Training for Tuesday: Shamrock Marathon Training & Goals

Holy crap, you guys. This is a special edition of Training for Tuesday because it's the last one I'm going to write before my big races coming up. The one after this will be post-marathon #3 - I say that definitely this time because, well, I switched my registration from the half to the full last week so there's really no turning back now. Ready or not, I have a registration email that says I'm running a marathon in 26 days.


I had hoped to be writing this month's post having run and lived to tell about my 20-miler, but due to Mother Nature completely losing her shit last week, that run was postponed to this upcoming weekend. I know I won't be able to rest easy until I cross that run off my training plan, but I'm confident in the work I've put in so far. Speaking of training, this is the spreadsheet I've been rocking for the last 3 months:


This has been the most piecemealed training plan I've ever put together. I've had to rearrange my run days way more often that I've ever had to before. I mean, I had to do one of my long runs on a Thursday afternoon - who does that? In fact, a lot of my long runs have been on odd days at odd times. I'm not sure I've done any of them at the same time and day two weeks in a row, which is very out of character for me. No early Friday bedtimes; no pre-dawn Saturday morning alarms. I haven't gotten in nearly as much strength training or yoga as I have in the past. I knew up front that there was a good chance I was going to be making a lot of this up as I went, which is what I wanted at the time  since the last time I planned to be super disciplined, it blew up in my face.

My body is more or less ready for the physical challenge; it's my mind I'm more worried about. But as much as I feel like I haven't done the right things physically, I've put in more than my fair share of mental training this time around. Training through this winter has been extremely tough. The temperatures have been freezing cold, there's been snow on the ground, there have been more occasions with 20-30mph winds than I'd like to remember. I don't even think I'd need both hands to count the number of nice running days I've had this training cycle, at least as far as weather is concerned. But despite less-than-ideal conditions, I've managed to power through every single run. Maybe not with as much speed or grace or mental fortitude as I'd like, but rain or shine, bad mood or good, tired or alert, distracted or engaged, I earned every one of those miles up there.

Despite the fact that training hasn't been rainbows and sunshine, truth be told: I'm pretty pumped. There is just no other race weekend like Shamrock weekend and I can't wait to line up at that starting line for the 4th year in a row. It's hard to believe I'll be celebrating the 3rd anniversary of my first half marathon by running my 3rd full marathon. Shamrock is a tradition for me, and even though I never planned to run the full course once, let alone to come back for a second try, I'm grateful to be healthy enough to be able to participate in any of the races this year. When it comes to Shamrock, for me, the second time's the charm: my first half was disastrous but the following year I came back for a 30-minute PR. Last year, my first time running the full, wasn't the performance I wanted, and I'm hoping I have a lot more to give this year.

The one moment that pushed me over the edge from running the Shamrock Marathon being a tiny thought in the back of my head, to it being something I actually wanted to do: Christmas morning, filling out my new medal and bib holder.


Translated in terms of average pace for each distance:

5k: 7:43
10k: 7:56
Half Marathon: 8:21
Marathon: 11:01

One of these things is not like the others.

I had originally planned to run the Shamrock Half and shave 4 or 5 minutes off my PR. Even though doing so would have been a huge accomplishment, it would only have widened the gap between my half and full marathon times. It might sound silly that something that trivial made me want to run a marathon, but writing those PRs out made me realize which distance I wanted to work on. My marathon pace is not going to start with a 7 or an 8, that I know for sure, but I feel confident that I can get it closer than it is now and close the gap at least a little bit.

Shamrock Marathon Goals

Realistic Goal: PR
I don't want to write this off as a guarantee, but if I have confidence in any of my goals, it's this one. I'm a much stronger runner than I was a year ago (thanks, hills!) and my comfortable pace, like the one I ran my PR marathon at, is over a minute faster than it was this time last year. Simple math would indicate that my chances of reaching this goal are very good. On the other hand, it's totally possible I could have the worst race day of my life. Not counting that out yet.

