Apr 15

Pittsburgh Marathon – Training Week Fourteen (when runs go bad)

20140414-200043.jpgI would feel bad NOT mentioning Boston today, the one year anniversary of the attack on such a cherished race. The media is really doing a great job covering the “one year later” so I won’t go into any of that. I’ve written about my experience and memories here and here so if you feel inclined you can re-visit those posts.

Now on with week fourteen. Last week was one of those weeks when nearly EVERY run felt great! I had energy, my legs felt great, and my mood matched! Tuesday was an easy 6 miles at a relaxed pace. Wednesday was hill sprint/repeat day and I did those later in the day around my neighborhood with Cooper. The little guy did fantastic, but started to lose his pep after 2.5 miles, so I dropped him off at home to recuperate while I did the other 2.5.  Thursday was another easy day on the treadmill followed by a day of rest on Friday.

Saturday the forecast was beautiful and it didn’t disappoint. It was shorts and a tee shirt for my 5 mile pace run. I didn’t have 15 layers on and it only took me a few minutes to get dressed. Typically I’m layering and layering, tucking and covering. It takes me longer to get dressed some days in the winter than to run a mile. No joke. Saturday was supposed to be a pace run, but I was feeling so good, that I effortlessly (well, almost effortlessly) ran 5 miles at an 8:25, nearly 30 seconds under marathon pace. Good times. Pictures from last week:

20140414-192711.jpgThis is where the week kind of took a turn. Now on to the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad run. My last 20 miler before I taper. I was so excited to get out and run this because I was feeling so great all week. I expecting to kill it. Instead, it nearly killed me. Ha, not quite, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for. I knew the temperatures were going to be warm…I mean WARM. A drastic shift from my previous long runs. I SHOULD HAVE started early, but I had something very important going on Saturday night (High School Musical) which kept me out and up late. I decided a good night sleep was just as important and didn’t start running until 10:00am. By 11:30, it was up near 80 degrees. Yikes. Remember the 20 degree rule? Yeah, it felt like 100 degrees after 10 miles.

I was trying to hit negative splits again and managed it for the first 15 miles (9:26, 9:26, 9:25) and then I started to overheat. My water I was carrying was getting warm fast, I was stopping at the water pumps in North Park to dump and refill with cold water. (thank god they were on) and found myself walking here and there through miles 17 and 18. At mile 19 I felt like I was going to be sick and when I was finished I was sick to my stomach for about 20 minutes. It was the heat, no doubt. One one hand, it was a horrible run, on the other hand, it reminded me that I need to prepare for a warm marathon and come up with a game plan to stay cool. Coach K and I discussed it at length today and I feel like I have somewhat of a plan.

I got the miles in, and at the end of the day, my overall pace was a 9:28. Pretty much where I want to be even though the ending stunk. A few weeks ago, I crushed my 20 miler and that’s the one I’ll focus on. ;)

Sunday’s run:

20140414-195133.jpgThis week: Taper – Week One

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: 5 miles (9:12 – 9:27)
  • Wednesday: 5 miles (9:12 – 9:27)
  • Thursday: 5 mile tempo (mid miles at 8:15)
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 4 miles at marathon pace (8:47-8:57)
  • Sunday: 12 miles (9:27 – 9:57)

 

Thursday I’m finally posting the Pittsburgh Marathon course mile by mile with elevation. Stay Tuned!

Apr 14

Monday Motivation

taskahead500

 

Apr 09

Negative Splits and EnergyBits! A Review

Last Sunday I did a long run and guess what? It wasn’t freezing cold, it wasn’t snowing, raining, icy or windy. I know, it’s hard to imagine. Almost EVERY Sunday has challenged me and every other runner in Pittsburgh with less than favorable weather. Last Sunday, however, was gorgeous. Sunny, with a slight breeze, not too warm and not too cold – just right.

I did my 15 miles with my new favorite: NEGATIVE SPLITS, progressing in pace until I hit my goal marathon pace for the last 5 miles. It felt great and this run can go in the books as another confidence builder which is very important at this stage of the game. (5 mile splits: 9:42, 9:36, 8:54)

20140408-230058.jpgThese long runs are SOOOO important as the marathon gets closer. Coach K calls them “dress rehearsals” for race day. He always tells me to wear the same socks, shoes, “unmentionables”, and gear that you’ll be wearing when you get to the start line. And just as important, what you eat before and during your long run should be pretty much nailed down by now and carried out in the same way it would be prior to and on race day.

