Wednesday, July 1, 2015

June Stats/Recap

It's not the's the humidity. Ain't that the truth? Welcome July! Ye shall burn ye butts and slow down ye runs. Here's how my June shook out.

Run 47 miles. Womp womp. Onward and upward!

Bike 63 miles. Hey! It's a start.

Swim Goose egg. How did that happen?

Strength 5 coached sessions with Tribal Multisport (These sessions are so valuable to me! They force me to go and not just stand around staring at weights like a deer in headlights.)

Yoga 1 class

Races Running of the Donuts 5K, which was AMAZING and Grandma's Marathon. We all know how this went down. Le sigh.

Current Reads Thanks to travel time up to and back from Minnesota I read both The Good Girl, which I felt "meh" about and Luckiest Girl Alive, which I liked a lot. I like ya, a lot. On a recommendation from Coach Nick, I purchased Why We Get Fat. I'll start that next and then follow it up with Remember Me This Way. I'm a reading machine. (I didn't even start Mr. Murder. I just wasn't feeling it.)

Current Obsession Finding new bedding and pictures for our bedroom. I just feel the need to redecorate lately. The bedroom is still in the S.O.'s signature poker décor and I we think it's time for a change.

Current Song I feel like I should change this to current podcast. My two new favorites are Mystery Show and Hardcore History. I really enjoy listening to these during my commute. They are completely different but both very entertaining. Hardcore History may be a little boring for those of you not into history.

Current Need Phlegm free lungs. Who gets a cold in the summer!?! I think it's on it's way out though as I got in a recovery three mile run this morning.

Current Triumph I'm going with riding my bike twice this month. This is a big deal people. The longer I go without riding the more anxious I get. Yes, still. Post ironman and all. So the very fact that I rode twice this month and once with a group, I'm calling this a win.

Current Bane of My Existence Intolerance and inequality. Can I get an amen?

Current Goal Get back on track and enjoy the rest of the summer!

Current Indulgence Ok so I may have slipped a bit on the early year goal of no fast food. I was craving McDonald's breakfast so I caved yesterday morning. And maybe one other morning. I daresay it was worth it.

Current Blessings Still loving my job. I am happy to come to work, write all day long, AND not make or take a single phone call.

Current Excitement No work on Friday! I love my job, but I'm no dummy. Long weekend here we come!

Monday, June 29, 2015


Last week was a good one. I had a "free" week from Coach Jon so I didn't do a whole lot. I seem to have come down with some sort of chest funk and while I haven't had a fever or any other symptoms, I was feeling a bit run down (har har). I took the opportunity to take some walks with a friend who is running sidelined and rest.
I was still feeling off about my DNF at Grandma's but I had a great meeting with Coach Jon on Friday. We met up for coffee before work and we essentially had the same thoughts for me moving forward. I'm going to keep running and add back in the two days of strength training but the runs are going to be a little less structured. I need to have fun again as he and I both came to the conclusion that I was going through the motions and heading toward burn out. Who knew I'd get a psychologist in my running coach? Ha!
I laid around most of Saturday and tried to rest away this chest funk. I also bought new bedding for the S.O. and I and Lloyd got a new bed too.
King Size for Lloyd.
On Sunday I was up early for another coffee ride!
That's right. I rode my bike again! I hit up the "coffee ride" on Sunday, only this time the pace was faster. I have no cycling legs so it was tough. I also felt nervous being in a group ride setting again. I hung on though and really enjoyed spending time with friends I haven't ridden with in a while. The coffee ride is a 32 mile round trip ride with a delicious Cuban café in the middle. I enjoyed my café con leche and papa rellena before this group cranked it back to the car.
Sunday afternoon I went to see my Granny and then Sunday evening was a glorious Outback Steakhouse dinner with the S.O. I may have overdone it. I regret nothing.
I'm feeling refreshed, albeit still phlegm-y, but I really think a little summer fun focus will be worth its weight in gold.
How was your weekend?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Grandma's Marathon Race Report

I feel like the title of this post is misleading because, in case you don't follow me on Facebook, this was my first full marathon DNF. That stands for Did Not Finish. Le sigh.
Let's back up though.
I went into this marathon with lots of training hiccups and an injury. And due to when I began running and base building I really didn't hit any high mileage weeks. I went into this marathon with the least amount of mileage since my first two marathons. None of this is anyone's fault. Coach Jon didn't want to up my mileage too fast and because I seem to currently be "injury prone" I agree with him. Basically this training cycle was a hodge podge of random issues. Up until two weeks ago I didn't even know if I'd head to Minnesota at all.
In any event, I made the decision to go and shoot for a goal to PR. If I failed, I'd fail spectacularly. Hindsight being 20/20, I realize this wasn't the smartest move but I was relying on my strength and experience as a distance runner. This would be my eighth marathon so I felt confident I could finish.
The S.O. and I arrived in Duluth, MN, on Thursday. We headed to our "hotel." The dorm rooms at the University of Wisconsin Superior.

