Monday, July 31, 2017

The person you should strive to be better than is the person you were yesterday (or last month!): July in review

July 2017 in review!

Total mileage for the month:  275, effectively making this my biggest month of the year so far (January - 261, February - 212, March - 203, April - 219, May - 249, June - 205).  I am essentially starting my 20-week marathon training build for CIM at about the mileage I peaked at before the Phoenix marathon, which is a combination of exciting and scary!
  • June 26-July 2:  58.2
  • July 3-9:  60.8
  • July 10-16:  62.4
  • July 17-23:  64.0
  • July 24-30:  65.0
Farm roads are our playground! (from L-R Jessi, Danielle, me, Jeff)

  • July 22 - Access to Health "5K"...just maintaining the trend of racing occasional 5Ks off of no 5K training!  I averaged 5:57 pace (or a tad faster since my Garmin is usually slow), but my official time was 18:48 because the course was a bit long.  The course was also hilly and the temperature was in the 80s, so while this was not my fastest performance of the month, I was happy with it and I ran 50 seconds faster than I did at the same race last year!
  • July 4 -  10 mile progression run with splits of 7:30, 7:24, 7:14, 7:03, 6:55, 6:40, 6:37, 6:20, 6:08, 6:01 (6:48 average) on a rolling road course with 345 ft gain; this was prescribed to start at 7:40 and drop 10 seconds/mile, therefore finishing at 6:10.  My splits were consistently 3-10 seconds under goal pace, and this run was a great way to transition back to workouts after running only two tiny ones in June.  Jessi (MSU's top distance runner) ran this with me, which was very helpful -- and her Garmin had our splits 2-3 seconds faster/mile than mine did, so I want to go with her's that gave us a 5:59 final mile and 6:45 average across the board! 
  •  July 8 - hodge podge progression long run that was not officially on my schedule, with an inpromptu fast finish mile (described in the long run section below).
  • July 11 - 4 mile tempo at 5:53 average via 5:57, 5:55, 5:50, 5:47 (2 warm-up and 2.6 cool down).  I wrote a bit more about this workout, which was my first ever sub-6:00 4 mile tempo, here.  This was done on a fairly flat course (most of my runs are done on rolling roads, but I need flatness to hit these tempo times!).
  • July 18 - 4 mile fartlek of 2 minutes on/2 minutes off (2 warm-up and 2.5 cool-down).  I ran this on a rolling road course (192 ft elevation gain in the 4 mile fartlek section), because it's good for me to run some hard efforts on hills, but like I mentioned above, I need flatter areas to hit my tempo paces so I do not run them on hills.  Even though fartleks are effort-based, I always look at my paces after the workouts for the ons!  My pushes ranged from 5:49-6:09 pace, and all but two were sub-6:00 -- and I'm of course blaming the elevation for that.
  • July 25 - 6 mile tempo at 5:55 average via 5:59, 6:00, 5:55, 5:55, 5:54, 5:47 (2 warm-up and 2 cool down).  Like my 4 mile tempo two weeks before, this was done on a fast course, and I wrote some more about it here.  My last 6 mile tempo run was done in 36:03, so breaking 36 was my clear goal and I executed that with Jessi's help!
  • July 28 - fast finish 15 mile long run (described in the long run section below)
  • Doubles on July 4, 6, 11, 13, 18, 19, 25, and 26 (scheduled every Tuesday and Thursday; moved a couple to Wednesday due to non-running life).
  • Strides on July 6, 13, 20, and pre-race on July 22.
  • Bootcamp/full body strength on:  July 3, 10, 17, 24, and 31 (i.e., every Monday) -- also 5-15 minutes of strength training many days right after running or at a random point during the day.  My goal was a minimum of 90 minutes total strength training each week, and I hit that every week, generally landing around 100 minutes total, but how I got there wasn't very structured/scheduled, which I did not love.  This new routine has allowed me to have a truly very easy day on Fridays (by not doing a full class on Fridays and only running 3 miles), and I think that's helping me recover better and feel stronger overall.
Long Runs:
  • July 1 - 13.1 miles base pace (7:11).  Hello humidity!  This was a great run with Missy, Jackie, and Jessi.  Since it wasn't that long of a run I didn't even think about needing a drink, but about 8 miles in I started feeling like one of those cartoon characters hallucinating about water in the desert, and Missy saved me with some ice cold goodness from her vehicle around mile 9.  It's been a long time since water tasted that good, and I could not stop drinking once I started!
  • July 8 - 13.1 miles hodge podge (7:20 for all/6:09 final mile).  This was scheduled as a base pace long run for me (meaning 7:10-8:00 pace, but ideally towards the faster end), and Amy R. had a workout that I agreed to run with her:  6 miles at 7:50ish pace, then a 6 mile progression run ending at 7:00.  I figured I'd tack on another slight progression mile (6:50sih) at the end to get to my 13 total and to keep my average pace under 7:30.  I wore a fuel belt to carry water for Amy; I don't mind wearing one on base runs but won't wear it on my workouts.  Jessi, Jeff, and Claudio also ran the workout or something similar, and due to all kinds of various events (e.g., me distributing water bottles, someone taking a bathroom stop, someone speeding up, someone slowing down, etc.), I ended up with 5 miles between 7:41-7:58, then a nice progression down via 7:34, 7:29, 7:23, 7:15, 7:04, 6:54, 6:43 (this was Amy's last mile), 6:09.  During Amy's last mile I decided I'd go ahead and try to hit my final mile at my goal marathon pace, and to do that I took off my fuel belt and tossed it into the ditch, planning to pick it up on my drive home.  The final mile of the course we were on includes a half mile incline that we typically avoid when we have planned fast finish runs (the reason Amy finished before that portion of road).  I'd fast finished a long run up that incline once before, and our group made it into a Strava segment, so I knew the fastest fast finish mile I'd ever done on that stretch was 6:22.  I figured 6:17 might be a stretch, but I went for it and came away with a 6:09!  Once I finished, I realized that my car key was in the fuel belt I'd thrown into the ditch -- oops!  Jessi ended up driving me back to get it, and initially I couldn't find the belt in the high grass, causing some panic, but it was finally located.  Lesson learned:  keep my car key in my shorts pocket even if I wear the belt, in case an impulsive fast finish occurs!
