Vancouver Marathon Training: Week 3

Week 3 is on the books! The general sentiment around the interwebs seems to be something to the effect of “screw winter,” and I can’t say I disagree. Yesterday, I ran outside for the first time in almost 2 weeks, and I had to bring the last third of my run inside because I wanted to maintain use of my fingers. Remind me of this when I think I want to move back to Michigan again.

I own you. You will move only when I say you will move.

I own you. You will move only when I say you will move.

This week went really well, and although it pains me to say it, I think it’s because I cut out my beloved HIIT workouts. I’ve come to love strength training and even look forward to it, but I was noticing my legs felt much heavier than they should on my speed days. My coach and I talked it through, and I decided to dial back on the HIIT and see what happened. Worked like a charm!

Instead, I’ve made friends with the arc trainer, which seems to be like a stairclimber/elliptical hybrid. I have no interest in the stair climber, and the elliptical makes my feet go numb, so it’s a fair compromise. I’m also taking at least 15 minutes to do core work and hip bridges on my cross training days. Plus, my regular PT appointments have me doing glute strengthening exercises. I know I need to do these more than once a week at my appointments. I KNOW! Baby steps.

What I was supposed to do: 6 miles @8:40-9:05
What actually happened: 6 miles @8:50 on the treadmill
The treadmill is terribly boring, but the gym was quiet, so I put on the Today Show, set the treadmill to whatever pace 8:50 equates to, and just zoned out. Done and done.

What I was supposed to do: 
XT or rest
What I actually did: 45 minutes arc trainer; 15 minutes core work
I have zero recollection of this workout, but if Daily Mile says this is what I did, this is what I did.

What I was supposed to do:
Tempo run–7 miles total; warm up; 4 miles @7:25-7:32; cool down
What I actually did: 7 miles total–1.5 mile warm up; 5 miles @7:24; 0.5 mile cool down + PT!!!
I really love running fast, and this tempo work was no exception. Ramping down the HIIT seemed to do the trick, and I cruised through the 4 miles so easily that I decided to tack on an extra one. Leg felt fast and loose, just what I wanted!
I also went to PT, where he fixed me right up. My left glute and hamstring were tight and knotted per the usual, so he dry needled and scraped them, which helped a lot. He also stretched my hip flexors and IT bands, and he wound up needling those, too, which I desperately needed. Then I did: hip bridges on the balance ball, single leg deadlifts, squats with a band, standing clamshells (this is not the technical term, just what I call them), lateral dips, walk outs on the pulley, and probably something else I’m forgetting.
My legs were pretty tired by the time I got there (l usually run first thing in the morning and go to PT in the evening). But, as my smarty pants therapist pointed out, it’s good to work the glutes on tired legs so that I teach them to fire even when they’re tired. Sort of like what they’re supposed to do during the marathon.

What I was supposed to do: 
4 miles easy recovery run no faster than 9:05
What I actually did: 4 miles easy recovery run @9:01; 15 minutes core work
I swear I did run my miles easy–I set the treadmill at 9:05 and only messed with the incline so I wouldn’t go any faster! But I did sprint the last 0.1 mile juuuuuust for fun ;) Then I did HIIT work just for my core on the mat, incorporating some hip bridges and side pedestals with a leg lift, which are for the glutes. I was having a bad day and didn’t run in the morning like I usually do, so I needed this big time. Anyone else feel healed by a good workout?

What I was supposed to do:
What I actually did: REST and lots of foam rolling and lacrosse balling of the hip flexors and obnoxious left glute/hamstring
I wanted to workout (winter makes me stir-crazy), but I also knew that saving my legs for Saturday’s long run was a good idea. I was definitely glad I did.