The dorms were a way more affordable option since the hotels in the area jack up the prices for Grandma's weekend. They were clean and comfortable. I'd recommend this route to anyone heading there for the marathon.
The city of Duluth, while not a booming metropolis, does offer a lot of great dining options, this place in particular, and everyone was very welcoming and friendly.
Our friend Meghan arrived later on Thursday and I picked her up from the airport in our rental car. She was also staying in the dorms and had trained her butt off to shoot for a BQ (Boston Qualifier). We grabbed dinner and decided to head to the expo the following morning.
After we ate breakfast and grabbed our packets we headed back to the dorms for a little nap. We wanted to stay off of our feet. Meghan's parents arrived in town that evening so she hung out with them while the S.O. and I went to a movie and then the spaghetti dinner that Grandma's Marathon hosted at the convention center. It was perfect. The meal was offered all day so you could go eat at any time on Friday. Plus, $12.99 for a full meal with no hassle was fantastic.
The weather leading up to race morning (Saturday) had been all over the place, with the exception of the thing that never changed: rain and humidity. Yuck. Fortunately, the temps kept dropping and it looked like it would at least be cool for most of the day.
Saturday morning the S.O., Meghan, and I met in the dorm "lobby" and grabbed the shuttle to the start line at 5:45 AM. Grandma's Marathon is a true point-to-point marathon so shuttle is the only way to get to the start. I tried to relax and visualize my plan. Meghan is a wonderful person to race with because she is so positive. She is a joy to be around. She and the S.O. kept things light and fun on the ride to the start. We got a great little tour of more of Duluth and it really is a very pretty town with lush green lawns and beautiful hilly vistas.
Immediately stepping off the bus, it smelled like Christmas. Those pine trees smelled amazing. Then it began sprinkling. This was fine. In fact, it was great. It was cool and breezy. For about five minutes. Then the skies opened up and runners tried to find any cover possible. There was none. We stood in the rain for a while and then realized others were cramming into the back of the gear trucks. Some people were even sitting underneath the trucks! It was sad and hilarious.
Crazy runner selfie.
As we stood there freezing I began contemplating even running. We were all soaked. Meghan was all in and ready to rock. I questioned my training and my sanity. Was this worth it? Was I going to chafe and blister all to hell? Why would I do this? At the final moment, I said fuck it. I'm going to at least start the damn thing. I'm an ironman. I can do this.
Meghan and I said goodbye to the S.O. and headed into the corral with not much time to spare. She had to run on the outside of the soft fence to get up to her designated pacing area, she was shooting for a sub-3:35. I just pushed my way through the crowd and lined up with the 3:45 pace group. Yes, I was going to attempt a PR.
I stood with soaking wet and cold runners and was a bit warmer due to our body heat but we all shivered as we waited to start. As we finally got going, I felt good. I was hitting the pace of 8:35 without problem. I stayed ahead of the 3:45 pace group for the first five miles. There were rolling hills but they were nice because they were gentle and as soon as you got up them you got the great benefit of the downhill.
I started slowing down at about mile eight and my legs began to ache. I got to mile nine and knew 3:45 was definitely a long shot. The 3:45 pace group passed me and I slowed to a 9:15. I picked it back up for a bit and ran an 8:21 mile but that really hurt and I slowed again. It was about mile ten and a half that I decided to bail at the half marathon point. I knew I could gut out another 13.1 miles but I knew it was going to hurt and there was no doubt going to be a lot of walking.
I walked through an aid station and almost kept walking until I recognized the guys from a recent Runner's World article. They have run every single Grandma's and were dressed in Steve Prefontaine era Oregon track outfits, replete with handlebar mustaches. They were very nice to chat with and they lifted my spirits. I considered staying with them for the whole marathon. But then I thought about the pain. And the possibility of really hurting myself. Again, was this worth it? Did I really want to walk/jog another 13.1 miles? Ultimately, I decided no. At that time, I didn't feel it was worth it.
I stopped at the bail out check point and said, "Hello, I'm here to quit."
After telling medical I was fine, I just knew my limits, I got onto a minivan that would take me almost to the finish line. I was joined by two other "quitters" and we discussed our various reasons for stopping. One man from Houston had tendinitis and had to stop. It was his first marathon. Ugh. The other man stopped for similar reasons to mine. We commiserated and it was nice to have them with me. We were almost to the finish and traffic was crawling. The marathon is on the main highway so getting to the finish line meant back roads. For everyone.
We were transported to another bus that did finally get us near the finish line. We would have to walk the rest of the way (about a 1/4 mile). I said goodbye to my compatriots and began the cold shuffle to get my gear bag. The worst part of a large marathon is the logistics in getting to your gear bag and back to your hotel. It seemed to take forever and I stupidly didn't check any post marathon clothing and I was freezing. Fortunately, some military volunteers took pity on me and gave me another space blanket and a golf cart ride a bit closer to the finish line.  
I got my gear and saw finishers coming into the corral and wearing their medals and the pang of the DNF began. I called the S.O. and told him to meet me at the dorms since we were in two totally different spots of the finish area. As it turned out, he ran the whole damn thing. We started with opposite plans, he was going to bail at the half and I was going to run the full. But, as luck would have it, I bailed and he finished. He said he just kept seeing how much longer he could go and at a certain point he figured, why not? I can't say I blame him. Under different circumstances, I would have done the same thing.
On the bus to the dorms, I sent Meghan a text to see how she did and didn't get a reply so I checked Facebook to see if anyone posted her time. And guess what? She ran a 3:32! She's going to Boston! I couldn't be happier for her.
We got to the dorms and showered and warmed up. We both needed to nap and after eating some snacks and napping we headed out for dinner. I overdid it on the meal and ate my feelings. After dinner we grabbed some mini booze bottles and probably broke some campus rules by drinking in the community TV room at the dorm. Ha! We met four other runners with the exact same idea and chatted about our days over our drinks and snacks. It was a really nice way to end the day.
The S.O. and I had several hours before our flight left on Sunday so we had breakfast and explored Duluth a bit more. There's a cute little downtown and again, everyone was so, so nice.
Trying to decide where a moose chair would work best in our home.
We got home late last night and I've had a lot of time to reflect on my DNF decision. I spoke to Coach Jon while I was at the Duluth airport and he noted that I didn't sound like I was having fun recently. And he's absolutely right. He said he never cares about his athletes times. He just wants them to race their best and feel their best. I suppose if I were to go back and do this all over, I'd have gutted out the last half of the marathon. I know there's many, many good reasons for me to have chosen the route I did. But, I also know that finishing would have felt good mentally.
On the plus side, I can walk today. I took the stairs up to my office. I can begin training lightly again much sooner. I can regroup and start having fun again. In times like this I think about what my dad told me about decision making. You make the best decision you can at the time and you can't dwell on it once it's done. I made my decision to DNF and now it's time to move on.
I've got a lot of fun races lined up for the fall and I think I'll sneak in a sprint tri here this summer. Thanks for reading and for the support. And for the record, I'd absolutely recommend Grandma's Marathon. The course was beautiful and they pull out all the stops for the runners. The quaint town of Duluth was welcoming and friendly. Plus, in Minnesota, if you order a bloody mary, they give you a sidecar of beer. That's so worth the trip.  

