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The Tune-Up

I checked my watch. Seven minutes to the gun. Perfect. I took off down the Mall toward the Washington Monument for one last strider. Turn, turn, turn, I repeated, reaching top speed, holding it for a moment, then easing off the accelerator and slowing to a walk. A stiff, cold breeze rippled my singlet. This could be a factor, I thought, then pushed it from my head and wove my way through the crowd to my corral.

Nervous fingers. Jittery legs. The announcements were static in my head as I ran through my race plan one last time. My coach and I never put a time goal for this tune-up halfmarathon. Rather, we set a pace range for various sections of the course, which allowed me to just lace up my racing flats and go execute without the pressure of hitting a specific time.

We bolted from the starting arch with Constitution Avenue abandoned and stretched out before us. Get out. Get settled, I thought. Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm.

That wind met me head-on and I did my best to relax into it without forcing the pace and burning through energy early. The course scraped the Lincoln Memorial then turned us down and alongside a choppy Potomac River and under the Kennedy Center. I nailed my first three splits, wanting to be between 5:45 and 5:50, and hitting 5:49, 5:48, 5:47.

Mile four’s combination of uphill and headwind backed me off that pace but I recovered for mile five as we headed up Rock Creek Parkway. The pace was on point but the effort felt just south of comfortable. I willed myself to relax, understanding the irony.

The course began to bend to the left and rise. “What exactly is going on there?” my coach asked me while we looked at the elevation profile earlier in the week. Having run previous incarnations of this race in the past, I thought I knew the hill to which he referred, but, faced with what lay before me, I knew this was not the same hill. “Your goal is to just get up it, don’t lose ground to anyone, and then take 60-90 seconds of easy running at the top to settle back into your pace from miles 1-5,” he said. Then ominously, “You might run 7:30 up that hill.”

Volunteers lined the hill holding American flags. They called encouragement, but my mind blotted out their voices. Up on my toes, I picked my way up the incline and pulled even with another runner. My breath came in rasps now and I could feel the strain in my quads. We rounded the corner together, and I remembered my coach’s words. The other runner tried to take off, where I concentrated on letting the fatigue drain from my legs. My watch beeped 6:30 at the top, prompting one of my friends on Strava to ask later if I had paused for a bathroom break there.

Take your minute, I thought. The course shifted downhill and I ironed out my stride. Relative normalcy returned. “Be ready to race at seven,” my coach said.

Let’s go. I thought.

I caught the runner who had taken off at the top of the hill and went by them easily now. They wouldn’t be the last. I aimed for 5:40-5:35 pace over the last 10K of the race. While I had recovered from the hill, the damage had been done. Fatigue had seeped into my quads and the wind over the first five miles had leeched strength from me. Be calm. Be present, I intoned.

The Howard University drums boomed and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, rounding mile eight. I rode the downhills and survived the up, dropping a 5:38 and 5:33, collecting racers as I went.

With under 5K to go, I picked up Brian Glanville’s quote from coach Sam Dee in The Olympian, “Be strong in mind as fit in body.” Except in my head it went more like, stronginminstronginmindstronginmind. After a 5:44 at 11, I resigned to just race and forgo looking at my watch, just taking what came over the last two miles.

I kept two other runners in sight, though was not able to gain on them, nor were they able to pull away. We ground up one final hill to get to mile 12 and that’s where I really came apart. A stitch gripped my side and somehow manifested itself in my shoulder as well. My right hip flexor tightened. My quads grew heavy. One. More. Mile.

I let gravity do the work for me, just trying to turn my legs over in that final mile. RFK stadium rounded into view and I threw whatever I had left in that final .2 miles, furiously pumping my arms and closing with a 5:39.

I clicked my watch and saw 1:17:05. Hmm, I thought, unsure how to feel about it. Though we had never put words on a time, I had expected to be faster, and yet, with the exception of a couple of miles, I had been in range. So, what to make of it? There would be time to ponder, but not for long.

I took my medal and my water bottle, reset my watch, and began a deliciously slow two-mile cool down.

Another race finished. Another checkpoint reached. But nowhere close to done.


Hello, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages. We are happy to present the final results of the 2018 Snowbuster Festival of Races.

A quick review of the rules. The official distance is a pikermi or halfmarathon. Whatever distance you ran, either in a sanctioned race or some distance on your own, I take your finish time, find your average pace and calculate a 13.1 mile run for you. No fancy adjustments for shorter or longer runs/races. I'm too old to spend time doing that. I did the first couple of years of the Snowbuster, but I've sort of run out of gas lately. Maybe having a bum knee. Whatever. Anyway, you send your numbers to me, I let google sheets do the conversion and ... voila`!


Place Loopster M/F Distance Time Pace Converted Time Bonus Points
1 SIbbetson F 7.46 0:47:02 0:06:18 1:22:36 MO AG record
2 ChocTop M 13.1 1:37:30 0:07:27 1:37:30 Loopster Rehoboth pic/bib
3 running_eng M 20.16 2:33:34 0:07:37 1:39:47  
4 Shanda1 F 26.2 3:20:31 0:07:39 1:40:16  
5 J Zee M 8.52 1:05:49 0:07:43 1:41:12  
6 MinneDan M 20.2 2:36:55 0:07:46 1:41:46  
7 mattw M 13.1 1:46:01 0:08:06 1:46:01  
8 Runnerguymark M 6.01 0:48:48 0:08:07 1:46:22  
9 HotPinkSneakers F 10 1:27:02 0:08:42 1:54:01  
10 croninamber F 13.2 2:06:23 0:09:34 2:05:26  
11 Keep Running Girl F 9.21 1:28:46 0:09:38 2:06:16  
12 RunningPlaces9919 M 13.7 2:14:00 0:09:47 2:08:08  
13 Slow_Running M 13.1 2:08:49 0:09:50 2:08:49  
14 TreeGirl F 3.1 0:33:39 0:10:51 2:22:12  
15 Catawbagirl F 9.2 1:40:20 0:10:54 2:22:52  
16 Dr Whiskers F 13.1 2:23:04 0:10:55 2:23:04  
17 amarie2009 F 13.1 2:27:01 0:11:13 2:27:01  
18 runner1996 F 13.1 2:43:20 0:12:28 2:43:20  
19 the ohio lass F 13.35 2:56:09 0:13:12 2:52:51  
20 jsoper F 13.1 3:16:40 0:15:01 3:16:40  
21 Jenster F 20.43 6:14:02 0:18:18 3:59:50 2,954 ft of elevation, 1 week after a hundo!
22 ocrunnergirl F XT       Treadmill - 1 mile
Stairclimb - 1.1 mile
Treadmill - 3 miles
Row - 2000 m
Treadmill- 3 miles

Here are some highlights:

  • No surprise that SIbbetson is this year's first place finisher. Congrats, Sara!
  • ChocTop came in 2nd, even though he had a 15 hours headstart. OK, fine, he lives in Australia.
  • Actually, the first Loopster to finish was technically, RunningPlaces9919, but that's because he ran a week earlier than the rest of you. (he asked and I'm a softy).
  • Ocrunnergirl, who's claiming injury right now wins the special cross-training  category (I sort of believe her, even though she's healthy enough to XT, unlike me, who XT's by watching bad movies on Amazon Prime while sitting on my arse).
  • Shanda1 wins for the longest pikermi by running an actual marathon.
  • And Jenster gets extra special Loop Love for going over 20 miles a week after completing a hundred-miler (I have to catch my breath every time I read that)!!!!

Maybe next year I'll be motivated to do more, like have awards and stuff again. Not running sucks, you know that.


Speaking of not running, that's me. I was able to get into a knee guy on Tuesday. Only had to wait a few days, so that was a win right there. First they took some x-rays, then an intern came in and twisted my knee around some. He thought it was the inside meniscus and maybe they'd have to scope inside there and clip off some damaged tissue. Then the real doc looked at it, poked, prodded, turned and torqued things some more, then ordered an MRI. The x-ray looked fabo, with zero sign of damage either from a trauma or arthritis (always a possibility when the knees get as old as mine, I guess). Now I have to wait for another week and a half to get into the MRI machine. Those things have to generate billions of dollars for hospitals. They cost a fortune to run the tests and run 24 hours a day, yet they staff the place like it's the DMV. I waited 15 minutes just to get a receptionist on the phone.

Anyway, in the meantime I continue with my resting. And officially have written off a spring race.IMG_0953.thumb.JPG.adad4246c7724318c52e4c4ccc62dcb3.JPG

I've had in mind a new display idea for my (hopefully) continuing marathon finishes. Big Mac (DD1) bought me the perfect gift on my birthday, and I've been tossing different setups around in my head since January. I looked for several weeks, trying to find the perfect frame. Once I did, Mrs. Dave made me wait 3 days before buying it, like I was getting a handgun. She's convinced I always buy things on impulse. Don't know where she got that. I finally ordered it, then three days later it came on the UPS truck. Except it was the wrong one! I sent a note through Amazon to the seller (turned out to be a place not far from here in Michigan), explaining that they'd sent me a different size of frame that wasn't even the right style or anything. I guess it was the right color. The next day they replied to my email, asking for pictures. Really. So I sent them pictures and another nice note. Five more days went by with no word, so I called and talked with a lovely woman who said she'd send out the correct frame right away. So, how do I send this one back? "Keep it," she said. It costs more to pay shipping on a return than was worth it. OK. Now I have two frames, one of which is the one I want.

Took a few more days to get it all put together. I can continue to add bars as I move towards getting all 50.

Here are some closer shots.



Well, it's getting late and I hate Daylight Savings Time. Goodnight, Loopsters.


5K Snowbuster

Just a quick report on my "snowbuster" as I watch it snow heavily out the office windows here in Northern Michigan.  

I scrounged enough sleep together to run 5K in new shoes.  It was a good run - clear paths, not too cold, very little wind, some sunshine.  3.1 in 33.39 minutes.  Not like I'm winning anything but it was nice to have a bigger reason to run Sunday instead of just that I should.  I was happy with my pace despite what many might think.  I'm working on some form issues I have and learning how to be more efficient in my running.  As I work on new techniques, I have to incorporate a lot into my miles via my tired brain and that's a work out in itself.

I'm totally over winter.  I know many of the east coast runners can completely relate.  


My boyfriend goes home on Tuesday, next week.  He's been a decent patient.  Except at night.  I've averaged 4 hours of broken sleep each night for 4 weeks except one night I got 9 hours with only getting up once.  4 more days.


Snowbuster by the Bay

The Snowbuster, or as it’s become known down under the “Sunbuster”, was having its 2nd Melbourne edition. Their course is an out and back route adjacent to Port Phillip bay which provides a relatively flat run, scenic views and usually a steady wall of wind. This would mark the end of preseason for me as Sunday, after a brief fling with Pfitz, I start my next round of Hanson’s for Gold Coast in July. It’s been a very slow build since a couple of health issues mid last year cleared out my racing schedule for the back half of ’17.

