Since I last wrote, Robert ran his first Boston, The Dot graduated from high school (she finally got that last math credit… yes!), The Boy graduated from NYU, and we drove 3300+ miles across the country, merrily drinking beer in 14 states (well 13, Wyoming was skipped). All the festivities played out via Instagram.
In other news, I am done Maffetone-ing. I was completely unsuccessful in making any cool changes to my pace and heart rate after 8 solid weeks. It’s possible I was just shooting for too low of a heart rate and walking did nothing for me except make me lose a lot of nice muscle in my quads and glutes. I’d stick to it longer but no.
The good news is my hamstring is feeling somewhat better and I was able to run the Brooklyn Half marathon last month with only minor pain. Of course, I had to run it pretty slowly to keep my hamstring happy and walked a few parts of it so I could track Robert’s time and text him the results while he waited for me at the finish line (the cell towers were overloaded at the finish due to so many users in one place so he couldn’t get his official finish time via his phone). In case you’re curious, he ran fast enough to qualify for the NYC marathon and finished 20th in his age group (1:31 something). Hopefully the standards will remain the same for 2017 and he’ll be in!!
So that’s a wrap. All caught up. I plan on running easily for the next 5 weeks (not tracking pace or heart rate but going on feel) and will hopefully be starting my training for the NYC marathon in late July.
MAF training is heart rate training, similar to what I was doing earlier this year but it’s a bit different. Basically, all of my training must be done at 180 minus my age (and minus 10 more because I’m taking prescription meds). So doing the math, that means I’m running at or around 123bpm. For me, that’s mostly walking, which is pathetic, but it shows that I desperately need to work on my aerobic base.
You know that high you get when you go out and have a really nice run? A speedy one where you have a spring in your step and you get sweaty and afterward you have a runner’s high for about 3 hours? Well, you won’t get one bit of that with MAF. Nope. At least not at the beginning. You will have a lot time to take pretty pictures though.
Why am I doing this? Well, my hamstring is still niggly. I’ve been to the physical therapist about 4 times and it’s getting better and better but I still can’t run hills or do any kind of acceleration (so no speedwork). I figured this is just about as good a time as any to really work on my aerobic base.
MAF takes time. MAF may involve some walking (or mostly walking, in my case). It is most effective when you allow yourself time to warm-up (my tests were done after a 2 mile warm-up at 113bpm) and after several to many months of training without going above the threshold (so no speedwork or racing).
I am probably one of the slowest test cases out there.
MAF #1 test on March 19th looked like this:
Mile 1: 14:09 Mile 2: 14:43 Mile 3: 14:37 Mile 4: — (didn’t do but will do for future tests) Avg HR: 123 Max HR: 131
So as you can see, I’m a MAF failure at this point. My pace should be going down, not up.
I’m not really concerned at this point because I know there are a few factors at play.
Heat. It was overcast and sprinkling and 52 on my first test. For my second test, it was 55 and full-on sun (it was definitely pushing 65 by the time I finished). I was overdressed and I felt really hot after the first mile on test #2.
Warm-ups. I don’t usually do a warm-up (although I did for my tests). A lot of my runs are done after work and I feel kind of rushed to get in 3 miles (3 miles that take 45 f***ing minutes!!!) so I’ve skipped a lot of warm-ups that I should be doing. I walk a mile after work to my car but then I sit for about 30 minutes before I’m home so I can’t really count that as a warm-up. I’m not sure how to allow time to add in the warm-up when I’m running so slow. As it is, I rarely get dinner on the table before 8:30pm. I need a personal chef I guess? Morning runs are out of the question at this point because I hate mornings but talk to me again when my MAF refuses to budge or when we have a hot spell.
Birth control pills. Without getting all TMI (but you can read all about it here and here and here) I have to take a pretty high dose of birth control and during the week that I’m off the pill my heart rate goes down. In fact, the only time my resting heart rate drops down into the 60s is during that week. I honestly kind of hope menopause comes earlier vs. later for me so I can go off these horrible pills.
Wine. I drink it. Sometimes a lot. Always more than I should and it raises my heart rate. I don’t know how much wine I drank before test #1 (I’m sure at least a few glasses) but the night before test #2 I had 3 glasses of wine!! I was watching a movie with The Dot while sipping wine and we started having one of our “discussions” and they usually full of tension and angst. I decided to check my heart rate and it was 85. After the discussion it was up to 89 and when I went to bed it was still around 88. It remained the same when I woke up so I got started with an already way elevated HR. Later, 2 hours after MAF test #2, it was still around 105bpm. Maffetone says if your numbers aren’t going down you need to check your diet. Um, yeah. (DC Rainmaker tested the effects of alcohol on his workouts. The results make it pretty obvious that too much alcohol will be a problem for your training the following day.)
So there it is. There’s nothing else I can think to change besides adding in warm-ups and cutting back on alcohol. After we get back from Boston next week (go Robert!!!!) I’m going to do the two-week Maffetone test (carb intolerance testing) and I’m going to toss in an alcohol test as well. While Maffetone doesn’t give any specific advice on how much alcohol one should or should not drink during the test it’s obvious to me that that’s the one thing that will make a huge difference for me. I do quite a lot of paleo-centric eating already, I get a lot of sleep, I drink a lot of water, I don’t consider myself to be stressed out much either. It’s the wine. It’s the beer. During the test I’m going to stick to one glass of wine a day for 2 weeks. 14 5oz glasses. I might have to sequester myself to my bedroom away from my 20 year old daughter to do it but gosh darn it, I’m going to do it. If my numbers still don’t come down then I guess I’ll just quit running and start breeding ragdolls. 😉
I recently took a few training classes in Tableau and to get some practice, I pulled in my Strava data to start developing a dashboard to track my progress. It’s kind of fun (and mostly useless at this early stage).
I got into New York City Marathon!!! I don’t need to start training until July so I’m going to stick with Maffetone until then and the only times I plan on going over the prescribed 123bpm is during next week’s Boston 5K (which I will run conservatively; I don’t even know if I *can* run right now so it might be a huge fail) and next month’s Brooklyn Half which I’ll also run/walk easy and take in the crowds and the scenery.
