So this has been a very interesting month of training so far.... The running has actually gone really well, but there have definitely been a few crazy happenings which have caused some serious freak-outs on my part and a lot of stress since there's only a month to go!! Seriously, I was sure at three different times that I was not going to be able to run the marathon. Incredibly frustrating given the successful half at the beginning of the month and the great training cycle so far. Luckily, all three times the issue ended up not affecting my running and quickly recovering.
First up: The cough. Early in the month I developed this nasty cough. And for no reason! I had no cold or flu before I got it and no other symptoms. It seemed neverending and it was truly the worst cough I've ever had. I was worried I might have to take some serious downtime until it passed and that I might have some serious issue that would affect my ability to run/breathe. However, the only time it would stop? When I went running. So I was able to train through it.
Second issue: The broken rib (or so I thought). Because of the cough, and after one serious coughing fit, I had a throbbing pain in my side when I would lean certain directions or cough more. I was pretty sure I broke a rib and I had to take a couple days off until I could get a diagnosis. The diagnosis was that it could be broken, or just a severly strained muscle between the ribs. But I was allowed to try to run as long as it didn't hurt. Luckily Healthsource of Avon gave me some great treatment and got me taped up. When I tried to run, I had zero expectations and doubted I could get through the 16 on the schedule. But once I started going I had no pain, it loosened up and a few miles in I was cruising and feeling amazing. I had one of the best runs I've had in a long time! It's still a little sore when I bend certain ways but running, lifting, and most core exercises don't bother it. It was also finally the motivation I needed to take cough medicine and get the stupid cough under control (and it mostly is gone now!).
Final issue (at least it better be!): The Quadriceps Tendon strain(?). To be honest I have no clue if this is what actually happened or exactly what the issue was. On Thursday I was working on my speedwork on a treadmill when the power at my entire apartment complex blew out. The treadmill came to a sudden stop and I felt a twinge just above my right knee. "Oh #$&%," I thought. "But maybe it was just a weird feeling right?" So I tried to run a little more, slowly. Nope. Pain about two inches above my knee. "I'm screwed, my marathon is shot. This is it. I'm done and it's because of something out of my control."
I stopped and immediately got ice on the spot. Put arnica and biofreeze on it and ran out and bought glucosamine/chondrotin and bromelain. I repeated on Friday and took another rest day. Some googling led me to believe it was a strained quadriceps tendon. It connects right above your knee and can be aggravated by sudden starts and stops (like a treadmill jerking to a stop). The good news was it had a quick recovery time and I already was pain free on Friday. I actually went and had my first cryotherapy session too because I wanted to do anything I could to help.
On Saturday, I showed up to run club with it taped up and for the second Saturday in a row, was sure I couldn't do my long run. But once we took off, I had no pain or tightness. My running partner said I was initially running uneven (because I was trying to favor it out of fear) but once I relaxed, I fixed that issue. I finished the long run right on pace. So who knows what actually happened, or maybe it was a phantom race pain a month out??
Clearly it was quite a stressful few weeks! But I got through the issues and I think I survived the stress! The most frustrating part was not actually being able to control the issues. I've been doing everything right with my recovery--probably more right than I ever have--so to have issues like these happen is just maddening!
But now it's time to focus on peak week this coming week! There may only be 3 weeks until the Cleveland Marathon but you can still sign up and HKCLE10 will still get you 10% off any registration! Also, stay tuned for my race entry giveaway coming up the week of May 7th! Come RUNCLE with me!!!
Finally. This was the race I've been chasing for a little under two years now. This is how racing is supposed to feel and this is how it used to feel for me. No, it was not a PR but I was not aiming to PR today, I was looking to run smart, get in a great training run, and stay mentally strong throughout the race. I did all three and then some! I finished in 1:46:25, I negative split the race, I didn't go out too fast, I never got in my own head, and I had fun! It was the confidence boost I needed with 6 weeks to go before Cleveland.
I signed up for the Towpath Half Marathon earlier this week when I received my training schedule and saw that I was supposed to do a little over 14 miles this weekend. Once I received the Ok from my coach, I registered and prepared to run half number 15 and my first race of the year! I had a volume week this week so it was mostly about mileage without a lot of killer workouts. My only bigger workout was goal marathon paced hour run on Tuesday and then some easier 5-7 mile runs during the week. On Saturday I did a 4 mile shakeout, something I rarely do pre-race, but my coach scheduled it so I got it done.
