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Monday, September 26, 2016

Week 15: Nice and Easy

This week's sky shot

Welcome to another weekly review linkup with Hoho Runs and MissSippiPiddlin. Read more about my fall goal race here. 18 days!

Week of September 19–September 25
Monday: rest + walk to work (w2w)
Tuesday: 3.2 miles + w2w
Wednesday: 3.4 miles (hill repeats) + w2w
Thursday: 3.2 + w2w
Friday: rest
Saturday: 11 miles
Sunday: 5 miles

Total (Running) Miles: 26 miles
2016 Miles: 748 miles

Giant beers... and a Clif bar
Monday night was spent drinking patio beers with Alex. ;) I started my Tuesday run late, not realizing the sun sets at 7:30 (sob). My neighborhood does not have streetlights or sidewalks, so I've got to get my nighttime confidence back (and pull out all of my hi-viz gear)!

New path!
On Wednesday I left work super hungry so Alex started dinner while I walked home. His pizza took longer to make than anticipated, so we were rushing to get in a run before dark. Ugh, pizza belly and 8 x 300m hill repeats do not mix, BUT despite my terrible planning, the hill workout went very well. By the end of the week I'd increased my weekly elevation gain by 200 feet (335 vs 535)!

The only important thing to note about Thursday's run is that I tried out a new path on a busy road near my house (I am so excited for this path!!!) and ran pretty fast (9:04, 8:38, 8:09). Friday was a rest day before my long run Saturday. I have a mini dilemma: I've been running with the same 10:45 pace group for about a year and a half (really 3 years because we all moved up together from 11). I love the people, but this weekend the pace felt slow and it hurt. I think as I've been getting faster over 2016, 10:45 is a bit slower than I need for my long runs. There are only two weeks in this season, but I may need to choose a new group in the winter. Not sure what I'll do.

This is really from Saturday... New deck at Atrim Park!
On Sunday I met up with a few Central Ohio Oiselle ladies to run 5 miles before brunch. One of the women pushed the pace into the low 9s. I was able to talk and run, which kind of reaffirmed that I can run a faster pace on long runs. (Though I won't be moving to a 9 minute pace group any time soon!! It was tough on hills!) I think one of my goals for the end of 2016/early 2017 is to be able to go to a group run and not need to ask, "what pace do you guys run?"


The biggest part of my weekend was Run Fast Eat Slow. The book's been making the rounds on Instagram and since I don't really like following recipes, I decided to get it from the library. Well, I've been convinced and will buy it. I really appreciate the message of the cookbook (eat full fats!!), plus we already had a lot of the ingredients in our pantry. I made frittata muffins, Superhero muffins (worth the hype), banana chips, Recovery Quinoa Salad, and Burst Cherry Tomato Linguine with shrimp. I spent hours in the kitchen Saturday, but now I have some food for the week. If I can swing it, I'd like to make Saturday meal prep day. I'm already spending most of the day at home after my long run (and nap - ha), so why not be a tiny bit productive and have Sunday free?

Fire #1 on Saturday night
Besides cooking and running, Alex and I spent time on our patio by the fire Saturday night and then we went over to our neighbor's for more fire pit action on Sunday night. This past weekend was so relaxing I almost forgot to compile my weekly wrap-up!

What do you do differently when you run in the dark? 
How did you find your long run pace? / How do you know when to make a change?
What are some of your favorite meal prep recipes? 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Week 14: Anniversary Week + Indy Women's Half

A view at The Wilds

Happy Sunday! Welcome to another weekly review linkup with Hoho Runs and MissSippiPiddlin. Read more about my fall goal race here, plus I ran a half this week! (more below)

Week of September 12–September 18
Monday: 3 mile fun run
Tuesday: 2.1 miles
Wednesday: rest, 3.5 miles of walking at The Wilds
Thursday: 3.1 miles
Friday: rest
Saturday: Indy Women's Half Marathon (recap) + lots of walking
Sunday: 4 miles

Total (Running) Miles: 25.5 miles
2016 Miles: 722 miles

Alex and me; popcorn (w/M&Ms) and beer after; in my new vest!

