Monday, December 11, 2017

Boston Marathon training {Week 0}

Today starts Boston Marathon training for me! I’ve been super excited for this day since I qualified again at the Copenhagen Marathon in May. I’m even more excited because I’m fresh off the heels of a breakthrough half marathon PR.



On Training

I guess I should set intentions for this new season of marathon training since that’s what social media tells me I need to do. Lolz.

I’ll be following the Hanson marathon advanced plan again. I’ll likely add some Goal Marathon pace miles into my long runs too. I’ll also be adding cycling (and swimming eventually) in each week because I’ve got another big goal post Boston- a Triathlon!

I’ll up my strength training- Mondays and Wednesdays are usually arm/core days, Tuesday’s and Thursday’s post speed/tempo are leg days. Trashing my legs after hard workouts made my half PR achievable.


Tuesday Uniform FTW. Only worn for speed work

On Goals

It was surprisingly difficult to determine a time goal to train for. Sure- I put my recent half time into a running calculator online and it said I could run a 3:20- but that is at my current fitness level. I plan on being fitter 4.5 months from now- and 3:20 didn’t excite me much. (Current PR 3:28) I looked at training paces for something more aggressive and decided on a 3:1x. Yes, Ambiguous to everyone but me since I know what that “x” represents. Some things I need to keep to myself.

Ideally I’d like to set some new PRs in 2018, but with marathon and eventually triathlon training, I know I won’t be as prepared to PR a 5k because, long distance training. Dropping my half time further would be doable. Getting closer to breaking 1:30 is top of my list for a half this spring.

On Mindset

Social media tells me I need motivation and inspiration to run. What a load of bull shit. If I only ran when I was “inspired” or “motivated” I’d run half of what I do now. I run because I genuinely enjoy it. And on the days I’d rather sit on the couch, I think about my goals and how important they are for me and then I go run. Chasing goals and enjoying running is internal for me. External stuff like motivation or inspiration set you up for extreme failure.



Other stuff

I was at my lowest race weight for the half and it paid off. For this cycle I need to lose 10lbs (from my fluffy weight this morning), and would like to cut about 4-5% body fat. The whole “you can’t out exercise a bad diet” is 100% true. I don’t eat bad food- no junk food here, but I eat too much food (gotten better about bingeing on food) and can cut back on beer. I’m not as concerned now- 6 weeks pre Boston I’ll start dialing in my food intake more.

The end of this rambling post

I’m so excited to train for Boston again! I really wanted a second go since last year’s race was an inferno. It’s also nice having something to look forward to during the Chicago winter.

126 days to go!

Race schedule :

•F^3 half- pending weather

•Potential half in a tropical location

•March Madness half- if I remember to register on 12/31

•Shamrock shuffle 8k

•Boston Marathon


-Xaarlin

Monday, October 23, 2017

Naperville Half Marathon 2017 {Race Recap}

Three words to describe this race:

Holy F*cking Shit or BOOM goes {the} dynamite

Time: 1:35:30 {7 minute PR!}

AG: 1st of 254

Women: 14th of 1275

Overall: 93rd of 2426

TL;DR version: this race went perfectly, exactly as I wanted/envisioned/trained for.

Pre Race:

This goes back further than just the day of the race- which should and likely will become its own post due to all of the variables involved.

Synopsis:

•Lost nearly 10lbs since July and 4% body fat

•Overcame binge eating, to eat proper portion size. (I don’t eat bad food, but I eat way too much)

•2 weeks prior to the race I cut out alcohol

•2 weeks pre race I dialed in my food intake to get to race weight safely

•Training was solid and of high quality

•Got my head out of my ass and comfort zone


Race morning -

Woke up around 4:18 to get ready. Ate some oatmeal + banana, took both pups out, and gathered all my stuff so we could drive out to Naperville.


Race morning was around 62 degrees and 59 for dew point. According to a chart I found online (and reference frequently) concerning dew point effect on running- I knew that this combo could result in a 1-2% decline in performance since it wasn’t ideal race conditions. That would translate into around 4-7 second per mile slower for me.


