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November 2017 in review! Total mileage for the month: 267.7 - the marathon taper really ate some mileage! (in comparison: January - 261, February - 212, March - 203, April - 219, May - 249, June - 205, July - 275, August - 301, September - 271, October - 323) Oct. 30-Nov. 5: 70.2 Nov. 6-12: 80.7 (peak mileage week & my first time to hit 80!) Nov. 13-19: 64.0 Nov. 20-26: 53.3 Nov. 27-Dec. 3: projected at 52ish (26.2 of this being The Big Race!) Races: Nov. 5: Bass Pro Half Marathon in 1:23:53. I adjusted my goal pace to marathon goal pace due to the weather (72*, dew point of 70*, 15-25 mph S wind), and couldn't quite hit that but I got the overall female win! Bass Pro Half - relieved to be finished! The best designed & fitting shirt the race has ever had Workouts: Nov. 7 - 8 x 0.25 hill repeats with jog back downhill recoveries (3ish warm up, 1ish cool down). I did not feel nearly as bad as I expected I would on this one, being 2 days after the Bass Pro half (when I initially saw it on my training schedule I thought, "Whaaaaat?! Whyyyyy?"). Hill repeats are always beasts, and I always huff and puff like crazy on them, but I managed a solid effort, with all of my grade adjusted paces sub-6:00. I ran these back and forth in a "bowl", so did 4 repeats were on one hill and 4 on another. Each of the hills climbs about 100 feet in 0.25 mile, but one starts off steeper then gets more incline-y, and the other is a more constant grade, so I think they both have benefits. It's always somewhat discouraging to have my heart pounding near max when I'm running 7:0X pace, so I'm glad that Strava does GAP to confirm that my effort was there! Nov. 16 - 10 x 800 m with 2:45-2:50 jog recoveries (2.1 warm up, 2 cool down, for 12 total) in: 2:54, 2:54, 2:55, 2:55, 2:56, 2:57, 2:58, 2:58, 2:59, 2:58 (average 2:56) for a really solid regression run, haha! While I couldn't come anywhere near my goal splits for this workout, I finished it. I was proud of myself for not walking away when it became blatantly clear that I was not going to hit any reps in my goal tange or even close. My goal was to start at 2:50 and work down to 2:45, but I simply didn't have it. I sure learned why my coach typically puts an entire week between the 24 miler and this workout; I believe the schedule switch we made in this cycle will be better for my marathon, but it also resulted in me bombing these 800s (although I've also bombed them twice before even being a week removed from the 24, so really it's just tradition at this point!). I never felt like I was running fast, but my legs sure wouldn't move any quicker. Guess I should have run the final repeat in 3:00 to have a perfect positive split, but halfway through my goal became to just keep the rest under 3:00 -- and I sure had to fight for that! I averaged 2:54 on this workout before Phoenix, so this one wasn't hugely horribly worse, but I like to think I'm much more fit now and my marathon goal is bigger now. When I ran this before Phoenix I had a fantastic day; this time around my day was craptastic but I hung on the best I could. Hopefully I can replicate the former type of day on marathon day, but if not at least I now have practice hanging on and rallying for a back-up plan. Nov. 19 - 17 miles with a 5 mile progression, described below. Nov. 23 - 20 x 400 m in 5 sets of 4 reps with 2:00 between reps and 3:00 between sets, 2.1 warm up, 1.5 cool-down for 13.6 total). This workout used to terrify me, but this was the fourth time I've done it (read about the other times here, here, and here), so it's become less scary. It is still a million laps on the track though! My goal split range was 1:23-1:27, and I ran all of them in 1:24-1:26. It was 17* and I had a lot of fumbles with my watch's lap button caused by my thick mittens, so some of my splits are a second or so slow (I remembered when some of the fumbles were and noted them). It was definitely a day I needed someone else to take my splits -- lesson also learned: suffer and wear the gloves if you're going to be pressing the lap button 40 times! My recorded splits were: 1:26.2, 1:26.5, 1:26.8, 1:27.4 (major mitten fumble here so I'm counting it as a 1:26), 1:24.5, 1:24.8, 1:25.3 (fumble), 1:24.5, 1:24.2, 1:24.1, 1:24.4, 1:24.9 (fumble), 1:24.2, 1:24.3, 1:25.1, 1:25.5 (fumble), 1:25.3 (fumble), 1:25.1, 1:25.3, 1:24.6 (fumble) - for an average of 1:25.15, but I am going to say I hit at least 1:24.9 fumble-graded! This was a lifetime best on this workout, improving on my pre-Phoenix average by about 1.3 seconds, even with the mitten-induced timing issues (which for me is A LOT in a 400), in conditions that were not as good this time. It was "feels like" 17*, and I felt like I could run 