Monday, September 19, 2016

Marathon Monday: Week 15

Wow, I literally cannot believe that I am already done with Week 15 of my training plan. I am now less than 3 weeks away from my marathon! :-o If you haven't been following along, check out previous week wrap-ups here: Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4,Week 5,Week 6Week 7Week 8Week 9Week 10Week 11, Week 12, Week 13/14.

Monday was a cross training day, but I didn't actively do any cross training. I did make a point to stretch while I was studying, so I guess that counts? I am not sure. :) I guess I can count the fact that I biked to campus? Plus it gave me an interesting story, because I had a very strange thing occur. I went to Chipotle for lunch, and chained my bike up outside. When I got back out, I put my key in the lock, but it wouldn't turn. :-| I looked closely and saw that the lock had actually broken! I had to leave my bike there, take the bus home, and we went back later with a hack saw and cut the lock off. I was so nervous that the police were going to see us and think we were stealing a bike. haha!

Never had this happen before!

Tuesday had 5 miles on the schedule. I had an exam in the morning, so I didn't sleep much on Monday night, and there was no chance I was running before the exam. I was so stressed out that I actually left our back door wide open when I went to campus.

Stressed-out Denise is not very responsible

After I got home, I was definitely ready for a run to get the energy out of my system. There is a nice trail system near our house that I love to run on. I haven't been running on it too much during marathon training because 1) I feel very slow on trails, and 2) it's only easy to get about 2 miles on these trails, so including the run to/from the trailhead, it's not a particularly convenient route for more than 4 miles. However, I ignored the reasons for not running on the trails, and just did it anyway. I'm glad I did, because trail running is quite lovely. You're surrounded by the trees, the ground is soft, I often see wildlife, there is a bog next to the trails--views are usually pretty great. My time was slower than normal for a 5 mile run (11:21 avg. pace), but I enjoyed it a lot, and that was a great feeling. :)

On Wednesday I had to run 8 miles. I hardly ever get up early enough to run longish runs before I go to campus, and this week was no exception. That leaves me running at night, trying to beat the sunset. :) Also, I realized right as I was about to go for my run that I had a video call with my Ragnar team (I will post about this soon!) at 9 pm. I left around 7:40, and knew that it'd be hard for me to get 8 miles in and still make the call on time. Instead, I ran a 7 mile loop that I like near our house. I jumped on the call when I got home, then afterwards, grabbed Nova and ran a mile around the neighborhood. Maybe not the ideal way to get 8 miles in, but I got it done.

Thursday I was scheduled for 5 miles, but I wasn't feeling it at all, so I decided I would instead do it Friday morning. I have been rather strict this training cycle about not moving runs around, but I figured this small change was ok.

Friday morning I woke up and ran my 5 miles. Nothing too exciting about this run to report. I ran a very standard 5 mile route and finished with a 10:37 pace. I did get a treat on Friday afternoon: one of the professors on my committee is from New York and is in love with Black and White cookies from William Greenberg's on Madison Avenue. A few times a year, he actually orders them from Greenberg's in New York and has them shipped here for us to enjoy. Friday was one of those lucky occasions. :)

Very yummy cookie!

Saturday had 5 pace miles on the schedule. Dustin suggested we run to Einstein's for breakfast, and since we almost never run together, I happily agreed. That was 1.5 miles at 9:50 pace. I ate my bagel, and worked for about an hour, then went out for the rest of my miles. Again, I know it's not ideal to split up runs, but that's just what happened. :) I ran the next 3.5 miles at 9:35 pace. One thing I'm really looking forward to after the marathon is running fast again. I know that running too fast elevates your heart rate a lot, and so isn't ideal for increasing aerobic capacity...but it's just so enjoyable! I love running hard, and the feeling of accomplishment afterwards can't be beat. :)

Sunday was my last long run before the marathon. Another 20 miler! I think I mentioned in my last post that I was considering cutting this run a little short. I have read that many coaches believe that running for longer than 3 hours has more drawbacks than benefits; mostly they are concerned that the risk of injury goes up, and the extra benefit from running past 3 hours isn't very dramatic. Being the type A person that I am though, I couldn't ignore the fact that my training plan said 20 miles, so I should run 20 miles. I talked to several runners about it, and it seemed like I should just pay attention to my body during the run and decide at that point: if I felt fine, it can be mentally beneficial to have completed two 20 runs, but if I felt like my body wasn't agreeing with the run, to just stop at 3 hours. 

