Anyone want to be Runkeeper friends?

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If you don’t track it, does it even count?

When I ran my summer marathon I wore three pieces of tracking tech: A Fitbit Blaze to record my steps, a Garmin (connected to Strava) so I could get a general idea of pace in real time, and a phone with Runkeeper audio cues set for every mile marker so I could get a second opinion on my pace.

Runkeeper was the most accurate, logging 26.35 miles for the race on the mostly straight course. Garmin recorded 27.18 miles. Strava interpreted this as 27.1 miles. My Fitbit log has me at over 48,000 steps for the day although not all of that was during the marathon. I definitely out-stepped everyone in my friends group that day.

All of this tracking is bananas and I’m paring down.

The first to go — Fitbit. More people I know use a Fitbit than any other tracking device and I like the social aspect of it, but none of these people train for races so comparing steps isn’t motivational. Heart rate monitoring and sleep monitoring were interesting for a while. I don’t actually do anything with those stats though. I pretty much know when I need to go to sleep and I don’t train by heart rate. Also, I think the Fitbit device is ugly.

Garmin: I used to only use it for outdoor speedwork, but now I’m using it exclusively for all outdoor runs, meaning I don’t also record simultaneously with Runkeeper. I do upload my data later to Runkeeper. The initial purpose was to preserve battery life on my phone, but there’s an added benefit of making me feel less like a lunatic pressing a bunch of buttons on multiple devices before and after every run. I recently discovered the lap feature which is pretty cool. I still don’t trust Garmin’s judgment about my distance, and I definitely don’t trust it’s judgment about my current speed, but I do think it’s good enough for my goals.

Strava: For now I link my Garmin data to Strava. I’ll probably delete this app soon. I know zero runners in real life who also use Strava so the social aspect is lost on me.

The winner is Runkeeper. A big reason for using this is that I’ve used it the longest so it has most of my data, but also I really like the look of the interface and how it displays my stats. I can easily see this week vs last week, or this month vs last month, or the year overall (1728.5 miles so far). I’ve used it this year to track shoes which has been really handy and surprising – those miles add up fast! So now I’m auto-uploading all my outside/Garmin miles and manually entering my treadmill miles.

Look how pretty it is!

Is anyone else on Runkeeper who wants to link up? I’m not sure how to send a friend request on this thing, but I’d be willing to find out if anyone’s interested. My username is CathJB.

 

Boston Marathon Training Kick Off Week

Here we go! First week of training for the Boston Marathon! I’m using the Pfitzinger 18/55 plan – 18 weeks, peaking at 55 mile weeks. It’s a more challenging plan than I’ve done before and includes a lot of race pace miles fit in to long runs (next week’s long run is 13 miles with 8 @ marathon pace). My goals are to feel strong in the last six miles of the marathon and to finish in the low 3:30s. This is a stretch for me, but I think it’s doable as long as the weather cooperates on race day. I know that’s a huge if in Boston.

Overall, I’m not super impressed with how things went this week, but coming off a goal race last Saturday I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I did get all the runs in at least.

Total Mileage: 33.46

Here’s that race report in case you’re interested.

Monday – Rest Day

Day 1 of marathon training calls for rest or cross-training. I planned on a noon yoga class, but my boss and boss’s boss asked for some help at 11:40 so I didn’t leave the office. Probably for the best since I’ll be taking some long lunches this week.

Tuesday – 8 miles with 4 at Half Marathon pace

It’s weird how different running feels on race day vs training days. My half marathon pace is supposed to be around 7:45. I went into this run feeling like that should be no problem since I ran faster than that for 6.2 miles on Saturday. HAHAHA! It was so hard!

I warmed up for 3 miles at 6.5 (9:13 pace) and 1% incline. Then 2 miles @ 7.8 (7:41 pace) and 2 miles @ 7.7 (7:47 pace). I had to stop and jog for .25 miles around the 2.5 mile mark so I didn’t really accomplish this workout the way it was written. I jogged the last .75 to finish up my 8 miles at 6.5 again.

Wednesday – Rest Day

Thursday – 9 miles General Aerobic

Treadmill at 1% incline. Average pace 9:07. This was very boring. The first five miles felt like they lasted one million years. Weirdly, the last four miles went by pretty fast. I’m almost all the way finished with The Good Place which is a big problem because now I have to figure out what my next treadmill show will be. Any suggestions? I only got through a couple episodes of Big Little Lies so I’m thinking of starting that up again.

Friday – Rest Day

Saturday – 4.16 miles Recovery

So….Friday was my husband’s company party and by Saturday afternoon I still had a headache and was contemplating skipping this run. I talked myself into it by telling myself it could be just a “bouncy walk” and maybe the fresh air would be good for the headache.

I was kidding myself on both fronts. When I’m running “easy” outside I run pretty much the same pace – average 8:57 per mile. That’s just how my legs move. So that was my pace for this run too. My headache did not go away, but it probably wouldn’t have gone away if I’d just sat around on the couch either. I think I made the right decision to run. I mean, it’s week one. I can’t get in the habit of making excuses already.

Sunday – 12.3 miles Medium Long Run

The Boston course has some famous hills, so I ran down to the lighthouse and back. The round trip is just about a perfect 12 miles. Up top of this post you can see the elevation change and how my pace changed right along with it. I still averaged an 8:53 mile, but my splits varied from 8:13 on that downhill to 9:50 when I turned around to go back up it.

Next week I have the entire week off work and nearly zero plans so I’m hoping to get some good cross-training in on my rest days. I was really good about doing that for the first part of 2017, but it definitely dropped in priority during 10k training. I’m convinced weekly yoga and spinning helped keep the injury fairy away though so I need to figure out how to fit that in.

I’m linking up with HoHo and Tricia for Weekly Wrap-Up again this week.

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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.

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PSA: Make Sure Your Race isn’t Cancelled

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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

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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.