Week 9 & 10 Workouts {Phoenix Half & Green Bay Marathon}

Now up: Training for the Green Bay Marathon in May!

I had a good race at the Phoenix Half Marathon (you can see my recap here), and followed it up with a solid training week as I shifted goals from 13.1 miles, to a full 26.2.

Sunday, February 23rd: Stretch + foam roll

Monday: 4 miles
Solid jaunt on the treadmill.

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: 4 miles
I can’t remember exactly why I skipped this workout, other than I was probably just being lazy…

Thursday: Rest

Friday: 2 miles
After a 4-hour flight, I arrived in Phoenix with my sisters. That afternoon, we went on a little shake-out run to loosen up for our big race the next day.

We ran from our hotel…

tempe palms hotel

…to nearby Tempe Beach Park, which had a convenient running path along Tempe Town Lake.

running path along temp town lake

We enjoyed the views and the weather. It’s been so long since I’ve run in a t-shirt and shorts and actually felt the sun heating my skin. It was glorious, and made me itch for spring even more.

Saturday: 13.1 miles, Phoenix Half Marathon! 2:17:38 (10:30/mile pace)
phoenix half marathon medal
Felt strong and ran my last four miles progressively faster, with the last mile the fastest of all. Overall I was happy with my race and my time. This was no PR for me (I think a 2:08 is my best) but considering I haven’t been doing any speedwork, a 2:17 is pretty decent in my book.

Sunday, March 2nd: Rest
My “rest” day included hiking this beast, the “Tempe Butte” (aka “A Mountain”) in Tempe.

tempe butte, also known as A Mountain

Doesn’t stack up to the other hiking mountains around Phoenix, but we still felt the burn walking up this guy.

tempe butte

Monday: 3 miles easy
It was our last day in Arizona, and the weather was so refreshing (sunny + 60-something degrees) that we had to get one more run in. After all, we were heading back to single digit temps and snow. We went for another jog along the Tempe Lake path, this time crossing a footbridge and exploring the other side of the lake.

running in tempe, phoenix, arizona.

[thanks to my sister for the Instagram]

I wasn’t sure that a jog so soon after my half was wise, but I actually felt really strong and wasn’t sore at all. Success!

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: 4 miles 2 miles
Back in the arctic tundra in Wisconsin, I reacquainted myself with my treadmill. Five minutes into the run, my left knee started bothering me a bit. I hopped off and foam rolled/stretched for a few minutes. I got back on the ‘mill and the naggy pain was gone, so I think my IT band was just tight since I hadn’t rolled in a week (I normally do it at least every other day). I didn’t want to push my luck, though, so I hopped off after 2 miles and just stretched/foam rolled some more.

Thursday: 6 miles
I got outside for this run, thankfully. I felt strong and actually had to keep slowing myself down, as I was pushing close to a 10-minute pace, which isn’t my “easy” pace at all!

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 14 miles
The temps were in the 20s for this long run, which hasn’t happened in a long while—heat wave! The wind was pretty severe, but I could still feel all of my limbs and exposed skin, so I count that as a win.

I felt really tight during most of this run.  My running partners did too, so we stopped every couple of miles to stretch, which helped us get through it. We hit a few treacherously icy stretches of road, which makes you run differently… I noticed after one particularly long bout on the ice, my hip flexors were super tight. I finished the run fine, but at the end I couldn’t have pushed it any faster, my legs just wouldn’t loosen up.

I was pretty tight and sore, especially my hips and knees, after this run. Even two days later now, my knees are feeling a little tender. I have a tendency to over-analyze pain due to all of my hip/knee related injuries in the past, so I’m trying not to freak myself out. 🙂 I’ve been foam rolling and icing my knees just in case. I’m also taking today off instead of tomorrow. (I was going to cross train, but I’m actually feeling kind of sick. Bleh.)

On a fun note, during the long run, my friend June found a $20 bill half-frozen into the ice on the side of the road.

030914-money-in-ice

We used a car key to chip it out, and then June bought us coffee with it after we finished the run. The bill was totally soaked and dirty, and I wish I would’ve gotten the poor cashier’s face when she pulled the bill out to pay. Hahah!