Remember how I was doing that heart rate training thing that would help me be a better endurance runner? Well, I’m dumb. Or my body is dumb. Or both. I did a few 200m speed sessions and a few strides tossed in during the early portion of my heart rate training just to remind my muscles how to run fast. It turns out that not doing my core strength training for nearly a month and not being used to acceleration/deceleration was a perfect recipe for a hamstring strain. When I first felt it (during a little stride on the track) I immediately backed off but it continued to bug me during runs (especially when I did any hills) and it then started bugging me when I climbed the stairs and soon after it even bugged me when I walked up hill. I kept on running through it. I foam rolled and started up strength training again (maybe overdid it there by using 10lb weights for my single leg dead-lifts). In any case, it just kept getting worse and worse to the point where it hurt constantly and my walking slowed to a shuffle*. I ditched my heart rate training, skipped the 2400m test I wanted to do 6 weeks out and completely quit running for a week.
*It’s pretty embarrassing when you’ve recently run 2 marathons yet can’t walk a mile into work without wincing and letting every other pedestrian pass you by.
So yeah. My February was super lame. Low mileage. Waiting and waiting to see a sports doc. Trying to figure out exactly what was wrong and attempting all sorts of remedies and doing a bunch of self diagnosing until I finally got in to see the doc just when the acute pain and reaction went away. Just a hamstring strain. Tendon is recovering and will take maybe 2-3 months to fully recover if I take it easy. Harrumph.
On the bright side, I was able to run the Lake Sammamish Half Marathon (with hamstring pain) this past weekend and my hamstring feels just fine today (well, a little niggle) so I’m on to physical therapy (I got a heavenly 10 minute deep tissue massage from the therapist that I should have gotten a month ago) and I’m starting over from the beginning, it feels like.
I guess I’ll restart my training with my upcoming 5K (April) and half marathon (May) in mind. Strengthen my butt. Stretch my hammies. Easy running (no hills or speed). Not running made me sad.
p.s. Tomorrow is the drawing for the NYC Marathon. This is Robert’s 2nd year trying to get in (and my 1st; I will choke on my coffee if I get in and he doesn’t). I really hope he gets it. The sad thing is, he could have qualified for NYC in 2017 if he’d only run 27 seconds faster during last weekend’s half marathon. He didn’t even try. Oops.
I keep hearing it over and over. We need to run about 80% of our runs easy and the remaining runs should be quality speed work. I rarely pay attention to the “run easy” suggestions because I’m a slow runner (and kind of lazy, too) and, let me be honest with you, I’m no elite runner. 😛
Tina Muir wrote about running easy here, here and here (can you tell that I admire her?). Runner’s Connect also wrote about pacing long runs here. Runner’s World talks about the easy day pace and how 30:42 10k’er Sally Kipyego runs 8:30 on her easy days.
It can get confusing when someone like Tina says her easy runs are in the 7:50-8:05 range because that pace is FAST for me. I have to remind myself that she’s run a 2:41 marathon which is a 6:08 pace. Nearly 2 minutes per mile faster than her easy pace. So if I think about it that way, if I want to run a marathon in 4:15, that’s a 9:43 pace. My easy runs should be hovering around 11-11:15 (according to Jack Daniels I should run easy within the 10:31-11:06 range).
Here’s the thing. I should easily be able to run a 4:15 marathon based on my 5k time (25:06). But I’m not there yet. My current marathon time is 4:29 (ran just a month before my 5k). Were any of my easy runs leading up to my marathon at a sub 11 minute pace? No. Not a single one. I wasn’t running slow enough during training to allow my body to build up a solid, aerobic base. I wasn’t properly allowing my body to fully recover from my long runs and my tempo runs. Additionally, because I was running “too fast,” my tempos weren’t really quality tempos.
So what’s going on with my heart when I run?
Just after the new year, I came across this paper about heart training and raising your lactate threshold. The goals for the article don’t exactly apply to me but I was curious enough that I decided to start wearing my heart rate monitor and test out what my paces looked like in different zones. Clearly I am not aerobically trained, per Hadd:
Think of it roughly like a clock face: Your one mile PR should be at 12, your 5k PR pace should be at quarter-past (+15 secs), your 10k PR should be at half-past (again, +15 secs), your HM PR should be at quarter-to (again + 15 secs), and your marathon PR should be once again at the top of the hour. (This also fits in with the old rule of thumb that your marathon PR pace should be mile PR pace + 60 secs/mile)
Older runner: 17.02 (5k), 36.45 (10k), 1.24 (HM), 3.10+ (marathon)
5k = 17.02 (5.28m/m)
10k = 36.45 (5.55m/m – should be 5.44m/m from 5k time)
HM = 1.24 (6.24m/m – should be 6.00m/m from 5k time and 6.11 from 10k time)
Mar = 3.10 (7.15m/m – should be 6.40 from HM time and 6.27 from 10k time)
Given my 25:06 5K, per the above predictor, I should be able to run a marathon in around 4 hours (9:06 pace) given a flat course and good conditions. If I’m aerobically fit. I definitely AM NOT. So I decided to do a little heart rate training. For the last month I’ve run all my runs at or below 160* (with the majority of them below 150). For me, those 140bpm runs are super slow. Not slow 10:40 pace, like I usually run, but a SUPER slow 11:30-12:15 pace.
*I really should do a max heart rate test to really dial in on the proper zones I should be running in. The last time I got my heart rate up really high (around 196bpm) was a few years ago and it usually goes down as you get older.
So I tested out my pace at various heart rates. This is how things played out:
Hadd’s 2400 meter test* results:
140bpm/12:40 pace, 150bpm/12:03 pace, 160bpm/9:43 pace, 170bpm/8:34 pace, 180bpm/8:23 pace
*On a day when you’re well rested and the weather is good (no heat, no wind), go to the track and run 2400m at 140bpm, check your pace and rest for 90 seconds, then move up to 150bpm and do the same and so-on.
Crazy. I used to occasionally wear my heart rate monitor back before I was doing marathon training and I remember the majority of my runs were between 160 and 175bpm. No wonder I never really got faster and kept getting injured.
