Saturday, February 27, 2010

Saturday Superman Snow Slide

Last Long Run-
Very fitting for my last long run in this marathon training to be in snow. After all, I've been training all through a snowy winter already so why should the last training run be any different? All Saturday long runs are with training buds and I could not run in the snow without them. Well, I could, but it's so much better with people, why should I? I'm almost through my second winter in Rochester and I love my running partners, they have taught me so much about how to run in the snow. And most of all, they're always there doing it too, inviting you to jump in and join the fun.

16 "New" Inches of Snow-
We've had 16 inches fall from Thursday to Friday, and it just kept right on adding up all through this morning's run and throughout today. For the past 2 plus months we've had a solid 4 inches on the ground with much dry pavement. It's been a great winter for running. Of course there have been days of snow packed roads and slush, but more clear pavement then not. No one is complaining! Yesterday was the first day all winter I really needed my stabilicers for better snow traction. The roads were plowed, but there was a layer of ice underneath the powder, quite slick. Me, Colin, and our dog Rudy, had a fun 4 mile run in the snow yesterday afternoon. One cute sledding girl stopped us to pet Rudy and chat, she just loved him and asked if we were going to give him hot chocolate when we got home!!

Colin took these pics of me yesterday finishing the 4 miles on our neighborhood's snowy streets.

10 Wet Miles-
Today I started out with my stabilicers but took them off 5 miles into the run because I could feel a blister beginning on my toe from them. Plus the main roads were pavement with a lot of slush and the side roads were snow packed. Stabilicers and pavement just don't go well together. The best part of the run was turning onto a snow-packed side street after climbing a slushy hill. Picture gorgeous white snow clinging thickly to every tree branch on this tree-lined street. It was so beautiful and peaceful, we couldn't stop talking about it. The last mile and half, however, were on a slushy shoulder with lots of passing cars. We must have gotten completely sprayed by at least 5 cars! It was hilarious, some of them would try to get over but the gray yucky slush still went flying through the air in a perfect spray all over us! There was nothing to do but laugh and try to brush it off somewhat. My feet and shoes were as soaked as if I ran in a major rain downpour! But on we trekked to the finish of the training run.

Superman Snow Slide-
I know, you've been dying to know what this is all about. Well, about 7 miles into the run today, we were on a snow packed road with a deceptive layer of ice underneath the powder. We kept slipping and catching ourselves. Suddenly in a split second my left foot slipped and I was on my stomach with both arms stretched out in front of me for a lovely glide down the street. It was like Superman, really, only very graceful. I really did slide several inches! The first thing I did once I realized I was down was to stop my watch, whew! Ha ha! Then I flipped over on my back, made a snow angel and stood up. Remember when I fell, I was carrying my stabilicers in one hand and my water bottle in the other hand. It was pretty comical and we all joked about how it's a good thing my stabilicers were in my hand instead of on my feet...

That is actually the first time I've ever fallen on a run, period. I didn't realize it until today. Nothing hurt though, my left knee made a decent impact on the road but I couldn't even feel anything different after about two minutes, no worries about any injuries.

Shoveling with the Dogs-
After a post-run bowl of cereal, it was out to shovel the heavy wet snow off the driveway so Colin could get in when he came home from his 16 hour night shift. Good times, for him I mean. The dogs had a great time trotting around the yard while I shoveled it all away. It was a great morning! Now I only have 4 more short runs and 2 full rest days before the marathon on Sunday, March 7. Next post will be a race story. Wish me luck! By the way, it's still snowing at 5 pm.

Goliath(left) meanders through the drifting snow in the backyard while Rudy (right) strikes a pose in the snow while I shovel away...

Friday, February 26, 2010


View of my street from my front steps, hard to really demonstrate the amount of snow in this pic...

Woke up to a bunch of drifting, blowing white stuff this morning and it's still coming down in a fine and steady shower of snow. A check of the internet confirmed the unthinkable-no school! I had a sub job lined up and everything, they never cancel school around here! I actually read it several times just to be sure it REALLY said schools closed. No worries, I'd hate to be at home when I was expected in a classroom.

I'm actually looking forward to a run in that thick, white snow today. Crazy! But I only need 4 miles and I could care less about my pace. I've already run everyday this week, including two marathon pace runs and one speedy tempo run. The snow will be a perfect and enjoyable training run with no pace goals. Better yet, after Colin finishes snow blowing and after we walk the dogs---also unheard of, we're such pathetic dog walkers---Colin is going to join me for the 4 mile run. Even though he's a little sore from our run yesterday and has to work a night shift tonight, he's going for a run with me. Yay!

