Marathon Day is Almost Here

I’ve spent the last 18 weeks training for the Glass City Marathon in Toledo, Ohio and it’s almost time to wrap things up. I have a couple of rest days, two miles to run on Saturday, then Sunday is the big day. Today I read through some of my training log to reflect on all of the hard work I’ve put in and to help remind myself that I’m ready for this.

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As of today, I have run 685 miles over the last 18 weeks. The total will hit 687 miles the day before the race. I cut biking out of my routine for the most part, but still got 72 miles in. I maintained my swim routine and averaged around three miles per week, resulting in a total of 57 miles of swimming.

It’s been quite a ride. I ran 31 miles the first week of training and peaked with a couple of 55-mile weeks. Aside from adding a few additional rest days, I followed my plan very closely. Of course not every run was a great one, but I nailed all of my speed, strength, and marathon pace runs and feel like I had a really solid training segment. 

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It sure wasn’t easy training through this winter. Even now that it’s supposedly spring, we’ve still had plenty of winter-like conditions. An ice storm this past weekend sent me to the treadmill for my last longish run of eight miles.

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An icy, slushy mess

Looking back through my training log reminds me of how many snowy and cold runs I battled through. The extreme temperatures that were cold enough to freeze my water bottle were especially bad, as was my 16-miler when I trudged through the snow with little traction.

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It looks pretty and is fun for a little bit…but not for 16 miles

Fortunately, there have been a few hints of nicer weather for a day or two here and there. Although I’ve had a few sloppy runs through the mud on Paint Creek Trail, I’ve been able to get out there more regularly lately. It’s still a bit rutted and uneven, but it’s nice to have an unpaved, flat surface where I can mostly avoid the traffic.

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Running a pretty solid half in the Columbus area was one highlight of training. I also enjoyed finally getting out to Kensington Metropark for a few runs, especially since I had the company of my new running buddy Kurt.

Of course things went fairly smoothly for most of my training, then I worried that everything would fall apart in the last couple weeks. My left leg has been stiff for the last month and sometimes it locks up for random steps while walking around. That seems to be amplified on the treadmill. While my tolerance for the treadmill is usually pretty good, I’ve struggled with awkwardness on it this past month. I’ve tried to run outside as much as possible to get a more natural stride rather than being forced into it.

On top of that, one morning a couple weeks ago I woke up with pain on the top of my foot. It was eerily similar to what I felt when I had a stress fracture. I cut one run short when I felt some twinges of pain from that foot. I started to freak out and worried that I’d made it through 16 weeks of training and would have to bail on the race. I took a couple days off and luckily I seem to be fine. As that worry faded, a couple other little tweaky things popped up. Nothing has been serious though. I’ve been to my chiropractor a few times over the last couple weeks and he has magically found trouble spots I didn’t know I had.

Now that I’m a few days away from the race, I’m getting antsy. I’m still riding the high of Monday’s Boston Marathon results. I was SO excited to see local runner Des Linden get the big win that she’s worked so hard for.

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Matt and I with 2018 Boston Marathon champion (!) Des Linden. This picture is from the Richmond Marathon expo in 2015.

I’m always super inspired and motivated after watching big marathons on TV. The timing worked out this time around because I actually get to run one while the inspiration is still so fresh. It’s giving me an extra boost of excitement for this race.

With the exception of some of the nasty sub-zero winter days, or running 17 miles on the treadmill to avoid slipping on ice, I’ve really enjoyed the whole training process. There’s a sense of accomplishment that comes with each run. Maybe it’s even more empowering and meaningful when I remind myself that I’ve made it through despite some tough conditions. The training segment has been a great journey, and I hope that everything comes together on race day. So far the weather forecast shows that it will be cool and dry. The conditions look similar to what we had when I ran the half marathon there in 2015, and that race still stands as my current PR. Hopefully I’ll come away from Toledo with a PR in the marathon distance too!

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz

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Sherman Lake YMCA AquaDash Recap

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On Sunday, March 25th, I participated in the AquaDash at the Sherman Lake YMCA in Augusta, MI. I have done the Shermanator triathlon there a couple times and really enjoyed it, so I knew I could count on this being another great event. When I first came across this race, it definitely stood out as one I wanted to do. It combined 20 minutes in the pool with 20 minutes on the treadmill. It would give me a little taste of multi-sport action a few months before it gets warm enough for tri season. It would also allow me to enjoy my two strengths in the triathlon while skipping my weakness – the bike. It fell during a “down” weekend for my marathon training, so I could get away with squeezing it into my schedule. Instead of running six miles on Saturday and 12 miles on Sunday as scheduled, I did my long run on Saturday and decided to call it good with whatever distance I’d run during the race on Sunday.

We had a nice visit with Matt’s family the day before the race and celebrated his dad’s birthday. We stayed with Matt’s parents and I only had a 10-minute drive to the Y in the morning. There were multiple waves and my start time was 8:45. I got there around 8:00, picked up my race shirt, then scoped out the pool and treadmill areas. The pool has a nice observation deck above it, so I sat there for a little bit and watched one of the earlier waves. People were doing different strokes and there was a variety of skill levels. I was especially impressed to see a younger girl. Several kids did the race and I think that’s awesome.

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Eventually I went to the locker room to get ready. I noticed that other women had laid their stuff out on the benches, so I did the same. Seeing as how our swim-to-run transition time was only five minutes, I didn’t want to waste any time fumbling with the combination on my locker.

I went out to the pool as the previous wave finished. They had big benches along the wall where I could leave my towel, and I gave a sheet to a volunteer who would count my laps. The pool had six lanes and my wave was full. One major perk that got me to sign up for this race was that each person had his or her own lane. Some races place two people in a lane and I would much rather have my own space.

