Jul 22

Running with the Right People – Columbus Marathon Training Wk4

lionsLast winter when I started training for the Pittsburgh Marathon, I decided it might be a good idea to train with a running group. I thought it would be safer, would push me and I would be able to surround myself with people who are on the same page as me….crazy…to run through the sleet and snow for fun. :)

I joined a group and went for a couple of runs. The few people that I got to know inf the group were fantastic, however I still ran alone. Let me elaborate; the fast kids ran a little too fast and the slow kids were a little too slow. So, it didn’t quite work out. I probably could have stuck with it longer and found the right people, but through a friend got hooked up with another group. The times and places they met were a little more convenient and I stuck with them for most of my long runs throughout the winter. But, I never really found my niche.

This past Sunday, I finally understood why people like running with other people so much. I ran with Frank and his daughter Brianna. All three of us have about the same goal for Columbus. Frank and I are shooting for a 3:50 and Brianna is working to break four hours. So, our long run paces are about the same. We pushed each other, made the time go by with conversation and all three of us felt great at the end of 12 miles. I think I found my running group for the rest of the summer. I look forward to making progress with them, making conversation with them and ultimately reaching our goals together.

20140721-231127-83487778.jpgThis week’s training:

I’m going to make this short and sweet because I’m boarding a plane to Chicago to celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary! 20 years! I may not blog this week but will share pieces of my adventure on Instagram and Twitter. My running schedule is a little off this week, but I’ll fit the miles in. Luckily it’s the first “step-back” week.

  • Monday – Run 3.75 miles @ 8:56 (done!)
  • Tuesday – rest
  • Wednesday – 3 miles (some kind of speed work in Chicago)
  • Thursday – rest
  • Friday – 3 miles @ 9:15
  • Saturday – 6 miles @ marathon pace (8:35-8:45)
  • Sunday – 10 miles @ 9:15-9:45

Jul 21

Monday Motivation



Jul 16

Welcome to the Grind – Columbus Marathon Training Wk3

grindMarathon training is a roller coaster ride. A little scary, exciting, full of ups and downs and sometimes makes you feel sick. I say “makes you feel sick” because today was speed work day, which is typically my most grueling workout of the week. :)

There was a sort of lull after the Pittsburgh Marathon, followed by the anticipation of starting a new training cycle. A new goal, new paces to shoot for, a new race to daydream about.

Then, training started. Runs have purpose and meaning. Expectations are high. It’s all brand new and the 3 hour and 50 minute goal at the end of the tunnel is palpable. Two weeks goes by, all is well, but the brain knows what’s coming and whispers (more like shouts) “WELCOME TO THE GRIND”.

Ah yes, I remember the drill now and the daily reminders that yes, marathon training is in full swing:

1. The aching muscles.
2. The early morning alarms.
3. The endless pile of running laundry.
4. The need to shovel food into my mouth 24/7.
5. The anxiety I get when weekend plans may include a Friday or Saturday night with strange foods and heaven forbid, alcohol.
6. Scheduling the rest of my life around my weekly mileage.
7. Evaluating and re-evaluating the training plan (is it challenging enough?)
8. My obsession with the weather. Rain, heat and humidity become key factors to my day-to-day happiness.
9. Running is all I think about.

I’m not saying it’s not exciting anymore, it is, but at times it does become a matter of GRINDING IT OUT. The run, work, rest, repeat is enough to drain you mentally. Running is not for the weak minded individual. Yes, at times I may complain, but make no mistake, I THRIVE on this.

Last week’s training went as planned but also included a 5K and a dip in the river after my long run. Gotta mix things up. :) Unfortunately, I wasn’t as good at documenting every run with a photo, but here are a couple:

runsThis week’s training schedule:

  • Monday – Rest
  • Tuesday – 3 miles @ 9:00-9:15
  • Wednesday – 3 miles 800 repeats (800′s at 3:50)
  • Thursday – 3 miles @ 9:15-9:45
  • Friday – Rest
  • Saturday – 6 miles @ marathon pace 8:35-8:45
  • Sunday – 12 miles @ 9:15-9:45

Training for Columbus or another race? Please share your progress. Have a great week!

Jul 14

GNC Live Well Liberty Mile – FREE REGISTRATION – How fast can YOU run a mile?

2014-runner-legs-bannerMost of the time when I think of racing in the summer, I automatically think 5K or 10K races, two great race distances that keep me on top of my game while I train for the fall marathon. But this year, I’m also participating in the GNC Live Well Liberty Mile in downtown Pittsburgh. I haven’t run a mile race since I was on the track team in high school and I’m pretty excited and anxious to see what I can do. I think the mile distance is challenging because it tests your speed with a decent amount of endurance to hold that speed.

