Thursday, May 31, 2018

Three Things: Embrace the Heat

This summer, and specifically during the marathon training cycle, I've decided to focus on three areas to improve upon. I think I've done a really good job of physically preparing myself for marathon training--putting in quality, consistent miles for the last two years. Surely I'll spend the summer and early fall doing the same, including more marathon specific runs, long runs, and workouts, but I'm also excited to work to improve in a few other areas.

Learn to better tolerate the heat. If you know me, you know I don't do well in the heat. I'm a sweaty sweater. I blame my mother and father for passing on their ability to sweat buckets to me. Thanks parents. I've always been someone who's very warm all the time. Growing up, we were really poor and didn't have air conditioning. My bedroom was always upstairs, and I basically spent every summer of my adolescence with heat rash all over my chest and stomach because of the heat and my body's inability to handle it. Uff da. I've always been the sweatiest kid on the basketball court, the runner who could wring out their hair/bra/tank/socks after a humid run.

In the past I've worked to avoid the heat. Waking up at ungodly hours to run in the coolest temps of the day, switching around workouts to have the most optimal conditions for workouts and long runs, planning my racing schedule around the seasons, but this summer I'm going to switch things up a bit. This goal, is in part put in place because Grandma's half is just around the corner. And if the past two weeks are any indication, it could be hot as hades out there. We're spending a decent amount of money to run the race, stay in Duluth, drive all the way out there, etc. and I don't want to waste all that money on a day that I say "I'm not even going to try, it's too hot!" (In the event that it's black flags or close to, please give me permission to say this! I won't not run, but I definitely will be keeping it easy effort if necessary for safety!)

I plan to spend some time in the early mornings running when the humidity is at its worst (my kryptonite, really). I also plan to spend some after work runs, probably easier paced runs, running in the heat. The best way to get better at something is to do it, right? I'm also going to practice focusing on effort during these hotter and more humid runs vs. looking at my Garmin for how things are going. During our track work last week in 80+ degrees, my repeats at 3k-5k pace were not at 3k-5k pace, but the effort I was running was as if I was racing a 5k on an 80+ degree night.

I'm also trying to spend more time outside during the day, taking lunch breaks outside (in the shade to save my poor skin) and limiting my air conditioning in the car. What's a little sweat right? It's summer! Rest assured I'll still have the air blaring when I sleep at night because no adult needs a full front side of heat rash. Barf. I'm also working on eating more cooling foods to help reduce internal inflammation so my perception of heat is different. TBD how that works out!

This is already probably too long for most people to read so stayed tuned for #2 and #3!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon Training Week 1

Monday Planned: GA 8 miles
Monday Actual: I woke up to run Monday morning with the most ferocious headache. I took some ibuprofen and snuggled the pug, expecting it to be gone in 20-30 minutes. It continued for 3 days. Needless to say I went back to bed until I had to go to work, and didn't get the run in.

Tuesday Planned:
Tuesday Actual
VO2 Max 10 miles, 2 sets of 2x1200, 1x800@ 3k-5k--modified. We made it through about 7 miles of the day, the first set of 2x1200 & 1x800 and the first 1200 of the second set before my calve started to really bother me. I jogged it out, stretched it out, and during a recovery jog stretch it felt like someone shot me in the leg with an arrow so I opted to cut the run short. Some foam rolling after found the culprit--knots on knots in my calves. Uff da.

Wednesday Planned VO2 Max 10 miles, 2 sets of 2x1200, 1x800@ 3k-5k
Wednesday Actual: 4 miles recovery with the group run at 605.

Thursday Planned
Thursday Actual: We had planned to do 5 miles in the morning to make up for a bit of the missed miles on Tuesday, but when my alarm went off at 5:30am, so did a major thunderstorm outside. Harumph. Since I ran after work instead, I cut it down to 4 miles knowing I needed to do my long run in 10 short hours.

Friday Planned: Recovery 4 Miles
Friday Actual
Endurance 12 miles in all the heat and humidity. I had to wring out my ponytail before going to Starbucks after because I was dripping so badly. Gross.

Saturday Planned: Endurance 12 miles
Saturday Actual: Rest

Sunday Planned: Rest
Sunday Actual: 4 ish miles on gravel recovery run around the lake. Hot and windy!

