Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Workouts - October 26, 2015

Recovery from my half marathon on Sunday is going...okay.  Well, everything is okay now, but there were definitely a few days this past week when I thought, "is this it?"  I even had a few moments when I thought my old injury had resurfaced.  Very frightening and very depressing.

As it turns out, racing requires a period of recovery, while your muscles repair and everything returns to normal.  The proverbial barn has burned down, and you have to start filling it with hay again.  During that time, it can feel like you have lost all your fitness.  If you are worried about that, all I can say is hang in there and keep working!

I also spent a few days this week with some bizarre stomach bug (toddlers, man!).  That really put a damper on things, and took a huge toll on Saturday's long run.  I spent most of the week running according to how I felt, doing injury prevention work, stretching, doing yoga, taking ice baths, and trying not to worry.  Now that it's Tuesday, and I've safely made it through a very challenging tempo workout, I feel confident I am completely recovered.

This photo was taken today (Tuesday, October 27).  See?  I'm fine now!

Monday: Rest.  The day after the race.  We took our son apple picking at two different orchards, shopped at farm stands, and took the scenic route home from Chattanooga.  A blissful, peaceful day.

[just imagine a lot of dreamy apple picking photos inserted here, which I can't do because 1) I'm not going to stick a camera in my son's face when he's enjoying the outdoors, and 2) I was too busy picking and eating apples.]

Tuesday: I got up and took my dog for a little jog, which was 1.6 @ 13:45.  I want her to run a 5k this winter, and we are working into it.  So, our usual morning walks have turned into little walk/run adventures, and she really likes them.  I also went to use the fancy gym treadmill, set my watch to show heart rate only, and ran for an hour in the aerobic zone (145-168).  It ended up being 6.3 @ 9:24.  It felt okay.

Wednesday: Incredibly sore...like the soreness from the race was just starting to kick in.  I just did a little walk/run session with my dog, which was 1.8 @ 13:27.  Afterward, I felt loose and alert, almost like you would feel after a good cup of coffee and a stretch.  I didn't do anything else that day except take Aleve.  I also got my period, which...yeah.  It's always so much worse after a race!  Why is that???!

Thursday: 6 @ 9:09 in a local park.  I had a work errand that took me across town and near a huge park with miles and miles of dirt running trails.  I did two laps on the 5k trails.  The weather was just gorgeous...hot, even.  I stripped down to a sports bra and even got a little sun.  The park was full of people who looked like novice runners, so I guess fall running season is finally beginning.

Friday: Sore, AGAIN.  I tried to be patient and gracious with my body, and do extra stretches.  I took my dog for her workout (2 @ 13:13, she's getting faster!) and didn't feel any better after.  I decided to ditch my running plans and do a lower body weights circuit and my yoga class.  Good call.

Two pies and a buckle made with our orchard apples.  Very therapeutic. 

Saturday: 10 @ 8:52.  Disaster.  This was my track club Saturday long run.  It was a HUGE positive split, and the last two miles were rough.  (I just checked and splits were 8:24, 8:51, 8:37, 8:44, 8:43, 8:46, 9:03, 9:03, 9:15, 9:19.)

A lot of things happened to make this a bad run.  I woke up with stomach problems, and got dressed anyway.  I did not check the weather and dressed too warmly (just to give you an idea of how insane Alabama is...I wore an actual shirt and it ended up being like 75 degrees and 99% humidity).  I stripped down to my ragged sports bra and quickly realized I was VERY dehydrated.  I wanted to stop for the bathroom, but the line was long (yep, a million people are out running and cycling on Saturday mornings).  I noticed we were six miles into a planned eight-mile run, so I decided to suck it up.  Mistake.  I quickly realized my pace group didn't care about mileage, and planned to take the more scenic route in, which would add two miles.  I had the option of 1) getting dropped and finishing eight miles by myself, or 2) staying with the group and running longer than I'd planned.  Boo.  I was so stressed about needing to pee that I didn't drink any water, and I didn't have any carbs.

Long story short, I actually hit the wall on a ten-mile run.  I had no idea that was even possible.  Like...what?  All I can figure is that my muscles were so depleted from my illness and the recent race that I just bonked.  It felt miserable, like all of my muscles were on fire.  My ARMS even hurt.  I made it back to the club house, though.  Barely.  I hung around for a while afterwards, chatting with a running buddy who felt similarly crummy and had also run the half marathon on Sunday.  I ate a protein bar from my car as soon as I could, and had an actual ice bath at home (ew).  I felt miserable the rest of the day, too.  I could barely eat and didn't even feel like standing up.

Sunday: Stomach virus day two.  Nope.  I just took my dog out for her 2 @ 13:45.  Which is no more strenuous than our ordinary walk.  I made an executive decision that I was not going to be able to make my mileage this week.  It happens.  I'm just not going to push myself when I can't stay hydrated or fueled, because that would be counterproductive. 

