MCM Training: Week 1 and 2 Recap

Sorry y’all, I’ve been slacking on my blogging about training lately. Thankfully, my running hasn’t been slacking!

Training for the 2017 Marine Corps Marathon officially kicked off for us on June 20th. For previous marathons, we’ve both followed Hal Higdon’s Novice plans (1 and 2). This time, however, we wanted to increase our mileage a bit and really come in under 5 hours. So, we’re both doing Intermediate, which calls for five days of running. The midweek stuff is fine, no real differences there. But running both Saturday AND Sunday, that’s a huge chance. Sundays were our days to kick back, sleep in, relax, and get ready for the week. Now we basically have to wake up early every day. Sucks.

Week 1 was good, actually some cool weather in the mornings, which was nice. We even managed to go out Friday and Saturday night and still hit our runs. Woohoo!

Week 2 was a bit warmer, but still not bad. Already up to a weekend of five and eleven miles, so this plan definitely ramps up quickly. But we’ve been running a lot, including two half marathons in the first part of the year, so we’ve been consistently going 8-12 miles every weekend.

This weekend we also undertook our first semi-serious DIY project around the house. Our pantry (and all closets) have these awful wire shelves, which I hate. I’ve wanted to get rid of them since we moved in, but never got around to it. So on Saturday (after our five milers) we went to Home Depot and bought everything we would need. The project spilled into Sunday (after eleven miles), but we finally finished it all up around 4PM. We were exhausted! But it looks great, so we’re happy with the outcome.

Week 3 has begun, and so has the heat. Not looking forward to those terrible runs when it’s so hot and humid you can barely breath and want to die after five miles.

Happy Independence Day everyone!

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Weekly Recap: May 8-14

Sorry for the delay in posting this, things have been a bit hectic (as they always are in May).

It was a fairly straightfoward week, four runs (including a race), a swim and a bike. The bike was meant to be easy and short, and I shortened it even more after leaving the house without my (full of delicious ice water) bottle. Left the damn thing right next to where my bike was. Fail.

Saturday, of course, was the Bluff City 10k, where I came up just 44 seconds short of hitting sub-50 at the 10k distance. I hadn’t really been training to do it, and I ran hard at Louisville only two weeks before, so I can’t complain. But I definitely could have gone faster if I had more energy. We had great weather for it too, so it’s a shame I wasn’t fully ready to go. Oh well.

Other than that, a pretty quiet week. I had a cold or allergies for the first half (still have a runny nose!), but doing much better now. Of course, now Ro is dealing with whatever I had! Poor girl.

Race Report: 2017 Bluff City 10k

Alternate Title: So Close!

This was the third year I’ve signed up for this race, and the second time I’ve actually ran it (last year…I uh….had too much fun the night before). It’s always right around Ro’s birthday, and it’s super convenient to our house. The course is essentially a massive loop that runs alongside our typical routes anyway, so we’re used to running on the terrain. Having just done the Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon and hitting a massive PR only two weeks ago, we didn’t have high hopes for this, though PRs were dancing in our heads.

Friday I picked up our packets, and then we headed to dinner for her birthday. Now, we usually have pasta before a race. But given it was her birthday, she wanted something fancier. So off to the Capital Grille we went. We munched on delicious seafood, crazy good steaks, a decadent dessert, a bottle of wine and some cocktails before. Absolutely delicious, but not the right meal before a race!

Saturday morning, we woke up feeling very heavy and not at all interested in eating any more food. We did the best we could and ran the mile or so to the race start.

We started a bit closer to the front than we had hoped, and right at 8AM we were off. My goal was to keep things as close to an 8 minute mile as possible, to hopefully hit a sub-50 finish time. Things were right on track for the first four miles, but then the course turned uphill for nearly an entire mile, and I started slowing down a bit. I was still keeping things close though; mile 6 was 8:11. I crossed the finish line in 50:43, so damn close!

Afterwards, I waited for Ro to finish (1:00:34! So close!), then we started walking back to the house. We stopped along the way to cheer on some other runners (did I mention the course literally runs in front of our house?) and a very dear friend.

All in all, a great race all things considered. I’m not gonna complain too much about a nearly two-minute PR, and coming just two weeks after a PR in the half; two PRs in three weeks! Not too bad!

That’s it for scheduled races until October (things tend to slow down after May here in the mid-south, given how damn hot it gets) and the MCM. Formal training for that begins in late June, though I’ll be keeping up my base workouts for the time being.

Race Report: 2017 Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon

Alternate Title: Winning Despite Conditions

Sometimes things just click. They just work right, despite the conditions, despite circumstances beyond your control, despite wondering if you can really do it. This past Saturday in Louisville, Kentucky, was one of those times. While it wasn’t an ideal situation, I somehow managed to not only hit my goal, but I blew past it. Finally a sub-2 hour half marathon! I knocked off six minutes from my PR and over nine from Little Rock. But first…

Friday: The Expo
We left Memphis early Friday morning to make the 5.5 hour drive to Louisville. We swung by the expo to pick up our packets and shirts first, as this was outside the city a bit and made the most sense. Pretty standard expo, though very confusing to find anything. We had to drive all the way around the exposition center to enter our designated gate, then no real directions from there to find the specific hall we needed. We followed what looked like runners and eventually found it. Once you got your bib and shirt, you snake your way around to the exit. Odd thing: they had TWO different gutter guard companies. At a race expo. Since, ya know, when you’re about to run a marathon or half marathon, all you can think about are ways to keep leaves out of your gutters.

