Monday, November 27, 2017

Accountability Monday: 11/27/2017

Good morning, friends!

I hope you are reading this feeling refreshed and ready to start another week- and month! Can you believe it'll be December by Friday?

It's my absolute favorite time of the year for so many reasons: time with family and friends, time away from work, gifts, colder weather, Christmas lights, peppermint mocha everything- I could keep listing things but that's another post entirely! Basically, I adore the month of December and am looking forward to another fun-filled holiday season.

Tuesday- Treadmill 5k, 38:23, 12:23 overall pace
Thursday- 7.06 miles, 1:30:36, 12:50 overall pace
Friday- 16.01 miles, 3:32:01, 13:15 overall pace. Last four mile splits: 13:03/11:52/11:31/11:42
Sunday- 30 minutes on the stationary bike, light strength workout, foam-rolling, light yoga/stretching

26.17 total miles

Y'all, that 16 miler on Friday was no joke. Matthew and I ran the first 12 together and it felt like a struggle- I was over dressed, dehydrated, hungry, and just grumpy. I ran the last four by myself (after grabbing some Belvita breakfast biscuits and a bottle of water- which was incredibly helpful) and was shocked to see the paces I was able to keep. 11:31?! After running 13 miles?! Who am I?!

Best Run
Though the first part absolutely sucked, the 16 miles on Friday was my best run of the week. Each run teaches you something- this one reinforced for me the importance of staying hydrated and fueled properly. I'm grateful for the crappy runs; they help me appreciate the great ones. 

Bravo Moment
I hit every single workout I wanted to this week and I feel great! I have very little muscle soreness overall- even though foam-rolling yesterday was rough- and I feel like I'm getting stronger, mentally and physically, during this training cycle. 

Quote of the Week
In a season full of happy distractions, it can be hard to stay focused on what you really want. What I really want is to get to the start lines of the WDW Half Marathon and WDW Marathon healthy, happy, confident, and strong. So I have to keep myself on track, laser-focused, and taking steps each day towards my goal. 

Stay the course, friends.

What keeps you focused on your goals?

Have a fabulous week, folks! 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Accountability Monday: 11/20/2017

Helloooo late November!

I don't know about the weather where you are, but it was chilly this week in the mid-Atlantic! I think we've officially passed fall and are securely in winter. Which is totally fine with me- I'd choose to run in the cold over the heat any day.

Even though it was super cold this weekend, I am riding such a high from the last few days. If you follow me on twitter or instagram, then you know that my friend Steff and I surprised our other friend Jeff at the mile 15.5 marker of the JFK 50 miler on Saturday. Our friends, Chelsea and Lauren, were there to support his as his "crew," aka meet him at each checkpoint and help him refuel, change shoes, fill water bottles, swap out gloves, etc. Jeff had no idea we were coming down to cheer and we absolutely surprised him at the first check point.

Selfies or it didn't happen.

I'll be writing another post with all the details about spectating this race, but for now, just know that it was one of the most inspiring and uplifting experiences I've had being part of the running community. It was simply awesome.

Let's dive into this past week!

Wednesday: 2.47 treadmill miles with varying paces and inclines
Sunday: 11.25 miles, 12:52 overall pace + light strength workout post-run

I did not get to all the workouts I wanted to this week but I am pretty happy with how the long run turned out yesterday. For the Disney Marathon, I'd like to average between 13-13:30 pace and so far, this seems attainable. I'm also stoked with the splits during yesterday's run- they were generally even and the last two were 12:43.  Also, I made some new friends yesterday! 😉

A post shared by Sarah (@sparklyrunner) on

Best Run
Now that the sun sets earlier in the day, I find myself on the treadmill more often after work. Honestly, I'm learning to love it! I like that I can control the incline and the pace- I'm finding it's helping me push myself a bit more than I would if I were out on the road running. So the best run this week was my Wednesday night treadmill adventure.

Bravo Moment
This week, I'm giving out an honorary bravo to Coach Jeff; he rocked those miles at the JFK 50 Miler- congratulations, Coach! 

Quote of the Week

Yup, they sure do.

Have a great week, friends!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Accountability Monday: 11/13/17

Good morning, friends!

