Taper Advice Request From Mrs. Richard Simmons

I just wrapped up Week 10 of training for the Heartland 39.3 Challenge, which is the highest mileage week of the program…the crescendo, the height of pain and pleasure, the peak in the training program where I always either start to feel like the shit or begin berating myself up for not being in a better state and begin talking nonsense like “I just want to enjoy the race!”

This training program has been interesting (Hal Higdon’s Advanced Plan), as I’ve discussed before.  I’ve basically modified it every week, since I can’t bring myself to run 6 days each week–3-5 race pace miles on Fridays, then a long run on Saturdays (up to 2 hours now), continuing Sunday through Wednesday with speed work and tempo runs included.

I’ve adapted the program most weeks by dumping the easy run the day after the long run (although I did do it last week and felt great.)

So last week I had a kickass 5-mile race pace run on Friday (averaging 8:22 without very much effort…riding on the NY Marathon high perhaps?) and then followed up with a fantastic 12.3 mile easy run on Saturday (averaging 9:35).  I made a very mellow playlist and took things soooo slow and easy.  My playlist was pretty ridiculous…like Sweatin’ to the Oldies.  I am an elderly woman.

Here is a sample…find any running inspiration here?  I did.


I have to ask, looking at this playlist photo…does an explicit version of Kenny Loggins’ Heart to Heart even exist?

Tell the truth, bitch

Don’t fucking turn away

From this one last chance

To touch each other’s heart

Is that out there somewhere?  Dare I dream?

I came home on a runner’s high, which is not good for HH, since that means I will talk about my run in infinite detail.

airplane meme

Poor HH.

Now for my question…I am hoping for some advice from my fellow running fiends.  The Advanced plan calls for me to do another 2-hour long run this weekend (the weekend before the first half.)  It then calls for a bit of tapering during the week (2 miles instead of 3, a speed workout, a 30-minute tempo run, and then two days rest before the race.)

Does this seem like enough tapering to you?  Basically, I am just wondering if it’s okay that I will be running over 12 miles the weekend before.  Most plans that I’ve followed in the past have called for a reduction in mileage for the last long run before the race.  I know that Hal knows what he is doing with his plans, but I am just wondering if I’m up to heeding his call or if I would be better off to run something like 9-10 instead.  I felt strong this weekend and completed the 2-hour run easily, so that makes me think I’m okay to do another one, but I don’t want to come in tired and not at my potential, especially when I’ve worked so hard this cycle on speed and have another two half marathons in the four weeks following the race.

I will appreciate and welcome any thoughts/suggestions/advice.  Many of my running readers are far faster and more experienced than I am, so I am looking to you for your expert judgment (and any info on whether Kenny Loggins ever released a raunchy or explicit version of his seminal song, Heart to Heart.)


Running Goals, Santa Suits and a Playlist That Probably Isn’t Normal

Now that the half marathon and the ugly days of summer running are behind me, it’s time to set my next running goal.  I am mulling over two options…

Spending a winter snuggled up like this with Stella is a tempting third option, but not one that I shall consider…



Do I run another marathon?  I would love to.  Much like childbirth, I have conveniently managed to block the negative from my mind (snotsicles, adhesions, plantar fasciitis flares, etc.) and only remember that hear-me-roar feeling when I crossed that finish line.  Part of me wants to gear back up and shoot for a spring marathon and a 4:15 time goal again (I finished in 4:22.)  

Problems with this option?  I’m not sure I’m mentally there for the miles required.  Plus, I feel this compelling need to try and get faster.  I would like to devote myself to a sub 1:50 half marathon and a sub 50:00 10k.  I think I could get there, but not if I recommit to the marathon distance.  In fact, over last winter’s beginner marathon training, I lost about 45-60 seconds off my pace…a loss I gladly gave up for the ability to run the increased distance.

If I scrap any marathon plan, then I’ll pursue option 2:  The Heartland 39.3 Series.  For this, I would run three half marathons in 5 weeks.  I would definitely be challenged.  In fact, my PF-addled foot might just tighten up and fall off in protest if I force it to do that series.

It’s intriguing…kind of like participating in a hotdog eating contest.  Sure, it’s gonna hurt, but there’s a major payoff, right?  Plus, I could really work on speed work and tempo runs with this option.