Colin snow blowing in the back of the house, he loves doing this, seriously.

We'll see how it goes, the roads are plowed kind of, snow is somewhat packed. It's coming down and blowing which should make for lots of squinting. I'm still looking forward to it though. Hoping for as many roads as possible to be plowed by tomorrow for my last long run before marathon day, a measly 10 miles. And yes, you might be training for a marathon when 10 or 12 mile runs seem-dare we say it, SHORT? Yep, that's right, short.

Happy Winter Friends! ( I know it's almost March....still winter here, definitely.)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

509 Miles Since Dec. 1

How do you stop your brain from over-analyzing your training during taper time? You look back at your training log. Thanks to my trusted Garmin that downloads all of my running workouts to my computer training center, I can look back at every insane mile. For whatever reason, during every taper, I start to have a mental battle about whether I have put in the kind of training to deserve or produce a good marathon finishing time.

After 16 marathons and an ironman you'd think I'd get over it, but no, still have to make a conscious effort to relax and just be in the moment on race day. If it's my best day, fabulous. If it's my good day, still fabulous. I'm thankful to be able to run period. How many times have I written that on this blog? A lot!

Basically, my training this time around is decent. I've managed to somehow remain injury-free. (This from a girl who has run 4 marathons with IT band pain and 3 or 4 with plantar fasciitus. I think, honestly, you lose count...) Looking back at my training log reassured me that I actually have put in good training. I've managed to follow my plan, put in tempo runs, marathon pace workouts, some 800 meter repeats-all on my goal pace. Wow! All injury free-bigger WOW! I haven't missed any long runs, even on snowy, cold weather days.

I remember my first marathon when I really didn't know for certain that I could complete the 26.2 mile journey, period. What did I do? I trusted my training to get me to the finish line, and it did. It's the same today, can I finish in a desired time? I'm trusting my training, yes, I can. Will it be a PR? No, my training has been great, but not quite what it needed to be for a PR. I'm not complaining, just stating the facts. I'm okay with that. More than okay, I can't wait to see all of my Little Rock/Arkansas friends and run in warmer temps-hopefully in shorts!

I'm hoping to be able to average close to 8:30 to 8:45 miles, give or take, for this marathon. Did I do enough hill work? Maybe not, but I here I come anyway! Trusting those 509 training miles and enjoying the easier workouts for the next two weeks. This past week's training runs all felt great, including yesterday's 14 miles. Today was an awesome heated yoga vinyasa workout-just what this body needed.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

20 Miles to Get To My Couch

What is the best part of the last 20 mile training run before taper time until marathon day? Laying clothes out the night before? The morning bowl of oatmeal? Pulling on a pair of gloves AND mittens to match the two layers and a jacket? Gotta be the two vanilla Gu energy gel packs during the run, right? Ahhh, yummy, but no. And actually not that yummy, in fact very cold and kind of stiff in texture. It must be the friends who run with you? Well, yes they are a HUGE plus! I love my running buds and we pushed our long run pace a bit for 12 miles of the total distance. Two of my fellow runners decided at the last minute to run the full 20 with me, saving me from running the final 4 miles alone. That was pretty fantastic, I must admit. A gigantic thank you to them! Maybe it was the snow flurries that fell consistently on us for all 20 miles, at times pelting our eyeballs. It certainly wasn't the roads that were snow covered, that familiar sandlike surface greeting us yet again. (Actually we had a decent amount of clear pavement, so it all equaled out.) Give up? My title does give it away after all. The best part was the end when I got to meet up with my couch and the TV. What can I say? Inside I guess I'm just a couch potato with a running habit. Before landing on the couch with some delicious coffee, I did manage to fold laundry and throw some chicken into the crock pot (which is becoming "Crock Pot Taco Chicken" -recipe from a friend, yum!). And I had a post-run bowl of cereal for recovery. OKAY, also a couple of chocolate chip cookies immediately following the run, thanks to another runner baking them for us! It was a great morning! I can't stand to spend my Saturday mornings any other way than completing a long run and truly "earning" my weekend.

Okay, so this picture isn't from today, but it is me on the couch, actually the recliner, but you get the idea. :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Snowshoe Running Trail Race for Haiti

Pre-Race Pic-Left to Right: Jackson-the loveable trail running dog, Kathy, Nicole, Kirsten-showing off snowshoes, Wendy, Katie, Mark, Steve, in front is Ellen-race hostess with the most-est!

