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Posts Tagged ‘long run’

X-Country 30K

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

I had to run this race again this year despite it being only one week after the Random Acts of Giving Marathon since I came so close to the course record last year!  When I justify to others why I have to run certain races, it’s really more to convince myself than anyone else.

The Overall Female record is 2:28:15 and the Masters Female record is 2:34:37.  Last year I was only 39 so not eligible for the Masters record just yet.  The X-Country 30K is a gorgeous trail run at Alafia River State Park in Lithia, Florida.  There is a section of the course that you run twice so when you exit the sandy section and trail near the restrooms, pavilions, and finish area the first time you take a right so you can go do the second loop, and then the second time you run straight to the finish.  Last year was a cool day, perfect for a long race like this.  It was my first time running the 30K and I was on course record pace when I exited the trail the second time only to have the volunteer send me to the right AGAIN.  I ran about a half mile in the wrong direction before I decided that this was ridiculous and wrong so I headed to the finish line as the overall female winner.  I ran over 19.5 miles and my average pace was faster than the Overall Female course record pace but because I had run longer than 18.6 miles (30K), my finish time was 2:33:20, slower than the record.  I was so frustrated by this experience at first but after filling out the finish card, getting a drink, and walking around a bit, I realized that the volunteer who sent me the wrong way made a mistake.  We are human and we make mistakes sometimes.  I should have known the course.  I still won the race and a very cool trophy but vowed to return in 2013 to go after that course record!

2013 rolls around and now I am 40 so I had a shot at both the overall and masters records.  I was very excited about this!  I knew the course so there would be no mistakes heading to the finish line.  A very hot day and being sick thwarted my course record attempts.  But I still enjoyed the beautiful cross country course and won the race.  The woman who was in the lead dropped out around 12 miles.  Not sure if the heat got to her or something else.  I felt bad for her but it reminded me of a quote from a newspaper article from my high school cross country days:  “Sometimes even good runners need a little luck.”  Source:  Original 1987 article by Gregory Kerstetter

As I exited the trail to head to the finish, a volunteer asked me as I whizzed by if I was 30K and heading to the finish.  All I could manage to blurt out was “FINISH!”  They weren’t going to make me run more than 30K this year!  Ha ha!

This is a tough race for volunteers since there’s a marathon, 30K, and half marathon all using the same trails.  I definitely do not expect volunteers to keep track of everyone, which race they are in, and which loop they are on.  I am just very glad I knew the course this year.  TampaRaces.com puts on some great races and definitely THE best trail races I have run.  Next year I am hoping for cooler temperatures for the X-Country 30K as I once again attempt an overall or masters record.


Birthday run

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

This year I tried something new – a birthday run.  Since I was not able to go to Massachusetts this year to run the Tornado Alley 57 Miler again, the new plan was to run 40 miles on my 40th birthday.  I had trained for it and all went well up until a couple of weeks ago when I developed pretty severe blisters.  I really cannot recall having blister issues in all my years of running since college anyway.  I did get a doozie of a blister in college, but hey, we also wore cotton socks back then!

Normally I do not run super long during the summer in Florida.  I save my marathon training runs for the fall.  I think between the longer runs and the Southwest Florida heat and humidity, it created the perfect storm.  I wear really good socks, have custom orthotics, wear good fitting shoes, and use BodyGlide.  Florida weather must be no match for even the best laid plans.

I did no running at all for five days leading up to my birthday run in hopes that the blisters would heal and dry up enough to make it through 40 miles.  I felt great when I started out this morning but around 13-15 miles, my feet were soaked and it was time to change socks and shoes.  By the time I actually made it back to my car, I had finished 17 miles and knew the blisters were back.  So the blisters were very painful for the rest of the day; each step hurt and made me question whether I could finish the full 40 miles.  I changed socks several times, used Blistershield powder twice, and on the final sock change I used Aquaphor healing ointment.

