Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Methinks I'm ready for the taper

I'm feeling at a loss for words. Some of it because I'm feeling a bit tired. Some of it because I'm feeling a bit unmotivated. Some of it because last week was pretty uneventful by my standards.

I ended up making last week my cutback week--my only of this 11 week training cycle. It's probably a bit silly since I should have just done my 20 miler on Sunday and had a longer taper, but whatever. However, Adam and I both had Sunday off together and so I decided that I would rather spend it hanging out with him than running for 2 1/2-3 hours and being a slacker the rest of the day.

I ran 3 6-milers and 1 7-miler last week--a nice little 25 mile week.  2 of the runs were on the TM and I tried to just take it nice and easy. 1 was at 8:34 pace and 1 was a progressive run that I turned up the mph with each mile.  I wasn't super hungry for more, but I wasn't feeling spent--I guess that's the point of a cutback week?

The 7 miler on Sunday was outside. It was weird that I was hot because my last Greenway run was snow-covered.  I normally walk down the entrance ramp area and then start my run when I get to the path. A girl came running past me on the path and I ended up less than a tenth of a mile behind her when I started. She was running about an 8:00 pace. I debated whether or not I was going to hover behind for a bit and see if she picked up the pace (ugh) or fly past her and then try to make sure she didn't pass me back (ugh). Fortunately, she stopped about a half mile into my run dead in her tracks to adjust something on her phone/music. Woot! I did pick up my pace at that point and felt my mojo come back with my legs working.

I ran 4 after work on the TM on Monday. Uneventful, but I did hold myself back knowing I had mile repeats to conquer today.

See, ever since I started this training cycle after BQing, I've been kind of avoiding true speed work. I did some 800s like the first week or two, but then I've just been running some of my random easy runs at a faster-than-tempo pace and calling that my speed work.

I think because I was feeling so good throughout my training cycle for Rehoboth, I was afraid that I was going to fail this training cycle. And if I lowered my expectations, I wouldn't fail!

Problem is, I do want to get faster this fall and I can't just completely slack on my speed work because I have different goals right now. So after an inspirational post from Mark in Loopville yesterday, I decided I was going to tackle those mile repeats come hell or high water.

Plus, I needed to break in my new shoes before my 20 miler on Friday:

I ended up doing them in 7:01, 6:46, and 6:34.

Not my fastest for a training cycle, but only 8 seconds off so I'm feeling pretty good. Here's the (what I've remembered to collect since marathon #1) history:

2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2013B 2014
10 8:34 9:13 7:55 7:43
8:01 7:32
8:36 8:13 7:44 8:10 7:50 7:52
14 9:31 9:13 8:04 8:34 7:38 7:55 8:34*
8:37 8:18 8:08 8:14 8:04 7:44

8:25 8:07 8:19 8:13 7:55
20 9:00ish 9:00 8:18 8:04 8:19 8:12 8:00

Fastest Mile Repeat
7:41 7:09 7:30 6:42 6:26 6:34

Fastest Tempo 8:13 7:57 7:31 7:28 7:10 7:17 7:14

Race time 4:01:09 3:59:08 3:50:36 3:52:01 3:43:18 3:32:54

So now I just have to conquer that one last 20 miler and then it's taper time!

I did do a few things this past week that were picture-worthy.  I enjoyed a bourbon-inspired dinner with Adam at our local gastropub:

I made some cupcakes Sunday. Coca-cola with salted peanut butter frosting and almond with fresh strawberry buttercream:
Monday, my oldest pookie turned 12:
The younger pookie was excited to help celebrate:

Ah, the happiness of the pups!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Bacon, boozy bachelorette, and beautiful runs

Snowpocolypse II came rolling through Atlanta last week depleting all the grocery store shelves of bread and worse, wrecking havoc on my long run.

The state took way more action this time around though-I even saw plow action up by where I live in the outer 'burbs! Yeah, yeah, I am taking a picture of things you Northerners see all the time....
I was going away for the weekend (more on that later) and so I wanted to get my 16-miler while I had time.  Unfortunately, the Greenway was not salted or plowed. The parts that are covered in boardwalk (my favorite part to run on normally) were covered in what felt like melting frozen lemonade. Slushy, icy, slippery, messy, terrible.

Adam gave me new sunglasses on Friday morning (Valentine's Day) and I was so eager to go test them out!
 I was all like this is so beautiful. I have awesome new sunglasses, I am so lucky to run in this gorgeous snow, life is grand, blah, blah, blah.

