Vermont City Marathon: Training Week #1

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Vermont City Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find and write race reviews!

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It’s here, it’s here! Marathon training has begun. I can honestly tell you that I was excited to see a tempo run as my first workout of the plan (and also told my coach to remind me of that further on in training). But that workout didn’t happen. And neither did my mid-week easy run or my yoga class or my weekend long run.

When I got sick over the weekend, I messaged my coach asking when to do certain workouts based on my symptoms. And the short answer was: Use your energy to get better. And it was definitely the right decision as I battle whatever cold/flu combo sickness that has knocked me on my ass.

That said, I am committed to seeing through these 20 weeks of training — despite conditions seemingly conspiring against it (yep, treadmill is still broken despite them sending a new replacement motherboard). I intend to train hard though and do what I need to do to complete my workouts when I am fully capable to do them. This week, unfortunately, was not that week.

iowa run blogger winter running buff

Winter Warrior!

Week #1 of Training looked like this on paper:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Tempo Interval Run
Wednesday: Easy Run + Strength
Thursday: Yoga Roots at LifeTime
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Long Run with Capital Striders
Sunday: Recovery Run + Core

Skipping to the weekend, I was finally well enough get through an at-home Strength routine on Saturday and an easy run on Sunday (before this giant ice storm came through, thankfully).

Iowa runner 180s tights winter running blog

Warmest winter running tights.

WEEKLY RUNS: 1
WEEKLY MILES: 2.01 miles
TOTAL TRAINING MILES: 2.01 miles

Want to join me in Vermont this Memorial Day Weekend? Use discount code BibRaveDsct17 at registration to save $5!

Weekly Therapy: What day is it, even?

the week:
I’ve had one helluva week. I got really sick last weekend, but felt OK by Monday morning (despite not being able to eat for the duration of Sunday). Tuesday, I left midway through my day with major chills and fever symptoms, and then had to take Wednesday off altogether. I felt SO much better to return again Thursday and complete the week (and my annual performance review), but now I need to make up some work hours over the weekend and try not to lose a lung with these random coughing fits.

And I totally hulked out of a Banana Republic silk cardigan, splitting it from the armpit down the side.

SEE?! One helluva week.

weekend:
Try to get my marathon training started with a couple easy workouts, and thankfully an extra long weekend to get my shit together with the Monday holiday. We’ll be hunkered down and cranking up the heat in anticipation of a major ice storm expecting to hit late Sunday.

seven things, seven days:
How about 7 things I watched when I was home sick this week?
1. Magic Mike XXL
2. Days of Our Lives (lolz)
3. 3 hours of Property Brothers
4. Some kind of donut baking challenge show on the FOOD Network
5. Thelma & Louise
6. Along Came Polly
7. You Got Mail

Looking Forward to 2017 (and the Big Goal Failures of 2016)

Hooray! Marathon Training Week has arrived! I’m starting off my 20-week training cycle with a Rest Day (duh) after a few weeks off of training (two weeks off running altogether) and working a lot on strength and attending regular weekly yoga classes. This seemed like a good day to reflect more on last year’s goals, as I set off for new achievements in 2017.

A lot of things changed in 2016, including the goals that I set for running. For starters, I had no idea in setting these goals that I would be living in a different place; so by March when we made our big move to Des Moines, I knew it would take some time to not only adjust but also get back into a running grove. Strangely, I spent the early part of 2016 dealing with some weird knee pain during my runs and then another 6 months or so of a foot issue – I was convinced it was a stress fracture. Though an x-ray showed nothing… and it basically stopped bothering me after that same doctor’s appointment. WEIRDNESS. In any event… these were my 5 Goals for 2016:

Run a 2-hour half marathon
700 miles for the year
Run another full marathon
Do a Ragnar or 50k
Run in costume

WELP.

