Sunday, May 29, 2016

What I Eat: Travel Edition

I spent several days in Chicago for the Applied Behavior Analysis International conference this week. I decided I would take pictures of my meals along the way, even though my food photography skills leave something to be desired. My department members who were with me got tired of my comments, "I hope this is going to be enough food" and "That was not enough food."  I forget how much I eat until I'm around "normal" people. [Update:  I lost 2 pounds on this trip so it clearly was not enough food!]

Our first meal was Qdoba for lunch on the road on Saturday. I failed on taking a picture of it, so here is a stock photo of a vegetarian burrito bowl. I had brown rice, black beans, grilled peppers and onions, corn salsa, mango salsa, guacamole, red onions, and lettuce. It was good, healthy, and was almost enough food.

Dinner that night in Chicago was at an Armenian restaurant. This was a sampler with stuffed grape leaves, baba ganouch, a white bean and tomato dish, and pita bread. I also ate a friend's salad (basically just lettuce, radishes, and carrots with a light kind of fruity dressing), a chunk of grilled eggplant, and a little cheese. I love that everyone gives me what they don't like or can't finish!

Sunday lunch was from the Protein Bar. I forgot what this dish was called, but it was Mexican-inspired and vegan, and included quinoa, black beans, corn, tofu, tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, vegan cheese, and a sour cream type sauce. It was delicious but not enough food!

Sunday dinner was at an all-vegan restaurant, The Chicago Diner. Side note: I am traveling with a vegan! I started with a cauliflower curry soup, and had the Soul Bowl with blackened tofu, mashed sweet potatoes, black beans, greens, red quinoa, and a sauce called chimchirri or something like that. It was all great, and I also got to eat a bit of everyone else's dishes: seitan buffalo wings, poutine, black bean quinoa burger, chicken fried steak, steamed veggies, and lentil loaf (all vegan). I was stuffed and left food on the table! 

Monday lunch was at Noodles and Company. I forgot what the dish was called, but it was Thai-inspired and involved noodles (of course!), a slew of veggies, tofu, sesame seeds, and a cocunut milk sauce.  I liked it but my stomach hurt a bit after lunch (may have been completely unrelated to the food).

Monday's snacking and dinner would go under what I would call a cheat day. I didn't buy any popcorn when we went to Garrett's, but when my friend Megan said she was done with hers I gladly finished it. I also had several mini candy bars that I picked up from the expo booths (white chocolate Kit Kat, York peppermint patties, Reeces cups, Mr. Goodbar, Crunch, Twix, Milky Way). I try not to eat junk often, but when I do I go big!

Monday's dinner was from the little to-go cafe in our hotel. A veggie sandwich (the wrapper said eggplant, portobello mushroom, fresh monzarella, arugula, tomato, and basil pesto on clabatta bread), chips, and cookies. I ate it all in bed (sorry, Hyatt!). I was beat - which also relates to this being my least healthy eating day of the trip!

Tuesday's lunch was from a grocery store salad bar. It was nice to control what went into my meal. I had a huge salad with mixed dark greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, artichokes, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, sprouts, feta cheese, black olives, green olives, red cabbage, kale, carrots, beets, raspberries, sunflower seeds, a hard boiled egg, and cottage cheese as dressing. I probably forgot some ingredients too! I also had a caffeinated club soda, something I'd never seen before, because I needed some pick me up!

For Tuesday's dinner, we ate in our hotel's restaurant because it was raining. I had a fancy salad (greens, artichoke, edamame, roasted carrots and tomatoes, turnip, red cabbage, lemon olive oil dressing) and a black bean quinoa sandwich topped with half an avacado (score!!) with a side of green beans. I also ate my friend's side of green beans. 

Wednesday's lunch was the last travel meal. We stopped at Denny's on the road, and I had a veggie skillet, and sides of yogurt and fresh fruit. I would've been okay without the sides but remembered another time I ate at Denny's and left hungry so I ordered them and left pleasantly full and ready for a road trip nap. 

I didn't go out for breakfasts because I was doing early morning workouts and it's also tricky to time that correctly to get to an 8:00 a.m. conference session (not to mention I get so tired of eating out). I brought food along and also purchased some the nights before, so breakfasts were some combination of Greek yogurt, apples, oranges, peanuts, raisins, and sweet mini bell peppers (if I hadn't packed them they would have gone bad in my fridge at home while I was gone), always with coffee made in my hotel room. I also had snacks daily from this stash. 