Blisters aside, I could not have predicted the outcome of the day.  I was so blessed to have so many of my Suncoast Striders friends and Manatee High cross country runners out there with me.  Sarah, Meagan, and Katie were there bright and early for the 7:00 a.m. start and with birthday cards and gifts too!  Then Amber, Kristen, Canaan, and Ellen took over running duty on the 8:30 a.m. shift while Tiffany captured some great photos.  By 10:00 I had logged about 17 miles when Janet joined me for a few miles and even created a custom cadence for me!  Ellen ran out to buy me some watermelon and delivered it so I had a cold, refreshing treat at 25 miles.  At just before noon Jessica and JP joined me for my toughest miles of the day.  I had already taken one minute walk breaks after every mile completed from about mile 22 to 25 so once we reached 27, I broke the news about the walk breaks which they were happy to do.

We were heading to my favorite part of the trail just after the 27 mile mark.  It’s a nice shaded, single track trail along the water.  Shortly after running (slowly) onto this trail, I started to feel a little light headed and running became so difficult.  We walked almost the whole trail out and back and I had to make a tough decision.  I had to listen to the signs my body was giving me and tell JP and Jessica that I had to call it a day.  We were still a couple miles out from the parking lot so they graciously walked back the entire way with me.  I am so glad they did!  I think I was in worse shape than I thought.  I felt light headed and really felt I had to focus my vision on the path ahead.  And I was told later that I was slurring my words a little on the walk back.  Yikes!

When we reached the parking lot, we hit 30 miles total and saw Chris who was there to run the last leg with me.  I had to apologize to him that I was finished and could not run anymore.  He’s such an awesome guy; he ran my last 10 miles for me in the hottest part of the day at a preserve with little to no shade.  I guess I looked fairly bad because Janet and JP then proceeded to stay with me until I refueled a bit and cooled off.  I don’t remember how long it took for me to seem like my normal self again, but they hung out with me just chatting away and Janet had me sit in the back of her SUV which was cranking out the AC.  Then Theresa and Dawn and her cute crew of minions stopped by to deliver birthday cards, flowers, and balloons.

When I was finally feeling recovered enough to drive I left Robinson Preserve and took a detour on the way home for a dip in the pool and some quality time with my sister.  So refreshing.  All I could think about during the last 2-3 miles walking in the hot sun was how wonderful it would feel to be immersed in water!  I didn’t weigh myself before or after the run today, but probably should have so I’d have a better idea of the state I was in.

Deciding to stop my adventure today at 30 miles was extremely difficult.  I did not want to let anyone down by not reaching my goal.  But the most important thing I learned today is that I must listen to my body.  We all must listen to our bodies!

At first I was disappointed with 30 miles but after Chris texted me telling me that he did the last 10 for me and I had time to reflect on the day, all the people I was able to spend time with, and read all my birthday cards, texts, and messages on facebook, I knew that today’s birthday run was a huge success.  I am truly blessed to have so many amazing friends in my life and we have found each other through running.  This is certainly a birthday I will never forget.  And several people have told me that 40 is the new 30…


Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Back in March The Tornado Alley 50 Miler race director emailed me back to let me know that I could run the entire distance myself and that I did not need a relay team but I would need to provide my own crew and fuel.  Okay, now how do I train for this thing?!?

Talk about uncharted territory!  26.2 miles is the longest I have ever run in a race or a training run.  So I did some research on how to train for ultras.  I took some of the ideas I found along with what I have learned over the years and created a training plan that looked great on paper.  I kept the 3 month training schedule right next to my desk so I would see it daily and stick to it.

Consistency is key.  That’s probably the most important tip I can offer.  And that does not mean the schedule is set in stone.  Definitely listen to your body, take rest days as needed, and revise the schedule to fit your life.  But be consistent.

