1st Magic Mile

October 6, 2011 Leave a comment

The Jeff Galloway program uses timed miles (called Magic Miles) to help runners predict appropriate time goals for a marathon. This is supposed to be the basis on which you choose your run/walk intervals.

When I started the program, I didn’t have a current 1 mile time, so I chose a 3 min/1 min run/walk interval because it correlated with 10 minute miles, which sounded like the right pace based on my past running experience.

This morning I finally got around to doing a “Magic Mile” and the result was 7:50. I was surprised it was so fast, because of how slow my training runs have been. Based on the Galloway system, a challenging marathon pace for me would be 10:10/mile. Definitely challenging! I doubt I will have splits any faster than 12 minutes per mile on race day. But it’s good to know that my 3/1 interval correlates pretty well with my current running abilities. 🙂

After the timed mile, I ran from the track to a gym on the other side of base, and then back again. I stopped the watch for about 10 minutes to do some stretching with bands and use the foam roller (love that thing!). It felt great, too bad I can’t take any time-outs on race day. 🙂

Run Details:

  • Distance: 4.83 miles
  • Time: 53:47
  • Pace: 11:08 min/mile
  • Intervals: continuous, no intervals
Categories: Training Log

Short Run – Sept 27th

September 27, 2011 1 comment

I am still struggling with staying on top of my training schedule after moving. This morning I got a nice 5 miler in, and felt great.

Run Details:

  • Distance: 5 miles
  • Time: 52:56
  • Pace: 10:33 min/mile
  • Intervals: continuous, no intervals

My pace was a little slower than I would have liked, but still OK. The weather was absolutely perfect, and I really enjoyed spending the hour outside.

I’ve noticed that I’m feeling more stressed about completing my runs, and I hope I can go back to just enjoying them. I may not complete anything longer than 13 miles in these last 30 days prior to the marathon. The pain and struggle of that 20 miler kinda messed with my head, I think!

Gear Update

While I love my New Balance Minimus Trail shoes, and have worn them for every run, the pain I experienced in my feet during my 20 mile training run convinced me that I need something with more cushioning to run on paved surfaces. I have no doubt the Minimus Trail would work great on long runs if the surface was more natural.

Since I love the Minimus line, I’m ordering the Minimus Road from a local running store (love to support local businesses!). They should be here by next weekend for me to try out with 13-15 miles.

I’ve also switched to a new pair of running capris since the 20 miler. The Stabilyx 3/4 tight from CW-X. These tights provide compression to reduce bounce and create support for the knee, low back and abs. In combo with the new shoes, these will hopefully help alleviate the knee aches that I’ve dealt with on some of my longer runs. So far they feel great!

Since the marathon may have some pretty cold temperatures (end of October in the D.C. could be 60’s or 30’s), I did try to get the full-length tights, but they didn’t allow enough of an opening for my cankles. I don’t have lady-like ankles, but they get the job done. :-p

Categories: Gear, Training Log

Wednesday Long Run – Sept 14

September 14, 2011 Leave a comment

I missed doing a longer run last week – possibly not a bad idea after unexpectedly running 20? In any case, this week I’m back on schedule.

Run Details:

  • Distance: 6.81 miles
  • Time: 1:24:26
  • Pace: 12:23 min/mile
  • Intervals: 21

For today’s run I visited another new venue – Cooper Creek Park. As you can see from the aerial view, there are tons of trees circling the lake. About 2/3 of one loop around the lake is fully or partially shaded. Pretty nice!

I parked near one of the public restrooms, and planned out my route to make 3 loops around the lake so that’s I’d have two opportunities for pit stops. I ate an energy chew and drank some water each time I ended a loop. A seven mile run doesn’t necessarily require eating, or even drinking water (at least for me), but I want to keep in habit of doing it since I’ll be needing to do it on race day.

Finding new places to run after a move is both good and bad. Good because new scenery definitely makes the time pass more quickly. Bad because it’s hard to “wing it” and feel confident you’ll still get the right number of miles or run at your target pace. Like this morning’s run being about a 1/4 mile shorter than I intended.