I went out around 6:40. I originally set my alarm for 5:30 and then proceeded to fall back asleep and dream that I was running. I thought I had finished 3 miles, and I was trying to look at my watch, when I realized, "Dang it, I'm definitely still sleeping." haha. I then actually woke up around 6:15. I ate some oatmeal, drank some water, and off I went. I tried to keep the same mentality as last time, which was to focus on the mile I was in. The run went really great. I kept evaluating how I was feeling, and I felt completely fine. Around mile 17 I definitely started to feel tired, but I decided that I could finish the 20 miles without a problem. I even sped up towards the end because I was still feeling good. 

Nora stared at me with her Frisbee while I stretched on the back porch

Overall, I had a 10:42 pace, which was quite a bit faster than the 10:59 pace of my last 20 miler. I kept my heart rate below 155 for the first 12 miles or so, and then below 160 until mile 15. After that, I didn't worry about it too much, especially once I started speeding up, but ended with an average heart rate of 155 which I was happy with for my overall pace. I am glad I went ahead and did the whole 20 miles, because now I feel much more confident for the marathon. :) Now my longest run until the marathon is 8 miles, what a breeze. :) :) 

Question for all of you: How do you decide your pace for the marathon? Putting my half marathon time of 2:02:40 into running calculators suggests I could run a 4:15:25 (9:44 pace) marathon. This seems insane to me, considering all of my long runs have been between 10:30 and 11 minutes/mile. I know that you run faster in the race, but I'm very scared of going too fast at the beginning and running out of energy before I get to the end. I would be really happy with 10 minutes/mile, which would translate to a 4:22 marathon, but I am not sure how to know if I can actually accomplish that or not! Help!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Marathon Monday: Weeks 13 & 14

I don't know what happened last week, but I never got my weekly wrap-up finished to put online. I was going to do it Saturday, but decided it just made more sense to combine the past two weeks. If you want to read about previous weeks in my training plan, check them out here: Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4,Week 5,Week 6Week 7Week 8Week 9Week 10, Week 11, and Week 12.

Week 13

This was a great week, with my longest run to-date! :)

Monday I went cycling around town. I didn't have too much time, I just wanted to get out and move my legs a little bit after the trail marathon the day before. I ended up only riding for about 25 minutes, and did 6.3 miles.

Tuesday I ran 5 miles after a full day of activities. I went out around 8 and was soon reminded that it is not summer completely dark by the time I finished! I love Fall, but I will miss the long days of sunshine.

Wednesday was 8 miles knocked out in the morning. I'm lucky that as a student, I have a rather flexible schedule, so I left for this run a little before 8 am, and then made it to campus by 10 for a review session. I constantly remind myself how lucky I am that I don't have to wake up at 5 am to run, because I am seriously not functional that early in the morning. :-|

Thursday I did not get up early enough to run before my 9 am class, so I ended up having to wait until after my community band practice from 7-9 pm until I could go. Luckily, campus is pretty well lit, so I am not too worried about running in the dark. Bonus: it was cool with no humidity, so I felt like I was flying.

Feeling happy after finishing up my run in the dark. :)

 I wasn't that much faster, but finished a little over 5 miles at a 10:25 pace, while still keeping my HR in the aerobic zone. I've been closer to a 10:50 pace recently if I try to keep my HR where it should be, so I was happy to get to go a little faster. :) Also, I tried doing my hair a little differently, and I liked it for the run!

Braided pigtails into one single braid at the bottom. 

Friday was a rest day.

Saturday had 5 pace miles on the schedule. I ended up running 4 miles at 9:08 pace, and then a 1 mile cool down at 10:06. I know 9:08 is a little faster than I should be running for marathon pace runs, but I just wanted to see how fast I could run the 4 miles since I've been running so slow lately. I know that running with your HR in the aerobic zone is really great for improvement, but it means I log some rather slow (for me) paces, which I find very boring. It's nice to get to speed it up once in awhile to remind myself that I still can run fast. :) We watched a friend's dog over the weekend, so most of Saturday was spent with 4 eyes watching me.

Our friend's dog, Zea, on the left, and our dog, Nova, on the right

Sunday was the big day. The day I had been waiting for since I started this plan 13 weeks ago. A twenty. mile. run. Wow. I wasn't sure if I could do it. I tried as hard as I could to not think about it too much prior to going out, because I didn't want to psych myself out. I didn't even really plan a route, because I knew it would stress me out to think about exactly where I had to go before I finished.

I planned to wake up around 7, and leave the house by 7:30. However, Dustin's alarm went off at 5 am (what, on a Sunday? Why, you ask? I have no idea...), and I was wide awake. At first I was annoyed, but then I realized it would be great to get an earlier start, so I got out of bed and started making some breakfast. After eating and deciding on an outfit to wear, plus choosing what I wanted to bring with me, I left right at 6 am. It was still dark, so I bought a headlamp, and figured I'd swing back past our house at some point to drop it off.

