Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Hay is in the Barn, or something like that.

Last night I completed my final longer/hard workout before the marathon. With the stop of my watch I had officially entered true taper mode, and to be honest...I'm thrilled. Yes, this coming from the girl who has previously complained about taper before marathons...many times.

For 100 days (officially, not including all the miles before training started) I poured my effort into training for this one race. 740+ miles later. Today, being day 101 with only 10 days until the race- I pour my effort into rest and recovery. More sleep, more rest, more compression, more water, more food (well, until depletion starts). More, more more everything. Except running. Normally I dread taper, and there are still parts I don't look forward to but as a whole I am embracing it this time around.

In the last week and a half I have had my final 'big' workouts for the race. A tempo last week, which unfortunately didn't go as planned (although looking back, it could have been much worse and I really was being a big baby about it). Last Friday I did my final long run, a 23+ miler all of which was done on the marathon course. This run, like the tempo did not go as planned. The heat and humidity took a large toll but at the end of the day I still got the 23+ miles in, and changing to effort over pace mid-run made that possible. I'm also a big believer in 'better today than on race day' when it comes to 'eh' long runs.

I put some pressure on last night's tempo, I wanted to go out on a positive note. The short of it, I got the workout done and feel confident about this training cycle. 12 miles with 10 progression tempo miles (6:47 average for the tempo miles). The slightly longer version- it wasn't perfect, it didn't feel amazing but I did it anyways. I know that the cumulative fatigue on my body right now is there, and it's time to rest.

Now it's time for some easy running, a short MP tempo, lots of compression, lots of hydrating and lots of nutritional calculations. Bring on the list making, weather checking, sleeping and motivation seeking. Something I constantly have to remind myself during taper is, THE WORK IS DONE. Focusing on what I can control, and keeping my eyes on the prize are huge. Running extra miles or adding workouts, are NOT going to help. Sleeping more, eating right, and giving my mind and body some TLC, those things WILL help.

While I KNOW that I will still be on the emotional roller coaster we like to call taper, I'm ready for this. I've got one of the best support systems a girl could ask for, and I'm certainly grateful for that. I'm also certain they are grateful that I know when to take time for myself so I don't drive everyone else bonkers too :)

Now, someone get me a Guinness. STAT.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Letter to my 26 year old self

Dear 26 Year Old Laura,

Today you turn 27, and that means that 26 is now officially behind you{insert huge sigh of relief here}. You have also survived much harder years than this past one, please remember that while you sit there beating yourself up (Because I know you are).

Let's peek at the last 365 days.

You had a kick ass fall racing season, a 10k PR and then back to back marathon PR's? Remember how amazing that felt, especially when you break that PR again in a few weeks at Rochester.

You also had some really fun adventures last fall, remember drinking a Guinness with your best friend at a rooftop pub in times square? What about running through Central park, and watching your other best friend finish her first marathon? Then there was that time you took a leap of faith and flew across the country and truly let yourself go and raced your heart out.

Winter, quite honestly was a bitch. It was colder and snowier than ever but you still got out there and did work. I am really proud of you for pushing through it when in the past you would have used it as an excuse. You ran more consistently, trained smarter and you started making better decisions with training and life in general. Just try and stay on your feet and not fall down the stairs this year, okay?
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Spring is where things got tricky, but you handled it with grace (most days). While training for Boston you had to back off for a bit to deal with injury, but you did it smart and managed to bounce back strong. You then made some very hard life decisions which forced a lot of changes all at once, and all only a few weeks before the biggest race of the year. Leaving a 'home', calling off a wedding, moving on your own, and essentially starting over was brave, and sometimes I think you forget that. You asked for help when needed, leaned on friends and family and eventually came back stronger and happier. Happiness looks good on you, smile more please.
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You ran 26.2 miles through Boston while you were 26 years old. Don't ever forget that day. While you didn't run a PR, that race was about so much more than that...Boston Strong. You worked so hard to get there, and I can't wait to see you go back next year with a clear head and a happy heart.
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Your late spring and summer were pretty crazy and had their share of ups and downs. Trip to Jersey shore to escape life and spend time with friends. A night in Buffalo followed by a huge half marathon PR and first time going sub-90. After that, the dust settled leaving you feeling pretty off. Despite some not-so-awesome days and situations, you managed to find the bright side and pull positives or lessons out of everything. Midwest trip gone crappy = Amazing support and rallying from friends/family to make sure you were safe, comfortable, and "drunk on a plane". A few lackluster summer races and a running rut = the final straw leading to you hiring a running coach, which now has you running stronger than ever. Finding the silver lining wherever you can, take pride in that.
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In general this year taught you a lot. You learned some ways to make yourself a better runner (with what works for  YOU and not necessarily everyone else), and you have seen the consistency pay off. You learned a lot about yourself, what you need and want and what you are not  willing to stand for in your life. You learned a lot about who really cares about you, and who simply doesn't. Remember to hold on to those that do, and don't settle for anyone treating you poorly. You've made a lot of mistakes in your life, but you have learned from them and I hope you never ever forget those lessons.

