A Lesson in What NOT to do on Marathon Day

So, yesterday’s successful Galloway experiment sent the gears in my brain just buzzing last night with “What ifs.” “What IF I could run a BQ race using Galloway? Recover faster, feel great at the finish line, make the Olympics team, etc, ha ha ha.” You know.. because once those wheels start turning, all sorts of crazy things go through your overly optimistic mind. 

Well, last night I decided that instead of taking a rest day today, I should do my tempo work instead.. AND… I should use the Galloway method.. AND.. I should aim for my BQ pace of 8:37. Now, that pace is not totally foreign to me. I ran my entire half in July (in 80 degree temps) at exactly an 8:37 pace and felt fabulous at the end. My exact quote to others that day was, “I feel so good, if someone handed me a Gatorade and offered me $10, I’d totally run back to the half point and I feel confident I could keep this pace another 6.6+ miles.” Now, that’s how I felt and what I said… but it’s really a guessing as as to weather I could have actually pulled it off. But — I know the pace. In that particular half, I only walked at water stops and made those short and then zipped back up to the overall ave pace of 8:37. Not really a true Galloway-type of run at all. It felt more competitive. In the races that I’ve done well at this year (2 miles in 14:48 for a third place AG win, 10k at 52:26 (where I first “tried” to be speedier back in June) for a 2nd place AG win and my 8k a week and a half ago in 39:51 for a 1st place AG win – I didn’t walk at all – not a step.) So, I’m torn. The Galloway method seems to offer so much – yet it also sort of makes my gut-reaction say “Careful! Remember your Mama told you that if sounds too good to be true, it probably is?” And the rhythm doesn’t feel as good since I love getting lost in the thump, thump, thump of my Asics on the road and the walk breaks just blow my meditative feeling to bits since I have to stare at the watch more watching for that overall pace and those one minute walk breaks. Hmm..

Today was a disaster. It was hot. Hotter than yesterday. 63 degrees. 55% humidity and not a cloud in the clear, blue sky. No breeze either. Not even a small one. After the 1.5 miles of warm up, I hit the “start” on the Garmin and walked for a minute right at the beginning of the first mile. As soon as the minute was up, and my watch was showing about a 12:40 ave pace, I gunned it up to where I figured I’d have to reside for the rest of the run (between 7:45 – 8:16 ish it seemed.) It didn’t feel good. It felt harder than it should have. I wasn’t enjoying myself. I felt tired. I wanted to slow down. But I kept at it. The one mile beep came and I saw I’d done the first split in 8:31. Great. Ahead of pace just a hair. Man, I didn’t feel good like yesterday, though. So, I walked the one minute, then gunned it again – feeling thirsty, legs feeling like logs and my brain telling me, “This isn’t smart! If your body is reacting this way this early into this workout, it’s time to pull the plug and call it a day. It’s too late to add any really hard training. You have about 11 days to the race. You’re in taper. No point in hurting yourself when you’ve already done all you really can to prepare for this thing. Be smart – stop this instead of being vain and pushing it just because…” I did the second mile in 8:41 which gave me an average pace of 8:37 – right on target and as soon as that watched beeped for the walk break to start, I just knew I was done with the speedy portion. I walked for the minute and then tuned everything out and just ran the way I felt. Turns out I felt like running a 10:33 pace for that third mile. I just wasn’t feeling it today and pushing to 8:37 – at least today – was too much.  After that easier mile, feeling a bit recovered, I ran the last .5 mile at an 8:49 pace feeling good again. (My total miles by that point were 5 since I’d done the 1.5 warm up.)

I finished the workout with an easy 1 mile cool down then went home – a bit discouraged, but also wiser. I was pretty sure it would be crazy to even attempt the BQ pace at my upcoming race. McMillan’s predictions for me based on the last 4 races I ran are: 4:06, 3:54, 3:58 and 3:55. The Runner’s World Smart Coach plan I’ve trained with has a goal of 3:50. All seem lofty to me – and NONE of them are BQ times. I’m just not fast enough yet. Last year’s time of 4:57 is really the one to overcome and I’d love to really improve on that. Breaking 4 would be a HUGE dream! 4:15 or so would make me incredibly proud. I think I will be disappointed if I can’t come close to the 4:15 this time around. Maybe I should focus on that number and keep that pace in mind when the gun goes off. I feel like it’s a gamble no matter what I choose — go out too easy and never get a chance to earn back those times later in the race and finish too comfortable — or go out too hard and hit the wall at 20 and watch my pace slide downhill fast. Hmmmmmm….. Still figuring this out.

