Coming home…

I’ve always liked back-to-back races. I’ve always said that I didn’t really like running until I discovered distance. And coming back to distance seriously feels like coming home. I don’t have to be fast, I just have to *go* and I’m good at that. Wednesday night as I was finishing my tempo run on the treadmill, I was on my 5th straight day of running and I felt really good. I said to my coach–maybe I’m built for this ultra-life. Last night, I did my miles outside and it was definitely slow and slogging (for me) but I was still happy. My legs felt great.

I’m just starting this training cycle, and I’m only a couple weeks into this new schedule, but man–running more feels like coming home. I fell in love with running when I trained for my first half marathon (Pittsburgh, 2011). Once I learned ultras were a thing–before I even ran my first full marathon–I knew that I wanted to do that. My mind latched onto 50 miles, and while I’ve delayed it for awhile, I’m ready to tackle it now.

I know I’m in the honeymoon phase–that this isn’t always going to be fun or feel easy, but it still feels like it’s what I was meant to be doing it. I want to make the most of it all and get as fit and strong as possible. I want to soak it all in.

More soon…

Happy New Year!

So once again time got away from me…but I’ll catch you up quickly where we left off…

The race I was going to tell you about was the Bobcat Trail Half Marathon. A real true legit trail race. With a generous time limit, I knew I would finish, even if it was ugly. And with rains the week before the race, I can assure you that it was. I went out by myself, and honestly I loved it. It was cold. It was muddy. I fell a bunch and there were parts that scared the crap outta me (creek crossing up to my thighs? crossing a ravine on essentially a 2×4? single track next to some steep drop offs?) but I did it. When I got scared, I took a breath and pushed through. It was a beautiful and challenging course through Burr Oak State Park in Ohio, and I would love to do it again sometime when it’s not muddy af. But I am SO glad that I did it.

After that I did the Penton Turkey Trot in my hometown on Thanksgiving. This is the race, as some long time readers may recall, that I nearly drowned in on my first attempt. I finally felt ready for redemption. It was AMAZING! It is seriously going to rival Pittsburgh for my favorite Turkey Trot and will be tough to decide each year. The course for Penton is a cross country course–little bit of real trail, grass, some road. It was so much fun! Then I tried another trail race at the beginning of December and while it didn’t go as I’d hoped/planned, I’m glad I went out and tried. Trail is tough, it’s unpredictable, but man is it rewarding.

Finished 2018 out with one of my favorite 5ks–the Harmony Silvester. Hilly and awful, I love it. This year it rained and I had a stitch the entire time, but it was good. Even with the stitch I actually ran all of the hills for the first time ever, and I sprinted up the last hill to the finish (slow sprint, but I put it all out there). Started 2019 with the Resolution Run 5k with some of my friends, and it was another good time.

Looking ahead…I’m nervous about some of the stuff on the horizon for me. But if your goals don’t scare you, you’re not thinking big enough. I didn’t have trepidation at first, which concerned me, but now that I’m actually into my training–oh yeah, it’s there. Which is good. Feel the fear, do it anyway, and I fully intend to. I’m registered for both 50-mile races. Getting back into distance has been fun. I mean, I for sure have the “oh god, why am I doing this” moment when I’m setting out for a long run, but honestly 15 miles feels less daunting to me than 3 miles sometimes.

One of the things looking back on 2018 that makes me a little sad is that I didn’t blog as much. I think it’s because I struggled so much emotionally with running and training and it was easier to back away than to ‘use my words.’ That said I know better. I know that writing about the hard things makes them easier, that being vulnerable is always better than holding back. I wish I had written more. So this year I’m going to. My goal is to post twice a week, and regular readers can feel free to nudge me if I haven’t posted at least once in the past week. I want to document this training cycle–even when it’s ugly, even when it’s boring, even when it’s hard. Because I know that it will be, and I know that if I write about it I’ll come out stronger on the other side.

