Retiring. Or, one last thing: the trials and joys of running in Florida

Hi there!

I disappeared off the reader for a few months, and I’m sorry about that. I just didn’t have a lot to write since the marathon in April, and even if I could have updated about my running, I sort of lost the motivation for this kind of blogging, what with virtual running teams and online running logs/social media sites abounding. There are so many other running blogs out there, far superior to mine, and I’ve decided it’s probably for the best that I retire the blog.

If there’s one of you who will actually miss my rather sweaty navel-gazing, I may post occasionally about running on my main channel.  Also, most likely in a few years when I start another running journey  (like training for an ultramarathon?), I’ll bring the blog out of retirement. Who knows?

At any rate, to take the bitter out of the sweet, I’ve collected a list of observations/tips about running in south Florida that you may appreciate. Some of these may be true for anywhere, but only all of them are true for Florida.

  1. Running outside in the summer (i.e. April to October) is hard. It’s either too humid before the sun comes up or too hot and sunny when the sun comes out. Pick your poison.
  2. Running outside in winter is awesome. However, on the two days it goes sub-40, one still shouldn’t forget the long pants, long sleeves and the gloves. It may not happen a lot, but the body still doesn’t like it.
  3. One can never make a mistake putting on sunscreen during any hour in the day. Even if it’s overcast, it could be sunny a few miles down the road.
  4. If it’s raining, it’s not always pouring. But if it’s pouring, it’s much harder to have a fun run.
  5. In the summer, one can almost set the clock by the afternoon thunder storm.
  6. The break in the humidity after said storms is over far too quickly.
  7. One needs to lower one’s expectations for speed sessions and races in the summer. At the same time, even if it’s not so bad on a particular day, the possible humidity is always a great excuse.
  8. Matching up race seasons to races in the rest of the nation is a curse for the cross country runner. It does make the out-of-state races that much more fun, though.
    I just realized 1-8 are all about the weather. Woops.
  9. There are very few natural hills here. On the other hand, there are an abundance of golf course mounds, overpasses and bridges. No excuses for that hill training!
  10. Run against traffic. Florida has one of the highest fatality rates for pedestrians in any state, with Miami-Dade and Broward having some of the highest in any county. One of the best ways to avoid being road-kill is to run against the traffic to move out of the way of oncoming traffic and stop in-time, if need be.
  11. and as a final note that’s both weather and non-weather related: It’s imperative to have a good water belt or hydration pack and/or know where the public water fountains are. The humidity means one loses a lot of water, and on the main streets, it’s pretty difficult to find water fountains. And parks often don’t open before dawn. I’ve been tempted to knock on random people’s doors before because of this.
  12. There is always the slight possibility that that log floating in the canal is not a log at all.
    alligator-1286215_960_720

And that’s it! Did I miss anything? Am I wrong about this all only being true for Florida? The list ended up being much less entertaining than I intended, but I guess there’s a reason I’m putting this one out to pasture!

Still, may the roads rise up to meet you and the wind be ever at your back.
Run strong and stay healthy,
Dorothea

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Week 15 (April 9-15): The week to end all weeks

Well, not quite. This is the penultimate week of marathon training, with next week being the WEEK of the MARATHON. Now, I know half of you are pumped about Boston and ready to see race recaps and how people deal with the not-so-pleasant weather conditions. However, don’t forget there about 10 of us running the London Marathon, Darß Marathon, and various other races the weekend following. 7 days, y’all.

But first, let’s recap the last 7 days.

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First of all, Spring has arrived. But also, taper miles:

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Longtime readers will recall that I ran a half marathon last Sunday, and all that lateral running sat in the muscles and I had DOMS through Tuesday. But then Tuesday, despite residual soreness, I couldn’t sit still any longer and went down for an easy run, followed by an easy run on Wednesday, followed by an easy run on Thursday… you know the drill. I actually meant to take Thursday off, but…SquadRunner points were at stake! Also, I had a mild case of depression and sometimes a run is enough to take care of that. It wasn’t, but it certainly didn’t make things worse. Friday was a warm-up run for Saturday, and Saturday, well, today, the wheels nearly came off.

First of all, no shot at the doctor’s yesterday. Turns out, she does do her job after all, and since I reported not feeling all that much better since last seeing her, she didn’t want to just put the bandaid on the issue, but decided she wanted to see my insides. So I’m having an MRI done of my back to help figure out if there’s a nerve being affected or whatever. Whatever being a scenario I don’t want to think about. I also have PT prescribed that should help get me some movements/stretches to help get this pain in the butt gone, and if that doesn’t work, she did say I could come back for a shot. At least for the marathon. Because running since March has been not so much fun.