I did PR my half marathon, but I have another 12 minutes to shave off before meeting that 2-hour goal.
I ran 512.97 miles in 2016, and while an increase over the 28.18 miles I completed in 2015, it was not anywhere close to 700!
Maybe if I trained and ran that full marathon. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
There were no ultras or Ragnars for me — but I did discover trail running!
And I never had enough confidence to be in costume during a race (though I did have a lot of fun this year).

I didn’t feel like this year was one big failure though AT ALL. I really enjoyed most of my race experiences and the challenge of trail racing completed a really awesome year for me. I left 2016 feeling REALLY accomplished and ready to take on bigger challenges this year.

So what’s next?
What’s that saying: If at first you don’t succeed, try try again? I had a lot of fun getting faster this year — when a PR slaps you in the face multiple times, there’s no way to not feel a sense of accomplishment from all the hard work. This year while I’m not quite so focused on time goals, I do want to be sure that I realize my full potential.

And that’s what I plan to do: TRAIN HARD.

Oh yeah, and in 2017 I’ll find myself in a new age group and being called things, like, a Masters runner.

That said, my 2017 goals look pretty similar to 2016:

running-goals-for-2017

I have a pretty full running schedule for the year (with accompanying PTO already requested), and I’m really excited about how this year will unfold — particularly the destination races that I’m registered for. I’m running 2 marathons in 2017 (Vermont City and Chicago), so there’s a good chance of maybe possibly getting a marathon PR (Though it’s not really my focus this year, I know sometimes these things happen organically).

Chicago will be something of a training run for MY FIRST 50K. Yep, I signed up for the GOATz 50k that happens in October. Several people in my trail running circle have said it’s a great beginner 50k. Plus there is a really amazing trail running community in the Omaha area!

I’m signed up for my first Ragnar race in March — with complete strangers (well, with internet friends who I haven’t met yet IRL)! I have a lot to learn still about these races and I’m sure the experience will push me out of my comfort zone in a completely new way.

Another goal this year is to volunteer and continue supporting the running community in different ways. I intend to sign up for a race day Cheer or Aid Station to support my fellow local runners and be more involved with organizations like Girls on the Run and the Courage League. I participated in Girls on the Run this fall as a Running Buddy, and it was an incredible experience; I really want to focus on giving back even more next year.

Mileage goals? Meh. The miles will come, and I know a year with two marathons and a 50k will likely push me over the 1,000 mark in 2017. But I’m going to let all that come naturally. I was intentional with my race scheduling to allow for some down time, with plenty of recovery weeks to prevent burnout and injury.

I may or may not gain enough confidence to wear a costume in 2017, but I want to encourage those who do. I want to be surrounded by people who challenge me and who can also make me laugh and help pass the miles — because there will be a lot of them this year! I’ve already made some amazing connections being part of the BibRave community as an ambassador in 2016, and I get the opportunity to continue that partnership in 2017. Likewise, I’m already looking forward to exploring more trails with the CS Turkeys and gaining All The Knowledge about running an Ultra.

This is going to be an awesome year! But first… MARATHON TRAINING.

Weekly Therapy: “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell”

the week:
Man, was it difficult to return to work this week! I felt like I hit a wall every day around 3pm and not even espresso could help me recover.

Seeing as how we’re already a week into the new year, I’m spending some time reflecting on 2016 and the areas in which to focus this year. I also have to write my annual review (due next week, GAH!), which has always been a struggle for me — despite keeping regular notes of my successes throughout the year. I feel like my head is constantly spinning!

Does anyone else have a journal that they keep on them to “brain dump” throughout the week? Mine is mostly a giant book of to-do lists, but I feel crazy if I don’t get the running list out of my head.

weekend:
Still no working treadmill, so I need to decide if I’m bundling up for the great outdoors this weekend or making extra trips to my gym. *groan*

I’m going to love the shit out of my massage on Sunday. And maybe I’ll go to ULTA and spend my Christmas money.

