Estes Epic 24K (~15 miles) – Estes Park, CO
September 2, 2018
What better way to celebrate a birthday, which happens to fall within Labor Day Weekend, than by running up and down a mountain?! Last year I did a 10K – this year I thought I’d step it up a notch.
The race offered camping at the Estes Park fairgrounds, so I decided to camp and guess who came with us?! Kelli and Jake! We decided to leave around 6:30am on Saturday so that we could get to Estes Park, pick up my packet during the MTB race, then have time to do a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s only about an hour and a half away so we ended up getting there right at 8:30, which happened to be when the MTB race was starting. 8:30am start? Sheesh! They weren’t ready to give me my packet yet so we wandered around and found an alpaca market to check out! They were so cute and fluffy! There weren’t so keen on being petted unless you were feeding them.
When I finally got my packet, we decided to go ahead and set up our tents and claim our spot. We kept looking around the fairgrounds for where we’d be camping but only saw RV parking. Nope, that’s where we were supposed to camp also. It was literally in a parking lot with a bunch of RVs. It was not optimal by any means, but it was $30 and on Labor Day weekend; a hotel room would have been MUCH more expensive. We finally got to the park around lunch time and it was PACKED. We waited in line for about 30 minutes to get in, then once in we couldn’t even go to where we wanted to hike; all parking was full and they were turning people around. We found a trail to a waterfall and decided to hike that. I didn’t want to do too much, since I’d be running the next day. It started raining as soon as we got back to the car anyway. We headed to a brewery after, had a couple beers, then I devoured a big bowl of pasta; I think I was lying down in the tent by 10pm.
The effing MTB race started at 8:30am on Saturday but they made us start at 6AM on Sunday! I slept decently that night, especially since it was my first time camping out before a race. At one point, an elk was bugling and an owl was hooting! It sounded like they were talking to one another! I rolled out of my sleeping bag at 5am, and took all of my things up to the start line where there were bathrooms (which included showers!). I told W, Kelli, and Jake not to worry about getting up that early just to see me start. I really didn’t need them to be there, but they did anyway. So sweet! The race was much smaller than I expected (57 total for the 24K and 55K, actually). I really felt bad for them waking up so early just to see me off, especially since there was apparently no spectating spots (they were VERY vague about the course – more about that later).
I was in shorts and a t-shirt at the start, and I wasn’t going to even bother with a headlamp. Lots of folks had on arm warmers that was part of the race packet but I hadn’t gotten any (I did later)! It was in the upper 40’s when we started and I was actually quite chilly. There was not much information on the race website about the course. They had a Strava route posted but I didn’t take the time to go through it all. What I didn’t know or expect was that the first 5K was on pavement!
The longer I was running on pavement, the more annoyed I was getting. I had started off conservatively, as this was my third mountain race of the year and I knew not to start off too fast. However, that first 5K was pretty flat/gradual uphill; I definitely could have gone out a bit faster. Finally, the pavement ended but we were running on a well-maintained dirt road – not even a fire road. Parts of the road appeared paved at times because it was so packed down. The real “trail” didn’t even begin until about 5 miles in and even then it was fire-road grade. The first big hill was at Mile 5 and they had this sign:
See the lady in the pink shirt ahead? Remember her for later…
They only had one aid station which was at 5.5 miles. I remember I hadn’t even drank anything until I was coming up on the aid station, and I had gels with me, so I didn’t even need to stop. There was a loop around the halfway point, which I forgot about until I started thinking about where the turnaround would be. Because of the loop, I didn’t get to see who was in front of me, which was probably a good thing anyway. I ran by myself for pretty much the whole race. I played leap-frog with a few folks but we never spoke.
I did catch a good view as I was going up that hill
I felt like I’d made it to the top (which wasn’t an actual peak) pretty fast and was surprised when I was already heading back down – based off what the time felt like in my head. When you could tell you were going back downhill, there was a tiny little section of single-track which had been carved out by the MTBs the day before – it was really dusty. By the time I knew it, I hit the aid station again (mile 9.5) and topped off my water. I’d barely drank anything and had only taken one Huma gel. At mile 10, I got back into 8:xx min/miles and passed a few people.
Again, before I knew it, I was already hitting the pavement and had 5K to go. I kicked it for a couple miles averaging 8:05, 8:04, and 8:40 for miles 11-13. Around mile 13, we were on a straight stretch of pavement where I noticed a van that kept pulling over on the side of the road. I remembered seeing it towards the beginning of the race and at other times, but it hadn’t registered anything in my mind. Turns out, it was following the lady in the pink shirt from my picture above. I’d been running behind this lady, almost the entire race. I remembered her a lot because of how badly she leaned over and looked down while she was running. I remember thinking, Wow that’s really not good for your neck and back. I always make sure to look where I’m running on trails, but I do it with my head up. One time the van stopped, a man got out and I could see him hand her something. Then, after I’d gotten closer, he stopped again and gave her a jacket. He was crewing for her! It’s a freaking 24K for crying out loud! They didn’t say that we couldn’t have a crew, but for something like that it just rubbed me the wrong way. And who needs a jacket a mile from the finish??
I didn’t have any initial goals for the race except to finish. My end goal ended up being to beat the lady in the pink shirt! I was hauling ass on the pavement and I could tell she was slowing down. We were about a half mile from the finish and there was a decent hill we had to go up. I walked a tiny bit at the beginning and then took off. I passed pink-shirt lady and another chick on that hill! Once at the top, we still had a bit to the finish and I didn’t want her to pass me again, so I used the last bit of gas that I had.
That last hill was significant enough to clearly show up on the profile!
Even though the race was tiny, I still didn’t win an AG award! I was in the top 10 women but there were a ton in my 30-39 age group. I actually ended up finishing 4th (they didn’t take out one of the top 3) in my AG which I’ve done sooooo many times.
What a great pal I have made
Overall, the race was great but I just expected something completely different. When you say things like, “This race will rip your legs off.”; when you’re offering prize money for winners AND an actual belt buckle to everyone who finishes, one (I) expects this race to actually be EPIC. Honestly, and not to dog on anyone (the race was well organized, minus the lack of details), this race was a bit laughable when you consider how much it was fluffed up and how they described it. I could see this being a great race for someone who is considering starting mountain racing, or even a first trail race for someone. I believe this was only the second running of this event and I don’t know if they were just trying to get more interest in it or not. Last year they had a total of 53 for both races – only 5 more this year…
That sucker is heavy!
The swag was really nice which included a credit-card sized bottle opener, a nice pint glass, race-specific arm warmers, and a good long-sleeved t-shirt. The medal is actually a belt buckle, which is nice but… well, you know. I think all of that was just another way to entice people to sign up. I would probably do this race again, but I would certainly have different expectations next time.
Since I was finished before 9AM, we got back to our house pretty early. I took a shower, nap, ate, and then we went to a couple breweries to finish celebrating my birthday. I’m so glad to have been able to run a race on my birthday, and to ring in 37 that way! It was a good one!
Thanks for reading,
For the second time in as many days I was climbing Cardiac Hill at the worst possible time of day. The sun had reached sufficient height in the summer sky to obliterate every shady refuge on the city streets but hadn’t yet been up long enough to burn away the morning humidity. And for the second day in a row I had been too exhausted to drag my tired ass and the useless meat sticks hanging from it down to the river nice and early like I was supposed to. At the top of the hill is a CVS with automatic doors which are triggered every time someone moves past on the sidewalk in what seems like an enormous waste of energy. As I shuffled by them they swung open and I was hit with a gloriously refreshing blast of overly conditioned air, so cold against my baking skin I shivered.
Why was I doing this? I had 8 more miles of this death march to go and it was only going to get hotter and my legs were only going to get heavier. Did God not grant divine inspiration to Willis Carrier so that we wouldn’t have to suffer the fires of damnation here on earth? Who the hell was I to forsake this blessing? I should have turned around at that moment in front of the CVS. Instead I shuffled onward, though unsure of why.
I wasn’t wondering why I run, I long ago understood and made peace with the demons that chase me out the door each day. But this training cycle had been a disaster thus far. I hadn’t hit a workout in weeks, my easy runs were getting slower, and I felt broken down instead of built up. I was struggling with why I push myself to, well, struggle.Yes yes I know, I’m running a big marathon coming up and I need to train so I can run it in the nice round number of my choice. But time is relative. In fact, the more you are moving, the slower time passes. I’m not kidding, it’s physics, look it up. So why does the time I run this race matter? You may say “ah, aren’t you trying to qualify for Boston?” And I may well run my qualifying time and get into the race. So what? I’m not going to win, or set a record, or further human achievement in any measurable way. You may say something about joining the annals of our sport’s most prestigious and storied event. But that’s a bit of bullshit, since qualifying standards and rules have changed so many times over the years. In decades past I could have qualified with times I’ve already run, and in others I wouldn’t be close even if I hit my goal this year. There’s that relativity thing again.
What about the thrill of competition? I thought about this as I dodged the already over-served hipsters wobbling on the sidewalks waiting for their Sunday brunch tables and $36 avocado toast. Sure I like to compete, but I’m not competitive. My finishing place is going to include a comma, without a doubt. I will be beat by people who trained less and brunched more. I will be beat by people older than me. I will be beat by men and women and children. I will not win any prizes or money, and in fact this endeavor will likely cost me quite a bit of it. Perhaps it’s competing with myself that matters. Bettering what I did the last time out. Squeezing every ounce of potential from the hand of genetic material I was dealt. Being the best possible version of myself. But, if my absolute best is still so far from good, why is it worth the hard work and the pain and suffering? Would it not make me feel worse to have my inadequacies and deficiencies laid so bare for all to see? And I don’t know how valuable it is to invest so much energy to be the best I can be at something which I’m not good at anyway. Abraham Lincoln supposedly loved animals. I don’t think history will lament his unrealized potential in veterinary medicine. Wouldn’t I be doing more for myself or my family or community if I put these hours of training to some other use?
I ran on, envious of the brunch crowd and the people lounging in the park under the shade of giant elms and kids eating popsicles way too early in the morning. I refilled my water bottle while giving the popsicle buying parents some serious judgmental side eye for setting their kid off on the path to diabetes. Is that it? I mean, I know I could get most of the health benefits of running with some easy 6 milers, but did I think I’d get something extra from doing 800s until I puke? Would I have, like, negative diabetes or something? Nevermind, the heat must be getting to me, that’s just fucking stupid.
As I wound through the park I ran over a cracked section of pavement that covered the old painted Peachtree Road Race finish line, which had dug its way out of its asphalt grave and begun to show itself again. This conjured images of the numerous races I’ve run on these paths, and I sifted through the memories for a reason why I keep running these damn things. I fondly recalled the high from setting PRs, the sense of accomplishment from completing my first race at a given distance. But I also remembered the weeks and months of skipping social events, not having a life, the aches and pains and constant exhaustion. But I felt close with this one, so I kept digging. I thought of the marathon, of that deep dark place where you’ve used up everything you have and yet still have to find something to burn. Surely there was a higher plane of consciousness attained through this effort that justified the pain. Yes I thought, recalling my marathon experiences, there is something you learn about yourself, some enlightenment obtained through this endeavor. But, would you not have the same experience regardless of how much you train? Couldn’t I prepare with a “just finish” training plan doing a bunch of slow lazy running and still see the writing on the wall? Hell, people less prepared probably suffer more on race day, wouldn’t they therefore reach a higher still level of awareness? And you know what, I’m pretty sure Timothy Leary peddled consciousness expansion for a lot less than I’m putting out for this marathon thing.
I was running out of ideas as I ran out of the park and back up Peachtree Street. I passed the churches filling and emptying with worshipers. Perhaps this was the why? I grew up in an old-school fire and brimstone Catholic family, maybe I push myself through pain and exhaustion to satisfy some deeply ingrained Judeo-Christian belief that there will be salvation through suffering. Maybe ladder intervals were my attempt at self-flagellation. Mile repeats were my penance for, well, everything. Maybe I have such deep seated guilt and self loathing I need to punish myself every single day to feel worthy of even my morning coffee. This, I didn’t have an immediate rebuttal for. Not that I necessarily believe the path to eternal salvation is Yasso 800s, but I couldn’t shake the idea that I am punishing myself for something. Am I really that fragile, that broken?
