Wednesday, September 16, 2015


I was working on a post for this week's Wednesday Word: cautious. I'm not, by nature a cautious person, and I was struggling with this post a little bit. I was going to write about pushing through a tough race, leaving it all on the course. That's how I roll.

But then something happened.

My colleague, a nurse practitioner with whom I share an office lost her husband this week. She woke up to get ready for work, and found him unresponsive. He was young, healthy and his passing was completely unexpected.

Can you even imagine?

Once again, life gives me a reality check.

What if today was your last day?

What would you do differently? Is there anything you'd want to do?

We all joke about having a bucket list. At least I do...although it's no joke to me.

I'm in my 50s, and I'm starting to think about my mortality. I'm not being morbid. I'm being realistic. We only get one trip around the sun. So I say, no regrets. I want to leave this life knowing that I did everything I wanted to do. And I want to be remembered for that. Yep, "she lived life to the fullest."

Yet, many of us live a life of fear.

"I can't do that...I might get hurt...I can't afford it..."--qualifying for Boston, running Big Sur, going to Hawaii...retiring on a lake in Wisconsin. You can probably name other things. These are my current bucket list items.

You're right. You might get hurt. You might go broke. And then might not.

Life's too short.

Take the trip. Run the race. Buy the house. Love more. Live more. Chase your dreams. Appreciate what you have.

At the end, who's keeping track? There are no prizes for having the cleanest house...the biggest bank account....sure, people might remember that stuff, but is it important?

What do you want people to remember about you? What's important to you?

Me, I want people to say that I wasn't afraid of a challenge. That I did big things because I didn't let my fears slow me down. Life's too short to be cautious.

I'll tell you, once again, this word prompt hit home for me. Are you cautious? What's on your bucket list?

Don't forget to check out the other posts on DebRuns.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Race Recap: Alpine Runners Half Marathon

Truth be told, I didn't know much about this race when I signed up. I was looking for a half that would fit into my training plan 4 weeks before the marathon. This one not only fit that requirement, but it was 10 minutes from my home. My friend Sara was running it too, and that was more incentive for me to sign up.

Pre-race optimism! And we were freezing!
We met in the parking lot across the street from the park where the race would start. Interestingly, I parked right in front of Sara, and she greeted me (actually made me jump out of my skin!) as I was gathering all my race stuff. We walked over to the starting line, and Sara was shivering. It was a cool, 48 degrees, sunny morning. We caught up while we waited for the race to start, and made a couple trips to the portapotties, to avoid any issues if possible, on the race course.

This is a small race field, maybe 450 runners, and I crossed the start line shortly after the gun went off. For the first couple of miles, the course meanders through the neighborhoods that border Lake Zurich. I had heard that the course had rolling hills, and that's what I encountered in those first few miles of the race. There were a  few big downhills, and I reminded myself that I'd be running up those on the way back. I fought with a side stitch for about a mile or so. I don't know why I keep getting them, but I was glad it went away.

Sara kept saying this to me after the race. Yeah, I'll give you opportunity...
Then we headed into the rural parts of the area. We ran through some really nice neighborhoods with huge homes. The hills became steeper and more frequent. I was able to power up them without any problems. I sipped my Tailwind every 5 minutes or so, and I felt pretty good. Since it was an out and back course, we started seeing the front runners about mile 6 or so. Those guys were flying!

I stopped at mile 8 to refill my Tailwind bottle. The Tailwind took its sweet time to come out of the package, and I probably was at the aid station for over a minute or two. That's something I need to figure out for the marathon.

About mile 9, after all those hills, my hamstrings really started to talk to me. I continued to power through the pain, but I started to feel kind of weird. Not really nauseous, but just a little unhinged. I tried focusing on my music. I smiled at the volunteers along this very well supported race course. I counted down the songs to the finish. I continued to power up the hills. And thought to myself, isn't Illinois supposed to be flat?

