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

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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. 

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!

     

    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!!

    And so it begins…

    Well the off season is officially over and marathon training has begun. I think I had a good off season and was able to build up a great base to start this marathon season in a much better place then I did last year. I wanted to instill some habits during the off season that I hope will continue into the marathon training season.

    So what did I do differently…

    I spent the first 4 weeks doing the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide but decided that was too much jumping for my sad hip (update on that in a little bit). So instead I decided to go back to my personal trainer once a week and to barre3 once a week. My personal trainer is focusing on upper body and core and barre3 is a great full body workout. I’m already seeing a difference in my arms and shoulders just after a couple weeks, now if my triceps could just make an appearance for the first time ever, that would be great 🙂

    I’ve also added yoga to the mix. Infinity Yoga opened a studio not too far from my office and on my commute home. They offer a yoga for athletes class that focuses on areas that runners and cyclists need to stretch and/or strengthen. I LOVE IT! I’ve had 3 different instructors and every class has been different but great. I’ve also been going to the restorative yoga class once a week which I think it my new favorite thing. I even fell asleep during a pose last week. I’ve noticed a change in my flexibility already, especially in the hamstring area and I hope to keep working on that plus my balance with these yoga classes.

    I ran, kind of a lot for me (but soon to be not a lot). I maintained 20 mile weeks with long runs from 6 to 10 miles. I raced 4 5ks and had even got a PR. The four 5ks I ran were the Atlanta Track Club Singleton 5k (I love their free races); Girls on the Run 5k; Brookhaven Bolt and the River Run for Hope 5k. I wanted to PR the 5k and 10k during the off season and try to use the speed work I had done in my half training to see where my shorter distance fitness was.

    The ATC Singleton 5k was first, I had heard it was a lot flatter than their other races and a good place to attempt a PR. My PR going into it was 28:23 (I think, I’m too lazy to go back and check) and the goal I had in mind was to go under 27 minutes. I know that seems like a big jump, but I was running speed workouts in the 8:25 range so I knew it was possible. Mile 1 I stayed on target pace but quickly realized this course was not what I would consider flat (I live by a very flat trail), although it’s not as hilly as other races. Mile 2 I was just trying to move forward and I was cursing myself for not running enough hillier routes post half marathon. Mile 3 was like just get this over with… and finally it came to an end with a time of 27:53. It wasn’t what I hoped for but it was a PR so no complaints!

      
    First 5k with my pace in the 8s!

    The next weekend was the Girls on the Run 5k. Since I’m a coach, my goal wasn’t to PR it was just to have fun. Usually most of our girls have someone to run with them, so I can go on my own and help encourage the girls as I go along. This year it rained and the race got pushed back an hour. One of our girls mom’s couldn’t make it due to the weather and such so I ran with one of the girls. I just can’t say enough how great Girls on the Run is and how fun it is to watch the girls change and progress over time. I ran with one of the girls who mostly walked last year and this year we ran almost the entire race. She dropped 13 minutes off of her time from the previous semester and I saw a competitive side of her that I had never seen before. I ended up carrying her jacket and such so she could focus on running and she was super fast up hills (which made for one tired, red faced coach trying to keep up). She didn’t realize we were ahead of everyone else from our team, and she asked me towards the end if I thought we were ahead of most people. I looked at her and said we’re ahead of everyone, you’re doing AWESOME! And that lit a fire under her and she kept moving. I tried not to push too hard, because this is supposed to be fun and I wanted her to enjoy it but when she realized she was ahead of her best friend she kept running. We finished this race in 32 minutes (my garmin time, GOTR doesn’t time their races and everyone wears the same bib number) and I was so proud of her! After our end the year party her mother approached me and thanked me for running with her. That I brought out a good competitiveness in her that her mother had never seen. That she had pushed herself for the first time while running and she was so proud of herself. Honestly, I had been pretty detached from GOTR this past semester, my own training was kicking my butt and we had split the duties among the coaches so I wasn’t there as much, but the race and the kind words from that mother made me realize how important GOTR is and how much it helps the girls.

