Monday, December 15, 2014

What I Listen to When I Am Running

I confess, I need like to be entertained when I am running. I really don't enjoy listening to the sound of my breath and footsteps. Plus I like distractions to pass the time. I mean, I like running, but I also like to be done running, and if my iPod can make me feel like I'm done sooner, all the better.

There have been a few times when I've voluntarily run without earbuds and lived to tell the tale. There was one half marathon and a 15K (that I've done a few times) where headphones were banned and I obeyed the prohibition. When I did the McKenzie River 50K I ran the first 26 miles without music. I felt like I needed to concentrate on the tricky footing of the trails without distraction. The rushing of the McKenzie River was the soundtrack of my run. I did turn on the music for a boost in the last five miles, though.

Occasionally when I have done speed work I have turned off the sound for the last lap (e.g. 400 meters) to see if I would run faster without music. Sometimes I did, but it may just have been because it was the last lap! Talk about noisy breathing and pounding heart, though. And sometimes I will mute the earbuds for a few minutes during a run because I feel like shutting off the noise, or I'll pause at a light and then leave it off for a few minutes. Just a variation on ways to pass the time.

For many, many years I ran with music, and only music, during every run. Then a few years ago, as I began training for marathons, I began to get tired of hours of music during long runs. Yet I needed to be entertained, more than ever, when I was running for two to four hours at a time. That is when I joined Audible (first book is free!) and started downloading books to listen to during long runs. I'll list some of the books I've enjoyed in a bit. I like memoirs--running, triathlon, other sports, and non-athletic memoirs. I've also listened to a few books for my book club (mostly books I've read years ago and don't want to necessarily sit down and read again, but want to refresh in my memory).

I will say one cautionary thing about Audible. You pay for a book credit every month, and I have actually accumulated more books than I can get through (I've also paid for books when their cost is less than the value of the credit). Occasionally I feel like I should cancel my subscription until I get through my library.

In the couple years or so I have also started listening to talk audio rather than music during shorter easy runs. I generally listen to podcasts (more below) or sometimes radio shows with an app on my phone. I keep this mostly to easy runs because I do naturally run a little slower listening to books or chat than listening to music.

I save music for specific purposes where I really take advantage of its energy. I like it during speed work, tempo runs, and of course, races. I also like to switch to music in the last one to three miles of a run (depending on the length of run). That helps give me a finishing kick!

I will admit that I listened to talk instead of music in a couple marathons where distracting my mind felt more necessary than speed (of which I had little anyway). During the Kauai Marathon my head started out in a bad space (for various reasons), and my music was annoying me. Thanks to the time difference in Hawaii, I was able to turn on KIRO radio and listen to two hours of Seattle Kitchen, plus at least an hour of another talk show. I did go to music to finish up, and after that mental break I enjoyed the music's boost. During the Mount Desert Island I listened to an hour podcast for miles 18-23, and then I was ready to kick to the finish.

If you would like to explore some audio ideas, here are books and podcasts I've enjoyed. Sorry I can't do a link to everything (that would take all night), but you can look up the books (you might just want to read them, which is actually faster than listening, but hard to do while running), and you can find the podcasts on iTunes.


Books

I have listened to these books while running, cycling on a bike trail, walking, and long car drives. Many of them I have read as well as listened to (which is good because sometimes my mind wanders while listening). A few I have read, then purchased the audiobook, but haven't yet listened to the audio (but know the book was good). There are a lot more in my library that I'm not listing because I haven't read or listened to them yet. (Also, there are a lot of other running books and memoirs I've enjoyed that aren't available on audio, or at least I haven't found them.) The books here are not listened in any order of preference.

Running Books

Run! Dean Karnazes
50/50 Dean Karnazes
Ultramarathon Man Dean Karnazes
The Extra Mile Pam Reed
14 Minutes Alberto Salazar
My Life on the Run Bart Yasso
The Longest Race Ed Ayres
Running Ransom Road Caleb Daniloff
The Long Run Matt Long
Eat and Run Scott Jurek
A Race Like No Other Liz Robbins (this is about the NYC Marathon)
Running With the Kenyans Adharanand Finn
Born to Run Christopher McDougall


Triathlon Books
I don't do triathlons, but I've found these books fascinating and fun!

