It’s Race Week!

Here we are. Almost 20 weeks of marathon training, and it’s officially race week. I’m a little bit in shock. In some ways, I’m like “Finally! I’ve been waiting for this forever!” And in other ways I’m like, “Woah, WOAH, I am not ready for this how is it already race week?!”

It’s no secret that training for this race hasn’t exactly been fun. I was overly busy and stressed out trying to train while rehearsing and performing in Mary Poppins. Then I went on vacation and just didn’t train for a week. And then I got hurt, and it all went to hell in a handbasket. For the last month or so, I’ve been whiny, emotional, and thoroughly freaked out about this whole marathon thing. I feel bad for being so negative, but I needed to let those feelings out and process them, and you have all been incredibly kind and supportive, so thank you for that ❤

The good news is, I’m finally starting to get excited. They released photos of the medals this weekend, and they’re GORGEOUS. I can’t wait to wear mine all day on Sunday. And possibly Monday too.

Because I’m just a little bit Type A, I’m trying to approach this week with a plan. I like to be methodical, to feel like I have taken care of everything that’s within my power, so that I can go into the race knowing that I’ve done everything I can, and it’s out of my hands. So that means, it’s list time! Here’s my plan for race week.

  • Hydrate like a BOSS. I’ve got a 32 oz water bottle on my desk at work, and a 25 oz water bottle on my coffee table at home. I aim to drink at least 80 oz of water each day. I’m tracking my intake with an app, cause I like data and certainty.
  • Carb load responsibly. I’m trying not to make this week an excuse to eat like an asshole. I’m trying to get my carbs mostly from whole grains, sweet potatoes, and less fibrous veggies and fruits.
  • Know my sh*t. Study the Runner Essentials handbook. Familiarize myself with the course. Know how I’m getting to the start line. Know where I’m meeting my family after the race. Make sure I have all the information I need so that nothing throws me for a loop and freaks me out on race day.
  • Make self-care and recovery a priority. Stretch. Foam roll. Go to yoga. Take extra good care of my body so I feel rested and well on race day.
  • Get lots of good quality sleep. I know that nerves will probably make sleeping on Saturday night a challenge, so I’m determined to get caught up on rest during the week. In bed, lights out, no later than 10 every night. This may be challenging as I’ve got some fun parties that are happening, but I just need to stay strong and remember that the marathon is a goal I’ve been working toward for months, and I need to prioritize it over partying.
  • Take it one day at a time. I’m doing my best not to freak out. I’m trying to just focus on what I need to do each day, and not worry about what tomorrow will bring. This is hard. I’m worried about the weather, I’m worried about my foot, I’m worried about a lot, but I’m trying not to let it get to me.

Any other advice for marathon prep?

The 20 Miler

In spite of last week’s injury and illness, I really hoped that my report on the dreaded 20 miler would be positive, like “It was hard, but I feel good,” or, “I felt so accomplished,” or something. But as I stated in my Manic Monday training summary, it was just hard, and I’m glad it’s over.

I was very, very lucky to be able to join some awesome ladies from Athleta for a fully-supported, pre-planned 20 mile route that closely followed the actual route that the Vermont City Marathon will follow on May 29. Two gals from the store were a mobile aid station, and they met us at miles 4, 8, 12, and 16 of the route, with water, Gatorade, Gu’s, and they also carried our extra clothes around in case we got cold.

Photo May 03, 8 27 59 AM

The forecast called for rain, which wasn’t ideal, but it actually didn’t start truly raining until around mile 10. Katie, Roo, Nikhil, Ann and I started off from the store shortly after 8. Ann quickly left us in the dust as she was planning to run 8 minute miles, whereas my goal long run pace is between 10:30 and 11 minute miles. It turned out that Katie was injured too, so she was down to go my pace, and Roo was a rock star and slowed down to stay with us, but eventually Nikhil took off at his own pace too, leaving just me, Katie, and Roo.

I was disappointed to feel my left quad start to complain around mile 4, and my right foot joined the party soon after. Still, though, Katie and Roo were really good company. They’re running buddies, and had been training to hit a sub-4 marathon time together before Katie’s IT band became an issue. She was literally running with a plastic bag of ibuprofen, not sure if she was going to be able to complete the full distance. I just tried to focus on the company, and have completion as my only goal. I didn’t stop my watch for any of our water or bathroom breaks, so that I’d have a better idea of what race day might actually look like.

