Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Running motivation 6.

It has been a while since I posted a new running motivation. So, here you go!

Look at that! Even Buddha can inspire runners ;-)

Go do what you'll be!

~ Felice

PS: You can find more running motivation HERE.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Marathon training modifications.

Ten weeks down, six to go.

About two weeks ago, I took some time to review where I was with my training -- what has been working, what hasn't, what I think I need to change -- and then I modified my training plan to make the most of the remaining weeks before the marathon.

It was a good exercise for me and I'd recommend it for anyone training for a race. When I started my marathon training, I was at Point X in terms of endurance, speed, marathon-running ability. At the half-way point, I was at Point Y. Things had changed. I knew more about my strengths and weaknesses. I had adapted to the training so I needed to modify my schedule.

Overall, the modified plan is quite similar to the original. The basics remain the same. But I've made some tweaks and I'm happy with it so far -- let's hope I'm happy with it on marathon day!

Here's what the upcoming week looks like:

My second 20-miler is on Sunday! I'm already in "can't wait" mode. This marathon training is really bringing out my inner-geek!

Do you reflect on your training at the half-way point (or thereabouts)? 
Do you modify your plan? Think I'm crazy for doing so?

Have a great week, everyone!

~ Felice

Thursday, March 22, 2012

You know you're training for a marathon when . . .

1. You do laundry All. The. Time. and 90% of it is your running clothes.

2. Your nightmares about being late/unprepared for the marathon have progressed from the simple fear of "Eeek! I forgot to pack my running shoes!" to the more complicated "OK. I forgot my running shoes, sports bra, gels, and my water bottle. I'll tape the bottom of my feet so I can still run. I'll forgo the bra. Let me see if there is anyone I can sweet-talk into giving me gels and water . . . " Tape the bottoms of my feet? Who does that?

3. You buy snacks based on their potential ability to help keep your young sons happy while you run on the treadmill.

4. You buy gels by the 24-count box. And still run out.

5. One of your most visited sites on your browser history list is the McMillan Running Calculator.

6. You go out for drinks with your girlfriends who are also training for the marathon and you spend hours talking about that training.

7. Your biggest concern about an upcoming weekend away is how you'll fit in your 16-miler.

8. Nine miles on a Saturday seems like a short day.

9. You stress about race day weather. Starting 16 weeks before the race.

10. You fear that training success could jinx you on race day and spend hours contemplating how to avoid that.

Yup, that's how you know you're training for a marathon.

New Jersey Marathon, I'm coming at ya!

Do you stress about weather? Have crazy marathon dreams? 

Thanks for stopping by!

~ Felice


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Springtime and Larabars.

Happy spring!

We've been having serious spring weather here in upstate New York -- temps in the 70s all week. And sunny! It's great. There are only a few downsides, including that my younger son has discovered the sand table and decided that sand tastes great (so I'm digging sand out of his mouth all the time). He also likes to track it through the house. All over the house. Gosh, I love to sweep.

Anyway, spring. It's a wonderful season.

Aside from this being the first day of spring, it is also time to announce the winner of my Larabar giveaway! Thanks to everyone who entered. I could only pick one of you and I did so using random.org. The lucky winner is . . .

Kris at Random Thoughts

Congratulations, Kris! Shoot me an email (felicehalf at yahoo dot com) with your address and I'll get you your bars!

Enjoy the day, everyone.

~ Felice

Monday, March 19, 2012

Runnin' of the Green race report.

Time and again I have heard people say that marathon training made them lose their speed. I've heard it, read it, and started to worry about it. I have an aggressive time goal in mind for the New Jersey marathon and if I lose my speed, there's no way I'll be able to reach it.

So, for the Runnin' of the Green 4-mile race this weekend, I really wanted to finish in 30 minutes, which would be 7:30 miles. I felt confident I could do it and, if I did, I could believe that I still had enough speed in my legs to go after that 3:45 marathon.

I wanted the confidence boost. I wanted to shake out the worry that these longer, slower runs were making me slower.

The day was perfect -- warm but not too hot. I met up with a bunch of my friends, chatted a bit and then ran a quick 1.5-mile warm-up. Just before the start of the race, Amanda was able to get a quick picture of a few of a few Strong Running Mamas:

That's me, Suzy, Tami, Melissa and Amanda.
Then we were off! I told myself to run steady and shoot for even miles, if possible. It's almost inevitable that I run a wee bit fast in the beginning but I more-or-less held back on Saturday. I went through the first mile in 7:13. I slowed it down but, honestly, I was feeling so good it was tough to do. I went through the second mile in 7:19. I figured I could try to hold on to that pace as best I could, figuring I'd probably start to slow since I was ahead of my pace. Instead, I went through the third mile in 7:12. As expected, I slowed a bit in the last mile, covering it in 7:21

My official time was 29:05. And, although I did slow a bit in that last mile, it really wasn't a dramatic drop-off, like I sometimes experience in races.

