Sunday, October 30, 2016

Taper Deja Vu

Week of October 24-October 30, 2016

Mileage: 50, with a tempo workout, a set of strides, an impromptu double, a crazy speed workout, a bootcamp, some core work...and two birthdays!

My department is the best - and hilarious!  "Real runners don't age."
Monday - Business as usual with bootcamp (45 min.) + elliptical warm-up (25 min.).  The day before this I'd been zonked from running 3 times in under 24 hours (Saturday 8:00 a.m. shake-out, Saturday 5:00 p.m. 5K, and Sunday 5:30 a.m. 16 miler - see Sunday's notes here), so I decided that if I woke up still feeling exhausted I was going to skip bootcamp, but I woke up feeling great so the extra rest I had on Sunday was just what I needed!  This was my last chance to go to bootcamp before the Bass Pro marathon, so I'm glad it aligned for me to go, and I was also proud of myself for being open to not going if I needed an easier day (e.g., being less obsessive).

Tuesday - 7 base pace (7:20), with Missy and Ashley!  We are deciding on a name for our group - I named the group text "Competitive Women's Group", but Missy suggested "Slow Old Women's Group", which seems more fitting for me this week due to turning another year older.  Missy brought me an early birthday gift, including an amazing Underarmour winter running top, because she is the sweetest.

Wednesday - Happy birthday tempo workout to me!  The workout was 2 miles warm-up, 3 x 2 mile tempos with 0.5 mile recovery jogs between, and 1 mile cool-down.  Missy ran a tempo at the same time as me, although not the same workout, so we weren't together on the repeats, but it was nice to have someone else on the roads with me and we warmed up together and such.  This ended up being a confidence-inspiring workouts, as my 2 mile splits were 12:22 (6:11.5, 6:11.3), 12:11 (6:03.6, 6:07.5), and 12:08 (6:08.1, 5:59.99), and my average pace for all 10 miles even with the 4 miles of easy warm-up, recoveries, and cool-down mixed in was 6:39.  I was supposed to run the tempos at 6:15, and on the first rep that was what I was aiming for, and it felt so easy...well, maybe not easy, but a controlled faster pace, like half marathon pace.

Then the workout just flowed from there!  Towards the end I started thinking that maybe I could close with a sub-6:00 final mile, and I managed to do so by the tiniest of margins (I should have started the push for it a little earlier, because I was going up an incline when I decided to go for it)!  This was my final big tempo push before Bass Pro, and I felt really good about it.  It was brisk but not extremely hard.  It also made me want to race a half and a 10K so badly!  The workout made me feel like I could run 6:20ish pace for a flat half in cool temperatures, and I think I can run a 10K better than my last at 6:14 pace, since that was run at 70 degrees on a hilly course (e.g., conditions that I wasn't going to try for a PR in). 

So I asked my coach about racing the White River half on November 19 if I felt up for it.  I was sure that he'd say it was a bad idea, but he said that if I feel up for it then to go for it, provided that I don't do any more long races until the end of January, per our plan (but a 10K isn't a long race, so I'm thinking I could add one of those, bahahaha!).  So, I might get a go at a half in 2016 after all!  Or I might not even want to or feel like I have it in me after Bass Pro, which is totally okay too.  I am also (kind of) learning patience, and I believe that since my coach got me to this fitness level now, he can do it again in spring 2017 and I can go for a half PR then.  A couple of the ladies I've been training with are doing White River, so might as well ride down with them and go for it if I feel healthy after Bass Pro!

I also did a short core workout at lunch on Wednesday...would that be "Crunch"??  My medal from winning my age group at the Waddell and Reed half came in the mail on my birthday too.  I won my age group in 2015 there as well, and still find it humorous that I ran it as a base run this year and managed to place better overall (details here).

Because, for some reason Garmin Connect rounded this up, hahaha!
My birthday mail
Thursday - 11.1 total:  7.5 miles with 6 strides in mile 7 (7:31), with Missy and Ashley in the morning.  Happy birthday to Missy run!  We are almost birthday twins!  All three of us had hard Wednesday workouts, so it was nice to get in a relaxed conversational run.  AND it was sports bra running weather again, at least for me!  It's become a running (pun intended) joke that sports bra weather for me is long sleeve weather for Ashley, and on this run that was the case (it was 59 degrees and humid); I wore a shirt driving to meet, but then realized I definitely didn't want it when I got out of my car.

