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!
I know this is said every December, but man did this year fly by! I always try to find the positive in situations, but overall 2014 was a pretty shitty year – there were some ups, lots of down and a lot of heartache when my step dad passed away in August.
There were a few good things about 2014, and they were all in the running department:
- I set a PR in both the half marathon (2:18 at Pittsburgh) and 5K (28:10)
- I started this little blog
- I’ve started connecting with other runners in the area, and even made a new friend!
I am so ready to kick 2014 to the curb, and ring in what will hopefully be a much better 2015.
I’ve seen a lot of other people writing out their goals for the year, and because I’m a follower, though I’d do the same. I’m sure this list will evolve over the year and it will be fun to check in periodically to see where I’m at with that!
My Running/Fitness Goals:
Run the Pittsburgh Marathon on May 3rd, and finish with a PR.
My current time is 5:23, so I’d be happy with any improvement but I’m really looking for a 4:50 or better.
Half Marathon PR. My current PR is 2:18, which I snagged this past May. I’m not sure what time, specifically just yet, but 2:12 sounds like a fun number to shoot for.
STRENGTH TRAINING. I have tried so many times to stick with this and just can’t seem to make it work. I am really going to try to add it in 3 days/week to my upcoming training. At this point I don’t know how else to make it stick, other than to just DO IT. I know that it will be beneficial from an injury prevention perspective, and to be honest I wouldn’t mind leaning out a bit…losing some chub and gaining some visible muscle definition would be A-OK in my book.
Run an injury free year. This ties into the strength training above. No one likes to take time off due to an injury, so I’m going to do my best to strength train, stretch, ice, etc. so that I don’t have to take days off to heal. If I take time off, I want it to be because I want to…not have to.
Blog more! I blog about as consistently as I lift weights, so I would definitely like to increase my posting frequency!
Learn how to use my camera. Last Christmas my husband got me a fancy digital camera and I have barely used it. I don’t understand how to work most of the functions on there except for the auto setting, so I feel like I’m not getting as much out of it as I could.
Use my Gratitude Journal daily. I am a big believer in the power of positive thoughts and gratitude. At the end of every day when I’m getting ready for bed, I stop and think of 1 or 2 things that I am most grateful for, or the best thing that happened that day. It can be something small, or something bigger but the point is that it gets you thinking about the many things you have to grateful for. I also have a gratitude journal that I write a few things in everyday that I’m grateful for. Again, this can be big or small. I sometimes go a few days or weeks without actually writing in the journal, so I’d really like to get back into the habit. It can be 1 thing for the day or it can be 10, but the bottom line is, to write them out. My overall outlook is brighter when I do these things so I’d like to be a little more consistent.
Find a good sugar cookie recipe! We tried to make sugar cookies this year, and it was a huge flop. I need to get a few recipes together, test them out and find the best one. If you have one, pass it along!
Get Braces…at least look into it. My teeth aren’t terrible, but over the last 2 or 3 years my front teeth (really, it just one lousy tooth) have started crowding a bit and have become really crooked. I don’t always notice it when I look in the mirror, but I REALLY see it in pictures and it makes me incredibly self-conscious. I want to check out Invisalign to see what the time and cost commitment are. I’d rather not get traditional braces, but if that’s my only option that’s what I’ll do. I’m going to make an appointment for a consultation and then hopefully get the ball rolling later this year.
Happy New Year!!
Long story short – I started out too fast, wasn’t as prepared for the hills as I thought, and got my ass handed to me.
If you’d like the long version, stick around.
Originally I had planned to make the trip to State College solo and stay with my brother and sister-in-law, but earlier in the week Tall One decided to go with me so I didn’t have to worry about driving home after the race. Isn’t he a nice guy? So, Saturday we loaded up the car and made the trek over to State College. It rained the whole way there, and continued raining for most of the evening. Luckily the weather report promised that by Sunday morning it would be clear skies and sunny but freezing cold! We got to my brother’s late Saturday afternoon and my sister in law had everything a runner would need the day before a race: pasta, garlic bread, lots of water and CAKE! We spent the evening hanging out, watching college football, eating cake, and playing with their pet bunny.
Isn’t she the cutest? She’s about 3 pounds of fluff and sass and is awesome!
We went to bed a little later than we normally do, but the race also started a little later than most (10 AM) so it all balanced out. I slept pretty well and managed to sleep in until almost 7, which never happens. The cats are normally clamoring for breakfast right around 6 every morning so it was nice to sleep in peace ;-).
