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A December to Remember



December 2020 in review!  

Total mileage for the month: 327.3
  • Nov. 30-Dec. 6:  75.1
  • Dec. 7-13:  70.7
  • Dec. 14-20:  73.8
  • Dec. 21-27:  77.4
  • Dec. 28-Jan. 3: projected at 72
Races:  None this month, but I think there will be some 2021 racing!
  • Dec. 2:  An unstructured faster day that included 5 moderate miles and about (I lost count) 12 x telephone pole pickups within a 10.2 mile run.  I didn't time anything involved in this but my average for the entire run was 7:33.
  • Dec. 5:  Light progression long run (see long runs below)
  • Dec. 15: 10 x 45" hill sprints at 6:00-6:18 pace with 281 total elevation gain per Strava, towards the end of a 10 mile run.  This was my first "real" workout since October, and when I wrote it I thought it was a good starter workout, but during it I really questioned why I didn't make it about 6 reps instead of 10.  Short hill reps are one of the hardest workouts for me because I do not have good power or speed - which is why I need to do them!  This workout is only 7.5 minutes of hard running but I would have an easier time running a 1 hour tempo.  Claudio and Colin ran this with me, which gave me people to chase and kept me honest with running all 10.  I've written a training schedule of workouts and long runs for our group that started Dec. 14, and I have a feeling I'm really going to enjoy this plan (everyone's mileage is individualized but hard efforts and long runs are mostly coordinated).
  • Dec. 18:  6 mile progression, well, a planned light progression of 7:15 -> 6:45, but Casey and Ik started out too fast so it was more steady and then picking up the final mile.  I am usually good at pacing but after 2 months off of workouts I completely failed during mile 1 of this run (for most of it I was running 6:48 pace before pulling back towards the end).  Even though I didn't really do any of the workout as planned, I was good with how it ended up because I wasn't at all sure where my fitness was at and thought it was going to take everything I had to run the 6:45 at the end, but most of my miles were close to 6:45 and I dipped under 6:30 for the final one so yay: 6:56, 6:52, 6:46, 6:49, 6:52, 6:28 (2 warm up, 2.2 cool down).
  • Dec. 23:  10 x 60" hill sprints at 6:XX pace within a 10 mile run (666 ft elevation gain per Strava), also known as the best way to make a mere 10 minutes of running extremely hard - at least for me based on my strengths and weaknesses.  Elise, Rebecca, Casey, and David ran this with me, and again I really appreciated the group workout.
  • Dec. 26:  2 x 2 mile tempo with 2:00 standing recovery between in 6:38, 6:32, 6:26, 6:12 (2 warm up, 3.2 cool down).  Based on the Dec. 18 progression run my goal was to keep my pace in the 6:30s for this workout and to negative split, so I was happy with how this went.  Although I had to work harder than I hoped, I don't think anyone completely nails a workout the day after holiday eating and when away from home (if you do, tell me your secrets!). I was at my in-laws house in Kansas and the flatness of this run almost felt like cheating, plus the weather was really nice at 30 degrees and light wind.  It had been a long time since I'd run a workout solo, which I am uber-thankful for, so it's nice to know I can still manage it!
  • Dec. 29:  15 miles with 5 easy then 0.1 pick up/0.9 easy for the remaining 10.  9 of the 10 pickups were sub-6:00, which was a pleasant surprise because they felt like about 6:15.  I had my Garmin under my sleeve for this entire run so just picked up when it beeped/vibrated at me (I had the workout programmed in).  We had rain, sleet, and snow during this run, but thanks to good gear I stayed warm enough - and thanks to good company I made all of the planned miles happen.  Casey and I both said we wouldn't have done it without the other one!  Jack ran 13.1 with us for his first ever half marathon!  His 15-year-old brother Ben also joined us for the first 6, and I am so impressed with him joining our group at 5:30 a.m. in winter weather - I would not have done that in high school.
  • Strides: Dec. 1, 4, 7, 9, 11 17, 22, 25.
  • Doubles (running):  Dec. 1, 8, 9, 15, 17, 22, 25, 26, 28.
  • GO-ing:  total miles of 14.8 - pretty weak, but I only took 2 days off running this month and on one of those I did nothing (I needed it!). I'm also just not interested in doubling on the ElliptiGO after work when it's pitch dark and cold, but this will increase in the spring.
  • Strength Training:  weekly totals of 3:00, 2:40, 2:50, 2:35.
All of our weekly runs look like this (dark and cold)
Long Runs:
  • Dec. 5: 14.2 miles (7:42) with a light progression dropping from an 8:14 first mile to a 6:47 final mile.  One of my running buddies wanted to run this and I was just along for the ride, but it wasn't super well-thought out because early on we kept holding back from "too much" progression too early, then we realized at mile 11 we weren't really going to finish as fast as we thought, so then we started dropping 20 seconds/mile instead of 5.  I didn't want to run super hard on this day so I was fine with it all!
  • Dec. 6:  12 miles easy (8:10) to kick off back-to-back long runs!  Abby did her long run on Sunday this week so I had company the entire run (Christian, Casey, and Rebecca also started with us but ran shorter distances).
  • Dec. 12:  14.1 miles easy (8:05) that was one of the most random runs of my life, in a good way!  Casey, Colin, and I started running around 7:00 a.m. and made our way towards downtown Springfield to watch Abby and Rebecca run the Santa Run 5k at 8:00 a.m.  The race start was delayed and we kept running up and down 4 blocks of the same road for a couple of miles (the U-turning got old but we didn't know how long the delay was and didn't want to stop running).  Then we ran around the course cheering and back to our cars.  It was all planned out pretty well to get in a 12 mile run, but since they started the race so late we ran 14 instead.  Casey showed us about 5 different locations she lived in during college at MSU, we ran part of the Run for the Ranch course to give Colin a tour, we told some of the weirdest stories that ended up with a drug theme (people we had known at some point using, not us!), and of course we also watched hundreds of people wearing Santa suits race a "5k" (the course was long, but Rebecca and Abby went 1-2 females).
  • Dec. 13:  12 miles easy (8:05).  Abby again ran her long run on Sunday so I had company the whole way, plus Colin was also easily talked into running 12 with us (Christian and Casey ran the first half with us).  14 followed by 12 is pretty comfortable.  I did 21 with a half marathon race then 14 one weekend when training for Indy Monumental Marathon 2019, plus another weekend of some long Saturday workout plus a 12 mile Sunday, and those scared me in advance but went really well so I haven't been scared of these easy paced ones.
  • Dec. 20:  14.4 miles easy (8:03).  This was my group's ugly sweater run, and therefore the farthest I've ever run in an ugly Christmas sweater (I did 12 a couple of years ago in one).  We ran on a trail and passed several others who complimented us on our Christmas cheer.  I was dragging and kept thinking it was my second long run instead of my first.
  • Dec. 21: 11.2 easy (8:00), which felt fantastic and like I was holding back the entire way!  This was a Monday before work or I would have probably run farther.  I have no idea why I felt so much better than the day before, but it was a nice surprise because I started it thinking I might split the mileage 7 and 4 instead.
  • Dec. 29:  15 miles (7:34) with 10 x 0.1 pick ups during the last 10 miles, described above.  I always feel better and run faster overall with less effort when I do these little pick ups!
  • Dec. 31:  12.3 miles (7:55) a day late, because Dec. 30 it was 35 degrees and pouring.  I had planned to take off Dec. 31 so just swapped days.  Running in gross winter weather can take a lot out of me, and the Dec. 29 run beat me up more than I'd expected so I think this worked out even though it wasn't a back-to-back long run.  Sean ran the whole way with me so that was also nice!
Rebecca & Abby ran the Santa run;
Casey, Colin, & I long run cheered
Annual ugly Christmas sweater run
(the man on the right runs with another
group on the same trail & gave us cookies!)
Running Highlights:
  • I am trying a 9-day training schedule, effective Dec. 13, through early March.  I have wanted to do this for awhile, but it means weekday long runs and I wasn't ready to try that until now.  I may have some long runs without company for the entire distance, but any given weekday I think I will have someone willing to run at least 10-12 with me, so I'm going to give it a go.  Each 9 days looks like this:  easy, easy, workout, easy, easy, workout, easy, easy, long run.  I can run from 5:00-7:00 a.m. and be at work by 8:00 a.m., and I think I'll only be up to 16 milers during this trial period, so it's more doable than during the peaks of marathon training.
  • My running group did a Christmas lights run followed by a soup and side dinner around a bonfire in Casey's backyard.  It ended up being a decently warm day and with the fire and bundling up afterwards we didn't even freeze.
  • I volunteered at Run for the Ranch, helping with COVID forms and screenings.  People did really well wearing masks before the races!
  • I did a meters challenge from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve to help my crazy friend Missy's team (it's more of a Cross Fit thing), and I fared pretty well overall but was bounds behind Missy with my 70-some mile weeks (she was working out about 6 hours a day!).  I ran 293 miles total during the contest, and I got the results on Christmas Day right after I finished a 7 mile run which would have put me at an even 300 - I'll keep better track next year but I knew I couldn't get too into it or I'd do too much.
  • I was mentioned on episode 34 of the 1609 Podcast, about 2:25 in - the whole episode is worth listening to, even though I'd already watched and listened to a lot of Marathon Project content by the time I heard it.  I wanted Sara Hall to set the American Record so bad, but I still think it is in her!
  • If you're obsessed with interested in a marathon OTQ, read this.
Christmas lights run
More Christmas lights run
Pretty sure we should get Noxgear royalties
100,000 meter challenge

