Sunday, September 24, 2017

CIM Training Journal #3: Why do these goal paces keep making me laugh?

This continues CIM Training Journals #1 and #2.

August 28, 2017
My running confidence is a pretty fickle thing.  Some days I think I am going to be ready to try 26.2 at 6:17 pace in December, and other days I don't think I can even run a 5K at 6:17 pace!  It is heavily influenced by my surroundings and recent events, which of course I know as a behavior analyst (environment determines behavior, and confidence is really just verbal behavior).  I am not exactly sure how I can be less dramatic about it though.  Right now it's good workout = "I am ready to take on the world" and bad workout = "I'm never going to run anything good again".

My coach advises me to focus on the week I'm in and on getting in the day-to-day training.  It's all targeted at getting me to my goal, and success is the sum of small efforts repeated day after day.  I love the every day process, and sometimes I get lost in enjoying it (and stop thinking about the end goals), which is the best!

I think some of my worry stems from setting a very big and very public goal.  Before the BMO Mesa-Phoenix Marathon, I was quite open that I was chasing a PR, but that wasn't a super challenging goal given how my fall 2016 marathons both has snafus that prevented me from performing my best, that I'd raced two break-through half marathons, and that the Phoenix course was faster than those I ran in 2016. I didn't share my big scary secret goal of 2:49 until after the race. Perhaps I should have taken that approach with CIM -- but I was just so excited I couldn't hide it and now I've told the world!  Live and learn, right?!

August 30, 2017
15 base pace miles before work this morning!  Beforehand I figured if I ran it in about 1:45, I could even be on time to work (it was a day I had a little flexibility and could roll in at 8:30 instead of 8:00 if I needed to) -- and I finished it off in 1:44:15, or 6:57 average pace.  Now I *just* need to run 1 hours longer 40 seconds/mile faster, bahaha!  I am feeling good about my long runs right now though...my speed, not so much!

August 31, 2017
I don't know why God has blessed me with running, but I am so thankful for it every day.  I recently saw the quote, "Happiness is based on happenings, but joy is based on Jesus."  I am guilty of letting disappointing performances put a damper on my mood, but at the end of the day I've got the joy of Jesus in my heart no matter what!  May I run and do everything else like a soul on fire!

September 7, 2017
I'd call this an un-confident week.  I'm tired from the weekend, swamped at work, and keep thinking that if 6:10 pace was all I had in the Run for a Child 10K, then working towards 6:17 pace for 20 miles farther in 12 weeks is impossible.  My coach told me that no one runs well when the dew point is in the 70s, and that my training wasn't targeted at a fast time in that race (it was supposed to be more of a tempo than a race, but the high end of my tempo range is 6:10 so it was barely that!).  I think I am really caught up in thinking that I have to hit a certain time for a 10K in order to hit a certain time for a half in order to hit a 2:45:00 for a full.  But obviously there are additional factors at play, including tapering or lack of tapering, peaking, weather, competition, course, etc. (I later mentioned the amazing effects of these things here).  I am just feeling discouraged and worn out this week!

September 11, 2017
Running the Plaza 10K was a really good call.  I didn't feel like I could mentally handle another race that felt like the Run for a Child 10K, and with the temperatures forecasted for Plaza I almost wondered if it would do me more harm than good to run it.  But I am so glad I gave it a go!  I was able to average 5:59 pace with temperatures in the 70s/85% humidity on a somewhat rolling course (170 ft of gain).  I like to think I could do 5:55 pace with ideal conditions, and this race made me more confident that I really could, or a tad faster if I tapered.  I also feel better about my half marathon goal on September 30; I will need ideal weather conditions to hit it, but with a taper I think it's reasonable to give it a go!  Now let's see if my 2 x 4 mile tempo workout tomorrow confirms that... (Follow-up:  the 2 x 4 mile tempo workout went well considering I was feeling the Plaza race/long run combo on my legs.  I averaged 6:02 for the first 4 mile tempo and 6:06 for the second, and all of my miles were within my goal range of 6:00-6:10, although I had to really fight for it in the final 2 mile, and clearly would have preferred a negative split!).

September 14, 2017
This morning after mentioning to one of my training partners that CIM is 11 weeks away, I started thinking about "life after marathon" and Plan B.  Right now, Plan A is to try for the OTQ B standard at CIM, but if I get to CIM and it's 75*, I won't try -- which would be disappointing, but I'm not that big of an idiot.  If I have nice weather and try, I could very well fail.  I didn't break 3:00 the first time I tried either, and if I were into setting easily achievable goals this would not have been one I selected.

No doubt that I will try again if I don't achieve my goal, but should I try another one off of the same training cycle?  I've had success running two marathons off of one training cycle before (Bass Pro + Dallas in 2015, Prairie Fire + Bass Pro in 2016, and even back with I was training myself pretty cluelessly with Heart of America + Bass Pro 2010).  With my Mesa-Phoenix training cycle I only ran one, but I was able to hold near my peak long enough to also run PRs in the half and 10K (plus a solid 12K and a second solid half), so I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility to give it a try.  I just hadn't thought about it until now because I've been so focused on CIM being IT, and on choosing no future races until after it.  I'm not sure if it's a good or bad approach to have a Plan B already, but since I'm a planner...

I looked up the Chevron Houston Marathon, because I knew it was in January, notoriously fast, and a USATF sanctioned event where several people net OTQ times.  I qualify for their Athlete Development Program (ADP), so I could get some perks, including a free entry.  It's 6 weeks after CIM, so close enough that I could probably hold peak or close, but far enough that I would have enough time to fully recover.  I like knowing it's there as an option, so I'm heavily considering submitting my application for the ADP, but I should probably discuss it with my husband and coach first...

Either way, there will be life after marathon, which is almost unbelievable! 

