Sunday, June 30, 2019

June Reflections & Review

June 2019 in Review

Total mileage for the month: 252.1
  • May 27-June 2: 70.1 (2:03 strength training)
  • June 3-9:  77 (2:08 strength training)
  • June 10-16:  62.6 (1:44 strength training)
  • June 17-23:  51.7 (0:25 strength training)
  • June 24-30:  32.2 (0:30 strength training)
After my final little workout before Grandma's
Farm road running for the win
  • June 22:  Grandma's Marathon in 2:47:44.  While this wasn't a 2:45:00, it was my best marathon yet (30 seconds off my PR, on a slower course).  It's difficult to be upset about a 2:47, but it's also difficult to be content with a 2:47...lots of details here.
  • June 4:  2 x 2.5 mile tempos with 2:00 recovery in 5:56, 5:58, 2:56 / 6:02, 5:53, 2:57 (3.2 warm up, 3.6 cool down).  After a couple weeks of feeling weak on workouts (related to bronchitis), I felt strong again on this one and it was a much needed confidence-boost since workouts before the marathon were quickly winding down at this point!  My 5:57 average was my best tempo workout of the season, in 66* and 95%  humidity.
  • June 8:  6 miles at MGP, 1 mile tempo, 5 miles at MGP, 1 mile tempo (continuous; no recoveries) in 6:17, 6:13, 6:17, 6:13, 6:12, 6:12, 5:55, 6:15, 6:12, 6:12, 6:14, 6:12, 6:04 (then 5:57 pace for 0.11 because I had to run to 13.11!), with 2.2 warm up and 3 cool down.  This amounted to a 1:21:15 half marathon and I wrote about the details here.  I was thankful to almost hit this one; the final mile was supposed to be sub-6:00 so I came up 5 seconds short - but I averaged 6:13 on the MGP miles (supposed to be 6:15 this day, although 6:17 would do on marathon day!), so maybe it evened out.
  • June 10:  3 x 10:00 tempos with 2:00 recoveries in 5:57, 5:55 pace for 0.68, 5:55, 6:02 pace for 0.68, 5:56, 5:52 pace for 0.69 (2.2 warm up, 2.6 cool down, because I can't do math).  My goal pace on this one was 5:55-6:00 and my coach said "don't go any faster than 5:55!!" - so of course I planned to try to average 5:54, but I could still feel my June 8 workout on my legs so in the end I was happy to stay in my range. I think that was probably the point of this workout - getting some last-minute gains on tired legs - because I generally have 2-3 days between workouts instead of 1.  Probably the only reason I was able to stay within my range was because it was 61 degrees and only 67% humidity, but I'll take what I can get!
  • June 12:  2 x 2 mile tempos with 3:00 recovery in 6:05, 5:55 / 6:08, 5:55  (3.2 warm up, 2 cool down).  This workout was interesting because I felt super sluggish on the first miles of both repeats, and then strong on the second miles.  My goal pace again was 5:55-6:00, so I was slow on the first miles but it was good enough overall.  I always feel tired, "off", and sluggish at some point during my tapers, so I didn't let it bother me - plus this was my third workout in 5 days, which is very atypical (i.e., has never happened before), but as I mentioned above made sense as a final push in the final days to make gains.  During my 3:00 recovery I kept telling myself, "This is the final 2 miles at tempo of this training cycle!" to pump myself up to try to finish strong.
  • June 17:  3 x 0.75 "tempos" in 4:17 (5:44 pace), 4:12 (5:36 pace), 4:14 (5:40 pace) with full recoveries (which ended up being 2:25 and 3:02), 2.3 warm up, 2.2 cool down.  I had instructions to not run these faster than 5:55 pace, so I failed and they weren't a true tempo workout, but on the other hand this showed me that I can actually run 5:40ish pace for a bit.  It was a super short workout that got my legs turning over but didn't fatigue them.  I also blame/credit Rebecca's speediness plus the rain that was falling and making it difficult to see my watch for making me run these faster than tempo pace.
  • Doubles on June 3, 4, 5, 12
  • Strides on June 20, 21
  • Days off running:  June 18, 28
  • Favorite workout:  The 13.11 mile workout on June 8, hands down.  But I enjoyed all the tempo work too!  Mainly I'm glad there were no track workouts this month, hah.
Our new favorite post-long run/workout pose
#fastbraid for Rebecca & #sweatsoakedbun for me!
Better together
Long Runs:
  • June 1:  22.4 miles (7:29 / 2 fast finish in 6:22, 6:12).  I had 21 scheduled, so I ran 6 before meeting Rebecca, who wanted to do 15.  I wasn't sure if I'd be strong enough to run my final 2 at MGP (I was not quite back to 100% post-bronchitis), but in the end I eeked out 6:17 average exactly on them, although it wasn't easy!  As always, the fast finish made me wonder how I could ever run that pace for more than about 2 miles, hah.  I then jogged back to Rebecca and ran in with her, hence the 22.4 total.  Any excuse to run farther, right (sorry, coach!)?!
  • June 8:  18.3 miles total with a workout, detailed above and here.
  • June 14:  12.3 miles (7:26) for my last "long" run of the cycle.  I had this run on a Friday morning so ended up running it solo, and it was fine.  I often feel terrible when tapering, so to feel okay is winning in my book (I do not ever expect to feel good any more during marathon tapers)!
  • June 22:  The Marathon for a 27.4 mile day, counting the my watch said I walked almost 6 miles!
  • Favorite long run:  June 1 is the clear choice since June 8 won favorite workout, June 22 won favorite race, and June 14 wasn't even long.
Final 20+ miler of this cycle - done!
I laid on the ground a lot this month
I still don't practice yoga, but friends are
trying to convince me...
  • I listened to this podcast about the Bill Snyder Highway Half Marathon.  They noted that of the 1,400+ runners in the race, only 1 participant negative split!  That made me feel a lot better about my positive split.  They interviewed the first overall male and second overall female, and both noted that the final 4ish miles were hot and hard, a sentiment everyone seemed to agree with, including me.  I was mentioned briefly in the podcast as well.
  • I remembered why tapering is not my favorite, but also that it really, truly works - marathon pace NEVER feels strong and smooth except on race day.
Missy can take a selfie while running!
My face is melting here
It's raining, it's pouring
Massage + cupping