Then I get out there and I'm like whooooooooooooooa. What the eff is this stuff? How am I going to make it 16 miles without getting traction?

If I were smarter, I would have just sucked it up and ran on the hilly sidewalks near my house. But then 5 miles later --and 5 miles from my car-- I stubbornly kept moving forward.  I kept thinking it was going to get better as it got warmer and the snow started melting. But it really made it worse. Even the geese were laughing at me as I ran by.
I look at my Garmin when I finish and I feel......deflated. I know that it was all about the conditions holding me back, but holy moly, I worked so hard out there and it was the slowest long run I've done in quite some time. 

On the bright side, I felt much better when I looked at my splits and I could tell exactly the few miles that had longer stretches of cleared path.
Whatever. It was over.

I had a bachelorette party to finish organizing!

My little (and only) sister is getting married in April and she wanted a low-key weekend in a mountain cabin with her girlfriends. So we booked a place near Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge for 3 nights. Being the maid of honor, a type A, and handy in the kitchen made the weekend go pretty smoothly if I do say so myself!

I finished rounding up the supplies for the goodie bags:
Made a few things in the kitchen ahead of time for the weekend:
And loaded the car with the essentials:
We headed up Saturday at noon and got there with plenty of daylight to enjoy the views. There was lots of tacos and margaritas consumed early in the evening and later, we headed to the hot tub where it started snowing:

I was keeping my blood alcohol content at a steady all night and I woke up feeling pretty groggy. Not particularly hungover, but just fuzzy.  Morning in the Smoky Mountains is beautiful though and I had to take advantage of my scenery:

And of course running is a magic cure for everything so I headed into town where I had done prior research about a Greenway that was 6 miles long. It was gorgeous outside with the snow having given everything a light dusting and I felt pretty amazing by the time I sweated through the toxins somewhere between mile 2 and 3.
I came back, had breakfast, and we settled in for an afternoon of wedding crafts. We (well, not really me, but the other, more talented crafty girls) turned this:
Into this:
Eventually, I headed into the kitchen to make a lasagna dinner:
It was another fun night of games, silliness, and more hanging out in the hot tub. I slept like a champ knowing that I could just relax in the morning.  A few of the girls had to head back early so the remaining 4 walked down the ginormous hill to retrieve one of the cars.

Later we walked around downtown Gatlinburg and had dinner at Hard Rock Cafe. It was a nice quiet evening back at the cabin with the four of us wrapped up in blankets watching Walk the Line.

I knew we had to clean, pack up, and be out by 11am, so I scooted out the door just before 8am to go running. It was a gorgeous morning--crisp, clear, and in the upper 30s. I felt well-rested and happy to running with the backdrop of the mountains.
I was gunning for an easy 6--wanting to relax and enjoy the moments like I had the rest of the weekend.  Rolling hills were actually kind of fun when I was just cruisin'.

We had to pack up and say good-bye to the lovely cabin when I got back.
There were a few final pictures to capture:

Then it was time to get back to the things in Atlanta:

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Turning meh back into awesome

It's been awhile since I felt like I was dragging my feet to go out running. Thankfully. But after 43 miles in 5 days and smack dab in the middle of a long stretch of working--I was having a hard time mustering anything feeling beyond meh. Thankfully, it appears to be just a small blip and I am feeling better after scaling back the miles over the course of 10 days.

I ran 2 little recovery miles (8:34 pace on the TM) last Thursday and the 3 short n' sweet miles Friday (8:34, 8:00, 7:30 with the last .25 at a 6:00 pace).

Sunday morning, I donned my half-zip, gloves, capris, and went out full of meh

I had a 7 miler with 5 at 7:48 tempo pace on my "schedule".

Sidenote: This is not really my tempo pace right now, but according to Smart Coach, that's what I should be running for a 3:32 marathon.  Which is a bit silly that I'm "training" for a 3:32 marathon when I am planning to run Shamrock (3/16) and Georgia (3/23) slower (like maybe a 3:45-4:00, I dunno) since they are only a week apart. I wrote out my training plan when I was just going to run the Georgia marathon and just moved everything up by a week when I added Shamrock. Anyway, I know what a comfortably hard tempo is supposed to feel like so I am not super concerned about whatever time that translates to. I think if I didn't have the Georgia marathon the following week, it's possible I could lower my Rehoboth time at Shamrock. But I am really looking forward to running for fun at Shamrock and going for Maniac status! This training cycle can give me good confidence for when I attempt to lower my PR in December.

