Thursday, October 20, 2016

2016 IMT Des Moines Half Marathon recap

"This is not the race I had been training for."

That was the mantra I had to tell myself, repeatedly, throughout the IMT Des Moines Half Marathon. This was the second race for me during the IMT Des Moines Marathon weekend, the first one being the Mercy Live Up Loop (recap HERE) the day prior. There also was a 5K and Marathon Relay Team option happening as well.

This was my 6th time running the half marathon (I also ran the full marathon in 2014, recap HERE), and this was the third time the course had changed since I'd been participating. The route had been the same in 2008 and 2011. There were a few slight changes to the start and finish lines for 2012 - 2015. And there were several significant changes for the 2016 event (all of them good).

We left town around 5:50AM to make the 50-mile trek to Des Moines. To say it was a foggy drive would be an extreme understatement.The temps were in the low 60's (with a dew point to match), so the air was very humid. We arrived shortly before 6:00, and were surprised to see so many racers already milling around.

Barb and I, ready to take on 18 total miles!
As part of my Route 66 training, my coach wanted me to do a total of 18 miles. She suggested a few miles for a warm-up, run the 13.1 miles, then finish the remaining miles afterward. I rode up with Barb, and she agreed to do the extra miles with me (she's also training for Route 66, and needed some extra miles as well).

Barb and I did our warm-up (two miles) and headed to the start line. To my knowledge, this was the first year the runners were assigned corrals (depending on projected finish times). I actually like that feature, though it's almost impossible to enforce it once the runners are through their respective course entrances (shame on you if you're one of those who line up where you shouldn't! We know who you are...and so do you).

Oh my, was it ever humid! It didn't rain, but there was mist in the air for the first hour or so. We were warned about all the damp spots on the course, and the air was so heavy that nothing was evaporating. I debated about leaving the arm warmers behind, but decided to keep them on (and was glad that I did). Even though the air was humid, it was a "cool" kind of humid.

Having inadvertently run the prior day's 5-miler faster than expected (or prescribed by my coach), I had a pretty strict pacing plan....I was to run the first eight miles easy (10-10:15 pace), then surge for the next four miles (ideally hitting a 9:00 pace), than running the final mile with an all-out effort (and let's not forget there would still be three extra miles awaiting me after the finish line to complete my 18 miles for the day). Ok then. I got this (I hope!).

Warm-up done...ready for the start lline
I was pleasantly surprised how liberating it was to let my usual (9:00ish) pace go. Most races of this distance, I try to run with an average 9-minute pace, and most times I finish around the 2-hour mark. There have been times when I've been able to spank a sub-2-hour finish, and there have been many times when I've tanked and finished much later. For the most part, though, the 9-minute pace gets me happily to the finish line.

I made it to the first mile mark in almost exactly 10 minutes! Although it wasn't my "comfort zone" pace, it would have to do for this race.  After all, this was not the race I had spent the past few months training for, and I had no business treating it as such.

Onward! I made it to the second mile mark with a near-perfect 10-minute pace, as well. I still had to make a conscious effort to hold back, but given the humid conditions, it was easier than I expected. By now, the course had us on Fleur Drive, heading towards Gray's Lake.

It wasn't until we were almost at the 3-mile mark that I noticed a water stand.  I drank about 8 ounces of water with Beet Boost (right before the start line) and had been chewing PlowOn gum. Paranoid about energy burn-out in the heat, I was going to try a little tweak to my "usual" routine, and gulp down a gel at the 5-mile and 10-mile marks (instead of at the race start and then at mile 6). My hydrating strategy was to alternate water and Gatorade at the aid stations.

We looped around Gray's Lake (for miles 3 and 4) and finished the fifth mile as we merged onto Martin Luther King, Jr Parkway. So far, so good. I managed to stay pretty close to a 10-minute pace without as much effort as I'd anticipated. I was a little nervous if I would have the energy to speed up (as my plan dictated) when I hit the 8-mile mark, though. I had never before run a race like this...slower than "usual" with a 5-mile "surge" at the finish.