I feel pretty good about my hydration and fuel, but this past Sunday, I added something extra to my routine. Right before I ran I ate one serving of ENERGYbits. I’ve heard other runners talking about them so when I received a sample pack, along with lots of supplemental information in the mail, I was really anxious to try them.

logo1In a nutshell, ENERGYbits are food, not a supplement and are 100% organic green chlorella and spirulina algae. I stress that they are a food, because though they make looks like pills, vitamins or a supplement, they’re NOT man made. Algae is a crop that’s grown, not produced in a lab. Think, tiny dried concentrated vegetables. It’s recommended that you swallow or chew 30-40 bits at a time for the following benefits:

  • high concentration of nitric oxide which opens up blood vessels
  • high concentration of antioxidants (extremely nutrient dense)
  • Great protein source (64% – the highest concentration in the world) WAY more than a steak
  • Improved stamina and energy
  • curbs appetite
  • improves digestion without any stomach discomfort
  • enhances the immune system
  • Is anti-aging
  • Low in calories

Honestly, the list really does go on. Plus, they are 100% vegan, organic, gluten free and certified Non-GMO. And you know what caught my eye out of all of the above benefits? Curbs appetite. You may have heard me mention more than once that I always get this really hungry feeling after mile 15 that gels just don’t satisfy. I was curious to see what would happen if I followed my regular routine but just added a serving of ENERGYbits just before I started running.

20140408-232439.jpgI wasn’t quite sure about swallowing 30-40 bits at a time, so I divided them in two and did half and immediately the other half. I swallowed them rather than chewing them cause “it’s OK to swallow” :) and they went down much easier than I thought. I was a little concerned at first that they would upset my stomach, all these bits at once, but they didn’t at all. Taste? Well, I swallowed them so didn’t taste much, but are probably an acquired taste. And as far as that hungry feeling…I never got it. I’ll have to try these again to verify that they were the reason, but I feel pretty hopeful that they helped.

The other thing I noticed was how I felt after my run. Typically I feel great right after a run, for a while, and then I come off that high and crash. I would say 85% of the time I need an afternoon nap, even if it’s only 30 minutes. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but no nap required this week. I came home did some things around the house, made dinner did some analyst work and never really crashed. Again, it’s something I would have to verify with another run, but I’m hopeful.

I’m packing them for my 20-mile run this Sunday to see how they perform with an extra five miles. This time I think I’ll take half at the start of the run and half in the middle to see the difference. I have to say that I’m really impressed with everything I’ve read about them and think that this could actually be considered a perfect food. I’ve dabbled a little bit with spirulina here, but nothing this pure or concentrated.

To find out more about ENERGYbits, click the logo above to visit their site. When I recap my long run next week, I’ll be sure to comment on the ENERGYbits affect and hopefully report the same results. To read more reviews, please visit the ENERGYbits Pinterest page.

Please note: ENERGYbits provided me with samples for this post, however, I WAS NOT compensated for my review. 

Question:

have you ever tried ENERGYbits? Was it a good experience?

 

Apr 08

Pittsburgh Marathon – Training Week Thirteen

2014_Run_Home_Blogger_BannerWow, I almost named this Training Week Twelve! They are just flying by. Here it is, the peak week. I’ll probably hit my highest mileage. The plan says 40 miles, but I may push a little each run and actually hit 45. (Don’t tell Coach K I’m planning on deviating from “the plan”) My legs are feeling good, my head is in the right place, so I figure I can let a few miles slide in.

I found this today and thought it was very appropriate. It can also be applied to training for the 26.2 miles:

26.2 trainingIt’s been 16 weeks of sleeping, eating and breathing marathon training. Is it obnoxious to say that I’m really proud of myself? Despite a few rocky moments and a few missed runs (AHHHHHHH), I’m feeling pretty good about training. Not only because of the miles I’ve run, but because I did it without the rest of my life falling apart. It’s certainly a balancing act which deserves a post in itself. This is my last week of intense training and then the taper. More discussion on that at a late time. ;)

So last week, I stayed close to the plan except for one day. I just had scheduling conflicts last Wednesday and actually missed a run. I’ve never missed a run unless something was hurt, period. But the day just got away from me. It is what it is. It guess there’s truth in the saying “either you run the day or the day runs you” I lost last Wed.

I did however run Tuesday, an easy 5 miles at a relaxed pace. I ran a five mile tempo on Thursday and 8.17 miles Saturday at goal marathon pace. (8:53) Saturday’s run was a little disappointing. It was cold, with the windchill, very cold, and I just didn’t feel all that strong. Luckily, I turned it around and had a great run Sunday, which will be covered in a separate post with a review included, (spoiler alert)

20140407-133626.jpgFavorite recovery smoothie from last week: Banana Berry :)

20140408-083206.jpg

So, this week looks like this:

  • Monday – Rest (stretch, roll)
  • Tuesday – 5 miles easy (9:12 – 9:27)
  • Wednesday – 5 miles Hills Sprints (yup)
  • Thursday – 5 recovery miles (927 – 9:57)
  • Friday – Rest (stretch, roll)
  • Saturday – 5 miles GMP (8:47 – 8:57)
  • Sunday – 20 miles Slow Long Distance (9:27 – 9:57)

Well, looking at the schedule, I can pretty much guarantee I won’t tack any extra miles on to Wednesday. Ha!

