Atlantic City Marathon Training: 2nd Quarter Update

The month of August has actually been pretty good to New England.  We got some rain, but not a washout and the heat was fairly tolerable.  I faced the same challenges in the past quarter that I did earlier; time and childcare.  My overall weekly mileage did increase, but I’m still under 50 miles a week, which I fear is going to end up being inadequate.  I did have an easier time settling into my stride this quarter and was able to kick the pace up with little effort.  I also got in several quality track session (with the kiddos in tow) and feel that my overall strength and endurance is well ahead of where I was at this time last year. In short, I am doing well and am pleased with my training.

Weeks 5, 6, 7, & 8 were only 42, 42, 43, and 49 miles respectively, but I got some good, quality work done.  Week 5 ended with a 10k (and an awesome PR), and I managed to do interval training the next three weeks.  Track workouts left me feeling tired, but strong, and my long runs on weeks 6 & 7 consisted of some pretty spicy hills. Overall I am faster and able to hold faster speeds longer. My cruising pace now is what my race pace was last year and my race pace is now what my intervals pace was. I am pleased with my progress.

The sun shows up later and later these days.  My 5am runs were awfully dark, so I adjusted my time to 5:30 am.  But this meant that I had a half hour less time to work with.  Every morning that I ran I weighed my options of running in the dark vs skimping on warm ups & cool downs and cutting a run short. And then this past week even 5:30 was dark!  I know I can’t get away with starting any later and I’m running out of reliable childcare.  And I can drag the kids to the track only so many times before they start to rebel…

Thankfully school starts this week which will make training in general a lot easier.  But it also looks like we are closing in on a house, which may put a kink in some things.  I am putting a lot of planning into September’s training schedule so that I get the most quality out of each run.  I am also looking forward to getting in a bit more speed workouts and going further on my long runs.  While I am feeling pretty great, I plan on continuing my P.T. stretches and exercises.  I also now have a bike! (I haven’t had a bike since I was in middle school.) So I am hoping to add some cross training a few days a week.  I am also focusing on hydration, fueling, and meal planning in the next few weeks as I close in and get closer to race day.

How is your training going?!

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Senita Review

In Toronto I lost my fuel in the first mile of the race. It all just fell right out of my shorts pocket, leaving me to finish the next 25 miles with only what the aid stations had to offer. It all turned out okay in the end, but it caused unnecessary anxiety. My Asics shorts, up until that moment, had been a trusty friend. But after a lot of wear, miles, and washes, the back pockets just weren’t elastic-y enough to keep anything in them anymore. So I started the hunt for new shorts, shorts with really good pockets.

In my quest for new shorts I’ve been looking into a lot of companies. I didn’t want to hit up the big guys again; I wanted to do business with a smaller, newer, made-in-America company. I wanted a business run by women. But I didn’t want to spend a lot, since I just don’t have a lot to spend at the moment. I wanted something different.

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Finishing up a long, hot, and sweaty 14 miler.

The algorithms over at Facebook were clearly watching my searching since various ads showed up in my newsfeed. Then Senita Athletics showed up. I browsed the comments sections (all positive, all glowing, all a little too good to be true). They kept showing up in my newsfeed. I checked out their site. They had pretty stuff. They had cheap stuff. I searched for other reviews. Everything was overwhelmingly positive. So, I figured why not. I placed an order for three items; a bra, shorts, and a headband (to put my order over $50 to get the free shipping). Then I waited. I got an email the next day saying my order had been shipped & to expect it in 5-7 business days. Cool. So I waited and obsessively checked the shipping link.

But my order never moved. The USPS site kept telling me that it was in “pre-shipment”, whatever that meant. So I waited the full 5 business days to give them a chance. Nothing. Great. I just knew it was too good to be true! I sent an email to ask where my stuff was. The customer service department got back to me right away , telling me tere was an issue fulfilling my order. The bra I had selected wasn’t available in my size in the color I had wanted and instead of notifying me it was stuck in limbo. So I picked a different color and my order was shipped out the same day. (And I got a coupon code as an apology for the delay). I got my stuff a day later.