1:24s all day but I couldn't speed up from there. My core got warm but everything else stayed cold! Maybe I can also get a half of a second subtracted for running in layers of clothing, haha! And my final asterisks are that it was pitch dark and I was running solo. I've usually had this workout 1 week before my marathon (therefore on a weekend when I could run it in daylight), but I asked to do it sooner this cycle because I felt like 1 week was too close to my race, and it takes your body about 9 days to get training gains from a workout; if I'm running these crazy repeats I sure want to reap the benefits on race day! Overall I was happy (but also know I can do better in the future - surprise). While the 400s aren't super fast, the sheer volume of this workout makes it a doozy! During the final reps of this workout, I was telling myself, "Sara, you've got to get that 2:45 so you don't have to run this workout again until 2020," hahaha! November 28 - 2 mile tempo in 6:12, 5:54, 0.5 recovery, 0.5 mile tempo in 2:51 (3 warm up, 1.3 cool down). I was a bit faster than I was supposed to be on these after mile 1, and I had a hard time reigning it in. I remembered why people start out too fast when they are rested! This was my first I-feel-fresh workout in quite some time, and the timing of it was impeccable because I was dealing with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (more info on that here), and this run showed me that sub-6:00 could feel relatively easy while I was feeling the dizziness and nausea from that. This was a comfort because I might still be experiencing those symptoms on marathon day, so as odd as it sounds I ended up being glad I felt that way going into this run, because after I ran it well I was no longer worried that the vertigo would hurt my race. I just kept telling myself that there was not anything physically wrong with me and that my inner ear was just playing tricks on my brain. Doubles on Nov. 2, 7, and 9. My doubles disappeared when my taper started! Strides on Nov. 2, 5 (pre-race), 9, and 14. Bootcamp (full body strength workouts) on Nov. 6, 13, 20, plus enough additional strength here and there to hit at minimum 90 minutes of strength work total per week for the first 3 weeks. The week of Nov. 20-26 was my last period of any strength training prior to CIM, although I did some planks during taper just for the sake of routine, Favorite workout: Ummmm...it feels so wrong to pick the 400s, but I'm going to have to go with them since my legs were tired for every other workout! My new visibility gear, since most of my running is at 5:30 a.m.! Long Runs: Nov. 5: 18.2 miles total with the Bass Pro Half Marathon, described here. Better than doing a long tempo on my own! Nov. 12: 24.53 miles (6:50) - The Long One with 21 steady, 3 progressive fast finish, then running to 2:47:56 so that hopefully this was my longest time on feet for the season. I went back and forth on going to 2:47 or 2:48, and ended up just stopping when I noticed I'd hit 24.5. The logistics of this run were harder than the actual run, which is saying something! I figured out a way to start at my house, meet Rebecca at the location we usually start at 3 miles from my house, run a 6 mile loop with her, meet Daniel at the same location, run an 12 mile out-and-back with him, then have 3 miles back to my house, with 1.5 miles of difficult terrain followed by 1.5 miles of flatter terrain for the fast finish portion. I told Daniel that if we do this again I would figure out a way to meet him a mile earlier to avoid the hilly fast finish (the first mile particularly had a lot of uphill/incline)! I also managed to have 4 drink opportunities from 2 bottles with carrying 1 bottle or the other for about 4 miles total - carrying them to drink on the run and to drop at another fluid stop on the planned course. I was proud of myself for coordinating it all, and also proud of my 3 fast finish miles that were 6:35, 6:16, 6:10 (grade adjusted paces of 6:27, 6:14, 6:07 -- my goal paces for them were 6:30, 6:20, 6:10). However, those were hard and did not inspire confidence that I could run a whopping 26.2 miles around that pace. The 21 miles before that felt nice though! The whole run went by super fast, and I didn't feel as run down/depleted after it as I have after some of my other really long ones, possibly because I fueled more before and during. I also never stopped my watch after I started, which meant picking up bottles from wherever while on the run, mainly the ditch. I was prepared to keep my watch going if I had to stop to pee, but luckily I didn't have to go that badly (the key on that seems to be getting up more than 20-30 minutes before starting the run; who knew?). Nov. 19: 17 miles (6:50) with 10 at MGP +40 sec., 5 progression (6:45, 6:39, 6:33, 6:25, 6:19), 2 cool down. The good news was that 17 miles felt short; the bad news was that my progression wasn't as quick as I'd hoped for. I was supposed to do 10 at 7:00ish, and those felt relaxed and great, and then I was to drop about 10 seconds/mile to finish around goal marathon pace -- so 6:50, 6:40, 6:30, 6:20, 6:10, although I was hoping to be about 5 seconds under those times. This workout was mediocre; not bad but not stellar, and I just didn't feel like I had the reserves or pop that I usually do on fast finish runs. I was running into a headwind the final 4 miles, and that didn't help either. But at least it wasn't as bad as the 10 x 800 workout three days prior, and I'm chalking it up to feeling the fatigue from my peak mileage week and the 24.5 miler, which immediately followed racing the Bass Pro half (the 10 x 800 workout 3 days before this probably didn't help either!). The taper arrived just in time to avoid over-training! Nov. 26: 11.3 miles (7:42). When I saw this on my schedule, I thought I would have a difficult time stopping at 11, but during the actual run I wanted to stop at 3! I would have swapped this with Nov. 27's shorter run had it been any other week. I was at the worst of my bought with vertigo but did not know what was wrong with me yet. I just knew I was nauseous and dizzy, and with every step I kept thinking about how awful I felt which sure did not help. I finished nearly in tears and told Jon that I wasn't sure I could even run the marathon. More details on this freak occurrence ailment here. Favorite long run: There is no choice but to choose the 24.5 miler. Highlights/thoughts/randomness: Albani attended a USATF Run, Jump, Throw clinic hosted by World Championship silver medalist and Olympian Courtney Frerichs! Courtney is from Nixa, Missouri -- right around the corner from where I live. I stopped drinking coffee on Nov. 11. Caffeine is a confirmed performance-enhancer, and this season I've been consuming it (via nuun energy) before races and key workouts, and certainly do get a boost. Historically I've taken gels with caffeine during marathons (and will again at CIM). If you over-use caffeine, it loses some of its performance enhancing benefits, so I do not have it before most runs. However, I was drinking 1-2 cups of coffee every morning after running, and I love sipping it while getting ready and while driving to work, especially after cold runs! In addition to the coffee, some days I would have a nuun energy (before or after running, depending on the run), and some days a cup of tea or two at work. When I stopped the coffee, I limited myself to one cup of caffeinated tea each morning and nuun energy only before my 10 x 800, 15 mile progression run, and 20 x 400 m workouts, then on Nov. 26 I switched to decaf tea only (e.g., no caffeine between Nov. 26 and now, planned through Dec. 2). It ended up not being difficult at all; I think a bit part of my coffee habit was just wanting a warm drink, and tea fit that bill! Even if this gets me a mere 10 seconds at CIM, it was worth it. I also have plans to pick back up with my morning cup on Dec. 4, but if I feel the caffeine taper was helpful I'll do it again for future goal races. No days off in November = no surprise (my last day off running was June 19). Will I take a day off after CIM now that I'm addicted to this streak? We will see...but if I don't there will be several days of 1 mile total at 9:00 pace for certain. My Kansas City Half award came in the mail, personalized (photo below). The Bass Pro Half proved to be the race that kept on giving, in that I kept getting more and more race photos that I actually liked (most likely because I did not like my finishing time). Albani with Courtney Frerichs Courtney complimented her on her hurdling skills! KC Half award Bass Pro finishing shot (sad about no tape to break though!) Bass Pro just finished (happy to be done!) Covering the 1 on the plaque with my fingers like a pro, hah Non-running life events: Thanksgiving, of course. We chose and cut our Christmas tree from my in-laws farm the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We also started decorating for Christmas, which seems kind of wrong before December. Albani got bunk beds, after my husband said a few years ago we were never bunking her beds (I've wanted to bunk them since we got them from my brother-in-law, but she had to talk him into it). Give thanks in all circumstances Give thanks with a grateful heart Our Christmas tree (re: her hair - it was windy!) I had to re-string lights on two of these deer Bandit was pleased with the new arrangement too Well, I've been building this foundation for months... The foundation has been built...now onto CIM