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The Loop

Jesus is the reason for the season: December recap



December 2019 in Review

Total mileage for the month: 400.2 - my first time ever running a 400 mile month!

  • Dec. 2-8:  88.5 (hit 100 on the rolling 7 from Dec. 5-11)
  • Dec. 9-15:  92.6 (hit 100.8 on the rolling 7 from Dec. 7-13)
  • Dec. 16-22:  88.6 (with one scheduled day off)
  • Dec. 23-29:  91.7
  • Dec. 30-Jan. 5: projected at 80



Family love

None  Races:


Belated race photo from mile 1 of the White River Half Marathon


Mile 13 of the White River Half Marathon


  • Dec. 3:  4 x 1 mile with 1:00 recoveries, with the first 3 at MP and last at HMP.  I believe this is called The Taper Workout Everyone Runs Too Fast, which I held true to, clocking 6:06, 6:09, 6:04, 5:54.  After a struggle workout on Nov. 30, it was wonderful to have one where I had to hold back.
  • Dec. 6:  8 miles with an unstructured fartlek in the final 2 miles (8 x about 2 telephone poles on/2 off).  I didn't time or structure anything about this, but just felt like breathing hard in the cold air (I had 5 days without a training schedule, due to not running CIM as planned).
  • Dec. 10:  8 x 0.5 with 2:00 jog recoveries in 2:53, 2:54, 2:54, 2:55, 2:51, 2:51, 2:53, 2:50 - 2:52 average (3.1 warm up, 2.2 cool down).  My goal was to start at tempo pace and work down to 5K pace, so I was trying to do something like 5:59, 5:56, 5:53, 5:50, 5:47, 5:44, 5:40, 5:35 pace-wise, but I got out a little quick and couldn't get down into the 5:30s (these two this are probably related...). But considering my state of exhaustion and that I'd just returned home from a week at my parent's house the evening before this workout, I considered it a success. 
  • Dec. 12:  8 x 15 sec. hill sprints towards the end of an 8 mile run.  Strava had my grade adjusted paces at 5:36, 5:33, 4:57, 5:18, 4:26, 4:35, 4:46, 4:49.  This is kind of like doing strides at the end of a run (a light stimulus), but hills get my heart pumping like crazy!
  • Dec. 18:  3 x 1 mile at 5K effort with 2:00 recoveries + 9 x 30" on/60" off (3.1 warm up, 3 cool down).  I was hoping to keep the 5K pace miles in the 5:30s, but I had to fight to keep them in the 5:40s with 5:44, 5:47, 5:48.  I have a very hard time hitting 5:30s solo, so this wasn't a huge surprise, but a girl can dream!  It being "feels like" 18 degrees also didn't help my leg turnover; speed work is always harder for me once it's under 20-25 degrees.  My 30" pushes ranged from 5:09-5:49, mostly around 5:30 - grade adjusted paces were 5:02-5:34, so the 5:49 was mostly uphill.  I was supposed to run a different workout on the track on Dec. 17 (the one that ended up happening Dec. 31), but an ice storm changed that plan.  I had to run on the treadmill on Dec. 17, and I try to not run treadmill workouts if I can avoid it.  On Dec. 18 the roads that had been salted and driven on were mostly melted, but the track was still a sheet of ice so I was able to run outside but my coach switched the workout.  I am improving on being flexible with winter training in situations like this, but I never love last-minute training plan changes.
  • Dec. 24:  6 x 1 mile tempos with 1:00 recoveries in 6:03, 6:10, 6:16, 6:16, 6:19, 6:02 (3 warm up, 2 cool down).  I was at my parents' house for Christmas; they live out in the country, and I have many running routes from their house but they are on all dirt roads that aren't fast for workouts, so I asked some friends for advice on where to run this workout and scoped out a loop in town on wide sidewalks and a paved trail on my Dec. 23 easy run.  It was a great route, just not for the direction the wind was coming from on Christmas Eve!  I had a tailwind on my warm up so didn't realize it, but then 0.5 into the workout I turned into the wind and reps 2-5 were all into it (rep 6 was into it for 0.5).  I did not hit my goal pace range of 5:55-6:05 on most of the reps, but I'm going to estimate that wind-graded I did, hah.  I also had some flashbacks to windy Indy...wind is sure a time suck!
  • Dec. 28:  22.5 miles with 3 easy, 2 x 2 at tempo with 2:00 recovery in 5:59, 5:57/6:01, 5:54, 9 easy, 3 progressive tempo in 6:12, 6:06, 5:55, 3 easy.  This workout was intimidating!  I did a similar workout that was a bit shorter in May (3 warm up, 2 x 1.5 mile tempo in 5:58, 2:59/6:00, 3:02 with 2:00 recovery, 8 miles easy, 2.5 mile tempo in 5:59, 6:00, 2:57, 3.5 cool down), so I knew I had it in me, but my runs on Dec. 14 and 24 hadn't been great so I was worried about the end of the workout particularly.  It certainly wasn't easy, but I did it - and that final 5:55 sure burned!  The really weird thing was that I felt better on my 3+ mile cool down than I did on the easy 9 in the middle, and those cool down miles were faster then the other 9 easy.  It was almost 60 degrees, which was amazing for the early morning at the end of December, but that also meant there was a powerful south wind (17-20 mph), which didn't do me any favors.  I think we all know by now that I'm not a fan of the wind, but I will probably keep noting when it's a factor on workout days and races...
  • Dec. 31:  3 x 1000 m, 2 x 800 m, 2 x 600 m, 2 x 400 m, all with 2:00 recoveries (3.1 warm up, 2.3 cool down).  This workout was meh.  It was cold and windy and my legs didn't want to go fast.  Splits were 3:46, 3:41, 3:44, 2:57, 2:58, 2:11, 2:10, 1:23, 1:23, all slower than goal times but faster than half marathon pace at least!  Rebecca was kind enough to run this New Years Eve workout at 5:30 a.m. with me even though she had the day off work, which helped tremendously.
  • Doubles: Dec. 5, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 16, 17, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 30, 31.
  • Strides:  Dec. 27, and at least a few before all workouts and races.
  • Strength work:  Weekly totals of 1:16, 1:50, 1:43, 2:01
  • Yoga:  Weekly totals of 2:05, 1:20, 1:20, 1:40
  • Favorite workout:  Dec. 28 - that final 3 mile tempo will yield gains for sure.


