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.

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.

Marathon Training: Week 2

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Monday, friends.

Weekend recap…

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

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

More to come. Happy Monday, friends.

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.

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.

Coming Up to Speed…

I’ve honestly started this entry a million times, but never really finished it. Today’s the day. No lengthy catch up, just the basics…

I finished Insanity! and I LOVED it. LOVED. But it messed with my running–I didn’t have enough time or energy to properly devote to my training. So while the process was great and I got good results, I’m holding off on another round because I have some serious running goals staring me in the face.

I’ve done a ton of races so far this year, and I’m looking at another back-to-back race weekend this coming weekend. Still trying to find my groove as far as time management so everything gets done, but damn I love racing. Even on the bad days, running is lighting me up like it used to. Not going to get into details right now, but some new PRs have been set (as I inch ever closer to a sub-30 5k), and you can check out my Race Schedule page if you’re curious about what races I’ve done and how I did.

That said, there have been some bad days recently, and my poor performance at the half marathon course preview run killed me. Yesterday I went out for a 5k to redeem myself and was able to dissect it a little bit, which helps–if I can figure out what went wrong I can correct it. (1) My diet has been absolute crap–I’ve been on vacation so I haven’t been as consistent with my food plan. (2) New shoes–the ones I just bought and have been wearing are the updated version of my standbys, and whatever is different doesn’t seem to be working for me.

So today it’s back to my “diet” and I’m going back to my other shoes this week to see if it helps. Tweaked my ankle somehow during yesterday’s run so I’m resting today (crazy as that’s making me). That’s all I have for now, more soon.