Monday, April 30, 2018

April in review: Just keep showing up!

April 2018

Total mileage for the month:  306.8 (in comparison:  January - 207, February - 254, March - 298).  Wahoo, made it over 300!  This is my third time ever for that in a month, although last month was very close.
  • March 26-April 1:  71.1
  • April 2-8: 70.3
  • April 9-15:  63.7
  • April 16-22:  71.9
  • April 23-29:  70.5
  • April 30-May 6:  76.2
  • April 14:  Rock the Parkway Half Marathon in 1:22:42 (6:18 average) for 3rd overall female and a new single age Missouri state record for age 37.  Although this finishing time was 1:52 slower than my half PR of 1:20:50, the optimist in me felt like it rivaled my PR performance based on the weather (crazy headwind for the final 5.5ish miles) and course (over 500 ft of elevation gain), which was shocking (in a good way!) because my workouts haven't been as nearly strong as I was running last season plus I did not taper.  I also accomplished something I've been striving for for about a year, which was running the final mile of a half under 6:00.  My last mile was 5:52 (then 5:18 pace for the last 0.1), which I was so pumped about that I wasn't even upset that I got out-kicked for 2nd place (actually, kicking in trying for 2nd place is exactly what got me that fast of a final mile!).
  • April 28:  Illinois Half Marathon in 1:22:00 (6:15 average) for 1st in age group 35-39 and 11th overall female (this one had a stacked field!).  Like Rock the Parkway, this was no PR, but it was only 1:10 off and under the circumstances I was pumped about it.  The course was flat (215 ft elevation gain; felt like less), but it had too many turns and curvy running paths for my taste, and the wind was just as terrible as two weeks before.  I am still waiting for Strava to add WAP (wind-adjusted pace)!  I raced this without a taper as well, and ran a nice negative split, including finishing with a 6:02 mile.  I also had a great time traveling to this race with my parents!
  • Do I want to run a goal race half and nail a PR?  Yes; I am dying to try to break 1:20.  Do I want to run a marathon PR more?  Absolutely; that took priority when planning this season...and marathons are going to take priority for me until I either run one in 2:45:00 or reach January 2020 without doing so.
Every time I run a 1:22 I have a double
chin in my finishing photos
Less of a double chin here because it was
really 1:21:59.9, right?
  • April 4:  Medium long run of 11 miles, with 2 fast finish miles (6:32, 6:29).  I would have liked to run these at or under 6:15, but my legs said noooooo in regards to going any faster.  I had a big week March 26-April 1 (2 workouts, a race, and a long run), and I think I was feeling that plus my double and strength workout on April 3.  One thing I'm learning this training cycle is to not be too upset about less than ideal paces during higher mileage; if the effort is there on tired legs, the benefit is there and our bodies know effort, not pace.  I ran this one with Jessi, and always appreciate her pulling me along on the Wednesday double digits ones.
  • April 8:  2 x 4 mile + 2 x 2 mile tempos within a 20.5 mile long run (3.5 warm up, 3.5 cool down, me over-achieving by a half mile on a 20 mile day, and 0.5 recovery jogs between tempo efforts).  My goal pace range for the 12 tempo miles was 6:03-6:26, which is a huge range with the lower end being far too ambitious for 12 miles worth of work.  I secretly hoped that I could average 6:17, ultimate goal marathon pace, but I hadn't run anything recently that made that a realistic goal.  I ended up averaging 6:18 for the 12 tempo miles!  My splits were:  6:25, 6:25, 6:21, 6:19 / 6:25, 6:16, 6:23, 6:15 / 6:17, 6:08 / 6:19, 6:04.  As with every split tempo I ever run and as evidenced by my splits, it was always hard to get re-started after the recovery jogs, and I would have rather just run the whole thing straight.  I practiced drinking and took a gel during the run (half of it after each 4 mile tempo) without any stopping, so that was a perk of the recovery jogs.  I wrote more about this workout here, because it was a Big Deal to me.
  • April 10:  4 mile fartlek of 90'/90' (2 warm up, 2 cool down).  My leggies were tired for this one coming 2 days off of the big 20 mile workout.  I should have had an additional day between those two workouts, but since I'd had to push the long run workout back a day due to sleet and snow (!!!) I didn't.  I also had a double the day between the runs, so this workout was more about running hard on tired legs than anything.  I ended up with 9 pushes within the 4 miles, and my paces on them were 5:56, 5:59, 5:49, 5:59, 5:42, 6:10, 5:35, 5:53, 5:40.  I think the 6:10 one was up incline and the 5:35 one was down incline.  I always like to keep all of my fartlek pushes in the 5's, but I will blame the incline for the one that wasn't.
  • April 17:  Flippin' Fartlek (2.2 warm up, 2.3 cool down for 10 miles total).  This one is pushes of 6', 5', 4', 3', 2', 1' with recoveries of 1', 2', 3', 4', 5'.  It's always an interesting workout, because early your recoveries are so short (especially the 1' between the 6' and 5' pushes) and then later they are so long (that 5' between the 2' and 1' pushes takes forever!), and I have complaints about both too short and too long recoveries, haha.  My push paces were:  5:59, 5:58, 5:57, 5:52, 5:47, 5:36 and I felt good about that - especially because the first 3 were almost like running sub-6:00 pace for 15 minutes straight (actually I think it was slightly harder than running it for 15 minutes straight because the recoveries disrupt my rhythm).