Totals: 30 miles of running (including some easy run/walk intervals with my dog), a weights session, a yoga class, and probably hours worth of stretching and injury prevention stuff. 

Never fear...even though this week seems like it was a disaster, I am much, much better now!  Thanks for reading, and have a great week. 


Friday, October 23, 2015

Race Report Part II: 4 Bridges Half Marathon in Chattanooga, Tennessee, October 18, 2015 (1:41:42 PR)

So, this will be the second part of my race recap.  Nap time only allows for so much writing, especially when I am feeling wordy.  If you're looking for Part I, it's right here.

Finish line.  We're getting there, I promise. 

The Start

I left the cursed porta potty area and stashed all my stuff in the track club tent.  This included my little fleece jacket, which I was very sad to take off.  It was about 40 degrees, which felt much colder to me in the dark and wind, after a summer of triple-digit runs.

Those of us who felt like posing for pictures before the start.  My track club had about 160 runners in the three races.  I'm second from the left in the front row, still shivering in my fleece jacket. 

By the time I started walking over to the starting chute, the crowd had increased substantially.  I started politely making my way through from the back, and saw pace signs for 4:00, 3:45 etc.  After a lot of "excuse me," I finally saw the 1:45 pacers in the very front.  Like, the pacers were literally standing in the first row.  I thought that was odd, because I knew several people in attendance who were planning to run close to 1:20 or 1:25.  I just kept walking forward, and eventually caught up to another woman doing the same thing.  She said, "pretend like we're together" and I held her hand while she led me to the third or fourth row back.  I knew I was in the right place when I saw my training partner Myrna.  We hugged and chatted with everyone around us.  There were perhaps twenty people I knew standing nearby, plus a guy who asked if he could run along with us.  Sure, dude. 


This part is a bit verbose (but honestly, were you expecting anything different from me?). I just really wanted to make a detailed record of what felt like a very strong race.  I enjoy reading race recaps, and I'm hoping you do too!  

Mile 1 - 8:17 
I don't remember the start, but it only took me a few seconds to get over the line.  I was running with the flow, and reminding myself not to chase or get carried away.   We went up and over Market Street Bridge, and Myrna and I tried to jump and pose for a photographer we saw.  The sun was only just starting to come up, and the photos are a bit too dark, haha.

If you look closely, you can see my neon arm warmers, aloft in a pose of exuberance.  I try.

Dark thirty.

Surrounded by Birmingham Track Club runners.  Myrna is in pink, and her boyfriend Carlos is in the red shirt.  I'm laughing because I crack myself up.

Mile 2 - 8:07
This included a bit of climbing (my watch assigned a 7:33 GAP) on something called Cameron Hill.  Honestly, I didn't feel it.  I was running in a little pack with my friends and working on staying in control.

Mile 3 - 8:01
We headed out for a little out-and-back on the west side of downtown.  Myrna jogged through a water stop, but she caught back up immediately.  She asked me whether I planned to jog water stops, and I decided on the spot that I wasn't going to use fuel or fluids until the halfway mark.  I was feeling really strong and the weather was nice and cool.  (This out-and-back was actually where the course was cut slightly short by the marshalls...more on that later.)

Here are some photos of Myrna and me running past the Chattanooga Aquarium.  She saw the camera, and I clearly didn't.  All these photos were free downloads for the registered runners...how cool is that??!

Mile 4 - 7:59
Whoops.  We dived below the magic 8:00 mark, and someone in front of me actually said, "you guys are speeding up."  I tried to reign it in a bit, but it was difficult, especially since I was running past so many of my club mates and they were all cheering.  Everyone looked like they were having such a great time.  It was just one of those moments...the sunrise was gorgeous, the air was cool and dry, and running felt effortless.    

Mile 5 - 8:06
I took off my wool hat and threw it alongside the road.  You're welcome, anyone who found it.  I have never tossed clothing during a race, but the hat was a $2 Walmart job.  The race packet said "donated to charity" so here's hoping it didn't end up in a landfill!  We went up and over another bridge (my watch assigned a GAP of 7:45 for this mile, but I didn't feel the hill).  I somehow got separated from Myrna somewhere in this mile...I think she dropped back for water?  Not sure.

Mile 6 - 8:18
We crossed back through Coolidge Park, where there was loud music and a lot of spectators. I ran this race without music and headphones.  (My iPod died in the torrential rain at the Peavine Falls Race this July, and I have been running without music ever since because I'm lazy.)  It was nice to be in the moment and hear people cheering and calling my name.  The course cut across a grassy field for a distance of about 50 meters, and into a loading dock area.  I was confused for a bit, and realized for the first time that the routes were marked with color coded tape.  Duh.

Mile 7 - 8:25
Again, a mile with some hills (8:02 GAP from my watch data).  Again, I didn't feel them.  Maybe perfect fall weather keeps you from struggling on hills?  Maybe I've magically gained the ability to run hills?  I DON'T KNOW!  At the end of the bridge, I walked through a water stop and drank a full cup of water.  Myrna ran past me, and it was clear she didn't see me.  Oh well!

