Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Route 66 Marathon....my toughest race ever

Let me set the scene....

I registered for the Route 66 Marathon back in March. There were several races between then and race day (including that 12-hour Ultra), and a few odd-ball injuries. I had long-been contemplating working with a coach, so I hooked up with Coach Suz and we got to work in late August.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Marathon hangover = Recovery

Marathon recovery sucks. Especially recovering from a tough race that didn't go as planned.

To say the past week has been a myriad of emotions would be an understatement, but I'm riding the recovery (sans the usual post-race endorphins). And, the sun is still shining, so all is well.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

'Fessing up and coming clean

Oh, is my heart, mind, and tummy full! And I have some things I need to share (and runfess to everyone).

It's been a crazy week of inactivity (hello? marathon recovery:101), and my thoughts and emotions have been all over the place since the Route 66 finish line.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Got Gratitude?- 2016

Being a runner has had a pretty significant impact on my life.

Oh gosh. There is SO much to be grateful for...and not just this time of season, but year-round.

I've written previous Thankful posts (in 2015 and 2014), and I honestly don't know if I could say it any better. Bear with me, I'm gonna go with (mainly) what's been said before, but tweak some of it to make it more current.

My family.  I am so absolutely in love with my husband and three amazing kids.  They don't usually run with me (stay tuned, I'm working on that detail), but they put up with me and my running.  And, they don't complain too much about the running shoes scattered throughout the house or the occasional icky toenail. 

Christmas 2015
*My faith.  I'm not gonna get all high and almighty on you, but my faith is my cornerstone. My humbleness, and my strength. It's my everything.

*My friends. I have an abundance of awesome people in my life.  I appreciate all their kind words, messages and hugs. Some of them are just as crazy as me, and have been known to run Ultra's overnight, in the heat (and humidity) of summer...complete with lightning, rain, and Christmas lights. They make me smile and feel warm & fuzzy.

2016 Christmas in July 12-hour overnight ultra
*Maxton McArthur. We adopted Max from a nearby animal shelter almost two years ago. I didn't grow up with a dog, and our family has never had one. I totally didn't get the "dogs aren't pets, they are family" thing. Well, I totally get it now. This adorable little guy has wormed his way into my heart, and everyone else who has met him. He makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, too.

*Freedom to run "my way." I don't have be fast. I don't have to run every day. I don't have to run excessive weekly mileage. And I don't have to love every experience in my running shoes. Most importantly, I don't have to impress anyone other than myself. Running has liberated me like nothing else.

*My virtual running buddies.  There are so many wonderful people who have become dear friends, and most of them came to me via this blog and my running page, Running on the Fly .  There have been countless messages, well wishes, (virtual) high-5's, and many laughs shared through our computer screens. And, there have been some tears and sniffles, too. I have met some of these fabulous peeps in person, and look forward to meeting many more.

The racing community.  I don't consider myself a racer, but I love the atmosphere on race day.  There's something about an entire bunch of strangers, all running towards the same finish line, that makes me feel at-one with all others on the race course . Nothing is better than the final 100 feet of a race...the finish line fanfare is intoxicating.

Quad Cities Marathon Relay team with three of my cousins
*The gift of running.  Having spent most of my life believing I was not an athlete, I am so humbled (and proud) to call myself not just a runner, or a marathoner, but an Ultra Marathoner! It's not my intention to impress others. Instead, I hope to inspire them to violate their own comfort zones. I now have six marathons under my belt (three of which are ultras!), 31 half marathons, a few 10-mile races, and countless races of other distances. If I can be an "athlete" (with my less-than-athletic body), anyone else can be one, too.

Have you taken the time to reflect on all you have? What are you most grateful for?

I'm linking up with Deb for the Wednesday Word...and we're talking Gratitude this week. I'm also linking up with Susie and Debbie and Rachel and Lora for the Running Coaches' Corner. I invite you to checkout all of these wonderful hostesses, as well as all the other blogs in the link-ups.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The final countdown....

The final week leading up to my big day was nothing grandiose, but the miles (37.5) were still substantial (so what if the bulk of them happened at the marathon itself?).

So, what went down?

Monday, in keeping with my #nevermissaMonday ritual, I got clearance from Coach Suz to run my easy-paced 3-miler about nine hours early....under the light of the ginormous super full moon. Did you see the moon that night? It (literally) lit up the night....I barely needed my Knuckle Lights.

Tuesday was an active recovery day. Yadda Yadda Yadda. Some stretching, PT exercises, and some planking for good measure.

