Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Training Never Ends, and the Planning Doesn't Stop!

Alright everyone! It's time to get our training back on the road! As you all know Mr. Marathon has two marathons that he is going to be training for! Ooh yeah and he gets a one day rest in between them!!! But any who that's none of my business...

With his performance at the Charleston Marathon he is now 2017 Boston Qualified, meaning he can run his little heart out at the Blue Ridge Marathon, and relax and enjoy Boston two days later (how can someone say "I'm just going to relax" when they are going to run a marathon???). Anyway Mr. Marathon has developed/created a training plan for himself!! YES, he made a 2016 training plan! After following a training plan for our most recent race, he's decided to make his own, and make it better and more detailed, and specifically tailored to his upcoming races. He has incorporated a more technical type of training, meaning harder work-outs, more cardio, better speed-work, some intervals, and even hill work (or should we say MOUNTAIN work??)! He is excited about this new adventure, and he wants to share his 12 week plan with you! This plan will take him through race day for the Blue Ridge Marathon which is on April 16. And if you have questions about any of the work outs, you can always ask US! **Remember: Mr. Marathon is not an official, certified trainer or professional in any way. This training plan was developed by training to run the Blue Ridge Marathon specifically for the past 6 years. He has taken all of his experience with just making up his training as he goes, analyzing his running patterns (when he does well, when he thinks he could run harder, etc.), and using the experience from following my training plans previously as well as his training plan in Charleston, and he has created the plan that he believes will work for him. This plan is for experienced runners who are comfortable running at least 35 miles a week already at baseline. If you do decide to follow this plan, please do so at your own discretion.**
Blue Ridge Marathon Training Plan (doesn't it look legit????)

As you may or may not know, I can't stay away from training plans. I feel like I need to be training for something and on a plan at any given time to train consistently. As we have mentioned in various posts, we like to do the Martinsville Half Marathon because it is a great hometown race in our area. I have decided to keep my momentum up this year and (hopefully)  not get caught up in post-marathon slump like last year. So, that means I am going to start an 8 week training plan to prepare me for the half on March 19. Most of the time, I find my plans on Pinterest or Facebook, and I just glance over it, look at the weekly mileage, how many days it requires, and I find one that's good enough and I stick to it. Well I was listening to a podcast about running (of course I would...) and they recommended Runner's World Smart Coach as a way to kind of "personalize" your training plan. Now, of course they have Smart Coach Plus which is apparently a lot fancier than the regular Smart Coach, but I only tried the free regular Smart Coach. All I had to do was log in through my Facebook page! Anyway, what it does is it asks you several questions about your current running: how many days a week, total mileage, current race pace, things like that. Then it asks the distance and date of the event you're training for, as well as the date you'd like to start your plan. I plugged in all my info and BAM just like that I had a personalized plan. It lays out different types of runs (easy, tempo, speed work, and long runs) and the suggested pace you should maintain during each run. It also predicts your race day finish time. Let's just say I hope mine will be accurate if I can follow this plan...! Keep in mind that I just stumbled upon this website and really like it. I'm not endorsed by Runner's World or anything. I just think it is a very useful resource, so try it out! You can find it at .
My personalized 8 week half marathon training plan
Oh, and have we mentioned
that we're super excited to be
Official Bloggers for the Blue Ridge Marathon?
'Cause we are!
Clearly, we have a lot of training in our future. But here's a question for you guys- how do YOU train before a big race? Are you a training plan follower? Or are you a "make-it-up-as-you-go" kinda runner? Let us know! Leave us a comment here, on Facebook, on Instagram, or even in person. We'd love to hear from you! Happy training!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Charleston Marathon 2016

This weekend was full of fun and running (and driving) for us as we traveled to the sunny (ok mostly rainy) south. We made our way to Charleston, South Carolina for the (you guessed it!) Charleston Marathon!