I turned down my street and climbed the last hill before home and I felt more lost than when I had started. But, I was still running. And Monday, I got out and ran again. And Tuesday, I struggled to not quite complete yet another interval workout. But I tried. I still didn’t know why, but I did. I’m sitting here now on my off day with a cocktail still trying to figure it out. The taste of the cheese and crackers and the whiskey I’m washing it down with take me back a few years. For a while, this was my daily routine. Tonight, I’m having 3 because it was a hairy eyed bitch of a day and then I’m going to bed. Back then, I wouldn’t really count. Or go to bed, for that matter. I’d start when I got home and finish when I passed out on the couch, The Wife usually waking me up in the middle of the night and dragging me to bed.
Maybe it’s all of these things. Maybe it matters to train and push because I can, and I very nearly got to a point I couldn’t. Maybe it matters that I get to Boston because of how far it will mean I’ve come. Maybe I’m atoning for years of being a lousy husband and son and friend, if a good patron of the distilled arts. Maybe the uncertainty and suffering and exhaustion is just to keep me too tired to tilt the bottle enough to do any real damage. I don’t know. I don’t think I’ll ever know. We love how running is so often a metaphor for life, but rarely in this vein. The uncertainty and lack of purpose and wondering what the hell the point is and whether or not any of this is worth it or making any difference at all and wondering why you shouldn’t just give up. The ugly side of it all. What I do know is that at this point, the pain provides some comfort in its familiarity; it’s become part of life’s rhythm. And as long as I stay with it, there’s an illusion of control. I’m making this choice. I’m inflicting this pain, I know why it hurts, and I decide when it ends. Maybe it doesn’t make a bit of difference anywhere outside my own head. But maybe I need that. Or maybe I just need to spend time in the dark places so I appreciate the lighter ones. Tempo run Thursday. Haven’t been able to finish one strong in weeks. But scared shitless not to try.
A couple of times anyway. A couple of miles each.
Louis seems to feel best just after PT, so last week when T-Rex needed my car at the same time I had her drop me off at Team Rehab and ran home from there. It's a little over a mile and a half. I had to walk twice because I'm so out of shape, but it was enough to officially call it a run. There was no watch or phone and I didn't record it anywhere. The pain I've been having wasn't any worse than before. I need some kind of movement or it's like the whole inside of the left leg tightens up and pulls on the tendons. EXCEPT ... those muscles don't seem to be tight at all. I'm normally a pretty limber guy, especially for a runner, and I've no issues with any of my normal stretches, or any of the ones Amanda has given me. Any ideas, Loopsters?
That was Monday. Did it again on Wednesday. On Friday, I ran two miles with one walk break. Saturday was OK but hurt on my walk. Sunday and Monday it was sore. Monday night I decided to wear a sleeve on it. Big mistake. Kept it on at work and it was the most pain I've been in since before surgery. Took it off after lunch and it was better. Not good, but better.
Talked to Amanda about it. She's not sure what to do. Tomorrow is my last day and I don't know that I've made any progress. The exercises they've given me are beneficial, I suppose, but there isn't anything that I'm doing now that I couldn't do when I first came in. And still the pain. So, since it seems that running isn't painful and doesn't seem to increase my pain, we're going to try that. I ran two yesterday, will do another couple today and see what two days in a row do. Maybe I just need to run more. Another visit with the doc?
Friday afternoon I went into the yard to trim the trees. Just a few of the lower sagging limbs to give the grass underneath a little light. Did the pear tree. Did the cherry. Then I moved to the Japanese maple at the corner of the house. Cut one tiny little branch. Heard a loud buzzing in my ears and felt something brushing around my head. Swatted at what I figured was a big fly. It didn't scare, but came at me even more aggressively. Uh-oh.
That got my heart rate up right away. Where did this clown come from and what was he so mad about? We often have bees - honeys and bumbles - around, pollinating the flowers, but they pretty much leave us alone if we don't mess with them. Anyway, I swatted at him again, and again. Still he came. Then he had company. Then I felt the stings. Left arm, right arm. I'd knocked my glasses off my face and had run to the patio, where I imagined I'd be out of range. Nope. There was still at least one trying for an opening. Mrs. Dave heard what were apparently my little girl screams and was trying to open the door. I'd come from around the garage side of the house and the back door was still locked. One of those sliding doors (Did you know they call them "door walls" in Michigan? Weird, I know.) with a second lock near the floor. That took precious seconds while my enemy penetrated my defenses and jabbed me in the neck. B@$#@&D!!
The door finally opened after what seemed to me 3-4 hours and I tumbled onto the family room carpet. Mrs. Dave saw the attacker still on my neck, brushed him off and stomped him. The first casualty.
I had three stings. The one on the back of my neck, one above the left elbow on the inside of my bicep, and another a couple of inches above the right wrist. Lucky there were only those, I guess. Put some ice on them and then realized that my glasses were still outside, no doubt on the grass where I'd been trimming branches.
Seemed to me that the 30-40 feet between the patio and the area where I'd been attacked was far enough that I could go have a look and even avoid the flyers while I retrieved them. Nope. I only made a few steps off the patio when I heard and saw something at me. It was like he'd been waiting for me. And he was huge. He looked like a crow, I swear. It was big and black and headed directly AT MY FACE! I tried to duck but it was too late - or maybe just in time. He hit me right below my left eye near the bridge of my nose. The sting was instant, although I did get some satisfaction from making him the second casualty of the skirmish. Back inside.
We could see my glasses on the ground, half way between the cherry and the maple.
We could also see this, about ten feet in the air, with who knew how many big black fliers circling menacingly around my ladder and both trees.
Oh. Freaking. Em. Freaking. Gee.
So much for trimming the trees this weekend. Interesting (not going to say "funny" here), I'd spent the previous two days watering the grass, mowing and digging out another tree stump in the back yard, some of that work exactly there under that thing with no idea that this mammoth-sized bug condo was hanging just a few feet above me.
I'm not one to interfere with the creatures of this world. I know they have vital functions to perform in the circle of life and deserve to live out their existence free from the depredations of man. But this is my back yard. There are billions of acres on the planet far enough away from humanity for wasps to build nests and do whatever it is they do. Not in my house. And they came at me first.
There are only a couple of options for this type of campaign. I had what I thought was a full can of wasp killer from another nest that I'd had in the front yard a few years ago. That one was near the sidewalk and I had concern for the neighborhood kids who walked nearby. It seemed pretty easy as I remembered it. But if they were patrolling the whole yard, how was I going to get at them? The instructions said to wait for dusk when they were the least active. But my glasses!
I waited for several hours, wearing my contact lenses that I usually only use for running nowadays. Every time I looked through the window they still seemed pretty excited. Later that afternoon I thunderstorm came through and that seemed to settle them down. I sprayed at them from an upstairs window, but maybe because of the age of the can or maybe I'd partially emptied it on that other nest, it only gave me a few seconds before petering out. So off to The Home Depot for reinforcements.
I was able to give them a decent soaking, but it wasn't as thorough as I'd remembered doing the last time. You' supposed to wait until the next day to make sure you catch any stragglers who might have been away from home when you sprayed the first time. So I stayed inside until Saturday morning, then went out to check. I guess I expected to see a pile of carcasses on the ground under the tree. What I found was big black bugs flying in and out and around the football-sized thing hanging in the air. Not dead. Not crazy and swarming all over like the day before, but definitely not dead. They must be made of harder stuff.
Anyway, since the bugs insisted on surviving, I decided to get a bigger gun. Back to HD where I bought the biggest gun I could find.
That's right - PRO. I was now a professional killer. What's that you say? Chemical weapons were banned by the 1925 Geneva Convention? The 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention ban (signed by 165 countries) prohibits the production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons and their precursors. Sue me.
This time the stream was strong and solid. I soaked the nest from two sides, then went upstairs and gave it another shot from above. I let it soak through the day and checked it again after work, PT and my run on Tuesday.
This time - like an attack by the Dread Pirate Roberts - there were no survivors.
The war is over. I won.
As you know, I race a lot. 309 road races so far to be exact. And I usually go into a race with a goal time, and a pretty good prediction of what I think I can do. Most times I come out pretty close to what I expect.
But having just read this book:
Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance
I did some thinking about that. Am I running close to predicted times because of my knowledge and experience? Or is my prediction causing me to run that time?
For example, if I predict my 5K will be 20:20 instead of 20:50, and then adjust my race strategy for that time, am I more likely to run faster? Despite my experience telling me 20:50 is what I am capable of right now?
So this week I ran a Mile race on the track. The last two years I aimed for sub 6 and ran 5:52 and 5:59. This year I had convinced myself, based on many track workouts and runs with slower paces than usual, that sub-6 was out of reach. I was talking about going out at 6:20 pace with a goal of running 6:10-6:15. I considered going out at 6:00 pace to be suicidal. Race day came and one guy said he was running 6:00 pace if anyone wanted to pace off of him. (He was capable of faster). I didn't give it much thought. I would run my race and see how far away the pace group would be.
So off we went and I slipped into my usual spot in the group. There was about 30 people racing, from 4:50 pace to 9 minute pace. I glanced at the Garmin after 100m and it said 6:10 pace. Yeah I got this pacing thing down. First lap was 92 and it felt perfect. Hard but manageable. The 6:00 group was about 8 people in a bunch just ahead. I maintained.
Lap two I caught a few people who went out too fast. But the group was pulling away from me. I let them because this was plenty hard enough thank you. Second lap 94 for a 3:06 1/2.
Lap 3 is about ignoring the pain and pushing hard not to lose momentum. A few people were falling off the pace group and I caught some which helped me stay motivated. Lots of huffing and puffing and grimacing but the end was near now. 93 for lap 3.
I still felt OK and tried to find another gear and get everything I could out of the last lap. Not a whole lot left however. I caught one more guy as my legs tied up and riggy kicked in. The last straight was just surviving and trying not to stumble. I think spit was coming off my mouth and my eyes were glazed. Finished at 6:10 for a 91 last lap.
So. My splits tell me I maximized my potential. I didn't have an 85 left in me. I gave everything and 6:10 was my best on this day. Or was it? What if I had gone out at 90? Could I have held on and still been able to finish strong? Or would I have died early and fallen off the pack like some of my friends? I was spent at the end. But it wasn't the worst I've ever felt. I'm sure a few more seconds could have been had.
Anyway, it's fun to ponder. Still happy with the 72% age-grade. But I'm already planning to assault the mile again maybe in December. This time I will go in telling myself I can do sub-6. The body follows the brain.
Back to marathon training...
I started not feeling well last Thursday after my sweltering run-club run, and didn’t start feeling better until Tuesday. I’m sure the heat and running in the smokey haze didn’t help, but it turns out that Aunt Flo came for a visit a week early; that explains not feeling well. Also, my right shin has been hurting quite a bit in the last week and I was hoping it was something that would just go away. The intensity has been getting worse and worse, and I’ve been worried it could be something bad. I haven’t gone to see a PT yet, because from the symptoms I’m having, I think it may just be shin splints.
Monday: I ended up staying home sick this day. I’d had a headache for three days and it just wasn’t letting up. I stayed on the couch, catching up on OITNB.
Tuesday: I felt much better this day and was supposed to run hills. I decided to run after work because the high was only going to be 73. However, my shin hurt all day and I decided to just rest another day. I also started putting ice on it, which made it feel better when I woke up Wednesday morning.
Wednesday: Barbell Strength- I sat down with my morning coffee and iced my shin some more. Since I missed my favorite cross-training class on Monday, I stayed after work to go to the class. There was a different instructor for this class and she kicked my ass!
Thursday – Saturday: Ugh, I rested all these days. My shin wasn’t getting any better, and I knew I’d be running the race on Sunday, no matter what. I just wanted to ensure I’d be toeing the start line on my birthday. I iced it twice a day every day, and I think that has helped.