  • July 15 - 14.2 miles base pace (7:24).  Hello humidity:  The sequel!  I ran some of this with Missy, Jackie, Amy R., and Amy P., and Amy P. said it best with, "Why does 7:30 pace feel like 7:00 pace today??!"  I drank 72 oz. of fluids upon finishing and was thankful it wasn't a workout day!
  • July 23 - 12.6 miles base pace (7:10).  Surprise -- hot and humid again, even at 5:15 a.m.!  I ran some of this with Amy R. to help pace her workout.  I was glad I did not have a workout!
  • July 28 - 15 miles with 3 progressive fast finish (6:59 for all 15; final 3 in 6:41, 6:26, 6:05).  Guess was 74* with 99% humidity for this run.  I ran this one day early, on Friday before a 3-day weekend out of town, but luckily I still had the company of Jessi, Zach, and Ben.  I set out water bottles for everyone on top of a brick sign at the church we regularly run from, and also on top of my mailbox.  We ran an 8 mile loop first, then dropped Ben off, and I drank 8 oz of nuun while running a little out and back.  We then ran a 7 mile course that passed by my house, and I did the same there.  It was good for me to practice drinking while running (grabbing the bottles on the go with no watch stopping), and I could tell I'm not used to it because my stomach felt super full, so I'm going to start incorporating it more often.  I felt strong the whole run, and my goal for the cut-down was to progressively drop from base pace down to 6:17 (MGP) for the last mile.  I figured I would aim for 6:45, 6:30, 6:15, so I was right under where I wanted to be.  The 6:05 was a fast finish long run PR, and I can only hope I can finish my marathon with a mile like that!  I'm targeting hitting a sub-6:00 long run fast finish mile before this training cycle is over.  I guess after the descriptions of the previous two long runs, I should add:  I'm glad this had a little workout.  Hah.  I'm also not sure it was really necessary for me to point out that it was hot and humid for every long was July in Missouri after all!  But it was actually cool (in the 60s) and not sticky for my runs on July 29-31, so it can happen!
  • I had NO days off running this month -- the first time for that!  This means that I'm on a running streak that started on June 20, although I have no plans to maintain it (i.e., I will take days completely off running whenever my coach tells me to).  I am still on my workout streak that started 1/1/14, but that just means I do at least 10 minutes of cross-training on a day off.
  • My official CIM (goal marathon) 20 week training block started on July 17.  A lot of marathon training blocks are 16 weeks, but my coach likes to do 20 if possible.
  • Our running group made a new rule this month:  Whichever Garmin shows the fastest pace for the day is the correct one.  We know we are crazy when we analyze pace discrepancies of 2-3 seconds when we all start and finish together.
  • I spoke for a high school cross-country camp, along with two of the awesome ladies I train with.  Hopefully the young runners found us informative and somewhat interesting!  I envisioned conversations starting with, "Those three old women who talked to us..."
  • I volunteered at the OMRR #sweatfest races this month, and got to see some state records get broken there!
  • July included several road trips!  We went to Cherryvale and Yates Center, Kansas for a few days for the 4th, to Eureka Springs, Arkansas for a power-packed 2 day/1 night weekend, and to Benton, Kansas for a 3-day weekend with my parents.  Some highlight photos are below! While all of the traveling and activities were amazing, they didn't necessarily do my training any favors.  It's hard to work full-time, mom full-time, train, and have non-stop weekends.  I'll sleep more when school resumes (I hope)!
  • Garden goodness also continued this month, with fresh beets, bell peppers, jalapeƱo peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, blackberries, raspberries, zucchini, yellow squash, and multiple varieties of tomatoes.  Don't worry, I still had room for multiple jars of peanut butter.  I am also currently very into protein shakes/smoothies, especially to replenish after warm runs.  I got away from my June sugar phase and back on the healthy eating train this month.  
My parents & daughter on the 4th
My niece is almost taller than me!
Beautiful 4th of July sky
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge near Eureka Springs
"Mama, it's only $150!"  We did not purchase it, hah.
Just like a big house cat
Quigley's Castle
Downtown Eureka Springs
Cosmic Cavern
Gemstone hunting
We went to the county fair this month on our one weekend home
Some of my best smoothie work ever, with beets
Great Plains Wildlife area in Wichita
Sedgwick County Zoo
Candy factory in Dexter, Kansas
Blackberry patch near Wichita, Kansas   
Boating at El Dorado Lake
My favorite lake day photo!
Eggplant & tomatoes
Bandit showing off some beets