September 17, 2017
I had a really good long run today that made me think that maybe, just maybe, 6:17 pace for 26.2 at peak on a fast course in ideal weather with a group to run with is something I can do.  I feel like I really need a big half PR before I try it, though.

September 18, 2017
Well, I made this today...  There's a lot of 6:15s on there (insert freak out face here)!

September 22, 2017
I told Jon I wanted to take it easy over the weekend, "because I have to try to run 13.1 miles at 6:06 pace next weekend", and we both laughed at how crazy it is to run that pace for a half, and the irony that it is not a completely unrealistic goal.  Seeing it on paper terrifies me!  I am glad I will have another go at it in November.  Right now I feel ready to go for a PR (under 1:21:26), but not a 1:19 -- which is the same way I feel about my marathon (ready for a PR but not a 2:45).  I also made this, although I don't think I'm going to use it this time.

I've been thinking about how God puts dreams in our hearts for a reason, and this concept is going to be a complete blog in itself, but I hope I am using things that happen along the way to serve Him and to serve others.  Building each other up is what it's all about, and I've been so blessed to have so many amazing people come into my life through running.  I hope I help them as much as they help me.  I try to be encouraging of others, in running and in non-running life.  Sometimes running feels like a selfish pursuit (especially in regards to pursuing big goals like these), but I pray I am using it as I am supposed to!

September 23, 2017
I'm wrapping up this training journal following my first 20 miler of this training cycle!  It felt great at a 6:49 average pace, and in general my long runs have made me feel good about my goal because I'm averaging over 20 sec/mile faster than I was running them at before BMO Mesa-Phoenix.  With my marathon goal pace being 10 sec/mile faster than I ran at Phoenix, it appears the math is in my favor.  After my run today, I thought, "Now I *just* have to run 10K farther at 32 sec/mile faster"...and I then laughed out loud.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Day in the Life

I love reading other people's day in the life posts...for some reason it's so fascinating to see what a normal day is like for someone else.  So I decided to write one myself!

Date:  Tuesday, September 12, 2017

4:55 a.m. - Alarm and out of bed

4:55-5:20 a.m. - Drink a glass of water, use the bathroom, brush and floss, change into running clothes, put on my Garmin and shoes, put away a few pieces of laundry that were hanging to dry, grab my headlamp and a water bottle containing a nuun tab, and leave my house to drive to a group run.

5:25 a.m. - Arrive at our run meeting spot (it is 3 miles from my house, and ironically we often run routes that pass within 0.3 of my house) and do leg swings, glute activation, and plyos while Missy arrives and gets her dogs leashed up.

5:30 a.m.-6:35 a.m. - Run 9 miles relaxed.  I was 2 days off the Plaza 10K, which was also a 16 mile day, on September 10.  I ran with my good friend Missy and her two awesome pups.  Her dog Macy has run 20 miles at 6:50 pace!  This run was more like 7:15 pace.

6:35-6:55 a.m. - Stretch a bit while talking to Missy in the parking lot and syncing my Garmin to my phone, drive home while drinking nuun, do a quick full-body foam roll, and greet my family as they awaken.

6:55-7:00 a.m. - Start the coffee maker and make a smoothie (almond milk, frozen fruit, protein powder).

7:00-7:30 a.m. - Shower and get ready for work while drinking the smoothie and talking to my husband and daughter.  Albani brings her school clothes into my bathroom and we get ready together every morning, including me fixing her hair.  We are both pretty no non-sense with our morning routines.
This was on a higher maintenance hair day (school picture day)
7:30-7:35 a.m. - Gather my purse, running bag, and packed lunch, then leave for work.  Albani always waves to me from the front window as I back out of the garage, and sometimes Jon and/or our cat Bandit join her.  Jon works from home so generally he gets Albani on and off the bus at 8:15 a.m. and 4:15 p.m.  On the way to work I drink a cup of coffee with almond milk and cinnamon, and eat two hard boiled eggs.
It's always hard to leave this!
7:55 a.m. - Arrive at work.  I am the director of an ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) department at a large developmental disabilities service agency.  I'm a BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) and a licensed behavior analyst in the state of Missouri.  ABA uses the scientific principles of behavior to produce observable, measurable, socially significant behavior change.  This may include interventions to improve communication while reducing self-injury, or changing someone's environment to stop physical aggression.

Every day at work is different for me, but is typically some combination of assessing patients, modeling treatments for caregivers, meetings with treatment team members and with the professionals I supervise, graphing and analyzing data, documentation, and administrative tasks.  I love what I do and the wide variety of people I work with, although at times it's stressful because it can be very demanding.  I'm salaried and I work on flex time, but my general work day is 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


11:00 a.m.ish - Eat a snack of frozen grapes and Greek yogurt with chia seeds, while working on data entry.

1:00 p.m. - Take a late lunch in order to run my second run, which is 4 miles.  I only take a lunch break on days I run a second run mid-day (on other days I just eat at my desk), but it's pretty easy for me to get in 3-5 miles with a quick stretch and foam roll afterward, before using baby wipes to help make myself re-presentable.  When it's hot out I try to avoid "runch" since I don't have access to a shower, but this semester I've been aiming to get all of my Tuesday second runs in at lunch no matter what (sorry, co-workers!).

1:50 p.m. - Eat my packed lunch, which is a chickpea curry that I made in the slow cooker for my lunches for the week, while doing documentation on my laptop.  I also have some pistachios.

3:10 p.m. - Leave my office and drive to the satellite location of Missouri State University where I am teaching this semester due to our usual building being under construction.  The perk of the location change is that parking is much easier and faster!


3:30-6:20 p.m. - Teach Observational Methods and Functional Assessment, a course in MSU's ABA Master's program.  I use the principles of ABA in everything I do in class.  I always tell my students that if they don't understand why I've included something in the course assignments or syllabus, they should ask and I'll explain it behavior analytically.  This means that I don't lecture, except to answer questions, because listening to someone talk for 3 hours is not the best way to learn anything.