Sunday: I’m writing up a race report for my race, which will be posted soon. Spoiler: It went well
Thanks for reading,
It feels like Monday, but it’s Tuesday! That’s pretty nice. I feel like I’m a bit jet lagged, although we didn’t fly anywhere. We made a trip up to DC for a baseball game and had it was HOT. Soooooo hot. That combined with not getting home until 10pm was enough to wear me out.
As you may or may not know, I’m 4 weeks into my marathon training and until recently I couldn’t even tell you which marathon I was training for…until now. Drum roll please…
I have signed up for the Rehoboth Beach Marathon on December 8th! I ran this one last year, but it went pretty horribly (read about it here, if you dare). However, the race and course are awesome and you can’t beat the post-race fun (read about that here, it’s a more cheerful read).
So now that we all know what I’m actually training for, let’s recap:
Monday – Planned 3 miles/Actual 3 miles
I ran these on the treadmill just before getting DESTROYED by a kettlebell workout. As of know, the runs are optional and the kettlebell workouts are not. I just think that short, easy runs are nice but not all that meaningful to my training. The kettlebells are definitely helping me feel stronger. I need that strength for the late miles more than I need a little extra volume.
Tuesday – Planned 6 miles/Actual 6 miles
I’m still having trouble finding my “easy” pace. I want to run 8:30 to 9:00 miles, but I always seem to end up near 8:00 pace. I think I’m a little less efficient when I’m slower and it doesn’t “feel” easy. My theory is that when I shorten up and reduce my turnover, it causes me to be on one leg for a little longer and that wears down my muscles a bit.
Wednesday – Planned 3 miles/Actual 4 miles
I ran one extra for my friends and I was glad to. The title of my run on Strava was “This one was JUST right”. My friends helped me pace that easy pace I was looking for and with their conversation it didn’t seem so awful. Also, there was coffee!
This is pretty much us.
Thursday – Planned 4 x Hill Repeats/Actual 4 x Hill Repeats
I loved and hated these so much that I decided to write a post about hill repeats. I decided to look back to what hill repeats were like for me before my injury and I couldn’t find any in recent history. Going back to May of last year, they were pretty similar. That made me pretty happy. On a non-running topic, my co-workers also made me happy. They surprised me with office decor and dirt cake for my upcoming 40th (gulp) birthday. The REAL surprise is that it was 9 days early!
Friday – Rest Day!
I rested in the sense that I didn’t run or work out. Jen had our good friend and her college roommate Suzy in town from LA, so they ran off to Richmond in search of non-Mom type fun. I got the kids off to school and had a day with little Ben. Ben is my little buddy. I hate that he’s growing up so fast, but that’s the way life is.
What can I say? The kid likes wristbands.
Saturday – Planned 6 miles at MP/Actual 6 miles at MP
Friday night lasted WAY longer than I’d hoped, but we were having so much fun plus Jen and Suzy don’t get a ton of time together and they needed a driver. I ended up getting my butt out of bed after <4 hours of sleep and going for it. That’s why running in groups is good. Accountability. I told myself that I don’t sleep well the night before a race anyway. Based on the conditions and my condition, I was pretty happy about this run. I averaged right around what my BQ pace needs to be. I’m keeping it around as a possibility.
Sunday – Planned 13 miles/Actual 13 miles
Another hot and miserable run to grind out. I’m just waiting on my Pegasus Turbos to make EVERYTHING better.
We’re getting into long run territory where you HAVE to think about fuel/hydration/ chafing etc. etc. and I’ve forgotten how to deal with all of that. It’ll come back to me one way or another.
I’m proud of anyone that toughs out this time of year through so many awful runs. Fall is coming. We shall rejoice!
I had trouble pacing again and ended up a little fast, but my heart rate stayed relatively under control. That means I’m getting in shape (I think).
Week 4 is in the books. It was a 35 mile week (my highest in a year!). August was a 120 mile month. This is happening!!!
When I tore my Achilles WAY back in December, I dreamed about getting back to this point. Here we are. Thanks go out to all of you that advised me, encouraged me and motivated me. You’re the best!
August 2018 in review
Total mileage for the month: 357.7 (in comparison: January - 207, February - 254, March - 298, April - 307, May - 355, June - 232, July - 290). This was my highest mileage month ever! What's funny, though, is that I only beat May's total because I ran my long run a day early, on August 31 instead of September 1. I never look at my mileage total until after my last run of the month (that should be clear from my March mileage, hah!), but I had to laugh when I realized my PR month only happened because of moving that long run. Cheers!
July 30-August 5: 74.0
August 5-12: 77.1
August 13-19: 80.3
August 20-26: 85.1 (second highest mileage week ever!)
August 27-Sep. 2: projected at 75
My goal is to pick her up for first day of school
photos through college!
Nada...August seems to be a training month for me! I have races planned for September 3, 9, and 29 (B goal race), October 6 and 20, November 4, and December 2 (A goal race), and am excited to roll into those!
August 1: 4 mile tempo in 24:10 (6:02 average via 6:07, 6:07, 6:00, 5:54), 3.1 warm up, 3.1 cool down. It was 56* for this run, which is quite unlike August in Missouri! My prescribed pace range was 6:00-6:18, and if it had been a more typical hot and humid August morning I'd have probably needed the top of it. I felt strong throughout this one and was happy with how it went, although not surprisingly I wished I'd have averaged 3 seconds/mile faster. I wish I could find someone to run tempos with me, because I will always run faster with someone pushing.
August 4: 13 miles with 3 miles progressive fast finish (6:54 for all 13; final 3 in 6:37, 6:27, 6:23). I felt great on this run, except for during the last half mile up an incline that left me gasping for air. I've fast finished runs on this route many times, and sometimes I can rock it up that hill, but this run was not one of those times! I ran with Claudio and Paul for 10, but they didn't pick it up with me at the end. Claudio was supposed to run 15, but he was tired and was going to stop with me at 13, so I volunteered to run 2 extra miles so he would get it done, therefore I ended up running 15 miles total this day, but the final 2 were slower (7:29 pace) and we stopped for water at 13.
August 8: 3 x 2 mile repeats in 11:44 (5:50, 5:53), 11:54 (5:56, 5:58), 11:51 (5:57, 5:54), with 0.5 jog recoveries and 2.6 warm up and 1.8 cool down. My goal pace range for this workout was 5:45-6:00, which I thought was completely unrealistic (particularly given that it was 69* with a dew point of 68*), but I decided I would try to hang onto 5:59 pace and see what happened. Lucky for me, Ben volunteered to run with me for portions of each rep as a way to ease himself back into speed work. He did from 0.0-1.0 of the first rep, from about 0.3-1.3 of the second rep, and from about 0.4-1.9 of the final rep (his plan was 1 mile of each rep, but on the last one while I was dying I told him it would be super helpful if he'd do 1.5 miles with me, and he was gracious enough to do so). I would not have hit these times running by myself, especially on the final rep. I read somewhere that running with someone or in a group helps you run 5-10 seconds/mile faster, and I think that is certainly accurate. I had to dig really deep at the end and I was proud of myself for keeping the pedal on the gas when it got very uncomfortable.
August 13: Mini-speed of 30"/30" during mile 4 of my second run of the day. I managed to screw up this workout in my Garmin, so it was rotating 30 seconds/30 seconds/cool down to lap press instead of 30 seconds/30 seconds. My first 2 pushes got messed up because of this, but then the remainder of them were 5:48, 5:49, 5:36, 5:24, 5:30 paces, which isn't very fast for such short pushes, but I can barely get going in 30 seconds I guess! I think the main objective of this workout is getting in a little faster running on tired legs (I ran 10.3 miles in the morning then ran this at lunch).
August 15: 6 mile tempo in 36:33 (6:05 average via 6:09, 6:09, 6:05, 6:06, 6:05, 5:57), 2.2 warm up, 2.4 cool down. I woke up to a torrential downpour this morning, Ben decided not to join me due to that monsoon, and my weather app told me that there were lightening strikes within 0.6-1.8 miles of my house at 5:20 a.m. I mostly resigned myself to pushing this workout back a day and just getting out for easy miles in the pouring rain once the lightning moved away, but by 5:50 a.m. the storm had almost completely passed, just leaving heavy air in it's place (a dew point of 70*, air temp of 71*, meaning 98% humidity). I knew it would be difficult to run as strong in these conditions as I'd done in my August 1 tempo, but I'd also had a really good workout the previous week in heavy humidity, so I held out hope that there was a chance. Although this wasn't the fastest 6 mile tempo I've done, I was happy with my even pacing and ability to push through the humidity and uncertainty about whether or not the workout would happen that morning (uncertainty is certainly not my strong suit!). As per every tempo I ever run, for the first 2 miles I felt like I could never sustain the pace for much more than 2 miles, then I got into a groove for the remainder, felt fatigue in the second to last mile, then found a little kick in the final mile. This is pretty much my goal pace for my fall half marathon (it takes 6:06 to break 1:20), and on one hand I was happy to hit it alone in humidity, but it also made me wonder how I am ever supposed to run that pace for over twice as far!
No workouts the week of August 20-26, but I had a solid midweek long run (11.2 miles at 6:52 average). Ben joined me for the final 6 miles and we ended up running faster than I'd planned (6:36 average for those 6), which was a nice confidence boost because while I would certainly not call that pace easy, it was conversational. I guess since I'm training to run a marathon 19 seconds/mile faster than that, I should hope it doesn't feel too hard, but in my head I think 6:30 pace is much harder than it actually is, if that makes sense.
August 29: 8 mile tempo in 50:11 (6:16 average via 6:16, 6:17, 6:12, 6:16, 6:18, 6:18, 6:20, 6:11, 2.2 warm up, 2.0 cool down. This one was a grind! My goal pace range was 6:03-6:18, and my coach, my husband, and common sense tell me that bad weather days are what the top of the pace range is for, but I really struggle with accepting that. It was 74* with a dew point of 72* and 92% humidity which is pretty miserable, and there were storms around, including one that rolled through mid-run, bringing some wind and moderate rain but no reprieve in the heat and humidity. BUT, I'd also nailed a couple of workouts in conditions that were almost as bad recently (see 6 mile tempo and 2 x 3 mile repeats above), so I wanted to think I could nail this one too, ideally hitting 6:06 average pace (goal half pace). Maybe it wasn't the weather and it was the mileage on my legs or just not my day, but I started at the top of the pace range hoping to work down, but with each passing mile it became more and more clear that I was going to have to really work just to hang on to the top of the range. I looked at my watch far more than I typically do during tempos, because when I ran what felt like tempo pace I was at 6:20-6:30 pace, and I just kept forcing it down ("just get it to 6:18!" was my self-talk). 6:15 sure felt like 6:00 pace! The workout ended up being really hard on my body, I think because I forced the pace so much. When I've raced in weather like this - such as at Bass Pro Half 2017 and Dam to Dam 2017 - I have always run slower than I thought I was in shape for (and suffered more doing it!), so really 6:16+ probably is what I'd aim for in a half marathon in this weather, but I sure wanted the confidence boost of hitting a faster pace. Plus, my marathon goal pace is 6:17, so having 6:16 feel so hard for 8 miles was not confidence-inspiring. I feel like I missed my chance to "prove" to myself I'm ready for a half PR, but I did my best and paced evenly, so I am trying to be okay with the outcome. Last season almost no workout I ever did indicated I could race the times I ran, so there is also that to cling to!
Doubles on August 1, 6, 8, 13, 15, 16, 20, 21, 22, 23, 27, 28, and 29 -- yes, doubles increased with a vengeance this month! I ran 4 doubles in 1 week for the first time ever; they were all 3.X milers so just easing into the frequency. I also had two weeks with 3 doubles, which I'd done before then but only twice (2 has been my usual number of doubles per week until now). I've grown to really like running them, but sometimes they are a pain logistically, so I have mixed feelings about 4 a week.
Strides on August 2, 21, and 23, and a few before most workouts (those are usually fartlek-style at the end of my warm ups).