Warm up – 1.52 miles. 12:25 pace
Workout Gone Wrong – 3.51 miles. 9:11 ave pace.

Cooldown to lick the wounds – 1.01 miles. 10:20 pace.


An Experiment in Gallowayism

I’ve been eating red meat the past three days like it was my job. It’s what my body was craving, so I indulged – first with the sausage biscuit after my 13+ miles on Sunday, then a date with my hubby out for ribs at Outback that night, a juicy cheeseburger yesterday for lunch. You get the idea. I was a little overboard! The scale is actually 3 lbs heaver this morning than it’s been in about a month. I know that’s mostly due to the slow-digesting meat I’ve been devouring. Because of this heavy gut, I decided to keep things easy on my run today – not push too hard and just enjoy the miles.

About a mile and half into my run along the canal paths today, I had a thought. Hmmm… some of my friends have recently resurrected the Galloway method (adding intentional walk breaks) in their long training runs for the marathon. I am very familiar with Galloway, having used him exclusively for my training last year for my first marathon. I considered him a godsend since his methods kept me injury-free and helped me cross that first finish line. But, this year, I seem to have adopted my own conglomerate of methods. I run with ultra buddies now, who’ve taught me things like, “Walk the uphills, run the flats and downhills. Enjoy the ride! Look around at the scenery!” I no longer do a one minute walk break at each mile signal of the Garmin like I did last year. I walk more when I run in the foothills due to all the steep climbing. I ease up on my “easy and recovery runs.” But, I’d abandoned the walk breaks in regular road running for anything besides drinking water or taking GU.

So, today, I felt intrigued. Two of my marathon pals have started posting about using this method in their training again – and they were having great success with it – posting training times much better than my own! I had to know — would my overall times in training actually improve if I were using the one minute per mile walk breaks again? I figured – “Hey, it’s a training run and I’m always up for an experiment. Let’s try it today!” Since I was a mile and a half into the run, I figured I’d just start there. My average pace at that point was 9:33. So, I took my first walk break (the one I should have earned in mile 1) and relaxed, secretly thinking, “There’s no way in heck I’m going to be able to keep a comfortable pace, walk for a mile and STILL end up with an overall pace of 9:33.”) It just seemed like a lofty goal to me. And I will tell you, when I walked – I really walked – no speed-walking, no rushing along – just regular, easy-paced walking like I’d do if I were taking a puppy for a stroll.

Once I’d had my minute, I started running again – relaxed and comfortable. I decided not to really pay much attention to what pace I was running but to listen to my body and do it by feel. My average overall pace had slowed to 9:37 after the break. I noticed when the beep happened half a mile later signaling mile 2, that my average pace was back to 9:33. Weird! I took my second walk break thinking, “That was a fluke. This can’t last.”

And, so it continued. Walk for a minute easy, then run again until the next mile signal on the Garmin. I noticed that my average pace seemed to vary between 9:29 – 9:37 very consistently. Nearly every time a beep happened signaling a new mile, I was almost always right at 9:33 (or as low as the 9:29) – without really trying. WOAH! The walk break would start at the lower number, then ease up to about 9:37 and again I’d run and before half a mile I was back in 9:33 or better land.

I actually was only intending on running 6 miles today. I left my family a note on the dry erase board saying I’d be back in an hour and fifteen minutes and that I was running 6 easy miles. By mile 4.5, I was feeling AMAZING – no fatigue, so I just kept going – also figuring the experiment was going well and I’d like to play with it a little more. I did run for about an hour and fifteen minutes, but surprisingly, I ran 8 miles instead of 6! And, I feel GREAT!

