Show Us Your Books – Dec 2017

I’m linking up with Steph and Jana for the first time this month for Show Us Your Books. The book linkup is supposed to be Tuesday and I’m late, but I thought I’d be able to finish this trilogy in time – still got about 100 pages to go and I don’t want to be left out!

Sometime during my transition to adulthood I lost my taste for fantasy novels. The stories all seem to be about about a bunch of bros wandering around and fighting other bros. And everyone and every place has a name like “Zxsthyrhydth” which makes me want to die. And I just can’t get the hang of the maps.

But I remember loving the feeling of getting engrossed in a magical world and I miss it. So when I heard a recommendation on a podcast for The Broken Earth series by N.K. Jemisin, I immediately put it on my library hold list. It was described as a dystopian end-of-the-world fantasy. I love that stuff.

This is definitely worth taking the time to get used to the weird language and geography. Jemison imagines a world far in the future where environmental damage has caused the earth to go through a series of near-extinction-level “Seasons,” with periods of peace in between where society rebuilds itself and prepares for the next season.

In this future, gender and sexuality are of so little of a concern that it took me a hundred pages or so to realize, hey, most of the active characters (not all) in this book are women. Most are shades of brown/black. There are a variety of sexual expressions (this is not erotic fiction, but sexuality is an acknowledged part of life.) Do you realize how wonderful it is to escape into a world where gender politics aren’t an issue?

The dystopia in this future (in addition to cataclysmic seismic events) is built around classism. The society is built on a caste system where people are born into their roles in the community. The most powerful people are enslaved, considered non-humans, and forced to use their powers to keep equilibrium and fend of environmental attacks.

This story is not an allegory or a cautionary tale, but it does have a strong point of view about what happens when people suck the earth dry of resources and when people themselves are treated as resources. There are parallels with how we now are polluting the planet without a plan to deal with the consequences. And how our comfortable Western society with cheap conveniences is only possible because people who live far away and who we don’t think about are working in factories.

But this is first and foremost a beautiful and well-crafted story that I’m happy to lose myself in. I’ll be seeking out more of N.K. Jemisin’s work in the future.

Life According to Steph
Life According to Steph

Race Recap: Christmas Rush Fun Run and Walk 10k

This race was so cold. I could see my breath the entire time. The announcer at the beginning said to watch out for icy patches. They’d tried to salt the course where needed but caution was still advised.

We arrived at the parking lot with about 30 minutes to spare, which was great because Josh prefers day of registration. Registering in advance makes him feel bad about not training. We signed him up for the 5k and used the porta-potties. I jogged around a bit to warm up and then gave up and sat in my heated car to warm up until 15 minutes before start time.

10k-ers started 10 minutes before the 5k so Josh and I separated while I made my way toward the front of the pack and tried to not freeze.

5-4-3-2-1 GO!

Mile 1 – 6:56

Dear readers, I thought I was going out at a spry, yet sustainable pace. Oops.

A mile in and I’m way overshooting my pace, running under what I usually aim for as a 5k pace during training. No bueno. I briefly contemplate whether following a 10k training plan for the first time in my life has given me super powers because I feel ok. I quickly decide to slow down and save the heroics for the end of the race if I still feel like a hero.

Mile 2 – 7:24

That’s more like it. It doesn’t feel like that much of a change in effort from mile 1, but in my heart I know I’m making a better choice. There’s a river on my left side that I assume looks really pretty when it isn’t obscured by fog.

Mile 3 – 7:22

I’m getting passed a lot. I’m right behind 2 women. From the back they look like they might be in my age group. How can you even tell? This pace is not comfortable. We run by a really fancy looking house where, inside, a dog is losing it’s damn mind. Poor puppy. It’s not going to get better for a long time.

Mile 4 – 7:24

Hey, look at me being consistent. That’s weird. Thank goodness this is the flattest course I’ve ever run in my life. In the middle of this mile we take a quick turn over a road and it’s the first time I’ve felt a little ice underfoot. Not too bad. Now the river’s on my right side and I can see a bunch of runners on the other side of it. The dog is still having a bad day.

Mile 5 – 7:33

I’m slipping. My goal average for this race was 7:30. I wonder if that first speedy mile will end up helping me or hurting me. Maybe both?

I’m wondering if I really like racing after all. How come this feels so hard but the people around me look like they’re jogging? Is this as hard for them as it is for me? Maybe I’m more of a “training” person than a “racing” person. I followed a pretty aggressive (for me) training plan. I should feel better than this, right?

Mile 6 – 7:36

Epiphany! The purpose of training isn’t to make the race feel easy. Racing is always going to be painful. The purpose is to expand your limits and find out what you’re capable of. Huh. What a cool hobby I have.

I wonder if I’m going to feel this bad for over 3.5 hours in the marathon next April.