Besides the fact that I’ll be at the race to Tweet and Facebook race happenings, the other cool part about my participation is the fact the I’m not just participating as an individual, but as part of the TEAM CHALLENGE. I’ve recruited a few of my running friends for my team, but ONE spot still remains open for any This Runner’s Fuel reader to join us. More about that at the end of this post.


1. Anyone can run a mile! This race doesn’t take weeks and weeks of training. However, if you want to test your speed and challenge yourself, there are one-mile training plans available online, like the one I found on Running Competitor to help you get ready.

2. You can recruit and sign up with a co-ed, all female or all-male team in one of the following categories; corporate, neighborhood, or open. I’m excited to run with my teammates listed below. Yeah, we’re going to kick some serious butt!

  • Shawn: Currently training for the Columbus Marathon this fall. (Go Shawn!).
  • Derek: Who just crushed his first marathon, Pittsburgh, this past May.
  • Jessica: Ran and dominated her last half marathon in well under 2 hours.
  • Me (yay!)
  • Open spot: Want to join us?? Details at the end of this post

3. Even when you’re race wave is over, It’ll be fun to stick around and watch the the other runners compete in their heats.

4. A chance to see some phenomenal Elite runners compete for some serious prize money. The Elite race is by invitation only and sponsored by the American Development Program by PGH Three Rivers Marathon, Inc.

5. A chance to participate in a truly unique race in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh.

Basic Race Information (for additional information, please visit the official race site)

Date: Friday, August 1st

Time: 7:00pm

Cost: $30 for adults, $20 kids 13 and under (Yes, they have heats for kids!) SO, the whole family can participate!


liberty mileSo, there’s the information and some reasons why this race is going to rock!

Want to join the This Runners Fuel Team? Enter below by logging in with your e-mail address. Earn Bonus points for tweeting about the giveaway and/or liking my Facebook page. A winner will be chosen Friday, July 18th and notified by e-mail. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Jul 14

Monday Motivation


Jul 09

What I ate Wednesday

For a couple of weeks now I’ve started this post then in the middle of the day forget to take pictures and forget to log the food. Finally, yesterday I was on the ball. With marathon training being two weeks in, I do want to mention that I pay closer attention to what I’m eating. Seems like it should be the other way around right? When I’m not burning as many calories I should watch what I eat and during training pig out because of the activity level – LOL.

It’s almost exactly the opposite with me. It’s probably why I gained four pounds since Pittsburgh. Which actually doesn’t get an “LOL”. At any rate, I’m more careful because I have certain expectations when it comes to what I eat. I want my food to (1) keep me healthy, (2) help me recover and (3) help me perform my best. In other words, I tend to eat a little cleaner during training. I don’t want foods that will take a long time to digest, or make me sluggish.

So, on to Tuesday’s meals:

I’m still following my same morning routine; up early to run before work. Yesterday I wasn’t really in the mood to eat much, but I’m ALWAYS in the mood for almonds. They aren’t the best choice prior to a run (high in fat and fiber) but I was only going 3 miles so it wasn’t that critical.

20140708-081027-29427071.jpgPost run meal was Almond Dream non-dairy yogurt (coconut flavor) and a banana. Great mix of carbs and protein.

20140708-081027-29427446.jpgI’m still involved in Tuesday morning work sessions, so I bring my snack along with me. My co-workers are completely used to me taking pictures of my food. :) I had leftover chopped kale salad from the evening before with lemon garlic vinaigrette, which is my new favorite dressing. Of course I had to make sure my pink, glowing mouse was in the shot. Everyone always comments on it.

20140709-143729-52649333.jpgFor lunch it was more leftovers from the previous night. Tempeh and Asian vegetable stir fry over Udon noodles. I absolutely love Japanese noodles.

20140709-143730-52650036.jpgI never ate an afternoon snack because lunch had me pretty full. I didn’t have much time when I got home from work because Rich and I had plans to see my Nephew Carson swim at his meet, and I still wasn’t that hungry, so I grabbed a peach on the way out the door.

20140709-143731-52651248.jpgNeedless to say, when I got home a couple of hours later, I was starving. I was in emergency mode. Luckily I keep veggie burgers in the freezer for occasions like this. Gardein garden veggie burgers are my favorite. I had that on a whole wheat bun with sliced tomatoes and spinach. On the side I had some lentils that I cooked earlier in the week and I topped it off with a glass of Bolthouse Farms Daily Greens juice. The juice is something new I tried this week. It was on sale, so I figured what the heck. By reading the label, I know that juicing myself is way better for you, but this isn’t a complete loss as far as nutrition goes.

20140709-143731-52651968.jpgSo, I am using a new app for my food lately, MyNetDiary Pro, and I’m still trying to figure out the best way to show some type of daily summary.  This app really has some cool reports, charts and analysis, but I picked these to summarize.


