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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Week 2: June 20-26

This week's sky shot from Monday.

Happy Sunday! I'm linking up with Hoho Runs and MissSippiPiddlin for another weekly review. I'm training for the Autumn Blast Half in October using the Hanson's Half Marathon plan (read more here). 

Week of June 20-26 
Monday: 4 miles (Find Me Where the Wild Things Are run) + walk to work
Tuesday: rest + walk to work
Wednesday: 4 miles (speed work: 1 mi, 4 x 800, 1 mi)
Thursday: 3 miles
Friday: 1 mile + walk to work and around Comfest (~3 miles)
Saturday: 4 miles with group
Sunday: rest + gardening

Total Miles: 16.3 miles
2016 Total: 493.2 miles

Before the race - we're to the left of the stroller
My active days of the week are ramping up!

Monday was originally an off day, but we signed up for the Find Me Where the Wild Things Are 4 Miler to celebrate the summer solstice. It was too hot and humid to race (87 degrees at 8:30pm), plus it was super casual, but I finished strong even after stopping to take photos! I was the first place lady for 2.5 miles, but we were asked to wear the cotton race shirt for photos and I had to stop and take it off to run in my sports bra due to overheating. I never run in only a sports bra, so you know it was scorching hot! I probably won't write an official recap since it was laid back, but it was such a good time. Official stats: 12 of 104 overall and 5 of 77 females (Alex finished second.)

Tuesday was a rest day, but I still walked to work. I've been walking to work since spring. It's been a fantastic start and end to my day. Tuesday was some yoga holiday, so I pulled out my new Hit Reset book and did a few moves. And by a few I literally mean three moves. I won't pretend I'm a yogi.

Speed work (photo by Fleet Feet Columbus)
Wednesday I went to group speed work. It's tough and I kind of hate it during, but I feel accomplished after. This week was a 1 mile warm up to the track, 4 x 800 (3:55 target), and a mile cool down back to the running store. We used the outside lanes, which means I ran a bit farther than 800m and nailed every set with these times: 3:58, 3:58, 3:57, 4:00. It was a great after last week's struggle with 5x1000m, but I'm thankful we only had 4 sets. I was dead. I'm also thankful it was *only* 75 degrees with 65% humidity... and the wind was blowing.

Along the river.

Thursday was my first solo run since June 3! Races and group runs have dominated my schedule and it felt good to get out on my own. I ran along the Scioto River and stopped a few times to take photos of the flooded river (we had heavy rains Wednesday night). It was very hot, but I held a steady pace. I actually went too fast. According to my plan, easy runs should be over 10:00 min/mi and I ran this at 9:10. I need to work on my easy pace because easy days will be essential to staying injury-free!

Found this shirt for $5 at Comfest. Score!
I ran Friday, but woke up too late to get in more than 1 mile! I walked a few miles to work and around Comfest (Community Festival, an annual Columbus tradition) so I didn't feel bad.

Saturday was another training group run. I was tempted to run 8 miles with the full marathoners, but knew I needed to stick to my plan. It worked out for the best because by the end of 4 miles my legs were tired. Maybe it was all the walking on Friday. On Saturday night I went to a (tame) bachelorette party. We started with dinner, went out for dessert, and got a few drinks. I was home by midnight and able to follow the end of the Western States (100 Mile) Endurance Run.

Sunday was ridiculously hot and my right eye was bugging me (which means I couldn't wear my contacts) so I decided to skip my Sunday run. I went over my milages for the week with Monday's race, so it didn't matter. Instead, I did some gardening in the 97 degree heat and sweat everywhere. Blargh. I also had time to do housework, make a slow cooker taco filling, and (finally!) choose a 4th of July 5k. This will be our first 4th of July race since I started running! My first "real" 5k (with training) was on the July 4, 2012 and I was totally bummed when it took me over 30 minutes.

Are you participating in a 4th of July race?
Should I get the Pro Compression stars and stripes socks...? 
Did you follow the Western States 100? (This was my first time.)

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Week 1: June 13-19 Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes

This week's sky shot from Saturday morning.

Happy Sunday! I'm linking up with Hoho Runs and MissSippiPiddlin for another weekly review. I'm training for an October half marathon using the Hanson's Half Marathon plan (you can read more about it here). 

