NVHM – Reflecting on my Training

I’m still not 100% sure what my goals for this race are, but I wanted to reflect on a few things before this weekend.

I first decided to run this race (back in August), and I didn’t have any solid goals then, either.  At the time it was more about getting back into the training groove after taking some time off, and rebuilding a solid base so that I could rock the Pittsburgh Marathon in May.   I wanted to run a smart training cycle – listen to my body, don’t overdo it, and most of all HAVE FUN!  I feel like I really did that and then some:

I started to incorporate real speed work into my training. Not just a half-assed attempt at a tempo or fartlek runs, either. Real honest to goodness speed work.  And I liked it! For a long time, I would *try* (and I use that term loosely) to incorporate some speed into my training but I was going about it all wrong.  If I was doing a tempo, I’d get that first warm up mile in and then go out way too fast and burn out before I even reached another half mile. I learned how to gradually increase my speed, so that I could maintain that pace and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

I learned to LOVE hills! I used to hate hills. All of them.  Then, earlier this year as I was training for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon I decided that I needed to start incorporating some if I wanted to do well. I was also battling Achilles Tendonitis  at the time and wasn’t able to run much, so I figured what little running I could do would be on hills to get the most bang for my buck.  I showed up to that starting line with the least amount of training I’ve ever done for a race, was just grateful to be there, with had no time goal at all. I just wanted to have a good race, do the best I could on THAT day…and ended up setting a 2 minute PR and smashing my PR on that course by over 15 minutes! If you look at my training for that time by just the numbers – mileage and paces – I had NO business running a 2:18 that day.  I firmly believe that those hills had everything to do with it, and I’ve been hooked ever since! I look forward to my Saturday hill runs, and I now go out of my way to make sure I hit as many as possible. Hills are the best!

I listened to my body. This can be one of the hardest parts of training, but I feel like I’m making progress! No one likes to take time off, but this year I’ve learned what can happen when you try to keep pushing through and I’ve realized that taking one or two days off is so much better than taking 1-2 months (or more) off because I was stubborn.  

And, finally…my favorite part of this training:

I started running with a friend.  Prior to this fall, I had never run with anyone before and to be honest, I didn’t think that I would like it. Then I learned how wrong I was. Running with a friend is the BEST! We can’t always get our schedules to work out but I truly look forward to meeting up with Jennifer on the weekends and am so grateful to have found a new friend who shares my love of running (and cats!).


At the ZooZilla 5K


To me, all of these things are so much more important than a number on the clock. I feel like I’ve made serious strides as a runner (ahaha, see what I did there?!), and am really starting to find my confidence and realize that I do have some speed in my legs! Would I like to come away with a PR? Sure! Obviously I would be thrilled, but I’m not going to get all hung up on that.  I’m going to show up to the starting line and do the absolute best that I possibly can that day, have a good time, and just be grateful that I am out there doing what I love to do!


NVHM Week 8 – Have you seen my motivation??

This week. Ohhhh, this week! I’m really not sure what happened, but my motivation took a major nose dive. Everything seemed to take so much effort, and was such a chore!

Also…for some reason, WordPress is not letting my comment on many of my favorite blogs! I have no idea why, but I’ve contacted WordPress to see what the issue is 😦

Monday is always my rest day and while I normally love to actually, you know….rest I had to get started purchasing supplies for Thanksgiving Dinner. So off to Giant Eagle I went! I bought a monster bird and am got some extra weight lifting in heaving all of those frozen turkeys around trying to find the best one. Mission Accomplished, and the turkey is currently in the refrigerator thawing out.

I had no desire to fight the dark and cold after work, so on Tuesday I woke up early to knock out 4 miles on the treadmill. It wasn’t anything special – 4 miles in 44 minutes flat, an 11:00 min. pace.  Not a bad time, especially for the treadmill as I am usually much slower there than I am outside. It did take a lot more effort to keep that pace, though.

Best part about running in your basement? It doesn't matter if your clothes don't match...or are inside out.

Best part about running in your basement? It doesn’t matter if your clothes don’t match…or are inside out.

This is where things started to downhill.

I woke up early on Wednesday for my strength workout, but I really wasn’t feeling it. I figured it was no big deal, and I’d just try again when I got home from work. That’s when I remembered that I had to go out to my mom’s after work to take care of her dogs. She lives about 30 or so minutes from me and by the time I fight traffic to get out there, take care of them, and get home, there’s not a whole lot that I want to do. Least of all lift weights. Crap. I got out of bed and went downstairs for a cup of coffee…and that was it. I had the coffee, but fell asleep and didn’t wake up until Tall One came downstairs 45 minutes later. Oops. Oh well. One day of missed weights won’t make or break me, and obviously my body was telling me that it needed rest.

