Sunday, July 31, 2016

Questioning Myself


There is no denying that this week has been a challenging one for me.  Monday was the first day of my cycle, which generally throws off my mood, motivation and eating habits.  I postponed Monday’s run to Thursday and that would never happen anyway.

I managed to get Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday in with not too much trouble. But my LR was scheduled for Saturday and good gravy I did not want to do it.  I should note that I have not slept well this week, and I have also stayed up too late. I stayed up way too late Friday night watching Madam Secretary.  I love that show!

Saturday I got up with my kiddo and lounged around.  I was hungry and I ate and had my coffee which I generally do not do before a run.  That was the beginning of the end.  It was hot, I was tired and it just was not happening.  After many frustrating conversations with myself, Greg tried to pep talk me out the door.  No dice.  I settled on skipping it and promising I would do it Sunday.

Some of those conversations were focused on “Why am I doing any of this? It’s hard.  I’m tired.  It’s taking so much of my time. I could be sleeping. I could be putting less pressure on myself. What’s the point anyway?”  I reached out to our FB group for a pep talk and got what I needed.  What a fine bunch of ladies I have out there!  So, I would run Sunday…

That was a mistake. Isn’t it always?  I woke up Sunday after another terrible night’s sleep; I wound up in the kiddo’s room for most of it and his mattress is…firm.  And it was raining. Hard.  Which meant no outdoor run for me.  Usually the rain is not a deterrent, but for 2 hours and 24 minutes, this steady rain was enough to keep me on the treadmill.  My training plan has given us maximum and minimum run times for our long runs.  Today’s minimum was 75 minutes. 

That was all I did.  And you know what?  I am okay with it. I got what I needed, I got myself moving and I am committed to this plan.  I will get my runs in while I am on vacation, and I will be ready for this marathon in October.  Hartford, I’m coming for you!

Monday, July 25, 2016

It Isn’t Easy

Yesterday’s long run called for 3 hours, or 16 miles whatever came first.  Let me tell you, it was not 16 miles.  It was almost 12.

I woke up at 6 but did not manage to get myself out of the house until closer to 7.  I was having a hard time motivating myself.  I did not want to go, I don’t know why. I usually enjoy my runs but this one I was dreading.  I posted on my HRT FB Group and some of the other ladies rallied to help me get out the door.

It was nice and cool, still in the 60s.  I had prepped my hydration pack the night before, filled it most of the way and then threw some ice cubes in.  Out the door I went.

I tried to settle in to my miles and put the thoughts out of my head.  “Why am I doing this?  Maybe the marathon was a mistake. These runs are so long, I’m away from my husband and kiddo. It’s only going to get harder.  This is miserable. I am hot.  I am tired.  I want to quit.”

Eventually I was able to put that out of my head and move.  The first hour flew by pretty quickly.  I bargained with myself that instead of going out for an hour and a half, I’d go out for an hour and fifteen, and then run inIMG_4468 the opposite direction at the start of the trail to make up the difference.

When I struggle on a run, I make a point to look around and appreciate where I am and what I’m doing.

The trail I run on is nothing particularly remarkable, but being outside is a gift.  Having a place to run is a gift.  Being able to run is a gift. I don’t ever want to forget that.

I finished out my run and spent the rest of the day palling around with my hubby and kiddo.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Feelin’ Hot!


This weekend the North East is under a “heat dome”.  Which is as miserable as it sounds.  Greg installed the air conditioners last night, we have one in the kitchen and one in the bedroom and they cool our living space pretty well.  Generally neither of us likes AC,  but with just how hot it is, we needed some relief.

I had big plans of getting up early this morning (5:30) and heading out for my LR of 16 miles or 3 hours and 12 minutes by 6am.  The toddler wound up in our bed, and we all slept until 8am.  I guess this means my LR will be tomorrow.  It’s not ideal, but my body needed the extra sleep.

Monday starts my vacation time for the summer and I cannot wait! I am looking forward to being able to get my runs in when I want, and where I want.  I can take myself up into the mountains, or around a lake because I will have extra time to drive and get there.  The week after that we are headed to NC to see my folks.  If I’m complaining about the heat now…..

