Friday, October 28, 2016

Pennypack Oktoberfest 10k Race Report

Last year, I ran the Pennypack Park Oktoberfest Half Marathon. I set a great PR in a season that led to me BQing at my goal race, won 2nd place in my age group and a beautiful handmade hygrometer, and declared that uberendurancesports and the Pennypack Park Oktoberfest race was my favorite race organizers/race of all time. Naturally, when registration opened I again signed up to run another 13.1 through beautiful fall leaves.

Then the Seattle Marathon happened the end of June and I didn't run much until the middle of July. Then I got an infant puppy and didn't sleep for a solid month, I started biking 40 miles a week back and forth to work 4 times a day, and I decided to concentrate on simply running 30 miles a week until the end of 2016 and my body acclimates to the mileage. Also, after The Summer of Burning Sun and Roasting Death, I lost all motivation to run longer than my standard run of 7 miles. Plus I've wanted to spend Saturday playing and napping with my puppy instead of running forever. And I could count on one hand the number of miles I've run in under 8 minutes since June.

So I knew I could run 13.1 miles, but I also knew that it was going to be nowhere close to my PR. I spent weeks trying to talk myself into being happy to just enjoy the fall leaves and the race atmosphere. I'm not very good, however, at tamping down my competitive tendencies. Despite knowing that I am endurance building, that I just added a LOT of unintentional cross-training into my life between the biking and the puppy-walking/playing, that I am consistently and comfortably running higher mileage per week than I ever have before, I felt like I've lost a lot of fitness. I'm not as fast as I was last spring. It's been ages since I've done a sprint workout. I already skipped the Philadelphia Rock n Roll Half Marathon I was signed up for earlier this fall. As the Pennypack Park race got closer, the more I waffled about simply not starting.

Then, the Wednesday before, I got an email saying that it was my last chance to drop down to the 10k! Aroo? They added a 10k option this year! It was perfect. The last time I raced a 10k was in the Bolder Boulder when I was 13. I ran a 9:xx mile in that race, and it felt like a monumental effort. My 10k "PR" was set last year around this time on a treadmill (45:48). As the race got closer I still waffled. I didn't feel fast and I really had no idea what time I should be aiming for or what I was capable of. My boyfriend, being the wonderful boyfriend he is, said that I was running, and that he and Zucchini (the wonderful puppy) would come along and cheer me on.

The entire drive to the race, we both whined that we wished we were back in bed. About a half mile from the parking lot, I realized I forgot my watch. I laughed and shrugged and finally surrendered to the idea that I would really be running on effort, not pace.

The delightfully Bavarian man announcing the start told us that since this was the first year of the 10k, the winner would set a course record, and win a handmade Black Forest German cuckoo clock. Le most excellent boyfriend told me to win. Sure honey.

We started and I ran off with people, happy to be frolicking in the chilly fall air. I stretched my legs a little but kept my breathing even. I passed quite a few people in the very beginning and then steadily passed more as time progressed. Without knowing what pace I was running or how many tenths of miles had passed, I had nothing to obsess over except the people around me. So I began targeting people in front of me and picking them off. Eventually, I saw a group of two men and two women far in front of me. Slowly, I got closer. Around Mile 2, I caught up to them and settled in behind them. At first, I struggled a little to stay with them. But then, as the hills became more rolling I began to leapfrog one woman on the uphills and the other on the down. Just before Mile 3, I charged down a downhill and left them for good. I ran along, slightly disappointed I had lost my motivating group to chase. I assumed the leaders were far ahead of me.

After another half mile or so (unsure of the exact distance), I reached the turnaround for the 10k. I leapt about a bit and asked for a high five. The gentleman serving as the cone to run around laughed, gave me a high five, and shouted that I was first woman. FIRST WOMAN?! "Get out of town!" I exclaimed, channeling a heretofore unknown part of me that is a genteel 70-year-old.

Suddenly, it was extremely important how far behind the other women were. I ran by the second place woman in bright orange arm warmers very soon after the turnaround. She couldn't have been more than a tenth of a mile or so back. And just like that, I was running scared. My legs picked up and my eyes focused. No more enjoying the pretty leaves. I wanted that damn cuckoo clock. It was mine. I powered up the rolling hills and spread my arms wide to tumble down the downhills as fast as I could. For the first time since Seattle, I was pushing and feeling serious pain and enjoying it. Plus, I was wearing my Seattle Marathon tech shirt, which felt a little bit like I was sticking it to the race. Watch me destroy this 10k, you stupid Seattle Marathon. I am going to win a goddamn cuckoo clock.

