Long Beach Marathon Recovery

It has been 8 days since I ran the Long Beach Marathon.


I cannot lie, the first two days after the marathon were pretty uncomfortable. I spent most of Sunday afternoon watching football, resting, hydrating, and napping. I had Joe stretch out my legs for me which was very kind of him. I got a great nights sleep. Monday was pretty uncomfortable. I didn’t do too much of anything all day (luckily I had the day off) and my legs needed the day off. My feet were in pretty rough shape too with blood blisters and a toe nail that finally came off yesterday. I felt much better when I woke up Tuesday but I had to stand all day at work on Tuesday which really tested my legs. Sitting, bending, and walking up and down stairs was very uncomfortable and walking for 6 hours or so didn’t help the situation.

Wednesday and Thursday were much better and by Friday I had no soreness. I decided to wait until today to go on my first post marathon run. I’m really glad I waited. I probably could have tried earlier but my legs would have been very fatigued. The rest was necessary. I did a simple 4 mile out and back on the Strand and it was a fantastic run. No groin or ankle pain thank goodness! My legs were still a bit on the tired side.


Official photos are in! Running hard on the beach path.

Moving forward my running plan is just to do what feels good for the first month post-marathon. Last time I ran a marathon I was frustrated by how tired my legs still felt a few weeks out so I’m just gonna do what feels good for at least 1 month and then assess how I feel and where I am. I have to say: I have a burning desire to run the LA Marathon. I’m putting that decision on hold for a month so I can let the PR glow wear off a bit. I just know that I haven’t reached near my potential in training. There is so much room for improvement in my training meaning there is a lot of room to set a new PR. This is very enticing to me. No decision today but it’s on my mind. There are other training options on the table (get fast at a half marathon? Tri?) but I have plenty of time to figure out what I want to do.

In the meantime I’m focusing on doing what feels good, although after setting a new PR running feels pretty damn good right now. My other post-marathon goal is to focus on nutrition. I definitely use training as an excuse to eat like a glutton and I’ve gained some non-muscle training weight. Not a big deal. I’m just using Lose It! to track what I’m eating. I also am breaking down the nutrients in what I’m eating. I think if I eat smarter I will become a better runner.


Oh hey, a marathon photo.

In other news: I worked over my reported splits with my statistician (my dad) and realized that there is NO WAY the splits for mile 20 onward are accurate. 4 15 min miles followed by 2 5 min miles? Completely impossible. I was a bit bummed my stats weren’t accurate. My dad seemed to think I likely ran 13 min miles 20-24 and 9 min miles 24-26.2. I tell him all my times when I run so I trust his judgment. He also pointed out that I ran Long Beach 9% faster than I ran Chicago.


I believe I likely ran a 9 min mile for mile 25 and the .2 nub of mile 26 thanks to the above tattooed man. Thanks bro.

People keep telling me that I am a very photogenic runner. I assure you that I am not and if you look at my official race photos you can tell. Not my most flattering. I look like I’m running a marathon and not paying attention to the photographers. This is probably a good thing. Who wants to be the jackass holding up the race and posing ridiculously for photos? These race photos were exceptionally bad.


See I am not always photogenic.

Also, Gillian requested that I post my running playlist so here it is.





I repeat many songs while I run. This time around I was really into “Black Skinhead” by Kanye West and “Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Throughout my training I started putting 2 or 3 new songs on my training playlist. I did this for the race with 3 songs from the original Jock Jams. I am ashamed to admit how excited I was when “Pump the Jam” came on. Yay 1990’s. I hesitated to put “Shake it Off” by Florence and the Machine on my playlist but I was glad I did. It came on around mile 23. That song reminds me so much of the first time I took the bar exam. It reminded me of the frustrations I’ve had in the past year and really motivated me. Finally, I made the playlist extra long because I just wasn’t sure how long I would be running for. “Rebel Girl” by Bikini Kill was the last song that played as I ran downhill to the finish. “Rebel Girl” is one of my favorite running songs. I heard it start, I got excited but got so swept up as I was booking it to the finish line that I stopped listening to the music. Being so into a moment that you forget music is playing? Priceless.

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Long Beach Marathon Race Recap

My second marathon is in the books. I conquered the Long Beach Marathon yesterday with a 32 min PR.

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All photos after the above one were taken and edited by Joe who is way more talented with a camera than I will ever be.

This is a long post. If you want the short version: I ran hard, finished in 4:50 beating my B goal by 10 mins. I didn’t walk during the final mile, completing one of my non-time specific goals. I may have injured my ankle but I finished with a big smile on my face.

But let’s go back to the start.

Pre Race

I woke up at 4 am on Sunday morning. I stretched, covered my body in body glide (I was hoping to avoid the chafing issues I had in Chicago), got my hydration game going, took some Advil (I know, I know, and it came back to bite me later) and hit the road with Joe. I don’t want to gush too much but he woke up early with me, handled all the driving, parking, and communication with my friends who showed up to spectate, plus he was my personal race photographer, assistant after the race when I was hobbling around and was just 100% proud and supportive while doing it. It was his first marathon experience ever and I think he enjoyed it but not enough to run one himself. He is just a fantastic human being.

