Friday, July 31, 2015

Racing Reflections

As I sign up for my next race, I've been had the change to reflect on the Chicagoland Spring Marathon: what went well, what I might alter, and what totally bombed.

Let's start with the good.

My training was spot on as far as number of runs and hitting my mileage for the week.  I missed a handle of workouts due to fatigue or not feeling well.  The majority of the time I at least attempted the run and often was able to complete my workout.  I definitely put in the work and my legs were marathon ready.

My nutrition was also very good while training.  I stuck with my staples of a green smoothie in the morning and a large salad for lunch.  Dinner always fluctuated, but my cooking usually revolves around a lean protein (fish, chicken, steak occasionally), a carb, and lots of veggies.  More vegetables than you think it possible for a human being to eat.  Once a week we ate salad dinner as well.

What I would do differently with my food involves the weekend and sweets.  Weekends we eat out once or twice usually with a glass of beer or two.  I also eat less frequently on the weekends, though bigger meals.  My smoothies are exchanged for something heavy on the carbs.  There tends to be overall less fruit, whole foods.  I also LOVE to bake.  I keep premade, pre-scooped cookie dough in freezer bags so it can be baked as wanted.  We all know processed sugar doesn't help our athletic goals and my goal for my next race is to decrease it to two or three times a week.

Here is what went wrong.  Really, really wrong.

I went out with too fast of a pace.  And I knew it.  The whole time.  I was too excited about running 8:00 miles and hitting all my splits.  When I do a training run, the first 1-2 miles are the warm-up and I usually start off with an 8:45-8:30 pace.  After mile 2 my legs start churning and I find that 8:00 mile easily.  The pacer I was following for the first few miles was hitting 7:45, 7:30 miles, nothing was near the pace I needed to hit and it was too fast too early for me.

While I hit my mileage during my training, I ran too many of these miles too fast.  With a race pace goal of 8:00 miles, I was hitting an 8:30 at my slowest for an easy run.  I was not letting my body recover enough in between race pace efforts and speed work.  Coming from a soccer and lacrosse background, when we ran during practice I would run as fast as I could to get it over with.  I'm still running with that mentality during my marathon training and it is the wrong way to go.  My goal for my next training cycle is more easy runs at 8:45-9:00 pace and race pace efforts no more than once a week.

Totally wrong.  But seriously hilarious.  Please DNF before you die.

Other changes I would make?

Besides the nutrition and better pacing, I would like to run more miles on the surfaces the race covers.  I ran a lot of crushed limestone trails when the marathon was completely on asphalt and my legs felt it.

I am going to strength train more consistently.  I usually lift weights 2-3 times a week, but when the mileage increased, strength training was exchanged for couch time.  I notice improve posture, running efficiency and endurance when I am incorporating more lifting into my routine and it is something that is too beneficial to ignore.

I also am going to make time for more yoga.  Yoga makes my back happy and keeps my hips loose while I can't achieve with only stretching after a run.

What have you learned from a bad run or race?

How many easy runs do you run a week?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

My Inaugural Track Tuesday (soccer boys optional)

Welcome to my first every (and hopefully not only) Track Tuesday!
I made a fancy sign and everything. It better not be the last.

My last training cycle incorporated speed work into my daily runs.  I'm trying to change that routine and actually get out to run on the track.  Nothing beats knowing exactly where to stop and end without checking your Garmin.

Nothing like a black track in the middle of summer.  Holy heat!

I am definitely no track expert, so I put together some random intervals that looked good and off I went!

Pureflows and spandex shorts to make me feel faster.

I jogged to the track as part of my warm-up and then walked/jogged home as my cool down.

Here are my splits:

2 x 1200 (4:56, 5:03)
2 x 800 (3:10, 3:24)
2 x 400 (1:26, 1:34)
Average HR: 167 BPM

I ended up with 9 miles total between warm-up, track workout, and cool down.

Unfortunately I choose to do my track workout as soon as men's soccer practice was starting at the local high school.  They were at the age where they hadn't learned to discretely check someone out.  It was more blatant stares.  I guess it's a learned skill.