Anyway, Hadd goes on to say what I already suspected:
…this means the mitochondria, capillaries and aerobic enzymes your training should have created in your leg muscles, did not happen. Whatever training you have done to this point has not been as effective as it could have been. Usually, I have found, for two reasons (as given above): 1. You don’t run enough mileage. 2. You train too fast.
I know that heart rate training is not exactly accurate and Hadd’s method is controversial (and I didn’t start at 50mpw like his sample runner). I know that being hot or tired (or hungover) can really affect it so I’m not saying it’s working but I’m saying I’m intrigued enough to keep up with it. (And all the Hadd believers say that is really works but only if you are patient.) Robert never runs as slow as is advised but he does do most, if not all, of his training under his marathon pace, so that says something to me about keeping it easy (although I have to remember that he’s freaking gifted).
Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to. Because I’m slowing down and haven’t incorporated any speed work except a few strides here and there into my training, I’m hoping that I can carefully* add more mileage to my base through the spring without injury.
And, yeah, I know I’m crazy. You can see my turtle-paced Strava runs by clicking the running stats link up top.
*I would love to get up to 40mpw before I start training for another marathon but I need to be careful. At the new year I was hovering just above 20mpw and am trying out a method where you run 100% for week 1, 70% for week 2, 100% for week 3, 50% for week 4, and then increase your 100% by 5 miles. We’ll see how that goes.
I had planned on a nice nap when we got into the city but I was too keyed up so we headed straight to Upright Brew House (a new place for us) for beer and lunch and then moved on to Carmine Street Beers (beer for Bob) and Spirits of Carmine (wine for me) to take back to the apartment. The Boy contacted me as we left Carmine to say his professor cancelled class (yippee!) so he headed our way and we all met up at Blind Tiger Alehouse (where we ran into the same guy we talked to at Upright — the beer world is a small world). As we wandered around the Village we ran into several tour groups. One group was checking out the Friends apartment building and another group was discussing Bob Dylan and the famous Bleecker Street. I can’t even imagine being part of a tour group like that. Hm. I guess I did a similar tour in New Orleans…
After feeding a very hungry Boy and sipping a few beers we headed to our apartment to drop off our supplies and venture out again. The Boy stayed in (he stayed with us for the entire trip rather than trek back to Borough Park in Brooklyn where he lives — a 30 minute subway ride) while Robert and I grabbed dinner just down the road at Rosemary’s. We enjoyed some really delicious pasta — I had maitake mushroom fettuccine and Robert had a linguine with preserved lemons and chili oil. Drool.
After a quick stop for drinks at Wogie’s we were ready for a big sleep. I think I slept about 11 hours (and so did The Boy who didn’t even take the red eye flight).
Upright Brew House
Upright Brew House
The following morning Robert headed out for a run while The Boy and I continued sleeping and then we headed out for a simple breakfast at La Bonbonniere. I’d searched for “basic breakfast, west village” and came up with this. The name is deceptive because it’s not chichi at all. Just a tiny diner (cash only!) with $8 plates of eggs, ham, white toast, and hashbrowns. The entire crew cooking and waiting tables were Hispanic. Anyway, it hit the spot, was cheap, and fast. Exactly what I like in a breakfast.
Next up, Robert and I headed to the NYC Marathon Expo while The Boy procured discount movie tickets for us at NYU’s ticket office. If you like marathon expos, you must go to this one at some point. It is everything and more than you could imagine. Insane and so much fun. We somehow managed to leave without spending any money. We were both pretty jealous that everyone else there was about to run such an amazing marathon. (Okay. That sounds insane. But it’s true.)
We met up with The Boy on West 34th Street to see The Martian in IMAX 3D. I’d been having a little vertigo ever since we went boating with our friends a week earlier and the plane ride seemed to make it worse so I was concerned about watching the movie but it didn’t bug me at all and the movie was just about as fun at the book. The Boy was especially pleased with the outing (probably because it didn’t involve us drinking beer).
We walked to Grand Central Station and grabbed a late lunch at Shake Shack. The Grand Central location is nice because the wait is short but I still prefer the Madison Square Park location for the outdoor seating ambiance.
After eating, we caught the subway down to the Lower East Side to grab groceries at Whole Foods and to visit Top Hops and then moved on to One Mile House (a new one for us and a pretty great tap list). On our walk back to the West Village we started getting hungry again (!) and after resting up a bit at the apartment we headed to nearby Niu Noodle House for late night dim sum. The hit of the night was the sticky rice wrapped in grape leaves (traditionally they are wrapped in banana leaves).
Village street art
outside Niu Noodle House
outside Niu Noodle House
Comedy Cellar on Macdougal St.
One Mile House
Lower East Side
Grand Central Station
Grand Central Station
Grand Central Station
A look down 7th Avenue
Robert and I both got a run in on Saturday morning. It was an absolutely beautiful, crisp, fall day and I could have run for a few hours but my neuroma started bugging me so I headed back to the apartment after 6 miles.
We grabbed a slice of Joe’s and then caught the D Train to Brooklyn with The Boy so he could fetch a change of clothes at his apartment. The neighborhood he lives in has a large population of orthodox Jews and it was the sabbath so it was basically a ghost town. The few people we did see were dressed in traditional attire. I felt a little like I’d been dropped into another dimension. (I’m sure that’s probably how some visitors feel the first time they visit Utah County on a Sunday.)
The Boy’s rental house is a mish-mash of odd-shaped rooms full of excess furniture and I honestly don’t know how can live there. It’s depressing, dirty, and crowded. I have to remind myself that at his age I lived out of my suitcase for a year and slept on a tatami mat with mosquito coils surrounding me.
We took the train back as far as Chinatown so that we could walk to the 9/11 Memorial and take in the sights of lower Manhattan. We didn’t visit the museum but we went to the pools and saw the survivor tree. It was a somber experience. With so many people there you’d be surprised how quiet it was.
We went shopping at Whole Foods in Tribeca so that I could make dinner for The Boy (his request: pasta) and walked up Greenwich Street. It was a fun experience to see all the trick or treaters out in big groups, going from business to business. The huge Village Halloween parade was set to start a few hours after we got back to the apartment and we weren’t sure whether we’d try to go see it or just hang out in the apartment to avoid the crowds. Our apartment was just a few short blocks from 6th Avenue where the parade was and our street was closed off to traffic so we could just look out our window and watch dozens and dozens of people walking past, dressed for the parade. It was a bit like Bourbon Street, actually.