When I saw that I had been assigned to the first lane, I was a little wary of being stuck by the wall. I was happy when I saw the lane though. It was actually wider than the middle lanes. Plus, the pool had really nice gutters so there was no splash-back. That’s a luxury I don’t have in my regular lap pool. My pool does not have gutters and it can seem like a wave pool at times, especially when swimming by the wall.

We had a few minutes to get in the pool to warm up once the other swimmers finished. I had just enough time to swim a lap and hear the pre-race instructions before it was time to start. It seemed like everyone blasted off much faster than I did, and I told myself that I just happened to be the slowest one in my wave. Something funny happened though. Within a few laps, at least half the people had switched from freestyle to breaststroke! Since I swam free the whole time, I started to catch up and pass some of the people. It didn’t really matter what everyone else was doing anyway since I had to swim my own race.

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Thanks to the AquaDash volunteers for sharing pictures!

One thing that threw me off was the water temperature. It was really warm. Within a couple laps I could feel my face burning. It felt nice when I got into the pool, but not as nice once I got moving. I’m not sure how accurately my watch measures the temperature, but it says that my gym’s pool is usually around 77 degrees and this pool was 84 degrees. It made me appreciate the cooler temperature of my normal pool, even if it’s a little cold when I first hop in.

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I don’t have much of a race mode when I swim, so I settled into my usual slow and steady rhythm. I’m used to swimming in a 25-meter pool, so the 25-yard pool made me adjust my rhythm slightly. Each length was only a couple strokes shorter for me. I knew that I should be able to swim a minimum of 45 lengths. I counted in my head as I swam and gave an extra push once I hit 35 lengths or so. That extra “push” meant maybe a second faster per length. I may have picked up the pace by a couple seconds for the last couple laps. Since I couldn’t hear any of the time warnings they yelled out, I snuck a glance at my watch a couple times. I saw 19:13 after pushing off the wall when I had completed 44 lengths, and I hoped I could squeeze two more in. I stopped when I came back to the wall and saw that I had three seconds left. Perfect! I waited for time to run out and got out of the pool. I was thankful that I wasn’t at the other end of the pool when the time expired. With only five minutes to transition to the run, I didn’t want to waste a minute.

The volunteer who logged my laps must have miscounted because my sheet said I swam 48 lengths and I counted 46. It was entirely possible that I could have counted wrong, so I didn’t question it at the time. When I looked at my watch’s splits the next day, it confirmed that I had done 46 lengths. I didn’t get too hung up on it though. When I saw the final results, I knew the 50 extra yards wouldn’t have affected my placing one way or the other.

When I got into the locker room, I dried off quickly, threw a t-shirt and tri shorts on over my swimsuit, got my socks and shoes on, then struggled to get my pool-soaked ponytail through the hole of my hat. I grabbed my iPod and water bottle and headed to the treadmill. I think they were a little lenient about the 5-minute transition because they seemed to wait an extra minute until we were all ready.

When it was time to start, I was frustrated that I had to crank the speed up from zero. I’m used to treadmills that give a few quick-start options, so I’ll typically start at a 10:00 pace and speed up from there. If there were any quick-start options on these treadmills, I didn’t know it. It was a long, slow drag getting up to speed. I was anxious to kick it right into gear! Eventually I made it to 6:58 pace and held that for about 13 minutes. Although I could feel that I was working really hard, I think I needed a mental break from the speed more than a physical one. I slowed down to the 8:20s for a minute, then decided I was ready to speed up again.

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It was all good until I managed to completely blow it by accidentally hitting the emergency stop button. The treadmill had a tray area where I had set a towel. I wiped my hands on it and the emergency stop was at the edge where my towel was sitting. It only required a slight nudge down to set it off. That cleared my time, distance…everything. A volunteer came by and I explained what had happened. I told her I’d just have to use the info from my watch. I had to crank the speed up from zero again, which took forever. I only had a couple minutes left, so I went as fast as 6:40 at that point. Soon enough, the 20 minutes were up.

Of course I was annoyed that I’d been such a klutz, but there was nothing I could do to fix it. I was thankful that at least I had my watch. I don’t always trust its accuracy on the treadmill, but I think it was somewhat on track during this race based on when the alerts went off for the first two miles. It claimed that I had run 2.74 miles, so the volunteer wrote that down on my sheet. I thought I’d been capable of peaking around 2.9 miles, so it was probably pretty accurate when you factor in my two slow ramp-ups from zero.

There was a pancake breakfast afterward, so I enjoyed some pancakes and a bowl of fruit when I was done. I saw that I was the top female so far, but some people were still racing. I had about an hour to kill between the end of my race and the end of the last wave. With only 31 participants, I figured I should stick around for the results.

Distances for the swim and run were combined and counted as a total distance in yards. Between 48 lengths and 2.74 miles, my total was 6,022.40 yards. That was good enough for me to place as the second woman overall. The fastest woman was in the final wave and swam 61 lengths and ran 2.85 miles (6,541 yards). As much as I wish I had won the top prize (a free entry to the Shermanator triathlon in August), I didn’t stand a chance against her! At least my mishap on the treadmill didn’t cost me anything. I placed first in my age group and received this award:

 

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It’s too bad I can’t really put it to use since I’m not from the area. All participants received a 10% discount on the Shermanator, so at least I can use that since I plan on doing the race again.

I really enjoyed this race and it was nice to put both my swim and run training to use. August was my last triathlon and I probably won’t do another until June, so I was happy to do some kind of multi-sport event in the meantime. I performed pretty much along the lines of what I expected from myself, aside from the part where I totally screwed up on the treadmill. It’s not the first time I’ve screwed up during a race and it probably won’t be the last. I guess now I have another thing to add to my growing list of race mistakes to learn from! Hopefully I’ll do this race again next year and try to redeem myself.

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz

A Month Until the Glass City Marathon

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Sunrise at Stony Creek Metropark

I’m approaching the end of my 14th week of training for the Glass City Marathon in Toledo and have about a month to go until race day. Things are going well, although tweaks, stiffness, and little pains have become more common. That’s one of many fun parts of marathon training. Nothing has been too serious or lasted more than a couple of days though.