In March and April I had quite a few races on my calendar so I used those in place of some of the tempo and speed workouts.  I started doing back to back long runs in order to teach my body to run on tired legs.  This worked great for many weeks in this pattern – rest day, long run, long run, rest day and then the remainder of the week filled in with some easy runs, tempo or speed, and maybe a race.  But as the long runs got longer and longer I found that I sometimes I needed two rest days in a row before or after my longer efforts.  Some weeks when I was putting in 4-5 hour training runs (25-31 miles) I could not handle them back to back.  So I made the schedule fit what my body could handle.  I was training in Florida which featured many hot, sunny, and humid training days.

I trained at various times of day so my body could adapt to running at the different times.  I was ready for any sun, heat, or humidity that race day might bring.  I trained using all of my drinks and fuel options so I would know how my body would react to them all.

Once I reached the start of the taper, about three weeks out from race day, I was a little concerned that my longer runs were single day runs with two rest days around them and I was not able to do as many back to back long runs as I had originally planned.  But I have found that over thinking things is pretty typical for taper weeks – too much time on my hands so I start to question everything.

But I headed into race week healthy, well trained, and rested.  I had some of my best sleep the week before the race.  I have never felt so well prepared before.

First ultra

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

So how did I get here?  My husband will confirm statements that I have made in the past about how I have no interest in doing an ultra, that “those people” are crazy, and why would you want to run all day anyway?  That was my former opinion about ultras.  This opinion was formed really knowing nothing about them or the training required to prepare for them.

I guess the progression to “here” (having just signed up for my first ultra) would begin with doing longer training runs for my last few marathons (Boston–April 2011, Space Coast–November 2011, and 5 Points of Life–February 2012).  I had several long runs over 20 miles including a few of 26.2 miles during the past year.   I enjoyed my training for these races and really enjoyed those long runs over 20 miles, especially the 26.2 mile ones!

So good training plus better hydration and fuel during the marathons, yet I still could not break that darn 3:30 barrier.  What is up?  I thought I would rock the 5 Points of Life Marathon because I had figured out I needed Gu and used it in training.  I had done the hill training, the long runs, the GMP runs, tempo, speed, everything!  And I tapered.

That is the beauty and the heartache of the marathon.  You train for months and months and then when the big day arrives you can have a great race or you can walk away disappointed.  I think because it is such a big physical and emotional build up, such a commitment and investment of time and energy that if it does not go perfectly, it can be such a let down.  If you bomb this weekend’s 5K or 10K it’s no big deal.  You can go out and do another one next week or the week after.  But not with the marathon.

So with the disappointment from the last three marathons, I thought maybe I need to get away from the marathon for a while and stop obsessing about breaking 3:30 and do something else.  But what?  Maybe I would try my first ultra this year.  Maybe a nice 50K or something.  Then an opportunity, a race, presented itself and I could not pass it up…

Tornado Alley 50 Miler.

It is a six person relay race (similar to Ragnar or Keys 100) where each person runs three legs of varying distances of 2-6 miles and they pass through relay exchange zones where they find their vans full of teammates and take turns covering the 50 miles.  The course follows the path of the tornado that ripped through Western Massachusettson June 1, 2011.  This event even benefits all the towns affected by the tornado, including my hometown of  Monson, which was hit the hardest.  I had to do this!  But I knew there’s no way I could get five people plus a crew/driver to Massachusetts to do this thing with me.  So I emailed the race director asking if I could run the whole thing myself.

1st quarter recap

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Back in January I was training on my hybrid marathon training plan which combined long runs, several races, hill training, and speed work.  The week ending January 15 marked my “highest week ever” (noted that way in my training log) with 63.25 miles.  Highlights of that week included a hill workout, 22 mile long run, and a decent 10K race.

My previous blog entry goes into great detail about the January 21 Ringling Bridge Run.  The week ending January 22 featured a 9 mile speed workout, some hill sprints, and the 26.2 mile run with the race in the middle.  That week ended with 57.45 miles.

