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January 2019 in Review Total mileage for the month: 262.7 Dec. 31-Jan. 6: 73.7 (2:42 strength training) Jan. 7-13: 76.5 (2:46 strength training) Jan. 14-20: 75.1 (2:29 strength training) Jan. 21-27: 45.7 (1:52 strength training, 2:00 cardio cross-training) Jan. 28-Feb. 3: ?? (3 as of Jan. 31, plus cross-training) Races: Not there yet! Amy makes winter running much better! Workouts: Jan. 1 - 3 x 1 mile repeats with 0.5 recoveries in 6:12, 6:18, 6:18 (2.1 warm up, 1.3 cool down). This was my first workout on my first official day back working with my coach; clearly he didn't hold back! I left my Garmin account connected to his coaching platform when I was building mileage post-injury, so he knew what I'd been doing, and it was pretty clear that my endurance was solid but my leg turnover/speed was in dire need of help, so this was where we started. The pace range he gave me for these was 6:11-6:18, and I feared that I wouldn't be able to do it but vowed to try. I had to really work to keep the final one in range, but I made it! Afterwards I told him he chose the perfect pace range for my current fitness, because this was challenging but do-able. If I'd have been in charge of my own workouts, I certainly wouldn't have picked mile repeats, and if I did I would have aimed for more like 6:30 pace, so day 1 being coached again showed me that I need to be coached (even though he gave me a workout and double on New Years Day)! Jan. 5 - fast finish long run, described below. Jan. 9 - 6.3 mile 3'2'1' fartlek (recoveries equal to next push, 3.2 warm up, 2.5 cool down). This was supposed to be 6 miles, but who is going to stop in the middle of a push? My push paces were 5:45-6:36, but mostly 6:05-6:15. It was very windy and I blame that for the inconsistency in pacing - the 6:36 was definitely all into the wind and the 5:45 was definitely all out of it! My average pace for all 6.3 miles was 6:50; pre-injury I'd average more like 6:20 on this type of workout, so it was pretty consistent with everything I'm running right now being 30 seconds/mile slower than what I was doing at peak fitness. I am choosing to be thankful for the opportunity to improve rather than upset about being slower, but sometimes not comparing is hard. Jan. 15 - 3 mile tempo (3.3 warm up, 4 cool down) at 6:30 average via 6:27, 6:33, 6:29. I ran with Rebecca, and our Garmins were significantly discrepant (her's said 6:19 average), so I would rather claim that since my goal was 6:18! We have had Garmin discrepancies on that course before, although not by that much and usually mine is the faster one, hah. We had very dense fog for this workout so it was also pretty much like running hard into a dark abyss, because headlamps are rendered nearly useless in fog (mine also iced over because it was 29 degrees!). I gave it my best effort, but it was honestly very disheartening to be unable to maintain the pace I've run for several marathons for a mere 3 miles after being back to running for 7 weeks. Jan. 17 - 4 x 0.15 presses at the beginnings of miles 7-10 within in 10 miler. This is just a tiny get-your-legs-moving/mix-it-up kind of workout, but it always serves as a good reminder that I actually can pick up the pace if I need to. My press paces were 5:54, 5:37 (downhill), 6:01, and 6:20 (uphill). This was run #3 of the month in cold rain, but at 42 degrees and no wind, it was fine, especially after my Jan. 12 long run, detailed below. Jan. 21 - 5 x 1 mile tempos with 0.25 recoveries (2 warm up, 1.5 cool down) in 6:27, 6:33, 6:30, 6:30, 6:33. I had pretty low expectations for this workout since we were in a wind advisory and the windchill was 2 degrees, and I suppose I met those expectations. I put forth my best effort and was consistent with my splits, which was really all I could have hoped for. When I stopped my Garmin it said I needed 3.5 days to recover, which seemed about right, haha! Doubles on Jan. 1, 7, 14, 21. Strides on Jan. 10, 20, 24. Favorite workout: Weeellllll, I can truthfully say that I was thankful for all of them, but not satisfied with any of them. Long Runs: Jan. 5 - 15.6 miles (7:27) with 3 progressive fast finish miles in 7:05, 6:52, 6:36. We had a great group of 7 for this run, although about everyone was doing different distances. Claudio was kind enough to fast finish with me, even though he kicked my tail on the final hill (without the hill, I'd have been in the 6:20s for my final mile, but even though my lack of fitness showed on the hill it was good for me to fight it). Dying less every week though! Jan. 12 - 18 miles (7:46) in 33 degrees and rain, with a windchill of 22. I learned a lot of things on this run, the most important of which was that I am never running that far in these conditions again! I ran a 5 miler in similar conditions the week before, and finished