NYC Marathon training weeks 12-14

Week 12:

Monday: 60 minute deep tissue massage

Tuesday: 6 miles easy commute home (11:37 pace, 143 bpm) + Iron Strength workout

Thursday: 4×1 mile repeats w/ 800m recovery (pace: 9:04,9:14,8:53,9:05) + Intermediate Yoga for Runners

Saturday: 6 easy miles (11:57 pace, 143 bpm)

Sunday: 16 miles in Portland (11:16 pace, 158 bpm)

Total Mileage: 37

Total Elevation: 850ft

Daily: 60 second planks (forearm + assisted sides) and foam rolling


Running in Portland (while Robert ran the Portland Marathon*) was an adventure. It was a rainy morning and I got started before 7am. I ran back and forth along the river while the marathon was starting so I could hear the music and drums plus watch for the fast runners come onto Naito Parkway around mile 2. Once I spotted a few runners I headed into new territory and checked out the new Tilikum Crossing bridge. I love it! (And it was the only part of the course that really got me any elevation.) Unfortunately, just after I got onto the east side of the bridge, “Pee pee time” happened. I had to pee SO BAD and there was nowhere to stop. I considered stopping on the trailside once or twice but there are a lot of homeless tent dwellers along the trail and I didn’t feel like that would be a good decision. I also found a port-a-potty by the opera house but it had a padlock on it. Rude. Anyway, I ended up repeating — out loud — a new mantra over and over again for a few miles: “pee pee time!” as I tried as fast as I could to get back to our motel (fortunately, also on the east side of the river). A few runners ran past me as I was loudly chanting “pee pee time, pee pee time” which was fun. I finally made it to the motel only to discover that my key card no longer worked (probably because I had it in my spibelt with my phone). I had to go to the front desk and get it activated. Anyway, it was a pee pee time adventure and I only peed my pants a little bit (well, maybe a lot, because I ended up switching to running shorts). An unexpected mid-run rest stop.

*Robert not only got a new marathon PR of 3:16:25 in Portland, but he also ran a negative split and got a FREE pair of New Balance shoes via a Strava Promotion. Show off. He finished 9th in his age group (up from 10th last year).

This was the first week I started feeling confidently strong in my glutes and hips. I think the Iron Strength plyometric jump squats and jumping lunges are finally paying off. The extra iron I’ve been taking (Blood Builder and chewable iron, plus bison meatballs!) have also helped boost my energy levels.

Tilikum Crossing in Portland

Week 13:

Tuesday: 6.2 miles easy in Astoria (11:38 pace, 141 bpm) + Iron Strength workout

Thursday: 10x800m repeats with 400m recovery (time: 4:52,4:35,4:34,4:30,4:28,4:34,4:28,4:37,4:30,4:27) + Jasyoga* hip/hamstring reset

Saturday: 5 miles easy (12:01 pace, 144 bpm)

Sunday: 20 miles w/ 6 LT miles (10:50 pace, 155 bpm) + Jasyoga stride alignment and post-run reset

Total Mileage: 41.3 (my first ever >40 mile week!)

Total Elevation: 676ft.

Daily: 60 second planks (forearm + assisted sides), Jasyoga resets, and foam rolling

*Jasyoga has a series of video workouts for runners and I’ve found the hip/hamstring workouts really help my recovering hamstring and my stride/form in general. I don’t want to jinx it but I’ve gone several days in the last few weeks without feeling ANY hamstring tightness or pain. 


Wow. This week was full of surprises! I have a tiny dirt hill I have to climb up to get off the trail to get into work and in the past it’s been iffy but suddenly is was super easy. I think the Iron Strength workout is a paying off big time. Glute power!

My run on Tuesday in Astoria was surprisingly fatiguing given that it was flat. I often feel that way on totally flat courses. I think I’m more of a rolling hills kind of girl… In any case, it was really refreshing to run out on the Columbia and the trail in Astoria is perfect. I got to peek in on warehouses, sea lions, breweries, and weird old shipwrecks. It was like I was a Goonie.

