Shamrock Marathon Training Update #1

I'm doing this a little out of order since I haven't shared any of my race plans for next year yet (other than Louisville), so surprise! I'm training for the Shamrock Marathon in March! I do have a list of my planned races for next year to share, as well as my training plan for Shamrock, but I've been meaning to post about how my training has been going for a while now, so here goes. I don't think that I want to keep up with scheduled weekly, or even monthly training updates, but I do want to share my  training here in some capacity. These updates may be sporadic, but I personally love reading training recaps (and I know I'm not the only one) and hope they can entertain or help someone out!

I decided to run the Shamrock Marathon shortly after finishing Ironman North Carolina. Shamrock was my first half in 2012 and I've run either the half or the full every year since then, and I was planning to run the half this year. However, I am really hoping to go sub-4 in a marathon this spring and I have a friend with the same current PR as me and the same time goal who is running Shamrock, so I decided to do it with him. I do have another spring marathon planned about 6 weeks later in case I don't hit my time goal, but more on that later!

I started training for Shamrock in mid-November, right after the Richmond Half Marathon (which I didn't recap because I just didn't have that much to say about it, but I ran with Alyssa and Kristen and they did write about it). Since I've been training for 7 weeks now and am playing catch-up on recapping, here is a quick rundown of each week so far:

Week 1 

There's nothing like the beginning of a new training cycle! I got in a couple easy runs this week, including a run with my brother-in-law who was in town and has recently started running (and swimming and biking!!!). I did my first workout run: 3 miles that included 3 repeats up and down Meridian Hill - super hard! I also swam for the first time since IMNC, and I already felt completely out of practice! For strength training, I've started doing workout videos at home, and have found a Pilates video that really works my hips (my weak area) that I really like.

Over the weekend I had an hour scheduled on the trainer so I decided to do an hour-long Peloton class that totally kicked my butt. My long run was SO windy and included 3 miles directly into a 25mph headwind, and there were times I was barely moving forward because the wind pushed me back so hard! I was only scheduled for 9 miles but I had a route of things I really wanted to see, so I stretched it out to 11 miles. I ended the week feeling pretty strong and confident!

Week 2 

My training plan changed quite abruptly this week because my grandfather passed away on Sunday, and I ended up being out of town in Charleston from Tuesday through Saturday. My weekday runs ended up all being easy runs. My dad and I ran 5 miles over the Cooper River Bridge and back, and then he, my cousin, my brother's girlfriend, and I all ran the Turkey Trot downtown together on Thanksgiving. Since I was out of town I didn't get in the trainer rides that I had planned, but I did get to go to a much-needed yoga class with my cousin.

Week 3 

This week I continued to struggle with whether to do my runs before or after work. This is the first winter that I've had to work until 5 or 6pm, and I'm finding it hard to find a good time to run!
It's dark either way, but I feel safer at night. Safer because there are more people out, but more people and traffic means it's more annoying and takes longer. My stomach also tends to feel funny since I have to run when I want to be eating dinner, so there's that. I just couldn't force myself to get in the pool this week, but other than that I did great during the week. I ran before work one morning and got on the bike that night. I did my first speed workout on the treadmill with 4x800m repeats at 8:00min/mi. It felt tougher than it should have considering I have run an entire 10k faster than that, but now I know where I'm starting from and what I need to work on. 

I was lazy over the weekend, there is really no other explanation. My work holiday party was on Saturday night and I just procrastinated too much to have time to work out before getting ready. But, surprisingly, I was able to pull it together with a fast long run on Sunday! On Saturday I signed myself up for the Jingle All the Way 15k the following morning - I had been thinking about doing it for a while but decided against it since I didn't think I'd want to with my party being the night before. But I really needed some running motivation this weekend so I decided at the last minute that I was going to do it. I ran 3 miles to the start line (since I needed to do 12 miles for the day) with what I thought was 5 minutes to spare, only to find out that the published time was when the 5k started and that the 15k didn't start for another 40 minutes. I was sweaty and it was literally freezing outside so it was a long, cold 45 minutes waiting for the race to start! I felt like the Tin Man when I finally got running again, but I warmed up decently after a couple miles. I lined up in the 8:00-9:00min/mi corral and wanted to prove that I deserved to be there (or something), and I definitely ran faster than I would have on my own! I averaged 8:25 for the 15k and 8:26 for all 12 miles. It was a struggle to hold on to that pace during the last mile or two, but I felt good having done it. 

