quick recap

Marathon training is officially underway! That is, I’m onto week 2 and haven’t thrown in the towel yet. Here’s a quick look at the past five days…

Friday: rest day

Saturday: 9.4 miles in the mixed rain/sun … The first 5 miles felt terrific; the last 4.4 were, shall we say, craptastic. I did the ol’ I’m-not-looking-at-my-Garmin-anymore-because-it’s-too-demoralizing-when-I-do routine.

Sunday: another rest day, in which I thought about doing a tempo run, then instead opted for sleeping in, drinking afternoon cocktails and going to the movies

Monday: 4 miles on the treadmill, slow

Tuesday: 5:00 am track workout! Yep, I actually hauled myself out of bed bright and early (or dark and early) and met a friend at the track. We did Yasso 800s and some 400s, for a total of 5.25 miles.

How do you get yourself to obey the alarm? Don’t give yourself any opportunities for a second wakeup call:

alarm

I’ll be back soon with a post about running hills. Namely, what counts as a hill workout? Just how tough should it be? What sort of elevation gain should you shoot for?

Do you have the answers? (Spoiler alert: I don’t.)

on setting goals & staying motivated

Monday: 4 miles on the treadmill

Tuesday: 4 miles – a hill workout

Wednesday: rest day (kickball)

Thursday: 4 miles on the treadmill

As you know if you’re one of my 12 readers (thank you, by the way!), I was super pumped after the Helvetia Half Marathon. It was a fun race, exceeded my expectations, and I was overjoyed that my friends woke up early to cheer me on. I took it easy the week after, knowing it was a good idea to rest my legs and take some of the running pressure off.

But, then, eight days later, my body wanted to get back on the running train, but my mind didn’t. I found myself dawdling, wondering … What’s going to make me pumped to run again?

The idea of “staying in shape?”

What does that mean, anyway?

I’ve always cared about being in shape, but never had a super clear idea of what that meant to me. A particular number on the scale? (Not really. I don’t own a scale.) Fitting into my favorite jeans? (No. Most of my jeans are kind of loose.) Being able to hoof up flights of stairs without getting winded? (Maybe.) Looking like an athlete in a bathing suit? (I’ll never be in good enough shape for that.)

So, while the notion of being healthy and in shape motivates me in small part, it’s not enough to get me running consistently — or running more than 20 miles per week.

And, thus, I need a new goal. That brings us to this: I signed up for my first full marathon.

Cue the rapid heart rate and butterflies in the stomach.

I’m nervous. Even though the race is in October.

Can I stick to my training over the summer, while the happy hours and lazy park days call my name? Am I mentally tough enough for 26.2 miles? Are my knees and hips gonna hate me?

For now, I’m cautiously optimistic. I’m following a training schedule that allows me to start small, so I’m back to 4-mile runs during the week instead of 8-mile runs (though that won’t last for long), and I’m mixing in track days and hill runs, to keep my legs guessing.

I’m also thinking about shooting for 4 runs per week plus a weights/yoga day, rather than 5 runs per week. I’m not sure; is that foolish? I don’t really know much about marathon training, and most of the programs suggest 5-6 runs per week. But I do believe my weight lifting days help my running base in a way that just hitting the pavement doesn’t.

Tell me: Have you run a marathon? What are your tips/tricks/suggestions/warnings?

I leave you with this picture of me, an accurate representation of how I’ve been spending my post-run evenings:

icing

Ice packs on each thigh. I know how to party.

takin’ it easy

Since last week’s race, I’ve let myself have a full week of easy workouts and rest days. Between Sunday and Thursday, I did just two short runs (one for 20 minutes, the other for 45 minutes), one short session on the elliptical and two days of rest. The next days looked like this:

Friday: 2 hour hike (lots of uphill)

Saturday: nothing

Sunday: hip hop class

It’s kind of wonderful to take it easy and have a break from running, but I’m itching to push myself again.

My rest week coincided nicely with a short trip to Denver, so of course I found other things to do besides running. Namely, eating & drinking & talking & hiking & being silly with friends.

Some pics from the trip …

with Heather

Heather & I met halfway in Denver (she flew out from Nashville).

group shot

Denver friends, enjoying dinner & wine & Annie’s backyard.

slide

Totally cheesing it up on a slide!

hike

A gorgeous hike in Frisco, CO

hike 2

More pics from the hike

obstacle course

We found an obstacle course for children while at a street fair in Frisco. So, naturally, we had to race each other.

Now, I’m considering training for the Portland Marathon, but I’m hedging for two reasons: 1) Even though I loved the half marathon, 26.2 miles still sounds like an enormous leap from 13.1 and 2) Do I really want to be training in the summer?

Sure, the weather will be lovely, but there are also lots of distractions: barbecues, happy hours, camping trips, out-of-town trips, etc. Can I really keep up a touch training schedule through the summer? I’m not sure.