I stretched once I was done (you're welcome soccer boys) and headed home.  Next time I'm driving to the track.  My legs were spent.

The rest of my day involves going to the dog park, catching up on sleep (I slept horribly last night!), and eating.  Track sessions work up an appetite!

I also have to deal with this. Princess Butt and the Pea.

Peyton is living the dream.

Do you run at the track?

Give me a new track workout to try!

Do your animals love blankets and pillows as much as Peyton does?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Motivation Monday and Weekly Mileage Mash-Up

I am officially running the Fox Valley Half Marathon on September 20.  I have had my eye on the race for a few years and I'm excited to actually be running it! The course is set along the Fox River starting in St. Charles, IL. I have 8 weeks to train and to get fast!

This week I felt back to normal with my running and exercise routine.  I found balance this week between work, running, weights, and cross training.

8 mile walk while listening to Rich Roll interview Fully Raw Kristina.  What I took away from this podcast included increasing the amount of whole, raw food in my diet and to eat locally to increase nutrition in produce. I took a 45 minute spin class in the early evening.  I ended up biking about 19 miles and it was a tough session! Following spin I did my regular back routine with lat pull-downs, rows, pull-ups, and cable tricep presses.

I ended up only being scheduled for a half day at work (yay for a surprise half day!!) and I was home by 1:30.  I left for my run around 3:00 and it was HOT! My goal was to run at least for an hour and to take my time due to the heat.  I ended up feeling pretty good and did my favorite 10 mile loop.

10 miles

I worked my biceps, triceps, and shoulders at home while watching Orange is the New Black.  I subbed for Chris's softball team Wednesday night and it was an epically long 12 inning game. It's even longer when you only are supposed to play 7 innings.


I'm working on making my easy runs truly easy.  It's a lot harder than it seems.  I'm currently reading a new training book, 80/20 Running, about running the majority of training runs and very few are speed work are race pace runs.

6 miles

I took another long walk today while listening to Rich Roll's podcast.  I ended up walking 6 miles despite it being very hot very early in the morning.

I ran my long run without a Garmin telling me each mile split.  I ran 14 miles in about 2 hours.

Miles Running: 30
Miles Walking: 14
Strength Training: 2!

Monday's motivation is the power of positive thinking.  I truly believe what the mind believes the body will follow. 

Happy Monday!

What was your longest run this week?

Do you listen to podcasts? Which ones?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sunday Runday

Sunday's are my favorite days for long runs.  Saturday I'm still decompressing from the week, but Sunday I feel rested and ready to go.

Sundays we don't follow a schedule and spend our time how we want to spend it. Mostly on the couch, watching movies, reading, and making a fancy Sunday night dinner.

Even the dogs are lazy. Sorry Chris, that was too hilarious to not post.

Today I was actually able to sleep in. It was a miracle. I didn't get out of bed until 8:15 and then immediately sat down to enjoy 1, 2, 3 cups of coffee. 3 cups in a giant cup that holds at least 2 cups.  So 6.  6 cups of coffee.

  2.5 hours later, I was ready to start my long run.  11 am is always a good time to run, right?

This was my first long run I've enjoyed in weeks.

It was without my Garmin (I hadn't charged it) and sans music, though I did listen to my new favorite podcast: Rich Roll.  He interviews some of the greatest endurance athletes.  Nothing is more motivating than listening to an ultra runner talk about how they started at nothing and just started running.

I ran on my favorite limestone trails and knew exactly where my turnaround point would be for a 14 mile run.  The run took me about 2 hours to complete (based on the time of the podcast), and the second half was faster than the first (again, based off the podcast).  This was also my longest run since the Chicagoland Spring Marathon.

I refueled with my favorite green smoothie: (extra) spinach, greek yogurt, almond milk, strawberries, banana, chia seeds, hemp seeds, coconut oil, and peanut butter.  No matter how tired I am after a run, a green smoothie always makes it better.

