Rainbow Sprinkles, anyone?

Is it just me, or is everything better with rainbow sprinkles on it?  Rainbow sprinkles make me happy.  And they make everything taste that much more delicious.

Remember this weekend when I said I was just plain excited and not nervous about Grandma’s?  Well now I’m nervous.  Not about anything specific.  I just have had this general nervous/anxious/excited feeling since I woke up on Monday morning.  Maybe it has to do with me compulsively checking the weather (because, you never know, it might change in the 10 minutes since the last time that I checked it!)   Maybe it has to do with the fact that I haven’t figured out my exact pacing plan yet.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that my goal is 10 minutes faster than my BQ time.  Probably all of the above.  And because I’m Type A, so the nerves were bound to come.

So what am I doing to calm my nerves?

  • Reviewing my training log (thanks for the idea, Maria) to confirm that I AM READY!
  • Trying to come up with a general pacing plan that will work for me, and hoping to have it in mind today, so that I can stop worrying about it.
  • Trying to stay busy with other stuff to keep my mind from obsessing.
  • Eating lots of rainbow sprinkles (which were delicious on some raspberry frozen yogurt with lunch today!)

Ready to Roll!

I’m ready to roll.

It’s been a great training cycle.  The best yet.  The most quality and the most miles.  But, more importantly, the most fun for me.  I can honestly say that out of the 71 runs that I’ve done in this training cycle, I only felt like skipping maybe one or two.  Virtually every time I turned off the alarm and laced up my shoes, I did it with a smile on my face.  I wanted to get out there and run.  I loved the sense of accomplishment that I got each week when my miles went up, my paces came down and things just started to click.

As you know, I followed the Advanced Marathon Grandma’s Training Program that was put together by the Grandma’s organizers.  It was perfect for me.  Just right on the mileage (72 peak miles).  With lots and lots of quality workouts.

Weekly mileage (and long run) for Grandma’s Training:

  1. 50.1 miles (18 long; 9:35)
  2. 56.1 miles (16 long; 9:05)
  3. 51.6 miles  (HM race; 8:24)
  4. 65.6 miles (20 miles; 8:59)
  5. 68.7 miles (18 miles; 9:04)
  6. 62.5 miles (22 miles; 9:11)
  7. 65.7 miles (16 miles; 8:52)
  8. 41.3 miles (10.6 miles; 9:07)
  9. 72.3 miles (20 miles; 9:14)
  10. 52.9 miles (15 miles; 8:50)
  11. 36 miles (9 miles)
  12. (Will be 8 miles before RACE DAY!)

Other highlights:

  • Tempo pace went from 8:05ish pace during week #1 of training down to 7:45ish pace during week #11.
  • Hills, hills and more hills!  This training plan did hill repeats during earlier weeks of the plan.  I also did most of my long runs on hilly routes (Baker and Carver).  This should help tons with Lemon Drop Hill (which actually isn’t all it’s hyped up to be; I barely noticed it last time I did Grandma’s and that was without hill training!)
  • Intervals!  Lots of fun interval workouts each week, with a big variety.  Ranging from 200m all the way up to mile repeats.  I think my least favorite (but probably the best for me) was the 6x1600m intervals.  Followed closely by the 12x400m intervals, which seemed to last FOREVER!  And how come it always seemed to be crappy weather on interval day?
  • Having 3 or 4 quality workouts a week (hills or intervals; tempo; medium effort – which usually ended up being marathon pace; and long run).  This kept the training super interesting for me.  It also has made me feel like I’ve improved a ton.
  • My paces on ALL my runs have come down.  Tempo 7:40 – 7:50, depending on length of run.  Easy runs are now usually 8:50 – 9:05.  Medium effort runs are usually 8:25 -8:35.  Long runs usually 8:55 – 9:15.   Most importantly things just FEEL easier.
  • My core is stronger from the pilates I’ve consistently done this time around (2 – 4 times a week).  Though I still eat too many sweets, so those six-pack abs remain hidden under layers of s’mores and cake.  Sounds dorky, but I do think I could notice the strength of my core during the later miles of my long runs and hard workouts.

My mental game:

My mental game has hurt me in previous marathons.  I my earlier marathons I didn’t have the confidence to go fast and far.  In more than one marathon I’ve completely fallen apart, mentally, when my pace faltered (and I fell back from pace groups, or got passed by pace groups).  I have also let weather interfere and derail me, mentally, from what I know I could do.

