Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Last "Long" Run {a late post... kinda... but a timely update}

There is something about completing your 20 miler long runs that make you feel a slightly bit more confident about marathon training. Granted, I did my last 20 miler last weekend (and somehow my legs are still sore), but I still feel great about it... mainly because it was my fastest 20 mile training run ever!

The training run distance and pace translated into a pretty decent estimation of my upcoming marathon finish time...

This past week I've been nursing my tired legs through short distance mid-week runs (and my run this morning)...

And I even managed to earn a "highly improving" badge from Garmin on Thursday...

I run again tomorrow (for my last double digit mileage run of this training cycle) and next week I'll continue with my moderate mileage + decent intensity plan. After next week it will be RACE WEEK! 

I'm grateful for this training cycle. It has brought back the joy of running that I've missed for some most of the past two marathon training cycles. The Pittsburgh Marathon may not bring me a PR (p.s. you should always check the course elevation and difficulty level before you set a PR goal at the beginning of training); but it will be an amazing event and I'm determined to enjoy every aspect of my racecation!

Do you have any racecations coming up?

What big event are you training for right now?

Have you ever been to Pittsburgh? What restaurants would you recommend? 

Sunday, April 1, 2018

The 1st Quarter Recap...

So much has happened so far in 2018! You probably could have guessed that based on my relatively scant blog posts for the past 3 months. It's not that I haven't wanted to blog, it's just that time has been so limited recently with lots of competing priorities. Anyway, it's the end of the first quarter so this is the perfect time to recap the last few months!

January started off with a big bang work-wise. I got a promotion (yay!) and took on a lot more work related duties. Running-wise I did 3 races (the Key West virtual half marathon, the Tropical 5K, and the Miami half marathon) and I started noticing the downward trend in my overall running pace (sigh). I did make it to my first "100 miles in a month" milestone though so that's something right?

February kept the same work momentum because we started off the month with one of our major events for the Trauma Program at the hospital where I work. The event actually started in January and continued through to Feb 2nd. I also travelled back home to spend some time with family and friends. February had 2 races, another virtual half and the A1A Ft. Lauderdale half, but I didn't make my 100 miles milestone for February (I only got to 75 miles). I'm blaming that on the fact that it was a shorter month (but the truth is I skipped a few runs).

March was a major travel month. The first trip was to Seattle and Portland for part vacation/part work. Seattle was the vacation segment with Marc... we went to visit some of his friends from college. Then we went down to Portland where I presented at the STN's Trauma Conference (it was amazing!). And, in case that wasn't enough travel, I went to Carmel, Indiana with my friend Niqui from work and we completed the Carmel Marathon Relay. I also ran the Miami Beach 1/2 at the beginning of the month, so I ended up with a total of 115 miles for March :)

So now that the first quarter of the year is over (so fast right?!), it's time to look forward to some of the major life stuff happening in quarter two:
1. Some big birthdays are happening - Kai; San & Me; Marc; my Mom)
2. The Pittsburgh Marathon will kick off month 2 of quarter 2!
3. College tours with Kai will be taking place throughout June!

Any major/exciting things happened so far this year?

What are you looking forward to in quarter 2?

When is your birthday? Do you do a big birthday celebration?

Sunday, March 11, 2018

My Current Status and Race Predictions...

I'm 56 days away from the PGH Marathon and this is my current status at the "less than two months to go" mark:
⃢ I have completed 3 moderately long LRs (16 miles x 2; 15 miles x1)
⃢ I have 3 longer LRs left (18 miles x1; 20 miles x1; 22 miles x1)
⃢ I have 2 more races prior to the PGH Marathon weekend (Sunrise 1/2; Carmel Marathon relay)
⃢ I have 1 major trip that will somewhat interrupt my training cycle (FLL>>SEA>>PDX>>FLL)
⃢ I have 0 doubts in my ability to complete the PGH Marathon (based on how training has been going)
⃢ I have 1 tiny concern about getting a sub-5:30:00 finish (since I haven't been doing a lot of hill work)
⃢ I have 2 "back-up" race goals just in case (beat my Chicago marathon time; or get a sub-5:45:00 finish)
⃢ I have 3 minor things to finalize before my PGH trip (but the major stuff (flight & hotel) are taken care of)
⃢ I have 3 major work things to complete before I can start tackling those minor things

So about my race goals - I've been planning for a sub-5:30:00 finish time, which will not only be a PR for me but also a major accomplishment after the disasters of the NYC & Berlin marathons. For NY I was under-trained and for Berlin I got injured during the race. Not fun. Both those races had finish times of 6+hours and I'm not in the mood (or emotional frame of mind) to deal with that again. Not when my goal (for both) was 5:30:00 (I've been chasing that goal for a while). Anyway, choosing Pittsburgh to PR in may not have been the wisest idea (being from Florida with no hills and considering the entire second half of the race (pretty much) is nothing but hills...

