Wednesday, May 31, 2017


May in review!

Total mileage for the month: 248.9 (in comparison, my 2017 thus far has been:  January - 261, February - 212, March - 203, April - 219).  My total May mileage wasn't far off what I was doing during my peak marathon training time in January, which surprised me.
  • May 1-7:  54.7
  • May 8-14:  58.7
  • May 15-21:  60.3
  • May 22-28:  53.4
  • May 29-June 4: 51.9
  • May 2:  Track workout of 5 x 600 m with 400 m recovery jogs (3 miles warm-up and 2.6 miles cool-down).  I called this one "Antibiotics Make Me Positive Split".  I was anxious going into this workout, because I knew I wasn't 100% and I hate not knowing what my body will have to give.  My goal range for the 600s was 2:02-2:06, and I ran 2:03, 2:05, 2:07, 2:07, 2:07 -- so it wasn't a success but it also wasn't a flop, with being just 1 second over pace range on 3 of them (and 2:07 is 5:40 pace, so not the worst).  It just felt weird; I felt good enough on the first two, but I felt like I burned through the glycogen in my muscles extra fast -- and I believe that was related to finishing my course of antibiotics on May 1, as taking them made my blood sugar feel wonky.  My arms felt like lead the entire workout, which I blame on heavy arm work at bootcamp the day before.  I also got dizzy during the last repeat, so it was good it was the last one!  Each day, all you've got is all you've got, and I gave it all I had!  You know I hate to positive split though.  I hope I get another go at this one, because I believe that at 100% I could run them all in 2:02-2:04, and definitely 2:06 or under...with a negative split! 
  • May 10:  4 x 1 mile on the road with 0.5 mile recovery jogs (2.1 miles warm-up and 2.1 miles cool-down).  After about 6 weeks of not feeling like I nailed any runs, I nailed this workout!  My mile splits were 5:39, 5:42, 5:44, 5:37.  My goal pace range from my coach was 5:43-5:50, and beforehand I thought 5:50 would be a stretch, but a combination of feeling fantastic and running with someone (Ben) for the first time in years on mile repeats got me started out fast, but also feeling like I could maintain that pace for 4 repeats.  I was SO EXTREMELY happy with this workout and it was a HUGE personal best for me on mile repeats.  The last time I ran mile repeats on the exact same course (solo), I did 5 repeats and my splits were 5:57, 5:54, 5:57, 5:56, 6:02.  I hadn't been happy with that workout and had felt like on a good day I could hit 5:50 on them, but I certainly have never thought I could average 5:40 as I did in this workout.  It was a day so good that I wondered if my Garmin was wrong, bahaha!
  • May 16:  4 mile tempo run (2.3 miles warm-up and 2.2 miles cool-down) in 24:06 via 6:06, 6:04, 6:01, 5:55 (6:01 average).  My goal pace range was 5:57-6:07, and overall I was pleased with this workout and my negative split.  I ran it on a half mile dirt loop instead of my usual road course due to Missy's schedule.  Because of the flooding we'd had a few weeks prior, there were a few stretches where the trail was washed out and the footing was really horrible!  I was glad I was able to keep it in my goal pace range, but I also felt like if I'd have run it on the road I'd have averaged sub-6:00...because, come on, who wants to average 6:01?!  But a good lesson on being less obsessive about times/courses, plus the dirt meant less impact.  After I finished I turned around to meet back up with Missy; she was doing a 6 mile tempo and asked me to "cool down" at 6:40 pace with her.  Based on past history, I'd suspected this request was coming, and in my head I'd practiced saying no, but in reality I found myself saying okay, so my "cool-down" 2.2 miles ended up being at 6:39 pace, which was certainly not a relaxing cool-down.  My tempo pace range has steadily crept down in the time I've been working with my coach, and this is the first time it's started with a 5 -- which is exciting but also super intimidating!  I remembered doing a 4 mile tempo around this time of year in 2016, so I looked back and saw that then I averaged 6:12 on my good course last June (details on Thursday here).  In December 2016, I ran what I called a "break through" tempo on my good course in the exact same time as I ran this one in (details on Tuesday here), so I'm calling this one a solid improvement based on the course difference...but I will get you in 5:59 next time, 4 mile tempo!  I wrote a little more about this workout here.
  • May 20:  Pacing Amy P. on 4-3-2-1 miles with 0.5 recoveries within a 17 miler, under strict orders to stick to her goal pace ranges and not go faster.  The pace ranges were 6:45-6:50, 6:40-6:45, 6:35-6:40, and 6:30-6:35.  This was similar to The Hardest Workout Ever that I've done twice before marathons, but without the 5 mile portion at the beginning.  I knew it was a key workout for her and didn't want to screw it up!  We ran out and back, and the 4 mile portion ended up being into the wind, making 6:50 pace much harder than it should have been.  6:50 felt like about 6:20 pace, and I started questioning if I would even be able to pace the whole workout for her, but when we turned around for the 3 miles it was so much easier.  There was also water over the road in about 10 spots, so we had to slog through that for probably 6-12 steps a pop, and then deal with soaked shoes for the entire run.  My splits on the 4-3-2-1 mile portions were: 6:51, 6:48, 6:51, 6:55/6:43, 6:42, 6:40/6:40, 6:37/6:20.  Under the conditions we had (warm and humid in addition to the wind and water crossings), there is no way I could have started that workout at my marathon pace and finished it at my half pace, so she truly nailed it, and I think she is right on track to break 3:00 at Grandma's next month!
  • May 23:  6 mile tempo run (2.2 miles warm-up and 2.1 miles cool-down) in 36:03.8 via 6:08, 6:09, 6:02, 5:57, 5:55, 5:51 (6:00 average)...err...I guess I will get you next time, 5:59 pace 6 mile tempo!  Since I started at the top of my pace range as instructed (and who am I kidding, I can't start any faster than that anyhow!), I did not realize that I was going to be so close to sneaking under 36:00.  My goal pace range was 5:57-6:10, so I wanted to start at 6:10 and work down to sub-6:00.  I think I pushed the last mile too much, making this workout more like a 5 mile tempo plus a 1 mile anaerobic push, but as I passed mile 4 I was pretending like I was running the final 2 miles of my goal half marathon and that I needed to run the final 2.1 at 6:00 pace to break 1:21.  I love using that technique during tempos and it helps me finish strong -- and I think it in turn helps me in my races.  Like every tempo ever, I felt meh during the first 2 miles, and then kept feeling better and better throughout...until the final half mile or so, when I was ready to be finished, or at least to slow down.  This was my lifetime best 6 mile tempo, with my previous best coming in at 6:09 pace on 12/20/16 (which was the last time I ran a 6 mile tempo) -- although I ran an 8 mile tempo at 6:06 pace on 1/3/17, so really that one was my best of that training cycle.  Anyway, I was thrilled with this run despite wanting 4 more seconds (story of my life, but shouldn't complain!)!  I wrote a little more about this tempo here.