Sooooo humid!
Life events:
  • We adopted a kitten!  More pictures here.  He and our established cat are slowly making friends (this is a whole blog post in itself!).
  • Albani and I attended an ABA BBQ that included water guns for kids (those were a major success).
  • We had company the second weekend of the month, my brother-in-law's family.
  • We did lots of gardening - "we" referring mostly to Jon and Albani!  We also began selling blackberries at a local farmers market on June 15, and have sold out every market (up to 150 quarts in 2 hours!).
  • Albani worked on her summer reading program through our public library, and I did the adult program.  We are enjoying our winnings!
  • I traveled to Minnesota and Wisconsin with my parents; an additional post is coming about vacationing before and after Grandma's Marathon.
  • Albani got her ear pierced.
So much cuteness
My best action shot
How we want to look
How we really look
Plus kids with water guns
Global running day tribute (also I ran that day, twice)
Loved this
Bandit is pretty kid-friendly
Our older guy deserves some photographs too!
We officially own cat furniture now
Not quite friends
First Farmers Market
Ear piercing excitement
It stings!
"I never wanted a little brother" - Bandit Ibbetson
They were playing here but Bandit looks evil!
Nugget has a lot of energy
My best shot
Books this month:
  • Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer
  • The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
  • Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson
  • Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson
  • This Could Change Everything by Jill Mansell
  • The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick
  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
  • Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins
Theme of the month:

Replace can't with maybe.  Most of the year I thought "I can't" about the 2:45 at Grandma's, but during my taper I thought "maybe".  "Maybe" didn't mean yes, but it was a step up from a hard no!

Friday, June 28, 2019

Grandma's Marathon: When God is your everything, you can do anything!

The short version:

One of my race day mantras for Grandma's was "When God is your everything, you can do anything!"  I hoped that "do anything" would mean accomplishing my Big Dream Goal of a 2:45:00 or better marathon, but instead on June 22 it meant holding on for a 2:47:44 through a rough final 4.5 miles.  Although I didn't grab an OTQ, I had an amazing experience working with numerous other women who were pursuing the same dream.  I never felt like I was racing anyone, but instead that all of us were on the same team against the harsh competitor of the clock.  Although I was 30 seconds off of my PR, I believe this was my best marathon because the course is not as fast as the CIM course.  In addition, for the first time I am no longer scared of the pace I need to run to net a 2:45; it felt strong and smooth for over 21 miles.  After running 4 marathons between 2:47-2:49, I don't know if I have what it takes to run a 2:45, but I DO know that I'll never regret trying, and that I'll keep trying and enjoying the journey!