Question:

Who else is getting ready to TAPER??

Apr 07

This Morning’s Segment – Pittsburgh Today Live – Exciting!!

In case you missed this morning’s segment, this was my “five minutes of fame” on Pittsburgh Today Live. I have NEVER been on TV before and I was so nervous thinking about it all weekend. I had a pretty good idea of what they were going to ask, but spent much of my long run yesterday thinking about how I would answer. I was so afraid I was going to draw a blank, talk too fast, stumble over my words, but it turned out okay all-in-all. To be honest, I could have talked running and blogging for a full hour. :)

Rich drove down with me and Laura from Pittsburgh Marathon Media was there as well to keep me company until it was my turn to go on set. “On set” sounds so professional. HaHa.

Here are a few pics from this morning and the video:

Me outside the green room and Rich hanging inside for moral support.

Me outside the green room and Rich hanging inside for moral support.

20140407-154607.jpg

The “set”

Apr 07

Monday Motivation

fearnostartline500

Apr 05

Link Love – Sharing my Favorite Links of the Week

Link-LoveGood morning! Happy Weekend! I just wanted to quickly share a couple of links this morning before I head out for my run. Hope everyone is enjoying their Saturday.

Link One

Nicole at Fitful Focus always has some great posts. In today’s link, she talks about the Five Race Day Essentials. Oh, and I’m pleased to see EnergyBits are right up there in the fuel category. ;) Nice post Nicole.

Five Race Day Essentials

link1

Link Two

About two weeks ago I was craving spaghetti squash, so I made it. I kept it really simple and just ate it, pretty much, plain. Amber, at Eat and Exercise by Amber, offers up a great recipe that includes spaghetti squash. Honestly, I’m including it here not only to share with you, but to make sure I don’t lose track of the recipe. :) Thanks for sharing Amber!

Italian Spaghetti Squash Skillet

link2

Link Three

Running-Usa.com is a site that I frequent often. I can always go there and find interesting reads about running, fitness in general, and nutrition. There’s a lot of runners out there gearing up for Spring marathons so I thought this article was particularly helpful as most of us are really stacking up the miles.

How to Deal with Running Injuries

link 3There you have it, a couple of good reads in your weekend leisure time. Enjoy!

Have a great post you’d like me to share? Head over to my contact page and drop me a note. :)

Apr 04

This Runner’s Fuel in the PRESS!

It’s been an exciting and busy week for me and I have two very cool announcements about the blog that I’d love to share with you. Drum roll please. (LOL)

pittsburgh-today-live-logoFirst off, this coming Monday I will be making a debut television appearance on Pittsburgh TODAY live. I’ll be talking briefly about my experience as an official Pittsburgh Marathon blogger, including how it has enabled me to reach a broader group of runners in and out of the region, build new networks, inspire and be inspired by others.  The program runs daily from 9:00 – 10:00 and is actually LIVE. So, if you’re local, be sure to tune in. :) I’m freaking out a little nervous, so some support would be great!

 whirl-magazine-dating-news-articlesSecondly, I was interviewed by Whirl Magazine this week for their May Marathon Spectator Guide issue. The topic of discussion was similar to the ones above. So, again, if you’re local, be sure to check out the May issue to support Whirl, The Pittsburgh Marathon and of course, This Runners Fuel.

As always, thanks for reading and sharing my running journey. Have a great weekend…run strong!

Apr 02

What I ate Wednesday and a New App

What I ateBefore I start with today’s What I ate Wednesday post, I would like to congratulate MJ and Cynthia, the winners of my Resolve giveaway! I hope you guys enjoy the book as much as I did!

Yesterday was a typical day – up early, running, work, meetings yada, yada. I can yada, yada meetings for sure. It was one of those days where I got so involved with what I was working on that I didn’t eat much the first half of the day. Or, perhaps it was what I ate that kept me satisfied for so long.

Pre workout meal was a piece of Ezekiel bread with Mara Nathan peanut butter. I apologize that I forgot to take a picture. I sometimes forget that early when I’m hurrying to get out the door. I had a great run, which you can read more details about next week in my training recap.

After my workout I had some hot bran cereal with black-strap molasses in it. If you don’t eat much dairy, black-strap molasses is an excellent source of calcium as well as magnesium and iron. It was delicious! I wondered to myself why I don’t eat it more often.
I had two morning snacks, a banana at about 10:00 and a quarter cup of almonds at 11:00. Well, that kind of spoiled my lunch appetite and I didn’t pull my lunch out until almost 2:00.