Total Mileage Planned: 34 miles
Total Mileage Actual:  31.17 miles

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Weekly Reads: Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory

Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory is Deena Kastor's new book and is a must read for all runners. There is so much about her running career that I didn't know and I had so much fun diving into it. Also her perspective on training and positive thinking really helped facilitate a shift in the way I plan to approach running going forward. So when I say it's a must-read, I'm not messing around!

My rating: 5 stars

Summary from goodreads:

From an Olympic medalist runner and the record-holder in the women's marathon and half-marathon, a vividly inspirational memoir on using positive psychology and brain science to achieve unparalleled athletic success 

The day Deena Kastor became a truly elite runner was the day she realized that she had to ignore her talent--it had taken her so far, but only conquering the mental piece could unlock higher levels of achievement. In Let Your Mind Run, the vaunted Olympic medalist and marathon and half-marathon record holder, will reveal how she incorporated the benefits of positive psychology into her already-dedicated running practice, setting her on a course to conquer women's distance running. Blending both narrative running insights and deep-dive brain science, this book will appeal to and motivate steadfast athletes, determined runners, and tough-as-nails coaches, and beyond.
This memoir, written by perhaps the most famous American woman active in the competitive world of distance running, will appeal to the pragmatic athletic population, and jointly to fans of engaging sports narratives, inspirational memoirs, and uplifiting biographies.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Toni's Race Report: 605 Running Co. Half Marathon

Today we have another guest post from BRF extraordinaire, Toni. Leading up to the half, I suspected that she would run under 1:45, but I told her I thought she could run a 1:46. Mind games, man. In the half in January, her goal was to break 1:50 and without realizing what she was doing, she ran a 1:48. I wanted to see if lightning would strike twice on this race which only became a goal race as the weather was pretty darn perfect as we crept up on it. Spoiler alert: she smashed her PR by another 4 minutes in just 3 short months. INSANE!

Without further adieu, here's Toni's race report:

605. The Glorious Race.
Race morning started out great and I felt really good, I kept looking outside thinking, “Oh! It’s going to be so cold in these shorts!” but as soon as I opened the car door when we got parked and I wasn’t shocked by the cold, I really started to get amped up! We’re totally prepared for this race, the weather is beautiful. It’s going to be a great day!
There wasn’t much for a warm-up for this race and we cut it pretty close getting to the actual start line, but I wasn’t nervous for this race and I didn’t really have a plan. I was totally winging it, to be honest. When I took off, I figured I would run comfortably hard and at one mile see what time that put me at.
The first mile always goes so fast –
7:57 – At this point I thought maybe I would just see how many sub 8 miles I could manage before feeling like I needed to slow down.
Mile 2 - 7:53
Between these two miles I was supposed to see my husband – I was concerned about not seeing him, but I thought to myself “maybe I’m just SO fast he’ll barely miss me,” as it turns out, he thought the race started a half an hour later than it actually did, so there’s that.

Mile 3 - 7:54
Mile 4 - 7:56
Mile 5 - 7:52
Mile 6 - 7:58- This is where I took my first GU and that ended up being way too late, you will see.

At the turn around I saw Benson, and he said to me, “You’re killing it! Way to go!” and I was so proud of myself, it made me feel awesome, in all honesty I think it was his encouragement that kept the next two miles under 8 because I was really starting to feel the sluggish effects of lack of nutrition. (I’m not going to say I was bonking because I refuse to believe I was careless enough to bonk)

Mile 7 - 7:49
Mile 8 - 7:57
Mile 9 – 8:17 – This is the part where my body is giving me the middle finger for starving it, so I took my second GU.
Mile 10 – 8:18
Mile 11 – 8:08
Mile 12 – 8:12 – By this point I have given up all hope of ever running a sub 8 again for the rest of my life.
Mile 13 – 7:54. – ONLY because it was downhill.

Total time: 1:44:24 – This is surely a mistake because there’s no way I can run under 1:45. Except that I did, and I still can’t believe my legs did it.

The best part about running fast, is that I get to see more people cross the finish line, that is easily my favorite part. 605 put on such a wonderful half and I was so excited to be a part of the inaugural running.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Race Report: Brookings Half Marathon

I woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed at 3:45am on Saturday ready to go for race day. For once, I slept well. And my stomach didn't seem to be too terribly angry for once. Wins! Toni and her husband picked me up at 4:50 and we were off! Driving through such terrible fog that I couldn't look at the window without getting dizzy from the lack of visibility. Woof.