After 13.9 Miles for Mark on Dec. 5


Beautiful sunrise after some hill sprints


I am in sync with my training buddies


Treadmill miles are do-able with friends

Long Runs:

  • Dec. 1:  12 miles easy (7:40) for what I expected to be my final little "long" run before CIM, and deja vu to 4 weeks prior (my final "long" run before Indy).  It was ridiculously windy for this run, and lucky for me Abby was also running 12 miles before her second of two fall marathons, so we tackled it together (Casey and Jack joined for the first 7).  Nothing fancy, but completely enjoyable miles.
  • Dec. 7:  24 miles (8:08), because my brother's favorite Bible passages were Psalms 24 and 139 (I did 13.9 miles for him on Dec. 5).  My dear friend Michele traveled from a couple of hours away for my brother's funeral on Dec. 6, then stayed the night and ran 18 miles of this run with me.  My friend April ran 10 miles of it with me (she did all 13.9 with me a couple of days before).  Since I usually run long runs faster than this, this was the longest duration I've run in years (3:15).  It was perfect.
  • Dec. 14:  21.2 miles (7:23) with 3 progressive fast finish in 6:38, 6:36, 6:26.  I was supposed to run the fast finish miles in 6:40, 6:20, 6:00, but I couldn't get my legs to turn over any faster.  It was odd because I felt like I could run all day and my super easy cool down mile (to get back to my car after finishing 20 miles) was 7:19 uphill.  My husband pointed out that my inability to hit the paces might have been due to running 122 miles in 8 days... (149 in 10 days). We had a great group for this run, and I had company for all of the miles except the fast finish that no one wanted to do with me, hah.
  • Dec. 21:  22.22 miles easy (7:48): 11 with heart rate under 130, 11 with heart rate under 140.  My wrist-based heart rate is hit or miss in cold temperatures, and on this run it was miss so I kept it "very easy" for the first half and "really easy" for the second half.  I ran to meet Rebecca, ran 15 miles with her, then ran home, only needing to add about a half mile on the way home to hit 22.22 (of course the .22 was on purpose).  I think I'm getting crazier, because 20+ at an easy pace just seems like any other easy run at this point/  As always, Rebecca was great company and conversation with her helped the miles fly by.  The morning low was only 36 degrees and there was no wind: perfect December running weather!
  • Dec. 28:  22.5 miles (7:07 for the whole shebang) with a workout, described above.
  • Favorite long run:  Dec. 7 was the most meaningful, not to mention the longest.


This is our blowing away in the wind pose


Ready for 26.2 x 2 - Bass Pro + St. Jude for Abby!