I wish I’d taken the time to figure out why my Garmin’s been showing me lap time lately and not overall time. It would be helpful to know how long I’ve been running.

Final .2 – 7:08

Time to kick it out! There’s a final turn and then I see the finish arch. The 10k’ers come into a chute on the left and the 5kers are corralled through a chute on the right.

I see Josh on the side cheering for me. Oh thank god it’s so great to see him.

Then I see the clock. The first two numbers are 45. The next number is 5. I could actually get under 46 minutes! I give it all I have and sprint toward the finish, pretty sure I cross at 46:01.

Official Time – 45:58

Avg pace – 7:22

I’d crossed the start line 3 seconds after the clock started. I squeaked into the 45 minute range. Unbelievable. It was enough to earn me a PR by almost 2 minutes and first place for my age group. I feel like a superstar for about an hour.

Then I start thinking…I bet I could beat 45 next time…


Race Week! Pfitzinger 10k Dec 4 – Dec 10

I’m trying a new approach and journaling the runs day by day and then posting the whole thing on Sunday.

Monday: 6 miles w/4x .15 sprints and .75 at 10k pace (7:30)

Avg pace: 8:48

This will be the hardest run of the week until the 10k on Saturday. It’s funny how there’s a part of every warm up where I seriously can’t imagine accomplishing the workout. I’m sure it didn’t help that I haven’t had a rest day since last Tuesday.

My legs feel a bit heavy, but I was able to get this done. I’m no expert, but it seems strange that there’s so few workouts at 10k pace in this 10k plan. After today I’m not totally confident I can keep up a 7:30 pace for 6.2 miles, but I’ll find out soon enough!

Tuesday: 3 miles recovery

Avg pace: 9:10

I’m really tired today and extremely grateful to be able to plod along for 3 easy miles on the treadmill. Since marathon training starts next week I may not have an easy 3-miler in my future for a long time.

Wednesday: Rest Day

This was supposed to be an easy 4 mile day, but I forgot my running clothes at home. It’s for the best because I’m tired. I didn’t sleep well last night.

I’ve started sending emails and Facebook messages to the race organizers for this weekend. Their site is highlighting a race from last October and their Facebook page doesn’t even mention the race.

Thursday: Easy 4 miles

Avg Pace: 9:07

I could definitely feel the benefits of yesterday’s day off. This treadmill run felt great. I started a new show on Netflix – The Good Place, with Kristen Bell and Ted Danson (I still think of him as Sam from Cheers). I think I’m going to like it. The Kristen Bell character is dead and was mistaken for a good person and sent to a heaven-like place, but something about the place doesn’t quite make sense…

Also, today I got final confirmation that my race this weekend has been cancelled. No fear, I signed up for a new one. It’s farther away, but looks really flat and like it will actually exist.

Details of this saga here.

Friday: 3 easy miles with 4×100 strides

Avg pace: 8:40

I took this run outside today so I didn’t measure the strides. I just sprinted while counting slowly to 25. I should probably clock an actual 100 on the track one of these days so I can do these more accurately in the future.

Saturday: Race Day

10k – Chip time 45:58 – a PR by almost 2 minutes!!!!!!

Avg pace: 7:22

I won my age group you guys!!!! I’ve been coming in top 5 in my age group all year but never won. This was truly the result of a lot of hard work and also being lucky that no faster women aged 40-44 showed up. I was 10th woman overall and got beat by the 45-49 age group winner and also the 50-54 age group winner. I kind of love that. It motivates me to see how fast I can get.

I’ll post a more detailed report later this week, but oh man, what a rush.

A big point of this race was to get a realistic idea of training paces I should hit in the next marathon training cycle. According to the Jack Daniels pace calculator, my equivalent marathon pace is 8:04. I’ll just aim for 8 to help me out with my inability to do math and run at the same time.

Sunday: Rest

The Pfitzginer plan has a 4 mile recovery run today but I decided to take the day off. He can’t boss me around anymore until tomorrow when I start the Pfitzinger 18/55 marathon plan. It’s 18 weeks and peaks at 55 miles per week. Bring it on!!

Very pleased to be linking up with Tricia and HoHo again this week.


PSA: Make Sure Your Race isn’t Cancelled


My replacement race for this weekend after discovering the original one I’d signed up for was cancelled

You know how last weekend I was starting to be concerned that the 10k I’ve been training for wasn’t going to happen?

By Tuesday I’d still received no emails about packet pickup or race logistics. The race website was still featuring a race from October. The Facebook page was suspiciously dormant. I sent a Facebook message and two emails to different race coordinators listed on their site. I called the number on the site twice and left voicemails.

