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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Week 11 & the Emerald City Quarter

One of this week's sky shots

Welcome to another weekly review linkup with Hoho Runs and MissSippiPiddlin. This week was pretty light, so I'm including my Emerald City Quarter recap. 

Monday: 2 miles + walk to work (w2w)
Tuesday: w2w
Wednesday: speedwork + w2w
Thursday: too hot for me :'(
Friday: 3 miles
Saturday: fail
Sunday: Emerald City Quarter Marathon (recap below)

2016 Total: 652.2 miles

It was a weird week of "feels like" temps over 100 and too much work, but I made the most of my paltry miles. Monday night's run was an 8:23 pace even in the heat. On Wednesday, I had to skip group speedwork due to work, so I set off at 7pm for a condensed workout. My overall pace for 3 miles was 7:51. Whatt!!! (The workout contained repeats, so there were rests in between.) I cut out Thursday because the feels like was 102, but ran a strong 3 before work Friday morning in high humidity. Saturday was a big fail, but luckily, Sunday's race turned out a-ok!

Love these medals! Photo by CapCitySportsMedia

The Emerald City Half and Quarter Marathon took place at 7:00am on Sunday, August 29, 2016 in Dublin, Ohio. Having run the half in the past (and wanting to die), I once again signed up for the quarter. Best decision I've ever made! [Race Information]

Andrea and me
Before the race began we were under Red Flag conditions. The humidity at the start was 100%! Eee gads. On top of the weather, my race prep was abysmal: I ate a terrible dinner (and TWO heavy beers. And split a key lime pie. What was I thinking?!), I hydrated poorly (mainly because of those two beers), Alex got called into work for a storm call and didn't get home 'til 11:30 (...and, of course, I waited up for him. Our wake up was 5am!), and I didn't get my Saturday shake out run. I was a mess!

We scooped up my friend Andrea and her husband Jeff on the way, and arrived around 6:15. Things that went well: I set out a nice light outfit the night before, we arrived with plenty of time to use the bathroom (twice), and we had time to line up in the correct corral. (Last year I got stuck in construction and started with the 12 minute pacers.) I knew Andrea would be running her own race, so I set up my podcast and got my headphones ready. While we were standing in the corral we discussed our goals for the day and I realized I didn't really have any because of the weather.

When I signed up for the race I took last year's time into account (58:11) and planned to run a 57:00, but as Andrea and I discussed plans I wasn't sure. I've had a really hard time with heat this summer and felt pretty defeated at the Crystal Lake Team Relay during Birdcamp. So when Andrea said she was going to try to stick with the 1 hour pace group (~9:09/mi), I figured I'd try the same.

Sunrise, time to race!
The Race
Well - haha - the pacers went out fast and I lost them! Andrea stuck with them, but I was working out the kinks (maybe I should warm up?). I kept them in my sights, but didn't catch up and overtake them until mile 2. Andrea later told me her first mile clocked in at 8:44, which was too fast, too early and she eventually fell off the pace around mile 3 or 4. I really hate when that happens. I guess I'm glad I followed my creaky body and worked myself up to a faster pace.

This picture makes me laugh. (Around mile 5.5)
Around 2.5 the half marathoners split off and the quarters took a turn towards the park. I remember being so relieved at this point last year, but on Sunday I already wanted to walk. If I didn't know deep down just how long it would take me to run/walk 4 miles, I would've stopped right then and there. The weather wasn't too terrible at this point because the sun was behind a cloud and there was a bit of a cool breeze... but that was canceled out by the extreme humidity.

We crossed mile 3 and I remember being really tired, but I decided to try and keep my position in front of the 1 hour pace group and hung with a girl in front of me for maybe a half mile. I saw our pace was 9:25, but I didn't care. Mile 4 ended up being my slowest mile, but I think I needed a little recovery to get my energy back. I willed myself to keep running and realized that, even with my slow-feeling pace, I was technically faster than last year and may be able to PR - even if it was only a matter of seconds. I also started to think about this recap and how it'd be better if I could say, "I PRd!" vs. "And then I walked because I was tired."

