RNR NOLA: Week 2

HI! How’s it going?

Week 2 of training for the Rock N Roll New Orleans half is done. I want to start with sharing this little excerpt from Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE by Phil Knight. Daniel just finished reading this book and said it was really good. It’s up next on my list!

For that matter, few ideas are as crazy as my favorite thing, running. It’s hard. It’s painful. It’s risky. The rewards are few and far from guaranteed. When you run around an oval track, or down an empty road, you have no real destination. At least, none that can fully justify the effort. The act itself becomes the destination. It’s not just that there’s no finish line; it’s that you define the finish line. Whatever pleasures or gains you derive from the act of running, you must find them from within. It’s all in how you frame it, how you sell it to yourself.

Isn’t that perfect?! The joy is definitely in the journey and that definitely applies to so many different aspects of our lives. Let’s talk about what the journey looked like this week!

Monday: 2 mi. WU, 12 X 400 w/ 200 recovery, 2 mi. CD

Move it Monday is starting to catch on! Nothing like spending a little time at the oval office before heading to the regular office on a Monday morning. Everyone did 400s this week, which was great! I did 12 400s w/ a 200 recovery and most everyone else did 10 400s w/ a 400 recovery. This worked out well because we all finished about the same time. There were no #yakattacks this week either, although Sasser did point out that if you take the E out of MOVE IT, you have an anagram for VOMIT. Move it Monday has a much better ring to it than Vomit Monday. LOL!

My schedule called for the 400s to be run at 82 to 84 seconds per quarter, which would be 5:28 to 5:36 pace. My actual splits were 85, 87, 85, 85, 84, 85, 86, 85, 87, 86, 89 and 86. Even though I wasn’t exactly able to hit the prescribed paces, I still feel good about this workout overall.

Miscellaneous thoughts from my brain during a track workout:

  • A 200 recovery is SO SHORT.
  • At least I only have to do 10 of these things. Aww, DANG IT. I have to do 12! I don’t know how I manage to lose count of how my repeats I am supposed to be doing every time, but I do.
  • I really hope I don’t fall while I am running fast and bust my face open again (the fear is real).
  • When does daylight saving time start? Why is the sun not up yet? I wish I was not up yet.
  • I *need* to get some new shoes for speed workouts and races.
  • This is the worst. Why am I doing this to myself?!
  • This is the best. I LOVE RUNNING.

Tuesday AM: 4.5 miles + strength training

Wouldn’t you know it that Greg decided to “beat our legs up a little bit” again on Tuesday this week. Man oh man. These strength workouts are killer.

Tuesday PM: RW Group Run

Tuesday afternoon my group ran 4 miles. It was crazy humid for January, but such is life and running in Alabama.

Tuesday afternoon we got some cool news! Rebecca, Jessica and I all applied to be a Nuun ambassadors this year and we ALL were accepted. Wahoo! I 100% LOVE this product and am super excited to be an ambassador (which basically just means that we do free marketing work for Nuun and spread our love for their product all over the interwebs). You’re welcome.

Wednesday AM: 9 miles w/ Rebecca (8:10 pace)

Wednesday PM: 6.5 miles on the ALTER G treadmill (6:55 pace)

Oh em gee guys. This was SO COOL! If you aren’t familiar w/ an anti-gravity treadmill, here is how it works: You slip into some [not so] sexy little shorts like this …

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You get zipped into the machine and then you run at 60 – 70% of your total body weight. Here is what the contraption looks like (this is not me (LOL)).

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When you are running, it really just feels like you are floating. There are three cameras on the treadmill so that you can see you foot strike and your stride from three different views (front, side and back).

Let’s backup for a second … I’ve been having this random pain (perhaps random is not the accurate adjective seeing as how I run A LOT) in my glutes and hamstrings when I SIT. Sitting at work, sitting in the car … very uncomfortable. I can’t exactly get by without sitting (especially this time of year) and so I’m trying to get to the bottom of it (pun intended).

It seems that I’ve got some pelvic alignment issues that are causing the pain in my glutes and hips, but in order to fix the problem we have to get to the root of the actual alignment problem. Spoiler alert: it’s my running form. I know (and have known for years) that my form is not the best. My arms swing across my body like I am doing the chicken dance on repeat. I really haven’t been all that concerned with it as it seems to work just fine, but I definitely think that correcting it will be beneficial (both from an efficiency standpoint and to get rid of this nagging pain).

The Alter G made it very apparent that not only are my arms swinging, but also my entire torso is twisting. My lower body was zipped into the machine and I literally couldn’t move like I typically would. I felt like a super awkward, trainwreck of a runner. Basically this …

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According to this article, “Most running related injuries are non-traumatic and arise either from biomechanical inefficiencies in a runner’s stride, training error, or underlying musculoskeletal impairments such as a muscular imbalance. One such biomechanical problem area is in a runner’s stride, which we have found this is often attributed to improper arm swing.”

Also according to the same article, “To maximize efficiency while running, keep your arms from swinging across your torso and crossing this sagittal plane. Unnecessary tri-planar movement (movement in planes that are outside the sagittal plane) increases the amount of torque and stress on the body while running.”