Running in the dark was awesome. I have run in the dark at night a lot, and while I don't mind it, I usually am a little nervous. For some reason, running in the dark of the morning was totally different. I felt like I was the only one awake in the whole city, and I was so happy to just be running. A great start. :) The sun started to come up around mile 4, and didn't fully come up (i.e. sun beating down on me) until around mile 8. I stopped several times for water, but overall felt pretty great. I stopped at home around mile 12 where I had a water bottle stashed in the mailbox along with half a banana. I happily ate/drank, and left my headlamp which I was getting rather tired of carrying. I still felt good, which was very reassuring.

I kept running, and at some point, I decided to run towards campus, and I knew I would hit 20 miles before I got back home. I texted Dustin and asked if he could come pick me up at 10 am on campus, and he immediately responded that that would be fine. That gave me a solid goal to think about, and meant I didn't have to run back up the hill home. :) My legs started to feel very tired around 18, but other than that, I was still feeling strong. At mile 19, I decided to speed up a little bit to finish up the run. I can't believe it, but I finished that 20 mile run feeling great! What a relief!

So happy (and sweaty) to have finished 20 miles!
I ended up with a 10:57 pace, which I am pretty happy with because all of my splits were rather even, except for miles 8 and 9 which were mysteriously at 10:29 and 10:27. Mostly I was right above or right below 11 minutes/mile the entire time.

Proof! :)
Afterwards, we went to a wedding, and besides feeling a little sick to my stomach at one point, I felt fine! I'm glad that not only did I finish the 20 miles feeling good, but I also wasn't completely wrecked afterwards.

Overall, I'm so happy with Week 13. Finishing that 20 miles was such a relief, and now I finally feel like I might actually be able to run a whole marathon. :) I still have another 20 miler on the schedule (which I may cut slightly, we'll see), but getting this one out of the way was such a huge milestone. I finished with 43 miles for the week--another 40+ mile week which I used to think was impossible! It feels good to see improvements. :)

Week 14

This week was a slight cut back week, most likely to recover from the 20 mile run at the end of week 13.

Monday I had cross training scheduled, but it just did not happen. It was Labor Day, so we had the day off, but we spent the day catching up on things. We cleaned a lot, mowed the lawn, I made some bread, and then my parents came over for dinner. I had a community band concert in the evening, which was a fun event.

Tuesday I went to class in the morning, then had family come into town to get a tour of Purdue. :) They were here from California, so I had offered to show them around. We ended up walking quite a bit, and I think we showed them a good time. :) It got warm again on Tuesday, so I waited until the evening to go for my run. I ran the first mile with Nova, then dropped her off, and did a 4 mile loop from our house to get to 5 miles. 10:59 pace, and I definitely felt my heavy legs from the long run a couple days before.

In other exciting news, I took part in a Reddit Running Gift Exchange, and got the nicest gifts from my 'Secret Santa'. I had mentioned that I was running the Chicago marathon, so he got me running tights that say "Chicago 26.2" and a nice new running tank. I was so happy!

What a thoughtful/nice gift!

Wednesday I ran 5.25 miles at a 10:37 pace. I was surprised to still have slightly sore legs. I guess this is what they mean by cumulative fatigue during marathon training!

Thursday I had 5 miles scheduled. I went to class in the morning, and then went to a career fair to talk to Fitbit afterwards. I have been hoping to get an internship with them, so when I found out they were coming to campus, I was excited to get to talk to them face-to-face. We'll see what happens with that, but I was excited to get some new socks!

Fitbit socks! :)
The entire afternoon was filled with meetings, and then around 6, Dustin asked if I wanted to go to a nice restaurant for dinner. Of course I'm not going to turn that down, so I ended up skipping my run. I guess I can just say that I swapped my rest day this week, so it was Thursday instead of Friday.  :)

Friday morning I set out and ran my 5 miles. Nothing too exciting except humidity was back up (literally 100%), so I felt a little bit like I was swimming. Luckily, it wasn't too warm by the time I went out, so I didn't get the dread heat/humidity combination. When I got home, I popped the rest of the bread dough into the oven, and got a perfect looking loaf!

Yummm! We usually devour the whole loaf the day I make it because it's so good.

Saturday I woke up at 8:30 to the sound of rain. We had lunch and dinner plans, so I knew that I had to run in the morning, or it might not happen. I immediately checked the weather and I saw 'Light Rain' on the forecast for the next 2 hours. :-| I decided to suck it up and just go. I wore a lot of 2Toms (anti-chafing!) and a hat to keep the rain out of my eyes. It rained for the first 6 miles of the run. I actually didn't mind it as much as I thought I would--it kept me cool, and since it wasn't hitting my face, it wasn't actively annoying me. :) It stopped raining for my last 2 miles, and then was so humid that I wished for the rain to start up again! Overall I finished 8 miles at a 10:46 pace.

