Paris Maraton Training Week 4

Holiday weeks away from home definitely make marathon training more complicated but I knew in advance what I could fit in and what I couldn’t for this week of training. I had 7 days of workouts for the week, with 6 days of running. 

Week 4 of marathon training began in North Florida. I had 45-60 min of XT on the schedule but no access to anything to cross train on. My parents have a house in rural north Florida so there’s no gym nearby (within at least a 40 min drive). Originally I was going to move my Tuesday workout up a day but instead did a 3 mile recovery run because my calves were feeling tight. Since I had to do this run outside and I’m scared of all the loose dogs chasing me (my mom has been chased multiple times here and I’ve been chased once by a pack of dogs) I convinced my parents to ride their bikes while I ran. My mom did a real bike workout while my dad rode near me. He carried pepper spray and a gun (gun more for bears that had been spotted recently and he’s a retired police chief with proper training and licenses). I did my 3 miles and didn’t feel great at all, it was still in the mid 70s and super humid and I didn’t bring water so I paid for that. 

Tuesday morning had 6 miles with 6×30 sec at 90% effort with 2 min recovery in the middle miles on the calendar but we had a chartered fishing trip planned for the morning so I consider reeling in 8 large mouth bass my cross training from Monday (I know Jes will disagree with that). It was a fun morning and I always enjoy these fishing trips. We use this guide 2-3 times a year for the past 9-10 years so he’s become a good friend to our family and watches over the house when my parents aren’t up there. 

  
The keepers from our trip!

  
I even cooked some myself when I got back to ATL! 

Wednesday morning I did the 6 miles with 6×30 sec at 90% effort with my parents biking again. My calves were tight for the first two miles but once I got to the 30 sec hard intervals that went away. I actually felt decent for this run and am happy I got it done. After this my parents and I went out for a good bye breakfast because Matty and I headed home that morning. 

  
Matty didn’t want to leave his grandma or Gumbo.

On New Year’s Eve I had 6 miles with 4 strides on the calendar and I did this outside on my favorite trail. It had cooled down in Atlanta some so it was nice to have that weather for the run. I don’t remember much about this run so I guess it was uneventful. 

I like to run the Atlanta Track Club’s Resolution Run on New Year’s Day but decided against the hilly course that was a mile longer than the 3 on my schedule and just ran 3 miles in my neighborhood. This is hilly and for some reason I just never felt great during this run. And I think I somehow offended this girl doing a walk of shame (she had on club wear at 8 am) because I’m pretty sure she was yelling at me and there were some hand motions. I just kept running because she was a lot bigger than me! 

  
First run of 2016

By this time in the week I was so confused what day it was but Saturday rolled around and I had 15 miles on the schedule but my calves were tight when I woke up and I wanted to check out the REI garage sale so I just did my 3 mile recovery run scheduled for Sunday. I did this on the flat trail near my house but had to do a different section than normal because of flooding from the river had blocked one part of the trail. I could have climbed some rocks to get around but with my clumsiness that seemed like a bad idea. My calves felt great during this so I probably should have done the full 15 miles and I ended up not getting anything at the REI sale because it was complete chaos and I just can’t shop in that. 

Sunday became my long run day and I headed into the city to run the beltline and in Piedmont park. I never really map anything out, I just start on the beltline for the 2 miles out and 2 miles back and then head into the park. I really really really did not enjoy this run. It was one of those runs where I’m constantly wishing my GPS watch says I’ve run farther than I really have because I was so over it. I tried to break it up into 5 mile increments which helped a little bit. It was in the upper 30s and I thought going to be in the 40s so I did wear tights and a long sleeve top, but a lighter long sleeve thinking it would warm up. I also had on gloves and ear warmers. I never ended up feeling hot and needing to take anything off. I don’t think I’ve ever worn gloves for a long run for more than 3 miles so it was really strange that I just couldn’t warm up. I guess with all the warm weather I had been running in I wasn’t acclimated for the colder weather.  

I was so bored for most of this run and I didn’t have any new podcasts to listen to and I think that didn’t help me stay in the run mentally. It was a pretty day in the park and I watched a film crew setting up for some scenes while I did some laps around the active oval. I like to do a little running here during the long runs to get in some softer surface and easy to count miles. I finished up in the park around 11 miles and told myself I just had to do the out and back on the beltline and I could be done. 

Somehow I managed to get in all 15 miles. It wasn’t pretty and it was probably too slow (due to accidentally hitting the lap button 5 times in the middle of miles I have no idea what my average pace was). I made my return to yoga after a month off with a restorative class in the afternoon that was a nice way to end my week.

Another week is in the books and next week the big challenge will be figuring out timing with having the dog back to walk, running and getting to work at a reasonable time. 

If you would like to donate to my breast cancer research fundraiser please go here: http://donate.breastcancermarathon.com/2016-Marathon/AmyWalker

Goals for 2016

2015 was a great year of running for me! I set personal bests (PRs) in the 5k (26:50), 10k (57:47), half marathon (2:10:03) and marathon (5:39:31). I also made it a full year without a plumbing disaster (but did have a roof leak, home ownership is fun) so I consider this year to be a success. 2015 was the year I turned the corner and really began to do tougher workouts. I’m feeling stronger as a runner and I can’t wait to see how that turns out in 2016.

  
With Jes after my half marathon PR! We’ll be working together again this year. 