I had a super duper stretch A goal which only a handful of people knew about, and that was to run a 1:35. A 1:35 would be an audacious goal 7 minutes faster than my PR. {Side note- my PR from March of 1:42:34 and all of my 13.1’s thus far have either been half assed or by products of marathon training} I started training for a half marathon back in June after getting puppy brother, Zé. I wasn’t running much due to poor sleep, and felt miserable. So I put in the Hanson half plan into sport tracks to give some structure back to my life. I decided on 1:35 as a stretch and trained for it. As the months went on, I knew I was having some serious gains in fitness and decided to register for a race to see where I was at- that’s how I decided on Naperville- it fit into my plan perfectly, and I assumed it should have decent weather.


My plan going into race morning was to push my comfort zone and try to come as close to 1:35 as possible. I typically negative split longer races with ease and feel I could do more- so trying to sustain a harder pace early on and leave it all out on the course was a very different approach for me. In the back of my mind, I was prepared to fight hard and potentially positive split the shit out of this race. I wouldn’t know if I didn’t try.

The gun went off and I took off through the streets of Naperville. I looked down at my watch and saw I was around 7:20 and felt great. I decided to stay at a similar effort level for most of the race and then kick it in at the end if I had some gas left in the tank.


I kept knocking off 7:10-7:20’s despite the less than ideal conditions and felt great. The course has rolling hills and couple of more significant steep short hills to keep it interesting. There was also a headwind which followed us despite making 90 degree turns, go figure. I tried to draft off of the guys in front of me, but they were tall and skinny and didn’t block much of the wind for me.


Around mile 8 I started to feel like I had to work more to keep the pace I started with. I started playing my power songs on repeat and focused on getting to the next mile marker. I knew I was on pace for a massive PR and with bad math- that I would be close to 1:35. I couldn’t blow it all now.


I zoomed down the final hills into the finish area with the biggest smile on my face ever. I was shocked that I was about to clock a 7 minute PR- 32 seconds a mile faster than my last half. All of the training, all of the tweaks to my nutrition paid off big time. As I crossed the finish line, I let out a “F*ck YEAH” and started to cry. I high 5’d the other women who finished around me and we all congratulated each other- we had been leap frogging each other the entire race.


Damn. Nailing my goal in less than ideal conditions feels so satisfying. I found out post race I had placed 1st in my age group- the icing on the cake to an incredible day. I got a sweet glass trophy for the win.


House keeping:

•oatmeal and banana pre race

•SiS berry drink- carried until mile 11

•Berry SiS gel at the start

•Citrus SiS gel around mile 5, half of which spilled all over me.

•Berry SiS gel at mile 9

•First beer in 2 weeks at 18th Street Brewery post race.

•Got a dinner plate sized medal for finishing Fox Valley and Naperville. The “Valley and Ville” medal

The race was organized and well run. I’d definitely consider running it again. The volunteers were awesome.


I’m so happy with how this training cycle + race went. I’m even happier that I was able to push my comfort zone a lot. This is honestly the first race I feel 100% good about- there is literally nothing I would change about the training or the race.

What’s next?

Probably a 5k turkey trot to smash my 5k PR.

Boston 2018 and some other big goals


-Xaarlin

Monday, September 18, 2017

Fox Valley Half Marathon 2017 {Race Recap}

On Sunday, I ran the Fox Valley Half Marathon with KIM!!

This was my 3rd time participating in a Fox Valley race and first half marathon there. While running with Kim, I couldn't help but reflect on the 2 marathons I ran here previously, which had 2 completely vibes. In 2012 I had my breakthrough marathon race- taking 25 minutes off of my PR for a 3:40. Contrast that to 2013 and The Death March where I felt like shit for 10+ miles and narrowly missed a BQ by seconds.

We got to St Charles an hour before the race and met up with Kim. I also took pictures of everything and all things fox.


We got our obligatory start line photo -and hit up the seemingly endless line for the porta potty city. (It moved faster than I anticipated).


The weather was around 70 degrees at the start- going Into the race our only goal was to have fun and feel good.


We lined up behind the 2:30 pacer and enjoyed chatting the time away. Those smiles never left our faces the entire time!