Sunday was a shorter long run than I have been used to, "only" 12 miles. I have a test on Tuesday, so I spent most the day studying, then went out for my run around 6 pm. I didn't bring any fuel, just to see how 12 miles would go with only water breaks. It went well! I was a little thirsty around mile 10, which probably means I wasn't drinking quite as much water as I should have been, but overall, I felt good. I averaged a 10:46 pace.

Overall this was another good week. I'm now less than a month out from the marathon, and I am super excited (although still slightly terrified!). I ran 35 miles this week, prepping me for the last of the 40+ mileage weeks next week. I think I am going to actually miss marathon training! I like continually breaking new personal records (longest run, most weekly mileage, etc), and the feeling of accomplishment from staying on track with my training. I know there is a lot of value in having time not in training, but I think I do well when on a plan. :)

Do you enjoy being on a training plan, or do you like to just go with the flow?
Do you have any big races coming up?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Marathon Update: Week 12!

Week 12 was a pretty good one! It was a cutback in terms of weekly mileage, but I got to run in several different places, and participated in a fun race. If you want to read about previous weeks in my training plan, check them out here: Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4,Week 5,Week 6Week 7Week 8Week 9Week 10, and Week 11.

Monday I flew out to Charlotte, NC for an academic conference. Because I was travelling, and it was a cross day anyway, I didn't do any specific workout. However, I did walk about a thousand miles (I don't think I'm exaggerating here) through both Indy airport and Dulles, where I had a layover. I didn't arrive to Charlotte until the evening, but the conference was having an opening reception that I rushed off to. It was at the NASCAR Hall of Fame which I wouldn't have thought would be fun, but it was awesome. We got to sit in old cars and do a virtual race with actual feedback on the steering wheel--it was pretty neat! Afterwards I went out for drinks with some other people who were there from Purdue, and we found some neat outdoor seating to enjoy the evening.

Pretty hanging lights on the outdoor patio

I love running when I am in new places, so I set my alarm early on Tuesday and got up to run around Charlotte. It was still dark when I started, so it was  neat to see the entire city illuminated with street lights. Here is the Bank of American Stadium which I ran right past.

Carolina Panthers' Stadium

I ran around the main part of the city, which was only 2.5 miles! I was surprised how small the city was despite feeling like a good-sized city. Because I had to be at a session soon, and running outside was a little slower than I was expecting due to traffic lights, I ran the other 2.5 miles of my run inside on the treadmill.

Wednesday was the day of my talk, so I didn't want to run in the morning. I gave my talk in a session from 10:20-12 (I was the last one, 11:40-12), and it went well! I was wearing my watch, so I recorded my HR during the presentation to see how worked up I got. Pretty interesting. :)

Average: 83 bpm, Maximum: 100 bpm
As soon as my talk ended, I rushed back to the hotel to run 5 miles on the treadmill during our lunch break. I really wanted to run outside, but I knew it would take too long, so I had to settle for a treadmill run. I got it done quickly and headed back to the conference. I flew home that evening, so it was a short trip!

Thursday was a slightly stressful day because school had started on Monday, but I was gone at the conference. I had a class on Thursday morning, and then spent most of the rest of the day catching up on what I had missed during the first three days. I put off my run until the evening, when it was starting to get dark. I took Nova for the 1st mile, then dropped her off and just ran loops around the neighborhood until I hit 5 miles.

Friday and Saturday were both rest days because I had a trail half marathon on Sunday. Saturday I went up to Chicago early in the morning to meet up with my friend who was also doing the half. She had another friend come into town for the event as well, so there were three of us hanging out all day Saturday. We had brunch, went to an art fair, explored the Lincoln Park Zoo, and then finished the evening with a pasta dinner. Great day!

The three of us in front of the pretty Chicago Skyline

Sunday was the day of the trail half marathon. I have been running so much that I wasn't worried about the distance of the race, but I was a little worried about the fact that it was a trail race. My friend Beth had actually driven out to the course the previous weekend, and said that the trails were all wide, made of crushed limestone, and the course was mostly flat. That was reassuring, but I was still slightly nervous. One of my roommate from college and her boyfriend were also doing the race, as well as another one of Beth's friends, so we had a decent group participating. We met up prior to the race and got to chat a little bit before we started.

Our group all ready to go!
This race, The Nearly Sane Half, was extremely laid back, and everyone was so nice. I would definitely recommend any of the races put on by the organization, The Muddy Monk! The race itself included two small loops (in opposite directions), followed by an out-and-back portion, and then ended with the two small loops again. The first two loops were great. Beth and I decided to run together since we knew we run about at the same pace. As we were heading out on the out-and-back portion, we were starting to get a little warm. The humidity was extremely high that morning (95%), which wasn't a big deal when the race started and it was cooler, but as the temperature heated up, the heat/humidity combo was a killer! 

