My new found interest in meteorology

Race week is here! And I am suddenly interested in the weather forecast for this Saturday. I am checking on the hour to see if there is any change in the forecast. Spoiler alert: it is meant to be in the low 50s and raining. This is a little bit of a flashback for me. My running story basically began a couple of months after I turned 30 back in 2012 (and if you can do math I’ve just given away my age). I decided for my thirtieth year that I would run a half marathon. It seemed like I was the only one in my friend group who hadn’t run a half marathon. I signed up for a race in October and started increasing the frequency of my runs in November before starting Hal Higdon’s novice half marathon training plan in January. I followed this plan to a T – literally not missing a single run. Come race day I was as prepared as a first timer could have hoped. Nervous to run 13.1 miles for the first time. The one thing that I had not prepared for was the weather.

A couple of days before the race I received an email from the race organizers warning about high temperatures and advising us to think about our hydration. Then Utah May weather happened and suddenly it was forecast to rain. And it did. A lot. Non stop. While we were waiting at the start line it was a light drizzle, but on cue as soon as we put our gear bags in the truck it started to pour and I was soaked before the race started. And it did not let up for the entire race. I was so wet that my shoes were squelching at every step. My legs were numb, and I tried to negotiate around the most flooded part of the road. It was pretty miserable. To make matters worse, I finished slightly faster than I had been expecting (no – that isn’t the bad thing) but my husband was late to find me (surprisingly he didn’t want to wait around in the rain to watch people finish) and they had totally screwed up the bag collection so that I couldn’t find my dry clothes for over half an hour. I don’t think I stopped shaking from the cold until half way through my very hot post race shower.

So this Saturday I’m returning to the site of this first half marathon – this time to take on the full. It looks like my Ogden curse will continue because after a week of pleasant temperatures it is forecast to rain. Again. Right now, I have no idea if this will be a couple of showers later in the day (fingers crossed) or non-stop torrential downpour like my last experience here. Start praying to the rain gods that we’ll be spared the worst of it!

On the plus side -> after last week’s struggles I am finally starting to feel good. Sunday’s 10 miler felt amazing. I managed to nail even splits on my recovery run (and actually keep it slow). And today I got in a couple of quick miles before breakfast. Now all that stands between me and my marathon is another rest day and a two mile shake out on Friday morning.

Sat: Rest

Sun: 10 miles at 8.43 min/mile pace

Mon: 3.9 miles at 9.29 min/mile pace (9.27/9.26/9.30/9.32)

Tues: Rest

Wed: 4 miles at 8.18 min/mile pace (8.49/8.08/7.43/8.34)

This week has been all about rest, extra sleep and carbs (rice/potatoes/pasta). I don’t really get the taper crazies. The only thing that happens is that I get extra freaked out by any slight pain, so I have been wearing my compression socks night and day. But as of right now my body has no complaints -> which is a miracle.

I do have some goals for the race but am trying to go into it as relaxed as possible. My worries about a tight calf went away after drinking some champagne at a work function yesterday afternoon. So here goes.

A. Finish in one piece.

I think after this training cycle getting to the finish line without injury would be a total victory. I know that marathons hurt and I’m ready for that but actual injury – no thanks.

B. Enjoy it.

This one might be a little weather dependent. Back in February/March I couldn’t run. On Saturday I plan on running 26.2 miles. That is an achievement in itself. I need to enjoy the process. Luckily, and because of my shortened training schedule I didn’t suffer any burnt-out while training for this race and I am excited (if a little apprehensive) to get out there and do it.

C. Run even splits.

Really I should say don’t hit the wall too hard. In my first marathon I managed a 2 minute negative split and I would like to take the first couple of miles to warm-up and then keep as consistent a pace as I can manage.

D. Time goal.

You knew there had to be one in here somewhere, right? These are a little funny for me – putting it out there and hoping you don’t end up looking like an idiot. In reality I am hoping to finish sub-4. My plan is to run between 8.50-9.00 minute miles. The race is pretty much all downhill but not too steep so it’s a perfect course to run fast. Looking at my long run paces (a 20 miler on the flat at 9.13 min/miles) I think it is possible. But this is my D goal so if it doesn’t happen I won’t be that sad about it.

Wish me luck! And no rain.

And good luck to everyone running this weekend.

Happy 2015!

3 days in and so far so good. We celebrated New Year’s Eve with a half day at work followed by a trip up to one of our local ski resorts to watch their torchlight parade. Basically, they let skiers ride the lift half way up and then ski back down with flares, lights and glo-sticks. It looks pretty cool and there were even some fireworks – although they were a little disappointing compared to last year.

My friend took some cool pictures to capture the whole thing.

My friend took some cool pictures to capture the whole thing.