I don't remember when the misting stopped, but the humidity hung on all morning. I didn't feel hot as I was running, but each time I stopped to grab a drink, I could feel the sweat running down my arms and dripping off my wrists (I know, eew!).

Before I knew it, I was approaching the 8-mile mark. It was almost "Go Time." Don't forget, I also had done that 2-mile warm-up run, so I actually had 10 miles under my belt at that point. I walked briefly as I took a quick drink. My watch showed my paced had slowed a tiny bit; I should have been at 1:20, but it was showing about 1:25 of elapsed time. Granted, I had walked through the water stations (there had been four of them so far), so that would account for some of that time.

I tossed my cup and took off. Not quite sure how I was gonna summon the mojo to (all of a sudden) go faster with 10 miles behind me, I tried to just gradually take faster strides. I couldn't quite get a 9-minute pace to hit, but I could tell I was moving faster than in the previous miles.

still smiling pic from MarathonFOTO
Des Moines is the capitol city of Iowa, which means our State Capitol resides there. And, like most, state capitols, it is perched atop a grandiose hill. I have run a lot of races in Des Moines, and a lot of those races involve a lap around the Capitol in some capacity. So, I knew what was awaiting me at approximately the 9.5 mile mark. Thankfully, there was a water stand right before the 10-mile mark, so I slammed my second gel, took a deep breath, and went for it.

I knew this would be the toughest part of the race for me. By this time, I now had almost 12 miles done (including the warm-up), I was attempting to gradually up my pace, and I was determined to run the entire route (other than walking through the water stations).

By now, there were a lot of people walking. As mentioned, it was humid. This hill is pretty steep, and this was the 10-mile mark on the race course.Thankfully, I never felt my energy dwindle. I made it up the first part of the hill (on the south side) and around the curve towards the east side....still climbing. After a couple blocks, the hill starts to level out. Next we had a stretch for about half a mile, before looping around and heading back.

Ahh! When I reached the 11-mile mark, I knew I had this race in the bag. I could tell my pace had been gradually increasing, and now I had a substantial downhill to ride for next mile or so. As I crossed the 12-mile mark, I could feel my body spring into action. This was it! The final mile, it was now or never...time to see just how much I had left in the tank.

As I have said several times before, I am not a sprinter. I have long legs and my knees sort of turn inward...which makes for (what I can only imagine to be) an awkward-looking sight. But, none-the -less, it felt great to push to the finish line.

I did it! I kept to my plan, stayed on pace, and finished strong!

I made it to the finish line in 2:12:45 (official time), certainly not my fastest half marathon, but it was my second-fastest 13.1 this year (my fastest 2016 finish was on May 1, when I ran the Red Shoe Run Half Marathon in 1:59:58). As much as I would have loved to try for a faster finish, I had to stick to my training plan....and in doing so, I was able to pull off a negative split for the last half of the race. The faster finish time can wait for next year.

All done!
A silly little goal of mine is to finish the half marathon before the first full marathon runner crosses the line. So far,so good on that quest! The 2016 IMT Des Moines Marathon champion, Boaz Kipygo, from Kenya, finished in 2:16:36. So what if he ran twice as far, I still finished ahead of him (LOL).

Boaz Kipygo, the 2016 marathon champion
Upon finishing, I spotted Barb right away. I also was able to find, Gina (from Run Gina Run)! It's always great meeting up with fellow running friends (and bloggers) from near and far.

It was great to finally meet Gina in person1
We grabbed a quick snack, slammed some chocolate milk, did a few stretches, and then Barb and I headed back out for those remaining three miles. We kept our race bibs pinned on (in case we decided to go back for more food), and we did notice people looking at us like we were lost (Barb even asked one of them where the finish line was. You gotta have fun with many others ran three extra miles after the finish line?).

I do a lot of repeat races, and the IMT Des Moines Marathon (and/or half marathon) is one of them. This was my seventh time participating, and I look forward to coming back each year. A lot of people complained about the new course (mainly because it wasn't as flat as in years past),but I liked the change. Granted, Capitol Hill is a beast, but it felt great to conquer that hill (and the downhill was pretty sweet).