      
    After the GOTR 5k, we went with a Wonder Woman theme 

    I don’t even really want to talk about the Brookhaven Bolt, is was MISERABLE. And it has nothing to do with the quality of the race (the shirts were GREAT) but just the hills hills hills and humidity that I wasn’t acclimated to yet. I went out way too fast for as hilly as the course was and I paid for it, I can’t remember the last time I walked during a 5k, but I had to walk in this one. Let’s just say this course ate me for breakfast.

    I had one last 5k on the calendar for the off season and if I was going to break 27 minutes, it would be at this one. The course was flat and it’s the area where I run all the time (also where my big break through half marathon was last November) with a small field. The race also had a 10k so I knew the 5k wouldn’t be as crowded. I got there with enough time to do a quick warm up, do some dynamic stretching and watch all the Track Club Elites warm up (they love the flat 5ks). I planned on trying to hang in the 8:20-30s as much as I could. I knew it was a slight incline on the way back and I didn’t want to totally burn out. The first mile went by quickly and I felt decent, mile 2 became more of a mental battle but I could see there were only a 10-15 women ahead of me and not many of them looked to be in my age group (3 days before this race I bumped up to the 30-34 age group). I kept pushing, hit the turnaround point and could see there were plenty of people right behind me so I tried to pick up the pace. I don’t think I was successful in that because the slight inclines started to come into play. I didn’t know exactly where the finish was, but knew it was towards the top of the incline, I turned the corner on the nice downhill to the finish and knew I was going to be under 27 minutes and ended up going 26:50, a big PR and beat my mom’s PR. I hung around for the awards just in case and ended up getting 2nd in my age group! That was the first time I’ve ever placed in my age group. Honestly I never thought I would place in my age group ever, and this was definitely a smaller race, so I was really happy to finally do that.

       
    Not bad little prizes for my age group win!

     

    So excited for my 2nd place age group finish!  

    Now I’m into week 2 of marathon training and I hope to start doing weekly recaps, or at least bi-weekly recaps, so I will be able to look back at this training and know what worked for the next training cycle. I also have some other post ideas, including a recap of my Grand Cayman trip and a review of my apple watch, to work on so this blog actually talks about something outside of running again.

    What’s Up Next

    I’m sitting in the airport in grand cayman and decided maybe I’ll use the 3 hours I have to write a blog post. I’ll definitely be writing about this trip soon, it’s been a blast! Instead of making you jealous of that, let’s talk what’s next running wise.

    Since my race at the end of March, I’ve been keeping up with running but not burning myself out. I started doing a strength training workout called Bikini Body Guide (BBG) by Kayla Itsines. While I don’t love the name, the workouts are tough!! Lots of jumping/plyometric moves that are killer. My lingering hip pain started flaring up so I’ve been modifying certain exercises that bother it. I’ve been running 3 days a week and slowly upping my mileage to get into the 20s. This week I’m up to running 4 times and will hit 20 miles if all goes according to plan on Sunday. 

      
    After my first BBG workout

    I think I’ll be ending the Kayla Itsines workouts or using just certain ones since I start back with my personal trainer on Tuesday. I do think they are effective, it’s just hard to manage with upping my mileage. 

      
    Lots of jumping in this workout 

    So what’s next for me? I’ve done something a little crazy and have signed up for a big race in October and April (2016). And to make it even crazier, both races are marathons.

    In October I’ll be running the Marine Corps Marathon with the Runner’s World Challenge. I couldn’t handle another lottery so I bought the VIP package and I’m very excited! My internet turned real life friend, Melissa, is also running it and we’ll be rooming together and hanging out that weekend. I know there will be a few hills and I’ll have to have a 40 min PR to beat the bridge as they call it, so it’s a good thing I’ve become a much stronger runner in the last year. 

    Training starts June 1, which coincidentally is exactly a year from when I ran my first marathon, and I’ll be working with Jesica again. Sadly though, she no longer will be living in Atlanta so we won’t get to see each other as much. She’s recommended I get my mileage into the mid 20s this month so I’m ready for what’s to come (I hear mid 40s mileage is headed my way). 