Reach goal:  4:21:XX (9:59 pace)
I really want to knock at least a minute off my average pace. All my training runs last year were in the 10:00's and I was really disappointed that I let my race pace slip to just over 11:00 when it was all said and done. Since all of my runs are in the 8's and 9's now, I really don't want to let my race pace start with a 10. This is another one I'm reasonably sure I can accomplish, but I can't be too sure.

Crazy reach goal: 4:10 (9:32 pace)
I'll be honest, this one is pretty arbitrary. It's the best milestone I can come up with between my reach goal and my super crazy, I done lost my mind goal. I would be insanely happy to hit any time in the low 4's, and anything under 4:10 is far better than I've ever dreamed of doing.

Super crazy reach goal: 4 hours (9:10 pace)
Go big or go home, right? I'm more than confident about my ability to get through the first half at least a few minutes under 2 hours, but not at all confident about the second half. Those miles, especially the last 6 or so, can be brutal and I have no idea what to expect from them. I've trained to run 16 at a pace that would leave me time for my pace to slow down by 30 seconds/mile for those last 10 miles, but I'm just not sure I can replicate that on race day. Some days I feel like this is totally within the realm of possibility, and other days I feel like I should just put my pajamas on because I'm dreaming.

All of these seem pretty optimistic, some extremely so, but the last time I set time goals for myself (in the fall), I ended up really surprising myself and far exceeding them. Not that I'm banking on that happening again, but you just never know what race day is going to bring.

Until next time!

tracytris

Sunday Sweats [2/16-2/22]


The weather this week made it pretty impossible to do anything other than just get through the miles. Fortunately the weather didn't derail any of my runs; it just forced me to get a little creative and power through. I keep feeling like I'm training my mind more than my body. Getting outside in sub-zero temperatures and inches upon inches of snow isn't easy, but it makes me a stronger runner. 

Monday: 30 minutes yoga/hip stretching | Still working out this hip injury.

Tuesday: 5 mile run @ 9:15 + Core workout + 30 minutes yoga/hip stretching | This was one of the runs where I knew things were not going to be like normal, and that was okay. We got 9 inches of snow last night. Luckily by the time I got out to run everything had been plowed pretty well, but there were still a lot of areas that were slippery or just looked slippery because they were wet, so I ran very cautiously. Also I spent a lot of the time I was on campus behind people walking, because tons of people were out for the snowball fight on the Drillfield (we have a giant field in the center of campus and there's a big Cadets vs. Civilians  snowball fight every year after the first big snowfall).


Between the snow and the hurting hip, my pace was slower than normal but like I said, I expected that and I was okay with it. Later I did a core workout and it felt so good to lift some weights (even if they were light). Some of the twisty exercises bothered my hip a little but I'm glad I did it. Before bed was another 30 minutes of restorative yoga and hip exercises.

Wednesday: 5 mile run @ 9:02 + 30 minutes yoga/hip stretching | The roads were actually worse than yesterday since it snowed some more this afternoon and it was so windy that a lot of snow got blown back onto the paths that were plowed yesterday. It was snowing when I went out and it was just crazy. I don't know if a snow tornado is a real thing, but I'm pretty sure it is and that I almost got swept away in one.

Thursday: 16 mile bike ride at 16mph (?) | I've done my best at braving the elements, but when the temperatures are record-breaking low, that's where I draw the line. I don't think the wind chill got above -10* today. I did a boring ride on the trainer instead of running.

Friday: 9 mile run @ 8:42 | This was such a good run! Not amazing but just really...good. Compared to the rest of the week, 16* didn't feel all that cold, especially with no wind and the sun out. I was quite toasty and running felt effortless.

Saturday: 30 minutes yoga/hip exercises | The 20-miler I was supposed to do today got moved to next weekend due to snow. We got another 6 inches today so all day was spent cozy and warm inside! I neglected my yoga the last couple days and definitely noticed the difference in how my hip felt, so I made sure to do it today.