Miles 4 and 5 reinforced how mental running is. I run all the time. I don't run particularly far, but I get it done. I know if I'm feeling "just ok" even one more painful race mile will only take about 9 minutes. I tell myself, "the faster you run, the faster you're done" when the going gets tough. And at mile 4.5 – when I really wanted to stop and go home – I just tried to remind myself that I love running, this is only one hour out of my entire day, and I had the ability to make it a good run vs. one full of excuses.

Very red and sweaty. And freckly.
So yeah... I kept running. I stuck with three other ladies and as we turned back onto the main road for the final 2+ miles of full sun and heat (the sun was up now!) I kept moving forward. It didn't feel fast and I dumped an entire cup of water over my head at the mile 5 water stop, but I kept going...

The last section is a blur. I was so tired. (How many times have I said that?) It helped to keep my eyes on the ladies around me. With less than 1 mile to go I sped up a bit and attempted to sprint in to the finish. It wasn't a sprint... more like a fast trot, but at least I got into the 7s. After I crossed the line I looked down at my watch and was surprised to see I beat last year's time! My pace felt consistent, but kind of slow. I was tired at the end, but it could have been worse in the crazy heat.


Post Race
The company that runs Emerald City does a great job with swag. I got the normal finish line food/water and a cold towel to drape around my neck. There was also chocolate milk, cold-pressed juice samples, a dermatologist handing out deluxe product samples, a personal trainer giving out water bottles, and, of course, the after party at the Mexican restaurant nearby.

If I've learned one thing in the past two years it's get over to the after party quickly because it fills up fast. We got a great seat, redeemed our margarita vouchers (yes, it was 8am and yes, they were very refreshing), and got free chips and dip. Alex and Jeff were apparently some of the only people to order something besides the free food, so our waiter brought them extra margaritas! By the time we were finished there was a line out the door and no where for people to sit. So, pro tip: if you run this race do the quarter. You get the great medal and freebies, but you don't have to deal with as much of the extreme heat or long lines for food!

Stats and Final Thoughts
Final Time: 57:13 (8:44/mi)
Overall: 167 / 1543 (11%)
Gender: 74 / 1095 (6.7%)
Age Group: 31 / 371 (8%)
Mile Splits: 9:01, 8:55, 9:03, 9:13, 8:49, 8:35, 8:13 (final .5)

Despite the weather and my craptacular summer training, I know I could have run this much faster. ha! I mean, it was tiring, but it never felt particularly hard. My preparation and the humidity sucked, but had it been a shade cooler I could have easily kept all of my miles under 9. C'est la vie. On to the next one...

Our crowd support!
Up Next: Run Like a Girl 5k on September 11. Hoping for a PR, but haven't been training for one. Any tips for PRing a 5k in two weeks? ;)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Weeks 9 & 10: Birdcamp and beyond

Hola! Welcome to another weekly review linkup with Hoho Runs and MissSippiPiddlin. This one's a little different. I'm combining Weeks 9 and 10 due to travel and a ton of work. I'm finally caught up and back to normal! Let's get started: 

Lake Michigan looks tropical near Glen Arbor
Week of August 8–14: Michigan + Birdcamp
Monday: walk to/from work (w2w)
Tuesday: 2.2 miles + w2w
Wednesday: travel
Thursday: GL Birdcamp: Alligator Hill 4 miles,  397ft
Friday: GL Birdcamp: Sleeping Bear Dunes 3.3 miles, 558ft
Saturday: GL Birdcamp: Crystal Lake Team Marathon Relay Leg #5, 6.2 miles
Sunday: GL Birdcamp: "Slight Incline" 4 miles, 226ft

I think I'll make a separate post about Great Lakes Birdcamp (on Instagram), but here's a quick rundown: camp was for members of Oiselle Volée (a cross-country female running team) and located in Glen Arbor, Michigan near Sleeping Bear Dunes. I highly recommend the area. Very cute town and lovely coastline. We had one daily run (usually very hilly, but not very long) and spent the rest of our days sightseeing, hiking, and watching some of the Olympics. It was an action-packed long weekend and I made some great new friends.

