Sunday, December 29, 2013

Baby It's Cold Outside!

But that doesn't stop me from getting out there and running!  Even when temps drop into the single digits, the snow is falling, and the wind is blowing I still layer up and run outdoors.  Sure you could bore yourself to death on the treadmill or indoor track but, once you learn how to dress appropriately, you'll want to be out in the fresh air, too.  It wasn't until this winter that I finally felt I had all the proper gear. I used to come home from my runs in tears with numb body parts, unable to move my fingers to even untie my shoes.  That didn't make for an enjoyable run nor was it a great way to start my day.

Here are some tips and suggestions for cold weather running, along with some gear that works for me:
  • 20 Degree Rule - Always remember to dress for temps that are 15-20 degrees warmer because you will heat up but take the windchill into account, as well.  That can make a huge difference especially if you're running when the sun isn't out to help warm you up.
  • Layer on top - I find wearing something tight against my body, like a lined moisture-wicking top with thumbholes, helps keep me warmer.  If it's extra cold, sometimes I'll wear two shirts, but always a jacket over the top.  I have two different thicknesses of jackets, depending on how cold it is.  My favorite is this Avalanche one that I found at Marshall's for $15!
  • Running tights - I used to wear whatever pants I had but this year I invested in running tights.  Go for some good lined ones for colder temps (below 20 degrees).  I highly recommend the Brooks Utopia running tights.  They keep me cozy warm even on the coldest days. These are by far my favorite addition to my winter running gear collection!
  • Gloves - Keep those fingers warm!  I had the hardest time with gloves. Finally I started wearing a glove/mitten combo.  Mine are actually leather (gasp!) on the outside.  I know, I know.  Not vegan.  I've had them for years, however, and they do keep my hands incredibly warm. And because my hands are ice cold as I sit here typing, I think my other option is frostbite.  If you're interested, the mittens I use are similar to these.  You could also try a thinner base layer glove with a warmer glove or mitten over the top.
  • Buff - A Buff is nice because you can wear it as a neck warmer (my choice) or pull it up over your mouth or face to keep the wind off on extra cold days.  Another option is a balaclava but I don't have one of those.
  • Hat or ear warmer - I love my Athleta headband (seen in pic above).  I should probably move to a hat on colder days but as long as my ears are covered I'm usually good.
  • Socks - You might want to double up on socks if it doesn't feel strange to run in two layers.  So far I've been ok with one layer.  In the winter I wear socks that are a little taller and go up over my tights, ensuring no ankle gap between my socks and tights.  This is not the time to show any skin!
  • Yaktrax - If you're getting out and running in the snow and ice, you might want to consider something to give you some traction and help prevent slippage.  I have Yaktrax Pro.  I used mine for the first time last week and loved them!  I felt like a kid again running though the snow! Just be sure to use them on a good layer of snow or ice - not for use on cleared pavement.
  • Reflective Clothing/Lights - Because there are fewer hours of daylight, be sure you're wearing as much reflective clothing as possible.  I have some Brooks Nightlife arm bands, a Nathan armband light (I wear it on my thigh), and a Brooks Nightlife jacket.  Plus any reflective strips on your running clothes help.  Be safe, be seen!  

These are the things that have worked for me.  Granted, we've been lucky to have somewhat mild winters lately here in Michigan without too much snow but they've been winters nonetheless.  

What is some of your favorite winter running gear?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Stuffed Sweet Dumpling Squash

I reached for an acorn squash the other day at the market as I usually do when I'm going to make this favorite fall recipe.  Sitting right next to the acorn, however, was a different kind of squash that caught my eye.  It was the shape of an acorn squash but the color of a delicata (my favorite!).  What could this be? I wondered. When I saw the name I knew I had to get it.  Sweet dumpling.  How cute is that?!? A sweet dumpling squash! And I hoped since it looked comparable to the delicata it would have a similar sweet taste, which it did.  yay!

You can make this recipe using any winter squash.  We've made it many times with acorn and it's turned out great.  If you do find a sweet dumpling or delicata, I recommend choosing that for it's sweet flavor.

Stuffed Sweet Dumpling Squash

1 sweet dumpling squash
1/4 cup couscous
1/4 cup boiling water
1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 Vidalia onion, finely chopped
1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
2 tbsp. dried cranberries


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Cut the squash in half and remove seeds.  Place cut sides down in a baking dish.  Add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.  Turn cut sides up.  Bake, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes more or until tender.