In the end, Robert and I braved the crowds and snuck into Blind Tiger for a few drinks. We were packed in shoulder to shoulder but it was still a lot of fun to see everyone around us dressed up in preparation for the parade and holiday. My favorite group was the Scooby Doo Gang who lost Scooby for a bit and yelled out “Scooby Doo, Where are you???” through the crowded bar. We headed back to Upright Brew House which was also crowded but we nabbed an outdoor seat, perfect for people watching. At that point I was getting hungry so we headed back to the apartment and I made everyone meatballs in vodka sauce over spaghetti + some fresh mozzarella with balsamic on the side. The Boy was happy.
We watched footage of the parade on a local tv channel because we’re old. Then we went to bed. My earplugs couldn’t quite block out the festivities that went on throughout the night but that was okay.
One World Trade Center
One World Trade Center
One World Trade Center
Michael Rosenfeld Gallery
Hudson River Park trail
D Train 55th Street Brooklyn
D Train 55th Street Brooklyn
Welcome to Chinatown
The Building of New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse
St. Andrews Roman Catholic Church
Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse
Heading to the parade?
New York by Gehry aka 8 Spruce Street
St. Paul’s Chapel
9/11 Memorial Reflecting Pools
9/11 Memorial Reflecting Pools
9/11 Memorial Reflecting Pools
9/11 Memorial Reflecting Pools
One World Trade Center
This is how they do lines at Whole Foods in NYC
Kids trick or treating at a bar (I’m a horrible photographer)
The Woolworth Building
Rebel Rebel music store. Not sure if it’s always this hoarder-y looking.
Parents dressed up to take their kids trick or treating.
The Boy, deep in thought
Final Day = Marathon Day! I wish I could say that one or both of us was running it but no luck. Robert signed up for the lottery earlier this year but didn’t get in.
Robert and I left The Boy at the apartment so he could catch up on homework and we headed up to the marathon finish line in Central Park. We couldn’t quite get to the actual finish line because you have to purchase tickets for that area but we got there early enough to grab a good spot at the 26 mile mark. We were able to see all the elites come in and then continued watching until the fast to average runners (3:30 finishers) started coming in. We walked through the park for a bit until we got to the 24 mile mark where runners were entering the park at an incline. My marathon is still fresh enough that I could feel their pain. My favorite part about watching races is the expressions on the runners’ faces. Grimaces, smiles, and tears. So many emotions. It’s really cool.
We made our way past thousands of finishers and caught the subway back downtown to Washington Square Park to have ramen at Ramen Takumi with The Boy. We then headed to our final beer stops: Proletariat and Good Beer, before returning to the West Village.
Robert and I had our final outing at a little French bistro just below our apartment: Le Baratin. We each had a glass of wine and tried to pretend like we were back in Paris (it was kind of easy since the 2 employees, 1 customer, and a random guy who walked in to talk about the football game were all speaking fluent French).
Back at the apartment we watched the Seahawks game and then watched most of the Mets game (what a disaster). My last meal was a messy fried chicken sandwich from Wogies.
It was hard to get up early in the morning and say goodbye to The Boy. We caught an NYC airporter van at Penn Station (pre-purchased tickets for $17/person) and zipped off to JFK.
So I was doing speedwork on the track yesterday. I’m trying to kick up my pace a little in preparation for next month’s Mustache Dache.
I had 6x400m intervals on the agenda with 200m walking/slow jogging in between.
Paces: 7:46, 7:40, 7:41, 7:37, 7:48, 8:03
Anyway, as I was running maybe the third interval — arms flailing about, legs about to buckle underneath me, and heavily panting — it occurred to me that Robert runs entire marathons at that pace (faster, actually) and he looks pretty decent doing it.
The Portland Marathon is a done deal! Below is a VERY LONG recap of the event but to summarize: I met my B goal and I had fun despite pretty intense pain.
Robert and I arrived the day before the marathon and went straight to Whole Foods to load up on a carby lunch that included mashed potatoes, spanish rice, corn, and some lemon chicken. We also loaded up on Gatorade. It sounds gross now but it really helped us fill up our tanks, pre-race.
After lunch we headed to the expo. It’s an odd expo. At other expos I’ve been to, you get a bag along with your t-shirt and bib and usually the bag comes loaded with freebies. In the case of the Portland Marathon, you pick up your bib and then wander around a bit before you find the area where they’re handing out the bags and pins. You can then opt for a poster and vendors are handing out things here and there but that’s about it. The t-shirt comes when you finish the race (as it should be since it says “Marathon Finisher” on it). 🙂
We spent very little time at the expo because we wanted to get a few beers at Belmont Station before we switched back to water drinking for the evening. I ended up having a heavier beer than I’d intended (9.5%!) and then another light, sour beer before we called it quits and headed to our motel. After a bit of resting we headed down the road for Sizzle Pie cheese pizza. While we waited for our pizza to be ready we talked ourselves into another beer. I hadn’t intended to drink 3 beers the day before a marathon but it happened. And I don’t regret it.
Back at the motel, we prepped our bibs, gear and breakfast foods and went to bed around 9pm. I slept so-so. Not as poorly as I thought I would. Robert said he slept very little. (There was a bit of screeching coming from a group of high school girls at the motel but it happened early and thankfully they were hushed up or they left no later than 10pm.)
We woke at 5am and shared a salty bagel (Whole Foods sells a decent bagel; I highly recommend visiting a Whole Foods for all your marathon eating needs) and we each ate a banana. I’d purchased peanut butter and jelly but in the end didn’t eat any. Food doesn’t sound good at 5am. We also drank some Starbucks VIA coffee before heading out the door around 6:15am.
Our motel was about a mile from the start line. I downed a lemon Honeystinger waffle and 8oz of nuun electrolyte drink w/ caffeine (Robert drank Gatorade Endurance) on the walk over. As we approached the starting corrals we walked along the course and I found a brand spanking new porta-potty (a rare treat at a marathon site!) and then after a few more blocks of walking we split up so Robert could head over to corral A where the fast boys and girls go. We wished each other luck and I then got in the porta-potty line for a 2nd go. (You can never pee too much before a marathon, right?)
