Playing Catch Up

I had intended to post last week, but things got a little crazy for me so this was the thing I let go. I started running in the morning before work most days of the week and I really like it. I’m still trying to find my groove with it, but it’s something I’ve missed doing. I’m taking this morning off as my knee is a little cranky, hoping that if I let it rest today I can continue my Runner’s World Run Streak after work, even if I just squeak out one mile.

Ran the PNC YMCA Turkey Trot (5-miler) on Thursday before I headed to Ohio. So much fun. I really enjoyed it. I love running through the city of Pittsburgh. Apparently I have no official 5-mile time (i.e. no races prior to this one), but the last one I ran on my own was 1:07:15 and I finished the Turkey Trot in 53:52, so I’ll take that PR.

After the race I headed to Ohio for a few days with my family and friends and it was very much needed. Got a jump on some Christmas shopping, spent time with my family, my best friend, got to see my KAKE girls for our annual meet up, got a couple of short runs in, it was a much needed respite from work.

Yesterday I ran again, and it was nothing impressive from a distance or speed stand point, but it was another turning point in my running life. I’ve always been a run-walker. No shame in that, no harm, it’s how plenty of people operate. Unless I’ve been running with someone who forced my hand, I’ve always walked some. I’ve never really believed I could do it without walking at least a little. And even after my training partner/buddy/coach forced my hand I’ve walked some in my solo training runs. Less, but I still walked. I ran every step of my races, but training runs, meh. That’s always been my problem–I let myself off the hook too easy, and when I am pushing, it’s generally his voice (or someone else, but admittedly usually his) pushing me through. Until yesterday. I set out to do 4 miles, with the only goal being to beat my time from the last time I did 4 miles on my own. I set out, and I ran. And I kept running. And I started to bargain with myself–you’re going to do at least 5k. You’re not going to walk until you get at least 5k in. I hit 5k and was three blocks from the car, and I told myself I was running to the car. I got a block from the car and told myself I was running the full 4 miles. And I did. I didn’t walk. I didn’t cut the mileage short. And the voice in the back of my head pushing me through it was my own. Pretty proud of that. It’s a sign of good things to come.

Two races this weekend–A Christmas Story 10k on Saturday and the Ugly Sweater 5k on Sunday. Gearing up for those and a lot of big things to come in 2017.

Have a good week, friends.

A change in my schedule and I’m able to run before work.  I used to do this all the time, but it’s been a long time since I’ve done it. Used to always be treadmill runs too, but today I ran outside. Got to spend some QT with the super moon, which was awesome. Short, sweet, if slow, run, but it was good to figure out what I need to figure out in order to make and keep this routine. Some thoughts:

  1. I ran fasted–for no other reason than the sake of experimenting. I can do about 2 miles that way, at least right now. If I want to go further I need to put something into my body before I run. Will be interesting to see how this is different when I’m eventually forced onto a treadmill at the gym.
  2. Need to use a regular ponytail holder–my clip kept slipping and I had to keep redoing it. That was super irritating.
  3. Need to wear my flip belt or the fleece with inner pockets–phone and keys were fine in the other fleece, but I was super paranoid about losing them.

My goal is to get in 3-5 miles before work on a given day, so it’s going to be a fun challenge working myself up to that point. I call this morning a success because I actually made it happen. Off work tomorrow so I can get out a little later and go a little longer. Looking forward to that.

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Happy Monday, friends.

Check-In: Week 20

Wow…20 weeks ago I started running again, finding myself again. Scale was down another pound and a half this morning, happy about that. Been having a slow running week post race. Not recovery because even though I feel like I raced this race and didn’t just run it, I have a hard time with the idea of recovering from a race. More that I need to set sights on a new goal and come up with a concrete training plan, so I’ve been doing a mile or two to warm up before my kettlebell swings workout. I have a handful of races left for the year, but it’s mostly just fun stuff, I’m not gonna take any of it too seriously.