Mile 8 - 8:24, Mile 9 - 8:22, Mile 10 - 8:06, Mile 11 - 8:18
These miles are the real meat of a half marathon.  Usually by this point in the race, I start to notice fatigue.  My legs start to get heavy, the action of running starts to feel odd and monotonous, and I can start to feel underfueled or dehydrated.  I just try to remember what it was like working as a pacer and keep a careful eye on my watch.  I tell myself that I just have to keep doing the SAME THING over and over to complete the race as planned.  I try to address problems with fuel and hydration before they hurt me.  I tell myself some of my favorite little mantras, like "keep your head up" and "you are comfortable and relaxed."

At the beginning of mile 8, I noticed I was a little low on fuel.  I am usually very good about picking up on this sensation...I feel a bit like I am floating, and like my shoes are heavy or sticking to the ground.  I wanted to eat one of my candy pumpkins, but like a genius I had put them in a tiny, sealed Ziploc baggie inside the key pocket of my tights.  I got the baggie out using brute force (compression tights are TIGHT, yo), but I was hopeless to open it up with my gloves on.  I finally slowed to a jog and ripped it open with my teeth.  Then, like an even bigger genius I stuffed a ripped bag of sugar candy down the front of my sweaty bra.  Yeah, I need to figure out a better fueling strategy.

This whole section of the course was fairly flat, and along a pedestrian riverwalk.  It was entirely pleasant, and the whole time I kept thinking, "man, I would totally run here all the time if I lived in Chattanooga!"

Mile 12 - 8:30
At the very beginning of this mile, an aid station appeared like some gorgeous desert fever dream.  I grabbed a cup from someone who was saying "Gatorade, Gatorade" and it was a heavenly two ounces of some of the strongest powdered sports drink concoction I had ever tasted.  Fueling strategy = DONE.  I felt all the sugar slam into me and was immediately better.  Amazing, even.  There was a huge downhill out of nowhere, and I didn't even care.  Spectators were yelling "GO BIRMINGHAM" and for some reason, I replied to them with "IT'S THE MAGIC CITY" and fist pumps.  We turned onto the Walnut Street pedestrian bridge, and I saw my family cheering for me!

Taken by my husband.  This is my trademarked "yes, I'm fine!" wave. 

Some dude said, "you're almost done!" and I thought, "naw man, we actually have another mile."  (Foreshadowing!)  I started to wonder where the course was going to head next, because we were getting very close to the staging area for the race.  No!  Suddenly, we were directed into the chute.  I looked up and saw the clock said 1:40:something and I was pissed!  I couldn't believe my watch was so off!  Could it really be possible that I had come so close to 1:40?  Surely not, given my current fitness.  I hadn't seen the 1:45 pacers at any point during the race.   For a moment, I actually considered that I had made a mistake and needed to keep going.  I ran through the whole chute, weighing my options, while volunteers sort of threw a medal, water bottle, and towel at me.

Yep, Short Course!

Once I got to the tent, it became apparent that, yeah, the course was short by about .6 miles.  FARK.  I hadn't exited the activity on my watch, and considered making up the distance with a lap around the park.  I knew I was on target to run close to 1:45, and felt very confused and disappointed with my time.  One of my friends said, "let it go, you're done."  So, I turned off my watch.  The whole thing was very anticlimactic.

But still...what a ridiculous gun time! 

Truth be told, I really wish I knew how well I had run this race, specifically over the half marathon distance.  Not some arbitrary 12.5 miles.  My average pace was 8:12, which would have given me 1:47:30.  But I had saved so much for a kick, and I was running a 6:20 pace at the end.  I absolutely believe I could have finished the race in 1:45, but I'll never know.  It's also too bad I now have a bogus "PR" that sets the bar impossibly high for like...the rest of my life.  But at the end of the day, I'm a recreational runner (and not even a terribly fast one) and I run for the thrill of accomplishment and  self-improvement.  What I enjoy most is the sensation of flying down the road with my mind empty and my body relaxed, not some arbitrary number.  And if I'm thinking too deeply about this, you're probably right.  That's how I roll.

She finished less than a minute ahead of me.  Reeeeeuniiiiited!

In the fallout from "Short Course Gate," I saw some truly immature, ungracious, and reprehensible behavior on social media.  In the end, the race directors offered half price entry to next year's race for anyone affected.  They apologized.  They apologized again, with a detailed explanation (BTW the problem was a misunderstanding by the police and was really, truly no one's fault).  Throughout the whole thing, I just kept thinking, "WHY U MAD, BRO?"

I had a great time, and would still highly recommend this race to anyone interested.  It would even be a great spot for a BQ attempt (hint, hint).  I was able to run the entire race well below my BQ pace (I need an 8:15-8:20 pace over the marathon distance to qualify with a decent margin).  For that, I am proud.  In the half marathon, I ended up 158/1425 overall, and 40/680 for women.  I was fourth out of 141 in my age group, so I just missed out on an age group award.  Next time!