I am going week by week for a reason here.  I wanted to share my build up to the February marathon so you can see the crazy hybrid training schedule I concocted.  ;)

Last week of January I totaled 49 miles with a tough speed workout (600s!) and one of my best races in a while – the Newnan’s Lake 15K in Gainesville (6:55 pace for 9.3 miles) which was followed by a 22 mile long run the next day.  Exhaustion was setting in but luckily it was taper time!

First week of February I had another good quality speed workout (800s this time), some 400s uphill, and took first overall female in the Run for the Manatees 5K.  Only 39 miles this week.  I was having some major IT band pain so I decided to switch to shoes with a little less stability to see if that would help.  I normally train in Brooks Adrenaline and decided to try the Brooks Ravenna.  Probably not the best idea a couple of weeks before my marathon but I didn’t know what else to do at this point.  I stretch, get massage regularly, and had acupuncture.

Taper time!  I do not handle the taper very well.  But who does?  The week ending February 12 totaled 34.25 miles with a tempo run, a couple short runs at GMP (goal marathon pace), and the St. Pete Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon which I ran at GMP.  It was tough to hold back during this race but I knew if I did not, I would ruin my chances at a decent marathon next week.  All this week I ran in the Brooks Ravenna (less stability).

Marathon week!  After two and a half weeks training in the Brooks Ravenna, my IT bands felt better but my left hamstring and TFL were so painful.  So bad that I decided I better run the marathon in my good old Brooks Adrenalines.  Race conditions were not ideal for the Five Points of Life Marathon in Gainesville.  It was super windy, extremely humid, hilly, and a small race so I often found myself alone with no one around to even think about drafting.  I felt very good through halfway and was exactly on my goal pace at 20 miles but that’s when the good feelings blew away with the strong wind gusts.  My pace slowed every mile from 20 to the finish.  I even had to walk in the last mile.  I felt awful trying to ascend the final incline before the left turn to the finish line.  I know I looked as bad as I felt from expressions on the faces of my husband and friends at the finish.  My goal was to finish just under 3:30.  For some reason 3:30 has been a weird barrier for me in my last few marathons so I wanted to break it.  I finished in 3:39:46.  Of course I was disappointed.  I felt like I had trained so hard and so well for this.

5 Points of Life Marathon

After I walked around for a while and came back to see the posted results, my mood immediately changed.  The winning female time was 3:20.  I was the second overall female and won $450!

After a week or so of recovery, I closed out February and started March with 30 miles including an 8 mile speed workout, a hilly trail tempo run, and the Gasparilla 8K where I finished 3rd overall female.  Since the marathon I had been back full time in my Brooks Adrenaline with no IT band pain but still some lingering left hamstring and TFL tightness and soreness that just would not respond to anything.  On March 11 Team RunnerGirl won the female division of the Sarasota Half Marathon Relay.  I ran the first leg which was about 6 miles and included the Ringling Bridge while my relay partner Kali ran the longer second leg.  It was our second relay together this year and this time we took home the gold.  What fun!  We had such a great time at this race with so many of our running friends from Team RunnerGirl – On A Shoestring – Brooks as well as Suncoast Striders and many of our local high school runners.

Team RunnerGirl Wins Sarasota Half Marathon Relay

Team Brooks-RunnerGirl-On A Shoestring

And then somewhere in mid March I decided I was going to do my first ultra…

Ringling Bridge Run 26.2 Miler

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Most people know this race as the Ringling Bridge Run 4 Miler which is the biggest local timed/scored race in our area.  It’s mind boggling year after year to see more and more people who want to race over the Ringling Bridge!  I mean, I love hills and bridges, but people think I’m weird.  ;)

It looks like there were 2,158 finishers in the 4 miler this year.  I have no idea how many participated in the one mile.  But it’s for a great cause and the money stays locally so it generates great community support.

I ran the Space Coast Marathon on November 27, 2011 then took a couple weeks of rest and recovery before deciding to sign up and train for the Five Points of Life Marathon on February 19, 2012.  That didn’t give me a lot of time to recover, start training again, get in all the long runs and workouts I wanted to, and fit in all the other races I had already signed up for in January and February.  So I created the best possible training schedule I could with all the weekend race commitments I had already made weeks and months earlier.