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Trust the process & the results will come

I had a fantastic tempo run this morning that I can't wait until my July update to share!

For anyone still reading (hi, Dad!):  I was scheduled to do a 6 mile tempo at 5:57-6:10 pace, with 2 miles warm-up and 2 miles cool-down.  The last time I ran this workout, I ran the 6 mile tempo in 36:03.8 (precisely!), so the clear goal for this one was to finish with a time starting in 35, meaning a sub-6:00 average for the thing.  When I start thinking about these times and paces, they seem super intimidating and unreachable, so I tried to not think too much about it!  I reminded myself that I'd done 4 miles at 5:53 average two weeks before, so 6 miles at 5:59 was reasonable.  My plan was to split something close to 6:10, 6:05, 6:00, 5:57, 5:55, 5:50.

Lucky for me, Jessi joined me on this one.  We ran our favorite course, because how else can one hit these tempo paces?  The course is flat for our area, has little or no traffic at 5:30 a.m., and is a loop that's nearly 1 mile long, so each split is comparable and it's a great route to get into a rhythm and cruise on.  It was 68*, and since we've been running in temperatures in the upper 70s even at sunrise, it felt cool (I think it was in the low 80s with nearly 100% humidity for my recent 5K).

We committed to running 6:10ish pace for the first mile, then proceeded to run it in 5:59.9 (Jessi's watch said 6:01 though, so eh).  Running with someone definitely pulls me out faster than I'd go out on my own.  The pace felt brisk but sustainable, and we decided we would try to sit at 6:00 for the first 3 miles and then re-evaluate (because, heaven forbid we run a 6:05 second mile after starting at 6:00!).  That worked for mile 2, although clearly we should have run that one 0.2 faster.  On mile 3 we were hanging out right around 5:58 pace for most of it, but I think it must have finished on the decline part of the loop to give us the 5:55.  At that point, I wasn't sure if I would be able to negative split every remaining mile of the workout, but I figured if we just stayed between 5:55-6:00 I would hit my time goal, and I thought I could do that.  Mile 4 was another 5:55, and at that point I felt pretty confident about finishing it up at a similar pace.

After mile 4 I started envisioning that I'd just passed mile 11 of my goal half marathon and needed to keep it under 6:00 to hit my time goal.  We knocked off mile 5 at 5:54, and Jessi stopped her workout at 5 miles and told me to go get that final mile.  Having her with me had helped so much -- she definitely pulled me along a lot during the first 3 miles -- so I hoped I could gut out a strong last mile alone.  When I checked my pace partially through I was at 5:52, but it was pretty hard so I really focused on maintaining turnover so I could have my last mile be my fastest.  After Jessi stopped, she ran in the opposite direction around the course to meet back up with me, and she then ran me in for the final quarter mile or so, telling me to pretend like it was the end of my goal marathon, and with her help I finished with a strong final split.  The final mile of this one was more of a push than the final mile of my last 4 mile tempo, though (it was ironically the exact same split, 5:47). Like most of my tempos, this was probably more like 5 miles of tempo + 1 mile of speed work.  My coach once told me that he couldn't even complain about it when I ran negative splits like this (he would tell me NO on that kind of pace for mile 1, for sure).

