Saturday, March 31, 2018

Nevertheless, she persisted: March in review

March 2018 Re-Cap

Total mileage for the month:  297.8 (in comparison:  January - 207, February - 254).  Your body doesn't really know the difference between 297 and 300 miles, but your mind sure does!  Same for 68ish and 70 miles in a week...
  • Feb. 26-March 4:  66.7
  • March 5-11:  67.9
  • March 12-17:  72
  • March 19-25:  68.2
  • March 26-April 1:  71.1
  • March 10:  I broke my racing hiatus by competing in The Big 12 12K in 47:02, which, despite the very challenging race course, was good enough for a Missouri single age state record for age 37 (only because there are very few certified 12Ks in Missouri, because it's not a great time).  I placed 3rd overall female (the best I could have in the field), and I was glad I made the last-minute decision to compete.
  • March 31:  The Easter Sun Run "10K" as a tempo.  This course is off on distance, so my goal for it is always to run it as a workout while visiting my parents for Easter and try to place overall.  I accomplished both, keeping all of my splits within 6 seconds of each other without ever looking at my watch (I'm probably most proud of that part!) and placing 2nd overall female with 39:09 (Garmin 10K split in the 37s).  Albani ran the 2 mile race at the event and I got many great photos of her!
Start of the Big 12 12K (I definitely beat the man with the
headphones, and that is my friend Michelle's arm)
How the end of a 12K feels when mile 7
has 140 feet of elevation gain
  • March 7:  Fartlek of 3' on/3' off (2.2 warm up, 1.2 cool down for 7.5 miles on the run).  My push paces were 5:46, 5:48, 5:47, 5:49, 5:46.  I was happy with the consistency in pacing and to keep them all sub-6:00.
  • March 14:  5 x 1K in 3:39, 3:39, 3:41, 3:41, 3:39 with 0.25 recoveries (3.1 warm up, 3 cool down).  My goal was 3:30 for these, so I was off that, but I ran consistent splits and with all I had that day.  I was disappointed about being nowhere near 3:30 on them, but then I looked back at my training logs to see what I'd done previously, and this was the first time I've ever run under 3:40 on 1K repeats (and I did it 3 times!)!  While it's still a relatively weak performance for me, considering that I've run mile repeats and even the final mile of tempo runs at a faster pace, it was still a PR workout and my coach was perhaps overly ambitious with the 3:30 goal.  It was kind of like when he told me to run 10 x 800 m in 2:45 and I averaged 2:56!  I did remind him after CIM that it was, in fact, possible to run 2:56 Yassos and a 2:47 marathon, so I'm filing this workout in that same category (see also:  my marathon pace and 5K pace are nearly the same).  This is also a lesson on why keeping a training log is valuable; I was thinking that I'd run them in 3:25 before, but it was really 3:45 previously, which is obviously a huge difference.
  • March 20:  4 x 1 mile at tempo in 6:01, 6:00, 6:03, 6:05 with 0.5 recoveries (3.1 warm up, 2 cool down).  I'm 99% sure I'd have pushed this workout back a day had my friend Amy not been coming to run what we call "hot loops" for her workout too (we run a relatively flat 0.83 road loop for a lot of speed and tempo work since our normal routes have so much elevation variation).  It was 40*, feels like 33*, with light rain.  I have no problem running in the rain, but running in the rain with a windchill of 33* is pretty much the worst!  Nothing about this workout felt good, aside from checking it off the list.
  • March 27:  10 x 400 with 200 recoveries (2.1 warm up, 2.2 cool down).  I ran this in a monsoon, on a track with standing water in lanes 1-4 in several places, e.g., how to run interval effort but only hit tempo pace (I averaged 1:31, all between 1:30-1:32).  My shoes and clothes felt like they were holding 20 lbs of water.  In a normal week I'd have bumped this a day, but it was supposed to rain pretty much non-stop all week, so I just did it.  The body knows effort, not pace, but this sure didn't help my confidence (after the Easter Sun Run I pointed out the irony that I ran pretty much the same pace for over 6 miles that I could only hold for 400 m a few days previously!).  That evening I ran a second run also in the rain.  It was like Mother Nature called my bluff on saying the weather for my previous workout was the worst!  At least it was 52 degrees...
  • March 29:  10.4 miles with 1:00 pick-ups at the beginning of each mile, in more cold rain.  I didn't have this workout programmed into my watch because it was a last minute addition, so I don't know my exact paces on the pick-ups.  But, when I looked at my watch during the run my paces were basically along the lines of the March 27 workout as far as providing the opposite of a confidence boost (6:30+)!  Again, it flummoxed me that I was able to run 6.4-6.5 miles at a much faster pace on March 31 than I could run for 1:00 during this workout.
  • Doubles on March 7, 14, 20, 22, and 27 (the 3 days I had both doubles and strength workouts were tricky because they were also work days!).
  • Strides on March 1, 15, 22, and 28, and at least a few before all workouts and races. 
  • Full body strength workouts on March 3, 7, 11, 14, 17, 20, 24, 28, and 31, and 5-10 minutes of core work nearly every day.  I do either core work or foam rolling while microwaving my lunch at work, and my microwave there takes forever to heat up food!
  • Favorite workout:  If I can count the Easter Sun Run race/tempo (and this is my blog, so I can make the rules, right?), then it wins.
Long Runs/Medium Long Runs:
  • March 4: 15.3 miles (7:45).  I wasn't feeling well on Saturday (sore throat and congestion) so I bumped this one to Sunday, and I still wasn't feeling well but I got the miles in.  I typically try to run easy mileage through about anything.  This was scheduled with 4 miles progressive fast finish, which I still accomplished with 7:30, 7:22, 7:14, 6:48 (after running 11 miles at 7:44-8:10), but every mile of this run was about 40 seconds slower than I'd have liked.
