Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Stretching It Out – Todd

The last few weeks have been tough. However, I am happy to have started the taper portion of my training. This last Sunday I ran 20 miles and I was so relieved. It was my maximum length long run and was scheduled three weeks before the Marathon. A very busy work and home schedule kept me from running most of my midweek training runs. Then, two weekends ago I was demoralized when eight miles into a planned 18mile run my right iliotibial band tightened up. I had to stop running and walk back two miles. The following week I started a number of specific stretches given to me by fellow runner and blogger Jacqui Perna. I used them daily, during warm up, and during breaks at the three-mile marks of my run. They worked and allowed me to make it 20 miles. I parked my car on the Comm Ave carriage road at the intersection with Centre Street. I ran the reverse Marathon route to the Fire Station where I continued on Comm Ave instead of turning on Washington Street. I crossed the Pike and touched Rowe Street. That is three miles one way. I returned to my car and then did the whole circuit two more times, plus one more time to Walnut and back. I had Gatorade, Honest Kids Juice pouches and GU stashed in my car and smaller amounts in my pockets. This combination of calories and hydration worked well. I am running shorter distances this week and my attention is turning to figuring out how to get to the starting line and how to get home after the race.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Finish Line in Sight – Jenna

Great Success! This week I ran the first 20 miles of the Marathon route, ending at Boston College. This was a true test of how things will go on Marathon day, and things went really well! I made it through the course and the hills without any shin problems, and generally felt I could have finished the last 6.2 miles once I got back to Boston. I was able to use my Powerade gummies along the way, and this time the re-fueling went well! I am really excited for race day now! The best part about the day was seeing all of the other marathoners out – they lined both sides of the streets along the course. However, I am looking forward to tapering down and giving my body a bit of a break, as I have been a bit more tired lately. A few shorter runs, a 10 miler and a 12 miler left, and then race day! It honestly can't come fast enough. I just can't wait to make it across that finish line!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Peak Mileage Week – Jacqui

Week 10: I wrapped up week 10 by skipping my long run. At least it was a short longer run – only 14 miles. It was a “step back” week, so I feel I missed out on a confidence booster since the long run was short. Hopefully it won’t matter much physically, though missing the long run on week 10 did greatly increase my anxiety towards the next week's long run of 20 miles. Week 11: Despite week 10's skipped run, I completed Week 11’s mileage, which peaked at 20 miles during the week and culminated with a 20-mile long run on Saturday. Due to some miscalculations in where I was supposed to turn around on the long run, I ended up running 20.6 miles on Saturday. I am such an overachiever! I went a little slower this run than my usual 12-minute miles. I am unsure what slowed me down. Maybe it was the fact that I didn’t have my personal mascot – my dog, Rowen. Or maybe it was the brutal, cold wind, or perhaps the brand-new knee pain that I developed around mile 16 that made me limp a bit. Still, I was very impressed with myself that I was actually able to run 20.6 miles. Hopefully, that means I will be able to run the full 26.2 on marathon day. I am very relieved that I have made it to this great milestone of completing the “peak mileage” week. From here until race day, I will be running shorter and shorter distances to rest up for the big day. Now that it looks like I will actually be able to finish the Marathon, I have begun to think about my finish time. I have always been a competitive person, so it has been very difficult for me to put my pride aside and try to just finish the race. I know it is unrealistic to “start” running 14 weeks prior to a Marathon and expect to have a respectable finish time. But I cannot get over the fact that this is a race, not just a challenge to finish. So one of the many things that I thought about on my 20-mile run this week was my finish time. If I am able to continue the remaining six miles, even at the slower pace that I ran on Saturday, I will actually finish the Marathon under the six hour time limit the Boston Athletic Association sets.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Last Long Run Before the Big Day – Elise

This Saturday I will be running the Marathon route from Hopkinton to where I live in Brighton. It is about 22 miles. I am so excited to be doing my last long run before the big day. I just picked up some new shoes yesterday at the New Balance Factory Store. I was afraid my old ones wouldn't last until the Marathon. I am trying to carb load before the run on Saturday to see how it feels. I have a new audible book for the run "The Reliable Wife", which is just getting good. I am going to take my brother's suggestion and freeze a couple of water bottles before to use for foot cramps after the run. I am hoping to pace around a 10:30 mile.