Sunny, cold Coolidge Park.

After the Race

The tent was a hub of activity, and everyone was 1) totally impressed with the beautiful, fast course; 2) confused about the distance; then 3) disappointed in the error.  Everyone I spoke to finished happy and healthy, and we just hugged and high-fived and took pictures.

The sub-1:45 club. Izzy, Carlos, Myrna, me, Gary, and Loren.

After some confusion, I figured out that the food for runners was being served from a little truck behind the finish. I headed over there and got (okay probably stole) a big cup of coffee from a setup on a card table.  I am like a coffee dowser.  If there is coffee within my general area, I will find and drink it.  Especially after a hard run.  I could only finish half of my waffle, because I have no appetite for sweets after a race.  What I really want is salt...potato chips, fried eggs, and pickles.  Maybe all at the same time.  We moved to the sun and I tried to stretch out a bit.

Crime scene waffle.  No thanks.

We hung around until my urge for shelter and salty food took over, then we wandered around the city looking for the Whole Foods.  We bought lunch fixings and walked back to the hotel.  In total, I walked about four miles after the race, and I think it really helped my recovery.

We took our time heading home, hanging out in Chattanooga another night for pub food, then taking the scenic route home.  We hit up some apple orchards along the way, and BELIEVE YOU ME, there are some apple pies in my future.  Like I said, a great weekend.

There, that's the end!  You made it!

I was not compensated in any way for this writing.  I received a discounted race entry as a benefit of my membership in the Birmingham Track Club.  Which you should all totally join.  

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Race Report Part I: 4 Bridges Half Marathon in Chattanooga, Tennessee, October 18, 2015 (1:41:42 PR)

I've already hinted at it in an earlier post, but this race was one of the most enjoyable ones I have ever run.  I can't help smiling any time I think about the weekend of the race.  I have so much to say about the race that I decided to split it up into a few different posts.  They will be long and picture-heavy, so let's go ahead and get things started off right:

Finish line.  Man, I love running.

Early in summer, as soon as I decided I was safely past the worst of my injury, I registered for the 4 Bridges Half Marathon in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  This race is part of the 7 Bridges Marathon race weekend.  In order to help promote the race, and get a good turnout for a regional competition, my track club offered a significantly discounted race entry fee, and arranged to set up a tent near the staging area for all of us to use.  I was really excited to run this race, and made it a "social goal race."  I just wanted to do my best with the training that time would allow, and have a great time.

The Race

The half marathon, full marathon, and 5k all start in the same staging area, Coolidge Park on the north side of the Tennessee River.  The highlight of the race is, of course, the bridge crossings -- four for the half marathon and seven for the full.  The half marathon course stays in downtown Chattanooga, which is all pedestrian friendly and newly gentrified.  The city center is full of museums and other public spaces in swooping contemporary buildings, manicured parks, new condos, and wide pedestrian walkways.  For the 2015 half marathon, a huge portion of miles 7-11 were on a scenic riverwalk away from traffic.  The final bridge crossing was a beautiful wooden pedestrian bridge that really reminded me of the Brooklyn Bridge.  If you're interested in a lime-lapse video of the half marathon course, you can watch this one I found on Youtube.

The view from the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge.

You can check out my map on Strava for the elevation profile and overview.  According to Strava, this race had ~550 feet of climbing.  To me it felt completely flat, with one notable downhill near mile 12.  No mile had more than 75 feet of elevation change.  Flat, right?  Well, at the 5k I ran last month, some of my fast friends said, "oh, we're skipping that one...it's too hilly."  It kind of psyched me out, but then again they are trying to meet Olympic time standards and I would want a very flat course to attempt that, nawmeen?  Then on the day of the race, I overheard some people from Florida complaining about the hills.  So whatever, you decide.

My family at the Blue Boy rhinoceros sculpture in Coolidge Park.  

The expo was a small tent city set up in Coolidge Park, with booths from local track clubs, charities, and a few vendors.  Everything was well organized, and I was done quickly.  FYI there was also race-day packet pickup (but not registration).  The swag bag (which doubled as a drop bag for the race) had a wall poster of the route, a small towel, a gender-specific tech shirt, a granola bar my son immediately stole and ate, and a variety of fliers and other small items.  

Coolidge Park.

Training, Eating, Clothing, Etc.

All your burning questions will be answered right here!

I finally got my mileage back up above 30 mpw around the beginning of August.  In the six weeks leading up to the race, I averaged 36 miles of running each week.  I usually split this up over an easy run, a moderate distance run with hills, a shorter fast run, a tempo on the treadmill, and a Saturday long run with the track club.  My long runs were all 10-13 miles, and I sped them up as the weather cooled off and the race drew closer.  At the end, I was doing them at an 8:30-8:40 pace.