I've invested a lot of time in my training plan for Pittsburgh; making edits and tweaking things as training has progressed; taking rest days when I feel myself approaching the "over training danger zone"; and adjusting for life (a lot) to accommodate competing priorities; and creating as much work:life:marathon training balance as I possibly can. So in keeping with my investment of time, and my desire to remain realistic about what my body can do, I decided to look at a couple of race predictors to see if I'm still on track for a 5:30:00 finish time.

Tool #1 from RunningAHEAD

(ok, not bad... especially since the 16 & 10 milers were my last two LRs)


Tool #2 from Chicago Endurance Sports

(so right under the goal time, but still... not bad)


Tool #3 from Runner's World
(RW asked for different info (13.1 miles & 10 miles) & had a significantly different estimation)

I'm not a big fan of the Runner's World prediction (as you can imagine) since it's worse than my time for the NY Marathon (during which I walked all the bridges... and then some) and Berlin (where I got injured at mile 21 and walked most of the remaining 5 miles). But, it also used different statistics for it's calculation so maybe, just maybe, I still have time to improve the prediction before race day. Plus, the distances and times I used for all these predictors weren't exactly race times, but rather my LR times over the past two weeks; and according to Hal's tweet...

Worst case scenario, if my Plan A, B, and C goals fall through, I will still attempt to finish under 6 hours (which will be a big improvement over both NY and Berlin).

All-in-all I refuse to let negative finish time predictions dampen my excitement about this trip (and this race). A lot of things will be different about this event, including my official blogger status...

I'm looking forward to meeting all the other amazing bloggers and organizers in person when I go, and (hopefully) getting to spend more time at the Expo fully exploring everything it has to offer (I've been rushing through every race expo so far this year). 

I also got my "I'm In!" yard sign recently so I've had that up on display...
Less than 2 months to go!!!

Have you ever used a race predictor when training for a race?

How often do you modify your training plan (during your training cycle)

Have you ever been to Pittsburgh? I need some restaurant recommendations please :)

Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Long Weekend...

Last weekend (yes the one that just ended yesterday) I took an unscheduled weekend off from training and went home. The trip itself wasn't unscheduled. It had been in the works for a while as a belated Valentines Day celebration trip. But the break from Pittsburgh Marathon training (and not doing a long run last weekend) definitely wasn't planned, but it was well needed...

The truth is my body is tired and I'm tinkering dangerously close to pushing myself into "overuse injury territory". I've been there before. In fact I've been there so often that I recognize the signals long before I reach that dreaded destination. But now that I'm approaching year 5 as a runner I'm wise enough to force myself to stop before I get too close. The wisdom doesn't erase the frustration and disappointment I feel though. And despite knowing that not pushing the limit was the right thing to do, I still feel sad that I'm not getting the mileage completed.

I've never had an uneventful marathon training cycle; probably because running doesn't really come naturally for me. I mean, I wasn't the last one picked for races/relays in school, being picked second to last wasn't much better. So when I started running in 2013 I knew it was going to be an uphill battle. This year, and this training season has been no exception...

This training cycle I've been feeling exhausted... all the time. Despite getting a full nights sleep I still don't wake up feeling rested. And, to add "injury to insult" (so to speak) I'm having shin splints and other areas of concern that are more tender/sore than normal. Some of my usual fixes haven't been implemented yet, i.e. I haven't focused on cross training and strength training as much as I should; I foam roll about as frequently as I'm able to achieve a sub-11 minute per mile pace (in other words, rarely); and every day I set ambitious hydration and nutrition goals only to be undermined by my sweet tooth (and salty tooth... and "any kind of red wine" tooth).

In isolation (and moderation) any of those things probably aren't horrible per se... but the combination is certainly not ideal. And unfortunately they have all been the background tapestry of my marathon training. I have just about two months to go before Pittsburgh so I still have time and (fortunately) I haven't veered completely off course, but I'm definitely not as far along as I would like to be. So the time to auto correct is right now; and after my long weekend off I'm refocused and re-energized...