Expert Advice: Stay the Course

With only three weeks and four days to go, this is the time to keep up with your training and look ahead to the taper. I hope you've all been stretching regularly, doing some cross training, core strength and stability training and taking care of your nutrition and hydration. But…whatever you have been doing, just keep doing it. I have met with too many hopefuls that have changed something in the final stages of training, only to upset the machine. Now is NOT the time to change your shoes, try a new speed program or start a fancy 45-minute workout. You're almost there…you can do it!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Another Successful Week – Jenna

I successfully made up my mileage from last week, as well as completed my quickest 16 miles yet with L Street. Yesterday’s long run took us through Milton, Hyde Park, Canton and through the Blue Hills. I am feeling confident about completing the Marathon in a good time; however, the true test will be this coming Sunday when I run my longest distance yet – 22 miles on race course. We will start at Hopkinton and will end somewhere around Kenmore Square. This means I will be running Heartbreak at the same point I will on race day – something we have not done yet.

My friend Ture and I have decided to run the Marathon together as well. We have been training together and are running the same minute mile. This will make the whole experience more enjoyable for me and we can be there to cheer each other on throughout the whole race.

Over the past few weeks, I have been running faster and faster, originally starting somewhere around 10:30 minute miles and have been keeping a steady pace of 9:45, which is faster than I ever thought I would run for Marathon pace.

April 18th can't come fast enough!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Runner’s High – Jacqui

I reached a couple of exciting milestones this week. The first milestone was that I ran the longest distance of my life and am still upright to tell about it. I ran 18 miles on the Marathon route, from Pete’s Coffee in Wellesley to the Chestnut Hill Ave T Stop and back. My mileage this week ramped up to 36 miles from last week’s 29 miles. This is the first week that I am coming off a "step back" week, where the mileage is reduced to allow for gathering strength for the next push upward. I had been playing catch up all of this time – trying to do an 18-week training program in 14 weeks. I had been continuously increasing my mileage for seven weeks straight without ever having been a runner prior to that. I never felt like I had an easy run, as I was always pushing it further than I had ever pushed it before. I keep reading everywhere that rest is an important component of any training program and now I know why. I really felt the difference this week. I ran two runs during the week where I actually felt wonderful and got a taste of runner’s high – my second milestone. The runs were on the treadmill, which I usually tend to find very tedious and they were back to back at nine miles and five miles respectively. I found that I could have easily done a lot more!! Thankfully I am finally starting to feel some true progress.

After having run 18 miles total during the week, I set out for my 18-mile run on Saturday. Truthfully, I was a bit nervous about it. I didn’t think I could do it. But the miles passed by without too much effort. I did the first half with my dog again. She held up wonderfully once again. She is getting better about being a good running partner, only two barks the whole nine miles. That is saying a lot for a Border Collie, as they like to bark when they “work.” I am starting to see her as my personal mascot – Rowen, the Marathon dog. She then retired to the car and I set off for the hills of Newton. I started to fatigue around mile 16 and by the time mile 18 rolled around I was VERY grateful to see my glorious blue car sitting there waiting for me. I praised my car for being there to carry me home when I needed it most. Though exhausted at the time, I did recover well the next day without too much hobbling. I even did the run faster than my goal of 12-minute miles. I now know that unless I have some unforeseen injury, that I will be able to get to the end of the Marathon. Pretty amazing for someone that couldn’t run more than three miles nine weeks ago.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Balancing Act – Jenna

This week will be an interesting week. I was away this weekend skiing and was not able to get in my long run of 15 miles. Therefore, I am going to try to make up these miles tonight and tomorrow. I felt a bit guilty about not being able to run this weekend; however, I wanted to have a fun weekend away with friends, and not let it hinder my fun and the fun of the group I was with. This has been one of the toughest parts of marathon training for me – balancing skiing and running. It's hard to ski hard one day and run a handful of miles the next. I just plain run out of energy for my run. It was all worth it, and I'll just have to set away some extra time after work this week for running.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Expert Advice: Stretching

It sounds like everyone is sticking with their training and overcoming all the aches, pains, mental challenges, GI disturbances, boredom and weather-related issues! Nice to hear that we're hitting 20 miles and greater! Good job guys, keep it up!