This is what I SHOULD have told myself. Rolling hills, my ass.
In spite of my efforts to stay focused, right before mile 11, I hit yet another a big hill and I had to stop and walk for a minute. I felt so badly at this point, I just wanted to quit. I may have uttered the f-word. I started having a lot of negative thoughts. I started to talk myself into first not going for my sub-4 marathon, and then eventually these thoughts morphed into me telling myself I wasn't going to run the marathon at all. I felt like I was going to cry.

A woman who had been pacing with me for the last couple of miles talked me into running again, and I stayed with her. I told myself how close I was to the finish. I thought about my son, who went back into his rugby game the day before in spite of taking a knee to the abdomen and vomiting on the field. I couldn't face him, knowing that I quit. So I kept running. Until the next hill, where I stopped to walk briefly again. I hated to do it, but I also hated how I was feeling. When I started to run again, I caught back up with my new friend, and ran with her to the finish line.

I was so glad to be finished. I caught my breath, and a volunteer put my medal over my head. I wandered around the finish area, looking for Sara. I looked for food, and didn't see much of anything. There was a 5k earlier, and I assumed that maybe the 5k runners took all the post run snacks. I grabbed a cup of water, and found the woman who ran me in. I thanked her.

Sara was watching her kids run the kids' race, and I stopped briefly to congratulate her on her AG finish. Isn't it funny how one runner can have an amazing run and another not so much?

But later when I reviewed the splits on my Garmin, I saw that I was pretty darned consistent, even when I stopped to walk. That was really encouraging to me. I placed 5th in my age group, and the 3rd and 4th place women and I were less than a minute apart. If only I hadn't wasted all that time at the aid station refilling my bottle...if only I hadn't stopped to walk...if only...

This race was a training run, and there was a lot to be learned from this run. As much as it sucked, I think I needed a run like this. When I first finished, I felt like my confidence had been zapped. But when I looked at my mile splits, and how I powered through all those hills at marathon pace--well, come to think of it, there were a lot of good things happening at this race. I just let those hills get into my head, and that's something I need to continue to work on. I reminded myself that these were great splits for such a hilly course--imagine how I would have done had the course been flat, like the Chicago marathon course! Of course, I am glad that the weather was so cooperative. If we had had the conditions from the previous Sunday, where it was 90+ degrees...I don't even want to think about how things would have gone.

I did realize that I'm pretty good at beating myself up.

Oh, and guess what song was playing when I crossed the finish line? None other than Don't Stop Believin'. Coincidence? I think not.

Onward and upward.

Have you ever had a race where you wanted to quit? What did you do to keep yourself on track? Hills? Yay or nay?

I'm linking up with The Silvah Lining and her Race Recap linkup! Check it out!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Marathon Training Week 8: Holdin' on....

This ended up being somewhat of a cutback for me, although I don't think it was intentional. Becky was out of town, and I didn't have CrossFit this week. She had planned on giving me homework, but I didn't receive a text from her, nor did I pursue it. I've been training really hard, and I thought it would be ok to take it a little easy. I don't know if that was her intent, but I sure felt better as the week went on. Physically, anyways. Mentally, I've had some stressors at work with a student as well as some minor mama drama at home. Juggling marathon training with life challenges is always tough. But the weather cooled off and...well, here's my weekly recap.

Monday: Scheduled rest day. I did do some yoga to stretch out the legs after that really tough run I did the day before. I'm participating in a 30 day yoga challenge with Beth at Running with the Sunrise, and I did 3 of the first poses all on Monday.

Tuesday: I got up with the sun to run 8 miles at marathon pace. At 6 am, it was 75 degrees and 75% humidity. Although it was tough, I ran 8.29 miles in 1:13:28, or an average of 8:52 minutes/mile. In those conditions, I'll take it.

This 8 felt like I was running in the sand.
Wednesday: I went to the studio for yoga. The theme for the class was Santosha, or contentment. It was a wonderful class, as always. We did a lot of poses against the wall, including a variation of bakasana (crow pose). If you've never been able to get into this pose, I highly recommend trying this one! I was kind of dizzy that morning, but if I moved slowly from pose to pose, my equilibrium returned quickly.

