So, knowing that there was nothing that could be done to harm things, off I went with no issues other than a teeny little pain that one might expect. And now I am fine.

I had three pretty serious workouts this week.
I did 6x800's on the treadmill with 5 done in 3:32. Sadly, I have zero sweaty basement selfies to share. (how did this happen? who knows..) But I did them and I was a bit like "woof" because speed work at that pace, apparently, is a challenge for me.

I took my hill work outdoors. For me, this is key. My treadmill only goes up and when one is preparing for Boston one desperately needs downhills too. So I did that and it was good.

Running up a hill, on a dry road in February. WHAT?
I then had a progression run, also outdoors which I felt good about. My goal was to bring the pace from just under 9's to absolutely not one step faster than marathon goal pace. As usual this was all a bunch of guesswork but ended up right on target. Also, over rolling hills.

At the top of a rolling hill....
I had expected to take to the treadmill for my long run and was pleasantly surprised when the previous nights snow had melted in the nick of time. I thought it was a decent 17, not amazing, not terrible. Just getting the miles in on slightly tired legs but no drama.
Well, other than the weather. The temp was great, shockingly good actually coming in at 45 when I headed out. As I ran thru my town not only did the temp wildly fluctuate but it went from brilliant sun, to clouds, to temporary gale force winds, to rain. Fairly crazy.

45 degree long run. Pretty fabulous.
Somewhere in there was a boring basic 6 miler on the treadmill and that was it. I finished watching Dance Moms season 5 and have no idea what crap show I will turn to next.

44 miles for the week which is exactly where I need to be right now.

I was asked (by throngs of readers. or one person) what I do for cross training. Honestly, very little. I attribute this to my very active, basically cross training job. I also do have some time limitations and yoga, weights, and TRX just don't fit into the plan. I'm also not that motivated to fit more hours of athletics into my life and since I'm not shooting for an Olympic berth I can get away with this laziness.

I do a few basic exercises to work on my trouble areas (weak hips, glutes) and I have a very boring basic routine that I do for core, more so I don't jaggle around like a bag of mayo on a horse than for anything running related. So yeah, don't look to me for cross training inspiration at this point!
(or do? keep it simple? not a bad plan now that I think about it.)

Resistance band sideways walking thing. Does wonders for the hips.
I got a birdfeeder which is totally unrelated to anything else I have said today. Currently I seem to be attracting squirrels, two slightly slower than average sparrows, a pair of tufted titmouse (mice? I said tit haahahaha) and one delightful woodpecker. In my spare time I am basically a closet birder. I do wish the squirrels would bugger off though....

My little friend!!!!
Oh, and since the weather was all summery and what not I busted out some post run IPA's. From this weeks collection emerged a favorite for the week. They make another of my favorites, Boom Sauce which is quality.
While I might not have a good cross training plan I always have a good plan for beers. This is key.

Drink this, it's totally decent.
So that's all from week 5 of training. I'm hoping that the weather report for next week improves or it's back to the treadmill for me, and with no more Dance Moms I'm going to be awfully bored....

The weekly wrap up
Miles: 44 which is good
Favorite TV: Dance Moms.... Such junk!!!
Favorite beer: Lord Hobo Steal This Can
Low temp: -14 (on Monday AM)
High temp- 46! On Saturday
Favorite food: This amazing creme brulee with an almond cookie from The Oxford House. OMG.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Week 4 of Boston Training, the one with the gross pics...

There is only going to be one gross picture but I thought I'd warn you.

Ok so last week was a cutback week for me. There were a couple reasons. One, if I run 40-50 mile weeks for ever I die. Two: I had to go get my foot hacked up. Three: Lazy
(mostly kidding about 3)

I had a couple of workouts scheduled for early in the week.
I got off to a craptastic start and felt just as lousy as I had the week before. Yuck. Again, there was nothing wrong with me I just felt flat and blah.
I took Tuesday off as a mental health day and maybe a physical health day.

Mental health day demands quality beer.
 Wednesday brought about a much better workout which made me feel pleased! Like I said last last
week a rotten workout doesn't bother me, however I never sad to have a good one!

This is my "good workout" face. Wow.
And then.... On Thursday I got my foot issue taken care of. It was gross but now I am on the mend. At the same time my Dr busted me for not having a tetanus shot for 22 years and, sadly, I got one. (for those of you who don't know, I really REALLY don't like needles. So shots are like a big NO for me.) This teaches me to complain about nasty puncture wounds in the presence of my MD. Jeesh.

The gross foot pic. It got even grosser but I'll spare you.
I awoke on Thursday feeling rather dreadful. I know that tetanus shots don't have any side effects to speak of, so all I can imagine is that the rather excruciating pain in my arm was causing me to imagine that I was ill. Between the gimping from only having one good foot and the awkward feeling of only having one good arm before I knew it I had thrown out my back. The universe was laughing at me like a big jerk.
I was a hot mess. I didn't really have a fun day. My mom made me cookies which made things better.

Luckily, on Saturday I was well on my way to normal again.
I hit the treadmill for my long run armed with my ipad to enjoy the Olympic marathon trials.

