Tomorrow I’ll Be an Ultra Runner!

I’ve been pretty quiet lately because the only things I do anymore are:

  1. run
  2. eat
  3. sleep
  4. work (where I try not to sleep)
  5. eat some more

Last December (maybe?) I got the awesome idea of running a 50 mile trail race – on my birthday – and to drag my BRF along for the ride.  She’s a sucker up for an adventure so, for the past 13 weeks we have been running. all. the. miles.

For real.

Tomorrow is our longest run in the training cycle – 31 miles.  For those who don’t know the metric system by heart, that’s a 50K (well, close enough for government work… Any bets that I get that last .07 on my watch before I stop? *hint, that’s a sucker’s bet!*).  Anything over 26.2 is an ultra but a 50K is one of the most common ultra race distances.  And this will be my first time hitting it.

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We haven’t run in THREE days (OMG!  Do we even know how to run any more?!  I’m just kidding. Kind of.) and the weather has been all over the place with the rain/snow/sleet predictions.  We/I am going nutty!  It’s like we are practicing our taper madness now in addition to having it for real in six weeks!

I really do want to get back in the blogging habit so my goal is to write about our run by Monday night.  I’m sure it will be a riot!  Check back in and make sure I didn’t die!  Also, check out my IG feed – I’m much more active there.

(Ack!  I had to just add a new category for my tags – “Ultra”!)

 

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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?

 

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.

Grace and Progress

My fifth marathon (wait, what?! how did that happen??) is in just over 3 weeks.  I have been working harder than I ever have before.  I have been running at 3:30 am on a weekday

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Notice the time… The glowing things are LR’s zombie, climbing out from his grave
in crazy hot and humid conditions, in rain, in fog, mile repeats on the track, 13 miles on the treadmill, you name it!  I ran 192 miles in September and seriously considered starting my 20 miler at 10 pm on Sept. 30 so I could have 8 of those miles round me out to 200. I have sometimes hit my pace goals. I have also, more often than I’d like, missed my pace goals (Spoiler alert: Navy-Air Force Half Marathon review coming up soon…)

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My thoughts after Saturday’s 20 miler
After I posted about my run Wednesday morning (the 3:30 am one) and complained because I felt like I was so slow, my friend commented “You are at the tail end of a tough training cycle, emotionally and physically. Give yourself some grace and know that you’ll be able to do so much more on fresh legs.”

Grace. That is one thing that I have not done this training cycle.  I have beat myself as hard as can and have become frustrated when I can’t squeeze out more.  I have not been grateful that I can run 12 miles before work and not be totally dead on the sidewalk. I have not been thankful that my lungs are strong and my heart is healthy.  (my hamstring is cranky, but we’re not talking about that) I have not appreciated the thought that, while it might be a little nutso to run two marathons in two weeks, I don’t believe it will break me.  Me.  The person who just five years ago couldn’t even walk a mile without needing to sit down.

Part of my frustration is I feel like the nice weather is causing everyone around me to set the roads on fire, right when I’m struggling the most.  I’ll admit, I’m having a Nancy Kerrigan “why me??!” moment.

I also am having a hard time believing that my sub-par performance will get me to my goals on race day (the new race predictor from Runner’s World isn’t helping matters, either)

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What progress really looks like. I feel like I’m in the bottom of that last pit but I’m about ready to climb out!
I think I just have a bad case of the end-of-training nuttiness.  I need to just keep my head down and keep following my plan.  I am running the Army Ten Miler on Sunday (4th time!) and I really hope some nice, solid work will help me get my head out of my butt.  If you see me out there, feel free to yell at me to quit whining and start working!

In the end, though, I need to remember to give myself some grace and be grateful for what I can accomplish, regardless of the time on the clock.  I hope you do the same, wherever you are on your journey.

 

Quick Updates

Wow, have things been crazy here!

  • A lot of emotional energy is going towards some family emergencies – good thoughts for my dad would be appreciated as well as for Little Runner.  LR is physically fine but is having a hard time dealing with all of the crappy stuff that’s going down right now.
  • The rest of my energy is going to training. I must say, it is going very well – I feel I am on track to break 4:30 at the Marine Corps Marathon!  If I do, that will be a 30+ minute PR from last year and a 90 minute improvement from my first one in 2013!
  • I’m getting tired.  Taper is coming soon(ish), right?
  • I’m running racing the Navy Air Force Half Marathon on Sunday (first time!)  and am pushing for a PR, provided the chest cold I’m currently battling has moved out by then.
  • I was chosen to be a Race Ambassador for the Blue Ridge Marathon!!  Stay tuned to more information, when I have it – including a registration discount code!
  • My Facebook activity is almost nil now, due to FB hiding posts.  Check me out on Instagram if you want training updates, etc.  I post there almost every day.

That’s all for now. More soon!

(Let me know if you’ll be at the NAF on Sunday!)

Maladjusted

This weather! It’s a bitch, isn’t it?  After chilling out all spring we are suddenly in the horrible throes of summer. It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.  Wrong!  It’s both!

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I thought we would start adjusting to it by now but it still smacks me around every other day.

Sunday’s 9 miler, though shaded, was so freaking hot that I had to make my running buddies switch to intervals – and I could barely make it even at that!

Today’s run was to be a 6 mile tempo with two miles of warm up, 2 miles at 9:00-9:15 pace, and 2 miles cool down.  The warm up went “okay”.  I had mapped out a 1 mile out-and-back by my house so it was easy to break the whole workout into thirds.  I left my water bottle at the start.  I took things nice and easy.

Mile 1 – 11:40

Mile 2 – 11:07 (I was trying for a legit warm up, for a change)

Time to hit the tempo pace!

Mile 3 – 9:17.  What the eff? I knew what my effort felt like and I was shocked by that number.  I was sure I was 9:05, at the slowest.

I knew the return mile would be more difficult because it is a gradual up hill.  I had planned on getting the first mile closer to 9 and then the second one closer to 9:15.  I quickly realized that the second would be much slower than that.

So, I let the floodgate of negative self-talk fully release and I was mentally done.  I ran  for a hundred yards, stopped my watch, berated myself, adjusted something (everything was bothering me – my music, my flapping and squelching arm fat, my soaking wet glasses – yes, it was so humid, I kept soaking my glasses), and dug further into my hole.  Finally, at mile 3.48 – I NEVER stop on an odd number like that! – I said, “screw this” and walked home with my tail between my legs. I didn’t even do a slow jog.  I just walked.

Oh, when I got home, my coffee maker broke.

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Salt in the wound

Needless to say, I was back to questioning all my life choices…

And then I read NYC Running Mama‘s post on heat acclimation .  Very interesting!  According to her charts, my pace should have been 9:15-9:30.  In that case, my 9:17 was perfect and not even close to being worth my little hissy fit.  Perspective, yo.

What does this mean?  It means I need to suck it up and get it done and that my mental game sucks.  Thankfully, this is something that I can fix.  And, if a chart gives me mental “permission” to pull it back a bit or to not beat myself up, you can bet that bastard is going on the fridge today!

As for you?  I’m giving you all “permission” to be kinder to yourself on these hot and horrible runs.  Do you best but don’t load yourself down with unrealistic goals.  Stay hydrated – maybe slip in your favorite frosty beverage a few times – and be patient.

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