Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Marathon Training Started This Week

I needed a picture for this post. So here's a picture of my 8 yo, 3.5 lb Chihuahua, Gizmo!

With my successful Iron Horse Half Marathon training, I laid down a good base for my marathon running. Now it's time to continue that trend. I am aiming to do the 2017 Chattanooga Marathon in March.

For the half marathon training, I started off by running 3 days a week, then 4, then 5 and back to 3. I decided to do that for marathon training as well, but bump it up a day. So my marathon training will be in mini-cycles of 3 weeks each. The first week will be running 4 days a week, the next 5, the last 6, then back to 4 again, etc. I will start that for the first 2 cycles and see how it goes.

Every week will include a long run, a tempo run (marathon-paced) and a hill workout. The balance will be easy paced runs. I will continue to bump up the distance I run for these workouts as I feel comfortable with each distance.

I've toyed greatly with the paces I should run for these runs, but I've decided to continue running the paces I ran for my half marathon training. Long runs at 13:29/mi, tempo runs at 12:36/mi and easy runs at 13:54/mi.

To satisfy my need for speed, I will use my hill workouts. I also plan to do some negative split runs during my long runs and tempo runs and maybe run some of my long run miles at tempo pace.

I do have an entire schedule planned out from here to the marathon date, but I will be flexible with my mileage bumps to keep me moving forward. I adjusted my half marathon schedule several times during the training cycle and that turned out well, so I'm just going to keep applying the same principles to the marathon schedule and see how it goes.

I already feel that I'm way ahead of the curve for this marathon training schedule than I was for my first marathon. I'd probably hurt like all get out, but I feel I could probably go do a marathon now, even though it wouldn't be pretty. So the extra 18 weeks of training can only help me, right?? :-)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Half Marathon Training Plan Review

This was a 15 week training schedule. I designed this training plan based on reading various blogs and training plans. I also read the book Hansons Marathon Method. I was not ready to fully embrace the Hansons method, but I wanted to run more often and run more consistently.

So I designed a plan that would ease me into running more days a week and more miles a week. I started out by running 3 days the first week, 4 days the second, 5 days the third week. Then repeat the cycle. By the middle of my training cycle, I dropped the 3-day week and was running 4 or 5 days a week.

My paces were the same, just the distance got longer. I ran a tempo pace run every week and a hill run every week. 2 out of 3 weeks, I ran a long run. The rest of my runs were easy paced runs. Most of my runs were run/walk, except my tempo runs, which I ran at marathon pace straight through without walking.

There were so many good things about this training cycle.
  • I learned to control my pace on my tempo runs and began to feel when I sped up or slowed down too much.
  • My hills runs had no pace target. So while I tried to better my performance with every run, I didn't feel too much pressure to run a certain pace and that was freeing.
  • I learned I need to stay at the same distance for a tempo run or a long run for 3 weeks in most cases before moving on to a longer distance. Pushing forward with the next distance just because that's what the schedule says can be detrimental.
  • Easy runs aren't easy mentally sometimes, but they're easy on my body and serve as a great bridge between harder workouts and a way to get more miles in without trashing my body. Some people feel these are "filler" miles and not necessary, but I think the easy miles made me a better runner this cycle.

I started using SportTracks online this training cycle for the reports and I'm glad I did. While it costs $59/year, it is really worth it to me to analyze my performance and keep me accountable to my plan.

This is one such report. This shows me that I ran 60 runs and 312.64 miles to prepare for the Iron Horse Half Marathon. This does include warm up and cool down miles. The elevation gain number is interesting to me as well, since I specifically added elevation to my training.

When I contrast these numbers with my report for training for my first marathon, I'm a bit appalled at the numbers! For my marathon, I ran only 40 runs over 16 weeks for a total of 299.58 miles and only 4,500 feet of elevation gain. For the marathon, I had longer runs, but I struggled mightily with any run over 16 miles. Except for the long run, I'm probably in better running shape today than I was for my marathon.

