Sunday, March 31, 2019

Expect Nothing but be Prepared for Everything: March in Review

March 2019 in Review

Total mileage for the month:  320.4
  • Feb. 25-March 3: 90.3 (2:40 strength training)
  • March 4-10:  86.2 (2:37 strength training)
  • March 11-17: 77.7 (2:21 strength training)
  • March 18-24:  71.3 (1:01 strength training)
  • March 25-March 31:  50.2 (1:37 strength training)
Matching March!
  • March 24:  Chisholm Trail Marathon in 2:57:18 for 3rd overall female - because why not bust the rust with a full marathon after 6 months of not racing?!
I was this excited before the marathon!
  • March 6:  5 mile tempo at 6:23 via 6:28, 6:25, 6:24, 6:26, 6:15 (3 warm up, 4 cool down).  I figured if this workout went really well I could start at 6:30 and finish at 6:15, so I was pleased to do nearly just that!  It was 11 degrees, which is colder than I'd prefer for a workout, but the wind was almost nonexistent, which helped a lot.  Although I want to work back down to running my tempos 20+ seconds/mile faster than this, this was the best workout I'd had since my injury in September (a streak which continued through my other March workouts).  
  • March 10:  12 miles at marathon effort at 6:41 via 6:56, 6:49, 6:44, 6:40, 6:44, 6:44, 6:41, 6:44, 6:43, 6:35, 6:33, 6:20 (3 warm up, 3.3 cool down).  Since this was my only long run workout, I really needed it to go well, and it did!  The 6:20 final fast mile was certainly harder than marathon effort - but I was stoked to be able to throw that in there.  I still felt pretty good afterward, and my cool down miles ended up being faster than expected (7:19 with a quick drink stop, 6:56, 6:52) and my average pace for all 18.3 was 6:56.  I was super tempted to run 20 miles instead of stopping at my car at 18.3, but I didn't want to over-cook myself 2 weeks out from the marathon so I restrained myself.  It was really nice to feel good enough to want to do that though!
  • March 13:  Progressive split tempos of 4-3-2-1 miles with 0.5 recoveries (1 warm up, 0.6 cool down).  My splits were were 6:39, 6:40, 6:35, 6:33 / 6:37, 6:27, 6:30 / 6:22, 6:22 / 6:13. Since it takes about 10 days to get gains from a workout, this was my last real effort before Chisholm Trail and I wanted to make it count!  I'd set my goal paces at 6:45, 6:35, 6:25, 6:15 for the 4 portions, but since we were in a wind advisory on workout morning I figured I'd have to adjust.  Once I got going, though, I felt really strong and ended up exceeding those goal times (averages of 6:37, 6:31, 6:22, 6:13)!  The 4 mile and 3 mile repeats felt brisk but comfortable.  It's funny how 6:30-6:40 felt like a pace I could sustain for quite awhile, but dropping a little from that for the 6:22s and 6:13 was pushing a lot more.  All in all, I was pleased with this solo workout in 20+ mph wind (I ran a 0.8 mile loop course so it split up the wind at least).  I typically would run a much longer warm up and cool down for any workout (I need a 2 mile warm up minimum!), but the total volume of this as I did it was already 13.1 miles and I didn't think I needed to be running any farther than that 10 days out from my marathon.  It would have been a better workout to do within a long run, but I didn't have any more of those left!
  • March 19:  A little final tune up of  3 x 1 mile at marathon goal pace (6:41, 6:38, 6:40), 0.5 mile faster (6:01) with 0.5 recoveries (2 warm up, 1.5 cool down).  I ran this on gentle rolling hills to make myself focus on effort and not my watch.  I was trying to stay between 6:40-6:45 on the miles, so I was very close.  As per always, marathon pace felt awkward; I always want to either speed up to tempo pace or slow down to over 7:00, because it's not easy but it's not hard.  I will never understand those people who say their marathon pace feels easy and run it or faster all of the time in training - I will never run mine in training without purposely targeting it!  The faster half mile was the fastest I've run on anything except strides in about 6 months, so yay.
  • Doubles on March 6, 7, 11, 14, 18.
  • Strides on March 1, 9, 12, 18, 22, 23.
  • Favorite workout:  Both of the long ones - March 10 and March 13! 
Baby Peck is joining us for runs now!
