Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ups and downs of the past two weeks

I started to write this post about how my training has been very up and down the last two weeks. And, while it kind of has, starting to write it out made me realize that right now I think things are going alright, and I'm feeling excited about my marathon in less than two weeks. 

After my confidence boosting 20-miler a couple weeks ago, I ran a strong progression run and short marathon pace run before running the Nike Women's half

Following Nike, my lower leg (which I have been dealing with since rolling my ankle nearly two months ago) was really bothering me for a couple days. I was feeling defeated since I had felt great during the half and the week before. Looking back, I think it was mostly some delayed soreness from running the hills. I haven't done any major hill training lately, so I'm sure my legs weren't used to it. 

After taking a few days off running to cross train, I felt good for an easy 6 last Thursday, and a strong marathon pace 15 miler on Saturday morning. 

What makes me more excited is that the past two days I have been feeling great. My soreness isn't excessive, and I am solidly into my taper now. 

So while the last couple weeks didn't quite go as planned (or the last couple months for that matter), I have been hanging on and getting in some solid long runs. After thinking about it, I realized that even though I missed a few run days and some quality speed sessions, I didn't have to just sit and do nothing. I've enjoyed doing cross training with spin and yoga. I'm coming out of this fairly healthy and ready to run the marathon I've been training for so long! I guess sometimes when you're in the midst of it, the frustration can bring you down mentally. Smart training and listening to my body have helped me get through it.

Now that you know how things have been going I'm going to just forget about those frustrating days and focus on the strong long runs I have had. My right leg is still not 100%, but in the next 11 days, I will be stretching, and rolling as much as I can. I am ready.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Nike Women's Half Marathon: Race Recap

On Sunday I ran the Nike Women's half marathon in San Francisco. This was my second year running it. You can see my recap from last year's race here.

This year, I decided not to really race it....it was going to be more about having fun and enjoying a big race with lots of women! Plus, Leslie and Kara were also going to be running, so I thought it would be fun to catch up with them.

I didn't attend the expo, since I picked up my packet in Sacramento the previous week.

From last year, I knew that the streets before the race were going to be packed with people!! 30,000 runners is a lot! If you are in the faster pace corrals, they seem to be a little less crowded...at least comparing the back of the 8-8:59 pace to the 9-9:59 pace...but maybe the others are too if you are toward the back. I met up with Kara and Leslie about 45 minutes before race start. Bag check and bathrooms were easy to get through and pretty well organized. I didn't check anything, but the other girls did.

{Thanks Leslie for the pre-race pic!}

We started right on time at 6:30am! Check out this photos from Nike of the start of the race. I love seeing images like this!

{Image from Nike Facebook Page}

Leslie and I planned to run together as long as we could. Kara's goal was to run a sub-2 hour half, but she started out by running easy with me and Leslie. It was nice to chat and catch up -- I don't usually get to talk to people while I'm out on a run. It really made the miles fly by! Kara sped up and went on her way somewhere around 1.5 miles. Leslie and I chatted about all sorts of things along our way.

We stayed together through the first few hills, but lost one another around mile 8.5. We had already discussed that if we got separated at some point and couldn't meet back up, we would just run on our own the rest of the way and meet up afterward.

Quick side note: I kind of love running the hills early in the morning in SF during this race. Everyone who was previously talking gets quiet. There aren't really any spectators in this area in the Presido, so it is really quiet. Both last year and this year it was very foggy. It makes for a really cool experience....running with many other people trying to make the same goal of getting up a steep incline....listening to only the breathing of yourself and the other runners around you.

{image from Nike Facebook Page}

Once Leslie and I got separated, I decided to pick up the pace and make the last 4.5 miles a little faster than marathon pace. We averaged the first 8.5 miles at 10:05/mile. For the last few miles, I think I averaged close to an 8:30/mile pace. Another nice thing is this part of the race is also mostly down hill. I had so much fun this entire race! I mean, check out the smiles in my race photos!! LOVE!

After the finish, I met back up with Leslie and Kara, and we picked up our necklaces and shirts. They are pretty!

{Nuun in the background!}

This was a fun way to get in some hilly training and enjoy the race environment with some friends, even if I didn't actually race it. So much fun!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

4 weeks to go!

I am down to less than 4 weeks before the OBX marathon, and I am getting pretty excited! This week I unfortunately didn't get in as much running as I wanted, but I did fit in some cross training instead. Early in the week my ankle was sore following the Rock n Roll San Jose half marathon. Then later in the week I had a few busy days at work so a run didn't work out.