A Life Without Limits Chrissie Wellington
Can't Swim, Can't Ride, Can't Run Andy Holgate
Triathlon for Everywoman Meredith Atwood
Iron War Matt Fitzgerald
You Are An Ironman Jacques Steinberg
Finding Ultra Rich Roll

Miscellaneous Memoirs and Other

Wild Cheryl Strayed
Orange Is the New Black Piper Kerman
I Feel Bad About My Neck Nora Ephron
I Remember Nothing Nora Ephron
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake Anna Quindlen
Seriously, I'm Kidding Ellen Degeneris
Bossy Pants Tina Fey
A Walk in the Woods Bill Bryson
Catch Me if You Can Frank Abagnale
Diet Cults Matt Fitzgerald
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe Fanny Flagg (This was a book club book; I first read it about 20 years ago, and thought the audio version was lovely!)

Podcasts

Podcasts are great for running, as they tend to be about 30-60 minutes long, good for three to six mile runs or so. Even better if they're a little longer, in case your six mile run takes longer than an hour! I listen to podcasts for entertainment, and if they are preaching certain theories or philosophies, I take all that with a grain of salt. Depending on the podcast, you might get new episodes weekly, occasionally, or even more than once a week in some cases. But luckily any podcast that is new to you will have a backlog of episodes.

Podcasts I listen to regularly

Another Mother Runner
Diz Runs With (somewhat new to me, but I've listened to a few)
The Marathon Show (no longer producing new episodes, but there should be tons of old ones to access)
Marathon Training Academy
Runner Academy
Everyday Runners
NPR-Wait Wait Don't Tell Me (when I don't catch it on the radio). (I don't always want to listen to this running, sometimes I feel it makes me slower than other podcasts. Especially that time I listened to an interview with Al Gore near the end of an 18-miler. I literally had to turn it off so I didn't stop entirely.)

Newish-to-me podcasts that I have been exploring
Ultra Runner Podcast
The Running Lifestyle
Finding Ultra with Rich Roll

The one you should go listen to right now, if you haven't already
SERIAL from This American Life

Tomorrow morning I'll be listening to 57 minutes of Another Mother Runner!



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Saturday, December 6, 2014

CIM Weekend (I'm not there)

In Sacramento, hundreds (thousands, probably) of runners are finishing up at the CIM expo, anticipating a pre-race pasta dinner tonight, laying out running gear and planning strategies for CIM tomorrow. (That's the California International Marathon, by the way. Folsom to the State Capitol.)

I'm not one of them. I should have been. I could have been. I paid to be and I'm not seeing that money ever again. But thanks to my injury-caused two month hiatus from running this summer, I'm in no shape to run 26.2 miles right now. Certainly not at the quality level that I had planned for CIM. I ran a half marathon last weekend at least a minute per mile slower than I wanted for CIM. And I'm pretty sure I would not even be able to sustain that pace for a full marathon.

In reality, if I tried to run a marathon right now I would certainly be shuffling and walking in the later miles, and I might hurt myself or otherwise damage my chances of getting back into good marathon shape sooner rather than later. I would also put a big damper on my good feelings about CIM. In 2009 it was my Boston Qualifier, PR, and first marathon ever. I have always believed that if I were able to beat (or match) that time, it would be at CIM. So that dream is still alive. Just waiting.

I accepted that I wouldn't be able to do CIM back in September, after I'd been back to running for a few weeks and could see that my comeback would not be miraculous. But I didn't actually bite the bullet and completely cancel my plans until this week. Of course the race entry is not refundable or deferrable. I could still toe the starting line tomorrow, if I were in California. But I had a very expensive luxury hotel reservation that needed to be cancelled (not something I want to pay for by accident!)

And then there were plane tickets. Luckily flights to Sacramento are cheap, relatively. I had purchased flight insurance for my parents and myself, thinking my dad's health might require them to cancel (with no expectation that I would have a problem). But I think trip insurance is the biggest rip-off in the world. When I was looking at the policy* I am pretty sure that it excludes having to cancel a trip because a leg injury required me to drop out of a race. I think that particular situation is actually spelled out in the rules. It is possible that my parents' tickets may be covered, as long as his medical issues are not a pre-existing condition. But on the other hand, who knows if I cancelled their tickets in the right way to collect. We haven't tried yet.

