Is This Thing Still On?!

Oh hai there!! It’s been a while…like, a long while. I really did mean to come back and write a quick recap of the Buffalo Creek Half, and then things got crazy (as usual) and I forgot. Then when I finally came back to WordPress, I couldn’t remember my password and locked myself out of my account. My bad. But I finally got it unlocked, so the quickest way to get back into things is with bullet points, and cat pictures.

  • I ran a 2:11:07 at the BCHM (a 7:16 PR!!!)! I was not expecting that at ALL and was on a runner’s high for days after! My game plan had been to start with Jennifer, and then around mile 5 or 6 go on ahead if I felt up to it. Then, at mile 10 speed things way up and race the last 5K. The weather was perfect for racing and around mile 4.5 or so I waved goodbye and went off on my own. The trail is SO PRETTY that time of year – I had to remind myself to keep running and not stop and just take pictures. I stuck to my plan really well at when I saw 2:11 on the clock at the finish I was stunned!
Shooter was cool with the race medal

Shooter was cool with the race medal

  • I don’t think I’ll be running the Pittsburgh Half 😦 . When registration opened I was just starting my classes and wasn’t sure I would have the time to train for that. By the time I decided I would probably be able to pull it off, registration was $100. I am a total cheapskate so there is no way I am paying over 100 bucks to run a half marathon. I know sometimes as it gets closer to race day, people sell their registration if they can’t run it so if I can find someone doing that (or a giveaway) I might give it a shot (and if my schedule cooperates). I’m a little sad to not be running it, because I’ve done some form of the half or full since 2012 but I’ll survive. Somehow.
Wilbur still can't hide. And I love it - I hope he never figures it out!

Wilbur still can’t hide. And I love it – I hope he never figures it out!

  • Speaking of school, I finished my first full semester of school about two weeks ago! WITH A 4.0!!! I worked my ass off for that, so pardon me for just a quick second while I brag about it 😀 !! Now that I have a few classes under my belt, I really do think I’m getting the hang of it. At first, I was operating under the assumption that I wasn’t spending every.single.waking.moment. on my school work then I was going to fail. I slowly learned that was not the case, and frankly, just not realistic. I really want to do a full post on that, just in case someone out there is in the same boat.I’m on break until the 10th and I am loving it!

D-U-N, DONE! Can you tell I was a little excited?

  • I may not be partaking in the Pittsburgh Half (or full) but I think I AM running a full marathon next year! Yessiree!! After giving some thought, I’m pretty sure I’m going to run the Harrisburg Marathon next November! There are some logistical things to work out, but I’m sure that it will work. As I mentioned, I’m getting better at managing my school work, and I feel pretty confident that I’ll be able to get in the training. I also already decided that I am just NOT setting a time goal for this race. For real, this time. I’m going to run this race 100% by heart rate, and whatever happens….happens. I just can’t handle finishing with another disappointing time. If I don’t set a goal time, I can’t be disappointed…right?! Sure..
These guys know how to relax

These guys know how to relax

..

 

I’ll keep this short – there is SO MUCH to talk about that I basically have nothing to say.

Give me a quick update on your life?! What did I miss? Are we still friends?

What did Santa bring you for Christmas?

 

Buffalo Creek Half Marathon Training – Week 2

Happy Monday, Wednesday, Thursday! I got a little sidetracked this week – I got my first course syllabus and have been mildly freaking out even since! There is quite a bit of work crammed into 8 weeks and the assignments look pretty intense. I think part of my anxiety is stemming from the fact that I don’t yet have the syllabus for my science class. I’m panicking over whether tests are going to coincide and I have all of this work for ONE class how am I going to manage another?! I’m also already wondering how this whole training thing is going to work out…I’m not going to worry about that tooooo much but it’s definitely on my mind.

So, onto another week of training! It was another low mileage week, and even with that there were still some tough runs in there.  I don’t have many running pictures again, but the cats were a total hit last week so they will be featured heavily again!