This week was a whirlwind and I barely remember any of it. It started with a Monday night fun run with Fleet Feet Columbus. We started at a local theater (recently revamped) then through a nearby neighborhood with four checkpoints to stop and try on shoes and talk to company reps (Mizuno, Hoka, New Balance, and Brooks). I tried on Hoka Cliftons. I did not like them at first, but about 2 miles later they felt like clouds and I would love to give them another try! After the run we got a free beer then FF gave away prizes for social media posts. Alex and I both won reflective vests from Mizuno! We need to go to another run and NOT win prizes. I feel like we're stealing all their goodies since I won a ton in March.

View from the yurt overlook; a few animals from Wednesday

I worked from home Tuesday morning and did a quick (and hot) 2 mile run before Alex scooped me up for a surprise anniversary trip. My only instruction was to pack an overnight bag. I was intrigued and had no idea what to expect, so imagine my surprise when we arrived at The Wilds (a wildlife conservation center in Ohio with endangered species). We stayed in a yurt, which included dinner, breakfast, and on Wednesday we had our open air safari. We saw so many animals and had a fantastic tour guide and great weather! I would highly recommend checking out the park. On our way home we stopped at our favorite restaurant, then for drinks at our favorite brewery. A lovely anniversary!

I ran before work on Thursday and it was pretty uneventful. I still wasn't sure if I was going to run the half Saturday or cut back to the 5k and gun for a PR, so I treated this week as taper just in case.

Indy from our hotel rooftop pool; Oktoberfest beer

For some reason we didn't take Friday off work (mistake), so we had to hurry to Indy before the expo finished at 8pm. We made it and coincidentally downtown Indy's Oktoberfest was in full swing, so we stopped by for a beer. I tried to get to bed before 11, but didn't end up falling asleep until 12:30 or 1. I was super nervous and deep down I think I knew it wouldn't be canceled and that I'd have to run 13 miles!

At the Fish fest

Saturday was the Indy Women's Half. You can read my recap here. Despite a constant downpour, I had a ton of fun and ran one of my fastest half marathons (without intending to!). After the race we took advantage of the lovely hotel breakfast buffet, went to a local brewery, and then drove to Urbana, Ohio for the Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival. It was kind of hilarious. We didn't stay too long: just long enough for Alex to buy 2 pounds of prawns.

My Sunday companions
I sat around Sunday and did boring house stuff. Around 6pm Alex, Tobias, and I headed to a nearby path. Alex and Tobias went looking for paw paws and I intended to run 2-3 miles. My legs were heavy and it was very humid, but I felt really great. I ended up running 4 miles and probably would have kept going if the guys weren't waiting on me.

All-in-all a great week! I'm refreshed and feeling really excited about running again. I think I did the right thing scaling back my milage in July and August. The only downside this week: I did not continue to push my weekly elevation gain and only got 95ft total. This week I'll make it a priority to get back to running hills!

Have you ever been on a "safari" (domestic or African)? 
Does you local running store put on fun runs? 
Have you ever tried Hokas?
Anything new with you? 

Race Recap: Indy Women's Half

Rooftop pool! Unfortunately, it was rainy, but the view was great.
The Indy Women's Half took place September 17, 2016 at 7:30am. I tried to run this last year, but it was black flagged just after mile 3, so this was my chance to see the whole course!  

Pre Race: Distance, Weather, Oktoberfest
Because the race was stopped last year, the race director gave the 2015 participants a discount code. This summer's been a rough training cycle (humid, hot workouts and general burnout), so I wasn't sure I'd want to run the half. Last week I ran the Run Like a Girl 5k and PR'd. It was a hilly-ish course and Indy is flat so I considered switching to the 5k to chase another PR.

Expo swag!
I followed the weather and Saturday was looking pretty miserable. Low 70s, high humidity, and an 80%+ chance of storms had me fearing another mid-race cancellation, so the 5k seemed like a good strategy. I could probably finish it before lightning struck. But when I looked into it, they were going to charge me $15 to switch! What?! I've never heard of charging to downgrade your distance. I know it was only $15, but it was the principle of spending more money that kept me in the half! Plus, I kept thinking the race would get stopped for weather...

For some reason Alex and I didn't take Friday off work (mistake), so we had to haul our butts to Indy before the expo finished at 8pm. We made it by 7:20 and Alex checked into the (race) hotel while I grabbed my race goodies. Coincidentally, downtown Indy's Oktoberfest was in full swing, so we stopped by for a beer from Sun King and I saw the only other Columbus runner I knew participating in the race! We chatted for awhile, then Alex and I headed to Chipotle for a late dinner. We were back to the hotel around 9 and watched HGTV while I set out my race gear. I tried to get to bed before 11, but didn't end up falling asleep until 12:30 or 1. I was super nervous and deep down I think I knew the race wouldn't be stopped and that I'd have to run the full 13 miles.

