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About Me

Found 8 results

  1. TreeGirl

    1st 5K in Forever

    I'll give you my first race recap in forever and then I'll try to say why I've been so absent. If you remember me, you know I'm one for brevity but this one may stretch just a bit. A colleague and friend has been working on getting his fitness back and we do virtual check-ins with FB messages a few mornings a week to report on running and mental health status. A local 5K I've been wanting to do was a "go" for this year and was held last Saturday. it's called the Higgins Lake Sunrise Run and is always around the time of the summer solstice. They run the 5K through the state park and campground and the smell of bacon from so many campsites at 9 am is both incredible and torturous! I promised to run the whole way with him and be his pacer to get him under his goal of 40 minutes and we did! 37:19 across the finish line for him and like a good pacer, I let him through on his own and held back a few steps. He was incredibly grateful. We took a much-needed swim in the lake after the awards were over and it was the perfect cap on a great morning with the running community. A few weeks ago I ran my own 5K time trial on a very, very flat bike path near my house and did it under 30 minutes and was thrilled with myself so I know what I'm capable of and the Sunrise 5K was all about helping a friend get their confidence back. I may run it next year and see if I can place in my AG. My next event is as a volunteer at another local 5K for a festival in mid-July and then I'm registered for a 50K trail race in south-central Tennessee in mid-October with my trail partner, Joy. Going to be a blast of a lady's adventure weekend for us! On to the "why I haven't been around much" topic: My mental health took a nasty nosedive after teetering on a cliff for years and years. I started seeing a therapist and that helped me open my eyes to things I didn't know weren't part of everyone's lives. I never knew what I dealt with was debilitating anxiety, massive mental stress, and deep depression. With the help of my health insurance provider and a great person on the other end, I was connected to a therapist and continued with remote visits during the pandemic. Early this year I "graduated" from regular therapy visits and now only set an appointment when I can't pick an issue apart on my own. I have an incredible nurse practitioner as my primary care physician, and she agreed to try me on Prozac under my suggestion and approval of the therapist. I never knew life could be like this. Relaxed, happy, no short-temper, calm, focused. I had my recheck with my NP on Tuesday and I'm down 32 lbs in 2 years and I may be on some level of anti-depressant for quite a while or forever. I take care of myself; I get solid nutrition, I rest when I need to, I run, I paddle board, I x-c ski all winter, etc. Where am I now? I love my life. I'm so grateful for what I have and what may lie ahead. I'm forever grateful for this group. I have amazing friends just because of the Loop. The end of July I'm set to take off on a covid tested flight via Delta airlines to stay 9 days with "Moose" and "Countess FiFi (Davide and Fiona) in northern Italy. They're going to hike one part of the Dolomites with me and I get to see Davide speak at a race and run it, too! They're helping to have a much-needed mental health break from my husband Chris's chronic spinal arthritis issues and constant medical needs. I've learned a lot the past 2 years and I'm grabbing on every adventure that comes my way (as long as I can afford it!). Be ready for some incredible race pictures from Italy in late July and early August!
  2. eliz83

    2019 Review: I am MORE

    Races: 7 (1 half marathon, 1 10K, 5 5Ks) Total miles: 458.7 Number of PRs: 3 (1 half marathon, 2 5k) Time seems to pass slowly and quickly at the same time! I think about all the writing I want to do, and in the blink of an eye, a month has passed and I've written no words - not on here, not in my journals, no where. But, as the husband and I have an unusually quiet evening, I figure it's a good opportunity to truly reflect on 2019. I'm not going to lie, sometimes it's easy to forget that 2019 overall was a pretty damn good year, and even the last part of the year came with a 5K PR. When I think about what I have discovered about myself - personally, professionally, and athletically - all I can conclude is that 2019 taught me that I am more. I am more than I thought I was capable of. I am more than a busy worker bee in the background. I am the future of public health. I am more than a middle of the pack runner. I am a competitor and my greatest competition is myself. I am more than a 10-minute miler. I can go faster, if I am brave enough to. I am more than a runner. I am a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter, and a mother. January, February and part of March was as it always is in Kansas City. Cold, dark, and my least favorite environment to run in. In the depths of that awfulness, I found a radiating light - or rather a reason to enjoy treadmill runs - in the Peloton app. Taking Peloton's so-called 'Tread' classes with delightful instructors such as Becs Gentry, Olivia Amato, Matt Wilpers, and Jess Sims made miles tick by with a mental ease I hadn't felt in a long time. I got faster because they challenged me to be faster, and I rose to it. When spring arrived in Kansas City, I took their guided outdoor runs with me many times, because it's so much easier to do a tempo workout when you've got a friend encouraging you. April and May were complete chaos - getting married always brings a joyful and stressful disruption of life. I cried tears of stress, tears of joy, and tears of "it's okay, I just need to cry right now". I received a national honor for work, and managed a 7-minute PR in the half marathon on a tough, hilly course. Then I went and laid by a resort pool for a week. June, July, and August were just as fun. I took to running early in the morning and adjusting my work schedule so "early" was 6:30 and I didn't have to go to bed before the sun went down. I raced - yes, raced! - three 5Ks in three weeks, managing a PR at one of them. I logged miles purely for the joy of it. I joined a local running group for their Tuesday night speed sessions, and found new depths of speed and strength I didn't know I had. I ran by feel, forgot about the clock, and found I was faster than I thought I was. I started training for a marathon, not having a goal other than to finish and have fun. Okay, maybe I did have a goal in mind, but wasn't going to commit to it until I was more sure of my training. September came with some adjustments. I found I was tired, run down, and just a bit 'off' at the beginning of the month, which was all explained when I had four positive pregnancy tests. I made adjustments to the training plan, tweaked my diet, and continued training. Then the nightmare of October came, c-r-a-w-l-e-d by and left me devastated, hollow, and unsure of how to move forward. I felt stuck most of November, but signed up for a Thanksgiving Day 5K in the hopes that I would find something if I got out there and ran. I never wrote an RR for that race, but somewhere in the second mile I realized two things: first, mile 2 of a 5K is the loneliest mile and second, I need to do more core work if I really want to race well. I felt like I had nothing for December, but I signed up for a 5K last minute anyway because the race swag was a hoodie that said "Running with my Snowmies" with little runner snowmen on it. It's pretty rad, too. Just the right amount of weight and softness. In this 5K, I reaffirmed how lonely mile 2 is and how I really do need to do more core work. It was cold and dark at that race, so I started my watch and never looked at it again. I just ran hard. When it started to hurt, I tried to run harder. I crossed the finish line with no expectations, so was pleasantly surprised when I finished with another PR and a top 10 finish in my age group. I finished out the month with miles for Sara's brother Mark whenever it was nice, and tried to be thankful for everything in my life. It was a crazy year, and I learned so much. I made strides in my running, and began to find the types of training that allows me to thrive. I had life-changing moments and one that fundamentally changed who I am forever. I'm not sure what 2020 will bring. I've got some running plans, I've got some life plans, and I've got some career plans. But my goals for the year are focused on my whole-person health - mental, physical, and spiritual. There are no numbers tied to those goals, but I hope that the pursuit of them will allow me to become my best self. And if I can knock out three PRs again, well, that will be just fine, too.