I did my best to keep to my usual sip of water every mile and fuel every 4-5 miles, but I was dragging by mile 10. My leg hurt, my foot hurt, my sinuses hurt… Honestly, I wanted to quit. Was planning to quit. Actually rehearsing in my head what I would say when we reached the next aid station and I bailed. The traveling aid station missed us at mile 12, but looped back around to meet us at mile 13, and I confessed I was hurting, but decided to keep going. We all took a round of Katie’s ibuprofen. Roo was chafing really badly under her arms, and we were all wet and cold. I told Katie and Roo to go on at that point. We were about to head up the Battery Street Hill, and I knew there was absolutely no way I could keep up with them.

Battery Street comes right after the halfway point on the marathon course, and it’s a bear. I used to run hill repeats on it all the time, but my hill training has been sorely lacking this cycle, so I ended up walking the hill. I knew that the only way I was going to finish was by adding in some walking. Coach Suz and I had talked about this beforehand, so I decided to walk for 2 minutes after each mile, to help rest my leg and foot and reset everything. I was a little cold, and very hungry, and also running all alone at this point, which was kind of a bummer. Around mile 15, I REALLY wanted to quit. I knew the mobile aid station would be at mile 16, and that they’d drive me back to the store if I asked. I thought long and hard about it. But in the end, I knew that I needed to finish. If I didn’t get it done that day, I’d just have to try again another day, and I REALLY didn’t want to have to go through this again.

I made it to the aid station at mile 16, where I announced “I’m struggling. Hard.” The girls gave me a pep talk and some Gatorade, and told me that there would be bagels waiting for us back at the store. Those were the most motivating words anyone could possibly have spoken at that moment. As I ran/walked the final four miles back to Athleta, I just kept imagining a huge bagel with cream cheese, how good it would taste, how amazing it would feel to be done… And I made it.

Everyone at the store cheered for me when I came in, and my friend Chris gave me a big high five. I shed my hydration pack, put on my jacket, and had probably the best spinach and cheddar bagel I’ve ever had in my life. Then I went to the grocery store for recovery supplies:

 

And took a long, hot epsom salt bath and ate sushi in the tub while reading Harry Potter. The rest of the afternoon was spent eating ALL THE THINGS, foam rolling like a responsible adult, icing my foot, and watching Game of Thrones Seasons 1 and 2 on the pulled out futon. I limped a lot Sunday and Monday, but I’m definitely feeling a bit better today. My quad is still achey, sort of like really bad DOMS. My foot is more acute pain in the heel, with a duller ache by my pinky toe, but again, less than it was even yesterday. I’m hoping that good rest and recovery this week will help resolve my issues and get me ready to run this marathon.

I have also decided to switch back to my very first pair of Saucony Mirage 4s, because in looking back at my mileage log, I have quite a few less miles on them than I thought. I’m going to test them out on a short run today and see how it goes. Worst case scenario, Amazon has ONE pair of Mirage 4s in my size available, and I can use Prime to get them here in 2 days, which should theoretically be enough time to break them in a bit before the marathon.

After writing this post out, I do now feel a sense of accomplishment, but honestly, on Sunday I was in such a haze of pain and runger that I was kind of emotionally numb to the enormity of it. Including all of our water stops, breaks, my walking etc, it took 3 hours and 51 minutes, an overall pace of 11:35, which I am IMMENSELY proud of. And I need to give a MASSIVE shoutout to the Athleta crew for sponsoring this 20 mile run. I absolutely would not have gotten through that distance without the company and support.

In closing, I have to say that my experience running 20 miles sort of solidified that the marathon will be a “one and done” for me. The training is just too much. Too much time. Too much energy. Too much worry. Too much pain. I’m just not a multiple marathoner, and that’s ok.

Have you ever done a 20 miler? When training for a marathon, do you cap your training at 20 miles, or go further?

Friday Free-For-All – 04/29/16

FFFA (1)

This week’s Friday Free-For-All post has a theme: STRESS!!!

Insult to injury. Literally. I hurt my left quad and right foot during my attempted 18-miler on Monday, and then I got sick this week. Maybe a sinus infection, maybe just a really bad cold, but either way, headache, major congestion, mild fever, and crappy sleep. I haven’t run at all since Monday, but I think I’m gonna attempt a gentle 5k today. My fever is gone, and although I’m super congested, I’m feeling better than I have the last couple of days. This week has just been kind of a crap fest. I was really worried that I wouldn’t be able to do my 20-miler with Athleta and RunVermont on Sunday, but I think that if worse comes to worst, I’ll just go for it and use some run/walk intervals to get me through it. That’s not how I’ve been training up until now, but I REALLY would rather do my 20 in a group setting than try to do it on my own later.

