Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Back At It, Slow and Steady

You've probably noticed that the past few weeks I haven't posted my training or workouts. That's because I took some time off from running after Lakefront Marathon. It felt great to get some much-needed rest and allow my hamstring time to heal. Even without an injury, I think it's a good idea to take a break after any big race to allow yourself time to physically and mentally recover so you're ready to put 100 percent into the next round of training. 

This is how Eddie and I spent much of the past few weeks

Anyhow, the next round of training for me started last week with a few easy pace runs and three strength training sessions. The running part was about as good as I could expect after taking two weeks off. Strength training was another story. I did 45 minutes each of lower body, upper body and core and each session left me pretty sore. I also realized I'm not as strong as I was six months ago - these days lifting the 10 pound dumbbells is tough!

During the second half of my training for Lakefront, I slacked on strength training to squeeze in extra miles. This was not smart. I strongly (ha!) believe weaker muscles is what led to my hamstring injury and possibly even all the side stitches I experienced during summer and fall racing. Needless to say, I won't skimp on strength training again!

This week, I'm again doing low mileage coupled with strength training. In the next few weeks I hope to increase mileage for now 25-30 mpw will have to do!

Monday: 4 miles @ easy pace; 45 minutes strength training
Tuesday: 8 miles @ easy pace
Wednesday: 4 miles @ easy pace; 45 minutes strength training
Thursday: 3 mile fun run with PRO Shorewood
Friday: 6 miles @ easy pace
Saturday: Rest Day
Sunday: Striders Turkey Trot Prediction 2 mile Race

To help me stay motivated during the next few months, I recently purchased an Erica Sara Designs Say It Do It bracelet

The bracelet is designed to be worn as a daily reminder of your goal(s) and should only be removed when you achieve them. More on goals to come in a future post, but for the time being, I can tell you that my bracelet is engraved with the mantra I use most, pay the price.

That's everything new on the running front! How has your training been going these past few weeks? Have you set any winter workout goals for yourself?

Tell me everything and anything :)

- ST

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Running Reads

It's a sign of a true Run Nerd - Setting aside 50 Shades of Grey to read . . . Hansons Marathon Method. 

Reading about running is one of my favorite ways to stay motivated. I have a subscription to both Runner's World and Running Times and I'll admit, I get a little too excited when I find these magazines in my mailbox. I also routinely stalk running websites and blogs for information and have read several running books, which I tend to devour the same way most people read bestsellers. 

In case you're looking for a good running book or two, here's a list of ones I've read:

  • Kara Goucher's Running for Women (Kara Goucher)
  • Performance Nutrition for Runners (Matt Fitzgerald)
  • The Competitive Runner's Handbook (Bob Glover)
  • Racing Weight (Matt Fitzgerald)
  • Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide (Hal Higdon)
  • What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (Haruki Murakami)
  • Running for the Hansons (Sage Canaday)
  • The Lola Papers (Amy Marxkors)
  • Hansons Marathon Method (Luke Humphrey with Keith and Kevin Hanson)

Some are better than others (LOVED The Lola Papers) but I've learned at least a few things from each one. And after all, the broader your perspective and knowledge, the more you'll able to do with your running. At least that's what I tell myself to justify my ever-growing running book library :)

I'm taking suggestions: What running-related books/magazines/websites/blogs do you recommend?

Looking forward to checking out your favorites!

- ST

Thursday, October 18, 2012

My Winter Race Schedule

I've been on a bit of a running/training break since Lakefront Marathon, which has given me plenty of time to plan my winter racing schedule. 

Since Wisconsin winter weather can be a bit unpredictable, I like sticking with shorter races. After all, anyone can put up with cold/snow/winds/rain/ice for 3.1 miles! It's also no secret that I love racing 5ks. It's a chance to put all that speedwork to the test and see if you have what it takes. 

Winter running = Jackets, tights and gloves!

As a bonus, racing during the winter months can help you stay motivated to train and also allows you to indulge in a few extra treats around the holidays, guilt free!

Here's my race calendar for the upcoming months:

*Part of the GLM Winter Run Series

Let's talk: Who else is racing this winter? What races are you doing? If you're not racing, will you keep running during the winter months?