 Looks like I was a touch short on calories, but lord knows I’ll make that up another day. Carb, fat and protein ratios we perfect and I managed to avoid trans fat. A good day I would say.

Hopefully, I can back on the ball with this regularly. A couple of people asked why it went away. :)


Jul 08

Persistence – Columbus Marathon Training – Wk2

Two Sundays ago, I had a horrible run. My mind wasn’t focused on the task at hand, it was hot, humid and just all around yucky. I barely got through 10 miles. I stopped, started and stopped again and again repeatedly. I thought to myself – I’ve lost my fitness level, I just don’t have the endurance I had a month ago. Seriously. But, I’m committed to finding something good and positive in EVERY run so, I thought “well, you didn’t pass out, puke or die – so ya know, it’s all good”. But I can’t lie and say I wasn’t a little disappointed or disgusted. I mean, marathon training was starting in two days.

So here I am 6 runs later looking back, knowing I should have known better. Two quotes that I previously posted here came to mind:

77coming-backOkay – so I guess I wouldn’t exactly call it a miracle, but my running really made a turn for the better this week. And the coming back and coming back was the key. Persistence is key in distance running. I’ve talked many times about bad runs, bad races, bad days, bad weeks, and how it sometimes brought me down but inevitably fueled a fire within me to work harder.

Perhaps it was the official start of marathon training. A switch flipped in my head telling me that this is business, it’s time to work if I want to qualify in October, there’s no getting around that fact. The miles have to be run, the paces have to be hit. I take it more seriously than maintenance runs. I have focus and purpose. Oh yeah, and this past Sunday it was 20 degrees cooler and less humid than the previous Sunday. That didn’t hurt. :)

20140708-210839-76119340.jpgThe two 10 mile runs were like night and day. But, I NEVER would have known that a great 10 miler was around the corner had I given up, let that bad run break my spirit and mental capacity to do better. It’s so easy to let the bad runs get you down, make you feel like less of a runner than you are or could be. It’s the going back and going back to find out what’s inside time and time again that makes not just our legs and bodies stronger, but our minds stronger. At least strong enough and smart enough to know that bad runs happen, bad days happen, bad races AND bad weeks DO happen.

If you’re having a weak moment or you’re losing confidence in your fitness level or ability, keep at it, be persistent, cause the miracle (or at least a great run) is right around the corner waiting for you to grab it.

This week’s Schedule:

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: 3 miles (9:00 – 9:15 pace)
  • Wednesday: 3 miles (mile repeats at 7:55, lap recovery) upper body strength training
  • Thursday: 3 miles easy (9:15-9:30 pace)
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 6 miles at marathon pace (8:35 – 8:45 pace)
  • Sunday: 11-12 miles long slow day (9:15 – 9:30 pace)

Jul 07

Monday Motivation


Jul 04

Running in the Heat and Humidity – How I Plan to Cope

Lehigh Valley (Hot, Humid) Marathon training run. (2013)

Lehigh Valley (Hot, Humid) Marathon training run. (2013)

Last year I trained for the Lehigh Valley Marathon through the summer. It was hot, it was miserable. I cut long runs short (please refer to Desperately Seeking TWENTY) and it really put a damper on my motivation and confidence. I swore I would never train through the summer again. But here I am…week one of yet another Summer training cycle. I was quickly reminded of how badly I perform in the heat during a regular 10-mile long run last Sunday. I had to go slow, I had to stop several times, I couldn’t breathe, I was melting from the inside out. (Oh, the drama)
I’m committed to reaching my goal in October and if acclimating to the heat is what I have to do, then so be it.

First I had to do a little reading to understand exactly what it is about the heat and humidity that makes it so hard for me. I found lots of good information on the topic but here’s a short summary. As the body heats up, our cooling mechanism takes over by producing droplets of sweat the rise to the skin’s surface. As the sweat evaporates the body is cooled. However on a humid day, the sweat doesn’t evaporate, trapping heat. As body heat continues to rise, the body starts funneling blood to your organs and to the skin’s surface which forces the heart to work harder and the lungs have to work harder with less oxygen set aside solely for them. Everyone reacts differently to these conditions. Unfortunately, I seem to be one of those people who reacts negatively to these conditions.(of course)

But, there’s good news. Experts say that the body will acclimate to hotter and more humid conditions if you continue to train in them. 10-14 days seems to be the magic number. So, I figure if I gut it out during the beginning of this training cycle, eventually, it’ll get easier for me. I can also take some additional steps to make the transition quicker and smoother.

