Sunday, February 28, 2021

Freezing February or Frosting February!

February 2021 in review!  

Total mileage for the month: 358.5
  • Feb. 1-7:  87.2
  • Feb. 8-14:  84.4
  • Feb. 15-21:  86.5 - I did a Saturday through Friday cut back week Feb. 13-19, so it affected my mileage during two Monday through Sunday weeks, but worked perfectly with the weather (which was why I did it like that).
  • Feb. 22-28:  100.4
Happy Valentines + #frosting february
  • Feb. 6 - Cabin Fever Reliever 20k in 1:19:41 (6:24 pace/grade adjusted pace 6:15), for a PR and Missouri age 40 state record.  I ran faster than I expected given the race day conditions and I enjoyed this race immensely!
    If you're not making faces during
    the finishing stretch, did you really
    run hard enough?
Records posted here

  • Feb. 2:  4 x 0.25 hill repeats (1:31, 1:32, 1:31, 1:36) with a 2 mile tempo (6:28, 6:09) straight off of rep 4 (3 warm up, 3 cool down). This is really a workout where it would be helpful to not know what you're doing ahead of time (as in, your coach tells you 4 hills then stands at the top and tells you "now a 2 mile tempo" as you finish #4!).  I've run similar workouts before and as much as I tell myself that I am going to run the final hill rep just as hard as the others, I never actually do because my mind knows the tempo is coming!  It is also hard to find a flat tempo route right off of a 0.25 hill, so this one was definitely more up going out and more down coming back, hence the pace differences, but I was aiming to average 6:20 so was happy with the 6:19.  Casey, Sean, and Colin ran the entire workout, and Elise and David did the hill reps, so we had a nice crew out working on this cold morning!
  • Feb. 11:  10 mile progression run on the treadmill, starting at 8:00 and finishing at 6:00.  I started at 7.5 mph and increased the pace 0.1 every 0.25-0.5 until I finished at 10 mph.  I'm not sure what my average pace was because the treadmill stopped at about 0.9 in when it blew a fuse (lol), then I had the remaining mileage split into two segments because I was doing programmed scenic runs on my friend Amy's fancy new Nordic Track and they only lasted 30-45 minutes, but my last 4 miles were 26:00 which is 6:30 average pace.  Lesson learned that I should have taken manual splits!  This wasn't the workout I had planned for Feb. 10, but our roads were ice and snow covered and I wanted to get some quality in but didn't think a super intense workout on the treadmill was smart considering I hadn't run on one in over a year!  I am not a treadmill fan but with the weather and road conditions, this was the only way for me to get in a workout this week.
  • Feb. 14:  13.1 miles with 10 x 1:00 pick-ups, one at the beginning of each mile starting at 3.  I ran this on the treadmill and did most of the run at 8.0 mph (7:30 pace), with the pick ups at 10.0-10.3 mph (5:49-6:00 pace).  If I have to run on the treadmill I like doing at least a little workout, because it really splits it up and makes it go by faster!
  • Feb. 17:  4 x 0.5 mile at 6:00/0.5 at 8:00, 4 x 0.25 hills at 5% incline/0.25 easy (3 warm up, 1.25 cool down for 10 miles total; treadmill at 0.5% grade for everything except the hills).  Another treadmill workout, but this one was on my crappy treadmill because I couldn't get my car into Amy's unplowed neighborhood!  Amy's super nice treadmill is easier than running outside, and mine is harder than running outside.  Mine also only goes up to 10 mph, but I think 6:00 pace feels like 5:30 pace on it so it got the job done.  This wasn't the workout I had planned but as with the previous week I didn't want to do too much fast volume on the treadmill since I'm not a regular treadmill runner...although for the span of 7 days I kind of became one out of necessity!
  • Feb. 20:  3 warm up, 3 tempo (6:16, 6:17, 6:09), 8 easy, 3 tempo (6:09, 6:14, 6:04), 4 cool down.  This workout went great and felt great - no complaints here.  My goal was to average 6:15 for the tempo portions, and I was a little faster.  After a week of sub-zero temperatures and many inches of snow, it was around 30 degrees and sunny, and our route was perfectly clear, which certainly contributed to how amazing this felt.  Casey and Braden ran all 21 miles with me, although we were different workout paces, and several others were around for parts of it (Christian, Elise, Missy, Trevor, Rebecca, plus a different running group of about 6 who came out to our area since the roads were clear).
