Hello everyone. It’s been a while. After a long break and time away following a disappointing marathon in Houston, I started training and racing again. I seriously contemplated competitive retirement, but couldn’t make the final decision. I thought I might find clarity through racing, so I ran a few races between March and May 2018. Read more >>
Army veteran, now Army wife with 3 daughters (aka: single married mom). I have fun trying to sprint, enjoy long runs in the mountains, and everything in between. 3 x marathon OTQ, will eventually start training again to try to make it 4. I write about trying to stay competitive while raising young kids.
I’ve run in the last 3 Olympic Marathon Trials, and I’m debating whether to take on the huge project of training and trying to qualify for a fourth. I was excited to learn last week that the 2020 Trials will be held in Atlanta. That news is a huge plus for me on the side of “try to qualify again.”
I think the Atlanta organizers will do a great job; in my experience, the location and background of the Marathon Trials host makes a big difference to the runners’ race experience. Let me explain. Read more >>
Sometimes you’re in the middle of an intense training cycle and something feels off, but you don’t want to stop. Most of the time, deep down, you know better. This knowledge is hidden away in a dark place you don’t want to look, so you ignore it. Or maybe something goes wrong and you can’t figure out why, even though the answer is right in front of you. Pretty soon, however, you have a full-blown injury. Now you have to miss out on a lot.
This was recently the case with me.
After almost five weeks off due to somewhat significant, lingering knee pain, I’ve finally started running again. I figured out the issue and am staying on top of it (thank you scraping spoon!), but have not figured out my running.
Since Houston, I’ve continued to contemplate competitive retirement. I still don’t know if I’m done. I look at races and think about races, but now that I’m running again, have not made any actual race plans or become motivated to do any workouts. I think I’ll enter a few low-key, local races, to see if that stokes my competitive drive.
Valentine’s Day is coming up, and if you’re looking for a gift for your favorite runner, you likely know already that stereotypical flowers and chocolate lose out against the often cheap, yet life-changing training accessories your runner covets.
I’m here to help! Here’s my list of running-related items I’ve received lately (or given to myself) – some favorites and others that weren’t worth the cash.
Spoiler alert: Stick a fork in me, I might be done.
I decided to run the Houston Marathon fairly soon after the Richmond Marathon in November. I felt like I would recover from Richmond quickly since I basically ran 18 miles hard, then struggled the last 8 with massive quad cramps, finishing in 2:52:39. Richmond was a good starting point as my first serious race back after having baby #3, and before the quad cramps I ran those 18 miles at 2:47-2:48 pace. My ultimate A-goal was to run under 2:45 and qualify for the Olympic Trials. I thought I’d get there by building on my Richmond performance with a little more training and going for it at Houston.
Logistically, it also made sense. I didn’t feel the need to take a lot of time off after Richmond, and I didn’t have the patience to start over and go through a typical 12-week marathon training cycle. I recently read an interview with Sara Hall where she explained her attitude towards racing frequently. She likes the approach of generally staying prepared and ready to race whatever comes up, rather than relying on “perfect training cycles” for a single goal race. I agree.
So after a few days completely off after Richmond, and two weeks of easy building back up, I felt ready to train again.
As the temperatures continue to drop, here are my favorite things of 2017 that I recommend every mom (or dad) running with young kids bring with them to 2018.
First, my triple running stroller still remains one of the best, all-time favorite things I’ve bought. Worth every single penny. Not only did it keep me sane during my husband’s deployment, it adds a lot of flexibility to my running and schedule as an married, yet often single mom. I love it so much, I even wrote it a song!
Ode to my triple running stroller, sung to the tune of Jingle Bells:
Pushing three kids was hard
Especially going uphill
But I didn’t want to be a lard
Because of desserts I eat my fill
Sometimes I ran inside
Instead of pushing the triple-wide
And then I could run faster
But the treadmill became my master
(chorus, sung twice)
Oh, triple stroller triple stroller
You really did save me
Because without you I would have gone
I pack water bottles and treats
And put the kids in their seat
No matter what the weather
We run in the cold or heat
An essential piece of gear
For all my running this year
And I’d just like to thank you
Even now with winter here
(chorus, sung twice)
Oh, triple stroller triple stroller
You really did save me
Because without you I would have gone
Next, to go along with stroller running in the winter, I’d like to recommend two of my favorite pieces of essential gear.