Looking to this coming week, I have spin on Monday, a track workout planned for Tuesday, and a training run on my September race course Saturday.

How was your weekend?

How much coffee to do you drink?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Thursday Rambles

I am hyped up ever since the Christmas in July 10k.  I am so glad I was able to adjust my speed to the heat and still remain competitive.  Now I want to incorporate more and more speed work.  Getting fast is fun!

I finished The Silent Wife.  I loved it.  Read it.

Fruit has been my go to lately for snacks. Last grocery store trip included 2 pounds of peaches, 4 pounds of cherries, 6 pounds of bananas (I freeze half for smoothies), and a watermelon. I'd say we're set for a while.

There's barely room in my fridge for it all.

This has actually been a great week.  The Chicago area has had awful humidity and loads of rain, so it's nice to see the weather get itself together for a bit.

The pups have been loving the great weather and our dog park visits lately. 

They still do EVERYTHING together.

I went for a long(er) run Tuesday after work.  I must have been very thirsty afterwards.

Farmer's market peaches > store peaches.

How is your Thursday?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Christmas in July 10K Race Recap

The Christmas in July Race Series is set in Lisle, IL.  It was a weekend event with the 6 hour, 12 hour, and 24 hour race starting the evening of Friday July 17. The 5k race was also run on Friday night.  The 10k race was run on Saturday July 18 at 7:30 pm while the 24 hour racers had 2.5 hours left.

Packet pick-up was at Dick's in Lisle and I picked my packet up Thursday day.  They also offered race day pick-up.  I noticed there were no lines for packet pick-up the day of the race and I will save the drive next year and get my packet race day.  The goodie bag included a long sleeve technical shirt, a winter hat, and local race advertisements.

The weather forecast for the race was 90 degrees and humid.  It rained Saturday afternoon causing a slight temperature drop, but it was still warm.  I think the weather scared most registered runners off as it was a small field of people at the starting line.  I was very surprised to see so few people show.  In the Chicago area, July is usually very hot.  That is what you signed up for and you should adjust accordingly.

The 10k course was the 5k loop run twice.  The course took you through the Lisle Community Park which was surprisingly large.  It was an asphalt path that twisted through wooded areas and the various sport fields at the park.  There was also a short section run on the street.  The event was very well staffed and there were many police officers blocking off streets to traffic.

Due to the heat, I decided to try to get a nice lead on the pack during the first loop and maintain the lead during second loop.  My first three miles splits: 7:12, 7:17, 7:36.  There was an open circle at one point that allowed me to see who was behind me. I could only see one guy in my sight and decided to slow my pace to allow me to finish strong and to keep my lead.

The second 5k felt faster knowing what was already ahead.  My mile splits: 7:48, 7:56, 8:19, 7:41 (last .23)

Coming down the finishing shoot I had a huge smile on my face and I was happy to see my family!  I had just won overall female!

My official finishing time was 47:53.

Awards were originally supposed to be at 8:30 after the first finishers came through.  Because of the small field, they waited until about 9 to start the awards.  There were some major issues with their timing chips and after 3 attempts (and 30+ minutes later) they were able to start announcing overall and age group winners.

The awards were amazing.  They did a great job finding unique and different nutcrackers.  One of the them was an astronaut!  I was very pleased to get a glittery nutcracker myself.  I believe the overall male and female winners also get free entry into next year's race, but I didn't confirm it with the race director.

Overall this was a fun, local race to run.  I loved that it was close to home and the course was very well marked.  Even though I lost track of the runners ahead of me, there were plenty of signs to direct me where to go.  It was overall very well organized besides the chip timing issue.  The Christmas theme was fun and they did a great job along the course sticking with the theme with different Christmas inflatables and lights.

I was happy with my time and my first place finish despite slowing down my planned pace due to the heat.  My original goal pace had been 7:15/mile.  This is a local race that I would love to participate in again!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Weekly Mileage Round-up

My mileage definitely dropped this week from last week.

My body was still feeling the effects of the wall painting and epic house cleaning so I rested today. 