Week 4

I decided this week to do yoga for my strength training every 4th week of my training cycle. I have really neglected properly stretching, foam rolling, etc. for a long time now, but I'm always worried about getting injured so I'm trying to make it more of a priority. I really made a lot of excuses this week and got really frustrated with myself. I skipped swimming, again, and I slept in when I told myself I was going to run in the morning. Then I decided that that night I was going to make up the morning run and do my scheduled Peloton ride, but guess what - the ride didn't happen. I actually did make a half-hearted attempt, but I got frustrated trying to figure out my new trainer and got off after like 10 minutes. I miraculously convinced myself to make up my swim on Thursday morning, but it went so horribly. I know I'm out of the habit, but my pace was abysmal despite it feeling ridiculously hard, and it was so discouraging. I continued my Thursday treadmill workout, this time with my first hill workout. On paper it didn't sound too hard to run at a 6-7% incline, but when I cranked it up the first time I legitimately thought I was going to slide right off! 

Kona aired on Saturday so, like the good triathlon dork I am, I virtually rode some of the Queen K on my new trainer (because I can do that now!) while watching it on TV. My long run this week was 13 miles so I did sort of a half marathon time trial. I'm still trying to figure out what my pacing strategy for Shamrock is going to be, but in one scenario I need to run a 1:52-1:53 half marathon for the first half, and that's exactly what I did!

Week 5

Ben was out of town this week and that always throws me for a loop. He does all of the animal chores and cooks a lot of the time, so it adds extra time to my day to get all of that done and to be honest, I don't do a great job of doing it all. I moved my swim this week from Tuesday to Wednesday to Thursday (which I did go to the gym to do but the lifeguard was late and I didn't have enough time to wait for it to open) to Friday to Saturday to Sunday and then to not at all. I did get in a tempo run on the treadmill the day the pool was closed instead, and that went pretty well, although I'm worried my paces aren't fast enough. For this one I warmed up for 10 minutes at 6mph (10:00min/mi), then increased by 0.1mph every minute for 15 minutes until I got to near-10k pace 7.5mph (7:59min/mi), ran that pace for 4 minutes, then decreased by 0.1mph for another 8 minutes or so until I got to 4 miles total. 

My trainer ride on the weekend was a virtual ride through Maryland. It was scenic but hilly and quite tough! I'm trying to get used to the hills to prepare for Louisville but it was kind of defeating, and it killed my legs. My long run on Sunday was...not great. It was warm and muggy out (I wore shorts and a tank top in mid-December) and I'm sure the ride I did the day before didn't help, but it felt like crap and my pace (9:02) wasn't great. Still within marathon goal pace, but I don't think I could have made my goal if I'd had to run a full marathon that day.

Week 6

This week was crazy and things got all switched around. I moved a run from Monday to Tuesday to run with my coworker, and I also moved my long run from Saturday to Monday to run with a friend at home, and with Christmas on Sunday it was just a weird week of workouts! One good thing I did was go to the gym for the first time in a while! I haven't been doing my workout videos at home and have been missing lifting weights, so since I was already at the gym for my speed workout anyway (and felt pretty strong after I finished that!) I decided to stay and do some lifting. It was actually really nice to be in the gym with no set plan and to do whatever exercises I felt like. I'm sure that's probably not the correct strength training strategy, but I figure doing some of whatever I feel like has to be better than none of what I'm "supposed" to do, right?

Week 7

I took swimming off my schedule this week because I knew I wouldn't do it and just didn't want to bother. I wanted to keep swimming even when I didn't have to, but for some reason it's just not clicking right now and I'm not going to force it. I had two long runs this week, which felt all sorts of weird when I scheduled it and obviously not a great thing to do, but with the holidays, it's what happened. My long run on Monday (which was really last week's long run) was great! I ran with my friend that I'm running Shamrock with in Virginia Beach. We did an out and back at the oceanfront and got some headwind on the way back, but our pace was pretty consistent and we ended up pretty much exactly on our target Shamrock pace (8:46). 

My hill workout this week was terrible. I don't know if I picked a workout that was too hard (but I don't think so because I think the one I did a few weeks ago was harder), but I just couldn't run on anything more than a 3-4% incline without my heart rate shooting up. I've never seen it so high before. It felt impossible. I had 5 sets of hills to do but halfway through the second one I had to nope out of that plan, so for the rest of the time I just played around with pace and incline and did as much as I could without my heart rate getting crazy out of control. It was super defeating and I was going to lift afterward but I just wanted to go home. Luckily Ben wanted to go to the gym on Friday night and asked me to go with him, so I still got in some strength training this week. I realized later that by my Thursday run I had run 5 out of the previous 6 days and had covered about 35 miles total, so I'm sure that's a huge factor in why my workout sucked so badly, and I hope that by the next time I try it with a more normal weekly schedule behind me, it will go much better.