Sunbuster theme is 80’s so fluoro attire, mirror lenses, spiky blonde mullet...and fortunately no achy breaky hearts to be found!


Was hoping for a cooler race this year but unfortunately on the short drive down to the bay from work, my car happily told me Autumn was impersonating summer...30c (86f)...yikes!

Was keen to see how many would turn up this year & what the competition was like. As I got to the athletes village I could see that the accountants were again well represented. From my quick eyeballing it appeared numbers were exactly the same as last year but on closer inspection there was an even dozen other loopsters that had made it all the way from Rehoboth! So awesome of you all to join me and you look really pleased to be here too!


However intro’s & festivities would have to wait, I had a race to run. As I made my way to the start zone next to Beach Rd (managed to sneak into the front row - there didn’t seem to be any seeded runners) no sooner had I picked up the satellites we were off!

(Sorry forgot my phone arm strap so here’s a pic I prepared earlier…)


With no recent races to gauge form I had a simple plan and as always over-confidence was my forte! Go hard & try to hold on. Despite the hot sticky conditions I soon found myself settling into a pace somewhere between 4:30 -4:35 (7:15ish). There are many indoor/outdoor establishments along this Rd and I received much encouragement & well wishes (which got harder to decipher as the race went on...”goodonyamaaaaate””ruuuunnnnfooorrreeesssttt”...or more specifically as the punters got more lubricated & animated...).

As I pushed past 5kms (both aid stations & km markings were strangely absent) I could feel the pace taking its toll (as was the sun!) but convinced myself to just hang in until the turn around, which being the highest point, would give some easier running followed by the sun dropping towards the back end.

Soon enough I was on the return leg…but my legs...were struggling. Those small gentle undulations were a major effort and of course as per Dave’s wind theory that annoying breeze I was ignoring on the outward leg seemed to have turned around & now felt like a brick in the face. I did my best to stay under 5/k pace (8/mile) until the last few which I knew were dead flat and picked it up again best I could. Didn’t help my calf was starting those pre-cramp twinges. Pushed hard & stopped the clock at 1:37:30.

Pleased to say no loopsters got left behind. Time for a quick post race snap (no medals at the finish so I snaffled the race bib as a souvenir) before heading across the road for a well earned delicious coldie!!


Fairly happy with the run. Form is slowly returning so will be interesting to see how I go next up at my annual attempt to beat Puffing Billy steam train at the Great Train Race in April.



It's taper week, and I have extra time on my hands.

As one gets to my age (55), running for PRs is just pretty dang hard. Even improving year to year becomes a struggle. Over the next few decades I know it will be less about getting faster and more about limiting the inevitable slowdown. So I've been just measuring age group PRs for a while. But sometimes I will see an age-grade % in a race result, and I realized that's a pretty good way to measure my times against past performances.

So I pulled up the age-grading calculator and opened my race spreadsheet and proceeded to look up and enter age grades for all 306 races I have done since 1977. Now I can sort by age-grade to really see my best performances. It was fun! And results were pretty accurate. My best grades were still from my early youth PRs when I was 18 and 19. But my races now are pretty close to those, considering my ancient body.

My top score was a 78.46% for my 10K PR at age 19 of 34:03. I had six other races in that period over 77%. But then my top old man score was not far behind at 75.45% for a 5K of 20:10 at age 54. All my top scores lately are in the 5K, so I guess I'm under achieving in the longer ones. I have 22 5Ks in the last 5 years over 70%, but only three 10Ks and one Half over 70%. Last year's Phoenix half in 1:35:47 got me a 70.47%.

As for marathons, my top score remains my first one at age 18, my PR of 2:58:55. But it's only good for 68.77%. But my next two were my BQ races at age 49 and 53, both around 66%. So now I have a new goal for Sunday, an age-graded marathon PR. To beat 68.77% I need to run under 3:28:33, which happens to be right about what I'm shooting for!

So anyway, yes, the LA marathon is Sunday. I've been tapering hard. I decided that my injury-forced 5-week taper from two years ago worked so well, that I needn't worry about running too little these last three weeks. Two weeks ago I dropped to 4 runs and 38 miles with nothing over 11. Last week I skipped a run and only ran twice, 7 and 12, and I'm feeling pretty fresh. This week I will only do two runs, 7 today and 5 on Thursday. I do have a little injury tweak. One foot is a little sore, in the ankle and the arch, but not a big deal. Still, enough to make me want to cut back. The weather looks to be perfect! Colder than usual. 45-55 degrees during the race and partly cloudy or maybe a little rain. So I've got no excuses.

Goals. Well, as usual, the main one is to BQ, which means under 3:37 to be safe. But my training suggests I'm really capable of sub 3:30, maybe 3:25. So I will be shooting for under 3:30. And now hoping to crack 3:28:33! Likely I'll be at 3:25 pace for twenty miles, like usual, and then we'll see if the increased mileage helps me maintain better through those last 6 miles. My facebook should be posting tracking if you're curious.

The calculator is here if you are interested. Go ahead and wish me luck! I'll be wearing the Loopville All-star shirt and thinking about you guys!


                This wasn’t my best race. I never intended to PR, but I was hoping to maintain a somewhat decent pace (for me). It didn’t happen. My legs felt heavy the whole time. I did do a weight workout on Thursday which absolutely contributed to that but shouldn’t have made me feel as bad as I did. It wasn’t the worst I’ve ever felt, but I just didn’t have much in me. Besides that, my left arch hurt a little, and my right shoe is still pushing on my inside heel bone for a still unknown reason. At mile 8 I wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish because that particular problem was so bad. After a couple of tries on adjusting the shoe it was enough better to keep going, but my shoe was now sort of loose…I never lost the shoe, so it worked ok. The weather was perfect though, cool and bright. Not much in the way of spring flowers just yet, but we’re close. A few warm spots probably have daffodils blooming but I didn’t see any. I started out with a group of Team in Training runners before we all spread out. John (who also ran the Austin marathon) ran the first 6 miles with me, but he is running another marathon in Hawaii next week and stopped at that point. The race photographer Doug always takes pictures of TNT runs. The first time around I didn’t get my “trademark” thumbs up out (and he called me on it too), but I was ready the second time when he caught me early in the second loop. Ironically, I actually felt worse at that point because of the shoe problem, but I wanted at least one good race photo.


First loop with John (mile 1ish)


Second loop solo (mile 7ish)


Reflective finisher's photo at my car

                 It was just a slow day for me. I finished the 13.1 right at the visitor’s center of Forest Park and was even given a bottle of water by a group promoting their fundraising for GO St. Louis. (The Little Bit Foundation) Then I took my finisher’s photo at my car and drove home. This was my last race as a 34-year-old. Monday is my birthday. New age group. Yay? I don’t believe the 35-39 AG is any less competitive.


Two slightly different loops (see the difference on the right, plus a little out and back to finish up)


Official time from mapmyrun


                Next Saturday I’m running the St. Louis St. Patrick’s Day run. Always a fun race, but very crowded as well. I think I’m aiming for a 9 or below pace. If I can do that and it feels super easy (unlikely, but you never know), I may consider a moon shot of going sub 2 at GO STL half in April. More realistically I am planning on aiming for under 2:10. That’s a big difference, but I need this race to tell me what I might be able to do right now.


My lungs heaved. My shoulders strained. My breath came in ragged gasps. I was wrung out but I churned on. When I cleared the stop sign, my watch buzzed marking the seventh mile repeat. “6:09.” Fuck.

Rather than the exclamation point I had hoped for with this workout, I left it with more of a question mark – the questions being what happened? What was that? Why?

You see, I was supposed to run 7x1 mile starting at 5:40 and working down to 5:30 (reference 6:09 above). The workout had been a bear from the start. And though I recognized the pile of adversities stacked against me (lack of sleep, stress at work, still sick), a trickle of doubt began to seep in. I started a down trodden cool down back to my house when I then asked myself: “Why are you running today?”

It’s a question I’ve asked myself every morning of this Boston buildup as a I dress for a run, pop my contacts in, or lace up. I don’t ask out of wonder, skepticism, or dread. Rather, I ask out of necessity. And the answer is always: “I expect to run 2:35 at Boston.”

It has to be.

Admittedly, when I first began this ritual some 10 weeks ago, I’m not sure I believed it, or at least not every day. But the shift has been subtle. In buildups past, I might say, “I want to run 2:35” or “I hope to run 2:35.” That simple one-word substitution has ignited a massive mindset shift in how I approach mental preparation for this marathon.

I embraced the concept after my coach recommended that I read Dr. Stan Beecham’s, “Elite Minds” earlier this winter. Beecham is a sports psychologist that ZAP’s athletes have used in the past.

Beecham says that the “future is primarily determined by what you tell yourself about the future; the beliefs one has about the future can actually dictate behavior in the present.” In other words, if you set yourself up to run poorly by believing that will be the outcome, why should you expect any alternative?

Confidence, though, can be like glass. It can be impenetrable and bulletproof or it can be delicate and fragile. Harkening back to my days as an ice hockey goaltender, that area between my ears could be a scary place, full of demons of doubt, where I second-guessed and forced every movement and reaction (mostly pulling the puck out of the back of the net). While other times it was a place of peace, of synergy, of flow. There was no past, no future, only what was happening immediately in front of me, and all I had to do was react. In that flow, there’s no thinking, no worrying, no second-guessing.

And I’m trying to find that place of stillness with my running. Because believing that I will run 2:35 gives me the permission to not obsess about running 2:35, and it frees my mind to focus on the here and now, to only execute my race plan, and find that quiet mind.

On those particularly bad patches, in workouts, in races, in low moments, I repeat “be calm, be present, trust yourself” even though doubt is starting to eat around the edges of my confidence, the glass starting to spider. But practicing this, I’ve come to realize, is just as important as getting the miles in, hitting the splits, and dialing in the nutrition. When I went to running camp at ZAP many years ago, the shirt laid out on our bed read, “The Mind is the Athlete.” We can hone, sharpen, and temper the body, but the mind must be strong as well to propel the vessel forward.

That dog-doo 7x1 mile workout was nearly a month ago now. I won’t lie that I let it linger in the back of my mind and that alone has caused me to force a few of the sessions that followed. But, I also know that “expectation dictates performance,” according to Beecham. “How you function on a bad day is the true test. How you function on a good day does not define your character.” So I focus on getting the best out of each day, whatever that means, and with whatever circumstances I’ve been dealt. Then I can work with what I have, rather than exerting force against what isn’t working.

Tonight, I sit on the precipice overlooking tomorrow’s tune up race, the Rock and Roll DC HalfMarathon. I know that I am the collection of every run and every workout that I’ve compiled over the last few weeks, months, and, hell, even years. I am not defined by one crappy workout and I will do my best tomorrow with what the day gives me. Why?

Because I expect to run 2:35 at Boston.  

doug in co


#1 son's college swim conference meet, MIAC, was at the U of M a couple of weeks ago. It's taken me until now to recover sufficiently to write it up.. meet was very loud, very hot, very intense.

