Burnout

Ugh. The dreaded topic.

Side note: I really wasn’t wanting to write this post, but I managed to leave my keys in Daniel’s car and he is working all day today, so it’s just me, Brooks and my thoughts here at the house today. Here we go …

Second side note: This post is mainly about running (duh!), but burnout can happen in many different areas of your life as well. About a year and a half ago I experienced career burnout. After 7 years of working 70+ hour weeks during tax season I was just done. I realized that the goal I had been working towards (making partner) was not at all what I actually even wanted. It was one of those things that I just thought I was supposed to do (you have really got to watch out for those “supposed to dos” in life), when in actuality it was the farthest thing in the world from what I wanted.

Burnout is one of those hazards in life that over-achievers should really be keeping a close eye out for … but because of the “I can do everything” mindset, you rarely see it coming. Because you are often passionate about what you are doing, you tend to ignore the fact that your’re working exceptionally long hours, taking on exceedingly heavy work loads, and putting enormous pressure on yourself to excel, thus creating the perfect storm for burnout.

Psychology Today defines burnout as “a state of chronic stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.” Burnout doesn’t happen suddenly. You don’t wake up one morning and all of a sudden “have burnout.” It happens subtly, creeping up on us over time, making it harder to recognize.

Physical and mental burnout can be correlated. Physical burnout can lead to mental burnout and vice versa.

Signs and symptoms of physical burnout include sleep loss, weight loss, increased resting heart rate, increased exercise heart rate, higher incidence of colds and respiratory infections, increased blood pressure, increased muscle soreness and chronic muscle fatigue, decrease in muscle glycogen and loss of appetite.

Signs and symptoms of mental burnout include lack of desire to get out the door and run, increased perception of difficulty on runs, even easy runs, depression, decreased motivation and anxiety about next workout/race.

I think I’ve been teetering on the brink of burnout for several weeks now. My last post “Just Keep Swimming” was my last ditch attempt to convince myself that what I was feeling was normal that I need to push through. Of course it is easier to recognize this in hindsight.

The physical signs were there: I was unable to hit the paces in workouts that I should’ve been able to (based on other recent workouts, races, etc.) on three workouts in a row, I was crazy sore after these workouts (not normal for me) and I was fighting a random stomach bug and respiratory infection. I also went back and tracked my resting heart rate over the last few weeks (#nerdalert) and it was pretty consistently 10 – 15 bpm higher than my typical resting heart rate. Yikes!

As a marathon runner, you will certainly be stiff and sore on some runs and having a bad workout here and there is inevitable. There are very few marathoners that don’t have at least one or two really bad workouts during a training cycle. The key is to realize when it is becoming a trend and when it is an isolated incident. I typically do two hard workouts per week and so to have three in a row not go well definitely meant something was up.

The mental signs were there: I was dreading my workouts. That is absolutely not normal! I mean, sure I can procrastinate a workout with the best of ’em, but dread … that was a new one. The motivation was gone (left the building)!

I have been worked really hard in my training this summer. I’ve put in a lot of long hours (i.e., miles), with a heavy work load (i.e., stress workouts) and somehow I ended up feeling like there was too much pressure on running.

Running is something that I am truly passionate about, but I feel like it’s time to take a little step back and re-evaluate exactly why this is. What I do know is that a lot of things in my life are tied to running right now. I run. I coach runners. I write about running. My shared hobby with Daniel is running. Most of my friends are runners. The list goes on and on. The other thing that I know is that while yes, I am a runner and I [usually] love it, running doesn’t define me as a person and my self-worth is not defined by paces and race times.

I knew that I had to talk to my coach about the possibility of backing off the training a little bit. I was really dreading that conversation. In my mind, I thought telling him that I needed a break was like I was waving the white flag of defeat. I would be saying that the training was too much for me to handle and that I might as well hang up all of my goals right then and there.

He told me, “Admitting you are  human is the first step towards becoming super-human.” Um. Yes! I think I need to frame that somewhere. He also said that it is better to listen to my body now than to fizzle out mid-cycle, which totally makes sense. I am still in the early weeks of marathon training and taking a break from stress workouts for a week or two now isn’t going to completely derail my training (contrary to what the voices in my head were trying to tell me).