This is the fourth marathon that I’ve trained for, and one thing I don’t remember experiencing before is night sweats. One week when my mileage had increased quite a bit, I woke up a couple nights in a row covered in sweat. A few days later I happened to come across an article about weird things that happen to your body when you run a lot, and night sweats was one of them. Pretty interesting! Luckily as your body adjusts to the training, that stops.

Aside from that, things have been pretty typical. I eat all the time, so I haven’t really been crazy hungry. I don’t think I’ve given myself a chance to get hungry since I’m always snacking on something. I’ve only gotten really thirsty a few times, and I think it has usually happened the day after a really long run when I didn’t rehydrate enough.

One tricky part of marathon training is trying to determine when I should run through the aches and pains and when I should take some time off. It’s important to become accustomed to running on tired legs. At the same time, I need to make sure that I’m not pushing through something that could leave me injured. I’ve only taken an extra rest day once in recent weeks. My legs weren’t just tired – my shins were sore and one ankle/shin felt tweaked and locked up. It wasn’t worth the risk, so I skipped a short run on an easy day. I’ve also had knee pain related to my IT band a couple times. It first popped up at the end of a 19-mile long run. It came back the next day a couple miles into my easy recovery run. It was bad enough to shut down the rest of the run. Since then, I’ve been extra diligent about doing hip/glute exercises, foam rolling, stretching, etc. and have managed to keep it at bay.

Getting off of the pavement is one way I try to avoid beating myself up too much. I keep the treadmill in the mix quite a bit. I’ve gotten out to the track a few times recently as well. The softer surface sure is nice, and I seem to hit faster paces more easily on the track.

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A warm & beautiful day on the track

 

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A not-so-warm or beautiful day on the track

I love running on our local rail-to-trails as often as I can, but they’re not ideal during the winter. They’re pretty sloppy this time of year. Once most of the snow had melted, I thought I’d give it a try. I found that the surface was all across the spectrum – totally dry and clear in some spots, damp and muddy in some spots, and patches of snow and ice in other spots. In those conditions, I usually only ventured out on easy days when I was willing to splash through mud. Luckily, the conditions have improved recently and I’ve been able to get out there more often.
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Paint Creek Trail is nice and clear for this stretch

 

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What most of Paint Creek Trail looks like throughout the winter…and why I stay away

I realized Macomb Orchard Trail (which is paved) is a good spot for some flat and fast miles when the unpaved trails are too sloppy. I’ve done nine and 10-mile marathon pace runs there in recent weeks. I still need to work on slowing down so I hit my actual goal marathon pace. It feels good to get through the runs a little faster than planned, but at the same time, running each mile a few seconds too fast will add up over 26 miles. I don’t want it to come back to bite me in the late miles of the race.
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Macomb Orchard Trail

 

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Macomb Orchard Trail

I’ve been able to hit my goal paces successfully for every workout, whether it’s been the marathon pace runs, speed work, or strength work. That assures me that I’m aiming for the right goal!

My long runs have gone well for the most part. Week #10 I ran 19 miles, and weeks #11 and #13 I ran 20 miles. The 19-mile run was not great. The wind was a steady 20 mph with gusts that were stronger, I chose a hilly route, and my IT band got angry by the end. On top of that, I had bad stomach/bloating pain that got worse throughout the run. As if running 19 miles isn’t hard enough when I feel normal! I made it through with a decent average pace, but it was a pretty miserable run.

Fortunately, my 20-mile runs were much better. Most of that was thanks to the company of my new running buddy, Kurt. I actually met Kurt thanks to Instagram. I found him because he had mentioned the Glass City Marathon. I saw that some of his paces were similar to mine, although he’s really a bit faster than me. He also seemed to have similar workouts. He sent me a message one week asking if I’d want to run our first 20-miler at Kensington Metropark. I’d already been thinking about going to Kensington, so it worked out perfectly. I’d never run there before and the change in scenery would be helpful. I run solo the majority of the time, so it was really nice to change things up and have some company. The miles went by quickly with someone to talk to, and it’s nice to have someone to keep you going during the rough stretches that can come and go during a long run. Because our first 20-miler went so well, we ran our second one together as well. Kensington is a beautiful park, but it sure is challenging. I thought Stony had some good rolling hills, but now I realize that Kensington’s got it beat! Hopefully Toledo’s relatively flat course will seem like a breeze after training on the hills. Next week will be my third and final 20-mile run, and hopefully Kurt and I do as well as we did the first two times.

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I’ve been very thankful for Kurt’s company for our 20-milers

This past week I remembered the concept of cumulative fatigue and learning to run on tired legs. With all of these miles adding up, even my easy days haven’t felt so easy. My shortest runs were five miles this week, and both Monday’s and Wednesday’s runs felt long and slow. They’re supposed to be slow, but I *really* felt it. Somehow my legs have still managed to pick up the pace on my faster days though.

Some new gear has kept training exciting. When I saw that I could get 30% off Garmin watches through work, I jumped at the chance to finally upgrade to the nice triathlon watch I’ve been eyeing. Now I can use one watch for both daily wear and all of my workouts. I also have heart rate info – something I’ve never had before. So far I haven’t used that information during runs, but it’s interesting to review afterward. Now that I’ve spent a week or two with the watch and have run a variety of paces, it seems like I’m hitting the proper heart rate zones. That’s reassuring.

With all of the miles I’ve been putting in, I realized I might need a new pair of shoes before the marathon. I just got my second pair of the Brooks Levitate and I’m looking forward to getting some runs in with these beauties!

