Monday, September 9, 2013

Workout Recap and Weekly Goals: Sedona Crushing and Altitude Sickness

Hi all! Happy Monday!

Hope you all had a fantastic weekend. I was in Arizona, visiting the Grand Canyon, getting caught in a freaky hail/thunder/lightning/pouring rain storm (scariest driving experience on this trip, so far at least... *knock on wood*), and long running in Sedona. Or rather, trying to long run. We'll get to that in a bit.

I had no idea that Sedona was so gorgeous when I booked our hotel here. I just thought it'd be a nice place to spend a couple nights and fit in a long run. I didn't realize that Sedona is nestled into Oak Creek Canyon, and if you take the state highway in, you drive along a beautiful, windy road down into the canyon.

Seriously, this place is incredible, and I have a mega crush on it. I wish I had more time here, but it's definitely on my list of places to return! We're off to Utah today. So, let's chat about training shall we?

Chicago Marathon Training Recap: Weeks 11 and 12

As I mentioned in my weekend post, marathon training has been a bit tough. The biggest challenge is how tired I feel and how tight my legs are due to the long car rides. But my eating habits are also off since I can't cook and, particularly now that we've left California, I don't have access to restaurants with lots of fruits and vegetables. I'm going to concentrate on proper fueling in the week to come since I know that'll help my energy levels and my overall recovery from tough workouts.

I've also struggled with strength training. I love my boutique studio classes in NYC, since I push myself a lot harder in class settings. I'm trying to add in some core and upper body strength work for 5-10 minutes before bedtime, but I do miss those workouts that leave you sweaty and exhausted. With increased mileage, however, I'm not sure that's possible.

Add to that yesterday's slightly disastrous long run. The previous Sunday, I had to cut my long run short due to hamstring pain that was likely the result of all that driving. I've made a concerted effort to stretch and foam roll since then, but a far more insidious force derailed yesterday's long run: altitude.

Sedona is at an elevation of 4,500 feet. I definitely felt my heart beating fast and felt my lungs burning while hiking in the Grand Canyon at 5,000 feet, but somehow I thought I'd be fine for my 20 miler. The first hour or so of running was tough, since I was running on a rocky trail and it started to rain pretty heavily. But it wasn't anything I didn't feel capable of handling.

However, just after the hour mark, I started feeling really lightheaded and nauseous. I'd barely been able to get my first gel down around the 5 mile mark, eating only half of it, and I felt like I was about to throw up every time I sipped water. By mile 8, I knew 20 miles just wasn't happening.

I considered taking a break and trying again in an hour, but once I realized I could run on a flat, paved trail at 2,200 ft elevation on Wednesday morning, I decided it was best to scrap the run. Thankfully, Coach Jess was on board with this idea and told me Wednesday would be fine.

Here's how the past two weeks have looked!

Monday: Speed work at Semiahmoo Bay, WA.

This was the speed workout that got me so jazzed. I ran these on tired legs, but had such a strong mental game that I pushed myself even harder than the previous mile repeats on Friday.

Splits: w/u - 10:07, (1) 8:07, (2) 7:59, (3) 8:06, (4) 7:49, c/d - 10:39

Tuesday60 min. yoga class in Washington.

A nice early morning yoga class to start my day, taught by my dad. I truly miss yoga while on the road, as my hips will attest. I'm going to need about 80 hours of yoga and ten massages by the end of this road trip! (NOT that I'm complaining - this trip has been incredible so far and I am loving every minute.)

Wednesday: Rest day (drove to Portland).

Thursday: 5.47 mile easy run in Eugene, OR.

Split between Thursday night and Friday morning because we got in so late after hitting traffic coming out of Portland. I mostly learned my lesson and have been trying to run earlier when possible.

Splits between Thursday night and Friday morning show the difference between energy and lack thereof: (1) 10:09, (2) 10:13, (3) 10:14, (4) 9:57, (5) 9:54, (.47) 10:40

Friday: Continued 3.32 easy miles from Thursday in Eugene, OR

Early AM miles were MUCH tougher than the night before, for no apparent reason. Well, okay then, legs.

Splits - (1) 11:27, (2) 11:19, (3) 10:48 (.32) 11:13

Saturday: 3 shakeout miles (29:42) on treadmill in San Francisco, CA.

Since dinner finished after sunset, and we had a luxuriously slow morning, I ran on the treadmill after dinner. I potentially took these miles too fast, since I averaged just under 10:00 miles.

Sunday: Failed long run (12.67 miles) in Monterey, CA.

Drove 4 hours to Monterey, instead of the expected two, after getting stuck in Labor Day Weekend traffic on the Pacific Coast Highway. Also saw some of the most ridiculous driving ever when some dude drove off the highway, onto a crop road, then zoomed onto the shoulder of the highway and used that to bypass traffic.

(1) 10:50, (2) 10:40, (3) 10:50, (4) 11:15, (5) 11:49 - uphill, (6) 10:46, (7) 11:18, (8) 11:19, (9) 11:29, (10) 11:06, (11) 11:56 - around where my hamstring started hurting, (12) 11:53, (.67) 12:33

That .67 miles also involved me getting lost in sand dunes after I tried to run on the beach and realized running on sand is HARD and not a good idea when your hamstring is already hurting. 

Monday: Stretched and foam rolled for 30 minutes.

Drove approximately 10 hours down the Pacific Coast Highway (traffic in Malibu = my new nemesis). Saw elephant seals, which made me giddily happy, cannot lie. Also saw zebras at Hearst Ranch.