For baby, I recommend the Patagonia reversible puff-ball bunting. It’s a good way to keep baby nice and cozy without overheating. It’s wind and water resistant, and has hand and foot coverings since we all know how easy it is to keep mittens/shoes on little ones. It’s lightweight and so comfortable I wish they made it in adult sizes. I purposefully bought one in a larger size so all of my kids have been able to wear it through two winters — one as a bunting, and one without the hands/feet covered, more like a snowsuit.
Finally, for the runner, I recommend the Brooks Threshold Glove. Having lived in New York and Colorado, I’ve tried a lot of different running gloves. None ever seemed to really do the trick, and I still always had to tuck my hands in my sleeves, which is hard to do while pushing a stroller. These work. Two gloves in one, they have a normal stretchy glove that is warm but doesn’t make you sweat layer, and then a mitten shell that goes on top. These gloves are perfect for blocking the wind while my hands are on the stroller handlebar. I even wear them running solo. If my hands get too warm, I pull back the mitten layer which is light enough I don’t even feel it flapping around.
What are your running “must-haves” that you are bringing with you to 2018?
I took a few days off after Richmond, and then finished out a recovery week with some short, easy runs. I spent the next two weeks building up my mileage and incorporating speedwork. I didn’t have a set plan but just went by feel; I think I recovered fairly quickly since I had trained fairly well for Richmond, but didn’t run as hard as I should have.
After a lot of analysis, I tried to figure out what went wrong (other than my quad cramps). My buildup was good, but not great, as I never had any stellar workouts or race results. Ultimately, I think it came down to lack of intensity. First, I’ve been out of racing/training hard for quite awhile. After a complicated pregnancy and my husband’s deployment, I didn’t really train or run hard for over a year and a half. It’s hard to switch back into training mode, both mentally and physically. Second, I think I focused too much on mileage and not enough on getting that intensity back. While I no doubt ran my easy runs easy (especially when pushing the stroller), and probably got in enough workouts, my actual workouts weren’t hard enough.
This training cycle I’m purposefully trying to limit my mileage, and separate my mileage so that I have definitive longer days and purposeful shorter days, instead of just cramming in whatever I can as often as I can. I’m sticking with shorter stuff for my speed days to try to up my intensity, and also incorporate longer speedwork into some of my long runs.
This is what my first actual training week looked like, after a recovery week and two build weeks after the marathon.
Saturday 12/2: with very limited race options in my town, I wanted to jump in the most popular race of the year here, and kick start my speedwork. The Reindeer run is very hilly- not rolling, but long, long uphills, with a downhill last mile. I ran 45 minutes to the race start, then finished the 5K in 18:39 as the first woman, third overall.
Sunday 12/3: 2 hour long run (moderate pace, first long run since the marathon)
Monday 12/4: couldn’t fit in a run today, couldn’t bring myself to run on the treadmill, so did a quick 30 minute bike instead.
Tuesday 12/5: 30 min w/u, 4 x Bethesda Rd miles (my favorite place to do mile repeats- a rolling, curvy gravel road) 5:56, 5:41, 5:52, 5:37, 15 min w/d. 45 minutes with the single/double mixed throughout the rest of the morning.
Wednesday: 45 minutes solo; 31 minutes later w/ the single stroller.
Thursday: 35 min w/u/d to and from the track; 5 x 400,300,200,100. Took me awhile to warm up on these, but was finally feeling fast on the last set. 40 minutes w/ the single/triple strollers mixed later that day.
Friday: 45 minutes easy.
As I sit here the day after the Richmond Marathon, writing my race report, I don’t feel like I just ran a marathon yesterday.
That about sums up my race.
Let me backtrack a bit. On a run 10 days before the marathon my knee started to hurt. It hurt enough to call it a day at 3 miles, then take the next several days off. After switching my shoes and consulting a chiropractor, I tried running again. While it didn’t hurt now, it still had a little pull and wasn’t 100% normal.
My coach advised me to take the following week completely off and then do very short runs the Thursday and Friday before the race. During that week, I set up my bike trainer in the basement and biked the equivalent times I would have run. My knee felt fine and didn’t bother me at all running the two days before the marathon. I focused on the mental aspect of dealing with this extreme taper; I knew the work was done, and I hoped that an 8-mile pre-race week wouldn’t affect my performance.
The elite coordinator Thom had invited me to be the guest speaker at their Sports Backers club dinner Thursday evening and talk at a school Friday morning. Last year they had Desi Linden – quite an act to follow! – but since the race fell on Veteran’s Day this year, Thom (an Air Force Vietnam Veteran himself), thought it would be neat to have a veteran as the speaker. I was very honored and looking forward to talking with and meeting other fellow runners. I thought it would be fun since I used to speak with school groups while in WCAP.
