Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Jesus is the reason for the season: December recap

December 2019 in Review

Total mileage for the month: 400.2 - my first time ever running a 400 mile month!
  • Dec. 2-8:  88.5 (hit 100 on the rolling 7 from Dec. 5-11)
  • Dec. 9-15:  92.6 (hit 100.8 on the rolling 7 from Dec. 7-13)
  • Dec. 16-22:  88.6 (with one scheduled day off)
  • Dec. 23-29:  91.7
  • Dec. 30-Jan. 5: projected at 80
Family love
Our 2019 Christmas card
  • None 
Belated race photo from mile 1 of the White River Half Marathon
Mile 13 of the White River Half Marathon
  • Dec. 3:  4 x 1 mile with 1:00 recoveries, with the first 3 at MP and last at HMP.  I believe this is called The Taper Workout Everyone Runs Too Fast, which I held true to, clocking 6:06, 6:09, 6:04, 5:54.  After a struggle workout on Nov. 30, it was wonderful to have one where I had to hold back.
  • Dec. 6:  8 miles with an unstructured fartlek in the final 2 miles (8 x about 2 telephone poles on/2 off).  I didn't time or structure anything about this, but just felt like breathing hard in the cold air (I had 5 days without a training schedule, due to not running CIM as planned).
  • Dec. 10:  8 x 0.5 with 2:00 jog recoveries in 2:53, 2:54, 2:54, 2:55, 2:51, 2:51, 2:53, 2:50 - 2:52 average (3.1 warm up, 2.2 cool down).  My goal was to start at tempo pace and work down to 5K pace, so I was trying to do something like 5:59, 5:56, 5:53, 5:50, 5:47, 5:44, 5:40, 5:35 pace-wise, but I got out a little quick and couldn't get down into the 5:30s (these two this are probably related...). But considering my state of exhaustion and that I'd just returned home from a week at my parent's house the evening before this workout, I considered it a success. 
  • Dec. 12:  8 x 15 sec. hill sprints towards the end of an 8 mile run.  Strava had my grade adjusted paces at 5:36, 5:33, 4:57, 5:18, 4:26, 4:35, 4:46, 4:49.  This is kind of like doing strides at the end of a run (a light stimulus), but hills get my heart pumping like crazy!
  • Dec. 18:  3 x 1 mile at 5K effort with 2:00 recoveries + 9 x 30" on/60" off (3.1 warm up, 3 cool down).  I was hoping to keep the 5K pace miles in the 5:30s, but I had to fight to keep them in the 5:40s with 5:44, 5:47, 5:48.  I have a very hard time hitting 5:30s solo, so this wasn't a huge surprise, but a girl can dream!  It being "feels like" 18 degrees also didn't help my leg turnover; speed work is always harder for me once it's under 20-25 degrees.  My 30" pushes ranged from 5:09-5:49, mostly around 5:30 - grade adjusted paces were 5:02-5:34, so the 5:49 was mostly uphill.  I was supposed to run a different workout on the track on Dec. 17 (the one that ended up happening Dec. 31), but an ice storm changed that plan.  I had to run on the treadmill on Dec. 17, and I try to not run treadmill workouts if I can avoid it.  On Dec. 18 the roads that had been salted and driven on were mostly melted, but the track was still a sheet of ice so I was able to run outside but my coach switched the workout.  I am improving on being flexible with winter training in situations like this, but I never love last-minute training plan changes.