Full body strength workouts - I completed my full strength circuit twice per week and also did 5-10 minutes of core work more days than not. I split up my strength work a little more than I have been; with my work schedule and increasing doubles, it became harder to fit in my weekday full strength workout, which takes about an hour total (some of it is drills). Some weeks I'd do something like 20 minutes of it on Tuesday, 20 minutes of it on Wednesday, and 20 minutes of it on Thursday - and often those 20 minutes would be split into 10 minutes after my morning run and 10 minutes after my second run. On a "good" week I'd do it all on Wednesdays, with half after my morning run and half after my second run, but I think that only happened once this month. I always do the full workout on Saturdays all at once, either immediately following my long run or later in the afternoon. I used to drop strength training when it became harder to fit in, but it's more manageable when I break it up so I'll continue to do it that way until I win the lottery and switch to working part time (I do enjoy my job, but running a lot of miles would sure be easier with 4 hour work days!).
Favorite workout: It's hard to beat a solid tempo run in 56 degrees in August (the 4 miler), and since I'm still reeling from the muggy 8 mile tempo I choose that one (even though I definitely exceeded expectations on the 3 x 2 mile workout).
August 4: 15 miles (13 at 6:54 + 2 to help a friend), described in workouts. I was excited to see a 6:5X average!
August 11: 15.1 miles (6:52). This one showed me that the previous week's 6:5X average long run wasn't just a fluke! I ran with Marshall and Kim, which gave me a little push and made the miles fly by! We saw a lot of people out running on the trails in Springfield; I think fall marathon training is in full force around here, which is great to see.
August 18: 14.3 miles (6:54). I felt great on this one after mile 1! Why is the first mile always so hard while also being so slow in comparision?! I started this with Paul, Ben, and Claudio, with everyone running different distances. We dropped Paul off at 6, Ben off at 10, and Claudio at 12. I finished feeling strong and very hungry. My appetite seemed to notice the increasing mileage this week!
August 25: 15.2 miles (7:00) with Casey and Rebecca on our favorite 15 mile rectangle of farm roads! It was stiflingly humid and I ended up wishing I'd have carried or dropped fluids, but other than that it was a nice run with wonderful company and conversation.
August 31: 15.2 miles (7:11) on a Friday morning before work. I wasn't quite as fresh as usual for this one since I didn't have my "rest day" the day before (my coach calls my 4-5 mile Fridays rest days), but I still felt really good and it felt like one of the shortest 15 milers I've ever done! I ran 3.4 miles to meet Rebecca, ran 7.4 miles with Rebecca, then dropped her back off at her car and ran home plus a little more to get to 15. I think splitting it up like that made it go by really quickly, and also with running higher mileage like I have been it seems like I run 10-16 miles every day, so 15 is just a normal day instead of a long run at this point. I am clearly becoming more crazy!
Favorite long run: I really don't have one this month; they were all pretty similar in distance and feel, and all with great training partners!
A beautiful humid morning on beautiful farm roads with
Ben & Casey (Missy was the photographer while running!)
I am still streaking - every day since January 27! Part of me wishes I hadn't taken time off after the Houston Marathon, since without those 5 days off I'd have a streak of about 15 months at this point, but I needed that time, and I guess I can at least say I've run 360 of the past 365 days.
If all goes as planned, I will build to my lifetime highest mileage week and highest weekly average this marathon cycle.
Before this month, I'd run weekly mileage in the 80s four times, and all of those were with 20-24 mile long runs. August 13-19 I did it with a 14 mile long run, and August 20-26 with a 15 mile long run.
I set three weekly mileage PRs during my Grandma's build (the end one currently stands at 86.7, with all 3 detailed here). I averaged 70.3 mpw in the 18 weeks prior to Grandma's 2018, and 67.4 mpw in the 18 weeks prior to CIM 2017. The week of July 30-August 5 marked the start of the 18 weeks leading up to CIM 2018, so my average for the first 5 weeks of the build already exceeds my previous averages (coming in at 78.3), and I will be going up from here, although not drastically.
The week of August 20-26 is now my second highest mileage week ever, and it was 14 weeks out from my goal marathon. I figure this more aggressive training is either going to go really well or really poorly, haha! But taking no chances means wasting your dreams, right?!
I had a hard time "letting go" of building up in mileage the week of August 27-September 2, which is a cut-back week. I can see how people get into over-training and excessive exercising, because I started feeling like I should be running in the 80s again. This is why I don't train myself! The week of September 3-9 will be in the 70s as well, since I am racing two 10Ks within a 6-day span (also maybe not my brightest idea, but I did it last year too).
I got a new car! I'd been resisting the inevitable for awhile, driving my little 2006 Honda Civic more miles than my husband thought I should, but it broke down the day before we left on vacation and the needed repairs would have cost more than it was worth. My husband has been dying to buy a Chevy Volt, and that's what we did! I can drive to and from work every day (about 30 miles round trip) and then some without using any gas. It will go around 55 miles on a charge and then it switches to gas.
We attended our local running club's yearly picnic, where Albani and I both won cute club tech shirts, and all 3 of us won nice running socks (I got all 3 pairs though, because they were my size and no one else's).
My parents and niece visited us for some Branson activities before school resumed. My niece is almost 16 and just got her driver's permit, which I can't quite wrap my head around!
School resumed, with Albani tackling the 5th grade!
We went in for a hair trim for Albani before school started, and initially she planned on just getting it shaped up, but once her stylist began cutting she decided she wanted it shorter and shorter until we returned to a bob. I wish we'd have planned this better, because she had enough hair that it could have been donated to Locks of Love. Her hair looks great long or short, and she takes great care of it, so I am fine with whichever style she chooses but I could tell her stylist didn't want her to cut it all off. Albani said that her new haircut saves her 10 minutes in the morning, which is not untrue.
I also returned to school, teaching one class in the ABA Masters program at Missouri State, on Tuesday evenings.
I was published in my local running club's August newsletter - article here.
Bidding our 2006 Honda goodbye in Alabama (Jon & Albani
made this into a father-daughter trip)
Hello, 2018 Chevy Volt
I won the contest for the oldest race t-shirt with this gem of
my dad's from 1981!
My parents, niece, and daughter loved Samson at the Sight
and Sound Theater in Branson (they went on a Tuesday
afternoon so I was at work)
Cousin card game
Our matching OMRR shirts
Stocking up on books, showing the OMRR shirt
& a "before" hair cut photo
After hair cut! This doesn't do the amount of
hair on the floor justice
We did some landscape shopping this month
First day of 5th grade
First day of school
Bandit asks for it
The second day of school is under-rated!
My first day of school (teaching at MSU)
I made a race website photo!
In the spring Loco Races decided to buy the Vermont 100 on 100. Ugh. I mean great...I suppose. If the race was cancelled I didn't have to decide whether or not my body was ready to run 15+ miles. And then Loco comes along and saves the day.
I managed to not sign up for the relay the 1st time jschneid announced that he was putting together a team. Jschneid = Christine's friend who saved me at the last minute last year by replacing me and my f'd up hamstring.
Since last year jschneid and KRG have become best friends/running buddies.
Anyway all was good until Pat (applepie's friend) had to drop from the relay. I was feeling really great at that point and quickly took the empty spot. I was probably a little too enthusiastic to get into race shape. One night at track on the last 200 i felt something pop/pull/hurt. What the hell's with all the 200s anyway? The pop/pull wasn't major but enough to make me pull the reigns way back.
KRG said AtomBuddy was going to be in NYC and would be running the NYRR 7 miles at the beginning of August. I decided if he can travel from California to run a race in NYC then I could travel from NJ to run my 1st race in Central Park.
I met KRG and jschneid at bag drop. I couldn't believe how easy it was to find these guys at an NYRR event! Next we walked over to the start and there was AB right in front of us.
It was hotter than hot and the air was thicker than thick. I decided to just run it by feel and really didn't care about pace. KRG and JS warned me about the hills.
I really enjoyed the race and the and the sights.
Bathroom break at mile 4.
We went out for brunch after the race. I got to meet Mrs. AB and little AB (who's taller than AB)
I added some miles on later that day to simulate race day. No bueno. My hamstring/piriformis/it band was a big ole hunk a'junk of searing pain.
I knew I had about 2 weeks to get my schizzle together.
Thankfully we were on a cross country vacation for most of those 2 weeks. We visited my son in Dea Moines, Iowa. He and I ran 6 miles together because he signed up for the Des Moines Marathon.
Love this kid! Miss his smile and humor every day.
The Iowa State Fair was happening while we were there.
We went to concerts on 2 nights. Saw Chris Daughtry and the Brothers Osborne. Both incredible! I love concerts!
After visiting my son and his wife we flew to San Diego. I made plans to run with Dr. Whiskers but sadly she had a family emergency.
My husband pretty much let me decide our itinerary while I was there for the 2 days. (He was staying longer for a conference.)
I was like
First we went to Torrey Pines along the Pacific. We hit every trail except one. I was in heaven!
Does it get any better than this?
That night my husband and I went to dinner and asked for recommendations for a hike the next day. The bartender recommended Iron Mountain. The start of the hike is very deceiving.
That's the only part that is flat! We climbed a 1000 feet to the the top of the mountain.
Seriously you guys I didn't love San Diego but I'd move for the surrounding mountains. I'd climb a new one every dayum day!!
I flew back Thursday and drove to Vermont on Friday! My body had no idea what time zone it was in!
I picked up KRG, jschneid and Deanna at the Newark train station and headed for Vermont. Applepie and Slow_running met us there. We carb loaded like champs.
In a freak state of summer the weather gods sent us a high of 64* for the relay.
I decided I should take a look at my elevation profiles for my legs since jschneid wouldn't return my epic downhill legs. Harumph!!
For my 1st leg Slow_running told me I'd be running the bowl. I thought that 1st down and then up was the bowl....until I got to the 2nd down and up. OMFG! I managed one code Abby and a pace of roughly 9:40 for my 1st leg.
The usual waterfall photo
My 2nd leg was pretty much flat but really cambered.
Applepie asked what I needed on that leg when I was 1/2 way through. I told him a flat road. My left hamstring/it band can't stand a downward slope. I was in so much pain. Roughly 9:30s. Jschneid snapped a couple pix of me after this leg but told me none of them are really of me smiling. Just the pain bleeding through.
My favorite sign from the race:
I had one more leg to get done. I was the last runner for our team - the "hero." I wanted this leg because I was always so jealous of S_R running in the dark on the dirt roads. All the twinkling lights of the other runners bopping along the road.
I warned my team I had no idea what pace I'd be running since I was in so much pain on leg 2. I had slathered Biofreeze everywhere and taken 2 Advil.
S_R handed off to me and I took off into the dark.
My leg felt the best it had all day. I ran on the dirt roads, clicking off more kills than I had all day! I ran the flats and downs and walked some of the ups. As I came into Okemo I couldn't believe my 3rd leg was the fastest of the day at 9:20s!
My team was waiting for me and we all ran across the finish line!
We placed 100th in the Vermont 100 on 100! And I'm sure we placed 1st in the cheering department.
So Loopfest 2019 is at the Vermont 100 on 100. I signed up a team and we already have 8 of the 6 spots filled.... So are you brave enough to join us? Requirements are being able to ring a cowbell and run up the side of a ski mountain in an ice cream costume.
Let me know!
Good morning, my friends! I didn’t expect to post anything today, but this morning’s hill repeats inspired me a little so why not. If my title puts a song in your head, I’ve done my job.
This was me, after 4 hill repeats. Feels good!
Hills are in pretty much any run when you live in Lynchburg, VA. It’s actually known as “the hill city”. That being said, I generally don’t go out of my way to find them, or to repeat them. This training plan calls for hill repeats once every 3 weeks and that’s new to me. Hill repeats don’t take long at all. My total run was 3 miles and a mile of that was warmup and cooldown. You definitely work more muscles than typical runs though. I was A SWEATY MESS afterward and I couldn’t get cooled off. The shower didn’t take.
This was me at work. What is that guy hiding?
Now I’m not a running expert by any means, but I’ve been paying attention to what feels best for me when tackling a hill at high speed. High speed is all relative of course, so maybe “high effort” is a better term. Here are some thoughts about how best to take on them hills.
