Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Marathon Mania!

Ever since I started marathoning, I've typically either been marathon training or injured at any given point in time.  Therefore, it almost goes without saying that now that I'm not injured, I'm marathon training!
I am this excited about marathons!
I considered several options for marathons in 2019.  Much like real estate is all about location, location, location, marathoning can come down to timing, timing, timing!  There are some really good marathons in January and February (Houston, Arizona Rock 'n' Roll, BMO Mesa-Phoenix), but I didn't have enough time to train for those.  Then there is Boston in April, and my coach thought I should try to get into the elite field, but thinking about investing so much money and logistical inconvenience into trying to run Boston made me nervous coming off an injury (plus U.S. women's marathoning is so on fire right now, I don't really think a 2:47 would have gotten me in).  There really aren't any other obvious choices for fast marathons with thick fields in the spring, so in the end I landed on going back to Grandma's on June 22!  This will give me plenty of time to get back into top shape.  I loved the event and a lot of women OTQ there; really my only hesitation is due to the risk of warm weather, but I think every spring marathon has the risk of crap weather.

But June is an awfully long way away, and although I believe I need the time to get into PR marathon form, I don't particularly want to wait that long to run a marathon, especially since I missed CIM 2018.  I just love running marathons!  The inaugural Chisholm Trail Marathon on March 24 was one that had been on my radar this past fall, but I thought I'd only do it if I got the 2:45 standard at CIM, because I don't think I can PR there -- I just don't see it being a very large event so I would expect to be time trialing it, much like I did for 20 miles of the Prairie Fire Marathon, plus Kansas weather in March is volatile to say the least.  But I am currently in a different situation of not chasing a PR this spring, so I decided to run Chisholm Trail for fun/no time goal, then build from there to Grandma's.  There are 13 weeks between races so it works out pretty nicely to take a week off then do a 12 week build that doesn't start from scratch.  My training will be targeted at Grandma's, but Chisholm Trail will be a fun little checkpoint.

I also want to go back to CIM on December 8, which fits nicely into this plan.

I'm pretty pumped to get back to marathoning!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

2018 Running Highlights

I recently read my Top 5 Running Highlights of 2017 when searching for my yearly mileage history list.  I was correct when I noted in that post that 2017 would be hard to top!  My 2018 running wasn't quite what I wanted, but I have a lot to be thankful for.

My Instagram Top 9 wasn't far off!
My Highlights Were:

With 3,047 miles, I ran my highest yearly mileage ever, surpassing my 2017 mileage by 4 miles (the 2017 mileage was a huge yearly mileage PR).  I had 8 weeks of mileage in the 80s, which before this year I had only done for 1 week, in 2017.  All other "normal" training weeks were in the 60s-70s; the weeks that were not that high were when I was tapering, recovering, injured, or returning from injury - the majority of those when I was healthy were in the 50s, but several were big fat zeros when I was injured.  I am pretty pumped that I managed a yearly mileage PR with 8 weeks of downtime, and I know I can improve it next year if I don't get injured.  I counted my AlterG treadmill miles in this total, which feels a little like cheating, but I did run the distance so I'm keeping them (my outside miles are around 160 less).

I ran a huge 10K PR.  Everything really came together for the Plaza 10K even though I did not rest for it or do any 10K-specific training.  Although I was extremely disappointed that my fall season was cut short, I am so thankful that I got this race in before I got injured.  I was thrilled to better my track best on a rolling road course, but more importantly it really showed me how well my body responded to consistent higher mileage training (higher mileage is all relative, I know 70-80 is nothing for some but it is the most I've ever done).  I'd been targeting running a 36:59 10K for over a year, but I really never thought I'd be able to run a 36:34 on the road.

I ran two solid marathons.  Although I did not accomplish my time goal in Houston, it was a great experience and I'm glad I went for it.  I am proud to say that my complete bonk/bad day marathon there was a 2:54.  Grandma's wasn't what I dreamed of when I selected the race, but based on how terrible I felt for most of the build up, I am proud that I pulled off a 2:49:08 and my second fastest marathon.  I sure hope I have more in me as far as marathon PRs go, but regardless I sure enjoy the training process and the races!

I set two Missouri single age state records, in the half marathon at Rock the Parkway and the 12K at the Big 12 12K.  Neither are great times, but they are currently the best a 37-year-old female in Missouri has managed.  I bombed nearly every run in the months leading up to those races, so even though I don't think I ran good times, I do think I ran really well compared to how I was performing in training.

I persisted.  In February, March, and April I had an illness and a slump (which was extra hard since I was coming off of several break-through performances in fall 2017), but I kept running every single day.  I raced beyond what my training said I should have in everything I raced for the first 6 months of the year.  I was injured in September, but I did everything I could to strengthen my weaknesses and to return to training.  I kept showing up!