Here’s my splits:
Mile 1: 9:38
Mile 2: 9:25
Mile 3: 9:22
Mile 4: 9:33
Mile 5: 9:33
Mile 6: 9:22
Mile 7: 9:30
Mile 8: 9:22

Overall average pace at the end? 9:28. Huh! Kind of wild! I figure it’s something to keep up my sleeve for my marathon. I’m not sure yet I’ll use it every mile – I’m still nervous to let go that much — but I WILL keep it in my thoughts while I’m running and use it likely a few times to renew my energy if needed. I’m intrigued!

Stats: 8.02 miles. 9:28 ave pace. 1:16 – total time.


Over the last two days, 8 of my ultra friends ran the Bear 100 mile race (of the top 5 HARDEST 100 mile, mountain, trail races in the U.S.!) Despite about 1/4 of the runners DNFing at this challenge this year – EVERY ONE OF MY PALS crossed that finish line including my friend (and hero) Emily, who is a Mom just like you and me and who was doing her first 100 mile race.  I am in awe!!!!!  Now I’m starting to daydream about doing a hundred miler myself someday. Hmmmmm. Bertha, are you with me? 

Here’s Emily sprinting (YES – SPRINTING to the finish of her 100 mile race – it took her 36 hrs and 47 minutes. She was actually just shy of the cut-off (36 hours even) but was allowed to finish since she’d checked into the final aid station in time. Look at that smile!!! 

Here’s most of the gang.  I’m so proud! I hang out with some pretty phenomenal runners. They are my heros! 


Out and Back on the Marathon Course

I met my friend, Andrea while the sky was still black this morning. We parked next to the pond where my upcoming marathon will start and finish. I was eager to run one more time on the course before the race in two weeks. We headed out backwards on the path, enjoying the sounds of morning birds and the “hellos” of the other early runners and bikers. I enjoyed spending time with my friend, chatting about things and engaging in the usual girl talk. 

We ran until the gas station at about the 19th mile of the marathon course (about 6.7 for us.) I’d had it in my mind to run the course backwards, nice and easy and then to pick it up on the way back. I ended up making it kind of a progression run back to the “finish” line and really enjoyed that.

Here are my splits:
1. 11:39 (I warm up REALLY slow!) 
2. 10:49
3. 10:42
4. 10:59
5. 11:06
6. 10:40
7. 10:41
8. 10:32
9. 10:17
10. 9:15
11. 9:25
12. 9:04
13. 8:32
.44 final – 7:55

Those last 4 + miles were really important to me. Last year at the marathon (my first ever), I really struggled during those miles and walked a lot. I wanted to mentally push a bit harder, gently accelerate on the gas over those miles and overcome the mental difficulties I faced last year during that stretch. Today was a rehearsal for my mind even more than for my legs. I felt like I got out of today’s run exactly what I was looking for — a boost in my confidence that I can run well on tired legs in that final stretch.

When I hit the “finish line” I couldn’t help but grin.  The weather was PERFECT today – about 50 degrees at the start (I even wore a jacket on the drive there) and 65 at the finish – fairly ideal running weather, nice gentle breeze, beautiful lush, fall scenery (I especially love running by the Boise Train Station and seeing the city from up high on the ridge as I ran for a few miles overlooking the parks, the foothills in the distance, the cloudless blue sky.)

After the run, I walked over to the pond and stepped onto one of the floating docks. I watched the ducks paddling in the water, closed my eyes and enjoyed the songs of the birds. I laid down on the dock and relaxed into some of my favorite stretches and yoga poses, just savoring the sounds of nature all around me. It was a pretty perfect run today. 

On the way home, I treated myself to a meal fit for a queen — I dined at the fanciest McDonald’s drive-through food around (don’t be jealous, now!) I had a sausage biscuit, a hashbrown and a delicious orange juice! I savored every morsel! Mmmm!!!

Stats: 13.44 miles. 10:12 ave pace. 2:17 total time. Feel: Great!