Since the torn calf muscle had somewhat healed, helped on its way by foam rolling, the Sacro Wedgy, and not running: it was possible to get in some long slow foot tours of the river. Weather was 26 degrees and breezy, with that fine MN snirt (mix of snow and dirt) on the ground. There's a good river trail all along the mighty Mississippi here but it is not plowed, which kept me mostly on the road. Runner population was thin, a couple of cyclists, mostly students on astonishingly rusty old bikes.

Not quite scenic, but definitely historic and folkloric, running upriver from the U of M. Old locks and grain mill sites, neon signs for Gold Medal Flour and Grain Belt Beer cheerfully lighting up the somewhat dank evening.


Don't that make you thirsty ? it did me. Later we ate excellent burgers at Stub & Herbs, they had a good selection of beers but I went for the Grain Belt, pretty good for an American lager, +1 would drink again.

Running under Hennepin Avenue with roadmelt dripping on my head ew, I realized the location of the Tom Waits song Ninth and Hennepin was just up the road. Then I remembered the lyrics, and ran a little bit faster..
Fifty minutes up and forty back, avoiding the detours into rutted lumpy snow along the trails on the way back. A bit chilled by the end but the Target (pronounced “Tarzhay") run pants worked mostly well. I'm too old for tights anymore.

Our friends Carl and Mary were with us, as their daughter swims for Carleton College just across the river from #1 son's college St. Olaf. Carl and I went full dad every day,


Carl's also a swimmer and had figured out where to find the Minnesota Masters on previous trips to swim meets. The U of M pool is a glorious deep Olympic-size pool, very fast. We snuck out of the hotel at 4:30am to go meet the masters, ducked back up an alleyway and came in the back way, seemed very clandestine to me. -2 degrees at that hour of the morning ow. About twenty others showed up, including a tiny young woman who Carl knew from previous visits, coxswain of the U of M rowing team. She said as soon as the river thaws they go out, she sometimes comes back with a thin shell of ice coating. A fine swim was had by all, about 3500yds of varied short intervals.

The meet hours made eating difficult - 10am to about 1-2pm, then evening session starting at 6pm to 9:30 or so. After eating Chipotle at 10pm the first night and lying there with that cannonball burrito heavy on my backbone all night, we ended up on the two meal a day plan. A large late breakfast followed by a large early dinner, with snacks, worked well. We'd go meet the swimmers as they went for lunch, just to see them and chat.

Day 3 run went downriver. Again I was unreasonably optimistic and detoured down to the river path, which appeared open from the vantage of the road, but it quickly vanished into the trees and the same unploughed lumpy rutted snow. The East River road was not busy though, so it was still pleasant. The detour allowed me a short tour around the outside of the U of M boat house, a couple of canoes frozen to their stands out back and the river entirely hard. There was a short section of open water below the lock upriver.


Going down this way the houses start just past the U of M, large tenured professor style residences, set well back from the road. As you get downriver so the student housing starts to show up with apartments beginning about two miles out. The city is just riddled with colleges - all of those shown on the map here were at the MIAC meet, except of course for U of M which is Div I. There's a swim meet earlier in the year called the Saints meet, all of the St. colleges, Thomas, Olaf, Catherine, etc. I thought that was kind of sweet.  I'm sure it's gorgeous here in the spring and fall but winter is not its best face.


Still enjoy being out running in whatever weather, for my daily high-impact meditation session. Just south and east of my turnaround is the Minnehaha Falls park. Minnehaha.. hahahaha.. *slap* sorry, once I start laughing maniacally these days it's hard to get stopped. A little further downriver is the Unorganized Territory of Fort Snelling. I feel myself in a somewhat unorganized territory these days too.

#1 son had a good but not excellent meet, improved his PRs in all races, made the 50 final and got on the podium though did not do quite as well as he'd hoped. Given he spent 3 days in hospital with pneumonia and a collapsed lung in December, I called it a significant victory. The four of them got bronze in the 200 medley relay.


My young man is the one in the blue/mango speed suit. This is mostly because his Dad's a skinflint and buys the speedsuits on sale for $200 instead of the $400 full price, which leaves you with a choice of odd colors. Left to his own devices he wears a salmon-colored Speedo, so the blue/mango isn't really a stretch for him. All those tattoos are temporary ones of the St Olaf lion,


A lion with an axe, what could go wrong ?

Last year after this meet there was a big party at the St Olaf swim house, like Animal House but with swimmers finally off the leash after four months of steady training and clean living for the conference meet and NCAAs if qualified. DW got a text while in church, "Mom don't panic but I woke up this morning with a broken foot and my ears pierced". This year we did not have anything broken so that's progress.


I ran my first 5K in forever this past weekend.  This was the first race for my best friend's husband, and I agreed to run the race with him.  He is 6'1", a fit cyclist and 12 years younger than me. 5aa2fa9b1a65a_IMG_14411.thumb.JPG.2e0bcdf79f73f488f5a247e1d6c02f0f.JPG I suspected I would have problems staying with him despite my lengthy running career.  (turns out I was correct in that assumption)  The morning dawned cold (at least for this now-Southerner) and windy!  Went out a little fast--it has been so long since I have raced, that my thought was this should be uncomfortably hard.  Hit the first mile in 8:25.  Oops.  It was indeed uncomfortable (and reminded my why i prefer longer races). We continued with some rolling hills and I started falling off a bit, hitting mile 2 in 8:48.  The last mile was more uphill and into the friggin wind, 8:54 despite me trying to kick.  Final turn toward the finish was 7:48 pace.  Garmin had my 5K at 26:52 which was good for second in the female 50-54 age group.  He finished about 30 seconds ahead of me and seemed happy with the day's performance.  5aa2fae12d99a_IMG_14421.thumb.JPG.c83f37f5ada3472f45f1c65e5ee93181.JPG

My recent training has not been as consistent as I would like--there have been some family illness that prevented me from consistent training, and I took two months off last summer to focus on cycling so I could prepar to ride in the MS 150.  My current plan is to be more consistent (of course, isn't that everyone's intent?).  I have a halfmarathon next weekend that I am woefully unprepared for--my longest training run recently was 7 miles, i plan to get a 9 or 10 miler in this weekend and then JFR 13 miles with 3000 of my closest friends in however long it takes.  What could go wrong?  After this, the next race on the schedule is the Yellowstone half in June--which is at elevation with a large hill at the midpoint.  Again, this will be a race with 3000 of my closest friends, but I want to have a better base for this one than my local nearly sea level.  Then maybe a goal race this fall.  


Thankfully, the 22nd season of The Bachelor has concluded. Unthankfully, ABC has me so invested in the new Bachelorette that I'll be watching that damn show come spring. UGH. Can't. Escape. Send more wine. 

Here's what I learned from the last 5 (FIVE!) hours of this show: 

  • Don't date a man who dates 25 other women. 

Here is what I told my boyfriend he learned: 

  • If you're not sure, don't propose. 
  • If you propose, then want to end it with me, don't let ABC film it. 
  • If you blindside me and break my heart, leave when I ask you to leave. Don't linger, don't wander around like a hurt puppy, don't keep staring at me in hopes that I'm going to tell you everything is okay, JUST FRIGGEN LEAVE. 
  • If you decide to go back to the woman you broke up with to propose to me, don't propose to her 6 weeks later. 

 BTW, BF said I didn't have anything to worry about. I said, good, then you don't either, LOLZ. 

Your Twitter feed: 


Me, too, Astrid.


The other night I did something that I had not done in more than 25 years, I went cross country skiing. The weather was perfect to enjoy being outside and as soon as the skis were under my feet it all came back to me. The trails across the open white fields were straight and smooth. The back kicks were high and the strides smooth and long. The climb up the hills seemed effortless and the return glide down the other side was fast and refreshing with the wind briskly brushing my face. I commented to myself that the speed felt just a bit slow, but brushed it off as my waxing of the skis is a skill that I never seemed to master.

I was enjoying the outing with a few of my buddies and as it is when guys get together, it turned into a competition. Do not think anyone really won or got the best of anyone, just a fun time out.

Back at the lodge while getting out of the wet boots and socks I noticed something when tossing my wet gloves on the floor near the fire to dry, the top of my right foot was in great pain. 

 The pain is what I think caused me to awaken suddenly at 2:00 AM and realize that my winter outing was just a dream. 

 I am not too sure why I went skiing in my dreams, but I am happy that Mr. RA let me finish the wonderful time I had out with my friends. I remained awake for the rest of the day and thought about my adventure many times setting around at the office. It still brings a little smile to my face thinking about it now.

Just because I have slowed down a lot lately it doesn’t mean that I have given up yet, I still fight on. And who knows, one day I just may strap on some skis and make an afternoon of it.


Remember when I used to write every day? Seems crazy now. Maybe it was crazy back then, too, at least to everyone else.

Still not running.

However, there's progress at last. Today is the third day in a row where there's been little or no pain at the MCL site. Not going to run until at least Saturday, and that will only be something really short, testing things out. This morning I sort of felt something on my way down the stairs, letting me know that this isn't over just yet.

Speaking of Saturday, this weekend is the 2018 Snowbuster Festival of Virtual Races. Hope everyone who isn't hurt is planning their runs. Send me a note with your results by next Wednesday (that's a sort of soft deadline, of course).

The drain repair went well on Saturday. I made only one trip to the Home Depot - no mean feat in itself. I'd already cut out the side wall of the cabinet to investigate and saw what I was going to need. Coupler/Adapter, length of PVC, elbow, adapter to connect to the drain. Figured to re-use the old j-pipe and I've had primer and cement in the basement, left over from previous plumbing work. Sometimes it pays not to throw out leftovers.

Getting much leverage with a saw was a challenge, so I used my Dremel to cut the old copper pipe most of the way through, as far as I could reach. There wasn't much clearance behind it to the wall, so when I got to a certain point, there was no angle that worked. Hacksaw for the last inch. My elbow had a slightly different angle than the old one, but it was close enough with some adjustment of the trap from the sink. I'd say the only nasty part of this was cleaning out the old one, with had a 1/8" of sludge in it. Anything to avoid an extra trip to HD, amiright? Things went together easily after that. Screwed on the coupler, cut and glued the elbow and adapter (after checking the measurements 3-5 times), tightened all the other connections and ran the water. No leaks!

One of the first things I noticed when I opened the side of the cabinet was a pair of small rubber balls on the floor. If you can picture with me these custom cabinets, you can imagine my surprise at finding anything inside this absolutely (apparently) closed off section in the corner of the kitchen. A mystery for another day, I thought, putting them on the counter.

About an hour later, T-Rex came downstairs. I've been up, eaten breakfast, fixed the drain, and cleaned everything up by then, because college student. Suddenly, she squealed, "My bouncy balls! Where did you find my bouncy balls? I lost these when I was five!"

WTH? My daughter is on drugs.