You spent a chunk of this year being 'alone', allowing yourself to work the days(and nights) away and focus on nothing but yourself. I truly think you needed that more than you realized, regardless of how much those 70-80 hour weeks took out of you. But later in the summer you started to come out of your shell. More time with friends, more time allowing yourself to be social and open up again. That wall you built started slowly coming down, not so low that anyone could get in, but high enough so that those who want to be in your life earn that right. You are surrounded by the right people instead of just people who happen to be in that place at that time.

Your last few weeks as a 26 year old have pretty much been devoted to finding balance. Balance with training, working, friendships, new relationship, family and also making time for yourself. This will be a lifelong process to find that balance, so don't get discouraged because you cannot do everything no matter how hard you try.

We could sit here and dissect what this week was 'supposed to be' or was originally planned to be....or we could sit here and focus on what it is. This week you turn over to a new chapter, 26 is a thing of the past. We can mark it as one of those chapters in a book that we just would love to never read again (right behind the 2008-2009 chapter). This week you will be surrounded by friends and family, count those blessings please and don't take it for granted. All these people support you, and you have so many chances in the next few weeks alone to support in return and many more in the future.

On this day last year you sat there thinking about how much things have changed, and all you went through to get there. Things have changed even more, and you have hurdled even more obstacles over the last 365 days. You know what though? You're going to continue hurdling things, and sometimes you will stumble and fall on your face. Laugh, shake it off and remember that you've got a lot to be grateful for.

Cheers to the next 365 days.
The good.
The bad.
The adventures.
The lessons.
The life.

If you could write a letter to your previous self, what would you say?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

ROC Training: Bye bye August

I think I am still struggling to wrap my head around how fast this training cycle has gone so far. June was "Yay, I'm training!", July was "Eff Everything", August was "getting shit done" and now here we are face to face with September. September is a jam packed month, and I couldn't be more excited.

September is my birthday month... few more days to get me those presents, just kidding. September is also birthday month for some other great people in my life. September is the month I get to support and cheer for my best friend at Lehigh Marathon. September is the month I have final hard training week. September I get to look forward to a taper after months of hard work. September is the month I finally return after a few years to demolish the Rochester Marathon. September is the month I get to stand beside a long time friend as she gets married. I could go on and on, and on.

But August. Oh, August you were a pretty darn good month.

In August I ran 231.5 miles. A solid month of training (86.4 were long run miles, 50.1 were tempo miles, 91.9 were easy miles and 3.1 racing miles) and a new monthly mileage PR to boot.

I think one of the best things that came out of August though, was my confidence. I have a level of confidence and steadiness with training and life that I haven't had before. Or in Heather's words to me... a "Calm happy", and that makes 100% sense to me & I'm happy others see it as much as I feel it.

As for training this last week of August. It was a good week, a 51 mile week and a relatively 'easy' week so to speak. I had one tempo run and the rest of my miles were to be done at easy pace, including my long run. While I know those easy miles help me aerobically, I know the biggest benefit is being fresh and ready for upcoming monster week (Final hard week of training, including another long tempo and a 23 mile long hard run).

I was a nerd when I realized that my tempo was 13 miles on Wednesday, I decided to do that run along the Rochester Half marathon course. The first few miles and the last few miles of the course are the same as the marathon course so I figured it would be good training. I have run this half before, in 2012 I finished in 1:31:46. Wednesday's tempo run included a 1 mile warm-up, 10 mile Tempo run and a 2 mile cool down. I completed this workout in 1:30:58. A new unofficial course PR, in a how things have changed in the last few years. I don't believe in going out and trying to best your time on every single run but in doing the workout as worked out to be that way. Once Rochester is over, I think coach and I need to find a half for me to race- all of these long tempos have me itching to take that 1:29 from Buffalo and smash it.

Besides the tempo run, my focus was on EASY miles and active recovery. I even got my butt in the pool a few times this week, imagine that. I know it helps to loosen things up without adding pounding on the joints. In addition to some core work/strength training I also did some easy miles on my bike while returning the favor of 'the 20 mile bike escort':) I also tried to get more sleep, hydrated well...and got a massage (it had been way too long).

