One day to go.

I'm here in CT, staying with my brother, and this time tomorrow I'll be sitting on a towel in Staten Island, waiting (and waiting) for Wave 4 to get called to the line.  My brother will get a full hour plus start on me, so I'll have some solo time once he leaves.  I plan to read a throwaway thriller novel and also get in line frequently for the portapotties.

 

I'm psyched about this.  And thankful for every one of my donors.

I'm psyched about this.  And thankful for every one of my donors.

On Thursday (first day it opened!) we went into the city to pick up our bibs at the Javits center.  Seeing all the other runners walking past with their clear plastic drop bags and their numbers made me feel jittery and proud.  The convention was fun.  I splurged on a rain jacket and a t-shirt (matching with my bro), and took a lot of dorky running photos.

 

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

I did three shakeout runs this week, one at home, two here.  Hill training.  I practiced my mantras and thought through how I'll handle the bridges.  I tried to channel gratitude... I am so glad to be here and healthy.  I was freaking out about the weather because the east coast has decided to have a new season called Hotumn, but it looks like tomorrow will be 60 and light rain, which, fine. I guess no need for my sunglasses.  I'll bring and wear my hat but may toss it toward the end if I get too warm.  

So, I think that's a wrap!!  Race report to come.  Nerves taking over today....  But I'm ready to go.

The waiting

Forty degrees!  I ran all the way through summer and into the cold.

Forty degrees!  I ran all the way through summer and into the cold.

Last tempo!  Just a tune up.  One mile to warm up, five at tempo (race pace) to seal that in the muscle memory, and one to cool down.  Listened to my tempo playlist for the last time (it's called Heavy Petty).  

I just counted up on Strava, and this training block I did TEN tempo runs of 5 miles or over, topping out at ten.  I'm ready to run that pace for 26.2.  Nine days to go.

The waiting is the hardest part / Every day you get one more yard / You take it on faith / You take it to the heart / The waiting is the hardest part

(The tempos are the hardest part.)

 

I got all I need

Wrapping it up, you guys!  Taper time.  Don't tell the Hanson bros, but I'm deviating a little from their taper.  Which is not really a taper, IMO.  I know I thrive on more of a real rest in the last weeks of training, so I'm going my own way here at the end.  Keeping the pace and frequency the same, but dialing down the volume.  I think it will really help me absorb the work and feel fresh on the start line.  Plus, I was feeling a little maxed out, to be honest.  I hit three 50+ weeks in the past two months, and that's a lot for me.  I wasn't injured but I was a little worried about tipping into overtraining.  The last long tempo drained me, and I was a little under the weather so recovering took longer.  My legs felt trashed for the next few days, which was unusual.  So I cut one run short and then took an extra day off, and that helped.

 

Recovering.  Trying to.

Recovering.  Trying to.

So last Friday was my last ten mile tempo, twelve total.  I wasn't feeling great.  The day before I'd gotten my flu shot and felt the effects.  (BECAUSE I'M A FINELY TUNED MACHINE, ha.)  Felt a little feverish, a little gland-swollen.  I was thinking I could try to back off the pace, but I also really wanted to nail this last long important run.  So I went for it.  Of course it had to be a hot day.  Overall, I got the paces in and didn't feel really bad until the last two miles.  I stopped twice for a minute or two to drink water and get my shit together.  I had to go to the well for that last mile.  And felt pretty wobbly and knocked out after.  Though the lake was a good cool down, even in October.

 

Not summer, still feels like summer  

Not summer, still feels like summer

 

Except now fall is here, a few days later

Except now fall is here, a few days later

Today I ran my last strength workout, 3 x 1 mile at 9:34.  I felt strong enough that it was hard to keep my pace down.  But also legs a little sore and heavy.  Will need to amp up the yoga stretches and some protein, and in a few days I hope they'll be more normal.  Definitely feeling reflective today.  I chose to listen to one of my earliest playlists from way back in the summer when I was just beginning the intervals, 10 400s, etc.  That brought me back.  Can't believe I've come this far... race is in just a week and a half.  One more tempo (just to sharpen up), and a bunch of easy runs, and then: go time.

 

Spend a lot of time out here, but I never get over how beautiful the clouds can be  

Spend a lot of time out here, but I never get over how beautiful the clouds can be

 

Peak Week

It's here, you guys!  I'm in Week 15 of you know what (oh shit Hanson's, I had to).  It's the last big week before taper... although for the Hanson boys this isn't your granddad's taper.  More on that to come.  But this is my last big mileage week - the one that will include a 16 miler on Sunday (last one of those), several 6 mile easy days, one strength workout (today: check!) of 9 miles with 3x2 mile repeats, and one 10 mile tempo that's right I said TEN MILE TEMPO.  Will net out at about 55 miles.  I'm excited.  