One of her games back in the day was taking her handful of little rubber balls, tossing them across the floor and chasing them down. Like playing fetch with your dog. Unnoticed by me all this time is a gap underneath the cabinet where it hangs over the floor. A gap just large enough for a tiny little bouncy ball with the right amount of speed at the proper angle to pop through and behind the wall. Suddenly, all my daughter's emotional issues have been explained. Trauma from the lost bouncy ball.


Me, I'm just working through the trauma of an old runners' injury, wondering if this is the final nail in the coffin. Do I need to keep placeholders in my display for future marathons or am I done? Will there be another Boston, or was 2016 my one moment of glory? Was my last marathon ever that hamstring plagued party in Rehoboth? Brooding. Moody. That's how I roll.


Hey Loop!

It's been a while. Last year I got burned out on running. 2017 was the first year since 2010 where I hadn't completed a marathon. I started a 6-day-a-week kickboxing and resistance training program after winning a 10-week session at a silent auction from a 5k, and about week 6, I found out I actually liked it. The miles because fewer and fewer, with the occasional 5k. But I'm also broke as a joke, so I volunteered a bunch as well to keep my FOMO at bay.

I signed up for the Flying Pig Marathon (#14) and wrote a training plan in my calendar. Then January and February happened, and as a band director, it came with late nights with pep band, jazz band, honor bands, musical rehearsal, judging gigs, and not running. Now, I'm 2 months out from a marathon and feel like I'm going to have to "Cram" for this again just like I have done in the past. I'm disappointed that I keep doing this to myself. I am ok with dropping down to the half, but I will wait another month to do so, mostly because you get a Finisher's Jacket this year at Flying Pig for the marathon because it's the 10th year. They also have a pretty forgiving time limit (7 hours), so I feel like if I can get a solid 18 miler in before then, I can "survive." If not, I will run my first Ohio halfmarathon

In a couple weeks, I'm running Ragnar Tennessee  (#4) with the team I ran Chicago with - Runderbolts and Lightning. Any of you folks going? In April, I have a halfmarathon in Washington, IA (#53) and then Flying Pig 2 weeks after. 

In personal news, I'm in a funk. I'm hoping the season change will help, but it's a struggle right now. As a people-pleaser, I need to remember to take care of me first before those around me. I'm looking forward to my 2nd summer of grad school at Kansas State and hope to keep my 4.0. 

Hope you're all doing well! Let me know if I'll see you at Ragnar TN or at Flying Pig!



I took all that time off, post-Wineglass. Months. I slept in and redecorated my house and painted walls and spent time with friends and watched a lot of baseball and football.

It was good and it was necessary. It was eye-opening to realize that there are other things to find joy in. But the goodness and necessity of time off ran its course.

I started feeling restless lately. Like something wasn’t there that belonged there. I didn’t think it was running, because I didn’t have a sudden raging desire to run all the time. I spent a month or so after the New Year in a sort of funk. Some other struggles and difficulties that are normally just a part of my daily life suddenly looked mountainous. My birthday came and went and I had some low days of feeling panic… I’d hit my mid 30s and even though I wasn’t miserable or unhappy, I also wasn’t exactly happy. I felt bland, mediocre. Like my life was a car on cruise, driving through flat, boring, changeless scenery. Coasting.

I’d lost my joie de vivre.

I’m sure you already know what that means, a French phrase for “vivacity”, “exuberance” and, more completely: “the joy of living”.  Not just life as a noun--- people, places and things, but life as a verb, and action.  It’s entirely possible to love life- the people and things in it- while being completely bored and complacent with all the acts and experiences of living. And that’s where I was… lacking the joy of life in action, feeling nothing where I used to be lusting for living… being alive, acting alive, feeling alive. 

And one day, after a particularly difficult series of days that had nothing whatsoever to do with running and everything to do with living, I remembered running. Racing, especially, and what it did for me. It brought me confidence, strength, poise, courage, the lessons of testing my physical limits and pushing through them. It purged me of so much uncertainly and hurt and self-esteem issues, bringing me to love myself and my body for what I was capable of. When I raced and ran, I felt free. I was living… breathing in air and sunshine and wind and wanting more. Always more.

It was time to recapture that.

 I started by making plans. Marathon plans.

Memorial Day weekend. Buffalo. Flat (mostly) and fast. Two hour drive from home. Run the marathon Sunday and have a Monday vacation day to recuperate before heading back to a job that requires me on my feet for 5-6 hours straight.

Yes, it might be hot and humid for an end-of-May marathon, but that’s part of the gamble. There’s always another marathon around the corner. Of course the goal is to shave another few minutes off that 3:38 time… 3:34 is what I’d feel comfortable with, sub-3:30 is what I have tucked away in my wildest-dreams corner.

 But life is full and there are not enough hours in a day! I work 25-30 hours a week… DH works upwards of 50, which means I have all the housework and all the loose ends stuff with the kids to tie up on my own. Kids… as they get older, the time involved does not lessen. Suddenly, they have their activities and things to get to—and are still young enough to need parental oversight for almost everything. We’re increasingly involved in our church and community. We have an active social life with lots of wonderful friends. I love all that, because my friends are awesome and my faith is very important to me... but yessssss, it takes up chunks of time in which I don’t run. 

But you fit things in the best you can, keep your priorities straight and hope it’s enough for the running department. I know that when I toed the line at Wineglass, I was undertrained and lacking confidence. BUT, I managed- on heart, determination, and enough experience with marathon defeat and failure to push a little beyond where training had taken me. Maybe this time I’ll be lucky enough to get 90% of the runs in, escape injury, and get to Buffalo with more confidence and my victory at Wineglass to build on. We’ll see what the next 12 weeks bring!

So now I’m at that early stage in marathon training where I’m easing back into hard workouts and longer runs and increased mileage and dang, everything feels really tough but at the same time, SO GOOD. l look at my little 4 x 1200m workout that completely exhausted me and think, how am I ever going to run 6 x 1 mile repeats and 3 x 2s? Then I run a strong 8 miler with 6 miles of tempo on the treadmill… starting at 8:00 pace and ending in the sub-7:40s… and think, MAAAAAAAYBE? After all, I’ve been through this a few times and I know how it happens: Training. Consistency. Hard work. Determination. Sacrifice. And a whole bunch of luck, good or bad: injuries, illness, life events and circumstance, weather on race day, blah-blah. Marathoning is a gamble, one that can make dreamers and fools—and eventually, maybe, if the sun shines on us, victors- of all of us. I already made it through a 3 week session of bronchitis and step throat and sinus infection crud just before training started, so let’s hope I got all the bad luck out of the way.

In the meantime… remember my last post? How to Lose A (Non-Runner) in 10 Days?> https://loopsters.org/index.php?/entry/294-how-to-lose-a-non-runner-in-10-days/ Did any of you wonder if it lasted, if the guy stuck with it, if he ended up truly joining the fellowship of runners… or if it just wasn’t the thing, it was too hard, it required too much…  ???????

Well, that’s my friend C. He’s running his first race on St. Pat’s Day and chose the 10k for his racing debut. He ran 26 miles this past week, his highest week… including a 24:47 5k on an easy run, a 3 mile tempo at 8:00 flat and today, his longest run of 8 miles.  Last weekend he went to his local high school track all by himself and ran an 8x400m workout when I told him to run 6x400m. One day a couple weeks ago he texted a selfie… him out there running with this satisfied look on his face, and the words: “Just ran my first 10k.” On his own! Lately he bought some running gear on one of my Running Warehouse orders … a long-sleeved tech shirt, running jacket, beanie, tights... couldn’t hide the grin when he came around for the next run in his sleek, legit running gear and neither could I! He'd also had the sickness crud I did, only a week or two earlier, and whined about all the fitness he’s missing in one week off. Gotta get back to running, he says. And on one of our last runs, he mentioned something along the lines of “once I run a marathon…” !!!!!!  You know there’s no coming back once that thought is planted.

Yep, C.’s got it, and got it bad.

And I am proud as punch. He’s MY protégé. I made a runner out of him! Except… he’s the one doing the work. I’m just motivating and coaching. But strangely, it’s helping me, too, in this whole ‘joie de vivre’ hunt. It's like going through that exciting new-runner phase all over again. There have been days when I could have found an excuse not to run, but meeting up with C. meant I got it done, or did some extra. Miles go by faster when you’re chatting; it’s fun having a local running buddy after years of training mostly alone. And I’m already discovering how much fresher my legs are for speedwork days when I run inbetween/easy days with C, because our conversational pace is where I’m actually supposed to be doing easy runs at!! At the same time, we’re both extremely competitive... so there we are on the gym treadmills, eyeing the other’s paces during speed sessions and bumping up our own. Or racing the last .2 of a run outdoors. He’s playing basketball once a week and doing some boot camp on the side as cross training and told me recently he’s feeling great physically as well as more positive mentally. Which is exactly what I hoped to accomplish with getting him started running. It helps that my husband and I are friends with him…  he is like a brother to us. He goes to our church, hangs out with our family, shares meals at our table, watches TV and movies with us on weekends. Going thru a divorce is rough, one of the hardest things in life... but friendship helps, maybe? And running. Running always helps.

So my next race(s)?! The local St. Pat’s Day race is a 5k/10k double header. I plan to race the 5k moderately hard to see what I can do after not racing a 5k since last May (holy crap, it’s been that long!). I am both nervous and stoked to race again. I will then pace C. for the 10k, which takes place an hour after the 5k start. My fervent prayer for that is to have enough left in the legs to pace him properly to the goal of a sub-50 minute finish.  I’m confident he has that in him if the weather is favorable. He has the grit and competitive spirit of a good racer. Yes, there will be a race report!  

The past months have solidified for me: running and racing is just part of who I am, it is stitched on the fabric of my soul. In being away from it, I slowly lost a part of who I was. Only to wake up one day and find that niggling nudge turned into a full-blown ache. I missed it, the running and racing… the nerves, the pain, the finish-line feeling.  I missed long runs. I missed the wind in my face. I missed the hard leanness of my body when I am fully trained, my leg muscles ripped. I missed the invincible feeling of running for hours, stamina fed by sweat, heart pumping, elevated heart rate, multiplied blood volume, and expanded lungs. I missed the sweetness of total exhaustion. I missed the deep sleep and the insatiable hunger that lets me eat large amounts of food and have it all burned back into energy. I missed the sparkle in my eye, the bounce in my step, the vitality. I missed the intoxicating rush of endorphins after a tough workout or a race where I left it all out there.

I missed my old self, too. The badass, competitive, passionate Peg…  with too much laundry and endless pairs of shoes cluttering the stairs and always worrying about a tweak or a twinge that might turn to injury. The Peg that loves filling in all the miles on spreadsheets and obsessing over Strava data and plotting races and blogging about running. The Peg that lives and breathes the joy of life, the lust for living… the “joie de vivre”.  The Peg that is always scared of her goals and overthinks everything and has a vicious race kick. The Peg that ran. But she’s here again. 44 miles for this week, including 2 speed workouts, and a long run of 10 miles. Legs that ache with fatigue. Invigorated mind and spirit. And a race in 2 weeks. That’s more like it.

garbanzo a gogo

“Today’s the day,” he says. “The four minute mile.”