  • April 24:  10 x 400 m. with 200 m recoveries (3 warm up, 1.6 cool down).  After I bombed this working last month, I wasn't particularly looking forward to heading back to the track, but the bar was also set very low on my season best 400 times!  I was hoping to average 1:25 or under, but couldn't pull that off (guess I didn't want to set the bar too high for next time!).  I was like clock-work on 1:27 though, with 8 of the repeats being 1:27, 1 being 1:25, and 1 at 1:28 - for 1:27 average.  The best I've averaged on this workout is 1:21, so this was grossly off that, but that was also on relatively fresh legs and with a guy friend pacing me.  I typically run slower on my workouts coming off weekend 20+ milers, and on my cool-down I realized that I'd run 55 miles in 4 days (4/21 - 21 miles, 4/22 - 8 miles, 4/23 - 14 miles, and 4/24 - 12 miles), so that may not have helped me.  I thought about how my friend Kris said that she never ran anything sub-6:00 in her training for CIM, and most of her tempos on marathon-training legs were in the 6:20s, but at CIM she averaged 6:13 pace for 26.2 miles!  With my marathon goals, running fast-ish on tired legs is better than running faster on fresh legs, for sure...but geez, why am I so slow at speed work this season?!  400s are so short that I never feel like I really get rolling.  I could definitely hold the same pace for 800s and 1600s (probably even 3200 - we will find out in May!), but I just can't go any faster.  I can finish half marathon races with 5:52-6:02 miles but my 400 m. repeat pace is barely faster.  Oy.
  • Doubles on April 3, 5, 9, 10, 17, 23, 24, and 30.
  • Strides on April 5, 13, 27, and at least a few before all workouts and races. 
  • Full body strength workouts on April 3, 8 (the afternoon of 20.5 mile workout!), 10, 14 (8 hours after racing a half), 17 (during a work conference call), 21 (immediately after a 21 miler), 24, and 29, and 5-10 minutes of core work nearly every day. When I first started lifting on my hardest running days I thought it was terrible, but I've gotten much more used to it.  The only one I bumped was April 28 after the Illinois Half, because after the race/20 mile morning, 5.5 hours in the car, and a 7:00 p.m. return home, it just wasn't going to happen.  I was going to skip that one altogether since I got no taper for or recovery from that race, but I ended up rallying to get it done on Sunday evening, while my family ate pizza nonetheless!
  • Favorite workout:  Obviously it was the 20.5 miler with 12 miles of split tempo!
Long Runs/Medium Long Runs:
  • April 1:  16.2 miles (7:24).  This was 3 miles of uuuugh, followed by 13 miles of good!  It took some time to loosen up since I'd run the Easter Sun Run "10K" and 10.6 miles total the day before, and since the wind chill was 22 degrees.  I ran 5 miles solo then 11 miles with my friend Kim who lives near my parents.  Happy Easter - by His wounds we are healed!
  • April 4:  11.3 miles (7:27), more details above in workouts.
  • April 8:  20.5 miles with a workout (more details above and here - clearly this was the highlight of this month aside from the two races!), and I am not sure on the average pace for the entire run because I split off the warm up and cool down on my watch.  If you want to do the math it was 3.5 warm up (7:39), 13.5 miles that was 12 miles of split tempo and 1.5 miles of recovery jogs (6:28), 3.5 cool down (7:37).  I ran this solo and the weather was ideal, around 30* with light wind.  It sleeted and snowed enough to make the roads hazardous on April 7, so I ran this a day late, and then about 2 hours after I finished this run it sleeted/freezing rained, so I certainly hit the weather sweet spot.
  • April 14:  18.3 miles total with the Rock the Parkway Half, 2.8 miles warm up, and 2.3 miles cool down.
  • April 18:  11 miles (7:39) - holy wind tunnel!  I have no idea how Boston Marathoners ran 26.2 miles into crazy winds, and thinking about that made me feel bad for complaining about it, but I complained anyway.
  • April 21:  21 miles (7:18).  Since I'd run a 20 mile workout two weeks prior, 20 miles didn't seem as intimating, but I was also pretty tired going into this run.  I never looked at my watch because the goal was just to get the mileage in, and I didn't want to get upset with myself if I was running 7:45 pace (I keep growing fonder and fonder of not looking at my watch this training cycle, which really is a switch after living and dying by it last cycle).  I ran a 15 mile loop with Daniel, Claudio, and Rebecca, and then I needed 5 more miles on my own to round off the 20 miles I had scheduled (I couldn't talk anyone else into running farther!).  For some reason I couldn't mentally bring myself to run a 2.5 mile out-and-back after they stopped, so I ran a 6 mile loop instead and ended up with 21 miles instead of 20.  I guess you know you're in the depths of marathon training when 6 miles seems easier than 5!  I finished the run feeling really, really good (definitely could have continued to 26.2).  After I finished this run, I drove the 5 minutes back to my house and did my 45 minute strength workout immediately, which I'd told myself I didn't have to do (immediately or at all that day), but I felt completely up for.  Although my long runs haven't been as fast as I was doing last cycle, I could have never done a full strength session after my 20+ mile runs or half marathon races last cycle, so I hope that counts for something!
  • April 28:  20 miles total with the Illinois Half plus 3.1 warm-up and 3.8 cool-down...I did not run a step over 20! 