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The Brooks Levitate will likely be my shoe of choice for the marathon

Aside from running a zillion miles, I’ve been keeping up with swimming three days a week and strength/weights once or twice a week. This weekend is a “down” week when it comes to mileage, so I’m going to squeeze a unique race into my schedule. It’s an Aqua Dash, which will involve 20 minutes of swimming in a pool then 20 minutes of running on the treadmill. I’m looking forward to getting a little taste of multi-sport action again, and having a chance to put my swim training to use.

I’m coming up on the home stretch now and just have to hang in there for one more month of training!

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz

Warm Up Columbus Half Marathon Recap

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There are two main reasons I ended up in Dublin, Ohio for the Warm Up Columbus Half Marathon on Sunday, February 18th. First, I was at the halfway point of training for the Glass City Marathon and Hal Higdon’s training plan calls for a half marathon race at that point. Second, there are very few half marathons around this area in the middle of February. The only half I found in Michigan was in Mt. Pleasant. That one sounds like a nice race, but a chunk of the course is on dirt roads. With all of the snow we’ve had lately, I worried that the dirt roads could be icy due to daytime thawing followed by nighttime refreezing. I came across the Columbus race when I searched for races in neighboring states. It would take 3.5-4 hours to drive there, which I considered doable. Higdon emphasizes that it’s not necessary to race a half on that specific day just because it’s on the schedule. I was curious to test my fitness level though, and hoped to turn it into a fun adventure.

I had never been to the Columbus area and didn’t know much about it. I know that it’s enemy country – home of THE Ohio State University. That meant I would NOT dare to wear any of my University of Michigan gear during the trip. Aside from that, I’d heard good things about the Columbus Zoo. Matt had to work and wasn’t available to go with me, but I was up for the solo adventure and a chance to take some fun photos.

I left home early on Saturday morning and got to the zoo before 11:00. Admission was half-off because half of the exhibits are closed during the winter. I knew to expect that, but it was still a bummer to walk past a bunch of empty exhibits. The zoo was not very busy and I’m sure the weather played a role. It was around 30°F but the real-feel was colder. I enjoyed the aquarium and reptile exhibits because I could warm up inside!

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One of the polar bears was pretty active, so that was a highlight for me. 

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After a couple hours, I was so cold that I reached a breaking point. I had gloves, but they weren’t thick enough and my hands were frozen. I had seen most of the open exhibits by then, so I’d had enough. I’ll have to visit the zoo again sometime when it’s warmer and all of the exhibits are open.

Early packet pickup took place at a Fleet Feet running store nearby, so I went there next. After I got my stuff, I went to see a waterfall a few minutes away from my hotel. I had checked TripAdvisor.com prior to my trip and it listed Indian Run Falls near the top of the list in Dublin, Ohio. It was beautiful! A short path through the woods takes you to various observation areas. I may have spent 20 minutes or so taking in the view from different vantage points. It had started to snow, and it made things look even more gorgeous.

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When I had almost reached my hotel, I got sidetracked when I saw a sign for an ice cream store. I hadn’t eaten much besides snacks all day so I was tempted. I had never heard of Graeter’s Ice Cream so I looked at Yelp in the parking lot before going in. It had great ratings, which was apparent when I saw the long line inside! They make their chocolate chips (more like chunks) in a special way and it tasted amazing. There are several locations around Columbus and one around Cleveland, so it will definitely be on my radar when I’m around either city in the future.

I settled at my hotel for a bit until I went out to pick up dinner. Noodles and Company is one of my standard pre-race meals and there was one close by. I spent the rest of the night relaxing while watching the Olympics.

I had chosen to stay at the host hotel which was located right by the start/finish line. There were a couple of other hotels along the street as well. Nothing beats the convenience of staying right by the starting line. We’ve done it for a few other races, and it’s always nice to have access to a real bathroom and head outside just minutes before the start of the race. I went out to my car 45 minutes early to make sure I was dressed appropriately. The snow from the night before hadn’t accumulated, but it left the roads wet. Since the temperature was around 30°F, there were a lot of slick spots. I had been debating if I could get away with shorts, but ultimately went with tights so I’d have a buffer in case I wiped out!

I went back outside 10 minutes before the start of the race and did a very short jog out on the road to test the surface. I didn’t even attempt to run in the parking lot because I slid around too much. The road wasn’t a whole lot better. There was a lack of traction in spots but I didn’t fall, so I hoped I wouldn’t during the race either.

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A unique thing about this race, which might be a deal-breaker for some, is that it involves multiple loops. One-mile loops. Around what is essentially an office park. That meant I would run the same course THIRTEEN times. I weighed the pros and cons prior to signing up. After I survived a 17-mile run on the treadmill the previous weekend, I figured I could surely handle one-mile loops.

The race offered 5K, 10K, half marathon, and full marathon distances. A half might seem crazy enough, but looping 26 times would really be a challenge. Because the course was exactly a mile, the 5K and half runners started 0.1 miles from the finish, and the 10K and full runners started 0.2 miles back. We started three minutes before they did, so that helped stagger things a little bit. 

After some announcements, I took off with the 5K and half runners at 8:00. I remembered to hit my lap button at 0.1 miles so the splits would line up.

Photo: Robb McCormick Photography - https://www.robbmccormick.com

Race photo courtesy of Robb McCormick and Cap City Sports Media

The route took us counterclockwise on one side of the road past my hotel, by some office buildings, behind Graeter’s and Max & Erma’s, and by more office buildings. The highlight of the “scenery” was probably a man-made lake between office buildings.

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The course was measured from the left edge of the road, so I tried to stay there as much as I could. Traction was a bit of an issue for me for at least 2-3 loops. Every now and then I’d run along the curb where it wasn’t slippery, but it was at an angle that was not ideal for extended periods of running. Eventually the road began to dry out as people kept running on it. It helped that the sun came out as well.

