Race Report: Richmond Marathon 2017

Well, that was fun.

Week of the marathon, everyone was losing their ever-loving minds over the weather (cold) and I was feeling a bit cruddy (stomach) and stressed (headache on Friday that was close to migraine territory).

I caught a ride down with a woman from my running group and her husband.  We went directly to the expo, shortly after it opened, and were in and out relatively quickly.  It’s fairly small but they had some gear vendors, a few other races (including Blue Ridge Marathon!  Sign up already and use RACEBLUERIDGE for 15% off!)  They also had the most brilliant vendor there – Thomas’ English Muffins!  With freshly toasted muffins for everyone!  Soo goood….

After that, we headed to our hotel.  We were both staying at the Holiday Inn Express that is downtown.  I would not stay here again.  My room was okay (other than having the filthiest carpet I have EVER seen in the room) but my friend got stuck with a room that had been recently smoked in and I had problems with a late check-out (more on that later).  They went to get lunch but I was feeling gross so I went to my room, unpacked, and literally sat on the couch while watching 3 hours of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and ate peanut butter filled prezels.  Don’t judge me.

A large group of us then went to dinner at Graffiato’s. It was very good!  It is supposed to be a tapas type place but we all ate our own plates.  I had the gnocchi and roasted beets.  Mmmm (Fun fact, the “beet effect” is more pronounced when you are dehydrated.  I literally thought I had a kidney rupture later on Saturday).

Saturday morning dawned quite cold but clear.  It was about 25-27.  I had an awesome race outfit, though, so I decided to stick with it.

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Skirt from InknBurn. Shirt from my friend who did a custom decal

I did have a throwaway top and a mylar blanket to wrap around my bottom while I waited.  It really wasn’t that bad.  By the time I walked to the group photo and then moved to the start, I was comfortable.  I did run with the blanket for the first mile but I think that was more because I was feeling a little nervous about my short shorts 😉

Mile 1 through 10 was awesome!  My goal pace was 9:45-10:15 and I was around 9:30 the entire time.  I saw my family at mile 9 and was really feeling great!

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See you in 10 miles!

My knee was holding up and the weather was absolutely perfect for me!  My only area of concern was that I knew I was behind on my nutrition.  My stomach problems of the past week made me nervous.  I really didn’t want to have to make a mid-race pit stop.

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So good!

Mile 11 had us coming out from the very flat river portion of the course and climbing a couple of hills, the first one short but quite steep.  And I felt something “go” in my back.  And my back began to progressively tighten.  I started rubbing it and running with my hand on my back to give some support.  No dice.  I then moved to a run walk plan.  I was muttering out loud “It’s okay, it doesn’t matter” as I watched my pace click higher and higher.  By the time I reached the long bridge at mile 15, I could hardly walk in a straight line and I couldn’t stand fully erect.  I was slowly stumbling along and crying like mad. I texted my husband and told him I didn’t think I could finish.  I texted my friend who was at mile 22 and told her I was screwed.

One of the big running groups in Richmond had a ton of coaches on the course and a lady with a giant apple hat (I think it was an apple) came running over and did everything she could to help me.  She tried rubbing my back and basically shoved Advil down my throat.  She told me to just get to medical at the other end of the bridge and they could help stretch me out so I could at least finish the race.  I thanked her and kept stumbling on.

I never did see the medical tent in that section but the Advil eased the pain a bit so I could get my head on right.  I had three big problems.  1. I could not run.  I was having spasms so bad that the pain was radiating down both legs just walking.  2. I had to check out the hotel by 1:00 because they refused a late check-out and told me I would be charged for an extra day if I was late.  3. I had to finish the race. I already bought a quarter zip and a Christmas ornament!  Oh, and 4. I was PISSED.

So, I texted my husband and told him to have my sweatshirt ready for me by the time I got to 19.  I was going to walk the entire effing back half, if I had to.  I gave him my room key and asked him to check out for me and then meet me at the finish (I was going so slow, he’d have plenty of time). I then let my BRF know what was going on and she said she’d meet me at mile 20.