For 2016 I have 3 big goals…

  1. Raise $1000 for breast cancer research for the Donna Foundation. I’m over halfway there but still have $465 left to raise! I would love any support you could give and if you would like to donate you can go here. I’m excited to go back to Jacksonville to run the 26.2 with Donna half marathon and spend a weekend with my favorite girls celebrating another year of KT being cancer free! I’ll be shooting for a PR at this race to make strides towards goal #3. This goal is my number 1 priority for this spring.   
  2. Get to the start of the Paris Marathon healthy and happy! Back to back marathon cycles is new to me and I honestly hope my body can handle it. I’m so excited for this trip and I want to just have fun. I technically have to PR to be considered a “finisher” of this race. I definitely think that’s possible but I’m not putting the time pressure on myself for this race, that’s for goal #3!   
  3. Go sub 2 in the half marathon is my big goal for the year. This was the goal I first set as a runner and I had no idea what pace was needed to go sub 2, I just thought that sounded like a good time. 4 years later I’m ready to go for it! I’m hoping to go under 2:05 for the run with Donna half and then go sub 2 at the Yosemite Half in the fall.  I may add some other halfs in the fall if I don’t get sub 2 at Yosemite. This race should be a lot of fun and I can wait to be back on the west coast and run this downhill course. Not to mention check out a new national park. 

  
I’m also hoping to have some fun running shorter distances after the Paris marathon and get closer to 26 min in the 5k and around 55-56 min in the 10k. I’m really just looking forward to having fun in 2016 and not training for a marathon in the heat of the summer!  

Paris Marathon Training Week 3- Florida is HOT

I started this week of training in South Florida and I went into week 3 hoping to get all my runs and strength training in. I knew I could get all the runs in but cross training was going to be a challenge. I don’t have access to a gym while in Florida so I don’t have a way to do cross training.  

  
I loved this section in my believe training journal! There’s a two pages on this but you’ll have to get a copy of it to read the rest. 

Apparently the east coast didn’t get the winter memo and Florida was still blazing hot. This added an additional challenge to every run. 

Monday I was supposed to do 45-60 min of cross training but it just didn’t happen since I didn’t have access to anything. However I did go on walks with the dogs twice so that’s at least some movement. 

Tuesday morning I had 5 miles + 5 strides. I have a good loop figured out that runs through the neighborhood I grew up in and one across a major street that gives me just over 5 miles. I felt like I was slogging through this. It was just so hot, about 80 degrees with 90% humidity. So I went slower than I normally would for an easy pace run but I was able to do the strides at a pretty fast pace. I’m just glad I didn’t give up or anything, because that run sucked. I also did a little bit of strength training.

  
After the run I felt the above so I went and grabbed a couple donuts. 

Wednesday I had 6 recovery miles scheduled and I decided to make my way to the beach. This is where I do any of my runs over 5 miles. It’s super flat and you can get a nice breeze from the ocean. It was hot this day but the breeze helped a lot. I was in the middle range for my recovery run pace and I think I was around 11:25ish avg pace for this one. The last 3 miles were directly into the wind and that sucked. It was probably 15-20 mph winds and at times I felt like I wasn’t moving. Luckily I was still moving! 

  
Beautiful morning! 

Thursday was Christmas Eve and I had another 5 miles with strides. I did this in the neighborhood again and while I felt great on this run, and did about a 11:18 avg pace, I apparently really over did it. I got pretty sick after this run. I felt super lethargic and was really irritable and just felt terrible. I drank a Gatorade and some nuun and that helped. I just didn’t realize how much it took out of me. I took multiple naps and still went to sleep at a normal hour. 

  
Rocked the candy cane Procompression socks for Christmas Eve 

Luckily I felt better by the time my parents and I made to my aunt and uncle’s house for our Christmas Eve celebration. I snagged some good gifts (including a yoga bolster pillow so I can do some restorative yoga at home) and my family seemed to enjoy the gifts I picked out for them. It was nice to spend time with my family, I don’t get to see them as much as I would like.

  
Baby Saedy is so cute and I gave her this mini Baby’s First Christmas onesie. 

Christmas Day was a rest day! I spent the morning opening gifts with my parents and the pups. My big gift wasn’t under the tree (a treadmill) and I’m hopefully getting it delivered this week. We headed out to Clewiston for a celebration with my dad’s side of the family at my cousin, Megan’s house. We exchanged gifts and I was super excited to get a yeti tumbler from my cousins (after I talked about how much I wanted one at Disney with them the weekend before they found me one). I’ve gotten to spend more time with my cousins the last months and it’s been great to be with them! It was a great Christmas celebration.

   
   
Saturday was my long run day and I had 13 miles on the schedule. I wanted to start earlier than I had been so I wouldn’t be running when it was miserably hot. It also cooled off a little bit (75 instead of 80) and it was windy again. I convinced my mom to run part of it with me since I wanted to start before the sun came up so she did the first 3 miles with me. When I dropped her back at her car I drank some Gatorade that I had left on my car. I didn’t feel great the first 3 miles so I wasn’t sure if I would make it all 13. But after the Gatorade I started to feel better and I took a GU around 4.5 miles. By around the half way point I knew I was going to go all 13. I had to play dodge the puddles most of the morning since it had rained overnight and fortunately my feet stayed dry.   