I ran after work today and was not feeling the run.  I had orginally wanted to run 6-8 miles, but quickly into the run I shortened the distance.  I ran this run without music and did not focus on my Garmin. I tried to keep the pace at an easy run pace since my legs felt heavy.

4 miles

Post run I lifted weights and focused on biceps, triceps, and shoulders.

Wednesday was a little cooler and I was able to take Peyton for a run after work.  This run was a little slower than our usual pace. Peyton must have been planning on an "easy" (for her) run.

3 miles

Rest day!

I was super busy Friday so my workout was short and sweet. I took my mom to the doctor in the morning, and after a 5:30 am wake-up call I was pooped.  I ended up going for a 2 mile walk and made it home just before it started to pour.

My race was scheduled for 7:30 pm, so I had to do some planning regarding food and activity during the day. I went for a walk early on in the day and listened to Rich Roll's podcast.  He interviews different people across nutrition and endurance sports. He advocates for a plant-based diet and it is very interesting to me how many ultra runners and endurance athletes also adhere to this type of lifestyle.

The time came for the race and I warmed up and stretched prior to the run.  My race recap will be put up soon!

6.23 miles

I went for a shake-out run later than I had intended so it was already very hot. This forced me to really slow down and to run at an easy run pace.

5 miles

Total mileage: 16 plus walks
Strength workouts: 1 

Not the best week but my body was needing a break.  This week my goal is to get back into spin twice this week, strength training at least two times, and then a long run this weekend.

How was your weekend?

What are your goals this week?

What fruit have you been eating a lot of lately? (I'm going grocery shopping and looking for different fruits to snack on)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Christmas in July 10K Quick Update

I won!

My first ever ran that I actually won.  I am stoked!

That is the best trophy ever. A glittery nutcracker.  I plan to leave it out on display year round.

A full recap to come up in the next couple of days.

For now, I will refer to myself as "First Place Meghan."

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

5 Tips for Running in the Afternoon

I am a PM runner.

I find it easier to head out the door after getting home from work than trying to run before.  Waking up for work is hard enough for me without trying to get up even earlier to hit the pavement. 

Running the in afternoon may actually be the ideal time of day for our bodies.  Our body's core temperature and lung function peak in the middle of the day. 

Running in the afternoon, however, presents its own challenges such as after work fatigue, higher temperatures, and a laundry list of to-do items. Here are five tips that can help you beat the afternoon slump and decreased motivation.

1. Have your clothes ready for when you get home.  I have a million things I need to do when I get home, and if I'm pulling out my running clothes and gear, I can easily get distracted and before I know it run out of running time. 

2. Head out as soon as you get home.  When I get home from work I quickly walk the dogs and then immediately head out the door.  If I sit down for even a short moment, I have a hard time getting back up.  Stay motivated for your afternoon run by writing down your run in your calendar, tell a friend your running plans or read some of your favorite blogs on your lunch break!

3.  Hydrate throughout your day.

4. Eat lunch about 2-3 hours before you plan to go out.  Make lunch your main meal with proteins and whole grains to fuel yourself for your run.

5. Give your body at least 10 minutes to warmup to the run.  Try to plan a run you enjoy after work, such as your favorite route or by interesting scenery.  Don't plan your hardest speed workout right after a hard day of work.  Adjust your running schedule to boost your motivation for heading out the door as soon as you get home.

Do you prefer to run morning, afternoon, or night?

What is the longest you have run after work?
--I've managed 12 miles once.  10 is my happy maximum.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

(A Very Late) Weekly Mileage Round-Up

This post is a few days late due to master bedroom painting, going to a Cubs game, and being just plain lazy, so here it is. Last week's weekly mileage. On a Tuesday.

Mondays are my day off so I try to get a longer run in.  I managed that AND at a great pace too! This definitely sent me off feeling good about the week!

10 miles

Monday evening I went to a 45 minute spin class and then did lat pull-downs, rows, and tricep presses at the gym. I had way to much energy today.

