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Sunday, October 30, 2016

We went to China!

We're actually still not home: I'm blogging in Toronto, where Google products aren't blocked by some lunatic communist government. 
I loved our trip, but I'm eager to get home. The culture and atmosphere in China, even for tourists, grows oppressive. I didn't expect the regime to impact so much of daily life, but I found that it developed a general apathy, lack of empathy, disrespect, and unhelpfulness in the people. So while we had friendly tour guides and exciting tours, I am ready to be done with the shouting, pushing and shoving, obnoxious traffic, and general self-serving behaviors. My lasting impression of China is that neither the government nor the population respect their fellow humans. 

Of course, I'm saying this in an extreme state of jetlag, so things might look more bright after a pot of coffee! 

Travel recaps and photos to come...

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Tune-up time

I'm still in recovery mode from the marathon, so I decided to pop in to see a sports chiropractor for a little post-race tune-up. There's nothing hurting or wrong, but, um, I wanted a massage my insurance would pay for! This office does myofacial release and sports massage and bills my insurance. Woo hoo! That was a nice post-race treat. He also did some more aggressive stretching than I've done since the race, or really all summer, and it reminded me of just how tight my muscles are. I need to do better with that. Other than that, I had some inflamed areas on both shins and right below my knees, on the pes anserine tendon (which I've been noticing). He just massaged it - hopefully that will help.

I also got back out running today, for three easy miles. This lazy phase can't last, though: I need to buckle down and look at my race calendar and come up with schedule: I don't get much down time. Besides some shorter distances, I have to think about a Spring marathon!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Which marathon should I run?

Well, I'm in a pickle.
Right after RnR New Orleans this year, I registered early for just $50 to run it again in 2017. Great deal, right? But then at a race this summer, David won an entry to the Louisiana Marathon. We held off using it, because I thought David might want to use it, but now he says he doesn't.
This leaves me with many options!
1. Run both fulls, about three weeks apart
2. Run Louisiana full and drop down to the half for RnR
3. Run Louisiana half and the RnR full (this probably makes the most sense, as timelines go)
4. Run RnR full and persuade David to run the Louisiana half

Thoughts? Advice?

I can haz fall?

Please, NOLA. I don't think I can take anymore!

We broke another record with a high of 92 on October 19th, and we haven't had a high temp under 80 since May 6th. I really cannot take this anymore. I just want ONE DAY OF FALL, please!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Hi, football!

After the fall school session from hell, I'm taking a break until Spring. Our travel plans conflict with classes, and guess what? I'm a grown-up getting an MBA for absolutely no reason, so I can skip a semester in favor of vacation if I want. So I am.

My return to normal life means that I finally lifted my bleary eyes to the television, and lo and behold: I have a 2-3 fantasy team and a 2-3 NFL team. Sounds par for the course.
We went over to our neighbor's house to watch the Saints game Sunday, and it was the first game I'd watched in its entirety all season. And what a game! As usual, the Saints crumbled in the third quarter, barely eking out a win, leaving us to stress-chug champagne and shout "Who Dat!" with hoarse voices.

I was so glad we went over to our neighbor's: he's been inviting us to his Saints parties every Sunday for years, and we've never been. Not only was his house beautiful (like so many New Orleans houses, the interior is an elegant hodgepodge of carved wood, high ceilings, chandeliers, and mantelpieces), we met more of our neighbors and bonded over common Uptown woes, like bad parking, parade traffic, construction, and no grocery stores. It's good to know people nearby, because you never know when a hurricane might hit and you need someone who returned to town early to check on your house! Plus, since most of our immediate neighbors are college students, we only have close relationships with a few of them - the students come and go. Our friend lives on the cross street, and this group is a little less transient. I value knowing your neighbors, so it was a fun and profitable afternoon.

Are you friends with your neighbors? Do you socialize with them, or just wave while getting in and out of your car?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Hanson's marathon method: my thoughts

After a long, hot summer of Hanson's, here are my thoughts.