What’s next? The plan is to take some time off, mainly from stress workouts, for a week or two. Next week’s schedule says “4-8 miles easy or a rest day” each day. I know that it is going to be hard. At this point, taking a rest day takes more discipline than actually running does.

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I am going to focus on being honest with myself and listening to my body. I know that this doesn’t make me weak or a quitter. Hopefully I’ll come back stronger and ready to fight!

Just Keep Swimming

Hey guys! Happy Monday!

We are almost to the last week of August, football starts next weekend AND the shrimp boats are back in the bay. Do you know what that means? We are getting closer and closer to fall!

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The goods news is that there is in fact a light at the end of this summer heat and humidity tunnel that we have been running through. The bad news is that it might get worse before it gets better. I promise it will get better. Until then … just keep swimming.

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It seems to me that sometimes towards the end of the summer, training gets even tougher (mentally) because you think it is *supposed to be* already getting better. Shouldn’t we be acclimated by now? Perhaps to an extent, yes. But as you know, it’s never black and white. You don’t wake up one day magically adjusted and able to run the same pace that you would in cooler, drier conditions. When those cooler and drier conditions come … now that’s another story!

Hopefully you aren’t having to adjust your pace by quite as much as you did at the beginning of the summer though, right? You are making progress!

If you have been training throughout the summer, you have to remember that you have been running in the heat and humidity for several months now and your body is just likely a little bit drained and just worn down. I’m really not trying to be negative (just realistic). My point is that you have to remain diligent in your training and your recovery and patiently wait for the drier air and cooler temperatures.

Keep hydrating and recovering like a champ! We expect our bodies to do a lot for us, so in return we have to do a lot for our bodies. Practice some self care and self love and don’t beat yourself up if your workouts still aren’t going exactly as you hoped (P. S. I’m totally talking to myself right now).

In the spirit of embracing the remainder of the summer weather, Daniel and I decided to hit the beach for a short run yesterday afternoon! He needed a few miles to get over 50 for the week and I was happy to support his need for even numbers.

I did a similar run a few weeks ago. This time we did a little bit of a shorter route, but with the same general plan. We ran 2.5 miles on the road and then headed down to the bay and ran back home on the beach.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to plan this run at low tide. We checked the tide charts, but low tide was at close to 10 p.m., so that wasn’t going to work. We decided to give it a go anyway, but the water was pretty high and the bay was choppy.

I don’t know if “running” would really be an accurate description of what we did. There was some running, but mostly wading, hurdling and rock climbing. I think we will count this as a cross training day!

We had fun! We both agreed that we would like to make a beach run part of our semi-normal routine. We would also like to make yoga, strength training and cooking part of our semi-normal routine as well. Don’t hold your breath!

Tell me: What is something that you have good intentions of doing but that sometimes gets overlooked?

Work + Workouts

Hi! I hope you had a wonderful week and are enjoying your weekend!

Our second tax season (you know, the one they don’t tell you about when you are in school) is in full swing, so this was a busier than normal work week for me. Thankfully, it was also really productive! There is something very satisfying about getting lots of returns finalized. Nerd alert.

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We had our pictures made for our new website a couple of weeks ago. Here is the finished product! I am so thankful for my work family.

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In other news … marathon training is officially underway!

Technically this was the 3rd week of training, but I wasn’t really counting the first two weeks as marathon training in my mind. Mentally I felt like I needed a little bit of a break from “official” training. Since there wasn’t an actual race at the end of my last training cycle, the cycle didn’t really have formal closure. I still ran 31 miles, but it wasn’t a race so it just didn’t *feel* the same.

I decided (in my head) that this week was going to be the first official week of training. My head and the rest of my body were apparently on different wave lengths though, because the week was definitely less than stellar.

I started the week off with some sort of weird stomach bug, which wasn’t really ideal. I was supposed to do a 3 X 2 mile workout Tuesday, but I decided to give myself an extra day to recover and I ended up doing that workout Wednesday instead.

