Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Month: November 2014

Ready For Launch! (Space Coast Marathon – T-minus 5 days)

This has been a very interesting few months, but here we are.


First up, August and September I nailed the hell out coming in rested and fresh to a 2 month half ironman cycle to which I PR’d the shit out of my race and generally feel like for the first time I actually RACED a 70.3 instead of survived it.  Lots of happy warm fuzzies about those two months and the race that capped them off.

Then, probably because I raced the hell out of that race, I found myself a little less able to jump into marathon training with as much enthusiasm as I had last year.  Maybe it was the weather taking forever to dip below scorching and then heading directly to polar.  Maybe it was feeling satisfied with the run of that race left me less hungry and with something to prove like last year.  It just took longer to get going, mentally and physically.

Either way, the first week or two I had to pull myself into run training by the ear.  The 10+ hours of training that had been so effortless during tri season was definitely in the realm of EFFORT.  My paces weren’t magically dropping, frankly, I ran one of my slowest runs of the YEAR after a particularly awesome/awful crossfit session early in the cycle and I was kinda frustrated.

The redeeming qualities were some magical long runs.  A 20 miler where I felt like I could keep going forever at last year’s marathon pace finally got my confidence up.  Then, I ran an 18 faster than I’ve ever done a long run before and I didn’t die.  Like, at all.  I also nailed a 50 mile week and two weeks in the 40s without injury.

This month, with the cooler temps, the paces finally came down.  I know it’s science, but it’s just so bizarre to me that I can slice a minute per mile off EFFORTLESSLY going from 70 degrees to 40.  Most of my November run average paces have started with a 10 (some with the help of the weather, some not).  This helps when you want to run a marathon with a pace starting with 10.

I thought my November mileage was dismal, but it’s pretty much equal to last year’s training (~115 miles vs 122 miles, both times missed one long run), so at least I didn’t get worse.

And now, it’s race week.  Here we go!  The weird thing about endurance sport is we spend time practicing what we’re going to do for race day, but only certain parts at certain times.  It feels like FOREVER since I did that 18 (2 weekends ago) and even MORE FOREVER since the 20 (4 weekends ago).  The flip side is it also feels like forever since 10 minute miles were anything but normal pace.  So, that’s where I’ve arrived at and those are what I roll into race day with.  Ready for launch!



I’m hoping to learn from what I did wrong last year and what worked really well in triathlons this year.

  • No cute shoes: I’ve been wearing various running shoes this week full time and I continue will do the same until after the race.  This will hopefully prevent my temporarily broken ankle that was magically- better-but-off the day of the race.
  • Eat like a normal human this week: a) I bought My Fit Foods so I didn’t have to stress about cooking and having leftovers for a short week.  b) Eat breakfast on Thanksgiving even though I’m going to eat turkey day foods later.  c) Don’t eat a whole plate of dessert and feel sick after, save that for post-race.  d) Eat throughout the day not all at once.  e) Eat something before 6pm on Friday, bringing food for lunch instead of relying on the airport to feed me.
  • Keep with the pre-race fueling that has worked: planning on trying to replicate Kerrville because I felt awesome – Friday night: steak/chicken/fish, potato, salad (or similar).  Saturday lunch: same meal, but a little smaller.  Saturday peppered with snacks like fruit, potato chips, nuts, sunbutter, cheese, etc.
  • Speaking of eating, stick to a nutrition plan day of: kind bar and coconut water and purple stuff AM, start with disposable gatorade in handheld and toss it when it’s done and then live off the course, one gel per hour (plan one caff gel around hour 3, maybe have an extra caff gel in case i need the pep).
  • Shakeout run outside on Saturday.  I think the treadmill did not do me a service last year as my last run.
  • Going to a movie on Saturday to chill out and take my mind off the next day (and to give Zliten a break from my pre-race babble).
  • Not running around for 3 hours trying to find a replacement cable, hopefully.