Monday: 3 miles 35:00 11:29 pace Avg HR:  147       It was a really beautiful morning with a fantastic sunrise! I don’t usually take my phone with me – it’s a pain to carry and my armband is chilling somewhere in Homewood, so I wasn’t able to capture it. Overall I felt great! I find that I’m getting better at naturally falling into the right zone and it’s less of a battle to keep my HR where it should be. I used to hate running easy, because it meant “slow”, but I’m slowly (haha, see what I did there??) falling in love with these.

 

Wilbur scoping out the goods

Wilbur scoping out the goods

Tuesday: 30 min tempo 3.1 miles 9:34 pace Avg HR:  168    I was a little nervous about this run. I tried a 30 minute tempo several weeks ago and didn’t even get 3 miles. I was a little embarrassed, and worried that I wouldn’t getting enough mileage with these tempos. But after analyzing the run, I noticed that I was really low in the HR zone and if I would just push it a little more I might see better results. And I was right! My splits were: 9:37, 9:52, 9:08, 10:46 for the .1 ! A little inconsistent with that middle mile but overall I was really excited by these results. I made great adjustments and great progress in just 2 weeks and that is proof that I’m on the right path.

Wilbur has been giving Gizmo hiding lessons.

Wilbur has been giving Gizmo hiding lessons.

 

Wednesday: 3 miles 33:00 10:54 pace Avg HR:  153  Another beautiful morning! The sunrises were off.the.chart. all week long and I loved it. They are definitely the types of mornings that make me happy & grateful that I run, and give me a chance to reflect on all kinds of things. I love it! I got a strength workout in Wednesday evening as well.

I wake up to this x4 every morning. Someone is not pleased that breakfast was delayed.

I wake up to this look x4 every morning. Someone is not pleased that breakfast was delayed.

 

Thursday: Strength. I know you aren’t supposed to do the NROLFW workouts back to back. But I did. Such a rebel.

 

I got snazzy new running shoes this weekend. When I got home, I promptly tried them on, and Shooter promptly stole the box.

I got snazzy new running shoes this weekend. When I got home, I promptly tried them on, and Shooter promptly stole the box.

Friday: 3 mile Pace Run 29:00 9:29 pace Avg HR:  172       AWE.SOME. The week before, I was little disappointed at my pace but after seeing my average heart rate, it was clear why. My heart rate was too low. This week I made a major effort to not let it dip below 170 and my pace went right back down into the mid 9’s. Imagine that.  It’s amazing how just a few beats can make a big impact on my pace.

I need this backpack. I know I'm not actually going to be going to school, so I don't NEED it....but boy, do I want that.

I need this backpack. I know I’m not actually going to be going to school, so I don’t NEED it….but boy, do I want that. In case you can’t tell, that’s CATS floating through the galaxy. Amazing.

 

Saturday:  6 miles 1:09 11:27 pace Avg HR: 162   This run sucked. I had so much on my mind and was having a hard time keeping it together to begin with, so this was tough. My heart rate was elevated from the get go and I just couldn’t bring it back down. I also went back to the hilly route around my neighborhood and it was harder than I remembered.  It’s amazing how much stress and other outside factors can affect heart rate. I’ve noticed that several times now and it while I’m aware of it, it never fails to amaze me.

She is nailing it.

She is nailing it.

 

Sunday. Rest day. It was the first “anniversary” (that sounds like such an odd word to use in this situation) of my step father’s passing and it was rough. Hence, Saturday’s run through Struggle Town. It was hard, but to be honest, the days leading up to it were even harder.  I was dreading it, but it ended up being OK. We (me, Tall One, my mom and my aunt) met  at the cemetery  and then went to an Irish pub (Siebs) for a toast. Not exactly conventional but exactly what  Lee would have wanted

 

It still feels weird to be doing such low mileage, but it seems that I am really responding to it so I won’t question anything! I think that within the next week or two, my morning runs will be coming to an end and that’s a total bummer. I LOVE early morning runs, but it’s already staying SO dark in the morning – I delay my starts for as long as I can but I won’t be able to do that much longer. Transitioning back to running after work can sometimes be tough for me but eventually I’ll get back in the groove.