After waiting about 25 minutes, corral E (my corral) started moving forward. The national anthem had been sung and a bunch of motivating words were said at the start line, apparently, but I couldn’t hear any of it since we’d been stationed over a block away. It would be nice if they could set up speakers so that us middle and back of the pack runners and walkers can hear. I tossed my old hoody (it was just cool enough that I appreciated having it while I waited but I definitely wouldn’t need it for the run), plugged in my earphones, and turned on my watch. We were off about 10 minutes after gun time (7am) and it was an exhilarating start. The sun was just coming up and drums were pounding on both sides of the street as we headed north toward the Chinatown Gate. I reminded myself to take it slow and really had no problem doing so because I started off listening to KEXP’s Runner Powered Podcast, Volume 4. The first song is super mellow and helped set the tone for a slower start. (I listened to another volume at the end of my run. I had it at the end of my queue because I knew I’d want to hear DJ John’s voice when I was struggling. Weird, I know.)
This is the first time I’ve ever run a race where I didn’t spend the first mile or two fighting my way through slower people or feeling like everyone around me was stampeding forward, way faster than me. This was probably because I started in the correct corral and I was taking it so easy, but I also found the amount of runners on the course to be just right and everyone seemed to be running within the group they should have been in. No crowding. Good behavior. All runners.
Mile 1: 10:00 (I was shooting for 10:20 but my Garmin was all confused at the beginning and was showing a 5:30 pace and never showed anything close to 10:00 until just before I hit the mile marker).
The course hits a hill at mile 2 and it’s an out and back so I positioned myself on the left so that I could see Robert coming back but I ended up missing him. I was in a zone with my music, and the sunrise, and my efforts in looking for him that I didn’t really notice the hill at all (that’s how those early hills are — so easy) and soon enough we were turning around and heading back down, nearing mile 4. I skipped the first water station but grabbed some water around mile 2.5.
Mile 2: 10:51
Mile 3: 10:44
The next 7 miles are almost completely flat. I had my first Gu around mile 5.5 (25% of it somehow ended up on my compression socks instead of in my mouth) and another Gu around mile 10.5. I barely looked at my watch and instead ran at an effort that I wanted to set for the course. Not too hard, just pushing it a little. I was never out of breath and my legs never felt tired. I walked through all the aid stations just long enough take in a good sip of water or Ultimata. I considered stopping really quickly at a porta-potty if there wasn’t a line but I didn’t REALLY have to pee. It was just a feeling that I should. Fortunately, no porta-potties were ever free until later in the race when I didn’t feel like I needed to go anymore. Win!
There is a turnaround at mile 8.6 and the prettiest bubbles were floating all around us.
Mile 6: 9:46 (I saw Robert heading back around his mile 11 and I couldn’t believe how fast he was going; the 3:15 pacers were behind him, I think.)
Mile 7: 9:45
Mile 8: 9:44
Mile 9: 9:46 (I passed the 4:25 pacing group here)
Mile 10: 9:44
Mile 11: 9:51
After mile 11 we split off from the half marathoners (I was pleasantly surprised to see that most of us runners were doing the whole 26.2, much unlike Rock n Roll events) and headed towards the Northwest District and the St. John’s Bridge. There is a small hill during mile 12 but I again didn’t even notice it. I chatted with a few runners and high-fived the crowds. I got a little cocky.
Around mile 12.5 there is a steep downhill portion and I decided to run it as fast as I could to make up for any lost time. Perhaps that was a mistake. Dun-dun-dun.
I hit the halfway point at 2:08:11, right on track for my A goal of a 4:20 finish. Soon after, I felt a little twinge in my left glute. Crap! During the Bend Marathon I started having glute pain around the halfway point and it really slowed me down and took me out of the game mentally. I decided that this time I wouldn’t let it affect my pace. Sure, I’d be hurting and I’d be bummed that my body does stupid stuff when I run a marathon (hello, no glute pain at all on any of my hilly long runs during training!), but! that didn’t mean I needed to start doing the Charlie Brown walk.
In addition to keeping up the pace I tried to be proactive and stretch my hip out a little now and then. I ran off course for the first time around mile 13.7 and did a deep stretch for around 20 seconds. When I started running again it felt a little better. I didn’t think I could get the pain to go completely away but I figured occasional stretching would help a little. With the decision to start doing stretching I knew my plan A was out the window. I was already running a little slower than a 4:20 marathon pace before I started hurting. It was just a question of how much time I’d lose during this whole annoying ordeal. Geez. I’d like to run a marathon without having to manage an annoying ordeal. I downed another Gu at mile 15.5.
For the next several miles I did a lot of strategizing. Should I run/walk this thing? When should I start? Should I just go as hard as I can and then completely stop if I have to? Should I just walk the hills? In the end, my body decided for me. We hit the approach to St. John’s Bridge around mile 16.2 and I had plenty of energy in my legs to run up it. I slowed my pace a little and started up. About 60% of the other runners were walking the whole thing. I wondered if they were all dealing with similar issues of nagging pain or had just tired their legs out already. About halfway up the incline my hip started cramping. I stopped to stretch it again and then walked a little more to see how it felt. Not good. I walked for another 30 seconds and then finished the hill at a slow jog. The 4:25 pacing group passed me.
So that’s how it was going to be. Hills = cramping so I will walk them.
Mile 12: 10:01
Mile 13: 9:34
Mile 14: 10:25
Mile 15: 9:59
Mile 16: 10:16
Mile 17: 11:32
The views from the bridge were spectacular! I only wished that my pain had started after the bridge. I really tried to appreciate it and take it all in and think about how far I’d run but I had that bummed out feeling lingering in the background. I pushed forward and had renewed energy as the steep portion of the bridge ended and we came down the other side. I recently read Kristen @ Glitter & Dust’s 2014 Portland Marathon recap and she wrote something that really stuck with me during those 8 last miles:
The cramping in my legs was pretty bad between miles 18-24, but I kept moving forward without remorse for my body. This was about satisfying my mind. My body would just have to keep up. The mental part of a marathon is a thing of beauty. How the mind can convince the body to keep pushing forward regardless of pain is beyond me.