seven things, seven days:
1. Visit two with my stylist this week, and she was able to correct how much red was pulling in my hair. Going back to “natural” from platinum blonde is a process and remind me of this when I want to go lighter again.
2. The Limited is closing. :(
3. Some great tips to beat the running blues… if you’ve lost your mojo. {via Mizuno Running}
4. Old habits die hard – how to really change your life in 2017, per Gretchen Rubin {via The Guardian}
5. OMG check out these old runners advertisements from ADIDAS.
6. Have an ultra on your challenge list for 2017? READ THIS >> A Century or Bust: 100-Mile Lessons
7. The Kaizen approach — and how to be 1% better every day {via Medium}

Sunday Lately for this 30-Something: 01.01.17

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Happy 2017! I took some time off from Sunday Lately posts, but I’m back and celebrating a wonderful new year with my Blogger Tribe peeps. Sunday Lately is a weekly linkup hosted by the Blogger Tribe where everyone is welcome to pop a tent and share some S’mores. Come camp with us on Facebook:

Sunday Lately with Blogger Tribe

Today’s prompt: Picking, Telling, Debating, Mixing, Humming.

Picking out all my winter running clothes, since the belt on my treadmill shit the bed this weekend. I don’t know when I’m going to be able to catch up on Empire now!

Telling off the haters who snark on all the “Resolutioners” at the gym. Be supportive, be encouraging, and dang it, be a friend to someone who is making an attempt to start on their fitness journey!

Debating on what my “word” will be this year. Last year it was “community” and the year before it was “completion.” Do I keep the C going? 😛

Mixing eggnog with coffee… anyone else try this? YUM!

The Pitbull New Years Revolution show has become a new favorite — particularly after last night’s steady stream of classic hip-hop artists. I woke up hummingJoy & Pain” by Rob Base. Side note: I was totally weirded out by how much Coolio’s voice has changed!

A Year of Running: 2016 Best/Worst Recap

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This has been a pretty full year of running! I started off the year thinking that I would be playing roller derby again (even trying out and making our A-level travel team in Pittsburgh), and then we made a fairly quick and sudden move to Iowa (less than 2 months to visit, shop houses, get job offers, and actually relocate) kind of threw havoc into all areas of my life — particularly my marathon training (I ended up not completing training for the Pittsburgh marathon).

But the year started off with some highlights and ended with some amazing experiences — with, naturally, some awful things in-between. If I’m counting correctly, I did 16 races this year. Still standing at only 1 marathon since 2015 but my half marathon tally grew to 9. Let’s reflect, shall we?

Best Mileage Month: 101.74 miles in November — my 1st 100 Mile Monthly Challenge!

Worst Mileage Month: Only 14.6 miles in June. Woof.

By the way, my total mileage for 2016 was 512.97!

New States Run in 2016: Florida, Iowa, Nebraska

Furthest Race I Traveled to — and My First Multi-Day Challenge Race: Gasparilla (Florida) [recaps here: Gasparilla Day #1 (15k and 5k) and Day #2 of the Ultra Challenge (half marathon and 8k)]

Best Race Experience: Hitchcock Experience 13.1

Worst Race Experience: Dam to Dam — I was completely and totally unprepared for this race and swore it off for my lifetime because I’ve never felt so awful. Though now that I’ve had some distance, I’m willing to eat my words and run it again.

Best Run (not a Race): One that sticks out for me – when I returned to Pittsburgh over the summer. I unleashed a lot of emotions on that run; it was cathartic and bittersweet and a nice reprieve from the super humid summer.

Worst Run: UGH, basically any of my tempo long runs from the summer during my IMT Half Marathon training. I don’t think I finished any of them to plan.

Best New Piece of Running Gear: Garmin Forerunner 230

Worst Piece of Running Gear: Nathan hydration belt. It doesn’t work well on my body shape for running (wayyyyyy too much bounce and movement); though I may end up using it for hiking and trail-skating.

Best Piece of Advice I Received this Year: Though it’s spoken often in running circles to “run the mile you’re in,” this was really drilled in with my coach over the summer with focusing on the current moment and not thinking ahead. That’s something that has held me back a lot, and it’s been refreshing to just trust my body that it knows what to do and what I can handle AT THAT MOMENT.

