Ahhhhh – the feeling of make a new training plan, with the hopes of sticking to it. It makes me even happier knowing that I’ll be training to run one of my most favorite races EVER!! I have so many great memories from the times that I’ve ran this race, so this post will be filled with memories of Shamrocks past!
I heart this picture, so much!
It feels great to start with a clean slate and new goals, and I’m super hopeful that this one will be successful. I will obviously have a goal time (which will most likely be for a PR / sub 3:53 – around an 8:45 pace), but I don’t want that time to become a burden at any point. I will obviously want to stick with the runs and cross-training I have scheduled, but I’m going to force myself into a stretching/rolling/flexibility exercise routine. Coach Chris shared this amazing CARS Routine with me, that I will be make part of my routine. I should have started it by now but haven’t. I will.
My first VA Shamrock experience (8K only) with my friend, Nikki. We drank A LOT of beer.
The new wellness center on campus is AMAZING. I feel truly lucky to have it and I hope the students do too. I’ve taken yoga, spin, Pi-yo, and strength classes and have also used the row machine and stair-stepper. The two classes I am sticking with for cross-training are Barbell Strength (like BodyPump) and spin; they just added spin this month!
Look at those faces!
So my 18 week schedule, beginning next Monday, will look like this:
Monday/Wednesday/Friday: Cross training.
Barbell – M/W – The Monday class is during lunch and I LOVE using my lunch break for it! No getting up early or staying late. Wednesdays class is a 4:30 so I don’t have to wait around at all after work.
Spin – actually they only have spin T/Th/Fri so for now I am actually planning to spin on run days. I will access how I feel with the two-a-days and if it’s too much, I’ll nix the spin. I definitely want to go on Tuesday afternoons because my bud Kelli is teaching! Fridays will just be spin – as long as I can make it to a 6:30AM class!
Tuesday: Tempo/Regular run day – I won’t start tempos until week 4 so these will just be regular run days until then. Like I said, I will assess how I feel about adding on the spin class.
My marathon PR race
Thursday: This day will be a mix of hills and track workouts. One week will be hills, the next will be speedwork on the track. It will also be another optional day to spin at lunch, but we will see if that will just be too much or not.
Friday: AM Spin / Optional rest day
Saturday: Long Run day! I will only be running three days a week and will not have any weeks that go over 30 miles total. Also, I will only be running two 20 milers – Weeks 12 and 15
I am fucking stoked. Stoked about getting to meet up with some of my best good friends at Rehoboth next month. Stoked that I feel so free and that I have control of my physical life again. Stoked for the Murphy’s stew, beer, and parTAY that will be at the Shamrock finish line. Just fucking stoked. I can’t remember the last time I felt so elated and strong!! I better bottle this shit up!
I love all of this
Weekly recaps begin next week! Happy Monday y’all and DON’T FORGET TO VOTE!
This is probably a terrible time to post, because so many of you are running exciting and big races tomorrow. But I'm just going to put this out there, and maybe someone will spot it and help me out.
After four podiatrists, an ankle surgery, many months of PT, and four pairs of custom orthotics I've still got a toe problem, with no help in sight. BUT I decided to try a wide width rocker soled shoe, because that is something that shows up in recommendations for sesamoiditis (my current problem, probably set off by change of gait resulting from the ankle problem). I bought the Hoka Gaviotas in the D width, and lo, and behold, they do seem to help. Better than the stupid inserts, anyway.
But I'm having trouble lacing them tightly enough around the ankle, because the width seems to extend to the ankle - it's not just in the toe box. Can anyone point me to a site that would give me some lacing techniques to deal with that? I've tried heel lock lacing, but maybe I'm just not doing it right - either I get it so tight it hurts, or the shoes are loose. I'm afraid to try to start running in them, unless they feel secure on my foot. I'm having trouble imagining running in such a rigid shoe anyway, but I'm desperate - I'll try anything!
Good luck to all you fasties!
Hey hey hey and I hope you had a Happy Halloween! I’m a bit candy fat at the moment.
It’s time to recap last week’s training. I’m really just happy that there IS a recap, since that means I was able to hold up and stay healthy enough for another week.
I’m a little late to recap this week, but I can tell you that I’m feeling GREAT right now. I was going through a rough patch, where I honestly started to question what I was even doing. I mean, I LOVE running, but I also love feeling healthy enough to run around with my kids and stay active in other areas. My hip soreness was starting to impact my overall quality of life.
I’m so thankful to have the resources (personal trainer and physical therapist mainly) to get me back to normal. The encouragement and advice given to me by runners (both “real life” and social media types) has helped so much too.
Monday – Planned 4 miles/Actual 4 miles
This was my treadmill run for the week. I’m really starting to like those. 4 miles doesn’t get TOO boring and I really do like the lower impact to keep my legs from getting too beat up. Something is definitely up with my wrist-based heart rate monitor these days. I’m fairly certain it has something to do with the cold. My average HR for this run was 142bpm, which is to be expected for a run at an 8:16 pace. My outside runs of a similar nature have been averaging over 160bpm! That ain’t right.
I also did a little cross-training. I’m sticking with twice a week, but I took it kind of easy. Something is better than nothing, right?
Tuesday – Planned 6 miles/Actual 6 miles
It was pants weather. Too often we go from sweating to death by the first mile to needing galoshes, all within a couple of weeks. I think the perfect running temperature is somewhere around 50 degrees. What do you think?
Average HR…167bpm. Riiiiiight.
Wednesday – Rest (Maybe I should say “non-running”)
I kicked some cross-training butt by throwing some bells around.
Thursday – Planned 6 miles/Actual 6 miles
I ran these with running buddies Brooke and MC. It was good to have the company and there was coffee! Brooke also provided me with a dozen Monster cookies in exchange for a donation to help with her fund-raising for the NYC marathon. I came out ahead in the deal. Brooke can most definitely make a cookie.
I won’t say how many I ate, only that 6 miles wasn’t enough to burn them off.
We talked about a number of things, but mainly the difference between Red Vines and Twizzlers (I think I talk about this too much) and sleep chambers. Our running crew might invest in one of those (I’m looking at YOU, Robbie).
Friday – Rest
This was real rest. I did nothing.
Saturday – Planned 6 miles/Actual 6 miles
I named this one, “I just wanna run 6 forever.” There’s some real truth to that. It’s the perfect distance! I feel like I could run that distance every day without ever needing a rest day. It’s such a satisfying distance. Sometimes I think about quitting all of this marathon stuff and just running 6 miles every single day when I wake up.
My wife, some friends and I went out for a little Halloween thing at a bar called Clamdiggers out in Bedford. I dressed as Justin Verlander, since I look like him so they say. It was a pretty easy costume too. It was pretty fun, but luckily not TOO fun with regards to my long run on Sunday.
Being mistaken for future HOF pitcher Justin Verlander is the closest I’ll ever get to fame.
Sunday – Planned 13 miles/Actual 13 miles
I’ll be honest. I was nervous. 13 miles was a big jump from last week’s 10. 14 miles is the distance in which my hip REALLY got crazy. I was up late, so I had to run in the afternoon. None of this mattered, because I got to run in some Clifton 1s. They are as advertised. They are like running on marshmallows, but not too much.
Speaking of marshmallows, there is toasted marshmallow Gu. I know it’s weird, but I like it!
Weird, but yum.
The best part about this run was the negative splits. My last 4 miles were my best 4 miles. Woo hoo!
Week 12 brought me some confidence that I desperately needed. Missing time and being banged up really shook me. This week’s long run is 15. I feel like if I get that done with no problems, I’ll be back on track to at least put a good effort in at Rehoboth. Rehoboth is going to be just fine no matter what. There’s a beer tent like no other.
Being injured for a long time hurts. And by "a long time" I mean anything more than a couple of months. Any time you're hurt as a runner, it's likely to flash through your mind that you're never going to run again. But when the days turn to weeks and the weeks turn to months and there's no end in sight, that flash becomes a slow, painful burning in your heart, at times smoldering quietly, and at others (like when you see a high school cross country team running down the bike path, or have an ad for a marathon pop up on your social media feed), it flares into a wildfire of self-pity. We talk about "quality of life" and how important that is for everyone. A runner without running is a shadow, a partial person.
Feels like that to me, anyway.
Suppose that means I should have a better life outside of running. Suppose I do, to be honest, but when that piece is stripped away suddenly, it takes some getting used to.
Back at the beginning of September, when I took those first few tentative strides for a half mile or so, I fully expected my knee to blow out at every step. Louie still hurt most of the time, and it was hard to believe that I'd ever stretch out that half mile to a mile, then two, three and more. Run fast again? Not bloody likely, mate.
But running (fine, it was more jogging than running, but whatever - I never found a dead body, so...) seemed to actually help, so I kept at it. Still scared, still tentative, but consistent. I may have trouble remembering to do that cross training crap or floss my teeth, but I can run every day. It was still summer, warm and humid. I felt so dreadfully slow and heavy and my legs would go weak and my heart would race. Walk breaks every mile, sometimes less. None of those runs made me very confident that my running career would resurrect much past a vegetative state. Quality of life? This feeling is obviously why most people don't like running. It sucked a lot.
Mrs. Dave encouraged me, as she usually does, by reminding me that I needed more than a couple of weeks of hot summer running to feel good running again. She's wise like that. She was right, of course, so I embraced the suck as cheerfully as I could and prayed for fall. Of course we all so that every summer, amiright? Near the end of the month, I think, there was one day where the temp was 65 instead of 85+ and it felt so nice. I felt like my three miles was three miles, not 13 and that I wasn't going to die before I made it back home. The next day was warm and sucky again, but I had renewed hope. Sort of like when I used to golf, and once or twice in a round of eighteen I'd hit a ball that when straight and medium-ish far and that would be enough for me to believe I could actually learn to play golf.
Anyway, I'm not going to rehearse the whole month of October, but I feel safe in announcing that I'm feeling like a runner again. This knee is not 100% better. I'm trying to come to terms with the fact that it may hurt from time to time for the rest of my life. But running doesn't seem to bother it any more than not running - in fact it seems to help, and it's at a level I can accept. We'll see what happens when I try to put some serious miles on it, but for now I'll take what I can get.
So, about this past week.
I've been stretching out my long run by a mile each week since the end of September and did seven a couple of weeks ago. Last Saturday was supposed to be eight. Not that there's been an actual plan or anything. Just that I looked at ten miles as a milestone for deciding that I could start training for something. During the week I'd had one run (Thursday) where I went five miles instead of my normal weekday four. Adding things up for the week I mistakenly thought I was going to get to thirty. Even posted it somewhere. Then realized that my math was off and I was going to be only at 29. Probably no one else would notice and 29 is practically 30. Could have left it there, but no.
There was a minor internal debate about 8 vs. 9 for Saturday, but it wasn't very spirited. I knew I was going the extra mile. What I didn't know was how I'd feel as I neared the end. The previous week's seven had given me quite a smackdown in the last mile and a half. It was about all I could do to finish. As the temps have become more fall-like, my pace has been better, and I thought if I was careful with it early one that I'd be good for the whole nine. It was cool and cloudy. Had the whole morning free, so I waited until after sunrise. 8:45-9:00s for most of the way.
Then, about seven miles in - just over an hour of running - it happened. All of a sudden, it felt SO GOOD to be running. I wanted to run ten, twelve, fifteen miles. I'm not quite that silly anymore, so I satisfied the urge with a mile that was 30 seconds faster than most of the others I'd run that morning. Then I eased home a little slower, but still floating. Almost two months to get high. Worth every mile.
After running nine whole miles and feeling great, I decided that I can probably do a half marathon now. But where? Well, why not Rehoboth? There will be Loopsters there, after all. Mrs. Dave is on board. Just have to figure out logistics and finances. Turns out I have some miles on Delta I can use. Turns out that RunEatRalph volunteered to taxi a Loopster or two from and to the airport at the days and times that I would be traveling. All I need to do is find a place to crash Friday and Saturday night (since the party house is already full - bound to happen since I was so late pulling the trigger on this). I decided that if three things aligned today it would be a sign from the universe that I should run Rehoboth (provided the knee holds up).
The race is still below capacity.
There are still seats on the flight I want.
I can find a hotel/airbnb within my budget.
Final decision will be this afternoon or evening.