Week of June 13-19
Monday: off + walk to work
Tuesday: off + walk to work
Wednesday: speed work - warm up, 5x1000m, cool down + walk to work
Thursday: rest + walk to work
Friday: rest + walk to work
Saturday: 3 miles
Sunday: rest

Total Miles: 8 mi
2016 Total: 476.9 mi

Hanson's plans start on Thursdays with an easy build up over the first four weeks, so I filled my free time with home organization and cooking. The theme of my week: changes (to the plan). I had three planned group runs between Wednesday and Monday (6/15–6/20) and modified my plan accordingly.

Speed work (photo by Fleet Feet Columbus)
Trapped in my car

I swapped the first Thursday workout for Wednesday group speed work. It was very hot and humid with a threat of thunderstorms. I tried to hydrate all day, but when we got going I knew I'd be sluggish. We ran ~1 mile warm up, 5 x 1000m laps (around a fantastic neighborhood) at tempo (8:44-8:50ish), and ~1 mile cool down. It was tough for me to keep speed, but I finished. Not a confidence booster and I'm hoping I can adjust to the heat and get my speed back, but it was good to get out there and get it done!

Speaking of weather, it began to sprinkle during the final lap and poured during the cool down run back to our cars. I have never run in that much rain. So fun, but I was soaked by the time I got back to my car. The rain (and hail!) was so intense I had to wait in my car for 20 minutes and take back roads when I finally left.

Saturday was my normal group run and a second modification: 3 miles instead of 4. The half marathoners ran 3 and I was tempted to join the fulls for 7 but my left ankle started to hurt. I have new shoes and bragged all week about not needing my normal Superfeet insoles, so Saturday's run was a possible wake up call. I wrapped my ankle and it's already feeling much better. I also had a visitor all day, made a tasty soup, and put together a huge pile for Goodwill while we chatted. Very productive day!

Saturday's yummy chicken, potato, corn, and bean soup.

Sunday should have been 4, but Alex and I have a fun run tomorrow night (Monday) to celebrate the longest day of the year. We'll be running 4 miles around downtown Columbus, followed by beer and modeling free t-shirts! The run was $20 and put on by the parent company of the Brokeman's Half Marathon (of which I am an ambassador). This run was set up to test their new timing equipment and to gather a large group of people to model apparel for their website. It should be a good time!

Kind of a bumbling start to a well-structured plan, but I'm flexible when it comes to moving workouts. I'm slowly getting used to the heat and humidity and social runs are a welcome distraction. I won't lie: I kind of miss snowy winter runs!

Have you ever been caught in a downpour while running? 
Do you feel guilty moving workouts? 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Week 0: June 6-12

I'm back and linking up with Hoho Runs and MissSippiPiddlin for my first weekly review of my new training cycle! I've had a few weeks to rest and relax (with some short runs for fun), but I'm ready and raring to go with a new plan. 

Goal Race: was Loveland Half Marathon, now Autumn Blast Half October 15, 2016
So this is kind of strange: I signed up for my favorite half marathon (Loveland) on December 31 and even convinced a friend to join. Prior to my spring sub-2, it was my go-to race for half PRs. Well, there was a hiccup. Loveland is undergoing a town makeover and the race has been moved 20 minutes north and renamed the "Autumn Blast Half." Same day, same time, new location. Luckily it's not any farther from the hotel and it looks like it goes along a scenic bike path (which is my favorite part of Loveland). It's hard for me to definitively set my sights on a PR so we'll see how the fall goes. I'm open to adding another race in November if I'm not burnt out.

Autumn Blast course. One BIG hill then mostly flat.

Training Plan: Hanson's Half Marathon plan... for now.
I read the Hanson's book (review coming) and I get it: put in the work, reap the rewards. It's based on cumulative muscle fatigue, which is something I've avoided because my other plans had days off or short runs after hard workouts. I did really well November - March and didn't miss more than one or two workouts (plus I had a run streak), so I know I can run 6 days a week.

