Whenever I feel lost, I can find myself on a run

Per Marathon Training tradition, the Sunday before race day is a 10-mile run on my favorite route ever.  Recaps from 2012, 2011, 2010, and the "rats can swim up toilets run" from 2009.  Today was a fantastic day and a run was exactly what I needed to lift me up.

Prepare for the worst: I read this thing in Runner's World or somewhere, talking about race day strategy.  Basically it said the best runners to prepare mentally for worst case scenarios like heat or feeling crappy or whatever.  Today I practiced preparing for the worst by starting off way to freaking fast, even for a 10-miler.  I hadn't planned to run this as a run with walking intervals, but I decided it was the most realistic way to slow myself down, and also what was most likely to happen on race day.  I walked every .5 miles for the first 4 miles of the run.  Yes, I know this route well enough to know not only the mile marks but the half miles as well.

Stay Strong in the Middle.  Have fun, but don't go too fast yet!  Miles 5 and 6 were down, and then up the hills at Ft Snelling and I ran them with the one walk break I take at the top of that massive hill by the fort.  This part of the run, I always try to slow myself down and enjoy the scenery, and not think about that stinking hill either.  Mile 7 was coming back around to the falls and it involved a food stop and also a photo stop. The river is amazing right now.  The leaves are starting to turn, just a few.  The maples are really red, but there's lots of green as well.

Finish Hard.  It may be okay to listen to some music on Race Day.  I'm toying with the idea of music on race day. Miles 8, 9, and 10 I did finally put in some music.  I was impressed with myself that I could pick it up for those miles.  I stopped taking breaks and just enjoyed the run.

Now Taper for serious.  Since I am still doing my mile per day (gotta keep the streak alive) I was really serious about stopping after mile 10, no matter where I was.  It turns out I was about 1.5 miles from home.  I did my plank for the day (2:30 baby!), took lots of pictures, and did lots of stretching.  I saw the Women's Gopher Basketball team on this court, I think filming a commercial.  Talk about random.  On the way home I called Grandma, and also talked to Aunt Barb and Uncle Spaghetti.  Then I called Dad and we talked for a long time.


Seven Miles of Chilly and Humid

This morning had a seven mile run on tap.  It had to be done this morning because I had meetings all day at work and then a shopping date afterwards.  That turned out to be excellent motivation.  I woke up a bit after 6am and it was still dark when I hit the road.  I forgot my reflective gear.  Fail for me!  It was super humid out, and there was fog rising off the grass and the lakes.  I stopped to take pictures near the last mile of the run and by then, most of the fog had burned off.  The fall colors are starting to pop out.  I saw a few maples had turned bright red, and a tree or two was turning yellow as well. Race day in the Twin Cities should be fairly stunning.

The run itself was pretty fun.  I tried to keep it moving at a fun and challenging pace and basically did great.  The overall pace reported includes a few stop lights and a photo stop as well.  I'm having an hilarious time this week running on pavement only, no dirt tracks next to the trail, to keep my shoes from getting torn up too bad before the race. I only have a few more real training runs before the race though.  Afterwards, I can beat the heck out of the shoes like normal!


Internet Search Results - Update

From time to time, I check which searches point to my blog.  There seems to be no end of searches pointing to the Nike Vs Endomondo App Showdown, and most especially to the Ikea Hack instructions for Expedit and Drona.  There have been hilarious ones like how tall is Sven Sungaard, and of course Can I put Chia Seeds in a Diet Pepsi?.  These are less frequent and only generate a hit or two, but they crack me up.  Today I saw this gem:

"Badass pipes and biggest" - I checked carefully on Google, peering through my fingers at first in case it was something dirtier than I'd imagined.  It seems to be a car thing, and there's an Audi called the A4, so maybe...  This is the only post with the words "badass" and "pipes" in it, and they're not even related.  I'm sure this person didn't find what they were looking for here. Sorry.


Chilly, Lazy 12-miler at Ft Snelling

Taper Time!

I got up this morning to run at 6am and I was out the door shortly thereafter.  I had a banana but no real breakfast.  That may have been my one true mistake for the day.  I got pretty tired towards then end of the run, even though I wasn't moving very fast.  Time to eat my Wheaties I guess.

One smart move I made for the day was I allowed my phone to vibrate every mile but I turned down the volume so I couldn't hear the girl telling me how fast my mile splits were.  I could've cared less about pace pretty much the entire run. It was lovely.  Minnehaha Falls was kind of busy, as people were arriving for Women Run the Cities.  I didn't go exactly by the starting line but I was very close to it. It's actually sort of my least favorite day to run in that area because of all the people walking to the race.