I finished feeling extremely pleased. My time was 55 seconds faster than my goal! And a BIG 2+ minute PR! Best of all, I felt terrific the whole race (well, with the exception of the last little bit where I was really pushing the pace to finish strong). In fact, as I was running, I kept wondering when I was going to fall apart. Was it possible to be running as fast as I was and have it feel so good?

I guess it was. And, believe me, this race did wonders to boost my marathon confidence. With two months to go I feel like I'm in a very good place. Marathon training has not run the speed out of my legs. It's still there! And I'm going to need every bit of it on May 6th. I know that.

My Runnin' of the Green 4-mile race stats:

Overall time: 29:05 (7:16 pace!) (that's my chip time -- gun time was 29:09, 7:17 pace)
Overall place: 157 out of 663
Overall female place: 36 out of 348

Age group place (40-49): 8 out of 107

After the race, I booked it home to make it to a birthday party. Then, later in the afternoon I went out for 4+ miles -- just an easy recovery run to shake out my legs.

I hope you all had a great weekend!

~ Felice

PS: My Larabar giveaway ends tonight!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Five things Friday.

1. My post-20 miler recovery has been perfect. In fact, I've felt great ever since finishing the run. I kept thinking some DOMS would sneak up on me at some point during the week but, nope, that never happened. I got in three good runs this week -- all on the treadmill, unfortunately, even though the weather was great. A 6.5-mile tempo run on Tuesday, 5.1 easy miles with the last mile at marathon goal pace on Wednesday, 4.1 easy miles yesterday.

2. Tomorrow is all about speed! I'm running a 4-mile race, the Runnin' of the Green, and I'm hoping for a speedy time. I have a time goal that I would really like to hit and if I do I'll feel like my legs still have the speed they need to break 3:45 in the marathon. I'm hoping I'll have the luck of the Irish on my side tomorrow!

3. Since I'm racing on Saturday, I don't have a long run on my schedule this week. It feels weird not to be gearing up for 16, 18 or 20 miles. Instead, I will race tomorrow morning, go for a recovery run in the afternoon (for a total of 9-10 miles tomorrow) and then run an easy, short run on Sunday. Nothing crazy.

4. Wowza:

I needed new running shoes -- my current ones have about 400 miles on them. I love the Nikes that I've been wearing but when I went in to Fleet Feet on Monday to buy the same pair, they didn't have my size. So they ordered a pair for me and -- GULP! -- they are bright pink.

Bright. Pink.

Holy cow. Think they'll work with my green compression socks? We'll see . . . I might have to splurge on some new coordinating gear, though. Pink top. Pink shorts? Maybe I should stick with pink lip gloss.

5. Do you like Larabars? Want to get some for free? Check out my giveaway HERE.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

~ Felice

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Diary of a Mad fat Girl (review)

If you are looking for an easy, fun book to pack in your beach bag this summer, Diary of a Mad Fat Girl by Stephanie McAfee is it. The book is the story of Graciela "Ace" Jones, a big girl with a big personality in Bugtussle, Mississippi. Ace has plenty of issues: She sees herself as fat, she has an on-off relationship with the guy she's loved since she was 11, she's at odds with the school principal where she works. On top of that, one of her best friends has been framed and fired from her job and her other best friend is in a terrible marriage from which she needs to be saved.

The story is, as I've said, fun. It is also quite over-the-top and not all that believable but what does that matter when you're looking for a quick, easy, beachy-type read? Not much. The narrator, Ace Jones, has a strong, sassy voice and the story moves ever-forward through one twist and crazy turn after another, making the book one of those that you have a hard time putting down. It seemed that every time I got to the end of a chapter, I told myself I'd read just one more and that led to another one and another one and before I knew it I was done. Quick, easy, fun!

One other thing about Diary of a Mad Fat Girl. This book was originally self-published as an e-book in 2010. After debuting at #17 on the New York Times bestseller list for e-books, McAfee got an agent, who found her a print publisher, and the expanded print version of the book (which is what I read) was published last month by Penguin. It's a pretty cool success story!