Some wrap up for the past week or two:

 

Farmland running is pretty

Farmland running is pretty

I've been doing every Saturday run out in a different far suburb after my daughter's XC meets.  First I watch her and her teammates kick butt in their race, then I find whatever forest preserve or nature path or bike loop is nearby and there almost always is one.  I get in as many miles as I can before it's time to drive home.  This all takes some juggling with her schedule and the rest of the family, and has made for some pretty interesting slash uncomfortable runs (when I take off on a long hot 8 miler without water for example).  Plus I'm always nervous I'll get lost way out in the prairie.  But I always seem to make it back and it's been a nice break from the lakefront path.

 

Fall leaves, water fountain, happy girl

Fall leaves, water fountain, happy girl

Above is me at the halfway point of my biggest strength workout - last week's 2 x 3 miler at 9:34 (race pace minus 10 seconds).  I felt like I rocked it, and I was super glad to see this tree in full autumn foliage when I stopped to wash down a gel with some water.  Can't believe I could hold that pace so comfortably for so long.  This training has gotten me so much stronger.

 

Seen at XC meet.  I approve this message

Seen at XC meet.  I approve this message

No photos of my Friday tempo runs because I am all business on those.  But they have been good - tough but good.  I've chosen to go south on the path even though it's a trickier route, some footing stuff and hopping up and down curbs, the underpass, etc.  I wanted to prep myself for all of that in the race while still holding race pace.  I've also been practicing taking my gels at 4 and 8, while running, then hitting a water stop when I come across it.  I can't really practice the cup water thing, but so be it.  I'm happy that I can nail race pace for nine miles.  On Friday I will bring that to ten.  It's probably the most important run of the week, and I'm glad I'm teaching my muscles and mind this pace so that I can memorize it.

 

Rupp city!

Rupp city!

Last Sunday was a fun running day.  Chicago marathon!  Had many friends running it but unlike past years where I cheered them on from about mile 9 near my house, this year my oldest and her XC team were manning an aid station right at mile 24-ish.  So I was up and out early with her, got her set up down town, and then did an El train / crazy cross town dash (cutting across two separate streams of runners) to try to catch the leaders entering the west loop.  Then ran downtown several miles just in time to watch Galen Rupp bust it out for the lead - in the video (not shown) I am screeching at him to "go get it" and he listened to me!  Won the race, first American in a long time to do so.  Almost as impressive as Jordan Hasay's 3rd place in 2:20... amazing.  It was so fun to watch them up close and then hit the lake front path for the rest of my 10 mile run.  I was a little too amped though.

 

Breakers 

Breakers 

Tuesday's strength workout was made more interesting by 20 mph winds and light rain.  I think I got a headwind going north and then south or maybe it was just wind all over the place.  Nailed the paces, though.  3 x 2 miles @ 9:34, with some WU and CD.

And if you think I don't pick up the pace as soon as this comes on, you don't know me that well:

 

PS: it's Friday now, a couple days after I started this entry, and earlier today I did my first 10 mile tempo run (12 total).  WHOA.  That was a really tough effort, last two miles especially.  I had to dig deep.  I'm also semi-amazed at myself.  (And can't stop thinking that if I'd wanted to train like this when I was 28 I could have put up some good marathon times.  Oh well.)

Also, saw this on a fence post when I stopped for a quick water fountain visit.

I know I said I don't take photos on tempo days.  But this called out for a photo.

I know I said I don't take photos on tempo days.  But this called out for a photo.

I gotta have faith

Come on, you know you need to see that butt in those jeans:

Maybe the title of this should be "I'm starting to have faith."  Honestly, when I started this training block, I wasn't sure I could handle it.  I was doubtful about my ability to handle the mileage, to not get injured, to be able to be a (somewhat) normal and happy person at work and with my family while incorporating what is to me, a LOT of training.  I was worried I wouldn't hit the paces.  That I'd burn out.  That I'd be grumpy all the time, hating my runs.  That I just couldn't hack it.

But now here I am, in week 13 of oh shit Hanson's, and I'm actually doing it.  

I'm so fucking proud of myself for getting through the heat wave of the past few weeks.  If you know me, you know I do NOT do well in high temps and humidity, and, well, that's what Chicago handed us recently.  

To get through it, I got up before the sun.

 

Several miles in when I saw this on the horizon

Several miles in when I saw this on the horizon

But it was bad.  The dew point was off the charts.  Every run felt like a struggle and a slog.  Like my heart and lungs were working way too hard.  I think I don't actually sweat enough (despite what you see in some of these photos.)  It's hard for me to cool down enough.  On one particularly miserable 8 miler after my daughter's XC race, I did slow laps of a loop in a blazing prairie under full sun around noon and seriously thought I might pass out.  It also takes me hours and hours to get rehydrated after a run like that.  Not so good on the system.

And I did bail completely on last week's tempo.  I got up pre-dawn, with a bad migraine, saw the weather was already in the 80s with 90 percent humidity and just: no.  It was the sane thing to do but you know I still feel lame about it.