So basically running with a normal arm swing burns less energy and significantly reduces shoulder and pelvis rotation. Hashtag goals. I will keep you posted on how this goes!

Thursday AM: 2 mi. WU, 3 X 2 mile LT repeats, 2 mi. CD

The dreaded 3 X 2 mile workout. I am kind of just over this workout. It shows up time and time again (because LT repeats are super beneficial) and it’s just tough (both mentally and physically).

My goal range was 6:15 – 6:20 pace. As soon as I started the warm up, I realized that pace was not going to happen. I felt so heavy (the Alter G spoiled me!) and just tired overall. I told myself to just give it a shot and if I didn’t feel good, I could always quit stop at any point. During the first mile of the workout I thought about stopping approximately 10 times. I was definitely on the struggle bus. Somewhat miraculously, I made it all the way through the first repeat. I had a quarter-mile to recover. During that quarter I convinced myself to at least *attempt* the second repeat as well. Again, I could always quit stop at any point.

I had to tackle one repeat at a time, but the good news is that I never decided to quit! I settled into a groove eventually. Once you find your groove, it’s so much easier to keep going. I reminded myself that I only have about 5 workouts left before the RNR NOLA half (!!!) and I definitely want to make the most of the workouts that I have.

It’s easy to post a picture of your Garmin (or of yourself … whatever floats your boat) and say that you #nailedit #crushedit #smashedit (you get the idea), but that isn’t how it always goes down. Workouts are hard. They aren’t always fun. This one was such a struggle for me and I didn’t hit the paces that I was supposed to. My paces were 6:30, 6:27 and 6:22. Not horrible by any means, but still not where I wanted to be. I’m just glad I didn’t quit.

Friday AM: 8 miles w/ Jessica (9:20 pace)

Friday PM: Strength Training

We got some upper body and core work in on Friday evening.

Saturday: 14 mile fast finish long run

The weather was very iffy Saturday morning and we woke up to tornado watches and the potential for some very bad weather. It wasn’t supposed to get here until after 7 so the RW group still met. The half marathon folks had 6 miles (I say folks, but really I only had one runner show up). Everyone else was smart and decided to skip it. Haha! Luckily we made it back to the store before the bottom dropped out.

I was originally planning to run 6 with the RW group and afterwards I was going to run a little more by myself and hop in a local 5K for the fast finish part of my run. Since the weather was so bad, the race got postponed and I ended up just doing the remainder of my run on the treadmill. I did 8 miles on the treadmill and it flew by! The last 5 miles were 7:02, 6:44, 6:42, 6:45, 6:55, which were all right within the range that I was supposed to do for the “fast finish.” Woo hoo! I felt great and was really happy to hit the pace that I was supposed to for the end this run.

Sunday: 9 miles w/ Rebecca (8:14 pace)

Rebecca is pacing the 3:40 marathoners at Big Beach next weekend and so we set out in an attempt to practice that pace (8:20 – 8:25 (depending on if the course is long again this year)). It was dark when we started so we didn’t worry about it as much during the first few miles, but we were able to nail it down fairly well the last 3 or so miles.

That wraps up this week’s training. I’ve got some 800s, a moderate pace long run and a 5K on tap next week.

What workouts do you have next week?

RNR NOLA: Week 1

Hi guys!

Whew. What a week. Tax season is officially in full swing. I think Rihanna says it best:

And gimme me all the work, work, work, work, work, work
You see me I be work, work, work, work, work, work
You see me do me dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt
There’s something ’bout that work, work, work, work, work, work
When you a gon’ learn, learn, learn, learn, learn, learn
Me na care if me tired, tired, tired, tired, tired, tired

So yeah. A little bit tired over here this week. It’s been a tough transition going from part-time to full-time (plus some). I’m not complaining. My work schedule is pretty fantastic. I just have to remind myself of that when things get a little hectic! For a split second I thought about posting something here that just said, “See ya after tax season!” and calling it a day, week, month, season (that still might happen, but for now, I’m still here :)).

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As far as training goes, I had a relatively easy week and now we are officially gearing up for the Rock N Roll New Orleans half on February 5th. Daniel is running this one too (several of our running friends are actually, so I’m pretty excited about it)!

Since I just finished up a little mini training cycle for First Light, I’ll just be jumping right into another little mini build up for NOLA. This cycle will be pretty much the same from a big-picture perspective: primarily aerobic and lactate threshold (i.e., stamina) workouts, long runs (i.e., endurance) and a few V02 max (i.e., speed) workouts. Here is an overview of the workouts by category for the next few weeks:

Week 1: RECOVERY + Endurance
Week 2: Speed + Stamina + Endurance
Week 3: Speed + Stamina + Endurance
Week 4: Stamina + RACE

Here’s how Week 1 went down …

Monday: 8 miles easy (9:10 pace)

I assumed that Monday morning my legs were going to be very sore since I decided to forgo the cool down after my half marathon Sunday. I planned to go ahead and get a few miles in (nice and easy) Monday morning to work out the soreness.