  3. eliz83

    Confronting the fear

    Hi. My name is Eliz and I'm afraid to go fast. I'm your typical Goldilocks character. I like to challenge myself (I go on adventures through the woods and have no problem staying with strangers that I have never met before), but I also like to be comfortable. In my ideal world, the temperature would always be 72 degrees, except when I'm running outside, then it would be about 68 degrees. The perfect shoe has a wide toe and about 1/4 inch of room from where my longest toe ends and the front of the shoe. Dress shoes would look like stilettoes but feel like running shoes. My pillows would always be fluffed just right. MJ would never raise her voice again. I would never burn my tongue when taking a big gulp of coffee. I want to go fast. I want to be faster, mostly for time's sake. I dream of the day where my easy runs are at least 10 minute miles. But I'm afraid. I'm afraid of pain, I'm afraid that I won't be able to tell searing-giving-your-all 5K pain from legitimate, you should stop running cuz your hip is falling off pain. Perhaps that's the Goldilocks in me, perhaps I have a little paranoia from all those years I ran with an injury that no amount of rest would completely heal, perhaps I just have a really unrealistic expectation of pain. In any case, I've realized the past few years that I am simply afraid to go fast, and it's been hindering my development as a runner. That's where that Peloton app has been pretty helpful. The coaches (that's what I like to call them, I think their job title is 'instructor') have set paces they tell you to go, which naturally are based on normal ranges for runners. So, on a treadmill, a 4.5 is a power walk, 5.0 is a light jog, 6.0 is a light run, etc. As a good student, I like to do exactly what the coach is asking of me, so I end up going a lot faster than I would normally go. Most of the time, it works and I amaze myself at how well I'm doing and how fast I'm going! There was one run where I got under 9 mm pace (for just a little bit, not average), which normally would seem untouchable to me at the end of a workout. There are other times where I have to remind myself to be humble. It's exciting. I haven't tested the speed outside - too much snow, or melting snow turned ice or too cold of weather. I am looking forward to see how things work out, though, and I'm really looking forward to that 5K in April. My only hope: that I can be brave enough to go fast and smash that previous PR. Gratuitous engagement photo (by the great Morgan Miller Photography)
  4. eliz83

    Three weeks out

    On the last check-in, I had just finished a streak of post-surgery mileage PRs, which meant I had a cutback week coming up. And the timing was perfect for that, because I was freaking tired. Basically all my runs during cutback week were for time and not mileage, because, again, TIRED. I finally perked up when I met the BF for lunch at his favorite Korean place and I got beef. Ahhhhh. Red meat. Iron. <---- probs why I was so tired. That Saturday was the annual Corporate Challenge 5K. Some of you are familiar with corporate challenges, no? It's a spring/summer event put on by some organization (here one of the county parks & rec departments) and all the businesses compete against each other for team points. I'm still not sure what the winner in each division wins - besides bragging rights - but with my employer, you can get an extra vacation day if you participate enough, so I signed up for 1 event and 2 spirit team events (hold signs and yell loudly) in order to get my free day. My 1 event was the 5K. Going into Saturday morning, I knew I wasn't in 5K PR shape, but I figured I might as well test my fitness. This course is a monster. It's not rolling hills (my favorite), but rather a quarter mile slight downhill start, followed by a gradual 1.5 mile uphill, which is the worst. The. Worst. Total mind f*ck. Then you get one rolling downhill, followed by the rolling uphill before a mile gradual downhill "coast" to the finish. I don't know why everyone thinks running downhill for a mile is easy. It's not! Anyway, I found myself being passed by everyone and their co-worker for most of the race, because the start was a cluster and I just went in where I could. I think I started with the 24-minute 5K'ers. One day I'll be with them ... just not yet. Splits: 10:06, 10:11, 8:55, total time 31:08 Polly had that I went 3.22 miles, but I basically ran the opposite of the tangents because of the crowd, so that's not surprising. That last mile, though? I am so impressed with myself and simultaneously annoyed that I had that much left in the tank. I basically ran that last mile with a guy with a neon yellow t-shirt - sometimes he would slip ahead of me, sometimes I would slip ahead of him, but it was one of those carrots that you refuse to let get out of your reach. By the end, it was rough, but I think I'm finally learning to embrace the pain of a 5K. Should be an exciting fall if I choose to focus on that distance. Pulling just ahead of neon t-shirt guy. At the time, I thought maybe I had gotten a PR. No dice. If any week was going to really get messed up, it was bound to be this last week. I was traveling for work, getting back late Friday night and then heading to my parents' house to surprise my momma for Mother's Day. I was determined to get everything in though - and I did! All I had to do was move my runs up one day and skip my traditional Monday spin session. So Tuesday morning, I got in my 3 miler before I headed to the airport, did core work in my hotel room that night. Wednesday morning, I found a nice 5 mile route already mapped near my hotel ... got lost and ended up with nearly 6 (oops!) and got in another 5K Thursday morning with a colleague, after a quick strength/core session. Then, Friday morning, I found myself with enough time to do a yin yoga session before my flight home. Determined as ever, I got up early Saturday morning and did 10 miles solo. That 10 miler? Yeah. I HAVE to tell you about it. It was early. I was still travel-hungover from the night before. But I got up. Got my running clothes on. The threat of sprinkles was a tempting excuse to crawl back into bed and say, "meh". Actually, it wasn't that tempting. I just thought it would add to the drama. Water. Nuun. Cheerios. Extra long podcast. Visor. Sunscreen. And everyone thinks running is a "simple" sport. Also, yes, I'm high maintenance when it comes to long runs. At the very least, medium maintenance. Drive to favorite 4.22 mile loop spot. Check Instagram. Check Twitter. Realize there is no more stalling. Get out of car. Warm up. Fire up my favorite SURVIVOR podcast. Take off trotting. Think about SURVIVOR strategy. Feel a strong desire to watch the original Blood vs. Water season. Remember