But I got through every one of those other runs, and I have to say that means I surmounted one of my other big fears about this training block: training through a Chicago summer.  

 

I thought I was getting a selfie of me and the rising sun, but no.

I thought I was getting a selfie of me and the rising sun, but no.

My reward came on Wednesday, when the heat wave broke just in time for my strength workout: warmup and then 3 x 2 miles at GMP minus 10 seconds (for me, that means 9:34), then a cool down.  What else to say other than I nailed it?  Felt strong, fluid, controlled the entire time.

 

Strength 

Strength 

I remember looking ahead to this workout when I started the plan, seeing it in the middle of a 55 mile week and thinking, how the hell am I going to do that?  But now it's done, and done well.  More importantly: I had a beautiful flow experience running it, the kind of mental/physical vibe written about by Csikszentmihalyi, where you are working at or near your peak on something you really care about.  A perfect merge of challenge and achievement.

Anyway.  Tomorrow's 9 mile tempo already has me stressing.  

 

Keeping the faith

Keeping the faith

Anatomy of a long run

It's 7 am.  I've been up since 6 (luxurious sleeping in), and had toast with peanut butter and honey, some Nuun water, and a cup of coffee.  Read the new issue of Runner's World, tried to get dressed and find body glide and put in my contacts without waking up the sleeping household.  Then, out the door.

 

Secret place for dorky warmup moves

Secret place for dorky warmup moves

This is my view before each run, behind our house.  It's where I fiddle with my phone and headphones, get my Garmin GPS to wake up, and go through a few warmup mobility moves: lunge matrix, leg swings, and sometimes some calf pumps.  I tried to do a selfie of me lunging but it's a pretty atrocious photo so I will spare you.  Instead, here's me acknowledging that it is, indeed, time to start running 16 miles.

 

Oh, fine, let's do this.

Oh, fine, let's do this.

I don't know what my affinity is for this thing.

I don't know what my affinity is for this thing.

First, above, I have to point out my armband.  No idea what brand.  I've had it forever and I never wash it.  It's cracked and the velcro is almost entirely given out.  It unwraps from my arm at least six times per run and I can't even begin to tell you what it smells like.  And yet, although I'll happily splurge on a new pair of Hoka's or a Oiselle top, for some reason replacing this thing seems unnecessary.   My running-economy priorities are weird, but they are fixed.

Okay, so off I go.  The plan is to head south for four miles, north for eight, and then back south for another four.  I'm also going to work my usual listening protocol for long runs, alternating between a book on tape and music.  For the first four miles, it's Attica Locke's new Bluebird, Bluebird which is a novel about a down-on-his-luck Texas Ranger investigating two murders in a small rural TX town.  It's wonderful so far.  You should read it.

I remember as I run the Oak Street Curve that today is the CARA Ready to Run 20 miler, which means that pretty much anyone in Chicago doing a fall marathon will be out on the lakefront for the point-to-point supported 20 miler.  Except me.  I am a lone wolf this training block, and although it's a little weird to wave and say hi to all these runners I know, I'm happy to be on my own.

 

Flock of geese in a sedate line, heading north.

Flock of geese in a sedate line, heading north.

Well, only about three miles in and it's time for a pit stop.  What can I say.  Luckily, Navy Pier has it all: air-conditioning, clean bathrooms, and a water fountain.

 

Also there's a Bubba Gump shrimp restaurant.  Weird.

Also there's a Bubba Gump shrimp restaurant.  Weird.

Back at it, heading south.  I should note that it is hotter than I wanted it to be - mid-70s, and pretty humid.  No wind, but a mix of clouds and sun.  I chose to go south first because I think that's the hotter section on the path.  I try to hit the water fountains about every two miles and make sure to take in several gulps at least.

At mile four, I'm about down by the Chicago Yacht Club (fancy!) where I stop for a drink at the non-fancy parks dept water fountain and toast myself with gel number one:

 

I love these despite the Lance connection

I love these despite the Lance connection

Down the hatch, washed down with water.  All right, time to head north.  But first, switching over to music and taking a break from chasing a gang of racist thugs in Lark, Texas.  I have an old playlist called "Country music LR" and that's what's up today, lots of golden oldies that keep me mellow and easy on the pace.

Speaking of pace, I've run the first few miles in about 11, now I'll push it down to between 10:30 and 11, which is where I stay pretty much the rest of the run.  If it were cooler, I would keep it at 10:30, but I'm giving myself a little leeway given the heat and humidity.

Heading north on the Oak Street curve I pass wave after wave of Ready to Run 20 milers heading in the opposite direction.

Mile 8 happens just north of Fullerton, over the bridge.  Legs feeling a little achy in the knees and tight in the hips, so at each water stop I try to do some hip circles or a squat or two.  Not much you can do about it on the run.

 

Gel number two, I salute you.

Gel number two, I salute you.

