Little Rock, Here I Come!

Update: Just received email that LR Marathon IS offering supposed real time tracking on  Not sure how up to date it will really be.  But if you are curious, you can apparently follow me there.

5 easy miles this morning and everything feels good, including the right shin.  Whew.  I am SO ready for Little Rock Marathon!  I’m all packed and I leave ultra early tomorrow.  Weather is looking awesome:  38 at start, 50 at finish, partly sunny.  For those interested in tracking, I think it will be on onlineraceresults.  I’m lucky number 304.   You can also follow me on twitter (not during the race!): @mattlegal

Fun stuff!


Starting out slow!

“Most mistakes in a race are made in the first two minutes, perhaps in the very first minute.” – Jack Daniels

Saw this quote on Twitter by @RunningQuotes yesterday and liked it.  Not sure if it holds true for a marathon, or just shorter races.  But it seemed fitting and served as a good reminder for me in light of my workout yesterday.  It was my “dress rehearsal” that Pfitz’ plan calls for (except it was way too cold here for me to dress in the super cute black/pink/green shorts that I will wear in Arkansas).  It was supposed to be 7 miles with 2 at marathon pace.  I decided to also add in a 1/4 mile at 5k pace because I had heard of some people doing a similar workout pre-marathon, with the idea that after a short interval of 5k pace, marathon pace will feel really easy.  With both the tempo and MP portions of my workout, I had a really hard time finding the correct pace.  My legs (and lungs) wanted to go faster than they “should” have .  So ended up with the 1/4 mile tempo being at 7:06 pace and the MP miles at 8:06 and 8:18 pace.  But during each of those segments, at the beginning and then randomly throughout, I was going WAY too fast.  Which is why Daniels’ quote seemed fitting:  I have to make sure not to start out too fast.  Goal pace is about 8:23.   I’ll try to do first mile at pace, or even slower.

Something else is also going on that I had hoped was in my imagination and just from taper madness.  But it’s not.  The outside edge of my right shin is funky and has been since Monday.  Not painful, but not normal.  Tweaked, I would say.  I’ve been foam rolling it since Monday and then this morning started icing it.  I can tell something is off with it because when I foam roll my right leg, it hurts to use the foam roller, but when I foam roll the left leg I can do the whole leg without it hurting at all.  It didn’t hurt at all when I ran yesterday, and wasn’t worse after I ran, so I think things will be fine.  I’m mostly just mentioning it here so I have a record of it when I go back to look through my notes/blog re: this marathon.  I was planning on running 6 recovery paced miles today but will probably do some biking instead.  At this point 6 miles isn’t going to help and I think biking will be easier on whatever is going on with the shin.

Race Week!

I’m super excited for the Little Rock Marathon on Sunday!  I’m excited to travel somewhere I’ve never been (even if it is Arkansas), for the challenge, the pre-race excitement at the starting line, the pain (weird, I know!), the feeling of getting to mile 25 and knowing there is just one mile left, crossing the finish line and getting the JUMBO medal, and some delicious post-race beers and BBQ!

Yesterday’s sermon at church was very timely.  It was about not worrying about things, since worrying doesn’t do a bit of good.  Fitting, since I was worrying about my flight (whether it will make it without delays; I leave Saturday and was starting to second guess and think I should have booked a Friday flight), the weather (the weather reports yesterday said rain all weekend), my legs (I had a crappy “long” run yesterday with some minor issues with my left foot), what to pack (I already laid everything out because I want to fit it all into a carry on, but with the weather unknown I need to repack later this week), etc.  Even though I told myself not to worry about these things, I was.  I’m total Type-A.  I analyze and over think and worry.  But the pastor’s sermon made sense.   So the theme for this week is Don’t Worry, Since It Doesn’t Do You Any Good.*

Taper Week #2, recap:

Miles run: 29.6; Pilates: 2 times; Biking: 60 minutes

  • M: pilates
  • T: 4.5 miles (9:02; on TM w/ some hills)
  • W: 8.1 miles (8:49; w/ 3×1 mile intervals on hills 7:17; 7:30; 7:23)
  • Th: pilates
  • F: bike 1 hour
  • Sa: 7 miles (9:48)
  • Su: 10 miles (9:22)