The next two weeks will have 4 days of running each week, followed by three weeks of 3 days of running per week. Then in April I go back to 4 days of running and before I know it Race Week will be here! My swimming will also pick up steam (in terms of frequency but not necessarily intensity). I'm capping my swimming workouts at 60 minutes (with a minimum duration of 30 minutes). I decided to focus on duration for cross training because I want to ensure it's adding to my overall fitness without making me too exhausted to complete my runs. And I'm definitely keeping my commitment to have a solid rest (and sleep in) day.

So the countdown is on... 2 months to go (just about), which means I have 4 really long runs, 4 moderately long runs, and my taper runs left. I've got this!

You still have time to sign up and join me in Pittsburgh in May! Register (via the link below) and use my discount code (YOUNGDSGPM18) for any of the race distances!

What do you do when your training isn't going according to plan?

Do you find it hard to stay motivated and focused during long training cycles?

How many running vs. cross training days do you complete each week?

Saturday, January 20, 2018

DNF...

At some point in our running careers most of us have had a DNF ("did not finish") for a run. Usually the acronym is reserved for not finishing a race, but for me I use it when I don't finish my designated mileage for my training runs as well. I've (fortunately) never had to DNF a race, but training runs... that's a completely different story.

Today was one of those DNF training run days. My legs felt like lead from the very beginning; and between not getting enough sleep last night and being mentally exhausted from a very long, equally frustrating work week, I just could not push myself to do more than 6 (of the planned 10) miles.

I've been trying different strategies to work on mental preparation for my runs and my races because 9 times out of 10 the problem is less of a physical limitation and more of a "I'm not confident that I can do this" limitation. Mental training is hard. Especially since I'm not one of those overly confident individuals to begin with. And when it comes to running I doubt myself a lot.

This morning there was an "awkward yeti" type battle between my various organ systems...
Brain: Can I get through 10 miles?
Legs: I'm tired
Heart: I want to go back to bed
Stomach: I'm hungry
Brain: Well...
Legs: I'm still tired
Heart: I'm really sleepy
Nose: *sniff*
Stomach: Is that fresh baked bread?
Nose: *sniff sniff*
Stomach: *grumbles*
Brain: Well...
Heart: If I was sleeping right now I would be so happy
Brain: Fiiine
Legs: No I think I can
Brain: Too late I'm done. Let's stop at 6 miles
All: YAY!!!!!!

So I stopped at 6 miles. I was running with Mimi who continued on to complete the remaining 4 miles (after we took a quick post-run pic)...

Considering I did a (virtual) half marathon last weekend and I have the Tropical 5K and Miami Half Marathon next weekend, I'm not upset that upset about my DNF training run today. I may do a few miles if others from my running group want to hit the road tomorrow morning. If not, I might just sleep, or swim, or sleep, or do some weight training, or sleep.

This week (so far) I've done two 4 milers and two 6 milers. The distance sets were almost identical...

I'm trying to focus on incremental measurable goals for each week so that I can track my improvement (and not get thrown off by any one run). This week, for example, the group increased our run:walk intervals to 90s:30s and my personal goal was to maintain a sub-12 mins/mile average pace for all my runs (mission accomplished). Next week the running duration won't increase, but the new pace goal will be sub-11:45mins/mile. Each week will have a new goal and I will continue to set new weekly goals once I have accomplished the goal of the current week.

I'm doing the same for cross training. My goal was to swim twice this week for a minimum of 30 minutes each session. I only got through one 30 min session (on Monday) so next week I will aim for the same 2 swim session goal 💪.

What are your plans for this weekend?

Any races planned for the rest of January?

Did you accomplish all your training goals this week?

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Key West Virtual Half {"race" recap}

To kick off 2018's running calendar I decided to sign up for the Key West virtual Half Marathon...
Normally I wouldn't register for a race before the Miami Half Marathon race weekend (which is usually the weekend that starts my running calendar); but once I saw the medal I really had no choice but to register...
(The. Lighthouse. Lights. Up!)

I'm a real sucker for cool race medals. I won't even pretend to deny it. The first thing I think about when I'm considering registering for a race is "what does the medal look like?" Well actually, the first thing is probably do I get a medal? and then I determine if it's pretty enough to justify the race entry fee :)

Anyway, since my heart felt obligated to run for the lighthouse, I signed up for the virtual option and ran it this morning...

