Doing all the Don’ts of Marathon Training

IMG_1773.JPGI am the poster child for everything not to do while marathon training.
For example:

1. Go to Vegas for three days mid-training.

2. Not running during those three days in Vegas.

3. Eating (and drinking) well in Vegas

4. Choosing fun over sleep in Vegas

5. Returning from Vegas on Friday night and running 19.5 miles the following morning.

If anyone thought I was crazy before, then all the above have definitely proven them correct.

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West Coast Bound

IMG_1700.JPGI’m currently sitting in an airport. I been up since 4 AM and currently on my first cup of coffee. This day could potentially be the longest one ever, but I don’t care; I’m West Coast bound.

Despite a semester traveling throughout Europe during my sophomore year at school, my travels in the United States have been limited to the East Coast. Except for one memorable trip to Chicago, I haven’t explored my own country very far. Today that changes. In less than thirty minutes I will be on a plane to Las Vegas.

Sometimes the best decisions are the ones made spontaneously. Feeling a strong desire for an escape, this past May, I started paying more attention to my weekly travel deal emails. One week a particular deal caught my eye: roundtrip airfare and three-night stay in Las Vegas. Having put a West Coast Visit on my 2014 Bucket List, I shot an email to a friend with the similar subject line, “Vegas?”. The response was almost immediate: “When?!”

So the “when” is now. My overpacked bag is checked and I’m sitting in the terminal with my laptop counting down the minutes to takeoff. The five-hour flight will have me in Vegas by 9:30 AM and down by the strip before 11 AM. On the itinerary: eating, poolside lounging and making friends with strangers. It’s a much-needed period of relaxation with the promise of lots of adventure and stories.

Even if this trip keeps me from running and means I’m running Saturday’s 18-mile SLR jet lagged, it will be worth. They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but I know I won’t be able to keep all of it a secret.

The Day I Beat Mother Nature

IMG_1681.JPGLast week I was in major fight with Mother Nature.

Monday signaled the beginning of September, the unofficial start of fall. Time for sweaters, pumpkin lattes and apple cider doughnuts. Yet Mother Nature did not get the memo. Or she was ignoring it.

Monday of last week was Labor Day. With the day off, I figured I could wake up alarm-free and set out for my training’s scheduled seven miles. That didn’t happen; I blame the weather. By the time I woke up by 8:00 AM, it was already over 75 degrees outside. Add in the humidity, and it made it easy for me to decide to stay in bed.

Unfortunately, by skipping Monday that meant I had to make up for it the other days of the week. Tuesday had the group scheduled to run hills, but as I stepped outside to catch the bus, the wind picked up and all I could think of was Winnie Pooh saying, “Tut-tut, it looks like rain.” Sure enough, a half hour after I turned around to go home it poured. Decision justified.

But while I managed to avoid the rain, I couldn’t avoid a run that kept me from looking like I ran my miles in the shower. This week’s humidity was unbearable, even at the early hours of the morning when I needed to run before work. When it’s still dark outside and the humidity has the feel-like temps hovering near 80 degrees, the miles feel endless. This was especially the case on Saturday.

Saturday had 16 miles on the schedule, and I will admit that I had plenty of anxiety going into the run. The finish of the 16-mile SLR would mean achieving a new PDR, but it was not without its challenges. When my alarm went off in the morning, already the temperature hovered at 75 degrees, and the sun had not even risen yet. Fortunately, our route along Beach Drive in D.C. and Maryland provided plenty of shade cover. However, that didn’t keep the sweat from dripping.

IMG_1688.PNGSaturday’s run was by far the most physically and mentally challenging run I have ever done. While refilling our water bottles a shortly after our 10-mile mark, my running mates and I noticed that our clothes were literally soaked to our skin. Drenched, and we still had six miles to go. Our bodies’ way of keeping us cool, the sweat would have felt like it was weighing us down, but it was actually what allowed us to keep going. As the salt escaped through our pores, staying hydrated and focused became the run’s mission. It was grueling and just as mentally fatiguing as it was physical.