Because Jon said, "The loop's not flat, you're just used to it."
-- this IS flat for the Ozarks though
Since I'd have been elated with a 35:5X, I was super stoked about my 35:32, although I'm also scared I will never be able to beat this time (especially running alone!)!  This resulted in an all-day runner's high; my husband also told me that he bought a trailer for our 4-wheeler, prefaced with "Since you're in such a good mood..."  Hah.

I'm always amazed at how my coach builds up the length of my tempo runs and I'm able to rise to the occasion.  I guess the clear goal for my 8 mile tempo is sub-6:00; let's hope for another morning with temperatures in the 60s for that one!  Also, I am figuring out how I can steal Jessi from her college team because I need her on these!

On July 12, 2016, I did my 6 mile tempo at 6:24 pace on this same course.  I am so blessed to have a coach and support system that have allowed me to gain 29 seconds from a pace I once thought was near my maximum.  Success in distance running is so much about patience, and while patience is not my strong suit I am good at putting in consistent work over time.  The process pays off; there will always be hills and valleys, but if you fall in love with the process the results will come.

I heard this song later that day, and it really rings true (God delights in the details of our lives -- even running performances!):
"We can rise above the typical
And be anything but usual
We know, we know, we know
That there's no such thing as impossible
And nothing is unreachable
When we trust the God of miracles
We know, we know, we know
That there's no such thing as impossible"

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Facing my Fear: Access to Health 5K

The short:
I came very close to skipping this race; I had a terrible run at the event last year and kept stressing about repeating that.  I'm glad I sucked it up and got out there; I managed sub-6:00 pace (5:57) on a hilly course in a heat advisory, plus I won some cash for second overall female.  I'm doubtful that I will ever love the 5K race distance, but I enjoyed this event; maybe some day I will even stop beginning every 5K race report with, "I came very close to skipping this race", bahaha!

Beautiful scenery, eh?
The long: 
I put this race on my schedule because it's a local event that offers prize money, and I had no other July races planned.  My coach included it within a 64 mile week -- and since my "long" run during this 64 mile week was only 12 miles, it was the biggest week I've ever done as far as day after day mileage.  Training through the event was fine (in the name of bigger goals), but last year I'd also trained through it and had an awful race.  Those details are on Saturday here, but I'll just note that it included a 6:31 final mile, which is slower than my PR marathon pace!  Because of that experience, I got scared of this race and decided I wasn't going to run it after all (a local 5K is not worth the worrying I was doing about it!)...then the day before the race I decided I needed to (wo)man up and do it, mainly to help myself in a 5K I'm targeting in August (I use the term "targeting" quite loosely, because I am actually doing absolutely zero focused 5K training).

From running the race twice before, I knew the course was hilly and a bit long, plus we were in a heat advisory on race day, so I was also concerned that my streak of 5Ks in the 18's was in jeopardy.  I knew to keep my time at 18:59 on this course, I'd need to run about 6:00 pace.  I recently ran a 4 mile tempo at 5:53 pace, so I thought I should have it in me, but my tempo course is much easier than this race's course and I ran it at 5:30 a.m., which is much cooler than 7:30 a.m.!  My warm-up did nothing to make me feel better about the whole pursuit; doing short strides at 5:50 pace was far harder than it should have been!

My fast friend Jamie was racing as well, and I'd asked her if I could try to hang onto her.  She agreed, and then on the starting line she said, "I think I'm going to go out at 5:40 pace for the first mile; what do you think?"  I laughed and told her I would not be starting with her after all, as I planned for a first mile of around 6:00.  There were cash prizes for the top two men and women overall, so I hoped to slide in behind Jamie for 2nd.

I was dripping sweat on the starting line even though I shortened my typical 5K warm-up to 2 miles (instead of the whole race course) in the name of staying a bit cooler.  The race starts up a hill, so I didn't feel fantastic from the gate, but I didn't feel awful.  Jamie was out ahead of me from the gun, but I was in a solid second female for the entire race, with some high school and college-aged boys in my vicinity, but mostly I ran alone.  After the first uphill, the course rolls until a decline from around 1.5-1.9+, and I told myself to soak it up, because then it loops around 1 block west and goes back up the corresponding incline for 0.4+.  Last year that incline nearly killed me, and this year it was not easy by any means, but it was easy in comparison.  Then the course rolls again before finishing down the hill we had to climb at the beginning of the race, making for a fast final quarter mile.  I never felt amazing during the race, but I never felt horrible either.  That was a relief after last year's debacle!
Coming down the final overpass hill that we started up
I ended up finishing in 18:48 officially, so even with the course being 20-30 seconds long I kept my 18:XX 5K streak going!  My conservative Garmin had my average pace at 5:57, and for that course and the weather I was pleased with that average.  Afterwards, pessimistic Jon told me that he felt confident that I could run 10 seconds/mile faster on a flat course with a little rest before, and I hope he is correct (I think I also need 50* though).  I am 100% satisfied with this one, though.  I ran very consistent splits (5:56-5:59) and conquered the fear that I had all week leading up to it!  My average pace was 1 second/mile faster than in the Sertoma Duck Waddle last month, but that course was far easier and that day far cooler, so I feel this performance was stronger, regardless of what my official times say - official results are here.  Jamie really rocked it, averaging 5:40 pace or a touch under!