Nice cool day over there.
What a great race! I had a super time watching and cheering for my favorites. My bets to make the top 3 were right on with the exception of Ward, who I must admit that I don't know.
The teamwork between Shalane and Amy was really inspiring (although at the end I was yelling at Amy "LEAVE HER LEAVE HER!!!!!" which is why I don't have any friends....)

I couldn't participate in the amazingly well thought out drinking game that some of my Crow Athletics compatriots had the inspiration to create (with extensive help from- I kid you not- Desi herself) However, my Olympic Trials bingo card was well filled out: many mentions of Meb's age, an every 5 minute update of the weather, a course that honestly looked like a nightmare to run on, a trillion references to Amy Cragg's 4th place finish 4 years ago, Desi negative spliting, Sara Hall dropping out and Kara crying! (I make bingo cards for every possible event....)
Post run, in honor of the drinks my creative Crow friends named after the top runners I enjoyed a "Desi" in the comfort of my own home. Desi is beast. I want to be her when I grow up.

The "Desi" was bourbon. That's all. Just my style.
Phew! After all that excitement I was pretty much ready to run a 2:30 marathon too. Plus an hour. Whatever. I am definitely excited for Rio!

Oh! The best thing about Saturday was being able to watch the marathon and then switch live feeds and watch the Grand Prix Special live from Global. I was totally geeking out from excitement. (yeah, I watch live action from Global pretty much weekly but this week was a big deal.)
Of course, after seeing Laura Graves NAIL it I got even MORE excited for Rio.

#fangirl Sorry Desi, I actually want to be like Laura when I grow up!!!
Sunday was cold AF (high of 0)

After heroically keeping the horses happy all day Eric and I enjoyed a lovely Valentines day complete with a fancy hotel, pink champagne, delicious dinner and sparkly gifts. We had set a goal to have the most #basic Valentines ever and we killed it. So fun!

Such a great time!!

So the wrap up:
27 sad little miles
1 bloody foot
Favorite TV: Olympic Marathon Trials!
Favorite beer: The always delicious Sebago Barleywine.
Low temp: -17 with a 20MPH wind. FML.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Boston training Week 3, where mercurial weather is plentiful.

I feel like week 3 of #omgbostontraining was about what I have come to expect from a marathon training cycle.
A little good, a little bad, a little shit.

The week started off strong with me feeling obnoxiously good about a couple key workouts. Like, the kind that almost make you want to puke (but you don't, and therefore think you are impervious.)
I got through those in fine form was actually able to take it outside at the end of the week.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a 50 degree day in February.

Last Thursdays run, basically no snow.
I was feeling really good for this workout but it was scheduled to be easy, with a progression run the next day and a long run the day after.

Capris and DRY roads in Feb?! Fuck YES.
I purposefully kept the pace well in check (and it retrospect, I shouldn't have. I should have gone balls to the walls screaming "screw my plan!!" because going easy did not pay off.)

Easy run equals looking at the pretty sunset.
Anywhoo. The next day came and my run absolutely sucked. I was hoping for  pretty solid progression run but it was weak and blah. Lame and dumb. Stupid. I figured it was just an off day and went about my business.

Saturday was long run day and, unfortunately the weather had been crap all day on Friday.

WTF snow, WT actual F.....

The roads were clear enough to be safe but there was enough slush to make things yucky (and wet) and it was quite a bit colder than it had been (although 35 in Feb is really nothing to get hystercal about.)

Gross roads. Cold enough for tights. Dumb.
All that being said, the first 9 miles of my run were just the worst. I was still blah, I was getting splattered with slush and gravel by he passing cars and life was just *so hard* and *so challenging*.
I did a full system check and, discovering that I was neither sick nor injured I decided that I really needed to just suck it the hell up.

THIS. Because, seriously.....
The last 6 miles of my run were just fine. Back to normal. No problems. Apparently my body realized that I wasn't taking its shit and it got on board with the plan of slapping one foot down in front of the other. Jeesh... Too bad the first 9 were an actual death march to hell. GAHD.

Not thrilled. Really, not that excited.
 Anyway, I got home and recovered well like the true athlete that I am.

What's the point of running if there isn't any beer and cheese?
I'm not sure why the blah's came out at the end of the week. It usually happens a couple times during a marathon cycle so I'm attributing it to that. My winter allergies had been out of control and my sleeping hadn't been 100% perfect, I had been waking up in the night with a dry cough (I say had because as of this week I am better- a few allergy pills and I seem to be getting a handle on it.) Either way, one lousy week is ok and I still managed 40 miles which was exactly to plan.

I am far from a marathon expert but in my experience a lot of shit goes down in the 18, 12 or (if you are me) 9 weeks that you train hard for. (yeah, yeah- I'm training for more than 9 weeks this time *sigh*) In the end, one bad workout doesn't matter one bit. You won't even notice a lousy week come race day. Since a marathon takes a few hours and training takes a few months I try to make the best of it and let the crap roll off my shoulders. The beer and cheese really, really helps with this! 