Today’s ten milers, the last longish run before the race, the run that was supposed to make me feel confident and ready, just was no fun. First the arches hurt, which I fixed by stopping, untying the shoes, taking out the inserts, stretching the feet, putting the shoes back on, etc. Then I started feeling a pain in the top of the foot, near the toes… oh no!!! Oh no, that could be a stress fracture… hope it’s not a stress fracture. Um, yeah.

It’s probably not, though not totally out of the question yet, since the foot still hurt through the end of the run, through stretching and foam rolling and after going to take a shower. In the shower, I did a few stretches (I know, that’s so sexy), and then the foot did seem to feel a little better. At least it doesn’t hurt like it did. Here’s just to hoping that it was the shoes, since my ASICS Gel-Excites are still yungins.

Really, though, I just still have the same old pain in the butt. The one that the doctor says is caused by a pinched nerve in my back and that seems to be causing problems all throughout the back of the leg. The same one that has restricted my movements and makes me feel like I’m running in sand and can’t enjoy my runs every day. Apparently, what I have is not an injury by technical standards, since it seems to be a bio-mechanical problem that is only made apparent by running, but would exist anyway. This is probably true. Still, it feels like a running injury, because it makes me feel like running less would make it better. But that’s obviously not an option.

Today, I finally was faced with the possibility that the pain will be there for the marathon. And that I may not have the glorious feeling of a race and stored-up energy from carb-loading and tapering. I mean, I will probably feel that, but I’ll also probably be feeling the pain the entire time. And I need to be okay with that, if this race is even going to be a success. And while I don’t seem to be able to get rid of the pain, I can redraw my standards for what is meant as a “success.”

At this point, I should be grateful that I’m not injured. I can RUN next week. That’s a better scenario than the past two years. I’ve trained the full 15 weeks. I still had a decent run today (8:25 pace, though it felt really hard- part of which is due to the very mild cold I’m experiencing). And the race itself is in a beautiful part of Germany and the weather is supposed to be perfect. I should appreciate what I have.

Realistically, can I reach my goal of sub-3:30? Maybe? With a bit of luck and a lot of gumption, I could meet my goal. I won’t know until the 22nd what my body feels like doing. What’s that thing they say? You can’t control the situation, but you can control how you react to it. ? Well, that’s what I’ll do.

At this point, I have a two-pronged plan:

If I am feeling well after one more week of taper, about 3 (or 4, let’s see how I feel on Monday) days of  rest, one more week of getting used to the time zone and conscientious eating (i.e. carb-loading!), I am aiming for a sub-3:30, which is a 7:59 pace (or less) and for a podium-finish. gasp! I know, I didn’t mention this before, but now I’m putting it all out there. Last year’s race was won in 3:19 and third place came in 3:31:36 (it’s a really small race, ha ha). Now I’m not saying all I have to do is run sub 3:30, and I know that each race is dependent on who shows up and what the conditions are, but all I know is that if I’m aiming for sub-3:30 and I’m setting it as a goal to get third place, gosh darnnit, who is to say it’s impossible?

So there’s that.

On the other hand, let’s say I feel like I did today: sore butt, sore feet, and generally struggling to keep an 8:25 pace (or, this pesky half-cold becomes a legit one), my goals will be to go sub 3:45, sub 4:00, and if the worst comes to the worst, finish the thing. I mean, I’m getting a shirt, for goodness sake! I need to represent.

So, cheers. Here’s the last beer before the race, supplemented, of course, by 1.5 liters of water, and a few shots of the Berlin Half-Marathon! (you thought I was going to say whiskey, huh?)

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ha. Can you see all the work I should be doing, rather than blogging?

Week 14 Training (April 2-8): rests, birthday run, and a half marathon

There were a few highlights this week, but overshadowing the whole thing was generally feeling crummy. Didn’t I say I probably wouldn’t run until Thursday? Should have stuck to that… But who knows? Maybe a half marathon race was what I needed to reset and get back into gear for these last two weeks before the marathon.

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If you recall, I’ve been struggling through runs since the 22-miler. Really, I think it started when I ran a 1:41 half and then eight miles the next day (stupid, stupid!). But I took it really easy in week 13, and this week was a continuation. Despite having some decent runs every other day, none of them were the kind of effortless, fast runs I’ve had through week 11 of the cycle. Either I’m feeling marathon fatigue, feeling the taper, or warding off an injury. It’s probably the latter, but I keep telling myself it’s the former.

Still, all things considered, this was a good week! Or so I keep telling myself. This close to the marathon, positive self-talk is the best weapon I have against a breakdown in body and spirit. :-)

I traveled from Florida to Berlin on Tuesday and purposefully pushed the pace a little on Monday, knowing I would take a day off. I landed on Wednesday (trips from US to DE are usually overnight) and after unpacking and a nap, headed out for 8 miles. They were tired miles, but still felt decent. 9 mpm are normal after an international  flight, right?! On the other hand, I probably should have just used the extra day off, because Thursday, which was supposed to be a glorious birthday run celebrating 27 years of life, I couldn’t wait for the run to be done. I ran paths I hadn’t run before, though, and felt okay about it afterwards, but it was the slowest run I’ve done in a while.