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One sad panda, let me tell you

So, my friend is totally nuts but has a heart that’s bigger than anything.  She was also wearing a a pink Llama costume and had been spectating all morning.  After I left my husband, I was slowly slogging to mile 20, feeling pretty miserable.  I looked up and suddenly see this pink llama sprinting down the road towards me, hair akimbo and looking a bit crazy.  It was the funniest, and best, thing I have ever seen!  She then proceeded to walk with me for the next two miles.  We chatted, made snarky comments, admired the houses.  MarathonFoto got a picture of us but I won’t post it since she hates it but let me tell you, it is the BEST.  We’re both smiling and trying to act like the camera isn’t there (I was feeling pretty sheepish for walking).

Mile 22 had us back to the MRTT aid station.  My BRF stayed there but I think only because I hooked up with someone else from our group who was also injured and we were going to do a slow wog (walk/jog) together.  I got a bit more Advil and a few more hugs and then my new partner and I slowly moved on.  Somewhere in our wog, the meds kicked in and I was able to pick up the pace just a smidgen.

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So, so bad

I lost my partner somewhere in mile 24 but found another friend in mile 25.  By this time, my back was screaming again.  My new friend was also hurt but we decided that we needed to just “finish this shit” and started our final push (big thanks to our other friend who saw us to the last corner!) Our decent down the finishing hill was 100% profanity.  We were so done but we weren’t going to let the bastard get us down!

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Pretty much

Official time: 5:39.  Not my slowest marathon, so there’s that, but almost an hour slower than what my “C” goal was. Bah.

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Overall: The race itself was great.  Tons of support.  Tons of spectators.  Good course. I love the blanket at the finish.  I have no complaints about anything to do with the race.  Also, the support of my friends and family was, literally, everything.  I would still be sitting on a curb somewhere without them

With me, though?  That’s another story.  I am supremely frustrated by my body.  My training was on point.  The first half of the race was perfect.  I KNOW I can hit 4:30 but for some reason my body fails, yet again, to agree with me.  Maybe I should stop trying to run for time and just stick to “fun” races.  Maybe I should get serious and lose 30 more pounds so I’m not lugging so much around all the time.  Maybe I should try something else.  Maybe I should stop kidding myself.

Oh, hey, that took a dark turn.

To be continued…

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Five Days Until Richmond!

I can’t believe race day is almost here again! Almost all of the miles are done, the gear has been checked, the weather is being stalked.  Yikes!

Here’s a random hodge-podge of a mental dump….

How awesome is my race shirt?

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I’m a huge Tom Petty fan so this seemed quite fitting.  Seriously, 85% of my playlist will be TP.  I’m pairing it with this skort from InknBurnw-dapper-skirt-side2__08588-1493246784-1280-1280

Kinda BA, no?  Of course, it’s now supposed to be freezing at the start – which is good because I prefer cold but… whew, that’s cold!  Thank goodness I bought a new pair of heavy arm warmers!  They kept me cozy on my cool and drizzly 8 miler on Sunday so I am hopeful they will be enough.

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See the knee strap?  Yeah, that’s been bothering me for about 3 weeks now.  It’s getting better but I still can’t run without it.  I plan to tape the crap out of my leg (red and black skull KT tape!) and then put on the strap.  Just keep it together, body!

My goals range from 4:15 (pie-in-the-sky, perfect day) to 4:45.  Hell, I’d be “happy” with anything less than 5:xx – but I know I can do better than that!  The trick will be staying out of my freakin’ head. I need to do my best and forget the rest!

I’m planning to follow the same nutrition as I did for Blue Ridge, since it served me well there.  I’ve started my caffeine fast today and will start my NOx load tonight.  It is supposed to improve your blood flow.  When I’m doing a load, my veins get super big and it’s a bit freaky looking.  But, if it helps…

On Race Day, I will primarily use the Isagenix AMPED line – e+shot at the start and one or two during the race, the AMPED Fuel gels, AMPED hydrate in one of my water bottles (plain water in the other), and a few other things in case I need it (fruit bar from Trader Joe’s and some peanut butter pretzels).  I’ll also have some electrolyte capsules but I probably won’t need them if it is as cold as predicted.  I will also have some toast with almond butter and honey in my room and then a banana at the start line.