     After my first marathon, claiming I’d never do it again. Now I’m signed up for 2 more 😕

    After I conquer that race, I’ll be heading to Europe for the first time (unless a work trip pops up) to run the Paris Marathon next year! I’m hoping Alicia and KT will be coming along. Alicia will just be there for Paris and KT and I will add on a couple cities around Europe after the race. 

    I’m pretty excited to get these races on the calendar and to see how I can improve my marathon time. I’m sure there will be a few half marathons on the schedule as well. I’m also running the Peachtree Road Race (10k) again on the Fourth of July.

    Lost my running mojo

    I have about a month left until my next “goal” race but I already reached that goal during this training cycle and now my mind just is in a weird spot.

    After most races I take at least a week off and just sleep in, enjoy being lazier (cause you know I’m lazy regularly) and gain 5 pounds because after a hard training cycle you should get to eat cake and French fries. But this time around the goal race happened in the middle of a training cycle. Originally I wasn’t going to push the pace and just enjoy the weekend with my friends but my training had been going well and I was given the green light from Jesica to go for it as long as I was conservative the first 3 miles. And I went for it and I reached my goal of 2:15! 

    

    Jesica sent me the sweetest card after I reached my goal, I love my coach!

    Now my mind just doesn’t know what to do. After two days off I jumped right back into running and I’ve been doing every workout and hitting all my paces for speed and tempo work. I even ran 11 miles this morning. Before the race I was just loving running and now I’m still enjoying it but it feels like a chore.

    

    These 11 were not too bad but not that great

    I don’t know if it’s just because work has been super busy and I’m just stressed out or if I’m a little burnt out. I also haven’t been able to join the weekly long run get togethers because girls on the run has started back up and I’m back to coaching Saturday mornings. I miss having people there before and after my runs, even if I end up running alone. 

    I’m just not sure where my running mojo has gone. And I think I’m just at loss for what my “goal” race is going to mean to me. What goal am I going for? Can I PR again? How much faster can I go? How nuts is this course going to be with the 30+ turns? Where am I going to eat the night before? Is walking 1.5 miles to the start going to cause problems later on?  On a scale of 1 to crazy I’m like a crazy + 20 right now. 

    I’m hoping my running mojo comes back soon… The crazy stress of work is slowing slightly and I’m on round two of this runny nose/sneezing situation but I’m hopeful it will be quick and won’t effect my running. 

    And in really exciting news… I bought a car!!!! My old car (that I had for almost 10 years!!!) was starting to show signs of the transmission going bad and I thought it would be a couple weeks before anything happened on the buying front. But I set numbers that would work for me and ford did better than I thought they would. And even better I love my new car (Ford Escape) and I’m very happy with this decision! 

    

    My new baby, you’ll see me parking in the back of the lot 

    So if you’re looking for me over the next couple weeks I’ll be driving around in my new car looking for my running mojo. If you happen to find it let me know 🙂

    An Awesome Weekend (26.2 with Donna Recap)

    I just got back from Jacksonville Beach after a great long weekend with some of my favorite people that involved my favorite activity.

    So let’s rewind to Friday, Matty and I loaded up my car in the super cold Atlanta weather and made our way south. My parents agreed to watch matty for the weekend at their house in North Florida and we made a plan to meet at the outlet mall in St. Augustine (mainly because I wanted to check out jeans at the Off Saks outlet).

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    My Road Trip Partner

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    Waiting for my parents to arrive

    I handed Matty off to my parents after I scored a new pair of jeans and pried myself away from the amazing purses they had to head up to Jacksonville Beach to meet my friends.

    We rented an amazing house half a block from the beach. It was a great size and it was nice to have a house as home base instead of a hotel room with that many people. I was the 2nd to last to arrive and our last arrival came not long after me.

    We had a great dinner (I highly recommend Salt Life, the restaurant not the stickers on cars) and headed to Trader Joe’s for supplies, lots of wine and chocolate for my friends and race eve dinner for Saturday night for me.

    My friends were running the Run with Donna Marathon Relay and I was running the half marathon on Sunday so we spent Saturday checking out the expo, hitting up target, a short walk on the beach and just relaxing.

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    Beach time! A little too cold to lay out but it was a beautiful day.