I'll end with a few ABA department photos!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Not a Track Workout Tuesday

I ran speed work on the road today, and I just couldn't think of a catchy title akin to "Track Tuesday," so there you have it!

The workout I ran is one of my all-time favorite workouts, partially because I think it benefits me in race distances from the 5K up to the marathon.  It hits on speed, stamina, mental toughness, and a whole slew of different race paces.  It includes repeats of 2 mile, 1.5 mile, 1 mile, and 0.5 mile, with recovery jogs half the distance of the previous repeat (so 1, 0.75, and 0.5).  It's 10 miles total with warm-up and cool-down, and 5 miles of quality work.

I was solo for this workout, and I ran around my neighborhood loop which is 0.8.  Whenever I run speed work or tempos from home I run this loop so my splits will be comparable.  It's not flat, but for the area it has relatively minimal elevation changes (e.g., it is my best option by far!).  Essentially it has one short side of noticeable uphill, one short side of noticeable downhill, one long side of slight incline and one long side of slight decline.  I've run it enough to know how my average pace will fluctuate over the course, and I also know how much I can gain on the downhill portion!  I think I can run about as fast on it as I would on a pancake flat course, because I can gain on the downhill/decline sections to make up for the uphill/incline sections - plus I am sure it's good for me because no races around here are flat!

My goal for today was to start at 6:15 pace and work down 5 seconds each repeat, making my goal times 12:30, 9:15, 6:05, and 3:00.  I had previously done this workout faster than that, but I didn't think I was quite there at present.  This workout is a good mental one since you are speeding up each repeat, but you are also running a shorter distance!  My actual times ended up being 12:24 (6:15, 6:09), 9:11 (6:11, 3:00), 5:59, and 2:54.  I was quite happy with this, and although I haven't looked thoroughly through my training log, I am 95% sure that this is the second fastest I've ever done this workout - and I've been running this one for a good 7+ years so that's quite exciting for me!  I felt strong throughout, but I had to push pretty hard to go sub-6:00 on the mile!

I am working on focusing on good form, including keeping my arm swings straight, driving my knees forward, moving forward and not vertically, and fast light feet.  I really have to focus on it, so it makes running a little less enjoyable because I can't lose myself in my thoughts, but it will get easier with practice I assume.  If it's going to benefit me as much as I'm told it will, it is worth it!  Focusing so much on my form and my pace today was a little stressful, and the form changes are definitely easier on easy runs!  Tomorrow I will practice some more, and I end today pleased with this week's workout.


Cutest Lowes purchase yet!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Oh How Time Flies

I sat down thinking I had already written about this training week - but turns out that was last week!  It's been a very busy time - and with trips the next two weekends (Chicago and Wichita), followed by a huge event on June 11, it is going to continue!

Weekly mileage:  52.3

I was back to my "standard" weekly structure this week.  I'm running five days a week now and trying to decide if it's better to add a sixth day or to do a 2-a-day run or two to increase my mileage (learning towards the latter).

Monday - HIIT bootcamp + elliptical

Tuesday - 9 miles base pace (7:34 pace).  I am pretty sure I hit the only break in the rain in 48+ hours for most of this run.  The irony was that I was planning to run 8 miles, but did 9 because the course I wanted to run that morning was a loop that is 9.  There were some light sprinkles and mist in the first 8 miles, but then during mile 9 there was a major downpour.  That will teach me to run farther than planned!

Wednesday - Workout Wednesday and 14.5 total!  10.5 miles total in the morning that included a 5 mile tempo run (6:21 average), 5 minute recovery jog, 1 mile push in 6:05 (all on rolling roads).  Full description here.  Then in the evening I ran an easy shake out with Jon while Albani was at kids' training - 4 miles at 8:05 pace.

Thursday - Shake out 8 miles (8:06 average) with Missy - we were both tired on this one!

