Thursday, February 18, 2016

Hansons Marathon Method - Phase One

For all intents and purposes I'm going to refer to the Hansons Marathon Method here on out as (HMM) to simplify things.

I'm also going to breakdown the plan into three phases because while I was going through the training, I felt like I went through three different stages. I'm going to classify the first month or two of the training program as Phase One. So what happens in this phase? If you already have a solid mileage base, very little/minor changes will be evident. If you are coming back after taking extended time-off or a long rest due to injury, you will experience the most change.

Sometimes change can be good and also bad which is the case for this training plan. HMM is an 18-week training plan that will have you running 6-days a week with one rest day. This is true even on the beginner's plan. The beginner's plan peaks at 57-miles and the advance plan peaks at 63 about three weeks from the race date. This seemed crazy to me at first. Crazy and scary.

I decided to go with the advance plan only because I had already built up a modest base by the time I started this plan. So my experience with this plan will be based on someone who had normally trained 3-5 days a week of running mixed in with cross-training.

The book does mention that if you are training for your first marathon and don't have a time goal aside from finishing that the beginner's plan is the way to go. Having said that I feel like the beginner's plan might be challenging if you've never ran ever. The beginner's plan is also a good introduction to the running 6-days a week thing if that seems daunting.

The first week or two will be tolerable and you'll feel really proud of yourself because you're running 6-days a week. That's only because there are no 'workout' runs yet. You will however feel tired by Sunday. Your legs may even feel sluggish towards the end of your Sunday long runs.

Week three is where the speed (track) and tempo workouts start. This week will seem shocking at first especially when you look back. I had a hard time maintaining pace on the final miles of my first tempo run. Do yourself a favor at this point and don't look ahead on the schedule because it will just freak you out but take comfort knowing that by the end you will be doing everything on the schedule and feeling awesome about it...for the most part. You will be tired but you will feel awesome! Trust me. Tempo runs will become your most favorite thing. Just me?

When you reach the end of the first month, you will feel really fatigued. I mean really really TIRED.

I remember just crawling into bed every night at 9 pm and be dead asleep in five minutes. You will wonder if you will be able to carry on with the plan because this is only the beginning and things will just add on. I was constantly talking about being tired at this point. I did skip a couple of runs the first month because I was so tired and I didn't want to get injured running with poor form due to fatigue. Looking back maybe I could have benefited from starting with the beginner's plan like a friend had suggested but I guess my ego got in the way. This feeling of fatigue will go on for another couple of weeks while your legs and body adjust to the 6-days of running regime. The important thing to do at this point is HANG ON. Just hang on no matter how tired you feel or how much you hate the plan. Just keep moving. Slowly if you have to but don't give up on the plan because the feeling of fatigue will ease. It's almost like going up a hill. At some point, you will reach the summit and you will be glad that you stuck with it.

I mean it's not going to be cake after Phase One but you do acclimate to the new normal. Your body is amazing, you can put it through hell and it will still come through for you. Believe it or not more crazy stuff starts to happen in Phase Two.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Hansons Marathon Method - One New Mom's Journey Back to Marathoning

Point A to Point B...also known as how I went from casual running after baby to running a marathon again. Here it is...the Hansons Marathon Method.

I fondly refer to this book as my running bible. From the moment I picked it up to the time I turned the last page it has captivated me. Yes, I read this book cover to cover. Multiply times. Everything in this book is useful...or at least it is to me. I pick it up at least once a week still to refresh my memory. Mainly because I have a bad memory. Also, because the more you get into the training process the more this book starts to make sense. When you first start reading you might not fully understand everything they are talking about or care but in time you will. I've ran a lot of races but this book gave me a new perspective on training. It is very likely that I was doing it all wrong before. Highly likely.

Let me start by saying that I'm no stranger to running. Prior to getting pregnant it felt like I was running a marathon every other month so I didn't just pick up this book and go from zero to sixty. However, if you are new to running, this book could also work for you since there is a beginners section that I think is pretty reasonable.