Cheers to the new year, friends. More soon.

Playing Catch-Up…

This is unfortunately what I do. I will get better about blogging more consistently. I had a very busy August as we moved into our new home and time has gotten away from me as I work on getting into a new routine here.

So…shortly after moving into our new home–like the next weekend–I did my first trail race in a long time. Peer pressure–and the promise of a sweet medal–got the better of me.  So I did the Two Face race…and it went really well. I actually loved it–much to my surprise. Suddenly I was overcome with a desire to run all of the trail, while still working on my speed for the fall races I had coming up. So I stayed the course and put trail on the back-burner.

I spent the better part of this year focusing on speed, and I was getting really burnt out on it from a mental standpoint. The summer was incredibly frustrating with the heat and humidity–I couldn’t hit my paces, I couldn’t hold my paces, and even though my coach and everyone else was assuring me that it was the weather, I still just couldn’t accept it. I’ve never worked so hard to consistently fall short–to the point I just wanted my big fall race to be over and done with so I could move on and stop thinking about it.

I love the hard work. I love the grind of training and having a plan. Nothing makes me happier than checking the boxes. But three back-to-back training cycles with a singular focus was pretty much my breaking point. I’ve learned a lot about myself this year, I stepped outside my comfort zone, I learned to dig deeper than I ever thought I could and that I’m capable of more than I ever thought. That’s been the beauty of having a coach–and why I knew I needed one. Some people can push themselves without that external influence–I knew I couldn’t. I knew I would keep selling myself short without someone pushing me to try. I may not have hit all the time goals I set this year, but I can say without a doubt that I left it out on the course every time. I gave it everything I had, even when things didn’t go according to plan.

Which brings me to the Columbus Half Marathon–my big fall goal race. I was going for a 2:10 half. I’d been working towards it steadfastly all summer, despite my frustration and waning interest. The weather broke, it all seemed to be lining up–even if I fell short of 2:10 I figured I would at least PR. Then race weekend hit and it was COLD. It was in the 30s the entire time I was running. I didn’t have quite enough clothing with me (I hadn’t run in those temps for months) and my legs never warmed up. I couldn’t get the turnover I needed to hit my paces. But I did the best I could and finished the race. One thing that really helped with my overall attitude towards it was that the whole race is a means of fundraising for Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and mile 11 is the Angel mile–a tribute to the kids who didn’t make it. Having their families out there, cheering me on made it really impossible to be upset about something as insignificant as a race time. Was I going to hit my goal? No. Was I going to PR? No. But I’m healthy, I’m out there doing something that I love. I GET to do this, and not everyone is so lucky. When you put it in that perspective, nothing mattered but crossing the finish line.

Honestly? I was just happy for it to be over. I’d originally had a goal for EQT as well–and by the time I was done in Columbus I didn’t care. I decided that my times didn’t matter anymore, I just wanted to enjoy myself and running for at least a month. No pressure. No times to think about. Just go out and run with my friends and have a good time. So that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. I almost didn’t even start my watch for EQT–I just enjoyed running through my city. I took in the views in a way I don’t when I’m worried about my pace. I took Jello shots when offered near the finish line–I never would have even noticed them if I’d been worried about my time. It was great.

Which brings me to this week…I met with my coach to talk about next year. I’m so excited about next year. I’m going back to my roots, my first love–distance. Playing with speed has been fun, and something I want to continue to work on, but distance is how I fell in love with running in the first place. I’ve always wanted to do ultras–I’ve dreamed of doing 50 miles for years. Then I discovered that I didn’t really like trail (or so I thought…) so I kind of gave up on that. But my world opened up this year. So next year–bring it on.  A marathon PR and 2 50-milers are in the works, and then I’ll change gears and work on speed for a fall half marathon. It seems I’ll be less likely to burn out since I’ll shift gears before the fall, and my plan will be more varied training for longer distances–I’ll get to do some trail, some stairs, some city roads, hills, speed. The variation will be good for me mentally. I’m excited to have a few more weeks of “freedom” before I’m back in training, but I’m equally excited for the possibilities next year holds.