I debated whether to travel to Richmond solo or with the kids. My husband was in the field all week and training nights, and he couldn’t leave until Friday. My Mom was willing to drive over (she lives an hour away) and watch the kids at the hotel while I was at my speaking engagements, but ultimately we decided the easiest thing to do logistically would be to leave them at home with a babysitter while he was working. That meant I wouldn’t have my race support/cheering squad there, but I would hopefully get two nights of solid sleep and time to myself.
The speaking engagements went well. The dinner Thursday evening was coincidentally at the high school my Dad graduated from, and it made me feel like a pro to field questions from a range of people running their first to 20th marathon. Friday I talked with the run club at a military middle school in the city, which was fun. As I relayed some of my Army experiences, I realized that the kids weren’t even born when September 11th happened, an event that had completely shaped my young adult life as a 2001 West Point graduate. That evening I met up with one of my best friends and teammates from college and her boyfriend for an early bird dinner, th
en headed back to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep in a crisp, neatly made, all-to-myself bed before race day!
I woke up two hours before the start to eat breakfast, which I had no appetite for and had to force down. I managed to eat a plain bagel, part of a banana, and bottle of water. I took a quick shower to help wake up, then rolled my legs and stretched a bit. I was only a few blocks to the start and wanted to leave the hotel as late as possible since it was below freezing outside and I didn’t want to shiver for too long!
Mentally, I felt good. I had accepted the fact that running a marathon was going to be unpleasant, that I was going to be out there for a long haul, and that it was going to hurt. After dreading it for the last several weeks, I was looking forward to getting it done.
I ran up to the start and got to the line about 20 minutes before go time. It was cold: 25 degrees at the start. My ponytail froze into one solid ice chunk. I kept my sweats on for as long as possible, then stripped down to my shorts, singlet and throwaway gloves. Mistake #1: I should have worn compression socks or sleeves and possibly arm sleeves. I never warmed up the entire race.
I started up front and settled into a comfortable pace. The first mile was 6:23, but I didn’t use my watch too much after the first few miles as I tried to dial into a pace. It was freezing, and it felt like there was a cold wind no matter who I tucked in behind. My next few miles stayed consistent around 6:20-6:22.
I entered this race thinking I was fit enough to qualify for the Olympic Trials (2:45). I felt like I had gotten in a solid training block and that in good conditions I could do it. A OTQ requires a 6:17-8 pace, and I was just slightly off. I didn’t freak out or become discouraged and throw in the towel. I felt good where I was. 6:20-6:22 just happened to be my rhythm that day. I also thought that maybe when I warmed up a bit, I could get into a faster groove.
Around mile 8 I finally began to feel my face and hands again. My throwaway gloves were perfect for gel storage. I always debate pinning my gels to the inside of my shorts or tucking them into my sports bra, both of which result in awful chafing in weird places. I ended up keeping my gloves on the entire race because of the cold and just tucked my gels into them so I didn’t have to hold anything.
I went through the half at 83:16. Still on 6:21 pace, so I’d definitely found my rhythm. I felt good, working but in control. Surprisingly, I was enjoying myself. The marathon was a beautiful course with nice crowd support spread throughout. It seemed to be going by very fast. Normally, even if I don’t look at my watch every mile it still seems like a long drag between the markers, but in this race it felt like the miles just kept clicking away.
If I could keep that consistent pace, I thought I would end up running 2:47-2:48, which I would be happy with. It would make a good starting point for another consistent training cycle. On an easier course in better conditions, I’d be confident to run several minutes faster. While I knew I wasn’t going to negative split it today and qualify for the trials, I was perfectly happy with where I was at and confident I’d maintain it.
And then came mile 18. My quads completely locked up. Sure, at some point in every marathon my legs start to really, really hurt. That’s the nature of pounding the pavement for 26 miles. But this was different. It was serious cramping, enough that I wanted to stop and stretch but didn’t because I knew it would be hard to start again. I felt like I was half stepping, my stride length reduced to nothing. The only thing I could do was try to maintain the same rhythm, although my steps felt incredibly short.
What happened? Maybe the hills finally caught up to me? Richmond is a very hilly course. Some are obvious, others are long stretches that you don’t even notice until you’re running them. The whole thing feels rolling. But I generally run on hilly routes while pushing the stroller, so didn’t think the Richmond hills would bother me that much. Could it have been the cold from wearing shorts? My butt was still numb from cold at the end of the race.
