Marathon Training: Week 4

This was a week, let me tell you. Slightly less stressful but HOT. Rested on Monday since I raced on Sunday. Tuesday I blew off my cross-training workout in favor of an impromptu date night with my husband. Wednesday I did my now usual group run with the SCRR East Enders, though only 2 of us showed up and I cut it short because it was HOT and I was completely drained. Thursday was the second SCRR Flash 5k (though it was my first) and I didn’t get the time that I wanted, but it was a great event and I had a fantastic time. A Flash 5k is kind of like Flash Mob for runners–date and time are publicized ahead, but location isn’t released until that day. You show up, you run. No charge, no frills, just a mass of people running a 5k. And this particular one had a couple of local food trucks, so I snagged some dinner before I headed home. Shout out to The Coop Pgh for the AMAZING Chicken & Waffles…seriously hit the spot and they were incredible. Friday was cross training and a warm up mile at Pittsburgh Kettlebell and Performance. Great class, decent mile. Got it done. Saturday I needed to log 10 miles for my long run, so I headed out to Annie’s Run–a local 6 hour trail event fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation put on by a member of my running club. Didn’t do the full 6 hours, just the 10 miles I needed to get in. Another great no frills event, with excellent food at the aid station. I’m not a trail girl, but I’d do it again.

Sunday I spent recovering and preparing for my work trip this week. I’m on a plane for Milwaukee at the butt crack of dawn on Monday morning and not coming back until Friday evening. Did some finagling to figure out runs while I’m out there, and hopefully I can hook up with their local running club for a run or two-we’ll see. More later.

Happy Monday, Friends.

Race Recap: ORTC Summer Road Race 10k/Marathon Training Week 3

The end of last week was really rough. Thursday was a struggle at work and Friday was even worse. My anxiety was off the charts, I was on edge all day. By the time I wrapped it up at work, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go to go to the gym. But I changed my clothes, and I went–it might not make me feel better, but not going would definitely make me feel worse. And since I was going and had time to kill before class, I figured I might as well get a warm up mile in. I honestly did not have high hopes for it, the negativity in my head was spinning, and though I was going to force my hand a bit by using the treadmill, I didn’t expect anything spectacular. But I pushed. I bumped the speed up, then up again, then up again. And I finished my mile:

I was happy, but honestly, I was sure that I’d run faster with my buddy before, so I sent the pic to my husband and buddy, but basically let it go. I pushed through the rest of the workout–not as heavy as I would have liked to go, but I gave it everything I had in me. And I did feel better.

When I got home I looked to see what my fastest mile was so I could see where I was at. It wasn’t with my buddy, as I had suspected. It was at the Turkey Trot last November. And it was in the low 9s. That was my first sub 9-minute mile. How could I not be proud of that? Realizing that made me ecstatic.

So I went into this weekend with a major boost. My scheduled long run was supposed to be…6 miles. Not long by my definition, so I wanted to find a 10k to make it interesting. My running club never lets me down, when I failed to find something using my usual sources, I reached out and someone suggested a race on Sunday. An hour away, but I’ve driven further for shorter races, so no biggie to me. So I registered, and yesterday I drove up to Rochester, PA for the ORTC Summer Road Race 10k.

Flat, looped course along the Ohio River. It was pretty and scenic. Definitely different. The course is a 5k loop so the 10k runners did it twice. Very small field–like 23 in the 10k–but because of the loops it wasn’t desolate until the end (of course I was near the end). Definitely not a PR for me (as I’d initially hoped) but I ran the whole thing, which officially makes this the farthest I’ve run without walking in months. Baby steps, I’m getting my legs and confidence back slowly but surely.

This week I have a SCRR Flash 5k on Thursday–they announce the time and location the day of, you show up and run. Kind of excited, since I couldn’t do the last one and they only do 3 each summer. A 10-mile long run is on the schedule for next weekend, and I haven’t decided where and how that’s happening yet, but I’ll figure that out.

Happy Monday, Friends.