On Friday morning we made the 5.5 hour drive and got to the expo. It rained pretty much the entire way down there, but the forecast for Saturday was looking good. It had stopped raining in Charleston when we arrived at around 4:30. There was a ton of flooding in the roads and parking lots, but it had at least stopped raining. We walked around the expo at a local high school for a little bit, got all our stuff, and went out to dinner at La Fontana, a little Italian restaurant that was 5 minutes from our hotel and had spaghetti (me) and pizza (him).

This was pretty much our view on the entire drive there.... rainy!
We made it!
We settled in at like 8:30 pm (and that was magnificent!) after preparing our gear for the morning. Fortunately our hotel was only 10 minutes from the starting line, so we weren't super pressed for time. We both woke up Saturday morning at a fairly normal time, got ready, and left our hotel at 6:45 to be there around 7:00, with plenty of time for potty stops and gear check. After all that was done, we settled into our corrals right before the start at 8:00. We took off and enjoyed the race, especially because it was sunny and 52 degrees at the start! The marathon started off going through the historic district of Charleston, and there were some gorgeous old homes and buildings. We also ran along the coast and the Ashley River and watched the sun come up. It was a beautiful morning! After running through the fun stuff in Charleston, we ran through many neighborhoods and around some schools. This race benefited the arts in the Charleston area schools, so there were stops featuring students of the arts. My favorites were the marching bands... They really got me pumped up! Now, we both had some great success during this race, and we both learned some lessons specific to our own experiences, so we are going to break down our recap into his and hers sections. Stay with me, k?

My pre-race Flat Stanley...
mister was too tired to be bothered with making his.
Saturday's race was going to challenging, I knew that. It's 26.2 miles of running on the road, of course it's going to be challenging. I was trained up, fueled up, and overall prepared for the run. I was still nervous obviously, which is normal, but I was nervous because I had put a lot of pressure on myself. I wanted to meet a couple of goals: #1 I wanted to finish (that's always going to be my goal for long races), #2 I wanted to PR, and #3 I wanted to keep my average pace under 12:59 min/mile (5:40:24 overall time). Now, I was hoping if nothing else, I would make the first 2. I was most nervous about the third. I had kept my training runs within that range, and I was getting more and more comfortable with that pace for my long runs. It may seem slow to other runners, but my long run paces previously had been 13+ minutes per mile with lots and lots of walking/breaks, so 12 would be a great improvement. Anyway, I made a mistake on race day. You hear about people going out too fast, and you're like "Well, duh, they hit the wall they weren't prepared for (fill in the blank) pace." And then you think that'll never happen to you because you're smarter than that. Until it does. I started about 4 minutes after most marathoners (I had to potty one last time...) and so I had missed the pacers. My goal time indicated that I could stick with the 5:30:00 pacer for the most part, so I was looking for that pacer as I was taking off through the half marathoners. I spotted her, and ran beside her for about a half a mile. I was feeling good so I picked it up (what I thought was) a little bit. Before I knew it, I encountered the 5:00:00 pacers (11:26 min/mile pace). I was like "WHOA NELLY REEL IT IN" so I stuck behind/beside them for a little ways, until one of them started talking to me. Once we started talking, I was feeling good and enjoying the company. So I stayed with them. And I stuck with them until about mile 14. And then after that mile marker, I started to slow down a little bit, and a little bit more, and a little bit more. And I realized that it had happened- I had gone out too fast. Maintaining an 11:00 min/mile pace was not what I had trained for. It is doable for me for a half, but anything longer is uncharted territory. So the second half of the marathon meant a lot of walking and stretching, and I slowed down significantly, but I managed to keep within my range. At about mile 21, the 5:30 pacer caught up with me. She was starting around a loop as I was finishing it, putting her about 1.5 miles behind me. I knew I couldn't lose her in those last 5.1 miles. She was my ticket to meeting my goal. Around this point my lovely hubby had come back for me and he helped to keep me motivated. With a lot of run/walking and motivational words, I made it. The 5:30 pacer passed me in the last couple of miles and I was devastated. I didn't give up, though, because I remembered I had 4 minutes of time difference because I started later. I kept going, kept trucking, and made it to the finish line in a time of 5:34:01. I had successfully achieved all 3 of my goals. Would it have been nice to finish under 5:30? Absolutely. But hey, there's always next time... :)