too late I was trying to figure out where the .8 mark was just in case the watch ran out of juice (which appeared to be dangerously low). Look at watch at 1.08 miles. Oops. Waking up a little bit now. It's humid. Sweat is dripping everywhere. Feel that gross trickle between my boobs (ladies, you know what I mean). Wipe sweat from my eyebrows. Realize there is a 5k/10K race starting at 9. Thankful I managed to start running around 7:20 - I'll miss nearly all, if not completely all, of the foot traffic. Finish the first lap. Desperately want to ditch my tank top and join the sports bra club, but don't, for reasons I can't even remember anymore. Drink a bunch of Nuun. I think I ate some Cheerios. <-- Seriously. Great fuel. Press on. Not really paying attention to my splits. Paying probably too much attention to SURVIVOR strategy. The podcast guest proposes a strategy of just winning everything, cuz then you can't get voted out and who can argue with the fact that you actually WON EVERYTHING? Consider this to be my strategy for when CBS inevitably casts me to see me become an emotional mess. Won't they be surprised when they write that million dollar check out to me? It starts sprinkling around 5.5 miles. It's cool, refreshing and I wish it was just a tiny bit more steady. My wish comes in full force two miles later, when it becomes a full on rain. Whatever. I feel good, I feel faster than when I started, but now my tank is just drenched and clinging to my body. Yuck. 8.4 miles. I stop quickly at the car to ditch the phone and headphones so they don't get too wet. The race has started, but I'm running in the opposite direction of the runners. Get a surprised look from a course monitor when I don't get in my car, but shut the door and keep running. The rain lets up half a mile later and I'm trying to do runner math to make sure I turn around at the right spot. I'm coming back and I realize I'm on the same path that the runners make, either for the final part of the 5K or to start the second loop of the 10K. A course monitor who is probably in junior high or high school looks worried when she sees me, but I give her a look that says "don't worry, i'm not that fast" and she thinks I'm a wierdo. Desperately want to be done now. Mile 10 beeps and I'm like, thank goodness. Another #psmPR Hobble to my car, stretch and head to get coffee. It's only then that I look at my cumulative time. 1:57:50. My last 10 mile on record was 2:11:52. My PR is 1:50:57. Had this been a race, who knows what I could have done. Which makes me think I might have a chance at taking down that EIGHT YEAR OLD half marathon PR. Yes, yes, I think I just might .... Do you listen to podcasts when you run? What would your SURVIVOR strategy be? Have you ever done a training run while a race was going on? Drag files here to attach, or choose files... Insert other media Feature Photo Choose Single File... Or drag and drop your file here Accepted file types gif, jpeg, jpe, jpg, png
  5. We run tempos and 400m intervals and runs of 8+ miles, we are running 20 or more miles a week together, we’ve had great runs and crappy runs, we’ve run in rain, snow, wind and sleet. But the moment I knew with firm certainty that Clark, my new running buddy and protege running his very first race, was a RUNNER for real and for always was when he announced at Mile 4: “Boy, I sure am glad I was able to poop this morning!” So am I, dude. SO AM I. The New Runner Guy Clark (for the backstory on him see my two previous bloops) and I have been planning and training for this race for a couple of months. I mixed training with him along with my own marathon training, and it resulted in both getting him ready and helping me stay motivated and add mileage. Clark crashed on our couch the night before, since he lives about 20 minutes in the opposite direction of the race. While sitting around the evening before, DH kept reminiscing about a few of his racing glory days, but he was happy to go to bed and know he could sleep in till the cows come home the next morning (He's planning on running a spring 5k with me, though!). We runners were up bright and early to get some food and coffee choked down and head to the Peninsula. Race nerves are so much easier to squelch when you are with someone. Clark and I are like siblings; we banter and joke and hurl insults. Today, him being the newbie meant we could cover all the “first-time” jokes nicely (just relax and follow my lead, I’ll be gentle with you, start slow so you don’t blow up early, I’ll let you finish first since I’m the experienced one, etc. etc.) like a couple of degenerate 12 year olds, laughing hysterically and snorting coffee first thing in the morning. But like actual siblings, we’re also fiercely loyal and close. Clark is the kind of friend I could call any time of the day if I’m in some dire need and he would drop everything. And I would do the same. I was majorly a little annoyed that he was so darn calm, though. I AM NERVOUS AND ITS MY 62ND RACE! HOW ARE YOU NOT NERVOUS?!!! He shrugged and kept saying coolly, ‘I’m not nervous’… what is there to be nervous about? What’s the worst that can happen?’ FINE, YER NOT NERVOUS, YA IRRITANT! Kidding... I was impressed and just secretly a little jealous. He wasn’t nervous, I could tell. Relaxed as an old man on his front porch rockin' chair. He wasn’t doubting our sub-50 goal, either, asking me what splits we are running to accomplish it and commenting on the pleasant morning and the beautiful Bayfront views. I chalked it up to his years of experience in competitive sports like baseball and football, because it was the only way I could salvage my tattered dignity (You Loopsters better never betray me by telling this guy, if I ever bring him to a Loopfest, what a basket case I was at Marshall… Rehoboth… Philly…Wineglass. Okay, all the races. BOOOO!). Like I said, cool as cucumber (below). And holding the pikermi sweatshirt he borrowed from my DH, one that TOsuperstar gifted him years ago. Fitting to wear for a race, for sure. Though clear and sunny, the cold temps called for layers for anyone spectating. Prerace selfie in the parking lot: The St. Pat’s Day 5k/10k is always a fun race. After a long winter, some 300-400 Erie runners come charging out of their treadmilling, espresso-drinking, too-much-pizza-eating, YakTrak-wearing lairs to celebrate the start of spring running and shake off the winter rust. And there was a boatload of rust to shake this year. Punxsutawney Phil called it, March came in like a lion and stayed lion-like, and Erie is creeping up on Buffalo’s record snowfall of just under 200 inches in one winter. We’ve had snow and cold for what seems like an eternity. But here we were: 300+ hardy runners turning out on a morning that was a crisp 25 degrees at race start. Clark and I ambled into the building where all the race action was happening. Got our packets, put on the timing chips (you need help getting that thing on?), started checking the time to see how close we were to race time. People were trickling in steadily now, and every couple of minutes I was seeing a running friend. The great thing about the local scene is that no matter how long it’s been since you showed up to race, you just pick up right where you left off: talking about running, racing, training. And the usual sandbagging, just in case your race went to the dogs: I haven’t been running that much… winter’s been rough…life got in the way… dude, I don’t know when I last did speedwork! The 5k was first! Clark had the advantage of getting to watch a race firsthand before actually running one himself. He had his layers on and was watching the proceedings with interest. He took a prerace pic (FYI, I'm freezing!)