Roger just died, so he’s hanging out with me. He’s tired of heaven (gold roads and no cinder) and wants to be back on the track. I guess mine’s as good as any.

It’s a cool day, slight breeze, feels fast. He says I should do it. I MUST do it. Four-minute mile. He can live it again one more time, vicariously through me.

I am skeptical. A four-minute mile seems a bit ambitious. I have no spikes. My track is metric. And I’m lazy and slow. Roger is undeterred.

“Four minutes,” he insists. “Unlikely,” I reply.

“You can do it,” he tells me. “Did you know more people have climbed Mt. Everest than have run four minutes?” I’m not sure if he’s thought this line of reasoning as an incentive through entirely. But it was maybe the greatest run of all time, and he’s never asked anything of me before. It’s worth a try.

We line up at the SCC track. There are only a few people here to witness the event. Three football players are running drills on the grass we’re not allowed to go on. A fast guy is running 400s in lane 1. I have chosen lane 9 for my feat. Or my feet. Since four laps in lane 1 isn’t a mile anyhow, I figure 9 is as good a place as any.

We count down, the imaginary gun sounds, and we’re off. There are no spectators, but Roger says it doesn’t matter. “The spectators fail to understand — and how can they know — the mental agony through which an athlete must pass before he can give his maximum effort,” he tells me. I try to remember this as I come through the first lap. I’m in trouble. I’m already breathing too hard. My lungs are burning, my head is screaming what the hell. We head into the second lap.

I mention that I’m only  a quarter of the way in and death is already imminent. “The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win,” he replies. I had no idea driving was allowed in the mile. This explains how he was able to do it so quickly.

I finish the second lap with my lungs on fire. Note to self: Avoid the jalapeño GU before extreme exertion. The third lap looms. I desperately want to quit. “It is the brain, not the heart or lungs, that is the critical organ,” he says. I’m thinking it’s way easier for him, given that he’s dead now and appears to be trying to take me with him. But I look for the next gear.

Lap three lasts an eternity. The world is a blur. I’m no longer able to think rationally. I’ve never hurt this intensely. My mind flashes to Cassidy in “Once A Runner,” but all I come up with is David singing “I Think I Love You.”  400 to go. Roger says I can do it. “However ordinary each of us may seem, we are all in some way special, and can do things that are extraordinary, perhaps until then…even thought impossible,” he assures me. I grit my teeth and push for the last turn. Onward to the impossible.

Between gasps, I ask him what the finish was like for that first sub-4. “Those last few seconds seemed never-ending,” he says. “The faint line of the finishing tape stood ahead as a haven of peace, after the struggle. The arms of the world were waiting to receive me if only I reached the tape without slackening my speed. If I faltered, there would be no arms to hold me and the world would be a cold, forbidding place, because I had been so close. I leapt at the tape like a man taking his last spring to save himself from the chasm that threatens to engulf him.” If I wanted a cold, forbidding place, I’d live in Michigan. I kick it up a gear, one last battle against the pain.

After forever, the blessed finish line approaches. The chasm engulfs me. I hit the stop button as I throw myself across the line, gasping for the oxygen that has suddenly been drained from the track.

I look down at my watch. I haven’t dared peek at it till now, not wanting to know my splits. All or nothing, I figure. Did we do it? Did I finally shatter the four-minute barrier?

Almost. 12:48.7. Sooooo close.

I trot around the track, cooling down, trying to process. So painful to push that hard and then fall short by only eight minutes and 50 seconds.

But Roger seems OK with it. “Failure is as exciting to watch as success, provided the effort is absolutely genuine and complete,” he says.

And that makes it all worthwhile. My effort was absolutely genuine and complete. You line up, you give it your best, you go get a Frosty afterward. That’s all you can do.

We all have our four minute mile. Or maybe our Everest. Maybe the numbers aren’t that important. You just gotta keep climbing.

RIP, Sir Roger. You’ll always be my favorite James Bond …




February 2018

Sometimes you have to take a step backwards to appreciate how far you've come.

Total mileage for the month:  254.7 (in comparison:  January - 207).

  • Jan. 29-Feb. 4:  57
  • Feb. 5-11:  61.1
  • Feb. 12-18:  66.2
  • Feb. 19-25:  62.2
  • Feb. 26-March 4:  projected at 62


A trip to Bass Pro isn't noteworthy when you live

in a suburb of Springfield, but we didn't do very

much this month!


  • None this month.  I was going to run a half for fun in lieu of my long run on February 24, but I just didn't have it in me to go to a race that week.


  • Feb. 9:  4 mile tempo in 24:02 via 6:03, 6:06, 5:58, 5:54 (6:00 average), with 3.1 warm-up and 2 cool-down.  Tempo Friday is never a thing on my training schedule, but Tempo Tuesday did not work out, and because of that I was extremely thankful to hit this one.  I didn't even have my usual "I should have run 3 seconds faster to average 5:59" thoughts!  I was happy with this for my first real workout since Houston, and although I ran a faster 4 mile tempo over the summer, I was not in my present state of post-marathon de-training for that one.  My goal pace range was 5:57-6:07, and all considering I would have been happy enough even if I'd run all 4 miles at 6:07.  
  • Feb. 13: 4 x 1 mile at tempo in 6:04, 6:07, 6:08, 6:10 (6:07 average) with 0.5 recoveries, 2.2 warm-up, and 2 cool-down (goal pace of 5:57-6:07).  This was much harder than it should have been considering I ran 4 miles straight at tempo faster than this the previous week, but often the split tempos are harder for me with the stopping and re-starting (plus I am just running kind of hot and cold right now), plus it was windy.  I fell hard on a patch of black ice during my Feb. 12 run (detailed below in the highlights/thoughts/randomness section), so I was sore from that, which probably didn't help.  Meh.
  • Feb. 18:  Progressive fast finish long run (11 base, then dropping 10-15 seconds/mile for the final 3 miles).  My average for the whole run was 7:11, with the final 3 miles in 6:54, 6:46, 6:33.  Although I ran the workout as written and before I started picking it up I wasn't even sure I'd be able to drop under 7:00, I also kept thinking about how I used to fast finish these at 6:00 pace, which was disheartening.
  • Feb. 20: Fartlek of 3 x 3'2'1' pushes with recovery equal to the next push (2.2 warm-up, cool-down to 8.3 miles total).  I ran this during a storm (the entire week of Feb. 19-25 was a storm), and I didn't even look at my push paces until a few days later, because I was already feeling discouraged about my training and knew that due to running in insane wind and rain, these would not be good (they were 5:58-6:58, with the 6:58 being a 1:00 all uphill into the 30+ mph wind).  I put in a hard effort and tried to be okay with that.
  • Feb.  26:  5 mile tempo in 30:00 via 6:05, 6:04, 5:58, 6:01, 5:51 (6:00 average), with 2.1 warm-up and 2.4 cool-down.  Only I could run 30-flat, ha!  I've gotta break 30 next time.  I haven't run a 5 mile tempo in a few years - my coach has previously always taken me from 4 miles to 6 miles - so almost by default this was going to be a PR workout (pre-coach I think my best tempos were in the 6:30s), but even without that * I was pleased with it.  I was not feeling confident at all going in, and told myself to just try for 6:10-6:15 pace (even though my goal range was 5:57-6:07).  I looked at my watch about a half mile in and I was at 6:10 pace, but once I got going I got in a groove and knew I could hit the pace range my coach had given me!  I know he won't give me paces he doesn't believe I can hit, but my confidence has been really poor recently.  This workout helped it, but I'll feel better if I can string together more good runs.  Spring coming will have to help with that.
  • Double on Feb. 27...the return!  I missed running them, but just like in January, it was nice to not have to get out twice on stupid cold days.
  • Strides on Feb. 5, 12, 19, and a few before all workouts. 
  • Full body strength workouts on Feb. 3, 7, 10, 14, 17, 20, 24, and 28.  I'm adapting to my new strength and agility routine, and no longer get super sore after each session.
  • Favorite workout:  It's a tie between the 4 mile and 5 mile tempos, because they both helped me keep the faith that I can have a solid season (a large number of runs this month made me lose faith!).

Long Runs/Medium Long Runs:

  • I added my midweek medium long runs to this section this month...I wanted to feel like I accomplished a little more, plus they are almost as long as my weekend long runs at this phase in my training!
  • Feb. 3:  13.2 base (7:39).  I was exhausted from the first step of this run, coming off a 3-day work trip, so it was just about getting in the miles.  I ran a course I typically avoid because it's not "fast", but it's beautiful and all of the climbing was good for me both training-wise and to prevent me from comparing paces!  I was solo on this one.
  • Feb. 7: 11.1 base (7:30). I woke up to mildly icy roads that seemed dangerous, so did not run this at 5:30 a.m. as planned.  With a strike of luck (i.e., work cancellation), I was able to get out late morning and meet up with Jessi to get the miles in.  We dodged and slowed down for ice during the run, but it was much easier to navigate in daylight, and running in the sunlight was wonderful!
  • Feb. 10:  12 base (7:27).  The was The Run I Thought Wouldn't Happen.  We were supposed to get hit with an ice storm beginning around 2 a.m., but Jessi and I planned to meet if the roads were decent.  I woke up at 6 a.m. to completely dry roads, which made me very happy!  We'd both run workouts the day before so we took it easy, which was also nice.  The ice started falling shortly after we finished this run.
  • Feb. 14: 11.1 base (7:17).  This was a wonderful Galentine's Day run in 46*!  I met up with Missy, Jessi, and Rebecca to run what Missy calls "The 11 mile death loop".  It isn't really, but the name has stuck.  1 mile of it runs on a rural highway that actually has traffic before 6:00 a.m. - but the traffic is nearly all going into Springfield and we run the same direction that it is going (on the left side of the road) so that it's primarily on the opposite side of the road, and I never feel unsafe.
  • Feb. 18:  14.4 with 3 progressive fast finish (7:11 for the whole run), described above.  This run had to be bumped from Saturday to Sunday due to Saturday morning's 6+ hours of 35* and pouring rain (cold rain is the worst!).  Everyone ran different distances this day, but I had company for most of the run:  Rebecca (8 miles), Zach (10 miles), and Jessi (12 miles).
  • Feb. 21: 11.4 base (7:51), solo, tired, and patchy black ice.  Since falling on Feb. 12 I became pretty timid around ice.
  • Feb. 24: 14.1 base (7:19), with Missy, Zach, and Claudio.  It pretty much rained all day except for during our run, so we lucked out on this one.
  • Feb. 28:  11 base (7:09) with Missy, Rebecca, and Zach to wrap up the month!  If you throw out my icky run on Feb. 21, my pace showed a nice downward progression throughout the month.  It is difficult not to compare my current runs to my best, but I am 16 weeks out from Grandma's and I think I am around where I was, or perhaps even a little faster than I was, when I was 16 weeks out from CIM.