Buffalo Creek Half Marathon Training – Week 1

How is it August already?! I feel like just yesterday we were still training for Pittsburgh and now we’ve all moved on to training for fall races! Crazy! Since everyone else has been training for BCHM for 3 or 4 weeks I feel like I am SO behind. This capped off the first week of training for me and it was great. When I picked my training plan (Hal Higdon’s Intermediate Half) I didn’t realize how LOW the mileage is. I only ran 16 miles this past week, but I felt like they were all quality. Thanks to this plan, and my heart rate training, I really feel like they all served a purpose and I can feel that they did. That probably sounds crazy, but for the first time in ages I really feel like I am making true progress with my training. That is an amazing feeling. Also. I have 0 running related pictures…so cat pictures it is! Sorry, but not really.
Monday: 3 miles 36:36 12:12 pace Avg HR: 153.  I always struggle with Monday runs, which is why I usually make that my rest day. This time around it’s time to suck it up and get it done. I could NOT drag myself out of bed that morning so I had to wait until after work to do it. It was HOT and sunny out, but I told myself that it was no biggie. Since it was an easy day, I didn’t have to worry about my pace or throwing down some major repeats. It wasn’t terrible, but it reminded my why I love running early; I was tired, and my legs were like lead and it was pretty toasty. I was disappointed when I realized that soon I’ll be doing most of my runs at that time since it will  be too dark to run before work. Major sad panda over here.
Sad Panda

Sad Panda

Tuesday: 5x400m repeats. I did not have high hopes for this one. I wasn’t feeling 100%, and the humidity was brutal. I usually do a 1 mile warmup, but only did about 3/4 of one – I had to make a pit stop home and since I was right by the road I do the repeats on I decided to just get them started. My target heart rate for repeats is 186-190, and I noticed that since the repeats are so short it’s not a lot of time for me to get my heart rate that high. Even with that, my splits were: 7:47, 7:35, 8:07, 7:51, 8:07 . My recovery intervals are .10 . I was really ecstatic to see splits in the SEVENS. WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?! Apparently, there is an inner speed demon that is just waiting to bust out.  Because of the recovery intervals, it’s hard to give an accurate representation of average heart rate, pace etc. but here they are: 1:.69 miles (does not include my warmup because I have to reset my watch) 16:00 9:29 pace. Avg HR: 171 BOOM!
Rub muh belly, please

Rub muh belly, please

Wednesday: 3 miles  33:00 11:00 pace Avg HR: 152  . This run doesn’t have a specific designation (not easy, not speed, not pace, etc) I designated this as a medium pace with the heart rate zone between my easy and long run zone: 155-160. I was met with 80% humidity but it didn’t seem too terrible, and I was able to keep my heart rate in the zone. Actually, it was just UNDER the zone at 152 so that was even better for the pace I was able to manage.
No respect. On the table, on my sweater. You can tell she's concerned about the ramifications

No respect. On the table, on my sweater. You can tell she’s concerned about the ramifications

Thursday: Weights! I finally moved on to the next stage of New Rules of Lifting for Women a few weeks ago and I really enjoy those workouts. The ONLY move I hate is the Dumbbell Cuban Snatch. It feels so unnatural and like I’m not doing it right (even with 3 lb weights) so I decided I’m not doing it anymore. I’ll substitute it for….something. Not sure what, but just not that!
Now we are crossing the lines. On the counter, bird watching.

Now we are crossing the lines. On the counter, bird watching. Obviously the counter was cleaned and a new towel was put down. And he was back 5 minutes later.

