Thursday, February 23, 2017

Marathon Countdown - T - 10 Days

10 days until the Chattanooga marathon! And what does that mean exactly?? Time to obsessively monitor the long range forecast for Chattanooga, of course!

Right now, the forecast for Sunday, March 5, is Partly Cloudy with a high of 65°, low of 47° the night before. 20% chance of rain and a mild breeze. That would be wonderful!! Shorts and a T-shirt with sheddable arm sleeves and gloves for the start. I won't get too excited though. Those things change on an hourly basis, hence the obsessive monitoring that will occur between now and then!

On the ankle front, I have been doing PT exercises I learned when I broke my ankle in 2008. This seems to be helping; at least it's giving me something to do! I'm doing forearm strengthening exercises in the form of various bicep curls; one legged squats to keep my glute muscles strong and engaged; and deadlifts to help my hamstrings.

I don't plan to run again before the marathon. I might do some walking next week, but the risk of starting back too soon and reinjuring or further injuring my ankle tendon is high. I think it's higher than the conditioning I might retain by running.

So I'll go and see what happens.

Because I don't have any running pictures from this week, enjoy this picture of my injured horse, Tanna, reaching over his stall wall to steal a bite of hay from his hay net that I haven't hung in his stall yet.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Marathon Training Week 17 - In Which I Don't Run Much

Last week during my tempo run, I tweaked my left ankle. I waited 8 days before I ran again. I ran an easy 2 miles on the treadmill with no ill effects. So on Friday, I ran 4 miles at the same easy pace. I didn't feel the intense pain I had before, but I did feel a slightly elevated low level pain in the ankle after a few hours. SO. I am going to take it easy and wait a few more days before I run again.

View of the hill that I often run for my hill runs. And Sasha's cute ears!

I'm going to ride my horse when I can. That will help keep my legs and core in shape without the concussion of running. It's not going to help my cardiovascular system much. So I will definitely be losing some conditioning between now and the marathon. I'm not happy about that, but it is what it is and I'll just adjust from here.

What I don't want to do is get to the marathon and be hobbling at mile 13 and have to quit. I'd rather be slower and finish than quit. The marathon is in 2 weeks! I'm not sure how much more running I'll get in between now and then. Have to cross my fingers and hope my base doesn't whittle away too much.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Marathon Training Week 16 - Oops I Did It Again

Early in this training cycle, I hurt my right leg and had to take a few days off running. Since then, I've had niggling issues here and there, including strengthening and babying my right leg, but nothing major. Hopefully, nothing major this time, but I did end up only running 3 days this week.

Sunday - 14 Miles Cross Training

Looking over the steeplechase course.

I went to Percy Warner Park and rode Sasha! She was great, only a couple bucking fits to express her annoyance at me not letting her run pel mel the entire time. We had the trails to ourselves during our first loop. We went back to the trailer for a few minutes and then went out and did the loop in the opposite direction. Sasha was a firecracker and a lot of fun to ride. We got some good gallops in, especially the first loop when no other horses were on trail. A world of good for her and me!

Sasha after our ride. Still very animated; not at all tired.

Monday - 10 miles @ 13:29

I got up super early and banged out the miles on the treadmill before heading to work. I did my iFit workout with each mile consisting of a flat 1/4 mile, faster downhill 1/2 mile and final 1/4 mile walking uphill. It was kinda hard to do the 10:00/mi downhills for the first 3 or 4 miles until I finally actually woke up. I was happy I didn't fall off the treadmill!

I had no breakfast before my run. I took a gel during my warm-up, then 2 shot bloks at 3, 6 and 8 miles. I followed my run with a chocolate strawberry protein shake (real strawberries). Worked out ok, but not something I want to do all the time.

No issues during this run or after.

Tuesday - 4 miles @ 14:03

Just an easy run on the treadmill. I did the ease-into workout where I start at 1/4 mile jog, short walk and then extend the intervals by 10% each time. I actually had sore legs after this workout! That was very odd. Generally these workouts are harder on my brain during the workout than they are on my body.

I wore cotton underwear during this run. I was too lazy to change into running underwear. Fortunately no rubs, but ugh, very uncomfortable!