  • March 6:  10.5 miles (7:41).  This week my schedule was atypical and I had two double digit easy long runs, with a workout day between them.  I run double digit mileage on Tuesdays and Thursdays often, but it's usually split into two runs (e.g., 8 and 4 milers).  I felt somewhat sickly for this run, but was okay with getting in the miles at a somewhat slower pace, much like March 4.
  • March 8: 11.1 miles (7:11).  See March 6 note on two easy double digit singles this week.  I felt over being sick on this run!
  • March 10:  15.3 miles, via 2.3 warm-up, 7.5 race, and 5.5 cool-down.  All of this was terribly hilly, and I was about to die of starvation during the cool-down.  I know I need to take a gel between the race and cool-down when I make races like this into long runs, but I didn't actually think I was going to run this race when I packed for the work trip it occurred in conjunction with, so I didn't have a gel, and the banana piece I ate did not cut it (clearly it needed peanut butter smeared on it).
  • March 15:  12.1 miles (7:11).  This came the day after a workout + double + full strength workout.  If you're keeping track (and I am!), that's about 2.5 hours of working out on a work day, so I was a bit concerned that I'd be exhausted for this run, but I surprisingly felt great!  So much of marathon training is just continuing to run on tired legs, so...
  • March 17:  17.2 miles (7:19).  "Average" is the best adjective for this one.  It wasn't bad, it wasn't great.  The mileage wasn't an issue but I didn't have much pep.  It was a day I would have struggled with getting out the door on my own, so I was thankful that Rebecca ran the first 10 miles with me.  I practiced drinking mid-run with no watch-stopping - grabbed a bottle off my car trunk, ran a short out and back with it, then dropped it back off.
  • March 24:  16.2 miles (7:10) with 3 warm-up, 10 at my friend Michelle's marathon goal pace (6:45), 3.2 cool-down.  This run produced so many inside jokes, because it all started with her texting me that she had 6:45 pace miles within her long run and she wished I could run the workout with her (we live nearly 4 hours apart).  I jokingly asked back how far she was from Southeast Kansas, because we were visiting my in-laws there over the weekend and I knew it would be quite a bit closer.  We figured out she lives just over 2 hours from my in-laws' house, and I told her I'd drive an hour to meet her if we could find some place in the middle to run.  She found a little town for us to meet in and mapped out a route for us, starting at a hair salon called "Bob's Hair."  This ended up being one of those runs where the miles just flew by, and the 10 faster miles were 6:46, 6:46, 6:41, 6:46, 6:44, 6:37, 6:38, 6:45, 6:44, 6:47 so our pacing was on point even in the 20 mph wind (she is so ready to break 3:00!).  I'm not sure they see too many runners in Burlington, Kansas, and after the run when we were stretching a guy asked us if Bob's Hair was open on Saturdays (spoiler: it is not).  I was happy with this run because I thought in my current state the 6:45 miles would be hard, and although I wouldn't have settled into them for an easy pace, they were conversational the whole way and much easier than tempo effort.
  • March 29:  10.4 miles (7:22).  This put me at running 4 out of 5 runs in cold rain for the week (fortunately at the end of the week the record was 4 out of 8).  This may have been related to the stat that I was also at 4 out of 5 runs solo for the week at that point.
  • April 1 will be my next - a Sunday long run due to Saturday's race.  I'd like to point out that if I'd had a Saturday long run as usual instead, I'd have been over 300 miles for the month...but I guess I will have some extra mileage in April now!
  • Favorite long run:  I felt good about the March 24 one and I loved helping Michelle crush her workout (although I also have no doubt she'd have done it without me there, just not from Bob's Hair)!
  • Strava and I are on break.
  • I'm currently not running the best I have, but I'm not running the worst either.  I keep meaning to write a post about it, but I have been insanely busy at work and have just barely kept up with updating my monthly posts, which I do a little at a time as I go.  I have similar intentions to start a Grandma's Training Journal series here, but file this all under "things I neglect when I have a BCBA out for 6-12 weeks and am covering her caseload."  It's amazing what difference getting home 1-1.5 hours later on a weeknight makes, because I feel behind on everything.  I've been super overwhelmed and stressed at work, which I am sure isn't helping my training either, but this too shall pass!
Non-running life events:
  • Albani had spring school photos on a terribly windy day.
  • Albani participated in Awana Games, where her team placed 2nd.  I learned a lot about Awana Games by watching this competition.  I highly recommend the Awana program for kids - it starts with pre-K and goes through high school, so all ages are welcome!  Albani has done amazing things in it, such as memorizing all of the books of the Bible in order.
  • Albani had spring break from March 12-16, which was the week after Daylight Savings Time began...whoever made that scheduling call sure knew what they were doing!  I suffered the whole week as per usual with this time change. 
  • St. Patrick's Day, although we didn't do anything aside from wear green.
  • We had a lot of Easter fun 1 week early at my in-laws'.
Picture day pre-photo
Professional photo
Awana Games
I wear these year-round, but this month they are actually
seasonably appropriate!
Opening the chicken tractor at Grandpa's farm
Pre-Easter egg hunt #1
This was an intense search with some Fear
Factor-esque components thanks to Aunt Amy