The questionable detail for me is milage. Can I (/will I want to) run 40+ miles a week for 10 weeks – especially in summer heat? In a perfect world (no job, no responsibilities) I could do it. But I don't know if I want to devote an hour a day to running (plus the hour after of showering and relaxing). It may sound lame, but I know my limits and I know that I enjoy a well-rounded life. I love running, but it's just one part of my work/life/run balance. That said, I'm going to give it a go. The first few weeks are very easy and I plan to ease my way into running far 6 days a week. (Far for me.) Additionally, I plan to attend group speed work Wednesday nights, a group run on Thursdays, and my normal long group run on Saturday.

My schedule... for now.

Disclaimer: If you want to try Hanson's do not use the schedule above. I adjusted the plan to fit my group run schedule and may move my off day. Plus, I haven't picked my goal time, so there's a lot of extra data at the bottom. I know I can do 1:55:00, but I may push for 1:53:00.

If I end up hating Hanson's I'll go back to my normal training group plan but continue attending speed work. Even that small addition should make a big difference.

Have you tried a Hanson's plan? 
Are you injury prone? Would higher milage keep you away? 
What's you average weekly milage in the middle of a training cycle? (Mine's about 20-30 miles)

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Race Recap: Clear Creek Trail Run

Race photos by Greg Davis

The Clear Creek Trail Run took place Saturday, June 4 at Clear Creek Metro Park in Rockbridge, Ohio. There were two race distances: 25k and 10k. Alex and I ran the 10k. [Race information]

When Rocks and Roots Trail Runners Association posted a photo of the CCTR swag mug on Facebook I fell in love. I'm a sucker for great design, nature, and (short) trail races. Alex was sold immediately. After he won Iron Furnace he was pretty pumped and declared his intention to win the Clear Creek 10k. Because of his declaration - plus the fact that I ran a half the week before and this was technically my rest week - I considered this "Alex's race."

Alex's goal was to win and my goal was to have fun and enjoy the scenery.

Pre Race
Packet pickup started at 7am and we had an hour drive, so we woke up around 5:15 to get dressed and eat. We considered camping the night before, but there weren't any campgrounds nearby. (Clear Creek is part of the Columbus Metro Park system and only the newest parks allow camping.) When we arrived just after 7 the rangers were parking cars close together and we got a decent spot. We had about an hour and a half to kill before our run, but the time went by pretty quickly. The bathrooms were nice and the race registration was set up under a covered pavilion. It was super humid (95%) and warm (68-70), but overcast. Luckily, it sprinkled a bit as we waited to start. There was a short, chilly downpour after the 25k runners set off at 8, but by the time we were running the rain had stopped.

We set off right at 8:30. I lined up somewhere in the middle and stuck with two other girls who were running a decent pace, but would stop and walk the hills. I noticed most people were walking the hills near me so I figured why not? I wasn't there to win!

Walking a hill before mile 1. Race photos by Greg Davis
Somewhere around mile 1 I got a little bored, so I passed the ladies and kept my eye on a guy in red up ahead. I don't like feeling lost during trail runs, so I always try to keep someone in my sights. Meanwhile, there was a guy in blue who would walk uphill and sprint downhills. We bunny hopped one another at least 6 times throughout the race. Man, he had some serious speed on downhills! (I ended up beating him in the end.)

Looking dorky. Photo by Greg Davis 
I kept my eye on red shirt and knew the turnaround/aid station was at mile 3. Red shirt and the folks ahead of him walked uphills, so I walked uphills. There were some pretty steep climbs that I tried to power hike. At mile 2.38 Alex was coming back towards us. He was winning! We said hi and stuff and I was happy to see him during a part where I was actually running. I'd passed about 5 or 6 people at this point and red shirt guy was still up ahead. There was an intense hill from 2.8 to the aid station that I couldn't even power hike. (Strava says it was between 11-22% grade.) On this hill we saw most of the leaders and I knew I was somewhere in the top 10 for ladies. Alex was ahead by at least five minutes!

The middle 3 miles were out and back.

I stopped at the turnaround for a minute or two to catch my breath, eat my gel, and drink water. Red shirt also stopped. The aid station provided water, Tailwind, and homemade energy balls (they shared the ingredients list beforehand which was a nice gesture). I chatted with the race director for a bit and decided I'd better head back out. For some reason I stopped my watch at the aid station and forgot to start it back up until I was one or two tenths down the trail. Whoops.