What to do, what to do?  I’ll mull it over in the next week or two.  And as always, I welcome thoughts/advice/kicks in the ass from my readers.  Tell this crazy MaybeMarathoner what I should decide…

In the meantime, I’m thinking about signing up for the Westport Santa Dash…I just got an email for it this morning.  You can run a 5k in a Santa suit!  

Do you think the suit would be moisture-wicking?  Gee, I wouldn’t want the belt to chafe my muffin top! 🙂

The entry fee is only $25 through the 31st of October, so I have time to decide.  I’m headed to Vegas this weekend with HH for some football watching/betting, perhaps some golf, and a fair bit of poker playing, so I’ll have plenty of time to contemplate if I want to run a 5k on a cold December morning or stay in my comfy bed with the heated mattress pad set on broil.

Finally, I made up a new playlist for today’s run (with Oscar and our new waist-belt system!)…and as I looked at it, I realized that it is pretty bizarre, which of course means that I must post it.  I can’t wait to head out on this beautiful fall day and get pulled around the neighborhood while listening to these tunes.  Maybe you could find a kickass running song in there–happy running!






Modified Training, my 10k Playlist and Overcooking Miles

I am still producing voluminous amounts of phlegm.  This stuff is gross.  I managed to lace up and get out last Saturday, after skipping all runs since the previous Saturday.  My training called for a 10k race, but I have that lined up for this weekend.  So, switching the two weekends would have meant a 9-mile run for me.

Hell to the no.  I knew 9 miles wasn’t possible, but I hoped for at least 5.  I quickly readjusted my goals when I realized that I was having trouble even holding my arms up in the running position.  I was worn out by the effort.  I decided to just run very slowly and focus on getting as much time on my feet as possible.  The heat, the phlegm and the lingering fatigue were a nasty combination.  Still, it felt great to be moving after such a severe case of pneumonia typhoid pleurisy the common cold, so I tried to think positive and enjoy the fact that my ass was up and off the couch/recliner/bed.

Oh, if I could only blow a snot rocket.  I would have littered the neighborhood!  I also coughed up at least 5 pounds of crap from my lungs, which I had to swallow back down since I couldn’t spit it out.  I comforted myself with the knowledge that at least it was leaving my lungs and going to my stomach.

That is so gross.  God, that’s gross.

Anyhoo, I managed 4.7 miles at a 10:17 pace, which fell into the good-enough-girl-you-are-sick-go-home category of long runs.  I went home and gorged myself on football and couch time for the rest of the weekend and resolved to start fresh on Monday.

I got in 4.2 miles on Monday morning at a 9:49 pace.  I was happy with that.  I squeezed in a 30-minute tempo run yesterday on the dreadmill (I wasn’t able to get out until noon, and it was already blazing hot).  I am still not 100%.  Nowhere close, in fact, which is annoying because I have a 10k this weekend.  It will be my first time running the Plaza 10k, which looks to be a great race.  It runs through the Country Club Plaza, which is a beautiful outdoor shopping area here in KC.  The course is flat and would normally look to be a great race to turn it loose and try to PR.  Given that I’ve only run 1 10k in my life (in Bern, Switzerland with my Swiss bestie Pam back in 2011), the chances would normally be good, right?

Here we were in Bern post-race…I was so happy to be done!


And just so she doesn’t get mad at me for posting that pic (although she looks perfect), here we are with fresh makeup…


Well, no.  I ran that race in 53:37, which I would have no hopes of doing today under the best of circumstances.  I’m just not there right now.  Plus, this is not my goal race anyway.  So, I’ve come up with a plan.  It’s genius.

I’m going to start slow and just try to do my best and enjoy the race without killing myself and hating the entire thing and finishing the last two miles in such misery that I am cursing and swearing and hating life and promising myself that I will never run a race again or even jog a mile so help me God.

Now I know this is a novel idea.  I must be the first one to think of it.  I’m really going to try to embrace it, especially since I’ve been sick and still coughing like a champ.  It’s a good approach for my physical health (if not my mental).