Once we hit the halfway point, we got a bit of a boost; however, when we entered the forested loops again, all I could focus on was the heat and humidity. The last 5k of the race was a struggle to keep going, but it was definitely nice to have a partner to hold me accountable. We slowed down slightly in this portion, but I was still proud of us for continuing on despite the heat. I told myself that this portion of the race was mental training for the marathon--I had to be able to keep going even when I wanted to quit. I ended up finishing the race in 2:13:59.  Certainly not my fastest half marathon ever, but I do think running on trails, even easier ones, is slower than running on pavement. Also, this was probably the hottest conditions I've ever actually tried to race in.

It was my college roommate's first ever half marathon, so we were very proud of her for finishing strong even with non-ideal conditions. Everyone in our group finished the race despite two people having injuries, and we got our post-run group shot.

All finished!
After the race we each got a hot dog and unlimited beer! I think we were all feeling somewhat queasy from pushing it so hard in the heat, but we did manage to drink one beer together before we left. The rest of the day was spent eating lunch, having rooftop drinking, and eating some delicious ice cream before driving back home. Successful weekend!

Overall I think this was a good week. I ended up with 28.25 miles for the week, which definitely looks low to me after seeing 40+ weeks, but I know it's good for my body to get a bit of a break. Training ramps back up this week with a 40+ week and my first 20 mile run. :-o Keep your fingers crossed for me. :)

Have you ever run a trail half/full marathon? 
If so, how did your time compared to a road half/full?

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Marathon Monday: Week 11

Week 11 was a fantastic one! It included my longest run ever and my highest weekly mileage. :) If you want to read about previous weeks in my training plan, check them out here: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4,Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, Week 8, Week 9, and Week 10.

Monday was a cross training day and our last full day in Southern California. I didn't do any specific cross training, but we did walk a lot, and spent some time playing in the water at the beach. We also went on a whale watching boat ride, which was a lot of fun (although I suppose doesn't count as cross training ha).

Dolphins swimming near the boat!

Tuesday had 5 miles on the schedule. We flew out of LAX around 11 am, and got back to Chicago around 7 pm after a layover in Denver. By the time we got to my parents house, it was 9 pm, and we were starving. After we ate, I pulled on my running clothes and grabbed Nova to go for a run around 11 pm. Normally I'd be a little nervous about going for a run that late, but my parents live in a town of about 1000 people, so I'm not too worried about it there. :) I did 4 miles with Nova, and she was dead tired, so I dropped her off before the last mile. I was pretty proud of myself for getting my run in even after travelling for the majority of the day!

On Wednesday I had to run 8 miles. The local running club in our area offers a monthly 5k at the Farmer's Market, and the August one was on Wednesday. I knew this was a high mileage week, so I didn't want to go all out on a 5k, but I figured I'd still go to the race and run with other people. I ran two and a half miles to the start of the race, then ran the 5k in 26:40. I did a cool down of 0.75 miles, and then ran home after hanging out for a few minutes. This turned out to be a great way to finish my 8 miles--they flew right by. :)

Thursday included another 5 miles. My friend invited me to a yoga class, and I thought that would be a good idea while I'm in the heat of marathon training. I planned to run after the class, but as soon as we were done, it had started to rain. I decided to go to the University's co-rec to run my 5 miles on the treadmill. Luckily, the Olympics were on, so the miles flew right by. :) These were the first miles I have done on a treadmill during marathon training!

The co-rec was super crowded because all the students are returning to campus

Friday was a rest day, which I definitely needed! I am going to a conference this week (Monday-Wednesday), so I had to make some changes to my presentation and then meet with my advisor. Always appreciative of rest days!

This week, the run on Saturday was 8 pace miles. I woke up, had part of a banana, and was off. I ran 1.5 miles warm up, then 5 miles at a 9:38 pace. Then I finished up with a cool down of 1.5 miles. It was much cooler than it has been in weeks, which probably explains why this run wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. I stopped for water a couple times, but other than that, was cruising right along.

Sunday was the monster run. 18 miles. I tried not to think about it too much, because I didn't want to psych myself out. I bought some Clif Shot Bloks to eat during the run, and decided to focus on completing hour after hour of the run. I knew it would take me about three hours and twenty minutes, so at each hour I had a few Shot Bloks and water.

The run went surprisingly well, and I felt good throughout the entire run. The Shot Bloks were delicious, and didn't both my stomach at all--very reassuring! I will plan to use them as my fuel during the marathon. I went a little slower than I have been, but I figured that was a good decision if it meant I could make it through the whole 18 miles. I  ended up with an 11:08 pace, and a smile on my face! We went to a family reunion later in the day, and I wasn't even overly tired.

