It’s Been a Year

It’s been a year since my step dad passed away. Some days it feels like a lifetime ago, but more often it feels like seconds ago. I think of him and miss him every single day. I don’t know if it will ever get easier, but I’m getting better at remembering the good times with a smile, rather than sobs.  It’s been a year and I have learned so much about myself and others. I’ve realized that my mom is stronger and braver than I ever gave her credit for and if I get 1/16 of that strength and bravery I will be a very lucky person. I’ve (re) learned that my husband is the best and we would not have been able to do this without him. I have so much more that I want to say, but really don’t know how to, so I won’t even try. It’s been a year…and we miss you so much ❤ .

 

"It's been a long day without you, my friend. And I'll tell you all about it when I see you again."

“It’s been a long day without you, my friend. And I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again.”

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Looking Back on Training and GOALS!

I don’t even know where to begin this post…I’ve started and restarted writing it at least a half a dozen times over the last few days. Race Day is just around the corner scratch that. It took me so long to get this out that Race Day is TOMORROW!!!!!!! So that means it’s time to look back on my training aaaaaaaaaand lay some goals out there. I have SO many thoughts that I want to say, but just can’t seem to make them flow. So…you get what you get. Would you expect anything less from me? Didn’t think so.
I’m just going to jump right in and say: This training cycle wasn’t entirely what I hoped it would be. Things were going REALLY well. I was hitting my workouts, strength training twice a week (I know, right?! Who am I??) , doing speed work in the middle of my long runs. I ran two-a-days, for god’s sake (Ok, once)!! I had a massive PR practically on a golden platter for me. THEN. Right as I was gearing up for Peak Week, I was forced to back off my training just when I should have been ramping up. THAT was a huge blow to my confidence. I was hit with an almost crippling fatigue that I, at first, thought it was just because training was picking up, but then realized it was more serious than that.
I needed a nap AFTER my nap.

I needed a nap AFTER my nap.

Speed days were gone, my weights are collecting dust in the basement, and there was a point in time where I seriously considered either dropping down to the half or bailing completely. I’m glad I didn’t, but the thought was there.  I pushed through, and my first 20 mile training run was pretty good; the second, I wanted to try as a progression run but instead had to fight for every step due to my fatigue, and the last was a disaster during the course preview. I found out that I had some wicked low iron/B12 levels; luckily that was easily corrected by supplements. There were a few more issues that were kind of scary and required a lot more testing but  it all seems to be worked out now. Instead of heading into the taper KNOWING that I’ve got this, I spent a good bit of it wondering if I was ready. I feel really bad for Jen, but at the same time am hugely grateful because she has been listening to me spaz about my worries all.week.long. and constantly reassuring me that I’m going to be fine. She’s talked me off the ledge at least twice a day, every day this week and 3 or 4 times yesterday. My biggest concern is that it’s going to be warmer tomorrow than it’s been in ages, but her response was absolutely right: weather is always something you will have to contend with.
2 years ago I said that I would NEVER run the Pittsburgh Marathon. It was “too hard” for me; too many hills. If that isn’t enough, being one of the lunatics running around North Park in the single digit temps, with snow, and ice was not an attractive prospect.
I wore ALL of the pink in order to be festive!

Oh, hey, look at that! Two lunatics running around North Park in the frigid temps, and snow.  Wait….

There would probably be a lot of mornings and evenings that I would have to run on the treadmill (barf), because my roads/cemetery wouldn’t be clear and the list went on.  At some point, I realized those were B.S. excuses and that I AM more than capable of training for and running this course. So, I signed up and yes, I was one of those lunatics running around North Park in sub zero weather, and yes, I logged a good bit of my weekday miles on the treadmill during much of January and February.
Just a few of my early morning dates with the 'mill

Just a few of my early morning dates with the ‘mill

And, you know what? It wasn’t so bad! I looked at the treadmill runs as “mental” training, and all of those Rocky Balboa style outdoor runs as “resistance” training. I’ve been using Kim’s description of the course for this entire 16 weeks to help me prepare for and visualize the course, but especially this week. It’s practically been like my nighttime story book, as I go over each and every mile; as I’m falling asleep I try to visualize the race course and picture myself cruising along, owning the climb into Oakland and sailing down Liberty towards the finish. I’ve even watched the high speed video of the course to help me become a little more familiar with the 2nd half of the race.  To top it all of, I’ll also be watching Spirit of the Marathon just for a little extra boost of inspiration.
The opening line: "Sometimes, the moments that challenge us the most, define us" is perfect.

