Wednesday, June 29, 2011

In summertime it's toughy

Weeks 6 and 7 of Marathon Training

Things haven’t gone exactly as planned, but that doesn’t mean they’ve gone badly. That’s the great thing about running: there are benefits everywhere you look. If you don’t follow your training plan exactly it’s not the end of the world because running still improves your emotional and physical health, it still makes you more beautiful, a more productive worker, a more patient spouse.

Week 6

Monday: Planned: easy 6 Reality: 6

Tuesday: Planned: rest. Core and arms. Reality: Big fat 0

Wednesday: Planned: 7 miles, 5 at tempo pace Reality: 7 miles, 5 at tempo!

Thursday: Planned: 6 miles Reality: 4 miles with Abby. Hamstring pain perhaps from the night before.

Friday: Planned: 3 miles or cross training Reality: 0. Stressful day at work and then a dinner with friends from Bmore. The alcohol was needed and totally worth it.

Saturday: Planned: early am 6 miles and then at 7pm a trail run with Charles. Reality: Slept in and then did 10.5 mile train run with Charles in the evening. Very hilly. Charles, who had never run more than a 10k in his life had a great run. He whooped my ass!

Sunday: Planned: swimming Reality: 8.5 miles along the beach. Felt great.

Total: 36 miles

Week 7

There wasn’t really a plan because Charles had his operation on Thursday, which meant I was rushing to finish work projects from Monday to Wednesday and then spent two days at the hospital. The hospital, and being with Charles over these first few days of recovery, have certainly put marathon training in perspective for me. If I make it to Dublin that’s great, and if not that’s quite fine too. Being able to run is a privilege and I want to be able to run a few times a week for the rest of my life.

That said, I only ran 19 miles during week 7, but I did do a local 10k in the scorching sun. I ran a 56:54, which is almost two minutes slower than my PR, but was still a record of sorts considering the weather and my exhaustion. Blood, and lots of it, just tires me.


I’m not sure that summer is the best time to train for a marathon. The heat is killer and we have visitors and vacations that put a monkey wrench in training plans. Perhaps I should have waited and set my sights on the Barcelona Marathon in March of 2012, but I love the idea of running in Ireland amongst other pasty white people. Certainly, training through the winter and doing a local marathon would be easier, but I also think the first one will be awful so just go ahead and get it over with. My dad will be here for the second half of July and it will be nice to do some running with him. I am a little nervous about getting in long runs in the States this August. The logistics of running (water fountains, safety) are just so much easier here and it will be hard to say to my family, “I only see you twice a year, but tomorrow I’ll be busy for about four hours!” Hopefully I can talk my family into participating: running, biking with water, or picking me up in a car in case of heatstroke or any other emergency…

Week 8 Plan

Monday cross train

Tuesday 6 miles

Wednesday 6 miles

Thursday 5 miles

Friday cross-train ARMS and CORE

Saturday: 14 miles

Sunday: swimming and/or 3 mile recovery run

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Let Me Eat Cake

First off, some non-running highlights from the weekend. This Sunday Gabriele and Gabriele arrived to Barcelona. These guys, both seventy-three-years-old, left Switzerland on May 29th and rode all the way here. That’s quite far and quite fast on mountain bikes. We celebrated their arrival with paella at Els Pescadors.

I did a lot of cooking this weekend, but my greatest achievement was my peach cake, a simple adaptation of my mom’s traditional apple cake recipe. I didn’t do much measuring and simply replaced white flour with whole wheat and switched the apples for some juicy peaches. Juicy is bit of misnomer here; the peaches were about to rot, which, I think, is why the vegetable lady gave Charles a whole basket of them for free. I thought, what can we possibly do with so many peaches so I made peach salsa and then peach cake. The salsa turned out alright, the cake is absolutely delicious, a perfect texture and bursting with sweet cinnamony peachy goodness.


3 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup sugar / 1 cup applesauce (Original recipe for all sugar, but applesauce works well as a substitute)

3 teaspoons baking powder

4 eggs

1/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup fresh squeezed oj

6 very ripe peaches

Some extra sugar (I used all natural cane) and some cinnamon

1. Peel and slice the peaches. Place them in a shallow bowl and sprinkle them with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Set aside.

2. Mix dry ingredients and then add eggs, oil and orange juice.

3. Pour half the batter into a greased bunt pan and then top with a layer of peaches. Pour in the rest of the batter and finish off with another layer of fruit.

4. Bake at 350 for about an hour.

5. Let cool for several hours. Brew a strong pot of coffee and enjoy!

Week 5 Marathon Training

Monday: Planned: 5 easy Reality: Big fat 0.

Tuesday: Rest from running. Arms and abs. Reality: Big fat 0. Why? Well, I got home late on Monday night and thought I’d just run the next day, but the next day we had terrible thunderstorms and I forgot my socks and shorts for the gym. Big fail!

Wednesday: 7 miles, 5 miles at Tempo Pace Reality: 5 miles at lunch. The sun was winking at me from behind a cloud around 2pm so I decided to get a quick run at lunch.

Thursday: 5 miles. Arms and abs. Reality: The tempo! Kind of. 6.2 miles in 58 minutes. I was tired though and so hungry. I ate lunch around 2 pm and went running at 8:30 with a growling tummy, not a good plan.

Friday: run 3 / swim Reality: 0. I was super sleepy and grouchy because I had a work dinner at 9 and “nothing to wear.” Instead of running I tried to take a nap and then ironed my clothes for the dinner.

Saturday: 14 miles Reality: 13.3 miles. The first half of this run went well, but then I got really thirsty and could feel the salt on my face and the beginnings of chafing. When I got to the Hotel Vela, (about 11 miles) I really wanted to just call it a day and walk home, but I gave a myself a talking to and made it to the post office, where I stopped and basically bathed in a water fountain. I did do arms and core once home.