Thursday’s Yassos were a nice surprise (despite running them on a puddly Burke Gilman trail in a downpour). I have honed in my pace to give me an idea of where I’m at, marathon pace-wise (if you recall, my 6×800 put me at around a 5 hour marathon time). I’m confident enough in the results that I ordered a pace band for a 4:45 (10:52 pace) finish at NYC. That seems SO slow but in my previous 2 marathons I was overly optimistic and had glute issues so this time I’m going in slower than I think I’m capable of. We’ll see what happens.*

*I am kind of bummed and also happy that NYCRR put me in a really slow wave/corral based on my Brooklyn Half (2:30). When I signed up for NYC I put in a 4:20 predicted finish (this was just before my hamstring issue) and then I ran the NYCRR Brooklyn Half in May after months of basically walking so my finishing time is what they actually used to assign my wave. I’m hoping it will just help me start slow and stay slow and then I’ll have to weave around walkers later on. In any case, I’m happy with my starting location (Orange wave which is on top of the Verrazono Bridge, on the Manhattan side. My start time is 11:00am and I’ll be near the 5 hour pace group. Bleh!)

Sunday’s 20 miler was one of those long runs where you wish you were just running the full marathon. It went that well. I DID take 4 GUs (including a Roctane GU). Hey, if it works, use it! I will have 5 GUs (some Roctanes) stuffed in my race bra on November 6th.

Sea Lions in Astoria

Week 14:

Monday: 60 minute deep tissue massage

Tuesday: 6 miles easy commute home (11:46 pace, 145 bpm) + Iron Strength workout

Thursday: 3×1 mile repeats w/ 800m recovery (pace: 8:49,9:07,8:37) + Jasyoga flexible hamstrings workout

Friday: Intermediate Yoga for Runners

Saturday: 5 miles easy (11:50 pace, 145 bpm)

Sunday: 14 miles (11:23 pace, 146 bpm)

Total Mileage: 31.7

Total Elevation: 1079ft

Daily: 60 second planks (forearm + assisted sides), Jasyoga resets, and foam rolling


I hate the taper weeks. I feel like I’m doing absolutely nothing. During the mileage build-up weeks I take it easy when I’m not running and slack off on doing normal things like housework and gardening (my shower is so nasty right now). So, because I’m tapering, I made the mistake of getting out and gardening (including lawn mowing) and doing a cleanup/packing of The Dot’s room (she still have almost 50% of her stuff there) on Saturday and before I realized it, I’d been on my feet for 7 hours (after running an hour in the morning). Not ideal the day before my long run and I definitely felt tired on Sunday’s run but I got it done and I hit some decent hills so it wasn’t a disaster.

On Thursday I may have pushed it just a little too much on the 1 mile repeats but I wanted to see how I felt compared to my other 2 mile repeat workouts. I pushed them about 10-15 sec/mi faster and my heart rate really shot up. I survived, though, and my hamstring was only a little angry the next day so no harm. One thing I find somewhat irritating about doing speedwork on the trail vs the track is that the trail appears to be flat but it’s not. I am learning to focus more and more on effort than pace, though, so that helps.

Speaking of HR, I have a plan for the marathon. As long of my resting heart rate is normal and I’m feeling good (and it’s not too hot — so far the weather looks like it’s going to be just fine) my goal is to settle in around 148-154bpm for the first 18 miles or so and then if I am feeling okay I’m going to push it up to the low 160s and let it rise up to 170 for the last few miles. Of course, if anything comes up (most likely with my left glute or hamstring) then I’ll just keep it easy and even walk.

With that said, I might as well post my goals:

A goal: < 4:45 (the cherry on top would be to run a negative split!)

B goal: 5 hours

C goal: finish

Not lofty but whatever. I’m not in this one to PR. I want to have fun and become a more experienced distance runner. Yippee!!