Official results (plus finishing videos) are here.

More marathon details can be found below and at:
Pre-race excitement
Warm up to half way there
Half way through 20
20 to bonk to the sweet finish line
Post-race reflections & mind-blowing stats 
After Grandma's vacation
Run Superior!
The less short version:

During my taper for Grandma's, I decided I was going all in on race day; I was either going to run under 2:45 or blow up trying.  I rationalized that I didn't need another 2:47-2:49, so if I tried for the standard, completely bombed, and ran 2:55, 3:05, or 3:15, it didn't really matter - particularly in this race where anything out of the 2:30s wouldn't place.  2:46 or 3:46 would produce the same significant outcome: not qualifying.  I felt confident that I could run 6:20 pace for the marathon, but I needed 6:17 pace...amazing what a difference a few seconds can make both mentally and physically!  If I'd have estimated my fitness at 6:30 pace, I wouldn't have gone for it, but none of us can estimate our fitness exactly (although I did before the Chisholm Trail Marathon!), so trying to run 3 seconds faster per mile than I thought I was ready for was a gamble I was willing to take.  A lot of my confidence was based on one killer workout, since my bronchitis half didn't give me much to go on, but I'd been running solid mileage and tempo workouts for the previous 2 months during my abbreviated build.

I knew numerous women would be chasing the standard at Grandma's - so many, in fact, that the elite field filled before I applied at the end of March.  I thought that if you had a qualifying time you got in, but learned that was not the case and once the field reached capacity no more elite spots were awarded.  While I did miss the elite perks I had last year, I still felt this race was my best chance at a fast time, and was excited that I'd likely have a lot of women to work with during the race.  I reached out to several other women I knew or had connected with through the #breaking245 pursuit (thanks, social media!), looking to build a pace group of women who wanted to start a little slower and build into goal pace.  Most of the ladies I spoke with wanted to start closer to 6:15, which wasn't for me, but my friend Jessi and her training partner (who is now my friend, but who I hadn't met before the race) Chandler were in for my pace plan, which was something like:  miles 1-2 at 6:25, 3-10 at 6:20, 10 on at 6:15.  I talked to a couple of other ladies who were interested in connecting, and my coach Nichole planned to start with us for the first half mile or so in her pursuit of 2:49.  I ended up doing the exact math on two similar pace plans, and memorized where I wanted to be at the 10K, half, and 20, which was 39:20-39:30 at 10K, 1:22:35-1:22:55 at 13.1, and 2:05:40-2:06:00 at 20.

I feared it could be a logistical nightmare trying to connect with Jessi, Chandler, and Nichole before the race, but we all ended up meeting up easily and getting on the starting line together.  The temperature was wonderful for late June, at about 50 degrees, but the sun was powerfully bright in the clear sky.  The 7:45 a.m. start was delayed until 7:53 a.m., and while we were all dying to get going I kept thinking that every minute we waited was a minute hotter it was going to get.  But soon we were off!

Jessi, Chandler, and I stayed together in the crowds as the field gradually thinned out.  It remained crowded for quite a bit longer than last year, and there were packs and packs of women all around.  After racing by feel in nearly all my races for the past 18 months, I looked at nearly all of my mile splits during this race.  I just figured I'd be the idiot who would run 2:45:01 due to not looking at my watch!  I also didn't want to go too fast too early, which is generally not an issue for me, but could happen when tapered, in good conditions, and with so many women around.  I didn't obsess about my watch or look at it between miles, but every time it beeped I checked my split.

The beginning miles passed quickly and on pace, and I occasionally chatted with Chandler and Jessi and others around us.  The effort felt strong and smooth, and we passed the 10K in 39:05, which was a little faster than I'd planned, mainly because miles 1-2 had been 6:20 instead of 6:25.  I told Chandler and Jessi I thought we should stay at about 6:20 through the half instead of dropping to 6:15 at mile 10, and they agreed.