The opening line: “Sometimes, the moments that challenge us the most, define us” is perfect.

I have to say though, despite all of my worries and concerns (*cough* weather *cough*), regardless of the time on the clock when I cross that finish line, I am already incredibly happy with what I’ve done so far. As Jen put it yesterday – THIS is my victory lap.
SO. Now. Goals. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh boy. Putting these numbers now there scare me. I always have a few “levels” of goals, just to give me different something to focus on in case things don’t go as planned.
(A) Finish in 4:50 or better.
(B) Break 5:00 Hours
(C ) Beat my previous time of 5:23
(D) Finish
“When you cross that finish line, no matter how slow, no matter how fast…it will change your life forever” – Dick Beardsley
Good luck to EVERYONE running the 5K, the half, and of course, the full!!  And THANK YOU to all of my blog buddies and friends for the constant encouragement, support and motivation!! I ❤ you guys and am so grateful to have found such an awesome group of people!!!

Pittsburgh Marathon Training – Week 10

Spring is finally here!! Of course, Pittsburgh welcomed the first day of spring with snow. Typical. I know I will be saying this every week from now until race day, but I still can’t believe that it’s almost here! Just a few more long runs to go… This last week has really gotten away from me – can you tell?? It’s freaking Saturday and I’m just getting this posted.. Oops. There aren’t even any pictures to share…not a single one. Oh well, it’s this or nothing. Hopefully I’ll have something next week (don’t get your hopes up)

Monday – Rest Day. It was another GORGEOUS day, and as usual I couldn’t throw the shorts on and enjoy it. I did get to open the windows in the house to let some fresh air in. The kids always enjoy window time as well – watching the birds go CRAZY outside makes them go crazy INSIDE. I love it!

Tuesday – I was feeling a little off and debated skipping my run, but I had a new route to try out that was near my office and I was really excited about it so I figured I should at least give it a shot. This much harder than I expected (which was a good thing) but the wind was crazy! There were a few times that I went backwards instead of forward. My stomach wasn’t really on board with this run and I had to make a brief pit stop at the office but after that I was A-OK.  I could have done without the wind but at least the sun was shining!

Wednesday – Strength day.  I’m not sure that I’ve ever detailed what my A& B days are. Today was A  and that includes: Squats 3×8  Alternating sets of: Pushups and Barbell Rows both 3×8 & Alternating sets of Step Ups 3×8  and Swiss Ball Jackknives 3×15. Since I don’t have super heavy dumbbells and the ones I’m using for the Step Ups are too light I do 3x 15 of those as well.

Thursday – Speed. I wanted nothing to do with this run at all. I was exhausted and was tired just driving home. I debated moving this to Friday but decided against it and that ultimately was for the best as Friday was a total wash. I started out with a warm up mile (11:31) and set out for 3 speedy ones. I went 10:38, 10:25, 10:29 and they were tough. Not only did I feel like I was going sooooo slow, but my legs actually hurt. My quads were on fire, like it was mile 23 or like it had been months since I went for a run. It was definitely strange, and terrible for my confidence as we get into the closing weeks of training . I just have to keep trusting the process and hope that all of this work and pushing through on tired legs will pay off in the long run.  I was so exhausted after this run. I could barely keep my eyes open at dinner and fell asleep not long after on the couch. It was not pretty.

