Sunday, November 16, 2014

Countdown to the Marathon: One Week to Go!

By this time next week, I will be home, most definitely resting, after having completed my first marathon.  Even though I have spent the past 17 weeks preparing for that moment, I cannot believe how quickly the time snuck up on me.

I celebrated my taper yesterday by running almost four miles at a slow, easy pace.  I stopped to take pictures (something I have not done on a run in a long time) and admire the beautiful late autumn scenery.

I absolutely adore Philly in the fall.

My Garmin has been acting wonky lately, failing to pick up signals on my last two long runs, and its battery went down to dangerously low levels during my recent 18 milers.  I was hesitant to switch up my gear so soon before the marathon, but thanks to my mom, I ordered an early Christmas present for myself: the Garmin Forerunner 220.  It should be here later this week, and the battery life should safely get me through my first marathon.

In addition to the business of real life (the next two-three months are shaping up to be INSANE in my world), I have multiple other marathon issues to think about.  

·         What will my nutrition plan this week be?  I know I need to carb it up, but I also want to be mindful of getting enough vitamins and nutrients.

·         What will my nutrition plan for the race be?

·         What time should I go to bed each night?  Too early, and I risk not falling asleep.  Too late, and I am setting myself up to be overtired come race weekend.

·         When do I need to wake up, leave the house and arrive at the race area?

·         In which corral should I be placed?  I was assigned to a corral with a much faster predicted finish time than my own (it’s not the race’s fault—I overestimated my ability when I registered.)  I don’t want to block other faster runners, nor do I want to be blocked myself, so I’ll have to decide where exactly I want to be.

·         What will I wear?  The weather has been all over the place.  I have no idea if I’ll be freezing or toasty next Sunday.

·         What’s my pace strategy?  

·         Should I carry my own water?  Should I carry my phone?  Both items add lots of weight to my person, but they’re also valuable resources.

·         Where will my family spectate?  I’ve already scouted out locations for spectating, but now I have to figure out my estimated arrivals for each spot so that my mom knows when to be on high alert.  There will be 30,000 other people running, so finding one another will be no easy task.

The most important thing for me is to stay calm this week.  I’m having to deal with noisy neighbors, stress at work and important life planning simultaneously with the marathon.  Keeping myself centered is what is going to get me through all of this, marathon and beyond, in one piece.

To that end, I started celebrating my Christmas season yesterday (yes, I know that is still ridiculously early), but turning on my holiday lights, drinking cocoa and listening to festive tunes soothes my soul.  

Pooh Corner

So Merry Marathon everybody!  I’ll be checking in with you again soon.

~Tomato Face

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Marathon Monday: 2014 Fall Marathon Training Week 16

I know, I know: once again, I am posting a “Marathon Monday” update on a day that is most definitely not Monday.  Whoops.  Let’s quick take the focus off my tardiness and concentrate instead on the fact that I can run again.  Yay!!!!

After an anxiety-producing hiatus brought upon by my first genuine cold of the season, I was back to (a mostly) normal schedule this past week:

Monday:  Rest day

Even though I wasn’t able to run on Saturday or Sunday, I decided to take an additional day of rest on Monday so that I could fully recuperate from my illness.  That was wise indeed!

Tuesday:  Running, easy, 5.15 miles @ 10:03 minute mile pace—51:46 minutes

Because I allowed myself to rest, I felt ready to tackle five miles at easy pace on Tuesday.  The weather was gorgeous, and I was blissfully happy to be breathing sans bronchitis and running.

Wednesday:  Running, race pace, 4.01 miles @ 9:00 minute mile pace—36:05 minutes

After a rough day at work, I was desperate to pound out the miles.  I’ve adjusted my “race pace” expectations since I first started training (around week 10 I wanted to hit 8:45 minute mile splits during pace runs.  Oh, silly me.), and I was thrilled to hit my target on the nose.  For my second mile, I settled into a Zen like state where my running felt almost effortless.  If only every mile could be like that!

Thursday:  Butt Bible, lower body Level 1—20 minutes

Friday:  Rest day

I was supposed to run again on Friday, but it was a bit chilly and I was fatigued from a long work week, so I skipped my planned workout (no regrets).  I had family visiting over the weekend, and we explored much of the city on foot, so my rest days weren’t true rest days.  I was definitely well fed and energized by my company!

Saturday:  Rest day

Sunday:  Running, long, 12.05 miles @ 10:15 minute mile pace—2:03:30 hours

I approached Sunday’s group run with trepidation.  I knew that I wouldn’t be able to keep pace with the 9:30 minute mile rabbits like I did during my disastrous 20-turned-18-miler, and I was a little nervous once it was announced we would once again be tackling the marathon course’s big hill past the Philadelphia Zoo.  I know my River Trail by heart, but this particular route is one with several unfamiliar turns (the last time I ran the same segment was on September 7), and I was afraid I would get lost if I fell too far behind the pacers. 