Race Recap: Brentwood Firecracker 5k

Lemme tell you, this week was ROUGH. I love holidays, but short weeks at work are always the worst–maybe that’s where some of my aversion to taking time off comes from? I don’t know. But yesterday was just a bad day all around. Details aren’t important here, but I took the evening off from training to regroup and try to come at the weekend with a better attitude.

So Tuesday…I ran a race. The Brentwood Firecracker 5k. I haven’t done this race in about 4 years (last time was 2013 when I literally lived a few streets away in the neighboring borough). It’s a tough course–lots of rolling hills and you finish uphill. And it’s in July so it’s HOT. But it’s also hugely fun–it’s BIG race (over 2,000 runners for a 5k–and that is the only distance), it takes place right before their 4th of July parade so the streets are literally lined with spectators (whose chairs have been saving their parade spots for the better part of a week). The race started at 9. It was HOT. I was pissy that I’d worn my awesome go ‘Murica outfit instead of finding something more weather friendly. I didn’t have high hopes for the race. It was HOT (have I mentioned that?), I’d been having some crappy runs, it’s a tough course. Whatever, I’d have a good time even if my time wasn’t good. And I was going to tailgate with some people from our running group after the race, so it was going to be a good day.

The race starts. I take off, and it’s going better than expected. I pushed through miles one and two and was happy with how I was doing. Then I fell apart in mile three. I just couldn’t make myself go. I walked what felt like an awful lot. I ended up with a course PR, but nowhere near my 5k PR, which at first I was fine with because I wasn’t expecting it anyway.  I went about my day without giving it too much thought. The rest of the holiday was good.

The next day I realized I could’ve actually PRd this race if I’d pushed just a little bit harder in that last mile. If I’d dug just a little bit deeper I could’ve pulled it off. And this annoys me. I’m not beating myself up over it, but I’m definitely annoyed that I folded during the race. Motivation to push harder next time (in the SCRR Flash 5k next Thursday…).

Took part in the group run again on Wednesday. Definitely need to revamp the training schedule–I feel like I need the group run. Speed work will have to factor in somewhere else–which will be good training in discipline for me since it’s something I struggle with doing. The run itself was rough, but I managed to get through 4 miles–a solid mid-week distance for this point in my training. Kettlebell class tonight and long run tomorrow (ha! long run! it’s only 6 miles this week) as long as the weather holds up. Maybe I’ll try to find a 10k to show up for to make it more interesting and redeem myself for Tuesday.

Happy Weekend, Friends!

Marathon Training: Week 2

Didn’t post on Friday but man do I have a lot to talk about today…

Wednesday I did a group run with the SCRR East End group (unofficial) and it was great and EXACTLY what I needed to get me out of the slump I’d been in. I ran 4 straight miles at a decent pace–slower than I’d like, but  considering the temps and time of day I was happy with it. Hung out with the group to BS and have a beer after and it was a much needed release. After that run my perspective started to shift.

My confidence had been lacking for the better part of June. I’d been feeling really good about myself since our vacation in April, but suddenly the magic started to wear off out of nowhere. Runs were lacking and just started feeling lousy about myself. There is a direct correlation in my life between how I feel about my training and athletic abilities and how I feel about my aesthetics–when I feel like my body won’t or can’t do what I want I get hyper critical of the way it looks. Looking ahead at marathon training was also intimidating me, and honestly kind of bumming me out because of all the races I’m turning down for the sake of building mileage. But after Wednesday, when I (admittedly) forced myself through that run, and proved that I CAN do it (which I had started to question) I felt a lot better about myself and I started viewing myself differently–I *felt* like an athlete again.  I can do hard things and I can persevere when I want to give up. I felt renewed confidence in my body and it’s abilities.