Impeded clock shot
I also looked back to see how long my 5Ks in the 18s streak is, and this race last year was my last one in the 19s (and would have been in the 19s even if the course wasn't long since I ran 19:36)!  That surprised me because I struggled to break 19 forever.  Also file this one under the prize money exception in my Certified in '17 pledge!  All but one of my remaining planned races for the year are certified (and the uncertified one is a 3.35ish mile "5K" with prize money; I'm not counting it against the 5Ks in the 18s streak and last year I ran it in the 20s!).

Onto the next!
Swag/awards (the card is a free pasta meal!)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Follow the rules: Don't take outside aid during a race

I read a lot of running blogs, and my favorites to read are those written by women who run around my same paces, women who have run or are training for OTQ marathons, and women who balance working and/or Mom-ing with running.  I love reading training week re-caps to see what others are doing, and race re-caps to learn about how others pace, strategize, etc.  I'm not a big fan of running blogs with a bunch of involved recipes (because I'm a lazy cook), and I also don't enjoy running blogs by men nearly as much as those by women.  I could go on, but that isn't the purpose of this post!

I love reading race reports, and recently I've noticed that several runners don't know that per USATF rules, competitors aren't allowed to accept nutrition that doesn't come from official aid stations during races.  The pertinent competition rule is:  "A competitor who collects refreshment from a place other than a refreshment station is liable to disqualification by the Referee."  See item (g) on page 132 in this document (which is actually page 140 of the PDF viewer pages).

It certainly doesn't hurt to be familiar with all of the USATF rules on road racing, and they make up a very small portion of the cited rule document, plus many rules are more related to race organizers' duties, making the whole thing much quicker reading than you'd think at first glance!

I've read a number of race reports in which runners have described taking nutrition from their families on the course, from friends who "jumped in" to run a few miles with them, from their significant others on bikes (having someone run or bike with you during a race is an additional issue for several reasons), etc. -- and I genuinely think that most people just don't know that this isn't okay.  I did not always know either.  If you are competing for overall or age group awards in any USATF certified and sanctioned event, you should be vigilant about taking only the nutrition offered on the course and what you carry yourself.  Of course, everyone participating should follow all of the race rules, but those competing for top placings have more to lose. 

Wouldn't it suck to win prize money in a race only to be disqualified because you took a gel from a spectating friend?  Wouldn't your win feel like cheating if you had extra fluids provided by a family member on a hot day, and went on to win by a tiny margin over someone who didn't get those extra fluids?  Don't we all dislike dopers and course cutters?  Just don't break the rules! 

And honestly, I wouldn't be too happy if someone beat me after being paced by her husband on a bike with him carrying fluids for some or all of the race when I didn't have a bike escort.  Luckily I've never been in this situation, as it would be tricky to navigate.  But, I do have plenty of tips for preparing to use the available course nutrition and for carrying your own during marathons -- I do a combination of the two.

Follow up questions:
Do you personally disregard this rule?
Have you seen people break this rule?
Would you report someone violating this rule?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

I got you that time, sub-6:00 tempo -- and the 2:45:00 standard is official!

July 11 gave me news to celebrate -- USATF announced the official 2020 Olympic Trials Marathon Qualifying Standards!  It's been presumed that the women's B standard would be 2:45:00, but it wasn't official until it was official -- and today it became official!  This is great news for me, because there was always the possibility that the standard could be faster, like 2:42.  A 2:45:00 will be a strrrrrrreeeeetch, because everything went awfully well for me to run a 2:49:20, but I am ready to give it a go.  If the standard was 2:42:00, I would more likely be ready to give up.  So not feeling the need to give up something I've been dreaming about is fantastic news!

Whoop whoop!