This time around I have been working on my mental game too.  And I’m happy to report that I am in a MUCH better place, mentally, than I was with previous marathons.  For all 6 of my previous marathons my feeling in the weeks leading up to the marathon was a combination of excitement, nervousness and dread.  I really just felt like I wanted to get the race itself over with.  This time around I’m just excited.  I am looking forward to getting out there on race day because I’m excited to see what I can do and how I feel doing it.  It’s hard to explain, but I have the sense that because my conditioning and training has been SO much better, there is not only the potential for a faster time, but also for a better overall experience.

What have I done to improve my mental game?

Read a bunch.  I read a book called Boston Marathon or Bust, that is supposedly this step by step plan to ensure a BQ.  I didn’t follow it to a T, but I incorporated some of the mental stuff.  Like visualizing yourself on race day from the starting line to the finish line, including the pain and how you’d deal with it, etc.  According to the book, you are supposed to visualize this twice a day.  I didn’t come close to doing it that much (I tried to do it at bedtime and most of the time I’d fall asleep by mile 10!), but I did it often enough.  The other technique that the author swears by is mantras while running, to get you through hard times.  I did this alot during my runs, when I would get bored or they were hard.  My chant/mantra was just a series of “I am strong.  I am fast.  I am fit.”  Over and over.  I don’t think it changed my attitude about myself, but I think it worked to get me up tough hills or through boring spots in a super long run.  I think it will be helpful during the marathon to repeat it over and over when I’m in pain and want to slow down or quit.  I also read Kara Goucher’s new book and, while I found alot of it to be simplistic, there were some good take-aways that I think have improved my mental game and overall attitude about training and racing.  I also think my mental game has improved because I’m physically in better shape, which gives me more confidence to meet my goals.

Obviously I hope that this kick-ass training cycle translates into a kick-ass marathon too, in terms of both clock time and fun times!  My body and mind are definitely ready for Saturday.

Grandma’s Training Week #10 Recap

This weekend was filled with Naked Running, grad party (which you KNOW means 3 pieces of cake for Cindi!), and my last long run before Grandma’s.  It is now officially taper time!  (This week was a cut back, but I don’t really consider 53 miles tapering compared to what I’m used to!)

Chillaxing with the Mother-in-law at a Grad Party

Jumbo Snapping Turtle on my running trail (turn your head sideways, i can’t figure out how to make this picture rotate)

Dakota Rail Trail, where most of my long run was.  (WTF?  iphone transferred the picture sideways to my computer and wordpress won’t save it when I rotate it.  Turn your head sideways for the real effect!)

Grandma’s Training Week #10 recap:

  • Miles run: 52.9
  • Pilates: 2 times

Monday:  Rest day.  Completely.  Zero fitness.  Just soaked up the relaxation and let the body heal.

Tuesday: Pilates (advanced).  8 miles (8:30) w/ intervals 4 x400, 2×1600, 4×200.  It was warmer than I would like for intervals (68 degrees) and windy.  So not ideal, but i wanted to get them done.  Paces were ok, though I was surprised that the short little 200m intervals were so tough! Results:

  • 4 x 400m (6:35, 6:30, 6:33, 6:30)
  • 2x 1600m (7:10; 7:15)
  • 4x200m (6:24, 6:36, 6:27, 6:44)

Wednesday: 7 miles easy (9:11).  Was tempted to skip this run as I was SO SO tired in the morning, but forced myself to get out there and I was glad I did!  I have to run on National Running Day!

Thursday:  12 miles easy.  12 mile medium effort (8:40).  I knew I’d end up skipping or cutting short Saturday’s 8 miles at medium effort, since I would be Naked Running on Saturday, so I decided to do this run at medium effort.  Really, it was 11 miles at medium effort (8:30 – 8:46) and last mile at easy pace (9:19).  I am continuously amazed at how effortless this pace is feeling for me.  Love to see the training pay off.

Friday.  7 miles easy.  6 miles recovery (9:57).  The legs felt really heavy and tight.  I needed a break in mileage and pace, so I slowed way down and cut it short.  Time to listen to the body and not be a slave to the schedule during these last weeks.

Saturday:   Pilates (advanced).  8 miles medium effort.  Naked Run! Approximately 5 miles, probably about 9:00 pace.  Yes, it bugs me not to have exact details!  I’m Type A!

Sunday: 15 miles (8:50).  This was a great last long run before Grandma’s.  My plan was to just do what my body felt like doing for each mile.  Incorporated some short hills.  Paces for miles were between 8:32 and 9:08.  I was particularly happy with it because it was warm (62 degrees at start, 67 at finish; sunny) and the pace didn’t feel horrible.  Good confidence boost in case the weather at Grandma’s ends up sucking.

Bring on the taper!

267.8 miles!