Now, even though the cheap Alaska tickets are non-refundable, Alaska does allow you to cancel and apply the value to another ticket within a year, minus a $125 fee. So I will be able to use it against another flight next year. Unfortunately, the credit expires before CIM next year, so I won't be able to use it for next year's race. Which sucks a little bit. (And I'll only have about $100 left after the fee. But it's something.)

About a week before Thanksgiving, I was browsing the CIM Facebook page and website (as you do), and I learned that although marathon spots can't be refunded or deferred, marathon entrants can transfer to the relay and get a refund of the marathon that way. The relay has four legs, varying from about five to seven miles. CIM had a "friend finder" on their Facebook page, where people could meet up with others looking to form a team.

On the day I found this, there were at least two possible teams I could request to join. I did some additional research and found a cheaper but well-located hotel that would have a room for me, and figured out that by paying the $125 fee, I could change my plane ticket to a shorter weekend so I wouldn't miss work on Friday.

But I waffled. I wasn't sure if I should do it. I wasn't sure if I wanted to. This was before the Seattle Half Marathon, so I hadn't yet tested myself on a longer race distance. (One of the relay options was to run two legs, essentially a half marathon.) I looked at the Friend Finder page several times a day. My opportunities to join a team dwindled. The price of the alternate hotel went up (a little). The airfare went up so I would have to pay something in addition to the change fee. I started scheduling things at work that would be difficult to miss if I were gone.

The window was closing. On Thanksgiving weekend I slammed it shut and walked away.

This weekend, instead of flying to Sacramento, I watched the Pac-12 championship game on TV. This morning I ran a 5K in Burlington (the Skagit Jingle Bell Run). Tomorrow morning I will run 10 miles. I will probably think about the CIM runners. (Also the Tucson Marathon runners, which was my December marathon last year.) I'll probably watch the Seahawks game. (Last year my dad and I couldn't watch the Seahawks game in Tucson after the marathon, because they didn't air it in Tucson!) (Don't know if it will be on in Sacramento.)

The thing is, I'm not a person who is willing to run a marathon inadequately trained just to say I did it. I read about those people all the time in blogs and on Facebook. Good for them, if that's what makes them happy. When I run a marathon I want to give a strong effort, and have the ability to give that strong effort. Sometimes that effort will result in a slow or unsatisfactory result. Probably it will result in a slow result, but most of the time it won't be unsatisfactory. Because I know I am prepared and I've given what I can on the day.

Which is why I won't be running CIM tomorrow.


*That would be looking at the policy to see if I could collect. Not looking at it prior to purchasing the trip insurance.


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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Four Things

The latest blog survey going around has you list four things in a series of questions. Of course I am jumping on the bandwagon because, as Bridget Jones would say, "I love quizzes!" I will try to restrain myself to the mandated four things....

Four names that people call me other than my own
KT
Counsel
Ms. Brice (my law partner, sometimes judges get us mixed up)
Kretchen (this is what my mother used to call both me and my sister, Gretchen

Four jobs that I have had
Babysitter
Summer cleaning crew
Temp worker (receptionist type jobs)
Law Clerk for a judge

Four movies that I have watched more than once
Bridget Jones's Diary
When Harry Met Sally
Sleepless in Seattle
Notting Hill

(Honorable mentions: You've Got Mail, Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral. And I completely omitted Christmas movies; otherwise White Christmas, Holiday Inn, Miracle on 34th Street, and It's a Wonderful Life would top the list!)

Four books I'd recommend (oh there are so many!)
Iron War: Dave Scott, Mark Allen, and the Greatest Race Ever Run by Matt Fitzgerald
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
Moloka'i and Honolulu by Alan Brennert (yes, I snuck in two)
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

I restrained myself to only one running book! I have many more I could include. The others are all fiction. Even though my favorite genre is probably memoirs, my most intense reading experiences have been novels.

Four places I have lived
Tacoma, WA (college)
London, England (study abroad)
Washington, DC (internship)
Seattle, WA (law school)

Four places I have been
Five of the Hawaiian islands (Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, Kauai, Moloka'i)
England
Norway and Denmark
Scotland

Four places I have run marathons (I added this category)
Boston (Boston Marathon)
Bar Harbor, ME (Mount Desert Island Marathon)
Minneapolis-St. Paul (Twin Cities Marathon)
Hawaii (Honolulu Marathon and Kauai Marathon)

Four places I'd rather be right now
London
Hawaii (any island)
I can't really come up with anything else...it might be easier if I were doing this at work instead of home! As it is, any other option would require me to go out into the cold and change out of my sweatshirt and yoga pants, so....

