Thursday, March 13, 2014

Boston Training

Well hey weirdos.  It seems as though some people thought Shittyblogger's last post was for real.  Even stranger, those individuals were then kind enough to be super supportive of my epic-run-turned-to-hell.  I'm just tickled.  No wonder shit blogs carry on, what with the enabling applause from commenters.

This post is all me, all Boston training, all the time (88% of the time).

This has been a short training period for a marathon -- I officially "started" to train with the Kaiser half marathon in early February.  It's been something like 6 weeks since then, so....6 weeks of training under my belt, only 3.5 weeks to go before the taper sets in.  A 10 week marathon training cycle.

Let me back up for a second.  I am officially running Boston.  I booked the flights and the hotels.

If I wrote this post the day after the bookings, the post would look like this:  "waaaaaahhhhh wah wah, this sucks, I have guilt, no fair, regret regret."

The price we paid per night for the hotel is nonsensical.  It is literally the price most people probably pay for rent per month.  Very hard to swallow, especially because we just drained our bank accounts to buy a home (What!!! Yes!!! we did!!!).  So pretty much the worst time in the history of my life to be spending thousands of dollars on a little side hobby.

I'm cheap.  End of story.  I am freaked out by how much this event will cost, I am worried my bad leg will make the whole thing not worth it, I am nervous that we should have put that money into things we need for our house.

However after a few weeks to simmer down I've let it go and sort of justified the price. I'm excited.  Kinda mostly.

Especially because training hasn't sucked!

I've had some curious success with my running lately despite knowing that steady state race pace running still makes my left leg fall apart.

The past four weeks of training in highlights:

Speed work:

  • 9x800 each at about 2:56; 
  • 4x1600 each at about 6:03; 
  • 4x400 (at 80) + 4x800 (at 2:54) + 1x1600 (at 6:01); 
  • and this Wednesday morning I had an awesome track workout in crazy, crazy wind (not in my favor, I swear) of 10x800 at an average of 2:51.  

2:50; 2:48; 2:53; 2:53; 2:49; 2:55; 2:50; 2:50; 2:53; 2:51.

I've experienced nausea at the track this past month more often than not, and not because I'm pushing too hard.  More like my dinner was still digesting, or my dinner was disagreeable, or I woke up too early, or something.  Just thought I'd note this because it is...a newer thing and fairly consistent.  No I'm not pregnant.  My stomach has simply never behaved the same since Peru.

Long runs: the speed work has been cushioned by a few long runs.  My weekend long runs have been:

18.5 miles; then 20; then 21; then 22.

All between 8:00 and 9:00 minute miles, I don't mess around with long runs.  Keep it to a relaxing, zoned out pace while listening to Beyonce or the Comedy Bang Bang podcasts (anyone else?)

Extras: as a bookend, I've finished a few challenging one hour progression runs on the treadmill, hitting between 8.3 and 8.8 miles for the hour.  Also:

  • hill repeats (just 3-6 one-minute length repeats at a time); 
  • every-other-day planks, up to a 3:50 minute plank; 
  • bridges;
  • I'm taking an iron supplement about 4 times per week.
I've shelled out $$ for two or three ART massage sessions, and came full circle to a declaration I have heard from medical professionals in the past: my sacrum doesn't move like it is supposed to.  But why!? And how do I fix that?!

Also in new news, apparently my left, problem leg, does not point straight.  Since learning this, I have been trying to force the leg to build muscles that would support it pointing "straight" by standing, walking, lunging, and running in a position that feels pigeon toed to me.  Changing the natural position of my foot seems like a smart way to get injured.

Last, I've been running less than normal.  In the past while training for a marathon, I hovered between 75 to 95 miles per week.  Now I'm in the 60-75 mile range.

Presently I've been running 7-10 miles monday through friday, with one long run on Saturday of 18-22 miles, and nothing on Sunday, or something super short like 4 miles.

In reflection...my speed work has been going very well, but I truly don't believe that will translate to a marathon.  I really don't.  I've definitely had great bouts of track work in the past, only to find that my body (left leg) falls apart no matter what after so many miles of running in a race at a faster pace.  I really wish it was all psychosomatic, but it simply isn't.  My left leg pipes up so loudly after several fast miles that it becomes impossible to carry on at a fast pace with my right leg doing all the work.

But there are small glimpses of progress.  Maybe pigeon toed squats will save the day.