The day was SO beautiful that I did an easy second run in the evening, 3.6 miles (7:52).  This one wasn't on my schedule (sorry coach!!), but I wanted to soak up what will likely be my last chance for an after work run in daylight for a few months (!!!).  I am definitely going to need to schedule some lunch runs over the winter to get more daylight in my life!  

Friday -3.3 mile threasy (7:38) and a 25 minute strength workout focused on upper body and core.  No more leg strength until after Bass Pro!

Saturday - Crazy town 400s again; true deja vu to this taper week Sunday before Prairie Fire.  12 miles total with 2.1 warm-up, 20 x 400 m on the track, 2.2 cool-down. The 400s were run in 5 sets of 4 reps each, with 200 m recovery between reps and 400 m recovery between sets. The goal splits got faster each set, as the purpose of this workout is to generate leg-turn over without getting overly fatigued, and I assume also to practice negative splitting.   

My splits for each set were (I didn't do tenths of a second on each rep, but this is close):
Set 1 (goal 1:30, but I changed it to 1:29): 1:28, 1:28, 1:28, 1:28 - average 1:28
Set 2 (goal 1:28):  1:26, 1:27, 1:27, 1:27 - average 1:26.75
Set 3 (goal 1:27): 1:27, 1:27, 1:26, 1:26 - average 1:26.5
Set 4 (goal 1:26):  1:25, 1:25, 1:26, 1:25 - average 1:25.25
Set 5 (goal 1:25): 1:25, 1:24, 1:25, 1:23 - average 1:24.25
Average for all 20 was 1:26.15
For reference, last time I ran this workout, 4 weeks ago, I did (again, didn't do tenths of a second):
Set 1 (goal 1:30): 1:28, 1:30, 1:30, 1:31 - average 1:29.75
Set 2 (goal 1:28): 1:27, 1:28, 1:27, 1:28 - average 1:27.5
Set 3 (goal 1:27): 1:27, 1:26, 1:25, 1:26 - average 1:26
Set 4 (goal 1:26): 1:25, 1:26, 1:25, 1:26 - average 1:25.5
Set 5 (goal 1:25): 1:23, 1:25, 1:24, 1:23 - average 1:23.75
Average for all 20 was 1:26.5

Missy ran the first set beside me, and then rotated in and out of some of the others a few seconds behind me.  This was not her workout day, so it was really sweet of her to come out and help me on this one!  My main take-away is that 200 m recoveries are really short (about 1:00)!  Also I was really pleased to run a little faster than I did this workout 4 weeks ago; I felt that the workout 4 weeks ago was very solid for me, and today I paced all 20 myself (last time Casey led 8 of them) and it was 60 degrees (last time was 45).  I was also nice to check this one off!  I shouldn't have it again until February now!

Sunday - 6.5 miles shake out (7:24 ).  I only had 5 scheduled, but realized that 6.5 would get me to 50 miles for the week, so how could I not?  It was a gorgeous morning!

T-minus 7 days!  I don't think I'll have any taper madness this time (although I know I'll miss the mileage, as I don't run a whole lot next week), because I think this is just all bonus and even if I run a horrible race I'll be glad I tried and again thankful for the journey (and learn something for next time).  Marathon day is important, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that the training block along the way is even better.  I've made so many memories and I know that I'm exactly where God wants me to be.  Did you know that His plans are better than anything we can dream up on our own?!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

What else to do 4 weeks after your marathon than run another marathon?!

I planned to run the Bass Pro Marathon as my 2016 B marathon even before I picked my A marathon!  I ran, and won, this marathon in 2015 and 2010, and both times I thoroughly enjoyed the race and running familiar streets.  I love the hometown feel, and there is a lot to be said for sleeping in your own bed the night before a marathon!