Four things I don't eat (This one is hard because I pretty much eat anything and everything, but....)
Lutefisk (this is a Norwegian cod dish, and I just don't like it...but I could eat it if I needed to)
Pumpkin pie (I don't like it, but I made a pie with Kabocha pumpkin, and it's pretty good!)
Tapioca or rice pudding (I think it's a texture thing)
Liver, heart, gizzards (I don't think I like these things, but maybe with the right preparation....)

Four of my favorite foods
Wild Alaskan Salmon
Chocolate
Sweet Potatoes
Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries (possibly tied with watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew)

Four TV shows I watch
The Middle
The Goldbergs
Modern Family
Black-ish

Pretty much keeping ABC Wednesday night in business--I DVR them and watch throughout the week if I don't watch on Wednesday. I also watch Once Upon a Time on Sunday nights and Hot in Cleveland on DVR (so bummed it's been canceled). And Orange Is the New Black on Netflix (I only watch about one episode a week so I haven't binged through the whole series yet!)

Four things I am looking forward to
Maui trip in January
Vancouver Marathon in May
Going to see Wild, the movie, in December
Three running movies coming out in 2015! McFarland, USA (cross country, big studio, Kevin Costner, opening in February); Tracktown, the Movie (indie film set in Eugene, created by runner Alexi Pappas and her boyfriend/business partner); the Boston Marathon film, a documentary directed by Jon Dunham. Exciting!

Four things I am always saying
"Jeez Louise"
"Awesome"
"What?" (People mumble.)
"Grande Americano, light room."

So there you go. A few of my favorite things. What are your four things?

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ten Years

It's been ten years since my last blog post...not really. It just seems that way. I really fell off blogging, mostly because of computer struggles. My iPad app wasn't working, my laptop at work was dying (finally replaced a few months ago), and uploading photos seemed to get harder and harder. My adult ADD would not tolerate sitting around trying to make things work.

But I did get the new laptop, my iPad is all updated, and I don't know about pictures yet but we'll see how that goes. If I ever write another post after this.

Here's a super quick running update for 2014. I started working with a coach in hopes of regaining some speed (I was really burned out after all the fall marathons on 2013). I made some decent progress in the spring with strong half marathons. Then I ran the North Olympic Discovery Marathon on June 1. I thought I had the potential for improvement over 2013. Turns out I did not. My 2014 time was virtually the same as 2013--actually three minutes slower but I'm giving myself a break because they changed the course so that the first half was quite a bit harder than before. I think my second half might have been faster this year than last. But that hardly matters, my overall performance was basically mediocre (4:31). Still, that was substantially faster than my last three marathons in 2013. And even though the NODM course was harder (I would call it a moderately difficult marathon overall), it is beautiful, and fun, and I would recommend it to anyone. I probably won't run it again because my fate seems pretty much sealed as to time. I wouldn't mind running the half, though. And I'd be happy to take another trip to the Olympic Peninsula.

NODM was on June 1, and I took a week off to recover, then started running again. Then I hurt my knee. I still feel it's ridiculous that I trained for and ran a marathon (not to mention 15 marathons before that) with no problems, and somehow got injured in a minor training run. To try to make a long story short, I tried to keep running after my knee hurt, I probably made it worse, I saw my doctor, a PT, a sports doc, had X-Rays and an MRI, and was tentatively diagnosed with a meniscus tear than was probably more due to wear than traumatic injury.

So for the rest of June and all July, I stopped running. I used the elliptical like it was my job (ask me about elliptical workouts that will kick your butt), started bike riding long distances, went to weekly spin classes, and even went swimming sometimes on weekends when it was hot enough. And did PT exercises, core work, and yoga. (Still, I managed to gain a few pounds over the summer.)

In August I was able to start run-walking. Running was so hard! My legs felt heavy and foreign to me. Eventually it got easier and I was able to run "normally" (though slowly) starting about in September. I'm up to 13 miles and on November 30 I'm doing the Seattle Half. With no expectations. Over the summer I had to miss four half marathons that I had registered and paid for. Two of them I was able to transfer the registration to someone else, but Seattle RnR and Portland were a complete loss.