The weather was miserable, but manageable. We had continuous cloud cover until after we were finished. Had there been sunshine, it would have felt much worse. Thankfully, I'm used to the Iowa humidity, so it's not usually a game-changer for me. I was a dripping mess when we finally finished running, and I was glad to have brought dry clothes to change into for the ride back home. And my hair...ugh! When I finally got around to peeling it out of the messy was still a wet mess in spots.

Scary post-18-miler hair on a hot & humid day
No doubt about it, this event is top-notch. Great communication, big expo, and awesome race shirts!

Can you say, "Thumb holes?"
And, check out the medals! For participants who did a Combo Challenge (also running the Mercy Live Up Loop the day prior, the medals are magnetized to fit together.

Aren't they pretty?

All in all, I am very happy with how things went. Sure, I would have liked to have tried for a faster finish time, but this was not the time or place to do so. Route 66 is what I have been training for, and that's where my focus needed to be. My marathon is happening on November 20th, which means there's only a couple more weeks of distance running...then the taper can commence. 

Have you ever done a half marathon as a training run? If so, were you able to treat is as a training run...or did you (accidentally) turn it into a race?  Does the heat and/or humidity affect your performance on race day?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Mercy Live Up Loop 5-Miler recap

Just because an opportunity presents itself, one does not necessarily need to take the bait.

Case in point, my 5-mile race this past weekend.

It was the weekend of the IMT Des Moines Marathon, and I was registered for the Live Up Loop + Half Marathon Combo. In other words, I would be doing two races, the 5-miler on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday.

Brrr! It felt chilly in the low-60-degree temps!
I do a lot of 5-mile runs, but I don't often race that distance. In accordance to my marathon training (Route 66 Marathon is happening Nov. 20!), my coach had advised me to run this race "easy," mainly because I also had the half marathon on tap for the next morning (with five additional "bonus " training miles tacked on). None the less, the opportunity was right there in front of me:  an overwhelming temptation to see how fast I could swing these five miles (five miles, after all, is just an itty bitty distance, right?).

So that right there was my struggle. "Hold back" (and save a little something for the next day) vs. "just let go" (and see what happens).

What would you do?

The IMT Des Moines Marathon is now in its 15th year, but this was the inaugural year for the Mercy Live Up Loop. Never one to shy away from a challenge, I was eager to take on the challenge of doing both this 5-mile race as well as the half marathon.

The start line (and finish line as well) were both at Principal Park, near downtown Des Moines. The first mile took us west on Martin Luther King,Jr Parkway, which is pretty flat. After turning left on Fleur (heading south), we made our way towards Gray's Lake Park. Right near the halfway point, the route turns left, rounding the southwest corner of the lake. Next, the route continues east, along the south edge of the lake, eventually merging out of the park on a trail that runs parallel to the Raccoon River. The race route continues on this trail, eventually crossing the river on a bridge...which takes us right back to where we began, right outside of the Principal Park baseball stadium (home of the Iowa Cubs).
Ready for the start line
The first mile didn't seem "fast," mainly because the first mile never seems fast with the crowd of runners who haven't yet spread out. I glanced at my watch as I approached the mile-1 marker and it showed 8:30ish for elapsed time. Major oops. #toofast 

Thankfully, there was a foreign ache to the left of my tailbone (I kid you not), so I tried to ease up a little and (awkwardly) massage the ache briefly as I ran. I'm not very graceful, so the self massage thing certainly made for a slower pace. As I passed the 2-mile mark, my watch showed just under 18 minutes had I had successfully slowed down...some.

We had decent temps (low 60's), but it was damp and windy at times. There also was the threat of rain (and I was not relishing a damp run on an already cool morning).

As I worked my way through the third mile, I kept thinking of previous races and training runs of this distance. Back in my earlier days, maintaining a solid 9-minute pace for five miles was easy-peasy. In recent years, though, my limited speed had suffered a rather lengthy plateau in the wake of intermittent piriformis/hamstring/glute issues (and Plantar Fasciitis may have also played a minor role a couple times). Could I knock out a sub-45 minute finish? A sub-9-minute pace? Granted, this wasn't the day (or race) to do it...but could I?