  • Feb. 24:  12 x 1k progressive tempos with 1:00 recoveries + 5 x 0:30 fast with full recoveries (3 warm up, 2 cool down). My goal for this workout was to start at 6:15 pace and work down to 6:00, but I started at 6:10 and worked down to 5:50 (1k paces were 6:07, 6:10, 6:08, 6:04, 6:01, 5:57, 6:08, 5:56, 6:00, 5:50, 5:51, 6:01; sprint paces were 5:03-5:12).  I felt strong and the 1k's flew by.  Super fast running is a weakness of mine, so even though the 30" sprints were not that fast, there was a clear differentiation between them and my tempo pace so that was a victory too (I also doubt Garmin is super accurate for 30 seconds).  I definitely enjoyed the tempos more than the sprints.  Tempos are like holding your hand close to the fire for a long time but never touching it, while anything 5k pace or below is like holding your hand in the fire for a short time, and I love being close to the fire but not in it.  Sean, Casey, and Elise ran this workout with me, and while our paces didn't exactly match them being out there definitely kept me honest on it!
  • Feb. 27:  22.1 mile long run with 10 hill repeats during the final 10 miles. The hill repeats ranged from 0:39-1:21 in duration, and we did them whenever we hit the "best" hills starting at mile 12. I averaged about 6:30 pace on them (they were supposed to be 10k effort).  The entire run had 1229 ft elevation gain.  I was actually planning to run 8 hill reps but miscounted by 1, then threw in a bonus one at the end because it was my 500th time running the Mentor Hill segment on Strava, which was cause for celebration in my running group!
  • Doubles:  Feb. 1, 2, 4, 8, 10, 12, 16, 17, 19, 22, 23, 24, 25 (some rearranging due to weather, but I don't think I actually missed any!)
  • Strides:  Feb. 4, 5, 9, 16, 19, 23, 26 (missed a couple of sets due to weather, but did learn how to run 12 mph on the treadmill, which took away the acceleration/deceleration part of strides but did get some turnover going)
  • Strength Training:  weekly totals of 2:50, 2:49, 3:00, 3:00 - my goal is to keep this between 2:30-3:00 because it keep my hip feeling wonderful.
It's #freezingfebruary
After a treadmill run where I tested
my 4th of July race outfit...why not?
Long Runs:
  • Feb. 6:  20.4 miles via 2.9 warm up, 20k race, and 5.1 cool down.  The cool down may have been harder than the race, despite being over 2:00/mile slower paced...
  • Feb. 7:  13.5 easy miles (8:15) that went very well the day after 20 and a long race.  It's amazing how the body adapts!  I was thankful for company; Abby and Colin ran the whole distance with me.
  • Feb. 13:  17 miles (7:32) that started in a windchill of -9* and finished in a balmy -3*, for a new long run cold temperature PR.  I will be fine with never bettering this PR, but apparently I'm getting crazier each year because it wasn't actually that bad, I think because it was sunny.  We had a group of 9 runners doing 13-17 milers!  My objective for the day was to run 17 miles or until I froze, whichever occurred first, so it was a success.
  • Feb. 14:  13.1 miles (7:21), with 10 x 1:00 pick-ups, on the treadmill, described above.  We all have our limits, and a windchill of -17* and a snowstorm was below mine for this run!
  • Feb. 20:  21.1 miles (7:16 for all) with a strong workout, described above.  It felt so great to be outside in 30 degree sunshine for this run!
  • Feb. 21:  14 miles (8:06) in significant wind!  I felt okay on this one - not bad but not great.  I was very thankful that Abby ran all 14 with me (everyone else stopped at 8).
  • Feb. 27:  22.1 miles (7:34), with 10 x hill reps, described above, and 1229 ft of elevation gain in total.  Then my running group celebrated with cake to commemorate my 500th effort on the Mentor Hill Strava segment.  Christian's amazing cake was a bigger accomplishment than running the hill that many times, though.  We had a group of 10 running from 10-22 miles this Saturday!
  • Feb. 28:  14.2 miles (8:06), that ended up feeling quite good!  I had company for 9 miles (Christian, Casey, Abby, Sean, and David) then added a 5 mile loop to finish it off.  I did 5 light pick ups in the final mile, which really perked my legs up.
Feb. 27 post-run cake!