Wednesday - 11 miles @ 12:07 (12:38)

I went to River Park to run my tempo run. I decided to run the exact same route I ran last week. Down to Smith Park, back up Raintree Parkway and into the back of Crockett Park. It's a very nice run with bathrooms/water positioned at mile ~2.5, 4.5 and 10. Only one major road crossing at Raintree Parkway and Crockett Road and that's a 4-way stop, so it's pretty easy to pay attention and get across the street safely.

It was absolutely wonderful running weather for me. Overcast, 55° and a very light breeze. I wore my Althleta Relay 2.0 capris and my inknburn shady shirt. I got the shirt on a rare sale. When it first came out, I didn't really like the pictures, so I didn't buy one. But when they put it on 1/2 price, I decided it was worth $25. Well, I have to say, I really like this shirt! It's not as pop-y, vibrant as my rose shirt, but it's very calming and flattering.

I was fairly comfortable for the entire run. The capris were a tad hot, but shorts would not have been enough coverage for me on this run. I like to be warm.

I didn't get to listen to any podcasts on this run. I didn't have any new ones so I just listened to music.

I started out the run too fast. I tried to rein it in, but my first mile was 15 seconds too fast. I did a little better the 2nd mile (still too fast), but my 3rd mile was 30 seconds too fast! Well, you see where this is going. I only had 2 miles out of 11 that were at/near my target pace of 12:36/mi! Every other mile was too fast.

Entering the Raintree Forest Community

I stopped at Smith Park and Crocket Park for bathroom/water breaks. 5 minutes 34 seconds of stopped time during my 2 breaks.

I fueled well for this run. Last week I screwed up my fuel, but not this time. I had a gel during the first mile, then every 33 minutes after that I ate 2 shot bloks or another gel. I need to be very consistent with my fueling during the marathon; it definitely makes a difference.

My last mile I ran in 11 minutes 12 seconds. I struggled to try to keep my pace under control. This was the last mile and flat, so I should have done it. But I finally abandoned all pretense of control and flat out ran the last 1/4 mile. It was so much fun!! I was flying (for me) and having a blast doing it.

Stretching after the run.

But...yeah, there's a but. After I got done and cooled down, I began to have acute pain in a tendon in my left ankle when making certain movements during walking. This pain repeated itself often, so I decided to rest and treat the ankle. So my fun tempo run was my last run of the week.

Weekly Stats

Training mileage: 25 miles
Training time: 5 hours 24 minutes

Total Mileage*: 26.6 miles
Total Time*: 6 hours
Elevation Gain:  1,109 ft

* includes warm-up and cool-down

What's Next?

Well, I think I've started my taper early. This upcoming week was supposed to be my last big week. Last long run, last long tempo run, last 30+ mile week. But I don't think I'll do the long run. And once I get back to running, if I can even run this week, it'll be easy runs only. I really hope I didn't blow my marathon for 5 minutes of fun. :-/

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Marathon Training Week 15 - In Which I Discover Podcasts

This hasn't really been a memorable week. Just another week of running. It is one of my higher mileage weeks at 41 miles, but neither my long run nor my tempo run was the longest I've done this training cycle. I do think this is the last 40+ mile week I'll run before the marathon.

Sunday - 16 miles @ 13:13 (13:44)

An empty parking lot is a sign of a crazy runner!

I hadn't been to the Murfreesboro Greenway in about 4 weeks, so I was happy to go there for my 16 miler.

I parked near the General Bragg Trailhead. I ran up to the Stones River National Battlefield. It had rained a bit during the past week and I wasn't sure about running the trail there, but when I checked it out, it was fine, so I ran the trail to the Visitor's Center. I love the visitor's center. Nice bathrooms, nice water fountain and open on Sunday AM.

It rained on me for about a mile before I reached the visitor's center. At first it was just a light rain, but by the time I got there, it was raining pretty good. I was wearing my PreCip rain jacket, but I didn't have the hood up. I really should have stopped to get my hood up when it started raining. I put it up before I left the visitor's center, but I was already wet, which wasn't the best idea since I was only 5 miles into my run.

I ran back through the battlefield back to the General Bragg Trailhead bathrooms for another quick break and a water refill. I should have stopped at my truck and switched out my wet half-zip for a tech T-shirt and a dry jacket to go under my PreCip jacket, but that didn't occur to me until I was done with the run, home and showered! Nice example of the brain just not kicking in sometimes.