Here's how the week went down:

Monday: rest.
I needed a day off following last Sunday's race.

Tuesday: 35 minute sweat-soaking spin
We bought a spin bike to allow us some more time in the saddle over the winter time without having to go to the gym -- plus it will be good for run cross training. So since my ankle was feeling sore, I did some time on the spin bike instead. It felt great and I watched some Chopped on the Food Network as I went along.

Wednesday: walk + stretch
Instead of our usual leg routine, Ryan and I decided to go for a walk. It is nice to get out and enjoy the beautiful evening weather on a sunny fall day sometimes.

Thursday: AM spin
I had a busy day at work, and I knew I wasn't going to be home until almost 9pm -- nixing my usual afternoon run plans. So instead of a rest day, I opted to utilize the new spin bike again for a quick 30 minute hard spin. I closed myself up in our office and really worked up a sweat while listening to some podcasts.

Friday: rest
On Friday I found out that I had qualified (from my August Olympic distance triathlon) for the 2014 USA Age Group National Championships. I don't think that I will go this year , but I hope that I can qualify and attend again in the future.

Saturday: 20 mile run!!
I was sooooo nervous before this run. I really wasn't sure how my ankle would feel since my last 20 mile attempt I cut short at 16 miles. I decided to just take it slow and steady. My most recent long runs had been at a little faster pace (by about 10-15 seconds per mile), but I decided it would feel much more confident about the marathon if I could finish this run at a little slower pace than not complete it.

In the end, it worked out great. My legs were definitely tired after, and I've been working on recovery / foam rolling / stretching a little extra.

Later in the day, I went to early packet pickup in Sacramento for the Nike Women's half marathon next weekend! Even though there was still an hour long line, it seemed to move along pretty quickly, and was a gorgeous day! I'm excited to run next weekend, and see a few girls from HTC (Kara + Leslie!)

Sunday: walk + rest
After a busy Saturday, we took the day easy. We went to the movies and did our usual Sunday grocery trip. We went for a brisk walk in the afternoon and fit in a little bit of stretching.

Do you go to the grocery store once a week? Or more often? We try to get everything on our Sunday trips, but sometimes we have to go buy some veggies on Friday if we are eating at home since they are usually all gone by then.
Anyone else running NWM next weekend in SF?

Friday, October 11, 2013

OBX Marathon Training: Week 14

Sorry this post is a little delayed this week. We're already almost through another week! Life has been seriously busy, but going well. Just may make posting a bit light sometimes. Anyway -- on to the good stuff of training last week...

Wow. I really can't believe how close the marathon is getting. Yesterday was already down to 1 month until race day! Last week I was feeling more back to normal with my ankle. I also had my first race of the fall at the San Jose Rock n Roll half marathon! Here's a little about how it went:

Monday: 1 hour yoga
It felt so good to stretch and move my body this day. Some days I just need some yoga!

Tuesday: 4 fast miles.

Wednesday: P90x legs.
We've been doing a good job of keeping up with leg strength routine this fall, which I think is really helping keep some injuries away.

Thursday: 4 miles easy

Friday: rest

Saturday: 30 minutes easy yoga
We drove down to San Jose for packet pickup and had a nice evening checking out the city and relaxing.

Sunday: race day! check out my recap on my 13th half marathon here.

This weekend I'm looking forward to watching the Kona Ironman! Anyone else watching??

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Rock n Roll San Jose Half Marathon: Race Recap

On Sunday I ran my 13th half marathon at Rock n Roll San Jose. Overall, I thought it was a nice race with good music (as is usual for the Rock n Roll series), and I had a great time!

Ryan and I made our two hour drive down to San Jose on Saturday afternoon. We stayed in the Hilton that was connected to the convention center where the expo was held, and was only a couple blocks from the start and finish lines. As soon as we arrived, we went to pick up our packets. Since it was later in the day, the expo was pretty quiet, and we had no trouble quickly getting our things. We spent a little time wandering around to check out some of the vendors including stopping by the Nuun Hydration booth.

Afterward, we wandered around downtown for a bit, and found a great spot for a drink at Farmers Union. It was a pretty cool vibe with lots of good beers on tap! Then we went to Pizza Bocca Lupo for a pizza dinner. We were a little unsure what it would be like when we arrived because it seemed sort of like fast food. But we had a fantastic time sitting out side, enjoying our pizza and some people watching.

{view from the bar at Farmers Union}

{outside Pizza Bocca Lupo. A great dinner spot!}

Sunday morning we got up early as usual for normal morning race prep. The best part was that we left our hotel just 45 minutes before race start because it was so close! When we got to the start, we took a few minutes to check our bags. We had about 20 minutes to find a bathroom before the start time.