Radar before the race
Pre Race + Goals
I was thankful to be in the race hotel as we were steps from the start line. The forecast still looked ominous: storms were supposed to start with the race. It was drizzling as I lined up near the 2:00 pacer. I had no idea what would happen with the weather, so I had flexible goals:
A. 2:05 to 2:10 finish if I was feeling it
B. run as a "training run" (~10:45 pace)

The Race
Before I knew it I was saying goodbye to Alex and pressing play on my podcast. My stomach was a mess leading up to the race and I truly believe it was because I knew I'd have to run 13.1 miles. I was not confident in my half-assed summer training!

I knew if I ran by feel and didn't walk I'd probably finish somewhere between 2:05 and 2:10. There wasn't a 2:05 pacer so 2:00 seemed like a good place to start. I stayed with a big group surrounding the 2:00 pacer for the first mile or two. We went slower during mile 1 (GPS was a little tough to follow downtown), which was a good thing for me (warming up), but the pacer sped up after we left downtown to get back on the 2:00 pace. I fell back slowly and can't remember when I lost sight of her. Since I didn't plan to run to run a sub 2 I wasn't upset.

Photo from IWH Facebook
I was more upset not knowing what was going to happen with the weather. It was sprinkling a bit harder now, but every time I passed a milestone from last year I'd think, "this is where I saw lightning." "There's the gazebo we stood under..." The point where we turned around last year was 3.4 miles in. When I reached that milestone I readjusted my mentality from,"when will the race be stopped?" to "ok, I have to finish this."
Miles 1-3: 9:38, 9:19, 9:15

The course
The first downpour started at 4.5 as I was eating my first gel (I ate another at 7.5. I was so hungry!). I'd been sidestepping puddles for a few miles, but it was useless. My headphones popped a bit and I wondered if I was going to lose them. Luckily, they kept working. I started passing people in this section. I love running in rain, which I think gave me an advantage as I continued to run by feel.

About a half mile before the 6.5 mile turnaround I could see some of the faster runners coming back. The 2:00 pacer was ahead of me, but by less than I anticipated. I was trucking along after the turnaround. I think it's fun to see other runners in the middle of the race, but I'm glad it wasn't for more than a mile. I find myself trying to be polite and smile and it takes up too much energy! ha! The rain was still pouring and at every water stop from 6 to the end I tried to thank the volunteers. They were drenched, but in such good spirits. I really appreciated their enthusiasm.
Miles 4-6: 9:28, 9:25, 9:13

I wanted to walk around 7, but then I figured I might as well get to 8. I got to 8 and didn't realized it til my watch said 8.2, so I figured I'd just make it to 9... and then we took a slight downhill turn near 9.5 onto a busy road. We were running against stopped traffic and I felt proud. It was another strong downpour and it was kind of awesome to run through deep puddles while everyone was sitting in their cars looking at us like we were nuts. Just before 10 we had to cross a bridge and that small elevation change, plus a strong headwind made me laugh out loud. The woman next to me (who coincidentally finished right before me) also said something funny and we had a nice moment... til we turned the corner and had to run through deep-deep-deep puddles. My shoes were soaked.
Miles 7-10: 9:10, 9:21, 9:27, 9:12

Around mile 11 I caught up with another girl in a Oiselle singlet. We were both running out of gas and decided to stick together for a while. We chatted and I found out she's from Indiana and training for the Chicago marathon. We talked about Volée, how we weren't gunning for PRs (I think she's way faster than me, by the way), and how surprised we were there wasn't any lightning. Just before mile 12 she told me to go on without her. It was such. a. struggle. I was starting to breath loudly. I only had a little over a mile to go, but it felt so far. I tried to think, "just 10 more minutes..." I wanted to walk, but I knew it would take me longer to get to the finish and I wasn't going to die if I kept running. Luckily, we ran by a water stop with encouraging volunteers. And as I got closer to the finish there were more spectators telling me the end was close.