Plus, I like the idea of enjoying a race DURING THE RACE for once.  I am the sort of person that overcooks (a great term a reader wrote in a previous comment on this blog) the first few miles of every race, then suffers for the remainder and nearly has a mental heart attack toward the end when I am out of juice and getting passed by runners who know how to run smart but really aren’t as fast as me, just not as dumb.

F you, intelligent runners!

Overcooking the first few miles is never good.  I’ve done it repeatedly, and I recommended the approach (in a way) to HH when he was training for his first half marathon.  “You can’t make up that time lost at the start, but you can always slow down!” I said cheerily.  He is such a faster runner than I am, and I honestly thought he had a shot at finishing around 1:40, even though he isn’t really a runner.

Here he is after taking my advice, flaming out and finishing at just over 2 hours.  He blames me to this day.

Is it just me being silly, or do I have an unusually long badass thumb?


God love him…he’s never run a race since.

I have an article somewhere (that I can’t find or I’d link it fo sho) that talks about how the first mile or two in a run sends a signal to your body.  If I recall correctly, and I’m plainspeaking it here, if it’s a mid- to long- distance race, you want to let your body ease in a bit so that it doesn’t think it’s a sprint.  Your body will react differently if you’re suddenly taking off like a bat out of hell…lactic acid and all that jazz.  Not sustainable for a longer race.  You want to ease in, let your body think everything’s groovy so it doesn’t freak and think it’s in a shitstorm, and then coax more and more out of it without inducing World War Z type panic.

Kind of like how I landed my husband.  Act all low-maintenance, then slowly make more demands over the years until he starts calling you Princess but is locked in for the long haul.

Just kidding!

Feel feel to elaborate and jazz up the wording in the comments, or to disagree.  How do you cook your first few miles of a longer distance race?  I have a hard time taking it easy, because all I can think about is how I’m losing precious time.

I plan on cooking this race nice and easy in the first mile, like it’s in a Crock Pot.  Slow and low, baby!  Then we’ll see how my lungs and body feel, and hopefully I’ll be able to crank things up a bit.  In short, I’m going to try and avoid my usual freak-out mode that I tend to go into when I cross a starting line.

I even have a 57-minute playlist lined up that is loaded nice and easy at the start.  What?  You want me to share it?  You love my taste?  Well, okay!

  • Here I Go Again by Whitesnake:  the first song on my first race playlist back in 2007.  An ode to solo training, not to mention hair spray.
  • Proud Mary by Tina Turner:  Hello?!  Just too good…lyrical perfection.  I hope to be kicking into a higher gear by the end of it, lungs willing.  Tell me how to run, Tina.

Y’ know, every now and then
I think you might like to hear something from us
Nice and easy
But there’s just one thing
You see we never ever do nothing
Nice and easy
We always do it nice and rough
So we’re gonna take the beginning of this song
And do it easy
Then we’re gonna do the finish rough

  • P.Y.T. by MJ:  Smoothness.  Hope I don’t waste any energy by shaking my ass here.  That would be counterproductive.
  • Dancing with Myself by Billy Idol:  Great beat.  Lots of hair spray (and gel.  And bleach).
  • Baby I’m a Star by Prince: ass shaking concerns here too, but I’m sure I can keep it under control.
  • Without Me by Eminem:  Strong beat.  Crazy good.

Let me just revel and bask

In the fact that I got everyone kissin’ my ass

  • Roar by Katy Perry:  I’m not a pop princess, but this one gets me.  Hope I’m rolling by the time this song hits.
  • Rebel Yell by Billy Idol:  The pace on this song is just perfect.  So many people run to this song.  
  • Houdini by Foster The People:  Nice and light, with a great finish.  “Focus on your ability” is just a great lyric.  Better to focus on that than the fact that I’m never going to be an elite runner.
  • Panama by Van Halen:  God, I love Van Halen.  More hair spray.
  • Talk Dirty to Me by Poison:  And more hair spray.  I clearly have a nostalgia thing going for 80s music that is not going away anytime soon.
  • Set Adrift on Memory Bliss by PM Dawn: A recent running fave.  It’s just mellow goodness.  A classic in my book.
  • Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie:  This should take me up to just under 55 minutes, which will be my signal to get the damn race over with already.
  • Main Title from Band of Brothers:  Always inspires me.  Always makes me grateful, thankful and glad to be living in the moment.  A great race ender.

