Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Wordless Wednesday

Elise playing with a neighbor of my parents.

The neighbors' cat is super sweet and let Elise carry it around.

Thanksgiving crafts with friends.

The ice cream truck came by so we had to get ice cream!

Oma fell asleep while they listened to a book read aloud on YouTube.

Crepes at the coffee shop!

I came in to find Elise reading Harry Potter to Tesla.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Post-Marathon Thoughts and Recovery

It has been a week since one of the most enjoyable races of my life, The Route 66 Marathon! My recovery has been pretty great. I was able to run again after just 2 days off. I won't run anything hard again until The Ugly Sweater 5k and Beer Mile on December 15th. Until then I plan to just run easy, mostly low mileage to allow my body to fully recover. I know even though I feel great, pushing it too much could prolong my recovery or cause an injury. Since my glute/hamstring issue flared back up during this training cycle, I'd rather err on the side of caution. I'm hoping without as much time off after the marathon, The Ugly Sweater 5k won't be a struggle fest like it was last year. I felt out of shape and miserable during the race and would prefer not to repeat that, if possible. Last year I took a planned week off after the marathon and then another full week off due to being sick, so I ended up with 2 weeks before I started running again.
Walking to the start of the Route 66 Marathon on race day.
Moments before heading off to run a huge PR!
I've been surprised that I'm actually itching to get back to strength training. I typically hate strength training but once I got into a good habit of getting my workouts in twice a week I actually started to enjoy it! That's one thing I did really well this training cycle that I hadn't done in the past. That wasn't the only thing I did differently this season. I changed up my training a lot. I usually have a loose training plan in my head and follow it pretty closely as the season goes on. Last year when I decided to run the full marathon instead of the half part-way through the season I sat down and actually wrote out the weekends and what my long run would be to ensure I got all my long runs in. This season I got a little more hard core. During the summer I sat down and planned out my entire fall using an excel spreadsheet. That really helped because we run so many races in the fall. I was able to plan my long runs around races I knew we'd run. Since we have so many races in the fall I decided on a 16 week training cycle rather than my usual 12 weeks. That gave me more flexibility with long runs. Though I did start the training cycle with a 15 mile long run already under my belt so I was able to run a 16 mile long run workout during the first week of my training.

There are so many things I did differently during this training cycle that I think helped with my marathon performance. The biggest one being long run workouts. I had never done a long run workout before and I did 3 of them this training cycle along with a half-marathon. I stayed pretty simple with them since I had never run a workout within a long run before. I did a 16 mile run with a 4 mile warm up, 8 miles at marathon pace (goal was 7:45-8:00 pace), and a 4 mile cool down. Then I did an 18 mile long run with 10 miles at marathon pace and a 20 mile long run with 12 miles at marathon pace. During my next build before a marathon I'd like to get up to 16 miles at marathon pace within a long run. I also did more long runs this cycle. I ended up running 20 miles 3 times and one 22 mile long run. In the past I usually only run one or two 20+ mile long runs. Last fall I ran a 20 mile long run and a 22 mile long run. I think having done 20 miles more times made the distance seem easier on my body.

I planned out my cycle with my fast runs on Wednesdays. I'd do speed work one week and then a tempo the following week. My longest tempo run was 9 miles. My favorite speed workout was Yasso 800's. I averaged 3:19 for my 800's and only took a 2 minute rest in between instead of resting for the same amount of time as I ran like I've read. I've always found I can run Yasso 800's a lot faster than what I can run my marathon in. Supposedly your average for the 800's in minutes and seconds predicts your marathon in hours and minutes. I've always figured that's a more accurate predication for true marathoners and I'm more of a faster/shorter distance runner. I always have fun with the race calculators too even though they aren't very accurate for me. My fastest 5k time this season predicts a 3:12 marathon and my half-marathon which wasn't even a very good race for me predicts a high 3:13. I'm just a stronger runner in the shorter distances. I'm not sure if that's simply because I'm built more for those distances or if it's because I know how to train for the shorter distances better so I haven't quite trained perfectly for a marathon yet. I'm interested to find out. The marathon is just such a different beast and I'm enjoying doing the research to figure out different ways I can tweak my training to improve my marathon time.

One other thing I did this season that I didn't do last season was an extra workout without really doing a 3rd hard day. I alternated a really hilly run with strides every other week. So one week I'd go out and run a course with around 1,000 feet of elevation gain and the next week I'd run 5 strides during the last mile of my run. Both workouts added something to my training without making me tired or worn out the next day. There were a few weeks I skipped hills due to an upcoming race but for the most part stuck to that. I really think that helped. I even ran strides the Tuesday before the marathon. I like that you can do them and get your legs moving faster without wearing yourself out or feeling sore. A typical week of workouts would look like this: Monday off, Tuesday easy, Wednesday speed work or tempo, Thursday easy, Friday hills or strides, Saturday easy, Sunday long run. Sometimes I moved things around and ran easy Monday after my long run to shake my legs out and then took Tuesday off but for the majority of my training cycle that's what a week would look like.