  • Dec. 24:  6 x 1 mile tempos with 1:00 recoveries in 6:03, 6:10, 6:16, 6:16, 6:19, 6:02 (3 warm up, 2 cool down).  I was at my parents' house for Christmas; they live out in the country, and I have many running routes from their house but they are on all dirt roads that aren't fast for workouts, so I asked some friends for advice on where to run this workout and scoped out a loop in town on wide sidewalks and a paved trail on my Dec. 23 easy run.  It was a great route, just not for the direction the wind was coming from on Christmas Eve!  I had a tailwind on my warm up so didn't realize it, but then 0.5 into the workout I turned into the wind and reps 2-5 were all into it (rep 6 was into it for 0.5).  I did not hit my goal pace range of 5:55-6:05 on most of the reps, but I'm going to estimate that wind-graded I did, hah.  I also had some flashbacks to windy Indy...wind is sure a time suck!
  • Dec. 28:  22.5 miles with 3 easy, 2 x 2 at tempo with 2:00 recovery in 5:59, 5:57/6:01, 5:54, 9 easy, 3 progressive tempo in 6:12, 6:06, 5:55, 3 easy.  This workout was intimidating!  I did a similar workout that was a bit shorter in May (3 warm up, 2 x 1.5 mile tempo in 5:58, 2:59/6:00, 3:02 with 2:00 recovery, 8 miles easy, 2.5 mile tempo in 5:59, 6:00, 2:57, 3.5 cool down), so I knew I had it in me, but my runs on Dec. 14 and 24 hadn't been great so I was worried about the end of the workout particularly.  It certainly wasn't easy, but I did it - and that final 5:55 sure burned!  The really weird thing was that I felt better on my 3+ mile cool down than I did on the easy 9 in the middle, and those cool down miles were faster then the other 9 easy.  It was almost 60 degrees, which was amazing for the early morning at the end of December, but that also meant there was a powerful south wind (17-20 mph), which didn't do me any favors.  I think we all know by now that I'm not a fan of the wind, but I will probably keep noting when it's a factor on workout days and races...
  • Dec. 31:  3 x 1000 m, 2 x 800 m, 2 x 600 m, 2 x 400 m, all with 2:00 recoveries (3.1 warm up, 2.3 cool down).  This workout was meh.  It was cold and windy and my legs didn't want to go fast.  Splits were 3:46, 3:41, 3:44, 2:57, 2:58, 2:11, 2:10, 1:23, 1:23, all slower than goal times but faster than half marathon pace at least!  Rebecca was kind enough to run this New Years Eve workout at 5:30 a.m. with me even though she had the day off work, which helped tremendously.
  • Doubles: Dec. 5, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 16, 17, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 30, 31.
  • Strides:  Dec. 27, and at least a few before all workouts and races.
  • Strength work:  Weekly totals of 1:16, 1:50, 1:43, 2:01
  • Yoga:  Weekly totals of 2:05, 1:20, 1:20, 1:40
  • Favorite workout:  Dec. 28 - that final 3 mile tempo will yield gains for sure.

