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December 2017 in Review: I ran the best of times, I ran the worst of times



December 2017 in review!
The title refers to my marathon PR on December 3 followed by the slowest mile I ran all year on December 4.  :-)

Total mileage for the month:  255 --- in comparison:  January - 261, February - 212, March - 203, April - 219, May - 249, June - 205, July - 275, August - 301, September - 271, October - 323, November - 267...that makes 3043 for 2017!)

  • Nov. 27-Dec. 3:  53.6 - 26.2 of this being CIM!
  • Dec.  4-10:  28.6 - recovery week
  • Dec. 11-17:  58.3 - yes, I wanted to go back out for 1.7
  • Dec. 18-24:  70.9 - peak mileage week for Houston
  • Dec. 25-31:  65 - how convenient that 2017 ended at the end of a training week


Ibbetson Christmas card


  • Dec. 3:  California International Marathon in a new PR of 2:47:14.  I wrote 8 posts about this race (the post linked contains links to the 7 others), so I'm not sure I can add much here, but I'm both beyond thankful and hungry for more.
  • Dec. 16:  Ugly Sweater "5K".  I don't have anything to add about this one either, for different reasons!


I loved racing in Christmas attire, though

(Christmas compression socks were also involved)


  • Dec. 13:  2 progressive fast finish miles on the tail end of a 9 miler, to ease back into some faster running.  I was supposed to drop 10-15 seconds/mile, something like 6:45, 6:30, but I ended up doing 6:36, 6:16.  It felt nice to reintroduce some faster running, and clearly I wasn't 100% recovered 1.5 weeks after the marathon, but recovery seemed to be going smoothly.  The last mile did make me question how I ever ran 26.2 miles at an average pace of only 6 seconds slower than that one, though.
  • Dec. 16:  16.1 miles with 5 x 1:00 pick-ups to marathon goal pace at the beginning of miles 8-12, again, just to ease back into some faster running.  I had a hard time finding 6:17 pace, and these were:  5:55, 6:11, 6:03, 6:02, 6:15.  I hit the sweet spot on pace at the end (the second one appears close but it was uphill), but otherwise I kept going either too slow and then overcompensating, or too fast throughout.
  • Dec. 20:  Flipping fartlek (2.9 warm-up, 6' on, 1' off, 5' on, 2' off, 4' on, 3' off, 3' on, 4' off, 2' on, 5' off, 1' on, 2.5 cool-down for 11 miles total).  When discussing this workout with others who've done it, we always call it the flippin' fartlek and laugh.  It can be a beast, but my chief complaint about it is that the way the pushes and recoveries are inverse makes you run positive mile splits.  My push paces were 5:54, 5:52, 5:41, 5;42, 5:43, 5:41, which I was pleased with (my average pace for all 5.61 miles I covered during the workout was 6:25, with 21:00 total hard and 15:00 total recoveries).  The 6:00 hard/1:00 recovery/5:00 hard sequence is in theory the hardest, but I also like that part a lot because it's almost like a 2 mile repeat!
  • Dec. 23:  18.1 miles with a 5 mile progression (6:42 for all 18.1; progression miles of 6:37, 6:32, 6:37, 6:17, 6:08).  I ended up running a bit different than this workout was written, because I joined a men's group in Wichita while visiting my parents for Christmas.  They were generous enough to oblige on the progression, but it was done on the fly once I realized that we were putting down 6:30s mid-run (they also stopped at 14 miles, so I'm glad we ran it how we did).  I was supposed to do 12 miles steady (7:00ish), then a 5 mile progression of 6:50, 6:40, 6:30, 6:20, 6:10, but ended up doing miles 1-8 steady (between 6:41-6:57, except mile 1 was 7:22), then miles 9-13 progression, then miles 14-18 steady (between 6:35-6:49).  This long run as a whole was the fastest 18 I've ever done in training, so yay (and only twice have I run faster 18's in races, in my 2:47 and 2:49 marathons).  It was also the flattest long run I've done, which was perfect because Houston is pancake flat.
  • Dec. 25:  Short 90"/90" fartlek (2 warm-up, 2 fartlek, 1 cool-down, 1 with 6 x strides).  My coach gave me a little workout for Christmas!  My push paces were 6:08, 5:59, 5:44, 5:44, 5:46.  It took me two of them to fully warm up since it was 20*.  I felt a bit off on this workout due to holiday travel, holiday eating, and sleep deprivation, but it was nice to get in a little run before Christmas morning got too crazy.
  • Dec. 27:  8 x 0.25 hill repeats (3ish warm-up and 3ish cool-down to 10 miles total).  I set a personal record by completing my first ever double digit run in sub-zero conditions (feels like -3*)...this is a PR I wouldn't mind going the rest of my life without improving!  This workout was pretty much a struggle, mentally and physically, the entire way, but I got it done.  My hill repeat splits were the slowest I've ever run on this hill (grade adjusted paces were 6:01-6:28, whereas I usually keep them 5:30-5:45), but I had on about 10 lbs of clothing in addition to the 10 lbs I feel like I gained over Christmas, and I just couldn't move in the conditions (the upside is that I was warm enough the whole time, though!).  I remembered why I take speed work to the treadmill when it gets this cold out.  Although my performance sucked, I was proud of myself for simply doing this one at all -- I am pretty sure normal people would have stayed in bed this morning.  This run also put me over 3,000 miles for 2017.
  • Doubles on Dec. 19 and 21.
  • Strides on Dec. 1, 2, 11, 14, 18, 21, and 25.
  • Bootcamp or full body strength workouts on Dec. 11, 18, and 25 (yes, I managed it on Christmas, albeit a shorter one) -- plus enough additional strength work to get to at least 90 minutes total per week starting back the week of Dec. 11.  During the final 2 weeks of the month I ended up doing 120 min.+ per week because I was focusing on strengthening my weaker glute with daily exercises. Our Dec. 18 bootcamp did a 12 days of Christmas workout, going through the following repeatedly just like the song, and it was one of my favorite bootcamps ever:  1 burpee, 2 walk-outs, 3 push-ups, 4 single-leg dead lifts (on each leg), 5 squats with overhead press, 6 mountain climbers (counting 1 leg only, so really 12), 7 renegade rows (on each arm), 8 lunges (on each leg), 9 single leg balances (dead lifts without weights, on each leg), 10 forward/backwards runs, 11 jumping jacks, 12 consecutive 5 second wall-sits (which was just a 60 second wall-sit, but had to be made into 12 somehow).
  • Favorite workout: The progression run within the 18 miler on Dec. 23 is the clear winner!  The hill repeats on Dec. 27 is the clear last place!