As I mentioned, the runs weren't long, but they were hilly. Columbus, Ohio is not hilly, so I found the inclines of Glen Arbor to be pretty challenging. And let me brag: when I returned home and uploaded my watch data I was #2 in elevation gain in my local Strava group of 230+ people! Score!

We used the markers as beacons along the way.
Our most ambitious run was Friday's Sleeping Bear Dunes run (/hike). I didn't expect to make it to the beach because everyone said it was extremely tough. I planned to get to a dune with a view, take a photo, then turn back. I found myself with three like-minded ladies and somehow we kept moving forward. At one point we could hear the water, so there was no turning back. It was a difficult run (giant inclines in unsteady sand), but we took it dune by dune. We usually ran downhill and hiked uphill. It took over an hour to go 3.3 miles roundtrip and our shoes were filled with sand, but it was worth it!

Great Lakes Birdcamp - Michigan
Again, I'll recap Birdcamp in it's own post, but we ran a marathon relay on Saturday. Somehow I ended up with the longest leg. I thought it'd be ok, but I suppose not starting my part until 11am got the best of me. I was sluggish, hungry, thirsty, tired, and I got a little lost. Suffice it to say, it was kind of a confidence... ummm.... ruiner? All of my hard work in winter seemed lost. So, while I had an amazing time at Birdcamp, I wasn't feeling too confident about my fall goals. Which brings us to...

We came home to this... and still can't find his collar. What happened?!

Week of August 15–21
Monday: travel
Tuesday: 3 miles
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 5.6 miles + w2w
Friday: rest + w2w
Saturday: 9 miles
Sunday: 5 miles

Tuesday's run was cut short due to an unexpected downpour. (See above) I attempted to wait out the rain, but it didn't stop. Wednesday's day off was unplanned, but necessary, as I ended up working a 12 hour day (normal work and freelance) to make up for my time away. Luckily, the Olympics kept me company.

Thursday was nicer than normal, but still full sun and hot.

When I woke up Thursday after my long day of work, the last thing I wanted to do was plan my day around a group run. But I didn't want to bail, so I dragged myself to the store just after 6pm. New Balance and Brooks were there for shoe try-ons, so I took the NB Vongo's out for a spin. I planned to stick with the 3 milers, but somehow ended up with the 6s. They maintained a pace in the 9s, which honestly felt like 8s in the heat. I could keep up, but just barely. Like the Saturday of my marathon relay, I was doubting my fitness.We returned to the store, grabbed a beer and our free tank tops, and socialized. Despite feeling like crap, I had a great time with the 6s and will be back next Thursday to run with them again.

I skipped my Friday morning run in favor of sleep. That's another thing: I've slept like crap since returning from Birdcamp. At camp we got up between 5:45 and 6 and I didn't go to bed til 11 or midnight. When I returned home, I'd get in bed around 10, but my brain was on overdrive til midnight or 1. These successive nights of 5-6 hours of sleep were starting to compound.

At our friend's wedding downtown on the Scioto River

Saturday was my normal training group run. I had 12 on my schedule and figured I'd run 9 with the halves, then add 3 at the end. Ha! It was 97% humidity and I felt every percentage point. It was a terrible run. Last season I'd considered moving to the 10 or 10:15pace group since I'd gotten faster, but it was so difficult to hang with the 10:45 pace on Saturday. Despite everything, I had great company. I went home, vegged out, then got gussied up for a wedding. It was a lovely evening with friends.

Sunday: pre-dusk run and watching Jeff complete his 70.3
On Sunday we woke up early-ish to watch my friend's husband participate in his first half Ironman. He was smiling every time we saw him and he beat his goal by 20 minutes! It was so exciting to see the first finishers and watch the bike transition. Normally I get a little jealous when I spectate a marathon or trail ultra, but I can confidently say the Ironman had no effect on me! No thank you, I'll just watch!