I got up, had my cinnamon raisin bagel with peanut butter and coffee and started to get ready. It was cold which really doesn’t bother me – I was prepared for that. What I wasn’t prepared for was the WIND, but more on that later. There was no Saturday packet pick up, so we had to leave a little earlier to get that taken care of. Pick up, and the start line was on campus at the Snyder Ag Arena, which meant absolutely nothing to me. Luckily, it meant something to my brother (a Penn State alum) and he was able to navigate and get us there without any problems! As soon as we got out of the car, I noticed just how bad the wind was – the arena is on top of a hill and it seemed like the wind was coming in every direction making the already cold temps feel worse. We got inside and I picked up my timing chip and shirt (no bibs for this race) without any trouble. I was really excited to see that the indoor facilities were available for use and I hopped in line to use a bathroom with flushing toilets and running water! It was amazingly wonderful to be able to stay inside until the start!
It was just about time to start heading outside. When we pulled into the parking lots, I was looking around for a start line and didn’t see one so I wasn’t sure where exactly to go. In the email we received from the race director the day before the instructions literally said “follow the crowds” so that’s what I did. The wind was really whipping at this point, so I said goodbye to Tall One and my brother and followed the crowds.
We all stood around waiting for the start, trying to stay warm. One good thing about being short is that all of the taller people around shielded me from the wind! Without any warning, the race started and we were off!
Miles 1-3: The first 3 miles does a bunch of loops around the back part of campus around the agricultural department, so it was a lot of cows, sheep, pigs, etc. and thanks to the rain on Saturday it was muddy trails and frozen mud puddles. This was by far the easiest part of the whole course. I made a BIG mistake along this stretch by going out way too fast. My breathing was hard, and my legs felt really heavy – had I looked at my watch I would have seen that I was running 9 min miles and I would have eased up. I really just thought my breathing was hard because it was damn cold. I always try to not look at my watch, because I normally run better that way but that didn’t work out so well this time.
Someday I’ll learn to find a balance. Right around mile 3 you start a nice downhill that takes you off of campus and onto the highway. The highway that is also open to traffic the entire time, where all of the runners are crowded onto the shoulder/bike lane, with their backs to oncoming traffic. Fun.
Miles 4-6: The race website mentions somewhere that there are 3 water stops along the course, but doesn’t say at what mile markers, just on what road they are on. That doesn’t mean much to someone who is from out of town, but luckily I found this blog that gave me a much better idea of where to expect the stops. I knew the first one would be coming up after mile 4, so right at the 4 mile mark I started to take my first gel. It takes me a while to get those down so I start early. Right around 4.5 was the water station and the road/shoulder was so uneven here that I decided to stop and drink rather than try to choke it down while running. The hills started here as well, and they were the gradual kind that you can see from a distance (but not when you are actually on them) and really do a number on your legs. Somehow I forgot about that part of the elevation map during my training. The shoulder of the road also started to disappear along this stretch and there were a lot of times I was running in loose gravel trying to keep my balance. I wasn’t 100% prepared for these climbs, and it was made even harder by the lack of space and the wind that just wasn’t letting up. At some point, we were also running next to the airport and the wind here was just brutal. You are on top of a hill and I felt like I was being pushed backwards. The shoulder is nonexistent in many of these places, so I tried to run on the road when I could. This was also difficult because I had to keep turning around to make sure there were no cars coming. Most of the traffic that came through was really nice about slowing down and moving over to give us some room but there were several that were flying along and staying as close to the shoulder as they could.
My time started to suffer here, and I remember thinking that the hardest part hadn’t even come yet. I tried all of my tricks to distract myself. Positive affirmations, focusing on my form, focusing on my breathing and nothing helped. I kept hoping for a small reprieve from the hills and wind so I could try to recover a bit and it just wasn’t happening. My legs were already feeling trashed at this point, so I knew I was in for a killer second half.
Miles 7-9: Right around mile 7 I took my first walk break. I tried to hold off for as long as I could before walking, and this little section was really lacking in space so I slowed to a walk. A few runners passed me at this point, and I tried to rationalize my walk break as being a courteous runner to let people by. At this point, anything to make me feel better. Mile 7.5 starts the loooooong downhill section of the course, and I was able to get my breathing and form back and cruise down the hill (my splits don’t really reflect this, but I felt like I was cruising). Normally, I would try to take this easy (I have a fear of tripping, falling on my face and losing all of my teeth) but I figured I needed to make up all of the time that I could so I just went with it. The downhill goes for about a mile and a half and after all of the hills before, this part feels like a dream. For a minute, I thought that maybe I could salvage things from here and use the downhill to help power me up the last half of the course. Hahahahah, wishful thinking.
