Mail from Boston!

Look what came in the mail yesterday! The Boston Marathon knows who I am!!!

Last May I was at a 25k before the start and overheard a woman saying she was thinking about signing up for a marathon so she could crank out another BQ but hadn’t decided yet. Like it was no big deal for her. She passed me in the last three miles of that race and good for her, that’s really great that she’s so fast. I hope to someday be fast like that.

I didn’t start running for exercise until my mid-20s. My first 8 min mile was probably in my early 30s. It took a lot of work and focus to barely squeeze out a qualifying time.

I am so freaking excited!!

Training Log 11/20 – 11/26: Pfitzinger 10k, 2 weeks to goal race

Total Mileage – around 30 (counting a warm-up jog for the turkey trot)

Monday 11/20: 7 miles with 2 sets of 4x150m + jog 250m in between, 4 minutes jog between sets

Avg pace –  8:50

I am physically incapable of counting while running. I think I did an extra 150m. This time I did plan ahead and make sure I knew what 150m and 250m are on a treadmill. For the sprints I jacked it up to 9.0 again. I’m not sure if this experiment doing sprints on a treadmill is working out that great. I mean, tempos and longer intervals are fine, but I feel like I’m not really sprinting if I’m spending a tenth of the time messing with the buttons.

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: Recovery 3 miles

Avg pace – 9:13

My usual MO is to not run at all the day before a race, but Pfitzinger (and I think most other formal training plans) has a shakeout run the day before. My office shut down a couple hours early but the busses don’t start running until a bit later, so I knocked these 3 out at the gym on the treadmill.

Thursday: Tune-up 5k

Avg pace: 7:16 – a PR for me!

Race recap is in the post below, but amazing finish line photos above. This race is great with swag…pj pants, a cotton shirt, a medal, and the photos are free. I did maybe a mile jogging warm-up which I’m not sure did anything for me as I think had to stand in the corral for about 20 minutes. No time for a cool down run because we had to rush to my in-laws house for Thanksgiving dinner.

Friday: 7 miles

Avg pace – 8:29

This one was an example of ‘you never know what you’re going to get.’ I felt a little nauseous when I was getting ready to go out and kind of planned to phone it in, but as soon as I got outside into the fresh air I felt amazing. I usually keep my non-speedwork runs in the 8:50-9:10 range, but I was really feeling strong and since the next day was a scheduled rest day I figured I’d go with it.

Saturday: Rest Day

Sunday: 9.5 miles

Avg pace – 8:31

Today’s run was an example of the perils of procrastination. As soon as I got out the door it started pouring rain and didn’t let up at all for the entire run. I was soaked through. It was like an ice bath and a run at the same time. I didn’t check my paces until I got home again — apparently I find cold weather very motivational as this was another long run on the speedy side.

For the podcast listeners out there, I highly recommend this week’s episode of More Perfect. It’s about a case that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was involved in when she was a lawyer trying to get gender-based discrimination to require the same strict scrutiny as race-based discrimination. The case that turned the tide involved a bizarre beer law in Oklahoma. I was cheering by the end of it

I’m linking up with Holly and Tricia again for the Weekly Wrap-Up. Slowly getting the hang of this blogging thing and really enjoying the one stop shop for finding more running blogs.

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Mukilteo Turkey Trot 5k Race Recap

Please excuse these terrible photos. I’m new to blogging and my photo game is weak. Also it was raining cats and dogs this morning.

This was my 2nd time doing this race. Last year I ran with my then-14-year-old. I averaged a 7:52 pace and won 2nd in my age group. I love this race because the age groups are only 5 years wide and if you get top 3 you get a pie. It’s a store bought pumpkin pie that probably costs 5 bucks, but I love winning stuff.

After a year of training and moving up in age brackets this year I thought for sure I could get first. I don’t think I’ve ever won first in my age group. So last night I get online to check the speeds of the top 3 40-to-44 year-olds from last year and the winner averaged a 7:22 pace. Much faster, but I thought I could beat it.

This race starts at the high school about 1.5 miles from my house. It’ up a steep hill so we drove and got there about an hour before the start line. For some awesome reason, this race has a 10k elite wave that starts at 7:30am so if you want to park at the school you have to get their early because the roads get closed.

A little after 8, the elites started coming in. We cheered for the first few and then staked our claim toward near the start line. Last year was really cold and I made the mistake of not getting down there soon enough so spent the first half of the race running around people.

Even though I was only about 4 layers back from those skinny teens in split shorts that are at every race and you know they’re going to win, I was surrounded by people in turkey hats and tutus who were making plans to turn off at the 5k mark if they didn’t feel like doing the whole 10k. I know it bothers some people when there are racers who can’t self-seed, but I was up close enough that I didn’t really mind.