One more thing to catch up on…my race this weekend. But I’ll save that for my next post (coming soon, I promise…)

Burning River–The Crew Experience

This weekend I had a great experience serving as race crew for a couple of my dear friends. Sarah is an experienced ultra runner, my BRF  was doing his first point-to-point ultra race and second 50-miler. For races like this runners are able to have “drop bags” with supplies that will be taken to various aid stations so they can change things out or get fresh items, and at other stops they can have people meet them to provide that support and some encouragement. I had the privilege of being the support person meeting them at several points on the course to make sure they had what they needed. Quickly refilling water packs and bottles, touching up bug spray and sunscreen, swapping out shoes, helping with band-aids and anti-chafe balm, reloading snack supplies and getting them back on the trail as quickly as possible was my main mission–then once they were on their way I’d pack back up and drive to the next stop, picking up anything that they might need along the way.

I spent a lot of time waiting. Talking to other crew members. Made some new friends. It was great. I had a great time. My friends did well–BRF not only finished but managed a 5-minute PR on a tougher course. Sarah finished (her only real goal). And I…really can’t wait to start running distance again. This year has been good for me and I’m glad I stepped back to work on speed, but damn I miss running distance. I’m excited for my own 50-miler next year (yes, you read that right). I hope I can crew for my friends again at some point as well…I really like taking care of people and being part of the event. I love the atmosphere of trail events even though I’m not really a trail runner (at least not yet, never say never…).

The weekend was full of good friends, and food, excellent beer, laughs, hot tubs, hotel sleep overs, lots of driving and happy feelings. I came home exhausted but so so proud of my friends and glad to have played a small role in it. It definitely sparked some things in my mind and now I’m looking forward to the things on the horizon–next year is going to be interesting, that’s for sure. I am biting the bullet and doing a trail race myself for the first time in over a year (got suckered in by a sweet medal I couldn’t resist and my enabling friends).  I’m trying to reign in my newfound enthusiasm until I get through that 10k in a couple of weeks, but I’m definitely approaching it differently than I was when I signed up.

In the meantime, I need to shift my focus to the main event for the fall–don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of fall races lined up because I’m me, but my big goal race is the Columbus Half Marathon and I have another big goal. Time to buckle down and focus on getting that done.

More soon…

Liberty Mile Recap…

Last Friday was the Liberty Mile. The race I’ve been training for. The race that started this quest a year ago when my friend challenged me to beat his time. I’ve worked my ass off. I’ve lost sleep over this, cried over this, stressed over this…and it’s all over…sort of.

Did I hit my goal time? Nope. Not even close. But I did come in 59 seconds faster than last year, going sub-9 for my mile time. Another month and I think I could’ve done it, but time was not on my side. And I’m really–remarkably–okay with that. I’m really proud of my race and my time. I worked really hard to get there, I didn’t give up, I didn’t back off and I didn’t quit. It wasn’t what I wanted, but it’s mine and I earned it.

I never expected that wanting to get faster would be the emotional journey that it has been. I mean, it’s far from over. I’m just scratching the surface, but this has challenged everything I thought I knew about myself. I’ve been forced to confront my fears and insecurities and push through them–everything I want is on the other side, and the only way out is through. I’ve discovered that as much as I love a good long run with my friends, I also really love a hard workout at the track by myself (#ILikeAwfulThings). Somehow, in working so hard and focusing so much, I’ve learned to not take it so seriously–it’s just running. I’m not a professional athlete. This is FUN. I do it because I love it and I want to–I don’t HAVE to. That just because I’m not there YET doesn’t mean that I can’t or won’t get there.