We got to the race start with plenty of time to pick up our bibs, hit the restrooms, do my glute drills, and do a short warm up with strides. My legs felt a lot better than they had all week, and the temps were cool. I was pretty psyched to get going! My race plan was to take the first 3 miles easy at 9:15, followed by 5 at 8:45, and the last 5 as hard as I could. The temps were good and I was ready to run hard and see if I could run a time in the mid 1:50s.

We lined up near-ish the front, and I used my knowledge of the race course to know which side of the street to be on for the many many turns throughout the course. I'm always at least .1 over on this race, so I try to run tangents like a beast to minimize that. I checked in with my Garmin shortly into mile 1 and saw that I was running an 8:45 so I settled in a bit, ready to stick to the plan not to go out too fast so I could really take advantage of those later miles. Later in the mile I felt like I was running a peppy 9:15 and was closer to a 9:35. I knew that mile two was a gradual downhill and mile three was gradual uphill so I opted to try to run closer to "feel" than spot on pace. Note to future Jeri: planning to run this race in pace sections doesn't work as almost every other mile is slight uphill followed by slight downhill. Additional side note: running by feel is hard.

The first few miles felt okay, but I was surprised that I didn't feel like I was holding back. Which made me feel nervous. My heart rate was higher than it typically would be at these paces, and the humidity was having me breathe much harder than my effort was necessitating. Ugh, and the snot. It just wouldn't be the Brookings half without an obnoxious cold to be snotting my way through. 

1. 9:25
2. 9:14
3. 9:39

I was excited to dig into the quicker miles starting with mile 4. I was also excited to be running on mostly flat for the next few miles before we had some more gradual inclines coming up. I passed a few people during the pick up of pace and then shortly there after was a relay exchange and people started flying by me.

4. 9:11
5. 9:22
6. 9:08

There was a long gradual uphill that started during mile 6 at 6.67 (yes I did go through my previous race profiles and notate the length of the uphills to study prior to the race so I couldn't convince myself DURING the race that "this incline is going to last forever!!" nope, it will stop, eventually :P). I tried to pick it up in the small decline leading up to that, and was still fairly pleased with where I was at during the halfway mark of the race. My average pace was 9:20, and while I knew I didn't have 8:40s in me to finish out the race at a 9 pace, I didn't feel terrible and thought I could run 9s to the finish. Somehow that math in my head had me running about the same time as the 605 half. That math is wrong, btw.

After the mile uphill from 6.6-7.6 I was feeling a bit tired but still ready to turn it up the final five miles of the race. I knew that there was just 1.25 of uphill running left and I was ready to run hard for the final five miles. 

7. 9:01
8. 9:31

I kept pushing harder, but my times were staying the same, and my heart rate was just climbing and climbing. Somewhere after the big uphill through the park at mile 9 I recalculated my finishing time and discovered I would need to run insanely fast, all out, 120% to finish the race in 2:02. Ugh. It was around this time that I decided to pull back the effort level to a long run pace. My justification, at the time, and one I'm still ok with several days out from the race, is that I have another half in 5 weeks and if I didn't care whether I got a 2:02 or a 2:08, why not set myself up for less recovery time leading up to the next one.

Ok then. 

For the last 4 miles I tried to pretend that Toni was running along side me on a bad long run day. I tried to imagine all the complaints I would throw her way and all the fun stories she'd tell me to take my mind off of how bad the run was sucking. Despite slowing down, my heart rate really wasn't coming down much, so I still felt like I was working really hard, which was even more annoying!

9. 9:39
10. 10:12

I knew miles 11 and 13 were downhill and mile 12 was an uphill, so I just enjoyed the reprieve on mile 11. When the half and full split off I felt really alone, especially with the uphill of mile 12 staring me in the face. I took a tiny walk break at the start of mile 12 and another at the top to take a water and a Powerade. My hands and fingers were so swollen, I was really wishing I had brought more than one salt pill with, and I rarely drink anything but water during a race but I thought my body was probably needing it. I was drenched in sweat and could taste the salt on my face. Yum. :P

When we got to 1.5 miles to go, mostly downhill, I couldn't even convince myself to pick it up. I was really just ready to be done. Luckily a couple of SFWR pulled past me during mile 13 and I let them pull me along a little bit. I did pick it up with .4 to go, convincing myself it was less than an 800 meter on the track.