Later that day it dawned on me that my quad cramps were probably the result of my biking for the last 10 days; I hadn’t ridden my bike trainer in years, so starting a new activity to substitute running the week before my race (ie: stressing different muscles) probably wasn’t a genius idea. Mistake #2.
Needless to say, I lost 4-5 minutes the final 8 miles. I got passed by 2 women, handfuls of men, and finally finished as 6th female in 2:52:39.
I was immediately disappointed in myself, because I felt like I had just run, not raced, 26 miles. Which unfortunately characterizes how I’ve felt after many of my races this season.
On the long drive home (only about 3.5 hours driving, but I stopped frequently to walk around and stretch my legs), I did nothing but analyze my race. Did I run slower than hoped for because of environmental factors (the cold and fact that I never warmed up, the hills, my quads) or because I mentally gave up at mile 18 when my quads seized up? I think it was my quads. Mentally I tried; when people passed me, I used that as motivation to go with them. I’d latch on for several paces, then my quads would seize up again and I’d be reduced to half stepping. It was frustrating that my body wouldn’t cooperate with my mind.
Overall, despite the cramping, I enjoyed the marathon. Which I don’t think I’ve ever said before. I wasn’t engulfed in doubts or negative thoughts about quitting. I actually was thinking about what I wanted to run next, which NEVER happens: it’s normally “run fast so you don’t have to do this again.” It went by very quickly for a marathon.
Based on how I feel, I think I’m going to recover quickly. My quads and a very chafed belly button (thanks diastasis recti) are the only battle wounds I have. While taking some recovery time I plan on analyzing my training cycle to see what I can change and revamp for the next one. My buildup for this marathon was good, not great, and just like this race, my intermediary races were mostly lackluster and left me feeling like I hadn’t left it all on the course. And that means it’s time to refocus on what is next.
Or 10.29-11.4. Or M-2 (2 weeks to marathon).
No, that is not a typo in the title. I have spent the majority of almost the last 6 years either pregnant or breastfeeding. Last month my kids turned 5, 3 and 1. As much as I adore babies and am sad mine are growing up so quickly, I’m done. This is the end of an era for our family. I know my body will change now that it is no longer growing or sustaining another human being for the first time in almost 6 years, and will certainly have some kind of impact on my running. Hopefully this will mean extra energy now that it’s not being diverted to another person!
All the changes aren’t necessarily positive. Goodbye, pregnancy-induced (legal doping) increased red blood cells! Goodbye, nursing-induced, mood enhancing Oxytocin! Goodbye, doctor-ordered extra 500 calories a day! Hello menstrual cycle, who I have only seen in the short periods between ending nursing and the next pregnancy.
And some are positive. Goodbye, worries that running will somehow harm or negatively affect the human I’m growing or feeding! Goodbye, wider hips and bigger, uncomfortable-for-running boobs! Welcome back, body of a 12-year-old boy! Goodbye, Prolactin that made me susceptible to injury!
Sunday 10/29: 1:15 Weymouth Woods. Felt pretty good but still ran easy after racing a hard 10 miler the day before.
Monday 10/30: 90 minutes w/ 4 long hill loops in the early morning; 30 minutes with the triple later morning.
Tuesday 10/31: 1:15 w/ 25 minute fartlek on the football field; 45 minutes later morning combo of triple/single stroller.
Wednesday 11/1: 3 miles combined single/double, then decided to stop. My knee started hurting increasingly throughout my runs, so I called it a day. Was planning on starting my taper today anyway, although not quite this much!
Thursday 11/2: My knee still felt off, so decided to play it safe. Set up my bike trainer and rode 45 mins hard- that’s all my sit bones could take.
Friday 11/3: Still felt a slight pulling in my knee, hoped one more day of no running could make it go away. 45 mins hard on the bike trainer- sit bones very sore as I haven’t been on my bike in years! Also went to the chiropractor, who said my hips were out of alignment and did some adjustments.
Saturday 11/4: Switched out my oldest pair of shoes for new ones, then ran 61 mins in Weymouth Woods. Knee did not hurt like it did on Wednesday, but still felt a slight pulling. Followed up with 30 minutes on the bike since I planned on running 90 minutes today.
My coach recommended I use extreme caution over the next week leading into Richmond. Even if that means no running until a shake out the day before the race. I’m taking his advice and hoping my knee feels 100% by marathon time, so am compensating with the bike trainer in place of what I would do running. More than anything I’m trying to keep my confidence up and reminding myself of all the good training I had during my buildup, and that an extreme taper hopefully won’t erase that.