Thursday was also the last day of school!
An "oh how time flies" moment!
This is how Bandit felt about it!
Friday - HIIT bootcamp + elliptical

Saturday - 14.1 mile base pace long run (7:35), with 2 fast finish miles in 6:39 and 6:42.  I planned on 12 miles, as I am cutting back on long run distance until I start upping it for my next marathon cycle, but due to some poor calculations on how far I was from home when running Missy back to her car, I ended up back at home at 13.4 miles instead of 12.4 miles like I thought I would.  I realized my error before I started my fast finish miles, so decided I would just go for 14.  One thing I'm not very good at is cut-backs!

Saturday I went to a 6 hour marathon training seminar, along with Jon and Albani (she got a lot of iPad time!).  I learned a few new things, and apparently my form is even worse than I thought, because the coach said that if I fixed my form I would go from a 3:01 marathon PR to a 2:50 marathon PR.  I am going to work on this!!

Playing around after the marathon seminar

Sunday - 6.6 mile shake out with 6 x 20 second strides at the end (7:31 average).  I was planning to do 6 miles, but forgot about the strides until I was at 5.9.  I started this run at 8:10 a.m., which is horribly late for me, and I was dragging from sleeping in until 7:15 a.m., but felt great once I got going.  I practiced the form correction that I am supposed to work on during this run, and either it actually helped me run faster or I wasn't as tired as I thought.  I felt like it was going to be a day where I ran 8:00-8:30 pace for easy, so hopefully the 7:30 average was because the form stuff really does help.  We shall see!

Now off to a day of yard work -- which is more fatiguing and far less enjoyable than running a marathon!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Under (Peer) Pressure: Workout Wednesday

wanted to run a workout that would benefit me in my upcoming 10K race this morning, so I asked my training partner Missy if she would do any of the following workouts with me.  Keep in mind that she is a triathlete and training for an August Ironman, an October 70.3, and likely a November marathon. She can exercise forever!

A)       3 x 2 mile repeats with 1 mile recoveries
B)      Repeats of 2 miles, 1.5 miles, 1 mile, 0.5 mile with recoveries of half the distance of the previous repeat
C)      5 mile tempo run, 1 mile recovery, 1 mile throw down

Her reply?  “I don’t think I want to do any of that!  I may die!”  I know full and well that she is in great shape and COULD do any of these right with me, but she is scared of faster work like I am scared of double digit tempos.

So I went on from there to tell her how it will help increase her VO2 max, which would help with her longer races because she wouldn’t have to run at as high of a percentage of VO2 max at a given pace.  I then continued to coerce her into running the 5 mile tempo with me, because I knew she would pick it above the other workouts -  with the disclaimer that she could drop back a little if needed and also still get in the 15 miles total that she wanted (I was only doing 10ish total, and could not be coerced into doing a 15 mile tempo with her so soon after racing a half).  I really wanted to have her with me on this workout, and I knew she would rock it!

Then she acquiesced!  I told her 6:30ish pace for the tempo miles, and we were both off to bed for 4:XX a.m. alarms.

We met bright and early, each starting in different locations and running to each other on the warm up.  We met when she was at nearly 3 miles in and I wasn’t even to a mile yet, as she was running more mileage total than me.  We wrapped up the warm-up to give me a little over 2 miles warm-up (2.1 to be exact), and we were off on the tempo miles!

I felt good and went out in the 6:20s instead of the 6:30s.  After passing mile 1 in 6:24, the pace was set.  I have a thing where I cannot let my first mile be my fastest (and prefer that it is my slowest)!  My splits ended up being 6:24, 6:22, 6:23, 6:23, and 6:15 for the tempo miles (average 6:21).  I was pretty happy with my consistency and strong finish!  I wasn’t aiming to pick up the 5th mile since I still had the throw down mile remaining, and in fact I told Missy that I WASN’T going to, but I think I just do it naturally once my brain says, "last mile!"

Then we were off on a 1-mile recovery jog, but based on logistics of where it would be best to start our cool-down, we ended up cutting it to a 0.7 recovery.  Missy didn’t do the throw-down mile with me, but I pushed with all I had for a 6:05.  I would have liked to be sub-6:00, but for a rolling road course this was what it was!  Overall I was pleased with the workout. I then walked while Missy caught up and I ran what ended up being a 1.7 mile cool down for 10.5 miles total for the morning.