On Wednesday I called the brewery that was supposedly hosting the race. They told me they didn’t know anything about it, but the race from October had been cancelled and they were actually hosting a funeral reception on Saturday, but if I wanted to come over later on Saturday they’d buy me a beer.

Using my google, on Wednesday I researched 10ks in my area. The closest one is about an hour away but starts at 10am and only costs $20.

I signed up for the new race on Thursday.

Also on Thursday I hunted down the race director for the cancelled 10k because they still have my money and haven’t responded to any of my messages. The race site said she owned a local gym. I went to the local gym on my way home from work and found her when she was about to start teaching a class.

She said her partner was literally at this moment on his computer issuing my refund and responding to me and she thought she had responded to my emails but she guessed it didn’t go through. I was friendly. She’s clearly got a lot of balls in the air and it’s a busy time of year.

It’s Friday and no email response and no refund posted to my account yet. I’ll give it the weekend before I go back in there and ask for a check or at least a bunch of free TRX classes.

In conclusion, I’m really looking forward to the new 10k this weekend. I’ve already received two emails from them about packet pickup and parking logistics. Despite the drive, it looks like it will be tons of fun.

Also in conclusion, when you sign up for small races make sure they aren’t cancelled.

The No-Train, No-Race Philosophy of Running


April 2016 – The last time I ran a race without a training plan and also won this cool mug


There was a period of time where it seemed like every time I drove anywhere in my town I’d see the same woman out running. She just had that ultra-runner look about her. Long, braided hair, water bottles strapped to both hands, functional running clothes that you could tell were strictly for running – no athleisure wear here.

I’ve met her a couple of times now as our kids started doing some of the same activities, the most recent being this weekend at a day-long wrestling tournament. We talked about running almost the entire day.

“I never train,” she said, “and I never race.”

In September when I met her at the finish line of a local 10k we talked about what to expect at the marathon I had coming up as she’d run it several times under a couple of different race directors. Last weekend I learned that it’s not unusual for her to run a marathon several months in a row – “If you’re always running marathons, you’re always in shape to run marathons,” is what she told me.

This woman has run Boston twice, and both of her BQ marathons she said happened because she just felt good those days. They were unplanned.

When she says she doesn’t train and doesn’t race, what she means is that she just runs a lot because she likes it and it makes her feel good. Sometimes she runs in organized events and sometimes she runs on the streets in our neighborhood.

I’ve been on some kind of training plan for over a year now. This week is the final week of a 10k plan, and next week I jump right into a marathon plan. For now, I enjoy working toward goal races, but this is a new thing for me.

When I started running in my 20s I was running 10 minute miles whether I meant to run fast or slow that day. What made me faster wasn’t tempo runs or fartleks or VO2 max workouts — it was consistency that came from just plain liking to run. I made some friends who were a little faster than me who wanted to run every day at the same moderate-to-hard effort, and I ran with them almost every weekday for a couple of years. No goal races and no training plans.

In my current running life, every run has a purpose with an end goal in mind and I’m having a lot of fun with that. But it was good to be reminded of the other ways that running brings satisfaction. It’s not an either/or situation where I either run for fun or I run to compete. When I’m doing it right, I run because the runs individually make me feel good and make my day better. The run itself is it’s own reward.




Training Log ll/27 – 12/3: Pfitzinger 10k, 1 week to goal race

This week is why I started blogging about running. I have a lot of feelings about my runs this week that I hope to not bore my family with.

Monday: Planned Rest Day

Tuesday: Accidental “Rest” day

In reality, it was go go go all day long. Work is nuts and then afterward I had band practice. So that part was fun, but it meant I was away from home from 5:50am to 10:30pm.

Wednesday: 6 miles with 8x100m sprints

Avg Pace: 8:40

I took some advice and extended my sprint to .15 miles to make up for the time it takes to push the button to get up to 9.0 speed. I did .15 miles of jogging in between at a 6.5 pace. It was fine, but I still have this feeling that if I were really sprinting outside I might be going faster.

Thursday: Recovery 4 miles

Avg Pace: 9:04

I got some tough family news on Thursday. Getting away from my desk to log some easy miles was an oasis.

Friday: 9.72 miles

Avg pace: 8:51

I worked from home on Friday. My scheduled workout was a total of 8 miles with 4×800 and 2×600 at 5k pace, 50% jogging in between. I wasn’t planning in advance on a work from home day or I would have made sure this workout was on a treadmill.

Life (and running) is weird and full of surprises.

I spent the first half of the day with a head cold. I seriously considered pushing this workout off to Saturday and doing my recovery miles instead. I googled advice for running with a cold and the consensus was that if it’s neck or above then you’re ok to run. I headed out, sneezing 5 times while walking down the driveway, giving myself permission to bail at any moment.

Within 5 minutes of jogging I was breathing better than I had all day. I decided to go for it.