We did this variation of navasana (boat pose) with eagle legs (ardha garudasana)
Thursday: Becky had speedwork with 3 mile repeats x2 on the plan. I decided to make it a little more interesting and ran back to back 5ks. I haven't run a 5k in ages, and I wanted to see how I could do. Mother Nature cooperated too, by giving me a 60F temperature to run in. Splits: 24:47, 24:36, average 7:58 mins per mile. This is the run I needed to inject life back into my marathon training. Don't stop believin'!

This crazy weather has been giving us some spectacular morning skies! 
Friday: running rest day

Saturday: I got up early and ran a 5 miler in 53 degree weather! Dare I say I felt a little chilled? No complaints, I did this one a little faster than MP. I don't know if that was wise, considering that I had a half marathon the next day. But I took advantage of the beautiful morning to catch up on my yoga challenge too.
Warrior 1, Warrior 2, Pyramid pose, and plank for days 4-7.
After that early morning run, we headed south to my son's rugby match. Matthew was playing fullback, his dream position, where he got to do a lot of running and also defensive tackling. The team they played was really good brutal, and there were a lot of injuries. Matthew took a knee to the abdomen, after which he lost his breakfast. Towards the end of the game, he came out of the game because of the pain. He's not a complainer and I knew he must really have been hurting. He told me he wished I had brought some Tailwind so that he could have finished the came. Hey there! That's some good stuff....

Sunday: I had a half marathon on the schedule, just get my head in race mode. This one was a new one for me, the Alpine Runners Club Half Marathon in Lake Zurich, Illinois, which is about 10 minutes from my house. Easy, breezy right? I'll have a full recap on Tuesday, but let's just say that I was NOT prepared at all for the hills on this course. My first half marathon, in Door County, Wisconsin was super hilly, and I haven't run one like that since. This half was #14 for me, and if nothing else, it proved to be an exercise in mental toughness for me. Every time I approached a new hill (and there were plenty), I had to dig in and push myself up. Before I started, I promised myself that I wouldn't race this one, that it was a training run, and that was my mantra for the whole thing. I finished in 1:55:58, so I got my marathon pace. I also had very consistent splits. And I get to run 8 tomorrow morning. There's no rest for the wicked, apparently...

What song was the one that got me through the toughest miles of the race? This Skrillex and Nero remix of I SEE MONSTA's "Keep Holdin' On". Because that's what I did! Don't be put off by Skrillex, this is actually very listenable!

Another week down....and this will be my highest mileage week of training. I'm gearing up for that and hoping our temps stay moderate!

How about you? How's your training going? Any songs for me?

And as always, I'm linking up with my friends Holly at HoHoRuns and Tricia at MissSippiPiddlin' for their weekly wrap! It's a great way to see what everyone else is up to!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Book Club interview with Vanessa Runs: Daughters of Distance

I'm so excited to share with you my interview with Vanessa Runs, author of our Taking the Long Way Home Book Club book for September, Daughters of Distance! She couldn't have been more helpful to work with! 

TTLWH: What gave you the idea for writing a book about women in endurance?

VR: About three years ago I was a pacer at San Diego 100. I was fairly new to the sport but got matched up with a highly competitive runner. His goal was to finish in about 20 or 21 hours (my finish times are about 10 hours slower than that)! I was extremely nervous and almost didn’t do it, but decided to give it a shot. I did 15 miles at his pace and it almost killed me, but it also woke me up to another side of endurance.

I started looking for women who ran more competitively. At first they were hard to find, but I soon realize they were there if I dug a little. Out of curiosity, I began asking them questions about their training and racing. I spoke to hundreds of women and discovered that so many of them shared the same struggles, but each of them felt alone.

There are some memoirs out there about individual women, but nothing that really unites the themes and topics that affect thousands of women in endurance sport. I decided to make each major theme a chapter and write that book.