Anyway! I kept following red shirt and the fast downhill blue guy. When they walked, I walked. When they ran, I ran. I felt like I probably could have run more, but there were some intense uphills that I couldn't even power hike. Mile 4 had a crazy hill that just would not quit. In my tired state I tried to remember that famous quote about all forward motion being progress ... or something. (Do you know what I'm talking about?)

We hit a gravel road around 4.5 and I talked to red shirt for a bit about the weather and the hills and then I passed him. I wasn't wild about being out in front with no one to guide me, but I figured the trail would be well marked. Mile 5 brought us to a new trail around the lake. It was a very steep downhill and I tripped on a root, but didn't fall. Phew! Blue shirt the power downhiller passed me, but I got him later on an uphill.

I hiked a lot of uphills, but again, everyone near me did. Over the next mile I picked off two guys and kept another woman in my sights. I was pretty exhausted from the hills, but I was having a really great time. I think if my legs weren't a little tired from last week's half marathon and if I were feeling a bit more competitive I probably could have passed about three more people in the final mile. Regardless, I was soooo ready to be done and happy to see the finish. I picked up my pace and ran in to a very supportive cheering crowd.

Coming into the finish. Photo by Greg Davis
Stats and Thoughts
I would run this race again in a heartbeat. It was tough with the 1,100+ ft elevation gain, but it was beautiful and fun, with a great collection of runners of all skill levels. I'd like to try the trail again with some hill training and on fresh legs. I'm happy I ran this for fun, but it was cool to see how well I ended up doing in the overall placement.

The swag was pretty awesome, too: a tote bag, sturdy coffee mug, whole bean coffee, and some coupons for free distillery tours and yoga classes. We also bought a sweet race shirt and Alex's first place finished earned him an awesome wooden plaque. We need a place to display his multiple awards! (And my single award ha)

Final Time: 1:30:07
Final Distance: 6.5 miles
Overall: 18 / 48 (37%)
Gender: 7 / 29 (24%)
Age Group: 1 / 5 (I'll take it!)

Up next: I need to sign up for some (short) summer races. I really wanted to run the Scioto 10 Miler, but it was cancelled due to logistics. :'( 

Friday, June 03, 2016

Race Recap: Medina Half Marathon

Happy weekend everyone! I'm going to use this week's Fitness-themed Friday Five with Mar, Courtney, and Cynthia to recap my latest race.

The Medina Half Marathon took place Saturday, May 28 at 6:45 am in Medina, Ohio. I ran Medina last year, told myself it was a one and done (too many turns! too many hills!), but at the end of March I signed up to run it again. The course is tough, but there is something about the cute town square and great crowd support that made it impossible for me to stay away.

Swag on the hotel bed. I love the shirt.
Expo + Pre Race
The expo went from noon - 7pm Friday. I really wish it went a pinch longer, because it's a 2 hour drive from Columbus and even with Alex getting home at 4:30, we had to rush to get there.  I've mentioned it before but I don't really care for expos. I suppose if I can find an amazing deal or get a bunch of freebies I'm excited, but I don't enjoy making small talk about something I know I won't buy. This wasn't a huge expo, but it was pretty impressive since Medina is a small-ish race. Best part: the volunteers. They were all so friendly and helpful.

(This was actually taken after the race.)
Alex and I headed to Chipotle after the expo, then to our hotel to relax. We watched TV as I debated my outfit for the next day. It was going to be a scorcher! Sometime around 10 I got into bed, read, and fell asleep. I slept pretty well until my 5:05am wakeup.

We arrived and parked in the free garage around 6:10. (Parking is a breeze for this race.) I used a porta potty, then we walked across the town square so I could use the indoor public bathroom. The lines for both bathroom areas were very reasonable and moved quickly. Around 6:35 announcements were made to line up. I said goodbye to Alex, started my podcast (Running on Om), and lined up near the 2:10 pacers.