Overall, training is going well.  I have started to see my HR steady out over my runs, and have found on some runs that I am able to keep running and bring my HR back down.  There have been a couple of times where that has worked better than slowing to a walk!  I am fascinated by this process and cannot wait to see the end results.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Why are you running so slow?!

Alternately titled, what is HRT and why are you doing it?

The marathon distance intimidates me.  But that is all the more reason I signed up to do one.  Once upon a time the idea of lacing up my shoes and leaving the house at all intimidated me.  And here we are!

I have followed quite a few AMR training plans.  I enjoy the books, I enjoy the podcasts and I have been super happy with the intelligent, easy to understand plans they have put together.  So when I listened to the intro podcast with MK, it seemed only natural that I'd at least check it out.

Fun fact: I have a tattoo on my left wrist of a compass.  I got it last summer after a lot of thought about what and where I wanted it.  Ultimately I decided on a compass because it reminds me to keep exploring.  Exploring myself, exploring new things and new places.  One thing I am proud of myself for is that I am willing to try new things.  I enjoy learning something new.  If I hadn't been open to trying new things, I never would have started running.  This is in line with why I've decided to pursue a marathon distance and why I chose HRT to do it.  They are both total unknowns to me.  I trust AMR and was willing to try something brand new.

A brief overview - basically, my runs are primarily time based, not mile based.  I have to keep my heart rate under 140 beats per minute (I have a little cushion, up to 142) and that's that.  It is obviously way more complicated than that and I really recommend the HR 101 podcast that AMR put out if you're curious.  But those are my general focus on a run.  I have a warm up that I do, and some strength training moves afterward.  Some runs have accelerators and pick ups in them and I do those as instructed.  It's not perfect, I don't always do all of the things all of the time but more often than not I am doing what I should be.

I drank the kool-aid, I listened to the podcasts and I settled in.  If I am going to do this, I am going to do it all the way.  I dropped pace from the display on my watch, and now only run with my HR and time displayed.  That helps tremendously.

There are times where I hate the whole thing.  There are times when I want to quit and tell my HR to shove it.  And then I look at my week.  I've run 5 days consistently for the last 8 weeks, I am getting up early in the morning to run. I just keep getting up and doing it.  I am uninjured, I am not flat-out on my back exhausted all the time and more and more I am running instead of shuffling.  My long run yesterday was 2 hours and 48 minutes or 14 miles, whichever comes first (confession: it wasn't 14 miles).  I finished that, and was still able to be engaged and present with my family.  Which means chasing a toddler - in the past, a run that long would have put me down and out for the afternoon.

My wave of training isn't even halfway there yet and I am so curious as to what the next 11 weeks will bring.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Never Say Never

Once upon a time I distinctly remember saying "I have no desire to run a marathon".  And even "I will NEVER run a marathon. I just cannot imagine reaching the finish point of a half and only being halfway."

Open mouth, insert foot.  Because guess what I'm doing?  Yup, marathon training.  Truly I blame the Mother Runners.  They keep putting out great training plans and challenges.  I got wind of this heart rate training "thing" they were doing.  I listened to them talk about it on a podcast and was intrigued.  This did not sound terrible, it sounded like if I followed the plan that I could survive a marathon.

So I lost my mind for a minute, or five and registered for the Hartford Marathon!  I debated between that and the Mohawk Hudson Marathon.  Hartford won out because it's on a Saturday and I would have Sunday to recover before having to work on Monday.  And Hartford was far enough away that it justified staying over the night before.  And maybe it's a little flatter than MHM?!

Training officially started the week of May 23 and the 20 week plan will take me right up to race day.  It has me running 5 days a week which I have never done before, and wearing a heart rate monitor.  I had been looking to upgrade from my Garmin 305 which is still great but quite large on my wrist and I wanted something with a little bit more technology.  After quite a lot of research, I bought a Polar M400 and haven't looked back!  I love it's ease of use, I love that it will send me smart notifications of texts etc. while I am running so I don't have to dig my phone out of my armband to see what's going on.