... ... then I lined up with the crowd of 300+ runners and we were off with the usual mad 5k mass scramble. I tried to settle into a comfortable pace while dodging people at the front of the race who should have started halfway back. I don’t know that I ever settled into a comfortable pace, though?! Maybe it was the exceptional volume of winter rust, maybe it was training for a marathon instead of shorter distances, maybe it was the hard speedwork I’d done just 3 days before? But it felt uncomfortable and not smooth the entire way. Mile 1 came in at 7:04. Perfect. Still uncomfortable, but it would get better and faster, right? We looped back nearly past the race start and people were gathered by the course to cheer. Clark was taking pics, but I could only smile and nod. 5ks are not the race distance where the runner can shout greetings and salutations or swing over for a high-five. But it’s always great for an extra boost to hear a friendly voice when you’re struggling to breathe and feeling the Grim Reaper of Lactic Acid clawing at your calf muscles. There was this little kid whom I fell into step with just before we hit the spectator section. He was gritty. He was fast. He also kept surging, falling, surging, falling. Probably 5-6 times. Surge ahead with an impressive kick, then slow down. I’d reel him in slowly, bearing down behind him, and he’d keep glancing over his shoulder. I’d pass him. Within 30 seconds of being passed, here he comes again, steaming around me with his legs churning, face red and breathing loudly. Ughhh, I wanted to put him behind me… but at the same time, I admired the crap out of his fortitude. Lots of little kids, you pass them once and they shrivel up like worms on a hot sidewalk. Not this one. Mile 2: 7:05. CRUD. It was just one second slower, but I was not feeling better. And the hardest part was coming up ahead, where the turnaround takes you back to the course. Into any wind coming off the Lake, and a slight uphill. It’s mentally the worst stretch of any race here on PI; that .5 mile section always gets me in the grumpies like OOOOOOF, KILL ME NOW! Every step was now a cruel reminder of why I love/hate 5ks (all hate at the moment) and how I haven’t been training to race 5ks. But, I was still managing to pass people. I passed at least 6 women on the course, and probably just as many dudes. And that’s the story, all the way to the finish. Pain… slowing slightly (Mile 3 was 7:09, grrrrr)... and THAT DARN KID!!!!!! I mustered up a little bit of kick to the finish with a 6:15 pace for the final .16. I’d seen the clock from a distance coming into the final turn, saw the 22:xx and knew my goal of sub-22 wasn’t happening. Oh well. I focused on pushing to the finish line. My legs and lungs were screaming in perfect-pitch unison, my head was throbbing with every step, and I was only vaguely aware of Clark, a red blur standing at the side of the course, yelling ‘something-something PEEEEEEEG!’ 22:13. Not my fastest 5k. But still, my 4th fastest (21:35, 21:46, and 21:52 were my faster ones) out of the 24 5ks I’ve completed, so there’s that, I guess. Along with 31st place overall (of 332 participants), 5th female, and 1st (of 21 total) in the 35-39 AG. Oh, and that kid beat me! By a few seconds. What a little turd trooper! My head stopped throbbing and my eyes refocused through the pain fog to see Clark waiting patiently, still carrying the gym bag full of all our stuff. I had a brief moment of panic… how the heck am I going to be able to pace this guy to a sub-50 in 30 minutes when my legs feel like jello right now? But after some water and sitting down to catch a breath, things returned to more manageable and runnable state. It was racetime soon! AGAIN! YAY (this was MY first time doing a double, btw)! For Clark, almost go-time for his first race EVER! He left to do his warmup and visit the restroom and I chatted with more local running friends that were popping out of the woodwork to run the 10k. We joined the crowd at the race start. I was so excited to get rolling. A little nervous about my pacing duties. Jittery. Probably more so than Clark, who was calmly watching the crowd and stretching and helping me out of my warm-up sweatshirt because I was shivering uncontrollably from the chill of sweating and standing in the barely-30 degree temps. I usually like to help undress, he joked impishly, and our laughter cut the race nerves down right where they were standing. Our plan was set, our splits were in my head, and our goal of sub-50 hung there in front of us like a carrot. I had faith in Clark, he was putting his faith in me, and this was a team effort. Then we were lining up, we were on our marks, we were OFF! For not having felt very good during the 5k, my legs were fine now! Huh. Maybe I should run a 5k warmup before actually running a 5k? However, it also helped that I was running a minute per mile slower than I was for the 5k. Definitely less painful. People were shooting past us like torpedoes, but I held back. I could tell Clark was itching to run, with the typical eagerness of a first time racer. Slow down, I said. We’re running 7:30s… 2 minutes later: Slow down… we’re still running 7:30s! It was an effort to slow down. Which is a good thing. Less than a mile in, we were coming up behind a running friend, Juliann. I knew approximately what her goal pace was and I knew she was a very consistent runner. We would hang with her for awhile. Mile 1: 8:07. A little faster than our intended 8:15, but I could tell Clark was completely relaxed with the pace. He hung off my shoulder, occasionally switching sides. Mile 2: Another 8:07. Still feeling good, or at least I was. Clark said he was too. I kept asking, checking. He had a relaxed stride, even breathing, and was inquiring about splits at the mile markers. Good. We came up behind Brianne, another running friend. She had told us