Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I Mustache You Some Questions

I swear I really will write up The Sports Gene at some point, but Sam over at The Running Graduate tagged my in a blogger survey. Not only am I a sucker for surveys, but I have severe Thanksgiving-itis, so this is about the highest quality post my brain is capable of at the moment! (I also owe Sam a shout-out for telling me my comments were all messed up. If you wanted to comment before and couldn't, give it another try.)

Four Three Names That People Call Me (other than my real name):
-Garb (short for Garbage Disposal): My coworkers call me this (in a joking way) because I'm always eating at my desk.
Rascal: Childhood nickname from my parents, because I liked to think I could bamboozle them, even though I have no poker face to speak of.

-Becky/Becca: (Note - please don't call me either of these!) I'm always shocked how many people assume I use a shortened version of my name, even though I introduce myself as Rebecca. One of my life goals is to meet someone else in my age group who also chooses to go by Rebecca.
Four Jobs I’ve Had:
-YMCA basketball ref: Parents are shockingly competitive about four y/o basketball games, even when score isn't kept.

-Administrative Assistant: copied tax returns until the smell of toner gave me a headache
-Tax Intern: did tax returns until they gave me a headache
-Associate Accountant: manage closing activities for Information Systems

Wow, being an accountant makes this question the most boring ever! Feel free to go take a nap now.

Four Movies I Have Watched More Than Once:
-LotR: It is the best. No other words needed.
-Star Trek reboots: Sometimes I think I'm the only person who likes the excessive lens flare.
-The Lion King: Watched this sometimes three times a day when I was little.
-Marvel movies: Whatever criticism you might have for the franchise, they've done a great job making a non-comic reader like me fall in love with the stories.

Ok...and maybe more than just the stories. Let's all be real here.
Four Books I’d Recommend:
-LotR: Yes, FotR is pretty slow, but suck it up because TTT and RotK are amazing. And I promise they're so different than The Hobbit. Every time a person says they haven't read LotR because they didn't like The Hobbit, a kitten dies.
-Battle Royale: The "original" Hunger Games, and about 1000% better. Don't let the length scare you away, I blazed through it in one week.
-The Last Unicorn: I loved this movie when I was a kid (despite the fact that it always made me cry, which made Eager Feet Mom feel guilty for letting me watch it), and the book is even better. It's like a milder version of Tolkien (that's not a bad thing, to be clear). I know it's technically for young adults, but I find it beautiful.
-Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Because dry humor is the best humor.

Four Places I’ve Lived:
-Royal Oak, MI: I was born there but don't remember it.
-Canton, MI: Growing up with the best library in the state has spoiled me.
-East Lansing, MI: Go Green!
-Saginaw metro area: I don't mean to be a vagueblogger about where I live, but I don't want to be super open about it, because it would then be painfully obvious where I work and where I do most of my runs, and I'm not really comfortable with either.

Four Places I Have Been:
-New Zealand: I can't wait to go back! The country is absolutely breath-taking, and I didn't even make it to the South Island.

-Southwest: I've gone here many times on National Park trips with my parents. I can't wait until Michael and I do our marathons in those states. I could definitely see myself retiring out there.

-Germany: I'm sad that I'm already starting to lose my German. I need to get back to practice.
-UK: I went with Girl Scouts before high school, and we missed a lot of cool stuff because the other girls wanted to do a bunch of shopping and acted like going to the a museum for five minutes to see the Rosetta Stone was awful. I need to go back and see what I missed (and stalk some Tolkien sites, obviously).

Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now:
-MSU: I miss the atmosphere of campus right before a big break. Plus, you know, I miss the schedule of a college student.
-Cleveland: Because Michael is there and not here, and that is sad.
-Myrtle Beach: Because then my training cycle would be over!

And because this weather looks so much better than what we're having right now.
-Out West: I basically would always rather be out West.

Four Things I Don’t Eat: 
-Fish: Apparently I'm not allergic, but it fishy. Which rhymes with icky for a reason.
-Condiments: I prefer everything plain. Most people find this extremely amusing.
-Pop: Ok, this is a drink and not an eat, but I can't remember the last time I even wanted a pop.
-Ground beef: I don't mind the taste, but the texture really bothers me.

Four Of My Favorite Foods:
-Bagels: Especially from Panera.
-Portillos: Have some Italian beef next time you're in Chicago. You will be converted.
-Froyo: The only thing better than ice cream is pretending it's healthy and then loading it up with toppings.
-Pretzels: I could subsist on these.