2. While the squash is cooking, prepare the couscous by pouring the boiling water over the couscous.  Set aside while the water absorbs.  Chop the onion and pepper.  
3. When there is about 10 minutes left on the squash, preheat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the olive oil; heat.  Add the onion and green pepper; sauté until softened and fragrant.

4. Add the BOCA crumbles and cook until heated, about 2-3 minutes.  If things start to stick add a little bit of water.  Add the couscous and stir to combine.  Heat through.  Add the cranberries at the end and stir.

5. Remove the squash from the pan and evenly divide the couscous mixture between halves.  Serve immediately.

Serves 2.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

On the Run: Mustache Dache Detroit 2013

Yesterday was the second most exciting race of the season (the first being the Freep marathon, of course).  I registered for Mustache Dache Detroit back in August.  Justin and Alia have been talking it up at RUNdetroit since the race was announced but anticipation has been building in the past few weeks.  As word spread, more people rushed to register and the race sold out.  More spots were added and those sold out too.  I don't know about anyone else, but I'd wager the addition of the fuzzy mustache teeter totter might have had something something to do with the sell-out!  

The teeter totter was at the Mustache Bash, along with free Atwater beer for runners, post-race snacks, a mechanical bull, DMC trainers with free hot/cold packs and training advice, 2 food trucks, mustache merch for sale, and the post-race awards ceremony.  The awards were super sweet pint glasses with mustaches on them.  Alas, I did not get one.  They went to the top 3 and I came in 6th in my age group (18-39).  Ah well.  5ks are hard, yo!  

Here's how it all went down.  First of all, it was a super windy day and even windier down near the Detroit River.  That made it a hard race, at least the first mile when there was a major headwind.  I started out at the front but just couldn't handle the wind.  I was passed by a lot of people.  A lot.  I was getting really down on myself for that.  I ran my first mile in 7:25. 

After we turned a corner at the Ren Cen and headed to the Riverwalk, it got better.  I was only nearly blown over twice and was able to gain speed in the second mile.  I chicked several dudes, which definitely boosted my confidence.  I also caught up to and passed a couple of the girls that I started with.  I finally saw my friend Juliette in the distance.  I finished Mile 2 in 7:04.

For the last mile I was really able to pick up the pace.  Yes, the wind had calmed down but really this was when I settled into my zone.  I almost caught up to Juliette.  Then we turned the corner and there was the finish line.  That's when she really poured it on and there was no way I would catch her!  It was amazing to watch.  I ran hard to the end, finishing in 21:44.  My third mile was 6:28, nearly a full minute faster than my first.  

It was just 5 seconds off my PR, which I earned on a windless day.  That was a year ago so I should be faster now.  I don't think I'll get faster in the 5k distance, however, until I start getting serious about my speed work.  As I said earlier, 5ks are hard!  You really have to be flying from the get-go and I'm used to the longer distances where I have time to increase my speed.  Perhaps next season I'll work on that.  

No matter the outcome I had fun running and I got to hang with friends and RUNdetroit running group peeps!  I'd like to say I was tricked out in some mustache-themed get-up but I was not.  I only had some mustache Shwings on my shoes.  There were, however, PLENTY of sweet 'staches - authentic, painted, and store-bought - so enough other people got into the spirit.  There were also some pretty sweet costumes, including many Tom Sellecks.  And I'm proud to add this fabulous finisher medal to my collection!



Banana, 1/2 CLIF Shot

Maneater / Hall & Oates
Attention / The Raconteurs
Run (I'm a Natural Disaster) / Gnarls Barkley
Sharp Dressed Man / ZZ Top
Everybody Get Dangerous / Weezer
Bodysnatchers / Radiohead

*In keeping with the theme of the race, all songs on my playlist were sung by artists sporting 'staches at the time of recording.  I pressed play a bit early so actually started AND ended with "Maneater."  SO appropriate.  

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Lessons Learned: Marathon #2

Unfortunately, marathon recovery isn't going as quickly or as smoothly as I'd hoped. After the race my IT band and shins were really sore.  Initially I thought it was just due to running the faster pace for the longer distance, which I'm sure was the biggest part of it. Now that it's been 2 weeks since the race and I've had more time to reflect, I've realized a few other things probably came into play. 