  • Favorite long run:  I'm double dipping by selecting the same run as I selected as my favorite workout - April 8's 20.5 miler with a workout!  Apparently I am also seeing how many times I can refer to that run in this post, haha!  The half marathon race/long run combos were pretty sweet too, but I threw them out of contention since they were races.  I make the rules up as I go here.  
  • Boston!
    • My friend and coach's wife Kimi Reed placed 8th female in the Boston Marathon!  She was 16 seconds behind Shalane Flanagan and a place ahead of Edna Kiplagat (Edna ran exact time at CIM).  I was in awe!  Training through the terrible Missouri winter sure served her well.  I was so impressed with her performance in a field of professionals.  Times meant nothing in the horrible race day weather, and Kim gritted it out with the best marathoners in the world.  
    • I loved that the second place female, behind Desi, was a non-professional full-time nurse.  
    • Of course I loved that Desi won!  I love her secret to success:  Just keep showing up.  I loved it so much I used it as a title more than once. 
    • I loved that the 5th place woman didn't even start with the elite women, entering the race with a 2:53 PR that she blew away on Marathon Monday.  Simply amazing!  
    • For the first time ever, I've got the itch to run Boston...  My first BQ marathon was in 2004, so I've had 14 years of having no desire to run it (call me crazy, I know, but I hate large cities and crowds).  I have a friend who got on the elite women's start 3 times with a 2:47 marathon PR, so that would eliminate the running in a crowd thing...I am pretty sure I want to run it at some point, but not sure when due to my 2:45:00 obsession preoccupation compulsion neurosis mania craze goal.
  • My friend Jamie ran right on the OTQ standard at CIM in December: 2:45:02 gun time and 2:44:57 chip time.  USATF goes by gun time for the Trials, but they also note that they will accept appeals when it's close and chip time is under.  Finally Jamie found out that she got into the 2020 Trials - actually because I saw her on the list after randomly clicking a link to it that I saw on an article, because I was curious how many women had qualified.  She'd appealed but never heard anything back, but now she's on the official list!  Read more about it on her blog.  I was so happy for her, although I also sure wish she'd have received a much faster answer!  She has been training for Grandma's on the assumption that her CIM time would not be accepted...but I suppose she will just have to go get the A standard there!  Although, at this point the A vs. B standards seem to be a moot point since Atlanta was selected as the Trials host city and plans to pay expenses for all athletes who've qualified!
  • Atlanta was selected to host the 2020 Marathon Trials!  I've never wanted to go to Atlanta until now.  The Trials will also be on Leap Day, 2/29/20 - how fun is that?!
  • No days off again this month; I've run every day since 1/27/18.
  • My Garmin glitched and was out of commission for a mere couple of hours, which sent me into much more of a panic than it should have!  I had to re-set it, and then after every run I did for awhile it told me I'd set new records, since all of my old data was erased (this was a non-issue because I'd uploaded it all; it's on my Garmin Connect account, just not the actual device).  I will say, it was a good boost to be told I was setting records every day for awhile.
  • Since historically I've run un-rested halves in my training builds at about the same pace as my tapered-for full marathons at peak (see Bass Pro Half Marathon 2017 and Kansas City Half Marathon 2017; this also occurred at the Johnston's half marathon when I ran a 1:28 prior to a 2:58), and since I averaged 6:18 for my tempo miles in my recent workout 20 miler, after Rock the Parkway I told my husband that at the rate I'm going if Grandma's goes uber-well I will average 6:18 pace...which would be a 2:45:10.  It probably goes without saying that this would be extremely exciting, but of course I'd then agonize over those 10 seconds until the end of time.  If I were forced to pick a goal pace for Grandma's right now, though, I'd say 6:30ish.  But hopefully someday I can string my performances at Rock the Parkway and the Illinois Half Marathon together (1:22:42 + 1:22:00 = OTQ!), and I think racing those halves with mileage on my legs was helpful towards that goal!
Non-running life events:
  • Easter - He has risen!  Pretty amazing that Jesus died to heal us, mind, body, and soul.
  • It snowed on Saturday, April 7, after sleeting for awhile, so the roads were quite slippery and the wind chill was 8*!  I bumped my long run to Sunday since footing was bad, and ran Sunday's mileage on Saturday very slowly wearing screw shoes.  It snowed again on April 15, but not enough to stick.  I ran in a sports bra on April 30.
  • Albani competed in the Awana Grand Prix after she and Jon dedicated a lot of time to making The Yellow Speeder a fast car.
  • Albani was in a pirate-themed school musical.
  • My parents spent the last weekend of the month with us.  After our Illinois trip, we spent Sunday at church, eating out, and hiking.
  • Work continued to provide additional stress in my life this month.  If I hadn't worked late so many evenings, I'd definitely have written full posts about Boston and about Atlanta hosting the 2020 Trials!
Matching Easter dresses with my little!
My mom loves the grandkids in rabbit ears
We now have a year's supply of Easter candy
(this was 1 of 4 hunts she did!)
My sweet parents
My sister's family
More nieces & nephews + more egg hunting
I love seeing my dad as a grandpa
Cousin love
It snowed twice in April, which is not normal for Missouri
We love our winter weather library trips
The Yellow Speeder