Four TV Shows That I Watch(ed):
-Criminal Minds: I used to watch every week, but I gave up when they added Jennifer Love-Hewitt. Maybe I need to give it another try.
-The Amazing Race: It's pretty non-trashy for reality TV.
Because watching people roll down a hill with cheese is still more wholesome than most shows.
-The Walking Dead: I just recently got into this on Netflix. It's fantastic! I'm hoping to binge-watch some over Thanksgiving or Christmas, since it tends to wind me up too much on weeknights.
-College sports: Ok, not a show, but 90% of my TV consumption during the fall and winter is in this category, so I'm putting it on the list.

Four Things I Am Looking Forward To in 2015:
-Running in six new states: South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Montana, and Rhode I come!
-Getting out of apartments: I'm so over living in a building with other people. I think the first day of home ownership will be spent lying on the floor in complete silence, since I don't always have that luxury now.
Because yelling "Emma, stop!" over and over does not work.
-Growing in my career: Accounting in the real world is so different than school, and I love the role I have now. I'm excited to keep learning and improving.
-Getting a marathon PR: I'm training really hard right now to PR at Myrtle Beach, but I'm confident that if it doesn't happen there, it will at some point next year.

Four Things I’m Saying:
-"Why did I eat so many ?!": Girl Scout cookies got delivered Monday at work, and I'm already through box one. comment.
-"Is budgeting over yet?": It is the worst. It's technically over, except it's not. I now secretly think it never ends.
-"Is it vacation yet?": The worst part of being an accountant is lots of holidays fall right before close, so your stuff has to be ready to go before you can leave.
-"Why are you so cute?": And various other obnoxious phrases I say to my cat basically the whole time I'm home. I'm sure my neighbors appreciate the songs I sing to him.

Four people I’m tagging:
I think every blogger I follow has done jump in and do this yourself and link below! 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Run Less Run Faster: Week Four

Wow, it's hard to believe I'm already 25% of the way through my training cycle! The time has been flying by, and I'm happy to report that after another week, I'm still thrilled with RLRF. (I know I sound like a broken record, but I'm so excited that I can't help it.)

Work has continued to be out of control, and training gave me a much needed way to blow off steam. A few days I felt tempted to stay at my desk and work through lunch, but the gym refreshed my every time and help put things in perspective. Sure, work might not be anywhere near perfect, but I can still nail my workouts and keep at least a few ounces of sanity.

Monday, November 17
650 yd swim

My swim instructions were to swim and kick non-stop for 20 minutes, so I alternated between 100 frees and 50 kicks, tacking on an additional 50 free to hit my time goal. I think this is the first time I swam continuously for time, rather than resting after each interval. Going without a break was hard! When (and I'm consciously saying when and not if) I get back into tris, I'm going to have to incorporate more of this type of workout.

Tuesday, November 18
lunch - lift
PM - 3x1000s @ 5:20, 6.4 mi total

My workout called for five 1000s, but I was completely winded after the third, so I ran the rest of the required mileage easy. This was hard for me mentally, but I truly had nothing left to give, and even the easy pace felt relatively hard.

Wednesday, November 19
650 yd swim

Same swim as Wednesday, still felt just as hard.

Thursday, November 20
AM - 4 mi tempo @ 9:21, 6 mi total
lunch - lift

We got hit with several inches of snow Wednesday night, and even though the sidewalks and roads were pre-treated, they were a huge mess by the time I left work. I was afraid what the untreated trail would be like, so I sucked it up and broke in the indoor track for the season. I was the only runner, and everyone properly gave me the inside lane.

I was pretty nervous for this run, as that pace sounded like it would be challenging for me. I was certainly out of breath and needed a lot of mental focus, but I felt strong and in control the whole time. This was an awesome run for me because it showed how much fitness I've built over the last four weeks.

Friday, November 21

Saturday, November 22
20 mi long (11:11 min/mile)

I think all the stress of the week had finally gotten to me, and I just wasn't feeling this long of a run before I even started. I happened to see on Facebook right before I left that the trail was icy, and I'm glad I did, because I needed my crampons for the first 10 miles, before it got warm enough to melt all the ice. Some walkers gave me weird looks when I had them strapped to my fuel belt later on, which I thought was funny.

I tried out a new podcast and loved it (Stuff You Missed in History Class), and I was engaged for the whole run. I did take a couple brief breaks to stretch out the horrible knot I've been plagued with in my right quad and to refill my bottles with snow. I was almost upset with myself about these pauses since it made the run "not perfect," but it's been seven months since I've run that far outside of a race, so I'm going to let it go.

Sunday, November 23
Slow Flow Yoga

I was a few minutes late to class because I got stuck behind someone driving five MPH, no joke.

My whole practice felt a bit off after missing the beginning, but I tried my best to connect with my breath. I haven't had a problem with the strength portion of class so far, despite yoga being the day after my long run, but this time my quads and glutes were shaking in every pose. They still held me, but it was a struggle for sure. My hips and lower back did feel absolutely amazing when I was done.

