Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 in review, e.g., why I think I have more to give!

I'm excited to report:  I think 2016 was my best running year as an adult!  Although it had a rocky start with a missed marathon and a tendon injury, it concluded with PRs in four distances, and I broke some significant barriers that I wasn't sure I'd ever beat.  Even better, I am healthy, I think I have more to give, and I'm wrapping up the year with some workout times I've never hit before (en route to a goal half in January and a goal full in February).

I ended the year with 2290.1 running miles according to Strava (and 42,710 feet of elevation gain!).  I’ve never set a yearly mileage goal, but it's fun to see what I end up with.  It’s nice to be over 2016 miles – and also to know I have more to give since I had 8 weeks of no running mileage in 2016.  Those weeks almost completely accounted for my cycling mileage total of 876, as I got a little obsessed with biking over 100 miles per week for a hot second (this quickly changed to 0 once I could run again, haha!).

I figured out my weekly mileage average - 2290 divided by the 44 weeks I was running - and it came out to be 52.05 miles per week.  If you count the 8 weeks I was off running and take 2290 divided by 52 total weeks in the year, it's only 44 miles per week average, so I like the first calculation better.  Now I might pay attention to this in 2017!

My race results (with disclaimers!) for the year are below.  I raced quite a bit – 19 times to be exact! – so there would have been no way for me to be at peak for all of them, and in fact I trained through more of them than not since my fall marathons were my big goals.  My performances early in the year showed that I was coming off an injury and didn’t have the mileage base I needed to run my best (looking at the big picture now, I’m not sure why I expected to race any better than I did on as little training as I’d had, but I guess I was hoping to ride on my 2015 fitness).  Overall, I’d say that I was at worst reasonably happy with my performance in every race from September on (I never seem to be completely satisfied with anything I run!), so I’ve listed them in reverse order.  PRs are bolded.  I also added my Garmin paces after my friend Liz did it on her 2016 running review, as I thought that was a clever idea, especially for the non-certified races!