Happy Wednesday, readers!

Work It Out Wednesday: Fifth Gear

I get the Runner’s World Daily Kick In The Butt Quote by email, and today’s quote was by elite runner Ryan Hall…

I constantly remind myself that resting takes confidence.  Anyone can train like a mad man but to embrace rest and to allow all the hard training to come out takes mental strength.

I must be an incredibly confident woman with mental strength to spare, because all I want to do is embrace some rest–in fact, I’d like to do more than embrace it.  I’d like to go all the way with it on the first date.  I shall praise myself for being strong and having great confidence when I fall onto the couch for a nap this afternoon.

It’s not the running, though I do definitely feel the effects of the 20-miler still.  No, it’s more the fact that HH is gone and I can’t seem to sleep well without him.  At the risk of sounding selfish, would it be too much to ask for him to leave his incredibly important trial and come sleep next to me for the week of the marathon?  Princess needs her rest!

This week’s taper running called for a 5-mile run on Monday, which I cut to 3.5 (I felt like such a naughty rebel.)  Yesterday I ran 4 miles at pace.  I took Oscar, the blazing-fast-can’t-seem-to-heel-or-ignore-the-birds-and-squirrels pain in my ass.  My arm was sore from yanking him away from everything he wanted to hunt and pulling him back, but we finished with a perfectly acceptable 9:25 pace.  It must be nice to have four legs and be built for speed…I have two legs and was built for mall walking.Image


All was forgiven after…he likes to help keep my foot in place while I ice…Image

That makes 404 miles of training on my way to 26.2.  And not to be a jackass or anything, but I am THIS close to $2000 for my fundraising and would LOVE it if anyone else would consider donating to the Spondylitis Association of America on behalf of my run.

I’ve tried not to mention it much, because I don’t like hitting people up for money and really just appreciate the blog support, but if just a few people gave $10-20, I could clear the $2000 mark!!!!!  Donations are tax-deductible, and you will be doing so much for a great organization and a disease that deserves greater attention!  Just a click of the button on the top right-hand side of the page will get you started.

Moving on…


I think I’ll buy some avocados today…my left quad hurts something fierce.  I’ve been rolling it like crazy, but food therapy might be in order.  I’m quite the pathetic sight in the evenings…playing Scramble with Friends and Candy Crush alone in bed with my muscle stick…for rolling, people, for rolling!

BTW, rambling Product Whore alert:  I engaged in some retail therapy yesterday and bought these Nike DriFit pants.  I’m thinking they might be my raceday pants.  They’re whisper thin and I’m guessing the pattern, while making my ass look huge, might mask the spread of the sweat/incontinence pattern that is sure to become visible after Mile 10 or so.  Run to your nearest store and pick up a pair!


Finally, the music…today’s tunes (more than one–bonus!) are all songs I run to when I need to kick it, crush it, kill it, whatever your term is for taking it to another level.

Though I’ll never be a fast runner, I’m faster than some, and one of the things I enjoy about running is the ability to develop different running speeds and embrace them.  If you’ve tried running but say things like, “I only have one speed, and it’s slow”, then I encourage you to stick with it and try some different types of speed.  Run some 30-second intervals, do a random fartlek—find your fifth gear.  And may I recommend the following tunes to get you there?  These are sure to be interspersed in my marathon playlist.  I won’t mention all my Rocky songs, since I just covered those and since it goes without saying that they guarantee fifth-gear running!

  • How Far We’ve Come by Matchbox Twenty:  Jog.fm says it’s good for an 8:24 mile.  Hell yeah.
  • Talk Dirty to Me by Poison:  I never seen you look so good!
  • Baby I’m a Star by Prince:  I’m rich on personality!
  • Bounce That by Girl Talk:  Dirty language, kickass beat.  Girl Talk is my secret weapon.  
  • Minute by Minute by Girl Talk: Uh-huh.  The King of mashups.
  • Triple Double by Girl Talk:  Running heaven.
  • Jump on Stage by Girl Talk:  When he goes from Creep to Delirious, I’m in nirvana and don’t realize that I’m running—well, sort of.
  • Rebel Yell by Billy Idol:  I’d give you all and have none, babe, just to have you here by me.  That’s a sexy lyric from a nasty-looking man.
  • Houdini by Foster the People:  Focus on your ability!!!!!
  • Dog Days Are Over (Yeasayer Remix) by Florence + the Machine:  melodic beat.  Happiness hit her like a train on a track!  “Run fast” repeated like twenty times…perfect!

