Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Weekly Reads: The Beauty that Remains

I adore the cover of this book. Not that I choose books by their covers, but if I did, I would choose this one. Plus I heard a lot of great things about it. I picked it up, and ugly cried through parts. It's the story of three teens dealing with the grief of losing three very important people in their lives--a twin, an ex-boyfriend, and a best friend. The way that each teen struggled and dealt with grief in completely different ways felt so real and raw to me. I loved it, in a heart breaking way.

My rating: 5 stars

Summary from goodreads:

Music brought Autumn, Shay, and Logan together. Death wants to tear them apart.

Autumn always knew exactly who she was—a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan always turned to writing love songs when his love life was a little less than perfect.

But when tragedy strikes each of them, somehow music is no longer enough. Now Logan can’t stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend. Shay is a music blogger struggling to keep it together. And Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered.

Despite the odds, one band's music will reunite them and prove that after grief, beauty thrives in the people left behind.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Anxiety Over Goal Times

As the Sioux Falls half got closer, I started to get really panicky regarding my marathon goal time. It was still 6+ weeks out from marathon day, but since Sioux Falls was a goal paced run, I felt like I needed to have things for TCM finalized, to have a successful pace run. I started over-analyzing everything. I can't run sub 4, I shouldn't try to run sub 4. I should just try to run PR pace. If I attempt sub 4/sub 2 pace at Sioux Falls than everyone will know my goal, and it'll suck if I fail.

I texted Toni that I thought I should change my goal to 4:02-4:05. I had ran a bunch of different pacing strategies, and that's where I ended up each time. She responded that we'll run sub 4 if she has to throw me over her shoulder and carry me across the line. And she's strong enough. And fast enough. She would!

Somewhere during this downward spiral of doubt, I made myself stop. And think about all I *had* done.

I haven't missed a long run this training cycle.

I haven't missed a single run this training cycle.

I have stayed healthy.

I've stayed diligent with my strength training, and massage, and foam rolling.

I figured out my electrolyte issues, easing recovery and muscle soreness, allowing me to add miles more easily and lift heavier weights at POWER.

I ran my highest consecutive mileage weeks ever.

I ran my highest monthly mileage ever.

There is not one thing I've set out to do this training cycle that I haven't done.

I am as prepared as I can be to run 26.2 miles this fall. Whatever the time on the clock ends up being is representative of all the hard work, physically and mentally that I have put in over the past 2 years. And I will be proud of that time no matter what.

In past years I've set goals and have been so upset when I haven't hit those goals, but if I'm being honest with myself, many of those races I wasn't as prepared as I could've been. This go around, I can truly trust in the training and let me legs lead the way. Hopefully my mind stays just as strong when the miles get tough.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Race Report: Sioux Falls Half Marathon

Plotting out my training for the Twin Cities Marathon, I was really excited to see a quality long run fall on the day of the Sioux Falls half. While I don't like to all out race SF, I will do it every year, and the course profile is similar to TCM as far as late in the race hills go. 

I had 18 on my schedule, and Jessica was sweet enough to join me at 5:40 a.m. to get the extra 5 miles in. We were about a mile from the bike trail, and it was so dark out. I had to use my flashlight app on my phone because I couldn't find my headlamp, and at one point our conversation turned from fictional murders and dismemberment and turned to real life, local accounts, and quickly decided that perhaps a less terrifying topic was needed, STAT. The five miles flew by, we kept them nice and easy, and we promptly lost each other after we stopped at our vehicles to ditch our Noxgear vests. (She went on to have an excellent, speedy goal MP 13.1 miles as well! She's going to kill it at TCM.)

Next stop was bathroom, bag drop, and meeting up with Melissa, Carter, Kristin, Rachel, and Karissa. I found the ladies, found the bag drop, found another bathroom stop, and we made our way inside. We only had a few minutes until the start of the race (yay, we timed our warm up miles perfectly!) and we were SO FAR away from our correct pace corral. I had planned to run with Kristin and Rachel as it was Rachel's birthday, and she was hoping to come in under two. I thought I could help pace her for part of it, and maybe helping her accomplish her goal would make my hard effort long run not seem so hard. While we were congregating in the corrals, we lost them (they were smart and went under a barrier to get further up!). 

