Marathon Race Strategy: No F-Bombs

I admit it. ¬†I checked the Boston Entry list again this morning. ūüôā Just to make sure I didn’t dream the whole thing up and that I really AM running in the Boston Marathon in April. ¬†And my name was still really there. ūüôā

Ok – who’s sick of me talking about Boston already?

Well then, let’s talk Chicago Marathon! My run this morning left me feeling MUCH better about things. ¬†6 miles with 3 miles at goal marathon pace. ¬†And the best part of it was that the MP miles felt great – almost effortless. ¬†Of course there were only 3 of them, instead of 26.2 of them! ¬†But still.

Between life and work craziness, I’ve been trying to figure out a race strategy. ¬†It’s easier, in many ways, to figure out pacing strategy for a race like Chicago where it is apparently flat the whole way (except for tiny bit at mile 26). ¬†I don’t need to take into account evil 2 mile gradual uphills, like at Twin Cities. ¬†Or EVIL downhills at mile 17 like at Little Rock.

I know I’m NOT going to go with the old “go out too fast and then gradually fade and then finish the last 6 miles dropping F-bombs” strategy. ¬†I’ve done that one far too many times and it’s just way too painful.

I also know I’m not going to use the strategy where I have very specific prescribed paces for each mile. ¬†That strategy has too much freak out potential (i.e. I’ll freak out if I’m off pace and then lose my mental game and then resort to the afore-mentioned F-bombs; been there, done that many times as well).

I also know I’m NOT going to follow a pacer. ¬†Pacers freak me out. ¬†They usually go too fast or too slow. ¬†And then I freak myself out when I get off of their pace and then lose my mental game. ¬†And then – you guessed it – I resort to F-bombs. ¬†I quickly learned after my first couple of marathons that pace groups were not my thing.

So what IS my race strategy? ¬†Simple. ¬†Sort of. ¬†I’m starting at Pace A (which is a MP that if I did 26.2 miles in, I’d be ECSTATIC, but which is actually slower than the goal MP I’ve had in mind, based on my training and fitness, the last 14 weeks) ¬†and holding it through the half marathon point. ¬†And then I’m playing it by feel and either speeding up (by about 10 seconds a mile) if things feel good (well if they feel ok, do they ever really feel good??) or else maintaining Pace A through mile 20. ¬†Then, when I get to mile 2o, I’m switching to mile-by-mile mode and giving it all that I have for each mile (and by “all that I have”, I don’t mean all out like mile race pace. ¬†I mean all that I have for mile 20, 21, 22, etc. of a marathon, which I’m hoping is right around goal marathon pace, or faster). ¬†One mile at a time.

I like my strategy because to me it doesn’t sound complicated. (It may sound complicated to you because I haven’t told you my actual paces; a girl’s gotta have some secrets). ¬†It sounds very do-able. ¬†It has flexibility for me to adjust based on how I feel on that day, during the race. ¬†And I shouldn’t freak out if one particular mile is a bit off. ¬†And it should get me some kind of big PR! ¬†That’s the plan anyway.

And, for the record, my plan is NOT to switch into F-bomb mode at any time.  Unless it ends up being 80 degrees and sunny, then I reserve the right to drop F-bombs right from the starting gun.

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Quit Your Bitching, Minnesotans!

Everywhere ¬†you turn lately, Minnesotans are bitching about the heat. ¬†YES, it sucks. ¬†YES, it is insanely hot and HUMID (78 when I ran at 5:30 this morning; high later will be 97 with heat index making it feel like 115). ¬†But it is what it is. ¬†It doesn’t need to prevent you from getting ¬†your workout in.

Cindi’s hot weather running tips:

  • Get up insanely early and get your run done before the sun rises. ¬†It makes a HUGE difference. ¬†It will make your run bearable.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. ¬†All day long. ¬†Before your run. ¬†During your run (carry water, even if you normally don’t). ¬†After your run. ¬†In the middle of the night. ¬†And not just with water – use NUUN. ¬†Drink gatorade. ¬†Replace those electrolytes that you are losing like crazy when you sweat.
  • Adjust your workouts. ¬†Slow the pace down. ¬†Run easy. ¬†If you are doing speed work, do shorter intervals or less intervals or rest longer between intervals.
  • Listen to your body. If you aren’t responding well to the heat, back off.
  • Change your attitude. ¬†Instead of bitching about the heat, embrace the heat. ¬†Think about how EASY your running is going to feel when the heat and humidity break. ¬†Running in these conditions sucks now, but it will make you stronger.
If all else fails, think about those runs that you did in January and February, when you were bitching about how insanely COLD it was. ¬†Better yet, go back and watch slide shows of running in the cold. ¬†That should cool you down. ¬†Here’s one for you: ¬†my post-blizzard run, in pictures, from December 12 of last year.
This morning’s workout: ¬†5.75 miles in 48:00 (8:23) with 2 of them hilly and at marathon pace (and since Coach ran with me, pace was pushed and the MP miles were 8:11 and 7:50; ¬†Woot!)

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?

The First 20

I’m always a little nervous/anxious about the first 20 miler of any training cycle.¬† I always hope that it will be a good strong run, so it can sort of set the tone for the rest of the long runs in the training cycle.¬† I looked back through my previous marathon training cycles and I rarely have a strong first 20 miler.¬† My one before Little Rock started out strong, with about an 8:54 pace for the first 14 miles, then it BOMBED and I struggled with the last 6 miles, crying and having some 10 and 11 minute miles.¬† (Remember that run, when it was -10 windchill???).¬† My first 20 miler before TCM last year also sucked, with a 9:31 average pace (which isn’t terrible), but the last 3 miles were 10:00+ minute pace.¬† My first 20 miler before Illinois last year was also good, with 9:06 average pace and the last 6 miles being about 8:50 pace.