 Not a bad view for a run (this was taken at the end, no time for pics while running)

I was going past my car again at mile 8 so I grabbed some more Gatorade. It was overcast all morning which I think really helped me a lot. It gets pretty miserable when the sun beats down on you and it’s 80 degrees. The breeze was also nice and not as bad as Wednesday when I thought I was going to get blown over. I took another GU a little after mile 9. Miles 12 and 13 were my fastest and were in the high 10s. The first 3 were in 12s with my mom, so this averaged out to be in high 11s. I’m so glad I stuck with this run because I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it the whole way. 

  
I met one of my fav people, Trudy, for lunch afterwards! And I may have picked her podiatrist brain about my previous foot issues.  

 Sunday was just 3 recovery miles and my mom was running with a friend at the beach so I rode with her. They do a run/walk so I kept going when they started walking and ended up doing 3.5 miles. We walked a part at the beginning that I didn’t count as part of the 3 but they did so by the time I got back to the car I had an extra half mile. Somehow that got me to my correct mileage for the week and I did 33 miles.

  
I had to get good bye donuts since we were headed to north Florida later in the morning. The red velvet with sweet cream and the glazed with holland cream were mine!

For a holiday week I’m pretty proud of how I did! I got all my running workouts in and did my glute/hip exercises. 

And I wanted to add a new feature to this training recap, a new song of the week that you can add to your playlists. For this week I recommend Jason Derulo- Get Ugly. It’s especially good for faster paced workouts! 

Paris Marathon Training Week 2

I woke up the morning after the half glad it was a rest day because I was sore, much more so than I thought I would be. I guess the hills got me a little bit more than I realized. I was having my annual physical/blood work done so I had to fast. That scheduling was super dumb on my part because I was HUNGRY. Luckily I made it through with no hangry moments. That night was our annual Running Bloggers Christmas Party. It’s always great to see these ladies! And we had some new faces this year so it was nice to meet new people as well. 

  
Tuesday I had 4-5 recovery miles so I did 4 miles on the treadmill at 11:32 min mile pace. This pace is right in the middle of my recovery pace and I was just not going to go any faster. I finished this off with some hip/glute exercises.

Wednesday was 45-60 min of cross training. I did 45 min on the spin bike while watching some Nashville on Hulu. I’m recently obsessed with this show since I cut cable and am trying to find other shows to watch. I’m almost up to the current season. 

In the afternoon I had an appointment with my biomechanics guy. He’s a local biomechanics/strength/running coach that works out of my chiropractor’s office that I started seeing to get to the route of my peroneal tension issues last training cycle. I wanted to see if my form had improved and what areas I needed to continue to strengthen. 

He had me run 3/4 mile on the treadmill while filming me from different angles. We compared between my last visit and now and surprisingly (to me) I had some pretty big improvements. My stride has increased by a cm and has become symmetrical (my right leg was having trouble moving forward before). The small increase in stride equated to almost 400m over a marathon so that’s a lot less distance to travel steps wise. I’m still having some right glute strength issues that cause my hips to collapse when I step with my right foot. He gave me some new exercises to focus on and I asked for some core exercises that wouldn’t bother my SI joint. I don’t have to see him again unless I need to which is great news for my bank account. 

Thursday had 6 recovery miles on the schedule and this was a boring treadmill run. 

Friday was a rest day so I slept in, worked for half a day and then headed to Orlando.

I asked for some Orlando running trail advice from my fellow Oiselle runners that live in the area and 3 recommended the 10 mile clay trail in Clermont. It was about 30 minutes from the hotel but it sounded interesting so I decided to give it a shot. It sounded much better than running along a busy highway or on a treadmill for 10 miles. 

  
I may have parked in the wrong place but I found the trail and started my run. It was a beautiful morning and cool for Florida. I started in arm warmers but stripped those off around mile 4. The trail was hilly, especially for being in such a flat state, but it was really pretty. 

It was quiet along the way but there were other runners around and I was enjoying the pretty scenery. Nice rolling hills, the citrus and blueberry farms and the little lakes. The trail is really just a clay road that has minimal traffic and it was fairly easy to follow. The miles ticked off but by mile 8 the wind had picked up and it was tough going up some of the steeper hills with pretty strong wind in my face. I averaged 11:19 min miles and with the hills and wind I’m pretty happy with that.  

  
I spent the rest of the day with my cousins, their kids and my aunt at Disneyworld. We went to Epcot for the Candelight Processional with Chandra Wilson as the guest narrator. The singing was amazing! After that we went to Hollywood Studios to see the Osborne Spectacle of Lights since it was the last year. I loved the lights! 

   
   
Sunday morning I woke up not feeling great and my calves were pretty angry from the hills plus walking around two parks the rest of the day so I skipped my 3 mile recovery run. I feel bad about it but I think my calves needed the rest and I was on my feet for a while afterwards. I headed to south Florida and spent the afternoon getting a mani/pedi with my mom and Nana. 

  
It wasn’t a perfect week, but with Monday a new week begins with a clean slate. 

Paris Marathon Training Week 1- Locomotive Half Marathon Recap

We’ll see how long these recaps will last but here we go… Week 1 of Paris Marathon training is in the books. This definitely wasn’t a normal week but I’m happy to be back in the swing of things. 

So Monday began with a 4 mile recovery run. I’m pretty much stuck on the treadmill in the winter during the weak but I’m trying to get better at playing with inclines. Last cycle I mostly kept the incline at 0, oops. So it’s time to get better at that!