  • May 30:  2 and 1 mile pushes with 0.5 recovery (2.5 miles warm-up and 2.1 miles cool down) with goal pace ranges of 6:15-6:20 and 6:05-6:10, and actual splits of 6:17/6:08 and 6:03.  This was a race-week workout meant to get my legs going but not overly fatigue them, and my coach said to NOT run faster than the goal paces (the 6:08 mile had some decline in it so I'm claiming it as 6:15 effort).  It felt brisk but not all-out, and I was tired from the holiday weekend going in, so I was glad the workout wasn't any longer or faster!
  • Doubles on May 2, 4, 10, 16, 23, and 30.  I'm getting used to having a morning workout followed by a second easy run...funny how my coach sneaks in things like this.  Initially he started me with a second 3 mile run once a week on an easy run day, and it's gradually become 3-4 milers, sometimes twice a week, and most recently doubles started coming on workout days.  He's done the same with taking me from running 4 days a week, to 5 days, to 6 days (and soon to be 7 days).  I haven't had even a minor injury ache or pain when working with him, so his system has worked!  Also funny, those types of changes always scare me at first ("What?  I can't run 6 days a week?!"), then I don't want to give them up ("What? No doubles this week?!").
  • Strides on May 6 (pre-race), 18, and 27 (pre-race).
  • Bootcamp/full body strength training sessions on May 1, 8, 12, 15, 19, 22, 26, and 29 (skipped May 7 due to racing on May 8).
  • Ice bath on May 30, because reducing inflammation was more important than training gains at that point!  I'll do another on June 1 to get as ready as I can for my half marathon on June 3.
Long runs:
  • May 7 - 14.2 miles steady (7:05).  This was a good "normal" long run!  I ran the first 9 miles with Danielle, although she went ahead of me for a couple of the miles because she had a progression run within her mileage for the day, then I picked up my headphones for music on the final 5 miles when I was solo.  I could tell I had a race on my legs from the day before, but overall I felt good enough.
  • May 13 - 18 miles steady (7:11).  I had 16 miles scheduled, but Amy P. was running 20 so I asked to increase my distance to go farther with her, and my request was okayed (I didn't expect it to be)!  Then Amy ended up needing to run her 20 on Friday so we didn't even run together, but I went the 18 anyway, because, well, you know.  I think it will pay off in my upcoming half, as I always run my best halves when I'm doing marathon training long runs.  Missy ran 16 with me, and we had an absolutely gorgeous morning for it!  I felt great overall, but in the final few miles I could tell it had been awhile since I'd run 18.
  • May 20 - 17.1 miles with a workout, as detailed above.
  • May 27 - 12.7 miles total.  Taper taper taper as far as distance goes.  I ran the Iron Horse 5K during this run as a last minute thing, because I just couldn't quite go to the event and not run it (several family members, including my daughter, were running as one of many Ibbetson Memorial Day weekend activities)!  I ran 4.4 miles pre-race, with 1 mile uptempo (6:31), and 5.2 miles post-race, all timed to minimize pauses in running (mainly just to drink, although I still didn't drink enough).  It was stupid sticky warm and humid (75* with 92% humidity), making me glad I only had 12 miles to run!
  • I was a little bipolar this month, swinging back and forth between a little funk and some break-through runs.  I am still having that issue on May 31, vacillating between being excited to race a half on June 3 and wanting to cry because the weather for it is not going to be conducive for a PR attempt (70*, humid, headwind).  I told Jon, "I might as well not even go to the race" after looking at the forecast, but then I told myself to shape up!  That doesn't mean I am not still pouting.
  • Summer is coming fast!  It was sports bra running weather for many of my runs this month (although I ran in gloves in May 25 at 44*!).  And, oh, the humidity!  And wind!  Missouri!  My husband said, "Just forget about any PRs until fall."  Oy! 
  • A highlight run of the month was a 5 miler on May 4, because I paced my friend Amy R. to her fastest tempo ever!  She was slated to run a progressive 4 mile tempo, and I paced her for 7:12, 7:05, 6:57, 6:48 (then finished my final mile in 6:46 because you know I'm obsessed with negative splitting, but this was slated as a base run day and I didn't want to over-do it).  It was so fulfilling to encourage her along the way, and to see her excitement with crushing her goal.  She is in super good shape, because the weather sucked for this run ("feels like" 36*, light rain, and 25ish mph wind -- we kept the wind as a crosswind the whole way but it was still not ideal) and the course we ran had about 100 ft of elevation gain (e.g., flat for our area, but not actually flat).  I also enjoyed pacing Amy P. on May 20, as I wrote about above.
  • On May 19, a Friday runch miracle happened -- Missy, Danielle, and I were all able to get away from work to meet for an easy 6-7 miler (6 for me; I was a few minutes late!).  I'd planned to do 4 runch miles from my office, but this was much better.
  • On May 25 our group had a birthday party run, which I wrote about, with photos, here.
  • I received free professional photos from the Easter Sun Run 10K and 2 mile, and as per usual I disliked all of them!  If you look good in your race photos, you're running too slow, right?!  The acceptable ones are at the end of this post.
  • My coach keeps mentioning increasing my mileage in my CIM build, so that's coming this summer and I'm excited!  The beginning of June will be a recovery period with light mileage, though.
  • We had a lot of family/life events in May as well -- some highlight photos below.  The pictures without the captions are from Memorial Day weekend (the formatting won't cooperate -- it was probably too humid for it to function, bahaha!).
May beauty on one of many greenhouse trips
'Tis the season for outdoor activities
Mothers Day happened this month 
The last day of school also occurred this month
My two babies on the last day of school
Albani attended her first slumber party ever this month!

