Race Recap: First Light Marathon

I’d like to call this race the ultimate dichotomy. It was not my day and it was my day. Confused? Read on …

I should probably start this recap at the start line of the race, but of course, I’d rather back up and start … somewhere else … perhaps at the beginning of the training cycle. If you’ve run a marathon, you know that there is so much more to a marathon than the race itself. This training cycle involved 5 friends (all training for the same race), 9 races, 35 workouts and 1,300 miles. Sharing the journey with friends made this one really special and I honestly think the camaraderie carried us to the finish line.

I started training for this race the first week in September. On paper, the training was a 9 week fundamental phase, a 9 week specific phase and a 1 week taper. In actuality, it probably looked more like a 9 week fundamental phase, a 5 week specific phase (culminating with pacing the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon) and then 5 weeks of chaos. I won’t rehash all of it, but basically I didn’t recover as quickly as I expected to from pacing the marathon, which caused me to miss a couple of key workouts and then I came down with a sickness that caused me to miss a couple of key weeks of training. No bueno.

I debated whether or not to even run the race and was |thisclose| to running the half instead of the full. In fact, I didn’t actually register until the week of the race (one of the many benefits of running a small, local race). Even when I did register, I knew that the chances of me running my “A” goal (< 3:00) were slim. I was oddly at peace with this. Somewhere along the way I realized that my time truly didn’t matter. Of course it feels great to set a goal and crush it, but it also feels great to run happy and without pressure. I went into the race with expectations of having a great day and enjoying myself. That is not to say I wasn’t prepared to work. I was prepared to fight. I knew the marathon would be tough regardless, but it was a challenge that I was ready to tackle.

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The temperature was a little under 30* at the start. I wore two pairs of socks, shorts, a long-sleeve shirt, a singlet, gloves and a toboggan (not a sled :)), oh and my Goodr sunglasses (I love those things!). I feel like I was dressed very appropriately. Part of me really wanted to run in tights, but I’m glad that I didn’t. My legs were definitely numb for the majority of the race, but I’m fairly certain that this was, in fact, a good thing.

My plan was to ease into the pace over the first couple of miles, maintain a smooth, steady pace through mile 11, run based on effort from miles 11 to 20 (the hilly section of the race … theoretically, the effort level should’ve stayed the same during this time, but the pace would naturally slow up the hills and speed up slightly down the hills) and run it home one mile at a time.

Here is what that looked like based on my mile splits:
Easing into it: 7:24, 7:05
Smooth and steady: 6:56, 6:58, 6:58, 6:54, 6:52, 7:07, 7:08, 6:50, 6:59
Effort based: 7:28, 7:24, 7:12, 7:21, 6:56, 7:28, 7:28, 7:57, 7:33
One mile at a time: 7:32, 7:40, 7:46, 8:04, 8:14, 8:21

I started the race with Alex and Young Daniel. We all trained for the < 3:00 goal and we planned to start out together and see where the day took us. We ran the first 3 or 4 miles together, which was great! For < 3:00, you need to maintain 6:50 pace for the entire race. I knew fairly early on that 6:50 wasn’t going to happen. I just couldn’t settle into a smooth rhythm where 6:50 felt comfortable. The way I see it, if your goal pace doesn’t feel comfortable for the first 10 miles of a 26.2 mile race, it’s either going to be a really long day if you try to force it or you can reassess and settle on a more manageable goal.

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I ran the first five miles of the race as part of the Grinder Gals relay team. This was my fifth year running as part of a relay team and so far we are five for five on winning our division. YAS! Having my team out there along the way was so nice! I got to see them every five miles (at 5, 10, 15 and 20) and they cheered for me and encouraged me every time. I handed the relay bracelet off to Lizzie at mile 5 and continued on my merry little way.

At this point, Alex and Young Daniel had pulled away, which was great. I knew that meant that they felt good. I saw Daniel briefly around mile 7 and I told him that I was going to reassess my goal. I didn’t really know what the reassessment was exactly, but I knew that < 3:00 wasn’t going to happen. I took a gel around mile 8. I grabbed a cup of water at the aid station and the water cup was probably 50% liquid and 50% ice. Brr!