After 13.9 Miles for Mark on Dec. 5
Beautiful sunrise after some hill sprints
I am in sync with my training buddies
Treadmill miles are do-able with friends
Long Runs:
  • Dec. 1:  12 miles easy (7:40) for what I expected to be my final little "long" run before CIM, and deja vu to 4 weeks prior (my final "long" run before Indy).  It was ridiculously windy for this run, and lucky for me Abby was also running 12 miles before her second of two fall marathons, so we tackled it together (Casey and Jack joined for the first 7).  Nothing fancy, but completely enjoyable miles.
  • Dec. 7:  24 miles (8:08), because my brother's favorite Bible passages were Psalms 24 and 139 (I did 13.9 miles for him on Dec. 5).  My dear friend Michele traveled from a couple of hours away for my brother's funeral on Dec. 6, then stayed the night and ran 18 miles of this run with me.  My friend April ran 10 miles of it with me (she did all 13.9 with me a couple of days before).  Since I usually run long runs faster than this, this was the longest duration I've run in years (3:15).  It was perfect.
  • Dec. 14:  21.2 miles (7:23) with 3 progressive fast finish in 6:38, 6:36, 6:26.  I was supposed to run the fast finish miles in 6:40, 6:20, 6:00, but I couldn't get my legs to turn over any faster.  It was odd because I felt like I could run all day and my super easy cool down mile (to get back to my car after finishing 20 miles) was 7:19 uphill.  My husband pointed out that my inability to hit the paces might have been due to running 122 miles in 8 days... (149 in 10 days). We had a great group for this run, and I had company for all of the miles except the fast finish that no one wanted to do with me, hah.
  • Dec. 21:  22.22 miles easy (7:48): 11 with heart rate under 130, 11 with heart rate under 140.  My wrist-based heart rate is hit or miss in cold temperatures, and on this run it was miss so I kept it "very easy" for the first half and "really easy" for the second half.  I ran to meet Rebecca, ran 15 miles with her, then ran home, only needing to add about a half mile on the way home to hit 22.22 (of course the .22 was on purpose).  I think I'm getting crazier, because 20+ at an easy pace just seems like any other easy run at this point/  As always, Rebecca was great company and conversation with her helped the miles fly by.  The morning low was only 36 degrees and there was no wind: perfect December running weather!
  • Dec. 28:  22.5 miles (7:07 for the whole shebang) with a workout, described above.
  • Favorite long run:  Dec. 7 was the most meaningful, not to mention the longest.
This is our blowing away in the wind pose
Ready for 26.2 x 2 - Bass Pro + St. Jude for Abby!
Running highlights/thoughts/randomness:
  • Three weeks before the race, on Dec. 29 I decided to run Houston on Jan. 19.  It seems ridiculous to care about marathon times and the implications of any race after the month I had, but at the same time it seems silly not to try given that I am healthy and trained.  My brother was very supportive of my OTQ-chasing, so I ought to try for him! 
  • I hit 100 miles on my rolling 7 for Dec. 5-11, and 100.8 miles on my rolling 7 for Dec. 7-Dec. 13!  The first stretch I didn't discover until I pulled up my Strava daily totals to write a post about the second stretch, and the second was also a happy accident due to moving a double on account of impending winter weather.
  • I was third on the mileage leader board for this podcast this week, even though I was tapering and thought 68 was "low" (oh, the irony that I used to max at 50).  I was the mileage leader this week (1:30 in) with 88, and the podcast didn't have episodes for the other weeks of this month.  Some day I will run 100 in a Monday through Sunday week!
  •  I was looking up the date for the 2020 Bill Snyder Half Marathon, and found myself on the home page (scroll down to the still video), and several times in the video.  It's worth watching without my appearance though!
  • This article about a man striving for his OTQ is very well-done and says so much that I relate to.
  • I had to run indoors due to ice twice this month, on Dec. 16 for my second run (4 miles, which is 30 laps on the YMCA indoor track) and Dec. 17 for my morning run (10.5 miles on my dear friend Amy's treadmill).  I also had a Dec. 23 double in almost 70 degrees!
Fact: the only times I have purchased "extras" at races is for
my five 2:4X marathons
Creepy house run-by
Christmas lights run!
 Life stuff: 
  • My brother's unexpected death hung over my family, making this month very heavy.  
    • With the timing of the accident, I did not run the California International Marathon as planned.  Initially I felt terrible for wishing I'd have run the marathon, but then I realized that actually I absolutely wish I'd have run that marathon, because that would mean Mark was still here.
    • I trust God had better plans than any of us here on earth, but there are also many of His plans we will never understand while we are on earth.
  • We spent 3 days at my parent's and a day at my in-laws for Christmas.  It was hard to narrow down the photos to include, but we were very blessed with the family time.
Close friends carbo-loading
6th grade fall photo
We love our tree we cut ourselves & decorated
with mostly ornaments that Albani made
We are Skip-Bo fans!
Major Christmas
We have the same hair
Isn't my niece adorable?
Fulton Farms in Towanda, KS
Stockings at our house
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood 
  • How to Fall in Love with Anyone by Mandy Len Catron
  • Even If I Fall by Abigail Johnson
  • Right Beside You by Mary Monroe
  • French Twist by James Patterson
  • All the Dirty Parts by Daniel Handler
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  • The Grip of It by Jac Jemc
  • The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth 
  • Mercy Me by Margaret A. Graham 
  • The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames
  • Does This Beach Make Me Look Fat? by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella
Themes of the month:
The world changed, but my faith didn't.