Yeah I’m a turtle all right

The t-shirt was actually pretty solid. Tech, a nice gray color, and I like these types of maps that basically show the course and different highlights around it.

Pretty nice (and wrinkled!)

After that, it was time to fuel. We had a pasta buffet at a nearby hotel (not ours, but next door). It had the standard stuff, but was pretty tasty surprisingly. And of course, you gotta hydrate!

Beer: the fuel for all serious athletes

And with that, we headed off to watch TV and go to bed. The weather had looked to be warm and humid, so we didn’t think any PRs were gonna happen. Additionally, there was a very slight chance of thunderstorms overnight, but the race twitter feed assured us everything would be fine. Oops.

Saturday: The Race and The Aftermath
We woke up and started getting ready. It definitely stormed overnight, as I was awoken several times by thunder (and the loudest A/C unit ever!). We ate, got ready, and headed down to get in our corrals. We made it to the lobby before we heard that the race was delayed 30 minutes. So we chilled for 30 minutes and started heading out to the corrals again.

A storm’s a’brewin’

We didn’t even make it around the block before we saw a tweet that it was delayed another 30 minutes. So back into the hotel we went. And after 20 minutes, they announced ANOTHER 30 minute delay. What was supposed to be a 7:30AM start was now pushed to 9AM. Which meant that we would be running in a hotter part of the day. Which meant those in the later corrals running the full likely were screwed if the race couldn’t keep the course open for the allowable time (note: they did not). Finally, at 9:10 or so, the race began and we were off!

The look of pure humidity

The race was very crowded for the first two miles or so, before it opened up. It took me until mile 3 to start getting close to 9:00/mile pace. The humidity wasn’t too bad surprisingly, and the clouds definitely kept the temps cool. I made the right choice in clothes for once!

The course

You run a bit downtown, then straight out towards Churchill Downs, the famous horse racing venue. You run on the inside portion of it, then the half and full marathons split, with the half (or miniMarathon as they call it) heading back up towards downtown. It was here, starting at mile 8.5, that it was basically uphill the whole way home. I was holding a good pace between 8:30-8:50 for most of it, which was awesome! I was alternating between water and powerade at each aid station, and took some Gu blocks at mile six.

I kept doing mental math the whole time, and when I hit mile 11 I knew I had my goal in sight. I managed to keep the pace until the very end, pumped my fists as I crossed and couldn’t believe I had hit 1:55:40. My goal coming in was simply to beat two hours, and I destroyed that goal. I was so thrilled with my performance!

Afterwards, I waited for Ro to finish, we took our official finisher photos, grabbed some waters and food and headed straight to the hotel. Sure, we were tired (she got a PR by two minutes!), but we had brunch to get to!

The best way to refuel!

After this, I felt human again

After food, it was time to do what they do best in Kentucky: bourbon! We went straight to the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience to take our tour and taste some delicious bourbon! It was awesome!

So good!

After that, we hopped around a bit more to check out other spots, had a yummy dinner, then went back to the hotel to finally crash. We both slept very well that night, then headed back to Memphis in the morning. That was not a fun drive.

All in all, it was a fantastic race weekend. We both PR’d and I managed to crush my goal and FINALLY get a sub-2, something I’ve tried unsuccessfully to do for several years now. Just goes to show that the work I’ve been putting in has made massive improvements. Now I just need to keep it up for MCM in October!

Weekly Recap: 4/17 – 4/23

Another solid week of training, including taper for the Kentucky Derby half marathon. I slightly increased my Wednesday medium run to be six miles, as I want to get out of the 4/5/4 or 5/5/5 rut. Time to start taking those to be a bit longer!

Weekly recap for 4/17 – 4/23

Tuesday is typically my speed work day. Since it was the week before a race, I did an easy 3 mile goal pace run, totaling five miles. I’ve been doing this workout often during this training cycle, and I’m hoping it’ll help come race day and my goal of sub-2.

Of course, the weather might have other ideas. The current forecast is a low of 72 and high of 89. That’s not gonna be fun, and the back half is mostly uphill. Yikes!

Our Saturday run got wiped out in the rain, so we moved it to Sunday instead. I know we better get used to Sunday runs since it’s part of my training plan for MCM and Dopey, but it still sucks. Just feels like everything is off. Without a run to do Saturday, I was able to whip up a little feast!

My feast!

Asian-spiced shrimp with a parmesan risotto and an onion & brussel sprouts mix in a soy glaze. Delightful! The meal was completed by some wedding cake, which, after a year, is surprisingly still delicious!

It’s race week, so keeping things nice and easy for the taper. We will head up to Louisville on Friday and we’ve got a fun post-race weekend planned.