Wednesday was more of the same. It was weird to have two non-running days back-to-back. It's been several months since that's happened. I joined a new planking challenge since my #planks4thewin challenge kind of tanked (seriously, where did all of my plankers go?). I'm still planking daily, just not posting every single time I assume the position. Moving on...

Thursday was the final #5at5AM for Barb and myself (for this training cycle). The temps were in the low-50's, with a steady breeze...a near-prefect simulation to what we'd have in Oklahoma. I wore a tank with a long-sleeved top and capri's, and think I nailed it.  Don't you love it when that happens?

Friday was a L.O.N.G. day of travel.....our journey to Oklahoma involved nearly eight hours of car time. Not one to wear running gear unless I'm 1) on my way to a run, 2) actually running, or 3) returning from a run, I elected to dress like a runner anyways...with leggings (compression sleeves incognito underneath), a comfy top, and the running shoes. Desperate times.

#Fridayfashion was pretty casual this week
We arrived at our destination (a bed and breakfast lodging set-up for that first night), and then hustled downtown to meet Traci (from RUN? Are you in?), who was able to pick up our 5K bibs and from the expo. Traci and I have been Facebook friends for a few years, and it was awesome to finally meet in person (at a race, none the less). I knew we'd be cutting it close with our arrival, so she was a great help in getting our stuff for us.

We also met up briefly after the 5K Saturday morning
Saturday was the 5K. The temps were chilly at the start (low 30's), but felt fine once we were moving. 

Barb and I at the start line
Also, we spent some serious time at the expo, exploring.

And received a gait analysis, courtesy of Brooks. 

And, Sunday. The day we'd been training for. Another cool morning, especially at the start of the race. Thankfully, the coolness was bearable and felt fine after the first mile or so. But the wind? Not so much!

The race itself? Well, I'll share this much for now...the Route 66 Marathon has a beautiful course, but it's nonstop hills. Factor in the crazy wind (along with a very unexpected achy hip/groin issue), and it made for a rather difficult day in my running shoes. The recap will be posted later this week, so stay tuned.

Check out the size of that medal!
In other news....

...this is what happened in our hometown AFTER we left for the weekend. How's that for timing?

As usual, I'm linking up with the lovely HoHo Runs and Tricia for the Weekly Wrap. Do head over and check out their blogs and see what everyone else has been up to!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Hullabaloo all over the place

Can you say Hullabaloo?

What is a hullabaloo? According to some googling, it's 1) a very noisy and confused situation or 2) a
situation in which many people are upset and angry about something.

Well, I'm going with the first one.  My situation isn't noisy, but it does have me in a state of confusion right now.

Granted, I'm in process of marathon taper (Did you know I'm running a marathon in a few days?). But I am one of the rare running weirdos who actually enjoy taper time. I don't go through any of the typical mood swings, rants, training doubts, or night sweats (usually).

I do have a myriad of confusion right now, though, as race day approaches...

What's with the weather?  Don't we all experience this? Route 66 is in Tulsa, OK, which is much farther south than Iowa. The odds are pretty good the temps will be near perfect. Currently, the marathon forecast is showing a high of 60-degrees (with a low in the 40's). It also shows 10-15 mph wind....is that a cool breeze or a hot blast in Oklahoma? Anyone?

What to wear? For the marathon, I'd like to go with shorts and a tank (with arm warmers) and compression sleeves on the legs, thank you very much. I've yet to run a marathon in anything other than shorts or a tank top, but should I consider capri's? It's probably gonna be cold at the start line, after all. I'll probably go with a tank (and arm warmers) with a long-sleeved throwaway top....(?)

Did I also mention the 5K on Saturday? Similar temps, but it's a much shorter race....so it won't warm up much in the time I'll be running. Probably warmer clothes, right? For sure capri's (and long sleeves). And gloves?

What about my head gear? Will a hat (or visor) stay on in the wind? Should I go with a funky headband (for fashion sake)? or a fleece headband (for warmth)?

And, the shoes? The "newer" shoes have felt a little weird the past month, but recently they have felt better. Could it have been all those crazy miles? Maybe I was taping my arches too tight? I have been experimenting with taping (again) and things are feeling better in the newer shoes. The jury's still out...

Race goals? Ugh. I'm all over the map on this one. I have trained hard (easily, the hardest I've ever trained for anything. Ever). I'm in the best shape of my life. And, oh, how I'd LOVE a shiny, new PR! But, Route 66 is a hilly route  (not exactly PR-friendly). I'm not afraid of hills, though. Heck, I embrace hills because "flat" is boring. I knew it was a hilly course when I registered....if I wanted more insurance of a PR, I would have chosen a flatter course.