Anyway, check out the book. It's fun!

~ Felice

Review disclaimer: This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Larabar giveaway!


For real. If you were to come to my house right now, you'd see Larabars in my pantry and in my diaper bag (for hunger emergencies). My favorite flavors are carrot cake, chocolate coconut chew, peanut butter cookie, and my numero uno fave, cashew cookie. Seriously delicious.

I like that Larabars are made from whole foods, with no more than nine ingredients. They are a bar you can feel good eating.

And I am far from the only one who thinks that. Dolvett from The Biggest Loser totally agrees with me -- he encouraged the contestants to snack on Larabars on last week's episode. Yay for Larabars!

In celebration of that . . . I have a giveaway for you!

Who wants to win 2 Cherry Pie bars and 2 Peanut Butter Cookie bars?

To enter:

Leave me a comment and let me know you'd like to enter. Feel free to let me know your favorite Larabar flavor, too!

Additional entries:

As always, you can gain extra entries. Remember, though, you must complete the required entry first! (Leave one comment per entry for the additional ones to count):

  • Follow this blog, or let me know that you already do (leave a comment
  • Follow me on Pinterest, or let me know that you already do  (leave a comment 
  • Pin the image from this post to share the giveaway on Pinterest (leave a comment  
  • Link to this giveaway on Twitter using this tweet  (leave a comment

Win tasty Larabars from @TheHappyRunner and @larabar http://tinyurl.com/7o2rjq9

  • Follow me on Twitter, or let me know that you already do  (leave a comment
  • Link to this giveaway from your blog  (leave a comment 
This giveaway will run through Monday, March 19 at 11:59pm EST and the winner will be announced on Tuesday.

Good luck!

To learn more about Larabar, visit their web site HERE. 

~ Felice

Review disclaimer: I have been sent new Larabar flavors from time to time to sample and review. I was invited to host this giveaway but was not otherwise compensated and the opinions expressed here are entirely my own.  

Monday, March 12, 2012

The validation of a 20-miler.

Remember on Friday how I wrote that I was incredibly excited about the 20-miler I had scheduled for Sunday? Well, I'm happy to report that the run did not disappoint.

Oh, no. Far from it.

My 20 mile run was pure awesome! And I could not possibly be happier about it.

I was excited for the run all week. Then, sometime Saturday evening when the reality of the time change (getting up at 6:30 felt like 5:30), the distance (20 miles!), and the route (two hilly loops) hit me, I started to get nervous. I knew I could do it but sometimes doubt still creeps in.

What if I hit the wall at mile 18? 
What if the hills are just too much? 
What if this little cold that I've had messes makes my breathing all wonky and I can't run? 
What if I over-sleep?
What if . . . ? 
What if . . . ?

The "what ifs" were totally unnecessary. On Sunday, I woke up, got myself together and headed out to meet Tami and Melissa at 7:30. I made a wrong turn and ended up being a little late but the two of them were, fortunately, waiting for me. We did a quick check to make sure we were ready and then we were off.

And the run started -- as if to foretell what we were in for -- on an uphill.

Now, let me tell you a little something about where we ran. First, Sunday was a beautiful day with highs in the afternoon in the 60s. At 7:10, when I left my house, my car thermometer read 39 degrees. As I drove to the meeting spot -- up on a MOUNTAIN -- the temperature dropped. And kept dropping. When I parked the car, the thermometer read 30 degrees.

But that's not all. There is no snow on the ground where I live. But on the mountain? Oh, there's snow. As I drove up and up and up, I started to notice the snow. First a little, then more and more. It's colder and snowier up there. And that is where we ran. In the cold, snowy hills.

As I said, though, Sunday was a nice day so by the end of the 20 miles, it was sunny and warm, even up there on the mountain.

Back to the run . . . 

The first 5 or so miles of the loop is pretty much all uphill (our total climb was 3839 feet). Most of it gradual, some of it steep. The three of us chatted away, though, so the hills weren't too bad. The second half of the loop is bliss: Mostly gradual downhills, with some flat areas. We ran the loop twice, to end up with 20.35 miles in 3:22 (9:56 pace).

Remarkably, with all of the hills, I felt great. I honestly could have kept going and I felt that I was still strong on the uphills in the second loop. It was a wonderful feeling! I credit my running partners, a good steady pace, and the 3 gels taken at the right time (miles 5, 10, 15).

