Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Week 4 - Recap

Miles: 41

I broke the 40 mile a week barrier, finally, and just in time too. I'm starting to see the end in sight. The marathon is less than two months away now, and it's starting to become more of a reality to me.

The best parts of this week:

  • My best 3/4mi performance to date
  • Seeing the "deer family" again on my long run. 
  • Gutting out 14 miles over flooded trails
  • And most favorite of all - and completely non-running: my anniversary celebration in Chicago
This week is not going to change much in terms of mileage. My long run will increase, as usual, but my coach is really cautious about increasing mileage too much too fast. I think it's a good plan.

My least favorite parts of this week:
  • The heat
  • The fact that summer is flying by
Don't these two seem at war with each other? I'm from the South and I love the heat, but it is definitely hard to run in. That being said, heat and humidity make everything else about Wisconsin extremely pleasant. I always tell my customers when they complain about how hot it is that we could all be shoveling snow (and we all WILL be shoveling before we know it...).

Summer is also slipping away from me. With this training, especially, my days are packed with work, athletics, and socializing, but there's always more I want to do. One more baseball game, one more grillout, one more party, one more race. There's just not enough time to fit it all in. And I'm starting to see back to school ads on television and in magazines. It makes me nostalgic for my childhood days when all I had to worry about was swim practice and swim meets in the summer. I think part of this need to jam everything-all-at-once into three months comes from the fact that our winters are so long and so brutal in Wisconsin. It puts a lot of pressure on everyone to have as much fun as possible while the sun still shines. Right now, I wouldn't have it any other way, though. I'm training, working, and having fun. So, let's keep this summer rolling along! 

55 Days - Remember Me?

Hi. It's been awhile.

Luckily, it's just my writing and not my training that's fallen behind. Also, this week was kind of busy because I took a trip to Chicago to celebrate my wedding anniversary. Three years!

Yesterday, after a train ride back into Milwaukee, it was time to get back to reality. Not only did I have to teach my abs class, but I had to get a run in as well. I decided to park at the Y and run on the Oak Leaf Trail.

The run was about five and a half miles, but it felt a little longer because of the heat. It was hot and bright, and by the time I got back, I was drenched. I ended up drinking one of those huge SmartWater bottles (about 50.7 oz) and didn't have to rush to the bathroom repeatedly afterwards. That means I lost a LOT of fluids.

On my way back, I saw a kid walking up the hill on 15th St. (Ave?) with his football pads on. He must have just gotten out of a camp session or something. Even though it was blazing hot outside, I could feel the tiniest bit of fall crispness in the air. I knew that the hazy sky of summer would soon give way to the deep, clear, limitless blue of fall. The autumn sports are gearing up, and summer will be over long before I'm willing to accept it.

I'd be lying if I told you that I didn't crave a fall run every once in a while.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Week 3 - Recap

Miles: 31

This post is almost a week late, but I still think it's good for me mentally to take stock of each week and see where I am. Miles-wise, I stayed about the same this week. I had another race, which accounted for the lack of increase in miles. The one area that is increasing, though, is my long run. This week was 13 miles.

Physically, I'm still holding everything together with no major pain or aches that last longer than a day. I really hope this continues. Part of the reason for this may be that I waited until I had three solid years of running banked up before I started marathon training. Another reason is that my coach and I are really focusing on diet, hydration, and rest, rest, rest during my off days.

Mentally, I can feel myself getting stronger. The long run gets easier from a mental standpoint each week. The hardest part for me is still the turnaround, or the halfway point, and those last two or three miles when everything hurts and there's nothing you can really do about it. I think the heat training is also helping with my mental development because it's so oppressive and requires much more effort to stay focused and keep proper form. Come September (which will, hopefully, be cooler) my mental toughness will literally have been forged in the fire.

Another constant that has really been helping me through this journey has been the support of my friends. They are always sending me encouraging messages via text and Facebook. It doesn't sound like much, but that constant support is a huge motivator for me.

61 Days - 5x.75mi

My strategy for these was to try not to burn out the way I did last week. I took precautions: ate a little before I went out. Made sure I was hydrated. And I think the results are promising. I didn't go as fast as I did last week, but I split negative, and my last three-quarter was the fastest one I've ever done.

1. 5:28 (7:18/mi)
2. 5:22 (7:09/mi)
3. 5:11 (6:54/mi)
4. 5:08 (6:50/mi)
5. 4:55 (6:33/mi)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

62 Days - Cudahy to Oak Creek

7 miles from Cudahy to Oak Creek.

First, I got to the Y to teach my class. I rarely make it to the Y anymore except to teach, and I didn't teach Thursday, so it felt weird to be back after a whole week! I miss it there, but I just can't fit everything in anymore. What I'm really missing is my weightlifting. I liked the strength and definition it was giving me, but I can't split myself up too much, or I'll risk getting injured.

By the time I got on the Oak Leaf Trail, the clouds were moving in. At first, it felt great. High seventies compared to high nineties is a wonderful temperature drop. But then, it started to rain as soon as I hit Oak Creek. Damn, OC, I thought we were cool! The rain lasted until my last mile and a half and then it turned into stifling humidity. I was glad to reach my car and turn on the AC.

These were supposed to be easy miles, but I found myself pushing it to try to get out of the rain. No matter how much I tried to slow it down and relax, I was still kind of tense. I know not every run will be pleasant, but after my awesome long run last week, I was hoping to continue the trend.

Speed work today. Now, it's really time to get tense...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

63 Days - Rest

Nothing else to tell y'all but, stop what you're doing right now, and go see Inception.

Yes. Right now.

It's that good.

See you later.

64 Days - Long Run

"13 miles and still smiling."

That's what I texted my running buddies as I sat in a post-run ice bath with my legs twitching out. I never used to understand shirts with that phrase: "AND STILL SMILING!!!!!!!! :) :) :)" It all seemed way too cutesy for me. But these long runs are making me realize that sometimes that unswerving over-the-top positivity is the only thing that will get you through to the next mile. Or get you over the pain in your feet once you stop. Positivity, people! I'm learning it.

The other thing that gets you through long mileage? This American Life on podcast. I was really trying to be a purist with these long runs and do them sans ipod, but yesterday was not the day to stand on principle. As you know, I was supposed to be resting yesterday and seeing Inception, but decided to get my run over with. I checked the weather and saw that Sunday was going to be way more humid than Saturday. And after a long Sunday opening shift, humidity was not going to be my friend. So, after my 8a - 4p shift yesterday, I headed out on the trail armed with Ira Glass to keep me company and help the miles glide by.

It was a lifesaver. I was totally caught up in the stories of the show and not on negative thoughts. I know that I will have to learn to deal with pain and negativity without the aid of an ipod (since I'm going to be racing without one), but it was such a relief to have company on my run after a long day at work.

Things I Saw/Thought About

  • The last half of my run was during the "golden hour," as the sun just starts setting. It was really pretty, and the heat died down a lot as the sun started its descent.
  • As I was coming back, I saw a doe and two of her babies eating in the field. They crossed the trail right in front of me. The sun made everything golden and green and beautiful. A great reward for heading out.
  • I now know why elite distance runners choose "buns" (short spandex shorts) over regular running shorts. When you sweat, your shorts become completely soaked. By the end of the run, the back of my shorts was literally dripping with sweat. I looked like I had just climbed out of the pool. Seriously, y'all, I could feel the weight of these shorts. Wow.
This week's long run went pretty well. We'll see if the trend continues. I haven't hit my wall yet, so I'll let you know when I have to fight through one. Hopefully, I'll be ready.