This brings us to the Ringling Bridge Run 4 Miler and the Saturday I’m supposed to do my longest long run of this hybrid marathon training schedule.  So I combine the two and am very happy with the result!

I ran approximately 8.5 miles before the race then raced 4 miles in 27:09 (6:47 pace) which is 12 seconds slower than my PR.  Wished I realized that during the race so I could have gone for a new PR!  After the race I had some Gu and water then set off for my 14 (approx.) mile “cool down” with water and Gu stops throughout.  I averaged 8:55 for the 26.2 miles and went over and back on the Ringling Bridge (biggest “hill” in this area) four times.

This was the second time I had done a 26.2 mile training run.  I decided this was important to do again for this February marathon because I recovered so quickly from the November marathon.  Oh and did I mention the rolling hills I would see in the February marathon?  Luckily I have this hilly 26.2 mile training run under my belt and have been doing weekly hill workouts since last fall.

Gu rediscovered

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a big fuel problem at the Space Coast Marathon.  During the two weeks after the marathon I was a bit bummed and did not care to talk about it much.  When people saw me around town at cross country meets, group runs, and at the running store I cringed when they looked so excited and asked how it went.  I think they were excited because they also knew how well prepared I was.

But I gave my standard short version recap of how it was pretty good through 20 miles then I just fell apart and struggled to finish.  It almost felt like a script after explaining it to so many people.  After Phil and I finished timing and scoring the county championship middle school cross country meet on December 10, we were headed out the gate to the parking lot and got stopped by a good friend who has completed many marathons, half marathons, and has done even more crazy stuff like Ironman and several half Ironman races.

Anyway, when I gave her the scripted recap of the race she then asked, (paraphrasing here) “you didn’t take any Gu?”  When I answered “no” and continued to explain my intake of water and Gatorade, her jaw dropped and she looked shocked and amazed.  I so wish I had a photo of her face at that moment!  We laughed so hard at her reaction.  It was the perfect mix of surprise and disbelief.  As funny as that moment was, it really stuck with me and got me thinking…

I tried Gu way back in the mid to late 1990s when I was running lots of marathons and I thought it was so disgusting.  The consistency was gross and the flavor about made me gag.  But as with so many things…they can and do improve over time.  I asked around about the flavors that my fellow endurance athlete friends preferred.  I even tried eating Sharkies during a long run before I gave in to try Gu again.  Although I love Sharkies – taste, consistency, healthy – everything about them!  It was too much for my stomach to deal with during a run.  I know people who can eat bananas and Clif Bars during training runs and long races; I am just not blessed with that type of iron stomach.  ;)

So, here we are on Sunday, December 18 at our group long run.  I ran a 10K (about 8 miles total with warm up and cool down) the day before so I only planned to run 12 miles.  I took half a packet of Gu with water at six miles.  The run was supposed to be easy and I averaged 9:23 for the 12 miles but my last three miles were 8:47, 8:43, 8:24 and I felt pretty good.  No stomach issues from the Gu and the Vanilla Bean flavor was not bad.  Still not crazy about the consistency but there’s the incentive to get it down quickly!  Tuesday and Thursday that week were pretty hard runs followed by acupuncture and massage for my knee and Achilles on Friday in preparation for Saturday’s 20 miler.

The Christmas Eve 20 miler ended up being an awesome group run at the preserve.  I think we had over 20 people join in.  The 20 miles took 2:54 for an average pace of about 8:44.  I took a full Gu packet at mile 8 and mile 14 with water stops about every 3 miles.  I felt great and knew I could run more if I had to.  I ended the 20 miler with the last 3 miles in 8:34, 8:19, and 8:08.  That never happens!