About 8:20 the race director counted down from 5 and blew the horn and we were off!

My plan was to go out too fast and then see how long I could hold on. Perfect execution, if I do say so myself.

Mile 1 — 7:00. “Rolling hills” hahahaha. That’s what’s advertised on the race website. There’s a slight downhill for maybe 1/4 mile and then a steady uphill until the first mile marker where it’s pretty flat. The pack thins. I’m running right behind two kids who look like they’re 7 or 8. This is pretty typical. There’s always a child kicking my butt in these things.

Mile 2 — 7:26. I didn’t realize I was slowing down this much because I didn’t check my garmin until after. The hills continue to roll during this mile and I drop one of the children. A volunteer is handing out gu which I’m momentarily conflicted about because that stuff is expensive but I don’t want to waste any energy grabbing it and fumbling with my pockets and zippers. It takes all my concentration to not slip as I swing the turnaround.

Mile 3 — 7:23. Getting passed by more people, a couple of them wearing the pajama pants that are given out as swag. One guy was in full-on high visibility gear with a light up vest. As he passes me he says “one potato, two potato, three potato, four…” I wonder if this is a term of encouragement where he’s from? Or maybe the idea is if you repeat this long enough the race will be over? I try it and confirm that it does pass the time. My lungs are burning,  but now we’re at the mostly flat part and I know it will be over soon.

Last .1 — 6:05. Right before the turn into the parking lot I see a woman coming up on my right. Oh, I don’t think so. I gun it and I’m surprised at the kick I have left. We’re neck and neck for a few seconds. There’s a dude right in front of me and I’m worried I might get stuck behind him and give her the advantage, but I’m able to pull ahead in time to nudge to the side of him and beat them both! I haven’t seen the photos yet but I’m 100% sure the face I’m making is hideous. I can’t wait.

I got my water and cheered for the other runners until Josh turned the corner a few minutes later. I was able to pull my phone out in time to get that terrible pic above of him out-kicking someone at the final stretch too. What a studmuffin!

This race has tablets available to check your results and placement right away. We went over to check it out and…

22:32…average pace 7:16. I’m pretty sure this is a 5k PR for me.

And once again, 2nd place in my age group. Seriously, old ladies. What are you doing? I was 17 seconds behind my age group winner who averaged a 7:10.

54th overall, 13th female, and 2nd out of 75 in my age group. Good enough for a free pie!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I’m rushing out the door to spend some quality time with family and share this amazing winner’s pie.

Congrats to 1st place finisher wherever you are. I’m coming after you next year 🙂

 

The Very Specific Circumstances that Lead to my BQ

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Marathon stories are kind of like birth stories in that they’re all basically the same, but still filled with personal meaning for the woman who wen through it. They’re also similar in that they’re super boring unless you’re going through the same thing. I used to scour the internet for stories of women who’d gotten their BQ. Here’s my contribution to the cache.

I’d already run two marathons and was pretty sure I was done with all that. The first time I ran the St. George marathon because I wanted to see if I could do it. The second time it was because I’d won a raffle for a free entry to Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle. I hadn’t ever strictly followed a plan. I think with those two I’d just downloaded a Hal Higdon beginner plan, ran the long runs on the weekends, and then did whatever I wanted for the rest of the week. There was no speed work at all.

A little over a year ago I got a text from my sister saying that she wanted to train to qualify for the Boston marathon and that I should do it with her. I don’t remember this part clearly, but apparently I’d told her the summer before that I would never EVER run another marathon…unless it was to try to BQ.

I’d been running semi-consistently over the previous year. Emphasis on ‘semi.’ My focus had really been more weight lifting and spinning. I had a 5 mile loop around my house I’d run sometimes, but anything longer than 3 miles on the treadmill was too boring to endure.

Then she sent me a link to the Tunnel Light Marathon. Running a couple of miles in a tunnel with a headlamp? The rest on trail in the woods? I mean, that’s pretty rad. Plus, I’d be turning 40 so I had an extra bit of cushion in my time goal. Plus, the race was a year away. And finally, I’m a sucker for any type of peer pressure. I said yes.

I needed to beat 3:45 to get in, so I set my sights on under 3:40 and cracked open my copy Train Like a Mother to start planning my next year’s worth of workouts, from 10k to half marathon to marathon.  I picked these plans because the mileage seemed doable, the workout schedule is flexible, and there are plenty of cross-training days built in so I could still take my beloved spin classes.