Most runs look like this

But weekends are light!

Post-21 mile workout!

Running Highlights:
  • Racing for the first time in over a year, clearly.
  • Podcast mileage leader mention here.
  • February got cold, and I set a new PR for the coldest windchill I've ever done a long run in (17 miles in -9*).  I also ran on the treadmill 6 times, which is probably also some kind of PR but I try to block those type of memories, haha!
  • I inadvertently hit 100 exactly on my rolling 7 day mileage from Feb. 19-25 after my Feb. 25 morning run, and I doubled that afternoon for a new 7-day mileage PR of 104.  My body has been feeling really, really good and I didn't realize I was quite that high (a moved double, an extra double, and an extra mile here and there add up).  I'd been at 100 in 7 days twice before, detailed here and here, but it is still a pretty major thing for me.  I only realized I hit the 104 on my rolling 7 because I checked my mileage on Feb. 25 to see how many miles I'd had on my legs for the Feb. 24 workout.  I was at 100+ for several days on my rolling 7 during this time period, but the Feb. 22-28 week was the first time I hit it in a Monday through Sunday week! 
New cold weather long run PR!

I think it was -3* windchill for
this one but it was before dawn
so felt colder

Feb. 25 a.m.

Feb. 27 p.m. (I split workout warm ups and cool downs
separately so that is why there are 14 runs total)
Life Highlights
  • We had about 10 days of serious winter, which was definitely long enough to make me more thankful that spring is near.
  • I got my second COVID vaccine and the only side effect I experienced was arm soreness.  Both my vaccines were during 80-some mile weeks and about 36 hours prior to great long runs.
  • Albani started 7th grade track.  She is interested in trying sprints.  I'm excited for her meets!
  • Ten Days by Janet Gilsdorf
  • The Hideaway by Lauren K. Denton
  • Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez
  • Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
  • Housegirl by Michael Donkor
  • Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
  • Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE by Phil Knight
  • This is Not Over by Holly Brown
  • Paris for One and Other Stories by Jojo Moyes
  • American Wolf by Nate Blakeslee
Theme for the month:
It was freezing, but there was frosting.

Mentor Hill cake!

Mentor crew

Everyone made fun of my parka but
then I was the only one not freezing

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Cabin Fever Relieved: Cabin Fever Reliever 20k

The short:

"Happiness is reality minus expectation."  I always realize how true this quote is when I run a race that exceeds my expectations, even if it's not a top performance.  I chose the local Cabin Fever Reliever 20k as a rust buster, and after running the difficult course in training I figured if I could run in the 6:30s it would be a great day - as in, anything under 6:40 pace would be a success.  I ran by feel because I always seem to race best that way, and as I neared the finish line I saw the clock still in the 1:19s so I kicked hard to get in excitedly at 1:19:41, which is 6:24 average pace (6:15 grade adjusted) and technically a PR.  I was the 1st overall female and broke the Missouri state road racing record for 20k for age 40; plus only two women in Missouri of any age have ever run faster 20ks.  I was most pumped by how strong I felt throughout the race in spite of sub-par conditions (hills, wind, running solo).  It was a great reminder of how much I love racing. and I can't wait to do it again!

Official results are here.

State 20k records are here.

