Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Preparing for Marathon Training

I can't believe it's already the middle of August!  It seems like the Summer has just flown by.  And I've been enjoying running for fun and learning how to run by heart rate.  I haven't been in training for a specific race since I finished the Star Wars Dark Side half marathon in April.

But that changes soon.  I'll be running my first full marathon at Disney World in January and training starts in September.  So I've been spending the Summer building a base and learning how to run easy but I've also been taking some steps recently to get ready.  First, I ordered new shoes that I'll start using when I start training!


They're the same model as my current shoe but they do look a bit different from last year's version.  Also, the color is definitely more subdued than I usually go for but the price was much cheaper on these :)

 I also did some shopping.  Fabletics was having a sale a bit ago and I got some running clothes there.  I also saw a good sale at Skirt Sports and got another running skirt.  I didn't spend too much on clothes because the latter part of my training will be in cold weather anyway but I think we've got a bit of hot weather to go so these pieces should come in handy.  I also got a new set of wireless earbuds for my birthday since I broke my last pair so I'm sure that will come in handy for training too.

Ok, this isn't for running.  But it was so cute and the sale was so good at Fabletics!

But the most important thing I've been doing to prepare is try to figure out a training plan.  I've used a Hal Higdon plan for my last couple half marathons and his novice 2 plan looked like a good option for marathon training.  I had printed out a calendar for the next couple months and plotted in the training but I was still questioning myself.  It didn't really feel right.  And I remembered that the first half marathon I trained for, I trained with a group.  It felt so much better because I had help navigating through new territory.  And I didn't necessarily want to find an official training group but someone to help out with guidance would be nice.

So I decided I'm going to try an online running coach.  I had an introductory consultation with Laura from This Runner's Recipes last week and it was a great conversation.  I'm excited to start training and I felt better about my doubts after talking with Laura.  I feel good about her philosophy and having a plan that is a little more tailored then something I just pulled off the internet.  Of course, I'm happy that I also have a friend that I've convinced to do her first marathon too, so I should have company on most long runs and I'm sure that will help too!

I'm still working on convincing the third member of our little running group to join us :)

Any other tips you guys have for someone jumping into marathon training for the first time in a couple weeks?  I'd love to hear it :)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Heart Rate Training Week 11

The weekend flew by and I can't believe it's already Monday!  It's shaping up to be another busy week here so I'm sure it will fly by just as quickly.  But before I start into this week, here's a summary of last week.

Monday - Rest day with lots of walking around Busch Gardens!

Tuesday - Strength Training - I did 3 repeats of the below


Wednesday and Thursday - unplanned rest days since I was experiencing some pain (I think I pulled something weird when I was trying to get into one of the rafts at the water park)

Friday - 3 mile easy run - my heart rate was up since I waited until the afternoon and it was in the 80s :(  But at least I got it done before the rain started.


Saturday - Interval run with a work up and then 2/1 intervals x 10.


Sunday - Met up with friends to run a new trail


So the plan for this week is a rest day on Monday, strength training Tuesday, easy run Wednesday, interval run Thursday, strength training Friday, Eastern County 8k Saturday, and easy run Sunday.

I hope everyone else had a great week too!  I'm linking up with HoHoRuns and MissSippiPiddlin (and guest host Running With Attitude) for the Weekly Wrap.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Friday Five - Busch Gardens Williamsburg

I hope everyone had a great week!  It flew by for me because it was only a 4 day workweek since I had taken Monday off work for Busch Gardens, Williamsburg.  We had a great time and I thought I'd share 5 things about our mini-vacation.  It's also time for the Friday Five link up hosted by Running on Happy & Fairytales and Fitness.

1.  Discounts - The whole reason we ended up taking this trip to Busch Gardens is that we got a Groupon for park tickets.  They were $60 included both the theme park and the water park, and could be used for 7 days!  That was a great price for even the 2 days that we were at the parks.  The other way we saved some money is going Sunday and Monday.  Hotel prices were pretty expensive Saturday night but we were able to find a good deal on a room about 11 miles away on Sunday night.

I'm sure the park is always fun but discounts definitely lead to bigger smiles!

2.  Animals - Both the water park and the theme park were beautiful.  They were really well kept, clean, and tons of fun.  But I think the thing that really set Busch Gardens apart for me was that I loved the animals!  They had Eagles, Wolves, Sheep, Horses, and others I'm sure I don't remember.  They had two shows that featured the animals, one was with predators (wolves, hawks and owls) and one was with rescue pets.  They also have special tours that let you get up close nad personal with the animals.  I'd love to try one of those next time I'm down there.

Sheep, just hanging out and grazing - not fazed by the people at all

3.  Shows - Speaking of shows, there were some pretty good ones!  Like I mentioned, there were two shows that had animals but there were several great cultural shows as well.  The park is themed after various countries in Europe and that pulled through in the shows as well.  There was a fun night time show in "France" based on the three musketeers.  It had pyrotechnics and plenty of swash buckling stunts.  There was also a really good show featuring Irish dancing in the Ireland area.  There was a British music show and a German oktoberfest type show that we weren't able to catch but they sound fun too.

