Monday, September 26, 2011

NYC Marathon Training - 6 weeks and counting

This week was a challenging week of training. It felt hard every step of the way. In fact for the first time during marathon training I cut a workout short.

Welcome Autumn
In the good news category the Autumn weather is making its way to us in the tropics. It takes a while. But I know it's coming because it's about 1 degree cooler and I feel like I've moved into an aviary. There are birds everywhere. Soon they should be very fat birds because we're also having a dragonfly invasion. Soon that will mean cooler training but not yet - not really.

I ran 39.87 miles this week. I might go ahead and round that to 40 for my mental tally.

I started Tuesday with the 3.8 mile fun run with Footworks. That's always fun and a good way to start the week.

Wednesday I went to the track for Yasso 800s.  Yasso 800s are supposed to be a good predictor of marathon pace. You use your hopeful marathon finishing time in minutes as your time to run the 800. If you can do that for ten 800s with a recovery lap in between then you're ready to run that time.

The plan was a 2 mile warm up and then 6 Yasso 800s and then 2 mile cool down. Running the 2 mile warm up was great. This is my second favorite place to run now because of the shade.
It's about 10 degrees cooler in the shade so this is a dream path for me. Unfortunately the track has no shade.

This is a man-made hill where people come for hill work. You can see the path that runners have worn in the grass. Also where I think the Miami-Dade cross country routes are run. We have no hills. Only bridges and this mound we call a hill.
Here's the track. Notice the crowd ;-) All mine my own private track.

I quit after the 5th Yasso 800 because I was overheating and seeing stars. My biggest fear is to be out running alone and collapse with a heat related thing. So, I didn't push it.
This is me after I stopped. Do I look a little overheated?

On my way to a drink with ice (lots of ice) I snapped this picture of the incoming rain. I could use the weather as an excuse but I'd be fibbing. I was too hot.
 Thursday was 10 miles with 8 miles at Marathon pace. I decided to do this outside and not inside on the treadmill. The first half was good. It wasn't as fast as I'd like but fast enough but then the wheels came off. At the half-way point I knew my heart rate was high and so I drank a whole bottle of water with my gel. I didn't sit but I walked while I did this. My heart rate came down and I began to sweat and cool down. I started running again but not couldn't hold the faster pace. It was depressing. Mile 8 ish I even got the chills which I know is not a good sign. I took my hat off and put water on my head and also I walked a lot of the last mile. I'm really hoping that in the cooler temperatures I'll be able to keep a faster pace but there's really no way to know until I get there and it's driving me bananas.
What my Thursday run looked like. Notice the constant resting in the second half followed by lots of walking. Yuck!
Friday I thought I'd make up the miles I skipped on Wednesday but instead I gave into my training funk and took it as a rest day. I was crabby all day. We should all feel sorry for my family because I was a major grouch. By the evening I had figured it out so I apologized.

Saturday - Long run day. Started with my crew at 4:45. Woke up 10 minutes late but still made it with plenty of time.

Somehow I managed to lose my 2 GUs in the first 5 minutes. WHAT?!? Luckily my running buds carry extras and I bummed a stinger and ate my gu chomps.

It was a fine run. I felt slow the whole way. My legs were just tired.  I went out at a good pace with a new person we picked up at the start named Miren. but had to slow down to not lose my running mates in the dark. That's bad running karma to drop a running pal in the dark. I stopped and goofed off for a total of 20 minutes during the run. Water stops, potty stops, chatting stops. That's an eternity. At the end of 18 miles last week I was able to finish strong. Well at the end of 20 miles I was not. My legs were toast. So I gave it all I had and I'll be happy with that.
One missing gu apparently dropped on the way out of the car. The other - mystery. I blame the little elastic straps on the amphipod water belt.
When I got back to my car I found a GU that I dropped apparently on the way out of the car. oops.

The good news is I have no soreness at all. In fact on my recovery run today I felt great.