Later that night (after much delay and whining) I went out for a run. I had 5 on the plan, but convinced myself 2 would be fine. Once I got going I did not want to stop! I ran the full 5 –with some breaks for photos and traffic– but my paces were close to olden days (9:10, 8:32, 8:30, 8:36, 8:22). A big part of it was the weather: it was in the upper 70s with 43% humidity. It felt lovely and it was a great confidence booster. I've been struggling on my runs this summer and maybe it really is weather-related?!

Will you miss watching the Olympics? (I will!)
What's your favorite season? 
Have anything fun coming up in September? 

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Week 8: August 1- 7 Still hot, but that's ok...

Tried to run here Sunday (Three Creeks Metro Park)
Hellooooo August! I'm linking up with Hoho Runs and MissSippiPiddlin for another weekly review. Read more about my fall goal race here

Week of July 25-31
Monday: rest + walk to/from work (w2w)
Tuesday: 4 miles + w2w
Wednesday: 4.7 miles speedwork + w2w
Thursday: rest + w2w
Friday: 1.2 miles + w2w
Saturday: 10 miles
Sunday: 6.1 miles + 3.2 miles walking

Total (Running) Miles: 26 miles
2016 Miles: 595 miles

It's still hot, I'm still running slower, and I'm still having a hard time getting into the running zone, but it's getting better and I have a positive outlook! Week by week I'm adapting to the heat and trying to keep my eye on the prize (glorious fall runs).

Tuesday morning's flower
Monday and Thursday were rest days, but I started my running week off right with a 4 miler before work on Tuesday. Before work!! I'm a morning superstar!! I felt so fantastic knowing that I didn't have to do anything after work.

Wednesday night
On Wednesday I decided to do half of my training group's speedwork exercise on my own (the original was 2.5 miles too long for my plan). The local track was packed with football and soccer kids, so I took it to the [shaded] street. 1 mile warm up, 400, 800, 1200, 1600, 1 mile cool down. I didn't read my pace goals before, but I maintained an 8:15 pace during the ladder which is a bit slow, but acceptable for the 6:00pm heat and humidity.

I ran before work Friday, but woke up late and didn't have time for much. I wasn't feeling it and decided to go out for 10 minutes. I felt like I was going lightning fast, but it was an 8:44 pace. Definitely good, but I miss my speedy mile days during last winter's runstreak!

Standing in front of The Horseshoe (Ohio State)
As always, Saturday was my group run. I stayed up late Friday (dinner with friends, watching the opening ceremonies) and even though I woke up before my 5:30 alarm I was dragging. Our group was a lot smaller than normal and my closest run friends were gone, but it worked to my advantage. At the beginning I wasn't sure I'd stay awake for 10 miles, but I made some new buddies and the smaller group size made for a really fun and social run.

Sunday's trail
On Sunday Alex and I tried to go to Three Creeks Metro Park (photo at top) so he could fish while I ran, but we were foiled by a local half marathon! I was given permission to run on the trail, but I would have felt weird, so we went to another park and I hopped onto the newly revamped Alum Creek Trail. Alex couldn't fish, but he had the dog with him and they had a great time walking around. The run itself was nice (9:52, 9:24, 9:19, 9:44, 9:19, 9:00). My legs felt heavy in the beginning but by mile 3-4 I hit my stride. I was happy to be finished, but glad I got out there. Alex took me out for a donut after. Yum. The rest of Sunday: drawing images about truck safety. Yup.

A photo posted by OiselleGreatLakesBirdCampMichi (@oisellegreatlakesbirdcampmi) on

Other than running, work was busy, but we had a low-key week at home. We finished Stranger Things on Netflix (so good), watched the movie Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (also good, but not a comedy as advertised), and we've watched a few Olympic events. I'm prepping for a trip to Michigan next week for Oiselle Great Lakes Birdcamp. Alex is going with me (he'll be hiking while I'm at camp) and we're stopping in Grand Rapids and Traverse City. Camp is in Glen Arbor near the Sleeping Bear Dunes. I'm excited to run in the park and meet new people, but I'm intimidated by the running pedigree of the ladies attending! They're so fast!