I knew that congestion would be a big factor during this race. With over 400 people running the same one-mile loop on one side of the road, there’s no avoiding it. Around 100 people each ran the 5K and 10K, so a lot of the people cleared out before the later miles of my race. The half had the most people – 186 finishers. It looks like 50 people were strong enough (crazy enough?!) to run the full. There was one water/Gatorade stop just after the finish line. Of course that was the busiest area, so I really had to pay attention and dodge people there. I had my own bottle of GU Brew so I didn’t make any stops. I think one thing that distracted me from the monotony of multiple loops was constantly dodging people – and allowing myself to be dodged as well. Everyone was in it together and it’s just how it worked, so I didn’t let it bother me…aside from the one time when someone came to a dead stop in front of me at the aid station. I tried to veer away from the aid station during the following loops. It wasn’t always possible to stick to the left side of the road, but I sure tried, even if it meant running by the curb now and then as I passed people.

There weren’t any stretches of the route that bothered me, so that also helped me tolerate the loops. I noticed the wind a little bit on one stretch, but it was pretty minor. Although my watch shows that there was some change in elevation, this course was pretty much as flat as could be. No hills to dread with each loop!

The most excitement along the course occurred by the finish line. Music was playing and plenty of people gathered there to cheer. The aid station was nice and loud as well. The rest of the course was pretty mellow. A few people were scattered along the rest of the route to support friends or family members.

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For the most part, I didn’t pay much attention to the scenery. I was there to work. I didn’t have a specific goal for the race, aside from wanting to run hard. I figured at a minimum I wanted to maintain my goal marathon pace of 8:00 miles, but of course I hoped for better. The main goal was to see what I had in me halfway through my marathon training. I didn’t watch my pace too closely and mostly ran by feel. I managed to stay pretty consistent. I counted the laps and hoped I’d have it in me to pick up the pace during the later laps. 

Photo: Robb McCormick Photography - https://www.robbmccormick.com

Me in “work” mode – photo courtesy of Robb McCormick and Cap City Sports Media

Somehow my pace sped up gradually. I still don’t know how that just happens…but I’m glad it does! Once I counted the 10th lap, I told myself that after that lap I only had two left. I figured with less than 5K left it was “go” time. I really picked up the pace for the last couple miles, giving it everything I had left for the last mile. I was pretty tired by then and struggled a bit with fatigue. Aside from making my nose run, the temperature had been fine for me. However, the faster I ran the more I noticed that it was hard to breathe in the cold air. I pushed through and had a solid finish.

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Approaching the finish – photo courtesy of Robb McCormick and Cap City Sports Media

I didn’t realize that results were based on the gun time. I started about seven seconds back from the line, so the official results and my Garmin differed slightly.

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I was really happy with my time. Although it wasn’t a PR, it was the fastest half I’ve run in three years. It tells me that I’m really on track with my training.

I had to take a few minutes to recover after crossing the finish line. The cold air and my fast finish weren’t a good combo, so I had to try not to hyperventilate or have a coughing fit. Eventually I was fine.

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Water, bananas, and granola bars were supplied at the finish line. Bagels, pizza, and warm drinks were available inside the convention center part of the hotel. The pizza was really good. A couple people were available to look up results, and age group awards were on a table. I wasn’t quite speedy enough for one of those.

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Since I was done before 10:00 and checkout was at noon, I had enough time to go back to my room and shower before starting the drive home.

This is obviously not a destination kind of race. The route is not scenic or especially exciting. The name “Warm Up Columbus” mostly refers to warming up for upcoming races like Boston, the Capital City Half Marathon in Columbus, or in my case, Glass City. This race is great in those terms. It was well-organized and I was really happy with my experience. I might not go out of my way to run it as a goal race, but it was a great way to experience the race environment and test my current level of fitness.

This race also helped me realize what I still need to work on prior to the marathon. For one thing, the tips of my toes ended up hurting by the end of the run. They were sore, but luckily I didn’t have any blisters. When I double the distance, it could get ugly. I will try different shoes for my upcoming long runs and see if one pair is more ideal than another for longer distances.

I also need to make sure I hydrate enough. I only drank about 10 oz. of my GU Brew during the race. Just like the shoes, it worked fine for a half, but I have to make sure I drink a lot more during a marathon.

Other than that, I think I’m on track. A race calculator predicts that I can run a 3:33 marathon based on this half marathon time. I’m training for a 3:30 marathon, so I’m pretty close. I need a 3:40 to BQ, meaning I probably need at least a 3:37 to actually get into Boston. Here’s hoping the second half of training continues to go well and all of the pieces fall into place on race day.

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz

Weeks 5-8 of Training for the Glass City Marathon

Another four weeks has gone by and my training continues for Toledo’s Glass City Marathon. Coping with the snow has me rethinking how smart it is to train for an early spring marathon! While the extreme cold temperatures were more of a problem the previous weeks of training, snow has been the latest issue. It requires so much extra effort to run even if there’s just a coating of snow. I run on the treadmill most of the week, so by the weekend I’m dying to get outside. When I get outside, it’s a difficult slog through the snow that makes me want to get back to the treadmill. Still, I’ve managed to train through it one way or another. Here’s how the last four weeks have gone:

Week #5

I spent a lot of time on the treadmill during the week, but I did get outside for an easy run on Wednesday. I followed up with 10 miles on the bike in the basement, but I don’t think that was the best idea. I’ve been taking Mondays or Wednesdays off of running as I’ve eased into six days of running, and this was the first week I hit six days. From this point on, I’ll probably neglect the bike until the marathon is done. I’ll maintain my swimming routine, but juggling the bike with six days of running is a bit much.

Saturday’s 7-mile run at Stony Creek Metropark was wonderful. It was 39 degrees and sunny! It’s amazing how much your mood can change when the sun is shining and the birds are singing.

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Stony Creek Metropark

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Stony Creek Metropark

Sunday is when I had 14 miles on my schedule and I ran 11 miles prior to Chill at the Mills 5K – recap here.

