chicago marathon training recap: weeks 1-4

as many of you know, kevin and I are both training for the Chicago Marathon on October 9. this will be our second full marathon (I did chicago last year, and k did des moines), but our first time working with a coach! after such a positive experience with the red dirt running company lincoln half marathon training program, we decided to hire the coach, sarah madsen, to write us a marathon plan and work with us throughout the training period.


we met to discuss our goals and go over what we wanted in a plan. for our first marathon, we both just wanted to finish (and I was hurt going into mine, so I didn’t even know if that would happen), but this year, we’re both hoping to improve our times significantly. we followed an 18-week training plan fairly closely last year, but i’ll admit, even though I almost always put in the mileage, I didn’t always do the workouts (especially tempo runs, etc.) as prescribed. i’m a pretty dedicated runner and occasionally enjoy nerding out over planning workouts, but generally speaking, i more like the idea of someone else planning them for me (especially knowing they are aware of my goals) and checking in with me along the way to keep me accountable and to make sure it’s not too easy or too hard.

sarah recommended and prepared a 16-week plan, which we were comfortable with since we’d kept up with running a few times a week after our half marathon in may, and continued to do strength training and generally stay active. we also got a 4-week pre-training plan, which was a great way to get back into a routine and reintroduce speedwork and other workouts after a few weeks off. we did quite a few of the workouts during this period, but didn’t stress over it, and attended lots of fun runs, rode our bikes a lot, rested when we felt like it, and got our minds and bodies ready for what’s to come.

i won’t be posting the whole plan here (but I highly recommend considering sarah if you’re interested in a customized plan!), or all the runs i’ve completed, but thought i’d share some overall thoughts, favorite workouts, hard moments, and the like. we’re in week 6 of the program now, so i’ll share on weeks 1-4 for now, then 5-8 in another couple of weeks, etc., etc.

generally speaking, our plan follows this structure:
monday – easy w/strides
tuesday – hill repeats or track workout + strength training
wednesday – recovery run (super easy pace)
thursday – tempo/interval/pace workout + strength training
friday – rest
saturday – long run + core workout
sunday – rest or cross-train

week 1 – june 20-26 / mileage – planned: 32, completed: 30.66

the first week of training went great! i liked getting into the routine of what most of our weeks will look like – 5 days of running (monday, tuesday, wednesday, thursday, and saturday) with strength training on workout days (tuesday, thursday). i completed all the weekday runs (6, 5, 5, and 6 miles), and got in two good strength training sessions (I’m using fitness blender videos primarily).

I was particularly worried about the “steady state” run scheduled for this week (2 mi w/u, 2 mi @ steady state – 7:30-7:50, 2 mi c/d) because it had been awhile since i’d run “fast” (even though my half marathon pace was in that range). the run was challenging, but not impossible, and i hit my paces just fine, giving me the confidence to succeed in the harder tempo workouts to come.

our long run this week was scheduled as 10 miles, but we had a 10k race that morning, so i ran the race, then cooled down for another couple miles to bring my mileage up a bit, but since i’d raced hard, didn’t worry about getting to 10.

13392817_1104652172959016_1524597602_n

week 2 – june 27-july 3 / mileage – planned: 35, completed: uh, 6?

week 2 was a bit of a wash, running wise, but we knew that going in. we were on vacation in colorado this week, so we planned to do some running, but didn’t want to miss out on hiking opportunities, biking around fort collins, and generally enjoying time with our family.

we ended up only getting in one 6-mile run, but we also did two fairly strenuous 9-mile hikes, biked almost 25 miles one day around fort collins, strength trained a couple of times, plus took countless short walks, so we hardly felt guilty over it. (ok, I might have felt slightly guilty, but I can get obsessive about training plans). considering how active we were on vacation, and that we did all of that at elevation, i don’t think we lost much, if any, fitness — plus, it was early on in our training.

running at elevation (we were in winter park – 9,500 ft!) is no joke, but i’d take that fresh, dry mountain air any day over our summer humidity here!

13561699_1736897769925943_342660602_n

week 3 – july 4-10 / mileage – planned: 38, completed: 33.5

we got back from vacation on july 4, and missed a run that morning, but otherwise, i was mostly back on track for this week. I didn’t get in as much strength training as i normally shoot for, but did get in both workouts (strides and a short tempo), and even fit it in the schedule to run at the weekly scriptown run that we’d missed the last couple of weeks.

this week’s long run was scheduled for 14 miles, but we did the 12-mile angry cow heifer hustle trail race on this day, so were a couple of miles short (the course ended up being around 11 miles, so i got in around 12.5 with a cool down). again, since it was fairly early on in our training, and since trail running tends to be harder than road running, i wasn’t too worried about coming in a few miles short this week, but was looking forward to getting totally back on track for week 4. we got in a 8 mile bike ride as cross training the day after our trail race, too!