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Being bike escort on the canal path for 20 miles :)
The weekends strength training involved some 22oz. curls. This is active recovery people, it's real. Particularly when those are Rogue Chocolate Stout Curls chased with cookies/brownies while staring at the stars listening to the sounds of people talking while the waves are crashing.
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This view from our family cabin in 1000 Islands...NEVER gets old.
Now onto my last full hard week of training. The good news is, all the hard runs this week will be well fueled with Birthday lunches and dinners:) Should be a busy but great week, then onto taper!

Am I the only one who has a crazy busy September?
(I'm sure those of you who are parents are busy with kiddos back in school!)

What did you curl this labor day weekend? Weights or beer?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

ROC Training 5 Weeks Out

I'd mentioned last week that I was feeling good and something felt different about my training. Maybe it was the fact that I had been doing really well with workouts, not feeling overly tired (easy days, recovery and refueling help this). Of course this week, that was not quite the case. I was much more tired this past week, part being a girl and part just being life. But, another week in the books and now less than 4 weeks to go. This is the grind.

This was a 58 mile week, including 3 easy runs as well as a long tempo and a long progression run. Even though I felt tired and heavy all week, most every run went as planned (or better).

Wednesday's workout was 14 miles total with 12 tempo miles. It was one of those runs that scared me but I was glad to dig deep and make it happen. The longer tempos the last few weeks have really helped build my strength and confidence{and my appetite}.

Friday's run was one of those runs you just try and forget and move on. Didn't feel great from start to finish, and managed to get stung by a bee on my inner thigh. Yeah, that was fun. But, miles in the bank and was only a little short from schedule (cut out strides at end).

The weekends miles were some of my favorite in a long time. While I have really loved that runners high from the tempo's each week, sharing miles with others can be really fun too. Saturday I did a few miles solo and then met up for the last few miles of the man's long run. 18 miles and he totally kicked my ass at the end, and I only ran 8.

Sunday was my fourth 20 miler of this training cycle, and I was lucky enough to have a bike escort for it. I ran the last 20 of the marathon course, and started around the time I would be hitting that point in the race (yes, I am OCD and really like to simulate race day during certain runs). I tried some gear I might use, practiced fueling, some of which worked and some of which didn't. It was fun to have company (except when he told me not to get any ideas when I ran by Tom Horton's....he could probably see the wheels turning about running through the drive through for a donut). It was a long progression run, which of course meant that the pace got faster as the temperature went up- we will file that under prep work in case it's hot on race day. Overall it was a good run, with fast finish. While overall pace wise not my fastest(which wasn't the point), still a great long training run and race prep.

"What's that clicking noise?"......"Nothing, just keep running babe".
This coming week and next, are my final full weeks of hard work before taper. I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do with the workouts and runs coach has given me. I'm also looking forward to this coming long weekend for Labor day, time spent with the best people up at our family cabin in 1000 Islands. Last year I was only able to get up there once in the summer, this will be my fourth time so far this summer. Priorities have been changing, and I certainly think it's for the better. Consistency and balance are very good things people, in case you were wondering.

All in all....Training is good, life is good.

Anyone else have fun plans for the long weekend?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

One Month Out, Welcome to the Grind

Somehow we are already a month out from Rochester Marathon, this year is absolutely flying by. When I first decided on my fall marathon it was below-zero out while I was plodding away on the treadmill training for Boston. Little did I know what this year was actually going to turn out to be, probably better that way.

I had planned on doing a post in July, you know...a half-way through training post. But July, quite frankly just sucked. It's hard to sit down and think about a marathon post when you are struggling to even run a 5k or 10k time that you {personally}deem acceptable. Luckily, I'm in a better frame of mind at this point in time, and am actually excited about what the next month will bring{this very well could be because I haven't seen my taper plan yet}.

Up to this point, I have covered a little over 578 miles since starting 'officially' training back in June. I have averaged a little over 50 miles a week, peaking at a little over 60 and including 3 cutback weeks (42, 35, 41) mixed in as well. This has been a good balance of quality vs. quantity and allowing my to maintain my busy schedule (and start to add more personal time to the schedule too).

Things that have changed...
This is the most I have averaged mileage wise for a marathon training cycle. While it may not seem like a lot to some of you mileage monsters, this consistency and slight increase has really helped me. I feel like I have had a good balance with quality and quantity going.