At the very bottom of the hill is the next water stop at mile 8.5. Again, I had a rough I idea of where this would be so I took my gel earlier and planned to stop at the table for a drink. I was so surprised and happy to see Tall One and my brother waiting for me here! I said a quick hello, tried to look strong and took off again. Then the next round of hills started. These were the shorter, but REALLY steep kind and I finally threw in the towel and started to walk up them. My legs just felt dead. I would try to shuffle up the hill, walk a little and repeat.
Miles 10-13: At mile 10 the hill is so steep and long that you are better off power walking up it than running. Everyone around me was doing the same, so I didn’t feel as bad about it. There is no shoulder at all along this entire stretch so you are also watching for cars to make sure you don’t die. Right before mile 11, I saw Tall One, my brother and sister in law again! I tried really hard to start running again and look strong (I apparently failed miserably because later Tall One said I was looking “rough”, hahaha). I gave a big wave, and my brother told that the beer stop was just around the corner! Side note: Jain also mentioned that there was an unofficial beer stop put on by a local running club at mile 11. I was talking about it the night before, and was really hoping that it would be there again and it was! At this point, I knew that it would take a miracle to not Personal Worst so I stopped, grabbed a Dixie cup full of ice cold Yuengling and enjoyed the hell out of that. Beer has never tasted so good! I thanked the guys, told them they were the best and took off again. Right after this starts another little downhill and then a flat trail, so again I thought just maaaybe I could pick it up, power up the last hill and finish strong. Spoiler Alert: Didn’t happen.
The climb started just after 11.5 and I was trying to tell myself that I can do anything for a mile! Didn’t work. I saw my sister in law once more, about halfway up ringing the heck out of her cowbell and going crazy cheering for everyone! People loved her, and she was a total hit with the other runners! I couldn’t even attempt to look strong at this point but I gave her a big wave and told her she is awesome and carried on. I tried to keep going, but the long gradual hill was just too much for me. Right around mile 12 I picked up two ladies were run/walking their way up and said I was more than welcome to join them. I was SO grateful to see them, and I tried to hang on as best I could, but I had to let them go. I just couldn’t do it. I got the worst side stich I’ve ever had around 12.5…it felt like someone shot me right in the gut. In hindsight, it could have been the beer but it was so delicious that I didn’t care and would totally do it again! I got to the second to last turn, and tried to breathe deep and run but I couldn’t. I could hear my sister in law’s cowbell in the distance, so I kept shuffling along. Right at mile 13 I saw my family and Tall One gave me a high five and told me to finish strong. I was so tired, and over running that I nearly started to cry, but I just nodded and trudged on.
Mile 13.1: You make another turn back to the Ag arena where you started and mercifully the hills finally end. I rounded the last corner and crossed the finish line in 2:35:51 (An 11:53 pace) to more cowbell courtesy of my sister in law! A volunteer handed me a bottle of water (no medals at this race) and I the first thing I said to my family was “holy &*#$ was that hard – never doing THAT again!”. It was still super windy and freezing cold so we made a beeline for the cars to get home, and showered so we could get lunch! Pizza never tasted to good!
Overall, I’m OK with the result. I knew this was going to be difficult, I just didn’t realize how difficult. I decided the day before that a 2:25 seemed like a reasonable goal time; I know that a 2:35 finish is way off of that, but considering the wind and the amount of walking I did at the end, this wasn’t a terrible time. Am I disappointed? Absolutely. I didn’t manage my pace properly at the start, and while I try to not look at my watch, my heavy breathing so early on should have been an indicator to back off a bit. I also was really under prepared for the entire course. I was so prepared for the last climb at mile 12 that I ignored the ones in the earlier part of the race. To be honest, that last climb didn’t seem nearly as bad as the ones that came before. It’s always tough to put in weeks of time, and effort during training and then not be able to deliver on race day. One of my fears when I initially decided on this race was that I would finish last…that didn’t happen, but I was damn close. I came in 514th out of 533 runners.
This was a hard, hard, course. A few years ago, I would not have even attempted to run this race, so that fact that I even attempted it was a win in my book. I’m proud that I didn’t give up, even though I would have rather stayed at the beer table 😉
I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday! I have really been slacking with my posts lately, and am hoping that I once this race is over I’ll be a little more consistent and get a few more up per week. I have lots to talk about, but all I want to do is lay on the couch at night!
Onto the week:
I spent my Monday rest day out at my mom’s taking care of the Wieners. Occasionally she has to work a longer 12 or 14 hour day and that’s too long for “the babies”, as she calls them, to be alone. So on those days I head out after work to feed them, let them out, etc.