My long run this week was a bust. I was hoping to get in 15-17 miles, but my shin was bothering me just walking around the apartment, and when it wasn't getting any better a couple miles into my run, I decided I'd rather be safe than sorry. With work and the holidays being so busy I've had to make some...not great running decisions over the past couple of weeks, like doing my last week's long run this past Monday, so I'm not surprised my body is disagreeing with that. I was so hopeful about starting 2017 off with a bang, but of all my big plans and goals this year, not getting injured is at the top of the list. I do think I could have run on it as planned, but I learned my lesson about running through injury last year and it just wasn't worth it! It's a new year and tomorrow is a new day and a new week, and I'm hoping to get back on track after all the holiday craziness.

Other Highlights
  • New Garmin: I ran with a cute purple Garmin Forerunner 220 for a couple years before getting the 920XT triathlon watch for Christmas last year. I did a lot of research for a tri watch (the main difference between that and a running watching being that the watch will track all 3 sports during a race, and it also has swimming and cycling modes for training) and of the few that Garmin has, I landed on the bulky 920XT over the slimmer 735XT (same size as my 220) solely because it was the only one with a battery life long enough to last for a full Ironman.  I've been happy with it for the past year but, I'll be honest, it's not cute. I've had my eye on the rose gold Fenix3 so I decided to finally treat myself to it, only to discover that, although it's pretty, it's way huge and even bulkier than my 920XT. Then I found out that the 735XT can be charged mid-activity, meaning I can use a portable charger to charge it during the bike portion of an Ironman, and I decided to go for it! It's teal and super cute and has all of the same functionality as my 920XT but in the smaller size and shape of my old 220. And now that I've figured out a way to get the battery life that I need out of it, it's perfect!
  • New bike trainer: Not specific to marathon training, but my Kickr Snap finally arrived! I picked up a CycleOps trainer on Craigslist a couple years ago and it has served me well, but I've been spending more time on the trainer since I moved to the city and knew I'd be spending a lot more training for Louisville next year. I got an end-of-year bonus at work for the first time ever in my professional life and decided to finally pull the trigger on a smart trainer I've been looking at for a while. Smart trainers are able to communicate with apps on iPhone, iPad, computer, etc. so that you actually control the settings on your device. I can now adjust the resistance and simulate hills and wind all from my phone! There are also apps and websites where you can virtually ride courses and the app will automatically adjust the settings to mimic the course, and in some cases you can see a video of the course! I also got a cycling desk made by the same company - honestly I probably spent more money on it than I should have, but I looked into cheaper DIY alternatives and it just didn't seem like there was as good of an option. I used to stack up books, crates, baskets, basically whatever I could find and balance them on my ottman so that I could keep my iPad, phone, computer, etc. close by, but my leaning tower inevitably fell down about every third ride or so and I was just tired of it. My trainer set-up is so much better now, and I actually kind of look forward to riding on it!
  • Workout clothes wardrobe cleanout and update: It's been a while since I've bought more than a running shirt here or there (not that I haven't been buying fitness clothes, they've just been mostly tri things and summer running clothes), and my winter running wardrobe needed a bit of an overhaul so I finally cleaned it out this month. I tossed out about 10 shirts that I really didn't need to hang on to, and put about 10 more away in storage that were either out-of-season or that I just couldn't part with yet. I did buy some new things (including my first-ever Lululemon purchase...which then led to my second-fourth Lulumon purchases) but really tried to think about what I had, what I needed, what I would really wear, and what I could mix and match. I also made sure that for every knew thing I brought in, I got rid of something old. I know that running is obviously not a fashion show, but I do feel differently depending on how even my running clothes look and fit. I probably didn't *need* some of the things I bought, but I feel good about the things I got and about the things I got rid of.


  1. First, congratulations on finishing Ironman! I really like this longer format of recapping multiple weeks. And yes, I absolutely agree that it's better to be safe than sorry when it comes to staying free of injuries.

    1. Thanks! I ran through an injury during a race last year and learned the hard way not to do that again! I really wanted to get that long run in, but I have way too much at stake this year to have all my plans derailed this early. I have been icing and foam-rolling and have done two normal runs since Sunday, so here's hoping I really was able to nip it in the bud early.

  2. yay for new garmin!! so cool that you can charge it with a portable thingy to make it last as long as you need it to.
    hahaha i'm laughing at the Lululemon purchases because of what we were talking about earlier. i have never bought anything from them because i'm worried i'll love it and buy it all.