Saturday, December 31, 2011

Lessons learned. Don't stop doing the little things when it comes to training.

Wednesday: 8X 2:35 hard w/ 90 seconds recovery jog (5:58-5:38 mile pace) 2 mile w/u, 1/2 mile c/d
Thursday: 50 min @ 7min pace, 20 min elliptical
Friday: 45 minutes easy
Saturday: 15 miles in 1:39:40 (6:38 avg) 7:09, 6:39, 6:32, 6:44, 6:43, 6:44, 6:36, 6:33, 6:39, 6:32, 6:28, 6:30, 6:34, 6:25, 6:43 + 1 mile jog around the loop (legs stiff)
Sunday: whatever I feel like, up to 8 miles

Well that's over.

Saturday's run finished off one of my least enjoyable running weeks in a while. Something I did (maybe the crazy 18 miler in Athabasca) caused my calves to remain extremely tight for days. After jogging Tuesday, I asked Houston to run an easy workout with me Wednesday. Normally, I would run 800's in about 2:35-2:45, this time we did them in -12C in winter gear on a trail neighboring the Bow River. Because neither of us wore enough clothing, it took a while for us to get warmed up. I'm not completely sure because I cleared my Garmin out yesterday, but I doubt the first two intervals were much faster than 6:00, and we were working to get that. On the third interval I finally found my legs, and the workout improved a great deal from then on.

Bike path along the Bow River, imagine snow and ice.
Thursday brought another treadmill run in a hotel near the Edmonton International Airport. I was running along at just under 7min pace when my calves seemed to cramp up right at mile 7. I jumped on the elliptical to see if I could loosen them back up but the tightness remained. Worried that I was going to end up with another calf strain, I stopped my run early and traded Friday's 10 mile for a 45 min jog.

There are a number of reasons of why my calves are so tight. First, I wore calf sleeves almost the whole time in Canada because my legs were always cold. Second, were were running on ice which means we were constantly sliding backwards which puts a great deal of stress on your calves. Third, I am toe runner which makes #1 and #2 that much harder for me to recover from.
View of Calgary Skyline
The next few weeks I am going to get back to training. If my schedule calls for 5X 1 mile at 5:25, I am going to try and average 5:30. If I want to run a tempo at 6:00, I am going to aim for 6:10. My long runs have also gotten way out of hand, so I am going to slow those down a bit also.

One thing that I also noticed is that I completely ditched the 1/2 a bag of chocolate habit while I was in Canada. I have convinced myself that this is the reason my running has been so poor this week, thus I have been very good about increasing my chocolate intake over the last 48 hours.

Yay, me.

Happy New Year, all.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Long run grind

Friday: 82 minutes relaxed (11 miles)

Saturday: 2hr 5 minute long run (17.7 mile) in 30mph winds (Athabasca)

Sunday: 56 minutes recovery in downtown Calgary

Monday: 82 minutes in Calgary (10.5 miles) legs dead, hard time adjusting to the altitude

Tuesday: 35 minutes (basically off, legs dead/done/trashed)

Saturday’s long run was one of those runs you will talk about for 20 years. “Remember the day we did that 18 miler in Athabasca on Christmas Eve? Remember how FREAKIN AWFUL that was? That run made me want to quit running.”

I had a plan all week for Saturday and was excited about it. The original plan was 2 hours progressive, starting at 6:45 getting down to marathon pace (6:20). I felt like the run was something I could easily accomplish on a treadmill with an MP3 player and a water bottle within grabbing distance. However, it was Christmas Eve in Athabasca, where there was only one gym and, you guessed it, it was closed.

Houston presenting me with a number of different options of “wait until tomorrow or the next day” which I stubbornly refused, and in the end we decided to “man up” and grind it out. We suited up and headed out into what may have been the worst running conditions ever- 30-35 mph winds, cold, icy, and at an altitude we were not accustomed too.

