Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 by the miles

Goal for 2015: Run more and don't get injured.

I'm calling this a success. I ran 963 miles in 2014 and 1428 miles in 2015! And I managed to escape without any major injuries. I did mess my hip/back up during my marathon taper, but I really only lost about 2 weeks of running. While it was incredibly frustrating and nerve wracking at the time, when I compared that with the 6 week break I needed to allow a calf strain to heal, I really can't complain. It also helps that I didn't miss any races due to this minor injury.

Major Training Cycles

5k training recap
Marathon training recap
Bonus: half marathon training/racing thoughts

Race Reports

May 9, Shanty 2 Shorts: 21:02.7 PR
June 6, R2SOY 5k: 21:36

Half Marathon
February 22, Disney Princess Half: 2:14:07
June 27, Charlevoix Half: 1:47:52
September 20, CC River Run: 1:42:20 PR

October 18, Grand Rapids Marathon: 3:59:02 PR

Best Race

CC River Run. Hands down. In 2013 I ran CC River Run in 1:48. It was my second half marathon and a 12 minute PR. I figured that breaking 1:45 would be easy and set it as my next goal. Four half marathons and two years later I finally, finally beat that goal. I felt like I was flying for the entire race. I kept waiting for something to go wrong during the race but that never happened. 

Honorable Mention: Shanty 2 Shorts. I was hoping to take about 30s off of my 5k PR and ended up taking off over a minute. A huge, huge step toward my long term goal of breaking the 20 minute mark.

Worst Race

Charlevoix Half. I completely fell apart in the last couple miles and had to watch my A, B, and C goals slip away. I'm not sure I have ever felt quite so defeated after a race. I was starting to believe that I would never be able to break 1:45 and that if I failed this badly in half marathon, how would I ever make it to the finish line of a marathon.

Honorable Mention: Disney Princess Half. I have never felt so ill during and after a race. Definitely learned my lesson about training in the cold and trying to race in the heat with no time to acclimate [but I LOVED running with my sister and would do it again in a heart beat!].

Hardest Race

I couldn't recap my year with a special mention of my first marathon. Crossing the finish line was a feeling like no other, but it was hands down the hardest race of the year. Between mile 16ish and mile 20 I went from "I'm tired and this hurts" to "Never again." I was burned out exhausted at mile 20 that I was honestly thinking about dropping out. The only reason I didn't drop out is because I was positive that if I did I would have to run a redemption marathon. I'm still not sure how I managed to start running again and pick up the pace enough to squeak in under four hours.

While "never again" might be a bit of an exaggeration, I do intend to spend a few years focused on shorter distances before I run another marathon.

Final Thoughts on 2015

2014 was a pretty rough year for me. I set three goals for the year and ended up not achieving any of them. I didn't want a repeat performance in 2015 so I got rid of my pace/mileage goals for the year. It really helped me not to set any goals dependent on reaching a certain time. Of course I started each race with a goal in mind (how else would I know what pace to target?), but the success of the year wasn't dependent on whether or not I hit that goal. When I think about how this past year has shaped up, I am really happy with the way things went.

Taking the pressure off of the end result also allowed me to focus more closely on the process. This was especially helpful with 5k training. It was a completely new process and I really had no idea what to expect at the end of training. I'm looking forward to employing similar strategies for my 2016 goals and am really excited to see how much progress I can make towards my long term running goals.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Happy Holidays

I have just a few more hours of work standing between me and 11 glorious days off. I am so looking forward to sleeping in, finishing my grad school application, and making time for running and cross training. Oh and presents! I am definitely looking forward to presents!

My mother in law bought me this awesome ornament last year!
I have not run at all over the past four days and, if the forecast for thunderstorms is accurate, I probably won't be running tonight either. My husband has been extremely sick for the past week and I just keep waiting for his cold to claim me too. I started feeling a bit congested over the weekend and decided not to run with the hopes keeping myself healthy. It seems to be working because apart from a tiny bit of congestion, I feel fine. Thank you, rest days!

I'm not stressing too much about missed runs, because the break is really stoking the fire for my spring training. I am so excited to take on a new training plan and start crushing some 5ks! I mean I still need to sign up for some spring races and actually write the training plan, but other than that, I am ready!

I've also been working on the two most popular posts of the season: 2015 recap and 2016 goals. Hopefully those posts will be up next week. Until then Happy Holidays/Merry Christmas/Happy Festivus!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Life lately

I have not been running frequently enough to warrant any sort of training recap so instead of telling you about all of my extra rest days, I thought I would just provide a general life update.

I've been keeping my "training" very informal. I followed a pretty good 22 mile week with a week of only running twice. I have been reminding myself almost daily that I designated November-January as my off season and that NOW is the time to be okay with skipping a run.

I ran last night without my Garmin. I think I am going to stick with that for the rest of the week. Last night's run felt amazing. I'm starting to feel excited about my next training season and racing again. Yay!

