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Found 6 results

  1. SIbbetson

    2018 Running Highlights

    I recently read my Top 5 Running Highlights of 2017 when searching for my yearly mileage history list. I was correct when I noted in that post that 2017 would be hard to top! My 2018 running wasn't quite what I wanted, but I have a lot to be thankful for. My Instagram Top 9 wasn't far off! My Highlights Were: With 3,047 miles, I ran my highest yearly mileage ever, surpassing my 2017 mileage by 4 miles (the 2017 mileage was a huge yearly mileage PR). I had 8 weeks of mileage in the 80s, which before this year I had only done for 1 week, in 2017. All other "normal" training weeks were in the 60s-70s; the weeks that were not that high were when I was tapering, recovering, injured, or returning from injury - the majority of those when I was healthy were in the 50s, but several were big fat zeros when I was injured. I am pretty pumped that I managed a yearly mileage PR with 8 weeks of downtime, and I know I can improve it next year if I don't get injured. I counted my AlterG treadmill miles in this total, which feels a little like cheating, but I did run the distance so I'm keeping them (my outside miles are around 160 less). I ran a huge 10K PR. Everything really came together for the Plaza 10K even though I did not rest for it or do any 10K-specific training. Although I was extremely disappointed that my fall season was cut short, I am so thankful that I got this race in before I got injured. I was thrilled to better my track best on a rolling road course, but more importantly it really showed me how well my body responded to consistent higher mileage training (higher mileage is all relative, I know 70-80 is nothing for some but it is the most I've ever done). I'd been targeting running a 36:59 10K for over a year, but I really never thought I'd be able to run a 36:34 on the road. I ran two solid marathons. Although I did not accomplish my time goal in Houston, it was a great experience and I'm glad I went for it. I am proud to say that my complete bonk/bad day marathon there was a 2:54. Grandma's wasn't what I dreamed of when I selected the race, but based on how terrible I felt for most of the build up, I am proud that I pulled off a 2:49:08, my second fastest marathon. I sure hope I have more in me as far as marathon PRs go, but regardless I sure enjoy the training process and the races! I set two Missouri single age state records, in the half marathon at Rock the Parkway and the 12K at the Big 12 12K. Neither are great times, but they are currently the best a 37-year-old female in Missouri has managed. I bombed nearly every run in the months leading up to those races, so even though I don't think I ran good times, I do think I ran really well compared to how I was performing in training. I persisted. In February, March, and April I had an illness and a slump (which was extra hard since I was coming off of several break-through performances in fall 2017), but I raced beyond what my training said I should have in everything I raced for the first 6 months of the year. I was injured in September, but I did everything I could to strengthen my weaknesses and to return to training. I learned. I learned how much consistent mileage helps my race times. I learned to be more cautious about running when sick, and about running and racing on potential injuries. I re-learned just how much I love the sport and how empty I feel without it. I learned that my running friends mean the world to me. I re-prioritized. My biggest goal is to run for the rest of my life. This is more important than any PR. That doesn't mean my Big Goal (2:45:00 marathon) has changed, just that it's decidedly second on the list, at best. I was more thankful. I still have a ways to go in this arena, but I did better. I've always been pretty bad about wanting more and more, in running and in other aspects of my life. Looking back, I haven't appreciated many milestones and PRs because I was already onto my next goal. The first time I broke 3:00 in the marathon, I left the finish chute ecstatic but also thinking, "I can run faster." I distinctly remember waiting for my flight at the Phoenix airport following my break-through 2:49 marathon emailing my coach saying I wanted to train for a 2:45, instead of relishing in the post-race high. I wasn't nearly as happy about my 2:47 at CIM as I should have been, because it wasn't "enough" compared to a very specific cut-off time. I regret that I didn't savor those moments, but this year I found more joy in my performance at Grandma's Marathon than in any of those marathons, even though it wasn't a PR. I really let myself ride a high after my PR at the Plaza 10K. I do want more, but if I never get more I will still find great joy in the process. I am more thankful than ever now. I helped others. Whenever someone tells me that I helped them, I am reminded why I was given my passion for running. I typically don't realize I'm doing it, but whether it's by answering running questions, giving training advice, encouraging others, inviting someone to join our group runs, listening to my friends when we run together, helping my local running club, or making individualized training schedules for friends free of charge, I have opportunities to give back often. That has to be why God made me a runner. I know I'll remember all of the people that running has brought into my life more than I'll remember any PR; however... Bring on 2019 training blocks and goal races! I have a long way to go to get back to my best fitness, but I'm ready to try!