Thanks to Daylight Savings Time, it was again
pitch dark when we finished our runs for awhile
Sunrise miles at the end of the month!
 Long Runs:
  • March 2:  23.2 miles (7:23).  I was thrilled with how strong I felt on this run (more about it here).  I ran by feel without looking at my watch, and was pleasantly surprised to see that my final 5 miles were 6:50-7:04 pace, which I figured was about my current marathon pace (I revised that to 6:45 after my March 10 workout).  It's nice when your longest long run of your training cycle is also your fastest paced up to that point!  I ran with Claudio and Rebecca (plus Jack for the first 8), and the miles went by very quickly.  I drank both nuun energy and Generation Ucan before the run, and had nuun energy and one Accel gel during, which all sat flawlessly in my stomach and are all part of my race day nutrition (on race day day I eat breakfast 3 hours before also, and I take 3 Accel gels during a marathon).
  • March 10:  18.3 miles (6:56), described in workouts above.
  • March 16:  12.2 miles (7:25).  I ran the first 3 miles with Amy, then the rest solo.  I tried to run the final mile at marathon pace by feel, but it ended up being 6:26, so I guess I felt good, because that was faster than my current marathon pace!
  • March 24:  27.6 miles via the Chisholm Trail Marathon (6:45 for 26.2) plus a little warm up and cool down.
  • March 30:  12 miles (7:24), in a final blast of winter with Rebecca and Claudio.  We had to start late due to thunderstorms, then the temperature dropped throughout the run and it was ridiculously windy.  I felt good for being 6 days off a a marathon but knew I shouldn't push it, and this distance worked out well since that is what they were doing with their marathon tapers.
  • Favorite long run:  The 23.2 was fantastic!  The marathon wins the favorite race category, clearly.  :-)
We approve of 23 milers
Smile if you ran 23 miles!
On March 16, Amy ran 22 & I ran a measly 12
  • I hit my first official 90 mile week on a Monday through Sunday week!  I'd been hitting 90+ on the rolling 7 throughout that week, with a best of 93.5, but the Monday through Sunday total felt a little more official.  I front-loaded the week slightly since we were supposed to have a snowpocalypse on Sunday, but I was able to run outside, albeit in a snowstorm, on Sunday morning.  The winter weather didn't stop me from finishing the 90 mile week, but it did stop me from running any farther that day than I needed to get to 90 (6 miles)!  The week was easier than most weeks I'd run in the 80s since I only ran 3 miles of it hard!
  • I ran double digit runs on the treadmill two days in a row due to windchills below zero, on March 4 and 5.  I can't believe I did this either!  After some really bad weather runs wore me down in January, I decided I wasn't going out when it was below zero.  I learned that I don't mind the treadmill when I go to my friend Amy's workout room while she does the elliptical next to me and we chat the whole time!
  • People told me that fitness comes back in waves; often you don't see a linear decline in paces but suddenly things improve dramatically.  I didn't believe that until it happened!  I averaged 6:41 pace for 12 miles on March 10 during an 18 mile long run (then ran two 6:5X miles during my cool down), when not long before I could barely hold that pace for 3 miles.  My March 13 workout was also a huge jump from anything I'd run in recent months, and in retrospect was probably overly ambitious to attempt, but I did it.  I then ran a marathon at 6:45 pace when less than two months before I couldn't even average 6:30 on mile repeats.  Although I hope to build from here, I was so thankful to have these break-throughs, and am thankful to be feeling SO.MUCH.BETTER.  Maybe my body just hates winter!
  • Post-marathon insomnia struck again; I couldn't sleep on Sunday night at all.  I worked on Monday, and didn't feel as bad as I expected to.
  • I recovered well from my marathon; I was a bit sore in my quads and hamstrings for two days after the race, then I was back to feeling pretty good by Thursday.  I had a work trip a few days post-marathon that left me tired, but we had a lazy weekend March 30-31, which was nice!
Rolling 7 day mileage PR