I am also registered for a marathon in December, but I'm not going. It breaks my heart a little bit (not just because of the money down the drain), but I am not a person who is willing to go just do a marathon when I'm not properly trained. I know lots of people do.

Also, this was supposed to be my big attempt at a long lost marathon PR, after a summer of hard training. That didn't happen (not as far as running goes), and I don't want to ruin my positive, optimistic feelings about CIM being my best chance for a fast marathon. Maybe it will be next year.

This has gotten really long, and I haven't even gotten to the topic from my title. "Ten Years." Ten years ago, November 2004, I was 39.25 years old and I decided to change my life (health and body-wise) by the time I turned 40. I'd actually had it in mind for a while, but (of course) procrastinated until pretty much the last minute. I don't know why this time it worked when it hadn't before, but over the next nine months I lost about a hundred pounds (estimating wildly here), and then after my 40th birthday continued on until I was about 10 pounds less than I am now. By the time I was 40 I was running and walking a lot on the treadmill. I took up outdoor running the following year, and haven't looked back.

How's that for covering my whole topic in one paragraph?



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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

And so ends 2013...

Also known as the year I became a slacker blogger! Okay, don't mean to start on a negative note. Maybe my one resolution for 2014 will be to write more!

I can't remember if I made any 2013 resolutions. Basically I just wanted to live my life well, run, be healthy, nothing super exciting. I hope I didn't plan to run faster. Well, I probably did, because I ended 2012 pretty slow. I was both faster and slower in 2013. All of my 2013 marathons were faster than my slowest 2012 marathons, but my fastest 2013 marathon (NODM - 4:28) was slower than my fastest 2012 marathon (Eugene - 4:21). And I'm pretty sure that my average half marathon time was slower this year. Only one under two hours (Heroes' Half), a couple 2:00 (Whidbey, Portland Rock & Roll) and one 2:02 (Mercer Island).

I did set a goal of running 13 half marathons in 2013. I thought that was such a clever idea--turned out it was a thing. Everyone was doing it. In the end I ran 15. So two don't count (I'm counting them as long runs because in each I ran extra miles before and after to make 20-21 miles).

Here are the half marathons of 2013 (the ones that "don't count" are in parentheses):

January 20, 2013 - Maui Oceanfront Half Marathon - 2:09:50
February 27, 2013 - Birch Bay Half Marathon - 2:08:19
March 24, 2013 - Mercer Island Half Marathon - 2:02:12
(March 30, 2013 - Cupcake Run - 2:06:32)
April 14, 2013 - Whidbey Island Half Marathon - 2:00:31
April 28, 2013 - Heroes' Half Marathon - 1:58:37
(May 12, 2013 - Kirkland Half Marathon - 2:06:56)
May 19, 2013 - Portland Rock &Roll Half Marathon - 2:00:10
June 22, 2013 - Seattle Rock & Roll Half Marathon - 2:09:49
July 27, 2013 - Anacortes Art Dash Half Marathon - 2:04:34
August 10, 2013 - Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon - 2:21:41
September 29, 2013 - Bellingham Bay Half Marathon - 2:10:14
October 13, 2013 - Biggest Loser Half Marathon Seattle - 2:07:59
October 27, 2013 - Snohomish River Run Half Marathon - 2:12:50
December 1, 2013 - Seattle Half Marathon - 2:13:44

I ran four marathons in 2013.

June 2, 2013 - North Olympic Discovery Marathon - 4:28:19
September 1, 2013 - Kauai Marathon (Hawaii) - 5:09:23
October 20, 2013 - Mount Desert Island Marathon (Maine) - 4:53:38
December 8, 2013 - Tucson Marathon (Arizona) - 4:44:05

I did a bunch of 5Ks and 10Ks, one 5-mile, one 12K, two 15Ks, and one 30K. None of them were PRs. I didn't expect them to be. It's all good. (That really should be one of the phrases of 2013 that is retired in 2014!)