This race ended up lining up nicely with Prairie Fire, because being 4 weeks apart I knew I could use Prairie Fire as my longest long run for Bass Pro, I would have long enough to recover between the races, and also I would get a second chance at a sub-3:00 marathon if Prairie Fire didn't go well.  I think that I'll probably run Bass Pro every year I can from here on, but likely never as my A race because it's not a wonderful race for a good time.  The organization is A+++, but being a smaller race you are likely going to be running a lot of the race alone if you're running under probably 3:20ish, and even more so the faster you run.  The course is about as flat as you can get in the Ozarks, but still has around 550 ft of elevation gain, and also a million turns (a friend told me he counted 70-some from the course map!).  I lose rhythm turning so much, and also it's tricky to run all of those tangents so you inevitably pick up extra distance.  The final 2 miles of the race also has a lot of incline, so in those miles where it's already a struggle to stay on pace, you have to fight the elevation as well (even when I ran it as a training run in 2015 or when I've run the half I haven't been able to close with a fantastic final 2 miles; when I raced it in 2010 stayed on pace to the end, but I would have definitely had a better negative split sans inclines).

Since I got my sub-3:00 at Prairie Fire, I considered dropping to the half at Bass Pro, which was also a thought all along.  However, the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to run the full.  Although I would like to go for a half PR, the half course is also not amazing and I just had so much fun running this marathon both times I did it that I really want to do it again.  Plus, Prairie Fire wasn't painful enough to scare me away from another 26.2 within a month, so forward I go!

When I signed up for 2016 (with the early registration/first 100 entrants super discount, wahoo!), I also hoped I might have a change to win the race again.  However, our local Olympic Trials qualifier is also running this year, so I don't have a chance for the win.  She is fast, sweet, and humble, and I'm fine with finishing behind her; however, my main disappointment is that I won't have the lead female cyclist with me during the race like I have in the past!  I sure liked those cyclists along during those lonely miles.  But I guess after running about 20 miles alone at Prairie Fire, I know that I can do it again if I have to.  I know a couple of men who should be close to my pace so am going to try to coordinate when them, though.

My biggest excitement about this race is that my coach told me that he worked out the "magic" to get me recovered from Prairie Fire and hopefully hold my peak to try for another sub-3:00 at this one.  After last week's training went really well for me, he said he thinks I will be ready!  It may be greedy to go for this, and with Prairie Fire on my legs it could go really poorly --- but taking no chances means wasting your dreams, right?  So I am planning to give it a go, provided that the weather cooperates and I'm feeling it once I get out conservatively on race day.  I'm not worried about it, because this one is a bonus, but I am ready to have 26.2 miles of fun on November 6!

Finishing stretch photos - must get a similar shot this year

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Back at it!

Week of October 17-23, 2016

Mileage: 51.5, with a set of strides, a fartlek workout, a double, a 5K race for fun, a fast finish long run, two bootcamps, and some extra core work

Monday - Cross-training MonYay with 35 minute elliptical warm-up and 45 minute strength bootcamp.  Despite spending Sunday at Silver Dollar City, I felt good on this workout!  I also did my standard short bonus 5 minute plank workout on Monday evening.

My favorite Chiefs fans at Silver Dollar City on 10/16/16
Tuesday - 6 miles base pace with 6 strides in the last mile (7:17).  I was thankful to get another day of sports bra running weather (68 degrees!), and my legs were ready to go!  Only 6 miles??!  My coach told me that he wants me rested and feeling ready to go run instead of tired in these next 3 weeks, and I understand this and am going to follow his training plan.  In fact, I am grateful for someone reigning me in and keeping me healthy, as I historically have proven I suck at that.  But, I also felt like I should be doing a little more mileage this week, before I taper back again!  However, it's definitely preferable to go into Bass Pro on November 6 a little too rested as opposed to worn down or even worse injured.  I'd rather lose a little fitness and stay healthy than the alternative, and I also keep reminding myself that this second marathon off of this training cycle is just bonus!  Plus I want to start my training cycle for my next big goal at the Phoenix marathon in a good place.

Wednesday - 9 miles base pace (7:31).  I ran with a new training partner, Ashley, for the first time on this run, as there is now a Springfield area "competitive women's running group" group text.  Of course they started this group right after my goal marathon!  I'm super stoked that I am getting connected with enough training partners that I should have someone to run with for more of my runs than not.  It's also exciting to have women to train with!  After this run I went to 40 minutes of bootcamp, doing my second bootcamp on Wednesday instead of Friday this week (usually this doesn't happen because I usually have workouts on Wednesdays, but worked out perfectly this week so I didn't go on Friday before the Saturday 5K).