How I did:
  • My goal was 3:10 - 3:15 and I ran 3:12.
What I didn't do:
  • I didn't complete the entire plan, as I started several weeks in due to illness - I cut it to 14 weeks. I also used shorter warm-ups and cool-downs for most of the plan - one mile rather than several - for the sake of time. 
  • I took in slightly fewer calories on race day than recommended.
  • I didn't keep up with strength nearly as well as I should have throughout the program. There is a chapter on strength, but once MBA classes got tough? All that fell by the wayside.
What the plan entails: 
  • The plan is based on cumulative fatigue, so you never fully let your legs recover. 
  • Each week includes speed work, a tempo run, and a long run. The long runs, famously, never exceed 16 miles (and you only get three 16-milers). 
  • Halfway through the plan you switch from "speed" (5k pace) to "strength" (more like 10k to half marathon pace) on the speed work days, and the intervals get longer. 
  • The tempos are marathon pace runs. The longest is ten miles. 
Miles I ran: 
  • 726 total miles over 14 weeks, excluding the race itself
  • Average 51.9 miles per week
  • Highest mileage was 61 miles
  • I ran three weeks at or over 60 miles
  • I ran eleven weeks at or over 50 miles (which is insane to me. I normally break 50 maybe three times during marathon training).
  • Most of my runs were at "easy A" or "easy B" pace, which gave me a range of 8:03 to 8:49, depending on fatigue. I'll be honest, though - some post-tempo days were in the 9's! 
  • Speed work is pretty slow - 5k to a bit slower than 10k pace. I gave myself a range of paces and hit within range on almost everything except some of the early 5k-pace assignments. I was a tad slow on those. 
  • Tempos are marathon pace and - eh. I sucked at this. These were incredibly challenging for me in the heat. I HAD to allow myself to drink water, and even then, I would be dehydrated and cramping all day after I ran. Many of these were completed in downright dangerous conditions - usually in the 90's with sky-high humidity. So to allow water stops, I'd run my miles too fast, and then "catch up" the pace at the water fountains. I think this was a kind of terrible plan, since the whole point is to run more marathon-pace miles! I should have figured out a hand-held situation. Nonetheless, I was usually in my pace range even for the miles I ran. I always determine pace based on a 26.3 mile race, because I know I'll pick up some extra mileage due to turns or just Garmin error - so while that makes my training paces "fast", it allows me to rely on my Garmin average pace during the race and not be surprised and disappointed at the end (didn't help this time, since my Garmin was way off, but oh well). 
  • Long runs were around 7:40's to 7:50's - again, I gave myself a range based on my goal range. They were surprisingly tough to complete: that's that cumulative fatigue, I suppose! 
Botched runs:
  • I tried to stick to the training plan like GLUE, but I messed up two runs: both tempos. On one, I hit the wall. It was just like the end of a marathon. I wrapped it up and went straight home, then took another day off. It was terrible! The other one was supposed to be a 10-mile tempo, but I cut it short at eight because I ran out of time. I'd slept in. So I had two messed up runs and one unplanned day off the whole cycle. 
  • Hanson's discourages races during training, so I didn't do many.
  • I ran a 4-mile race week one, which was dreadful. 
  • I ran a 2-mile race a week before the marathon, which was great. 
  • I also did the all-comers track meet and the Summer Series 2-miler, both in July. The all-comers track meet REALLY showed me how tired my legs were, and is probably why racing during this plan is a bad idea! 
  • ZERO. I didn't even lose a toenail. This is astonishing to me. I thought that I would get hurt increasing mileage rather drastically (I'm usually low to mid forties, but including weeks and days off I probably average more like mid-30's over time), but I didn't. Perhaps this is because most runs are at moderate to slow paces. 
  • I did develop some annoying tendonitis under both knees. It is noticeable when I extend my foot behind me, but it goes away when I warm up. I actually think this is from wearing the NB Zantes: it's only there the day after I run in them. 
What I liked:
  • I kind of hate long runs, so I was glad the furthest I went was 16 miles. I didn't miss the twenty-milers at all on race day, so I am totally on board with that aspect of the plan! I know some people modify Hanson's to work in 18 or 20 miles, but I loved only having to go 16 miles. For some reason, I find 20-mile runs incredibly daunting. 
  • I didn't get injured. 
  • I got comfortable with longer weeks. I'm no 50 mpw runner usually, but I did it!
  • I was never truly exhausted post-run. Tired, yes. Beat up and miserable? No, not really. Not like after a 22-miler. 
  • You get out what you put in. I trained for a 3:10 to a 3:15. I got a 3:12:02. I think this is a plan with a good built-in predictor. If you hit all your miles and paces, you can hit your goal.
  • I didn't hit the wall. I slowed down 2 minutes in the second half, but I do believe that that is my smallest positive split ever. And while I tired, it wasn't the wall: it was really sore legs trying to run up and down hills and hurting a lot.
  • I survived the long hill in the second half. I loosely followed a pace chart put together by the race directors, and it calls for a slowish start, a faster middle, and an allowance for slowing down on the long hills section at miles 20-23. I planned to run 8:15s over these miles, but I actually never exceeded 8 minutes, with my slowest mile a 7:50 on the last mile of the hill. 
  • I finished pretty strong. Look at those passing numbers! In the final five miles, I passed 107 people, and just 15 passed me. And that was including at least two miles of uphill, and I am a terrible hill runner, because I live in the flattest place on the planet. So that impresses me. I'm not bragging - I don't mean that impress me, I mean that Hanson's impresses me: if it can get a non-hill runner to pass people going uphill at the end of a marathon, it's a plan that means business! 