What I Read in 2019

These were my reads for the year!  Yes, I know I need to get a Goodreads account.

Bold titles = a favorite that I recommend.  I was really stingy with these recommendations, or else I'd have bolded 75% of these books!
  1. Once Upon a Time There Was You by Elizabeth Berg
  2. The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens
  3. The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion
  4. You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
  5. The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld
  6. Time Keeper by Mitch Albom
  7. Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes & Jo Piazza
  8. Clay Girl by Heather Tucker
  9. A Child Called "It" by Dave Pelzer
  10. The Reason You're Alive by Matthew Quick
  11. Far From the Tree by Robin Benway
  12. The Lost Boy by Dave Pelzer
  13. Something Like Happy by Eva Woods
  14. A Man Named Dave by Dave Pelzer
  15. Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
  16. Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand
  17. Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
  18. Three Things About Elise by Joanna Cannon
  19. The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel
  20. Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella 
  21. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  22. After Anna by Lisa Scottoline
  23. Winter Stroll by Elin Hilderbrand
  24. Winter Storms by Elin Hilderbrand
  25. Winter Solstice by Elin Hilderbrand
  26. Look Alive Out There by Sloane Crosley
  27. Feared by Lisa Scottoline
  28. Joy School by Elizabeth Berg
  29. I See Life Through Rosé-Colored Glasses by Lisa Scottoline & Francesca Serritella 
  30. My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman
  31. Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, & GPS Technology by Caroline Paul
  32. Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand
  33. Talk Before Sleep by Elizabeth Berg
  34. I Might Regret This:  Essays, Drawings, Vulnerabilities, and Other Stuff by Abbi Jacobson
  35. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
  36. Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson
  37. South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby
  38. There are No Grown-Ups by Pamela Druckerman
  39. Us Against You by Fredrick Backman
  40. The Next Person You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
  41. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
  42. The Fever by Megan Abbott
  43. An Unacceptable Death by Barbara Seranella
  44. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
  45. The First Phone Call From Heaven by Mitch Albom
  46. The Road Home by Richard Paul Evans (this is the final book in the Broken Road series I recommend reading the trilogy in order - I read the other two in 2018 but this one wasn't released until spring 2019)
  47. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  48. Okay Fine Whatever by Courtenay Hameister
  49. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
  50. Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand
  51. All the Wrong Places by Joy Fielding
  52. A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson
  53. Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer
  54. The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
  55. Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson
  56. Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson
  57. This Could Change Everything by Jill Mansell
  58. The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick
  59. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
  60. Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins 
  61. Good Luck With That by Kristan Higgins
  62.  As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner
  63. Run by Ann Patchett
  64. Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay by Jill Mansell
  65. 26 Marathons by Meb Keflezighi
  66. Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson 
  67. The Daddy Diaries by Joshua Braff
  68. Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor 
  69. Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld
  70. Meb for Mortals by Meb Keflezighi
  71. The Joy Project by Tony Reinke
  72. Night by Elie Wiesel
  73. Lottery by Patricia Wood
  74. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  75. What Made Maddy Run by Kate Fagan
  76. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
  77. Summer of '69 by Elin Hilderbrand
  78. George by Alex Gino
  79. Run to Overcome by Meb Keflezighi
  80. Running Home: A Memoir by Katie Arnold 
  81. Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson 
  82. Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
  83. The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel
  84. All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung
  85. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett
  86. Roar by Stacey Sims
  87. Mercy by Jodi Picoult
  88. How Bad Do You Want It? by Matt Fitzgerald
  89. Strong by Kara Goucher
  90. The Happy Runner by David Roche and Megan Roche
  91. Double Cross by Jackson Pearce 
  92. Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller
  93.  Riven by Jerry B. Jenkins - top book of 2019!
  94. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood 
  95. How to Fall in Love with Anyone by Mandy Len Catron
  96. Even If I Fall by Abigail Johnson
  97. Right Beside You by Mary Monroe
  98. French Twist by James Patterson
  99. All the Dirty Parts by Daniel Handler
  100. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  101. The Grip of It by Jac Jemc
  102. The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth 
  103. Mercy Me by Margaret A. Graham 
  104. The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames
  105. Does This Beach Make Me Look Fat? by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella

I didn't set a goal of reading a certain number of books, but in November when I realized I was getting close, I decided I wanted to hit or exceed 100!

Saturday, December 28, 2019

The Happy Runner

Just a few days after I wrote about how the passion is in the process, I began reading "The Happy Runner" by David & Megan Roche, on the ride to the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.

I highly recommend this one!  I'm going to be brief and vague, but most of the information in it really lined up with how I think about my running when I'm the happiest with it.  Results are sure great, and there is nothing wrong with having big goals, but if you don't love the process, then in my opinion you're really missing out.  I also think that runners who are the most successful generally love it, because loving it makes us more consistent - and nothing helps your running more than consistent mileage day after day.

The book also has some great training tips, and although not really anything I hadn't read before, it would be very valuable to a newer runner.