His training plan
Let's think back to November. I decided to FINALLY follow a training plan. Now, the training plan wasn't the most detailed, but it laid out the mileage that I needed to get done. In my leadership class at Averett University, each individual was required to come up with a goal and a plan to achieve it. Mainly, it was for the individual to get his mind wrapped around this goal to let him know that this goal is his own. This allowed me to not only hold myself accountable, but since I also shared this goal with my classmates, it made me accountable to them as well. Now, what was my goal, you ask? To break 3:00:00 in the marathon. I knew that more than likely, I wasn't going to be able to do it, simply because the plan I found didn't have that great of a foundation. It was only running. Just running. That's it. It didn't specify tempo runs, intervals, no cross training, nothing. But I just wanted to follow the plan as is. That way in the future, I would know what my body needed. So the day before Charleston, I felt ill-prepared and extremely nervous. I went in with 3 different plans: #1 have fun and do the best I can, #2 finish in under 3:05:00 for another Boston Qualifier, and #3 break 3 hours. I knew that if I couldn't accomplish #3, I more than likely wouldn't make #2 either. So that left me with #1, which meant keeping my head up, a smile on, and my sense of humor going. Needless to say, every single mile, I pushed to keep my miles between a 6:30 and 7:00 min/mile pace. I'm sure there were a few miles that took a little over 7:00, and I just had to keep digging deep to find my motivation. There were two things that were trying to hold me back throughout the run: a blister after mile 16 and hip pain somewhere around the same time. I just kept telling myself "This pain is temporary, and if you want to meet your goal, you're just going to have to ignore it." And that was a lot easier said than done. However, every person I meet seems to believe in me, even when I don't believe in myself, and that's enough to keep me going no matter what. So, I kept pushing through the blister and the pain in my hip, and I realized as I passed the mile markers, "Hey, I might actually have a chance." When I hit mile 20, I kept doing the math every single mile (and doing math while running is not easy....) to make sure my goal was still plausible. I knew how much time I had left, and what my pace should be, and I had even gotten lost at mile 22 and added about a quarter of mile so that threw off my distance and pace a little bit, but I couldn't give up because I had to cheer on another runner who got lost with me. So I kept running, kept calculating, kept pushing through the last 10K, and I really just couldn't believe that when I crossed the finish line, I was able to see sub 3 on the clock: 2:59:13 to be exact. So there it is. I met all 3 of my goals. And learned that next training cycle, I need a more detailed training plan, which is in the works as we speak. So stay tuned to future posts to see my personalized training plan that will take me through the Blue Ridge Marathon and the Boston Marathon!

Now, as always, here are the leftover miscellaneous pictures from our run-cation!

Cool statue thing we ran by at like...
mile 3 or so
Flying bicycle merry-go-round! And other cool artwork in a park
Mile 24 cruisin' along


After the race, hubbs won Husband of the Year.
He immediately took off my socks and shoes for me and slipped on my sandals!
 #truelove #runnerlove

Mr. Marathon with running legend Valmir Nunes:
100K world champion!!!!
Let's get some SHRIMP AND GRITZ.
My medal with my shrimp and grits! Yum!
We met the president of the Charleston Running Club at the expo,
where he gave Mr. Marathon some last minute coaching and advice.
He told us to find him at tell him how we did after the run, and we did!

Driving along the course later in the afternoon to take pictures

Driving along the course later in the afternoon to take pictures
Trying out the selfie stick

More fun with the selfie stick
A pretty pineapple fountain in historic Charleston
Selfie with the pineapple fountain
Selfie with the palm trees!

More sightseeing 
Our accidentally teeny tiny pizza that we ordered...
.... that teeny tiny pizza didn't make it far.
More sightseeing-- just a cool building

Selfie with a fountain!