I’d hoped to use the high school track, but found out when I got to it that it’s closed to the public. Onward to the middle school track, tacking on an extra 1.5 miles round trip.

This workout was hard and I loved it. My Garmin data looks bizarre because this is the first time I’ve tried to use the lap button and sometimes I accidentally pushed the pause button. Running at my perceived 5k pace outside and then being able to later see what that actually was…it was cool. My pace ranged from 6:56/mile for my first 800 to 7:08/mile for my second 800 and last 600.

Whenever I enter in ‘5k’ pace in the treadmill it’s really just a wish and hope of what I think I’d like my 5k pace to be. I feel like I got some outside validation and a reality-check on Friday.

Saturday: 4 miles

Avg pace: 8:54

My oldest son decided to go out for wrestling this year and Saturday was the first tournament. Communication between coaches and parents is not awesome so I had no idea what to expect. The schedule said the event started at 7:30am and my son had to be at the school for a bus ride at 6:45.

You guys, this event did not start until 10am. My son’s 3 matches lasted less than 4 minutes each and happened about 2.5 hours apart.

I feel very triumphant in how I dealt with this because I ran. I got my 4 recovery miles in first thing.

During the break between 1st and 2nd match I got myself a new iphone 7 because my old iphone 5 went from 98% battery life to 3% during my 4 mile run earlier. This has been an issue for a while, but it reached a breaking point. Boston training starts in a week and if my phone craps out mid-podcast during a long run…I don’t even know. The results wouldn’t be good.

Saturday: 8.1 miles

Avg pace: 8:58

I didn’t realize the iphone 7 comes with an adapter to attach normal human headphones. I used the provided-with-iphone headphones for this entire run which means I was re-shoving the left headphone into my ear every 5 seconds. I don’t even try with the right one. My right ear is special and spits out headphones like they’re poison.

The run was fine. Besides putting up the Christmas tree and cleaning the bathroom it’s the only thing I’ve done all day. But I’m having difficulty getting the Garmin app to connect to the new phone. Bluetooth is enabled. I tried deleting and re-downloading the Garmin app on the new phone. Getting the new phone to understand my running data is literally the most important step of transitioning to the new phone. If anyone has any insights I’d be most appreciative.

Next week is the last week before my target 10k. I’m concerned because the 10k is in my tiny town and I see no signs up for it and I’ve received no emails from the race organizers. There’s a part of my that wonders if it’s still on. Or maybe I’ll be the only person who registered. I mean, I could win my age group at least.

Stay tuned…

I’m linking up with Tricia and Hoho again this week for the weekly wrap up.


I Love the Treadmill


I do a lot of my training on a treadmill during my lunch break. I have some internal conflict about this because:

  1. I’m paying for a gym I only use 3-4 days per week, mostly for only one piece of equipment.
  2. Nobody else in my office works out during lunch – I rinse off in the shower, but even dry shampoo doesn’t make me look ‘normal’ when I get back to my desk.
  3. From what I read on the internet, treadmill running is inferior to road running as far as getting in a quality workout. I worry that I’m not doing running right.

However, I really do love the treadmill and here’s why.

I like to sleep. My commute is long and I refuse to wake up at 4am to get a run in at home before heading into traffic. After work I have other obligations with family and music and in the winter it’s dark by 4pm. If I didn’t run on treadmills in the middle of the workday I would not run at all.

TV. I’m a few episodes away from the series finale of Mad Men. I have strong opinions about how awfully this show treats Betty vs Don and it’s an interesting climate now to be watching a show which is basically sexual-harassment fan-fiction. Anyway, it’s pretty trashy and self-indulgent and I’m totally into it. I’m hoping Joan and Peggy burn the place down and all the men get bankrupt and thrown in jail. I watch it on the treadmill.

Forced Pacing. My Garmin lost my trust this summer when it misjudged my pace by about 10-15 seconds per mile. I also don’t trust myself at all to know how fast I’m going or to maintain a steady pace for any period of time. But with the treadmill, if the plan says 4×1 mile at half marathon pace with 2 min recovery, I can guarantee I’ll hit those paces. Also, if the plan says 6 miles easy, I can guarantee I won’t overdo it and go to fast.

Boredom Training: Intervals and Tempos on a treadmill are one thing – at least there are buttons to push – but easy runs on a treadmill are a special emotional journey all their own. It’s a powerful thing to realize that even if you’re running your easy pace for over an hour and going nowhere, that the minutes and miles still do pass by…eventually.

In conclusion, treadmills are great and very cool. Although I suspect that the people who own my gym and are always sending out newsletters about ‘functional training’ might look down on me for it, I’ll continue to do my part to wear out every belt on every treadmill while watching smutty tv on my phone and hoping nobody’s watching over my shoulder.