Mile 9 was my best mile of the day. All of a sudden, I felt good! I really think it took me 9 miles to warm up. The funny thing is that the hills on the course start at mile 10 and so even though I felt good momentarily, I knew it was going to be brief. I started running based on effort (as planned) and I actually didn’t look at my watch for the remainder of the race. I knew I was doing what I could and the pace didn’t matter.

I saw Daniel again around the half way point of the race. I told him that I was good and that he should go on up and check on the other guys. He could ride up and check on Kenny and Cody, then make his way back to Alex, Young Daniel, me and Sasser. He was all over the place and took some great pictures in the process. He also deserves a special award because if we thought it was cold running, it was twice as cold on the bike. I’m pretty sure his hands were solid blocks of ice at the end of the race.

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Daniel with Young Daniel & Young Daniel’s dad, who jumped in and ran a couple of miles!

As I came through the relay exchange at mile 15, I gained an unexpected running buddy. Bowie paced Kenny for a few miles, but Kenny was crushing it and Bowie decided to drop back and run a few miles with me. I’m pretty sure my 7:20 (ish) miles felt much nicer than Kenny’s 6:20 (ish) miles at that point. Also at mile 15, my relay team caught up to me and Rebecca ran with us for a mile or so as well. You know how sometimes you are running a marathon and you are counting down every. single. mile. the entire way? I’ve been there many times, but yesterday … the miles just flew by (and it wasn’t because I was running fast by any means). I was just happy to be out there and to have friends supporting (and distracting) me.

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Since Rebecca was running her leg of the relay, she went on ahead to make the handoff to Jessica. I took another gel around mile 17. At mile 18, things got real. We came to the toughest hill of the course (half a mile at 7.5% incline). If Bowie hadn’t been there, I’m fairly certain that I would’ve been walking. Somehow I made it up that dang thing and kept on trucking.

Before I knew it, we were already at the next relay exchange at mile 20. Rebecca had just run 5 hard miles and when we came through the exchange, Bowie peeled off and she jumped in to run with me. She yelled back to our team, “Come pick me up in a few miles!” and I jokingly chimed in with, “ME TOO!” I was so ready to be done with the race. If someone had offered me a ride to the finish, I would’ve gladly accepted. The only thing motivating me at this point was that I thought I was winning the race for the females. It gets kind of confusing out there with all of the relay teams, etc. and I never had a bike escort or anyone really confirming for sure that I was in first place, but I thought I was.

Rebecca ended up staying with me for five miles. I can’t thank her enough for that. I can’t say that I was great company at that point, but we’ve run together enough that words aren’t really necessary. Just having her there meant so much. At that point in the race, my focus really was to get through one mile at a time. Every mile got me closer to the finish line and that’s all I cared about. Time meant nothing. Finishing meant everything.

Around mile 24, a girl zoomed by me. She didn’t have a bib on her back (all relay runners are supposed to wear two bibs … one on the front and one on the back so that delirious marathoners can distinguish who is who in the final miles of the race). I looked over at Rebecca and was like, “Is she relay?” We thought she was, but we weren’t sure. There was a brief pause and then Rebecca just went ahead and shouted out to the girl, “Are you relay?!” She hollered back, “Yes!” Whew. Not that I could’ve done anything about it at that point, but it was really nice to know that I didn’t need to do anything about it. Ha.

At mile 25, Rebecca peeled off and I was left with just ONE MILE. Hallelujah! One mile seemed doable. As I came down the finishing stretch, I had to do a double take because there was someone who looked a whole lot like my mom standing on the side of the road. Of course with my delirium, it could’ve really been anyone, but no … it wasn’t just anyone … it was my mom! She drove 3 hours that morning (a marathon of her own) just to see me finish the race. Apparently, she had a “feeling” that I was going to win and a mother’s intuition is ALWAYS right.

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Coming in for a hug ❤

After a brief hug, I crossed the finish line in 3:14:XX (official results aren’t posted yet) as first female! I was so happy! While this isn’t a marathon PR, it is a course PR by 9 minutes and it is the first time I have won the full marathon here. I made my way through the finishing chute and got my medal, a mylar blanket and lots of hugs from friends and family.