In my buildup to the Richmond Marathon, I planned two early-autumn 10-milers as my big intermediate races to gauge my fitness. Here’s how they went.
Virginia 10 Miler, Lynchburg, Sept. 23
I grew up an hour away in Charlottesville, VA, and ran many high school track and cross country meets in Lynchburg. I moved away as an adult, and this was my first time running the Virginia 10 Miler. It’s a pretty historic race: 44 years running, hosting famous runners such as Bill Rogers, Frank Shorter, Rod Dixon, and Joan Benoit Samuelson, and serving as the RRCA 10 Mile National Championships in past years.
I put it on my schedule when the elite coordinator reached out to my running team, GRC, to see if there was any interest. They offer a very generous prize purse, including American-only prize money and time bonuses. With around 4,000 runners, they typically have a competitive field, including plenty of foreign-born athletes who seek out this kind of race.
I ran 82 miles the week of the race, but did cut back the two days preceding it, hoping to be rested. I wanted to run well here; halfway through my marathon training, this would be a good test to see where my fitness was. As a seeded runner, I also wanted to live up to expectations. This was my first 10 miler in quite a long time, and my first race as an invited athlete since I ran the 2016 Jacksonville half marathon leading up to the 2016 Marathon Trials.
Fast forward to race morning. As I stood at the start line with the other invited athletes, I felt completely out of place. Maybe because I had been out of it for so long, or maybe because they all looked so much younger than me. All I could think was, “I’m a 38 year old mother of 3. This is so not my scene anymore.”
It’s an extremely hilly out-and-back course. The first 1.5 miles are steep downhill, next few miles rolling, then turn around to end with the last 1.5 up. Not a flat part the entire way. I went out controlled, and unfortunately stayed that way the entire race. I never really let loose to take advantage of the long downhills. My plan was to pick it up at the turnaround point, but I never did. I stayed consistent throughout the race, and wasn’t bothered by the long uphill to the finish because I usually run hilly routes pushing a single, double, or triple running stroller.
I ended up finishing in a lackluster 62:38, 6:16 pace, for 15th overall female and first in my age group. Winning my age group just made me feel old. I was disappointed in myself because I didn’t race. Even my husband said at the finish I looked like I was just out running. On my 45-minute post-race run I headed over to the track and did 12 x 100 m hard just because I felt like I had too much left. I know it was the reoccurring negative thought “I’m a 38 year old mother of 3. This is so not my scene anymore,” that plagued me throughout the race. It didn’t help, either, that after being away from racing for so long and training completely by myself, I forgot how to really get out of my comfort zone to race.
Army 10 Miler, Washington, D.C., Oct. 8
After the Virginia 10 Miler, I took a last-minute trip to England with my husband, bringing baby and leaving my two oldest with my parents. I barely ran during the eight days, apart from 30 minutes here and there. This was partly because it rained almost the entire time we were there, and partly because I didn’t want to turn our vacation into my training trip. It’s just hard for me to train when I’m out of my routine. To help alleviate the effects of reduced training, I sandwiched the trip with a 20 miler/workout the day before I left and a 22 miler the day after I returned.
Physically, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel given the disruption of travel and lack of actual training the preceding week and a half before the race. I had logistical stress with finding last minute childcare since my husband was recalled to work and I was stranded in D.C. with my kids before the race. But that didn’t matter. My goal for this race was to race. I went into it with the expectation that to race meant I was going to feel bad. So no matter what the circumstances leading into the race, even if they were perfect, I should feel bad if I were racing hard.
This is a HUGE race (35,000 people) that I’ve run many times over the years. It’s always a fast field bringing many of the local elites out. Once you get through the masses to the starting line, it’s a fun race. Nice course, plenty of crowd support. It was fun to see many old Army friends before and after the race.
I ended up finishing in another lackluster 61:55, 6:12 pace, for 10th female, 5th in my age group. Finishing 5th in my age group instead of 1st in the VA 10 miler actually made me feel much better — there was hope that maybe I wasn’t too old and slow, getting beaten by plenty of women my age! But I was much happier about my effort than the VA 10 Miler. I’d give myself a 6.5/10 as far as competitive race focus. I went out somewhat hard but in control, ran the first few miles well, then lost focus a bit between 4-7 when I was passed by five women. Between miles 7-8 I stopped feeling sorry for myself, got my head back into the game, and reeled a few in. Played back and forth with two of them for the remaining 2 miles, and finished feeling like I actually raced.