it toasty and dry, so I thought I would be okay...plus there was really no alternative since it had been the exact same temperate with rain for about 36 hours straight and was supposed to continue the entire day until it changed to snow overnight. I was afraid the roads would be a sheet of ice on Sunday so I didn't want to bump it a day (although in actuality they weren't too terrible and I ran outside the next day), and I couldn't wrap my head around running this on the treadmill. I felt decent for the first 10 miles or so, but during a patch of heavy rain even the awesome rainproof jacket I'd borrowed didn't hold up, so I was just cold, soaked, and carrying what felt like 15 lbs of water in my jacket, tights, socks, and shoes. We ran a big loop course to force us to commit to the distance (my idea, oy.), so there was no choice but to keep plodding along back to my car. On the road back there was a lot of flooding and standing water, so my shoes ended up extremely soaked and heavy (at that point the only alternative routes would have added 2-4 miles to the run, so I ran through the flooding but remembered why we don't run that part of that road when it's rained a lot). My only saving grace was that at the last minute before we started I grabbed plastic grocery bags out of my car's console and put them over my mittens, and with the way I had them tied up and gripped, my hands stayed dry. That is the only reason I didn't stop at 16.2 miles when I passed my car! This run confirmed my suspicions that I would have been among the people who died off at Boston 2018, because I definitely slowed and struggled, and felt like I was shutting down. I was with 3 friends, and Rebecca and Claudio went ahead and ran a beautiful negative split while I dragged my frozen self in. My body definitely isn't made for cold rain. Amy was also with us, and she ran Boston 2018 and said this run was colder but less windy (14 mph wind). I came very close to crying during this run, but at the same time I was sure glad to say I gritted it out and always thankful to run! Jan. 18 - 16.4 miles (7:37). I ran this one a day early to avoid another cold rain/ice/snow fiasco. I told my coach I had PTSD from the previous week's cold rain long run and wasn't doing that again! Missy was kind enough to run most of it with me - I ran about 3 miles, picked her up and we did 10 together, then I ran back home. I started at 4:44 a.m. because I had to be at work a little before 8:00, so it was still pitch dark even when I finished, but I was happy to have it knocked out to reduce weather-related stress! It was actually really nice, around 36 degrees and light wind, which is very warm for that time of day in January in Missouri (last year I had many morning runs in below zero wind chills). Jan. 26 - I skipped this one, because I learned from my September-November injury and the great tendon debacle of 2016. More details to come, but I just knew that if I ran this my peroneal tendon was going to get seriously injured, so I stayed home. I think my body hates winter. Better 5-7 days off now than 8 weeks off later! Favorite long run: I felt the best on the January 5 one! My body kind of went downhill after the Jan. 12 one... 8 degrees & pitch dark Highlights/thoughts/randomness: I started back working with my coach this month. I think my rapid mileage increase post-injury made it clear that I need someone to save me from myself, and my avoidance of workouts in December also showed I needed a push. He gave mile repeats and a double on New Years Day, hah. This article about CIM really illustrates why I wanted to run it in 2018 and hope to return in 2019! I have a long ways to go to get to where I want to be, though. I've been feeling discouraged about my paces, but I'm not sure what to do about it except to keep plugging along. I remembered why winter training stresses me out: winter weather uncertainty and my inability to control it! I also think my body responds poorly to winter weather (especially stupid cold morning lows); I recently realized that I have never had a good winter of outside morning running except in 2017, which was a very mild winter. In 2018 I had a serious winter slump (slowed and became worn down - some details here and here but I was relatively quiet about it), in 2016 I got injured, in 2015 I did okay due to running almost all of my weekday runs on the treadmill (manageable since I was typically running Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday), 2012-2014 I wasn't running much, in 2011 I got injured, and before then I ran mostly at lunch when I was at a different job. Look at that resting heart rate of 32! Average was more like 40. Life events: I have never done a word/phrase of the year before, but one came to me for 2019: "Lead me". I often question whether I'm making the right decisions, and what could