What’s your fifth gear song?  I’d love to add some more.  I’m going to need a whole lot of fifth gear if I’m going to run 4+ hours in just over two weeks!

Work It Out Wednesday: There Is No Tomorrow

Well, technically there is, but then comes Friday—my last chance to get my act together and complete a successful long run of over 18 miles before I begin to taper.


My 18-miler was a gigantic suckfest, cut short by time and a serious mental block.  My 19-miler was a near-death experience due to dehydration.  So this is it.  I’m pinning a lot of hope on this one.

I know what that means.  Time to carboload AND load my playlist with the most inspiring songs I have in my arsenal.

Yep, it’s Rocky time.

Surely every runner has at least one song from the Rocky movies on their playlist.  This is not original stuff here.  If you are a runner and don’t run to at least one Rocky song at least at some point, leave a comment so I can be properly shocked and please tell me what you use in place of the crown jewels of running music.  I must know.

HH and I love the Rocky movies (well, the good ones anyway.)  We even had Forced Family Fun Night last week when Rocky II was on and made the boys watch the whole thing (Alex was into it, Max looked like he wanted to jump off a cliff.)  We quote it like movie dorks, and we have many of the tunes.

Please don’t stop at Eye of the Tiger or Gonna Fly Now.  Tell me you have Going the Distance…I looped that song 6 times on my first half-marathon playlist so I could be sure to finish to it.  I had Alone in the Ring (very short) on a pre-race playlist.

They’re just so damn motivating.  Redemption is perfect for a long run.  The Training Montage from Rocky IV is perfect.  I muster up all my Cold War rage and just throw it into my run.  Who didn’t hate Drago?  Cheating bastard.

Hearts on Fire…perfect for when you think you’re running out of steam and need to pick it back up.  If you can’t kick ass to this song, turn around and go home.  You need rest.



And please…No Easy Way Out is just perfect.



I just downloaded Conquest and will have it on all future playlists.

You can even download snippets from the movie on iTunes….I might have to add this clip to my raceday playlist…


Apollo’s dead!  Adrian doesn’t believe in him!  He’s got 99 problems!!!!!!!!  Adrian’s making it 100!  Just writing about it makes me want to go run right now!  I’m fired up!!!!!!!!

What’s your favorite Rocky moment?  Feel free to share.

Moving on…after two hospital visits and one nursing home visit in the past two days, I am reminded of the gift of good health.  I write about wanting to appreciate my good health while I have it, and it’s so true.  I cherished my 5-miler yesterday afternoon.  My grandpa is doing better, and my grandma is resting comfortably (she has dementia, so that’s really the best one can expect.)

I was able to meet TiffeeG for lunch after visiting Grandma.  She is hanging in there and hoping for warmer weather and a boost from her next Remicade shot.  She offered to drive behind me shouting words of encouragement on my run Friday, which gave us both a good laugh.  

I will definitely need her support on race day.  It looks like HH will still be in Florida, so I will need to see her smiling face near the finish line.  

There’s no easy way out

There’s no shortcut home





Work It Out Wednesday: Long Run Playlist Gems

Man down…HH caught some sort of nasty flu that has kept him home the past two days.  Unfortunately, I drank out of his water glass on Monday night just as he was at the height of his retching/chilling/aching, so I feel like I’m basically counting down the minutes until I start barfing (I know, I’m not thinking positive here.)  I’ve been chowing on those cute little Clementines and praying to the running gods that my immune system is in tiptop shape to somehow avoid his killer weight-loss plan.

The boys are on spring break, so they got to head out with me and Oscar for our 5-miler on Monday afternoon.  I was determined to take it slow and ease in after my crash on Friday.  I’m sure we looked like quite the group…one crazy dog determined to run a sub-9:00 mile, yanked by a crazyslow woman and two trailing boys in various states of pain.  The boys ran half a mile out with me and then headed back.  Cowards.