Overall this was a great week! I completed all of my runs without too much trouble, and finished with 44 miles for the week. This is only my second time running more than 40 miles in a week, and although I slept more than usual, I felt great. I'm starting to feel excited to run the marathon in 7 weeks (but still slightly terrified ha)!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Marathon Update: Week 10

Sorry for the delay this week, it's been a busy one! I have now finished Week 10 of my marathon training--I can't believe it. If you haven't been following along, but want to catch up, you can see Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, Week 8, and Week 9. Wow, that is a lot of weeks already completed! :)

As usual, Monday was a cross training day. I usually either bike or swim in addition to playing racquetball, but this week I decided that just playing racquetball would be enough. There are 6-8 graduate students who play once a week, and it's a nice way to be social and active all at once. :)

Tuesday had 4 miles on the schedule. I have a trail half marathon coming up, so I figured I better head over to the trails near my house to get a little bit of practice in. I tried to keep my heart rate low during this run, so my pace was rather slow, but I felt strong and full of energy. I ended up running 4.25 miles and felt like I could have kept going.

Wednesday was an 8 mile run. I was not very excited about this because 8 miles in the middle of the week just seems like a lot! I ran around campus, which was a good choice because it was hot (90 degrees) and that gave me plenty of options for water fountains along the way. Overall, the run went much better than expected. Afterwards, Dustin and I had dinner, and made a very spontaneous decision to take a trip to California...leaving Friday! I have never made plans that quickly before, but we just bought plane tickets and decided we were doing it.

Thursday was mostly spent getting ready for our trip by renting a car, and trying to make a general plan for our trip, but of course I had to fit in my 4 mile run. It was hot and humid, but surprisingly my legs didn't feel too tired from the 8 miles the day before. I suppose this means I am getting stronger! :) Below you can see Nova chewing on a stick while I stretched in the backyard after the run.

I mostly took this picture because my watch and shoes match! :)

We flew out of Ohare on Friday, so I was glad that it was my scheduled rest day. We dropped Nova off with my parents, then headed to the airport rather early. Our flight arrived in LA around noon, and I couldn't be more excited to get into Southern California. :) By the time we got our rental car and the obligatory In-n-Out, it was around 3 pm, and we immediately headed to the beach. We stayed in Costa Mesa which is near both Huntington Beach and Newport Beach.

Saturday I had an 8 mile run scheduled and I was ready to do it along the boardwalk. We drove the 5 minutes to Newport Beach, and started off running north. Dustin ran a little bit with me, but mostly it was just me running to the sound of waves hitting the shore.

When do I get to move here?!

I ran 4.25 miles north, which got me to some of the beaches in Huntington Beach. I was incredibly amazed at this entire area because there were SO many active people. I went running at 7 am and there were hundreds of people cycling, running, rollerblading, surfing, playing beach volleyball, and in general just being out and about on a Saturday morning. Also, and I don't think I'm exaggerating here, every single person I passed said hello or good morning. I thought people in the Midwest were friendly, but these people took it to a whole new level. I loved it! Such a wonderful way to start the day.

Beach volleyball

I ran the 4 miles back to Newport Beach, and met Dustin at the coffee shop that he had been hanging out in. We each got a breakfast burrito, and then swapped halves so that we could try both. They were delicious, and a perfect way to end an already perfect 8 mile run.

Cool breakfast place

Sunday we were in San Diego--we had driven down Saturday afternoon to see friends and family. Dustin has a good friend who moved to San Diego when he finished his PhD over two years ago, and I have a good friend who just moved there to start grad school. Also, my grandpa and uncle live there, so we had lots of people we wanted to see. We saw our friends Saturday, and were planning a family day on Sunday, but first, I had to run 17 miles. Eek! This number still scares me just writing it. I originally planned to run in Balboa Park, but after talking to some people, I realized it might be a little hillier than I had expected (and this Indiana girl is not used to hills), so I changed my plan. I instead decided to run around Mission Bay based on a route I found on MapMyRun.

The plan for the 17 mile run

I thought this would be perfect because it would be flat, cool, and beautiful. I started around 7 am--ready to do this! The first mistake I made was missing that little island shown there which contains about 4 miles of the run. I saw the island, but there was no sidewalk or trail, and there were tons of cars/trucks, so I decided that I didn't really want to subject myself to that. I figured I'd find somewhere to make the miles up. 

The island from my spot along the trail

Around the south part of the route, I kept getting lost and having to stop and check the map on my phone. It wasn't too big of a deal, but it was stressing me out which doesn't help when you are trying to do your longest run ever. I did see some beautiful sights though--here is a picture from the bridge to Mission Beach.