Keep your eyes on the horizon – I think this helps with form. I feel like your weight should be shifted forward a little. I focus on staying rigid and keeping my core engaged.
Run with your arms! – I KNOW we run with our legs, but when you pump those arms the legs will follow. It feels strong and badass too, so do it.
Quick steps – Keep those feet light and the steps quick, like you’re running on hot coals. Shorten up your stride a bit if that helps.
Run through your target – I remember being taught to punch through where you’re trying to hit and the same applies here. We have a natural tendency to let up a bit as we get close to what we perceive as the end, so you have to trick yourself a bit by making “the end” a little farther away. It works!
Think about that high you’ll get – Just like the track, hills are tough. THERE WILL BE SUFFERING and you will likely enter the pain cave. However, our body rewards us with that sweet, sweet runner’s high when we finish. While you’re suffering, think about how great you’ll feel when it’s over!
That’s all I’ve got for this one. Anybody have any hill running tips to add or any disagreements to what I’ve said? You won’t hurt my feelings at all if you do. We’re all out to be the best runners we can be.
Quick question for Loopsters: I've been posting my weekly training stuff on my WordPress blog, but didn't know if you all would even want to read that much detail so I don't post it here. DO you want to read it? No biggie if you don't haha.
Only nine weeks left before New York City! I guess I better get serious about marathon training. Actually, the running has been going pretty well. My nagging injuries still nag a little, but not as loudly as before. They aren't going away, but the increased mileage isn't making it worse, so that's good. Still a tight right buttock and a wonky left knee, but they're both kind of fading. The bigger problem has been heat. Not a fan of marathon training in August! Although I can't really complain living here in runner paradise, our weather has been warmer than usual, and we've had a little humidity too. Seems like all my runs feel tough - I'm not getting the paces I'm used to for the same effort. I prefer to blame the heat rather than my increasing age. Still hoping cooler Fall weather will help. But at this point my goals are modest.
I have a half marathon in Long Beach in 5 weeks. Plan to race it, but maybe I'll go out conservatively and hope for a strong finish. It worked in Arizona. Anything under 1:40 would make me happy now. As for New York - boy - I'm still at the point where 26 miles seems AWFULLY far. I did 15 last week, and was pretty beat at the end (it was warm). Just hoping to enjoy the experience, try to control myself, and not bonk too hard. Hopefully sub-4.
Last week I spent a week in North Carolina visiting my parents. I managed to get three runs in (6.5, 9.8, 6.7) but each was a struggle. Yes, it was warm and humid. And yes, I'm going to blame 2,100 feet of elevation for having some effect. I was reading the book Endure, and he coincidentally talked about 2,000 feet of elevation having an effect on race times, so I'm taking it.
I got back Friday afternoon and Saturday morning I did about 12 miles (at sea level) and felt pretty good! Mojo returned. Then I followed it up Sunday morning with 12 more, expecting tired legs, but felt surprisingly fresh and ran pretty well for about ten miles. Bonked a bit at the end. But you know, hot... Took Monday off and did 8.3 Tuesday and again felt strong. So I guess the training is working. Just gotta trust the process and hope for cool weather.
Tonight is track night and I have 16 on Friday morning. Then Sunday is our track group's annual mile race. I'll do my best, but I feel like sub 6:00 is very doubtful this year. My track times just have not been up to par. I'll probably go out about 6:20 pace and see what I can do. Then there's the beer mile, but I don't feel the need to do THAT again. Once was enough I think.
What else...Well I'm currently bingeing The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon and it's really good. And we're going to see the Carole King musical, Beautiful, in a few weeks. And my wife donated a kidney.
I’d like to start by thanking Mark Remy for making the best motivational posters, EVER. You’re welcome. Secondly, I’ve been writing this blog throughout the week so you may notice the changes in mood each day.
I met Mark Remy in Philly in 2011 when I ran the 13.1 with a ton of you all!
Monday: Barbell Strength during lunch- I still LOVE this class and love the routine of doing it every week, especially at lunch time. I should think about doing it more than once a week, but I’m not a big fan of staying after work to do it (only offered at 4:30pm on Wednesdays). We will see.
Tuesday: Yasso 800s @3:50- (Click the link if you aren’t sure what those are) I’m always a tad bit anxious on speed days, as I’m still not very good at pacing myself. I ran a warm-up mile to the track and included a warm-up lap. When I started the first one, I just tried to run what I thought would get me there – 4:06 – oops, need to speed it up! The second one was right on the money at 3:50! During the third one, I felt like I was getting tired and tried to keep the pace up – 3:39. Dang! Really? When I started the 4th one, I pressed what I thought was the lap button but turned out to be the stop button. Ugh. I didn’t even realized I’d done it until I’d already completed the 800! I felt like it was definitely in the 3:40ish range so we’ll just go with that. I’d only planned to do four but I obviously couldn’t stop without four officially on the record, so the fifth came in at 3:45. Terrible pacing but an overall good job that I am happy with. I will only do Yasso 800s one more time during this training plan, on week 15 (eek!).
I also met Bart Yasso! I wanted to ask if he’s related to Clint Eastwood!
Wednesday: I was supposed to go to my Yoga Roll class during lunch but I lost track of time and missed it! Boohoo. It threw my whole day off and I hate that I missed it. I wasn’t able to work in anything else so I’ll just count it as a rest day. No harm in changing things up occasionally. Some Wednesdays are optional rest days (which I don’t plan to use) so it works out anyway.
Thursday: Plan: 4 mile tempo @ 8:30 – After Tuesdays workout, I thought about a plan adjustment. Typically, I’m supposed to do a tempo run every Thursday. I’m having a few minor aches and pains and thought I’d make a speed adjustment, at least in the early stages of training. Instead of having a tempo run in the same week as a track workout, I thought I’d just run the miles, as close to marathon pace (8:45) as possible.
I decided to go to Thursday night run club for my run, even though it got up in the 90s. I don’t know why I continue to think it will be ok to run in that temperature. It wasn’t. On top of it being hot (and grabbing a Gatorade to take on the run), as soon as I started running, I knew it wasn’t going to be a good one. At first, I was going to run a different, flatter route that the normal run club route. I also started 30 minutes before we typically start because I wanted to do six miles. I ended up running the standard route, which isn’t flat and has a hill that I always hate. I can’t tell you how many times I walked. I also had some disagreements in my “area” because I stupidly decided to groom that morning (TMI, whatevs) and there was a lot of sweat going on down there. It all added up to be a shitastic run, but I got through it. Luckily, there were buckets of Dos Equis and a burrito afterwards.
Friday: Supposed to be a cross-training day but I decided to take another rest day instead. The run on Thursday took a lot out of me: the heat, the bad air quality, the fire in my crotch… TOO MUCH! I woke up not feeling all that great, and a spot on my right leg (that I’ve been cautiously observing) was really sore.
Saturday: Long Run – I had 13 on the schedule but was going to just shoot for 10 and see how I felt. I decided to run on a trail I’ve only been on once (with Kelli!); why I’ve only been on this trail once, I have no idea. This trail is the shit for many reasons, and the big ones are: lots of big shade trees and “kitty litter” gravel to run on. Where I’ve parked, you can go left or right on the trail and run for many miles in each direction. I’d only ever been left so I thought I’d go right this time.
I got started around 8am and it still felt pretty good out. The smoke (emanating from British Columbia) has been looming over the Rockies for weeks, and everyone keeps advising against exercising outside… yeah right! You can’t smell the smoke any more but you can certainly see it and not much else. I filled a water bottle with two single serve packets of Skratch and had a packet of Skratch chews if I needed it. I wore a tank and shorts, which I will soon be reluctantly replacing with tights, long-sleeves, and a headband.
I got about a mile and a half down the trail when it turned into pavement. I wasn’t sure if it was going to turn back to gravel, especially when I met a guy on a road bike, so I turned around to go the other direction. Luckily, I was passing by my car with only three miles in, so it was easy to keep going. My stomach had been feeling wonky since Thursday so I wasn’t sure how many miles I would last. I wasn’t have terrible stomach pains, just discomfort. The best way I can describe what I was feeling is that I wasn’t willing to risk finding out if it was only gas or not. Although my stomach was feeling crummy, I was loving the scenery. I passed SO many wild fruit trees along the route – regular apples, crab apples, and persimmons!
At certain points, it smelled like Macintosh Apple scented Yankee Candles (Abby!) ! I’ve always loved that scent. When I would hit the shady parts, with the great apple smell, I would briefly close my eyes and take in a deep breath. I’m not in a rush for fall, even though it is my favorite season, but it was all really making me pleasantly think of fall. This trail will be amazing in the fall because there will be lots of leaves to crunch with my shoes. At one point, I passed this couple walking a huge Bassett Hound, whose ears were dragging the ground! I wanted to pet him so bad!
If I had brought TP reinforcement, I may have continued, but didn’t want to risk shitting myself and called it a day at 10 miles. I still felt like I got in a great long run and I felt great, otherwise. The pleasures of the run defeated all the bad stuff.
I even hit the pace I was supposed to aim for! Right on the $$
After the run, I showered, had lunch (3 eggs, 3 vegan sausage patties, and a whole avocado!), then headed to Elitch Gardens for CU Day! We got discounted tickets and got to ride rides and drink beer the rest of the day. I hadn’t been to an amusement park in a while so it was nice to feel that roller coaster adrenaline again! I rode one of the coasters where your legs dangle, AND I SAT IN THE FRONT! I screamed like a little girl, but it was a blast.
Sunday: Rest Day – When I woke up on Sunday, the spot on my right leg was hurting pretty bad. I can’t tell if it’s muscle or the edge of my shin.
It hurts the most first thing in the morning
When I take a step and lift the leg back up, that’s when it really hurts
It feels better as the day goes on
It doesn’t hurt at all if there is no pressure on it
It will hurt for like the first half mile of running, and then I won’t feel it the rest of the run
(edit)The pain is along the inside of my shin bone ( shin splints?)
What do you think? I’m sure it could be any number of things, and I’m likely going to go see a PT soon. I have the Estes Epic 25K this weekend, so I’m going to buy some compression socks to run in, then deal with the possible consequences later. Stoopid? Maybe, but that’s what I’m doing.
Thanks for reading!
Last Saturday I ran the Green Lakes Endurance Run 50k. It was my first Ultra 3 years ago, so I had a little bit of a time goal in mind. It’s a very runnable course with no mud, and just enough hills to keep you awake. We run around a couple small lakes, through wooded areas, and around some grassy trails that can get warm late in the race.
I think my buildup went well. I did 4 20+ mile runs, finishing with a 24 miler two weeks out. No major physical problems, just minor flareups of the hamstring and achilles. Plus, although I run pre-dawn, we had some toasty days the last couple months. It actually got into the 70’s by the end of a couple of the long runs. Unbearable!
Race morning was gorgeous. Full moon, clear skies and 59 degrees. I took this picture a couple years ago, but it looked a little like this at one point during the race:
The park has tons of deer in it, to a point where the population has to be controlled. It’s the source of the majority of the local Lyme disease cases. The deer are quite tame, too. There was one on the path around the lake during lap 2 that never ran away. I could have reached out and tapped her on the nose. But I’ve never had a tick bite after spending countless hours running on the grassy trails there. I’m diligent about my tick checks, but maybe they just don’t have a taste for me.
I finished this race in 5:57 in 2015, and one of my big takeaways was to not linger at the aid stations. There was one at the start/finish, and one at the halfway point. I set up my chair with everything I needed next to the road at the start/finish, and purposefully did not stop at the aid stations. I slowed down and thanked the volunteers for being awesome, but kept moving.
The other thing I learned was that although it’s ok (and sometimes beneficial) to walk the uphills, but don’t turn it into a stroll. Keep pushing, while keeping the heart rate in check. I think this both helps keep focus and uses a different set of muscles.