Nevertheless, we made it back, just shy of two and half hours after we started. The 16 miles were the farthest I ever ran straight, a new personal distance record; adding on my warmup, and I finished Saturday with 17.52 miles under my belt. All I wanted afterwards was a huge bagel slathered in cream cheese. And a nap.

While I hunger pangs existed, thirst dominated. Throughout the day, my body kept reminding me how drained it had gotten from the morning and how it needed hydration, and lots of it.

Despite Mother Nature’s extension of summer for a little longer, I didn’t allow it to let it interfere with my training. In the end, it’s these types of runs that make you stronger, and all the more ready for that all important race in just seven weeks. My countdown has started.

A High that Can’t Be Bought

IMG_1667.JPGSometimes I really surprise myself. Fortunately for me, it keeps happening.

Every Saturday morning my alarm goes off at 6:25 AM. Whereas I once woke up to bright light providing an instant mood boost, the sun’s presence has crept later and later into my morning routine. With less light to wake up to, it’s become harder to release from the covers and lace up sneakers and fill up water bottles. But while it gets more difficult to get up early on the weekends, the feeling I get post SLR is like no other.

I’m at the point in my training where nearly every week until about mid-October, I will be (hopefully) achieving a PDR, a personal distance record. This past Saturday continued the trend: FIfteen miles for the SLR, plus three more from my warmup and cool down. Total: 18 miles. Continue reading

Run Happy

IMG_1645.JPGI can admit it. Some days I don’t want to run.

Like Mondays. Almost every Monday through the end of my training plan has me running seven miles. But Mondays! I’ve found I just cannot get up and do it. Well, more like won’t.

The past few Sunday evenings, I have set my alarm early, intent on getting up and running first thing to start my week. Once the alarm goes off, however, it quickly gets reset to allow me another 30-40 minutes in bed. The way I see, why cram in my seven miles on Monday when I still have other days of the week left to pound the pavement?

The problem is when other things get in the way. Wednesdays, I have learned, will never be a running day. After multiple Tuesdays spent teaching only followed by track or hill workouts, I have been lucky to have had any energy the next day at work, nevermind run. This Tuesday at track was no exception. Continue reading

What’s My Number?

(No, not that number)

IMG_1657.JPGThere are some numbers you simply do not ask people. Like their weight or their SAT score (or LSAT score).

But in the running community, it’s all about the numbers. How miles did you run on the weekend long run? How many times did you lap around the track? How many hill repeats did you complete? What is your marathon pace/goal/personal record? 

For me, this is my week summarized in numbers:

  • 3 miles on the treadmill
  • 5 1200 meter repeats on the track
  • 5.5 miles completed with a friend
  • 16.75 miles accumulated on Saturday

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Riding Some Soul

Tuesdays have been my two-a-days: back-to-back workouts, first with spinning, followed up either a track or hill workout with the crew. Fortunately, this past Tuesday was my last time completing 2/3 of the activities in a traditional triathlon. But even before this past Tuesday’s double doozie (spin, plus 1200 repeats on the track), I scheduled another two-a-day my first full day back from vacation.

IMG_1641-0.JPGReturning to D.C. last Friday evening, I hit the sheets pretty early in prep for Saturday’s long run. On a tapered run, I only had eight miles on the docket. In comparison to the previous week’s 13, those eight miles, a simple out to the Lincoln Memorial and back, felt easy. Add in the comfortable temperatures and some great company and the SLR flew by!

This run is my lowest SLR mileage until October 19th. Each week, the miles continue to creep up, eventually peaking at 20-miles. From now until the end of October, my social life on Friday is tamed and my Saturday mornings limited to the following: running, eating, napping.

With just eight miles Saturday (yes, just), I had plenty of time to refuel, nap and catch up on some reading that I failed to finish during my vacation. Therefore, I also had time to gear up for a free Lululemon-sponsored class at the newly opened D.C. SoulCycle. Continue reading