Graduate School
The reason that I skipped so many workouts last week was so that I could focus my energy on my graduate school application. I have been alternating between feeling really confident and excited about going back to school and scared to death that I won't be accepted. In terms of actual work on my application I have completed one of the two required essays and received confirmation from 3 colleagues that they are willing to provide me with letters of recommendation.

The deadline for early consideration in January 15, the same day that I leave for California. I expect the next 4 weeks to be very busy with finalizing my application and am looking forward to a nice vacation as my reward for completing it.

Cross Training
Ugh. No. I have not even thought about P90X since that time I tried to do yoga and ended up skipping it. Part of me doesn't feel too bad since this is technically my off season, but the other part of me knows that I would benefit from being a more well rounded athlete.

Since I haven't been able to stay motivated with P90X I have been looking into other stretching/strengthening options that I could try. I don't want to sign up for a yoga class since I have tried that before and I hated it. I have been considering signing up for an adult ballet class (not Pure Barre, an actual ballet class). And by considering I mean my coworker mentioned it to me yesterday, lol.

I took dance lessons from age 4-17 (with a 2-3 year hiatus at some point in there) and took a semester of ballet when I was an undergraduate student, so at least I know that I would enjoy the class. I feel like this could really benefit me by improving flexibility and strengthening my hips, legs, and feet.

I have been loving this holiday season! I decorated our Christmas tree a few weeks ago and love seeing little kitty sleeping under the tree (thank goodness she doesn't try to climb it!). I sent out all of my Christmas cards this week. I even have 95% of my shopping handled, but I still need to wrap presents. Now I just need my actual holiday break to get here; just 5 more days of work.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Holiday Donut Dash

Last week I was aimlessly wasting time on Facebook and I saw that someone from my running group was going to an event called "Holiday Donut Dash." There was only a picture of donuts and a brief description of the event:

"5K Dash to Dom Bakery and back followed by some intense donut eating. Maybe you make the Wall of Fame. Maybe you just enjoy a run with some donuts. Or just come to run. Bring $5 cash for donuts."


I don't know if I mentioned it during training, but basically every Sunday during my long run my husband would go pick of donuts (from Dom Bakery, even!) and then I would eat a donut while sitting in my ice bath. Running and donuts is definitely my jam. I RSVPed yes and tried to find out more information about the "intense donut eating" and the mysterious "Wall of Fame." I couldn't really find any information so I decided I would just show up and wing it.

Finally Sunday arrived and I found out more about the event. You run from Ypsilanti Running Company to the bakery, stop and buy your donuts, run back to the running store (while carrying your donuts), and then eat 5 donuts as fast as you can. The whole thing is timed and the fastest times (combined running and donut eating and just donut eating) are recorded on a chalkboard wall in the running store. The dash is held on the first Sunday of every month.

Since I have not run anything close to 5k pace in months I decided to take it easy. I also figured that throwing up a bunch of donuts was not the best way to make new friends. I ran to the bakery at an easy pace (9:15ish pace), bought myself two donuts, and decided to kick up the pace on the way back. I surprised myself with a 7:15 final mile. It felt good to run fast! I could tell that I was working hard, but it definitely wasn't the all out burn of 5k pace. Maybe I still have a bit of speed that I can tap into!

Outdated Wall of Fame, because I failed to take a picture and snagged this old one from Facebook.

My run time was 27:35; I'm already looking forward to heading back next month to improve my time and eat some donuts. Once my spring training is underway and I am a little more comfortable with running fast I am definitely going to try to get my name on the wall. It is kind of an unpredictable race though since the course is not closed, so I had to wait for traffic at one intersection and there could be a line at the bakery. I definitely won't be setting a PR on this course, but it should still be lots of fun!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Weekend recap!

Last week almost felt like a normal week of running. For the first time post-marathon I ran 5 days/week and I had a sort of long run on Saturday. In addition to running more, I had a jam-packed weekend! My life is usually pretty boring. I run a lot, I sleep a lot, I eat a lot. Sometimes I take selfies with my cat (please try not to be jealous of my glamorous lifestyle). This weekend my husband and I left our boring comfort zone and tried a few new things.

Friday night happy hour aka a normal Friday night
Friday after work we headed downtown to grab a happy hour drink at Grizzly Peak Brewing Co. Beer of the night: 4k Hoppy Wheat, brewed from half Vienna & Wheat malts and generously hopped with Liberty & Willamette hops. It is the 4,000th batch of beer that Grizzly Peak has brewed.

After our beers we walked over to the farmers market to check out Christkindlmarket, a German Christmas market. We sipped Gl├╝hwein (hot, spiced wine) while we browsed the booths filled with hand made gifts and snacks. There were also fire pits available to warm up and roast s'mores. We completely lost track of time listening to the live music and the Christmas carolers.

My band geek husband loved that there was a clarinet.
I started Saturday morning with a sixty minute run and then met two of my college friends for an afternoon of shopping, eating, and non-stop talking. The mall was extra crazy (of course) and I was disappointed to discover that the bracelet I wanted to get my sister for Christmas has sold out both in stores and online. So I'm back to the drawing board for her present. Boo!