We started out running around a 6:30 pace and barely a word was said in the first 4 miles before we stopped for water. My sister had kindly placed 3 bottles out for us on her way to town and we hit every single one on our out and back loop. Most of the tree lines along the highway had been cleared away which made the wind especially strong. To avoid having to run directly into it as much as possible, we picked a loop that would have us fighting it from the side for the most part.

Having a goal of just going out and banging out two hours of HARD running, I went a little too quick in the first hour. 6:30 miles felt like 6:10 effort, and by the time I was half way I was already completely spent. At just shy of 90 minutes heading back along the highway, I stopped running, shut off my garmin and walked of the shoulder of the road and cried. Literally, I cried. This was by far the worst run ever, and at this point I was so physically exhausted that I could barely put one foot in front of the other.

Houston had to pick me back up and say, “Let’s just run, no more pace, just get the work in.” We finished to final 35 minutes at about a 7:30 pace, which was really all I had left in the tank. The last 2.5 miles was pretty much up hill, but wind at our backs which I was very thankful for. If not, I may have walked home.

At least we got it in.

After two helpings of apple pie, a piece of cake, yogurt, coffee, and a nice warm shower, I finally felt better as Houston and I packed up Maddy and set out on a quick 5 hour drive to Calgary to celebrate Christmas with my Father, Maddy’s Grandpa.

Over the next few days, I would realize just how hard I really did run that day. After 3 “easy” days my legs still have not recovered and I feel that I will spend the next few days doing more of the same…jogging at a snail like pace until I feel somewhat normal. If there is anything I am good at, it is digging a hole for myself when it comes to training. I can’t be bothered being tired now.

I have a marathon in 10 weeks.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas in Canada and a marathon training update (in the snow)

Just in case you don't know, my family is from the north...way north. Right now we are in Athabasca, Alberta Canada, visiting my family. The roads are like running on a hockey rink and the temps are pretty chilly. Being that I grew up here, I'm used to it but its always a little shocking on the body the first time out the door.
The Athabasca River in Athabasca, Alberta, Canada

My legs are seriously trashed from calling a 90 minute run recovery for the past two weeks, so I basically took an off day on Wednesday (the day we flew out of Birmingham). Besides, I didn't want a repeat from Atlanta...some of you may know what I am talking about (that is a story for another day).

Monday: 90 minutes
Tuesday: 3 mile w/u, 3 mile c/d, 3X2 mile on campus 5 mile loop w/ 2:30 jog rest
11:35 (into the wind), 11:15, 11:10 on measured loop (garmin measured 1.95 miles, 1.95 miles, 1.97 miles)
Wednesday: 25 min jog at 4AM (travel all day to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)
Thursday: 80 minutes w/ 10X1 min hard (5:00-5:15 mile pace), 1 min easy in the middle (10.5+)

Tuesday's workout was not executed properly, and therefore I only ran 3X2 mile versus the 4X2 mile that I had planned. I was impatient into the wind and it cost me part of the workout. I am not strong into the wind, I fold like a cheap tent every time. Instead of staying relaxed I tried running too fast too quickly and suffered late. I figure I will make up for it on Saturday. We will see.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday with their friends or family and avoiding desserts and wine as much as possible (haha, right). Just a reminder to all, your health never takes a holiday.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Stepping up my game & sharing motivation from "the coach".

In an attempt to step up my mileage, I was successful in making myself really tired this week.

Monday: 58 minutes (Maddy cut my run short) (8 miles)
Tuesday: 3 mile w/u 50min progressive tempo, starting at 6:18 working down to 5:39. (6:07 avg pace) 2.5 mile c/d (13.5 miles)
Wednesday: 90 minutes relaxed
Thursday: AM: 45 minutes PM: 45 minutes w/ 6X30 seconds hard. (12 miles)
Friday: 10 miles w/ M. (reg loop + sherwood when I got home)
Saturday: 14.5 miles w/ 9 miles @6:25 pace
Sunday: 70-80 minutes recovery

Even though I'm going to hit 80 this week, this morning during my long run I convinced myself its not about the miles. Once again, I'm going to try and stop counting and focus more on how I feel. After all, I'm still getting better.
Most people can deal with knowing the numbers and not obsess over them, I cannot.