Sunday 16 mile run @ 8:53 + 30 minutes yoga/hip exercises: My 20-miler getting moved is mostly a good thing, since it means that it will now be 3 weeks out from Shamrock (the traditional length of time between the 20-miler and the marathon) instead of 4 weeks (I was never crazy about it being that far out). The bad news is that I was supposed to be done with doing super long runs by myself, but I had to add one to fill the space in my schedule this weekend. I did 16 miles total broken up into 11 miles + 5 miles since I had to go pick up Ben in the middle. It was only about a 30-minute break but it still kind of makes me feel like it doesn't "count," but oh well. This week was about getting the miles in and that's what I did. On another note, it felt SO WEIRD going outside in thin pants and only one layer on top. I actually checked to make sure I was really wearing pants, that's how weird it was.

Running: 35.13 miles
Cycling: 16 miles
Strength: 1 workout
Yoga: 150 minutes
Pits:
- Having to do another long run by myself
- Not getting in any significant strength training. At this point it's been a few weeks since I last lifted and I'm getting too close to the race to feel comfortable starting up again. On the other hand, I think I need to work on my core the most so maybe sticking to core workouts isn't the worst thing for me.
- I know this goes without saying, but...the weather.

Peaks:
+ All the yoga! I was hoping I'd get some in all 7 days (and truthfully, I probably should have), but 5 is more than I've done in a while.
+ At this point I'm pretty confident that this hip injury isn't going to significantly derail my training or racing plans. It's been 2 weeks since it popped up (seemingly out of nowhere), but I've seen some improvement. More than that, I've been able to manage it, and I think that's key. The good news is that it hasn't affected how much I've been able to run. I've had to decrease the intensity a little bit, but I feel a tiny bit stronger every run. I don't think it's going to go away completely any time soon, but I think it's manageable.
+ I don't have to run more than 10 miles in Blacksburg by myself from now until race day! And that only has to happen once. All my other runs here will be 5 miles or under. And my other long runs left are the 20-miler this weekend and the Rock n Roll USA half marathon, both with friends. YAY! I can't believe it's almost taper time. I can already feel the freakout coming on...


Sunday Sweats [2/9-2/15]

As if last week punching me in the face wasn't enough, this week decided to go for the TKO. Between being insanely, abnormally busy with school and the advent of a new injury, this week didn't go as planned. Luckily it was a setback week in my training plan, with a slight decrease in mileage from the last couple weeks. I realized that my mileage has actually been increasing every week for the last 6 weeks!

Monday: Absolutely nothing | Bed at 1am + waking up at 5:30am + 2 hour road trip home + finishing homework in the car before getting to class at 9am + class all day + groceries to be bought + dinner to be made + laundry to be done = no more physical activity than what is absolutely necessary. I wanted to get in some yoga but it just didn't happen.

Tuesday: 5.5 miles @ 8:30 | I deviated from my speedwork routine (ok, I just started it back up again like last week) for a hill workout. Other than running on hills by virtue of the fact that I live in the mountains, I've never actually done a hill workout. Plus, lately I've been sticking to the flattest route I can find so I've really lost my confidence when it comes to hills. I warmed up with a half a mile down the path from my apartment to a .75 mile long road that goes uphill. Three rounds up and down plus the half mile back to my apartment made it by far the hilliest 5-miler I've ever done. I was so proud to have gotten through it!

Also, related: the sheep at the farm I run by had little baby sheep! They are adorable so here is a video of them running, because sharing is caring (apologies in advance for my heavy run breathing):



Wednesday: Stretching and foam rolling | I don't even want to talk about today. An assignment that should have taken an hour or two took from 1:00pm to 1:00am, thanks to technical difficulties. I literally worked on it all day. I did not pass "Go", I did not collect $200. I don't accept my having time as an excuse for not working out (if it's important, you'll make time) but y'all, the struggle was REAL. I was really frustrated about not having time to get a run in, but it may have been for the best, as I'm nursing an injury on the top/outside of my hip bone. I did do some stretching and foam rolling for it in the intervals where I had to wait for my computer to get its shit together.