After the national anthem, and multiple waves before us, we were off running through beautiful St Charles!


We chatted and chatted and chatted and had loads of fun.


The course is beautiful! (Just as I remembered it)


It was quite warm, but since we were in no rush to get done, we just took it easy and enjoyed every step.


We ran by the windmill- and I had to snap a photo.


The leaves were also turning - which made the course extra pretty.


At mile 12 some nice ladies were handing out mimosas. They hit the spot hard!


We cruised it in and finished in 2:26. We had so much fun together!


I really love the fox medal.


The boys also wanted to wear the fox medal. Zé was unsure of the whole thing but wanted to keep it on as a victory for dealing with CB, while CB commented how the medal was modeled after him.


Post race I was so incredibly thirsty. I drank 500ml of cola flavored SiS on the course which I brought with me plus multiple cups of water. I also took 4 salt caps during the race and a Science In Sport raspberry electrolyte mix around half way.

I had 3/4 of this giant can of chelada when I got home and 2 vitamin waters plus what seemed like a gallon of water and still felt omg so thirsty.


I enjoyed running the race with Kim so much and would definitely consider coming back to do the half again.

Fox Valley is very organized, volunteers are amazing and the course is beautiful and fast. 10/10 would run again!

What's Next?

I'm a month out from my goal race- the Naperville half marathon where I plan to smash my current PB.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Copenhagen Marathon 2017 {race recap}

What. A. Day.

I ran my 2nd BQ (3:35:21), 3rd fastest 26.2, and had a ton of fun running the streets of Copenhagen. {achievement unlocked}

I can't stop smiling when I think of race day.

I signed up for Copenhagen a few months prior to running Boston. I had wanted to run it on the past 2 visits, but never worked out. I was ecstatic that I was able to get the logistics sorted.


Pre race:

We went to the expo on Saturday. It was super chill and had loads of vendors and booths to check out. I found my name on the athlete wall. I also found alternatives to GU which I plan to pursue in the future.


I loved this shirt at the expo.


Night before I laid out my flat Xaar to make sure I had everything I needed for 26.2 in the morning. While it always makes for good Instagram content, the flat Xaar also is part of my race routine. From my professional clarinet playing days I learned that you can be the best, but If you couldn't replicate the product, you were worthless. Same principle applies to my running- routines make for replication of good performances.


We took the metro to Islands Brygge where the start of the race was. We also ran into fellow MRC'er Karina on the way.


Once out of the metro, we walked half a mile to the start area. Our bags were checked at a security point and then we were allowed into the athlete village.


We hung out for a bit and took photos before dropping our bags. Race logistics were A+ organized!


We also ran into the rest of the MRC folks who were running the marathon. It was so nice to see everyone again.


Going into race day I had low expectations for a time goal. I had come to Copenhagen for a beer festival, Ran a beer mile, had been eating some of the most delicious food ever, and had not been running much since Boston 5 weeks prior. Race week, I stopped drinking alcohol on Wednesday- save for a cocktail on Thursday at MRC. I ran 26 miles the week of the marathon- too many miles including 7+ on Thursday with GMP intervals at MRC and had walked around a ton on Friday at a gorgeous museum outside of CPH. Only goal: have fun. Secondary goal: feel good.


I lined up in the start corral in front of the 3:40 pacers. I figured I would be good for at least a 1:50 half, and would adjust expectations as I went on. Weather was on the warm side with a start in the upper 50's, and very few clouds in the sky. We took off and the course was pretty crowded- but was moving. I got into a groove and slipped behind the 3:40 pacers and ran with them for a few k before eventually pulling ahead because it was so crowded.


As we ran around Fælledparken I felt like I had to pee- the next portalets I got to were all occupied so I ducked into a perfect area full of bushes and was back on my way super fast. I caught back up to the pacers and got ahead of them again due to the crowding. We passed a "live zone" and we had to walk for a few seconds because the road was super narrow.

One interesting thing to note is you end up running one of the loops of the course twice. It was really strange to see the 31km and 4km markers and know that we would run the same streets again. Comforting for sure since we knew what to expect.