Thursday - 8.1 miles total (6:44 for all; hard portions at 5:34-5:51), with my first workout post-marathon!  The workout was 2 miles warm-up, 4 miles of 3' on/3' off fartlek (ended up being a bit over 4 miles because I wanted to finish the fifth hard 3 minutes instead of stopping in the middle of it), 2 miles cool-down.  I was a little nervous going into this one because I knew it would tell me a lot about where I was with my marathon recovery.  I was feeling good heading into it, but feeling good running base pace vs. a hard pace are different things!

It was a short workout that I knew was intended to start getting some leg turnover back without pounding my legs.  It ended up being one of those days where I felt ah-mazing and this went almost so well that I questioned whether or not my Garmin was correct.  My hards were all sub-6:00 (the final one at 5:34), my recoveries between hards were low 7s, and my warm-up at 7:22 and cool-down at 7:11.  What was really cool is that when I finished the workout and saved it on my watch, I saw that my average for all 8 miles was 6:44, which I didn't expect.  I remember the time not too long ago when I was trying to run 8 mile tempos at 6:45ish and that was a major victory, so having that average pace with half of the distance being warm-up and cool-down, and the other half being a fartlek with equal duration on/offs was really cool to see...or maybe my Garmin was just wrong, hahahaha!
What what?
Friday - Threasy - 3.3 miles (7:23) and 15 minutes of core work.  It was 38 degrees for this one (only down 30 degrees from Tuesday morning!), which is great running weather but also feels FAR colder in October than in January (also colder in the dark than after sunrise)!

Saturday - 9.1 miles total, with a 3 mile shake out in the morning (7:32), and the Ozark Rotary Trick or Trot 5K (18:46/6:03 pace) with 2.3 warm-up (7:15) and 0.7 cool-down (7:43) in the evening.  Apparently the magic combination for me to run in the 18s in a 5K was to plan to run it at 10K effort in a teeny tiny 5:00 p.m. race that I won a free entry to!  I was pretty stoked about this time, as I haven't been able to put a solid 5K together for a very long time, and I finished this one with some left in the tank.  Albani won the female costume contest, and a trophy she adored!  Read more about it with pictures here.

Sunday - 16 miles with 12 relaxed then 4 fast finish (7:15 pace for all 16; final 4 in 6:58, 7:02, 6:57, 6:30).  I wasn't quite sure how I would feel on this run, since I started it exactly 12.5 hours after my Saturday 5K started.  It went very well, though, and I ran the first 9 miles with another new training partner from the competitive women's group, Amy.  She had done her long run on Thursday so didn't go the whole way with me, but after dropping her off it felt short only having 7 more miles, 4 of which were fast finish.  I love fast finishing long runs, and the fast finish miles always make the long run seem shorter, because I think about how I run to 12 (or whatever mile) and then more of a workout starts - so the run is broken up into two sections.  I was supposed to drop the pace by 10 seconds/mile from where I'd been running (so about 7:15, 7:05, 6:55, 6:45), so I exceeded my goal a little but didn't do the pretty progression since I sped up too much on the first of the 4 miles.

While the run went great, the rest of the day on Sunday I could feel the evening race + lack of sleep due to being amped up from the race + early morning long run combination, which was kind of unfortunate because it was a beautiful day outside.  After going to church and getting groceries, we spent it at home watching football (Jon), reading and messing around online (me), and playing Minecraft and Star Wars on the X-Box (Albani).  All 3 of us napped some as well!  It felt good to rest and rejuvenate, although I had mom-guilt over letting Albani have so much screen time (she had no complaints).

Now I marathon taper...again!

Trick or Trot 5K: Sweet 18s

I finally put together a solid 5K race!  In case you don't want to weed through the details below, the basics are that I tried to run around 10K effort and without looking at my watch, and ended up feeling really good and finished in 18:46 with some left in the tank.  After a very lengthy string of 19:0X 5Ks, even though I'd run under 19 in the second 5K of a 10K, I finally made it official!  The struggle has been real.