Easter Sun Run 2 mile start
The photo I love -- my dad taking a picture at the awards!
And one I enjoyed -- I am posing for that photo my dad is taking

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Commence Heat Training: Iron Horse 5K

I hate last minute changes in plans except when they involve adding races!  We'd been planning a trip to my in-law's for Memorial Day weekend for several weeks, but I didn't plan on running the Iron Horse 5K until a few days before the event.  My sister-in-law was running it and her oldest daughter was running the Kids K, Albani wanted to run the 1K as well, and I figured there was no reason for me to go to the race and not run it, since I'd of course be running that morning anyway.

I had a 12 mile relaxed long run on my schedule, so I asked my coach about running the 5K as a tempo effort in the middle of it.  I have a goal race next weekend (June 3), so I didn't want to push too hard; I find I have a hard time gearing up to race all-out two weekends in a row, even if one or both races are short.  I used think I could do this just fine, so I am not sure what's changed, but I sure learned a lesson from stacking the Wash U 10,000 m and the Rock the Parkway half (both races I wanted to PR in, although the weather said "no ma'am" to that in the latter anyhow) back to back earlier this season.  My coach said the tempo plan was fine, but that I might not feel fresh for it coming off of Tuesday's tempo.
I was more enthusiastic before I started running
On race morning, I was so glad I wasn't planning an all-out race or PR attempt, because it was sticky!  It was 75* with 92% humidity, and these conditions are always much harder for me in May than in August.  I'd run in long sleeves twice during the past week (44* and 46*), and aside from a couple of easy 3-4 mile second runs at 70-80* recently, I haven't run in anything over 60ish.  In short, I am not heat adapted yet!  I'm typically a decent heat runner, but I need a couple of weeks to get used to it, and my first runs in it are always a battle (I'm not sure high humidity ever gets easy either!).  It's also ideal to ease into running in the heat with easy efforts, as opposed to running hard or long workouts in it right away.  So I did the logical thing and started with a long run that included a hard effort, hah.