Also, anyone know where I can buy cheap, knit gloves? I like to start a race wearing them but tend to throw them off midway through, which means I need to stockpile these gloves now :)

- ST

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pumpkin Coconut Muffins

Taking some time off from training has meant extra time to catch up on other things. Over the weekend, I used my extra time to do some cooking and baking. I made an old favorite, Black Bean Enchilada Lasagna, as well as a new recipe I've had on my list for about a year. 

I found this recipe for Pumpkin Coconut Muffins in Runner's World. I love pretty much anything pumpkin in the fall and coconut is a favorite of mine, year round. I had a feeling these would be a new favorite and I was right! 

Perfect for breakfast!

Pumpkin Coconut Muffins
*Recipe from Runner's World
Makes 12 muffins

2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and add liners to a muffin tin. 

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ginger. In a separate bowl, whisk together butter, oil, pumpkin, egg and buttermilk. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Mix in coconut. 

Fill muffin cups and bake 20-25 minutes. 

Tell me about your weekend - Anyone else do any cooking or baking?

Happy Monday!

- ST

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Lakefront Marathon Race Recap

I'm proud to say that I can now call myself a marathoner :)

This past weekend was a whirlwind of activity and emotions. I could hardly believe the big weekend had finally arrived. It started Friday night with a special reception for Olympian Nick Symmonds, who was a featured guest at this year's race. I went to the event with a few of my running friends and after we went out for frozen yogurt. Yum and yum!

Sheila, I hope you don't mind I borrowed this FB pic :)

The next morning I went to check out the expo and pick up my race packet. The expo was buzzing with excited runners and there were plenty of booths to visit, all featuring running shoes, clothes, gear, nutrition, etc. But my main excitement was seeing Mr. Symmonds again and getting my picture taken with him. I'm such a run nerd :)

My morning swoon moment

The morning of the race, I fueled as planned with one unfrosted PopTart and a small banana. My mom drove me to the race start and on the way there I could feel the pre-race nerves kicking in. As we drove along the freeway to Grafton High School, I couldn't believe I would have to run the distance we were driving in just a short while. 

As much as I trained and practiced this summer and fall, nothing quite prepared me for the feeling I got as I stood at the start line waiting for the gun to go off. I started to tear up a bit as I thought about the race to come, the training that went into it and also a bit of fear that I my hamstring injury might not let me complete the distance. I knew a DNF was a possibility but I tried to push the thought out of my mind and focus on the race ahead.

Because I lined up a tad late, I ended up starting with the 4:40 pace group. It was a very slow first mile for me because I had to stop twice. Once to fix my iPod (this is why I don't race with music) and once to fix my compression tights. But for once I didn't care - I knew I wasn't racing for a particular time so I figured a slow start was fine!

I was able to up the pace after the first mile. My legs felt fine so I decided to go with it for awhile and soon found myself passing the 9:10 pace group and trying to catch the 9:05 pace group. But a twinge in my hamstring made me realize that even though I wanted to run faster, I needed to slow down or risk not being able to finish the race. 

The first half went by in a blink of an eye and soon after that, I was running the Lake Drive portion of the course - an area I'm quite familiar with as I've run it countless times during the past two years. With each passing mile, I felt more relieved knowing that if my hamstring injury should flare up, I could likely walk the remaining distance to the finish. 

In the zone, around mile 17.5

By the time mile 20 rolled around, I was both tired and sore. My quads and calves were aching and I stopped for a few stretch and walk breaks. However, stopping for these breaks was actually more painful than just keeping at it and shuffling forward at a slow pace. I couldn't figure out why I was so sore when I'd run this far before without as much pain. I realized later it felt a lot different because I had been on my feet longer (slower pace than during my training runs) and I wasn't wearing my compression socks. Since I was wearing tights I thought I wouldn't need my socks but I ended up turning my tights into capris early in the race, which meant I didn't have any calf support.

I was so relieved when I saw the 25 mile marker and gathered my remaining energy stores to pick up the pace through the finish line. I crossed at 4:21:28 and was so happy to have made it through the race!

Kicking it in at sub-8 minute pace!

My mother, brothers and niece were waiting for me at the finish line. After receiving my finisher's medal and getting wrapped in a space blanket, they helped me start the walk back to my apartment - a little less than a mile away although it seemed a lot further that day! 