Have you ever gone to camp? I went to band camp in high school...
Any recommendations for things to see/do in Glen Arbor, Grand Rapids, and Traverse City? 
What Olympic events do you enjoy? I've enjoyed the cycling road races.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Books of July 2016

July was a jam-packed month of travel, fun outings, out of town visitors, and so much productivity. I checked off many to-do list items (that have been looming for about two years - yikes). Reading took a bit of a back seat, but I'm pleased that I'm getting back into classic literature. And like last month, most of my reading took place walking to and from work.

 - - - - - - - -

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Review: 4–4.5 / 5
I thought this was good (and funnier than a normal JA book), but I didn't love it. Catherine was a clueless, but well-intentioned main character. It was interesting to ponder the age difference (/level of maturity) between Catherine and Anne in Persuasion. The only downside to reading Persuasion so recently: I sometimes confused which side characters were in Bath! Didn't happen often, but enough to be amusing. 

I enjoyed the eventual scenes at Northanger, but it felt like it took a long while to get there (though the beginning of the book is great for different reasons). I suppose in the end, I wasn't in love with the last few chapters and the direct address at the end. It was funny (and at least JA did it a few times before), but it kind of felt like, "I'm tired of writing this book, here's the end" -- Which honestly isn't very different from her abrupt post-engagement endings in all other books, just more straightforward. Hmmm... maybe I liked this more than I thought. 

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Review 3.5–4 /5
First, I "got" it and very much appreciate the themes of hypocrisy, "innocence," and group-think. I think May is a great character and enjoyed how Newland seemed to think she was naive, when in fact she understood (better than him). Despite my admiration for the theme and message (and I actually loved the "controversial" ending!) it took me eons to finish. I'd fall asleep after a few pages and the majority of my progress was made on walks to/from work. I glazed over at times and - this is important - never once did I truly believe the love between Newland and Ellen. Perhaps it's because I kept imagining Michelle Pfeiffer as Ellen. I hope she surprises me in the movie version because as gorgeous as she is I cannot believe she was the best actress for the part. Perhaps the casting director didn't read the character descriptions for the ladies... (though, as a die-hard Winona Ryder fan, she seems perfect for May even if she isn't tall and fair-haired. I'm a hypocrite.) 

Anyway, I'm glad I read it and I think the last two chapters saved it for me (the dinner party, the afterwards), but this was not my favorite Edith Wharton book.

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
Review: 4 / 5
This was entertaining - I flew through it, but I think it's time for Megan Abbott to try something new. Yes, it was from an adult's perspective, but the world was similar to The Fever and -especially- Dare Me. The mysterious sense of dread and odd lapses of memory reminded me of The End of Everything. I'd still recommend this, but I think I'm getting a little tired of the repetition. Having said that, I suppose it's sometimes nice to know what you're getting in to?

There's a good review on here that likens MA books to a feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach, and I agree. She never paints a pretty picture and I rarely root for her characters (minus Drew).

The Gingerbread Girl by Stephen King
Review: 2 / 5
I listened to the audiobook after I read about it on Fairytales and Fitness. Not my favorite Stephen King story. In fact, I thought it was a little too basic (and why was the guy so evil??). When I saw it was a short story for Esquire magazine AND written during the time he wrote Duma Key it made a lot more sense. Sure, it only takes a few hours to get through, but if you're looking for a great Stephen King story set in Florida read Duma Key. Far superior. (Though it's about 15x longer...)

Sellsville : circa 1900 by Carl H. Weisheimer
Review: 4 / 5
(I borrowed this book from my mechanic.) It was written in 1971 by my work landlord's uncle and deals with the Columbus area in which I live and work (no longer referred to as Sellsville). The name came from the Sells Brothers circus which wintered in the area  and my house stands on their old farm land. I had fun imagining how the area looked in the early 1900s and enjoyed the anecdotes (murder mystery, bar fights, building locations, family tales), but one of the most interesting parts of the book was finding out the area was very integrated. In fact, the local school was called the "Polka Dot School" because of the even mix of whites and blacks. There's a good section on the Mill (where I work), but a big chunk of the book is devoted to the Sells Brothers circus. There was a quick write up about the book and neighborhood in the Columbus Dispatch in 2013 along with a photo of the Mill and my landlords. Anyway, this book is out of print and I don't really expect people outside of Columbus to care, but it was an interesting read, nonetheless. 