2011 Christmas Eve 20 Miler

So, yes, I have given Gu a second chance and discovered its many benefits.  I am a fan!  And no longer wondering when my next marathon will be.  Gu has worked so well for me in these two training runs that I signed up for the Five Points of Life Marathon on February 19, 2012.  I will keep using it in training so I know exactly how much to use on race day.  Fueling issues are now under control.

Go long

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

In keeping with the theme of George Sheehan’s “experiment of one,” I have to say that my experiment of going longer than 20 miles in marathon training definitely worked for me.  As I look back on my training for the Space Coast Marathon I see many more long slow runs than I have ever done in any other marathon training before.  I took a longer taper of 3+ weeks, did not do much speed work other than the weekend races, ran a few tempo runs, and did a lot more hill work.  My 26.2 mile training run on November 1, 2011 was a first for me and was a huge factor in preparing me for Space Coast.  I ran it in 3:51 which is about 8:49 pace.

First ever 26.2 mile training run

On race morning I woke up feeling rested and really ready for the Space Coast Marathon.  My goal was to run the first 20 miles at 8:00 per mile pace and then hopefully pick it up a little the last 6.2 miles to achieve my goal of running just under 3:30.  I was amazed at how good I felt as each mile buzzed on my Garmin:  8:04, 7:54, 7:52, 7:48, 7:54, 7:56, 7:46, 7:56, 7:59, 7:55, 7:54, 8:00, 7:48, 7:50, 7:58.  The first half of the course had rolling hills which kept it interesting.  We ran north out and back and when I reached 13 miles near the starting line I was still smiling and feeling good.  I was happy to see the crowds and hear someone call out my name.  Then we headed south on the same course as the half marathoners.

By the time I hit 18 miles my average pace was 7:56.  And that’s when I felt it.  I knew right then that the miles would no longer feel good and be on pace.  Miles 18-20 dropped to 8:10 and 8:20 which took my average pace to exactly 8:00 by mile 20.  At that point it was mind over matter.  I used every mantra, every bribe, every positive thing I could think of to convince my body that it could give a little more…just 6.2 miles, a 10K, no problem!  I focused on one mile at a time.  I then focused on just getting to the next water stop.  I willed myself to close to mile 25 and then had to walk.  My breathing was so labored that I walked for six minutes straight and that labored breathing would not slow down, which had me a little concerned.  After walking and drinking some super concentrated Gatorade I somehow started running again and made it to the finish in 3:43:08 which is 8:31 pace.

2011 Space Coast Marathon

Normally I am extremely sore through Thursday after a Sunday marathon.  I mean I cannot walk normally until at least Thursday and stairs – forget it!  This time I had some soreness Monday and Tuesday but it was not that bad.  By Thursday I was out running again.  This more than anything has me convinced that I was properly trained for this marathon.  Maybe for the first time in my life!  This was the first time I ran several 18-20 milers and one 26.2 mile training run.  This is very exciting!!!

The reason for my “bonk” at Space Coast around mile 18-20 and eventual walking at mile 25 was lack of proper fuel during the race.  At first I was extremely upset and disappointed at missing my goal but after realizing it was not due to training but fuel, I am now determined to figure out how to fix that.  I can’t wait to start some long runs again and experiment with Sharkies, PowerBar Energy Bites, Gatorade, and water to figure out the right mix for me during a marathon.  I’m not sure when that next marathon will be, but I am already excited to do another so I can see what I am capable of doing now.  My marathon PR was set back in 1998 and I have not run close to that 3:18 since then.  Yet, my half marathon PR was set in 2010 so I know I still have some fast races in me!

For my next marathon, I will definitely run more long runs of 26, 28, and who knows, maybe close to 30 miles!  That is definitely what works for me.  And you can bet I will be eating and drinking a lot more than usual during those training runs until I have that down to an exact science for me, in my “experiment of one.”

Fuel up!

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

I have been running and racing since age 11 and through the years I have learned a lot about the right and wrong ways to train for various distances.  Some of this “education” was through trial and error either personally or with the athletes I have coached and a lot of the good stuff has come from coaching education (USA Track & Field Level 2, RRCA, etc.) and learning from the amazing coaches who still contribute to our sport by sharing their research.  I feel like I have done my homework in the training part of running and racing.