I’m not one to give away my power. I did the work. I earned these accomplishments, they are mine. But I didn’t get here by myself. I would not have gone for this if my my BRF hadn’t challenged me. I have hated him for it at times when the emotional work was getting the best of me (as unexpected emotional work is wont to do), but ultimately I am so, so thankful that he pushed me. He’s also been one of my biggest cheerleaders through the process.  I wouldn’t be where I am without him. And my other big thank you is to my coach Sara for challenging me and helping me progress, for pacing me, for working with me and shifting my workouts when my crazy starts to take over, and for talking me through my frustrations and growing pains. I’m so excited for what we’ve already accomplished and can’t wait for the other big things on the horizon.

Me before the race

Near the finish…I was on my friend Lara’s heels for the entire race!

official time. I broke 9. I’m happy.

More soon, friends, it’s another big running weekend and my journey is far from over. We’re just getting started.

Lessons Learned from Skipping My Rest Day…

Never in a million years did I think that working on speed would lead me on the emotional journey I’ve been on, but here we are. Growing pains all around. Along with my struggle with dissonance and seeing myself as I am, I’ve also really been struggling to see progress in my running lately. I’ve been struggling to hit my paces, 5ks have been slower than I know I’m capable of, and it’s been bugging me. I’m putting in work and I’m trying and I just don’t see that I’m getting anywhere.

I had a heart to heart with my coach. I talked to my BRF. I tried to relax and trust the process. On Wednesday I did my tempo run on the treadmill so I could prove to myself that the paces are possible, and that it’s possible for me to push through and sustain them–which I did. Then on Thursday, it was the first Flash 5k of the season for SCRR, and while it was supposed to be my rest day, I got coach’s blessing to participate as long as I took it easy.

Ever one to follow the rules, I went into it with the plan to take it easy. I didn’t even bring my watch with me, I left it at home so I wouldn’t be tempted to push. I started the Strava app, put it in my pocket, and went. I did what felt good at any given point in time–sometimes I ran hard, sometimes I backed off, sometimes I walked–and I didn’t stress about it. I was out to have a run and fun with my friends. I came in around 33:47–which was my race pace last year when I was trying. I was pumped because I took it so easy. I wasn’t trying. In that moment I could see the progress that my coach and friends assured me was happening.

This was reinforced on Saturday. I did the Yinzer 5k, and I went in with the intention of racing it and going sub-30 again, but I was also aware that I had skipped my rest day and was working with tired legs, so I figured I’d give it my best shot and see what happened. I kept up with the 9:30s for the first mile, but then I started cramping so I backed off, got some water, walked a minute. I picked it back up for mile 3 and finished in 31:36. Just 6 seconds off of my PR from last fall. If I could do that when it wasn’t even my best effort…that’s progress.

Even yesterday when I was doing my recovery workout on the rower–when I first started I could do about 10 minutes on the rower before my back would start screaming at me, yesterday I did a solid 20 minutes and could have kept going. I love how strong I’m getting. It’s a good place to be going into another track workout.

More soon…

Emotional Overload…(dissonance, part 2)

“You do not appreciate how far you have come.”

That pretty much sums up this week (while also being one of the biggest understatements of my life). Damn this week was an emotional rollercoaster.

Monday, I had a timed mile workout–since the next big goal is Liberty Mile and the challenge that started this whole thing–we needed to get a baseline for where I am at this point in my training. And the results were decent–9:10, about 45 seconds faster than Liberty Mile last year. Not what I personally had hoped for (I was hoping for sub-9) but not terrible. And I definitely gave my all–I had 2 more miles after that to do and my calves were TOAST after that mile…I walked a LOT of the next mile trying to get my legs back under me, which frustrated me, but again, is what it is. I guess the seeds of what would come later were planted in this workout.