Couple of weeks ago I'd run one fast mile in the middle of one of my three milers. I had to walk some for mile three that day. Since I've now sort of penciled in a half in five weeks I figured I ought to get some quality workouts in, so I did five on Monday with three tempo miles. They were 8:00, 8:19 and 8:17, which I suppose it about as good as I should expect about now. But it was the first real effort run other than all the effort that went into those sucky days of September and the first half of October. Didn't die.
Tuesday was an easy four and then I carved the 2018 Schultz Jack'o'Lantern. I may have forgotten to do strength training, but it wasn't my fault. They've been laying cement in front of the fire station and I didn't notice a section of sidewalk they'd done at the corner and stepped in it. I stopped, went back and apologized for messing up their fresh work. The foreman sent a guy over to smooth out my damage and it was all good. But since I had to wash it all off my shoe and then dry it after, the other stuff slipped my mind and there you go.
Wednesday was my first interval day since last November. I had chopped up the training plan I used for Rehoboth last year and made a six week "get ready to not die in Delaware" schedule. This had 400s for the week but somehow I had 800s in my head (probably because I didn't actually look at the schedule that day) so I did 4 of those with 400 recoveries (ala Yasso), and a total of five miles. 3:49, 3:40, 3:41 and 3:42. Good enough for QR #2. And a good set up for a night of handing out candy. A decent number of trick or treaters, but more were older this year than previous, and I only gave out half of the bag Mrs. Dave had given me to use. Should have been more generous.
Yesterday I felt like I was recovering from the 800s, but still did my four with a short break when I saw a car in the street with it's flashers on. At first I ran past. Everyone has a phone and no doubt they'd called somebody to rescue them. But it was about 5:00 pm and there was a lot of traffic. Not a safe place to have your car sitting in the middle of one of the two eastbound lanes. So I went back and asked if they were OK. A woman and her daughter, on their way home from work at the Embassy Suites and they were out of gas. So I offered to help get them at least to the next street corner and out of the way of all the cars zooming by at 45-50 mph. It was only 25 yards or so. We got it going just fast enough to get the rear end of the car around the corner. After that I did most of my strength stuff, but figured pushing the car was a good replacement for the squats.
And there we are. Hope your Halloween was appropriately spooky and that your running is not.
I heard the quote in the image above at an event I attended this morning, and it couldn’t be more perfect for me at the moment.
I was thinking more about my decision to leave the team and how proud I am of myself for making it. I could have just sucked it up and/or brushed it off, but FUCK that. I had to suck it up and brush it off when I was in the Army, but we aren’t in the Army anymore, Alice. Always stand up for what you believe in. Always get the respect that you deserve. And don’t let anyone silence you.
So, now that Denali is behind me for good, it is time to set some new goals. I am VERY excited about this! Training for Denali lit a fire inside of me - one that leaves me wanting to keep pushing myself further to do amazing things. Naturally, I immediately started to think of what those things might be…
When I first heard of ultra-marathons and started running them, I toyed with the idea of completing a 100 mile race. After completing my one and only 50 miler (The Mountain Masochist 50 in 2012), I didn’t think I would ever be interested in going any further – that is, until I started preparing to climb the highest peak in North America! However, I am a terrible trainer. I rarely ever follow a training plan and I fail do the non-running things (like stretching, rolling, and other flexibility exercises) like I should. I am also set-back prone as well – getting some sort of minor injury or worrisome ache that sets me back in my training. So, there is no time like the present to turn myself into a well-oiled, training machine and go the distance!
I want to work my way up to 100 miles as SMART as possible. I want to put in some kick-ass training, cover all the miles, keep my body healthy, and be ready to kill it when the time comes. This means doing lots of other “smaller” races along the way. I don’t even want to consider when I’d actually do the 100 miler until I can do at least two 50s without feeling like I want to die or getting injuries from them.
Before I even do a 50, I’ll need and want to run some marathons. Since I won’t be running one at Rehoboth in December, I thought I’d pick an early/mid spring race. My first and obvious thought was VA Beach Shamrock (St. Patty’s Day weekend!). It’s in a close battle with Rehoboth for my most favorite race. But who needs to choose?! Another marathon that caught my eye was Salt Lake City, which is in April. Now, those two races are almost a month apart, and I’ve also thought of another fun goal that I could have for 2019. Become a Marathon Maniac! For now, I’d only get in at the lowest level which means:
Since I won’t be doing the 2 marathons in 16 days, I’d have to go for 3 in 90; Yowza. Too much too soon? Most likely for now. Either way, I see this happening sometime along the way in training for 100 miles.
50 mile races that I would consider is a toss-up between Hinson Lake 24 Hour (September 28th, 2019 – and near my hometown) and The Bear Chase 50 miler (September 28- right in my backyard). I ran 38 miles at Hinson Lake in 2012 as training for the Mountain Masochist 50 miler. Since then, it has turned into an awesome Loop party, and the scene of some serious Loop Super Woman-ness that I want to witness! Also, there’s an amazing human (I’ll just call him Doom) that I met when I was in the Army and have always looked up to (no really, he’s a giant – haha!!) will be there as well!! I haven’t seen him in years and it’d be great! I think I know which race I’ll pick… These choices give me a year to train and get myself where I need to be. After that, I can assess the results, see how I feel, and then plan for another 50. With this schedule, I’d likely run the 100 in 2020, which I think sounds totally realistic. I will just have to ensure to do all that I can so that I don’t burnout before that.
“Mt.” Hinson, haha (fellrnr.com)
What can I do to help prevent burnout, you ask? Well! There are LOTS of miles involved in training for something like this. Why not incorporate other races into it as training runs?! I don’t have any specific races that I want to do yet, because I’m going to have to sit down and make a MASSIVE long-term plan, at least to give me an idea. I want to travel for races as much as I can as well, and hang out with some pals! (one of those is YOU, Abby!) Do you have any other suggestions to help prevent burnout?
I am stoked for what the future holds for me and I’m excited to continue to remain a healthy and active athlete – but also to take that healthiness to the next level! I’m going to ensure I tap into all that my body has to offer so I can finally see the true potential that I have.
I feel like this was a bunch of goal vomit, but…. BLLLLLLLLLLAAAAAAAAHHH! (Haha!)
Thanks for reading,
There’s this movie I like. It’s based on a book by Nicholas Pileggi called Wiseguy. The plot follows this gangster named Henry Hill and his crew in NY in the ‘60s and ‘70s and how after years of living the high life he eventually gets caught. He gets flipped by the FBI, testifies against his crew, and goes into the Witness Protection Program. It came out in the early ‘90s and had some of the day’s big stars in it. There’s some cheesy nonsensical scenes in it about merengue dancing, but also one of my favorite weird nerdy out of place engineering references ever about the inventor of the rotary engine.
Are you trying to remember when DeNiro or Liotta or maybe Pesci merengue dance? Well, wrong movie. I’m talking about My Blue Heaven. I’d be lying if I called it a good movie or said it lived up to it’s cast or crew (Steve Martin! Nora Ephron!), and the ridiculous Italian-American stereotypes were bad then and have aged worse. But I have a soft spot for less than good oddball movies, and this most certainly fits that description. Plus, since I’ve moved down south, scenes like this are a LOT funnier (OK, here’s the Wankel bit too and some of that bad stereotyping).
For years I’ve had these images in my head of running under the towers of the Verrazano Bridge, or flying through the cacophony that is 1st Ave, or charging through Central Park, and always thought this would one day be my NYC Marathon experience. I pictured myself having my own “fuck yeah” moment of triumph finishing the one race I always wanted to run, propelled to a PR on adrenaline and the energy pulsing up through the streets of my favorite place on Earth. From the moment I found out I was in this year’s race, these were the images on repeat during my runs. And 6 months ago if you told me I’d be healthy and standing in Fort Wadsworth after a tough training cycle, I’d be expecting those dreams to become reality. But that’s not how it’s going to be.
I’ve avoided serious injury, cutting back the mileage and intensity has let my feet heal to something close to normal. So that’s a win, and not a small one. But there’s nothing I can do to make up for the lost fitness, and I’m still in the trough of this depression I’ve been wallowing in. But as I keep reminding myself, I’m still going to NY. I’ll be there in Staten Island, willingly, on Nov 4. And there’s a long list of people I’m looking forward to seeing. Even the weather looks promising. Will this be the greatest moment of my illustrious running career? Nope. But it doesn’t need to be. Which doesn’t sound very profound, but for an uber-competitive person, it’s a big step. Just because Goodfellas was the better movie doesn’t mean I won’t stop what I’m doing when I see Steve Martin with that ridiculous haircut on the TV screen. So, here’s to hoping I find my little slice of heaven on the streets of New York.
Ladies, I am emailing you all today to withdraw from the team. I no longer feel that this expedition is right for me. I do want to thank everyone for giving me the opportunity and believing in me enough to be a member of this team, and to be a part of the incredible training that we have done. I’ve gained great skills and knowledge that I do not believe I ever would have received otherwise. This experience has shown me that my love of endurance athletics can be pushed even further than I imagined. You all are amazing women that I likely never would have met, and I’m grateful for the time I was able to spend with you. I do hope that I can spend more time with you all in the future.
Please let me know when/where I can return all of my gear. I want to give everyone who donated to my personal GoFundMe page the opportunity to have their donations refunded. If not, I will send you what I collected (after the fee was subtracted is was about $160).
Ladies, I wish you all the best of luck and safety during the rest of your training and your summit attempt. I will be cheering you on and rooting for you! Let me know if there is anything I can ever do for any of you.
Don’t be silenced,
I sent this out on Friday, October 26th to withdraw from the Denali team. It was a decision that I thought long and hard about and most likely bugged the crap out of all of my friends, seeking advice.
This expedition no longer was a good fit for me and no longer aligned with my integrity and values. I won’t talk about many specifics but I wasn’t willing to accept that my role was only to “raise as much money as you can and get mountain fit.” I will never allow someone to continually speak down to me, not for any experience or opportunity. I wish these ladies all the best and will be rooting for them next year! Go sheros!
This whole process was very hard and life consuming. I’m not sure that I would decided to take on something so consuming again.
However, this experience lit a fire up in me and I am very grateful that I was able to go through those trainings and meet those amazing women. I certainly wouldn’t give that back. More amazing opportunities will come along.
Thank you to everyone who followed along and supported me through this journey. It means the world to me.
Stay tuned for my new and exciting 2019 goals!!
And here we are at the end of another week. I spent several years in retail and don't miss it very often. The time I miss it least is probably around the holiday, but every Friday I'm reminded just how that industry is a demanding one. God bless the people who do it. Not many of their customers seem to. All that to say I'm happy to be at the weekend.
Sadly, it looks like rain most of the day tomorrow. I don't mind rain too much, of course, but it's fall and it's cooler than normal this year. Rain and chilly temps aren't my favorite. I thought briefly this morning when I heard the forecast about just taking Saturday off, but I'm too grateful right now to be running again, so I expect to just layer up a little and run between the drops. Shouldn't be too bad.
Yesterday was a weight day and I wasn't looking forward to it. At all. Kept wondering about cancelling it and just running. Then I did something I haven't done in a long, long time. I ran more than I's planned. At least, officially planned. As soon as the idea to go five instead of four - even on weight day - popped into my head, I sort of knew it was going to happen. So, I ran five miles. After complaining as recently as last week that I was still feeling sluggish and heavy and gee I'm never going to be in good running shape ever again, this was a pretty sweet run. Cool and sunny and a perfect fall afternoon. I still have that thing in my mouth (learned this morning it's called a fistula, which I'll probably forget by the next time I need to know that term), and need to consult an endodontist next week, but the Z-pak seems to have restored my staying power. Or maybe I'm just finally getting there.
Shout out to the several drivers who stopped and even backed up from intersections and parking lot exits to let me keep running without stalling for them. Reminded me that I live in a pretty nice town.
So, now that my shorter runs seem to have settled into a comfortable 8:30-ish pace, I feel like I'm safe to bump up to the next level. Not ready for any marathon training or anything crazy like that (sorry, Rehoboth), but maybe I'll see about a local 5k or 10k in a few weeks. And check the spring marathon schedule again.
Seventeen miles so far this week. Four today and eight tomorrow (as long as the rain isn't too heavy). That adds up to 30, right?
Going to have to bring T-Rex home again for winter. She dropped her Anatomy/Physiology class and lab after bombing the first two tests. It's so frustrating to see her go through this.
For the record, I did the strength work after my run. It wasn't terrible. Just icky, like I expected. Maybe if I had a good gym buddy. Of course, that would require me to go to a gym. Never mind.