So read this and be happier!  :-)  If you're like me, happier at any given fitness level also equals the fastest I can be at that fitness level.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Christmas Cheer Compression

I own an embarrassingly large amount of compression socks, including 4 Christmas pairs that I wanted to get plenty of use out of this month...
These say "Sock it to me, Santa"
Reindeer games
We met at the Brewski Barn to run by El Dorado
Lake, so a photo with the sign was a must

Setting the camera timer & sprinting to climb
up on this sign via the rock on the side was no
easy task!
Festive headbands really completed this one
Reindeer socks on snow
Christmas morning
My niece's unicorn socks on Christmas topped
them all, though!
I also love ugly Christmas sweaters - after Christmas lights run #1
After Christmas lights run #2 - please note
our red & green Noxgear vests too!
Not compression, but my other festive socks

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

100 miles

For the second and third times, I ran 100+ miles within a 7 day span.  Since these rolling 7s overlap, I'm only counting it as once, but from Dec. 5-11 I ran 100 miles exactly (unbeknownst to me until I pulled up my Strava training log when I started this blog post), and from Dec. 7-13 I ran 100.8 miles (discovered after uploading my second run on Dec. 13).  I guess running an 100 mile week is less intimidating when you don't actually know you're doing it!
Miles with friends are always better!
On Dec. 2 and 3, I was in a taper for the California International Marathon, but when everything changed, I didn't open my training schedule again that week.  I ran whatever I wanted each day, which ended up being a lot since running is my coping mechanism and because I wanted to do tribute runs for my brother for Psalms 24 and 139, 24 and 13.9 milers.  I guess I am thankful I didn't have time to double most days, or I would have probably pushed the envelope too much.

I started back on a training schedule on Dec. 9 (I think we can all agree I need a plan to save me from myself!), and I followed it exactly except I moved a double from Dec. 15 to Dec. 13 due to the weather.  It was 54 degrees and sunny the afternoon of Friday, Dec. 13, and on Sunday, Dec. 15 we were supposed to have an ice storm (which did happen).  Here is what I ran Dec. 5-14 (149 miles in 10 days).  I was at my parent's house/off work Dec. 5-9.
Dec. 5:
AM: 13.9 easy Miles for Mark for Psalm 139 with April on the Red Bud Trail.  This was the first time following Mark's death that I was around someone who wasn't in the middle of it all, and talking with her helped tremendously.
PM: 4.2 easy miles, because we finished all preparations and it was 70 degrees out on Dec. 5.
Extras: 35 minutes glute yoga

Dec. 6:
AM:  8.1 miles with an unstructured fartlek in the final few miles (mostly 2 telephone poles on/2 off just to get my heart pumping and to breathe in the cold air).
Extras:  30 minutes body weight strength and 30 minutes post-run yoga

Dec. 7:
AM:  24 easy Miles for Mark for Psalm 24.  I started this run from my parent's house with my friend Michelle, who came to town for my brother's funeral and stayed the night in order to run most of this with me (isn't she the best?!).  We picked up April around mile 5, and she did 10 miles with us.  I dropped Michelle off at mile 18, and completed the final 6 miles by myself, including running by my brother's grave.  Most of the run was on dirt roads and the pace was a little slower than I usually run, so it wasn't very hard on my body and it was really good for my spirit.

Dec. 8:
AM:  7.1 easy miles. I couldn't decide whether I wanted to run 6 miles or 8 miles, so I ran 7!
PM:  6.2 easy miles with April. I was planning to do 5 miles but she told me if we did 6 we could run by a creepy house and it was definitely worth it!  The owner did not want the rails-to-trails Red Bud Trail behind his property, and put up all kinds of threatening signs plus an owl hanging from a noose in his backyard.  We wanted to take photos but we heard a door open so we didn't stop running.
Extras: 35 minutes yoga for tight hamstrings

Dec. 9:
AM:  7.3 easy miles in 25-35 mph wind, gusting to 45 mph.  Kansas is much flatter than Missouri but is generally also much windier!
PM:  5 easy miles that I stopped to do on my drive home to Missouri before it started sleeting.

Dec. 10:
AM:  10.9 miles with 3 warm up, 8 x 0.5 with 2:00 recovery jogs, 2.1 cool down in 2:53, 2:54, 2:54, 2:55, 2:51, 2:51, 2:53, 2:50.  My goal was to start at tempo pace (5:55ish or 2:57ish) and work down to 5K pace (sub-5:40 or sub-2:50).  I started a little quick and couldn't get under 5:40 (I am sure those two things are related!), but after the week I'd had I was pretty shocked I could even run sub-7:00 pace, let alone sub-6:00.
PM:  4.2 easy at lunch, which was needed on my first day back at work.

