Muscle Up Buttercup

I knew before I even left the house, that this run was extremely likely to go downhill. And not in the “whee, this is a fun hill to cruise down” kind of way. 

I mean like spectacularly awful crash and burn. 

Yet, with only 6 weeks until the Adirondack Marathon, it had to happen. 

The schedule called for 18 miles. And I planned out a route that had some really good training hills and a loop through a local park with a menagerie of animals (not quite a zoo) we’ve always called Goat World. 

Nothing. And I meant NOTHING went according to plan. Lol

It was 70 and 95% humidity when I headed out. By mile 2.5 I was already starting to drink my water. I had my buddy h2o, which only holds 10 ounces.  But that’s okay, because I knew there were a couple fountains along the route where I could refill. Or so I thought.  

At mile 6, I noticed a whole bunch of orange cones and one of these signs…

Hmmm this could be a problem. I’m fairly sure that race starts at Goat World. I may need to change my route. 

Of course, since I’ve taken to carrying my iPod instead of phone, I had to wait a 1/2 mile until I got to a wi-fi hotspot to confirm. And sure enough…I was on the course. A 1/2 hour before it started. 

I was also out of water by now. And the first  water fountain I knew of? Was turned off. Damn. 

Enticed by the idea of going by and seeing all the 5k runners, trying to figure out where I could get / buy water, and knowing that if I turned around where I was thinking to, I could end up SO in the way of the race, I headed towards Goat World. 

And…like a gift from the running gods, encountered a water stop. Those awesome race volunteers took pity on me and left me fill my water bottle, and wished me luck. 

A 1/4 mile later, I encountered the most aggressive dog I’ve ever met on a run. A large German shepherd, barking like he wanted to eat me and coming across the street at me. So, I stopped. And faced him. And he backed down and went home. I said out loud to him “what the hell was that?” And continued on and up. 

I was in the hilly section now, and the sun was shining. And I was starting to get nauseous. I had to stop for a minute to calm myself down. And then headed past where the runners were gathering for the race. 

Man I love being surrounded by runners. The energy is just contagious. I smiled at a few, wished a couple luck, and then encountered the mother of all downhills. 

The kind of downhill that makes you seriously question if you can make it down without falling headfirst. But, this was important for Adirondack. Because I know there’s a couple of those in the first half of the race. 

I reached the bottom at mile 10. Stood in the shade to open a gel, and seriously questioned myself.  I kinda wanted to call for a ride home. I was trying to figure out if I could call it at 12 and save the 18 for next weekend. 

I was miserable. Really miserable. But I was not going down without a fight. Time to muscle up, buttercup.  Because we don’t train just to make the race easier. We also train to learn how to embrace the suck. 

I did, however, decide that this was now going to be for time versus distance. And that I could likely pull off 16 miles in the time 18 should have taken. 3 hours. 

I stopped to buy a bottle of water. Where I of course forgot to stop my watch. This led to a horribly skewed time for that mile, so I don’t really know what my average was. Lol but that’s okay. It was slow. 

Because again, I was starting to feel ill. And stopping constantly to drink water. And I was SO gritty that it hurt to wipe my face and neck. 

And then I got my second gift from the running gods at mile 11. Sprinklers!! A low long line of sprinklers. And I probably stood there for 3 full minutes with a smile on my face. 

Slightly rejuvenated I continued on, and opted to run/walk the rest. Hopefully more running than walking, but I didn’t even care. 

I stopped for a second if I needed to. I walked when I had to. And I just kept moving. 

And found this cool fungus!

And at mile 14, when I finally found a recycling bin to toss the empty water bottle I’d been carrying for a mile (cuz I just can’t litter), I noticed the address I was standing at. 

Same as the area code for the Adirondack marathon. #runningsigns 

And I thought back to 2015, the last time I ran Adirondack. And I remembered how hard those last few miles were. And that I never gave up.  

So I continued on. Suffering but moving. Hoping that by powering through now, it will teach me to better handle it if it happens again next month.  

By mile 15.6 I was making deals with myself. I was near my house and walking/sprinting the tiniest intervals.  Unbeknownst to me, the hubs had seen me, and told me later he’s never seen me look like i was fighting so hard for every step.  I usually look like I’m having fun. Lol

But I finished. And saw him out in the yard with Gus. I waved, and slowly hobbled up. 

How’s it going babe, he asked. Not good, I replied. Then I laughed. Because 16 miles had never hurt that bad. And it suddenly became hilarious. 