The year has rolled into October and the next marathon is around the corner. Training is done, for better or worse, so it's time to taper and consider how this last cycle went.
Well, it's gone pretty well, I'd have to say. Certainly not optimal. Not my best training. Not my most miles, and definitely a little slower.
But I'm looking on the bright side: It's only the second time I've done two marathons in one year - so the risk of injury was higher. I came out of LA in March with a tweaked butt that never really healed, just slowly got better. My knee started hurting in April and never went away - but it didn't get worse either, and I managed to get in almost all my miles. I'm on track for a new old man PR in total annual miles. And after bagging a BQ in LA, the rest of this year is really just gravy. I averaged about 40 miles a week for the last 3 months. Not a recipe for a PR, but considering everything, I'm happy with that. Plenty of good runs in there, many with my running group that keeps things fun.
So I don't really have a goal for NYC, per se. My real goal is to enjoy the experience, smile throughout, high five a few hundred people, and finish another marathon.
But seriously, I'd be a lot happier if my time were under 4 hours. And I'm telling people my goal is 3:45, so there's that. Sub 3:35 for a BQ is a long shot, so I'm not even going to try for that. My secondary goal is to practice restraint - try to keep my pace ABOVE 8:15 for the first ten miles. Then hopefully I can maintain or beat that to at least 20 before I start to fall apart. I'd love to see what it's like to negative split a marathon. I'm really just hoping I can finish without too much walking.
And of course I'm looking forward to seeing about 6 very special Loopsters, before, during or after the race.
Life is good.
I’ve been doing a lot of writing here - for myself mostly because it’s pretty mundane. But maybe someone has a lot of free time on their hands and enjoys sifting through my mess. And my return-to-running training log is here for the spreadsheet lovers.
Week 1 - 2
Week 2 - 5.6
Week 3 - 12.4
Week 4 - 18.4
Week 5 - 23.7
Week 6 - 19.5 (10 miles on Monday of Week 7)
Week 7 - 39.5 (10 miles from Week 6)
Week 8 - 28.2
Week 9 - 26.3 (taper-ish for Augusta 13.1 race)
Week 10 - 66.1 (Hinson Lake 24 Hour - lots of walking)
Week 11 - 21.0 (reverse taper)
Week 12 - 42.6
Week 13 - 38.7
Week 14 - 27.0** projected
Week 15 - 39.2** projected race week
It’s been years since I’ve felt truly invested in a marathon cycle. The first Boston Marathon I ran in 2015 was likely the last time I truly had a focus on marathon-specific training. After getting into ultras, the specific workouts of road racing were speckled throughout my running, but I relied mostly on mileage and experience to get me feeling confident at the start line of a 26.2 mile race.
I am excited!
When reflecting (& reading) about how I felt in late March and mid-July, I wish so badly to go back and tell myself it will be okay. Even the time between boots were filled with trepidation. Things weren’t clicking.
And if I really reflect back about consistently feeling good about my training, it was late spring of 2017. 18 months is a long time to feel eh about running. Sure, I had some fantastic races and great experiences in those 18 months, but I also remember it just not feeling as good as it does now. I’ll pin the blame on overracing and overtraining, but that doesn’t mean I’d change any course of events.
I’d hop in my Delorean and do the exact same thing. Stupid? Maybe. But I am not apologetic about my experiences that led me to today.
Back when I was still in the boot, I made a couple of versions of my training plan to get to the start line of the NYC marathon. I gave myself plenty of fluidity in mileage, time frames, and workouts. They were all modified versions of the lowest mileage Pfitzinger plan - the same one I used for Boston 2015.
The podiatrist said it would take about 5-6 weeks for things to feel good again. And up to a year of random injury site pain - some real, some phantom. It was hard to navigate the first few weeks because I became anxious with everything that didn’t feel great. And honestly, a lot of things didn’t feel great.
Slowly, things started to return to normal. I noticed the first day I stood at the sink and brushing my teeth felt normal. I noticed the first day that I walked across the gym and my stride felt normal. I noticed the first day that I lifted weights and I could bear weight on both legs. I cross-trained between running and walking. I ran paces that were 3-4 minutes slower than my typical training paces. I exercised as much patience as I could stand.
And things started to change. I felt stronger and happier. My stride returned to normal. Things were clicking again.
Every milestone in the recovery process has seemed almost like the first time I’ve done it. Workouts that I’ve done hundreds of times suddenly gave me butterflies. And I loved having that feeling again!
20 milers were a dime a dozen in 2016 & 2017. But suddenly I had to remember how to do them again! Do I bring gels? Do I bring water? Is it better to do 2 out-and-backs or 1 longer followed by 1 shorter?
It was like falling in love with running all over again.
And here I am, less than 2 weeks from standing in Staten Island with 50,000 other runners, feeling ready to tackle 26.2 miles.
Race: Fort Bragg Army 10 miler When: 6:30 am, June 3rd, 2011 Temp: 69 glorious degrees with a little wind Outfit: New bright orange/white singlet (got 10% off for a grease stain), white/blue marathon slutties, and my orange/white Ghost 3 Brooks.
Since the race started at 6:30, I had to get up at 4:45am to eat, get dressed and get to the
parking area before it filled up. I forgot to charge my Garmin the night before and it was the very first thing I thought of when I woke up. I jumped out of bed, ran to my car to get G and then charged it while I got ready. Whew! I had my usual before race meal of an English muffin with peanut butter and honey and a small glass of milk (I don’t drink cow’s milk anymore, blek).
I wasn’t sure how this race was going to turn out. I’d only ran a total of 25 miles after the marathon (a month ago) and hadn’t done any speed work. I was shooting to beat my 2007
1:19:05 PR (same race*) but really didn’t think it would be possible. I ran a 10K two weekends ago and I really bombed during it. I started off way too fast and ran out of gas.
* I did this race in 2007 and was asked to be on the Women’s Army 10 miler team (for the D.C. race)! Unfortunately, I was deploying and couldn’t do it. It would have been an amazing opportunity but I was still honored to be asked : )
I was hoping for a miracle and for my Go-Go gadget legs to kick in!
I met up with Erin and our friend (Shannon) and we headed to the start line. I was definitely nervous as I was waiting for the gun. I was so grateful for the overcast 69° and the slight breeze; quite ideal. The gun went off, and I took off conservatively. Race beginnings are always hectic – the weaving in and out until you find your zone.
I got in a pretty good rhythm and felt good. The first miles were good and they had some hills. I was really feeling the gradual incline at miles 3-5. I’ve always hated that stretch of road because it goes on forever. At the turn-around point at mile 5, I didn’t think my PR would happen. I’d slowed down to about an 8:15 pace and that just wasn’t going to cut it. I kept trucking along and someone came up from behind me and told me I was doing a good job. It was a trainer that works at the gym I go to. I said hi and he moved along. I started to loosen up a little bit and was able to pick up the pace some. One of my friendly rivals, “Cindy”, was doing this race and I saw her ahead of me at about mile 3. I just wanted to keep her in my sights but figured she’d pull away. I stayed behind her the whole way but she did speed up at about mile 7. About that time, I saw the trainer again and he seemed to be struggling. I got up beside him and he said, “Cindy is just up there!” I replied, “Yeah, but I’ve been trying to catch her and it’s just not going to happen.” He said he didn’t have much left in the tank and was going to run the last bit conservatively. At that time, I sped up past him and I heard him say, “Ah, what the hell!” and he took off with me. I never saw him again though so I don’t know if he ran out again or what.
The last approx. 1.3 miles is straight down a rolling road. You can see the finish and the few hills in between. It can be a bit demoralizing if your head’s not in it. I just gritted my teeth and went for it. I gradually picked it up and was giving it all I had; I even started wheezing a little bit.
I was passing people left and right. I LOVE hills!
All of a sudden, I see Cindy ahead of me! There was only about 0.3 to go and I didn’t think I could pick it up enough, keep that pace, and pass her. I went for it anyway and literally finished like 2 seconds ahead of her!! IF THAT! I didn’t look back when I finished because I was trying not to pass out. I just kept walking through the chute. I grabbed some trail mix, water, a banana, AND a bagel w/cream cheese. I scarfed that down then met up with Erin and Shannon. They both had good races, especially Erin who had been battling strep throat for weeks! She’s my HERO! I had a couple people tell me they were trying to catch my bright orange shirt, and that I was motivation to them! Erin said they were actually just looking at my butt. Red Robin was DELISH afterwards! I had two baskets of fries and a turkey burger. YUMMMMMMMMM!
I did what I set out to do. PR! 1:18:38*. 14th in my AG (25-29) and 36th female overall. So proud of myself and looking forward to my 12 hour adventure race this weekend in Virginia!
*That is still my 10 mile PR and I was also asked AGAIN to be on the women’s 10 miler team but I was already out of the military! I don’t have any pictures from that race and don’t think any were ever posted.
I'm such a whiner.
Seven weeks since I started running again consistently.
Mostly what I've done in those seven weeks is complain that it's hard and I'm slow.
Beginning the first week of September:
Week 1: 12 miles, 9:53 avg, LR 2 miles (9:41)
Week 2: 14 miles, 9:17 avg, LR 4 miles (9:22)
Week 3: 20 miles, 9:24 avg, LR 5 miles (9:25)
Week 4: 20 miles, 8:55 avg, LR 5 miles (8:55)
Week 5: 24 miles, 9:15 avg, LR 6 miles (9:27)
Week 6: 24 miles, 9:05 avg, LR 6.5 miles (8:55)
Week 7: 16 done, 8:48 avg (10 more planned, LR 6 miles)
I'm looking at the numbers now, and they show a nicer picture than how I remember the last month and a half. After all, I'm coming off an almost seven month layoff, and the six weeks before that were a slow build up following a full month of post- marathon rest/recovery. Seven weeks to feel decent running again.
Not so bad, really. I should feel good about where things are at this point.
So I will.
It's fall, the best time of the year for running. And I'm running.
Yesterday I didn't feel like going. A little stress from work and worry about T-Rex (as always). I just wanted to take a nap and pretend everything was fine. But I went out anyway, because runner. And because it was 50 degrees and sunny and I know I'll appreciate it a couple of months from now when it's ten. Also, Thursday is weight day, which I hate. I skipped Tuesday because I got distracted with some early fall yard stuff when I finished running and then it was time for dinner and Mrs. Dave and I had an appointment at the temple so there was no time and I'll take just about any excuse I can think of to not do weights.
Where was I?
Of course my mind told me that a run when you don't feel like running is usually a good thing, so me and TYTBNW (the yet to be named watch) took off. No trouble with the knee. I'm calling Louie at about 95% most of the time now, btw. Most of my warm up miles have been between 9:30 and 10:00. This one was 9:06. Nothing worth dancing, but improvement is always nice. This is an out and back route past the high school to the Mobil station on the next corner. It drops slightly all the way out, so I figured it'd be slow coming back. 8:21, 8:23, 8:22.
Did not expect that.
Last week I noticed something in my mouth while I was brushing my teeth. Some discoloration and a big zit-looking thing on my upper gum. As a lad I hit my face on the edge of a school desk and chipped off a good portion of the front tooth. Ever since it's been a trouble spot. I had surgery to remove a large abscess there back in the late 80s. My dentist has been watching it on the annual x-rays forever. Anyway, I went in and he took another x-ray, which didn't show much change, but it's still there and there's another round of infection. So, I'm on antibiotics for a week and then we'll look at it again at the end of the month. Hopefully won't need surgery again.
My point in mentioning this is that it could possibly be related to why even though my endurance is slowly building (about like it should), I haven't felt great. My running times included much more walking than I ever remember doing in my previous comebacks. I'd get a mile or two out and my legs would go dead and my heart rate would ratchet up. Talk about discouraging. If this infection has been enough to give me trouble, then once it's beaten down with the z-pak, maybe I'll actually feel good on the roads.
Just a thought.
Mrs. Dave sent me out early last Saturday. Granddaughter #1 was getting baptized, so we made a quick trip to Kentucky. The ceremony was Sunday evening, and we spent Saturday afternoon with Connor in Louisville. Ran in the dark for 6.5 miles and didn't feel half bad. Then we hit the road, had a nice weekend and came back Monday morning.
My social media skills seem to be dying. I took zero pictures and posted not a thing the whole weekend. Is that bad? I still scroll through regularly and see what my peeps are up to, make a comment now and again, but mostly just give a quick "like" and move on. If it weren't for the Loop and Loopsters I might ditch FB and IG altogether. I've already left Twitter, and am not at all interested in any of the other SM apps out there.
