Half way there…….

It is exactly two months until my very first marathon……..Agh!

So far, I’ve completed 9 full weeks using a modified version of Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 1 plan. It’s gone pretty well. July was my highest mileage month ever – 133 miles exactly. And this past week was my highest mileage week ever – 39 miles. My knee is feeling better (check-in with the physiotherapist this week) and other than feeling a little more tired/hungry than normal I’m pretty pleased.

Monday: Strength workout

Tuesday: 5.35 miles at 9.13 min/mile pace

Wednesday: 7 miles at 7.53 min/mile pace + yoga

Thursday: 4.55 mile trail run at 10.17 min/mile pace

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 15.05 miles at 8.53 min/mile pace

Sunday: 7 mile trail run at 9.11 min/mile pace

Now let’s talk about long runs. I’ve managed a 14, 15 and a 16 miler. And they have been hard. They really seem to be the workouts that I’m struggling with most. And I don’t think it’s a physical struggle. Sure, my legs are a little tired at the end but more than anything I just want it to be over – and this feeling usually kicks in about 2 miles before I’m scheduled to be done. My legs are still moving and I’m not breathing heavily but my mind is exhausted.

This is a little surprising to me. I’m at heart a pretty solitary person and having hours with just my thoughts for company has never bothered me before. But these runs…………I’m struggling – but I’ve done them. I’ve kept going when I wanted to stop and that has to count for something. Plus I know race day will be completely different. I’m running Twin Cities, which has amazing crowd support for the whole course + the other 20000 other runners.

In other (TMI) news – it looks as if I’ve had my first toenail casualty. Right foot – toe next to big toe. It’s dead. Am I a real runner now?

On Sunday I met up with a bunch of my Hood to Coast team mates for a trail run and brunch. We are flying out to Portland in a little over two weeks! I wasn’t quite sure how my legs would feel after my long run, but at mile 3.5 they felt surprisingly good so I picked up the pace for the second half. This was a great run.

This week is scheduled to be my first ever 40+ mile week. Gulp. This includes a 15K trail race (and my first race volunteering experience) on Saturday and a planned 17 miler on Sunday. I also have to fit in some birthday celebrations – this may take the form of afternoon napping.

In food news – we got a delivery of these Clif bars. I tasted them at the Utah Valley expo and they are definitely the best flavor out there. I had one as my post long run snack on Saturday.


We also got a bumper CSA package – including a giant bag of apricots. And a bag of heirloom tomatoes.


Some of these ingredients got salsa-fied on Sunday.


Weekly recap!

I’m back and survived four days on the Colorado river. I am putting together a post on this awesome trip but here’s a teaser photo (taken by irenejean). And yes – it really was this pretty and so much fun.


Last week was week #8 of my marathon training. I moved things around so that it would be a cutback week. I figured I wouldn’t get any running done on the river – so no long run. Instead I added some miles to my midweek runs. And it was actually pretty nice to take a mini vacation from marathon training. My next cutback week coincides with the Hood to Coast Relay and I’m psyched about that already (both visiting Oregon and running the race).

Monday: Strength training

Tuesday: 5.3 miles at 8.57 min/mile pace

Wednesday: 8.15 miles at 8.16 min/mile pace

Thursday: 5.4 miles at 8.50 min/mile pace

Tuesdays have become my easy run day – a way to get my legs moving after hard weekends. This run on Wednesday was my longest midweek run ever and it went pretty well. I’ve been running these at a decent pace – starting slow and building up to some sub-8 min miles. Usually I am ready to be DONE by the end.

I didn’t have time to hit the trails on Thursday – we were leaving for Colorado at 8.30 AM, so I decided to run some of the hills near my house. I live in a pretty hilly area (earthquake faultline!?!) so it’s easy to do hill repeats. Each hill is a little over a quarter mile and about 100 ft in elevation gain. Seven repeats for a little over 700 ft elevation gain.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday were filled with spent floating on the river, eating, drinking, swimming and hitting some white water.

Now back to my regularly scheduled training plan and trying to figure out how it’s possible to put on 5lbs in 4 days.


Everyone should live in Utah!

Well – at least for this week! Thursday is Pioneer Day here in the Beehive state, which is our state holiday to celebrate the first pioneers (duh!) to settle here. It is a big deal – way bigger than July 4th. And also the perfect time to visit one of our neighboring states for a mini vacation. So, on Thursday we are heading with four of our friends for a four day river trip to float/camp/white-water raft down the Colorado river. I am beyond excited to go.