It was still really cold Monday and some of the buttons on the treadmill were actually frozen! Pure craziness. The start button worked, as well as most of the buttons on the dash-board, but the speed up and speed down buttons weren’t working, which meant that I had to decide between 10:00 pace (6 mph) and 7:30 pace (8 mph). I totally went with 10 minute pace! Somewhere along the way I decided to try 7:30 pace, but that only lasted for a mile or so.

My legs felt so much better than I expected. They actually weren’t sore at all that morning. I thought I had dodged a bullet, but no, the soreness definitely set in by Monday evening.

Tuesday AM: 4.5 miles + strength training

Tuesday was the longest. day. ever. with a wake up alarm in the 3 o’clock hour, a morning workout, work all day and then coaching that evening (see below).

We got a few miles in before our session, which was great. When we got to the gym to start “lifting,” Greg kinda rubbed his hands together and said, “We’re gonna really beat your legs up today.” Oh great. How lovely.

This was the first session we’ve done where we didn’t do a single upper body exercise. It was ALL LEGS. My poor legs were not super happy with me Tuesday.

Tuesday PM: RW Group Run

I am coaching the half marathon training group at RW this spring and Tuesday evening was my group’s first official group run. I am excited to be coaching at the store again, but I think it might take a couple of weeks to adjust to my new routine. We started off with 3 miles Tuesday evening.

Wednesday: 5 miles easy (8:57 pace)

After a long day Tuesday I was pretty tired and wasn’t feeling super motivated on Wednesday. I called it a day after 5 miles.

Thursday: 8.5 miles easy (8:49 pace)

The first few days of the week were all about easy miles and recovery.  Thursday morning was another nice, easy run with friends.

Friday: 16 moderate pace miles w/ 10 X 30 second pickups (7:30 pace)

I realized this week that I am likely going to need to get my long runs in on Friday mornings since the half training group meets on Saturday morning. I don’t want to push the LR until Sunday because then my workouts for the next week would be off schedule. This makes for a fairly early wake up, but I’m getting pretty used to that at this point. I got up at 4 a.m. Friday morning and got 6 miles in on the treadmill before Daniel was up and as soon as he got up and ready to go, I hopped off the treadmill and did the rest of the run outside with him. It worked really well!

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He was such a trooper with the “moderate pace.” He hasn’t done much speed work and so he was breathing pretty heavy by mile 4 or 5. I asked him if he was okay and he grunted something to the effect of “Yes … this is just what an all-out race effort sounds like [honey].” Ha. I was really, really thankful that he ran with me!

Saturday: 10 miles easy (8:59 pace)

The half marathon training group meets at the store on Saturday mornings for their long run. They started with  5 miles this week and they did great! I ran the 5 mile route with them and then Jessica and I went back out for another 5 miles after the group was done.

My mom and I also managed to get in a walk Saturday afternoon. The weather was gorgeous and the bay was super low, so we decided to do an out and back route where we walked out on the road and back on the beach. Time spent outside on the water is just what I needed. Vitamin D is good for the soul.

Sunday: 8 miles easy (8:56 pace)

Sunday morning was 8 easy miles followed by breakfast with friends (it was Baja bowls all around … also good for the soul).

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That’s a wrap on this week’s training. I hope you all had a great weekend and have a wonderful week!

Race Recap: First Light Half Marathon

Hello friends! Today was the day.

This was my 10th First Light! I honestly didn’t realize that until I just looked back at it. I think this might be the only race that I have a streak this long going. I love the atmosphere of a hometown marathon. You really can’t beat it!

A brief history –
2008: Half marathon 2:00:43 (a personal worst)
2009: Half marathon 1:41:39
2010: Half marathon 1:42:07 (the year we got engaged)
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)

The First Light Marathon starts at 7:30 a.m. in downtown Mobile. Our relay team met at Starbucks at 6:30 and made the trip across the bay together. It was SO COLD. Seriously. The temperature was 27 at the start and the feels like temperature was in the upper teens. BRRR! I went back and forth about what to wear and settled on shorts (yes), compression sleeves, a long sleeve top w/ my RW singlet over it, gloves and a toboggan.

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I warmed up in pants and two jackets (in addition to all of the above-referenced clothing) and then begrudgingly shed a few layers before it was go time. I only ended up getting a one mile warm up in. After that mile, I didn’t really feel like I had warmed up much at all, but it didn’t matter because it was time to line up. My hands were throbbing. Jill totally saved the day because she gave me her hot hands (like she straight up took them out of her gloves and gave them to me … such a wonderful friend). She was running the last leg of the relay and had another pair in the car. I wouldn’t have taken them otherwise, but yeah, they were a total game changer.

The race plan was as follows:
Mile 1: 6:30 – 6:40
Miles 2 – 10: 6:24 – 6:30
Miles 11 – 13: Whatever was left

The first five miles of the half marathon make up leg 1 of the relay, which I ran for our (co-ed) team this year. Pretty much right off the bat I found myself in the lead pack of the race. For whatever reason, I was NOT expecting this. This is usually a pretty competitive half marathon. I got sucked into running with the pack (made up of me and the top three guys). Even though I had a wonderful race plan, sometimes you kind of have to roll with what the course and the competition present you with. My first five miles were 6:30, 6:23, 6:19, 6:15 and 6:20.