Happy Friday, everyone.
Since I'll be seeing at least a few of you in Rehoboth, I thought I'd update you on where I am currently...
Ever since a run the day after my 40th birthday, I’ve been battling right leg pain that seemed to move all over the place. After plenty of working out, dry needling and physical therapy I discussed the issue with my good friends and trainer/PT people Jill and Rachelle and I think we figured it out.
My baby calf just hasn’t been ready for what I’ve tried to put it through. As I increased the mileage, I think that my baby calf has fatigued and then no longer absorbs the shock of impact that comes with thousands of steps on a long run. My hip has been paying the price. To put it in medical terms, pounding the pavement beat the crap out of my hip.
Time for a Plan B. Blow the whole thing up.
Long story short, I’ve fallen WAY behind in my training with all of this on again/off again stuff. I’m not giving up on Rehoboth quite yet, but I’m having to reevaluate my plan and my goals.
Surviving is the #1 goal now.
Bye bye, time goals. I’ve gone from 3 x 20 mile runs to zero. My peak week is just over 40 miles now. I also have an extra rest day from running for the next 6 weeks. No track work. No hill repeats. This could change if I’m able to show that I’m 100%, but for now I don’t want to push it.
I need to remember that not long ago I was in a boot for 3 months. Not long ago, I was so happy to run ANY miles at all. I have the rest of my life to run. There’s no sense in killing myself now.
I was initially planning to hold the Second Annual Inaugural Irma Gerd 8 Mile Classic on Monday, seeing as how I had 8 miles on the schedule and the first running of the event had also been a Monday. Seemed symmetrically preordained. But, as is ever the case, life intervened. I found out I had to spend all day Tuesday in Florida with a client who likes to be wined and dined and always insists on closing the bar of whatever restaurant they make us buy them dinner at. So I knew I wasn’t going to get my Tuesday workout in on schedule. I decided to move the workout to Monday, Wednesday’s off day to Tuesday, and Monday’s easy 8 (and the Irma Gerd Classic) to Wednesday. Roll with the punches, amIright? All went well, until I was boarding my plane home Wednesday morning with the usual client hangover. My phone buzzed. I read the text, turned off my phone, and pulled out a book.
My grandfather had passed away, arrangements would be forthcoming, and I had to be up in Jersey by Friday morning. Before anyone offers condolences or feels bad, let me be clear, my grandfather was 92 and kind of a prick. This wasn’t a surprise to anyone, and his children argued for two days about who would give the eulogy because no one could think of anything positive to say. The only topic he was able to hold a civil conversation with anyone on was baseball, and in my 36 years he probably said 150 non-baseball words to me. 144 of which were “Happy Birthday” and “Merry Christmas”. Is this oversimplifying a sad situation? Sure. But the point is this was, at the time, more an inconvenience than an emotionally trying episode. I was more broken up when The Wife made me throw out my favorite pair of running shorts because the holes they had grown left nothing to the imagination.
After a few moments of reflection while we taxied and climbed through the clouds I started scrolling the Delta app to make my travel plans. Hurricane Florence, fittingly enough for the occasion, was forecast to be over South Carolina and North Georgia right as I was looking to fly home. The Wife and I both had meetings and hectic work schedules the following week and couldn’t afford days of flight cancellations and delays, which I knew was inevitable since flights were already disappearing as I was looking at them. I knew this meant I’d end up having to drive, which meant the tempo scheduled for Thursday was in jeopardy. Who wants to do a 12 miles tempo run after sitting in a car for 13 hours? Or who wants to sit in a car for 13 hours after a 12 mile tempo run?
So I got home, discussed plans with The Wife, and decided Irma’s 8 (ish) would have to be the tempo. I quickly got dressed and not so quickly went through my shoe tying routine, which has been exacerbated lately. I’ve always been very particular about my shoes when I run. You see, the toes of my right foot tend to bump up against the end of my shoe if I don’t tie that one tight enough. And I like my shoes to be tied equally tightly so they feel the same as I run. But if I tie my left shoe too tightly I get pain and bruising on the top of THAT foot. Apparently my right foot is longer and my left is fatter. This results in a shoe tying routine that looks to the casual observer like a severe case of OCD as I tie and retie my shoes roughly 4,387 times before each run. This routine and over tightening of my shoes is (I’m pretty sure) what caused the tendonitis that has been hampering me lately. It’s not so bad really, as long as nothing is touching the tops of my feet. So as long as I avoid wearing socks or shoes I’m good to go. Motherfu*^*!^@$*^&#@!%&. I’ve had to skip runs, shorten workouts, tape bags of ice to my feet at the office and come up with all kinds of weird lacing patterns to be able to limp through runs. I’ve even had to cut half the tongues out of my shoes to avoid them brushing the fragile connective tissue. I can run without the pain becoming unmanageable, but my shoes are so loose my feet are now covered in blisters and I’m losing 2 toenails. But I can run.
I got to the gym, claimed my treadmill, and started doing my leg swings and little warmup routine. As I was doing this a wannabe gym bro came up to me. I’d seen him before, he’s one of those guys who wears a hoodie with the sleeves cut off, capri tights under knee length shorts, and unlaced basketball shoes to the gym. But he weighs about as much as I do, so not sure he’s getting his money’s worth from his trainer. Oh yeah, he has a personal trainer come and yell at him in the gym every week. I saw the giant hulking trainer, who looks like Tommy Lister, glaring at me over his shoulder as he asked me “hey, uuhh… can I do my 3 minute warmup before you do your run?” Now, normally I’d growl and ignore this. But the other treadmills were in use and I know this guy has seen me spend over an hour on the ‘mill before. “3 minutes?” I asked. He sheepishly nodded and I waved him up and decided to do some more leg swings. He even wiped down the treadmill when he was done.
I got through my mile and a half warmup without incident, and got started on my GMP miles. Deebo was screaming at the Little Bro and was scaring the crap out of everyone else in the gym, but I couldn’t make out what he was saying. Anxious for anything to distract myself from how hard the pace was already, I tried to eavesdrop. He was yelling something about not wanting it bad enough or some other tired cliche, but Little Bro was sipping from his water bottle. I assumed he was trying to motivate him for the next set, or excoriate him for quitting on the set before, but as soon as he started the next set he got quiet and just started counting reps. Once that set was finished, he yelled again while Little Bro rested. This strange pattern repeated from lat pulldowns to curls to inclined bench, and Little Bro never flinched. Maybe this was why he still had the arms of a marathoner. I had made it through the first two GMP miles, but was working too hard.
My misshapen troll feet were sliding around in my too-loose shoes and I could feel the hotspots getting moist, so I again looked for a distraction. By now the other treadmills had changed over, and next to me was a girl walking while on the phone. I eavesdropped hoped for an interesting conversation, and I was not disappointed. This is, as close to verbatim as my memory allows, what I heard:
“Yeah, so get this. I was talking to my mom, and she told me she was using her eyelash curler… yeah I know, right?? Anyway, so she’s using her eyelash curler, and she said she sneezed!! I was like OH EM GEE, did you like, rip your eyelashes out or something?!? And guess what… yup, SHE. RIPPED. OUT. HER. EYELASHES!! ...I KNOW, right?? So anyway, she wore fakes for a while, and they looked whatever. But then I saw her yesterday and they had finally grown back and LET. ME. TELL. YOU. Her eyelashes… looked… AMAZING. They were SOOOOO thick! ...I know right, who would have know? I tell you, they looked so good, I’m SERIOUSLY thinking about plucking all mine out so they grow back all thick like that.”
I have nothing to add to that. I could not make that up if I tried, even though I wish I did because the thought that this person is out there in the wild every day scares the hell out of me. Imagining this person driving a car, using a stove, handling sharp objects and doing whatever it is they do for a living occupied my mind for another 2 miles. I was halfway through, and the pain in my feet had gotten to the point I needed to stop and readjust my shoes. At least, this was my excuse, I may have just needed to catch my breath.
As I struggled and wheezed my way through my last few GMP miles, I saw someone waving out of the corner of my eye. It was Little Bro again. “Hey, uuhh… can I do a cooldown?” I laughed, shook my head, and went back to my run. He waved again. “Please?” I grunted something about being in the middle of a workout and pressed on. I worried for a minute the trainer was going to bash my skull in for refusing, but figured that would be a suitable excuse for stopping the workout and ending the pain, so I took the chance. Alas, he let me finish, and the only brief respite I had the rest of the way was the 15 seconds or so when the treadmill auto-stopped and I had to restart it.
I jogged through my own cooldown as the gym crowd thinned. By the time I was done the only guy left was Mr. Tssst. He got this name because all I’ve ever seen him do is curls, and “tssst” is the sound he makes with each of the 9,436 reps he does. He was working away on his watermelon biceps as I wiped down and hobbled back to my apartment. I was afraid to take off my shoes because they had started squishing and I knew what that meant, so I sat on the bench by my front door and dripped sweat on the floor, which The Dog kept licking up before I could stop her. Everything hurt, I knew I had a half hour of bandaging and icing my feet ahead of me, and I still had to pack and get up at the ass crack of dawn to spend all day in the car. And, you know, the funeral thing. But I got through the workout. And I still had my eyelashes. Silver linings my friends, silver linings.
The MH marathon is a local Half and Full that is fairly popular here. It's held during the Columbus Day weekend but my family is usually out of town that weekend so it's rare that I can manage to run this race. I've ran the Half two times when travel plans fell through. MH allows bib transfers so that makes it easy to get in late since the race sells out in a few hours. The course is mostly flat but results in a net downhill elevation change so it's a good PR course. I registered because I've been chasing a sub-4 hour marathon and this race seemed like a good fit. The goal was 3:59.
One week prior to the race the weather looked perfect, for me anyway. A predicted 55 degrees at the start on a cloudy day with temps rising to around 60 by the end. But as time passed the predicted start temp rose every day during the last week of taper. By the time race day rolled around I was really stressing over the temperature. MH is a point to point course. Buses are available from the finish location to the starting location, or from the finish line back to the start if that's where you parked. Race morning turned out to be very humid. I parked near the finish and rode one of the buses to the start where I caught up with some runners from my LRG. We arrived an hour or so before the start time and the temp was already 66 degrees and expected to rise into the 70s as soon as the sun rose. Not what I was hoping for during an October marathon.
Time passed quickly as we sucked down some last minute fuel and used real bathrooms in the park. Soon it was time to line up. I found the 4 hour pacer and lined up. After the national anthem the gun sounded and we were off. The race started on some roads within the park and then we exited onto city streets which eventually led to an asphalt bike path along the Mohawk River. I think we reached the River at about mile 5. The view as we entered the river gorge was great. The next several miles were on the bike path with alternating views of trees and the river. The leaves were just starting to change. I was enjoying the scenery and sucking down water at every aid station. The pacer slowed down and fell behind. I didn't see him finish so I'm not sure what happened there. That was fine because I was holding the pace just fine and chatting with other runners as we made our way through the course.
I like warm temps, but this morning was much warmer than any runner wants to see for a marathon. It never occurred to me that my electrolyte pills would dissolve from sweat. Putting them in a baggie would have been so easy, duh. Seems like such a simple concept now, but it just didn't occur to me ahead of time since it's usually cool during fall races. Never been an issue before. As you've guessed by now, my electrolyte pills dissolved into a mess in the pocket of my hydration belt. I don't drink gatorade during long races because it upsets my stomach, but I tried sipping some around mile 15 to try to take in some electrolytes. Nope. My stomach let me know for the next few miles that gatorade wasn't going to happen.
Around mile 16 we left the bike path and exited onto streets again. The crowd of runners had thinned by this point so there was plenty of room to run. The down side was that we were out of the shade of the trees along the bike path so there was nothing to prevent the sun from heating us up even more. My running buddy / training partner was waiting for me at mile 20 to pace me in for the last 6 miles. Seeing her was a great pick me up which I definitely needed at that point. We ran a few blocks and then entered another bike path along the Hudson River. We chatted as we ran and it was just like we were finishing another hard run on a hot day like we had done all summer long. After mile 21 my quads started to cramp badly. I've never had cramps before. That's never been an issue for me during a marathon or any other race. Of course, my electrolyte pills had never dissolved before either. We stopped a few times so I could stretch. My quads were just too tight to hold the pace. RB had about half a bag of sport beans left over. I really didn't feel like more sugar at that point but I choked them down as fast as I could for the electrolytes. By mile 25 the cramps eased some and we were able to pick up the pace a bit. Sadly, it was too late. I had lost too much time between stopping to stretch and the slower pace. I crossed the finish line with a 4:04 instead of the 3:59 goal.