Tuesday I woke up feeling like crap and finally realized that all these migraines (that start as crazy sinus headaches with serious face pain) I’ve been having, multiple a week, are possibly a symptom of a sinus infection. Instead of running that morning I took some medicine and went to urgent care at lunch. I left with antibiotics and steroids and probably have had a sinus infection for a couple months. I took the rest of the day off from working out.

On Wednesday I shortened my 5 miler plus strides to 3 plus strides and ending with 3.5 miles. Thursday I had a super early morning so I took another rest day and honestly didn’t feel like doing cross training in the evening. I spent all day on my feet volunteering at Santa’s Village helping those in need pick out gifts for their kids. It was so fun! But I was beat and lost my voice by the end of the day. 

Friday I did 4 miles with strides that ended up being around 4.5 miles. I felt decent during this run and I finally felt like the medicine was starting to kick in. On Saturday I did 3 miles on the trail by my place, it was beautiful outside and I enjoyed a relaxing, slow run. I headed up to Kennesaw that afternoon to pick up my packet/bib for the Locomotive Half Marathon. It was a quick and easy process, that added an hour in the car round trip, but I did some Christmas shopping along the way that made it worthwhile.

On Sunday morning I got up early, ate my breakfast and drove the 30 minutes to the race start. I got there about 35 min before the race and parked right by the start. The bathroom line was long but thankfully went quickly. It was in the mid 50s, so I went back to my car, dropped off my hoodie and put on my hydration vest. I stretched and headed to the start. 

  
Took a selfie before the race, turns out a woman was sitting in the car next to me the whole time.

This race was pretty small so it wasn’t crowded at all. It hit 7:30 and off we went. I’ll be honest I was hoping the course wasn’t going to be too hilly but it definitely was hilly. Luckily there were some downhills to help ease the uphill but this course was pretty much never flat.

  
Procompression made their best sock design yet, the Ugly Sweater sock! 

I didn’t really have a total time goal since I have been sick, I wanted to stay in the 10s and see how I felt. If my body felt up to it (and the hills weren’t crazy) I would pick up the pace after the 10 mile mark. The course was not very scenic, it went through industrial areas and the small airport nearby but the course was really well marked and the volunteers were great. 

I definitely knew that the hills were something I hadn’t run long distance on in quite a few months but I’m glad I had been doing some loops through the hills in my neighborhood and playing with the incline during my treadmill runs. Like any other hilly course I try to fight my way up hill and let gravity do the work on the way down. This seemed to work well for me and fortunately I didn’t have to do any walking on the hills. 

Around the half way point I started to feel in a good groove and that this race was going to not be a suffer fest. The temperature stayed fairly cool and I grabbed Gatorade about every 1.5-3 miles and took 3 GUs along the way. I probably could have only done 2, but I didn’t want to bonk and I could tell the Gatorade was pretty watered down (totally okay for me, I prefer it that way). 

Around mile 10 (after a pretty hilly mile) the sun started to come out from the clouds and it was getting into the 60s and I was itching to find the finish line. I had a nice mile 11 that was mostly downhill but then the uphill a came for mile 12 that was pretty rough. Once I got around 12.5 miles I picked up the pace and passed a few people on the way in (one woman and I kept going back and forth). The finish was up a good little hill so I was definitely feeling it as I crossed the line.

  
Happy afterwards.

Official results of 2:17:14, which I’m pretty happy with for that course and being on antibiotics. They had a free pancake breakfast afterwards but I skipped out and headed home. I would definitely recommend this race if you’re looking for mid December local ATL race. Hills weren’t as miserable as the thanksgiving half marathon but it definitely wasn’t flat! It also was pretty cheap (I think I paid $40), came with a nice medal, long sleeve tech tee and pasta dinner/pancake breakfast. 

All things considered it was a good first week back into training. This next week will be a little easier to recover from the race and then things get pretty serious pretty quickly.

I’m excited to see how this cycle plays out and how the new things Jes has in store for me go! 

How I survive the long run

When most people find out I’m a runner, the first thing they usually say (if they don’t run) is I wish I could do that or I could never do that, and followed by how do you not get bored being by yourself for that long? 

And for someone who is not a “fast” runner, I’m out there for a long time when marathon training. My long runs range from 2 hours to 4 hours (this used to be as long as 6 hours for my first marathon!!!) and for the most part I run alone. Strangely enough I actually prefer to be alone most of the time, although I do enjoy when I can meet up with someone at the start or know I’m meeting them for brunch afterwards. I know many people prefer to run with others, so for you crazy people that like social interaction I recommend a running group (with people you actually like, running with people you can’t stand is not so fun and can make you a very ragey person afterwards). 

So what did I do to survive those long runs and not want to cry (there was a lot of that during my first marathon training cycle) or be bored to death? This last cycle I came up with a couple things to help break up the boredom.

  • Signed up for Spotify Premium. I actually did this earlier in the year, but I LOVE IT! With premium you can download music to your phone and not have to use all your cell phone data plan to stream music while you run. I usually added a couple new songs a week and use their top music charts and new music to find new songs. I highly recommend the Empire (the tv show) sound track from each week. I usually found at least one song a week from that week’s episode. I also listen to Sirius radio in my car and their hits channel usually gave me good ideas as well. I also add any songs that make me smile or laugh (The Lonely Island is good for this!) so whenever it comes on it gives me a random boost. Current fav songs: Missy Elliott featuring Pharell- WTF; Alessia Cara- Seventeen; Empire Cast (Yazz and Timberland)- Dynasty.