I walked briefly through the water station, trying to rationalize why I needed to stick with the easy pace (10-10:15), while at the same time trying to ignore the temptation to just let things go and tempt fate a little. As I tossed the cup, I broke back into what felt like an easy pace. Only this easy pace felt really good and I felt really strong...before long, I was (again) running faster than I should have been. My GPS watch is out of commission, so I just had my basic stop watch to monitor my pace at the mile splits.

I have said this many times before : I am not a fast runner. I'm (maybe) slightly faster than "average" (on a good day), but I do not consider myself a sprinter in the least. But I am tall, with long legs (and big feet). Trying to make myself run "slower" than what seems natural feels just as awkward as trying to run faster than my ability allows. Trying to hold back (and slow down) was really a struggle that morning, especially when I was so close to the finish line.  

Finally, somewhere in the fourth mile, I gave up and just let my legs do their thing. It was taking more energy to "go slow" and it was driving me (slightly) crazy. I was not in an all-out sprint, but I no longer held anything back. I don't know what my exact last mile split was, but I made it across the finish line in 45:08.  Had I not walked briefly through the two water stations, I would have nailed the sub-45 finish (and sub-9 pace). Still, I couldn't help but feel a little satisfied with my efforts.

But let me step back for a moment. 

Although I felt a bit badass being able to pull off a decent finish time in the final half of the race, I also felt a bit sheepish in running this "easy" race faster than intended (and prescribed). I also knew I had to confess what went down. Full disclosure, and all that.

Coach Suz shook her virtual finger at me (and, it certainly was warranted). I feared there would be burpees as punishment...(spoiler alert : no burpees).

Although the race was a success in terms of proving to myself I still have a bit of "get-up-and-go" in me, I had to acknowledge that I had strayed from my 26.2 plan. After all, I have not spent the past few months training for this 5-miler. Instead, I have a much bigger prize on the horizon come Route 66 race day. In terms of this race being a successful "easy" training run, I'm afraid it was a fail.

Thankfully, my body felt great post-race. I had plenty of time to stretch out (in the baseball stadium). How often does one get that opportunity?

Unique to all of these events with the IMT Des Moines Marathon are the various swag that accompany each of the events. The marathoners (and half marathoners and marathon relay team members) receive nice 1/4-zip jackets (in different colors, depending on the event). The 5K participants receive colorful stocking hats. And, the 5-milers received stadium blankets! Also, all event participants receive medals with different ribbons designating their specific event.

Upon leaving the stadium, I grabbed a printout of my stats...and was taken aback to see I had placed 5th in my age group (there were 35 of us "old gals")! It turns out I had finished 58th out of the 337 females, and 146th overall (out of the 535 participants). Things that make you go, "hmmmmm...."

Stay tuned, the Half Marathon recap is coming soon (and things played out much smoother for that race)!

Have you ever ran a race that seemed somewhat effortless? How do you feel about challenges that involve multiple races in the same weekend? Ever been to Des Moines?

I am linking this with Deb for the Wednesday Word....this week's word? Opportunist. Touche.' I'm also linking with Susie and Debbie and Rachel and Lora for the Running Coaches' Corner linkup. I invite you to check out all the hostesses, their awesome blogs, and all the linked blogs as well.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

More High's getting real

Another high -mileage week is in the books.

Would anyone believe me if I confessed that I'm feeling a tad bit fatigued? This marathon training, though fun (at times), is not for sissies.

Mondays have become my favorite (training) day on the schedule because they are just easy miles. No paces/splits/speed work. Just good old-fashioned running. Barb and I have started calling them "5 at 5" (and I have coined the hashtag #5at5AM).

I love my easy Monday runs! Five easy miles always feel so good!
Tuesday was a pleasantly warm and sunny day. I expected a light load at work, so I allowed a little extra snoozing in the morning, and did my run in the afternoon. Hill repeats...back and forth...five times total. Just my luck, the (hilly) county road I use is right by the golf course, and there were some guys working on the greens. No cat calls, but they probably wondered what my problem was going back and forth numerous times.
Post-hills...feeling accomplished
Wednesdays are typically an active recovery day, with no scheduled running on the agenda. However, I am not allowed to lounge on the couch, eating bon bons. Instead, I took it to the stairs, 100 flights up (and down)...some double-steps, and some triple-steps. With a side of planking.

stairs and two favorite forms of cross-training
It done got chilly overnight, and there was frost on the ground in some places on Thursday morning. Yikes. I do not mind winter, but I certainly am NOT in a hurry for it to get here. So, yes, this was my first layered-up-with-a-stocking-hat run for the season.