I really like this chart. This shows the numbers of miles per week I ran during my half marathon training cycle. That last tiny little week was my taper week of 3 miles. I like that 7 of my 9 weeks prior to my taper week were over 20 miles each week and 3 of them were at or over 30 miles. The September 18 week was my taper for the 100 mile ride that didn't happen, so I don't really care about  that. The August 14 week was a step back week and my last specific 3-day week. The only thing I would like better is if this chart was active miles only. But because of the way I track my runs, this includes warm up and cool down.

Mile 10 of the Iron Horse Half Marathon
Photo Credit: Good Times Event Services
This was a successful training cycle for me and I will use this as a good base to begin training for the 2017 Chattanooga Marathon.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Iron Horse Half Marathon 2016 Race Recap

Ever since the 4th of July, I have been training for the Iron Horse Half Marathon. This race has a time limit of 3:04 (a 14:00/mi pace). I knew if I had problems with the run, I would be overtime, but trained, I had a good shot of finishing in the limits.

My goofy Tanna in the vet hospital.

This past week was my taper week, but one of my horses had a pasture accident that had him in the hospital for 4 days and still takes a good amount of work to keep up at home since he's stall-bound. So my taper week was a single 3 mile treadmill workout on Tuesday at an easy walk/run pace of 14:00/mi.

I also didn't get very much sleep this week, due to my horse and working till the wee early hours of the morning to meet a deadline. And of course, I didn't eat the best.

This all led to me just hoping to not get run over by the sweep vehicle...

My husband agreed to give my horse his meds and keep an eye on him so I could still go to the run. Since Midway, KY, is over 200 miles from Nashville, I got a hotel room in Shelbyville, KY. I drove over the day before and got a sub from Subway for my supper.

I laid out my clothes and breakfast food and went to bed early.

At 5:30 AM (4:30 Nashville time!), my alarm rang. I got a quick hot shower and put water on to boil for my grits. I added a Morningstar Farms "sausage" patty and a slice of American cheese. This is the meal I have for endurance rides and have started doing this for my races as well. I also added a mocha drink.

I ate while I repacked my suitcase and left my hotel room at 6:20. I checked out of the hotel and headed down Interstate 64 to Midway. I parked at Northside Elementary and proceeded to finish putting my HRM on and fill my pockets with fuel, my phone and ID.

Sunrise in Midway

Then I headed down the hill where everybody else was headed. I found the line of porta potties and waited my turn. It was a little chilly, but I had decided to forgo a headband or my arm covers. It was warmer than initially called for so I didn't need them. It only took a mile or so to warm up nicely. The weather was perfect for a run.

The start line is around the corner to the right.

Down to the start line. I stood well back around the corner. There were still plenty of people behind me though. I was wearing my rose inknburn t-shirt and got a few comments on it.

5 minutes before the start, I ate a gel and tucked the empty pack into my pocket since there wasn't a trash can handy.

When the gun went off, the crowd walked orderly to the start line and then began to jostle for position. I stayed far to the right, but people were still passing on the right in the grass.

My initial plan had been to run 13:29 each for the first four miles and speed up 10 seconds every 4 miles and then just run the last 1.1 mile. That went out the window pretty quick. My slowest mile for the race was mile 3 at 13:17.

Some horses in the field to the right.
My pace for the first 9 miles was all over the place, from 13:17 to 11:49. Some of that was the crowd, some of it terrain and some of it was just plain not controlling my pace. Finally, I settled into a better rhythm after I decided to run the terrain and not try to hold back as much. I also popped an earbud in and listened to my running playlist. I ran the next 3 miles at 11:57 each, then opened up a bit more for the last full mile at 11:02 and even more for the last bit at an average pace of 9:15.

Midway Railroad car

I wish I'd controlled my pace a little more for the first 9 miles, but hard to argue with myself looking at the last 4.1 miles, although, granted, there was more downhill for those miles. I ended up with a chip time of 2:42:45, which was better than I'd hoped.

And on the hills I was so scared of. Garmin Connect, with corrections enabled, shows only 516 feet of elevation gain, so while there was some elevation (felt like most of the course was up or down), it was gentle and I never got to the point where I had to walk during one of my run intervals. I loosely ran 4 minutes and walked 1 minute, adjusting a bit so I didn't walk downhill and in the last half, I just skipped a walking interval if it was downhill and ran straight through. I am super glad I trained hills and I will continue to train hills during my marathon training cycle. Definitely makes me a stronger runner!