  

Why yes I have been listening to the new Justin Bieber album.

  • Listening to podcasts has become my newest long run boredom buster. I started with Serial and made my way through Undisclosed and now Truth and Justice. These saved me during my 21 milers! The story of Adnan is so intriguing and kept me interested for a couple hours. I also really enjoy the Runner’s Connect podcast. They’re really informative and Tina’s British accent is always enjoyable. For these though I have to find the topic to be really interesting or listening to a podcast about running while running can get a little old. Another favorite is Mystery Show- the host, Starlee Kine, is hilarious and her story telling is great!! She tries to solve these weird mystery occurrences from her friends’ lives. The stuff she gets into and the way she tells the story usually has me laughing while alone on a trail.  

The podcasts I’m currently subscribed to.

  • Finding new routes to run is also key. While I normally try to find the route with the least amount of hills, I tried to pick different areas of the city to run in to keep things interesting and I avoided the one spot where I had a lot of bad runs in my first marathon training cycle. 
  • And when I get really desperate I call people. While I enjoy being along, that long without human interaction can be really isolating and I just need to talk to someone. So I’ll spend like 3-5 min on the phone with my mom and then I feel more like a normal human. 

So none of these things are innovative but they keep me entertained on a long run and I usually start to look forward to my podcasts that are waiting for me! 

I’d love any podcasts recommendations you have! I love all things mystery/crime or just good story telling. 

 

    Up Next (I need your help!)

    Now that the Marine Corps Marathon has passed, it’s time to start planning for my next adventures. I spent two weeks after the marathon recovering, I ran twice, 3 miles with friends with breakfast afterwards and 2.25 miles in my neighborhood that I just cut short because I didn’t feel like it.


    Met Tricia and Elizabeth for a run plus breakfast. Photo credit to Elizabeth.

    Now I’m back to base building, I’m focusing on running 5 days a week (2-4 miles easy and a local 10k) strength training one day a week plus 5 days of my biomechanics exercises. I’m also hoping to do 1-2 days of yoga a week. After this week I’ll start bumping up the week day run distance and long runs and throwing in some speed work.


    Got to bring out the cold weather gear this past weekend.

    I have a half marathon on the calendar December 13 that will mostly just be a fitness level check and make sure I’ve got my long runs where they need to be for marathon training.

    I have two big plans for the spring. The first is returning to the Breast Cancer Marathon, 26.2 with Donna, with my friends. Like last year my friends will run the marathon relay and I’ll run the half marathon. And more importantly I’m fundraising for this event to help Finish Breast Cancer!! I have a goal of $1000 to raise and have raised $170 so far (big thanks to Lisa Petersen, Todd Rubenstein and Becky Walker for being my first three donators!!)


    Before the race in February

    This cause is so important to me and this organization gives 100% of all proceeds to breast cancer research and to help those who can’t afford their breast cancer treatment. After watching my best friend, KT, go through multiple surgeries, chemo therapy, hormone treatments and more, I really wanted to do something to help. I felt like there wasn’t anything I could do for her but give her my support and love and this is another way I can give support. Fortunately KT is cancer free and I want to fundraise to help others become cancer free. A couple months out from a goal race for KT, she found out she had breast cancer and that she wouldn’t be able to go after her sub 2 goal for a half marathon. She was having a great training cycle for this race and I know she was disappointed (but she never complained). I was so excited to see her crush that goal two Sunday’s ago in her first half marathon post cancer!! She ran a 1:56:42 and I couldn’t be more proud of her!! So please help me finish breast cancer and meet my fundraising goal by donating here. It’s tax deductible and going to important research at the Mayo Clinic.

    After that race I’ll be heading to Paris in April to run the Paris Marathon! I feel so terrible about what happened there but I refuse to change my plans due to the terrorist attacks, to me that means the terrorists win. I’m not sure I’m totally ready to start marathon training again but I’m excited to go to Europe for the first time! I’m also pretty excited that Sarah will be coming to run with me and explore Europe and my parents are coming for the first part of the trip (and marathon spectating).

    I’m pretty excited for the next training cycle and the goals I have. It should be a fun one! And again if you would like to donate to fundraiser to end breast cancer you can go here: http://donate.breastcancermarathon.com/2016-Marathon/AmyWalker.

    Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving! I’m looking forward to some Florida sunshine and fishing!

     

    Marine Corps Marathon Recap 2015

    It seems fitting to post my Marine Corps Marathon Race Recap on Veterans Day. Thank you to those who are/have served and protected our country! It was an surreal experience to have Marines thanking you for running a marathon when you’re thanking them for something so much more important than that. 

      
    The Marine who handed me my medal post race. 

    If I had written this post a week ago it would have been a lot different and probably included a lot of curse words. And if you’re in it for the short version I’ll say this: Marathon 2 – Amy 0.

    So Marine Corps Marathon weekend began with an early flight to Washington DC. I met my parents at the airport and we took the same flight (they connected in ATL from FL). It was a quick flight and we checked into the hotel with ease, grabbed lunch and headed straight to the Expo. Since I was part of the Runner’s World VIP experience I didn’t go through the packet pick up line, I just went straight to their booth. I wanted to snag some of the brooks race gear but the line to check out was over 2.5 hours so I now I have to wait until they put it on their website in mid November. 