I think if I had to pick the one thing I like most about this training plan it is that everything is laid out for you. All you have to do is pick out a reasonable pace and/or finishing time and commit to it. Honestly, even if you pick out an unreasonable pace, you will find out in a painful way soon enough to adjust to a goal that's right for you. So it's all good. Mostly foolproof.

I can't stress this enough when I say that you will need to COMMIT to your pace because you will literally need to eat, sleep and breathe that goal for the next three to four months. This plan works really well for people who likes structure and having every workout laid out for them. You won't have to worry about what you're going to do today or the next because everything is spelled out for you. All you have to do is make sure you do it. This plan is not very flexible and it admits to that. If you are going to continually miss runs or change things around or worse try to add other elements to it, it may not work very well for you and you may end up not accomplishing your goals which will be frustrating especially if you put in a lot of time and effort into the training.

Having said that, I for one love this plan. Prior to using this plan, I was a Hal Higdon training plan devotee. I had used the Higdon plans for so long that I was really hesitant to try something new but I'm glad I took that leap of faith. I really didn't have a reason for changing training plans. The Higdon plans were good enough to get me through over 20 marathons and even 2 BQs. What I lacked now that I use to have a ton of before was free time. Being a first time mom is hard. Trying to train for a marathon at the same time is harder. I was looking for something that didn't require me to be out for 3-hour training long runs on the weekends. Although, looking back, the HB method is equally time consuming just in different ways.

So how did I do on this plan? I'm going to say 'good'. I'll go into more details in the next couple of posts and break it down for you month by month. It's just too much to cover everything in this one posting.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

My 2016 LA Marathon Recap

Date: February 14, 2016
Location: Dodger Stadium to the Santa Monica Pier
Start: 6:55 am
Finish: 03:59:10

Elevation profile:

Wow, it's been a long time since I've written one of these. Okay, here we go.

I was supposed to go to the expo on Saturday, the day before the race with some friends so that we could kill two birds with one stone. Meaning so that we could pick up our bibs and watch the Olympic Trials all in one go. But I decided to go up on Friday instead so that I could stay home on Saturday and rest up for the race. I have not been to a race expo in a couple of years so I spent more time walking around and talking to vendors than I normally do. It was fun to be back in this environment again. Skechers Performance was the new title sponsor this year. Taking over for ASICS.

I was feeling nervous and because the forecast predicted higher than usual heat levels on Sunday, I hydrated like it was my job all of Friday and Saturday. I think I hydrated too much. Went to bed Saturday night pretty early but couldn't sleep at first but got a solid five hours in so I was happy with that.

I carpooled with my buddy Darren and his neighbors to Dodger Stadium. We left the OC around 4:30 am and got dropped off around 5:45 am which was perfect. I got to use the potty once but the lines got too long when I went back a second time but I didn't really have to go that badly so thank goodness.

Got in corral B in time to de-layer, take my first GU and listen to the national anthem. Things moved pretty quick after that. The elite women took off first and then the rest of the field followed ten minutes later. Believe it or not it was still a bottleneck nightmare to get going even up in corral B. It's tons better than being in the open corral but still really crowded as people try to find their positions.

So I started the race with the 3:35 pacer. I think this was wishful thinking on my part. I stayed with the group up until mile 12 which was where things started to go awry. You see I did almost all my training runs on pretty flat terrain and running the first half which is a series of rolling hills at pace ended up being my demise. I got some quad cramps around mile 13 but was able to walk it off. I had to slow my pace down by 30 seconds to a minute per mile over the next 6 miles but I kept chugging along because the crowd/volunteer support is just awesome at this race. I guess my mind had forgotten how tough it is to run this distance.

Here I am in Hollywood around the midway point. Smiling but suffering inside a bit.

Here I am in Beverly Hills around mile 17 and as you can see I am struggling. I struggled the most between miles 19-22 where the rolling hills started again. I mentally just shut down and took it one step at a time.

After this part, somehow I found my second wind and was feeling much better and picked up my pace a bit. I mean I wasn't feeling fresh as a daisy but I started smiling and waving to the crowds again. My nickname at this race was apparently "Tutu". "Go tutu!!" they would yell.

So this picture pretty much sums up miles 23-26.

