Six Days Out

I’ve started stalking the weather forecast, over analyzing every twinge and ache, and every sneeze. Yep, with less than a week to go I’m in full-blown taper mode, panic and all. This week I’m trying to focus on how strong my training has been rather than how I felt heavy and slow on the 10 mile run I did on Saturday morning.

Over the past sixteen weeks I’ve run nearly 600 miles. I run before the sun came up and late into the night. I hit intervals and tempo ran my heart out. When I look back at my training I know that I’m ready. I put in the hard work. I ran the distance and ran it strong. The only things in my way are my nerves and this cold that’s trying to creep in.

Starting today I’m taking it easy. I have only two more runs to do before race day, a 30 min and 20 min. Easy. I’m going to have a hard time limiting myself to these short runs. It’s been ages since I’ve run such short runs. I’m thinking about swimming at some point this week just to do a little low impact cross-training to keep everything loose.

I’m also hydrating, which I find a lot more difficult when I’m not sitting at a desk all day. I bought some Gatorade a few weeks back and it did my stomach no favors. I’m sticking to water with some Nuuns thrown in for fun.

Now I’m thinking and overthinking my race strategy. Top of mind:

1. Do I want to wear my fuel belt or not? I trained with it only when necessary because we had water at various spots on our trails. I hate wearing it but I hate being slowed down at water stops. Plus it’s nice to fuel when I want.

2. Pacing. Now most of my long runs were between 8:40-9:00 min/mile average pace. That was conversation pace but excluding water and bathroom breaks. This leads me to question what I can run not talking, but without breaks. Hopefully I will not need the porta-potties and I definitely will not be chatting. I have two pacer options in my corral 3:45 and 4:00.

I learned running Nike that running with the pacers isn’t always the best thing. I added almost a mile to my distance and wore myself out trying to keep up with the pacer in San Francisco. It was not worth it. I think that I’ll line up in between the two, trying to keep the 3:45 pacer in my sight line, but not worry about running with them.

3. Goals. I have a few goals for this race. First, finishing strong and healthy. Second, finish under 4:11 which is my current PR. Third and the one giving me anxiety thanks to pressure I’m putting on myself, finish sub-4. A 3:55 marathon would be an 8:57 average pace. If I look back at my training it’s doable, but then the above mentioned concerns come in.

Now I just need to make a new playlist to have just in case I feel like I need a little pick me up during the race. I’d love some suggestions.

Esprit de She 10k – Race Recap

It’s been ages since I last ran a 10k race. In fact it’s been 10 months, almost exactly. A few months ago I registered for the Esprit de She which was being held on Main Street here in Maple Grove. Being so close to home, I had no excuse to not run it. A Thursday night isn’t a typical race time, but it fit in well with the 6 mile tempo I had on my training schedule for the week.

Being right in town we had a big group of mother runners participating. We all met up at the amphitheater in the Town Green for a quick picture. It was so fun seeing such a big group!

MRTT Esprit de She

After our picture it was time to hit our corrals. I spotted Morgan and Jen by the 8 minute/mile pace flag and jumped in with them. Our first mile was 7:25…oops. I actually felt really good for the first 2.5 miles. Jen and I were chatting a bit but I was started to work harder and harder. The course was two loops of the 5k course which kind of sucked. I finished my first 5k and past the finish line at 23:56 (7:43 min/mile) – a new 5k PR!

At that point I told Jen I was going to slow down even further so she could continue on. I swear these 5 and 10k distances kill me. Probably because I go out too fast or I push so much harder because I’m trying to run faster. By mile 4.5 I had slowed to an 8:18 pace. Around mile five I thought my stomach was going to revolt. I started looking for somewhere to run if I had an emergency. I walked briefly as I tried to determine if I was going to make it to the finish line or have to find a bush.

Luckily my stomach settled a bit and I started running again. Josh and the kids were just before the finish line cheering for me which was awesome! I sprinted through the finish line to a new 10k PR – 50:08 (8:04 mine/mile). Yep, I successfully got slower with each mile. I added nearly three minutes to my second 5k. I was 36th of 506 overall and 9th in my age group of 115.

I found Josh and the kiddos as I walked towards the food. I ran into a woman from my mom’s group and some of my fellow mother runners. Josh took the kids home while I enjoyed a post-race turkey burger, chips and champagne with a few of the girls. It was a fun night and an event I’d do again.

I’m strongly considering training for a 5 or 10k after the marathon. I’ve never really done so and I think I would make big strides if I really worked to improve my pacing.

Taper Is Here

I’m officially in taper mode. Last weekend I did my longest training run – 22 miles! For the first time, I also got to run it on part of the marathon course before race day. Lifetime Fitness has an annual run on the last 10 miles of the Twin Cities course – The Capital Run. When one of my fellow mother runners told me about it a few months ago, I was all over it!

Bright and early Saturday morning, I met Amy to carpool over to St. Paul. We arrived with time to enjoy our view on the capital building.

capital building

With the lines for check-in and the porta potties growing they waited a few extra minutes to start releasing waves of runners for the 10 mile and 20 mile courses.

Jess and Amy CR

Just after 7 am we were off. The first few miles we hit several stop lights which was annoying but Amy and I chatted with a nice guy who was trying to run a marathon in all 50 states this year. We lost him at a water stop, but enjoyed hearing about his aspirations.

One of the biggest concerns I’ve had about this race is the long hill (3 miles long) that starts about mile 20.

F_2014_MarathonCourseMap_ElevationThe trail we run on for our long training runs has lots of smaller rolling hills, so I’ve gotten in some practice, but a three mile long hill? Eek.