Thursday, March 29, 2018

What I'm Craving This Month - March

I did somewhat better remembering to take food photos this month!  In April I hope to feature some homegrown garden produce.

Stuffed baked sweet potatoes are my current thing.  Bake a washed sweet potato in the oven (they can also be microwaved, but they aren't as good), cut in half, and smush up the insides.  You can then mix in pretty much whatever you want.  The picture below includes broccoli and cheese.
This one includes cinnamon and cottage cheese, along with a side of my favorite vegetable that was on special at Aldi a couple of times this month, asparagus.  If you don't shop at Aldi, you should!

This one has spinach and melted peanut butter mixed in.  I know it sounds gross but I promise it will actually blow your mind...think of peanut sauce on Chinese food.

Baked "fries" are a hit with everyone in my household.  Simply cut up any variety of potatoes (these are Russet), toss on a baking sheet that's been sprayed with olive oil, season to your liking (I typically do garlic salt), then bake at 400* for about 45 minutes.  This works great with sweet potatoes too!

These artichoke hearts were a delicious Aldi find.

Dried green beans aren't something I ever thought I'd try since I prefer fresh produce, but they have a great crunch to them.

More veggie chips...I am not actually sure if these are even healthy (they probably aren't).

My favorite brand of protein powder in one of my favorite flavors in the world:  peanut butter!

But, why????  For the record, I am not a fan of M&M's, but this only had a few on top; the ah-mazing thing was the peanut butter rice crispie treat with chocolate peanut butter drizzle and peanuts.