– – –

This week’s workouts:
Sunday: Yoga + foam roll
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: 6 miles
Thursday: 4 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 15 miles (eep, starting to get up there!)

Depending how my knees feel, I might replace some mileage with cross training.

– – –

Do you overanalyze your aches and pains?
What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever found while out on a run/bike ride/walk?

The funniest thing I ever found while on a run was discovered during a high school cross country practice… We were running around some trails and found a “road closed” sign in a huge ditch near the woods. Thinking it’d be funny to use it as a prank somehow, my younger sister and I got the sign after practice and took it home. When my mom saw it, she totally freaked out on us because apparently taking road signs is illegal. Oooops! I mean, it was in the ditch, not even on the road… If that was the worst thing I did in high school, my mom is lucky. 😉

Phoenix Half Marathon Recap

The trash bag flapped around me in the wind as I squinted my eyes to see through the dark. Where was the starting line? Not too far away, I could hear the reverberating voice over the loudspeaker—we must be close! Suddenly, my sisters and I turned the corner of a low, concrete building and were greeted by a crowded mass of runners huddled around heat lamps.

Welcome to 60 degrees in Arizona at 5:30 in the morning! We entered the throng of runners, ready to race the Phoenix Half Marathon this past Saturday, March 1st.

My sisters and I, coming from much cooler climates, had to chuckle a bit about the huddled runners. Coming from the sub-zero long runs in Wisconsin, the balmy 60 degrees felt amazing—even the threat of rain during the race didn’t scare me. In fact, I thought it might help me; I was afraid 60 degrees would feel too warm!

The garbage bag “dresses” we wore proved useful.

garbage bags before a rainy race

The slight wind and misty weather turned out to be a little chilly after standing outside for 15 minutes. Even we were glad for the heating lamps that we, and all the others, corralled around as we waiting to line up for the start of the race.

It wasn’t long before the Star Spangled Banner was being sung; beautiful voices echoed over us all, and a spark of excitement ran through us all as fireworks went off. What a way to get the adrenaline going!

phoenix half marathon fireworks before start

We headed for the start line. At 6:28am, the rain started falling. At 6:30 on the dot, the starting gun went off.

waiting in line to start running the phoenix half marathon

Five minutes into the rainy run, I clenched and unclenched my chilly fingers and wondered how quickly they would warm up with the rain. But just five minutes later, the rain had stopped and was replaced with an intermittent mist. It hadn’t rained in 80 days or so in Arizona, and although we had a few showers during our half marathon, it turned out not to be the water-logged run we all expected.

We ran down residential streets, somewhat tightly packed. I got stuck behind some slower runners and walkers a handful of times. Frustrating, but easy enough to quickly find a spot to slide around. I took in the humble homes; the desert landscaping right with cacti and stones; the groves of lemon and orange trees, which completely but happily surprised me. The birds chirped as the sun came up and lit our way.

I focused on how I felt—good, strong—and tried to stick to a consistent 10:30 pace. I went up and down but stayed somewhat close—good enough. Water and Gatorade stations popped up about every two miles, and I made sure to hit up most of them. Vaseline, kindly offered by a volunteer around mile 3, saved my arm from being chafed to death. {How did I forget this tank top always did that?}

Clif gel shots, licorice, bananas and oranges were all offered along the way by smiling volunteers. I grabbed a Clif shot to try on a different run, but gobbled down my trusty Shot Blox gummies as needed. I was amazed at how well the runners were supported, and thanked the volunteers and numerous policemen (and the few cheering fans who braved the cruddy weather) when I could spare the smile and breath.

Soon, I was nearing the 10-mile marker. I felt great still, and decided to kick it up a notch. I had been sticking close to my 10:30 minutes per mile goal, but I wondered how much further I could take it. I hadn’t been planning to race this half marathon or try for a goal time, but that itch surfaced and the push began.