The elation of reaching the finish line!

I crossed the finish line and was walking like a normal person. Not limping and not overly tired like I usually am. WTH! Why did I feel so bad in the middle parts and then felt great towards the end? This is a rhetorical question of course because I know exactly what I did wrong and how I can fix it for this future race. I am going to write a followup post on my training plan and go more into details on this race and how I plan to prepare for my next marathon coming up at the end of May. That post will have way less gratuitous photos so come back for that if you are interested. :)

So I did it! I finished my first post pregnancy marathon and made it just under 4-hours. Phew! That was a close one. This was my 9th LA Marathon and my 24th lifetime marathon. It's a course PR for me and my fifth best marathon time out of 24 so it's not too bad but not how I had envisioned it. I think the important thing about this training cycle is that I came out on the other end uninjured despite running more miles than I ever had in any training cycles and felt strong and prepared for the most part which is not something I could've said for most of the marathons I ran in the past.

Until next time LA Marathon! You were my first and will always hold a special place in my heart. It was a blast spending Valentine's Day with you.

(p.s. I ran my first marathon 10-years ago with my sister at the 2006 LA Marathon so this is an anniversary of sort.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Thoughts On The Eve Of My First Postpartum Marathon

It's been awhile since I blogged but with only a few days left until my first marathon post baby I thought it would be a good time to clear out the cobwebs so I'll have a place to write a proper post race report. I've been reading up on some of my past race reports this month leading up to race day and it's really nice to relive the emotions and details. I guess that's why this blog is still here.

I've not blogged in so long that it would be impossible to document everything that has happened since I last blogged...last summer. As I'm typing this, I realize how rusty I've gotten at banging these out. I'll attempt a short summary.

So last year (circa March 2015) right after my baby's first birthday, I decided to start running again. By the way, my "baby" is now almost two years old. This is him here. ^_^

Okay, where was I? Oh yeah, so I thought that if I could get into decent enough shape by September, which was when the 2016 Los Angeles Marathon registration opened up, that I would sign up and devote myself to an 18-week training program. My progress was slow but by summertime I felt confident enough to continue to ramp up mileage. When September rolled around, I was ready to commit so I signed up for my first postpartum marathon. This was early September. I spent most of September researching a new training plan so that when October rolled around I would be confident in my plan and ready to go. I'll see if I can find some time after my race to write a proper review of the plan I decided to go with. That is if it doesn't fail me this weekend. If it does, we'll never speak of it again. 

So I spent most of October, all of November, December, January until now deep in the trenches of training. If you follow me on Instagram you probably know all this already. With the exception of a couple of missed runs due to being ill, I've followed the training plan to a "T". I would really like to go more into details of my training so I'm hoping I will get a change to sit down later and reflect on those several months. 

This will be my 9th LA Marathon. I started in 2006, it was also my very first marathon. I didn't run in 2014 or 2015 due to my pregnancy and lazy-ness to sign up after I lost my streak. But life goes on and we will start another streak. 

So it's come down to today...four days until the big race. For the most part, I am ready. I came down with a bronchial infection late last week that landed me in urgent care over the weekend but I'm on the mends now so hopefully by race day all the medication and such will be out of my system and I'll be ready to go. At least that's what I'm planning on. 

My course PR for this current course is 4:08:08, I ran that in 2010. I haven't done as well in the years following mainly due to lack of training. I have to admit that I used to sign up for races just to experience them or sometimes just to get the bling. By the way, now I have a giant box of race bling that is heavy as f&#$ collecting dust in my garage. Food for thought? I think so. I never really took any of them seriously enough to commit to a training plan or disciplined myself enough to follow through with the training. It's kind of weird to hear myself say that in my head because at the time I thought I was so committed to each and every one of those races. 

I'll leave you with this collage that I've put together of all my runs that I posted on Instagram these past several months. It's only missing two days which I won't be able to include because they will happen tomorrow and Saturday but the rest is all here. In preparation for this race, I will have ran 97 days over the course of 18-weeks totaling 817 miles and boy are my legs tired. ^_~

Nothing left to do now but go out there and run marathon #24!!! Wish me luck!