One of the wolves showing off his tricks

4.  Rides - I'm sure the main reason most people go to the park is for the rides.  And they were pretty spectacular!  The park is known for their roller coasters and I tried out several of them.  They were pretty intense.  I have to say I was scared away from the one that looked the most was called the Gryphon.  But I did manage several others and had a great time.  The roller coasters were pretty unique and my favorite was called Verbolten.  It was themed like a drive through the Black Forest in Germany.  There also appeared to be a lot of fun things for little kids.  I do think that there weren't many rides for adults who aren't thrill seekers.

A view of some of the roller coasters from the sky tram

5.  Waits and weather - We were at the parks Sunday and Monday.  We started Sunday at the water park and then, after a break at the hotel, went to the theme park Sunday evening.  The lines were pretty long on Sunday.  We got to the water park right after it opened and still had to wait in a fairly long line for the first water slide we went on.  The lines at the theme park were pretty long in the evening too.  I think we waited about 40 minutes for the first roller coaster we tried.  We kind of stuck to shows after that.  But Monday was completely different.  First, we got to the park early, maybe 15 minutes before it actually opened.  It felt like we were the only ones in the park at the beginning!  Also, there was a slight drizzle and I think that kept a lot of people away.  We pretty much walked on to every ride we wanted.  There was a brief period of heavy rain but thankfully it was around lunchtime so we were able to duck into a restaurant and grab some food and the rain was over by the time we were finished.

The park sure does empty out during the rain

However, if the lines are bad when you're there, the park does have a pass you can pay for that would allow you to skip to the beginning of the lines at both the water park and the theme park.  We didn't use it but we saw other people using it on Sunday and it seemed to work pretty well for them.

So that was our brief little trip down to Williamsburg.  We didn't get to see any of the historical stuff unfortunately.  But that's my goal for next time we're down there!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Heart Rate Training week 10

A day late since I just got back from my mini-vacation last night!  We had a great time in Williamsburg and the little get away definitely felt refreshing.  Here are the details of my week.

Monday - rest day with a 20 minute lunch time walk around the office.


Tuesday - strength training


Wednesday - Morning run for 3 miles.  It's getting light later which is sad but at least that means I can catch the tail end of the sunrise.


Thursday - Speed work on the treadmill.  I forgot to turn on the Garmin so I only have the treadmill data.  I knew I was supposed to do intervals of 2 minutes in zone 4 with 1 minute of recovery but it was hard to track the number without the garmin so I just went until I hit 3 miles.


Friday - Strength training


Saturday - Met up with a friend for a long run.  I was hoping to get around 7 miles but we ended up being super slow.  I'm not sure why as the weather was actually much better that it has been recently.  But I think the uphill on the way back was part of it.  At least I sped up each mile for the way back so that's something.


Sunday- A short 2 mile run before we went down to Williamsburg.  I was hoping for three miles but I was late getting out there since Shelby managed to knock the treats of the counter and they spilled out all over the floor.  It was a comedy of errors trying to clean it up while keeping the cats away and eventually I had to wake up Mike to come help.


So that was this week.  This is also the last week of the training plan I've been using for the heart rate training.  I feel like it's been really useful to figure out the heart rate zones, what each should feel like, etc.  It also seems like doing one, either speed work or a threshold run, per week works well for me but it felt like too much when I tried to do both per week.  I may alternate between those things when I get into marathon training.  The Hal Higdon plan I'm going to use just has threshold runs, but I do enjoy the speed work on the treadmill.  I'll have to figure that out and see what works better.  I know that I do want to try and keep the majority of my training (around 80%) in the easy run zone.

I'll write more about our trip to Williamsburg a little later in the week.  I hope everyone had a great weekend!  And if you have tips for whether to do speed work, tempo runs or both during marathon training, I'd love to hear it.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Friday 5 - favorite races

It's finally Friday!  This week has seemed to crawl by.  I'm sure it's because we have a fun weekend planned with a mini trip down to Williamsburg for Busch Gardens.  We got cheap tickets through Groupon a bit ago and I'm looking forward to using them. But first, it's time for the Friday Five hosted by Running on Happy & Fairytales and Fitness.  And the theme for today is favorite races.

Oh man, that's a hard one!  Narrowing it down to five is going to be difficult but here's what I feel like today.  This is not in any particular order, just my top five in general.

1.  Semper Fi 5k - I have done this 5k every year since I started running.  And it's been a PR race almost every year.  It's a beautiful scenic course downtown, and flat.  The logistics are always smooth and it's got a wonderful, family friendly atmosphere and it's always supportive for everyone, very walker friendly too.

2. RnR DC - I have a love hate relationship with the Rock and Roll DC half.  This year's RnR DC was my first DNF.  And there's a giant hill about halfway through the course.  But in general, I love this course.  It's scenic at the beginning starting downtown alongside the museums and monuments and then winds through the neighborhood sections of DC.  I don't think there is any other DC race that gives you such a good feel of the city.  I love the crowd support in the neighborhood areas and the entertainment alongside the route.  It's in March so the weather is always a wildcard.  It's never too hot but it was super cold this year and the first year I did it there was rain the whole time.