Run Miles: 32.4
Swim Miles: .7
Lifting Time: 44 mins
Yoga Time: 60 mins
Total Time: 8:15

This coming week will be a little tricky, what with the Thanksgiving holiday. The terrible time at work will be officially over today, so I'm looking forward to taking some time to recharge, and hopefully it will reflect in my workouts.

I'm most excited to run my hometown Turkey Trot again with Eager Feet Dad. (Hopefully the course will not be .15 long this year, and I can get him his sub-30!) I'm also pumped to do my long run down in Ohio, where I'll be spending Thanksgiving. I love my path here, but I'm looking forward to a change of scenery!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Five Things Friday - November 21

I had been planning to open this post with how excited I am that work is finally winding down and Thanksgiving is almost here, except work blew up in my face and Thanksgiving might as well be six months from now instead of six days. I tried to remind myself about my last post and how I should really cut myself some slack in all areas of my life, but instead I cried and ate bagels for dinner.

However, I'm trying to take my coworker's advice and not dwell on it, so let's jump right into my Five Things.

1. People at the allergist's office are very strange creatures.

This is some weird phenomenon at the allergist's, where random people seem to congregate in the waiting room like they're there for a shot, even though they're not. I don't know who enjoys waiting rooms so much they feel compelled to spend more time in them, but that special subset loves the practice I go to.

I go once a week, and there's always at least one pair of women that will gab it up for awhile and then just wander off. Other times, I will be the only one on the list to get my shot, but the waiting room will be packed.

But Wednesday this old lady took the cake. She brought in a grocery bag filled with bills and her checkbook. She then proceeded to go through them one by one and created a giant pile of trash on the floor around her as she went. Eventually she finished and left. Why was she there is the first place? That place is seriously the Twilight Zone or something.

This is a public place, not your kitchen table.
2. People on my running path can also be pretty strange.

When I was out doing my long run last weekend, I encountered a group of four runners. They were running in a pack coming towards me, and they barely made room for me, even though they acknowledged me. (The path can comfortably fit four people across, and five is pretty doable, so it's not like they needed to cram together.) I was pretty annoyed, but I (tried to) let it go, since I had a lot of miles ahead to save my energy for.

However, they turned around pretty shortly thereafter, so they came up behind me. One of them called out on your left, so I started to move to the right (I run more towards the middle to avoid the camber), when another called out on your right. They had dropped one person at this point, so they easily could've all run side by side and still passed me, so I don't know why they decided to split around me. I then had to see the lead instigator two more times, but I don't think he noticed my death glares.

3. I got selected for jury duty (again!).

Earlier this year I was notified I had been selected for Circuit Court (for my county), which I'm on call for in December. Earlier this week I checked my mail to find that District Court (for a group of counties, including mine) has summoned me for that same time frame. I've had my driver's license since my 16th birthday, so I've been in the jury pool since the day I turned 18, and I've never been summoned before, so I think it's hilarious that I got double-summoned when it finally happened! (I also will find it really stressful until my "hardship" waiver is approved.)

4. I got my credit card number stolen (for the first time!).

I got a call on my way back from the gym Tuesday asking about a charge to a dating site based out of France (obviously not mine). When we went through my pending charges, it turned out someone had signed up for several more dating websites with my card. I check my statement every month, but I'm so glad Capital One caught it right away and got it fixed immediately. (The charges were removed from my statement as soon as I said they were fraudulent.) I'm also glad thieves are stupid and tried spending my money on something very different from my normal charges.

5. Indoor tracks suck, but not as much as I remembered.

I should probably throw a running related item onto this list, since this blog is ostensibly about running. Details, details.

We got a few inches of snow Wednesday night, and the roads were in awful shape after being pre-salted, so I could only imagine what my running path would've been like without treatment. I would've rolled with it had it been an easy run, but I knew it was important to hit my tempo pace, so I put on my big girl shorts and went to the indoor track.

It took me quite awhile to finally accept the indoor track last winter, because 12 laps to a mile is mind-numbingly awful (though still less awful than the treadmill!). I was dreading my return, remembering how terrible it had been. But it surprisingly was much better than I expected. I use my cheap Ironman watch as a lap counter, but keeping count in my head is very meditative and calming. It was just enough to keep myself from jumping over the railing.

As awful as Thursday was, I'm trying to focus on getting to the weekend and taking some time to hit the mental refresh button. As masochistic as it sounds, I'm pretty excited for my 20 miler as a way to release some stress. Please remind of this when I'm paralyzed on my floor Saturday afternoon.