We made it to Long Beach quickly. I hopped out of the car and walked to the start line. I was able to easily hop into the porta potty line and navigate around the starter area. One of the benefits of the Long Beach Marathon is that there are only 5,000 runners. Far fewer people than run the Chicago Marathon. It was still dark outside. I stretched out a bit more and hopped into the corral. Because there are so few runners the entire corral system is open for the full marathon.

Unfortunately there was a delay starting the race because the course was not clear. The race ended up starting 17 mins late. I had to go to the bathroom again but was unable to access the bathroom because the porta potties were lined up on the other side of all the bicyclists who were doing the bike tour. During the delay I chatted with a nice lady who was running her first marathon. She was from Georgia. I was a bit nervous and, like last time, talking to a stranger calmed me down.

Finally we were off!

The Race

It only took 2 mins for me to get to the start line. Everyone around me started running before they reached the timing mat. WHY? I was going to walk for as long as I could before I had to run. The start was crowded but I managed to spot Joe just as I was passing him. He didn’t see me at first but managed to get this photo. Where’s Katherine?

Side note: the weather was flawless for running. The temps were in the 60’s and there was cloud cover for most of the race. Much more pleasant than it was in Chicago two years ago.

The first 6 miles of the course took us out over a small bridge, over to the Queen Mary and around back south on the bike path. I decided quickly to think of the race as 4- 6 mile segments. The first one was very nice. Obviously, it was the beginning of the race and we could see the sun rising over the ocean. Within a mile I knew I had to stop to use the porta potty and figured I should do it sooner than later. Stopping running is always easier first thing in the race. Like my last marathon, I was jealous of the men who could just pull to the side of the road and go. I waited in a short bathroom line and was on my merry way.

I was conscious of the cardinal rule of running: Don’t go out too fast. I had picked up a 4:45 pace band from the expo and I wore it with my running watch. This is the first race I’ve done with my running watch. I let my body pick the pace for the first 6 miles. I wanted it to be slow and maintainable obviously. I was running probably about :30 per mile faster than the pace band but the pace felt easy.

The major highlight of the first 6 miles was seeing Julie Weiss. Julie was featured in Spirit of the Marathon 2. She lives in Santa Monica and ran 52 marathons in 1 year to raise money for pancreatic cancer. She is a total badass and pretty inspirational. I yelled her name instinctively upon seeing her. She didn’t hear me but her friend (who is running 12 marathons in 1 year) did and pointed me out. I ran alongside them for about 1 min and we chatted about the 2011 Chicago Marathon which we both ran. It was a pretty cool running celebrity sighting.

I felt great during the first quarter of the race and I saw Joe standing at the mile 6 sign. I was so excited to see him.

After that I was a little weary because I knew I still had a long way to go and wouldn’t see him again until the final miles. The route went down the bike path. The sun was peeking out through the clouds and it was breathtaking. My only complaint is that the path was narrow and some girl had her unregistered boyfriend riding alongside her on a bike. It annoyed me and pushed me to get in front of them.

The second quarter of the race flew by. I was doing my usual routine, taking energy chews ever 45 mins or so and grabbing water from the stations. I ran while I fueled until the halfway point.

Around mile 8 I started to get hungry. I didn’t want to blow through my gels too fast so when I saw the Long Beach Tri Club around mile 8 or 9 with glazed donut holes I took full advantage. I was a bit nervous about taking a donut during a race because I’ve never eaten one while running before but I was hungry and decided to ditch conventional wisdom at eat the donut hole. I took it slowly and it felt good in my stomach thank goodness. Best race treat ever!

The miles between 9 and 17 flew by. I hit the half point, and headed towards Cal State Long Beach. I ran down “the hill” which would come back at mile 21. That portion of the course was out and back so I saw the elite runners which was cool. I was feeling great, staying positive, and having an easy time holding on to my pace. I started to walk through water stations after mile 13 and taking two cups because I was thirsty. I was careful not to over hydrate.

At mile 17 we ran into the CSULB campus. This is where my pace started to wane a bit. The area around the campus was duller than the rest of the course and there were some rolling hills. I did appreciate the frat bros who came out to cheer. Some were even dressed like zombies! Spectators really keep me going during a race. I rely on them to keep me moving. The course was pretty thin with spectators but it made me appreciate those that came out more. I decided to dedicate mile 18 to my best friend who started me running, Carolyn. She is my bicoastal bestie and ran her first half 7 months before I ran my first half. I didn’t think I could run 13.1 miles until she encouraged me. She’s been dealing with injuries over the past couple of years and hasn’t been healthy enough to run NYCM so she’s been deferring her entry fee. Thinking of her helped me push through mile 18.