The Trick or Trot had a 5:00 p.m. start time.  I haven't done many afternoon/evening races, and the only reason I did this one was because I won a free entry, needed more 5Ks for my running club's Runner of the Year competition, and had a child who was super stoked to wear her Halloween costume early.  Since I've only run three afternoon races as an adult, I'm not sure on best way to handle all of the hours of the day leading up to the race, but this one was a perfect one to experiment with since it was a treated as a workout instead of a race.  5Ks scare me so much that I was thankful that my coach told me not to run it all out (isn't it crazy that 3.1 miles intimidate me more than 26.2?!)!  I was also glad to get the opportunity to give an afternoon race a try under relaxed conditions, as I've always been scared to run one as a goal race since I'm not used to them, but supposedly our bodies do better at running fast in the afternoon than in super early morning.  Even though I ran several second runs in the evenings during my last training cycle, they were all easy runs, so I just wasn't sure how I'd feel.

I slept in until 7:30 a.m. (glorious!), then did a 3 mile shake out run immediately followed by stretching, an electrolyte drink, and a sizable breakfast, taking advantage of that post-run window when your muscles are little sponges ready to soak up nutrients, carbs, and hydration.  I also donned some compression socks, which I wore around all day.  It was a good day for us to relax at home after being on the go the past two weekends (I can't believe the Prairie Fire Marathon was only 2 weeks ago!), which meant a lot of laundry, cleaning, Halloween decorating, etc. but nothing too strenuous and also some reading and legs up the wall time.  With the race starting at 5:00 p.m., I knew I'd start my warm-up 4:15ish, so I knew I didn't want to eat anything much after 1:00ish, and I had a light lunch around that time.  Some of my worry about afternoon races stems from not knowing what to eat/not eat all day leading up to the event, because I don't want to eat too much or too little and have problems because of it.

Albani wore her Darth Vader Halloween costume, so we had a fun time getting dressed!  I wasn't as festive since it was 74 degrees, but I did wear an orange sports bra and black shorts.  I also put my hair in two French braids, which I used to do in high school when I raced but never take the time to do for morning races now.

My sweet Darth Vader

Result of waiting around all day for a race
When we arrived at the race site, I could tell it was going to be teeny tiny, and when I picked up my packet I noted about 15 runners signed up on the registration sheet.  No worries, though!  This was a workout and I hoped it would be a fun run.  I accidentally set our car alarm off when getting water during my warm-up, and had to run over to Jon and Albani who were on the playground about a quarter mile away to get the car key to stop it, while people looked at me perhaps wondering if I was running away following stealing something from a car (once they looked closely at the car it was probably obvious that there was nothing good to be taken from it, however).

You guessed it - during my warm-up, when I take good running pics
When the gun went off, I found myself immediately out front running what I felt like was my 10K pace (6:10-6:15).  A look at my watch around the half mile confirmed that I was at 6:10 pace - perfect.  It looked like it was just going to be me and the lead car, which was kind of what I expected when I saw the small field.  The second half mile had a good amount of decline in it, so that made me speed up and my 1 mile split was 6:02.  This felt nice and 10K pace still, but I figured the rest of my race would be slower because I wouldn't have the decline in any other miles.

The lead car sped ahead of me after taking me around a turn, and I started worrying that the driver had taken me the wrong way or something, but then I saw him get out of the car and put a cone down in the road for the hair pin turn-around.  When I got to the turn-around, I saw that it was marked with a duck, meaning it was the turn-around from the Sertoma Duck Waddle 5K and also meaning the course would be accurate!  This was good news because I'd gone into this one wondering if it would be off.

I kept plugging along to a second mile of 6:01.  Well, at that point it was time to try for a finish in the 18s!  I knew the last mile would be tough to keep at 6:00 pace since I had to go back up the decline, and I was also thinking about how I would be running a 16 mile long run in 12 hours, but I hoped to do it in 6:10-6:15, and I ended up putting down a 6:09.  My finishing kick at 5:46 pace was enough for an official time of 18:46, although I didn't get my watch stopped for a few more seconds.  I won overall by over 5 minutes, which is a first!

Garmin splits
Jon gets the best finishing clock shots -
he told me it's because he "used to race"
It felt really good to get this done, especially when it wasn't on my radar here!  I was planning to go for a time in the 18s at the Turkey Trot 5K next month, but if I actually try there I will probably run 19:0X, haha!  The downside was that this course wasn't certified, but since my Garmin read exactly 3.10 on the out-and-back course with only a few turns, I'm saying it had to be quite close, as the last time I ran an out-and-back certified 5K it read 3.11.  My all-time PR is 18:25 anyhow (I've done an 18:18 on an un-certified course, and also a 17:58 on one my Garmin had at 2.95 miles), so it's not a question of counting for that or anything.  Just happy to see the 18s as a 35-year-old!

