Saturday, October 19, 2019

Food Stuff Lately

Here is my fall-ish edition...our garden is no more after our first freeze on October 12, so I thought I'd post the last of my fresh homegrown produce pics (although we have a lot in the freezer still)!

Something about how Neighbor's Mill makes avocado toast trumps anything you'll make at home.

I still have my bedtime snack smoothies daily!  This one was made with frozen blackberries and beets (both homegrown), plus chocolate protein powder and almond milk.

A mostly garden plate of roasted tomatoes, roasted okra, baked sweet potatoes with lots of cinnamon, and ranch tuna.

This the my current favorite tuna packet.

I made this for a snack on a vacation day from work, and told my husband that I was living like a professional runner for the day (all I did that day was run, strength train, foam roll, eat, nap, read, and clean...could've done without the cleaning part).  The mini-bell peppers are from our garden.

I found these on sale for 49 cents, and bought every package that was left (6).  They have 8 servings per bag, so this was a really good deal.  They have a little heat to them but are not that spicy, luckily.

I have grown to really like the Price Chopper salad bar when I'm in Kansas City for work and it's 90+ degrees out.

Fresh from the garden okra and tomatoes sauteed with Chik'n (vegetarian chicken).

Brunch with my sister's family at Succotash in Kansas City after the Plaza 10K has become a tradition.

Delicious blackened salmon at Saints in Independence, although I could have taken double the portion.

These are a good energy ball snack, and almond butter is growing on me.

I tried a new protein bar I found on clearance (99 cents for packs of 5 bars!), and I loooove them.

Pre-race/workout fueling and hydration favorites, nuun energy and Generation Ucan.

I saw this on sale when I was going to buy Halo Top, and I wouldn't have bought it had I realized it was dairy-free, but it was really good!  The coconut oil in it gave it a great flavor.

I liked it so much I bought it again in a different flavor.

Lucky's salad bar.

The days of nearly all-garden plates are nearing an end...

This was the pre-race meal I packed and ate the night before the Indy Women's Half...I've learned that bringing my own dinner when we drive to a race really reduces the effort of navigating around that evening, plus I know I'm not going to get sick off the food!

When I'm really craving sweets, I get something truly good, which was a 3 scoop cookie dough bowl this day. Although it was tasty, my stomach hated me for about 16 hours after I ate it, and my 8 mile run the next morning was the longest 8 miles I will not be eating cookie dough ever again (it was that bad - I suspect my body isn't used to that much junk at once).

Nugget also likes our homegrown sweet potatoes. We had a huge haul (this is about 1/10 of them), and my only regret is that I think store-bought sweet potatoes are ruined for me forever.

Albani and I both love snacking on sweet mini-bell peppers (home grown).

None of this is homegrown, but our fruit bowl is always well-stocked.

We sliced and froze extra squash and zucchini, and it roasts up very well from frozen!

Roasted baby carrots, garlic crusted salmon, baked sweet potato, and a hard boiled egg - lots of vitamin A and protein here!

I tried there because they were on clearance for 99 cents, and they were surprisingly delicious. The only ingredients are corn and peanut butter, and they are basically like a Cheeto covered in peanut butter instead of fake cheese powder.

This pumpkin curry tasted better than it looked, and I made it with frozen homegrown spinach, tomatoes, and onions (also dried white beans, curry powder, garlic salt, ginger, canned pumpkin, and coconut milk).

A staple snack in my life - an apple and string cheese.

Mongolian grill plate 1:

Mongolian grill plate 2:

I bought these for dinner one evening I was traveling for work and too tired to even deal with take out (I'd parked in the Natural Grocers parking lot to run on a trail for my second run of the day).

Also bought this for my dinner from Natural Grocers!

And finally, I had to try this purple sweet potato.  It was very purple!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Anatomy of a 100 Mile Week

I ran my first ever 100 mile week!  Ironically, it wasn't exactly planned.  My coach schedules my mileage Monday through Sunday, which is how I prefer it (Strava also tracks weekly mileage that way), so it was only by luck, or maybe fatigue, that it happened on a Sunday through Saturday week.  You'll have to read the rest for the full explanation!  You'll also notice that the little extra 0.1-0.3 I have on almost every run was an important part of accidentally hitting this milestone.
Sunday 10/6/19:
AM run:  10.14 miles easy effort
PM run:  3.30 miles easy effort
Extras:  glute yoga
Notes: I was scheduled to run 8 and 5 milers, but it's a long story. I almost didn't do the second run because it was optional since I'd run a longer morning session, and the weather was cool and down-pouring most of the day, but when it stopped raining around 6 p.m. I went out to finish the mileage, and I'm sure glad I did!