Still, sushi and quiet celebrations seemed perfect afterwards.

Then came the shocker (though I anticipated it):  The Berlin Half-Marathon was happening on the 8th of April, and my brother wanted me to run in his stead.

So Friday and Saturday were standard pre-race fare: day off and 2 mile pre-run with strides.

See, my brother had expressed an early (October) interest in running the Berlin Half-Marathon, since colleagues were running it as well. Since he is not normally the active instigator of running or races, I held myself back and followed his cues on registering and training. Well, the registering never happened in time. By the time he got around to wanting to do it, the tickets were sold out (December?). So plan B: look on E-bay. I had switched my entry to the Munich Marathon in 2016, so I knew there were always people looking to buy or sell entries online. However, the annoying thing about the Berlin Half-Marathon (and I imagine the full that happens in Sept.) is that the entries are non-transferable, which means that what we were doing was kind of illegal. Apparently, the costs of having someone manage all the changes are too high for the SCC race-organizers. Psh. Whatever. It’s lame, because people can’t run for legitimate reasons and the race in also non-deferable, so if people can’t run, they are forced to either lose the money or, well, have someone run for them. The organizers even have a no-tolerance policy for packet pickup: the person registered MUST be the one picking up the bib. This means that a certain amount of coordination is needed as well. At least the SCC Event organizers got rid of the color-coded race bibs. The non-gender specific bibs would make it easier to find someone to race for (it also helps to find someone who has a name that is given to both boys and girls).

At any rate, since I was also interested in maybe running, I put out the call for me and my brother, got a few replies, and then decided I actually wasn’t keen on paying 60 Euro for a race two weeks before my “A” race. So I found a nice young lady who couldn’t run because of a confirmation happening in North-Rhine Westfalia, got everything organized for my brother to exchange starting packet and money on April 6th, and then watched my brother plan to train, fail to train, and wind down to race week with a pitiful look on his face. He really figured until last weekend he could maybe wing-it. But it’s 13 miles, I kept reminding him, The longest he’s done in the past two years was 5 miles. So he took my offer to run it for him after all. I’d pay half. So I ran the Berlin Half for 31 Euro.

map of Berlin half marathon

The course really is as advertised. If you recall, I’ve actually done the route from the TV at Alexander Platz through the Tiergarten to the Golden Else many a time, and I live in Berlin now, so some of the sites the race boasted for internationals were pretty standard for me. Still, it’s not everyday I get to run on the streets themselves! With other runners! And the weather was gorgeous!

It wasn’t all sun and awesome sites/people though. Since the girl I was was running for my brother for hadn’t done a half before, she/he/I ended up in block F, which was the last group to run. So while my net time was 1:51:26 (more on that in a few lines), my total time was 2:30:51!!! Seriously, I spent over 40 minutes standing around/slowly walking forward. My tracker had me at 17 miles for the day, and a lot of that was the small steps forward. But I could live with a delayed start. I could also live with the human obstacle course. I forgot that ending up further back meant ending up with runners with slower paces. I added 400 meters to the race by doing diagonals across the course, looking for gaps. I haven’t done a run like that in a while- and honestly, I don’t have to do that again anytime soon. I like being able to catch my stride and keep it, early on. Also, I was annoyed that the race took 6 hours out of my day… but I shouldn’t complain about that too much. Volunteers spent 5-6 hours on the course (I should know, I almost volunteered). It was a good last harder effort before my marathon.

The race itself was okay. I ran about an 8:10 pace with one restroom break and, as I mentioned, did a lot of lateral running, which I felt today in the legs. I can’t explain why I feel worse today than I did after the 20 and 22 mile runs, but I’m chalking it up to probably coming down with a cold and the post-jet lag and the continuing battle with sore butt and hamstrings. I used kinesio tape for the first time on my back and right leg, and got some weird looks because it’s not really a thing in Germany. I still haven’t decided if it actually works or if it is a placebo, but it worked as a placebo for me!

And the race atmosphere was on point yesterday. The people were happy, the sun was shining, and no attacks happened… though, ****. It’s a pretty dark world if one of the thoughts during the pre-race jitters in a crowd of happy, life celebrating people on a glorious sunning day is “what if something were to happen?” Thank goodness nothing happened yesterday. Though it’s not that it didn’t run through my head- and I had prepared for it. Five years ago, especially before Boston, I wouldn’t have thought twice about the dangers of running in someone else’s name. Yesterday though, one of my concerns was being able to be identified should anything happen. There was a space on the back of the bib for personal information and emergency contact info- you can bet my name and bro’s contact info were there is clear, bold letters. Okay, okay. I think it’s enough with the negativity, already.