I've recently had a little beef with 6:00 pace on my tempo runs.  In May 2017, my 4 mile tempo ended up being 6:01 pace and my 6 mile tempo was 6:00 pace.  Back in December 2016, I did a 4 mile tempo at 6:01 pace as well.  Last week, I did a progression 10 mile run in which I ran the last mile in 6:01.  I kept saying, "I'll get you next time, 5:59!" 

Last night as I was mentally preparing for today's tempo, I starting wondering if I was ever going to stop saying, "I'll get you next time" to 5:59.  I haven't been unhappy with 6:00-6:01 tempo averages, because they were PR tempos and towards the lower end of my goal pace range from my coach, which is currently 5:57-6:10 (and on the progression run, my last mile was scheduled at 6:10, so I was under my goal).  But who wants to run 6:00-6:01 when one can run 5:59!?

Well, today I didn't get my 5:59 average; I got a 5:53 average (splits below)!  This was at 72* with 88% humidity (dew point 70*), so I am also officially heat/humidity adapted.  I felt smooth and strong throughout, and it just clicked.  I had company for the first time in over a year on a tempo; Jessi, Missouri State's top distance runner, who I am doing some training with over the summer, did this workout with me, and having her along was extremely helpful and probably the complete reason for the success.  When we came through mile 1 in 5:57, that pretty much sealed the deal on aiming to be sub-6:00 for every split (my initial aim was to start at more like 6:05 for the first mile), and I ended up with a beautiful negative split, which is the only way to run tempos after all.  I finished feeling like I'd run hard, but with some left in the tank -- again, a perfect tempo.

It took me a few tries to get that sub-6:00 average, but I didn't give up.  I am going to try for that 2:45 with the same abandon.  I hope I can get to that 2020 starting line, God-willing, and that my friends with this goal can too!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

All the compression socks

I am obsessed with a huge fan of compression socks.  I like to run in them and recover in them; the latter has much more research-base supporting its effectiveness, but I think they help me during my runs too -- even if that's a placebo effect, believing I'll perform better can't be a bad thing, right?  I also think they're helpful when traveling and in other situations where I'm sitting for longer than normal (e.g., attending a conference or meetings during which my standing desk is not an option!).  Here are my thoughts on the five different brands I own, in alphabetical order.  I do not receive free products from any of them (although I wish I did!), so this is unbiased.

Size:  womens II
Pros:  thick in the toe and heel areas, perfect tight fit
Cons:  pricey, lack of cute patterns, slightly too long for me
When I choose these:  marathons in which maximal blister protection is needed (warmer temps, net downhill)
When I wouldn't choose these:  when I'm being frugal (the main reason I don't own more pairs than I do currently) or when I want fun patterns
Related story:  I wore these for my first sub-3:00 marathon and for my first (and only, so far) sub-2:50 marathon

Crazy Compression
Size: XS
Pros:  great fit, super cute designs including holiday/seasonal patterns, frequent discount codes offered, thinner fabric is nice in warmer weather
Cons:  thinner than the other brands; I have never gotten a hole in them, but I also haven't had mine that long
When I choose these:  in warmer weather and when I feel like looking playful
When I wouldn't choose these:  since I haven't run over 17-18 miles in them yet, I wouldn't wear them for a marathon at this point, but I will be testing them on more long runs
Related story:  I wore these for the Rock the Parkway half, and had many, many people compliment me on them during the race!

Size:  womens S
Pros:  thicker overall, feel well-made and durable, a few cute patterns, free shipping and/or discount codes frequently offered
Cons:  thicker fabric is not ideal in warmer temps, only a few colors and patterns are currently available, no XS option, slightly too long for me in the foot and calf, not quite as tight-fitting as I prefer (i.e., I won't buy any more until they start selling XS)
When I choose these:  in cooler temps
When I wouldn't choose these:  in warmer temps
Related story:  My training partner Danielle, who is a 3-time USAT Duathlon National Champion, is a brand ambassador for Newzill and also the reason I ended up with a few pairs of these.  I've had these less than 2 months, and it's been warm, so I haven't worn them that much yet.

Pro Compression
Size:  XS
Pros: perfect fit for me in tightness and height, many cute designs including holiday/seasonal patterns
Cons:  not as thick as CEP and Newzill in the toes
Disclaimer:  I own by far the most Pros, because I buy them on eBay for under $10 a pop.  They are marked as irregular in pattern only (not in fit), but I've never been able to find anything actually wrong with them, and if you know how picky I am that's saying something.
When I choose these:  most of the time, because I own so many pairs
When I wouldn't choose these:  for a marathon when maximal blister protection is desired; I have worn these for marathons with temps in the 40s-50s and in half marathons at all temperatures with complete success, but wouldn't run a 70 degree marathon in them
Related story:  I wore these the second time I broke 3:00 in the marathon, and for my PR half and second fastest half marathon.  I guess I meant business in those races, because I wore solid colors for them, but I've worn the heart, Christmas, and clover patterns for other races, many of which had no relation to actual holidays, haha!