Friday: 3 miles 30:00 10 min pace Avg HR 167 . This is supposed to be a pace run and my heart rate should be between 170-174, so again I was a little low but still a really good effort. I was a touch disappointed that it wasn’t as fast as last week’s pace run (9:5x pace) but had I kicked it up a notch and gotten my HR up 5 more bpm I would have been back in the 9’s. It’s amazing to me how those few beats can so drastically effect your pace!
Breakfast is apparently self serve these days...

Breakfast is apparently self serve these days…

Saturday: 5 miles 1:02 12:23 pace Avg HR: 137 I met Jen at North Park bright and early at 6:30! The roads were practically empty (except, I did manage to get stuck behind the ONE other person out…going 5 miles under the speed limit), and it was so nice and cool. I only had 5 on the schedule so we did the first loop together; it was great to be reunited! Our schedules haven’t matched up for the last few weeks and it had been awhile since we tackled any miles together, so we got to catch up which made the miles FLY by! Before I knew it, we were back at our cars and Jen was fueling up to tackle the last 4 miles. Our roles are reversed for this training cycle – during marathon training I was always the one setting of to face the last few miles solo and now it’s Jen’s turn! She crushed it (of course), and used her last miles as a fast finish! Awesome!  It was awesome to be finished with my “long run” (I use long very loosely here since it was only 5 miles) before 8 AM! I literally had the whole day to get stuff done!
Sunday: Rest! I remembered when I was crawling into bed that I’m supposed to use Sunday as another weights day. My bad.
I’m really pleased with this week. I only totaled about 16.5 miles and I’m good with that. It can be tough to look on Daily Mile and see everyone else logging 10 and 20 miles per week more than me but I need to swallow my pride, and focus on me and my goals. For a while I was focused on quantity not quality in my plans, but I’m starting to appreciate that that may not always be the best option for me. It’s awesome to have focus and direction again!! I can’t wait to see what this training cycle brings 🙂
How was your week? Please tell me your pets have some bad manners/bad habits too?

Buffalo Creek Half Marathon Training Plan AND Sharing Some Exciting News!

This is my first week of training for the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon (BCHM from now on because that is just too much to type!), and I have yet to post my training plan. I’m finally getting around to that, and to be honest, it’s the not the most exciting. I tried to make my own plan – I did. I sat down at the kitchen table 3 weeks ago surrounded by planners, calendars, books, printouts, 7 different colored pens and….I just couldn’t do it. Nothing was making sense, or flowing and to be honest, I just didn’t want to do it.
I was so overwhelmed for some reason that making a plan seemed impossible. I decided to go back to the basics and stick with something that I know works. I used Hal Higdon’s beginner half marathon (Novice 1, I think) plan years ago for my first race and since that is my 2nd best half marathon time, I figured that Hal wouldn’t lead me astray this time either. I went back and forth between the Intermediate and Advanced plans and was even going to “merge” them – I loved the idea of doing long runs by time instead of distance but ultimately decided that might not be the best option. I’m on the slower side and if the plan calls for a 2 hour long run I may only get 10 or 11 (at most) miles in. I don’t feel like that’s enough. With the intermediate I’ll get a 12 miler in, and I know I’ll feel much more confident on race day with a 12 miler or 2 under my belt. So, Intermediate it is!! I’m also slightly shifting the plan around so that Saturday will be my long run day (the race is on Saturday, and I have *thing* about doing my long runs on the same day the race will be. Don’t ask.), and Sunday will be a rest day instead of Monday. This doesn’t sound like much, but I hate running on Mondays. For some reason, my body just doesn’t like it. Luckily, Mondays will be easy days so I don’t think it will be too horrible.
This should do