be better than focusing on where God leads me? We had a pretty low key month; some weekends we didn't go anywhere except for church (and out running for me). Jon enjoyed cheering for the Chiefs, and Albani watches the games with him because he gives her candy when they score or make a good play. Albani is learning to play the recorder and practices a lot, which is both a good and bad thing! Nature loving on a 62 degree January day! I had some thoughts this month about changing my sport to bowling! Crazy hair day on little notice Her hair is supposed to look like pouring soda We had a snow day on Jan. 30 Recorder practice Books this month: Once Upon a Time There Was You by Elizabeth Berg The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld Time Keeper by Mitch Albom Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes & Jo Piazza Clay Girl by Heather Tucker A Child Called "It" by Dave Pelzer The Reason You're Alive by Matthew Quick Theme of the month: Struggling. I came upon these verses at just the right time: "Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." - Romans 5:3-5 I cannot run a 3 mile tempo at the pace I used to run for marathons, my mile repeats are at my goal marathon pace (or slower in bad weather), and my current all-out sprint is maybe my 10K PR pace...but I am sure thankful to be running regardless! At least my mileage is solid. I just keep wondering what I'm doing wrong because I really haven't improved in the 10 weeks I've been back to running post-injury... BUT! I am SO THANKFUL to be running! Especially after taking some time off with a little tendon scare from Jan. 26-Jan. 30, which was consistent with the struggling theme.
September 2018 in review Total mileage for the month: 305.4 -- in comparison: January - 207, February - 254, March - 298, April - 307, May - 355, June - 232, July - 290, August - 357 August 27-Sep. 2: 75.8 Sep. 3-9: 73.0 Sep. 10-16: 80.1 Sep. 17-23: 81.7 Sep. 24-30: 57.7 (planned cut-back week, but ended up being lower than the 70ish planned because I missed cool down miles on Sep. 29, then took Sep. 30 off due to a calf issue) This month sure illustrated how running can give us major highs and significant lows, even within the span of 30 days! Signaling low battery in sync with my training partner Rebecca Races: Sep. 3 - Run for a Child 10K in 37:55 for 1st overall female. I was thrilled to slip in under 38 and net a course PR after a conservative start and with less effort than I've put into this hilly, warm, humid race in past years. Sep. 9 - Plaza 10K in 36:34 for a bright shiny new PR! This race really couldn't have gone any better...well, unless the 5 women who beat me had instead slept in that day (but I was the fastest in age group 35-39)! I was pretty much elated about this one for remainder of the month. Sep. 22 - Gill Family Fall Festival 5K, although I ran this as a recovery run instead of a race I won overall person in 21:01 (see: tiny small town 5Ks). Sep. 29 - Indy Women's Half Marathon in 1:24:19 for 6th overall and my worst decision of the month (turned a minor calf problem into a major issue). I did not get to show my fitness in this race due to the calf injury (I believe I was in shape for 1:18:50-1:19:30), but my husband told me, "Now you know you can run a 1:24 on one leg", hah. Workouts: Sep. 5: 12.5 miles with 0.15 pick-ups at the beginning of the final 5 miles - 6:57 pace for all 12.5; pick-up paces of 5:33, 5:40, 5:47, 5:33, 6:07. I almost turned around and ran the final push in the opposite direction so I could avoid the uphill and hit a faster pace, but then I figured I'd get more benefit from the hard uphill so I continued on but couldn't get it under 6:00 (grade-adjusted pace was 5:49 though, thank you Strava!). This was just a tiny workout within a medium long run midweek, but I was really happy with the run as a whole because I distinctly remember running 12 miles two days after the Run for a Child 10K last year; I remember it because it was one of my worst runs of that season due to residual fatigue. 12 miles felt soooo long that day! So before this one I was a little concerned that would happen again, but instead I felt good! I ran 3.1 miles from my house to meet Rebecca, ran a 6 mile loop with her, then ran 3.4 miles (a different route) back home. Anytime I do this it splits the run up mentally and makes it seem short. Sep. 12: 6.2 mile 3', 2', 1' fartlek with recoveries equal to the next push, 3.1 warm up, 2.2 cool down. My push paces were 5:44, 5:39, 5:34, 5:38, 5:28, 5:48, 5:42, 5:46, 5:24, 5:43. I ran this with Ben, who was a college miler, and he told me that I recover like a long distance runner (7:10ish pace on those) and sent me out to run on the outside of the road on the loop while he got the inside (lane 8 vs. lane 1 basically), haha! Sep. 18: 5 x 1 mile road repeats in 5:41, 5:50, 5:50, 5:53, 