The 20 mile groups have thinned so it's quieter north on the path, which I like.  Around mile 10, I run into my friend Shana, and stop for a minute so we can chat about work, families, running, and of course - our national nightmare.  It's good to see her and we make plans for some runs together in the winter after my you-know-what is done.

Forgot to say I switched over to the novel again after a nice chunk of country music.  Powered by some Kris K.

 

Starting to drag a little, around miles 10 and 11.  It doesn't help that there's a giant walk for the cure type race up around Montrose, with huge crowds of walkers taking over the entire path.  One woman even snidely said to me, "You're going the wrong way" as SHE was blocking me on the right side of the path.  It was like wading through a parade.

Finally, I reach 12 miles, turn around point at the north-most end of the park.  And I realize that maybe I've miscalculated my route, not taking into account the half mile to the path from our house.  So what will happen is that I'll hit 16 while I'm still about a mile away from home.  Oh well. Too tired to care much about that now.

At the rotary at Foster Beach, I stop for a nice stretch and notice the changing leaves.  Fall is coming.

 

New-ish shoes.

New-ish shoes.

Either the last gel or the second wave of country music gives me some new energy, and I hit some faster miles on the way south.

Love this song in the Johnny Cash bio-pic when Reese and Joaquin do it:

 

So then I felt pretty good.  Ran through some mantras in my head - I have one where I do a body scan and relax each part sequentially also picturing waves of blue energy to cool me down.  What can I say, I need something to do in my head that long on the road.

Finally, that last beep of the watch, and done!

 

Sweaty foggy camera lens.

Sweaty foggy camera lens.

16 miles for the day.

51.7 for the week.

Done!

And then I jumped in the lake:

 

IMG_2623.PNG

I'm looking for a new love, baby

Tired face.

Tired face.

Checking in from the start of week 11, oh shit Hanson's plan.  Today marked a new beginning.  I'm finished with the "speed" phase of training and on to the "strength" phase.  There's a lot of science behind it but basically it means I'm done with the shorter faster intervals and on to longer repeats that are more marathon-specific.  So instead of Monday's 3 miles of work, I will now have Monday's 6 miles of work.  Hmm.  The key is pace, as it always is with those Hanson's boys.  My speed intervals were at my 10K pace, which is approx 8:55.  Strength intervals are at a specific pace they call "GMP minus 10 seconds."  Goal marathon pace minus ten seconds, which for me means 9:34.  So today I did a warmup mile then 6 miles at 9:34 (ISH) with 400 jog, and another cooldown mile.

It went well - despite the droopiness of my face above - but I had a little trouble locking into the pace.  I think I got used to the pushing-it feeling of my speed intervals and also to the 9:44 regular clicking off the miles pace of my tempo runs, so this in-between rhythm had me a little confused.  I started out too fast on nearly every mile, then had to make myself slow enough to find the rhythm but not TOO much to overcompensate.  Huh.  Still looking for that new love on Mondays.  I'll get there.

In other news, it's freaking WEEK ELEVEN and I'm actually doing this.  I can't tell you how amazed I am, but I'm a little afraid to even write about it because what if I jinx things.  Sure, I have the usual aches and pains and tiredness and some runs are crap BUT... I'm doing it.  There were so many times in the past year where I dreamed of trying this marathon plan but really not sure I could hack it.  And here I am, hacking it.  

In other other news, it seems like all I do is run.  Every day, multiple hours of running.  So many sweaty clothes to wash, so many fueling foods afterward, so many hours of pump up music playlists and audiobooks.  Getting a little sick of the lakefront path, not gonna lie.  My major decision: should I go NORTH or SOUTH.  That's it.  Nothing else changes.  

(I'm sorry, lakefront path!  Forget it!  I didn't mean it.  I can't quit you!!)

Last week: 46 miles. 

This week: 54.  

HOLY SHITE.

Today music-powered by (yes, you knew it):

 

Dawn patrol

Sunrise reward for pre-dawn start

Sunrise reward for pre-dawn start

Most of my runs in the last part of the summer have been early ones.  Way early.  Leaving at dark early.  Getting up in the 4 hour sometimes early.  This is for family scheduling reasons and I'm sure I'm complaining about it plenty at home but the truth is that for all the exhaustion (and the iffiness of running pre-light), I do love what happens when I'm out there at that time.

This sunrise, for example.  I was on the street heading to the lake and the sun was a huge ball of orange fire, a big burning egg, right at the horizon above the lake.  Framed perfectly by the bridge at the highway underpass.  I ran so fast to see it out on the waterfront but by the time I got there it was smaller and higher in the sky.  Still incredibly beautiful though, so I did my dorky running selfie, above.  

It's amazing what you get to see when you're out there in time.