Dec. 11:
AM:  9.1 easy miles with my running group.
Extras:  45 minutes strength workout and stretching in the YMCA steam room

Dec. 12:
AM:  8.3 easy miles with Rebecca and Missy, with 8 x 15 second hill sprints towards the end.
PM:  5.1 easy miles at lunch
Extras: 15 minutes hip-opening yoga

Dec. 13:
AM:  8.2 easy
PM:  5.1 easy at lunch in gorgeous weather.
Extras:  15 minutes core work

Dec. 14:
AM:  21 with 3 progressive fast finish.  I couldn't get my fast finish miles down to my goal pace of 6:40, 6:20, 6:00 - I managed a progression but only to 6:38, 6:36, 6:26.  I felt strong but not fast.  After writing this post, I know exactly why!  The same thing happened on a 24 miler at the end of my first ever 100 mile week; I felt strong but not fast.  As much as I want 100 mile weeks to be my sweet spot, my body seems to be telling me they should only be used sparingly at this point.
Extras:  30 minutes post-run yoga

I wrote about my first ever 100 mile week here, and a 96 mile week here.

I am crazy enough to run 100 mile weeks and 20+ milers without training for anything, but currently I may or may not be training for something.  I change my mind often.  Initially after losing my brother and missing CIM, I said I was done with OTQ-chasing and that 2:46:08 could just be my marathon PR forever.  At the urging of my husband and dad, and because I know myself well enough that I know I need a structured running schedule, I asked my coach to train me as if I am going to run Houston on 1/19/20, the last day you can net an OTQ for the 2020 Trials.  In December I have generally felt physically very strong, but I have been completely exhausted emotionally and mentally.  On Dec. 9 when I started back with structured training, I felt there was no way I'd have it in me to run Houston, but since then here and there I have moments of "I'm going to do it", and everyone tells me that Mark would want me to do it if I feel up for it, which I believe is accurate.

So, I might run Houston.  I might not.  My coach said I don't need to decide until the week of.  My marathon PR might stay 2:46 forever, but more likely I will chase a sub-2:45 at some point in the future (at Houston or after).  I trust that God will give me the wisdom to decide when the time is right!
100 miles in the winter yields a lot of laundry

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Everything else is trivial

On December 3, everything changed.  While my top priorities are always my faith and family, I am very guilty of getting caught up in the day-to-day.  Little worries like errands that need run, saying the right things at the right times, hitting certain split times on runs, chores that need completed, remembering my to-do list, wondering if I'm eating the right thing or recovering in the best way, etc. get pulled to the forefront.  After my brother was killed in a car accident, all of those things seemed so insignificant.
God gave us a gorgeous sunset tribute
Mark's funeral service was a beautiful tribute to Jesus.  Mark loved God and had read the full Bible multiple times.  He was a member of the church where his funeral was held, where my parents are also members.  Songs included were Amazing Grace, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, and I Can Only Imagine (this one played during a slideshow of photos from Mark's life).  Bible readings were from Isaiah 43:1-3 and John 10:27-30, and their pastor provided a beautiful sermon about how God has us in His hand based on the passage from John.

God gave us a stunning sunset for the graveside service.  Family and friends came from near and far, and many more sent flowers, kind words, and tributes.  My family felt so loved, even in this time of extreme grief.  It goes without saying that this was completely devastating for my parents.  I was fortunate my job was extremely understanding and I was able to leave work as soon as I got the news and stay with my parents a state away for a week.

I decided to honor Mark in the best way I knew how, by running for him.  His favorite Bible passages were Psalms 24 and 139, so on December 5 I ran 13.9 miles for him and on December 7 I ran 24 miles for him.  I had company from wonderful running friends for most of those miles, running only the final 6 of the 24 solo.
Dec. 5 - 13.9 miles with April
The longest duration on feet I've
had for years!
Dec. 7 - 24 miles for me, with Michelle for the first 18 &
April for 10 in the middle (I have no idea what is wrong with
my jacket here but I do NOT have a pregnancy announcement
coming, hah)
Many runners reached out and told me that they were sorry about Mark, and although it probably seemed insignificant, they were also sorry that I missed CIM.  It meant a lot to me that people acknowledged that disappointment, but more than anything I was upset that the world went on as usual after Mark was gone.  I wasn't upset that I couldn't run CIM, I was mad they were still having the race.  I was upset that people were still running races, going to work, going shopping, eating at restaurants, doing all of the every day things that we all do as if the world hadn't changed, when in fact it had changed so drastically.  Of course everything goes on, but when it's your family member who has passed, it can almost feel insulting; how can everything go on as if everything is the same?