I keep thinking back to the weeks and days leading up to the race, even race day itself, and all the little things I might have done differently.  Would have, could have, should have. Then I think of the things I did post-race that prolonged my injury.  I get frustrated that I didn't do things differently.  Would have, could have, should have.  I can't change any of that now so I can only move forward and learn from my mistakes.  

Lessons Learned

  • Don't neglect strength training - For years I've consistently strength trained 2-3 days a week.  During the summer when I was increasing my mileage for Marquette I kept up with it, even if it was only 1-2 days a week.  Once the school year started and time was limited, something had to give and unfortunately strength training fell to the wayside. On cross training days (Monday) I opted for cycling to flush out lactic acid after long Sunday runs.  While this was important, so is strength training and come race day, I paid the price in my ITB.
  • Foam roll and stretch during taper week - My muscles were definitely tighter than they should have been and thinking back, I probably only used the roller twice in the week before the race.  I didn't go to a yoga class or even do much yoga on my own.  
  • Warm up before the race - Other than my running/jumping/pushing/ swearing to get to the start of the race (you can read about it in my race report), I didn't get in an actual warm-up run.  That means I started the race on a chilly morning at a 7:26/mile pace without being properly warmed up.  And then ran a marathon.  No wonder I felt ITB pain at mile 16!
  • Be sure your shoes aren't worn down - I don't do well with tracking the mileage on my shoes because I have two pairs of Brooks Adrenalines that I alternate between.  In choosing which pair to wear on race day, I should have looked at the treads (rather than picking my favorite purple pair which I'd already run one marathon in).  I didn't even look at the treads until one week post-race at RUNdetroit when I showed them to Alia, one of the store owners.  The look on her face said it all.  Yes, another likely reason for ITB pain.  I left the store with a new pair of shoes tucked under my arm.  (NOTE: When I got home and looked at my green Brooks, the treads were just fine.  Well sh*t.)

  • Get a sports massage ASAP - I thought I was being smart by scheduling a deep-tissue massage a couple of days after the race.  I went to a spa that provides all types of services.  I told the massage therapist what to focus on and she did; however, I didn't feel she spent enough time on my problem areas.  A week later I went to a place that does ONLY massage and had a sports massage.  The massage therapist not only massaged but also stretched my legs and used organic oils specific for pain.  She spent an hour just on my legs!  It was the most painful massage of my life but I also felt about 90% better afterwards.  I will never have a massage at the spa again!
  • Rest - By rest I mean not only rest from running but also SLEEP.  I didn't get enough sleep after the marathon and the cold that I had during the race turned into a terrible cough.  Maybe that would have happened anyway but more sleep wouldn't have hurt. 
  • Listen to your body - I was hearing from a lot of people about when I should run again after the marathon.  Some people think you should wait two weeks.  Other people don't understand why you aren't ready to run in two days!  I took the first week off and thought I was ready to go back but then I jumped back in too far and too fast.  I was back at square one.  So on week two I took it much slower.  Yoga, stretching, easy cycle. That painful sports massage.  After Marquette I was ready after about 3 days without any problems.  Initially I felt this race recovery would be the same but with so many different factors, that wasn't possible.  Treat every race individually.  Don't compare.  

A wise man recently told me, "A good lumberjack only has one scar."  Don't be afraid to take a risk but don't be stupid and make the same mistake twice.  One injury is enough.  Heal properly before easing back in.  I've learned my lessons and now I will move on, a little smarter and more realistic than I was before.  

No more would haves, could haves, or should haves.  I'll run forward, perhaps a little more slowly at first.  One mile at a time.  In my sweet new shoes.

Have you been injured after a race?  Needed a longer recovery time than expected?  Share your story!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

On the Run: Detroit Free Press Marathon 2013

Last Sunday the alarm went off at 3:45 a.m. but I was already awake.  It's not often that I get nervous for races but I sure had some jitters for this one!  In fact, I was even more nervous than I'd been for Marquette, which was my first marathon and big BQ.  However, that one was so small, there was no fanfare, and in all honesty I had no CLUE what I was doing.  But on Sunday, so many what-if's were going through my mind:  What if I just lucked out in Marquette?  What if I hit the wall this time?  What if I wouldn't be able to hang with my pace group?  