Afterwards everyone was talking about how horrible the conditions were. I didn’t think it was that bad, maybe because it always seems hot and humid in North Carolina, but I’ll take that as an excuse for the slow time (the top times were significantly slower than they have been in years). They actually stopped official timing for the race two hours after the start, rerouted runners a shorter distance to the finish, and downgraded it to a recreational run.
The Army 10 miler was five weeks before Richmond (Nov. 11), which is really just 3 weeks of training followed by a taper. I feel like my training is going well, but I don’t have the confidence I need from my races. Granted, the first 10 miler was a slow, hilly course, and the second 10 miler was in slow conditions, but I don’t like to justify my results. I need fast times to validate my training. And running two 10 milers around marathon pace doesn’t make me feel well prepared.
Update: A few weeks after the Army 10 Miler I ran several 5Ks, and another 10 miler. My goal for each was to really race, regardless of the conditions and competition, and get back into a mindset of really pushing myself. The 10 miler I entered at the end of my last high mileage week ended up being exactly what I needed. I ran faster than my two earlier key race 10 miler efforts, but most importantly, pushed myself to the end even when running solo for the final 7 miles. None of these races were lightning fast, but they did boost my confidence by getting back into a racing mindset.
Any suggestions for building confidence if your race results aren’t what you’re hoping for?
I felt great getting in one more week of high mileage. Many people take a 3-week taper, but after trying that for my first few marathons decided that wasn’t for me. I usually do better with a 2-week taper, but am going even shorter this time- most likely 10 days. When training for the 2012 Marathon Olympic Trials, I caught a bad case of the flu less than two months before the race, and missed an entire week of any exercise. A coach recommended I compensate by shortening my taper, since I already had a long rest period, and I did. It seemed to work, and since I had a stretch a few weeks ago with very little running while traveling, I’m going with the same approach.
I also had 2 races this week to report on. And they were good ones- I feel like I’ve finally gotten my MoJo back! After lackluster races where I didn’t really feel like I was racing, I finally broke through and remembered how to push myself again. Reminding myself that racing is hard, running fast does not feel good, and racing should be on a different plane than training.
Sunday 10/22: 8 miles. Was still feeling sick when I woke up in the morning, but finally seemed to shake it so headed out for a tester run in the evening. Felt good to be outside so made it an hour.
Monday 10/23: 24 mile day. Make up for my missed long run over the weekend when I was sick. 2:30 total w/ 6 x long hill loops around the hour mark, followed by 5 x gravel road miles at marathon pace.
34 minutes with the double stroller later in the morning.
Tuesday 10/24: 1:33 total, mix w/ triple/single stroller.
Wednesday 10/25: hodgepodge 14 miles. 30 minutes throughout the morning with the double stroller. 6 miles later in the afternoon on the treadmill from 7:30 to 6:40 pace. 4 miles total in the evening running to and from my daughter’s soccer game.
Thursday 10/26: 20 mile day. 2 hours in the early morning including a workout- 30 minutes, 45 minute fartlek on the soccer field complex, 30 minutes, 15 minutes of strides on the football field. Went home to eat breakfast and get the kids ready, easy mile with the triple to/from PreK.
Thursday afternoon loaded up the triple running stroller into the car- first time doing this, had to take all the wheels off but managed to make it fit! It actually folds up rather compactly- it’s just so wide it has to fit the length of the car, can’t fit in the trunk. Drove an hour to Raleigh for a Halloween costume run. The plan was for my kids to do the fun run, and then run the 5K with them in the stroller just to get some extra miles in. My two oldest had a great time in the 50m dash- they’ve been practicing the last few weeks by running up the driveway, so running on the flat track was fun for them!
The 5K. I’ll start off by saying this was a low-key event. 54 Registrants, no clock timer or certified course. Definitely a fun run feel. I was wearing my easy run/walking/playground run running shoes, and even forgot to wear my watch. But for some reason as I made my way to the starting line, people parted like it was Moses going through the Red Sea, and I found myself up front. Maybe they were intimidated and didn’t want to get run over with the triple wide? For some reason this kicked in my competitive drive, and I decided I needed to win. At the starting whistle I took off. Unfortunately this was a very hilly course, making pushing the kids+stroller who outweigh me up the hills even more of a challenge. I was near the front after the first few minutes, and after the lead guy quickly pulled away, played back and forth with the lead woman for the rest of the race. She’d pass me chugging up the hills, I’d fly past on the downhills/straights. She passed me on the final uphill, cresting less than 50 meters from the finish. I sprinted like I never have before, and edged her out at the finish line, finishing as first female, 2nd overall.
