Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Week 25: Beating the boredom

Only five weeks until the marathon, and our runs are increasing in both time and distance. One of the minor issues I have been dealing with lately is boredom (and I certainly am not implicating Chris here---he puts a lot of effort into keeping our runs fun and entertaining, and I could not do this without him).

We live in a small town, so we do not have many (or any) large parks with jogging paths, dedicated bike/pedestrian lanes, or even sidewalks--and the ones we do have are often not in the best shape. Many roads do not have decent shoulders, and at the same time, are heavily used by trucks; speed limits on some of these "residential" streets exceed 35 or 40 MPH. We also live in a moderately hilly area, which presents another challenge to our training. So when I am planning our routes, I try to take into account our safety first and foremost, as well as wear and tear on our bodies---some hill training is important and necessary, but it is not something you need or want to do every day!

So we have our tried-and-true safe routes, but at this point they are all getting old and stale, especially when you factor in that we have, for example,  four different 3-milers, which is great....but then our 6-miler is two of those routes combined, and our 9-miler is 3 of those put together, and the 12-miler is all four mashed up. Technically they may be "different routes" but really we are covering the same ground over and over again.

That's why it's wonderful when we can mix it up a little and get out of Dodge, especially for our long runs. It isn't always possible as some weekends Chris is on call and has to stay close to home, but this past weekend we were able to check out a fantastic new trail about 30 minutes away. It was completely revitalizing to run somewhere new and check out some unfamiliar scenery, especially over 18 long miles. Unfortunately, our 20 mile run (coming up in two weeks) has to be in town; this will be the ultimate route mash-up with a few unavoidable big hills---including my nemesis hill that I have yet to conquer--but we will walk them if we have to!

Weekly stats:

Mon    9/17      4.03 miles in 42:26

Wed    9/19       8.74 miles in 1:31:14 (this was supposed to be a full 9 but we had to get home in a hurry)

Thu     9/20       5.03 miles in 53:01

Sat       9/22      17.64 miles in 3:25:00  (this was supposed to be a full 18 but we missed a mile marker and so cut it short a bit. Also we walked 1/2 mile at mile 16, but ran the last mile in strong....this is what we call "good enough"!)

Total miles:      35.44

Quick fundraising update:  we are now up to $1547 raised for Fisher House---thank you!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Week 24: Step-back week before a biggie!

This week our midweek mileage increase slightly, while our long run cut back 4 miles for some much needed recovery. Of course, next week we have our massive 18 miler to look forward to, so we were quite grateful that our long (short) run this week went so well.

This past Saturday was just beautiful, and a perfect day for a nice 12 miles through a nearby forest. We ran by a lake on a shady path in awesome 55 degree weather---we didn't even have to get up that early, which was fantastic! We fueled properly and kept a nice pace (I compared this 12 miles to the 12 miles we ran August 11--when that was our longest run yet--and our pace has improved by 25sec/mile). When we finished, we made a stop at the local Sheetz for yummy egg and cheese sandwiches, perfect fuel for the car ride home.

I confess it is not all amazing runs in incredible weather--as the mileage creeps up, so do the lingering effects of all that running. We are pretty much in a constant state of mild soreness at this point; some muscle or another, a knee or an ankle...we are achy but somehow able to soldier through the hours on our feet. Only a few more weeks to hold on!

Weekly stats:

Tue   9/11      4.03 miles in 41:18

Wed   9/12      8.04 miles in 1:26:28

Thu   9/13       5.01 miles in 51:09

Sat      9/15      12.05 miles in 2:08:43

Total miles:    29.13 miles

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Week 23: Thank you

It is September 11, and I think it is somehow fitting that we can announce today we have met our fundraising goal for Fisher House. Many of the veterans and families who are helped by Fisher House were inspired to serve our country by the terrible events that took place on this day 11 years ago. Chris and I would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to those soldiers and families, as well as to the family, friends, colleagues, and even complete strangers who donated to Fisher House on our behalf. As of today, we have collected $1,297, and we know it will be put to wonderful use.

In training news, I can report with some relief that Chris and I were able to complete our 16 miles last Saturday. We were certainly exhausted at the finish, and truth be told we were still feeling a bit sore two days later---but we finished at a run (well, maybe a jog or a shuffle--but not a walk.)! Expresso gel at the one hour mark, Sports Beans at hour two, and full hydration packs for each of us did the trick. Both of us, though, finished with only a few sips of water left, so on future longer runs we may need to find a spot to refill our packs.