  2. 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.
  3. The Year of the Dog is upon us—and no, that’s not a reference to the state of my fitness. Although my times may be lagging and my tongue may be wagging, I’ve actually returned to a fairly normal training regimen with fairly normal mileage. This particular Dog headlines the Lunar New Year in China, and that means it was time for the 40th Annual Chinatown Firecracker Run, which I’d somehow managed to avoid over the years. But when your times become embarrassing, it’s only natural to disguise them by running arduous hill courses that absolutely no one runs fast. And this one, at least in its first half, was pretty brutal. I prepared for the race by watching a lot of Winter Olympics and soaking up all that awesome fitness in skintight suits. I’ve always thought that if I’d grown up in the upper Midwest, I could have been a decent biathlete. Mrs. AB made it through the Iteva-Edeva figure skating showdown (I fell asleep), but decided that she hates curling (I, on the other hand, found it weirdly fascinating). And after careful consideration, I decided that the most entertaining Winter Olympics sport is that one in which snowboarders race four at a time down a crazy series of hills and do death-defying leaps while trying not to crash into one another. The Winter Olympics are truly comfort food on a cold February night, and the only real downside is seeing the same commercials over and over again. I mean, why was Mikaela Shiffrin in such a rush to get out of that ice bath? Did she suddenly realize it was cold? Was her Visa card about to expire? But I digress. I also prepared for the Chinatown race on my job. I’m currently doing a long-term assignment as a middle school P.E. sub, and once a week the kids run Cardio Day. For approximately 25 minutes, they circle the school track, running as many laps as possible until whistled in (7 laps is a C, 10 is an A+). Since there are other P.E. teachers and teaching assistants around to supervise and count laps, I was able to join in and show off get a short workout while encouraging the kids. (For the record, I’ve been able to do as many as 14 laps.) Then, after work, I would pick up my wife at her school, where I helped her hang an art project of Chinese lanterns from her ceiling. Our school district is majority Asian, so the Lunar New Year is a fairly big deal. And it was all coming to a climax in Chinatown on a cold (for L.A., anyway) but sunny Sunday morning. Where there’s smoke, there are fireworks—100,000 of them. There was also a dragon, although you could barely see him from the back of the 5K pack. As Mrs. AB took off with the crowd of 5K walkers, I found a quiet spot in which to warm up for the 10K run. We’d taken the Metro to Chinatown, checked our post-race gear, and I gradually shed layers as the 8:30 start approached. The 10K route starts and ends in Chinatown, and basically makes a big looping orbit of Dodger Stadium in the hills of Elysian Park. It’s almost all uphill for the first 2.5 miles, and just seems to go on and on. Whenever I was tempted to look down at Igor and check my pace, I refrained, hearing in my head the famous last line in the movie Chinatown. This course was no place to worry about speed; it was a test of quads and resolve, and above all, a really great workout. Later, I found out that my first three splits were 9:23, 10:19, and 9:37. But right when you reach a clearing and look down at Dodger Stadium, you crest those hills and get your payoff. It’s ironic: when I was young, I was an assassin on the uphills, but too cautious to make good use of the downhills. Now, at 64, I often get passed on the uphills, but turn into Lindsey Vonn on the way down, passing many of those same people. Meanwhile, Mrs. AB was trading photo ops with other walkers in front of the Dodger Stadium. Is it baseball yet? Almost! I was gassed almost to a standstill at the course’s apex, but my splits took a major turn for the better in the second half: 7:54, 8:12, 8:20, with a 7:20 pace on the final, flat .2. It all came out to 55:13, which is bad for me even when you take the hills into consideration. But I got the workout I needed. And then—this being Chinatown—there was food. Flaky-crust delicacies gave way to Vietnamese noodle soup after a quick search of local restaurants. No, I wasn’t hungry again an hour later. But I was ready for a nap…and more Olympics. There were skating pandas in the Closing Ceremonies—a fitting end to our New Year’s adventure.
  4. 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.)