If the Berlin Half-Marathon had been my goal race, the energy yesterday would have carried me to a PR, probably.It was incredible! But since I was using effort to not go fast and not injure myself, I was more mellow than anything. Had a few great moments, though! I am a little concerned about the effort it took to hold even a 8:10, if I’m aiming for 8 mpm for the marathon, but I won’t worry about that now. Now, it’s two weeks to the marathon, serious taper time and I’m going to try and get these niggles taken care of and out of the way by then. No stupid business!

Medal and Daffodils

I wonder, if marathons had been a thing in the 18/19th century, if Wordsworth would have run.

Cheers, and happy running,
Dorothea

Training Log for Week 13 (March 26- April 1)

Weeks like these make it possible to reflect on a week and a month at the same time.

Ideally, I’d have had a different week of running to report than I do now. My plan called for another peak week of running ending in the third 20+ miler of the training season. It was supposed to be the last harder week before a three week taper.

The body decided otherwise. It didn’t really like last week’s last long run, with its addition of garden work, and particularly complained in the upper part of the hamstring. I think I may have actually strained it and I decided to take off a few days. I made it to Tuesday before feeling like I should really get on the road again, and with a healed hamstring I had a few good runs. Then I found the bottom of my hamstring near my knee acting up, struggled through the rest of the week, and ended the week on a weak 10k and 30 miles.

I’m not complaining. Most plans call for a month of taper, which I’d say I accommodated pretty well with my 30 miles and lack of any workouts. It’s only my own pressure to have one more hard week that could make me disappointed in this week. Looking at the month overall, I had my second highest monthly mileage ever… just shy of 200 miles, and this included a good half-marathon race effort, two long runs, and all the workouts I was supposed to. If I can’t follow the plan to a “T” during taper, at least I’ve done all the hard work well beforehand, as a lot of you readers pointed out to me last time. Thanks again for the words of encouragement and advice!!

Looking forward, I’m flying back to Berlin on Tuesday, so I may or may not run until Thursday (which is also my birthday). I plan on taking it easy again this week and making it healthy to Sunday, when I may make a possible appearance in the Berlin Half-Marathon. Most of all, I plan on making it healthy to the marathon, which is now only 2 weeks and 6 days away!!

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In a slightly related note, being home in South Florida brought me to old stomping grounds. One of these is the longer-run route from my house to a Publix in Parkland, where my Dad always did some of the week’s shopping and which always made for a convenient pick-up. The route through these Parkland suburbs was always pleasant, a lot of mini-hills with ample shade and grass to run through (hard to find in South Florida!). And they took me past Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, 5 miles from my old home. It’s hard to describe the range of emotions I’ve gone through since reading that news slip on February 14th and the subsequent reports. There’s shock, anger, hurt, disbelief, sadness, and a bit of hope seeing the conversation around gun control discussed a little more productively than in the past. Not that there isn’t more to be done- more ways of having constructive, civil conversation and actually seeing change that both sides can agree on, and this isn’t my political blog site, so I won’t expound on my opinions here. I can only say that these beautiful sunny skies continue to be tainted by the shooting at MSD (not Parkland High School, as I’ve noticed many are calling it-there is actually no such school), and it will probably take a lot of time to continue to heal from this. But seeing the outreach of the country and community does seem to help.

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Week 12 Training (3/19-3/25): Oh look, it’s taper time!

You know how there’s a fine line between marathon training niggle and an injury that could wipe you out of the race? Well I’ve been walking it like a lightweight who’s had one drink too many.

But I made it through peak week! So now it’s all about making sure I don’t do anything stupid before the race.

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My race, the Darß Marathon (more on that later, when I have too much time on my hands because: taper), is the same week at the Boston Marathon and the same weekend as the London Marathon, so by the time I get to write about it, readers will have probably gotten their fill of marathon recaps. Hope you save some reading eyes for me, though!

But first, I have to run the race. And if it were tomorrow, there’s no way I’d be doing it. My hamstring just wouldn’t put up with it.

It started on Monday during intervals. While I’ve been putting up (see body, I put up with so much from you, why can’t you just work with me a little more?) with a pain in the butt for a while now, which the doctor confirmed is actually a back issue, it looks like I’ve been altering my form a bit to get the range of motion prevented a bit by the tight piriformis muscle caused by the tight back muscles. So now my hamstring has apparently been working double duty, and it started to hurt after the long run Saturday before last. It probably doesn’t help that I’ve also been missing my normal gym cool-down routines (I’m home for three weeks) and my normal amount of sleep, but that’s a new paragraph.