6:20-6:40 p.m. - Grade quizzes from class before I leave MSU to knock out that task.

6:40-7:05 p.m. - Drive home while snacking on cantaloupe and string cheese.

7:05-7:45 p.m. - Arrive home, greet my family, put my lunch bag and dirty running gear away, put on a t-shirt and shorts, help Albani with her homework a bit, and read a devotion with Albani.  I'm also always picking up the house in little bits as I go.  I am pretty picky about things being where they belong!

7:45-8:30 p.m. - Microwave a quick dinner of a large baked sweet potato topped with cinnamon and cottage cheese, with sides of steam-in-the-bag asparagus and a peach (Jon and Albani have already eaten), and answer texts about Wednesday morning's run (13 miles total via 2 warm-up, 2 x 4 mile tempo at 6:00-6:10 with 1 easy between, 2 cool-down).  Also munch on some homemade trail mix (almonds, peanuts, raisins, crainsins).  Proof here that it is easy to prepare a very healthy meal in a matter of minutes!

8:30-9:00 p.m. - Tell Albani good night (she tucks herself in now), put away laundry, set out running and work clothes for the next day, wash my face.

9:00 p.m. - Make a bedtime smoothie (almond milk, protein powder, beets, frozen fruit), and drink it while looking through social media (Strava, Facebook, Instagram - usually in that order).

Bedtime smoothie
9:15 p.m. - Lay down in bed and read until I get sleepy, and then it's good night!  Jon usually goes to bed about the same time as me, and lays in bed watching television with wireless headphones on (headphones for the bedroom television are definitely a secret to a happy marriage!).

--------------------------------------------

This was a typical Tuesday for me.  Tuesdays are different than other weekdays because I teach; on a "normal" week day I get home between 5:30-6:00 p.m., but anytime you work with people the exact time you leave work is not 100% predictable.  Other weekdays when I'm home earlier, the time is typically spent doing things with my family (even if it's sitting on the couch watching funny YouTube videos), working on this blog, and general household duties like paying bills and doing the dishes.  My life is not glamorous in the least!  There just isn't much time between work/school and bed.  If I go anywhere after work it's typically an activity for Albani (school event, and she goes to Awana on Wednesday evenings), or related to my position on the OMRR (my local running club) board.  I really have no social life outside of running, but I'm 100% okay with that -- I'm thankful for my 5:00 a.m. "happy hour" and I run with others more often than not (and all of them are amazing people).

Pretty much everything except getting home a little late was "business as usual".  I typically get up between 4:45-5:00 a.m. to run, get in the shower around 7:00 a.m., and start work at 8:00 a.m.  My eating was pretty representative of what I usually eat and the timing of it.  I always eat something right before bed and never eat in the early morning before week day runs (unless I've switched a really long run to a week day, which is rare but has happened, twice).  I aim to go to bed as close to 9:00 p.m. as I can.  I run doubles only twice a week, consistently on Tuesdays/Thursdays.

Like everyone else, I wish there were more hours in the day, but I prioritize and make the most of what I have.  Preparing for each week ahead on Sundays, planning, organizing, multi-tasking, and just staying on top of things goes a long way (it's easier for me to pick up the house a little each day vs.several hours of picking up all at once).  Being a full-time working mom and running 60-70 miles a week isn't always easy, but it is absolutely manageable if it's something you want!  If I can do it anyone can.

Note:  I actually started this post on Tuesday, August 29, and did not get very far, but was able to use the rough outline for another Tuesday.  Multi-tasking for the win!  It then took me awhile to find time to proofread this post, and on the actual day I did not take any photos to include (as is probably evident from the photos that are now included, hah).  That's a true day in the life!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

How do you know whether to call it or to push through?

Every runner has off days, and these are part of the training process and part of life.  Some runners will continue on and finish an off workout or race even if it means walking and finishing grossly off any time goal, and others will cut it in order to have another chance at the workout or to recover faster to give another goal race a try.  I don't think there is a right or wrong approach, and many factors come into play when any of us make the decision.

Generally, I lean towards the first option:  finish no matter what.  In my 25 years of running, I have one DNF (did not finish) race to my name, in a half marathon that certainly should have been a DNS (did not start).  At the time I didn't know what was ailing me, but when I was finally diagnosed it was cryptosporidium, a parasite that causes intense stomach and intestinal distress (and that also left me unable to run much more than 3 miles at 9:30 pace for several days).  On the other hand, I once finished a marathon when I had walking pneumonia, and the feat of finishing entailed walking during the race (not my smartest life decision).

I've had workouts here and there over the years that I've called in, typically because of illness, pain, or knowing I was going to be so far off my time goals that the workout would do more harm (as far as wear and tear on my body) than good.  I've had workouts that felt off but that I pushed through and completed.  I had one of each in August, and it made me starting thinking about how I make the decision to call it a day, to push through, or to not start at all.