Felt like I had nails hammered into my quads. Still passed net 92 people in the last 5 miles.

What I disliked: 
  • This is a time-consuming plan. Not only was I running more, I was running more before work (since weekends aren't such heavy mileage like most plans), and I was running at a slower pace. 
  • I kind of feel like, for the effort I put in, I should have gotten more out. I know that sounds silly, since I trained for the pace I ran, but I guess I wanted an end-of-marathon miracle. I ran 29 mpw this winter and ran a 3:18, so to run 3:12 (in better weather, although a harder course) on 48 mpw seems like a lot of work for an unspectacular result. 
  • I got bored using this plan. Now, I've never actually used a marathon training plan before (I've tried. I've written my own, which I've used as loose guides, but ended up not really following, and I tried The Run Faster plan and got epically injured, which cured me of training plans for awhile. In fact, it cured me of running for awhile). So maybe I'd get bored doing any plan. But the repetitive, cookie-cutter weeks got dull, and the speed work is really boring. 
  • Hanson's barely tapers. After a final tempo (12 miles) on Thursday, you still have 49 miles to run over the next ten days before your race. A ten-day taper is pretty short, and that's a lot of miles in the week and a half before a marathon! 
  • I think that the very sore muscles I experienced (during and post-race) might be partly due to not running over 16 miles. 
Would I do it again?
  • Yes. Despite the many long miles in heavy, humid air; the sweat-soaked shoes; the boring weeks; the mediocre finish time; and the mornings I had to skip breakfast with my honey just to make it to work on time, I'd do Hanson's again.
  • Why? Well, mostly for two things: I finished strong, and I didn't get injured. 
  • Not getting hurt is a big priority for me now, and I am very happy with my injury-free summer. In the past, mileage creeping over 50 almost always lead to injury, and more than one hard day per week ALWAYS lead to injury. But this cycle, I combined speed work, tempo runs, and over 50 miles almost every week, and I didn't get hurt. Now, I wonder if I should phase the tempo run out at all, or shorten and intensify it. I think it strengthened me and actually might have prevented harm.
  • And finishing strong? Well, who doesn't want to feel good finishing a race? It's not like I wasn't in pain. My legs were on fire. But I kept cranking out the miles, only slowing a little. I like how that feels. Sure, I didn't run a perfect race. But I ran a good race, and I think I could do even better next time. 
Have you run Hanson's? What are your thoughts? Any questions about this training cycle?

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Recovery for fools

It happens after every race: the weekend after, I'm itching to run long and a little too fast. Yesterday was 10 at 7:32 pace. It was 8 at something like 7:25 pace before it got insanely hot out (80F with 79% humidity: will summer never end?!) and suddenly last week's marathon hit me like a load of bricks. 
I shouldn't do these things. But I always have a little tiny bit of racing left. 
Now, back to my scheduled recovery...Iron Strength workout today! I'm all strength-building for the next few weeks! 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Odds and ends from my race weekend

I'm still writing my review of Hanson's marathon method, but I did want to tie up some loose ends from my marathon weekend.
What a sky! 

