#100HappyDays – Days 36 – 42

Day 36: I found a Butter Lamb! It’s a small Easter tradition, but one I always found amusing. As I’ve come up with my own Easter traditions, I’ve missed having a butter lamb. When Wegmans’ popped up in Massachusetts and I found Loganberry and Sponge Candy, I hoped a butter lamb would also make an appearance. I didn’t find one last year, but I checked again anyways, and this time – success!

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A fancy butter lamb.

Day 37: Easter Morning. A long run followed by chocolate chip brownie waffles. I like our Easter traditions.

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Day 38: Meb winning Boston So awesome! Meb is amazing. All the people who ran Boston were pretty amazing (except the stinkers who crashed the party and banditted or stole/faked bibs – they are not amazing, they are losers). Some of my other favorites were: Shalane, Joanie, and Dick + Rick Hoyt.

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Day 39: Tea I totally forgot to post to twitter on day 39, yikes. There was happiness on Day 39, I just forgot to photograph it. I resurrected the teapot (I technically only had to move the teapot one foot, but it really made all the difference) and enjoyed some tea. Now that the teapot is in it’s new spot, I’ve been having tea every day.

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Day 40: Muppet Friends I’ve been to New York City three times in my life. The last two of the times, I made some terrific friends. (Emphasis on MADE). FAO Schwarz has something called the Muppet Whatnot Workshop. It’s like build a bear for Muppets. Mupbert and Princess Mupette are now valued members of our family.

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“Is this how you take a selfie?” ~Princess Muppette

Day 41: To Do list success Who doesn’t love checking something off a to do list? Ever put those easy ones on there (like take a shower) or ones you’ve already finished just so you can check them off? If the answer is yes, then you probably understand.

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I didn’t always make my own check boxes on my to do lists. I know how it seems; don’t knock it until you try it.

Day 42: Vegetarian Hot Dog I am not fancy, I love a good hot dog. Since giving up meat 6 years ago that has been something I’ve missed.  Most vegetarian hot dogs are not good, but this one was fantastic. Field Roast should be getting my love letter any day now.

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It fits the whole bun, too!

I’m sometimes forgetting to post these on twitter. My bad!

 

 

 

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Race Week – Race Goals

I’m all ready for the race tomorrow and have my game plan all figured out, so let’s talk a little about my goals for race day. One of the reasons I’ve been obsessing over this race so much (and writing about it non-stop) is because I have a time goal.

A lot of times I sign up for a distance race simply because it makes me stick to a set training plan, and the race ends up feeling like the the grand finale to the training, a kind of celebration for making it through all the hard work. I usually have time goals in mind for these races, and will try to PR if I’ve been running well through training. This time is different though, I have trained with a specific time goal in mind, and that has made the race feel more like a test than a party. (Note: This isn’t a bad thing. I like tests.)

The time goal isn’t the only goal I have, though. Turns out I have five goals for race day:

 1. Time Goals (I’ve given myself back-up times so that I don’t just throw in the towel and walk to the finish line if my A goal becomes impossible.)

A. The BIG ONE: 1:59:59 (or less)
B. At or under 2:05:00*
C. At or under 2:10:00**

2. Run negative splits/Follow my race plan – If I follow my pace wish list, this should happen.

3. Run a strong race – meaning don’t give up if I realize I will not break 2 hours, keep running hard and doing my best.

4. Have Fun and Smile Even if I don’t finish under 2 hours.

5. Do not slow down or make a mess while eating energy gel.  

*My current half marathon PR is 2 hours and 55 seconds. If I can’t run under 2 hours, it’s also pretty likely that I will not be able to PR. My B goal is to finish under 2:05; I have only done this once (the PR).

** If I’m not making my goal, and 2:05 also slips away, I’ll shoot for under 2:10. I have done this one other time (my PR). If I can run at least as fast as my last 13 mile training run, I should be able to do this.

So, there you have it folks. I don’t think I’m being overly ambitious. (Except maybe the negative splits).

There are a few other things I’m hoping will happen but I don’t have control over:

* I get a race shirt that fits. I get serious rage when they do not have something that fits me

* It won’t rain. Weather is 40F and 40% chance of rain. Lame. Also something like 9 or 10 mph winds (is that a lot of wind? I hope not…sounds cold.)

* I don’t drop and shatter my race pint glass. We’re getting glasses, not medals. I’m going to be sweaty (well, maybe) and exhausted and trying to load up on bananas and water and pizza. I hope I don’t drop the glass.

* My support crew isn’t miserable –  doesn’t get too cold or bored or otherwise uncomfortable or annoyed.