In hard workouts, if:
  • I feel crappy and it's a key workout - push through; I may feel crappy on race day.
  • I'm slightly off pace -  push through; they can't all be perfect!
  • I'm grossly off pace - call it, especially if I can re-do it later in the week; at this point I don't think the training benefits I'm getting are worth the fatigue and wear and tear on my body (or the hit my confidence will take).  Calling it will allow me to recover faster and get back to training like I should be, plus if I am grossly off pace something else is most likely also going on (getting sick, sleep deprived, etc.).
  • I feel like I'm getting heat illness - call it!  Once you have heat stroke it changes how your body deals with hot conditions for the rest of your life, and no one workout is worth that.
  • Something hurts (suspected injury) - call it or DNS!  If it didn't loosen up and disappear on my warm-up, I'm not risking it.  Once lost workout is better than months of them.
  • Confirmed injury - DNS, unless a medical professional has told me otherwise.
  • I'm sick - DNS.  I run through about anything illness-wise, but I keep all of my running easy if I have anything worthy of calling an illness, so no workouts.
In races, if:
  • I can continue without risking harm to myself, even if it means walking - push through.
    • The only exception that might make me reconsider this is if I knew I was going to miss an important and realistic time goal, and would have another reasonable chance at it much sooner if I dropped, which would really only happen in a marathon.  Recovering from, for example, 14 miles is much faster than recovering from 26.2!  I can understand why elites drop marathons on off days.  I'm still not sure I'd do it, but it would enter my mind.
  • I am risking my health - call it!  I would DNS a race if I were injured or sick beforehand, but if I suffered an injury or heat illness during an event I would not be ashamed to stop, because my long-term health and performance are more important than one day that would end in a crappy finishing time.  I mentioned above that I ran a marathon with walking pneumonia, but I was young and dumb, and would NEVER do that or anything close again.
There are plenty of unique situations I didn't cover here (e.g., if I were injured at mile 26.1 of a marathon, I would get in somehow!), and typically many factors are at play instead of one at a time, but this is generally how I would know.

How do you know whether to call it or to push through?  What scenarios did I forget to list?

The look of someone too tired to push through

Monday, September 11, 2017

Plaza 10K: That's more like it!

The short:
When I put this race on my schedule, my goal was to hit 36:59, but as go-time neared and the forecast refused to cooperate, I revised my time goal to 37:30ish.  I believe I'm in shape to break 37:00, but I'm going to need 45* to do it; temperatures in the 70s with high humidity isn't going to cut it!  I finished in exactly 37:30.  This is a new road PR for me, and while it is not as fast as my track PR of 37:09, I believe it was a stronger performance due to the weather (it was in the 40s for my track PR), the course (this one had 170 ft of elevation gain), and running this during a 64 mile week (also it was kind of my third race in 8 days).  The field was deep, and I was 8th overall female and 1st in the 35-39 age group.  I ran smart and strategically with my competition, and could really only be happier with this one if I could have found 5 seconds more in the last mile and/or it had actually been 45*!  It was a huge relief after not feeling like my fitness showed at the Run for a Child 10K on Labor Day, and I am now ready to tackle my half marathon goal (which I get a taper for!) on September 30, weather permitting.
Clock shots are my husband's specialty
The long:
I was oh-so-hopeful for cool weather for this one, because we saw morning lows of 45-50* during the week preceding the race, but Mother Nature wasn't ready to hand me those conditions yet.  I contemplated pulling out of the race because I wasn't pre-registered, I was coming off of a fatiguing week at work (hello, 10-11 hour days!), and the main reason I put this one on my schedule was for a PR attempt, which would not be happening in the 70s (my Labor Day race had sure reminded me of that!).  I decided it would still be good for me to run it in order to race in a competitive field, and with the pressure of a PR attempt lifted I got pretty excited to just get out there and compete!

Race morning I did all of my usual routines and lined up at the starting line ready to roll.  There were a lot of very fast women on the starting line; some who I knew, others I knew of, and a few who just looked super speedy.  I knew pretty quickly that I wouldn't place in the money (top 4), but I also welcomed the competition because I always run best in races I do not win.
10Ks make Albani yawn
I got off the starting line behind a large group of Kansas City Smoke girls.  I knew there were several in the group who would likely be right around my pace (deja vu of the Big 12 12K).  In the first bit I was behind them all, but I felt like I was pacing well, so I looked down at my watch for confirmation and it read a big fat 0:00.  I'd pressed start at the gun, but clearly I hadn't gotten it started, and I hadn't noticed with thousands of other Garmins beeping.  I started it at that point, and then lapped it at the mile marker so I would have my real course splits from then on.  That was also the last point in the race I looked at my Garmin.

Start -- Can you find me?
The whole race was a "spot a ponytail, work to reel her in" endeavor for me, so with that strategy and the elevation variations I ran by feel.  I always seem to race better this way, but I'm always afraid to do it when I'm gunning for a certain time goal.  The race was large (5,000+), but it was still pretty thin out front so I really never ran with anyone, but there were always others in view.

If you look good in your race photos, you're not running hard enough!
There was a huge clock at the 5K, which I came through at about 18:38, feeling so much better than I had at halfway in Monday's race!  I knew ahead of time that the course would be difficult to negative split due to the elevation (chart below).  Mile 4 had a lot of decline, which I simultaneously enjoyed and worried about, because I knew we would go back up it on a road a few blocks over in mile 5!  Mile 5 was tough and I was surprised my split wasn't slower than it was, but I think it's what took a strong finish out my legs for the final mile (plus the final mile also had a lot of up!).  I'd been working on pulling a gal in front of me in, and I gave it my all to pull up on her at the end, but I ran out of real estate and she finished 2 seconds ahead of me.  Although I wished I'd have had a stronger 6th mile and moved up a place, I was still happy because I gained about 30 seconds on her in the final 2 miles.

I went pretty deep into the pain cave in the final 2 miles.  Dropping to 10K pace is challenging during marathon training, and doing so without being rested even more-so.  However, it is amazing what a difference small variables and a different day can make.  There was no difference in my fitness on September 4 vs. September 10, but there was a huge difference in my performance and how paces felt, and about a minute difference in my 10K time.  6:10ish felt like death on September 4, and 5:59ish felt maximal but do-able on September 10.  This further illustrates the need for ideal conditions for any of us to run our best, and also shows the benefits of being rested.  The Plaza course and weather were slightly better than the Run for a Child course and weather (85% humidity vs. 100%; 170 ft of gain vs. 240 ft), and I was a tad more rested for this one, but I sure can't wait to see how an actual taper feels!  This was a great check-point in my training cycle that showed my training is working; I'm so thankful I had the opportunity to find that out and I am ready to push forward to my next step.  I also still believe I have a 36:50 in me, but it's going to take 45* and a taper to find it (and perhaps also not running 3 races in 8 days!)!