The first of four 12.5k loops came in at 1:14. Not too bad. I didn’t do anything stupid yet, and still pretty good pace. Ditto for loop 2, 1:13. Images of a 5:00 finish were flashing in my mind. Things were still going well on loop 3 until I got a little overzealous on the final descent. At the bottom, my entire left inner quad cramped up. I took a shot of pickle juice and rubbed it vigorously (the leg😊). Images of a death march through loop 4 then flashed in my mind. It seemed to clear up over the easy trip around the lake to finish loop 3 in 1:19. 5:00 was still possible. But while going up the hill that gave me the cramp coming down, the cramping came back. More pickle juice, more rubbing, mixed in with lots of whining and self pity got me going again, although quite slowly.
The remainder of loop 4 included lots of suffering, and I kept telling myself that this is just a normal part of this wonderful experience. If it doesn’t suck at some point, then you’re doing it wrong. And that there is always an end to the suck. The pace chart told the story of ugliness:
Surprisingly, I only slowed by 17 minutes over the final loop for a respectable 5:23 finish (a 34 minute pr!). But it’s more satisfying to look back at the lessons learned through the miles and hours of preparation, the organization of race day, and the training of the mind on course when things start to go “downhill”.
It turns out I’m not very beach savvy, especially at the end of a race with diminished mental capacity. When I went to the beach to soak in the lake afterward, there were floating ropes all over the place, and I couldn’t figure out where to go. So I went to a not-so-crowded spot and sat down. Sure enough, a lifeguard had to point me to a proper place for my recovery bath.
I never have foot issues, so I’m proud of this one. Pretty, huh?
Next up is the Wineglass half. And maybe before then the trail pumpkin run if I’m feeling it.
36th wedding anniversary today.
T-Rex's birthday yesterday.
Ran 1-1/2 miles home after PT yesterday without pain.
Digging out a tree stump in the back yard. Dirty. Sweaty.
Watching all the Marvel movies, one almost every day as schedule permits. Ant-man is up next.
Zamgirl moved to Florida.😢
Fall's coming, y'all. Three weeks.
I did that marathon in March and neglected to do a race report. I'm sure there was a Loopville Facebook post though. Anyway, since then, no races and no real desire to train for one.
When Runner's World dropped their community, many of the forum folks migrated to RunningAhead.com (RA). I had been an occasional participant there, so joined up on RA too. I added my name to a year long challenge where you are on a team of 10 or so other runners up against about 10 other teams. Everyone puts in a mileage goal for the year and then the weekly miles are logged (pulled from Garmin if so desired). The teams hitting their weekly goals or going over win points each week. Obviously you could sandbag your miles and get a high percentage of actual to goal miles, but I think most are pretty honest on there.
Anyway, I put in a year goal of 2018 miles which is about 40 miles per week. This little challenge is about the only thing that has kept me running consistently during the summer as motiviation otherwise is quite lacking. And some weeks (week before last with only 30, for example) I don't get meet my weekly 40. Oh well. What's worse is our team is in last place overall. One guy said we are the Baltimore Orioles of the challenge.
Oh, but there was one week where the "All Stars" competed. Each team picked 2 or 3 higher mileage people from their team and combined with those from other teams to have two sides. The side with the most miles that week gets some kind of mileage bonus later on. I got motivated and ran 80 miles that week, a record high for me. It wasn't easy and I was wiped out the next week. Our side did win though, by less than 20 or so miles I think.
My summer's physical activity has basically been this: Running 35 - 40 miles per week. Biking to work (approx 100 mpw). Hitting the gym two, maybe three times a week.
Last Thursday we got a nice cooldown, especially in the morning temps and humidity. It felt great and I felt better on my runs than I have since before summer. I ended up with 50 miles, much higher than most weeks, except that crazy 80.
Which reminds me of a joke. What does the pirate say on his 80th birthday? "Aye matey!"
For now I'll continue joining running friends who are training for their fall marathons and such. Long time RB Tim signed up for a 40 mile trail race in October. Nope.
Words cannot describe how it feels to experience the change. The change in my body. The change in my mind. The change in my heart.
Reflection is a tricky beast. In the best of times, it can be a happy reminder of experiences to stay optimistic for the future. In the worst of times, it can drag you to places you don’t ever want to revisit. We all have the moments of if I knew then what I knew now… and like to think of how we might appreciate something more or do it differently.
But that doesn’t make us who we are today.
I often cringe at clichès, but there is some truth in letting our experiences teach us for the future. I wouldn’t be as appreciative because I blissfully was unaware of potential loss. The eternal optimist expects to live long and live full. But that’s not to say we need the light to shine bright all the time.
I always thought I was truly joyful in my health, my ability to run race after race without consequence, and never took shortcuts in my training. I didn’t sign up for things that were beyond my ability. I waited until I was physically ready and then, mentally ready.
And sometimes I actually wondered aloud how was it possible to have all this good stuff happen to me. It is indeed possible to feel like a poser in your own life.
I hate that it often intertwines with Adam and MS because the last thing that he wants is for anyone to feel sorry for him. But these moments of joy and health are not just shaped by my own experiences. They are a life shared with another.
Walking from Morton’s back to our hotel in Chicago, draped over his side in my heels, I never knew this memory would stick out in my mind. We shared a bottle of wine, gorged ourselves with enormous steaks, and were in the midst of my to-this-day favorite trips I have ever taken.
I flip through my mind and always stumble upon the last night we spent in Yellowstone in a cabin that seemed so far removed from the rest of the world. We might never be able to walk down the incline to view the upper falls again. And I cherish that night that we fell into bed, exhausted from the day and listened to the rainstorm come through with the window open.
Even as late as last year when we wandered through thousand-year-old alleys and sipped frothy ales under blindingly blue skies, I didn’t know how much it would seal into my heart. That perfect afternoon of lying across the sofa together, legs entangled while we napped can never be duplicated. And I hold tight to the memory of smelling the crisp Scandinavian air in the middle of May, listening to a carefully cultivated jazz collection while dozing in and out of consciousness.
I say all this because we often forget how good things are until we don’t have them. And I choose to reflect happily, feeling lucky that we did what we did when we could.
After the Albany marathon last year, when I slipped under 3:15 after finally feeling confident to go for it, I felt on a precipice of immense joy. So I tried to savor all the good occurrences, again feeling like I was a poser in my own life. How could it be possible to be filled with such good?
And yet, I feel excited for the same reasons for 2019. Maybe because 2018 has been tough so far. Maybe because I have planning some of this for over a year now. Maybe because I step without caution once again.
Maybe because I’m just happy to find my joy again.
At work I receive many "system monitoring" emails. I ignore about 99% of them, but the subject of some do cause one to wonder sometimes. For example, "release post dump".
What is being released?
What is being posted?
And, well, I don't want to know what is being dumped.
We have been blessed with some cooler weather yesterday, today and into the weekend.
Why do weather forecasts show the next day's low as today's low?
The 60 for "Today" is tomorrow morning's low.
The 63 for Saturday is Sunday morning's low.
This is just annoying.
Anyway, if I recall correctly, most people post about running on this community. There does seem to be one dissenter, but we won't shun him.
Newspaper headlines are getting odd. "A robber drove off with a Matthews woman’s truck. Her dog was still inside." Why not just, "Matthews Woman Truck and Dog Stolen"?
"Starving housecat found cowering on NC mountain peak. A rescue group saved him." Shouldn't this be, "Rescue Group Saves Housecat On Mountain Peak"?
I don't get the sentence format. Is the second sentence supposed to be a punch line or hook of some sort?
Here are some photos I took on this morning's bike commute.
Georgetown to Idaho Springs 13.1 – August 11, 2018
This was my third running of the GtIS half and it’s 40th anniversary! It also happened to be on my friend Kelli and also another coworker’s birthdays! I managed to talk them into running it for their birthdays and two other coworkers as well! The other two coworkers didn’t make it but we were able to give their bibs to others.We ordered tank-tops from Amazon and personalized them ourselves! Kelli really sucked at the painting (love you Kelli!) so I did 3 of the 4 shirts. It was harder than it looked because of the small stencil lettering, but I still managed to make them look decent.
Saturday was going to be a long but fun day since we would be celebrating Kelli’s birthday all day. I had some yummy bread and pasta Friday night and got a good night’s sleep. I woke up at 5:15 Saturday morning feeling rested and ready to go. We picked up Kelli & Jake and headed to Idaho Springs, where we picked up Lindsey and headed to Georgetown.
This was my third time running the race, and the weather has been perfect each time; chilly enough for a long-sleeved t-shirt while waiting for the race to start, then warm enough to ditch it before we took off. Kelli and Lindsey started together, but were going too fast for my liking so I stayed back. However, when I finished the first mile, it read 9:03; I didn’t intend to go quite that slow. I ran up to catch up with Kelli and ran with her for about a quarter mile, then took off ahead.
Pre-race photo: Lindsey, Kelli, myself, and Haleigh
I was pretty zoned out for the race and it was mostly uneventful. I ALWAYS bring at least a small hand-held water bottle for races, just in case. I didn’t for this one and ended up regretting it. It got hot pretty fast and I was wishing for water when there wasn’t any. An aid station every 3 miles seems sufficient, but could have used more water.
Miles 2-4 came in at 8:09, 8:03, and 7:59! I found a pair to pace off of and I tried my best to stay behind them. A couple times I found myself in front of them and thought, Whoa Nelly! The strategy was working really well and miles 5-7 came in at 8:10, 8:04, and 8:09. I couldn’t believe how consistently fast I was running and I felt great! However, early on, I could feel that I would be hitting a wall. That wall, although relatively small, came around mile 8. My “pacers” were getting further ahead of me and I was losing steam. The smalls “hills”/flatter parts that we did encounter felt massive after all of the downhill. I could tell I wouldn’t be able to keep up what I’d started for the first half, but I was glad to have all those banked fast miles. My PR for this race was 1:53 and I just wanted to get under that. I thought I was well on my way to make that happen.
Still looking fresh (aka like a dork) at Mile 2
Miles 8-11 came in at 8:12, 8:25, 8:49, 8:38. I was stopping (completely) at each water station to guzzle water. I was reallllly regretting not bringing my own bottle. I took a Huma mango gel around mile 9; those things are tasty! I think the last aid station was around mile 12 and I even stopped at that one. At one point I grabbed Nuun, which I really just don’t like. There was dirt part of this course that lasted a couple miles, I think. I always really like this section and appreciate the break from the pavement.
Dirt section around mile 8
I was pushing hard the last mile and realized it could be possible to finish under 1:50! However, I had nothing left in the tank (just how I like it) and didn’t quite hit it. Miles 12 and 13 came in at 9:11 and 8:43.
That’s the pain train face… Those calves tho!
I finished in 1:50:25! It was my third fastest half marathon EVER, and at altitude! I’ll take it! Most importantly, I hit a race PR! Below is a comparison of the three years I’ve completed it. As I was looking, I noticed the dramatic drop in the amount of participants over the years! I’m actually pretty surprised… I wonder why? It’s a great race and relatively cheap.
After the race, we went to Breckenridge Brewery Littleton to have some fun for Kelli’s birthday. There were some drinks had and cornhole (or apparently it’s aka Bags?) played. After that, we went to a free concert at a local pavilion, then after THAT, we went out for a late dinner. It was so much fun and I didn’t feel as exhausted as I thought I would. I definitely slept in the next day. I had some crazy hot spots on the balls of both my feet, and even had a blister below the big toe on my right foot. That right foot always has issues, included the forever callus that I have on the outside of my big toe that gets REALLY sore after long runs. I wasn’t a fan of my New Balance shoes after this run.
There were comments made that Haleigh’s boyfriend looks like our track coach Haha!
What a great day it was!
One last thing, I ran this race in 2015 with some faces that you may recognize...
Thanks for reading,
Wow. I’m not sure where to start with this week. Well, it actually started off really well and I felt strong. I was sore from the half marathon on Saturday, but I felt good and ready to knock out another week.
Monday: Barbell Strength class – If you’ve ever taken BodyPump, it’s the same thing. You have a very light weight barbell, choose whatever weights you want to use, and a step. The step is for lying back on when we do chest presses and other things. I love this class because it’s low weight/high reps and you basically keep going until muscle burnout. I was sore in all the right places after this and it will be my weekly Monday cross training.