Colin was 2nd OA male in the 20k,
Casey was 1st OA female in the 10k

The long:

I busted the rust after over a year away from racing (my last was the Houston Marathon on 1/19/20)!  The Cabin Fever Reliever was the perfect way to ease back into competition, because it is a small event, it takes place less than 10 minutes from my home, and it is an uncommon distance.  For a related bonus, the Missouri State single age road racing records for the 20k distance are soft, as was my actual 20k PR, although I wasn't exactly sure what it was.  I ran a 20k time trial in September 2020, but time trials definitely have asterisks in my book, plus I didn't think I could beat that time anyway, hah.

I didn't taper for this race, mostly just because I was in a groove with training and didn't want to, but also because the weather was decent and my season goal races are in March and April.  I ran 87 miles the week of the race, but I ran my workout on Tuesday instead of Wednesday to try to give my legs a little extra pop.

Several of my running buddies ran this event, which also included 5k and 10k races, and it's put on by our local running club, so I knew a lot of people, making it easy to be relaxed and laid back - although I was pretty much jumping-out-of-my-skin excited after such a long racing hiatus!  My husband can attest that leading up to this race, I talked about it far more than I ever have about any local low-key event.

I'd run the course twice in training recently, and I've biked and elliptigoed around the rural area it was held on a ton, so I knew what I was in for as far as hills.  This would be a difficult course to negative split on!  I always perform best in races when I disregard my watch, so I did just that, also knowing that my splits would fluctuate based on the hills in each mile.  The first 4.5 miles are a net downhill, then the rest of the race is a net uphill.  To add insult to injury, on race day we had a pretty powerful east wind to contend with during the second half of the race.  It was about 34 degrees with a windchill of 22.

After the gun, the field spread out and I settled into the appropriate effort level for 12 miles (a 20k is 12.43 miles, but the last bit always takes care of itself!).  For the first 4 miles I eyed men in front of me and picked a few off, but from then on I was solo.  Six men finished in front of me, but not close enough to help me much, although I could see the slowest of the six for the whole race and kept trying to catch him, but he was pretty steadily the same distance ahead of me.  I went into this race knowing it was unlikely I'd have any female competition, and I was excited about running a race I had a chance to win (vs. all those big races I've run trying for times in the past several years), but I can never go quite as far to the well without women competitors around me (which is why I ran those big races when I was trying for times!).

Find me in pink & wearing the least clothing!

The course miles were not marked so I paid attention to my watch beeping/vibrating, and with each beep I'd tell myself, "starting an 11 mile tempo", "starting a 10 mile tempo", etc.  Mile 5 was the first with a couple of very noticeable uphills, one of which has caused me a lot of trauma when biking the area (as in, I almost have to get off the bike and walk it up, lol).  I was feeling good and kept pressing though, and I also took a gel between miles 6 and 7.  I usually don't take in anything during half marathons since they are less than 90 minutes of running, but since I was running 20 miles total I thought I'd need more fuel, plus I love a good caffeine boost during a race!  During mile 7 I started feeling fatigued, but that's not unusual for halves so I embraced it.  I tried to maintain focus and keep the pedal to the metal, but it is harder to do that when running alone.

Farm roads solo

I knew the stretch from about 7.5-9.5 was going to be tough because it's all incline, and on race day it was also against the wind.  It isn't steep but 2 miles is a long way to race an incline.  I shed my arm warmers and tossed them into a field entrance about halfway through, partially just to give myself a way to mentally break it up (also because I'd had them pushed down since mile 2)! We also had to cross highway 125 during that stretch, which the race organizers can't stop traffic on.  They warned us about this ahead of time, and living in that area I knew it'd be hit or miss on whether we'd have to stop (it's not super busy but it is a highway!).  There were volunteers at the intersection yelling at runners when traffic was coming.  They were yelling at me to stop, and I came really close to just going because I thought I could make it, but in the end I did stop for a car.  I only lost a handful of seconds, but it was more the losing my rhythm part that was annoying.

A friend who was course marshalling at
highway 125 sent me this shot - caption it
"I think I can beat that car..."