My family will be spectating (with my son wearing a Peanut Butter and Jelly costume and handing out fruit snacks and Nutter Butters for part it!) PB&J

I will see some of my MRTT sole sisters on the course.  I sure am lucky to have such a great support system.  I’ll be honest, though, I will be looking for the guys with the Jim Beam again!  They saved my bacon last year! 😀

Of course, my thought in the final .2 will be “don’t trip!!!”!

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Hell of a downhill finish!!

See you on the flip side!

 

Day 1, Again

Well, it’s back to Day 1 of marathon training!  Richmond will be my 8th marathon!  I can hardly believe that!

Training started nice and gentle with only 3 miles today.  Tomorrow has 6+ miles of intervals, though, before 6 am so I’m not so giddy about that… My training buddy and I are trying a plan from Runner’s World this time around.  We are trying to break 4:15.  Which is insane.  It’s especially insane because everything but the speed work days are to be at 11:00 minute miles or slower!

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After spending so much time trying to run faster, we are having a REALLY tough time going slower.  Like, really tough.  I understand the reason but I’m not sure how successful we will be with this.  Since my pace naturally slows so much during the marathon, I don’t know how training at this pace is going to help me “learn” the correct pace.  Maybe that’s “old school” thinking, though.  Maybe the physiological benefits of not trying to continually kill my legs will reap great benefits on race day.  I’m highly intrigued by how this will all unroll.

Needless to say, if this works, I’ll be over the moon!

Have you ever tried a plan from RW or spend the majority of your time at a much slower pace?  How did that work for you?

 

Race Report: Blue Ridge Marathon, 2017

I always have a hard time writing this report because there is SO MUCH to tell! Bear with me, this will be long (and has a ton of pictures). TL;DR It was awesome. You should do it 🙂

My race prep started Thursday night when my Sole Sister give me a fantastic send off.  She was unable to race this year due to family commitments so she did the next best thing by plastering my house with a fantastic sign, a light-up star, a bottle of champagne, and other goodies (including a shower cap because the weather guys said there would be rain)

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Friday morning I picked up the other two runners from my MRTT chapter and we made the trek to Roanoke with no problem.  We stayed at the Cambria hotel again and, once again, I say it’s the best choice.  We had a two bedroom suite that was as big as some apartments!  I highly recommend them!

We hit the expo as soon as it opened.  Everything was well managed and it seems like it was a bit bigger this year.  All race distances received a custom shirt. This was the first year with the double marathoners being an official distance so they even had their own race shirt! Not a lot of smaller races do that!  They are also SUPER soft!   We also received a free pair of socks from Farm to Feet.

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And there were more clothing options this year so I grabbed the best hoodie ever and a new buff that I will cut down and use as three head bands.

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I also picked up one of the limited prints and a couple of other things.

We had a lovely meal at Fortunato’s.  I had bolognaise with homemade spaghetti and my friend had a fennel and speck pizza.  We both had sides of roasted beets 🙂

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Highly recommend this restaurant!

 

We left the hotel at 6:30 and walked over to the start.  It was just over a mile and it was a nice little warm up.  It was sprinkling but not bad.  We dropped our bags with no problem, met up with some other friends, and then went to check out the VIP area that I had access to as part of being a blogger and having a team.  The indoor bathrooms were nice and we could have had some coffee or a muffin or fruit but we were good.

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Overlooking the finish area

The race started at 7:35 with a legit cannon and we were off!

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 I was running with my Peep as part of our running club’s challenge for the month.  Sunshine amused a lot of runners!

First stop was Roanoke Mountain.  The course was crowded for the first almost 3 miles but thinned out considerably when the half marathon and 10K people split off to go up Mill Mountain to the star.  It was a bit drizzly and we were running through the clouds as we went up the mountain.  As usual, the first overlook did not disappoint!

