Saturday, January 25, 2014

MESOCYCLE 1 - Done Done Done!

1/3 of the way through my Boston training plan!  I can't believe it there are just 12 weeks to go!  The first six weeks of the plan I'm following are endurance building, and has hardly any speed.  Aside from some strides thrown in the second half of weekday run, and the occasional 30 minute tempo, most of the miles are easy.  This is to get my body used to the high mileage before stressing it with intense workouts so I can AVOID INJURY!  Brilliant concept, eh? So far so good.

I am also making a valiant effort to keep the strength training going at least 2 times a week if not three.  I am going to do my best to make it to the Boston starting line in tip top shape, and with no pulled muscles or fractured bones.

Mileage build up has been:  54, 57, 59, 61, 65, and 69.  Next week is a "recovery week" -- ONLY 59 miles.  ONLY!

For the most part I've enjoyed my runs, and have been glad to find some great ladies in the area to do morning runs with.  Running really is my social life -- since I choose to put so much effort into endurance sports, that needs to be my social outlet as well.  It's nice to arrive home at 6:45 a.m. with my workout finished as well as some great girl gabbing.

This polar vortex things has got to go, however.  Seriously.  I know I don't live in Canada or Michigan or whatever, where they've had windchills of something insane like -65 and real air temperatures of -30.  Not even close, and I don't want to think about it.  And yeah, I grew up in Indiana but don't give me that "You're from the midwest" bull.  I've always hated winter.  I can handle running in 30 degrees, but once temperatures dip into the single digits, I can honestly say it's miserable.

Never before have I gone on a run where afterwards my thought was "I wish I hadn't done that."  Until Friday.  My regular Friday running buddy had 18 miles in her schedule, and  I had 8.  Our usual running route was covered in ice so we decided to instead run on Pickett St, a 1.6 mile stretch of road with well plowed sidewalks and good lighting.  I had done 11 miles there the day before in the sunny mid morning.  I figured it would be a little cooler so I bundled up with two pairs of wool socks, two pairs of running pants, two long sleeved tech shirts, a windbreaker, winter cycling gloves, a face mask, and a winter hat.  We began our run, and realized that the plowed part of the sidewalk was too narrow for us to run two abreast, so this made speaking to each other difficult.  A half mile in my lips were frozen despite my face mask, so I guess that didn't really matter.  At two miles I had to go to the bathroom and I realized I couldn't feel my nose or my wrist, which was slightly exposed, so I ran into the Cross fit studio owned by another lady in our running club.  Seriously, had we only gone two miles?  It had to be more than two miles.  Ugh.  Outside again, another loop which seemed to take at least an hour (although apparently only about 30 minutes) and I again couldn't feel my hands.  I ran inside Einsteins Bagels to warm up a little bit.  I made sure every square inch of flesh was covered up, and then continued outside for my final loop.  It was still dark out, the traffic was picking up and cars were blinding me with their head lights (I swear everyone had their brights on), and unfortunately there is a filling station for Semis on the streets so we were constantly getting passed by massive noisy trucks with stinky exhaust fumes.  The sun was rising by the time we got to the end of this loop, and my GPS was at 7 miles.  I still had one to go, but when my running companion told me she was done with her run (this being someone I swear can find beauty on ANY run.... except apparently this one) we both declared it the worst run ever and headed to our cars instead.  7.15 miles.  Not 8.  That's okay.  I can live with that.  I couldn't feel my fingers at all, so unlocking the car became an unexpected challenge.  Once I managed to turn on the ignition, I realized my numb hands couldn't maneuver the steering wheel, so I had to sit there with my hands on the heating grates until I could safely drive home.  After I was thawed out I checked the CURRENT temperature.  It was 6 degrees at 8 a.m. with a ReelFeel of -10.  So who knows what it was at 5:45 a.m. when we started.  I don't know how these people in Chicago train through winter because that seriously had me dreaming lovingly of the treadmill.

Today was a little warmer -- ReelFeel of 1 degree, actual temperature of 20.  I ran my first 14 miles with one of the runners in the group I'm assistant coaching, but after she left I had a really hard time finding any motivation, especially since as a coach in the program I can't use headphones.  There were still people out on the course, so I kept running until they all finished (at this point I was up to 19 miles) and then called it quits and got in the car.  After I'd thawed out a bit, I forced myself to head out the door and run the last two miles on my icy, frozen neighborhood streets.  21.  Done.

Ready. For. Spring.  And we're not even a month into winter....

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

20 Miles. #Megsmiles

On Tuesday evening, I dropped Susanna off at her dance lessons and headed out for 14 miles total, including an hour with =PR= at the track.  I'm so used to running near the Vienna metro, which is very runner friendly with plenty of light even at 5 a.m., wide sidewalks, and pedestrian crossings at all intersections.