Okay, back to my healthy options.  I love all types of squash.  This is roasted yellow squash.  Roasting any vegetable is winning!
Frozen dark sweet cherries.
And that's all I've got!  I wish I'd have taken pictures of my restaurant meals when I was in Kansas City for work, because they were all fantastic (Tasty Thai, First Watch, Panera, and some grill that had amazing salmon and ciabatta bread).  Next time!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Strava Hiatus

I love Strava!  I'm inspired by seeing other runners' training, I like the ways in which it allows me to analyze my own training, I enjoy watching my friends kill their races and workouts, and I love interacting with other runners.  I'm pretty addicted to posting my runs and watching my weekly mileage build, and I'm also not sure how I managed before grade-adjusted pace.  However, like all social media platforms, pieces of it can become problematic during certain seasons of our lives.

My running hasn't been fantastic in 2018.  I've been inconsistent, hot and cold, and just haven't seen the results from my training like I did during previous cycles (more details on this are here, here, and here - plus it's no secret that I bombed the Houston Marathon).  I'm not running terribly, and it's an odd paradigm because my current bad runs/races are better than I was doing in 2016 and before, so I feel somewhat greedy/guilty calling it a bad phase.  But I'm not running as well as I was in 2017, and I've been getting really discouraged about it.  After all, for my big goal I need to knock 144 seconds off of my marathon PR, and I seem to be going in the opposite direction.  I am probably being overly dramatic about it, but I feel like I am getting slower every week!  During my CIM cycle, I felt stronger every week and like the workouts and long runs were building, but during this build I haven't felt like that's happening...I'm just hoping to make it through each week!

I try to not let comparison steal my joy, but I fail at this often, particularly when comparing my own performances.  This season as I've seen my runs not measure up to what I was doing when building for CIM, I've been getting very down on myself.  My CIM build wasn't enough to get me the 2:45:00, so a build with almost everything being slower surely isn't going to be enough.  My body isn't responding to training in the same way, and I'm having a difficult time staying positive about this training cycle.  Currently, I really enjoy the process of running every day, but not the numbers (paces, splits, etc.).  I used to salivate for my hard workout days, and now I'm instead terrified I won't be able to hit my paces.  Some days I don't even look at my splits during or after the run, which 2017 Sara would have thought unfathomable!

After a conversation with my coach, I realized that Strava might be making me more negative about my recent training.  I'm looking at my own matched runs, my previous workouts, and my previous mileage and getting down on myself.  I also look at what other women who are chasing or have recently achieved the 2:45 standard are doing, and I always feel like I'm running way less mileage far slower than all of them (I felt this way before CIM too, but at that point I was running workout PRs and mileage PRs often, so I felt like I was on my way to a higher level and didn't feel discouraged).  It is also easy to compare relatively to everyone, for example seeing others' speed work be X amount faster than their races paces, or seeing others run long runs closer to marathon pace than I do (let me also note that I am flummoxed when people run all of their long runs at their goal marathon pace - I could never hit that week after week!).  Although I still see many positives from Strava, at the current time I don't think it's helping my slump.  So today was my last upload, and as of 3/26/18, Strava and I are on a break.  I don't think this is a complete solution to my 2018 issues, but I think it's worth a try and I am pretty open to trying anything that could help even slightly.  I'll definitely be back to Strava, and I'll definitely still be training!
Well, I'm not un-linking my Strava & Garmin accounts, so my runs will
still automatically upload to Strava (they will be private though), so it
still all happened, haha!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Big 12 12K: Nothing to lose but the entry fee!

The short:
I changed my mind about running this race approximately 500 times, but I'm thankful I decided to get out there and compete.  It is one to run strategically for place, and also to run without looking at your watch due to the crazy elevation variations.  I finished 3rd overall female in 47:02 (6:15 pace), which was also good for a new Missouri single age state road racing record for age 37, since there are very few 12Ks.  Throughout the past couple of months I've encountered some health and personal challenges, during which I've questioned if I should just cancel this entire season many times, but for this race I felt like racing and found joy in the experience, which would have been a victory even if I had run terribly!  This performance wasn't my best, but it also wasn't my worst, and I was probably more thankful for it than any other mediocre performance of my life.