Missy ran 15 miles total like a complete stud, and told me that she was glad we did the workout we did.  I push her out of her comfort zone on the shorter faster stuff, and she pushes me on the longer stuff, so we are a good pair!  Now I live in fear of an upcoming 12+ mile tempo that's I've committed to!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Another Week in May, Another Race: Week in Review

Weekly mileage: 49.1 (proving that I am less obsessive than I used to be, by not running 0.9 more...not that I was not tempted!)

Next week I will be back to a truly normal schedule, but this week was closer!

Monday – Cross-training Monday with 45 minutes HIIT bootcamp and 45 minutes elliptical.  My abs and glutes could tell I’ve missed some bootcamps recently!  I was also feeling my weekend runs (Saturday mountainous 5K plus Sunday long run) during this workout.

Tuesday – Speed work – eeeeeee!  Full description of this workout here.  It was 9 miles total with 2 x 1 mile and 2 x 0.5 mile repeats.  At the time of the workout I thought it was just eh, but looking back at my training log from 2015 I learned that my first mile repeat was a 3 second course PR on the rolling mile I used, and the second repeat tied my old course PR.  So then I felt pretty darn good about it!  I just had to remember that I won’t run nearly as fast on that course as I can on a track or the YMCA loop.

Wednesday – 10.5 miles total:  7 morning base pace miles (7:42 average) and 3.5 evening miles with Jon (8:00 average).  This was a “summer is here!” kind of day, as it was 67 degrees and sticky humid for the morning run (and I didn’t need a headlamp at 5:30 a.m.!!!) and 85 degrees and windy for the afternoon run!  On both runs my legs had a hard time getting moving on the first mile, but then I felt better once I got going.  I hemmed and hawed about even doing the second run because I was tired and probably hadn’t eaten enough throughout the day due to a super busy day at work, but I was glad I got it in because Jon and I don’t have too many chances to run together due to our pace differences and childcare.  Albani was at a kids running workout while we did this run!

Thursday – 30 minutes easy on the elliptical – my day off pre-race while maintaining my workout streak (over 28 months and going strong!).

Friday – 5 miles morning base pace with 6 x 20-30 second strides (7:16 average for the whole thing). As is typical following a day off, I felt sluggish during mile 1 and then felt peppy. I was excited because I needed sunglasses on this run that started at 6 a.m.! I can't tell you how much I love running early without a headlamp - but you'll get the idea when I mention it constantly for the next couple of months, haha!

Saturday – Scout Strong Half Marathon race.  My goal for this race was to be in the top 2 women, a.k.a. finish in the money, and if I could do that running less than maximum that was the best scenario, being on my third race weekend in as many weeks (past winning times weren’t super fast).  It went swimmingly and I won 1st overall female in 1:29:06!  Although that is not a fast time for me, the wind was insane, and I won which was my goal.  Even if I had gone all out, I am not in PR shape and it was absolutely not PR weather.  See race report here.  I finished with some left in the tank which was also nice, and ran a 3.6 mile cool down, which gave me 18.4 miles for the day with my warm up and race.  Ooops!!

Sunday – 6.1 miles shake-out (8:09 average). I felt far better in the final mile than in the beginning miles, so the purpose of this one was served! It was a beautiful morning to be thankful for another solid training week. 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Scout Strong Challenge Half Marathon Race Report

I was pretty proud of myself in this race, because:
  1. I stacked it with a work trip to Kansas City that I needed to do in May. 
  2. I went into it with the goals of trying to win, and not running at my max if I didn't have to in order to win - and as it played out I did not race all-out (smart with it being my third race in three weekends, but something that's hard for me to actually do).
  3. I won!
  4. I didn't quit in the insane wind. Seriously!
I figured I would start at marathon pace (6:50ish) and see where that put me. It actually put me in first female from the gate, which surprised me. But around mile 1.5 a woman who I'd talked to at the start, Abby, pulled up next to me. I was hoping that I would get to run with her, because the field was pretty thin out front and she had been really nice and about my same pace.  We chatted and decided to work together.

Although initially, 6:50 pace had been really conservative (it's marathon goal pace after all), as the race went on and we encountered the crazy wind, I began to think that 6:55 might be all I had. When we turned out of the wind finally at mile 6, suddenly Abby and I were running 6:20-6:35 at the same effort. When we turned into the wind again, we complained and I said, "well, back to 6:55!" I felt good at that point though, and thought I could crank it down some when I needed to.  