True fact - it is impossible for me to overuse this picture.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Don't Be So Hard on Yourself

I had been planning to review The Sports Gene today (because I loved it so much!), but I was inspired on my run last night to write about a different topic.

I've made it no secret on my blog that I'm very Type A, and I recently bit the bullet and revealed I struggle with depression as well. Running is my way of exerting control over my life. (This is part of the reason I'm so resistant to group runs - I don't want any external pressure on my running!) All this translates into a tendency to feel down and be extremely self-critical if a run doesn't go perfectly.

There are times when my physical needs override my mental state. I was pretty bummed this summer when I couldn't keep up with Hansons, but eventually I was so overtrained and beat down that I had no choice but to back off. I've come to the realization that that wasn't the plan for me and moved on.

I've also talked about how right now I'm totally in love with RLRF. I'm able to fit in some of my other favorite activities (swimming and yoga) while still feeling like I'm getting the running preparation I need to hopefully run a big PR at Myrtle Beach.

As a quick review if you haven't been reading my absolutely thrilling weekly recaps (insert sleeping emoji here), RLRF consists of three runs a week - a track workout, a tempo run, and a long run. Each run has very specific paces to hit, based on a goal marathon time, which is in turn determined by a recent 5K or 10K time. I used a 10K time I had run a few weeks prior to starting to training, so I didn't "cheat" and pretend like I was at the same fitness level as when I ran my 10K PR.

So far I've hit my tempo and long run paces perfectly, and I'm incredibly excited. I have a lot of self-doubt as a runner and assume I will always be slow. I realize this is stupid and counter-productive, but I still think of myself as the girl that was literally last in every race in seventh grade track. It's bad enough to the point that I typically remember my 10K PR as being almost a minute slower because I'm obviously physically incapable of running a 56:08, even though I think if I had started closer to the front of the race, I could've finished even faster that day.

However, I've been struggling a lot with the RLRF track workouts. I think some of the struggle is I'm still trying to figure out how to fuel for a tough workout if I run in the morning before work. On the couple occassions I've slept in and ran after work, I've still gone to the gym at lunch to lift, so my legs are obviously a bit fatigued when I start, so it's not like I'm setting myself up perfectly for success and still failing - there are other factors at work.

The problem is, when you expect perfection, you will always be disappointed!
As of this post, I've done four different track workouts, and I've only nailed one of them. (But let me tell you, that runner's high left me floating the rest of the day!) In two other cases I've come pretty close (3/4 800s and 3/5 1000s), so it's not like I'm trying to run way beyond my ability.

This left me with a bit of a dilemma, which I contemplated as I trotted back to my apartment yesterday, tail between my legs. Should I scale my goal back? This was really tempting: I'm slow, what was I doing trying to run with the real kids? But I nixed that idea, since the tempo runs and long runs have been great, and I think those are probably much better indicators of my marathon fitness than pure speed workouts. I know leg turnover is important and all, but I have a very long way to go with building my endurance before I think this will be a major factor. Just rejecting this idea of dropping down, even before I had a new plan, was huge for me, because before any smidgen of failure led me to self-sabotage and back off, even though logic would seem to be that 2/3 faster workouts is better than 0/3.

What to do then?

I went with logic.

I know I can do the work for tempos and long runs, and I want to keep building my fitness. I've made the executive decision that I will start each track workout at the required paces until I can't any more (ie, I feel like I'm going to puke, my legs have nothing left to give, etc.), and then finish out the required mileage at an easy pace. I think a year or two ago this would've sent me into a tailspin, so I'm really proud that I've been able to get past that and look at the issue a little more objectively.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Run Less Run Faster: Week Three

While week three was only a slight build in mileage from week two, I'd go so far as to say it was a break-through running for me! I just finished reading The Sports Gene (review to come!), and one of the main points is that different people respond better to different training methods. After feeling really down on myself for performing poorly with Hansons, I now feel like it was the training method - not me.

The RLRF workouts are still pretty difficult, but I'm able to execute them while still maintaining a very positive mental attitude. I look forward to each run and sometimes even feel a little antsy. (I felt quite lost on Friday without a workout to do!) A common complaint I saw about RLRF was that people to start to miss their easy runs, but I haven't noticed that yet. The track workouts and tempo runs include warm-ups and cool downs, and the long runs feel comfortable for awhile at the start, so I feel content.

I've mentioned it a bit, but work is pretty busy this month (I'm not really working extra hours, but the hours I am there are incredibly stressful), and RLRF has been a great balance. Other training plans worked great when I had the flexibility and time of a college student, but RLRF is meshing with my grown-up work schedule in a very pleasing way.
Faramir took a longer nap after my long run than I did!
Monday, November 10
500 yd swim

It was back to nothing but kicking in the pool, which makes me feel sort of dumb but is a killer workout. Fatigue really set in about halfway through, but my legs felt good and flushed when I was done.