before the race that we would probably catch her, first time runner or not, so now she glanced over and said “Told YA!” She’s a triathlete, so if this were a swimming or biking race we’re be left in the dust. We also passed Karen, my running friend who is the RD of my favorite spring 5k. The first turnaround, and Mile 3: 8:00 flat. A little ahead of schedule, but good. Then I sensed Clark, restless, chomping at the bit. He pulled up beside me. “What was that mile? Are we picking it up now?” I chuckled inwardly. We’re not even halfway… there’s a lot of race left, I told him. Patience was really important right now. He listened, fell into step. I was tempted to let him loose, just to see what would happen but nope… we all know how those end. It was important to me that his first race be a positive one, not one where he falls apart at Mile 5.5 because the pacer took him out too fast. Julianne was still ahead, keeping her consistent pace at a nearly-8:00 pace. Clark was relaxed, even chatting now and then. The runners, the pace, the views of Presque Isle… Frankly, I’d expected him to have to start working a little harder a little sooner than he did. I was still holding him back a little, though, so I was relieved when he kept talking. It meant he was relaxed. I was having a blast. No pressure on me, except to maintain this pace, which felt pretty good. Yes, my legs were tired, but not race-pain-tired. It felt good to be out here, doing what I loved, with friends, soaking in the camaraderie, the competition, the friendly support and banter. I have missed racing so much! Mile 4: 7:46. Almost sub-consciously, I’d picked up the pace and started bearing down just a little. It was race time. Hard work time. Pain time. This was where Clark could test himself. I tried to stay aware of his body language. Was he breathing too hard? Was his stride faltering? Was he fading? But no, there he was, glued to my shoulder, a few paces behind. As I took the seconds down, he matched the pace. No whining, no complaining. He stopped talking, mostly, and I could sense that he was pushing now. But not faltering a smidge. My legs were not getting happier, though. That 22 minute 5k was yelling at me. Then he said it: “Boy, I’m glad I was able to poop this morning!” I laughed aloud. It was the best, funniest, most fitting thing I’d heard all morning. We have a real runner here, folks. Talking about poop as naturally and comfortably as a non-runner talks about his morning coffee. Next up: nipple chafing. Yes, we need to have The Talk about that, heading into longer races. There is no limit to the interesting conversations when you’re a runner. Mile 5: 7:34. I was in slight disbelief that we were this far in the race and already dropping so far below our 8:00 flat goal. I knew now that we had it in the bag… but I was going to bring it as far under 50 minutes as I could! I picked up the pace. We passed Juliann; her clockwork pacing no longer satisfactory. We thundered past a couple more people. We’ve got this, I told Clark. It was obvious by now that he was pushing, working. It was starting to hurt. Mile 5.5: I was glancing down and seeing 7:20s. I was in full-on race mode. Clark asked, his voice raspy, what we were running. I told him. 7:20s. We’re ahead of schedule. Don’t think about it. Just focus on me, follow me. I’ll take you in. We got to the little turnaround, heading into the nasty grind of KILL ME NOW. Except it seemed shorter this time, mostly because I was focusing on running as fast/hard as I could without losing Clark… steady, steady… keep him controlled. He was breathing hard now, hurting, I could hear the effort in every intake. I could see the pain creeping into his face. But he never complained or let up, and he kept his stride smooth. I was so stinkin proud of him. Hang in there, you’ve got this. Mile 6: 7:25. We rounded the corner into the final .2. I picked up the pace another notch; we were nearly sub-7 now. Heck, I was hurting now! Clark was tight behind me, giving it his all. Then we could see the clock, the homestretch. I started yelling. THERE IT IS, WE’VE GOT IT, CLARK, C’MON, GOOOOO! KICK IT!!! And kick he did. He burst into some overdrive craziness and was matching my sprint, stride for stride, almost overtaking me. Uh, nope, not so quick, buddy, so I answered with a surge that overtook him again. He fired back, losing all abandonment and kicking past me. I yelled, “HEY, YOU IDIOT!!!” (in fun, of course!), then remembered that I am, after all, the pacer, slowed up, finished the race laughing… 2 seconds behind him… as he fist-pumped and grinned victoriously. Is that the well-deserved euphoria of a first time race finisher or WHAT?! 48:32 official time. 7:50 average pace, 10 seconds per mile faster than our goal. And for a brand new runner… only 170 total miles since Clark began running a couple of months ago! Also, another 1st place 35-39 AG win for me. And just about the prettiest mile splits you'll ever see. I can’t even describe how I felt as it hit me that we had just smashed the sub-50 goal by nearly a minute and a half! I gave Clark a few seconds; he was bent over with his hands on his knees. Then he stood up, painfully, and turned to face me, holding his arms out for a celebratory hug, a mixture of exhaustion and elation on his face. This was my first experience with pacing someone I’d coached/trained, and there in that moment, both of us smiling, laughing, sweating, trembling a little with the cold and the pure, hard shot of adrenaline, our pulses still thudding with the effort of that last sprint: it made every minute and every mile of training so worth it. That very first 2 mile run we ran, in frigid temps and snow...The circles around the community park...The speed sessions on the treadmill...The 8 mile long run at the peninsula...The good runs, the crappy runs...The times we ran for speed and the times we ran to get life and complexities and difficult things off our chest. I felt tears prickle at my eyelids… “You’re making me cry a little”, I muttered, and Clark chuckled. I was/am so incredibly proud of him! This is where it’s at, guys. Running, racing, and then sharing it with others and knowing you brought another person into this fellowship. It was one of the top 5 proudest, most satisfying moments I’ve experienced as a runner. Bringing someone along from first run to first race, to this magical place called The Finish Line. Where you lose yourself in the pain and then find yourself again in the joy. Where problems disappear, life gets put on pause, and a little nirvana opens up. Where you feel just about as alive and free as you’ll ever feel. You fall in love with it, hate to leave it, and keep coming back for more. For Clark, the more is already in motion. We’re training for a spring half marathon.