I pulled out my screw shoes for a March 3 snowstorm run!
I am often angered by how unhelpful this is;
even after I ran a 2:57 marathon with it, it still
predicted I could run a 2:40 marathon...
Life events:
  • Albani had spring pictures at school.
  • Albani had spring break from March 11-15 (right after daylight savings time started, which I think is brilliant on the school's part).  She and Jon visited my in-laws, and the Tulsa zoo with cousins.
  • We started many seeds for our garden, and did a lot of transplanting. 
  • We had a great family weekend in conjunction with the Chisholm Trail Marathon, with my parents, sister, niece, and nephew.  My 16-year-old niece ran my shake out run and strides with me the day before the marathon!
School picture day
Backwards night at Awana
After my pre-marathon shake run
Balloon animals at the marathon expo
Cousin love
Sister love
Books this month:
  • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  • After Anna by Lisa Scottoline
  • Winter Stroll by Elin Hilderbrand
  • Winter Storms by Elin Hilderbrand
  • Winter Solstice by Elin Hilderbrand
  • Look Alive Out There by Sloane Crosley
  • Feared by Lisa Scottoline
  • Joy School by Elizabeth Berg
  • I See Life Through Rosé-Colored Glasses by Lisa Scottoline & Francesca Serritella 
  • My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman
  • Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, & GPS Technology by Caroline Paul
  • Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand
  • Talk Before Sleep by Elizabeth Berg
Theme of the month:

Giving myself grace.  I have certainly learned that I can't force fitness or any certain paces, but that doesn't mean I still don't get mad at myself about that inability at times.  In February I stopped trying workouts because I wasn't enjoying them and they felt terrible.  This month I had the itch to get back into them, and I was nice enough to myself to celebrate each improvement instead of comparing to where I used to be.  I went into Chisholm Trail knowing it wouldn't be anywhere near a PR, but ready to celebrate whatever the marathon brought!  After the race, I didn't allow myself to be upset about narrowly missing 2nd place and not being able to reel in 1st, because I truly gave all I had that day and no one can do more than that!

Monday, March 25, 2019

Chisholm Trail Marathon: I've been faster, I've been slower, but I've never been more thankful!

The short:

I love running marathons!  On March 24, I finished the Wichita Chisholm Trail Marathon in 2:57:18 (6:45 average pace), placed 3rd overall female, and extended my sub-3:00 marathon streak to 7 in a row.  And as always, I grew as a person during those 26.2 miles.  The person who finishes a marathon is never the same person who started it!

Official results are here.
Requisite clock shot!
The long:

It's been years since I've trained for a marathon without a specific time goal that my workouts are targeted at and my mind is focused on.  After I returned from 8 weeks off with an injury in October-November 2018, I had some rocky training in January and February 2019, and started to wonder if I'd ever get fit or feel strong running again.  It seems like some people bounce right back from time off, but that has not been the case for me!  I got in 3 solid workouts in March (details coming in my March recap), and a 20 miler and 23 miler; based on of those 5 runs I figured I was in shape to run about 6:45 pace for a marathon, although it sounds kind of ludicrous when I write it like that, because we all know that 5 runs does not a solid marathon make!  My main goals were to run evenly and by effort, to place as high as I could in the women's field, and to smile while doing it.