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Afterwards with hit a party and stayed up to the crazy hour of 1.30 AM! About 3 hours past my usual bedtime – which meant I didn’t get out of bed until 10.30 on Thursday morning. I seriously can’t remember the last time I slept in so late. But it was great. 2015 started out pretty mellow but J and I did manage to get our butts outside for a 5.5ish mile run in the sunshine (and 23F……..which no longer feels cold to me). Then back into our PJs for more lounging around the house.

Friday started with a solo run. 1 mile to a nearby park where I tried not to wipe out on packed down snow (clear your sidewalks people!). Then my first attempt at a speed workout thingy since my injury. 2 x 1 mile repeats with a mile in between and then a trudge home on slippy sidewalk. I’ve never really done formal speedwork – I tend to like longish tempo runs when training for my half and full marathons last year. And a mile in between is a little longer than orthodox but it’s a step forward. Mile 1: 7.10 Rest mile: 8.03 Mile 2: 7.05. 5.15 miles total.

I was actually pretty surprised at these paces. It’s pretty similar to what I was doing in the summer. It felt uncomfortable but not impossible. And I’m pretty sure there’s something left in the tank. I hope so at least, because the reason that I even thought of doing this workout is because I’ve entered my first ever road 5K! It’s on Feb 7th, it’s close to my house and the course is pretty flat. If you look at my PR page you’ll see a 5K time (23.33 – I think). That was from a trail 5K I did last summer……….1 week after a half marathon……and coming back of an injury (ha – what’s new!). That particular race was all kinds of awful. I went out too fast and was introduced to the misery that is the 5K. So time for a re-match. Honestly, I’m not sure what to expect. My super-secret-don’t tell anyone goal is to break 22 minutes. But any PR would be nice – weather permitting of course.

This race is part of a series – 5, 10 and 15K – which is meant to culminate in the Salt Lake Half marathon in April (which I won’t be running – I’ll be in Boston watching J run that marathon). $75 for the three races plus a $20 gift card to spend on any Brooks product in our local running store (which is hosting the series). Sign me up……..wait….Anyway it seems like the perfect way to get some race experience. And should count as my weekly ‘pace’ runs as part of my marathon training, which starts at the end of this month.

I also signed up for a half marathon. What can I say? I was procrastinating at work and bing! got an email offering $10 off race registration of at the Canyonlands half marathon in March. I know a bunch of people who have run races in Moab (they have three half marathons per year: Canyonlands, Thelma and Louise (!) and the Other Half, plus a 10K in December) and they all get glowing reviews. FYI: Moab is in an amazingly beautiful location and I ran my favorite ever trail run there last February. So, I am fully booked until May. Bring. It. On.

2015 race schedule so far;

Feb 7th: RUN SLC 5K

March 7th: RUN SLC 10K

March 21st: Canyonlands Half Marathon

April 4th: RUN SLC 15K

May 16th: Ogden Marathon

As for the rest of the year. I’m planning on a fall half marathon. And there are a couple of trail races that I have my eye on during the summer (Park City Trail series 5, 10, 15K and half marathon, and the Jupiter Peak steeplechase) but I don’t want to commit just yet.

The one downside (OK – there are way more downsides) of training for a marathon during the summer is that it sets a pretty tight schedule. You need to do those long runs to make it through the race – so weekends become centred around your training. And while I really enjoy running and was so glad to have trained for my first full marathon last summer, it inevitably meant that I had to miss out on our regularly scheduled summer activities. Newsflash: Utah is awesome in the summer. This year I want to camp, backpack, mess around on rivers, hike and maybe even do activities that involve heights and ropes. So no fall marathon for me. I’m choosing adventure this summer instead.

Watch out for a better-late-than-never goals post next week!

Reflections on training for my first marathon

Yesterday marked the final training run in my 18 week marathon cycle. A chilly 4 mile tempo run. 2 miles at 7.14 min/male pace sandwiched with a downhill warm-up mile and an uphill recovery mile (7.41 min/mile average). I have a two mile shakeout run scheduled for Saturday and then M-Day – the Twin Cities marathon – my first ever 26.2 miles.

J has agreed to run this race with me (he has already qualified for and been accepted into the Boston marathon and this one is just for fun), and last night he asked me what pace I was planning on running. For me, as a first-time marathoner, this is a surprisingly difficult question to answer. I’ve trained hard over the last 18 weeks and want to show that in my time. Personally, it’s not enough just to finish. I need to do “well” but I’m not exactly sure what that means. On the other hand my major freak is hitting the all – and especially hitting it early by going out too fast. I had the pleasure (!) of experiencing this on my first 20 miler and do not want this to happen with another 6ish miles to go.

I started to look back over my training schedule. I followed Hal Higdon’s Intermediate plan (Hal has gotten me through my first 3 half marathons).