Monday 10/7/19:
AM run:  9.21 miles easy effort
Extras:  core workout

Tuesday 10/8/19:
AM run:  3.19 miles warm up, 10 x 1K with 1:00 recoveries on the road (7.26 miles total), 2.16 miles cool down.  My 1K times were 3:33-3:39, or 5:43-5:54 pace. My goal pace range was 5:50-5:55/no faster, so I was in it or a tad under, but 5:50 pace sure feels different at 45 degrees than at 70!
PM run:  4.21 miles easy HR < 132
Extras:  post-run yoga

Wednesday 10/9/19:
AM run:  10.30 miles easy effort
PM run:  4.20 miles easy HR < 132
Extras:  full body strength workout

Thursday 10/10/19:
AM run:  12.25 miles easy effort
Extras:  yoga for tight hamstrings

Friday 10/11/19:
AM run:  8.14 miles easy HR < 132
Extras:  Core workout, hip opening yoga
Notes:  My stomach was really unhappy on this run, plus we got rained on in 40 degrees, and I came very close to stopping early, at 7 miles when my friend Abby finished her run.  If I learned anything from this week it's that every bit counts!

Saturday 10/12/19:
AM run:  24.50 miles easy effort except for 10 x 1:00 pick-ups to marathon pace at the beginnings of miles 12-21
PM run: 1.12 miles easy
Extras:  post-run yoga
Notes:  On my 24 miler (turned 24.5 due to route miscalculations!), I felt strong but not fast, and a few hours after I decided to look at my rolling 7-day mileage to see how many miles I had on my legs.  When I saw it was at 98.9, I texted my coach a screenshot and asked if I could do a 1.1 mile shake out, and she said to go for it!  My only regret is that I want to say I did 100 miles in a week with only 3 doubles, but technically the 1.1 miler made 4 (although I could have easily tacked 1.1 miles onto any other run this week, except for Friday's, hah).  Surprisingly I felt fine on the 1.1, and then started thinking I should go 1.7 to make Saturday into a full marathon, but the appeal of the perfect round 100 won out.
It would only be possible to leave this mileage alone if you'd
done lots of 100 mile weeks before!
I was scheduled to possibly have 100 October 14-20 (a Monday though Saturday week), but my coach wanted to see how I handled my October 15 workout before deciding for sure, so now we can truly go by how I feel instead of striving to hit a number - arriving at the starting line in Indy on November 9 healthy is faaaaaarrr more important.  Update:  My October 15 workout was probably the best workout of my life, so I now need to write a post about it!
I was very excited to hit this milestone, although it didn't feel any different than the 90-some mile weeks I've done (basically just like this 96 mile week).  I used to think that I could only run a max of 40-50 miles a week without getting injured, but let this be proof that if you gradually increase mileage and have coaching guidance, you can do a lot more than you think!  I've been going up by about 5 miles per week per training cycle, so about 10 miles per year.  It took me 5 years to go from 50 to 100, but I did it with fewer injuries during those 5 years (two) than I sustained during any other 5 year period of my adult life.

Kipchoge says that no human is limited, and although I think I have some limits, I like pushing them.  I was pumped that I finished my first 100 mile week on the same day he ran a 1:59 marathon!  Mind-blowing.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Sweet 17: Panther Run 5K

I finally ran a 5K time starting in 17!
Everyone won & PRed!
This local race was a last-minute addition to my schedule.  Back in July, I noted all of the races I was interested in on my training calendar and told my coach to choose which ones she thought were the best fit for my biggest season goal, the Indy Monumental Marathon (this truly shows how much I trust her!).  I wrote the Panther Run 5K/10K/15K on there as a fun local event that's not competitive but has a little prize money, but she passed it up initially since I likely wouldn't have anyone to run with.  After the warm, humid weather at the Indy Women's Half the week before put me at 0 for 3 for decent weather races this season, she threw out the possibility of me racing the 5K at Panther if the weather was decent and if I recovered well from the Indy.  Both happened, so Panther happened!