Tuesday was unremarkable. Solid workout at the gym. Wednesday, however, was a big old mess. I was in a bad headspace. Still kinda miffed at my performance on Monday, my brain went back to the half and I was pissed that I missed that goal. Then I looked at my tempo workout for that day and instantly felt defeated–I just knew I couldn’t do it. I frequently look at my workouts and know it’s going to be a stretch–but that’s the POINT. If I don’t go for things that seem just slightly out of my reach I won’t improve. I get there by going for it. But in that moment, this workout felt impossible and I spent all day worrying about it and when it was time to execute I fell apart. I *couldn’t* do it. I couldn’t get myself anywhere *close.* The wheels came off. I literally stopped and cried on the trail at one point. It was as though every negative thought I’ve ever had about myself was presenting itself for duty during that run (and given my general tendency to be overly self-critical…this is no small feat). I got through it and got 5 miles in, nowhere near what I wanted or what they should have been but done and on the books no less.

I went home and tried to talk it out with my BRF, or more accurately, I lost my shit and he tried to give me perspective and talk me down. It didn’t really work. I went to bed hoping some sleep would hit the re-set button and I’d feel better in the morning. It did, a little. I was able to be a little more objective about the run. Sent my coach a list of the things I thought went wrong. I spent the day being more gentle with myself and trying to give myself the grace and space to work through these feelings.

It all comes back to the deeper issues of the dissonance I’ve been talking about. I don’t see myself as I am, I see myself as I was and I compare that with what I think I *should* be. And that chasm–invisible though it might be–causes me a lot of distress. When I’m upset about anything, my instinct is to turn that inward and beat myself up–my run wasn’t bad for these 5 external reasons, my run was bad because I’M not good enough. I’m weak, lazy, slow, and fat. The things I’ve always written myself off as and tried like hell to show I’m not. My logical brain realizes that none of these things are true. I am very much a work in progress, but none of the insults I hurl at myself, the things I’ve said since I was a teenager, are true. I’ve worked my ass off to get where I am–personally, professionally, as a runner–and I’m quick to discount all of that the second something doesn’t play out the way I want it to.

I gave myself space on Thursday to process, to recover, to be. And that helped. I went to bed early and was in a much better frame of mind when I got up on Friday. Had a really great workout on Friday night, and a great run on Saturday morning. Sat around after the run drinking coffee and having breakfast with some of my friends. The subject at one point turned to weight loss–as women and runners something we all have at least some experience with. Old pictures started to surface. I pulled up one of my most-striking:

Wow. I’d never have realized that was you. Which strikes me as odd because that’s basically how I see myself. Intellectually, I get it. Intellectually, I know better. But my self-image is that I’m still 200 pounds…It may not be who I see in the mirror, but it’s who I see in my head. Hard, concrete, irrefutable evidence is starting to chip away at this fallacy. I had a good dose of that over the weekend. Those moments that make you go “Fuuuuuuuuuuuck” because you realize that you’ve been really wrong this whole time. I consciously recognized this weekend how far I’ve come. Not just the lip service of posting old running workouts to Facebook comparing them to more recent ones, not just a ‘transformation Tuesday’ insta post that’s hard for me to look at. But actually, consciously, realizing that I’ve been flat out WRONG about myself and that there are things I need to stop saying to myself to get out of that headspace. Denial is a big part of dissonance, especially in my case. After so much evidence presents you can’t deny any longer and I’m hitting that point.  Baby steps. Inching ever closer to my goals and the person I want to be.


Lots more to say, but for now it’s time to get to work. More soon.

Dissonance: a race recap

Definition of dissonance

1a : lack of agreement

  • the dissonance between the truth and what people want to believeespecially : inconsistency between the beliefs one holds or between one’s actions and one’s beliefs — compare cognitive dissonance

From <>

This story started years ago, before I started running, but it’s only grown and changed shape over the years. I’ve talked about it before, it’s hardly new (see this post and this post  among who knows how many others) but it’s the internal struggle I keep coming back to, and I think I’m making some headway after this weekend.

I’ve been training. Hard. Part of why I haven’t been writing as much, I suppose. Speed work, cross training, strength training, core work, tempo runs, long runs, recovery work…I love every minute of it, but the grind isn’t that exciting (if you follow my Instagram at all, I’m sure you probably realize this). My hard work is paying off though–I’m stronger, fitter, faster–all the things I wanted.

The Pittsburgh Half Marathon was my second big goal race for the year. I wanted to break 2:15–a steep goal, considering my previous PR (on this same course) was 2:26:49. Pittsburgh has always been my PR course. I’ve run 19 half marathons as of this weekend and all of my PRs have come at Pittsburgh. It’s not an easy course, but I love it. I prefer challenging courses. And I put in the work. I felt confident going into the race. And it started off great. No pacers in sight, but I managed to hold back for the first mile and not sprint out of the gate like an idiot. I felt good, I felt strong. Then I hit the back half of the course. My second gel sat in my stomach like a rock. The humidity was suffocating and I wished the rain we were anticipating would just come along already. I struggled through the south side and Birmingham bridge (which feels less like a bridge and more like you’re running on the parkway). I saw my goal slipping away. I fought but couldn’t keep my pace. Mile 11 was the worst. Then I saw the sign for Mile 12. I looked at my watch. It was a long shot. Super long. I accepted it was probably not going to happen. But I wanted to see how close I could get. So I dug in. While it helps that the last mile is mostly downhill, I still grunted and groaned and I worked to get there. My goal slipped away but I kept pushing until I got across the finish line. 2:17:44. Not my goal, but a 9-minute PR.

And that last mile is where our story really begins.

That decision to dig in and go for it is where it starts. Last year I wouldn’t have done that. Last year I *didn’t* do that. I would see I wasn’t going to hit my goal and I would half-ass the rest of the race. I’d manage a PR but not what I could’ve done. But I didn’t do that. I didn’t back off–I dug in. My last mile was my fastest of the whole race because as much as I struggled before that, I wasn’t ready to give up on myself and phone it in. And when I think about this race, that is what I’m most proud of. I didn’t hit my goal, but that doesn’t matter. The 9-minute PR is awesome, but it’s a side-effect of the larger point–I DIDN’T QUIT. I dug deep and I fought and I EARNED that. That’s what brings me to tears–the fact I could’ve given up, the way I have so many times before, and I didn’t. I cried a couple of times on my way home from the race, and in fact, I’m tearing up now.

Which brings me back to the start of this post–dissonance. I have been wrestling with it hardcore lately. My BRF asked me this morning how I felt. Physically? A little sore. Not too bad, but enough to remind me that I didn’t just run yesterday, but I actually *raced*. Emotionally? Wrecked. Somewhere between really proud of how it all went down and pissed at myself for missing my goal. He told me to stop, to be proud of myself and proceeded with a fantastic pep talk that did in fact leave me in tears before I went into work. I wish I could’ve taken today off. Races have become so emotional for me lately and it’s all because of the dissonance–as my BRF said, it’s the war between my heart that wants to be happy and proud of my accomplishments, and my brain that doesn’t want to accept it. Your heart, he said, is winning.

He’s right. I’m struggling so much because I still haven’t been able to let go of who I’ve always told myself I am, and who I think of myself as. The more evidence I have that that person *isn’t* actually me, the harder it gets. My brain doesn’t want to be wrong, so it fights. You’re fat, you’re lazy, you’re weak, you’re slow. Built for distance, not for speed. You don’t look like a runner. The cacophony echoes in my head, as it has for years, listing the reasons why I’m not good enough, and never will be.


Actual evidence suggests that none of that is true. Some of it *might* have been at one point in time, but it isn’t true now. The arguments of my brain have less and less to stand on because the evidence contradicts. And I still have a lot of emotional work to do to release the baggage of who I thought myself to be, but a big hurdle was not quitting on myself yesterday and how incredibly proud of that I am. I met with my coach tonight, and moving into this next training cycle I’m chasing big scary goals I never gave myself permission to consider before. Things I would’ve written off as impossible–but they aren’t. Easy? No, but nothing worth having ever is. Will I reach them? Eventually. Maybe not in the original time line, but maybe I will…I won’t know if I don’t go for it. What I do know is that I’m so excited to try. I’m still trying to figure out who this person is, the one I’ve never given myself permission to be, but so far I kind of dig her and I’m excited to see what she can do.

More soon…

PR Weekend…

So I ran a couple of races this weekend…which hardly seems new, but since I’ve been actually focusing on training I haven’t been racing as much. Saturday was one of the goal races my coach and I had set–the Pittsburgh Pirates Home Run 5k. I ran this race last year, only I did the 10k, and it felt VERY strange to not be doing 10k. I mean, I’ve come around and no longer hate 5ks the way I used to, but I still tend to pick slightly longer distances when they are an option. But I digress–this was the goal race we’d chosen for my first big goal: breaking 30 minutes in the 5k.

I came into race day nervous but knowing I had put in the work. I followed my training plan to almost the letter–maybe missed some XT here and there, but my runs were on point. I hit and pushed my paces consistently. I did the work. But I was nervous. Because training was never the hard part for me. My struggle always came on race day, during the race. I would get close, get scared, back off.  I repeated this pattern in almost every race that I actually set a goal for. So while I came into Saturday knowing there was no physical reason I would fail, I was terrified I would back off when I should be digging in. My coach was set to pace the group I started with (9:30s…which still blows my mind–me running sub 10s…what?), and my instructions were to stick with her for the first 2 miles, then she’d push me on my way to speed up, and when I saw the stadium I was to dig in and push hard to the finish. So I kept up for the first mile and a half. Then we hit the only significant downhill in the course and I couldn’t hold back, so I sped up and went with it. And I kept going. I struggled a little in mile 3, but I kept going. I didn’t quit. I didn’t back off. I dug in and pushed through. And it went down just like I pictured it during my speedwork–I crossed the line with 29:something on the clock. The rest was a little surreal to me. I waited for my coach, got my medal, texted with my husband and BRF, and I cried. Official time–29:30. Clock time was 29:56. No matter how you look at it I hit my goal. Average pace 9:25. I knew I could do it but I’m still kind of in awe that I did.

Which brings me to Sunday, when I traveled to Ohio to do the 10-Mile Drop. I actually did these two races back to back last year as well with good results, so I was excited to repeat. The plan going in was to try to hold my half marathon goal pace since we’re just a few weeks out from my next big goal race. The weather sucked–cold and rainy and windy up on the lake. No bueno. It was NOT fun. My friend and I were seriously questioning our life choices on the bus to the start line. But we started. And I started off way faster than half marathon goal pace. But it felt…right. I wanted to see how long I could keep it up. Mile after mile after mile I was hitting sub-10 paces. When I hit water stops my pace dropped some (obviously) but for the most part I was hitting goal pace or faster. Until Mile 9, which was the freaking WORST. Heading back to the finish, running into the cold wind, my pace dropped significantly and the 10-minute pacer finally passed me. But once I hit that Mile 9 flag, and I had one mile left, I dug in. I was starting to struggle again when a guy walking out from the finish area said to us all (though I felt like he was talking directly to me) “3 more minutes! you’re almost there!” I can do anything for 3 minutes, I thought, thinking of all my speedwork. So I dug deeper and pushed through to the finish. 1:39:45, average pace 9:59. I averaged just under 10 minute miles for the whole 10 miles.

Never did I expect that. And I don’t think I would’ve tried that if I hadn’t had the race I did on Saturday. Knowing I could go sub 10 for 3 miles I figured I had nothing to lose by trying it. It’s an “easier” course than Pittsburgh (net is downhill but it’s more flat with a very slight downhill grade) but it’s not as interesting and there’s not much crowd support (even when the weather is better). Still I definitely feel good about my goal for Pittsburgh at this point–if I could do that on a race course that is less fun to me, then I can’t wait to see what I pull off at one of my favorite races.