We’re lucky to have met so many cool friends in Utah that have let us tag along on so many cool adventures – rock climbing, canyoneering. Things I never in a million years thought I’d be doing…….mainly because I’m a big ol’ scaredy cat.

This also means that I will not be able to run at all for four days! OMG – how will I cope? Well – I’ve already scheduled this week as a cut back week and will be getting three good runs in (adding one mile to each scheduled distance) before we head away. As much as I want to do well in this marathon – sometimes life gets its awesomeness in the way.

This decision was made a lot easier by the great training week I had last week (week 7/18 for Twin Cities).

Mon: Yoga

Tues: 4.3 miles at 9.11 min/mile pace

Wed: 7 miles at 8.14 min/mile pace + yoga

Thurs: 4.6 mile at 9.50 min/mile trail run

Fri: Rest

Sat: 6.2 miles at 7.31 min/mile pace

Sun: 16 miles at 8.50 min/mile pace

Total mileage: 38.1 miles and my longest mileage week ever.

A couple of things stood out for me this week. I did a fast run on Saturday (tire out those legs) at a moderate-hard pace. A couple of miles were at 7.20 pace. I remember training for my half marathon back in April and doing some 1.5-2 mile tempo runs and really struggling to hold this pace. So being able to do it for 10K was pretty special. And my time for this run was pretty much my 10K PR!

Sunday was long run day and the first time I’ve ever attempted to run 16 miles in one go. J has a race in Park City in a couple of weeks and wanted to run some of the course. I decided to join him and run on the Rail Trail which is a pretty flat* trail that leaves right nearby where he would be running. The morning was perfect – 60 F and overcast. And this time I remembered to fuel before I started my run. I skipped out on this last week which probably contribute to the yuckiness that was that run.

The trail was half paved/half dirt road with a slight downhill for the first half (about 400 ft loss in elevation that I would have to run back up on the second half). It ran mostly through farmland with a couple of gates you had to open (and close) on the way. I did notice some dried cow pats on the trail but no cows. That is – until I was at about mile 11 and came across a cow feeding two calves right on the middle of the trail. With nobody around and in the middle of a field with a pissed off looking cow I was a little freaked out. So I slowed to a walk and ducked down off the trail to creep past the cow and hoping it wouldn’t charge. I made it through that animal encounter only to come across a bunch of geese a couple of miles later. Same approach – slow down and try not to get attacked. And just to add to the adventure – I saw a snake at about mile 16. I do not like snakes. But I survived.

More importantly – my muscles and knee were pretty OK. And I wasn’t tired later on. I was wearing my trail shoes though, which I think are a half size to small so I had a couple of feet issues. And that is a first for me. By Monday everything seemed back to normal. So I was pretty pleased with myself.

We also spent most of Saturday in the mountains – this time at Snowbird Ski Resort in Little Cottonwood Canyon. This was the venue for the Speedgoat 50K ultra race – basically running up and down (and up and down) some pretty steep and technical trails. We had our camp chairs and hung out to watch some amazing athletes finish.

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The winning man finished in 5.12 hrs and seriously looked like he was out for a casual jog. Amazing! We saw the first 20 guys finish and stayed til we saw the winning women (at about 6.30 – these ladies looked strong).

On Saturday night we watched the Grand Budapest Hotel (quirky and fun) and J made the best burgers ever – beef burgers made with Cremini mushrooms and topped with a fried egg, arugula and an amazing – ketchup/mustard sauce. He needs to cook more often.


Tonight we are celebrating with a friend who just completed her MBA. Then tomorrow I just have to focus on making it through my workday and packing for a trip. On Thursday with hit the water!

How do you celebrate your state/national holiday? Who’s coming to Utah on their next vacation?

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.


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).


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



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




And so it begins……

I never thought I would ever sign up to run a marathon – EVER. But I find myself 5 days into my 126 days (that’s 18 weeks folks) marathon training plan. How did that happen?

I have met J at the finish line of his two marathons – and let me tell you that seeing someone after they have pushed themselves through 26.2 miles is the best way to discourage anyone from thinking that running a marathon might be a fun thing to do. The same way that spending a couple of hours with a screaming newborn is probably going to hush up your biological clock for a while.

This is combined with hours of your weekend spent running/recovering from your room and sacrificing some other aspect of your life – no time to yoga/rock climb/whatever floats your boat. Early nights. Can’t make that trip cos I need to run 18 miles on Sunday. It just seemed like too much – time, hurt, sacrifice.

But here I am looking at the next couple of weeks of Hal Higdon’s Intermediate Marathon Plan I. (Looking beyond week 7 is still a little scary). I’m a mixture of nervous – I’ve never run more than 13.3 miles or longer than 1hr 45 mins – and excited.