  • My cold: I think I actually beat it. It was better on Saturday night and I didn't even think about it on Sunday, except a mild sore throat. Hooray!
  • Nutrition: I should have eaten more the day before the race, but oh well. It's hard to travel and race. And I actually ended up doing just four gels - my usual amount - during the race. I was aiming for five per the Hanson's calorie calculator, but once I unpacked and saw how many gels I brought home with me, I realized that I only ate four. I must have gotten off schedule when the water-stop frequency increased later in the race. So I can't report on that aspect of Hanson's.
They call this sky color "Medtronic blue"
  • Shoes: My shoes hit 400 miles at the end of the race. They felt fine, though. I tried to change to a new pair the week of the race, but they felt oddly tight and I didn't want to risk it. I ran in my Saucony Kinvaras. I am still wearing the New Balance Zante, but I don't think I will buy another pair - they allow too much foot movement. 
  • My recovery: I usually try to do something active the night of the race or the next day to prevent terrible stiffness, but I dropped the ball on that one. I haven't done any running yet - all I've done is some hip PT. But it's gorgeous weather so I hope my quads are up to running this weekend! 
  • Injuries: None, knock on wood. Post-race I had one blood blister and a bloody toe, and my hips were quite stiff, but I feel much better now. I had some below-the-knee tendonitis before the race that I hope goes away completely with rest. 
  • Soreness: I am more sore after this race than any I've ever run. I think the fact that the more difficult part of the race is late, run on tired legs, damages your muscles a little more. This is the first time I have struggled to go down stairs post-race. I'm so glad I didn't end up running to catch any flights on the way home!
  • Video: Want to see bad running form? Watch my finish here! Please ignore the woman finishing right in front of me, whom I did not catch. 
  • Live tracker: It didn't work! Lisa tried to use it to plan her spectating, and got one text at mile 18; David also got a text at 18, then got a text saying I had finished in 3 hours and 18 minutes. But it was only 11:13 when he got the text, so he knew that was wrong since the race started at 11! 
  • Stomach: Oh, man. My stomach was a mess this race. It hurt during the race, but the cramping afterward was the real problem. I was miserable! I did more Powerade than usual, so that could be the culprit, but I also had much less practice using fuel since my long runs capped at 16 miles.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Visiting Minneapolis

I was only in Minneapolis for two days total (Saturday afternoon, Sunday, and Monday morning), but I enjoyed the time to visit with family and friends and check out a city I'd never been to before.

I got in at about 1 pm on Saturday. My brother picked me up at the airport, and we headed straight to packet pick-up. The whole drive I kept admiring the city: it's very clean and pretty.
I also noticed that I didn't see any homeless people at all: this is a stark contrast to New Orleans, which has seen its homeless population increase, despite more available addiction treatment centers and psych beds (the city is in a bit of a dither about a new shelter that is planned; it's a no-restrictions shelter, meaning that drugs, sex, and alcohol won't be banned. These rules are the reason that many shelters go unused by the city's homeless, but the risks of such a shelter are causing qualms to those who live and work nearby). It's odd that I'd notice something like that, but the homeless problem is so pervasive in New Orleans that I see twenty or more homeless people every day, so I immediately noticed the contrast.

We headed back to my brother's house for an afternoon of playtime with the kids! I brought the kids their late birthday gifts (they are both born in September, less than a year apart), and we had fun opening presents and playing with the Duplos I bought them. Of course, out of two sets of Duplo blocks, the star of the show was the tiny little toy wrench that came with one of the sets. Alanna spent all day walking around the house "fixing" things and coming back to report: "I fix the wheels! I fix the wheels with the wrench!" She's three, and everything is still exciting for her.
I didn't get much quality time with Tre, unfortunately. He was terribly sick the whole time - apparently, he was on week three of a bad cold, and he kind of just rested on the sofa with a blanket the whole time, poor kid. I did get to play with the kids a good deal, though, since I stayed Monday morning, too, and got to take them to the park.

