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Marathon Training Program

June 23, 2011

I just signed up for a Distance Training Program through PR Training Programs. Didn’t I just say that I’m going to take it easy this summer and focus on endurance and speed? I guess I can’t help myself – I just love to run!

I was really excited when I heard about the program yesterday because it’s the only one that I’ve found that does long runs on Sundays. They have a beginner’s marathon program. Even though I’ve run a half marathon, I still consider myself a beginner. Plus they have speed workouts on a local track every Wednesday. I guess I’m multi-tasking this way since I wanted to improve my half marathon time.

I’m also looking forward to the seminars/information on hydration & fueling during races, and other tips & tricks. I missed out on these with Team in Training because all of the events were on Saturdays.

I don’t have a specific marathon in mind. Maybe I’ll find one in November somewhere. I’m registered for the Marine Corps Marathon 10K in October, so the only other distances I will race in September and October are a 5K, 8K, or 10K.

I understand that this is a well attended program. I don’t run in large groups except at races and there are only 3 of us — Angie, Sedric and me — when we train on Tuesdays. This will be very different for me, but a lot of fun!

My First Half Marathon

June 14, 2011

Here’s my post-race review of my first half marathon, the Zooma Annapolis Half Marathon, which I ran on June 5, 2011. It’s taken me a while to finally create a post summarizing the race. I’m alternating between getting life back to normal and plotting/planning my next race. Yes I finished the race running, on my feet and under my own power, and not in last place (in the race or my age group). Anyway, this is what a new half marathoner looks like. I don’t think I look like I just ran 13.1 miles! 🙂

First, I absolutely had a blast. Thanks to my amazing LLS TNT teammates, coaches, and mentors, and the incredible spectators, I remained upbeat throughout the entire race…even when my calves locked up at mile 11.5. I wasn’t nervous, didn’t start out to0 fast, was able to stay on my goal pace, didn’t get frustrated as I waited in line for the port-o-potties while the clock kept ticking, and learned that my torso sweats more than the rest of my body thanks to my hydration belt.

Race day was overcast and about 70 degrees all morning; it even drizzled a few times. Did I mention there were hills on this course…lots of hills. And two bridges (one small and one big). The big one is the Naval Academy Bridge and we got to cross it TWICE.  Have you ever seen this bridge? If not, here’s an aerial picture.

Imagine running over this bridge after running up a HUGE hill after mile 9. If that’s not enough, there’s another smallish hill after you cross this bridge on the return trip. AND if that’s not enough there’s a last hill just before the finish line. If you need to train hills for a race or endurance, head to Annapolis!

Because the weather was mild, I really didn’t get very hot and didn’t hydrate enough. Usually my face heats up and that’s my signal to drink more. As a result, I didn’t realize that I was losing so much fluid and I think this is why my calves cramped starting around Mile 10 while the rest of my legs felt fine. The cramps released as I drank Gatorade and Muscle Milk post-race. Normally I’m very vigilant about drinking during the walking intervals, but I think I got so caught up in the excitement of running that I wasn’t drinking frequently enough. Since I had never run the entire 13 miles before the race, I didn’t realize that my Sports Beans wouldn’t be enough nutrition to replace the amount of calories I burn. I’ve used them on 10 mile runs with no problems, but 13.1 miles is a long distance from 10 miles (OK, it’s 3.1 miles longer, but you know what I mean). It’s all good…I’ve gotten advice from my more experienced runner friends, and I have a better nutrition and fueling plan going forward for both training and racing.

So what’s next? I’m spending the summer working on my speed and endurance. I’m going to cross-train more and try to incorporate other sports such as swimming and maybe tennis. Also, I stopped wearing heels around February/March because I was afraid that I would sprain my ankle. No more – the heels are back!

Up next is Alex’s Run (a charity 5K) on June 26, then maybe a 5K or 10K on July 4. I’m deciding whether or not to run in the Parks Half Marathon in September. I’m leaning towards yes, but we’ll see. My sights are set on a full marathon next year/spring. I think I’m going to break with the tradition of doing a longer race every year around my birthday. These June races are hot!

Happy running!

I’m race ready

June 2, 2011

Zooma Annapolis Half Marathon – I’m ready for you. All of the homework has been done, all of the equipment has been tested, my gear and food are packed, and I’m going for my last “tune up” at the chiropractor today. I’m going early to Annapolis to have a mini-vacation and to rest up until the race. The fear of the unknown is dissipating and now the excitement is kicking in. Hopefully we’ll have great weather on Sunday. Today is gorgeous; windy but no humidity. It might be hot and humid on Sunday like it’s been most of this week…if so, there’s nothing I can do about it. I’ll run this race — one step at a time — until I reach 13.1 miles.

Taper = Don’t do anything stupid

May 27, 2011

I have one more week before the half marathon. Runners know that you have to taper before a race to allow your body time to recover and to have fresh legs. In addition to tapering, I make sure that I don’t do anything stupid during this period. Now is not the time to tweak, pull or aggravate anything. I’m not testing any new equipment or clothing, except my Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Team in Training (TNT) singlet to make sure it doesn’t rub anywhere.