* Meb Keflezighi, Joan Samuelson, and Shalane Flanagan show up to pace me. (Shalane for the first 1/3, then Joan joins us for the second 1/3, and then Meb hops on board for the finish.)

Not too much to ask. 🙂

 

 

 

 

The Friday 5 – 6th Edition

I hope you’re having a lovely Friday! I’ve had a productive week, and I’m getting a lot done today, too. I’m still looking forward to the weekend, though (specifically because of number 1 in the list below):

1. I have a race this weekend! Have I mentioned that yet? Wait, I think I might have. I’m pretty excited about it. I haven’t done a goal race since October, and no races at all since January 1st. Training has been awesome. What will I train for next? Think I’ll break 2 hours? Let’s Race!

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Last race I ran. I won’t have to be quite so bundled up this weekend!

2. Friday is chocolate banana oatmeal day As if Friday wasn’t good enough already, we save the most delicious oatmeal for Friday mornings. It is so good. 

3. I think I may break out the Juicer next week We’ve had a juicer for 4 years, but have made juice only 3 or 4 times. It makes really delicious juice, but it is A LOT of work and cleaning it sucks. Now that I have some more free time on my hands, I think I might break out that bad boy. Know any good juice recipes? My current plan is to buy whatever fruit is on sale at the grocery store tonight.

4. I loved the Holiday Running Streak I had never done a running streak (on purpose or accidental) before this one; I’m very into rest days. Before the streak started, I didn’t really think too much about it, and I wasn’t very invested in keeping it going, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. I believe Runner’s World also “sponsers” a Summer Running streak. I’ll have to look into that.

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Day 1 of the running streak was a Turkey Trot.

5. My Fitbit is broken Last Friday the tracker went bonkers and started blinking like crazy, and won’t do anything else. I submitted a claim right away and got a response a few hours later (good job, Fitbit). Unfortunately, they told me that it’s broken. They asked for some info, which I sent the next day, but I have heard nothing since then. I sent them another email on Wednesday asking what is happening, but haven’t gotten a response. I’m annoyed. 

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Butter Lamb 2014 is photo bombing my post! She’s so mischievous. 

Enjoy the weekend! Good luck at any races you might be participating in!

Race Week – Being Prepared

I was (obviously) never a boy scout, nor do I have any special connection to them, but their Always Be Prepared motto is one I can get behind 100%. It is rare that I voluntarily get into a situation for which I am unprepared; this goes for regular life as well as running. I tend to go over every possible scenario in order to prepare myself for the worst case, and when travelling I have an extremely difficult time packing because I want to bring everything.

Now that I am only two full days away from running my goal half marathon, I want to make sure I am prepared. While I’m not super confident I will be able to get the finish time I want; I feel like I have prepared well. When I look back on my training, I know I put in all the hard work my training plan called for, and I’m not having any “well, what if I did….” thoughts. I did my speed work, my long runs, and I ran hilly routes as often as possible (including using the treadmill hill programs). Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I know I will be able to run a strong race.  Hopefully, a strong race will mean sub-2 hours.

The Will to

One of my favorite running quotes.

In addition to the running, I’ve tried to prepare mentally by coming up with some sort of race strategy. I babbled about my indecision yesterday, but after days of pondering, I think I’ve come up with something that will work:

* I have a list of paces I would like to hit. Let’s call this my wish list. For the majority of the race, I’d like to run 9 min/mile. I will start slower, and work my way down to that pace over the course of the first 3 miles. Then once I hit 10 miles, I will attempt (the impossible?) to pick up the pace. My last mile will (unrealistically?) need to be my fastest.

* I am going to run by effort. My watch is set to show distance only on the first screen. I will check in after each mile to see how my pace matches up with my “wish list” pace. Based on this comparison and how I feel, I will adjust my effort. This should allow me to adjust my pace naturally when running each mile instead of being a slave to the watch.

* I am going to eat two gels during the race. I will have the first gel at mile 5 (cherry chocolate w/ lots of caffeine) and the second at mile 10 (salted caramel w/ reasonable amount of caffeine). I am terrible at eating the gel while moving. I slow down a lot, and in my last long run had to stop and use my shirt to wipe gel off my face and hands. My plan is to eat them slowly (over a 1/2 mile maybe) in order to not mess up my rhythm (or clothing).

* I am going to carry my own water. I’ve been running with my camelback, so it’s not really an adjustment. It’s nice to run without anything and I don’t think I need to have water between the water stops, but given my gel eating issues, I’d like to have access to water whenever I want it. Plus it is always kind of fun to just zip by a water stop while everyone else is attempting to grab cups and get some water in their mouths instead of just down their shirts.