The other highlight of the trip was getting coffee with Lisa! Not only did she spectate the race, she picked me up later for some Caribou coffee (where I also got a seltzer water - thank goodness. It finally stopped my post-race stomach cramps). Lisa lives in (and loves!) Minneapolis, and I enjoyed hearing more about the city from her. Plus, we discussed our lives lately, and how our various hips are two post-op hips; her one! (Lisa got to return to running last week after her labral tear surgery!). Looking for Lisa along the race course was excellent mid-race entertainment (I sometimes need a distraction, like doing pace math in my head or looking for people I know), and I'm so glad she also made the effort to meet in person later.

This trip was quite short, and much of it was spent in a post-race haze, so next time I plan to explore the twin cities area more. Luckily the race itself gives you a tour of some beautiful areas, so I did get to sight-see a little. More time and better planning next visit!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Twin Cities Marathon race recap

The big question going into this race was: would all my hot and sweaty summer miles pay off? 

I flew in Saturday afternoon and picked my packet up on the way to my brother's house. Visiting him and his family was a major reason for running this race, but I'll share trip details later: the race recap will be long enough! Packet pick-up was as smooth as can be. I had pasta and chicken for early dinner the night before, with an evening piece of toast and a midnight Cliff bar. 

Sunday morning I woke up to weather much colder than when I had packed. Instead of the 50's and 60's predicted, it was 37F! I was in a quandary about what to wear; I'd only packed shorts and a singlet, but my sister in law offered to let me borrow tights. I ended up going with my original outfit rather than risk chafing in something new. I ate my oatmeal and my brother drove me to the race. I got to the start around 7 am and, wrapped in a trash bag, waited for the 8 am start. It was the easiest start ever: impeccably organized with an apparent 1:1 ratio of port-a-potties to people (no lines!). I dropped my bag and opted to keep my hat on. It was race swag, and if I had to throw it away it was no big deal, as I rarely wear winter hats in NOLA! 

This was as long as the lines got, and that's only because no one wanted to go to the further-away lines!

I got into the first corral and was about 45 seconds off the gun. I was freezing when we started, but the crowds of runners kept me shielded from the wind. Unfortunately, right away I ran into a problem: my Garmin lost its mind. Maybe it was the early tunnel we ran through, but my pace was showing as 6:40! Then it beeped way early - like 0.75 - for mile one. I was annoyed: it would be off the whole race now. We were a big crowd at this point, and I was taking it easy. My race plan was to run "race pace" at the start, faster on the flattish middle, then add a good extra minute per mile for the three mile hill at the end. But not knowing my average pace was a pain. Finally I started keeping an eye on lap pace instead. Miles 1-3:6:44, 7:24, 7:06. Except that was not actually 3 miles at all! 

I was right behind the 3:15 pace group at the start, and stayed behind them for awhile, especially as the course narrowed. During mile 6 I got annoyed: this watch beeping way early was the worst! So I slowed down and reconfigured my Garmin to manual lap. Mile 6 reflects the adjustment. Miles 4, 5, and 6: 7:15, 7:07, 8:25. , the course was just beautiful. It winds around lakes and the trees were turning - stunning course! I warmed up enough to take off my hat (and I realized later that I had major hat hair the whole time). I stuck it in my singlet, where it stayed for the duration of the race. At this point I had bottled up against the 3:15 pace group. They're a big, wide group, and I was doing math in my head: I could beat 3:15. I was struggling to get around them, but it was well-nigh impossible. Miles 7, 8, 9 and 10 (starting to forget to hit lap!): 7:13,7:07,14:19. 
Finally I scooted around the 3:15 group! I wondered briefly if they'd come catch me later. Hopefully not! The first half of this race is way easier than the second, and I was running by feel. My average pace meant nothing, and even the lap pace isn't very reliable on this Garmin until you actually complete the lap, but it felt like race pace to me. My slow miles were the uphills or more winding roads. Miles 11-13: 7:04,7:15,7:11.