I know that this will be incredibly challenging and – if I can make it all the way through – incredibly rewarding. Thinking about crossing the line at Twin Cities is going to be a recurrent image when I’m struggling through some bad runs.

Week one has been pretty mellow so far – not much more than I’ve been doing recently. My problems (and I use that term loosely) will come trying to fit long runs in with a half marathon next week, a river trip in July, a Hood to Coast Relay, and a wedding in Ireland followed by a honeymoon in Italy (I know – first world problems!).

Monday: Crazy busy 11 hour workday. So I treated myself to a post-work gym session. Yes – I wrote “treated”. I might have a problem

Tuesday: Run number 1! 3.3 miles at 8.40 min/mile pace. This felt hard. It was warm (73F – don’t laugh) for this runner.

Wed: 5.8 miles at 8.19 min/mile pace. So much better. Great run on National Running Day.

Thurs: 4.6 trail miles at 9.46 min/mile pace. 800 ft of elev’ation.

Fri: Strengths session after work.

This plan has you running both Saturday and Sunday. The aim is to get you used to running on tired legs – so Saturdays have runs at race pace (not sure what that should be yet) and long run on Sunday.

In more running news – we sorted out our Hood to Coast Relay legs! You’re looking at the anchor runner right here – Number 12. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to running this race. Go Van 2!

This week was also the start of our CSA. We get ours from a local non-profit that uses urban gardens to grow all their produce. I came home to four giant bags of greens along with a bunch of radishes. Lots of salads coming our way. Plus pickled radishes – cos that’s how I like to eat ’em.

And last night for dessert I has some chocolate brownie ice cream with these cookies.


They are ridiculously easy to make – mash 2 ripe bananas, add a cup of rolled oats and a 1/4 cup of chocolate chips. Put tablespoon-sized dollops on a baking sheet at 350 F for 15 mins and done!

Weekly recap






Saturday started out with a double digit run. Foot was fine. Knee was meh. But the run felt great.

The first 2.5 miles were on trail – and still no rattlesnake/tarantula sightings – followed by 8 mostly downhill miles on the road. The half I’m schedule to run in 2 (!) weeks is net downhill and I want to make sure my quads can cope. I took it pretty easy (8.45 min/mile pace), took my chocolate Gu at mile 6 and finished pretty strong. I even managed to avoid getting sunburnt – by avoiding the bright side of the street and hitting the dark side of the road.

A good mornings work. Followed by refueling with my favorite foods – chocolate milk, berries + yoghurt, and my signature egg/avocado/bacon toasted sandwich.


I then did my PT exercises in front of this.


Saturday afternoon/evening was spent at a friends wedding. So much fun.


Beautiful venue.

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Pretty! And the food was so good.

This was a late night for me but I still managed to meet some friends (and Hood to Coast team mates) for a Sunday morning trail run. This was actually in the same canyon as the wedding. 5.50 nice and slow recovery miles. I’m really digging running with other people – it definitely makes the miles go quicker.

Total mileage for the week: 25.85 miles (I am back!)

May mileage: 57.8 miles

May was not the greatest month for me – with two weeks completely free of running. But I’m trying to be more sensible about dealing with injuries – resting early and trying not to run through pain. And this totally worked for my (self-diagnosed) foot tendonitis.

However, it this derailed my half marathon training plan. I had hoped to PR this race but this layoff gave me the perfect opportunity to re-evaluate my goals for this race (no PR – but controlled and sensible race pace) and focus on putting the fun back in running. So hitting more of Utah’s scenic trails and badgering people to come run with me.

Next up: June and the start of marathon training! Holy crap – I am totally intimidated by the thought of running 26.2 miles. I need as much advice as I can get. And maybe a new knee/glute.

What do you wish you knew before you started training for your first marathon?


And I’m back……….

I’ve taken a week away from blogging mainly due to a major work-related presentation that I had to give last week. It went pretty well and I got some positive feedback so I can cross that off my list of things to stress over. Done and done.

The other big news is that I can run again! After two weeks off from running including 5 completely exercise-free days I was dying to get back at it. And with no foot pain to report (just knee pain which I’ve been dealing with for most of the year).

Mon: 3 miles on the treadmill at 8.35 min/mile pace + 1.5 miles on the elliptical (because I can’t quit you just now).

Tues: Strength training (hello legs – how you doing!)