My goal was to finish faster than last year (2:18). In the back of my mind I really wanted something under 2:15... and I knew if I didn't walk I could easily run a 2:10. Even though I'm not in peak shape (no way I could sub-2 on this course!), my baseline fitness is better than last year. Unfortunately, it was 68 degrees with 89% humidity at the start (76 degrees and 76% humidity at the end). So, weather + hills = a tough race

Course map: Really, the worst thing is all of the turning
The Race
After the national anthem and announcements I couldn't hear, we were off! I maintained an even pace, but got ahead of the 2:10 group. I knew it wouldn't be sustainable in the later hills, but I figured I'd make up time at the start. These first few miles only felt difficult because of the heat. I tried to drink my water every half mile and keep moving and we wound our way through a few neighborhoods. We didn't encounter full sun until the first hill around mile 3. Phew, it was hot.
Miles 1-4: 9:23, 9:32, 9:32, 9:28

Mile 5 was part asphalt and part gravel as we turned off the road to head towards Lake Medina. The lake is beautiful and this part of the course was different than last year. Instead of running out to the road we cut across some grass and ran on a lower path. This switchback/lower trail had a teeny tiny bit of shade, so I tried to hug the right side to stay out of the sun. At 6.2 we crossed a timing mat and came up to a water stop and gel station. I decided to walk and eat my gel. I walked! Already! This is where they took out the steep "big hill," but turns out they just replaced it with a long big hill. We were in full sun and so many people were walking already.

I walked again at 7 and without the excuse of eating my gel I knew it was a bad sign. I texted Alex "7. walking. dying." I realized I was starting to get dehydrated so I drank more water, then began running. The 2:10 pacers caught me around mile 8. I ran with them for a bit, but lost them.
Miles 5-8: 10:06, 9:49, 10:48, 10:43

Because I'm just going to moan about the heat, here's a rundown of things from mile 9–12:
  • At every water stop I took a cup of water and poured it over my head. I also drank Gatorade. I think this helped me stay alive! 
  • I went through every sprinkler or hose offered.
  • At 11 I texted Alex: "11. walking. I have to pee. Dry lips. I'm salty." 
  • Did I mention how hot it was? 
  • And that we were in full sun for a majority of the second half? 
  • Everyone around me took short walk breaks. That made me feel better. 
  • At 11 I looked at my watch and realized even if I walked most of the final two miles I would beat 2:18.
  • I'd probably be embarrassed about all the walking if I didn't have my sub-2 earlier in the spring. Like, "Guys I promise I can run a whole 13.1!"
Mile 12 was a great downhill until just before the finish. You basically turn the last corner and see a giant hill (really only 30ft) with the finish line looming above. I knew to expect it, but I forgot how difficult it was to keep running as I climbed to the finish. Fortunately, it's lined with tons of people (and the race photographers) so I did what I could to keep trotting to the finish. I sped up a little, but my pace just barely made it into the 8s when I crossed the line. They announced my name as I came into the chute. That was nice!
Miles 9-end: 11:17 (!), 10:49, 11:02, 12:17 (!), 9:54

My first race photo purchase ever! ($8 each)

Post Race
I collected my bee-utiful medal and met a Oiselle teammate. I was kind of brain dead, but she (Chelsea) was so nice! I grabbed my bag full of post-race food, then found Alex, and walked over to a shady bench and sat my butt down. We talked to an older dude for a while about the difficult weather and our love for Medina despite the difficult weather and course. After drinking my chocolate milk, toweling off, and changing into flip flops, Alex and I walked over to the beer and pizza after party. There were two shandy options and I have to admit even though I like beer, I don't really like it after a long run, but the grapefruit shandy hit the spot!

After party for a good cause! (Stand Up for Downs)
Stats and Thoughts
Yeah, it's a tough course for me and I definitely needed hill training. And sure, the weather was challenging. But whatever. I had a relatively good time and I'm proud that I cut 4 minutes off last year without much prep! I'm definitely in better shape overall and I think if I wasn't so burnt out on running in the weeks leading up to Medina I would have finished under 2:10. Dare I sign up for next year's race...?

Final Time: 2:13:58
Overall: 418/789 (53%) 
Gender: 196/439 (45%)
Age Group: 43/75 (57%) (grrrrr)

The medals are amazing. 2015 and 2016.

Up Next: Alex's goal race: the Clear Creek 10k trail run tomorrow.  I have no idea what to expect because there isn't an elevation chart. Luckily, I don't really care about my finish time or overall placement. I'm in it for the sweet fox shirt.

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