I sped up into the finish and passed someone, but I also got passed. Oh well. When I crossed the line I was beat. I collected my medal, some water, and my goody bag (a lovely reusable backpack full of snacks). When my Oiselle team member crossed the line we got a photo and thanked one another for the motivation. Alex and I split off and found the beer tent. They had beers and mimosas for all finishers and because of the weather, and the fact that most of the field hadn't finished yet, they gave Alex a mimosa, too! ;) He and I grabbed my results printout and talked about how well I did on very little planning and sleep.
Miles 11-13.1: 9:22, 9:21, 9:12, 8:14 (final .18)

My new Oiselle friend and me at the finish line

Final Stats and Thoughts:
Running in the rain is one of my favorite things and I am so thankful there wasn't lightning. I didn't want to run 13 miles on Saturday morning, but once I realized I'd have to I changed my mindset to something more positive.

Final Time: 2:02:05 (2:01:29 at 13.1)
Overall: 158 / 946 (17%)
Age Group: 33 / 142 (23%)
Splits: 9:38, 9:19, 9:15, 9:28, 9:25, 9:13, 9:10, 9:21, 9:27, 9:12, 9:22, 9:21, 9:12, 8:14 (final .18)

I'm happy that now when I run by feel (on a flat course) I can finish close to 2:00! That's a big step forward for me. This was my second fastest 13.1 and I never felt like I was racing. I got tired, but it wasn't a struggle. I'm hopeful that my goal race (which has one giant hill) will go well next month! By the way, I would come back to Indy in a heartbeat. Wonder what the weather will be like...

The butterfly medal!
Up Next: My schedule is up in the air. I'm signed up for $10 half on October 3, but my last long training group run is October 2 and I'd rather be with them. Dare I do a double? Alex and I may run a 5k at the zoo October 9, but we haven't registered yet. If all else fails, my next race is my goal race: the Autumn Blast Half on October 15. I think I'm almost ready! 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Week 13: Trying to Find Hills

Run #2 on Sunday

Happy Sunday! Welcome to another weekly review linkup with Hoho Runs and MissSippiPiddlin. Read more about my fall goal race here. I also have a half coming up this weekend! 

Week of September 5–September 11
Monday: rest; 2 mile walk around UA Arts Fest
Tuesday: 3 miles
Wednesday: 3 miles (hills!)
Thursday: 5.7 miles (smaller hills!)
Friday: rest
Saturday: rest
Sunday: Girls on the Run 5k (race recap) + 5.6 miles (rolling baby hills!)

Total (Running) Miles: 20.4 miles
2016 Miles: 696.5 miles

I had another busy week at work, but it's really the calm before the storm because this coming week should be terrible (yay). Regardless, I managed to de-stress a bit with decent runs and a race! Monday was Labor Day, which I spent doing work, but I also went to an arts festival and got dinner and fro-yo. Yum. Tuesday's run was a bit of a fail because I ate a ton of Chipotle before. There were a few comments last week asking how I run post-dinner and after some self-reflection I realized the answer is "very poorly." I eat right after work because Alex gets home before me and is always hungry... and sometimes makes me dinner.

One of the hills
On Wednesday I convinced him to go outside with me, so we postponed dinner. We did not run together because I did some hill repeats and I can't keep up with him on those. I was hungry (despite a Honey Stinger), but I did a few intense hill repeats and talked to some high school cross country kids who had 12 (!!) repeats. Knowing Alex was only running 2-3 miles kept me from higher milage, but it was productive. My new goal is to increase my weekly elevation gain. Last week was 285ft and this week was 335ft. Success!

Thursday morning

On Thursday I randomly woke up at 6am and got out the door for a run just after 7. I ran a little under 6 miles at an 8:54 pace, which somehow felt "slow" until my ankle started hurting near the end. I wrapped it and took off Friday and Saturday before my 5k race to be safe. (It's fine now. Probably a fluke. Maybe I was running weird.)

The ladies and me after the race with our wine!
On Sunday I raced the Run Like a Girl 5k. You can read my recap here. Spoiler alert: I broke some personal records. A little later in the afternoon I ran along the Scioto River, which is a trail full of small, but rolling hills. The weather was lovely: upper 70s with a nice breeze and low humidity.

So, I guess I'm technically in taper because I have a half marathon next Saturday. Last year the Indy Women's Half was stopped for lightning. They gave us a discount code for 2016, but I assumed I'd switch to the 5k. Welp, because it's super low stress (we're staying at the race hotel and the elevation isn't bad), I think I'm going to treat it as a training run and see how it goes. Of course, now that I've run a faster 5k on a slightly hilly course I kind of want to try to run another PR on something flat. So, don't be surprised if I end up switching to the 5k.... ;)

Have you ever run a race that was stopped for weather? 
Have you ever switched your focus to shorter distances to mix it up? 
Would you run the half or the 5k? (My "goal" half is October 15.)