Shortly thereafter, I did a brief interview and I’m fairly certain this is the face I made when he asked me, “So, what’s next?” I’m pretty sure I answered with something very eloquent, along the lines of, “Oh geez. I have absolutely no idea.” Too soon man, too soon.

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I stumbled over to the car to put on all. the. clothes. and then we made our way back over to catch the awards.

I have to brag on my training buddies for a minute … Kenny finished second overall with a 2:48, Cody finished third overall with a 2:49 (a PR!), Alex finished under 3:00 (a PR!), Young Daniel finished in 3:03 (a PR!) and Sasser finished in 3:20 (his first marathon and a BQ!). Our relay team finished first overall in the female open division with a time of 3:08! I’m so proud of every single one of us. Training and racing together was truly a wonderful experience!

A friend pointed out that my time of 3:14 was appropriate because of this verse. I love it so much. Thank you Stacy for pointing this out.

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Perhaps it wasn’t just this race that was the ultimate dichotomy, perhaps it is the marathon itself. It simultaneously humbles you makes you feel like you can conquer the world.

FLM Sentiments

I just finished up my last mini-workout of the training cycle and I am feeling a little bit nostalgic, thinking back on all of the memories made along the streets of Mobile at the First Light Marathon over the years. I have participated in the First Light Marathon in some form or fashion since 2008! I have SO MANY wonderful memories associated with this race and I am getting really excited about this year’s race.

Here’s what it has looked like so far:
2008: Half marathon 2:00:43
2009: Half marathon 1:41:39
2010: Half marathon 1:42:07
2011: Full marathon 3:24:12 (my first marathon)
2012: Relay! 2:57:17 (female champs and a course record)
2013: Full marathon 3:23:26
2014: Relay! (female champs)
2015: Relay! (female champs)
2016: Relay! 2:54:52 (female champs and a course record)
2017: Half marathon 1:24:44 AND relay 2:50:XX (co-ed champs and a course record)

2018 is still TBD, but I will be running the full and also participating in the relay again (full and half marathon runners are allowed to run leg 1 of the relay). Having my friends (aka my relay team) out there all along the course is going to make for a really fun day! I also have 4 training buddies running the full and I am excited for each one of them. Daniel will also be out along the course on his bike offering emotional support to all of us. Ha.

I have a solid race plan (thanks to my fabulous coach) that includes easing into the pace over the first couple of miles, maintaining a smooth, steady pace through mile 11, running based on effort from miles 11 to 20 (the hilly section of the race … theoretically, the effort level should stay the same during this time, but the pace will naturally slow up the hills and speed up slightly down the hills) and running it home with heart, one mile at a time.

It’s going to hurt at times and it’s going to be uncomfortable at times, but for the entirety of the race, I will be out there doing something that I LOVE with some of my favorite people. It’s going to be a GREAT day!

Taper Training Logs

Hey friends!

It’s RACE WEEK! Like whoa. Also, I just realized that I forgot to actually post my training log here last week. Today will be a two-for-one and I must admit, it might be the two most boring weeks of running that I’ve done in quite some time.

In an attempt to make a long story short, I came down with the flu, bronchitis and laryngitis the week of Christmas. I missed my last three key workouts over the course of about 10 days. Really, if I look at the bigger picture, my training really hasn’t gone *as I expected it to* since the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon in early December. At this point, we’re just gonna go with the idea that I got a head start on my taper.

Since getting sick clearly wasn’t planned (it was just an unexpected thing that popped up that I couldn’t control), it disrupted my typical routine and shook my confidence a bit. Deep down, I know that it didn’t actually negatively impact my fitness as much as I am inclined think it did. Even though the last month hasn’t gone as planned, I still put in a lot of work over the course of the training cycle and I know that I am still strong and fit.

I went back and forth and back and forth some more as to whether or not I wanted to even do the marathon. If I still felt sick that would’ve been one thing, but at this point I feel confident that I am healthy. My reason for not wanting to run was that I don’t feel confident that I will hit my A goal (of < 3:00). What I really don’t want to do is give up and not go for something due to fear of “failure,” and let’s be real, not meeting my A goal does not mean automatic failure. I can’t predict how I will do on Sunday, but one thing is for sure, I will do my very best that day and that alone will be a success.