I tested out a new shoe/sock combination for today's run.  I love ProCompression socks, but something just was not working right today.  It's the first time I've tried to run in the socks; they're normally for recovery.  I'm not sure if it was the socks, or the way they fit in my shoes, or the way I tied my shoes, but something just was not working.  I'll go back to my other socks for race day.  I do need to stick with the shoesI'm still glad they're not as ugly as that picture.  I have another 30 or so miles to get them broken in for race day. 

The trail itself and Ft Snelling were gorgeous as always.  It was about 45* when I set out in long socks, shorts, arm sleeves and a shirt.  I stayed pretty chilly the whole run.  There was still a 3/4 moon up in the air as I was running.  I tried to take a picture of it in a few places but failed miserably.  The leaves on the trees are all still green, although some of the ivy and low lying bushes are starting to turn bright red.  I'm hoping this means well have a full burst of fall colors for marathon Sunday but who can say.

At the end of the run, I held a plank for 2:00, part of my "21 Days of Planks" workout series.  The perfect outdoor planking position is hands on grass, feet on concrete.  If you weren't sure.  After that it was a little stretch, then a quick change and off to help the Qat Lady.


Wet, Highly Motivated 4 Miles

At some point, I'd had visions of running 7 miles around my Lake Nokomis route.  I don't know what I was thinking.  This day didn't have 7 miles in it.  This day had 2 naps in it.  When I woke up from the second nap at 5:30pm, it started to rain.  Now I'll never run.  The rain stopped after a few minutes and I could see the sun peaking out behind some clouds.  I checked the radar and all was good. See the picture? No rain near me..  I decided I could get in a nice 4 mile workout before sunset and hit the road.

Motivation to get out the door was wearing my favorite pair of running shorts and also a new pair of running socks.  Additional motivation was that I'd planned to let myself listen to Pandora on my phone as I ran.  No, I am not making this up.  It all worked to get me out the door.  I started to feel better and by better I mean awake the moment I got out there, and busted out a fairly quick warmup mile.

Then I rounded on Lake Hiawatha and saw what was waiting for me.  Where did that come from?  The radar was clear?!?  Suddenly I found a whole new motivation for hauling ass.  Mile 2 appears slow from the splits but I stopped moving completely long enough to dig my phone out and take a panorama shot, so I'm not sweating it.  All those splits were way faster than I meant to run tonight. 

The rain started after I'd completed mile 2.  Mile 3 was sort of wet, but I was running down by the creek under a ceiling of cottonwood trees, so I had a lot of shelter.  By mile 4, the rain had lost something of its intensity, although it was still making me grumpy.  One good bit of planning I had for the run was to wear a pair of older shoes with a new pair of socks.  So I neither cared that my shoes were wet, nor did I get blisters.  Ultimately it was good I went out and hit the workout, even though I was sort of grumpy about getting rained on and even grumpier at the unreliability of radar and my weather apps.  There's not much rain in the forecast for the next week, so the rest of my workouts should be good to go.


6 Miles of "That was a mistake"

I actually woke up to run this morning and was greeted by 70* and 97% humidity.  I am not joking.  Ultimately I took a pass and tried to go back to sleep.  Why that failed is a story for another time.  Later on I got my hair cut, and then had lunch with Qat Lady.  I told Qat Lady to pick the place since she had to go to work later and I have the day off for slacking.  She originally picked a place with bagels and shakes but somehow we wound up at the place next door which was a Chinese buffet.  Lunch was really good.  I had a bunch of different kinds of mushrooms, green beans, a couple kinds of chicken and some other stuff, plus refills of my coke whenever I wanted.

Around 4:30, it was all "fall asleep or go run" and I knew I needed to hit it today so I got on my gear and headed up to the gym.  I did a six mile run, out and back style, along the Midtown Greenway.  It was an interesting run.  I certainly meant to keep it slower than anything else I'd done this week.  Didn't know how much help I was going to get until I started having gas cramps.  I know I have all kinds of stuff going on with my stomach when  I run, but that's really unusual.  Somewhere between miles 4 and 5 I walked for a moment and out of nowhere this port-o-pot appeared.  I am not kidding.  It was clean and well stocked and I totally took advantage of the situation.  I decided, the universe put that there right at the exact moment I needed it, who am I to say no to that? It must've worked because I ran the last mile 30 seconds faster than my next fastest miles of the run, so we'll assume I was feeling better. 

I think I'm getting to the end of this pair of shoes.  I'm not sure how many miles I've put on them but let's assume it's over 500 and call it done.  That still gives me a couple weeks to break in their newer younger brothers for the marathon.

I got done at a weird spot along the Greenway, and had a few minutes before Zumba.  I went up to the Sabo Bridge to take some pictures.  The clouds were pretty impressive by this point in the day.  The temps were still in the 70s although the humidity was definitely less than 90% by that point.