What I was supposed to do: 14 miles total–first 9 miles easy (target pace 8:25), cut down on the last 5 miles, running the last 5K @7:45 or better; run controlled.
What actually happened: 14 miles total–first 9 miles easy (8:29, 8:25, 8:22, 8:26, 8:27, 8:18, 8:09, 8:19, 8:32); last 5 miles cut down (8:04, 7:50, 7:35, 7:35, 7:30); finished with .1 @6:31
After last week’s terrible long run on the treadmill, I needed this to go well. Thankfully, it did! I headed out early Saturday with Roo, planning to do the first 9 miles with her. It was about 15* when I started, but I was bundled up and so was she, plus I had hand warmers, so I thought I’d be ok. I sort of forgot about the whole wind factor, and the first 4.5 miles or so into the wind were tough. Between trying not to slip on icy spots, making sure the dog didn’t trip me, and trying to focus on controlling my pace, I was a little stressed. The second 4.5 weren’t much better, and running the 9th mile uphill and into the wind was easily the toughest part of the run.
When I came home to drop Roo off and get myself a Gu, I realized my fingers were completely numb and useless. I could barely open a Gu or get her leash and coat off. Not good. So I quickly changed and zipped over to the gym to finish the last 5 on the treadmill. It felt GREAT, and I was so relieved to have it go well after feeling like I wanted to quit last weekend. I felt fast and loose and strong. If I can feel that way for most of my race, I’ll be thrilled!

What I was supposed to do: REST or XT
What actually happened: nothing yet. I might make it to the gym for a little arc training. Then again, we’re having freezing rain today, and it is Nasty (yes, with a capital ‘N’) out there. I might be happy to hang out on the couch with Roo and get some things done around the house. It will depend on how much I want to avoid cleaning my apartment and doing laundry. The lesser of 2 evils and all that ;)

Week 3 Vancouver

Last but not least, despite the fact that I’ve been craving protein, meat is most definitely not the answer for me. After 3 days of adding it back in, all I wanted were veggies. And I was already eating veggies with my meat! Instead, I’m going to stick to beans, nuts, and egg whites (which I’ve eaten all along), plus some cheese here and there. It doesn’t bother my stomach in small doses, and I need the extra protein right now! I also remembered that I have a bunch of protein powder that I need to use more often. I’m so used to making it into smoothies, that I’d forgotten it can be a simple shake that’s a great snack after a run. Now I just have to remember that.

eat everything

Vancouver Marathon Training: Week 2

This was an interesting week on the training front. I started out the week feeling ok, but bad weather and freezing temps drove me inside, and I wound up feeling more frustrated than anything else. I’m hoping a trip to a very muddy dog park and a little easy elliptical or arc trainer work will help me reset today. We both need the mental relief after being cooped up all week!

Hibernation mode

Hibernation mode

What I was supposed to do: 5 miles easy
What actually happened: 5 miles @8:13 (8:15, 8:09, 8:14, 7:58, 8:28)
Let the record show that it was in the teens with a windchill closer to 10 degrees. Not for the faint of heart, and certainly not something I’ll be repeating anytime soon. The last mile was uphill and into the wind because it’s a cruel, cruel world. I think my fingers were in the first stages of frostbite when I got home. Getting the feeling back was so painful that I actually thought I might throw up. All treadmill, all the time until it’s over 30 degrees.

What I was supposed to do: XT or rest
What actually happened: 60 minute HIIT workout
I love HIIT training. Felt great during this workout. Even though it was challenging, it just feels so good to push myself in a different way. Always focusing on getting my core, hips, and glutes strong during these workouts motivates me. I think about how it will benefit me during my race and training runs. Also helps that I do these in my living room, and in a rare crafting moment, I made this and hung it on my wall where I can see it when I workout.

we can do hard things

What I was supposed to do: 
Speedwork! 6 miles total — warm up; 1 K repeats @6:51 – 6:55 pace – jog 50-75% of repeat for recovery; cool down
What actually happened: 
6 miles total — warm up; 1 K repeats @6:53 – jog 50-75% of repeat for recovery; cool down
I did what I was supposed to! Yay for me! So, for those of us who operate in miles, 1 kilometer is about 0.62 miles. I did the K repeats with 0.38 recovery jogs to make them even miles because my brain likes those :)
Honestly, these weren’t super tough physically, but mentally, I really had to talk myself through them. For each one, I imagined I was on an actual track and thought about where in the lap I’d be, focused on driving my arms, and tried to just stay in the interval. I also like to yell at myself when I’m tired. As in, “If you want to quit, then quit!” My head is a fun place to be.