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." - Isaiah 43:2

The long:
I included the Big 12 12K in my spring racing schedule, after the event went well for me last year.  I travel to my agency's Kansas City division for work about once a month, and typically I can schedule when the trip occurs, so I planned March's trip for the Thursday and Friday prior to this race.  The past couple of months have been up and down for me, running-wise and otherwise, and a couple of times after I had bad runs in February I told my coach, "Just take my March races off my schedule."  Then I had a good 5 mile tempo run on February 26, and said, "Maybe leave those March races on my schedule."   

Then, I got sick on March 3, bumped my long run to March 4, and said with certainty, "I am not going to run Big 12 next weekend", and my coach made the adjustment.  I recovered faster than I expected from the illness and had great runs on March 14-15, but my mileage was heavier than it would have been leading up to a race, so I was still not planning to race, but I guess I wasn't completely ready to rule it out because Thursday morning I added a singlet, shorts, arm warmers, compression socks, and racing shoes to my packed bag before I headed out of town (related note:  this was not an adequate amount of race gear and I had to warm up in pants I'd been sleeping in and the long sleeves and ear-warmer I wore to run in on Friday morning, and also wore the sports bra I'd run in on Friday morning...don't even ask what dry clothing I changed into after the race!).

Friday morning after a night of poor sleep, I was dragging and exhausted on my short morning run, so I have no logical explanation for why I started to feel like I wanted to race after all.  I wavered back and forth, but when the time came that I had to decide for logistical reasons (around 2:00 p.m., because if I wasn't staying to race I'd start my drive back to Springfield), I suddenly thought, "Well, I have nothing to lose but the entry fee!" and committed.  I registered at the race expo and stayed Friday night in Kansas City.
Race morning I woke up excited to compete, so I knew I'd made the right decision.  I wasn't sure what my body would have to give, but I knew I'd lay 100% of whatever I had out there and that would be enough.  I drove to the race site, started my normal warm up, and found my parents, who'd been planning to watch the race if I decided to run it and to visit my sister's family, who lives in Kansas City.  It was in the low 30's with a very brisk wind, but didn't feel too cold in the sunshine.  I of course did not pack running sunglasses...
With my sweet dad pre-race
I knew I would have a lot of competition in the race, and that the course was not conducive to even pacing, so although I wore my Garmin, I didn't look at it at all during the race.  My goal was simply to place as high as I could in the female field.  The 12K and 5K started together (my dad's video of the start is here), and I didn't know which women were in which race, but I started off with a pack that included the woman I narrowly out-kicked for 2nd place at the event last year, Tara, along with some of her Kansas City Smoke teammates (the KC Smoke girls are pretty much all smokin' fast!).  The pace felt right, and I had a feeling that the women ahead of us, aside from Kim (who I expected to win the 12K), were mostly or all in the 5K.
Laughing on the starting line
A little after the 1 mile mark, the courses split, with the 12K going left and 5K going right.  All of the women who were a bit ahead of our pack went right.  I could see Kim far up ahead going left, but the only reason I could tell it was her was because I'd talked with her before the race and knew what she was wearing.  I could see a couple of other runners near her but couldn't tell if they were men or women, although for some reason I had a feeling one was a woman.  However, I knew that even on my best day I could not run at the pace they were doing, so my race for position was with the female pack I was with.  I was hoping that at some point during the race someone would tell us what overall position we were in, but no one ever did, so I did not know if I was racing for 2nd or for 3rd.

Our pack gradually thinned, and for a few miles I ran side by side with Tara.  We chatted some and I mentioned that it was deja vu to last year.  We follow each other on Strava so had some idea what the other had been up to since then, and I knew she was training for the Boston Marathon next month.  The distance clipped by, and at one point after I mentioned that running together was really helpful, she told me that if I needed to go ahead to feel free, as the pace felt hard to her.  I was hesitant to go, but I saw a male ahead who we'd been slowly reeling in, and I could feel our effort slowing so after awhile decided I would take off after him.

When I caught the male, I noticed he was a young teenager, so I encouraged him to latch onto me.  I told him we were coming up on a huge downhill that would feel great, but also that mile 7 was all uphill so to save some for that.  He stayed close as we accelerated down the hill.  We then had a bit of flat stretch before tackling the final uphill.