Race morning brought sunny skies and 45 degrees.  I was so pumped to run another marathon I could hardly contain myself and could barely sleep the night before the race due to excitement!  From the gun, I had to really restrain myself not to go out too fast, which is actually rare for me.  My goal for the first mile was to not run any faster than 6:50, and I hit it in exactly 6:50.  That was the only time I looked at my watch during the race.  I ran by feel and by the field of runners around me.  I used to really micro-manage my splits in races, but I think I'm more successful when I don't monitor them.

I was in 4th female from the gun.  The leader went out pretty fast (I'd guess under 6:20), and I could see two women running together between the leader and me (I'd guess 6:35 for their first mile).  It's hard not to chase when you're running for place and feel so good so early, but I knew it was a bad idea and that if any of them could maintain that pace I couldn't stick with them anyhow, and I wouldn't get the best out of myself if I tried.  No one ever won a marathon in the first 10K, but many have lost them!

After the field thinned out I found myself running with a man, Leroy, who I've done some training with when visiting my parents for holidays.  We ran side by side and caught up a little from mile 1 until almost 6.  He'd recently dealt with an injury as well, and wasn't quite sure what to expect from the race.  Around mile 6 he told me he was going to drop back a bit, and I was eyeing the two ladies in front of me, so I focused on gradually pulling them in.  Miles 2-6 were 6:47, 6:54 (incline), 6:46, 6:45, 6:41, and my 10K course split was 42:04.  There was a clock on the course at the 10K, so I saw my split but I wasn't sure what pace that was, aside from sub-7:00.
With Leroy around mile 5
I was passing quite a few half marathon runners, including the 1:30 pace group, and feeling good.  I was dying to reel in the two women in my sights, but told myself to be patient and not accelerate just to catch them so early in the race.  I decided to try to pull up on them gradually, and then fall into pace with them.  The female leader was so far ahead I didn't think catching her was realistic, so I figured those two were my biggest competition.  Miles 7-10 were 6:38, 6:48, 6:41, 6:44.  I pulled up with the ladies and a man who'd been running with them (who I had also met at the start through a mutual friend, so I knew he was Victor who was aiming for 2:58).  The women asked if I was another half runner, since a couple had just gone by them, and I told them I was in the full as I settled in with them.

I recognized one of the women as Jalayne, a friend of my friend Amber.  Amber had mentioned Jalayne to me after I ran against Jalayne in the Bill Snyder half last year, and again mentioned that Jalayne was running this marathon.  Since I'd only beat her by about 40 seconds at Bill Snyder, I knew she would be tough to beat in this race because I was nowhere nearly as fit currently.  I am generally really good at gauging what I have to give, and the pace we were at felt sustainable for 26.2, plus having a group to run with usually helps me run faster.  Miles 11-13 were 6:35 (decline), 6:53, 6:50, and my course half split was 1:28:26.  Like at the 10K, there was a course clock, so I knew my half split and figured I was on track for a high 2:56 or low 2:57, which I was happy about because as much as I tried to push it out of my mind, I wanted to keep my sub-3:00 streak alive and knew it could go either way in this one!
Julie, guy in blue I didn't know was there, Jalayne, me, Victor

I nearly died laughing at this picture because all 4 of us look like
we are in terrible pain (this was just before the half, so we weren't)
Jalayne and I officially introduced ourselves, and I met the other women in the group, Julie.  Julie and Jalayne said they had been training together like crazy for 20 weeks for a 2:55 marathon, and learning that wasn't exactly confidence-boosting when I considered that they started their training cycle when I wasn't running at all.  But, I was running within myself and hoped I could draw on my mileage and past experience to make up for my abbreviated cycle and shortage of workouts and long long runs.