Most of the time I didn’t feel fit to write it. I wasn’t an elite athlete and I was still fairly new in the endurance scene, but I’m a good listener and I feel I represented these women well.

TTLWH: Do you think it’s tougher for women to compete in ultra distances as opposed to standard distances such as the half and full?

VR: I do. I think ultrarunning now is what marathons used to be for women. It was weird and taboo for women to compete in marathons, but now it’s a normal thing. I think there’s still a lot of taboos around women running ultramarathons. Some of this is self-imposed, but other times the pressures and guilt come from those around us and they are very real.

This is mainly because of the time commitment. It takes a LOT of time not only to race one of these events but to properly train for one. The hours add up and it can be a huge challenge to juggle training with work or a family or both. I think that’s why many of the women I spoke to felt so alone in their struggles. It can feel like nobody else is doing what you are trying to do.

TTLWH: Do you have a family? And if so, how do you schedule your training around family activities?

VR: I have a little family centered around trails, so I don’t experience the typical time and commitment issues. My husband Shacky was an ultrarunner before I was and he got me into the sport. We train and race together. Trail time doubles as quality time and triples as fun/hobby time. I never have to negotiate or compromise for training time.

The dog used to join us on all our runs (she trained every mile with me for my first 100 miler), but she’s very old now and slowing down. She’s 14. This is currently my main challenge. Because I adore her and she has been so loyal to my running, I’ve drastically reduced my mileage this year to mimic her declining abilities. I hate to leave her behind and she hates it too. I don’t mind slowing down since I know this might be my last year with her—I have my entire life to race again and rebuild my mileage.

We have a cat who hikes with us sometimes, but she’s SO SLOW and refuses to be rushed. Her goal in life is to follow me everywhere. We all live in a 22-foot RV and travel full-time from trail to trail. Our lifestyle is based on being outside, so training is not an issue.

Vanessa's dog Ginger
TTLWH: How is endurance sport unique to females?

VR: Women struggle with several issues that men don’t even have to think about. Topics like safety, race discrimination, guilt, and confidence. Each chapter of the book covers one of these topics and many of them will surprise you. Their stories are vivid, moving, and sometimes shocking.

TTLWH: What is your favorite memory from the trail or the road?

VR: My favorite memory is the first 50K that Ginger (my dog) and I ever ran together. We ran every mile side by side at Born to Run. She was absolutely amazing and way stronger than me. She picked up on the course markers and even redirected me when I was about to take a wrong turn. It was a side of her I had never seen before: completely wild and incredibly strong, but also a deep care for me. There’s a strong trail-based bond between us. We would race a lot more if races allowed dogs.

The RV

TTLWH: What has been your biggest victory?

VR: I’ve had a lot of great race victories, but those are minor compared to the victory of finally having the courage to be myself and follow my whims, regardless of what anyone else thinks. There’s no right or wrong way to do life, we just have to find the way that best suits us. 

TTLWH: Your biggest disappointment?

VR: In life, it’s all the time I wasted in my early 20s trying to have a socially acceptable family life and career, instead of doing what I always knew I was meant to do. I should have started traveling right after University. I guess that’s more of a regret.

TTLWH: And favorite distance?

VR: My favorite distance is still 100+ miles even though I haven’t raced a 100-miler this year. I don’t run for the physical benefits but rather the spiritual and emotional ones. Running for 24-30 hours straight takes me to places mentally I can’t get to otherwise (at least not without drugs). I run to know myself, experience solitude and to think. There is plenty of time for all of that (and more!) in a 100 mile race.

I also love the unknowns of that distance. It doesn’t matter how hard you train or what you do to prepare—there are no guarantees that you will finish. The distance forces you to take it one step at a time. Never thinking of the entire distance, but doing your best in that present moment.

There’s nothing quite like running through the terrors of an entire night alone and watching the sun rise the next morning—and you’re still running. It’s a metaphor for life and I thrive on it.

TTLWH: What is next for you? Are you done racing? Working on another book?