I learned.  I learned how much consistent mileage helps my race times.  I learned to be more cautious about running when sick, and about running and racing on potential injuries.  I re-learned just how much I love the sport and how empty I feel without it.  I learned that my running friends mean the world to me.

I re-prioritized.  My biggest goal is to run for the rest of my life.  This is more important than any PR.  That doesn't mean my Big Goal has changed, just that it's decidedly second on the list, at best.

I was more thankful.  I still have a ways to go in this arena, but I did better.  I've always been pretty bad about wanting more and more, in running and in other aspects of my life.  Looking back, I haven't appreciated many milestones and PRs because I was already onto my next goal.  The first time I broke 3:00 in the marathon, I left the finish chute ecstatic but also thinking, "I can run faster."  I distinctly remember waiting for my flight at the Phoenix airport following my break-through 2:49 marathon emailing my coach saying I wanted to train for a 2:45, instead of relishing in the moment.  I wasn't nearly as happy about my 2:47 at CIM as I should have been, because it wasn't "enough" compared to a very specific cut-off time.  We rarely appreciate the moment enough when we are in it.  I regret that I didn't savor those moments, but this year I found more joy in my performance at Grandma's Marathon than in any of those marathons, even though it wasn't a PR.  I really let myself ride a high after my PR at the Plaza 10K.  I do want more, but if I never get more I will still find great joy in the process.  I am more thankful than ever now.

I helped others.  Whenever someone tells me that I helped them, I am reminded why I was given my passion for running.  I typically don't realize I'm doing it, but whether it's by answering running questions, giving training advice, encouraging others, inviting someone to join our group runs, listening to my friends when we run together, helping my local running club, or making individualized training schedules for friends free of charge, I have opportunities to give back often.  That has to be why God made me a runner.  I know I'll remember all of the people that running has brought into my life more than I'll remember any PR; however...

Bring on 2019 training blocks and goal races!  I have a long way to go to get back to my best fitness, but I'm ready to try!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Building Mileage & Perspective: December 2018 in Review

December 2018 in Review

Total mileage for the month:  316.3 -- in comparison:  January - 207, February - 254, March - 298, April - 307, May - 355, June - 232, July - 290, August - 357, September - 305, October - 10, November - 114.  This was a good mileage month, but only about 5 of those miles were fast (I am not even kidding)!

In 2018 I ran 3,047 miles total, which was a yearly mileage PR!  I ran 3,043 in 2018 (see #4 here), and I thought because of my calf injury this year I wouldn't be able to beat that, but in the end I did!

Full story:  I looked at my year-to-date total on Dec. 2 and although I'd never cared much about yearly totals before then, I suddenly felt it would be a complete tragedy if I didn't make it over 3,000 this year.  So I did the math and suddenly had a goal of running at least 62.5 miles a week for the rest of the year, as long as my calf continued to feel 100%.  I ended up with weekly totals over that and began closing in on my 2017 total, but I didn't expect to beat it until with 4 days left in the year, I checked it and saw that 40 more miles would get me there.  40 miles in 4 days is completely reasonable, so I decided to go for it.
  • Nov. 26-Dec. 2:  52.4 (31 AlterG)
    • Plus 4:05 cardio cross-training, 2:30 strength training
  • Dec. 3-9:  64.8 (22 AlterG)
    • Plus 1:30 cardio cross-training, 2:50 strength training
  • Dec. 10-16: 72.8 (11 AlterG)
    • Plus 2:46 strength training (0 cardio cross-training from here on!!!)
  • Dec. 17-12:  75.5 (12 AlterG)
    • Plus 2:40 strength training
  • Dec. 24-30:  80.1 (10 AlterG)
    • Plus 2:16 strength training
  • Dec. 31-Jan. 6:  73.7 (11.5 AlterG)
    • Plus 2:42 strength training
Merry Christmas!
Races:
  • I had the final DNS of my injury, missing the California International Marathon.  This DNS burned the worst by far.  I'm hoping to return to the magic of CIM in 2019, though.

