Welcome to marathon training season

It’s that time again! Marathon training season has begun.

You might remember that I signed up for the Long Beach Marathon a few months ago. I was so burned out on running after Chicago 2011 but I am pumped to take on the challenge of a new marathon. I picked Long Beach because it’s close to home and has a beautiful course. Long Beach runs the same day as Chicago so I have the added benefit of an identical training cycle.

Because I can’t post this photo enough.

Well not exactly. I decided to hold off on starting training until after my 4th of July vacation. I was in South Dakota eating and drinking for a long weekend and knew there was no way I would want to run while on vacation or in the humidity. I had the never ending cold from hell for the entire month of June. I am a bit concerned that I started my training late this cycle. Based on my vacation and how I felt for the entire month of June I know my training would have been crummy. I’m trying to remind myself that where I am in July matters a lot less than where I am in September. Let’s just say I have a healthy level of concern about my training.

South Dakota: big open space, lots of beer.

For my training plan I ended up combining a couple of plans. Last time I used Kelley’s team in training plan. This time I’m combining a bit of what I did for Chicago and also incorporating workouts from the Nike Chicago plan (for 2013) as a guide. I didn’t want to fully commit to an intermediate training plan however I wanted to step up my training a bit this time around. Last time my goal was just to cross the finish line. I used a run/walk method (10:2) for all of my long runs, didn’t time many of my runs or pay attention to pace, and managed to cross the finish line in 5:22. I also didn’t do any speed work. This time around I plan on incorporating speed work, paying attention to my pace on long runs. I want to trounce my prior time and set a big PR this time around. Any PR would be awesome but I would like to run sub 5 hrs.

A few weeks ago I put my time from Rock n Roll Pasadena last February (which I barely trained for) into the McMillan Running Calculator…

Oh McMillan, you seductive temptress… putting ideas in my head.

I would love to run the full that fast and do think I am capable of it, but I’m going to hold off on setting specific race goals until at least early September. I also want to see what kind of pace I settle into for my long runs before making any grand declarations.

As for training: I am currently splitting my time between two jobs (one where I sit all day and one where I stand all day). I also have wonky weekends that run Sunday – Monday unlike the usual Saturday – Sunday that most of the plans are tailored to. As such, I’ve planned to do my long runs on Monday and I have planned out all my long runs leading up to the race. The long runs are critical and I do not want to miss any. I started last week with 6 and I will peak in mid September with my 20 miler.

The only runs I have physically in my calendar are my long runs. All other workouts for the week will be planned out on Monday’s in light of my work schedule and other life things I have going on. While some love a strict calendar, the idea of knowing how many miles I am going to run on a random Wednesday in late August freaks me out and I want flexibility.

Here is how I am breaking down my workouts

Running:

I have decided I will run 4 times a week. I already have my long runs planned for Mondays. I also will be doing one speed work run per week on the track near my house. Finally, I want to get in two more runs, which will be done at an easy pace. For these runs I want one to be on the longer side and one will be shorter. I know this sounds vague. The longer one will be at least 5 miles and build up to 9 miles. I can’t make it every week but I imagine that some of the “longer easy runs” will happen with Run Club. I wasn’t able to go last week or this week but I am going to make an effort to be more regular because I feel like the group pushes me to work harder. The shorter runs will be 3 to 4 mile shake out runs just for fun.

I am going to get into the habit of running with my watch. This way I can watch my pace and have some idea of how I can perform on marathon day. I reread my Complete Book of Women Running from Runners World last month and brushed up on some Hal Higdon advice regarding pacing for long runs which should help.

Swimming:

I’ve been swimming weekly since May and I’ve really enjoyed the diversity that it’s added to my workouts. Plus, I live in Southern California walking distance from a pool and its summer. I plan to continue to swim weekly. Usually I do somewhere between 1500 and 2000 yards per workout and I plan to keep this up as cross training. I can build lung and arm strength and hopefully take some pressure off my it bands and knees

Weights:

I almost never do weights despite owning them. Last week I did an arm burner from Fitnessista in addition to my swim workout. I’d love to incorporate weights once to twice a week. Last time I trained for a marathon I didn’t do any weights. My legs felt strong but the rest of my body didn’t feel strong if that makes sense. Specifically, I felt like my arms were totally lacking any strength. I want that to change this time around. This Nike Chicago plan calls for once a week strength training.