5:51 (5:49 average), 0.25 recoveries, 2.2 warm up, 2 cool down. My goal pace range for this workout was 5:34-5:50, and I was feeling confident coming off the Plaza 10K and lined up to run with Ben, who always helps me run faster than I run alone. Even though the workout was more repeats with half the recovery distance of my PR mile repeat workout, I decided beforehand that I was going to try to better that average -- possibly an unreasonable goal, but I was being stubborn and refusing to admit the difference between 0.25 vs. 0.5 recoveries and the effect of 1 more rep. The first repeat went just as I wanted, and felt hard but do-able. Unfortunately Ben strained his calf about 0.75 in and pulled out of that repeat, then intelligently called it a day. Repeat 2 alone felt much harder even running slower, and I really had to fight in the final bit to get my pace down to 5:50. I was a little discouraged, but told myself maybe I was just finding my rhythm and the rest would be better. The rest were pretty much the same, fighting for the top of the pace range or not quite that. I milked those 0.25 recoveries for all they were worth, running over 8:00 pace, and even walking for about 20 seconds each during the final 2. I certainly stick by my hypothesis that I can run about 10 seconds/mile faster when I have someone to push me, and I think I could have stayed in the 5:40s if Ben had been able to run the whole workout with me, but I sure couldn't get back down to that gear by myself. I was somewhat disappointed that I did not come anywhere near my best mile repeats, and that my average pace was "only" 10K race pace, but I am also trying to remind myself that I can't compare workouts run during 55 mile weeks (as was the case with my PR mile repeat workout) to workouts run during 80 mile weeks. It is also probably unfair to compare workouts run alone to workouts run with others. It was 68*, dew point 68*, so also not as nice as my 10K PR weather. I gave it my all out there under the circumstances! Sep. 25: 10 x 400 m of regression - splits of 1:25, 1:25, 1:25, 1:26, 1:27, 1:28, 1:28, 1:28, 1:29, 1:30 (goal range was 1:21-1:24). This was not my day! I think it was just the perfect storm of several things that were not conducive to a good workout: 71* with a dew point of 71*, tiredness, GI issues/a minor stomach bug, and a calf niggle. This wasn't the first time I couldn't hit my 10K pace on 400 m repeats and probably won't be the last time either, bahaha! This was one of those workouts I just had to laugh about in order to not be upset about...you can't win 'em all, and I sure can't seem to win at 400 m repeats this year! Doubles on Sep. 6, 10, 12, 18, 19, 24, and 25. Strides on Sep. 2, 13, 20, 27, 28, and at least few before races and workouts. Full body strength workouts - Like last month, I completed my full strength circuit twice per week and also did 5-10 minutes of core work more days than not. I also did some extra rehab exercises often for a couple of niggles I had this month. Favorite workout: I felt the best on the Sep. 12 fartlek, which coincidentally also had by far the best weather! Albani came outside at the end of a run we'd all started from my house, so got in Amy's daily Lululemon photo with us! Long Runs: Sep. 9: 17.5 miles via 3 warm up, the Plaza 10K, and 8.25 cool down. This sure didn't feel like a 17+ mile day, thanks to my post-PR high and the company of Michelle, Jessi, and Janell on the cool down. I brought chews and a gel on the cool down...I have learned my lesson about hungry cool downs! Janell ate an apple on the cool down, which I found quite impressive. Sep. 15: 18.5 miles (6:52). Let the true long runs really begin! I had company the first 9 miles (Ben, Claudio, and Missy), and then finished it up solo. I ran this fasted, although I carried a just-in-case gel. I felt strong throughout this one! Sep. 21 (Friday): 16.2 miles (7:16). I ran this one a day early due to our weekend plans, and I didn't feel as perky for it as I usually do for long runs. Usually I run 4 miles on Fridays, which my coach calls my "rest day", and it truly makes a difference. I didn't feel bad on this one, but just didn't have as much pep in my step or glycogen in my muscles. I had Missy with me for about 10 miles, and Rebecca for 8 miles, and it went by quickly. It was what I presume will be my last summer weather run, at 75*and 90% humidity (I will welcome cooler temps and lower humidity, but I also believe I get a lot of training gains from running in crap weather). All in all, it is always great to knock out a nearly 2 hour run before work! Sep. 29: 16.2 miles via 3.1 warm up and the Indy Women’s Half. I missed my cool down mileage, but I couldn’t even walk to the car after the race, so there was no chance. I didn't run long on September 1 because I ran that one a day early on August 31, which in