I committed 100% to those plans and, for the first time in my life, did regular speed work. From October 2016 to April 2017 I’d gone from lungs-burning at a single 8 minute treadmill mile to a half marathon PR with an average 7:54 pace. Speed work really makes you faster. Who knew?

At this point I was all set with 5 months to go until the goal marathon. So of course, this is when another sister, Claire, lets me know that the trip to Norway she and I’ve been talking about going on with my aunt in a few years has been scheduled for this August and I need to buy my tickets now.

There was no way I was going to be doing long runs on vacation, but there was no way I was going to skip out on the trip of a lifetime for marathon training. I’d committed to Gwen and I’d already put so much work into this process. Time to look for a new race.

I signed up for the Uberthon Oregon Summer marathon, adjusted my training schedule, and kept going.

My training paces during the marathon portion of my training were:

  • Marathon pace: 8-8:15 min mile
  • Tempo: 7:30-7:40 min mile
  • Easy/Long Runs: 8:50-9:30 min mile

Weekday runs were all done on the treadmill during my lunch breaks. Weekend runs were outside starting from my house if I wanted hills, or at the Snohomish River Trail if I wanted something flat and with no stoplights. Gwen lives on the other side of the country so we’d check in by text every couple of weeks to talk about training and commiserate. For the most part, I trained alone.

Around this time I started getting obsessed with internet articles about BQers and read the Running and Advanced Running reddits like they might have today’s winning lottery  numbers. I’m not sure this was a great idea. I became convinced that there were two few miles in my plan and started adding some doubles into my day and an extra mile here or there. The highest weekly mileage I ever hit was 55, which is still pretty moderate, but seeing as I have two kids and a full time job with a stupid commute and I’m in a band, that left no extra time for anything.

My the time I got to the taper there was no room left in my head for anything other than running and I was second guessing all my training, wondering if I should have done more and if I should be doing more or less at this time. Wondering if the weather in Vernonia at the peak of summer would end up crushing me and if I’d be able to get enough running in while on vacation to make a second attempt in September at Tunnel Light (that was still on!)

Finally, race day. I wrote a little bit about it in my first post. Most of it is honestly a blur. I had my tried-and-true long run breakfast of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and tried to relax as much as possible while Josh drove me from our hotel to the start line.

I mentally broke the race up into three portions – the first half until the peak of the mile 13 hill, the next 8 downhill miles, and then final flat push to the finish. It’s hard to be exact because of the garmin issues I was having, but around 18 miles in I was on track to finish around 3:35 or better. My dual mantras were “I’m flying” (to express how great this whole experience was) and “don’t be a hero” (as a check to make sure I kept my pace reasonable and didn’t try to pull any race day magic trick).

When Josh met me around mile 8 I was still feeling fresh and strong. Next time I saw him at mile 13 I was looking forward to the upcoming hill so I could finally enjoy the downhill portion I’d been promised. The last time I saw him, honestly I don’t know what mile it was, he told me he could tell I was not having fun anymore.

By the last four miles it was clear that being a hero was not something I needed to worry about. There was no more shade. I was hurting so I let myself walk through some water stations. Then I let myself walk just until the next tree. Then I picked a person and ran until I caught up with her and then let myself walk. I did not finish strong at all.

But I did finish under 3:40 by 5 seconds and that was enough to secure a Boston entry. I got my huge medal and some water and walked right to a shady tree where I sat and didn’t move for a really long time. I had enough battery left in my phone for a couple of text exchanges with Gwen to tell her I’d done it.

Eight weeks later, Gwen flew out to run the Tunnel Light Marathon. As expected, I couldn’t keep up any kind of training schedule during my trip and wasn’t nearly as prepared for this one. I kept up with her 8min pace for about 14 miles and then let her go ahead to finish in 3:32:26. A BQ time for her, but we found out later not by enough margin to get into the race for 2018. She’s unfortunately not old like me so she has to be really fast.

Here’s the craziest thing about this whole experience that took over my life for a year. I loved it. I thought the training was fun. It made me feel good to line up all those workouts in my planner, feel intimidated by the tough ones, and then check them off one by one. I felt really strong and I could measure how much stronger I was getting week to week. I loved checking in with Gwen and comparing notes.

Now that Boston training is only a month away I’m itching to get back to it. Gwen’s going for another BQ attempt in May so we’ll be training long distance together again. I’ve already written down my weekly workouts on sticky notes and put them in my weekly planner pages because I’m a nut.