On my warm-up, I knew the race could be a struggle!  During my uptempo warm-up mile, 6:31 felt much harder than it should have; I was thinking "How on earth did I run a marathon averaging faster than this pace?!" and "Am I even going to run this 5K under 20?!".  Originally my tempo plan had been to start at 6:00ish, and then step down to 5:57 and 5:55 for miles 2-3, but as I ran my warm-up I started doing the math on what exactly I needed to run to do an 18:59 (6:06 average is the answer).  I also ran the course and realized it would be difficult to negative split on because of the decline in mile 1 and incline in mile 3.  I timed my warm-up to go pretty much straight into the race so I wouldn't split up my long run mileage, so I drank some nuun and lined up, already drenched in sweat.
Here we go!
Very serious at the start
As usual, many runners started out too fast, and I spent the first half mile or so moving up as everyone sorted out.  After that I found myself behind 5 men, 2 of whom were in tri suits so who were clearly doing the duathlon that was also taking place (5K run/20 mile bike/5K run).  I paced with one for a bit but felt him slowing so moved along.  I passed the other duathlon guy shortly after the 1 mile.  I then leap-frogged with another guy for the remainder of the race; he would go on to out-kick me -- he was 15 years old so there was never any hope for my kick bettering his!  After mile 1 I knew I'd be lucky to keep it at 6:00 pace and would probably not be dipping under.  During mile 3 I found myself wondering, "Exactly how slow can I run this last mile and still be in the 18s?" -- and my estimate was 6:15, which was pretty accurate; usually my math is not that good during races.  I wasn't in the mindset to kill myself during the final mile so I didn't.  I finished in 18:52 (6:03 average), first overall female with three men ahead of me.  Official results are here.  Luckily for my sweat-drenched self, part of my award was an electrolyte replacement drink mix!
Clock shot
Awards minus the re:play
Since this was a workout race, I was fine with it -- although admittedly I was a bit disappointed that I couldn't even quite match the tempo pace I held for almost twice the distance on Tuesday's 6 mile tempo run.  But I guess that was the difference between 58* and 75*!  I also ran a positive split (5:56, 6:04, 6:09, final bit at 5:44), but I blame the course mostly for that because we dropped 52 ft over a gradual decline going out, and then came back up the incline coming back; it was gradual so deceptive, but I was glad to see it in my Garmin elevation data because I sure felt it in mile 3!  This calculator says in the conditions I had, I should plan to slow from 6:00 tempo pace to 6:10 tempo pace, so that's encouraging and perhaps my effort was more like 5:53 pace (it sure felt more like 5:53 pace!).  It was also another good reminder that my coach puts my schedule together much better than I do; my plan wasn't set up for me to race on this day, and I didn't feel race-ready, but when he has me scheduled for a race I typically feel ready to go.  This doesn't mean I won't add any more last minute races like this (because they are fun!), just that I will add them knowing I won't be at my best for them.

After I finished I drank some more nuun and headed out for what ended up being 5.2 more miles.  I then watched Albani run the Kids K (1 kilometer).  She had a fun time and didn't complain about the weather at all, so I tried to take a lesson from her!  Her race wasn't timed, the finishing clock was on the duathlon, I didn't think to start a watch for her race, and Jon forgot to stop the timer he started, so we are bad parents and have no idea what time she ran.  Luckily all that mattered to her was the finishers medal!  Photos of her race are below -- I also ran out on the course with her to get some shots.

Overall it was a nice event and very well organized.  I've never run it before, and may not have the chance again for awhile, because I typically attend the Applied Behavior Analysis International convention over Memorial Day weekend -- so I'm glad I gave it a go!  I raced a 5K as a tempo within a long run in June 2016 in similar warm and humid conditions (also a pretty similar course), and I did that one in 19:35ish so it's nice to know that my times under similar circumstances have dropped (except I did go to bootcamp the day before this time, I guess in an effort to make sure my legs were totally shot, bahaha!).  I spent 2015 striving to break 19:00 in the 5K and always coming up short -- almost always with 19:0X (and not actually hitting the 18's during a 5K race until a low-key one in October 2016)  -- so that made me thankful for this one too.  I just can't think about how my big dream 5K goal is to run 57 seconds faster (that's a ton in a 5K!)!

Friday, May 26, 2017

"I got you 8 miles for your birthday" & a solid tempo

I can't express how much I love our women's training group!  Although we now have men who run with us (less consistently than the women, I will note), I'm still calling us the competitive women's group.  We literally and figuratively run the farm roads (that's what country roads are called in Missouri, e.g., Farm Road 165).

May 25 was Danielle's birthday, so we celebrated by giving her 8 miles, donuts that no one ate, a celebration sign, and some photo ops!  It's truly a party at 5:30 a.m., right?!

Beautiful scenery & it's so light at 6:00 a.m. now!
Post-run in the parking lot where so much magic happens
Photo of a photo op plus pup Macy
On May 23, I ran a 6 mile tempo run.  My goal pace range was 5:57-6:10, and I'm supposed to start at the slower end of the range and get faster as the run progresses...thankfully, because I think know I would crash and burn if I started at 5:57!  I ended up hitting it in 36:03.8 (precisely, hah) via 6:08, 6:09, 6:02, 5:57, 5:55, 5:51 (6:00.6 average, precisely, again, hah).  Last week I ran my 4 mile tempo at 6:01 average, so I felt great about running 2 miles farther at the same pace -- even though the 6 miler was on a nice road course vs. the 4 miler on a dirt loop with some crappy footing, but I'm not bursting my bubble!  Although if you know me at all you also know I was kicking myself for not running 4 seconds faster for a 35:59!  Since I'd started closer to 6:10 I had no idea I'd be so close to breaking 36, but now I have a clear goal for next time.

This was a great confidence boosting run going into the Dam to Dam half marathon on June 3.  My previous best 6 mile tempo (which was the last time I ran a 6 mile tempo) was at 6:09 pace on 12/20/16 -- although I ran an 8 mile tempo at 6:06 pace on 1/3/17, so the final 6 miles of that one would have been faster than 6:09 average (technicalities).  I also looked back at my 6 mile tempo in summer 2016 to find that I ran it at 6:24 average and was really happy with that at the time, so I'm stoked that I improved my pace by 24 seconds/mile in 10 months.  Granted, I'm sure the July 2016 one was in warmer temperatures, but it was about 58* and humid for this one so also not perfect.