My total mileage for the year is something over 1,850 miles. I'm not sure of the exact number because I lost track of a couple runs with my non-functional Garmin. But that's about right.
One of the reasons I have many unfinished posts is that I want to add pictures and it is such a pain (to get them onto the computer, not to upload them into the blog post). I had several pictures to put in here but...it's too much of a pain. So here is one picture to end the year, the finish of the Kauai Marathon. (It may have been slow, but it was sort of awesome!)
I have some plans for 2014...but that will be for another post.

Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tucson Marathon - Last Marathon of 2013

On Sunday I ran the Tucson Marathon.* Since I finished before noon, I can legitimately say it was morning. The marathon started at 7 a.m. But I was up at 4 a.m. and got on the bus from the hotel to the start before 5. The drive up took about 45 minutes. Luckily we were allowed to stay on the buses as long as we wanted, which was good because it was cold out! Not bitterly cold like at home, or in other parts of the country where marathons were cancelled due to snow and ice, but it certainly felt cold. I heard later that it was around 40 degrees up at the start, but there was a cold wind that certainly brought the "feels like" temperature much lower.

Which leads me to my primary topics--"What Went Well" and "What Could Have Been Better"!

What Went Well

I dressed appropriately for conditions. This was not as easy to accomplish as you would think. Even when I left home I was unsure how the weather would turn out. At one time they were projecting freezing at starting time and upper 50s by the end. As it turned out, it was probably in the lower 40s throughout. I went with capris, a sleeveless NuuMuu dress (with sunblock on my arms in case I got down to that layer), a light half zip over that (which I bought at the Expo, even though I had one with), a zip-up hoody which was supposed to be a throwaway layer, a running cap, gloves, and a warmer fleece jacket which I left in my drop bag. I started with the hood over my hat (the wind was cold) but was fine when the hood blew off after a couple miles. I took my gloves off for an early bathroom stop and carried them the rest of the way. My throwaway stayed on--comfortably--for 23 miles! At that point I took it off and tied it around my waist to save for future use. I pinned my bib on my fuel belt to accommodate changes of layers. My bare arms were never exposed.

My easy pace was good in the early miles. The beginning miles had downhills which I know helped my speed, but it also had some rollers. I was feeling strong then, though, and it didn't hold me back. I don't feel like I went out too fast. Miles 1-10 were all where I wanted them to be, except for mile 4 with a bathroom break, and one might say mile 6 was too fast but it felt okay, and I was catching the 4:30 pacer (a somewhat temporary endeavor). See--9:53, 10:04, 9:51, 12:23, 9:49, 9:12, 9:46, 10:02, 10:14, 10:18 (BTW, 10:18 is the pace for a 4:30 marathon.

Miles 11-17 were acceptable, given some hilly sections of the course and my "banked time" from the early miles. (Although I suppose you could say I had already used up the banked time with the bathroom stop.) Miles 11, 12, and 13 were out and back on Biosphere Road. Out was largely uphill. This was where the 4:30 pacer passed me, on the out. Although he was ahead of pace because I passed 13.1 at under 2:15, yet never caught up (while running, anyway). 10:44, 10:45, 10:24, 10:33, 10:29, 13:20 (another bathroom stop, ugh), 10:33. By the way, I saw the 4:30 pacer for the final time at that 15-mile bathroom stop--he was coming out of the porta potty I went into. Obviously he was off pace at that point. But I assume he is a naturally fast runner and would make up the time and catch up with his group, who were presumably staying dutifully on pace in his absence.

You could say miles 18-19 weren't bad, compared to what happened after that. 10:48 and 10:49. These miles had my first walk breaks, and I still stayed under 11 minutes. At that point.

I used walk breaks pretty well, and didn't get sucked into long walking spells. Which can totally happen. As in Honolulu. (Although in Honolulu at least I only had one, quick, bathroom stop.) Starting in Mile 18, through 24, I allowed myself one 30 or 60 second walk after the mile marker. Obviously I should have stuck with 30, but I succumbed to a little weakness. I also walked briefly in 2-3 aid stations while getting water. Once I combined this with my other walk, but there were a couple supplemental. The walking did slow me down. I honestly don't know what my splits would have been if I'd plugged through without walking. Miles 20-24 - 11:17, 11:09, 11:32, 12:19, 11:19. Miles 23-26.2 was a deviated course due to road work, and there were some evil hills as well as some hills that would have been easy if it wasn't the end of the marathon! I stopped walking after my break at the beginning of 24 but honestly you can't see the difference. Mile 25 was 11:20 and mile 26 was 10:47 (a bit of attempt to finish strong). I did finish strong in the final .42 mile at a 10:14 pace (back to goal pace, haha).