I stayed with Jalayne, Julie, and Victor, and around mile 15 another man named Damien joined us.  It was great having a group to run with, especially because the last time I ran a marathon in Wichita it was essentially a time trial from the 10K to the end!  Miles 14-18 were 6:41, 6:49, 7:02 (incline), 6:42, 6:37.  I could tell that Jalayne and Damien were both feeling really good, and the three of us were pushing the pace a bit, while Julie and Victor didn't seem as perky.  Damien pushed ahead slightly just before mile 18, and I told myself to go with him, putting myself into second place female.  My family was cheering on the course around that time, and told me that the leader had about 1:30 on me and looked like she was really hurting.  Mile 19 was 6:31 and my course split at 19.1 was 2:08:50 (random, but it was a two lap course so it had been the 10K timing mat on the first lap).
Damien taking off with me trying to follow around 18
Just before mile 20 we turned west into the wind for the final 10K.  On the first lap the wind hadn't been too bad, but it picked up a lot during the race.  The only drawback of straight marathon courses is the potential for long stretches against the wind.  I tried to draft off Damien, but he was feeling really good and I couldn't hang on (I later saw on Strava that he ran his final 5 miles between 6:05-6:20 pace!).  Being out there solo after having others to run with for so long was tough, but I kept reminding myself that anything can happen at the end of the marathon and if the leader was really struggling I might be able to catch her.  I also knew that the other two women could very well come back for me.  Miles 20-22 were 6:45, 6:56, 6:47.

Around mile 22-23 I really started to feel my shortage of workouts and really long runs.  Around 18-20 I thought I'd have a lot left and really be able to throw down the final 10K, but by 22 I was having much more trouble getting my legs to keep turning over.  I think my endurance is really good from all of the easy mileage I ran, but there is certainly a reason you need both mileage and workouts!  I knew that keeping on to the finish would be no problem, but my legs sure wanted to slow down, and the headwind wasn't helping.  Spectators kept telling me that I looked stronger than the leader and to "go get her", and at mile 20 I was really working on that, but by mile 23 I was just trying to hang on. Miles 23-25 were 6:53, 6:44, 7:07, although they felt like about 9:00 pace!  After I passed 25 I reminded myself I could do anything for a mile.  I heard someone coming up behind me and just hoped it was a man, because I didn't feel confident my legs had any fight left in them.

It wasn't a man, it was Jalayne.  She pulled up next to me and we encouraged each other, and then ran side by side for a half mile or so.  Her training consistency trumped my "unique" cycle, and as I fought with all I had she pulled away.  By the time we were nearing the 26 mile mark, I knew she had me, although I didn't give up because anything can happen.  I couldn't will my legs to go any faster though!  Mile 26 was 6:58 and my final kick was 6:19.
You can barely see me, but I love my parents taking
pictures/videos and Albani standing on the course!
The announcer called my name as the third female finisher, after announcing Jalayne in second.  I stumbled through the finish chute ecstatic to be comfortably under 3:00 after all I've been through in the past 6 months, but of course wishing I would have had a little more to hold onto 2nd, or a 6:30ish pace final 10K to take over 1st, who finished in 2:55:59.  I'm not there yet, but I'm closer than I was!

Before the race, one of my friends was considering pacing me (which did not work out), and he asked what pace I thought I'd run.  I told him 6:45, and low and behold I ran exactly 6:45 pace per the course!  I was almost more excited about my accurate prediction than the actual marathon!  It was kind of like when I wore a pace band targeted at 2:58:51 and ran 2:58:53!

Post-race I found my family, was interviewed by the local news station (clip can be seen here - my dad and I are each in it twice!), and attended the overall awards ceremony.  My dad, David Major, was also interviewed here.  My time was the 9th fastest marathon ever run by a female in the state of Kansas, which is funny because before this race I had the 9th fastest marathon with a 2:58:53 at Prairie Fire 2016.  I moved up two in the rankings with this 2:57 but the two ladies who finished in front of me in this race evened it out.  I also held steady with the 3rd fastest marathon run in Kansas by a female ages 35-39, improving my time by 1:33 on that list.

Media tent
I'd like to thank Goodr sunglasses for hiding my face as much as possible!