Here is what my training looked like the week of 12.25.17 – 12.31.17:

Monday – Easy: 6.25 miles (8:54 pace)
Tuesday – Off
Wednesday – Easy: 8 miles (9:03 pace)
Thursday – Easy: 8 miles (8:45 pace)
Friday – Easy: 7.5 miles (8:15 pace)
Saturday – Off
Sunday – Off

Here is what my training looked like the week of 01.01.18 – 01.07.18:

Monday – Easy: 6 miles (9:14 pace)
Tuesday – Easy: 8 miles (8:01 pace)
Wednesday – Off
Thursday – 10 miles (8:27 pace)
Friday – Tempo: 11 miles (7:16 pace)
Saturday – Easy: 6 miles (8:07 pace)
Sunday – Easy: 5 miles (8:38 pace)

Basically the last two weeks were filled with lots of treadmill miles (except for two runs) and purely easy miles (except for one tempo). I haven’t done a workout on the treadmill in ages and I actually really enjoyed it. I busted out my trusty old iPod and had a good ‘lil time. I did a 2 mile warm up, 8 tempo miles (6:56, 6:49, 6:43, 6:43, 6:43, 6:42, 6:42, 6:34) and a 1 mile cool down. I was thrilled with how that went, although my legs have been incredibly sore ever since. I registered for the marathon before I did my workout Friday morning and nailing that run was a HUGE boost for my confidence going into the race.

All that is left to do now is take it easy and relax! I am embracing the taper MUCH more this time around than I typically have in the past.

Happy New Year!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

It’s hard to believe that another year has come and gone. As we close out 2017 and move into 2018, it seems appropriate to do a little bit of reflecting. Regardless of whether or not you like to set New Year’s resolutions (I typically don’t), we likely come into the new year with some sort of “starting fresh” mentality. Looking back and reflecting on the previous year is great way to gauge your goals and plans for the upcoming year.

Looking back …

One of the perks of blogging is that it is fairly easy to look back and see exactly what went on during the year (assuming that you are fairly consistent with your posting). I managed to get at least one post per week most weeks this year. Two things that I consistently post are race recaps and monthly recaps. What can I say … I just enjoy a good recap.

As I’m sure you have gathered, running is a stable topic that I always have something to share about, so the majority of the time my posts are about running. While I do wish I had more time to write about other topics, that just wasn’t as doable last year. I am hopeful that I will have some time in the not-so-distant future to write more.

I became a Salty Running contributor in 2017 and so I am also posting over there occasionally as well these days. My favorite piece that I got to be a part of this year was #MeToo – Women Runners’ Experiences of Sexual Violence, Assault and Harassment. Check out their site and that piece if you haven’t.

Somewhat along those same lines (as far as the #MeToo piece), I also became an ambassador for run angel. Run angel is a personal safety wearable that emits a loud (120 decibel), high-pitched audible alarm when activated. It pairs with smart phone devices over Bluetooth to send out alerts in the event of an emergency. I first heard about run angel on Lindsey’s podcast and I knew immediately that it was a product and company that I would love to be part of.

If you listened to my episode of the podcast, I mentioned the deer that appeared in the woods the day of the attack and how the deer was in essence, an angel … my sign that everything was going to be okay and that God was with me (He always is). I love that this product is called run angel and when I wear it I remember the words of one of my favorite verses.

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As far as the actual running goes, I ran 3,520 miles this year. I did 24 races (the exact same as 2016 … I didn’t realize that until just now). The races ranged from 1 mile to 50K (31 miles!). The 1 mile and 50K distances are the only two distances that I managed to PR (and to be fair, it was my first 50K, so that one was going to be a PR regardless). I ran one full marathon, five half marathons, one 10 mile race, one 12K, three 10Ks, nine 5Ks, one 2 mile race and two 1 mile races (if you count the milk mile, which apparently I did last year, so just keeping it consistent here).

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The 2017 Gardner bling. Freshly organized and hot off the Christmas tree!