Thursday: 8.2 mile run @ 8:41 | One thing I can definitely say about this training cycle is that I'm getting a lot of practice running in various weather conditions. Today was bitterly cold, windy, and it even snowed - honestly it was what I imagine running inside a snow globe would feel like haha! I had a much better time mentally on this one than last week. I shed exactly 0 tears, excluding the ones cause by snowflakes blowing into my eyes, of course. My hip wasn't totally healed but I wanted to at least try for a run. It really wasn't painful, just a little annoying and uncomfortable. I made sure not to push the pace at all and to take short strides so that I wouldn't aggravate it any further.

Friday: 17 mile bike ride @ 17mph (?) + hip stretches and exercises | So, about this bike ride. After hemming and hawing for a while I finally went to pump my tires in my tri bike so I could get on the trainer. My bike pump doesn't work right so after fighting with it for a while, I ended up breaking the valve stem on my front tire. Then I had to change the tires, which I've never done before, but after about 5 views of a Youtube video, I figured it out...only to realize that the valve stems on my backup tires are for my road bike, which has smaller rims than my tri bike, so they ended up being too short. This was about 45 minutes into this ordeal, at which point I finally remembered that I have another bike, my road bike, which had been sitting literally 2 feet away from me the entire time. I resigned to just ride my road bike, so I went to pump those tires, but my crappy pump ended up deflating them instead of inflating them. I almost gave up but I kept fighting with the pump, and eventually was able to get it to work. So I spent longer preparing multiple bikes for this ride than I actually spent on the ride itself.
As for the workout, I did a spin workout I found online that lasted about 45 minutes, then I coasted at an easy pace for the remainder. My road bike doesn't have a cyclocomputer so I have no idea how far or fast I rode, but I usually average around 17mph so we'll go with that. It could have been way higher or way lower, I honestly have no clue.
Afterward I had planned to do a core workout but the first exercise bothered my hip a little bit, so I decided to do some hip stretches and exercises for hip bursitis instead.

Saturday: 15 minutes gentle yoga flow for hip bursitis + 14.14 mile run @ 9:04 | (copied from my Dailmile since I have the lazy) Ran 4 miles to the start of the Blacksburg Classic 10-Miler. 
I wanted to time the run to the start correctly, but I was so nervous about making it there on time that I started out too fast. I made it there with exactly 3 minutes to spare! 
This run was much hillier than what I've been running, especially for long runs (557 ft elevation gain). I felt good for the most part but I hit the wall hard at 11.5 miles. The last couple miles weren't easy or pretty but I never felt defeated or like I wanted to give up. Just needed to give my mind and body little breaks, no big deal. My splits were decent: 9 of my miles were sub-9, fastest was 8:33 (umm too fast), and of the 5 that were over 9, one happened at the beginning of the race when it was crowded and two more were when I walked water stops. Oh and since I can't not talk about the weather: winds were 15-20mph again today. At least the temperature was higher than that today. Maybe from now on just assume that every time I run is windy and/or extremely cold unless I say otherwise? All things considered, I feel pretty decent about this one.


Sunday: 5 mile run @ 8:41 + 20 minutes yoga + 15 minutes hip strengthening & stretching | So, so, so cold, all I wanted to do was get it done and get back inside. That made me push a little too hard in the first couple miles because after that my hip started bothering me more than usual. Also, my first frozen tear, brought you to by a real feel of -2*:



And ummm...that's not blush on my cheeks:/

Later I did a running recovery yoga video and some hip exercises and stretches.