I used a podcast to get through the deadly middle miles from 15-ish to almost 22. I wasn't going to do this because I do think that I run slightly slower with audio than music, but the distraction value was worth the potential few seconds different. Plus, it made music seem fresh and uplifting when I went back to it at mile 22. I listened to The Marathon Show's latest episode, an interview with Gary Allen and Reno Stirrat, both of whom have run many sub-3 marathons. NOT like me. Gary Allen is also the founder of MDI Marathon.

I fueled...okay. I had a Gu around mile 8-9 and another around 13-14. In the upper miles I started to feel nauseous and didn't want Gu. I did have some Gatorade (just a few sips though). Somewhere after mile 20 I dug out another Gu and ate about half over a couple miles. Then I threw it away. I never felt like I hit the wall but obviously I did slow down.

What Could Have Been Better

Bathroom management. Obviously. I don't want to go into TMI details about what didn't happen before the start and what did in the lengthy stops, but although it was necessary at the time it clearly added several minutes to my time. I only went to the porta potty once before the start--I like to go three times. It was just too cold to spend an hour standing in lines. I stayed on the bus as much as I could. In an almost ideal marathon I would have one bathroom stop of about 90 seconds. I calculate these two totaled about five minutes.

Not fading after mile 18 (or 17). Although I slowed after mile 10, things didn't really get semi-ugly until near mile 20. Not unheard of. But I need to work on that. Especially if I plan to have a goal pace next year that's faster than 10:18, or 10:00, or 9:45....

Not walking. Although the walking was not a bad thing, I've run many marathons without walking at all. Why I have I succumbed to the walk?

Fueling better. An ongoing problem for me. Although, I will say that in my faster marathons I don't think I fueled any more than this one. I may have made it through three Gu's once or twice...maybe. Never the four I plan for.

Running through discomfort. Not bathroom discomfort, although there is a line there too between when to hold it and when not to. What I am really talking about is making myself hold on when running feels hard. It's great that mikes 1-10 felt easy at goal pace. Goal pace should feel at least sort of easy for as long as possible. But at some point, it's not going to. Somehow, I've got to get better at sucking it up.

What I'm Not Saying Is the Answer

Just running faster. Obviously that would be nice, but I trained for a 4:30 marathon at 10:18 pace (that would be the pace without bathroom stops), and the important thing is maintaining the range of that pace, not trying to run faster. When it's time to run faster I need to train for that.

In the end, I think it went well (enough).

My fastest marathon this year was NODM at 4:28, and my other two were much slower. Kauai was 5:09 and MDI was 4:53. This one? 4:44:05. This was supposed to be an easier course (and overall it was), with a lot of downhill (and it did have, although much was very gradual), but it was NOT easy and with the changes in the last three miles it was quite challenging. So I'm okay with finishing my last marathon of 2013 as my second fastest of the year.

P.S. I've tried to find some significance in the numbers--4:44-- but I can't. OH WAIT! (Honestly this just occurred to me.) This was my 4th marathon of the year, on the 4th anniversary of my first marathon, and I'm in my 49th year, which if you add the number together numerology style to get a single digit, it is 4. Yes, I had to stretch on that one. The first two came easily. So clearly, I was destined to run 4:44 today.

*Yes, I know I haven't blogged since October 8 (two months!). So many unfinished blog posts. Maybe someday I'll finish writing about Kauai, Mount Desert Island, Honolulu 2012....

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

My thoughts on marathon taper

I've just started a two week taper in anticipation of Mount Desert Marathon, coming up on October 20 in Bar Harbor, Maine. I often read about runners who don't like taper, who find it frustrating and difficult to get through.

That's not me. I embrace the taper! Maybe I'm just lazy and welcome an opportunity to cut back on running. But I don't think that's it. (I am lazy, but in other ways!) I actually do get restless on non-running days, or during the real rest period after the marathon is over. But tapering doesn't bother me.

It's not like you give up running during a taper. Just laying around for two or three weeks would truly be a problem and impact your fitness. Taper includes plenty of running, just in gradually decreasing amounts as the marathon date occurs.