Rain/Sleet/Snow clouds

Then I ran through Gateway Island, pausing to see if their bathrooms were open. The water fountains were shut off, but the women's bathroom was open. I didn't use the facilities, I was just checking them out since I didn't realize there were bathrooms there.

There are several geese and ducks that hang out at the Gateway Island water. A goose was just a few feet off the path, so I slowed to a walk to get a look at him. I started to pull out my phone to get a picture when he began advancing toward me with his mouth open. I didn't know if he was begging for food or in an aggressive posture. I don't speak "geese." I decided I'd leave him alone and left without my picture.

Slippery bridge! Can't tell in the pic, but it was sleeting at the time. I walked this bridge for safety.

I ran out to Medical Center Parkway and hooked back into the Greenway at the Searcy Street Trailhead and continued south along the Greenway. I ran out to the Cannonsburgh Village Trailhead. They were shut up tight for the winter.

I was pretty cold as the weather was rain, sleet or snow off and on. But I was enjoying looking at things along the trail, both nature and man-made. I did feel a bit crazy for being out there, but it was a good experience and taught me that I really should put my hood up sooner when it's raining in the winter!

A heron in a creek near Cannonsburgh Village

When I ended up at the Old Fort restrooms, I only had 3 more miles to go. I paused to refill my water bottle and make use of the facilities, then ran another 1/2 mile further south before turning around and heading back to my truck via the Fortress Rosecrans Trailhead and stayed on the Greenway all the way back. I did briefly consider extending the run to 18 miles, but I had been cold for the entire run and after my 22 miler a couple weeks before, I had nothing to prove to myself.

Bundled up and still cold!

Definitely a winding route, but fairly interesting. My last 4 miles were a struggle but I pushed myself to keep pace so much that my last 4 miles were 30-40 seconds per mile faster than my long run pace was supposed to be.

I had 3 breaks that totaled 8 minutes 23 seconds. My average without the breaks was 13:13/mi. Adding in the break time, my average was 13:44/mi. I hope I won't stop so much in the actual marathon! I probably won't. My last 1/2 I didn't take a single pit stop break, although I wanted to, there just weren't any facilities after the 4 mile mark.

I was pretty sore after this run. Especially my quads. Apparently being cold for several hours while running isn't really all that good for my leg muscles. Who knew? (that's sarcasm, folks)

Monday - 4 miles @ 14:03

This was a first thing in the morning run before work and breakfast. After how tight my legs were after the 16 miles, I thought I'd have more trouble, but other than just tired legs, it wasn't too bad. I did grumble and complain during the entire 4 miles. Not a good run from a mental perspective, but physically, it was fine.

Tuesday - 6 miles Hill Run

Me in a bright shirt since I ran on the road.

I haven't actually done a specific hill run for almost 2 months. This was for 2 reasons. I started having issues with my right hamstring brought on by too much uphill running too fast. And I started incorporating some elevation into my weekly long and tempo runs. My goal is to get at least 1000 ft of climb in a week of runs. Most of the time that ends up being during my long run or split between my long run and my tempo run. Running at the Nashville Stones River Greenway gives me some good elevation to work with and helps mimic, at least partially, the elevation I'll see at the marathon next month.

The Murfreesboro Greenway doesn't have much in the way of elevation change, so I needed something to bump my numbers, so back to the hill workout.

This time I added a little more to my run to get a full 6 miles in. My last run of this route clocked in at 5.5 miles. This route runs up over a hill and down the other side. What I do is turn around at the bottom on the other side and run up the hill, and just keep running the same side of the hill until I get my mileage in and then finish up and go back. So the route, except for about 1/4 mile at the start/finish is all up or down. I ended up climbing the hill 4 1/2 times.

View from the top of the hill

I'm still being careful of my hamstrings and building up really slowly, so I only did short 15 second run 45 seconds walk intervals up one of the hills. All the other uphill was walking. So my average pace was fairly low, even with jogging downhill.

I was pretty tired for this run, so I didn't get as much of a pace boost from running downhill as I usually do.

As a side note, I wore my marathon shoes for this run. I've been training my long and tempo runs in a blue pair of Altra Paradigm 2 shoes. Those now have some 180 miles on them, including my 22 miler from a couple weeks ago. I have a purple pair of the same model that have 60 miles on them now and those are the shoes I'll wear on the marathon. I just wanted to be sure there was nothing funky about them and they still will work for the marathon.