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First Overlook, on our way up Roanoke Mountain

At the top of the mountain, there was a big aid station with gummy bears, pretzels, bananas, and oranges.  It was nice to have some real food!

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Feeling goofy on the first peak 🙂

We then went back down into the mist and it soon turned into rain

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Then we went back up Mill Mountain to the star.

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They had awesome volunteers on “photo duty” – taking everyone’s pictures for them!

Then down for the alcohol!!

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First, the Moo-Mosa lady ❤ She was liberal with the champagne, too!
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Then the Mai-Tai ladies!
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Maybe not the smartest choice, so soon after the mimosa…

Then down we went to the town, along the river and greenway and through the soccer field (including what we referred to as the “rape and murder tunnel” – though I am sure it is perfectly safe!)  The weather was still holding so it was quite comfortable and it was very different from the sunny death march of last year!

And then… duh, duh, du  PEAKWOOD!

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Yeah, Peakwood is still a bitch.  You go up, and then down and think “oh, that wasn’t bad” and then you go UP!!  Luckily, I was prepared this year and didn’t want to die at the top!  Though my calves were screaming for mercy!

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Champagne and strawberries!

And then down we went, back to town.  Around mile 22, our friend who was supporting her husband (who placed second in his AG in the half, NBD… ) found us and was going to run with us but I told her that the police were reporting lightning and asked that she go back and find out what was going on.  Not long afterwards we were informed that the course would be closing.  There was a bus coming and our friend confirmed that we could finish on our own and get a medal or get on the bus and not.  By that time we were almost at mile 24 so we chose to not get on the bus.  They took down our bib number and confirmed that we understood that the course was now open to traffic.  We said yes and off we went!

This is the first time I have had a race called due to weather and I think they handled it very well.  The aid stations were packing up but they left cups out for anyone they could catch before they left and a lot of the course marshals stayed at their posts.  We only had to cross two bigger roads without a marshal and the traffic stopped for us with no problem.  Even the volunteers who were walking back to their cars would stop and cheer for us.  Seriously, Richmond Marathon may say they are the friendliest marathon but I think BRM is an EXTREMELY close second.  Every single volunteer went above and beyond to give us an excellent race!

So, the clock was ticking and the clouds were looming and we were hot-footing it for the finish.  We were all hurting but we knew we were almost done.  I was really happy I knew the course so I could give my team a heads-up before the last big hill and talk them through the finish.

They were tearing down the finish area but we still had a clock time and received our medals.  Also, our awesome friends at the finish secured food (and beer!) for us and helped us get to shelter before all hell broke lose.  Seriously, it would have been a different finish without their support!

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Got my belt buckle!
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We did this!

Good:

Views

Crowd support/aid stations/all the volunteers

How they handled the shut down

Race shirt

Medal

Not good:

The rain at the end but what can you do??

Overall:

Solid A! This remains my favorite race!  It still kicked my butt but I still don’t care.  I ran without a watch (until the very end, just so I knew where we were for our support crew) and we lingered over the views and at the aid stations and that made it awesome!  Yes, we could have been faster but we would not have had as much fun!  We chatted with all sorts of interesting people along the way and just had an amazing adventure.  I will definitely be back next year!

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48 Hours

48 hours from now I will likely be enjoying a mimosa as I descend Mill Mountain as part of the Blue Ridge Marathon.

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I’ll be missing my main partner in crime, though. Guess I’ll just have to drink for her!

This will be marathon #7 and Blue Ridge #2.  For a girl who never used to run, that’s saying something!

The weather is looking spotty.  Maybe rain.  Maybe crazy humidity.  At least there will be cloud cover so I won’t burn my ears and have massive burn lines on the back of my calves (CWX capris, apparently, make a very good sun barrier!).  I’m still packing sun screen, though.  And Vaseline.  And wool socks.

I’ve said it a million times but BRM can eat you up and spit you out if you aren’t careful.  As with last year, I plan on this to be a “joy” race.   I’ll start my Garmin (just so I can play with numbers later) and then stash it in my pack until the final mile.