    The race expo was pretty good for the race size. There were a lot of freebies and my friends talked me out of buying a massager device called a bffer that was super expensive but was AWESOME! So if you have one and live in Atlanta invite me over to use it! I did buy a pair of momentum shoe tags so now I have two pairs and can rotate them among my hokas.

    Saturday evening was spent doing a little girl talk and making sure I had everything I needed laid out for the race. While my friends went to one of my favorite places, pita pit, I ate the boring chicken and rice.

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    My cousin, Kassie, made our shirts. I picked up the shirts at target (c9 is amazing!) and she did the vinyl cutting and pressed it on the shirt. We all loved them and I’m already trying to figure out what type of shirt I can make next 🙂

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    My race outfit, I couldn’t resist the new punch color oiselle shorts and arm warmers

    Race morning I woke up nice and early, ate my bagel and egg, drank some nuun and felt really good. We were planning on getting there early to get ahead of the road closures since our house was on the race course.

    We got there with plenty of time, I checked my bag, my friends got coffee, I hit the portapotty and was ready to go. We hung around for a few more minutes before sending Meg and Alicia to their shuttles and took off a layer and shared with those who be sitting out in the cold until their relay legs.

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    Before the race

    Ashley (who we call Blaney) was running the first leg of the marathon relay so she agreed to run with me for her 6 mile leg (she was sick so she was okay with going slower than her normal pace). We headed up to start and got ahead of the 2:15 pace group. I didn’t think I’d be that fast but the pace group was doing a run/walk and I didn’t want them starting and stopping all around me.

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    At the start ready to go

    We started in the 2nd wave and my plan was to be conservative the first 3 miles and try to negative split the race. I was trying to stay in the 10:30s and base the rest of the race off of how that felt.

    I really felt great from the start, we worked our way towards the ocean and went along a road with beautiful houses with people outside cheering. It was trying to reign myself in at this point because I definitely wanted to go faster but didn’t. Blaney stayed with me through this part and we passed Jeff Galloway, said hi and kept moving.

    Around mile 5 we went past our house and waved to the empty home. Blaney handed off the baton at mile 6 and I kept moving. I turned and realized we were heading to the beach portion of the race, I cursed and the girl next to me said its not too bad and it’s only a mile. I worked my way to the hard packed sand and kept moving. It wasn’t as bad as I thought and I enjoyed the scenery. As I was making my way off the beach Katie was cheering there while waiting for her leg to start (a couple hours later).

    This was around mile 7 and I was heading back towards the finish line. I was still feeling pretty good and decided to really start pushing myself and stay in the low 10s.

    We were running one street over from before and the crowd support was still great. I was really just enjoying myself and feeling really strong.

    We came out of the neighborhood and headed to my least favorite part of the course, the last 3 miles on this kind of high way. There wasn’t much crowd support and we were head on into pretty strong winds. I had to keep my head lowered so my visor wouldn’t fly off. I was still feeling strong and kept moving. I was starting to pass more people at this point, which is something new for me at the end of a race. I could see the one “hill” of the race looming ahead in the form of a bridge and I was staying a little conservative to make sure my legs didn’t die out on the climb over the bridge.

    As I was making my way up the bridge the elite men marathoners came running by looking pretty good for mile 25 of their race, I enjoyed cheering for them and distracting myself from the hill. My pace started to slow about half way up but I kept moving as fast as I could and eventually made it to the top where there was a large cheer station.

    I just wish the way down on the bridge was as long as the way up. We went off the highway, made a turn and I could see the finish, kind of. I couldn’t actually tell where the finish was and I knew my garmin was off from the beach running. I tried to pick up the pace but my legs were like, ummm nope. I went as fast as I could and realized I was going to be in the 2:15 range (just to refresh your memory that was the goal I wanted to hit by the end of the year).

    I crossed the finish line in 2:15:17 (previous PR 2:20:13) and I was so happy about it! I fought back the happy tears (when did I become so emotional??) and saw Blaney cheering for me just past the finish line. I grabbed my medal, had some teenagers attach ice to my hip and made my way out of the finishers area.