Mile 10: 10:34
Mile 11: 10:17
Mile 12: 10:06

This was it. The end was getting close, and I stared out at the mountains in the distance. Glad to finally glimpse some Arizona scenery, I spared the seconds to slow down and capture the moment.

scenic view during the end of the phoenix half marathon

But not for long. I opened up my stride and continued the downward descent to the finish line.

Mile 13: 9:05

I sprinted past people left, right, dodging around like a little kid running around his parents’ legs. I smiled huge, feeling so strong and fast, hearing my older sister cheering for me—“Go Mandy!”—as I stared down the fast-approaching finish line.

Then a man’s voice behind me:
“Runners, move to your left! Make room for the first marathon finisher!”

I glanced back to my right to see a male swiftly approaching at the end of his 26.2-mile run. I sailed over the finish line at nearly the same moment as him, and grinned to myself.

smiling at the finish line

At least when I got home, I could tell everyone I had tied with the winner of the Phoenix Marathon.

Final half marathon time:
2:17:38 (10:30 pace, on the dot)

phoenix half marathon medal

Tips for Running in the Rain

I’ve been keeping a close eye on the weather for the Phoenix Half Marathon on Saturday morning. They’ve been predicting rain, and I keep waiting for that to magically go away—but just a few days out now, there’s a pretty good chance we’ll be slogging through 13 miles in the rain.

Which led me to start seriously thinking: What do you wear for a race in the rain?

Here are some tips I’ve collected (from my gracious, knowledgeable running club friends) on how to prepare for and run in the rain. I hope they help you, whether you’re running the race this weekend, or face a rainy run in the future!

tips for running in the rain

Before you start:

  • Mentally prepare yourself: You will be running in the rain, and you will get wet.
  • Pack dry clothes to change in to immediately after the race, so you aren’t freezing post-run.
  • If you prefer to run with music on an iPod, your phone, or other electronic device, find a way to waterproof it. Sandwich baggies, plastic wrap, whatever you can MacGyver up. If you can forego your tunes, do so—that’s one less thing to worry about on race day.
  • Use a poncho, or even just a large (clean) garbage bag, to keep you warm and dry while you wait for the race to start.

During the race/run:

  • Wear a hat. The brim will keep the water from streaming down your face and into your eyes.
  • Wear moisture-wicking clothes. Yeah, there will be too much moisture to wick away, but it won’t hold on to it and weigh you down like other materials. Plus, it will help keep some chafing away.
  • Use Vaseline/Body Glide on likely chafing spots: Legs, arm pits, bra straps, etc.
  • Don’t forego your water stops. Just because you’ll be soaked, doesn’t mean you don’t need to stay hydrated!
  • Embrace it! We don’t often go out running in the rain. Enjoy the feeling; pretend you’re a kid out running around in the puddles again.

After the race:

  • Change into your dry clothes that you so thoughtfully packed up before the race. Hopefully this includes some dry socks & shoes.
  • Refuel yourself with something to drink—again, that’s not just rainwater you’re soaked in, it’s surely sweat, too.
  • Celebrate! You made it to the rainbow… That finish line! 😉

Any tips to add?
Please comment & share!

The Countdown Is ON

In t-minus three days, I will be having a sleepover with my older sister and her new dog (!!), then waking up ridiculously early to head to the airport. After a few short hours up in the air, we’ll be reunited with our long-lost little sister in Phoenix, Arizona…in the SUN and WARM air and happiness!

Can you tell I’m excited?

My blog posts have been lacking {or just, MIA} lately, mostly due to a crazier-than-usual work schedule and actually staying on top of my workouts despite that. Which leaves no real extra time for this little hobby o’ mine. At least the craziness of the last few weeks will make this little run-cation all the more sweeter! I can’t wait to let you all know how the Phoenix Half Marathon goes (first race of the year for me), and fill you in on the other fun parts of the trip: Sweet hotel, pool time, drinkies, lots of good eats, baseball? and who knows what else.

last year's runcation, celebratory drinks

last year’s runcation, celebratory drinks

Actually, who knows what else? Really? We have all been so busy we haven’t planned…ANYTHING…beyond our race. I guess we’ll play it by ear once we get there.