Well, Reston isn't like that.  There was absolutely no sidewalk on Sunset Hills Road, which I have to run on in order to reach the track.  My headlamp wasn't bright enough to see the ground, and once I hit South Lakes Drive, I had the choice to run on a pitch black trail in the woods, or on a road without any sidewalk.  I chose the road, thanked the Lord I was wearing reflective clothing, and was quite thankful to get to the stadium lighting at the track.  I don't love running in circles, but it was better than the roads in Reston.  When track ended, I had exactly 25 minutes to get back to Susanna's class, almost three miles away.  I ran along the road, some parts without a shoulder, and prayed the cars would see me.

That night, I sat down to check email and Facebook and saw something someone posted about running in memory of a woman named Meg, a runner killed by a drunk driver.  I hadn't heard of this, so I clicked on the link.  And then I couldn't look away.

She was 34, just a year younger than me.  She lived in Ashland, VA, just 80 miles away.  Like me, she was training for the Boston Marathon.  I put her name into the "search" box, and her profile popped up.  She had a daughter about the same age as Susanna.  Her wall, like mine, was full of pictures of a recent trip to Florida, pictures of her children on Santa's lap, comments from friends just days prior.

On Monday morning she set off on a 13 mile run after her children were in school.  She only made it about one mile from her home before a driver, a doctor on his way to work and still apparently intoxicated from the night prior, swerved off the road and hit her as she ran along the shoulder.

I couldn't stop thinking about her.  Her children.  Her husband. How in one moment, everything - EVERYTHING - about their lives was altered.

I couldn't stop thinking about how that could have been me, just hours before.  There are plenty of people who have too much to drink at Reston Town Center, think they are okay to get behind the wheel, and drive home.  I had just been out running on roads with no sidewalks or shoulders, during Happy Hour for crying out loud, with a headlamp that wasn't really working.  I was at home with my family.  She was out in broad daylight at 8 a.m., and she will never go home to her family.

My thoughts turned to August 2012 when I learned of Heather Boyum, the teacher and mother of two whose life also tragically ended too soon when she was hit by two intoxicated drivers during a Sunday morning training ride.   We had raced together two weeks prior.  We were both out on training rides that Sunday.

I never met these women, and I don't claim to know them.  All I know is that like me, they were runners who had children to whom they were THE ENTIRE WORLD.

On Saturday runners around the world came out and dedicated miles to Meg to raise awareness about the dangers of drunk driving.  On Saturday I ran my first 20 miler since my injury.  On Saturday I thought of Meg, and of Heather, and of all the runners and cyclists whose unarmored bodies were no match for a vehicle operated by a drunk or distracted driver.

Meg, we are all thinking of you.  Rest In Peace.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Somehow, I'm already in week 4 of my Boston training program!  After last winter's "choose-your-own-adventure" training plan ended in the worst injury of my running life, I've decided to stick to the tried and true Pete Pfizinger "up to 70 miles a week"  program I used for California International.  I guess the average is about 62 miles a week over 18 weeks if you count the buildup and taper, though the middle months are all at or close to 70.  This is the first week I'll hit 60.

Runs were pretty easy to get in over the holidays, especially during our Christmas in Saint Augustine, FL. The beach, coupled with perfect morning running temperatures of 55 degrees, were pretty motivating.  Our last day finally had clear skies and I got in the most beautiful sunrise run.

Now I'm back in Northern Virignia, and it's, well, not 55 degrees.  I have a really hard time getting up to run solo in the freezing cold.  I'm even worse in the ice.  However, I've really got no excuses.  I have great winter running gear.  And check out my shoes:

On Saturday my long run was on the ice covered W&OD rail trail.  While most people were slipping and sliding, I was able to run comfortably.  I have YakTrax, but this seems to work better, especially when the surface terrain changes.  Plus you don't need to worry about walking up your ice covered townhouse steps into your tile entryway, forgetting to take the Yaks off, and falling flat on your face.  (Of course, I'm not speaking from personal experience.  On three separate occasions.)  Total cost of sheet metal screws in a pair of old shoes?  About $4, cheaper if you share the 100 pack with a friend.  

I still ended up on the treadmill yesterday.  I prefer to do my speedwork on it, since I can control the pace.  I also use it as one of the few times in the week I can watch mindless movies on Netflix. I am going to try to limit myself to two days a week on the mill, maximum... my running injuries have only ever occurred in the winter, and I've read some articles lately that point to high mileage on the treadmill leading to hip flexor issues... hmmm..... 

Today the ice has melted and the temperatures are in the single digits.  Although my childhood in the midwest saw many winter days like this, I live in Virginia (the south?), and they have cancelled school.  I don't really understand why, but I'm going to take advantage of the daylight and get my 14 miles in this afternoon.  