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

7 Tips to Surviving Taper Madness (And Grandma's Marathon Goals)

I admit that this training cycle has left me with a far less anxious taper than normal but some of that old crazy definitely crept up yesterday as I googled every race calculator ever made. The reason behind my current calm? I don't really know what to expect come Saturday.
My leg issue (sartorius strain or whatever) has been quiet lately and I was feeling great until last Sunday. I rode my bike, yes I rode my bike, you read that right. And that seemed to trigger some pings here and there. I got in an easy thirty minute run this morning with no issues to speak of. I'm hopeful that I can finish the marathon Saturday fully in tact and continue the rest of this summer injury free. Thus, I have two goals. The first is finish without being broken. And the second is at least go out at a PR pace and see what the day brings. The weather looks too awesome to not at least try. And if I feel injury pain (as opposed to just marathon pain) I'll stop. I didn't exactly have stellar training due to this injury, but I've certainly run at least two marathons on far less mileage.
And that's that.
Now on to that list...Here's a few tips on surviving taper madness.
1. Get off the Internet. After you read my blog of course. I am fairly certain that before Ironman Chattanooga I researched every possible outcome for my race based on every race predictor on the internet. If you find yourself getting sucked in this rabbit hole of calculations and whatnot STEP AWAY from the computer. It'll only make you crazier.
2. Don't eat crap, it'll make you feel worse. When your mileage is down, you still feel hungry, which is fine. You're about to embark on a very long calorie burning journey, so filling up the tank is fine. Just don't fill up your tank with garbage. You are not a DeLorean. You are a Ferrari. Eat like one.
3. For God's sakes man, REST. This is not something I struggle with since I am essentially quite lazy, but I know some of you have real trouble resting. Yes, you want to keep some level of activity, but you don't want to burn yourself out before the big dance. Find a new TV show, read a book, or do what I do...stare blankly into the abyss.
4. Think happy thoughts. I am a work in progress with this one. I tend to be a mega-what-if-er. "What if I bonk?" "What if I poop my pants?" "What if I get lost and run 27 miles!?!" I recently read a line in Runner's World that really stuck with me: You aren't going to win and you aren't going to lose. It's simple for sure, but it helps take the pressure off. Can you imagine being in the front!? Thank God I'm not that fast. Heh.
5. Do some easy workouts. I know this directly contradicts number three, but it's important you stay sharp. Get in some intervals and little bursts. It'll help calm those nerves and let you get out some of that extra energy.
6. Write down your goals and let it be. Sharing them or not is up to you but if you write them down it'll help you visualize what you want to do. Lots of folks do a tiered goal system and they don't have to be based on time at all. I got through several triathlons without even thinking about the clock. Writing it down solidifies your plan and stops the mental mania of "What am I going to do!?!"
7. Horizontal Mambo. Yes, that's right, have sex. I like to keep it clean on this blog, but I feel like this is important. It'll take your mind off of that race and give you more of those good feeling vibes. Wink wink.
This will be my final post until next week after Grandma's. Catch on the flip-flop!