The finish line. You finish on the road. I took this from my stretching place.

There were aid stations fairly often. The course leaves Midway downtown and goes west before doing a U-turn and coming back and going east to the last U-turn. Because of this, there were aid stations on both sides of the road. I carried my Nathan soft flask handheld, but used it sparingly until the last 3 miles, where I skipped the 3 of the last 4 aid stations to just keep running so by the time I hit the finish line, my water bottle was mostly empty.


It was a lot of fun to see the front runners coming back at me. While I was still at mile 2.5 or so, they were hitting mile 5! Amazing. :)

After I got done, I headed back down the course to cheer in a few runners, watching for a nice couple I'd chatted with during a few of the miles. After cheering them in, I meandered up to the race party and listened to the Off The Clock band while I picked out a couple of nice handmade items. I'm pretty sure they were by Kentucky Mudworks.

The band

Awesome mug I bought. It looks black, but the top is actually a pretty dark blue color.

Finally, I walked back to my truck, changed with the help of my Undress and drove home, stopping about 3 times to walk around and stretch a bit.

I had a great time, even though it seemed like a rushed trip. I was 3 minutes off my PR, but my HR was on average 10 bpm lower than my PR race and I finished strong.

Finisher's medal. It's big!

Me after the race

Me changed into my Iron Horse Half Marathon shirt and ready to drive home!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Half Marathon Training - The Final Full Week

This was my last full week of training for the Iron Horse Half Marathon. The race is on Sunday, the 16th. This also happened to be my longest week mileage-wise and I felt it! I was pretty fatigued by the end of the week. That could have something to do with my long, stressful work week as well.

Monday - 6.2 miles @ 11:59

This deer let me get really close and watched another girl run right past it ahead of me.

Back to River Park for my tempo run. I actually hadn't done a tempo run for 3 weeks! One week I was just taking it easy to be sure I hadn't injured myself when a mystery bruise appeared on my right knee. The next week I was tapering for a 100 mile horse ride, saving my legs and energy for that and that didn't happen.

So I wasn't sure how 6 miles would go. I was prepared to back off and only do 4, but then I decided I'd just go ahead and do the 3 miles out and if I had to, I'd just have to walk back any amount that I couldn't run.

It was very nice weather at 73° and I'm sure that helped me a ton. My usual tempo run pace is 12:36. This time I decided to try to do very gradual negative splits, speeding up with each mile. So I started at 12:40 for the first mile and sped up 5 seconds every mile. I actually hit my target paces, even though there was a little more elevation than I'm normally used to for my tempo runs.

By the time I went 5 miles, I decided to pull out the stops and turned in 10:52 for the 6th mile! I was rocking it and it was getting dark and the park technically closes at dark, so I ran for an additional 0.20 miles at an pace of 9:11/mi!

I was super stoked. Maybe I can do speed intervals after all! It's fun to go faster. :D I just don't know how I'll squeeze them into my marathon training. There just aren't enough days in a week! Maybe I'll do an 8 day rotation or something. That wouldn't be confusing at all?? Well, I digress.

For my first 5 miles, I averaged 12:22/mile. For the entire 6.2 mile run, I actually came within a few seconds of a personal record for my 10k pace and this was outside of a race. How exciting!! :)

Tuesday - 5 miles @ 13:47

Tuesday was on the treadmill. I did my progressive 10% workout where the run/walk ratio remains the same, but each run/walk interval gets 10% longer than the last one. Keeps things a little interesting. Seems like I actually slow down per mile, though. Seems odd, but overall it works out.

Wednesday - 12 miles @ 13:29

A turtle I saw at the end of my run.

That's right. I hit my target exactly for my 12 mile run!!! Super stoked about that one. To actually hit my exact pace target was an amazing feeling.