Size:  XS
Pros:  perfect level of tightness, plain black available that works under work clothing better than patterns/colors
Cons:  different "models" are confusing, more expensive than most (but still cheaper than CEP), a bit thin like Crazy Compression
When I choose these:  for work
When I wouldn't choose these:  I don't run in my one pair of these, because I "save" them for work, but I think they'd work under most circumstances except for when extra blister protection is needed.
Related story:  Sorry, no fun facts about these!

For reference on the fits noted, my calf circumference is 12.5" at the widest point, I am 5'7", and I wear shoe size 9-10.  If your calves are smaller than mine, I would not recommend any of these brands, because I buy the smallest size available in all of them.  The upside is that the smallest size works even with my large feet!

From L to R: Newzill, CEP, Crazy Compression, Pro, 2XU

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Month of June

June 2017 in review!

Total mileage for the month: 205 (in comparison, my 2017 thus far has been:  January - 261, February - 212, March - 203, April - 219, May - 249). 

The first couple of full weeks of the month were cutback recovery weeks, I was on a Florida vacation from June 7-15, and then it was primarily about rebuilding base.  I only ran two short official workouts this month (plus two races). 
  • May 29-June 4:  51.9
  • June 5-11:  38.1
  • June 12-18: 44.3
  • June 19-25:  53.7
  • June 26-July 2:  58.2
  • June 3:  Dam to Dam Half Marathon in 1:26:19 (hot, humid, headwind, humbling...referred to as "that dam race" many times afterward and probably for infamy)
  • June 24:  Sertoma Duck Waddle 5K in 18:29 (in the best Missouri June weather we could have hoped for, really!)
  • June 17:  Progressive fast finish long run, with the final 3 miles in 6:48, 6:37, 6:25 (7:00 on the nose average for the whole pop).  I was hoping to run more like 6:25, 6:15, 6:05 for the progressive fast finish miles; a combination of post-vacation fatigue and running in Springfield (and therefore dodging traffic and navigating crappy sidewalks) meant that it wasn't to be.  I'm honestly pretty shocked I managed a 6:25 final mile with the footing on the sidewalks by Bass Pro; it's a good thing their real races are on the road!  I ran Bass Pro's Recycle Run 5.8 mile "10K" training run course twice (plus a bit) for this, because I was slated to help with my local running club's table before and after the run.  The volunteering part didn't come to fruition because it was storming before and raining throughout, so no one was hanging around and our table didn't even get set up.  It worked out fine though, aside from the running in town part, because all of the ladies I usually train with were rocking races on this day.
  • June 29:  2 mile tempo in 11:46 via 5:54, 5:51 (3 warm-up and 2.7 cool-down).  My goal pace was 6:00, and my training schedule said, "This is just the beginning" in the description of this run...I'm not sure if that was a promise or a threat, haha!  I looked at my watch about a half mile into the tempo, and I was averaging 6:08 pace so I thought "Uggggghh, I need to pick it up", and then I sped up a little too much and came through mile 1 in 5:54.  Then my fate was sealed on pushing the second mile under 5:54 since I'm obsessed with negative splitting!  I typically dislike short tempos because they are over once I start feeling alright, but this one was only a half mile of ugggggggh, a half mile of fine, and then a mile of good (usually I have at least 2 miles of uggggggh at the beginning of any tempo).  I'm not sure what the difference was; perhaps since it was 70* and I did a 3 mile warm-up that included some strides in mile 3 I was better warmed up (typically I have a 2 mile warm-up before tempos).  I guess this was probably the fastest 2 mile tempo I've done, although I've finished the final 2 miles of longer tempos at this pace so it doesn't feel like an accomplishment.  I think I could've hit a 4 mile tempo around this pace...but I fear that I will in time be scheduled to run 8-10 mile tempos at 6:00, which I could NOT currently do.
  • Doubles on June 20, 27, and 29.
  • Strides on June 1, 21, 24, and 27.
  • Strava segment-chasing in Florida (i.e., random pick-ups) on June 9, 11, 12, 13, and 14.
  • Bootcamp or strength on June 5, 11 (legs only), 12 (arm and core only), 16, 19, 21, and 25.  During the last week of the month, I made a change in my strength training schedule that I hope will benefit my overall training plan.  I am now going to one bootcamp full body strength workout a week, on Mondays.  I will then aim to do 5-10 minutes of strength training right after the majority of my runs throughout the week (so essentially splitting up the second strength workout across several short sessions).  This will allow me to have a truly very light day on Friday with a short run only, which I think will be important as my volume increases.  Ideally I would do two strength workouts on my two hard running days (which are most often Wednesdays and Saturdays), but I just can't make that work well with my non-running life.