My only goals are:

A) Keep my ess together enough to partake in the fun on Peakwood.  I was a mess at that point last year and I’m very sad I wasn’t able to hang out for a minute up there.

B) Keep my ess together enough to support anyone running with me.  I will have at least 1, and maybe 3, runners with me and I want to give them as much support as I can.

C) Have fun.

D) Get at least one good race picture.

Easy!

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Uh, since LR took 52 hours to be born, I may want to rethink this…

Overall, this training cycle has been fantastic!  I’ve been hitting paces that I’ve never dreamed of (my tempo runs are in the low 8s!  What the what??!) and I’m feeling super strong.  While I have no intention of “racing” on Saturday, I have been using my training to create a super solid base for the fall.  This race is a celebration of my hard work and a nice set up to my summer strength work.

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The new Wonder Woman looks fun but Lynda Carter will always be the one and only!

So, once more unto the breach, dear friends! Time to climb some mountains!

Blue Ridge Marathon: T minus 2 months

Apparently, we are two months out from the marathon!  How did that happen?  Since I’m following a training plan that I have mostly done before, I don’t feel like there are any big surprises for me right now – at least as far as the plan goes.

One thing that I have done is add in a lot more cross-training and I’m really seeing the benefits!  I try to do a light stretching program on Monday, swim or HIIT on Wednesdays, and boot camp or spin class on Fridays.  I think just moving my legs in a different direction is such a nice change for them!

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I’m becoming rather fond of the Fitness Blender couple.

The one “surprise” that we received is we found out that my BRF/training partner will not be able to join me at Blue Ridge due to a family commitment.  While we are both super disappointed, she found another marathon for the next week so we can keep training together (I can’t imagine trying to run at 4:00 am on a Tuesday without her!) The biggest problem is we’ll both be doing our marathons solo.  Not ideal.

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#perspective

Thankfully, the Blue Ridge Marathon has a ton of super friendly supporters.  I have literally never seen such awesome aid stations in a relatively small race!  Also, most of the participants are not trying to burn up the road (at least not where I run!) so it’s easy to strike up a conversation.  Still.  She’ll be missed.

In other “fun” news, I took my first fall in almost 4 years on our long run on Sunday.  At mile 7 we were commenting on how fast we were going and wondering what our average pace was so I decided to check it on my watch and BAM!  Down I went.  My elbow took the brunt of it, with just road rash and a super nasty bruise on my legs.  After I got cleaned up, we still pulled of two fast miles back to the start.  I managed to destroy my water bottle in the fall so I couldn’t finish the entire run but I was starting to feel it so was happy to stop at 9 miles.

 

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We raced the last two miles to try to catch the sunrise but didn’t quite make it.

After that little adventure, my family and I went to a local ski resort for the weekend so my poor kid would finally see some snow.  45 minutes of “ice skating” (more like swimming, it was 70!) and two hours snow tubing killed me. image1 (3).JPG

We won’t talk about the water park the next day…

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Good thing LR was willing to be my seeing eye kid because I couldn’t see a damn thing!

And so we soldier on!  Various work and school issues are creating some need for creative scheduling in the next few months but, we’ll figure it out.

If you’re training, how is it going?  Just logging the miles or are you mixing things up?  How do you keep it fresh?

I’m participating in a link-up with other Blue Ridge Marathon Ambassadors!  Check them out! (I’ll update the list as more post, because I’m an idiot and can’t figure out how to do it automatically via the link-up)

Meandering Echoes

BRM Training: week 8 update

I haven’t written much about my training plan because I feel like things are humming along, pretty much on track.  I’m hitting the hills like crazy, I’m doing boot camp on a regular basis (unheard of before), I’m doing more core work, and I’ve only missed a couple of workouts.  I’m also walking two miles every day at lunch still and that has been a big mental boost.

But, we are starting to get into the “long-ass long run” territory.  The kind where you need to remember to use Body Glide and pack all your fuel.