What I was supposed to do:
4 miles no faster than 10:15 pace
What actually happened: 
4 miles @8:34
Four easy recovery miles on the treadmill. My legs felt great, and I actually enjoyed a nice, relaxed run. My only complaint on this day was the abominably smelly dude who hopped on the treadmill next to mine. It was bad enough that I considered moving treadmills. I think I though I was trying to be nice/not offend him in not moving? In hindsight, I should have saved myself. Always save yourself!

What I was supposed to do:
 XT or rest
What actually happened: REST
That’s all I have to say about that.

What I was supposed to do: 
13 miles @8:25-8:35
What actually happened: 13 miles of hell on the treadmill @8:42 average pace
I wasn’t dreading this run beforehand, but maybe I should have been. For the first 7ish miles (until the treadmill stopped itself after an hour–annoying), I felt ok. Not great mentally, but not awful. I followed these Tips on How to Run Long on the Treadmill Without Losing Your Mind from Runners World–not exactly, but enough to give me some variety. I couldn’t get Netflix to load on my iPad to re-watch season 1 of Scandal (WHY DON’T I REMEMBER STEPHEN?!?!), so I just put on a favorite playlist and tried to relax and enjoy. It wasn’t happening.

I tried out a new pair of shoes (just a new pair of the Brooks PureFlow 2s I’ve been wearing for over a year), and that was mistake #1. I should’ve worn an older pair and broken those in. Silly me. I wound up with a very sore right foot and uncomfortable form for the last 6 miles.

Why have you foresaken me?!

Why have you foresaken me?!

The run was so bad that around miles 9, 10, 11, 12, and 12.5, I considered quitting. When I’m out for a run outside, I never want to quit. I can always push through. I even walked for a bit around mile 11. I just And then I felt off for the rest of the day. Just unsettled. Not at all accomplished. Frustrated.

Sunday (today)
What I was supposed to do: XT or rest
What actually happened: Planning on 30-45 minutes on some kind of workout machine at the gym. Elliptical? Arc Trainer? And some core work.

vancouver marathon training week 2

Now I’m wondering how to incorporate strength training while not exhausting myself so much that I struggle through speedwork and long runs. My XT days are always the days before tough workouts, so I don’t want to exhaust myself, but I do want keep up the strength. I’m emailing my coaches today to see what they say, so hopefully I’ll have more to say about this next week.

I’ve also noticed that I am craving protein like crazy, which isn’t surprising at all. I’ve been pretty committed to a mostly vegan diet for over 2 years, but I’ve been craving meat lately. I’m going to try to reintroduce some meats to my diet this week and see how my stomach does with them. Although, I have homemade chicken noodle soup on the stove right now, and the smell is making me nauseous, so there you go. <sigh>

Don’t Get Too Excited.

Oh hey. Long time no talk! If you still follow me on twitter or Instagram, first of all, awwww, thanks :) And secondly, you may or may not know that I finally succeeded in running a marathon. Actually, I’ve run two in the last year and had some success with it, which comes as a slight shock. But, more on that (maybe?) later.

Anyway, I’ve decided to chase 26.2 again, this time in Vancouver on May 3. Rather than simply following the Smart Coach plans I have in the past, I’ve decided to hire a coach. I figure, if I’m able to run a 3:24:51 without any coaching, I’d love to see what I can do with professional guidance!


I feel like this is kind of a noteworthy thing in my life, so I want to have a record of it, hence the “out of retirement” thing. Don’t get too excited.

Here’s the very condensed Reader’s Digest version of what’s been going on in my running life since we last talked. I’ll give you bullet points because we really do not have all day here.