I hope you had an awesome weekend! Matthew and I went to Christmas Candylane at Hersheypark (super fun!) and then spent all day yesterday cleaning and decorating our apartment for Christmas. Because we travel so much this time of year, we like to have the decorations up long enough for us to truly enjoy them. 😍

Tuesday: 2.5 miles on the treadmill, 12:05 pace
Thursday: 2.36 miles on the treadmill, 12:43 pace
Saturday: Hip workout- crunches (3 x 10), clamshells with resistance band (3 X 10), glute bridges (3 x 10), with yoga poses in between sets
Sunday: 8 miles, 12:06 pace

With one full week of unofficial Goofy Challenge training under my belt, I gotta say, it feels so damn good to be marathon training again. There's something about having a big goal to work towards that makes me feel strong and focused.

Best Run
Yesterday's miles felt almost effortless. I jammed out to Taylor Swift's newest album, Reputation, and the miles just flew by. And yes, I'm a TS fan, judge all you want. 😜

Bravo Moment
I actually created and wrote out my training plan for the next eight weeks! While I've created training plans for myself in the past, I actually took the time necessary to put it down on paper, not just keeping it all in my brain. I'm really proud of how it turned out- check it out in yesterday's post!

Quote of the Week
I found this Amit Ray quote and it really struck me with how similar the fall season is to marathon training- growth, pain, beauty.

Make it a great week, friends!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

[Unofficial] Goofy Challenge Training Plan: 8 Weeks of Pure Magic!

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor nor a running coach. All information found here is one experienced runner's plan for an upcoming race weekend. Please consult your physician and/or running coach before starting any running program.

In eight weeks (or 57 days), I will toe the start line for the Walt Disney World Half Marathon and then the very next day, line up again for the Walt Disney World Marathon. I might be a little Goofy (please forgive my bad puns 😃), but hopefully with the right training, I can cross both finish lines upright with a smile on my face.

Since I am jumping into training at about the halfway point (most marathon plans are 16 weeks long) I don't have to condense these last eight weeks, which is awesome. I had been pondering adding the marathon for a while before signing up two weeks ago, but knew I wanted to sign up for it with enough time to train- safely and with the lowest possible risk of injury.

This will be my fourth marathon. For the first one, I followed Jeff Galloway's Dopey Challenge training plan to the letter.  I never missed a single training run, reached all four start lines without injury, and finished each race feeling awesome.

2014 Dopey Challenge finisher.

For my second marathon training cycle (Pittsburgh Marathon 2015), I followed a modified Galloway training plan. I also added in several strength training and yoga sessions. Even though I ended up having some feet issues (imagine that, right?!) which kept me from some of my long runs, and I only trained up to 15 miles, I finished Pittsburgh with a new PR and feeling really strong.

2015 Pittsburgh Steel Challenge (5k + 26.2) finisher.

My third marathon (WDW Marathon 2017) is actually the only one that I didn't complete as part of a challenge. However, this training cycle proved to be challenging enough! I followed Galloway's Walt Disney World Marathon training plan until early December when I had excruciating, unexplained foot pain that put me in a boot for about three and a half weeks. I was able to run long runs of 13, 15, 17, and 21 miles before the boot. Then I did absolutely no running for almost a month before the race. The actual marathon was painful. Really, really painful. But I finished, upright and smiling.

2017 WDW Marathon finisher.

So, with three 26.2 mile journeys under my belt, I wanted to combine everything that's worked for me in the past into this Unofficial Goofy Challenge training plan while still minimizing my risk for injury.

If you google "8 week marathon training," you'll find a variety of training plans. Most of these include 4-5 days a week of running and then another 1-2 days of cross or strength training. However, with my injury history, there's no way I'm running more than 3-4 times a week so none of these plans will work for me.

I created my own 8-week plan using Galloway's Goofy Challenge training plan as an outline, basically matching up the three remaining long run distances with weekends that would work with my calendar. Also similarly to Galloway's plan, on the off-long run weeks, I have planned for 6-10 miles on consecutive days to get my legs used to running tired.

I will be earning my turkey in a few weeks, that's for sure!