I headed back to the Stones River Greenway. I parked at the Old Fort trailhead. I decided to basically do the same run I did last week, but add a jaunt to Cannonsburgh Village to get my extra 2 miles. Unfortunately, when I got to the railroad crossing, there was a train stopped on the tracks! And didn't look like it was moving anytime soon. That left me with over a mile to add to my run to get it done.

When I reached the General Bragg trailhead, I crossed the street and ran around the path by Gateway Island to get my extra mile. Then up to Stones River Battlefield. Finally, I ran back to my truck.

My mile splits were a little off. In fact, only one of them was spot on at 13:29. I could have been a little more consistent to make me happier, but they weren't too bad and it all came out in the wash. My slowest mile was 13:56 and my fastest was 13:14. I did feel good enough to run a bit faster my last mile, but I decided to stick to pace and not push it.

The run started a little cool, but warmed up so it was about 75° by the time I got done. My fueling strategy was to take a gel (caramel machiatto is my fave!) at the start, 3 bloks at 45 minutes, 3 more bloks at 1.5 hours and a final gel at 2 hours 15 minutes.

I carried my Nathan soft flask handheld and refilled it at the various trailheads along the way, including the Stones River Battlefield visitor's center which has the best water fountain. One of my most favorite things about this (mostly) paved trail is all the places I can get water so I don't have to carry a ton of water with me.

I was slightly sick to my stomach on the way home. I'm starting to get into the realm of my longer runs and it's showing. I only ate 120 calories before I left the house. I think I need to eat a bit more than that for my long runs so I'm going to add some grits next time. I may also need to up the amount of calories I'm taking in during the run or alter the form somehow.

Overall, it was a very satisfying run. It was also great to know the bulk of my miles for the week were behind me!

Thursday - 5 miles @ 13:48

A repeat treadmill workout. Same thing I did on Tuesday. These runs are somewhat annoying, but I really get to just chill and let the treadmill control the pace. All I have to do is run or walk and watch tv on my tablet.

This time, I actually spent the first 20 minutes looking through pictures on my tablet that were taken at my endurance ride that never happened. I found a nice picture of me and my horse, so I bought that. All while I was doing my run. It's funny the things you find you can do when you want to.

Friday - 4.4 miles - Hills

Trail map of Percy Warner Park trails

I usually do my hill workouts near my house because it's convenient and a really good training hill. But this day, I ended up in town for an unscheduled reason and I decided to head to Percy Warner Park to run the red trail (Mossy Ridge loop).

The times I've run this, I usually park at the Nature Center and run the connector trail over to the red trail, but this time I parked at the Deep Well Trailhead and ran from there. It was pretty perfect mileage and about 130 feet more of elevation than my usual hill run. A good alternative!

I felt really, really fatigued on this run. My legs weren't heavy. I was just really tired. Like I could lie down off trail and sleep for hours on the rooty, rocky terrain. I ended up taking a gel around the first mile and I think that helped, but I was still super tired.

It was warm at 85° so that didn't help. That trail definitely kicked my rear and reminded me I have so much room to grow in my fitness. My normal hill run is on pavement, so I can really pick up the speed downhill and make up some time that I lose on the uphills, but this trail is all trail and some of it pretty steep, so I can, at best, shuffle down some of the hills. I definitely had to remind myself that this is a harder hill workout than I'm used to AND my hill workouts have no pace target! It's about doing the miles the best I can, not the speed at which I do them.

Weekly Totals

Training mileage: 32.65 miles
Training time: 7 hours 25 minutes

Total Mileage*: 35.54 miles
Total Time*: 8 hours 26 minutes
Elevation Gain: 1,165 ft

* includes warm-up and cool-down

Coming Up

Taper week! 3-4 light workouts of no more than 3 miles each. The race is next Sunday!! Due to driving back from the race, my next blog post will probably be late.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Half Marathon Training - Week 13 - Back to Normal

This week I was happy to get back to my normal routine of running. Due to a bruise and a trip to an endurance ride, my last couple of weeks have been a little lean on running.

Tuesday - 5 miles @ 13:48

Tuesday I hopped on the treadmill for an easy 5 miles. I've been trying to figure out ways to make my runs a little more interesting on the treadmill. I can't speed up my easy runs. They have to be easy paced.