Official results are here (the 5K splits are about 15 seconds fast for everyone, though).  Look at those smokin' top 4 ladies (33:57-35:15!).

"Anything is possible if a person believes." - Mark 9:23
Awards
Splits shown one way (missing first 0.4)
Splits shown another way (also missing first 0.4)

Elevation chart
It pays to be old
One thing Albani and Jon did during my 7 mile cool-down...
This trip to Kansas City also included our first trip to IKEA, a hotel pool, and fantastic family time with my sister's family!
IKEA
Cousins

Cuteness

Also in our hotel, hah
Cousin love


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Labor of Love: Double Race Weekend

The Short:

2017 was my 3rd annual KLife Stars & Stripes 5K + Run for a Child 10K Labor Day weekend combo.

I pulled off an overall person win in the 5K, despite the lead bike taking me on a detour that cost me about 0:20.  I ran my first mile at about goal marathon pace (6:15) and miles 2-3 at about goal half pace (6:05 and 6:07) for a 6:08 average (official time 19:26) -- I was pleased with how controlled the paces felt during the race, but it's hard to judge much from running such a short distance at those long race paces.  Results are here.

I netted an overall female win in the 10K; my first overall win in this competitive race in my three times running it.  In the heat and humidity, 6:10 average pace did NOT feel controlled in this one (it felt HARD!), especially running the entire race solo.  I'd hoped to break into the 37s on this challenging course, but had to settle for 38:18.  It was still a course PR (and actually a road PR, although I've run about this during the final 10K of half marathons), bettering my 38:43 from this race in 2016, but I wanted more from myself.  I'll chalk it up to a good effort on tired legs and look forward to better racing weather!  Race results are here.
Action shot that I do not hate!
The Long:
These races and associated travel have become a Labor Day tradition for my family, and this was the third consecutive year we made the short treks to both (both 2016 races are described here, and Run for a Child is detailed further here).  It's a pretty easy combination, with the 5K on Saturday and the 10K on Monday.  We usually do several other family activities along with the races, including spending Sunday night in a hotel with a pool, so the child loves this tradition too!

My goals going into the races were to run the "5K" (which has ranged from 2.95 to 3.3 miles) at marathon goal pace, to beat my 2016 time in the 10K, and to net some cash at both (this was my husband's biggest goal).  I have a goal 10K next weekend, and my coach kind of nicely asked what I was thinking with scheduling 3 races in 8 days (and really, what WAS I thinking?!).  Since CIM training trumps everything, it made sense to train through all of these races, and running the 5K at goal marathon pace gave it a purpose that I was content with while saving my legs for the two 10Ks.  My coach mentioned that this first 10K would be more like a tempo run than a race also.
KLife Stars & Stripes 5K
I started off Saturday's 5K at a pace that felt about like marathon effort.  I looked at my watch less than a half mile in to see that I was averaging 6:10, so backed off a bit.  Marathon goal pace is always such an awkward pace - not fast but not slow, but always work - and right now mentally it's really weird to me because when I think about running 6:17 I think I'm going to be huffing/puffing/dying, but on this day I was not.  I passed a few men to move into first overall a bit before the mile, which I came through in 6:15.  The lead cyclist led me a bit off course around that point, and if he had not I think the course would have been exactly accurate this year (my Garmin had 3.17 with the course error; usually I get 3.08-3.11 in certified 5Ks).

I had a hard time staying at marathon goal pace, in part due to having a lead cyclist pushing me, and in part due to feeling like I was running way too easy for a 5K.  I ended up speeding up a touch and came through mile 2 in 6:05, which is about my half goal pace.  I did the same for mile 3 (6:07), and then the lead cyclist was giving me a hard time about chatting with him and told me he was going to pull off to the side and let me kick in.  So I kicked the final bit, with a Garmin reading of 5:36.  I always enjoy an overall overall win, and the race organizers of this one are very kind.
Being heckled (in a nice way) by the lead cyclist
I was encouraged by how comfortable my pace felt.  I felt that I could have sustained the pace for a half that day (my average was 6:08, and I want to average 6:06 for my next half).  The weather was great -- about 60* (not sure on humidity, it's always humid here but when it's that cool it's not bothersome) and no wind -- so that certainly helped.  I finished off my mileage for the day with a 4 mile cool-down at 6:50-7:00 pace, and felt good about that too (my warm-up was 3 miles).  After the race we played around Branson Landing and took a train ride on the Branson Scenic Railway.
Celebrating at the awards
They had free Chick-Fil-A, & I won coupons for 3 free meals & desserts
Kicking back & relaxing on our train ride
Monday's weather was not nearly as nice as Saturday's.  It was 78* with 95% humidity at race start, and based on how this weather has affected my performances this summer in training and racing, I knew I was not in for the greatest race, but everyone has to deal with it so I hoped to get out there and compete.  This race offers prize money to the top 3, and in both 2015 and 2016 I placed 3rd overall in it.  My parents surprised me and showed up at the starting line, so I was pleasantly distracted from thinking too much before the race!  My dad's video of the race start is here.
Surprise!  Best cheer crew ever (photo by my mom so she isn't in it though)!
I started with a 6:15 mile, according to plan.  This put me in 1st female position, which was a welcome surprise.  This course's elevation is challenging, with the first mile being nearly all uphill before rolling ups and downs the rest of the way, so I'd hoped to start around 6:15 and then drop to 6:00ish, but it's really one you have to pace by feel because your pace will vary throughout each mile.  Mile 2 was 6:09, and in sharp contrast to Saturday, the pace sure did not feel comfortable!  I also heard people cheering "Go Aubrey", and I could tell the second female was right on my heels.  This made me even more uncomfortable, because I hate leading in a close race and I didn't feel like I was going to be able to speed up if she challenged me.  I was also running completely alone, with the men in front of me too distant to be beneficial to me.  I kept telling myself that I needed to catch the one closest to me to be in the 37s (which turned out to be accurate), but that didn't seem to help; my body was more for trying to hang on than to speed ahead in this race (again, in contrast to Saturday).