  6. My 2018 running year is off to a great start, and I think it’s time to share my Big Goal with you. Putting it in writing for consumption by an audience other than my mom and a few select friends who have gotten previews is absolutely terrifying for me, but I think it’s the good kind of terrifying. Which is largely how I feel about my goal for 2018 in the first place. In 2018, I want to BQ minus 5 minutes. That will be a 3:30:00 marathon. A PR by 15 minutes and 21 seconds from last October. And I want to do it at Rehoboth in December. Excuse me while I go breathe into a paper bag for a few minutes… Ok, I’m back. Like I said, 2018 is off to a great start. I’ve run two 5Ks and a 10K in the first two months of the year, and I have a half-marathon coming up this Sunday. In New Orleans! Yay! When I decided that pursuing a BQ was going to be a real thing this year, and not just something I passively wanted but didn’t do anything in particular to accomplish, I knew I needed to step up my training game. I’ve been following the Hansons Marathon Method training plan for the last couple of years, and have had success with it, but I knew I wasn’t really making the most of it. I talked myself out of about ⅓ of the interval and tempo workouts in any marathon cycle because I didn’t like doing them, and it was easy to come up with reasons why I should just do an easy run instead. I still made improvements in the marathon, and ran them pretty well, but I wasn’t seeing anything like the improvements people were posting about in the Facebook group and I felt like my fitness was plateauing. Just being accountable to myself wasn’t cutting it, so I decided last fall that after Rehoboth 2017 I would sign up for Hansons Coaching Services and bring in reinforcements. Knowing that I was paying someone every month to get the Garmin data from each and every workout seemed like an effective way to make sure that I did each and every workout. Signing up for coaching also meant that my training plan would be customized not just to my running abilities and goals but also to my race plans and travel schedule. Since I’m me, by December 2017 I’d already registered for three marathons, a half-marathon, and a 10-miler for 2018! That is definitely more racing than Hansons recommends with their off-the-shelf training plans, so I was excited about working with a coach who could shape a training plan around the things I already wanted to do, and still aim for the Big Goal in December 2018. And so far, it’s been everything I was hoping for and then some! My coach, Melissa, is awesome and was completely unfazed by both my ambitious (some might say audacious or even flat-out ridiculous) goal and the excessive amount of racing that I like to do each year. I only get 2-3 weeks of workouts at a time, which is VERY helpful for me as I am definitely prone to looking ahead in a training plan and getting all psyched out over the paces and distances in the later weeks. It also allows us to adjust the plan easily if anything comes up, like illness, injury, ridiculous winter weather, or work travel to places where running outside is a no-go. And every time I finish a run, my Garmin data is automatically uploaded to the Final Surge app, where she can see every last detail of my run. Because of that, I haven’t skipped a single run since we started working together in mid-December. That’s HUGE for me. In addition to the added accountability making a difference in my consistency, having a coach tell me how fast I’m supposed to be doing speed and tempo workouts and the races I’ve done so far has been AMAZING for my confidence. For the first few speed workouts she had me do in January, the paces made me look like that bug-eyed emoji face and I was like, “Omg no way can that be my target pace! I can’t run that fast! What is Coach thinking?!?” But you know what happened? I DID run that fast. As part of my ongoing realization that running is so very much a mental game, having Coach prescribe target paces that I thought were beyond my current abilities has made me faster. I might start out a workout with some doubts, but I also tell myself that I have to at least try because Coach told me to. And then I run the first interval or first tempo mile and absolutely nail the target pace and say to myself, “Oh! I CAN do it!” 2018 so far has already been vastly different than it would have been if I hadn’t gotten a coach. One thing that I’ve avoided like the plague has been racing short distances. I’m a marathoner! Why would I race a 5K? Those things hurt! Well, because Coach said I have to. And it turns out that they’re actually kind of fun in a weird, masochistic way. Kind of like speed work, as I’m also discovering. So over MLK Day weekend, I ran my first race of the year: a small 5K along the C&O Canal Towpath out in Maryland that was organized by the DC Road Runners. This was intended to be sort of a benchmark race to see where my fitness was. I’d only been back to normal running for a few weeks after recovering from Rehoboth and had done just one very short speed workout beforehand. My 5K PR from last July was 23:54 (7:43 pace), but since that was set in an evening race in the heat and humidity of the DC summer, I was pretty sure I could beat that time in a small, flat race in January. The only daunting thing (you know, other than the entire idea of racing) was the wicked 20+ mph wind that day! But the race was an out-and-back, so I’d really only have the wind in my face for the second half. I positive split the race like whoa, but that was pretty much inevitable with that wind. I went out a little bit faster than I probably should have, but the first half of the race felt surprisingly good (albeit tailwind-assisted). I finished in 22:56, a PR by 58 seconds! That race was a major confidence booster for me, and I spent the next few weeks ramping up my workouts a bit in preparation for back-to-back race weekends in February. First up: the Love the Run You’re With 5K on February 11th, organized by my favorite LRS Pacers Running. I had hopes of another PR here, but I really should have looked at the course first. I made the mistake of assuming it was flat. It was very not flat: So I gave