Thankfully, once I turned on 34th Street, I recognized landmarks, and I ran the entire route without losing direction.  I even found a pace buddy for most of the 12 miles!  It was nice to have company and to know that the events of the past 2 weeks were out of the ordinary.  I may be slow, but I am capable of conquering the marathon distance.  

Ack, it’s coming up so soon!

This week my taper takes me down to 19 miles on the schedule.  I’m liking this part of training!!

Couch potato 4eva,

Tomato Face

Monday, November 3, 2014

Marathon Monday: 2014 Fall Marathon Training Weeks 14 & 15

Hey y’all.  It’s been a disappointing past two weeks in marathon training land.  In good news: yay, I’ve approached taper time!  In bad news, my planned training got torpedoed thanks to laziness, fatigue, Mother Nature and illness.  As much as it hurts, let’s relive it: 

Week 14

Monday:  Yoga for Runners—36 minutes
+ foam rolling—5 minutes

Tuesday:  Running, easy, 5.04 miles @ 9:46 minute mile- 49:14 minutes

I felt nice and relaxed on this run—pretty darn good for so recently having run a hard half marathon!  I should have known the news was too good to be true…

Wednesday:  Rest day

Thursday:  Running, tempo, 5 miles @ 9:44 minute mile

I struggled a bit during this group run.  My peers were much faster than I, especially in my post-race daze, and I was at the back of the pack.  I was okay breaking away—I just wanted to stay loose.  My right shin started to get cranky at the end of the run, so it was good that I didn’t push too hard earlier.

Friday: Rest day

I was supposed to run, but the air was damp and my right leg was still feeling weird, so I skipped it.  I felt so guilty missing yet another training run, but I knew that my body needed recovery from the half, especially with a 20 miler scheduled for the weekend.

Saturday:  Butt Bible, upper body Level 2 with 2 & 3 lb. weights—30 minutes

Sunday:  Running, long, 18 miles @ 10:02 minute mile pace—3:00:27 hours
+ Yoga for Runners—36 minutes

I already thoroughly analyzed this terrible, horrible, no good run, and I even went to my doctor for a checkup to make sure I wasn’t dying.  In good news, I’m pretty sure my issues were not cardiac related, as I previously thought.  In bad news, a different contagion (as well as overexertion) was most likely responsible for my distress…

Week 15

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: Rest days

I initially shrugged off my doctor’s suggestion to skip any runs until further testing, but even I knew I needed a rest day after Sunday’s hot mess.  Come Tuesday, however, I was feeling fatigued, and I thought, okay, just one more day.  By Wednesday, my throat was crazy sore, and I was starting to get the sniffles.  Thursday, I had a full blown cold.  To top it all off, I just felt awful overall.  I’m normally all for pushing myself through illness, within reason (and sometimes, without—Broad Street 2014, anybody?), but I could sense that it would be foolish to run in my current condition.

Friday:  Running, easy, 5.57 miles @ 10:15 minute mile pace—57:07 minutes

Feeling a bit better (and knowing that the weekend’s weather forecast sucked), I tentatively tested out my running fitness.  Even though I had slowed considerably from normal, I felt basically okay, save for some tightness in my chest.  I eagerly anticipated my 5k the next day, even though I knew I wouldn’t be setting any PRs…

Saturday:  Rest day

Sigh.  I awoke Saturday to bitter cold and pouring rain.  Worse yet, I still felt sick, sick, sick.  I really wanted to race, but I knew I would be crippling myself by forcing my already weak body out into that weather.  I slept in and had nightmares about missing my race the rest of my morning.  At least I would have another shot at 20 miler redemption the next day…

Sunday:  Rest day

WHYYYYYYYY???????????  Sunday morning, I wasn’t much better off than I was Saturday.  I was still sick, and now there were winds over 30 mph with gusts over 40 mph (New York City Marathon runners, my hat is off to you.  I don’t know how you all did it.).  Again, I sacrificed training and personal goals for my health.  Running on Sunday would have done absolutely nothing to better my fitness, but it could have sent me to the hospital.

Which leads me to now.  I’m 98% confident that I didn’t have any cardiac issues the previous Sunday (phew!), but I’m not convinced that my present illness is just the common cold.  The beast I fear?

Ack, nooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My symptoms and pattern of illness this time around are eerily mirroring April’s bout.
I am hoping hard that I do not, in fact, have bronchitis.  I’m basically Kate Winslet in Contagion at this point. 

Tomorrow I’m going to give running another go.  Wish me luck!!!

~Tomato Face