  5. Trail running really started one summer when I just couldn't stand running on hot pavement through hot air while the hot sun beat down on me. Even though my closest trail system was on top of a mountain with no cell service I felt I had little choice and OH SO CAREFULLY trained myself to run on trails. I was terrified of rolling an ankle and breaking something as the sun set, my DH (non-runner) would never find me in time and the healthy population of black bears would have me as a substantial meal. I split my time between the trails and roads depending on time of day, mileage and weather. Around this time last year one of my running buddies introduced me to her running buddies and a running crew as born. We trained for a 5 miler that we ran together last December. After that race we all agreed that we really enjoyed each other's company on our Sunday afternoon jaunts and wanted more. All winter long we met on Sunday's, no matter the weather, and ran all kinds of fun trails. We trained for a ridiculous race in May (Hyner) requiring massive climbs and learning to descend with no regard for ones own life. We were appreciating what a beautiful area we live in- ESPECIALLY in winter (this was last year on the Loyalsock Trail): On Saturday, we got to run a race on more of these beautiful, cold Pennsylvania trails. I'm just getting over a wicked case of peroneal tendinitis so I chose to run the 10K race while my crew ran the half. The temps on top of the hill hovered around 13 balmy degrees at the start. YIKES! It's been since February that I've run in temps that cold! But I was ready in tights, long-sleeve tech t, vest and headband-ear warmers. No gloves or heavy coat needed- even though it was super cold there was no wind and the sun was out. I will admit it took a full mile before I could feel my fingers but after that I was fine. This 10K course is extremely runnable- mostly double-track or wide single track. Sections of technical stuff but it's not extreme and does not last long. The worst is the last mile and a half which is all downhill but goes through an oak forest. You really can get some speed up but the trail was completely covered in leaves. Because it's my bread-and-butter trail- I KNOW what roots and rocks lurk under those leaves- totally stressful in fun sort of way? This was not the fastest time I've ever had on this trail, but it was good enough for 4/18 in my AG so I'm really happy considering the extent of my tendinitis earlier this year. My hips were a little tight, and I didn't have my shoes tied tight enough so I've got some callous blood blister issues to deal with so I'm also happy with the choice to run the 10K instead of the half. After I finished I changed out of my gear into warmer clothes- I checked the parking lot but there is a chance someone got a very good look at my anatomy- and headed back up the trail dragging coats and gear for my RBs. Everyone was happy with their times and we headed to the local bar for snacks and lots of hard cider! I am so happy that I'm healthy going into this winter- my favorite running season. Get out there and enjoy the cold! Sure love our new home- so much easier to post pics.
  6. Gonzo Runner

    Damn the Torpedoes

    I wrote a draft of this a couple weeks ago, but never got around to proof-reading or editing or posting it. Given what I titled this and why, when I heard the news about Tom Petty today, made me want to get back to it. Which may have been a mistake on taper brain. Sorry Tom, you deserve way better than being associated with this sloppy thing. Also,I realized I put a race report not in the race report folder. Oops. A lot of people say they perform best under pressure, when the stakes are highest. Most of them are full of shit and are either stroking their own egos or justifying procrastinating until the last minute to do whatever the task at hand happens to be. Just because you get things done under pressure doesn’t mean they’re any damn good. I mean, if I pulled a knife on you and told you to draw a self portrait in 10 seconds you could probably get something on paper, but it would be terrible. Unless you’re one of those caricature artists on the street who failed out of Pratt or something and draws those things up as people walk past then harasses them all the way down the train platform trying to sell it to them for $10. But if you failed out of school you probably can’t claim to be good at performing under pressure anyway so the point is moot. Regardless, I fall squarely in the camp of procrastinators. I’m not lazy or anything, I just loathe most of what makes up my inbox on any given day and the things which I find least interesting or most unpleasant to deal with get handled at the last possible second so I don’t have time to dwell on the misery of the task in question. The ol’ rip off the band-aid technique. Now despite my admitted proclivity towards procrastination, I do think I have an uncanny ability to rise to the occasion when the stakes are high and the odds are stacked against me. As Exhibit A I submit to you my racing history, which is full of surprise PRs. You remember the beer and kimchi fueled 5K I somehow crushed (was gonna link to the bloop, but…). And there was the 5+ minute PR in the pikermi I ran on residual marathon training fumes and muscle memory (again with the missing link to the dead bloop). And this same race last year (oh yeah, BTW, this is a race report), where I went from too exhausted to warm up to channeling Raging Bull on the way to another unexpected PR (yeah...no bloop). None of these races should have gone well given the lackluster training or exhaustion or hangover, yet all were PRs. So even though my legs were still recovering from a 16 miler 