Tuesday, November 11
AM - 5.1 mi total (reverse ladder: 1200-1000-800-600-400)
lunch - lift

This was the first track workout I nailed this training cycle, and I was thrilled! Don't get me wrong, each repeat was incredibly challenging, especially since I only had 200 M to recover, but it helped to know each repeat would only get shorter. This was the proof I needed that I'm training for an appropriate goal time.

Wednesday, November 12
500 yd swim

Repeat of Monday's workout. I had to go earlier than normal to accommodate a 1 PM meeting, but I somehow only had to share a lane, even though it was the typical busy period.

Thursday, November 13
lunch - lift
PM - 7 mi tempo (10:05 min/mile)

I had gone to bed Wednesday night on time, but I wasn't able to sleep until a lot later due to my neighbors randomly being noisy. Apparently 10:30 is the time to vacuum and do dishes, as well as scream into your cell phone outside while letting your dogs bark non-stop. (I cannot wait to get a house!) The point of this is I opted to get enough sleep rather than force myself to get up in the morning.

When I did my first distance training cycle (for my first half), I did almost all my runs at night under the stars after work. It felt good to get back to that on a clear night Thursday. My tempo pace was 9:38 min/mile, which I expected to feel hard, but I felt surprisingly in control and strong the whole time. Plus my life was enriched by watching a wasted bro peeing in a parking lot at 6 PM.

Friday, November 14

Saturday, November 15
17 mi long (10:56 min/mile)

I was a little nervous going into this long run, after I felt less than stellar last week. I carbed it up a lot more Friday night, and that seemed to make the difference. My legs were beat at the end, but the pace felt easy, rather than challenging. I also switched things up and did a lollipop route, rather than a pure out-and-back. This helped break things up mentally, and the run seemed to go by fairly quickly.

I checked just for fun, and near the end of my first marathon training cycle I had done a 17 mi long run  - and I only averaged 13:20 min/miles! Granted I had run the day before and it was in the 70s then, but it feels great to see how far I've progressed in a year! I need to come back to this whenever getting to a BQ time seems impossible - I just need to remember to give it time!

Sunday, November 16
Slow Flow Yoga

Our instructor broke out a new playlist and with it a new set of poses. While the previous sequence was fine, this new set really dug dip into my lower and upper back, and it basically destroyed my hips before putting them back together. I felt thoroughly wrung out and relaxed when we were done.

Run Miles: 29.1
Swim Miles: .6
Lifting Time: 42 mins
Yoga Time: 60 mins
Total Time: 7:38

This week is still going to be wild at work, but it helps knowing it's my last full week this month! I'm still excited to keep tackling my workouts and moving forward with my training. These last three weeks have flown by. Before I know it, I will be soaking up the sun in Myrtle Beach. I better hang on to that mental image, since we're slated for snow all week!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Five Things Friday - November 14

Things have finally been quieting down a bit in Eager Feet World (though there were almost tears one day at work, so take it with a grain of salt). Either way, I'm now comfortable that I'm able to leave work at 5 every day, which is a nice change. People were telling me some pretty scary horror stories about budgeting season, but so far the wheels have not completely come off.

Winter is also truly upon us, but we've been fortunate enough to not get any snow here yet. My main running path is only seasonally maintained  so I'm hoping any accumulation stays away for awhile, but this is Michigan, so I better start devising some alternative routes fast! I tried to hold out yesterday and wear a lighter jacket on my run, and while I didn't feel cold while running, my core was extremely cold to the touch until after I took a hot shower. I'm no doctor, but that's probably a bit not good.

Since this talk of snow is getting me a bit down, let's talk about some warmer places first!

1. The female winner of the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon was DQ'ed following an investigation that proved her splits were physically impossible.

I like to think I'm actually okay with numbers, and a 47-ish half marathon doesn't add up for me. (I ran it through my adding machine and everything.) It's important to note the men's half record is 58:23, held by Zersenay Tadese. The women's half record is a much "slower" 65:12, run by Florence Kiplagat. (Side note - I had no idea women had yet to break the hour mark in the half!)

It's obvious from the preponderance of evidence that the woman is lying through her teeth, so I think it's hilarious that she's sticking to such a ridiculous cover story (six minute PR my ass). I also greatly appreciate that Runner's World used Athlinks to find her old race results, as this is my favorite of verifying what people tell me about their PRs. I always chuckle when I find a fibber.