Afterward, I was tired but not overwhelmingly so. And today my body feels absolutely fine. I admit that my hamstrings and quads are a little tired but that is it. Nothing more.

In other words: My first 20 miler rocked! It was a huge confidence booster and it really validated my training plan. I think that if my training had not been going well, and I had not been building up properly, the 20 miler would have been harder. I have two more 20s on my schedule and I'm already looking forward to them. After this hilly run, I can guarantee that at least my last 20 will be run on a flat route, though, to better prepare for the flat New Jersey marathon course.

Today is a full-on rest day. These legs deserve it!

Hope you all had a great weekend! Thanks for stopping by -- GIVEAWAY coming up tomorrow so come back then!

~ Felice

Friday, March 9, 2012

Five things Friday.

1. This was supposed to be a week of monster mileage. Instead, it was a week of skipped runs. A crummy illness landed in Chez Happy Runner and I ended up too sick to run on Tuesday and Wednesday. Well, I ran a wimpy little 1.5 miles on Tuesday, ending the run when my light-headedness got the best of me. But Wednesday? Nope, no running. This body just wasn't having it.

2. After taking the sick days, I came back yesterday with some stellar speedwork. I warmed up for a mile then ran 4 mile repeats -- 3 at a little faster than marathon goal pace and 1 at 5K pace -- and cooled down for a half mile, making the total run 6.5 miles. It felt great to run fast!

3. MY FIRST 20-MILER IS SUNDAY! OK, it is not technically my first, since I did run that marathon waaay back in 2004. But it is my first one of this training cycle and it pretty much feels like my first ever. And, oddly, I am So FLIPPING EXCITED. I honestly can't wait!

4. The weather is supposed to be perfect on Sunday. I'm running with Tami and Melissa and we're going to run a hilly 10 mile loop, twice. Let's hope everything goes well!

5. I don't even have a #5. I guess my mind is just focused on that 20-miler!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

~ Felice

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sport Science review.

Two things about running shirts:

1. After a few runs, no matter what*, mine start to stink.

2. Tech fabrics are awesome but, you know what? Sometimes it feels good to run in an old, worn-in cotton t-shirt.

Sport Science sent me one of their t-shirts that promises to a) not stink and b) feel like a friendly, old cotton t-shirt. Sounds good, right?

And it was! They sent me the Smarter Women's V-neck long sleeve dri-fit shirt in heather sky:

I went for a size medium and it fit, for the most part. I am one of those people who has trouble with tops. Generally, if a top fits well in the chest/trunk, it is too small in the shoulders and arms. I guess I have broad shoulders and long arms. Such a drag . . . 

The Sport Science top fit perfectly in the shoulders. The seams sat right where they should. Yay! But, the arms were a tad short and the overall fit was a little loose. A good loose, though. And I should add that the length was great. For someone with shorter arms, the shirt would probably fit just right.

So, that's the fit. How was it to run in? I'd say it was really good! I've worn the top a few times, including for the Winter Marathon Relay and both of my recent 18-milers. The material is soft and comfy and I have not had a stitch of chafing from the top. I sweat like crazy while running and the shirt has fine wicking ability.

Here I am in the top, finishing my leg of the Winter Marathon Relay.
The big question is, does the shirt stink? So far, no. I've worn it about a half-dozen times and probably washed it each time within a day or two of wearing it. And so far it still smells as it did when I got it.

Overall, I like the top and I'm happy to have it in my shirt rotation. The shirt that I tried is available for $28. Sport Science has lots of other tops that you can find HERE. Check them out! If you like a cotton t-shirt feel with technology to wick your sweat, these shirts might just be for you!

Have you tried Sport Science tops? What did you think of them?

Thanks for stopping by!

~ Felice

Review disclosure: I was sent a top to review but was not otherwise compensated and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.

* Yes, I've tried all the tricks. The special sports wash -- didn't work. Vinegar added to the wash -- worked on a few things, but hasn't worked lately. Washing my running gear as soon as possible after wearing -- didn't seem to make a difference. I believe the stench is simply embedded in the tech fabric. Yuck. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tips for awesome long runs

Long runs can be tough. And yet, if you looking to run a half-marathon, full marathon, or just want to improve your endurance, they are a necessary part of training.

Ideally, as you'd go through a training cycle all of your long runs would be nothing but awesome. You'd cover all your miles, hit your paces, and enjoy the many hours spent running.

This doesn't always happen, does it? No. In order for all of that long run awesomeness to fall into place, you have to prepare and set yourself up for long-run success.