My mantra became “my mind wants this; my body is just going to have to keep up” and it really worked. Overall, my pace slowed a little but that was mainly due to stopping to stretch. I was passing a lot of people and that felt pretty nice.
The course from mile 18-24 is full of spectators and beautiful views but I don’t really remember a lot of it. I had my last Gu around mile 20.5 but I probably didn’t even need it. My legs felt great, my breathing was easy and really, everything else about my body besides that cramp felt spectacular. No foot or calf pain. No stomach issues. No fatigue whatsoever. The cramping and pain continued to get worse and around mile 21 or 22 I really wasn’t sure it would hold up. When I walked through aid stations I was never sure if I could get going again.
Mile 18: 10:24
Mile 19: 10:03
Mile 20: 10:08
Mile 21: 10:51
Mile 22: 9:52
We hit an unexpected incline around mile 23 and I walked the entire thing and partially walked up the approach to the Broadway Bridge after mile 24. After that last hill, going over the bridge, I suddenly felt at ease. The cramping backed off and I was able to speed up a bit. I passed a lot of men on that bridge (that always feels good for some reason).
By the time I was over the bridge I gained a renewed confidence that I could actually finish even though the cramping returned and was getting more intense and I no longer dared stop or even slow down. I passed up 2 water stations and “zipped” as fast as I could to the finish. I was within half a mile from the finish and was basically checked out, on another planet, trying to ignore my body’s wish to stop. I honestly wasn’t sure if I could go on. I then had a duh moment. I’d been running the whole time with my headphones in and hadn’t fully taken in the crowd support. I forgot how important they are. I pulled out my headphones and immediately heard people yelling, “You can do it, Jen!” That changed everything for me. I felt recharged and let the crowd’s cheers support me through the final quarter mile. I saw Robert just before the last turn to the finish line and he had no idea how much I was hurting because I was SMILING. How could I not smile? I charged forward. It felt like I was sprinting but of course, I wasn’t. I was VERY glad to be finishing and relieved that my hip held up to the very end.
Mile 23: 10:33
Mile 24: 11:08
Mile 25: 10:56
Mile 26: 10:36
Mile .2: ? (I forgot to stop my watch as I crossed the finish line but I would guess it was around 9:45)
After I stopped and received my medal, jacket, & rose, I could barely move. My hip just quit working. It took me about 10 minutes to get through the snack area; I had to keep stopping and grabbing the table to hold myself up and try to stretch a little. (They have great snacks, BTW! Orange slices, grapes, chocolate milk, string cheese, pretzels, bananas, water, & Ultima.) I picked up my t-shirt (plus a tree seedling, a pendant, and a coin), then slowly hobbled out of the finisher’s chute, trying to keep my shit together. I checked my phone and had a text from Robert that his phone was dying and he’d be waiting for me at the Starbucks. I hobbled down the block, the saddest looking finisher of them all (that was just my perception since I didn’t see anyone else with a such a noticeable limp, moving as slowly as me). When Robert saw me he was surprised to see me limping since he’d only seen me zipping past with a smile. Mind over body, baby!
Robert pulled off another Boston Qualifier with a 3:18:46 finish! He said he felt better this year than he did when he ran 3:22 last year in Portland. Amazing!
We walked like the living dead back to our motel, showered up, and went out for a delicious lunch of bacon wrapped quail eggs, Tokyo ramen, and sushi rolls, plus a delicious ice-cold beer at Yataimura Maru. Later, second lunch was consumed at The Commons Brewery: an Italian cheese board and a tasty sour beer. Dessert was more sour beer at Cascade Brewery and then I was DONE, both physically and mentally. I lazed about in the motel for the rest of the evening, i.e., I slept and then watched Property Brothers and Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. Meanwhile, superhuman Robert continued on to Basecamp Brewing where he replaced his 4000 burned calories with beer. He brought me back a delicious pot pie and I devoured it along with some delicious wine and fell asleep like a baby.
It was a good day. Big thumbs up to the Portland Marathon. The entertainment and crowds were awesome and the volunteers did a wonderful job plus the course has breathtaking views and chances are good that you’ll have beautiful, mild weather.
Both of us were a little sore (mainly our quads) the next day but by Tuesday all the soreness was gone with the exception of my hip. I have a pretty painful case of hip inflammation from all the cramping (I think the technical term is Trochanteric Bursitis). I’ll be taking it easy for a week or so. I’m not sure when I’ll go out for my next run but it won’t be until the pain is gone. I hope to run the Dawg Dash 5K on October 18th so let’s hope it’s gone by then. I already miss running.
Garmin Forerunner 220
Under Armour hat & tank
Brooks sports bra (handy place to stuff 2 gels and my headphones cable)
Brooks shorts (with pockets to hold 2 gels and my chapstick)
CEP compression socks
Altra One2 shoes
SPIbelt (for my phone, id, and credit card)
My trusty black wristband — useful for wiping sweat off my neck, forehead, and chin or, you know, blowing my nose.
Unlike my training leading up to the Bend Marathon, I’ve posted very little about my Portland Marathon training. Hey, maybe I just like to complain and I have to say there hasn’t been much to complain about. This was a great training cycle and I’m feeling good.
A few changes I’ve made this training cycle include:
Shoes. I completely switched over from the classic type of running shoe to Altra zero drop shoes (I alternate between One2s and Torin 2.0s). The switch helped me change my foot strike from a forefoot strike to a midfoot strike and in doing so I got rid of all my arch and metatarsal pain. All those things that aggravated my foot during my last training cycle are gone. I wore the Torins during most of my long runs but I’ve found the One2s to be just a little lighter and more comfortable so I’m planning on wearing them for the marathon.
Socks. My neuroma pain still exists on my left foot but as long as I keep it from becoming aggravated it hasn’t been a problem. Through trial and error I figured out that injinji socks make my neuroma pain flare up (probably because I have really short toes and the socks push up against the nerve between my 2nd and 3rd toe). On the other hand, if I wear my CEP compression socks I have zero neuroma issues. Here’s the confusing part: For the Bend marathon I wore injinjis AND compression socks (the compression socks worn over the injinjis) and I had zero neuroma pain. For Portland I’m sticking with just the compression socks. They worked well for me during my last 20 miler so there’s a good chance that they’ll keep me pain free for 26.2. Note: I do still require a metatarsal pad on my left insole to help my foot roll inward and keep pressure off the nerve. Not ideal but it works.