Last Sunday I got to strap on some snowshoes and run through snowy trails with lots of hills, all to benefit Haiti! And now I have something new to save my pennies for-SNOWSHOES!!!! I borrowed my friend Kathy's snowshoes made especially for running, and tried them out. It actually is quite amazing that I loved it so much considering I'm not a huge fan of trails or snow when it comes to running! But it was incredibly fun and challenging, a great workout, and the snowshoes provided an element of traction and control that made the snowy trails fun for running.

Me at the finish, smiling like a dork. :)

When I first put the snowshoes on I felt like a toddler learning to walk, but after a few strides out and back on the snowy field, I was ready to go! My first downhill slope on the trail itself was a bit unnerving but I adjusted and before long I felt confident. It was just me, the snowshoes, and the trail. It was beautiful, it was invigorating. I was definitely working hard, out of breath, and the muscles were in use! It felt great and I would recommend it to anyone! I'm told the more you run on snowshoes the better and faster you get. It wasn't about speed for me on race day, just being out there and running.

Our local running store, Fleet Feet, aka Yellowjacket Racing put the race on and all benefits went straight to Haiti. Additionally they had a shoe drive which resulted in a pick-up truck full of donated gently used running shoes. What a creative idea and way to continue to support Haiti relief efforts! Kudos to Boots and Ellen-the owners. They came up with a 2 loop trail course that we ran twice for a grand total of 4 miles. It had hills to climb, one named "Suicide Hill" which was straight up and literally had my legs burning on the second loop! There were also downhill portions and just regular old single track trails. All were snow-covered of course! My whole group had blast and we have lots of pictures to prove it!

The Gang After a Fun Race!

Me and my running bud, Katie. She WON the 5K road race and then WON the 4 mile trail race too! Consecutive race WINNER!

...another pre-race pic

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Post-Run Pancakes = Recovery

Every once in awhile after our Saturday long runs, I have the running gang over for pancakes-your choice, chocolate chip or blueberry. And of course we wash it down with mimosas and coffee, because you are supposed to hydrate after a run. (insert sarcasm...but it goes great with the pancakes.) It helps that I live only a quarter mile from the running store where we begin all of our group runs. I always run to the start instead of driving. And usually I walk home at the end of the run, except lately because it's so cold and snowy, I accept the offers for a ride. Here are before and after pics of my friends.

BeforeLeft to Right: McCardle, Wendy, Lehman, Steve, Kathy

This was our "pre-run" group at 7:10 AM while it was still beginning to get light out. We kicked it off with 4 miles, then met a HUGE group of 150plus at the store for the next chunk of miles. Several of these guys are pacers for the big group run and needed 20 miles today so we had to start early. I lucked out and only ran 12.75 since I had 20 last Saturday and 20 again next Saturday. Yay me! it gave me time to get home and start the pancakes. BTW I think it was around 16 or so this morning with some wind.

AfterBen, Naomi and Tegan are runner kids-children of runners, and they got to come and have pancakes too. Obviously they are good buddies and great kids! I love these guys!

This is the same gang after 20 miles, you'd never know it huh? I'm not in the picture since I'm holding the camera. We had a great time and the kids only had to tell us to be quiet a couple of times, really.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Cold- A State of Mind

COLD DEFINED: Several reactions to my post about the cold weather run of 2 degrees made me realize how much living in Rochester and running has changed my mindset when it comes to cold weather. Thank God! I can't imagine giving up running, EVER! When I lived in Arkansas, me and one of good friends and marathon training buds, Raquel, cried and whined about the cold weather to no end! We were hilarious when I think about it and our "cold" then is now my "warm" winter day, ha!!!! Our water bottles froze slightly on ONE day of colder weather and we could not believe it! Now it's a weekly long run occurrence and it almost freezes solid.

So, now 20s are decent winter temps for me and 30's warm winter temps. Upper 40's make me consider shorts! This is a FAR cry from when I used to show up in Arkansas with long pants and long sleeves on a "cold" fall day and get laughed at by all my running friends for being over-dressed when they had on their shorts still! Teens are on the cold side to me and single digits and below a definite challenge. One freezing winter day last year was 12 below and we ran 12 miles. Let me just say my balaclava was stiff and frozen solid, fun times. At the same time, this is nothing compared to Minnesota runners where below 0 temps are the norm. I know there are runners in all climates and I truly believe they don't let the weather stop them.

Goliath and Rudy greeting me at the door after a cold run in the dark decked out in full-on cold weather clothes and reflective vest. not the greatest photo quality....