I really didn’t have high hopes. I’ve gotten cheap stuff online before and while some of it has been okay, it’s never been as great as I had envisioned. How could $22 shorts from an unknown company be any better? All those glowing reviews were probably bots, or paid for, or from in-house anyway…

Let me tell you; this stuff that showed up in my mailbox was simply amazing! I was so excited tearing open those packages. The fabric is thick (read quality, not hot), luxurious, and soft. And the pockets! Oh my word, the pockets! At first I thought “no way is a phone going to fit in there”, but I was wrong. I can fit my phone AND it’s large bulky case in there! And as for racing fuel…I can easily fit it all in there plus extra with no fear of losing anything.

I went running in them right away. And then again the next day. And then I wore them on my Sunday long run. I love all of it. I can’t wait to buy more of it. And, at least so far, they hold up well in the wash; no colors fading, no lose strings or seams coming apart.

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I do have to say that while I can carry my phone in my shorts pocket, I don’t like to. It’s heavy & I can feel it. It’s actually kind of annoying. But then again, I hate, loathe, and despise carrying my phone anyway. It didn’t move at all during the run & I had no fear of losing or dropping it, so when I go to new places and am compelled to carry my phone, I will, but I’m not going to like it. If these types of things don’t bother you, then I think the phone-in-shorts thing will work just fine for you. (I cannot wear an arm band with my phone out of annoyance as well.)

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Rio Shorts, 3.75 inch inseam

I didn’t mind carrying the phone in the bra pocket. While I could feel it back there and it did take some getting used to, it didn’t hurt, bounce, or otherwise make me feel like I’d lose it. This bra will ALWAYS get packed when we go on vacation since I tend to get lost and need a map (or a ride back) and this will be the best way to carry it. Yes, it was even easy to get the phone in & out while wearing a shirt over the bra. Also, look at that print! It’s just super cute!

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Sarah Bra, Bahamas print

Check out these fabulous ladies at Senita Athletics. The two women that run the company have a great story. AND they use body positive models on their site. Everything about Senita is an A+!

(Note: This is an honest review of items I purchased. I was not approached by this company nor am I affiliated with them in any way.)

 

Another Jaunt Down the Hop River Trail

Yesterday was 5th Annual Hop River 5k & 10k here in Andover, CT.  I enjoy this race because it’s local, it’s flat, and it’s a lot of fun racing down the trail that I train on almost every day.  And, it lines up perfectly in the beginning of the second quarter of marathon training.  I’ve run it two other times before (2014 and 2016) and both times I ran the two miles to the event as a warm up and home again as the cool down.  But Saturday was a different story this year.  Torrential downpours flooded from the skies and severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings loomed.  Unsure if the race would even take place, my husband and I decided it would be best to drive there and park to save my feet from getting too soaked and to make it home again safely if the weather turned even worse.

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Just stepping from the car to the registration tent had me soaked to the bone.  By the time I had finished my warm up my soggy socks were inducing blisters. Thankfully we missed out on thunderstorms (and tornados!) and the rain even took a break by the time the gun went off.  I ran in my usual fashion: rabbit out the start and try to hang on as long as I can.  I made it through the first half a lot faster than I had planned.  I hit the three mile mark at 19:09, well over two minutes ahead of my plan.  NOT SMART!  I hit the turn-around and started back to the start/finish line, but was really feeling the humidity, the blisters, and the strain of moving too fast.  I looked at my watch a little more often than I probably should have, but it assured me that I was keeping the pace under 7 minute miles.  “Don’t get comfortable, Mazy” I kept telling myself. I was delighted to come across the five mile marker. Almost home!  Despite some cramps and sore feet, I had it in me to surge through the last half mile and actually kicked it in to the finish.  Seeing my family, neighbor, and best friend cheering in the final stretch was a glorious feeling!

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I sailed through the finish line, being sure to take a long stride OVER the wet and slippery timing mat, and nearly fainted when I looked my watch.  41:32.  This was nearly a 45 second PR in wet, slippery, muddy conditions.  My Garmin also recorded a new 5k PR, 19:49. Not too shabby.  I finished 6th overall and was again the top female finisher.  It was totally worth the rain and blisters!