36 hours before and I was awash in accumulated Hansons fatigue, I quietly held onto some hope for this year’s Big Peach Sizzler 10k (which was on Labor day, but procrastination remember?). The dead legs I had to drag to the train station for our ride up to the start line were a constant reminder that yes, I was in the middle of marathon training. Any commands to move my lower extremities felt like they were being transmitted south from the brain via tin cans and string. As we milled around the start line I eschewed all of my usual pre-race routines out of sheer exhaustion, not once thinking about paces or doing my neurotic shoe retying routine. When I had put my Chicago goal time into a race predictor it had spit out a 43:29 10K time, and even though this was supposed to be my fitness check race I hadn’t give pacing or goals much thought as we toed the line, waiting for the national anthem and countdown to the start. I was entertaining myself trying to turn “toed the line” into a Toad the Wet Sprocket joke when I saw the starter, without saying a word, raise his arm and fire the starting gun. Everyone looked at each other for a confused half a second, then took off like we were charging into a Best Buy on Black Friday. I guess we weren’t feeling very patriotic, which bummed me out because I’d worn my American flag socks. See? I avoided the mistake I had made last year starting too far back in the pack and was able to quickly find some running room for myself. I finally started thinking about pacing and remembered how this race had gone last year. I was equally exhausted and hobbled by worn out legs then and I had also not done much of a warm-up, but after a slow first mile I had somehow managed to crank up (down? whatever, make faster) the pace and even kick at the end to a big PR. So I decided to see if lightning would strike twice and tried to keep up what felt like a decent effort for the first mile. And for a moment, I started to feel almost good. The legs were still a little creaky but I felt like I was moving at a good clip and wouldn’t have that far to push to get to what should be 10K pace. Then the Garmin announced a 7:31 first mile. Well, the plan WAS for a slow start, so I guess I nailed it. Given the disconnect between what my pace felt like and reality, I started to do the usual status checks to see where the problem was and realized I wasn’t really working all that hard. My breathing wasn’t that labored, my heart rate wasn’t in the “racing” zone, and I wasn’t even hurting that much. My legs just didn’t want to respond. So I got mad and started swearing, because that’s what I do when I’m mad. Some of the runners around me didn’t seem to appreciate it. I didn’t appreciate their judgmental side-eye, so I figured we were even. To get myself going I started to pick out nearby runners and focus on reeling them in, one at a time. I concentrated on my stride, struggling to lift my legs out of the marathon shuffle and into some semblance of a running gait. First victim up was a hipster looking guy who in no way appeared to be in good enough shape to be ahead of me. He had the full Brooklyn barista look going, with the sides of his head shaved but long enough hair on top for a man bun, the retro looking sunglasses, and even a handlebar mustache. He definitely wore suspenders and sleeve garters to his job as a mixologist at a speakeasy with an idiotic password like “funicular” and rode his fixed gear bike home to the loft apartment his parents pay for while he “finds his path in life”. I passed him just before we got to mile 2, which was 7:01. I reassessed things, and still felt as if I’d go as far as I could drag my legs. (Brilliant assessment in a foot race, no? I was going to change this but it’s such a bad line I decided to leave it in as the highlight of this hack job of a race report.) So I kept pushing up the small hill in front of me and prepped for the mostly downhill mile 3. I had my aim set on an older guy whose graceful, effortless, metronomic stride was a far cry from my desperate uneven lashes at the pavement. As I passed him and looked for my next target, I saw the 45 minute pacer about 150 meters ahead. My first thought was I don’t recall ever seeing a pace group for a race this short. My second thought was DAMN IT I didn’t think I was going that slow. The sight of that 45:00 flag launched another wave of profanity, and further sharpened my focus. Properly motivated and riding the slight downhill I was hoping for a fast split in mile 3, so was disappointed to see a 7:06. I again checked my heart rate and breathing, and again neither was where it should be for a race. What the hell was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I get my legs and lungs aligned? I passed the halfway water station, but the temperature was only in the low 60s and I didn’t think I deserved water anyway, so I skipped it. I remembered listening to a recent interview with Des Linden where she talked about her upcoming training goals. She mentioned that with so many years of nothing but marathon miles and paces, she wanted to get some speed back into her legs and do some shorter faster running. I wondered if I was suffering from the same phenomenon, and if I’d just forgotten how to run fast. I looked up again and saw the 45 minute pacer, still well out of reach. I was at the bottom of the last little hill on the course running behind another hipster, but one who actually looked like a runner. I knew I was running out of miles and was apparently way behind where I should be, so I got mad again. Really mad. I released a new stream of violent cursing and pushed myself to what felt like an all out sprint. The mini-hipster tried to stay with me, and matched me stride