So last week was tough. But now it's over and we're onto next week. Moving forward. Doing the best we can. I did rest yesterday but now I'm stacking my workouts through Wednesday because I'm traveling at the end of the week. Just me and the kiddos. Alas there won't be any working out without kiddo coverage. So I'll be resting these legs. Next weeks update will probably be boring because I won't have done much. I'll have to come up with some jokes or something.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Product Review - Cap Light

I'll be honest this is my favorite product that I've picked up in a long time. And it costs less than $2.

In fact when I ordered mine I had this crazy sense that the items I was buying had to cost more than the shipping I was paying so I bought 4 I think - or 5. That's pretty silly but oh well.

Increasing My Batman Factor by a lot
My batman factor is a saying that I either heard or coined when I first started photographing weddings. You need a lot of gadgets and the easiest place to keep them is on your belt where you can get to them quickly(film, flash, batteries) . But once you get one or two things there it gets a little ... well, like Batman. So there you have it: the Batman factor. This doesn't go on your belt but you get the idea.

I have been seeing these everywhere and I didn't know where to get them. When I say seeing them everywhere... I mean on other runners. They aren't carried in any store I could find near here. Although I have been told to look in hardware stores, battery stores and in the Target camping department I had looked all of those places and hadn't found them.

Finally my running buddy Carol said after a run, "I knew you'd ask me so I saved this for you." She had kept the case so I could look it up. I ordered them on Amazon.

It is a totally cheap thing and you can tell when you put it together that quality is not what this is about. In fact to get the batteries to stay in I had to tape them with scotch tape. Duct tape would be better but I couldn't find it.

But, it clips onto your hat and it lights the way in front of your run. In other words It does exactly what I want it to do.

The only downside is that it does weigh down my hat a little bit in the front. I have a teeny tiny itty bitty pea sized head so this may not happen to you.  In any event after the sun comes up and I've eaten my Gu's I take it off and put it in my pouch. No biggie.

If you're reading this review and you may run in the dark - you should buy this. Why? Because Amy Says So :-)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Product Review - Honey Stinger Gel

I have tried something new. I have been a GU Gel  user since about 2000. That was back when we could get plain GU without caffeine. Those were good times.

In getting ready for the NYC Marathon on November 6. I'm making my nutrition plan. I have a running buddy who loves these Honey Stinger Gels and Cookies. They have a big plus - they are all natural and they are caffeine free.

My stomach can only take so much caffeine so I was interested to try them.

On Tuesday night while at my local running store (Footworks - South Miami) I picked up a Honey Chocolate Stinger gel.

And I tried it on Thursday for my hotter than hot 10 mile run. Our temps here in Miami are still in the low 90s once the sun is up so the gel packet was nice and warm when I opened it.

Here are my thoughts:
  • The pouch was very easy to open. That's great. 
  • The consistancy was not like a GU gel because the honey had warmed up from being in the heat of my pouch next to my body in the hot Florida sun for 5 miles. It was very thin and viscous. I had to pay attention to not spill it. This makes sense because it's honey and that's what honey does when you warm it up. But it wasn't entirely easy to manage. My fingers and chin were sticky.
  • Next, I remembered that I don't love the taste of honey. Never have but that's just an opinion. It always catches me by surprise because I feel like I should like honey more. I do like honey on biscuits but only if there is no strawberry jam. 
  • There was practically no chocolate flavor that I could find. It's mostly honey. It's very sweet and it took me a few sips to get it down because of that sweetness. 
  • If you like the taste of honey you will like these gels. 
  • But it performed. It gave me the energy I needed to finish the run and it didn't upset my stomach at all. 
So, while I'm not a convert because of my finicky anti-honey taste buds I would recommend at least trying them if you like honey.

A Bonus Extra Random Thought
As a follow up thought. I think that one of the great benefits from honey is if you choose local honey. Because it's made from local plants it has all kinds of allergy immune system help which is very cool. Honey Stinger is made in Colorado but if you're not from Colorado and wanted to be honey powered you could look for local honey packets at a health food store and that might be a very cool local organic alternative.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Marathon Training - 7 weeks to go

41.63 miles.

Maybe that should be my whole post. Just maybe.

Okay - not. But that is my first 40 mile week and that's pretty cool.