I Owe The Man $20

My husband made me eat my words tonight. He claimed he could run a 6 minute pace for 30 seconds (though he doesn’t really exercise much) and I said that I wasn’t sure he could. We went to the track tonight and he reminded me of our bet and proceeded to put on my Garmin and show me what he could do. I asked him to warm up. He said, “That’s not my style.” I said, “Please don’t hurt yourself.” And he said, “I’m too cool to get hurt” or something along those lines. 

Then he took off like a bolt of lightning! I have to tell you, watching him was like poetry in motion. He really does have a beautiful stride he’s been hiding from me these past 13 years together. He finished the run (.14 of a mile) in 41 seconds and had an average pace of 4:50!!! The man earned every cent of that bet fair and square and I’m very proud of him. I told him so and then he collapsed on the grass heaving for air. hee hee. 

Tonight was family track night again. It was fun. The sun set about half way through the hour and we ran under the glow of the harvest moon. The air had a subtle chill and I really wanted to run laps forever. The kids had a ball playing with some new friends on the playground right next to the track, my husband joined me and the other runners for several more laps and I had the cutest pacers in the whole world — my two sons – ages 8 and 9 for the first part of the run. I just love seeing my kids excited about running! It does my soul good. My 9 year old was flying along and even wiped out after a mile and a half, then got right back up and kept on going. What a trooper!

How did this family celebrate a night of exercise? We came home and made root beer floats of course.  The children were singing in unison in the back of the minivan on the drive home, “Mom and Dad are great! They make us root beer floats!” Wayne and I bowed and said, “Thank you! Thank you!” before heading into the house to serve tasty treats to our adorable offspring. 

Stats for second run of the day: 5.01 miles. 10:22 pace. 51:57 total time. Felt: Great. A bit sore in the quads from the hills yesterday, but otherwise – good.


Neighborhood Recovery Run

I pulled on my favorite turquoise running shorts and black Nike short sleeved running top and couldn’t wait to get outside and enjoy the fall weather! 45 degrees and slightly breezy! I actually saw my breath at the beginning of the run! Hard to believe since it was nearly 90 here just a few days ago – but pretty cool (yeah that last one was a pun!) 
Just stretched the legs out running by the farms next to the neighborhood. I nearly slowed down to beg for a meal when I passed the elementary school where I could smell the mashed potatoes and gravy. Mmmmmmmm. I ran on an empty stomach this morning just to see how that would go, after one of my pal’s suggested that eating less can be the cure to stomach troubles. I probably won’t go without any breakfast normally, but for a really short run like this, it was just fine. I felt good. I also felt fine last night on the 10 miler in the mountains, which was reassuring since I haven’t really changed much yet as far as my diet goes. Now that I’m home, I’m enjoying a nice, hot bowl of apple cinnamon oatmeal and the mocha cappuccino I’d been avoiding for the past few days. Mmmm. Happy times!

Stats: 3.05 miles. 10:04 pace. 30:43 total time. Felt: Fantastic!

Looking forward to Family Track Night tonight.


Foothills Run With Billie

This was hands-down one of the most enjoyable runs I’ve had in weeks! The scenery was spectacular in the Boise foothills, overlooking the city. We watched the sun set and the city lights glistening in the distance. The full harvest moon beckoned us to stay longer – but we had families to get back to.  Great conversation, enjoyable hills (especially those downhills which I love), challenging single-track and just an all-over good time.

Stats: 10.5 miles. 14:31 pace (counting all the stops for the millions of cyclists we moved out of the way for – there were so many out there tonight enjoying this great weather!!) Our “moving pace” according to Garmin connect was 11:18. 1,303 elevation gain.


Easy Run Along the Canals

The clouds were countless and amazing today. Spread out across the sky like a deck of cards neatly laid out towards the horizon progressively getting more and more minuscule. The breeze was gentle and felt so good on my skin. It was a lovely day for a run along the canal banks, past the golf course and then back again.

Unfortunately, my stomach had issues again today at about mile 4. It seems that once my stomach starts feeling upset in a week, it’s really hard to get it back on track. I’m drinking chamomile tea and hoping I can settle it back down again before it disrupts even more of my training this week.  I have three weeks to the marathon. I need to solve this puzzle.