The schedule called for a 2 mile warm up, followed by 3 X 2 mile repeats with a goal range of 6:15 to 6:25 pace and a 2 mile cool down. I typically do these longer repeat workouts on the treadmill, but Daniel agreed to do the workout with me this week so we *attempted* it outside. It didn’t go exactly as planned. You win some, you lose some.

My average paces were 6:25, 6:40 and 7:00.

I kind of let my perfectionist, overly self-critical tendencies get the best of me and I was definitely a bit discouraged after this workout. It is so easy to let a bad workout get in your head and make you feel like you have (oh.my.gosh) lost all of your fitness (every single bit of it). On the other hand, it is also easy to not give yourself credit for the good workouts. It’s just like meh, that’s what was expected of me (which is definitely not the best outlook).

There are positive and negative takeaways from every workout and race that we do. Sometimes you just have to do a bit more digging to find those positives. In hindsight, here are a few positives …

1) I did the workout outside (meaning that it was dark, it was humid and there were hills … how rude). I have to learn to give up the security of the treadmill every now and then. I don’t mean security in a safety sense, but rather the security of having the treadmill control and maintain the pace for me. The treadmill is a wonderful pacer and it is a good tool to utilize sometimes (especially if you need a confidence boost), but doesn’t need to be used all of the time.
2) I didn’t give up. I seriously considered calling it a day after the second set, but I stuck with it. It’s better to keep fighting and run a little bit slower than your goal pace than to give up all together. Not every workout goes exactly as planned (pace wise) and I will still benefit from the work that was put in.
3) Daniel and I got in a good workout together. Couples who do LT (lactate threshold) repeats together stay together LT (long-term)! That’s what I decided anyway.

Daniel was not available for a comment or a picture after the workout, so Brooks filled in for him for a post-workout picture. Thanks Brookser!

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My legs were incredibly sore from this workout. It felt like I had raced a half marathon or something. I’m not usually that sore from a workout. Now I’m wondering if I actually had some sort of virus or something that was lingering a little bit longer than I realized. Either way, it was bizarre!

Thursday morning Rebecca, Jessica and I had a nice, easy run and came back to a beautiful sunrise over the bay. The mornings are definitely getting a little bit darker (bummer!), but the views are worth it.

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Saturday morning I had a 16 mile long run with the last 4 miles up-tempo (with a 6:45 to 7:00 goal range). I ran 12 miles with the group from Running Wild and then headed back out to do the last 4 on my own. It was a bit of a struggle, but I averaged 7:03 for the last 4 miles. I can live with that!

That’s where we are now. I’m pretty much in a run, work, eat, sleep and repeat cycle right now. I’m going to do my best to work posts back into my regular schedule. It just takes me a little while to settle into a good rhythm.

Talk to you soon!

A Change of Heart

Hello!

Good news. I figured out the issue with the recovery time on my Garmin. I know you were all super interested in that … I’m kidding. BUT apparently some others were having the same issue (this is for you Lizzie and Jill). It’s a pretty easy fix. You just need to set the maximum heart rate in your user profile.

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This can be done directly from your watch: go to My Stats > User Profile > Heart Rate Zones > Max Heart Rate or from the Garmin Connect app: go to More > Click on your Device (in the top right corner) > User Settings > Heart Rate Zones > Max Heart Rate.

Once you are here, adjust the maximum heart rate. If you aren’t sure what your maximum heart rate is, in the Garmin Connect app: go to Health Stats > All Day Heart Rate. You can see your low and high heart rates for each day for up to the last 12 months. I would recommend finding a hard race or fast repeat workout that you did and basing it on the maximum from that day.

At the two mile race I did last week, my maximum heart rate was just over 210. This is the highest heart rate that I have seen since I got my Garmin Forerunner 235. I adjusted this setting on my watch and the recovery feedback that I have been getting makes much more sense! Yay.

If you don’t go in and adjust the setting, the default maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. For me this would be 189. Since my max heart rate is actually a decent amount higher than this, before I adjusted this setting my watch thought that I was basically redlining on all of my runs. No wonder it told me I needed to cool my jets!