    We didn’t spend too much time at the expo, I picked up some nuun with the race specific bottle (I do this for every race) and my mom snagged new shoes and the stick. I wasn’t feeling good at this point, so we went back to the hotel for a little relaxation (and a migraine pill) before dinner. We had a nice dinner at Tupelo Honey and went to bed early. I got a lot of sleep this night and spent all day Saturday in the hotel room while my parents went site seeing.

      
    I read this while hiding away, I highly recommend it!!

    I only left the room for lunch and then a little while later so housekeeping could clean the room. My parents came back around 6, and I ordered in room dining for dinner, and we sadly watched the FSU football game. I organized everything for race day the night before so I could eat, get dressed and get to the race early since I had a place to hang out in warmth in the Runner’s World area. 

      
    Flat Amy was ready to go!

    Well faulty metal detectors had another plan for me that involved 1.5 hours in line for security, sweating and packed in to a huge crowd. To say I was stressed out is an understatement. I made it to the runner’s world tent as the race was starting (still a 10 min walk away from the start). They helped me strip off all my throw away layers and grab all my stuff out that I needed. They stored my bag and I quickly hit up the port a potty and made my way to the start. 

      
    My mom waiting for me at mile 1.

    I never really took the time to collect myself and I just jumped in with the 5 hour group and herded forward (a little foreshadowing hint hint). So I started the race sweating with no liquids for two hours (while standing) with a light rain. I knew the first four miles would be hilly so I planned at taking those slower, and I would see my parents around the first mile. The course was definitely packed with people but I kept trudging forward. I was hoping to get into a groove in the first mile but it just never happened. The rain continued for the first couple miles and the humidity was really thick. 

      
    I was really happy at mile 1.

    Around mile 3 (during some of the good downhills) I found my friend, Ashley, running. She was planning on running about the same pace as me so we started running together. We spotted my parents at mile 4 and waved hi and turned to cross the key bridge into Georgetown. We were pointing out some of the shops we wished we could have stopped at and it was nice to have someone nearby I knew.

      
     I forgot to take my salt pill for almost half a mile (which was a big mistake with the conditions), and I started to not feel so great as we turned into Rock Creek parkway. The course was packed at this point but we were pretty much able to stay together but we were weaving more than I would have liked. I also should have started picking up the pace more here but I just couldn’t. We had a guy behind us who sounded like darth Vader breathing and thankfully he didn’t stay behind us for too long. 

    The park was pretty uneventful and boring. Still lots of of weaving around and it seemed to go on forever. We finally made it out of the park and I knew we were heading towards my parents and somewhere along the way we’d see Ashley’s fiancé, Ed. We saw my parents at 10 and Ed around 11, by then I was really on the struggle bus. At mile 8 I told Ashley I wasn’t feeling too good. I realized I needed electrolytes and started taking in more salt pills and Gatorade more often. 

      
    Made it to mile 10! And you can see Ashley on the other side of me.

    Mile 12 is the wear blue mile that is lined with posters of fallen marines and family members/volunteers holding America flags lining the course. This is where I fell apart and let Ashley go ahead. I just didn’t feel good and I wondered how I was going to finish this race. We were out on Hains point, which is normally a “boring” part of the course but it went faster then it did when I ran the cherry blossom 10-miler. However I started walking a little after the half way point. I just tried to kept pushing forward knowing I would see my parents again at 16.

     The crowd support started coming back at this point and that helped but it was getting hotter and I still hadn’t gotten my fluids/salt levels to the right balance yet. I made it to 16 and stopped and hugged my parents. They gave me a pep talk and I kept moving. Around 17 I made it to the national mall, there wasn’t as many spectators as I thought there would be but it was also lunch time so I can’t blame them for that. I started getting cramps in my quads and had to stop to stretch them out. I pretty much had these the rest of the way off and on. The only thing that made me smile during this part of the course (this is like 13 year old boy humor) was remembering it’s the 2nd race where I’ve run in the shape of a penis and this was that part. I giggled a little bit and tried to keep moving. 

    We finally turned off of the national mall and my mom had texted me (I had on my Apple Watch but was only paying attention to my mom and Jes) that they were at mile 20 right before the bridge. My mom realized how bummed I looked at mile 16 when she told me they’d see me at the finish so they made it to mile 20. I waved and told my mom I was feeling better and started heading over the bridge. 

    By this point I felt better mentally but my body was pretty done. The bridge was long and seemed never ending but I ran the flat and downhill parts and walked the uphill. It was hot and the sun was bright by now but I made it over the bridge, waved at the oiselle cowbell corner and headed into Crystal City. While on the bridge a woman from an ATL running store that I know, said hi and we went back and forth with our different run/walk pacing. It’s so crazy that I found two people I know on a course of 30,000. 

    Crystal City had a lot of crowd support and I started to pick up the pace and not walk as much. I really just wanted it to be over. I also ran out of water along here so I was desperate around the 24 mile mark and was happy for the last water stop. I had them fill up my water bottle so I would be good for the rest of the way. The course turned towards the Pentagon and where my morning panic occurred. I only stopped to walk once in the last two miles and I was so ready for it be over. I saw my parents right at mile 26, gave them a smile and turned to run up the hill to the finish.