Anyway, I digress. I knew I was gunning for a tempo, but I cut a deal with myself that I could just do an easy 7 if I wasn't feeling it after my warm-up mile. Fortunately, I started feeling much better once I got warmed up and started finding my groove by the middle of the 2nd mile. I thought about the Loopsters who finished Surf City strong (PRs, BQs, injury comebacks, etc) and those that had just finished 50 miles at Rocky Raccoon the day before. I heeded my own advice and smiled like a wackadoo in the middle of the Greenway. And then I just ran my little heart out.

By the time I was done, I was so warm that I immediately shed my half-zip. Phew!

Monday night, I ran 5 easy miles on the TM and was so elated that it felt fantastically easy.

Today, it was even better. I teetered between running 5-7 miles, letting myself decide once I got to the 5 mile mark. Of course I ended up doing the 7.  I even tested my awesome Shamrock tutu for 2 miles.
I took some tulle and turned this:

 Into this:

I've been stuck inside since the middle of yesterday afternoon when we closed our store early because of the impending ice storm.

 Of course, that means I've been catching up on Olympics and baking.
I even have supplies for when the going gets rough tonight:

Torrance hopped on the TM with me while I cooled down, enjoying a few minutes of ice-free walking:

She spent the rest of the afternoon hanging with Luxy in front of the fire:

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Swag mail and pooptastic long runs

After 18 miles on Friday at a 7:55 pace, I hunkered down in the ice bath, put on calf compression sleeves, and laid about until I needed to move.

My sister and I took my dad out for his 64th birthday that evening. We normally chip in with my brother to give him an expensive bottle of wine, but my sister came up with the idea to do a daddy/daughters meal. 
Saturday, I worked. I was kind of glad to be moving about all day to give my legs some active recovery. Walking around 20,000 square feet of a store for 8 hours is certainly helpful sometimes.  Given that I had dinner with my dad that previous night and neglected to enjoy my post long run wings, Adam and I went to our favorite BBQ place to get my fix. They have smoked wings that they flash fry and then coat in BBQ sauce. Heavenly.
Sunday, I ran 4 easy miles at an 8:34 pace on the TM. Nothing exciting. Went to work and then came home to watch the boring Super Bowl. I made jambalaya and worked on the taxes some more during the second half. Obviously, we were not at a Super Bowl party...

Yesterday, I spent the day chillin' with Adam and the pups.

Filed the federal and state taxes (woot!), cleaned the entire house, did a little light plumbing under my sink (re: clean the hairballs out), finished some laundry, picked up materials for my Shamrock tutu, and came home to relax.
My sister called to discuss wedding stuff and I was wandering the house. The dog on the left barks whenever I am on the phone (just me, not Adam, rawr!) and so I have to pace so she leaves me alone.  Good thing because I stopped in front of the front door and saw I had received a package from Steve, aka runningplaces9919, aka the Thelma to my Louise in the Rehoboth road trip.

In the Lady Cave, where the treadmill lives, there is a growing wall of my runner swag.  I am pretty stoked to have a cool piece to anchor all of this stuff AND something new to motivate me on the TM.

This is the current state of affairs:
I'll post pics when I get the post framed and hung. Yippee!

I worked a bit on my Shamrock tutu last night until I ran out of tulle:
It's either going to fun to run in or annoy the bejeezus out of me.  I'll let y'all know next month.

And lastly, today I went on a 21 mile run. I had to cram my long runs within in a short period of time because of my work schedule.  Besides, I figured it would be good training for my weekends-apart marathons. 

It was pretty yuck until about the last 3 miles. Ha! I think I had too much liquid (re: GI issues) and my legs were definitely still tired from Friday's effort. There is a rather large asterisk at just before mile 4 because I saw one of my co-workers at the skate park that's right off the Greenway and I stopped to talk to him for about 20 minutes.  And I did stop to use the bathroom twice--ugh!

I haven't lost my mojo thankfully. This was definitely more about physical tiredness and less about my mental state. Probably would have helped if I was actually running my LSD slow... But today I was actually trying to escape the rain as well. I finished about 30 minutes before it started to come down. Right now a cutback week is looking pretty appetizing, but I'll make that determination next Monday.