What was good
Why I have more to give*
Dec. 10 Christmas Mile “5K” 19:08; actual 5K was 18:30ish (5:57 pace) I averaged 5:57 pace on my Garmin and won overall female. The race director announced on the starting line that the course was long, so I know I can and did run better than my official time.  The course was mediocre (hair pin turn, two sharp turns you had to slow down for to avoid running into a brick planter or a tree, some elevation), so I know I can also go faster on a better course.  The windchill was 18 degrees, I didn’t rest for the race, and I’d run a hard mile less than 30 minutes before.
Dec. 10 Christmas Mile 5:34 I raced a mile “for fun” and without panicking!  The course was nice and I won overall female. The windchill was 18 degrees (a little too cold to run fast!), most of the race was into a headwind, and I didn’t rest for the race.
Nov. 24 Joplin Turkey Trot 5K 18:42 (6:01 pace) I ran in the 18’s on a certified course, the weather was great, and I won overall female. The course had 160+ ft elevation gain, and I was 5 days off of a half marathon.
Nov. 19 White River Half Marathon 1:22:37 (6:18 pace)
Everything!  PR and strongest performance of my year!  If I don't find anything to be disappointed about, things were nearly perfect.  The course was perfect, the temperature was perfect (mid-30s), I ran a beautiful negative split, I won overall female, and I felt great.  I beat my 10K PR in the final 10K and my 15K PR in the final 15K. I’m not sure I do…however, I am going to try!  I hope that running a larger event with other runners (and particularly other women) around me will help me run faster.  I guess in theory not being 13 days off my second marathon within a month should also help!
Nov. 6 Bass Pro Marathon 2:59:04 (6:44 pace) I paced well and ran a nice negative split and strong final 10K, the weather was great, and I won 3rd overall female.  I ran my second sub-3:00 marathon 4 weeks after my first! I ran 0.20+ over the course distance due a wrong turn in mile 20, which cost me a PR…and I am still very mad at myself about it.  This was my ‘B’ marathon so I didn’t peak for it (although my coach did work to find the formula for another sub-3:00 for me, and he did well), and the course was mediocre.
Oct. 22 Ozark Rotary Trick or Trot 5K 18:46 (6:02 pace) I ran a 5K in the 18s and beat all the men and women! It was 74 degrees, a tiny 5:00 p.m. race, and I trained through it, including a double on race day.
Oct. 15 Waddell & Reed Half Marathon (for training) 1:33:04 (7:02 pace/ training run) I had fun and ran at a training-ish pace until the final 5K.  Unbeknownst to me until afterwards, I was 4th overall female in a huge race. I didn’t race this one since it was 6 days after a marathon and I didn’t want to sabotage my recovery for my next marathon (I had a free entry or I wouldn’t have run it at all); I believe I'd have run about 10 minutes faster had I raced it, but I also might have bonked with Prairie Fire just on my legs.  I almost caught the 3rd female at the end so kind of wished I'd run the final 4 miles harder instead of just the final 3...or that I'd run it at my marathon pace since that would have gotten me the win.
Oct. 9 Prairie Fire Marathon 2:58:53 (6:47 pace)
Marathon PR and my first sub-3:00!  9th fastest marathon ever run by a female in the state of Kansas, and 3rd fastest for age group 35-39 (although only 4th overall in this race!). I ran 20 miles of the race solo, the course was mediocre, and it was a tad too warm (55-60 degrees).  I had a horrible stomach bug that landed me in Urgent Care 10 days before the race, which certainly couldn’t have helped.
Sep. 18 Tiger Trot 15K 59:19 (6:20 pace)
PR and my first sub-1:00 15K, and beat all the men and women. 2 miles of the course were on horrible rocky dirt roads and those miles were significantly slower (30ish seconds) than all my others; without them I’d have easily been in the mid-58s.  It was 70 degrees, I ran solo from mile 4 on, and I was 4 days off of a 24 miler.  I ran faster in the final 15K of my half PR, so I know I’ve got more in me!
Sep. 5 Run for a Child’s Hunger 10K 38:43 (6:13 pace)
PR and my first sub-39:00 certified 10K!  I was 3rd female behind two pros. It was Labor Day in Arkansas (hot and humid), the course had 220+ ft elevation gain, and I was 5 days off a 22 miler.  I ran faster in the final 10K of my half PR, so I know I’ve got that in me for an official one!
Sep. 3 K-Life “5K” 20:31; actual 5K was 19:20ish (6:13 pace) I accomplished my goal of winning overall by running at 10K effort, and also nailed my 10K pace as shown two days later! I didn’t run all-out because I wanted to save my legs for my 10K two days later.  
July 23 Bentley Fund 5K 19:36 (6:12 pace) ………………………..
Well, I guess I did not bonk at mile 1.
I bonked at mile 2 and my final mile was slower than my half marathon pace.  It was hot and humid, but I’m not really sure why I ran so poorly or felt so horrible.  I didn’t rest for it, but it was only a 5K.
June 25 Sertoma Duck Waddle 5K 19:35 (6:18) I beat all of the men and women, and won a gift certificate for free pet sitting! I didn’t have anyone to run with, it was super warm and humid, I ran this as a progressive tempo during a long run, and I wasn’t rested.
June 4 River Run 10K 42:08 (6:43 pace) This had the same final 2 miles as the Prairie Fire Marathon, and my Strava kindly told me that my best times on segments on that stretch were run in the marathon (that’s how bad the final 2 miles of this 10K were).  I did still win my age group. I felt like death in this race and called it my Epic Fail of 2016.  I’d been in Chicago for work the week before, and I guess I just had nothing left to give.  I learned not to race under these circumstances again - something is always learned!
May 14 Scout Strong Half Marathon 1:29:04 (6:44 pace) I ran this more for place than time, and accomplished my goal of winning overall female.  I also met a new friend who I've kept in touch with! See “what was good.”  Also it was SUPER windy.
May 7 Bradleyville 5K 19:16 (Garmin would not work in the remote location - course splits were 6:14, 6:18, 6:03 but likely wrong) It was a miracle I pulled this time off on 6.5 weeks of running training…although I’m skeptical that the course was accurate because I wasn’t in good enough shape to run this on the crazy hills of that course or really even on a good course (it was not certified). This course was the hilliest 5K I’ve ever run, it was warm when we weren’t yet used to warm weather running, I was 6 days off of the Prairie Fire Half, and I wasn't in the best shape.
May 1 Prairie Fire Half Marathon 1:27:51 (6:42 pace) It was a miracle I pulled this time off on 6 weeks of running training and after food poisoning on Thursday evening before the Sunday race; I was worried I wouldn’t break 1:30.  The temperature was nice and I ran a negative split. Honestly this went as well as it could have considering; obviously having more training on my legs and not having food poisoning on Thursday would have helped.  Also it was windy as per usual in Kansas.
April 2 Big Party Half Marathon – Pace Group Leader 1:39:15; paced the 1:40 group (7:33 pace) Pacer, free entry, great charity, and running at base pace to help others!  I ended up getting an age group award too. Not racing was hard, and the course was a little short or I’d have been 1:39:5X (I was a good pacer, I promise!)!  My bicep got sore from carrying the pace sign.
March 26 Easter Sun Run 10K 41:13 (6:35 pace) The only redeeming factor for this race was that I won $100. I was a last-minute entry; I’d run a 6 mile tempo run at 6:26 pace a few days before this race on almost no running training (how exactly I am not sure! - was my Garmin off that day?!), but I quickly learned I was not in good enough shape to run a solid race with no rest before.
*I initially titled this section “What was bad”, but decided this title was more optimistic and also more consistent with my title!