Categories: Training Log

Short Run – Sept 4th

September 6, 2011 Leave a comment

We went out of town for Labor Day, and took the opportunity to go on a run in the cooler weather. Wilmington Road Runners have a great “Places to Run” page where we found the Greenfield Park trail.

We’re moving to the area in a few months, and I will definitely consider coming back here for a 13 miler. 3 times around with water fountains and clean bathrooms sounds good to me.

Mentally, maintaining this faster pace, even for just over 40 minutes, felt even more difficult than finishing my 20 miler last week! I can definitely tell that I’ve been training for distance and not speed.

Run Details:

  • Distance: 4.5 miles
  • Time: 43:19
  • Pace: 9:39 min/mile
  • Interval: No intervals or walk breaks
Categories: Training Log

Wednesday Long Run – August 31

September 1, 2011 2 comments

Wow, what to say about this run — it was quite an adventure!

Here are the details to start.

Run Details:

  • Distance: 20.24 miles
  • Time: 4:43:48
  • Pace: 14:10 min/mile
  • Intervals: 71, plus about half of #72

On Monday I did a pretty intense CrossFit workout that left my hamstrings, glutes and low back very sore. Note to self — no more CrossFit or deadlifts 2 days prior to a long run! I think I need to stick with yoga, a short run or a bodyweight workout on my own on long run Mondays from now on. Live and learn. 🙂

I decided to push ahead with the 17 mile run on my schedule despite the soreness, and spent time on Tuesday planning and doing recon on my running route. This was my first long run since moving, and I decided that the safest location would be on base.

Completing my longest run ever, in a brand new place, with different terrain, and extremely sore legs made for a very interesting mental state when I woke up on Wednesday morning. I was anxious, to say the least!

About 2 miles into my run, I checked my cue sheet and realized it had not printed out properly. Instead of listing all the streets and turns for the whole run, it repeated the first four lines. How I had not noticed this in the process of putting on the self-laminating sheet, I do not know…

Repeating the first 4 lines several times - not helpful.

This glitch amped up my stress even more, but I decided to at least complete the first half of the route, which was a simple loop that I could easily remember after driving around it the day prior.

While running the loop, I decided I would just run the loop twice to get my planned miles completed. Visualizing my original route in my head, I believed the loop was just under 9 miles, which would put me at just over 17 miles.

The loop started and ended at the main gym on base, giving me a place to take a pit stop at the half-way point. In my original plan, I took a longer, indirect path going away from the gym, and a more direct path going back to the gym. Due to road construction, I ended up taking the indirect path out and back on the loop both times.

This inflated my total mileage to 20.24 — 3 miles more than I had planned. Yikes!

When I realized I had gone so far, it definitely made me feel better about the amount of time it had taken me to complete this run! For 17 miles I had been very, very slow, but for 20 I did well. 🙂


During my recon on Tuesday, part of my loop seemed like it would be very creepy early in the morning, and I was not looking forward to being out on that road alone before dawn.

But to my surprise, a long section of the road is closed to traffic in the mornings, and there were hundreds of soldiers out doing morning PT spread out along a ~5 mile stretch. It was a huge relief to not have to be out there alone, and it was also very motivating seeing so many other people getting an early workout in.

The biggest motivation came from several groups of Rangers — I know they had to be Rangers because no one else in the Army rucks carrying packs that big! Nothing makes the 2 liters of water in your Camelbak feel lighter than seeing guys with ~150# packs.

IMCOM Best Warrior Competition 12-mile ruck march, May 24

The only thing that could have motivated me more would’ve been seeing some Marines out on a hump. 🙂


I’ve mentioned before that I seem to have lots of wildlife interaction on these marathon training runs.

Just after starting out on this run I saw bats again – I never realized they were as active at dawn as they are at dusk!

Crazy spines!

During my second time around the loop, I had a much more direct wildlife experience. I stepped on some kind of spiny plant, and one of the spines went through my shoe and sock and into my right foot. Ouch! It looked like a piece of a cactus, and the solid part had an irregular shape. The spines were 1-3 inches long and very pointy!