The run went fine, as did yesterday’s 8-miler.  I’m headed out later for 5 more and then only have to do 12 this Friday, setting myself up for next Friday’s 20-miler.  I just realized that the race is exactly one month from today.  One month!  Though the training hasn’t gone perfectly, I’m still amazed to look back and think of the miles I’ve logged so far (347!) and the calories I’ve consumed (approximately 10,000,000!).

On to the music…

It’s pretty apparent that I am all about the music.  I’m not one of those rude runners who cranks the tunes and ignores everyone.  I keep my music at a reasonable level and try extra hard to check for other runners during races since I have music in my ears.  But there is NO way I could run a race without my tunes.  Maybe this makes me not a “true” runner, as some purists might argue.

Don’t care…gotta have ’em.

The music I run to for long runs is far different from my raceday or tempo run/speedwork playlists, as I’m sure it is for most runners.  I can’t have my booty-twerking music ringing in my ears too much when I’m out for a 10:00+ pace.  It just makes me run too fast.  Sure, a few booty-popping jams don’t hurt to keep me pumped, but I need a different sort of music to keep me going slow and steady for 1-3 hours.

So what makes a song good for long runs?  I would love to hear anyone’s input, but this is what works for me—

  1. The Beat.  Obviously, a slower beat is good, and I love one that’s repetitive.  Get a solid hypnotic beat going, and I can groove on and forget the sound of my footsteps.
  2. The Lyrics.  Inspirational lyrics rock!  Bring on the drama!  Give me a good love song that makes me happy and grateful.  Make me realize how great my life is, and I will keep on trucking.  Make me cry, get emotional, whatever.  Getting lost in good lyrics passes the time.
  3. The Melody.  How often do we have the time to just listen to the melody of a song?  We’re driving, yapping, texting, multitasking, etc.  Music is in the background…and if I’m in the car, I have a 13-year old boy riding shotgun with an itchy trigger finger constantly forwarding through songs that I like.  Also, with a lot of music today, is there any discernible melody at all?  Bah, says the old lady in me!  Running to a great song with a great melody keeps me going and keeps me sane (well, sane enough to get by).
  4. Nostalgia.  I run to songs now that I hated way back when, just because they take me back.  Reminiscing can kill major time during a long run, trust me.
  5. A Buildup.  I love songs that build up to a great finish or even just a small section of music that I love.  Play What Goes Around/Comes Around by JT and I’m hooked just for the cadence at the end of the song.  That song is over 7 minutes long…3/4 of a mile in the bag.

So, here is a random list of some songs that have been on recent long run playlists:

  • Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys (I know, not original!)
  • Up With the Birds by Coldplay (and almost anything else by them)
  • Juke Box Hero by Foreigner (great beat)
  • Forrest Gump by Frank Ocean (“My fingertips and my lips, they burn from the cigarettes”–I sing that in my head all day long)
  • The Ruler and the Killer by Kid Cudi (hypnotic with vicious lyrics)
  • The Ocean by Led Zeppelin (just fantastic music)
  • Cough Syrup by Young the Giant (“One more spoon of cough syrup now, whoa”…such a moving song)
  • Cloud 9 by Robin Thicke (sumptuous)
  • Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda by Brian McKnight (straight-up perfect song)
  • Hallelujah by Jake Shimabukuro (swells with emotion.  Here, There and Everywhere is just as good)
  • Rich Girl by The Bird and the Bee (I could listen to her sweet voice all day)
  • Stars by Simply Red (probably won’t affect anyone the way it affects me…nostalgia, love, melody, all of it)
  • Under the Stars by Morning Parade
  • Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash (perfection)
  • The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance by Vampire Weekend (just a great slow pulsing beat)
  • What You Wanted and Secrets by One Republic
  • Biggest Part of Me by Take 6
  • Love Walks In by Van Halen
  • Lifeboats by Snow Patrol
  • Dick in a Box by The Lonely Island
  • Business Time by Flight of the Conchords

11x14 Running Answers Problems Retro Print - Marathon Training Fitness Inspirational Exercise Quote


Thanks for reading…happy Wednesday and happy running!