Race Recap: Run Like a Girl 5k

All the swag! (Including a jump rope)

Run Like a Girl is an all female race and took place Sunday, September 11 at 8:00 am in Columbus, Ohio. There were three distances: 5k, 10k, and half marathon. I ran the 5k. 

Sign Up
Three of the four ladies I ran with in Nashville wanted to get together for another race. The other three signed up for the 10k, but when I went to look at registration and saw the 10k was two loops I was like, "no way José."

Knowing I'd be running a shorter distance and hoping (back in July) that it would be cooler, I considered trying for a PR. But as summer progressed and my training flailed in the heat, I let go of that goal. I looked up last year's results and saw that if I finished around 25 minutes I'd be in the top 20-30. Sunday morning was relatively mild (59-60 degrees), so I revisited my goals once more:
A. New PR
B. Between 25:00 and 26:00
C. Just run and don't get passed by too many people

I moved up after I took this photo. 

The Race
Pre race photo
We got there around 7:25am and stood in the potty lines. My only complaint about this race (ok, besides keeping the bananas in full sun and allowing them to ... melt?) was the number of potties. There were maybe a dozen. C'mon a race for women should know ladies have to pee before and we need lots of bathrooms. We stood in line for eons and if we'd be running the half we would have missed the start. Luckily, the 5k/10k start was delayed a few minutes. We went up to the line where they were calling out paces for everyone place themselves. I don't normally go to the front, but based on last year's results I decided to move up closer to the start.

Around 8:15/8:20 we were off. I knew the first mile was downhill, second mile flat-ish, and the third mile was hilly, so I planned to go out fast. I felt really good and I honestly didn't feel like I was going that quickly... it just felt strong. Imagine my surprise when my first mile chimed 7:03 (!!!). Not only is that a huge mile PR (previous 7:40), but it made me wonder if my Garmin was working.

We ran past the water stop at 1.5, then hit a turn-around and I could still see the leader and her bike escort. There were probably 20 or so people in front of me. Pretty cool. But of course this was where the sun hit my face (no hat! no sunglasses!) and I was thirsty (but didn't want to stop). Naturally, I slowed down.

Miles 2 and 3 were a significant slowdown compared to mile 1. Thing is, I felt tired, but it wasn't mile 1's fault. I didn't go out too hard; the course got more challenging. But I kept moving. We ran by another water stop at 2.5 and turned the final corner to see a hill to the finish. Once again: Columbus is pretty flat... but the last 3 or 4 tenths of the race included a 60ft hill. Needless to say, I did not sprint in, but I was very thankful I wasn't running the 10k!

With our wine!

Post Race
I finished under 25:00, but wasn't sure if I had a PR because my Garmin has a fake 5k PR from a track workout. I did confirm my first mile was 7:03! Holy cow!! (Now I want to "race" a mile!!)

I stood around for a bit, collected a water and some freebies, then saw one of my pals who decided to stop at 5k due to foot pain. We wandered around the vendor area then picked up our free bottle of wine (I got red) from the gentlemen in tuxedos. It was cute. The other two ladies finished their 10k under an hour, so we wandered around a bit more, then head home.

Stats and Thoughts
All in all, it was a lovely day. The weather couldn't have been better! When we were on our drive home I looked up my results and could not believe it:

Final time: 24:54  (24:35 at 3.1! New PR!)
Overall: 4 / 674 (!!!)
Age Group: 1 / 192  (!!!)

I know the "fast" people ran the longer distances and many of the 20 ladies ahead of me continued on to the 10k. But whatever! I ran a steady race and broke my PR. After I finished I was tired-ish, but mostly thirsty. My training's been so inconsistent vs. this past winter, so deep down I know I can shave off even more time on miles 2 and 3. So while I'm happy, I'm already thinking ahead.

The medal (nice that they gave one for every distance)
Up Next: next Saturday's Indy Women's Half... or 5k. I'm unsure whether I'll stick to the half as a training run or try a faster 5k on a flat course. There may be thunderstorms, so doing the 5k would at least guarantee a race finish if it's anything like last year. We shall see... 
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