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Chill at the Mills 5K in Rochester, MI

Totals for week #5: 36 miles of running, 10 miles of biking, 3.5 miles of swimming, and two weights/strength sessions (45 minutes for one, 20 minutes for the other)

Week #6

I dropped back down to five days of running this week because I was busy one night, and it probably helped keep my legs fresh for my first big speed workout from the Hansons training plan. Their beginning marathon plan starts speed work the sixth week and I’ve chosen to incorporate their Tuesday workouts into my Higdon marathon plan. The first workout was 12x400m on the treadmill. I started the first three 400s at 10K pace and felt good, so I kept increasing my pace for each set of three until I finished the last set at 5K pace.

It was warm enough for shorts for my Saturday run! The weather has been all over the place this winter. I ran the 8-mile loop at Indian Springs Metropark, aiming to do seven of the miles at marathon pace. I was too fast by at least 10 seconds per mile. It might seem minor, but I really need to work on slowing down. If I run like that during the marathon, it’s bound to backfire in the late miles.

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Indian Springs Metropark

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Indian Springs Metropark

I had a cut-back week for my long run, so I was down to 10 miles on Sunday. It was in the 30s and most of the snow and ice had melted, so I decided to run from home while I could. I knew the snow would be back the next day and I wouldn’t be able to run around town again for a bit. It was a gorgeous day in Rochester.

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Totals for week #6: 34 miles of running, 3 miles of swimming, and two weights/strength sessions around 45 minutes each

Week #7

Back to six days of running this week. It’s been a year since I’ve run 40+ miles in a week and it went well. I nailed another Tuesday workout on the treadmill – 8x600m repeats. Again, I started around 10K pace and kept speeding up to hit 5K pace for the last couple 600s. I also opted for the treadmill on Saturday when I had eight miles to run at marathon pace. The cold was back (real-feel in the single digits) and I did NOT feel like dealing with it. I feel comfortable at marathon pace when I can dial it in on the treadmill and just roll. I know I have to get a feel for running it naturally outside though.

By Sunday I was anxious to get outside for my 16-mile long run. It was a tough one, to say the least. We got snow the night before and it continued through my run. The path at Stony Creek Metropark was not cleared when I got there. I wore my trail shoes hoping it would give me more traction, but any gaps between the lugs on the bottoms of my shoes filled in with snow right away.

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Stony Creek Metropark

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Stony Creek Metropark

One cool thing about this run was that the Hansons-Brooks team was out training. Watching the pros fly by as if the snow wasn’t a factor inspired me. However, it seemed like the longer I ran, the more I struggled with traction. Even though there was just a coating to an inch of snow, running in those conditions was slow and draining. I felt pretty miserable at the end. It did not help ONE BIT that as soon as I finished and walked to my car, a truck finally came along to plow the path. Great timing. My legs were a little sore following this one and I developed a knot in my left calf that stuck around for most of the week.

Totals for week #7: 43 miles of running, 3 miles of swimming, and two weights/strength sessions around 45 minutes each

Week #8

Despite time with the foam roller and the stick, I couldn’t seem to work that knot out of my calf and it was pretty tender to the touch. I felt it for the first few steps of my runs this week, but luckily it faded as I kept going. I thought I might need to get a massage, but by Friday it finally loosened up on its own. I had 6x800m for my Tuesday workout and it went well. After spending all week on the treadmill, I was ready to get outside on Saturday.

We got a ton of snow on Friday and it continued on Saturday. I went to Oakland University because I know they plow the sidewalks. Some spots around the core parts of campus were totally clear, but other spots had enough of a coating to make me struggle again.

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Eight miles felt like a lot of work, and stopping for pictures of the scenery was the one saving grace. Working my legs extra hard as I trudged through the snow left me a bit sore, so I didn’t think I could do it for 17 more miles on Sunday.

Initially I thought I’d head to Stony and hope that the path was clear enough. I changed my mind when I saw the weather forecast, which called for more snow and even freezing rain. There was no way I would attempt 17 miles through that. It didn’t seem like 17 miles on the treadmill was a good option either, but I decided to try. I downloaded a bunch of episodes of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee on Netflix and set my phone up on the treadmill to watch. Episodes are only 15-20 minutes long and he has a bunch of fun guests. It was a great distraction and I could just listen when it bothered my eyes to look down at the small screen for too long. I ended up on a treadmill that shut down every hour, so I had a brief break a couple times when I had to restart the treadmill. I broke it up into segments of 6.25 miles, 6.25 miles, and 4.5 miles. Mentally, that was easier than looking at it as 17 straight miles. Somehow I pulled it off! I went through a 25 oz. bottle of water, a 21 oz. bottle of GU Brew, and ate three Clif Shot Bloks every five miles. When I had to scrape a thick layer of ice off my car afterward, I knew the treadmill had been the right choice for me. Nonetheless, I’d prefer not having to do that again!

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Totals for week #8:  44 miles of running, 3 miles of swimming, and two weights/strength sessions (45 minutes for one, 30 minutes for the other)

Up next – a half marathon next weekend. I’m almost halfway through my 18-week plan and Hal Higdon’s schedule calls for a half marathon race. It’s not necessary to race, but I like the idea of seeing where I stand and what I’m capable of at this point. I found a race in Columbus, Ohio that sounds pretty interesting. I plan on going to explore a place I’ve never been and I’ll make a fun weekend out of it.

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz

 

Chill at the Mills 5K Recap

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Last Sunday, January 21st, I ran the Chill at the Mills 5K in Rochester, MI. I’m usually reluctant to race in the winter thanks to Michigan’s weather, and have only run a race in January twice over the eight or nine years I’ve been racing. I will typically scope out the forecast and wait until the last minute to sign up for any winter races. I’ve been interested in running this race in the past, but injury, scheduling conflicts, or the weather have kept me away until this year. It was on my radar this year, but I hadn’t planned on running it because my marathon training schedule had 14 miles listed for the day. The morning before the race, my running buddy Louise sent a message to ask if I would be there. She put the idea in my head and made me wonder if I could juggle it with my long run. The more I thought about it, the more I figured I should go for it. I went to the Rochester Fire Department for in-person registration the afternoon before the race. I was happy that I could still get a long sleeve cotton shirt in my size despite the last-minute registration. I love the penguin!