2. I set an unofficial half PR this weekend on my long run.

Speaking of half marathons, I ran a PR at the half distance on my 15 mile training run on Saturday. (Other than on my Garmin, I don't count this as an actual PR.) I accomplished this with the very strategic technique of only having ever run two halfs - my first, which was in very hilly and icy conditions, and my second, which was on technical trails and had killer bees.

But I think this "PR" is really important to note because it shows how far I've come in less than two years of distance running. Sometimes when I'm sitting around having a pity party because I'm so slow, this kind of thing helps put it in perspective. When I ran a 2:24 in February 2013, I really gave the race everything, and even turned in some excellent negative splits. I didn't collapse at the finish or anything dramatic like that, but I was pretty spent.

This past Saturday I ran a 2:23 - and then ran two more miles at the same pace. I was ready for a shower and a nap afterwards, but I wasn't destroyed. In fact, I probably would've felt quite comfortable if I had stopped at just 13 miles. My progress might be slow, but it's still progress!

3. Rita Jeptoo was caught doping.

I suppose if my progress is still too slow for my liking, I can take the Rita Jeptoo route and dope. (Just kidding - that is stupid.)

She has requested her B-sample be tested, but let's be real here. Still not a doctor, but I find it hard to believe that a blood sample could accidentally test positive for EPO. It's not like you pick that stuff up in the street. Runner's World predicts no major marathons will want her either way, which I think is good. There shouldn't be any room for cheaters in our sport.

4. Runners raced a SEPTA bus and won.

The first point that needs to be made is SEPTA is a horrible acronym and just makes me think of the word septic. But knowing what I know about public transportation, maybe this is a fairly accurate association. Either way, SEPTA operates in Philly and was taken on by a group of 50 runners.

Unfortunately the coverage does not indicate how much the runners beat the bus by, but I highly appreciate that the person live-tweeting from the bus dubbed himself Team Bus. Can I call myself Team Bus on days I feel like I've been hit by one? This is a serious question.

5. Brady Hoke likes to clap.

I didn't have any Tolkien things to share this week, so I will instead badger you with Big Ten football. Whatever your feelings on UM football or Brady Hoke, we can all agree the man claps excessively and inappropriately. If you need a boost to make it to the weekend, I advise you to check out this fantastic website. Do it for the lolz.

Do you ever look back on your improvement as a runner?

Who is your favorite hilarious sports figure?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

2015 Marathons Preview

With my 2014 marathon season over and most everyone else's drawing to a close, I thought it would be both appropriate and fun to look ahead at the marathons I will be doing in 2015. The plan is to hit six new states and one new continent. I'm incredibly excited to travel to lots of new-to-me places and hopefully score a PR (or two).

Our method for picking races for 2015 basically involved staring at a list of ones that worked with my schedule (since I can't take any time of at the beginning of the month, yay accounting) and allocating the number of vacation days we would want to use for each candidate. After a few hours of deliberating, we managed to pick our six. (I have more vacation time than Michael and saved some up this year, so he's not really affected by choice to add a seventh race.)

There is also a 1-2 month section of the year when I really can't take any time off, and I only know it will fall between late summer and Thanksgiving. (This gives me huge fits, let me tell you.) With this in mind, we tried to steer clear of any potential conflicts, which is why there's only one fall race, despite it being peak season. (Hey, we figured Rhode Island can be seen in a day!)

Without further ado, I present my 2015 race schedule:

Myrtle Beach Marathon - February 14, South Carolina

After having to endure the entire polar vortex last winter without any respite, I'm super excited to have warm-ish locale to look forward to! I've been to Virginia Beach, so I imagine Myrtle Beach will have a similar flavor, but I'm hoping it will have a more relaxed vibe in the off-season. Plus where else would be a better place to spend Valentines Day?

And holy cow, people were not joking that prices are way marked down in the winter. We scored a king suite with an ocean view within walking distance of the race for 53% off! I can't imagine going in the summer - I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the price we normally would've paid for our hotel.

The course is known for being flat and fast (for realsies), and the average high is only 61. I'm training with RLRF for this race, and I'm hoping to run a 4:28. This will be by far the largest race we've done (MDI currently holds the record right now, with about 800 marathon finishers), and it'll be a new experience to have bigger crowds and a pacer to run with. I love me my small races, but I'm looking forward to trying something a little bit different, and maybe getting an extra boost.

Antalya Marathon - March 1, Asia

I'm not going to lie, I had to talk Eager Feet Mom off a ledge when I told her I'd be going to Turkey. After reassuring her that a beach town heavily visited by Germans is not crawling with PKK, she got pretty excited for me. I'm super fortunate that my best friend is in Georgia (the country, not the state) teaching English this year, so it will be relatively convenient for her to meet me in Turkey. It will also be relatively convenient for me to have someone fluent in Turkish to drag my white self around.