The 4:04 finish was a 3 minute PR, but I'm not happy about it. I know I should be. But I'm not. A 3:59 finish was in my hand with a few miles left to go and I would have had it if my electrolyte pills hadn't dissolved. That stings a little. But, no excuses. I ran a 4:04 and that's all. A lot can happen in 26.2 miles. Maybe that's one of the reasons why we try so hard to beat the marathon even though the marathon usually wins.
I'm far from finished with the marathon. At first I told myself that I was done chasing marathon PRs, but after thinking about it I realized that I won't have to do anything different to get that 3:59. Well, other than bring a baggie maybe. Seriously, if I follow the same training plan and run the same workouts I should be in the same position. I WAS prepared to break 4:00 which has been a barrier for me. I won't have to train any harder. I just have to bring a baggie or hope the temp isn't 70+ with high humidity on race day again. I haven't picked a 2019 fall marathon yet, but I know that the goal is 3:59. Guess I'm far from finished with chasing marathon PRs. Anyway, here's the bling:
Small medal this year. Is that a trend? It's... interesting.
Be well. Good luck with your fall race and bring a baggie.
Hello. I'm still at it. This running thing.
Haven't posted in a month, mainly because I've just been feeling pretty negative every time I try to think of something to write. Why? I'm in the midst of marathon training - still getting the miles done - but it seems like most runs are disappointing. I'm sore a lot. My knee still hurts, although it's not so bad that I have to cut back. Mainly I think it's just my slow times. All my runs, whether it's an easy run, a tempo, or track work, are a little slower than I think they should be. Or than they used to be, say last year. I can blame the heat, or the excessive mileage, or my knee, but down deep I know those excuses are not valid. I think it's just me getting older, and I guess it's hard to accept.
I don't want to complain, because I'm still running pretty well for an old guy. I haven't had any real downtime like many of my injured friends. But hey, that's what blogs are for, right?
So anyway, marathon training is on track. The last ten weeks I averaged 40 miles. The last four weeks before last were 46, 32, 47 and 50. I did an 18 and a 20-miler, although they were pretty hard. I'm doing weekly speed work at the track with some mile repeats (4x1 and 5x1) around 6:55 pace. And then last week I tapered and ran a half marathon race in Long Beach.
Four weeks out from NYC, my goal was to race this one, not for a 110% effort PR, but for a solid hard effort. I decided to go for 7:30 pace and hope I could finish stronger and break 1:38. Real goal was to keep it under 1:40, because, well, see above. Confidence lacking.
My friend and track buddy, D was on hand. We are close in pace, although she is a little faster on the track, but lacks experience in the longer races. So we planned to run together at least for a while. I couldn't find her before the start in the large crowd (7,300). But I managed to spot her after about 1/4 mile, just ahead. So I had to pick it up a little to catch her. So much for my planned 7:50 first mile to ease into it... Hit mile one at 7:22.
But we were back around 7:30 pace and comfortably cruising in mile 2. I had the 1:40 pace group just ahead and planned to keep them there. I didn't want to get ahead of them for a while yet. The pace felt a little hard, but comfortable. About right for a half. 2-4 were 7:29, 7:27, 7:31. Mile 5 was 7:20. Sometimes you get caught up racing people and lose track of pace...But I dialed it back. 6-7 were 7:30, 7:33.
So all good, right? Well not exactly. The effort was starting to get to me. The legs were feeling heavy. Didn't feel the spark. D started to slip ahead and I let her go. I kept my effort consistent but the pace was slipping. Mile 8 was 7:46. I took a GU. Mile 9 started even worse, and I mentally checked out. There was no way I could get back to 7:30 for 5 more miles. So my goal changed to trying to stay ahead of (or with) the 1:40 group (which I had left behind in mile 3).
I got through nine in 7:59. By now I didn't care about time. I had decided to walk through the next water stop and then just cruise it in and save my energy for marathon training. So I took a short break and then headed toward the finish. I wasn't completely dead, I was just tired and once I slowed I was comfortable. 10-12 were 8:19, 8:37 and 8:07. Most of the people around me must have been fading too because not many people passed me. The 1:40 group passed me (although they were down to three people) and I didn't have the will to stay with them. By mile 12 I could smell the finish and I pushed the pace up a bit, so at least it was an honest effort. Mile 13 was 7:38, and I "kicked it in" at 6:59 pace.
So I finished my 43rd half marathon in 1:41:52. 9th AG, 236th overall (of 7,300) and a 67% age grade. Not proud, but, hey that's where I am now. Here's me and D. She faded like me, just up ahead, and finished at 1:41:00.
So I'm not feeling real confident about running a fast 26 in four weeks. I just hope to not die too bad and not have to walk Central Park. So my goals are out the window. My NYC goal is to have fun, and practice restraint; Try to run the first half at over 8 minute pace, maybe 8:15+, and enjoy the experience. Sub-4 would be good. Then I'm taking a month off to rest the knee and the mojo.
Well, today I made the decision to drop down to the half marathon at Rehoboth, which will make it my 3rd consecutive 13.1 there. That isn’t a bad thing because I have the BEST time there, but it’s just sad to give up the idea of running 26.2. There are several different reasons why I know that decision was the right one.
While running is a great part of training for climbing Mt. Denali (20,310′ – I gotta remind myself of that from time to time), and I will still be getting runs in, I’m taking it as a sign that I need to focus more on that training and becoming stronger. We have SEVEN months before we will be leaving for the beast. Seven months will go by VERY fast and I don’t want it to sneak up on me. However, I don’t think this is the type of thing that could or should sneak up on anyone. Seven months is still plenty of time to get to where I need to be. I’m getting there, but progress is slow. I don’t enjoy carrying a heavy pack on my back, or the impact it has on my body, so I’m not motivated to do it often. I know I don’t need to do it all the time, but it needs to be much more frequent than it has been. Colorado is already throwing winter weather at us, and I think there is going to be lots of snow to work with this season, so I’ll even be pulling a sled soon as well.
That’s Candice, one of our team leaders. She’s a badass.
If I ran the full in December, I could wreck myself to the point of not being able to properly train for Denali, or even not at all! We can’t have that. I’ve been running a long time and have been through my share of minor, yet set-back injuries, and I’d like to think I have learned something from them by now. I’m embracing cross-training a lot more but still need to ramp that back up again, without pissing off my back again. I have all the resources in the world to make that happen – no excuses.
By only running the half, that’ll leave more time for Rehoboth FUN! Most of my running favorites will be there, and some that I’ll finally get the chance to meet! I likely won’t be running next year, so I’m not sure when I will be back again. ALTHOUGH, this has turned into an amazing, yearly tradition for me and I don’t really have any of those. I could always fly across the country to be a spectator. Hmmmmm…
How can one NOT want to be a part of that EVERY year?!
I do think I still have a goal for this race. Course PR?
2016: 2:05:14 – This year and the previous were my running “down years” as you can clearly tell from this finish time. The course is flat as can be and the weather was spectacular. I preceded to get REALLY drunk after finishing this and missed out on the nightly festivities. I’ll never make that mistake again!
2017: 1:47:10 / 8:10 pace – I ran this time after only ramping my training up in September! I really think that even though I’ve had this set-back, I can beat this.
2018: ? – My half marathon PR is 1:42:08, that’s a 7:47 pace. I think I’ve only ran a couple 7 minute miles since being here in CO and I think it was during the 2017 race, NOT in CO. I don’t think I’ll be able to distance PR, but I do think a course PR is definitely possible. I did exponentially sandbag myself in 2017 (read here), so nothing is impossible!
This will be my 19th half marathon (not counting heavy halves) and 12 years since I ran my first one!
Instead of posting my “Week #” training, it will probably just be general weekly recaps – I like those.
Thanks for reading,
This year's transition to fall weather has been pretty crazy. 20+ degree swings between summer and fall nearly every single day, and often on the same day. And I can really tell the difference between 60 and 80.
Saturday was a perfect example. It was about 60 in the morning, humid and foggy. I don't mind so much the 60. By 2:00 in the afternoon the fog and clouds had cleared and it was 80 and humid. Yuck. But I ran in the morning, so it was all good.
My week's runs were so-so. Decent when it was cool, lousy when it was hot. But at least I got all the miles in I wanted. Four on M-W-F, three on T-Th. Strength work on T-TH after the runs. Plenty of stretching. Saturday was six miles, my first at that distance since Rehoboth (first weekend in December, if anyone's keeping track). It was a decent run and I didn't die. I did get rained on a little at the beginning and a fair amount in the last mile, but at 60o, I didn't much care. It was as good a run as I've had in a long time. Had one little break half way to take a pebble out of my shoe. 24 miles total for the week. 🙌
Was able to get Mrs. Dave to approve colors for the landscaping I'm working on in the back. Now I need to get her to approve the funds for the brick and mulch. Since she spent this weekend updating the budget, she wasn't in the proper mood to have that conversation. She knows it needs to happen (especially since I've started work already), but getting her to actually releases the cash still takes some finessing. It's a minor inconvenience I put up with so I can avoid having to do the budget myself.
Granddaughter #1 is being baptized this weekend (we do this at age 8 in our church), so we're headed on another trip south to Kentucky. It'll be quick, so not much time for anything other than the ceremony. Not sure when or where my weekend run will be.
Guess that's all I've got. Boring, I know.
Monday: If you didn’t read what I did on Monday, you really should!
Tuesday – Saturday: REST. I know, I know. I really shouldn’t be taking so many rest days but I’m just being cautious. I haven’t felt my shin a single bit in almost a week now! I had two pretty strenuous back-to-back weekend hikes and those didn’t make things worse. My calves got sore from the Aspen to CB hike, but not as bad as I was expecting! That tells me that my muscles are finally getting stronger and getting use to the long hikes.
Sunday: RUNDAY! Well, I’m not sure if you can call it a run but I did conduct my first running motion since September 8th. UGH. It was also the first long-sleeved t-shirt and headband run of the season. (WTF does Colorado always have to skip Fall?! I literally passed a car with snow on it on my way to work this morning.)
Anywho, I waited until 9:30AM to go out for the test run, and it was still 40 degrees. It was a nice morning though and smelled like fall outside. I walked down to the creek from the house, and did 2.5 miles of run/walk. I would feel some shin pain as soon as I picked it up, but it wasn’t anything intense, just dull. I was expecting that since I haven’t had any hard impact on it in a month. I was wearing my Altras and was running on dirt, just to make it that much easier on my shin.
I plan to get back to it this week and will be hitting up the gym and hiking some. I’ll probably do some easy runs on Tuesday and Thursday because I really need to be getting in some mileage again. Not sure when I’ll make the call of switching to the half at Rehoboth or not, but I’ll have to make sure I do it before the race fills up.
Thanks for reading,
September 2018 in review
Total mileage for the month: 305.4 -- in comparison: January - 207, February - 254, March - 298, April - 307, May - 355, June - 232, July - 290, August - 357
August 27-Sep. 2: 75.8
Sep. 3-9: 73.0
Sep. 10-16: 80.1
Sep. 17-23: 81.7
Sep. 24-30: 57.7 (planned cut-back week, but ended up being lower than the 70ish planned because I missed cool down miles on Sep. 29, then took Sep. 30 off due to a calf issue)
This month sure illustrated how running can give us major highs and significant lows, even within the span of 30 days!
Signaling low battery in sync with my
training partner Rebecca
Sep. 3 - Run for a Child 10K in 37:55 for 1st overall female. I was thrilled to slip in under 38 and net a course PR after a conservative start and with less effort than I've put into this hilly, warm, humid race in past years.
Sep. 9 - Plaza 10K in 36:34 for a bright shiny new PR! This race really couldn't have gone any better...well, unless the 5 women who beat me had instead slept in that day (but I was the fastest in age group 35-39)! I was pretty much elated about this one for remainder of the month.
Sep. 22 - Gill Family Fall Festival 5K, although I ran this as a recovery run instead of a race I won overall person in 21:01 (see: tiny small town 5Ks).
Sep. 29 - Indy Women's Half Marathon in 1:24:19 for 6th overall and my worst decision of the month (turned a minor calf problem into a major issue). I did not get to show my fitness in this race due to the calf injury (I believe I was in shape for 1:18:50-1:19:30), but my husband told me, "Now you know you can run a 1:24 on one leg", hah.