* I am going to bring my iPod shuffle. I might not turn it on, and will only put it in one ear (the course is open to traffic), but I might want some music in those last few (fast) miles.

Aside from the mental game, there are a few other small details that need to get worked out before a big race. And, I think I’ve got those covered, too:

  1. What to wear: Shorts, Knee-high Socks, Shirt (exact socks and shirt TBD based on weather)
  2. What to eat for breakfast: White bread toast w/ strawberry preserves and a banana
  3. What to have for dinner the night before: Some kind of pasta w/ a bit of sauce and some bread.
  4. What time I want to get to the race: At the start of packet pick-up – or whenever Jeff says is good.

I haven’t actually laid out my clothes or bought the food above, but I’ve made all the decisions, and that’s the hardest part. I guess I’m pretty much ready to go. I’ve even painted my toenails Lickety-split Lime – I think it sounds fast!

I’ve read every email they’ve sent, I’ve read the athlete guide twice, and every word on the race website (even race director bios). I’ve reviewed the race route and (scary) elevation profile a few times. I know roughly where the big hills appear, but I might check it out a little more. I don’t want any of the hills to surprise me. I want to be prepared to see them when they show their ugly faces. It may not make much sense, but I’m sure I will run up them faster if they aren’t a surprise.

How prepared are you on race day? Have you ever gone into a race unprepared? Do you ever over prepare for anything? Is it even possible to be over prepared? 

Race Week – Obsessing over Strategy

I had a terrific long weekend! Passover Seder on Saturday, Easter on Sunday, and Patriots’ Day & Dyngus Day on Monday. It was a great weekend filled with family and food, and it ended with Meb’s awesome performance at the Boston Marathon! In my opinion, there couldn’t have been a better result for the men’s race. I was literally jumping for joy in my living room when he crossed the finish line.

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This is a picture I took of my television. I still have the entire race recorded. I plan to watch Meb’s last 3 miles before every distance race I ever run for the rest of my life.

I would love to one day qualify for and run the Boston Marathon. The way I see it, there are two things I can do to qualify: First, get faster. Second, get older. With my current marathon PR, I could qualify if I were in the 70-74 age group. (After my first marathon, I would not have been able to qualify at all – I’m making progress!) I just have to keep moving up in age groups while maintaining “speed.” Preferably, I will get faster as I age, and will BQ a decade or two before age 70. Easy enough, right? (Hear that body? Defy age and continue to get faster!)

Anyways, enough talk about my fail proof plan for getting into Boston, I have more pressing things to think about right now…it’s RACE WEEK!

There are 4 full days, and only 2 easy runs until race day; and I’m not obsessing about the race at all. HA. Race day strategy is pretty much the only thing I can think about. I’m having a huge internal debate on whether I should run by effort or shoot for specific paces every mile (obsessively watching my pace). On the one hand, the former sounds much more enjoyable and I’ve done well running by effort in the past. On the other hand, I’ve never run by effort with a time goal before, and how can I be sure I’m running fast enough if I’m not checking the watch…obsessively?

This weekend I spent a few hours playing around with paces in a spreadsheet. Turns out that there is no way to run slower than goal pace and still make my goal. Odd. I wish that goal pace didn’t sound so fast. In the end, the spreadsheet just proved what I already know – I need to minimize my number of “slow” miles, and for every slow mile l need to make up for it with a fast one. Good to know, but the fast miles are so scary sounding. Unfortunately, this exercise stressed me out a bit. I was feeling more confident when I wasn’t analyzing exactly how fast I need to run every second of the race. While that’s not a great side effect, it did help me understand the effort that will be required to reach my goal in this race. I will need to be outside of my comfort zone for a good long time.

After spending all that time analyzing paces, I’m still not sure I want to watch my watch so closely, and I’m leaning towards some combination of running by effort and watching the clock. My current (this could change at any minute) plan is to “take it easy” for the first 3 miles and only look at my watch for distance. Then I will start speeding up and settle into a “comfortably hard effort.” Once I get a rhythm going, I will start checking in on my time/pace. I’ll continue in this mode until around mile 10/10.5. From there, “full speed ahead”.

Ideally, these efforts would translate into 9:15 pace for the first 3 miles, followed by 9 min pace for the next 7 miles, and then faster than 9 for the last 5k.