After I got home I uploaded my Garmin data so I could compare this year’s race to last year’s race.  It was the same course, but a few variables changed.  Last year was incredibly hot (90 degrees, with a heat index of 105) and bright sunshine.  This year it was cool and incredibly wet.  Both years I hit a PR though.

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What was the same was my incredible gung-ho attitude about flying out for the first half and scrambling to hang on through the second half.  That’s certainly something I need to work on.  I’m not finishing as strong as I know I can, so I can work on pulling out a better kick as well.  But I am getting stronger. I am getting faster. And, maybe, I’m getting smarter about it all.  It was a fantastic run, and despite my slow down, I have no regrets.  Can’t wait to see what I pull off next year!

***Oh, and I want to send a special shout out to one of my readers who’s beautiful third place finish won her her age group.  FANTASTIC RUN, MARISSA!!***

Atlantic City Marathon Training: 1st Quarter Update

On Sunday I finished up the first quarter of my marathon training for my next race.  For most folks this would be the Base stage, though I have a lot of foundation under me from my previous marathon, so it’s more like gearing up for the Quality stage.  I was a little disappointed with the last four weeks of running.  I had hopes of putting in more mileage, but chronic headaches, heat waves, and juggling childcare has put a damper on the miles.  I got in 39, 32, 45, and 42 miles in each of the first four weeks. So much for base mileage!

While my runs have been shorter than intended, they have been quality workouts.  So far I’m not injured and I am feeling strong.  I’ve been a bit ahead of pace on pretty much everything, but, that’s probably okay.  Except for Sunday’s long run, I haven’t been tiring or slowing down.  The majority of my runs feel like a walk in the park – I’m just pressed on time and cutting them short.

I’ve also slacked on the strength training. I know. I need to do it. And I have no excuses for it not getting done.  I promise to do better!!

The kids go back to school at the end of the month, so I have about four more weeks of figuring this out. I have a few things to work on: continue P.T. workouts, focus on pacing, add more miles.  How’s your training going?!

Musings: Sweat Fog and Tears

I skipped my run yesterday.  I was supposed to get up at 5am and do the 3 by 12 minute threshold workout that my plan was calling for.  I turned my alarm off, looked at the rain that was falling outside and rolled back over. I called myself lazy, slacker, and weak. I knew I had to get out there.  If I want to run a fast marathon, then I need to do the work. I knew this.  But the truth is, I just wasn’t feeling it.  I’ve been overwhelmed lately and the idea of getting up and facing a cold rain with a hard workout was just more than my little, damaged psyche could take.

I’ve been on the edge of depression as of late.  My marriage is hard.  My kids are hard.  This whole ‘maybe we’ll move in the next three months’ is hard.  I’ve been spinning my wheels and going nowhere —  just slinging mud.  Sometimes this whole marathon thing is hard.  I have days where I wonder why I can’t just be happy with 5ks and 10ks.  Sometimes the one thing I enjoy just feels like more work.  So I rolled over and slept until 8.  Then I spent the rest of the day feeling moppy and mad at myself.  I knew a day off wouldn’t hurt my training, but who takes a rest day just because they are sad?!

I got up this morning.  I would have loved to have slept in, or at least sat in bed with my coffee and the news. But instead I pulled on my big girl booty shorts and hit the trail.  The fog was so dense you could only see a hundred feet or so ahead on the trail and it clung to my hair and eye lashes.  And it was a chilly 55 degrees.  I actually wore a long sleeve.  It felt amazing to have to wear a long sleeve shirt while running in July, especially after the intense heat wave we endured last week.  I’m not gonna lie; I was slightly emotional.  I was focused on the run and my pace and not really thinking about anything, but subconsciously my brain (and body) were working through a lot of stuff.  Sweat, fog, and tears all look the same streaming down the face, and thankfully no one was out that early to see me anyway.  I ran a solid 10 seconds ahead of pace and felt strong.  I even managed to get in an extra rep.  That should make up for yesterday’s laziness, right?

Thankfully marathon training is long enough, forgiving enough to not take it so personally when you need a day off.  I have time to get it together before the gun goes off.  I have a lot of distance to cover between now and October, and the marathon training is okay with me taking my time.  I’ll be okay because of marathon training.  Life is sometimes hard, but running makes me strong enough to live it.