And I had a cold so naturally What if I wake up with full-blown pneumonia?!?

So when the alarm went off I hopped right out of bed, ready to go.  I got dressed, pinned on my bib, and did my hair first thing.  Then I put my pj's back on over my clothes.  It was a chilly morning!  I had plenty of time to eat my chia pudding, have some water, relax, and be ready to leave right on schedule at 5:00.

You'd think, then, that getting to the race at 5:20 wouldn't mean that I almost missed the 7:00 start.  Here's what happened.  We only sat in the car for a few minutes before heading to the start area.  I used the port-a-potty right away but because it was only 6:00 I knew I would have to go again.  I saw my friend Stephanie and we got to talking for a few minutes while the lines got longer and then around 6:15 we got in line again.  We figured 45 minutes was enough time to get through the line.  WRONG.  Turns out we picked the worst line. The line with the least aggressive people.  They were letting everyone from the other lines use their port-a-potties so our line wasn't moving. (Also apparently someone threw up in one of the port-a-potties so it was out of commission.  Who throws up in a port-a-potty?)  6:30 came and went.  We had barely moved.  6:40. 6:45.  "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "O Canada" were sung.  We'd moved but were still waiting. At this point we nearly started a riot.  I stripped off my pj's and had my iPod ready. People started to get more aggressive at the front of the line but I was panicking big time.  Finally it was my turn!

At this point I had 5 minutes to get the start.  I was all the way back at Corral M and I needed to get to Corral B.  The sidewalk was jam-packed with runners and spectators.  I pushed my way through them as fast as I could, running when it was possible, vaulting over obstacles, shouting and swearing the whole way.  I thought maybe I was where I needed to be and I shouted to someone in the corrals, "Which corral is this?!!"  When he told me G I yelled something not very nice back at him. Sorry man.  I kept fighting my way through and finally, FINALLY I saw B.  I saw my pacer with his 3:15 sign and I ran up to him shouting, "3:15!  Thank God!  You're Jordan?  I can't believe I found you!  I was in the longest port-a-potty line ever! It wasn't moving because someone threw up in one and everyone was letting everyone else go in front of them I mean seriously who throws up in a port-a-potty?!"  At that point I'm pretty sure he wanted to point to someone, ANYONE and say, uh, Jordan is over there.  But he was cool.  He just looked at my bib and said, "First marathon?"  (Green bib meant first time marathoner.)  I explained about Marquette which probably only confirmed my craziness.   

I started my iPod and Garmin but because of all the other Garmins it didn't find the satellites right away.  I only had 1 minute before the first wave went off.  30 seconds later our wave went.  (Talk about cutting it close!)  Just as I was crossing the timing mat my Garmin found the satellites.  And we were officially off!  The race had begun!

The Start/Ambassador Bridge
Although the beginning of the race is always crowded, it's not too bad up at the front.  I was able to stick with my pace group and made sure to run as close to Jordan as possible, even when he was weaving in and out of crowds.  It was very dark at the start but the sun started to rise soon enough.  I love that the Ambassador Bridge comes early in the race because that's always around the point that the sun is starting to peek up.  Running up the bridge and over the Detroit River, looking across the city, and seeing the sun come up is always an awesome sight.  Although it's a challenge to go uphill it's nothing unmanageable and my legs were nice and fresh so it didn't feel difficult.  Jordan helped us keep a steady pace both uphill and down.  23.5 miles to go.

Running through Canada is always great - the welcoming announcers when you come off the bridge, the cheering crowds, the guy in the banana suit.  I love running along the river and looking across to see Detroit.  Winding our way from the bridge to the tunnel is a sweet part of the course.  19 miles to go.

The Tunnel
Ah, the tunnel.  That blasted tunnel.  Hot.  Stuffy.  Hilly.  There isn't really anything good I can say about the tunnel.  Except for the border patrol guards at the end who were looking for bibs.  One guy was making a big show of looking - doing like pretend binoculars - so I stuck out my chest and motioned really big at the bib for him and he clapped and laughed.  Most of them seem to have no sense of humor so I was glad he made me smile! 18 miles to go.