See, people who say 8 hours of sleep aren’t necessary clearly don’t put their bodies through so much stress that needs to be recovered from in order to get through the next day. Given marathon training, I know I should have been getting more than the 5.5 hours average I have been… but the jet lag combined with family schedules that don’t include my running plans has meant I’ve been getting less than what I really need. I also haven’t been stretching or foam rolling properly after my runs, because while I have a foam roller at home, it’s 3 years old and the cheapest thing on the market. It’s also about half the width and cushion as the one at the gym, so I’m really missing my gym roller! I also miss the wide expanse of floor space that I have at the gym! But those are excuses. Really, I should have been smarter about the post-run routine.

I also should have been smarter about the running and listened to my body more. I should have taken Tuesday off, or at least not pushed for the 9 miles in the morning, and the 5k in the evening. As one can see in my chart, I took Wednesday off, which is my usual tempo run day, and I ran Thursday instead. This is because Tuesday was the no-good-dirty-rotten-run-from-sauna-land. While the north had snow storms that rendered them a winter-wonderland in Spring, south Florida had a tropical summer with oppressive humidity that gave everyone and their dog a headache. But I was up at 5 AM, doing that 9 mile run on my plan, and it was the hardest run all training cycle.

But oh! I forgot to finish talking about Monday. Before Tuesday, Monday was actually a good interval session. I had dropped down from 5 to 4 1-mile intervals, and my recoveries were 0.5 miles, not 0.25, so I didn’t exactly follow the plan, but I did get the average of 7:03 mpm, so I guess it’s alright? I don’t know. I was glad to get it done. And the hamstring still put up with it, so I thought I was okay.

I guess I ignored the signs of over-training: tiredness and no motivation, because I thought it was just my TOM, and I already noticed a soreness in the hamstring on Monday that seemed to still be fine afterwards. I don’t know. While I pulled the brakes on Wednesday, I probably should have pulled them much earlier.

But then Thursday was a great tempo run! Right on target with 7:30 mpm for 3 miles and I felt decent again. This meant that I was overly optimistic about all the other signs to just take the rest of the week off.

The final (really heavy) straw was probably the 22 miles … and then garden work. You know how people advise you to not do any strenuous activity after a long run? Well, I should listen to advice more often.

So, tl; dr: I’ve got a light injury, which I think is a hamstring strain, and the only way to make that go away is to take a break. My back may be happy about that too. Still, I hope it’s just for a few days and that I’ll at least have some running to report in a week.

Either way, it’s 27 days to the marathon and officially taper time, so it’s all downhill from here. My plan originally wanted me to do 20 miles next Saturday as well, but for now, I’m just happy if I run at all. and I probably will. Just need to be patient.

I guess I could ask, have you ever done something stupid while training that you know you probably shouldn’t have done and then regretted later? It’s pretty lame. I can’t even be mad at anyone!

On the bright side, training was great until now, so I guess I’m pretty grateful that all the hard work is done and I was pretty lucky to be able to enjoy most of it.

Hope you have a good week. Happy running!
Dorothea

Week 11 Training (March 12-18): In which I fly

No, that’s not meant metaphorically. I flew home to Florida on Thursday of Week 11 and still manged to follow the plan. It helped that I didn’t have to get creative this past week for SquadRunner missions, and I can say I had a good week.

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I only ran four days, making up for the 6 I ran the week before last, and they were all easy. I had just run a half-marathon “race” after all. The legs needed some rest, and after failing to stretch and foam roll properly on Tuesday, I almost thought I wouldn’t get through the rest of this training. But I remedied that mistake on Wednesday and Thursday had a fun 23 hours on the road, landing in my bed about 4 AM German time after getting up at 3 the morning before. But it’s all good. I made it safely to the US and through the week, using Friday to get used to warmer and more humid running weather and Saturday getting through 2 hours of running in the dark before finally being rewarded with a glorious sunrise over the east coast the later miles.

Saturday was the first 20 miler of the season (totally uneventful except for all the public restrooms being closed and a weird pain in the foot miles 16-17 that disappeared again), and I’ll probably do at least one more, if not another one this coming weekend, before heading into taper. Taper! I have a few miles to go before that starts, but it will be a light at the end of the tunnel these next two weeks.

Happy running,
Dorothea

Week 10 Training (March 5-11): in which I make choices

This week I’m just going to show you how my crazy brain works. I call it runner brain, where anything seems sensible if it benefits the training and means getting the runs and miles in.

My runner brain went into synapses-firing mode Saturday morning  when I finished packing for the trek that the commute to the BAFF race location, running a 13.1 race, shower and refuel after the race, and commute back home would entail. I was standing there, ready to go, when I checked the Berlin public transportation app one more time. Oops. One of the S-Bahns wasn’t working according to plan. I wouldn’t get to the one stop I needed to get to on time in order to board the bus that would take me to the final destination, and therefore wouldn’t make it to Marienwerder, which is about 30 miles north of Berlin*. So, no race for me.  I was a little relieved, since I was already rethinking the plan when I discovered on Thursday that I wouldn’t be home until quarter of 6 PM, since the buses only run once every two hours. I’d packed some work, but this change did mean I could actually shower and get some work, like taxes, done at home.