Fashion plan:

It may be superstition, but I wore a certain nike top and tri shorts and red visor during both long runs that went really well.  So, guess what I’ll be wearing?  Also, I’ve got my wonder woman blue star skirt that will go well with the space theme and has an extra pocket, and matches the ensemble, but I’m iffy on it (I’m not sure I’ll appreciate an extra layer with the 63 degree race start/73 degree high forecast).  Rounding it out will be my “new” (probably close to 100 miles on em) purple bondi 3 hokas and blue and white compression sox.  I will look a bit of a mess but really, who cares.

Other stuff… like I said above, taking my handheld with a disposable gatorade so I can toss the bottle mid-race and still have gel storage.  My nice sunglasses seem to be MIA since the last race (but I haven’t made a lot of effort to find them) so I’ll probably just wear some randos.  Aquaphor instead of body glide has made my life, so I’ll be lubing up with that.

Just in case the weather takes a colder turn, I’ll have a tee, arm warmers, capris, and a jacket, but I don’t expect to need any of that stuff.


Race plan:

I never know exactly what is going to work exactly when race brain finally takes over, so I’ve broken down the race for myself a few ways.

Specific Pace/Hour Plan:

  • Hour 1: around 11 minute miles/average
  • Hour 2: no faster than 10:45 (but no slower than 11)
  • Hour 3: no faster than 10:30 (but no slower than 11)
  • Hour 4: no faster than 10 (but no slower than 11)
  • Last chunk of the hour: turn down for what (fast as my legs will go)

This lands me at about mile 22-23 when the clock hits 4 hours and sets me up for a nice PR.  This is also how I’ve been running this cycle, first mile is ALWAYS the slowest and the last is usually among the fastest unless something is wrong.  Keeping to 11 minute miles the first hour will be a huge challenge, but I think it will pay divedends in my late race energy.  I think the last two years I’ve started two quickly and this will help me not go out all happy puppy.

Pacer Plan:

  • Start with 4:50 pacer.
  • Around 6, leave 4:50 pacer and find 4:45 pacer by 11-12.
  • Around 16, leave 4:45 pacer and find 4:40 pacer by 22-23 (I will be REALLY proud of myself if I can speed up with 10 miles to go)
  • Turn down for what (hang the fuck on or see what my legs have in ’em)

Sometimes numbers get hard.  This lets me follow the white rabbit.  Of course, sticking with any of these pacers is a PR, and I’ll continue to assess what I have that day, but if latching onto something is needed, this is what I’ll do.

Simple Plan:

  • Run 10:30-11 minute miles until mile 13.
  • Run faster the second half.

I am confident that if I can keep my head on straight, I can negative split this thing.  It is how I instinctively run.  I need to watch the start of the race (oh my, 9:45s feel effortless, let’s go for a 4:15 I have no business trying to run) and wherever that trouble trap is going to be between mile 13 to 20.  Hopefully, my fueling strategy will stave off the lows (I didn’t get them in Kerrville and my long runs have generally been good), but I’m ready to fight those fuckers.


I have had some success planning the thoughts I will carry into the race, because if I don’t plan for positivity, negative thoughts tend to take their place.

1. Remember that long races have highs and lows that oscillate.  I just need to keep my head on straight during the lows and try to hang onto the highs as long as I can.  Also, negative thoughts = need sugar and/or caffeine.

2. The faster I finish, the faster I get to see Zliten.  Also, I gotta rock this race because he doesn’t get a chance to run it and at least one of us has to have an awesome day (hopefully both, he loves volunteering).  I’ve done a decent amount of running on my own so I’m ready for it, but I can’t rely on a Zliten save around mile 14 again…

3. I promised to go back to tell the forum folks who gave me advice how my race went.  I will be MUCH happier to report that I held strong through the race and PR’d.

4. Just like I really wanted to feel like I nailed a 70.3 this year, I really want to nail a marathon at my current fitness.  This will also free me up to make a decision about my race in Feb not based in the need for revenge.

5. I don’t have a lot of deep thoughts this time, really. I have a process to follow, I have backup processes if the wheels start to come off.  I’m smart, I’m strong, I’m tough, and I will conquer this marathon like I’ve conquered the last three races I have if I just do my thing and get my brain to stay out of the way of my body.