I’m still pretty emotional about this weekend. I conquered a big demon and a big hurdle that had been looming for me. Sky’s the limit at this point. I can do anything–and I’m excited to try.

Long Overdue…

Wow, has it really been over three months since I posted? UGH. I hate that. I could make a bunch of excuses about life being busy–and it has been–but that’s all they are, excuses. Truth is, I’ve been starting posts in my head, but not putting fingers to keyboard and so they just haven’t come to fruition.. There’s almost too much to write about so I didn’t really know where to start.

We left off with me having screamed at my BRF (best running friend) and realizing that I needed to shake up some things if I was ever going to get where I want to be running wise. So I met with a running coach and we decided we’d start working together after the start of the year, and that for the last couple months of 2017 I just needed to focus on continuing to run and keep my base.

Continue to run, I did. One of my dear friends was training for the Disney Dopey Challenge–48.6 miles over 4 days–and I went along for the ride on some of her longer training runs. She was one of the people who made me realize that long runs are always better when you have someone to complain with. Some of them were a real struggle, but we had fun getting lost in the city and figuring out how to get the miles. These runs also reminded me how much I love distance running, and kind of made me miss it–even though I promised that I’m not doing distance this year.

I’m not doing distance this year. Half marathons and shorter. And I MISS it. My friends are mostly training for the full (or longer) and man do I wish I could be out there on their longer runs with them. But I’m focusing on speed and sticking to the plan from my coach–and it’s working. I’m already seeing crazy progress from sticking to the plan. And I love it. I love the hard work. Not to say it’s not without it’s struggles. Cut back weeks are rough for me-my anxiety spirals when I don’t have the quality workouts, so we’re adjusting my plan to keep me sane. Getting faster also means I can’t run with my friends as much. They’re running long and slow–and I can’t. The time is coming for me to graduate pace groups on our Saturday runs and I’m really struggling with it–because even though I’m not running *with* them now, I know they are *there*. I can see them. We start and finish together. I couldn’t handle the group runs before I found my people–there are few things worse than being completely alone in a group. But growth means challenging yourself and being uncomfortable, so soon I’ll bite the bullet and in the end it will be worth it.

Had to adjust my training plan this week because I pushed last weekend’s long run off to Sunday. On Saturday I had the honor and pleasure of filling in as race support crew for my BRF during his third 50k.  His wife came down sick and he needed someone last minute so I jumped in. I had so much fun. I helped more than just him–opening gels, handing out oranges and the occasional beer (since we weren’t drinking them). We had a perfect location set up–I could see him coming and made sure his stuff was ready when he got there so he didn’t lose too much time. And he absolutely crushed his goal, blew it completely out of the water. He PR’d by over 20 minutes. It was incredible to be there to witness it–he’s been training so hard and it’s paying off. I am so incredibly proud of him–you’d think I PR’d by the way I grin when I talk about it. My heart bursts when I think about how far he’s come as a runner in the time I’ve known him, and how he’s pushed me in the process. Five years ago this past weekend we ran together for the first time and it was during the same race he participated in–though he wasn’t running it at the time. In fact, when we talked about the race and the distance he said he would NEVER do that. But he did. And then he did it again. And then he did it again and he CRUSHED it.

In my own world, I PR’d a recent 10-mile race (on a tougher course than I’d set the original PR) by 4 minutes, so I’m getting really excited for my spring goal races to see what PRs I can pull off. I feel myself getting stronger and faster. I’m excited for my friends who are all chasing big goals–new times, new distances, some tackling their first ever races. I don’t know where I would be without this sport, but I’m so thankful for it and the people it’s brought into my life. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year holds for all of us.

More soon (for real, I promise)…