It would be nice to run the first 1.5 miles in the opposite direction
My third mile was also 6:09, and I was becoming even more sure that I was not going to be able to speed up.  I thought about the irony that I was running almost exactly the same pace I'd done on Saturday, when I'd felt like I could run for 10 more miles at end of that 5K, but at that point on Monday I wasn't sure I was going to make it another 3 miles (my breathing was much more labored on Labor Day)!  I told myself to just lock into that pace and reminded myself that the gal behind me probably felt just as bad as I did.  I made it through miles 4-5 in 6:08 and 6:13, but it was tough!  I dumped water on myself at 3 aid stations, which seems pretty excessive for a 10K, but I just wanted something to cool me off (not sure it actually helped).  I even turned and looked at how much lead I had on turns around mile 4 and 5.5, because I was not sure I could hold off any advances by #2.  She was not far back at mile 4 (probably the only reason I did not run mile 4 in 6:30!), but at 5.5 I knew I had the win and was able to breathe a sigh of relief.  The final mile has a lot more downhill than up, and going into the race I thought I'd be able to hit a 5:45 on that mile (nope -- about 20 seconds slower!).  I was able to close at 5:23 for the final 0.22, mainly because I just wanted it to be over.

My dad's video of my finish is here, and one of the awards ceremony here.

Despite my disappointment about how hard this effort felt, I enjoyed the overall female win, with a time of 38:18.  The second female ended up running 38:53.  I ran 38:43 in this race last year, and I thought I would be able to run at least 10 seconds/mile faster than that this year, but I did not have that!  It's hot and humid every year at this race, but since we've had such nice morning temperatures recently, I felt like this year I wasn't as adapted for it.  I also seem to be more affected by this weather than I used to be for some reason - or at least I notice and complain about it more!  Last year I spent much of the race chasing down the female who ultimately placed 4th, while this year I was in no man's land the whole race.  Last year I had a fantastic day and this year was average.  Final excuse, last year I had a little rest for this race, and this year I was coming off a 62 mile week (I also ran 14 miles total on race day).  My coach said this would be more of a tempo than a race, but my tempo range is 5:57-6:10 so it was barely that!  I guess I am just trying to rationalize why I didn't run faster than I did, because I thought I could get into the 37s.  This is my second best 10K ever and best road 10K...just quite a far cry off my track PR of 37:09, and mainly a testament that I don't run many goal 10Ks.  I didn't expect to rival my track PR that I ran at 45* in a deep field, even though I think I'm in a little better shape right now; I would not tell anyone to go for a PR on this race's course.  My coach reminded me that we separate road and track PRs for a reason; I just think I have a much faster road 10K in me than this!

I was NOT encouraged by how uncomfortable my pace felt.  What a difference a different day makes, eh?!  6:10 pace did not feel maintainable, and I certainly could not have run a half at that pace on this day (I barely made it a 10K!)!  But I'm working on being thankful for the win and moving on! Admittedly it is shaking my confidence for my next races...and how can I even think about 26.2 at 6:17 pace when all I had for 6.2 was 6:10?!
My expression here is hilarious
I love an oversize check!
Dr. Bob is a local running legend & this was his birthday!
After the race, we went to Crystal Bridges in Bentonville, which is something I've wanted to do every year after this race but have usually been too tired to handle!  My friend Mary and her daughter Ro joined Jon, Albani, my parents, and me.
Crystal Bridges

My sweet husband with the girls

Best mom and grandma

Crystal Bridges cuteness
At the end of the day, I feel extremely grateful and blessed with this weekend for many reasons.  I treasure the family and running memories, and the step in the journey.  Nothing is always easy or perfect in this world, but it's exactly where God wants us to be, and we can give glory to Him for the comfortable and the uncomfortable!  Clearly 6:10 pace falls into both categories for me!
Winnings
Professional photo (late addition)

Friday, September 1, 2017

August was a time for doing things I've never done before!

August 2017 in review!