I generally take one or two rest days a week, take a yoga class, take a spin class, make time for one or two sessions with free weights, and do regular stretching and injury prevention stuff.  I log everything on here and on Strava, and I don't use a coach or follow any formal plan.  I just believe in 1) a wide variety of run types...hilly, flat, treadmill, outdoor, fast, slow, etc., and 2) consistent volume over many weeks.

In the weeks before the race, I was a little bit more careful about eating.  I cut out virtually all meat and fatty foods, and tried to simplify things a bit.  I limited myself to one cup of coffee in the morning, and one drink at night, and made sure to have at least five liters of water a day (I drink a lot of water...can't stop won't stop).  The week of the race, I didn't do any really fast or hilly runs, and I pretty much eliminated fatty foods.  Luckily, I'm in charge of dinner preparation, so I made things like pizza, pasta, curried lentils, split pea soup, and rice casseroles.  I also made sure I never felt hungry, and snacked on fig cookies, fruit, toast, and hot cocoa.

Typical breakfast.  It only has like 400 grams of carbs...eat your heart out ladies. 

The day before the race, I had oatmeal with raw sugar and raisins, pretzels and a light beer (yeah, in the daytime, YOLO), pasta with mung beans and bread, and a veggie burger with fries and a dark beer.  The morning of, I had half a plain bagel, candy pumpkins, and a caffeinated Hammer Gel.

I sort of freaked out about clothing for this race, because the temperature went from "every day feels like a thousand melting suns" to "holy shit what is this, frost?" within a few days.  My normal race clothing strategy involves wearing just enough to avoid being arrested for indecent exposure.  If it's cold, I just add mismatched layers until onlookers are confused, and either toss them or tuck them into my underwear as I run.  So, I packed basically an entire running wardrobe for the trip to Chattanooga.  I settled on a sports bra and Birmingham Track Club singlet, lightweight compression tights, arm warmers, gloves, and a ball cap (topped jauntily with a wool beanie and my $4 shades from ALDI).

Stylin'.  I'm still running in the Brooks Ghost 7, and I probably will continue to do so until there are none left in my size, at which point I will complain and panic. 

The Day Before

I already posted about the full week and crazy Saturday that preceded this race.  But when is life not crazy?  In a nutshell, my husband won second overall at a trail race near Birmingham and we didn't leave for Chattanooga until Saturday afternoon.  As we were headed out the door, I noticed Chattanooga is in the Eastern Time Zone.  I REPEAT: CHATTANOOGA IS IN THE EASTERN TIME ZONE.  It makes no sense, and it made me feel a little panicky.  Traveling east is never fun, especially with a toddler and a 5 am alarm to look forward to.

We hit the expo, walked around on some of the course, scouted a safe pedestrian route from the hotel to the start, and the found some dinner.  We decided on The Feed Company Table and Tavern, mostly because they had a kids' menu and the food I wanted: a veggie burger and a dark beer.

Ta-dahhhhh.  Sippy cup for scale.

The food was...okay.  I make a better veggie burger at home, and the whole scene was a little pretentious for my taste (speaking as someone who lived in Brooklyn during the hipster fluorescence, that is TOO PRETENTIOUS).  Also, the service was terrible and the place was just a din of chaos, with a party of about 30 teenagers on their way to a fall formal dance.  I was incredibly relieved to get back to the hotel and crawl into bed.

Morning Of

I slept pretty well, and only woke up a few times with my son.  He has trouble sleeping in strange or uncomfortable beds (you and me both, kiddo).  I finally forced myself out of bed around 5:15 and dressed in the bathroom by the light of my phone.  I ate as much bagel as I could stand (as it turns out, only half), had some candy pumpkins for good measure, and started jogging to the start.  I arrived to the Birmingham Track Club tent just in time to pose for a club photo and watch the full marathoners get into the starting chute. 

Front row, all black like a boss.  We also provided a lot of the pacers for the races, and they are the ones in the neon yellow shirts. 

The staging area was COLD, 40 degrees with the wind coming off the water.  I had a fleece jacket and tote bag to stash in the tent, so I spent a long time just huddled up with my club mates.  It was very dark (Eastern Time Zone, etc.), and there was a DJ playing pop dance music.  We may have done some of the whip.  And some of the nae nae.  Mostly the nae nae.  I ate a disgusting espresso flavored Hammer Gel for the caffeine.  I stood for the national anthem, and watched the full marathoners start.  After that, I found a porta potty and thought about lining up in the chute.

OMG you guys this post is so looooooong...I can't control it.  I think I'm going to stop here and leave you in suspense until tomorrow.  I KNOW.  And tomorrow's post is the good one, because it will be all the splits and rambling, disjointed thoughts I have while running.  Don't worry, you can sneak a peak at Strava if you don't feel like waiting.

UPDATE:  Part II of this race report is now posted HERE.

I was not compensated in any way for this writing.  I received a discounted race entry as a benefit of my membership in the Birmingham Track Club.  Which you should all totally join. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Workouts - October 19, 2015

This one is a bit late, because I was away over the weekend.  I turned down the volume and intensity this past week, as a mini taper before my half marathon on Sunday.

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 5.3 @ 8:43 on my favorite loop around town.  This was the run where I busted out my new shoes and broke them in a little.  These shoes are going to get me through two half marathons and a 10k, then take over when my current pair starts feeling too soggy. 

This is not relevant to the post, except to show you the beautiful from-scratch apple butter and pie spice rolls I made.  And my slippers.  Two things that are very important to race week. 

Wednesday: 5.6 @ 8:32, tried to keep it fairly flat and close to home.  This is easier said than done in Birmingham, and I usually end up running along the train tracks and through the industrial park.  It's not scenic, but it works.

Thursday: 5.1 @ 8:42.  This was the last "real" run before my race, and it was a fartlek workout on the treadmill.  McMillan says to do a fartlek run three days out, so I figured why not?!  I don't really follow any particular training plan, and I prefer to listen to my body and consult popular plans like McMillan.  It was fun to feel some speed in my legs without totally exhausting myself.

Friday: Just my hour-long vinyasa yoga class.  It felt weird walking straight into class cold, because I normally run beforehand.

Saturday: I planned to do a little 2-3 mile shakeout, but that totally didn't happen for me.  As it turned out, Saturday was bonkers insane.  My husband decided a while back that he wanted to do a 16-mile trail race at a nearby state park, so we were up early.  We had to get the dog to the kennel and drive to his race, toddler in tow.  We got him there 10 minutes before the start!  He ended up winning second overall and a big cash prize, so I'm glad we went.  I really enjoy the trailhead scene at these races.  W can run around and play with other feral runners' kids, and I can make good decisions like grabbing beer and potato chips from the aid station.  Which I did.  YOLO.

My badass husband wrecking a 16-mile trail race in 2:15:58.  Ca$h money, y'all. 

We hung around the trailhead for a while, chatted with friends, and had some snacks.  Nate's running buddy won first overall, so we took some silly pictures.  We are actually planning to run a trail ultramarathon this December as a four-person relay team -- the running buddy, his fast wife, Nate, and me.  Relay = we all get to run, and no babysitters needed.  After that, it was back home to grab our luggage, eat quick lunches, and drive to Chattanooga.  I was trying not to stress (as I am prone to do before big races), so once we arrived we just strolled a few miles around downtown Chattanooga to relax.  No shakeout. 

Toddler on the loose at the trailhead. 

Sunday: Race day!  I jogged the 1.7 miles to the starting area for the race very, very slowly.  I took my time and really shook my legs out.  It was pretty cold out, so I was glad to get my blood pumping.  I ran the half marathon at an 8:10 pace, beautiful splits, no wall in sight, and had a fantastic time.  That should have brought me in to the finish line at 1:47:xx, but because of a slight problem with the course (which affected all runners similarly), my official time was recorded as 1:41:45.  I'm trying to be a good sport about the timing error, but I am completely elated with my race result.  I will do a recap later in the week, of course.  I ran a very strong race, with even splits and less than 5 seconds of walking, and I'm super excited to see what I can accomplish now with the rest of fall.  Oh, and P.S. I didn't feel ANY pain during the race, and I am fairly confident the hip injury is behind me (KNOCK KNOCK).

I'm planning a few posts about the race when I can make the time, but for now, I'll leave you with this photo of my mean mug at mile 12:

Game face. 

Have a great time this week, everyone!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Headed Home from Chattanooga

Just a quick update, guys.  I far, far exceeded what I thought I was capable of at the race in Chattanooga yesterday.  I ran a massive PR, and had an amazing race.

You couldn't ask for a more beautiful course.

Waving to my family at mile 12...honestly, this whole race felt good.

If anyone is thinking about running the 7 Bridges Marathon or 4 Bridges Half Marathon in Chattanooga next year, I highly recommend it.  Aside from some minor problems with the course (which I'll address in my race recap later this week), it was the perfect race and I had the most positive experience.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Workouts - October 12, 2015

Annnnd...here are the workouts for this past week!  I am racing on Sunday, so this was the "last hard week" before a little cutdown.  I really hope the hay is in the barn, because I'm about to burn that thing down!

Just your typical dual selfie in a hotel room hallway.  I cut bangs, BTW.  I just have so much forehead that I really do need them.  I just can't always handle them in the heat of summer.  And hopefully that is behind us now?

WARNING: this post will be verbose.  I just spent last night working through the night on a huge project, and now I'm trying to wind down and have a cup of coffee.  

Monday: 7.6 @ 8:48 around downtown Austin, Texas.  We traveled to Austin for my husband's work, and our hosts put us up in an apartment just north of the main city center.  On this trip, our days were completely packed from 7 am to 9 pm.  I'm not joking...the faculty coordinator gave us printed schedules that had only a few 15-minute breaks throughout the day.  I decided that I would just have to get started with my runs by 5:45 am, and set my alarm accordingly.

The view from our guest suite window.  I still can't believe that this is less than a mile from the main quad at UT.

What I totally failed to notice is that Austin is at the western edge of the Central time zone, and the sun doesn't come up until around 7:30 am this time of year.  And I packed black shorts and a black singlet.  Great.  Once I realized what was happening, I was already awake and dressed.  I figured I could just operate by my normal outdoor running motto, which is: "Pretend you are invisible, and every car is trying to hit you."  In other words, super cautious.  I was also a bit worried about just...general running safety (I know, I know, downtown Birmingham is probably WAY more dangerous than downtown Austin).  I try not to think too hard about that stuff, and I tend to assume that most people are kind and rational by nature.

Once I got out on the street, though, I immediately saw like seven other runners, including a few other women running alone.  Yes, the run was completely in the pitch black dark.  But is was entirely enjoyable.  I ran north until the numbered streets ended, then I made a U-turn back to the campus of UT.  By the time I got to campus, the morning rush hour was just beginning and people were biking and walking around with their first cups of coffee.  As I ran across the quad, the entire eastern sky was beginning to turn bright red.  I found a few rolling hills and navigated using landmarks all the way back to our guest suite.

That night's dinner was an AMAZING vegan nut burger from Hat Creek, along with a few house made unfiltered Saison beers. 

Half of the restaurant was outdoors, with a giant slide and play area for the kids. 

Tuesday: 7 @ 8:47 on a different route through Austin.  Another faculty member and runner recommend that I try a new city greenbelt along Lamar Boulevard.  I wanted a nice loop run, so I studied Google Maps for a while before deciding on a general plan.  I ran south across the entire UT campus, down Sixth Street (where there were still people out drinking, haha), and all the way back up Lamar.  As promised, the greenbelt was peaceful and obviously popular with local runners.  I just wish it had been light out!  And maybe that I had run the loop in reverse so I didn't run the whole greenbelt going uphill, haha.

Wednesday: 3.2 @ 8:30.  I started this run a bit too late, and my stomach didn't feel great.  But any run is better than no run, right?  We left UT and stopped off at my sister's house to let all the kids play together.


Thursday: 7 @ 9:14 on a treadmill.  Probably the most horrifying treadmill I have ever run on.  It was in a windowless, carpeted, un-air-conditioned room.  The entire room was probably 8x8 and contained a treadmill, an elliptical, a stationary bike, and a scale.  There was one mirrored wall and a television set on local news at full volume.  This run felt a lot harder than it should have, and my heart rate was oddly high the entire time as well.  Mystery.

The worst treadmill east of the Mississippi.

Friday: A lower body weights circuit and an hour-long vinyasa yoga class.

Saturday: 10.6 @ 8:34.  This was the last hard run before the race next Sunday.  It felt amazing.  Again, I ran with Myrna and a few other people from the 9:00 pace group who were upping their pace.  This included my friend Izzy who is the most positive, upbeat, and happy person ever.  He was drinking pickle juice and talking about how excited he was for Chattanooga, and I found it hilarious and motivating.  Good run.

Sunday: An hour-long spinning class.

Totals: 35.4 miles of running, including one treadmill slog and a longer run at tempo.  One weights session, a yoga class, and a spinning class.  No rest days!

Have a great week, everyone.  


I'm Racing in Six Days!

Six days until my half marathon!  I am happy to say that I am 99% sure I will make it to the starting line healthy and uninjured!  Ever since spring's disaster and the resulting physical therapy and rehab, this has been a huge concern of mine.  Coming back from an injury takes so much patience and dedication.  It has been a real test and opportunity for personal growth. 

I am very excited to race on Sunday.  First of all, I want to represent the Track Club and help us place overall in the regional competition.  I'll be in club kit for the race, and I'm so excited!  I also want to see all of my club friends at the post race party and just generally have a great time on Sunday night.  Of course, I want to run a strong, smart race.  I don't have any specific time goals, as the half marathon isn't something I've worked very hard for in the past.  Anything below 1:54 would be a PR for me. 

If anyone pressured me, I'd say I am approaching the race like this: A) sub-1:48, which I know reflects my current fitness and ability, B) sub-1:54, which would be a PR for a "raced" 13.1, C) run a negative split over the course, avoid walk breaks, and finish with my current pace group.  I do know that I am DEFINITLEY going to run the first mile in exactly nine minutes and take some time to relax, clear my head, and get focused.  I expect you guys to hold me to that! 

In the days leading up to the race, here's what I'm doing:

- Extra carbs and less fat.  Plenty of water.  Basically, all of the diet-related stuff I should be doing year-round. 

- No strength training or more advanced yoga classes.

- Extra doses of probiotics and vitamin C (I've still got a lingering sinus infection, something my body likes to do a few times a year).  I'm also taking some tumeric, which is a new thing for me and seems to be helping. 

- Twice-weekly visits to the chiropractor.

- Some extra rest days, and no more of my famous ten-mile hilly runs at race pace :)

- Enjoying the extra free time and actually styling my hair. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Workouts - October 5, 2015

Here are the week's workouts!