I enjoyed running with Abby and we both said we would like to finish it up around 6:30 pace (at least when we were not running into the wind!). I wanted to push the final miles, and around 9.5 on an incline I started pulling ahead. At 10 I knew I'd better push to keep my splits down and to go for the win, so I did. I felt good, although the final mile felt really long running on the speedway and into the wind!

I finished in 1:29:07 with some left in the tank and overall pleased with my effort. On another day, our times would have been more solid, but today everyone had to deal with the conditions (there were just 5 men ahead of Abby and I). I took home $350 for the win, which was super nice! I remember when breaking 1:30 was a major goal of mine, and now it's a non-goal race on a crappy weather day when I don't worry about my pace kind of time - so I can't help but be happy about that too!

I ran a 1.6 mile warm up and 3.6 mile cool down, ending up with 18.4 miles for the day. This wasn't exactly the plan, but nice to know that I felt great with the distance too!

Race results, including a video of my finish (that's kind of fun!).

Top 2 women - we even coordinate!
We started and finished on Kansas Speedway


Not gonna lie, I love winning cash!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Speedwork Tuesday: Dusting off the Cobwebs

Today’s workout was a play-it-by ear sort of run.  My “training schedule” (I use the term loosely, because it’s less structured than what I usually have, but mainly about getting in some miles until I start a more official plan in June) had “Workout TBD” on it.  The forecast had potential morning thunderstorms, and I was coming off a weekend of a Saturday 5K and Sunday long run, so I just decided I would see how the weather was and how I felt when I woke up, then go from there.  I hoped to get some quality work in since I have a June 10K planned, and I also didn’t want to push it back to tomorrow since I have a half marathon race on May 14, so if it didn’t happen today it wouldn’t happen this week.

After storms overnight, the weather was fine (just humid), and after a non-running day yesterday I felt good enough to give speed work a go.  I decided I would do 2 x 1 mile repeats to start, then evaluate how I felt and either stop there or add another 1 mile repeat or 1-2 half mile repeats.

I warmed up for 2 miles, then started repeat #1 on a course I’ve done mile repeats on multiple times in the past, but not for nearly a year.  I looked back at my training log from last spring recently, because I feel like my fitness is pretty similar at present to what it was then (by some miracle), and I remembered seeing that my best mile repeats on the course were three of them in 6:08-6:09, so I made that pace my goal.  The mile stretch of road I used for these has an uphill start and rolling hills, but the final 0.15 is down a nice decline so I enjoy that!  Plus, it’s a good strength builder for races with elevation changes (i.e., every race in the Ozarks).  It’s not as fast as the track or the YMCA loop I often run speed work on, but I’ve run it enough to know what it translates to on the track, and that is minus 10-15 seconds.

I finished my first repeat in 6:05, which was actually a 3-second course PR!  I went out a little fast considering the uphill start, so hoped that wouldn’t hurt me during the rest of the workout, but I felt pretty decent.  I ran a mile recovery, which is longer than optimal but I wanted to run the exact same course again, so had to run back to the start.  My second repeat was 6:08, and I was disappointed that it wasn’t faster than #1, but it was good enough to tie my old course PR.  At that point I decided I would not do a third mile repeat due to being in the midst of three race weekends in a row, but would do a half mile repeat.  So I jogged a half mile recovery then ran a half mile in 2:59.  Then I did the same again, with the second half mile in 2:58.

So all in all, 2 x 1 mile then 2 x 0.5 mile.  With my 10K race on June 4, I want to get a few solid workouts in between now and then, and this was a nice start.  I have some work to do, but I am excited to do it!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

May the 4th be with You and Cinco de Mayo – Week in Review

Weekly mileage: 50.1

This week was about recovering from the Prairie Fire Spring Half on May 1, getting in base miles, and attempting a 5K race without having done any speed work (oy!).

Monday 5/2 – 45-minute lap swim to loosen up the day after the race.  I usually do short shake-out runs the day after races, but with this one being on a Sunday instead of a Saturday it kind of threw off my schedule.

Tuesday 5/3 – 8 mile shake out (8:06 average) and 15 minute of leg strength.  My legs were feeling the half still on this one, but definitely felt better as the run went on!  With 3 races in 3 weekends I’ve been missing my HIIT bootcamp recently, so did some squats, one-legged squats, lunges, bridges, and calf raises to get some strength in.  I didn’t want to do too much since my legs were still race-tired, but I didn’t want to wait until later in the week since I had another race planned on Saturday.  After my May 14 race I will be back to a more normal strength training schedule (bootcamp on Mondays and Fridays), although I plan to go next week on May 9 as well.