      Happy to be turning to the finish line 

      
    I did it!

    The clock was 5:39:31 for marathon #2. Honestly I was hoping for around 4:40, so yes I was disappointed for a few days. But I took over an hour and 15 minutes off my marathon time! And that’s something to be proud of! The marathon is such a beast and has so many variables that I’m still figuring out, it took me 6 half marathons to finally have a break through there, so hopefully the 3rd time be the charm for the marathon. 

      
    You can see where it all falls apart

    I’ve realized more than anything how important the mindset is for the marathon. I think if I had taken a minute to collect myself, taken a deep breath and focused I may have had a better result. Hindsight is 20/20 but I can remember this for next time. The main disappointment I have from this race is not enjoying the course. I was in a beautiful, historic town and I didn’t pay attention to it. 

      
    Maybe I’ll go back for redemption some day but I think I’ll stick to spring marathons and fall halfs for the near future. 

    So I made it across the finish line and I’m so grateful for my parents and their spectating! They made it to 6 spots on the course, stood out in the rain and held up the foam fingers I bought them. I’m also so appreciative of all the tweets, texts, Facebook posts/comments! It means so much to have support near and far! 

      
    My biggest fans! Love them!

    So hopefully a what’s next post is coming soon! 

    Reflections on Marathon Training

    I really did a great job of updating the blog with my training the last 4 months… Or not. I have a few drafts that I started but never turned into much. I was writing (a different kind of writing) a lot at work the last few months and just had no motivation to put my thoughts into coherent sentences in the evenings. Now my life outside of running has slowed down and words aren’t so hard.

    Now without running the race I’m going to rate this training cycle. Overall I would give myself a B. This cycle was just so much different than early 2014, I’m in a much better place professionally, which has helped me have a much more positive perspective in life. I had so much going on during that cycle that I didn’t have to deal with this time, like interviewing for a new job, getting the job and having to transition 3 days after coming back from the race,  my best friend going through chemo but being across the country and feeling like I can’t do anything to help her, and my dad getting diagnosed with a pituitary tumor. Fortunately all of those things are done with and my stress level is back to my normal amounts.


    Lots of time spent with this little guy

    My weekly training looked mostly like this- two easy runs (3-6 miles); one speed workout (5-6 miles total, paces from 8- 8:23 min miles depending on interval length); one tempo run (usually around 9 min miles but higher 9s as long run volume increased); and one long run from 12-21 miles. I peaked at 42 miles this cycle and was usually in the mid to high 30s.


    It was a hot summer

    I had no problem hitting any of my speed and tempo paces. Now I’m not saying they were easy, some of them really sucked, but I used the speed and tempo workouts as mental challenges. I’m going to want to quit in the race and I really wanted to work on the mental side of things this cycle. I did have to back off of speed work for a couple weeks due to an injury, but overall did a good job with these. I think 400s are my favorite, they’re fast and they suck but they’re over quicker. Mile repeats are my least favorite because they’re hard and they last 8 min and 20 seconds.

    Long runs are hard and they really suck when it’s hot out. However I never had to walk (except for one super hilly one, sorry for that route Sarah, I’ll never do that to us again) in any of them. While I did struggle in the heat for the first month or so, it got better and I only stopped for the bathroom or to fill up my water bottle. I ran both of my 21 milers alone, which was another mental strength tactic for me. I’m racing alone and I need to be able to pull myself out of the dark places late in the race. I feel really good about the amount of long runs that I did. I ran 16 miles at least 5 times (I think maybe 6 times), 18 miles twice (I think, it might be once) and 21 miles twice. Coming into this cycle with a good base really allowed me to start running these long runs pretty early on and build endurance (and confidence). But the long runs were my least favorite and something I dreaded most of the week.


    This vest made long runs easier!
    So yes I did get injured but it only caused me to stop running completely for a week and miss 1 of 3 21 milers. However it did get me to see a biomechanics guy to figure out the root cause of a couple nagging things. Now I know what’s wrong and I’ll really focus on long term solutions in the off season. And funny enough I had the same injury as my first marathon cycle but on the other foot. I probably should write a post about the biomechanics stuff because it was really awesome.


    Biomechanics is fun! And that angle needs to get to 172 or below to keep my peroneal tendon for being mad. The 2 degree change is from a make shift orthotic in my shoe.

    Now it’s race week and I’m focusing on obsessing over the weather and what I’m doing in DC instead of going crazy over the race. I have somewhat of an idea of what I’m going for in this race time wise but you’ll just have to wait until afterwards to find out what that is and whether or not I hit it.


    If you’re interested in tracking me on Sunday, you can follow along on the marine corps marathon website or app, my bib number is 34861!


    Also, I’m planning a whole post on this but I’ll start the plug now, I’m fundraising for the 26.2 with Donna (only running 13.1) to raise money for breast cancer research! 100% of the proceeds of the race go to breast cancer research and awareness and care for those with the disease and no means to pay for treatment. This cause is very close to my heart and if you would like to support me, you can donate here: http://donate.breastcancermarathon.com/2016-Marathon/AmyWalker

    So this week I’m relaxing, doing one key speed workout and two easy runs, spending time with my Chiro and massage therapist and using the below wall for inspiration


    See you on the other side of the marine corps marathon!!