Before I knew it I was at mile 20. I was so relieved to see the mile 20 marker. Only another 10k to go! At this point in the race I felt WAY better than I had in Chicago. I was tired and sore but I knew I was going to at least PR. I started to take walk breaks. I kept them short but I knew that my pace was dropping. At mile 21 I walked up the big hill because I knew I needed to conserve energy. My brain was yelling “run!” but I knew it would only burn what little energy I had left. I was glad to reach the hill because we were running along the out and back again. I could visualize the rest of the course and I knew my spectators would come up eventually. Funny and gross thing: around this point in the course there was a road kill squirrel in the middle of the course.

Around my mile 21 walk break I felt a tick in my left ankle. It was mild but not the type of pain you’re supposed to experience during a marathon. I’ve never had any ankle pain while running and my right ankle felt fine. This is how I knew my left ankle was not ok. The whole thing caught me off guard. I knew that the moment I finished I need to get to a medical tent and I hoped it wouldn’t get much worse before then. The pain went away after I started running and I didn’t feel it at all after mile 24.

I kept trotting along, taking a run/walk approach to get to the finish line after mile 21. I could tell from looking at my pace band that I was not going to make a sub 4:45 finish but I knew if I kept battling I could get my sub 5 hr finish I wanted so badly. Instinctively, my mind went into battle mode. I dug deep and thought about my friends who couldn’t run marathons, the people who died or were injured at the Boston Marathon last spring, and passing the bar on the second time after failing it the first time around. These were my main motivators through the final miles. I thought about how much I wanted to see Joe and my friends who came out for the race. I thought about my post race meal. Hell, I thought about anything that would keep me going when I wanted to quit. At mile 22 some guy on the sideline said “Katherine, carry me on your shoulders”. It’s hokey but his words helped push me. I started to think running the LA Marathon in March isn’t a crazy.

Mile 23 came and I started to think about how close I was to the finish. I baited myself with thoughts like “this is just a simple out and back on the strand. You eat those runs for breakfast. You can do this!”

Around this point in the course the half marathoner course met back up with the marathon course. This was not my favorite thing. Almost all of the half marathoners I saw at that point were walking. They were supposed to stay to the left of the course and there were even cones to mark it but they were bleeding pretty heavily into the marathon course and I had to expend a lot of energy in the final miles bobbing and weaving around them. This was probably my only major complaint about the Long Beach Marathon. The half marathoners split from the full marathoners after mile 26 so they didn’t clog the marathon finish line which was nice.

At mile 24 I saw Joe, my friend Gwen and my coworker Melody (whose husband ran the half and set a big PR). Melody had an awesome sign that said “Batman never ran a (half) marathon”. I have never been happier to see three people in my life.

Around this time I fell into pace with a man who can only be described as my marathon angel (he is the shirtless tattooed man in the above photo). He saw me walking after mile 24. I never truly “hit the wall” but miles 23-26.2 brought me close. I was so ready to be done. The tattooed man said something to the effect of: “run girl, we’re almost there!” I obeyed his ordered and stuck with him to the finish line. At mile 25 I remembered my goal and told him “do not let me walk”. I ran 80% of mile 24. At mile 25 I ran and did not stop until I hit the finish line! Everything in me walked to walk. My legs were screaming. My fingers were swelling. I wanted to walk but every time I said “go on without me!” tattoo man refused to leave me. I asked him to let me walk at least three times. Each time I asked him to go on because I felt like I was holding him back and, let’s face it, I really wanted to walk. At mile 25.2 I saw the big Jet Blue extra mile sign and I could see the message of encouragement Gillian left me!

I felt like the mile 26 sign would never come but it finally did. At mile 26.1 we turned the corner and headed downhill to the finish. Tattoo man pulled away and I ran to the finish, crossing the line in 4:50:50. That is an 11:06 min/mile pace, a 32 min PR and more than a min faster per mile than my Chicago Marathon pace.

For the record tattoo man did turn around after he hit the finish to give me a high five. I thanked him profusely for getting me through those final, most challenging two miles.

Post Race

I staggered through the finisher chute grabbing my space blanket, water, medal and food goodie bag. I ambled around the crowd near the end of the finisher chute (for the record, people crowding the finish chute… please step back. You’ll find your people and I just ran 26.2 miles so please get out of my way I’m having a hard enough time walking as it is).

I went to the medical tent where I got iced and reprimanded (rightfully so) for taking Advil before a race. My body but most noticeably my fingers were very swollen after I finished. It scared me. The medical tent is not somewhere you want to be at the end of a race. Joe was outside the medical tent and it felt so good to be reunited. Gwen came up to us pretty soon after I got out of the medical tent.

We headed over to Beachwood for a post race lunch of beer, tater top casserole and a ham and brie sandwich with Oliver and Melody.

YUM.

I spent all day yesterday taking an ice bath, watching football, taking an hour and a half long nap and generally relaxing. I drank 3 vitamin waters per the medical tent doctor’s orders and got almost 10 hours of sleep last night.

My splits

I knew the even splits I wanted were shot to hell after mile 20. The Long Beach Marathon website breaks them down in this really cool way.