How the week went.
Monday I wanted to go about 12 miles or so, but 8 miles into my treadmill run (Houston has been out of town) Maddy woke up screaming. So run=over.

Therefore I woke up early on Tuesday to get a good medium run/tempo combo completed before work. Because it was just after 4:00AM, it took me a few miles to get the legs moving. Starting off conservative (at just a few seconds faster than goal marathon pace) I tried to stay relaxed as I increased the pace every few minutes (or when I felt tired or bored). It was surprisingly easy, but then again, I was running on the treadmill. Regardless, I was pleased with this workout.

Thursday I had planned on running 30 minutes of speed fartlek, but my Achilles had been really bothering me, so (being safe) I skipped it and just ran easy instead. Probably a smart move as I was able to run normally Saturday.

Saturday's run started off great. After a brief warm-up we started rolling along at just a few seconds slower than goal marathon pace. However, after about 9 miles at just over a 6:20 avg, my calves cramped up completely. I jogged the last few miles in to log just under 15 for the day.

Just some INSPIRATION from  my husband, the coach.

He recently made a post of the distance training page that I wanted to share with you all. He is king of motivational talks. Even though it is directed at the team, I hope you all can get something out of it also. Names have been edited as requested by the husband.

"This is a critical time of the year,  each and everyone of you is responsible for doing your work and keeping each other accountable. It doesn't matter if your hill was 562m long, or 611m long. What does matter is that you are putting the work in and getting stronger, fitter, tougher, and meaner. Each one of you has a decision each day. Do I go out and do today what it is going to take to make me better, or do I let everyone that I am expected to compete against be better than me today. Because guess what? RIVAL TEAM A, RIVAL TEAM B, RIVAL TEAM C, ETC. and even the " RIVAL NAME X" are getting out the door and putting it in. They want to keep you down. They want you to have have excuses why you didn't work today. They want the weather to be tougher than you. They want you thinking, "Oh, I can put this workout off til tomorrow, or I will do some of my stretches, but maybe skip a few." Cowardice has no place in the (INSERT SCHOOL MASCOT) Nation. Get it done......NO EXCUSES! Train hard, train smart, and soon......kick some @$$."


I wanted to share a video with you all from"V02 Max productions". A Brooks-Hanson video of Ms. Desiree Davila running a 3X3 mile workout to prepare for the USA Olympic Trials.

Watch more video of Desiree Davila on



Thursday, December 15, 2011

Brooks I.D. 2012

And here it goes, another year with my most favorite running company EVER. I love the shoes (Brooks Launch, Brooks Green Silence) I love the clothes, the sports bras...heck I even own a running skirt from Brooks!

Tis the season for Brooks arm warmers, infiniti tights, gossamer gloves, with matching tops, hats, and socks.

Thank you, Brooks for another year. Much appreciated. Let's go run some PRs.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Chasing numbers (miles)

It started in college, although it wasn't always miles I was counting.

I like numbers, I have always enjoyed them. When I was just learning math I could add and subtract in my head from the beginning, I imagined the numbers as shapes, it worked every time. I was very good at math.

In college it started with schedules. I would start out at 6:30AM (run), 7:15AM (shower), 7:25AM (dress for class), 7:30AM (breakfast), 7:45AM (bike to class) 7:55AM (class). For the most part it was healthy, but then I needed something else, scheduling my day out in 15 minute increments just wasn't enough.

Next it was counting calories. First in estimated amounts, then in exact amounts. I am honest about this if people ask, this is nothing new. I did this for about two years until I started running an event where I was encouraged to be STRONG versus invisible.
In an effort to be "strong" I started counting numbers, miles per day..week...month. I wanted to run 65, then 70, then more than 70. Unfortunately I paid more attention to the numbers than the way I felt and spent most of my time on the elliptical machine with an injury.

Post college I was able to run as much as I wanted- there were no limits. I had some small successes but was usually hurt by April every year, spending 5-7 months in a water-jogging belt strapped to the wall of a pool, sweating through intervals until I felt like passing out. Injured. Chasing numbers has always left me sitting in the same place: on the bench.