- - - - - - - -

As always, these reviews were taken from my Goodreads. For past months, click here.

What did you read in July?
What are you reading now?

Monday, August 01, 2016

Week 7: July 25-31 Run for Fun

Monday's sunset

Welcome back! I'm linking up with Hoho Runs and MissSippiPiddlin for another weekly review. Read more about my fall goal race here

Week of July 25-31
Monday: 3.3 miles
Tuesday: walk to/from work (w2w)
Wednesday: 2.6 miles + w2w
Thursday: rest + w2w
Friday: 2 miles + w2w
Saturday: 10.8 miles
Sunday: 6 miles + 3.2 miles walking

Total (Running) Miles: 24.8 miles
2016 Miles: 544 miles

My weekday runs were short due to boredom and excessive heat. I'm really trying to wake up early, but I am not a morning person. I love my Saturday group runs because I get up on autopilot; I know there are people waiting for me. I cannot replicate that sense of urgency on weekdays. One new factor: we installed blackout curtains in our bedroom Tuesday. I love them, but I think they work a little too well...  zzzzzz

Around mile 3 on Saturday

Saturday was my first double-digit run since the end of May. As I get into higher milage I'm remembering why I enjoy long distance running! Instead of sticking with the group for my prescribed 10, I ran with them until their turn-around at mile 7 then ran the rest of the way home. I ran a 10:45 pace with the others and between 9:15-9:45 on my own. It was fun reviewing the map after and my point-to-point journey. Sometimes I don't appreciate how far we runners go during training.

These guys were all along one segment of Sunday's trail. Crazy!

Sunday marked my first longish distance back-to-back weekend run on Hanson's. I had 6 miles, so Alex came along as my bike escort. After mile 2 I felt pretty good and since I skipped group speed work Wednesday (my car was in the shop), I decided to push my middle miles. Mile times: 10:35, 9:28, 8:45, 8:50, 8:51, 9:28. Not bad for heavy legs!

Example sample (I had some of the wine; the pours are generous)
Besides running, my week contained a few fun outings: an out-of-town friend visited Monday and on Tuesday night I saw Star Trek Beyond. I really enjoyed it. We met up with my parents and booked seats at one of those swanky theaters with recliners. I will definitely be back! On Thursday, Alex and I went out with some folks to check out a growler shop. I was impressed with their selection. I'm a big craft beer enthusiast, but even I get weird-flavored-beer fatigue. I was thankful GROWL! (yes, with an exclamation point) stocked several tasty and easy to drink styles. Friday night we had grand plans to go to an event at the newly renovated art museum, but we got lazy and decided to do wine night at Whole Foods instead. For $4 you get get 5 wine and food pairings. Kind of weird to spend a Friday at a grocery store, but whatever. It's a good time!

Sunday's after dinner dessert

On Saturday night we went to dinner with Alex's family and on Sunday my mom and I went to a nearly all day political rally. It was full sun, very hot, and we walked over 3 miles. By the time it was finished we were famished (I'm glad I brought snacks, including Honey Stingers!). Afterwards, Alex made dinner and my step dad came over to celebrate his birthday. It was a nice weekend!

Thanks, Strava!
Finally, I had a milestone this week: I had my first 1,000 mile year! I know it's not a traditional calendar year, but I joined Strava August 7, 2015 and I hit 1,014 miles this week. (In 2015 I ran 800 miles and 550 in 2014.) We'll see if this leads to 1,000 miles Jan-Dec 2016.

Are you a early bird or night owl?
What's the last movie you saw in the theater? 
Did you buy the new Harry Potter book? (I'm waiting a bit.)
Do you ever hang out at grocery stores? (ha)

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