But I really want a new running challenge to look forward to.

What do you think? Should I go for it? And what about you? Are you training for any summer/early fall races?

Helvetia Half Marathon race recap

Saturday: 13.1!

Sunday: easy 20-minute recovery run

Monday: 30 minutes on the elliptical

Tuesday & Wednesday: nuthin’

Thursday: 45 minute easy run

Leading up to the Helvetia Half, I was pretty excited. I felt good about my last long run before the race, and I tapered smartly (wasn’t hard to do — I kind of love rest days). I ate well (polenta & shrimp at Screen Door, for the happy tummy win) and got plenty of sleep.

The only thing that gave me pause was the truly craptastic weather we had the day before. Gray skies, moonsoon-y downpours and lots of wind.

rain in Portland

Guess it’s called June-uary for a reason. Damn, Portland.

Maybe Portland got the angst out of its system, because we woke on Saturday to blue skies and 62° temps. Hell yeah. My spirits were high.

at the start

Here are my friend, Dillon, and I near the start. See the cheesetastic grins? We’re ready to run.

In hindsight, I totally over-dressed. I got warm right away, tied my top layer around my waist and wished I could lose the running tights.

Miles 1-3: I intended to go out slow. I wanted those first three miles to function as a warmup, to feel easy and fun. I imagined I’d run them at a 9:00-9:15 pace, but kept looking at my Garmin and seeing 8:20-8:30, so then I’d pull my pace back. I’m glad I did because it definitely conserved energy, but now I wonder if I should have just let my legs do the deciding. This part of the course was flat and easy, meandering past open, grassy fields.

  • mile 1: 8:40
  • mile 2: 8:37
  • mile 3: 8:38
Helvetia

Hot & sweaty, and this is probably only around the 4th mile.

Miles 4-6: Heading into the fourth mile, I wanted to pick up the pace and catch the 8:30 pacer. (She had a yellow balloon tied to her tank top so she was easy to spot.) I wouldn’t catch her in this stretch, as I soon realized this was the hilliest part of the course. Luckily, the hills were rolling and let up with moments of downhill and flats in between. I saw my friend, Andrew, right before heading into the biggest hills (spectating on the sidelines with a cowbell and signs!) — it was a huge morale boost. The hill in the 5th mile did worry me a bit, as I saw a 10:40 on my watch. (Note to self: Do more hill training.) I wondered if it’d throw off the rest of the race.

  • mile 4: 8:32
  • mile 5: 9:18
  • mile 6: 8:21

Miles 7-9: I ate a gel around mile six, and I felt a surge of energy in the seventh mile. I was actually really surprised at how good I was feeling. I wasn’t breathing very hard; my legs felt nice and springy. From here to the finish, I stopped looking at my Garmin and just let my legs take me. In this stretch particularly, I focused on passing people. There were a few people who just weren’t having it, and we alternately passed each other back and forth for a few miles. It was fun to feel my competitive streak in the middle of the race, and it made these miles go by pretty quickly. The course’s last hill was somewhere in the seventh mile, I believe, and it was pretty much flat from there to the finish.

  • mile 7: 8:19
  • mile 8: 8:13
  • mile 9: 8:01
Helvetia

This is somewhere near mile 10. I must’ve been feeling good if I was hamming it up for the photographer.

Miles 10-13.1: I saw Andrew and another friend, Jenny, around mile 10. I knew they’d be there, and it was another huge boost. It signaled I was on the homestretch. I started picking up the pace (though, if you look at the numbers, my pace didn’t change all that much until the last mile, so I know my legs were getting fatigued at this point). The course turned right onto a gravel path in mile eleven. I ate a second gel while I rode out the gravel. It’s not the easiest surface to run on near the end of the race, but not terrible either. I finally passed the 8:30 pacer during this leg of the race, and just kept telling myself that I wanted to finish strong. When I headed into the Hillsboro Stadium, I was giddy. I knew I’d beat my goal time (under 2 hours) and I was ready to stop running. :)

  • mile 10: 8:14
  • mile 11: 8:18
  • mile 12: 8:08
  • mile 13: 7:51
  • mile .1: 6:46 pace (that’s nearly a sprint for me!)
Helvetia

With Jenny & Andrew and their awesome signs. Thanks, friends!

Official time: 1:50:26, Garmin pace: 8:22 (since I ran 13.2 miles with taking long corners, I think), official pace: 8:25

The verdict? The race was well-organized, not too big (just 2,500 participants) and the course was really nice. Not a super fast or flat course, but not as hilly as folks make it sound. Oh, and, having spectators rocks. I’m pretty sure I need Andrew and Jenny and Dillon to come to every running event I do from now on. Not too much to ask, right guys?

If you’re wondering if you should do the Helvetia Half next year, DO IT. And tell me other half marathons I should sign up for this year. I’ve caught the 13.1 bug.