Overall, I am very happy with my performance. Passing almost 300 people in the back half? I’ll take it! It would have been really amazing to hit 4:45 but I set a HUGE PR and I haven’t set a PR since June 2010. I’m basking in the post marathon glow, hobbling around and enjoying plenty of treats. My ankle feels OK (for now) and I plan to rest all week and then slowly ease back into running next week.

Thanks to everyone for their words of encouragement! I feel blessed that people read this blog and give me encouragement. It really means a lot to me. Thank you!

Long Beach Marathon. It’s Happening.

Hello Everyone!

As promised, I’m posting on the blog before the Long Beach Marathon. I realize that I haven’t blogged a lot about this marathon training cycle.

This is my second marathon. When I trained for my first marathon in Chicago everything felt like such a big deal. Every long run was a personal distance record. I challenged myself and my body in brand new ways. You know the old joke: “How can you tell that someone ran a marathon?” “Oh don’t worry. They’ll let you know”? That was me to a T. I have a blog which really is pretty much just a license to talk about ones self. After weeks of training race weekend finally arrived. I traveled to Chicago and was reunited with friends and family and ran my first marathon. My only goal was to finish, and I did, in over 5 hours. The whole experience felt epic and monumental.

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This time around I was committed to training but I talked about it less. Because I’ve taken on the distance before, the training felt less exciting. This is not necessarily a bad thing. I knew what to expect and I went into my long runs more confidently because I knew what to expect.

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THE GOOD: 

Unlike last time, where I trained with a 10:2 run/walk ratio, I focused on just running this time at least on my long runs. I’ve dealt with some on/off groin muscle issues which has led me to walk uphills on my runs however, my long runs were spent predominantly, well, running. I took far fewer walk breaks and was able to maintain a 10:50 pace on all my long runs. I even ran 12 miles two weeks ago at a sub 10:00 min mile pace. The average pace for my long runs was 10:30. I committed to walking the uphills due to the groin injury and walking every 45 mins for taking in Gu because I cannot run and also eat at the same time. Other than those short breaks, I just ran.

EDIT: this should read that I maintained at least a 10:50 pace (my 20 miler). Most of my training runs were done at a 10:30-ish pace)

I also had 5 training weeks where I covered over 30 miles thanks to added cycling. I challenged myself over labor day weekend and did an 18 mile bike ride followed by an 18 mile run the next day. Since I started training 12 weeks ago, I had 10 consecutive weeks of over 20 miles logged. This is pretty big for me. I’ll never be one of those people who can log 40-60 mile weeks on the regular. I’m just not built that way.

Given the effort I’ve put in though, I’m fairly confident I should be able to walk away from Long Beach with a PR, hopefully.

THE BAD: 

There isn’t anything BAD to report. On my run Monday my foot cramped up and started to hurt but it loosened up after walking and it didn’t bother me on my final run yesterday. I wish that I had done more (or lets face it- any) strength training during training. The week I was in San Francisco I didn’t get a long run in and I treated it like a step back week. Part of me is worried thinking I should have done another substantial long run of 16-18 miles. Its easy to second guess training during taper. I’m trying to stay confident right now and trust the process.

GOALS:

I’m so hesitant to announce goals for fear that I won’t meet them. However, I feel great about the pace I was able to produce on my long runs. I know the speedier runs I did with my run club are going to help me.  You never know what will happen on race day or during those final miles but here are my goals:

A+, over the moon goal: 4:45 or sub 4:45.

I picked up the 4:45 pace band at the expo today and plan to wear it during the race. This would put my pace at around 10:50 min miles. I feel this is do-able because long runs are to be done at about :30-:45 seconds slower than desired marathon pace. Additionally, I plugged my most recent half marathon time into McMillian and I was predicted to run a marathon in 4:25. This feels WAY too optimistic BUT I ran my 12 mile run 2 weeks ago at the same pace so there is hope I suppose. Can you tell I am rationalizing all my goals? It’s a marathon, a lot can happen. 

B goal that I will still be very happy to achieve: sub 5:00

This is big. A marathon with a 4 in front of it is a big hump to get over based on last time and I would be setting at least a 22 min PR which would be a huge achievement. I will be happy with running anything faster than 5 hrs. 

C Goal: Sub 5:22 (or 12:17 min mile)

Anything faster than this is a PR. Hurrah! 

D Goal: FINISH with a smile on my face

It’s hard to run 26.2 miles. Any day your body is fit enough to achieve this is a great day. I need to remember this. Amen. 

Non Time Goal: EVEN splits, no walking in the final mile

Last time I ran my pace dropped like a rock in the final 6 miles and I struggled to run. I noticed this trend in my early races, that I crap out and start to walk and kinda bag it towards the end when I’m tired. I’ve done a great job in the past two races I’ve run of not giving up near the end and pushing hard. I want to do that in Long Beach no matter how tired I feel. 

Expo: 

Today I hit up the expo with Gillian. Gillian and I were twitter friends turned blog friends turned real life friends. She is running the half and so we decided to take on the expo together.