It was a wonderful day spent with friends, but I had to rush home so I could head to another brewery with Kendall. This time it was Wolverine State Brewing Co for their 5th anniversary party. Beer of the night: Vers l'avant, a golden lager made with Michigan Bartlett Pears and aged in white wine barrels. We stayed later than anticipated so we could check out the bluegrass band that was supposed to start at 9, but actually started around 9:30/9:45.

Wolverine for life. Go Blue!
By the time I got home Saturday night I was exhausted. So exhausted that I almost canceled our Sunday plans. All I wanted to do was stay in bed all day but instead I was dragged out to check out a new running group (more on this later this week). After the run we spent the afternoon doing all of our normal weekend things: grocery shopping, house cleaning, meal prepping. After three busy days, I am officially ready for another weekend.

Running totals
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 4.54 miles
Wednesday: 3.75 miles
Thursday: 3.76 miles
Friday: rest
Saturday: long run! I ran for just over an hour. It was my longest run since the marathon, and came in somewhere around 6.5 miles.
Sunday: Donut Dash 5k (more on this later)

Total Miles: I'd need to double check my Garmin, but around 21-22 miles.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Yoga fail and a racecation (sort of...)

Running has been feeling really good lately. It has been so nice to just head out for a few easy miles and not have to worry about my pace/struggling due to heat/struggling with the fact I'm scheduled to run 12 miles on a Tuesday. Even the weather has been cooperating; it was warm enough to wear shorts on December 1st! Basically running has been bringing me nothing but pure joy.

Even last night when it was mid thirties and raining. It should have felt cold and miserable, but I was just so happy to be out running that it didn't even bother me. When I finished my run I knew that I needed to do some yoga. I wish I could have just ran a few extra miles instead, but I've been telling myself that this is the time for cross training AND I've posted it on the blog so everyone will know when I flake out on it after just a few weeks...so I grabbed my mat and put in my yoga DVD.

Unfortunately just two minutes into the video I was interrupted by a phone call from my sister. Instead of doing yoga I ended up talking to my sister for over an hour and a half. This is what happens when your sister/best friend lives over a thousand miles away. The other benefit from this phone call (you know, other than saving me from the horrors of doing yoga) was that it gave us a chance to hammer out some details on a sort of impromptu sister vacation!

See you soon! (source)
My sister is a lover of all things Disney. She lives in Florida and runs basically all of the runDisney events (we did Princess together in February). In January she is running the Star Wars half marathon in California. It was supposed to be a family trip for her, but unfortunately some plans changed at the last minute. So now she is either A) Going by herself or B) Going with my 4 year old niece who will need a babysitter during the race. Well it just so happens that in addition to being an awesome race cheerleader, I am a pretty kick ass babysitter. So I'm booking a flight and headed to Disneyland for a week next month! Woohoo!

I won't actually be racing, but I am pretty excited to cheer for my sister while she races. And I get to hang out with my two favorite ladies for a week. And get out of the cold/snow for a week. And go to California for the first time. And this trip will be smack dab between my birthday and my sister's birthday, so it will kind of be a double birthday celebration for us!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

December Goals

I'm finding it hard to believe that there is just on month left in 2015. October and November were sort of strange months for me in terms of running, so I am hoping to get December on track and stay there.

I ran a half marathon at the end of September and started October needing to recover. Except I was determined to maintain my marathon training schedule and ended up pushing myself too hard. I ended up taking the first week of October completely off from running and the second week I ran a whopping 11 miles. The third week of October ended with my first marathon, and even though it felt like I had just taken a break from running, I knew that I really needed to take a break from running.

In November I tried to start running a bit more, 3-4 very, very short runs per week but I was sidelined by a nasty cold a week ago. I decided that if there was ever a time to take a few extra days off, it was now. I don't have any races lined up in the near future, so I didn't feel guilty at all about snuggling up on the couch with little kitty and a box of kleenex.

Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur...
Which brings me up to December. One final month to make 2015 awesome. My 2015 mileage is currently sitting at ~1360 miles. It would be pretty freaking awesome to hit 1500 for the year, but I am just not sure if that is a realistic expectation. Last year I had set a goal of running 1000 miles, but ended up finishing the year with 963. Definitely disappointing and I'd like to skip the disappointment this year. This year my only goal was to run more and not get injured. If I stopped running right now, I'd still have achieved my goal for the year.

Obviously I don't want to do that. I am setting a few goals to help keep me on track for this final month.

1. Get back into P90X. I let this slide while I was sick. And then when I was feeling better I started running again but neglected P90X.

2. Keep running! I'll be aiming for 1463 miles (500 miles more than last year) as my easy goal and 1500 as a stretch goal. Like I said, I haven't been running much lately and I want to be sure to rebuild my weekly mileage safely, instead of pushing myself just to hit a random number of miles.