13658618_1877480352479683_1326846834_n

week 4 – july 11-17 / mileage – planned: 38, completed: 38.17!

week 4 it all fell into place again, and i completed the planned mileage, plus strength training on tuesday and thursday. i was nervous about being able to get in strength training after my runs on these days, but so far, i’ve been able to get in a 25-40 minute video (or two short videos) twice a week. conceivably i could do it in the evenings, but i know i’m less likely to do it then, and it’s nice having it out of the way in the mornings, and it hasn’t affected me getting to work on time. (mostly it just means not hitting snooze when the alarm goes off).

our long run for week 4 was again 14 miles, with miles 5-9 at marathon pace. we normally do long runs on saturdays, but opted to do it friday this week since friday was my birthday and we had a late night planned. although it was challenging after four days of running in a row, especially with thursday being a workout day – i’m so glad i got up early (4am…) and powered through so i could enjoy my birthday stress-free. saturday we were pretty lazy, but we got in a 15 mile bike ride on sunday as cross-training.

13741011_785908491509570_1534405953_n

if you’d like to follow along, check back in a few weeks for my weeks 5-8 update. i’ll also talk a bit more about my strength training, nutrition, etc. then as well!

Posted in adventures. | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

lake manawa

it’s been an extremely hot and humid summer in omaha this year, and one weekend back in june particularly miserable – we decided the only was it would be tolerable would be to be in the water. we looked into a couple of local pools, but ultimately, decided to make the 15 minute drive to lake manawa over in council bluffs, IA. we picked up some sandwiches on our way, packed a cooler full of beer, brought along some reading material, and were on our way!

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

i’d been to the lake one other time back in college, so didn’t remember it much. i think we paid $3/each to get in for the day, and although it was fairly busy, we didn’t have any trouble finding a place to set up on the beach, and still had some privacy from other groups. we spent most of the afternoon just laying out in the sun, drinking, and of course, some good old-fashioned people watching. after awhile, we kept seeing people with various tubes and floaties, and were wishing we’d picked one up on our way there, but then realized they sold them there. we thought they’d be pretty pricy on-site, but we actually scored a double-seater tube with a small cooler in the middle for $30! SOLD. we spent the rest of the afternoon floating around on the lake in our tube like the rest of the cool kids.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

a super fun afternoon – it’s not the fanciest lake and doesn’t have many amenities, but it’s nice that it’s so close and we can just pop in the car on a whim and head over there for a few hours. looking forward to taking our floatie out for another spin soon!

Posted in adventures. | Tagged , | Leave a comment

memorial day weekend

this is so belated, but it’s been such a wonderful summer (which is why I’m behind), and I want to make sure to document all of our adventures! back around memorial day, we had just bought a bunch of new camping equipment for our june trip to colorado, and were hoping to test it out. we waited a bit too long to book something, though, and most of the nearby state recreation areas were full. we contemplated a walk-up site, but then there was rain in the forecast, and we had second thoughts, so decided to stay home. of course, after all that, it ended up being perfect weather and we were bummed we’d missed out on the camping opportunity…so we decided to post up in our own backyard!

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

cheesy, yes, but it was actually a great, low-stress way to practice putting up our tent, trying out our sleeping bags, and figuring out what other gear we might still need. this was actually my first time ever camping in a tent, so i appreciated being close to home in case we got too hot/cold/out of drinks.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

we spent most of the evening poring over colorado maps planning out a few hikes and places we wanted to see during our winter park trip. and of course, drank some beer – i was super happy to find evil twin’s ‘ryan & the gosling’ at our local bottle shop (beertopia); aside from having the best beer name ever, it was also very good.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

other than that, we just spent some time reading and talking and generally enjoying life under the twinkly lights. i’m sure we must have looked totally ridiculous to our neighbors, but it was such a fun experience and i’m so glad we did it!

the next morning (sunday), we woke up to another beautiful day and wanted to do something outside. at this point, we were on a little break from a running plan before starting marathon training, so decided to go for a bike ride. i mapped out a ride that was about 17 miles – across the south omaha bridge, along the trails in iowa for a bit, then back over to omaha on the pedestrian bridge, and home.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

once we got going, though, we were loving being on the iowa trails and started seeing signs for a few other destinations on the trail, so we decided to keep going. our first stop was big lake park in crescent, just a few miles north past the pedestrian bridge turnoff. the lake is small, but really pretty!