Consistent core training and power yoga workouts. Twice a week I do these strength exercises, planks, and a short power yoga session. Also, my training plan called for hill training twice a month. My glutes and hips have been so happy. Hopefully they will remain strong and happy during the marathon. For the Bend marathon, right glute pain, and then left IT band pain really derailed me in the 2nd half. I would love to finish Portland pain free (sure, I expect to hurt but I don’t want anything that messes with my gait, stride, will to live, etc…).
Training plan. I had started this training cycling using Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 1 marathon plan but I decided to switch to a plan that had me running fewer days per week but running longer runs plus a little added hill and tempo work. I went with the 16 week intermediate Marathon Training Academy plan. I really liked the plan. Overall, I ran fewer miles but I had much more energy to kick it when I wanted to and hills have become, well, kind of fun. Plus, only running 3 days a week is my kind of plan!
For comparison, here are the numbers I ran using the beginners Higdon plan for Bend vs Angie’s plan for Portland:
Yes, that’s really low mileage for marathon training but I’m not trying to BQ or do anything fancy here. I’m just trying to run without getting injured. In the future, perhaps I’ll be ready to jump up to the Hanson Method but thinking about running 40-60 mile weeks regularly makes me feel ill.
I have one more 4 mile run tomorrow and strength training on Thursday, then I plan on taking it as easy as possible. Little or no walking on Friday and Saturday, plus I’ll start drinking Ultima (the electrolyte drink they’re handing out on the course) and laying off the fiber and alcohol (I haven’t had any wine this week but am enjoying all the beers so does that count?). We are driving down to Portland on Saturday morning, hitting the expo, then grabbing some pizza and a beer before calling it a night (Robert is running the marathon as well). I’m oddly un-nervous at this point and have been sleeping well. Let’s hope that continues up through Saturday night.
Goals? I guess I’d like to finish at least a little faster than my Bend marathon (4:41). Let’s call that my C goal. My B goal would be to finish under 4:30. My A goal would be a 4:20 because that’s a great number. The course starts downhill and then goes uphill at mile 2 so I plan to start at an easy effort (let’s say 10:20-10:30) and keep that easy effort until after the downhill at mile 4 then keep it steady around a 9:50-10ish pace and maintain. After the St. John Bridge hill approach and span at mile 17, if I have it in me, I’d like to kick it up a few seconds/mile faster if things are looking good. Otherwise, continue to maintain. No crashing. No burning. Finish smiling and then drink all the beer in Portland.
Late last month we embarked on what might be our last road trip in little-r with “the teens.”
The reason it will probably be the last one are two-fold:
a) little-r is about to hit 100,000 miles. Does she have it in her to do more? I think so but who knows. Also, perhaps she will be replaced. Hm…
b) the teens aren’t even teens anymore (well, one of them barely is for about 30 more days). They were the ones that requested the road trip which is kind of shocking since they are forced into the back seat of a 2-door car and have to endure hours and hours of my podcasts.
Here’s the road trip routine:
Make sure that one of your cats gets injured (bite wound) a few days before you leave so that you have to warn your cat sitters that he might drop dead while you’re gone.
Always leave approximately 2 hours later than you intend.
Arrive at destination starving and at the time of day when every dining/drinking location is jam packed with people and the teenagers are in their most ornery mood ever.
Arrive on a day when that place you really wanted to go to more than any other place is closed.
Plan a bunch of cool things for the teens to do in the evenings so they don’t have to sit around the hotel room watching reality television while we’re out tasting beers; result: they sit around the hotel room eating Subway sandwiches, watching that Wahlberg family show (entertaining!)
Book hotels/motels with pools. When the teens finally decide to go swimming the pool is full of icky children or is closed and they don’t seem to be too upset about it.
After your morning runs, hang your sweaty bra over the cargo box for about 30 minutes for all to gawk at.
Wear same running clothes 4 times without washing.
Run out of underwear.
The rest went off without a hitch.
Day 1: Bend, Oregon
We stayed at a Hampton right across the river from the Old Mill District. It was a brand new hotel and the location was perfect. The teens were able to walk over the bridge to catch the late show screening of Trainwreck. The hotel’s breakfast was exactly what I needed (potatoes and omelettes) after my 6 mile run.*
*Robert and I planned to run along the river, 3 miles out and back. I told him to run ahead and never saw him again. I ended up not by the river and instead found myself running up that torturous hill that killed me during the Bend Marathon and then I got lost up in the cliffs above the river. Fun!
Our old Seattle friends, Kirk & Shanti, just finished building a really cool house in Nevada City. We were excited to visit with them and their daughters. Their house is really incredible! We mostly just hung out at the house and checked out some cute spots in town while were there (it was nearly 100 degrees while we were there so we did as much as possible to try to keep cool). Shanti took us on a hot, hilly run and Kirk brought out his telescope after dark. We were able to see Saturn’s rings. So cool!
We got to Paso Robles with barely enough time to check out a brewery we really wanted to visit so we ditched the teens at the hotel almost immediately. (This was another Hampton and it was not nearly as nice as the Bend Hampton. $30 more/night, odd service at check-in, lame-o breakfast; it did have a nice outdoor pool but, “ew, icky kids are in it.”)
Firestone Walker (good beer and food but the location has a weird, theme-y, Disneyland feel to it)
Day 5: Santa Cruz, California
Day 5 was the big day. The reason we even drove as far south as Paso Robles is so we could head directly west and drive up the Pacific Coast Highway. We made stops at McWay Falls, The Big Sur River Inn (for heavenly burritos and beer by the river), and drove 17-mile drive north of Carmel (Pebble Beach). We killed way too much time walking around Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf and up Cannery Row (which was oddly depressing for some reason, compared to our visit a few years ago) before we finally arrived at Santa Cruz, again about 2 hours later than I’d planned. We dumped the teens off yet again at another Hampton (the plan was they’d head to the boardwalk or over the Pacific Garden Mall; instead they did what they do – laze about and watch lame tv). I’d heard there were quite a few new beer places in Santa Cruz but the one that sounded the most interesting to me was east of Santa Cruz in Capitola. We had a few beers (we barely made it before last call so we kind of chugged our beer) and then when we returned we walked a few blocks from the hotel with the teens to eat diner food at The Santa Cruz Diner.