At mile 5 I handed the relay bracelet (like the baton in track) off to Daniel. He ran with me for a mile or so and then I went on ahead. He hasn’t been running much at all because he basically came down with the plague this last few weeks. He ran great today though! The half and the full course split around mile 8 and so after that I didn’t see my team until the end of the race.

BUT courtesy of Strava, here is how it went down:
Sam: 31:47 for 5 miles (6:21 avg.)
Daniel: 33:25 for 5 miles (6:39 avg.)
Ali: 31:22 for 5 miles (6:17 avg.)
Young Daniel: 34:32 for 5 miles (6:54 avg.)
Kenny: 38:54 for 6.2 miles (6:12 avg.)

Our total time was 2:50, which was a co-ed course record!

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Back to the half … our pack dissipated (read: two of the guys dropped me) around mile 6. I ran miles 6 through 10 pretty much by myself. I still had the leaders in sight, but they seemed to be steadily pulling further away. Miles 6 through 10 were 6:14, 6:20, 6:31, 6:30, 6:32. Pretty consistent, but the pace was definitely slowing some. My mom and dad surprised me at mile 7! Parents who will stand out in twenty degree weather to watch you run are pretty much the best.

My dad also gave me his jacket after the race, which was VERY MUCH appreciated!

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I ended up catching the second place guy at mile 10. He was flat out stopping at some of the the water stations. It wasn’t like he was walking through them … just stopping. We flip flopped back and forth a few times for about a mile and I ended up ahead of him. Unfortunately though, I got passed by another guy (Steve!) at mile 11.5. He was the only person who passed me the entire race. Ugh. But YAY for Steve! He is the smartest racer that I know. He always paces himself really well and today was no exception. He finished really strong (and in 2nd place overall).

The most random observation from the day is that it seemed as if my snot was freezing inside my nose. It was a crazy feeling! I would try to breathe “in through your nose and out through your mouth,” as I remember learning during track in high school, but the “in through your nose” part was not happening. I wasn’t getting any air doing that! It was so weird. I don’t run in 20 degree weather often enough to know if this is normal or not. If there is anyone up North that has some experience with this, please let me know!

Miles 11, 12 and 13 were 6:32, 6:41, 6:36. My last 0.1 was 0:53. Total time was 1:24:44 … just 3 seconds shy my PR! AHH! So close. At the start of this (mini) training cycle I wrote, “I want to have a goal of 1:23 – 1:25 (6:20 to 6:30 pace) for the half.” Mission accomplished!

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I had a fairly short 5 week build up to this race. The race was definitely a “goal race,” but I also have two more half marathons coming up in the next two months and I want to focus on working down to the lower end of my goal range for those!

After I finished the race I made the executive decision that somewhat ironically, it was in fact, too cold for a cool down. I will likely regret that decision later, but oh well. “No Ragrats” right? Lol.

Since we had about an hour and a half until most of the relays teams and marathoners would be finishing the race, I hopped in the car with Jessica and we drove out on the course to spectate and cheer for the RW full marathoners. We ended up at the mile 18 water station and stayed there for about 30 minutes or so. They serve chicken broth and hot chocolate at this aid station! This was definitely the place to be. We didn’t quite make it back to the finish by the time the first relay teams finished. Daniel was a tad concerned when they got to the finish line and I was nowhere to be found, but I was in good hands!

RW had a sports chiropractor at their tent after the race and I decided to get “adjusted.” I don’t usually go for post-race “massages,” but this was definitely different. My glutes and hamstrings bother me sometimes when I have to sit for extended periods of time (um hello every day of my life). I’ve tried to have this worked on several times without success. Apparently it isn’t specifically a hamstring or a glute issue, but rather my obturator (I didn’t even know this was a “thing”). Anywho … it’s nice to have an answer! Hopefully I can get that straightened out soon!

We stayed around for the awards. The medals and the awards are handmade by members of L’Arche Mobile. Their mission is to “make known the gifts of people with intellectual disabilities, revealed through mutually transforming relationships.” I love the unique, thoughtful awards. You can tell that a lot of TLC goes into each medal and canvas.

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After the awards, Daniel and the guys wanted to go to Waffle House. At first I was giving that idea a major eye-roll (in my head), but I have to admit that a waffle really just hit the spot (the chocolate chips didn’t hurt either :)). Intuitive eating for the win!

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B-T-Dubs, my half marathon playlist was on point today. In case you are interested, here it is!

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That’s it for today. It was a really fun day and it was everything I hoped it would be!

Next up: ROCK N ROLL NEW ORLEANS!

What’s next for you?

FLM: Week 5 (RACE WEEK)

Hey-o! I’ve got a super short post today with my weekly workouts. Tomorrow is RACE DAY, so I wanted to go ahead and get this one knocked out.