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

on our way to big lake park, we started to see signs for the lewis & clark monument and park – we’d heard of it before, knew it existed, but wasn’t sure exactly where it was or how to get there. it was just a few more miles past big lake park, so we decided to trudge on and see if we could make it there. the next few miles getting there were beautiful and super scenic, but basically all uphill – our quads were definitely not prepared for that kind of climbing, but we eventually made it! the views were more than worth it – it was a super clear today and we could practically see the whole city from up there. definitely looking forward to riding (or maybe driving…) up there again sometime soon.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

we’d brought a few snacks along for the ride, but were working up quite an appetite at this point, so once we got back over the pedestrian bridge and into downtown, decided to stop at local for a beer and some brunch. we’d gone about 25 miles at this point, and figured that if we went back the long way (back over the bridge and along the trails in iowa), we might be able to get close to 40 miles for the day.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

we did it, but those last few miles up L street were kind of a strugglefest. all in all, it was a great three-day weekend…and i’m already dreaming of cooler weather so we can camp in the backyard and go for long bike rides again!

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Posted in adventures. | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

sunday funday in the loess hills

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

we’ve had so many fun adventures lately, and i’m so behind on blogging! a few weeks ago we bought our first ever brand new car, a 2016 subaru forester, who we have named susie. the next day, we were itching to take susie on her first adventure somewhere, so we decided to head out to hitchcock nature center, because being outdoorsy is just what you do once you own a subaru. it’s a non-negotiable.

hitchcock is awesome because it’s only about a 20 minute drive from omaha but feels like a whole other world. it’s full of great trails that range from easy to difficult (just steep, not technical). we set out to hike for about 2 hours and ended up going around 7 miles (we mixed in a few minutes of trial running), stopping for lots of pictures, water (in our new camelbaks!), and snacks, obvs.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

iowa is so green and gorgeous in the springtime.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

we had tentatively planned on visiting a nearby winery after our hike, but decided we probably needed some lunch beforehand. we drove a few miles back into town (crescent, IA) and found a great diner called Henry’s, where we enjoyed some delicious breakfast food.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

after our stop at Henry’s we headed just a few doors down to loess hills winery. nebraska/iowa wines are typically nothing to write home about, but we like trying new places and supporting local businesses, so we gave it a go. we tasted a few different wines and landed on a “dry” red called the sbr, which we got a bottle of to enjoy outside. we grabbed a blanket out of our car and spent the afternoon laying on the winery lawn!

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 preset

all around, a lovely day in the loess hills area and a great first adventure with susie the subaru! if you’re looking for a quick getaway from omaha sometime, we highly recommend hitchcok nature center, henry’s diner, and the loess hills winery!

Posted in adventures. | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

2016 ragnar so cal race recap

last month (april 1-2), kevin and i participated in our first ragnar relay race! if you don’t know, ragnar puts on a series of relay races across the country – teams of 12 spend two days (yes, overnight) each running three legs of an approximately 200 mile point-to-point course. we did the southern california edition, which started in huntington beach and ended on coronado in san diego!

we flew in a couple days before the race started so we could spend a little time with my family. i was so thankful to be able to squeeze this time in to see baby sister after four months apart! my dad also took us to check out a new brewery in redlands – perfect carb loading for the race the next day :)

Photo Mar 31, 10 23 14 PMProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

everything about ragnar screams crazy, but possibly the craziest part about this experience is that we only knew each other, plus two other teammates. I worked with our friend Johnnie back in Tucson, and when we asked us to be on a team with he and his fiance, Kristin, back in November, we didn’t really think twice about it! the rest of the team was comprised of their friends, all from Arizona. we met up with the team on their way to huntington from tucson on thursday evening, and joined them in the vans we rented for the weekend — here’s team Beer We Come all sunshine and smiles before having to run 200 miles.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

we got down to orange county around dinnertime, checked into our hotel, and went out for a team dinner at a nearby restaurant. kevin and i headed to bed pretty early in hopes of a good last night of rest before the race, but the freeway noise kept us up most of the night. we were up early friday morning to head down to the starting line to check in Van #1 (first 6 runners) and send off our first runner (kevin!). not a bad view to start the morning!