Friday – This was supposed to be strength, my B day, by that didn’t happen. My alarm went off and I considered staying in bed because I was still really tired, but I know that a lot of times once I get my coffee I’m good to go. Then I rolled over and saw four furry faces silently judging me so that also motivated me to get up. I made my coffee and promptly fell back asleep on the couch. Weights did not happen, and I don’t even feel bad. My body is telling me that it needs a break, and I need to listen to that. I considered not even going to work so that I could catch up on some rest but I knew that we were already short a few people, and I hate calling off, and using sick time, unless I am really really sick…so I went.

Saturday – I had 9 miles planned, but was fully prepared to cut that short or scrap it all together if I was still tired so that I could be as fresh as possible for Sunday (my 1st 20 miler of the training cycle!!). My other plan was that if I WAS feeling good, I would add a mile for an even 10, which would also give me 40 miles for the week. For some reason, that seemed reeeeally important to me. It was cool, but not freezing so you know I was rocking the shorts and was happy I did – I was nice and comfortable the whole time. I used the same route as last Saturday, and while it was still tough it didn’t feel as difficult so that is good. Don’t get me wrong – it was still hard and I was still gasping for air like a fish out of water, but death didn’t feel as eminent as it did last week. I’m getting my mojo back! I think. I hope. 

Sunday – My FIRST 20 miles of the training cycle! I was excited for this – I really do love the long run aspect of training. Being out there for hours, and crushing some major double digit miles (no matter how slow) never fails to make me feel like a total bad ass. Normally 20 miles around North Park wouldn’t be a huge thing – 4 loops around the lake and done. BUT Allegheny County doesn’t seem to realize that some of us have marathons to train for (rude), and without Ingomar Road it makes things a LOT tougher.  I didn’t feel like doing the new horseshoe loop, so I started mapping out some new options. In theory, the course should have looked like this: Kummer, to McKinney, to N Ridge to Pearce Mill and up to JC Stone Field. It was perfect because Jen had 10 miles and I had 20, so I could just do 2 BIG loops and be done. So much easier than 4 little loops. However, I can’t read a map for shit and the roads weren’t clearly marked so I took us waaaaaaay out of the way and while it was very pretty and scenic it also meant that we didn’t get to climb N. Ridge. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because I really don’t think I could have done that climb twice. We ended up just going up the hill behind the Boat House, then turning around and going back up behind the Boat House again. We got back to our cars, and I said goodbye to Jen as I set out for another loop, the right way this time. I got up Kummer without too much of a problem until the very tippy top by the golf course/horse show ring. I almost broke into a walk, but held on. I made the correct turn down McKinney this time, but was already dreading the N Ridge climb. Like really dreading. I almost didn’t do it, but I would have felt worse for wimping out so I went for it.  I started up, and knew right away that it was going to be brutal. I just kept chugging away, and some guy went bounding up the hill in front of me and just BLEW past me. I had to assume that he just started or that this was his only hill because he was looking WAY too fresh on that beast. This sucker was never ending and I will admit that I had to stop a few times so that I could take a deep breath or two before continuing. I normally prefer to not stop or walk because it’s so hard for me to get started again, and then once I start walking I will just keep throwing the walk breaks in, but this was necessary. The good news here, is that I was able to recover pretty well and once I got past that initial climb I didn’t have to (or want to) stop and/or walk again. Overall, this was a good run. I would have like to get a negative split, but this was a REALLY aggressive route to tackle and the fact that I kept an almost even pace through all of that is A-OK by me. This was definitely a lot, and on Daily Mile, Mike mentioned that this may actually be too much. Pick one hill or the other, but not both – that could risk injury or burnout and I need to get to the starting line healthy. When he put it that way, I realized that he is exactly right. I have two more 20+ milers coming up, plus 2 more step backs so I think I’ll alternate Kummer with N. Ridge so I can keep my legs guessing.