Hiring of a coach. Time wasn't on our side from the get-go. Starting with a new coach when there was only 2 months until race day wasn't ideal. BUT, it was the best move I made.

Trading intervals for tempo's. I've always loved intervals, but tempo's are really important in building strength during marathon training. I've not been good in the past about doing them, as I opted for my 'more comfortable{to me}' track workouts. Having a coach has a) made me do more tempo runs and b) made me start to like said tempo runs.

Running easy runs...easier. Granted this is a newer change as I have been held more accountable with it the last few weeks. But I do notice a difference, although there are times I struggle more than others controlling paces.

I feel much better now than I did a few weeks ago, that much I can say for sure. I am grateful for friends who scrape my deflated ego off of the ground after a hard workout or bad race, but also keep my head from blowing up after a good one. I am grateful for a coach who encourages me, pushes me and also listens to me.

Physically I feel strong. I don't feel as lean as I would like right now, but a) I will be feeling like a heffalump all week, and b) I still have a month to really "clean up" (and I have been working on this)

I'm seeing and feeling the changes in myself that consistency in my running/training has brought. This however, has not affected my goals for the marathon in a month. Yes it has improved my confidence in reaching those goals though. I believe that breaking my PR of 3:13 is not only possible, but highly probable. I am not ruling out a time that begins with 3:0X, not in the least. My goals (and coaches) could very well change in the next few weeks.

One month from today
I'll be running my 9th Marathon
One month from today I will be seeking revenge on a race that once destroyed me.
One month from today I will be drinking all the Guinness in the land while celebrating one kick ass training cycle (no matter the outcome of the race).
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So yeah, with a month to go my confidence level is building. If you told me a few months ago (hell, even a few weeks ago) that last night I would have knocked out a 14 mile run, with 12 tempo miles (breaking my 10k and 15k PR's in the process, and running my 4th fastest half time....all in a workout) I would have told you that you were on crack. [And yes I was legit sitting against my car after that damn workout]
What does the next month hold?
Well, a lot of fine tuning. Time to nail down fueling plans, race day gear, pacing plans and logistics. Time to focus on all those little things I CAN control. Time to start thinking about outfit options based on all the weather possibilities (it's Rochester, it very well could snow, rain, get hot, or all of the above). Time to get those last few hard workouts in, long runs and whatever else I can do to be prepared. The work isn't done, yet. I can't control the weather or who shows up on the line that day- but you can bet your ass I will be as prepared as I can for whatever comes my way.

Welcome to the grind.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

ROC: Training & Living {up}

Training update on a Tuesday? Apparently I'm a little pre-occupied lately. Life off the internet happens, who knew.

Where do I even begin with last week? I did a lot of running and a lot of living. Three cheers for not only being more social but actually being open and excited about it all. More on that another time though.

As for training, it was another solid 50+ mile week. Four easy runs, a long ass tempo run, and a long run. I can't quite put my finger on what it is, but I feel 'different' with my running the last few weeks (in a good way). I'd like to think that's a good sign seeing as, I'm legit toeing the line in less than 35 days.

I've been better the last few weeks about keeping my easy runs, well...easy. Having a coach now really helps me, that accountability works wonders. Taking it easier on non-workout days also allows me to hit workouts harder without feeling drained(who knew!?). Wednesday I nailed another long tempo run, 12 miles with 10 progressing between 7:13-6:37(including torrential downpour for the last few miles). I had some things going on and questioned how well I could pull it off, but some happy thoughts and encouragement go a long way.
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Pre- tempo run, with the sky all nice and sunny...that changed. Risky Business Shades because my running glasses were at home (that made the rain fun), That tank top didn't make it back from the run with me (Had taken it off and tucked in back of my shorts when I got hot, and wind during storm blew it out without me knowing), and my pre-run fuel in my 'motivational' bottle. 
Cross training has been pretty minimal lately as I have been focusing more on my running, and having more of a life. Enjoying my life outside training makes me enjoy training even more, so finding balance the last few weeks has been really good for me(working less has also helped). I did swim and do some core workouts last week, but I also missed a strength training workout. Getting called into work last minute and having an unplanned double on Thursday helped that happen, c'est la vie.