My adorable pirate

I look about as tired as I was this evening!
Race weight isn't everything!
Church pose (Jon hated this photo of him
so I had to crop us out to publish it)
Hiking on our land out in the boonies
I think we should host a trail race here!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Rock the Parkway Half Marathon: You can't always get what you want; but you get what you need!

The short:
I managed a course best, a 3rd overall female placing, and a new single age Missouri state road racing record at the Rock the Parkway half marathon with a 1:22:42 finish (1:22:43 gun time).  I also accomplished a goal I've had for about a year, which was to finish a half marathon with a sub-6:00 mile, when I ran my final mile in 5:52!  While the time isn't near my PR of 1:20:50, considering the course (508 ft of elevation gain), the weather (insane headwind for the final 5.5 miles), my lack of taper (including a 20 mile workout 6 days prior to this race), and all of the workouts I've bombed this year, I was elated with my performance in this race.  I also ran the whole way with smile on my face and thankfulness in my heart!  Based on this race, the Easter Sun Run "10K", and that 20 mile workout, I'm starting to re-gain some confidence and also a kernel of hope that, maybe, just maybe, I will be able to pull off a strong marathon in 9 weeks.

The long:
It's never easy to race a half in the heat of marathon training, and mustering the confidence to do so becomes even more difficult when the course is hilly and the weather windy!  I never expected to run a PR at Rock the Parkway; even in ideal weather conditions it would be unrealistic to think that I could improve my time from a nearly pancake flat course on the hills of Kansas City, and the 20+ mph winds assured me that they'd steal a lot of precious time from my final 5.5 miles.  I went into the race focused on placing as high as I could (hopefully in the prize money), and disregarding my watch.  There was a little part of me that kept thinking that maybe I could beat my Rock the Parkway 2017 time, though, since 2017 was similarly stupid windy.
Not flat
In the elite starting area, I knew one woman who would be miles ahead of me (she is a pro who runs for the Army and was 6th in the USATF National Cross-Country Championships), and she was with another woman who looked just as fast but was unknown to me.  After the gun, those two were out fast, along with a blond ponytail.  I settled into pace with three ladies I knew, Janell, Michelle, and Liz.  I follow Janell's training on Strava and hypothesized that her fitness and mine were very similar, I keep in touch with Michelle and did a training run with her on March 24 in Kansas, and I'd raced Liz in the Big 12 12K.  In my head I called us "the chase pack."  We got out nice and relaxed and chatting.  My split for mile 1 was the only time I looked at my watch during the race, because I felt like we went out very conservatively (we did, it was 6:34)...then I embraced effort-based/competition-based racing!