Soul Cycle:

As you know if you follow me of social media, I am addicted to Soul Cycle. Because it is expensive I only go once or twice a month. I’ll probably continue this practice as a form of cross training. Plus, it incorporates weights, which goes along with my goal of keeping my entire body in shape. In addition, I am going to be buying a bike in the next week or so. I plan to do some casual biking just for fun as the summer goes on. Not training really, but still time spent being active.

So how did last week go?

Monday: 6 mile run at 9:23/mile pace

It was hot and I tried to take it really slow but I had new running songs and somehow slow just didn’t happen

Tuesday: Arm burner, 1500 yard swim

I did the arm burner before work and the 1500 yard swim after work. The burner kinda kicked my ass. The swim was great. I did a kick set, a pull set, and then alternating 100 yards easy/hard. Love swimming in the summer time. I’ve found that it’s hard for me to run and then spend 8 hours at my standing job so I’m altering my training plans accordingly.

Wednesday: rest

Thursday: 3 mile run, 10:00/mile pace

I’m still getting to know my neighborhood so I just ran for 30 miles on a new to me random route. So. Many. Hills.

Friday: 3 mile run, with sprints every 1/4 mile.

Short speed work, didn’t time it. Will next week.

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Soul Cycle

I took Joe to his first Soul Cycle class. I’m definitely competitive and pushed harder because he was there. The weight routine was easy so I stepped it up to 2 lb weights which makes me feel like I can never go back to 1 lb-ers. Sunny is an awesome instructor and you should take her class if you haven’t already!

Weekly totals:

Miles: 13 (including swimming)

Workouts: 6

Overall I felt like last week was solid considering I didn’t workout the week before. This is not an ideal training week and after searching the #LongBeachMarathon on instagram I got concerned that I was too far behind. Trying to remind myself that it’s only July, I have the advantage of not feeling burned out, and I know (reasonably) what I am doing.

If you want to follow my training, I’m going to try to consistently post on Daily Mile and I’ll probably blog about it a little bit too.

ETA: I went on my 8 mile run on Monday and despite being slightly fatigued from Soul Cycle managed to pull a 9:08 pace out over 8 miles, even splits! I am quite pleased with this progress.

I believe that is about it for now. I plan to update the blog with some notes about training. Not sure if I want to do weekly posts or what. I’ve been slowing down on the blog, as you may have noticed. I just have other things that are taking my attention. I’d rather write when I feel like it and not feel compelled to keep up with some self imposed schedule. I have a good food post going up soon and I have an event at Pinkberry on Thursday that I will write about.

Seasoned marathoners: any advice? I’m always game for more.

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Pasadena Rock n Roll 1/2 Marathon Recap

Hey gang. Remember less than a week after I ran a marathon and I was all “I’m going to bust my 1/2 marathon PR!” so I signed up for this half marathon but then I took a ton of zumba and yoga and stopped running more than 3 miles a week? Yep. Less than a month ago I decided that I needed to get cracking on that training thang. I did a 6 miler, 8 miler, 10 miler and an almost 7 miler. Today, with less training than I’ve ever had going into a race I ran the inaugural Pasadena Rock n Roll 1/2 marathon.

The excitement started yesterday when I went to the expo to pick up my bib. The only other Rock n Roll race I ran was in San Diego and while I loved the race, the expo was mayhem. I braced myself for terrible lines BUT I was so happy when I arrived. The lay out was the same as San Diego but with a fraction of the people!

I was able to zip through and get all the free sample too! It’s called priorities people.

I also peeped at the medals.

People have critiques of the Rock n Roll series but they give fantastic medals! So heavy.

Then I went home and grabbed some friends. None of them were running today but they agreed to carb load in solidarity.

I got noodles with chicken and BACON.

Delicious!

This morning I actually got to sleep until 5 am (which is actually kinda late for race morning). I ate a bagel with peanut butter, as per the usual, and headed out the door to the race.

The race started and ended at The Rose Bowl. I kinda love the Rose Bowl. The first time I ever went there was in 1995 when Northwestern played USC (we, meaning Northwestern) lost. I didn’t get to see the game but I had a vivid memory of wandering the parking lot with my Mom and brother, hearing that Northwestern had lost and dealing with what felt at the time to be a crushing disappointment. It was the first of many to come as Northwestern has a truly terrible bowl game record. Can’t win them all, or any. I’ve been to the Rose Bowl several times since for the flea market they have their monthly or the see UCLA play. I was excited to run a race there today.