Best Thing I Learned: Running by feel or effort level

Favorite Picture from a Race or Run this Year (TIE!):

511959_221535315_XLarge

hitchcock-experience-runner-finish-line

SO EXCITE!

New PRs: Having a PR is always a BEST when reflecting on your successes, and this year my training plans helped me get a few.
5-mile – 47:24 at Madrid Milers Labor Day Run
15k – 1:34:27 at Gasparilla
10-mile – 1:43:16 at Capital Pursuit
Half marathon – 2:12:16 at the IMT Des Moines Half Marathon

I also ran my first (of several) trail races!

Can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2017! Happy New Year, everyone!

Weekly(ish) Therapy: Happy Holidays, 30-Somethings!

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the week(s):
We celebrated an early holiday last week with a big Christmas dinner and champagne and exchanging of gifts at home. It was nice to get some time to ourselves and have fun with the cats before the chaos of traveling. I was able to visit with most of my family while I was in Ohio for a few days — and greatly enjoyed the extra PTO days.

weekend(s):
CHRISTMAS!

Have a Happy New Year — and I hope there is spiked eggnog or bottles of champagne in your immediate future. 😉

seven things, seven(ish) days:
1. My mom gave us a vintage bowl and drink glasses set to make Tom & Jerry’s. I cannot wait for future holidays to serve these!!!
2. One of our cats had to get a tooth pulled this week. She’s OK but I was a nervous wreck since she was at the vet for almost the entire day. :(
3. I never realized until this week how many animals have a sound that is similar to a woman screaming bloody murder. Plenty of youtube videos out there too, if you’re wanting to go down that rabbit hole.
4. An older article but a goodie: The Spiritual Life of the Long Distance Runner
5. Why this guy quit his job to run 59 marathons {via The Muse}
6. Willpower to achieve goals is overhyped, so say psychologists. Re: self-control: “It’s no different than any other decision making.” And looks like the ego depletion theory has been debunked. {via Vox}
7. The impact of running on the brain. NEAT! {via PsyPost}

Fall/Winter 2016 Race Season Wrap-Up

With winter officially arriving, it’s been fun to look back on my Fall and (early) Winter race seasons. While I’m taking a couple weeks off this winter (which I’m in the midst of recovery right now) — Fall was fun, just as I trained for.

Since September, I’ve completed 9 races — 4 of those half marathons and 6 with close to 100% humidity. While the extended summer temps was a bear for outdoor races, I also started trail running, culminating into my most difficult (but most awesome!) race to date. Many of these races I intend to repeat in 2017, and overall I had positive experiences at each — you know, despite all that humidity.

iowa fall races blogger

In case you missed my recaps, here’s my list:
Madrid Miler 5-Mile Race
Capital Pursuit
Heartland Half
IMT Des Moines Half Marathon
To Grandmother’s House We Go Trail 10k
Hillbilly Hike Half
Living History Farms Race
Sycamore 8 Trail Race
The Hitchcock Experience 13.1

Race Recap: Hitchcock Experience 13.1

The Hitchcock Experience‘s inaugural event created by the Greater Omaha Area Trail Runners (G.O.A.T.z) opened up last year with 50- and 100-mile distances; this year, a 13.1 distance was added. I found out about this race through the local trail running groups and knew immediately that I needed to add to my winter schedule. Hitchcock was my 9th half marathon distance, my 4th trail race and my last race of 2016.

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Flat Mel: SO MUCH GEAR!

There’s a reason that the word “experience” is in this event — it’s much more than a trail race. I experienced many moments throughout; least of which were:

Unabashed fits of joy.

One of our pre-race emails included that phrase, which is spot-on and absolutely sums up my personal experience with Hitchcock. I’ve felt many emotions during my races — particularly in completing my first marathon — but this race transformed everything that’s fun about trail running into something that deeply affected my soul. Can you find yourself in the Loess Hills? It’s quite possible that I did just that.