In the meantime, while I daydream and drool over the thought of running in a t-shirt and not freezing my arse off, I am passing the time in the following ways:

• Obsessively googling bridesmaids dress options. I think I have it figured out…
• Equally obsessively tracking my bridal shoes’ arrival date (helloooo, beautifuls)
Badgley Mischka Randall wedding shoes in mint blue
• Agonizing over our ‘final’ wedding guest list. Seriously, this is the toughest part! We want everyone to be there…
• Watching DVDs of the West Wing to distract me from above wedding things.
• Tromping along on my new (to me) treadmill at home!
• Chugging down protein shakes, eating tuna sandwiches, and sleeping.

My legs and body have been getting sore more than usual in the last few weeks, and I’m not sure why. The fact I’m on a diet—maybe I’m not getting enough protein? Not enough sleep? Pushing myself too hard? I’m betting on the protein/sleep combo. For now.

P.S. Is it pathetic that my right arm and left buttocks are super sore from bowling on Saturday? ‘Cause I kinda think it is. But I ran a marathon last year, so it’s cool. Right?

– – –

What should we do in Phoenix, Arizona? Where should we eat & drink?
What’s making me so sore lately—need more cowbell protein?

Week 7 & 8 Workouts {Phoenix Half & Green Bay Marathon}

Life these days: Work, eat, run, eat, work, sleep. Repeat.

I’ve had lots of long hours at my desk lately {fulfilling, but draining}. In the past, long hours on the job meant I skipped my workouts and spent that free time vegging to rest my brain. This time, I finally managed to break for a run—even when I felt like “I just don’t have time”—because I knew the mental break would be invigorating. And it was. I’ll try to remember that in the future, when stressful projects & precious free time collide again.

Here’s a recap of the past two weeks’ workouts, leading up to my half marathon in Phoenix, Arizona a short week away. (Ohh, so excited!)

011014-finish-line

– – – – – WEEK 7 – – – – – 

Sunday, February 9th: Stretch + foam roll

Monday: 3.5 miles 3 miles + 10 minutes bike
I got to 3 miles on the treadmill and boredom struck hard, so I bopped to the bike for the rest of my workout.

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: 3.5 miles
Another easy treadmill run.

Thursday: 6 miles 5.5 miles
First run on my new treadmill! Even though I complain about the ‘mill all the time, when my friend put hers up for sale for $150, Matt sprung to get it for me so I could have a treadmill at home. Woo! What a great fiancé.

It’s so nice to be able to watch my own TV shows, play my music without headphones, and work out at home whenever I want. Even with all those perks, getting to 5.5 miles was still a struggle against boredom; an hour on the treadmill is a long time! It was a good workout, though. I played around with speed and incline to keep my mind busy and test the waters of my new toy treadmill.

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 11 miles
What a fantastic run! It was really cold yet again—barely above zero, I think. Meeting up to run with four other ladies (including a new running club member) sure helped make the miles fly by, though. This run was a major win with NO SNOW on the roads. I forgot how much easier it is to run when there aren’t a couple inches of snow mucking up your footing.

With that, my longest pre-half marathon run is complete!

– – – – – WEEK 8 – – – – – 

Sunday, February 16th: Stretch + foam roll
Hi, major knot in my left IT band. Meet my little friend, the foam roller. Ouch.

Monday: Rest
Switched my usual rest day to Monday, so I could work some extra hours in the evening.

Tuesday: 4 miles (10:52/mile)
AH! It was 44 degrees outside and it felt like heaven. Ha.

I met up with a handful of my running buds for a post-work run (one of those “I don’t think I have time, but I need to do this for me” runs). It felt glorious to actually be a little too warm with all our layers on. My face didn’t feel like it was going to fall off. I could actually feel all of my limbs. It was a nice run.

Wednesday: 4 miles 3 miles (10:33/mile)
Working at home ‘til 11pm Tuesday + getting up at 5:30am to get s* done in the morning = I felt like a zombie when I got home Wednesday evening. Despite that, I craved a little run to clear my mind. It was still 40 degrees out (heat wave!) and I knew if I didn’t go for a run, I’d sprint to a glass of wine instead. Glad I opted for the healthier alternative.