The half came in 1:22:37 and I said to myself and out loud to Jessi and Chandler, "All we have to do is that again, about 15 seconds faster."  It felt do-able.  I began saying the mantra "I'm qualifying today" to myself.  We picked up with several other women at various points during the race, and everyone had the standard on their minds and race agenda.  It was such a supportive environment, and I loved being out there with so many strong women!  Before the race I prayed that every woman chasing the standard would achieve it, and I continued to pray that during the race.  We were all on Team OTQ together.
Chandler & Jessi leading one of the many
packs we were part of during the race
At several points during the race, we passed women who I did not expect I would ever be passing; women whose training I followed who I expected to comfortably surpass the standard, women who had histories of times in the 2:30's, women in pro racing kits.  My heart went out to those who were suffering early on; the marathon can be cruel.

The sun beat down on us, even though the temperature never rose out of the 50's.  I took a cup of water and a cup of ice at every aid station, drinking the water, then drinking the melted ice water before dropping half of the ice into my racing crop and the other half down my shorts (fun fact: cooling your crotch is one of the most effective ways to cool yourself, due to all of the veins and arteries in that area).

Around mile 18, I felt a dip in my energy level for the first time.  I started on my third gel (I took my first and second around 10K and 20K), and quickly perked up from the sugar and caffeine.  Relief followed, and I pepped myself up:  "Only 8 miles to go!  You've got this!  You're qualifying today."

Jessi was feeling really good and picking up the pace.  I didn't feel comfortable dropping under 6:15 at that point, so after seeing mile 19 come in 6:08, I wished her the best and backed off slightly (a little too much in mile 20, but I was still feeling good).  Chandler and I stayed together and Jessi really put the pedal to the metal.  I'd told her before the race that based on her half times I thought she could run 2:40-2:42, and she did (2:41, with her final 10K in the 36's - in contrast to mine that was 42:07, ick!).  She was a brilliant racer with starting off conservatively and then dropping the hammer.

Chandler and I passed mile 20 in 2:05:37, and I calculated that we could run the final 10K in 39:20 (6:20 pace) and make it.  I again told myself, "You're qualifying today!"  Chandler asked if we were still on pace and I told her we were perfect.  I saw a runner from Kansas who I really admire, Raquel, up ahead of us, and pushed to reel her in.  As I pulled up by her, I started to feel fatigue creeping in.  I asked her if she could help me in, and she told me she would do anything she could to help me qualify; she already had a qualifying time.  Runners are amazing people!  Unfortunately, I got separated from her at an aid station and couldn't pick back up to her, though.
With Raquel after the race
The course is net uphill from mile 18 to 22.5.  It's gentle so you don't really notice it during the race, and even Lemon Drop hill is pretty minor, but on tired legs it can affect pace (I remembered this from last year but chose to ignore it).  Around mile 21.5, I really started running out of gas.  Strong and smooth became struggling real fast.  I tore into my "emergency" gel around mile 22, hoping I'd get the boost I'd gotten from my mile 18 gel, but I didn't perk up this time, plus I choked on the gel, coughing until I made it to the next aid station for water to wash it down.  People ahead of me began pulling farther ahead of me.  I was passed by a couple of men, and ordered my legs to go with them, but they wouldn't go.  Chandler pulled ahead and encouraged me to come with her, but my body wouldn't.  I kept my self-talk positive, "It can turn around, you're still on 6:17 average, you can do this, your body can do more than your mind wants to allow, it's not about how you feel it's about what you're trained for, that guy up there is 2:45 - catch him."  I tried everything I could.  It didn't work.  Qualifying was fading away and there was nothing I could do to catch it.  I stayed positive, while at the same time knowing I wasn't "qualifying today" after all.
Course elevation
I pushed with all I could for those final miles, and it certainly wasn't pretty, but I got it done.  My body just didn't have any more to give; I felt out of gas, even though I felt fine aerobically and was never breathing hard.  Fatigue pulled my neck and head backwards, as it tends to at the end of marathons.  I saw the mile 25 clock tick by in 2:38:59, a time about 2 minutes slower than I hoped to see at mile 25.  I was lightheaded in the last mile, but we can do anything for a mile!  Seeing the finish line was such sweet relief.  I stumbled in and stopped my watch, knowing I'd run a good marathon but that it wasn't enough.  I must have looked pretty bad, because two volunteers grabbed me as I crossed the line and walked with me for a while (this was captured on my finishing videos for all infamy, hah).  I normalized and picked up my medal, shirt, and lots of water before getting a few finishing photos and seeing my parents at the side of the chute.
I fought for this
My fatigue lean
In hindsight, I'd say I was ready to run 6:20-6:25, so by trying to run 6:15-6:20, I suffered hard at the end and couldn't hold pace.  It's crazy what a difference 5 seconds a mile can make!  I thought I ran out of glycogen because of the pace; my coach thought I just wasn't quite strong enough to hold the pace through the end due to my short training cycle (I only began working with her on April 1) - Strava made this video to summarize my training cycle, although I don't know how many weeks it summaries.  Either way, I wasn't quite there for this one.  Running how I did isn't the smart way to run a marathon or the way to PR (anyone will always get more out of themselves with a more conservative start and negative split), but I was close enough to 2:45 fitness that I had to risk it and try!
Jessi netted her OTQ & Chandler grabbed a huge PR!
It's hard to be unhappy with a 2:47 marathon.  However, it is very difficult to be satisfied with a 2:47 marathon, given the Olympic Trials standard!  Funny, before the race I said I didn't need another 2:47-2:49, but I got another one anyhow, and of course I am thankful that I got it over a time in the 2:50's or over 3:00.  I will also always treasure the experience that I had working with so many other women going all in that day at Grandma's.