Non-Running

Buying a home and moving has been the big story in my life lately.  The process of trying to buy a home sometimes felt like it would never end (we started searching in October, but really started searching and throwing offers at homes in December).  We bid 4 times in total, which I hear is a relatively low number of rejections before hitting the jackpot in the Bay Area.  The three rejected bids were all above listing price by at least 3%, but the home we "won" was bid at asking price.  It's just peculiar luck, because it is a gorgeous, large home on a large lot (flipped and move-in ready, new paint smell and all) in a studly neighborhood, and the asking price was below market value.  We bid on it over the holiday weekend in January, a slow time for home buying, which I think is why it didn't get much attention from other shoppers.

Work has been work.  I hit the three year mark at my job at the beginning of the month.  Is the three year itch a thing?  

Totally obsessed with my niece and nephew still.  A huge factor in our home purchase was the location between our jobs and our families.  We are now squarely in between all four, which makes both of our commutes quite a bit worse (booo....the price you have to pay to stake your flag in some land as opposed to cramming into a small unit in convenient Oakland or San Francisco). But, I am 15 minutes closer to this cutey below.


Fairyland in Oakland.  We lived across the street from this place for 6+ years and finally had a reason to visit with our niece and nephews.  I dress that way for her, by the way.  She likes to make me wear that headband and she L.O.V.E.S. pink.  Did you know the reason girls like pink is because their brains process more shades of it than boys? 
I totally recommend it for kids age 2 to 6.  Only $8 per kiddo or adult, and the kids will freakishly enjoy sliding down grass hills and hugging statues of snow white. 



Ok who else is pumped for Boston!? Or training for another race?

I have a bazillion questions about Boston, like:

  • Are headphones futile because of the crowds?
  • How do you adjust to running a marathon at 10:00 a.m.? I run best right after waking up.
  • How do you kill the long waiting time after the buses drop you off?
  • Is this a good race to plan to not negative split, since the first half is apparently much faster?

All other Boston tips welcome!

39 comments:

  1. Your stomach probably isn't ok after Peru. Eat lots of plain yogurt (or take probiotics) to try to rebuild your normal flora.
    Boston: I put headphones in late, late in the race when the crowds were starting to get too loud and annoying (it was the hot year when everyone was walking and people were all, "NO! RUN!").
    Running at 10 was hard, blood sugar was wacky, can't help you with any advice on that.
    I brought a throw away magazine to read and chatted with some people. Time passes quickly because you also have to check your bag and get to your corral. And I didn't negative split, but I never do anyway. The first half is super fast. The second isn't terrible. I didn't think heartbreak hill was awful.
    Have fun. It's a wonderful experience...but I only did it because we had friends we could stay with. That is one pricey race trip!

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    1. Yes - my blood sugar is my greatest concern for the 10:00 a.m. start. I will have been up for...5 hours? usually before a marathon I am up for 1.5 hours!!! Yes. For a 7:00 a.m. start, I wake up at 5:30 a.m. I don't think I've ever been awake longer. Thanks for the knowledge!

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  2. I wish I was training for Boston! Maybe some day... I'm moving to Boston in the fall, and I'm looking forward to spectate the race next spring

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    1. What an exciting move! I can't wait to just be tourist....I haven't been since I was 17, scoping out Brown and Boston College

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  3. I normally run around 10am because my running buddy is not a morning person. I get up at 8, eat breakfast, drink water, and then maybe have a small second snack before the race.

    Don't feel guilty. This is genuinely going to be a once in a lifetime experience and it's so cool that you'll get to be a part of it.

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    1. That's my justification too :) Thanks for the reminder

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  4. At home I typically run at 5am, so I was worried about the same thing last year with the later start time. It ended up not being an issue. I was coming from Colorado so I just didn't worry about changing time zones in the morning and naturally got up later and transitioned to running later in the mornings when I was out there. I also made of point of running at 10am for my shakeout run the day before. I ate a normal breakfast the day of the race and then just made sure to eat snacks while I waited. I didn't feel like I was waiting forever at the start - I took a magazine but otherwise most of my time was spent waiting in the bathroom line. Overall I didn't think it was a huge adjustment for me to start that late although I was VERY worried about it last year since I'm an early bird usually. I didn't successfully negative split last year but that's my plan this year - everyone I've talked to who has had a great Boston race still did a negative split. The hard part is controlling the pace at the beginning with all the downhills and maintaining. But just about everyone who runs the first half faster ends up having a rough second half. Hope that helps!