Taking a moment to breathe & enjoy the view on a dusk run.

Taking a moment to breathe & enjoy the view on a dusk run.

Thursday: 6 miles Rest
The late nights, early mornings and stress finally caught up to me, I guess. When I got home, I was kind of exhausted and drained of all motivation. I spent a relaxing, low-key night on the couch with DVDs of “The West Wing,” and Matt, instead.

And maybe some wine.

Friday: Rest
My “real” rest day. I was still pretty tapped out from the week—I seriously wanted to go to bed at 7pm. Yawn.

Saturday: 8 miles 7 miles
My step-back “long” run before the Phoenix Half Marathon. YAY, I can’t wait! Sunny weather, warm temps, and my sisters. I’m already daydreaming about landing there on Friday.

This run was good, because I got to meet yet another new member of our running club, and we enjoyed a relaxed run. On the not-so-good part, my stomach started feeling funky around mile 3, so the last two miles were pretty stop-and-go as I had to walk a lot. I cut the run a mile short because of that, but I’m not worried about a lost mile.

Note to self: Mexican food the night before a long run? Never again.

– – –

This week’s workouts:
Sunday: Yoga + foam roll
Monday: 4 miles
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: 4 miles
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 2 miles (shakeout run)
Saturday: 13.1 miles, Phoenix Half Marathon!

– – –

Do you squeeze in workouts, even when life pummels hectic curveballs your way?

Are you looking forward to any races on your schedule? 

Week 6 Workouts {Phoenix Half & Green Bay Marathon}

This week’s workouts were a bit less structured than normal. I’ve been without my car all week, and I’ve realized that being forced out of your normal routine makes it a bit harder to stick to workout plans. But all in all, I feel okay about this week’s training.

Sunday
Yoga
Only did about 15 minutes of yoga moves & stretches, but still a nice way to loosen up.

Monday
3.5 miles 2.25 miles hard

Matt picked me up from work and then dropped me at the gym while he ran into the grocery store. He had to be somewhere, so I only had about 25 minutes to work out. I ran 5 minutes easy to warm up, then ran the rest of my 20 minutes as hard as I could. Better than nothing!

Tuesday
Rest

Wednesday
3 miles Circuit workout

Again, I had to be chauffeured from work with no time for the gym, so I made myself a circuit workout to do at home. I used the jump rope for cardio & did a lot of strength exercises in 30 minutes. I was sore for the next couple of days, so I think it was def a good workout!

You can try my Whole Body Circuit Workout for yourself & let me know what you think!

Thursday
5.5 miles DNR

I don’t know if I was just thrown off from the whole week being wacky, but I was NOT feeling this run Thursday. I was tired, cranky, super sore, and my stomach hurt. I’m usually pretty good at holding myself accountable, but not this time.

Friday
Rest

I thought about getting up in the morning to squeak in a few miles to make up for Thursday’s skipped run, but I was SO tired and sore still, so I decided that maybe this week I just need some extra rest.

Saturday
10 miles (11:32/mile)
After the last two weeks’ long runs being terrible, I have to admit I wasn’t excited to run this 10-miler. I was quite dismayed when I woke up and it was SNOWING again. But hey, the wind chill was 1 degree above zero, at least.

Thankfully, things turned out positive. When we started our run, my calves and legs were still sore, tight and heavy; it took a few miles for them to loosen up and feel okay, but they eventually did. The snow that was falling really only dusted the roads (nowhere near the trudging-through-3-inches-of-snow craptastic run of last week). Our traction was solid, so we weren’t slipping around at all.

Plus, the snow gave me sweet frozen eyelashes and eyebrows.

020914-frozen-eyelashes

Since this run hit double-digits, I made sure to wear my water belt and brought two small bottles with me. They were starting to freeze by the end of the run, though. Ha! I also had some energy chews, but I left them in my car on accident. I didn’t seem to need them this time, but I don’t want to take that chance next week.

I saw this article on Runner’s World yesterday: “How to Keep Fuel From Freezing in Winter.” Hopefully, some of those tricks will help me on my long run next week.

