The Runner's Reward

Friday, February 20, 2015

Love PGH, Run PGH

There are a lot of races out there to choose from. If you are an avid runner, a recreational runner, or a "I run for health reasons and hate every step" runner there are no shortage of races worthy of your training time and registration fee. So why would I run the Pittsburgh Marathon again? I get to train here every day and surely I could run another city. Something new and shiny. And it would be awesome , I'm sure.

Training for a marathon is it's own reward in many ways, and training in Pittsburgh is a pleasure (even when it's 10 friggin degrees out). Finding yourself at The Point as the sun rises above the horizon silhouetting the bridges against a golden red backdrop or arriving in downtown so early on a Saturday morning that people are still partying in the streets, sunset over the Ohio is something that must be experienced to be fully understood.

And we have so much varied terrain to train on! You want a flat ground run? The Heritage Trails, the Montour Run Trail, and sections of town along the rivers provide miles and miles of ground. The Montour Trail and Heritage trails both link up to the Great Allegheny Passage which runs all the way to Cumberland, Maryland. Over 140 miles total!

Trails? We have trails. Frick, Boyce, Schenley, North Park, Settlers Cabin to name just a few. There are well groomed, crushed limestone trails and your nitty, gritty single track and miles upon miles of each.  And of course we have hill climbs in Pittsburgh. Any direction you want to take from the rivers into uptown (no one calls it uptown) will provide you with hill climbs.

For me, I want to run Pittsburgh again and again because of love.  Every time I run around the town, get lost and find something new, every time  I am running the city at an hour that is so early my Garmin thinks it's night (and I suppose it is) and random people say hello and good morning, and every time I get to see the city in all it's glory day and night I love it a little bit more. Leading up to the Marathon the city starts to "redd up." Banners are placed, flowers planted, streets and parks are cleaned getting ready for the spring and coming summer. And on Marathon Day da Burgh is aht in all it's glory. The neighborhoods are alive with music and people! And how Pittsburghers love their athletes and it shows! Whether a native, a transplant, or a visitor, a runner or a spectator, you are sure to enjoy our big little town.

C'mon aht to da Burgh and run with us Yinzers! Get a Primanti's sammich dahn in the strip and head over to the Sauside for beers n'at post race. You'll be glad you came.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Train like a train

I'm 7 weeks into training with big race events on weeks 15,17,21, and week 24 wraps it all up with the Hell Hath No Hurry 50k trail race. I have logged about 170 miles in the first 6 weeks and am feeling good....hungry, but good.

I have been looking to get more involved in the local running community and as a step in that direction I've been pacing at the Steel City Road Runner's (SCRR) group runs for a few weeks. It's a great opportunity to help out an organization I love and to meet new running friends.

Two weekend's past the long run was the SCRR Half Marathon Training kickoff run. There was a great turnout. It didn't hurt that the weather was very nice for February in Pennsylvania. I led the 9:30 pace group for 10 miles. The route overlapped some sections of the Pittsburgh Marathon including the big hill climb from the Birmingham Bridge up Forbes into Oakland.  This is the hardest climb on the Marathon route. For us, it was 2-3 miles into our run. Race day it will be around mile 11. The weather was great and the run was mostly effortless. Gotta love those runs that click!

Last weekend I paced the 10:00 cool kids for 16 miles. Aside from entirely missing the turn onto Craig Street and subsequently 5th things went according to plan. Because of that little missed turn we had the pleasure of climbing the Bob O'Connor hill which had as much gain as the Birmingham-Forbes climb into Oakland, just in less distance. The slippery snow proved an extra challenge and by the end of the run I was squarely wiped out.

Training is on track and warmer weather is just around the corner, but until then I am missing my Sunday trail runs! C'mon Old Man Winter...we have had enough.

Fundraising began for the Epilepsy Foundation! As a person with Epilepsy, the Foundation's work has been very important in my life.  Epilepsy is very prevalent. Over 65 million people worldwide are diagnosed and 1 in 26 people in America will be diagnosed with Epilepsy at some point in their lives.

Donate at least $22 before March 3rd and get entered to win a rubber band! (and an iPad mini, but who cares...rubber band!!)

Please Go Here to check out my page and give anything you can.

And now through March 3rd, if you give at least $22, you'll be entered to win an iPad Mini. You'll probably win.

Click Here for all the contest rules. And if you have any questions please Email Us and we'll get back to you right away.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Plans in Flux and Jars of Oatmeal

I am about five weeks into training for the Pittsburgh Marathon. This time around training I'm running more miles, eating better, and training smarter.  I've upped the load by about 10 miles per week as a starting point compared to previous training cycles and have active recovery or step back weeks on every third week. Regular crosstraining, varying terrain, and planned rotating speed sessions are in he mix. I am feeling great and looking forward to the increase in mileage ahead.

I say I'm training for the Pittsburgh Marathon and that is true, but really it is the first in a 3 part trial hopefully leading up to a qualification for the Marathon Maniacs.  If all goes well the period from May 3rd to June 27th is going to be intense...and awesome!

May 3rd- Pittsburgh Marathon
June 6th- God's Country Marathon (rated one of the 10 toughest marathons by Runners World)
June 27th- Hell Hath No Hurry 50k trail  
June 28th-July 1st, Sleep and eat
July 2nd- eat more
July 3rd and 4th - light fireworks, drink, and eat more
July 5th - start training for a PR at the Akron Marathon

At the end of January I had 120 miles over 23 runs, the most runs I have taken in a month and close to my max monthly mileage. Excited doesn't begin to cover it.

In the past I would have been fairly wiped out with this much training early on. There are three things that I have improved on that have made all the difference:
1. Crosstraining regularly - hitting the gym and working the whole body; core, lower and upper body
2. A solid base of miles behind me - months and months of fairly consistent 20-25 mile weeks and a two month easy running period as a "break"
3. A good nutrition plan.

I could blab on about all three points, but I'll briefly mention nutrition. Tara, my better half,  sent me a link for a recipe a while back. Oatmeal jars.  I had been meaning to make some up and try it, but I didn't actually do it until recently.  Best. Recovery. Meal. Period. 

Oatmeal Jars
Take a half pint mason jar and put some good old fashioned organic rolled oats in it. Fill about half the jar. Add in a tablespoon or two or three of organic chia seeds, add organic whole milk yogurt, grass fed whole milk and fruit.  I have tried blueberries and strawberries so far. (You can get frozen organic blueberries and strawberries at Aldi on the cheap! ..and a lot of other organic yummies). Mix it all up. Maybe add some spices..I put some cinnamon in my strawberry jars.

There are a million ways to use this recipe. Fiddle with it. Try your favorites. Since I have started eating these post run my energy is more stable and I am not starving and binging on everything in sight afterward, though after the last 13 mile run I did have to stop by Vanilla Pastry Studio for one of their amazing cupcakes. Okay, I bought three..but one and a half were for Tara....don't judge me.  :-)

One of the great truths of running is there is always more to learn, whether it be about running itself or about ones self. Learning can come in the form of books, articles, timely advice. For me it usually comes in the form of pain and my attempts to correct the causal factors.  Always a challenge, always a joy.

So raise a glass of Nuun with me and toast the inevitable cycle of learning, growing, and reaching new heights. Happy running and happy training to everyone out there