So now what?

I had a few possibilities… none really satisfying, but one has to do the best with the circumstances one has. My priority was to take advantage of my mini-taper and pre-race fueling, and to get the serious effort out today. Also, I really wanted all the mission points that SquadRunner offered-which meant I had to plan something that would enable me to run 13 km the next day, so no über long run. Planning around mission points has  probably the crux of some of my difficulties in running planning lately, but in the end, I have nothing to blame but my own competitiveness. In theory, I could have run 45 minutes yesterday to complete one mission, then do a long run today to cover the 13 km for the mission, but really, I just didn’t want to lose too much of my Sunday. Saturday’s are for the hard work. “Still, looking at the weather report, Sunday is the nicer day…”** “okay, stop it, Dorothea. Don’t let a little bit of rain stop you.” “And I could just postpone the race effort, maybe find another race somewhere else…” “Dorothea! Stop! It’s week ten. The plan says week ten. Let’s just do this.” My melon committee had a field-day yesterday.

I decided I had two options, given my two preferences:

  1. I could run on the treadmill in the gym, which wouldn’t get me a proper race effort time… but at least I’d be motivated to stay on pace and have a supported run…plus, I found this treadmill pace chart that, while showing insane speeds for a 7:26 real effort (I’d have to hold 13.5 km/hour), could help me feel better about pushing myself to the pace that I’m looking for. This is, after all, a test run. It’s to see where I’m at in my fitness. Also, it would keep me out of the annoying drizzle that also decided to pop up today.
  2. I could suck it up that it’s drizzling and I won’t have competition, quickly set up a loop near me, bring my own fuel, and dig deep to get the motivation I need to hit the paces I need. I was looking for a sub- 1:37 race, but would have be happy with anything under 1:40.

While working through my options, however, it dawned on me that I don’t have to kill myself for this. A good compromise could be a 10 mile race effort (again, aiming for sub 1:15) and then the easy 8 miles tomorrow.

3. I could do a repeat of the 10-mile trial run a few weeks ago.

So I set out for 10 miles with only a pack of Powerwhatever fuel and my music, three layers and warming up with a mile. The warm-up felt stiff, but I felt good. And then I started. And then I decided, around mile 2, that I felt so good that I should just continue for 6.5 miles before turning around and get a half-marathon effort after all.

race effort

It wasn’t a supported run, of course, and I had to rely on my own gumption to get through those last miles (which also happened to be uphill). But I have to say, self-talk works really well. I kept telling myself that if I couldn’t do it now, how could I expect to pull it off during the race in April? And I also figured that I needed the 13.1 effort in my training, which caused me to dig slightly deeper than the 10 mile would have, so that’s why I decided to do it anyway. And the best part? No injury!

So long story short, it all worked out in the end. It wasn’t my best or worst half-marathon, still in the top half of results! But for my next marathon, I think I’m hiring a coach. Figuring out all these things for myself takes a lot of time. I think I’m ready to just do what someone tells me to do.

And that was only one day of this week, but the rest of the week seems mild in comparison. Though, admittedly, it was the highest mileage I’ve done in a over 3 years.

graph

Monday: 5 miles in the AM, 5 in the PM with 2 1 mile intervals. They were decent at 6:32 and 6:40. I’d have liked to be faster, but I was also keeping it easy to be prepped for the race on Saturday.

Tuesday: 11 miles easy. This was partially on the plan and partially a compromise to be able to stick to the plan for the rest of the week and still get 30 km overall between Tuesday and Friday (mission points were at stake!)

Wednesday: super easy and tired 5 miles. Just needed to get them done.

Thursday and Friday: Rest!! and an easy 3 mile before weights. Really wanted to keep these days restful and easy in order to ensure good running chances for Saturday.

Saturday: already said enough about this. Just one more thing to add: looking at the results and given my total time yesterday, I could have placed 1st overall for the women. coulda woulda shoula. Also, who knows if I would have paced myself the same way. It’s all good.

Sunday: a super easy 13 km in sunlight and t-shirt and shorts and just ah. So nice. Also still kept a 9 mpm without meaning to-guess I am getting a little faster. But tomorrow? Tomorrow is a rest day…

Hope you had a great week, too!
-Dorothea

*in retrospect, my brother pointed out to me that I’d misunderstood the app… the S-Bahn wasn’t running through, but a bus transport system had been temporarily set up. If I’d left 10 minutes earlier, I would have been fine. Major woops. Thank goodness the race only cost 10 €, otherwise I’d have been really mad at myself.