Next week is a lighter week for a few reasons and then the countdown really gets real!
(I was asked today if my "training week" differs from the traditional Mon-Sun runners schedule. No, it doesn't, I am just lazy and can't be bothered to post a blog until the following week is almost over!)


Monday, February 1, 2016

Boston Training Week #2, shoes, and Bobcats

Currently the weather is much more like April than like February 1st. While I know that Feb is traditionally the month where the shit hits the fan I don't count on this to last but I certainly am enjoying it!

All last week the weather was really decent. Sadly, the sun is still going down too early for me to feel inspired to hoof it around town but we are getting there. I took my long run outdoors and appreciated the lovely sunset and the muddy snowbanks. (muddy snowbanks are always better than snowy snowbanks in my opinion!)

Pretty sunset at 4:44 PM
I had a shockingly good long run this week. 16 miles of complete enjoyment and at a pretty decent clip too. This is unheard of for January so I am going to attribute it to one of two things: the base I built up during Philly-thru-Dopey OR (and more likely) dumb luck. Either way, I'll take it. I had a crap ton of fun, I listened to some sweet tunes which is not the norm, it was warm (38) and just a good day.

My thumb looks so large. This is a weird pic but I'm using it anyway.
Since about a month prior to Philly I have been having a bit of shoe drama. Even though I have it mostly sorted out it still merits mention because shoes play a big role in my happiness.
I snagged a pair of Clifton 2's after my final pair of Clifton 1's bit the dust.
Well, this was a struggle. Lots of changes to the 2's (this is old news) and after bleeding all over them for 50 miles I tossed them aside. I put back on the Clifton 1's for another 100 miles (at that point, 100 miles was less than 2 weeks.) *side note- those final 100 miles really turned the 1's into slippers. poor things. they have a life span and 470 miles was tooooo much.*

Right, I digress.
I basically crossed my fingers and picked up a pair of Odyssey's. I think I put less than 70 miles on them and then ran Philly. They are now nearing the end, with over 300 miles on them. While they don't fill me with joy they get the job done and have improved with miles.

Beat up Odyssey's left, Clifton 2's Right. Dog foot bottom.
So here are my feelings.
The Odyssey 1's, because they have the "original" Hoka tongue worked better for me than the Clifton 2's. However, both pairs of shoes are much more narrow than the Clifton 1's (or any Hokas from a year or so ago) and that just stinks. I don't even have a wide foot!
I have another pair of Odyssey's in the wings and have found that the Clifton 2's, after a lengthy and bogus "break in" period are pretty serviceable. I feel they will get me through Boston.
All of this being said the original Clifton's were an amazing shoe- one that I had ZERO complaints about. I am holding out hope that Hoka brings back a similar model ASAP.
Why not just change brands you might ask? Because at the end of the day my legs/hips/back all feel better in a Hoka than in anything else. So apparently I am willing to sacrifice my little toe and let my ankles bleed to keep the legs happy....
I have very high hopes for the upcoming Clayton and the reps have promised me a better Clifton 3. Since the Hokas have kept me on my feet better than any other shoe thus far I will consider the past few months to be a small bump in the road of an otherwise delightful relationship. 

So what else?
My whole week of training was solid. I came in, as planned at 39 miles which included the previously mentioned great long run and a variety of treadmill training that included a few mile repeats and a progression run which were good, but sweaty.

Unflattering sweaty selfie, as promised.

In more exciting (late) news....
I mentioned the encounter with the bobcat in my last post, completely forgetting that I had left that experience off the blog!
Back in late October I was out running after dark, lit up like a damn Christmas tree per the norm. When you are used to running in Maine in the Fall you get used to hearing a variety of critters moving thru the fallen leaves and assorted puckerbrush. I am pretty used to hearing squirrels, turkeys, and assorted small wildlife and I barely give those noises any notice.
Anywhoo, I was a few miles out, on one of the bigger roads in my town (in the DARK) when I heard an unusual scuffle in the underbrush just ahead of me on the other side of the road. I contemplated what it could be and decided that it was either a very large dog or a creepy skulking human. Feeling prepared to deal with either of those situations I turned my flashlight to the right AND THERE HE WAS. You guys, he was right there. Taking a look at me. Like just across the road!

JUST LIKE THIS! But dark. No, I did NOT take pics!! #terror
I was quite certain that it was a mountain lion and (possibly for the first time ever while on a run) thought I might be completely fucked. So what did I do? I ran LIKE HELL. I knew that about 150 feet away there was a driveway and my plan was to get there, chuck stones and yell. Luckily, Mr. Bobcat was just as startled to see me as I was him and he stayed put. (he was most likely hunting the chickens right across the way.)
Of course, once I had run quite a ways, unreasonably fast I spent a minute or two going "ahhhh! I DID NOT LIKE THAT!" and kind of sobbing and dry heaving from the redline sprint like a *very brave* person.
(and I get it, backseat drivers, you don't run from cats. but what would you have done with zero time to plan!? I have a plan for bad dogs, creepy people and even bears. just not BIG fucking huge cats. So I RAN!!!!!)

Anyway....! That's it from here. Enjoy the Spring everyone. :-)