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?

 

I’m still here. I think.

You guys. I’m not sure how this happened, but I am already completing my first 8 week semester of school. Technically the semester ends tonight at midnight , but being the overachiever that I am, I finished everything yesterday. THANKYOUDEARSWEETBABYJESUS!!!!!!

dearlordbabyjesus

 

I’m feeling pretty confident about things and am pretty sure *knock on wood* that I will get A’s in both of my classes, so I’ll just have to be patient (lol) and wait for grades to be posted. I have been so busy with school that posting was just not happening, but, I have so many things to talk about that I don’t even know where to start! So I’ll just jump right in.

I’m still running the Buffalo Creek Half tomorrow and, despite my utter lack of training, I am still looking forward to it! With exactly 1 double digit long run (2 weeks ago) under my belt, I don’t have high hopes for the outcome but that’s A-OK. There are 0 goals – just have fun!  I can’t have my cake and eat it too, you know?

Did someone say cake?

Did someone say cake?

My training for this race really didn’t go as planned. At all. Back when I first said I was going back to school, I was delusional and thought that I will still be able to run 3x a week with no problem, mon. but it didn’t work out that way. I’ll admit that a good part of that was totally on me. I put so much pressure on myself that for a while, I felt guilty if I wasn’t diligently working away on assignments.  I also felt a little overwhelmed, thinking that I made a mistake going back to school, and that this was never going to work. Eventually, I started to find a balance and realized that I did not need to be spending ALL of my time outside of my job doing homework. In fact, in the last week or two I’ve actually been able to take a night completely off! WOW! To be fair, there was a good amount of work that I had to get through each week but I learned how to manage it. The only problem is that juuuuuust as I feel like I’m getting a grasp on the situation and better learning how to manage my time….a new round of classes start on Sunday! Oy vey! Hopefully though, this time management will still apply to the new classes.

That was the really long explanation of why I didn’t train (at all) for this race. If you’re still reading…you deserve a medal. Or a hug. Or both.  I can deliver on one of the two…..I’ll let you decide which.

It's really up to you

It’s really up to you

 

I am hoping that in the next few days I can do a post talking about both of my classes, and my experiences with them.  At the very least, I’ll be back at some point late Saturday or Sunday with a race recap!! 

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.

Going Back to School – The Details

Last week, I let you in on a little secret. I’m going back to school! This is something I’ve been thinking about  for almost 2 years now, but the timing never seemed to be just right.  I currently have an Associates degree in Marketing that I’ve gotten by and done well with, but I know I could do more and not having that Bachelor’s degree is really holding me back. After some encouragement from “outsiders” (non-family/friends) and talking it over with the Tall One we both agreed that it was a good idea and something that I need to just do. I also realized that the time would never be exactly perfect, but then the stars aligned juuuuuuust enough to convince me to go for it.
I usually never open fortune cookies. The one time I did - I got the message I needed.

I usually never open fortune cookies. The one time I did – I got the message I needed.

The Background:
I did quite a bit of research and started looking at my options. It became obvious pretty quickly that online classes would work best for my schedule; I just couldn’t imagine working full time, then driving downtown or somewhere else 2-3 nights per week for 3 hours, plus spend all day Saturday in a classroom. Not ideal.
Once I decided that, my options became a little more limited. Ideally the online program would also have a brick & mortar school, be well known/recognized AND be localish just in case I decided that online was not the best option for me. Cost was also a factor and after a long search I set my sights on Point Park University’s online Accounting program.
I contacted them, got an unofficial transcript evaluation, got some Financial Aid guidance and decided to apply. I waited on pins and needles for what seemed like ages (more like a month and a half. There were some mix-ups with my transcripts….) and finally just last week got the news that I had been hoping for!
In the meantime, I had been doing a lot of other research and Pinning back to school things (do you follow me?)- it’s been a while since I’ve been a student and I needed to get back in that mindset. At the same time, I didn’t want to get too hopeful, just in case things didn’t work out and I wasn’t accepted. This is also one of the (many) reasons I haven’t blogged much. I was afraid I’d spill the beans, not get accepted, and then be humiliated when I’d have to share that I was rejected. I don’t do well with public humiliation. Who does?
The Plan:
Since I am an “adult learner” (for some reason that phrase makes me feel really old) AND doing a fully online program I’m considered an accelerated learner. This means that one term is broken into two 8 week semesters; instead of just the Fall Semester, I’ll have Fall 1 (August-October) & Fall 2 (October-December). Thanks to my Associate’s Degree, I’ll be entering Point Park as a Junior; I registered for my first classes yesterday and I’ll be taking:
Fall 1
English 205
Science 111
Fall 2
TBD
I didn’t pick my last classes yet – I’m waiting to see if anything else opens up in the next few weeks. These first 2 are Gen Ed courses that I need and I figured I might as well get those all done and out of the way so I can dive in to the accounting and business classes. I was told to expect 12-15 hours of work per class, per week so It’ll be a good way to reintroduce myself to the world of college 🙂
How I’ll Make It Work:
Honestly, I don’t know! I feel like there will definitely be a learning curve with this. It’s been almost 8 years since I’ve been a student but I’m hoping that it’s like a riding a bike! Although, I was never very good with bikes so….hopefully it’s a little better than that! Having Sunday as an “off” day from running I think will be critical. This will hopefully give me time to start the week’s assignments or finish up anything last minute that may be due AND still get things done around the house like groceries, meal prep, etc.
School and Half Marathon Training:
Training for a half marathon at the same time as starting school may not have been my best idea ever, but I’m not going to stress about it. If I have to miss a workout due to school work, then that’s what will happen. I’m hoping to look at running/training as outlet rather than another chore or task that needs to be completed and hopefully that will keep things in perspective. This is something I GET to do, not HAVE to do. This may mean that I have to adjust my goals, but since I really don’t know what my race goals are yet I’ll be able to go with the flow a little more. I have no idea what I’m going to do about racing after Buffalo Creek though. Another full marathon may be off the table until I’m done (we are estimating about 2 years, maybe less, to complete the program) but I’m not ruling anything out just yet. That is all TBD!
School, Half Marathon Training, AND Vacation:
We booked our vacation to Hilton Head RIGHT before I decided to go back to school and I quickly realized that I would be taking school work to the beach with me. I’m fine with this – that’s why they invented laptops. I might be that person at the pool with a computer and I’m fully ready to embrace that 🙂 I’m always pretty flexible with running while I’m away so again, I’ll get done what I can but if I miss a run….oh well!
I bought my first school supply - Peanut is just as excited as I am :-) !!

I bought my first school supply – Peanut is just as excited as I am 🙂 !!

This is a very big, and exciting step for me! I’m hoping to blog about the experience – the good, bad, ugly and everything in between. So now in addition to being a crazy cat lady who runs, I’ll be a crazy running STUDENT cat lady!

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?