Every couple of minutes I turned around to look for bright orange arm warmers. They slowly faded into the distance. The last mile I couldn't feel my legs, but I loved it. I sprinted across the finish line with the biggest smile I have worn probably in any race I've ever run. Incidentally, I finished in 44:38, beating my "PR" that I set on a treadmill last year and setting my official 10k PR. I also hold the course record!! I'm sure it will blown out of the water as soon as anyone even a little fast shows up, but for a whole year it's mine.

Here is my beautiful cuckoo clock.
Zucchini (the puppy) is very suspicious of Cuckoo. Occasionally she gives it a little growl to keep it in its place.

Running for place not pace is fun. I love this race. I love the organizers. I love the Bavarian music and the bratwurst served afterwards. The pure joy exhibited by the people who run this race and the people who organize it is unmatched by any other event I've participated in. I will be back next year. Love you, UberEnduranceSports.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

No Boston For Me

No Boston for me in 2017. But that's ok! I missed the cutoff by 1 minute and 6 seconds. That doesn't take away my BQ. And honestly, I'm happy I don't have to train for a marathon through the winter this year. It will be way more fun when my doggie is old enough to run with me!

So the plan going forward is: stay at 30 miles per week through the end of 2016 and get very comfortable with the training volume. Slowly increase my speed and add in Fartlek workouts until I can comfortably do 5-6 mile tempo runs at my goal marathon and half marathon paces. Up my mileage to 35 mpw the beginning of 2017, and then to 40 at some point in the spring when I feel ready. Run some half marathons, 5ks, and 10 milers in the spring. At some point I should probably start doing long runs again.

Start training for the Philadelphia Marathon 2017 in the summer of 2017. Run it in 3:20:00. Qualify for Boston, run Boston in 3:13:00 2019 and qualify for NYC. Run NYC. Achieve maximum cuteness while running with le pup.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Seattle Rock n Roll Marathon: The Long Overdue Race Report, Kinda

Soooo last time we talked I was thrilled to be tapering and was so tired I fell down on the sidewalk while running. Literally. There has been a noticeable lack of a race report from the June 18 Seattle Rock n Roll Marathon. In summary, I achieved Goal D: pssssht, whatever.

Essentially, my legs felt tired from the get-go but I was 45 seconds ahead of pace until Mile 20, at which point I felt like I couldn't breathe and had to walk. Medical tent at Mile 23 said I was good to go, so I jogged it in for a 3:42:02, almost 20 minutes slower than my A Goal. I genuinely feel as though I ran until I couldn't anymore. I stopped because I was worried about hurting myself (it felt like something was sitting on my chest), not because I was hurting and didn't want to.

I cried a few good tears at the finish line, then put it behind me and went on vacation! The rest of the summer has been spent doing other joyful things like moving into a beautiful apartment with le Awesome Boyfriend, and getting a puppy!!! Her name is Zucchini, she's a border collie, and she's going to run with me when she grows up!

I love her SO MUCH.

I started running again after the 4th of July and have slowly built up to 30 miles a week. Living back in the city and going home every day at lunch to take care of my little smoosh (Zucchini) also means I'm biking about 40 easy miles per week.

The last exciting thing that's happening Boston Marathon sign up! From the Philly Marathon last November, I have a buffer of 1:03 (3:33:57) under my qualifying time. Up until this month, I thought that wouldn't be enough to get in, and after Seattle I thought I wouldn't be running Boston 2017. But it's looking like I might get IN?! I will find out next week!

I've spent a fair bit of time thinking about what went wrong in Seattle. Did I hit the wall? I've never felt that awful when running before, and it was a vastly different experience from my first two marathons. I've settled on three explanations: 1. I was allergic to something in Seattle. I was having trouble with allergies all the week before and got even more sneezy when I landed on the West Coast. 2. I should've worn shorts instead of capris. I think I overheated and didn't notice. 3. I think I was severely, extremely, extensively over-trained and under-recovered. I ran an average of 24 miles per week for my first marathon, 27 for the second, and then jumped to 36 for the third and ramped up from running about 15 to 36 a week in the space of about a month (I essentially took December off then started back in around Christmas). As evidenced my last post from June, I was EXHAUSTED by the time the marathon came around. When I hit Mile 20 my legs just had nothing left to give and the rest of my body couldn't carry me by itself.