Our game plan is to spend a few days in Istanbul and then continue on to Antalya. I was originally planning to run the Istanbul Marathon this month until work got in the way, but I'm almost glad it didn't work out, because Antalya looks gorgeous! It's set on the Mediterranean among the mountains, and I can't wait to run there. This race is also organized by a German company, so I feel more secure knowing I will be able to understand the race officials and most of the participants.


I'm a tad bit nervous that the course limit is only five hours, which is why I'm feeling some pressure to pull off a 4:28 in Myrtle Beach, to know I have some cushion in Antalya. I checked out results from prior years, and it doesn't appear to be a hard limit, and I know Turks are super laid-back, so it hopefully will be a non-issue.

I have a semi-secret dream of doing the Seven Continents as well as the 50 States, and this will be a fun and unique way to sneak Asia in. Plus it will be another warm weather location. Bring it on, winter!

Knoxville Marathon - March 29, Tennessee

When I first looked at Tennessee races, I was leaning away from Knoxville because I somehow had gotten it into my head that it was a huge race. Once I realized it was my ideal size (about 800 finishers), my interest was piqued. It has great reviews, and I'm particularly looking forward to the special marathoner-only indoor finisher area. It'll also be nice to have a low-key travel situation after flying for the previous two marathons.

The course is designed to show off the various neighborhoods of Knoxville. Growing up in southeast Michigan, I associate major cities with blight and decay, so I'm excited to see a city where you can walk around without fear of death. (Example - the now vacant Science Center had a sign that said no gum, and I legitimately thought it said no guns every time I saw it from a distance.)

Everyone does seem to warn the course is pretty hilly, especially in the second half. Considering I live in Flatland Central, I'm not really sure how I'm going to prepare for this. I will probably use my patented "screw it, I'll just suffer on race day" method.

Blue Ridge Marathon - April 18, Virginia

My other method for dealing the hills at Knoxville will be reminding myself how deep the pain cave will be going just a few weeks later at Blue Ridge. This is billed as America's toughest road marathon, though apparently another race in Arizona competes with them for this title. Considering that race involves running up a mountain and then back down, I'm pretty scared. I could probably find a hilly location to drive to for some long runs, but there aren't any mountains anywhere.

There is a very generous course limit of eight hours (I probably would've skipped this race without that insurance policy). I may have to take a very conservative strategy and do a lot of power-walking, but I'm looking forward to getting up close with a part of the country I've never seen before. My true love is the high deserts of the West, but I imagine these forested mountains will speak to my Michigander heart.

Which may not actually be able to appreciate the scenery because of how hard it's beating....
Hatfield-McCoy Marathon - June 13, West Virginia

This was the only picture I could find, so let's roll with it.
I did this race in 2014 and counted it for Kentucky, but Michael wasn't with me, so I'm excited for him to experience it. It seems like this marathon is basically a rite of passage for 50 Staters. (It probably helps there are so few races in West Virginia.) It is a giant pain in the butt to get to, but they work very hard to keep costs down, and all the little details make this race worth it.

But remember, this is not pretty enough to take a picture of!
I won't lie though, this was a tough course, and other runners told me it was about 10 degrees cooler than in other years. I'm hoping we will luck out with good weather, but you never know. I didn't find the hills nearly as challenging as I had expected, so I'm hoping I can be a little more strategic this year, now that I'm familiar wit the course. Plus I know the firehouse will be about two degrees at night, so I'm hoping I will do better after I get more than four hours of sleep!

Missoula Marathon - July 12, Montana

Other than Antalya, the race I'm most geeked for next year is Missoula. I've been to Montana briefly, but my parents and I never made it up to Glacier. (We always wanted to hit multiple parks per trip, and there just isn't much else up there.) Pictures I've seen of the area look absolutely stunning, and I can't wait to see it in person. I wish I had more vacation days so we could spend more time there, but that just means we will have to pack the fun in, sore legs be damned.

Besides Myrtle Beach, this will easily be our most expensive trip next year. (I'm paying for Turkey out of my tax refund, so I'm not counting that in the same bucket.) But I think it will be worth every penny. Everyone loves the race, and everyone loves the area. Plus I've always wanted to get out there before 2020, when supposedly a lot of the glaciers will have melted.

The actual race itself starts out in the country and then ends through downtown Missoula. I'm expecting this to be spectacular as well. I don't think you can lose when it comes to being out West!

Newport Marathon - October 11, Rhode Island

First off, there is nothing worse than someone excitedly asking you where you'll be running next year and having to tell them Rhode Island. I have a map of the states I've run up in my cube, and the pins I use to mark the race location are literally bigger than Rhode Island. It's certainly not the most glamorous explanation.