Although it was a mere 30-degrees, it actually felt great!
Friday was another active recovery day, prepping for my weekend. Also, Friday is #Fridayfashion on  .my Instagram page......

The IMT Des Moines Marathon (and all subsequent activities) kicked off on Friday with the expo. I headed over to get my race packets and check out the vendors and festivities. A highlight of the expo was listening to a local friend, Susie Duke. She was one of the featured speakers, having won the women's half marathon in 2014! She also qualified for the Olympic Trials this past spring (for the marathon distance).

With Susie
Saturday morning was the first racing event, the Mercy Live Up Loop. This was the inaugural year for this 5-mile race. I have done a lot of 5-mile runs, but not many races of that distance. We had moderate temps (low 60's), clouds, and some wind. Somehow, I pulled off a 5th place AG finish...crossing the finish line in 45:08 (recap coming...#staytuned).

After finishing the 5-miler (on the left), and after finishing the 13.1 (on the right)
Sunday, I ran the Half Marathon. I had to treat this as a training run (and not a race) to honor my training plan (which I sort of, inadvertently, violated with my faster-than-prescribed race the day prior). All went remarkably well considering the heat and extreme humidity (and a few nasty hills) me my second fastest 13.1 finish time this year (2:12:45) and a substantial negative split (that race recap is also in the works...#staytuned). I also had an extra five miles to run (to hit my long run goal of 18 miles for the day), so I did a 2-mile warm-up and finished the remaining three miles a short while after the finish line.

This is the second year that they have medals that are magnetized for the full marathoners and half marathoners who do the Combo challenge (the Saturday race and one of the Sunday distance races). Aren't they pretty? 
So, this week ended with 40 miles logged. I think that's another weekly mileage PR. And, this weekend, I am finally starting to feel the effects of all this crazy (though necessary) mileage. My feet are achy, my back is cranky, and my entire body is ready for a good nights sleep. Other than that, things are just peachy!

In other news, we became grandparents to a little fur baby this weekend! Our daughter (in Pennsylvania) adopted a sweet little Shih Tzu, named Lola. Life is, indeed, quite good!

Speaking of family dogs...our little Max loves his dental sticks!

Have you ever done a series of races all on the same weekend? What''s your weekly mileage PR? Have you had frost on the ground yet?

As usual, I'm linking with my gals Holly  and Tricia for the Weekly Wrap. I highly encourage you to check out their awesome blogs, as well as the numerous linked blogs.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Running in the (wee) Dark Hours

With the quickly diminishing daylight, most of my runs are happening in the dark, pre-sunrise hours.

It's crazy how fast the shorter days/longer nights crept up on me. It wasn't that long ago (it seems like a couple weeks ago, but it's been a bit longer) when I was leaving the house in the dark and returning with a beautiful sunrise behind me. Those beautiful sunrises are now happening 90 minutes later, as I leave for work, which means I'm spending more time in the dark (than in the daylight hours) logging my miles.

That's not all bad.

I live in a somewhat small Iowa town (population is just over 10,000). Although I'm comfortable running in the dark, there are numerous things I do to ensure I'm safe. I respect that everyone has their own level of comfort when it comes to personal safety, and not everyone lives in an area as conducive to being outside in the dark as I do.

While these tips are not all-inclusive, they are working for me as I continue with my training for the Route 66 Marathon:

1- Be seen. High-viz colored clothing (white, yellow, lime green, etc.) are ideal. Some clothing has reflector strips, and most running shoes have them as well.