State of KS all time female marathon list (gun times)

State of KS age group 35-39 all time marathon list
I had a wonderful experience and plan to write more about the event and my post-race thoughts soon (this post was brought to you by post-marathon insomnia)!  [Follow up:  I wrote a review of the event here].  Not long ago I did not think that I'd be able to run this marathon at all, and even a month ago I sure didn't think I'd be able to run it at 6:45 pace.  We make plans, then God makes better ones, right?

"Run in such a way as to get the prize." - 1 Corinthians 9:24b

Family shot/Albani's distracted

I couldn't do any of it without him!

My mom bought Albani this shirt & I love it!

3 x sub-3s
Official results & course splits

It's not every day you cover 30 miles on foot!

Sunday, March 24, 2019


I guess I am in full blown taper mode for the Chisholm Trail Marathon!  I tried to find balance in my running plan for this phase; remembering I want to have fresh legs on race day, but also being mindful that I have 14 weeks until a bigger goal marathon and need every bit of fitness I can gain between now and then.  I know I can't have it all, but sometimes I try!

I am currently making my own training plan, which I admit historically hasn't been the optimal situation for me, but in February it was what I really needed, then I kept rolling with it from there.  For awhile I was just running whatever I wanted to every day, but once I began writing down a schedule I started being less likely to be crazy over-do it and I have enjoyed the flexibility.  For example, I may decide I'm going to run two 4 mile doubles during a week, but then I can do them whatever days work best vs. having them set.  I also plan my workouts on specific days, but if I am just not feeling it, I can move them (this hasn't happened yet, but I like knowing it's an option).  This is pretty ironic because historically I've also been super rigid about training schedules.  Bringing this all back to my taper, the actual topic of this post:  I have a taper plan but it can be somewhat fluid based on how I'm feeling!

As with most tapers, I am ready to just get it over with and fast forward to race day!  Often when I'm marathon tapering I look back over my training cycle and try to "do the math" on what my workouts, long runs, and mileage have been, and how they might equate to certain race times.  While I looked at my mileage this time, I don't feel like I can compare it to anything because of how unique this build was.  However, often my most recent running most colors my opinion of my current abilities.  Sometimes when I'm running well it seems like I will always keep running well; when I am running poorly I feel like I will always run poorly.  Neither is true, and I know that cognitively but still fall victim to the trap.  This time, it's a good thing because I've been feeling really good on my runs lately and my fitness seems to be making a comeback.  I'm not delusional enough to think that a few solid weeks can replace months of consistent training, but I sure feel better about this race than I did a month ago!  I hope I am not being overly optimistic, but worst case scenario I will learn for next time.  I am also hopeful that this will jump start my build for Grandma's Marathon!

Here's to a week of checking the race morning forecast every few hours, feeling like I'm running nothing (despite running more than I ever used to), and double-checking that I've packed everything!

Cue slacker status:  I ran 12 miles on March 16
& Amy ran 22!

Saturday, March 16, 2019


I wrote this about a March 2 event but forgot to hit publish until now!

My friend Dave puts together a Snowbuster Pikermi virtual event every year.  I always enter, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually run a hard 13.1 miles for it.  I typically take the longest or best run that I have within that date range and enter it.  This year the weekend fell 3 weeks before my next marathon, so I had my longest long run of this cycle planned – a 23 miler!

After a really rough patch in January, I took 8 days off running and decided I wasn’t going to run my March marathon after all.  It’s an inaugural race near where my parents live (where I grew up).  All along I was planning to run it completely for fun (without a time goal) and as a stepping stone en route to hopefully a PR attempt at Grandma’s Marathon in June.  At the end of January, I was feeling terrible and getting slower by the day, so I figured there was no point in running my for fun race when running wasn’t fun!