7 weeks to go - WHAT!
Every Monday I have a little confusion because my training program is a week ahead of me. Sort of. Training Peaks emails me my workouts every day. It's nice. The first thing it says on Mondays is "congratulations, after this week you have xxxx weeks left." Did you catch the magic word?


So today the message said 6 weeks to go and I had a mini freak out like I do every Monday until I remembered, Oh yeah plus this week. 6 +1 = 7 and that seems correct.

Sheesh. so confusing. Dear Runners World -- Monday is at the "beginning" of the week.

So I ran 41 miles this week. I feel pretty good.


Hit the track (should have taken a picture)
I did a track workout of mile repeats. I went to the track at Tropical Park. It was very nice. The path for my warm up was pretty shaded and the track was pretty empty (but not shady). My fantastic Garmin was set to automatically do it's garmin thing at every mile so even though I pressed lap at the start and finish of all my single miles my data was all kinds of off. So when I got home I turned that setting off.

Hit the Treadmill  (that would be a boring picture)
I then did a tempo run on the treadmill at the gym. That was horrible. I am not a good treadmill runner. I was there with my water, my watch and my phone for music. I was sooooooooooooo bored. I sent about a million annoying tweets because I had nothing else to do. I had imaginary races with the folks next to me on treadmills ... I always won because a) I was going faster and b) nobody else was that crazy to stay on the treadmill as long as I did.

Oh ... and even though I was in one spot the whole time I was there. I managed to lose my keys. What?!? I know. I still don't know how it happened. But I must have set them somewhere and somebody else picked them up and thought that they were theirs.

It was very stressful. It was also a little embarrassing.

I had to walk to my daughters gymnastics team meeting about a mile away which wouldn't have been bad except I had just run 9 miles and was pretty tired and hungry since my wallet was in my car where I couldn't get. BECAUSE I HAD NO KEYS. So there I was all sweaty for my mommy meeting with the other mommies (who were all dressed and showered ... awkward, yes). Then my husband picked me up and we looked like idiots looking for my keys under all the treadmills in the gym. But luckily the next day I went back and somebody had turned them in.

To rewind a bit let me recap the phone call to my husband from the LA Fitness Gym when I was freaking out. We're of course both on mobile phones I'm standing outside in a mall he's driving so just use your imagination for the ambient noise.

Me:     I lost my keys at the Gym and I need to get to the Gym for Dylan's meeting.
Him:   What?
Me:     (not understanding the confusion) I don't know how but I lost my keys at the Gym and I need   to Get to the Gym  for Dylan's Gymnastics meeting.

Him:    So, I need to pick up Dylan?
Me: No, what are you not understanding about this! I was on the treadmill at the Gym and now I've lost my keys and I need to get to the Gym for the parents meeting about the Gymnastics team meeting but I can't get into my car.

Him: This is very confusing. Why do you need your car to get to the Gym if your at the Gym?
Me: (probably screetching like a banshee and still not understanding the confusion): I'm at the LA Fitness Gym at Sunset Place I need to get to the Gymnastics Gym!

Hee hee I was so stressed I didn't realize the confusion until later that night when I had calmed down and eaten and showered and my hubby did his impersonation of me during the conversation. If I ever make a movie ...

Going Long
My long run was 18 miles. That was pretty good. It was a very long day but I felt strong through the whole run. Surprisingly I don't have much soreness at all the rest of Saturday, Sunday or even today. I guess that means the training is working.
Hanging in the hallway before the run. Notice the new cyborg lights under the hat.
After the run sitting down outside waiting for my buddy Carol. I think I look pretty refreshed for having just finished 18 miles.

So, remember back on the track when I had the issue because my Garmin was marking the end of every mile and so my mile repeat data was wacked and then I turned that off. Well, I should have turned that back on for the long run because unfortunately my data was recorded as one giant lap for all 18 miles. I'm not going to worry about it but I was trying to pick up my pace for the last 3 miles (as instructed by "the plan" and my brain power was depleted by this point so even though I was watching the watch I would have like to have analyzed this data after. Unfortunately ... no can do. One lap 17.91 miles - that's it. Drat. Lesson learned.