The course goes through the heart of Copenhagen- it is truly a city marathon. Spectators line most of the course- it's a huge city wide party. I saw my friend Jan (a badass Danish marathoner in the 80's) within the first 10k- so nice to see a familiar face cheering! I also found other MRC members running on the course and chatted a bit. I tossed my bottle of sports drink around 17k and was very concerned about getting enough fluids because the aid stations were about 2.5-3 km apart.


I hit the half in 1:49:16, and decided that attempting a BQ was on. I felt pretty good and figured why the hell not try. I also started walking through water stations around the half. The cups were plastic and difficult to run and drink out of at the same time. Walking the water stops worked great for me at Racine 70.3 for a 1:45 half so I was confident it would be ok for CPH.


At km 25 I found the Mikkeller Running Club cheer zone. As I ran through, I saw Henrik who handed me a beer. I high 5'd pikachu and took a few sips of the beer and then took off running again and high 5'd so many MRC friends.


I felt great. A few km later I ran through the NBRO cheer zone. It was insane. A guy from their club was a few feet behind me and I fed off of all the cheers for him. It was Tour De France style with his club members running along side him for 100m and someone taking videos and ended with a few blasts from a confetti canon. Insane.


I was having so much fun running the streets of one of my favorite cities. I saw another friend spectating after this point- i felt so good and pumped up.


Around km 30 my legs started to feel pretty heavy. I had to tell myself it was only 7.5 more miles to the finish- an hour left- you can do this. I put on my power songs which I had skipped until this point and started jamming out.

"Raise those hands, this is your party. We came here to live life like nobody was watching. I got my city right behind me, if I fall they got me." - Macklemore

With each step my legs got heavier and heavier. Returning to running after walking at the aid stations was getting more and more difficult. With 5k to go I knew I would be very close to 3:35. I couldn't blow it now. With 2km to go my legs felt like lead and I thought they were going to seize up with cramps. Each step took a tremendous amount of willpower and effort. I kept pushing and counted down the minutes until I was done. Just f*cking do it.


I crossed the finish and immediately got super emotional. (Starting to tear up as I type that) I stopped running and bent over to stretch and catch my breath- my legs were toast. Continued with the ugly cry-can't catch my breath-OMG legs are cramping- got my finisher's medal, and proceeded to hobble over to get my victory photo taken.


I negative split the second half by 3 minutes. 1:49:16 and 1:46:05 and qualified for Boston with a healthy 4:39 cushion. I was over the moon!


I ate a yogurt protein pouch and drank a bottle of water while I sat in the grass. My calf muscles were twitching and I was cooked. My hip flexors and hamstrings were in pain.


I ran into MRC'ers post race and we shared a non alcoholic post race beer together.

Josefine kicked major ass and got a 15 minute PB! I was so incredibly proud of her. Many others had PB days as well- it was a great day!


Post race I had pizza and beer with Josefine and her family- the perfect end to this amazing day.


It was a fabulous day of running through one of my favorite cities, seeing great people and having the time of my life. I look back now and realize I knew more people spectating/running in Copenhagen than I ever have at a race in the USA. After 3 visits to CPH, I'll give it the honorary title of my 2nd home. The people, the country are all amazing.


Housekeeping/Observations

•Oatmeal with honey 2.5 hours pre race.

•Salt tab 20 min pre race, then every 4ish miles

•Gu around every 4 miles total of 4

•Carried Vitamin Well sports drink with me until around 17km

•25% women in the field- I was running with men most of the time

•37% of the field was from outside Denmark

•The spectators didn't have many signs, But power zones had confetti canons, flame machines, they took spectating to 11.

•The live zones took photos of participants and instantly uploaded them to their profile in the app. Ive never seen this technology at a race before.


I give this race a 10/10 for course, organization, spectators and logistics.

It had 10,000 participants but didn't feel huge like Chicago or Boston- it had a nice smaller town race feel.

Would totally run it again.



What's next?

Nothing. For reals. I don't plan on any more races for a while due to some anticipated changes- for the better- in my life. Maybe a fall 5k or half. Nothing crazy.