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.

Race Recap: Mars Band on the Run 10k

Itching for another race after the Pittsburgh Half Marathon I found this one, and hey it raises money for band kids, so why not? Only a 40-minute drive, the weather was perfect–cool, overcast–set up to be a good morning. It was a smallish race, as expected for a fundraiser, but well organized and a nice turnout–there are also  5k and  2k kids fun run options. Only 60 participants in the 10k, but I suspect there were a few more in the 5k, haha.

Geography is not my strong point. I rely pretty heavily on my GPS to get me from A to B and without seeing the lake I can’t really tell you where north is. I have many talents, but this is not one of my strong suits. As such, I seldom bother looking at course maps and just pray courses are well-marked. The maps will mean very little to me anyway, so I just don’t bother.

Someone described the 5k course as ‘gently rolling hills’. The 10k course was not ‘gently rolling hills’. It was straight up HILLS. Which I was, admittedly not expecting, due to my aforementioned directional impairment–I had no idea what that area was like. So I quickly kissed delusions of a new PR goodbye and just went with it. I had a good time, it was a nice little race, and all things considered my time was respectable. What made it for me though, was at the end, a lady I’d been leap-frogging with who crossed the line not too long after me slapped five and thanked me saying I helped push her though the end of the race. That meant a lot, especially with how I struggled during the race. It was a good reminder to keep pushing–you don’t know who’s watching, who’s inspired by you, who you are helping just by doing what you do.

Happy Monday, friends.

Marathon Madness…

A few years ago, when running was really bad for me for a million reasons, I kind of swore off the full marathon. I had no interest in doing another one for a long time, pretty much indefinitely. I never said never, but…I also couldn’t imagine WANTING to do it again–it hurts, and I found the training stressful. And then my running life was reborn, and that old familiar itch for distance came back. So I started poking around and looking at options. While Pittsburgh seemed like a natural choice for my return, the fact of the matter is that I HATE spring marathons. I hate training in the crap of winter to have it be 100 degrees on race day–No, Thank You. That’s the worst. Fall marathons are much more up my alley–train through the awful heat and humidity of summer, and get rewarded with cooler temps on race day. Worst case scenario is that the temp doesn’t break and you run in what you trained in–and you’re already used to it. So I came up with a short list of fall races I was interested in running and started to debate the merits of each. Then a friend posted his race schedule for the year and I was inspired–I could combine running my fall marathon with spending some time with friends I don’t get to see very often. We talked dates, he offered the hubs and I a place to stay if we wanted to come out, and I was sold on the idea–but I wouldn’t register until I knew the date of my other favorite fall race in Pittsburgh. The 10-miler should be in November, but they’ve moved it to October before and I was NOT willing to give up my streak on that race. I have done it every year since it started, and I intend to do it every year they have it as long as I live. Finally the  date was released, there was no conflict, so this weekend I bit the bullet and registered. And this fall I’m running…

the Baltimore Marathon.

I’m excited and nervous. I’ve been scoping out training plans and finally found one that I really like–though of course it will undergo modifications because I have a habit of racing as often as I can. I have a goal time in mind–though like the Pittsburgh Half, I’m not keen to share it publicly yet. The race ends on Raven’s Way, so you know I’m going to be decked in black and gold to represent my beloved Steel City.

I have a few more weeks before the marathon training cycle starts. I know it’s going to be intense, but I’m looking forward to the hard work, and first I have a few more races–a 10k this coming Saturday and the hardest half marathon in the country the following week (I’m a glutton for punishment and a buddy convinced me to sign up…).

Happy Monday, Friends.

 

Processing…

I’m still processing all the awesomeness of this year’s Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend. My husband and a buddy crushed the marathon. I had an amazing experience at the half and I can’t stop thinking about it. I was really distracted all day at work on Monday. I can’t put my finger on why this year’s race is sticking with me so much more than any other year. Even the year I first broke 2:30 faded faster than this. Maybe it’s because I’m still sore, I worked really, really hard during that race and I gave it everything. Perhaps even more than the year I first broke 2:30. Perhaps it’s because of the emotional experiences of friends and my husband, who finished the full after not being able to on previous attempts. Maybe because it was just the perfect day. The weather ended up being amazing. It was the perfect blend of work and fun. I enjoyed every second of this race. I took in the city, the signs, the crowds, but I also worked my tail off during it. Maybe the fact I was mid-pack for the first time in such a large race played a role–I’m used to seeing people ahead of me, but not the huge crowd I had this time. It was really awesome. Maybe the fact I did the Steel Challenge factors in. I had a great time in the 5k on Saturday, even though it was raining. I used to hate 5ks, but not anymore. This was fun. Back to back races are fast becoming one of my favorite things ever. Maybe it’s because this year I had SCRR, and while I’m fairly reserved and not the most social person when I’m at group runs/events, I know that I have the support of an amazing community and seeing and hearing their stories and triumphs made the day even sweeter and more memorable. Oh, and how about this race photo where they actually captured me with both feet off the ground? This was the cherry on top of the weekend–evidence that I ‘get air’.

 

My heart is overwhelmingly full from this experience in a way that I’m having a lot of trouble articulating. And with no races on the calendar until mid-June I’m feeling a bit of a void. I need to remedy that quickly, looking at a 10k next weekend, though I also need to focus on re-building some distance for the 12-hour event in June. Then I will shift gears and get into some serious marathon training, because I have some big goals for my fall race. Lots to look forward to and work for.

Til next time, friends.

Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend Recap

One of my favorite weekends of the year–Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend! The Pittsburgh Half was the first big race that I ran back in 2011, and it was in training for it that I really fell in love with running, and I suppose with racing. Starting on Friday, with the GNC Live Well Health and Fitness Expo. Usually I’d just go on Saturday, but this year I signed up for the Steel Challenge–a 5k on Saturday and one of the longer races (half, full, or relay) on Sunday, so I wanted to pick up everything before Saturday. I took a half day at work so I could wander around at the Expo and spend money. Which I did (with my husband’s blessing) because RUNNING and ALL OF THE THINGS. I get so excited for Expos, but then I’m always somewhat disappointed when I actually get there. It’s always a little chaotic by the nature of being an Expo, but still I wandered around for quite awhile and found some great stuff, ran into a friend, and signed up for the P3R Mega Ticket–Liberty Mile, EQT Pittsburgh 10-Miler, and next year’s Pittsburgh Half Marathon (or full, but I’m doing the half again), so hey, first race for 2018 is officially lined up and paid for!

Next up was the 5k on Saturday morning. The course runs around the North Side near the stadiums, and the science Center, then into town where you finish at the Official finish line. They have offered the Steel Challenge for 3 years now, and this is the first time I’ve taken part. I LOVED it. I told myself the 5k was just going to be a fun run. I wasn’t trying to PR, I wasn’t going to push myself, I needed to save all that for Sunday. And I didn’t. I ran a nice easy 5k, came in with a solid 32:42, though I did manage to negative split (each mile was a little faster than the previous one),  which rarely happens in my world so I was pretty pumped about that. One of the SCRR crew managed to capture this shot of me near the finish line and I LOVE it! One of my favorite race photos ever:

Good form, I’m smiling even though it rained the entire race. I’d just slapped 5 with a random lady and there was a kid ahead with his hand out so I left mine out to get him. And I was completely unaware of the camera. I wasn’t cheesing for him, I was just genuinely happy and in the moment. It’s how I feel when I’m racing (though admittedly I’m not always smiling).  The race went well, and I was happy. I definitely want to do it again.

Sunday was the half marathon, one of my favorite races ever. I LOVE running through the city of Pittsburgh. Had to change the course this year due to some construction projects, which made me really sad. They had to cut out some of my beloved bridges, and replaced it with a loop through the North side (again). It was fine, I still love it, though I sincerely hope they can bring the bridges back because to me running bridges is way more fun, and way more iconic Pittsburgh than a stadium tour (though we do have some nice ones).

I had a really steep goal for this race. I wanted to hit or break 2:15. Earlier this year I would’ve been absolutely crushed and/or pissed that I didn’t do that. I didn’t, and I wasn’t. I could tell pretty early in the race it wasn’t going to happen, so I just adjusted my sights–I really just wanted to PR, even if it was only by seconds. I had a great time. I enjoyed running through the city, I enjoyed the spectator signs, slapping 5 with random strangers and small children. I gave everything I had to the race, I can tell because I’m sore today from a distance my body is used to. And I DID PR, by about 3 minutes, 2:26:49 (previous PR was 2:29:53).

Post race I hung around the Finish Line Festival and killed time until my husband finished the marathon. Didn’t take as full advantage of the SCRR perks as I should have (now that I know what to expect, I think next year will be different). Didn’t take advantage of the cool but goofy photo ops, didn’t even ring the PR bell, because it’s not about any of that for me and I didn’t feel like waiting in the lines, quite honestly. At the end of the day I know I PR’d and I hope to break it again before the year is up. And these beauties are mine:

I have much more to share, but that will come soon. Happy Monday, friends.

Happy Weekend Times!

Hello Friends! It’s finally Friday! I have a half day at work, I get to wear jeans, and it’s Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend! I’m leaving early to go to the Expo today because I’m racing both days–finally broke down and decided to do the Steel Challenge, 5k on Saturday and Half Marathon on Sunday. The weather is looking to be disgusting, but I really don’t care. I hate running in the rain, but I love running through Pittsburgh, and I’ve been training for this for months. Plus, I’m not a huge weather stalker, so while I get that it isn’t likely to change at this point in the game, I also don’t believe forecasts too far ahead because they inevitably change. So I’ll take this in stride and deal with whatever is thrown at me.

I’m all about that Expo though. Love it. Excited to drop some cash on running stuff, because running. I usually don’t get to the Expo until Saturday, and frequently I’m not able to get the sizes I want/need for things because they sell out on the first day–but not this year. I’ll be there within the first two hours of them opening.

More after the weekend’s festivities. Have a good one, friends!