  • I began seeing a physical therapist in the Fall of 2013 and had some success there. She helped get my back and glutes stronger, and by February 2014, I was pretty much pain free. Party.
  • In January 2014, I ran the Celebration Marathon with Paula and Michelle, and it was painful. I hadn’t trained and that damn Florida humidity tried to kill me. Also, my old knee pain came back around mile 9 and was fairly excruciating. So that was fun. I finished in around 1:45 or so and could barely walk.1533781_10151954777251902_766654416_n
  • Because that race went so well, I figured I’d go ahead and train for double that distance. #logic I ran the Rock n’ Roll Marathon in DC last March on 6 weeks of training and finished in 3:38:06. It was basically my most favoritest race ever, and I was stupid happy the whole time. Well, maybe not the last 4 miles which consisted of rolling hills and heard me yelling (literally) obscenities as I crested each one and saw a new one approaching. Still. Loved it.race1
  • Continued running a bit for the next few months and decided to register for Chicago 2014. As I worked on building my base for that, the old back/glute pain came back, so I started going to a new PT closer to my apartment (because of course I moved yet again). He’s done wonders for me. Maybe I’ll write about that at some point, too.
  • I trained for Chicago through the end of summer and early fall, and it was fantastic. I just felt great all the time, was fueling well, strength training, and generally in top shape. Had an amazing race. Again, stupid happy. Apparently, this is my default state when I race the marathon.10979702_1547137235537930_1846208414_n
  • And, finally, I can’t recap the last almost 2 years without mentioning that I got a blister during Chicago which then got infected which then caused me to go into septic shock and spend 6 days in the hospital. They stored me in the oncology ward since apparently infectious diseases doesn’t get its own area. After I was released, I realized there’s a 60% mortality rate for what I had. Close call.

I’m sure I’m glossing over lots, but I guess we’re all up to speed now!


I made you a workout video. Well, kinda.

{I am so embarrassing.}

OK, so here’s what’s behind this. I do all kinds of HIIT workouts all the time with weird moves that I can’t really describe. The Daily HIIT website is my go-to, but it’s not super easy to navigate or find a video of the exact move I want to share with you. So all the credit goes to them for the idea, but I made my own little video because a). I’m a total dork and b). I really want people to try this stuff, but I know it’s not always easy to figure out what’s going on on that site.

Moving on.

As mentioned in the video, I’m trying to strengthen my hips and back for running so I don’t get injured again. I realize that I’m not going to spot-strengthen anything, so strengthening everything is the name of the game. This move–the “supergirl”–is a single leg squat to single leg deadlift. Ish. It’s tough because it not only requires strength, but balance as well. The thing I’ve noticed, though, is that when you have to balance, it’s great for that overall strengthening piece. This move will work quads, hamstrings, hips, back, ankles, etc. It’s one stop shopping.

The other thing to note about this: it’s hard. You will wobble. You might fall. I am not an expert, so attempt at your own risk and please try not to hurt yourself. I’d start with no weight or even with light dumbbells until you get the hang of it. Let me know what you think!

Also: is this helpful? Do you like my barely amateur/non-existent video production skills? Should I quit embarrassing myself and never make a video again? Or should I quit my job and become the next Jane Fonda?

Training to Run a Half Marathon PR

You guys.

You need to read this article about training to run a half marathon PR.

OK–maybe those of you who don’t run don’t want to read it.

But! The rest of you: READ IT.

I, for one, am completely smitten by it and immediately want to find another half to train for so I can implement these ideas because I’m a super nerdy runner like that.

So this all started because I came across this article and started rambling to Manfriend about it via gchat.

Manfriend is not a runner.

He’s plenty athletic (he plays all the sports), but my running rambles got stale for him pretty quickly. It was basically this scenario:

It’s Not About the Nail from Jason Headley on Vimeo.

So. I reverted to my usual first reaction: emailing this lady, obvi. But I wanted to talk about it MOAR. And here we are.

My favoritest parts of this read include, but are not limited to:

  1. Long Runs. I wonder if adding a 2 hour run every week would help build aerobic capacity long term? Or does this just work during training and require downtime (ie., non-training time) to be effective?
  2. Strides! Why am I not doing these? I don’t know why I never do strides, but I should, especially given that they take almost no time and very little effort. Same with incorporating fartleks. I used to do intervals fairly regularly, but almost never do now. At least not running intervals. HIIT is a different story.
  3. Hills. I know running uphill is great for training, but what about downhill? The part about running downhill and strengthening quads is so smart, especially for a course like the one I just ran, which is a very gradual downhill course.
  4. Lactate Thresholds.  Funny, I was just talking to my co-worker (who used to be a rower) about this. Apparently, you reach a point in your workout where you start producing lactic acid (you know, the part that really hurts), and you can’t push yourself any further. Your body literally starts to break down. (Yes, literally). I think it’s interesting that you can increase it, though. I want to do that!
  5. Last Miles = Fast Miles. I know you’re supposed to pick up the pace at the end of long runs, but I always go out too fast and then get tired. If I could pace myself better, I know this would help me.