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Overall I really loved the expo. There was enough to see without it being overwhelming. I was able to buy more body glide (essential) and also check out the booths with out being swept away in a crowd. Its nice to hit an expo with another runner so we could catch up on life, blogs we like to read, get off my internets, and races we want to run in the future.

I also really liked the t-shirts which are blue v neck tech tees. Unlike my Chicago Marathon finishers shirt it is not tiny. I cannot wait to wear it on the strand.

After we went to Simmzy’s of Long Beach for beer and burgers. As usual the food was bomb.

I have to work tomorrow for 6 hours but otherwise I’m putting my feet up and carb loading.

Thanks to all the people who have followed along with me and given me encouragement. If you want to track me my bib number is 3374 and the website is here.

Marathon Training: It’s about to get real

I haven’t updated the blog on marathon training in a long time so let’s get into it.

I started training for the Long Beach Marathon the week after the 4th of July. Unfortunately I had a gnarly summer cold for the entire month of June that put me out of commission. I was pretty freaked out going into training about having a tiny base to build on and a week or so less than last training cycle. I started training enthusiastically.

About a week into training, I noticed a pain in my right hip area. I’ve never had a serious running injury before. I’ve had some slight platers facitus issues and some it band tightness. I assumed this “hip pain” was just that. After taking a day or two off and icing I attempted a speed workout. While I was on the tract the pain got worse. I realized, after consulting Dr. Google, that the pain was actually groin pain. Apparently the groin can be pulled from running uphill which I do a lot of in Manhattan Beach.

For the next two weeks I took it pretty easy. I swapped my long run weeks and made the following week a cut back week. I also amped up the swimming and cycling while making sure I iced my hip consistently.

Within two weeks I was doing the same track workout with minimal pain. I’m very fortunate that the injury wasn’t worse. My body is basically back to normal. I have been icing after all my runs and mixing in cross training. I also have taken to walking up the more aggressive up hills on my running course. Manhattan Beach has 2 steep hills right off the strand that I have been able to run up but I don’t want to push myself too hard on them and reinjure myself.

Other than that minor issue, my training has been going well! Like I blogged before, I am doing my long runs on Monday’s. I’ve stuck to all of them so far which is great. This week I did a killer (for me) 16 mile run. The sun was out and it was a bit hotter than it’s been (this training cycle has been blessed with cool weather) but I felt like I dominated my 8 miles out and 8 miles back. I started slow which is great for me because I usually go out too fast. At the turn around I felt great, took a walk break and then headed back. The way back felt faster than the way out which is fantastic. It was also a beautiful day and I could see all the way to Malibu. I kept my watch on during the WHOLE run including my walking breaks and I did a 10:20 min/mile pace which I was pretty excited about.

Besides that, I’ve fallen off some of my training goals. I haven’t used hand weights in weeks, which is stupid. I really have no excuse since an arm burning takes all of 10 mins and I have weights in my bedroom. I also am getting in 3 to 4 runs a week. At least one of these runs is 5-8 miles with at least 1 shorter 2-3 mile run OR a 4 ish mile run OR both if I can get it in. I’ve also been pretty good at getting at least one bike ride a week in and while I haven’t gotten a swim in for two weeks, I’ve consistently been swimming once a week. I’ve also been taking 2 rest days a week typically which has been necessary. Running over 20 miles in 3 to 4 days makes my body feel creaky and I need the recovery time.

The past week or so I’ve been wondering how my training this time compares to my training 2 years ago, mileage wise. Luckily, when you have a blog you can go back and research these things. Last training cycle I was putting up similar miles and taking up a similar amount of rest days. However, this time around my midweek runs are longer. Also, I’ve been taking far fewer walking breaks. Last time I did all my long runs at a 10:2 run/walk pace. This time I’m only taking walk breaks as needed. Usually I walk at the turn around to shake out my legs and I walk every 45 mins to take in calories. I feel much stronger than I did last time and I’m starting to get excited about what I’ll be able to do on race day.

What else is new with running…. Oh! I finally got a hold on my fueling for long runs. I experimented with a few different fueling methods including sports beans, Gatorade energy chews and gel. Last time I ran a marathon I used Gu. The last half marathon I ran I used the Gatorade energy chews. I tried the sport bean thing but they really didn’t sustain me over the course of my long run. For my last run I used the G Series pre game drink, Gatorade energy chews and then the chocolate protein recovery shake. Overall, this method was the best. I never got hungry and I felt strong the entire time. I really liked drinking the protein shake after the run. I’ve done a terrible job of eating more to accommodate my hunger. I’ve been pretty hanrgy the last two or three weeks. This, hopefully, will help.

Goals

I’ve started to think about my race day goals. I don’t have solid goals set yet since I still have another month before I start to taper but I have the shape of goals forming. I think I should be able to set a PR pretty handedly in Long Beach. I also think I could run a sub 5 hour marathon. I’m holding off on setting other goals for now but I’m pretty excited about the way this race could turn out.

Running things I’ve been reading

Running has been almost all I’ve been thinking about for the past month or so and I’ve really enjoyed these three posts.