Where I struggle is with pre-race and pre-training run nutrition and nutrition during a run or race.  I have tried many pre-race and pre-run foods over the years and something always gave me heartburn, especially during a hard training run or a race…until I discovered Sharkies Organic Energy Sports Chews.  They are amazing!  Not only can I eat a bag then immediately go for a run, they also make a delicious and nutritious snack any time of day.  They’re pretty cool – “USDA Organic, Natural Source of Electrolytes, Real Fruit for Energy & Endurance, Gluten Free, Wheat Free, Vegetarian.”  Sorry to be a bit of a commercial here, but many people have not yet discovered this treasure so I felt the need to get these details out there.

One bag of Sharkies is a serving, which is 45g, Calories 140, Fat Cal. 0, Total Fat 0g, Sodium 110mg, Potassium 30mg, Total Carb. 36g, Dietary Fiber 1g, Sugars 17g, Protein 0g, Iron 2%.  Before a training run or short race, one bag and a lot of water and I’m good to go.  But before a half marathon I eat two bags for 280 calories, which is usually just right to get me to the finish line with only taking water during the race.  So when I returned to racing marathons, I stuck with the two bags of Sharkies pre-race and the same before my long runs of 15-20 miles.  My last two marathons left me wondering why I decided to return to marathon racing.

I am currently training for the Space Coast Marathon on November 27, 2011.  On October 11th I ran 20 miles and on October 18th I ran 21 miles.  During both of those training runs I was starving by mile 12-13 and my knees started to hurt as I approached 17-18 miles.  It was tough to finish those training runs.  I was tired, my legs felt super heavy, and I had no energy once I approached 17-18 miles both times.  So after doing more research about marathon training and reading an article that included the “myth of the 20 miler,” I decided that today I would run longer than 20 miles.  Perhaps not the 29 miles that the article suggested, but definitely something longer.

Knowing I would run longer, I decided to try something other than my beloved Sharkies and eat 5 PowerBar Energy Bites (Oatmeal Raisin flavor, of course) which is 1 bite more than the serving size on the package.  One serving (4 pieces) is 38g, Calories 150, Calories from Fat 25, Total Fat 2.5g, Sodium 110mg, Total Carb. 26g, Dietary Fiber 1g, Sugars 15g, Protein 5g, Calcium 2%, Iron 4%.  These Bites are delicious and actually taste like oatmeal cookies.  “PowerBar Energy Bites are a great choice for use before and during exercise.  They’re made with C2 MAX dual source energy blend for more energy to muscles.  In fact, C2 MAX was designed to have the same blend of energy sources shown in breakthrough studies to deliver 20-55% more energy than glucose alone, and in another study to improve athletes’ cycling times by 8%.”  Those details are on the back of the bag.  In addition to the 5 Energy Bites I had my usual 2 sips of caffeinated drink and about 20 ounces of cold water before I headed to the trail.

When doing a long run on the trails, I repeat a 5 mile route so I only get water and Gatorade at my car every 5 miles.  Today I drank Lemonade Gatorade and water at the first two stops.  When I reached 13 miles, I did not feel those hunger pains like I normally do.  At the 15 mile stop I ate about six Sharkies which is maybe a third or close to half a bag and had the Gatorade and water.  By the time I hit 20 miles and was heading back for my final refueling stop, I was a little hungrier than earlier but still not as bad as I used to be by mile 12-13 in the past.  So I had a couple more Sharkies, a big gulp of Gatorade, and a lot of water since this was my last stop.  I figured I felt so good that I would run 25 miles today, which would be my longest training run ever.  Once I completed 25 I then thought about that article and the 29 miler that was suggested and figured that if I covered 26.2 today, I would be well trained and confident for SpaceCoast.  Plus I thought it would be cool to tell people I ran a marathon this morning!  ;)

The coolest thing about today’s run was that I never felt tired and sluggish, my legs did not feel heavy, my knees did not hurt, and I did not run out of energy like I had on my two long runs in October.  I was so excited!  I ran slower (obviously) than I will when I race my next marathon, but I was on my feet for 20 minutes longer than my last marathon time.  Now I feel ready!