I decided that it would work best to run 11 miles before the race so I could eat and enjoy the post-race festivities rather than add on more running at the end. I’ve done warm up runs prior to races during marathon training before, but this was a bit extreme. Usually it’s more like three miles prior to a half marathon…not an 11-mile “warm up” before a 5K! It was helpful that the race was in downtown Rochester. It’s only a few miles from home, I run the town all the time, and I knew where I could go to get the distance in.

I parked at Rochester Mills (a nice brewpub) around 7:15 and started my run with a headlamp because it was still dark. There was a very slight mist in the air to start, but fortunately the potential rain that had been in the forecast stayed away. After a stretch of ridiculously cold temps to start the month, we were lucky to have a warm up that melted most of the snow and ice, and it was in the mid-30s that morning. However, it was just cold enough that there were plenty of slippery spots on sidewalks. Maybe that was good in a way because dancing around icy spots helped keep my pace slow enough to save energy for the race later. Still, it wasn’t great that I spent half the run worrying about slipping. At one point I ran the race route to scope things out. We’d be running on the roads, and those surfaces were fine. Rochester Park had a few questionable spots though.

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I worried a bit about the icy patches. I made a second loop through the park a bit later, and was happy to see a guy in a truck stopping to salt the bad spots. Aside from my one loop around the race course, I didn’t have a set route for the long run, but still managed to run around town enough to get 11 miles in.

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I timed things so I’d finish half an hour before the race. I hit the porta potty line first, which probably took 5-10 minutes. The line kept growing longer and longer, so I’m glad I went there first instead of my car. I ran into Louise and her boyfriend briefly during my jog back to the car. I swapped to a dry pair of gloves, got my bib number, then headed back to the starting area. I had less than 10 minutes to kill at that point, which was perfect. I kept moving enough that I didn’t get too cold between my earlier run and the start of the race. Between the Picky Bar I ate for breakfast, GU Brew that I drank during my long run, three Clif Bloks that I ate in the middle of the long run, and three more that I ate before the race, I seemed to fuel just right.

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The crowd was pretty big and I knew I shouldn’t start behind so many people. I walked around the outside of the crowd and worked my way toward the front. I was surprised to find a huge gap near the front! Apparently most of the people didn’t want to start too close, and the mass of people just kept lining up behind them. I positioned myself in a spot a few seconds back from the front of the line.

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I’m on the left side in the orange shirt and blue hat. Thanks to RunMichigan.com for taking some nice race photos!

I had no idea how this race might go after running 11 miles. I just went with the flow at the start and didn’t push too hard because there was a pretty good climb during the first mile. Fortunately, a block later we got to take advantage of a downhill stretch, and the rest of the course was relatively flat after that.

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The first mile and a half took us through neighborhoods, then we ran about a mile in the park, looped around the back of the library, and finished downtown by Rochester Mills. Aside from a very brief stretch on the snow-covered Paint Creek Trail, the running surfaces were great. My first mile was 7:38 and my second was 7:33. When I race a 5K all-out, I’m usually closer to a 7:00 pace. It felt like a good effort, but nothing too taxing. My nose was so cold that I couldn’t breathe out of it at the beginning, probably thanks to the downtime in between the runs. I was fine after about a mile though. While I was in the park, I realized that I didn’t feel too strained and it seemed like this race was flying by. When I run 5Ks all-out, it usually feels way too long! I told myself that it was time to kick it up a notch for the last mile. I knew the course well and knew exactly what to expect. My pace dropped to 7:19 for the third mile, then I gave everything I had at the end. It sure helped that the finishing stretch was downhill!

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I was pretty happy with my finishing time of 23:18! After crossing the finish line, I received this hat:

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My collection of medals has gotten totally out of hand, so it was kind of nice to get something different. I scoped out the boxes of post-race snacks, which included things like fruit, chips, crackers, etc. I got a bag of animal crackers and some water, then was on the lookout for my friend Carmen. Check out her blog post about the race here. She came through the finish line and we got to chat for a few minutes until I decided I should go somewhere warm. I was happy with the temperature for racing, but got pretty cold once I stopped moving. I knew that there was a pancake breakfast in the fire station, and it sounded like a great way to refuel after 14 miles.

One room in the fire station had computers for checking our results, and I saw that I had placed second in my age group!

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They said awards would be available at Runnin’ Gear, so I stopped by the next day and received this:

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Since I love the penguin, I really liked this award

After checking my results, I went to the main room for the breakfast. They have pancake breakfasts at the fire station multiple times a year but I had never been to one. I know the money goes to charity, so I was cool with paying $6 for it. It was kind of fun to be in the room with the fire trucks and all of their gear.

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I sat at a table and a volunteer asked what I would like to drink, then brought the food 5-10 minutes later. There was a sausage and three big pancakes, and it was the perfect post-race breakfast. I met some nice people and chatted with them for a bit, then headed home. Although this race was a part of Rochester’s Fire and Ice Festival, I didn’t stick around for any other events. Like I said, I was pretty cold while I was outside, so I just wanted to get back to my warm car. I found out later that there was a beer tent that I had completely missed. Oops!

I had a great time and would definitely do this race again…depending on the weather. I’m really wary of running on snowy or potentially icy surfaces, so I’d probably pass in those conditions. I love the Brooksie Way Half Marathon, so as expected, they did a great job with this race as well. I enjoyed being a part of a hometown race, and I loved running a route that was so familiar to me. I’m glad Louise checked in with me and sparked me to sign up.