So this time, I created an iFit workout that has the same run/walk ratio as my previous easy runs (run 4.5 minutes, walk 1 minute), but started out with running .25 miles and walking 0.03 miles. Each run/walk interval stayed at the same ratio, but I made it longer by 10% for each interval until I was running 0.60 miles for my last ratio. I also had the incline at 0.5% for the entire time. I thought it worked pretty well.

Wednesday - 10 miles @ 13:08

Running the trail at the Battlefield.

I headed to my favorite running trail in Murfreesboro. Many times, I run from the General Bragg trail head, but the traffic derailed me this time and I decided to go to the Old Fort trail head instead.

I ran north to General Bragg, then up to the Stones River National Battlefield. I really like the visitor center water fountain and bathroom up there! I ran through the battlefield a bit and then headed back to General Bragg and onto the Greenway and back to Old Fort. It was a very pleasant run. I like that route very much. I just wish the General Bragg trail head water fountains worked.

It was cooler, about 70°. I drank a good bit. I didn't take my first gel until about 25 minutes in. I usually take it during my warm up. I went ahead and took 2 shot bloks at the 46 minute eat alarm. That worked ok.

My splits were running a little fast. Most of my splits were around 13:20 instead of 13:29. Even the 6th mile that included me going to refill my water bottle and use the restroom. That one was actually at 13:02! I backed it off for a couple miles, but I was back to 13:20 for my 9th mile.

I decided to just have fun on the last mile and ran a good bit of it, slowly picking up the pace as I ran. I did walk a couple times in that mile. But I turned in an 11:12 for that split! So much fun. I think I'm ready to bump up my distance if I can still turn out 11:12 after 9 miles!

My hair stayed up even after 10 miles!

My hair has been getting longer and somewhat annoying when I run. Today I figured out how to get it out of my way. It's very simple. I just pull it into a pony tail a couple of inches above my neck hairline. Then I braid it and secure with a second pony tail holder. Then I lay it up along the back of my head and secure it with two large clips. I really thought that it would fall down under the stress of running, but so far so good!

Thursday - 5 miles @ 13:48

I enjoyed my Tuesday treadmill run so much, I decided to use the same program on Thursday.

Normally, I use my Nexus 9 tablet to watch Hulu while I run on the treadmill, but for some reason, it wouldn't turn on. So I used my chromebook instead. My chromebook takes up so much space that I can't see the treadmill screen while I'm running. So I wasn't able to really keep track of where I was in the iFit program. That was ok though.

Friday - Hill Work

Yay, hill Friday!! Due to all the stuff going on, I haven't done Hill Friday for four weeks!

I picked right back up and ran pretty much the same run I did 4 weeks ago. I did an easy run on the downhills and did 30 seconds jog, 75 seconds walk on the uphills. I do think I'm ready to bump the jog intervals to 45 seconds! Yay!

Weekly Totals

Training mileage: 24 miles
Training time: 5 hours 23 minutes

Total Mileage*: 26.05 miles
Total Time*: 6 hours 10 minutes
Elevation Gain: 1,234 ft

* includes warm-up and cool-down

Coming Up

Week 14 is my last full week of training! I have 5 runs scheduled this week and am looking forward to a great week of runs. The weather looks great for my outdoor runs.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Half Marathon Training - Week 12

I barely ran last week, so I rather cringe to say it's half marathon training, but still, I am in training!

10k medals to the left; half marathon in center left; endurance horse back riding mileage center right; marathon far right

One great thing that happened last week was that my husband hung up a medal holder for me. It's in front of my treadmill. I'll be starting marathon training after this half marathon cycle and I daresay I'll be spending a lot of time on the treadmill this winter.

I'm not going to do my usually daily recap for each of my runs. I ran 3 times. All on the treadmill, all an easy run/walk pace around 14:00/mi.

I was taking it easy for a couple of reasons. 1) I wanted to be sure I hadn't injured myself when a bruise popped up on my right outer thigh just above my knee. 2) I was going out of town to ride an endurance ride and was resting up for that.