It was 59 degrees race morning, and it's amazing how cool 59 feels when you've been running everything in 70+!  When deciding whether or not to race the 5K earlier in the week, I'd talked to my friend Mike who was running it, and he said he thought he could run the first 2 miles with me at my goal pace, 5:40.  I knew I'd need someone with me to really push it, so I was happy to connect with him.  A friend I ran with at Pitt State, Daniel, was also running the 5K, and my training partners Abby and Rebecca were running the 15K and 10K, respectively - plus I saw hundreds of other familiar faces and enjoyed the hometown race feel!

I thought of this race more as a workout - as if my coach had put 3.1 miles at 5:40 pace on my training schedule.  In the past I've gotten really scared of paces that fast (after it, that is pretty much my sprint!), but I just decided I'd run it until I couldn't run it anymore, and hopefully I'd be close to the finish line at that point.  I also knew that even if I blew up at halfway or 2 miles I could most likely still win the race, so it was an easy gamble to take.
I was caught on film during my warm up
Kids sprinting out faster than 5:40 pace
From the gun, several kids and teens got out fast, but by about a half mile in Daniel had a lead on the field and Mike and I were together in 2-3 overall.  We hit the mile in 5:39 (per Garmin - Strava had me a little faster), and I felt the best I ever have after running a mile that fast.  I have been racing without looking at my watch recently, but I don't have a good grasp on 5K feel (beyond: hard), and as I mentioned I attacked this more like I approach a workout, so I looked at my splits during this race.  Mike was letting me set the pace, and by halfway I'd gapped him and was running alone.  I could see Daniel ahead of me, but he was too far up to help.  I told myself to stay on the gas, and hit my second mile in 5:41 (again per Garmin, with Strava at 5:40).
Towards the beginning of mile 3 - focus
I have a really hard time negative splitting 5Ks, and although I felt strong and like I was moving well during mile 3, when I looked down my pace was 5:47.  I told myself to get it back down to 5:40, but I also knew that as long as I stayed around there I was going to PR and break 18.  We turned onto the last long stretch of the course on Benton Street to come face-to-face with the 5K walk, which was going out in the opposite direction we were coming in.  I suspected I was going to be really close on breaking 18 since the course had measured long on my Garmin in the past, so I kept hugging the tangent and just hoping that the walkers would move over for me.  It was shocking how unaware most people were!  I later asked Daniel if he went through them or around, and he said he and the lead cyclist went around, so I was the first rude person going through (Mike said he went through after me though!).  But no regrets!  It probably slowed me down a bit, but I think the hardest part of that final mile was not having anyone to run with; I always run better with someone pushing me.

The finishing clock started with the 15K race, then they started the 10K when it was at 10:00 and the 5K when it was at 20:00, so when I saw it ticking 37:4X I knew I was going to make it!  My finishing kick was non-existent, but I suppose 5:40 really is about as fast as these marathon legs will turn over.  I stopped my Garmin at 17:54 shortly after the line.  I was the second overall person behind Daniel, who ran 16:59ish.  He said he was either just under or just over 17:00, but I'm giving him 16:59...the reason we don't know for sure is because there was an error with the results, with some times being +13-15 seconds off watch times.  Of course this would happen to me when I finally break 18 (mine is officially listed at 18:06 - insert crying face here)!  But, I have my Garmin and Strava data, and I am trying not to be upset about it.  The main thing is that I don't know what my official PR should be, since I stopped my Garmin just after I finished.  17:52?  Strava gave me 17:42!  I will probably use this as an excuse to run another 5K soon to try to make this conundrum irrelevant with a faster time.

Garmin data
Strava data (my HR monitor didn't work correctly during the
race, which is why it says "this was easier than your usual
effort" sure was not!)
From Strava
This should be a negative split course, but
the elevation isn't as dramatic as it looks (I
didn't really notice it at all)
After the race, I was supposed to take about 10 minutes then start a 30 minute progression run.  I took 16 minutes, but that was because both Daniel and Mike were willing to run it with me (which I was quite thankful for!) and were getting a drink, etc.  I started at 8:00 pace and dropped 15 seconds off the pace each half mile in order to finish at 6:00 (actually I finished at 5:53).  I was pleasantly surprised with how strong I felt doing it!  I could NOT have managed anything close to this after the Brookhaven 5K - I barely made my 6 mile cool down at 8:15+ pace that day.  I then ran 5 more miles easy for 16 on the day (Daniel did those with me too, and we still walked into the awards ceremony on the tail end of the 5K awards).