Monday: Rest or strength training day

Tuesday: Slow, recovery run. These varied from 3-5.25 miles and generally ranged in pace 8.50-9.20 min/miles.

Wednesday: For the first couple of weeks I took these easy. I ran a half marathon on the second weekend and was coming back from injury. But from week 6 onwards this became a steady state run. Ranging from 5.5-9.3 miles with paces averaging 7.50 min/miles.

Thursday: For 10/18 weeks this was a morning trail run that was super fun mainly because I had a running buddy which definitely makes the time go by so much faster.

Friday: Rest day

Saturday: I ran four races during this time, all of which fell on Saturdays;

Utah Valley Half Marathon 01.40.35

Park City Trail Series 5K 00.23.33

Park City Trail Series 10K 00.54.01

Park City Trail Series 15K 01.19.41

There had to be a couple of switching things around to make room for awesome vacations to Great Basin National Park and white water rafting. And of course the Hood to Coast relay which I realized I have yet to do a recap on. Oops. Six of the other Saturdays were also fast (for me). Ranging from 5-8 miles around 7.45-8.05 min/mile pace.

One of the things I wanted to practice during my training was to get used to running long runs on tired legs. So the Park City Trail races and my Saturday fast runs were followed by Sunday long runs. I peaked with two 20 milers but also had 15, 15, 17, and 18 mile runs in too. The average pace was around 8.55 min/mile. Peak week hit 45 miles but over the 18 weeks I was averaging 35ish miles for a total of 550ish miles total. Can you tell I’m a data nerd?

I feel pretty prepared. I made all of my scheduled long runs. I only missed one run due to injury (way back in week 3). And I think I’m as ready as I can be. But I’m still running a new distance for the first time and am a little totally nervous about it. On the plus side – I’ll be running a pretty flat course at sea level on fully rested legs. I have friends who have run this race multiple times and tell me the crowd support is amazing so I’m hoping for a race day adrenaline boost. And it looks like it’ll be pretty cool temperatures.

Using a race time predictor with my half marathon times (all around 1.40 -/+ a couple of minutes), it suggest that I should be able to run 3.30. I feel that this is way too ambitious for a first marathon, so I’m thinking around 3.45 (8.35 min/mile pace) if everything goes perfectly. I’m pretty confident that a sub-4 is on the cards but who knows – the marathon is a crazy beast.

I knew going into training that it would be tough, time-consuming and I would have to sacrifice some of my other hobbies (hello dusty yoga mat). But overall I’ve enjoyed it. Sure I’ve had some bad runs and a lot of mornings where I have not wanted to get up and run 8 or 9 miles before work. I guess what I’ve learned is that I really enjoy running. And following a schedule really works for me. It helps me get focused – I leave my house knowing exactly what workout I’ll be doing that day – distance, pace, hills etc. I like knowing I’m getting better even if those improvements are small and almost unnoticeable from day to day. I’ve read before that the actual race is just the victory lap for all those 6 AM starts and 3 hour long runs. I guess I’ll find out on Sunday!

Any last minute marathon/pacing advice to share?

 

My first 5K race!

No, this isn’t a flashback Friday where I recount my first ever race experience and how the 5K was a launchpad that set me on my path as a runner. My first race was a half marathon (!) and since then I’ve complete two more halfs, two 10Ks (one road and one trail) and a trail 15K. But I’ve never run a 5K race. Ever.

And it’s not like they are a rare event out here in SLC. Every Saturday I run past a 5K in one of our two local parks. So why haven’t I run one yet? Well, I’m a little cheap and I like more bang for my buck – at my last 10K you could pay $30 to run 6.2 miles or $25 to run 3.1 miles. That’s a no-brainer right there! Plus, 5Ks hurt! When I do tempo runs at 5K pace they are not fun. I seriously question what I am doing. At least in a half marathon you can ease yourself into the HURTZONE, and have a couple (or more) miles at a comfortable pace. But, 3.1 miles – they are all going to hurt.

This summer I signed up for a trail race series – 5, 10 and 15K. Tomorrow is race number 1: the 5K! And that means I’m guaranteed a PR! Woohoo! I’m kinda hoping for a 24 min time but we’ll see – there’s about 250 ft of elevation gain (almost half of which is in the first mile). These races are super fun and have a great raffle so you are almost guaranteed to come away with some kind of running goodie. Race recap on Monday!

The half marathon was only last weekend but seems so long ago. I did just find out that we’ll be getting all of our race photos for free – this is the first race I’ve done that has that option. I haven’t seen them yet but hopefully there’s not too much running-bitchface going on.