Wed: 3 mile tempo “run” on the elliptical + 2.5 miles on the treadmill at 8.35 min/mile

Thurs: 5ish mile trail run (see below)

Fri: Rest

Sat: 8.77 mile run at 8.27 min/mile

Sun: Climbing + 3.3 mile recover run at 8.55 min/mile

Mon: 4.25 mile trail run at 9.03 min/mile

So the good news is that I can run again! Woohoo! And I’ve missed it so much. It rained non-stop for my long run on Saturday. My shoes were squelchy and soaked through after about 5 minutes but I didn’t care. It just felt so good to be out there. I did get to exchange some “I can’t believe we’re out here running in this weather” looks with all the runners I met during my run but secretly I was happy to be getting my miles in, and convincing myself that I will be able to run this half marathon on June 14th.

My first outdoor run was on Thursday. And in my usual go big or go home style I opted for a 5ish mile (my absence from running meant that I could no longer work my Garmin for the first half mile) trail run. This was done as part of a group run organized by the people who run the Park City Trail Series. I ran a couple of these races last summer and am signed up for the 5, 10 and 15K races this year. The races are always a lot of fun and they have the best raffles ever. At the group run this week I won a packet of pro-bar chews. J got a brand new visor. I also managed to find a friend to run with! She’s new to running but is pretty speedy and is down to run a weekly trail run near work. Win win win. The run itself had a little over 700 ft of elevation gain with half of that being in a single mile. It was tough.

Sunday’s recovery run was nice and easy around one of the nearby parks. It was the afternoon and it seemed like the whole of Salt Lake was grilling with their families. So nice to get out and feel part of this.

Monday involved a couple of hours of work but since I had most of the afternoon off, I decided to head out to a trail that I love. It has amazing views, and for a Utah trail run isn’t that steep or calf-killing. 663 ft of elevation gain but pretty evenly spread out. And gorgeous scenery and weather. The only downside was the 20 mins it took to get past the fee collections station.I guess Salt Lakers decided this canyon was the place to be today.


Nice and shaded to beat the heat.



Pretty flowers.


Looking down towards Salt Lake City.



Stream crossing.



I think this my be one of my favorite trails to run in the valley.




That sliver of gray is the road you drive up. The trail is at about 6000 ft.


To me, it’s a little alpine.



The turnaround point.

This weekend I also tried out my new Spibelt for the first time. It felt fine on my long run but the next day I had a pain in my back from the exact area it was sitting on. For the trail run, I swung it around so it looked like a fanny-pack/bum-bag and it felt much better. But pretty pleased with my purchase.

Weekly recap

I can’t believe it’s been over a week since my half marathon and it’s almost the end of April! Yikes! Where does the time go?

This has been a pretty easy week for me. A reverse taper – nothing too hard running wise and lots of stretching, rolling and strength work.

Monday: 4 mile recovery run at 9.07 min/mile pace. I think this helped loosen up my legs. I felt great afterwards!

Tuesday: Strength work at the gym

Wednesday: 4.3 miles nice and slow at 8.48 min/mile pace

Thursday: AM yoga class. Post work trail run. 4.5 miles at 9.24 min/mile pace with 472 ft elevation gain.

Friday: Rest day!

Saturday: 3 mile progression run – 8.00/7.48/7.35. Heavy rain all day and even though I’m Irish running in torrential rain does not appeal to me at all. Decided to take advantage of the treadmill to maintain pace and felt good. I think having a rest day on Friday meant I was back to normal today.

Sunday: Long run. 9.2 miles at 8.30 min/mile pace. This run felt good. Even pace despite a steady elevation gain for the middle third.

Weekly total; 25 miles/40.2 KM

April total: 98.5 miles/158.5 KM

ARTWRBR total: 215.1 miles/346.2 KM

My next half marathon is only 7 weeks away! My goal for this race is (1) to PR and (2) to finish strong. The last 4 miles of the Salt Lake half were really tough and I felt like I was hanging on at the finish. I would love to not feel like death as I make my way down to the finish line at Utah Valley. So the plan is to keep the mileage to at least 25 but preferably closer to 30 miles per week and slowly increase the length of my long runs to 13+ miles. This should also prep me for marathon training which will probably begin on June 16th.

Here are some pictures of my post race week comfort foods.


Tofu in peanut-siracha sauce.


Latin beef stew with spinach salad and spicy habanero salsa.


Veggie burger with cilantro-lime mayo, roast sweet potato and couscous salad.


Yum raspberries! And J’s egg, avocado and cream cheese ciabatta sandwiches.

Day 69 and 70 – Weekend recap

My half marathon is now less than two weeks away (!) and this week marked the highest mileage week of my training plan. The runs during the week went pretty well and my main aim for this weekend was to avoid the rain and get the miles in.