MIND GAMES: If you struggle with getting out to run in the cold--and even if your "cold" is my "warm," it's still COLD to you and a real challenge! I understand the issue at hand! Most of the time getting out there is far more than half the battle. I can't tell you how many days I don't want to run and I wish I was one of the people that could be content to sit in my warm house in lieu of a run and be guilt-free!! But alas, that is not the case! So out the door I go because not going will make me feel worse as the day goes on then just biting the bullet and getting out there. Plus thinking about how good I will feel when it's completed. That gets me out the door, I might procrastinate it, but I get out there none-the-less.

Then, SURPRISE! I am running down my street with two or three layers, depending on the temps, maybe a jacket, and I feel GREAT! My body loves the run, it's invigorating, I'm not cold at all, it actually feels good out there. Even if it takes you a mile to get to that warmed up point, it's worth it. So try my mind games and see if they work for you. Happy Cold Weather Running people! Spring will be here before we know it, and what I really love to run in are shorts and a tank top!!!

These are my trail shoes with some stabilicers strapped to them. Basically screws that give traction in ice and bad snow. I needed them constantly last winter but this year the pavement has been much clearer.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

20 miles, 2 energy gels, and OH YEAH, 2 DEGREES!

I'm a creature of habit in way more ways then I care to admit and running three 20 milers before every marathon is yet another way I fit that mold. So this past Saturday was the second 20 miler for my Little Rock Marathon training plan, and it didn't matter if it was 2 degrees or 102 degrees, 20 miles had to be covered! I met my friends and off we trudged through sand-like snow covered sidewalks and roads wearing full on cold weather gear.

Cold Weather Gear: Several layers of moisture wicking shirts and a warm jacket, thick running tights, wool socks, mittens, balaclava's and hats!!!!! Wish I had a picture of our running group to post! I always feel like I'm getting ready to go play in the snow when I'm bundling up on running days like this one!

Snow Like Sand: I hate running on a beach and don't really get it when runners say they enjoy that! Of course I love the ocean and beach but running in sand is entirely different. And snow running is just like sand, hard on the ankles, hard to keep your body stable and requires lots of energy. Running in snow that is thick and slushy is not my favorite condition. I much prefer dry pavement or even hard packed frozen solid snow. Saturday's run was a combination of all of the above so some parts were good, some parts were rough, and ALL of it was COLD! I know, enough complaining already!

Frozen Water Bottles: It is a given that our water bottles will freeze on a long run in the winter in Rochester. Thank God for The Spot coffee shop. Nearly every Saturday we trudge through that warm coffee shop with people snuggled up to their laptops and coffee mugs wishing we were them! Instead we head straight to the restrooms to thaw out our bottles. I only got one short drink from mine around 5 miles before it froze almost solid and I couldn't even unscrew the top to drink out of it. I had an AHA moment when I realized filling my bottle with hot water would delay freezing. That will be my new habit.

Street Peeps: People were so smiley and friendly to us downtown! They would cheerfully call out hello or encouragement to us as we ran past them. One guy who was quite possibly homeless said "God Bless You!" to us as we ran by and I waved at him which prompted an "Amen Sister!" Loved it, brought a smile to my face. Another man was out shoveling his front sidewalk and humorously asked if we were "nuts!" The answer is of course, a re-sounding yes.

Friends: We could not have endured this grueling run without each other. I love my running friends, I've always said that! When I was really struggling and hanging in there I knew that all my friends felt the same way and we kept each other going. We were all in it together and there's never a lack of conversation-even for 20 miles.

Route: Basically, all over the city! But we ran the Flower City Half Marathon course which is a new race in Rochester this April. We loved the course, definitely challenging with rolling hills but all through the city. Can't wait to run it on spring pavement!

Recovery: Sunday afternoon I went to an outstanding heated yoga class and managed to do crow for the second time ever and tripod for the first time. We did LOTS of high planks to low planks which made my upper body sore. Additionally, lots of poses were great for stretching my legs and hamstrings especially. I LOVE some yoga, even for an hour and fifteen minutes of sweating it out! And the best part is savasana, ahhhhhh. Laying flat on your back and doing nothing at the end, best part. Monday was an easy 5 mile run and an invigorating 2100 yard swim with my friend at the Masters Swim Workout. Today, another easy 7 miler and tomorrow a challenging tempo run workout.

It all continues and I love every minute of it. Little Rock, I'm on my way and can't wait to see everyone!