Checking in from the beginning of week 9, Hanson's plan style!  (Oh shit, Hanson's.)  Last week was a good one.  I hit 40 mpw for the first time (looked like I was going to end up at 39.8 and you know THAT WOULDN'T PLAY, so I made my 10 yesterday into a 10.2 just because I'm Type A like that.  You are too.  You're reading a running blog, come on.)  Speed and tempo workouts went well.  Tempo thursday went especially well: it was cool, breezy, and I remember thinking to myself just before I dropped the pace, "this is going to be fun."  And it was!  Yesterday's 10 miler was similarly focused, strong, and I felt good throughout.  Hit my paces exactly on both, without too much effort.

This morning, however: bleh.  5 miles easy.  But those easy runs are so hard.  It's like I gear up for the tough days, get prepared mentally, get my sleep and water dialed in, etc.  And the effort pays off.  For the easy days, I roll out sometimes without thinking too much about it and then they kick my ass.  Today was that day.  I felt weak and shaky halfway through (maybe half a banana wasn't enough fuel), had to walk a bit, and then trotted it in.  Oh well.  It is what it is.

This week kicks things UP a notch.  The long run gets real, gets long that is, at 15.  Plus a tempo on Thursday that I don't even want to think about yet.  

More to come.

Audio-book powered these days by Jonathan Dee's excellent new novel, The Locals.  Check it out.

Lucky for you that's what I like

Marathon training has kicked in for real, after a few wobbly weeks of less-than-ideal mileage due to travel, family stuff, you know how it is.  But I've done two speed sessions and they've gone well.  Better than well: fun!  I often think that I'm still a middle distance runner at heart, and it shows when I do any kind of repeats or intervals, even when I'm doing them up and down the lakefront following Garmin beeps rather than around a track.  I always want to push the pace and it can get hard for me to lock into marathon "speed" intervals as opposed to that old (SO OLD) muscle memory of 70 second quarters, dozens of them, every Monday morning.

 

Yeah.  So, as you can see, pace is a little different in marathon training.  Hanson's says my speed pace for these weekly sessions should be 10K race pace, so that's about 8:55 for me.  

Next week we stepped it up to 600 repeats except Garmin won't let me program meters so I could either set for .35 or .40 mile.  I chose .35 because I can be a wimp, but in exchange for wimpiness, check my consistency:

 

These continue to go up in distance until about a mile, I think.  Then I'll switch to "strength" repeats instead of speed.  But for now, it's good times early out on the path.

 

Music-powered by:

 

Track and Field World Championships!

I was lucky enough to be in London during the Worlds, and was able to get a ticket for opening night on Friday... and then to watch the marathon right along the Thames on Sunday!  Here are some photos.

 

Moody sky over London Stadium but it didn't rain

Moody sky over London Stadium but it didn't rain

First things first: they let you drink beer in the stadium.  Because they're British, and smart.  Unlike SOME track venues (I'm looking at you, EUGENE.)

First things first: they let you drink beer in the stadium.  Because they're British, and smart.  Unlike SOME track venues (I'm looking at you, EUGENE.)

That's Jenny Simpson down there on the last lap of her opening round but you'll have to take my word for it.  I was waaaaay up in the cheap seats.

That's Jenny Simpson down there on the last lap of her opening round but you'll have to take my word for it.  I was waaaaay up in the cheap seats.

First and last time I see Usain Bolt in action.  What a legend.

First and last time I see Usain Bolt in action.  What a legend.

All of us - the entire stadium - on our feet during Mo Farah's final 10K.

All of us - the entire stadium - on our feet during Mo Farah's final 10K.

Thunderous crowd glory when he won.  I was shaking, throat sore.  G.O.A.T.

Thunderous crowd glory when he won.  I was shaking, throat sore.  G.O.A.T.

Sunday: beautiful day to spend hours on the Thames watching the worlds marathon

Sunday: beautiful day to spend hours on the Thames watching the worlds marathon

Men's leaders around 5K.  It was a four loop course, so you got to see the runners eight times.  That is, if you stood on the barricades all day (first men's race, then women's).  As I did.  You're welcome.

Men's leaders around 5K.  It was a four loop course, so you got to see the runners eight times.  That is, if you stood on the barricades all day (first men's race, then women's).  As I did.  You're welcome.

Callum Hawkins from GB, en route to a great 4th place finish

Callum Hawkins from GB, en route to a great 4th place finish

God, I loved watching the women's race and being this close.  Amy Hastings!

God, I loved watching the women's race and being this close.  Amy Hastings!

And here she is coming back, en route to a BRONZE MEDAL finish: Amy MF Hastings!

And here she is coming back, en route to a BRONZE MEDAL finish: Amy MF Hastings!

Late in the day

Isn't this a smirky little selfie?

Isn't this a smirky little selfie?

5 miles, cruising along at easy pace (11:15, as per HANSON'S).  Audio-book-powered by Roxane Gay's powerful, crushing, thrilling memoir Hunger.  You should read it.