First, one of my favorite bloggers, Hungry Runner Girl, is going through a divorce. She wrote a post about how running makes us better at life. I couldn’t agree more.

I also really enjoyed this post from my spinning buddy Gillian about how running is mental. She’s right. With running attitude is everything.

I also enjoyed this post on the runners world website about how running steps can make you think about the years of your life. My marathon will take place when I am almost exactly 26 years and 2 months old. I am totally going to use this to push through those icky final miles. Finally, having a crummy time in my early twenties is good for something!

And now a photo of Izzy. Just because.

The end.

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.

Victory Lap

So as you could tell from my last blog post, I PASSED THE BAR EXAM!

Finding out that I passed was the proudest career moment of my life thus far. I worked really hard, twice, to achieve this goal. I had a huge smile of my face for several days after finding out the results and I still look at the screen shot I took of the screen telling me I passed because I can’t believe I really did it. I checked my scores with my boyfriend, drank a bottle of prosecco in celebration, and then went out for drinks and dinner to celebrate. It was probably one of the best nights of my life!

I also made a baller thank you breakfast for my boyfriend.

Behold:

This is my breakfast special: a layer of hash browns, with an egg scramble with onion, pepper, cheese, bacon and sausage topped off with avocado and more bacon on the side. I made a variation for myself that was the same but instead of scrambled I had mine sunny side up which is my new favorite way to eat eggs.

Last week my Dad was also in town on a stopover before going to the Grand Canyon for Memorial Day so we continued the celebration with several meals out at Circa in Manhattan Beach and Pecorino in Brentwood. When I was in high school if I made the honor roll my Father would take me out to dinner. Food is the best incentive ever for me so I obviously strove to make the honor roll every semester of high school. He declared our dinner at Pecorino to be the “final honor roll dinner”. It was nice to be around my old stomping grounds. We even popped into Tavern for a drink.

I was very anxious about bar exam results in the weeks leading up to May 17th. I started to work out more in order to distract myself. In addition to running I expanded my cross training. I start marathon training for Long Beach the week after the 4th of July. My working out hasn’t been focused since February and I definitely haven’t done a “long run” since then. Here is a rundown of what I’ve been up to.

Spinning

Thanks to hanging out with Gillian, I’ve been spinning more than usual. The week I got bar results we met up for a #SoulDate and went to Huckleberry after.

I could not love their brisket hash more.

Over out matching orders of brisket hash we decided to expand our spinning horizons and check out Fly Wheel. Fly Wheel is similar to Soul Cycle in that it’s a very expensive spinning class. However, the first Fly Wheel class is free! Obviously, we were in a Fly Wheel class about 10 days later.

Source

The Fly Wheel studio was very open and bright. The shoe rental is always free which I appreciate. When you arrive at the studio you sign in on computers and there is both cold and room temperature water available.

Gillian and I were attracted to Fly Wheel because of the torq board element. Basically, each bike has a little computer. You can control your “torq” or resistance and you also can see your RPM’s while you bike. The instructor tells you about where you should be in torq and RPM as you progress through the class. At the end of class you can go online and check your stats. There is also a leader board at the front of the room. At various times in class the instructor told us to sprint and put the leader board online.

As a competition junkie, I loved the torq board. It made me push way harder in class. Gillian loves competition as much as I do and for the class we went 1 and 2 on the torq board. Gillian got the number 1 spot. Unsurprising because she is a total badass and just ran Rock n Roll San Diego yesterday (her first) in under 4 hours.

Overall, I enjoyed Fly Wheel. I like that I can track my stats and I loved that the shoe rental is complimentary and how open and welcoming the studio is. The price of Fly Wheel and Soul Cycle are the same but Fly Wheel comes with more free “extras”. Let’s be honest, if I’m spending that much on a spinning class, it’s nice for them to throw in the shoe rental. I loved being able to track my distance and calories. On the whole, I think I like Soul Cycle more than Fly Wheel but I’ve also been doing it longer and have my favorite instructors etc.

Swimming

I’ve wanted to get back into swimming for a while and I finally bite the bullet and bought a swim suit online. I managed to find one at SwimOutlet.com for only $22. I decided to jump on it. Living in Manhattan Beach and South Bay there are tons of open pools with cheap lane swimming. Going into marathon training I want to have plenty of cross training options lined up for myself. Luckily it is pretty inexpensive to swim laps at the pools near my home (think $4). Way cheaper than Soul Cycle. Clearly, I need cost effective cross training options.

So far I’ve checked out the Hawthorne pool and one of the public pools in Manhattan Beach. I’ve loved both! Both are clean, there are always open lanes and they have kick boards readily available. I’m starting to look up beginner swim workouts. I’m not technically a beginner. I swan club at Northwestern when I was in middle school and I played water polo my freshman and sophomore years of high school. I wasn’t super talented, but I enjoyed being in the pool and spending time with my friends. I liked the occasional two a day work outs a lot less. I haven’t swum in a long time so I’m easing back in and looking up workouts online.

