Detroit Marathon: Week 2 training recap

Photo courtesy of Serena Richardson

Photo courtesy of Serena Richardson

Buongiorno. That’s “good morning” in Italian 🙂

Training for the Detroit Marathon has officially gone international! But fortunately this week was a low-key one in between lots of traveling, “touristing,” eating and relaxing.

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Usually, vacations are a time when I back off from any kind of strict running schedule, but this time Hubby and I are embracing it as a way to get in some early morning sight-seeing before we start our days.

And since one of my favorite ways to see new cities is by foot, we’ve been trying to make an adventure of every run — from the mountainous isle of Ischia to the rolling vineyards of Sicily to the coastal village of Positano.

I’ve also been documenting our exploration, so stay tuned for a full post with pictures when I’m back!

Fino a quando ci incontreremo di nuovo! “Until we meet again”…next week! 

Detroit Marathon: Week 1 training recap

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And cue the weekly shoe selfies again!

Welcome to week one of my training for the Detroit Marathon. As you know, I’m gearing up for race day on October 19 with a new plan: the Hansons Marathon Method.

It’s a so-called “renegade” approach to marathoning, in that the long training runs peak at 16 miles (as opposed to the usual 20-22 milers). Needless to say, as someone who struggles to stay injury-free while pounding the pavement, it piqued my interest.

This first week was a cake-walk compared to what’s coming down the pipeline — six days of running per week, yikes — so I’m enjoying it while it lasts.

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Another component of the program that will come into play later in training? Pacing.

When I run, I’m usually great at maintaining whatever pace feels good on that particular day…but the tricky part here is that now I’ll need to hit a specific one for each workout.

I’m aiming for a 3:50 marathon, so the book recommends the following paces as guidelines for my runs.

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Another wrench that I’m throwing into this training cycle is a bunch of travel and a move with Hubby during the first few weeks (not that I’m complaining…).

The upside is that I can run pretty much anywhere, although the challenge will be maintaining the schedule despite jet lag, time zone changes and what I anticipate will be many wine- and carb-fueled meals in Italy (yeah, yeah, I don’t expect any sympathy).

But there’s nothing like a little constant when your life is in upheaval, so I’m hoping my running will be a source of solace rather than stress…but we shall see, won’t we?

So far, so good…stay tuned for week two, which is the first full week of the program!

Detroit Marathon: My “renegade” training plan

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My hometown of Detroit has a reputation for being scrappy, gritty and a little rough around the edges. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: We love it that way.

You see, as my all-time favorite Superbowl commercial reminded us, “It’s the hottest fires that make the hardest steel.” Adversity doesn’t scare Detroiters; it only makes us stronger.

So I chose this race, in particular, to celebrate the city and everything that makes it unique and exciting — from crossing international borders twice and running an “underwater mile” to the scenery on Belle Isle and views of the city from Corktown to Indian Village, just to name a few.

And what better way to prepare than to use a training plan developed out of Hansons Running Shop, a locally-owned, nationally-recognized running institution (and founder of the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project)?

Sure, it may be a bit unconventional. But in a city that’s anything but conventional, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What It Is

Promising a “PR-busting performance,” the Hansons Marathon Method focuses on lower-mileage long runs that emphasize quality over quantity.

In layman’s terms? While the focal point of other plans is one weekly looong run (up to 20-22 miles), the Hansons philosophy is that no one workout is more important than another.

That translates into six days a week of running — double that of my previous plan — with an equal focus on endurance, speed and strength.

Why I Like It

It’s controversial — specifically the absence of 20-mile (or more) long runs — but according to the reviews, it works.

Credit a little something called the “residual training effect,” which banks on the cumulative impact of workouts. So, for example, a long run that’s “only” 16 miles now includes three workouts’ worth of fatigue in the legs.

Rather than preparing runners to tackle the first 16 miles of a marathon, this plan is geared toward being able to hang tough in those critical last 16 miles.

Will It Work?

We shall see! I’d be lying, though, if I said I wasn’t at least a little nervous about being able to get to the start line uninjured, especially with all the non-stop running. I can’t remember the last time I ran six days a week.

But I’ve got a decent level of overall fitness built, and I think the Hansons Method will help me get to that next level of physical — and mental — stamina.

Plus, there’s another factor in this race that’ll make things even more interesting: heart. I’m so excited to run in, with and for the city I’m proud to call home.

Get ready, Detroit, I’m comin’ for ya.

Training officially starts tomorrow, so check back for my weekly recaps!

Oops, I did it again…

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What happens when you reunite with a former-high-school-running-teammate-slash-retired-pro-triathlete who mentions she’s making her competitive marathon debut in our hometown of Detroit?

Not only a great excuse to get back there and cheer her on (from WAY behind…sorry, Terra), but also some inspiration to give that elusive sub-four marathon another go.

But this time I’m setting myself up for success: The race is on my home turf with a more forgiving course, plus I’m using a brand-spanking-new training program that’s a little bit “renegade,” to say the least. But perfectly fitting, considering the venue.

So stay tuned for my Motor City marathon plan…training starts next week!

What goal race(s) are you working toward this season? 

A blast from the past at the LUNA Chix Summit

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Back in February, I posted an interview with my high-school-teammate-turned-pro-triathlete Terra Castro who, after a successful 16-year career, has since retired and returned to her running roots, now competing as a LUNA Sponsored Athlete and coaching full-time.