This week is the big one - my 20-miler is on Saturday - so I really need to be more diligent about working out my hip issues before and after running!

Running: 32.83 miles
Cycling: 17 miles
Strength: 0 workouts
Yoga: 30 minutes

Pits:
- constantly sucky running weather. I know I don't have it nearly as bad as you Northerners do, but it's all relative people. I don't mind the cold so much as the knock-you-over wind. That can gtfo any time now...
- this stupid hip injury 
- really should have made more time for yoga
- disappointed that I couldn't make time for all my workouts and that I dropped strength workouts this week

Peaks: 
+ Learning how to change a flat. Something I should have learned a long time ago!
+ Long run success. I've been listening to a lot of Eminem lately so, to quote, "Success is my only motherfuckin' option, failure's not."
+ It's official - I switched my Shamrock registration from the half to full (I guess that's a peak? We'll see on March 22nd...)



Sunday Sweats [2/2 - 2/8]

This was a really hard week on me mentally and emotionally, and it showed in my workouts. As of today I am 6 weeks out from Shamrock and just over halfway through the training plan I started right after Christmas. This week was a peak week in terms of total mileage, and there were times I wasn't sure if I could make it through.

(No fancy graphic today because I'm on the road!)

Monday: 25 minutes yoga | I was on the fence about running today, but with sore legs, 20+mph winds with gusts up to 50mph, that sort of thing, I decided against it (which unfortunately meant shifting my schedule back a day for the whole week - not ideal but oh well). I was going to take a full rest day but I was feeling restless/lazy so I did Erin Motz Yoga for Runners and Abs. Take that, rest day!

Tuesday: 5 mile run @ 8:31 + 15 minutes yoga | Speed work fail…sort of. Pushed too hard on some of them and paid for it by the end. I should have done quarter-mile intervals instead of half-mile. I did at least get 2 half-mile intervals @ 7:35 and 7:16 pace out of it! And a last mile @ 9:50 pace (I had a really bad cramp, okay?!)...but we don't really need to talk about that do we? I also did Yoga for Runners again after my run.

Wednesday: Weights + 30 minutes yoga | Probably should have run today - wasn't scheduled to, but it was so nice outside! But I really didn't feel like it, so that was the end of that. I slept in and cuddled with Bane instead of getting up to work out early. No regrets. I had a lot of work to do and didn't get to my workout until late. I was supposed to lift then ride my bike, but the latter was so not happening so I opted for a 30-minute yoga flow instead. 

Thursday: 8 mile run @ 8:42 | By today I was really feeling the weight of this shitty week and just wasn't in the mood for this run. I had to stop to pull myself together several times and I also cried a lot and I had to listen to "Till I Collapse" 4 times but eventually I made it through.

Friday: 5 mile run @ 8:34 | I had a long day full of school of travel so my only opportunity to run was at 6:45am, so that's what I did. It might have been the coldest run I've ever done - the real feel was 5* and my face actually stung, it was so number and frozen! 

Saturday: Rest | Busy family day, so I did no working out at all.

Sunday: 15 minutes yoga + 18 mile run @ 9:38 |  I really was not expecting my long run to be my best run of the week! I felt great for about 12-13 miles, like I could have run forever. My dad dropped off at 14 so I was by myself for the last 4. Those weren't quite as good, mentally, I think mainly because that was the first time I had to use my brain to think about where I had to go (I had just been blindly following my dad before). But I never really struggled and never felt bad. I was happy and had fun for most of it. Our pace was slower than what I've been trying to maintain but if that's what it takes to be in a good place mentally, I'm okay with that. 