The main thing I worry about in the “run by effort” plan, is that I will run too slowly in the first part of the race and will never be able to make up the time. Logically, I know this is ridiculous. I always have to chant “slow down” and “take it easy” at the beginning of long runs and races in order to ensure that I don’t go out at some insane speed. I have never seen my first mile time in a race and thought “Gee, that’s too slow.” I usually wonder if my watch is broken because it’s clearly showing an impossibly fast time for what feels like an easy effort. I also think that any extra time I take in the early miles will pay off in the late miles. I read something once that said that every single world record race time was achieved with negative splits.

I could debate about this with myself for hours. Actually, I have. I’ve been thinking about this too much, and and sadly I’m probably not done thinking about it yet. At least I’m closer to a decision than I was over the weekend, and I think my hybrid plan might be the right one. I’ll let you know what I decide.

Do you obsess over race strategy? Have you ever run by effort in a time goal race?

 

 

Spring 1/2 Training: Taper Week

It’s been a wonderful holiday weekend, and it’s not over yet! It’s Patriots’ Day, and the elite women take off in just about a half hour! Here’s to a smooth running of the race, and with any luck, an American winner!

This week I’ve been tapering for my race. Two weeks suddenly feels long, but I’m looking forward to having some nice rested legs for the race. This week felt a little boring, I seem to have become hooked on running 5 days a week. Here’s how the week went:

  • Monday:  Rest. Abs, Stretching, Foam Rolling 
  • Tuesday:  4 mile easy run. (9:48/mile)
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What run doesn’t need a cannon?

  • Wednesday: 30 minute Tempo Run (Average 9:15/mile), Abs, Stretching, Foam Rolling
  • Thursday:  Rest…Totally forgot I was even supposed to do Abs.
  • Friday: Easy 3 miles. Stretching and foam rolling. Abs? What abs?
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All purple-y and ready to go!

  • Saturday: Rest day. Considered going for an unscheduled short run, but Jeff reminded me that I’m tapering. It didn’t take much convincing, and I rested like a good little runner. 
  • Sunday: A long run has become an Easter morning tradition. It makes stuffing myself with chocolate chip brownie waffles a little easier. It also felt nice to get moving after overeating at Passover last night.
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Beautiful morning. 

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Another kind of beautiful.

This is how I did on my goals last week:

  1. Long Run: 6 miles Check!
  2. Speed Work – 30 min tempo Check!
  3. Easy Runs: (2) – 3 mile + 4 mile Check!
  4. Strength – 30-day Ab Challenge –Missed some days
  5. Stretch & Foam Roll – 4 times Check!

Turns out I’m pretty good at tapering, and I will continue this week. My plan is to reduce intensity along with the mileage. Goal: Get to the start line feeling like a caged beast! 

Here’s what’s up for this week:

  1. Easy Runs: (3) – 4, 3, 2 miles
  2. Foam Roll – 3 times
  3. Stretch – 5 times
  4. Strength – 3 times
  5. RACE!!!

Have a great week, and enjoy Marathon Monday! And Dyngus Day, if that’s your thing. 🙂

 

#100HappyDays – Days 29 – 35

Oh, hi there! Didn’t I just post one of these a few minutes ago? Why, yes I did! I’m all caught up now. Hurrah!

Day 29: Last Long Run Before Race Day There are a number of happy things about this run. First, that I made it through training, and the race is coming up! Second, that I felt strong and semi-speedy on the run; my goal time is looking like a possibility. And third, it was a beautiful day.

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Day 30: Taco Night. Tacos make Sunday night something to look forward to. They’re so good.

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Day 31: Last Book in the Series The Sookie Stackhouse series has ended, and after years of reading, I’m finding out how it all comes to a close!

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Day 32: A Journey of Games At first, I wanted to cook every recipe in our Whoopie Pie cookbook, but Jeff correctly pointed out that we do not need to eat 30+ Whoopie Pies every week for the next 49 weeks. Instead, we’re going to play every game in our game closet. We also have a fun spreadsheet to evaluate them and keep notes and important information (like number of players).

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Day 33: Crinkle Cut Cucumbers I have a knife that cuts things all crinkly. This is very unnecessary, but fun!

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Day 34: Lunch Adventure with Christine It’s always a good time having lunch with a friend. We went to the “Dear Boston” Marathon Memorial exhibit at the Library after enjoying some fast food mexican at Qdoba. Yum!

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Day 35: Friday night Ben & Jerry’s Although I think it would be terrific to eat an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s every single night, deep down I know that I would probably feel terrible if I did that. Instead, I look forward to getting a special dessert on some most Friday nights, and the infrequency makes it taste even more delicious.

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There you have it, I’ll try to keep it together from now on. 🙂 Happy Easter!