The half started at 8am Sunday morning, but between needing to get my bib and get in a 20-30 min warmup, I arrived around 6:40 am and it was a real feel of 18 and lightly snowing with some decen wind. Parking was scarce so I was a solid three tenths of a mile away from the packet pickup and start line and at the base of a hill. My running partner and I walked to the top, grabbed my bib, and then headed back to our cars for about 15 more minutes of warmth. Then we trekked back to the top of the hill, hit up the porta-potties and began our warmup.
I've honestly never warmed up for a race before but I can understand why I should now. We did about 2.2 miles of easy running and it was great because I was comfortable in the cold after the warmup and I felt really loose. With a little under 10 mins to go, we headed over to the start line and got into the pack.
The game plan was to run the first 10k at 8:30ish and then start dropping the pace every 5 minutes for the rest. The first mile was almost all downhill so we worked to hold back but still stay relaxed. We clocked in at 8:10, which wasn't too speedy given the downhill. After that it was pretty flat other than these two suspension bridges, which we crossed twice due to the out an back in the beginning of the race. It's funny though, when I ran these bridges last summer in the ten miler race, I swear they were twice as big. Guess I'm in better shape this time around because they felt like no big deal this time around.
We hit the turn around which was about four miles out and I was feeling amazing. We were a hair over 8:20s and I was just chatting it up with my running partner, telling stories, and mainly just being amazed at how good I felt. After the turn there was a pretty intense head wind because we were out in the open, and the snow was picking up. But for some reason I didn't care. I charged over the bridges again, feeling strong and fighting the urge to pick up the pace too early. Once I came down the second (and final bridge), I noticed my training partner had fallen pretty far behind me. I knew his plan was to hang on to 8:30s as long as he could, and that he intended to stay with me until the 10k, and we were only at about 5.8 miles. So I looked back for him and he waved me on. I said "go?" and he said "yes". So I kept pushing on at 8:20s. Around 6 miles I caught fellow Healthsource of Avon Athlete Ambassador Jesse and we chatted for a bit. Then we hit the 10k and I took off. It was time for my race to really start.
I began dropping the pace (probably too much initially) and was running just over an 8 for 6.2 to the 7 mile mark. I continued dropping the pace and as a result, I was picking off runners like crazy. As a result, just before 8 miles and until about mile 9, I ended up in no man's land -- meaning I was completely alone with no runners with me -- I looked back and saw no one and I could even see runners ahead of me other then the leaders who would come by in the opposite direction every so often. The wind and snow were also just wonderful at that point. Luckily I started catching more people by mile 10 and in trying to catch up to those runners I managed a 7:30. Easily the fastest mile 10 in my running career to date!
At that point we were heading backwards, away from the finish because we needed to complete this extra loop to get the mileage in. That part was mentally tough because we were about 3/4 of a mile from the finish and then had to turn away and run 1.5 miles in the other direction. But I focused in on pace and on trying to catch more runners ahead of me. I caught up to a group of women running my pace around 11 miles and I was hoping to use them for drafting and pacing. But unfortunately, they decided to significantly drop off the pace and so I went ahead with the lone guy in the group. Soon after, he dropped off too and I was in no man's land again.
Fortunately that only lasted until about 11.5 miles when I caught another female runner and she and I worked our way through the back of the pack runners who were on their first loop out. That part was frustrating because we had runners coming towards us and we were trying to pass. Plus the woman I was with wasn't great at passing and would just bounce slowly behind the runners until she could get around. (In her defense, maybe they shouldn't have been running three and fourth abreast.) Finally, it started to thin out at 12 miles. At 12.2 we had a slight hill to climb and at that point, I left my "running partner" behind and never saw her again.
I caught up to a guy and tailed him for a while until there was under a half mile left. There was a nice big hill at that point and I figured I'd kinda take it easy up the hill. But as we started to climb, he looks over at me and goes, "you're running a great pace, go crush this hill." And I just went "ok! Thanks!" and took off. He didn't come with, but for whatever reason, his little pep talk was what I needed. After the hill, there was a flat/slight uphill stretch, and then about a tenth up a hill, with the last probably .05 down into the finish.