Running: 36.11 miles
Cycling: 0 miles
Strength: 1 workout
Yoga: 85 minutes 
Pits:
- Everything up until Saturday

Peaks:
+ I felt like I did a good job listening to my body and mind this week. I hate wimping out on workouts but I just did not have the mental stamina to get on my bike Wednesday night. I didn't do the yoga session instead so that I wouldn't feel guilty, I did it because I was really craving it and felt like I needed it. I'm bummed I didn't get on the bike at all this week, but proud of myself for choosing what I needed to do instead of what I needed to do.
+ I'm so glad to have made it over the 18-mile hump. The 18-miler was the one when I stopped training for richmond a I got up the morning of the run, couldn't fathom running that far anymore, tried to push through anyway and made it 3 miles (plus another ten later that day, but I was pretty sure I was done with marathon training at that point).

How were your workouts this week? How do you handle it when life gives you lemons?!

Sunday Sweats 1/26 - 2/1


Monday: I stayed true to my word and took a rest day today, just because I figured I probably should. It was weird and it felt all kinds of wrong, but I didn't hate it.

Tuesday: It was so windy today! I looked it up afterward and found out it was 15mph, which definitely explains why I felt like I was about to fall over on those segments where I had to run straight into it (like for the first half mile, the first quarter mile of which was uphill…I'm really actually very smart you guys, I promise). I took a hillier route today than usual but after running 3 laps of my flat route on Sunday, I needed a change of scenery. It wasn't a great run, but it wasn't a bad run either. I probably pushed the pace a little more than I should have, but I'm having a really hard time pacing myself correctly lately.
I didn't go to my complex's weekly yoga class as planned. I had several excuses, some legit (I could better spend that hour getting some work finished up), some not so much (I just wanted to watch the sun set and the cows playing in the field behind my apartment). But, per Kristen's suggestion, I did do Yoga for Runners after I got home for my run! I have no idea why I've never thought to do that before. Kristen is a damn genius, y'all.

Wednesday: I felt a real sense of accomplishment getting this run done! I always dread midweek runs, for a variety of reasons, but I actually had a good one today. Maybe that extra rest day paid off after all.

Thursday: A morning workout sounded like such a good idea when I planned it last week! It even still sounded like a good idea when I turned on Friends at 11:30pm last night…not so much when my alarm went off at 6:30am (which is actually later t. It took me until 7 to actually lift a weight and about 20 minutes to get with the program, but it wasn't awful.

Friday: Went to class then road tripped home. It was almost 8 when we finally got there and I was beat!

Saturday: This run. This. Run. So, our local running club hosts a series of "competitive training runs" leading up to Shamrock. They're like races in that they're organized and timed like a race, but they're not really standalone races since the whole point of them is to get ready for Shamrock. The second one was this weekend and I thought it would be great to do it, because a)running with other people, b) running at the beach (no hills), and c) running through Fort Story (which is miles 6-9.5 of the shamrock half/miles 18-21.5 and basically the worst part of either race).
The morning of the race, the temperature was in the 20s with a real feel of 13* and winds were over 20mph with up to 35mph gusts. Oof. My eyes were completely welled up and my fingers were frozen just from the walk from the parking lot to the start line. There was one 3-mile loop followed by two 6-mile loops. It was surprisingly not flat! Most of the roads we ran on had a slight incline or decline and there were 2 big hills at the end of the 6-mile loop. I felt really great for the first half but the second half got pretty ugly. I was averaging sub-9 for the first 7 miles but later I had to stop to walk several times and I added about 15 seconds per mile to my final average pace.



Sunday: I ran errands in the morning before heading back to town and didn't get home until nearly 4. I didn't really want to work out but I did anyway. Lifted weights and eventually talked myself into getting on the trainer for 30 (slow) minutes and having my own triathlete Super Bowl party. Not the 60 I had planned, but better than 0?


Pits:
- I keep feeling like my endurance just isn't where it should be, and I'm not sure why that is.
- Taking 2 rest days made me feel like I definitely had to work out on Sunday, even when I didn't want to after traveling and being out of town all weekend.

Peaks:
+ I did a much better job of eating this week. I've never really been a snacker but I am starting to feel like I might need to be in order to not feel famished basically 24/7.