Total mileage for the month:  301.6 -- I've never done a monthly mileage starting with a 3 before!  Well, unless perhaps at some point I was injured and it was 30, hah.  In comparison:  January - 261, February - 212, March - 203, April - 219, May - 249, June - 205, July - 275
  • July 31-August 6:  64.7
  • August 7-13:  62.4 (this was a cut-back week, and the mileage drop was tiny, partially due to a long run swap, but I had no scheduled workouts)
  • August 14-20:  66.4
  • August 21-27:  68.4
  • August 28-Sep. 3:  62.5
August = back to school
Races:
  • Nada...however, I will be starting September off with abandon, with races on September 2, 4, and 10, plus a goal half marathon on September 30.  A month of no racing when I'm 100% healthy may be something I've never done before, or at least not done often!
Workouts:
  • August 2:  3 x 2 mile tempos in 11:53 (5:57, 5:56), 11:47 (5:51, 5:56), 11:43 (5:52, 5:50), with 0.5 recoveries and 2 warm-up and 2.2 cool-down.  Ben ran this one with me, which was very helpful.  Although I felt somewhat fatigued going into this workout, I felt strong once I was running it and like I had 5+ more seconds/mile in me.  I finished feeling like I could run one more repeat at a similar pace, which is technically how you are supposed to finish speed workouts (the most training gains for the least effort and stress on the body, but easier said than done!).  After my 6 mile tempo and fast finish long run during the last week of July, my coach told me to stop trying to set workout PRs every hard day, and to stick to the paces he gives me; so I tried to do that better, because as much as I love pushing workouts, I don't want to over-train or peak too early.  My pace range was 5:55-6:05, so I was 50% within the prescribed range, but the course is fast so I say it evens out (it was a workout PR, and having every mile under 6:00 is something I'd never done before). When looking at my splits afterward, I noticed that both my half mile recoveries were at 7:42 pace; not sure how I managed that consistency, but it made me laugh!
  • August 12:  progression run within a long run, described below, and technically Jessi's workout and not mine
  • August 16:  8 mile tempo in 49:04 (6:07 average via 6:09, 6:07, 6:00, 6:05, 6:09, 6:08, 6:15, 6:08), with 2 warm-up and 2 cool-down.  This was not the tempo I was hoping for (that was a sub-6:00 average), and this was not a workout PR (I've done 6:06 average for this workout). But, based on how I felt during this run I was glad to complete it and to keep all of my miles except for mile 7 within my goal tempo pace range of 5:57-6:10. Going into the workout, I hoped to run splits something like 6:10, 6:05, 6:01, 6:00, 5:59, 5:58, 5:57, 5:55, 5:50, but when I passed mile 3 my goal changed to just keeping it under 6:10 the rest of the way.  8 miles is a long grind when you're not feeling it at mile 3 and are running alone; I wanted to stop at mile 4 and I really wanted to bag it at mile 6, but I reminded myself that I would never quit with 2 or 4 miles left in a half of full marathon, so this was good practice hanging on the best I could. This workout felt an awful lot like the Dam to Dam half marathon (and no one wants to re-live that!), so I was happy to just get it done.  Funny how the slower paces on bad days take so much more out of you than faster paces on fantastic days! What went wrong after 3 stellar tempo workouts (August 2 as described above, here, and here)?  It was 71* with a dew point of 70* (96% humidity), I was running solo after having company on the other 3 tempo workouts, I felt like my glycogen stores were down (possibly due to a second run the evening before), and simply not every day is my best.  Although I didn't meet my goal, I can't be completely unhappy with a solo 8 mile tempo that ended up being 1 sec/mile slower than my goal half marathon pace; I think I was just mainly disappointed that I had to fight for the goal pace the whole way.  My coach said he thought this was a fine tempo, and that I was probably feeling my mileage.  I averaged 6:24 pace on the 8 mile tempo I ran about a year ago, so my current bad day was still 16 sec/mile better than my 2016 really good day.  I'll get you next time, sub-6:00 8 mile tempo!
  • August  22:  Mile repeat workout fail...I don't really want to include this, but it felt like a lie to leave it out.  I ran one 1600 m. repeat on the track in 5:42, and then things went sharply downhill and I pulled the plug halfway through repeat 2 when I was at 3:04 through 800 m.  Cutting a workout isn't something I've never done before, but it's something that's pretty rare, fortunately...although I also cut my long run distance on August 5, which makes this month seem pretty pathetic in this regard.  A thunderstorm was rolling in when I stopped (it was also 76* with 100% humidity), so I blamed that, but I also did not have it mentally or physically this day; honestly, I think I was defeated in my own head before I even started.
  • August 24:  Mile repeat workout re-do - 3 x 1 mile repeats with 3:00 recoveries in 5:48, 5:44, & 5:46 (2.1 warm-up and 2.4 cool-down).  After my failure on the track two days prior, I didn't want to go back so I ran these on the road instead.  My goal was to keep them all in the 5:40s, so I was pleased with the outcome, even though my original goal time for them on the track was 5:35-5:40.  A 5:46 average is my second best mile repeat workout ever; my best was 5:40 back in May, but this time I was on tired legs so I didn't expect to rival my PR workout (the May workout was also 4 x 1 mile repeats, but I had longer recoveries of 0.5 mile jogs on that day, which I think my coach did on purpose to make them not exactly comparable!).  I was coming off of 25 miles in two days (13 with my failed workout and a double two days before, and 12 in a single one day before), and I ran alone, so I think this went as well as it could have -- especially considering that it's mentally very difficult to re-try a workout only two days after pulling the plug on it!  It was 56* and that sure helped!  It amazes me how much different 5:45 pace is than 5:55 pace.  5:55 pace is challenging for me but it feels maintainable during most workouts; when I drop 10-15 seconds I feel like I'm dying!  I have not done speed work since my last mile repeat workout on May 10, so it makes sense that I'd be more comfortable in my tempo range than below it, but oy!
  • August 29:  4 mile fartlek of 2' on/2' off (2 warm up and 2 cool down).  A no-pressure fartlek was just what I needed this week!  I ran this on a course with rolling hills -- the same course I ran it on last time (July 18 here).  I kept all of my pushes under 6:00 pace for the first time ever on a fartlek on this course, with them all between 5:42-5:54, and I was pumped about that.
  • Doubles on August 1, 3, 8, (not on August 10 due to the cut-back week), 15, 16, 22, 24, 29, and 31.
  • Strides on August 7, 10, and 31.
  • Bootcamp (full body strength workouts) on August 7, 14, 21, and 28 (plus enough additional strength work here and there to get to a minimum of 90 minutes total per week).
  • Yoga on August 9, 23, and 27; I know, I can't believe it either!  I'm dabbling in a calf release routine.