At the start Karissa and Carter took off and Melissa settled in with me. Yay! We chit chatted a bit, I told her my plan for the day, and she said her goal was to feel strong, and maybe come in under two hours. She was also signed up for the 5k after the half to get in some extra miles. I kept us in check pace wise making sure we took the first few miles nice and easy. Melissa is a beast and powers up hills, while I'm a little more conservative with my effort (read: I'm not as strong at them!). It was really nice to have her ahead of me so I could focus on keeping good form like hers, and then she'd slow up a bit at the top to wait for me. We saw Kyle for the first time around mile 3, and I didn't even notice him, Melissa did. Ha.

My goal for the first five miles was to keep it in the 9:30-9:40 range. Nice and easy. 

1. 9:42
2. 9:27
3. 9:43

We made our way downtown, and both Melissa and I commented that this was our favorite part of the race. There are so many spectators, and live music, and the sun is just rising at the perfect spot in the sky, and the energy is just insane. I noticed around this point that despite running ~9:30s my heart rate was low. Like recovery zone low. Yessssssss. As we started to head toward Falls Park, we were a little thrown off by the slow lyrical version of Hallelujah that was being blasted out from some giant speakers. Give me some pump up music man! 

We took some back ways to get toward Falls Park, and then made our way through the park in the normal fashion. I gave Melissa a heads up that my mom would always be at the same spot at the Falls and there may be some tears, but I'd try to hold it together. I felt really strong running through the park, and had to laugh, as yet again, no one was in "her spot". :) 

We flew up the hill at Falls Park and I silently thanked all the Wednesday night group runs for making that hill not feel nearly as hard as it used to! Thanks 605 Running Co. Our pace was a little fast through this area, but it was a mix of flat and downhill, so I didn't attempt to reign us in. Plus the heart rate was still so low, I thought it'd be just fine. Thank you cool weather! 

Speaking of weather: I always joke that this race has terrible weather. Usually Labor Day weekend is just frigid, everyone has a great last long run of their training cycle, and then race day comes and it hits 80 before the finish with heavy humidity. This year we had a crazy hot and humid Labor Day weekend, so I thought maybe we'd luck out. And we did! Once out of every 7 years you can expect this race to be great racing conditions. I've lucked out 3 times over the last 14 years: 2005, 2011, and 2018. 

4. 9:14 (1st GU)
5. 9:20
6. 9:22

The plan for miles 6-10 was to run around 9:10-9:20 pace. Miles 6-9 were mostly flat, especially compared to the previous miles, so it was nice to settle in at this point. I don't know how many times we said, "I can't believe how strong I feel right now!" It was really great. Around mile 8 I did some math and realized I'd likely be just over two hours and mentioned to Melissa that if she really wanted to come under 2 hours, she might need to start her pace pick up around mile 9 instead of 10 as I had planned. She said she was fine and wanted to keep running with me because she felt really strong. I told her that was fine, but suggested that she run strong during the hills in mile 10 and to strongly consider NOT waiting around for me once she got to the top if she felt good. And she did.

Oh, you don't laugh at mile 8 of a half marathon? You're doing it wrong. Obvs.

7. 9:10
8. 9:17 (2nd GU)
9. 9:12
10. 9:21

We hit mile ten and with Melissa off in the distance, I was really excited to crank up the pace a little bit. The plan was to run 8:45s to the finish. I briefly thought if I all out raced the final 5k, I could maybe just squeak under 2 hours, but quickly realized that other than a boost to my ego, that wouldn't give me any extra preparedness for Twin Cities, and it's also not likely that I'll be throwing down low 8s at the end of a marathon, so also not a great goal MP race pace scenario. :P Also, there was the little black cloud over my shoulder saying that I'd probably get hurt trying, so I shouldn't. This was probably the voice of reason, and I listened. 8:45s it is!