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    1. That is very reassuring to hear! I think the long wait/late start is a big concern for me, so hearing your experience helps.

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  5. I'm pumped for Boston! Although, I live in Boston, so I'm biased. This will be my second time running it. Starting at 10 isn't great, but at least from the time change it will feel like 7 for you? This is definitely a race to NOT plan to negative split. Last year I split 1:42/1:45 which I thought was pretty solid. The downhill in the beginning took a lot out of my legs...my quads were burning before I even reached the hills. Like Gracie said, the hills aren't terrible, they just come at a terrible point. Also, brace yourself for feeling claustrophobic for the first 4ish miles (I'm sure you'll love that).
    I don't blame you for feeling guilty about how much it costs but I'm sure that this year will be amazing. For what it's worth, one of my good friends had a leg-lock-esque issue come up in the middle of Boston last year, ended up running a personal worst time, but still had a great experience. She just drank the beer people offered, chatted with other racers, and took in the atmosphere.

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    1. Yay, you're running Boston too! Hopefully you will be one of the sweaty claustrophobic bodies around me during the first 4 miles. Shudder. Do people trip left and right or what?

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  6. Gurl you make me want to go out and do speed work!! I love hearing the gritty details and the data!!
    Boston Tips: We weren’t allowed to wear headphones when I ran the race. Now they are allowed but, the crowds are present way more than any race I have ever run. The crowds will make you feel like a rock star. I say bring your ipod anyway and turn it on when you need to.
    Killing time in the athlete’s village isn’t so bad. Bring throw away clothes and an old solar blanket to sit on in the grass. I’m kind of a chatty Cathy so I talked to random runners to pass the time. Bring a cheesy tabloid magazine to flip through. Or do what Shitty Blogger would do, Live tweet and take tons of #Boston selfies. :)

    I wasn’t used to the 10am start time either. I did have GI issues because I ate an enormous breakfast that was protein heavy (too many scrambled eggs).

    I think it is possible to negative split at Boston. You just have to be really conservative during the first half, which is really hard because of all of the excitement. What wave are you in? I ended up being in the very front of wave 2 and I think that made me go out way faster than I should have.

    I’m racing a half marathon two days before Boston. So I’m in the middle of my training right now too. I’m loosely following a Hal Higdon training plan. I’m hoping to shave a few minutes off of my time from last October. I hope to go back to Boston in a few years.

    It sounds like you are being really careful with your training and your mileage. I have a feeling you will smash it in Boston.

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    1. Your training and speed work has been superb, very excited for your half marathon! I like reading speed work stats too. Definitely inspires workouts and motivation for me when I read about other bloggers' workouts.

      No idea what wave I'm in? Guess I should start reading all the emails the race has been sending my way....

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  7. I wore headphones at Boston last year, when the quads start to hurt because of the early downhill miles you need something to zone out with. Seeing the crowds, not hearing them as well, was enough to keep me going.

    That saying a marathon is a 20-mile run and a 10K race? Totally applies on this course. Once you conquer heartbreak hill, it really is a steady downhill that is all the way into Boston. If you haven't wrecked your legs from the first half, you can really use the last 6 miles to your advantage and negative-split.

    Your post makes me feel so fortunate to live in the Boston area and not have to deal with all the travel costs! I'm thinking the fact that it's Easter weekend also is jacking up the prices for airfare and hotels.

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    1. You are fortunate!! If you (or any friends) want to make a buck off of me, my husband, and my mom, they can take us in ;) It is crazy that it falls on Easter weekend this year. I bet we'll see at least a few runners dressed in bunny suits or something...

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  8. I totally understand the guilt at spending the money, I'm rubbish at spending BIG money too, but try not to feel guilty and enjoy it. This is such a special experience and many of us will never ever get to be part of it (so slow!). I would just love you to enjoy it, make peace with the gulp-worthy investment and love every second of it.

    Secondly...I'm unconvinced about the negative split thing. I realize that it's me versus all the running experts so I am most probably wrong but I don't understand why it's such a good idea. If you run the second half faster than the first half, then it strikes me that you were too conservative with the first half. Could you have run faster? Why is negative splitting any better than running a steady pace throughout? I imagine you'd have to run 'harder' in the second half as your legs would be more tired, but I honestly think negative splitting is over-rated/unnecessary. If you (or anyone) know I'm wrong, I would be so curious to know about it!!