Janell started to speed up a bit as we eased into the race, and I went along with her, leaving Michelle and Liz.  A man around us asked Janell what she was aiming for pace-wise, and she said 6:15ish.  I told her I had about the same pace in mind and asked if she wanted to work together.  She did, and we fell into running side by side, and picked off the unknown fast looking girl around mile 3 and the blond ponytail around mile 4.  That put us in 2nd and 3rd female positions.
This pretty much summarizes the entire race - all smiles!
We chatted about training, racing, coaches, work, mutual running friends, etc. and the miles flew by.  The pace felt brisk but relaxed.  I felt cautiously confident, but racing a half on marathon training legs is always a little risky; you might go from good to the wheels coming off from cumulative fatigue in the blink of an eye.  Running with Janell was very enjoyable, we talked and encouraged each other, and countless people cheered "go girls!"/"2nd and 3rd women"/"you're beating most of the men", etc.  As we passed the 10K mark and continued onto a loop around a park, I reveled in how much better I felt than at that point in the race last year.  I also was very thankful to work together with Janell after a bad experience last year in this race where a female competitor sat on me and would not work with me or go around me until mile 12.  I knew that in the end, we would each be gunning for 2nd place, but I also knew that by working together we were going to both come away with faster times, and I'd take a faster time over moving up a place any day.
When you run a race with someone 6 inches
shorter than you & probably 40 lbs lighter,
you look like a giant in all of your photos!
As the course turned around mile 7.5, we were hit by the brutal southwest wind.  To add insult to injury, that point on the course has a hill that I've always struggled with in this race (in addition to 2017, I also ran it in 2015, pre-blog).  Janell was pushing the pace so we could catch up to some men to potentially draft off of, and I was hanging onto her but starting to doubt myself.  We flew by the men so they were of no drafting help.  For the next several miles, we battled the wind mostly side by side.  At some points she'd pull a little ahead of me, and at others I'd pull a little away from her.  I think we both went through tough patches at different points, and kept pulling each other through.  We continued to pick off man after the man as we ran 5.5 miles into the brutal wind.  No one passed us the entire race!
Into the wind during the final 5K
I knew that Janell has more speed than I do, so the competitor in me knew if I wanted to grab 2nd overall I was going to have to go sooner rather than later.  During the last 5K our talking had slowed down as we fought the headwind, and I vacillated between trying to surge ahead and not wanting to disrupt working with her.  The wind made it difficult to make a move, and although I'd pull a little ahead at times, she was always right with me.  At the mile 12 sign, I knew I had to go then to have a chance.  I started pushing with all I had, telling myself "just 1 mile", willing my legs to turn over.  I pulled away somewhat, but with about a half mile left she really turned it on, pulling me back in and passing me, and I couldn't hang onto her.  She pulled me along through a 5:52 final mile and a 5:18 pace final 0.1, something I'd have never done on my own (Strava said the GAP for the final mile was 6:00 exactly with the downhill, but I'm still counting the sub-6:00!).  She grabbed 2nd overall (and a new PR!), I claimed 3rd, and we hugged in the finish chute.  Runners really are the greatest people.  I then watched Michelle come in in 4th overall position!

Double chin finishing shots are my specialty
As I was changing my shoes for my cool down in a parking lot, two ladies walked by laughing (albeit painfully, as it had started to lightly rain at 41 degrees with 20+ mph winds!) about how they couldn't find their car.  One was in running gear and looked cold, so I offered her my space blanket.  She accepted and exclaimed, "Runners are the greatest people!"
Michelle and I after our cool down together
Official results can be found here.  My state record for age 37 can be seen here.  I'd completely forgotten that the state record was attainable for me (it was 1:23:11); I'd unsuccessfully tried for it when I first turned 37 at the Bass Pro Half Marathon, which ended up not being a certified course that year anyway.  I was running with Jessi the day after the race, also the day after after she set the Missouri State University school record in the 3000 m (9:41 - so fast!!), and she humbly said it was a weaker record because it was a less common distance.  I said, "That's why I broke the 12K state record when I ran only about the same pace as the half marathon state record..." Then I realized, "I broke the half marathon state record yesterday!"  I am glad I didn't remember it beforehand, because I probably would have put pressure on myself to get it, and that mindset rarely goes well for me.
Just keeping up my pre-race tradition when I go
to an event solo
God knew I needed someone to run this race with to keep me out of my own head, and he gave me that.  While I've spent the past 4 months desperate to run as well as I was running leading up to CIM, I've also learned to accept that I'm not going to nail every run, I'm not going to PR every workout and race, and I'm not guaranteed another solid marathon (or even another marathon finish) this season, or ever.  But, I am getting what I need, whether I understand it or not.  I'll continue to do my best and let Him handle the rest!
Now to run 1 second/mile faster for twice the distance...