To add insult to injury, in addition to climbing around 140 feet in mile 7, you also have to weave around 5K walkers coming into the finish.  To my relief, both the hill and blockage of 5K masses were much easier than last year.  I'd been fearing the hill the entire race, but it really didn't seem that bad this time!  As for the walkers, aside from the one who hit me with his hand when turning and pointing something out to his friend (he did apologize), it wasn't terrible but I did have to run wide.  In the final 1.5 miles, I could tell that I was a bit weak from being sick, but I felt like I had my position locked in and that if another woman came up to challenge for the place, I could kick it up a gear and keep my lead.

I kicked in the final half mile into the wind, and saw the clock ticking just over 47:00 (my official gun time was 47:03 and chip time 47:02, so the big clock was slightly off).  The announcer said my name (my dad's video of my finish is here), but not my place, so I still didn't know how I'd fared for overall placing.  As I walked through the chute I saw a fast-looking woman wearing buns to the side, and then I knew I'd been 3rd, which my parents soon confirmed.  Kim won with more strength than the woman in buns in the uphill mile.  Tara came in 4th after me, and my friend Michelle was 5th.  I was satisfied with my place because it was the best I could have done in that field (1st and 2nd ran 5:45-5:48 pace, and results can be found here).  Michelle and I then took off for a 5.5 mile cool-down, giving me 15.3 hilly miles for the day.
The elevation chart has to be shown with my splits for this one!  Miles 4 and 7 have a lot of climbing, mile 6 has a lot of downhill, and the others kind of even out as far as ups and downs.  This is not an easy course and I expected erratic splits!  My pleasant surprise of the day was that my final 2.5 miles were about the same pace as I ran last year, with my uphill mile 7 being faster this year.  I worked much harder in this race last year due to the competition situation, and my overall time was about 45 seconds slower this time around, but I had a strong finish without having to kill myself this time.

I'm happy with how it all panned out, and glad I decided to race this.  I have been struggling in various ways lately, and I was so thankful to be able to get out there and run, and to want to get out there and race!  Right now I don't think that this training cycle is going to be my best, but I will do what I can, and God-willing there will be another in the fall that builds off of this one.  Any day I passionately want to get out there and compete is a blessing, no matter how I finish.

It's a marathon not a sprint anyway, right?

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Run Love: February in Review

February 2018

Sometimes you have to take a step backwards to appreciate how far you've come.