I used to take time off after the 10-miler. Only ran if the urge struck, but zero plans or pressure, give myself until the start of the new year before I resumed training. At this moment I can’t imagine not running. In fact, we’re shifting some things around at work, so while I still have a crappy schedule (okay, it’s not that bad, could definitely be worse) I’m probably going to be able to start running in the morning again, which makes me super happy. I’m a better runner in the morning, honestly, and I think I’ll be better at work if I can run before instead of looking forward to it all day. And my schedule isn’t actually changing, but the shift in responsibilities will allow me to come in a little bit later (when I’m scheduled to…). This also means that two a days–should I opt to do them–are an option again. I’m not looking forward to snow, or having to clean off my car to head to the gym to run (when that time comes) but my goals are bigger than snow.

Trying to decide how long to keep up the Week # check-ins. We’ll see, I have mixed feelings about giving them up.

Happy weekend. Try to make it a good one.

Race Recap: EQT Pittsburgh 10-Miler

This is one of my favorite races ever. I love it. I have a mad crush on the mid-distance stuff, races that happen inside the city of Pittsburgh, and I have been with this race since it’s inaugural run. I LOVE it and look forward to it every year.

This year was no exception. The first year I ran this race I set the PR of 1:55:29. The next couple years were rough so I finished but they weren’t nearly as good, and I was okay with it, but the times were well over 2 hours. Last year I rolled in at 2:25:56. When I started running again this year, my goal was to come back in under 2 hours, I didn’t care if it was 1:59:59, I just needed to be under 2. At the time that felt tough but doable. Flash forward a few months and I run a 10-mile training run in 1:57. New goal: Beat my PR. Again, shaving off 2 minutes–tough but doable. Then my buddy and I went out last week and he pushed me beyond what I thought I could do and I came in at 1:52:29. The flood gates opened (see my post from last Wednesday if you’re just joining us now), anything felt possible. So I set a steeper goal for myself 1:50. I knew that I was going to PR no matter what, so that was ultimately enough for me, but I needed to put something scary out there and see if I could pull it off.

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(me before the race)

I was pumped, I was ready, I genuinely believed I could do this, and I approached the race as such. For the first half or more of the race I was on track to do it, too–my splits were all 11 or better. But around mile 8 I just started to fall apart. I never stopped running. I ran every single step of this race, I didn’t walk for a second, but I slowed down a lot. I wanted to walk but I wouldn’t let myself, I knew that it wouldn’t end well, I knew I would lose too much time, and I knew that it would be that much harder for me to try to get myself to run again if I broke the little bit of momentum I had. I talked myself through it, recited that Marianne Williamson quote out loud–which oddly works as my pace picked up when I was going through the recitation, so maybe my buddy is onto something–and just kept going. I saw 1:49 pass, and 1:50, but the finish wasn’t too far off. So I dug deep and powered through to the finish. 1:52: 04–not the steep goal, but a definite PR (-3 minutes 25 seconds!) and faster than the previous week by 25 seconds. And I ran every step, which I haven’t been able to say since August 2013.

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(finisher’s medal)

I’m not gonna lie–I was a little disappointed that I didn’t meet my goal, especially because I was on pace to do it for so much of the race. But I can say this–I left it all on the course. My husband said I was basically a zombie when I crossed the line, and I know I had nothing left to give. I did my best and that’s all I could do. And I just need to keep moving forward and decide what my goal is for the next set of races next year. How far can I push myself now that I know there is no limit?

I have a few more races to finish out the year, but they’re mostly for fun–holiday themed races and such, but nothing I’ll take too seriously. I still can’t wait…I love to race.

Happy Monday.

Check-In: Week 19

This will be quick since I poured my heart out a couple of days ago and there’s not much else to say until I get through my race on Sunday. Scale was down, not significantly, but after a month of yo-yoing in the same 3 pound range I’ll take it. That month of yo-yoing is a victory in and of itself. I was less careful about food last month and managed to stay about the same–win, and proof that I can trust myself. It’s a process, I’m getting there.

Went for an impromptu run last night. It was supposed to be gross and rainy so I didn’t pack a bag, but it ended up being gorgeous, so I went home, changed, and went out. I’m officially that girl now, the one who runs with a headlamp. Need to get a reflector vest and/or other lights to make me a touch more visible. WHO AM I?

I’ve come so far since I first started running. I can’t wait to see where it takes me next.

Happy Weekend!

Long Run: The Really Long Version

My big 10-mile race is this coming Sunday. One of my favorites, one that I do and have done every year. The one that used to mark the ‘end’ of my racing season each year. The one I set as my goal when I started running again in earnest this summer.

