Catching Up: 2016 recap and 2017 goals

The worst thing about taking a hiatus from blogging–whether intentional or not, but especially if it’s not–is coming back and feeling like you have so much to catch up on, and so much to talk about. This was definitely an unintentional break. I got busy with the holidays and morning workouts have edged out the time I used to use for writing and I just never made the point to do it. I’ve thought about it a lot, I have a list of things I want to get caught up on and talk about, bits and pieces of podcasts that have made me think “blog post!” but nothing has come to fruition. So, new year, time to buckle down and make this blog thing happen again. I’m not going to try to do a massive post to catch up on everything, I’m going to try to break it down in to several posts over at least the next week so it’s not a massive brain dump and I can do each thing proper justice.

First things first, then I’ll backtrack some (if you want to call it that)…2016 year in review and goals for 2017.

I ran 18 races in 2016, the most I’ve ever done, edging out my previous record of 16 races in 2013. I definitely didn’t love running, or 5ks, when I set the goal to do a race a month in 2016, but somewhere along the way I fell in love with running again and learned to love 5ks as well. I started the year basically half-assing and doing the races for the sake of doing them, but after some soul searching and gentle nudging from a friend I started to actually *run* again. And I came back stronger and faster and I just want more.

Which brings me to my goals for 2017…

-PR at the Pittsburgh Half Marathon (I have a specific time goal that I’m not keen to share just yet…)

-Run a sub-30 minute 5k

-PR 50k time

-PR ultra distance

-PR at a fall full marathon TBD (again, I have a time goal, but I’m not keen to share it yet…)

-Press 16kg bell 5x each side

-Get back to racing weight and maintain within 5lbs

-Volunteer for a race

Serious goals. Steep ones, especially if you knew the time goals I’ve set for myself. But not impossible or unobtainable. I talked about Beast Mode last year, but my training this year pales in comparison to what I thought was Beast Mode then. I’ll share more about my training plan soon (because, accountability) but for me it boils down to what I’ve decided on for my word of the year:

Self-discipline: the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses; the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it.

This is my focus, and will be the key to achieving my goals. In some respects I am very disciplined (working out, going to bed on time), in others I’m not nearly as disciplined as I should be (diet, stretching/foam rolling, drinking water). And developing and improving that consistency with self-discipline will be necessary.

I turn 35 next month. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would be an athlete when I turned 35. But I am and it’s time for me to act like it. The best is yet to come.

Race Recap: Holiday Double Header

I started this post last week, but the cold I’d acquired really kicked my butt and I couldn’t even get through typing it on Monday morning before I dragged myself to work.

I have really been looking forward to these races. I ran the Ugly Sweater Run in Pittsburgh last year with friends and it was so much fun. It didn’t come back here, but when I saw it was in Cleveland that seemed like a good excuse for a weekend trip. Then I found out the A Christmas Story Run was the day before. Sold. Unfortunately I caught a pretty wicked cold right before the trip which dampened my enthusiasm some for the weekend, but still…it was a lot of fun.

Headed to Ohio on Friday so we could hit packet pickup for the first race–A Christmas Story House run. No issues navigating in Cleveland (because it’s a grid built on a square…unlike our beloved Pittsburgh). Spent some time with my parents, then went over to Kel and Erik’s to have our pre-race dinner, a couple of drinks (because the pre-race beer has re-entered my life) and crash for the night.

Saturday morning we got up early, prepped, got out the door so we could find our way and make sure to get parking before road closures could become an issue (they wouldn’t have been for us, it turns out, but we didn’t know that). We were really early, and the lights were still on downtown, so Andy took some pictures of me before we went to Tower City for the SCRR photo.

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I started off great. I had energy, I was feeling good. I started with the 10:30 pacer (who was awesome) and stuck with him the whole first mile without much issue. But by mile two the sickness started to rear its ugly head and I was started to get depleted. I had to walk a few times. Cheers from fellow SCRR members helped as we passed each other along the course. It was a fun race, though, and I would totally do it again. Wish I could’ve seen more of the house (the actual house from A Christmas Story is the 5k endpoint and 10k turnaround) I thought about stopping for a selfie with it–pretty sure my time was already screwed because I’d had to walk, and this was supposed to be fun and not matter–but at that point I was running pretty well so I didn’t want to break momentum. So I kept going. The last bit of the course was rough for me, but I pressed on best I could manage. And ultimately I’m glad I did–I pulled out a PR! Only 5 seconds, and I’m reasonably sure the course was a little short, but hell it’s an official time on a course labeled 10k, so I’m going with it.

I was super depleted after the race, so we hightailed it back to the car and headed back to Kel & Erik’s. We got showered and such then the four of us went to lunch at FatHeads. So Good. Really hit the spot. Then we split ways and Andy and I went to pick up our packets for Sunday’s race, do a little shopping, then went to my parents house to help mom get ready for dad’s surprise party. I really could’ve used a nap, but it just wasn’t in the cards. We had a successful surprise 70th birthday party for my dad (and his twin brother). Then we headed back to Kel & Erik’s for the night.

Up and at ’em again on Sunday, not quite as bright eyed and bushy-tailed as I was on Saturday but good enough. This race was at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, which was admittedly a big part of the appeal. I love the zoo. Huddled in the info center to stay warm before the race and took some more pics while waiting for go time.

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The Ugly Sweater Run is billed as a 5k, but it isn’t timed–it truly is meant to be a fun run style event. I didn’t even start off as strong as I had the day before, I was definitely drained from the sickness, so I was really glad that there was no timing so there was no pressure at all for me to perform well. The course was also really short, definitely not 5k–Garmin clocked it about 2.75 miles. But again, it was a fun event. I liked it, I would do it again, especially at the zoo (or Pittsburgh, it was cool here too, and much closer to a real 5k). And this year there were medals! We got sweet medals for both events, which was awesome, because I am ALL about that bling.

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Next up is our New Year’s Double Header–the Harmon Silvester 5k on New Year’s Eve and the First Day 5k on New Year’s Day–because I can think of no better way to cap off this year and start next year than by running. Working on my training plan for the first part of the year and trying to get some races scheduled and on the books. It’s going to be a little intense, possibly INSANE, but I need to challenge myself to get where I want to be. More to come on that as it unfolds.

Also worth noting, I had to break my run streak. I made it 14 days, then my knee started acting up and I literally could not run. I rested a couple days and was fine. Then ran one day, but the last bit of chest congestion killed me. Yesterday I felt really lousy so I missed my run. I think I’ve just about kicked it though, so I’m going to start again. I’d rather keep trying and falling short than not go for it at all. Don’t give up. Just keep pushing.

Happy Monday, friends!

Wake Up Call…

I’ve been holding back, on here, in life, I haven’t quite been myself. It’s taken me awhile to realize it, and to realize that it’s my problem. I’ve lacked direction, I’ve gained weight, I just don’t feel like myself. For the most part I’m happy, positive, cheerful. I give the face of being driven and motivated but underneath I haven’t felt that. I struggle to do things that I know need to be done. I’ve made excuses for things without realizing I was making excuses.

I had a conversation with a friend at the end of last week when I’d slipped into a darker place, and he put things in perspective and snapped me back to reality. It was a kick in the ass that I needed much more than I realized. He called me out on my excuses.

I am not myself. I haven’t been running, at least not much. Not enough. My body isn’t where I want it to be and it doesn’t feel like mine. I felt most like myself when I was running most days of the week. I look at pictures from that phase of my life and that’s me. That’s what I look like, that’s what I feel like. And I miss me. A lot. Running has sucked for me for the past couple of years. I developed IT issues after my second marathon and I haven’t been the same since, and that became an excuse. And then we moved in together and got married and I’ve used that as an excuse. And my job situation sucked for awhile and that became an excuse.

And the conversation with my friend made me wake up and own up to all the excuses I was making, and made me realize that I need to shut up and run. It’s the piece that’s been missing. Ever since I was younger, long before I started running, I’ve envisioned myself as a runner, and that’s still how I see myself in my head. I know what it feels like to be that, and I want it back. And I want it back badly enough to do whatever it takes to get back there. If I can’t manage the IT issues on my own, I’ll go to PT and get help for it. Yeah it sucks and it’s slow going right now–I’m heavier than I should be and out of shape–but that’s not going to change unless I get off my ass and change it. I used to deal with my feelings by running, and that has gradually shifted to using food to deal with them–that has to change back. Now that I’m aware that’s what I’ve been doing I can change it.

The past few days since this conversation and the subsequent realizations have been so different for me. I ran both days. For the first time in ages I wanted to. And I packed my bag to potentially run after work (weather depending). I’ve had fleeting thoughts about missing time with my husband, but the fact of the matter is that girl–the one who ran all the time–is the one he fell in love with in the first place. And I’m missing some of my spark. If running more is what it takes to get it back, he’ll be supportive.

So this journey is finding my way back to myself. As I do that I think the other things I’ve been struggling over will fall back into place.

Pittsburgh Great Race 5k Race Report

So first a word about good life decisions. I make them. Moving here has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, hands down. I’ve been here less than 3 weeks and I’ve already run two 5Ks and today I PR’d. For realsies.

So it started Wednesday night. Kristi needed to give up her spot in the Great Race 10k, and Lynn came home at the end of a long day and asked if I had any interest in doing a 5k or 10k this weekend. I said I’d be up for a 5k, but I’m not ready for a 10k yet. So we figure out the details of transferring the registration to my name, and the next day I drive over to Kristi’s to have her sign the form. Lynn turns it in on Friday and comes home with our ‘Swag Bags’. This is happening.

I get up at 5 this morning, change into my race gear–it was supposed to be chilly with a good chance of wet. So I’m layered to the hilt. Decide to abandon a layer in the car, which turned out to be a good call. Lynn and I took the 5k shuttle to the start and kill the better part of the hour until start time. The strategy–middle of the road over the start line, then shift left for passing and all that. My goal was to PR. My best 5k time was my first race, what feels like eons ago, and it was 39-something. I wanted to see 38 or better on the clock, that’s all I wanted.

We started off and it was clear to me straight off that I love Pittsburgh. I LOVE IT. I love running through this city. I LOVE IT. It’s gorgeous. It’s friendly. And it’s just so much fun to run in. So we started running. And the really fun part about huge races like this for admittedly slow, but improving, runners like myself is that you actually get to pass people. A lot of people. So we’re weaving and bobbing and working our way through the crowd. Lynn was an awesome pacer. I felt solid and steady. I didn’t want to walk or even slow down because there was someone running with me. First mile was a breeze once I warmed up, though I was definitely ready for the water stop at the halfway point. Walked the first water stop. Continued, mile two was a little rougher, a little slower, but we hung in there. I knew that we were 2 minutes behind clock time, so when I heard 27:15 at the two mile I knew I had it in me to PR. I could do 13. So we continued. Last water stop I didn’t want to walk, I wanted that PR so we jogged through. MISTAKE! (Imagine that being sung.) I got a stitch in my side shortly thereafter and had it not been for Lynn I would’ve walked. But I didn’t. I kept going. Kept running. Groaning every few steps, trying desperately to massage the ache in my side, but I kept moving. We kept bobbing and weaving and passing. And after what felt like the longest finish chute EVER (I swear the ones for the half marathons are shorter) there was the clock. We finished. Scanned our bibs to get our times (thank you fancy QR coded bibs! I seriously hope they do that for the half marathon next year). 38:14. BAM!! And that, my friends, is how you PR. (Did I mention that Lynn was an awesome pacer? Totally couldn’t have done it without her.) We got the requisite Smiley cookie (another great thing about running in the ‘burgh) and headed back to the car to change out of our sweaty stuff into warmer stuff, picked up post-race caffeine (Diet Mt. Dew for Ben and coffee for Lynn and I) then made our way back to the finish area to find Kristi and wait for Ben and Kristi’s friend Melissa to finish. Lynn and I were almost hit by the press truck (members of the press riding on a flatbed) and then it started to rain steadily harder and harder as we waited for Ben and Melissa.

I was cold and wet, but you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I had PR’d! I had Dunkin Donuts coffee in my hand! I was surrounded by friends and in a city I love. Life is good. 😀

And I’m thinking I have to do the 10k next year. 🙂

Shaker 7 Road Race Report

This was such a great event. I decided to do it because someone I met in my Nonprofit Management Certificate program runs it as a fundraiser and she suggested it to me upon hearing about my first half marathon. It was a really well organized event; I’ve been to other smaller races that are not as well managed. I plan to send Dolores a note and let her know that it was great. And it was a fun run. I was nervous about it since it was the first time I’ve done this race, but it went well.

This is a PR for the 7-mile distance for me. I usually come in around 1:45, my last 7-miler was around 1:42, so I was hoping to push it and come in around 1:40. I was ecstatic to come in under that (official time was 1:38:24, my watch time was 1:38:18, either way, I’m thrilled). I was second to last, playing cat and mouse with this awesome older gentleman named Wayne, who I later found out was one of the founding sponsors of the race and in from California to run it. I introduced myself to him after and thanked him for the chase. He smiled and thanked me for giving him someone to run after.

And I won a raffle prize! I never win anything. Today I got this:

Badger Muscle Rub, Foot Balm and 2 Lip Tint & Shimmers. Local Organic products for the win!

Then we came home, had waffles, and I have done very little else. Today has been lovely and full of WIN.

Training Log–Week 2 (1/10-1/15)

Monday (1/10)-2 miles on treadmill; went in dreading it, but forced myself to pick up the pace and left glad that I did it.

Thursday (1/13)-2.27 miles on treadmill; first 2.02 in my Ryka’s, last .25 in my VFFs! Love them already.

Saturday (1/15)– 3.25 miles on treadmill; varied speed every ¼-½ mile. Last ¼ mile in my VFFs, a little rough in the middle, but good overall.

Total Mileage for week: 7.52

Total Mileage for year: 13.96

My Spankin’ new VFFs…

I’ve run exactly ¼ mile in them and I’m sold.

I’ve been thinking about Vibram Five Fingers for about 6 months or so. My friend Sam got hooked on them around the same time I read an article about minimalist footwear in Runner’s World. So I did some more reading and research on my own, and enjoyed Sam’s running commentary (ha!) in his journal comics. What sold me was getting Born to Run for Christmas (Have I mentioned how amazing this book is? I’ve already started to re-read it!). 

I could feel the difference right away, so I’m expecting *some* soreness tomorrow. I’m not really a heel striker. A look at the soles of my shoes shows more wear on the fore/mid sole than the heel. I am barefoot or in flimsy shoes as often as humanly possible–I just haven’t been running that way. And bad joints run (ha!) in my family, something I want to delay as long as humanly possible because I LOVE RUNNING. Still, I know I need to take it slow. Sam cautioned starting with a half mile, others have said just to start with a few minutes. I decided I’m going to do ¼ mile on top of my scheduled training for the next week and progress an extra ¼ mile each week as long as it feels okay. When I get to running a full mile in them I’ll start subbing that mile for some of my training–but for starting out it’s not a big deal to add an extra ¼ to ¾ of a mile to my already short runs, and it’s a bigger pain in the butt to stop mid-run to change shoes.

But already, I’m sold. I can’t wait until I’m only running in my VFFs. And I can totally see myself getting another pair and wearing these around for errands and such because they really do feel like a second skin. And they are going to be so much easier to pack for traveling because they are wicked light and portable (the box looks like a child’s shoe box!). I didn’t get the color I wanted because the place I went didn’t have choices, but I don’t care. If I really wanted to I could order them in the color I want since I know my size now, but I’m not going to jump into that just yet.

Training Log–Week 1 (1/3-1/9)

I’ve decided to post the highlights from my paper training log weekly (unless there is something spectacular, in which case I’ll probably update from my phone at the gym).

Monday (1/3)-2.20 miles on treadmill; w .25//r 1.75//w .20; needed to eat something & drink more water before but felt good otherwise.

Wednesday (1/5)-2 miles on treadmill; w .25//r 1.5// w .25; still not eating/drinking enough, sidestitch around 1 mile mark, stopped for water. Not stellar but in the books.

Saturday (1/8)– 2.24 miles on treadmill; w .25//r 1/75//w .24; ate a banana 30 min. before & drank more water = FELT BETTER! good run.

Total Mileage for week: 6.44

Total Mileage for year: 6.44