Rebecca won overall female in the 10K and Abby won overall female in the 15K, so it was a podium sweep for my running group (yes, we did plan to go for that)!  We enjoyed the very lengthy awards ceremony/give-away extravaganza (I won a $120 Pilates gift certificate and a $25 gift card to Eat Fit Go!), then had an amazing brunch. 
Celebrate good times
It's funny that I did so much research to find the "perfect" 5K to run this season and landed on the fastest course in Oklahoma at Brookhaven.  That course was pancake flat, had few turns, and had deep competition.  I even had a lighter training week going into that race, but I did not have a good race there, even taking the weather into the consideration.  I trained straight through this race (88 mile week), was a week off of racing Indy Women's Half, didn't commit and sign up until Thursday evening (the last preregistration opportunity), ran most of the race alone, and the course is mediocre (more turns and elevation than ideal, but not bad).  I suppose that I run best when I am least concerned about it!

I'm thankful to be part of such an amazing local running community, and I'm thankful that my coach thought this race was a good idea - perhaps the most shocking part is that I did not even ask to add it!  I was disappointed with my performance at the Brookhaven 5K, but I was content with leaving that as my best 5K of the season.  One of the many things that God taught me through my last injury was to be content regardless of my running performance.

Philippians 4:13 ("I can do all things through him who gives me strength") is often used by athletes to credit God for performances, which is fantastic but not the whole story.  In context, Philippians 10:13 reads:  "I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me.  Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.  I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength."  The theme?  Being content in any situation.  God gives us strength to be content because of Him.
My face here is proof the 5K is painful from the third step
(unless you are under the age of 18)
How bad the 5K hurts during the third mile, hahahahahaha!

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Indy Women's Half: All the feels plus a PR!

The Short:

I decided that running the Indy Women's Half for the third year in a row would be a beneficial fitness check and practice trip to Indianapolis six weeks prior to my goal race there, the Indy Monumental Marathon.  Since the race morning weather left a lot to be desired (a humid 74 degrees), my goals for the race were to compete the best I could in the field and hopefully hit marathon goal pace.  I am not sure anyone was more shocked than I was when I finished 3rd overall in a new half PR of 1:20:29.  Although I'm still dying to add a sub-80 to my resume, I was pumped to PR on a day I was sure I wouldn't!

My official results are here, the race leaderboard is here, and my Strava activity is here.  I can be seen in the 2019 preview video here (footage from 2018 race).

The Long:

My race in Indy last year did not go as planned; I started it slightly injured and finished it very injured, then was very unhappy about taking 10 weeks off running.  On the other hand, my 2017 race there went well and was where I ran my previous half PR of 1:20:50.   The event is well-done, the course is flat and fast, in 2017 and 2018 the temperature was around 50 degrees, and I was excited to return in 2019...until I wasn't.  During the week leading up to the race, I became fearful about getting injured, only because I had at that point in my training last year.  Everything felt fine, but I couldn't shake it.  I was never worried about my race performance because I was just worried I would get hurt, which was odd because I am not superstitious or anything of that nature!  I kept reminding myself that I'd started Indy already hurt last year, and this year I was going in feeling strong.

Summer has really been hanging on this year, and although we got a couple of cool mornings during the week leading up to the race, the race morning forecast kept getting warmer as race day grew closer.  When it was a couple of days out and looking like it would be 69 degrees with 100% humidity, my coach and I discussed a pace plan.  She said she thought my training indicated I was in shape to run a 1:18 (6:00ish pace), but that the weather would slow me down by 15-20 seconds/mile.  We decided that anything under goal marathon pace (6:17) would be a win.  While I was disappointed that Mother Nature wasn't cooperating, this really took the pressure to hit any certain splits off.  I didn't really taper for the race; although my weekly mileage was lighter than usual at 75, it was because I had Wednesday completely off.  One week before I did a significant 20 mile workout, followed by days of 12, 9, 15, 0, 10, and 7 leading up to race day.