There's a plethora of accessories available to use as well... Knuckle Lights, ViziBelt, clip-on head lamps, etc.
Knuckle Lights in my hand, ViziBelt on my waist

2- Watch where you're going. Sidewalks may seem safer than the road, but there are a lot more cracks, bumps, and debris to encounter. If you run on the street, it's safest to run on the left side of the road (facing the on-coming traffic). That said, depending on the time of morning (or night), running in the middle of the street might be something to consider...the surface will be smoother (from the wear and tear of vehicles) and should be relatively flat (no side sloping, as you may encounter on the shoulder).

3- Run a familiar route. I have several routes of varying distances, but I try to stay fairly close to home when it's dark outside. Also, I try to utilize well-lit streets. I live a few blocks from our college's main campus...and there are street lights almost every 20 feet. The central campus sits on a span of several blocks, and it's an approximate mile in distance around the circumference...often times, I just do several laps around this area.

4- Mix up your routine (once in awhile). Although I have my familiar routes, I seldom ever run them in the same sequence. I run the route(s) clockwise one day, and counter-clockwise the next time. Sometimes, I run the big loop in a figure-8 pattern. I also try to head out at different times. I doubt there's anyone casing my route, but (on the off-chance there is) varying my routine will keep them guessing.

5- If you can, do bring a friend! Occasionally, I can persuade my friend, Barb, to join me. Trust me, the two of us are quite a sight with our blinking lights and belts in the wee dark hours!

Other things to consider:
***Have a phone with you (for emergencies)
***If you listen to music (like I do), have the volume low, so you're able to hear your surroundings
***A subtle way to "be aware" without looking scared is to watch the road for shadows. Ironically, the more street lights, the more shadows you will see (in every direction)
***If running in the dark is just not your gig, then stay inside. It's not worth the anxiety.

Are you a run-in-the-dark runner? Any favorite tips you'd like to share?

I'm linking up with the DC gals (Mar and Courtney and Cynthia), for their grand finale on their awesome Friday Five link-up. Please head over and check out their blogs, as well as all the other linked blogs.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Irritable? (not really)

Did you know I'm training for a marathon?

I know, I know. I really don't talk about it much (#eyeroll #sarcasm).

This is not my first marathon...but I may be acting like it is
Like most marathoners-in-training, I probably talk more about it than most people want to hear (runners and non-runners alike). Anyone who has ever trained for a marathon knows how it sort of takes over your life....extra running, increased eating, more blisters, constant weather-stalking, and many earlier-than-desired wake-up calls. Is it any wonder we can get a little irritable?

Surprisingly, I'm not feeling the 26.2-training irritability this go-round.

I remember training for my first marathon (Quad Cities Marathon ), three years ago. I followed a Hal Higdon plan for intermediate runners. Although the training runs went well, it was a whole new ball game for me. I had confidence in my ability, but I still had a great deal of trepidation as to what would happen on race day. Also, I trained entirely on my own. I had lots of support from well-meaning friends and family (and tons of virtual cheerleaders from many online friends who also were embarking on their first marathons as well). Having never run (or trained for) a race of that magnitude was exciting, but a bit unnerving as well.

Quad Cities Marathon...Sept. 22, 2013
For my second marathon (IMT Des Moines Marathon), I basically followed the same training plan but tweaked it as needed (if there were scheduling conflicts). I also ran most of my long runs with a friend, so I had to learn how to run and talk at the same time...which actually enhanced my endurance tremendously. It seemed like I had constant aches and pains (and issues with shoes), especially towards the end of the training cycle (when the mileage was at its highest).

IMT Des Moines Marathon...Oct. 19, 2014
My third marathon...ugh (Grandma's Marathon). The race itself went pretty well, but the training? Not so much. There was a myriad of ongoing obstacles, due mainly to the time of year (prom committee commitments, dance recital stress, our son's high school graduation....just to name a few). Also, there were a few unexpected twists thrown into the mix (my mother-in-law's sudden passing, a spontaneous surprise party for my sister-in-law, and Plantar Fasciitis!).

Grandma's Marathon...June 20, 2015
I also have done two ultra's, both of which had less-than-ideal training as well. The first one (Christmas in July 6-hour Ultra) was a month after Grandma's Marathon, so the training was basically done simultaneously.