** today really was a beautiful day. The first shorts and t-shirt running day of the year!!

Training Week Nine (Feb. 26- March 4): In which I run 7 days in a row

Well, I actually ran Feb. 24th and 25th and then 5 more days in a row, but you get the idea.

After the 10 mile time trial, I was tired, had moderate soreness, but was generally pleased with the condition I seem to be in. Furthermore, I had adjusted my plan to run on Sunday, which is usually a rest day. Then, Week Nine began and knowing I’d be taking 2-3 days off the following weekend, I decided to just keep it going through the week and run every day.

Exhibit A:

look Ma’, no gaps!

However, although the running progressed well, I was in not the best state by Wednesday.

First of all, Monday was a hard hill interval sandwiched by 2 three miles runs. While I only had 10 x 2 minute hills on the plan, I was keen on getting more miles in, to make up for the missing long run this weekend. Unlike last time, I also did the run outside. In fact, the chance to run outside in the sun despite sub-zero temps was one of the ways I could motivate myself to get out the door.

It turned out to be quite great, with just the right amount of tiredness without feeling dead afterwards. However, I was noticing the soreness in my butt a lot more, and it was starting to become more clear that it was coming from my lower back, so one can say I was pushing it from the niggle into the injury department. However, I had called and scheduled an appointment for Wednesday, so I know it couldn’t be too long before I’d have a clear diagnosis and plan for treatment.

Tuesday found me more sore than ever and not motivated at all to go further than 3 miles, so of course I did 6 ;-). I’d been foam rolling for 20+ minutes after each run since Saturday, and Tuesday was no exception, but it barely made me feel better.

Then came Wednesday and two shots and woah… immediate relief on the lower body. My doctor teased me about looking my symptoms up online and let me know that while I noticed the pain below my back, it originated in my back and radiated down. I’ve been diagnosed with a wonky back on the right side anyway, so it was actually no surprise. Plus, she reminded me to get back to doing the core/back work that I’ve been neglecting since marathon training started getting into the double-digits of hours spent, and to keep my back warm. That last bit was a lightbulb moment, since well duh, I’ve been tensing my back a lot lately because it’s been so freaking cold in Berlin and of course aggravated all the muscles there. Since the back takes a lot of the force of running, it makes sense that the double stress of cold and running would end up in pain after a while. I’m due to visit again in April, a 10 days before the marathon, so we’ll see if I get another “booster” shot then.

Still, while I felt immediate relief Wednesday morning, I had a full day at the Uni to get through after two back-to-back appointments (got to have my ears checked as well, yay me!) and was just tired when getting to the run. I didn’t feel like another cold run outside, so I loaded It onto my IPad, went to the gym, and let the natural adrenaline and the ability to take my earbuds out when the music got too scary regulate my normal “oh my ******* ***, what the ****. ******************” reaction. I’m a huuuuuge pansy when it comes to scary movies. But I’d heard so many good things about the new It and was a sucker for Stand By Me, so I’d looked forward to the movie and it helped me get through 6 miles. Plus, I realized that the way I felt afterwards (barely able to get through the subsequent stretching and foam-rolling routine) was precisely how I should be feeling in the middle of a week of marathon training. And wouldn’t you know, I was rewarded Thursday with an epic, nearly painless 10 miles. My back didn’t hurt, there was only a residual soreness in the butt and after three nights of near 8 hours of sleep and I was feeling good. So while I actually meant to only test the legs and get in the minimum of 30 minutes for my SquadRunning team, I took advantage of some relative flexibility in my morning and just kept going.

Of course, this meant Friday I ran super easy 40 minutes, but that was what the plan called for anyway. I was glad to have the chance to clear out some lactic acid from 6 days of straight running (usual for many, unknown for me since, um… Feb. 2016?) before my 9 hour travels to Den Haag in the Netherlands. I managed to be stupid about my running watch and log about 7 minutes of extra “treadmill time” because of the break I took to foam roll and stretch, which ruins my speed average in two of three of my running logs (sigh. So lame), but overall I’m just impressed at my own ability to get up at 3:45 to go for a run that I didn’t have to do for anyone but me. (And maybe the SquadRunner team ;-)) A secret to my “success” is that I can wake up at any time if I know that I have an hour before I actually have to leave the house. True, Friday I was already out 30 minutes later, but the point is, I have managed to do a lot of my training in the morning this training cycle because I can get myself up an hour before my run. A lot of my motivation is a chance to drink some coffee and listen to some music and figure out the plan for the day. And in more non-running-related news, it was interesting to see how many Berliners are up and commuting (even by bike in -14 degrees Celsius!!) before 5 AM in the morning. And once again I am grateful for my schedule and flexibility most days.

The rolling 7-day total was 52 miles, which is a peak week for me, and while I didn’t do any long runs, I had three 9+ mile runs. I’m sure that counts for something in my VO2 measurement or whatever.