Since coming back from pregnancy last fall I have really stayed away from counting, mostly just estimating, and have stayed virtually injury free except for some small flare-ups here and there.

So what the heck am I chasing numbers for now?

Confidence...I think.

Not getting confident, lack of. See standards are much higher than last year, and as much as I could care less about being considered anything more than the athlete/jogger I am today, in order to remain where I am, I need to get better...and not slowly, either.

Honestly, most of those around me are putting in 85-100 mile weeks, I'm lucky to hit 75. There are odd times when I think I hit 80 miles...but I don't know, I stopped counting.

Last week I was determined to hit 80 miles, working my way up to 90...but my daughter was sick and I simply said to heck with it...not important.

This week I am back on it. I can get 3X13-14 mile days in a row and be OK, I can get 90+ minutes on my recovery days, I can maximize singles... I can run at lunch...I can be a psycho.

And is it really all worth it?

I don't know. To be honest, every time I run faster, I spend a few hours totally excited about the fast time, then spend the next few days/weeks/months..coming up with reasons of why I am not good enough. And really, who is? Truthfully, 2:52 was fine for me. I am a mother first and foremost so....awesome. BUT when I realized that 2:52 was not the goals/standards that others had for me, everything changed.
I wasn't good enough for me anymore.

I hope that the number craze doesn't make me crazy. I can find time to fit an extra 10-15miles in here and there without sacrificing family time. However, is it worth it? Is it really worth it? 

I guess its time to find out.

Happy running, all.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Snickers Marathon Training wk 1: Putting on my Mom Jeans

Not literally but "hat" just didn't cut it......

My daughter was very sick this week so I missed a bunch of miles as well as some precious ZZs.  As important as this 12 weeks of training is leading up to the Snickers Marathon in Albany Georgia (or NOLA…not sure) when Maddy is not feeling well, miles are going to be missed.

Monday: 1hr 39 minute run (13-14 miles)
Tuesday: 60 minutes w/ strides
Wednesday: 3 mile w/u, 5X1 mile on treadmill w/ 2min recovery jog in between: 5:46, 5:39, 5:33, 5:30, 5:20, 3 mile c/d (11-12 miles)
Thursday: AM: 45 minutes recovery, PM: 30 min recovery
Friday: 72 minutes (10 miles- treadmill)
Saturday: 17.37 miles in 1:54:30 (6:35 pace) at Boardtown  - Browning Creek loop-  7:08, 6:33, 6:39, 6:19, 6:23, 6:37, 6:38, 6:23, 5:58, 6:39, 7:11, 6:32, 6:38, 6:27, 6:43, 6:35, 6:29, 2:25 for .37
Sunday: 50 minutes

The night before my scheduled long run, I was up with Maddy for almost 3 hours.  Because I was exhausted when my alarm went off at 5:00AM Saturday morning, I ended up sleeping right through it and woke up at 6:04 instead.  By the time I finally got out to Boardtown, the group was just turning the corner onto South Montgomery, which left no time for warm up miles.

Browning Creek is my least favorite route.  This loop takes you around the sharp rolling hills of the lake at B.C. and is dreadful on the legs (dreadful meaning good for you).  Typically, I struggle running 6:50s on this loop, we got down under 6:00 for a while to give you an idea of how the morning unfolded.
Running back towards home we took the scenic route and ended up with what felt like a million miles with wind dead in the face.  At around 15 miles, I saw M. stop in front of me and we took about 20 seconds to collect ourselves “I want to vomit.”  …”  I’m hyperventilating.”  …“my face hurts.”
Once we were done complaining we set off to finish the last two miles as best we could to clock just under 17.5 miles for the day in 30 degrees with wind in every direction (ok, not really but it felt like it).  I am not sure if it was the hard running or the lack of warm clothes, but after this my chest hurt the entire weekend.