I got up bright and early on Tuesday for a treadmill run. After last Thursday’s “run” (If you can even call it that), I wasn’t really looking forward it but I decided that a shitty attitude before I even started running would do me no favors. I changed my thinking around, and instead of saying I need to run x number of miles I would run somewhere between 3-4.5. That mentality always seems to work well for me, whether or not I’m on a treadmill, so I went for it. I covered the display screen with a towel so I wouldn’t stare at the timer, turned on the TV and got to work. To help things go by a little faster, every time a commercial came on I bumped up the speed by one or two clicks. That worked out really well, and the run just flew by! I felt really strong and controlled and…dare I say it – I actually enjoyed it! Except for one minor detail….I completely forgot to write down what my time was. And how far I went. Yes, really. I’m still not sure how I managed that one. Regardless, it was a good one! I then spent Tuesday evening running around buying last minute things for Thanksgiving dinner! Luckily, the stores weren’t too crowded and it seemed like everyone was making an effort to be extra nice to each other.
Wednesday, I got a good early morning strength workout in. I had some Turkey Day prep to get started after work, so I knew better than to put it off. I made sure to get in plenty of hip strengthening exercises to make sure my knees stay strong. Because they aren’t really strenuous, I now use those as sort of a warmup before I start my other exercises. I’m sure I should be doing these more often so after the race on Sunday (whaaaat? How is it already here?!) I’m going to make an effort to get them done 3-4 times a week. We’ll see how that goes.
Since we were hosting our first Thanksgiving Dinner this year, I had a lot of work to do Thursday morning but still had a few minutes to get a run in so I went for a quick progression run. It looked like a perfect morning for a run, so I got started and soon discovered that it was a little more treacherous than I realized. There was black ice all over the place! I tried to keep an eye out for patches of it, but even then I still slipped several times. Luckily, I never went down but I definitely hit a few slick spots. Despite the fact that I really needed to watch my footing, I still managed a pretty decent clip. Mile 3 was a little slower – this is when I really started to lose my footing and I had to try to find some dry spots.
The best part though, was how good I felt. Those splits felt easy and effortless and had my paths been clear I know I could have thrown down even better splits.
I came home, and Tall One and I got to work cooking our first Thanksgiving Dinner. Everything came together really well, and I have to say that it was a success!!
Friday was supposed to be strength day, but I was exhausted from cooking and hosting duties so I crashed on the couch. Hard. My brother and sister in law also came into town to stay for the weekend, so it was nice to hang out with them!
Saturday, I hit the hills.
I got a later start than I’m used to and right away it just felt tough, almost like I was running in slow motion or running through molasses. It occurred to me that I didn’t eat breakfast before I started, and probably should have since I didn’t start running for a good 4 hours after I woke up. Whoops. At 3.5 miles I told myself to just get another half mile in and be done. I tried really hard to focus on my breathing and form and did such a good job, I missed my watch beep on the mile. When I finally looked down I was at 4.75! I finished out the last quarter mile with a decent kick – my last mile was 10:52! I am always amazed at what I can do when I stop staring at the watch and let go. When I uploaded the data, I was really surprised at the time – I definitely felt like I was going much slower! Overall, the pace is still just average, but I took away a lot more from this run than I expected.
Sunday I was planning on my last long run and I was hoping for 8-10 miles depending on how I was feeling. We were treated to some more spring-like temperatures and I was so excited to get out there! However, I wasn’t feeling so well. I’m not sure how to describe it, but it wasn’t good. I decided to at least get started and see how things went. About a mile in I started to feel really fuzzy and lightheaded, which is normally one of the first symptoms I experience when I get a migraine. I hightailed it home to get some water and food in me and to lie down for a little while. Migraines tend to put me down for an entire day or more, and I was meeting my mom later to volunteer for an activity that her workplace was putting on so I couldn’t afford for that to wipe me out. Luckily I managed to fight that off and meet up with my mom as planned. Whew. I am a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to do more but I’ve learned to not mess around when it comes to migraines. If I feel one coming on, I stop everything and do whatever I can to stop it. This is definitely a confidence crusher though, since it happened so close to race day. I have to forget about this one run and focus on how many good ones I’ve had. I started my taper a little earlier than planned, but at least I will be well rested for the NVHM 😉
This has been a pretty good training cycle overall – I stayed healthy, almost injury free, and I feel like I really made a lot of gains in the speed department!
Since I have some extra time on my hands this week, I’m going to try to get a few posts up that I’ve been meaning to write for a while now!
How was your Thanksgiving?
What’s your FAVORITE Thanksgiving side? Mine’s a toss up between good old fashioned green bean casserole and stuffing.
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.
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.
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! 🙂