Monday AM: 3 miles easy (8:06 pace)

Monday was a rainy day! Daniel and I were at his family’s house Monday morning and we attempted a run during a break in the rain, but that didn’t exactly work out for us. We got out there and Daniel said something to the effect of, “You checked the radar and it was clear, right?” and I responded with something like, “Well yeah, I checked it … it wasn’t exactly clear though.” My car was in the shop and we were waiting on a phone call from the repairman, so Daniel had his phone with him. Oops. Seeing as how rain and phones don’t really mix, this run got cut short (with a little bit of a pick up at the end too).

Monday PM: 2 mi. WU, 4 mi. brisk (6:49, 6:45, 6:40, 6:40), 1 mi. recovery, 6 X 30 seconds (6:00, 5:56, 5:52, 5:48, 5:44, 5:40), 2 mi. CD

Since it is RACE WEEK, I only had one “workout” this week. It was technically on my schedule for Tuesday, but Tuesday was a busy day and I knew I wouldn’t be able to get it in. I decided to bump it up to Monday evening when we got home. Unfortunately, the weather was still extremely bleak and I was forced to take it to the treadmill (I likely would’ve done this anyway (who I am kidding)).

Lightning was popping all around while I was running and I was a little bit worried that the power might go out. Daniel had strict orders to come get me if there was a tornado coming! Ha. He said that he would and said that I would probably be fine, but just to be careful because if the power went out, I would get thrown into the front of the treadmill. Hmm. Definitely didn’t want that to happen!

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The workout called for a few “brisk” miles followed by a few pickups. Brisk pace is slightly slower than aerobic threshold pace and slightly quicker than steady state pace. My brisk pace range was 6:40 to 6:50. The pickups were supposed to be done at a fast pace. The range for that was 5:40 to 6:00.

After a two mile warmup, I was able to settle into a nice rhythm on the brisk miles. The pace felt fairly effortless (which is a good sign). I got one mile to recover after the brisk miles and then it was time to do a few 30 second pickups. I was a little unsure how the pickups would go on the treadmill. Sometimes running faster than 6:00 pace feels a little bit out of control, but surprisingly I didn’t ever feel out of control at all and they went great! I did the first one at 10.0 mph and then I bumped the speed up by 0.1 each time. The last one was done at 10.5 mph (5:40 pace) … MOVIN’!

If the power had gone out during those pickups, I would’ve been out of luck for sure. Luckily I survived and no harm was done!

Tuesday: 3 mile run, 45 minute strength training, 3 mile run

Back to the gym Tuesday morning to get dem gainz …

Wednesday AM: 5 miles easy (9:09 pace)

Nothing much to note about this run. I ran a few easy miles on the treadmill before work and watched Netflix.

Wednesday PM: 5 miles easy (8:11 pace)

Daniel and I got to run Wednesday evening! It seems like it has been SO LONG since we have done our typical little “evening loop”and a quick perusing of Strava revealed that in fact, our last loop was on November 16th. We used to do an evening loop several times per week. Daniel hasn’t been running much, so we were long overdue for a date night run. I really enjoy getting a few miles in with him after work because it gives us time to chat and catch up on our day.

Thursday: 8 miles easy (8:26 pace)

Thursday started off on the right foot with an early o’clock run w/ Jessica and Rebecca.

Friday: OFF

Friday turned into an unplanned rest day. I wasn’t able to drag myself out of bed that morning and by the time I got home from work, I was just done. I had zero motivation to run. I also knew that it would be better to not overdo it if I wasn’t feeling it with the race just two days away.

With a break from the physical preparations, I actually did spend some time doing mental preparations Friday. My nerdiness got the best of me and I made a color coded course map with my planned paces. I think there is a lot to be said for visualization and mental preparation. I’m SO ready to pick it up on Dauphin Street and finish strong!

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Saturday: 5 miles easy (8:01 pace)

We woke up to temperatures in the 20s! What?! Cue freak out in lower AL!

Daniel was meeting the guys to run so I decided to run a few miles with them. I wore all the clothes (i.e., tights w/ a tennis skirt over them (gives you two extra layers on bottom), a long sleeve shirt w/ a vest and a puffy jacket, gloves w/ mittens over them, ear warmers and a toboggan). Spoiler: it was TOO MUCH. I got toasty.

The good news is that I learned that lesson today and not tomorrow! The forecast is about the same tomorrow. Temperatures in the 20s (with feels like temps in the teens). Holy moly! I’m going to be layered for my warm tomorrow and I’m planning to get down to just a long sleeve top, tights (maybe capris), gloves and ear warmers or a toboggan (but not both) for the actual race. Luckily my relay team will be out on the course, so I can shed some clothes even after the start if I need to.

I just made a new half marathon playlist and I’m getting ready to roll!

Sunday: RACE (recap forthcoming)

That’s it for today! Talk to you soon!

1 Step Back, 2 Steps Forward

Hi there! It’s hard to believe that another year has almost come and gone.