Anyhow, the Dam to Dam race comes at an awkward time in my training cycle, so my coach told me to go for a PR there because he knows I want to and it's not unreasonable, but also to not be disappointed if I don't get one because of the timing.  I think a lot of it will come down to the weather too; I don't think I'm dumb enough to try for it if it's 70* and humid, or if we have a headwind on the point-to-point course.  But if the weather is good I'm going all in, and if I crash I crash knowing I tried!  In the final 2 miles of this tempo I pretended like I was running the final 2 miles of Dam to Dam and that I needed to run them at 6:00 pace or under to break 1:21...which is why I probably pushed the last mile too hard, but eh.  My legs were still fine enough for a 7:20 pace cool down and a 7:30 pace shake out run 5 hours later, so I didn't trash them with the push.

My Garmin told me I ran a 5K best of 18:19 during this tempo (the final 5K, clearly), which made me believe that I actually can race an 18:18 5K on a hilly course.  It also re-affirmed that I need a lot of warming up to run decent 5Ks.  I'll get you some day, 17:59 5K (possibly unrealistic).  I'll get you some day, 5:59 pace tempo (more realistic)!

Best 5K per this Garmin
Bandit warmed up my clothes before the run

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


I realized that I mention bootcamp quite a bit, but I've never elaborated much on it.  Running is much more fun to write about!  But the strength and plyometric moves in bootcamp have helped my running quite a bit and help keep me injury-free, so I wanted to write down some details about it.

Each class is different, but every class is some combination of the following moves in various sequences.  I like the unpredictability, and it also keeps the workouts effective for me.  Some days we use heavier weights and do fewer reps, some days it's lighter weights and more reps, and a lot of moves are body weight only (e.g., jumping squats/lunges, push-ups, etc.).

For years I had the goal of strength training on my own, and I went through bouts of consistency with it, but I was never consistent long-term until I started attending a class.  I do much better in this group setting having someone tell me what to do than I do going at it on my own.  It's now part of my Monday and Friday routine (or Monday only, if I have a weekend race), which also makes it easier to continue.  Mondays are my day off running currently (although soon my coach is upping me to running 7 days a week), and on Fridays I have my shortest run of the week.  Some people like to combine strength training with their hard running days so that recovery days are truly about recovery, but this combination has worked well for me and is much easier logistically -- plus, I have three other days each week that are easy runs, as I typically do only two hard runs a week.

I'm listing the names my instructor uses for exercises, most of which I believe are commonly known.  If you want me to elaborate or show examples of anything I can!
  • Squat variations
    • Standard weighted
    • Single leg
    • Sumo
    • Jumping
  • Lunge variations
    • Forward
    • Lateral
    • Backward
    • Curtsy
    • Around the world
    • Jumping
    • Walking
  • Plank variations
    • Standard on elbows or straight arm
    • Side
    • Side with rotation
    • With spider man legs and other leg movements
    • With one leg or arm lifted
    • Bird dog movements
  • Various core
    • Walk-outs
    • Standing core moves
    • Russian twists
    • Bicycle
    • Leg lifts
    • Crunches and crunch variations
  • Dead lifts
    • Single-leg
    • Double-leg
    • With arm lift moves at the top of each move
  • Wall sits
  • Bridges
    • Single leg
    • Double leg
    • Walking legs
  • Rows
    • Kneeling
    • Bent
    • High
  • Tricep extensions, usually combined with a lower body or core move
  • Bicep curls, usually combined with a lower body move
  • Push-ups
    • Standard
    • Tricep
    • With one arm wide
    • With one leg lifted
  • Mountain climbers
  • Burpees and squat thrusts
  • Butt-kicks
  • High knees
  • Fast feet
  • Skaters
  • Tuck jumps
  • Jumping jacks
  • Figure 8s
  • Balance moves
  • Work on a BOSU ball
  • Work on an exercise ball
There are a few strength moves that we don't really do in bootcamp that I incorporate on my own before class, due to their running specificity and my injury history:
  • Step-ups
  • Calf raises
  • Box jumps
And that's my workout outside of running!  I have some concerns with sticking to it as I increase my mileage over this summer, but my goal is to stay consistent.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Being in the Moment & Getting Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

When I was struggling with not feeling like anything I ran was good enough, my coach encouraged me to focus on my day-to-day training and recovery instead of getting caught up in always thinking about my goal of a 2:45 marathon.  Trust the process and the results will come, right? 

My first thought about that was, "That's ridiculous; that goal is the reason for all of the day-to-day training!"  The more I thought about it, the more I thought about how horrible I can be at being in the moment because I am always thinking long-term -- with running and with everything else in life.  I always find myself thinking a few steps ahead, at times so much so that I miss out on the joy in the present.  I am most certainly a planner!

But at the same time, I love the every day process with running.  I enjoy training every day, or I wouldn't do it -- I'm not a professional after all!  This is a fun, stress relieving hobby.  It's "me" time and my main social time.  It's so many things to me.  Even if I knew today that I'd never run a 2:45 marathon, or even if I knew I'd never run another marathon at all, I'd keep running day-to-day.  I love racing, but I also love my daily running time.