Fortunately my family has our faith.  We know Mark is in heaven and that he is rejoicing with Jesus. We know we will all be there some day.  I've been floored by the helpfulness and generosity of family and friends.  I've been overwhelmed by the sheer number of people praying for us, near and far.  Really everything on this earth is trivial when you really stop and think about it, but love and family are pretty special.

Mark's obituary is online here.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

November: Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart

November 2019 in Review
Total mileage for the month: 271.7
  • Oct. 28-Nov. 3:   60.3
  • Nov. 4- 10:  58.7
  • Nov. 11-17:  47.8
  • Nov. 18-24:  82.6
  • Nov. 25-Dec. 1:  68.1
  • Nov. 9:  CNO Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in 2:46:08 for a marathon PR in windy conditions - 68 seconds off my goal, but 66 seconds closer than I've ever been before.  There is no way to sum this race up concisely, but my full recap and posts linked in it might do it! 
  • Nov. 23:  White River Half Marathon in 1:20:18 for a small half PR.  They say you can never be unhappy with a PR, and I'm adding "especially when it comes 2 weeks after a marathon and you run the entire race alone".  Although I'm counting my official time as my PR, I'm counting my Strava half time of 1:19:37 for confidence purposes because I think the turnaround cone was placed a bit too far out this year.
It's always nice to get mail
  • Nov. 5:  4 x 1200 m at tempo with full recoveries in 4:24, 4:21, 4:22, 4:21 (paces of 5:54, 5:50, 5:52, 5:50), 2.2 warm up, 2.5 cool down. My coach said not to run these any faster than 5:55 pace, so I tried to run 5:54 exactly to be a brat. I felt unmotivated and somewhat sluggish, which is very normal for tapering for me. Why is it easier to keep going at 90 mile weeks with doubles and double digit workouts, than to run 6-8 mile singles?  I may never know!
  • Nov. 18:  4 x 1 mile at tempo with 0:45 recoveries in 5:56, 5:56, 5:55, 5:59 (3.2 warm up, 2.2 cool down). I haven't done too many workouts this soon off of a marathon, so I was a little nervous about how my body would respond and was really happy to hit my goal range of 5:55-6:00 on all repeats!  It was harder than it would have been if I hadn't been 9 days off a marathon, but it was doable, which felt like a victory!  I felt out of gas on the last repeat, but also 100% healthy so it was a win.
  • Nov. 20:  3 x 0.5 pick-ups to tempo, with 3:00 jogs between, starting around 5.25 into an 8 mile run at 5:50, 5:50, 5:51 pace.  My goal pace was 5:55, but there were some declines in each segment (I could not have planned this had I tried!), and my grade-adjusted pace averaged exactly 5:55...winning!  I had company on this one; our group's high school cross-country prodigy Jack is between seasons and was the only person on the group run that day who thought the pick ups sounded fun.
  • Nov. 23:  13.1 miles at tempo (6:04), a.k.a., the White River Half Marathon as my big push workout between marathons (2.9 warm up, 4.7 cool down for a 20.7 mile day).
  • Nov. 26:  3 x 2 miles at marathon pace to a bit faster, with 0.5 floats 15% slower (2.9 warm up, 1.2 cool down) in 6:14, 6:10 (float 6:54), 6:10, 6:11 (float 7:00), 6:08, 6:09.  I was supposed to drop the third set a little faster, but since we were in a wind advisory I counted this workout as a success.  My friend Missy ran a different workout on the same course, and when we started our warm up together into the 19 mph wind I said, "No wonder I couldn't get my time at Indy, this is terrible!"
  • Nov. 30:  5 miles at marathon pace with 1:00 pick-up to tempo every mile, at 6:09 average via 6:07, 6:16, 6:13, 6:08, 5:58 - the MP/tempo paces were 6:15/5:50, 6:18/5:59, 6:22/6:11, 6:18/5:37, 6:10/5:40 (1.8 warm up, 1.6 cool down).  I got this one done but it was not pretty!  Marathon pace never feels easy to me in training, but in this workout it felt more like a sprint.  I finished wondering how in the world I ran 13.1 miles at 6:04 pace just a week previously, but I usually have these type of days at some point during my marathon taper, so it doesn't worry me as much as it makes me laugh.  I think it was supposed to be more of a light stimulus day, but it pretty much felt like a 5 mile race!  I was in Cherryvale, Kansas at my in-law's house, and I've actually never had a good workout there, which I blame on me being SO routine, and by nature holidays and travel are out of routine.  The weather was perfect and the course I ran flat, which was the only reason I mostly hit my goal splits!
  • Doubles:  Nov. 18, 19, 20, 25, 28.
  • Strides:  Nov. 4, 8, 13, 22, and at least a few before all workouts and races.
  • Strength work:  Weekly totals of 1:16, 0:36, 1:32, 1:25, 2:00.
  • Yoga:  Weekly totals of 1:20, 1:30, 2:20, 2:25, 1:55.
  • Favorite workout:  Nov. 18, because it showed me that marathon recovery was progressing nicely and gave me the confidence to try the White River Half.