So Saturday I set out for my “long” run–8 miles. My knee had acted up for my 6-mile long run the previous week so I was a little nervous going in, but I was going to do what I needed to and hopefully make it through the full 8 on my training plan. It was super humid when I set out at 6 AM, so I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular, I just wanted to get through the mileage. The first half of the run went pretty well. Had to walk a little bit, but forced my own hand and ran up all of the major uphill stretches instead of folding and walking like I normally would (side note: there is NO shame in walking, or in walking hills, I just know that I personally am capable of more so if I walk these particular hills I’m selling myself and my training short). The back half of the run was a different story. I took my gel too late, I ran out of water, I ended up walking more because I was depleted (though I still made myself run the uphill portions on principle). But my knee held up and I finished the run. Which also boosted my confidence–it was hard, it sucked, it didn’t go quite as planned, but I DID it.

I’m struggling with my training plan and may need to make some adjustments. That Wednesday night run was really good for me–and it’s a smaller group than the Saturday runs so its less intimidating and awkward for me. I haven’t been able to do the speedwork group yet as they’ve been on hiatus. A part of me wants to suck it up and do some speedwork on my own so I can stick with the Wednesday night run group. I know that I NEED to do speedwork to get the edge I want and need for my fall marathon goal, but I really like this particular group and I think they’ll push me in a different way. And this is why my training plan is in pencil and I ink it 2 weeks at a time when I get that far…I want to be flexible and open and take advantage of opportunities as they arise. Except for races, because they will interfere with my long runs. I WISH I could still race most every weekend. I LOVE racing, I love racing back to back days, and we’re in the prime season for me to do that. BUT…goals. I HAVE to get my mileage back up in order to run this fall marathon. I’ve carefully scheduled and balanced 2-3 races per month up to the marathon, but oh, man, is it hard for me to cut back so much. Another part of me REALLY wants to do another round of Insanity!…but I know that it will interfere with my running. I might see if I can sneak a couple of days a week into my schedule as 2-a-day workouts just sound super tempting right now, but I also know that I need my rest. So we’ll see. I’ll play with my schedule a bit and see what I can do. This week will be a shift anyway since I’m racing on Tuesday.

Happy Monday, friends.

Weekend recap…

So…Saturday…I played support crew for my buddy who was making an attempt at 50 miles. He’s a road runner like I am (and a damn good one) venturing into the land of trail running because he had a free entry. I’ve done a little more trail than he has, and KNEW he needed someone there (friends and family were to come see him finish, but not for the whole 14+ hour day) so I offered to come crew for him and (if needed and desired) pace him for the last few laps. It was a lap race (unlike my husband’s trail races which are usually point to point) so I was going to be kind of useful and get to see him every lap without driving all over creation–and in between I could read my book completely guilt-free. Long story short, largely because it’s not my story to tell and from my vantage point there’s not much story anyway, the day didn’t go as we’d hoped for a number of reasons, and he ended up dropping out about halfway through–he felt good enough to have continued, but he knew he wasn’t going to make the time cut off and was starting to get in the way of the faster trail runners, so he made the respectable decision to exit with grace. Overall, I am so proud of him for attempting it. He confirmed what he already thought–he does NOT like trail running–and is in overall good spirits about the DNF (it took him 6 years and 50 races to get a DNF, I think that’s a pretty awesome record).

Since I didn’t run Saturday, I was going to do my scheduled 6-mile “long” run on Sunday. It was a perfect day for running, and I set out to do it before I ran some errands, but my left knee was twinging like crazy in that way it does when my IT band is irritated. So I called it–there is no point in forcing 6 miles this early in marathon training when I’ve been running half marathons with fair regularity. I’m already ‘ahead’ of where I should be, so it was better to scratch the run and try again later. I’m gonna go out for the scheduled 3ish today after work, so we’ll see what happens.

More to come. Happy Monday, friends.

Marathon Training: Week 1

Technically this first week isn’t over yet, but there’s something about doing these on a Friday that I like, so here we are. Haven’t followed the plan to the letter, but so far I’ve been pretty damn close. Switched up my cross training on Tuesday, didn’t get to do track workout on Wednesday because the group is on hiatus for a couple of weeks so I did a little bit of hill work instead, got my 3 miles in yesterday. Cross training today and tomorrow…who knows. I’m scheduled for 6, but will (hopefully…) be pacing a friend for the last few loops of a 50-miler, so I might get as much as 18 (again).