Generally speaking, a taper is two or three weeks long. I actually prefer a three-week taper, even though I'm only doing two weeks this time, and did two weeks before Kauai. This is because my training period between Kauai and MDI was less than two months, so I didn't want to spend a great portion of it in taper. I had three months between NODM and Kauai, but somehow the two-week taper worked better for scheduling then too.

This is what a good three week taper looks like to me. (On non-running days, I generally continue to cross-train on the elliptical.)

Three weeks before the marathon - final long run of 20-22 miles. The week after that long run my weekday runs don't change, typically 6-8 miles three times during the week. If I am doing speed work and tempo runs in the training cycle, I would continue with them as well.

Two weeks before the marathon - long run is 13-16 miles. This is a great time to do a half marathon with a two-mile warm-up. You can either run at faster than marathon pace (there's still plenty of time to recover from a strong half marathon effort, as long as it isn't super hard) or practice running at marathon pace. Again the weekday runs would stay at 6-8 miles, though perhaps trend toward the lower end. I think it's fine to do a little speed work or a tempo run as well. I have been known to do a 5K on a Saturday one week before the marathon, if I am not doing a half that weekend.

One week before the marathon - long run is 8-13 miles. I would likely do 10-12 unless I am running a half marathon. I like to do a half marathon at marathon pace (if I didn't do one the prior weekend).

The final week before the marathon - in this last week it is time to reduce both duration and intensity of runs. I might do six miles on Monday, five on Wednesday, and four on Thursday. (Or, given my propensity to overdo, six, six, five.) If I want to do a little speed work I might do a few 400s on Wednesday (but only if I've been doing speedwork regularly). It is really important not to do anything that might cause lingering soreness or injury at this point. So no hill repeats or barreling down hills too fast. It's not a bad idea to do all your easy runs this week at marathon pace.

I like to take two days off running before a big race. That would mean cross-training (sort of easily) on Friday and real rest on Saturday. I am not one who likes to do a shake-out run the day before the marathon. (However, that might change a little this time around.) On occasion (like in Kauai), I did do my last short run just two days before, and then just have the one rest day. That was more of a travel and scheduling fluke than any plan on my part.

This time around I am doing a two-week taper, but my longest run (20 miles) was actually four weeks before the marathon. On Sunday I did my final long-ish run of 18 miles. The rest of my planned taper schedule looks like this....
  • Monday (yesterday) 6.5 miles at marathon pace (average 10:15, miles 3-6.5 were around 10-minute pace).
  • Tuesday - 53 minutes elliptical (I was short on time) and going to hot yoga tonight.
  • Wednesday - I'll do 6-7 miles at a moderate effort, hopefully averaging 10-10:30 pace. I'm also going to test wear my marathon outfit! That will give me time to wash it and pack before leaving for Maine.
  • Thursday - Planning an hour on the elliptical.
  • Friday - 6-7 miles at moderate effort.
  • Saturday - Yoga (not hot) and some time on the elliptical.
  • Sunday - Biggest Loser Half Marathon at marathon pace effort. What does that mean? Don't try too hard! Historically, I almost always try at least moderately hard in a half marathon (results may vary). I really want to work at a pace that I can sustain for further than 13 miles. Slow as that may be.

Next week I'll do about six miles on Monday, fly to Maine on Tuesday, five or six on Wednesday, and then a few (no more than five) on Thursday. Rest on Friday! The switch-up is that I'm doing a two-mile fun run on Saturday morning, en route to a pre-marathon breakfast. This will be my first stab at a shake-out run! Not something I plan to continue, it just worked out that way. Still plenty of time for rest after that. Hopefully with blueberry pancakes in my tummy.

My 18-mile run on Sunday went really well. I was determined to do 18 miles instead of another 20, because I feel like I recover really well from 18-milers and I didn't want to drag myself down so close to marathon date. After two slower warm-up miles I was running around 10-minute pace through mile 10. Then I slowed to 10:30ish for four miles, and finally finished the last four miles back at 10-minute pace. (Average overall 10:20.) At mile 17 my sister drove by on the way to my parents', so I told her to drive ahead a mile and wait for me. I had over-run the distance at the beginning and it was still an extra mile to my parents' house...and I didn't want to run that last unplanned mile.

Then we went to my parents' and ate lots of good brunch food. The end.