The closest thing Google showed me was the wild cucumber – pictured to the right – but the thing I stepped on had a much more irregular shape, and the spines were more varied in length.

I took a 5-6 minutes walk break after pulling that thing out of my foot, and I definitely started thinking it was going to mess up the rest of my run. But after a couple minutes it didn’t really hurt at all, and after another mile or two I didn’t feel it at all. Of course, at that point other parts of me were hurting so bad I don’t think I would’ve noticed a small puncture on the inside of my foot. 🙂

Categories: Training Log

Wednesday Long Run – August 25

August 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Ok, this was not a Wednesday, it was a Thursday. But I moved over the weekend, and after unloading, unpacking and rearranging furniture all day Monday and Tuesday, I needed to take Wednesday as a rest day. 🙂

My schedule called for 7 miles this week, and it just so happened that the local running store, Big Dog Running, had an early AM 7 mile run that meets every Thursday. Perfect!

The group was definitely much faster than me, but I was lucky that the group leader is a great guy who stayed at my pace for about 4 miles to show me the way. We ended up shaving off about 2 miles because we skipped a loop in two places, but at least I got the basics and a good 5 mile run.

This was my first run with hills in quite a while, since previously we were living on a completely flat little island. I don’t know if it was from all my years running in Pennsylvania, or having someone to talk to as a I ran, but the hills really didn’t both me too much. Also, they were more “rolling”, no super-steep climbs or descents. I’ll know how my legs felt about doing hills tomorrow, based on how sore they are. 🙂

It’s going to be a challenge to find new routes to run that are safe for the early morning hours. I am may have to play it by ear and switch long runs between Wednesday and Saturdays as my commitments and plans allow. I’m told that the best longer routes are really only advisable on weekends, and can get a bit shady on weekdays. I’ll figure out a way to make it work. 🙂

Run Details:

  • Distance: 5.13 miles
  • Time: 55:00 (approximate)
  • Pace: 10:42 min/mile
  • Interval: No intervals or walk breaks today
Categories: Training Log

Wednesday Long Run – August 17th

August 18, 2011 Leave a comment

This run was definitely a learning experience! I had a lot of thoughts on this run, so here are the details upfront. 🙂

Run Details:

  • Distance: 15.46 miles
  • Time: 3:34:38
  • Pace: 13:53 min/mile
  • Interval: 52, plus about half of #53

When I take out the 8-9 minutes worth of pit stops, my pace is still around 13:10 min/mile — right on target for a training run of this distance.

Eating and drinking along the way for the first time made a huge difference in how I felt during this run. It did not make anything hurt less, but it did take away the feeling of total lethargy that has often been present in the last 30 minutes of my previous long runs. So it was more of a mental / muscular challenge to made my legs keep going, and not necessarily a lack of energy. Hard to describe, but basically, it was a positive change.

There were many moments during this run when I started thinking about how far I still had to go. I was not feeling confident that I would make it, but at the same time there was no way I was going to stop! My legs, knees, feet, back and lungs are adapting — but I think my brain is adapting the most. Mentally moving runs of these distances from the “impossible” to “possible” category is a tough process, but so satisfying when you succeed.

This was my first training run that was truly farther than I have ever run (or run/walked :)) before.

I ran the Critz Tybee Run Half Marathon in February 2010 with very little in the way of training. I finished, barely, in 2 hours 20 minutes. My calves and quads were nearly non-functioning for several days. Not a good experience, but what can you expect if you don’t allow your body to adapt to something before you do it?

That experience definitely made me nervous about marathon training, and is also one of the reasons I chose to follow the Jeff Galloway run/walk training program. I was amazed that I ran 7, 10, and then 12.5 miles (just shy of a half marathon’s 13.1 miles) with very minimal soreness. In fact, I was more sore from a 30 minute CrossFit workout I did last Saturday than I am from my 15 mile run! The human body is amazing!

The route I planned included about 4.5 miles along the coastline of Amelia Island. While it can be a little monotonous, and there’s very little shade, there’s one thing I absolutely love about running on the beach road.