turn got me to a monthly mileage PR in August while subtracting from my September mileage total...but no regrets because with September having only 30 days and 2 of my goal races, it meant no chance for a monthly mileage PR anyhow (plus I lost miles on Sep. 29-30). Favorite long run: Since there were only two outside of races, I choose the longer - the 18.5 miler! Smiles from Miles from Mentor group members (we need a Hoka One One sponsorship!) Highlights/thoughts/randomness: On Sep. 13 I experienced a first, when a horse that was out of its fence followed my friend Missy and I during our early morning 10 miler. I've encountered cattle out of their fences before, but this was the first horse. Our conversation went something like this: "OMG, Sara, it's chasing us, what do we do?!"- Missy. "Just keep running, I don't want to stop my watch!"- me. I knew there was nothing we could do to return the horse to where it belonged, plus it was unclear where it actually belonged (we were between about 10 different farms), so I told Missy to call the non-emergency number for the county sheriff. When she did, they told her to call 911, so she did that to report the horse's location. It was a dangerous situation for the horse and any oncoming traffic (although there is really no traffic on this road, it was about a half mile from a highway). We continued our run after it stopped chasing us, so I hope it was returned to the appropriate location safely, but I know enough to know not to try to handle an unfamiliar large animal! Missy also thought to snap pictures of me while she was freaking out; if I'd have known she was taking them I'd have turned off my headlamp. Another random first - I found a completely unopened scrapbooking pack laying in the road at the end of a lunch run from my office. Too bad it wasn't one I'd like to use! I had to pick it up for the pure weirdness of it though. The last 10 or so days of the month I had a calf issue, which really blew up at the Indy Women’s Half (I limped through 9 miles of the race). I had a hamstring niggle I was able to train through in late August/early September, and it completely resolved with some extra attention to strengthening and rolling, but the calf thing didn’t respond as well, and by trying to race on it I doomed myself to some days off, in addition to strengthening, stretching, foam rolling, and ART. I plan to write a separate blog about this also, because hindsight is 20/20 and I know exactly what I did wrong during the final week of the month (the race was the nail in the coffin, but I made a few other errors as well). Hopefully others can learn from my mistakes! RIP to my running streak - January 27, 2018 to September 29, 2018. I never streak just to streak, and even if I did, I could barely walk on September 30 so there would have been no chance! You can't say I'm not visible! I was also returning to over- dressing for heat adaptation on this 70 degree run Not horsing around Found on my run... Life events: We had events every weekend this month! Labor Day weekend we traveled to Arkansas to visit a friend, visit the fun Bentonville area, and to race a 10K. This was our fourth year in a row doing this, so it's become a tradition that I'm not willing to give up, even though it's not an ideal match with running the Plaza 10K 6 days later. The weekend of September 8-9 I traveled to Kansas City to run the Plaza 10K and to work at our Kansas City division. Albani had her 11th birthday bash on September 15 at the Ozark Community Center pool. Her actual birthday was on September 18, which was also her school picture day. After running mile repeats I still managed to curl her hair. Jon and I celebrated our anniversary on September 17...he got me a trip to Sacramento at the beginning of December, which was exactly what I asked for (CIM!). The weekend of September 22-23 we traveled to Southeast Kansas for a community event fundraiser for one of Jon's closest friend's family members who has Lou Gehrig's disease (more details here). The last weekend of the month I made the trek to Indianapolis with my parents, to run the Indy Women's half. We had some other fun planned afterward, but ended up heading back home post-race since both my mom and I were having problems walking...it was not our finest day! My mom made this; the photo was taken after the Tiger Trot 2016 I got to dine with my 7-year-old nephew while in Kansas City Pool party Joyful Birthday + school picture day Excuse the dead plants in the background Bandit is still nearly as big as Albani! Crazy amazing slip and slide I was in awe I can't convince everyone to plunch (planks at lunch) with me, at work so sometimes I just ask people to lay on my office floor & chat while I do daily core, hah! She wore this medal for 2 days straight + our cat is huge Our Sep. 30 visitors Family photo to close out the month