I could have sat here for hours

I went farther south than the original route suggested, to try to make up some of the miles I missed from skipping the island. Dustin was again waiting for me at a coffee shop, with some food and water, so I was ready to get to him. I ended up about at mile 10 when I got to him, and happily devoured part of a chocolate croissant and a whole glass of water. I decided to run north up the coast for more mileage, before I went back around the bay to the original starting point. However, after about a mile and a half, I realized that this part of the coast line wasn't flat anymore, and I wasn't ready for the hills of La Jolla after 11 miles of running. It was gorgeous, but I turned around and head back to the original route.

You can see I'm a bit above the beach. After this, the trail just kept going up and up

Around Mile 12, I started to realize that I was rather warm, thirsty, and feeling the effect of being in the sun for the past 2+ hours. I took off my shirt to try to cool down, which I think helped, but I still stopped at every single water fountain I saw to try to quench my thirst. In retrospect, I probably should have planned a route with at least some shade. 

The beach on the bay

When I got to mile 15, I was ready to be done. I was still running along, but wasn't feeling very good. When I got back to the agreed upon ending point just after mile 16, I decided to run until 3 hours, and then quit. I ended up with 16.36 miles, a little short of 17, but I knew I wasn't doing myself any favors staying out in the sun any longer. 

Actual route that I ended up running

Once I was in the car cooling down (Dustin brought me a smoothie which was the most delicious thing ever), I realized my face and my shoulders were a little pink. Uh oh, probably should have worn sunscreen. :-o Luckily, it wasn't too bad, but a good reminder to always wear sunscreen on your runs. 

Overall, this was a good week, especially considering that two of the runs were during vacation. It was the first time I've ever had more than 40 miles in a week; I ended up with 40.9 miles. Woo, improvement! :) Bring on Week 11!

Do you ever cut your runs short?
Do you like running on vacation?

Monday, August 8, 2016

Marathon Monday: Week 9 and I'm Feeling Fine

I have officially completed Week 9 of my marathon training plan, which means that I am halfway done! What! It's amazing [and terrifying] that I'm halfway to my first marathon.

Monday was a cross training day. I almost always play racquetball on Mondays, but I decided to also bike to the gym to get a little extra cross training in for the day. I biked 8.3 miles in 31 minutes, played racquetball for about 50 minutes, and then biked home [only 1.5 miles].

Tuesday was a 4 mile run. I have been feeling so slow, that I just wanted to go faster. I know the importance of going slow during the majority of your runs, but I figured one quick run wouldn't be the end of the world. I held a 9:45 pace for 4.05 miles, finishing in 39:35. This isn't even THAT much faster than normal, but it felt good to get my HR up and to really feel like I was challenging myself.

Nova staring at me while I was stretching after my run

Wednesday was a 5 mile run. This is significantly shorter than it has been, since this was a cutback week. I went out in the morning and ended up with 5 miles at a 10:14 pace.

Thursday was another 4 miler, and I tried to keep it easy so it could feel like a true recovery run. I ended up with 4.1 miles at 10:47 pace. Thursday evening my friend had a peach party (she had bought 50 lbs of peaches, what!). We made peach muffins, peach pie, and peach margaritas. All delicious. :)

Only some of the peaches we used that night

Friday was a rest day, and I did almost nothing. However, we did drive to my parents' house to watch the Olympics opening ceremonies with them, which was fun. I love the Olympics so much! My favorite events are diving (I was a diver in high school), swimming (I also swam in high school), track & field (specifically the marathon), and gymnastics. I don't even care which event is on though, I will watch it.

Saturday was an 8 mile pace run. I was a little nervous about this since I haven't done a pace run over 5 miles in a really long time. I was going to run out in the country at my parents' house, but I'm not a huge fan of country runs (you typically get a lot of wind), so I waited until we got home. I ended up doing 7 miles at 10:00 pace, and then a cool down mile at 10:47. This run really knocked me out, both my legs and my lungs, but I was happy to get it done. I am trying to run pace runs around 10:00 pace, but I do not think there is any way that I will actually run that pace in the marathon. It just feels so hard even for 7 miles!

Splits for my pace run

Sunday was a long run; I had 13 miles on the schedule. I went to bed really early on Saturday night--around 10 pm, which is about 2 hours earlier than usual for me. I wanted to get up at 6:30 and get going on the long run before it got too hot/sunny outside. Apparently, my body really wanted to sleep, because I turned off my alarm when it went off in the morning and I ended up waking up at 8:30. :-| I considered moving my run to the evening, but I checked the weather and it was still rather cool, so I decided to go asap. I ate a piece of toast with peanut butter and banana, waited about 45 minutes while I drank some water and caught up on Olympics info :), and then I was off. I decided to try eating chocolate as my fuel during my run, and left strawberries in the mailbox to get around mile 7. My legs were dead at the beginning from the run the day before, but they started to feel a little better around mile 4. When I got back to the house and had strawberries and water at mile 7, I was feeling pretty good. I kept it slow until mile 10, and then I let myself speed up a little bit. Overall, I had an average time of 10:47/mile, and felt good to the end, which was great after my rough run last week.