We all know how important marathon training is, but if you’re like me and still figuring out the nutritional side of things, the main thing to remember is to fuel up!  Experiment with some of the amazing products out there.  I’m so glad I did.  As the amazing George Sheehan said, “Each of us is an experiment of one.  Each is an expert in the self, a witness of a personal truth, our own best authority.”

The fine line

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Just under five weeks left until Boston.  Months ago I planned out an amazing training program for myself.  I clipped it to the front of my file folder that sits next to my computer so it would be a daily reminder.  A reminder that training runs are a priority and how everything else I hope or plan to do might influence that training and my goal.

I followed the schedule so well for the first four to five weeks, doing the long runs at the proper pace, doing the tempo runs, and doing the speed workouts on the weeks I did not race.  I was feeling very confident in my training plan and my ability to execute it.

Then the racing calendar really started to fill in.  I realize that I am in control of what races I sign up for but they did seem to creep up on me.  It’s hard to say “no” to the trail races (my true passion) and I also wanted to get some fast times on the roads so I knew where I stood.  Before I knew it I was racing almost every weekend from late January through mid March.  I was feeling pretty strong and almost invincible.

Then on February 13th during a 10 mile trail race my left foot slipped off a root and I twisted my mid and forefoot.  It happened around mile 7 or 8 and REALLY hurt but I guess I had enough adrenaline pulsing through my body that I was able to finish fairly strongly.  After the race I hopped in the car and during the hour drive home, my foot started hurting like I had tied my shoe way too tight.  So I untied the shoe and loosened up the laces yet it still hurt.  When I arrived home, I saw how swollen the foot was.  After a week of resting, icing, elevating, and no running, I tested it out on a ten mile training run on the trails near my house.

With that week off I was concerned about the Gasparilla 8K on February 27th and worried how the missed training was going to affect me at Boston.  I decided to wear my training shoes instead of racing shoes for the Gasparilla 8K and ended up second overall female with a new PR.  I guess that week off was a nice recovery for me!

The following week I was back on track with the Boston Marathon training plan which included a 20 miler, some hills, a 15K trail race, and a tempo run.  Also throw in there standing for hours and hours at track meets and track practice each day.  So my left knee and both lower legs in the tibial tendon/shin area started to hurt a bit.  Now I’m worried again that I’m not going to be able to finish all my training for Boston or even worse, end up injured on the starting line.

After three days of rest I debated whether to run the Sarasota Half Marathon on March 13th.  It was a tough decision but I ended up running.  I think that was why my mile splits for the first nine miles were so erratic.  I was not able to go into the race with a solid plan.  Once I hit mile nine, I put the hammer down, mostly out of frustration of the inconsistent first nine mile splits.  My last four miles were my fastest and most consistent in 6:59, 7:03, 6:54, and 6:51.

This week I am still in recovery mode from that race.  One easy three mile run, a spin class, strength training, a massage, and acupuncture.  Now I feel ready to jump back into the training plan on Friday with a 10 mile run at goal marathon pace.

I have not trained on this fine line in a very long time.  It is exciting and scary at the same time.  My goal now with less than five weeks to go is to stay healthy.  It’s a lot more difficult than it sounds.  I also want to be race ready on April 18th so I can really race at Boston.  Between now and then I have to get in those hard training runs, but I will have to do it carefully by getting enough sleep, eating right, taking a recovery day when I feel that ache or pain, and doing the necessary body maintenance of massage and acupuncture.  Training is definitely a balancing act and my goal is to do it without slipping off that fine line.

With a little luck and some common sense, I’ll be fine.  ;)


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