So, what have we leaaaaaarrned? Absolutely nothing! Well, maybe a little something: build mileage slowly. IF I am actually running Boston, I want to do it well. If I am not, I want to run a really good marathon in the spring and qualify with a giant buffer for 2018. My plan is 30 mpw + 40 mpw biking through the end of October, 35 mpw + 40 mpw biking in November, then 40 mpw + 40 mpw biking for the entirety of marathon training except for three spaced out peak weeks of 45 mpw running + 40 mpw biking. I'm not running anything faster than 'easy' pace until the end of September. I'm excited to see it goes!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Taper Tired?

Today I sat on the sidewalk and stared at my hands during my run. It was accidental. Well, the staring at my hands was not. Let me back up.

I'm tired. Really really tired. If it's possible to feel glycogen levels in your muscles, then I'm positive I'm feeling severe glycogen depletion. There is no pep in my step, no twinkle in my eye. My body isn't really sore so much as exhausted and noodle-like. Thank God for taper. However, this is Taper Week One of Three, which means that my mileage is 70% of peak, which means that my run yesterday and today were slightly easier than they normally are, but not exactly (or literally, haha puns get it?) a walk in the park. Taper Week Two of Three is when I start to feel good, after I've recovered from my last 20-miler (from this past Saturday) and after I've had a weekend with only a 10-mile easy-paced "long" run. But this, as I've mentioned, is Taper Week One.

This morning I tripped on my walk to work. I've tripped a fair amount in the last few days, leading me to believe, had I no other evidence, that I'm tired in my muscles groups, and that I'm dragging my feet. On Wednesdays, I normally run 7 miles, with 6.25 of those miles doing hills on the BF Bridge. Today, I was scheduled to do 6 miles, with only 3 miles of hills. So I took a route I don't normally take to the bridge to add some flat mileage.

As I was running along, I came to an area of sidewalk with some light construction signage. There were small black sandbags holding down the signs. I ran around a couple of women walking on the sidewalk, putting me close to the signs. I saw the black bags, thought very distinctly "don't trip", put one foot over, made a weak attempt to sufficiently pick up my back foot, failed, tripped dramatically, and fell all the way to the ground, catching myself with hands.

My legs folded gracefully into a cross-legged seated position beneath me and I looked at my hands thinking "huh". I was all set to continue sitting there and trying to sort out what happened and why, but the women I just passed came up and asked if I was okay. I replied in the affirmative and one of them (nice lady) gave me a hand up. She assured me that she's done the same on multiple occasions, saying that adult running is hazardous. Indeed, nice lady, it is.

It only occurred to me later that a) She thought I was embarrassed? I was not in any way embarrassed, more perplexed and amused. I have no shame, and I am not ashamed of that. b) This is the first time I have literally fallen down while running, and if it's happened to her multiple times, that is concerning. Nevertheless, they were very sweet and I appreciated the helping hand and kind words.

Tomorrow is a rest day and all my runs thereafter until the race are to be flat and easy-paced. I'm excited to get back to badass ninja-wind level, instead of flaily light breeze.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016


I'm so super excited about this! I ran 20 hilly miles on asphalt and single-track trail last Saturday, and while it felt exhausting on my already exhausted legs, it didn't feel painful. And I practiced leaning in to the hills and pushing when I wanted to back off. I feel ready.

As has happened at the end of the training cycles of the last two marathons, I feel happy and thrilled that I completed my training plans, regardless of how the marathon turns out.

Of course, I still care quite a lot what happens in the race.

A Goal: 3:25:00
B Goal: 3:30:00
C Goal: PR- faster than 3:33:57 and give myself more breathing room for getting into Boston
D Goal: pssshht, whatever

My excitement for this race is compounded by the fact that it kicks off a 10 day vacation from work and a thrilling adventure with my friend who lives in Washington. So hooray!