I'd started taking gels earlier in this race than usual. Hanson's has this calorie calculator that indicated I'd need five gels, not my usual four, so I started taking half-gels all the way back at mile 6. I brought a mix of Huma and Gu. I was also taking Powerade - just a sip - at nearly every station. Maybe it helped my caloric intake, but I don't think my stomach loves this plan! It was definitely upset for the majority of the race. Miles 14,15,16: 7:20,7:02,7:06.

I knew that mile 17 would be mentally and physically hard for me. My longest long run had been 16 miles, and sure enough, I kind of sort of gave up a little after I hit that point. I slowed down, but I didn't need to, and the next three miles were rather wasted. I turned my music on, but the crowds are so large and loud for this race that I honestly couldn't even hear it. The course support is incredible. Miles 17, 18, 19: 7:16,7:14,7:17.

Then I realized that I didn't feel that bad. I was tired, sure. And the hills were killing my legs, since I don't run hills and they were late, on already-exhausted muscles. But I remembered that Hanson talks a lot about running on tired legs, so I tried to tough it out. When I hit mile 20, we were heading over a bridge, and I remember seeing a 7:16 and thinking, "I'll definitely be under 3:15. Even if I run 8 minute miles all the way."
Mile 20: 7:16. 
This wasn't fun.

Uh. Then the REAL hills started. Straight uphill for three miles. My pace quickly climbed, as well! Luckily, along this hill I saw Lisa: she came out to spectate and it was a huge lift to see her, especially since I was running a race in a far-away city. Plus, looking out for her gave me a boost for most of the race! Really, though, the long hill was tough for me. My muscles were screaming. But somehow, I was passing people! By mile 23, I had slowed to a crawl, and some people were catching up to me, but I still stayed steady. Miles 21, 22, 23: 7:24,7:48,7:52. 

Three miles to go, and some blessed downhill! But I couldn't speed up. My legs and feet hurt so badly that the downhill was jarringly painful. I don't think I hit the wall, but the stumbling, limping mile 24 came close. Then, the course levels out (with the exception of one short, steep uphill), and then tips sharply downhill. Miles 24 and 25/26 (I missed hitting lap): 

I could see the finish and tried to take advantage of the downhill, running 6:13 pace for last .2. 
3:12:02 - just missed squeaking under 3:12! 

Considering the hills, I finished this pretty strong. I hit the half in 1:35:04, running a 2-minute positive split - not terrible considering the elevation profile. I kind of had hoped to pull out some miraculously fast time, but I hit my goal of between 3:10 and 3:15, and I enjoyed most of the race. I also feel like it's possible to keep improving, although races like these remind me how very far away I am from my years-old PR. But I'm happy with what I can do today. More on my thoughts about Hanson's marathon method later! 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Hay's in the barn, cold's in the head

I can't believe I came down with a cold this week! It's not a bad cold, and might even just be allergies, especially since it's accompanied by a rash or hives of some sort (ON MY FACE. Between that and the hack job I did on my bangs, the pictures with my niece and nephew this weekend should be just adorable).
Regardless, I have a race this weekend, and I'm as ready to go as I'll ever be. I'm finishing up a paper in between charging my Garmin, picking out gels, and packing for weather colder than I've experienced in many months (it should be a beautiful weekend, especially for the race - 50's and 60's).

Hope I'm ready! And here, for your viewing pleasure, a picture of me with my award from last weekend. That's my friend Lauren, president of the NOTC. Awards were late, so I went home, changed, picked up David and my brother, and stopped to grab the award on the way to dinner...hence the outfit instead of sweaty running clothes!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Typical taper cold

As I am wont to do, I came down with a cold yesterday. Great. I am still in the "Will it become a full-blown cold? Or just sniffles?" stage, so I am drinking tons of water, taking vitamin C, and drinking the kombucha I made and never posted about (because I've been spending about 35 hours a week on school, bleah).
Contributing factor: our temperatures, after a respite in the 70s, swung suddenly back to high 80s; meanwhile, our AC in the bedroom broke and we spent a sweaty night with damp, warm air being blown in our faces by a fan before David fixed the window unit (one week after fixing our vacuum. This white-collar lawyer dude is quite the handyman, even if his fixing technique seems to consist of turning things off, taking them apart, putting them back together, and turning them back on again.).
Other contributing factor: extremely limited sleep during this last real week of stupid school.