 

Pittsburgh Marathon Training Week 8

Week 8 is over and we are officially halfway there (wooo-ah! Livin’ on a praaaaayer….no? Ok, then)!!!  Holy crap! I try not to remind myself of that and to just focus on the week at hand but, I definitely started to get some butterflies and nerves when I realized it was week 8. I’m the type of person that does better when I break things down into smaller time frames, so I really try not to look to far ahead (unless it’s for scheduling/logistics purposes) otherwise I will start a major freak-out.  This was another strong week, and required a little bit of tinkering to get the miles in but I am happy to report that they are all done! I had a Sunday day trip to my brother’s house planned, which meant I had to shift all of my runs/weights around to fit it all in. This resulted in me doing my NROLFW two days in a row (total no-no), but it was that or nothing AND doing my first running double. Since I don’t go “totes hard at the gym, yo” I figured this would be ok. We are  also getting close to peak week(s) here, and I have an 18 miler coming up this weekend. Can’t. Wait.

Monday – Rest Day. Nothing hugely exciting….

Tuesday – Outside run!! 5 miles 58:00 (11:41 pace) . It was raining,  but that was OK by me!! For one, it wasn’t snow!!! And two, I honestly love running in the rain. There is something so calming and peaceful about it. It was still a little chilly out, but IT WASN’T SNOW! My legs were still a little tired and heavy from the beating they took over the weekend (10 mile race/16 mile long run…Rocky Balboa style) so I was in no hurry to go fast.

Wednesday – Strength! I’m pretty sure I say this every week, but, I’m still not seeing the progress in the mirror and I know that’s all on me. Which is fine. The good stuff though, is that I’m seeing the progress in other ways. Each week I’m able to increase the weights I’m using, and even if it’s only 5 pounds it’s something; AND I was able to do 10 REAL pushups. That was a first for me. I’m not sure that my form on those was 100% perfect, but my trainer said it was so they count.

Last one didn't count, fool

Last one didn’t count, fool

 

Thursday – Double up with my “speed” in the morning and weights in the afternoon. This was supposed to be a 5 mile progression run, but turned into a 4 mile regression run.  This is one of those ones that felt tough from the get go. I was on the treadmill and had to stop about a mile in because my stomach just decided to wake up and join the party. I got started again and the pace just felt hard and I was only at a 5.3 speed. I had to slow it down and then finally walk which I haven’t done in forever. My basement is always nice and cool, but it felt HOT and that started to irritate me. I told myself just to forget about the pace, and just get the run done. I kept the speed at about 5.2 for a while then put it back up to 5.3 and just kept alternating those speeds until I was done. Between the bathroom break and walk break, I wasted a good bit of time and I had to stop at 4 miles or risk being late for work.  4.25 miles 49:00 (11:29 pace) Weights in the PM!

Friday – This was a true “double” and a major first for me. Because I would be away Sunday, I needed to do my long run on Saturday; which meant that my Saturday run was moved to Friday. The only problem was that Saturday’s run called for 10 miles. Ruh-Roh. That is certainly NOT the type of mileage I am capable of before work, and it’s definitely not happening after work so the only other option was to split the miles up and do some in the morning and some at night. I started out on the treadmill Friday morning, and was a little apprehensive since yesterday’s run had gone oh-so-well, but told myself just focus on getting something in. Do a minimum of 3 miles, but, do more if you can. 4 is good…5 would be AWESOME! I turned Law and Order on and got to work. 3 went by quickly enough, so I told myself that 1 more mile was totally doable. I passed 4 miles and told myself that I went this far…might as well just go for 5. Of course, the last mile is the longest but I finished it strong. Imagine my surprise/delight  when I went to record the run in my planner that I was only scheduled for NINE miles! WAHOO! I know it’s only 1 lousy mile, but mentally, that was huge. Knowing that I only needed 4 more instead of 5 left me feeling very confident!  I came home, and the sun was shining so I got dressed and headed out to finish 4 more miles. I wanted to keep these easy so I wore my heart rate monitor, and thanks to the article that Jen posted I figured out where I should try to keep my heart rate for this run. *For a really awesome & thorough post about training by heart rate, read Nichole’s post. I’ve read it once and am re-reading it to make sure I get all of the info. I am almost positive I’m going to give this type of training a shot after this marathon. Go read it now. Well, finish reading this, THEN go read that post.*  Until I was running, and then I forgot the numbers, but I decided that keeping things in the 140s-150s would be acceptable. I was able to do that, and again, it helped me mentally – it was easier/more fun to try to keep my heart rate down that it was to watch my pace get slower 🙂
I think I did it right.