So that’s the long version of my BQ story. My advice for anyone attempting this is to embrace the speed work. Also, if you can be old that really helps too. Peer pressure is a great and legitimate motivator. Finally, do not get a massage the day after the race. You will not want your legs to be touched. Three days out maybe, but the day after is for walking funny and celebrating.

 

Training Log 11/13 – 11/19: Pfitzinger 10k, 3 weeks to goal race

Total Miles: 41.5

Monday 11/13

Scheduled: General Aerobic –  8 miles with 8x100m strides

Actual: 8 treadmill miles. This was my first attempt at doing strides on a treadmill and it wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. Most of the miles were between 6.5 and 6.7. For the strides I did two sets of four where I cranked it up to 9.0 for .10 miles with .20 jogging in between and about 2 min jogging between sets.

Wednesday 11/15

Scheduled: Endurance – 9 miles

Actual: 9.5 outside miles, average pace 8:53. I ran outside and misjudged the distance a little. Weather ranged from cold with rain to cold with sunshine. I felt really fresh on this one and it flew by.

Thursday 11/16

Scheduled: VO2 Max 9 miles with 3×1000 and 3×800 at 5k pace with 50% jog recovery

Actual: 9 treadmill miles. The intervals were at 8.6 and 8.5. For the 1000m I did .6 miles with .3 recovery. For the 800m I did .4 miles with .2 recovery. Looking back, I probably should have slowed it down more so I could get the full 800m on the second 3 intervals. My lungs were on fire and I was dying and I’m not sure what I was thinking. I felt pretty rad after though.

Saturday 11/18

Scheduled: Endurance 11 miles

Actual: 11 outside miles, average pace 8:45. I dropped my oldest off at school for wrestling practice and headed toward the interurban trail. By the time I get there I can only run a mile on it before I have to come back, but it was nice to have a little change of scenery from the regular loop from my house.

This weekend’s Another Mother Runner podcast was about mindfulness while running. I liked the insights about mindfulness around the pain you feel and how that can actually lessen the unpleasantness. Pain is part physical of course, but a lot of it is emotional. We fear that we’ll feel pain so it actually hurts more.

I also liked that they emphasized how mindfulness is the opposite of zoning out. It’s taking in everything and observing and not being distracted by things that aren’t happening now. Worries are like the cars going by. You notice them, but you don’t chase them. I am the sky, everything else is the weather.

Sunday 11/19

Scheduled: Recovery 5 miles

Actual: Outside run with my son! He doesn’t agree to run with my often, but when he does it’s the best and schedule be damned. We ran a tad over 4 miles. Some of that was at an 8 min pace and some was walking. As soon as we started jogging he started talking about stuff going on at school and funny things that happened with his friends…it’s my favorite thing in the world.

I’m giving this weekly wrap-up link share thing a try. Thanks for hosting: http://www.misssippipiddlin.com/ and https://hohoruns.blogspot.com/

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My Running Buddy

img_0487This is my husband, Josh. He hates running. Hate may be too strong a word…but it may not be.

Josh loves races though.

Sometimes he’ll sign up for a race I’ve trained for the day before, and then he’ll run an impressive time without training at all.

And sometimes he’ll drive with me to a race course an hour away the day before the race just to scope out the finish line. Then he’ll study a race map to figure out where the best places to meet me and cheer are. Then, when he gets to those places, he’ll help the volunteers hand out gels and water and they’ll be so grateful that they’ll get his number and offer him a free entry to the marathon next year (which he’ll never accept –see above).

Sometimes he’ll ride his bike alongside me when I’m doing a twenty-mile training run. He’ll stash my gu wrappers and hand me fresh water and not even mind that I can’t hold a conversation. Then, after, even if I felt like shit during the run, he’ll tell me how fast I was and how strong I look and how sexy it is that I can run 20 miles. (Running is many things, but I’m not sure sexy is any of them.)

Sometimes, this Sunday actually, I’ll find my running shoes stuffed with newspaper because earlier I ran outside and it was wet and he read online that stuffing shoes with newspaper makes them dry out faster.

Sometimes he even runs with me–see photo evidence above. Although, not too much, because he hates it and because I’ve got training plans to follow and I like some time to myself.

On those long runs that he supports, and the races that he comes to cheer and help out at, there’s always some bicyclist on the trail or volunteer at the aid station who sees us together and compliments him on being so supportive. He always jokes that he’s not the one doing the hard work. This is actually a true and good perspective which I agree with and it’s kind of messed up that he gets praise from strangers for just showing up while I’ve been training for months just to be able to run a 20 mile training run.

But what he does to support my goofy hobby means so much to me. I don’t know why I like running so much, but I sure know why I like him so much. I think he deserves all the praise he gets.