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Regardless of whether or not you are a New Year’s resolutioner, we likely all approach the new year with some sort of “starting fresh” mentality. Looking back and reflecting on the previous year can be a good way to gauge your goals and plans for the upcoming year. With this post, I’m going to start by looking back and then look forward towards a few goals.

Looking back …

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I think it is fair to say that 2016 has been the most well documented year of life EVER. 2016 was my first full year of blogging (it began in June 2015, so last year was only a partial year). Sometimes I feel like I have no clue exactly what I am doing or trying to accomplish with this blog (um hello … did someone say I should start an online diary), but regardless I have discovered that I really enjoy writing and the process of writing spurs at least a smidgen of creativity in my otherwise calculated, logical brain.

As I’m sure you have gathered, running is one fairly stable topic that I always have something to share about, so the majority of the time I just write about running. One common theme that I have noticed among runners is that running brings people through some tough situations. Regardless as to “why” you run, running has a way of making you the best version of yourself and it also brings together and creates a sense of community and belonging. I hope to continue to run and write about running for many years to come!

Speaking of running, I’d like to think that 2016 was the most consistent that I have ever been with my training, but again, it’s hard to really gauge that as prior years are not quite as well documented. Trust me, they are all documented in various yearly planners, but they just aren’t quite as easily analyzed. I did over 50 workouts this year! February, March and April were my lowest months, but this is just the natural progression that my training takes each year during tax season. I view it as my “recovery” time and I don’t force myself to do workouts if I am not feeling it. September, October and December were my highest months from a workout perspective (November got booted out due to the fall).

I ran 24 races this year! Oh how I wish there had been just one more. 25 is such a better number (oh well). So yeah, lots of races! It’s no secret that I love to race. I think that in the past, I have typically averaged about 15 or so races per year (some years higher and some years lower), but this is definitely the most. What can I say … when you have a running blog, you need content. Ha!

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I intended to pick one favorite race for the year, but I really just can’t! I’m picking one race for each distance …

2 mile: Chickasabogue Park 2 Miler
5K: Hot Trot 5K
4 mile: Shark Run 4 Miler
10K: Shrimp Fest 10K
12K: Battleship 12K
15K: Double Bridge Run
10 mile: Turkey 10
Half: Rock ‘N’ Roll New Orleans
Relay: Ragnar Tennessee

I did a few odd distance races this year (2 mile, 4 mile, 12K & 15K) that I don’t do every year. I’ve done two mile and four mile races before, but this was my first time racing a 12K and a 15K, which = an automatic PR! Woo hoo! I also got a 2 mile, 4 mile and 10K PR this year as well, but again, those are distances that I don’t race as frequently. I am a little bit disappointed to not have gotten a 5K or half marathon PR, but that gives me something good to shoot for in 2017!

Ragnar TN sticks out in my mind as one of the most fun racing experiences of the year, as does the First Light relay. A lot of my favorite running memories have more to do with the people that they were shared with as opposed to the number on the clock or the placement on the podium. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good PR and a W, but sometimes (or all the time), there are more important things.

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

Although it may not seem like it sometimes, we actually have lives outside of running too (really … we do … I promise) and 2016 was a great year in non-running life as well!

Daniel and I have both settled into wonderful routines at work. In 2015, we both changed jobs and Daniel was finishing up school, taking boards, etc. 2016 was so much nicer! We both love our jobs and in 2016 there was no excitement (read: drama) on the career front. It was steady and stable and for that we are very thankful!

I became a “certified” coach this year, but at this point I would classify coaching as more of a hobby than a second job. I don’t know exactly where that will lead in the future … perhaps no where. Regardless, I am glad that I attended the class. Gaining knowledge is never a bad thing!

2016 was our sixth year of marriage (crazy!) and we are in a really good place (in my opinion … hopefully he feels the same :)). With no job changes, no more school and basically no big life changes, I would venture to say that 2016 was one of our best years, relationship wise. We have grown together and matured as a couple.

We made an offer on a house that we ultimately didn’t get (they decided not to sell it … ugh … who does that), but again now we have a goal for 2017. I know that when the timing is right, we will find something great. Thankfully we are in a position right now to be EXTREMELY picky with what we want and where we want it, which is a huge blessing. We also went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University this year, which has been a total game-changer and in some ways I am even glad that the timing of buying a house was delayed a little bit so that we have more time to save.

Brooks turned 5 this year! He is so grown up. Please someone tell me that golden retrievers live to be 100?! We have no immediate plans for any non-furry babies (just in case you were wondering … that will not be appearing in the goals section of this post). Daniel’s sister, Michele, gave us a niece and his sister, Leigh-Ann, will be having a baby boy any day now! Baby Ava is precious and we can’t wait to meet Baby Liam!

Looking ahead …

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One thing that is sure enough about to happen in 2017 is tax season. In an odd sort of way, I am looking forward to it. Tax season used to completely turn my life upside down, but after 9 years as a CPA (how in the world is that possible), I feel like I kind of have it down. I enjoy what I do and I tend to do well working in a structured, busy environment. Even though work will be busy, I still get to have a life outside of work. It took me several years to grasp this concept, but now that I have my life has been revolutionized. Goal: Thrive (not just survive) during tax season.