I look like I'm running to a rave with all this neon!

I saw Kyle a lot during these miles, and maybe it was because Melissa wasn't there, but I was finally able to spot Kyle myself, AND he actually cheered for me. Out loud! 

I was a woman on a mission and I zoom zoom zoomed to the finish line as best I could. The end of mile 12 and start of mile 13 was a pain, as we were on a small bike path and I had a hard time getting around people, but once the route opened up to the road, I was off! 

I didn't put in my headphones until mile 12 started. That's how much fun I was having. Crazy!

I saw my neighbors near the finish line, and that gave me an extra boost. I came through the finishing stretch, threw my arms in the air, and then wasn't sure when to stop my watch because there was two timing mats and neither was marked.

12. 8:50
13. 8:46
.17 7:57 pace

13.17 miles in 2:01:35 for a pace of 9:15.

My 14th consecutive Sioux Falls Half Marathon and 37th half marathon. 

This half, as a training run is my 4th fastest SF half. Whoa. 

I found my speedy running friends shortly there after.

Melissa ran her sub 2 (YASSSSSS!)

And Kristin hit her goal time as part of her training for her next race.


After the race, it was my goal to drink some beers and cheer on runners! A few people generously donated their beer tickets to me (3!), and I took advantage. I hung out at the 605 booth at the finish line to help cheer in all the runners! Most of my friends were also doing the 5k after so it was fun to cheer them in, as well as the marathoners. 605 Running co. was committed to sticking around for the last runner to finish the race (how cool is that?!) and I was committed to sticking around as long as I could before my stomach needed food ASAP. That ended up being about 12:45 pm. By my calculations, I maybe missed about 15-20 marathoners. Not bad.

I am beyond excited about this performance as it relates to my goals for Twin Cities. It's so hard to wrap your mind around a goal time or pace for a race as long as a marathon. There are so many doubts that can creep into your brain. We haven't had a nice day for a long run yet, they've all felt VERY summery, so it was nice to see how my heart rate looked on an actual cool "fall" day. This gives me all the confidence in the world to go all in for Twin Cities. Marathon PR, I'm coming for you (ooh, that literally gave me chills as I typed it. Man I'm a nerd!)

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Twin Cities Marathon Training Week 11

Monday Planned: GA 6 miles
Monday Actual: 5 Recovery miles. Again, I don't think I was really paying attention to the 17 mile long run during the cutback week when finalizing my training program. Apparently I thought I wouldn't need a nice easy recovery run after that long run, but I did, so I flip flopped Monday and Tuesday's miles and slowed this waaaaaaay down.

Tuesday Planned: GA 5 miles
Tuesday Actual: GA 6 miles with Chris. I tried to bail on the run, or at the very least bail on running it with Chris but he wouldn't let me. Which is good. A good run on a bad day is always a good idea.

Wednesday Planned VO2 Max 9 miles 5x1k @ 5k
Wednesday Actual: 4 miles recovery at the group run with Kristin and then 5 miles at the track with 
5x1k @ 5k. I had some discomfort in my right hip but still managed to run really speedily.

Thursday Planned Recovery 5 miles
Thursday Actual: Unplanned rest day. I had some discomfort in my right hip, so I opted to take a rest day instead of my recovery run. An epsom bath and icing. As well as POWER in the early a.m.

Friday PlannedRest
Friday Actual: Recovery 4.1 miles at the coffee run. Thank goodness I couldn't run on Thursday so I could do my coffee run!

Saturday PlannedShakeout with strides 5 miles
Saturday Actual: Shakeout 5.5 miles with zero strides because I decided I should do them Sunday in my warm up miles (spoiler alert: I didn't do that either).

Sunday Planned: MP Long run (Sioux Falls Half) 18 miles with 13 at MP
Sunday Actual: 5 miles and 13.17 miles!