Once I got through the long incline part I was relieved, but still running into the wind until the final mile.  We were passing through slower 10k runners at this time, which mostly helped but at times was a trick because they were blocking the tangents.  I tried to push and enjoy, and I really loved this race experience, but of course was also ready to be done towards the end.  During the final mile I kept telling myself, "You have more to give" and pushing.  After the final steep uphill about a quarter mile from the finish, I really tried to kick, even more so once I realized I could be under 1:20!  I ran a 20k time trial in 1:20:35 in September on a better course, and did not expect to beat that time, so seeing the 1:19 was really exciting!  I came through in 1:19:41 with a smile on my face.  The course is certified, meaning it is 12.43 miles on the tangents, making my average pace 6:24.  My finishing video is here.

Final stretch sequence by Jon

Final stretch race face professional shots

20ks are not a common race distance, and I knew barring disaster I would break the existing age 40 record of 1:37:49, but I wanted to set a record I was proud of.  I also set a 20k PR, even if you count the time trial I did 5 months ago (which I wasn't counting, until I beat it, bahaha!)!  It's not quite as fast as my marathon PR pace (6:19), but for the circumstances I think it was solid.

The finisher medals were adorable

My running buddies made out well in the race too!  Brad was overall male in the 20k, with Colin in second overall male.  Casey was overall female in the 10k, I was overall female in the 20k, and Sarah (not pictured) was second overall female in the 20k.  A solid day for our Miles from Mentor crew!

Casey, Brad, Colin, me

I had 20 miles total on tap for the day, which meant a 5 mile cool down (I'd run 2.9 miles to warm up, so if I'd have done the math more precisely I'd have known I could do "just" 4.7 to cool down).  I drank some Ucan after finishing the race and then took off with Colin, Trae, and Casey.  Casey turned back after a mile since she'd already run quite a bit after her 10k to cheer for us 20kers, and Colin and Trae were kind enough to run with me back to pick up my arm warmers (note to self: they are not needed even in a 22 degree wind chill).

About 2.5 miles into the cool down, I started bonking hard!  I felt like I had zero glycogen and very low blood sugar.  Around mile 3 we passed a course aid station that they were packing up and I stopped and asked them if they had gels, and they did!  They gave me a package of fruit snacks, a package of chews, and a gel.  I was laughing that I was going to have to eat 3 things just to get through the final 2 miles of my cool down.  Once I got the fruit snacks down I started feeling better, although I was still 100% ready to be done.  But once we got to about 4.5 I guess the sugar was in my system and I felt okay again.  This was definitely a lesson I needed to learn about fueling!  I can run 20+ easy miles fasted without a problem (although I know that's not ideal, I have done it many times), but once fast running is thrown into the mix I need so much more fuel!  Before the race I had a handful of Cheerios and most of a drink with 2 scoops of Ucan in water (also nuun energy but that's just electrolytes and caffeine), during the race I had a gel, and then between the race and cool down I had the rest of the Ucan.  That was not sufficient!  Next month when I do a half marathon race with a lot of miles after I am definitely getting up early enough to eat a full meal for breakfast and taking Ucan and gels with me on my cool down.  The final 2 miles of that cool down at 8:30ish pace was harder than the 12.4 miles at 6:25 pace!

After finishing the cool down, we went inside to change, socialize, and eat the amazing post-race lunch!  Chicken noodle soup, grilled cheese, and cake have never tasted so good.

At the time I'm writing this, the official results have everyone in the 20k running about 2:15 faster than we actually did [2/9/21 update - the results have been corrected!].  If there is going to be a timing error, it's nice when it makes you faster, but with it being a record I'd sure like it to be correct!  I've had timing errors in the other direction (i.e., slower) with this results company too, so in a way it feels like I'm getting all of that time I was cheated out of back, but in the interest of full disclosure my time and record should be 1:19:40-something [corrected official gun time is 1:19:41].  I would buy 1:19:30-1:19:50 for watch error, but definitely not 1:17:32, unless we are talking grade adjusted.

I can't wait to do this race thing again!