As we ran down it, I thought to myself, this isn’t so bad. It’s not too steep and seems much shorter. The view of beautiful houses didn’t hurt. We ran past the 10 mile turnaround until we hit 10.5 miles. It was shaping up to be a beautiful day. The temps were in the high 40s, low 50s by that point and we were both feeling great. It really was an ideal dress rehearsal for the race. Now I know that if we have similar temps, I’ll likely wear a tank top and capris. We stopped for waters and gels before gearing up to run back up the hill.

I was amazed that when we got to the base of the hill, it didn’t look all that big. Not as big as the course map would have you believe. We powered up, slowing down slightly to a 9:10 pace. Yes, I said slowing down to that pace. When we got to the top, we saw a tent with Swedish Fish and Gummy Bears. We were so hungry our stomachs were growling. We grabbed a handful of candy before we realized it was a running club’s tent and not part of our Lifetime Run. Oops. They were nice and we thanked them profusely before continuing on.

When we made the final turn and saw the capital building in front of us, we had some extra pep in our steps. We were both hungry, but overall feeling really good. We hit 21 miles just as we made it to the tented area with food. Amy went to hit the bathroom and grab us snacks while I finished one more mile.

Our average running pace for the run was 8:48 min/miles. That is purely time spent running. Add in there a few stops for water where we bumped into other members of our running group, you could probably add 10 minutes to that. I’d say we have both sped up this training cycle considering we never stopped talking during the run.

After to stretching and talking to a few other runners, we snapped a pictures, not the most flattering picture of me, not sure what my weird stance was.

After CR

On the car ride home we enjoyed the ice cold Cokes Amy brought, the Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins I brought and the chips from the event. They were delicious!

This was such a confidence booster. Over the next couple weeks I’m going to really think about my race strategy. Do I want to utilize pacers? Wear my own water or depend on the water stops? Maybe if I focus on those things I won’t drive myself crazy thinking I’m feeling marathon ruining mystery injuries.

 

Making Moves

The wait has finally ended, as have our days in a small apartment with none of our own stuff. Over Labor Day weekend we moved into our new house! Of course our camera is currently holding the good pictures hostage.

new house

After closing on the Thursday night prior to the holiday weekend, we drove up with our first load of clothes and such from the apartment. Josh continued our tradition of carrying me over the threshold of our new house. We cleared out our cars and walked the kids around the house again as it had been nearly two months since we were in it last.

New house living room

Ella and I picked up a pizza and we had a little picnic in our new kitchen.

Kitchen picnic

Josh’s parents were nice enough to come up for the weekend to help us get somewhat settled which was really nice. They were even on board with having a ridiculous amount of Mexican food after my 20 miler. Even though I never wanted a hot tub, I really enjoyed the one in our backyard that night.

hot tubbing

Ella really enjoyed playing with her grandparents. She was so sad when it was time to say goodbye.

We have a lot of furniture to buy so we have some empty rooms and incomplete rooms like Ella’s which desperately needs a new dresser. We’ll get there.

Our neighbors have been very welcoming. We even had one bring over muffins. I thought that only happened in movies. It was so sweet. There seem to be lots of kids in the neighborhood and just a 10 minute walk from our house is a great park and a swimming beach which we will be able to utilize more next summer.

Weaver Lake

I’m so excited to be settling in. The return to some normalcy will be great. I may even have a chance to get back to blogging. Imagine that.

 

Twin Cities Training Part II: Cross-training

I am a runner. I love to run. I generally only run. On my non-run days I’m guilty of being lazy. Just like I have been with blogging lately. I have some many updates from Anderson at a year to moving again, etc. Anyway, back to my exercise laziness. I’ve always start my training plans with the best intentions. I tell myself that I will do some weights, swim or bike. Do something on my off days to keep my body in motion and help use my muscles in a new way. Most of the time this falls by the wayside quickly. I know I need to do it and all the benefits, but life happens.

Since joining a gym here, I’ve been determined to actually cross-train. The gym offered Spinning, HIIT and yoga classes. They were oddly scheduled but with free childcare, I had no excuse to try to get to something before the kids naps. Lately I’ve been taking at least one spin class a week and doing the HIIT class once a week. So far Spinning is my favorite. It gets my heart pumping and offers low impact, really no impact, training. When I’m really looking to wear myself out, I take the class after my long run.

The high intensity interval training is fun too, but I feel like there is little focus on making sure form is correct. Because we bounce from movement to movement so fast, I’ve found myself spending more time trying to see what the next move is when we’ve just started one, than looking at what I’m doing. A few weeks ago this resulting in a sore knee, which is a huge problem for my training. Luckily it was fine by the time I tackled 20 miles last weekend. Now that I have my kettlebells, free weights and Jillian Michaels DVDs back, i think I’ll skipping the HIIT class.

I think cross-training has been really beneficial this training cycle. I’m healthy and feel strong. Though I haven’t done as many intervals as my plan prescribes, I feel like I’m maintaining speed. I find myself having to actively monitor my pace during long runs to make sure I’m not running too fast. The last several miles of my 20 miler last weekend, we all between 8:30-8:50 pace. Some of that I attribute to extra conditioning.

My routine is off ever so slightly right now because we’ve moved to our new house and the gym in now 25 minutes away. Our membership is valid through September, so I’m going to keep trekking down to Minnetonka before we join a gym near home. The marathon is a month from tomorrow! I cannot believe it. I have only two more longer runs (16 and 22 miles) until it’s taper time. I’m getting so excited!