This should do

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ll be doing this all by heart rate so my zone are:
Recovery Runs (Monday): <155 bpm
Repeats (Every other Tuesday): 186-190 bpm
Tempo (Every other Tuesday): 170-178
Medium Pace (Wednesday): 155-160 bpm
Pace Runs (Friday): 170-174
Long Runs (Saturday): 151-164
For the last month or two, I’ve been doing a pretty good job of strength training 3x week and I’m going to do my best to stick with that, but we’ll see.
I have a little something extra going on in the background that will take priority over all of this, though.
***************************************
I’M GOING BACK TO SCHOOL!!!! I’ve applied, and been accepted to, Point Park University. I’ll be doing the classes online because I have no desire to go to night classes AND spend 9+ hours every Saturday in a classroom. The online option will give me more freedom and flexibility to continue working full time, and have a little bit of a life. I hope. This will obviously be my first priority and once classes start (August 23rd. I can’t wait!), I’ll have to see how training fits in. If I need to cut back and drop a weekday run then that’s what I’ll do.
I also have a vacation smack dab in the middle of this training cycle AND school that we’ll have to work around but I’ll worry about that when we get there 🙂
Gizmo is not thrilled with the idea. She'd rather sleep on the laptop than let me use it.

Gizmo is not thrilled with the idea. She’d rather sleep on the laptop than let me use it.

Obviously this is a huge step that warrants it’s own post, and once I have my classes scheduled and a better idea of what’s going on I’ll definitely be sharing!

2015 Jane Neely 5K – RACE RECAP!

I did not have high hopes going into this race. Originally, this was going to be a goal race and I wanted to put some serious effort into the training. Then, of course, life happened. It took me longer than I thought to get back to it after the marathon, I implemented a new type of training (heart rate), running in the humidity is tough, and I was sick for about a week right before the race. Have I listed enough excuses yet??  Let me throw in one more for good measure; I hardly did any speed work!
In an email to Jen, I told her that there was a good chance this race would be a “shit show”. She told me to have a little faith, and that the week and a half I lost might be a good thing and my legs would be well rested. *Spoiler Alert* Luckily, she was right and I managed to pull out a brand new PR by about 2 minutes!!

Wilbur helping me get ready for the race. He's got his Game Face On. Or maybe that's his Put-Me-Down-Before-I-Cut-You face. Not sure.

Wilbur helping me get ready for the race. He’s got his Game Face On. Or maybe that’s his Put-Me-Down-Before-I-Cut-You face. Not sure.

I ran this race last year and really enjoyed it. It’s super close to home (takes place at Kiwanis Park in Shaler Twp), small, low key and the course is flatish. It’s an out and back with the slightest grade for a little more than a mile that you can’t see but you can feel. THEN at the end there is a monster climb that goes straight up. It’s not as bad as the Frigid 5 hill but it’s still a beast and “that shit’s just mean“.
Courtesy of Google Maps - this is the start of THE hill. The picture doesn't do it justice.

Courtesy of Google Maps – this is the start of THE hill. The picture doesn’t do it justice.

Courtesy of Google Maps - this is the start of THE hill.  The picture doesn't do it justice.

This is part two of THE hill. It levels off for about half a second and then you have this last steep little climb.

The race course was a little different from last year. Last year, we walked DOWN the beastly hill and started on Little Pine Creek Road, ran out, turned around and came back then climbed the beast and finished in the outfield of the baseball field at Kiwanis Park. Thanks to all of the rain, though, the field was way too muddy so the finish was moved behind the park to the parking lot of the elementary school next door. They also moved the start line so that it was in the parking lot right in front of the finish line. So not only did we have to run UP the beast at the end, we had to run DOWN the beast at the start. Normally a downhill start is awesome but this is a STEEP downhill and I lack basic coordination skills so I was worried about tripping and face-planting on the new, slick asphalt.

My goal for this race was to stay in particular heart rate zone (180-188 bpm), and while my average HR was 188, I was sitting at my max (192) for at least a mile and on the last hill I hit 200 at one point. Oops.

