Race Recap: PIT Fly By 5k

Missing some race reports, but clearly if they’d been particularly noteworthy I would’ve found it in me to post…so no sleep lost. This weekend I completed race #30 for the year (so far)…10 more to go to meet my goal.

This is a fun race, I did it last year. 5k with a medal, and you all know I love the bling. Flat and fast course at the airport. I did not PR this year, I was about a minute off, but it was better than my past few 5ks had been so I was happy with it. I *might* have PR’d, but my phone fell out of my belt at one point and I lost some time doubling back to get it. That doesn’t account for the whole minute, but there also came a point that once I knew I wasn’t going to PR I didn’t dig as deep as I could’ve if I’d been close.  So oh well, is what it is. Overall I’m happy with it. I’ll probably do this race again because it’s fun and kinda different.

After the race I made a whirlwind trip to Ohio for the day for a much needed visit. Really low mileage last week, and its making me vaguely crazy. Definitely need to log some more miles this week. That said–I’ll be happy when marathon training is over. A few more weeks and the race will be behind me, which I’m really looking forward to. I’m excited to move onto the next set of goals and adventures. Big plans in the works for 2018…

Happy Monday, friends.

Running and Anxiety…

Another one of those posts that has been a long time coming…another post I hate to write because I have to expose my vulnerability. But it’s necessary. Events of the day made it so, pushed me to the edge I guess you’d say.

(image from Google image search)

I’ve always struggled with anxiety–I’ve always put a lot of pressure on myself and worried about letting people down and not being “good” enough (whatever that means). It got really bad in high school, I was pretty much a mess–very high strung overachiever constantly on the verge of breaking down; my brain was chaotic, spinning with negativity that I tried to drown out with a constant flood of activities. I tried to not be home, not be alone, in hopes that being distracted would make me feel better. It did not work. I ended up in therapy, and eventually on meds, which at that time I needed far more than I wanted to admit. They slowed my mind down so I could function almost normally.

I went to college. Came off my meds, and found other ways to cope. The college environment, for all it’s challenges, was much better to me. I was much more suited to it than I had been to high school, and so I did well. Still struggled, but it wasn’t as bad, I could manage. And I do to this day. I’m still an overachiever, I’m still really hard on myself. But I function mostly normally in society. In some ways–a lot of ways–running really helps. Effort is rewarded, even if I’m not particularly “good” at it. I can see improvement which encourages me to keep going. And chemically speaking it helps keep a hand on the anxiety that wells up with the fears that I’m not “good” enough.

But sometimes, for all the confidence that running has given me, the anxiety rears its ugly head in my running life. Today was one of those days. I still have a lot of social anxiety–I don’t know where it came from, I definitely was not like this as a child–I’m very uncomfortable in groups of people where I don’t know anyone and the activity is unstructured. I tried going to a few of the Saturday group runs and they didn’t go particularly well for me. I could never hang with the pace group I set out with. I didn’t know anyone, so I usually ended up alone, worried about getting lost (which only added to the anxiety I felt). Eventually I stopped going. Figured it just wasn’t for me, I was meant to run alone. Even when I’d run with friends in the past we’d always had our music on, we didn’t talk, so it was fine. It was what I knew. Then I started going to the Wednesday night group, and slowly I made friends. It was a smaller group, more intimate, less intimidating. I ran with some different people and gradually warmed up, talking more, and I found that I really like running with people. Eventually (and I’m talking after several months of running together) they talked me into giving Saturdays another shot–they’d all be there, after all. So I did. And it has been really good for me–if I know that even one of them is going to be there, it’s worth showing up for because it eases that anxiety about not knowing anyone, running alone, and ending up lost.

Then today one of my people suggested that we join up with another group on Wednesday. I could not keep the anxiety from welling up inside me. I was never so thankful for the buffer of the internet where I could carefully choose my words, type and delete, and not show the panic in my face as I fought back tears. It’s not the change in location that freaks me out, I can figure that out, but that group of unknown people. The familiar dread of my earlier Saturday group runs–where I couldn’t keep up, where I ended up running mostly alone, worried about getting lost, etc–came rushing to the surface. I was shaking, trying to keep my composure at work, pissed at the friend (who has only ever come to one, maybe two runs himself and may not even come on Wednesday) who was egging the group on. I wasn’t the only one freaking out, but I felt like a jerk, which only compounds the anxiety.