Sep. 5: 12.5 miles with 0.15 pick-ups at the beginning of the final 5 miles - 6:57 pace for all 12.5; pick-up paces of 5:33, 5:40, 5:47, 5:33, 6:07. I almost turned around and ran the final push in the opposite direction so I could avoid the uphill and hit a faster pace, but then I figured I'd get more benefit from the hard uphill so I continued on but couldn't get it under 6:00 (grade-adjusted pace was 5:49 though, thank you Strava!). This was just a tiny workout within a medium long run midweek, but I was really happy with the run as a whole because I distinctly remember running 12 miles two days after the Run for a Child 10K last year; I remember it because it was one of my worst runs of that season due to residual fatigue. 12 miles felt soooo long that day! So before this one I was a little concerned that would happen again, but instead I felt good! I ran 3.1 miles from my house to meet Rebecca, ran a 6 mile loop with her, then ran 3.4 miles (a different route) back home. Anytime I do this it splits the run up mentally and makes it seem short.
Sep. 12: 6.2 mile 3', 2', 1' fartlek with recoveries equal to the next push, 3.1 warm up, 2.2 cool down. My push paces were 5:44, 5:39, 5:34, 5:38, 5:28, 5:48, 5:42, 5:46, 5:24, 5:43. I ran this with Ben, who was a college miler, and he told me that I recover like a long distance runner (7:10ish pace on those) and sent me out to run on the outside of the road on the loop while he got the inside (lane 8 vs. lane 1 basically), haha!
Sep. 18: 5 x 1 mile road repeats in 5:41, 5:50, 5:50, 5:53, 5:51 (5:49 average), 0.25 recoveries, 2.2 warm up, 2 cool down. My goal pace range for this workout was 5:34-5:50, and I was feeling confident coming off the Plaza 10K and lined up to run with Ben, who always helps me run faster than I run alone. Even though the workout was more repeats with half the recovery distance of my PR mile repeat workout, I decided beforehand that I was going to try to better that average -- possibly an unreasonable goal, but I was being stubborn and refusing to admit the difference between 0.25 vs. 0.5 recoveries and the effect of 1 more rep. The first repeat went just as I wanted, and felt hard but do-able. Unfortunately Ben strained his calf about 0.75 in and pulled out of that repeat, then intelligently called it a day. Repeat 2 alone felt much harder even running slower, and I really had to fight in the final bit to get my pace down to 5:50. I was a little discouraged, but told myself maybe I was just finding my rhythm and the rest would be better. The rest were pretty much the same, fighting for the top of the pace range or not quite that. I milked those 0.25 recoveries for all they were worth, running over 8:00 pace, and even walking for about 20 seconds each during the final 2. I certainly stick by my hypothesis that I can run about 10 seconds/mile faster when I have someone to push me, and I think I could have stayed in the 5:40s if Ben had been able to run the whole workout with me, but I sure couldn't get back down to that gear by myself. I was somewhat disappointed that I did not come anywhere near my best mile repeats, and that my average pace was "only" 10K race pace, but I am also trying to remind myself that I can't compare workouts run during 55 mile weeks (as was the case with my PR mile repeat workout) to workouts run during 80 mile weeks. It is also probably unfair to compare workouts run alone to workouts run with others. It was 68*, dew point 68*, so also not as nice as my 10K PR weather. I gave it my all out there under the circumstances!
Sep. 25: 10 x 400 m of regression - splits of 1:25, 1:25, 1:25, 1:26, 1:27, 1:28, 1:28, 1:28, 1:29, 1:30 (goal range was 1:21-1:24). This was not my day! I think it was just the perfect storm of several things that were not conducive to a good workout: 71* with a dew point of 71*, tiredness, GI issues/a minor stomach bug, and a calf niggle. This wasn't the first time I couldn't hit my 10K pace on 400 m repeats and probably won't be the last time either, bahaha! This was one of those workouts I just had to laugh about in order to not be upset about...you can't win 'em all, and I sure can't seem to win at 400 m repeats this year!
Doubles on Sep. 6, 10, 12, 18, 19, 24, and 25.
Strides on Sep. 2, 13, 20, 27, 28, and at least few before races and workouts.
Full body strength workouts - Like last month, I completed my full strength circuit twice per week and also did 5-10 minutes of core work more days than not. I also did some extra rehab exercises often for a couple of niggles I had this month.
Favorite workout: I felt the best on the Sep. 12 fartlek, which coincidentally also had by far the best weather!
Albani came outside at the end of a run we'd all
started from my house, so got in Amy's daily
Lululemon photo with us!
Sep. 9: 17.5 miles via 3 warm up, the Plaza 10K, and 8.25 cool down. This sure didn't feel like a 17+ mile day, thanks to my post-PR high and the company of Michelle, Jessi, and Janell on the cool down. I brought chews and a gel on the cool down...I have learned my lesson about hungry cool downs! Janell ate an apple on the cool down, which I found quite impressive.
Sep. 15: 18.5 miles (6:52). Let the true long runs really begin! I had company the first 9 miles (Ben, Claudio, and Missy), and then finished it up solo. I ran this fasted, although I carried a just-in-case gel. I felt strong throughout this one!
Sep. 21 (Friday): 16.2 miles (7:16). I ran this one a day early due to our weekend plans, and I didn't feel as perky for it as I usually do for long runs. Usually I run 4 miles on Fridays, which my coach calls my "rest day", and it truly makes a difference. I didn't feel bad on this one, but just didn't have as much pep in my step or glycogen in my muscles. I had Missy with me for about 10 miles, and Rebecca for 8 miles, and it went by quickly. It was what I presume will be my last summer weather run, at 75*and 90% humidity (I will welcome cooler temps and lower humidity, but I also believe I get a lot of training gains from running in crap weather). All in all, it is always great to knock out a nearly 2 hour run before work!
Sep. 29: 16.2 miles via 3.1 warm up and the Indy Women’s Half. I missed my cool down mileage, but I couldn’t even walk to the car after the race, so there was no chance.
I didn't run long on September 1 because I ran that one a day early on August 31, which in turn got me to a monthly mileage PR in August while subtracting from my September mileage total...but no regrets because with September having only 30 days and 2 of my goal races, it meant no chance for a monthly mileage PR anyhow (plus I lost miles on Sep. 29-30).
Favorite long run: Since there were only two outside of races, I choose the longer - the 18.5 miler!
Smiles from Miles from Mentor group members
(we need a Hoka One One sponsorship!)
On Sep. 13 I experienced a first, when a horse that was out of its fence followed my friend Missy and I during our early morning 10 miler. I've encountered cattle out of their fences before, but this was the first horse. Our conversation went something like this: "OMG, Sara, it's chasing us, what do we do?!"- Missy. "Just keep running, I don't want to stop my watch!"- me. I knew there was nothing we could do to return the horse to where it belonged, plus it was unclear where it actually belonged (we were between about 10 different farms), so I told Missy to call the non-emergency number for the county sheriff. When she did, they told her to call 911, so she did that to report the horse's location. It was a dangerous situation for the horse and any oncoming traffic (although there is really no traffic on this road, it was about a half mile from a highway). We continued our run after it stopped chasing us, so I hope it was returned to the appropriate location safely, but I know enough to know not to try to handle an unfamiliar large animal! Missy also thought to snap pictures of me while she was freaking out; if I'd have known she was taking them I'd have turned off my headlamp.
Another random first - I found a completely unopened scrapbooking pack laying in the road at the end of a lunch run from my office. Too bad it wasn't one I'd like to use! I had to pick it up for the pure weirdness of it though.
The last 10 or so days of the month I had a calf issue, which really blew up at the Indy Women’s Half (I limped through 9 miles of the race). I had a hamstring niggle I was able to train through in late August/early September, and it completely resolved with some extra attention to strengthening and rolling, but the calf thing didn’t respond as well, and by trying to race on it I doomed myself to some days off, in addition to strengthening, stretching, foam rolling, and ART. I plan to write a separate blog about this also, because hindsight is 20/20 and I know exactly what I did wrong during the final week of the month (the race was the nail in the coffin, but I made a few other errors as well). Hopefully others can learn from my mistakes!
RIP to my running streak - January 27, 2018 to September 29, 2018. I never streak just to streak, and even if I did, I could barely walk on September 30 so there would have been no chance!
You can't say I'm not visible! I was also returning to over-
dressing for heat adaptation on this 70 degree run
Not horsing around
Found on my run...
We had events every weekend this month!
Labor Day weekend we traveled to Arkansas to visit a friend, visit the fun Bentonville area, and to race a 10K. This was our fourth year in a row doing this, so it's become a tradition that I'm not willing to give up, even though it's not an ideal match with running the Plaza 10K 6 days later.
The weekend of September 8-9 I traveled to Kansas City to run the Plaza 10K and to work at our Kansas City division.
Albani had her 11th birthday bash on September 15 at the Ozark Community Center pool. Her actual birthday was on September 18, which was also her school picture day. After running mile repeats I still managed to curl her hair.
Jon and I celebrated our anniversary on September 17...he got me a trip to Sacramento at the beginning of December, which was exactly what I asked for (CIM!).
The weekend of September 22-23 we traveled to Southeast Kansas for a community event fundraiser for one of Jon's closest friend's family members who has Lou Gehrig's disease (more details here).
The last weekend of the month I made the trek to Indianapolis with my parents, to run the Indy Women's half. We had some other fun planned afterward, but ended up heading back home post-race since both my mom and I were having problems walking...it was not our finest day!
My mom made this; the photo was taken after
the Tiger Trot 2016
I got to dine with my 7-year-old nephew while in
Birthday + school picture day
Excuse the dead plants in the background
Bandit is still nearly as big as Albani!
Crazy amazing slip and slide
I was in awe
I can't convince everyone to plunch (planks at lunch) with me,
at work so sometimes I just ask people to lay on my
office floor & chat while I do daily core, hah!
She wore this medal for 2 days straight + our
cat is huge
Our Sep. 30 visitors
Family photo to close out the month
In 2016, the Hinson Lake 24 Hour Ultra Classic was the race that earned me my first buckle. I completed 109 miles that weekend and knew that I would return after recovering from experiencing some of the highest highs and lowest lows.
In 2017, I trained hard. Really, really hard. I ran half marathons on weekdays and spent 6-7 hours running each weekend. I had big goals going into the race and ended up with nearly 116 miles, a new 100 mile PR, and a course record.
At the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, I signed up for my 3rd Hinson Lake 24 Hour Ultra Classic. I had just come off a new 6 hour PR and had some successful marathons despite doing zero road marathon training. I felt strong and good and happy.
Fast forward through 9 months that consisted of 2 stress fractures and all the recovery processes that came with them. I had a reasonably successful half- marathon (+warm up and cool down =16 total miles) the weekend prior at Augusta and with the notion of getting in a long run before NYC, I had a plan. I would run 20ish on Saturday morning at HL24, 5ish on Saturday evening and 6ish on Sunday morning. This would give me a nice 50K and not tax my body too much.
Photo cred: Tim Garriss
It was incredibly humid the day before the race and it did not appear to be getting any better according to weather predictions. I crawled into my tent that night, almost sweating on top of my sleeping bag. Luckily, my superpower is sleeping anywhere, anytime and I found I had dozed off easily when someone latecomers woke me up dragging their cooler through the sand just outside my tent at 11 p.m.
I didn't even set my watch alarm because I knew the hubbub of the morning would wake me up. People started stirring around 5-something and I eventually made the trek to the lodge to pee. There was still plenty of time and I lounged around, eating my overnight oats and eventually getting all my gear laid out like I wouldn't have any time to stop. It was hard to disassociate myself from the fact that I would have plenty of time to comb through my snacks.
I pinned on my bib and headed over to the start. I watched Ray receive his 1,000 mile jacket and put my hand over my heart for the national anthem. And then we were off!
The first few laps, I ran in stride with Matt, keeping the pace around 11 minute miles and conversation light. We parted ways around the 4th loop and I continued on while he conserved himself for a long day and night. I was enjoying the easy effort after the half marathon pace from the prior weekend. Thought it wasn't ideal to be going as slow for NYC, it really was better for my psyche to have the time on my feet and the easier effort.
Photo Cred: Peter Asciutto
The air was like soup and while I was having huge feelings of FOMO not going for big miles, I was also a little relieved that I wasn't going for big miles.