VR: At the moment we are camping in Colorado until the colder weather drives us out. I figure we have a couple more weeks at least. We’re at 10,000 feet elevation so we (purposely) missed the heat waves and we even got a tiny bit of snow today! I’ve been working all summer to market my books and will likely start a new one in the fall. I have several book ideas and I haven’t decided which one is next. At the moment, I’m leaning towards a travel memoir based on our last 3-4 years of full-time travel.

We are race ambassadors for the Grand Circle Trails series. Most of those events are based in Utah and they start up again in February, so we’ll be running most of those. We are constantly traveling to races, either to run or volunteer. The dog’s limited health means it’s mostly volunteering this year. I can’t stand to put her in a kennel just so I can race. I owe her too much.

TTLWH: Any advice for someone just starting to run?

VR: There is so much advice out there for new runners. My advice is to ignore as much of it as you possibly can. Run joyfully in your own space and you’ll figure it out. Don’t worry about what others are doing or not doing. Make your running yours. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not ready for a certain race or distance. If you feel ready, you are.  

Have you read Daughters of Distance? Even if you are not an ultrarunner (I am not), there is just so much inspiration to be gained from this book. My review of the book will be posted next Friday, September 18. I think you would agree with me that this is an excellent and inspiring book! Please consider reading and linking up!

And don't forget to check out next month's book: Confessions of an Unlikely Runner: A Guide to Racing and Obstacle Courses for the Averagely Fit and Halfway Dedicated  by Dana L Ayers. I'm almost done and this book is hilarious. It's also really relateable. And it's $2.99 on Amazon. If you liked Run Like A Girl, you will love this one.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Bringing Carefree Back

If you've been following me for any length of time, you probably laughed when you read the title for this post. Carefree? Really? What does this type A++blogger know about being carefree?

Well, it's Wednesday, and that means Wednesday Word with Deb Runs. This week's word prompt is carefree, and what better time than the end of the lazy, hazy days of summer to talk about being carefree? And contrary to what you might think, there is a little free spirit inside me...

Summers were pretty carefree when I was a kid. Compared to life now, as kids we weren't overscheduled and playing 14 sports at once. Actually, we didn't do much at all. I grew up in the country, and with 4 girls, my mom didn't have time to schlep us around to activities. So most of my days were unstructured, with the exception of some chores and piano lessons. I'd get up in the morning with nothing on the agenda. Maybe I'd ride my bike over to my cousins' house or to my grandma's farm where we would spend all day doing who knows what? Or I might have a friend over, and we'd spend the day swimming in the pool. Some mornings, I'd just lay in bed reading books. At night, my sisters and I would run around the backyard playing statue maker or catching fireflies. Sounds pretty nice, doesn't it? It was.

I think it would be nice...
How different life becomes when we grow up! Responsibility makes it tough to be carefree. There are work and family responsibilities. And for us runners, there's training that has to be done. I'm heading out of town in a few weeks with my sister, and I have 2 runs to do that I can't push off. My sister likes to schedule lots of sightseeing. So even vacations aren't carefree! Last year, on our sister trip, we missed the bus that was going to take us to see some plantations outside of Charleston. My sister was very upset that her plans were ruined. But me? I did an internal high 5. Downtime? Yes, please. When she asked me what we were going to do with our free time, I suggested an afternoon at the pool. And a beer. While that suggestion didn't initially go over well, it's what we did, and you know what? She said that was one of the best parts of the trip. A carefree afternoon at the pool, reading and talking.

I'll confirm it for you right now. My sister is at least as type A as me, if not more.

I like to throw a little carefree into my life as much as possible. When the boys were younger, our family vacations to Florida were very unstructured, with days at the beach or the pool. But we did schedule a few activities. We took side trips to Disney World. We saw preseason baseball games. Went to an alligator farm. Cape Canaveral.  Summers were very much the same. We took lots of road trips to Wisconsin and went boating, swimming in the lake, and waterskiing. The funny thing is, my boys never complained of being bored, even when we had lots of downtime.

February 2002, Siesta Key Beach, Florida
This summer was completely different. My oldest son got a job, and because we are a little lacking in the trust department, we stayed home for most of the summer. Sadly, there wasn't a lot of carefree in this summer. That's been a little hard on me. Because my job is so intense, my responsibilities at home at times overwhelming, I need that carefree time. Marathon training throws one more activity into the mix, and this year I've found that I'm not enjoying my training as much as I did last year. Is it because I'm putting pressure on myself to meet a time goal? Or is it because I don't have a lot of downtime to relax and process everything that's going on around me? Or is it because the one activity that gives me stress relief is actually the cause of some stress for me? Maybe it's a little of everything.

Running normally makes me feel carefree. When I'm on the road, it's just me and my running shoes. Nothing in my life matters as long as I keep moving forward. Sometimes I do a lot of thinking while I'm running. Sometimes I work out life's problems while the miles go by. But other times, I don't think about anything. The best runs, the ones that are carefree, are the runs when I am in "the zone".

I haven't had one of those carefree runs in a while. I blame the heat and humidity, but maybe because lately I haven't a lot of "carefree" anywhere in my life. Life has been hitting me hard for a while. Writing this post made me realize what's been missing for me. It's time to bring carefree back.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Run Now, Beer Later!

I don't know if I've shared this on the blog, but my husband is a homebrewer. Before we had kids, he brewed beer all the time, brewing all different styles of beer and winning competitions. He also took the exam to become a beer judge, and so he's also quite knowledgeable about beer. After the boys were born, he stopped homebrewing, but has recently started up again. I'm happy about that because while I not a huge drinker, there's nothing better than a cold beer after a long, hot run or bike ride. Plus he needs a hobby.

Recently, I was offered a free entry into the latest Gone For A Run virtual run, the Run Now Beer Later 10k. The theme of the race got me thinking...what are my top 5 favorite post run beers? I put the question to my husband. And we started to argue discuss what constitutes a perfect post-run beer.

When I signed up for Chicago this year, I asked him to brew me a Wheat beer to enjoy after the race. To me, there is nothing more refreshing. There are several different styles of wheat beers. For example, a nice tall glass of German Hefeweizen tastes oh so good after a long bike ride. My new favorite example of this style of beer is not brewed in Germany, tho, but in Seattle by Sierra Nevada. Known for their excellent IPAs, Sierra Nevada outdoes themselves on this one. Kellerweis is just outstanding.

Goose Island is a local brewery that produces one of my favorite wheat beers, 312. Now owned by Anheuser Busch, my husband is still grieving that change of ownership. This so called "urban wheat ale" (an american pale wheat ale) is featured at the finish line of the Chicago Marathon, and is the perfect reward for a long, hard run on the city streets.

I also like the very commercially available and very drinkable Belgian wheat style Blue Moon (made by MillerCoors). For some reason, Blue Moon is served with an orange slice. I don't understand that, because it is pretty tasty on its own.

Another beer that I love--but is not a wheat beer--is Spotted Cow from New Glarus brewery. I've talked about it on the blog before. Spotted Cow is only available in Wisconsin. That makes this beer an extra special treat. Spotted Cow is a cream ale style beer, which is similar to a lager. Except that it's an ale. And it's ale good...
Sorry about the pun...

On these 4 beers, my husband was in full agreement with me.

But when I mentioned that Lagunitas IPA that I have enjoyed the last 2 years at the CARA Lakefront 10 miler, he begged to differ. IPA (India Pale Ale) beers are made with hops, and some might call them bitter. He cited the hops, and thought that a hoppy beer wouldn't be refreshing. I don't know why not? So we looked up the IBUs (international bitterness units) and found that this beer isn't all that "hoppy". He was shocked. I was vindicated! And so this is one made the list.
My husband's idea of the perfect post run beer? A style he called Mild Ale. When I asked him for an example, he couldn't name one. So much for that. He called it a "session beer", which is a low alcohol beer that traditionally was brewed for workers to drink over lunch. No 2 martini lunches for those workers. My husband argued that after running, you wouldn't want anything high in alcohol, and that this beer would be perfect. He cited the popularity of Michelob Ultra as a post run beer. To which I said, ick. I won't drink that swill. Since I dissed his suggestion, he went off on a tangent. After all, he is the beer expert at our house. He named Guinness, which is a surprisingly low alcohol beer. But because of its thick texture and dark color, Guinness just does not appeal to me as a post run beer.