I was recently asked about the value of stretching to avoid injury before or after exercise. Well, I believe that the jury is out on this one. There is literature to suggest that static stretching with 30 second holds before exercise does not decrease the risk of injury and that what is important is really a “warm up.” This is all well and good, but I still believe that some level of stretching at the beginning of a long run and then again at the end of your run can be helpful:

I would start off with a five-minute jog as a warm up, and then do a 10-minute stretching session. Focus on your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, groin, IT band, hips and even your shoulders and neck. Stretching after a short warm up has been shown to be more effective than stretching “cold.” Personally, I found that when I did this, my run felt smoother, less stiff and achy and I didn't have the feeling that I had cement legs! I do think it’s very important, however, to spend 10 to 15 minutes stretching after your runs…especially the longer ones! Your muscles will feel tight and achy due to the lactic acid, fatigue and muscle strain, and the stretching can help you to recover quicker. And that hurt feels so good! Go team go!

Practicing the Hills – Jacqui

Week 8 was uneventful, except that my 17-month-old son started crying when I got out my running shoes on Saturday. The poor guy kept sitting in my lap trying to prevent me from putting on my shoes. My mileage during the week ramped up, but the long run was shorter at only 12 miles. (This week’s total mileage was only 29 miles compared to last week’s 32.) Next week’s miles really ramp up, so I guess this week is all about rest – if you can call it that!

I ran outside for my long run and once again found it much easier than indoor training. It was pretty windy and it felt like I wasn’t making very much progress at times, but I ran at a slightly faster pace outdoors than on the treadmill. Thankfully outdoor running seems to be much easier for me than indoor running. I was able to stay on Commonwealth Ave.’s carriage road for the whole six miles out and back. Most of the snow is finally gone, but it was really wet and muddy. I again brought my border collie for half of the run and she was a content, dirty mess at the end. It is giving me some confidence to run the actual Boston Marathon route, especially since I keep running the hills in Newton, which are famous for being difficult. I also continue to do power walks with a baby jogger on the Avenue for my cross training day. Hopefully, that stretch of the Marathon will be so familiar that come race day it will not be intimidating!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Downhill and Uphill – Elise

I did my 20-mile run this past Saturday. I went out to Hopkinton and ran the course for ten miles and then turned back. I think it was a good comparison of the Marathon since the first ten miles are downhill so I had to run uphill the second half of my run, similar to Heartbreak Hill. I downloaded two "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" episodes and two "This American Life" episodes that pretty much covered my run. I also tried out my new fuel belt, which was fairly comfortable and very helpful. I felt pretty good the next day, just some cramping in my foot. I think I am going to try carb loading before my next long run and see if it works.

Managing My Time While Training – Jenna

This weekend I finished my 20-mile run! I ran from the Natick Armory to South Boston with the L Street Running club. This is the farthest I have run in one single bout to date! Most of the route was the Marathon course, which included the three big hills, including Heartbreak Hill! This was great because I became familiar with what I will be challenged with on race day. I had no idea how much the hills would fatigue my legs, and towards the end of the run it was pretty tough to keep going! However, I am so happy I had the experience this past weekend and have a better idea of what to expect.

I ran with my running buddy, Ture and we had a lot of time to talk during those three hours. I asked him if he had time to spend with family and friends during this time, especially as our mileage gets up high and our runs take longer and longer. He said it has required a lot of planning and sometimes saying "no" to things. We both agreed it can be a bit stressful. It made me feel a bit better, as it has been a bit of a challenge to manage my time and still have somewhat of a social life. For example, Saturday night I was at a friend’s birthday dinner until almost midnight (I was the first to leave - early bird), woke up at 5:45 am to catch the bus to the training run that started at 6:45 am, ran until 11:00 am, quickly showered and was at a baby shower at 12:30. I get a bit stressed trying to keep it all straight sometimes, but it’s nice to know I am not the only one! I know it will all be worth it come race day!