11. 9:59
12. 10:21
13. 8:53

.21 1:41 8:02 pace

I finished the 13.21 miles (possibly my worst tangents on this course) in 2:05:21, for a pace of 9:29. Which is somehow 20 some seconds faster than last years race, with a couple of walk breaks. oops.
Being the type of person that likes to analyze everything, I'm really okay with this performance. I'm someone who thinks that we put in the work from day to day to get that one perfect unicorn day in which everything aligns the body+the mind+the course+the weather, to that magical performance day. And we get a LOT of not perfect days along the way. This was a not perfect day for me. And that's totally okay.

I think that under normal circumstances, my legs would be healed up from a half marathon in three weeks to race another. I think based on the issues I had with my glutes not working at all during the 605 half, my quads were forced to pick up the slack, BIG TIME and are taking much longer than normal to recover. I had to stop several times during our long run the previous weekend to stop and stretch my "quarter" (the joke I kept making because one of my quads was seriously so tight still from the race). I also had to stop to stretch extra during our speed session. And was spending extra time foam rolling and sticking my quads. I was so gungho about running a better race at Brookings, that I may have neglected to listen to my body 100% and fully recover. 

I also think that the humidity effected me pretty significantly. Up until mile 9.5 when I threw in the towel a bit, my effort levels for the race matched my pace plan. Yet the paces were starkly different than the planned paces. To keep pushing that long, was a bit of a mental win with me. If Brookings had been my last race of the spring, I definitely would've gutted it out to work for that 2:02.

Grandma's might be worse weather, it could be hot AND humid. But maybe it won't be. So we'll see what June brings up nort' for one less stab at a fast half marathon time this "spring"!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Brookings Half Marathon Training Race Week

Monday Planned: Race pace+speed 7 miles 4x100 strides, 2 miles @ HM pace
Monday Actual: Sick day.

Tuesday Planned:
 Recovery 5 miles
Tuesday Actual
A truly horrendous 3.61 mile run where I felt like death, had to stop several times to cough and hack up stuff, and ended up take excessive walk breaks to catch my breath from all the coughing. Basically that run race week to get you amped to hit your goals. :P

Wednesday Planned Recovery 4 miles
Wednesday Actual: Recovery 3.26 miles. My legs felt like death. Still gahhhh!!!

Thursday Planned
 Recovery 3 Miles
Thursday Actual: I opted for a rest day from running since my legs felt so terrible and I was starting to panic about it. POWER in the morning with a little less weight on the leg portions.

Friday Planned: Recovery+speed 3 miles 4x100
Friday Actual: 3.62 miles with strides and COFFEE!!

Saturday Planned: Brookings Half Marathon
Saturday Actual: Warm up followed by the Brookings Half Marathon

Sunday Planned: Rest
Sunday Actual: Rest

Total Mileage Planned: 35 Miles
Total Mileage Actual:  24.28 miles

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Weekly Reads: Violent Ends

I volunteered to read this book for a young adult book committee that I serve on. And then the subject matter continued to be too real, on too regular of a basis, so I kept putting it off and putting it off. Until finally the deadline to have our books read and reviewed was *here* and I had to dive in. Unlike This is Where it Ends, this book is more about the before and after the school shooting that give little glimpses about the shooter from many different perspectives. It was really interesting, and I was hooked.

My rating: 4 stars

Summary from goodreads:

In a one-of-a-kind collaboration, seventeen of the most recognizable YA writers—including Shaun David Hutchinson, Neal and Brendan Shusterman, and Beth Revis—come together to share the viewpoints of a group of students affected by a school shooting. 

It took only twenty-two minutes for Kirby Matheson to exit his car, march onto the school grounds, enter the gymnasium, and open fire, killing six and injuring five others. 

But this isn’t a story about the shooting itself. This isn’t about recounting that one unforgettable day. 

This is about one boy—who had friends, enjoyed reading, playing saxophone in the band, and had never been in trouble before—became a monster capable of entering his school with a loaded gun and firing bullets at his classmates. 

