It Begins

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Today marked the beginning of Houston Marathon training!  Unfortunately, it did not get off to a good start.  Last night I had the worst insomnia I have had in years.  I probably got 3-4 hours of sleep total.  I think it was a combination of stressing about a busy work week, stressing about “OMG I’m training for a marathon?!?!?!”, and making the mistake of drinking a Diet Coke around 8 PM.  (I don’t drink Diet Coke very often but I crave it every now and then.  Last night was one of those times.  Apparently, even though I can drink a ton of coffee in the morning and sleep fine at night, the caffeine in the soda was enough to keep me feeling wired way later than my bedtime).  So that’s how my AM date with the track turned into a PM date with the treadmill.  It was not ideal– I want/need to get back to running hard paces on non-treadmill surfaces– but it was better than nothing.  My schedule this week is more erratic than usual, so today was pretty much the only day 4 x 800m @ slightly faster than 5K pace could happen.

I am using this plan as the backbone for my training because I’ve done well with the intermediate level half marathon program. That was the plan I (mostly) followed before running half marathon and 10 mile PRs earlier this year.  I put everything into an Excel spreadsheet a few weeks ago to help me gauge what type of mileage I’ll be anticipating and what adjustments I’ll need to make for races.  There will probably be further adjustments as I move along.  I’m not too concerned about the peak mileage (50-55 miles)– I’ve come very close to that in the past and I feel very comfortable at 40 mpw right now.  I’m a bit more concerned about the longer midweek runs with lots of marathon/half marathon/10K pace miles.  Too many fast miles is what led to my downfall (read: stress fracture) in 2014, so I will probably make changes there.  While I’d like to set a goal slightly more ambitious than just finishing the marathon (sub-4:00?  maybe sub-3:45?), this is still my first attempt at 26.2 miles and I would prefer to not break anything in the process.

Back in 2009 I ran my first half marathon in 1:52:35.  Two months later I ran another half marathon in 1:48:05.  I think my faster time was 10% weather related and 90% due to increased comfort and familiarity racing 13.1 miles.  So, in the interest of not having too many more sleepless nights worrying about races, I’m trying to remember that this marathon training cycle will involve some trial and error.  I will probably definitely make some mistakes just like I did when I trained for my first half, regardless of how much advice I get from the Internet and books and veteran marathoners in my running group.  Hopefully I will make it to race day in one piece, learn from the experience, and improve in future races.

Speaking of races, this is what I’ll be doing between now and January 15th:

  • Run Free Texas 80s 8K (October 2nd): I don’t have high hopes for this given my lack of speed work over the summer.  I kind of wish I hadn’t signed up.
  • Cap to Coast (October 14-15th): OH BOY.  I got roped into a relay race!  Good thing I seem to be able to function (sort of) on minimal sleep.
  • Thundercloud Subs Turkey Trot (November 24th): Marathon plan calls for 5 miles on hills at marathon effort.  This race is 5 miles of hills conveniently close to where I live.  I will miss my beloved Cedar Park Turkey Day 5K though.
  • Dallas Half Marathon (December 11th): Goal for this is TBD.  If I race it, I would be really happy to run sub-1:40.  I’ve only done that on the 3M course (which is point to point, net downhill), so running sub-1:40 on a course than isn’t 3M would be very validating (even if said course is pretty flat).

And now it is definitely time for bed.  As I mentioned, my schedule this week is weird (7 AM meetings whhhyyyyyyy, some movie plans at night during the last week of the Paramount Summer Movie Classics) but I hope I can squeeze in a post about some of the sleep, food, and injury prevention stuff I’ve tried to work on over the summer.

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Surviving Summer Running

I am exactly one week out from officially starting marathon training, so this seems like a good time to finally update the old running blog.  I find running in the summer in Texas very, very difficult.  I know other parts of the country have had some especially hot stretches this year but Texas feels like a special kind of hell compared to everywhere else I’ve lived during summer months– Pennsylvania is humid; Connecticut is  a milder version of PA; Spain is hot and dry; Argentina is hot and had awful air quality, at least in Buenos Aires.  Texas is extra miserable for me because it is so very hot and it stays so very hot for around half of the year.  I think this summer (which hasn’t been as bad as some of the other years I’ve lived here) we started hitting 90 degrees in April and it would not be unheard of to keep hitting 90+ in October.  During some of the hottest days this year (think morning lows in the upper 70s, afternoon highs in the low 100s) it will stay very, very hot well into the evening.  For someone like me who really struggles with hot weather running, this leaves two options:

  1. Early morning running
  2.  Treadmill

And that’s what I’ve been doing pretty much all summer.  I do the early runs on days when I work from home, days when I don’t have to be at the office super early, and Saturdays (7 AM long run with running group).  If a morning run can’t happen, I take a rest day or run on the treadmill in the afternoon.  Usually I’m on the treadmill 1-2 days per week and I use the time to get in a little speed work.  I don’t think treadmill speedwork is as effective as speedwork on the track or road but it’s better than nothing and it makes the treadmill time go by faster🙂.

I’ve been attending the Saturday AM long runs religiously for the past 8 weeks.  The group runs a 10 mile loop but I typically end up with 13-14 miles since I run between my apartment and our meeting spot.  My pace per mile right now is a good 1 minute (or more)  slower than my long run pace leading up to 3M but I am 100% okay with that.  My main goal for the summer was to maintain a good base before marathon training.  If I had to race a 5K tomorrow it would probably be a mess but 2+ hours of slow running?  No problem.  (Well, it’s still a bit messy because summer = miserable heat, but at least I’ve finally got a good hydration/fuel routine down– Clif bar and coffee 1 hour before run, slowly consume gel during mile 7, refill water bottle at the one water fountain with cold water at mile 9).

Check out my monthly mileage so far this year:

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July was my highest mileage month and August will probably be even higher!  I’m averaging around 40 miles per week.  I’ve hit 40+ miles before but it’s typically been peak mileage during half marathon training. In the past 40+ miles has left me pretty fatigued but now it’s starting to feel like the norm.  (To be fair, I’m not doing nearly as much speed work as I did during half marathon training.   I think I’ve run at 5K effort once in the past month and it was on the treadmill.)

My mantra this summer has been Some Slow Miles Are Better Than No Miles.  Hopefully  my summer of many slow miles will pay off when it starts to cool off and I start adding some more speed work to my schedule.

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Books of 2016 (Q2)

(Here is January-March 2016)

I did a lot more reading over the past few months than I did at the beginning of the year. A few of the books I read were fantastic, so I plowed through them in 1-2 days because I couldn’t put them done.  I also had some airport and plane time in late May, which is always a good opportunity for reading.

But the main reason for the boost in reading was the iPad I bought in late April.  I was resistant to tablets and ebooks for a long time because I like things like keyboards and pretty book covers.  I started to come around last year when I started a new job and got a company laptop.  (At previous jobs I’d always had a desktop in the office and had to use my personal laptop to do work at home or on work travel).  I don’t have any more upcoming work travel  but it occurred to me that I like to do things in my free time like check my personal email and  download corgi gifs and read the NY Times obituary section and boy would be it be nice to do those things on something nice and light that isn’t my tiny iPhone 5 or a company laptop.

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You thought I was kidding.

The iPad was great for those things when I was Florida but the best part is the access to the ebooks at the Austin Public Library!  I can borrow books– for free– without going anywhere or talking to anyone!  When I was in Florida and I’d finished the books I’d borrowed before our flight home, I just went to the APL site and found another book to read.

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WHAT IS THIS CRAZY NEWFANGLED TECHNOLOGY?!?!

In conclusion, ebooks are awesome and very enabling for lazy introverts.

Onto the books:

13. The Nest: Sometimes I want to read fluff.  This was fluff.  Decent fluff, but not my favorite fluff.

14. Wreck and OrderOMG.  Elsie (the narrator) is probably one of my least favorite book characters.  The book is basically 300 pages of poor decisions and navel gazing.  Look, I’ve made plenty of poor decisions and whined about them with varying degrees of insight to friends  and done the same for them.  In that respect, I found Elsie remarkably human and three dimensional.  But I also found her really unlikeable.

15. The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs: This was something I picked up at the library based purely on the cover because I love dachshunds.  Apparently it’s part of the “Professor Dr. von Entertainment series”.  There were parts of the book that were very silly and would appeal to those who like extremely British humor.  Otherwise, I thought the book was a bit disjointed.  It was more like several short stories than a novel.

16.  Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood: This was a slog.  And at 528 pages, it’s a slog that I really should have quit early instead of forcing myself to finish.  I had very high expectations– true crime! drugs!  old Hollywood!  These are all things I like (in books– not so much in life, at least for the first two).  But I just couldn’t get into this.