Unfortunately most Garmin watches don’t automatically update these stats based on your actual data. The built-in heart rate sensors are still a relatively new technology. According to Garmin, “While our wrist HR monitor technology is state of the art, there are inherent limitations with the technology that may cause some of the heart rate readings to be inaccurate under certain circumstances. These circumstances include the user’s physical characteristics, the fit of the device and the type and intensity of the activity as outlined above.”

I try to pay attention to my heart rate levels after each stress workout that I do, as this gives you good feedback as to whether you were training at the correct intensity to get the desired adaptation from the workout. An elevated resting heart rate can be a sign of over-training and/or dehydration, so it’s a good idea to monitor your resting heart rate as well.

I mainly just wanted to share this info today, but since we are here I might as well fill you in on my weekend runs as well …

Saturday morning I ran with Daniel and his training buddies. My schedule called for a moderate pace long run and their normal long run pace is basically my long run pace, so that works out pretty well.

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I wasn’t quite in the range that I was supposed to be, but I’m still happy with this run overall! Post run we did the usual breakfast and hang out at Warehouse thing. After this run my Garmin told me that I needed 19 hours of recovery, which makes much more sense than the typical 72 hours that it has been telling me. Success.

This morning I met the girls at the pier and did 11 easy miles. We had a great run! Post run we did the usual caffeinate and hang out at Coffee Loft thing. Daniel came and met us and brought the iPad so that we could watch the Women’s Olympic Marathon live. We had three top-notch women representing the United States and they all ran their hearts out! It was very inspiring to watch.

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I hope you had a great weekend! See ya soon!

Fitterest Friday (v. 1)

Happy Friday!

Is it raining where you are? We are getting soaked!

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It feels like it has been raining for days and it doesn’t exactly look like it’s going to let up anytime soon either. Might as well make the best of it I reckon!

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I’ve decided that Fridays on the blog are going to be Fitness + Pinterest = Fitterest. The name might change, but that’s what I’m going with for now.

I’ve pretty much been doing this anyway, but on Friday I will do a weekly run down of my training and share some wonderfully random pins that I find during the week. Let’s go!

Monday: 8 easy
Tuesday: 4 easy + 2 mile Race
Wednesday: 8 easy + 5 easy
Thursday: 8 easy
Friday: 8 easy 

Just easy miles this week to recover from the 2 mile race, so nothing really major to report. My legs were definitely feeling that for a few days.

I’ve got lots of partying on tap this weekend! How about you?

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Running and napping are two of my favorite pastimes!

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Who knew that Pooh was so wise. If I don’t get a smallish nap or two this weekend … oh bother!

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I think this rain has me super sleepy today! Lots of napping quotes. Let’s see what else I can find.

Ahh, yes! #truthbomb

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And since it is Friday afternoon after all …

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I. Can’t. Even. Isn’t that little guy the cutest?

What is the weather like right now where you live? Are you going to take a nap this weekend? I hope you have a great weekend doing whatever it is that you are doing!

30 Things

I thought it might be fun to do a little reminiscing and share 30 highlights from my 30th year. 30 was a wonderful year, dare I say the best year (so far)! For any new readers, it’ll be a good way to get caught up. If you’ve been reading all along (THANK YOU) and don’t care to rehash this stuff, then feel free to skip this one.

I’ve heard that your thirties are great years and from my (somewhat limited at this point) experience, I couldn’t agree more! I have been able to accept struggles as life lessons and gain a greater sense of purpose this year. Life is fragile and precious. Spend some quality time focusing on aligning who you truly are on the inside with what you are doing on the outside and figuring out why you are truly here. We all have a purpose!

Without further ado, here are 30 things (some serious, some silly) in chronological order that happened while I was 30.

  1. I started a new job that was horrible. You’re thinking … why is this a highlight, right? Just keep reading. But first I have to share this conversation that went down during my first (and only) week at the new job. Names have been changed to protect the innocent guilty.