*It’s alot easier not to worry after peeking at the Little Rock weather forecast this morning (even though I told myself not to do it), and it’s now forecast for 32/57 sunny.  🙂

Little Rock Marathon Training Recap

The training plan: Pfitz 12 week/55 mile max, modified to add an extra easy run or two each week and to switch one of the easy runs to a hill workout of some sort.  Oh – and I miscounted the weeks, so I actually did 13 weeks of training!  I think I did a good job of meeting the goals I set for myself.

The extras: weights; pilates; biking (stationary) for cross training

The good: I feel really happy that I got in a solid training cycle, with all the extras added in, during our ultra cold and ultra snowy Minnesota winter.

The bad: The ultra cold and ultra snowy Minnesota winter interfered with some of the scheduled speed workouts and medium-long runs, so I had to improvise.  Hopefully the changes I made were sufficient for me to meet my race goals.

The thing I’m happiest with: My hill work.  I feel strong and aerobically ready to tackle the hills.  My form on hills has improved, as have my paces.

The food and drinks:  Despite my posts about the world’s biggest brownie, cake, cookies, cheetos and beer (oh, and let’s not forget the delicious sprinkle covered long john), I had a good 13 weeks of eating and (not) drinking (particularly when you consider my training was over the holiday season!).  It’s just not that exciting to do a blog entry on how I drank lots of water, took my vitamins, ate my oatmeal, ate lots of carrots, etc.  With the exception of New Years Eve and my friend’s 40th birthday 5 weeks ago, I limited myself to just a drink or two at a time.  (And on those two times I did drink more than a few, I hydrated with lots of water and wasn’t CRAZY!)

The goals: I feel like I am in shape for sub 3:40 and that I can do it, even with the Little Rock hills.  But, as always, my other goal is to have fun and finish strong.

The details, for you number geeks:

  • 588.5 miles of running in 13 weeks
  • Highest mileage week was 61.6 miles
  • Lots of pilates, weights and biking
  • Long Runs: 1 – 21 miler; 2 – 20 milers; 1- 17 miler; 2 – 16 milers; 2 – 15 milers
  • Marathon pace runs: 8 miles, 10 miles; 7 miles
  • Tempo runs:  pace typically 7:45 – 8:00 (some were hilly)
  • Intervals:  paces between 6:55  – 7:25 (some were hilly)
  • Hill workouts: at least one “workout” a week on the TM or repeats, plus typically at least one (or more) of the weekly runs were on hilly routes (including all of my long runs)
  • Races:  World’s Shortest Half Marathon, at 7:59 pace

Bring on Little Rock!

Back off, sickos!

ATTENTION everyone with runny noses, coughs, sneezes, watery eyes and general sickos:

Back off.  Do not try to approach me and shake my hand, even if you are a client, business associate or someone else important.**  Do not breathe on me, or even near me.  Actually, don’t even look my way.  I have a marathon to run next week and all your sick germs are starting to freak me out.

Please.  And thank you.

** Please forgive me in advance, Pastor, for sneaking out the side door of church on Sunday so that I can avoid shaking your hand (after 200 other people have shaken it before me; Nope; Not happening this Sunday!)

Hills, hills, hills

I’m still thinking about the hills in Little Rock.  I’ve been reading race report after race report for the Little Rock marathon.  Some people say the hills aren’t too bad.  Some describe them as mountains.  I suppose it’s all relative to what you’ve been training on and what you are used to.

I’ve done the training for a hilly marathon.  I’ve done at least one “hill” workout most weeks on the treadmill since mid-December.  Initially I could only do 2 miles of hills on TM and the pace was 10:13.  Eventually I was at 6 miles of hills (up and down) on TM with 8:52 pace.  Plus, most weeks I’ve done my medium and/or long runs (including some tempos and marathon pace runs) on hilly courses around home.  I have no clue whether the hills around here even compare to the Little Rock course, but they are definitely rolling hills and definitely more hillwork than I’ve ever done in training.  So I feel like my body is physically ready to tackle the hills.  I just need to work a bit on the mental aspect (thus this post, to remind myself that I am trained and prepared, so I should be mentally ready too!)