I’m excited to say this:  2016 will be hard to top.  But I know I have more to give!  Will I always say this after every race?  Most likely!  There will always be age-graded bests to chase, right?

My 2015 race results are shown here.

I encourage everyone to go out and be your best in 2017!

Here are also my favorite running-related photos of 2016.  I probably don't have more to give as far as race photos go; I've given up on taking good running photos except during my warm-up!

We all ran an event at the Prairie Fire spring races

This one is photogenic
Race face in the Sparky Kids Mile, haha!
I was warming up so this photo is okay
Post-10K PR
Albani had a photo finish half mile after I ran my 15K PR
My first sub-3:00, at Prairie Fire
Post-marathon emotion & exhaustion
Fall Prairie Fire Kids Marathon = happier photos
Bass Pro Expo
My second sub-3:00, although I ran farther than 26.2, at Bass Pro
Half PR + double chin
White River Half awards
Proof I ran in the 18s in a certified 5K

Monday, December 26, 2016

CHRISTmas week

Week of December 19-25, 2016

Mileage:  60.3 (60s!!), with a really solid tempo run, a double, a set of strides, a fast finish long run, a bootcamp, some additional strength, and celebrating Jesus's birth!

Monday - Cross training Monday fell on a good day - the coldest morning of the week!  Bootcamp (with a 12 Days of Christmas know, 1 burpee, 2 squat presses, 3 walk-outs, 4 rows with high pulls, 5 lunges, etc., building like the song) with an elliptical warm-up as usual.  I also ran 0.7+ in bootcamp as part of our HIIT intervals, around the indoor track (which is rarely a part of class)...and I'm counting it in my mileage since it puts me over 60!

Tuesday - 12 miles total:  3.2 warm-up, 6 tempo (6:09), 2.8 cool-down at lunch.  This tempo went very well and I couldn't decide if I was more pumped about running a lifetime best 6 mile tempo time or about my beautiful negative split (see below)!  I used to run my 6 mile tempos in about the same total time as I could race a 10K in, but there is no way I could run a 36:55 10K (hopefully a 37:55, though).
I love a good negative split!
My goal tempo pace was 6:15 (half goal pace), and my strategy for the run was to start at 6:20 pace and then run each mile slightly faster than the one before it, and I accomplished that.  I didn't realize that my overall pace was quite as fast as it was or I'd have probably kept going to 6.2 to run a nice 10K time!  Last time I ran a 6 mile tempo, I averaged 6:24 pace on this same course, so this was a significant drop and I hope it means good things for this training cycle.  I also took half a gel with a few sips of water between my warm-up and the tempo to practice running hard with gel on my stomach, and because I seem to need a little bit of something like that when I run a significant distance at noon, and it sat fine so that was also a victory.

When I showed Jon my splits from this run, he first said many complementary things that I want to give him credit for ("Wow, that's super fast", "That was a break through workout", "I'm happy for you"), then the conversation with Jon-isms continued like this:

Jon:  If you didn't have that bad first mile, your average would have been even faster.
Me:  I don't think a 6:19 mile is goal pace was 6:15 and I was supposed to start slower and work down.
Jon:  Well, it was 24 seconds slower than your last mile!
Me:  Oh.

However, I don't really think I could've gone any faster at the beginning even if I'd wanted to (it didn't help that I didn't do drills or strides beforehand, since I was in a hurry trying to run 12 miles on my lunch break...I went into work an hour early but still)!  It takes me a couple of miles to get going on tempos and in races no matter how many warm-up miles I run, and during those first 2-3 miles I never feel like I can get any faster or even sustain the pace for the whole distance.  I've run enough long tempos that went well by now that I bank on feeling stronger as the workout progresses and don't feel discouraged early on like I used to.  As usual, on this run I seriously had to push much harder for my splits on miles 1-2 than for miles 4-5!  What is wrong with me?!  I guess this is also why I can't race a 5K at a much faster pace than a 10K!