This time last year I mentioned that my goals for 2017 were to get a 5K and half marathon PR (basically I wanted all.the.PRs) and I also said that I had my eye on the one mile and two mile state records for my age. I came 2 seconds shy of a half marathon PR at First Light and I actually did come away with those age group records, so all in all, not too shabby I guess.

Aside from the actual racing, I also really enjoyed pacing a few races this year. I (informally) paced my friend, Jill, to a shiny half marathon PR in April, I paced two of my precious Girls on the Run gals to 5K PRs in October and I paced some random strangers during an (almost) marathon in December. I enjoyed every step of the way (up until the steps that were missing from the marathon).

Getting involved with Girls on the Run was definitely one of the highlights of the year. I still intend to do a proper post about the things that I learned from this experience.

If you missed out on any part of the year and are really bored, here are my monthly recaps!

January Recap
February Recap
March Recap
April Recap
May Recap
June Recap
July Recap
August Recap
September Recap
October Recap
November Recap
December Recap

There are also a few non-running related highlights from 2017. Arguably, the most notable would be that we bought a house! We found a house that we love in an area that we loved even more.

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We took a trip to Colorado, which was ahh-mazing. In fact, I tried several time to convince Daniel that we should sell the above-referenced house (and all of our belongings) and move to Colorado. He supports me in just about every way possible, but he did NOT support me in that decision. Sad.

Daniel completed his first half ironman!

Brooks turned six! He enjoyed lots of fetching, swimming, trotting and even did some “surfing” in 2017. There were also plenty of treats and belly rubs to go around and he most definitely rocked his Halloween costume (in my somewhat biased opinion).

We celebrated our 7th anniversary by getting each other the same card (I would say what are the odds, but puppies were involved, so I think the odds were extremely high).

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A few other favorites from the year …

Looking ahead …

As far as 2018 is concerned, the year will definitely start off with a couple of big events. One being the marathon that I have tirelessly trained for over the last 10?, 20?, 30? weeks. It seriously seems like I’ve been training for this race for about a year, but I know that isn’t really the case. Marathon training definitely requires A LOT of physical, mental and emotional energy. Thankfully, I have shared the training experience with some wonderful friends and training buddies and that has made the entire process much more enjoyable.

As far as running goals, obviously the marathon is on my brain right now. After recovering from the marathon, I think I will likely bring my focus back to some shorter stuff (like halfs) in the Spring and then maybe do a summer of speed again (with a one mile, two mile and 5K focus).

The other big event is the beginning of the Spring semester and my first official classes as a college professor. I am a tad anxious about that, just because it is a total career change and I basically have zero experience teaching. I am hopeful that it will be a good experience and that I can tap into my pre-existing knowledge of the subject matter and talk for 3 hours consecutively about taxes each week.

A few general goals come to mind. One is that I would like to read more this year, both for fun and for learning purposes. I’m not going to attach a quantifiable goals to this per say (such as one book per month). I just want challenge myself a bit mentally and I want to continue learning.

I would also like to write more this year. Again, no quantifiable goal here (such as 5 posts per month). I actually wrote over 75 posts here in 2017 and I also wrote a few on Salty Running as well. I would’ve thought that it was closer to 50, so that’s kind of surprising. I guess my goal would be to venture outside of my “safe” zone of training recaps and race reports. I will obviously continue to write them, just because I enjoy writing them and having them to look back on. I want to challenge myself to throw in a few posts about non-running related topics.

So far I’ve got reading and writing goals, so I guess I need an arithmetic goal now. Ha. I guess I will have to figure out this grading rubric sooner rather than later, so perhaps that is my current arithmetic goal. There we go, 2018 will be the year of reading, writing and arithmetic (with hopefully some running thrown in here and there :)).

That’s it for today. I hope you all have a safe, happy, wonderful new year! Talk to you soon!

December Recap

Hey-o!

Can you believe that the year is coming to an end? Me either! Wowza. It’s time to recap another month of running and randomness. I also have a nice little 2017 yearly recap post drafted up that I plan to publish soon, so check back for that one if you are so inclined.