Taper Time - A Couple of Easy Workouts

5 Miles - Tuesday Morning.  I ran with my fast neighbor.  We created a new out and back course that we're using.  It runs along the creek and it's lovely.  It only has one hill that we go down in the beginning and up near the end, and a couple other places where it rolls around a bit.  She let me lead most of the way.  I put her in front of me at the end near the hill, and was all "I immediately regret this decision" when I had to chase her to keep up.  Fast neighbor would want me to tell you that the last mile split, mile 5 is incorrect because we were stopped at a light for a fair amount of time.  I want you to know I was sucking wind that entire break.  She runs fast, I was just trying to keep up.

1 Mile - Wednesday Afternoon.  I had zero interest in running today, and was just doing it to get it done.  I had a rock in my shoe the whole way and I was grumpy. I am also re-testing my Endomondo app which appears to be working normally, or at least normally for now.  It had been going bonkers on some of my runs, famously telling me I'd run an 8:53 mile followed by a 4:00 mile on my last 21 mile run.  I wish I could run an 8:54 mile 15 miles into a run.  Sigh.

In addition to running, I am now doing some amount of "planking" every day, although it's a relatively small amount.  I never thought I'd get to a point where I'm all "let's bust out this plank, it's only 90 seconds".  Goal is to increase 30 seconds per week for the next couple of weeks and see where that gets me.  I'm keeping track of the planking process and that will be it's own post.


Nice Easy 4 Miler - Taper Time!

It's taper time at marathon training central.  I love the taper because it means laziness all around, although I don't like so much all the time to sit and ponder the race. Whatever. 

I surprised myself today by actually running 4 miles.  Honestly, this day had 1-mile written all over it.  Then I saw my new running socks and I wanted to put them on and play.  My brain was all "it's pretty cool out, and it's only four miles".  So I went.  Honestly I went a little speedier than I meant to, but I kept going that way because I was having fun and it felt good.  As you can see, I had to revisit the Nike+ app since Endomondo has been going a bit crazy on me lately.  Anyone else noticed that?

I also had some fun with my training log tonight.  I finally made it tell me which days I workout the most and log the most mileage.  Fridays have been big this year.  I've done several long runs on Fridays including two 20-milers.  I'm kind of surprised that Wednesday is so low mileage.  Monday doesn't surprise me.  I'm not a fan.  Over 900 miles of pure running, and already over 1,000 miles all together for the year.


Long Run Friday - 21 Miles Done!

Today was my final 20 mile run for marathon training.  Yes, that's three 20-mile runs for training.  Because I'm just that nuts.  This is the plan I use.  The first 20-miler was quite a disaster and the second 20-miler was my favorite 20-miler of any marathon training year.  Today's run was almost as good as the previous 20-miler.  I can't figure out where the miles went.

The course: Similar to the first 20-mile run I'd ever done, I started at Lake Harriet.  The course today was similar to that first 20-miler, but I used the Cedar Lake Trail, Kenilworth and the Greenway instead of running straight through downtown.

Parking: turned out to be the biggest challenge of the day.  There's tons of free street parking all around Lake Harriet.  I couldn't park there 'till 6am.  I have no idea why I remember that so I spent last night looking at a map of the neighborhood trying to figure out where I could park before 6am.  There's several one way streets there and it's a very busy neighborhood.  Planning ahead helped because it only took a couple minutes to hunt down a suitable spot and park the car.

Run: Similar to the last time I had a building plan.  I started out in the dark and wound up cursing the street lights because they actually just shone in my eyes and made it harder to see.  I ran 5:00 and walked 1:00 for the first seven miles.  My first couple miles were terrifyingly slow but I had a talk with myself about not panicking and I improved as the run went along.  Miles 8-13, I walked 60-90 seconds per mile and ran the rest.  Miles 14-17 I ran without a planned break.  After mile 17, I ran with my running crew.  We ran .5 miles, and then walked a minute.  That part of the course just flew by.

After the run, we had some time to have popcorn and enjoy Lake Harriet, include tons of school kids.  I was actually impressed with the number of kids out on the lake, including what looked like half a school's worth of kids on bikes.  They had their own little peloton going.

Important lessons learned: Trust my strength and training.  I figured this out after mile 2 or 3, remembering my previous 20-miler.  It's okay to go out feeling strong.  Not fast.  But it is okay to be moving. The first couple miles I was all "go slow, conserve energy" but I got a little too slow and then got discouraged and also a bit stiff and uncomfortable. 
Trust my running crew and let them distract me.  Because running with another person at the end of these runs is just the best idea in the world.  That part of Lake Calhoun that I hate running, I can barely remember running it other than talking to my crew.
Take Pictures.  I took tons of pictures today.  Early on I took them during my walk breaks, and this route has some wonderful sites. When I got to downtown and along the river I stopped a couple other times to snap some shots.  Then at mile 17 I had a bit of spare time on my hands while the crew was looking for parking, so I took some really creative shots there.