So far the taper this time already feels much less painful and useful than last time. I think I peaked my training at the right time, and cross my fingers knock on wood I don't get sick the week before the race again.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Chester County Half Marathon Race Report

I had lofty goals but low expectations for this race. I wanted to run a 1:37:52 (7:27/mile), because that time projects out to a 3:25:00 marathon. I wanted to run a very fast race so that I got in a long run at better than goal marathon pace. I wanted to destroy the hills that this race is known for.

This was going to be difficult because I am in the middle of the four toughest/peak weeks of marathon training. I ran 20 last Saturday, and a total of 23 Sunday-Wednesday. I took Thursday, Friday, and Saturday off from running, but that was it in terms of rest or taper.

Then, I got a nasty head cold on Monday. I didn't want to sacrifice my rest later in the week, so I ran through it. I felt alive by Sunday morning, but far from 100%. Also, I participated in a full-day furniture-moving endeavor on Saturday.

So I went into the race with lofty goals but low expectations. I promised myself I wouldn't let the outcome hurt my confidence for the marathon. I warmed up for one mile before the race and I felt okay, but not particularly energetic. Mile 1 of the race felt fine, but my legs still had a tired and loose feeling to them. I hit the mile a little ahead of pace. By Mile 2 I knew I was in trouble. I was still hitting my goal pace, and my breath was fine, but my legs felt as rubbery and worn out as they normally do after a 17 mile long run. In fact, my entire body just felt tired.

I started bargaining. Get to Mile 4 (where the monster hill began) and then you can slow down. Okay, just get to Mile 5. It did not happen. With each small and large uphill my legs became more and more sapped of energy. I tried to will them faster, but it wasn't a matter of pushing through pain or powering up the hill. In fact, as the race went on, I became less and less consciously involved with moving forward. My eyes closed and I simply stumbled forward as fast as my legs would carry me.

Apparently also stuck out my tongue.
Thanks for the free picture of my pain, ChescoHalf.

By Mile 5.5 I was having another problem. There was snot EVERYWHERE. My cold from earlier in the week resurfaced in a brilliant display of human messiness. My nose became red and raw from wiping at it, allowing me to add another point to my list of whiny complaints.

Shortly after Mile 8, I crested the monster hill and began my stumble downhill to the finish. I made up time here simply because I was too tired to check my descent. Small uphills stopped me from accelerating into a free-limb tumble.

Around mile 10 or 11 I found myself running alone. The woods opened up to farmland on either side of the road. To my right, there was a field of sheep. This is what happened:

*sheep go 'm-a-a-a-a-a'*

"Maa sheep."

*sheep go 'M-A-A-A-A'*

"MAAA sheep."

*sheep go 'MA-A-A-A-A'*



"Stupid sheep. Humph. Probably not great that I am shouting at the sheep by myself."

I finally hit Mile 12 and checked the time on my watch. It appeared that I was going to set a PR, and I just could not bring myself to care. I sprinted across the finish in 1:40:50.

I set a PR (from 1:42:22), ran the race in better than marathon goal pace (7:41 miles versus 7:49 MGP) so I got in a great, hilly, workout, and I finished. Also, it turns out I got 5th woman, and 1st in my age group. But I didn't find that out until I looked at the results later. After the race I ran 2 slow miles to get to 16 for the day and then left in a bratty, sad huff that I did not set a super-fast PR on a day that I felt sick and tired and a little over-stretched from marathon training. I have a much better attitude now.

I got in a great workout. I did really well for the conditions and my condition. Also, I never felt out of breath the entire race. The hills did not challenge me aerobically. The only problem I had was temporary leg and body weakness and exhaustion, not lack of fitness or strength. Last fall, I had a really great half marathon, and then really struggled in the marathon (my goal event). Hopefully, this time it's flipped.

There were good and bad things about the event itself:

1. It was very well-run (ahaha puns). It started on time, packet pickup was organized and convenient, parking was clear and there were frequent shuttles from parking to the start/finish, and the whole thing went without a hitch that I could see.

2. Mile markers were almost non-existent (or maybe my eyes were just closed?)

3. The course was beautiful (I think? again, mostly closed eyes), running on country through woods and fields. Lot's of birdsong/mockery.