Month Recap: December 2017

The Running

December was *supposed to be* the highest intensity month of training for the upcoming marathon (in two weeks). However, life happened and several of my workouts didn’t exactly go as planned. I needed a bit more time to recover from the marathon that I paced than we originally anticipated, so I missed a few workouts there, and then lo and behold, I came down with the flu and bronchitis the last week of the month. I am currently still sick and hoping to shake this thing here in the next few days. I honestly don’t know what this means for the marathon at this point. We shall see …

Workouts: I had several threshold runs and long runs this month.

5 mi. easy, 8 mile AT tempo (6:45 avg.), 5 mi. easy

1 mi. WU, 10 mile AT progression (6:42 avg.), 1 mi. CD

25.7 mile long run (7:47 pace)

2 mi. WU, 6 X 1 mile (6:28, 6:28, 6:36, 6:31, 6:38, 6:26), 2.5 mi. CD

20 mile hilly long run (8:12 pace)

1 mi. WU, 6 mi. wave tempo (6:53 avg.), 1 mi. CD

18 miles w/ 10 easy (8:07 avg.) + 8 brisk (6:58 avg.)

Favorite workout: My favorite workout was, without a doubt, the 10 mile AT progression workout. It was one of those days where the stars aligned and everything clicked. I left that workout feeling more confident than I had felt the entire training cycle.

Races: I paced the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon the second week of December and then finished up the month with the Round the Bay Relay in Fort Walton Beach, Florida got the flu and bronchitis and missed the Round the Bay Relay in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

Favorite race: I was really hoping to use the relay as my favorite race, but I guess I have no option but to go with the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon at this point.

Paces: Paces ranged from 6:26 to 9:49.

Total miles: 300! I can’t believe that it ended up so very even. I love it.

Distances: Distances ranged from 5 miles to 25.7 miles.

The Other Stuff

It’s been a hot minute since we’ve chatted about current things.

Current book: I just finished up John Grisham’s Camino Island. I started it on the 25th and finished it on the 27th. I got a little bit into it. I am also still going through (in painstaking detail) the Taxation of Individuals and Business Entities textbook for the class I will be teaching (starting in January). I’m reading each chapter, studying the instructor materials that come with the book and then going back making my own outline and lecture materials because theirs aren’t good enough (of course … hashtag overachiever). I would totally dominate this class if I was taking it instead of teaching it. Ha. I also just started reading How Bad Do You Want It?: Mastering the Psychology of Mind over Muscle by Matt Fitzgerald. I’m only a little ways into at this point, but I’ve already highlighted several things.

Current music: I recently downloaded T. Swift’s new album Reputation. It’s … edgy. I’m digging it.

Current guilty pleasure: Organizing and cleaning things. I guess I got a jump on the “starting fresh” mentality for the new year and I really got down to business in December. My home office is so. very. organized.

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Current drink: Hot chocolate.

Current food: Chicken noodle soup. I wonder why chicken noodle soup seems so delicious when you are sick?

Current obsession: Daniel got a Rubik’s Cube for Christmas (well technically, it was an early Christmas present to himself) and he has learned how to dominate that thing. I would like to get to his level, but it doesn’t look like that will be happening anytime soon. I have completed it once though. It took me two and a half hours. He can do it in less than two minutes. Ha. But eventually, I will learn and I will dominate that cube. It is making me crazy.

Current need: Wellness.

Current indulgence: Nasal spray.

Current bane of my existence: Coughing.

Current procrastination: I am long overdue for a visit to the optometrist. I’m up to date on all my other annual and semi-annual doctors visits, but I haven’t had my eyes checked in … years. Maybe 2 to 3 (or more?) years. Yikes. Going to schedule that pronto. [Update: going on Tuesday!] I also really need to “un-decorate” for Christmas. The task seems too daunting at the moment. I’m thinking this is likely why we typically don’t decorate in the first place.

Current confession: I have been using the same box of contacts that I got at that last eye appointment for however long that has actually been. I take them out every night, but I definitely wear them well beyond the recommended usage.