Running highlights/thoughts/randomness:

  • Three weeks before the race, on Dec. 29 I decided to run Houston on Jan. 19.  It seems ridiculous to care about marathon times and the implications of any race after the month I had, but at the same time it seems silly not to try given that I am healthy and trained.  My brother was very supportive of my OTQ-chasing, so I ought to try for him! 
  • I hit 100 miles on my rolling 7 for Dec. 5-11, and 100.8 miles on my rolling 7 for Dec. 7-Dec. 13!  The first stretch I didn't discover until I pulled up my Strava daily totals to write a post about the second stretch, and the second was also a happy accident due to moving a double on account of impending winter weather.
  • I was third on the mileage leader board for this podcast this week, even though I was tapering and thought 68 was "low" (oh, the irony that I used to max at 50).  I was the mileage leader this week (1:30 in) with 88, and the podcast didn't have episodes for the other weeks of this month.  Some day I will run 100 in a Monday through Sunday week!
  •  I was looking up the date for the 2020 Bill Snyder Half Marathon, and found myself on the home page (scroll down to the still video), and several times in the video.  It's worth watching without my appearance though!
  • This article about a man striving for his OTQ is very well-done and says so much that I relate to.
  • I had to run indoors due to ice twice this month, on Dec. 16 for my second run (4 miles, which is 30 laps on the YMCA indoor track) and Dec. 17 for my morning run (10.5 miles on my dear friend Amy's treadmill).  I also had a Dec. 23 double in almost 70 degrees!


Fact: the only times I have purchased "extras" at races is for

my five 2:4X marathons


Creepy house run-by


Christmas lights run!

 Life stuff: 

  • My brother's unexpected death hung over my family, making this month very heavy.  
    • With the timing of the accident, I did not run the California International Marathon as planned.  Initially I felt terrible for wishing I'd have run the marathon, but then I realized that actually I absolutely wish I'd have run that marathon, because that would mean Mark was still here.
    • I trust God had better plans than any of us here on earth, but there are also many of His plans we will never understand while we are on earth.
  • We spent 3 days at my parent's and a day at my in-laws for Christmas.  It was hard to narrow down the photos to include, but we were very blessed with the family time.


Close friends carbo-loading


6th grade fall photo


We love our tree we cut ourselves & decorated

with mostly ornaments that Albani made


We are Skip-Bo fans!




Major Christmas


We have the same hair


Isn't my niece adorable?


Fulton Farms in Towanda, KS


Stockings at our house


  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood 
  • How to Fall in Love with Anyone by Mandy Len Catron
  • Even If I Fall by Abigail Johnson
  • Right Beside You by Mary Monroe
  • French Twist by James Patterson
  • All the Dirty Parts by Daniel Handler
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  • The Grip of It by Jac Jemc
  • The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth 
  • Mercy Me by Margaret A. Graham 
  • The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames
  • Does This Beach Make Me Look Fat? by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella

Themes of the month:

The world changed, but my faith didn't.

  • Like 3


Recommended Comments

Sending you speedy vibes for Houston!

And just curious, what do you consider your max HR? I can't imagine running with HR lower than 130! (I'd be walking) 

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So sorry about your brother. 

Those tempo/1 minute recovery workouts look interesting. I also like the 2 x 2 and then 3 tempos in that 22 miler. I get so anxious on my long run because it’s ...long... that it might give me something else to focus on.

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Oh Sara - I am so sorry to learn about your brother. Wishing you and your family peace and strength. I hope running helps ease the grief. 

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22 hours ago, DrWhiskers said:

Sending you speedy vibes for Houston!

And just curious, what do you consider your max HR? I can't imagine running with HR lower than 130! (I'd be walking) 

I really don't know on my max HR - I just do what my coach says!  HR 130 for me is generally around marathon pace + 2 minutes, so it is a very easy pace.

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13 hours ago, ocrunnergirl said:

So sorry about your brother. 

Those tempo/1 minute recovery workouts look interesting. I also like the 2 x 2 and then 3 tempos in that 22 miler. I get so anxious on my long run because it’s ...long... that it might give me something else to focus on.

Thank you. 

I LOVE workouts in long runs!  It really does break them up.  Sometimes I feel like a 20+ miler with a workout is easier than a 20+ miler easy pace because of that.  Definitely try it!

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10 hours ago, CompulsiveRunner said:

Oh Sara - I am so sorry to learn about your brother. Wishing you and your family peace and strength. I hope running helps ease the grief. 

Thank you.  Running has helped.

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On 1/2/2020 at 9:09 AM, Dave said:

Houston is a great course to run fast if the weather's good. Best of luck.

Hoping that race day does NOT hold 70 degrees and 100% humidity.

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