My mileage this season was also a little higher than what I've done in the past, excluding the spring of 2017 when I injured myself. During my 16 weeks of training I only ran under 40 miles for 6 of the weeks. Three of those weeks were my taper weeks, one was at the very beginning of the cycle when I had a 10k race instead of a long run, and the other 2 weeks were in the lead up to my half-marathon when I was having glute and hamstring issues. I peaked at 53 miles and had 3 weeks at or over 50 miles with 4 more weeks at 48 miles. This is one area I'm sure I could change to improve my time, weekly mileage, but I'm not sure I will. Running 40-50 miles in a week, especially with a 15-22 mile long run, is very doable for me. Anything over that would be hard. At this point in my life I'm not interested in running more than once in a day. Maybe when the kids are older that would be something I'd want to do, but right now I'm all about really manageable miles that I can get in before the kids wake up.

I'm looking more at ways I can tweak my workouts to improve my performance. I'm thinking more long run workouts and possibly a 20 week build to help get more of those long run workouts in. I'm all about little tweaks here and there. I'm okay with just dropping a few minutes here and there in the marathon. I think I'm capable of running under 3:20 in the marathon for sure but I'm also totally fine with 3:25:27 being my PR for the rest of my life. I'm a little surprised by that because I walked away from the race on Sunday feeling awesome and knowing I ran my best race but also confident I could run faster next time. But I'm really proud of that 3:25 and I don't have this desperate need to beat that time, I just want to run another marathon because it was so much fun! That's really not like me. The moment I finished the Aquarium Run Half-Marathon last spring I was desperate to start training again to lower my PR. I think part of it is that I know the marathon is such a different beast and getting that perfect race can be hard. Anything can happen on race day. Although my current PR was run in less than ideal conditions, temps in the low 30's with "feels like" temps in the mid-20's, light mist, and strong winds. Plus the course has over 800 feet of elevation gain so it's not exactly flat.

Just for the fun of it, I want to record some stats from my training cycle and compare it to my training cycle last fall when I ran my old marathon PR of 3:38:58.

Weekly Mileage Compared 2018 vs. 2017:
Week 1: 44 vs. 24.5
Week 2: 37 vs. 27.1
Week 3: 47 vs. 27.9
Week 4: 47 vs. 24.7
Week 5: 50 vs. 32.7
Week 6: 47 vs. 36.5
Week 7: 51 vs. 38.7 
Week 8: 42 vs. 40.8
Week 9: 53.5 vs. 45.1
Week 10: 33.2 vs. 31
Week 11: 27.5 vs. 46.3 
Week 12: 48 vs. 26
Week 13: 41.4 vs. 30.27
Week 14: 37 vs. 33.2
Week 15: 31 vs. 22
Week 16: 39.6 vs. 40
2018 Average Weekly Mileage: 42.3 miles
2017 Average Weekly Mileage: 32.9 miles
So I averaged about 10 miles per week higher this year. I could see getting that average up to 45-50 miles per week. I think that would be doable.

Long Runs Compared 2018 vs. 2017:
Week 1: 16 vs. 7
Week 2: 10k vs. 10k
Week 3: 18 vs. 10
Week 4: 15 vs. 12
Week 5: 20 vs. 14
Week 6: 15 vs. 16
Week 7: 20 vs. 18
Week 8: 15 vs. 15
Week 9: 22 vs. 20
Week 10: 8 vs. 10k
Week 11: half-marathon vs. 22
Week 12: 20 vs. 8
Week 13: 13 vs. 12
Week 14: 10 vs. 12
Week 15: 8 vs. 5.5
Week 16: Marathon!

Fall Races Compared 2018 vs. 2017:
Blue Moon 10k (August) 44:13 vs. 46:04
Corndog Challenge 5k (September) 20:15 vs. 21:51
Tulsa Run 15k (October) 1:06:20 vs. 1:07:39
Run to the Lights 5k (November) 20:04 vs. 20:40
Route 66 Marathon 3:25:27 vs. 3:38:58

My current plan is to take the whole month of December easy, with no hard workouts, just easing back into 40-50 miles a week. My longest run last week was 4 miles and this week will probably be 5 or 6. Last week I ran 13 miles and this week won't be much over that. I'm really going to ease back into things. Then I'll start my training cycle probably in January with the Aquarium Run Half-Marathon as my goal race this spring. It is my hope that they have the turn around in the correct place this year so if I run a PR, I'll actually have the official time for it! Until then it will be fun running and back to the trails. I love the off season because it means more trail running which is a nice reset for my body and my mind!
Some trail running this summer. I became friends with a guy in our running group and this was his cover photo on Facebook, I was surprised to find myself photobombing his sunset picture!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Wordless Wednesday

Tesla after going on her first run with me, I just took her one mile.
I got out of the shower to find the kids reading in our bed.
Elise eating a Christmas tree cookie my co-teacher got her.

Tesla thought she not only needed to be in bed with me, but also needed under the covers!
Elise not napping in her class!
Carter and Ty looking a lot alike in their profiles!
Carter at a friend's skating birthday party.

Sick day at home means couch cuddles, Tesla included.

Elise at her Thanksgiving Feast at school.


Elise pretending to talk to Uncie Taco in the car.

Carter wanted to hang signs on the street about eating pizza to save the turkeys!

Had to wear my turkey hat even though it was 50 degrees when I ran!