I spent an hour on both Sunday and Monday stretching and rolling. My calves are incredibly tight and are causing me foot issues – tight achilles, random pain at the bottom of my foot. I did manage a  2 mile recovery run on Sunday and have been diligently rolling and stretching all week.

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I even packed my stick to bring to work today. Lucky I’m wearing long pants so nobody can see the one-legged calve sleeve that I’m rocking.

Monday: 1 hour stretching/rolling

Tuesday: 3.5 mile run at 8.28 min/mile pace

Wednesday: 5.5 miles at 8.35 min/mile pace

Thursday: 4.2 mile on ellipitcal (equivalent to one whole episode of Scandal)

Friday: 50 min strength workout

By Wednesday my foot was feeling pretty crappy so I swapped out running for cross-training on Thursday and am feeling a gazillion (that’s a number, right?) better.

I’ve also had some pretty good eats. Orange chicken (low in calories but tastes so good).

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And this quinoa tabbouleh recipe which was amazing. Still not happy with the falafel.

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Two race weekends in a row! What was I thinking?

 

 

 

Race preview: Utah Valley Half Marathon

This Saturday I’ll be running my third half marathon. It’s the least prepared I’ve felt for any of my races. I thought I could build on my base from the Salt Lake City half back in April and cruise to a new PR.

Ha! My body had other ideas. How about foot tendonitis? I think I need to start a running injury card – sciatica, bursitis, tendonitis – you gotta collect them all! For once, I did the sensible thing – listened to my body and took a full two weeks away from running, including five (!) whole days of complete rest.

And it totally worked. Tendonitis is gone. I do have a tight left Achilles and random right new pain but nothing that will prevent me from running. And the next physio appointment is booked. Overall, I’m feeling a lot more optimistic than I could have hoped for a few weeks ago. I have managed two 10+ mile runs and a couple of 9ish miles too. And even a 5 mile tempo run on Saturday.

I also somehow complete an 11 miler on the elliptical. I think there should be some kind of award for that.

This is also week two of my marathon training program and that is my main focus right now. So I haven’t really tapered this week – same mileage but all at a comfortable pace.

Tuesday: 3.3 miles at 9 min/mile pace

Wednesday:5.2 miles at 9.08 min/mile pace

Thursday Trail Run: 4.1 miles at 10 min/mile pace (only 435 ft elevation gain this time)

Friday is a rest day. I’m taking a half day and traveling down to Provo to pick up my bib (and eat fish tacos). J is running the full and hoping for a speedy time. Then it’s pasta for dinner and an early night. We will have to leave our house at 3 AM. Not fun but we need to catch buses to travel to the start line. This is the price you pay for a downhill race through a canyon. And totally normal if you come to run a race out in Utah. Saturday afternoon will be nap time.

As a bonus temperatures are dropping 20 degrees by Saturday so the temperature at the start is likely to be around 40F. Brr! – for standing around waiting for the race to start but pretty darn perfect for running.

I think I mentioned previously that this race was my original goal half marathon race for the year. I really wanted to break 1.40 this year. Luckily, Salt Lake City went better than expected and this monkey is off my back. So, how to approach this race? A PR is not going to happen, but I still want to get the most of a prepaid and fully supported long run down a scenic canyon.

1. Negative splits

I actually managed to run a negative split for my first half marathon (my first mile was 8.30 min). And I finished the race feeling pretty good. Salt Lake – not so much. The last two miles were pretty hellish. So be conservative for the first half and finish strong is my number one goal.

2. Have fun

This is a net downhill race in a scenic canyon. I want to take it in. I recently got s SPIbelt and am planning on bringing my phone. Not going to guarantee I’ll take a whole bunch of photos (my competitive nature will kick in at some point) but I want to run with a smile on my face.

3. Remember marathon training

This is my long run for the week. And I would like to be able to walk up and downstairs on Sunday. Start slow and run by feel. And be ready to get back to marathon training by Tuesday.

4. Time?

I still have a time goal. Anything sub 1.50 would be nice and the closer to 1.45 the better,

5. Biggest goal

Watch J finish his third marathon and get him back home in one piece. Once I finish my race I will magically transform into uber supportive girlfriend and get him back to the house in one piece.

We have been spending this week carb-loading. (And no snail sightings).

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Salmon fishcakes with kale salad and pickled radishes. I am not a huge fan of kale (I know – bad healthy lifestyle blogger) but this salad was legit.

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Another recipe from the same website. And I’m pretty sure this is vegan too – if you’re into that. I used komatsuna that we got in our CSA. It tastes like spinach and kale made babies. Not my favorite (a little bitter) but super healthy.

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Finally, I made arugula-basil pesto. This one has a chilli flakes to give it a little heat. We had it with gnocchi, asparagus and a gigantic garlic ciabatta. Glycogen levels are maxed out right now.