I was worried that this was going to be too much, but honestly, right now it just feels good. My runs have not been great, but I’m confident they’ll get better. Also, new shift at work, so I’m getting out earlier, which is nice for the days I’m flat running, and rough when I’m doing a class or group something or other. But I don’t care. I get an hour of my day back and I can find something to do with that ‘wait’ time.

More on Monday. Happy weekend, friends.

Run Between the Suns

Run Between the Suns is a 12-hour trail endurance event.  It’s a 5k trail loop and you do as much as you want/can during the 12-hour window. I’m a road runner, I am not a trail girl, but I LOVE this event. The trail is real–small stream crossings, roots, mud–but friendly and not intimidating for someone who doesn’t do a lot on it. It’s a great friendly atmosphere with everyone smiling and waving and saying “good job” as you pass each other. Fantastic aid station with pretty much everything you could want to eat or drink while you’re pounding the trails. It’s always a good time. At the beginning of the year I had big goals for this event, and I was training accordingly. Then somewhere along the way things shifted–doing more races and stuff like that became more important than the goals I had set for this event and I didn’t work on distance the way I really needed to to hit my goals. So I let them go and I just went out and had a good time. I got 18.6 miles in in about 6 hours. Husband decided he was done and we opted to call it a day and head out.

This week starts fall marathon training. My calves are still a little stiff and sore from Saturday, but running sometimes helps loosen them up so I’m gonna plan to do my short, easy run today on schedule. More on Friday.

Happy Monday, friends.

Recap: All of the Things

So, last week I ran the Youngstown Half Marathon, which kicked off a week of stuff–at least in theory. I rested on Monday. Tuesday I had KB class. Wednesday was originally supposed to be my first speed workout, but it was cancelled for The Big Run for Global Running Day, which I was going to do with some SCRR East Enders. BUT…due to GPS issues (I’m directionally challenged) and traffic, I didn’t end up making it. So I went to Monroeville Community Park for 3 miles. Thursday I went to Y-OWL-ga at Humane Animal Rescue–which was really cool.  Outside on their deck, the weather was perfect, the class was really good–I’m not a big yoga fan, I’m very type A and in my admittedly limited experience, I don’t usually feel like I’m working ‘hard’ enough when I do yoga (I’m sure this is a matter of finding the right class and teacher, but it’s my truth)–but it was a positive experience even though I would’ve preferred a tougher workout. And we were with these two beauties:

On the left we have Mellie, a screech owl, and on the right is Martha, a great horned owl. They both have wing injuries that prevent them from being released back to the wild, so they live at the rescue. Martha fosters baby owls, so they joked this was her night off.

Friday I had KB class, Saturday I “rested” (errands and domestic stuff, but no workout), and yesterday I “ran” (using the term loosely) the RSD Awareness Half Marathon. It did not go well for me. I can’t even blame the heat, my head just wasn’t in the right place with it–I strictly signed up because I needed one more race to ‘moon up’ in Half Fanatics so I wanted to do it. It was tough going for me, largely because it’s a smaller race and I do better with crowd energy and positive peer pressure from other runners–it was difficult to keep pushing when I was mostly by myself. But hey, I finished, so I mooned up, and I’m happy. I love racing, I love it, and I would’ve raced this past weekend for sure, but I probably would’ve done a 5k or 10k instead of a half had I not wanted to moon up.

This week is Shaun week on Beachbody On Demand–brand new workouts from Shaun T–the man behind my beloved Insanity. I cannot wait! It will be a good challenge before marathon training starts. Capping this week off with my 12-hour endurance event. I had big goals for it at the outset of the year, but I care less about that now. I just want to go out, have fun, and see what happens.

Happy Monday, friends.