Pray this one goes away fast. No one wants to run a marathon with a cold!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


In mid-September, David and I took advantage of some cheap Southwest tickets and flew to Chicago. I didn't take many pictures, but you know how everyone takes pictures of the Bean? It's because it's the most awesome thing ever. 

Bean and buildings
We went on an architecture tour by boat our fist afternoon. The weather was beautiful! 
Please notice the heart on the lower left...more Bean!
I really like this bean.
So I made David hold it. 
Lake Michigan. So strange to be on the other end of it: we lived on Lake Michigan when I was a kid, at the northwest end.
Sear's tower (I mean, Willis or whatever) - David refused to step any closer to the edge and, in fact, his hands were clammy! 
Views from the Sears Tower
My favorite picture from the whole trip: the other tourists taking selfies over the city!
I always try to visit the library in every city we visit. Chicago has a lovely one.
Besides running in less-than-nine-million-degrees, I also wrote an entire marketing analysis, which kind of sucked. David went to a meet-up with a bunch of Saints fans at a bar, and I had to sit in the hotel and read hotel industry statistics. Boo.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Marathon training, week 13

Monday: 10 total. This was 6 x 1 mile in the park with a quarter mile jog between. As usual, my pace slowed drastically after it got dark. 6:37, 6:34, 6:40, 6:42, 6:46, 6:44. You want to know how to have the park COMPLETELY to yourself? Run at night, in the dark, in 99% humidity with oppressive heat lightening all around you, during a Saints game. That's how.
Tuesday: Off.
Wednesday: 11 total: my last tempo! Unfortunately, I was running on 6% Garmin charge, and it didn't make it to the end. Too bad, because for my last tempo I wanted to purposefully hammer mile one, then recover and still manage a good overall tempo pace. This was just in case I screwed up the start of the marathon. Now I'm not sure if I did, but I do know the distance (I had the route perfectly calculated so I could ensure I'd make it to work on time), and I tried to maintain the same pace by feel. Hopefully I did. 6:55, 7:09, 7:12, 7:15, 7:07. 7:08,7:12, 7:08, ?, ?. By the way, if you noticed my tempo paces getting faster toward the end of this training cycle, it's not better fitness. It's just a function of this Garmin 620 compared to the Garmin 305. The lap pace showing as you run doesn't update as often due to how the data smoothing is executed, so when the mile actually beeps, sometimes I'm surprised. 
Speaking of Garmins, this tempo run was how I messed up my pace in Saturday's race: I didn't realize that my Garmin wouldn't turn on because it had a dead battery because I thought I charged it. So I thought I needed to reset it. Then I saw that, actually, it had no battery. Once I reset the data screens, i messed it all up. Drama. 
Thursday: 8 oh-so-easy.
Friday: 8 easy. 
Saturday: 6+ total. Blue Doo 2-mile race. I warmed up to the race, grabbed my shirt, ran home and dropped it off, and ran back. Then I ran the 2-mile race (I just realized I forgot to do pre-race strides! Darn!). I ran a lovely 6:11 followed by a terrible 6:25. Woot. Then I ran home. 
Sunday: 4 easy on soft surfaces. This was intended to be 8, but you know what? My legs were tired, and running over 50 miles the week before a marathon sounds like a terrible idea. I've tried to stick very closely to the Hanson's plan, but I called it a day at the halfway point because my legs felt like they weighed a million pounds. 
Total: 47 miles.

That's more than my maximum weekly mileage for some training build-ups! And it's right before the marathon! So here I am, ready for this race I suppose. I'm very glad I ran the two-miler. Not just because I won, since that's largely a function of who didn't run that day, but also because even totally inappropriate tune-up races like a 2-miler before a marathon can still boost confidence. For me, it was mostly that I was positive I'd end up hurt before or at the marathon. Were my hips ok? Did my knee bother me? Why is my foot bruised? Then I ran the little race, and everything was totally fine. So I think Sunday will be fine, too. Now it just remains for me to see how long I can actually hold race pace on race day! 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Blue Doo 2 mile race recap