Ben’s employment situation. I haven’t talked about this much on the blog, but it’s weighing heavily on my mind this week. Ben is an educator, and unfortunately, job stability isn’t always a thing when you’re a teacher. Ben and another teacher were hired at the same time last year to cover two full-time positions for teachers that were away on leave. One of those teachers has decided not to come back, and one still has a year of leave left, meaning that there is now one permanent full-time position available. Due to budget cuts, the other temporary position covering leave is now only a part-time position, and we don’t know the actual extent of the position and pay. Ben and the other teacher both interviewed yesterday for both positions, and we just don’t know how the chips are going to fall. The other teacher has more experience and a Master’s degree, but Ben is better at classroom management and has better people skills. They may decide they want to pay more for the other person’s experience, or they may decide they want to save money by hiring Ben. It’s really scary not knowing whether or not he’ll will have a job next year. He has applied for a few other positions at other schools, but hasn’t gotten any interviews, which is super discouraging. Taking a pay cut by accepting the part-time position at his current school, or not getting a job at all would mean that we’d need to do a serious lifestyle overhaul, and delay a lot of stuff like home buying and starting a family even further. The uncertainty is putting a lot of strain on us right now, and it sucks not being able to plan long term because we just don’t know what next year will look like. Thankfully, it sounds like we should know either way by Monday at the latest, so at least it’s not going to drag on for weeks.

Shoes. I’m still feeling stress about my damn shoe issue. I can’t say for sure that my leg and foot issues on Monday were due to the shoes rather than just stress or attempting too much mileage after a week of almost no running, but I’m a little nervous about attempting 20 miles in the Mirages on Sunday. I’ve been doing lots of research, and even used this great shoe finder app on Runner’s World (Shoes Like Mine) to find some options. I went to Dick’s Sporting Goods on Wednesday night and tried a bunch of the recommended options, but totally struck out. Every shoe I tried just didn’t have enough room for my toes. It seems like most toe boxes sort of angle down toward the front of the foot, but my toes angle UP, so it’s hard to find a shoe with enough room. I’m trying not to panic, and I still have some options for other places to go, but it sort of feels like zero hour here, and I’m anxious.

ONE MONTH. Vermont City Marathon is exactly one month away. In some ways, it feels like I’ve been waiting forever and I can’t believe it’s finally time, and in other ways, it doesn’t seem like enough time has passed, and I’m under-trained and oh my god how am I ever going to do this?? I think if I can just get through this 20-miler on Sunday, I’ll feel a lot better about things. I seriously can’t believe it’s almost taper time. I honestly don’t even feel like I “deserve” a taper because I haven’t really been training all that much these last few weeks. It’s so weird. All I can say is, thank God for Coach Suz. I’d be a mess right now without her. OK, more of a mess than I already am…

Who else is feeling stressed out this week? I need a massage… Or a drink…

Friday Free-For-All – 04/15/16

FFFA (1)

Spring Break, baby! As of 4:30 this afternoon, Ben and I will officially be on vacation. We will be taking off on an East Coast Friends and Family road trip. We’ve planned stops in New Jersey, DC, and North Carolina, and we couldn’t be more excited. The timing works out perfectly that we’ll actually be arriving in NJ for a friend’s birthday, and the longest stretch of driving we’ll have to do in any given day is 6 hours. I’ll try to schedule some posts to go up while I’m gone, but I’ll mostly be away from computers.

I’m teaming up with Athleta and Vermont City Marathon to host a few training runs in the weeks leading up to VCM. As you already know, I’m running and promoting VCM on behalf of BibRave, but I was contacted by Athleta because they are working with the “New to 26.2” first-time marathon training program that VCM is offering. Each Saturday a group will be meeting at Athleta for a 4-6 mile training run, and I get to be one of the “leaders.” I’m excited because a) I LOVE Athleta, b) I’ve really been missing group runs these last few months, and c) it’s a perfect cross-promotion opportunity. I’d like to say right out that if it weren’t for the fact that my friend Chris is the general manager of my local Athleta, this probably wouldn’t be happening, but I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth!

I FINALLY got my Saucony Mirage 5s this weekend. I have run in them a couple of times so far, and while they are definitely a bit different than the 4s, I think they’re going to work out just fine. Hallelujah! Now to stock up on them before they completely disappear so that I don’t have to deal with this shoe drama again for a loooong time…

Remember that I’m raising money for the Vermont Respite House by running the Jiggety Jog 5k. I’m trying to raise $1000 by the event on May 7. Wanna help me get there? Click this link to make a secure online donation: http://bit.ly/1MuGMhM

Anyone else on spring break this week? Any fun plans?