Round and round I went on the 1.5 mile loop. I grabbed peanut butter pretzels, mixed sweet tea with water, and didn't worry about the pace on my watch. With the 1.5 mile loop, I either had to run 19.5 miles or 21 so clearly I opted for 21. When I got through that lap, I had been toying with the idea of doing a marathon and then stopping for a bit. So I keep running through 22.5 and in the middle of that lap, I came somewhat to my senses and told myself to stop no matter what at that lap.
It was really, really hard to make myself go sit down.
Which sounds insane if you aren't a runner. Most people would probably be relieved to go sit at nearly 23 miles. But I was frustrated for a bit that I wasn't healthy enough to continue running without screwing up my progress.
So I sat.
About 30 minutes went by before Rachelle came to sit and asked if I had any of the pizza yet. My A goal was to eat the pizza hot!
The start/finish line was about a quarter mile in the wrong direction from our camp so anytime I wanted to eat or drink, I opted to just take a 1.5 mile lap instead of backtracking. So I got up and walked a lap so I could grab some hot pizza.
And then I sat again.
I grew restless and decided to go on a slushie run to Sonic. Jen had mentioned it the day before and I thought it would be A) a forced way for me to not be racing B) a nice treat for Jen and C) a nice treat for other people. I managed to get there during happy hour and sat in line for 20 minutes in the drive-thru. Yes, it was super weird to leave a race in the middle of the race, drive to a fast food place, and come back.
I doled out the slushies and had a few extras that I hawked like scalped tickets on the corner of the trail. It took less than a minute to find takers for the extras. One guy thanked me at least 3 times throughout the rest of the race!
Jay came and got his gear from me and then I walked another lap at one point with Jen and then did a few running laps with Matt. I turned on my GPS for a bit on the running laps, but then just decided to keep it off for the rest of the race.
Everything else I did after those last 4.5 miles of running were strictly walking. I walked when they had hamburgers and chicken tenders at dinner and marveled how I never even realized they had those before. Maybe they didn't? All I know is that I definitely wouldn't have been eating them 8-9 hours into the race if I was chasing big miles!
I walked when Jen needed company. I walked a bit with Win and Paul. I walked after sitting in my camp chair for extended sessions.I ran into old Hinson friends (hey Tim!) and made new ones. And I actually felt really, really good!
Photo cred: Tim Garriss
After the sun set, I did a few more walking laps and then decided to try to get some rest so that I could be alert for Matt and Jen if they wanted company in the evil 2am- 5am time. With all the walking laps after I ran 22.5 + 4.5 or so earlier in the day, I was at 43 miles by about 10:30pm. I got into my tent and passed out almost immediately, but had the wherewithal to set my alarm for 2am.
When my watch alarm went off at 2am, I reset it for 2:15am and laid in my tent for a few more minutes. At 2:15am, I stumbled out of my tent and got ready in case if anyone wanted company. I refreshed the tracker and saw Matt had not crossed the mat in awhile and I immediately went to his tent and starting shaking it. Discovering he was not inside, I stood and waited. He arrived shortly thereafter looking pretty rough. Everything was hurting and despite my cajoling him with calories, hydration, Biofreeze, and the promise he could do it just by putting one foot in front of the other, he was not interested in making another step at the moment.
I actually felt annoyingly refreshed from my 3 hour nap and decided to walk a lap. And then a couple more. And then I sat for awhile and walked a few more laps. Laurie was at the aid station at this point and I was actually kind of hungry so it was fun to just go 'round and 'round, walking and getting snacks with each loop.
One of the many silly things that this race does is have a bunch of garden gnomes all over the course. Runners move them to different spots the entire 24 hours. There was once with a snorkel that ended up in multiple puddles. They stick them on the trail, on the sewer drain tops, next to trees, etc. I had never moved one in my prior two races, so it seemed like a good year to walk with one for a bit and I left it on a bench on the footbridge over the lake.
I hit 50 miles total and took another short break before the sky started to lighten up. More and more people returned to the race as the clock wound down and I went back to walking. I brought my phone with me to take some pictures of the sunrise and the signs on the course. My legs were starting to get a bit tired, but as it neared 8am, I kept a decent walking pace.
I crossed the timing mat around 7:30 or so and grabbed my banana for the banana lap. Volunteers write your number on a banana and a horn blares right at 8am. You drop your banana on the side of the trail and they measure out your last lap to add to your total mileage. I ended up crossing the timing mat one more time and kept going for about a minute past our campsite.
58.82 miles total!
Jen had been pushing for a top 10 female placement in the final couple of hours and I loved watching her get all competitive. Spoiler alert: she did it! We were all pretty exhausted from our individual efforts and decided to sit around enjoying breakfast beers before breaking down our camps.
I definitely was FAR more awake than in years past going home and while I had 58 miles on my body, I was actually not very sore all things considering. My feet and ankles were a little puffy and I had a funky rash/skin irritation from the sand and grit in my shoes. However, I had no blisters and my chafing was pretty minimal. Woot!
I was worried I might have overdid it on the walking in retrospect and made sure to stick to my post-race plans of complete rest for a couple of days. By Wednesday, all the tightness had subsided and I breathed a sigh of relief that everything felt really, really good! After a week of very short runs, I will be ready to return to go into the last 4 weeks of marathon training on Monday. I have no idea what my fitness will look like on November 4th, but I'm excited to toe the line healthy!
The year was 1998. It was a chilly, windy and overcast Pennsylvania fall day. It was all I could do to drag myself across campus to class. Staring at the teacher, not hearing a word he said I could not imagine how I would make it back home and back to bed where I wanted to be.
It had been like this for a while. My days revolved around going to class, going to work, and going to bed. When I was awake, I was a walking zombie. My waitress job wiped me out every night. Being the only one in my class who had to have a job during the school year, my main professor was used to giving me extensions on projects and assignments. It’s not that I didn’t have time, its that I couldn’t concentrate long enough to do the work. I was barely 19 and was not going to parties or even spending time with friends. My closest family member was a 3.5 hour drive away and had their own lives.
Leaving class that day, I just couldn’t do it. I made a slit-second decision to head to the college nurse’s office. I told her I was so tired, could I just lay down for a few minutes? She made me comfortable and gently started to ask me questions and examine me. After taking my blood pressure, she asked if I was dizzy. It was pretty low (90/50), even for me. She covered me with a blanket and left me be. After 20 or so minutes, I got up and gathered my things, thanking the nurse for letting me rest. She strongly suggested I get some rest (that’s all I have been doing!) and see my doctor. My childhood doctor was over an hour away and I had no idea how I’d find the energy to drive there. That was out of the question. As I walked home I racked my fuzzy brain- what in the past had cleared my mind and given me energy?
Although not what most would call athletic, I played and loved sports since elementary school. Running was a part of every one of those sports. So even if I couldn’t (or didn’t have the energy) find someone to play basketball or soccer with, I could always run. I always loved the buzz after a hard practice or game. I needed to do something. Maybe this was it.
The night after my senior prom, just 16 or so months before this cloudy, northeast day, my mom died. She had ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. She had been diagnosed when I was 16 and it was an outrageously quick progression of this disease plus preexisting mental illness that led her to somehow manage to swallow a bottle full of zanax even though she struggled with speech and tongue control. My father and I had been caretakers, splitting up duties depending on his factory work schedule and my school/athletics schedules. Although the end was near regardless of her actions, you are never prepared. I was not prepared for my father’s grief. My father was not prepared to care for a lost 17 year-old girl. Those few summer months before I got to go to school were the longest. I avoided my father like the plague. He needed me, but I truly had nothing to give. Move-in day at my first college could not come soon enough. One of my sisters accompanied dad and I that day. Dad never stepped foot in my dorm room, choosing to stay in our handicap/wheelchair van we no longer needed.
A college dorm full of girls who had no idea what the last year of my life had been like was exactly what I needed. Immersing myself in teenage girl drama was the best soother. Soon after I started class, my dad moved to a retirement community in Florida. He had retired just days before my mom’s fatal choice. I no longer could go “home” but figured my dorm was now home and that would do. That first school year progressed and spring came. A memo was slipped under our doors one day, letting us know what days the dorms would close. Yep, I was totally clueless. I had spent Christmas with my half sister and her mom (my dad’s second wife whom he was married to before my mom… my family is an odd assortment of halfs and wholes due to multiple divorces), it hadn’t registered that the dorms actually CLOSE on holidays. What would I do for Easter? SHIT- what would I do for the summer? Dad and my family never offered a place for me to stay for the summer. A number of college buddies offered to take me home with them. But I didn’t want to bring them down. I was aware how most people did not know how to handle my grief, and repeatedly I ended up comforting them while I struggled.
Thinking of what few options I had was overwhelming and I crashed back into depression. I just wanted my mom to be alive and I wanted to go home. The closest I could come in my mind was heading back upstate and transferring to a school about an hour from my hometown. This way I would be close to my high school friends. I could get an apartment in a town I was at least familiar with, a place I could live year round. I could go to a school where some of my high school classmates were enrolled.
The college fitness center was eerily empty on that Friday night. The florescent lights seemed to echo and bounce off the still equipment. It reminded me of an all-night grocery store at 2 am. Or an airport after the last inbound flight of the night. I dragged myself up on a treadmill and hit the quickstart button. I don’t remember how long or far I ran. But what I do remember is the surge of clarity. A few of the cobwebs got blown out. A little humming in my soul.
In the last 20 years I have run through grief and the associated waves of depression.
I have run through fear.
I have run as celebration.
I have run to remember.
I have run to feel alive.
I have run to forget.
Every major event since that day has been marked with a run. I am not fast. I normally do not go all that far.
It doesn’t matter. I’m not sure what would have happened to that college kid all those years ago if she hadn’t got on the treadmill and went for her first true “run”. But I’m sure glad she did.
I think I'll go for a run tonight.
Sometimes it’s difficult to know whether to toe the line or DNS. It can be even harder to know when a DNF would be the best call. I now know I should have made the first choice about the Indy Women’s Half Marathon, but if I had to start the race again I would have made the second choice, pride and other considerations aside. But I’m getting ahead of myself...
After I PRed at the Plaza 10K at the beginning of the month, I felt really good about trying for a half PR in Indy. Typically I don’t have to slow down much from a 10K to a half; last year my differential between the 2017 Plaza 10K and the 2017 Indy Women’s half was 8 seconds/mile. To hit my big goal time of sub-1:20 at Indy, I could slow down about 14 seconds/mile from what I ran at this year's Plaza. I felt really good about going for that, and thought if the weather was good and I could get in a fast pack that 1:18:59 would be realistic.
Starting about 10 days before the race, I felt a niggle in my calf (another post coming with full details about this). Initially it was too tiny to even worry about, and loosened up after a few blocks or at most a mile into my runs, but 6 days before the race it started getting worse and I started worrying. I did not enjoy my runs like usual during race week, because I was worried that my body was betraying me. I also had a short but intense stomach bug on Tuesday during race week that certainly didn’t do my recovery or body as a whole any favors. I had ART for my calf twice during race week, hoping for relief.
I really vacillated on whether or not I should start the race, and had pretty much backed out, but the lightened up mileage of race week had me feeling like a race horse and I became optimistic that I could race and then take a few days off afterward to address the issue. On Thursday morning I told my parents my decision to race, since they were traveling to my home that day to leave for Indy with me on Friday morning. When I went in for ART on Thursday evening my coach told me he did not think racing on it would make it worse or that it would jeopardize CIM in any way, so I felt validated in my decision. He didn’t even think I’d need time off afterward as I expressed. He said it was a minor strain to my peroneus longus, a stabilizing muscle on the outside of the calf. I also rationalized it away by deciding that if this turned into a season-ending injury, I would be happy that I went to Indy to go for a PR because I might never get to my current fitness level again. Worst case scenario, I wanted a last hurrah.
Throughout this time, my instincts were screaming at me: “Don’t do it! This is a bad idea!” I wouldn’t listen; I told myself I would power through the pain, mind over matter. I was honored to be featured as one of the Five Women to Watch in the race, but this honor also greatly contributed to my stubbornness about a DNS. I was already printed in the race program; what a loser I would be for pulling out last-minute. The weather forecast was also perfect for racing, at 50* and light wind (bad weather would have made pulling out much easier).
This was NOT the photo I submitted to be published, & IS
the worst photo of me from the 2017 event...not sure what
happened there, but it disappointed me
Starting photo from 2017 - can you find me?