Friday night started with some chicken and pineapple stir fry. Extra broccoli. Followed by German chocolate cake gelato with raspberries and extra chocolate. Yum all round.


Saturday morning called for four miles at half marathon race pace. I ran part of this on the actual race course and managed 4.00 miles at 7.44 min/mile pace. I would be so happy if this was my actual race pace on the day. I’m still not experienced enough at running to accurately predict my time. I definitely feel stronger and in better shape than my last half marathon but how will that translate onto a tougher course? I guess I’ll have to race to find out.

Saturday was spent with some girlfriends having a blast. We stopped for lunch in Les Madelines, a French patisserie-style cafe, eating awesome sandwiches, frites and pastries.

More carb loading in the evening. Homemade fish sticks, fries and a bunch of asparagus. This might become my fueling meal of choice in the future.


And Sunday was the big day. 12 miles. Longest run on the training schedule. My 11 miler last week went OK but I had a bit of a weird dizzy minute after about 8 miles. I figured my blood sugar was dropping and I needed to rethink my fueling strategy.

This might sound a little dumb to some of you but in this training cycle and last year’s half marathon I didn’t use any gels during my runs. In fact, last time I think that the only thing I ever brought with me was my keys and some water.

It was time to introduce gels into my running life. Because J is training for a full marathon we had a ton of different types of gels in our pantry. I went with the Gu salty caramel gel (which I had seen a bunch of bloggers rave about) and 22oz of lemon/lime Nuun.

And the result? I am an idiot! The second half of this run felt amazing! I definitely need calories for this length of run. It was like someone injected me with run faster juice. I also started drinking my Nuun way earlier than normal. Even the rain that started after mile 10 could not dampen my mood. Best long run ever! 12.03 miles at 8.33 min/mile pace. All with 860 ft of elevation gain.

The only downside was an ache under the arch of my right foot. This started to bother me at mile 9.5 and disappeared as soon as I stopped running. I’m a little worried it might be the start of plantar fasciitis but I’ll mention it to my physiotherapist on Thursday.

And after my run my favorite part of half marathon training – eating as much calories as possible.

Starting with granola – this week I added pecans, walnuts, dried cranberries, pepitas and chocolate chips. I think the chocolate chips will have to stay.


Then I decided to hop on the green smoothie train. Banana, strawberry, blueberry and spinach. With a side of pulled chicken quesadilla (with the obligatory avocado). And pineapple.


After icing, foam rolling and compression socks I spent the rest of the day relaxing and enjoying my single girl time. Ended my weekend with some red wine, Audrey Hepburn and popcorn (from our brand new (to us) science oven – we have somehow managed to survive four years without one). Perfect weekend.


5 runs

Weekly mileage: 30.35 miles (highest weekly mileage ever)

One yoga class

One strength workout

One climbing session (finished three 5.10ds!)

April mileage: 25.2 miles/40.6 KM

ATWRBR mileage: 147.1 miles/236.7 KM

Day 56 – Double digits

Sunday is long run day. And today was my first scheduled double digit run since………………May last year! Yikes! I ran my first half marathon on May 18th 2013 and had a fall half scheduled for November 3rd. Due to injury that never happened and the longest I ran over the summer was a 15K in August. This was followed by injury number 2 so my running year was cut drastically short.

This half marathon schedule is a little more ambitious – an extra day running per week and overall higher mileage. My plan is to always run a little hard the day before my long run to get used to running on tired legs. We’ll see how that holds up on race day……

Lucky we’re having a burst of sunny weather – although it’s still pretty chilly in the mornings. It took two miles for my hands to warm up this morning. My route included a steady gradual uphill as I’m doing my best to prep for the potential nasty bits for my half marathon which is now just 4 weeks away. 10.02 miles at 8.33 min/mile pace. Mostly easy pace with a little twinge of my glut medius at about mile 8. You can bet I foam rolled that sucker when I got back.

Had my trademark fruit smoothie, granola and my new favorite – fried egg and avocado toasted sandwich for breakfast. Feeling good. Got my ProCompression calf sleeves on and waiting for them to do their magic!


Now I can just relax all day just have to put in a few hours at work before I can stuff my face with mac and cheese. Happy Sunday!

March mileage: 83 miles/133.6 KM

Weekly recap:

5 runs

Weekly mileage: 27.35 miles (highest mileage maybe ever?)

Longest run of the year: 10.02 miles

2 yoga classes

1 strength workout

1 climbing gym session