Total mileage for the month:  254.7 (in comparison:  January - 207).
  • Jan. 29-Feb. 4:  57
  • Feb. 5-11:  61.1
  • Feb. 12-18:  66.2
  • Feb. 19-25:  62.2
  • Feb. 26-March 4:  66.7
A trip to Bass Pro isn't noteworthy when you live
in a suburb of Springfield, but we didn't do very
much this month!
  • None this month.  I was going to run a half for fun in lieu of my long run on February 24, but I just didn't have it in me to go to a race that week.
  • Feb. 9:  4 mile tempo in 24:02 via 6:03, 6:06, 5:58, 5:54 (6:00 average), with 3.1 warm-up and 2 cool-down.  Tempo Friday is never a thing on my training schedule, but Tempo Tuesday did not work out, and because of that I was extremely thankful to hit this one.  I didn't even have my usual "I should have run 3 seconds faster to average 5:59" thoughts!  I was happy with this for my first real workout since Houston, and although I ran a faster 4 mile tempo over the summer, I was not in my present state of post-marathon de-training for that one.  My goal pace range was 5:57-6:07, and all considering I would have been happy enough even if I'd run all 4 miles at 6:07.  
  • Feb. 13: 4 x 1 mile at tempo in 6:04, 6:07, 6:08, 6:10 (6:07 average) with 0.5 recoveries, 2.2 warm-up, and 2 cool-down (goal pace of 5:57-6:07).  This was much harder than it should have been considering I ran 4 miles straight at tempo faster than this the previous week, but often the split tempos are harder for me with the stopping and re-starting (plus I am just running kind of hot and cold right now), plus it was windy.  I fell hard on a patch of black ice during my Feb. 12 run (detailed below in the highlights/thoughts/randomness section), so I was sore from that, which probably didn't help.  Meh.
  • Feb. 18:  Progressive fast finish long run (11 base, then dropping 10-15 seconds/mile for the final 3 miles).  My average for the whole run was 7:11, with the final 3 miles in 6:54, 6:46, 6:33.  Although I ran the workout as written and before I started picking it up I wasn't even sure I'd be able to drop under 7:00, I also kept thinking about how I used to fast finish these at 6:00 pace, which was disheartening.
  • Feb. 20: Fartlek of 3 x 3'2'1' pushes with recovery equal to the next push (2.2 warm-up, cool-down to 8.3 miles total).  I ran this during a storm (the entire week of Feb. 19-25 was a storm), and I didn't even look at my push paces until a few days later, because I was already feeling discouraged about my training and knew that due to running in insane wind and rain, these would not be good (they were 5:58-6:58, with the 6:58 being a 1:00 all uphill into the 30+ mph wind).  I put in a hard effort and tried to be okay with that.
  • Feb.  26:  5 mile tempo in 30:00 via 6:05, 6:04, 5:58, 6:01, 5:51 (6:00 average), with 2.1 warm-up and 2.4 cool-down.  Only I could run 30-flat, ha!  I've gotta break 30 next time.  I haven't run a 5 mile tempo in a few years - my coach has previously always taken me from 4 miles to 6 miles - so almost by default this was going to be a PR workout (pre-coach I think my best tempos were in the 6:30s), but even without that * I was pleased with it.  I was not feeling confident at all going in, and told myself to just try for 6:10-6:15 pace (even though my goal range was 5:57-6:07).  I looked at my watch about a half mile in and I was at 6:10 pace, but once I got going I got in a groove and knew I could hit the pace range my coach had given me!  I know he won't give me paces he doesn't believe I can hit, but my confidence has been really poor recently.  This workout helped it, but I'll feel better if I can string together more good runs.  Spring coming will have to help with that.
  • Double on Feb. 27...the return!  I missed running them, but just like in January, it was nice to not have to get out twice on stupid cold days.
  • Strides on Feb. 5, 12, 19, and a few before all workouts. 
  • Full body strength workouts on Feb. 3, 7, 10, 14, 17, 20, 24, and 28.  I'm adapting to my new strength and agility routine, and no longer get super sore after each session.
  • Favorite workout:  It's a tie between the 4 mile and 5 mile tempos, because they both helped me keep the faith that I can have a solid season (a large number of runs this month made me lose faith!).
Long Runs/Medium Long Runs:
  • I added my midweek medium long runs to this section this month...I wanted to feel like I accomplished a little more, plus they are almost as long as my weekend long runs at this phase in my training!
  • Feb. 3:  13.2 base (7:39).  I was exhausted from the first step of this run, coming off a 3-day work trip, so it was just about getting in the miles.  I ran a course I typically avoid because it's not "fast", but it's beautiful and all of the climbing was good for me both training-wise and to prevent me from comparing paces!  I was solo on this one.
  • Feb. 7: 11.1 base (7:30). I woke up to mildly icy roads that seemed dangerous, so did not run this at 5:30 a.m. as planned.  With a strike of luck (i.e., work cancellation), I was able to get out late morning and meet up with Jessi to get the miles in.  We dodged and slowed down for ice during the run, but it was much easier to navigate in daylight, and running in the sunlight was wonderful!
  • Feb. 10:  12 base (7:27).  The was The Run I Thought Wouldn't Happen.  We were supposed to get hit with an ice storm beginning around 2 a.m., but Jessi and I planned to meet if the roads were decent.  I woke up at 6 a.m. to completely dry roads, which made me very happy!  We'd both run workouts the day before so we took it easy, which was also nice.  The ice started falling shortly after we finished this run.
  • Feb. 14: 11.1 base (7:17).  This was a wonderful Galentine's Day run in 46*!  I met up with Missy, Jessi, and Rebecca to run what Missy calls "The 11 mile death loop".  It isn't really, but the name has stuck.  1 mile of it runs on a rural highway that actually has traffic before 6:00 a.m. - but the traffic is nearly all going into Springfield and we run the same direction that it is going (on the left side of the road) so that it's primarily on the opposite side of the road, and I never feel unsafe.
  • Feb. 18:  14.4 with 3 progressive fast finish (7:11 for the whole run), described above.  This run had to be bumped from Saturday to Sunday due to Saturday morning's 6+ hours of 35* and pouring rain (cold rain is the worst!).  Everyone ran different distances this day, but I had company for most of the run:  Rebecca (8 miles), Zach (10 miles), and Jessi (12 miles).
  • Feb. 21: 11.4 base (7:51), solo, tired, and patchy black ice.  Since falling on Feb. 12 I became pretty timid around ice.
  • Feb. 24: 14.1 base (7:19), with Missy, Zach, and Claudio.  It pretty much rained all day except for during our run, so we lucked out on this one.
  • Feb. 28:  11 base (7:09) with Missy, Rebecca, and Zach to wrap up the month!  If you throw out my icky run on Feb. 21, my pace showed a nice downward progression throughout the month.  It is difficult not to compare my current runs to my best, but I am 16 weeks out from Grandma's and I think I am around where I was, or perhaps even a little faster than I was, when I was 16 weeks out from CIM.
  • Missouri winter weather sucks for training.  This is not a highlight, but is a fact!  I don't do well with uncertainty, and there was so much weather uncertainty this month.  There were times we had no snow forecasted and then it began snowing and my weather app immediately changed to 3 inches of snow, but there were also times when I thought for sure I wouldn't be able to run based on the forecast, then woke up to perfect road conditions and headed out!
  • I did my first indoor run of the season due to icy roads on Feb. 5:  8 miles, which entailed 60 laps on the YMCA indoor track.  I'm glad I'm generally able to get outdoors, because that type of training is not nearly as enjoyable and does not seem sustainable for me!  My second indoor run was that same week, on Feb. 11, on my home treadmill that I hadn't used on 2 years, because the roads were too hazardous to drive to the YMCA (every church in our area cancelled services on this day).  I initially figured I should just skip my run, but by about 10:30 a.m. I caved and used the treadmill, mainly because I only needed 4 more miles to get over 60 that week.  I didn't get injured from it, which has been my fear after I got injured from it in early 2016, but it was also just one short and easy run.
  • On Feb. 12, the roads were still an ice rink and schools were cancelled, but it warmed up nicely and I was able to get out during the day (I have a plethora of work cancellations when school is out for winter weather).  I wanted to run as early as I could to give myself more time between this 9 miler and my workout the following morning, so I went out around 11:15 a.m.  Not even a half mile into the run, I traversed what I thought was a wet spot on the road, but it included some black ice and I fell down hard.  I picked myself up and stubbornly continued my run, but from then on I walked over any even slightly questionable spots on the road.  I ended up really sore in the subsequent days in my right knee, hip, and rib.  I think I bruised my rib in a very minor way because it hurt to breathe slightly for about a week...but I didn't miss any runs.
  • I've run every day since 1/27/18...the streak begins again.
It only looks pretty