Joe: I hear you are an expert in trust and estate returns. Is that correct?
Me: I have prepared them before, but I wouldn’t consider myself an expert by any means.
Joe: I asked you a yes, no question.
Me: Well, the answer would be no then.
Joe: When you get done here, come to my office, I have something for you to do.
Me: Sure, I’ll be right there.

There was another shareholder in my office during that part and when she left, I was going to head to Joe’s office, but I hear him on the phone at this point, so I wait until I hear him hang up. Immediately upon hanging up the phone, he pages me over the intercom in my office (I am about 10 feet away).

Joe: Did you not hear me when I asked you to come over here?
Me: Yes sir, I heard you, I am on the way.
Joe: (As I walk through the door … ) Did I not make myself clear enough for you when I asked you to come to my office?
Me: (Getting a little flustered at this point, but trying to stay calm) Yes sir, you were very clear, I heard you on the phone so I was waiting until you were done to walk over.
Joe: I don’t want to hear excuses.
Me: Blank stare.

Joe gives me the details of a project he wanted me to work on. I won’t bore you with those details.

Joe: So, I hear you run marathons.
Me: (Thinking, oh good maybe he’s going to be friendly now) Yes sir, I’ve done a few.
Joe: Which ones?
Me: I’ve done the one here in town a couple of times, I’ve done Boston …
Joe: (Interrupts) Oh really? Were you there the year that they blew it up?
Me: (Thinking, that’s a really odd and insensitive way to phrase that, but whatever) No sir, thankfully, I ran it the year before that.
Joe: So the race wasn’t on April 15th that year?
Me: Well, the race is always on Patriot’s Day, so it’s always somewhere around that time, but I don’t remember the exact date.
Joe: So you went to Boston, ran the race and then immediately came back to finish tax season?
Me: No sir, I had all of my projects completed or extended before I left and we stayed up there a few days after the race.
Joe: Just so you know, that will never be an option here.
Me: Exit stage right. Thinking to myself, “This isn’t really that big of a deal, I have no plans to run Boston again, but I don’t understand what he is trying to do here, other than be a total jerk.”

    1. Cont … I quit said job. This is where the highlight comes in! I stood up for myself! I do not think that anyone deserves to be talked to that way or treated that way on the first week at a new job. Looking back, I think he was just testing me to see how I would react. WELL … I’m not going to stand for someone using a position of authority to jerk me around. I guess quitting was the ultimate reaction. It would’ve been really validating if I had quit right there on the spot, but honestly it was still a hard decision. Starting and quitting a job in less than 2 weeks is not really an ideal career move. The guy that hired me was so very nice. I really wanted it to work with that firm, but there was no way that I was going to be able to work with “Joe.” I don’t have thick skin (nor do I think that I should have to have thick skin).
    2. I was able to go back to (a new and improved version of) the firm that I worked with for 4 years prior to making this change. HUGE BLESSING!
    3. I trained for the New York City Marathon.
    4. I coached the full marathon training group at Running Wild. This was my introduction to coaching and I loved it!
    5. I was chosen as a top 10 finalist in the Runner’s World Cover Search. What?!
    6. I went to New York City (for the first time ever) to participate in a photo shoot for the cover search.
    7. Daniel and I celebrated our 5th anniversary!
    8. We made a quick trip to 30A to run a half marathon.
    9. I learned how to chop wood.
    10. I ran the New York City marathon as a sub-elite runner.
    11. We saw Lion King on Broadway.
    12. The December issue of Runner’s World was released and I was so grateful to have been given the opportunity to share my story and glorify The Lord through running.
    13. Daniel didn’t have to work Thanksgiving and we got to have Thanksgiving dinner together for the first time in a while.
    14. We went rappelling!
    15. I won the tacky Christmas sweater contest at small group.
    16. We made another quick trip to 30A for Daniel’s birthday!
    17. We got to spend quality time with my family (Christmas Eve) and Daniel’s family (Christmas Day), because once again … Daniel didn’t have to work! SO THANKFUL!
    18. I had an absolute BLAST running the First Light Marathon Relay with my wonderful running friends (and got an unofficial 10K PR in the process).
    19. I became an AUNT!
    20. I ran my first trail race.
    21. I made it through tax season with ZERO tears. Zero. Unless you have worked in public accounting and/or are a super sensitive person, you might not understand the significance of this, but trust me. It’s a BIG DEAL.
    22. Mom and I went on our annual post-tax season relaxation trip to 30A.
    23. I became an RRCA Certified Coach!
    24. Team “Flip Flops in Porta Johns and Other Bad Decisions” dominated Ragnar Tennessee!
    25. I celebrated National Running Day with some wonderful running friends!
    26. I got major cool wife points for finding Daniel a motorcycle to play on.
    27. I ran a MILK MILE.
    28. Daniel FINALLY wrote a guest post on the blog.
    29. Daniel and I had a wonderful vacation to Destin that included beach runs, a couples massage, good food, and jumping on a bungee trampoline!
    30.  I ran a 2 mile PR on my last day as a 30-year-old.