Christmas in July 6-Hour....July 18, 2015
The second ultra (Christmas in July 12-hour Ultra) was just a few months ago, also in the midst of another visit from PF (this time in the other foot) and a crazy hamstring/glute/piriformis flare-up (perfect timing, not).

Christmas in July 12-Hour...July 16, 2016
Granted, all of these events had very happy endings. But, there was a little bit of stress and lots of irritability in getting to the start lines.

Fast forward to right now.....I'm less than 6-weeks out from Route 66 Marathon (Nov. 20 in Tulsa, OK). I'm smack dab in the middle of the high-mileage part of the training, with only a few weeks until I hit the taper! And, knock on wood, I have nothing to be irritable about. I'm running the highest mileage I've ever done...weekly and monthly. My aches and pains have been at the absolute minimum. And, I'm doing the most speed work ever attempted...and I'm kind of enjoying the challenge of it. What's happening to me?!?!?!

I think I had solid training plans for all of these previous marathons, but there were a lot of outside forces that did not play to my advantage. There were some missed long runs (due to last-minute travel), scaled-back mileage (to give the aches and pains some down time), and not much speed work (for fear of aggravating the existing aches and pains).

What's different this time? First and foremost, I believe, is the addition of a coach. There are many things I'm doing that I've never done before (extra mileage, consistent speed work, and daily PT)...and I'm surviving! I have been blessed with near-perfect weather for most of my training runs...I've done one run on the 'mill, and it was more as an experiment than necessity. Also, I'm doing most of my runs in the early morning hours....which means they are getting done (and not procrastinated, dreaded, or forgotten). I still need to work on my sleep, but that is a constant work-in-progress (not just during training).

So, should I feel guilty for the lack of irritability? Or just enjoy the ride?

Have you ever had a rough & tough training cycle, and were pleasantly surprised on race day?

I'm linking with Deb for the Wednesday Word link-up....and today's word? Irritability (you probably saw that one coming). Also, I'm linking with Susie, Debbie, Rachel and Lora for the Running Coaches Corner link-up. Lots of great blogs and lots of great reading await you!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

More Miles? Sure, why not!

...and another crazy mileage week is done. This week's mileage came in at 36 miles...What the What???

Seriously, I'm shaking my head at what's been happening in my running shoes recently. Don't get me wrong, I'm in NO way bragging. I realize these high mileage weeks are the norm for many people, even those who aren't necessarily training for marathons. I'm just not a high-mileage gal (but am kind of becoming one). Tacking on the 15 miles from last weekend, I'm already at 51 total miles for October....and it's only gonna get bigger (and better?) as I'm nearing the end of my training for my marathon. Did you just hear me gulp (loudly)? I have a few more weeks of long runs, and then I'll be tapering.....

Anyways, here's the down and dirty of what happened this week:

Monday, like all of my Mondays thus far in 2016, started with a #nevermissaMonday run. Prior to my 26.2 training, the majority of these Monday miles were the bare minimum, usually a single mile (sometimes, two). My official training for Route 66 began in mid-August...and the Monday runs changed to moderate-mileage runs. Currently, I'm knocking out 50-minute runs, at an easy pace (approximately five miles).
Another early morning #nevermissaMonday
The temps were forecasted to be nice, and upon waking to the 4:58 AM alarm, I elected to postpone Tuesday's run until after work. Since I have been doing so many of my runs in the wee (dark) hours, I thought it would be a welcome change to do a run in the daylight. Instead, I did some arm work in the morning.

suns out, guns out
 Tuesday's run turned out to be quite the adventure. The recap of that crazy idea is HERE, but let me summarize it to say that I drastically underestimated the distance, and overshot my desired speed. Whoops.

What was supposed to have been 6 miles morphed into 7.2 miles...and a major sweat fest
Wednesday, I not only was assigned an easy day of cross-training, I sort of needed some rest and recovery following my Tuesday excursion. Surprisingly, my body felt fine in the morning, but I still played it cool and kept things on the down-low. I did my planking, PT, and stretched like a good girl, and also did some cardio on the stairway (100 flights, up and down). And I slept like a baby that night.