I ran with Jani for the first 6+ miles and then Mimi and I ran the last 7+ miles. During the first 6 Jani and I encountered a guy who was wearing less than ideal clothing for the 50 degree weather we were having and utilizing the sidewalk as his personal urinal. Not cool. We ran on the road to avoid having to run by him on the sidewalk (especially since he also appeared drunk/high on something). We also dealt with a pretty strong headwind for the first 3 miles, but other than that the first half of my virtual half was great.

When Jani and I got back to our cars, Mimi and I headed out for the second half of my half. We decided to add a change to our normal running route and included a highway overpass as part of an out and back section. Garmin claims that I started at high elevation for this run but I can guarantee you the route was pretty flat apart from those last two "hills" when we ran over the overpass and back...

Fortunately Mimi and I didn't encounter any unsavory characters on our route and we finished faster than I anticipated with a negative split (i.e. second half of the race was faster than the first half)...

Now I just have to patiently wait for my lighthouse medal to come in the mail! And start getting ready for the Tropical 5K and Miami Half Marathon coming up in two weeks!!!

Do you run virtual races?

What was your favorite virtual race (and why?)

What's your biggest motivator for registering for a race?

Saturday, January 13, 2018

This Is The Year...

I'm declaring my marathon PR from now. I'm not going to let my own self-doubts (that are sure to creep up) stop me. I'm not going to let the (ridiculous) negative comments from people stop me. And I'm not going to let the fact that the pace I need for my PR goal (which I have not seen/sustained for a while) stop me. This is the year of my marathon PR. One of many probably hopefully.
2015 was a good (albeit injury filled year) for running, and 2017 showed good promise for the shorter distances...
But 2018? Well this year is the year that surpasses all other years. This is the year of PRs! The year of my running goals. The year that I take back the passion and dedication that I allowed to get lost in the abyss of doubts, demands, and declining commitment. 

It's going to be a GREAT year. I can just feel it!

What are you looking forward to this year?

Do you have any specific goals for your running/training?

Do you love The Awkward Yeti comics as much as I do?

Friday, January 12, 2018

A Match Made In Training Heaven...

You know what's better than running? Well, nothing. But you know what's almost as great as running? Cross training! And I'm not just talking about the dynamic stretching that most of us runners do say we do before our runs. I mean an actual cross training activity that's fun, non-impact (or minimal impact), and one that helps strengthen all those under-used non-running muscles.


My go-to cross training activity is swimming. When I do it consistently I really feel an improvement in my endurance level. But, to be honest, it's also the activity that I opt out of a lot. When I feel like my body needs rest I'm more likely to skip a cross training day than I am to miss out on a run...

I'm even worse with body weight strength training and CrossFit type activities cause let's face it... squats suck, burpees will kill you, and no box is low enough for me to jump on it without immediately falling off.

The problem with being inconsistent with cross training (mainly because I'm not good at it) is that I will NEVER be good at it without being consistent. I really have no excuse because consistent cross training with steady improvement will help me run better and stronger. And when I’ve stuck with it during my marathon training I’ve noticed those exact results.

Over the past few years and training cycles I've complied a list of my top 7 cross training tips that (when I actually follow them) have proved to be beneficial. My goal is to follow them as I train for the Pittsburgh Marathon on May 6th because I have some serious PR goals for that race...

Hopefully some of these tips will help you when training for your next big event!

1. Choose a cross training activity that you LIKE to do
Nothing is worse than dreading your workout. And, if you choose a cross training activity that you hate, you're less likely to do it (and certainly less likely to do it well). Try and incorporate a form of cross training that you like to do! Make it a "break from running" that will ultimately help improve your running.

2. Cross training should supplement (not impede) your running
If your cross training activities are too intense then you essentially won't give your body enough time to rest and recover. With marathon training "time on your feet" matters a lot. However, if your muscles are sore from your running miles AND sore from all the minutes you spend cross training, then eventually you'll be too sore to do anything at all! Cross training should complement your marathon training, not detract from it.

3. Schedule cross training with the same commitment that you give your training runs
It's easy to give in to the temptation to skip a cross training day. Try not to. Make it an essential part of your overall marathon training plan and tackle it with the same commitment that you do your runs. Of course, if your body needs rest or you're injured then take the time off you need. But don't skip cross training just for the sake of doing so. It's important so treat it as such.