    My Version of a Vegas Vacation

    Since I can’t seem to finish a draft on my marathon training (😴😴😴) might as well share my Vegas vacation fun. The struggle to write about running has been real for me the past couple months. And I started this post a month ago and left it with just a paragraph to go for a month, oops! 

    Since I lived in Vegas for 3 years, my visits are probably different then a typical vacation there. I spent 6 days there and really enjoyed this trip. The perfect amount of time for friends, sun, running and great food. I did miss a few friends (former MGM coworkers I mean you) but otherwise I couldn’t be happier with this visit. 

       
    Boarding a terrible Frontier flight. The seat was miserably uncomfortable and a complete tool and his hammered boss/mistress sat next to me. He complained the entire 4 hours on the plane and she spilt vodka all over my carry on bag. Plus they were feeling each other up, while complaining about her husband and daughter. But my clothes were super comfy!

     
    My buddy, Oscar, was happy to see me!

       
    I had to a long run while in town and did laps around the development KT lives in. It wasn’t terrible but OMG hot! The hot air balloons were a nice distraction. I enjoyed a couple podcasts and KT joined me for some of the middle miles. Thankfully she went my pace (because ugh slow in the hot, dry air)!

     
    KT and Valerie introduced me to Cream at Downtown Summerlin. Can someone loan me the money to open a franchise in Atlanta?? It’s the most amazing thing ever! You pick your cookies (red velvet and chocolate chip for me), your ice cream (salted caramel round 1, French vanilla round 2 and 3), and any additional toppings (rainbow sprinkles because I’m 5) and they make you an ice cream cookie sandwich. They even warm the cookies. It’s my favorite place, hence why I made KT go 3 times.

      
    So happy to see Kristin, Vivian and Yara for brunch at Bardot (photo courtesy of Kristin’s fancy camera)! Food was delicious and the company was great. We spent two hours catching up (Yara got engaged and married since we all last saw each other) and it was just nice to be around good friends. 

       
    KT and I drove 2.5 hours into the middle of nowhere Nevada to the edge of Area 51 on the Exterrestrial Highway to run a 10k at 1 am. It was a pretty cool race, small and in the dark on an open road with cows roaming around. The 10k is pretty flat and starts at the Little A’le’inn in Rachel, NV. The elevation is pretty high, 4500-5000 ft, but it was in the 60s with 25 mph winds. I didn’t really notice the winds too much when running. I ended up running mostly alone, but could see everyone lit up along the course. The hardest part was figuring out how far away stuff was. In the last two miles I could see the finish but my Garmin was off so I had no idea how far away I was. I didn’t want to surge too soon. The dryness was killing me and I didn’t carry my own water so I had to stop at all 3 water stops. I ended up 8 seconds off of my PR!! Ughhhhhhhh so I know I should be like yessssss but I had more left in the tank and if it was daylight I may have been faster and pushed at the right time. But at least I know I still have my fitness levels even with the injury (oh yeah I hurt my left peroneal tendon and took a week off) and lack of speed work the last couple weeks. (I’ve added that back in the last month since I wrote that paragraph).

     
    Two of my favorite things, a coke and cherry slurpee and a Capriottis Cole Turkey sub. This has to happen every trip. I think I had 3 slurpees this trip. 

      

    Finally I got to meet Kara’s son Carter! He was a fun bundle of energy and it was great to get to play with him and catch up with Kara. They were sick during my last visit so this was a long time coming and he was just so adorable. Luckily he wasn’t shy and we had fun. 

       

    I love Pho!! Luckily KT is always up for this when I visit. My fav place to go is Pho Kim Long in Chinatown. It’s just off the strip for those of you who stay there when visiting.

     
    Cream round 2! Learned my lesson after the huge mess I made in round 1 and got it in a cup. By huge mess I mean it was all over my hands, face and phone. 

       
    Red velvet pancakes at BabyStacks are SO GOOD! These plus the Huntington skillet and you’re full til dinner! Trust me on this one, you want to go here. 

        
        

    I always have to go to the Bellagio Conservatory to see the current decoration. I had no idea what it was going in and was really excited to see it was a beach/ocean theme! It was beautifully done and I took a ton of photos but decided only to put 3 here so I don’t bore those of you that could careless :) 

    After the stop at Bellagio, KT and I stopped by the Linq (the outside shopping area, no way I would ever go inside what was the Imperial Palace just with two name changes) to check out the Polaroid shop and Kitson before hitting up the fashion show mall so I could snag some Birkenstocks (soft bed are the way to go) and the north outlet mall (which got a nice upgrade since my last visit) where I picked up stuff for my Dad at the Columbia store. 
     

    My last night in Vegas was spent with a happy hour and dinner with some UNLV friends (Jen, Sara and Shawnna) at Public School 702 at downtown Summerlin. The venue was interesting and the food and drinks (local craft beers) were good! And it was another quality catch up session with good friends.  

    KT and I made our last stop at Cream before heading to Red Rock to meet Valerie for bingo! There was no winning for any of us but it was nice to spend my last night with two of my favorite people doing one of my favorite Vegas activities. 

    For my last day before my red eye flight, KT and I headed to downtown Las Vegas. I love the container park and wanted to check out a restaurant. We had lunch at Carson’s Kitchen, then made our way to the container park. We went to a couple shops and I snagged some of the local chocolate to bring back for some coworkers. 

    I love seeing how much Vegas has changed for the better each time I visit and I’ll be back next summer for a wedding!