So the general schedule is:
Monday - Speed/ Tempo.  Treadmill.  I so far have failed every time at getting up early enough to get in the full mileage and get back to my house in time for Jamie to leave for work, and end up running laps around my townhouse to finish up.
Tuesday - Mid-Long Run (12-15 miles) OUTSIDE in the evening.  I can't say enough about the new DROP OFF KIDS ACADEMY OPTION at Lifetime Fitness in Reston.  Susanna can play in the child center or enroll in classes and I can run outside!  She takes tap dance from 6-7, so I can drop her off between 5:15-5:45, get in my mileage (partly with the =PRR= Reston Distance Training Program), and then grab dinner with her after her class before heading home.  
Wednesday- Easy recovery miles before work.  Strength training during Susanna's swim class.
Thursday- Longish (9-11) run OUTSIDE in the morning.  I am hoping to find regular company for these!  I usually get in 8-9 before Jamie leaves for work, then run laps around the townhouse until 7:15.  That might sound a little tedious/ crazy but it is preferable to a treadmill and/ or getting up any earlier than 5am.
Friday- Easy recovery miles before work, or on the treadmill while Susanna has Zumba class.  I am guessing that if I don't have some pre-arranged company, I'll end up on the treadmill.  This Friday, I do have some buddies to make me accountable!  And that means I can get in strength session #2 during her dance class.
Saturday- Long runs with =PRR= Reston Distance Training Program.  I'm in my first season with them as an assistant coach, so I am running with the participants.  I'm having a great time meeting new people, all of whom have different goal races, and there are a few ladies training for Boston that are on the same mileage schedule as me, so it's been good to have some company.  

As far as tune-up races, they need to be on Sundays since my Saturdays are now with DTP.  I think I did too many tune-up races last year and it lead to my injury, so at this point I'm just planning to do one half marathon or ten-miler and possibly a shorter race in March. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014


A year ago, I sat down and posted about what an amazing running year 2012 had been.  About how I'd accomplished all of my goals, set new PRs, run 2000+ miles, and was excited about what 2013 had to bring.  I jumped right into a high mileage, high intensity training plan with the intention of breaking the 3:30 barrier at the Shamrock Marathon, and admittedly, running consumed me.

And then I couldn't run at all.

It has been 10 months since February 28, 2013, when I began to limp after finishing up a tempo run.  In that time, I spent 2 months without any answers and questioned if I'd ever run again, then another two months knowing I had suffered a pelvic stress fracture and doing all I could to stay sane.  Today I got onto Daily Mile to look what I'd done these past 12 months.

January and February - I ran every single day, with the goal of running every day in 2013.  No rest days, high intensity runs at least 3 times a week.  I slept very little in order to get in most of these miles before my kids woke up. 
March - Obviously injured, I kept attempting to run but stopping after the pain became excruciating.  I had my first ever DNF at the Shamrock marathon.  Aside from these 15 random test miles, I gave my legs a break from the pounding and started swimming again after the marathon that wasn't.  Started physical therapy at the end of the month, 3 times a week.
April - 1 mile test runs on the treadmill at PT every couple weeks indicated that I wasn't even close to healed.  Lots of PT, lots of swimming.  Started cycling on the trainer.  Insisted on an MRI at the end of the month, which showed a clear stress fracture of the lower pelvis.
May- NO running, but lots of swimming and cycling!  I figured I could do a triathlon at the end of the summer, skipping the run if I had to.
June- Started running on the antigravity treadmill.  Woot woot!
July- X-ray on my birthday clears me to run, almost four and a half months after the initial injury.  SUPER SLOW, but I ran 104 miles in July and decided to sign up for the Skipjack Triathlon.
August - Lots of cycling, swimming and running!  150 miles of running, still not up to speed, but just thankful to be out there!  I also did the Reston Century Ride.
September - First race since February!  My run was definitely slower than it would have been with more months of training, but I was thrilled to complete a half-iron-ish distance triathlon.  After that I put my bike and goggles away and set my sights on a half marathon PR.  
Ocober - Averaged 50 miles a week!   I also ended up running the Ragnar Relay at the very last minute (I found out the team I had originally planned on running with had an injured runner and made the decision to join them the day before the race!) which turned out to be one of the best running experiences of my year.  I met some great ladies who were serious about running but also a ton of fun.  We ended up winning the women's division as well as the team spirit award.  I think I could become addicted to relay races!
November - My goal was to break 1:40 in the half marathon.  I ended up with 1:40:36, which got me second place overall, a nifty age group win plaque, and 37 seconds to get rid of for my next goal. After that, I spent the rest of the month running with no real purpose other than running.  Jumped on long runs with my marathon training friends (18 miles when you aren't training for anything?  Why?  Just because!)
December - Took one down week (only 30 miles) and started to go a little crazy -- insomnia and restlessness -- how did I ever go four months without running at all?!?  Halfway through the month I started my BOSTON TRAINING PLAN!  I'm following the same program I did when I PRed at California International.  I think the rest day and mostly easy days were key to me staying injury-free, even though the mileage is high.  Hopefully this will prove true!

Total miles run in 2013:  1541.

Challenges:  Pelvic Stress Fracture.  'Nuff said.

Highlights:  PRs in in the 10 mile and the Half Marathon.  Ragnar Relay!  Skipjack Triathlon.  Registering for the Boston Marathon.

Goals for 2014:  I'm not making any, since you never know what life or your body is going to throw at you.  I'm just going to work hard, train smart, and take it as it comes.