She’s always been such a powerful influence with a positive message, that I have no doubt her business, “Be Bold Crew,” which specializes in coaching teenagers using mentorship and accountability, will make a meaningful impact.

But between learning to balance coaching with training for her first open marathon in fall 2014, Castro also takes time to work with Team LUNA Chix, whose mission is to bring women together who are interested in learning new sports, staying active and inspiring others to do the same.

She invited me to this weekend’s summit in Berkeley, Calif. to see firsthand how the local teams train, compete and support each other, while fundraising for LUNA’s non-profit partner, the Breast Cancer Fund.

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I stopped by for yesterday afternoon’s sessions — first up on agenda was a run clinic in which Castro coached captains on how to lead track workouts for their respective teams. We divided into groups and broke the session into segments with each group in charge of a specific aspect of the workout.

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Admittedly, I felt a little nervous walking in as a non-official team member, but that didn’t last for long; the ladies welcomed me with big smiles, kind words and open arms.

I even got some great swim pointers from Julie (from the Boston triathlon team) as we warmed up on the track, and Melanie (from the Austin run team) and I pushed each other during the 800 and 400 repeats. Thanks, guys!

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After a quick cool-down and recap, we made our way back to the shuttle — but not before exiting the track through an “encouragement tunnel” of cheers.

Castro summed up the team’s vibe perfectly: “Remember no matter what level of athlete you are to encourage and uplift others. True victory and joy can be found there.”

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Next up were breakout sessions to work on sport-specific skills, and I chose bike maintenance. Yep, if you remember my flat tire change adventure on my first long ride, you know that this is an area in which I could definitely pick up a few pointers.

Enter Dusty LaBarr, bike mechanic for the Luna Pro Team, who took us through everything from bike cleaning to tire changing , as well as safety precautions and other helpful pointers. While I may not look forward to my next flat, at least I’ll be much better prepared for it now!

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The theme of the weekend? Tell your story. As Castro said, “In sharing you story you can empower, encourage and ignite others to walk boldly within their own story.”

In that vein, we listened to all kinds of amazing, encouraging, inspiring and emotional stories during dinner — from Jeanne Rizzo (president and CEO of the Beast Cancer Fund) to the LUNA Chix Pro Team panel, along with several LUNA sponsored athletes and local team leaders.

It’s quite apparent that this group is a force to be reckoned with — not only are they competitive athletes who do well, but they’re also compassionate teammates who go above and beyond to do good, whether it’s supporting one another, encouraging female athletes of all levels, lending a hand in the community or working to raise awareness and funds to support the Breast Cancer Fund.

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The best part, though? Reconnecting with a dear friend.

Terra and I have our own story — we ran track & field and cross country together in Michigan many moons ago — and it was such a treat to get together again.

Needless to say, we had a lot of catching up to do…and I’m excited that we were able to start another chapter together after all these years!

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For more information about Team Luna Chix — or to get involved in your local team — check out their site here.

Sharing a taste of home: Olga Bread

Photo credit: Olga's Kitchen

Photo credit: Olga’s Kitchen

A secret-recipe bread used in side dishes, desserts and an assortment of delectable sandwiches, “Olga Bread” made its debut in 1970 when the doors to Olga’s Kitchen first opened in Birmingham, Mich.

Sweet, soft and delicious can only begin to describe it. And although this recipe still doesn’t do the real thing justice, it does help tide me over between trips home.

The one and only 'Olga' of Olga's Kitchen, posing with my sister and mom

The one and only Olga, posing with my sister and mom

Olga’s Kitchen “Olga Bread”

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 pkg.)
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 cups flour, divided
  • 1 egg

Directions: 

  1. Scald milk, remove to large bowl.
  2. Add honey, margarine and salt to milk. Stir until margarine is melted, then set aside to cool until lukewarm.
  3. Combine yeast, warm water and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved, and set aside.
  4. Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour to lukewarm milk mixture, and beat well.
  5. Mix in egg and yeast mixture.
  6. Add remaining flour, a little at a time, until sticky dough is formed.
  7. Turn out on a floured surface, knead for about two minutes (dough will be sticky; don’t add more flour).
  8. Place dough in oiled bowl, turning once to oil whole surface of dough.
  9. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in warm place until doubled in size.
  10. Punch down dough; divide into 16 equal pieces.
  11. Roll each piece to a thin rough circle about 8-10 inches in diameter.
  12. Heat a large dry skillet over medium-high heat; do not use any oil.
  13. Bake 30 seconds, flip and bake about 30 seconds on other side, or until mottled brown spots appear.
  14. Cool and store in a plastic bag.

Here’s a step-by-step look at the process:

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Combine all ingredients according to the directions, and you’ll have a super-sticky dough.

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Cover with plastic wrap, and set in a warm place to allow the dough to rise for about 20 minutes.

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Once it’s doubled in size, punch it down and portion into 16 pieces.

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Using an ample amount of flour, roll each portion out while the skillet is heating.

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Toss it in the pan, and watch as it begins to bubble and crisp. Flip as soon as mottled brown marks appear.

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Our favorite way to eat it is with shredded chicken, mozzarella cheese, roasted tomatoes, romaine lettuce and balsamic dressing. Delicious!

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For more of the history on Olga’s Kitchen restaurants (or to find one near you), visit Olgas.com.