    And congrats on the house :) You're so grown-up!

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    1. T and I had the same discussion recently, and we both agreed that running a positive split is only a bad thing when it's clearly lopsided -- i.e., because you went out too fast. Most of the data supporting negative splits is tracking world class marathoners - the most common quote I've heard is, "All recent world records have been set with negative split pacing." I'd like to see the data on amateur runners. However, I think negative or even splitting is very powerful psychologically -- it's like you're gaining momentum towards the finish line.

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    2. The roadblock for my brain and negative splitting is that, EVEN IF I ran the first 22 miles at a much slower than goal pace, like for example a 9:00 pace, I STILL wouldn't be confident I could run a 7:00 flat or a 6:55 pace for the last 4 miles. After that many miles, it's just not possible no matter how conservative I run. However....I DO think I can run a 7:00 pace for 20 miles, and then hang on for dear life. Seems like the only way for me, but one day, I'll learn the negative split.

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    3. Didn't you negative split CIM in the monsoon?

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    4. Nope. I ran a 1:35 first half and 1:36 second half. I took the first half verrrry easy. But then again, I wasn't in marathon shape at that one so maybe it's an outlier and a negative split is a possibility. I'll believe it when I see it!

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  9. so just to let you know... we are moving back to california!!! WAHOO!!! I can't wait to come see you in your home! And then you can come see me in mine! I am actually moving a little farther north of calistoga... yikes, rural country, but rural countries need midwives, so that is where we will be. we need to find time to catch up! Miss you and think about you often. like today is 3/13/14... last year was way cooler than this year on this day.

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  10. Note to self - BQ and run Boston while actually living in Boston. I've got five years (other half is very smart and got into a PhD programme first go), so my time starts...now :P

    On running at 10am, I think time zones are going to be your friend here; it'll be your regular run time. Sorry I can't help you with the rest, even the places I used to eat when I lived there have closed! Although you will get a chocolate chip cannoli from Mike's Pastry and you will probably like it.

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    1. Someone else mentioned a Boston cannoli! I wonder if it was the same place. Yum. I can't remember the last time I had a good cannoli.

      Get your BQ! Good luck!

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  11. Since I've only run one marathon (which wasn't Boston...ha) I don't have any meaningful advice. I do hope you surprise yourself and end up running really well. I can't imagine the final cost. With NYC, it ended up being god awful and I didn't even end up flying. I can relate due to the long wait time, middle of the day type of running...also daylight savings time went back so it felt later. I was up roughly 7 hours before the race and not able to eat normally.

    Honestly I would just practice getting up at the time you plan to get up and poke around then run, ect. I wish so much I had done that.

    Anyways I can't wait to see how you do. I always get excited when I see your posts. Also I love those leggings.

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    1. 7 hours awake! That is such a game changer. I will really have to figure out how to eat during all that time....

      Thanks for your support Hollie! p.s. softest leggings ever, love them, Forever 21 from a couple years ago. Maybe they still make similar ones amidst the 298347,9983 other pieces of clothing in the store.

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  12. I swear we are living parallel lives, minus the leg lock thing, and except for running completely different paces. For one thing, we are both moving/have moved out of Oakland into suburban dwellings (so much room!! And no shared walls!!! Amazing!!!!). Second, I also have had a short-ish training cycle going into the Oakland Marathon. Third, I also don't believe my short distance speedwork will translate into marathon success. I haven't done as many long runs as I have in the past, and I'm scared of the big hill leading up to Montclair. However, I've been doing a shit-ton of hill training and trail running, and I've become a better racer over the last couple of months, so I hope those things carry me to victory in 10 days. Wishing both of us luck!!!

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    1. Do you mad miss Oakland already? I'm so excited for the extra room, no shared walls, less car breakins, etc. etc. but I'm also very nervous that I will miss the shit out of Oakland!

      The Oakland marathon course looks like a beast. Kudos to you for going for it. Strong and steady up that big hill, and then smooooth sailing. Nothing feels better than the confidence boost from good training, keep it up!