up on the idea of a PR early in the first mile when I was panting my way up that first hill. But even though my pace was not what I was hoping for, I did manage a lovely negative split for this one: I finished in 23:48, which I’m actually pretty happy with. I didn’t realize until now that it was a faster time than last summer’s PR on a flat course, despite the hills. My coach also helped me realize that with there being so little room for error in a 5K, it’s not necessarily helpful to compare results from different races/different courses at that distance. So for this course, she was really happy with my pacing. The weather was something of an improvement over the January race: low 50s and pouring rain instead of 20s and howling wind. There was a photo booth at the start line, so I hopped over to get my souvenir picture before we started: The following weekend I ran the By George 10K, which was another very small race put on by the Potomac Valley Track Club. It was held down at Hains Point, which anyone who’s run the Marine Corps Marathon or Cherry Blossom 10-Miler will be familiar with. On the plus side, it’s very flat. But it’s sort of the Mt. Washington of DC - whatever weather the city is having, it’s amplified at Hains Point. Luckily on race down, it wasn’t tooooooo windy, so the wind down on the Point was only around 10mph. The 10K course was a double version of the 5K course, which meant a double out-and-back. Not the most interesting course, but that was ok. It was actually kind of fun to get to see the other runners so many times during the race. This was the first 10K I’ve actually raced. My only other time at this distance was the TinkerBell 10K that I ran/walked with my mom in Disneyland in 2014. I was pretty sure I could PR this one! My strategy was to go out at a controlled pace and hold that for the first half, and then see if I could bring it down for the last three miles. My target for the first three miles was 7:40ish, and then I was hoping that I could get down to 7:30 in mile 4 and then closer to 7:20 for the final two miles. I didn’t quite manage that, but I’m still happy with how this race went: The first three miles felt great, though mile 3 was back into the headwind, which I blame for the slight uptick in pace. While miles 4 and 5 weren’t quite as fast as I’d hoped, I was happy to see my pace dropping. But then mile 6 was back into the headwind, and I was spent. I was hoping for a final mile under 7:30, but I’m comfortable with the knowledge that I gave it all I had. And my 47:40 time was good enough for 2nd in my Age Group of 30-39, which earned me an apple pie! Next up: the Rock n Roll New Orleans half-marathon! I was originally planning on running the full, because it was there. But I’m trying to be more strategic this year and think in terms of the long term and the Big Goal. While I have no doubt that I could finish the marathon, I haven’t been running anywhere close to normal marathon training mileage since Rehoboth so it would basically just be a 26.2 mile easy run that would still require a solid couple of weeks to recover from before I could pick up with the intense training again. I decided that there wasn’t really a benefit to running a “fun run” marathon right now, whereas if I dropped to the half, I could race it, because my mileage and workouts have been much more in line with that distance. And I’m discovering that I really like pushing the pace! So that’s what I’m going to do. Based on how the 10K went, I’m planning to target a pace of 7:50-8:00 for the half and hopefully come in right around 1:45:00. This would be a 7ish-minute PR, so it’s definitely a lofty goal! But more importantly, I’m going to really focus on race strategy and pacing rather than a specific pace target. I want to negative split the race and practice being patient in the first half and then picking it up on tired legs. Basically the opposite of how I’ve run almost every race ever. Not-so-coincidentally, 8:00 is the pace that I will need for that 3:30 marathon, so if I can hit it in a half right now, I will feel really good about building up to that for a full by Rehoboth. After this, I have a goal 10-miler in April (the GW Parkway Classic, which I loooooove) where I’ll definitely have a goal time that will probably be informed by how New Orleans goes. Then at the end of April is the inaugural National Women’s Half-Marathon, which will just be for fun and where I’ll be joined by Keep Running Girl AND SLCAthena! And maybe NCAthlete and ASchmid who are coming to the area for a 50K the day before! Then in May I have the craziest part of the year: the 39.3 Challenge at the Maine Coast Marathon. Coach definitely thinks this is nuts. I think it’ll be fun! Plus, I’ll get THREE different mermaid medals! But needless to say, both the half and full that weekend will be run at easy paces! This is the 2nd annual HPS Mother-Daughter birthday weekend race experience; Mom will be running her 3rd half-marathon that Saturday! On September 1st I’m running my first international marathon: the Dingle Marathon in Ireland! I’ve been planning on this race since my first trip to Ireland in fall 2016, but it turned into a family vacation when my mom discovered that there was a half-marathon too and my parents invited themselves along! I’m not complaining though; it’s going to be amazing! But as the coast of the Dingle Peninsula is crazy hilly and this course is not USATF-certified, this will be another “just for fun” marathon rather than a goal race, followed by a week of recovery in Ireland. I know it’s tough, but someone has to do it. I’ll probably (be forced to) do some more short races in the summer and early fall as tune-ups for the REAL marathon training leading up to Rehoboth. After the Dingle Marathon, it’ll be time to get down to serious business! I’m not thinking too much about what that’ll look like yet, but based on the last 10 weeks or so, I have all the faith in the world in my coach’s ability to guide me to my Big Goal. I’m so excited for what this year has in store! #Rehoboth2018 #BQorBust #Chasingtheunicorn (Please tell me when my obsessing over BQing at Rehoboth becomes insufferable and I’ll try to tone it down. Maybe.)