I knew going in that Hitchcock would be my most challenging race thus far. For starters, throw out everything you might think about Iowa: IT IS NOT FLAT.

Elevation change for the half marathon is just under 6,000 ft.

Elevation change for the half marathon is just under 6,000 ft.

Location: The Hitchcock Experience takes place entirely within the Hitchcock Nature Center — located north of Council Bluffs — and its adjoining private property. The nature center exists to develop and foster appreciation and understanding of the Loess Hills as a globally significant landform through land management, environmental education and low-impact recreation.

Registration and Cost: Because the half was capped at only 50 runners, I stayed up until midnight when registration opened up on September 2 (at exactly 12:01am). I even set an alarm to make sure that I didn’t fall asleep. The race cost $65 (+fees for online registration).

Packet Pick-Up: I had to leave work early the day before the race to pick up my bib in Omaha — which is two hours away. Packet pick-up was held at Canfield’s Sporting Goods from 2-6pm OR you could do pick up on race day at 4am (uhhhhh, no). It wasn’t obvious where the pick-up was once you entered the store (it was in the shoe section at the back), so I had to ask an employee (who didn’t understand why I was there at first either). I love that the bib is event specific, featuring an awesome nighttime picture of the course from last year’s race.

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Swag: We received a branded cinch race bag with a long-sleeved cotton shirt, extra reflective keepsake bib, Hitchcock patch and sticker, and finisher medals! (100-mile finishers under the time limit get a belt buckle, as is tradition with ultra distances.)

Weather: Having a race in December, you’re almost guaranteed SOME level of winter weather; the race started in the low 20s. But as we were running, we got SNOW!!!!! I never really felt cold though until the last 1/4 mile or so when my gloves got damp from the constant snow and chilled over; my nose was running constantly throughout the race, so I also had a frozen patch on my BUFF. It actually snowed quite a bit and was so beautiful. There was a section where it was near white out and I was catching snowflakes on my tongue like a literal crazy person. I loved it!

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Course: Not your usual out-and-back, this trail race is a 12.5-mile loop on varied terrain (alfalfa fields?!) with challenging elevation gains, and great technical difficulty. I went out a couple weekends before for a race preview run with the GOATZ, so I already knew which sections I would hate — thankfully, due to the weather, the much-cursed sandy sections and aforementioned alfalfa fields were frozen over (but severely lumpy!). There’s an addition at the beginning of the first loop for each race, and there are a few places on the course of two-way traffic.

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Oh, yeah… and most of it is run in the dark.

There was something positively magical about being in complete darkness in the middle of the woods though. At certain sections, I was entirely alone. I could see headlamps in the distance — some at much higher elevations than where I stood.

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Headlamps required!

For this race headlamps and hydration bottles/packs were required. The course was marked extremely well and had reflective orange flags, plenty of colored signs with arrows and/or ground markings to aid in course direction. Even in the dark, I could always see where the next trail marker was. The two-way traffic areas were also marked well, but I had a few moments wondering if I was moving in the right direction.

When the sun rose, I was in a rolling section of the trails in the woods and any description I attempt to use just underestimates the incredible experience. Powerful.

Start Line: Speaking of the dark, start time for the Hitchcock half distance was 5am (!!!). We got to share the start line with the 100-milers in the morning; the 50-milers started at 9pm (so everyone runs in the dark at some point). Oh, and the news was there to broadcast all the crazy! While there were time limits for the 50 and 100 runners, there was only a “just finish” for half marathoners (the last finisher came in just shy of 8 hours).

Aid Stations: An integral part of ultra races is the aid station; there were three stations per loop, and we were all required to check in at each. I used the stops for a quick fuel break; at the Oasis I was strangely craving hot coffee (perhaps because of how early it was?) and had that. Aid stations had a bunch of food and drink options, including: water, Tailwind, pop, coffee, soup, peanut butter sandwiches, chips, fruits, candy and various Honey Stinger gels and waffles.