20140402-152124.jpg

20140402-152131.jpgLunch consisted simply of steamed broccoli and wild rice. I always feel bad about microwaving broccoli in the office, but not bad enough to stop. ;)

20140402-152139.jpgI had an apple around 3:30 and was pretty full at that point. I probably wouldn’t have gone home and cooked dinner right away if I didn’t have other mouths to feed.

20140402-152149.jpgIt was a shame I wasn’t that hungry when dinner time arrived because I made something so yummy. Salmon sprinkled with smoked paprika, wild mushroom risotto and steamed baby bok choy. I made myself a pretty looking plate, but ended up eating about half of it. Cooper was happy to help himself to some of my leftovers. The dog LOVES salmon.

20140402-152201.jpgThere were some samples of cookies out at work today, such is life sitting near bakery merchandising, so I brought a package home for the “fam”. I gave in and had one. I typically LOVE Lofthouse sugar cookies. So soft and the sweet icing is heavenly. However, I have to say that the red velvet version was a let down and certainly not worth the 160 calories I spent on it.

20140402-152210.jpgNow I get the to the part about the new app. I have been using the Jawbone UP app to track my food for about a year, but I saw an advertisement for My Net Diary and decided to try it. Two days tracking food so far and I love it. The thing that always disappointed me about other apps is that they are so overly concerned about just calories and fat. I like to take it a step further. Calories matter, but the type of calories you have make much more of an impact on overall health than the simple number. This app tracks all the basics, but also keeps track of vitamins and minerals. These are the things that keep you healthy, fighting off illness, disease, and matter when it comes to performance.

The apps asks that you fill out a simple profile, including weight, age, gender and activity level. There is a section to put in weight loss goals if you have them and which nutrients you would like to track,

20140402-153616.jpg

20140402-153608.jpgThere is a main summary screen (left above) a screen to let you know where you are for the day against your goal (middle above) and a screen to show your percentage toward your nutrient goals (left above). There are also charts that let you visually track your progress. You can also input your hours of sleep, water consumption and vitamins if you take them.

 There’s an Online Community for support as well. I haven’t taken advantage of that yet, but it could be helpful for some. I think at $3.99, this app is a bargain.

Well, that’s it for today. I’m trying to get to bed early tonight. I have a busy morning of running ahead. :)

Apr 01

Pittsburgh Marathon Training Week Twelve

I know it’s not a “Monday Motivation” day, but I saw this today and just couldn’t wait to share it. I absolutely love it!

20140401-125910.jpgLast week was a GOOD week, a GREAT week!  See, I told you marathon training has ups and downs. Last week was an “up” week and apparently a week of 5’s. I ran 5 miles Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Wednesday was a speed work day and Friday was goal marathon pace day. These were sandwiched between a couple of easy recovery 5 mile runs. That’s what the “plan” called for so that’s what I ran. I questioned Friday’s run because I was scheduled to run 20 miles on Saturday, but it’s part of the process. Learning to run efficiently on fatigued legs was the goal this week.

Last week in pictures below.

20140401-125730.jpgI was also testing out new shoes last week. I wanted to buy something a little lighter than my Brooks Adrenaline to race in but still wanted/needed some type of stability. I decided to give the Mizuno Wave Inspires a try. I have mixed feelings about them. My legs felt great in them and they were a bit lighter than my other shoes, but I found that after 5 miles, I lost feeling in my two outer toes. I loosened up the laces a bit on day three and they felt significantly better. I decided that if I was contemplating wearing these for the marathon, I should test them out on a longer distance. I wore them on Saturday for the JASR 30K (plus 1.4 miles), a total of 20 miles. By mile 17 my toes were hurting. Not my legs, not hamstrings or calves, MY TOES. Towards the end of a marathon, your feet start to hurt no matter what, but mile 17 seemed a little early for this. I can’t imagine what they would feel like at mile 24. PLUS when I took them off I had two big blood blisters on my toes. *sigh* So those are out for May 4th. I will probably keep them for shorter distances though. It’s always good to have a pair to rotate. I may try a few others but, I’m pretty sure it will be the Adrenalins that start with me on May 4th. This is my fourth pair and they just work for me.

My 20 mile run on Saturday was fantastic, another negative split day. You can read the details here.

This week is a slightly lighter week as far as total distance goes. I feel the need to have another 40+ mile week, but I’m going to follow the plan.

  • Monday – Rest
  • Tuesday – 5 miles easy (9:12 – 9:27)
  • Wednesday – 5 miles easy (9:12 – 9:27)
  • Thursday – 5 mile tempo run (mid miles @ 8:15)
  • Friday – Rest
  • Saturday – 8 miles at Goal Marathon Pace (8:57)
  • Sunday – 12 miles long slow distance (9:27 – 9:57)

Have a great week!

Question:

1. Do you typically try different shoes or ALWAYS stick with the first ones that work?

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