However, I guess those 8 days off plus another week easy was exactly what I needed.  Once I started running again (sans training schedule) I felt the best I have in months and was improving.  I was running quite a bit of mileage simply because I felt like it.  On February 23 I decided that if I could run 18 miles that day, then follow it with a 20 miler on March 2 and a 23 miler on March 9, I could do a 2 week taper and run my planned marathon after all – and I passionately wanted to!  February 23 didn’t exactly go as planned; I ran 20 instead of 18 and felt amazing doing it (I'd run an 18 in January so this wasn't completely unreasonable).  That meant I could do my 23 miler on March 2 and still have a 3 week taper in my long run distance, which is my preference, so I decided to run 23 miles on snowbuster day.  This also allowed me to do a long run with a workout on March 9, but that's another post...

I have several training buddies who are also marathon training, and two of them wanted to get in 21-23 miles that day as well, so it worked very nicely.  The weather was great; 32 degrees with a windchill of 26 degrees.  Since my training cycle has been rocky to say the least, I simply wanted 23 steady miles with nothing fast or fancy (i.e., no workout).  I really wanted to finish strong because I really needed a confidence boost to tackle a marathon on fewer long long runs that I typically do. If I bombed this one I couldn't exactly say, "It's okay, my other 23 miler went great!"  I told my friends that I didn’t want to run anything under 7:30 pace during the first half of the run, and that if I felt good I’d be open to dropping the pace later, but I left my watch under my sleeve for the entire run so really didn’t know what we were doing.  I am a big proponent of running by feel, and sometimes ignorance of pace can be bliss!

I started the run with Claudio, Rebecca, and Jack.  Jack is a high school junior who has been running with our group to prepare for track season, and his long run was 8 miles, so we began with an 8 mile loop and dropped him off.  I’d set a small bottle with a gel taped to it on the back of my car and picked it up on the run. I like to practice marathon aid stations like this during long runs; I never stop my watch to drink or fuel because race clocks don’t stop. We then tackled a 13 mile loop because Claudio was aiming for 21-22 miles.  The miles flew by and I felt strong.  The pace never felt hot and we talked non-stop the whole time.  Rebecca had a bit of a rough day and dropped back from us around mile 14.  I've run enough long runs that I can typically tell how things will hold up, and I felt like I was going to finish the 23 strong.
We eat 23 miles for breakfast
At 18 I knew for sure that 23 was going to be no problem at all.  I didn’t really realize we were speeding up, but my splits tell me that we did.  We made it back to our cars at 21 miles, and Claudio said he’d do 22.  I felt fine with finishing up a mile on my own after he stopped, but then he said he’d go to 23 with me, which was even better!

After we finished, he made a comment about our sub-7:00 miles, and I said, “I don't think I ran any miles under 7:00” and he said, "Yeah, yes you did”, which I discovered was true when I uploaded my run.  My last 5 miles were all 6:50-7:05, and my average pace for the entire run was the fastest I’d run a relaxed long run this season.  Before my injury in September 2018, I was running my entire long runs at 6:50-7:05 pace, and while my fitness is not back to that level yet, this was a small glimpse that it’s coming back.

I also set a PR on my rolling 7 days mileage this day!  I was pumped about this volume, but will admit that it was easier than most weeks I've done in the 80s with workouts (I did only one baby workout, a 3 mile tempo run within a 10 miler, plus a couple set of strides - the rest was easy running).

Our forecast called for 5-8 inches of snow overnight on March 2 into the morning of March 3.  I woke up on March 3 to about an inch of snow, and finished off my weekly mileage while it was still coming down.  We ended up getting very little more, so I'm going to say my snowbuster run worked to bust almost all of our snow.

I hope the Snowbuster Race Series continues every winter!  Now come on, spring!

It wasn't flat either

Sunday, March 10, 2019

A Marathon Training Cycle Like No Other

My training cycle for the Chisholm Trail Marathon has been synonymous with Midwest winter weather - up and down and unpredictable!  I am now 2 weeks out from race day, although it doesn't really feel like it.  My body actually feels amazing (not fatigued at all like I usually am at this point in a marathon cycle) - I credit the short cycle with practically no fast running for this.  I am also just starting to taper; I usually do a 3 week taper, and while I did do my longest long run 3 weeks out, I kept the week of March 4-10 high volume because my training was so abbreviated and because Grandma's Marathon in June is a bigger goal.