Darnell Autry, star of the 1995 Northwestern Wildcats. Source.

The weather today was perfect when we started running but freezing while waiting at the start line! I waited til the last moment to give up my polar fleece and then I headed to the start line and made small talk with some other runners. Before I knew it the race was underway!

I really loved this race. The course was hilly. The first few and final few miles were the most hilly. I hardly noticed the hills for the final few miles. The first 3 or 4 miles were through a residential neighborhood stacked with California craftsman style houses. I really loved this part of the course. After 4 miles the course turned onto Colorado Blvd. which is a Mecca for shopping! Clearly I enjoyed that part. The course also went down Green St. and out and back on several other side streets before heading back down Colorado towards the Rose Bowl. This went on til about mile 9.

Then we ran down my favorite part of the course:

source

Downhill, beautiful views, just gorgeous in every way. Of course what goes down must go up again. The course wound around and then headed back to and around the Rose Bowl. I think I prefer hills to flat running. Call me crazy but I’d rather see an uphill, get the satisfaction of running up the hill and then enjoying the downhill.

I felt good throughout the race overall. At no point did I want to quit or die. I set off at a conservative pace and I managed to hold even splits until after mile 10 (ha, what else is new?). It took about two miles for me to loosen up but after that I was in a zone until about the 10k mark. I took a handful of walk breaks in the second half. I mostly just walked some of the more aggressive up hills. I knew going into this race that this was probably going to be the slowest half marathon I’ve run. I barely trained at all coming off cold turkey not running. I won’t sugar coat it, my tush and legs were sore around mile 6. I was still pretty proud of myself for keeping even splits throughout the race.

My favorite part of the course, as I mentioned above was the Colorado Blvd bridge. It was a gradual downhill and the view was fantastic. After the bridge, however, I turned the cover and was faced with a steep uphill. I thought eff it, and walked up. This was at the 9.5 mile mark. As I reached the top “How Will I Know” by Whitney Houston, the dance remix came on my ipod and gave me the boost I needed to get moving again. Woo hoo for running for Whitney! After that downhill the last two miles was around a golf course next to the Rose Bowl. This part of the course was my least favorite. It was totally flat and felt like it lasted forever. I was having motivational issues trying to keep my legs moving. I actually ran past my car at one point, thought “oh, seeing the 26.2 sticker on it will motivate me!” and then I promptly took a walk break.

Around this part of the course a woman I was running near me introduced herself. We’d been giving each other encouragement since mile 9.5. Her name was Christine and she was a god send! Right before mile 12 she said, “I don’t know you but let’s hold each other accountable. After mile 12, we don’t walk”. I agreed. I always intend to run the final mile with no walking but I never actually am able to do so. We actually stuck to it too! I ran the final mile and .1. The best part? Mile 13 happened on a hill. Remember how mile 26 in Chicago happened on a hill? And I swore I would crush it but then of course I was exhausted and walked it? WELL. I redeemed myself a little bit today by not walking on the hill. It’s the small victories.

After I hit the mile 13 sign I sprinted. My legs were quaking but I thought to myself that I’d run the whole 13 mile race to get to THIS .1. It was awesome.

Here are my splits:

5k: 31:06

10k: 1:03:27

10 miles: 1:44:59

Final: 2:20:51

Average pace: 10:45

Again, not my fastest by any stretch but I really loved this race. It was good to get back into distance running. This race reminded me that I love running and 13.1 is a great distance. I can feel my marathon burn out fading away and I’m excited to dig into training again. It feels good to be back. The fact that with 1 months notice I can hop into a half marathon and run at a decent pace makes me proud. I used to be the kind of person who couldn’t run two miles and now I can hop into a half on short notice and THAT is pretty groovy.

After the race I met up with Danielle, her fiancé Tim (who I never met before and is awesome) and my friend Josh for brunch at the Griddle. You know, home of the HUGE pancakes. I got the oat and cinnamon pancake (personal favorite), bacon, hash browns (the carb special!), an ice tea and a mimosa. I actually scored a second mimosa for free! Our waiter noticed my medal, asked me what I had “won” (I told him I only won in my own heart HA!) and he refilled my mimosa gratis! The Griddle FTW!

Overall, this was a great race. I really loved running in Pasadena and I think I will be back there shortly. I’m going to jump into a more intense training plan (speed workouts and hill workouts and long runs oh my!) starting Wednesday with the hopes of getting in shape to PR in May. For now through I am happy to be back in happy racing mode.