The weather was much cooler last week (I'm talking high 60s) so I finally was able to take Peyton with me for a run.  She obviously has not lost any fitness in the time she took off from running.

3 miles

Chris and I played tennis for a good hour before dinner.

Wednesday I took as my rest day. Working two days in a row is hard. (I'm just being a jerk. Come August 17 my butt will be kicked when I try to get back to 5 days a week.)

I ran my easy run Thursday. I wore my HRM and aimed to keep my bpm around 150.

5 miles
158 bpm average

Is it weird that I don't remember this run?  Apparently I ran 10 miles? My body must have blacked out Friday.

10 miles

I spent the rest of the day cleaning the master bedroom and putting painter's tape down so that I could paint on Saturday.  I met Chris at the gym after he got off work and I did more strength training. This time I focused on chest, back, and legs, cycling through all three to rest each body part. 

I hadn't done leg strengthening in who knows who long and I was sore from Friday's workout. I wanted to run to shake out my legs, but once I got going I felt much better.  A shake-out run turned into a tempo run to prepare me for this Saturday's 10K!

7 miles (1 mile easy, 5 miles tempo, 1 mile easy)

I averaged 7:10/mile on my tempo and I feel ready to run fast!  After my run I quickly showered, Chris and I picked up a few things at the farmer's market and then I started painting.  3 hours later it was a huge difference!

Now we are researching painter's to do the main level of our house for us. We have high ceilings that will require scaffolding and we also have to paint around the kitchen cabinets. I want nothing to do with that and I'd rather pay to have it done nicely.

Sunday was another rest day and I cleaned up any paint bleeds underneath the painter's tape.  We went to the Cubs/Sox Crosstown Classic at Wrigley Field.  

It couldn't have been a better day for a baseball game! 

We headed to Atlas Brewing Company after the game for dinner and saw this on the way:


We were all exhausted after the long, busy weekend and crashed on the couch.

Puppy cuddles FTW.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Motivation Monday: 7/13

I know I could definitely use an extra push for my runs.  I have so many summer projects I'm trying to finish up that I need to remember to take a moment to get outdoors and to breathe.  Running is my way to relax so that I can keep doing what I need to do and to complete my to-do list for the day.




And some trail envy motivation....


Happy Monday!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Friday Things

There is more craziness going on in this little part of the internet.  Between work, chasing after two dogs, cooking, attempting to keep the house clean, runs, spin class, and drinking crazy amounts of coconut LaCroiz (the BEST flavor), there hardly has been a moment to breathe.

I've been quietly stalking the Fox Valley Marathon registration page and debating with myself if I should run the half or the full.  I have 10 weeks from Sunday to train.  If I decided on the the full marathon, my training would focus on getting mileage on my legs without much speed.  Half marathon training would focus on speed with the goal of a major PR.  I'm leaning more in the direction of the full marathon as speed at this time does not sound appealing.

Despite my busy schedule I have been able to maintain 20-30 mile weeks with runs ranging in distance from 5 miles up to 12.  I've also been toying around with tempo runs and speed work to get myself ready for my 10K next Friday.

Today's run was a comfortable 10 miles.  I had no goal pace other than to run at what felt like an easy pace.

10 miles

I've also started running more with my HRM and I averaged 166 bpm on this run.  This run was at a comfortable pace for me and I felt like I could keep going once I finished.

Running news....

THIS article was a great read.   It explains the difference between pushing hard and over training.  I can really relate as I'm starting to think more and more that I have over trained for my last marathon this past May (I've been doing a LOT of reflecting on that run lately as I decide what race to do next).  The biggest takeaway I took from this article was to reflect on my runs in my running notebook to better keep track of fatigue, aches and pains, etc.

I really wish I lived near Atlanta for this casting call.

In other news.... We booked a trip to visit a good friend in San Franscisco! We have never been and are looking forward to doing very touristy things.

This weekend's project is finally painting the master bedroom.  The painting tape is up and is ready to go for tomorrow's painting marathon.

What have you been up to lately?

Are you training for a race or running just to run?