Image courtesy of Amelia Island Happenings

Each public beach access along the road has a small sign, and a number. It is really satisfying to watch these numbers get lower and lower as you travel from south to north. And even though I had 3+ miles left to go, reaching Beach Access #1 was definitely a great feeling. I ate some energy chews to celebrate. :-p

Finally, here’s a fun picture I took of my post-run ice bath. Very uncomfortable, but very effective!

I left my shoes on because the worst part is having your toes feel like they’re frost-bitten! More about the shoes in another post – they are definitely not your typical long distance running shoe.

Categories: Training Log

Short Run – August 15th

August 15, 2011 Leave a comment

I was lazy and slept in too late to take advantage of the (relatively) cool morning temperatures, so this was a hot one! But at least from 8:40am to 9:40am there is still a bit of shade to hide under. 🙂

I felt pretty good running continuously, though it is starting to feel strange to me to not take walk breaks. Definitely a huge change from a few weeks ago when it felt really strange to be taking walk breaks.

At just short of the halfway point I stopped at our town’s little Central Park for a bathroom and water break. I was scouting the spot out for my long run this Wednesday.

Another pit stop option is Main Beach Park.

15 miles is a bit of a trek, so I’m going to setup my route to allow for some possible stops, if needed.

Run Details:

  • Distance: 4.85 miles
  • Time: 55:38
  • Pace: 11:28 min/mile
  • Interval: No intervals or walk breaks today; 1 pit stop
Categories: Training Log

Wednesday Long Run – August 10th

August 11, 2011 Leave a comment

My original schedule called for 15 miles today, but I wasn’t ready for that distance this week. I’m still trying to figure out the best options for carrying water/liquids on my runs. I’ve been putting off figuring this out too long, as some of my runs have already approached the 3 hour mark, and in our humid Florida climate I’m sweating a lot.

I also need to start carrying and consuming some calories on my runs. When I did sprint triathlons a few years back, I really liked using energy chews, which are pretty much glorified fruit snacks. The brand name of the product I liked is gone from my brain at this point, so I’ll have to do some research online. Or I might just buy some fruit snacks and see how those work. They would be cheaper, for sure!

I knocked out the first ~4 miles of this run at a ~10 minute per mile pace. And by around mile 7, I was hitting the wall. Definitely a lesson in why the Galloway system directs you to take training runs at a slow pace, especially at the beginning of a run. The race day advice from Galloway says to start conservative, and speed up if you’re feeling good at the halfway point. Now that I’ve experimented with my own methods, I think I’ll go back to listening to the experts. 🙂

Run Details:

  • Distance: 10.73
  • Time: 02:04:00
  • Pace: 11:33 min/mile
  • Interval: 3min run / 1min walk
  • 30 total intervals
Categories: Training Log

Short Run – August 4th

August 5, 2011 Leave a comment

My training schedule called for a shorter run this week, which was great since I was away from home and my usual running routes.

I took the opportunity to tackle some topography I don’t usually have access to — hills.

Run Details:

  • Distance: 3.81 miles
  • Time: 44:48
  • Pace: 11:45 min/mile
  • Interval: Did not use run-walk intervals, but did take 3 short walks breaks

My favorite running routes start at my front door, so I decided the best hill to tackle would be the steep one that my parents live at the top of.

Here’s how MapMyRun.com charted the elevation changes of my two loops around the neighborhood.

Later that day, I took a few pictures of my route while driving (slowly, promise!). The pictures start at the beginning of the ascent, and go in order to the end of the climb, which is where my parents’ house is.

Random fact — the pictures also start at the same point where my bus dropped me off all 12 years of school. Not a fun walk home when you had tons of homework and lots of books. 🙂

The first part of the climb.

As kids we would skip this "S" curve and climb straight up the hill through the grass.

A nice pleasant slope to get you rested up for the big hill...

And then the big hill.

The beginning of the end of the big hill. Very steep at this point.

At the top of the big hill, another gentle slope. Usually I have to walk a bit here.

One final small hill to finish the full climb.

Categories: Training Log