I ran later in the day than usual, left my house around 5.  I love the rare late afternoon run (when it's cool enough to do so, of course.)  The light is so full and golden, the whole after-work crowd is mellow and out on the path doing their run or bike with the happiness of shaking off the office. I had chickpea curry going in the crockpot so there's that to look forward to.  My work for the day is done so I don't have to rush my after-run strength exercises and I can take a little more time to scroll through Strava or blog or just drink water and relax.  

I'm starting week four of the OH SHIT HANSON'S marathon training plan and so far, so good.  It's just been easy miles.  No "SOS" (something of substance) runs until week after next, I think.  I like that I'm building a lot of aerobic goodness with all this easy pace running.  My legs are feeling good.  I'm in a rhythm.  I wouldn't say I'm in a thrilled-about-running phase at the moment, and certain travel plans have made it a little difficult to follow the plan exactly, but I'm getting it mostly done.  I think my goal this training cycle will be no drama.  I want to do the work but not obsess if something gets in the way occasionally, as it inevitably will.  You know: life.  

 

Lakefront path, how I love thee

Do you know how many bikes I had to dodge for this run-selfie?

Do you know how many bikes I had to dodge for this run-selfie?

I hope you appreciate the realness of my running outfit here - the top is fire but the shorts are circa early 2000's, some old Nikes I call the "baggies" and I think you can see why.

New Hoka's!  Straight outta the box.

5 miles, nice n' easy as per the Hanson boys.

First Saturday in a long time I haven't done a long run, and I won't lie that I felt a little lame.  The first month of training is going to keep me at 21 miles per week, with just easy runs.  (Easy defined as 1.5 to 2.5 minutes per mile slower than goal marathon pace.)  That means 11:15 at the fast end for me.  "Fast."  Yes, it does feel weird to be running this 5 miler slower than my usual 10 miler.  But I know, I know, I know how hard it's going to get down the road this summer.  So I'm going to stick to the prescribed paces.  Easy days easy.  Hard days hard.  No real middle ground, at least in this training block.  

Yesterday in the car I listened to this ep of Marathon Talk.  I love Martin and Tom's accents, and how they rib each other.  They had a good wrap up of the British Athletics trials for Worlds, reading out some recent news editorials about the sad state of track for fans - how to invigorate it for the next generation.   Speculated that Mo may be running his last track race at Worlds in August (of particular note to me!  more on that later!).  But what I wanted to mention here was their interview with Simon Marshall and Lesley Paterson about their new book Brave Athlete which has a fantastic subtitle: "Calm the Fuck Down and Rise to the Occasion."  It's about the mental side of endurance events, and on the podcast they gave lots of practical ideas about how to change your mental game when the shit hits the fan.  Counting is one.  Counting to four over and over, can actually move your brain to a different space from the pain cave.  Tapping (your thumbs against your hands) is another.  I can't remember all of them but it was sufficiently useful enough that I plan to download the book to listen to while I run.  (There was also a moving discussion about how to cope with the mental side of being injured - how long to let yourself "moan" [Brits are always moaning] and then how and when to simply change your attitude.)  Check it out.

As for today's run, still audio-powered by Camino Island.  Totally enjoyable.

 

Embracing the easy pace (or trying to): a story of two runs

on the overpass north of Fullerton

on the overpass north of Fullerton

Tuesday I practiced a speed workout from the upcoming marathon cycle (oh shit HANSON'S!).  1 mile warmup and then 6 x 800 at 10K pace (which for me is 8:55) with 400 jog rest, then 1 mile cool down.  I nailed the pace on the 800s - 4:28, 4:27, 4:26, 4:27, 4:25, 4:27 - but it took a lot of looking at my watch.  I found I'd jump out to a way fast pace in the first 30 seconds, and be down around 8:30 or so without noticing.  Then I'd have to modulate, and find myself a few seconds behind, like in the 9:05 area.  Have to tighten it up.  It's almost like it's easier for me to go faster or slower than it is to be right on the number.  But it's the beginning (not even the beginning), so I have time.  I want to internalize those paces.  Although finding my way to a rock-solid 9:44 min/mile is the goal - marathon pace.

It wasn't too hot and I felt strong.  Happy I did it.  Loved the fog rolling in around the sky line on the way back.  

 

Still working on the path so we all have to go on the steps part, makes for some dicey bike/runner interactions...

Still working on the path so we all have to go on the steps part, makes for some dicey bike/runner interactions...

Music-powered by some embarrassing things including:

 

But I wanted to jot down some thoughts about easy pace.  So the key to surviving this training cycle (again: oh shit HANSON'S) with its two faster days and one longer day per week will be to embrace the slow and easy days.  They are specific about paces for everything, which I love.  I'm going to try to hit them all exactly, because I'm type A like that.  For easy days, they specify that the "bread and butter" easy day should be 1.5 to 2.5 minutes slower than marathon pace.  So for me that means 11:15 to 12:15.  Pretty slow.  Much, much slower than I usually go on a "normal" run.  But those normal runs aren't in marathon training, of course.  So I'm finally going to walk the walk on keeping easy days easy so I can run hard days hard.  