There you have it. 30 things that happened last year. I can honestly say that this is the most content, appreciative and thankful that I remember feeling. Thank you to everyone who has made this one of the best years of my life!

Race Recap: Chickasabogue Park 2 Miler (PR)

Hello! I’ve got a race recap to share with you today.

Last night I ran a two-mile race at Chickasabogue Park in Mobile County. I’ve done this race several times before (2012 – 2014). There aren’t many two mile races, so it’s fun to race a shorter distance every now and then. Also because there aren’t many two mile races, the age group state records are sometimes semi-attainable.

Every so often a race distance will come up where I have a shot at an Alabama record for my age. It’s usually an uncommon distance (1 mile, 4 mile, 10 mile, etc.) that people don’t race very often. Let’s face it, Alabama isn’t known for being one of the fastest states in the country. Even so, it’s still cool to say that you have a state record!

Also if nothing else, it gives me a good goal time to chase when I otherwise wouldn’t really know what to shoot for. About a month or so ago when I was planning my fall race schedule, I checked the state record website to see what the two-mile record was for my age. It is 11:23 for a 30-year-old female and 11:40 for a 31-year-old female.

The race was the day before my birthday, so 11:23 was the goal (or well, just under that). The strategy was to race as evenly as possible, but I wanted the first mile to be just a few seconds faster than goal pace because the course is an out and back with a very slight downhill on the way out and a very slight uphill on the way back. The turnaround also slows you down some.

The race started at 6:30 p.m. It takes about 45 minutes to get over to the park, so we left the house around 5. I hadn’t registered for the race, so I wanted to make sure that we had plenty of time to get there, get registered, get a few warm up miles in, etc. before the race started.

After a 3 mile warm up and some strides, it was go time!

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The start was a little bit crowded, but it cleared out really quickly and by about a quarter of a mile in I found myself running completely by myself. There was one guy ahead of me (Alex) and I was running about 10 – 15 seconds per mile slower than he was. I was really hoping to have someone to pace with, as I find this to be extremely beneficial in races, but that didn’t really work out this time.

I came through the first mile in 5:41. Whew. I was right on track, but I was working really hard. I had to stay really focused during this race. There were several times when I was actually talking out loud (quietly) to myself. I was saying, “Keep this pace. Don’t fall off. You’ve got this.”

According to my watch, my second mile was 5:43. My official race time is 11:26.9, so I got an extra two seconds somewhere in there. I missed the state age group record, but this was still a 7 second PR for me, so I am super happy!

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We did a 3 mile cool down after the race. The guys tricked me into running on trails for a little bit and wouldn’t you know it, I ran right into a massive spider web! There was a HUGE spider was dangling from my arm. I didn’t freak out, but eww. No thank you.

In hindsight, I needed to run the first mile a tad quicker, as the turnaround slowed me down a good bit and I didn’t leave myself much of a cushion at all to fall off of the pace in the second mile. I was kind of intimidated at the thought of running 5:40 pace to begin with though, so I don’t think I could’ve wrapped my head around a faster pace before the race.

My times have gotten faster each time I’ve done this race (12:32, 12:00, 11:33 and now 11:26), so I am moving in the right direction. It’s always nice to see the progress over the years.

What is your favorite distance to race?