Toenail watch 2011.
I think it's a gonner. But we'll see. It hurt putting on the compression socks after the run. That's probably not a good sign. I had wrapped a band-aid on it for the run which I think immediately slid down to the bottom of my toe (not helpful).
Because what you always wanted to see was my soggy post run toes. It's the second toe. You can see the bruise / blister under the nail. Well at least I can ;-)
What's next.
Well there are 43 miles on this weeks schedule. That includes a 20 miler on Saturday.  Makes me tired just to write that. Also there is a 10 miler with 8 at marathon pace. This is what got me on the treadmill this week. Marathon pace is hard to hold in the heat. So the question is. Do I brave the treadmill again or just adjust the pace. To be determined. Tune in next Monday to find out.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sixty Six miles sticks with you

If you read this blog ... and I know that you do. Well then you read about my biking the longest distance to date 66 miles. It was quite an achievement. I am proud of myself.

Like all endurance first times this distance has stuck with me through the week. But not in the way you might think. My muscles actually felt better than after the 54 mile ride the week before. Well except my shoulder. Apparently I tense my shoulders while biking I have to stop that because it hurts later.

But more importantly... my ankle and my forehead are healing.

Before we even set out I was waddling my bike toward the start and I scraped the side of my ankle against the cleat. it stung a bit but not really and it didn't really bleed but later in the shower I learned I had carved a little whole in my leg. That stung a bit. I put a band-aid on it to prevent myself from screaming like a banshee when my 5-year old tried to touch it. I was just able to peel the band-aid off yesterday.
Ankle scuff on the bottom. Also not related to the bike ride but we are into the part of marathon training known as operation toenail watch. The toenail that occasionally doesn't make it is indicated above. The status is currently: tender with a little sub nail bruising.

Skin cancer ... nope. Abrasion from bike helmet. Wtf? Just for fun this little doozy started to darken through the week and was joined by a monster zit on my chin (not pictured) People were asking me what happened thinking I fell somewhere or ran into a door. Nope, self-inflicted.

Here is the offending helmet. To the right you can see the velcro that gently rubbed my forehead for 66 miles. It actually didn't hurt at all maybe because my skin was protected by the flimsy layer of fabric to the left. Uh nope not much protection there.
I looked at my helmet compared to my kids both of which were purchased within the year and their velcro coverings are padded and plush. Also in comparison to their helmets mine smells like old stinky sweat. So, I think that a new helmet is in order.

I actually am not riding this weekend because I've been summoned by the mother-in-law to deliver the grandkids. But as it turns out it looks like my body needs a rest. Oh and there's the little matter of the 18 mile run on Saturday so I actually don't feel guilty.

Tune in later to hear about how I managed to lose my keys while running in place on a treadmill - nope I'm not kidding.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Marathon Monday - 8 weeks and counting, is that right?

To be honest the New York Marathon seems like it's right around the corner.

I'm tinkering with my wardrobe, adding up the miles and starting to plan a post-race bar-b-que / birthday party.

The Log
I logged 30.44 run miles according to my trusty Garmin. (Actually not so trusty this week but more on that later. ) And a whopping 65.50 mile bike ride on Sunday. I also did a 45 minute bike trainer session on Wednesday night because I was too disorganized to get my run in :-)

The long run this week was 14 miles and it felt good. We left from South Miami Hospital which is the starting place for the Footworks training. It was like coming home after a long summer of starting from Cocoplum Circle. Except I got a little lost in the dark. They are building a new building and I couldn't find the path from the parking garage. I asked somebody dressed like a doctor who was smoking outside. He pointed me in the right direction. In another random thought how can doctors smoke. I mean what sense does it make that you would give individuals advice concerning their health and silmultaneously put that garbage into your body? I don't always make perfect nutrition decisions but smoking seems obviously bad for you.