6. Also, I am THANKFUL (tis the season) that my body has held up with only minor complaints and is ready to take on this major feat of strength which is a marathon and have the luxury of doing it on the beach in FL and going on a cruise right after, and spending my marathon recovery week snorkeling and diving.  Life is hard, yo.


And on that note, I’m off to do all the things.  And try to rest as much as possible.  We’ll see how that works out.

Survivor’s Guilt

Last Sunday, I started *the rest*.  I decided that I wasn’t running until my leg felt better or I got it checked out no matter what.  Zliten did the same because of his knee.

I biked last Monday and Tuesday and did my strength and my shin/ankle felt like it was under constant pressure unless I was up and walking around on it for a while.


I totally had a stress fracture, I had convinced myself.  This is my no running face.

Our chiropractor appointment was on Wednesday after work.  I gave her the schpiel as to what was going on and her first words were that it was “very unlikely it was a stress fracture”.  Whew.  She poked and prodded me all over the calves and everything checked out.

Then, she went to my back and holyyyyy shit, my hips were about a full inch off.  My left leg was one inch longer than my right.  She fixed me up, I stood up, and it was like…

*angel’s chorus*

She warned me there would be a little residual pain for the next 4-5 days.  There was, but it was definitely better and is now down to just a little twinge as I get going sometimes.  She also asked me to run no more than 5-6 miles at a time, but I could do doubles to get to 10 or so, until Monday.  Then, I could return to normal.

Done, and done.  I was a happy girl.  The net result was I’ve sacrificed about 2 runs for bikes last week, and had to cut a long run short.  You better believe I’ve made up for that by lots of m-pace miles.  And that’s ok.  It’s that time in the cycle to start training more specifically, and it’s not like m-pace is really that taxing at short distances.


This is me back on running.

Back to storytime. Next, Zliten hopped on the table and she poked and prodded his knee.   I figured his had to be fine.  His was wayyyyy less severe than mine last year.  I couldn’t walk or stand up properly for 5 weeks.  He ran 10 miles last weekend without all that much pain.  She ordered an MRI and said she hoped she was wrong.

Long story short, he’s got 3 fractures in his leg. Prognosis – no running for at least 3 months, no racing for 6 while it heals.  Swimming only until 6 weeks out (from the last 10 mile run he did one week after injury).  Frankly, to minimize WALKING if at all possible and get on crutches to help it heal more quickly.

While he’s not happy, he’d worked himself into a tizzy about having a bad meniscus tear never being able to run again, so only 3 months off is a relief, even though it is a bummer we’re eating 2-3 early race registrations.

And now, I’m totally feeling the “survivor’s guilt”.

It’s a little harder to motivate yourself when your run buddy is still in bed and can’t run with you.  I’ve really had to push myself to get out the door and it hasn’t worked every day.  The flipside is that when I’m out there, the mix of not chatting, the weather, tunes, and the lack of fatigue in my legs from last week’s 17 miles run oops have made for some really excellent paces.  However, it’s been much more work to actually get going.  Especially with this cold crap going on.  I’m not just dressing this way for the cutes, it’s winter-like up in here.


And then, you want to gush about how you had this fantastic run, and came in just about 2 minutes over your 10k PR without even really trying and felt amazing and you get sullen injured triathlete eyes looking at you from the couch because not running sucks.

I figured I was the one who would be the dumbass who ran herself into the ground, the haters had me worried.  I had mentally prepared myself to be the one out of this marathon and started to look up long distance swimming races for next year.  Instead, I’m signed up for another marathon in February and a 10 mile race in March that I’m going to be training for myself instead of with my Zliten.  Obviously I’m in the best spot of a bad situation, so I’m not saying “poor me” or anything, but it’s still a bit of the ol’ sad trombone.

Also, this puts a completely different spin on next year’s plan.  So many questions, when I thought our biggest conundrum was reconciling the desire to do Austin 70.3 and also Spacecoast marathon one month apart at the end of the year in 2015.  But, we’ll get it figured out.  It will stay loosey goosey for a while, and I’m ok with that.  I’m going to really look into my heart of hearts and see what my race priorities are and what fun things we can do that we usually miss.