I don't think I'll get to a point where I'm not focusing on CIM often in my training -- if you can't stop thinking about it, don't stop working for it, right?!  But I do think a good take-away for me has been to remember how much I enjoy the every day!  Every run is truly a blessing.


As far as getting comfortable being uncomfortable, my tempo pace range is now officially 5:57-6:10.  My range has gradually moved down in the time I've been working with my coach, and this is the first time there has been a 5 at the beginning -- which is both exciting and intimidating.  In general, I am supposed to start tempo runs towards the top of the range and work down.  I had a 4 mile tempo on May 16 to start things off, and I ran it in 24:06 via 6:06, 6:04, 6:01, 5:55 (6:01 average).  I ran it on a half mile dirt loop instead of my usual road tempo course because Missy wanted to run her tempo that morning too.  She had to be at work early, and the dirt loop is much closer to her office than our road tempo route.  I've run tempos on this loop before and loved it, because it's pretty flat and I can get into a rhythm well, but due to all of the recent rain and flooding we've had, parts of the track were very washed out and had horrible footing.  While I was happy with my run and negative split, I also thought I could've hit 5:5X had I been on a road course...I'll get you next time, 5:59 average paced tempo!

Tempos are another good lesson about being in the moment, or being in the mile I'm in.  I very rarely feel great (sometimes not even okay) during the first 1-2 miles of a tempo.  I've had so many longer ones during which I struggled to hit my pace at the beginning, and then finished under pace in the end, that it doesn't throw me mentally anymore (it sure used to).  The first 2 miles of this one were meh, but then I hit my stride on the second half.  I try to focus on the mile I'm running and hitting my pace for it instead of how much total distance I have left.  Tempo pace is definitely comfortably uncomfortable -- it's hard but sustainably hard (unlike speed work repeat paces that do not feel sustainable!).  I hope I am on my way to feeling more and more comfortable at 5:57-6:10.  Last year at this time, my tempo pace range was 6:15-6:25, and in 2015 it was 6:25-6:40, so I am thankful for that progress and plan to keep working!

I complained about the deep gravel and painfully rocky portions of the loop all day after the tempo, and then when I snuck in a quick second run between work and a board meeting that same evening, I ended up running the same dirt loop again in lieu of dealing with 5:30 p.m. traffic near the Y!  Irony. 

Recovering in the moment

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Hills & Valleys: Every runner feels this way sometimes

All runners know that running is symbolic of life for many reasons, and both have many ups and downs.  Most moments, in running and in life, are ordinary and normal -- nothing extraordinary, but nothing to complain about.  Because I enjoy running so much, even average normal base runs are typically really enjoyable for me, and I'm thankful that they are part of my normal ordinary life!

Most runners also know that it's physiologically impossible to be at peak all of the time.  You can train and race year-round, but if you really want to net your top performances, you need to choose goal races ("A" races) to target, and train for them using periodization techniques.  You can usually net some other really solid races ("B" races) during your build-ups, but you can't race your best year-round, and the more you race the more you'll need to designate "C" races -- and this concept is hard for me to accept!  I've come to terms with running some races as workouts/"C" races, especially if I want to run several close together, but at the same time I like to think I could jump in a race during any month of the year and be in PR form, even though no one can.

The beginning of 2017 went really well for me, with a half PR in January, a significant marathon PR in February, and a 10K PR on the last day of March.  I was able to hit the half during my marathon build-up without really tapering, then the marathon was my peak, and I got the 10K in off of my marathon fitness (I also had a 12K that went better than it should have 2 weeks after my marathon).  I am very thankful for all of this, but at the same time I'm a little greedy and would like to keep riding that fitness and building to bigger and better.  This spark is probably a good and a bad thing rolled into one.

April into May has been kind of mundane for me.  I'm not running badly by any means, and I am also very thankful I'm healthy, but I just haven't done anything I view as spectacular.  The Rock the Parkway half was fine, but it wasn't fantastic, and I've had plenty of workouts that I've hit but nothing I feel like I've really nailed.  Bronchitis stole my strength for awhile, and I think that's a big part of why I'm not feeling confident and strong right now.

I aim to be positive about running and life, but at the same time I want to be real and honest.  Basically, I'm not feeling very fit or fast right now.  I'm not running poorly, but I'm not having break-through performances, and I'm not feeling as peppy on my runs as I was a couple of months ago.  Combine that with my Never Satisfied Syndrome and with me being someone who is hard on herself, and it's not the best combination.

Some of this has to be a mental drag, because even though I'm not at peak I've had some solid workouts - a fartlek PR and a hill repeat best (both of which I mentioned here).  Some of my base runs have been sneaking in under 7:00 pace, which technically is a break-through.  I ran a maybe PR 5K on a tough course, but I just didn't feel like it was good enough

I'm getting caught up in it all not being good enough somehow.  Like, sure, that workout was fine and I hit my times, but I'd better be able to do that if I want to even think about training for a 2:45 marathon.  I should be able to run a much faster 5K than that if I want to run a 2:45 in December.  6:50 pace had better be easy.  Perhaps what's happened is that I've come to expect these things instead of celebrating them.  Instead of thinking, "Yay, I've never done that before" as I was a few months ago, I'm thinking, "I should be able to do that" or, worse yet, "I need to be better than that."