Friday Free-For-All – 01/29/16

FFFA (1)

I got my own office this week. Technically speaking, I am a receptionist, and generally, receptionists sit at a desk out in the middle of a reception area to, you know, receive guests and phone calls. But I do a lot of stuff other than answer phones, which requires some goddamn peace and quiet sometimes, which I don’t get sitting at a reception desk. So now, I have an office. With a door. I can sit in there on my lunch break and watch Netflix on my computer. Or nap. And when the HR team decides to have a standing meeting out in the lobby, next to what was once my desk, I can shut my door and get on with my work. WOO! My door still faces the reception area, and we have a webcam so I can see the front door and know when clients or vendors need help. But I. HAZ. OFFICE. I’ll try to remember to post some pictures once I’m a bit more settled in.

My friend from run club just decided to run the Vermont City Marathon with me. I am super pumped about this development. Ashley and I are very similar runners, in style, attitude, and pace, and we’re both just looking to finish our first marathons without any super lofty goals. It will be really nice to have a partner on race day, and hopefully for some of my longer training runs.

I am le tired. This is the first week of marathon training so far that I have completed all of my scheduled workouts. I have worked out 4 days in a row now (technically 6 if you count Sunday’s dance rehearsal, which backed up to Saturday’s long run), which is way more than I usually do. Today is rest day, and I don’t have rehearsal either, so I’m PUMPED. Hellooooo, Netflix! I’ll probably end up watching movies and drinking wine while baking snacks for Ben’s ski team’s meet tomorrow. Speaking of the ski meet…

I’m volunteering at Ben’s meet after my long run tomorrow. Ben’s team is hosting a meet, so he’s been running around all crazy and stressed for the last couple of weeks. Apparently, all of his skiers really want to meet me, and Ben needs help, so I’ll be waking up early to drop him off to catch the bus to the meet, running my long run of 8 miles, showering, eating, and then driving over to the meet to help out however I can. It’s going to be a long day, but it will be fun to see Ben in action.

Who else is pumped for Friday?

Manic Monday – 01/25/16

Manic

Vermont City Marathon Training Week 2: What Was Planned vs. What Happened

Monday 01/18/16: 30 Min Run Easy32 Min Easy
I ran outside, on the bikepath, in the snow, because DAY OFF. It was so nice to get to run out in the sunshine for once.

Tuesday 01/19/16: 45 Min Run Easy36 Min Easy
I took this run to the treadmill, because the temps were below freezing and there was a fresh coat of slippery wet snow on the ground. Unfortunately, my stomach was not at all thrilled with the idea of running at 8 pm, and I had to call it quits after 36 minutes.

Wednesday 01/20/16: Spin ClassSpin Class
The theme was Wayback Wednesday, and it was all 80’s music, and it was glorious! I ate a piece of bread and butter before class when I usually don’t eat beforehand, and I felt extra strong, so I think a small snack before workouts is the way to go.

Thursday 01/21/16: HillsRest
I woke up with swollen glands in my throat, and by the end of the day, had a terrible sore throat and low-grade fever, so I took a rest day in the hopes of nipping it in the bud.

Friday 01/22/16: Active Rest | Rest
I called out of work for the first time in about two years and slept until 2 pm. When I woke up for real, I was feeling somewhat better, but lightheaded and groggy because I hadn’t eaten or drank anything all day. I still went to rehearsal, which thankfully was very short and didn’t require any dancing.

Saturday 01/23/16: 6 Miles Easy6 Miles Easy
My sinuses were full of gunk, but my throat felt better, so I just decided to go for it. I took it to the treadmill in case I needed to bail out early, but I made it with minimal discomfort. I spent the rest of the day in compression pants on the couch, alternating between watching movies and playing video games.

Sunday 01/24/16: Yoga | 2 Hours Dance
I was still feeling yucky so I bailed on yoga yet again to get more sleep. I knew that rehearsal had a LOT of dancing in store, and I just wanted to save my energy for that. Thankfully we spent some time stretching after warm ups, so I felt like I didn’t completely miss out on mobility stuff for the day.

I’m feeling ok today. My sinuses are still really full and that has made sleeping well difficult, but during the day I feel mostly fine, other than needing to blow my nose every 10 minutes. I plan to at least try to keep up with my workouts this week, especially because today and tomorrow are relatively short, easy runs.

When you’re sick, do you still work out?