Keep Climbing Up, Baby

IMslideWhenever I bring my kids to the park there is almost always another family with kids there. And, inevitably, there is a not-so-gentle “reminder” to not go up the slide.

“Stay on your bottom, Sweetie!”

“Slides are for going DOWN!”

“Get off of there! You’re going to fall!”

I’m often given dirty looks and even asked why I don’t tell my children to stop climbing up the slide. Because they are playing and aren’t hurting anyone.  Of course they already know the rule; those going down take precedent & you always get out of their way.  Other than that, I honestly see no harm in it.

Yesterday at the park a woman was desperately trying to keep the young tot with her from going up the slide. But the kid kept going back and trying it again, and again.  Exasperated the woman gave up.

“When you fall off maybe then you’ll learn not to do that again!”

Of course I don’t believe she really wished for the kid to fall (nor would she have let him), but it was clear that she did wish for him to learn it was “dangerous” and to hopefully not do it.  This is where I shake my head a little.  I don’t wish my kids to learn how bad something is and to then avoid it. I want them to learn from it.  If my kid falls off a slide, I want him to yes, learn the dangers of it, but I also want him to come up with a new strategy and figure out how do it without falling.  I want him to grow. I want him to learn.

Imagine if every time we failed we just stopped trying.  My first marathon was a failure.  So was my second.  And, devastatingly, my third.  But I didn’t quit.  Yes, it was a struggle, an “up hill battle” if you will, but I learned something new about the distance after every cycle of training and every race.  I compounded this knowledge until I started getting it right.  If my kid had quit the first time he didn’t make it up the slide, he would have never experienced the satisfaction of having made it to the top once he was big enough, strong enough, and experienced enough to do it.  If I had quit after my first race, I would have never known the joy of smashing my goal.

Sometimes we fall.  Sometimes we get hurt.  Sometimes we fail.  But these can be good things.  We can learn from how something doesn’t work, making us that much more efficient the next time around.  I will do great things in the marathon because I just keep trying.  I keep climbing.  I keep on running.

I don’t ever want my kids to stop climbing up the slide.  I want them to keep climbing up, up, and up because I love the confidence, the satisfaction, and the joy on their faces when they make it to the top, turn around, and smile back down at me.

 

School’s Out & Mom Needs to Run

Tomorrow is the last day of school. Wednesday begins the 10 long weeks of figuring out how to keep my three kids from killing each other.  I have all the library events marked on my calendar as well as all their various sports and activities.  We have chore charts and behavior charts and Summer reading challenge charts already posted.  Unfortunately this Summer we will not be taking a vacation like we did last year, which was a great help at breaking up the monotony as well as giving us all something to look forward to.  Instead, we will be packing and (hopefully) closing on a house.  *Fingers crossed*  But, until we actually know what is happening with the housing situation & when, we will carry on like we have been for the past year and a half; Hubs living two hours away at work during the week and me holding down the fort alone.  This also means I need to creatively figure out how I’m going to get through the first 8 weeks of my next training cycle with three kids, again.

Last Summer I trained for the Hartford Marathon and was in the same situation.  I ended up cutting my training way back while school was out, and only running a few days a week.  I ran Monday mornings before Hubs left for the week, Wednesday while the kids stayed with some friends, and then both Saturday and Sunday.  Every other week I brought the kids to the track on Tuesdays.  It worked out okay.  But I’m at a point with my marathoning where I need to step up my game if I’m going to get faster.  This means more repeats and longer long runs.  So between highly utilizing the weekends, begging the neighbors and friends to babysit, and dashing off for a quick run around the block while they are engrossed in story time I just might be able to pull it off.

But I also need to plan to take a deep breath and be patient.  The Fall race isn’t my target.  While I still have goals, the real focus is on Boston next Spring and this Fall race is simply the conditioning to get me that much closer to me real goal down Boylston Street.  I focused very hard and trained even harder last Spring and I came through that cycle on cloud nine.  Perhaps I should take the Summer as an opportunity to train with a little less intensity and just enjoy it.  Or, maybe I’ll break down and invest in a treadmill one of these days…