Heart rate training is a challenge like I have never experience before.  It requires lots of slow running.  At first I would not even call it running.  Shuffling perhaps.  It can be discouraging because it doesn't "feel" hard.  Mentally, it may be the hardest thing I have ever done.  I am 8 weeks in and I am seeing improvements.  More importantly, I am running five days a week and am not injured or exhausted to the point of not being able to function.  Long runs are long, but I don't feel like the rest of my day has to be laying on my bed.  With a toddler this is super important.

Marathon training has meant a lot of early morning runs which can be a little boring.  It's hard to get up, and the safest place for me to run at that time is around my neighborhood.  It's about a mile loop around.  I did my long run last weekend in the 'hood and ran for 2 hours and 24 minutes.  I did reverse the loop at the halfway point which helped.

Our AMAZING Coach is Mary Katherine Brooks Fleming and she is fabulous.  The HR Training podcasts she and Dimity have been turning out are just what I need to keep me moving.  The science makes sense and her personality is so energizing.

I am excited to document the rest of this journey and see where training takes me!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Where do we go from here?

After the Classic I didn't run for a week.  Not a mile.  And it felt good.  It was a busy time of year for me, socially and at work so it was nice to have some (well deserved) quiet time.  A toddler makes that time particularly sweet.

So what was the next logical step?  Another local half I'd never run two weeks later.  I figured I was still trained, I felt strong and was uninjured - it couldn't hurt!  Well, yes it could but I was likely to survive it.  My cheer squad couldn't be at this one, as we were scheduled to attend a party.  Greg graciously agreed to take the kidlet and I could meet them later.

I knew this half would have plenty of rolling hills, and it was likely to be much warmer.  I opted for an open back t-shirt, shorts and regular socks.  I carried my own water, and was ready to go!  The race started around 8:30 according to my Polar M400.  I started out slow, having learned not go out too fast like I did in Kingston.  It was warm.  As in, very warm.  I took some water from the aid stations because it was colder than my handheld which I had forgotten to freeze.  There was a decent amount of shade, but that almost made the sunny bits that much more painful.  Overall it was a beautiful course, great scenery and nice course support.  It was well marked, and there were no points where I wasn't sure of where I was going.

110:08 /mi10:01 /mi11 ft160 spm
210:07 /mi10:35 /mi-73 ft164 spm
310:55 /mi10:44 /mi17 ft162 spm
410:44 /mi10:43 /mi-13 ft164 spm
511:32 /mi10:43 /mi69 ft162 spm
610:20 /mi11:31 /mi-160 ft166 spm
711:54 /mi10:46 /mi110 ft160 spm
811:10 /mi11:04 /mi-1 ft162 spm
911:04 /mi10:46 /mi23 ft168 spm
1011:32 /mi11:29 /mi-20 ft166 spm
1111:23 /mi10:55 /mi39 ft162 spm
1211:13 /mi11:31 /mi-49 ft158 spm
1312:17 /mi11:41 /mi55 ft158 spm
0.211:01 /mi11:12 /mi-7 ft168 spm

Does anyone else see the trend here?  I'm solid until mile 7/8.  This is where the hills set in as well as you can see, or just after.  I found two women who appeared to be running my pace-ish and tucked in with them.  They welcomed me warmly and we chatted a bit between breaths.  None of us were much for talking which was fine with me.  The occasional comment or joke, but otherwise just the sound of feet falling.  A few times I fell behind and they'd look back for me.  I hung in there with them until about mile 12, and then I just couldn't.  I think my mistake was slowing down around mile 10, and I couldn't find the speed again.  Looking back, I wish I had pushed myself to hang with them. 

Around mile 12.5 I spotted a runner in a Oiselle singlet bra top and yelled "Yeah Oiselle!" to her, she smiled; she was deep into her marathon at that point and looking strong.  After some stalking later, I'd friend her on Instagram and discover it was Mollie Turner who took 1st for the women overall in the marathon.  I had recently gotten my Oiselle Volee acceptance and was super excited to spot another bird in the wild.  She's an amazing runner and I have great admiration for her.  I also love that she's local-ish to me!  We're friends in my head....and on Instagram and Strava.