I grabbed the lightpost next to me, hugged it for dear life, and then handed him my iPod. I needed a picture. One where I can look back and remember that even when it’s bad, it’s all good. 

Hello August…

The worst part of fall marathon training is that most of it occurs in the summer.

I don’t like the heat. I mean, you probably wouldn’t know because i’ve been doing my share of mid-day runs along the river…outside…in the heat and sun. But it usually involves stopping at ALL the water fountains during the second half.

And sure, I did do three races in July…but none of them were quite as good as earlier in the year when the weather cooler.

My poor garmin is getting dusty because I refuse to have digital proof of how awful my paces have been. I mean i’ve actually been eying this training shirt. LOL

But i’m 54 days out from the Adirondack Marathon, which means its time to really get serious. To decide if I have a PR goal, or merely a course-PR goal.

You see, that sucker is HILLY.

And while the first half is crazier hills than the second, the last time I ran this my goal was to beast the hills. And I did, and then the wheels came off by mile 17 and the ‘rolling hills’ in the later miles felt harder than the spikes.

So I plan to spend August ramping up both the strength training (adding a 3rd day a week), the hill training (wherever I can) and, as usual, distance (August’s schedule includes a 16, an 18 and a 20 miler). Dusting off the garmin so I actually know how fast (slow?) I’m going. And hoping that August is mild (yeah, I know….likely not happening).

I’m also going to up my hydration game (my running buddy h2o is about to get in some more miles) and maybe go back on the music (my single-ear sports bud isn’t getting its exercise either). Might be a good month to run to Zac Brown and Jimmy Buffet. oooh – virgin pina coladas in the h20 pouch? LOL

So, if you need me this month…i’ll be out running hills, feeling tropical and thinking fall.

Full Moon Running…a quartet of crazy

I’ve always believed that the full moon brings weirdos out of the woodwork. But this week truly reached a new level.

I should have caught on Sunday that it was a full moon when I encountered the snowman on my long run. LOL

But it wasn’t until after finishing my ‘runch’ yesterday that it sunk in.

Because during the first mile I encountered three rather unusual individuals…

First there was the rather heavy woman, sitting on the curb of the island of a large intersection. Who was only wearing a shirt. Fortunately her stomach was large enough to cover her ladybits, but it was still way more than I needed to see. (side note – she was gone on my way back, so either she left, or was encouraged along).

Then came the human squirrel. He had to be part squirrel, because most human beings don’t suddenly dart in front of another person for no good reason. And yet, this gentleman coming up the other side of the sidewalk just randomly came over right in front of me. Not texting, not avoiding an obstacle, just apparently decided to see if I was paying attention. Okay…

And, a block later, number three. The woman in the motorized wheelchair who, at the exact second I swung down to the right around her, turned without looking and headed for the road. I swung wider and apparently ticked her off, as I heard her yell “Next time you do that i’m gonna run you over”. I wanted to yell back “you’d have to catch me first” but instead settled for “watch where you’re going”. Because someone that has no chance of catching you is fairly safe to yell back at. LOL

Fortunately soon after I made it to the river and the next two miles were uneventful. Even coming back up that final mile hill was no more than the usual people who don’t pay attention and cell-phone starers who are gonna end up with serious chiropractic issues.

I figured the crazy was over. Until I got back to the locker room to change. And encountered the fourth member of my Quartet of Crazy.

Because you know those fancy dyson hand-dryers where you slide your hands down in and pull them back out? Well, I watched a woman use it to dry her dirty sports bra. Genius, but disgusting. I mean lady – people use that to dry off clean hands, and now your sweat stank is all over it. Not. Hygenic.

Oh well, at least the full moon is only once a month. I’ll just have to be more aware next month and not run downtown Boston that day. Unless I need another good blog topic!

Plant Powered Running – a year in review

It all started with Meatless May.

It was the weeks leading up to a marathon where I was trying to eat clean and my husband and I opted to cut back on /try to eliminate our meat consumption as well.   And come May 1st, I decided to see if I could go a month without meat.

Meatless May has so far lasted one year and 2 days.  And is still going strong.

Granted, I am not a vegan.  And that’s mostly due to a) my love of cheese and b) my gluten allergy.  Because you know what most vegan proteins are made of? Yep, gluten.

What I am…is a celiac pescetarian.   (possibly the most annoying eater on the planet.  LOL)  I eat fish, and sometimes eggs (organic, free range), and sometimes cheese (preferably small farm local or goat cheese).

My only ice cream in the past year was a banana split during Disney marathon weekend, But that was a situation where I didn’t have a lot of options at the restaurant.  And I only ate half.  And it was amazing.