And So It Begins…

This is it folks; week one of Marathon Training for the People’s United Bank Vermont City Marathon. Dun dun DUNNNNN. As I have mentioned a few times previously, I decided to hire a coach to help me through my first marathon.  A lot of consideration went into this decision, and I feel really good about it. Here are my top three reasons for hiring a coach:

  1. It’s my first marathon and I have no idea what I’m doing. I want to finish and feel proud. I don’t want to end up injured, or feel sad about my time, or be totally burnt out on running.
  2. In addition to marathon training, I’m rehearsing for a musical. My schedule is BANANAS. I need structure, I need accountability, and I need someone to tell me to get my ass in gear when I whine about having to do a 16-miler on a two-show Saturday.
  3. Susie is awesome, experienced, and level-headed. I trust her. I like her. I know she will be tough when she needs to be, and hold my hand when I cry like a little bitch baby because marathon training is HARD.

I’m definitely nervous, but because I feel so good about my coach, the excited outweighs the nervous. I have The Plan for this month in my hot little hands and I feel good about it. I’m also really glad that I’m only getting it a few weeks at a time, because seeing 18 or 20 miles might cause me to flip a biscuit…

Does seeing high mileage on a training plan freak you out?

My First 26.2

It’s happening, folks. I always swore I’d never be one of those crazy people who runs marathons for fun, but now I’m taking the leap. Through my partnership with BibRave, I will be running the People’s United Bank Vermont City Marathon on May 29, 2016.

VCM

Of course, I’m feeling all the feelings; excited, hopeful, nervous, terrified… This could end up being either really excellent or really awesome, because depending on how my Mary Poppins audition in December goes, I may be in a show and marathon training at the same time. Yeah, I know. Glutton for punishment, right here. But it was just too perfect–free registration to my hometown marathon, which I will complete 20 days after my 30th birthday. It just felt like the right time for the attempt. And I also looked at the Hal Higdon Novice 1 training plan, and my longest runs (18 and 20 miles) wouldn’t be on the schedule until after the show is over, so it hopefully won’t be too insane.

I know I teased some thoughts yesterday about not being able to establish a running routine, and I still plan to talk about that later this week, but the short of it is, I think having a marathon to train for will force me to find and stick to a routine. Stay tuned.

What’s your best piece of advice when training for a marathon? 

Friday Free-For-All – 05/22/15

FFFA (1)

BibRave is looking to expand their BibRave Pro Ambassador Program. If you like to run races, talk about running, and hang out with cool, like-minded people, you should consider applying to be a BibRave Pro. You’ll get access to all kinds of products and free or discounted race registrations all over the country, and get to be part of a really cool team. If you’re interested in learning more, go to bibravepro.tumblr.com.

Photo May 15, 10 47 33 AM

Speaking of BibRave, you should check out my Discounts page. We just added tons of new discount codes or discounted registration links, so chances are there’s something near you, or something you’ll want to travel to!

It’s marathon weekend here in VT! The Vermont City Marathon takes place every Memorial Day weekend, and it’s a huge event. I’m ashamed to say that in my 20+ years living here, I’ve never actually watched the race. In high school I wasn’t interested, and in college I was always working. And now, when I’m actually really interested, I live about 40 minutes outside of town, and trying to drive in on Sunday morning will be nutty due to traffic and road closures 😦 Whether or not I make it to spectate, I’m hoping to get to a runner/blogger meetup that’s being organized by Stacey, the Cape Cod Runner. She’s trying to get some people together at the Farm House on Saturday afternoon, so I’m going to do my best to get there.

We’re moving in a little over a week! While I’m still super excited, I’m also starting to stress out about the move itself. As of right now, our move-in day is June 1, which is a Monday. Neither Ben nor I can take any additional time off right now, so I have no idea how things are going to go. Thankfully, 90% of our stuff is already packed and just needs to be moved from our storage unit to the apartment. But the remaining 10% is surprisingly scattered all over my in-laws’ house. I’m also pretty sure that there’s simply not enough room for all of our junk at the new place, which means we have a lot of sorting to do. I’ve already started by going through my closets to get rid of stuff I don’t wear anymore, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’m just sort of blithely ignoring things right now and pretending that everything is totally under control. I’m sure by this time next week I’ll be freaking out.

I am SO PUMPED that it’s a three day weekend. Other than a quick meeting for Chess on Sunday, and the blogger meetup on Saturday afternoon, we have NO PLANS. I’m excited to do some relaxing, and also hopefully do some packing and move related business to help mitigate the stress I described above. Mostly, though, I’m excited that next week is only a four day work week. This week covering for my coworker has been really stressful, and I’m beyond relieved that she’s back in the office on Tuesday.

What are your plans for Memorial Day weekend?