Overall I had 34.3 miles for the week, and felt good. I'm starting to feel like this weekly mileage is normal, which is good because it is just going to keep going up in the upcoming weeks.

Are you a fan of the Olympics? What are your favorite events?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

New GPS Watch: Garmin 235

I can't believe that I've barely mentioned the fact that I got a new GPS watch last week!! I started running in the Spring of 2013, and ran for a year without a watch (just used my phone). I wanted to step it up, so in Spring of 2014, I bought the 310xt, and have been using it since then. It's certainly older technology, which is why it looks like a giant brick on my wrist, but it's a really great watch. It's a triathlon watch, so it is fully waterproof (although it doesn't really track well in the water with GPS...I typically just use the stopwatch). It also has modes for other sports such as cycling, which I use quite a bit.

See that giant computer on my wrist?!

The size of the watch actually didn't bother me that much, although people always commented on it if I happened to wear it anywhere; this only happened if I had to go in somewhere like a gas station or a convenience store after a run. The main issue with the watch was that it had started freezing. It wasn't doing it consistently, but once in awhile the screen would just freeze, and I would have no idea what my distance/time/pace was. This is fine for shorter runs, but now that I'm doing marathon training, I didn't want to be 5 miles into a 16 mile run and have my watch freeze on me. Also, the watch was sometimes having issues communicating with the computer. Usually it worked perfectly, but once in awhile it refused to sync. None of these are huge issues, and I admit, they all first world problems to say the least, but I figured I'd keep my eye out for a good deal while continuing to use the watch I had.

I spent a lot of time on DC Rainmaker's site reading about watches. If you do not already know about this site, it is the most complete resource about fitness technology. He reviews GPS watches, bike computers, cycling meters, etc, and does the most thorough reviews that I've ever seen. Plus, now that he's been doing it for awhile, he has lots of comparison tools that are very useful for deciding which watch is best for you.

I decided that I wanted the Garmin Forerunner 235. I like the built-in HR monitor, which the 225 also has, although the 235 does continuous HR monitoring while the 225 does not. I also liked that you were given more information about your running such as cadence. The 235 (and 225) act as fitness trackers, so they count steps and monitor your sleep. The 235 also has smart notifications, but that wasn't something that I cared about too much. Overall, I thought the 225 and the 235 were both good options, but I was strongly leaning towards the 235. I watched for it to go on sale for about a month, but that number on Amazon never budged.

Description and price on Amazon. I was guilty of checking on this daily to see if the price had dropped.

On Prime Day, the 225 went on sale for $175 (normally $250), so I went ahead and bought it. I thought maybe I could learn to love it (and if not, Amazon is the best for free returns). I got it the next day, and just wasn't that excited about it. It was red and black (the only colors it comes in), and I'm not a huge fan of that color scheme. It was also very bulky. I didn't even wear it the first day I got it, which should have been a sign that it wasn't the right purchase for me.

The next day, I saw the 235 for $250 (normally $329). I took this as a sign and immediately purchased it and returned the 225. I bought it from a company in the UK, so it took a little over a week to get here, but the whole time I was extremely excited. It's definitely a lot to spend for a GPS watch, but I knew that if I would wear it everyday as a fitness tracker, in addition to using it for runs, it would provide a good value to me.

I have only had it since last Monday, but so far, I absolutely love it. The face is almost the same diameter as the 225, but the watch feels much lighter and less bulky. I barely even notice it as I wear it throughout the day, and I love being able to see my HR whenever I want.

The left and top-right pictures don't have the backlight on. The screen is very easy to see in all conditions with the light on

For running, the GPS is ready almost instantly, and the tracking has been perfect (although, I haven't done any runs in tricky areas like heavy tree coverage or near tall buildings). I have been using the HR more than I ever used the strap I had with my 310xt. You can set the screen to see 4 different fields at once, which I like, and the screen is very easy to read. The only downfall so far is that the battery life isn't great...depending on how much I run, I have to charge it every 3-4 days. This isn't a big deal, I was just used to my Garmin Vivofit which only had to have a battery change about once a year! I have used it for cycling and several runs, but I feel like I need to spend a little more time with it before I give it a full review. So far, the status is that I love it and I am very excited that I decided to buy it!