The Lodge/Mexicantown/Corktown/Campus Martius
After coming out of the tunnel we were greeted to a fantastic crowd in Detroit, welcoming us back into the U.S.  Then for the first time (due to construction) we ran on the Lodge, under Cobo.  I saw one of my friends cheering for me, which was a nice boost!  After that we ran by Green Dot Stables, through Mexicantown, and then wound our way through Corktown and up Michigan Avenue.  The crowds became more plentiful again at this point because it's where the half marathoners split off to head to the finish line and we continued on for the rest of our race.  As I neared Campus Martius I thought about how for the past 3 years I was always headed to the finish line.  Usually at this point I think, "Thank God I don't have another 13.1 miles to go!" but this year I was excited that I was only halfway done. I was ready to take on the back half of the course. I opened my first CLIF Shot and as I rounded the corner I saw Brian cheering me on!  I was feeling good other than some slight pain in my left hip.  I realized that in my mad rush to get ready in the port-a-potty line I'd tied my shoelaces too tight and they were digging into the tops of my feet.  13 miles to go.

Lafayette/Indian Village
The next stretch of the course wasn't all that exciting.  We ran down a long stretch of Lafayette and through Indian Village.  This is where it was great to have a good group to be running with.  My pace team was great.  I was still holding strong with them and carrying on conversations about various running topics.  I was the only girl in the group so that was pretty sweet.  Love that I can hang with the boys!  We were encouraging each other along and it was a really positive group. Unfortunately I started having some IT band pain in my left leg at mile 16.  It only got worse between 16 and 19.  Naturally I was imagining the worst possible scenarios.  But I kept pushing myself, kept up with the group, had another CLIF Shot and some water, and miraculously it seemed to feel better. 7 miles to go.

Belle Isle
I was a little worried about Belle Isle.  Everyone says it's the worst - lonely, isolated, boring.  Yikes.  I wasn't so much worried about it for those reasons, though, because I had my pace group to keep me company.  I was more worried about it for the wind.  It was already a windy day and with it being on the water it was probably going to be especially bad.  And it was.  I couldn't keep up with my pacer.  I couldn't keep up with anyone in the group and fell behind.  I tried to catch up by not slowing down at the water stations but that didn't help.  Finally I just had to put my head down, stop complaining, and push it.  I caught back up to the group just before we hit the bridge to head back.  And while there weren't that many people on Belle Isle, I wouldn't agree with those who described it as "boring" and "lonely."  Plus the bridge was pretty happening and right at the end I saw another friend unexpectedly so that was a nice push.  At this point I was running right next to my pacer and feeling good.  3 miles to go.

The Riverwalk/Atwater Street
We ran a bit of a stretch down Jefferson again before winding our way down to the Riverwalk.  I had hoped that getting off Belle Isle would mean less wind but unfortunately it didn't.  I fell behind the group again but not by much.  Running along the Riverwalk was probably my favorite part.  It was peaceful and quiet and it hardly seemed like we were running in a marathon at this point.  Then we ran down Atwater and by Chene Park, which was cool because I never knew where Chene Park was until I ran past it!  There were some good spectators out along this part of the course and I knocked out a few fist pumps for the crowds.  At the end of Atwater we turned the corner (I could still see Jordan not too far ahead of me!) and there was a decent enough hill with the 25-mile marker at the top.  I saw 2 friends I knew cheering me on.  Wahoo! 1.2 miles to go.

The Finish
With about one mile to go, I was still about the same distance behind Jordan.  Then I saw one of my friends who shouted something about me needing to catch my pacer.  I yelled back, "I know I fell behind!"  And that's when I suddenly became determined to catch up to him.  I started to push.  I passed one runner and as I came upon the next I recognized it was one of my GLR teammates.  I encouraged her and then kept going.  Next I passed two guys from my pace team who wanted to know where I'd been storing that energy.  I rounded the corner onto Fort Street. I could see the Finish line.  The crowds were cheering.  Up ahead I could hear the announcer.  I kept pushing, trying to catch Jordan and that 3:15 goal.  And I did!  I crossed the finish line in 3:14:49, setting a new PR for myself by almost 9 minutes and finishing 10th woman overall!  