Wednesday 5/4 – 12 mile base pace “long run” (7:33 average) with Missy on farm roads.  I have a hard time calling 12 miles a long run, but this week it was planned to be my longest (although that didn't exactly happen)!  I felt great on this run and finished with a mostly uphill mile in 7:08 without even pushing it. Running with Missy is the best, and it’s almost light for our whole run now even starting at 5:15 a.m.!

Thursday 5/5 – 8.1 mile base pace (7:41), again with Missy on farm roads.  My Garmin said 8.08 when we got back to our cars so I had to make it an even 8.1, haha!  My legs were tired and so were hers, but it was another good one nonetheless.  She told her husband that we were “just running short” today and he made fun of us because 8 miles is our short.

Friday 5/6 – Just 30 minutes on the elliptical to keep the streak and loosen up.  The best part was that I slept until 6:00 a.m. (actually I woke up on my own at 5:51 a.m. before my alarm) – heavenly!  My sleep hasn’t been the best this week – I’ve been staying up until 10:00ish, which doesn’t seem late until you remember that I get up between 4:45-5:00 a.m. most mornings.  I’ve been working late a lot, so getting home from work late just seems to push everything back.  Missing sleep has definitely hampered my recovery!

Saturday 5/7 – 8.9 miles total, with the Bradleyville 5K race in 19:16 (mileage was split with 2.2 warm-up, 3.1 race, 3 cool-down, and 0.6 shake-out before strength training later in the day).  I was scared to death to race a 5K having done no speed work, and once I saw the course I was even more terrified (so hilly!).  In the end, I think both helped me mentally because I didn't psyc myself up to run certain splits but just went out conservatively with the initial half mile uphill then pushed the hardest I could.  

5Ks are by far my weakest event, and last year my fastest 5K was the second half of my best 10K!  After running most of the Bradleyville course for my warm-up, I feared that I wouldn't even be under 20 minutes.  The first half mile was all uphill, but that was sure nice for the final half mile on the out and back course (almost made it like a 2.6 mile race, although it was really needed after marching up around 200 feet of elevation gain in about 2 miles)!  The weather was pleasant at around 60 degrees and low winds, and I felt good overall.  I was quite pleased with my time all considering, and managed to win some cash in 3rd overall female (once I saw the entrants I knew I was racing for 3rd - money brings out the fast ladies!).  Really can't complain about this one at all for my current condition and being 6 days off of a half!  Plus, my daughter ran a PR mile -- even though the mile course went up the hill a half mile just like we did.  She's been destroying her mile PR almost every time she runs. Later in the day I did 30 minutes of strength work (lunge variations, squat variations, calf raises, planks, side planks, rows, etc.).
Sunday 5/8 - 13.1 base pace miles with my friend Amy (8:06 average).  I was planning 12 miles today, but who wants to run 49 in a week (I thought I needed 13.1 miles to hit 50, but I actually could have stopped at 13, hah!)?  I hadn't run with Amy since last year on Mother's Day, which was far too long between runs, but we hadn't been able to coordinate for various reasons.  I needed an easier pace today coming off of the hilly race, so this worked out nicely, although we ran up Veteran's Cemetery hill at the end (which was not easy!).

Happy Mother's Day to all!

The final downhill to the finish was nice!
With my PR miler

Best gift ever!  Although I will have to be strategic about where she wears this...

Mother's Day handmade card & flowers are the best!

Sweet poem from my sweet plum

The Mother's Day Fairy visited me this year!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Week in Review - Last Week in April!

This week was getting rolling again - although it hit a bump with some bad Indian food on Thursday!  Now to stay rolling and not get injured!
This week was also all kinds of off schedule, with getting back into a groove, cramming for a race, and a Sunday race all rolled into one week.

Total miles: 46.8

Monday – 1 mile warm-up, 8 mile tempo in 6:46 average pace, 1.5 mile cool-down (details here).  I learned that I am not in good enough shape to run tempos on the course we chose, as the incline on the way out nearly killed me, so that on the way back on the decline instead of negative splitting as planned I could basically just hold on.  But it was good enough and served the intended purpose.