Well today was the first 20 miler of this Grandma’s training cycle and it went GREAT!¬† I felt strong during the whole run, including the last 5 miles which I just “pushed” and they ended up being basically marathon pace.¬† The best part of it was that it was at Baker Park Reserve’s 6.2 mile loop (3 times, plus some randomness), which is rolling hills.¬† So to finish that strong, with all 20 miles being on rolling hills, is a good omen!¬† Ended up with 20 miles in 2:59:25 (8:59 pace).¬† With the last five miles being 8:40, 8:21, 8:29, 8:26, 9:06 (it was 8:42 pace for 3/4 of a mile, then my right thigh felt a little funky so I slowed and finished the mile at 9:06 pace).

Elevation profile – Baker 20 miles

This is a high mileage (for me) week (60 miles so far, with today’s long run), so I’m really happy that this first 20 miler went so well!

Bring on the Easter candy!  I LOVE peeps!  Marshmallow sugar deliciousness!

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.

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 Рand 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!

Little Rock Training, week #3

Anyone get any fun running stuff for Christmas?¬† The only running stuff I got was socks and sport beans.¬† BUT – I got a super fun cross-training gift.¬† Snowshoes!¬† They were from me, to me!¬† He he he.¬† Actually it’s not as selfish as it sounds.¬† I got them for me and for The Husband, so that we can start doing something outdoors together.¬† We tried them out on Christmas day and they were fun.¬† A different sort of workout, more lifting of the legs than when I run.¬† Should come in handy with the tons of snow that we have in Minnesota so far this winter.

I can’t believe how tired and sore my legs are from my long run today.¬† They haven’t felt like this after a long run in ages.¬† I did 16 miles, with 10 at marathon pace (8:16 – 8:38).¬† The first 7 of the MP miles were on rolling hills, so I’m pretty sure that’s what is making me hurt.¬† (Could also be that the bulk of my miles have been slooooow because of the footing, so maybe just going faster at MP is making me hurt too).

Little Rock training, week #3

Miles run:  44.9; Biking:  70 minutes; Stairmaster: 20 minutes; Pilates: 2 times; Weights: 2 times; snowshoeing: 30 minutes; Just Dance 2:  60+ minutes (very fun!)

  • M: 5 miles (10:27); bike 40 min.; weights
  • T: 4.7 miles (10:37); pilates (abs, buns & thighs)
  • W: 8 miles (9:01)
  • Th: bike 30 min.; stairs 20 min.; weights
  • F: 11.2 miles (9:55); pilates (abs)
  • Sa: snowshoeing; pilates; Just Dance 2!
  • Su: 16 miles (8:54; w/ 10 at MP 8:18-8:38)

It’ll be interesting to see how this training translates in to racing with most of my runs being ultra slow because of the snowy/icy conditions.

Oh Рon my run this morning I hit 2000 miles for the year.  This week is gonna be front-loaded because of New Years plans, so mileage should end up at 2025+

Thoughts on marathon pace runs

The snow was delayed, so I got up ultra early today and got my long marathon pace run in before work.¬† 13 miles with 8 at MP, in 19 degrees (7 degree windchill) done before 6:15 a.m.!¬† What a relief to get the run done before the storm.¬† It was the last key workout to week one of Little Rock training.¬† I wasn’t sure how the MP miles (or even doing 13 miles, period) would go.¬† The most I’ve run since TCM was 11 miles (one time).¬† And I haven’t done much speedy stuff.

I did 2 warm up miles and then started with the MP miles.¬† I was aiming for 8:20 – 8:30.¬† Although I would have loved to do all 8 in a row, since I was doing this run after running every day this week (and 9 miles yesterday), I decided that I would just take it a mile at a time and if I needed to do them as intervals, with short breaks in between, that would be ok.¬†¬† If I couldn’t do them at MP, as long as I got 13 miles done, I would be happy.¬† Each mile clicked by and was close to pace, so I just kept taking it a mile at a time and before I knew it I had done 8 MP miles in a row.¬† 8:22, 8:24, 8:35, 8:28, 8:32, 8:36, 8:37, 8:34.¬† Yipee!¬† They definitely were harder after the 4th one.¬† I found myself having to concentrate more and work harder.¬† I would say they were challenging, but not a struggle.¬† I feel like the thing that made them difficult was my energy level was down after the 4th one (likely due to improper fueling since I just woke up, took a gel and ran).

It’s interesting to look back in my running log and old blog at the marathon pace runs during my first week of training in the other two marathon cycles this year and compare them to today’s run.¬† This one was definitely the best, in terms of how it felt,¬† pace and being able to do more in a row.¬† The contrast in temperatures/weather conditions between the runs is crazy, too.¬† Check it out:

1/6/10:  10 miles w/ 6 at MP in a row.  MP (8:36 Р8:46).  Temp -5

7/17/10:  13 miles w/ 8 at MP, but could only do 3 MP in a row, 1 mile easy, 2 MP, 1 easy, 1 MP, 1 easy, 1 MP, 1 easy, 1 MP.  MP (8:22 Р8:40).  Temp 68-77.  My notes blamed not being able to do it on the heat and full sun, and major GI issues.

12/10/10:  13 miles w/ 8 at MP in a row.  MP (8:22 Р8:37).  Temp 19

Although it seems hard, mentally and physically, to have so many MP miles in the first week of training, I like it.  It gives me a base line to test my fitness and to see what I have to work towards.  It seems IMPOSSIBLE that I will (hopefully) do 26.2 miles in a row at this pace in just 11 more weeks, when I could have maybe done only 1 more at MP today.  But the training somehow does its thing and transforms the body to be able to handle it on race day.  I love that.  I love love love this whole marathon training thing.  So much fun!

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