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

we were short one runner on our team, so three people from our team filled in and each did a fourth leg as well. kevin filled in and kicked things off by running the first leg, a short 2-miler mostly along the huntington beach bike path. for some reason, I was worried about how much time there would be to pass in between the times that I was running, but I was amazed at how fast the two days went by once we started.

since I was runner 7, my first leg (12 miles) didn’t start until about 1:00pm, which was unfortunately right in the heat of the day, and my route did not have much shade. I was hoping to average around 8:00s, and was able to for the first 8 or so miles, but then had to slow down, and even stop and walk a few times because I was so overheated and dehydrated — definitely should have carried my own water because the course water stops were few and far between. I knew this would be the hardest leg to get through, since it was the longest and hottest, so I just tried to power through as best as I could. it felt amazing being done and passing the baton off to kevin to run next, and I even got a special medal for running the longest leg of the course!

race_2198_photo_32788531Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

kevin was up next with about 9.5 miles and had a tough time on his leg as well – it was just so much hotter than we had run in throughout the past few months, and we also aren’t used to running in the middle of the afternoon. plus, his route was pretty hilly! I think we were both pretty relieved to get our longest legs out of the way first – although we got more tired, it still felt much easier for the rest of the time after those first legs!

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset 

after the four other runners in our van finished their legs, we had a few hour break before any of us had to run again (while the other van was running). we headed to a nearby chipotle for a real meal, changed clothes and cleaned up a bit, and then headed to the next exchange point and tried to get some sleep. kevin and I ended up just laying in sleeping bags outside the van for a couple hours, but didn’t really sleep – I’ve never been a good napper, and since I was first up to run once the other van finished, I was worried if I did fall asleep I’d be too groggy and not feel refreshed.

we were all a little nervous about the nighttime legs but for the most part they ended up being really fun! I took off at around 11:30/midnight and my three miles went by super fast. I was worried about getting lost and not seeing any other runners, but thanks to all the reflective gear and lights they make you wear, I was always in eyesight of at least a few others out on the course. we did have one small snafu where we went to the wrong exchange and were waiting and waiting for our runner before realizing we needed to be at the previous exchange. it was a little stressful there for a little while, and probably augmented by how deliriously tired we were at that point, but we got it sorted out and back on track, and finished out our night legs!

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

we then headed to our next exchange where we’d meet up with the other van after they’d finished their third legs. we had about 4 hours from when we got there to when it would be my turn to run again. there wasn’t enough room for all of us to sleep in the van, so kevin and I set up camp outside in sleeping bags again. just as we got comfortable, a race volunteer came over and told us we weren’t allowed to sleep in the parking lot for safety reasons, and directed us to a designated sleeping area. it was pretty much pitch black, so we couldn’t really see, and just wandered around until we found a spot that felt good (we were essentially on a beach). we dozed in and out for a couple hours, and woke up to slamming doors to realize that we’d inadvertently slept right near the porta potties, and the lines for the bathrooms had started to form around us. pretty awkward but we laughed it off and got up and got ready for our third legs to begin!

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

my third and final leg was just under 10 miles and was the leg I was least prepared for. I didn’t review the map or elevation much, or really have a time goal. my legs were pretty sore at this point and our team was actually doing really well on time, so we all decided to take it pretty easy for our last legs. I knew mine would be along the coast, so I ended up stopping quite a few times to capture the breathtaking views! the leg turned out to be much hillier than I expected, and had road, path, dirt trail, and stairs, so I never got used to the terrain. regardless, I still really enjoyed this leg, but of course, it felt pretty amazing to pass the baton one last time to kevin and then be done for good!

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

the rest of the morning and early afternoon was spent relaxing and cheering on the rest of the runners in our van. the other van had finished at this point and met up with us at some of the remaining exchange points, and we swapped stories from the previous couple days, since we hadn’t seen them much. once our last runner started, we began making our way to the finish line area, where we planned to run into the finish line together as a team. we made it there and parked with just a few minutes to spare — there was so much traffic! we spotted danny and all ran in to the finish line together – a pretty cool moment!

race_2198_photo_32796006

the finish line was right on the beach at coronado, so we hung out there for awhile and enjoyed pizza and beers in the beautiful weather, before heading back to our hotel and going out for a proper dinner (which all of us were basically too tired to eat).

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

we all crashed pretty early, and woke up the next morning sore but ready to continue the celebrations. before many of us had to go our separate ways, the whole team met for a delicious brunch full of ridiculous bloody mary’s. (mine had a grilled cheese sandwich on it!)

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

then, a few of us who had more time to spend in san diego headed to stone brewery, which was conveniently very close to the airport, so we pretty much hung out there for the afternoon sampling beers and recapping the weekend.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

all in all, we are SO GLAD we said yes to our crazy friend johnnie back in november when he asked us to be a part of their team. it was so great getting to see him and his fiancé kristin, and to make a few new friends as well. we’ll definitely be back for another ragnar someday, and it’s an experience I highly recommend for every runner/adventurer if you get the chance!

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Posted in adventures. | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment