Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Joy is in the Journey

I wrote a long analytical post about my goals for Grandma's Marathon, but I haven't hit "publish" on it yet.  A marathon build is a monstrous training endeavor for a single race, and no matter how remarkable the outcome of that race, the journey to the starting line is more significant.  I once said that I'd enjoy marathon training even if it did not end in racing a marathon, and I hold to that.  Falling in love with the process is crucial.  No matter how my race goes, I've already succeeded because I've loved this training block!
The 3 of us are going to Grandma's!
Some highlights include:
  • The clear choice for my favorite part is the time spent with all of my wonderful training partners.  Some friends I ran with once, others I pounded the pavement on farm roads with multiple times a week, but every mile spent in good company is something I'll always treasure!
  • Running buddy highlights include (excuse me for forgetting many!):
    • Running a workout in 38*, 20 mph wind, and light rain; Amy was coming over to run her workout on the same course or else I don't think I'd have gotten out!  She said the same thing, and then she went on to run in even worse conditions at the Boston Marathon.
    • One of my running buddies tripped over a dead opossum in the darkness...that'll teach her to wear a headlamp!
    • One of my running buddies stopped to go to the bathroom on a road we never see anyone on, and while I was waiting for her a man came out to get his mail just in time to see her run out from behind the trees.  We said hi to him and moved on!
    • Once I stopped to pee during a long run after our group had spread out.  I told the guys to go ahead, and made a very fast stop because I wanted to catch back up to them.  Rebecca was behind me and got to witness my Shalane-at-Boston-fast pee stop.
    • Amy has been trying to get a Lululemon ambassadorship (and she should!) and she is in several Lulu groups, so she takes photos of all of her run outfits to post.  I enjoyed photobombing some of them and posing with her in others; it became a post-run tradition.  Anytime she ran with me and her run was too fast, she started putting the tag #blameSara on her notes for her coach (who is also my coach).
    • Whenever Rebecca and Claudio both came to a run, it was guaranteed they would speak to one another in Spanish at some point, which I always enjoyed listening to.
    • Amy P. met me at work at lunchtime for my second runs whenever she could, and the break from work to run and chat with her was always very welcome, but we always needed more miles than we had to really catch up!
    • I had many medium long runs with Jessi while she finished her collegiate career, but the most memorable was one day I was able to take a long lunch at work due to a cancellation, after we'd missed the morning's run due to ice on the ground.  Running 11 miles at lunch in daylight was sure nice on that cold day!
    • Daniel joined for a group run after some time off, and ended up running 15 miles with us after having gone no farther than 7 the entire season.  I tried to convince him to sign up for a marathon at that point.
    • Michelle and I live 4 hours apart, but texted all of the time about our Grandma's training, and ran three of the same races during our build (Big 12 12K, Rock the Parkway, Bill Snyder Half).  We got to meet once for a training run when I was at my in-laws in Kansas, in a little town named Burlington that was halfway between our locations.
    • Missy is our group "mama" and always looking out for traffic for us.  She calls one of our routes The 11 Mile Death Loop.
  • Solo runs are also very enjoyable for me.  I do some of my best thinking, praying, and problem-solving while pounding the pavement.
  • Tales of terrible weather, from the coldest winter we've had in years, to a very windy and brief spring, to sweltering humidity.  In January I set a record for the coldest temperatures I'd ever run in, in March I ran a workout in the coldest and windiest rain I've ever run in, and recently I've worn long sleeves and ear warmers in temperatures I'd be burning up wearing a sports bra and shorts only in.  It's sure nice to run in ideal weather, but the crap weather always makes better stories!
  • Learning to race longer races without tapering.  I've raced plenty without tapering, but this season I became an expert in racing half marathons completely unrested, which I hadn't done before.  The main factor was staying out of my own head about it!
  • Heat acclimation death...I have never over-dressed so much for so many runs!  This was not a fond laundry memory, but I did laugh a lot about it for various reasons ("Bet my neighbors wonder why I'm in a sports bra and shorts one day [workout day] and in long sleeves and a hat the next!").
  • In both the Bill Snyder and Rock the Parkway halves I had the pleasure of running with and chatting with someone for most of the race, Sharon and Janell respectively.
  • Traveling to the Illinois Half Marathon with my parents was wonderful.
  • My "oops" story of the training cycle is that one day after I ran at lunch from work, I placed my gross sweaty running clothing in a bag I was taking to a meeting at another location.  I only intended to put it in the bag to carry it to my car since my hands were full, but I forgot to take it out when I got to my car and ended up taking it into the work appointment with me.  I'm sure hope I was the only one who noticed it!
  • I wrote a post all about my mileage this build in comparison to other builds, but I didn't hit "publish" on that one either, and a bullet probably suffices.  In the 18 weeks prior to race day (presuming I run exactly what is scheduled between now and race day), I averaged 70.3 miles a week!  No weeks were below 62 (except race week will be), and I had 3 weeks in the 80s.  The simple fact that I did this 100% healthy is a huge highlight!  My average mileage in the 18 weeks before CIM was 67.4, so this cycle was not drastically different, but still notable.  The drastic difference comes when I point out that the highest average I'd had in any build prior to CIM was around 56!  I've done some marathon build comparisons before, which can be viewed here (this table has 20 week mileage averages) and here (this table has 12 week mileage averages).  I also confess that the reason I went with my 18 week mileage average for the statistic this build was because my 20 week average was 69.8, haha!  My 12 week average would be higher, but I want credit for how many consecutive weeks I've been running 65+ mpw too.  I felt like I handled the mileage better this cycle than I did before CIM as well.
You can track me via the Grandma's Marathon app (search Grandma's Marathon in the app store and it will pop right up).  I am F42, which means I am ranked 42nd female, and I will try to place higher than that.  The race is Saturday, June 16 starting at 7:45 a.m., so the count-down is on!
Illinois Half trip
Illinois Half trip
Amy's daily Lulu photo
Jessi's last Mentor run before moving
One of the four times I was with Michelle in
person (we talked a lot more than we saw
each other)
Heat acclimation with Amy & Jeff

Friday, June 1, 2018

Hitting my Stride: May in Review!

May 2018

Total mileage for the month:  355 (in comparison:  January - 207, February - 254, March - 298, April - 307).  I guess this is peak month -- also a monthly mileage personal record!  Before this month I'd only run one week of mileage in the 80s ever (CIM peak mileage week), and the most I'd run in a month was 323 in October 2017.
  • April 30-May 6: 76.2
  • May 7-13:  81.0 (all time weekly mileage PR)
  • May 14-20:  82.2 (all time weekly mileage PR, the sequel)
  • May 21-27:  86.7 (all time weekly mileage PR, part 3 in this trilogy!)
  • May 28-June 3:  projected at 72
We start many runs from this church & loved this sign!
  • May 19:  The Bill Snyder Highway Half Marathon in 1:21:41 for 2nd overall female.  I was thrilled with this outcome with the mileage I had on my legs for this race (which I intended to run as a workout).  Running a 1:21 during an 82 mile week has to be good for marathon training, right?
My May 19 race time was the second fastest half a woman
ages 35-39 has ever run on a certified course in Kansas
  • May 2:  3 x 2 mile split tempos in 6:07, 6:05 / 6:09, 6:05 / 6:12, 6:02 (6:06 average) with 0.5 recovery jogs (2.2 warm up, 2.3 cool down).  This was a pretty big workout a few days off of the Illinois Half, but so goes marathon training!  My goal pace range was 5:55-6:10, and as per always I'd prefer to hit the lower end, especially at the end of the workout, but my legs were tired the entire run so I was happy to mostly hang on to the range.  I  had a hard time getting rolling on the final rep, and at about a half mile in I was averaging 6:23 pace, so I had to fight to bring the second to last mile down to 6:12.  This was my first warmer workout, at 66* and 75% humidity...which is not bad, but was an abrupt change from the 30s-40s!
  • May 9:  Flippin' Fartlek (2.3 warm up, 2.3 cool down).  This workout is pushes of 6', 5', 4', 3', 2', 1' with recoveries of 1', 2', 3', 4', 5'.  My push paces were 5:56, 6:01, 5:57, 5:48, 5:42, 5:18.  I also ran this workout last month, so the obvious objective was to beat last month's paces, and I am happy to report that I mostly did that even at a humid 71 degrees.  The 6', 3', 2', and 1' were faster this time; the 5' was 2 sec. slower and the 4' was exactly the same pace.  I am pretty sure the 1' push is the fastest pace I've hit all year, although in full disclosure it included some decline and Strava grade-adjusted it to 5:30, whomp whomp.  But on the flip side, Strava grade-adjusted the 6:01 5' push with some incline to 5:58.  All in all I was perfectly happy with all of this on marathon training legs.
  • May 16:  Medium long 12.3 miler with 0.15 (1:00ish) pick-ups in the final 5 miles.  My push paces were 5:40, 5:27 (downhill), 6:07 (uphill), 5:40, 5:40 (average for the whole run was 7:13).  The last time I ran a similar workout (March 27) I struggled to hit 6:30 paces on the pick-ups for whatever reason, so it was nice to not repeat that!  It was fun to have a little work within the run instead of just a straight base one, and between the pick-ups my pace stayed faster than it had been before they started, I think because they opened up my stride. 
  • May 19:  13.1 miles at tempo (6:13 average), with 2.2 warm-up and 5 cool-down.  This wasn't the 3 x 4 mile split tempo workout I had planned, but hitting my goal tempo pace for those for 13.1 miles continuously instead was sure a confidence boost that I could use!  Details are here.
  • May 23:  12 miles with 4 progressive fast finish in 6:48, 6:34, 6:21, 6:17 (7:01 average for all 12.3 miles).  My goal splits for the progressive fast finish were 6:45, 6:35, 6:25, 6:15, so I was right on, but this type of workout always makes me wonder how in the world I ever ran a marathon at about the same pace as those final 2 miles, and even more so how I just ran 13.1 miles straight at 6:13 pace 4 days prior to this workout.  In other words, that last mile was really hard!  It was an uphill finish (our infamous Mentor Hill) and I was solo, but whew. 
  • May 29:  8 x 0.25 hill repeats (3 warm up, 3 cool down).  Hill repeats always make me feel like I'm going to go into cardiac arrest, but I'd chose this workout over 8 x 400 m on the track any day. This workout was extra challenging since I started it on tired legs (it usually takes me nearly a week to really come back from 24 milers)...I feel like I'm a broken record mentioning running everything on tired legs, but that pretty much covers my month!  I got them done with grade-adjusted paces between 5:30-5:53.  Actual paces were all over 7:00, showing how challenging the hills I run these on are.  Climbing 97+ ft in 0.25 mile is no joke!
  • Doubles on May 2, 7, 9, 14, 16, 21, 23, and 28.
  • Strides on May 3, 14, 27, 31, and at least a few before all workouts. 
  • Full body strength workouts on May 2, 5, 9, 12, 15, 20, 23, 26 (after 24.5 miles!), 30, and 5-10 minutes of core work nearly every day. 
  • Favorite workout:  Definitely the tempo turned race at the Bill Snyder Half on May 19, but if I can't count that then the split tempos on May 2.  None of my workouts were bad this month, so that also feels like a big victory (refer to earlier this season when all of my workouts went poorly)!
Long Runs:
  • May 5:  18.3 miles base pace (6:57).  I celebrated this one!  I am pretty good at pacing by effort level on runs, so when I saw a sub-7:00 mile split on mile 3 when my effort was low, I had a flashback to the relaxed long runs that I did leading up to CIM when I was averaging 6:5X.  This season I've often wondered how I did those and how they seemed so easy!  But on this run I felt back to my fall self, and clipped off the miles on rolling farm roads (608 ft elevation gain).  My final 8 miles were all 6:39-6:50 (except for one 6:56), and they felt amazing!  I was very thankful for this run.  Rebecca joined me for about 6 middle miles (from about 3.5-9.5...we have a meeting up system because no one else is currently doing marathon long runs), but otherwise I was solo enjoying God's creation.
  • May 12: 22.7 miles (7:03).  Hello summer!  I was pleased to get this big one done and to finish feeling strong!  Apparently over-dressing on cooler runs really helped (more details below), because I usually suffer on my first few long runs in warmer temps, and even though I went straight from 47 degrees on May 5 to 71 degrees and 80% humidity for this run, it didn't phase me aside from needing more fluids.  I ran 3.5 miles to meet Rebecca, ran about 9 miles with her, ran to a spot Amy had dropped water, then ran a course that Amy and Jeff were running in the opposite direction so I could say hi to them on the way back to my house.  I dropped bottles with nuun in two spots, carrying 2 bottles for 0.3 then 1 bottle for 1.1 farther to place them at spots I'd be passing again later in the run.  I drank at approximately 6.5, 12 (also a gel), and 18.  I didn't stop my watch for any bottle pick ups, but grabbed them while on the run (also no bathroom stops).  I did have to stop twice to safely cross a highway, so my elapsed time was 25 seconds longer than my moving time, whomp whomp (I try not to stop my watch on these runs since race clocks don't stop)!  The course I ran had 696 ft elevation gain, and when I had to choose from 2 routes that would get me back home from mile 17.5ish, I chose the more difficult course over the easier one that I knew would give me faster splits.  I want to be prepared for Lemondrop hill around mile 22 of Grandma's!  My 22 miler before CIM was 9 second/mile faster average, but it was also in 28 degrees (I love that Garmin Connect saves weather data), so I think this was comparable.
  • May 19:  20.4 miles (2.2 warm-up, 13.1 at 6:13, 5 cool-down), described above and extensively here.
  • May 26:  24.5 miles (7:00), The Big One!  I hoped to run around 7:00 pace, so I was happy to hit that right on, although of course 6:59 would have been better!  Always thankful, never satisfied, right?!  It was warm (72*), sunny (no shade on the route), and humid (90% humidity) for this, and I wanted to finish it faster/stronger than I did, but based on how I felt during the final few miles I was happy just to hold my pace steady.  It pretty much felt like the end of a marathon, and I kept telling myself "This is making you stronger, this is good practice for the marathon, just run the mile you're in" and also "Just get in and don't walk!", which is something I've told myself in the final miles of many marathons.  The course had almost 800 ft of elevation gain, which is almost double what Grandma's has.  I took one gel during the run and that was not enough (my blood sugar got really low towards the end), so lesson learned to at least carry two, but again probably good practice.  I ran 6 with Rebecca, 6 alone, then 12 with Daniel.  A big thanks to him for pulling me along at a consistent pace towards the end when I was struggling!  I again did all of my drinking on the run and had no stops.  My 24 before CIM was a little faster, but it was 42* for that one so I feel this was comparable.  When I got in from the run, my husband went outside for a bit then came back in and said, "It's jungle humid; 7:00 pace is like 6:45 today!"  I hope he was right!  This run was also a good reminder that although overall I'm dying less in the warmer temps this season, they do still affect me so if Grandma's is warm I need to go out more conservatively.  Around 70* and sunny feels way warmer than 70* and cloudy too!
  • My Wednesday medium long runs all morphed into workouts this month, so are described above.  It also seemed like I ran double-digit mileage more days than not, making there no real distinction between medium long runs and every day runs this month.
  • Favorite long run:  I'm going with the 22.7, because I felt stronger at the end than I did on the 24.5!
Amy, Jeff, and I are all Grandma's bound!
  • While I sure hope it's not hot and humid for Grandma's Marathon, I'm training as if it will be.  I suffered hard in the Dam to Dam Half last year, when we were hit with temperature and humidity levels much higher than anything I'd trained in during our relatively cool spring, and I don't want to repeat that.  I did a lot of over-dressing in training this month, wearing more clothing than I needed on most easy morning runs I did.  I never imagined how much I'd sweat wearing a stocking hat at 65*!  Of course, I also never thought I'd wear a stocking cap running at 65*...  My friend Liz and I used to call runners who over-dressed at races "Arctic Runners", and every time I'd put on too much clothing I'd think about that term!  Not dying in or even feeling bothered by the warmer humid temperatures during my 22.7 miler and at The Bill Snyder Highway Half made me confident this strategy works.  Dying a little on my 24 miler made me confident that sunny is more difficult than cloudy at the same temperature!
  • I had blood work done in April that showed some irregularities that may have explained my running slump in February and March.  Since I was already feeling much better when I had it completed, my doctor wasn't too worried and had me re-test about a month later, and I am happy to report that everything is back to normal in May!  The high values in my April test indicated that I had a virus, possibly mono, which is crazy but would certainly explain why I had many runs where I was grossly off the paces I should have been able to run.
    • I feel like female runners are constantly told that we are likely to be low on iron, so I'd started taking an iron supplement back in February when I was feeling bad, thinking that was perhaps why.  My blood work came back high on iron, indicating that I didn't need a supplement!  I stopped taking it as soon as I got those results, but learn from my mistake and don't supplement unless your physician has approved it, even if society tells you that you probably need it.  I'm lucky I was only taking it for a short time period; too much iron over a long period can damage your liver and kidneys.
  • I logged into my Athlinks account for the first time since turns out I had a lot of unclaimed race results, but now it's mostly updated.  I'm not sure why some races are on there while others aren't, but my only one missing that really mattered was my half marathon PR race.  As I was going through to claim my results, it really reminded me just how many races I've run that were the wrong distance over the years, with results including a 10K in the 35s (short!) and a mile that was 6:08 (long!).
  • No days off again this month; I've run every day since 1/27/18...if all goes according to plan my next day off may be June 17, the day after Grandma's (or I may run a little that day to promote recovery, we shall see...but I will take the week after mostly off).
Heat adaptation
Photo bombing Amy's daily Lululemon photo after heat adapting
My fast young training partner left for med school, but I'm
going to convince her to run a marathon with me soon
Life events:
  • Albani had Awana awards night.
  • Albani ran her second ever 5K at the Girls on the Run 5K on May 5.  It was warm, and before the race she said she was worried the weather would hurt her race time.  She really does listen to things I say!  After the race we went to Artsfest (a lot of walking outside), and that afternoon Albani ran all around playing with a neighbor.  We all slept well that night! 
  • Mother's Day!  Albani gave me a sweet card that she and Jon bought when I was present (they tried to be sneaky but were very bad at it) and a bird feeder she made at school.  After church that day I got a nap and we watched the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials from YouTube, hah. 
  • Albani's art was chosen out of over 3,000 pieces created at her elementary school this year to be exhibited in Missouri State's art education department, and we got to attend a special young artist's reception.  
  • We did a family fun weekend in Manhattan following the Bill Snyder Highway Half Marathon! I am so thankful to be able to incorporate races into activities like this, and that my family supports my racing.
  • May 24 was the last day of school!  Albani will go to summer school in June, because our district offers it for everyone and she enjoys it, plus I like keeping her in the routine and getting some extra learning in.  They will do a unit on inventions and get to make their own creation!  I cannot believe I have a 5th grader...
  • We took Albani to the drive-in movie theater for the first time over Memorial Day weekend.  I hurt for about 36 hours afterward from staying up until 1:00 a.m.!
  • We do a lot more outdoor and weekend activities when the weather is nice!  Related: I didn't read as many books this month.
Awana awards
Excited for her second ever 5K!
Proud but hot!
Some were more capable of holding frames
than others...Jon took this without even telling
me all of the problems with my pose!
Lightsaber at Artsfest
Sucker Days in Nixa (named after the sucker
fish, not the candy, haha!)
Bubbles at Sucker Days
Baby ducks at Orsclens
This was on Mother's Day
The title was "Sunflower Weave"
Proud Mom moment
Outside the MSU art building
Last day of school!
What she did after school on the last day
Drive-in movies

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

What I'm craving lately (April-ish through May-ish)

As usual, I feel like I missed a lot of food photo-ops, so I combined two months.  Eating the food generally takes priority over taking pictures of it...

This picture illustrates Albani's cravings.  Jon caves into buying her ice cream all the time, and I am thankful that she prefers chocolate because I (gasp) don't like chocolate ice cream.  Look at her cute little belly here!

I'm a big fan of nuts in general, and these pecans are straight from my father-in-law's farm.  He sends us home with a big bag of them each time we visit, and I generally get 90% of them!  They are great plain, but also good in oatmeal, on yogurt, or with fruit.

Green onions make an amazing topping over nearly any savory dish (tilapia pictured here, and you can see the asparagus and sweet potato I had with it).

This was an amazing stir-fry dish I had the evening of the Rock the Parkway Half Marathon; I am sure it was great sodium replacement too.

Some omelets look prettier than others, but they remain one of my favorite post-run meals.

IHOP's presentation is better than mine.

Jon is growing me spinach!  I put it in/on nearly everything, so this is a good plan.

A simple way to eat spinach - it's just steamed in the microwaved and seasoned with garlic salt and nutritional yeast (an immunity booster).  It's good sautéed in coconut oil, but that's a little higher maintenance.  You can also see the tilapia and sweet potato on my plate; I continue to eat a lot of these.

More garden goodness - kale!  I make kale chips (shown before cooking here) or use it in omelets and really any veggie dish.  It's also good sautéed with sweet potatoes.

Jon also grew cauliflower, which I love roasted.  This is pre-roasting with curry powder.  Albani was not a fan of the curry powder!

Healthy and hearty meal shot:  herb baked chicken, baked sweet potato with cinnamon, roasted yellow squash and mushrooms, steamed home-grown broccoli, and black olives.

Cantaloupe is back in season and on Aldi produce special.

Strawberries also came back on produce special.  I bought 6 cartons one week and Albani and I had them all down within 4 days.  We are also growing strawberries, but few make it into the house to get photographed because we eat them while picking!

This smoothie was made with frozen sweet cherries, beets, almond milk, and chocolate protein powder and was divine!

This was my recovery smoothie immediately after a 21 miler + strength workout, and included frozen pineapple, spinach, almond milk, and birthday cake protein powder.

I have no qualms about drinking my recovery smoothies in the bathroom while showering and getting ready...the refueling window is important!  This was after my 18 miler on May 5 and included beets, frozen banana, and protein powder. 

Frozen mango makes fantastic smoothies, and pairs well with any flavor of protein powder (this one had peanut butter flavor).

A insanely busy month at work meant that I ate some to-go meals in April, and I really don't like to admit I ate dinner from Casey's, but Casey's does make a mean chicken salad sandwich!  This didn't happen in May, so yay for that - and I started making tuna salad with Greek yogurt, which I'm still perfecting but like quite a bit.

This is advertised as healthy, but in the end it's still a cookie (although it was really tasty!).  It's also supposed to be two servings, but would anyone actually not eat this whole thing (I would have eaten two)?!  I guess that means you get 32 grams of protein, though!

If you are going to eat a cookie, this is a real cap off my healthy foods post, when I eat unhealthy, it typically involves frosting and lots of it!