In December, I decided to run the inaugural Chisholm Trail Marathon for fun.  After not running for 8 weeks in October and November due to an injury, I was able to ramp up my mileage quickly.  My first outside run was 3 miles on November 23, and then the week of November 26 I mixed in a little more outside running with AlterG treadmill miles.  I gradually increased my outside runs while decreasing my runs on the AlterG.  The first week I felt like I could really run again was the week of December 3, then my mileage looked like this:

Dec. 3 - 64.8
Dec. 10 - 72.8
Dec. 17 - 75.7
Dec. 24 - 80.1
Dec. 31 - 73.7 (Dec. 31 was my last run on the AlterG)
Jan. 7 - 76.5
Jan. 14 - 75.1
Jan. 21 - 45.7
Jan. 28- 3
Feb. 4 - 30.4
Feb. 11 - 73.4
Feb. 18 - 85.6
Feb. 25 - 90.3
March 4 - 86.2

While that is 11 weeks of solid mileage, it was nearly all easy running, and the big differences between this cycle and my previous focused marathon builds are:
  • I started the build out of shape, whereas I have been already in pretty good shape going into every other recent marathon build.  My endurance came right back post-injury, but my speed still hasn't.
  • I didn't have solid consistent running before those 11 weeks; I had 8 weeks of cross-training, which I am just not convinced was very helpful.
  • I usually do more like a 20 week build, but in the 22 weeks leading up to this marathon, I'll have 12 weeks of running and 10 weeks off running.
  • I did very few workouts; most weeks were all easy running.
  • I only had two long long runs, a 20 and a 23.  Usually I do 4-5 runs of 20+.
  • I had two weeks of very little running (the second half of the Jan. 21 week through the first half of the Feb. 4 week), during which time I also decided to not run the marathon at all.
But here we are - things turned around and I AM running the marathon!  I am feeling so blessed and thankful for the opportunity to run it.  I'm thankful that God has brought me (almost) to the starting line healthy.  I know that I'm nowhere near PR fitness, but I've been improving and have some really solid mileage behind me - if I take only the 11 solid weeks into account I averaged 77.6 mpw, and I ran over 90 miles in a week for the first time ever.  I have truly let go of any time goals; when I first slated this race as "for fun" I secretly didn't want to run it if I didn't think I could break 3:00, but I've been able to move to the point of "Who cares?!" on that.  I'm running another marathon because I love to run marathons!

As always, I learned.  I learned that winter training can be very hard on my body (take away: next winter I will use the treadmill or take a day off if it's below zero or 33 degrees and pouring).  I learned that I feel fantastic running a lot of miles if they are all easy (take away: skip workouts or replace a real workout with strides if I'm feeling run down).  I yet again learned to keep persisting through rough patches, because my running will come back around, even when it feels like it won't (take away:  keep showing up!).  I was also yet again reminded of how amazing my running buddies all are; their support is unwavering no matter what paces I am running.  I am continuously reminded how much I love to run, also no matter what my paces are.  Of course getting faster and PRing are sure nice, and I hope to get back there, but I've made peace with the possibility that I won't and am super thankful to have running in my life either way!

While I'm cramming a couple more workouts in - mostly to gauge what I should aim for pace-wise on race day - this will be a fun experiment to see how I perform on mileage and very little fast running.  I seem to tolerate mileage really well, but once I throw workouts into the mix I am more apt to get injured.  I had a solid long run workout this morning, and I am pretty excited just to go out there and do my best!  My primary goals are to pace intelligently and by effort, and to finish with a smile on my face - and that would be a win no matter what my time or place!