Finished May this morning with an 8 mile run, which put me at 267.8 miles for the month of May.  I haven’t gone back and looked through my runningahead log for the 4 years I’ve been tracking, but I think this month probably ranks right up there as the highest mileage month to date!

This morning’s speed workout sounded (relatively) easy:  4x400m, 2x1600m, 4x200m (with 200m recovery jog between intervals and 400m between sets) But the temp (68 degrees and humid) and the wind (20mph gusts) conspired against me to make it more challenging than it should have been.  When I looked at the workout on paper I figured it would be easy to FLY on the 200 meter intervals, since they are so short.  But I was tired and the legs were not moving well at that point, so the pace on the 200 meter intervals ended up being right around the 400m pace.  Weird.


  • 4 x 400m (6:35, 6:30, 6:33, 6:30)
  • 2x 1600m (7:10; 7:15)
  • 4x200m (6:24, 6:36, 6:27, 6:44)

Guess what I started doing again today?  Tracking my food/drinks on myplate.  Even though I swore that thing off because it was irritating and evil.  Why?  Because I’ve found that during taper I go a bit crazy with the eating and beer drinking.  I’ve had SUCH a strong training cycle this time around that I want to force myself to see things through all the way to race day.  So I figured if I’m tracking food maybe it will help me control my sweet tooth and beer drinking a bit, which may translate to a better race.*  Plus, I’ve been having the GI issues again recently (this morning too), so maybe watching what I put in my mouth will help.

*Which is not to say that I won’t be eating sweets and drinking beer, because I know that when I completely deprive myself it backfires and I binge even more!

Did it!

Whew!  Made it through the biggest week of Grandma’s marathon training. And what a week it was.  LOTS of quality and miles.  With the holiday weekend and another crazy week with work and life, I didn’t end up having time to fit in pilates more than once.  (Actually I attempted it a second time, but gave up about 5 minutes in, when I just wasn’t feeling it).


Week #9 recap:

  • Miles run: 72.3
  • Pilates: 1 1/2

Monday: 6.2 miles (9:26). Pilates.  Easy paced recovery run.

Tuesday: 11 miles (8:34).  With 6 x 1 mile intervals, 400m recovery jog between.  Goal pace for the mile intervals was 7:20 – 7:30.  Ended up with 7:18, 7:19, 7:19, 7:33, 7:46, 7:30.  These were TOUGH!

Wednesday: 8 miles (9:04).  Legs felt sluggish and heavy.  Probably from yesterday’s speedy stuff.

Thursday: 9 miles (8:29).  4 of the miles were at tempo.  Goal 7:50.  Actual:  7:46, 7:50, 7:47, 7:46.  Felt much much easier than previous tempo runs.  Yipee!

Friday: 8 miles (9:17).  Forced myself to take it easy, with a big weekend of running coming up.

Saturday: 10.1 miles medium effort (8:24).  I love how these medium effort runs feel, especially when they end up being at a pace that I’d be satisfied with for a marathon!

Sunday: 20 miles (9:14).  Decent feeling long run at our cabin.  Not the best places to run long around there, so circled around Izaty’s area.  Ended up running into Meghan at one point and ran with her for a mile.  Fun!  Had major GI issues at mile 15 and was thankful that a bathroom was near.  Uggggg.  Didn’t have dairy the day before, so not sure what caused it (though I did have really greasy fried chicken and two beers the night before, so maybe that contributed?)

I always love the feeling of getting the last 20 miler of a training cycle out of the way.  Technically taper starts this week, though this plan really seems to have what I would consider more of a two week aggressive taper with this 3rd week just cutting back the miles a bit (58 miles this week, 41 miles this week, 8  miles in the five days before Grandma’s).  Should be interesting, since the plans I’ve usually followed have tapered a bit more.  As usual, if things don’t feel right, I’ll listen to the body and cut back.

Booked my hotel for Grandma’s last week.  Can’t wait!

New Zealand! (And Grandma’s Training Week #8 recap)

Mt.  Doom – New Zealand

One Tree Hill – Aukland, New Zealand

Roadside pic – heading south in New Zealand towards Wellington

No, I didn’t jet off to New Zealand and forget to tell you, my beloved blog readers, about it!  My husband did though.  He gets back today!  I just never think it’s a good idea to announce to The World my 5 blog readers that my husband is out of the country and I’m alone at the house with the kids.

With the husband being gone the last 9 days (read:  me being in charge of the house, meals, the puppy, the kids, rides to and from baseball and track every day) and with TWO trials this past week, this week’s scheduled cut back week couldn’t have come at a better time!

And cut back I did.  The schedule called for 47 – 49 miles.  I didn’t even hit that.  I ran on all 6 scheduled days, and ran the workout part of each run, but ended up cutting some of the warm up/cool down miles short because I simply DID NOT have enough time to get it all done this week.

But the good news is that I survived the week and am ready to tackle my biggest week of the training plan coming up (71 miles!).

So here is how Grandma’s Training Week #8 shook out:

  • Miles run:  41.3 miles
  • Pilates: 3 times

Monday:  Recovery 6 miles (9:22 pace).  Pilates advanced. Ran early evening, while the kids were at baseball and track practice.  66 degrees and sunny.  I’m hoping to run some of my easy runs in the heat the next month, so I can start acclimating to warmer weather.

Tuesday: 9 miles w/ intervals (8:46). Again, the temperature was a bit warmer than I am used to now, but this was good for acclimation.  52 and sunny.  The intervals just didn’t feel good.  I probably didn’t fuel/hydrate properly yesterday.

Supposed to be 2x800m, 2x1600m, 2x400m, with 400m recovery between intervals and sets (but 200m recovery between the 400’s). Goals were 6:45 for 800s, 7:00 for miles, 6:40 for 400’s. Probably too ambitious. Only one I hit were the 400’s (which surprises me because i was tired). The mile repeats were so so hard. Grrrr.

Wednesday:  5.9 miles (8:37).  Supposed to be 10 miles, but ran out of time.  Felt really good though.

Thursday: 6.4 miles (8:25), with 4 miles at tempo.  Tempo pace goal was around 7:50.  Ended up with 7:51, 7:47, 7:53, 7:51.  Felt harder than it should have.   Also cut the run short (it was supposed to be 8.5 miles) because I ran out of time.

Friday:  Rest day!  (And trial #2, so perfect timing because I wouldn’t have had time for a run before work and I had major headache after work).

Saturday:  5k race (25.13).  Pilates (advanced). Winner!  Schedule called for a 10k race, but there wasn’t one convenient this weekend. Plus, we always do the Celiac 5k and that was on Saturday.

Sunday:  10.6 miles (9:05).  Pilates (abs). Weird to have my “long” run be only 10 miles!

I love this plan!

You know I love this Advanced Grandma’s Training Plan, right?!

Today was a good example of why I loved it.  I have an insanely busy work week and an even crazier personal/life week.  So it was hard for me to want to get out the door and do my workout, because I had so much to do I just wanted to sit on the computer and keep plugging away at work stuffs.  But the speed workout that was on the schedule looked interesting to me.  It was something I’ve never done in marathon training.  2 x 800m, 2 x 1600m, 2x400m, with 400m jog between intervals and sets (but 200m jog between the last short intervals).  Had I been following the same old Pfitz schedule, I know I’d have been even less motivated to get out the door. But this looked sort of fun, so off I went.

Goal pace (just randomly chosen by me, cause it seemed like paces I could handle):

  • 800’s at 6:45 pace
  • 1600m at 7:00 pace
  • 400m at 6:40 pace

The goal pace ended up being too ambitious for most of it (except the short 400m’s – but I think that is because an end was in sight!).  The 800’s seemed to last forever.  And the 1600’s lasted forever, plus some!  This whole workout seemed so so challenging.  And I just felt “off”.  And it was in 50 degrees and full sun, which I am not used to this early in the season.

The results:

  • 800     3:22   (6:44 pace)
  • 800     3:29   (6:59 pace)
  • 1600   7:17   (7:17 pace)
  • 1600   7:24  (7:24 pace)
  • 400     1:36   (6:27 pace)
  • 400     1:39   (6:39 pace)

So, I was feeling like this sucked, because I have a 5k race that I’m doing on Saturday, and I thought I’d be able to do that at about 7:10 pace.  But if I struggled this much on the intervals, that seems too ambitious.  But, then I went back and looked at the Pfitz stuff and my running log and realized that he does have us do mile repeats, in the 2nd to the last week before the marathon.  3 of them.  Last September, before my sort-of BQ, my mile repeat paces were 7:31, 7:47 and 7:42.  So it DOES seem like I’m faster now.  Which leads me back to my beginning point:  I love this training plan!  I love what it’s doing for my morale, my fitness and my paces!

Grandma’s Training Week #7 Recap

Grandma’s Training Week #7 recap

  • Miles run: 65.7
  • Pilates: 3 times

Monday: 6.3 miles recovery (9:20). Pilates (advanced).  I waited until mid-afternoon to run this, in order to give me some extra sleep in the morning and extra hours to recover from yesterday’s 22 miles.  My legs weren’t nearly as heavy as they were last week after my 18 miler.