Today, I’m pretty sore (my calves are KILLing me), so yoga will be quite welcomed later. I’m foam rolling, stretching and drinking lots of water. Here’s hoping this fatigue & soreness that’s lingered all week in my legs will go away soon.

– – –

This week’s workouts:
Sunday: Yoga
Monday: 3.5 miles easy
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 5-6 miles easy
Thursday: 3.5 miles (hard, if legs feel better)
Friday: rest
Saturday: 11 miles

– – –

How do you deal when your workout schedule gets interrupted?
Any tips on stretching calves, or helping sore muscles recover faster? 

Week 4 Workouts {Phoenix Half & Green Bay Marathon}

How to sum up this week? A couple good runs, a guilt-ridden but necessary skipped run, and an extra-hard long run to round ‘em all up. Read on.

Monday
Rest

Tuesday
3 mile run
Treadmill time. Ran 3 miles on it, climb-up & back down in speed, 5.5mph to 6.5mph.

Wednesday
3 mile run
Treadmill again. Tried a pre-programmed activity of “rolling hills,” which I expected to mean incline changes, but just jumped me back & forth between 5.5mph and 6mph. Felt strong; good workout.

Thursday
5 mile run DNR
My neck had been hurting me since last Saturday, giving me irritating headaches and pain that ran up and down my neck into my shoulder. Super awesome, let me tell ya. I was feeling out of it, as haven’t been sleeping great, and my neck was still bothering me, so I skipped the run. (Excuses, excuses.)

I tried to make up for it {at least a little] by doing lots of core/hip/leg work while watching TV in the evening.

Friday
Rest
I felt a little guilty for skipping Thursday’s run, until the afternoon when I realized my neck had NOT been hurting anymore! Finally. Taking the day off had actually helped, so I was glad I made that decision after all.

Saturday
8 mile run (8.02mi/11:27 pace)
Ohh, this run. Let me start out with: I am so glad I finished it, as it was yet another lesson in perseverance, and I won’t fall behind on my weekly long runs before my half marathon. I’m grateful to my friend June for running with me; she really pulled me through, even though she probably didn’t realize I was having such a tough time.

But man, this 8 miles was rough. First of all, we had winds at 25mph, gusting up to 40mph. It was 23 degrees when we started, with a “feels like” of 2 degrees. TWO. And the temps actually dropped after that, to below zero. So that was swell.

On top of that, it had snowed several inches overnight, so the roads were mostly not cleared—which meant we were running on a sand-like consistency most of the time. Two miles in, I could tell this would be a hard run, but I tried to push those thoughts out of my mind and just enjoy the fact that I was outside running, and not on a treadmill.

By the time 5 miles had passed, I was plugged into my headphones trying to tune everything out. Running on snow not only makes your legs tired, but it wears on your hips, calves (so sore today!), lower back, core… It’s like a full-body workout. Despite the cold, I was sweating under all my layers, and I was thirsty. Luckily, I had some cash in my pocket, so when we passed by a mini mart, I ducked inside for a bottle of water. That seemed to help a bit.

We kept trudging through the snow back to our starting point, but we were only at 7 miles total, due to a shortcut we had taken on a non-snow covered road on the way back. I was so ready to just be DONE, but June said, “I guess we’ll just run another half mile out and back, right?” Right you are… So we kept going, and got the 8 miles done.

Coffee afterwards never tasted so good. The warmth! We then stopped by the indoor farmer’s market, and everyone was pawning us samples. We must have looked hungry. I picked up some homemade veggie burgers and raspberry jam, and headed home, content, tired, and proud. Nap time.

– – –

Here’s what’s on tap for this week:

Sunday: yoga
Monday: 3 miles easy
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 3 miles tempo
Thursday: 5 miles pace
Friday: rest
Saturday: 9 miles {please, God, better weather!}

– – –

How were your workouts & runs this week?
What do you do when you have an especially tough time, or want to quit?

I just try to remember my goal and how whatever I’m doing will help me to get there—and how it will hurt me if I quit. Setting yourself up for success by running with others always seems to help give that extra push, too.