Sunday: swimming Reality: 5 miles with Charles sans Garmin. This was a great one. Sometimes it’s so nice to run without that stupid watch and when I keep up with Charles I know I’m running a fairly decent pace. Do you ever feel like the Garmin can bring you down?

Week 6 plans

Monday: easy 6

Tuesday: rest. Core and arms.

Wednesday: 7 miles, 5 at tempo pace

Thursday: 6 miles

Friday: 3 miles or cross training

Saturday: early am 6 miles and then at 7pm a trail run with Charles. We’re not so sure about the distance, but I think it’s about 6 or 7 miles.

What do you all think about splitting up a long run? This week it’s the best I can do with my schedule and the heat...

Sunday: swimming

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Running Abroad

A quick mid-week post after a sucky day at work, a mediocre run and delightful dinner.

Let’s compare running in the US versus running in Spain.

Shoes: USA wins. Running shoes in Spain are much more expensive than in the US and Road Runners Sports has, woe is me, stopped shipping internationally. So I’ll just be ordering shoes to my parents’ house and picking them up in August. I’m 32; this kind of thing makes me feel like I’m still in college.

Watering holes: Spain, well Barcelona, wins. There are public water fountains throughout the entire city. I’ve carried that handheld throughout New York, Maryland and Mississippi and that just tires me out and makes me feel all crooked.

Spot-a-pots: Spain, well Barcelona, wins again. During the summer months the beach is lined with public restrooms and you can go in any bar or ice-cream shop all sweaty and just head straight back to the can. Why no one says, “Senora, can I help you?” I have no idea, let’s just chalk that up to cultural difference and be glad!

The peer group: USA wins because running is more popular there and thus there are more slow people like moi. Here runners are a committed, serious breed and while that does make for a lot of attractive men doing intervals in the park, it makes a chubby pale girl feel a little lonely at times.

Decathlon: Spain wins because they got it and the USA just don’t! Decathlon is paradise, a cheap sports store with anything you could possibly need for camping, swimming, biking, running. And they have generic Bodyglide for about a third of what you would pay in the US. (And generic gels for people who can eat them without puking.)

Races: A tie here. In Spain the entry fees are much cheaper and there are some amazing courses, but the organization is not always great, which means sometimes there is a lack of water or post-race snacks. The few times I’ve run even small races in the States I’ve just been blown away by the organization and all those delicious treats (bagels! chili! beer! hot apple cider!!! cookies! donuts!?!)

Weather: Please take into account I’m basically comparing Barcelona and Baltimore here and I’m going to give the point to Barcie. I can take the heat, sure, it slows you down, but poco a poco you get acclimated. I find dressing for the cold East coast winters a real challenge. It’s freezing for the first mile and then I just start sweating in all those layers.

Catcalls: Obviously, Spain takes the cake in sheer quantity on this one. If a man calls out to you in the States it’s usually kind of threatening or weird, whereas along the streets of Barcelona it’s pretty common and somehow more lighthearted. For years I would just tell myself that the piropo is part of Spanish culture, don’t get all worked about it, but the truth of the matter is sometimes when I’m running alone late at night I really don’t want to hear people’s drunken hisses. (Obviously the whole Euro – American debate about what constitutes sexual harassment has taken on a whole new life with the DSK arrest, but that’s for another post.)

Have you run in different countries or different regions of the US? When you consider where you would like to live in the future do you take possible running routes into consideration?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Week 4 Marathon Training

Monday: Plan: easy 6 Reality: 5 miles late night.

Tuesday: Plan: 6 Reality: 0 miles. I got home from work at 10 pm. It was pouring rain and I hadn’t ironed any clothes for Venice. I managed to pack my suitcase without crying and wake up at 5 am with a fairly decent attitude so a goose egg as far as mileage, but a gold star for mental health.

Wednesday: Plan: Venice, probably 0. Reality: 0 miles and A LOT of delicious food.

Thursday: Plan: Venice, probably 0. Reality: 3 miles

through Venice.

Friday: Plan: Return from Venice and try for a 10 miler in the afternoon. Reality: 6.2 miles in the evening. I had a work event at 9 pm so I escaped the office at 7:30, ran quickly, showered, gave Charles a hello kiss and got back to work. No one was the wiser.

Saturday: Plan: 15 mile hike with friends. Reality: Amazing 16-mile rainy uphill adventure. I conquered my vertigo fears and wasn’t even sore the next day. Thank you, quads, you’re getting so strong.

Sunday: Plan: easy 10 Reality: I got off to a very late start, but thankfully it was cloudy so leaving the house at 1:30 pm wasn’t a complete suicide mission. A. ran the first 3 miles with me, which was nice. I was five miles in before I even realized I was doing a long run. Ten was my goal since I’d had a very long week, but I was feeling good—not fast but steady—and made this a twelve miler. No gels, just water and some gatorade once I finished.


+ My mileage wasn’t high this week and I didn’t get in any speed work, but somehow just getting four days of running in gave me a confidence boost and calmed my nerves. Also, it was nice to have a decent long run after last week’s disaster.

- I really need to be stricter about my diet. I eat cookies because I think, “Well, I run so I deserve it” and we all know that ain’t right. I need to plan more meals and have snacks on hand.

Week 5 Plan:

Monday: 5 easy

Tuesday: Rest from running. Arms and abs.

Wednesday: 7 miles, 5 miles at Tempo Pace

Thursday: 5 miles. Arms and abs.

Friday: run 3 / swim

Saturday: 14 miles

Sunday: swimming