And since he doesn't run, I told him that he wouldn't know what would be a good post run beer. And so ended our conversation.

Anyways, about this virtual run.

As the race description explains: "Run, Walk or Crawl 6.2 miles". Entrants receive a t-shirt and this cool finisher's medal with a bottle cap opener. Which I plan on using as soon as I finish. I love functional bling. The Madison Mini Marathon medal also has a bottle opener! Which makes sense, because, Wisconsin...

And if you feel that you don't want to pay for a virtual race or find it indulgent, I wanted to let you know that proceeds from this race go to support the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. The fund supports members of the Armed Services and their families and has provided over $150 million in support.

Don't wait because these races sell out! By the way, I'll be running this race in Seattle! I'll have to find a tasty local microbrew to drink at the virtual finish line.

Disclaimer: I was given a free entry into Run Now Beer Later by Gone For a Run in exchange for this blog post. All opinions, as always, are mine.

Will you be joining me? Have you ever gotten a medal that you could actually use?

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Marathon Training Week 7: Ring of Fire

Coming off that great week of fast runs and cooler temps, I headed into week 7 feeling strong and ready to tackle the rest of my training. With the return of high temps and humidity in the forecast, I hoped to be able to draw on that confidence building week and push through my training strong!

Monday morning I had an 8 mile run at MP on the plan. Grateful that I had had a long bike ride as opposed to a long run the day before, I set my alarm for 4:30. When I woke up, not only was it dark, but it was also very foggy. I put on my Petzl Tikka headlamp and headed out. The LED light was so bright that all I could see is the foggy mist coming at me. It was hard to see the road. About a block from my home, I smelled a skunk and when I looked over, there was one right next to me, rearing up on its front legs. That could only mean one thing. That was the charge I needed to move it, and move it I did. When I got to the path, I saw that there were other runners there, wearing headlamps too. I started to relax, but a creepy cyclist who stared at me every time he passed me kept me on alert. I aimed my headlamp at his face, hoping to blind him. I'm not sure if it worked. I was pleased and surprised when I saw my pace on the Garmin: 8:35 miles in 1:11 for an average pace of 8:33 min/mile.

Tuesday: I headed to CrossFit for a MetCon session with Becky. When I woke up, I was really dizzy, and I considered cancelling with her. Turns out, she wasn't feeling well either. I pushed through intervals of rowing with 4 different activities: waiters lunges, box jumps, sumo deadlifts, and kettlebell swings. I drank a ton of water and Nuun. But when I got home and stepped out of the shower, the room kept spinning and I felt really nauseous. I hated to do it, but I called off work and spent the day on the couch. I felt like crap all day. Was it a virus that I picked up in the clinic? A migraine? Or those intervals? Hey, at least I got my workout in, right?
Made my heart pound!
Wednesday was yoga. Kathy's theme for the class was the breath. She led the class through a challenging series of poses, always emphasizing moving on the breath. All this yoga breathing really translates well to the road. At the end of the class we did some backbending, including wheel pose.

Thursday I had speed work on the plan, 2 mile repeats x3. I wanted to get out early, but my youngest son was struggling with his asthma and allergies, and I needed to get him settled before I headed out. When I got to the path, it was already 77 degrees. Add in the humidity, and it was really uncomfortable. The first 2 miles went pretty well, and I thought to myself that maybe, I got this heat thing! Miles 3 and 4 were tough. Before I started on my last interval, I gave myself a little more walking time, and stopped at the drinking fountain for lots of water. I considered stopping after 4, because I knew I couldn't maintain the split times I had for the first 2. I felt pretty sick. I finally talked myself into just running the last 2, and I did, this split one minute slower than the previous one. Because of that slow last interval, I didn't feel really victorious until I recovered and thought about staying mentally tough and not giving up. I still hit my goal pace, for an average of 8:17min/mile. And when I got in the car to go home, guess what song was playing on the radio? Yep, Don't Stop Belivin'. Coincidence? I think not...

Speedwork done. Splits: 15:59, 16:21, 17:22. Don't even stop believin'.
After I had breakfast, I headed to see Becky at CrossFit. She had me do back squats, with progressively heavier weights and CHAINS, yes chains, dangling from the barbell. The purpose of the chains was for me to keep control of the bar. When I squatted, the bar wanted to pull me back. This is great for hip stability, and also for the glutes. In between sets, she had me push the prowler. Outside. 

Friday was a rest day. After all the hard work I do during marathon training, I always look forward to my rest days. But by the end of my work day, I was really needing a run. The day was incredibly stressful and overwhelming. I was near tears by the end of the day. I won't go into details, but just suffice it to say that there was no run, but lots of wine for me when I got home.

Saturday, I had a 5 miler on the plan. No pace, no plan for this run. Just a run. My legs still felt heavy from Thursday's workout, and I had to stop after mile 1 to stretch my calves. But as I watched the sunrise, I started to loosen up. Inspired by the beautiful morning sky, I stopped to strike a pose in the park. And another. I finished this run with a smile on my face. And somehow, managed to eake out an MP run: 8:47 min/mile.

Warrior one. Feeling stronger as the run went on.
Greeting the sun.
Sunday: I woke up early to beat the heat for my 12 miler, and was out the door by 6:45. The temp was already 75, with 70% humidity, and I took it slow. I had to do a lot of tough self talk to push through those first 3 miles. 
My brain: "It's too hot. Go home. Give up.". 
Me: "I need this run. If I can do this run, I can do this marathon. I can't quit. It's only 12 miles. " 

About mile 4, my brain gave up, and the run became much easier. I chugged up the big-for-me hill without stopping. And made it to the gas station at mile 5.5 for a pit stop. When I came out, there was a sweaty but very attractive male runner buying gatorade. We made small talk, and I headed back out the door, a little peppier for that interaction. Hey, I may be old, but I'm not dead yet! I turned around at mile 6, and headed back the way I came. Luckily, the path is pretty shady. There was also a nice breeze. I started to struggle again, about mile 9, and those final 3 miles were a battle between my brain, which was again doing its best to make me quit, and my will to finish this thing on my terms. Which I did, 12. 09 miles in 1:51:10. In the interest of full disclosure, I did stop a few times, and my Garmin stops when I do. Hey, it's a training run...

I was so happy to be done with this run.
Even though we were back in the blast furnace, I'm really happy with this week of training. Yes, the heat and humidity made it really hard to push through all my workouts, but I got them all done without quitting. And that tenacity will pay off on the marathon course when I want to quit. Training is not always about paces and mile splits. The so-called experts say that running is 90% mental, and these tough runs in the heat and humidity were all about mental toughness. I'll need to dig deep in the last 10k of the marathon, and I'll have these runs to draw on. This upcoming week, I'm looking forward to cooler temps and a half marathon next weekend.

So what song captured this week of training? There were so many good ones, but I picked Social Distortion's Ring of Fire. Considering the conditions so many of us have been subjected to this summer, I found it fitting. "Cause it burns, burns, burns...." I sang along with it on my long run today. By the way, I do love the original by Johnny Cash, but the version by Social Distortion is a little more uptempo.

Tell me about your week! How did your training go? Anything along the road put a little pep in your step?  Any songs that made your run go faster?

I'm linking up with HoHoRuns and MissSippiPiddlin' for their weekly wrap!