Tuesday: 8.65 miles with 12x400m intervals (8:44).  Intervals were between 6:27 and 6:46.  My goal had been to have them be around 6:40, so not too bad.  This was a tough workout!

Wednesday: 12.2 miles (9:13). Pilates (advanced).  At Gale Woods, which has a couple big hills on each loop.  I love getting double digit runs in before work!  This plan is higher in mileage, but doesn’t have as many mid-week longish runs as the Pfitz plans I’ve used.

Thursday: 8.5 miles (8:32) with 5 miles at tempo pace.  Tempo pace goal was sub 8:00.  Victory!  7:57, 7:59, 7:56, 7:55, 7:54.  Though this run, and this pace, felt harder than it should have.  Maybe because it was humid?  Or because I’m coming off a big 4 weeks of high mileage?

Friday: 8 miles easy.  4 miles easy (9:06).  I had an insanely busy day and needed to be dressed for court and out the door by 6:30 a.m.  I got up insanely early to get the scheduled easy 8 miles in, but while I was running I started thinking about the Special K bars (yum!) that I had promised Carter I’d make for his baseball party (which was right after work).  I hadn’t made them and had decided just to buy store bought cookies on the way home from work.  But I started thinking about how much he liked the bars.  And that I had PROMISED to make them.  And that running shouldn’t be more important to me than keeping my promise to my kids.  And that skipping 4 of the 8 easy miles wouldn’t make or break my marathon.  So I bailed after 4 miles and made the bars.  (And later the party ended up being cancelled because of the rain!  🙂 )

Saturday: 10.1 miles (8:28). Pilates (abs).  This is my unexpected marathon pace run.  Was supposed to be medium effort, and it was.  Very pleasant surprise to end up at a pace that would get me 3:45!  It felt fabulous and I could have kept on going.

Sunday: 16 miles with last 4 faster (8:52).  The goal here was to run steady for the first 12 miles and then faster for last 4 miles.  I had read from McMillan’s site about fast finish long runs being good predictors of what you could run in a marathon, so I was happy that I was able to run the last four miles at: 8:20, 8:18, 8:12, 8:15.  Especially since it was at Carver Park Reserve, so a bit hilly.  My current thought is that I can run a 3:40 marathon, which equates to an 8:23 pace per mile.  But since marathons usually measure a little longer than 26.2, and since I may need a bathroom break at some point, my thought was that I aim for about 8:18 pace.  Let’s hope McMillan’s predictor is right!  Anyone have experience with it?

Marathon pace snuck up on me!

When I was thinking about switching to a different type of training plan for Grandma’s and I saw the Advanced Training Plan that was prepared by Dick Beardsley, it struck me that something was missing.  Marathon pace runs.  It was higher in mileage than I had previously done, and it had more quality workouts each week (hills or intervals AND a tempo each week).  But I didn’t see any marathon pace runs on the schedule, which gave me pause.  In previous training plans the MP runs were a confidence building workout (or the opposite, a reality check!).  Either way, they were a workout that I thought was necessary for success.  I mean, if I’m going to run a marathon at a certain pace, shouldn’t I practice that pace?  Nonetheless, I figured that OBVIOUSLY Dick Beardsley must know what he is doing for Grandma’s training, so I’d give it a go.  Plus, the previous plans that I’d done didn’t get me quite to where I wanted to be on race day, so what did I have to lose?

Well, when I was nearing the end of my 10 mile “medium effort” run that was on the schedule and I hit the stop button on garmin and saw 10 miles at 8:28 pace, it occurred to me that without even thinking about it or specifically aiming for it, I had just done 10 miles at marathon pace (though, truth be told, the MP I want and think I’m capable of is faster than that).  And the pace didn’t feel like MP – it truly just felt like a medium effort.

So is it the extra mileage, the extra speed/quality workouts, or both, that are bringing down my paces and making things seem so much easier and make me feel so much more fit?  Whatever it is, I’ll take it!

Tomorrow’s long run will bring me to the end of my fourth week in a row of 60+ miles.  I get a break in the mileage next week,  with next weekend only having a 4 miler and a 10k race-effort (I can’t find a 10k race that fits in my schedule.  Grrrr.)  It will be very weird to not have a long run next weekend.  I feel like I’ll be tempted to do something longer, but I’ll force myself to trust the schedule!

So, since I can’t find a 10k race, my options are:

  • 4 miles easy Saturday and then just do my own one-person 10k “race” Sunday (run at race pace by myself)
  • 5k race on Saturday and 10k easy run on Sunday (I am going to the 5k on Saturday with the kids, either way; so I’ll either run it easy or race it).

What say you?

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