Obviously, marathon training translates into two-mile training, right? Especially Hanson's, where the fastest I've run in months is like 6:47 pace...
But this was a race I was going to run, no matter what. The race supports the Tulane cancer center prostate cancer research fund, and since I am at Tulane and many of my patients come from the cancer center, it's definitely a cause I wanted to support.
The race was held at 5pm on a Saturday, which was a kind of unusual time, but since it was only 2 mies I didn't have to try to think about eating before, etc. I just had a normal lunch and a snack of butter with toast (just being honest about ratios) at some point. The race is on Tulane's campus, so close that I jogged over to get my packet, jogged back to put my T-shirt away, and jogged back to the start. I also started to feel a little hungry, so I grabbed a peppermint to take at the starting line. But instead of eating candy, I decided to lose my shirt, so I spent the last few minutes at the start stashing my T-shirt and re-pinning my number on my jog bra. It was a nice day, but it was 85F at the start, and I was sweating. I had worn my Tulane running team shirt, but the last time I wore that for a hot race I was SO SORRY so I opted for jog bra instead.
Then we were off! I dashed out, and was about fourth female off the bat. Some of the girls were obviously overextended themselves, but one of them is usually about my speed, so I kept an eye on her. The course runs through the campus with about a hundred sharp turns. It's kind of crazy, especially since most of the turns are right at the beginning, when it's still crowded. I was surprised to be in such a crowd, even as I picked off all the women but one, and I kept glancing at my Garmin when I could. I was SO SLOW. I kept seeing 6:55, 6:40...what the heck?! Then, right as I passed the first woman, at 0.65 miles, I took a good look at my wrist and realized that I was looking at the wrong Garmin pace (I miss my 305's huge font!). I was looking at instant pace. My overall average pace was 5:55. HA. My goal heading in was 6:15 to 6:30 pace, so no, that was not a good start.
I groaned, slowed down, and waited for the fatigue to hit. The problem with marathon training is I've lost touch with faster paces. I did feel like it was more effort than I should be putting out, but I was way off the pace. This isn't the first time I've made this mistake, by the way, but in my defense I'd just reconfigured the data screens.
So anyway. No time to give in just because I started way too fast. I slowed down and twenty or more guys rushed past, but no women. I was in the lead, but I knew my friends Lauren and Kim were both behind me and I expected Lauren to pass me at some point. We're usually close in pace, and I knew I was going to be fried later. We hit mile one in 6:11, which means that mile was far too fast and I was toast. There is a turn-around a little after mile one, and I had about six seconds on Lauren. By then I was just hanging on and trying not to totally fall apart, but I slowed considerably. I was also tossing that stupid peppermint back and forth the whole time. Far be it from me to litter! The whole second mile was a struggle, and the few glances at my watch were rather grim. But as we turned the last corner, the course biker called out, "First female!". I just hoped I was alone.
I was: I headed for the finish line and slapped awkwardly into the finishing tape. 12:40, not pretty, but my first overall win in years!

And that's a good omen for next week's marathon, right?

Saturday, October 1, 2016

It's taper time!

Here we go, a week of taper. This reduced running is excellent timing, as I also have to start wrapping up my semester. I have two tests, one final, one paper, one team video, two team projects (one is a "final project"), and one term paper left for the next two weeks. All of it is for one class except one test and one final: I already finished my final project in that class, and I historically do very well on cumulative exams, so I am pretty nearly done with that class.
A long time ago, I painted a bunch of my binders. David took these pictures while I had a lull in studying. 

I started the term paper last night (with the brilliant technique of writing the abstract first...perhaps it will serve as an outline) and, if I hammer away at that briskly, could finish that even this weekend. I don't expect to, though, as my little brother is in town visiting and I would like to spend some time with him.
What's left for running:
Well, I signed up for a two mile race tonight. That is hardly brilliant timing, but it supports a Tulane cause, so I felt obligated. But instead of the 8 miles I was scheduled today, I'll just do that race and the accompanying warmup/cool down, trading distance for effort.
Then it's all reduced mileage: 8, 6, 5, 6, and 3. Then this marathon that I don't feel ready for. Hurray for positive attitudes!