I wanted one more solid long run before I went into this race. After the last time I came in just over my previous PR, knowing I wasn’t trying very hard I felt confident enough that I would meet the second goal I set (the original goal was to come in under 2 hours, the second was to beat my PR), but I just wanted one more run. And as awesome as running has been for me lately, I also knew there was another level that I wasn’t even scratching the surface of and I couldn’t get there on my own. All the best athletes have coaches–that’s how you get better, that’s how you improve, you need someone to push and challenge you. I’m fortunate to have a buddy to step into that role when I need it.

So I headed out, and met up with one of my buddies, whom I hadn’t actually run with in forever. I’m usually resistant to running with people–when it comes to a group I have always lacked the confidence that I can keep up. I’ve never officially run with a pace group for that reason. And I’m an introvert–I have a hard time talking to people I don’t know, and I like getting lost in my music and my thoughts. So I tend to avoid it. When I run with this particular friend we each have our headphones on and we don’t talk much, so it’s a good match. Plus when I run solo, I’m in control, which I like. And as we started to run it was clear that I was not in control of this run. I had no say. I protested about the pace we started at. I was basically told to shut up, stop looking at my watch, my job was to run and breathe. Yup. Not in control. Which irritated me, but fine, whatever. I wasn’t sure how I was going to pull this off, but the thing about running with him is that I won’t quit. I won’t do it. I don’t want to be the one to cave or show weakness. He’s a lot faster than me, and until this weekend, I would’ve argued he’s a ‘better’ runner–but he also knows me well, he knows how to push my buttons, and somehow when we’re running I become competitive with him. I don’t need to win, but I will absolutely not quit on him the way I would (and have) quit on myself. And he knows all of this, so he pushes me.

Then he tells me I’m not walking unless I can’t talk or breathe. Including hills.

Did I mention he calls me on my bullshit? I’m sure I groaned, but I didn’t protest. I knew by this point it wasn’t going to matter, I wasn’t in control of this run. Again, I was irritated. I don’t like not having a say. In my head I was calming myself by saying I could just openly defy him if I wanted, what was he gonna do about it? He couldn’t stop me from walking if I wanted to. But I also knew I wasn’t actually going to do that. I kept running.  I was mostly keeping up with him. A stride or two behind at times, but close enough to count. I kept looking at my watch, because how do you run with a watch and not look at it? And I’m one of those that if I don’t have my watch on did I even run? No. Much like I don’t count non-race runs as PRs, if I don’t have a record of it, it doesn’t count as a run.

We hit the 5k mark. My fastest to date. He tells me to stop my watch, we’re taking a minute. I do. And I approach him with my fists raised because all of the irritation from those first three miles is welling up and I want to punch him. It was  involuntary–and completely out of character for me to actually approach like I’m going to hit someone, let alone a friend. Before I could swing, he gave me a fist bump, said way to go, knew you could do it. It disarmed me. I was still irritated, to be sure, but the moment had passed. I couldn’t hit him now. We chatted for a minute, decided on the plan (distance had been up in the air at the start, finally, I get a say), then started running again.

My hips started acting up around mile 4. Had I been alone, I probably would have called it, walked some, started heading back to the car. I generally only run through pain when I’m in a race and even then sometimes I fold. But I wasn’t alone. I thought about asking to turn back at 4 and a half, we’d still get in 9 miles, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I kept going. We stopped for another minute at the 5 mile mark, I stretched. Confessed my hips weren’t happy, he told me his knee wasn’t either. But hey, gotta love an out and back–no choice but to finish. We set back out. Stopped around mile 7, realized I should take a gel (I usually use 2 on a 10-mile, but had been too distracted), realized I lost one of my little water bottles (oops). He asked what my PR was, I told him. He said I could probably beat that if I hustled on the last three miles. I shrugged, not sure how much ‘hustle’ I had in me, not sure if I cared. He told me the pace he wanted for the rest of the run. I told him to run and I’d do my best to keep up. We got back to it. I was starting to lag behind him, but he didn’t leave me, he kept tabs on where I was, would slow down to let me catch up.  Then we got to the last ascent of the route. Not even the worst of the hills on the route, but he could tell I was struggling and hell, maybe he was too, I couldn’t tell you. I just know I wanted it to be over with, and clearly he could tell. He started going through the motivational spiel he uses on himself when it gets rough. Parts of it amused me, parts of it were definitely for him, but mostly it irritated the piss out of me for some reason. Still I stayed in stride with him. Then he started one of my favorite quotes and I recited it with him (the short version, just the first two lines):

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure; It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us”

I was prepared to continue the recitation, but he moved on to other words of inspiration and I went back to being irritated. We got up the hill, and chatting at the top (while still running) I told him he was ‘f***ing annoying’. He laughed, pleased I was pissed because it meant he was doing his job. To be fair I also told him I loved him for it, as he kept me distracted and I never stopped running.

Homestretch. He takes off. I’m dragging. But I don’t quit. When I’m aware of the ache in my hips, I remind myself that his knee is killing him. When I check my pace on my watch, I know I can do better and pick it up. I keep running. And I finished with my best 10-mile time to date.

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I was ecstatic. Elated. On a serious runner’s high now that the damn thing was done. But the magnitude of it all really hit me a little bit later, with some time and space and distance. I have zero excuses. The sky is the limit at this point. I am capable of so much more than I ever thought. And now that I have that knowledge, I can’t un-know it. And it scares the crap out of me. Big goals. Big dreams. Big plans. And I am more than capable of all of it. I don’t get to doubt myself ever again. And the rest of the weekend just continued to echo that theme–I decided to run a 5k the next morning at the school my best friend teaches at. I wasn’t sure how it would go going in, I was sore from Saturday, and I was definitely not trying to PR, I just wanted to have fun. I didn’t push, I even walked a couple of times, and I finished in 34:51. My race PR is 34:12. I came close without trying. I have no excuses, none. And anything I come up with is just that–an excuse. And I need to get over myself and out of my own head because I can do this. And the more I thought about it, the more that quote resonated with me in a way it hasn’t since I was a teenager. Here is the quote in it’s entirety:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

And that’s the crossroads I am at. I’ve caught a glimpse of my light and nothing has ever scared me so much. I’ve been close before, and then I’ve backed off. I’ve said before that running and I have a symbiotic relationship, and that for better or worse I’m entwined with it in a way I can’t escape. And it works exactly in this situation: I run hard, and then I walk. I get scared and I back off. But Saturday I ran, and I didn’t walk, I didn’t back off. I kept going. And the doors opened. There’s no going back.

I have a new goal for Sunday, because I’m going to PR no matter what. It will be tough, but I know I can do it, or come real damn close. I’m going to shine.

Whirlwind Weekend Recap

I had an amazing and exhausting whirlwind weekend. I mentioned previously that I was homesick, so I rearranged some things on my calendar and made an impromptu overnight trip home to see my parents and best friend, which was totally worth the little bit of chaos and exhaustion going into this next week.

Saturday morning started with my last long run before EQT. I met up with a friend I haven’t run with in a long time and we crushed 10 miles. Crushed them. It was my best time for a 10-miler to date. I may not beat this time next weekend (though I’m certainly going to try) but I’m positive I’m going to PR.  A longer post about this run is yet to come–I’m still processing everything that came up for me during it–but it was a very important run for me and it couldn’t have happened at a better time. I wish I’d gotten some pictures, it was an absolutely beautiful day, but quite frankly I was too focused and running too hard. So I’m still working on that.

After that I got cleaned up and packed up and headed out of town to my parent’s house. Traffic was with me and the drive in was pleasant and uneventful. I had homemade pizza dinner with my parents and one of my nieces, and went shopping with my mom and my sister. It was a great evening.

The next morning I got up and got ready to run again. My best friend was going to be at a 5k race for her work (not running, just has to make an appearance) so I decided I was going to show up and surprise her. I coordinated with her husband to make sure she would be there and that there weren’t immediate plans for after, then got myself there and registered and waited. She was so surprised. I was nervous about running given that I’d crushed 10 miles the day before, but figured fortune favors the bold and I could take it easy, I was just doing this for fun. So I ran. I took it easy. I walked a couple of times. 34:51 (official time). Not bad considering I wasn’t trying, and my current race PR is 34:12. (I have run a faster 5k–significantly faster–but in my head if it isn’t a race it’s not really a PR, so until I beat that time in a race, this stands). I almost PR’d and I wasn’t even trying. Bestie ran part of it with me near the end. Afterwards we went back to her house, hung out with her husband and pups for a bit, got changed and then we went to lunch before I set off to come back to PA.

On my way back, I got my first gingerbread latte of the season–sooo excited. I wait for gingerbread the way the rest of the world waits for pumpkin spice. It definitely made the rainy drive back to reality better. Did some grocery shopping, laundry and food prep when I got back. And here we are. Lots to catch up on, but I have a half day at work on Tuesday–we made plans but had to change them last minute, and I figured I’d keep the half day so I could get some stuff done around the house. Look for a longer post on Wednesday about that 10-mile training run.

Happy Monday, friends.

Check-In Week 18

No scale report this week–was a rough week and so I cut myself a little slack and just decided to not. It is what it is, and I know my body, I’m not concerned. Hoping for one last solid 10-miler this weekend before the race next week. REALLY EXCITED about some upcoming races. I’ve got most of the rest of the year booked and paid for already. One more race to sign up for to end the year, and our new year’s race also.

Life is good. Work is good. Getting a little homesick and ready for the Thanksgiving break, but it will be here before I know it. Running is good, though it has been a rough week, I’ll admit. I need to start packing my head lamp or suck it up and head to the gym to use the treadmill more.

I’m in love with running again, and it feels amazing. I want to do all of the races. I’ve always shied away from group runs, but I can’t wait to get out there for the first time with my running group. I’m feeling the itch for another full marathon. I need to set some definitive goals and work out an actual training plan for next year. I need to learn to take more pictures and document it more. It’s hard to share the love the way I want to when I don’t have the tangible reminders and memories. The more running comes back to me, the more writing comes back to me. The more I run the more I want to share it. So big things are coming, little blog.

Happy Friday, Happy Weekend.

Whatever Wednesday…Brain Dump Edition

This is going to be a true brain dump and probably not much of substance, but you’ll have that sometimes…

I love my job. I do. I love my co-workers, I’m pretty decent at it, it appeals to my workaholic nature while also being something that I can leave at the office when I walk out at the end of the day. And after working at a job that sucked out my soul little by little and was slowly killing me, it’s a welcome relief to be here. That said, mentally it wears me out. By the end of the day I’m so ready for my workout, and by the end of the week I’m so thankful for the weekend. And just halfway through the week (technically not even as I haven’t gone to work yet today) I’m already looking forward to this weekend.

I’m so pumped for races. Usually my ‘season’ is over after the 10-miler. But I’ve got the bug bad this year, and I’m just getting started. There is no off season anymore, not even a month. Hubby and I are looking at a 5k on New Year’s Eve now, as well as a race on New Year’s Day. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate. So excited for some of the stuff we have planned. Need to start working on a training plan for next year in earnest, though, but will be much easier with a solid 10-mile base to work from. I’m even starting to toy with the idea of another full marathon next fall–I keep thinking that I can beat my time from Columbus (which was my best to date). I know I don’t want to do a spring or summer race though–I’ve got too many other goals I want to accomplish first, but a fall race? Maybe.

Lots to do as always. Happy hump day!

Manic Monday…

So that restorative weekend I thought I was going to have, the one where I would get caught up on things and go into the week feeling a little more prepared? Kinda went out the window. You make plans, God laughs. I did get a lot done, just not all that I’d hoped for. Oh well, such is life.

My run wasn’t spectacular yesterday. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but also not what I’d hoped for. I wanted another 10-miler, but I was feeling it in my hips by mile 5, so I stopped short. It was pain I could’ve worked through, but why? I’m two weeks out from a big race, I know that I can cover the distance, I was also having some anxiety about things that needed to get done. There was no reason to push myself through another lap at the park. A couple of pics from the run…

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North Park is beautiful this time of year. This pic doesn’t do it proper justice, but lovely nonetheless.

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Artsy Garmin and shoe shot. Need to work on my skills, but fun to play around with some of the stuff I see all the time on IG.

No pics from the last race, which is a little disappointing. I don’t think their photographers were out in force–I didn’t see a lot of cameras to cheese for. Also the problem with being slightly faster–I’m more likely to be in a crowd when I pass the cameras so they’re less likely to get a clear shot of me. But that’s fine, usually race photos aren’t that great anyway.

Another busy week ahead of me, guess it’s time to get started. Have a great week!