Posing with bib #3
My sweet mom
My sweet dad
Race morning my calf hurt on my warm up, but I was used to the feeling from the week before. It wasn’t terrible and I figured I’m just power through. Prior to this race, I'd never really tried to race with an injury so didn't know the reality of your body simply not allowing it to happen, no matter what your mind says. As the race started, adrenaline took over, and I told myself, “See, you’ll be fine.” I could tell I was running tentatively but thought maybe it would warm up more and I could speed up then; I wanted to go out conservatively and negative split anyhow. I felt like I was in my own little world, just me and my calf, not like I was in a race; although I knew by mile 3 I’d moved up to 5th place in the all women's field. I looked at my first 3 splits and then stopped checking them, disheartened, because my leg wasn't working right.
Trying to stay optimistic pre-race
By mile 4 I was limping. I couldn’t focus on racing or the women ahead of me; all I could think about was my leg. I tried changing my stride slightly, varied my foot-strike, anything for some relief, but nothing helped. I went back and forth between telling myself “this was a terrible idea” and “you’re going to be just fine, it’s just getting warmed up, just don't think about it.” My body was fine otherwise; I wasn't putting out a race effort, which was discouraging. I kept telling myself to toughen up; to just power through. Mind over matter. Make that leg work; force it to feel normal.
I made it through the halfway turn around in a solid 5th place. I knew by that point that my sought after PR was for sure out the window, but I hoped I could stay in the top 5. By mile 7 I was becoming increasingly concerned about my calf, and by mile 8 I was truly dragging my left leg along. My body kept saying, “just stop” but my mind wouldn’t listen. I thought about my seeded race ranking. I thought about my parents who’d traveled to watch me. I thought about how this could be my last run for awhile...what if this was my last race ever?!
By mile 10 I was truly worried my leg was going to give out with each step. My body begged me to stop, and my mind acquiesced that I would if I couldn’t hang on to a top 10 spot. I stumbled along, and a slight decline in mile 11 truly made my leg scream (had this course not been so flat I would certainly not have finished). At mile 12 I was still in 5th but I could tell someone was coming up on me. I knew I’d have no response when I was passed. She blew by me like I was standing still, and I figured several more were coming, but there was nothing I could do, and I was so close I knew I'd finish even if I crawled it in. Effort-wise I felt like I was out for an easy run, but my leg was shooting pain and wouldn’t move any faster. My positive splits told the story of my increasing discomfort.
I was so relieved to see the finish line ahead; I was going to make it in. It's funny how adrenaline carried me to the line but not a step farther. I had no idea what my time would be, but it didn’t matter at that point. I crossed in 1:24:18 and immediately broke into tears. If I’d just had an off day and run this time it would have been quite disappointing, but it wouldn’t have shaken me in my pursuit of a marathon PR; my recent 10Ks showed me my fitness was at an all-time high. I cried because at that moment I was certain my season was over. I got my last hurrah race but I couldn’t show my fitness in it. I was too stubborn to quit but not stubborn enough to over-ride my own body; I couldn’t force my leg to be okay.
Exactly how I felt photo 1
Exactly how I felt photo 2
Hindsight is 20/20, and I should have listened to my own body and head instead of what others told me. The whole week my gut told me no. I prayed about it and thought God told me no. I did it anyway. I was wrong. But I also didn’t know until I knew, and by then the damage was done.
Post-race I couldn't walk without holding onto someone or something. My cool down mileage wasn’t an option, and my dad ended up walking to the car and coming back to pick me up. To add injury to injury, my poor mom tripped and fell while trying to get from the start to a spot a few blocks away where we would later run by. She scraped and bruised her face, broke her glasses, and bruised up her knee and body. I was just sick about this happening to her; I felt like it was all my fault for not staying at home in Missouri like I clearly should have. Instead of having fun in Indy post-race, we headed home since we both couldn't really walk.
Most of the top 10, in no particular order
We both visited the med tent for ice!
I’m thankful I was able to finish, even though I shouldn’t have. I’m thankful I held on to 6th (video of the awards here; official results here). Happiness is based on happenings, but joy is based on Jesus. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t very unhappy, but I am aiming to choose joy. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” - Joshua 1:9
Going from running 80 miles a week to 0 is a huge mind-trip, but I know that is what I have to do until I'm pain-free. I’m not going to do anything to risk permanent damage. As much as I want to run CIM 2018 in 2:44:59, I want to run for the rest of my life so much more. The good news is that I've had significant improvements every day post-race, and no longer fear that this is season-ending (plus I was able to go to work on Monday then walk across the Missouri State campus to teach on Tuesday, both of which I'd been quite concerned about!).
I didn't know I shouldn't have run until I did...now, I know.
Post-race meal at Texas Roadhouse
Fitting rest stop on the drive to the race
2 days after the race while I was on the spin bike
my cat knocked my award on my workout room
floor...it felt sadly symbolic
Week 8 has come and gone and I haven’t ran since the end of Week 5. I’ve tried to take the shin splints seriously because it can turn into something much worse that would take me out longer. Consequently, with only 10 weeks to go, the chances of being able to run a marathon in December are starting to look quite bleak. If feel a PR is definitely off the table, but I do still hope to run the 26.2 miles.
I basically didn’t do anything during the week. Aunt Flo came for a visit on Monday and I felt like asssssssssssss the whole week. I didn’t do a single thing until Thursday!
Monday – Wednesday: Nothing. Even though I did nothing, my shin finally started not hurting while walking! That’s a big deal! (I almost said HUGE but that word has forever lost all value) The hike in Telluride had NO EFFECT on my shin! I actually hadn’t gotten excited about that until writing this (10/2)!
Thursday: 2.5 mile hike at Apex Park – I had carpooled with W and we went straight to the park after work. I was only going to hike for as long as he was going to run, which ended up being a little over an hour. The hike was fine but boring – I did get to hear and see some bugling elk! It was good to get some fresh air.
Friday – Saturday: Nothing. Ugh. I really let my motivation go away this week, although I was preparing for a great adventure that I’d be doing on Sunday and Monday…
Sunday – Monday (of Week 9): The hike from Aspen to Crested Butte AND BACK! This totally made up for the lousy week that I had, and then some! When I’d initially talked to my friend, Bria, about doing this, I thought she only wanted to go one way. It wasn’t until a week before the trip that I realized she wanted to do an out and back! I was stoked as this would be an almost 22 mile adventure!
Sunday: I got up at 2:45AM (yes, that’s right) to throw myself together, as Bria would be picking me up at 3:20. I’d been a good girl and had everything packed and ready to go on Saturday night. One of Bria’s co-workers, Summer, was going with us as well so it was set to be an awesome ladies adventure! We got to Aspen around 7:00, parked, got a shuttle to the trail head, and began our hike sometime after 8am. We figured that 11 miles should take us 6-7 hours at most – more on THAT later.
Beautiful colors on the Aspen side
I didn’t weigh my pack, but based on how wrong I usually am about how much my pack weighs, I’m guessing it was about 40 pounds (felt much heavier). 40 pounds might not sound like a lot but it is when you are carrying it over 11 miles and 3200′ of elevation gain.
This was during the first couple miles
There were a ton of people around during the first couple miles, until we reached Crater Lake (a “lake” that was bone dry – they like to call all bodies of water around here lakes too, btw. Cracks me up!). Crater Lake was only two miles in but it took us over an hour to do it. Those first couple miles were the most beautiful, as far as fall colors go and being able to see the Maroon Bells. Those mountains are so majestic and it makes it look like you’re looking at a painting right in front of you.
Bria at Crater Lake
It usually takes me a couple miles to warm up (running or hiking) so I was feeling better by the time we got to Crater Lake, and it actually leveled off a tad then. We were all kind of going at our own pace but whoever was in front would stop to wait for the rest to catch up. I ended up being in front after several miles as the incline got steeper.
Headed towards the pass
From the Aspen side, it is about 6.5 miles to West Maroon Pass at just under 12,500′. You can see the pass from far off and it felt like it took forever to get to the top. The weather so far had been perfect, although a tad warm. I had on a t-shirt and capri-length pants. I wore my Nike Wildhorse 4 trail shoes for the hike because I’m not a fan of hiking boots (which I’m sure you’ve gathered from previous posts). They worked great for the hike, minus some really rocky parts.
You can see the top of the pass there. The willows were just beautiful – picture doesn’t do it justice.
We stopped at the top of the pass and took a longer break. Bria wasn’t feeling too well and said she experienced her first taste of a bit of altitude sickness. Carrying a heavy pack at altitude can bring out all sorts of things – refer back to my Mt. Shavano hike. Once she said she didn’t feel good, we knew we needed to start descending and it was quite windy on the other side of the pass.
Top of West Maroon Pass
The Crested Butte side wasn’t nearly as pretty as the Aspen side. We were expecting/hoping to see lots of aspens but there wasn’t a single one on that side. The willows and some of the other ground cover was really pretty, and you could tell it would be covered with wildflowers in the spring – I would love to see that side in the spring. The descent was just under four miles but it felt like it took FOREVER. We were just ready to get those packs off our backs.
This was our first view of the Crested Butte side. You can see all those spruce trees out there.
We finally reached the East Fork trail head and dumped our packs. Strava said our moving time was 5:40 but our elapsed time had been 8:11. Wowza. The trail head had nothing but a sign – no trash cans, bathrooms, nothing. We set up our tents – Bria and I in one and Summer in another. We pointed the tent doors at one another, just in case, and we’d be sleeping at about 10,500′. I’d brought a package meal for dinner – it wasn’t freeze dried and it was self-heating. It was a bacon hash which turned out to be YUMMY, but was only 260 calories! I didn’t realize that until I was finished and still hungry. Bria had a two-serving meal so I had several big spoonfuls of hers.
This was coming down the Crested Butte side of the pass
The only thing at the trail head were signs, one of which that said we needed a bear canister for our food. We’d brought dry bags and a rope so that we could hang it in a tree, but the only trees around were spruce – not ideal for hanging bear bags. You’re supposed to hang it from at least 4′ out from the tree but all the limbs were really short and close together. I walked around for a while before I found anything remotely suitable, and it was a dead limb. I only needed two tries to get the rope where I wanted it! Yeehaw! We each just left our food in the bags that we brought but they were HEAVY! I really didn’t think the limb would hold but it did!
Not really the right way to do it but it worked!
Monday: It rained on us most of the night and luckily we’d put our packs inside the tents. I used my Jet Boil to make water to refill my bottles, coffee, and to cook the hot quinoa blueberry cereal that I’d brought. We’d planned to be headed back by 7am but we didn’t wake up until then! By the time we did everything it was already 8:30 and we would need to be back to catch a shuttle by 5pm. Sounds like plenty of time but we didn’t want to chance anything – we knew we’d have to push through pain to make sure we got back in time.
The way back to Aspen would be “easier” because there is only about 2,400′ of gain but 2000′ of that is in that first four miles back up to the pass. We’d be working against tired legs and sore body parts from carrying the packs the previous day. We made it up the four miles in two hours which isn’t too bad! All along the way we kept smelling something that resembled wet dog. I think it was all of the dead wildflowers along the ground and the rain that had dampened them. Phew! Also, my Garmin was going dead so I decided to stop it at the top of the pass and use my phone/Strava for the rest. It worked even though I had no service! I thought that was super cool.
Summer, Me, and Bria at the top of the pass going back!
Once we crossed over the pass, it started to rain and we had 6.5 miles to go. Up to that point, it had been cool with an overcast – very nice. It was only a drizzle but enough to wear a rain jacket; I stayed pretty comfortable minus the fatigue and soreness from the pack. At one point I couldn’t do simple math by adding the four miles from my Garmin and the 3 miles Strava was saying. I announced to the gals, “We only have two miles to go! WOOOOO!” It took me two miles to realize my mistake, but apparently the gals already knew I was stoopid.
I was tired and water logged…
When we got to Crater Lake with two miles to go, we were DONE. None of us wanted to go any further but knew we had to. We threw the packs back on and went for it. I find that if I just zone out, the miles go by quicker. This is the one big thing I don’t like about backpacking… When the discomfort gets too great, you miss out on the great scenery around you.
We made it back in plenty of time for one of the shuttles; our total elapsed time for the return was about 7 hours, over an hour faster than the day before. Once we got back to the car, it was time to drive the three hours back to Denver.
Walking the final path to the finish
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for Week 9 and how I felt after the hike…