After the Race
The great thing about running with a pace group is you have people to celebrate with at the end.  It's a pretty awesome feeling to run and encourage each other along for 26.2 miles to help each other meet their goals.  None of us knew each other when we started. I saw another GLR teammate just after I finished, which was an awesome surprise!  Then I grabbed my post-race snacks from really friendly and excited volunteers.  Vegan-wise, the snacks weren't bad - Food Should Taste Good chips and Garden Fresh hummus (both vegan), bananas and apples, and mini Larabars and Uberbars (Uberbars have honey but still a good choice).  Then I walked over to the after-party to meet Brian and get a free massage.  No waiting! I told the massage ladies not once but twice that I loved them.

We didn't stick around for anything else - I was way too cold and deeply in need of my Starbucks coffee and oatmeal.  However, on the way back to the car I ran into my friend Amy who placed 3rd overall for women in the marathon.  She is SMOKIN' fast!!

I loved everything about this marathon (well, not the IT band pain!) and couldn't be happier with how I ran it!



vanilla chia pudding, banana (pre-race)
2 CLIF Shots (mid-race @ miles 13 and 19)

Seven Nation Army / The White Stripes 
You Can't Hurry Love / The Supremes 
I Want It All / Arctic Monkeys
A Long Time / Mayer Hawthorne
Cheer Up Boys (Your Make-Up Is Running) / Foo Fighters 
Spark / Fitz & the Tantrums
I'm Shakin' / Jack White
Radio / Raphael Saadiq
Lately / Soul Asylum
Don't Wanna Talk / Brendan Benson
Mallie Chan / Otto Vector 
Safe and Sound / Capital Cities
Get in My Way / Robin Thicke
Crown on the Ground / Sleigh Bells
Back & Forth / Foo Fighters
Hooray for Hollywood / Neon Trees
50 Ways to Say Goodbye / Train 
I Love It / Icona Pop 
Think / Aretha Franklin
The Innocent / Mayer Hawthorne 
Ain't Messin 'Round / Gary Clark Jr.
Area 52 / Yeah Yeah Yeah's
Work Around It / Them Swoops
Charmless Man / Blur
Sleep Alone / Two Door Cinema Club
Molly / Sponge
You've Got Time / Regina Spektor
Second Chance / Peter Bjorn & John
Blue Orchid / The White Stripes
Reptilia / The Strokes
Worship You / Vampire Weekend
Supermassive Black Hole / Muse
Bitter Rivals / Sleigh Bells
Man / Neko Case
All is Well / Soul Asylum
L.O.V. / Fitz & the Tantrums
Silence is Their Drug / Sponge
Hell / Tegan & Sara
What Makes You Beautiful / One Direction
Runaway Baby / Bruno Mars
The Man That Never Was / Rick Springfield
Bulletproof / La Roux
Sixteen Saltines / Jack White
Good to Me / Brendan Benson 
Dance Apocalyptic / Janelle Monae
Don't Stop (Color on the Walls) / Foster the People
Reach Out (I'll Be There) / The Four Tops
Hotel Yorba / The White Stripes
We Found Love / Rihanna
Everything / Nine Inch Nails
Mercy / Duffy
Blood for Poppies / Garbage
Race for the Prize / The Flaming Lips
I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor / Arctic Monkeys
Can't Hold Us / Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Brave / Sara Bareilles
Demons / Imagine Dragons
Uprising / Muse

After 2 marathons in 2 months and 18 weeks of Hal Higdon (though I love him and thank him dearly), I'm looking forward to not following a training plan and running shorter races.  Bring on the 5k's and 10k's!

Next races: Mustache Dache, November 9th

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Detroit Marathon Countdown: 4 Days

I know I've sort of fallen off with my countdown posts.  Sorry about that.  Running the Marquette Marathon took some of the pressure off Detroit and I'm not as nervous as I anticipated I'd be back in June when I started training.  Wow, June.  That seems like forever ago!

Looking back over these past 18 weeks of training, I've done a lot of things to grow as a runner.  A lot of things that have helped prepare me for this marathon way beyond what just following the Hal Higdon training schedule would have done. Don't get me wrong - I'm glad I had a plan.  But I tweaked it here and there and I made it my own.  Not so much that I wasn't still following it.  I guess you could say I spiced it up a bit.  BAM!