I took this the morning of Feb. 12, the day I fell running at lunch
Non-running life events:
  • I spent 3 days in the St. Louis area for a work conference at the beginning of the month.  I don't do that much overnight travel for work, aside from Kansas City trips on which I always stay with a friend, and having a hotel room to myself is always a weird experience!  The first day is, "Yay, I have quiet, I can do whatever I want, and I get to eat in bed!  Work is buying me appetizers, salmon, and dessert!"  The third day is, "This is awful, I hate this silence, I am so bored, and I hate eating out."  Hah!  I read a lot and actually never turned on my hotel room's TV.
  • Valentine's Day, which was more exciting for Albani than anyone else (because, candy!), but we all had fun nonetheless.  Jon and I have never been big on celebrating it, but always exchange cards and something small, typically a food item.  I gave him a box of Sour Patch Kids that he'd mentioned craving the weekend before, and he gave me mixed nuts and cashews, which I go through by the tin during heavy training.
  • We enjoyed watching the winter Olympics, but I am ready for them to add cross-country!
  • We were kind of boring this month.  Everyone did a lot of reading.
A lazy day at home spent in pajamas
My lazy day activity aside from reading (cross-stitching)
Albani made a paper mache ice cream cone
(minus the final paint job here)
February crafting at the library
Bandit has claimed the agility ladder
Lots of reading..
We always need something at Lowe's (and by
we I mean my husband)
My new favorite sports bra!
Bandit seems to have put on winter weight too