I crossed and felt so many emotions. I had just executed the smartest race of my entire running career. I also ran mentally strong for the first time in a couple years and I don't think I ever doubted myself. My goal was to finish the race around 1:46 and I nailed it. The best part is that there was definitely gas left in the tank and I'm not even sore from it. I'm getting so excited for Cleveland and honestly for the next time I actually race a half because I know my PR is about to be broken. Today, the runner that I was in 2016 finally showed back up after a two year hiatus. I have my confidence back. With 6 weeks left, let's do this! (P.S. HKCLE10 still saves you 10%)
You know those key training products you just can't go without? We've all got 'em and everyone has a different little arsenal that they've perfected over the course of their running career. For me it's taken 5+ years to identify the perfect training essentials that work right with me. I still find something new every now and then, but the key group of products I use really hasn't changed for the past few years. Which is why for most of them, as you can see on the side panel, I am a product ambassador. It's not for free product, discounts, etc., it's because I truly believe these products play a key role in my training and have been game changers for me in the past. So with 7 weeks to go, aka when I start getting organized to make sure I'm stocked up on all my essentials for the marathon, I thought I'd share my favorite essentials and why I love them.
First up: Nuun Hydration.
In particular, I train with Nuun Performance (Orange Mango). I started using new about 4 years ago because I have such a sensitive stomach and Gatorade/Powerade just completely destroy me. Nuun does not do that to me and it has no artificial sweeteners, which I avoid.
Nuun Performance is a recent addition to the Nuun family and is for sustained endurance, aka longer/more intense training sessions. I love the stuff for long runs, races, and long speedwork sessions. And I learned last summer that it works wonders for battling heat and humidity.
Third: Honey Stinger Waffles.
If you haven't tried these, even just as a snack, you are missing out! They are so good! I used to use them post-long run as a treat, but last summer I switched it up and made them a more integral part of my training.
Now I use them as my pre-run breakfast. I do 1 for a hard workout or 6-10 miler, 2 for a 10-20 miles, and 3 for a marathon. They sit really well. I can eat a waffle and start running 10-15 mins later with no stomach issues or cramps. Plus they provide energy to power you through the workout. And as someone who needs GF flavors, they have plenty variety to choose from!
Fifth: Enertor Insoles.
This company reached out to me a little over a year and a half ago, right as I was rehabbing my IT band, and asked if I wanted to try out these insoles. I figured why not. The difference was apparent after the first run. I could feel the impact lessened when running on them. I even tried a few runs without them to be sure it wasn't a placebo effect. It definitely wasn't. These things seriously help prevent injury and I stand by the belief that they were critical in my IT band rehab.
These are just a few of the many things I use in my training, but these 5 are definitely my "can't go withouts". And I can guarantee you I'll be using these babies at Cleveland!
What are your favorite training essentials? And have you signed up for the Cleveland Marathon yet? HKCLE10 will still score you 10% off your registration!
It's April?!?! How did March go by so quickly? That means there's really only about 7 weeks left until the Cleveland Marathon. So here's your 7 week reminder to sign up! HKCLE10 will still save you 10% off your registration!
March was a great training month for me and a month full of many training records! I hit 196 miles for the month (with a previous personal best of 164) and I broke 50 miles in a week, safely, for the first time (last time I tried that I had the IT band injury). Most importantly, not only did my body hold up through the increased mileage and training but my two highest mileage weeks actually felt the easiest. Both times I had no clue that I logged that many miles until I received my weekly summary at the end of the week.
I think a big factor this time around is having a coach who understands how to safely build volume and how to incorporate key workouts at the right time. But most importantly he understands the importance of recovery. During my 50 mile week, I had scheduled foam rolling which added up to over 2 hours. On top of my scheduled recovery work, I've been incorporating additional recovery work (icing/ice baths, massages, epsom salt baths, stretching, etc.) on my own plus I've been really working on my strength and core training in general to build a strong body that can support the increase in miles. Finally, I've been fueling my body in the best way for me (see my last post) so that I can give my muscles the nutrition to recover.
In terms of actual training, I can definitely feel the training plan working because I notice my comfortable pace is dropping and I have to work even harder to maintain my easier miles. So what are some of my key workouts from March?
I just finished a big step back week and this week begins another build over the month of April. I'm excited for more miles and more training and to use the upcoming Boston and London marathons as my inspiration and motivation for this month. Cheers to more miles and more Cleveland Marathon blog posts coming soon!