It's weirdly embarrassing to me to post those runs on Strava, though.  I feel like people are going to laugh.  And who gives a fuck, of course.  But more than that, during that pace I find myself fighting some internal negative self talk: look at you, going so slow, what is this, jogging?!?  As if I hadn't ripped 3 miles of quality work the day before.  I'm going to try to let those voices go.  I want to get through this training with mind and body intact, and so I'll need to go slow on the days where I'm supposed to.  Also it won't feel so freaking slow during 50+ weeks of course.  It might be nice to allow myself to run easy (not medium) and trust that I'm doing something good for the training (getting the adaptations, as they say), while not putting too much stress on the engine or chassis.  Did I just use a car metaphor?  Who am I, Car Talk?

So today and yesterday: 4 miles at 11:28 average pace.  That's right.  My name is Emily, and I'm broadcasting my 11:28 mile pace.  

 

Hot as balls out here

Hot as balls out here

Collapsed with this melon and cherry slushy at the Farmer's Market.  Sweet nectar from the heavens.

Collapsed with this melon and cherry slushy at the Farmer's Market.  Sweet nectar from the heavens.

Audio-book-powered by: https://www.audible.com/pd/Nonfiction/So-Youve-Been-Publicly-Shamed-Audiobook/B00SNMHKNC?qid=1497542278&sr=1-1

 

Single track squish

Am I a dirtbag now?

Am I a dirtbag now?

5.3 miles and technical, baby!

First real trail run!  (In my Running Life 2.0, that is.)  I was feeling the need, the need for... mud.  And the opposite of speed.  So on Memorial Day Monday I got up early and drove out to the Palos Trails - about 30 minutes out of the city, which is what you have to do as a flatlander.  I was nervous about running alone, but I followed all good safety rules: my husband knew where I was going, which trail and which direction, I brought a map and my phone and water and a gel.  I sussed out the scene at the parking lot and felt comforted by the good amount of people there.  Mostly dirt bikers, because that's a thing at Palos apparently, but they seemed good-hearted (despite those scary face mask helmets) and one group of them helped me orient myself at the trailhead.  Did some dynamic warm-ups, and hit the Orange trail!

Right away, roots rocks and mud.  This trail is a loop through dense forest, well, I wouldn't exactly call it forest.  More like close and pressing in bushes.  Single track, so just enough for me alone, and I had to hit the shrubs whenever a biker came bombing through - that was probably the main drawback.

I won't even complain about the thick mud and how I slid around on it constantly.

 

This is what I wanted, right?

This is what I wanted, right?

I kept trying to avoid it, worried I'd lose a shoe, by going to the side.  But the sloping down of the trail meant that I just slid around anyway.  And once I just slid down full out, a nice biff for my first trail run.  Luckily there was no one around to witness (or run me over with a bike).  I think this is me trying to make a face about falling in the mud:

 

Me: is this how Kaci Lickteig does it?

Me: is this how Kaci Lickteig does it?

Physically - aside from wiping out - I definitely found it tougher than I had expected.  That was because of the hills of course, lots of up and down small to medium rollers.  I did experiment with power hiking, especially when I couldn't see the top of a hill.  I think changing gears is something I could definitely work on.  I'm much more comfortable locking into a pace and then zoning out.  But zoning out is definitely not an option on a rocky hilly trail like that - and I found it hard to constantly shift positions, hop over things, etc.  I noticed it was hard to find a steady rhythm.  Every once in a while I walked until I could get calmer and slow down my breathing and heart rate.

Definitely the right call to put on bug spray, BTW.  Another trail thing, I guess.

Towards the end the trail opened up and I got some nice vistas such as:

 

Beautiful day in the 'burbs

Beautiful day in the 'burbs

By the time I finished the loop I was a little surprised - the first half seemed long and tough, the last half went by too fast.  Did I walk too much?  Not enough?  Anyway, it was a first experience and I'll be curious to see if I can tackle one of the longer trails in the system again later in the summer.

 

Till next time, mud and ruts!  

Till next time, mud and ruts!

 

I play just what I feel

[argh, lost the post after I wrote it.  will try to reconstruct]

10 miles yesterday, 60 degrees and sunny low wind, kinda perfect.  Kept the pace tight on my 10:30 LR jam, but sometimes (after a bathroom/water break, that would slide to 10:50, which annoyed me.  So then I'd do a 10:18 or two.)  Still loving my watch!

 

Oh, but it never really ends...

Oh, but it never really ends...

I've run 10 on Saturday for the past four weeks in a row.  This week was 27 miles total, and I think I've been 20-25 average for the past three weeks before that.  I'm feeling good about my base phase.  Keeping the emphasis on easy miles, with two other runs of quality per week - one LR and one medium-intensity tempo/hills/interval day.  I think I will bring it to 30 mpw in June, to get ready to start training for real (oh shit HANSON'S) on July 1.