4. The other competitors were weirdly unfriendly. I asked one girl lined up in front at the start what she was looking to run, and she crossed her arms, snapped "we'll see," and then walked off. Do I really LOOK like I'm about to steal the win from you? I mean, I WAS going to try for 7:30 miles, but now that I know you're running 6's, I guess I better step it up. Also, I was chatting with the leader of the 1:40 pace group and another guy told me there was "no way" I would hit my goal time. Turned out to be true, but shut the fuck up guy, you don't know my life. Everyone seemed very grumpy? Not the usual experience I have with fellow runners.

5. The spectators were absolutely fantastic. I love all of them. There were sooooo many for such a small race and they made so much noise! My favorite were the firemen with the fire trucks sitting and spectating. They had their sirens on the entire time and every time a runner would pass they would blow the horns. Thanks guys!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

UCP 5k Race Report

I had been very remiss in posting due to a lack of anything to say. But recently, a lot of wonderful things happened, and I didn’t post for fear that telling of them would make them spontaneously not true anymore. Superstition is a funny evolutionary relic. I won’t list it all, but suffice to say I am grateful for the times in life that feel like coming up on the pivotal moment in a feel-good sports movie. Anxious and disbelieving and hopeful and coiled into a ridiculous ball of energy ready to bounce off of everything.

Anyway. On Thursday, April 28th I ran the UCP 5k. My company sponsors the race every year and a lot of my colleagues run it. My goal was to run the race in 21:04, or 6:46 pace. That projects out to a 3:25 marathon. I thought I might be capable of that since I’ve been doing 6x800meter repeats each week at about a 6:20 pace. I ran 20 miles the Saturday before the race, but I took two days off and only ran 5 and then 2 very slow easy miles the other days. On Thursday I felt not particularly bouncy, but at least not fatigued.

Last year I got 7th place and 2nd woman from my company. I didn’t have a great day last year, and ran it in 22:34. If the same people showed up this year, I thought I could compete for 2nd or 3rd woman if I met my goal time. However, when I lined up on the start line and asked some speedy-looking ladies what they expected to run, they replied “-2:19”. Actually, they said around 18:00, but the effect was the same. I revised my goal to meeting my goal time and getting first woman from my company.

The first tenth of a mile of the race is a sloping downhill. Most of the people who show up for the race are signed up through their companies, and don’t train for races. So when the gun goes off, there is a stampede down the hill, then a petering off of pace as the course levels out. In previous years, I’ve joined the stampede, but this year I managed to hold myself back and carefully edge up to my goal pace on my Garmin. I will admit that it is very satisfying to start passing all the guys that I work with around the half mile mark, running steadily while their legs suffer from overly ambitious pacing. My Garmin predictably beeped off the first mile before the mile marker, but I forgot to look again at the actual time when I passed it. However, I felt strong. My breath came easily and while the pace felt hard, my legs were holding it well. Thoughts fleeted into my mind such as “I don’t know how much longer I can hold this”. But I kept remembering that I was only running three miles. All of my training has been so focused on distance recently that I think my brain forgot we weren’t trying to hold that pace for three hours.

The turn-around is slightly past the halfway mark. At that point, my Garmin lost itself a little. It was raining and cold, so I’m assuming it was just throwing a temper tantrum. It didn’t register mile 2 until way after the mile marker. Just before mile 2, I finally caught up to a girl I had been following the whole race. We ran together for a little bit, but she was slowing so I forged ahead. The fatigue and aerobic limit hit me very suddenly around 2.5 miles. I was feeling strong, and then suddenly I could barely breathe. I did a good job keeping the pace under 7 minutes by remembering I did suffering a lot worse this past winter. However, because my Garmin was confused, I thought I was running a lot slower than I was, and I thought there was no way I would make my goal time. Just before the hill back up to the finish, a girl blew past me. I had no motivation to step it up and try and stay with her. I absolutely could have tried harder.

I crested the hill and saw the last few yards to the finish. The race clock read 20:01. I was so shocked I almost missed a step. I pepped up and grinned so hard to the finish that my frozen face hurt. Typically I sprint to the finish line, but this time, I just bounded it in with my hands in the air. 20:14. 6:31 miles. 7th overall woman (same place as last year, ha) and 1st woman from my company.