So I am working on giving myself some more credit and compassion; on being as kind to myself as I would be to someone else; on trusting the long-term process.  Not every day is going to be a break through.  Not every day is going to feel perfect.  But that's running, and that's life!  I'm human, but I'm a perfectionist, and those two things just don't jive.  I don't want my best to never be good enough; I want to celebrate each step!  I want to run joyfully, whether I'm running fast or slow!  I'll get my groove back, but in case you've felt this way please know you're not alone.

Running has its ups and downs, but it's important to remember that neither will last forever.
Illustration of my 2017
Addendum:  I wrote this post on May 9, but didn't publish it that day because I'd already posted about Breaking2 that day.  On May 10, I killed my mile repeat workout, averaging 5:40 (via 5:39, 5:42, 5:44, 5:37) for 4 x 1 mile road repeats.  For the first time in 6 weeks, I nailed a run AND felt really fantastic doing it!  I needed that; it was almost like it lifted a weight off my shoulders that I'd been carrying around for several weeks.  I had a guy pal to run with, and I'd forgotten how much having someone along helps on these type of workouts, plus it was just a wonderful day.  This was a huge mile repeat personal best for me, and I think many things contributed, but one was writing this post.  I was no longer afraid of what my body would or wouldn't have to give; I went out there ready to do my best, to celebrate, and to run joyously!  Never discount the mental aspect of running.
I really needed this.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


Like most of the running world (and even much of the non-running world!), I was intrigued by Nike's Breaking2 project.  It's hard to fathom anyone running 4:34 pace for 26.2 miles straight -- most people, myself included, can't even run 1 mile anywhere near that pace!  Watching history being made with Kipchoge's near-miss of 2:00:25 was pretty inspiring.  Many complained that it wasn't a "real race," but it wasn't supposed to be.  It was a time trial under optimal conditions to see if the barrier could be broken (and to sell some Nike products).

My favorite take-away was:  Challenge your limits.  Breaking 4 minutes in the mile was something that for years no one had done and many thought impossible, but now over 2,000 people have done it!  Will the 2 hour barrier in the marathon be this way some day?  A 26 second miss -- 1 measly second per mile -- indicates that a sub-2:00 is coming under optimal conditions.  It seems that it's only a matter of time before the barrier is broken on a record legal course.

Although Nike had many scientists involved in this project, plus years of research and work poured into it, I have opinions on what they should have done differently based opinion (hah!):
  • Negative split.  It's the only way to run a marathon (in my opinion, but I know this opinion is correct!), and stats on our current world records support it.  Kipchoge was ahead of pace at the 10K and half.  His first 10K should have been his slowest, followed by a first half of maybe 60:19 and a second half of 59:40.  He barely fell off pace at the end, and I think with a slightly slower start he wouldn't have fallen off at all.  I once read that for every 5 seconds/mile you go out too fast in a marathon, you lose at least 10-15 seconds/mile at the end, and I believe this 100%. 
  • Run a point-to-point course.  I always always lose rhythm turning, and they ran 17 laps.  Even though they said the turns were gradual, that's a lot of turning and also opportunities to miss tangents!  I noticed they were not hugging the inside line at all times due to the position in the arrowhead drafting formation.  When running point-to-point, you can just laser focus ahead and run, and you don't have to worry about hitting tangents.
  • Make that a course with gentle net downhill.  It's not record-legal anyway, so why not run a gentle downhill?  In my opinion, courses like the Revel races are quad pounders/injuries waiting to happen, but a marathon course with a drop of maybe 600-800 feet seems, well, like common sense if you're trying to get every advantage you can.  It's one of the reasons why I'm going to CIM for my next marathon (it has almost 500 feet net drop; about the most allowable for an OTQ).
  • Run it on a day with tailwind.  That point-to-point downhill course can only be improved with a tailwind!  Again, it's not record-legal anyway so why not?!
  • Run it in 40* degree weather.  54* seemed too warm to me, and I can't believe Kipchoge ran in arm warmers or even a singlet (this has to be because Nike made him).  That would have been a sports bra marathon for me!
  • Make the pace car perfect.  Surely with today's technology, a car could be programmed to hit splits exactly as intended, helping with the negative split issue.
Since watching the event with my husband, I've taken to telling him that I'm embarking on the Breaking2:45 Project.  We'll see how many times I can use that phrase between now and December (spoiler:  people may tire of it)!  I am also dying to have a pace car drive my exact intended pace with a light beam that I can just follow, but since that seems unlikely I hope I can tuck in at the back of the pace pack at CIM, and perhaps they'll run in an arrow formation.

In case you missed it, you can watch the full Breaking2 event here.