I also eat kale, and spinach and lentils and beans and tofu and edamame and all kinds of amazing stuff.  Is it weird to say I love tofu? Its a challenge being a runner and not eating meat, because protein is essential to my way of life.  But there are a lot of plant based sources.  And I love the Vega company – their bars and shakes are delicious and convenient.

So has this new way of life affected my running skills?  I’d say it has…for the better.

And I mean granted, I am not saying that giving up chicken, pork, beef, etc made me a better runner.  But I think when you are focused on what goes into your body in a healthy way, it affects other aspects of your training – like committing to strength training and proper run fueling and hydration.

So lets look at what i’ve accomplished in the past 12 months:

  • May 1, 2016 – Providence Marathon.  Ran the entire thing.  Every single step.  My 10th marathon, but the first one I didn’t walk any of.
  • August 19-20, 2016 – Anchor Down Ultra.  12 hours of non stop running / walking. 44.1 miles.  My new distance PR.  And 9th female finisher.  Wow…
  • November 24, 2016 – Gobble Wobble 5k.  25:20.  a 5k PR.  And 6th in my age group.
  • January 5-8, 2017 – Walt Disney World Marathon weekend.  5k & marathon (Goofy Challenge 1/2 was rained out). Most fun i’ve ever had at a marathon.  And got my favorite race photo ever at mile 25.
  • April 23, 2017 – Blackstone Valley Half-marathon.  Fastest half in 2 years.  2:00:12 at the 13.1 marker and a 2:03:22 finish (13.47 miles).  Even hit a 57:00 10k.  Holy crow!

And next on the docket is the Maine Coast Marathon.  May 14th.

I’m not saying I have a shot at a marathon PR… but I might just.   Because you see, Sunday was my final LONG run – a 21 miler.  And it was the fastest i’d run an 18-22 mile training run since April 2015.

We’ll see what happens in 12 days. And yes, i’m going to spend taper freaking out and coming up with my real race goal (and backup goal) and checking the weather and questioning my outfit, just like normal.  But i’m also going to trust that may, just maybe as I approach marathon #12, that I finally know what i’m doing.

And I’ll have faith that if the amazing things I have accomplished this year are any indication, Maine Coast will be epic.

 

Hello April…lets party!

Anyone else glad that March is finally over?  Boy that was rough…

It came in like a lamb…then went full lion and stayed there.  With that one last hurrah of a snow storm on the 31st.  Because, why not.

But not only was the weather totally lion & lamb…so was my running.  March started nice and easy with marathon training just getting good.  And ended with a double-long run week.  For the second year in a row, March was my highest mileage total since March.  ūüôā  147 miles.  Of course, getting in an 18 mile run on the 31st totally helped with that total.  LOL

But see, in my family April is a big birthday month.  And my aunt was turning 60 so there was a surprise party to attend.  (Happy Birthday Aunt Laurie – glad you loved your party!)

So the options were… skip the long run this weekend and do 18 next weekend (with 20 the weekend after), or take a vacation day for the 18 and just do 12 next weekend.

Since the idea of running 18 & 20 back to back didn’t appeal, I went vacation day.  (Side note – does anyone else find that half of their vacation time ends up related to running? Training, races, etc.)

Granted, my 18 was definitely slower than the 16 I had done the Sunday before.  

And I was playing a game of “beat the rain” the whole time (got to 12 before the sprinkles and 16.5 before the hail.  LOL).  But it was totally worth it.

Because see… one of the April birthdays in my family is mine.  I get to enter a new 5-year age group this month (not confessing to which one) and i’d rather its first long run be an easy 12.

So while March was my workhorse month, April is my serious marathon training month.

I’ve got 2 20-milers planned AND a half-marathon (finally!) sandwiched between them.

Its just 5 1/2 weeks to Maine Coast…and we’ve still got plenty of work to do.  (OMG…I HAVE A MARATHON IN 5 1/2 WEEKS.  EEK! LOL)

But…its finally getting warmer. And lighter out in the mornings.  And while we’ve got miles to go, I just know they will be some good ones.

Hope everyone has a great month – and some really good spring runs!

Does mother nature hate runners?

Because seriously – i’m feeling like she’s out to get me.

Is she drunk? Feeling mean-spirited? ¬†Was the full moon affecting her?¬†Because this whole 50’s during the week followed by sub-zero windchills on the weekend for two weeks is just total BS.

I do appreciate that I have at least been able to run outside a couple times in the past two weeks.  I just wish that one of them had been a long run.