Workouts:
  • Dec. 13 - At the hill closest to the end of my run, I completed 4 x 1:00ish hill repeats.  Hill repeats are hard for me even when I'm in shape, and these were tough for a mere 4:00 of hard running!  I didn't time them exactly or take my paces on them, just ran from a sign to a mailbox that took me about a minute the first time, then repeated it 3 times before jogging back to where I was parked.  Hills are a great way to get speed work with less impact, and I was scared of everything except hills sprints and strides this month.
  • Dec. 28 - I finally bit the bullet and ran a real workout - 3 mile tempo at 6:36 via 6:43, 6:43, 6:24 (2.1 warm up, 2.3 cool down).  I chose the windiest day to do this, but also figured that would mean I'd for sure improve on my next workout.  I wasn't sure what to expect so I ran this by feel, as I am usually pretty good at zeroing in on tempo effort.  I did look at my mile splits, and my main thought at mile 2 was "I may have lost my speed, but at least I didn't lose my ability to run consistent splits!".  This run reminded me that it takes me 2 miles of any tempo to get into a groove and feel good, but I was still sure glad to stop after 3 hard miles!  I'm very thankful to be running and to have the opportunity to re-gain fitness, but it's sure hard not to compare.  I kept thinking "I have no idea how I used to run marathons averaging paces in the 6:20s!" but I also know that improvements come much faster when you haven't run workouts in a long time...here's hoping [Jan. 1 note - I did improve in my second workout back]!  I wore two Garmins on this run: my old 220 and new 235, and they had all of my mile splits within 2 seconds of each other so unfortunately my disappointing pace was pretty accurate.
  • Doubles on Dec. 18, and 26.  My 80 mile week during the final week of the month was the first time I hit 80 with only 1 double!
  • Strides on Dec. 10, 18, 23, and 26.
  • Full body strength workouts:  I started listing my weekly strength training totals with my weekly mileage above.  Most of my strength routine uses body weight (e.g., planks, push ups, walking lunges) or resistance bands (e.g., clamshells, monster walks, glue bridges), but I do some weighted moves (e.g., squats, deadlifts, rows). 
I ran 10 miles in this ugly Christmas sweater!
8* is less cold with friends, but apparently
feels colder to me than to Amy!
Long Runs:
  • Dec. 1:  I tagged my 7.2 miles (7:36) as a long run on Strava, because when your outdoor runs have been 0 for 8 weeks, 7.2 is long!  While the duration of the run seemed short, it also seemed like a long way to run, if that makes any sense at all.  It was a nice one, with my running buddies Amy R., Elise, Rebecca, and Claudio on farm roads in 48 degrees.  I can't say that I like being the one running the shortest distance, however.
  • Dec. 8:  12.2 miles (7:39) with my amazing friends Missy and Rebecca on a cold and windy morning!  I also ran 10 miles (7:26) for my midweek long run with Rebecca that week, on Dec. 5, which was my first double digit run outside post-injury!
  • Dec. 15:  14 miles (7:19) with a wonderful group (Rebecca, Missy, Jackie, Danielle, and Claudio...I told Claudio he was in for a lot of estrogen!).  Early on some of the 7:10ish miles felt a bit hot, and I sure felt the long inclines in miles 10-11, but my final 2 miles were my fastest (7:05, 6:50) and I was happy to average 20 sec/mile faster than the previous week, going 2 miles farther.  The upside of returning from injury is that you improve much more rapidly than when you're fit!  I'd had a few daily runs that were around 7:15 pace by this point in my comeback, but they'd been 5-6 milers, so this was really solid for where I was at.  I then ended up running 12.2 miles the next day on Dec. 16 (oops - but the pace was slower at 7:57).
  • Dec. 21:  16.2 miles (7:49) with Missy, before work.  This seemed like a really good idea until my alarm sounded at 4:00 a.m. the Friday morning of the run!  Shortly after, Missy texted me, "What were we thinking??!"  We'd planned on a pace over 30 seconds/mile faster than this, but it just wasn't the day for it.  After hearing the wind whipping around all night, we decided that even 8:00 pace would be fine and we'd consider it time on feet.  It was very windy, but I think most of my problem was eating crappy the day before at Christmas events and probably also getting used to the miles...after all, I did go from a long run of 7.2 to 16.2 in 3 weeks!  It didn't seem that long (thanks to my super long cross-training sessions that weren't nearly as fun), but for the remainder of the day my body sure reminded me that I hadn't run this distance in almost 3 months.  But whenever you run 16 miles before the sun comes up, you accomplished something - plus Missy is awesome!
  • Dec. 24:  14 miles (7:59) on Christmas Eve for an unscheduled but excellent long run!  I met up with April to run the Chisholm Trail Marathon course in Wichita while visiting my parents for Christmas, which ended up being the perfect Christmas Eve bonus long run.  The course is two loops of 13.1 miles, and she had a 14 miler scheduled so I of course ended up running the extra mile.  The run went by really quickly and felt more like 7 miles instead of 14, and we only made one wrong turn when navigating the course from my memory (i.e., the course is very easy to follow even completely unmarked)!