Now all I need is a strategy to execute on the hills.  I found something on the internet from a woman named “Coach Jenny” on Runners World regarding pacing on hills (she is addressing a question about Baltimore, which is apparently hilly in the 2nd 1/2).  Link here. The highlight of her article makes alot of sense and seems like a great strategy, one that I will try to adopt on the hills.  It is:

A sure way to earn a personal record on a course like Baltimore’s is to run the hills “mindfully.”  Meaning, make the most of every hill, or as I like to say, make friends with the hills.  Go into the race with a hill strategy — one that will keep your mind actively engaged on running every hill efficiently.  Most runners burn themselves out on the hills trying to maintain their race pace as they run up.  Doing so expends a lot of energy and leaves you fatigued and mindless at the top of the hill.  Rather than hammering up the hills, let your effort level (heart rate or breathing) be your guide.  Maintain close to the same “effort level” you’re running at before the hill (versus pace) to run up the hill.  In other words, if your heart rate is at 80% before the hill, maintain close to that effort going up the hill (which means slowing down going up).

Focus on your form, keeping your strides shorter and your spine tall up the hill.  Stay relaxed and focus as you climb.  Runners will most likely pass you on the way up.  Let them go.  As you reach the top of the hill, you’ll be raring to take advantage of gravity and its downward pull.  This is where you make up the difference in time, passing runners; this is when hills become fun.  Let the hill pull you down.  Open your stride, lean slightly into the hill and think “let go.”  The more relaxed you are, the less impact you’ll create on your muscles and joints.  Like all things, running downhill takes practice but once you perfect your hill strategy, you’ll never want to run a flat course again.
Honestly what worries me more than the uphills is the downhill at mile 17.  It sounds like it is so steep that you literally have to walk down the thing so you don’t fall on your face.  I don’t do well on downhills in the first place (though I’ve trained for them this time and feel like I am a lot better at them now, so we’ll see), let alone STEEP downhills.  The elevation profile from the Little Rock marathon website is a bit hard to read, but it does look like the downhill at mile 17 goes from 519 feet to about 250 feet very quickly.  I’m not going to let it freak me out.  When I’m thinking about pacing, I’m just going to plan on needing to go slow down that hill and plan the rest of my miles/pace accordingly.  That’s the plan anyway.  I’m also planning on more than one F-bomb during that stretch of the course!

How NOT to prepare for a long run

I was reminded this week about the importance of fueling/preparing properly for (and during) a long run.  I pretty much violated all of the things that SHOULD be done before a long run, and boy did it show during my run.  The problem was that I didn’t plan on doing my long run Saturday, but when the weather people started talking about another Evil Minnesota Winter Storm coming early Sunday morning, I knew I had to do it Saturday or it wouldn’t get done.  So I didn’t think about prep/fueling on Friday (and had court all day, which meant very little food and water; followed by too much food and some beer on Friday night).  Then Saturday morning was spent in a class (with lots of coffee and a scone), followed by lunch at McDonalds (which I NEVER eat, but it was quick and we were starving by the time the class ended at 1:30 and at that point I just wanted to eat something and get out and get the run done).  So my long run was started at 2:15 on Saturday (I am SO not an afternoon runner anyway).  I thought it was colder than it was, so I had on an extra layer that just made my legs feel heavy.  The McDonalds fries were making my stomach feel heavy.  Since I was full, I couldn’t stomach gels, so only had 1/2 of one.  I was dehydrated, which was making my legs feel weak and my head feel light-headed.  Little inclines felt like mountains.  Not a good run.  But I was very happy to at least have gotten it in.

I feel pretty good about the first week of taper.  Continuing with what seems to be the norm for this round of training, I didn’t quite stick with the plan.  I was supposed to do an 8k-10k tuneup race, but life and weather got in the way.  I had hoped to at least swap that out for some tempo miles, but it wouldn’t work with my schedule.  No worries though.