Last week’s LALR was 16 miles.  And let me tell you, it was a struggle from mile 1.  We had a forced “group hug” at mile 4 and things perked up a bit as the sun rose but, at mile 13, I was the closest I have ever come to just quitting and calling for someone to pick me up.  I was hurting and mentally miserable.  Thankfully, my stubborn streak kicked in and said “the hell you are!” so I turned on some 80s music and put my head down and finished it.  Mentally, it was a “win” but man, what a price.

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Of course we had to take turns climbing on the tree…
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I felt like an extra in the Blair Witch Project

So, skip ahead to this week’s LALR – 17 miles.  As you can imagine, we were feeling a bit… apprehensive.  Not only did we run faster than expected the day before on a ton of hills but we also accidentally ran an extra mile. Brilliant.  Add to that the fact that my BRF got about 10 seconds of sleep and was busting butt all night at her waitressing job, we were expecting quite the shit show.

BUT, we had a secret weapon!  I decided a few weeks ago that I wanted to do a Valentine’s theme race and this area is lousy with them.  There was a 5K that day so we planned to make that the end of our long run!  That meant doing 14 miles in an area that we aren’t overly familiar with but we were up for a challenge!   We parked at the starting area for the race and headed out to make the most of it.

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It’s a girl on a bike! (with a rabid squirrel!)
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Nice and flat!

We had such a good 14 miles!  The hills were rough but not anything we couldn’t handle, the conversation was flowing the entire time, and we were really up beat!  We ran that first section at a 10:09 pace.  I also set a half marathon PR.  What the hell??

Now on to part two!  We did a quick shirt change in the parking lot -sorry random people driving by – and ditched our packs/ added more Valentine’s obnoxiousness awesomeness. (true fact, I ran the entire distance in my tutu because I was afraid of trying to bend down and put it on after 14 miles)

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We were stupid happy. I think the endorphins hit ALL AT ONCE

We had two friends that we were hoping to see for a few minutes and they decided to run with us as one of them was a little beat up from mountain biking and trail running the day before (total BA).

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Skirts from Gone for a Run, puppy hats from Etsy

These ladies were such a blessing to have with us!  Somehow, this race was entirely up hill!  We’d run up a hill, turn the corner, and have to run up another stinking hill!  It was nuts!  Needless to say, the last 2 miles were painful and both of us were struggling.  Having our friends with us to chat and keep us distracted made the world of difference!  We finished that 5K still at 10:05.  Again, what the hell??

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I cannot tell you how much I love this!

The entire day was perfection.  Yes, we worked hard (and yes, we are sore today!) but it wasn’t a drudgery.  I wish I could bottle up all of that awesomeness and open it on every bad or difficult run.

I’ve been thinking a lot about motivation and attitude and about how a lot of the struggle is just getting out there and showing up.  You don’t know what the day/run will bring you but, if you don’t show up and put in your best effort every time, you’ll never be blessed with days like this ❤

 

Blue Ridge Training Plan, wks 2-3

See previous weeks here:

Weeks 1-2

Here is the plan for this week and next. I’m sorry I’m posting a bit late but Christmas kind of ate the weekend! Check out Week 1-2 for an explanation of the cross-training, etc. The only new thing is a 3-mile, hilly run with negative splits in week 3.  That’s just a three mile run with each mile a bit faster than the previous one.  Just remember, the key is to be a bit conservative with your first mile 🙂  This run will become progressively longer as the plan goes on so you want to practice not dying from the start!

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My biggest surprise from the training cycle thus far is my lack of core strength!  I took a tabata boot camp class on Friday for my cross training, since I had a bit more time in the morning, and I was excessively sore for two days and can still feel some of my muscles!  Whoa!  I’m going to try it again this Friday.  And then hope to run my fastest four miler on Saturday night.  This should be good 🙂

Have you started training yet?  How’s it going?  I tell you, starting a training plan the week of Christmas was one of my least brilliant ideas but I think it all sorted out okay!