Yes, for the second Sunday in a row, it was netflix & ‘mill. ¬†Because if I¬†wasn’t going to run in -3 for a medal, I sure as heck wasn’t going to do it for nothing.

And can I just say how mentally challenging it is to run 14 miles on a treadmill? In a row… I¬†mean sure, 14 miles total is no biggie if its over oh…four days. LOL ¬†But 14 all at once? ¬†There’s no tv show in the world good enough to get you through that.

At mile 5 I started the calculations…the old well, since i’m running slower, then if I run by time versus distance I really only need to run x many miles to have the same effect. ¬†#runnermath At some point I decided even 10 miles would be enough…as long as I readded those 4 miles back in somewhere else so I still reached my weekly goal. ¬†#runnerlogic

I think it was around mile 8 1/2, when I grabbed a bottle of water, dropped in a nuun tablet and headed back down to the ‘gym’ that I realized that come hell or high water I was getting in that 14. ¬†Even if I¬†had to walk. ¬†Because there was leftover pizza in the fridge and I¬†was going to earn it. #runnerpride

And somehow…I did. ¬†Speed intervals, hill intervals, strategic walk breaks, another episode of Ultimate Beastmaster…whatever it took to keep the mind and legs moving. ¬†It wasn’t pretty, but it was done. And sometimes that’s all that matters.

Of course…yesterday we got SNOW. ¬†Fortunately not as much as they predicted but still…its going to be a few more days before it clears enough for outside running. ¬†And oh look – more snow in the forecast for the weekend.

I so would prefer not having to do yet another long run on the treadmill…. anyone know how we can bribe mother nature into playing nice this weekend? ¬†Maybe if we give her enough green beer Friday night she’ll sleep late and I¬†can get out early Saturday. ¬†LOL

Of course, i’m not just thinking about me. ¬†Because there are oh, thousands of runners all getting ready for the Boston marathon that need their long runs too! ¬†And I know from experience that training in the cold and then having it warm on race day makes the race a little harder. ¬†So please mother nature…for all my fellow unicorns. ¬†Can we just have one nice weekend????? ¬†Or at least move along to April. ¬†I’m so over March.

Taper again? Gak!

Seriously…my least favorite part of racing is the taper.  

I try to learn to love it. But I just can’t. 

I did manage week one of it okay. I cut back on my cross training and tried to not go too crazy on my runs. 

The problem is that when I don’t cross train I run faster. Good problem to have right? Lol

See Thursday I even skipped my kettlebell session. Because I was reading you shouldn’t do lower body weights during taper. You don’t get gains during that short period of time. I had always figured it was more I didn’t want to lose any strength. But I was tired that morning anyways. 

So Friday, I ended up doing my “long” run way faster than I meant to. Most of my long runs I’ve averaged 10:15 to 10:30/ mile. 

Friday’s 10.1 mile run was a 9:35 average. Oops! Fresh legs go faster. 

My first 5 were solid comfy about 10min miles. And then, for some reason I dropped to a 9:30 and kept getting faster. And decided, let’s make the last 3.1 a race. Pulled out a 27:56 5k. Not bad considering I had a 7 mile warmup. Lol

Saturday I rested (my parents were visiting and we took them down the cape) and Sunday I went out for a 10k run. 

Of almost all negative splits. First mile was my usual “warmup” of 10:30 and then, while I ran no harder, I ran faster. Mile 2 in 10 dropping to mile 6 in 9:13. Sweet. 

Maybe it was because shortly after I hit mile 5 I saw my hubby washing the car. And I wanted to look good when I ran by him. I do know that’s why I kicked at mile 6 and went a full 6.25 – so I could fly by him at the end. ūüôā

And I was just humid and hot enough to be glad he had the hose on. Lol  Better than sprinklers! 

Now, we enter phase two of taper. The final 6 days. Where the runs get shorter. The resting gets longer. The phantom aches begin. And the crankies begin along with them.  

I’m not nervous. Even tho I keep reading race recaps about how freaking hilly the first half of my marathon will be. 

Because I trained hard, I trained hills, and I trained to embrace the inevitable wall that I know I will hit.

I also have a very loose and very reasonable time goal. And since it’s going to be likely colder than I’ve been training in (it IS the Adirondacks in September), I’ll be naturally faster. 

I’ve done the work and now it’s time to do the rest. To let everything rebuild. Because fresh legs go faster. 

And Sunday morning, I’m gonna need them. ūüôā I’ve got a BIG lake to run around. Adirondack marathon here I come!

Happy Monday my friends. And happy running!