Current quote: This little passage from How Bad Do You Want It stuck out to me. In talking about one of his mental victories, he writes, “Sure, it was just a race, but sports are not really separate from life, not is the athlete distinct from the person. In mastering my fear of suffering in races, I acquired a greater level of respect for myself, a sense of inner strength that has helped me tackle other challenges, both inside and outside of sports.”

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Current excitement: I’m excited about the idea of feeling back to normal. Hopefully that will happen here shortly!

Tell me something that you are currently excited about!

 

Merry Christmas!

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Last week was the seventh week of the marathon specific phase of my training for the First Light Marathon. Three weeks to go! I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.

After a strange start to the week, a few pep talks from some of my Salty friends, my actual (IRL) friends and my coach, I finished the week off feeling stronger and more confident. After not completing any of my workouts as prescribed last week, I was basically questioning my fitness and doubting my training. I was dwelling on the workouts that didn’t go well, instead of realizing that *most* of my workouts over the course of the entire cycle have actually been really decent (good in fact). My coach pointed this out to me and suggested that I stop focusing on the missed workouts and focus on the positive ones. Fair enough. Onward and upward.

Here is what my training looked like the week of 12.18.17 – 12.24.17:

Monday – Off

I decided to take an unplanned rest day. I had an on campus training session to attend and my introduction to the world of academia left me feeling a tad overwhelmed. Asynchronous students. Grading rubrics. Oh my. I quickly learned that I have A LOT to learn (about teaching in general … I’m comfortable with the subject matter, so I guess that’s at least one positive). So yeah, at the end of the day, I was very stressed. Stress does weird things to my stomach. This will be a recurring theme this week.

Tuesday AM – Easy: 10 miles (8:48 pace) + PM – Easy: 5 miles (9:23 pace)

I ran a few miles with Rebecca Tuesday morning and then we came back to the house and ran some more miles with Daniel. About half way through our miles with Daniel, I started to have severe stomach pain. I slowed way down and eventually couldn’t even run. The pain was so intense that I even felt kind of dizzy. Rebecca was a saint and ran back to our house to get the car while Daniel stayed with me as I alternated between being doubled over in pain and trying to stagger my way back home.

At the time, we had no clue what was going on. I laid down in the middle of the floor for a while. Laying flat seemed to be the only position that felt okay. Eventually the pain subsided and I felt pretty much normal. So strange. I was hopeful that it was just a fluke. By the end of the day, I felt totally fine and was even able to do an easy loop with Daniel and Cody.

Wednesday AM – Tempo: 8 miles (7:17 pace) + PM – Easy: 5.1 miles (8:17 pace)

My schedule called for a 1 mile warm up, a 10 mile wave tempo (alternating between 6:50-6:55 pace and 6:30-6:35 pace every half mile) and a 1 mile cool down. I met Rebecca at the track Wednesday morning. She was doing some 1200 repeats and we were both just happy to have some company at the track. My stomach felt totally fine … until it didn’t. My stomach started hurting again about halfway through the tempo miles. I made it to mile 6 of 10 and had to call it a day. For whatever it’s worth, I averaged 6:53 for those 6 miles, even though I felt pretty crappy (no pun intended).

I came home and laid down in the middle of the floor again. Rebecca asked if I had eaten anything different from normal the last few days. Ahh! Yes. Perhaps the ice cream I was eating before bed was NOT agreeing with me. Oops. To be fair, I still think it was likely a combination of ice cream and stress. I don’t eat a ton of dairy in general and I guess it might need to stay that way. Ha.

By the end of the day, again, I felt totally fine and was able to do an easy loop with Rebecca.

Thursday – Easy: 8 miles (8:45 pace)

I decided to skip the morning run Thursday (just in case). I ran later in the day and felt good. My legs felt a little heavy, but my stomach felt great and that was all I really cared about.

Friday – Easy: 12.5 miles (8:41 pace)

Friday morning I met Jessica and Rebecca (it was just like old times!). My schedule called for 12 miles with ten 30 second pickups. I did the pickups during the last 2 miles of the run. I didn’t time them or anything and apparently I didn’t count them either, because I actually did twelve 30 second pickups instead of ten. I got an entire extra minute of work in! Such an overachiever. I know.