  • Missouri winter weather sucks for training.  This is not a highlight, but is a fact!  I don't do well with uncertainty, and there was so much weather uncertainty this month.  There were times we had no snow forecasted and then it began snowing and my weather app immediately changed to 3 inches of snow, but there were also times when I thought for sure I wouldn't be able to run based on the forecast, then woke up to perfect road conditions and headed out!
  • I did my first indoor run of the season due to icy roads on Feb. 5:  8 miles, which entailed 60 laps on the YMCA indoor track.  I'm glad I'm generally able to get outdoors, because that type of training is not nearly as enjoyable and does not seem sustainable for me!  My second indoor run was that same week, on Feb. 11, on my home treadmill that I hadn't used on 2 years, because the roads were too hazardous to drive to the YMCA (every church in our area cancelled services on this day).  I initially figured I should just skip my run, but by about 10:30 a.m. I caved and used the treadmill, mainly because I only needed 4 more miles to get over 60 that week.  I didn't get injured from it, which has been my fear after I got injured from it in early 2016, but it was also just one short and easy run.
  • On Feb. 12, the roads were still an ice rink and schools were cancelled, but it warmed up nicely and I was able to get out during the day (I have a plethora of work cancellations when school is out for winter weather).  I wanted to run as early as I could to give myself more time between this 9 miler and my workout the following morning, so I went out around 11:15 a.m.  Not even a half mile into the run, I traversed what I thought was a wet spot on the road, but it included some black ice and I fell down hard.  I picked myself up and stubbornly continued my run, but from then on I walked over any even slightly questionable spots on the road.  I ended up really sore in the subsequent days in my right knee, hip, and rib.  I think I bruised my rib in a very minor way because it hurt to breathe slightly for about a week...but I didn't miss any runs.
  • I've run every day since 1/27/18...the streak begins again.


It only looks pretty


I took this the morning of Feb. 12, the day I fell running at lunch

Non-running life events:

  • I spent 3 days in the St. Louis area for a work conference at the beginning of the month.  I don't do that much overnight travel for work, aside from Kansas City trips on which I always stay with a friend, and having a hotel room to myself is always a weird experience!  The first day is, "Yay, I have quiet, I can do whatever I want, and I get to eat in bed!  Work is buying me appetizers, salmon, and dessert!"  The third day is, "This is awful, I hate this silence, I am so bored, and I hate eating out."  Hah!  I read a lot and actually never turned on my hotel room's TV.
  • Valentine's Day, which was more exciting for Albani than anyone else (because, candy!), but we all had fun nonetheless.  Jon and I have never been big on celebrating it, but always exchange cards and something small, typically a food item.  I gave him a box of Sour Patch Kids that he'd mentioned craving the weekend before, and he gave me mixed nuts and cashews, which I go through by the tin during heavy training.
  • We enjoyed watching the winter Olympics, but I am ready for them to add cross-country!
  • We were kind of boring this month.  Everyone did a lot of reading.


A lazy day at home spent in pajamas


My lazy day activity aside from reading (cross-stitching)


Albani made a paper mache ice cream cone

(minus the final paint job here)


February crafting at the library


Bandit has claimed the agility ladder


Lots of reading..


We always need something at Lowe's (and by

we I mean my husband)


My new favorite sports bra!


Bandit seems to have put on winter weight too



It was only supposed to be 10 miles, and easy at that. The wind roared. I could feel our house brace against it, hear the trees bend to it. I pulled the blanket up tighter around my head and let the chill pass through me, rattling my shoulders, before sleep took me again. But not for long.

The power had gone out sometime in the middle of the night. Erratic, window-rattling gusts outside had replaced the soothing white noise of our fan inside. I slept light and woke often.

When at last it was time to get up, I tottered downstairs – sluggish and heavy from the weeks’ accumulated mileage. Only 10 miles, I thought, pulling on shoes and slipping into a windbreaker.

“Bring your phone!” Rachel called from upstairs.

“Ok,” I said with reluctance, while rooting through our basket of gear to find the appropriate armband.

I took a deep breath and pulled open the front door. I stepped outside and stiffened, but only a strong breeze brushed across my face. Not so bad, I thought, and started off at a trot, dodging the branches, papers, and containers that littered the circle by our house. Something had happened here.

Traces of my tempo run from Tuesday still lingered in the tops of my quads as I made the climb to the road.

The main drag was eerily still, with the exception of the steady whooshing in the treetops. People had heeded the call to stay inside, and a touch of regret dropped into my stomach. A forecast of sustained 40 mph winds with gusts up to 70mph will do that. Treadmill? I thought. Ten miles on the treadmill? Worth the risk. I pressed on.

The air around me suddenly went still, but off in the distance, I could hear the wind gathering. It rushed through the trees behind me first and then was on me all at once – a tidal wave lifting and pushing me forward. I turned my legs over quicker, trying to keep up with the pace, until the wave finally receded.

A few miles later, I descended onto the gravel path that wound along the stream. The woods moaned. Bare trees swayed and rocked violently against one another. Sharp breaks cracked the air as boughs strained and then snapped, sending branches crashing onto the trail. My pace quickened.

I surveyed the carnage that the storm had delivered in the middle of the night, cognizant that the damage was not done yet. Despite my best efforts to blow through the woods quickly, fallen limbs blocked my path.

I emerged from the woods and let my breathing (and my heartbeat) return to normal. When the wind abated, it was just another tired, Friday run and I fell into an easy cadence. I recalled the previous month, the illness, the injury, the lingering illness. And how for the past two weeks, I had finally been able to string together good, consistent training. I kept thinking, If I can just get to March healthy…. And here I was, the wind washing clean the stains of the month prior.

I retraced my steps down the backstretch of where I had tempoed on Tuesday – albeit at a much slower clip now – buoyed by the optimism of how good my legs and lungs felt finally working together.

I made the turn for home. The world was black and white. Steely clouds raced across the sky. Debris tornadoes spun up suddenly – leaves, wrappers, and paper caught in the vortex – and just as quickly fell apart. Errant snowflakes whipped by. Chaos reigned. A bad trip.

The wave of wind that rushed behind me on the way out was now a wall I had smashed full on into. I strained against the blow. My hat flirted with abandoning me, but I pulled it down hard again. I relaxed against the invisible force pushing me back, feeling myself lifted with every footfall. When it would suddenly relent, I surged forward, gaining as much ground as possible.

I returned to the circle and began the slow walk back to the house, relieved and invigorated. As I unlaced my shoes, I kept reciting Hemingway in my head, “None of it was important now. The wind blew it out of his head.”



Nothing seems to make runners more prone to making huge racing plans than being injured but I'll add sleep deprivation to that.  Despite me saying "I'm not signing up for any races in 2018"... screw it.  Life is short.  Too short.  I've got a few trail races I'm eyeballing and I'll figure it out soon.  I need something to focus on and work towards.  I am only getting 2-3 hours of sleep in a row at night and some nights my total is 4-5 hours.  Chris (boyfriend) has the most trouble at night with pain and trying to sleep.  Some nights it's fine and he only wakes me once or twice.  The result is I'm approaching peak sleep deprivation and my judgement and decision making is possibly not the best.  

Lucy, the dog that belongs to my boyfriend, has decided she's not at all happy about the current situation of being at my house for an extended period of time.  At her house she gets to run free in the woods behind the house, chase squirrels, etc. At my house (in town) she has to be on a leash to go for a walk until we get to a quiet trail and then she can run off leash in the woods.  She wants Chris to take her outside for walks but doing laps around the yard is all he's capable of so far. 

I took her for my morning run on Thursday morning but it was all in town and in the dark and she didn't go off-leash.  She was not thrilled.  I think I'll just take her for runs and walks in the daylight after work so we can go on the wooded trail and she can run free.  She's a great off-leash trail runner because she doesn't let me get too far out of sight and always listens when I tell her "too far" or "let's go" when she's too far ahead or too far behind me.  She's also decided to stop going #2 and isn't drinking much water.  Colonel Cupcake's wife Beth knows way more about dogs than I do so I consulted her and she said that Lucy is stressed, depressed, and not happy.    13 more days and they go home.   We'll all survive.  

I'm crafting some fun running plans for summer and fall... it's doing my soul good to focus on that right now.


Good morning! The title of this week’s post comes from a song (of course) that always has me thinking back to my Navy deployment days. It was quite popular overseas.


This shirt should have at least one check mark now.

The title of this week’s post is relevant because it’s about how I’m feeling right now. My PT is going very well. I think so. My PTs think so too.

I’m able to do a few more things this week. I’m lifting weights more often. I’m rowing. I hit the pool. I even started using kettlebells for the last 2 weeks. I’m seriously getting my butt kicked with just basic kettlebell swings. There are a ton of benefits to doing them, that’s for sure. After just a few circuits, I’m a sweaty puddle on the floor.

There have been several noticeable improvements to my overall fitness. I didn’t do before and after measurements of my guns or anything, but when I do my usual flex-off in the mirror they do look a little bigger (I don’t REALLY do that). My balance and stability seem better. Body weight exercises seem a bit easier.

Way back when I first got hurt, I wrote that I would come back better and stronger. I’ll be honest when I tell you that there have been times during these 11 long weeks that I haven’t wasn’t so sure. I feel like I’ve passed through the worst of it and I see the beautiful light at the end of the tunnel.

My confidence is growing every single week. The little exercises that were SO challenging are becoming easier and easier. My limp is just about gone, other than when I push a little hard at PT or at the gym.

I signed up for a 5k in April! I have promised that I won’t get any sort of last minute competitive fire and overdo it. I will WALK it. I walked a 1/2 mile this morning on the treadmill to “get ready” for it. 🙂


Image result for malcolm in the middle power walking gif

Competitive fire.

My confidence is so high right now. It’s not a matter of “if”. It’s a matter of “when”. My goal is seriously to PR within 6 months of being a full time runner again. It sounds aggressive and maybe it is. The way I see it, my body knows how to run and it knows what it takes to run hard. When this is all over, I’ll have spent many weeks improving the things that my body DIDN’T know how to do.

Thanks again for all of the help you’ve given with advice and encouragement. It means a lot. I can’t say that enough. I do need help with one more thing…we need to figure out which race I’ll run to get my PR!

Keep Running Girl

I can hear the rain outside as I get ready.  There’s a sound the wet highway makes outside my building and I’ve learned to judge how bad it is by the sound.  I’m not looking out the dark windows.  I don’t need to.

It’s an important workout today.  40T The first one of the cycle.  Sure I have more than enough time to make up any fitness if I skip but missed runs are a bad habit that I don’t want to start.  It chips away.

I check my phone out of habit.  No text.  No email.  I feel a thin, sharp, stab in my chest that I’m not prepared for.  A splinter working its way out.  I refuse to give it any more thought.

I change clothes again.  I never know what to wear in this weather.  You will be wet.  Your hands will be wet.  Your feet will get soaked.  It’s too cold to enjoy the rain.  You can either over dress or be wet and cold.  It’s about minimizing discomfort.  There is no comfortable.