Sometimes it takes weeks like this to put everything back into perspective. Though I hate to see my daughter under the weather, I did enjoy the hugs, cuddles, and “Mamas”.  There is no better feeling. Makes everything we do so worth it. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Finding my inspiration. Two falls from the training wagon

When I was in high school I used to hang pictures of pro athletes all over my bedroom walls. My Dad hated it because I would use tape that would peal the paint away.  I don’t even think I knew who all the athletes were, but the pictures looked cool so I hung them up. Most of them were pullouts from running magazines - I can think of think of at least two of them that have been busted for performance enhancing drugs.  What a great example for a young athlete.

All those posters ended up in the trash once I left for college. Thanks, Dad... really, I mean it.

Lately I have been really thinking about what/who inspires me. I am not inspired by professional athletes like I used to be when I was younger- unless they are Mom’s/Dad’s, doing something amazing outside of the sport (which many are nowadays). Don’t get me wrong, I would love an autograph from an awesome pro, but if their job is to do a particular sport, then…well…are they not just doing their job WELL?  I do my job well too, do you want my autograph?


I recently learned that a running acquaintance of mine turned 80. Eighty years old.  Yep.  This person runs,  is very independent, intelligent, knowledgeable.  It never would have occurred  to me that he was eighty, until someone finally mentioned it.  Wow.  An athlete at 80 years old? That’s what I want to be.

That’s inspiring.

Most of the people I follow (blogs) do amazing things outside of running,  all kinds of people…some Mom’s, some Dad’s, some working, some not but they are real people chasing very different dreams…running marathons, running 5ks, 10ks, ultras, triathlons, everyone has a very different LIFE and a very different GOAL.

In the end, I don’t think it matters if you are a 2ish hour marathon, or a 6 hour marathon.  As long as you are living your dreams…one day you may just be the fittest 80 year old in the state, country, world….and I may just want your autograph.

Back to training…………….

Monday: 90 minutes
Tuesday: 45 minutes
Wednesday: 2 mile w/u, 8X800m on road– 2:35, 2:44, 2:32, 2:36, 2:43, 2:42, 2:42, 2:36) 2 mile jog, 10 minutes at goal marathon pace on t-mill (6:20), c/d (10.5 miles)
Thursday: 50 minutes
Friday: 10 miles
Saturday: 15 miles w/ 6 miles at HM goal pace (4 miles, 6 miles at 6:05, 5 miles)
Sunday: Planned distance run 70ish minutes

So I have a confession to make, I stayed up late watching TV with my husband Monday and Wednesday night so I didn’t get up early enough Tues/Thurs morning.  Afternoons are for family so I didn’t get out and run again either of those days.  Oh well, if this is my way of getting the laziness out before my new training cycle starts, I don’t think I have too much to worry about.

Wednesday’s workout total rocked.  I felt so good I jumped on the treadmill and added a ten minute tempo on the end.  The times were not my fastest but they were good enough for the “in-between”.

Saturday’s workout did not rock, it was the exact opposite. The plan was to go out for a 15 mile run and drop down to half marathon pace for about 7 miles. About a mile into the tempo portion, my hip had already started cramping and I could feel my back tightening up.  I stopped for about 20 seconds about half way to stretch my back…and at one point during the run, I hit my garmin and screamed, “I can do long runs faster than this!”  I have to say sorry to Houston for having to witness my ridiculous breakdown.

And actually, no..I can’t do long runs faster than 6:00ish. It just happened that when I looked down at the ticker on my Garmin it read a 6:23, which was wrong as I actually clocked 6:02 for that mile. I’m not sure why this workout was so important to me. I guess I still can’t get over the fact that my goal half marathon pace is right around 6:00….for 13 miles. And I guess I expect 6:08, my PR pace to be easy. It’s not. I’ve got to work my way back up there. Missing distance runs wont help.

SO the plan is to have a REAL plan…one of paper that I can look at and check off the days/weeks knowing I am doing everything it asks. This plan will be put together today, with the help of my husband/coach/better half.  

It will be up to me to execute the training.  I’m sure I can/will.