I do know that now coach needs to make two schedules for a while.  Last year, I had a fire lit under my butt with my knee to both stay active but only in the right ways so I could heal because I had a bunch of race registrations on the line.  Zliten’s is a little different.  The next official race for him is unknown (maybe he’ll be able to participate in 10/20 March 29th, maybe not), but there’s going to be a lot of battles between the couch and the pool, the weight room, and soon the trainer this winter.  I think I can help by giving him boxes to check off.

Either way, I’m definitely going to go out and rock this marathon for the both of us, especially because I know Zliten is going to be helping at the finish (if you can’t play, volunteer, right?).  And the quicker I get there the quicker I get to see him.

This week’s photos brought to you by the fact that I’m too lazy to take anything but goofy selfies.

My Own Drum

I’m banking on some pretty sweet 70.3 fitness as about half the oomph to get me through a marathon with a short training cycle.  I’ve also done it last year, and the year before (with a suuuuuper short cycle, in fact, I’d be recovering from it today instead of just starting taper).


Every year it’s been an order of operations:

1. Recover from Kerrville 70.3.

2. Do a long run as quickly as possible (6 days after in 2012, 13 days after in 2013, 20 days after for 2014 only because I was sick 13 days out).

3.  Ramp up the weekly miles to support the long run (all easy).  This year, in 2014, I actually did this BEFORE doing a long run, which is the right way.

4. Do my first 20 as quickly as possible (13 days after in 2012, 20 days after in 2013, 27 days after in 2014).

5. Take a stepback week to let my body process all that ramping up.

5. Maintain a decent amount of miles until 3 weeks out, and then start gradually tapering.

I’ll admit that the initial ramp up is a little rough, pulling you by the nose instead of a gradual build, but within about 2 weeks it becomes the norm and my body adapts.  I’m actually finding this cycle that my recovery is better than ever.  I’ve been just bopping along with training.

Zliten decided to go tweak his knee (doing non-running related stuff) so he’s been a little low on the miles – he did 3.3 miles with me Thursday night and was all smiles (once you get used to that steady stream of endorphins it’s hard to quit).  But, as coach, I didn’t let him pick up training and do the 23 or even a 20 because that would be crazy after being out most of the week.

I bailed on the 23.  I was definitely iffy on the merits of doing it, and I wasn’t doing it solo.  I had considered an easy 20, because it’s the last week to do it, but I also wasn’t convinced that would be the absolute best use of my time.  My next thought was do something a little shorter and speedier (warmup, a good handful of m pace miles, cooldown, somewhere between 15-18).

I had thought about doing the faster practice this week and doing a 20 next week (2 weeks 1 day out) to let Zliten have one more 20.  Not optimal, but I definitely didn’t feel worse for wear after my last 20, so it was in the running as a possibility.  So, I had lots of options and I was waffling back and forth on what to do.

Then, I went to the internet for advice.

Even though the second training plan I brought up had a 20 miler 2 weeks out, I guess it was the advanced high mileage plan for Boston prep, because suggesting that on the internet apparently is like kicking someone’s dog and insulting their mothers.  How dare I consider running the magical 20 with only 15 days to recover?  Apparently I’m asking to be injured, sick, and mentally addled, probably in conjunction with wearing a scarlet letter A on my chest or something.

Ok, fine, I can concede that.  Probably not the greatest idea.  Three weeks out of Kerrville I did my second 13 (long run) and then chilled out a bit on the run miles, so makes sense.  So, whatever I did this weekend was it, and then it’s taper time.  So, even more pressure to get this right.

Then I got paralyzed in that decision and decided to post my dilemma to a forum I frequent (that generally has sane people) to try to get ideas.

Total mistake.

Apparently my training thus far was an affront to the marathon distance (not enough miles, ramped up too fast), swimming and biking don’t count at ALL in building running endurance fitness (I heartily disagree over years of experience with it), and the best thing I can do is to run way less miles (now that I’m ramped up and absorbing training just fine?) and accept defeat right now that my marathon is just shot.  Wow, thanks for the confidence guys!