I procrastinate as much as possible before I head out.  I get three floors down before deciding that the cold and the wet are unacceptable.  I turn around and walk three floors up before deciding that I’m more intimidated by my run than I am of the rain.  Discomfort is a poor excuse and being comfortable is only seen as the default for the spoiled. 

I turn around and walk the five flights down and out of my building before I lose momentum.  The rain is cold and hurts my face but I am determined.  My workout calls for 10 minutes warm up, 20 minutes gaining steady speed to 5K, 10 minutes cool down.

I speed up.

I speed up.

I tune out the rain and the cold and the sloshing in my shoes.  I tune out the one or two other runners I see on the piers. 

I am alone. 

I am getting faster.

I am uncomfortable.

The mile clicks over as I hit my last two fast minutes.  I hit 7:35 pace and hold on.  For those two minutes my lungs are on fire, burning out the splinter.  I am running ugly but I am running fast.

And then I’m done.  It’s the cool down.  I am soaked and I am cold and I am uncomfortable but I am damn happy with myself.  


The Year of the Dog is upon us—and no, that’s not a reference to the state of my fitness.  Although my times may be lagging and my tongue may be wagging, I’ve actually returned to a fairly normal training regimen with fairly normal mileage.  This particular Dog headlines the Lunar New Year in China, and that means it was time for the 40th Annual Chinatown Firecracker Run, which I’d somehow managed to avoid over the years.  But when your times become embarrassing, it’s only natural to disguise them by running arduous hill courses that absolutely no one runs fast.  And this one, at least in its first half, was pretty brutal.


I prepared for the race by watching a lot of Winter Olympics and soaking up all that awesome fitness in skintight suits.  I’ve always thought that if I’d grown up in the upper Midwest, I could have been a decent biathlete.  Mrs. AB made it through the Iteva-Edeva figure skating showdown (I fell asleep), but decided that she hates curling (I, on the other hand, found it weirdly fascinating).  And after careful consideration, I decided that the most entertaining Winter Olympics sport is that one in which snowboarders race four at a time down a crazy series of hills and do death-defying leaps while trying not to crash into one another.  The Winter Olympics are truly comfort food on a cold February night, and the only real downside is seeing the same commercials over and over again.  I mean, why was Mikaela Shiffrin in such a rush to get out of that ice bath?  Did she suddenly realize it was cold?  Was her Visa card about to expire?

But I digress.

I also prepared for the Chinatown race on my job.  I’m currently doing a long-term assignment as a middle school P.E. sub, and once a week the kids run Cardio Day.  For approximately 25 minutes, they circle the school track, running as many laps as possible until whistled in (7 laps is a C, 10 is an A+).  Since there are other P.E. teachers and teaching assistants around to supervise and count laps, I was able to join in and show off get a short workout while encouraging the kids.  (For the record, I’ve been able to do as many as 14 laps.)  Then, after work, I would pick up my wife at her school, where I helped her hang an art project of Chinese lanterns from her ceiling.  Our school district is majority Asian, so the Lunar New Year is a fairly big deal.  And it was all coming to a climax in Chinatown on a cold (for L.A., anyway) but sunny Sunday morning.


Where there’s smoke, there are fireworks—100,000 of them.  There was also a dragon, although you could barely see him from the back of the 5K pack.  As Mrs. AB took off with the  crowd of 5K walkers, I found a quiet spot in which to warm up for the 10K run.


We’d taken the Metro to Chinatown, checked our post-race gear, and I gradually shed layers as the 8:30 start approached.  The 10K route starts and ends in Chinatown, and basically makes a big looping orbit of Dodger Stadium in the hills of Elysian Park.  It’s almost all uphill for the first 2.5 miles, and just seems to go on and on.  Whenever I was tempted to look down at Igor and check my pace, I refrained, hearing in my head the famous last line in the movie Chinatown.  This course was no place to worry about speed; it was a test of quads and resolve, and above all, a really great workout.  Later, I found out that my first three splits were 9:23, 10:19, and 9:37.  But right when you reach a clearing and look down at Dodger Stadium, you crest those hills and get your payoff.  It’s ironic: when I was young, I was an assassin on the uphills, but too cautious to make good use of the downhills.  Now, at 64, I often get passed on the uphills, but turn into Lindsey Vonn on the way down, passing many of those same people.

Meanwhile, Mrs. AB was trading photo ops with other walkers in front of the Dodger Stadium.  Is it baseball yet?  Almost!


I was gassed almost to a standstill at the course’s apex, but my splits took a major turn for the better in the second half: 7:54, 8:12, 8:20, with a 7:20 pace on the final, flat .2.  It all came out to 55:13, which is bad for me even when you take the hills into consideration.  But I got the workout I needed.  And then—this being Chinatown—there was food.


Flaky-crust delicacies gave way to Vietnamese noodle soup after a quick search of local restaurants.


No, I wasn’t hungry again an hour later.  But I was ready for a nap…and more Olympics.  There were skating pandas in the Closing Ceremonies—a fitting end to our New Year’s adventure.




So, on Thursdays I used to write about how intervals went on Wednesday.

I love intervals. Intervals are fast, and I like fast. I always liked fast. Not racing 100 mph in the old LTD at the top of the canyon fast. That was just scary. But running fast, leaning in around the tight corner of a XC course or blasting down a hill,just barely in control. Pushing hard through a long set of 400s (10-12-16 of them), with Coach calling out as we thundered across the line, "...57-58-59-60!"

Those were the days.

I think best intervals I've run in the last several years was a set of 6 x miles in 2014. I was in as good a place running as I'd been since ten years before that, at the height of training for Marshall. Strong up the hills, cruising easily down. Six miles, all under 7:00. That was a good day.

Today I'm sitting in the kitchen, watching the snow come down in those great big, light, fluffy flakes you get when it's just barely below freezing. There are three inches or so on the ground so far, with another 3-4 coming by tonight. Not a bad storm as winter snowstorms go. Sure, it's wet and messy and cold and if I were outside running what's supposed to be my Thursday recovery run my feet would be soaking by the first 20 yards. I wouldn't care.

Because today, I'm just sitting in the kitchen because my knee hurts. And yes, I have an appointment with a doctor. I will, anyway, as soon as his office gets back to me with a day and time. I might not mind so much if I'd done something to it that caused this problem. I'm not that old. My joints don't just go all weird spontaneously.


Received my rejection notice from NYCM late last night. Thanks for applying, but you just couldn't beat the 1-to-8 odds.

I'm only sad because I had hoped to hook up with some cool Loopsters in the Big Apple this fall. I have run this race before, so I don't need it for my 50 state quest. In fact, as a repeat race it would set me back. Good news and bad news, I guess.

Discovered a leak under the kitchen sink earlier this week. Seems the old copper drain pipe has reached its end of service period. The last three inches had begun to split. Yikes. So I duck taped it up for the night, then trekked to Home Depot for something a little more permanent. I got a rubber coupling the right size and that's keeping us dry until Saturday when I can make a full replacement. It's behind a wall of the cabinet and I had to cut out a piece to see what I'm dealing with. Seems like when they did their kitchen remodel however many years ago (this isn't the original 1966 kitchen), they'd have provided for access, but no.

And we're setting up appointments for estimates on new siding. It's been due for a few years, but hasn't made it to the top of the priority list at the same time we had the cash until now.

I'd rather talk about intervals.

Keep Running Girl

I'm not sure when I was here last but I'll try to catch up to the present.

Sometime last year (November?  December?) my career took over my life.  Ten hour days became twelve hour days became fourteen hour days.  Weekends shrank from Saturday and Sunday, to Sunday, to Sunday afternoons. I earned a promotion but lost all my fitness.  I decided that I had no choice but to drop Paris (god... it still stings).

Work is finally starting to calm down.  I'm running again and enjoying it.  The second I decided to not try to run Paris, I hopped on a half plan and began enjoying running three or four miles as training, rather than getting through three or four miles when I really should have been running eight or nine.

I'm training for the Brooklyn Half but I'm not going to race it.  I'm going to just use that as a base to jump into training for Wineglass.  I want to pour everything that I have into that race.

Outside of work and running, I'm feeling a little restless.  I decided to end a friendship type thing with someone and while it was the right thing to do, it sucks.  It didn't help that the next person I went out with took me on one of the worst dates of my life and person I was talking to after that I had apparently talked to and then ghosted in 2016 (oops).  Things are really good with my other friends so that's really good.  I have to remember to fight the urge to isolate.

Lastly, I might be on the west coast for a TBD halfmarathon this fall.  My friend in LA is flirting with the idea of running his first and I don't want to miss it. 


     Here in the corrupt state of New York many schools continue to observe a week long Winter break.  During the "energy crisis" which was a lifetime ago (or at least several decades ago) it was decided that the schools should close for a week in order to save energy. A lifetime ago the Winter break week was often the coldest week of Winter.  The energy crisis ended decades ago, but corruption, tradition, or both, has allowed the traditional Winter break week to remain in place even though global warming has turned that same week into something closer to the start of Spring. My sons were off for Winter break last week, even though daytime high temps ranged in the 40s-50s and even up to 70 degrees one day.  Trust me, 70 degrees is not normal here during February, but this has occurred more than once recently thanks to global warming.

     In any event, the kids have the break and I hate Winter, so we booked flights to Key West for the week.  This was our first trip to Key West and it was nice to be back to running in shorts and a T-shirt.  Key West is an island at the end of the chain of Keys, about 90 miles out off the southern tip of Florida.  Strava shows it like this:


     The first couple of runs were easy/short while I adjusted to the heat.  Sometimes the scenery was beautiful:


Sometimes the scenery was... different:



     There are a lot of chickens in Key West.  Apparently they were brought to Key West 100 years ago when cock fighting was legal.  Some escaped or were released and began to multiply.  The island is now a bird sanctuary so the chickens continue to multiply.  The chickens are everywhere and the roosters will wake you up in the AM or simply scare the crap out of you when they crow as you innocently run past.  There are also plenty of coconuts.  Looks like several landed on the hood of this car before being loaded onto the roof.  Coconuts are popular for this:


That's DS #2 enjoying coconut water.  I don't know who the wacky people behind him are, but it appears that the guy really wants a coconut.

     Typically we woke up to 75 degrees.  I would try to get a run in early before temps reached 80.  After a few short/easy runs I ventured out for an 8 mile run.  After running on White Street Pier I headed out Atlantic Avenue hoping the ocean breeze would keep me cool.  It did not keep me cool and there was no shade or relief from the sun as the temp quickly climbed to 80.  If you know me, you know that I love heat and have no problem running at 80 degrees.  In fact, I prefer hot runs over cold runs.  The heat wasn't the issue that day.  The wind/current had washed piles of seaweed onto the beach along Atlantic Avenue and the piles of seaweed were rotting.  The stench of rotting seaweed was overwhelming and after a couple miles there I was forced to turn back and head into town instead. 