Winners and Blue Ridge Marathon Training Plan wks 1-2

First off, I have some winners to announce! The grand prize was a free race entry to Blue Ridge, second place was a cute mountain necklace, and third place is some BR swag. I wish I could give race entries to everyone!  But, if you didn’t get it, you can still use BRMFRIENDS to receive 15% off your entry.  Everyone has been contacted.  Thanks for playing along!

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Now, on to training!  If anyone feels like joining me, here is my training plan for weeks 1 and 2. I’ll post at least a week ahead so you have time to plan.  The Blue Ridge Marathon is listed as the toughest road marathon in the US because of the 3 mountains that we climb: Roanoke Mountain, Mill Mountain (with the star), and Peakwood.  If you are training for this, hit the hills hard and try to up your core work!  Here’s my plan, in a nutshell:

 

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This plan follows a Sunday start to the week

The optional cross training on Mondays is Planks, Bridges, Russian Twists, pikes, etc. 20-30 mins – there are several core-centric plans online that you can follow. See Runner’s World for good ideas. Remember to roll!

The cross-training on Wednesdays is boot camp, HIIT, PiYo, plyometrics, etc. 30-45 minutes.  Choose dynamic exercise that work on stability as well as strength.  Remember to roll! This is in addition to a short run so, ideally, you should do an easy run before the cross-training.

The cross-training on Fridays is swimming, spinning, elliptical, stair climber, etc. 30-45 minutes. Choose exercises that will work on endurance without excessively fatiguing your legs (don’t do all the time on a stair climber!)  Remember to roll!

The runs on Saturdays should be faster, closer to your race pace.  The runs on Sundays should be as hilly as you can find and 30-60 seconds slower than race pace.

Hill repeats are, basically, to find a nice hill that is long and a fairly decent incline.  Push up at a steady pace, crest the hill and go 5 steps past the crest before jogging down for recovery.  Later in the plan you can practice declining repeats where you go easy uphill and let it loose on the downhills.  Remember to include about a mile warm up and cool down.  These workouts translate well to the treadmill. If you don’t feel like repeats, make it a progressive hill run on a treadmill – keep cranking the incline until you are maxed out and power hiking for a bit and then use the decline, if your ‘mill has that feature, and practice blowing down the hills.

For a short tempo run, warm up for a mile at an easy pace and then do the rest of the time at your 10K pace.  Follow up with at least a half mile cool down, if you have time. These are also great treadmill workouts.

10 Tips for Your First Marathon

Some random thoughts that are rolling around in my head right now:

  1. Your nutrition and hydration plan should begin two days before the race.  In other words, eat quality food and drink your water!
  2. Have a game plan for the expo, if it’s a big one.  If you are going to it late in the day before your race, try to just hit the highlights.  You don’t want to be on your feet all day.
  3. Wear comfortable shoes to the expo.  I’m sure your boots are awesome but this isn’t the day for them.
  4. Have a solid fueling plan for race day.  Write it down on your arm if you have to!  I have a terrible time remembering to fuel so I will write down the miles that I need to do so and then I stick to the plan!
  5. Wear your name on your bib or shirt.  Sharpies and electrical tape work wonders!  Having people call your name can be a big boost – just don’t forget that you’ve done that and then wonder how people know you (BT, DT)
  6. Don’t get too caught up in your time goals.  Try to find something every mile that makes you smile.  Read the signs, high five the kids (don’t go crazy and tire yourself out, though!), give the thumbs up when you’re too tired to wave.
  7. Thank the volunteers.  I try to holler out a thank you at each water stop, even if I don’t stop.  We wouldn’t be running without them!
  8. Consider running a mile or two without music, especially near known cheer stops.
  9. If you’re struggling and just can’t smile for the cameras, consider making a funny face or doing something goofy. I’ve been known to try jumping even though I could only clear about an inch and also pretending to be an airplane.
  10. Don’t look down at your Garmin at the finish (or you’ll have a picture of the top of your head). Keep walking when you’re done.  Don’t stop right on the mat, walk to clear the chute.

Most important, try to take it all in!  You’ll never run your first marathon again so try to savor every moment, even the tough ones.

What tips would you add?