Approaching the finish line, I was hurting.  I had taken many walk breaks at this point but I knew I wanted to be running when I hit the fairgrounds where the finish was.  I also knew that I'd be crossing it by myself and had a moment of "EVERYONE IS WATCHING ME!".  The crowd was super kind and cheered me in.  I immediately found the two women I'd run with to congratulate them.  I don't know that I would have been able to get through those middle miles without them.

My chip time was 2:27:10.  I was pretty pleased considering this wasn't my goal race, and I'd raced two weeks before.  I learned again, that I need to work on my second half of a race and find a way to finish strong.  When I looked up my race photos a few days later I was shocked - great pictures! I never take great race photos and I was really happy with most of these.  I ordered some, to stick in my scrapbook because good race shots are rare! I would definitely run this race again,  I am fortunate that there are a bunch of local races that really put on a great day.  Though I do lust after a flat race.  I wonder how my performance would be minus the hills.  Some day..... 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Kingston Classic 2016

The race was April 24.  I appreciate Saturday races as it gives me an additional day to recover!  We started around 7:30.  It was about forty degrees and I had my long sleeved lulu tech shirt on, my shorts, gloves and compression socks.  In retrospect I could have done arm warmers and short sleeves because toward the end I wanted to ditch my sleeves.

My A goal was to come in under 2:20, my B goal was to come in under 2:25.  My secret impossible goal was to come in under 2:15.  If you're not familiar with the course it is very hilly at a particular point.  I've driven the route and I knew this.  I figured if I could manage the Minnewaska half, this would be okay too. Mile 8 is where I was undone.  175 feet of climbing with no reprieves.  It's a smaller race so by this point I was largely on my own.  I wanted to HUG the people halfway up that had some fun signs, and were cheering because I was dying.

My splits to that point had been in the 10s - miles 1 and 2 were in at 9s (I went out too fast...when will I learn?) and mile 8 is a 12:18mm.  It was downhill, both literally and figuratively from there.  There was a bit more climbing and a lot of self doubt.  I got into my own head and could not get out.  I was getting more and more discouraged the more I looked at my watch.


19:54 /mi9:55 /mi-5 ft 
210:22 /mi9:57 /mi50 ft 
311:12 /mi10:33 /mi47 ft 
410:37 /mi10:44 /mi-25 ft 
510:34 /mi10:47 /mi-44 ft 
610:55 /mi10:58 /mi-11 ft 
710:46 /mi10:44 /mi-2 ft 
812:18 /mi10:35 /mi175 ft 
910:57 /mi10:53 /mi-21 ft 
1011:18 /mi11:15 /mi-28 ft 
1110:56 /mi11:45 /mi-111 ft 
1211:29 /mi11:26 /mi-4 ft 
1311:35 /mi11:37 /mi-12 ft 
0.211:39 /mi11:40 /mi-2 ft 

As I hit mile 13, I heard the footfalls of someone behind me.  I hadn't seen anyone for quite some time and had no idea anyone was behind me.  It was a man, who I recognized from the start because he didn't "look" like a runner.  He looked like a weight lifter.  He said he'd been trying to catch me for two miles.  I was annoyed that he had.

He wanted to chat.  I was NOT in a chatting place.  I managed to squeak some words out but overall kept quiet.  Then we hit the track.  It was about a 50m stretch to the finish.  He picked up the pace and was going to leave me comfortably behind.  I decided that no, no he was not. And I gave it everything I had.  Some of it I did not even know I had.  The announcer noticed and started talking about my effort to close the distance - which alerted my target.  He saw me, and kicked a little harder.  He managed to cross the finish line just before me.  His time was 2:25:46 and mine was 2:25:47.  My Garmin had me in at 2:23:45, but my official time was the 2:25.