Each chapter is told from a different victim’s viewpoint, giving insight into who Kirby was and who he’d become. Some are sweet, some are dark; some are seemingly unrelated, about fights or first kisses or late-night parties. This is a book told from multiple perspectives—with one character and one event drawing them all together—by some of YA’s most recognizable names.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Late Fall Race Plans

A couple of weeks ago, it was my favorite Ft. Worth running buddies birthday. In wishing her a happy birthday I was reminded that we had tentatively made plans for me to come visit in the late fall. Her birthday got my wheels turning again, and I checked to see the date of the Dallas half marathon. And then I checked on flights for that weekend. When I saw that flights were $180 (!!!!) we started making plans immediately. So I signed up for my 6th half marathon of 2018, and will run one more just prior to moving into a new age group in late December. 
Plus I get to have a fun race weekend with Dominique. I can't wait!!!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Race Goals: Brookings Half Marathon

Leading up to the 605 Running Co. Half marathon, I had thought if everything went perfectly that day, I could maybe come in just under 1:55. I knew my training was there prior to my knee getting pissed off, and I wasn't sure how much my endurance had been effected by some significant time off, especially from the long run, which is typically my weakness.

It just so happens that a 1:55 also corresponds nicely with my Brookings half course PR of 1:55:07. So my absolute A goal for the day is to run my course PR, ideally sub 1:55.

If this doesn't happen, my B goal would be to run under a 9 minute pace. It would be a huge thing mentally for my average pace to be an 8:xx.
My C goal, would be to run faster than the 605 half.
I love this race, so I just want to enjoy it and work hard. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Brookings Half Marathon Training Week

Monday Planned: GA+speed 6 miles 2 sets 6x100 strides
Monday Actual: 605 Strength + 
GA+speed 6 miles 2 sets 6x100 strides. So many strides. SO MUCH WIND. So much degrees (80, wtf).

Tuesday Planned:
 Recovery 4 miles
Tuesday Actual: Rest.

Wednesday Planned VO2 Max 9 miles 2x1200, 2x1000, 2x800 @ 3k-5k pace
Wednesday Actual
Recovery 4 miles with the 605 Group Run. I got to run with so many new friends! 

Thursday Planned
Thursday Actual
VO2 Max 9 miles 2x1200, 2x1000, 2x800 @ 3k-5k pace. Round and round and round we went. So many laps at the track. 

Also I'm obsessed with my new watch face.

Friday Planned: Recovery 3 miles
Friday Actual
Recovery 3 miles at the coffee run, just 10 hours after our speed workout. Woof. 

Saturday Planned: Endurance 10 Miles
Saturday Actual
Endurance 10 Miles, followed by ALL OF THE BEVERAGES.

Then we spectated the Howard Wood Relays. And my legs felt so horrendous after running and then sitting on bleachers for hours called for legs up the wall before bed.

Sunday Planned: Rest
Sunday Actual: Rest and ALL THE YOGA CLASSES.  Vinyasa, myofascial release, and restorative teaching. Woop!

Total Mileage Planned: 32 Miles
Total Mileage Actual:  32.15 miles

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Weekly Reads: Emergency Contact

I love a book set in that freshman year of college. Rebirth, rebranding, just a crazy time in your life. And this book sounded awesome. And the cover, is gorgeous. I was really head over heels for this book, and then it just seemed to drag on a bit in the middle. I think it'd be a 4 star review if it had kept up the momentum a little bit! Still worth picking up and deciding for yourself!

My rating: 3 stars

Summary from goodreads: For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a cafĂ© and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him. 

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

Friday, May 4, 2018

April in Review

Total Miles:  64.64 down from 106.01 miles last month.  104.9 miles last April. I'm pretty bummed to have missed the 100 mile mark for this month, as that was a goal of mine for the year. But I do think that it was important to listen to my body and err on the side of caution and rest to make sure that I could still race my planned races, and not keeping pushing to require even more time off. Still stinks. :(

Total Time: 10:28:03 down from 17:24:01

Total Runs: 15 runs, average of 4.31 miles/run

Highest weekly mileage: 

4/16/2018 – 4/22/2018:19.3 mi3:00:599:24 / mi

Most hardcore run: I honestly haven't had any challenging runs this month. Once my knee flared up, I cut all the speed work from my schedule and scaled way back on the mileage. The hardcore part of training was probably not doing all the miles and fun track work because I wanted to!

Favorite run: All of the coffee runs. It seems like Toni and I spent a lot of time not running together this month, and I missed *us*. We seemed to re-connect on Fridays and do a monster life catch up during our 3-4 mile runs.

Favorite Race: 605 Half Marathon. So hard mentally. So happy with the outcome.

Favorite Jam: Tegan and Sara's Every Chance We Get We Run. Still. STILL. still. Does anyone have a new song to suggest to me??! :P