3.  RnR Vegas - Speaking of Rock and Roll races, I have to mention Vegas!  This was the perfect girls weekend and running down the strip at night was amazing.  The logistics were tough on this one and the course was the most crowded race I've ever been in, but it was all worth it.  The whole experience, from the expo, to doing the 5k with my dad, to the pre-race concert, to running past the Bellagio right as the fountain show started, was amazing!

4.  MCM 10k - I've never run the Marine Corps Marathon but I love that they have a 10k option as well for those that aren't interested in the marathon distance.  It's a great way to get a taste of DC's iconic race.  Again, the course starts out wonderfully scenic with a start down on the mall by the museums.  And though there's a tough hill at the end, you've got marines to cheer you on!  The atmosphere around this race is incomparable.  And the organization is flawless.

5. Tower of Terror 10 miler - I love my Disney races, but I think my first one is still my favorite.  I loved the Tower of Terror 10 miler.  10 miles is a great distance and the villains theme was so much fun!  I also loved the night time race atmosphere and the fact that there was a post race party.  It's too bad that they're not doing this race anymore but fingers crossed that they bring it back at some point.


So that's my list of 5 top races.  Ask me tomorrow and the list may change!  There are so many good races in this area but that's a good thing :)  Hopefully everyone has a great weekend ahead of them!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Riley's Rumble 8k 2017

So this past weekend I did the Riley's Rumble 8k again.  I had done this race for the first time last year and really enjoyed it.  8k seems like a great Summer race distance for me.  Riley's Rumble is actually a half marathon and last year was the first time they added an 8k option.  The race is put on by the Montgomery County Road Runners and is free for members.  I love their low key races because not only are they free, they're almost always really well organized as well!

The race is known for "the three H's" which are heat, humidity and hills.  We got lucky with the heat and humidity this year and it was cooler than normal.  People were even in long sleeves at the start!  But the sun definitely came out toward the later half of the race and there was some heat then. The half marathon had a 15 minute per mile limit and since the 8k was on the same course, it had the same amount of time.


The course was essentially an out and back with a loop at the beginning.  And it was along a country road that wasn't closed but there wasn't much traffic on it on a Sunday morning.  There was probably more traffic for the back of the pack runners doing the half marathon though.  And it certainly lived up to the promise of hills!

As far as my race, it went ok.  I was running late that morning and a bit flustered.  I was rushing to get from the parking to the start line and forgot my garmin in the car.  But I was able to turn runkeeper on so I do have some data at least.  And I remembered my sunglasses and  my water, which were the most important things!

But the race itself was great!  The logistics were really easy.  There is plenty of parking at the race start.  They also had volunteers directing the parking so it was really easy to tell where to go.  There was one water stop, a bit before mile 3, but we were able to hit it on the way out as well as back.  And the race is on a pretty country road with pretty scenery.

One of the friends I run with is usually faster than me but wasn't feeling well race morning so she stayed with me for most of the race, which made it definitely seem to go by faster.  She dropped back a bit around mile 4 but caught up at the end and we had a fast finish trying to beat each other!

It was fun finishing together too because all of the people hanging out by the finish line were hooting and hollering for us as we tried to beat each other :)  My goal was to try to finish in 70 minutes and it was more like 71 but I'm good with that given the hills and my current fitness levels.


The finish line had the usual bananas and bagels, but also fresh watermelon.  It tastes like the best thing ever after a hot race!  They also had massages available which was a nice touch.


And that was the race!  I would definitely recommend this one for a Summer race for anyone in the area, especially now that they have an 8k option in addition to the half marathon.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Heart Rate Training Week 9

 I hope everyone had a great weekend!  I took the time to relax and recharge this weekend, which was much needed.  But first, here is the rest of the week.

Monday - Rest day with a 20 minute walk

Beautiful sky during my walk

Tuesday - Strength training with the FitStar app

This one was tough, lots of frowny faces

Wednesday - Threshold run in the was a warm up and then 15 minutes in zone 4, 2 minutes recovery, another 15 minutes in zone 4 and then a cool down.  This was a challenging but fun run :)


Thursday - Easy recovery workout with 45 minutes on the elliptical machine at the gym.


Friday - Unplanned rest day... I was just so tired that I figured a rest day was in order.

Saturday - Strength training with FitStar.


I also still felt really exhausted, physically and mentally.  So I decided to take a morning for myself.  No electronics, no news, no email.  I made my favorite tea, put on some relaxing music, and caught up on some fun reading on the couch.  I also did some yoga later in the day.  It was exactly what I needed!


Sunday - Riley's Rumble 8k.  I had a great time doing this one with friends.  More details on it later in the week.


Here are my workout plans for this week.

Monday - rest day
Tuesday - strength training
Wednesday - easy run before going to work in the morning
Thursday - interval run at the gym after work
Friday - strength training
Saturday - Long run
Sunday - threshold run

I hope everyone else had a great week too!  I'm linking up with HoHoRuns and MissSippiPiddlin (and guest host Confessions of a Mother Runner) for the Weekly Wrap.