Is that a twinge?
For me the overwhelming anxiety preparing for a marathon is an injury that can halt progress or prevent completing the race. In the past my nemesis has been the IT Band but so far my IT Band is working with me. However after my trainer session on the bike I had a twinge in my hamstring. I've never fully "pulled" my hamstring but I was confident it wasn't pulled it's just tight as can be. So, I rolled and stretched all week and tried to get into the chiropractor but wasn't able to make an appointment (admittedly I didn't call until Thursday mid-day). So, by the long run I felt fine but one of my running buddies did say it looked like my gait was off. That's a goal for this week - to get that figured out. 

Fueled by Captain Crunch
For this weeks run I varied from my old reliable standard pre-run meal of Oatmeal and ate Captain Crunch.  It may have been a mistake so it's back to Oatmeal next week for the longer run.

I did do what I had promised myself and stuck to my own pace once the sun was up. I felt much better about the pacing.

Riding to Roberts Circle K
Roberts is a juice bar in Florida City and the turn around point for the long cycling rides of the Hammerheads. I've been there once on a ride but I started half-way so this was my first time doing the full ride. Roberts is actually closed while they work in the fields until November 1 so we stopped at Circle K which I presume is pretty close by.

The way down was great. I kept with the pack and felt good. I had brought 2 frozen water bottles, a plain GU and some pretzle chips. I also ate a more formidable breakfast than the week before. Captain Crunch and a hard boiled egg. Enough with the Captain Crunch ... it's garbage ... I know but I still couldn't face the oatmeal.

At Circle K I picked up some red Gatorade and the magic orange peanut butter crackers. I felt like I was cheating on my son who has a severe nut allergy but they are delicious.

We headed out and I tried to make sure I was at the front of the pack (but not the very front because I was tired) and when we stopped at the light to cross US-1 we met up with another pack of riders with a lot of familiar faces. We crossed US-1 and hit a headwind. Also, part of our pack hit the turbo button. We were riding 21mph into the headwind and after a short bit I could not keep up. My legs were out of gas. Completely out of gas.

I gave it all I had and noticed that my friends Chris and Melissa were ahead of me but not in the pack. I thought that they were going slower so that I wasn't alone but it turns out they couldn't keep up either.

Just past Homestead Speedway a big guy went by me just a tad faster than me. I knew that if I let him go I'd be struggling the whole way home so I put my mental tractor beam on his wheel and followed him for a while. He was a bigger guy and perfect for be to draft behind. We picked up Melissa and Chris and together we took turns pulling the whole way back. Every time we headed East we hit that same crazy head wind and it was insanely hard. If one of the guys was in front we could hold 18mph but if it was Melissa or me it was maybe 17 ... okay for me 16 :-) We picked up some other riders who were dropped on the way back so I felt less like a wimp. Actually, even though I was clearly dropped I was very proud of myself for the ride. Average speed was over 17mph which I felt was pretty great.

I never caught that guys name but I would really like to say thank you for helping me home. I did tell him thank you when we stopped at a light so he's probably not out there thinking I'm some rude chick who just let him do all the work ... I hope.

Afterwards I had a gigantic iced coffee with Hammerheads at Einstein where Chiara was trying to brainwash us all into signing up for the Florida Ironman race next year. She was not successful but she is determined :-)

So that's the week in review.

Looking ahead
This week has 41 run miles on the log. Nope that's not a typo 41 miles. That includes mile repeats on a track which means I really do have to find a track that's open to the public. It also includes a long run of 18 miles. That's going to be an early morning. Scheduling will be a challenge this week. I'm not planning to cycle on Sunday.

I have some shopping to do this week. I'm out of Gu. Also my garmin heart rate monitor is not working it's displaying things like 50 when I'm running up the bridge. That's not right. I've tried to change the batteries but I was unsuccessful. I'm going to take it into Footworks and see if they can help. Also, I need a new bike helmet. I get a scab from something in the front and it makes me look like I have skin cancer. Lastly, new socks are needed.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Marathon Monday - 9 weeks and counting

This post is brought to you by Ninja Fruit. It's a game - a silly, mind-numbing game that my kids are rotting out to in the kitchen. But you know what's even more boring? Watching kids play Ninja Fruit. That's what I was doing before I started to write this post.