Monday, April 9, 2018

Believe you can and you're halfway there

I've heard the claim that distance running is 90% mental and 10% physical, and although I'm not sure those percentages are exactly accurate, I think we can all agree that the mental aspect of training and racing is huge.  I have yet to figure out how to strike a balance between being realistic but not pessimistic, and being confident but not over-confident.  Running beyond your capabilities early in a race or workout is nearly always a recipe for disaster, especially with long races.  No one ever says, "I'm sure glad I believed I could go out 45 seconds faster per mile than I'd trained for in that marathon!"  But, on the other hand, believing you can accomplish something is typically a prerequisite for actually accomplishing it.

My running in 2018 has had it's ups and downs, but overall it simply has not been as fast, strong, or consistent as I ran during my CIM build up.  While I believe that the mileage I'm putting in is going to help me pursue my big marathon goals, I also can't force paces that currently aren't there.  I had a couple of good races in March, and also some workouts that have reassured me that I haven't lost everything, but those have been the exception rather than the norm.  Realistically I know that it's unlikely I will match or better my marathon PR this build, and I'm okay with that.  I enjoy the training process, and even if I knew I'd never run faster than 2:47:14 I would still keep racing marathons.

I had a big key somewhat scary marathon workout over the weekend.  Workouts like this are extremely important because they are few and far between.  If you nail them they are very confidence-boosting; if you fail them you may have to re-evaluate your marathon goals.  I thrive on these long workouts and I was so excited for this one that I didn't consider that everything was stacked against me until after the workout.

The workout was 3.5 mile warm up, 2 x 4 mile tempo + 2 x 2 mile tempo with 0.5 recovery jogs between the tempos, 3.5 miles cool down.  That's 12 miles of work within a 20 mile long run (the 20.5 was me over-achieving on the warm up that only had to be 3 miles).  My tempo range was broad:  6:03-6:26, aiming to start at the top of the range and work down.  When I saw the workout on paper, I knew I could do it.  I kept coming back to one of my favorite verses before and during the workout, "God is within her; she will not fall." - Psalms 46:5

In retrospect, really nothing I've run lately indicated that I could actually do it, so I have no real explanation for why I believed I could (especially because I've looked at most other workouts on my schedule lately and known that I couldn't do them).  In all of my past training cycles, before running a workout like this I've run an easy 20 miler, but due to how my half marathon races lined up this season, I hadn't done that this time around.  In fact, the farthest I'd run was 17 miles, and it wasn't even a good 17 (I was supposed to fast finish it but it was all I could do to hold onto 7:15 pace through the end)!  This workout also came earlier in the cycle than it typically does, being 10 weeks before the marathon compared to it usually being about 6 weeks out.  I've failed more workouts than I've hit this season.  Really the only indication that I might be able to pull this off was my solid 6.5 mile 10K the previous weekend.

Here is what I did for the split tempos and recoveries (I split off the warm up and cool down miles):

All of my splits were in my target range, starting at 6:25 and finishing at 6:04.  As with every split tempo I ever run, the hardest miles were the ones after the recovery jogs (the split is really more for your mind than your body, and my body sure doesn't like slowing down then re-starting, but it does help me run the final mile of each portion a little faster).  I averaged 6:18 pace for the tempo miles, and even with having 1.5 miles of recovery jogging in there I came through the half marathon point at 1:24:50ish.  This was significant to me since I have only run under 1:25 in 5 halves - one time each at 1:20, 1:21, 1:22, 1:23, and 1:24 (although I have done it 4 other times in one or both halves of a full marathon).  Edit:  I forgot to count the 2017 Kansas City Half Marathon, although I'm not exactly sure what time to count that one as due to the course snafu (probably 1:23), so this should be 6 halves...but as of 4/28/17, update that to 8 halves (plus 4 times in fulls).  So many disclaimers here now and this statistic no longer seems impressive, but 1:25 was a big deal for me for a long time!