A cool ship at the port
The Cooper River Bridge:
the 2nd longest suspension bridge in the US
Going over the Cooper River Bridge

A tad blurry, but the sunset Saturday night was beautiful!
Our adventure in Charleston was great fun! We both set a PR, ate some yummy food, and saw some cool sights. If you're looking for a flat course, this is a good choice. Parts of it are gravel and some parts are over railroad tracks, but overall it was a good course to run. And if you always complain about having one hand free after the run.... you're in luck-- you get 2 free beers/mimosas (one for each hand!) along with a FREE helping of shrimp and grits! ;) Another great thing about the race was that we did not have to worry about traffic along the course because of the great volunteers and police officers directing traffic. Great course, great people, great fun! 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015 Year in Review / 2016 Preview

So, here it is. The sappy, nostalgic review of the past 365 days, now that we have to transition from writing 2015 to 2016 (that's just the worst... ugh!). Join us as we reflect on the past year while looking ahead to the new year that's before us.

From Ft. Lauderdale...
one of my favorite running pics of us!

2015 had some highs, and some lows, and some lower-than-lows, personally and with our running. We completed our first 7-day endurance challenge in January, ran 26.2 miles in sunny Florida while our hometown was buried in snow, had some down time in spring, did a sprint triathlon in May, ran the 4th of July 4 miler for the second time, had an exciting/exhausting Weekend of the Halves, and did a whole lotta running!
I PR'd in the full marathon, participated in my first triathlon (ok, I was in the relay, but whatever!), bottomed out at 15 miles one month, but then hit the 100+ total mileage for 2 months (November and December!), and ended up with a grand total of 694.9 miles for the year!
And Mr. Marathon ran his 6th Blue Ridge Marathon, completed an International distance triathlon, was accepted to run the Boston Marathon (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), completed a Half Ironman distance triathlon, earned his Spartan Trifecta, did his first 24-hour ultra-marathon/ran his first 100K, PR'd in the 5K, and ended the year with a grand total 1,426.32 miles!!

We ended the year with another first. We successfully put on our first ever event! As mentioned in a previous post, we were going to put on the Jingle for Jesus 5K as a little hometown local race on Christmas Eve. The day was a smashing success despite torrential downpours (boo!) with a turnout of 40 runners! It was an amazing experience to be able to put on such a well-received event, and we are hoping (planning) on doing it again next year!
The runners are off, jingling for Jesus!

A wonderful local ranch not only brought animals,
but brought people volunteers as well for our nativity! It was a hit!

As for 2016, well we've already made some plans. So here is a preview of what we have on the docket so far:

In less than 2 weeks, we will be traveling to Charleston, SC for the Charleston Marathon on January 16! We are very excited (nervous?) as we have some goals set for ourselves for this race, and we have (hopefully) been training sufficiently thanks to the warmer-than-usual temperatures so far this winter. In fact, just today we did our last long run and will begin tapering right now! Yay!

In March, Mr. Marathon will keep his streak of doing the Martinsville Half Marathon for the 6th year in a row. This race is always so fun because it falls right around his birthday! Last year, I skipped out as I was recovering/tired of running after Ft. Lauderdale, but this year I hope to do it as well.

We also have mentioned a little run that Mr. Marathon is planning to do up north in April. And by little run, I mean the BOSTON MARATHON! He is (we are) so excited as we prepare for this experience!

Also in April, he will be keeping his streak going by completing his 7th annual Blue Ridge Marathon. I will be joining in the fun this year by participating in either the Star 10K or the Blue Ridge Half Marathon! And this is extra exciting because we have been chosen to be Official Bloggers for the 2016 Blue Ridge Marathon! So be on the lookout for our training that will pick up after Charleston on Facebook, Instagram, and of course here on the blog! (her Instagram, his Instagramher Facebookhis Facebook) We are looking forward to starting our training... In fact, we got a little head start by doing our long run in breezy Roanoke, VA, but we only ran on the Greenway, not up those mountains! Soon, though! Stay tuned as I'm sure we will have more exciting run-ventures come up along the way this upcoming year!