I high-fived two runner guys that I work with, one of whom set a PR as well, and then spent the next 15 minutes babbling about how happy I was. 20:14 projects out to better than my goal marathon time! I had NO IDEA I was (am) capable of running that fast. Next year, I’m going to run it in under 20 minutes. Also next year, I’m not going to fade in the last half mile, and I will sprint it in.

I have a half-marathon this Sunday, and then two final weeks of training before The Almighty Taper for the Seattle Rock n Roll Marathon. I am so excited. I think I’m going to be ready.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Do NOT Try 100%

A little bit is okay. I forget this. I set a 5 mile PR in February that projects out to better than my marathon goal time. Then, excited by that success, I pushed hard in my next sprint workout. Then I ran marathon-pace miles in my long run. Then I pushed hard in my next tempo workout. Then I had a week of cutting down to half my miles followed by two weeks of absolutely nothing faster than 1+ minute off goal marathon pace as I recovered from the beginnings of a hamstring injury.

I feel fabulous now and training is going according to plan. But it was a good reminder to chill. Giving 100% effort all of the time is a great way to burn out, mentally or physically or both. There is a time and a place for maximum effort, and that should be the only time when I am willing to sacrifice important things for results. Races are followed by recuperation, not more forced effort.

This applies to life as well. This is another step in my endless quest to develop patience and practice strategic action instead of immediate maelstroms. I feel like I'm going to be a really functional person when I'm 60.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

That's Tough

I have a rule: I’m allowed to complain as much as I want in the winter about the weather, provided I don’t complain at all in the other three seasons. I think my complaining at this point might be outweighing my not-complaining to the point where my rule isn’t fair to other people anymore. I haven’t posted since I talked about learning to run in the cold. I have simply been putting my head down, whining, and slogging forward. I honestly do not want to. I want to curl up inside next to a fire with a book. I want to sleep when it’s dark outside.

I thought I was pretty tough. I ride galloping horses and jump scary jumps. I lead climb outside. I grin when I bleed and call it a good time. I ran a Boston-qualifying time at my last marathon with stomach cramps the whole way and still negative split. I practice Bikram Yoga in 105 degree heat once a week. I like backcountry camping. I can grit my teeth and outlast plank-holding competitions or arm-wrestling competitions with anyone that doesn’t completely overwhelm me in fitness or muscle power (Arrogant? Yes. Try me.). I started a ‘diet’ three months ago wherein I don’t eat dessert or chocolate for three weeks, followed by one week of unlimited chocolate. I can do delayed gratification.

But facing the reality of running outside in freezing cold turns me into a blubbery mass of whiny weeny-ness. I have the right equipment. I start out freezing cold, heat up to comfortable, sweat through my clothes, get cold from the sweat, and then heat up again. I wear a balaclava when it’s cold enough. I have a hat and gloves and puff jacket. I seem to always need a layer more than everyone else, even when just walking around, but I take that into account. I am not happy. Is there a point at which this ever becomes comfortable? Or is it just learning to “grin and bear it”?

This is so much worse than being hot. When I’m hot, I’m not afraid. Yes, I actually get a background buzz of fear in my brain when I feel cold. It trips some ancient awareness that survival is not guaranteed. It makes my heart beat just a little bit faster and more miserably. My muscles hurt and I can’t breathe as well.

Boohoo. I am not going to literally die. I am running in urban areas. I can duck into a store or restaurant, knock on someone’s door, catch a taxi, or flag down a passing car if I really need to.

The truth is, I am not nearly as tough as I thought I was.

I want to be tough. I want to be a ninja badass wind. Telling myself “it’s not that bad” has not worked. I get really annoyed when others say it to me. I don’t believe it when I say it. This past weekend, I abandoned that strategy. I was scheduled to run with my new running group Saturday morning at 8:30am. The predicted temperature was 16 degrees. There was no putting a nice spin on it; it was going to suck.

But I decided I was doing it anyway. And I was going to be grateful for each annoying, ouchy step. Every mile would add to my ninja-badass-wind points, and when I’m doing 20 milers in May, I can think back on how much worse things could be.

So I ran. I did not die. In fact, I was alive. Super, super, super alive. Nothing like pain to remind you that you do in fact exist.