The best part of the event was Albani winning the costume contest!  Her eye lit up so much when they handed her the trophy.  She was in my opinion the cutest Darth Vader ever.  She kept telling me that her trophy was way better than my medal, which was an accurate statement, but my 18:46 was also way better than my medal or her trophy!

Celebrating with Hibachi
Now, I can really officially retire from 5Ks.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Because my bib number was 666

Prairie Fire miscellany:  final post with details I wanted to remember that didn't fit anywhere else!

This email came with my (free!) race photos.  I thought it was very fitting, as it let me know I did not just dream it as I thought may have occurred!  I was disappointed that they didn't do finishing clock photos, though.
Hard cold photographic evidence
I learned about the Strava Back Half Challenge a few days before Prairie Fire.  My goal had been to negative split all along, so it was cool to know that if I did I'd win a pair of free shoes.  And I did!  I already received my code for a pair of free New Balance shoes of my choice.  How cool is that??!

It pays to negative split!
My bib number was 666, which as you can imagine solicited a lot of comments.  Race organizers also stuck a 0 in the number and gave it to Albani!  It was a little humorous, because I always tell Albani that luck isn't a real thing, and that the things that happen to us in life are based on the actions we take and how God blesses us.
The comments ranged from:

"Oh my, that's the mark of the beast."
"It's just a number."
"Remind me to tell you my 666 story, after your race.  There's a reason I won't tell you before."
"Make sure you're fast as hell."
"Twould be a sin not to go fast."
"Because you're going to have a hell of a race!"
"Stop at the Halloween store for some devil horns."
"I've read from Peter Pfitz that in that case, it's assumed you'll wear your bib upside down.  And yes, I'm being serious."
"You'll turn it into a lucky number."
"666 is the number for Christmas red in DMC floss."
"Is that fate's way of saying you're faster than hell?"
"She got number 666." (said by a kid on the course in a very doomsday manner)
After the race, the one that made me laugh the most was, "She obviously made a deal to hit that time."

We were so "lucky"!
Social media was a fun way to celebrate, and I felt so much love that day!
My local running club rocks
The Fit Club also rocks!
I would love to run Prairie Fire again in the future, and think I will do either the half or full again in 2017!  Of course, I always want to run them all...

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

What makes one marathon faster than the others? Marathon training cycle comparisons

I started putting this table together during my taper week for Prairie Fire to show myself that I was the most prepared I’d ever been.  In some categories, it made me feel less prepared goes taper madness! 

The biggest thing that helped me make the jump from Dallas to Prairie Fire was increasing my mileage, and the biggest factor from Bass Pro 2010 to Dallas and Prairie Fire was working with a coach.  The latter also helped me work smarter, not necessarily harder (although I worked plenty hard too!).  I’ve learned a lot about diminishing returns with training and the line between being well-prepared and over-trained.  I also don't quite understand how he does it, but my coach can give me a 60 mile week that I complete feeling amazing after, but if I piece one together I end it feeling exhausted.

All in all, the combination of things that made the biggest positive difference for me at Prairie Fire was:
  • Higher consistent mileage.  Even though I didn’t peak as high as I did before Bass Pro, I ran in the 50s to 60s every single week for 20 weeks, aside from the two taper weeks prior to the marathon.  Bass Pro prep was more variable.
  • Working with a coach.  He’s better at this than me!
  • No “training marathon”.  This was something I worried would hurt me, having not gone the full distance before race day, but I think it was best (see statement about diminishing returns/over-training).
  • Fewer super long runs (see statement about diminishing returns/over-training).
  • More workouts in long runs.  Runs like the hardest workout ever and 10 mile tempo + 1 hammer paid the bills!
  • More tempos and hill work, for more stamina/strength building.
  • Less track work.  It’s not a 5K, after all, and I was amazed at how much speed came simply with mileage.
  • Two-a-day runs for more endurance and recovery.
  • Faster long and easy runs, because apparently you can run your easy runs too slow!
  • Fewer workouts and more base pace running, which reduces my injury risk and ends up making everything faster due to more consistent running.
  • Less racing, and no tapering/resting for most races, since that decreases consistent mileage.  I learned that I could race fine even if I'd run 10-12 miles and a double two days before the event, which wasn't something I'd done in the past.
  • Not using ice baths and compression until the end of the training cycle so my body could better learn to rebuild without extra help early on.
  • Strength training.  My legs feel far less beat up after long and hard efforts, so it’s worth it for that alone.
  • Being more fit and eating more.  As I discussed here, I was overall more fit.  I wish I had body composition stats to compare, because I was very close in my weight for all of these races, but I think my body fat was lowest at Prairie Fire, while I also fueled myself the best during training for it.