Friday, March 4, 2011

This is Doable – Jacqui

Week 7 was a fantastically encouraging week for me. I decided the snow and ice were cleared enough for me to hit the road for the long run. So I plotted out my 16-mile course on the marathon route from Wellesley Hills to Chestnut Hill T station and back. There were a few logistics to figure out. What would I need to wear? How would I carry all the things I needed – waters and gels, as well as my iPod. I was also on call last weekend, so I would also have to bring both my pager and my phone. It seemed that I would need a backpack for all of this stuff! How would I keep my turtle pace? How would I know when to do my new plan of designated one-minute walks every mile?

At the last minute I decided to bring along one of my dogs for companionship and moral support. I opted to park in the middle of my route, that way I was able to run out four miles to Wellesley Hills and back with my dog. Then when I got back to my car, I dropped off my pup and sunglasses and picked up a new water and gloves for the second leg of the trip out to Chestnut Hill T station and back. I did manage to fit everything in a fanny pack that was easy enough to carry on my waist. I initially had some difficulty getting the pack to stay snug on my waist, but after a couple of stops for adjustments that problem was solved. I decided to just run at a comfortable pace and do my designated walks for one minute every three songs. My dog was a great running partner except for the occasional unsolicited barks at poor random passersby. I cannot believe the stamina of that dog! I figured I better only take her for half of the run, as she has never been on a run ever in her life. Not only did she keep up with me the whole time, but she never even touched the water I left out for her while I ran the other eight miles!

The run along Route 16 to Wellesley Hills was very icy and snowy. There were many times where my dog and I were running on pure ice and jumping over large piles of snow. The run on Commonwealth Ave, on the other hand, was perfect running conditions. The miles flew by outside as opposed to inside on the treadmill where the miles ebb by. I had been so anxious to start running outside, as I had been warned that both keeping a pace and the hills would be a huge hardship compared to treadmill running. I was amazed to find that I kept my same pace on both legs of the run. Despite the snow and ice and Heartbreak hill, I was able to comfortably run the whole 16 miles – except for my designated 16 minutes of walking. I actually even enjoyed myself out there. What a relief, this is definitely doable!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Gu Is a No Go – Jenna

Getting back to my normal running schedule this week, I am excited to download another audio book from iTunes. This is something I never thought I would like, but it seems to keep me engaged as I go along and helps pass the time. My first audio book was four hours long, and I went through that in less than a week! Also, as far as fuel during my long runs, sometimes I need some and sometimes I don't. I am getting better at being able to tell when I need a little jumpstart and when I don't. I have found the "Gu" is a no-go. I have trouble getting it down and Gatorade makes me cramp up a bit. Swedish fish do work, but they tend to get stuck in your teeth. I found these organic dried fruit sticks at Whole Foods (looks like a small fruit roll-up) and bought a few to try this weekend for my long run. They are a bit easier to eat, and also a bit healthier for you (maybe?). I guess we'll see!

An Easy Long Run – Todd

This last weekend I was able to complete a long run. Having skipped running for two weekends since my last long run of 15 miles, I did not really know what to expect or have a plan. I ate a small breakfast and lunch and started out with a pocket full of GU, PowerBar Gel and Jelly Belly Sport Beans. I have been consistently using the LogMyRun app for my iPhone to keep track of my time and distance. Somewhere near mile five, I realized that the app had crashed between mile three and four. Since I started the day without a goal I decided to just run a course and measure it later. I continued west on Comm Ave past the Fire Station to Lexington Street in Auburndale where I reversed course and ran all the way back to Waban Hill Road across from Boston College. From there, I ran home. I ate my snacks, drank juice pouches and really felt great for the whole run. The iPhone iPod function continued to work. I listed to the Proclaimers, the Pogues and Mumford & Sons. Upon returning home, I threw my 2XU compression tights into the washer and took a shower. I put the tights on as soon as there were clean and wore them for the rest of the day. I am going to optimistically assume that my training, the specially formulated sports snacks and my compression tight all contributed to an easy long run. When I traced my run, it measured 14 miles. Perhaps that is a few miles shorter than it should have been at this time, but overall I was very happy.