Now I need to figure out what I’m going to wear…

57th St. railroad crossing in Ballard (coming up from Shilshole)
57th St. railroad crossing in Ballard (coming up from Shilshole)

Training Update

NYC Marathon Training weeks 1 and 2 are recapped here. 3 through part of week 8 are here.

Warning: very detailed weekly progress reports ahead. I like to look back on them after a marathon to see where I need to make adjustments.

Week 8:

Tuesday: 6 miles easy in Portland (11:38 pace, 154 bpm)

Thursday: 6x800m w/ 400m recovery (time: 5:05,4:59,4:57,4:55,4:54,4:52)

Saturday: 4.2 miles easy (11:41 pace, 148 bpm) + Iron Strength workout (no plyometrics, no burpees)

Sunday: 12.3 miles easy (11:35 pace, 149 bpm)

Total Mileage: 28.9

Total Elevation 725ft


I’m glad it was a cutback week because I spent several days helping The Dot move into her (first!) apartment. There wasn’t a lot of heavy lifting or anything but just a lot of moving around and not a lot of time to rest. My long run was only 12 miles but it felt much longer, possibly because I took a new isolated route along Fisherman’s Terminal (the Queen Anne/Magnolia side of the ship canal) and back through The Locks. I don’t recommend this route due the number of tourists at The Locks.

Looking at the Ballard side of The Locks from Commodore Park

Week 9: 

Tuesday: 6 easy commute home (11:06 pace, 160 bpm)

Thursday: 3×1 mile repeats w/ 800m recovery (pace: 9:10,8:48,9:09)

Saturday: 5.1 miles easy (11:47 pace, 147 bpm)

Sunday: 16.2 miles easy (11:58 pace, 148 bpm)

Total Mileage: 33.8

Total Elevation: 1,073ft

Daily 60 second planks (forearm + assisted sides) and foam rolling


This was my most difficult week to date. I managed to do decent 3×1 mile repeats on speed workout Thursday but my supposedly easy Saturday run and my Sunday long run were just slow and painful. I yawned constantly and kept thinking about food and fluffy pillows (after eating breakfast and getting 9 hours of sleep). I finished the last mile of my 5 miler repeating “burrito, burrito, burrito, cheese!” and I had to run/walk the last few miles of my long run.

I didn’t get my bloodwork done but I really suspect I was suffering from anemia. I’ve been anemic before and that’s exactly what it felt like. I started back up on iron supplements right away and have been adding more red meat to my diet. Now, 2 weeks later, I feel 10x better.

Week 10:

Monday: 60 minute deep tissue massage

Tuesday: 6 miles easy commute (12:02 pace, 144 bpm)

Thursday: 12x400m repeats w/ 200m recovery (pace: 9:07,8:31,8:35,9:03,8:47,8:51,8:39,8:43,8:47,8:35,8:23,7:55) + Iron Strength Workout (sans burpees)

Saturday: 5 miles working on running form and cadence (11:16 pace, 152 bpm)

Sunday: Fast Finish Long Run (12 miles @ easy pace, followed by 10:30, 10:00, 10:04, 11:42 (big hill here), 10:25, 10:25 for a total of 18 miles)

Total Mileage: 36.2

Total Elevation: 1,312ft

Daily 60 second planks (forearm + assisted sides) and foam rolling


I started off the week with another massage. My hamstring has been feeling better and better (it’s still niggly but there’s progress) but my left inner calf and the bottom of my foot have been tight (I suspect it has to do with the hammy since they’re all connected — sometimes when I foam roll my hamstring I get a tiny electrical shock in my calf, ankle or foot near the areas of tightness. I’m a mess. Anyway, the masseuse reported that my calf was tight but not was bad as on my previous visit and I’m booked for a few more massages before marathon day. I feel like I’m staying just one step ahead of being knocked out of the marathon game. The massages are really helping me. So are taking my easy days REALLY EASY (aiming for 140bpm effort).