Beyond the Plan:
  • Early on I did GLR, which pushed me to run faster and harder than ever before, challenging me mentally like no other race I'd run before.  I didn't realize it at the time, but this was the foundation for my marathon training.  
  • I sprinkled in races throughout my training program to help me train at race pace.  I did 3 10K races and 2 half marathons.  Plus the full marathon but that wasn't entirely planned. This isn't necessarily more than I would normally race in an 18-week period but I was definitely logging more miles along with these races.  And I didn't think anything of it, nor was I any more tired because of it.  Adding in the races made the miles more fun and it was a good way to challenge myself with speed.
  • Speaking of speed, I've really picked up the pace, thanks in large part to my new Garmin. Just running the miles isn't enough if you aren't pushing your pace on some runs.  I highly recommend using a Garmin or equivalent, along with a pace calculator if you want set a new goal for yourself.  (I used the Runner's World calculator to obsess over, er, PLAN my pace for Marquette and Detroit.)  
  • In July I started doing group runs with RUNdetroit, which is hands-down THE BEST running store around!  My Saturday runs are a whole lot more interesting now that I'm running through Midtown, Corktown, Hamtramck, and along the Riverwalk.  I've met some amazing people through this group and it's a great way to get in a fast 6 or 10 miles on Saturday mornings.  Recently on a rainy Saturday when my motivation to get out to run was dwindling, knowing there would be a big group of people meeting at the store was just the push I needed to get me out the door.  18 weeks ago I would have just gone to the gym instead!

Running gradually became more important to me over the past few years but in the last 18 weeks it has become much more of who I am.  It's part of how I define myself and I couldn't see my life without it.  Because of this, as I approach the marathon, I don't look to it as the end.  Yes, it's the end of THIS training cycle but it's not the end of my training.  After the marathon I will have more races, more Saturday group runs, more solo after-work stress-relieving runs.  I will have Boston.  
So after Sunday's race I'll take a few days to recover - do some yoga, get a massage - and then be back on the road, ready to run.  And if all goes to plan, I'll have a new PR to beat.

Are you running Detroit on Sunday?

Read previous Detroit Marathon Countdown posts - 17 Weeks, 15 Weeks, 12 Weeks, 10 Weeks

Saturday, October 5, 2013

On the Run: Brooksie Way 1/2 Marathon 2013

Although it wasn't my first race of the season, in my opinion, the Brooksie Way is the race that officially kicks off Fall.  It's the last weekend in September, so the weather is starting to cool off a bit and get into those perfect racing temps.  The leaves are starting to change color and with a course like Brooksie, you get to take it a lot of scenery!  In fact, it's the most scenic course around without having to drive up to the UP.  It takes you along the Clinton River Trail and Paint Creek Trail, both of which have a lot of trees.  Aside from the weather and scenery, the tee shirt and finisher's medal always have leaves on them so that is very fall-like, as well.  I'm not necessarily a sucker for medals but I do have to say that this is one a looker!


On the day of the race I was scheduled to run 20 miles.  The race started at 8:05 so I arrived at 6:30 to get in 5 miles ahead of time.  My plan was to run them easy, around an 8:30 pace.  Well . . . that turned into more of a 7:45ish pace.  oops.  But I was feeling good so I went with it.  After I was done I had time to use the bathroom, eat a banana, and talk to some friends.  Then I squeezed into my corral - boy was it crowded! - and had about 5 minutes to go before the start.

And I was off!  My 5 mile warm-up really helped me be able to get going at a good pace.  For the first 4 miles my pace gradually decreased as I settled into the race and slowly broke away from the crowds.  Brooksie has rolling hills that start around mile 7 and take you through the end of the race.  (Oh how I LOVE the hills!!)  My pace slowed at miles 8-9 but after that I was able to speed up and kept it consistent for 10-12.  Then for mile 13 I knocked off a whole 30 seconds to kick it out strong to the end.  

I finished in 1:32:30, placing 3rd in my age group, 8th woman overall.  I was only 2 seconds behind the girl ahead of me but because of chip timing, I didn't realize how close she was.  Had I known I might have poured a bit more on at the end!  But I was really giving it my all so I don't know if I could have done any more than I did.  This was a new course PR for me, beating last year's time of 1:33:33.  It was also a new half PR, beating my Free Press time of 1:32:37.  Considering this was my last half of the year, I was definitely excited to end on a high note!

After the race I ran 2 more miles to finish out my 20 for the day.  Those miles I did take easy.  I swear.