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz

 

Weeks 1-4 of Training for the Glass City Marathon

The Glass City Marathon in Toledo, OH is my goal race this spring. I ran the half marathon there in 2015 and it’s still my PR. It’s close to home so I won’t have to take any time off of work to travel, and it’s early enough in the season that I should have time to recover and get ready for triathlon season afterward. I’ve been anxious to get back to the marathon distance after 2016’s hot and humid Bayshore Marathon was a bust for me. I ended up running about 20 minutes slower than I’d been hoping to run. I’ve been through injury and rebuilding since then, and I think/hope I’m ready to tackle a marathon again.

I still haven’t run the Boston Marathon, but ran a BQ time at the 2015 Twin Cities Marathon. I’m hoping I can pull it off again and actually go to Boston. When I got my BQ, I used Hal Higdon’s Advanced 2 marathon plan, but used the Hansons Marathon Method workouts on Tuesdays. Since that worked so well for me, I’m going to try it again. I’m tweaking it here and there, and won’t start the Hansons speed workouts until my sixth week of training. That’s when their beginner marathon plan adds speed. Prior to starting this training, I had been running four days a week. I’ve spent the last four weeks adjusting to running five days a week. The plan calls for six days of running, but I’ve chosen to ride the bike in place of a 3-mile run each week so far. I’m still trying to gauge if I will stick with that approach or try running six days.

I officially started training on December 18th and things have gone well so far. The main theme of my training has been coping with the winter weather. There was a record-breaking 12-day stretch at the end of December and beginning of January when the Detroit area did not get above 20°F. I’m not a big fan of cold, so it hasn’t been especially enjoyable. Fortunately, I have decent tolerance for the treadmill.

Here’s how the training has gone so far.

Week #1

The first week of training went pretty well because there wasn’t much snow and it wasn’t too cold. We have a hill that’s perfect for hill repeats right outside our door, so that was my first real workout of the training plan.

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Our local metroparks are awesome because they keep the paths clear of snow, so that’s where I’ll do the majority of my training. I did a 6-mile loop at Stony Creek Metropark one day.

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Stony Creek Metropark

I went to Indian Springs Metropark for my first marathon pace run. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to pull it off, but I ended up running each of the five miles 10-15 seconds faster than marathon pace. I’m sure as the miles and fatigue start to build, I’ll settle down a little bit.

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Indian Springs Metropark

My long run for the week was 10 miles, which is the same distance I had run the previous two weekends.

Totals for week #1: 31 miles of running, 10 miles of biking, 3 miles of swimming, and two strength/weights sessions around 45 minutes each

Week #2

I stuck with the treadmill Tuesday-Thursday mostly out of convenience, but also to avoid the cold. One morning it was -3°F. I was on Christmas break and was able to get all of my workouts done in the morning. A couple days I swam first then hopped on the treadmill next. Another day I did strength/weights first and followed up with a treadmill run. I got outside for my weekend runs and battled the cold.

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Stony Creek Metropark

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Stony Creek Metropark

My long run was 11 miles this week, and the real feel was 1°F. Brutal. Balaclavas annoy me because I don’t like having something over my nose and mouth when I run. Although I wore one, I spent most of the run playing with it. I’d keep it over my face until it annoyed me, then I’d pull it below my chin. When I did that, the mouth area froze and stiffened up, making it extra annoying when I covered my face again. On top of that, my bottle’s nozzle froze in less than an hour, so after that I had to stop and unscrew the top in order to drink my sports drink slushie.

Totals for week #2: 30 miles of running, 15 miles of biking, 3.25 miles of swimming, and one strength/weights session around 50 minutes

Week #3

More time on the treadmill. Once the snow hits, it’s not always convenient to drive to one of the parks after work for my run. Going to the gym to use the treadmill is often the easy way out, especially if I need to shower and go out somewhere when I’m done. I ran 4×800 one day, which is the first true speed workout I’ve done in a long time. I ran the repeats around 10K pace, and it was definitely challenging. The weekend was cold again and I couldn’t bring myself to attempt six miles at marathon pace outside when the windchill was below 0°F. The treadmill run went really well and marathon pace felt comfortable. I ventured out the next day for my long run. Luckily it was a back-down week and I only had eight miles. It was ridiculously cold and my bottle froze again before I was done, but I layered up enough to make the run tolerable. This was the first time I’ve had my eyelashes freeze!

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Totals for week #3: 30 miles of running, 15 miles of biking, 3.25 miles of swimming, and one strength/weights session around 45 minutes

Week #4

Hill repeats were on my schedule, and I was able to do those outside in our neighborhood again. I did a 5-mile tempo run at Stony on an extremely rare warm day. It was 50°F! Clouds of fog blowing off of the piles of snow made for a really scenic run.

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Stony Creek Metropark

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Stony Creek Metropark

It was super cold again by the weekend, so rather than fight the nasty windchill, I had another solid 6-mile marathon pace run on the treadmill. I braved the cold again for my long run, which was up to 13 miles this week. I’m so tired of the cold! The windchill was in the single digits and I hoped it was warm enough to avoid the balaclava. My face froze for the first half mile, but luckily I warmed up after that. I felt like I was dragging for most of the run, but the pace on my watch made it look otherwise. I felt a lot slower than I actually ran. Having the sun out for the first half of the run helped, but then it got cloudy and the wind picked up. I have a sore spot on my right kneecap following this run, and I hope it’s just a random tweak that goes away. I will worry about any little thing I feel and hope it doesn’t turn into anything that could derail my training!

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Stony Creek Metropark

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Cool ice formations at Stony Creek Metropark

Totals for week #4: 33 miles of running, 10 miles of biking, 3 miles of swimming, and two strength/weights sessions around 45 minutes each

Totals for the first 4 weeks: 124 miles of running, 50 miles of biking, 12.5 miles of swimming, and strength/weights 1-2 times per week

Four weeks down, 14 to go! I hope the whole winter isn’t this miserable, but I guess I’ve managed to survive so far.

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz