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DrWhiskers

Finally, it all came together!

Backing up a little, I first attempted sub 2 for a HM last January and again in June. While I missed the mark both times, I did have successful training cycles where I lowered my PR from 2:11 to 2:01:5x. I also transitioned from 3 days to 5 days per week running. I spent the summer maintaining my base and then began training for my first full marathon at the end of August (race is in 4 weeks!). Initially, I was aiming to break 2 at a race in mid November but things fell apart 4-5 weeks prior. All workouts that had any intensity were a huge struggle. My coach and I decided to postpone the HM goal and focus on MP workouts and long runs instead. I ran that November HM as a workout which definitely was the right move. After backing off of speed a little in October, I’ve hit the track a few times in the past few weeks and I’ve been back to running well.

The San Diego Holiday Half is a local favorite where this is maybe the 5th year it’s been running: it's a point-to-point course with the start line at 731 ft and the finish at 13ish ft. It contains a bunch of rolling hills and is supposed to be an overall enjoyable course (I have not run it before). I ran my first 20 miler the previous Saturday and then did lower mileage and intensity this past week plus I skipped my normal leg strength workout on Wed. I didn't feel completely fresh going into the race but I was ready to go for it!

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Race morning was a cold 53 degrees for San Diego as I parked around 6am. I had woken up at 5:20am which is my normal time--very nice to not get up earlier than usual! Parking was super easy as there's a giant shopping center 0.5 miles away from the start area. I could have arrived at 7am and had plenty of time. I stayed warm in my car until about 6:45am then went into Starbucks which was a nice alternative to POPs. I felt a little bad for not buying anything but I'm not a coffee drinker. There were maybe a dozen runners in there but no bathroom line, sweet!

I slow jogged it to the start line and had about 20 min to spare. For the first time ever, I decided to use bag check so I could hold onto my long sleeve for a few more minutes. After my warm up, it was not cold at all which had me slightly worried that it would warm too quickly. For the past few weeks, it's been 60 at sunrise then 70-something by 8am in full sun. Thankfully, race morning was the first overcast day in forever and it would remain cool and cloudy for the entire race. Plus the dry, windy, fire-provoking nonsense that we've had a lot of lately was absent. I would actually feel a few sprinkles during the race! We haven’t had rain in months so this had everyone looking around like wtf?

There are 4 corrals and somehow my guesstimate finish time of 1:59:55 puts me in Corral 1. Ummm, no. Plus the 2:00 pacers are in Corral 2 so that is where I line up. We start 3 minutes after Corral 1 and we're off! My goals for the race are A) sub 2, B) beat PR (2:01:5x) and C) have fun and don't mess up marathon training. The course has it's biggest hill at Mile 1 then is net downhill with rolling hills until Mile 10, then flat-ish to the finish. Coach told me not to kill myself on the hill then for Miles 1.5-10 to "Go, Go, Go"; to take advantage of the elevation decline. I am usually terribly conservative during races, afraid of burnout at the end. This time I planned to stay with the pacers as long as I could. I talked to them in the corral and they planned on even pacing throughout (9:09 pace).

I try to keep the pacers nearby for the first mile, slipping a little going up the biggest hill but always within maybe 20-50 ft. Around the first mile split, I hear a jingle and see a lady on the far right side drop her car keys on the ground while getting something out of her pocket. I yell out and point over (I'm almost on the far left side of the 3-ish lanes we're running on) but no one grabs her keys. I turn, and run over and backwards to get them but then see her continuing on ahead, too far for me to sprint with ease. Runners around me yell Good Job! as they realize what I did and I figure I'll catch up to her at some point or worse case, give them to the RD at the end. Another mile goes past and I see the lady ahead has just realized she doesn't have her keys and is looking frantically in every pocket of her shorts and flip belt. I feel a little bad but I'm still too far back to catch her…at least, without potentially sabotaging my race. This is a PR attempt, folks! Luckily, at the water stop she pulls off to the side and almost stops so I'm able to tap her shoulder and thrust the keys at her. She's yelling OMG THANK YOUUUUU!!!! as I continue past and I don't see her again. I'm glad to help her not have a very terrible morning plus it has kept my mind off the fact that the pacers are running sub 9 minute miles. I see a timing mat up ahead and look at my watch: 2.8 miles. Weird, I swear the race emails mentioned splits at 5K, 10K and 10 miles for the live tracking. I note the time at the mat and picture my coach having a heart attack when she sees I've hit the "5K" split at a 40 second 5K PR time, hahaha

 

Miles 1-3   8:59 / 8:54 / 9:06

 

Around this time, the course goes from a wide road to a narrow bike path. The area around the 2:00 pacers has gotten super congested and I debate what to do for a few minutes. Do I stay with the pacers who are running a tad fast and risk getting run over? Or move ahead and try to avoid getting passed by them later? I feel really good and am running comfortably hard but it's also early in the race. Typically, I look at my watch a million times during a race and run by the numbers. I fear crashing and burning with miles to go so usually if I see a pace that seems too fast for me, I'll slow down rather than just listening to my body. Making the decision to pass the pacers was a key point in the race for me. I even thought about Gonzo Runner  (though I’ve never met him!) since I had just read his most recent race report about racing aggressively. Even though I was seeing paces starting with an 8, I felt good and decided to trust my training. This probably only worked because I have been running so much lately! For the majority of the race, I ran the downhills harder and the uphills a little slower, looking at my watch here or there but never focusing on it. If I saw a too-fast-for-me pace on my watch, I simply assessed my breathing and my body. Things kept feeling good so I continued on.

 

Miles 4-6   8:36 / 8:54 / 8:44

 

Holy crap! I just ran faster than my 10K PR by 30ish seconds!!

 

And....hit the 10K mat around 6.5 miles. Coach will think I'm dying a slow death based on my uneven splits, which she'll expect was inevitable based on the seemingly way too fast first 5K, haha

 

Miles 7-9  8:57 / 8:58 / 8:52

 

Still cruising and the miles are flying by. I’m really going to do this!

 

Hit an aid station where I had to wait a few seconds for a cup of water. Lots of water jugs but only one volunteer pouring them out. Blech

 

Mile 10 timing mat is at 9.5 miles. What the heck, Timing Company?!?

 

The course has a bunch of small rollers and it’s definitely getting harder to maintain pace. I just think about staying with the folks around me. Next water stop has no water in cups. The single volunteer cannot keep up. Race Fail #1. I’m not dying and it isn’t hot but I could really have used some water. I keep going, slightly disgruntled.

 

Mile 12 finally has some water. I grab a cup and walk twice as long as I normally do to get every last drop, leading to the slowest mile of the race. I am way ahead of sub 2 pace so I don’t freak out.

 

Miles 10-12   9:02 / 9:02 / 9:19

 

We’re heading toward the coast and it’s mostly flat. There’s a random side road for a little out and back and then we’re heading to the coast again. I focus on moving my arms to take my  mind off the fact that my legs feel like they’re numb. We get closer to the beach and with about 0.3 miles to go, I start to speed up for the final push….yet, at the same time wonder how there’s still 0.3 miles to go when we’re almost to the beach. Maybe we run all around the parking lot before the finish? We turn the corner into the lot and BAM! Right there is the finish. Race Fail #2 My watch says 12.89 miles as I cross the finish and I debate for a moment continuing to run to get to 13.1 miles. The finisher chute is pretty congested so I just stop, THRILLED with my splits and PISSED at the short course.

 

Mile almost 13  7:57 (8:55 pace)

 

I finish in 1:55:22 with 8:57 pace for 12.9 miles. My previous PR was 9:13 pace back in June so quite the jump! I figure I could have squeaked under 1:57 if the course was the correct distance since I was just starting to speed things up for the final sprint. Granted there’s a pretty good net downhill for this course but still, I can’t believe I was able to run that fast, for that far! Another success was feeling like I could listen more to my body and ignore (somewhat) the numbers on my watch. Of course, that worked because I actually have the training to back it up right now.

 

Part of me is ecstatic with the race and part of me feels like it doesn’t really count. The course is USATF-certified but I bet the small out and back near the end had a misplaced cone for the turnaround. I have mixed feelings about doing this race again because failing at the course length and inadequate water on the course are 2 big failures. Anyways, I am so happy with myself and everything that was in my control. Two days later and I'm feeling great, nothing blistered, chafed or sore. 4 weeks until RNR Arizona!

 

Spotting DS just before the finish and running over for a high-five...

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I swear my form is usually better than this

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DH tried not to get the "no swimming, high bacteria levels" sign in the photo, haha

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Gonzo Runner

A belated two-fer race report.

I knew I was going to like this race. We had gotten a flyer about the Atlanta Lab Rescue’s 5K, on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, in a swag bag for some other race we’d run this year, and signed up to help support a good local cause. It was a 9am start, which I like because fuck mornings. There was going to be a coffee and doughnut truck parked at the start/finish line. And, of course, there would be dozens of dogs. They were already just a beer truck shy of perfection, but then I checked past years’ results and realized it wasn’t a particularly fast field. Most of the races I run are either huge fields or attended by the local Track Club’s elite team, so I’ve never even sniffed an age group award. Well, that’s not entirely true, I came in second in a small race in NJ a few years back but they only gave awards to the winners. But I’m not really fast enough to be winning anything anyway and I’m in a competitive age group, so I usually focus my post race revelry around the beer tent, not the podium. But while perusing the past results I realized that my usual 5K times would have placed in my age group, and a small PR could have easily been competitive overall. This now went from a “feel good” race to a competitive one.

At least, it did in my head. The Wife was planning to jog/walk the race with The Dog, so I did a solo warm-up mile while she avoided saying hi to the people attached to the dogs attached to the butts The Dog was smelling. It was a beautiful morning to run, temps in the 40s with a light wind. But I was struggling to get going. I had only done one or two short interval sessions since Chicago, and the lungs were definitely feeling strained as I tried some strides at the end of my warm-up. I knew after months of marathon training and a mostly speedless few weeks I wasn’t in peak 5K shape, but was still hoping to see some residual benefits of the marathon cycle. I backed off PR hopes and lined up at the front of the small pack at the start line and hoped to stay close to the leaders for at least a little bit. 

The official starter was a three-legged senior dog who had a little cart his back half sat in to let him run.

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He was going to get a small head start then duck off to the side to continue his race once we all went by. Seeing how happy he was as we all cheered him on and he got to lead the way made the mass of dog lovers all a little misty eyed, and we all looked for distractions that didn’t involve eye contact. I used this time to scope out the competition and assess my chances at any kind of podium finish. There were a lot of people who looked to be about my age, so I started sorting them by apparel. There were a bunch in sweat pants and wool beanies who I didn’t consider competition. There were a few others who looked fit and were wearing tights, but their shoes were the off-model ones (like New Balance 270 or Nike Solarknit) sold by running brands at big-box stores like Costco or Sports Authority, and look as though they had 9,483 miles on them. So I dismissed them as gym bros or crossfitters. I continued in this manner until I’d whittled it down to 3-4 people who looked to be my age, were dressed appropriately, and had racing flats or at least legit running shoes on. I wasn’t feeling great after my lackluster warm-up, but was hoping for some of that race day mojo to start pumping once the horn went off.

Once it did, there was the usual rush of people sprinting out to get into position, and a group of roughly 25 runners broke away and stretched out into a mostly single file line. I worked my way into a slot near the middle of this pack and tried to settle into race pace. The course was an out and back consisting of a straight shot up, over, and down a hill for a half mile or so, then a left turn and another straight stretch along the main road until the turn around. I was guessing a fair number of the people ahead of me would start fading and falling back before long, so my plan was to keep a steady rhythm and let them come back to me while staying as close as possible to those I perceived to be the real competition. 

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As we made our left onto the main road and headed out to the turnaround, I realized the entire out was uphill. Because I’m a masochist I smiled when I saw this, and since I’m also a sadist I planned on using it to break the people ahead of me. My usual strategy in short races is to sneak up on and then charge past people backing off on an uphill, and either demoralize them by how effortlessly I fly by or goad them into giving chase and running my race instead of theirs. I always back off slightly at the crest, partly to regroup and partly to give my mark a glimmer of hope. Then I take off on the downhill, running almost out of control and breaking my pursuer. Because all of my usual running routes have elevation charts like sine waves (well, one’s closer to a cosine, but I doubt Hipparchus or Fourier is going to read this and dispute me), I’m well adapted to rolling terrain and this strategy usually works. I’m typically closer to the middle of the pack though and the hills aren’t usually a mile long, so I wasn’t sure it’d work this time. Nevertheless I made my way up to the first target and took advantage of the music he was blasting (I heard it from his earbuds 10 yards back) to stealthily sneak in behind him. I caught my breath for a moment, and then swung out and put the pedal down to decisively pass him, causing his head to jerk up and breathing to stutter when I popped into his field of vision. I watched in the shadows at my side as he fell back even as I eased off a bit, and then began slowly moving up to reel in the next target.

I repeated this a few more times, and combined with the “out too fast” crowd fading away it wasn’t long until I could only see a handful of runners ahead of me. Barring a burn out there was only one of them I thought was close enough for me to catch, so I tried to maintain and recover a little bit on the last of the uphill out stretch, then planned to make a push after the turnaround. Then I heard footsteps behind me. I glanced over my shoulder and noticed a couple pulling up right behind me. From my quick scope, they both passed the “do they look fast enough to worry” test, so I checked my Garmin and realized I had backed off more than I thought. The combination of the long climb, energy expended passing people, and lack of speedwork had me working harder than I’d have liked, but I tried to pick it up again and hold them off as long as I could. 

I managed to get my two pursuers to fall in behind and draft off me for a bit, and as an unintended consequence of my push I had caught the runner ahead of me. I used the turnaround to slingshot past him, patted myself on the back when I realized he looked about my age, and tried to ride the downhill as close to the edge of out of control as I could. Then I heard the footsteps again. I glanced over my shoulder and saw the woman who I had managed to hold off on the uphill passing me on the down. It was a strong move, and I didn’t know if I could cover it, but I tried to just keep her within striking distance. I could see the people still on the outbound side and knew that we were pulling away from our closest pursuers, and the leaders were far enough ahead that I knew we weren’t catching them. So I focused on keeping the woman ahead of me as close as I could without crashing and letting myself get caught. I tried to count the runners ahead of us, and made out 4 men and 1 other woman. I knew the overall leader looked like he was 16 (and lazily jogging, the little bastard), and recognized one of the guys as one of the runners I’d pegged as competition. I couldn’t make out the other 2 men and tried to calculate the odds that they were both 35-39, but was it was becoming a lot of work to maintain pace and I just resolved to not let myself get passed.

As we entered the final stretch, I alternated between trying to push and reel in the woman ahead of me and checking over my shoulder to make sure I wasn’t being reeled in myself. My lungs felt like dried out elastic that had lost its stretch, my legs were pumping pure acid, and I had snot dripping into my mustache. Ah, the sensory stimuli of the 5K. I crossed the line in 21:10, which is only a few seconds off my PR, but about 30 seconds slower than the last half of my most recent 10K.

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As I caught my breath and muttered mild unpleasantries over my time, I counted the other finishers and confirmed I had come in 6th overall, which is by far the best result I’ve had in any competitive endeavor since the Pinewood Derby (which I absolutely OWNED). The woman who I had chased the entire second half came over and we congratulated each other on a well run race while she waited for her boyfriend to finish. The Wife and The Dog trotted in just as I was finishing my cool-down, and while she got in line at the doughnut truck I checked the official results. 

The guy I swore was my age was actually 45, and after a moment of debating whether he looked good for his age or I looked bad for mine I checked the other men who’d finished ahead of me, and none of them were in my age group. So...did...did I win? We stuck around for the awards eating doughnuts and petting dogs and then picking dog hairs out of our mouths until the announcements started, and they confirmed I’d won my age group. The emcee making announcements and handing out awards was a little taken back when I walked up, and I realized why once I saw the pictures.

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After a moment of staring blankly at me and mumbling something about not having any change I told him my name and they snapped back into action and handed me my award and took my picture, which I’m sure won’t make the cut for next year’s promotional pictures. 

 

On Thanksgiving every year, the Track Club holds a halfmarathon and 5K. Neither The Wife or I thought we’d be in shape to race a half and cook Thanksgiving dinner, so we opted for the 5K. I had initially planned on racing, but after the hard effort just a few days before I decided an all out 5K effort probably wasn’t the best idea. The Wife was itching to race however, so I agreed to pace her on a PR attempt. 

The first ⅔ of this race is almost entirely uphill, but there's a long, fast downhill finish. Which happens to be in front of the old Turner Field, which served as the Olympic Stadium in 1996. This means that the final stretch is not only downhill, but also passes under arches covered in Olympic rings and a mock-up of the Olympic torch. An inspiring finish chute to say the least. 

But we had to get there first. After a disappointing Chicago result, The Wife was a little mentally scarred and started to back off every time things got uncomfortable, fearing an impending blowout. This is in direct contrast to my racing mindset, which is “if we haven’t blown up yet, keep pushing”. I knew this wouldn’t work for her, so I tried distractions and pointing out things to take her mind off a potential crash and burn. Like the woman ahead of us in the Kona shirt and size XXXXS tights which were somehow still too big and made it abundantly clear she was running commando. Or the pre-teen boy running behind her and tripping over his jaw while he stared. 

We got through the first 2 miles slightly behind PR pace, but The Wife was looking pretty gassed. I tried subtly pulling ahead to see if she’d follow, but I could tell from her ragged breathing there wasn’t much left in the tank. The Wife isn’t big on mantras or upbeat encouragement, so I didn’t bother trying that. She’s stubborn as hell and has an incredible pain threshold which you’d think would be great for racing, she sometimes just forgets to tap into that. So I decided to try and coax her down that path. Finish line in sight downhill through the Olympic arches, I turned to her and asked how she felt. She gave me an odd side-eye and said nothing. So I leaned in and said “Do you want to feel like you did after Chicago, or Philly, or Publix, or do you want to feel good after this?” She looked at me again from under a furrowed brow, and suddenly found another gear. I could barely keep up with her kick, and she ended up with a ~20 second PR. She's as tough as they come, she just forgets that sometimes.

We got home in time to catch Alice’s Restaurant Massacree at noon while I seasoned and prepped my turkey, stuffing, and Thanksgiving trimmings. The rambling spoken word/ folk ballad/ satirical protest song is always my “it’s officially Thanksgiving” moment, and we spent the rest of the day cooking, watching football, eating a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat, and watching whatever the Giants call that thing they did in the night game. That performance made me glad I picked up an extra bottle of that Russian River zinfandel. 

Since then, the running has been uneven. But not non-existent. Training for my spring half starts after the new year, so until then I’m just trying not to drink myself to death. At least wine is good for your heart, right?   
 

NCAthlete

The Happenings

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Where's Chris? :)

Not at ton has been going on lately. I had planned to jump right back into a training plan right after Rehoboth, but I haven't. I've just been running when I feel like it and I like that!

Last Thursday, I finally made it back to my run club. It was a Toys for Tots collection night so I ran over to the toy store just across the street, and grabbed a blingy dinosaur. McGruff and some police officers were there to collect the toys. I am really loving this run club because they do lots of good things for the community, and there are always lots of great new people to meet. As soon as we started running, it started snowing pretty hard. I didn't have a headlamp so I had to stick with someone who did. I ended up running much faster than I intended so it kicked my ass. I was able to hang though! After running two loops of the usual route, we got back to Runner's Roost where they always do a raffle. If you run, you get a ticket. I won a Saucony hat! After that, we always head to Rocko's Cantina for tacos and beer. I'll be going tonight for the ugly sweatshirt run!

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Isn't it cute?!


Monday, I ran five miles after work on the Bear Creek Greenway, just behind my house. As usual, I didn't wear a headlamp and I didn't almost get hit by a bike this time. About a mile and a half into the run, which runs along the Bear Creek and a sewage system, I started smelling these wretched fumes. It smelled like a cross between pain thinner and dead ass. It was really strong and was making me nauseous. I had to smell it for a whole mile, and then turn around and smell it more. The pluses of that run were seeing a small herd of grazing deer, and hearing owl hoots in the woods.

Tuesday, we had a high of 69 degrees! I was able to run while it was still light out so I donned shorts and a t-shirt and hit the trails behind the house. I haven't been running on the trails much since it gets dark so early/light so late. I've been saving trail runs for the weekends.

I haven't pulled the trigger on joining my old HIIT gym again yet, and now I'm not sure I will. I found out that my coach left which is 70% of the reason I liked that gym. They also changed the name so I'm not sure what's going on there. However, I haven't seen another gym like this and I really love the hour-long HIIT workouts. They are super intense!

The first Denali training is a month away, and I'm pretty excited to get the first one out of the way just so that I have more information on what exactly will be happening.

That's it for now. Thanks for reading,

Chris

ocrunnergirl

Summer is my favorite time to run. Shorts, sports bra and some sneakers. I never have to push myself out the door dreading the cold. As you all know I missed the whole summer of running. I try very hard not to get caught up in the "poor me" syndrome. I may wallow for a bit about how much something stinks at the moment, but then I try to find ways to work around my current problem.

This summer I became the queen of working around my hamstring injury. I was told by the PTs to "just rest" or work on my upper body. Pfffftttttt to the rest. Stairclimbing, rowing, ellipticaling, and weights became my go to workouts.

I built biceps all summer long.

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My friends, my kids and I had already completed a Sprint (3-5 miles) and a Super (8-10 miles) Spartan race. We needed one last race to complete our Trifecta medals -- the Beast (13-15 miles). We chose the Central Florida Beast this past weekend. As luck would have it the weather went from 80* down to 50* the day of the race. Boo!

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This race had some of the obstacles that I've never been able to complete - tyrolean rope, monkey bars, twister. It was time to test my newly built biceps!

N, C and I were running together. My son and daughter ran their own race.

We jumped the hay bales, overwalls and the over, under, through obstacle. Jumped and shimmied over the hurdles that are 4 ft in the air.

The barbed wire in this race was so low and so long!! Poor C who has bad knees and is tall had to do the whole thing on her back!

The bucket brigade was fun. I got the guy in front of me singing the "Sound Off - 1, 2, 3 , 4" song. Good thing he knew it better than me!

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Climbed the 8 foot wall and ran to the bender obstacle! I love this obstacle!! It's like a jungle gym that is 4 foot in the air. You climb up underneath and then have to pull yourself up and over the top and climb back down the other side. It takes some bravery and muscle to pull yourself up from underneath and over the top. Love it. Luckily I don't tend to think of the what-if I fell!

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Immediately following this was the tyrolean rope. Last time I tried this it hurt my achilles so bad! This time I wasn't sure what it would mean for my hamstring. I shimmied under that thing and worked my way all the way across the rope! It never felt so good to ring the bell. (Obviously not me)

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The plate drag was up next. C is a beast at the heavy drags and lifts. I pulled mine across and was able to pull it back to its start position. A major win for my hammy!

Twister is a relatively new obstacle. I tried it once and only made it 1/2 way through. This time it was child's play! I ran around and high fived a bunch of strangers!! I love that you can be so random with people and they will play along!(obviously not me)

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The log carry and z walls were no problem. Climbing walls still is hard for me so I had a bit of help getting to the climbable portion of the Stairway to Sparta.

There were 2 sandbag carries. One through the water because we wouldn't want to have dry shoes.

The monkey bars are uneven. When I've tried to do them before I couldn't make the transition upward. This time they were so easy I couldn't believe I'd ever had problems with them before!

We were running some and walking a lot because N has knee issues. She had meniscus surgery 18 months ago and still gets swelling when she runs.

The spear throw is just a stupid obstacle! Never have made it once in the 5 Spartans that I have done. Gah!

Totally failed Olympus this time. I made it 1/2 way this past summer but I couldn't get any traction with my feet. Boo! (not me)

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The rings were up next! Love the rings! It's like you are a child on the play ground again! You like the guys oxygen restriction mask? I left mine at home....

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I got to the end and didn't generate enough swing to get up to the bell. I swung back and forth like 5 times trying to hit the bell!

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I finally yelled for N to come over and help me! #Teamwork!

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In retrospect if I had just re-gripped the ring behind me I could've gained more momentum! LOL!

The rolling mud hills were next. These were seriously slippery and disgusting. But don't worry! We got cleaned off by going under the dunk walls! Brrrr!!!!

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Ridiculous!! It was so slippery that we had to crawl out of the silly pit! thank goodness we only had another 2 miles to go now that we were completely soaked and cold!

Scaled the slip wall and lifted the atlas ball. Everything was so slippery that this was the first time I had to roll the Atlas ball up my leg instead of just picking it up.

At the vertical cargo net we saw a guy carry a paralyzed man over the net! I couldn't believe how dangerous it looked. By now the dirt was grinding into my hands. It was super painful getting over the top. I was pretty sure the rope climb was going to be a no go.

We ran through some enchanted forests and came out to the rope. C & N call this my event because I'm the only one of us who can do it. I rinsed my hands off as well as I could with the water from my water bottle that I had been carrying for 12+ miles. Gripped the rope and shimmied right up that thing like it was the first obstacle! Boo yah!!!

We ran off to the herc hoist. Pulled those sand bags all the way up. Scrambled over the A-frame and dashed for the finish line!

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I may have broken out into a spontaneous dance to the club music that the DJ was playing. C & N were unimpressed. I'm sure my kids were trying to pretend that they didn't know me. A guy passed by and commented on my mad dance skillz!!

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We quickly changed and took some finishing line pictures.

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My kids had a fantastic race!

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We went back to the house and cleaned up. Ate like champs!

The next day we corrupted my sons girlfriend! She ran her first Spartan Sprint and loved it!

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We cheered like maniacs!

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C, N, my daughter and I all completed our 1st Trifectas!

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My son did 2 Trifectas this year!

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Such a great time! And I'm so happy that I didn't sit around this summer and do nothing because of my silly hammy.

If one road is blocked try going a different way. It just might be fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PegLeg

A few years have passed since I first visited a running store and bought my first running shoes. A few years have passed since I decided to hit the road and run those initial calf-burning, lung-searing miles. A few years have passed since I once again fell in love with the endorphin rush that washed over me in the wake of cooling sweat, thundering heart rate, taut, quivering muscles quieting into total body relaxation (yes, I’m talking about RUNNING here, kids…).

You can experience this stuff all over again, though.

Find a brand new runner.

Someone who said “I’m not a runner!” as recently as a few months ago. Someone who talked about seeing runners on the road with just the slightest hint of amusement under the tone of voice, like… yeah, those people. Someone who joked about being chased if you saw him needing to run. Someone who played all the real sports like baseball, basketball, golf, etc.

But maybe that someone starts realizing how much running has been a part of your life, your makeup, your history. The difference it made. The way your eyes shine when you talk about a BQ, a marathon, about training. The way your face becomes a study of resignation and pain when a race that was your goal is a bust… but then the way your face came alive when you accomplished it and could talk about it in terms of victory. How you speak of the things that plagued you before running, and how different it is now. And your friend starts thinking.

 “Maybe I should start running?” He asked it quietly, suddenly, the almost-always-sad eyes sparking with just a little hope, a shred of motivation.  “Do you think it would help me?”

I tried hard not to show the surprise that I felt. That was a quick turnaround from “I’m NOT a runner.”

But desperate times call for desperate measures. And losing a marriage of 12 years, with all the ongoing pain and conflict and emotional upheavals it brings, along with trying to be a dad to two kids, staying afloat financially, struggling with depression and loneliness, and daily battling the taunting clutches of former alcoholism (4 years clean as of Summer, 2013… not a drop since)… well, those are desperate times.

Life gets hard. Nights get long. Everything comes crashing down. Sometimes you just need some solitude and sweat and the wind in your face. Sometimes you need to get physical with the ghosts of your pasts and the demons of your present.

Do you think running would help? He asks.

Um, YES. I do. 

It helped when I was alone and desperate, when I wanted to take my own life. It helped when I was trying to process what had happened to me as a child versus what was happening to me becoming a woman. It helped when I hated my body and started starving myself and throwing up. It helped when I went through my first heartbreak, and when my then-best-friend betrayed my confidence and told my secrets to many. It helped when my relationship with my father was practically nonexistent. It helped when people called me “wild”, improper, unladylike, not find-a-husband material, and immodest for my love for the outdoors and my thinly veiled yearning to be free. Yep, even  way back then, on the dirt roads, in an ankle length dress, in shoes I had to spray paint black to make them acceptable to my father the Bishop, and in doing something I didn’t even know the proper name for (we called it jogging).

And it helped me when I left my culture behind and sought my way through a labyrinth of changes in a strange new world. It helped me beat back depression, leave an eating disorder in my past, learn to respect and love my body, and gain confidence and poise. It helped me learn strength and resilience when I struggled through the dark time of running injury. Running helped. 

Within a week or two of the initial conversation, I took my friend to his first running store experience. He saw the rows of shoes and the racks of tech gear. He had his gait analyzed.  He put on about 7 different pairs of shoes before choosing well (Altra Torins), trying them out on the small track in the store.

Then I ran his first 2 miles as a runner with him, just as the winter sun was sinking low and we finished in the shades of dusk. He takes to it comfortably; a relaxed, natural stride. The background in sports shows up and will be a benefit. 8:03 pace for the run and he’s not even gasping. And he likes it. He might run a race sometime. He wants to try trails next summer. He talks about “needing a run” when he’s up against a particular stressful, conflict-filled day. He’s a runner.

I made up a beginner’s training plan and emailed it to him, happy to have added another convert to the shared fellowship of finding peace on the open road and secluded trail.

Running helps, for sure.

 

 

MaineJoe

RR Millinocket

Last week was the third annual Millinocket Marathon and Half and it was festive as ever. The race has gone from 50 runners, to 550, to more than 1,000 this year. The event was created to benefit a community hit hard by a mill closing. It is a free race. The timers donate their time. The community comes out in droves to support the race. The library and the economic development group have taken in thousands of dollars in donations over the last three years. Hotels are full. A would-be quiet December day in Northern Maine is filled with activity and runners contributing to the local businesses.

The race is about an hour north of where I live in Maine. My wife and son were nice enough to make the day out of it with me. A runner friend joined us for the road trip. We were up at 6 for the trip, after my wife and I had attended a fundraising event, where she is a board member. Probably not the best rest plan to be standing around... and a little bit of dancing, the night before the run.

The goal was to be there at 8. The volunteers are great but with the increase in runners, I expected bib pickup to be a little time consuming. Our timing was good and we had bibs in minutes! The volunteers were friendly and efficient. Registration was at the craft fair. We bought a t-shirt and a calendar raffle and some other things, contributing to the cause. So we had plenty of time before the race, and while it was "cold" at 29 degrees, with no wind, it was balmy compared to last year's wind chill. We still didn't want to spend too much time outside, so we drove the course. We took a few pre-race photos, including Mt. Katahdin.

We returned to the start and layered up for the race. There were a number of festive costumes among the runners, including an very awkward moose costume with an extra pair of legs and large antlers. I decided that I needed to make sure I was started ahead of him. The marathon started at 10 and half at 10:10. We were in the half. I lined up in the middle of the pack. The starting line featured two loaded logging trucks.

The starting cannon went off and I quickly regretted starting so far back. I hit the first mile marker at 7:35. Impossibly fast for the number of people I was weaving by. There were lots of people on the side of the road cheering us on as we ran into the Maine woods. A little while after passing the marker, my watch beeped, at 8:43 for the first mile. I guess the marker wasn't in the right place. It was relief because I hadn't wanted to start that fast, but it provided more evidence of starting too far back. Someday I'll figure that out. Although, it never ceases to amaze me the number of folks going a different pace at the starting line.

The poor volunteer by herself after the first mile marker couldn't pour water fast enough. I ran by without stopping, then got drinks at later stops. One station was providing fireballs. I passed. I picked up a cup at one stop that was empty. Went back for a second one. One station had mini bottled water. That was a nice touch. The course started in town, then became a dirt road, the "Golden Road" that drives toward Mt. Katahdin. We took a right onto another dirt road around mile 6, then headed back into town on a rolling paved road.

On that paved road, I continued to pass some runners, although I couldn't tell if they were marathoners or half runners. And some passed me. I came along a younger runner who was cold but I had already given up my gloves and couldn't help him. I had stopped to try and help but was useless. My wife and son had taken my gear and I couldn't find them at the moment.

In the final couple miles, a couple of runners, appearing to be in my age group passed me. In one case it was because I was eating a cookie. Last year in the final mile, I had come along a nice lady handing out cookies to the runners. I didn't take one. You can't eat cookies in a race! But I regretted it ever since. This time I took a sugar cookie with red icing and sprinkles. My wife took a picture of me showing her the cookie. If I had to do that over again, I would have gone for the chocolate chip or molasses, and put in my pocket for later. After a couple bites of the frosted cookie I was breathing too heavy and covered in frosting. I had to dump the cookie for the final stretch. Disappointing but more fulfilling than last year.

I ran pretty good up Main Street. I knew I was 1:42 something last year, and could see I was around the same time. As I crossed the finish it appeared that I was better, 1:41. When I think about all the weaving and stopping for the cookie, and trying to help someone, I feel like I was better than a year ago. Then again, part of last year's race was spent breathing through a frozen face mask and running into a head wind! My running friend, in my age group, had beaten me by 10 minutes in his first half. He had done very well.

We gathered after the race and had a meal at a local restaurant, tipping generously of course!.

We hit a downtown shop and picked up a few more items. My wife and son, between the library and a bookstore had gathered 8-10 books. My son picked up some driving time on the way home as the 3-5 inches of snow predicted for the evening has started. Overall it was a great day. You can't help but feel warm on a cold winter day when you are doing something you love (run), with people you love (family), and helping out a community working hard to make you feel welcome.

Here is a link to the Facebook page with lots of stories about the race and next year's date. But be careful, because it might just draw you to Northern Maine next December. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1313318738729689/  

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Ocean_101

 

Back in 2016 when I trained for the Fresno Marathon in November, I was in the best shape ever and ready to go for sub3...the race came, the weather was perfect and the miles passed by until mile 21 when my hammy had enough for the day....on 2:55 pace, I booked my first DNF, oh well.

 

Fast forward, a 50 miler and a 3:02 training marathon later, I started training for the California International Marathon in August.  The training cycle was mixed. Besides moving from Seattle to altitude in Denver, I had some issues with left lower hammy in October. The hammy/knee eventually improved but I missed 2 of the so important MP runs and adjusting to the Denver altitude took about 5-6 weeks. My confidence was boosted when I ran a +20 miler with 15 MP miles 3 weeks before the race, followed by a brisk 14 miler a week later at the same pace as in Seattle with less effort. I tapered well but honestly had no clue what would happen. I mainly put my hopes on the altitude bonus and the fact that I certainly had the training volume.

 

I arrived in Sacramento on Friday afternoon, already on a carb high since my carb loading phase started that morning after a 5 day fat loading phase. I picked up my packet and consumed way too many of these delicious coffee latte cans they gave out at the expo. FWIW, I consumed about the equivalent of 9 espressos on Friday and 12 on Saturday... Later on Friday, I met for a late lunch with Kyan Matz.  I got some good sleep from Friday to Saturday and headed to the hamster wheel in the hotel before 6 am....I wasn’t the only or the first one in the gym. No wonder, CIM served as the US Marathon Championships this year and the elites were staying at the same place... I ran 3 miles and finished my workout at 6:11 pace, further giving me a confident boost; maybe this altitude bonus is for real.  Later that day, I met Sara, Dan and Donald.  As I waited for Dan and Donald to head out for a pizza dinner, I saw Ryan Hall in the lobby. It was kinda funny, while current athletes were stopped for pics, Hall was in the lobby for 30 minutes and nobody cared. Dan, Donald and I got pizza and headed back to the hotel lobby. Dan’s buddy Eric joined us. The guy was blazing fast and ended up winning the Masters category on Sunday in 2:17, punching his 3rd OTQ at age 40. Damn!

 

On Sunday, I got up at 3:30, had my bagel, gel and coffee before getting on the bus at 5:00. Everything was really well organized.  I started my race with a 59 year old from Canada.  The first 4 miles were strangely easy but I was running at 6:30 - 6:40, I decided to abandon my cautious racing plan to run 2:58-2:59 and just go big. The miles clicked away and I was on 2:53-2:55 pace, passing the half in 1:26 and change.  Mile 15 came around and I realized for the first time that sub3 is mine if sh$% didn’t hit the fan. I decided to bank time until mile 20-22 and continued to run on pace...As I approached mile 22, I got super nervous: Would my leg hold up or blow-up again out of the blue like last year?  Of course, I started to tire around mile 20 like all people do if you race and gun for a PR but I felt great and nothing hurt.  A quick calculation and I realized that I could run 8:00 pace and still come in below 3 hours....Instead of pushing, I took some pace off, still running at sub3 pace for these miles but 15-20 seconds slower than before.  The finish ended up more dramatic than expected, in the last curve, my left hipflexor cramped, a few seconds later I was across the finish in 2:55:07. I kneeled down to stretch my hipflexor and couldn’t get up...I tried but it wasn’t meant to be.  Two volunteers arrived plus a third with a wheelchair...:”I am not getting into this thing, just put me back on my feet.”  The two volunteers helped me to get up and I hobbled off while one volunteer ensured that I don’t hit the pavement in a few feet.. I got my Boston Cream Pie Cupcake from the Whole Foods stand and made my way back to the hotel.

 

The race, while not easy, is fast.  The field is usually deep, this year especially. I instantly fell in love with this race, of course the 5 minute PR helps but I really enjoyed the varied course, the supportive crowd and the great organization.  I will def. be back.

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RoyalDryness

So my last blog was setting up my attempt to complete the Runner’s World Holiday Streak, but with some of my own crazy rules to make it a little more rigorous and bit more fun.  The first step for me in that was to beat my previous run streak, which wasn’t even planned, but I think just worked out that way by continually rearranging runs and not bothering to take a rest day for almost 2 weeks.  It stood at 13 days, nothing to really be that impressed by, but seemed like an easy-ish, step 1 toward the whole Holiday season shebang.

So to have reached that, I need to run up to at least this past Tuesday.  Normally I run early…very early in morning, but due to having to be somewhere even further than my normal (long) commute, even earlier than I normally get to work, I thought an afternoon run on Tuesday would be better.  As you can probably guess by this point, it didn’t happen.  Over the weekend my son had some kind of stomach bug and by Tuesday morning I was slightly hopeful I had dodged it. 

I hadn’t. Poisoned_Emoji_Icon.png?11214052019865124406

Driving home I at times contemplated pulling over to take a nap or calling someone to pick me up I was so tired.  I made it home, used what little energy I had to make it to the bedroom and collapsed into bed.  Even in such a state, in the back of my mind was a day about a month ago.  I had a similar feeling of total exhaustion had hit me out of nowhere, collapsed into bed and woke up two hours later feeling just fine.  Maybe that could happen this time too?  Then I could shuffle my way through two, post-dinnertime miles and keep the streak alive. 

I didn’t.

No need to be graphic, you all have an imagination, but the next 12 hours were pretty horrible.  I know I slept a little during that time, but I don’t know how much, an hour, 20 minutes, 3 hours?  Who knows?  It was kind of a blur but I must have worked out in my fevered stupor because the muscles of my core were on fire the next morning.

The upside was by midmorning Wednesday I was out of the woods enough to sit in bed and binge watch an entire season of Stranger Things, eat a small bowl of plain noodles and drink some Gatorade.  By Thursday I was well enough to shuffle my way through a day at work, but not a run.  Friday, I thought about running but decided to give it one more day to let my systems settle down, and frankly I was still very tired. 

Then Saturday I ran.  I wasn’t sure how it would go, I still hadn’t eaten a whole lot, my stomach still felt a little touchy, and it was pretty cold.  But, like the old mental trick goes, tell yourself you just have to make it around the block and if it’s that bad, you can go home.  I made it around the neighborhood and thought well, I can definitely get 2 miles in, and at 2 miles I knew I could get to 3, and at 3 miles I decided to go to 4.  And at 4 I was still .1 miles from my house so I decided to keep going all the way to 4.1 miles, because after a stomach virus and 4 days off that was enough.

In the spirit of the season and because I didn't really choose to not run, I decided to finish what I started.  The streak is back on…because after all, it just for fun and I make the rules so as the judge and jury of my own streak I have allowed a dispensation for illness and consider the streak paused during that time but not officially broken.

DrWhiskers

I’m in the midst of training for my first marathon: RNR Arizona. My last bloop was almost a month ago (!) and I had just run 16 miles for the first time. Life and training have been quite busy since then so I figured I'd share a snapshot of some of the workouts in the past few weeks:

Week 15: 43 miles

5x1200s at 10K (8:50) pace on the track. I like running easy, I have grown to like tempo and longer intervals, but I still struggle with faster paced workouts. I usually run solo all the time but I’ve found that its very helpful to head to the track for the speed workouts…not just because it’s faster and easier to pace but because there are other people there! The UCSD track is super close to my work so it makes things pretty easy: drive to work at 530am, run to track, run at track, run back to work, shower and I’m at my desk by 7:30am. I am by far the slowest runner out there but I’ve come to terms with that.

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17 mile LR: this went as well as possible! I was tired and ready to be done but nothing hurt, I didn’t need to walk, and only some minor chafing. This took me exactly 3 hours at 10:35 pace.

Week 16: 37 miles

Cutback week which was good since we headed to Vegas for Thanksgiving. Our family lives 3000 miles away on the East Coast so with several days off, we wanted to go somewhere fun that wasn’t too far away. We chose to fly this time even though the drive doesn’t seem like it’s too far (5ish hours on a good day). But on a holiday weekend, the drive quickly tests the strength of your marriage.

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Coach had a 2 hour long run on the schedule. Knowing that GPS would be sporadic, I appreciated a time vs mileage requirement. DH was a little worried about my safety running on the Strip but I agreed to only daylight running. We were staying at Planet Hollywood so basically the middle of the Strip. I left the hotel when the sun came up not sure how I’d get to 12-13 miles but ready for an adventure! I ended up running north to the Stratosphere then all the way south to the Luxor. And the people watching did not disappoint! I saw enough other runners and police presence to never feel too unsafe, except maybe around the Stratosphere. Not a good vibe there and I ran faster than planned.

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Saw people sleeping/passed out in all sorts of questionable areas, saw a pantsless “lady”, was offered cocaine, and tried to avoid multiple domestic disputes/assaults. On the positive, I felt like I ran around the globe, seeing the Statue of Libery, the Eiffel Tower, pyramids, Venetian canals, waterfalls and of course, Elvis. Garmin and Strava disagreed on the total mileage but it was 13 miles, +/- 0.4 miles. I also realized that I didn’t see a single dog, yay! The entire area is a giant cigarette cloud but at least you aren’t going to get bit by a dog or step in dog poop (although, I’m pretty sure I stepped around human poop in several areas). One of DS’s favorite parts of Vegas is that there are escalators everywhere to cross the main streets. While running, this wasn’t as annoying as I anticipated although it was tricky to avoid going into the casinos at some points. I ended up running 3 of the 4 mornings that we were there so quite the success.

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At the top of the High Roller (Ferris Wheel)

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Seeing a piece of my Pennsylvania heritage

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Taking a 4.5-year old to Vegas was actually pretty fun. We brought him when he was 18 months old and had religious nut jobs yelling at us about being terrible parents but none of that this time. Lots of interesting things to see everywhere we went. Our hotel room faced the Bellagio fountains so that kept him very entertained when we were in the room. I’d say the worst part, besides people smoking EVERYWHERE, was seeing people dressed up as some Disney character, but hey, this isn’t Disneyland. The destitute characters would remove their heads whenever they needed another cigarette, in full view of the crowds. DS seeing the homeless man inside the crappy Mickey costume sparked a lot of sad questions.

 

Week 17: 35 miles

2 x 2 mi at HMP: This scared me when I saw it on the schedule since I haven’t been running HMP at all but I killed it! 9:17/9:10/9:14/9:13 paces and I felt awesome.

18 mile LR: This was supposed to be 8 easy, 8 at MP, then 2 easy. Work was quite stressful this week due to a looming presentation to global bigwigs. Friday, all sorts of crap happened at work which led to me going home Friday night feeling sick to my stomach. I barely ate dinner and knew that 18 miles the next morning were going to suck. I stopped to walk at mile 2. No matter what music I put on, I couldn’t stop thinking about work nonsense and my HR would shoot super high. Crazy how much stress affects your health. Some people are able to use the stress/anger to fuel their run; I am not that person. I barely made it through the easy 8, stopping to walk every mile to try and get the HR to calm down. I ran 1 mile at MP and then decided this wasn’t happening so my new goal was to get time on my feet; basically walk/run as long as 18 miles running would have taken (about 3:10). I made it to 14.2 miles total, walking the entire last mile. Here is a benefit to having my Coach also be a colleague. She was going through the same stress disaster with her project at work so understood everything. No worries! One bad run, even though it was a LR and a workout wasn’t going to ruin everything. A few days later, after the presentation was over and some serious debriefing with my team, the stress is gone and running is going great again.

 

Week 18: 44 miles

8x800s in 4:20 (8:40 pace): All but the first one was 4:11-4:16 so this was a great workout for me. It’s the first time at the track that I didn’t at least think about skipping an interval and thought I could actually do more. Coach thought about giving me 10x800 but it’s really hard to get much more than 8 miles before work.

20 mile LR: After missing the MP miles the previous week, Coach was debating between giving me 20 easy or 17-18 with MP miles. She let me choose and since I have no time goals for the marathon, I felt getting the 20 miler was better. Plus I have a HM this coming Saturday where I plan to go for the PR—some tough work ahead. This run actually went really well! I was mentally over it around 16 miles but my body was fine. Tired but no issues. Fueling went great. Ended with 10:31 overall pace. All my long runs start with temps in the low 60’s (before 7am) but are approaching 80 degrees in full sun hours later when I’m done. I’m hoping this prepares me for whatever weather Phoenix will have in January. Plus, as you may have seen on the news, California has had super dry weather this past week. After some crazy fires broke out here on Thursday, I wondered if I’d even be able to do the 20 miler outside due to poor air quality but thankfully, I’m about 30 min from the worst fire and the air seemed ok. However, when humidity is like 7% and it’s 80 degrees, my mouth is constantly dry and even drinking every mile seems like not enough. Thank you Costco for selling Gatorade by the bushel!

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 I spent the afternoon being lazy and then had my work holiday party Saturday evening. 5 hours in mostly comfortable heels, a few too many drinks and being awake 3-4 hours later than normal did not lead to a easy recovery run the next morning. Oh, I still dragged myself out there but nothing was easy.  I would have pushed it to the afternoon but turned out DS had a birthday party to attend. And the birthday party? At an ice rink. So I finished off the weekend with some ice skating cross training and successfully did not hurt myself.

5 weeks to go!

doug in co

Thought I'd torn my calf muscle in August and stopped running to do rehab, prehab, stretching and strengthening, none of which had any effect by the end of October. A doctor friend at church mentioned he'd had endless calf muscle pulls and tears, all of which turned out to be caused by a back problem and the sciatic nerve malfunctioning. My sciatica has been going on since 2006 approximately, so I tend to just ignore that pain among the many others, which perhaps is not sensible.

Next step was to foam roll everything every day and lie upon the Sacro Wedgy, which is about as much fun as it sounds. On the plus side, it did give my wife a good laugh. The foam roller found a very painful spot under the piriformis muscle, hm how interesting. I'm working my way through the back catalog of old Bond movies on Amazon Prime, in 20-minute episodes, while doing my time on the Wedgy each evening.. Connery, Craig, Moore, Brosnan, Dalton is my ranking. The older Connery has an elder-statesman look but the young Connery is a rogue and a scamp. Barbara Bach, married to Ringo Starr for the last several decades, is my favorite Bond girl..

A month of this reduced the sciatica pains considerably though the calf still aches and twitches a bit, thought it time to essay a run. The first run was slow but alright, no sudden cramps or pains. The second run was on a cold day, upper 20s, which provoked a very unpleasant asthma attack. After the last major attack I'd been on steroids for a week and had some wonderful swim workouts Powered by Prednisone. It's amazing how much easier it is when able to breathe. Some tightness and wheezing had been creeping up in the last few weeks. Luckily this attack didn't end in the ER, was able to control it with assorted inhalers and pills. Tomorrow it is supposed to be in the 60s, hoping for an uneventful run/walk..

In other news the '98 minivan finally developed enough ailments that I wasn't prepared to fix it anymore. Hope this doesn't give my wife any ideas..
280 000 miles, two bad inner CV joints, one bad oxygen sensor on the rear manifold, and an overdue timing belt change - all that adds up to about $2000 in mechanic fees, or several months of weekends for me. Gave it away to IOCC and started looking around. My older boy was sad, he used to call the van the Green Hornet, I don't want to know what he and his friends got up to in it. They believed the van was haunted.. when Ian used to drive it to school, they'd all go to lunch driving in the van, apparently it was always warm in there even in the depths of Denver winter. At least once the van made the run from school to Voodoo Donuts downtown and back, forty miles of traffic in a lunch hour.. hm. It was a good old van.

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SIbbetson

I wrote an excessive amount of detail about this race (links at the end of this post), but here is a short-ish overview!

When I chose CIM, I selected it with the express purpose of trying for a 2:45:00 or faster marathonGod placed the dream of achieving an Olympic Trials Qualifying time on my heart, and after an almost painful amount of marathon research I decided that CIM would be my best chance after the qualifying window for the 2020 Trials opened this fall.  As race day grew closer, I felt like I was ready for a PR, but not for a 2:45.  2:46-2:47 felt more realistic, and I lamented on this quite a bit during my taper.  I ended up deciding to target 2:46:55, 6:22 pace.

As marathons always do, once the race began, it took on a personality of it's own.  Miles 1-10 were at an average of 6:22 pace - right where I wanted to be.  Then something clicked in my head, and for the first time I felt confident that I could run a 2:45:00 after all.  I typically hit a stride like this in the marathon, where I feel like I can conquer the world.  I start thinking with endorphins, and thoughts like "6:15 is way too fast for that many miles" are replaced with "6:15 seems doable for the rest of the race".  Around mile 10, I could hear my husband's advice in my head:  "You should try for the 2:45; if you lose it at the end, you lose it at the end...but you'll never get it without trying."  I could hear my coach saying, "6:22 is a good starting pace, but don't be afraid to drop the pace as the race progresses."  I prayed, "God, please make us strong and brave" ("us" being my friends Jamie, Kris, and I -- full story about the miles I spent with each of them during this race to come).  I suddenly believed that I could run the remaining 16 miles of the race at 6:15 pace, which I knew would get me in at just under 2:45.

From miles 10-22.5ish I did just that.  Each mile that passed I was hitting right around 6:15 pace, with some variation for elevation, and each time I passed a mile marker I just knew I could run the remaining distance at 6:15 pace.  A similar thing happened to me at BMO Mesa-Phoenix, when I just knew I had the rest of the race in me at 6:30 pace or better (on the other hand, at Dallas I knew I was going to come up a few miles short).  Mile 18 - yep, I've got 8 more miles of 6:15s in me.  Mile 19 - yes, I can do 7 more miles of this.  Doubt crept in here and there, and I would question if I had enough left, but I just kept running the mile I was in and praying to be brave. When I hit mile 20 in 2:06:10, I believed I could run the final 10K in 38:50, or 6:15 pace.  For the first time in this entire training cycle, I fully believed I was ready for a 2:45.  I thought of all of the fast finish runs I'd done; I was ready to close with a solid 10K.

Then around mile 22.5, my neck started spasming.  My legs were still intact, so initially I didn't worry, but tried to tilt it forward and to the sides for some relief.  It quickly worsened, and I also became dizzy.  I knew it was the benign paroxsymal positional vertigo (BPPV) I'd experienced during my taper, and I knew it was trying to steal my 2:45!  I wasn't going to let it take my dream without a fight, but I quickly felt like I was losing the battle.  I felt like a puppet, my head pulled back on a string.  I couldn't keep my head forward and I couldn't see the road.  My peripheral vision was off and I almost felt like I was running into the unknown. I tried to focus on a girl's head in front of me, and kept telling myself "just follow her in, just get in".  I didn't see my final 3 mile splits because I couldn't look at my watch, but they weren't nearly good enough for the 2:45 (6:40, 6:46, 7:01 -- I did see mile 23 which was 6:26 for the start of my slow-down).  I wasn't sure I was going to make it in at all, so my disappointment with slowing down was replaced with thankfulness to finish.  Something is going to give at the end of a marathon, and this was just it for me in this one.

I crossed the finish line in 2:47:14, a PR by over 2 minutes on a course that was more difficult than where I ran my 2:49 (you can't earn an OTQ at Phoenix due to the amount of net downhill).  I was overcome by so many sensations at once:  excruciating pain as I fell to the ground in the finish chute, joy for the PR and to have made it to the finish, and disappointment that after finally feeling like I could run a 2:45 for about 12.5 miles, I was unable to even come close.  I finished 65th female in the USATF National Marathon Championships, after not being seeded in the top 100 going in.

Could I have run faster had I stayed at 6:20-6:22 pace instead of dropping to 6:15?  Most likely; pretty much anytime you slow down at the end of a marathon you're well-trained for it's because you didn't pace within your capacity earlier on, and it's always better to negative split.  I may have gotten in at 2:46:30ish, but I still wouldn't have gotten the standard.  As much as I hate not having a strong finish, I am glad I took the risk.  A marathon PR is always a risk, and this Big Time Goal was a Big Gamble for me.

One thing that's changed in addition to my bright shiny new PR is that, for the first time, I feel confident I can run a 2:45.  It's going to take everything going right (no BPPV!), but now I know I have it in me. Phoenix was a turning point because I knew I had to try (who is going to run a 2:49 and not try?); CIM was the point that I knew I could do it (who is going to be content with a 2:47 when that 2:45 is right there?!).  Just like after my 2:49 at Phoenix, even if I never run a faster marathon, I am really proud that I ran a 2:47.  I am thankful God gave me the strength to run it and put people in my life to help me get there.  It wasn't that long ago that 6:22.7 pace was my 10K pace, and as Jon told me, I ran 19:49 5Ks for 26.2 miles straight!

I have over 2 years to find 134 more seconds.  Trying is always going to be intimidating, because it's freakin' 6:17 pace for 26.2 miles!  But as at CIM, God will make me brave enough to try.

Official results aren't yet posted, presumably since it was the national marathon championships, but my unofficial results are here.  This link also has a few race videos and links to several super ridiculous-looking race photos (we will just say that the crazy posture I ran the final few miles in is illustrated well, and I now can't look at them without laughing!).

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More from CIM:

gdionelli

Quick update. I'm still in injury limbo. I've worn a walking boot for over a month now to relieve pressure on my sesamoid bones. A week and a half ago the doc checked me out and said he's turning me over to a different podiatrist who specializes in orthotics. The idea is that I'll be fitted with a pad to offload that area in my shoe - not a complete orthotic. He said to wear the boot another 10-14 days, "or until you get your insert." That was before I found out I couldn't even get an appointment with the new doctor for a month. It's been 10 days, and I'm gradually wearing the boot less and less, because it's still two and a half weeks till my appointment to get the pad, and I can't stand this thing any longer!

I have decided that I'm going to try wider shoes - my foot can't tolerate some of my shoes that have narrower toe boxes. 

Haven't spent much time around this joint lately, although I have cheered on the latest Loopster exploits from afar.

 So there's all the news that's fit to print. There may have been some censoring before I posted this - expletives deleted, and the like.

 

ocrunnergirl

Apparently it’s snowing in NJ. Ha! Don’t care! I’m in Florida waiting for the rest of my Spartan team mates to descend.

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Topping off my carbs like any good runner.

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I ran for coffee this morning. Dave my Pain in the Ass hamstring is not altogether happy. (Fair is fair, Dave. Lol)

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We are fun running the Spartan Beast tomorrow. 13-15 miles of obstacles so we can complete our Trifecta.

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The house I’m at is one we own with friends in Kissimmee, FL.  I’ve pretty much decided it would be perfect for a Loopfest. It has 4 bedrooms with sleeping for at least 10 Loopsters. Anyone Loopfest Orlando? 

I’m not much of a Disney Race fan but if we could find a race next fall or winter I could block the house for our dates. Let’s get working on this!

I had a bit of a sign-up-a-thon the other morning. Apparently I feel my hamstring is ready? But perhaps my brain is just being optimistic.

3/25 Philly Love Run

4/22 Drake Relay 1/2 Marathon (Iowa)

5/20 Run for the Red Half (Poconos, PA)

If anyone wasn’t to join me for any of those let me know. For Run for the Red I own a condo in the Poconos 10 minutes from the start. Great net downhill. If you’re looking for a great BQ course or NYCMQ course this is a good one.

My Rehoboth pictures turned out interesting. Ha! The finish line ones show how happy I was to be able to run 13.1!

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Can you tell I’m thinking about my leg every.single.minute??

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Did I just run 13.1??

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Now if I could just do some speed work I’d be positively giddy!

AROO! #sorrynotsorry in Spartan mode!

BANGLE

Rehoboth RR

So I tell people I traveled all the way across the country to run a race, and when they ask why, it never seems to make a whole lot of sense. What compels me to fly for six hours across two flights, then get in a van for a three hour tour of beautiful Delaware? I can race 13 miles anywhere. Well, it really comes down to the people. I had some magical memories of this frigid beach town from 2013 and 2015. And when you catch a genie in a bottle, you tend to go back looking for it.

2017 Rehoboth had the same agenda as usual. Show up late, share a huge awesome rented house with tons of favorite loopsters, eat, drink and be merry and throw a race in there too. Then party until they kick us out of multiple venues.

I started it off with a red-eye flight, which meant I only slept 1-2 hours Thursday night, and zombied my way through Friday before the Saturday morning race time. The awesome Caitlin picked me up and took care of me as we awaited the others for the party van ride. We arrived to the Rehoboth house about 5PM, where Chris took care of our nutritional needs with some fabulous lasagna. I filled up with a second piece and lots of bread not too long before bedtime. I figured carbo-loading, right? But I needed to catch up on sleep too, so I was soon sacked out, and hardly moved until 6:06AM (that's 3:06 Pacific) when Mr. Bacon woke me, since, you know the race starts at 7...

Everybody else was well into their pre-race routine. I managed to get dressed and get out the door about 6:35. But no breakfast. No coffee! And no pooping!! (OK, I tried, but that system had not opened for business yet). So I figured dinner would have to be enough fuel to get me through this one. Walked down to the start. Dumped a layer of clothes and did a half mile jog to warm up a bit, and then settled in to the start with Carissa and Abby who appeared to have goals similar to mine.

Goals. Well originally I hoped to beat my 2015 time of 1:37:27. Then I got sick, twice, in the last three weeks and didn't feel the need to go kill myself since I didn't feel 100%. On the other hand, I wasn't sick anymore, my legs were well rested, and the weather was PERFECT. On the other hand, I was sleep-deprived, and I really just came out here for the people...

Basically I decided to start conservative and just see how I felt and go with it. First mile close to 8:00, hopefully faster after that. If I felt good I hoped to eventually run 7:30's. Try to break 1:40, which would be three minutes faster than Florida a few weeks ago. That meant a 7:37 pace average.

The start was smooth and pace was about 8:11 at first check after about 1/4 mile. Carissa was slipping ahead but I didn't feel I could go with her so I let her go and stayed with Abby. Later in mile one I felt a little more mojified and was picking it up a bit and passing people and saw Carissa wasn't too far ahead. So I threw a mental lasso around her and gradually reeled her in. Pace was 8:05 when I saw her, but once I caught her and hit mile 1 it had dropped to 7:49. Oh, OK then.

Of course that meant we were actually moving faster than that. I stayed with C for the next 2+ miles until the marathoners peeled off. We were right behind a guy with "Kick ARS" on his shirt and his friend who matched our pace, so we settled in behind them while passing everyone else. Two and three were 7:36 and 7:35. It felt a little too fast, but not really. It felt good. So much for not racing. This was a good race effort for me, but felt manageable. Either I would hurt later, or maybe it would be a good day.

Plus it was fun to run side by side with the legendary Quadracool. We've been buddies for years now, but mostly from afar, so it was great to share some race time, even though we hardly talked the whole time. I absorbed some of her mojo and then she peeled off to do her thing, and I peeled off to do mine.

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Which meant race harder. The "Kick ARS" guy was in the halfso I followed him for a while, but I was feeling good and slowly moved by. I saw the 1:40 pace group up ahead about 100 yards, and decided I WOULD be passing them. It was just a matter of when. Once that was in my head I caught up pretty fast. Mile 4 was 7:26 and mile 5 was 7:25. I was picking off people one by one. Once I caught the 1:40 group of about 15 people I wanted to just stay with them for a while. Race smart and all... But I was comfortable at that 7:25 pace and to stay in rhythm meant that I had to slowly move on by. Which gave me even more adrenaline to stay ahead of them...Mile six was 7:19.

Gradually I stopped hearing them behind me and was on my own. But there are always people to chase. One by one I targeted prey and reeled them in. But there was one girl with MildSauce hair who stubbornly stayed about 50 yards ahead of me. I chased her for about 8 miles and never caught her. Never got to thank her for the pull. At one point I thought, maybe that IS Mild Sauce! Sneaking out to Delaware to surprise us! But it wasn't. Too bad.

About mile 6, dinner decided to speak up and say hello. That 3 pounds of pasta and bread and cheese was done percolating and ready to be expunged. I was concerned. No way was I stopping unless I absolutely had to. There were potties on the course, so plenty of opportunity, but, no. I was running sub 1:40 pace, and no renegade poop was going to ruin that! But it quickly became #1 in my thoughts. (Or #2!) I was still passing people but I was focusing on my colon too, and it may have tweaked my stride a bit. Plus I was getting tired. Mile 7 slipped to 7:26 (fine) but mile 8 was 7:37 (hmmm).

Now we were on the trail in the forest and it got much colder, so I internally whined about that too. And the lump was still there. The sphincter was still not involved in the conversation, but I felt like I had a three pound weight inserted in my belly. I really wanted it gone, and would have stopped if it were a training run, but this is a race, dammit! I got a little adrenaline in mile 9, aiming for the turnaround and seeing the faster runners coming back (including loopster Ken who rocked it!). Nine was 7:26 and I was happy to be back under 7:30, but I was tiring now, and I saw the 1:40 pacer was still not far behind me! I definitely wanted to stay ahead of him.

Mile ten was heading back on the cold trail and was the worst mile. My motivation was flagging and my pep was gone. Someone passed me. And then another one. I was cold and uncomfortable and not happy.

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But I persisted. Miles ten and eleven were both 7:38. I was hanging on but it wasn't easy or fun any more. But at least Mr. Hankey was staying quiet. Mild Sauce's doppelganger was still in sight so I guess she was slowing too. I just wanted to get off of this trail and back in the warm sun and hard asphalt.

Once that happened, life was better. I still had some life in my legs after all. At this point I knew I had sub 1:40 if I hung on, and a shot at sub 1:39 with a decent finish. Mile 12 was 7:36, but with only a mile to go I allowed myself to step it up a bit. Reaching a toilet was motivating me to go faster. I started passing people again. It wasn't PR effort, but it felt good to run hard and still finish with a little in the tank. (or a lot, if you get my drift).

Mile 13 was 7:21 and a 6:44 pace for the last block got me in at 1:38:56.

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and I headed straight for the pooper.

Sweet, sweet relief.

And then it was all fun and games for a day and a half.

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Had a lot of fun with a bunch of great people. Totally worth it.

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NCAthlete

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One thing I forgot to mention about the race: I was wearing my Team RWB shirt and every couple miles, I would hear someone yell, "Eagles!" or "RWB!" It really gave me a nice boost and was great to hear someone shout out at me. Team RWB is really huge and has good representation all over the country. I'm not as active with them as I'd like to be, but hope to do more things with the Denver Chapter in the near future.

I haven't ran since the half marathon on Saturday, but I've been enjoying my recovery. I had planned to run last night but having a beer felt more important. It was a good choice. I'm still riding the high of my finish, and don't want it to wear off.

Sunday and Monday, my adductor area was quite sore but it feels pretty good now. I didn't feel it at all during the race, which was another GREAT thing. Most of my soreness was in my calves which leads me to believe I wasn't heel striking all that much!

The long toe, beside my big toe on my right foot, was pretty sore also. I was thinking that I might lose the toenail but i'm still waiting on that. It's not as sore now, but that doesn't mean it won't fall off. That would be the second time I've lost that nail.

Tuesday, I was already feeling pretty darn good! Four days later, I wasn't sore at all. Today, I feel great! I'm ready to get back at it and will be going to my run club tonight. It is super cold out and has the chance of snowing, but I'll have others to motivate me to get out there.

And now the race photos...

I like the first one because it has John in it!! I was hoping they'd get one of us finishing together! I had no extra energy for a jointed Bangle pump, unfortunately.

All of the pics show the pain train face...yikes

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Thanks for reading,

Chris

Carissa Liebowitz

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Sunday - Post Race

 

The 4:00 sun is low and dark orange. It hovers in the sky, stretching the day a little further as I travel west. Mumford & Sons hums through the speakers. I've traveled this route 4 times before, but this was the first time alone, the first time at dusk. Christmas lights clicked on over front porches, in windows, wrapped haphazardly around trees. They are humble displays, often a mixture of lights and rarely with any semblance of theme.

 

I am content. My heart is full and my body aches. The solace gives me time to thumb through my memory file, smiling as I stumble upon the moments that will stay in my heart. For what good are our lives without the joy of things to reminisce about. Some will remain just mine, selfishly locked inside. But other memories will be retold, embellished with the best tidbits as time wanes.

 

Wednesday - Pre Race

 

I stepped out of the car and put my key in the seat while I fumbled with my hat and headlamp. Then I shut the door. With my key still in the car.

 

Shit.

 

Waving down a stranger in the parking lot to borrow his phone, I managed to get a hold of Adam who thankfully answers weird numbers. He agreed to rescue me in about 35 minutes - plenty of time to run 4 miles. I took off into the night and dropped right into a comfortable sub-8 pace. I pushed a little harder in the second mile, but everything felt good. At the 2ish mile marker, I turned around to head back. About 20 strides in, my hamstring seized quickly, painfully. I stopped dead in my tracks. Gingerly, I hobbled forward with the first fear that Adam would be worried waiting for me. The second fear that I was not going to be running 26.2 miles Saturday.

 

Shit.

 

I hobbled along for a few steps and then tried to run on it very slowly. It was not acute pain like when it happened, but it was definitely sore. My stubbornness overtook any sensibility and I pushed through the last 2 miles back to the car trying to ignore that it was tight.

 

Megan painted my nails that evening while I compressed the hamstring. I tried to become distracted with our conversation, but I was fretting inside. I was hoping that I would wake up and the pain would disappear.

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Thursday

 

I compressed, iced, elevated all day. The only steps I took were to and from the freezer at work. It was tight and noticeably painful.

 

By the time I got home, the pain seemed to have subsided a bit, but I was far from 100%.

 

Shit.

 

Friday

 

I arrived to Rehoboth first in our group and dropped my car at the house. My hamstring was still wrapped and though I really wanted to go walk along the beach, I decided to keep my walking to a minimum. Dogfish Head was super close to the house so I decided to belly up to the bar for liquid carbs and pizza.

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I had just about finished my lunch when Ken came and joined me. We caught up and then went to the house where we met up with Gwen & Bacon. At some point, I removed the wrap and my leg actually felt a little better. Soon it was time for packet pickup, a return to Dogfish Head, and then back to house where more Loopsters joined us.

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Chris went to task as soon as she got there making lasagnas for 15 people. We ate family-style, filling our plates and topping off our calorie stores. As the night began to wind down, people stepped away to lay out their race clothes and began getting ready for bed.

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Angie, Chris, and I were sharing a king-sized bed. At first, I was concerned about space, but as we climbed in bed, there was actually a ton of room. I was sleeping in the middle and was pretty comfortable in terms of space. But it was too quiet, my hormones/travel/lack of sleep sent my body temperature rising, and I had to pee twice in the night. So I slept like garbage.

 

Saturday

 

By the time I heard people rumbling around after 5 a.m., I decided to get up. The hammy whimpered only a smidge. Maybe I could still run 26.2. I popped a couple of ibuprofen between my bagel and Snickers bar.

 

Bangle and I started walking to the start together. Soon, everyone would join us on the sidewalk for a quick selfie. Bangle, Abby, and I lined up next to each other in the start corral.

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While I felt stiff from the cold and lack of movement over the past couple of days, I didn't feel the hamstring barking. I didn't dare look at my watch as I wove through the crowd down 1st Street. Bangle and I jockeyed back and forth until we finally came shoulder just shoulder.

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We made the now familiar turns through town and begin to head north as the sun rose. Running shoulder to shoulder with Bangle was perfect. We helped each other keep the pace honest. I yelled at Ken as he went flying by in the opposite direction and then bid adieu to Bangle as the halfmarathon split from the full.

 

The course is now on one of the trail sections and I suddenly spot the 3:25 pacer. A group is packed in tight behind him and I methodically inch my way to latch onto the group. For the next few miles, I let him do the work of pacing and while I don't feel great, nothing is inherently wrong either. I shed my gloves and pull down my arm warmers as the temperature begins to rise.

 

Around mile 8, I have a 10 minute stretch where I feel really, really good. I am thinking that while I am far from PR territory, I can definitely still hold on to the pace rather comfortably. I begin to look for bacon, Randy, and Jay as I head down the highway to the turnaround point. I see each of them and wave manically from the other side.

 

We reach the turnaround point and I eye the cups of Dairy Queen with remorse.

 

I followed the pace group down the highway, but the group begins to gain space on me. I keep them within about 20 strides, but I am hanging on to the back of the pack. Every now and then, I feel a small Surge and try to force myself to Rally.

 

It gets hard. I back off my pace and try to get comfortable. As I get close to the 13.1 mark, I start to calculate what I'd need to still BQ, what I'd still need to do to actually go to Boston. Somewhere in the back of my head, I knew I had nine months still to qualify, but I also knew that I wouldn't feel satisfied leaving a 1:41 halfmarathon split on the table.

 

The pace group slowly crept away until I no longer had them in my sight and my splits slowly crept into the low-to-mid 8s. I was experiencing bonking symptoms and I was just over halfway done with the race. I felt wrecked.

 

I actually stopped and walked for about 30 seconds, fully berating myself. The hamstring was FINE! It was everything else that hurt.

 

I started back into a shuffle and tried to latch on to anyone that was near me. At this point, some Runners had fallen into what I was experiencing, but others came by looking strong and fresh. I tried to keep up with those people as best as possible.

 

Passing on the opposite side of the course, I could see half marathoners on their way to the finish. I started trying to look for friends in the crowd and saw Melissa and Sara as they finished their final mile. Once I got on to the second Trail portion, I was excited to start to see the fastest marathoners come flying by on the other side.

 

Something clicked about a half-mile into the trail portion and all of a sudden, I started to feel good again. Though when I look back on my splits, the pace only dropped by about 10 seconds, at least it was not complete drudgery like it had been for the previous 10 miles. Rob and I waved at each other, followed by bacon and then J.

 

A girl and I had been switching back and forth when she suddenly stopped to walk about 10 steps ahead of me. As I came by I whacked her on the shoulder rather hard with my hand and told her, come on girl, you got this! Half expecting her to be shooting me the bird, I was happily surprised when she came running back and held on next to my shoulder for the next mile or so.

 

I kept my eyes out, looking for Randy on the opposite side. Being a bit taller and wearing an orange headband, I knew he would be pretty easy to spot. My heart fell when I saw him going the same direction as me about a quarter mile ahead near the mile 22. As I reached him, I asked if he had any 9 minute miles left in him to run into the finish with me. The good news is that he smiled as I said that, the bad news is that he declined to follow.

 

There was sense of relief at the turn around. All I had to do was make it to the finish. I remember thinking I would allow myself to look at my watch just passed the mile 23 mark, hoping that it would show 3:10 or less. If that were the case, I knew I could run 3.2 miles in 25 minutes.

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I kept looking for Caitlin, Angie, and Dave as I made my way down the trail, but somehow missed all three of them. Angie would later tell me that I looked as though I was deep in the pain cave. At that point, it was more just end of marathon pain as I new I was headed to the finish with a respectable time. Far from my best, but still good enough to qualify for Boston.

 

Coming into the last mile, I managed to pass a few people, hovering behind them for a few strides before I made my move. On to 1st Street, over the grated bridge, and into the roundabout, I felt ready to push to the finish. A group of Loopsters who had finished their half marathons were waiting on the right side of the road. I came by with high fives for all and trucked it down the street to make the final right turn.

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As I would later say, my finish photo shows such joy because I was finished with the pain. Humbled and finished. 3:27:48

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With the stupid running part over, I was now free to enjoy the rest of the weekend. There was a lot of beer, ridiculous dancing, terrible singing, and friendships that were made stronger. There was a trip to Dogfish Head between trips to the tent, a balloon dash, sidewalkies, fancy beer in fancy glasses, mango salsa that took me an hour to make, girly shots, arcade basketball, shutting down all the bars, Bulls on Parade, long walks on the boardwalk, and definitely not enough sleep.

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Reflective, I know the things that were in and out of my control that day. I can control the lack of long road runs, the lack of speed work, and marathon specific training. I can get better sleep 2 nights before the race and the night before. I can front load my nutrition.

 

Later, I saw my hormone- induced spike in resting heart rate - a jump of 10 bpm in 1 day a and probably the worst cramping I've experienced in 5 years. Normally I'm not too affected by this and have run races without noticing, but this was one of those weird anomalies. Not a huge factor, but one to consider.

 

I am not proud of my time, but rather my ability to find the strength to push forward. Ultras have taught me to never worry about the moment I'm in. Top of the world or bottom of the barrel, it will change. So while I was miserable and hating every step at mile 15, it was indeed possible to find another gear.

 

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Dave

 

I think Quadracool’s face was worth the trip. I strolled into Dogfish Head behind Mr. Bacon late Friday afternoon, obviously hoping for a reaction. I love the Loopsters. I love surprises. HotPinkSneakers led the charge on this weekend in Rehoboth Beach, so I had to let her in on it. She was awesome at keeping first my tentative plan, then my actual attendance, a deeply held secret.

Bacon was at the house when I rolled in at 4:30 talking to Mrs. Dave about the latest T-Rex crisis, so all we could do was shake hands and smile. It’s been a year since our last face to face at Philly. Bacon’s fast. It’s fun to be in the neighborhood when he races, neatly trimmed beard and incredibly photogenic face. He pretends to hate people like I do. One of us is serious about it.

Speaking of the house in Rehoboth, it was a sweet launching pad for a Loopster weekend. I think they’ve gotten a different one every year (can you believe this is my first time there?). Less than a half mile from the starting line and less than a quarter from the finish. Not to mention tons of room and a huge kitchen. Since it’s off season for this little beach town, the price for the dozen or so runners was amazingly affordable. Parking was a little scarce, but I was able to use the sushi place next door’s parking lot for a couple of days before they flagged me for not being a customer. By then there was room in the driveway, so no harm done.

This was the second time I’ve dropped in unexpectedly at a Loopfest. Five years ago I hemmed and hawed about going to Twin Cities, and by the time I decided for sure, it seemed like a fun idea to not let anyone know. The only trouble with that was everyone knew I was training and it was an easy guess. Plus, Loopsters are self-professed internet weirdos, and there was more than one who simply looked up Schultz on the TCM registry. I’m not the only Dave Schultz in Livonia, but the other one’s not a runner, so… Bangle asked me outright one day and since I’m not a liar and couldn’t think of a graceful way to sidestep the question, I told him, swearing him to secrecy. Race weekend he blabbed it to everyone he saw, and by the time I showed up Saturday afternoon there may have been 2-3 people who were actually surprised (I’m not bitter though).

This time was easier to keep things under wraps. Not quite as many of us are quite as active as we used to be. There was a smaller crowd going. I didn’t tell Bangle. Then there was the whole taking all of August off from running and not sure I’d even be in shape for a marathon by the end of the year.

I did drop a hint or two if anyone was paying attention. Ocrunnergirl and aschmid3 connected the dots and looked for me in the race registry. OCRG PM’d me and I asked her not to say anything. So, not a total victory for stealth, but pretty good.

By November, my comeback was on schedule. I had a couple of decent 16 milers and my other long runs were good. Speed work wasn’t up to Marshall standards, but I was finishing them and feeling pretty strong, so I paid the extra to get a late entry, found a cheap flight into BWI, a deal on a car for the weekend and had HPS sign me up for a bed in the Loopster house.

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It would have all been perfect if not for the hamstring going all wonky on me with a week and a half to go. I blame OCRG. In fact, I’ve named this hammy after her and took her with me every step of the 26.2 miles I ran in Delaware for my 18th marathon in 17 states, since I started this silly 50-50 quest in 2009. It was inspiring in a way, although mostly she was a royal pain halfway down from my butt all morning, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Have you noticed how hard it is, now that we’re all social media junkies, to travel without posting selfies and status updates about airports, rental cars, landmarks and restaurants? Until the surprise was fully sprung in Rehoboth, I had to go pretty dark, in case anyone was watching fb/Instagram (and of course they were) for SIX WHOLE HOURS! I’m pathetic.

As usual, I’d forgotten to check in to my Southwest flight 24 hours before so I ended up in Group C. The meant my carryon had to be checked. However, since I didn’t have to look for an overhead bin and I knew I wasn’t going to get a window or aisle seat, I grabbed the first one available - second row middle, between a young woman and a fit looking man of about 60 (or so I thought). Turned out, he was 69, has run 3-4 times as many marathons as me and is on the board of the Ann Arbor Track Club. I brought a book to read on the plane because I don’t like talking to strangers, but the hour flight literally flew by (see what I did there?) as we talked about marathons and other running subjects.

Thanks to BWI being a smaller, not so busy airport, it was only an extra five minutes at baggage to get it and it was on the way to the rental shuttle. I should also mention that it’s about half the price to fly into versus Reagan in DC. Props to Alamo, btw, for having the most amazingly fast counter I’ve ever seen at a car rental business. Walking out to the cars, I thought about a post I’d seen earlier in the day from QC about getting an upgrade in her rental. That’s happened to me and Mrs. Dave once. And now it’s happened to me again. When I reserved my car, I’d splurged on a mid-size since it was only $5 more for the weekend. The agent gave me this guy, just because.

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Turns out, this was the same guy who’d given QC her Cherokee upgrade. Winning.

I was early enough that I missed traffic getting out of town, and the 2-½ hour trip was actually 2-½ hours. Learned some amazing things about Alexander Hamilton on the way. One weird thing: I have my phone plugged in and sitting next to the infotainment screen in the Equinox and after about an hour it shut down, hot as heck and giving me the “must cool down first” error screen. I stuck it out the window for a minute to cool off, then set it in a different spot for the rest of the drive, which went by without incident.

Loopfests are so sweet. Getting to meet with old friends and getting to know new ones that you already sort of know because of the crazy internet thing. I got to add RunEatRalph to my list of Loopsters met. The more I meet and the less I travel the harder that is to do, so thanks for coming, McLuckie. Another newbie was Jay, a friend of QC’s. His price of admission is a bloop here, so stay tuned for that. No idea what his Loopster handle will be.

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With race morning coming on, things stayed chill for the evening. Mostly we were anxious for NCAthlete to get there, since she was bringing the fixings for what turned out to be a killer lasagna dinner. And the best thing was there was plenty of pasta for seconds. I eat too much. Don’t judge me.

I mentioned this last week, but Friday was December 1, which means that Baconator Season has officially started. There was no Baconator weather in Delaware over the weekend, but having the contest’s namesake in the house made up for that little detail. There’s only one Mr. Bacon.

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QC and running_eng had a contest for the most understated welcome.

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Aschmid3 and Clark were the last to arrive. Apparently  that’s a thing. With race morning looming, the rest of the evening was fairly low key and then people started heading off to bed. I was one of the last because I always get up at 5 and didn’t need an early night. Finished the book I was reading and drifted off in my top bunk, wondering what my stoopid hamstring was going to do between the start and finish.

There was no question of a finish - I’m just like that - but what sort of finish? My moderate training pointed to a reasonable 3:50-something and a 2019 60-64 BQ. I’d even thought of asking to draft off of HPS, since she’s the Queen of sub-4 now. In the end, I decided that she didn’t need to be worrying about my sorry old butt and it was even money that this would be a major bust, with lots of walking/limping for up to 6-7 hours. But, no doubt there would be a finish ... of some kind.

After breakfast I asked OCRG to use her mad KT taping skills on the hammy, which I have named Gwen, btw. I’ve no experience with this myself, so I assume her job was masterful and gave me the most I could possibly get out of it that day (spoiler: it wasn’t much). I think she was a little uncomfortable working on the back of my leg, especially when it came to attaching the tape at the upper end, so I appreciate her efforts even more. I wasn’t trying to be creepy, honest. And then there was a leisurely stroll down the block and around the corner to the starting line, stopping for a group photo, courtesy of RER’s freakishly long arms (pic shamelessly stolen from the Rehoboth Loopfest facebook page and used by almost everyone already).

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I made two trips to the bathroom before we left, but apparently the Gatorade I had with breakfast was way more than I needed, and had to make a dash to the POP lines. They moved pretty well, though and I made it to the start area, just ahead of the 4-hour pace group, in time for the start. I’ve stopped having pre-marathon jitters most of the time, and rolled over the mats, counted to three and hit Hal’s start button (at the finish I wait three seconds after crossing the line to turn it off as well - that way I don’t have the silly-looking pic of my grabbing my wrist at the finish that everyone does - fine, I’m weird).

And the Great Injured Hamstring Experiment began.

If everything went perfectly, my pacing strategy for the first six miles was 9:15, 9:00, 9:00,

9:00, 9:00, 9:00. Assuming that went well, I’d cut down to 8:45s for 7-20 and then see what happened after that. Felt the first little twinge about a half mile in. It wasn’t bad, so I concentrated on staying relaxed, on pace and keeping a smooth stride. It was a delicate balance. Rehoboth has all sorts of turns, which keeps the route interesting, but probably not the best course for Gwen and me at the time.

Did I mention I wore brand new shoes for this race? Heresy! I know, but hear me out. As I reached my taper, I noticed some serious wear in my 14th pair of Cumuluses. Naturally, I checked the mileage on them and discovered they were at nearly 400 miles - quite a few more than I normally get out of them (one of only two complaints I have about these shoes - the other is the delicacy of the upper than lets my occasional toe scraping actually tear a hole in it). Repairs have been known to happen for me to get a few more miles.

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I was going to keep them through the race because of what happened the week before San Francisco, and then last Monday I saw that Asics had a 30% pre-Christmas discount. A quick search showed that my beloved Cumulus 18s were on clearance for $70. Minus the 30%, I got two pair for under $100. How could I call myself a runner and pass that up? Then I rationalized that my foot issues for TSFM stemmed from the insoles, not the new shoes themselves and that if I switched out the new insoles with the Powerstep Pinnacles from the old ones, I’d be fine. Right? Right? Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I wore the shoes around the house on Wednesday and Thursday to and in Rehoboth. I felt pretty confident by that point, but still switched the insoles. And it worked. Zero issues with the new kicks.

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Back to the race. Mile 1 was right on time at 9:17. Still feeling a small knot at the hamstring, though. Not great, but it was something I could definitely deal with for a few hours. Maybe it would loosen up as the day went on, the sun came up and it got warmer. Mile 2 was 8:45, exactly like I planned. This would probably be OK.

Until it wasn’t.

2.18 miles (I checked). One step and - WHAM! - Gwen said she was done with this running garbage. Hopped a couple of steps and pulled over to the side of the road, letting the stream of runners pass by as I walked/hobbled/limped forward. I was going to finish after all. Visions of walking 24 miles through the day flashed through my head and I reassessed. Walking is SO SLOW! While the pain subsided, I tried a gingerly shuffle for a few steps, experimenting with my carriage, stride and landing, searching for a way to go faster than hiking speed. Things would seem semi-OK for a bit, and then another step would result in a flash of pain. After a few starts and stops through miles 3 and 4, I discovered that fully extending my leg was the trigger for the worst of it. By keeping my knee the tiniest bit bent, the hammy would stay calm enough for me to stay at a slow trot.

It was going to be a long morning, but I knew at that point that I’d finish not walking, and might even beat my PW of 5:16. At least the weather was nice. Perfect, in fact. Short sleeves with gloves that I’d be casting off sooner or later.

At 3 miles the half and full routes separated, and I made my first of many POP stops. This one was in a parking lot a little off the race route. I almost thought the two boxes weren’t for runners they were so far away. But I also figured that speed wasn’t my friend and a little detour was a small price to pay. Had to wait for a minute outside. There was more of that to come, too.

The good news was that I was moving at more than a walk. They weren’t the 9:00 miles I’d intended, but at about 11:00, I would surely finish in under 5 hours. With Gwen screaming at my with nearly every step, that would be a significant victory.

There was a little loop and then we were into Cape Henlopen State Park. Whenever I found myself focusing on the hammy and how many more long miles were ahead, I’d force myself to ease off the effort, look around and appreciate the beauty of where I was. Earth is a great planet, isn’t it?

Right before Mile 4 there’s a sharp left and then the course runs beside Gordon’s Pond. There was a guy beside the trail, not running. He looked like a runner but wasn’t wearing a bib. As I approached, I recognized - Bart Yasso! I’d missed the announcement of his schedule (not that I watch his schedule or anything) and had no idea he’d even be in the state, let alone at Rehoboth and certainly not 4 miles into the race, far from anywhere, all by himself. Since I was in no hurry, I stopped. He smiled and shook my hand. I mentioned briefly that I was hobbled but soldiering through, hamstring and all. He either remembered me from the two other times we’ve met (LoopPhest 2011 and NYCM 2013), or he’s really good at acting like he remembers the millions of runners he meets at races all over the country. So he wished me luck and I shuffled on down the trail. Bart Yasso. smh

The next POP was at almost Mile 7. Of course I stopped. Sadly, this stop only had one machine and three other people waiting already. Seven minutes I stood there. No hurry, right? Spent the time talking with my new best friends, including a quadracool lookalike who was five months pregnant, reminding me of tinkbot baking up a little bun of her own as we speak.

Those seven minutes actually were a good thing. I don’t recommend standing motionless for such a long time as a normal race tactic, but when I started again, Gwen had actually relaxed quite a bit, and I was able to move along, while not a normal speed or cadence, at a less stilted gait and at nearly ten minute miles. I was much more fatigued than I should have been, though. My altered stride was putting a lot of stress on the quad, the inside of my knee and on the other leg. Didn’t think it would kill me, but it wasn’t the most comfortable I’ve ever been, either. I determined to walk through all the water stops and just keep going.

8-12 were my best/fastest miles of the day, although I hated the course from 9-12, running along a straight section highway next to some subdivisions. I did skip a POP though, so that was another win of sorts. Except for the Dairy Queen after Mile 10. There had just been a water stop, but I still scooped up one of the sample cups of chocolate/vanilla swirl with sprinkles and jammed it into my mouth. I immediately wished I’d taken one with each hand. Imagine how good they would have been on a hot day. Yum.

About here was where my altered gait, and the extra effort it took to maintain momentum at the slower pace, really caught up to me. Mile 10 felt like Mile 23, and there was SO MUCH FARTHER TO GO.

Mile 12 is when Abby came calling. The Mile 12 POP is directly across the road from the Mile 8-½ POP. Both were occupied with three people ahead of me. The next one was two miles ahead. Even if I’d known that at the time, there was no way I was going two more miles without a stop. So I waited again, several more minutes, did my business and (finally!) began closing in on halfway.

13.1 at Rehoboth may be the most understated halfway point of any of my 18 marathons. The timing mat was there, and a couple of guys keeping an eye on it. Not much else. I passed over at about 2:35 and wished I was done instead of halfway. I’ve always appreciated the tenacity and determination of back of the pack runners, and this day added a few more degrees to the awesome meter for people who spend this long on a marathon course. Once again, I had to remind myself to step outside the pain and pay attention to the beauty around me. It helped, while I was going a mile at a time from there to the end.

Pass a mile, listen for the Prince’s beep, walk .05, hobble off on my so-called running for another mile.

I wanted to say my brain shut off for the next few miles, but it was all too engaged. There was a guy on the trail with his two sons and their bikes. I asked to borrow one. They declined. Mean.

The second half of a race like this is a leap-frogging affair between you and your walk/run mates, and the extra slow runners who just keep going. Every once in awhile the Galloway intervals will match up and you get to talk for a few minutes with a new best friend. There was a group of women I’d been playing that game with almost from Mile 3. They all had matching blue shirts with some writing on them I never did decipher except for a large “RUN”. Passed them for good between 16 and 17. That was when someone said the five hour pace group was just ahead. I couldn’t see them.

My mile/.05 routine was still working for me when I came back into town and saw some Loopsters at Mile 18. Gwen, John and someone else I can’t remember. That was a big boost going into the final eight, as was actually seeing the five hour pacer’s sign a hundred yards or so ahead of me. Maybe I’d still catch them. This has a short section where the last half mile of the race passes alongside in the opposite direction. The clock was about 3:30 and of course I remembered what it was like to be finished at that time already, knowing that this time I still had another hour and a half on my feet. I wished to die. Stopped at the POP (of course) at Grove Park. The bridge over the canal was weird. It’s all open grating. Just weird.

Then there was some doubling back and forth through town and some housing, then into the other out-and-back section inside the park. I saw HPS, on her way through the pain cave on her way to another sub-4 finish. I’m telling you, that girl is on fire. This trail cost me a few more minutes, stopping I think four times to remove pebbles from my shoes. I always have trouble with pea or smaller sized rocks getting in my shoes when I do trails and I was worried about this for several weeks. The trail was in good shape compared to other years I was told, but that didn’t keep the rocks out. Fortunately, I was able to catch them all early and fish them out while they were still reachable without taking off my shoes, which would have cost me even more time. At Mile 20 I started leap frogging with the five hour pacer. She had 4 runners left with her, and looked all fresh and bouncy. I hated her.

Mile 21 (23 on the way back) has a bunch of state flags over the trail. I recognized Michigan and gave a mental thumbs up. They had music there and a guy yelling out names and places. I had hoped this was the turnaround but it was just a tease with the real turnaround another mile ahead. But, hey, I was going to finish. For reals. And I was mostly passing people. A few would catch me back when I had my walk breaks, which I’d extended to .1 at each mile, but then I’d inch by them again later. Still averaging about 11 minutes per mile, too, and stoopid pacer woman wasn’t passing me anymore.

Another bonus was that I’d stopped needing to spend time at every single POP. Mile 18 was the last one I saw the inside of. Win.

No disrespect intended to my trail running friends, but my feet were overjoyed to find themselves on asphalt again at 24-½. Just one more walk break and I could check Delaware off my list. And the five hour pacer was still behind me. There was a short woman in the neighborhood that I hadn’t been able to shake. She was one of those slow and steady types that I’d pass only to have her overtake me when I walked my .1. I don’t want to say I was annoyed, but I was annoyed. Fine. I’m a bad person. She was there at the end, just a few yards in front of me, and I just could not pass her that last time. So I guess you could say she chicked me, although I think technically she has to come from behind to qualify, right?

Across the line, count three, stop Prince Henry. Five hours and six seconds. And I don’t know if I’ve ever been happier to reach the end of a race.

There was some kind of uber-long pine needle something that had attached itself to my shoe in the last 20 yards, so I leaned over to pull it off, impressing the guy who had my finisher’s medal with my flexibility and balance. I’d have rather had those other six seconds.

I grabbed a bottle of chocolate milk, chugged it down, then tossed it towards a garbage can. I missed badly, and looked over at a couple sitting at the curb, shaking my head. I wasn’t going to be picking up that empty bottle. The woman smiled and walked over to get it. Thank you, ma’am.

Ronswansonsstache was in the beer line when I went past the party tent. I said something unintelligible and shuffled back to the house for a shower. I knew the party would still be going when I was cleaned up. And I needed some cleaning up. That was more time on trails than I’ve had in I don’t know how long, and my shuffling gait threw up a lot of dirt and dust along the way.

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Those are my favorite race sox.

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Then, it was party time. Of course I’m famous for my party skills. I ate food. I drank some Sprite and some more chocolate milk. I took a couple of photos of Loopsters.

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I went out with HPS to see the last finisher come in. Mad props.

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Then I napped.

Dinner was at Grotto Pizza. RER and I almost put away one between us. When the real party got going, I stayed at the house, because T-Rex had a concert that was streaming at 9:30. So I won.

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I stayed up after that to watch Ohio State beat Wisconsin and greet most of the party crowd as they came back.

About 3 AM I was awoken by a noise (snoring), and ended up on one of the couches downstairs. It was fine. Sunday was pretty chill. A few went out for walks or short runs. I hobbled around the house a little, being a baby about my hamstring (and the rest of me), and taking more pics.

Aschmid3 and Bangle looking energetic.

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Running_eng relaxing after smoking the Rehoboth Half course.

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Quadracool being, you know, cool.

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I had another pic of OCRG, but she liked this one better.

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NCAthlete and her nearly perfect toes. Balloons pilfered from the race party tent (I had nothing to do with that).

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Slow_running (who wasn’t very slow, btw) being stationary.

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My flight out was later in the evening, but I needed to be stationary myself when T-Rex was ready to talk homework, so I left early for BWI and cooled my heels there for awhile. The good news was that quadracool was flying out at the gate next to me, so we had dinner. That let me come down a little easier from the high of the weekend’s Loopfest. Good times.

Now back to work and some healing. This hamstring is a thing, and so far it seems like I may need more than my usual two weeks off. Guess my jokes about not running this winter may not be so funny. We’ll see in a couple of weeks. Even today there’s still something wrong down there and the front of my thigh on that side is much more sore than normal after a marathon. I’d like to do a marathon in late spring, and Mrs. Dave and I are still talking about the pikermi in Surf City so she can see our Mission Viejo friends. NYCM is planned for November, but if spring doesn’t go I may do something earlier to BQ for 2019.

If I can keep from getting injured. Sigh! I may have to do some of that strength/cross training stuff everyone talks about all the time. Maybe it’s because I just don’t know what to do or how often or how much or anything about it. I know how to run.

slcathena

I have a confession to make.

I haven't run a good halfmarathon in over 2 years. Even my last Rehoboth wasn't great. Admittedly, it was faster than the 2015 iteration, but 2015 felt...stale. I ran walked from mile 6 on, I felt undertrained, I felt like I didn't have any stamina in me...

I feel like I'm getting ahead of myself. Again. Sorry about that, it seems to be a thing I just do when blooping.

There was a moment earlier this year when I was going to run the full marathon at Rehoboth. See, I was drinking one night and pissed off that I thought I hadn't gotten into Chicago (newsflash: I had) and I started drunkenly ranting in Loopville about it, and the verdict came back: Rehoboth! And then there was a time I realized I'd gotten into Chicago and I thought I might actually be able to run the fulls at both Chicago and Rehoboth (newsflash: I didn't) because the races were months away and I had seen some training plans that would allow me to do both...even though I'd never done that before.

As the summer wore on and my training kind of sucked, I audibled and decided that I'd run the full at Chicago and the half at Rehoboth. I regret literally nothing about this decision.

I initially expected very little from this race. It took me way longer to recover from Chicago than I thought it would, although I was cautiously optimistic about 2 good runs Thanksgiving week. I just didn't really think that a bad marathon training cycle, a bad marathon, bad runs since that race and 2 good runs a week before the next race longer than 5 miles was a formula for success. In retrospect I underestimated a few things, specifically how much tenacity I'd gained during my horrible, awful, no good, marathon training cycle and the mental strength I'd gained. It turns out both of those things matter a lot more than I thought they did.

As I packed the day before the race, I was pretty sure I had a 2:40 in me if everything was good. My goal was to beat the speedy full marathon runners and get to the after party in time to enjoy a lot of beer. 

I had a really early flight (6:54 departure from O'Hare, which is about 45 minutes from my apartment with no traffic) so I really needed to be up by about 3:45 to be sure I could get out of the house by 4:15 and get to the airport on time. I was worried enough about this that I mentioned it on Facebook, so like you do when you're worried about something, I stayed on the phone with an ex until 12:30 am just to keep things interesting. I woke up utterly shocked at 4:45 am having totally overslept my alarm and somehow managed to get 90% of my shit together, take a quick shower, and be sort of human as I raced downstairs, ordered an Uber and prayed that I wasn't going to miss my flight.

I did not miss my flight and was on my way to Detroit to catch my connection. Loop magic: 1 Reality: 1.

In Detroit reality decided to test me, so the handle that lets you pull your suitcase behind you in a fairly effortless fashion broke off my carry-on. I then carried my bag 29 gates to my connection. But when I got on that flight, it turned out I had a row to myself, and I decided that even though reality was really testing me loop magic was clearly in full effect. Loop magic: 2 Reality: 2.

ocrunnergirl

I almost didn’t go. My leg was a huge question mark. Why go if I’m only going to be able to run 6 miles??

But then Thanksgiving happened which went well until it didn’t.

And suddenly I couldn’t get to Rehoboth fast enough.

I readied the essentials:

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Put on my favorite new song!!

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(I also really love Do Re Mi if you’re wondering)

I took the land route all the way around the Delaware River to get to Rehoboth. 50 miles takes 4 hours but I guess if Bangle can come from California I shouldn’t complain 🤭.

I arrived at the house and cooled my jets until 2:00 (our official check in time.)

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It was a beautiful sunny 50* December day. 

I knew Carissa was in Rehoboth and that RunningEng should be close but alas I found myself alone.

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Soon people started filtering in. We hit the expo, Dogfish and then back to the house. Loopsters came by the van full.

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Chris baked us some great lasagna She went above and beyond- vegan, vegetarian, GF and meat and cheese. We are such a needy group! 

My room mates (Caitlin and Sara) were stressing about their flat girls. What to wear to race in?? Me? I left the 4 sets of running clothes I had brought in my bag. I wasn’t racing so I figured I’d go for whatever I felt like in the morning.

I tend to be a very laid back runner race morning. Jay (Carissa’s friend) was stressed that I was eating oatmeal 35 minutes before the race. John was threatening to pin my bib on me if I didn’t get it on by a certain time. Of course that just made me drag my feet more to see John really lose his calm with me! 😏 Love ya, John.

We walked over to the start and got a partial group picture.

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Some did warm up jogs while I stretched the bejeezus out of my hamstring. I said a little prayer that it would hold together and that for once I would be smart.

I had no idea if I’d be running 6 miles or 13 or if I’d finish in 2 hours or 2 and a half hours.

My loose goals were:

a) Don’t blow up my left leg

b) Make it to 10 miles

c) finish under 2:30

I found Bob and Vanessa in the crowd. It was great to see them. Vanessa is one of the very 1st Loopsters that I met.

The horn blew and we were off. The whole race I was taking stock of how my leg felt. I really didn’t worry about my pace. I followed the 4:10 pacer for a bit. I would tuck behind people and go at their speed until it felt too slow and then I went around.

I walked the water/Gatorade stops. I managed to high 5 Bangle and Sara, gave shout outs to John and Abby. 

My hamstring was letting me run. I made it to mile 9 before I felt any twinges. At that point I slowed for a bit before picking it back up.

I’m not really sure how this happened but I ran Rehoboth in 2:00:27 after only running 18ish miles a week for the past 6 weeks (and nothing but cross training for the months before that).

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The after party was just so much fun!! I loved every second of it!! So much dancing and off key singing (well, I was off key). I hope the link works.

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That night I got to experience the Purple Parrot and the Conch. 

The next day I woke up feeling fantastic. I slipped on my running stuff while my roommates snoozed. Bee bopped down the stairs and was shocked to see so many Loopsters awake. I tossed out an offer to go running with me. Some sneered, some yawned but Carissa’s friend said that he’d go.

We headed out and covered our one mile for streaking purposes.

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After lunch, ice cream and a walk on the boardwalk it was time to head home. 

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Thanks for the Loop Healing Magic!

BTW Did I mention that I KT taped Dave’s leg? That was a little #awkward! 😬

 

Slow_Running

     The Rehoboth HalfMarathon was the last race on my calendar for 2017 and I had planned to race it.  Really, what else can you do with all that left over endurance from marathon training anyway?  The weekend started around 2:30 Friday afternoon when I arrived in Rehoboth and met up with Gwen, Carissa and Eric at packet pick up.  After a quick stop at the house we made our way to Dog Fish Head to catch up and enjoy some beer.  Slowly others trickled into town and we gathered at the house while Chris made lasagna for the pre-race meal.  Soon it was time to get some sleep.

     The alarm went off at 5:00 AM.  I dressed and went down to the kitchen where the others were already gorging on bagels on coffee.  There’s nothing like the smell of body glide, coffee and nervous perspiration to help get you pumped for a race.  We talked about the perfect racing weather and pace goals.  Soon it was time to make our way to the start.  Caitlin found a super nice house, and we could walk to the start in just a few minutes.  It was a chilly 40 degrees but we were so close that I didn’t even need a throwaway.  Here we are at the start.

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     After some announcements and the National Anthem the race started.  My goal was to beat 1:50 (8:25 pace) so I started with the 1:50 pace group.  Sounded convenient.  The plan was to run with the 1:50 group and hopefully have enough energy to pick it up for the last mile to finish under 1:50.  The Marathon course splits off around 3 miles.  The pace was feeling easy when my watch beeped 4 miles.  Actually, it felt like the pacer had slowed.  He had already announced that he wasn’t looking for a negative split and wasn’t going to come in early at all.  Excuse me?  That’s really all you need to hear when you’re feeling good - so I dropped him and settled into around an 8:10 pace.  

     The trail section was in great shape this year and was completely dry.  The pace felt steady and when I reached asphalt again I knew I was going to beat my goal by a minute or two.  Some other runners around me started picking up their pace just before mile 12.  I let them go, content to run my own race and beat the goal, happy and healthy.  Around mile 12 Chris caught me and said “Come on – let’s go!” 

I picked it up with her and asked “We’re going to do this now?” 

“Yeah, let’s go!”

So we hit it as hard as we could from mile 12, taking turns yelling at each other to keep pushing.  That was the longest 1.1 miles I can remember, but soon enough we were rounding the last corner and we could see the finish line.  My watch read 1:47:11 after crossing the finish line, a PR by over 4 minutes!  The tracking company email says I ran 1:47:08.

     After a quick change of clothes several of us went back to cheer for the others who were still on the course.  Then it was time to get the party started.  The after party is mostly in a large tent at the finish line, but the beer tickets also work at the bar across the street.  There isn’t gluten free beer in the tent, but we found GF beer across the street.  Soon I was ordering bottles of GF beer across the street and sneaking them out in my pants and back to the tent where we spent most of our time goofing around and dancing.  On the third trip I bumped into the RD and had to converse with her for a few minutes with beer in my pants.  Fortunately, she didn't notice that I had beer in my pants.

 

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     The next morning we said our good byes and started traveling home, looking forward to the next time when we can do this all over again.  Thanks everyone!  This was the best weekend since my last Rehoboth and I have a shiny new PR to chase next year.

 

John Nguyen

"First run in 1905, the Dipsea is the oldest trail race in America. It is run every year on the second Sunday in June. The scenic 7.4 mile course from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach is considered to be one of the most beautiful courses in the world. The stairs and steep trails make it a grueling and treacherous race. And its unique handicapping system has made winners of men and women of all ages." (http://www.dipsea.org/)

The Quad Dipsea is a bit easier to get into, but still sells out pretty quickly every year (4 times the fun of the Dipsea?). This year was the 34th running of the Quad Dipsea! This was my second attempt at this race. I started this race a few years ago, only to sprain my ankle and drop after only 7 miles. So there was unfinished business to attend to.  My goal was to just finish the race in the 8.5 hours we are given for an official finish.
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Eight and a half hours for only 28.5 miles sounds pretty easy, doesn't it? The 9200 feet of elevation gain makes things just a tad more interesting...

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The course is beautiful, despite seeing the same sections 4 times!

I was having a wonderful time in the first half.  I was running well and climbing well. I even blew through a couple aid stations!  I got through the first half in 3:28, but I already knew that I was going to slow down in the second half. I was running well, but my climbing legs were woefully under-trained.

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My climbing grew slower and slower as the race went on. My legs started to cramp and hurt on the steep climbs.  I was officially in survival mode, despite being able to run on the descents.
 
On the last lap, I was scared I wasn't going to make it. The climbs hurt, and I had to take breaks going up just to keep my heart rate down. I kept telling myself to take one step at a time. I was still able to drink my Tailwind Mix in my handheld bottle, but nothing was easy at this point. One of the great things about a race like this is the people. Everywhere you go, people are cheering you on. And you get to see everyone racing on the out-and-back course, twice! When you're hurting and suffering, you can take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. You can see pain etched in the faces of many of your fellow runners. It's a reminder to keep fighting, to dig down deep and to keep moving despite the pain. 

Somewhere in those final miles, I must have found my limit, and ran right past it. "You must do what you don't think you can do." Isn't that one of the reasons why we run ultras? To find the limits we place on ourselves (mentally), and then surpass them? It's a great feeling! Of course, I would've had a better limit if I had trained better! Oh well. Life goes on.

I finished the race in 237th place out of 300 finishers, in 7 hours and 53 minutes. The shwag was great (a finisher's patagonia jacket and long sleeve shirt)! I felt sick for hours after the race (even after throwing up). My legs randomly seized up through the night. It was all worth it, because I didn't give up and I finished. I didn't win the race. I just owned it (my own race, that is). 

Find your limit. Pass it. And don't look back.

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NCAthlete

After I reported my race time, a friend quickly informed me that I had sandbagged on my goal of this race. I REALLY did but it was completely unintentional! Saturday was a magical day for me and all of the stars aligned perfectly. It was one of those races that you dream of having. Although it wasn’t the best race time of my life, it is definitely on the top.

I flew into DCA on Friday, and after a really fun road trip to Rehoboth Beach, I had volunteered to make lasagnas for the 15+ running friends I had waiting at the house we’d all rented! I’d never cooked for that many people and was in a hurry to get them all cooked at a decent hour, as we were some of the last to arrive. I was hoping I’d make enough and that it would all settle well with everyone. It wound up being a success which I’m really thankful for!

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After chatting with everyone, most of us settled into bed around 10pm. I was sharing a king-sized bed with two other chicas. I wound up only sleeping for 3 hours that night! It wasn’t because I was sharing a bed, because it was huge, but I have the habit of sleeping with background noise (a fan) at home. It was crickets quiet in there and I just couldn’t fall asleep. I finally grabbed my music around 2am which gave me the few hours that I got.

I felt like a zombie when I woke up and didn’t want anything to eat. I sipped on a little water and finally had a Nature's Bakery fig bar right before we headed to the start. Those fig bars are amazing, by the way! Sam’s club has them by the case and that’s what I’ve been getting. The case is half blueberry and half raspberry.

Our house was perfectly located really close to the start and finish. We left about 15 minutes before the race start so we didn’t have to stand out in the cold for too long. I had on: capris, my Team RWB tee, arm warmers, head-band, thin gloves, and calf-length socks (Stance). I was pretty comfy actually.

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At the start line
I was using my phone and Strava app (follow me here!) to track the run and for some reason, I started it as soon as I heard them start the race. I didn’t even start running for some time after. I didn’t look at my phone one single time during the race, so it didn’t matter anyway. I’ve written it in another post, but I love running “blind” and feel that it has actually helped me run faster in races.

I started off fast which I hadn’t intended to do but just kept going with it. I felt like I had slowed it down a little bit after the first couple of miles, but I hadn’t. We went around a round-about at mile 3 and right after, the half and the full split up. I did not feel that I was running that pace! I had heard someone behind me at one point saying they were running 8:20 and I was shocked! I can’t remember exactly, but I think I passed the 1:50 pacer around mile 4 and never saw them again!

Miles 1-3: 10:05 (early app start), 8:18, 8:17

Around mile 7, we got on a packed(-ish) gravel trail that most people said they hated. I am a trail girl at heart so I LOVED that part. I think around mile 8, there were flags hanging over the trail. I’m guessing it was flags representing all the states/countriesImage result for thin blue line flag race runners were from. There was also a Thin Blue Line flag hanging, which supports police officers. I raised my hand and brushed it as I went under. I think one of the photographers got a picture of me doing it so I hope to see that later! I also brushed the NC flag as I went under too!

Miles 4-8: 7:54, 8:07, 8:12, 7:58, 8:01.  WOW!!!

At mile 9, we turned around on the trail and headed back. I knew I had been running fast and I was actually waiting to hit the wall. I was certain that it was going to happen, but was doing my best to prevent it. I had decided not to carry a water bottle because I figured I could just use the aid stations. This turned out to be a great idea because they had ice cold Gatorade at each aid station which tasted PERFECT. I had brought one Cliff Shot Blok (citrus) and slowly started eating that around mile 7. I only had one blok each mile until about mile 11. So the only fuel I had the whole race was one packet of Shot Bloks, and a few cups of Gatorade. I did have one cup of water somewhere in there.

About mile 11, I was starting to feel the speed I’d been running. It’s kind of a slight uphill from the turnaround until you get out of the trail around mile 12. When I saw the 12 mile marker, I was already proud of what I’d done all race and knew that I wouldn’t be hitting the wall after all! I could feel emotions coming but I didn’t cry. I felt like I did in 2011 and 2012 when I was getting all of my PRs. Even though I knew I wasn’t getting a PR (1:42:xx), because the 1:40 pacer was no where in site, I was overwhelmed with how good this race was going. I still had no clue where I was going to finish but wanted to keep pushing it until the end.

Shortly after the 12 mile marker, I hear someone behind me say, “Chris!” I turned around and it was John P! I hadn’t seen him when I went by but he spotted the red, white, and blue I was wearing. I waved for him to come run with me and came right up beside me. I said, “Come on! Let’s go!” So I kicked it a little, which turned out to be a bit early. We still had about 3/4 of a mile to go and I thought I was going to pass out. I started to slow a bit but John kept yelling, “Let’s go! Don’t you slow down on me! Come on!” These are the moments I freaking LOVE. Just when you think you don’t have any more in the tank, someone else motivates you and you just burn everything you can. If it hadn’t been for John, I wouldn’t have finished it quite as hard. 

Miles 9-13: 8:08, 8:02, 8:02, 7:45, 7:31. Look at those negative splits, BABY!!! Hell yes!

Finish time: 1:47:10 / 8:11 pace

I gotta tell ya. I really didn’t think I had that in me. I honestly thought my 1:55 goal was a stretch because I just haven’t been doing much speed work in the last month. You can look back at my training on Strava and see that. Maybe the altitude training does help at sea level. Maybe the extended taper I did helped. Or maybe I’m just fucking bad ass. I felt like I was running in someone else’s body again, because I just haven’t had that powerful feeling in so long. I needed this race and that feeling. Man, I needed it so bad. And I got it. I hope to prolong this high as long as possible.

I’m 36 years old and I’m still a bad ass bitch.

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We partied in the beer tent until it shut down, then hung out at a karaoke bar for a while (Randy sang Genie in a Bottle!!), then went to Conch Island and danced until it shut down!

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It looked so sad when we left yesterday morning…

That was the best weekend I’ve had in a while. Great times with great people. Can’t wait to do it again.

Thanks for reading,

Chris

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I borrowed this pic… Awesome medal!

NavEng

 

My focus this “off season” is to get stronger without getting injured. Of course, every time I make it through a tough workout without dying or getting hurt, I’ve succeeded in starting the muscle rebuilding process, which puts me in a better place to ward off future injuries.

Step one is to do some strength work after each run in addition to my everyday rolling/stretching/heel drops. Not too much, just a few exercises daily, rotating between leg day, hip day and arm/shoulders day.

Step two is to incorporate hills multiple times per week. I had 8500 feet of elevation gain over 134 miles in November, which I’ll attempt to beat this month. I made a chart:

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I realize 8500 ft is what Joanna eats as an afternoon snack (or the metric equivalent), but it seems to be helping. It was 50F and sunny on Sunday, so I visited my favorite park to run some trails. I was able to run up all the hills, some multiple times, without stopping. I was unable to do that during my 50k rampup last summer.

 

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So getting stronger, which should help the chassis get ready for my spring race, a 20 miler on these very same trails.

I also realize the chassis is getting older, and I’m reminded every morning as I quietly try to get ready for the run without waking up the house. I’m careful not to slam doors and turn on lights, but it seems like the snapping, crackling and popping happening in my toes, feet and ankles as I walk across the bedroom echo through the house like every day is July 4.

The race plan for 2018 is coming together. It looks like: 1. Trail race in April, 2. Early August half, 3. End of August 50k, and 4. Wineglass half. Still trying to figure out if 5 weeks between a 50k and a half is enough time. I still have a few weeks to mull before the Wineglass fee goes up.

Running Nutz

Need something to pass the time while you wait for weekend RR from DE to be posted?  Not only are the Christmas lights @Cliff hung on the sight pretty- you can also break them with your mouse!  I KNOW, RIGHT????

:P Procrastinating in PA...

mattw

@Cliff - nice Christmas lights for the site!

I figured I'd sneak this in before the more exciting Rehoboth and CIM race reports come in. Last week's miles went pretty well. I planned on about 7 easy miles for Saturday morning, but a friend posted that he needed 10 miles. We started at 5:30, chatted the whole way, and I hardly even looked at my watch. We ran them faster than I would have on my own with a 8:09 average.

My Sunday plan was for 15 miles, but I agreed to run my RB's 18 miles. We again started at 5:30am, so no sleeping in this past weekend. Same guy from Saturday joined in too along with a couple of other guys. Running Buddy Tim and I picked it up a bit for the last 4 miles to get a few in the 7:30 or under range. I ended up with 65 miles total, about 7 more than the plan had.

I feel good so far and want to try maintaining that or even a bit more. It gets tricky fitting in much more though. The easiest way to add miles would be to run on Monday, but I like having that off for now. I did add to the Saturday's recovery miles and could probably do the same on Thursday. But I would have to get up before 4am to get more than 11 or 12 on weekday mornings, and I just don't think I want to go there yet. I may consider doing a lunch run as the temps get cooler. I don't have a shower at work, but if I did some easy miles in 40F I probably wouldn't even get sweaty and could use baby wipes if needed.

I don't believe I mentioned the birthday present my daughter asked for when she turned 14 a couple of weeks ago. About a month before her birthday she started asking if she could have a pet rat. She had been doing some research on them and told us how they can be trained and like to get out to play. But of course you can't get just one because they get lonely. My wife found a breeder and picked out two brothers. The day before we went to get them the breeder messaged us to ask if we wanted a third from the same litter because someone else had backed out. And that's how we have Theodore, Amos and Mack. I only have a photo of one of them on my phone. My wife and kids get them out a couple of times a day.

Amos (I think).
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Me preparing for Thanksgiving dinner (after a 15 mile run of course). Our oldest cat, Purna, and my daughter's stuffed elephant like naps too.
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Cotton loves the Christmas lights.
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Random ornaments.
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