My dad and I drove to Indy from my home in Missouri, leaving early Friday morning.  We went to the race expo, explored the area a bit, and found our Bed and Breakfast by about 5:30 p.m.  For awhile I thought I'd be going to the race by myself, so I wanted accommodations that I could easily run to the starting area from, but my thriftiness couldn't handle a $300 downtown hotel, and the BnB was only 1.1 miles from the start, in almost a straight shot (i.e., it would be very difficult to get lost!).  We had several rooms, space to sleep 4, and free parking, and were pleased with the BnB (except they were very strict on breakfast times).
Expo fun
I was honored to be featured as one of the "Five Women to Watch" for the third year.  When I picked up my race booklet and read about the other four women, I didn't feel like I belonged in the feature though.  I thought it was unlikely I'd be able to beat any of the other 4, and there are always a few fast women who are not featured, so I predicted I'd be racing for 5-8th place.  Related note: I've gotten to know Sarah Bishop a bit through social media and she is an amazing athlete!  It was fun to chat with her before and after this race.
Look at those 4 ladies' credentials!
When I woke up race morning and checked my weather app, it was even worse than I'd expected:  74 degrees.  I was mentally ready for a warm one, and during my 3 mile warm up I decided I wasn't going to look at my watch during the race.  I'd had a sub-par long run workout the Saturday before in similar weather, and that day I couldn't get my pace down to 6:15 for the life of me, so I just didn't want to see splits in the 6:20s and get upset.  I'd made peace with no chance of a 1:18, and I also felt that as long as I started and finished healthy I was in a great spot (what a difference a year makes!)!

As the race started and everyone settled into pace, I found myself in a pack of about 10 women.  There were two women out in front of us, although I suspected one of them was in the 5K (she was, and the other was Pasca Myers, a top contender).  The other 3 women to watch were in the pack, in additional to several other women I recognized from previous years races.  There is a lot of power in running in a pack, so I thought it was an ideal situation!

The pace felt right effort-wise, and as the miles clipped away the pack dwindled.  I settled in right behind two women in blue tanks, one of whom I recognized as Sarah Pease, a pro runner for Oiselle who I thought would win the race.  By mile 6 all of the others had fallen off the pack and it was us three.  The woman who wasn't Sarah (I'll call her the girl in the hat) was pushing the pace.  I felt strong but not ready to pick it up, so I let her pull away and then it was me and Sarah.  Since she is from Indy, many people were cheering for her so I just lied to myself that all the "Go Sara(h)"s were for me, haha!  I also kept thinking, "How is this happening?!" in regards to running with her; she has quite the impressive resume and just competed in the U.S. Champs 10,000 m.  I follow her on Instagram and she is a runner I really admire.
Trailing the second female (Sarah Pease is behind her)
I felt strong, but from the hair pin turn just after mile 6 I knew there were a whole slew of women not far behind, so it wasn't just Sarah I was competing with.  I also had the second place woman in the hat in my sights, so I was pushing towards her.  When we went up an incline between miles 9 and 10, I pulled slightly ahead of Sarah and thought, "Well, this is it!", although I still felt like I was in some alternative universe running with/ahead of her.  The second place woman had a good lead on me, but I had over a 5K to cut into it the best I could, and I wanted to try, so that really kept me pushing.

The race felt hard but also controlled the whole way.  I felt like I could maintain my effort through the end, and the closer I got to the finish line the more confident I was about a third place finish (by around mile 12 I knew it was unlikely I was going to catch second).  I smiled through the final mile and kicked it in, seeing the finishing clock in the 1:20s and knowing I'd somehow managed a PR, and hearing the announcer call my name and my dad cheering his heart out!  My dad's video of my finish is here and is heartwarming.
PR in sights
I had to stop my watch at the line to capture the PR -
I also had no plans to buy the photos!
Drenched in sweat & happiness
Since this month I had two performances I was happy with in humid 70+ degrees, I suppose I have to stop saying that I never run anything worthwhile in this weather; although I do believe I would have run significantly faster in cool weather, I held my own in this one.  I have come to the conclusion that my performance in warm humid weather is less predictable.  Some days it bothers me more than others, and I'm not sure what the difference is.
Top 3
And although I sure still want to add a sub-80 half to my running resume, the confidence-boost I got from this race was just as good as if I'd have run a 1:18-1:19 in cool temperatures.  Four weeks prior to running 2:47:14 at CIM, I ran a half marathon in 1:23:53 in temps in the 70s, so I was mentally prepared to be completely calm with a 1:22 half.  Really, as long as I walked away from this race uninjured I was counting it as a huge success after last year, no matter what my time was.  Now I just have to hope that fall arrives before the Indy Monumental Marathon on November 9!  Either way, I'll be there fighting...

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." - 2 Timothy 4:7

Awards ceremony
Top 10
Top 20
Oh the irony that they gave us scarves!