  7. The weather has been colder than normal this winter. Still not much snow, but wind chill advisories have kept me inside more often than usual. Tomorrow will be another really cold morning – I haven’t decided if I will face the cold or head to the gym. Training for the Austin marathon is going well, but I am behind where I would like to be. There isn’t much I can do about it – with the foot injury at the end of last year I just don’t have the time to get the long runs I’d like to get done. The good news is as long as things continue as they are I will be able to complete the marathon, but I will be undertrained. I have to avoid any mishaps – and the flu going around has me worried. Everything has me worried. I’m a worrier anyway, and since I’ve had two marathon “fails” in a row I’m even more nervous about this one. I won’t feel confident about getting to the start line until I’m standing on it. I may not feel confident about finishing until I actually have. PRs and sub 4:30 seem almost totally out of the question. (I won’t totally write off a PR, but I’m more concerned about just finishing right now. I feel like I want to write more about my fears leading up to this race but I’ve got other running news… On Saturday I had another cold long run, 15 miles. 14* and cloudy. 14 is actually 11* warmer than my 12 miler last week. 3, even with minimal wind chill is not something I want to run in, especially that far. Both of those runs went well. I did the 12 in my neighborhood because I didn’t have anyone to meet and being close to home meant getting warm after the run a lot faster. The 15 was at Forest Park in St. Louis about 1/3 with friends and the rest on my own. It mostly went well, but around mile 13 my knee started complaining. Just a little but it was in the area of the IT band so I started to get really nervous. It never got too bad, so I’m hopeful that it will be ok. But it doesn’t help my nerves about making it to the Austin start line. I had 16 on the plan, but 15 was already a 3 mile jump from the previous week, it was cold and I had a 5k the next day. The mileage increase over the previous week was also more than I like to do. After the run I got home, got warmed up and enjoyed a lazy day made possible by a long weekend. Yesterday I had the MLK Unity 5k run. It was another cold morning and my legs were tired. I almost didn’t want to go, but I’d payed for the race and the start line is barely a mile from my house. There aren’t a many 5ks less than ½ hour drive from my house (there’s tons in the STL area of course, just not super close to me) and the cause is a good one so I went anyway. With 15 miles on my legs the day before I wasn’t expecting much. I figured I’d run by feel and see what happened. The plan was first 2 miles comfortably hard, then the last mile as close to all out as I could make myself go. Last year was the inaugural race and a pretty small crowd. The race director told me when I picked up my packet they did have more people register this year and the crowd was a little bigger, but it was still a really small race. I didn’t see the previous year’s winner (overall a 12 year old girl). Like last year no one really seemed to want to start on the line. This year I didn’t either since I didn’t intend to run it all out. (Normally I have no place there anyway, but I think this race is about ½ walkers, and I was 4th or 5th woman last year so it was fair for me to be there). I started out and felt surprisingly light for the first ¼ mile or so. Then my legs reminded me of the 15 miles I’d done the day before. Nothing actually hurt so I ignored them. As usual lots of people took off and zoomed away. I just ran my hard but not too hard pace and hoped that I wasn’t going to hurt myself by having two hard days in a row. Mile 1 came in at 9:06. Not especially fast for me, but a lot faster than easy pace. I knew mile 2 would be the hardest as it is mostly uphill. But here is where I started passing people. I hadn’t taken note of how many women were in front of me and I wasn’t paying a ton of attention to how many I was passing, but gradually I was moving up. I may have passed 2-3 on the biggest hill, which is a hill I run at least 2x a week on my normal running routes. My watch beeped the end of the second mile (9:13), I took a deep breath and turned on the speed. Much of this mile is downhill except for a small hill mid mile. I passed more people. I still had no idea how many people were in front of me, or even if I was actually going that fast at all. About ¼ mile from the finish a volunteer was cheering the runners on and said “You’re almost there, keep going!” and then “You’re going faster than you ever have!”. I answered “Not quite!” as best as I could because I was breathing so hard. Then my watch beeped the 3rd mile and I realized that she was right and I was wrong. Mile 3 was 8:08, a mile PR by 1 second. I still had the last 1/10ish to go. By the time I crossed the finish line my mile PR was 8:04. Surprise! I was shocked. Much of that mile was downhill, but it’s been a while since I’ve even come close to PRing. My first 2 miles weren’t that fast, but even with that I was 15 seconds off my 5k PR (finish time 27:23 by my watch, PR is 27:08.) Clearly one of two things must be true – Either I should run 15 miles the day before all my 5ks or I really, really need to run a 5k well rested. After the race I walked into the dance studio/charity offices where the 5k was being held where they had the medals, bananas and water. They were sending everyone to get their pictures taken in one of the dance studios. Then I walked back outside to see if they had computers set up where I could find out my official time. Much to my shock they were looking for me. I had placed 3rd female overall! On a race I didn’t really want to run. I hadn’t been going for a PR either, though I did end up running a lot faster than I expected. Recovery wise I feel good today, taking the rest day I normally would have taken yesterday. I won’t lose a day of running if I switch out a cross training day. I was hoping the race would get pictures posted fairly quickly but they haven’t yet and I wanted to get this written today while I’m off work. I may update with race pictures if I find them. My 3rd place trophy. It's kind of huge, and there is also a picture of Dr. King on it, but I couldn't get it all in the picture. It looks like a thermal mug but it's not (bigger), it also reminds me of an urn for ashes but that would be too weird. Whatever, I'm not complaining, it's the only overall award I've ever gotten.
  8. eliz83

    A few bits

    Ever since RW shut down The Loop, I've been a bit salty about blogging. I was already annoyed that I had lost some of my early work that I really loved (including the "Inside Eliz83's Head" series and the post where I wrote from my GPS watch's perspective), not to mention I never saved any of Bacon's blogs so I really can't publish my dream book that is basically just all of his blogs printed and neatly bound in a colorful cover. If you never got to read a Bacon blog, I offer my most sincere condolences. I thought about doing an RR from last week's Turkey Trot, but I never remember races in the great detail that many of you do, so I just did a quick RR on Instagram: I ran it with my siblings so we took a few run selfies. The race was at the Sac County Fairgrounds in Sac City, Iowa, which is also home of the World's Largest Popcorn Ball. We were really excited to see it. Like Peg, I've been taking a bit of a break from running. I've felt all over the place, in that spot where I sort of want to go hard but not really, it's getting dark outside, actually maybe I'll just watch another episode of Drop Dead Diva, cuz I really want to know what happens next. You know that spot. I have been there, hard core. So, I've just been doing bodyweight workouts at home (thanks, Daily Burn), trying new recipes out of Run Fast, Eat Slow and thinking about goals for next year. Evidently, those goals include a half marathon in Utah, cuz I just signed up for that yesterday. I hate half marathons, but this one includes a belt buckle, beautiful scenery and a young Brad Pitt lookalike (although, honestly, the only Brad Pitt I ever "got" was Legends of the Fall Brad Pitt, otherwise I don't understand the obsession with him), and a girlfriend's weekend all tied up into it, so fine, I'll train for another 13.1. It will be my first in 5 years. The last one was a trail half that kicked my ass. I'm sure it will suck be awesome. I'd like to get at least 2 other states ticked off the 50 state + DC list (and Canada and Mexico), so we will see if that happens. It depends on the timing of a few work trips. I can't decide if it's time for another marathon or if I want to see how much I can knock off the 5K PR. There are good reasons for both. I'll probably wait to see how I feel during 13.1 training. If you are looking for a fun human interest/still running related Instagram or Strava account to follow, I recommend Colin McCourt. He's a former British pro runner, who retired, gained weight and then took on a bet with his buddies that he could run a sub-16 5K by the end of this year or get the names of 17 of his friends tattooed on him. He accomplished that goal a month early, and now "season 2" is a sub-2:30 marathon, based on votes from his followers. I voted for a sub-30 10K but I'll still follow this journey. I'm not salty like that.
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