Now after almost three days of traveling, good times, and more than 50,000 steps, I’m ready to get back to the training, which starts with 9 miles of intervals tomorrow and ends with a half-marathon practice race on Saturday. I’ll see how I’m feeling Sunday, if I’ll go for the 13km that SquadRunner is offering 130 mission points for (spoiler alert: if I do them, they’re going to be slow, easy km- and then I’m def. taking Monday off). We’ll see how it goes! At least it’s supposed to stay dry and be warmer this week.

Happy Running!
-Dorothea

Update on training, week 8 (Feb 19-25)

^ this right here is why I could never be the layout person for a magazine. I just can’t make up my mind about how I want to format my posts. But you get the general idea: update on training, another week, and in case you’re confused about which week, I spell it out.

But this week is special! It marks the official halfway point to marathon training, and you know you’re seriously “in it” when you start using any opportunity to bring the topic of marathon into conversation with anyone you meet, even strangers. Week eight, woo hoo!

Officially a “fall-back” week in the training, I think it went pretty well. I didn’t have any long runs and the bulk was easy running. I did, however, have a pretty intense 10 mile time trial that I can’t wait to tell you about.

But first:

graph

gasp! Only one rest day?! And a run after an almost race? What?

What? is right. I also have no clue how the runs next week will look like and how I will feel. This week actually marks a diversion from the Runner’s World training plan that will go on through next week, since I have to adjust for a short trip I’m taking next weekend. And my SquadRunner team will know that I adjusted the second half of this week for the mission points. :-) I did get an extra 190 points from the adjustment, and I think I did it intelligently enough? Basically, the plan called for 5 tempo miles on Wednesday, a rest on Thursday, and 3 easy on Friday. Instead, I did 1 easy mile and 1 tempo km (to see just how fast I can run) on Wednesday, and 8 miles on Thursday with a 24 min. 5k thrown in. Then Friday was a rest day. There will be a time when I don’t need a mid-week break. This week is not that week. I wanted to have some chance to recover before Saturday, and honestly I just really like having one day of work each week where I can just go to work in a relaxed way without having to worry about getting the run in first.

And then Saturday…

but wait. Actually, I want to preface this by saying that I have a weird soreness deep in my gluteus maximus that Dr. Google diagnosed as piriformus syndrome. Sound familiar to any of you? This is the same hamstring thing I mentioned two weeks ago, but now I’m not sure it’s my hamstring. I really felt it during the 200 meter intervals on Monday (which were a lot of fun! It’s nice to just kick it out really fast once in a while), and then more so yesterday during the 10 miles. The weird thing is, it doesn’t really hurt. It just feels tight and I feel like I can’t get my full range of motion. I guess it’s good it doesn’t hurt yet, but I also want to figure out what it is and treat it before it gets any worse. In the meantime, apparently what I may have can come from sitting too much, and while I don’t think that’s my problem (if anything, I can’t sit for a single moment gosh-darnit Dorothea sit down and stop wiggling!), I’m going to be a little more proactive about it and see if I can figure out some of these weird yoga moves Dr. Google is recommending to prevent this thing from becoming a major pain in the you-know-what. Oh, and of course I’m calling my doctor tomorrow to schedule an appointment for ASAP. I’ll ask her about the weird foot bump then, too. (edited to add: I really did make an appointment and will find out on Wednesday what the deal is).

Okay, now about Saturday. I don’t know. It’s not that I went to an actual race and it doesn’t count as an official PR, but since it is my first consciously timed 10 miler and I met my goal within 5 seconds, I’m calling the PR. I was aiming for a sub 75 minutes, and I think that if I had been officially racing and known my times while running (I only ever knew my approximate pace), I could have done it. And even if I didn’t, I’m pleased with the way I motivated myself to keep pushing through the last miles and execute a run on my own this way. I can use this as a mental boost for the half-marathon in two weeks and while I didn’t feel amazing, I got it done and met my own expectations. Plus, it was an outdoor run and the sun was shining, which was actually also true of today’s run as well, so today I went out for a bonus 5k that turned into a little more because it was just so gosh-darned gorgeous (did you notice my southern roots, yet?). The mission points also had something to do with the unusual Sunday run. I’ll see how I feel tomorrow and then determine whether that was a good idea. I may take the rest day tomorrow, instead.

Other than the butt issue and continued niggles here and there, mostly in the feet, a few in the knee–all that I’m prodigiously fighting against with stretching, foam rolling and avoiding every single crack in the side-walk–running is going very well.

Next week is another week of an absent long run. I can’t decide if that’s a no-go in marathon training, but I also figure if Hanson’s plan runners get away with a lot of mid-distance runs, then so can I! I’m planning on doing  regular amount of running (6-10 miles) that will tire me a little out, but not injure me. On March 5th it’s back to the regularly scheduled programming.

Hope you had a good week! Happy running,
Dorothea