Race Recap: Youngstown Half Marathon

I love racing. I love it. Even when I’m not pushing for time, I love the environment, the atmosphere, the thrill of the event, the bling at the end (can’t forget that now!). So no one should be surprised that I finished the Ogden (did I mention how amazing that was?) and pretty much immediately signed up for the inaugural Youngstown Half Marathon–because who doesn’t want to race every weekend?  That said, and I actually emailed the RD to make sure we could do it–race day pickup was my deal breaker. I was already making two trips to Ohio that week, a third was fine, but a fourth to pick up race packets was a non-starter. Fortunately, they said race day pickup was fine so the hubs and I signed up. A group from my running club was going, it was gonna be a good day.

Sunday morning we got up stupid early–really stupid early, like 3:30 AM–to get ready so we could head to Youngstown. Mind you the drive takes an hour 15 to an hour and a half, wanted to get there around 6 for packet pickup, race started at 7. So we left at 4:30. Which was slight overkill, but hey, live and learn. Got there, got our packets, got warmed up and ready, got the group photo for the running club, and soon we were in the street ready to start.

Great course, great great course. The half is mostly through Mill Creek park, which I have run before, though man, did I forget about the hills. Like I knew that hills were a thing, but after the Ogden last weekend I kind of brushed them off. MISTAKE. I struggled on this course, much more than I did at Ogden, largely because I underestimated the hills. Admittedly my nutrition has also been off balance lately, and I suffered for that as well. Plenty of good moments during this race, though. I flew on the downhills (that’s always been a strength of mine). And this bridge, in the middle of the park, which I LOVE:

It was the first year for this event and it was really well done–well organized, well executed, and I was overall pleased with the experience. The problems I had had zero to do with the race itself, and I would definitely consider this race again. Also…check out this medal! The photo does not do the glitter justice:

 

And in other news, when I went to update my stats on the Half Fanatics website I realized that I was soooo close to mooning up…I just needed one more race within a week. Sooooo I signed up for another half marathon this weekend. Closer to home on the GAP trail, a smaller event but it will still be nice and will get me that last race (4 half marathons in 37 days) I need to moon up.

Lots going on as I prepare for a round of full marathon training, but more on that later. Happy Monday, friends.

Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic Race Recap

So…on Saturday I ran the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon–billed the toughest half marathon in the US. I’ve long known about this race as a friend from a lifetime ago ran it shortly after we’d started running, but I’ve kind of avoided it–intimidated by that whole “toughest in the nation” thing. But a couple weeks ago, my buddy decided he was gonna run it and asked if I wanted in. So of course I signed up.

Admittedly, I was kind of dreading it. I was excited for the challenge but not excited for the 700 feet of elevation gain over a mile and a half. I apologized in advance to my friend for anything I might say on course or after, and warned him that I might take that swing at him I didn’t get last fall during our 10-miler.

I prepared an epic outfit for the race, figuring if nothing else I wanted to wear something fun. I shook my head at the elevation map and tried to ignore the weather forecast. I drove down to Wheeling and tried to steel myself for what I was sure was going to be rough race. I went in with no time expectations, I simply wanted to finish so I could say that I did it. Met up with the couple of other folks from my running club and got a few pre-race photos. Endured some rain (that mercifully dissipated quickly), and then we were off.

Pre-race in my epic outfit glory–lots of compliments on this one. 

This race was tough to be sure. My time shows that, definitely not my best. BUT somehow, I LOVED it. The race itself isn’t anything spectacular, but despite the wicked hills it was a lot of fun. I walked more than I wanted to but less than I expected to. The worst hill wasn’t the two mile one, but the one at the end that catches you off guard. I was actually on pace for a solid 2:30 finish but ended up with a wicked stitch during the last couple of miles that slowed me down. Finished in 2:41:51, which isn’t awful all things considered.

Post-race with my medal. 

I really liked this race. I will totally do this race again. Not in a score to settle way, though I definitely want to improve my time, but seriously, just because it was FUN. Way more fun than I expected.

Medal and finisher’s towel.

Next weekend: the inaugural Youngstown Half Marathon. Stay tuned.