It was nice to feel some pop and turnover back in my stride. This was the first run since the marathon where I actually felt fresh.

Saturday – Long Run: 18 miles (7:37 pace)

My schedule originally called for a 24 mile long run this weekend, but after talking with my coach about it, we rearranged and modified some things. I will do my last easy-paced long run next weekend and instead of an easy-paced long run this weekend, I did 18 miles with the last 8 miles at close to goal marathon pace. Since I had to cut my wave tempo workout short earlier in the week, it made sense to add some more quality miles in during the long run.

Ideally this run should’ve taken place on Sunday (since I did 12 miles the day before). Not only would my legs have been a little fresher, but the weather would’ve been MUCH better as well. The temperature was in the seventies with 99% humidity on Saturday. Yuck. But seeing as how Sunday was Christmas Eve and most everyone had family plans, it just made more sense to go ahead and get the workout done Saturday. I had company for the entire run, which was amazing! Several of us met early to do 8 miles and then others joined an hour later for the last 10.

The weather definitely made those last 8 miles a bit more of a challenge, but I knew that if I could come relatively close to my goal range in those conditions, I would be happy. My splits for last eight were 6:51, 6:47, 6:49, 6:49, 6:58, 6:52, 7:46 (big hill) and 6:58, for an average of 6:58. The hill at mile 17 crushed me a little bit, but I was pleased that I was able to at least get it back down under 7 minute pace for the last mile after that. It just so happens that there is a rather large hill at mile 17 of the First Light course as well and so if nothing else, this was excellent race-day simulation.

Sunday – Easy: 6.5 miles (8:26 pace)

I ended the week with a fun little Christmas Eve group run.

Total – 73.1 miles

Merry Christmas everyone! Talk to you soon!

T Minus One Month

Hey friends!

Last week was the sixth week of the marathon specific phase of my training for the First Light Marathon. Less than a month to go! Holy Moses.

After running the marathon last Sunday, I was a little fatigued (not injured, just tired). I guess that is to be expected. Since the marathon was approached more as a long training run, there was technically no break in workouts and everything was supposed to be training as usual. However, I think the marathon took a little bit more out of me than expected, both physically and mentally. My motivation to run First Light seems to be dwindling at this point. Hopefully things will turn around a bit this week.

Here is what my training looked like the week of 12.11.17 – 12.17.17:

Monday – Easy: 5 miles (8:59 pace)

Tuesday – Easy: 5 miles (8:52 pace) 

Wednesday AM – Easy: 9 miles (8:18 pace) + PM – Easy: 5 miles (8:38 pace)

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Thursday – Groove Repeats: 12 miles (7:25 pace)

My schedule called for a 2 mile warm up, 6 X 1 mile groove repeats (between LT & VO2 max pace) with a quarter mile recovery and a 2 mile cool down. My goal range for the groove repeats was between 6:05 and 6:10 pace. I knew going into this workout that my legs weren’t going to cooperate. While they were feeling better, they weren’t fully recovered from the marathon.

My coach pointed out that the point of the marathon specific phase is to train the legs (and mind) to run even when tired. With this in mind, I kind of approached the workout as if it were the last 6 miles of the marathon. My legs will be tired. My pace (likely) won’t be exactly what it is *supposed to* be. This workout proved to me that even when I don’t think it is possible, I can still work hard and have a decent run.

Mile splits were 6:28, 6:28, 6:36, 6:31, 6:38 and 6:26. Sometimes showing up and putting in the effort is more important that nailing specific pace goals.

Friday AM – Easy: 6 miles (9:04 pace) + PM – Easy: 5 miles (9:39 pace)

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Saturday – Easy: 9 miles (8:30 pace)

Sunday – Long Run: 20 miles (8:12 pace)

Several of us met in Mobile Sunday morning and ran the hilly section of the First Light course (miles 10 through 20 essentially) twice. I was technically supposed to do a steady state long run at 7:10 to 7:20 pace. I think running the course with friends was more beneficial at this point. 20 miles at 7:10 would’ve been a bit stretch after the marathon last week and would’ve set me back a decent amount as far as recovering this week.

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Total – 76.0 miles

That’s it for now! See you soon!