Long Runs:

  • Dec. 16:  16.1 miles including 5 x 1:00 pick-ups to marathon goal pace, described above.
  • Dec. 23:  18.1 miles with 1-8 relaxed, 9-13 progression, 14-18 relaxed, also described above.
  • Dec. 30:  21.1 miles (6:42).  With the race director's permission, I ran the first 21 miles of a small local marathon with a friend who was gunning for his first sub-3:00 (he did it with a 2:58:04!).  This was my fastest 20+ ever in training, and also a cold weather PR because it was feels like 6*.  I have never done a long run when it was quite that cold!  I was so thankful to have someone to run this with, because it's tricky to get out for that many miles in that cold of weather.  I felt good overall but I was sure happy to stop at 21.  It was one of those days where I thought, "Well, on one hand that was super solid, but on the other hand how will I ever run 5 more miles all at 25 sec/mile faster??!"  One thing is for certain:  I don't plan to try for that at 6*!
  • Favorite long run: I was really happy with both the 18 and 21, but I'll go with the 18 because I felt better at the end!


  • I'll be a nuunbassador again in 2018!



Non-running life events:

  • We vacationed in San Francisco during our trip to California after CIM.  Highlights included Fisherman's Wharf, Muir Woods, the Golden Gate Bridge, Piers 31-39, Lands End Look-Out, Twin Peaks Look-Out, and Alcatraz.  I have never walked to much post-marathon!
  • Christmas, of course.
  • We hosted family in the 2 days after Christmas, for a few Springfield/Branson adventures.  This was a challenge for me because I went back to work on Dec. 27 -- probably a challenge for my husband for the same reason, but it was his idea and his family, haha!  This is probably also related to my crap run before work on Dec. 27.
  •  It was hard to narrow down photos to include below!


Looking out from Pier 39 to Alcatraz


On the beach with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge


Muir Woods


Twin Peaks Look Out




More gifts than tree at my parents'


Major family Christmas


For our 2018 Christmas card!


Some were more excited about the hats than others


Jon tired of photos before we did


Grandma love




Cousin love


Ibbetson Christmas


More cousin love


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Recommended Comments

Well, your December beat mine by a long shot. I'm so amazed at the variety of your workouts. Your coach has quite the imagination.

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So, with all that going on, when did you sleep?? 

Alcatraz is on my all time "I thought this was going to be cheesy but ended up being awesome" list, looks like a great trip!

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On 1/2/2018 at 11:18 AM, Gonzo Runner said:

So, with all that going on, when did you sleep?? 

Alcatraz is on my all time "I thought this was going to be cheesy but ended up being awesome" list, looks like a great trip!

I did not sleep enough, that's for sure!  Haha!

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