After the race with my brothers Andy and Joe

It's definitely a race I'll always remember. Overall, a fantastic day and . . . call me crazy, but I'm already excited to start planning my next marathon. The Wisconsin Marathon in May, perhaps? 

My new favorite medal :)

In the meantime, I'm taking two weeks off from running and then will begin training for my upcoming winter 5ks and marathon relay race. I adore short, speedy races so I consider this one of the best times of the year!

On that note, did anyone else run Lakefront Marathon over the weekend? Also, what do you do during breaks from training?

I'm looking forward to catching up with friends and sleeping in!

- ST

Friday, October 5, 2012

My Lakefront Marathon Playlist

Normally during races, my iPod stays home. I'm making an exception for Lakefront Marathon. 

Since I'm not "racing," I decided what better time than now to create a completely random playlist? It includes 26 songs - each will play on repeat for one mile. Nothing too fast until the end considering I have to keep my pace slow throughout! And sorry Mom, Another One Bites the Dust did not make the cut :)
  1. Eyes Open - Taylor Swift
  2. Home - Phillip Phillips
  3. The Cave - Mumford & Sons
  4. Wide Awake - Katy Perry
  5. Madness - Muse
  6. Some Nights - Fun
  7. All These Things That I Have Done - The Killers
  8. Little Talks - Of Monsters and Men
  9. Pumped Up Kicks - Foster the People
  10. Good Time - Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen
  11. Don't Stop Believin' - Journey
  12. Hurts So Good - John Mellencamp
  13. It's My Life - Bon Jovi
  14. American Girl - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
  15. Love the Way You Lie - Eminem
  16. The Fighter - Gym Class Heroes
  17. What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger) - Kelly Clarkson
  18. Indestructible - Robyn
  19. Die Young - Ke$ha
  20. Blackout - Breathe Carolina
  21. In the End - Linkin Park
  22. You're Gonna Go Far, Kid - The Offspring
  23. Ni**as in Paris - Kanye West & Jay Z
  24. Titanium - David Guetta & Sia
  25. We Run the Night - Havana Brown
  26. Starships - Nicki Minaj
Let's discuss: What's on your running/race playlist and how do you pick which songs make the cut? I didn't put a ton of thought into this list and just picked songs I listened to while running over the summer/fall. 

- ST

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Lakefront Marathon is 3 Days Away!

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about that saying that goes something like "Just because something isn't what you imagined, it doesn't mean that it's wrong."

I'm trying to remember this as I get ready for Lakefront Marathon on Sunday.

Up until a week and a half ago, the plan for the race was to average 9:00 min/mile for the first 20 miles, then pick up the pace over the final 10k for a sub-4:00 finishing time. I was confident I could execute this plan without a problem and even took it a bit for granted. After all, I told myself I had 60-mile weeks, speedwork sessions, four 20-mile runs and a 22-mile run under my belt!

But that type of overconfidence led to a hamstring injury at the Alpine Races Half Marathon. I took an entire week off from running and spent my time rehabbing the area the best I could. It involved a lot of icing, foam rolling, using The Stick, stretching and massaging. This week I've been able to run a few slow, easy pace miles so it seems the worst of the injury is in the past.

 The Grid and I are now besties :)

That being said, the old marathon race plan is out of the question at this point. I got a green light from a physical therapist to participate in the race as long as I follow a revised plan that includes a very conservative 10:00 min/mile pace and walking any steep downhills. I will also take a quick stretch break every few miles and walk as needed. For additional support, I'll wear compression tights and warm my muscles up using a heat pad prior to the race start.

This is a completely different race than I imagined during my summer and fall training runs. I'm still not sure I'll be able to finish the race, but at this point I'm just happy to get to the start line. 

From my coworker, James :)

I've always said that I'm willing to do what it takes to do this marathon. I certainly didn't think it would mean running a lot slower and walking - but life is about adjusting to change and I'm going to make the best of it. My time goal is out the window so instead of focusing on pace, I'll focus on how right it feels to run at all. It's something I won't ever take for granted again. 

Share time: What was your first marathon experience like? Also, has anyone else ever started a race while recovering from an injury?

Just three days til the big day!

- ST