The family. I have to take their photos when they’re not looking.
Day 6: Santa Rosa, California
Before leaving Santa Cruz we drove out to West Cliff Drive and past the boardwalk rides. The teens liked what they saw and perhaps there was some regret about the previous evening’s laziness. Teen daughter wondered if we couldn’t come back again. I said, no, we couldn’t.
We drove up to Santa Rosa through Oakland so we could make a stop at another brewery we’ve been interested in for a few years (we met one of the brewers up in Portland at Beer Mongers and we were both enjoying the same kind of beers and we got the idea this place was worth checking out). We weren’t wrong but it took some faith to actually get inside this cool brewery since it’s tucked away behind a Walmart and a Home Depot in San Leandro. The plan was to fetch some food from the food truck parked outside and then have a few beers. We didn’t realize until they started asking for i.d. that it’s a 21 and over joint. The teen boy is 21 but isn’t a beer drinker so he was more than happy to ditch us with The Dot and hang out in Walmart while we sipped the beers. Walmart is an exciting, weird thing for us Seattle-ites.
We then drove across the Bay Bridge, straight through San Francisco without stopping and eventually made our way across the Golden Gate Bridge (that was super slow going) and then got stuck in crappy traffic all the way up to Santa Rosa. Once in Santa Rosa, instead of ditching the teens, we dropped them off at the mall while we got our names on a wait list at Russian River for pizza & beers. I sipped a 10.5% Consecration for 2 hours. Yum. The teens eventually met up with us and the teen boy even drank a little Pliny the Elder. Bob fetched himself a jug of it for later consumption.
We stayed at an older motel called North Bay Inn. It was in a decent location, the rooms were huge, and the service was great. The price was pretty steep for what it was, though. Silly wine country. I suppose that’s why our Paso Robles Hampton had a jacked up price as well.
I had a 16 miler on the schedule so we pulled ourselves out of bed and meandered through the side streets of Santa Rosa until we found a park with a trail (Howarth). There was no way I’d have time to get in a 16 miler so we turned around at mile 5. Bob would run ahead of me and then turn back again and again so he got in an extra 2 miles. After running for about 3 miles it occurred to me that there hadn’t been a single hill on the run. Not even a little roller. So flat! And kind of boring. Santa Rosa isn’t much of a running town, I think. Or we just didn’t find the secret running spots. 10 miles done and sweaty clothes strewn upon the car in the motel parking lot while we showered and scarfed down muffins and coffee.
Because one visit to the mall isn’t enough, apparently, we dropped the teens off at the mall yet again before heading out of Santa Rosa. Bob and I made one more stop at Russian River to buy some bottled beer (Pliny the Elder and a few sours). Before leaving beautiful wine country for good we stopped in Healdsburg for lunch and delicious Bear Republic beverages.
The drive to Dunsmuir included the twisty after leaving Alexander Valley so I volunteered to sit in the back seat and let The Dot sit in front. I mostly dozed off all day but occasionally looked out the window to see quite a bit of smoke in the air. We were fortunate enough to miss the big fire that skipped highway 20 a few days later. Once we arrived in Dunsmuir we headed to dinner at the only brewery in town. Last time we’d been there we’d sat outside and listened to live music but it was a Saturday night and the patio was packed so we sat inside (Robert and I, that is; the teens took off to the grocery store to buy junk food) and enjoyed chicken caesars and beer for Bob, wine for Jen. It was a hot day and there was no a/c. The old motel we were at (Cave Springs “Resort”) had a pool. Do you think anyone went swimming? No. But we did sit by the pool to sip beer and watch weird people for a while. That was fun.
We ate breakfast at Dunsmuir’s Dogwood Diner (really cute place right by the railroad, delicious, but pretty slow service — which was not a problem for us since we weren’t in a huge hurry) and then made our way to Ashland. I’d somehow managed to never stop in Ashland before (you can’t see the town from the highway) so I had no idea how cute it is. We stopped at a brewery and then made unwise cd* and video purchases at a cute little music/movie shop before heading up to Eugene. The air was brown-ish, gray due to more forest fires.
*the dot has been collecting cd’s; why are my kids so old-fashioned?
We stayed at the Timbers Motel in Eugene. Thumbs way up except my check-in experience was less than stellar. The motel is centrally located, very affordable, cute, modern and clean. Unfortunately, when you pull up to the front desk just after 3 other old dudes, you will be waiting a while to get your key.
The three old dudes each had their set of stupid questions they asked the front desk clerk. I stood behind them and answered their questions in my head.
“I’ve never been up here before. I’m from California. Why is the air so muggy? I expected fresher air?” (Dude, why is your wife so muggy? What kind of question is that?)
“Can you point the direction I should walk to get to that breakfast place? (This is why we have smart phones with maps on them. It’s 2015, mister.)
“Can you recommend a few good fish places around here? Which would you suggest? If you were to choose between the two? I will go where you would go.” (Haven’t you heard of Yelp old feller? Do you think the motel clerk is some kind of restaurant critic?)
“Where can we bike nearby?” (You came here with your bikes and you didn’t research trails beforehand?)
Seriously. So. Dumb. After a 25 minute wait I finally got us checked in (all our other check-ins were about 45 seconds so I guess we were spoiled).
We walked over to The Cannery for dinner and then, you guessed it, the teens headed back to the motel to do whatever they do and we checked out a lovely bottle shop nearby. I could have stayed awhile longer than we did but Bob suddenly felt a cold coming on. His colds often ruin the ends of our trips. He’s a jerk.
Robert and I got one more run in. Just a few blocks from the motel is a paved trail that runs along the river. I was excited to run in Eugene since it’s such a famous running town but the run was boring. Flat, flat, flat. The river was pretty, though.
We dropped the teens at Powell’s and bee-lined it to Cascade Barrelhouse (after accidentally driving back onto the Morrison Bridge away from our destination – a mistake we’ve dumbly made before).
We were home by 7, in time to greet and feed the furry ones (none of them died and one was really happy to see us).