I've run similar workouts in all of my recent marathon builds, and typically my average on the work portions is quite close to what I end up running in the marathon.  Before CIM, I averaged 6:20 on the work miles (then went on to average 6:22 in the race); before Phoenix I averaged 6:27 on the work miles (then went on to average 6:27 in the race); before Prairie Fire/Bass Pro I averaged something like 6:45 for the work miles (then averaged 6:42-6:47 in those races).  In all fairness, this time around the weather was the best I've ever had for this workout at about 30* and only 6 mph wind, so that sure didn't hurt.

I don't think this one workout means I'm out of the woods as far as running hot and cold this build, but it sure made me happy!  I've been desperately searching for a pattern of what results in good runs vs. bad runs for me this year, and I can't really find any reliable one.  I do know, though, that believing I could run this workout, as unrealistic as that probably was, didn't hurt.  When Grandma's gets closer, I'll know realistically what pace to target, whether it's 6:17 or 6:40, and I will believe I can run it.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Embracing effort-based racing: Easter Sun Run "10K"

Easter Sun Run Races

Post-race pose
As with the Big 12 12K, I changed my mind about running this race about 500 times, due to lacking consistency in training and confidence.  I went into the race un-rested and expecting very little out of myself, but my coach suggested using it as tempo effort and I figured I would aim to enjoy myself and try for an overall placing.  I decided before the race that I would run by effort and with my competition, without looking at my splits, because I imagined myself getting discouraged when my times weren't what I'd like to see, which has happened in several recent workouts.
My mom said my ponytail was on fire on the starting line
I went out conservatively, and quickly found myself in second place female, behind last year's female winner who I knew would again dominate.  Being in second early surprised me, especially because I felt like I went out pretty slow.  Around a half mile into the race, Curt, a man I've raced and trained with when in Wichita before, pulled up beside me.  I could feel my effort level increase as I fell into running with him, but it still felt sustainable and I was able to talk, so I decided to pace with him.
Trying to hang on to Curt
When the course had an out-and-back section around mile 4, I saw that I had almost as much ground on the third woman as the first woman had on me (e.g., a lot!), so baring disaster there was not going to be any female place changing.  Curt and I passed a couple of men, moving him into 5th male, which I'd been encouraging him to go get since the top 5 places received prize money.  He then left me in the dust in the final mile, but I maintained my effort and felt good about giving what I had.  When I neared the end and saw the finishing clock still in the 38s, I was surprised, because the course measures closer to 6.5 miles (some 10K, right?!), and last year I barely broke 40:00 on it.  My official gun time was 39:11 (official results are here), but I would have run in the mid-37s on an accurate course, rivaling my 10K road PR of 37:30.  I was also happy to take second overall female, even though it was a very distant second (first ran around 5:30 pace).
Great scenery near the finishing chute
This makes me 2 for 2 on March races that ended up a lot better for me than I thought my training indicated I'd run.  The Tuesday and Thursday before this race I could barely run 400 m. and 1:00, respectively, at 6:02 pace, and on this race day I ran 6.5 miles at that pace with almost completely even pacing (my Garmin splits were all within 6 seconds of each other, which I was extremely pumped about).  The weather was far better for the race than for either of those workouts, and latching onto Curt certainly helped, but I am starting to feel like I just need to get out of my own head and ditch my watch.  I also do truly believe that racing by effort and feel is the best way to race, but I am just not brave enough to do it in a goal race!
Albani's favorite part of the event
Creepy Easter bunny
An octopus may be an uncommon face paiting request
After my race and cool-down, I watched Albani run her first 2 mile race.  She'd been really optimistic about it since she'd run a 5K without walking in January.  My parents were spectating, we were all excited to see her run, and she was insistent that she didn't want me to run with her.  For whatever reason (possibly Easter candy, since she did an egg hunt during my race!), she didn't have as enjoyable of an experience this time around and had to walk.  She told me next year that she wanted to just watch me run and do the egg hunt at this race.  I think she was also disappointed that she didn't win an award, so I gave her my medal, which cheered her up some.  I always leave it up to her whether or not she wants to run races, because I want her to enjoy running and not feel like she ever has to do it, but I hope this experience doesn't dampen her outlook on running.

I also hope she is not paying attention when I change my mind 500 times about running races!
Pre-race excitement

I wouldn't let her go farther up than the 8 minute mile sign
Just look at those big blue eyes!