  • Hydrate sooner and more often. Typically I don’t carry water on runs shorter than 10 miles, but in this weather, since I’m not Speedy Gonzales, runs over 6 miles may require me to take along a water bottle.
  • Drink cool water. One of the worst things about a route that has no water stops and having to carry your own is being forced to drink luke warm water. Even during marathons when the water sits on tables for hours, cold water is scarce! I found an insulated bottle I plan to order that may do a better job of keeping my water cold.

bottleGear change. Last week I wore my typical running outfit, compression shorts and a singlet. The compression shorts, although they are super comfortable to run in, may not be the best choice in really hot an humid weather. They were soaked through when I was done and felt like I was wrapped in cellophane. So, I will probably switch to looser, more breathable running shorts on humid days, like the ones pictured below.


  • Keep my head cool. I run in a hat most of the time in the summer in an effort to keep the sun off my face. The reality is, the hat is probably holding in some heat,so instead, I’ll switch to a headband to keep my hair in place and use extra sunscreen. I also read that if you use a buff as a headband (I do), it can be wet and placed in the freezer prior to your run and worn chilled when you’re ready. I have a friend who always wears his and stops to wet it throughout the run and uses it mid-run to wipe his head, back of his neck and face. Another way to to stay cool.
  • Run at cooler times of the day. This, you’ve probably heard a million times, and it seems like a no brainier but running in the early morning and later in the evening is better when the temperatures are high. It’s still humid, but at least you have a few degree on your side.

I also plan on taking a break from the heat all together and running indoors occassionally, especially when my schedule dictates a mid-day run. I did this in the winter when it was icy, so doing this when it’s extremely hot, or just to take a break from the heat is not going to hurt.

Like I said earlier, there IS hope, the body should adjust. Plus, all this running in hot conditions will make a cool, fall marathon seem like a breeze. :) Yeah, that’s what I’m going with.

In the meantime:

Garmin_MagnetQuestion: Does the heat have an impact on your training? How do you cope?

Jul 01

Columbus Marathon Training Wk1

ColumbusI feel like I’ve been in some sort of lull since the Pittsburgh Marathon. I’ve been enjoying some leisurely runs while still maintaining some sort of fitness level. I’ve been casually running anywhere from 15-25 miles a week and racing occasionally. Despite the fact that I didn’t HAVE TO get up and run, I followed a schedule, running on my normal days during the week but thoroughly enjoying some more hours back on the weekends.

Well, the madness has officially started again today, as I begin my journey to the Columbus Marathon on October 19th. I’ve already stated with confidence that Columbus WILL BE my Boston Qualifier for 2016 and I’m not wavering from my stance. Belief will be a big part of my success. After I trained for the Lehigh Valley marathon last summer I swore I wouldn’t train during the summer again. My hate for running in the heat and humidity is still there, but I’m keeping an open mind. From what I understand running in the heat will be great preparation for a nice cool crisp day in October when it’s so much easier to run. I do have some particular strategies and tactics to get me through the heat that I’ll post later in the week.

The Plan:

plan picMy marathon plan came from Coach K again, and is very similar to the Pittsburgh Marathon plan. EXCEPT – my prescribed paces are faster. My goal marathon pace for Pittsburgh was an 8:57. I ended up with a 9:05 pace when I crossed the finish line which wasn’t exactly my goal pace, but still got me a sub 4 hour marathon, my ultimate goal. This time around, my goal marathon pace is an 8:45, but to qualify for Boston I can technically hit an 8:54. The difference this time is, I really don’t want to run much slower than an 8:45.  Boston accepts participants who run their qualifying time or below, BUT allow those who are the fastest BELOW their qualifying times first. For example a person running 20 minutes below their qualifying time may apply the day registration opens.  A few days later they open it up to runners who are 10 minutes under and finally, almost a week later, those runners who hit 5 minutes below their qualifying time may apply. The slower you are, the smaller your chance of being accepted gets.

The short answer to all of that is I need a 3:55 to qualify but should ideally run a 3:50. End of story.

The plan will top out at about 530 miles with my longest run reaching 22 miles and my highest mileage week hitting 43 miles. The miles will be split into the following categories.

  • Long slow runs (Pace Goal 9:15-9:45)
  • Medium day runs (Pace Goal 9:00-9:15)
  • Pace runs (8:35-8:45)
  • Hill Sprints (as fast as I can go without puking)
  • 800 repeats (3:50 for ½ mile with ¼ mile recovery)
  • Mile repeats (7:55 or faster for 1 mile with ¼ mile recovery)

This week:

  • Monday – Rest
  • Tuesday – 3 miles (9:00-9:15)
  • Wednesday – strength train AM 3 miles hill sprints PM
  • Thursday – 3 miles (9:15-9:45)
  • Friday – Rest
  • Saturday – 5 mile pace run (8:35-8:45)
  • Sunday – 10 miles long slow (9:15-9:45)

I’m fired up (literally from the weather) and in my mind to tackle this plan aggressively. I have a lot of work to do and some leaps and bounds to make, but by week 14, I should feel confident I can reach my goal. I look forward to sharing my progress and always welcome suggestions and motivation :)

bring it

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