I'm in a bit of a love affair with running right now.  Just feeling very healthy and happy, glad to get out there in this spring gorgeousness.  No tweaks or pains at the moment (knock on wood) and just a lot of comfort and good vibes.  I even would like to kick it up a notch, but am holding back in fear or injuries or burnout.  I know things will ramp up hard toward the end of the summer and I will be really dragging, so I plan to just keep it rolling easy in June.  But I'm a happy runner now.

 

A hit of calories at the turnaround.  Sweaty phone lens.  

A hit of calories at the turnaround.  Sweaty phone lens.

 

Podcast-powered by this URP interview with Sarah Lavender Smith about her recent multi-day self-supported stage race in Hawaii.  My takeaway: running on lava sounds hard and painful.  I also just got Smith's new book, The Trail Runner's Companion (because I am a wanna-be trail runner) and now I'm dreaming of hydration vests and getting lots of "vert."  Sigh.  Not easy for us flat-landers.

Music-powered by the Dan:

 

New and improved!

I am so, so into my new Garmin 230.  I cannot believe how quickly the GPS popped on - I didn't even have time to take a picture.  No trouble with lag time during the run, and pace seemed steady throughout.  (It was supposed to be a rest day, but how could I not get out for 2 miles when the watch arrived yesterday?!)  I am really stoked.  I did not realize how degraded the old GPS system/silicone whatever in my old Garmin (a 210!) must have gotten.  This will be a super important tool for me during marathon training.  (Just over a month until it starts!)

 

Teen says new ponytail set up looks like "sumo wrestler" hair. Hm.

Teen says new ponytail set up looks like "sumo wrestler" hair. Hm.

In other news, I got a pretty big hair chop.  I like it in civilian life but for running that means it's going to be this dorky little pony tail from now on.  

 

Ten Things I Saw On My Run (4 mi, 6 am, nice and easy, headphones-free)

1. The Firecakes bus.  Whoop whoop!  

2.  One goose dive-bombing two others in a ferocious downward swoop, neck extended, beak wide open.  I didn't stick around to see how it turned out.  Geese, man.

3. The fact that my Garmin was off pace by, oh, a minute or two.  Grr.

4.  A woman wearing the same 2013 Chicago marathon t-shirt as I was.  We gave each other that special nod.

5.  Too many fellow runner folk out there and overdressed.  Come on, people, no more gloves and beanies.

6. The fact that my Garmin, even after switching over to actual pace instead of average, was jumping all over - 8:20 to 11:20 and back, neither of which pace I was actually running.  GRRR.

7.  Two guys doing warm-up strides near the Belmont harbor and a few people warming up for a speed sesh with the CARA coach.

8.  CARA trough: no longer crazy-overflowing.

9.  A woman walking about nineteen little dogs on leashes while holding giant Dunkin iced coffee.  

10.  A porta-john that did NOT have a jokey name.  What is even happening out there?

 

On the (windy) lakefront path, no one can hear you scream...

Sort of an unwilling participant in the Girls On the Run race on the path down by museum campus today.  Clogged up the lanes a bit but hey: girls on the run!  

Sort of an unwilling participant in the Girls On the Run race on the path down by museum campus today.  Clogged up the lanes a bit but hey: girls on the run!

 

10 miles easy, cool and windy, about 50 degrees.  Poured for a few minutes around mile 4, got drenched, dried off late with that breeze off the lake.  Right upper hamstring or glute felt kinda tight toward the end, so I hit up some Jasyoga afterward.  I've been on a nice 10-on-Saturday routine, and I like it.  

 

Bio break at Navy Pier.   Which is mostly what it's good for.

Bio break at Navy Pier.   Which is mostly what it's good for.

Podcast powered by this URP interview with Chris Mocko.

And music powered by:

 

 

But what I'm MOST EXCITED ABOUT is tickets to the 7:30 show of this.  GET AWAY FROM HER, YOU BITCH!

 

Hot hot hills

87 in the shade, WTF

87 in the shade, WTF

I just don't know, you guys.  I cannot deal with this sudden heat wave.  And who am I, opting for some hard hill repeats on a day where we hit mid-80s by the mid-afternoon?  Hungry for hills, I guess.

1 mile warm-up (ha!), some drills, and then five Grant hill loops - pushing the ups and downs, jogging the flats, and then 1 mile cool down (not really).

 

Thank god for the fountains

Thank god for the fountains

You know what helped me a ton, though?  THIS awesome new shirt.  OMG, I am so grateful for Oiselle.  They know what's what.  I love this fabric - silky, light, drapey - and I love how I didn't feel suffocated around the middle by a tight hem.  Good stuff.  I see myself getting a couple more of these and some of the tanks too.

Music-powered by