My two best guys were at the finish waiting for me.  That instantly made me happy.  I was happy that I had pushed hard at the end.  I was disappointed I hadn't pushed harder miles 8-13.  I had done some negative splitting on my training runs, but these hills just did me in.  Overall, I am very proud of myself.  I ran all winter, I followed a training plan, and I did improve my half time by quite a bit from Providence.  Overall, a win I say!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Cold Weather Runner!

Since I enjoyed my training plan from AMR, I signed up for a spring half challenge through them with my sights set on the Kingston Classic.  I started my training on January 25, which for those of you who may not be aware is winter here in the Hudson Valley.

Looking back, sometimes I don't even know how I did it.  We were blessed with a relatively mild winter and I invested in some good cold weather gear.  There is only one run where I had to bundle up with multiple layers, hat, neck gaiter and balaclava.  And it was one of my favorite runs of the winter.  Once upon a time I thought I was a warm weather runner, but the more I do it, the more I realize I prefer cooler temps for my running.  Also, winter running allowed me to justify purchasing a Yeti from Oiselle which is perfect for warming up after long, cold runs!

I followed my training plan, I used the treadmill when I had to and Greg was super supportive doing child wrangling while I went out for my runs.  I did get up a few mornings super early to get a run in, with all my gear.  Our neighborhood is great for running in the sense that there is not any through traffic, it's one road in and the same road out.  I light myself up like a Christmas tree with a headlamp, knuckle lights and off I go.  Some runs were later at night, after bedtime.  Same technique - ALL THE LIGHTS.

I discovered I love running in the snow, provided I am prepared for it.  It took me a while to figure out how to dress appropriately and not get overheated.  I am so grateful that we had a mild winter and that I was able to do most of my training outside.

I was really hoping the weather would hold going into April.  You never know with that crazy month.  Freak snow storms when it should be spring, torrential rains, anything goes!  My goal race was set for April 24 and it was fast approaching...was I ready?

Monday, July 4, 2016

Quick Recap of the Year

Last summer is when I really decided to get back into training.  I joined a challenge group hosted by the AMR crew to train for a 10k.  My goal was sub 60.  I was consistent with my training and found my groove being a full time working mom, and also making time to take care of my marriage and spending time with hubby.  It is not an easy feat balancing all of those responsibilities and fitting in running!  Summer is generally easier for me because my work schedule slows down and I have more flexibility in my days.

Race day came and I was super excited.  It was a 10K a little far from me, I had to drive an hour to get there.  It was on the chillier side of things, so we decided that I'd fly solo and the guys would hang at home and wait for me to return.  The race was not meant to be.  I reached the town where the race was, and there was a bit of traffic.  I stopped for some cars in front of me and got rear-ended quite hard.  Fortunately there was no damage to either car and the woman who hit me was also racing - dressed as a bride!  Got myself parked and headed to the bus that would take us to the start.  Who wound up sitting next to me, but the bride!  We chatted a bit and passed the time to the start.  I tried to keep warm while waiting by walking around and making one last minute potty stop.

And then we were off! I knew the course would be a bit hilly, and it was two loops of a cemetery.  Have I mentioned it was a Halloween 10k?  At the halfway mark, my splits were looking great - I was probably not going to come in under an hour, but I would be close. Next thing I knew, I was across the finish! And my Garmin showed me finishing in 50:21...WHOA!

Ten minutes under my goal time? 4.9 miles.  The course was short. Significantly short.  I heard other people complaining about it on the walk back to our cars.  I was so disappointed. It took a few weeks, but I did get an email explaining the course had been marked incorrectly. Boo. On the left you see what it should have been - on the right is what it was.

A few weeks later I decided to sign up for a last minute 1/2 at Lake Minnewaska.  I figured my 10K training would carry me. And it did - I ran this SUPER hilly (think mountains) course in 2:29 with 1,000 feet of elevation climb.  I ran the middle part of the race with a few other women and we chatted a bit.  It was a beautiful course, on a beautiful day.  I was happy with my time and overall performance.  It was a super challenging run and I hung in there.  That shot is from close to the finish line where a spectator yelled "only one more lap!" at me as I went by and made me laugh.

I decided to train through the winter for a spring half, hoping to improve my time some more.  How did that go? Stay tuned!