I finally felt confident enough about my progress to actually buy my plane tickets to New York. I am superstitious enough to think that booking plane tickets will cause an instant injury but *knock on wood* so far, so good.

Despite not having access to a track* I had a decent 12x400m workout on Thursday along the Burke Gilman Trail which is mostly flat and a confidence boosting fast finish long run on Sunday.

*In order to get my speed workout done I’d have to head to the track around 5am and wear night gear. I’m not even sure if the track is opened that early (it’s been open at 5:30 so it probably is). The track is super dark and I feel pretty vulnerable there by myself that early (and it’s set up so I really only have one exit). Additionally, now that school is back in session, students use it starting around 6:30am and also use it all afternoon/evening until it gets dark. Ah, I miss those carefree summer days where I had that track to myself.

Week 11:

Tuesday: 5 miles easy commute home (12:40 pace, 140 bpm) + 30 minutes squats/lunges/mountain climbers (with some plyometrics)

Thursday: 8x800m repeats w/ 400m recovery (time: 4:28, 4:20, 4:27, 4:28, 4:25, 4:24, 4:21, 4:17) + Intermediate Yoga for Runners (one of my favorite yoga videos — it’s long and at times a little boring but it’s hard and it really opens up my hip flexors)

Saturday: 5 miles easy (12:15 pace, 137 bpm).

Sunday: 20 miles (11:15 pace, 149 bpm).

Total Mileage: 38

Total Elevation: 1218ft

Daily: 60 second planks (forearm + assisted sides) and foam rolling


This week’s long run was way harder* than last week’s 18 miler. I tried to create a route that somewhat mimics the NYC course. A hill at the very beginning, another just after the halfway point and one towards the end. I started having a lot of left hip flexor pain during the middle hill (the Sunset Hill 250′ climb is no joke!). At first it was just my usual hamstring stuff but then my upper quad and glute kept tightening up and I had to stop a few times to do quad and hammy stretches. Later, my feet started hurting. Nothing specific, they were just tired. I did manage to keep a pretty steady pace and my heart rate stayed pretty low, even at sub 11 pace (which is “FAST” for me, heh). The last mile was a mad rush home to use the bathroom. Bleh.

*To be fair, I had to stop and pee 4 TIMES on my 18 miler so I took a lot more rest breaks than I did on my 20 miler (just one stop).

I really, really love speed work day. My form gets better when I speed up and little pains and niggles that I’m having usually disappear when I up my pace. So why do I run so many slow runs? Endurance. Gotta build it! I’m marathon training!! Anyway, I loved this week’s 800s and am actually looking forward to my next set (10x800m in a few weeks).

I also really enjoyed getting in a good yoga session. I usually have to talk myself into doing the long 90 minute session but once I get through the initial tough hip work I really enjoy myself and feel so relaxed at the end. I hope to get at least 4 more sessions in before the marathon.

I got 2 mosquito/bug/spider bites (or got stung by a bee) during Thursday’s run. One of the bites (on my bicep) had a really strong reaction (a 4″ rash with a stripe shooting up to my shoulder). I had a similar reaction to a bite last month on my quad. Long story short, my doctor now wants me to carry an EpiPen just in case my body is starting to become allergic to bites. Those pens are huge. There is no way I’m carrying one during runs.

I’m having a shoe debate. I love my new Altra One 2.5s and have had zero neuroma issues with them but I haven’t run more than 6 miles in them. I would love to wear them for my marathon but I just can’t trust that they’ll work out for me in the long run (heh. punny.) I could try to do a long run in them but I’d have to either bring an extra pair of shoes with me to change into if I have issues or run near home which would be a total bore (plus once I aggravate my neuroma it usually stays aggravated even after a shoe change). I like my Altra Paradigms okay for their cushioning but I hate that they’re kind of ugly. Yes, I am debating between pain prevention and looking cute.

I got the new Run Fast. Eat Slow. cookbook last weekend. I’ve been taking (mostly unflattering) photographs of the stuff I’ve made so far (posted on my Instagram). Feeling strong. Feeling healthy.