for stride up the hill. I kept the hammer down as the course flattened out, and as the pace started to drop so did my mustachioed companion. Mile 4 passed in 6:58, and I momentarily cracked a smile. Then I became infuriated again when I realized it took me 4 miles to get to what should have been my goal pace, and I kept focusing on just driving myself forward, step after step. A new mantra suddenly popped into my head. They were playing Tom Petty’s Runnin’ Down a Dream at the start line, which on some background channel in my brain behind all this other nonsense somehow got me thinking of the album “Damn the Torpedoes”. That’s not even the right album for the song, and I don’t know how my brain had the ability to subconsciously make that connection and suggest a wholly appropriate mantra in the middle of a race, so I just went with it and every time my legs would protest the pace, my inner monologue would scream back DAMN THE TORPEDOES. I closed in on my next target, and was right on his heels as we entered the high rise canyon of the Buckhead business district. The road here turns slightly to the left, and I maneuvered to pass him on the inside and keep the tangents tight. I ran through another status check and was happy that my cardiovascular system had finally joined the effort, but kept wondering if my legs could hold the pace. And then, the bastard I was passing moved over and cut me off, almost tripping me and even giving me a track-worthy elbow. I suddenly forgot about my legs, and vowed to destroy this sonuvabitch and feast on his withered soul. I moved right behind him, breathing down his neck and almost clipping his heels as we ran through the gentle turn. The road immediately curves back the other way, and I knew this guy would try to move over to follow the tangents. So as soon as we hit the inflection point in the twisting road, I moved to his shoulder and blocked him. He looked over at me with a clearly annoyed look on his face, to which I responded by throwing my own elbow, and pulled away from him. I didn’t realize that we’d passed the mile 5 marker in 6:54, and didn’t even have time to check my watch for pace because just as I passed the jackass, I got passed. I recognized the passer as one of the employees at our LRS who we’ve become friendly with over the years of biweekly visits. From The Wife’s stalking of race results I knew we were about the same speed, so I tried to hang on to him as long as I could. As we continued to weave through the canyon of post-modern glass towers, my LRS friend was slightly pulling away, but I noticed we were both finally gaining on the 45 minute pacer. I tried to do one last status check, but gave up when I realized that I didn’t have the mental energy for it. I was drooling on myself, my form was a disaster, and despite the 60 degree temps I was flinging flop sweat like a dog shaking off after a bath. So I swore out loud one more time since that seemed to be working and kept on the gas. We turned off of Peachtree Road and I passed mile 6 in 6:36. Both my LRS friend and the 45 minute pacer finally looked as though they were running out of steam, and the thought of catching them on the last downhill stretch helped me maintain pace. When I caught LRS guy I glanced over and nodded, and he looked at me and said “you got this”. Now, and I don’t know how or why, but when he said that I suddenly thought to myself “yes, I do” and took off. I had no idea where this extra gear came from or how long it would last, but it felt like I had jet fuel pumping through my veins and I rode it down the hill and through the last turn. Don’t run like this at home kids: I ran the last quarter at a 5:43 pace, passed the 45 minute pacer right before funneling into the finish chute, and crossed the line in 43:29. Which means the 45 minute pacer finished in something like 43:35. Perfect. This also means I really should get better at runner math if I couldn’t figure out they were that far ahead. I mean, it’s not like I took 6 semesters of calculus or anything. (It was only 5) I caught my breath and realized I had hit my predicted time to the second, and had repeated last year’s race almost exactly. Just faster. I stumbled around on gummy legs waiting for The Wife to finish and thinking about how I had somehow again delivered when I had no business running fast. In my post-race daze, all I could come up with was that I must have some kind of superpowers to keep pulling this off. When I told The Wife what I ran she got mad and started yelling something about perfect training never working for her but I can show up hungover or sick or so tired she has to help me tie my shoes and I somehow PR anyway. I tried to tell her about the superpowers, but she only yelled louder. Which meant that all the people trying to hand us flyers and sell us crap as we walked through the train station were terrified of her and left us alone, which I think might be her superpower. As a fitness check race, this was a resounding success. I finished right in the middle of the window which predicts a 3:20 marathon, and the remainder of training went extremely well, so I’d say everything is on track and we’re all systems go for Chicago this Sunday. I also thought about how awful I felt on race morning, and how awful I’ve felt for so many of my best races, and started planning for my pre-marathon routine. Deep dish with extra sausage for dinner the night before with a couple pitchers of beer oughta do the trick. Maybe hit the clubs a bit and roll straight from the velvet ropes to the starting line. That seems to be how I activate these superpowers, so I may as well go all in. Or maybe, ya know, it’s just the training.
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