I have no idea what my time was but know that my effort was HARD. Hard enough that I felt slightly sick later. Hard enough that I was exhausted and went to bed early that night. Hard enough that I was so satisfied with my effort, I felt like I’d pushed myself to the limit. I was hauling. And weirdly I have no idea why, since it was a non-race race. But it gave me the confidence I’ve been looking for by knowing I could push myself like that, and that I could win while pushing the triple!
Friday 10/26: 60 miles easy in the early morning, Weymouth Woods trails. After the race the evening before, I couldn’t bear the thought of running with the stroller today, so got up super early to run before my husband left for work. Took it really easy since I had another race the next day.
Saturday 10/27: 18 miles total- 4 miles w/u, 10 mile race, 4 miles w/d.
Drove back up to Raleigh to run the American Tobacco Trail 10 Miler, which this year was also the RRCA Southeast 10 Mile Championships. My goal for this race was to see if I could feel comfortable running marathon pace. But I also wanted to continue working on my competitiveness, and thought this would be a good venue since it was a championship race.
The trail is a hard packed, smooth surface trail. Ideal for running. Shalane Flanagan trains on it when she comes back to visit her alma mater in Chapel Hill. It was beautiful weather race morning, in the mid-fifties.
Since I had zero expectations for this race, I also had zero nerves. The women start 10 minutes before the men which is really nice- less congestion, and keeps it easy to see your competitors.
At the start I quickly settled into 6th place. A lead pack of 3 went out, followed by 2 others. I just ran my own race- I didn’t want to get caught up into going out too fast or competing too early on. Went through the first mile in 6:00, maintained an even pace, and started picking them off. At the third mile I moved into the lead. I hadn’t set out to win this race, but once I took the lead, decided that I was going to. I saw a jogger out on the trail who had the slogan “You can. You will.” on the back of his shirt, and that became my motto for the rest of the race.
At the 5 mile turn around I saw two girls working together, only about 10 seconds back. I knew I needed to pull away and break them off. I ran the rest of the race like they were hot on my heels, even though I could tell by people’s cheers they were falling back and weren’t going to catch me. I raced it like I was racing, telling myself each mile I needed to gain ground. It worked, and I ended up finishing a minute ahead of second place, in 61:01.
I was very happy with the result. I ran a very even race, faster pace than I expected (and faster than my previous two 10 milers that I was much more rested/prepared for), and most importantly, pushed myself.
I was able to sneak (or rather pound) in one more relatively high mileage week. So two low weeks while I was traveling plus the last two high averages out to about 70 mpw for the month. Maybe not the smartest/most consistent way to train, but taking a bit of downtime in the middle of this marathon training cycle refreshed me both physically and mentally, and has rejuvinated my running these last few training weeks left before the race!
Sunday: 2 hour moderate pace run
Monday: My husband had to leave at 7:30, and since he would be out of town the rest of the week I wanted to get a workout in. Didn’t have many options in the dark, so ran 5 miles to the track. The track was unlocked but completely dark. I don’t do very well/can’t run very fast in the dark, plus I fell and skinned my front side on the way there and was even more cautious than usual, so decided to make my workout more of a track tempo, running 400s at whatever consistent pace I could hit. That way I didn’t have to worry about splits and could just use indiglo to check each lap. Ran 20 x 400 with 100 recovery, 400s were all 88-90. 5 miles home.
30 minutes w/ the double stroller later that morning to make it a 20 mile day.
Tuesday: 1:45 total running throughout the morning w/ various combinations of kids/strollers!
Wednesday: 12 miles total on the treadmill. I’ve been struggling w/ treadmill workouts- dreading them actually, because the few I’ve done haven’t gone very well. I feel like I’m working really really hard, but not running nearly as fast as if I were doing a workout on the track. I usually had to modify them by either cutting the workouts or intervals short, leaving me discouraged and worried about my fitness. My coach suggested dialing back my pace and increasing the overall length of my speedwork. I finally took his advice, and based my workout off one I liked from Poppy’s training log a few weeks ago (she ran her 800s at a faster, consistent interval. Since I’m pretty consistent on the track, I use treadmill runs as a chance to practice cut downs).
2 miles @ 6:15; 8 x 800 descending each rep, 6:11 to 5:45 pace, 2 miles @ 6:15. 1 mile warm up/down, .25 recovery intervals all @ 7:30 pace.