Bass Pro
Nov. 2010
Dec. 2015
Oct. 2016
Mileage average
(20 weeks leading up to race)
Mileage peak
Spotty, mainly raced and called it a tempo; one traumatic 8 mile tempo that I bombed
Moderate amount, including a 10 miler
Staple workout, including 4, 6, 8, 10 and several repeat tempo workouts such as 3 x 2 miles at tempo
Speed work
Nearly every Tuesday track workouts
Often, but not as much as 2010
4 track workouts, and a few fartleks on the road (overall less than other 2 cycles)
Hill work
Most long runs were very hilly; 1 hill repeat workout
Most long runs were mildly hilly; 3 hill repeat workouts
1-2 times/week
“Training” marathon
Heart of America in 3:16 (very hilly course)
20+ milers
1.     20
2.     21
3.     22
4.     23
5.     26.2 (race)
6.     20
7.     22
8.     23.3
1.     20
2.     22
3.     20
4.     27 (race+)
5.     20
6.     23.1
1.     20 base
2.     20 workout
3.     22 - 18 base, final 4 at marathon goal pace
4.     24.3 base, with final mile at marathon goal pace
Long run pace (approx.)
Easy run pace (approx.)
Tempo pace (6-10 mile tempos)
Race in build-up (in the order raced)
Half Marathon
Half Marathon
PRs during build-up
10K (not certified) in 39:13
10K in 39:19

Sporadic elliptical
Strength bootcamp 2 times/week, with elliptical warm-ups, and sporadic swimming
Strength bootcamp 2 times/week with elliptical warm-ups, and extra core work
Illnesses during build-up
Bronchitis in August and October
Cryptosporidum parasite in August (took 6 weeks to get back to full strength)
Recovery techniques
Sporadic stretching, ice baths after most long runs
Daily stretching, ice baths after most long runs, regular compression sock wearing, sporadic foam rolling
Daily stretching, daily foam rolling, used ice baths and compression socks only in the final 6 weeks pre-race
Training groups
MSU speed work group
Saturday long runs with Jamie
Frequent runs with Missy; some with Casey and Kim
Vegetarian, excessive sweets on occasion
Vegetarian, clean, but still excessive sweets on occasion
Included fish, chicken, and turkey (generally just at dinner), but otherwise similar to previous vegetarian, clean and ate maybe 3 desserts in 20 weeks
Race day temperature
High 30s-mid-40s
Mid-50s-low 60s
Low 50s-low 60s
First half split
Second half split
During race fueling
3 gels, occasional sports drink but mostly water
2 gels, occasional sports drink but mostly water
3 gels, occasional sports drink but mostly water
Strategy notes
Aiming for 3:05 and overall female; lucked out and was able to pace with Julie and the lead cyclist
Aiming for 2:59 and pacing with Jamie, used an even paced pace band
Aiming for 2:59 or better, used a conservative start course specific pace band, ran the first 6.5 miles mostly with the 1:30 half pace group, then ran 20 miles alone
1st overall female
2nd overall female
4th overall female (9th fastest marathon ever run by a woman in the state of Kansas, and the 3rd, 4th, and 5th fastest were also run in this race)
Race day outfit
Nike tank with built-in bra and Moving Comfort shorts (started in arm warmers and gloves, took both off)
Nike tank with built-in bra and Underarmour compression shorts
Underarmour sports bra and BCG shorts (started in gloves for the first 5 miles)
Race day socks
Ironman brand
Feetures brand
CEP compression socks
Race day shoes
Asics DS Trainers
Hoka One One Clifton 1s
Hoka One One Clifton 1s
Number of toenails on race day
Probably 8
9, but down to 8 shortly after
Pre-race panic
Extreme 5-6 days out but subsided to