17.  Everyone Brave is Forgiven:  THIS IS SO GOOD.  When I mentioned “plowing through books at the beginning of this post I was thinking of this book.  I really liked Chris Cleave’s other books but this one is my new favorite.  Read it if you like historical fiction or WWII romance or just books in general.

18. The Beautiful Bureaucrat: This is more of a novella than a novel.  It’s short, and there were some weird overly long sections of word play that could have been cut.  But otherwise this was good (and very creepy).

19. Purity: Eh…definitely not my favorite Franzen.  I can’t say I disliked it but I read it ~6 weeks ago and I’ve already forgotten most of it, whereas Freedom and The Corrections (both of which I read years ago) are much more vivid in my head.

20. In the Unlikely Event: This was a fine quick read for a plane ride.  (Well, maybe not, since it centers around 3 real life plane crashes!).  I hadn’t read Judy Blume since early middle school.  The writing felt very YA, especially since several of the main characters are adolescents.

21. The Run of His Life: The People v. O. J. Simpson:  I feel like I can’t mention this book without also mentioning that The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story  (which is based on The Run of His Life) is amazing.  I was in late elementary school during the O.J. Simpson trial, which means that I remember it happening and that it was A Big Deal but I didn’t have a strong understanding of why it was A Big Deal.  The FX miniseries and the recent 30 for 30 miniseries really helped me understand.  I highly recommend them both.  I was a little worn out on O.J. Simpson by the time I read this book but I still enjoyed it.

22. The Lake House: This was a fast, enjoyable read.  I have a love for mysteries in big old English houses that dates back to reading Jane Eyre in high school, so this was right up my alley even if everything tied up a little too nicely at the end.

23.  Girls on Fire:  High school in the 90s was bleak, man.  This was a strange book.  It’s possible probable that I lived a very sheltered existence in my formative years but I still found some of the teenage hijinks and Satanic worship in the book hard to believe.

I’m a little off pace to reach 50 books by the end of the year but I think I can catch up, especially since I have very little motivation to leave the house on the weekend these days unless a body of water is involved (it’s SO hot!).  To tie this into running, it’s just like running a negative split🙂

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June

Happy 4th of July!  Happy Summer! Happy Canada Day (3 days late)! I know, it’s been awhile.  I haven’t had a desire to write here much since I’m not training for anything right now.  Perhaps I’ll get back to more regular writing towards the end of August when marathon training kicks off in earnest.

In the meantime, here are some quick recaps of June:

RunningI ran 111 miles in June, which made it my lowest mileage month in over  a year.  I definitely didn’t intend to decrease my mileage so much but I think it was a good idea for my longer term goals.  My body (and mind) needed a break.  In July I want to run more than 111 miles but mainly focus on getting regular strength and injury prevention work back into my schedule.  I have really, really been slacking in these areas recently and have gotten by because I’m running less.  However, I want to try to establish some better habits before return to training and higher mileage.

Speaking of marathon training, I’m using this plan as a starting point.  I spent some time this weekend entering training weeks into Excel, which has been very helpful because I can use formulas to calculate number of miles per week, number of race pace miles per week, etc.  I’ve also identified some areas where I will have to make adjustments for things like the Dallas Half Marathon and the last 20 mile run (scheduled for Christmas Day if I follow the plan exactly, but knowing my track record with long runs when I’m out of town, I will have to adjust my schedule to squeeze it in sometime before or after we go to PA).

Racing: I ended up running Maudie’s Moonlight Margarita Run back on June 9th.  After several weeks of rain (and cooler than normal temperatures), the race coincided with the beginning of regular Texas summer weather.  It was hot and humid but not quite as bad as 2015.  I started the race thinking I would run it without looking at my watch but then snuck a peek around 0.5  miles and saw I was at 6:40 pace– way, way too fast!  I reined it in and miles 2 and 3 were much slower (~7:45), plus I had to deal with getting passed a lot.  I’m not proud of starting too fast but I’m pleased that I was at least able to maintain a steady pace after my bad start and finish with a good kick.  Also, I ran 23:39, which was over a minute faster than 2015’s time.  Definitely not a PR but it’s nice to see improvement from year to year.