Vanilla Chia Pudding, banana

Off to the Races / Lana Del Rey 
Never Wanted Your Love / She & Him 
Over Here, Over There / Dr. Dog 
Lately / Soul Asylum 
Song Away / Hockey 
Bitter Rivals / Sleigh Bells 
Blurred Lines / Robin Thicke 
Everything / Nine Inch Nails 
The Great Defector / Bell X1 
Locked Out of Heaven / Bruno Mars 
Sixteen Saltines / Jack White 
Worship You / Vampire Weekend 
I Will Wait / Mumford & Sons 
Spark / Fitz & the Tantrums 
Better Left Unsaid / Otto Vector 
You've Got Time / Regina Spektor 
Dance Apocalyptic / Janelle Monae 
The Innocent / Mayer Hawthorne 
Good Time / Owl City (Ft. Carly Rae Jepsen)
All is Well / Soul Asylum 
Tap Out / The Strokes 
Battleflag / LoFidelity Allstars
Chop and Change / The Black Keys
Can't Hold Us / Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
The Antidote / St. Vincent 
Brave / Sara Bareilles

Next race: Detroit Free Press Marathon, October 20th

What's your favorite Fall race?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

On the Run: Detroit Women's 1/2 Marathon 2013

Last Sunday I ran my first women's-only event.  It was the first time Detroit has hosted the Women's Half Marathon and 5k.  Before that I never felt an overwhelming urge to go out of my way to run a women's-only event anywhere else.

When I heard about this event on Belle Isle, I signed up right away.  I love being part of new races!  Also I was curious to see how this type of race might be different from a race with both men and women.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  (To be honest, I was a little disappointed there wouldn't be any dudes to chick.  Ah well.  Although as it turned out, there was one dude running.  And yep, I chicked him!  haha)

I don't know how to compare this race to a traditional mixed gender race, other than by stating the obvious.  It was all women.  And most of the spectators were men.
I loved the race!  It was small, with fewer than 700 finishers in the half.  I was able to start right at the front so there wasn't anyone to get around.  The only parts where it got crowded was on the second loop when I caught up to 5k walkers and again on the third loop when I caught up to half marathoners on their second loop.  But even that wasn't bad.  Everyone involved was friendly and supportive.  The course looped around Belle Isle, offering beautiful views of the city.  It was windy by the water, which slowed me down at times, but the sun was shining and we couldn't have asked for a more perfect day.

After the first mile of running solo, another woman fell into stride next to me.  I felt myself pick up the pace just a bit.  We ran together for a while before she told me was going to try to keep up with me for the rest of the race.  I laughed and said I'd try to keep up with her, too.  We introduced ourselves to each other (she is Juliette) and stuck together until mile 6.  I got a little burst of speed and went ahead for the rest of the race, finishing just about 30 seconds ahead of her.  We were 5th and 6th place.  Each of us were first in our age groups.  Wahoo!

After the race, Juliette and I hung out while waiting for the awards ceremony and became instant friends.  Usually I just leave after a race, especially when I'm there by myself.  Maybe this is one of the differences between a women's-only race.  The camaraderie?  The support?  It was pretty cool.  And the award was actually useful - wine!!  Now we're talking.



Vanilla Chia Pudding, banana

Rehab / Amy Winehouse
Let's Get Out of This Country / Camera Obscura
Hell / Tegan & Sara
I Love It / Icona Pop
Keep Your Head / The Ting Tings
Lots to Say / Otto Vector
We Found Love / Rihanna
I Knew You Were Trouble / Taylor Swift
LDN / Lilly Allen
Bad Romance / Lady Gaga
Dance Apocalyptic / Janelle Monae
Actor Out of Work / St. Vincent
You've Got Time / Regina Spektor
Celebrity Skin / Hole
Mercy / Duffy
Blood For Poppies / Garbage
Crushcrushcrush / Paramore
The Magnifying Glass / The Joy Formidable
The Edge of Glory / Lady Gaga
Bulletproof / La Roux
A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got) /Fergie (Ft. Q-Tip and Goonrock)
Paris (Ooh La La) / Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
Shut Up and Drive / Rihanna
Kiss With a Fist / Florence & The Machine
Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You) / Kelly Clarkson
The Antidote / St. Vincent
New Day / Alicia Keys
E.T. / Katy Perry

Next race: Brooksie Way 1/2 Marathon, September 29th 

How do you feel about women's-only races vs. traditional mixed-gender races?