I did manage to follow the basic principles of tapering for a marathon:

  • Cut back in total mileage about 20-25%
  • Maintain intensity/quality of training
  • Don’t go crazy and add a bunch of other non-running activity to replace the miles
  • rest the body!

Taper Week #1, recap:

Miles run: 38.9; Minutes biked: 40; weights: 1 time; pilates: 4 times

  • M: biking (40 minutes); weights; pilates
  • T: 4.2 miles (9:02)
  • W: 8 miles (8:33) (w/5x600m at 5k pace; 6:42 -7:16, which was sort of random)
  • Th: pilates
  • F: 6.2 miles (9:04) (w/ 4 hill sprints)
  • Sa: 16 miles (9:26)
  • Su: 4.5 miles (9:50); pilates

Focus for this week:  Eating better, hydrating more, sleeping more!

Ugly feet! (and Little Rock Week #10 recap)

I’m thinking my feet are gonna scare people at the pool on our cruise!  My feet always have that ugly whitish/yellowish callous type thing on them from running.  The latest and greatest is the lovely blood blister that popped up during my (short) run yesterday and got worse during my long run today.  It didn’t bother me much during the run today (I only noticed it a bit when I turned corners, then pressure would go on it).  But it hurts now that I’ve stopped running.

This week was crazy, with life and work stuff.  It was also crazy with weather fluctuations.  -13 temp (-25 windchills) early in the week and 42 and sunny today!  It felt SO wonderful to be out there in the warmth today.  All kinds of runners, walkers, kids biking, and people just enjoying life came out of the woodwork today.  It made my long run fun.  I just took off from the house and meandered through tons of neighborhoods, watching everyone do their thing.  Then the second half of the run I took the hilly route towards St. Boni and back.  Very fun.  I felt so good and strong during my long run.  Ran the second 1/2 of it faster than the first 1/2.  Ended up with a 9:05 pace overall.

The weather and work ended up making me modify the schedule this week. I skipped an 11 miler completely.  I also didn’t do the intervals that were scheduled (4x1200m at 5k pace), but added a 3 mile tempo instead.  My paces this week have been faster than previous training cycles.  And the faster pace feels easier!

Little Rock Week #10 recap

Miles run:  48; Minutes biked:  45; Pilates: 2 times; Weights 1 1/2 time

  • M: 4 miles (10:09)  (through fresh snow; cold!)
  • T:  bike; weights; pilates
  • W: 10 miles (8:52) (hilly; on TM)
  • Th: 8 miles (8:53) (on TM)
  • F: complete slug rest day
  • Sa: 6 miles (8:19; with 3 hilly miles at tempo of 7:50ish)
  • Su:  20 miles (9:05)

My long runs this training cycle feel a lot better than previous (with the exception of the last 6 miles of my first 20 miler, where I was crying and wanted to die).  They are faster, stronger feeling and on much tougher routes.  In the summer I usually end up doing a good chunk of my long runs on the bike path, which is completely flat.  All of my long runs this time have been on hilly roads.  Good Little Rock prep!



Weekly wrap up

This was a great week of training, ending with the best weekend of running in a long time.  Both my runs this weekend felt great.  It is amazing what a little warm-up in the weather can do (about 18 degrees during my run yesterday and 28 degrees this morning!).  Last big week of training and, of course, they are now saying this week is going to turn bitterly cold starting tomorrow.

Little Rock Training, Week #9

Miles Run: 55.1; Biking:  45 mintues; Weights: 2 times; Pilates: 2 times

  • M: 5 miles (9:03; hills on TM); bike 15 min.; weights
  • T: 8 miles (8:52; w/ 5x600m at about 7:10 pace on TM); pilates
  • W: bike 30 min.; weights
  • Th: 11.1 miles (8:54)
  • F: 4 miles (9:47)
  • Sa: 21 miles (9:15)
  • Su: 6 miles (9:46); pilates

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