The endurance ride didn't happen. We drove out there and were there, but the ride itself never happened. I'll post on my endurance blog about that in the next few days after I have time to process it myself.

Fortunately, I never had a single issue from the bruise. I don't know why it popped up, but it's gone and I'm going back to training.

This week, I've already missed Monday's run, but I'll continue on with training the rest of the week.

The Iron Horse Half Marathon is just 2 1/2 weeks away. I paid to have my run packet mailed to me, so I already have that. Saves me from having to do the out of town packet pick up thing the morning of.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Half Marathon Training - Week 11

Well, this was my first fail kinda week of this training cycle. I've been very consistent with my workouts, hitting most of them, adjusting as needed. But I made a mistake on my first run that resulted in some missed runs.

Monday - 6 miles @ 12:00

That 12:00 average pace is the problem. I was very busy getting back from vacation and I didn't have time to go to a park to do my steady pace run. I've tried hard to keep the treadmill runs this cycle to my easy runs and do my substance runs (hill, steady pace, long runs) outside, but I couldn't justify the extra 90 minutes to drive somewhere. I should have.

Or rather, I should have kept to my normal pace. My steady pace runs are supposed to be at 12:36/mi. But I programmed the treadmill to 12:00 with a 1% incline.

My legs were very heavy for the first 2-3 miles, but I lowered my head and stuck with it, my legs lightening up half-way through. My average heart rate was very good.

After the run, I had some mild shin pain in my right leg, but that resolved after a couple hours and I figured everything was fine.

Tuesday - 5 miles @ 13:54

Back to easy miles for this run. I did my normal run/walk on the treadmill. Again no time to go out to run. Absolutely no problems on this run. Just my nagging thought that I should bump my paces a little after the half because it felt way too easy.

Wednesday - 10 miles @ 13:29

Apparently my camera caught me in a deep breath after my run.

For my long run, I took the time to drive out to Stones River Greenway in Murfreesboro. I really enjoy that trail system. This time, I parked at the General Bragg trail head and ran through parts of Stones River National Battlefield.

They have a very good water bottle filler at their restrooms. That part of my run was partially on trail. Fun when it's dry, but would be slippery when wet and not suitable for my street shoes, but it was dry so no worries.

After running through the battlefield, I returned to my truck and passed it by, running down to Old Fort Park to get the rest of my miles in.

I managed to hit my long run average pace spot on! I was thrilled. Only a couple of miles at about 13:50 and a couple at 13:06, but the rest very very close to target pace.

Mind-wise, this was NOT a very fun run, honestly. After I got done with the battlefield, the other 5 miles were a bit of a slog through, but hitting my paces certainly made me happier.

Thursday & Friday - Rest Days

I was not scheduled for rest days for the rest of the week. However, Thursday morning, I noticed a large black/purple bruise on the outside of my right leg, just above my knee. Other than poking at it, there was no pain, but there was a small knot in the middle of the bruise. I had felt no pain on any of my runs this week. I can be a bit clumsy didn't remember banging anything hard enough to get a large bruise.

To be on the safe side, I ditched my Thursday easy run and my Friday hill run. Bruising means bleeding somewhere and I don't want to push through something and end up derailing my overall goals.

My best guess is I did something Monday that caused a bit of bleeding. I ran too fast, for too long, without building up to that speed. And since it was on the treadmill, I didn't get the benefit of different stride lengths and slightly faster and slower speeds. I thought I'd be ok, but I'll have to be more careful. Maybe the bruise had nothing to do with that workout and maybe it did. But I'm going to take it as a lesson.

Weekly Totals

Training mileage: 21.00 miles
Training time: 4 hours 36 minutes

Total Mileage*: 22.40 miles
Total Time*: 5 hours 5 minutes
Elevation Gain: 93 ft

* includes warm-up and cool-down

Coming Up

I'm off on vacation again the later part of this week. I was scheduled for 2 easy runs, a steady pace run and a long run, but I'm just going to do 2-4 easy runs at 2-5 miles each. Then I'll see how things are. Due to vacation, I likely won't get my next blog post up until the middle of next week.