Helvetia Half, take that

I ran the Helvetia Half Marathon today and surprised myself. My pace was better than I expected (my goal was to finish under 2 hours) … I even wonder if I should have pushed it a little harder in the first 5 miles. Overall, I’m pretty pumped about the outcome as it’s my first 13.1 miles in five years (and I didn’t train at all for that one five years ago — bad idea). My training is actually paying off, and I’m super motivated to sign up for more half marathons (and maybe a full?). (Thank you, legs! Thank you, lungs! Thank you, mind!)

I’ll do a full race recap tomorrow, but in the meantime, here’s a quick summary:

Rough look at the course map …

Helvetia Map

The race finished in the Hillsboro Stadium.

My mile splits …

Helvetia Splits

I don’t like the 9:18, but it was during the biggest hill of the race. I’m pretty stoked about the rest.

The elevation profile …

Helvetia Elevation

Elevation by the numbers …

Helvetia Elevation numbers

The rest of the day looked like: eating, stretching, eating, foam rolling, getting a pedicure, eating … and eating. Can’t complain. Back later with more details!

Happy Nat’l Running Day!

Happy National Running Day! Pick a goal, any goal:

  • Run farther than you did yesterday.
  • Run around the block. Backwards.
  • Sign up for a race that makes you nervous.
  • Make a running date with a friend.
  • Make this the year that you stick with running.
  • Keep a running and food journal for the next 30 days.
  • Make a running playlist and share it with me. :)
Helvetia

Helvetia Half. Three days. Get excited.

last long run before the race

Sunday: nuthin’ (pushed my last long run to Monday)

Monday: 8.5 miles

Tuesday: 40 min elliptical

meditation

This is me in a Tibetan rug shop, acting all zen-like. Super talented photographer, Eric Baillies, photoshopped it to look antique-y and trippy. Today, I’m trying to channel this zen mode in prep for Saturday’s race!

Confession: I have an online shopping problem. I’ve grown to hate shopping in stores, except for my beloved Trader Joe’s, and so I buy as much as I can online. Now that I’ve got an Amazon Prime account, shipping is free — and that just means I buy more frequently. Let me break down my recent orders:

Of these six items, I intended to buy three of them: the Love Grown granola (because I’d read about it on another blog and have been looking for a new granola to swap into my breakfast routine), the SPIbelt (I already have a larger Nathan belt, but have wanted something smaller for races) and the hiking book (since I’ve never actually owned a book of hikes since I’ve lived in Portland, even though I go hiking regularly).

The other three items just kind of magically appeared in my cart, damnit.

That’s basically how all of my online purchases work. 50% planned. 50% on a whim. And thus my bank account hates me.

But it’s just so easy to click ORDER! You don’t even have to pull out your card! You don’t even have to look at your money!

Ok, back to running.

I planned to do my last long run (before the Helvetia Half) on Sunday, but I slept in too late and then spent the rest of the day at a barbecue. It was a good decision. We played bean bag toss (aka cornhole) for hours — I let it slide that their set is painted in Steelers colors — and I had my fill of chips and guacamole, garden burgers and beergaritas. (Those take carb, er, sugar loading to a whole new level.)

bbq

The carb loading must have worked because I really enjoyed Monday’s run. Or, I should say, I enjoyed most of it. Except getting hit on the head with a rock. THAT A KID THREW AT ME. Yes. A 12-year old kid threw a rock at MY HEAD while I was running.

I was so startled when it happened that I didn’t really have time to react, and the kid and his friends were already racing off in the other direction around the corner. But, damn, it kind of hurt. We’re not talking a pebble, we’re talking a rock the size of a quarter.

And my eyes sort of filled with tears. (Embarrassing.) Not because it hurt that much, more because I felt, like, oddly violated by some stupid punk. It took me a good half mile to get my breathing back and convince myself that I was totally fine and should probably not be having a meltdown in the midst of my run.

Anyway, the run itself was pretty nice. I stuck with a comfortable pace and never felt like I over-exerted myself, and I had energy to spare at the end. Here are my splits:

mile splits

These aren’t fast, by any means, but they’re faster than the paces I’ve been holding my other long runs at (granted those other long runs were 10-12 miles, not 8.4). Still, for the last long run leading into the race, it was a good confidence builder for me.

And what I really looked forward to was pulling on my compression sleeves, icing on the couch and eating boatloads of crackers and cheese when I got home.

ProCompression socks

Today, I did an easy 40 minutes on the elliptical at the gym and foam rolled the wazoo out of my thighs and calves.

I’m planning to do one more run and two days of rest (or maybe yoga) before Saturday.

I think this is what’s called smart tapering.

And it’s actually not bothering me at all. I like the rest. I welcome it. So … maybe I’m not really a serious runner … yet.

What about you? Anyone running a race this weekend? Are you excited? Anxious? Ready to kick ass (but not throw rocks)?