I think I did it right.

I knocked out the 4 miles and was surprised when I saw that my pace was still in the 11:30s. To be honest, I was just worried about surviving this so to see that I was still holding a somewhat decent pace was icing on the cake! AM 5 miles 56:55 (11:09 pace)/PM 4 miles 46:24 (11:35 pace).

Saturday – I moved my long run up and Jennifer was awesome enough to meet me out at North Park for the second half of my 14 miler. The plan was that I would run 7, then meet Jen and we would do 5 miles at race pace with a mile warm up and cool down. I took the first 7 nice and easy, and again used my HRM to make sure that I was truly keeping it easy.

Nailed it. I think.

Nailed it. I think.

I knew that if I went out too fast, that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with Jen and she might have to leave my body in a snow pile somewhere.  I parked at the JC Stone Field and ran to the boathouse, cut through the parking lot and back to the field. I suck at math so I seriously misjudged my turnaround point and had to run a little extra to get that 7. I refueled with a Gu and Jen and I got to work on the last 7. My Garmin also decided to have  some type of seizure and kept beeping and flashing so we had to stop so I could reset it. Thanks to that, my times are mileage are a little wonky but luckily I was able to get the data from Jen. We finished the warm up and starting cranking out the miles. Splits were 10:39, 10:39, 10:55, 11:02 & 10:48… I don’t want to say they were easy but I felt very strong the whole time. We climbed the hill behind the boathouse, ran to Ingomar, turned around and climbed the hill again all at race pace miles, and really cranked it up for the last two tenths of a mile to simulate a fast finish. Yeah. We’re kind of a big deal. Kidding….sort of. We ran a mile cool down to our cars and passed Nichole along the way! I know I say this all the time, too, but it so nice to actually know some of the other runners out there and cheer each other on when we pass. Love it. I also have to say, that without a running partner, I NEVER would have attempted this kind of run; putting race pace miles into a long run sounds terrifying but was actually a lot of fun. Hopefully we are able to sneak a few more of these into our weekend runs because they are awesome!!  We also tried to take a picture after, and there was a guy stretching by his car, so we tried to discreetly take our selfie and we were soooo busted. You kind of had to be there, but it was hysterical. 1st 7 miles 1:21 (11:23 pace). 2nd 7 miles 1:18 (11:09 pace).

So, I tried two new-to-me things this week and really enjoyed them both. I really see the value in adding doubles to a training schedule, but if I were to add those to a training plan in the future I would probably start out on a smaller scale like 2/2, 3/2, etc. 5/4 (or 5/5 like I planned) was a little extreme, but necessary. 

I can tell that we are elbows deep in training because my hunger levels are off the chart. I am trying to make sure that I eat lots of good, healthy foods but…Girl Scout Cookies. I also really need to start nailing down my fueling strategy for race day, but I HATE feeling like a pack mule on my runs carrying all kinds of crap. I know that on race day, I’m going to leave the water bottle at home and rely on the water stations since there are so many on the course, but I still need to carry my gels. And that means using my runner’s fanny pack. Oh goody. I can’t wait.

This should accentuate my muffin top nicely. Wonderful.

This should accentuate my muffin top nicely. Wonderful.

2015 Spring Thaw – 10 Mile Race Recap!

Spring “Thaw” my a$$.  There was absolutely no thawing to be seen; when I got to North Park around 8:30 to meet Jen it was a whole 3 degrees, and maybe 9 degrees at the start.  It was entirely too cold to even think about taking pictures, so this recap is going to be lotsa words and maybe 2 pictures. Sorry I’m not sorry. As per the usual, I was a bit under dressed – my biggest mistake was only wearing one pair of socks. I lost feeling in my toes during our warmup walk from the Skating Rink to the Rose Barn and didn’t regain feeling until I was partway through the race. We got to the Barn and had some time to kill before the race started so we were able to meet Chelsea and Nichole and catch up with Steff, which was so great to put real faces/voices to blogs & Twitter!