There was also a fourth aid station located near mile 9.5 and manned by volunteers from Loess Hills Nordic Ski Patrol; they had a giant bonfire, which made it difficult not to stay longer to hang out. One of the kind gentlemen volunteers allowed me to drink from his water bottle, since my hydration pack hose froze over and there weren’t any beverage cups at this station.

Stations included:

  • The Lodge aka: Beacon of Hope/Despair (start/finish)
  • Ralph’s (the campground) at approximately 3.65 miles. Named in honor of Ralph Hohneke, who has so graciously allowed us to run on his property on race weekend.
  • The Oasis at approximately 6.75 miles
  • Loess Hills Nordic Ski Patrol near the 9.5-mile mark

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Finish Line: To add to the physical and mental torture of the event, the finish line was uphill; it was nearly impossible to run at that point, and it seemed most of the finishers around me walked that last part of the course. Good thing, because my dang shoe came untied near the final climb (and was frozen). There was a volunteer who placed the medals around our necks and a photographer who snapped several finish line photos.

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After Party: My after party consisted of a gigantic omelet at Henry’s Diner in Crescent, Iowa. After a ride back to my hotel room, a hot shower, and a glass of wine (since I wasn’t driving home), it was then a two-hour trip back home to Des Moines.

Experience: Something that I want to emphasize in this race is the amazingness of all the people — including the volunteers. Everyone involved in race day was so helpful and positively excited to have us there; fellow runners were equally as encouraging, and I loved the spirit of the two-way passes with everyone congratulating one another. By the way, the race communication for this event was The Best — I received no fewer than 3 emails following up to race day with all the info that I needed to know and their Facebook page was a great source of additional info and finishers updates.

Extra Awesome: The race directors sent out a post-event runner survey “thank you” email within a couple days, which also included official results and a link to FREE race photos, where I found this gem:

hitchcock-experience-runner-finish-line

SO EXCITE!

OVERALL
The Great: UNABASHED FITS OF JOY
The Good: Snow!
The Bad: In the last mile, I slipped going downhill and fell backwards – somehow catching myself on my right elbow and not my butt. Luckily, I did not get injured.
The Ugly: My Camelback hose froze; thankfully, a nice volunteer at the Ski Patrol let me drink from his bottle.

TL;DR: Thank you, GOATZ and thank you, Hitchcock for just an incredible event. I will remember this experience forever. I fully intend to run this again next year; though the distance is still to be determined. 😉

hitchcock-experience-finish-line-goatz

OFFICIAL RESULTS
3:16:44
29th finisher in the half
8th female finisher overall in the half — I made the Top 10 Females leaderboard!

Weekly Therapy: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

the week:
Is anyone else having a mild freakout over the fact that Christmas is less than 10 days away? Not only is it beginning to LOOK a lot like Christmas, it’s starting to feel like it with the sub-freezing temperatures and snow warnings. Since the Hitchcock half marathon last weekend (and after training for multiple races since July), I’m on a little recovery period from running — likely through Christmas. Though I’m already feeling really antsy about not running, naturally.

weekend:
NOTHING.

I mean, it will include a lot of fleece and hot chocolate and being very near a heating vent, but… with way below negative temps expected, I don’t intend to do much of anything.

seven things, seven days:
1. So there’s a company locally that puts up Christmas lights, and we hired them to decorate our house. It makes me smile with glee every time I pull into my driveway.
2. I lucked out on a one-day sale online and scored a j crew handbag at 40% off (a little xmas gift to myself).
3. Had a wonderful holiday gathering at Alba this week — an excellent restaurant in the East Village.
4. We got an invite to a special preview of the new Star Wars. I got to meet R2D2! I’ve never been to a Star Wars opening night, so that was exciting!
5. Really interesting insight into achieving what’s really important to you: The difference between goals and systems. {via James Clear}
6. When it comes to success, age is just a number. Bottom line: NEVER give up. {via NYT Science}
7. How to run 100 miles. OH, IS THAT ALL. {via Red Bulletin}