My dad's videos from the race:
Around mile 5
Awards Ceremony

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Books in 2018 - First Quarter

I decided to keep a list of my 2018 reads.  I read every night; I have a difficult time falling asleep if I don't.  Some of my friends kept lists of the number of books they read in 2017, and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?  I was going to publish my book list at the end of the year, but I guess I read more than I realize, especially during cold weather, so I decided to break it up into quarters so my posts didn't become excessively long.

  • Finding Noel by Richard Paul Evans - I actually finished reading this on New Years Eve 2017, but I'm counting it anyhow!  I picked up this one after reading The Gift by the same author.  I recommend both.
  • Evergreen by Susan May Warren - A quick touching winter read.
  • The Last Word by Lisa Lutz - This is the 6th book in the Spellman Files series. I read books 1-3 in the series in 2017 and ideally would have continued on in order, but 4-5 seemed to never be in at my library so I jumped ahead.  This is a series that you can read out of order and still understand, although the OCD in me hated doing this (the impatience in me won out though!).  These books are set in San Franciso, which I enjoyed after visiting there in December.
  • Catching Moondrops by Jennifer Erin Valent - Nice story that I read on my trip to the Houston Marathon.
  • A Winter Dream by Richard Paul Evans - Another great read from this author, and another one I read on the Houston Marathon trip.
  • Finding Stefanie by Susan May Warren - I didn't realize this was the third book in a 3-book series until I finished it and read blurbs on the other two books in the appendix.  Oops!  But it was fine to read as a stand alone, because each book focuses on a different character in a sibling set of three.
  • Grace by Richard Paul Evans - I'm going to read all of his books.  They are well-written, moving, and thought-provoking.  They also have Christian undertones, some obvious but more subtle.
  • The Spellmans Strike Again by Lisa Lutz - The 4th book in the Spellman Files series (mentioned in January).  I had to put this one on hold at the library to finally get it; I was inspired to do this by Albani placing a couple of books on hold there.
  • The Letter by Richard Paul Evans - Like I said, I'm reading every book he has written!
  • Trail of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz - Finishing off the Spellman Files series with "Document #5", which like the fourth book in the series I had to put a hold on to get from our library.  I highly recommend the series.
  • Lost December by Richard Paul Evans - A good read even in February!  It's all part of winter...
  • One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline - She is another of my favorite authors, and I couldn't put this one down.  She is good at actions and unexpected twists.
  • Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling -  I thought The Mindy Project TV show was hilarious, so gave this one a go.  It was funny but I've read better memoirs.
  • The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd - Guess I'll have to watch the movie now (I am sure it is not nearly as good as the book!). 
  • The Locket by Richard Paul Evans - All of his books are winners, and I'm sorry if I'm being redundant about that.
  • Last Meal by Paul Ibbetson - Paul is my brother-in-law and has published several books!  I thought I'd read all of them, but my husband pulled this one out after Paul was approached about making it into a movie, and I'd missed it somehow so picked it up.  It's set in Southeast Kansas, where I used to live, and fiction based on a true story.  Buy it on Amazon!
  • You'll Grow Out of It by Jessi Kline - This one was recommended to me somewhere, but I can't remember where...I also recommend it because it was pretty humorous.
  • Promise Me by Richard Paul Evans - Another great story by this author!  I continue to enjoy his style of writing and themes.
  • The Mistletoe Secret by Richard Paul Evans - Clearly a Christmas read, but I think I've already demonstrated that I am not waiting to finish these amazing books.
  • The Looking Glass by Richard Paul Evans - This is the second book in a trilogy, with The Locket being the first book.
  • Corrupted by Lisa Scottoline - Another twist-filled story by this great author.
  • A Perfect Day by Richard Paul Evans - I think it's become clear I'm going to read everything of his that my library has.
  • The Grownup by Gillian Flynn - This is the author of Gone Girl, and that is clear form her story-telling style.  It was a little vulgar for my taste, as was Gone Girl.
  •  Haddassah The Girl Who Became Queen Ester by Tommy Tenney - Historical fiction, which I enjoyed for the most part, but some inaccurate additions from the biblical story made me cringe.
  • The Orange House by Paul Griffin -  I finished this one because it was short, but I didn't love it.  Normally if I don't love a book I don't force myself to finish it just for the sake of completing it, because there are so many great ones out there I could be reading instead!  10 years ago I always made myself finish books I started, so I like to think I've evolved.
  • The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green - I recommend everything by Jane Green and was happy to find one I hadn't read yet!
Part 2 coming at the end of June!