Then I went home and watched Shalane Flanagan be tougher than a tortilla chip left in the sun for two weeks. #goals

Friday, January 15, 2016

Learning to Be A Badass

Traditionally, for me, when the temperature out of the doors got below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, I took my running in the doors to a treadmill. Over the last two years, I have gotten much better about it. My first marathon was around 48 degrees at the start, and I only wore 3/4 length capris and a long sleeve turtleneck! In 2015, the marathon was slightly colder and I wore tights, a no-sleeve shirt, and arm warmers that I discarded! (well, and a hat that I discarded and gloves that stayed with me to the bitter end)

My training for marathon #3 (let's call it m3BOOM, because I'm not cool and I know it) officially starts on February 14th. Which means that right now I am base building. And I should not be running all my runs indoors on the hamster wheel. Back in October, when I ran my first half-marathon, and I felt like a real runner, for real, for the first time, I resolved to run outside during the winter. It seemed more and more likely as my training went on that I would qualify for Boston (if you recall, I DID, but not fast enough to actually get in yet). :( Which meant, that if I'm not running outside this winter, I would have to be next winter, as the bulk of Boston training happens during the coldest-as-fudgcicle months. So I better get with it.

However. HOWEVER. Understand something. I HATE the cold. I HATE being cold. I typically spend winter shivering. I own a small space heater that I hide under my desk at work.

Suuuuuuper sneaky. Like a ninja.

I plead with le most excellent boyfriend to turn up the heat at home. I wear gloves whenever I step outside, no matter how briefly. It seems like I am always slightly to extremely colder than everyone else. I complain so much in the winter that I have made the rule no complaining about the weather in any other season whatsoever to balance it out.

 I got a lovely reprieve in December, as it was so warm out that it felt like mid-fall, not early winter. But January has hit, and Tuesday the high was a windy 26 degrees. I ran after work, in the dark, on a bridge over open water. I was genuinely scared before I left the warm lobby of the gym. Was I really capable of being enough of a badass to run in temperatures that cold? Would everything down to my bones hurt?

A friend of mine made a really good, obvious points a few weeks ago. She said that people complain about cold because they don't have the appropriate equipment. And that technology has come a long way. Well, duh. But I suppose my image of comfortable winter dress was a full-body parka circa me @6 years old in 1995. Turns out, I already own comfortable, lightweight, appropriate gear.

Like this jacket I bought two summers ago for an epic rock climbing trip to Wyoming:

Patagonia Women's Nano Puff Jacket

I love Patagonia.

And a hat:
Hehehehe grrrrrr.
It's green, which is my color.

I did the planned 5-mile run on Tuesday night and felt pretty comfortable! My face did freeze, because there was nothing covering it. Also, by the end of the run after running into the wind on the way back, my vision was beginning to malfunction and my eyes were taking a long time to refocus on near/far objects. So today I bought a balaclava.
I'm. Too sexy for my balaclava. Too sexy.
Now I can run even more like NINJA BADASS WIND!!!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Break's Over

The day after the Philadelphia Marathon, my friend and I enthusiastically signed up for the Seattle Rock n Roll Marathon in June. I delightedly made a detailed training plan over Thanksgiving and planned to slowly ease back into running over the next few weeks. My 18-week official training plan starts on February 14th, so I had some time to take a break and build back to a base.

I took the week after the marathon completely off. Then the next week I ran....twice. And the week after that...twice. And the week after that....thrice. And so it has continued. I have done much more easing than running. I have gotten my money's worth out of Netflix. Le most excellent boyfriend and I have leveled up in cuddling.

Part of my unmotivated lackadaisical attitude can be attributed to laziness and mental burnout. But part of it too is that I  haven't felt strong and rested while running since before the marathon. For once in my goddamn life I listened to my body and let it rest. I'm hoping the break will translate to a stronger, healthy, flexible self in the spring.

That being said, I ran 4 miles on the track on Friday in 7:36/mi and 4 miles today on the treadmill in 7:29/mi. I can tell my aerobic fitness and strength has declined, but for the first time in a month and a half, I felt rested and strong. My breath came steadily and I felt the urge again to push faster faster.

So, in the words of President Jed Bartlett from my favorite show The West Wing,


I have 6 weeks to build back to a 36 mile per week base. This week will be comprised of a minimum of three 4 mile runs and one 8 mile run, with an option to do more if I feel good. Time to work like a Frolic Ninja!!!