Stats: 5.08 miles. 9:54 ave pace. Total time: 50:22


I just signed up for the Orcas Island 50K for Feb. 2011! Several of my ultra friends are coming and are already signed up too! Woo hoo for a road trip and a scenic race!!!!!


Here’s a picture of the start line of my 8k on Saturday. Behind me is my friend Kasia, who I think placed second in her age group (20-29) and beside me in blue is my pal, Billie (who came in 2nd place in our age group.)

And this last one isn’t the best picture of me (head thrown back just pushing it to the finish).  I did the 8k (4.97 miles) in 39:51 (a pace of 8:01 which is better than I thought I’d do) and earned 1st place in my age group!  I’m pretty proud of that. My first FIRST place age group award!

My friend, Emily took both of these pictures and was there to cheer on many of her friends. Emily, by the way is about to do her first 100 mile race this upcoming weekend! I am so in awe of her!!!! She’s 31 and the Mom of two great kids and she’s totally my ultra hero and THE reason so many females my age in my running group are now even attempting ultras.  She’s a great inspiration!


Run for the Toilets!

I met with Randy, Paul, Andrea, Rhonda, Ryan and Michelle today at mile 6 of the City of Trees Marathon course while it was still dark out. We enjoyed lots of light-hearted chatter as we ran along the course. Unfortunately for me, my stomach had issues starting at around mile 5 or 6.  GI distress has become almost a constant companion to me on really long runs and I wish I knew why. I’ve gone over the foods I eat the day I run, the foods the night before, handling stress, etc but nothing seems to make it better. I have IBS and sometimes, it seems, out of the blue, my stomach will rebel on me and I have no other choice but to hit every bathroom along the way, slow down my pace and just endure.

I ran the first few miles with the group. A few of them got ahead when I made my first pit stop at a gas station. After another couple of miles, we said goodbye to Ryan and Michelle who’s already done several miles this morning before we arrived. After another few miles, Randy and I said goodbye to our friend, Paul and we headed on our way.

I did get a couple of interesting bathroom experiences today. Randy spotted a porta-potty still on a trailer, sitting at a slant parked along the road. I had visions of a truck backing up to it while I was inside, hooking up and driving away with me banging on the door and yelling, “HELP!”, but thankfully, it was pretty uneventful.  Since my stomach was bothering me so much, I finally asked Randy to go ahead of me at about mile 10 or 11 so he could catch up to Andrea, who was super speedy today.

Once he left, I felt a bit more at ease, since I hate holding everyone up when I have to run for the bathroom again and again. I was glad he was able to enjoy his run a bit more with my friend. 

I found out that if you use the bathroom in the park, and are sick enough to be in there for awhile, the lights will automatically just shut off – and there you are sitting in a pitch black, brick building feeling around for the toilet paper in a panic! That was a weird bathroom experience! Apparently the toilet gods were feeling I’d had my turn and should move along. So, I did.

Legs felt heavy after the first 5-6 miles today. My right hamstring seems achy from yesterday’s race and I could feel the volume of miles and their toll on my body — 58 miles this week — my highest mileage week EVER!  I thought about that today when the run was challenging and my stomach was churning “Just get the miles. Just get this done.” And, I did.

This was the last super, long run I’ll be doing before my marathon in three weeks. Eager to ease back on the miles gradually over the next couple weeks leading up to the marathon. I’m ready to taper.

And… if anyone was wondering — yes, I’m very concerned about my stomach and the race. I decided today to lower my expectations for the race again. I’ve proven to myself that I can run fast — at shorter distances and don’t seem to suffer any problems normally up to the half marathon distance. About half the time that I run beyond that, though, I struggle with tummy problems. I wish it wasn’t so. I wish I could fix it and enjoy my super long runs more — but at this point, I think I’ll just be happy with a PR at the race. I’ll still be proud of that.

One more thing — I did shut my Garmin off at the bathroom breaks today, so my time does not reflect all that stopping. So my time would have been much worse if it had been a timed race.

Stats: 20.01 miles. 3:38 overall time. 10:56: ave pace.