Finally, my new running mantra is “tuck in the butt, squeeze the glutes!” It’s a form thing. And no, I don’t say it out loud.


Training Progress (and Oregon Shenanigans)

Just an update on how marathon training is going. In my last entry I recapped weeks 1 and 2. Here are weeks 3-7ish.

Week 3:

Mileage: 25, Elevation: 1129ft, Iron Strength workout: 1 hour


I tried out some Nike Flex RNs but they are a no go. Neuroma fail. But they make excellent walking shoes. They’ll serve as my walking commute shoes until the rains come in.

Week 4:

Mileage: 23, Elevation 837ft, IS workout: 1 hour


I had a lot of fun doing hill repeats and my hamstring was okay with them. 4x60s repeats at 5K pace (whatever that is). I ended up with 9:30,8:49,9:25,9:29. It felt good to finally do something “fast” and hilly at the same time, even if for just 60 seconds.

Week 5:

Mileage: 27, Elevation 915ft, IS workout: 1 hour


I did my first early morning run due to heat. 6x60s hill repeats (9:43,9:36,9:44,10:03,9:38,9:03).

Beautiful moon as the sun rose:


I had a horrible Iron Strength workout. It was too hot to workout in my bedroom so I worked out in the basement office. Turns out a shag rug full of cat hairs is not a good place to put a sweaty body. Gross.

Week 6:

Mileage: 30, Elevation: 1083ft, IS workout: 45 minutes


Another early morning run. 8x60s hill repeats (9:38,9:35,9:32,9:30,8:57,9:25,9:25,9:19).

Half-assedly did my Iron Strengh workout. Not feeling the love for burpees (but I did manage 6 real pushups and 2 full sets of jumping lunges).

Hit 500 miles on my first pair of trusty Altra Ones (I really want to retire them but my other Altra Ones bug my neuroma so I ordered new One 2.5s to see how they work out).

Week 7:

Milage: 33, Elevation 476ft, IS workout: NOPE


Deep tissue massage the day after a 14 miler, focusing on my left hamstring (and the other muscles going down my leg that it’s making angry). OH YEAH. Nothing more to say about it except it was magical and the rest of my runs that week were on point.

Tried out my new Altra One 2.5s for just .8 miles. They felt great and no neuroma pain but I didn’t run long enough to feel fully confident in them yet. Will put them to the test this weekend while I stay close to home (in case I need an emergency shoe change).

Vespa doesn’t need no stinking shoes.

Started track work. 10x400m repeats with 200m recovery. These felt easy and smooth. The plan called for 5K pace. My recent 5K PR pace is 8:05 but that was pre-hamstring-injury-plus-the-major-slow-o-rama-of-2016 so I shot for 8:30-8:45. They felt just right (9:03,8:59,8:35,8:39,8:43,8:43,8:47,8:35,8:27,8:27).

I ran at elevation in Bend, including the Sunriver Half Marathon. I definitely didn’t race it (finished in a humble 2:18) and felt pretty good despite having to continue on for another 3 miles. Had a post race beer and recovered quickly.


Bob didn’t run the race but he did show off by finishing 20 miles before my 16 and then drank my race beer (I gave him permission and he bought me one when I *FINALLY* finished).

Week 8: in progress


I ran for the first time in Portland!! (if I don’t count the Rock n Roll Half and the Portland Marathon). The path along the Willamette is really nice and I love the Steel Bridge crossing. I have to do 16 miles there next month while Robert runs the Portland Marathon. I might just circle over the Steel and Hawthorne Bridges about 5 times.

I had another speed workout this morning and it wasn’t good at all (except I saw a really cute cat and we made eye contact. love.). I’ve only foam rolled twice in the last 7 days and my left hamstring felt like it was half the length of my right when I got up this morning. I should have stretched it out but I was too busy trying to program in my workout and sync it with my watch (I was too lazy/busy last night to worry about such things). I cracked up when my watched beeped at me for my first interval. “Run 497.xx miles…” It turns out that I had typed in 800km instead of 800m. Oops. Nothing a cute little LAP button can’t fix. Goal pace was 10K. No idea what that is so I guessed and picked 9:00-9:10. Not even close. I ended up averaging 9:30 pace. For people who know what Yasso 800s are here are my times: 5:05,4:59,4:57,4:55,4:54,4:52. Not good! That equates to about a 5 hour marathon. Boo! I have a few more Yassos to do before the marathon. Let’s see if better foam rolling and more rest will make it easier for me to put some power into my legs.

Coming up: This week is an easy step back week (about 28-29 miles total) followed up by another build-up week (and another scheduled deep tissue massage. Ahhhhh.)

I run for beer.


NYC Marathon Training

Hey there! There isn’t much going on these days. We’re planning on spending a lot of money on our house in the near future (much needed repairs of neglected items). We’ve been doing lots of research about windows, exterior paint, landscaping, etc. I’ll post more on that later.

Now back to running! I finished my base building (averaging about 20 easy miles per week with one long run) and have started training for the New York City marathon (November 6th). My hamstring is still buggy and I am running slower than I ever have but I’m enjoying just being out there. I just realized that I’ve run all of 2016 with my Garmin set to only show overall distance, time and heart rate. I’m not sure if I’ll switch back to looking at pace. I guess I’ll need to when I start doing speed work…

My training plan is a 16 week plan from Runner’s World. It’s a pretty easy plan with the goal to get me to the start line healthy and get me to the finish line, hopefully still healthy. It’s not an ambitious plan and I don’t have any goals for a PR or any specific finish time, really.

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 10.50.17 AM

Week 1 was super easy (sort of) because it was just the same routine I’ve been doing all summer. The only real change came on Thursday (a hillier route).

Mileage: 20

Total elevation: 755ft

Other: Iron Strength workout – 1 hour

*About that Iron Strength workout… The one issue I had was not respecting the difficulty of this particular workout. I decided to do it on Friday (the day after my hill day) and I went at it with gusto. Well, gusto for about 15 minutes, that is. Then I fell apart. It was a huge mistake to attempt jumping lunges. Huge. I barely managed to do 3 burpees at the end. You know you’re going to be sore when you can’t even walk downstairs 2 minutes after completing a workout. My Saturday and Sunday runs were a slog (I think I had a few < 13 minute miles). My right quad took about 5 days to fully recover.

For Week 2, I started what I hope to be a regular Tuesday routine. Running commute (one-way; I’ll bus in in the morning). I live 5 miles from work so the Tuesday easy run fits in with this perfectly. I got a Gregory Maya 10 pack which can hold up to 15lbs of gear but I was able to keep it down to 5lbs with a small water bottle and a change of clothes. It was pretty hot the day I ran home and I also read my training plan wrong and only ran 4 (and walked the last mile) but overall I had a good run. The pack felt great! I also moved the Iron Strength workout day to Tuesday since I’ll be home early enough that I can get the workout done and still have plenty of time to make dinner and relax.

Awkward selfie with the new commuter pack

For my 2nd attempt at the Iron Strength workout I took it a lot easier. I cut back on plyometric jump squats and did all the lunges static. I was able to finish 20 ugly burpees this time and only my abs (from side-planks) felt sore the next day.

Mileage: 23

Total elevation: 902ft

Other: Iron Strength workout – 45 minutes

I have mixed feelings about my 3rd marathon attempt. I’m going into it injured and slower than ever. I’m not very optimistic about how I’m going to feel when I start doing longer runs and I’m even less optimistic about finishing the marathon without having another hip or IT band issue. On the other hand, I’m kind of looking forward to not shooting for any special time. Allowing myself to walk and have a lot of fun might be exactly what I need this time around. Of course, I need to be realistic and bow out if it’s too much for my body to handle right now. I can always defer to 2017 and run “with” Robert.


Long time, no bloggy-blog

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!!

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 4.51.43 PM
Sadly, nobody beered me!! This was my slowest half to date but I thoroughly enjoyed it — an excellent, well organized race despite having 27,000 runners.

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.

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 10.35.25 AM
The Boy graduated. Doesn’t he look excited?



MAF training, my hamstring, and The New York City Marathon

I delayed posting this until I could get my 2nd MAF test done and it was a huge fail but I’m sticking with it for now.

Wait, didn’t I tell you about MAF? Here you go: The Maffetone Method.

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.

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 1.15.25 PM

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.

IMG_0030 IMG_0032 IMG_0034 IMG_0037

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

MAF #2 test on April 9th looked like this:

Mile 1: 14:33
Mile 2: 15:21
Mile 3: 15:36
Mile 4: 15:41
Avg HR: 124
Max HR: 132

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.

  1. 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.
  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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 1.04.53 PM

Last thing.

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 11.57.38 AM

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.

Well, that didn’t turn out very well.

What did really easy running get me? An injury.

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.

Lake Sammamish Half Marathon. 2:11:58. Not my fastest but not my slowest. Happy to be running again.
Lake Sammamish Half Marathon. 2:11:58. Not my fastest but not my slowest. Happy to be running again.

Really easy running. I like to call it the Seattle Shuffle.

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 herehere 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. 


2016 Goals

I think 2016 is going to be a pretty exciting year.

Robert’s running the Boston marathon in April and a few of our friends will be joining us there.

In May, we’ll be spending a week in NYC to attend The Boy’s college graduation and will follow that up with an epic cross country road trip.

This summer I hope to deal with some neglected house stuff like exterior painting and window replacement (have I mentioned that I paid The Boy’s final tuition payment???).

I’m going to up my domestic goddess skills by taking a few fermenting and organic gardening classes and might actually grow something this summer after skipping out last year.

My running goals for the year include PR’ing a half marathon, becoming a better endurance runner, and registering, at some point, for another marathon!

I have a few ideas in the mix for half marathons:

As for endurance I’ve been dabbling in a few new techniques:

  • Heart rate training. It turns out, that even though I’m a pretty slow runner, I should be running most of my runs a bit slower (more on this in another post).
  • More miles. More runs. Longer runs. Work up to about 40mpw as a base if my body can handle it.


Continue my twice a week core workout but add a little more weight and an extra set. Really focus on my glutes (because they were the troublemakers during both my marathons).

Get back to a weekly power yoga session. I always feel better after these are done (especially a day after a really long run).

Foam roll and stretch WAY MORE. I had this knee tweak that lasted for 2 weeks and I foam rolled my quad for 30 minutes. MY quad popped. It POPPED! And then the knee pain was gone.

Marathon plans:

Because I want to get better at endurance in general and build up my base I don’t have any plans for a spring or early fall marathon (yay for not marathon training all summer).

  • My first choice is the NYC marathon. I’m going to register enter the drawing and will find out if I got in this March (the chances are slim).
  • My backup marathon is CIM which opens registration (I think) before I find out about NYC so hopefully it won’t sell out in a week!
  • If neither pan out I’m sure I can find something out there or just take the year off while I continue to make running a part of my life without worrying about upcoming races.

Other random goals:

Finish the scarf I’ve been knitting for five years, learn to meditate, and read more.

New York City 2015

We visited The Boy this past week in NYC (ulterior motive was to watch the NYC marathon). I can’t believe this is his last year at NYU!

We took a red eye flight into Newark and then took the New Jersey Transit train into Penn Station ($13/person) and then caught a subway for our airbnb apartment in the West Village. I tried to be clever and buy the exact amount of subway rides so that the card would eventually have a $0 balance but somehow ended up with about $3.80 after 8 rides. I dunno.

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).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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 he 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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

Boo. Vacations always end too quickly.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.