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    Post race, so happy with my PR!

    I met up with Blaney, we grabbed my bag and hit up the dunkin donut tent for munchkins and a bagel + the beer tent because I had to celebrate a 5 min PR! We found a place to sit and hung out waiting for everyone to finish their legs and make their way back to the area.

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    After the race

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    Finishing the post race beers before getting on the shuttle to our car at the start.

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    On the shuttle selfie

    This was such a fun race! The water stops seemed well stocked, I only grabbed Gatorade at two of them because I carry my own water. The parking was really easy, there was plenty of food pre and post race, the medal was nice and the support along the course was awesome.

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    The medal is so cute and looks good on my new medal hanger

    You really couldn’t ask for a better race and we couldn’t stop talking about wanting to do it again next year!

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    Used my new selfie stick to get a group wrist tattoo pic

    I really needed the weekend away. Work has been a little stressful with deadlines and it was great to unplug and spend time with my favorite people. It’s so rare we’re all in the same place and I’m so grateful for the awesome friends in my life.

    Can’t wait to do it again!

    Looking Back at 2014

    A couple weeks ago I went to a fun running bloggers Christmas party and to introduce ourselves during the white elephant we had to say our biggest running accomplishment for 2014.

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    Blogger Party Courtesy of Elizabeth’s Instagram

    This really was an interesting question for me because I had a really good 2014 and didn’t really know which thing I was most proud of.

    Obviously crossing the finish line of my first marathon was huge and something I’m really proud of but in all honesty I’m a much better runner now. I know I can do better at 26.2 and someday I’ll prove that. This was my answer but really I’m more proud of a few other things.

    My PR in the half marathon was probably the most surprising accomplishment. Not the fact that I PRed but that I ran as fast as I did. Since I’ve already recapped that I won’t go into too much detail, but taking 25 min off my best time was so amazing! I was thinking maybe a 2:25 half but 2:20 just seemed so far away and then it just happened. I just loved everything about that experience (minus the migraine). I’m also so thankful that my parents were able to be there and cheer me on. I’m sure my mother didn’t love that I beat her PR but I know she’s proud of me and the effort I’ve put into my running this year.

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    After my half marathon PR!

    I rounded out November by running two more half marathons (Rock N Roll Las Vegas and ATL Thanksgiving Half). I don’t recommend doing that! But I was happy that both of those races were faster than any of my 2012/2013 halfs. I’ve gotten the half marathon tally up to 8! Definitely my favorite distance to race.

    My most recent big accomplishment was a 5k PR in December. After the 3rd half I took 10 days off. I ran a couple times the week of the 5k, with a little bit of strides thrown into two 3 mile runs. I ran a small local 5k that started at a middle school and went to the ATL belt line (the beltline is this amazing trail system through Atlanta that will hopefully connect one day and be a 20 mile loop) down a little ways and then back to the school. I picked this race because it would be flat (or so I thought) and its a pretty area of town. My garmin hadn’t been working since thanksgiving (apparently I needed to download software updates) so I ended up running this race pace blind. I basically pushed myself as fast as I could and tried to keep moving. There weren’t mile markers but it was out and back (the finish was slightly different than the start) so I had a general idea where I was. We turned off the belt line and literally went up a steep hill and by this time I was dying! And when I reached the top I was rewarded with a downhill and then realized the finish was up another hill. I just kept trucking along and crossed the finish line in 28:23! My previous PR was from November 2012, 29:41, so this was a big jump for me. I had NO IDEA I was running that fast and I probably wouldn’t have run that fast if I was using my garmin.

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    After my 5K PR!

    On top of PRing the 5k, 13.1 and 26.2 (by default) I’ve also tried to get my eating habits under control. While I definitely wouldn’t say I eat clean, I am eating better and trying to maintain a balance. And I’m down around 28lbs and only have a few more to go to reach my goal weight. All under 6 months (1/7/15 is my 6 months with weight watchers) and I couldn’t be more proud of how 2014 has turned out for me!

    I’m excited to see what 2015 has in store for me! More to come on that soon….

    Thank you all for all the support this year, I’m so grateful for all the amazing people in my life!