Tuesday – 6 mile recovery run (7:56 average) with 6 x 20-30 second strides in the final mile.  The combination of 14 miles Friday, 10.3 miles in a double plus leg strength on Saturday, a bike ride and a day at Silver Dollar City on Sunday, and Monday’s long tempo after some time off exhausted my legs.  I followed this with 15 minutes of body weight leg strength (squats, single leg squats, lunges of all types, calf raises) since I missed bootcamp on Monday.

Wednesday – 6.5 miles (7:30 average) – 5 miles easy then pushed the final mile in 6:38.  My legs were still tired.  I followed this with a 20 minute core workout (tons of plank variations, supermans, wood choppers with a kettle bell, etc.) since I was missing bootcamp all week (don’t want to go too close to a race).

Thursday – 4 mile shake-out that was also an unintentional progression run (splits of 7:57, 7:29, 7:18, 6:58), then I did 20 minutes on the elliptical because I had extra time.  It was a beautiful morning and difficult to keep this one short, but coming off injury into a race week with 6 days of running is already pretty darn risky!  Thursday night I went out for Indian food with a friend who was in town, and then spent the majority of the time from 1:00-6:00 a.m. laying on my bathroom floor (it was not pretty!).

Friday –30 minutes super easy on the elliptical (my day off while keeping the workout streak going); I planned to swim this morning but after being up most of the night with food poisoning I did not get up at 5:30 a.m. to swim nor at 7:00 to go to work.  I also needed to stay painfully close to the bathroom until about 1:00 p.m.  I was able to stay hydrated with fluids but this illness really worried me so close to a race.  I kept the streak up with a short and easy elliptical jaunt, but I didn't want to!

Saturday – 4.1 miles pre-race shake-out with 6 x 20-30 second strides in the final mile (7:32 average for it all together).  I felt weak on this run from lack of nutrition on Friday, but not horribly bad.

Sunday – Prairie Fire Half Marathon (plus warm up and cool down for 15.6 miles total). I finished in 1:27:52 (6:42 average pace) and considering it felt like all things had doomed me for this race I was ecstatic with that! I will post a more detailed race report but here are my splits and favorite picture. My husband beat his half goal time by running 1:45, and my daughter ran a PR mile of 10:56! Details here.
Prairie Fire was a family affair!

Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover or a Half by Its First 5 Miles: Prairie Fire Spring Half Marathon

I went into this race kind of feeling like it was doomed!  It was one thing after another all spring, and when I ended up with food poisoning after eating Indian food out the Thursday before the Sunday event, I was about to throw in the towel.  However, my husband was also entered in the half, my daughter was entered in the kids’ mile, we were planning to visit my parents for the weekend, and I needed to finish the race for my Prairie Fire Back to Back entry (spring half plus fall full), so I gave it a try – and I’m glad I did!
I decided I would start around 6:50 pace and see what happened.  I hoped I could at least run a 1:29 (a.k.a. goal marathon pace), but I wasn’t so sure!  I figured at least if I died after starting at 6:50 pace I would fade a lot less hard than if I tried starting at 6:30 pace!  I eyeballed my competition at the start, and as I went out conservatively, after the initial sprinters died off, there were 5 women in front of me.  One took off very quickly, then 4 were running together.  They probably went through mile 1 about 10 seconds faster than me, and it took all I had not to chase them, but all considering I knew it wouldn’t be smart at that point.
I pretty much ran alone for the first 4 miles, although I could see the female pack and the moves that were being made in it.  I passed one of the women and moved up into 5th overall around the 5K point.  I didn’t feel bad, but I didn’t feel good, and I questioned my ability to maintain the 6:45-6:50 pace I’d started at for all 13.1.  Around 4 miles, a man pulled up with me, and I told myself to sit on him.  It was crazy windy and he was tall, so I thought he would make a good wind block.  I had to push a little too hard to hang with him, which also worried me.  When I passed my parents and daughter at mile 5, I was to the point of talking myself out of dropping out.  I just didn’t feel comfortable or strong, but I when I have mental arguments about dropping out versus continuing, continuing always wins.  I told myself that if I had to slow, I would slow; a slow time would not be the end of the world.
I continued pacing off of the man who had passed me, and shortly after mile 5 (with my slowest split of the race) we turned out of the wind.  I instantly felt better, but was still pressing a bit to stay with the male.  I knew if I let him go I’d be running alone so talked myself into hanging on it.  Little by little, during mile 6 I started to hit my stride. I exchanged a few words with the male I was running with, and I found out he was hoping for a 1:27:59 or better to qualify for New York. By the time my watch beeped for 6 I was actually feeling good – and ready to chase!