I recently started reading the book, Intuitive Eating, by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse and I can tell that it is going to be a life-changing read. I have had so many little “aha” moments already and I am only half of the way through the book. I was somewhat familiar with the concept of eating intuitively, but I didn’t realize that there was a book and basically an entire online support community out there to help you through the process. Goal: Work on becoming an intuitive eater.

Starting in January, I will be coaching a half marathon training group at Running Wild and I am really excited about that! I know this won’t come as a surprise to anyone, but I already have several races picked out too. I have three half marathons picked out so far (one in early January, one in mid February and one in early March). Goal: I want a half marathon PR in 2017!

Also in running-related goals, I’ve got my eye on the one mile and two mile state records for my age. Hopefully I will have a chance to chase those down this year as well. While I’m at it, I’d really love a nice 5K PR as well. Goal: I want ALL the PRs. Is that too vague?!

As a general goal, I hope to continue to grow and mature emotionally and spiritually during 2017.

As another general goal, I would like to travel to somewhere that I haven’t been and experience a few new things this year.

Tell me: any specific goals or things that you hope to accomplish in 2017?

FLM: Week 4

Hello friends! Happy New Year!

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The First Light Relay & Half Marathon is ONE WEEK from today! Woo hoo! I’m going to be running the first leg of the relay for Daniel’s team and then I’ll continue on to run the half. The first relay leg is 5 miles, so I’ll run that, pass the baton (or whatever they have us holding) to Daniel and just keep running. I’ll only have 8.1 more miles to go!

I think it’s going to be a nice way to break up the race and as long as I don’t blow up my pacing strategy by starting too fast, it should be fun. I’m getting really excited about the race. This one has a special place in my heart!

Sunday: 4 mile easy run (8:20 pace)

Christmas Day I hung around in my PJs drinking coffee, playing with Brooks and sitting by the fire (yes, it was 75+ degrees and no, that doesn’t deter fire making).

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Daniel had to work Christmas morning (all weekend actually), which was a major bummer and on top of that, he was sick (all weekend), which was even more of a bummer. The point of all of that was just to say that I had to run by myself and by the time I went it was HOT. It was not really a very enjoyable run, but that’s okay. Not every run is fun and obviously there are way more important things on Christmas Day (like spending time with family).

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Monday: 2 mile warm up, 5 X 600 repeats + 5 X 400 repeats, 1.5 mile cool down

This week started off with a little track session! My schedule called for 10 X 600 meter repeats (1 and a half laps around the track) at 5:40 to 5:50 pace (2:08 – 2:12 per 600).

Thankfully I had company at the track. Solo track workouts are really TOUGH. Everyone else was doing 400 meter repeats (hence the change mid-workout for me :)). After a two mile warm up, we were as ready as we were gonna get and we all lined up and got ready to G-O. I hit my first 5 600s in 2:09, 2:10, 2:09, 2:12 and 2:12. All of these were right within my range. Granted they were tough, but still … physically, I was doing just fine.

Mentally though, it was really tough for me to do 600s while everyone else did 400s. I don’t know if this counts as FOMO or not … likely not … but the point is, I switched to their workout half way through. Whenever I run at the track (actually I think the following statement is true of any workout that I do regardless of location), at some point during the run I start bargaining with myself (my brain vs. my legs). I won. Ha.

The 400s seemed so much easier and so much more fun! Even though I compromised my way out of my actual workout, I still finished strong. My 400s were 84, 87, 87, 88 and 88. Everyone else ran great too (and we even had an inaugural track workout #yakattack … welcome to 5K training Sasser :))!

Since Monday was a holiday for most people, we got in some quality post-run Coffee Loft hangs. Monday afternoon I asked my mom to come to my office with me and help me get all situated for tax season. I know I will be spending a lot more time at the office, so I wanted to do a little pre-busy season spruce so that my office feels nice and homey.

The feet propped up on the desk adds a nice touch. Don’t you think?

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I wanted a little piece of Mobile Bay Runner as well, so I have my Mobile Bay map and “believe you can & you’re halfway there” quote with a medal hanger below it. I actually have some medals hanging there now, but forgot to get an updated pic. Blogger fail.

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Tuesday AM: 3 mile run, 45 minute strength training, 3 mile run

Same song, different verse this Tuesday. 3 miles to the gym, followed by 45 minutes of strength training and 3 miles back home with Rebecca and Jessica. I am loving this routine!

Wednesday: 8 miles w/ Jessica & Rebecca (8:50 pace)

We are really making the most of the Christmas break and ran together just about every day this week!

I started coming down with a bit of a cold Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. I felt okay during the run Wednesday morning (or at least I thought I did), but afterwards I felt like I had been run over by a truck. Daniel has been really sick, so I was worried that I had gotten his bug. Thankfully I was able to rest it away (well … rest + antibiotics). I am a firm believer that sleep cures just about anything, but Daniel gives me major side-eye when I say that and he’s the one in the medical field. Maybe it was the rest. Maybe it was the antibiotics. I am just REALLY thankful I was able to kick the bug before it got me too badly! Daniel is also doing MUCH better now (finally!) as well.