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This was my last race for quite awhile.  I’d thought about running the Freedom 5K again but backed out at the last minute.  Last year the course was short and it looks like they used the same course again this year.  Also, the communications about packet pickup and race details were very disorganized and last minute (the email with the course map arrived at 9:30 PM the night before the race).  I didn’t feel like dealing with a messy race, especially when I am decidedly not in good racing shape, so instead I opted to sleep in this morning and run some tempo miles on the treadmill.

Gear: Back in May I started looking for a new sports bra.  My go-to sports bra has typically been the Road Runner Sports Rock Steady T-Back Bra.  It’s supportive, easy to put on/take off, has never caused chafing, and is very reasonably priced when it’s on sale.  The issue is that I’ve had some of these bras for around 7 years now, so they’re (understandably) losing some support and elasticity.  I took a chance on a Moving Comfort Vixen bra from Sierra Trading Post (sooooo much cheaper than anywhere else on the Internet!) and noticed a dramatic difference in the amount of support.  It’s definitely my new favorite sports bra.  After wearing it on a few runs I went ahead and bought a few more from Sierra Trading Post along with the Saucony Bullet tight short  (pictured above; no longer available at Sierra Trading Post, unfortunately) which is what I wear on long runs now thanks to its abundance of pockets.

Aaaand I’m also eagerly awaiting another pair of Adidas Supernova Glide Boost 7s since I destroyed my old pair at the track.  I’m set with running gear for quite awhile now!

Life: June was busy, which may also account for my dip in mileage.  Fortunately, I’ve been busy with a lot of fun things like trips to friends’ pools and Krause Springs, the Paramount Classic Film series, and happy hours and early morning weekend runs with my running group.  It feels like such a blogging cliche to say {insert month] just flew by  but that’s really how I feel about June!  Here’s hoping that July will bring an equal amount of fun but also a few more miles.

 

 

 

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May Miles

Hello Internet.  Yes, it’s been awhile (again).  Since I’m not in training mode at the moment, I haven’t been inspired to write very much.  Also, May was a pretty crazy month thanks to work and travel.  My running has not been very consistent for the past two weeks (more on that in a minute) but I ran a decent number of miles overall:

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I more or less followed the weekly schedules from RunCoach.  I averaged 35-40 miles per week, which has been pretty standard for me over the past few months.  I’ve been running 5-6 days per week with 1 or 2 days of speed work.  Speed work at the moment usually consists of some harder 800-1600m 5K-10K pace repeats or running a few miles at half marathon effort.  I’m definitely running fewer race pace miles than I was during 10 mile/half marathon training but I think that’s fine right now.  Right now I want to focus more on getting my average weekly mileage to 40-45 miles; adding more speed work on top of that seems like a recipe for injury.

I am trying to keep doing one double-digit (10-15 mile) run on the weekends.  I’m continuing to do most of my weekend runs with a running group, which has really helped with getting me out the door earlier on days when I’m tempted to sleep in.

My running got a bit derailed over the last week and a half because we were in West Palm Beach and Miami from May 26th-31st for my brother’s wedding.  It was a very fun but very exhausting long weekend!  I managed two 4 mile runs by the water in West Palm.  The scenery was beautiful but there was no shade and it was already 85 degrees at 8 AM!  I’m used to very hot Texas summers by now but I’m also used to early morning runs with a bit of shade and temperatures in the 70s.

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Florida running

After 5 days of late nights, eating out, drinking, and minimal running, I was looking forward to getting back into a workout routine.  On Tuesday afternoon I overeagerly decided to get back to lifting weights…and pulled a muscle by my right knee while doing some warm up goblet squats with a 35 lb weight.  I felt still feel embarrassed about it because it was stupid and I should know by now that I need to be more careful with my form.  I iced it and tried running on Wednesday (Global Running Day) but didn’t feel quite right and quit after one mile.  I think I actually ran more on Global Running Day back in 2014 when I was still recovering from a stress fracture!  So, that was dumb and sucky but a few days of ice and rest seem to have done the trick.  I ran 6 very easy miles today without any discomfort, so hopefully I can really get back to regular running now.

My race calendar is pretty sparse right now.  I’m considering Maudie’s Moonlight Margarita Run on Thursday, June 9th just because the location is super convenient.  I had a miserable time at that race last year but the weather may be a little cooler this week and also, it’s super convenient.  I’m also considering running the Freedom “5K” again on July 4th even though I can’t find any indication that the course is USATF certified this year.  So I suspect I would again run 2.9 or 3 miles instead of 5K but at least I’d get a decent workout without having to drive very far.

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