Tuesday: Hill Repeats – I decided to run after work and to run on the 0.3mi hill behind my house. Storms were brewing and I hoped I might actually get rained on. However, Colorado rain showers are hardly ever friendly and this was no exception. I got in four repeats, when I’d planned on six, before the lightning got too close. I headed back home feeling good about the four that I’d done. Shortly after I got in the house, it started pouring and then started hailing ping pong sized hail. Luckily, my car was unharmed but I think it’s just a matter of time before it gets dinged up.
Wednesday: Yoga Roll – I was pretty sore in my calves by this day so the thought of foam rolling AND yoga sounded amazing. The rolling hurt, but hurt good; we did that before we started yoga, then the yoga was a simple flow. It was a great class to take on my lunch break.
Thursday: 4 mile Tempo (@8:30)– This is where the week turned for the worse. The whole week had been really busy at work, as school starts on the 20th (today!) and folks were in a panic to finish things before the semester started. I’d handled it pretty well but the stress had caught up to me and showed in my run. Some other reasoning (excuses) for this also included that I was still pretty sore from the half, and that the route wasn’t as flat as I’d like for a tempo. Either way, I missed the mark. Actual: 4 miles (6 total) @8:45
Friday: REST- Was supposed to be a cross training day, but since I didn’t take the optional rest day on Wednesday, I chose it on this day. I had a 12 miler planned the next day and wanted the extra rest.
Saturday: 12 miles @ 9:35– I can keep a 9:35 pace easy, right? Not on this day at least. I started off nicely, but by the halfway mark, I just wasn’t feeling it. I could still feel the soreness in my calves but I could have ran through it, keeping pace. For some reason, the first walk break I took brought on a lot of emotions. I usually like to get out a good cry after a stressful week, but hadn’t done that yet. My body was forcing me to do it right then. I didn’t cry a ton, but enough. I walked almost all of the last four miles, which made me regret the extra mile I did for the out-and-back so that I’d have a cool down mile at the end. I obviously didn’t hit the pace but I got the miles in. I feel like that’s the most important part in the beginning of a training cycle. I still ended up with the long run munchies (yay!) so I was eating a little bit of everything the rest of the day.
Sunday: Rest Day aka Spectating for DH in the Pikes Peak marathon and writing this blog. This race was DH’s first big race since having surgery last year. He did great and I’m so proud of him. He even finished in the top 50 which is SO impressive! I did get to see Dakota Jones win the men’s race and set a downhill speed record! Also, Megan Kimmel won for the ladies and set a new women’s course PR!
I will say, it was hard to start the week on such a high from my stellar finish in the 13.1, and then to end it on such a low. However, it’s the lows that make us better athletes. It’s the lows that keep us in check. It’s the lows that makes us push harder for the highs. When we get those highs, we have to milk them for all they are worth, for as long as we can. Reach high for the sky, my friends.
As I raise my green machine smoothie to that blue bird sky, cheers to a better week!
Thanks for reading,
First two sessions of PT last week. Had my initial eval with not-John (I think his name might be Brandon). Not-John didn't have anything definite to say other than it's all connected, which I already knew, and they'll work to stretch and strengthen some stuff and hopefully things will get better.
Went back on Thursday so see Amanda. I love Amanda. After Sarah had me warm up on the stationary bike for five minutes and do a few other exercises, Amanda went to work on the knee, asking about where and how much it hurt, moving it around and checking my strength and pain points. She was working at the popliteus, and asked if there was a problem there. She could tell there was. So could I. In fact, the first symptom I had back in February was pain and puffiness back there. It wasn't until a week later that the meniscus pain started, which really began this whole PT-MRI-surgery-more PT saga of 2018. That popliteus has been a mostly minor irritant the whole time. Anyway, she kept on it for a while and it really made a difference since Thursday. She also found a bunch of ropey, rough tissue at the lower end of my hamstring. I could feel how bumpy it was as she scraped along it. Of course, this has also caused my PF on that foot to flair up (because it's all connected, yo), so she worked on that, too. Then she KT'd the left leg from the knee to under the heel.
I was kind of sore still Friday and Saturday, but yesterday was as good as I've felt in a long time. Hope springs again.
Went out for a long walk on Saturday. Just felt like I should be moving some, and walking has never hurt very much. A mile seemed a silly distance, so I was planning two, then three, and finally four once I got into the park. Louie did fine, but I was wearing sandals and ended up with a small blister on the big toe mound. I'll be switching to shoes for my next walk. I got a decent sweat going since it was hot, but walking is so darn slow! Fortunately, I've got a good book going on Overdrive right now, so I just kept going while I listened for an hour or so.
Mrs. Dave decided last week that she needed to try to understand the Marvel Universe better before she sees Infinity Wars, so the three of us (T-Rex is still home for a few more weeks) are going through all of the movies in order of release. So far we're through Ironman, The Incredible Hulk, Ironman 2, Thor, Captain America, and the first half hour of The Avengers. She fell asleep about when they arrived on the flying aircraft carrier (sorry if that's a spoiler). I'm really bad at remembering movie details, so I don't mind seeing them again.
No home projects this week. I looked into fixing the grass , but to really do that I'd need to spend a bucketload of money on a sprinkler system. Nope.
One more week closer to talking about running again.
I am a big fan of running while on vacation! I always see sights I wouldn't see otherwise, and I enjoy staying in my training groove. I've learned a lot about how to make outdoor vacation running happen through trial and error, so I thought I'd share the strategies that have helped me...because not every trip can be a race trip, right??
I would have missed this if I hadn't run on vacation!
Look at a map of your area. I simply pull up the map app on my phone and look around my current location. I've done this enough that I can typically determine a pretty accurate route from that map alone; for one run on my last vacation I eyeballed a loop I thought would be 4 miles, and it ended up measuring 4.1 miles (I was going to run it 3 times for a 12 miler, but then I found other places to explore, illustrating the importance of being open-minded)! Look for:
Rivers and lakes. There are often running trails that run along rivers and lakes, and you won't always find them online. Find an easy way to get from your hotel to the water, and you'll often find great running paths once you get there! I found a great path by doing this on our Niagara Falls vacation.
Parks. Every park is going to have at minimum sidewalks around it. Some parks are tiny and not of much help, but you can gauge that from the map.
Roads leading out of town. When road tripping, we often stay in smaller towns along the way, and in the Midwest I can simply run out of town onto country roads. I did this several times on our Niagara Falls vacation, our Minnesota/Canada vacation, and our Yellowstone vacation.
In town major roads. If there are no great options for routes, running alongside a major road in town is often a good bet. There are almost always sidewalks you can run on, and since you're running parallel to most of the traffic flow you won't have to stop for cars (cars coming off of side streets will generally have stop signs or lights, so will have to yield for you). I did a lot of this on our Orlando vacation. If you are at a big attraction like Disney, another option is running around the theme park parking lots, but we didn't stay on site so I didn't do this.
Highways, so you can avoid running on them and crossing them.
Ask at the front desk of your hotel. Sometimes you'll get great advice on a nice running route; other times they will direct you to a park with a loop that ends up being a quarter mile; others they will look at you like you're crazy. At minimum they can usually tell you the safest direction to go.
Just run and you'll find something. My husband always says that I'd run 10 miles around the hotel parking lot if I had to, which is not untrue. Sometimes I just start running and see where it takes me, and I always find something. Out and back courses are your best friend in this scenario! I only run simple loops if I've verified them on a map beforehand.
Run early. Every route is easier to navigate at 5:00-6:30 a.m., and you won't have to deal with nearly as much traffic. Running later in any city is just asking for a lot of stop/starting.
Run with your phone. I loathe running with my phone, but for safety I always take it when I'm running in unfamiliar areas. It's also helpful if you get lost; I had to use it in Chicago once for this reason!
Pack breakfasts and electrolytes. If you're traveling with a group and you're the only runner, you might be running while others in your party go to the hotel breakfast; or the rest of your group may eat McDonalds for breakfast nearly every day (this was the case on our Niagara Falls trip). I always pack oatmeal, protein powder, fruit, raisins, and nuts, and can always put together a nice breakfast out of this (you can heat water in your hotel coffee maker if needed). Many vacations also entail sweating a lot, so I am extra vigilant about drinking water with nuun after running.
Adjust pace expectations. Remember that stress is stress and energy expenditure is energy expenditure. Your body doesn't distinguish between training stress and other stress, and vacation can be draining! Don't worry about slowing down your pace as needed. Every day is different, and I haven't really found a clear pattern for myself regarding fast vs. slow vacation runs, but more are the latter and I don't put pressure on myself to perform the same as I would at home. That's what the other 50 weeks of the year are for!
Fit things in where you can. It's amazing how much you can do if you're creative about it. I fit in about 90 minutes of strength work on my last vacation, nearly exclusively during road trip rest stops and while waiting for others in our group at the hotel. Another technique that's helpful is when your group goes to a sit down meal, tell someone else your order and go run while everyone gets seated, gets drinks, orders, and waits for their food. You can easily run for 30 minutes then change while this is occurring, and then sit down to refuel!
Running on vacation may not be for everyone, but it is for me!
You can read related posts here:
Running on vacation in general
Our 2018 trip to Niagara Falls and what I ran during it
Our 2018 Minnesota and Canada vacation, and what I ran during it
A briefer mention of our post-CIM 2017 California vacation
Why being an endurance athlete is helpful on a Disney vacation
Disney vacation part 1, with runs detailed
Disney vacation part 2, with runs detailed
Disney vacation part 3, with runs detailed
Disney vacation part 4, with runs detailed
Our 2016 Yellowstone vacation, and what I ran during it
Week one of marathon training is complete! It was such a great week and felt amazing to be back at it again. I have so much motivation and I just hope it keeps going. I do get to train in my most favorite season, for my new most favorite race, so I feel like I’m set up for success!
Monday: My buddy Kelli is a kickboxing instructor at the new wellness center on campus so I decided to join in on the class she was teaching. I am one of those tall, uncoordinated girls and I usually don’t like classes like that. Luckily, it wasn’t one that involved a step so I didn’t do too bad! It was a good workout, I got my sweat on, and was sore in my shoulders the next day!
Tuesday: Track Tuesday! I hadn’t ran on the track in many months so I knew it was going to hurt. The plan was 8x400s @ 1:45 with a mile WU and CD. I ran a warm-up mile to the local high school track and realized I wasn’t quite sure which button on my Garmin 230 was the lap button. I knew the white button started and stopped the time but for some reason I pressed that anyway when I started the first 400. I quickly restarted it and then figured it out, so my first 400 is a little off. I only hit the target time a couple times and it certainly felt like my first in a while speed workout. Ouch. It wasn’t all that pretty but it still felt great and like it was progress made!
Wednesday: I got up early and made it to Yoga Flow at the new wellness center! I normally do not like yoga that isn’t hot yoga but I surprisingly liked this. I’m still stiff as a board but it didn’t feel too bad. I did, however, forget to bring a bra and underwear so William had to bring them to me! Doh! Luckily, he hadn’t left the house and goes right by the gym to get to work!
Thursday: Tempo day! Ok, running fast is hard these days and I do NOT know how to pace myself. I woke up not feeling excited about running 8:30/mi, even for just three miles. I thought, I have the half on Saturday and I really don’t want to be sore for it. I could just run five miles instead, or I could just try for a slower pace. I don’t know if I could even keep that pace for three miles… Blah, blah, blah. Well, how the hell does anyone know what they can do until they try? Chris, will you ever learn that lesson and quit sandbagging yourself?! Not likely. Sandbagging is better than tea-bagging though, right? HAHA!!
ANYWHO, when I got out the door, I said fuck it and decided to go for the 8:30/mi. I did a warm-up mile and then picked it up when my watched chimed for a mile. I was going to do 1.5 miles out and then back. I had no idea how fast to go for 8:30/mi so I just ran. When the first tempo mile chimed 7:59, I was like whoa! It certainly felt hard but I didn’t think I was running THAT fast. I decided to just keep going and see how long I could hold it. The second mile was 8:06, and I definitely lost some steam after that because the third mile was 8:22. I finished it up with a cool-down mile. It felt hard but good and I’m glad I pushed it. (Writing this part on Friday – I’m not sore at all!)