  • Dec. 29:  14 miles (7:39) mostly before dawn.  I ran the first 7 with Elise, Amy, and Rebecca at around 8:00 pace, then did a progressive-ish 6 at around 7:20 pace because I felt good!  We ran a 13 mile loop but when I got back to my car I decided to tack on another mile for 14 (funny, initially I'd planned a cut back long run of 12 this week but ended up with two 14s instead).  I would have run 15-16, or maybe even 18, if I hadn't been on a time crunch to get home because Jon had to leave...and that was a nice feeling that I hadn't experienced on a long run recently!  I followed this up with 11.6 miles the next day.
  • Favorite long run:  All of them!  I love every single run!
My new compression socks!
Elise bought the same pack & we both wore a pair on 12/16
Cross-Training:
  • I supplemented a little with cross-training as I worked up my mileage, but nothing like the previous two months (thank God)!  The earliest I can start running on the AlterG is 6:15 a.m. (and I pulled a lot of strings to make that happen - the first appointment for it is actually at 7:00 a.m.), so some days I ran on it at the beginning of the month I did 30 minutes on the bike or elliptical at home before, because I can't sleep past 5:00 a.m.  That died off pretty quickly though, hah.
Reflecting with Amy on 12/13 (it was in the 40s this morning!)
This is why Amy is usually in charge of post-
run photos - Kansas City run w/ Jessi on 12/17
This is how dark it is when we finish weekday runs...
Highlights/thoughts/randomness:
  • Stopping cross-training was a highlight, for sure!  Wow, I need running in my life.  I fully believe that nothing helps your running more than running more.
  • My first week back to running was rough, even though I ran 52 miles (only 21 outside, with 31 on the AlterG though).  I felt like I'd lost everything and 3-4 mile easy paced runs were so hard it blew my mind to think that just 2 month prior I'd been running that for my second run of the day after running 3 times as far in the morning.  7 miles was really long on Dec. 1 and I truly didn't want to run any farther.  I was very discouraged.  The second week, though, I turned a corner and running felt good again!  I got super excited for each run and they kept getting easier.  The 10 miles I ran on Dec. 5 was easier than the 4 miles I ran on Dec. 2.  I felt encouraged.  The third week was even better, and so forth!  My first workout back was also very discouraging, but I'm thankful I can try to improve.
  • I built my mileage back up rather quickly post-injury, but my easy pace is slower and I did 5 weeks of easy running without workouts (I finally got brave enough to try a workout at 5 weeks, 1 day). 
  • However, slow running is so much better than no running, and at this point I don't even care if I never PR again.  I enjoyed running with friends and never thinking about pace (in general I let whoever I was running with set the pace). 
  • I was not coached this month, and although I enjoyed running whatever I wanted, I was also reminded how easy it is for me to over-train myself.  I had a general idea of what I planned to run each day (I even wrote out a rough plan at the beginning of the month), but my approach quickly turned to matching the mileage of whoever I was running with if it was farther.  "I planned to do 8, but sure I'll run 12 with you; who cares that I ran 14 yesterday?!", "I was thinking I'd do 10, but 14 works just fine too!", etc.  
  • In related news, I will be starting back with my coach on January 1, as clearly I need someone to save me from myself.  I'd considered training myself for my "for fun" March marathon (more info on that to come), and although I can write a good training schedule I am super apt to add things, which can come back to bite me.  I hope to build from March for time goals in June and December marathons.
  • I got a new Garmin for Christmas!  I wouldn't have bought one for myself until my 220 died, but my husband thought I'd like it.  He was right - I love my new 235.  It was the only reason I doubled in Dec. 26; it was windy and wet outside but after opening it in a final gift exchange with my immediate family I was super excited to get out and try it.
  • Winter running is here!  I'll run in about anything temperature-wise, but bitter cold is my least favorite.  I've been so thankful to be running I haven't even cared though!  Most winters I'm scared that I'll have to run on the treadmill, but after putting in so many miles on the AlterG I'm not even worried about that (although I still plan to/hope to avoid it!).  I don't have any more AlterG runs planned, but if the weather forces me indoors I'll use it over a standard treadmill to get miles with less impact once in awhile.  This already happened on New Years Eve; I cannot quite manage 38 degrees and pouring rain.
Life events:
  • Christmas-themed everything!  I wasn't the best at taking pictures, but we did a Christmas parade, put out outdoor Christmas decorations (our tree and indoor decorations were completed in November), and ate some Christmas treats.
  • Albani had a terrible stomach bug the second weekend of the month so we stayed home all weekend.  I could not believe how much puke came out of such a small body, and I felt terrible for her.  I ran, read 3 books, and cleaned up vomit all weekend.
  • For Christmas we visited my parents/siblings from Dec. 22-24 and Jon's parents/siblings from Dec. 24-25.  It was hard to narrow down which photos to share!  We are certainly blessed.
  • For New Years Eve we saw an early movie as a family, and I was asleep before 10:00 p.m., which was everything I hoped for.
Cold weather indoor entertainment
Those are my PJ pants!
Gingerbread house building
Stockings at our house
Pre-Christmas church service
Christmas at my parents'
Cousin cuteness
Cousin craziness

My loves on Christmas Day
Family Christmas photo