Challenge your limits!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Bradleyville 5K: When certifications expire & 5Ks become less terrifying

I ran my first 5K of 2017 on May 6!  5Ks scare me more than marathons.  A marathon is comfortable at the beginning, but a 5K is hard from the first step!  I ran the Bradleyville Scholarship Run last year, so I also knew that the first half mile was all uphill, making this race even more intimidating than a normal 5K.  It's not a course you go to run fast on; it's a race you go to for prize money.  My daughter was really excited about running the kids mile, which she also ran last year; this puzzled me because her race was essentially a half mile uphill, a 180* turn, then a half mile downhill, but I tried to take a lesson from her and not fear the hill.
I've been gradually getting back to feeling normal following a bout of bronchitis, and a track workout on May 2 showed me that I was getting there but not quite.  My main goal for the race was to net 2nd overall female (knowing a female I had no chance of beating was also racing), without worrying about my time.  This situation waivered a bit when I was laying in bed the night before the race and told Jon, "Maybe I can run an 18:20 at Bradleyville" (based on the 19:16 I'd run there in 2016 coming off an injury); Jon dismissed this and advised that I should just go for 2nd and 18:59.  The course is one to run by effort, because it's hilly the whole way (about 140 feet of gain); also in 2016 my Garmin had some issues in the remote location so I decided not to use it to pace.  Going by feel in a 5K is a scary and liberating feeling all at once, and I've learned that I tend to do better that way anyhow.

Elevation estimate
After the gun went off, I was quickly in second overall female position.  Initially there were many men around me, but as we pulled up on the 1 mile mark, I'd passed most of them and could see the runners ahead of me were (in order): a fast-looking guy, my coach, my coach's wife Kimi, a guy in a white singlet, and a guy who'd asked me at the start if I was going to "win again this year" (I redirected him to Kimi being last year's winner, and stated that she would win again this year but I was going to give it my all for 2nd!).  I caught and passed the starting line conversation guy shortly after the mile (course mile split of 5:54ish), then set my sights on white singlet guy, who wasn't that far ahead but seemed to be running strong.

Although this course is challenging elevation-wise, one thing I really like about it is that it's straight out and back.  That means no turning aside from a hair-pin turn at the halfway point, and I always run much better without turns; I seem to lose rhythm every time I turn and prefer to laser focus ahead.  After the turn-around, I continued to press towards white singlet guy the best I could, telling myself that he was going to run an 18:20 so I needed to stay on him or pass him.  I knew I had a solid 2nd from gauging the other females after the turn-around, so my main motivation was to get to the line as fast as I could.  We passed the course 2 mile in about 11:45.

We started passing 1 mile walkers in the last half mile of the race, and they were quite thick in places.  Running right behind white singlet guy was very helpful at that point, because he basically cleared a path for me and I didn't feel like I had to weave more than a couple of minor movements.  The plus side of that first half mile uphill is that you get to finish with a half mile downhill!  I kept telling myself just to stay on white singlet guy.  In the end, he finished 3rd overall male in 18:18.0, while I was 2nd overall female in 18:18.6.  The finishing clock was of no help with knowing this information (see photo below; the inflatable finish banner also didn't hold up, but you can see the beautiful Ozarks backdrop)!
After doubling over from 5K pain for a moment, I found Albani and Jon to find out that she ran a 10:57 mile, off her last year's time of 10:03 but a solid effort (she's on the minimalist plan of weekly mileage of 2-3 miles a week for only a month).  I think the difference was that last year Jon ran with her to pace her, while this year she wanted to run alone and probably started out too fast with all of the other kids.  The mile started at the same time as my race so I didn't get to see her run, but Jon got some great pictures of her and the beautiful Ozarks backdrop!  She enjoyed her run (and her post-race soda!), and I love seeing her have fun running.  She was disappointed that she didn't win a trophy, but she also did not want mine. 
Perfect form!
Coming down the mountain
Pain cave face
Finishing shot
Technically, 18:18 is a 5K PR for me, bettering my previous PR of 18:25.  After the race, a few people were mentioning that they thought the course was a bit short.  Both this year and last, my Garmin hasn't seemed to pick up satellites very well out in the boondocks, so I didn't use it for pace (I used it as a stopwatch and took course splits).  I had data on it, but didn't think it was accurate.  Also, consistent with my Certified in '17 campaign, I thought the course was certified, and in fact I knew it had been because I'd looked it up on the USAT&F website before.  I had no cell phone service at the race or for most of the drive back, but as soon as we got back to civilization I pulled up the USAT&F website to double check the certification.  I came up with the certification map below, and the information that the certification was "expired."  This is the course we ran, so as long as the start/finish and turn-around were placed in the correct spots (the turn-around was spray painted on the road, so you'd think it was carried over from year to year), we ran an accurate course; but I was all kinds of second guessing myself and also disliked not having accurate Garmin data to base my conclusion off of.

Certification expired.
I basically came to the conclusion that I am going to strive to run a faster 5K this summer so that it doesn't even matter!  I don't really "claim" my 5K PR anyway since it's my weakest PR; although there is no doubt the 5K is my weakest distance, I'd be lying if I said I didn't really want to better my times in it!

Overall, I'm satisfied with this race and my effort.  I ran 58 seconds faster than I ran last year.  The first half mile uphill didn't seem quite as bad this time around, probably because I'm in better shape now.  I don't think I'll ever run the best 5K I can, because I don't think I'll ever train specifically for the 5K, but instead just try to ride on my half and full marathon fitness to gut them out.  Perhaps the best part of the day was that the race really wasn't as scary as I'd hyped it up in my head to be.  5Ks are tough, but so am I.  Plus, marathon pace should feel slow after running sub-6:00 pace, right?!!


Afterward we went to "Sucker Days" (a real thing) in Nixa!  Albani did all of the kids activities wearing her race number, which I loved.