I know that the traditional path to a marathon does not include doing a lot of training on the bike and in the pool, but I feel so fit after my 70.3s I’m ready to leap.  Once I drop the other sports, and after a little adjustment period where it’s weird and awkward to RUN ALL THE MILES, I feel good.  I admit, it IS harder to do 90% running instead of splitting between all 3 sports, but I’m rolling less hours overall, with a lot less intensity overall, so the load feels very similar at the end of the week.

I was riled up for awhile about it, but at this point, I’ve realized this – if you’re going to do non-traditional things, you have to forge your own ground and ignore the haters.  You have to march to the beat of your own drum.  I certainly wouldn’t recommend everyone jump up in miles the way I do, but this isn’t my first rodeo.

It started one year I experimented on a half marathon 6 weeks out of an olympic tri, and I PR’d it (the half marathon that is, it’s actually still my PR).  I was going to do it again the next year, but it got rained out.  2012, I tried the 70.3 to marathon, and while it was so, so, hard, I had a great experience and was hooked.  Last year, I did it again but picked one NINE weeks out.  I PR’d by 21 minutes.  If any of these had gone badly, I would not continue to do this.  I’m not a moron.

And, this doesn’t flatten me for weeks or months or anything.  The first marathon ended and I took a nice long offseason (but that was planned, I’d done 24 races in 12 months and it was time for a break).  Last year, I logged almost 60 miles in December not counting the marathon and I was already ramping up for a half in January.  So, this level of training didn’t kill me, injure me, or otherwise negatively affect me.

I also have the benefit this year that this is not my only shot.  Yeah, I want to PR and have a great day, and I’m on track to do so.  However, I’m signed up for another one at the end of February.  Getting up to fit enough to do a marathon and then having 3 more months to fine tune?  Pretty sure that’s going to be the breakthrough one.  However, I’m also going to nontraditionally train for that one too because I’ll be ramping up for an early season 70.3 as well.

But, I’m sure that run fitness can’t translate to bike and swim, so there’s no way I’m going to PR that one either, according to the internet.  I may as well just give up now.  Riiiiiight.

So, what happened this weekend?  Only, like, my best breakthrough run of this cycle.  I went out with a very flexible plan, and discovered my body had found it’s way out of the mileage haze.  It wanted to cruise faster than normal, so I let it.  The first 7 miles were between 11-11:22, and then I found another gear for the next 9 – between 10:20-10:40.  It felt natural, and my cadence and stride felt pretty great.  That was 16.  I decided to do two more to cool down, but my legs didn’t really want to slow, so those were 11:04 and 10:50, respectively.

The result: the fastest I’ve ever run anything over a half marathon by a LOT, and a huge confidence boost going into the next 3 weeks of taper.  I celebrated by stretching, an ice bath, a beer, and a delicious sandwich (yay, splurge day).

I do have some weirdness going on in my left shin/calf that I’m a little worried about.  I can run/walk/etc no problem, but I’m feeling a few twinges now and then.  I know it’s knotted all to hell (been doing lots of self massage and going to officially address that this week at the chiro and massage), but as a runner, anything in the shin is scary – we fear the hell out of stress fractures.  I don’t think this is it.  Pain that moves around and cycles generally is muscular, but it’s definitely a wakeup call to treat myself right.  I’m taking a few extra days off running this week and frankly, if it’s a wash and I swim and bike most of it, life will go on.  The hay is in the barn. Taper is for addressing these things.

However upset I was at the people on the forum, I actually am thankful for two reasons.  A great path to me to accomplish a goal – to be told I can’t.  So, thank you, random internet people.  You may have gotten into my brain for a bit, but I can ASSURE you that you’ll be in my brain in the latter marathon miles, and I’ll be fighting hard to prove you wrong with a shiny PR.


Also, if this is going to be limping through a marathon, I’ll be excited to see what I can do at the end of February with 3 more months to train.

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