Today I feel that I have earned my rest day. I logged 38 miles this week in running which is a lot. It may be the most I've logged in a long time. Unfortunately my record keeping it too spontaneous to be sure. This topped out with a 16 mile long run. Then for recovery from that I biked 54 miles yesterday. I am happy to be resting today.
The new coffee maker is working perfectly. It's carafe free so we can't break that part :-) When I say we I do mean my ever graceful husband.

Reflections on the Long Run
I am one of those marathoners who believe that the heart of marathon training is in the long run and total mileage run. Not everyone believes that but I do. I also personally believe that speed comes not from the long run but from speed specific activities on shorter runs. Let it be said I'm not setting any speed records.

The perfect ratio of red Gatorade to water 3:1

However, I actually think my long run this week was too slow. The idea of the long run is to build your endurance threshold so it's the duration of the long run that's really helping however if you go too slow I wonder if it's really doing this.

And here's the conundrum.  It's a delicate balance of slow and uninjured versus quicker and perhaps hurt. Arrgh - no way to be sure.

The Napover
The distances this weekend were too long to not have an afternoon nap. Saturday I napped during Spongebob with my youngest son. He was adorable he set up pillows for my head and feet on the couch before we started. Sunday, I collapsed apparently practically mid-sentence with my husband. When I awoke I felt a little groggy and confused for the remainder of the day. I have come up with the word napover for the feeling. Like a hangover just from a nap.
Napover (n): The feeling of fogginess that persists after a nap that just wasn't quite long enough.
gratuitous picture of a little injured bird that hung out on our porch this week. Eventually Jack scared him into flight.

Counting Down
9 weeks is in the single digits of weeks but still a long way to go. It feels like it's right around the corner and yet still very far away. Preventing injury is still a major concern especially since the mileage is getting so high. My plan is to keep plugging away - taking care of my nutrition, trying to avoid the flu, doing some sit-ups to increase core strength and I'm going to try to get back in the pool.

Looking forward
This week is actually a recovery week. So only 32 miles on the plan. But in that is another mile time trial. For fun I am actually going to try to do this on a track. Should be roughly the same but no intersections and stuff to worry about.  Every week on my plan is a hill workout. We don't have many hills here so I run the bridge which is really hill repeats (up, down, turnaround, up, down, turnaround). Funny because this week the schedule calls for hill repeats. No change for me there.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

27 plus 27 equals 54

Someone once told me, " self praise is no praise at all." That may be true but none-the-less I road my bike 54 miles today. 27 miles to Bayfront Park and then turned around and came back and I am proud of myself. I will say I wasn't fully prepared for a ride that long. Next time I 'll take a salty snack. Somebody shared crackers just after the halfway point and they were the most delicious crackers evah :-) Also a more formidable breakfast would have come in handy. But I finished and I feel good. I mean I'm sitting down with my feet up in the air conditioning with a cup of coffee - what could be better. Oh wait - lunch. See ya!

Friday, September 2, 2011

twas the night before the long run

and all through the house
Amy was getting ready for the long run
... screw the mouse.

Hee hee. That little limerickyness reminds me of my dad who would say silly stuff like that.

Really, Friday nights are funny in my house. I have a routine and pretty much nothing gets in the way of the routine.

  • Pasta for dinner. Maybe with meat sauce but nothing fancy.
  • Fill up the water cooler and take it to the not so secret spot.
  • Make hard boiled eggs
  • Set the coffee for the morning put the cup next to the coffee pot. Leave nothing to chance when it comes to the morning coffee.
  • Pre-make the oatmeal for breakfast
  • Fill up the water bottles for the belt
  • Put the Gu's in the belt.
  • Charge the phone and put it in a ziplock bag.
  • Pick out the outfit and set it all on the floor of the closet
  • Check that the watch is charged.
  • Get all the extra accessories (heart rate monitor strap, road id, watch and sweat band for watch) ready and put them on the counter in the bathroom.
  • Set the alarm. Check the alarm 34 times.
  • Put a towel and a dry shirt under the hydration belt in the kitchen.
  • Try to get some sleep.
 And now it's time for bed. 16 big ones tomorrow. Most likely in the rain. Thank you Katia and Lee :-(