Thursday - 11 miles @ 12:22 (12:51)

This was my tempo run. I went super early to River Park to run a loop down to Smith Park and back via Raintree Parkway and Crockett Park. I did the same run last week, but this time I actually made the turn off Green Hill Blvd correctly, so didn't add an extra mile to my run. If I skip the stop at Smith Park, I can make it a 10 miler, but I like the rest stop at Smith Park to refill my water bottle and use the restroom. Means I don't have to carry my larger water bottle, I can make do with my Nathan soft flask.

This was another cold run at 38° with a cold breeze. Running to Smith Park, the wind was at my back. I was wearing my UA half zip and my PreCip jacket. I also had inknburn arm sleeves on under my half zip. Running with the wind at my back, I was a little warm, so I had my half zip completely unzipped and my PreCip jacket unzipped half-way. I was regretting bringing the PreCip jacket, but when I started running into the wind after my Smith Park break, I was so happy I had it. I zipped everything back up and was fairly comfortable for the entire run.

My tempo runs this past month or so have been mostly negative splits with me running the last 3 or 4 miles 30-45 seconds faster than marathon pace. But I was tired for this run and screwed up my fueling so those 2 things resulted in not being able to push my pace.

I usually eat a gel right before my run or in the first mile, but I didn't take my first gel until I'd gone almost 2 miles. Then I had 3 shot bloks at mile 4.5 and 3 more at mile 7. Then I didn't take another gel because I figured I was almost done, but I would have been better off taking one at mile 9, even with only 2 miles to go.

I only had the one stop at Smith Park, but that was 90 seconds longer than it should have been. I just wasn't moving very fast overall.

I did manage to maintain my pace when I was actually running. Every mile was at target pace or less than 10 seconds faster. It was just hard to keep churning out the miles. Fatigued legs. I could have gone further, but I was happy not to. I had a 12:22/mi average pace without the break. 12:51/mi average with.

Friday - 4 miles @ 14:03

This was not a hard run. A little hard mentally getting through the first mile, but watching a show on Hulu made the time pass easier. I toyed with the idea of not running this easy run, but doing so would pop me over the 40 mile mark for the week and it's still a bit new to me to say I ran over 40 miles this week, so that was enough motivation to get me on the treadmill!

New Podcasts

Normally when I run outside, I listen to songs. I have a specific running playlist, but I subscribe to Google Play Music and I'll listen to various radio stations to pass the time and mix up what I hear. I only listen to stuff that my phone has downloaded on wi-fi, so it's not using up my cell data.

This week, I decided to try a couple podcasts that I've never listened to before.

On Sunday, during my long run, I listened to Embrace Running. This is a podcast by Mark and Elena. I got to listen to their 2016 goals wrap up and their 2017 new goals podcasts. I also got to hear a trail race recap. I quite enjoyed listening to them chat about running and fully intend to keep listening.

On Thursday, during my tempo run, I listened to Tina Muir on the Runners Connect Run to the Top podcast. I got to listen to Tina interview triathlon coach Rob Wilby. This was a great intro to triathlons for runners. It "almost" made me want to try a triathlon. Almost.

I also got to listen to Tina interview Hannah Smith, an amazing woman that beat cancer and runs and is training for a triathlon after having 2/3rds of her stomach and esophagus removed! Her outlook is amazing and inspirational. I highly recommend this particular podcast episode.

All in all, definitely a success in listening to podcasts while running. Any others I should try? I would love recommendations.

Weekly Stats

Training mileage: 41 miles
Training time: 9 hours 7 minutes

Total Mileage*: 43.75 miles
Total Time*: 10 hours 11 minutes
Elevation Gain:  1,784 ft

* includes warm-up and cool-down

What's Next?

What a great question. What's next? I get to this portion of the post every week and I have to pause and think, really, what IS next? I get so focused on just the next workout and just this week that I really don't think about next week until I get here. Good thing I have a training schedule around here somewhere. I take a look at it and tweak it based on my previous performance.

Looks like this week I have 5 days of running on the schedule. A lighter long run of only 10 or 12 miles and a tempo run of the same length. Then easy runs to round out my mileage.