I chatted with a couple of the friends–one who was also unhappy/uncomfortable with it and the one who was egging it on even though he is likely not to show. That helped some, took the edge off to know that I wasn’t alone. I could get some of my fears out. Get some perspective. The friend who suggested it relented–sort of–about all of us going, though she hopes we’ll reconsider, she has one person going with her at least. I explained that I need some time to wrap my head around it, but I’m not actually saying No. And at this point, I’ve basically decided to go. I’ve found that the things I resist the most in my life are the things I need to do. Worst case, I don’t like it and I never go back–I’m trying to be open though I am skeptical. But the fact that my core group will be there, so I won’t be alone, will make it okay. If nothing else, we’ll stick together and look out for each other, and run someplace different.

Until next time, friends.

Catching Up…Again…

Clearly I haven’t written much lately, but I’ve been busy and running. Things have been a little rough. I’m getting more comfortable with the idea of this mile challenge, and looking forward to the one mile portion of the Turkey Trot to gauge where I’m at (since treadmills are good tools but running on roads is very different). I’m struggling hard core with my marathon training long runs, they’re just not going as well as I want (or feel like I need) them to. However, I’m at the point where it’s do or die…less than 2 months to get my act together and I need to focus and go all in–which admittedly I haven’t done up to this point, for all my talk. I have a small handful of races before the marathon, but I have worked them in and will run around them if I need to (GULP).

I’m on track for 40 races this year–which is incredible even to me.

The truth is I’ve started writing this blog post about 50 times and it just didn’t solidify for me until this weekend. Things have been crazy at work (not in a good way) and that pushed me harder in my workouts this week. I know I should do a proper race recap for the Brookline Breeze, but it was kind of an unremarkable race for me. The weeks since, however, have been mind-blowing in a way. Since that last post, I’ve been running with people more and I’m finding that I really like that. I went out with my buddy and another chick from our running club and while a lot of the run itself was awful and a struggle, I had a blast. I cut my mileage short that day because I was miserable, it was hot and humid, they reassured me that I had plenty of time and not to stress about it. Which of course, I still am, but that’s neither here nor there. It was nice to share the misery of that run and have fun despite it.

The next week my husband and I went on vacation, so I largely ran alone since he and I do NOT run together. And that was also good. Got massively sunburned during our beach day and had to take it easy so no long run that weekend either. Seriously stressing at this point. And I found I really, really missed my Wednesday night running buddies. But we had a great trip.

I came back and my work life took a nosedive. I’m a workaholic. I’ve always worked as much as I could at this job because I loved it and the rug was ripped out from under me when I got back. I still have a job, but it’s almost unrecognizable at this point. I’m trying to roll with it and stick it out, I know this is largely growing pains for our division and I’m optimistic that it will get better, but oh god, seeing things done so badly is painful. I just want to scream–I literally did my Master’s work in Organizational Development and they’re going about it all wrong. It’s so frustrating and a 180 from what I’m used to there. So I’ve been channeling that frustration and energy into my workouts and at least those have been going well. Returned to my Wednesday night group and it was great. I realized this week that when I started going I could barely manage 3 miles without wanting to die, and now I’m up to a solid 5 miles. It’s fun to see how much stronger I’m getting just by showing up and doing the work. Still I’ve shied away from the group runs on Saturdays–they never seem to go well for me, my social anxiety kicks up and it throws my world off it’s orbit. The girls talked me into showing up on Saturday.

So I showed up on Saturday. And it was fine. The crowd is a little smaller this time of year than when they have their Pittsburgh Marathon training runs. And having people to look for and talk to eased my anxiety over being lost in a crowd and not knowing anyone. It was an adventure, let me  tell you. Three of us stuck together, and we ran the first 7 miles with the group–should’ve been 10, but we ended up starting off with 2 guys who only meant to run 5 but followed us and didn’t bring maps, so we got them back to the garage and used the opportunity to refill water bottles, take some gels, use the bathroom, etc. One chick needed 20 miles, the other one and I both needed 16, so we planned to stick together–misery loves company. Along the way we encountered an Indian wedding procession, complete with groom on white horse being followed by a crowd through the streets of Pittsburgh. A female figure competitor getting bikini shots taken on the South Side. We ran into my buddy who was not running but tailgating for the Pitt game. Then we encountered the warm up performance by the visiting teams marching band. It was the most random sequence of events. And we were all kind of miserable, but it was still fun. And I largely kept up–at least until the last couple of miles. Once we got back to the trail and I knew I wouldn’t get lost I was less concerned about getting separated and I pulled back. I was hurting and needed to walk more (though I have to wonder if we’d not been on trail where I felt ‘comfortable’ if I would have run more to not lose them…). Regardless, I’m very glad they talked me into going to the group run.

Monday, I did the Steelers 5k for the first time. I was doing awesome and was on track for a PR for the first 2 miles, but I lost it in mile 3. And I was really okay with that. I’m not really training for speed right now. I had a good time. My time was respectable–not a PR but still a lot faster than last year at this time. And I’m really proud of my effort. I worked.

I also realized some things about myself this weekend. I feel like I’m really finding myself as a runner. Finally. It’s not who I always thought I was, and it’s not who I thought I *wanted* to be. I always thought I preferred running alone. It turns out that I don’t. I always thought I wanted to focus on long distance stuff. It turns out I don’t. I never thought I could be fast. Turns out I was wrong, there’s potential there. I have all of these options open to me that I never realized I had, because of the box that I’d put myself in. I’m committed to this marathon and seeing it through, but I no longer care about the time goal I’d set. I’m definitely going to shift my focus for the next year. Stick to half marathons and shorter because I love running all of the races and I hate turning things down for the sake of getting in a long run. I want to do more speed work and see what I’m capable of. I want to finally break 30 in a damn 5k. I want to run more with people because other people push me to be better–not just my buddy, but anyone who is a little faster than me or stronger than me. And if they don’t force my hand on pace, they at least make it way more fun. I’m gonna stick to the stuff I like, and the stuff that makes me feel good and love running, and stop doing the stuff that I think I *should* do.

More soon. Happy Tuesday, friends.

Running Scared…Part Two…

This is part two…if you haven’t read part one yet, please scroll down or jump to Friday’s post first then come back to this one…

I realized that Friday’s post needed a second part, but it didn’t solidify for me until today. On the way to work Friday morning two of the podcasts I listen to on the regular (The Life Coach School with Brooke Castillo and Run, Selfie, Repeat) both discussed confidence. It’s like the universe knows and sends me signs. But still, I couldn’t get out of my head about it. I discussed it briefly with my friend at the gym who assured me I can do it. And I discussed it with my husband when I got home from the gym, and he also said it’s not an impossible feat. How is everyone so sure of me? I went to bed not feeling much better. Nor did I feel better when I woke up this morning. I kept thinking about it and obsessing while I was getting ready for the race of the day when I stopped in my tracks out of nowhere, realizing that my argument was completely invalid. And I also realized (and this was the real kicker) that if my buddy–the one who challenged me in the first place–heard the argument I’d been using on myself he would’ve stopped what he was doing, driven to my house, and ripped me a new one.

This won’t be easy, not by a long shot. But nothing worth doing is ever easy. And it’s NOT impossible. Just because I haven’t done it, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. And the thing I love about running is that I’m not overwhelmingly good at it. I have to work hard at it. That’s what makes it so satisfying when I finish a race or a training run, I accomplished something.

My race today, the Brookline Breeze 5k went as well as I could expect–it was hilly, and went by gun time–but I’m not unhappy with my finish. I worked hard. I killed it on the downhill finish. More on Monday.

Running Scared

I’ve been struggling a lot lately. I’m overdue for downtime I just can’t seem to make happen. One more week til vacation, thank goodness. It’s funny, because running is both a stressor and a release for me. I’ve been fighting with a lot of doubt and insecurity lately when it comes to running, since this marathon training cycle started, actually. I believe in setting big hairy-scary goals. If your goal doesn’t scare you then you’re not dreaming big enough. And with some things I’ve set out for lately, I’m terrified to the point of anxiety.

I haven’t run a full marathon in 2 years. And the last couple did not go so well. And the deeper I get into training the more I remember why I gave them up–the training is mentally very draining for me. And my long runs aren’t even that long at this point. I’ve had a lot of doubt since I signed up, I have a goal time in mind that I really want to hit, but I’m not sure that I can. By the numbers it seems doable but there’s the constant nagging voice at the back of my head, repeating an unfortunate mantra that I can’t seem to shake: fat, lazy, weak, and slow.

I run to get away from this voice. It doesn’t always work.

Last Thursday was a good example of that. The last Flash 5k of the summer. It was hot. I’d had a good run in the rain the night before. Had to wear different shoes because the ones I wanted to wear were still wet from the rain. The first mile was fine, then I fell apart. Couldn’t breathe right. Legs wouldn’t cooperate. Walked most of the last 2 miles. And I. Was. PISSED. People clapped and cheered at the finish–I would’ve given anything for them to disappear. I kept saying ‘don’t clap for this. don’t clap for this.’ as I approached the line. I went over to the table, wrote my number down, muttering about it being awful. And I blew straight past my friends without a word or eye contact. And I kept walking towards the parking lot. My buddy caught up to me, tried to talk me down, but I wasn’t having it. I pulled myself together enough to have fun at the post-race tailgate, but I was still very much in my head about the whole thing.

While I can’t just ‘run without my watch’ as my buddy suggested, I was able to extend myself a bit more grace during my long run on Sunday. Physically I was fine, but mentally, I needed ‘walking space’ to sort some stuff out. So I allowed myself to walk more than necessary so I could process. I realized one of the main factors in my running related anxiety lately is the challenge my friend offered up after the Liberty Mile to beat his time next year. I said yes, and I have felt anxious about it ever since. I really don’t think I can do it. I know that he thinks I can do it, he wouldn’t have challenged me if he didn’t.

We talked about it after my run. He tried to reassure me and bolster my confidence about it. I’m still not so sure. Just like I’m not sure about this marathon. I need to get out of my head about it and believe that I can. Intellectually the evidence says that I can do it. Mathematically I can do it. It’s completely possible, I just need to believe that. I need to outrun the voice. Back to back races this weekend in lieu of an actual long run–5k on Saturday and 10-miler on Sunday. Hoping that a few decent runs will keep the voice in check and restore some of my confidence. All I can do for now is focus on the run in front of me and keep putting one foot in front of the other. I can worry about the next challenge once I get through the marathon.

Happy Friday, friends.

Marathon Training: Week 7

There’s a longer more emotional post rolling around my brain, but I at least wanted to cover the basics of last week’s training. Attempted to do speedwork again last Monday, but since I’d done my “long” run on Sunday it was a no-go. My hips were not having it. Took a kettlebell class on Tuesday. Wednesday was our usual group run and even though it rained (poured) the whole time it was decent and much needed. We got a double rainbow at the end which was awesome. Thursday was the last Flash 5k and…it did not go well for me. I was not happy with the results or my effort at all. Had a good time hanging out with the runners after the fact, though. Friday and Saturday were rest days, and I did my 12 mile long run on Sunday. Not as fast as I’d hoped, but mentally I was struggling and so I let myself walk more than normal to get through it.

More to come soon. Have a good week, friends.

Marathon Training: Week 6

So my attempt at two a days was laughable. Did two workouts on Monday–Insanity in the morning and a speed workout at the track after work. Was super duper sore on Tuesday. Like cancelled kettlebell class sore so I would have a shot at running at the group run on Wednesday. And that run was rough, but I got 4 miles done. Rested on Thursday. Liberty Mile on Friday night, then an impromptu 5k with my best friend on Saturday morning in Ohio. Pushed my long run to Sunday morning at Open Streets, but had to cut it short because my hip was not having it.

It’s interesting, though. Friday night at the Liberty Mile I didn’t do as well as I had hoped. I really wanted a sub-9 mile, but knew it was a long shot. I’ve literally done that one time on a treadmill, and road is vastly different. I was hoping for low 9s if I couldn’t break it. That didn’t happen either. 9:45. Totally respectable for my first mile race, and I gave it everything I had. I didn’t hold anything back, so if that was the best I could do, that was the best I could do. I was literally cramping as I walked from the finish to the bag drop area. Can’t ask for more from myself. After my heat I stuck around to watch my buddy run his race–and he killed it, of course. Then we went for our post-race free beer and it got interesting. My buddy is faster than me–that’s part of why I like training with him, he can push me like no one else. He was running in the masters division–sub 8 minute mile. And over beer, he challenged me to beat his time from this year at next year’s race. I hemmed. I hawed. He told me it was yes or no. I can’t back down, so I said yes. Then we got our official times. He put up a 7:48. Basically 2 solid minutes under where I finished. *gulp* WTF did he talk me into?

pictures from Liberty Mile on Friday…

Here’s the thing though, yeah, that’s a challenge. A big one. It won’t be easy. BUT–he wouldn’t have put it out there if he didn’t think I could do it. He’s a good friend and a great training partner (though we rarely actually run together…). He knows I wouldn’t back down from it, but he also wouldn’t intentionally set me up for failure either.  And the fact that I’m going for it will push him to do better–because he still wants to be faster than me.

Saturday I got up at the buttcrack of dawn and drove out to Ohio to run a 5k with my bestie and her husband (and their baby girl). She’s run all her life, both track and cross country, she’s coached both, needless to say, she’s also faster than me (even when coming back from injuries, and even with a baby jogger). Much as it killed her, she stayed true to her commitment to run the race with her husband, so for what will probably be the ONLY time in my life, I finished ahead of her. And the race was so small, that I actually snagged 2nd place in my age group–holla! That was a first for me as well. Definitely not my best 5k, not even a course PR for me (I’ve done this same course at a different race a couple of times), but I had a good time and got some quality time with some of my favorite people (which was the whole reason I went out in the first place).

shirt and second place age group medal from the 5k

Sunday, I was planning 10 miles at the final Open Streets of the season. Open Streets is an initiative to get people outside and active in Pittsburgh, three times each summer they take a stretch of roads branching through several different neighborhoods and shut them down to traffic for a few hours on Sunday morning. You can bike, walk, run, skate, shop, take fitness classes, eat, socialize, etc. It’s a really cool event and draws a lot of people. This was the first one I made it to, and I will definitely be putting them on my calendar next year. Unfortunately, my hips had other plans–I ended up walking a lot, and cutting it short at 7. Can’t pinpoint where it went wrong–I always run a mile on Friday nights and it’s usually chased by a kettlebell class, which I didn’t do this week. I’ve done several back to back races–5 or 10k Saturday and 10 miles or half marathon on Sunday–so it’s not running 3 days in a row or trying to run long after a race. But something was off. I’ll need to work on that for my long run next weekend.

view from Open Streets (this was a less crowded moment)

Final Flash 5k for SCRR coming up on Thursday. Plus more training. Happy Monday, Friends.

Marathon Training: Week 5

This week was interesting. I was traveling for work, so I was out of my routine–which is both good and bad. I didn’t stick to my training plan, I didn’t run or work out nearly as much as I should’ve. I had a really good solid 5k on the treadmill one day, and I stepped out of my comfort zone and met up with someone from the local running club in Milwaukee for a morning run while I was out there. Again, a nice solid run, I’m proud of it for a million reasons. But that said, returning to reality has been rough. I’ve been tired and trying to get everything together for my return to my real job. Being lax with my training and eating–not just for the past week, but really over the past month–has caught up to me, though and it’s time to buckle down and get serious if I want to reach my goals for this fall marathon.

I’ve debated this long and hard, but I’ve finally decided I’m going to do a modified round of Insanity for at least the next month until our vacation, which will mean twice a day workouts most days (1 day completely off in any given week) but the first part of the program the workouts are all 30-40 minutes essentially so that’s easy enough to work into my days. If I find it interferes with running too much, I’ll re-work my schedule and cut days out and what not, but I feel like I need to at least give this a try.

I also need to reign in my food. I’ve read Matt Fitzgerald’s The Endurance Diet and I like the focus on quality over calories–if you’re eating consciously to fuel your activity and choosing high quality foods you can be less beholden to hard and fast macro or calorie counts. I like this concept, it makes sense to me, though I’m also skeptical–but I got the Diet Quality Score app and we’re gonna give this a go. I’ve prepped a bunch of food for this week to keep myself on the straight and narrow. Now I just need to stay focused and keep my eyes on the prize.

Happy Monday, friends.

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.