Thursday. This was a bear. Once again, I just couldn’t haul my butt out of bed so I decided to run on the treadmill when I got home. I planned my workout out – 5 progression miles at the following speeds, 5.2, 5.4, 5.6, 5.8, 6.0 .  Yeah, it was difficult (for me, at least)…but it’s speed work day. It’s supposed to be tough. I got started, ready to rock it and then my phone rang. Normally, I would just ignore it but it was my mom calling and I was less than a tenth of a mile into it so I answered it. I got back to running, and I felt a rock in my shoe. Yes a rock. Yes I was inside.  I have been fighting with this rock for a week – I keep thinking it’s out and it shows back up. So I stopped, took off my shoe, shook it out, hit it off something, wipe it out, put the shoe back on. I don’t feel the rock so I start back up again. 5 steps later, the rock is back. Stop treadmill and repeat process. 4 or 5 freaking times. So, Annoying. At this point, I was already done. Irritated as hell, to boot. I started mile 2 and was exhausted. Every step was a fight, and I was so winded I had to stop. I walked for a little bit and tried to give myself a pep talk. I started up again, not even concerned about speed…and then had to walk again. I was so over this run, but told myself to at least stick it out to 3 miles. Once I hit 2.25 I told myself that there was so reason I couldn’t run three lousy quarters of a mile. I did it…3 miles in….36:34. A 12:12 pace. I was pretty pissed about this, but Nicole and Jennifer reminded me on Daily Mile (are you my fried on DM? No? You should be…add me!) that not quitting after a mile like I wanted is still a win. Excellent point. I was still disappointed to have essentially wasted a speed work day, but I didn’t totally give up, so I give myself half a pat on the back.

Friday was weights day, and I managed to get it in with special emphasis on strengthening those hip muscles. I also watched How To Get Away With Murder and ohmygod. I had it all figured out until the very end. I’m not sure how I’m going to wait until January 29th when the show comes back.

Luckily, the weekend seemed to pick back up for me and I was lucky to get in two GREAT runs:

Saturday was once again long run day. Tall One made late morning plans for Sunday (an 11 AM showing of the new Hunger Games movie), and I didn’t want to rush my running so Saturday it was! Jennifer offered to meet me out at North Park to do run a few miles with me, and I was pumped to have company!!  First things first. It was COLD. Not chilly. COLD.



Holy crap. I layered up and bundled up, complete with a headband AND fuzzy hat.


I needed all the layers I could find!

As I was driving out to North Park, Tall One called me and warned me that we were under a Freezing Rain Advisory. I had seen that, but thought it was a mistake. My weather app showed a 0% chance of precipitation and nothing on the radar so I didn’t pay attention to it. I promised him that if started to rain, I would come right home even if I was only 2 miles into a 13 miler. Safety first, kids! Jennifer and I got started quickly, to try to warm up a little. We weren’t really sure what pace to shoot for, so we just kind of went with the flow. It took a good 3 miles before I wasn’t freezing but other than that, the first 5 mile lap flew by. I couldn’t believe when we stopped back at the parking lot for our water and gels (I hate carrying water when I run so I always leave it in the car). Originally, Jennifer was only going to do another mile or two with me but after we got fueled up, she decided to do the entire 2nd loop with me! I was SO excited to have her company and we took off for another 5. Again, the miles flew by! We talked about everything, and soon enough we were climbing the hill behind the boathouse, to cruise in for our last mile. Then, the freezing rain started. It seems like almost instantly, everything was coated with a fine layer of ice. The sidewalks were like a skating rink and we did some kind of awkward run/shuffle to our cars. As much as I wanted to run 3 more, I didn’t want to risk falling on the ice or getting into an accident on the way home, so we both called it at 10 miles in 1:53 (11:20 pace). Somehow our Garmins didn’t match and mine was reading at 9.95 miles when we got into the lot. I am super anal about this so I was running in circles trying to get it to change over to 10.  This was really my last double digit long run before the race, and it was just what I needed. I finished the 10 miles, and still felt really strong…like I could have run several more without trouble!

Sunday was my hill work. I wasn’t sure exactly how many miles I wanted to do…had I been doing this on Saturday I would have gone for 5 or 6, but since I did my long run yesterday I didn’t want to get greedy. I figured I would start out, and see how I felt. 3 was the minimum I wanted and 5 miles was the max. What a difference a day makes! On Saturday, I was bundled up and Sunday…I was back in shorts! What a treat! 10 or 13 miles would have been very enjoyable in this weather, but to be honest, the odds are pretty good that race day weather will be more like Saturday so it was good practice to run long in that!  I ended up with 4 miles in 44:48, and 11:11 pace. Taken into context (long run the day before), I was REALLY happy with this pace. It was really manageable, and I felt very strong!  I made sure to leave myself plenty of time to ice and stretch after, and then we went to see the new Hunger Games movie at the new movie theaters on McKnight Road. The movie was great, and I’m already excited for Part 2 to come out (in a year)! The theater on the other hand? Not as impressed. This was our first time there, and while it’s much closer I think we’ll just keep going out to the Pittsburgh Mills.

Overall, this wasn’t a terrible week but I really felt my motivation waning a bit. It was really hard to get out of bed, whether it was to work out early, or just wake up at my normal time to go to work. I didn’t want to do either. Hopefully this feeling doesn’t stick around, although I’m really looking forward to a short work week!

What are your Thanksgiving plans? Am I the only one losing the motivation? If you have any extra, please send it my way! 🙂


Cats and a Quote

Today was my rest day and root canal day, so I don’t have much to contribute but figured I’d share some cat pictures and a great quote that I found a few weeks ago and have been re-reading ever since.


Your foot looks cold. Let me sit on that for you.

Your foot looks cold. Let me sit on that for you.

Where's Wilbur?

Where’s Wilbur?

No, really. Where's Wilbur?

No, really. Where’s Wilbur?

These are not cats. Obviously. They're my mom's pups - so cute!

These are not cats. Obviously. They’re my mom’s pups – so cute! I call this ‘Happy Weiners’

It's a rough life he has

It’s a rough life he has

Gizmo wrote the book on "resting bitch face"

Gizmo wrote the book on “resting bitch face

And finally this quote. I love it. It reminds me that no matter my (lack of) speed, self consciousness, etc. that I AM A RUNNER and I am proud of that!

I AM A RUNNER source