Long Runs:
  • June 3:  With the Dam to Dam half (13.1) and its warm-up (2.8) and cool-down (1.1), I ended up with 17 miles total.  My cool-down mile felt like the longest mile ever, and it was my slowest mile in June (even slower than the first mile of my post-Disney park easy runs!)! 
  • June 9:  10.2 miles (7:02), which I wouldn't classify as even in mid-week long run territory, but since I spent 14 hours at the Magic Kingdom afterward, I think this day as a whole counted as an ultra, haha!  I ran this "long run" a day early because I expected to be exhausted on June 10, and I was.
  • June 17:  12.1 miles (7:00), with 3 progressive fast finish miles as mentioned above. 
  • June 25:  11 miles (7:12); another short long run, with a nice group.  Our little group continues to grow and really isn't so little any more!  We've now tapped into the local collegiate teams and have a cross-country/track runner and a coach (from two different teams) joining us sometimes.
  • I picked a half marathon goal race for the fall:  the Indy Women's Half on September 30!  I was accepted as an elite into the event and am officially registered.   I am also registered for the Bass Pro Half on November 5, and although it's a great local race and will be a really good checkpoint for my fitness four weeks out from my goal marathon, it's not the fastest course because it has a million turns and a very thin field under 1:30.  I am running the Waddell & Reed Half on October 21, but that one will be done as a workout.
  • I also chose a goal 10K for the fall:  the Plaza 10K.  I am really excited to try a fast road 10K!
  • I discovered what my husband thinks is my weirdest delicious food combination yet:  a peanut butter beet sandwich.  If you like peanut butter banana sandwiches, you have to give it a try!  I got home around 8:45 p.m. one evening after a board meeting and hadn't had dinner yet, so was frantically eating cold cooked beets while making a plain peanut butter sandwich, and was inspired to try a bite of peanut butter sandwich with a beet slice on it.  The rest is history!  This shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, because I also love peanut butter as a topping on baked sweet potatoes, melted on steamed broccoli, in smoothies, and as a dipping sauce for baked chicken (in addition to on normal things).  Beets are super healthy for endurance athletes, and I've had the luxury of eating a ton of them - mostly roasted or boiled - from our garden recently.
  • Beeturia is a real thing!
  • For a bit after Dam to Dam, I didn't really want to train; I wanted to give up.  This mindset typically means I am on the brink of over-training and need to back off, and my disappointment about my performance didn't help.  The recovery weeks were on my schedule before I felt that way, and I welcomed them instead of resisting them like usual.  I also loosened the reigns on my eating habits (e.g., gorged on sweets) during the training break; my desire to do this was also related to feeling run-down I think!
  • We were on vacation from June 7-15, and I asked for no doubles during this time frame, but I wouldn't have had them anyway considering how low my mileage was.  You can read about my vacation runs here, here, here, and here.
  • Having a recovery phase during a vacation was both a good and bad thing; good because my runs were shorter before spending long days at Disney parks, but bad because my legs didn't get the same recovery benefits as they would have had I not been walking 7-8 miles a day in crowds in the heat! 
  • I felt like my new training block really started the week of June 19.  My running between Dam to Dam and that week was kind of just to stay in the routine and for enjoyment, and then starting with my June 20 run (since Monday, June 19 was a non-running day) I felt like I was back on a mission with summer base building, although I still felt "off" for some of the week.
  • The week of June 26 was my first week running 7 days a week.  My coach thinks I can handle it and that it will be helpful, and he has never led me astray so it's happening.  I've read several articles like this one that recommend "no days off" and 90ish miles a week to break 3 hours in the marathon, and that ship has sailed, but that may be what I need to have any remote chance at 2:45:00 (I won't hit 90 mpw this year, though).  I've been running 6 days a week with Mondays off, and now I'm running 3 miles on Mondays so it's a very light start.  This final week was also when I started feeling back in a groove with running!
  • After hearing "One Way or Another" by Blondie during my solo run on June 20, I adopted it as my official theme song for this training block.  "You" in the "I'm gonna get you" referring to 2:45!  Expect a blog with adapted lyrics soon.
  • And looking ahead to December, this became my favorite article.
  • Finally, I learned a way to net some race photos that I actually like; run 6 minutes slower than my goal time, wear sunglasses (this tip I already knew), and make sure that the pics are not free downloads!  Photo credit to Jolesch Enterprises.