     As I ran into "Old Town" I passed Dave's doppleganger.  I stopped, thinking I should get a picture, but decided against it.  I couldn't imagine how I could credibly explain to this stranger why I wanted to take his picture.  He already looked disturbed when I slammed on the brakes and did a double take to make sure it wasn't the "real" Dave.  If it was you Dave, I hope you had a great vacation, but you need to explain why you didn't stop to say hello or run with me.

     After passing "Dave" I ran to the Harbor Walk.  Great views there like this:


Even the butterflies at Key West are interested in splits:


     Stress free running is always the best part of vacation.  After getting in an AM run DW and I would usually relax at the pool with DS #1 and #2.  Sometimes we would walk to Mallory Square to watch the sunset:


     It looked like this every night.  If I ever win the lottery....


My 2018 running year is off to a great start, and I think it’s time to share my Big Goal with you. Putting it in writing for consumption by an audience other than my mom and a few select friends who have gotten previews is absolutely terrifying for me, but I think it’s the good kind of terrifying. Which is largely how I feel about my goal for 2018 in the first place.  

In 2018, I want to BQ minus 5 minutes. That will be a 3:30:00 marathon. A PR by 15 minutes and 21 seconds from last October. And I want to do it at Rehoboth in December.  

Excuse me while I go breathe into a paper bag for a few minutes…  

Ok, I’m back.  

Like I said, 2018 is off to a great start. I’ve run two 5Ks and a 10K in the first two months of the year, and I have a half-marathon coming up this Sunday. In New Orleans! Yay! 

When I decided that pursuing a BQ was going to be a real thing this year, and not just something I passively wanted but didn’t do anything in particular to accomplish, I knew I needed to step up my training game. I’ve been following the Hansons Marathon Method training plan for the last couple of years, and have had success with it, but I knew I wasn’t really making the most of it. I talked myself out of about ⅓ of the interval and tempo workouts in any marathon cycle because I didn’t like doing them, and it was easy to come up with reasons why I should just do an easy run instead. I still made improvements in the marathon, and ran them pretty well, but I wasn’t seeing anything like the improvements people were posting about in the Facebook group and I felt like my fitness was plateauing. Just being accountable to myself wasn’t cutting it, so I decided last fall that after Rehoboth 2017 I would sign up for Hansons Coaching Services and bring in reinforcements. Knowing that I was paying someone every month to get the Garmin data from each and every workout seemed like an effective way to make sure that I did each and every workout. Signing up for coaching also meant that my training plan would be customized not just to my running abilities and goals but also to my race plans and travel schedule. Since I’m me, by December 2017 I’d already registered for three marathons, a half-marathon, and a 10-miler for 2018! That is definitely more racing than Hansons recommends with their off-the-shelf training plans, so I was excited about working with a coach who could shape a training plan around the things I already wanted to do, and still aim for the Big Goal in December 2018.  

And so far, it’s been everything I was hoping for and then some! My coach, Melissa, is awesome and was completely unfazed by both my ambitious (some might say audacious or even flat-out ridiculous) goal and the excessive amount of racing that I like to do each year. I only get 2-3 weeks of workouts at a time, which is VERY helpful for me as I am definitely prone to looking ahead in a training plan and getting all psyched out over the paces and distances in the later weeks. It also allows us to adjust the plan easily if anything comes up, like illness, injury, ridiculous winter weather, or work travel to places where running outside is a no-go. And every time I finish a run, my Garmin data is automatically uploaded to the Final Surge app, where she can see every last detail of my run. Because of that, I haven’t skipped a single run since we started working together in mid-December. That’s HUGE for me.  

In addition to the added accountability making a difference in my consistency, having a coach tell me how fast I’m supposed to be doing speed and tempo workouts and the races I’ve done so far has been AMAZING for my confidence. For the first few speed workouts she had me do in January, the paces made me look like that bug-eyed emoji face and I was like, “Omg no way can that be my target pace! I can’t run that fast! What is Coach thinking?!?”  

But you know what happened?  

I DID run that fast.  

As part of my ongoing realization that running is so very much a mental game, having Coach prescribe target paces that I thought were beyond my current abilities has made me faster. I might start out a workout with some doubts, but I also tell myself that I have to at least try because Coach told me to. And then I run the first interval or first tempo mile and absolutely nail the target pace and say to myself, “Oh! I CAN do it!”  

2018 so far has already been vastly different than it would have been if I hadn’t gotten a coach. One thing that I’ve avoided like the plague has been racing short distances. I’m a marathoner! Why would I race a 5K? Those things hurt! Well, because Coach said I have to. And it turns out that they’re actually kind of fun in a weird, masochistic way. Kind of like speed work, as I’m also discovering.  

So over MLK Day weekend, I ran my first race of the year: a small 5K along the C&O Canal Towpath out in Maryland that was organized by the DC Road Runners. This was intended to be sort of a benchmark race to see where my fitness was. I’d only been back to normal running for a few weeks after recovering from Rehoboth and had done just one very short speed workout beforehand. My 5K PR from last July was 23:54 (7:43 pace), but since that was set in an evening race in the heat and humidity of the DC summer, I was pretty sure I could beat that time in a small, flat race in January. The only daunting thing (you know, other than the entire idea of racing) was the wicked 20+ mph wind that day! But the race was an out-and-back, so I’d really only have the wind in my face for the second half.  

I positive split the race like whoa, but that was pretty much inevitable with that wind. I went out a little bit faster than I probably should have, but the first half of the race felt surprisingly good (albeit tailwind-assisted). I finished in 22:56, a PR by 58 seconds!


That race was a major confidence booster for me, and I spent the next few weeks ramping up my workouts a bit in preparation for back-to-back race weekends in February.  

First up: the Love the Run You’re With 5K on February 11th, organized by my favorite LRS Pacers Running. I had hopes of another PR here, but I really should have looked at the course first. I made the mistake of assuming it was flat. It was very not flat:


So I gave up on the idea of a PR early in the first mile when I was panting my way up that first hill. But even though my pace was not what I was hoping for, I did manage a lovely negative split for this one:


I finished in 23:48, which I’m actually pretty happy with. I didn’t realize until now that it was a faster time than last summer’s PR on a flat course, despite the hills. My coach also helped me realize that with there being so little room for error in a 5K, it’s not necessarily helpful to compare results from different races/different courses at that distance. So for this course, she was really happy with my pacing.  

The weather was something of an improvement over the January race: low 50s and pouring rain instead of 20s and howling wind. There was a photo booth at the start line, so I hopped over to get my souvenir picture before we started:


The following weekend I ran the By George 10K, which was another very small race put on by the Potomac Valley Track Club. It was held down at Hains Point, which anyone who’s run the Marine Corps Marathon or Cherry Blossom 10-Miler will be familiar with. On the plus side, it’s very flat. But it’s sort of the Mt. Washington of DC - whatever weather the city is having, it’s amplified at Hains Point. Luckily on race down, it wasn’t tooooooo windy, so the wind down on the Point was only around 10mph.  

The 10K course was a double version of the 5K course, which meant a double out-and-back. Not the most interesting course, but that was ok. It was actually kind of fun to get to see the other runners so many times during the race.  

This was the first 10K I’ve actually raced. My only other time at this distance was the TinkerBell 10K that I ran/walked with my mom in Disneyland in 2014. I was pretty sure I could PR this one!  

My strategy was to go out at a controlled pace and hold that for the first half, and then see if I could bring it down for the last three miles. My target for the first three miles was 7:40ish, and then I was hoping that I could get down to 7:30 in mile 4 and then closer to 7:20 for the final two miles. I didn’t quite manage that, but I’m still happy with how this race went:


The first three miles felt great, though mile 3 was back into the headwind, which I blame for the slight uptick in pace. While miles 4 and 5 weren’t quite as fast as I’d hoped, I was happy to see my pace dropping. But then mile 6 was back into the headwind, and I was spent. I was hoping for a final mile under 7:30, but I’m comfortable with the knowledge that I gave it all I had.  

And my 47:40 time was good enough for 2nd in my Age Group of 30-39, which earned me an apple pie!


Next up: the Rock n Roll New Orleans half-marathon! I was originally planning on running the full, because it was there. But I’m trying to be more strategic this year and think in terms of the long term and the Big Goal. While I have no doubt that I could finish the marathon, I haven’t been running anywhere close to normal marathon training mileage since Rehoboth so it would basically just be a 26.2 mile easy run that would still require a solid couple of weeks to recover from before I could pick up with the intense training again. I decided that there wasn’t really a benefit to running a “fun run” marathon right now, whereas if I dropped to the half, I could race it, because my mileage and workouts have been much more in line with that distance. And I’m discovering that I really like pushing the pace! So that’s what I’m going to do.  

Based on how the 10K went, I’m planning to target a pace of 7:50-8:00 for the half and hopefully come in right around 1:45:00. This would be a 7ish-minute PR, so it’s definitely a lofty goal! But more importantly, I’m going to really focus on race strategy and pacing rather than a specific pace target. I want to negative split the race and practice being patient in the first half and then picking it up on tired legs. Basically the opposite of how I’ve run almost every race ever. Not-so-coincidentally, 8:00 is the pace that I will need for that 3:30 marathon, so if I can hit it in a half right now, I will feel really good about building up to that for a full by Rehoboth.  

After this, I have a goal 10-miler in April (the GW Parkway Classic, which I loooooove) where I’ll definitely have a goal time that will probably be informed by how New Orleans goes. Then at the end of April is the inaugural National Women’s Half-Marathon, which will just be for fun and where I’ll be joined by Keep Running Girl AND SLCAthena! And maybe NCAthlete and ASchmid who are coming to the area for a 50K the day before!  

Then in May I have the craziest part of the year: the 39.3 Challenge at the Maine Coast Marathon. Coach definitely thinks this is nuts. I think it’ll be fun! Plus, I’ll get THREE different mermaid medals! But needless to say, both the half and full that weekend will be run at easy paces! This is the 2nd annual HPS Mother-Daughter birthday weekend race experience; Mom will be running her 3rd half-marathon that Saturday!  

On September 1st I’m running my first international marathon: the Dingle Marathon in Ireland! I’ve been planning on this race since my first trip to Ireland in fall 2016, but it turned into a family vacation when my mom discovered that there was a half-marathon too and my parents invited themselves along! I’m not complaining though; it’s going to be amazing! But as the coast of the Dingle Peninsula is crazy hilly and this course is not USATF-certified, this will be another “just for fun” marathon rather than a goal race, followed by a week of recovery in Ireland. I know it’s tough, but someone has to do it.  

I’ll probably (be forced to) do some more short races in the summer and early fall as tune-ups for the REAL marathon training leading up to Rehoboth. After the Dingle Marathon, it’ll be time to get down to serious business! I’m not thinking too much about what that’ll look like yet, but based on the last 10 weeks or so, I have all the faith in the world in my coach’s ability to guide me to my Big Goal.  

I’m so excited for what this year has in store!  

#Rehoboth2018 #BQorBust #Chasingtheunicorn  

(Please tell me when my obsessing over BQing at Rehoboth becomes insufferable and I’ll try to tone it down. Maybe.)


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