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  13. I think most people kill the time becoming besties with all their running buddies, but I think you can also just huddle for warmth. I'm not 100% sure headphones are allowed, though obviously you can just wear them if you're not worried about winning an award anyway. But, yeah, sort of futile. You could start doing runs on the weekends a few hours after you get up to get used to that, but it's not a big deal. I mean don't you usually have a few hours between waking up and running in races? And, I have no idea about negative splitting, but you should definitely not try to go too fast at the beginning or you blow your legs out. Or, so I've been told.

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    1. I'm an expert at going out to fast. THIS time I won't. Right? I mean, the crowds will make sure I don't.

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  14. A few random comments here... 1- the only thing missing from your last post was a leg/ running shoe selfie with your overall pace average displayed on your watch. That seems to be the thing to do these days.

    2. training- I seriously with I had a training friend like you for my 800 repeats. What recovery do you do between? My 800 times are very similar which makes me think your marathon PR could be in Boston... :-)

    3. And speaking of Boston, if yours is anything like mine was last year the morning will go by FAST. I hardly even noticed the later start time. The bus ride to Hopkinton was the longest part. I thought between port-a-potty breaks and misc. the time at Hopkinton went by REALLY fast. You could wear headphones at Boston (my friends have) but I would recommend not wearing them to get the full Boston experience. There is so much going on- all the time. Also, if you like people cheering your name you could have your name on your tank. I have never done this in a race before (and only ever have then) but it was constantly motivating me. I've never been cheered on more in my life than I was at Boston. As far as splits- I'd still shoot to run pretty even splits. Your first mile or two might be a little slower just because of the crowds. Even though you are placed with runners with similar times it is still about 10-15 sec. slower than you will probably want. (At least that was my experience.) Heartbreak Hill is not that bad. If you are doing any hill running you should be fine. The best mile in the entire race is the one AFTER Heartbreak Hill- mile 22- hello Boston College!

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    1. I'm so flattered you would consider me for a training friend! For 800 repeats, I recover by jogging one lap, sometimes a little less than a lap (it's all mental games for me, and I like starting/finishing each repeat at a slightly different place on the track.) For 400 repeats, I jog a half-lap. Mile repeats, one lap jog recovery. If I'm realllllly working hard, I'll take a 3 minute break about half way through the session to stretch and recover.

      I was thinking of your Boston recap (man, that feels so recent!) because I remember you used the athlete tape. Do you still recommend it? I strapped some on recently and I was digging it. Placebo or otherwise, I liked it.

      Definitely gotta write my name on my shirt -- thank you for that tip!

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  15. The KTape (sp?) guy was at Boston expo and did a great job putting it on the right way. It really helped my tendonitis issues I was having at the time. (Didn't feel it at all during the race.) I've only had to use the tape once since then but I didn't put it in quite as well as the expo guy. There are YouTube videos and they help. Anyway, I think you are ready. Boston is a great course and very PR worthy in my mind. I'm excited for everyone going. Since I'm not running it this year I will be doing lots of runner tracking! Not quite the same but it's still pretty fun!

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  16. Lately some people have been commenting in earnest on a post I wrote years ago about how I quit breathing air to lose weight. I just...don't know what to do with that.
    No marathoning advice from me but I think your speed work is beautiful and I wish you the best of luck and weather in Boston.

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    1. hahaha. haha. I still can't believe people thought the shittyblogger post was real. This is a little bit more fantastic.

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  17. I saw that place when I was there! SOOOOO jealous you live so close to your niece and nephew! Blogging is so, so weird. Sometimes commenters say the oddest things.

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    1. The odder the comment, the better.

      I feel like 45 minutes is TOO FAR from them, I wish it was 15 minutes. Thanks for the reminder it could definitely be worse, they are relatively close. We have 2 nephews on the Gentlemen's family side who live in Alabama, and we see them once a year at Christmas. Pretty sad.

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  18. I cannot wait to see your new home!! Gah! So exciting!!

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  19. Congrats on the new home! So glad you're enjoying your training :)

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  20. Yay for Boston! Whether you are in perfectly "healthy" running condition or not, I'm sure you will enjoy the experience. This will be my first time running Boston and I share your concern about the late start. But, my plan is to adjust my whole race morning routine back two hours, as most marathons start at 8am. So instead of starting the pre-race "feeding and fueling" at 5am, I'll probably start closer to 7 and do the same morning drill I always do to keep it as similar as possible.
    Good luck with the next few weeks of training! I hope they continue to give you speedy gains:)
    And, congrats on the house - very exciting!

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