Bad news though -- there were NOT enough porta potties near the first few corrals! This led to really long lines that did not move at all. Ryan and I ran all over trying to find one that seemed like we could possibly get through before the start. Nothing. Ryan realized there was a hotel right next to the start and with 10 minutes left to go we ran in and found a reasonably empty bathroom. Success! Honestly, this was my only gripe with the race. It seemed there were plenty of bathrooms along the course, and near the corrals further back though.

The race started right on time with the wheelchair division, then the national anthem, and finally the corral start.

My goal for the race was to start a little slower, and over the course of a few miles build up to near my PR pace. The first couple miles were a bit crowded, but they ticked away quickly. I tried not to weave too much around people and not waste energy.

Mile 1: 8:43
Mile 2: 8:27
Mile 3: 8:23
Mile 4: 8:19
Mile 5: 8:12

Near mile 6, we saw the race leaders on their way back toward the finish line -- they were probably at about mile 11.5. It was a nice boost to see them speed by!

Mile 6: 8:16
Mile 7: 8:15
Mile 8: 8:13

A little before mile 9 I realized I was going to have to take a mid-race bathroom stop. I was bummed because I was right about pace with my PR time. The bad thing was I had just past the bathrooms at mile 8, so I was going to have to wait for over a mile! I tried to keep pushing through and not slow down. I finally found a bathroom just as I finished mile 10, but I had used up a minute of my time in the portapotty.

Mile 9: 8:31
Mile 10: 9:15

After I was done in the bathroom, I tried  to pick up my pace and finish strong. I did well at first, but then ended up with a small stomach cramp and wasn't able to hold on to the faster pace for the last two miles.

Mile 11: 7:59
Mile 12: 8:16
Mile 13: 8:19
Pace to finish: 8:11/mi

My final finish time was 1:51:26.

I was glad to be done running for the day. I was hot and tired. I had a fun race even though it wasn't my best executed one. I always enjoy the race day excitement no matter what my finish time is!

Ryan had a big PR by almost 3 minutes!! He has been working hard, and this was a very exciting race for him!

Following the race, we enjoyed a pint in the beer garden, and listened to the band at the finish line. They were really fun! Since our hotel was so close, we were able to make it back to our room with time to shower before checking out and driving back to Sacramento.

What is your go-to post race meal? On Sunday we stopped at The Olive Garden for soup, salad and breadsticks. Yum!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

OBX Marathon Training Week 13: Getting back in the game

Week 13 was a mix of rest and getting back into running. My ankle and lower leg has been starting to feel more back to normal, so I was hoping to get in my long run on Saturday. I still rested a little more than usual, and skipped my Tuesday run. Throughout the week, I also really focused in on ankle strengthening exercises. I think these have been instrumental to my recovery and gaining strength back in my lower leg muscles to support my ankle.

Monday: stretch

Tuesday: 2 mile walk + stretch

Wednesday: P90x legs

Thursday: run 3.1 miles easy

Friday: rest

Saturday: 16 mile long run
On my training plan, I had a 20 mile long run scheduled for Saturday. Honestly, I wasn't really sure how far I would be able to go, or whether my ankle would give me a hard time. After taking two weeks with hardly any running, I was hoping for something good.

Usually for my long runs, I run on a paved bike path. I like to run half the distance in one direction, and then turn around and come back. On Saturday, I decided to aim for a 10 mile out and back first (5 miles in each direction), then see how I felt to do another. After 11 miles when I took a quick bathroom & water break, I noticed that my ankle was feeling tired, but it didn't hurt. At that point I knew I wasn't going to make it 20 miles, but would shoot for 17-18. When I was 3 miles from my start point (13 miles in), I saw Ryan and he encouraged me to just turn around now and cut it to 16. I agreed -- no reason to push it.

Afterward, I actually felt pretty good. My ankle was tired, but still not hurting. It just felt like I had done a hard run. After some legs up the wall and relaxing, I was feeling pretty good. In the evening, Ryan and I went to San Francisco to visit a friend. We probably walked about 2-3 miles over the course of the evening around town. Good to move the legs around for some recovery.

Sunday: 3 mile walk + stretch
Legs felt pretty good, but it was nice to take a walk for extra recovery. It was also beautiful outside, so we had to get out and take advantage of it!

This coming week I am going to try to get back on my official schedule with 3 days of running, some yoga, and strength...and fewer rest days. I will also be running the San Jose Rock n Roll half marathon on Sunday!
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