  • Favorite workout:  the 3 x 2 mile repeats on August 2 was hands down the smoothest workout of the month!  In theory I like the 8 mile tempo better, but it didn't go quite as well.
Long Runs:
  • August 5:  13 base pace miles (7:29).  Just checking off my bad long run of this training cycle with this one!  It was supposed to be 16 miles...  I'd spent Thursday and Friday in Kansas City for work, so I expected to be tired from that trip, but I felt decent enough until shortly after 10 miles when I was hit with stomach pain!  I made a couple of pit stops, but it kept getting worse instead of better, and my pace kept getting slower.  At 12.9, I started dry heaving.  I made it to 12.99 before throwing up on the side of the road.  I ran the 0.01 to 13 (obsess much?) and then walked it in; I was only 0.6 from my car at that point, fortunately.  I was upset about this, and it has never happened to me before (another thing I've never done before, hah).  I'm blaming eating out for all meals for two days and moving on...  I got to bump up my mileage on my August 12 long run -- I kind of flip-flopped this run and the next week's scheduled cut-back long run -- so nothing was lost except for my stomach contents!
  • August 12:  16.1 miles (7:02) with 7 base pace, 7 progression, 2 base pace.  This was scheduled as 15 base pace, but Jessi had a progression run that was 8 miles total, with the first mile at easy pace and then progressing down to around 6:20 pace.  I love progression runs so I told her I'd do it with her within our long run if she wanted, by doing 7 easy first instead of just the 1.  Our first 7 were between 7:18-7:35 (although they were kind of a progression too, just not as pronounced), then the progression miles were 7:10, 7:04, 6:55, 6:42, 6:33, 6:14, 6:04.  This was a bit faster than planned, but it felt good to cruise in.  The last half mile was up an incline, so I am calling it sub-6:00 effort (the run as a whole had 564 feet gain).  It was also a fast finish mile PR on that route, bettering my previous long run fast finish final mile of 6:09 on it.  I then went 2 more miles for 16, to avenge the previous week's crappy long run and get in a 16! 
  • August 19:  18 base pace miles (6:57).  Running an 18 miler made me feel like I was officially marathon training!  This was a base pace run, which we started with a 7:40 mile and finished with a 6:30 mile.  Zach ran this with me and gave me the push I needed to average sub-7:00.  My go-to easy pace isn't quite that fast, but it is a relaxed pace when I am running with someone else doing that pace (my ideal long run pace is 6:57-7:07 after I get warmed up, per my coach -- marathon goal pace +40-50 seconds).  Missy ran the first 10 with us, and Rebecca the first 6.  I ran this fasted, having just water and 2 nuun tablets - electrolytes and a mere 20 calories - before and during, because doing my relaxed long runs like that up to 20 miles pays off for me on marathon day (plus I don't want to get up any earlier than I already am at 4:45 a.m.!), but I was dreaming of breakfast buffets in the final couple of miles!  It was 69* and 98% humidity, so I can't wait to see how my long runs feel when it's 45*!  We ran one of our normal courses, with 537 ft elevation gain.  Afterward, it struck me that I could have run a sub-3:00 marathon in training if I'd have kept going on this run, if I'd have done 8 more miles at 6:35-6:40 pace, which I believe I could have (our final 4 were 6:39, 6:40, 6:36, 6:30, talking the whole time).  The gravity of this was not lost on me, because last year at this time breaking 3:00 was my huge goal!  God is amazing.
  • August 26:  17.2 base pace miles (7:01).  I felt really good about this run because it was truly relaxed the whole way, and most of my miles were 6:55-7:05 (the first 2 were slower, the last 2 a little faster but not as fast as the previous week).  Zach ran with me again, and it went by very quickly!  I ran this fasted like the previous week, and on a similar course.
  • August 30:  15 base pace miles (6:57).  I traded my midweek short long run for a longer one this week due to impending weekend races, and I was glad I did because I felt like a million bucks on this run!  I also think this arrangement was better for both my long run and race, because trying to get in 15 miles when racing a 10K means a long run that is a bit split up and a slower pace on the miles run before and after the race -- not to mention an impending 7 mile cool down hanging over my head during the race!  I started at 5:04 a.m., ran 4 miles solo, picked up Ben just after 5:30 a.m. (I told him beforehand that he had to jump in when I came by, because I wasn't stopping, hah), and we did an 11 mile route together.  After I got warmed up, it felt great to knock of 6:5X miles that felt like they were 7:15 pace.  It was also only because of this long run swap that I made it over 300 miles in August, because I was originally scheduled for 11 miles on this day and 15 on Labor Day!
  • Favorite long run:  All of them except for August 5!
  • I also had midweek runs that were short long runs every Wednesday (11-12 milers); these went well with average paces of 6:59-7:03 on the non-workout ones.
Highlights/thoughts/randomness:
  • I was excited to have some base pace runs dip below 7:00 pace while keeping it easy, which is always exciting! Why is 6:59 vs. 7:01 such a big deal (same with 5:59 vs. 6:01)?  Really the difference between those paces could just be Garmin error!
  • This was another month of NO days off running -- the second month for that, as my last day off was June 19!  I haven't noticed any difference with adding a 7th day of running, probably because two of my days are short (Mondays and Fridays).
  • When I was thinking about my August mileage, I thought about the song lyric "Count your blessings, name them one by one," and how in one month of running I had 301 miles of blessings.  I am so thankful for all of the things running brings to my life:  wonderful friends to train with, a passion for competitive goals, a hobby with a purpose, opportunities to travel, endorphins, and health benefits.  I pray I am using it as I am supposed to!  I count every run as a blessing, for certain.
Non-running life events:
  • My little started 4th grade on August 15!  
  • I started teaching as an per course faculty member for the 6th semester on August 22.
  • Our family expanded with the addition of a fish tank, an early birthday present Albani talked Jon into.  We already had our first death, with a frog named Croaker not making it (Croaker was the first to croak, aww!).
  • We had 96% coverage in the eclipse, which was simultaneously amazing to watch through eclipse glasses and unimpressive because it did not get dark, at all.
  • This was also another month of garden goodness in the Ibbetson household!
First day of 4th grade

Posing with Papa

Waiting at the bus stop

I finally got a Bear Pass

We went to Talking Rocks this month

Excitement at PetSmart
The fish aren't in the tank yet here

Bandit enjoyed the eclipse, maybe
Eggplant, pre-roasting
Zucchini and another type of squash

Sweet mini-bell peppers

Eggplant & tomatoes