Life Highlights:
  • December was busy!  In addition to holiday stuff, work got really crazy for a bit and I put in several 12 hour days.
  • A haiku I wrote mostly as a joke was shared here (second from bottom), and I won a great sports bra and pair shorts from it!
  • I mailed a record number of Christmas cards.  It seemed like a good year for this!
  • I did the 12 days of letter writing project, which was fun but also a sad reminder that I don't handwrite anything anymore; my handwriting muscles are out of shape!
  • We did a lot of drive-by Christmas lights and a drive-through live nativity, which it also seemed like a good year for!
  • I took a couple of days off work in order to have 5-days off in a row for "Christmas vacation."  We did a short visit to my parents, and a few days at my in-law's.
We decorated our lemon tree
It works!
Cats' stockings
Albani's virtual Christmas concert 
(that's a bagged clarinet)
Christmas Eve with my parents
Because everyone needs socks
with their cats' faces on them!
My teen
Chiefs fans
Ibbetson cousins
  • Restart by Gordon Korman
  • Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
  • Anxious People by Fredrick Backman
  • The Testaments (The Handmaid's Tale #2) by Margaret Atwood
  • Night Road by Kristin Hannah
  • Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
  • All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Theme for the month:
Celebrating Jesus's birth.


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Seems I just can't get in synch with the Sara reading list lately. I love how positive you've stayed in 2020.

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On 1/1/2021 at 8:49 AM, Dave said:

Seems I just can't get in synch with the Sara reading list lately. I love how positive you've stayed in 2020.

I'm glad I seem positive.  😉

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On 1/4/2021 at 10:45 AM, Keep Running Girl said:

Omg! I love your Christmas sweater!!


Haha, I'm a big fan of ugly Christmas sweaters!

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