Stride for stride with the man I ran with for several miles
I could see one woman ahead of me, so set my sights on her.  My pace buddy and I switched roles – now I was pushing ahead and he was hanging on.  We were out of the wind for awhile and I felt strong.  I got a little too excited for mile 7, coming through in 6:25, but I was in pursuit and felt newly confident that I could maintain 6:45-6:50 pace or better to the end.
I was gaining on the woman in front of me (4th overall), but ever so slightly.  However, we were both gaining on the woman ahead of her (in 3rd overall position at that point), and by mile 9 I could see 3rd.  The wind continued to be insane and to affect our splits, so my mile 9-11 splits don't necessarily reflect me feeling great, but at that point I was trying to chase down the women I could see and not looking at my watch at all.  At mile 10, a spectator told me, “Those ladies in front of you are tired!  Go get ‘em!”  I gave him an enthusiastic thumbs up and knew I was going to give it my all to do that.
Around mile 11, the woman running in 4th overtook the woman running in 3rd.  I knew I would do the same if I could keep pushing, but the new 3rd place wasn’t letting up so I knew she would be a lot harder to get.  
Many times during the race, I reflected back on my race in 2015 at this event, and after mile 6 on how much better I was feeling.  Last year I felt good for the first 6 miles and ran with a lead female pack of four, then had a horrid side cramp from about miles 7-9 that cost me a good 30+ seconds per mile.  After that, I was able to get back closer to pace but still not where I wanted to be, and I jockeyed for 3rd female position through the last few miles.  In the end, I managed to get 3rd and finish in the money, but barely; and partially because I thought I was coming up on mile 12 when I was really coming up on mile 11 (amazing what those mental tricks will do!).
Back to 2016!  I pulled up on the now 4th place female a bit before mile 12.  I thought I would sit on her for a bit and then pass at the mile 12 sign.  Once I pulled up on her, I felt like I had to slow up too much to do that, so I told her “nice work” and moved up.  She couldn’t go with me at all, so I felt solid in my new position.  Gauging the distance from myself to the 3rd woman at that point, I knew I would only catch her if she had a disastrous final mile – and since that is always possible, especially in a long race – I kept pushing.  She did not have a disastrous end, so I maintained my 4th position.  The final stretch before turning towards the finish felt very long!  I ended up with a 6:33 final mile, and once I could see the finishing clock I realized that I needed to kick to get in the 1:27’s, so my final 0.12 was 5:51 for a 1:27:52 and 4th overall female.

Splits - I was pretty proud of my Garmin being really close on the certified course
Last year at this event, I had a poor race and ended up with a 1:30:15 – so this being my second time on the course made it a course PR.  Really, I couldn’t be happier with how it went based on my inconsistent training this spring and food poisoning (I was certainly in better shape in 2015!)! I ran smart and negative split, gave it my all, and finished strong.  Although 3:19 slower than my half PR, this was certainly my best half that I went into under-trained.  I’ve run more halves in the 1:30s than in the 1:20s, so all in all I will call it a victory!  Plus, I am injury pain-free – wahooooo!  
The race “placed” the top 4 overall, so I was the first called up at the awards ceremony in 4th female.  The top female ran a 1:18, and I couldn’t do near that fully trained, but second ran 1:26:01 and I feel confident I could have bettered that if I had trained all spring instead of been sidelined for 7 weeks.  But, this was a good confidence-booster about where I’m at now, and gives me something to build on towards the fall!
Awards ceremony
My husband exceeded his goal of 1:47 with a 1:45 with really smart pacing, and my daughter ran a PR mile of 10:56 in the Sparky Kids Mile!  Some day I am going to make a meme about "Mom runs a half marathon..." with what happens the rest of the day vs. "Dad run a half marathon...".  Any guesses how that would look??
Family swag
My swag
After my race, preparing for Albani's race

My little PR miler pre-race!