Weather has turned cooler and less humid for now so our runs should be a little more pleasant!

Weekly stats:

Monday 9/3        4.02 miles in 41:49

Wednesday 9/5    8.06 miles in 1:27:00

Thursday 9/6       4.06 miles in 40:22 (had to do this one on my own as C had yet another looooong day at work; got a late start and finished in the dark, I think that's why my pace was a little faster than usual!)

Saturday 9/8        16.04 miles in 3:01:00 (this was a mile longer, yet 68sec/mile faster than last week's debacle)

Weekly total:      32.18 miles

Again, thank you to everyone who helped us achieve our fundraising goal! Now Chris and I just have to get our creaky bods to DC---only 47 days to go!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Week 22: Improper fueling=Impossible run

Our marathon is only 8 short weeks away, and still we are learning about ourselves and the proper way to train for this crazy endeavor. Chris, even with four prior marathons under his belt, has never really prepared to this degree; 12-13 miles is probably the longest he has run aside from the marathon itself. Running regularly four times/week is also new to him. This being the case, he has never really had to deal with issues of energy or electrolyte replacement during a non-race run. Plus, he's super tough! Water is for finishers, don't you know. :-)

When I trained for my marathon 10 years ago, I followed the recommended advice to refuel---some sports drink or energy gel for any run over one hour, and about every 30-45 minutes after that. I felt pretty good doing that and was able to get through all of my long runs without crashing. Yet this time around, though we have had many runs over an hour (especially at our pace), I haven't taken in anything but water. Why? Mostly because I've felt okay. For weeks I've been carrying around the same 3 packets of fruit snacks, thinking I'd need to break them open for a little sugar, but I never did.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday we both crashed and burned around mile 12 of a 15 mile run. And we'd taken a few walk breaks even before that point. It was not how I'd hoped the day would go at all---though as Chris points out, we had to finish 15 miles, and we did. We just finished walking instead of running.

A number of factors contributed to our troubles. The day was warm and humid. Not the worst heat we have run in by far, but certainly the longest amount of time we have been out in such weather. I am a heavy sweater, and have come home from numerous runs covered in powdery salt. I don't think this is great under most circumstances, but two hours into a run, if I am losing that much sodium, I should probably be taking some in to replace it. Water is great but if the sodium and potassium levels get out of whack, there can be serious consequences.

I also had signs of heat exhaustion again--nausea, as well as goosebumps that made the skin on my arms look like an orange peel for a few hours after we got home. I was taking in what felt like a ton of water, but I was sweating so much out, I don't think my body could keep up. For me, it was these symptoms that made me finally stop running, though my legs were feeling extremely tired too. This could also have been from a lack of carbohydrates; we ate those fruit snacks, all three packs, but I don't think it was near enough to keep us going. I think this was what ultimately made Chris stop to walk, but whereas I had almost no energy to start running again (until the last 1/4 mile, gotta finish strong), he could have run much sooner.

We don't want another run like yesterday's, so we decided to check the Marine Corps Marathon website to see what food and drink will be offered on the course. Since you don't want to try anything new on race day (food, drink, shoes, socks, bra, whatever--it should be tried and tested), it is helpful to train with the items that will be available. So we are stocking up with:

Lemon-lime Gatorade

Double Expresso and Razz Clif Shot Energy Gels

Jelly Belly Sports Beans

I think we will also make sure to eat a good dinner the night before our long runs, with a good balance of carbohydrates and protein.  Next week's long run is 16 miles; we will see if our new fueling strategies make a difference. Fingers crossed!

Weekly stats:

Monday 8/27    3.01 miles in 32:14

Tuesday 8/28    7.01 miles in 1:15:44

Thursday 8/30   4.05 miles in 42:43

Saturday 9/1      15.03 miles in 3:06:32  (this is a 12:25 pace, even with mostly walking the last 3 miles. A completed marathon at this pace would take under 5 1/2 hours, still well within the 14 min/mile pace and 7 hour finish cutoff time---Phew!)

Weekly total:  29.1 miles  (we ran more than a marathon this week--yay!)

*************FUNDRAISING DEADLINE IS 9/21/12 (19 days from now)**************

We pledged $1000 and have raised $775 so far. Please help if you can by clicking here ! Here is a recent article about some of the good Fisher House is doing for our military families (with help from Newman's Own and the Armed Services YMCA).

Thanks for reading!