This has been quite a week with the realization I’m going to run a half marathon. The sonic boom you may have heard on Tuesday was my head exploding. In the big picture, this wasn’t a bad thing. It allowed me to release pent up anxiety that I didn’t even know I had. Plus there’s nothing wrong with feeling like I did. After all 13.1 miles isn’t short and I’ve never attempted a race of this distance. What also helped was finally meeting my other TNT teammates. I haven’t been able to train with them due to scheduling, but it turns out many of us have been feeling the same way. With mutual reassurance, we’re all ready to tackle this challenge. I have one last long run (6 miles) on Sunday and from there I plan to just keep moving (walking) and taking it easy. I’m going to make a list of everything I need to take with me and not wait until the last minute to pack.

Tick…tick…tick…Zooma Annapolis Half — here I come. 🙂

Barefoot and Minimalist Running

May 24, 2011

I’m a big fan of barefoot/minimalist running; however my body mechanics are not strong enough to do either at this point. The good news is that you can strengthen your body, but it takes time and patience. Patience is especially important because many people get injured trying to do too much too soon.

My friend Melanie wrote a beautiful post on barefoot running. If it’s something you’ve thought about, she has great info for you to consider. If it’s something you’re already doing, then you’ll nod your head in agreement as you read it: Barefoot Running: Stepping Out of the Pain Game

Perhaps one day I’ll be able to run in minimalist shoes, but I’m not there yet. I was a ballet dancer for 18 years. I had extremely strong feet and arches that allowed me to dance en pointe (on my toes). After I retired and as I’ve aged, my feet/ankles have gotten weaker and my arches are starting to drop. On the upside, the exercises needed for barefoot running are good for my body, even if I stay in shoes. No matter what I do, as I said I’m a big fan of barefoot and minimalist running!

Mental training ramps up

May 18, 2011

I just read a great quote:

“You run the first half of a marathon with your legs – the second half with your heart.”

 ~Dean Karnazes

 The Team in Training coaches say that this quote holds true for half marathons as well. My spin on this is you run the first half of any race with your legs and the last half with your heart/will.

I know this will be true for the Zooma Annapolis Half Marathon. I just checked my countdown clock and the race is 18 days from today. 18 days?!? Time is moving REALLY fast.

Lately, I’ve been concentrating on the physical side of training. I’ve been rehabbing injuries and focusing on form. However, there is only so much that I can do with the physical so I’m ramping up my mental training. It’s not that I haven’t been doing mental training, but I am looking for ways to get me “over the hump” during the race.

I’m going break down the 13.1 miles into 3 minute intervals – 2 minutes running/1 minute walking. This should keep my legs fresh enough to finish. However, I think the mental side will need to kick in at several key points. At the start line — I don’t want to get pulled into running faster that I’m able just because others are running a faster pace or because I can see the sweep truck over my shoulder (haha). Probably around Mile 7 since this has been the point when the ITBS starts rearing it’s ugly head. I’ve been strengthening my adductors and hip flexors, and focusing on form so this milestone may not be a problem. Definitely at Mile 10 since this the the farthest distance I have run to date. The way I see it is when I get to Mile 10,  I’m only a 5K away from the finish line and I run 5Ks all the time. They take me about 40-ish minutes to complete so I guesstimate that I’m about 45-60 minutes out depending on how my legs feel.

I’ve been reading a lot of books written by ultrarunners and endurance athletes. While a half marathon isn’t an ultra by any stretch of the imagination, the writers have great tips on how they keep going when their body just wants to stop on the side of the road. I just got 5 new books to read (OK I admit that I like to read), and I’m sure they will have great info. I’m also going to read one of the biographies on the day before the race. That always puts in me in a positive mindsetto run.

Less than 3 weeks to go

May 17, 2011

First the great news. I exceeded my fund raising goal for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training! Thank you to all of my friends and family for your support. Now I can focus on just running and finishing the race. No matter how long it takes me, my time is still a PR. 🙂

I can’t believe that the Zooma Annapolis Half Marathon is in less than 3 weeks. Lately, there has been lots to do both personally and professionally. Work is busy and in this economy that’s a good thing. No worries…it just means time management a huge priority.  I’ve rearranged my schedule and re-prioritized some things to make it work. Plus it’s been raining for the last four or five days, which makes training outside problematic. Again, not a big deal. I’ve been going to the gym to run on the treadmill. I’m not afraid of getting wet, but the last time I ran in bad weather I got sick for a month.

I’ve really been focusing on form and endurance, and doing lots of exercises to strengthen my core, glutes, and adductors. Now that the race is looming, I’m more focused on form, getting stronger, and finishing the race. I know I’m not yet strong enough to run the entire 13.1 miles or even 3/4 of it like I’ve been doing in other races. When I get tired I throw my left foot and it’s causing the muscles in my leg to overwork. Instead I’m going to use Jeff Galloway’s run/walk/run method. I’ll run 2 minutes and walk for 1 minute, then repeat the sequence until I’m done. I used this approach on Sunday on the treadmill and finished with an average pace of less than 13 minutes per mile for 5 miles (my best pace for that distance since October 2010). The best part is my legs were still fresh after 5 miles and I had no hip pain at the end of the run!

So after this last workout, my confidence level really improved. My plan is to run more times during the week to up my mileage and log time on my feet. I still haven’t run 13 miles yet,but I’ve run 10 before. I’m strong and committed so I know I’ll finish.

After the half, my trainer, Sedric Otuya and I are going to shorten the distances and work on speed and endurance. That way I’ll beat my PR for my next half. When is that? With me you never know. I’m only registered for the MCM10K this fall…so far.

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