And it's still true that when God is your everything, you can do anything.  Every marathon I understand more why the Christian faith is often compared to a race.  In both, we press on to a prize worth fighting for.  The world is hard and everyone has struggles that don't make sense, but what a prize awaits us in heaven!  Races are often a struggle, but the finish line is so sweet.  "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Jesus Christ." - Philippians 3:14
Splits - my Garmin usually short-changes me
(it read 26.19 in this one)
Splits with grade-adjusted paces 1
Splits with grade-adjusted paces 2
I agree that CIM is a faster course!
How not to pace the end of a marathon
Read my detailed recaps starting here...

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Updates that Couldn't Wait!

We got a kitten and he is the cutest!  We took almost a week to settle on his name: Nugget Theo Ibbetson.  "Nugget" from gold nugget (my husband and daughter love the show Gold Rush), and also because it sounds good with our other cat's name, Bandit.  Theo because he was named Theodore at the shelter we adopted him from.  Scroll down through excessive kitten photos for the running update I'm excited about.

I had a monster workout this morning, and it was a success!  When I saw it on paper, I wasn't sure I'd be able to hit it, but I knew that if I did it would be a huge confidence boost before Grandma's Marathon.  It was also essentially my last chance for a confidence boost, and my last chance to make big fitness gains, being 2 weeks out from my race.  No pressure!

The goal was 6 miles at 6:15 pace, 1 mile at sub-6:00, 5 miles at 6:15, 1 mile at sub-6:00 (with 2 warm up and 3 cool down miles).  I have never run a workout like this before, and mainly I was worried about the sub-6:00 mile in the middle.  I knew I'd be able to run it because I've regularly been running 6 miles of tempo work at sub-6:00, but I did not know if I'd be able to come back from it and continue at 6:15 for so many more miles.  But you never know until you try, so I tried!

My splits are below.  I ran to 13.11 to see what my half time would be, since I knew it would be faster than my bronchitis half 2 weeks ago.  I was right where I wanted or a shade under for most of the workout, but I couldn't quite get down to sub-6:00 on the final mile...darn those 5 seconds!  I was still quite happy with this, because I ran my second fastest half marathon ever in a workout, by myself, in terrible humidity, with no aid stations, and certainly with different pacing than I'd have used in an actual race.  It was a good reminder not to drop too fast of a mile too early in a race (although this is not generally a problem I have!)!  It was 65 degrees, so about as good as you're going to get in Missouri in June, but the humidity was pretty brutal at 95% and I could squeeze sweat out of my hair and clothing afterward.

Rebecca ran a shorter faster workout on the same course I was on, so at some points I got to chase after her, which was helpful.  I wore the outfit I plan to wear for Grandma's, although I think will wear my Nike Vaporfly shoes for the race and did this workout in New Balance Zantes.  Side note: I do most of my training in Hoka One One Cliftons, but I've been wearing the Zantes for workouts and really like them.

This is the one and only run this year that made me think perhaps my Big Dream Goal is possible at Grandma's, but one is better than none, right?!  2 weeks to go!
Our favorite post-long run pose
Better together
Fast braid for Rebecca, sweat soaked bun for me

No stops, because race clocks don't stop! A lot of people stop to
drink/fuel during long runs/workouts, but I have become
obsessed with never stopping my watch