Anyway, the article is written by Greg Strosaker who is a marathon runner, author, and online running coach. I was pretty impressed with the quick look I took around his site. Definitely worth a follow.

Running Stuff

So. Running stuff. Just like any other runner, I like to try new things here and there and see if they’ll change my life. (Yes, I dream big.)


A while back, the Sunglasses Shop offered to send me a pair of sport sunglasses to try out. I love free stuff (duh), and in all honesty, I’ve been looking for a pair of sunglasses for running for quite some time, so I was definitely game.

The Sunglasses Shop has all kinds of fancy sunglasses, but since I specifically wanted a running pair, I spent an exorbitant amount of time browsing through their sport sunglasses. Since they stock basically every pair of sunglasses on the planet–for running, cycling, baseball, fishing, kite surfing? (you get the idea)–it took me quite some time to pick something out.

Can I just say how hard it is to choose a pair of sunglasses without trying them on? I have an oddly tiny face/head, so everything tends to look a little goofy on me. I did my best, though, and eventually settled on the Dirty Dog Clank Sunglasses.

Dirty dog

They’re maybe a tiny bit big for my face, but as far as functionality goes, these are awesome. They stay on my face, don’t bounce, don’t fog up–basically everything I want out of running sunglasses. Good work those Dirty Dog Sunglasses people have done.

Gentle Leader Puppy Harness

Next up, the Gentle Leader harness. If you have a dog or will ever have a dog and run, you need one of these. It’s a head harness that is totally comfy for puppy, but prevents pulling for you.

IMG 1489

Hers is actually a little too loose here, but you get the idea. It fits over her face but behind her mouth, and fastens at the back. I’ve tried a bunch of different harnesses, and this is the only one that actually keeps her from pulling. She’s still not perfect on it, but it’s a vast improvement from anything else I’ve tried.

IMG 1472

She loves it. I swear.

Ok, she doesn’t love it, but she’s getting used to it. And as soon as we start running, she’s so happy that she totally forgets about it.

Summer Duds

I cannot adequately express how in love I am with my Lululemon Speed Shorts. Yes, they are pricey. But I just got my second pair, and I prefer running in them so much more than any other shorts I have. They’re comfortable, flattering, and have 10 zillion pockets. I know it’s a lot to spend on a pair of running shorts, but given the fact that I run on more days of my life than not, I can justify the expense.

Running duds

The other piece I’m kind of obsessed with is this running tank from Gap. It fits and feels like cotton, but it’s wicking, so when you sweat, it doesn’t get super heavy. I need to buy a few more before they’re out of stock. Even though I know they’re not specifically in their running line, they work for me. The blue one in the sunglasses pic above (not that you can see it all that well) is my other fav. I have it in black, too, and it’s probably tied with this white one. Gap makes good running stuff!

P.S. Sunglasses Shop offered these sunglasses to me at no cost in exchange for my honest opinion, and that’s what you got! The rest of this stuff is just stuff I like–no affiliation or free stuff involved. :) 

Decker’s Creek Half Marathon

(Warning: Long post ahead. Only one picture, so you’ll have to count on being entertained by my enthralling prose. Proceed at your own risk.)

Remember that race I’ve been training for? So I ran it last Saturday. And it was good! Ish.

To fully understand what I was working with, let’s talk through the events leading up to the race.

I knew it was going to be hot. Really hot. And disgustingly humid. I did my regular hydration routine beforehand in anticipation of the conditions, but even a well-hydrated, well-conditioned body is going to struggle in the heat. I went into the race with this in mind, reminding myself that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I needed to slow down because of the heat.