Friday: I was supposed to cross train but I didn’t and I’m OK with that. I knew I was going to try to run fast for the half on Saturday so I enjoyed the extra rest day. I actually had a couple beers at Crazy Mountain Brewery.
Saturday: Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon and Kelli AND Haleigh’s birthdays! You’ll have to wait for a separate race report to find out what happened (unless you follow me on Strava or social media and already know!).
Sunday: REST DAY. This included a lot of napping and a dip in the hot tub.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the GtIS RR!
Isn’t it great when non-runners look at you crazy for being excited to run? We pretend to be annoyed by their silly comments.
I don’t even like to drive that far!
I only run when something is chasing me!
I run… to the refrigerator!
Everyone laughs and then we go on about our respective lives. But I imagine that most runners secretly hold in the pride they feel when they hear such things.
Pride because of the joy it brings us. Pride because of the sense of accomplishment we feel. Pride because of how it influences us to make better decisions in other areas of our lives (usually).
We wonder if they are envious of our physical abilities or do they actually think we are certifiably nuts?
I had this notion a few years ago that I was never going to run a 100 mile race. That just seemed, well, ludicrous! My body was just not the type that could manage to finish something like that, let alone train.
Yet, here we are.
And the more I listen to stories of people accomplishing amazing things in running, the more I believe that it really is possible to do things we never thought we’d do.
I have been lucky to follow the journeys of so many fantastic runners. We won’t always get faster and we may not always run further, but challenging ourselves is what (in my opinion) sets us apart from the hobby joggers.
I have no big races to report on. No big workouts to share. Assuming I’m playing the comparison game of course. Comparing to other runners. Comparing to 2017 Carissa.
But I just completed a huge workout! 4 miles in the rain. I was thinking about my metatarsal and my tibia probably 80% of the run. Worrying if my gait was okay. Worrying if my cadence was okay. In a constant flux of am I doing enough or too much?
And it may seem silly to say in the midst of all this worrying that I was somehow also really, really happy.
It was humid and drizzling after a thunderstorm rolled through. I almost drove home, but decided very last minute to stop at the track. The high school football team was pouring from the main building to the stadium and I almost bailed at the thought of sharing the space when them.
But they were getting in their $50,000 cars and driving home, leaving me to the track by myself. I laughed a bit thinking how perfect the conditions were if I were at the top of my game. But why couldn’t I appreciate it while coming back?
So I fired up my Spotify “Comeback” playlist and laced up my new shoes labeled “Nike Pegasus Turbo The Comeback Shoe” and walked 400 meters before I started to run.
You know how a summer rain run almost feels like you getting away with something? Like it’s a crazy little secret that’s yours. And you don’t want to tell too many people how awesome it is because what makes it great is that you usually have the running space to yourself?
Yeah, so I’m acutely aware of the possibility that someone might see the shit-eating grin on my face as I shuffle around and around. There are the moments that I’m able to forget. I get lost in my thoughts briefly and when I’m jolted back to reality, I’m almost angry that I slipped back to consciousness. Because those lost-in-my-thoughts moments are great on any run, but they are especially great when all I can think about is my stupid injury.
The rain picks up a bit and I look around the empty field, not at all surprised that I’m the only person in my vantage point.
And I’m kind of happy that no one is in on my little secret today. At some point, I realized running circles in the humid rain alone might sound awful. But I’m lucky I’ve returned to my happy place.
I think I've been able to stay pretty upbeat about being on the shelf for almost six months now. Until now.
Over the weekend we had all the kids and grandkids at the house. That doesn't represent a huge crowd, since there's just the four of them plus the three grands. We went to a Tigers game, spent time at the lake, played games. Should have been a great time.
I'm not really saying it wasn't, but I spent too much time thinking about how my stomach looks like Carrie Underwood's right now. And it feels even bigger.
Went to PT yesterday. Gave them the rundown of everything that's happened since last time I was there, wasting everyone's time so Blue Cross would approve an MRI. He worked some around the knee and taped up the ACL. It hurts today.
There you go.
Yay, it's 2016!
More about that later, in this Race Report on the Cypress Run 5K.
I'm an old dude, so this bloop is not going to help anybody learn to run faster. However, it might serve as a data point in the endless flow of data we sift through, in trying to answer the question, "What the hell is going on!?!?"
I was out with serious illness, and invasive treatment for the last half of 2017. Before that, I was able to run a 10K in 52:35, for a pace of 8:27. The Age-Performance grade is 63.94%. I also ran a 5K earlier in the year in 25:35. That's an Age-Performance grade of 62.07%. I was happy with my progress as a runner, but I didn't really feel like I deserved an attaboy until I reached 70%. My longest training run was 10 miles.
In mid-January of this year, I started running again. I had hoped that my legs and lungs would still hold some of that strength from the first half of 2017, but I wasn't quite feeling it. So, I went back to the beginning, and started with Week 1 of the Couch 2 5K program. I would try to ramp up the miles and speed as quickly as possible. I would use the Galloway approach, and walk for 60 seconds every half mile, to protect myself from injury. Maybe, I could leapfrog over the weeks, or jump to an Intermediate program, if the training went well.
I was shocked and dismayed to find that starting back at the beginning seemed to suit me. Can you really lose that much in just 6 months of illness?
In April, the Donate Life 5K came up, and I decided to run it with my daughter (the subject of a previous bloop). I hadn't quite finished the Couch 2 5K program yet, and I didn't seem to be getting up to any speed with it. So, I wasn't ready yet for the 5K race, but we both believe in the cause of this race, so we did it. I ran it in 34:37.
Yikes! My first 5K ever was in 2016 (Donate Life), and I ran it in 30:08. Had my body actually regressed more than two years....back to 2015? Or worse?
That was a shock. Then, I experienced more frustration in training runs. I think my legs were happy to get out there again. And my lungs seemed fine. But I just felt tired. I didn't feel the lactic acid effect in my legs. My lungs never burned. I just seemed to get tired. And my training times were terrible. I couldn't break 10 minutes per mile, and rarely came close. I remember the woman on the Loop who knew what everyone's race pace should be, and her advice to new runners, "Slow the !#?%!@#! down!" I was at peace with that. But, one of the wonderful moments in training comes when you accidentally peel off a great time. Nope. Wasn't happening.
I had moved on to the Intermediate 5K training program. It felt burdensome. Then, I failed on a 5-mile fartlek. No lactic acid, really. No burning lungs. Just tired. And I stopped, and walked two miles back to my home. It sure felt like defeat.
So, I decided I'd switch over to the Beginners 10K training program. 5 days of running, not 6.
In the meantime, I wanted to run another 5K to verify that I was truly at pre-2016 levels. I chose the Cypress Run 5K.
In seeking another way to answer my question, I ran a fast mile a week before the race. I did break 10 minutes. But the calculator predicted a 5K time of 34 minutes. Jeez!
I arrived at the Cypress race hoping to at least get into 31 minutes. It was a fun event. Well-organized. I ran it with both my son and daughter, and had a great time.
I decided at the last minute to run it without stopping. My legs actually seemed grateful to just keep pumping away. I felt good and strong through the first two miles. In the third mile, there was at least one episode of 'bouncing,' which looks like you're running, sorta-kinda, but you're sure not moving forward much. I needed to catch my breath with bouncing for about 60 seconds.
My son took off at the two-mile mark, and disappeared. My daughter and I kicked it a bit in the last .1 mile, and passed two people on the way to the finish line. A nice surprise to have some energy left.
My time? 29:47. Yes, I was at least back to 2016!
I had not trusted my training. I forgot the magic power of a taper week. And there's the weird, fun energy you get from running with a bunch of people.
I feel like I'm back in the ballgame now. I'll just have to be patient in getting back to 2017. I'm not good at patience, but maybe I'm supposed to learn.
Running is mental.
I made a FBF post on my WordPress blog last week but didn't get it posted here in time. I can't post something meant for Friday, not on a Friday. You can read it here.
This installment is a great attest to how much fun my best friend, Erin, and I use to have. We’ve only been able to see each other a handful of times since I moved to Colorado. However, she just moved to Arizona so I think I might be able to see her a little more often! I sure do miss running and having fun with her. She even came out to CO for my wedding in 2014!
The Adventures of Chris and Erin 7/21/11
It never fails that an adventure develops during Erin and I’s road trips. Whether the trip is small or large, something always happens that leaves us thinking and saying…. WTF? Yesterday was no exception.
If you read my Nashville Country Music Marathon road trip blog, we took an hour detour to find multiple froyos that we never found. I’ll come back to that point later. We had planned to drive to William B. Umstead State Park 1.5 hrs away from our location. This park has some great trails to run on and we needed to practice on some for our upcoming [NFEC Georgia] 50K. I drove so Erin was navigating and put in Umstead Park in her GPS. I’d been there a couple times and knew which way to head but the GPS was taking us a different route. Maybe it knows a quicker way. The closer we got, I began to wonder where the hell we were going. It was leading us to Chapel Hill and Umstead is in Raleigh. Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Durham make up the “Triangle” and they are all close together, so I just thought it was taking us a different way. Once we were downtown Chapel Hill and looking at UNC Chapel Hill, I knew we were lost. I guess there is another Umstead Park; we had to drive 20 more minutes to get to our location.
We finally get there and it’s already 11am and 95°; good thing we both were running in our slutties (aka super short running shorts)! I forgot to get my Camelbak so I used two hand held bottles. (I use to run with a Camelbak, ugh!) We were going to make a loop so I’d ditch one of the bottles for when we came back around. The plan was to run 10 so we headed off. There was lots of shade so we weren’t out in the sun for too long. The trails were beautiful and pretty technical is some spots. We had lots of little bridges to cross and roots to maneuver through. With lots of switchbacks, we wondered if the trail would ever end; I love trails but they make the miles seem much longer. After an hour, I took two salt tabs (really? for 10 miles?) and ate a pack of Honey Stingers. The other water bottle I ditched had diluted Gatorade so I chugged some of that. (You’d think I was running an ultra…)
We were getting back to where my car was parked, but we still needed two more miles. We were going to pass the car, go down a mile, and turn around. I started having stomach cramps as soon as we got past the car. I’m guessing I took in too many electrolytes at one time. (Ya think?!) My tummy has been sensitive in the past so it wasn’t a surprise. We had to stop and walk a couple times because it was hurting so bad; I even had to bend over a couple times to make the cramps stop. We didn’t make it down a mile and decided to turn around – it just wasn’t going to happen.
We’d assumed there would be showers in the park we could use, but they turned out to only be for campers. Crap! What now?? We still had plans to go shop for trail shoes. We thought about being rebels and use the showers anyway but didn’t want to get ticketed by the Park Rangers. We found a bathroom that had a couple big sinks. Let’s do it! Yep, we showered in the sinks. As I was sitting up on the counter with my feet in the sink, another girl walks in. Erin and I get really quiet and then busted out laughing when she left! Let me tell you, sink showers take forever! We were in there almost an hour! I still felt pretty gross afterwards b/c we had been drenched with sweat. I was still having GI issues at this point and just felt like crap. It was time for FOOD!
I’ll tell the last part in bullets or this will go on forever:
REI’s in store shoe selection SUCKS! Didn’t find anything!
Walked to Dick’s Sporting Goods down the road and it down poured just as we were leaving the building
FINALLY GOT SOME DANG FROYO!!! (Froyo/Ice Cream is serious in our world)
Hit Raleigh rush hour traffic
On the way home, decided to make a detour to outlet malls* close by
A torrential downpour and storm starts while we are in the Nike store
Run from Nike to the Merrell store and almost get taken away by wind/rain
Decided to call it quits and head home after two stores
We were gone from 9am-8pm!!!!
* The last time we were at these outlet malls is when NC had major tornado damage in the area. We were dodging tornadoes on the way home!!! Luckily, this time it was only thunderstorms.
So there you have it folks.
Another adventure in the lives of Chris and Erin!