I really liked this workout and will probably do it again next week. In the past I’ve always run my speedwork much faster than marathon pace- I figure that way when I actually run marathon pace, it should feel easy! Hasn’t been working out too well for me with my recent race results (ie: the pace doesn’t feel easy), so I decided to actually do some workouts closer to goal marathon pace. I felt like I was working but strong and in control, and actually helped my confidence rather than destroying it like my previous treadmill workouts.
Thursday: 91 minutes total running through the morning, combination of triple/single stroller. 16 minutes w/ triple later in the afternoon.
Friday: 1:15 w/ the triple, strength work at the park about halfway through.
Saturday: Planned to do a long run workout, but woke up achy, chilled/hot flashes, headache. Felt awful all day. Put my running clothes on late in the afternoon thinking the fresh air would make me feel better, made it a few steps down the driveway and went back inside. I don’t feel like taking days off very often, but certainly did today. My only disappointment was that I was on track to make it to another triple digit week, but was not going to push it when sick to reach some arbitrary weekly mileage goal.
Triple digits this week! 102. I have not done this in years… I think the last time I hit 100 miles was in training for the 2012 Marathon Trials. But after low mileage the past 2 weeks (~40, and only that high because I crammed in two 20 milers) while traveling around England, I wanted to put in a heavy week. Might seem somewhat sporadic to go from 80, to 40, then up to 100, but I just get in what I can, and that can vary depending on life. I usually plan what I’m doing on a daily, or possibly weekly basis. And as I wrote in my last post, given my lackluster-marathon-paced-shorter-distance-race-results, I figured I’d just pound the mileage this week and go for quantity over quality.
How did I fit it in? Not a single super long run, but just lots of running. Sometimes even running three times a day!
Also, I started weaning my soon-to-be 1-year-old this week. Running with those knockers is hard (no pun intended!)… maybe even harder than the early weeks/months of nursing, when your body is trying to figure out supply and demand, so I’m trying to do it gradually. Add all the hormonal changes and hot flashes, I’m literally a hot mess, so why not throw in a triple digit running week?
Sunday 10/8: Army 10 Miler. Thankfully I stayed with someone who lived only 3 miles away from the race, so I ran there as my warm-up and avoided the stress of trying to finding parking at a race with 35,000 runners. Wrote about this in my last race report, but finished in 10th place, 61:55. Ran 3 miles back, showered, packed the kids up and drive 7 hours back home. Hours later wondering why my face still felt flushed found out they downgraded the race to a recreational run and rerouted/stopped timing people two hours after the start.
Monday 10/9: 2:16 recovery long run at the Reservoir. Felt like running out my disappointment from the ATM. Felt pretty good to loosen up my legs, although it was miserably hot and humid. Where’s the fall weather?
Tuesday 10/10: for some reason my alarm didn’t go off so I only had time for 2 miles before my husband left for work; ran 40 mins with the triple to take my oldest two to preschool, continued on with just baby in there for 35 more minutes. Humidity was still miserable.
Wednesday 10/11: Triple decker day, was kind of fun to break it up like this (18 miles total). 8 miles solo in the early morning. 6 miles mid-morning with the double stroller after my oldest rode her bike to preschool. 4 miles to and from my daughter’s soccer game in the evening.
Thursday 10/12: 90 minutes in the early morning — 30 min w/u, fartlek on the road: 15 min (5 recovery), 10 min (5 recovery), 5 min, 20 w/d. Typically I like to stay off the road and on softer surfaces for speedwork, but it’s not getting light enough for me to be able to run anywhere safely at that time except the road. 4 miles in the evening to and from my daughter’s soccer game.
Friday 10/13: 1:15 moderate pace around town.
Saturday 10/14: Found a 5K only 30 minutes away, so wanted to run it for speedwork, and to continue working on getting back into racing. 40 min w/u & 31 min w/d + strides. Race went well- I felt surprisingly strong/fast after a high mileage week. I ran the first mile in 5:45, and then the next two were faster (5:07-5:12 range). I didn’t want to break it to the high schoolers high fiving themselves after the race that the course must have been short. A little disappointing that I couldn’t get an accurate 5K time, but based off what I think was an accurate first mile, and how I felt, I think I would have been under 18. And the bonus? I won free Chick-fil-A every week for a year!!!
Have a lot going on in this one, so I’ll break it down into three sections: significant changes with baby turning 10 months, 10 weeks until marathon time, and a race that unfortunately did not feel like a race!
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