Friday night was very low key. I arrived at the hotel with a pretty bad headache, but assumed I just needed to get some food and that would take care of it. No dice. I’m super stubborn about taking medication if I think I can “tough it out,” so I didn’t bother running to the store for anything.  I mean, how bad could a headache be? <–foreshadowing

I went to bed around 10 and fell right asleep, but around 12:45 I woke up with an absolutely pounding headache. We’re talking blindingly miserable pain. I thought I could just go back to sleep and it would go away, but an hour later, I was still awake, and my head felt like it was going to explode. I called down to the front desk asking if they had any ibuprofen (acetaminophen has never been good to me), and they said they’d send some right up. And up it came. In the form of Extra Strength Tylenol. I knew I had a bad history with the stuff, but I was desperate, so I took the meds. Approximately 8.3 minutes later, I was retching in the bathroom.  It was a sad scene: sweaty fever and blinding pain–and it went on for the next hour. I somehow managed to sleep for another 2.5 hours,  but then I was awake–without the headache or vomiting–but also without the rest I needed pre-race.

When it was time to actually get up and get ready, I still felt a little queasy, but I didn’t train for 6 weeks to sleep off some weird illness in a hotel room, so I figured I’d at least try to run the race. I could always drop out if I needed to. We stopped at the store for some ibuprofen and pretzels, which helped any traces of headache and settled my stomach, respectively. Sidenote: when you live in the city, the price of groceries in the rest of the world becomes a source of great joy. Meds, pretzels, and 2 giant Gatorades for under $10. Unheard of. Anyway.

The Decker’s Creek Half Marathon is a tiny race–600 participants, max–and there’s no pre-race expo. Packet pick-up is before the race near the finish line, and then runners are bused to the start. They do this part really well–very orderly and pretty straightforward. I grabbed my packet, dropped everything but my bib back at the car, and hopped on the bus with a handful of gummy bears. Shot blocks, gummy bears–it’s all the same, no? I got to the start in plenty of time to use the bathroom and do a few dynamic stretches beforehand–I just swing my legs back and forth and side to side (one at a time, of course), and I actually think it helps the ol’ hips.

Even though there were only 600 runners, the start was incredibly crowded. They do 2 waves, but with approximately 300 people lining up on a path that’s 8–maybe 9–feet across doesn’t make for an easy start. Oh, and my Garmin didn’t start right away, so my distance was slightly off for the whole race, but that’s not the end of the world.

After the first 3/4 mile or so, I had gotten out ahead of the jumble and found a comfy pace. I was surprised at how good I felt considering how sick I was and how little sleep I’d had, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that adrenaline can do surprising things. I started out around a 7:30 pace, sped up for the next few miles, and then settled to just under 8 minute pace until around mile 10. Despite the heat and humidity, the miles ticked by relatively quickly, and I felt good. Shortly after mile 8, I ate my Gu and actually stopped at the water station to make sure I didn’t spill anything–I needed the hydration. I usually run through water stops, but I needed to be sure I got every drop. When I finished the cup, I remember thinking, that’s it?!? I suppose I could’ve walked back and gotten another cup, but I figured I could wait until the next stop.

I did ok until that next water stop, but by then, I was pretty wiped out. I stopped again and drank 2 cups of water, then plodded through the last few miles of the race. By mile 12, I was at a 9:14 pace and just spent. I stopped once more for a drink, then finished ‘er up.

Official chip time: 1:44:36, 25th of 329 women, 7th in my age group

deckers creek half

Honestly? Not mad at that at all. It’s 10 minutes faster than the last time I ran this race (and the conditions were much better that year). All things considered, it was a pretty good run. A tough run, but a good one no less.

Bonus: Manfriend was there (with signage!) cheering me on. This is the first time since I started racing that I’ve actually had a significant other, and it was kind of awesome to have him there. Decker’s Creek is not an easy course to spectate–it’s all on trails that are difficult to access from the road–but he caught me at 3 different spots. Even though I was salty about how hot it was, seeing him definitely made me smile.

Will I run this race again? Maybe. Now that I have more races under my belt, I can see that it leaves some things to be desired, like the congestion at the start, the lack of Gu/gel on the course (they have them for you to pick up pre-race), and the location of the aid stations (it was a little hard to tell when they were coming up, even if you knew the mile marker, they weren’t consistently spaced). I’ve also realized that it’s harder to run a race when there are so few places for people to spectate. I like the energy of the crowd, even if I do have my headphones blasting the whole time. So we’ll see. I really do like the course and the size of the race, so I’ll keep it in my back pocket. But for the immediate future, I want to set my sights on something new. Any suggestions for a fall half?