Also, I do have a plan to keep my pace in check....no sprinting right outta the gate, steady pacing, ride the hills. Etcetera. And, this is a famous marathon, I want to enjoy the route, the crowds, the experience of simply being there... and not be a victim (or prisoner?) to my watch.

So...what to do? First and foremost, my goal is to enjoy the race. I want to run the entire route (with the exception of water/aid stations). And, I'd love to finish (conservatively) under 4:30....which would give me a PR of three minutes and some change. Physically, I think I'm in prime condition to finish even faster...but there will be numerous hills to battle along the way (and some wind). Realistically, I know it will not be a cake walk.

So yeah. Hullabaloo all over the place!

Have you ever had similar confusion prior to race day? Wardrobe stress? Race day goals? Course elevation challenges? A good attitude regardless?

I'm linking up with Deb for the Wednesday Word. Today's word is Hullabaloo (you probably saw that coming, huh!) and also with Susie and Rachel and Debbie and Lora for the Running Coaches' Corner. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Can I take a bow?

Oh. My. Gosh.

My sixth marathon (technically, it's my third ultra) is happening in less than a week! Am I scared? (not really) Do I feel prepared? (yes!) Will you allow me to take a bow?

Although it was a substantial scaled-back week (regarding mileage), it still was busy. Here's what went down:

As usual, Monday called for my #nevermissaMonday routine. With my 20-miler a day prior, I spent the majority of Monday in recovery mode, and just did a simple 1-mile run to shake out the legs. I ran after work, and the run felt effortless. Mission accomplished.

Yes, I did wear the compression socks to work (incognito under my pants)
Tuesday, my friend Barb met me for our #5at5AM run (five miles at 5:00). Barb has been meeting up with me for these easy-paced runs for the past several weeks. Although, I'm not afraid doing the miles on my own (in the wee dark hours), it's always great having a friend along with me.

Wednesday, I had a 10K time trial run on the calendar (and an extra mile of warm-up/cool-down). Boy, is this time change messing with my mind. I headed out after work (just after 5:00PM), and lost daylight much sooner than I anticipated. There's a 5K loop that goes right by my house, and I planned to run the loop twice (clockwise, then counter-clockwise). This route includes a county road with very limited lighting and a couple of decent hills....not ideal in the dark. I ran the first 1.5 mile and realized it would be dark by the time I came back around to run it in reverse, so I made the command decision to reroute after that first 5K loop. Problem solved.

Yes, I"m "riding" the taper
Thursday was a day of active recovery. You know, the typical...stretching, PT exercises, and planking.

Friday, Barb and I met up at 5:00AM again. I ran an approximate mile (for warm-up) before meeting her, and we knocked out five fairly (dare I say, tempo?) fast miles before I headed back home.

43-degrees, and I left the gloves at home and felt fine without them (???)

And, let's not forget the #Fridayfashion post on Instagram

Saturday. It was my first Saturday with ZERO running on the plan in several months, but I had plenty of cross-training on tap (in the form of yard work). We have several tall pine trees in the back yard, and several tall oaks in the front yard. We raked (and raked) most of the pine needles first, then tackled all the leaves (and millions upon millions) of acorns in the front yard. Lots of core work (twisting with the rake), squatting (lifting the debris from the ground), and (what felt like) several of miles paced back and forth between the flower beds.

Got needles? Leaves? I'm your gal.
Sunday arrived with a mere 10 miles on the plan. I set the alarm for 5:20 (for our tentative 6:00) meet-up, but woke up a good hour early (wouldn't you know?). Halleluah, those 10 miles went oh-so-quick! Isn't it amazing how easy a 10-miler feels when you have spent the past several weeks running much farther?

This week clocked in with a total of 29 miles in the running shoes (and a bonus day of rest and recovery...thanks, Coach Suz!!). Yes, this taper feels oh-so-sweet!

In other news...

It's with a great deal of pride that we celebrated Veteran's Day. My husband, my father, and my late father-in-law all served our country. We owe our vets a great deal more than just a simple "thanks."

with my favorite Lt. Colonel
Oh my gosh! My Iowa Hawks pulled of a last-second field goal and beat #3-ranked Michigan! Holy cow! What a bright spot to their challenging season!

Hawkeye proud!
Yes, I voted.

And, despite my lack of political rhetoric, I tried to make light of the past 18-months of name-calling campaign ugliness.

How was you week? Any races coming up? Are there any vets in your circle of friends and family?

As usual, I'm linking with the lovely ladies, Holly and Tricia for the Weekly Wrap. Do head over, check out their awesome blogs, and see what everyone else has been up to!