That being said, just about everyone I meet that has spent time on the East Coast tells me how beautiful Newport is, and the reviews seem to reflect that as well. My chiro used to live in Newport and was all set to lecture me if I told him I had picked a different race for Rhode Island.

This is another area I've never been really been to (other than Maine, which I don't think really counts), so I'm excited to do some exploring. Plus, flights from Cleveland to Hartford are shockingly cheap, so it won't even break the bank, despite being a "flying" race.

Most of the course runs along the water, and it also goes through some parks. Running along the ocean and through Acadia in Maine was incredible, and I can't wait to do it again. I'm also hoping this race will give me ammunition as to why so-called "boring" states are actually some of the best. (Looking at you, Nebraska!)

This schedule feels a little bit scary, but I'm way more excited than nervous. The only real bummer is that I will only be able to fit in a full training cycle between Missoula and Newport, so I'm determined to work really hard leading up to Myrtle Beach, as it will be difficult to build fitness for a long time afterwards. I'm open to suggestions on how to set up my training in between races, especially when the gap is an awkward four weeks.

It'll be one fun challenge, that's for sure.

How do you train when there's a two to four week gap between races?

Do you have any tips on these marathons? 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Run Less Run Faster: Week Two

I'm very happy to report that after my second week of RLRF, I'm still loving the program! Only running three times a week means I look forward to each run, rather than slowly burning out. I find my workouts are leaving me energized and refreshed, rather than collapsed in an exhausted heap. The runs are certainly quite challenging, don't get me wrong, but alternating them with cross-training is keeping my drive alive.

I don't think legs are supposed to do that.
I thought this week would be a bit difficult to manage with a busy work schedule, but I was able to make everything happen, relatively stress free. I had to run one day after work, but that's only because I stayed up too late the night before watching Hobbit special features. No regrets.

Monday, November 3
600 yd swim

The swim for week two involved some actual, you know, swimming, rather than just kicking. I was immensely pleased to find everything came back immediately, just like riding a bike. I can tell I've lost some speed, but I'm going to attribute that to the loss of volume. This swim would've been perfect if it weren't for the creeper encounter, but I guess you can't win them all.

Tuesday, November 4
AM - 4.7 mi total (4x800 @ 4:10)
lunch - lift

The 400s were very challenging, but they went much better than my lone mile repeat last week, since I actually fueled and hydrated beforehand. My legs had nothing left for the last repeat, so I just pushed as hard as I could manage and did it in 4:30. I think I need to bring a bit of fuel on these runs for between repeats, since I don't have that much in my stomach to start with.

Wednesday, November 5
600 yd swim

Same swim as Monday. It felt good to work out some of the stiffness in my quads.

Thursday, November 6
lunch - lift
PM - 7 mi tempo (10:36 min/mile)

I stuck to the same weights in the gym as I used Tuesday, even though I obviously felt much fresher without a run already on my legs. It paid off, and the tempo run felt frighteningly doable. I honestly got a bit annoyed with how "slow" it felt, since I'm used to tempo runs being a harder. On the other hand, it was great to know that five miles at MP didn't tax me too much.

Friday, November 7
rest (aka more Hobbit bingeing)

Saturday, November 8
15 mi long (10:57 min/mile)

I somehow managed to hit my target pace down to the second again. I love my new Garmin and being able to give it a pace range to keep me in, rather than spending the whole run doing mental math. It almost feels like "cheating," but, hey, I'm still the one that has to maintain that pace.

Even though this run was significantly slower than last week's (15 seconds per mile slower, to be exact), it felt much harder and I had to fight a bit more. There was more wind, but it wasn't anything horrible. I wonder if a stressful week at work just took its toll on my body. In the end, the run was still enjoyable. (Though I can't wait to nap on the couch instead of going to work afterwards next week!)

Sunday, November 9
Slow Flow Yoga

I enjoyed class much more than last week, now that I knew what to expect. (What can I say, I'm a control freak.) My hips felt much looser than last week, but my low back was not a happy camper. And my core is still hilariously weak. But I managed to (sort of) get myself up into a shoulder stand and on the way to plow pose, so I was very happy with that.

Run Miles: 26.7
Swim Miles: .7
Lifting Time: 46 mins
Yoga Time: 60 mins
Total Time: 6:34

Work should be a little less crazy this week (in that I should be able to leave at 5 every day), and I'm hoping it reflects in my runs. I'm looking forward to doing my first ladder workout Tuesday. I'm also pretty amped for another long run. I've obviously only done two so far, but they're fun and challenging, and I think I'm really going to improve. They looked scary at first, but now that I know the prescribed paces are within reach, I'm pumped to tackle them.

And to tackle the contents of my pantry afterwards.