I packed these in my lunch I took to work on Tuesday!
Wednesday - 12.3 miles total with 8.1 a.m. (7:25) and 4.2 runch (7:48).  I connected with another running partner on my morning run, Danielle.  Missy knows her from triathlons, she lives in Branson but commutes to Springfield for work, she runs about our same base pace, and meeting us to run before work at 5:30 a.m. works perfectly for her.  Missy scheduled us all to run together, but she has a bit of an injury so she ended up riding her mountain bike with us instead of cancelling because she is that sweet!  It's been difficult to coordinate running schedules with Amy and Ashley recently, so I think God knew I needed another potential training partner to meet in the cold darkness as Missy takes some (hopefully very little!) time off!  Then it was in the 40s for my lunch run - yay x 100!

Thursday - 3.1 miles shake out (7:45).  I felt like I came down with a minor stomach flu overnight, and couldn't manage doing anything in the morning so this was at lunch (again with temperatures in the 40s!) after a lot of electrolytes.  I still felt weak/off, so did this short run only (it was scheduled for Friday), and skipped the core and arm strength I had planned.  I was feeling better by the end of the day but didn't manage to work the entire day or to eat much, as I had nausea and pain each time I tried.

Friday - 8.1 miles base pace with 6 strides in the last mile (7:19), with Danielle.  I was going to run my long run on Friday due to Christmas celebrations on Saturday, but after not being able to eat sufficiently on Thursday I thought it would be too hard on my body so I moved it back to Saturday when it was originally scheduled anyhow!  Based on how I felt at the end of 8, I could have done the 18 if I had to, but I think it would have really depleted me and my stomach wasn't quite right yet, plus I'd already worked it out to be able to do it on Saturday.  In case I needed further confirmation that I was making the correct decision, it started raining about 5 minutes after we finished this run (38 degrees and rain is awful)!  It was also insanely windy, and when I checked Saturday's forecast it showed 4 mph wind at the time I'd be running long (and that was exactly what happened on Saturday morning), so again I think I made the correct choice.  I also did a quick 10 minute core/arm workout (mainly plank variations).

Saturday (Christmas Eve) -18.1 miles: 14 steady, 4 fast finish, and 0.1 shuffling in.  My average pace for the whole shebang was 7:20, and my fast finish miles were 7:05, 6:59, 6:55, 6:44 (my training schedule said to drop 5-10 seconds each mile on these, which I did aside from dropping about 15 seconds on the first one, but I'd have liked my final mile to be 10-20 seconds faster than it was).  Every marathon training cycle has a bad or at least a "meh" long run, and I'll call this one "meh".  My 18 miler of my last cycle was also my "meh" run - I averaged 7:34 on it so at least this one was a faster "meh".  I just never felt great on this run, but fortunately I was able to stay in my goal pace range the entire way; it just never felt runner's high effortless, but instead was work the whole way.  I'll chalk it up to a combination of traveling for Christmas, running alone, being 23 degrees, feeling the stomach issue still, and running on dirt roads.  I ran from my parents' house in Kansas and did pretty much all of the country roads I ran in high school, so it was a nice run down memory lane.  I ran the hilliest route I could, including "Champion Hill" (named by my high school cross-country coach), which was much smaller now that I live in Missouri!  The hilliest route there was about equivalent to the flattest route I can run from our house in Ozark.  I was glad to get it done and to put on some Christmas compression socks and tights to enjoy family time afterward!
No holiday breaks from recovery!
My niece, nephew, & daughter pillaging stockings on Christmas Eve
My mom is the best grandma!
My loves!
So much cuteness!
Family photo fail
Sunday (Christmas Day) - 6 mile recovery run (8:16) in Cherryvale, Kansas from my in-laws' house.  I was dragging on this one, but it was over 60 degrees and I ran in a sports bra and shorts!  I got this in before everyone else woke up to celebrate Jesus's birthday.

"For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:11
We are certainly more flawed than we want to admit, but more loved than we could dream - on Christmas and always!  Wishing you love, joy, grace, and peace this holiday season and always.

Some improvement on the family holiday photo
Ibbetson cousins, minus the 2 youngest

Albani adores her cousin Samantha

This light up chainsaw was a huge hit (plus 2 littlest cousins pictured)!

Albani gave her cousins a bunch of her own toys, so sweet