Tuesday: (1) 3.75 miles up and down Hollywood Hills in LA. (2) 60 min. Physique 57 class

Decided to run at Griffith Observatory. For some delusional reason I thought there would be a nice, flat trail for me to do some recovery miles on. Ha! Haha! Hahaha! The trail went up the  Hollywood Hills, ascending roughly 700 ft in less than 2 miles. It was also roughly 85 degrees with no shade. And there were rattlesnake warnings.

Splits: (1) 11:29, (2) 12:44 - steepest uphill, (3) 9:07 - steepest downhill, (.75) 10:30

I actually felt super strong throughout this run. It probably wasn't a good idea to turn recovery miles into hill miles, but I felt so defeated after Sunday's failed long run that I was determined to get my recovery miles done. In the middle of the run, I texted Katie, who was walking around the Observatory grounds, that I would either die on this run or feel like a total badass. She texted back that she was crossing her fingers for the latter, and thankfully that was the outcome.

TOUGH class. My thighs were dying after the intense hill work earlier in the day. Ouch.

Wednesday: 8 mile tempo run in Santa Monica and Venice Beach, CA. 

I felt fairly strong after a tough Tuesday all that driving, but just couldn't get all my tempo miles to my 8:55-9:09 goal half marathon pace, despite pushing myself hard.

w/u - 10:26, (1) 8:58, (2) 9:26, (3) 9:07, (4) 9:22, (5) 9:24, (6) 9:07, c/d - 12:19

Thursday: Rest day, but squeezed in 5 minutes of core work (1 min plank, 1 min L side plank, 1 min R side plank, 25 push-ups, Pilates 100)

Friday: 6 "easy" miles around Back Bay area in Newport Beach, CA.

Legs felt VERY heavy on this run; not helped by the massive inclines and declines on the route the hotel gave me (and it was only 5.6 miles unfortunately, so I used the strides to get close to 6 miles -- 5.9 miles). Although I'll never knock a hotel when they have a run route map and water and a towel ready for me when I get back! My strides were a lot slower than normal, showing that my legs were definitely feeling the tough week and driving.

Splits: (1) 10:03 - downhill, (2) 11:41, (3) 11:55, (4) 13:00 - uphill, (5) 10:44 - downhill, (.5) 12:17 - uphill

Strides: (1) 6:56, (2) 6:31, (3) 6:57, (4) 7:14, (5) 6:55, (6) 7:01

Saturday: Hiked in Grand Canyon, AZ (~3.5 miles) and added some core work.

Can we discuss how dorky Mason looks in this photo? He kind of looks like a stuffed dog... 

Also added some core work: 1 minute plank times two, 1 minute left side plank, 1 minute right side plank, 25 push-ups times two, 20 tricep dips.

Sunday: 8 mile failed long run in Sedona, AZ.

ARGH. This was frustrating on the heels of last week. As I wrote above, it just sucked to feel so sick and weak, despite the gorgeous surroundings. But as Beth said when we texted about my aborted run, I have to shake it off and move forward.

Which I'll be doing Wednesday, in St George, at 2200 feet on a paved path. Cross your fingers that 2,300 ft lower feels okay! I'm gunning for the big 2-0 now.

Next Week's Training Schedule:

This week has the most hiking of my trip, so there's no real cross-training other than continuing my core work and stretching and foam rolling as much as possible.

Here's what Coach Jess has tasked me with this week:

• 20 mile long run, for real
• 3 days of hiking (short to long hiking days, depending on park)
• 2 easy runs (60 minutes each, one with strides)
• 1 shakeout run (30 minutes)
• cutback week long run (15 miles, middle 5 miles at goal half marathon pace)

I'm hitting Zion Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Yellowstone and the Tetons, and Glacier National Park in the next week. Lots of miles on the road and lots of mountains and canyons to see!!

How was your weekend? Have you ever had trouble exercising at higher elevation?


  1. Sedona is absolutely gorgeous. I have a spent a lot of time there. All the parks you are on your way to are amazing as well. I'm so excited for you to see them! Altitude training is no joke. Drink lots of water and don't berate yourself if you can't get through the miles!

  2. Great job getting all these workouts in while traveling, and I'm enjoying all your gorgeous pictures! Have fun!!

  3. Your Instagram pictures keep blowing me away--absolutely breathtaking! Running and working out in higher altitude is no joke. During college, my family went on vacation to Colorado, and I tried running on the hotel treadmill. I was dunzo after 10 minutes, lol. Keep up the good work!

  4. I spent about a month in Santa Fe (elevation 7,000) and arrived 2 days after running a half marathon..I couldn't eek out 6 miles when I first arrived. I remember being SO discouraged but did as much as I could.
    The good news is, boy were my lungs great once I got back to sea level! Kind of like training through humidity a total pain but when you get to more normal conditions you will notice a difference!
    Enjoy the rest of your trip and keep those gorgeous pictures coming :)

  5. Okay, first of all, your mile repeats and strides have me insanely jealous. HOLY MOLY, those are fast! I know these past two weeks have gotten you down but after reading your recaps I think you're doing phenomenal with marathon training considering how much you are traveling. PLEASE give yourself a little more credit and realize how strong you have become; physically AND mentally. Mentally, you've got this marathon in the bag and, physically, well that's what the next 5 weeks are for. I think you're doing amazing! Keep up the great work!

  6. I know you said training has been tough, but I'm really impressed with how well you're fitting in runs -- and, I'm jealous you get to run in so many new and beautiful places!