In addition to the long runs, I scheduled two, 30-45 minute easy conditioning runs and one cross-training/strength session per week. An important part of any training plan is flexibility- this plan should allow me to get in the miles needed to finish the races but also allow me to move things around if needed.

All I want for Christmas is to enjoy those 18-20 miles :-)

You may notice that the most mileage I'll run is only 18-20 miles. I've been doing some research about how far one should train up to for a marathon and there are a couple schools of thought. Some folks think you should run at least three, 20+ mile runs. Some folks think you can successfully train by only running three, 16-17 mile runs. Since this is my fourth marathon, I'm ok doing three, 17+ mile runs to prepare for the race weekend.

Any training plan with Disney characters is my kinda plan :-)

Will I go into Walt Disney World Marathon a bit under-trained? Perhaps.

But, I'd much rather get to the starting line a little under-trained and healthy than potentially miss the races by training too hard or running too much. I'm hopeful this plan will get me to the goal: finish both races upright and smiling!

How do you train for races? Do you follow someone else's plan or do you create your own?

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Official Unofficial Race Plans: 2018

Good morning, friends!

There's so much to fill you in on- I don't even know where to start!

If you follow me on instagram, then you know I ran the Hot Cider Hustle this past Sunday morning (3 miles) and then ran 14 miles that afternoon for a total of 17 miles.

Now, why in the hell would I run 17 miles randomly? I'm not training for a marathon...

...I'm training for the Unofficial Goofy Challenge 😁

Marathon #4.

As you may know, I signed up for the Walt Disney World Half Marathon back in February. I debated for a long time about what to sign up for in 2018- marathon or no marathon? Goofy or Dopey? Just the half marathon or maybe the half and the 10k? Ultimately, I settled for the half and Matthew signed up for his third Dopey Challenge.

However, the full marathon was still open months after we'd registered and I kept feeling like I wanted to sign up for it. So, I used Runner's World Half & Festival as a mini-test; depending on how I felt after the 3 days of racing, I would either sign up for the full (in addition to the half) or just be satisfied with the half marathon. Still high on endorphins from an awesome and unforgettable weekend in Bethlehem, I registered for the full last week.

The Goofy Challenge (half + full) was already sold out by the time I registered for the full, so it looks like I'll be training for the "Unofficial" Goofy Challenge for the next eight weeks! I'm equal parts scared and thrilled but I'm really looking forward to this next training journey. Since I'm already trained up to the halfway point (13.1 miles), I'll be following a modified training plan for advanced runners (having run more than one full marathon). Expect to see more here about training in the weeks to come.

Most definitely.

Speaking of unofficial races, Matthew and I also decided last week that we wouldn't be getting our traditional castle picture with all our medals in 2018 after all...

2014 Dopey Challenge Finisher.

...because we'll be sailing on the Disney Dream right after the WDW Marathon as part of the Castaway Cay Challenge!... well, sort of...

By the time we decided we were going to do the cruise (like last week), the Castaway Cay Challenge was also sold out. So we decided that we'll just run the "regular" Castaway Cay 5k (which happens after the Challenge 5k) and complete our own "Unofficial" Castaway Cay Challenge. Bonuses of this approach: 1. Less money spent on race registrations means more money for beach side Pina Coladas. 2. We get to sleep in as the second "regular" 5k starts quite a bit later than the one associated with the challenge.

Island 5ks are our favorite.

We took this cruise in 2017 and completed the official Castaway Cay Challenge. Again, we'd debated about doing this again for 2018 and decided we weren't going to. But then we both had insanely busy and stressful fall semesters and ultimately decided that we wanted to take some time off and cruise again directly after WDW Marathon Weekend. So we're making it happen, just a little spontaneously 😉

Is it weird to be running the half and full marathon and not be considered part of the Goofy Challenge? Is it totally nuts to sail on the Castaway Cay Challenge cruise after WDW Marathon Weekend but not be part of the official challenge? I don't know. But after years of "extras" - shirts, medals, and race fees- I think Matthew and I will be ok.

2018 is going to be officially awesome, even if I get there in an unofficial way. 😜

What goals/races do you have planned for 2018?