Stole this from Jen's blog!

Stole this from Jen’s blog!

About 35 or so minutes before the race started we walked over to the Boathouse to check Jen’s bag and then we spent a few minutes inside the OTB restaurant trying to warm up, but were kicked out about 20 minutes before the start, which was totally understandable – we were taking up a lot of space and were bad for business. As we stood around trying to stay warm (didn’t work – I lost ALL feelings in my toes) Jen and I went over our plans for the race; this was a long run for Jen so she was going for a moderate pace – not a long run pace, but not race pace either, and I decided to use this as a test and race it. I was hoping to start out with the 10:30 pace group for the first 5 mile loop and spend the second loop chipping away at my pace. My biggest problem in races is starting out too fast, then fading HARD in the later miles. This is something I really need to work on and will be a huge factor in whether or not I meet my marathon goal in May. The plan there is to run the first half with Jen at around a 11:00 min pace, and then tackle the second half where I will hopefully work my pace down to the 10:50’s (or better). As someone who has HAD (spoiler alert!!!!) never negative split a race this is going to be tricky, which is why I’ve been trying to incorporate that into our long runs and why my speed work is typically a progression run. So I figured this race would be great practice. I lined up with the 10:30 group, and after the Nation Anthem (not sure what recording they used, but it was a really good version!) we were off!!

Loop 1 – I stuck to my plan and started with the 10:30 pacer and got just a few steps ahead of him. For some reason, I felt better having him behind me, than next to me. I could NOT feel my feet at all. It was very much like running on concrete blocks, and it actually hurt a lot little bit. Luckily, the sun was shining and that really helped me warm up. I stayed just ahead of the pacer and was surprised at how quickly the first mile marker, and water stop, popped up. I skipped the stop but made a mental note that I would use that stop the second time through after I took my gel. I was feeling good, the sun was shining which helped with the cold and I started to cruise. I was torn about looking at my watch or just going and I finally decided to take a peek. I didn’t want to get too far off of my plan, whether that was subconsciously speeding up or slowing down. My pace looked good…a little faster than I planned, but my breathing was very controlled and even and my heart rate didn’t feel like it was out of control so I stuck with it. Somewhere around mile 3, I regained full feeling in my toes and feet which was a relief. I had actually started to get a little concerned. This first loop went by very quickly before I knew it we were on the closed part of Ingomar making the turn onto Babcock. I could feel myself slowing down here and was a little concerned but not much – there was still A LOT of race left, and I was coming up on the rollers along the back of the lake loop. As we neared the Rose Barn and turn into the Boat House, I heard some heavy footsteps and saw that the 10:30 pace group was literally steps behind me. I was really disappointed to see them; yes, it had been my plan to run with them for the first half, but I thought I had ditched them a few miles ago and that I wouldn’t be seeing them again.  Initially, when I saw the pace group, I admitted defeat: You started out too fast again. Maybe you aren’t ready to run that kind of pace for any kind of miles. Meh. Even if you just stick with them for the next 5 miles, that will still be an OK time for your first 10 miler. And here is where I had my breakthrough.

Looking at the splits, I really slacked off for a couple miles.

Looking at the splits, I really slacked off for a couple miles.