Approximately 22 minutes of cardio on the stairway had me ready for bed...
Thursday was another day of early morning running. The temps were in the mid-60's and felt perfect! I was out the door before 5:30, successfully hit all of my splits, and was back to the house in less than an hour. Six miles done, and I felt great!

As mentioned last week, I'm starting a new thing and posting a #Fridayfashion post each week (on Instagram). Overnight, the late summer temps came to an abrupt halt, so I needed warmth!  Our high school's homecoming game was Friday night, so I chose to wear the school colors. Go Tigers!

I'm also a knitter geek...and love the warmth of this hand-made poncho 
And there was some more planking!

I challenge YOU to get down on the floor, assume the position, and plank!
Saturday. There were several things on tap for the day, starting with my long run. I had 16 miles to do, and Barb wanted to run those 16 miles as well. She drove to my house and we were on the road just after 5:30AM. The temps were chilly (hello...39-degrees #brrrr), the air was crisp, and the sky was dark.

That's right...full tights, fleece headbands, and gloves
Similar to the 14-miler I ran last weekend, I broke up this run as well. First, we ran a 5-mile route, stopped back at the house for a potty break and re-fueled. Next, we headed out on an (almost) 7-mile out-and-back trail....with a couple of big hills. Our thinking was that the hills wouldn't be as ominous in the dark, except by the time we got to the turn-around, we had daylight. And, we had a full-on sunrise in our faces for the jaunt back to my house. Seriously, how do you peeps who run without sunglasses do it? (#Ugh) We made it back to the house, took another quick potty break and re-fueled, and headed back out to finish the remaining 4.5 miles (with our sunglasses).   All went well, and our 16 miles were done!

That was just the start of my day. Our local Optimist Club hosts an annual Fly-In Breakfast at our small airport. My husband is one of the main organizers of the event, and it's always fun seeing the airplanes (and their pilots) who fly in as well as much of the community who come out and support the event. This was immediately after my 16-mile run.

Next, we jumped in the car, and headed to our son's swim meet at his college, a couple hours away. He is in his second year of school and this is his second year on the swim team (as a walk-on). He's a distance swimmer, and usually swims the 500, 1000, 1650 (one mile), and sometimes, the 200. At this meet, he swam the 1650...and then the 200, a mere 10 minutes later. Needless to say, he was dragging tail fin in the 200...but a strong performance, none the less.

No, the day did not end there. We drove back home, and arrived in time to get some pics of the youngest daughter and her gal pals before they headed out to partake in the Homecoming festivities. If you look closely, you can see the hat is part of my outfit (from the swim meet) and is hiding the (still) unwashed hair (I know...#eewwww).

So, after 1)-being up since 4:45AM, 2)-running 16 miles, 3)-sitting in a car for a 4-1/2 hour round trip, and 4)-hanging out pool side for a couple hours (in a steamy in-door facility) body and mind were a tiny bit exhausted. We got a pizza, watched some television with a friend, and I was down for the count by 9:00PM. Even though I had showered (quickly) after my long run, I didn't have time to wash my hair...and at that point in the evening I didn't care.

Sunday morning, I felt a bit stiff, but nothing major. I had slept with compression socks, so I think that helped relieve any potential DOMS. I ran an easy 1-mile shakeout run and felt great. I don't know what surprised me more...the easiness (and effortless speed) with which I ran that mile, or how quick my body seems to have already acclimated to the cooler temps (it was 41-degrees, and I was comfortable in shorts and a two light layers on top).

post-Sunday's shakeout run in the sun
That's my other news:

I gave Max a bath earlier in the week, little did I know he'd wet the carpet an hour or so later.

Don't let the cute face fool you.....
The sedum plants in my yard are absolutely beautiful right now!

And, new shoes were welcomed into the family! I really didn't need a new pair, but I got a great deal on them (and free 2-day shipping).

Is it weird to welcome the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16's with a kiss?
How was your week? Are the autumn temps getting cooler or do you still have a bit of summer lingering?  What's the longest you have gone without washing your hair?

As usual, I'm linking up with Holly and Tricia for the Weekly Wrap. Do check out their blogs, and all the other awesome blogs on the link-up!