Hip flexor flexibility
Long Runs:
  • Nov. 2:  12.5 miles easy (7:37) for my final little "long" run before Indy!  My ultra runner friend Derek ran this with me the day before he paced the Bass Pro Marathon; no one else ran because it was the day before the Bass Pro Marathon.
  • Nov. 9:  Indy Monumental Marathon, plus warm up for 27.4 total miles.
  • Nov. 16:  13.5 miles easy with 1 mile fast finish (7:31 for all, 6:25 fast finish mile). My coach told me to do the final mile sub-7:00, which I interpreted as 6:15 (hah), but moving any faster caused my hamstrings too much strain.  I'll settle for this for 1 week post-marathon though!  This was a beautiful morning run with Abby and Ashley, including highlights such as everyone digging in the back pocket of my tights for their key fobs!
  • Nov. 23:  The White River Half Marathon, plus warm up and cool down for 20.7 total miles.
  • My final "long" run before CIM fell on Dec. 1, one week before the race, so that's it for November!
  • Favorite long run:  With only two to chose from, I'll go with Nov. 16 because it a great girls' run (sorry, Derek)!
Easy like Sunday morning
Running highlights/thoughts/randomness:
  • I loved spectating at the Bass Pro Marathon!  Jon, Albani, and I drove around on the marathon course cheering for my friends running.  My training partners Abby and Rebecca went 1-2 overall females in the marathon, which was SO EXCITING to watch!  My throat was sore from cheering so hard.  Albani and I also helped at the race expo, and I came very close to signing up for the 5K but restrained myself (it was 6 days before Indy).
  • We had some stupid cold mornings, including Nov. 11 when the windchill was -2 degrees (I had a scheduled day off post-Indy) and Nov. 12 when it was 5 degrees (that was not a "warm" welcome back to running after Indy).
  • I really enjoyed this podcast, featuring a woman who tried for the OTQ at Indy.  It also showed me how different the same race experience could be for two people, although I related to her comments about the elite bathrooms being poorly regulated (the difference was I just peed behind a bush and made it to the start with plenty of time!).  For me, the elite start experience was very well organized and easy to navigate (more details here).  She struggled with hypothermia during the race, while I didn't think the cold bothered me (she hated the wind like me too though).
  • This piece about being a Christian competitive athlete hit the nail on the head. 
  • Look who is in the CIM elite field!
Some of my running buddies at the Bass Pro expo
Not a warm welcome back to running post-marathon
Indy is behind me, CIM is ahead
I've been stretching my hip flexors for years, but this stretch
is next level & I love it!

Life highlights/randomness: 
  • Our foster cat Biscuit went to her forever home and is thriving.  Jon was much more distraught about her leaving than Albani was.
  • I had an amazingly fun trip with Amy to the White River Marathon.
  • We spent three days at my in-laws for Thanksgiving, including our traditional cutting of our Christmas trees at their farm.
Bass Pro spectating
Biscuit went to her forever home
Nugget's feelings about the neighbor's dog running onto our deck
I'm beyond excited she is still allowing
matching dresses for church!
Bandit is against the use of scales in women's
We decorated for Christmas & a deer went down
in the wind advisory while I was running a
Lazy snugly on Thanksgiving Eve morning
We put a lot of work into planning this route
Black Friday Christmas tree cutting on a misty day
  • Mercy by Jodi Picoult
  • How Bad Do You Want It? by Matt Fitzgerald
  • Strong by Kara Goucher
  • The Happy Runner by David Roche and Megan Roche
  • Double Cross by Jackson Pearce 
  • Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller
  • Riven by Jerry B. Jenkins (I highly recommend this one!)
Themes of the month:
Marathon madness, thankfulness, and grace.  Also appreciating the difference a year makes - my first outside run "back" post-injury was on Black Friday 2018.