Total Mileage Planned: 48 miles
Total Mileage Actual: 48 miles

Monday, September 10, 2018

Recovery Run Philosophy

I have a had a bit of a shift or epiphany when it comes to training, specifically this marathon cycle, and that's surrounding recovery runs. I've always been someone who takes recovery runs very seriously. Recovery is important and necessary, and for someone who has been injury prone in the past, it's something that I have to be on top of with my running, especially as the miles ramp up.

I train by heart rate, and have for the last few years. I let my heart rate dictate my recovery run pace. In the past I've used this as a tool to make sure I was running easy enough on these runs. I would start in the recovery zone, and if I got to talking, or as the legs would feel better, maybe toward the end of the run I'd creep out of that recovery zone, no big deal.

Since Toni has been gone for this training cycle, many of my recovery runs have been solo. This cycle I've taken a new strategy which is, see how low you can keep your heart rate on this run! My recovery runs are supposed to be under 148 or 150, but I see if I can keep them in the 130s. It's like a really fun slash really dumb game that keeps my mind off of my legs feeling like elephants are attached to each one. Usually I am only this diligent on my recovery runs the day after a long run, as that's when I really feel the gunk in my legs, but I also make sure to keep it easy after speedwork, even if my legs don't feel as junky. I can usually run a faster pace with the super low heart rate after speedwork, so I suspect my body just naturally recovers faster from the speed vs. the long.

This is such a shift from previous years where I used to think if my recovery pace wasn't X time than my goal race paces were just not even in the realm of possibility. Well guess what? I used to get injured all the time with that philosophy, and **knock on wood** I'm having my strongest training cycle of my life currently. So I think I'll keep up this new approach.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Sioux Falls Half Marathon Goals

For the second year in a row, I'm not racing the Sioux Falls Half Marathon. I love the race, and I love the race weekend, but I've focused on other fall goal races and will probably plan to use this as a training run for years to come to keep my streak (13 years!) alive.

When I was writing up our training program for TCM I was excited to see that the Sioux Falls half fell on the weekend of an 18 mile long run with 14 miles at goal marathon pace. That seems just about perfect! I edited it slightly to 13 miles at goal marathon pace, as I know there'll be a little break between the 5 mile warm up and the race to gear check my bag and get into the starting corral.

I will say that having to focus on my goal pace and race strategy for the Twin Cities Marathon this early and still this far out from the race put me into a PANIC. Especially because the half is typically warmer, humid conditions, and I wanted to be sure I ran by goal marathon effort instead of killing myself trying to do goal marathon pace on a less than desirable day.

I don't know if I have any actual goal times for this race, since it is a training run, but it'd be nice if the time reflected what I hope to accomplish at TCM, without leaving me feeling like I'd die if I have to do that all over again. I do want to finish feeling strong, picking up the pace the last 5k, and staying steady in the miles leading up to that, particularly on the hillier portions.

I suspect I'll finish in the 1:59-2:04 range, which would equate to my fastest Sioux Falls half since 2011, as a training run. I'd be pretty stoked about that. And I don't even use the word stoked. :P

Thursday, September 6, 2018

August in Review

Total Miles:  188.63 miles up from 152.76 miles last month. 140.7 miles last August. This was my highest mileage month OF MY LIFE! I hate 180 miles in April 2010, the month prior to my marathon PR, so this is positive for TCM!

Total Time: 32:15:59 up from 26:39:38

Total Runs: 26 runs for an average of 7.26 miles/run.

Highest weekly mileage: 
8/20/2018 – 8/26/2018:49.1 mi8:24:2310:16 / mi

Most hardcore run: The 20 mile loop. Uff. Such a struggle almost from the first mile to the last. Mentally hard, physically hard, and to finish was such good mental training!

Favorite run: 12 mile Monday with Melissa and 12 mile Monday with Chris. There's something about starting the week with that many miles that just gets your really amped for the rest of the week! Both runs were super hilly too so it was fun to conquer that to kick off the week!

Favorite Race: None. No races, just all the miles! 

Favorite Jam: Weezer's cover of Africa is still one of my top songs!