Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Do you challenge yourself?

Or are you content to run the same route, the same miles, at the same pace, on a regular schedule?

Or do you mix it up?

No matter how it you slice it, running is, in and of itself, challenging.

There's something to be said for playing it safe. I know that when I want to "just run", I can head out into my neighborhood and run my 5-6 mile loop without even thinking. Don't lie, you've got one too. That route where you can run mindlessly because you know where to turn every step of the way. I know exactly where mile 4 is (at the garden plots in the park) because that's where I stop to take my selfies.

Seriously. Even though it's a run, it's kind of a lazy way to run, really. But we all need days like this because sometimes, just getting out the door is challenging. On those days, it takes just about all the effort we can exert to move those feet. Sometimes it just feels good to just run.

On the other hand, I'm not going to meet any of my goals if I just run easy all the time. Besides not challenging my body, playing it safe, running the same routes, the same distances, at the same paces can get somewhat boring too. When running becomes routine, it can start to become more of a chore. That can be a challenge too, because it's hard to motivate yourself when there's nothing to excite you.

When my boys were little, that's exactly what I did. I ran the same route, 4 days per week. Back then, just getting a run in and done was a challenge. There were plenty of days that I had to push myself to get up and out the door. My husband leaves for work early--sometimes before the sun comes up--and I used to get up at 430am to get 5-6 miles in. It was sometimes scary dark out there, and I'd see coyotes and skunks in my neighborhood. That made me run fast! The roads were all mine, but the few drivers I encountered weren't expecting to see a person running, and I had to watch out for them. I felt like I could never let my guard down, running that early in the morning. Those runs weren't relaxing. The goal for those runs was to get the miles in and get home before my husband left for work.

An early morning long run, this past winter. Mile 4 at the snow covered garden plots.
It's easier to get in a run now that my boys are teenagers. I run in the morning, after I get them up for school. My only time goal is to get home to get myself ready for work. I can do speedwork, tempos, longish runs, or an easy run--whatever I need to do in the time I have. Since I do this before work, I guess it would be easier on me to just to leisurely jog around the neighborhood, on my usual routes. However, I've never been one to be complacent. I like to move it, move it! and if you've been reading my blogs for any length of time, you know that about me. I like to push myself. I've written about training uncomfortably to run faster. I do it on the road and in my training sessions with Becky. I won't lie. It doesn't always feel good to push that hard. That's what makes it challenging. But it is satisfying. To me, there's no better way to start my day than with a hard run. That's why I do it. I feel so accomplished. And that's what's going to get me a sub-4 marathon this fall.

Especially in the winter.
You know what else is challenging? Getting up in the dark of winter and running outside in the cold. I won't lie. But I know how badly I feel when I don't run and get some fresh air, so I do it all winter long. Because even more challenging is the prospect of running those miles indoors on the treadmill. Safe? Yes. Boring? Yes.

A few years ago, one of my cousins, who lives a very pampered life, asked me why I keep pushing myself. She wanted to know why I couldn't just be content with the status quo. My response? Pish posh. I bit back what I really wanted to say. And asked her the question: What fun would that be?

Here's what's fun to me: crossing the finish line of a race that I wanted to quit on and making my goal time. Last week's half marathon? In our new found warm temperatures? Woo, that was tough. I pushed myself so hard. I knew it wasn't going to be a PR. But I wanted to finish sub-2. And I did. Challenging? Oh yes! But rewarding? Yes. Did I feel like crap for the rest of that day? Yes. But would I have been happy if I had stopped to walk?

I'll let you answer that one. Priceless, right?

That was one tough race. Challenging, actually. And I couldn't have been happier with the outcome. Those tough challenges are like notches in my belt. I cross them off the list, and know that the next challenge that comes my way isn't impossible.

How do you challenge yourself? Do you mix it up? Or do you run the same route, do the same routines? 

I'm linking this post up with DebRuns--she hosts Wednesday Word, which has become my favorite link up!

And with Sheila and Diatta and their Workout Wednesday link up! Head over to all their blogs to see what everyone else is saying!

Also with Fit Foodie Mama and Wild Workout Wednesdays. So many link ups, so little time!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sole food

It's about time.

Time for a much needed break from the pounding on the road. Nothing dramatic, I'm in the midst of taking a little--2 weeks--break from running and I have to admit that it feels pretty good. This is the first time in my 20+ years of running that I've taken a voluntary break. Any time I've taken off in the past has been due to pregnancy, surgery, and of course, injury. Mostly injury. No injury now, but I have a few aches and pains that are telling me I need a rest, and I'm listening to that, for a change. 

I'm not always good at listening to my body, which is how, over the years, I've ended up with just about every injury in the book, including 2 stress fractures in my feet. Out of every body part affected by running, my feet seem to give me the most trouble. I wrote about this last year, and right now, some of those ghosts from the past are whispering in my ear. Pssssttttt:

Left heel pain? Oh, no you don't.
Plantar fasciitis? Go away.
Foot cramps? Ever get those? Will time off make them stop?
And my nemesis, my left big toe, keeps barking at me. Simmer down, old frenemy.

Coming over the bridge at about mile 11--Great Western Half Marathon
At the start of last Sunday's race, while I was really dragging, I felt some sharp pains in that toe. I adjusted my gait, but it wasn't until my legs lightened up that the pain went away. It's become very clear to me that when I'm "off", I'm landing hard on that toe and aggravating it. The pain is a reminder that I have some work to do, and incentive for me to get on the floor and do those exercises Becky prescribed:

Clamshells and more Clamshell variations;
Bicycles forward and backwards;
Supermans and more Supermans;
and more Kickbacks.
Monster walks and Side Steps with the resistance band,
Pistol squats.

All in the name of strengthening those hips. All to keep me from landing on the toe.

Side plank variation
Yoga continues, all in the name of strength and flexibility. I do a class in the studio once a week and a class at home. My toe doesn't like high lunge and I have to adjust my planks to avoid putting pressure on that joint. I used to do jumpbacks in my vinyasas...not so much anymore. Landing wrong on that toe? Ouch. Namaste.

20 miles in the Forest Preserve today!
But because I'm an adrenaline junkie, I can't not move, and so I'm riding my bike. I do love my bike, and taking it to those forest preserve paths where I do so much running helps quiet my craving for speed. Sometimes I feel like I could fly...and then a walker or a dog steps into the path and breaks my concentration. The roads around here aren't any better for riding--there are potholes and assholes--so I find if I go early in the day, the bike path is the best bet. My feet thank me for pedalling instead of running.

I pamper these hard working guys too. In the morning while I drink my coffee, I put my feet on the heating pad, to loosen them up. That really seems to help, and especially in the cold mornings, it feels great too. I rub a special massage oil called The Runners' Choice into them before I go to bed. Once a month, I get a pedicure, which has become less of a treat and more of a treatment. Plus, the pretty toenails is a win.

Finally, I never wear heels anymore--that puts too much pressure on my toes and ouch! It's just not worth it. I've become a champion of the comfort shoe. I wear Danskos to work and my used running shoes everywhere else. No more fashion for me. 

I'm hoping to avoid this!
All this for my feet. I'm feeling pretty good now, after only a couple days off. Staying on top of my foot issues has really helped. My feet feel pretty good. Have you ever noticed that how your feet feel seems to affect your overall well being? 

What I've also noticed this week, more than anything, is this feeling of contentment I've been walking around with. Overall, I feel calm and more relaxed. I don't know if it's that post race high--I felt this way after the marathon--or if it's just knowing that I'm done with racing for a while. I won't be training for anything until I start marathon training mid-summer. While I love having a goal and training for a race, I really like how I'm feeling now. I worked hard the past 3 months. When I look back, I can't believe all that I accomplished-- the workouts I did, the speedwork I put in, the miles I ran, and the races I finished. Goals were met. I feel satisfied. It's a good feeling.

PRs and AGs. Wow.

Time to pull the sled again...
In a week, I'll start running again, but it will just be for fun for a while. Marathon training starts in about 6 weeks. For now, I'll get to ride my bike more. Becky's going to have me lifting weights again. It's a great place to be. Mentally, I feel good. Calm. Satisfied.

I like it. As hard as this is, I'm really, really glad that I decided to do this, to take a break, so that running doesn't break me. I'm working on that goal I set for myself in January--to stay injury free. Because none of my other goals are achievable if I'm hurt.

Yep, Becky, you can say, "I told you so". Everyone needs time off. Because as always, you were right.

Do you ever take a break from running? Voluntarily? How has it helped you? If you don't, why not? And what do you do to keep yourself from going crazy without running?

I'm linking this post with Tara's Weekend Update! Head over to RunningNReading to check it out!

Also linking up with My Tuesdays on the Run friends, Erica, April, and Patti. Find out why taking a break is a good thing!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Virtual races

Not a problem with a virtual race!
How do you feel about virtual races?

This thought popped into my head a few weeks ago when a link for US Road Running appeared in my Facebook feed. When I first saw it, I thought this was some really official race company, and so I checked out the company's website. There are a few live races listed, but mostly virtual races with some pretty fancy medals. Many of the medals commemorate holidays. Once you register for the race, you must complete the selected distance and post your results by a deadline. But you don't have to post a finish time to receive the medal. There are 2 options for registration-a medal and a bib or a medal, bib, and race shirt. The races can be done by an individual or a group. There is a discount for groups.

Before the explosion of virtual races, there were virtual runs, usually in memory of a lost loved one or runner. A few years ago, Beth at Shut Up and Run hosted a virtual run after her cousin Sherry was killed while out on a run. While mostly a symbolic gesture, she did put a bib on her blog that runners could download and wear while dedicating their miles to Sherry. There was also the ability to donate money to the family. After another runner, Meg Menzes, was struck by a drunk driver and killed, a group of friends asked runners to dedicate their miles to Meg. The response was huge. Runners posted their miles on the group's Facebook page, which remains very active to this day. No medals were awarded for these runs--the victory was symbolic.

Here's some questions that came to my mind when I thought about a virtual race. Why do a virtual race? Do you do it for the bling? What's the point of paying to run a distance/route you normally run? Do you run a virtual for a cause? Or do you sign up but not run it at all, just to get the bling?

There are no races that fit your schedule. Back in March when I had to DNS my Florida half, I hated to waste all that training and not run a race. I was ready to go, and I looked for a local half to meet my needs. I was lucky (pun intended) to find the Get Lucky half the very weekend of my Florida race. I probably wouldn't have run that race otherwise, but it worked out just great for me. However, what if I couldn't have found a race? A virtual race certainly would have fit the bill. I guess I could have gone out and just ran 13.1 miles on my own, but having some incentive, such as a medal waiting for me at the finish, would be more motivating and fun. I know I'd try a little harder than if it were "just" a run.

Running for bling? Virtual races are definitely on the honor system. Go read Happy Fit Mama's post about her Boston Marathon experience and about how awful she felt going home with a medal she didn't earn. After you complete a virtual race, most races ask that you submit your finish times. This is on the honor system. You're not competing with anyone, so you may as well tell the truth! With some virtual races, you get the medal before you've even run the race. So the onus is on the runner to get those miles done. To me, it's like wearing a race shirt before the race. I just can't do it! Some people might not be as motivated to head out the door on their own as they would be to run a live race. But I'm pretty sure none of my readers would ever take a medal for a race they didn't run.

Running for charity? I found a number of websites that host virtual races for charity. Will Run For Bling, Races For Awareness, and Get Fit For Bling are among some of the more popular websites that host a variety of virtual runs. Skirt Sports, the company that sells really cute running clothes, also hosts a virtual race series. So you can look cute and get your race on! Some live races offer a virtual option, such as the Florida Road Races. Having participated in one of their live events, the Florida Beach Halfathon, I can say that they are a great race organizer to work with. These are all just a few suggestions, but there are a lot more opportunities out there!

I'm sure they asked me because I am Bad Ass...
I'm going to get the opportunity to run my first virtual race the last weekend in May. Gone For A Run, a company that sells gifts for runners, is hosting a virtual race series. The first race was run in April, The Log Off, Shut Down, Go Run Virtual 10k. Several bloggers that I follow participated and posted actual race reports on their blogs. I liked that and enjoyed reading them! Those posts made the races seem "real". Through Gone For A Run, I'm going to run their May virtual race, the Bad Ass Runner Virtual 5 mile race. I'm already thinking about the race course and staking out all the neighborhood portapotties. My neighbors see me running a lot and they already think I'm odd...so do I want to run through my neighborhood with a race bib pinned to my shirt? Should I wear a costume?And I'm thinking about how I'm going to run it. My 5 mile PR was last November, at that Turkey Trot I ran. Obviously, the goal would be to beat that time. For this race, it's just me and my Garmin. Should I go for it? It won't matter to anyone but me, since the results won't be official. I will be first in my AG, I can say that!

Victorious at the Turkey Trot in November last year
And that's the thing. Virtual races are as fun as you make them. I'm sure this will be fun for me. I'll finally get to run, virtually with some of my blogger friends, like Sue from This Mama Runs For Cupcakes! But it's not the same as a live event. There's nothing like lining up with a group, hearing the gun or airhorn sound, and crossing the starting line. Crossing the finish line is a thrill too, and who will put my medal over my head?

But it's a guarantee that I'll have really good beer at the finish line for this one! I'm married to a homebrewer, after all...

Anyone else running this one? Have you ever run a virtual race? Can you think of any other reasons to run one? Want to sign up to run this one with me? The dates are May 29-31. Go to Gone For A Run to learn more.

disclaimer: This race entry is being provided to me by Gone For A Run in exchange for this blog post and a race report after the race. The thoughts and opinions on this blog post are all mine! Of course!

I'm linking up with Jill Conyers for Fitness Friday! Be sure to check out what all the other bloggers are up to today.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


I don't know what happened to me when I turned 40, but I was determined to turn some lifelong dreams into reality. In my 40s, I achieved a couple of big goals. Huge, actually. I went back to school while my boys were in grade school, to become a pediatric nurse practitioner. About 15 years prior, in my 20s, I started to pursue that dream, but anxiety and life got in the way. I finished my masters' degree but never finished the coursework required for the NP program. I told my husband one day that I needed to do this. When he balked, I told him that I didn't want to be in my 60s and look back on my life with any regrets. And as it turns out, pursuing that degree was the best thing I could have done. I'm working in the job of my dreams, in the clinic where I get to learn, teach, and care for kids. Imagine that! I still can't believe it. Well, ok, reality does kick in, but I wouldn't want to be working anywhere else. Next stop, the beach....

Retire here? If I could I would...
In my 40s, I began racing again, but this time bit off a big chunk by running my first half marathon, the Door County half, after my mom suggested it. This race is run in northern Wisconsin, a beautiful resort community where I spent all my childhood summers. What better place to get my feet wet, so to speak, in beautiful Peninsula State Park, along the waters of Green Bay? I finished that hilly half in 2:02! After realizing that 13.1 miles wasn't a big deal to train for, I ran a few more halfs. I loved the distance of 13.1. And I fell in love with long distance running. I also put to rest that nagging doubt that I wasn't a "real runner" by running the Chicago marathon at age 49. Of course, we all know that race wasn't the best outcome, but I did it, and I crossed it off the bucket list.

Door County half marathon
As I turned 50, I told my husband that I didn't know what was next. All these big dreams and life goals--including becoming a mother--done. My husband, who isn't a dreamer, just kind of shrugged his shoulders. The guy keeps me grounded. A little more than I like...

But in my 50s, my dreams became more specific to staving off old age. I decided that I didn't want the inevitable to happen--blue hair, cribbage games, wearing Depends, and crocheting doileys. I wanted to still be able to get up on one waterski and to slalom. A few summers ago, at the urging of my sons, I tried wakeboarding, and while it scared the hell out of me, I was pretty proud of myself that I did it. I continued to run and do yoga, but after researching what I needed to do to stay fit, I began cross training and building strength. My awesome coach Becky had me lifting enormous amounts of weights and I began saying to myself, "who's old?" I got up the courage to re-do that Chicago marathon and bested my effort from 3 years ago, finally feeling that I ran the race I was supposed to run.

Oh yeah! Who's old?
But wait, there's more?

Since then, I continue to run faster. So besides running another Chicago marathon this fall, I've put it out there that I want a sub-4 finish time. Isn't that enough?

Nope. Do you even know me?

What do you think my ultimate dream could be? What's so monumental about that sub-4? Are you over 50? Because then you might have a clue.... Dare I say it? I don't want to jinx myself....

My BQ is 4:00:00. Yep, at age 50, the Boston Marathon qualifying time is 4:00:00. For a while, I've been quietly thinking about this. A lot. I've had some pretty good successes with my races this past year, and if I'm going to do it, I think now is the time. I won't lie. I'm scared. Really scared. Never in a million miles did I ever think I could actually qualify for Boston. Until this year. I've had multiple PRs and AG awards. I'm starting to believe...

A 4 hour marathon is 9:09 mins/mile. I've been running races much faster than that. Can I sustain that time for 26.2 miles? I'm starting to believe that I can. My coach says she has no doubt I can do it. The owner of the CrossFit box where I train--himself a veteran of many marathons including Boston says he has no doubt I can qualify. I'd be over the moon if I got to run Boston. If I got there, I wouldn't care what my finish time was--just to be able to qualify for and run the iconic race? Isn't this the ultimate goal for most of us?

Yikes. That's a big dream. And that's my dream. And it's scary.

Time to pull out that mantra from last year's marathon training.

Do you have a dream that scares you?

I'm linking up to DebRuns and Wednesday Word:

And Diatta and Sheila at Workout Wednesday!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Race Recap: Great Western Half Marathon

The awesome medal lights up! Really nice bling. The AG award was pretty sweet too.

If you've been following me lately, you know that my runs of late have been tough. Heavy legs, heavy breathing, just overall feeling burned out...I wasn't exactly looking forward to this last spring race. 

This picture is from his F/S match today. Another stellar performance. More inspiration.
And then this. My youngest son, who played up to JV at rugby yesterday, and had an amazing game. He played the entire game, and was named "man of the match". I was stunned, awed, and proud of his play. When we drove home, he told me that he wanted to tell the coach to pull him, he was that tired, but that he kept going. And there was my inspiration for this race. If my 15 year old could push himself that hard, well, so could his mother.

Karen, me, and my lucky sweatshirt
With that on my mind, I headed to St Charles for my race. I parked my car at the high school and boarded one of the "shuttle busses" aka school bus for the 10 minute ride to the starting line. I needed to pick up my race packet. As soon as I got there, I saw my friend Karen, who was one of the volunteers at the race. It was so great to see her, and any anxiety I was feeling about the race slipped away. I wore my lucky "throwaway" sweatshirt, and as it warmed up, put the sweatshirt in my gear bag and checked it.

Michelle and me!

Michelle from Movin' it With Michelle found me, and we spent the hour prior to the race chit-chatting. She knew a lot of people there, and introduced me to so many of them! While we waited, I sipped on my first bottle of Tailwind. We lined up with the 8-ish minute milers, and after the national anthem was sung, we were off! 
Michelle and me...clearly orange was the color of the day for race gear!
Michelle and I ran together for about a half mile, and then I moved ahead. My legs--again--felt heavy. My breath was heavy. The first mile marker was a little early! I had my Garmin on, and at the first mile, I looked at my split: 8:45. I knew then that this race was going to be a battle. We moved onto the limestone path the comprises the Great Western Trail. The trail is comprised of 14 miles of an abandoned railway in Kane County, Illinois. For today's race, we would be running about 6 miles of an out and back on this trail. Most of the trail is tree covered, which was a good thing, because the temperature rose rapidly during the race.

I struggled with pacing and breathing until about mile 3, just like I did at my 10 miler a few weeks ago. Reminding myself of this and of my promise to my son to be inspired by his performance, I sipped on my Tailwind, shuffled along, and tried to get into a groove. After mile 3, I started to relax and enjoy the race a little bit, but it wasn't until the turn around at mile 6.5, that I really started feel loose. I'm sure it was psychological. Knowing that I was halfway home was a huge boost for me. My legs began to feel lighter. I saw Michelle and greeted her with a side five.

At mile 7, I stopped at the water station to refill my bottle. I poured my Tailwind into the bottle, and the teenager who had been helping me said, "oh, you have your own potion?" I replied "yes, best stuff ever", and he said, "Hey, as long as it doesn't make you poop!" I busted out laughing, and told him that's the reason I use it. I headed over to the one portapotty, and as soon as I got there, a Race Guard hurried in ahead of me. I waited for a minute or so, and she didn't come out. I asked her partner if they were timed for this race, and she shrugged her shoulders. Maybe I was a jerk, but I made a comment that they should let the racers go first. I was wearing my race face, and I wanted to get moving again. She just started at me, and I said "f--- it" and headed back to the trail. I kicked myself for even stopping, and realized I lost about 2 minutes between filling my bottle and my futile portapotty stop.

Interestingly, my legs continued to feel light, and I moved along the path. I caught back up to the people I had been running with prior to my stop. How did that happen? I began to pass most of them too. It was really hot, but I kept sipping, and I felt good, so I kept on moving forward. There was one guy who would not let me pass him. When I did, he sped up to get ahead of me. I was smiling when he did that, and at mile 11, a woman told me I looked so "strong"! She couldn't believe I was smiling. If she only knew why...

Mile 12 and I knew it was going to be bad. Since this was an out and back, when we started, this was mile one. A nice long downhill, I knew on the return trip that it would be painful running back up. And it was. Most of the runners I passed weren't running up the hill, they were walking. I passed my guy as few times on the hill, but once we got to the top, he passed me again. Of course. I picked up the pace about 500 yards before the finish time, but so did he. Ok fine, dude.

Best volunteer, evah! <3 And a really awesome friend!
When I crossed the finish line, there was Karen, waiting for me! She put the medal over my head and gave me a huge hug. It was so great to see her there! She walked with me to the area where they were printing out our finish times, and we found out I finished 2d in my age group! I didn't expect that--last year's results would have put me in about 6th place. Where were all the speedy old ladies? There was an age group medal too, and I had double bling. Nice.

We waited for Michelle to come in, and while she PR'd, she was disappointed that she didn't sub-2. On a day like this, a PR was pretty awesome.  I was happy with my finish time, in spite of the conditions, but still mad that I wasted all that time at the portapotty. Funny thing, at this point, I didn't have to go anymore. I didn't feel very good, and sipped on the bottle of water Karen found for me. Teri came in about that point, and she too was disappointed with her finish time. It was so tough with the heat. Since it has been so cold this spring, there was no way to prepare for this. Karen told us that several runners were taken away by ambulance.

Teri, me, Michelle, and Karen
Speaking of take away, here's what I took away from today's race:

  • I did a great job fueling and hydrating for this race. I drank 24 ounces of Tailwind prior to the race, and 24 ounces each hour, for a total of 3 bottles.
  • I paced myself well. Those first 3 miles were hard, and they were at a slower pace than I have been training at.
  • I wasted precious time at that portapotty, and I should have just sucked it up and kept going. 
  • I dug deep when the going was hard, and shut down those thoughts of quitting. Second race in a row where I had to do that, and I'm really proud of myself for doing that. I thought of my son, and how disappointed he would be (altho he'd never say anything) if I quit. Don't even get me started on how I would have felt telling my oldest that I quit. Nope. 
  • You can never have too much chafing cream. TMI, but I was scared to take a shower when I got home. I didn't scream but it was pretty painful. 
  • These smaller races are the best. Besides the AG finish, which turned out to be first place when all was said and done, there was no weaving, no issues with getting stuck behind people. Yes, more portapotties would have been great. But that's my only complaint.
  • Running friends are the best friends!!! Races are so much more fun with friends to celebrate and commiserate with.
The Great Western Half is a great race. The course is scenic, the limestone path is a dream to run on, and it is extremely well organized. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Thanks to the Fox Valley Trail Runners for such a great race!

What's next? For now, two weeks of active rest. No running this week. I'll be doing some yoga and cycling. Next week, I'll ease back into running with a few short runs. More yoga and cycling. Believe it or not, I'm looking forward to it!

Final stats:
Official finish time: 1:55:37
223/858 overall
2/43 in AG

I'm linking this post with Tara at RunningNReading for the Weekend Update!

Also linking with The Silver lining and Destination Awesome for race recap link up!

The Silvah Lining

Friday, May 1, 2015

#RunThisYear 2015 April summary

Things settled into a nice little groove for April. Although the weather hasn't always been springlike, I've still been getting it done. And it's time to summarize the month and look at the goals!

I believe that spring is actually here!
Sub-2 half: Last month, I crushed that goal I set for 2015 of the sub-2 marathon. No half marathons this month, but I did have a 10 miler in which I almost did myself in! I managed to salvage what could have been a disastrous race, but if I take nothing away from that experience, it's that I have to work on pacing myself better. Last year during marathon training, I was doing a great job with that, but now that I'm running faster mile splits, I've let my pacing get away from me. The legs just want to go.
While I was able to reign it in during the race and salvage what turned out to be a strong race, I know now that I have to focus on pacing for my fall marathon training. Kind of a sub-goal for the rest of the year. I've got my final spring half coming up this weekend. I already checked out the finish times of the runners in my AG from last year. This is going to be a fast race, and since there's not much chance of an AG award for me in this one, I'm going to work on pacing it and finishing with negative splits. Success in that realm will do wonders for my confidence heading into fall marathon training!

Marcia, Sara, and me at the finish!
Staying injury free: I'm lining up for this final spring race with a few aches and pains but no major injuries. My big toe, which gave me some trouble last year (remember the boot?), has been talking to me. I've been icing it after I run and applying my Voltaren gel when it really gets angry. The ailment is called hallux limitus which I prefer over the more common term for this ailment, arthritis, which makes me sound old. Besides, hallux limitus sounds so much more exotic.
I'm planning on taking 2 weeks off of running after this race, and I hope that will give my toe a chance to calm down. During that rest period, there will be no CrossFit, so I also am going to focus on doing those hip strengthening exercises Becky has had me do in the past. Clamshells, supermans, monster walks (resistance band), and pistol squats. Believe it or not, these simple exercises really help with my stride and keep me from landing squarely on that toe joint. It seems that for me, heel striking is probably a plus as well. Hip strengthening to help the toe? Who knew? Everything is integrated, isn't it?

Working those glutes and hamstrings on the GHD machine...
Grow the blog: The blog keeps growing! I was really excited to have Hal Higdon all in for this month's book club book review. His interview was awesome, and he shared both posts on his FB page. I found him to be a wonderful man to work with. For May's book, we're reading Tales from Another Mother Runner, and I've already heard from Dimity, who has agreed to answer questions for the blog. This has been really fun for me. In an attempt to get more visitors to the blog, I did apply to BlogHer, but was turned down. I'm actually kind of relieved, even though that would have brought me more traffic. I'm still ambivalent about putting ads on the blog. I'm all about "it's meant to be", and I truly believe that is how it is. I'm really in this blogging thing to share, inspire, and interact with other runners. That goal has been surpassed and then some. I'm so grateful to everyone who has been reading and commenting on my posts! But in the comparison game, I see a lot of bloggers revamping their blog and I'm trying to decide what to do with mine. I kind of like it...but when I see all the fancy, glossy blogs out there, I feel a little inadequate...

Controlling the mama drama: As far as things on the home front go, the month was uneventful. For April, the mama drama meter is in the green zone. I'm not saying things were always peaceful. But it was an uneventful month. And that's all I can ask for. When I mentioned to my oldest son that I was accepted into the Chicago Marathon for this 3rd time, his response was "cool". I get glimmers of hope that this guy will come around. I do have my youngest son, the one who reminds me every day through his actions and demeanor that I'm not a terrible mother. It's funny how the universe balances everything out. The hard part is trying to balance the good with the bad, to not downplay all the achievements of my youngest and not to overplay the problems with my oldest.

May is all about recovery, as well as preliminary work as we move forward on that final goal, that sub-4 marathon. Becky's got another heavy lifting cycle planned for me, so stay tuned for my reports on that! I'm also looking at a late summer/early fall half that fits into my marathon training plan. And you know I'm always game for jumping into a last minute race...

April Stats: 

Miles Run: 104.3 miles
Races: 10 miler 1:24:30, 5th in AG

The goal for the year is 1252 miles aka 2015 km!

How was your month? Did you make progress on your goals? Have you read this book? Do you have questions for Dimity? 

Linking up with Jill Conyers for Fitness Friday!