Thursday: 5 mile run + 45 minute strength training

I was able to get a few miles in after work Thursday before our strength work. Greg told us to not plan to run after our workout (like we do in the mornings) because our legs might not be able to take it. Ha! He worked us pretty hard and luckily we were all able to walk across the street to our cars and drive home post-workout.

Friday: 2 mile warm up, 5 mi. wave tempo (6:27, 6:25, 6:27, 6:25, 6:27), 2 mile cool down

Given the little mini-sickness episode this week, I got off schedule with my workouts. I was supposed to do the wave tempo workout Thursday morning (so that it would be BEFORE our strength work), but I decided to give myself an extra day to recover and to try for Friday instead. I still wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to feel and I knew that if I didn’t feel good once I started the run, I was just going to just skip the workout altogether.

Once I got going, I felt really good! Thank goodness. I really enjoy wave tempo workouts because it seems like they absolutely fly by. I alternated the pace every half mile between 6:40 and 6:10-6:15 pace. You have to stay in the workout physically and mentally and it’s nice to be able to divide the workout up into somewhat manageable, half-mile segments.

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Brooks got a bath Friday. He loves bath day! In case you haven’t noticed puppies + running are two of my favorite things.

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Saturday: 12 miles w/ Running Wild (8:01 pace)

Saturday is typically my “moderate pace” long run day (I was supposed to do 16 at 7:20 to 7:40 pace), but since I got off schedule during the week, I had a bit of a mini-dilemma as to what to do about the LR. Saturday was likely by best chance weather and schedule wise, but my legs just weren’t having it. After weights Thursday night and a workout Friday morning, my legs were toast and I knew that pushing it wasn’t going to get me anywhere. We actually ended up running the 12 faster than I thought we would. The miles flew by (having good company will definitely do that!) and then, of course, it was time for coffee.

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Sunday: 9 miles on the TM (8:33 pace)

It rained all night and we woke up to a monsoon! Actually I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and couldn’t go back to sleep. Boo … but Happy New Year! I decided to go ahead and get my run knocked out because we’ve got a busy day today. 9 easy miles on the treadmill before 6 a.m. Bring it 2017!

Did you do anything fun for NYE? I was alseep by 7:30 (maybe that has something to do with why I was wide awake by 3:30) …

December Recap

Happy New Year’s Eve! It’s time for the last monthly recap of 2016.

MONTH RECAP: December

Total running: 292

Workouts: December was one of my strongest months of training this year! I’m happy to end the year on a good note.

2 mi. WU, 8 X 800 (3:02, 3:05, 3:05, 3:03, 3:06, 3:09, 3:11, 3:19), 1 mi. CD

2 mi. WU, 12 X 400 hill repeats, 2 mi. CD

2 mi. WU, 3 X 2 mile (6:19, 6:20, 6:18, 6:20, 6:16, 6:18), 1.5 mi. CD

2 mi. WU, 5 X 1 mile (6:11, 6:11, 6:07, 6:03, 6:00), 2 mi. CD

2 mi. WU, 5 mi. LT tempo (6:22, 6:22, 6:22, 6:22, 6:18), 2 mi. CD

15 mi. moderate pace LR (7:33 avg.)

2 mi. WU, 5 X 600 (2:09, 2:10, 2:09, 2:12, 2:12), 5 X 400 (1:24, 1:27, 1:27, 1:28, 1:28), 1.5 mi. CD

2 mi. WU, 5 mi. wave tempo (6:27, 6:25, 6:27, 6:25, 6:27), 2 mi. CD

Races: Only one race this month … the Baton Rouge Beach Half Marathon.

Favorite Race: By default this goes to the BRB Half. Honestly though, this was not one of my favorite races. I’m sure the fact that it was rainy and windy doesn’t help my evaluation of enjoyment factor. Weather conditions aside, I don’t think I would necessarily do this race again. There are just too many races that I really do like to re-run ones that are just “meh.”

Longest run: My longest run of the month was 15 miles. I think that will pretty much be my max distance LR for half marathon training. However, I did run 26 miles in one day this month, crewing for Rebecca’s 50 miler!

Shortest run: 3 miles.

Favorite run: My favorite run this month was the first run of the month when I was in Birmingham. It was so beautiful up there and I really enjoyed running on a few trails. A little change of scenery can do the mind and body wonders!  

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Rest days: … crickets …

Other: One of my goals for the new year is to make strength training a regular part of my weekly routine. I got a jump on that in December. I figured if I went ahead and started creating the “habit,” it might have a better chance of sticking. I went to two Body Pump classes and I really enjoyed them. Rebecca, Jessica and I also started doing group sessions with a trainer (personal training, but much cheaper :)) and we did that twice a week for the last two weeks of the month. Adding strength training into the mix has been a nice change so far. We are all really enjoying the group sessions. Gotta get ‘dem gainz.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited about ringing in the New Year! I am hopeful that 2017 will be a good one!