The race itself was pretty uneventful. It wasn’t hot out (about 66*) but omg the humidity! It was about 96% at the start and it just felt…soupy.  Once I got down the massive hill (and didn’t fall. YAY!) I started to cruise while keeping an eye on my heart rate. I got into my zone pretty quickly and remember thinking that it was hard. Not impossible, but maintaining that would be difficult. I pushed those thoughts aside and tried to stay focused. The first mile went by really quickly and I made it a point to NOT look at my watch. A few weeks ago, I took away the pace field and replaced it with heart rate, but my watch will still show each mile time for about 10 or 15 seconds. I didn’t want to know what the time was – if it was too slow, I would have been pissed and if it was too fast I would have panicked. Not long after the first mile, I hit my max heart rate. This is where I went off my plan because according to the rules, I should have slowed down or walked to get the heart rate down but that just wasn’t happening. In the back of my mind, I also remembered that you could adjust your heart rate if it was super humid so I used that as my justification. 188+5 = 193 = I’m still OK.
Just after mile 2 though, I started to feel it. I knew that I was slowing a bit but my heart rate was still at max but I didn’t care. Even with the pace field gone, I could do enough basic math to tell that I was going to PR if I didn’t slow down. BUT I still had the hill at the end, and that could make or break me. Then I started the internal battle – slow down a little now, to save some for the end vs eff it, just go and worry about the hill when you get there. This battle went on for a bit, and before I knew it…I was at the hill. So I never did pick a side because I was too busy trying to pick the side. Say what?! I put my head down and just went for it. I passed two people on the climb up, and did a little internal cheer. I had been leapfrogging with one girl for almost half a mile, so to cruise past them was kind of satisfying. Actually. It was a lot satisfying. A half mile before, I came up on this girl who was walking, and right before I passed her she looked back, saw me, and started to run again. Then she would get a little bit ahead of me, and walk until I caught up with her. Then she would run again. This gets annoying, and I don’t know if I’m reading too much into it but it kind of feels like it’s  “oh, I can’t let HER pass me“, because I kind of look like a baby sasquatch lumbering along, and they can’t let the short, chubby girl pass them?! I don’t know maybe it’s nothing but when it happens every time, I start to get a little self conscious. *Side note. I looked up the results and she was only 15 or 16. So I feel a little bad getting mad, but it still irritates me.  Once I got up the hill into the parking lot, it leveled off, so I was able to take a deep breath and kick it to the finish to make sure that the girl from the hill didn’t catch me at the end. 26:05, 8:25 pace 5th place age group. Not.too.shabby.

015

At least 5 minutes after I finished and my heart rate was still high.

My watch registered the course as short – 2.99, but my friend’s said 3.1 on the nose so I’m thinking that my Garmin is just off. Seeing that shortened distance gives me mixed feelings though. Even though my friends that also ran this race assured me that the course distance was right on their watches, I can’t help but feel that I didn’t actually run 3.1, which means my time isn’t actually correct, even though it matches the gun time perfectly (there is no chip timing in this race). I still would have PRd, but it almost feels like I cheated. Then again, if my watch had come up as 3.2 miles I would have been pissed that it was long and that I missed a PR so….who knows.
If there aren't Eat N Park smiley cookies at the finish line, it's NOT a Pittsburgh race ;-)

If there aren’t Eat N Park smiley cookies at the finish line, it’s NOT a Pittsburgh race 😉

My friend also ran this race and finished 3rd in her age group with a 25:15 finish time! We were both a little jealous that the Brentwood 5K had beer at the finish line and this race didn’t so…we brought our own! We enjoyed a much deserved cold one as we popped the hatch of my car and cheered on the other finishers!

Beer from America's oldest brewery seemed appropriate for the 4th!

Beer from America’s oldest brewery seemed appropriate for the 4th!

I’m really happy with this finish time (even with the distance discrepancy), and I’m pretty sure that I would not have been able to do this had I been doing it on my own, rather than with the heart rate monitor. I would have seen an 8:07 mile, freaked, and slowed waaaaaaaaaaay down. This method is really giving me the confidence that I need to reach my full potential and I am really excited to see what I can do. There is lots to do before October but I am ready to WORK!
Did you race on the 4th? How’d ya do?