4. Join forces with a friend for extra motivation
You know how those miles fly by when you're running with a friend? Well cross training can be even more enjoyable when you're working out with a friend. Use the opportunity to motivate each other while simultaneously supporting each other. Whether it's one more rep or one more lap in the pool, help each other get it done!

5. Avoid impact activities that don't allow your legs to rest
Running works specific leg muscles and they need rest. Doing high (and even moderate) impact activities can inhibit your ideal "leg rest" period. Try to incorporate cross training activities that work different muscles and are less taxing on your legs. It's especially important to work on strengthening your core and upper body (as those areas tend to be neglected when marathon training).

6. Track your progress just like you track your miles
Who doesn't like setting a goal and accomplishing it right? Cross training goals are important. Start off by determining your baseline (e.g. How many pool laps can you swim without stopping? What weight can you lift for strength training? etc.) and aim for steady incremental improvements. Do you max out at 20 squats? Aim for 25 the next time. Can you swim up to 800 meters? Aim for 1000 the next time. Focus on gradual improvement and celebrate those accomplishments!

7. Don't forget the goal is to become a stronger runner!
At the end of the day when you’re training for a marathon your goals should be to finish strong and injury-free. And, for many of us, we also want to finish as fast as we can while ensuring those first two goals are accomplished. Cross training should always focus on those end goals. It should be fun and, just as importantly, it should be beneficial.

Since we are at the official start of training for the Pittsburgh Marathon (did you guys do the kick off training run last Sunday?) now is the best time to figure out what cross training activity (or even a couple of activities) you're going to do to get ready for the big day! And if you still haven’t registered yet, use my discount code: YOUNGDSGPM18 for $10 off your registration fee (you can register HERE).

I look forward to seeing you on the course!

What’s your favorite cross training activity?

How many cross training days do you schedule in your half/full marathon training plan?

True/False: Squats are worse than Burpees (my answer – TRUE!)

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Off To A Great Start...

2018 is off to a great start so far (training-wise). Which is good since I spent most of the Christmas/New Years holiday period not training. Instead I focused on spending time with family and friends and trying not to stress about the amount of calories I was consuming. 

But when 2018 rolled around (and I woke up from my nap after ringing in the new year,) Sanya (my twin sister) and I headed out for a walk. Not just a simple walk though, a 1 mile uphill I-can-barely-breathe-while-doing-this walk...
(One day I'm going to try and run that entire mile uphill)

I came home later that day and didn't do anything related to training until the 5th, which essentially was my first run of 2018. Fortunately it didn't suck as much as I thought it would considering I hadn't run since December 21st! What made it even greater was the fact that we had more people doing the group run...

And then this morning I kicked off Pittsburgh Marathon training with a 10 mile group run!

Today marked the official start of the Pittsburgh Marathon training cycle and while runners headed out on a "kick off" run in Pittsburgh, I ran "virtually" with my running group...

I'm trying to get more people to run Pittsburgh with me! And as an official blogger for the race I have a discount code so you can get $10 off the race registration (for any distance: full, half or relay). The discount code is: YOUNGDSGPM18 and this is the link to register. It's the 10th year anniversary of the marathon so you know it's going to be an incredible event!

While most of the group braved the South Florida cold weather close to home, we cheered on our missing running teammate Mimi who completed an absolutely incredible Disney Marathon today to close out an even more amazing 2018 Dopey Challenge! 
(so proud of you Mimi!!!)

I'm really excited about this year and all my 2018 goals. I decided several weeks ago to try journaling this year. But instead of writing a mini dissertation about my thoughts and feelings (after all that's what my blog is for right?) I decided to incorporate a daily note of gratitude and a variety of different little things in my Commit30 planner....

I got the planner as a "pixie" Christmas present from my younger sister. My siblings and I do a pixie gift exchange (we started a couple of years ago) and it has become something I look forward to each year. 2017 was even better since we decided to post our "wish list" which made the gift buying process a whole lot easier. A planner or bullet journal was on my list and fortunately my "pixie" listened ;)

I also got a 2018 running log from my parents which is perfect for tracking my training specific activities!

I have a lot of goals for this year. A marathon PR is one of them (an important one), but so is:
1. Improving my running pace;
2. Swimming 1 mile (freestyle only... right now I can do breaststroke without a problem but freestyle kills me); and
3. Running 1000 miles (which I'm visually tracking in my planner as well)...

What are your 2018 goals?

Any major races on the calendar for this year?

Have you ever journaled?