Recently, I took stock about what has worked for me on my long runs and I thought I'd share my tips in case they might help you as well. So, here you go!

Happy Runner Tips For Awesome Long Runs!

1. Grab your pals!

The first time I trained for a marathon, I ran alone. Every. Single. Run. Alone. It was fine and I don't mind running alone. But, man. Running 18 miles with a friend -- or many friends -- is WAY better. Way. Running pals make the miles fly by and help you through the tough spots. They can give you a boost when your energy starts to dip. Running with friends is probably the single most important ingredient for my long run success this time around. 

I love my running buddies!


2. Compression rules!

I can't say enough about my CEP compression socks. They are The Best. I love them. I've been wearing them for my long runs for about a year and I truly believe they have helped my legs feel better during the runs and afterward. I usually only wear them for runs and races of 15K or more.

Here I am sporting the green CEPs in my half-marathon last April:

I don't stop once my run is over, though. After all of my long runs (and after I clean up from them), I pull on a lighter pair of compression socks and wear them for the rest of the day to enhance my recovery. I highly recommend wearing compression socks for your long runs and races! (HERE is some information on the benefits of compression socks -- increased blood flow, etc.)

3. Drink up!

I looooooove my smoothies! I pack mine with yogurt, berries, chlorella, flax, chia seeds -- and credit them for giving me extra energy throughout the day.

4. Speed up!

Don't curse me, please.

I just simply believe that running too slow causes your running form to suffer. So, I tend to go out on my long runs at the faster end of my recommended pace range and I believe my runs are better because of that. I also try to pick up the pace at the end, or add on a few strides. This helps my legs run the way they are supposed to run. It probably doesn't work for everyone, but it works for me. 

(Now, I'm not speeding through my 18-milers, believe me. I'm just running a 9:30 pace, rather than 10:30 and that's made a difference. I feel better. I'm not slogging.)

5. Gel on!

For me, Chocolate Clif Shot Gels are the thing. I take one every 5 miles during my long runs (5/10/15 miles), which equates to about every 45-50 minutes. I carry water in a hand-held bottle so I'm ready to gel at any time. Being consistent about when I take my gels has helped my body become used to them and has helped me to avoid cramps.

6. Get out early!

I am not a morning person. Not. At. All. But here I am recommending that you hit the road early. In the past, I'd go out for my long runs at 9 or 10 or whenever I found the time. Now, I'm getting up and going early. This is good for two key reasons: 

1) I don't have time to eat a breakfast that needs to digest for 2 hours before I can run. When I'm meeting people for a long run at 7, I have to grab some coffee, water and maybe a banana while I'm getting ready. No dilly-dallying. 

2) Marathons (and half-marathons) tend to be scheduled for early in the morning. Doing all of my long runs right around projected race start time preps my body to run long and well come marathon day. Also, the consistency in my timing is making each long run better, because my body is getting more and more used to running long at that time. Win!

7. Roll out!

The foam roller, a tennis ball, and the Stick have been my friends for a long time now. Once I started training for half-marathons and marathons they became some of my best friends. I use the Stick before every run. I foam roll after every run. I use the tennis ball to break up tight spots as soon as I notice them. (Read: All the time.)

Taking care of little aches and tight spots prevents them from becoming injuries. A major key to long run success!

There you have it, folks. My tips for long run awesomeness! 

What is your favorite long run tip or routine? How do you make your long runs awesome?

~ Felice

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Short month, long runs: A February recap.

At the beginning of the month, I recapped January and wrote about how February had a lot to live up to. Looking back, I'm happy to report that it was successful. Not only did February live up to January, I'd venture to say it surpassed it! It was a short month full of long runs. And good ones, at that!

I upped my mileage this month, with long runs of 15.1, 17, and 18 miles. I also ran a right-on-target 11 mile race and had two decent tempo runs and one good speed workout. I've also found that running 5 days a week works well for me. I take two rest days each week where I don't do anything close to running. Sometimes I'll do a kettlebell workout, or some weights/squats/lunges/push-ups but that's about it.

February stats:

Running (miles): 134.9
Racing: 1 -- The Winter Marathon Relay (11-mile leg) 
Cross training: 7

That monthly mileage is my highest monthly mileage EVER. As in, my whole life. Considering I have even longer runs on the plan for March, and there are two additional days, I'm expecting I'll be able to report another lifetime high this time next month. 

9.5 weeks to the marathon! But who's counting?!?!

Thanks for stopping by. Have a good day!

~ Felice

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