A photo from this week's Track Club social.  I'm kneeling next to the stroller in neon yellow arm warmers. 

This has been a much better week.  We're actually on the road (again), but this trip is much less stressful.  It's more travel for my husband's work, and I'm telecommuting from hotel rooms and coffee shops, but it hasn't been too bad.  I STILL have a sinus infection.  I might end up having to go to the doctor for it...ewwwwww.

Monday: 4 @ 8:57 on the treadmill, followed by a 70-minute easy yoga class.  I woke up with such TIGHT legs from the Sunday night 5k and just felt like a needed a good, flat warmup and a nice stretch.

Tuesday: Rest.  Again, this was much needed.

Wednesday: 7 @ 9:17 around my neighborhood, didn't look at my watch and just tried to run some rolling hills and get some good aerobic miles in the bank.

Thursday: 8 @ 8:52 over a very hilly and challenging route.  I felt like pushing myself again and felt strong.

Friday: 5 @ 7:50 on the treadmill, plus my normal hour-long vinyasa yoga class.

Saturday: This was the day of a big Track Club social and course preview for the Vulcan 10k, which is coming up in early November.  I jogged the 1.2 miles from home to the start at a nice 10:00 pace, just to get my blood pumping (6 am on a cold, rainy day is not the best time for me to start a long run!).  Then, I did two laps of the 10k course for a total of 11.5 @ 8:38.  It was a bit short because I stopped at my home on the second lap.  Again, I ran with my speedy friend Myrna and we agreed to run the whole thing "comfortable-hard" to put hay in the barn for Chattanooga.  She is a huge motivation and a great running partner.  We also ran with three guys from the Track Club and made two stops for water.

That's Myrna next to me in pink.  The tall guy with the stroller is my husband's running buddy and they are FAST. 

I love my track club :)

Sunday: Rest.  Again, much needed.  That's my motto..."work hard, play hard."

Totals: 37 miles of running, including two easy runs, a hill run, tempo on the treadmill, and a longer run at tempo.  Two yoga classes.  Probably three injury prevention sessions.  Two actual rest days (!).

Have a great week, you guys. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Workouts - September 28, 2015

In all the excitement of recapping Sunday's 5k, I almost forgot to do my workouts update!

This past week has...been challenging.  Sometimes, just making the time to run is difficult, and making the time to TRAIN with a purpose seems damn near impossible.  Everyone in the family has been sick for about six days, and I seem to have gotten the worst of the sinus stuff.  Can't shake it!  On Friday night, the (hopelessly cracked) screen of my cell phone actually fell partially out, rendering the phone unusable.  Then, we took a two-day trip to Tennessee for my husband's work.  We were in a place that required walking (and pushing a stroller) and it rained.  The.  Entire.  Time.

But!  Now we're home, W is at school, I have a replacement phone, and I can almost breathe!  I am about to head out for a little MLR in some deliciously wet and foggy fall weather.  Here are the workouts:

Monday: 8 @ 8:55, around my new favorite downtown loop.  I didn't check my watch and just tried to run relaxed.

Tuesday: 1 mile warmup, then 6 @ 7:58 on the treadmill, followed by some stretching

Wednesday: 4.6 @ 8:59 (haha!) on a hilly out-and-back that goes up a local "mountain"

Thursday: Rest, starting to feel sick

Friday: 3 @ 9:10 on the treadmill, an hour-long vinyasa yoga class

Saturday: 11 @ 8:35 with the Track Club.  I ran with a new person named Myra.  She wanted to run 8:30 and didn't know the route, so I offered that I would navigate while she paced.  Of course, I warned her that 8:30 is a bit of a reach for me over this type of distance.  I think we did okay, though, and we were able to tack an extra three miles onto the Track Club eight-mile route.  Splits were 9:07, 8:29, 8:24, 8:23, 8:30, 8:26, 8:28, 8:23, 8:37, 8:44, 8:49 and we stopped three times for water.  It felt okay, just comfortable-hard the entire time.  It's interesting to me that I will have to run about an 8:15 pace to qualify for the Boston Marathon (with a bit of a margin).  Right now, it seems like it could be doable but challenging with the right training.  Anyway!

Sunday:  I ran a local 5k in 22:47 (7:20 pace), good enough for third female.  My friend Elena won with a 17:2x, and another woman finished right before me.  It was a fun evening.  I really need to practice the 5k more.  Not for any particular purpose, but just as a way to educate myself and know my body better.  There is a point about two-thirds of the way into the 5k that I begin to feel a perfect mix of physical pain and mental exhaustion.  The last mile is absolutely hell, and I want to learn how to change that.  Blah, blah, blah.  Oh, I also ran a warmup and cooldown at the race, for a total of about 4.5 miles.

Totals: 38.5 miles of running, one yoga class, random injury prevention and stretching.  As always, you can follow me on my Strava page where I post all the gory details and upload my watch and HR monitor data.  Have a great week!