Loop 2 – We cruised past the finish line to start our second lap around. The negative thoughts were still swirling as I took my gel (Gu Rocktane – Strawberry Kiwi. SO GOOD! Tastes like a skittle!!) and tried to thaw it out a little before I ate it. Somehow that must’ve distracted me just enough. The first thing I told myself was to not let the pacer pass me. Just keep him behind you. Even if it’s half of a step…do NOT let him pass you. I decided that was a good plan for now; I started taking my Gu and we went past the tennis courts where there were two ADORABLE huskies playing in the snow! They gave me a nice little boost, made me smile and my mind started working again: This part of the lake loop has always been a struggle for you. You HATE running past the tennis courts – that’s why you don’t do it anymore. Just get through this stretch and you’ll be at the water stop. Get a drink (water should be nice and cold!), and get to work. You feel fine. You’re really NOT tired. And that’s what I did. I grabbed some water, and indeed, it was wonderfully cold (I loooove ice cold water!) and refreshing. I took a deep breath, and focused on what lay ahead. My iPod was on fire and playing some really good music, so I started up the rollers that made up the next couple of miles. I checked my watch, realized that I was making progress on my pace and still feeling good. My heart rate still felt good, my breathing was perfect so I kept going. I was at about 6.5 miles so I started playing the numbers game. Really, you are SO close. You have half a mile and then not even a 5K, and you KNOW you can rock that. Just take it one mile at a time and don’t get too far ahead of yourself. Start focusing on some people in front of you and start reeling them in. Before I knew it, I was running past the field (I think that’s the JC Stone field? Not sure, but it’s by the bathrooms with running water!!) and at that point there’s only about 2 miles left. My internal cheerleader sprung back into action. Nice work, home slice. You have this little climb up Ingomar, then a nice downhill. You can grab some Gatorade and get ready for the last mile of hills. You have this in the bag. Just keep bringing that pace down, keep the breathing even, and you’ll be FINE. I’m not ashamed to admit that I listed to Eminem’s Lose Yourself on repeat at least 3 times during miles 6.5-9. It was just what I needed to hear and really kept me in the zone! Right before mile 9, there was a water stopped and I grabbed some Gatorade. I made the turn onto Babcock at mile 9, started to bring it home. I turned some Taylor Swift on (you can’t listen to Shake It Off and NOT run fast) and really went to work. There is that awesome flat section before you turn onto Pearce Mill Rd so I used that to give me some momentum. I made the turn and put my head down and just went. For a minute I thought maybe I started to speed up a little too soon – my breathing was getting heavy and the heart was starting to pump. Then I reminded myself that it’s a race, and it’s supposed to feel like work. I kept pumping my Baby Sasquatch arms and getting up over the hills. Finally I crested the last one, and started on the downhill where I opened up my stride and went for it. I made the turn into the Boat House parking lot, made that last turn and kicked it into high hear. I heard the announcer congratulate the 10 minute pace group, and I was a little pissed that I had JUST missed them. I’d been looking for them during the second loop and never saw them.  I saw the finish line and gave a final big kick and crossed the finish line in 1:40:24/ 10:02 pace. My Garmin recorded 10.1 miles which made my unofficial pace 9:57. Heck. Yes. MAJOR negative split!

Big time negative split

Big time negative split! Check out sprint at the end 😉

I got my medal, which was ADORABLE, found Steff, who finished a few minutes before me, and Chelsea crossed the line just after I did!  We hung out and talked about our races until I saw Jen making the turn to the finish! She finished strong and met her race goals as well! This was her first double digit run of training and she rocked it! We grabbed her checked bag, and regrouped back at the Rose Barn with pizza, and soup. We also got to recap with Nichole (and meet her husband and ADORABLE son!), who ran a solid 15 miles! All in all, this was a pretty great day, despite the frigid temps!

Very excited to add this medal to my collection!

Very excited to add this medal to my collection!

I am incredibly happy with this race. I’ve never done a 10 miler before so this was an automatic PR, but it’s a GOOD PR! I struggle with pacing myself, with sticking to a plan, and just racing in general. This was a huge confidence boost going into the second half of marathon training as well. The weather has had a major impact on training so far – lots of treadmill runs (where I’m always slower), and lots of what I call “resistance runs” – running in the snow, slush, slop, ice, etc. All of that has slowed my paces, and it’s been hard to get an accurate reading of where I am in my training. I’d even started to worry that I’m behind, and that I won’t be ready on race day. This race showed me that I’m just where I should be, and that as long as I stick to my marathon plan, I should be able to pull off that negative split.

Did you race this weekend? How’d it go?