Today in fact, I went to the pool and completed an even 2000 yards. I did a warm up, alternating sets of kicking and pulls, a ladder, 200 yards of kicking and cool down. I realized I was going to be 200 yards shy of 2000 so I tacked on the kicking workout because I was so close to 2000.

Anyone out there swim? Any workouts you want to share?

Running

On the running front, I finally went to a running group in Manhattan Beach last week. I ran a mile to the store, 5 miles in my group and a mile home. Holy hills. My legs were DEAD the next day. I usually do not run in groups but I really dug this run in particular. I’ve been struggling to stay motivated, especially on the hills in my hood.

On Saturday I partook in a running and yoga class on the beach with the same running group. We did the run on soft sand which was more challenging than my usual run.

And finally, I am putting together my marathon training plan which will start in July! I’m taking this month to base build. Basically, I don’t want to feel dead after the first few weeks of training and I want to be able to hit the ground running next month. I’m piecing together a plan based on Hal Higdon and Nike. I want to do plenty of cross training and allow of rest days that will work with my schedule. What marathon training plans have you used? Any suggestions?

For Boston.

It’s been a hard day.

Almost 9 years ago in the summer of 2004 I made my first trip to Boston. I remember vividly stepping off the T at Hynes Convention Center and into the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston. It was love at first sight. A year later I moved to Boston to attend Simmons College.

As a student I would walk though the city and want to pinch myself. The city of Boston is a truly beautiful place: the cobblestone streets, green grass in the Public Garden, and even the dirty water in the Charles River. I learned all the streets, restaurants, and bars. I studied in the Boston Public Library and shopped in Copley Plaza. I attended Trinity Church and practiced yoga at Bikram Yoga Copley Square. I ate my graduation lunch at Stephanie’s just off Copley Square. Without a doubt, my favorite weekend in Boston was Patriots Day. Usually the weather is beautiful, the Red Sox are playing, people are out and about. Patriot’s day is a holiday and we would always be out and about watching the race. Hell, when I lived in Back Bay I lined Boylston Ave. a block from the explosions and watched the race. Patriot’s Day is the best day of the year in Boston.

A few years later I began running and fell in love with the marathon distance. For those who run, you know the Boston Marathon the way that I do. It’s a runner’s Holy Grail. You have to qualify in order to run. It’s the oldest marathon. It’s a marathon that Katherine Switzer integrated for women in the 1960’s. As a runner the Boston Marathon is a big deal but as a former Bostonian and runner, it holds a special place for me.

That’s why today has been a traumatic day. I wasn’t in Boston but this attack feels intensely personal.

We run marathons to test the human body and spirit. After months of training we take on the challenge of a 26.2 mile course. By the end, with the finish line in sight, we push ourselves with the knowledge that the people who love us and support us are at the finish line. Finishing a marathon is an emotional experience. So much goes into the race and the high at the end is unparalleled.

Seeing the terror at the finish line, blocks from my former home is horrifying and saddening. I cannot see or hear about the trauma occurring to the victims without getting emotional. I cannot hear stories from witnesses referencing parts of Boston I love without getting emotional. I know that if I were still living in Boston I would have been out watching.

However, I am not surprised at reports of runners continuing running from the finish line to Mass General to give blood. I am not surprised at many of my friends posting that they have beds open for those who have nowhere to go. Luckily, everyone I know is safe. Seeing the outpouring of love today has helped make a difficult day a little bit less difficult.

Marathons are about communities coming together to support runners and the idea that amazing feats are possible. Marathons are about celebrating achievement and hard work. They are overwhelmingly happy occasions. I don’t know what else to say. I love Boston. I love marathons. I hold the great hope that the city and the running community will rally around those injured and the families of those killed and the Boston Marathon will be great again.

“Triumph over adversity that’s what the marathon is all about. Nothing in life can’t triumph after that” -Kathrine Switzer

Back in the Saddle

This was my first week back on a training plan. I have not been on an official plan since over a year ago when I trained for Chicago. It felt good to be back on an actual plan. It’s been a while but I think the break was good. Rather than feeling fatigued by the plan, I feel energized. For those that didn’t see the prior post, I’m training for 13.1 LA in early January and I am using the Runner World sub 2 hr training plan. I tore it out of an old, old issue years ago and I’ve now plastered it to my fridge.

Here’s what I did last week:

Monday – 3 miles walking

Yeah, I’m counting my walking around Boston because I forgot how much walking I do there and I forgot how tired it makes my feet. This is why I never had a pair of shoes in Boston last longer than 1 season. I basically walked from Simmons to Flour in Cambridge and then to the T stop to go to the airport.

Oh, don’t worry; I managed to refuel with a sticky bun!

Tuesday – 4 miles easy

This run was hard. I was coming back from vacation and my liver and tummy were not happy about it.

Wednesday – 4 miles easy

I took the same route as Tuesday but the run was overall much easier. I had kind of a blah day and it felt so good to come home, lace up the shoes and hit the pavement. I also took no walk breaks.