This past weekend was much needed time away for a night. Although I had a great week and was feeling better about things than I had in a long time---Quality time with a best friend NEVER hurts. Heather and I drove up to my families cabin in the 1000 Islands for Saturday/Sunday. We drank beer and ate lunch at a pub in town, hit the grocery store and stocked up on supplies...and then holed up in the cabin while it stormed all night. Girl talk, funny movies, food and beer. I'm pretty sure that all equals a successful relaxing night. Also makes for some funny stories (and both of us imitating Borat). This suit is black. Not.
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Uhhh, yep.
Sunday morning we got up up relaxed a little before our long run. If you are looking for new ways to spice up your morning cup-o-joe, ask Heather... she might have some suggestions for you. Can't complain about this view, this place is my slice of heaven.

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We did a 16 mile run up to the lighthouse then into town and back. The first 5 miles and last 5 miles are all rolling hills with the middle 6 being relatively flat along the water. Temperature wise we really lucked out, we did deal with some wind and humidity though. Reminder- even if the temperature is lower, you still need to hydrate. We both were reminded of this fact on Sunday. We followed the run up with an 'ice bath' in the lake, and of course refueled properly(well, our version of proper refueling).

Overall it was a really good week which left me even more excited for the next few weeks of training. I even used the words "excited" and "ready" in the same sentence as "hard 20 miler" when communicating with my coach. I'm so weird (not fancy).

For the first time in, well... a really long time, I feel like training and life are both headed in the same direction. Up. Get ready, this is gonna be good.

Vague blogging, for the win.

Monday, August 11, 2014

ROC Training: More Running Less Work

The last few weeks of training have been a roller coaster to say the least. Throughout it all though, I have continued adding 'bricks' regardless of everything else going on.

Last week I actually ran more miles than I worked, something that hasn't happened in a while. No I didn't run 70 miles this week, I just actually cut back on work hours and 'only' worked 50. Honestly, I wasn't sure what to do with myself but I knew that I needed a break. So I did what normal people do, went to the pool and laid in the sun for a while, got my hair cut, took naps, watched movies, and spent time with friends. Honestly, there were some things I should/could have done on my to-do list but chose not to. I actually have another 'light' work week this week so I will try and be more productive with my time.

Last Weeks Breakdown--1 Workout, 1 Race, 1 Long Run & 3 'Easy' Runs = 51.8 miles

This week brought me over 500 miles run since starting training for Rochester in June. Aside from being the most miles put in for a training cycle before (with 6 weeks still left to go), there is a consistency in my running that has never been there before. I am also 400+ miles ahead of where I was at this point last year, I don't hate it.

My 'workout' this week was a long tempo/progression (1 mile warm-up, 9 progression, 1 mile cool-down). I managed to hit the paces pretty darn close (finished a few seconds faster) starting with a 7:07 and a 6:39 closing tempo mile. This was a big confidence booster, as I felt strong while pushing the pace but not overwhelmed. Let's see how I feel about that tempo being lengthened by another mile this week.
Because we all know if I try and remember what paces I am supposed to run- I'm going to forget before I get 3 steps in.
Saturday's race wasn't the race I wanted or what I am capable of, but I'm not letting this one eat away at me. We will chat about that a little later this week. I thoroughly enjoyed being pretty damn lazy the rest of the day after the race. Saturday off, "what is this magic?!".
Lazy day by the pool, I didn't hate it. Don't knock my dollar shades, yo.
On Sunday I completed my third 20 miler of this training cycle. I laughed a few times this weekend, when I realized I look forward to 20 milers much more than 5k's. Who have I become? Anyways, it was a 'time on feet' run which meant no pace plan and take it 'easy'. I ran the first 13 bouncing around between different friends as we took to the Oak Tree 1/2 course (dirt back roads, hills etc.) which helped pass the time. After that I convinced Ben to tack on a few more with me and then finished my last 3 solo. Oddly enough, even with the hills and heat(and no pace plan) this was almost identical speed to my last 20 a few weeks ago(which was much better weather, and less hilly). Apparently not being a raging bitch and keeping your heart rate down helps you run better, who knew.  Then again, my fastest 20 miler (not in a race) was done the morning after a Whiskey/Red Wine bender so I guess there aren't exactly rules for running best 20.

Overall I am feeling more confident with training, and ready for the next 6 weeks. My focus has remained strong and has only gotten better thanks to my kick ass support team who I feel are with me every step. Holy crap, 41 days.

As for this week, more miles more workouts and...more time off. WHAT? Yes, another true 'weekend' coming up. Really excited to get away for the weekend and get a run in with Heather. Girl time at the cabin, swimming, bonfire, beer, food, running, beer, Swedish Fish, beer. Yeah, all that and more. I'm pretty sure it will be an incredibly therapeutic weekend up on the lake.

20 Milers- Love or Hate?

What do you do when you get time off of work? 
Be productive or Lazy?

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