Thursday – 5 miles tempo (1 mile warm up, 7:32, 8:32, 8:48, 1 mile cool down)

My first tempo run! I mapped out a one mile out and back and ran it three times plus a run to warm up and cool down. I went out way, way too fast on the first mile and crashed and burned a little bit. The final mile especially was struggles central. It happens. Now I know what I always suspected, that I start too quickly.

Friday – 7 miles easy

I did my first long run in a while, going 7 miles. It was nice to do a long run, since it’s been a while and be back on my old marathon training paths. My legs were pretty fried after the prior 3 days and I took the back half easy and took a stretch break half way through. I didn’t time this long run.

Saturday – rest

Sunday – rest

I had a festive weekend and I knew that I wasn’t going to want to run hence the back to back rest days. My legs were really shot on Friday night but feel 100% now on Sunday so that’s all good I guess. The signs on increased mileage are coming back (oh hello blisters). Overall, I’m really glad that I’m back into a training plan.

Back by popular request.

Gee whiz guys, I’m so flattered!

I know. I was blogless in June. This has not happened since, well December 2009 before I started this blog. In my defense I’ve had my hands a bit full over here.

Don’t let Izzy’s docile stare fool you, she is not amused with the lack of attention she’s getting.

***

At the end of May I started my bar prep class with BarBri. The class is every day from 9-1. After class we have homework, around 5-8 hours daily. The most overwhelming part of the process is the sheer amount of material I need to learn: contracts, criminal law, criminal procedure, torts, property, civil procedure, California civil procedure, remedies, evidence, agency and partnerships, corporations, community property, professional responsibility, federal evidence, California evidence, constitutional law, and wills and trusts. Some of the information has flooded back along with some amazing 1L memories and other bits and pieces have come back more slowly. Some of the topics are brand new. No surprise that I had no interest in taking corporations in law school yet I managed a large number of classes involving constitutional law. Yes, I still find boardrooms and stocks boring and affirmative action sexy. This will never change.

The process thus far has been long and tedious. I’ve been putting a lot of energy into keeping mental inventory of my adrenaline and anxiety while staying motivated and positive. The standard for passing the California bar exam is actually a failing score. The perfectionist in me still hates seeing anything less than the personal standard of acceptable I’ve more or less arbitrarily set for myself. However I’ve mostly been happy and focused on staying positive. In the past week I’ve really harnessed my adrenaline and I’m starting to actually feel excited to take the exam. Obviously, the feeling waxes and wanes but I’m feeling like I will soon be ready to take this exam out.

The last exam related thing I’ll say is that there is a big analogy to be had about marathon running and bar exam taking but I’m going to explore that more thoroughly another time.

***

In terms of food, my eats have been super dull recently. A lot of the stress I’ve experienced has been internalized and my appetite has been suppressed. I’ve been eating lots of KIND bars, Greek yogurt with granola (homemade sent from my mom!), take out from Subway, Lemonade, and Whole Foods. I’ve cooked salmon precisely once. I’ve cooked orzo precisely once. I’ve had more ramen and mac and cheese than I am comfortable admitting to. Despite this, the new jeans I bought the week after graduation are super loose. Go figure.

I did go to an amazing food truck fest with my fabulous friend David over the weekend. No photos made it out (I know!) but I ate at the Lime Truck, White Rabbit Truck, Ludo Truck, and Boba Tea Truck. The food was amazing. We had Wagyu beef foie gras cheese steak (getting in the foie before the ban started today) and carnitas fries at Lime Truck. Fried chicken was sampled at the Ludo truck and it was as tender and juicy as ever. No surprise there. We split a pork belly burrito at White Rabbit truck and got a taro bubble tea. It was a meat extravaganza and totally what I needed after a long study day. No photos as I mentioned but enjoy this vintage image of the fantastic fried chicken from Ludo truck:

Delicious!

I’ve resolved to make more of an effort with my eating and cooking in the next few weeks.

In terms of working out, that has been the biggest shift. I’ve been hitting yoga way more than I used to. I’m up to three or four times a week with long walks and periodic short runs in between to expel my extra energy. I super miss zumba and I will probably track down a class in the next few weeks since I am no longer able to use the UCLA gym. Farewell 18 year old weight lifters bathed in Axe body spray. I will not miss you.

I’ve been going to mostly heated vinyasa flow classes or “detox flow” classes where the heat is jacked up to around 90 degrees and I look like someone threw me in the ocean at the end of class. I love that feeling of lying on the mat at the end of class completely spent. Yoga has strengthened my arms and core and I think it’s partially responsible for my appetite suppression. Running distance makes you hungry. Very true story. The yoga is helping with the random hip stiffness (it band stiffness? Who knows?) and eventually I will ease back into running more regularly.

***

That is about all I have to report. What can I say? My life is boring right now. Things like discussing the merits of doing essays over multiple choice problems or the relative attractiveness of Chief Justice Roberts as compared to the other Supreme Court justices are about as exciting as its going to get at any given time. Sad I know.

24 more days.