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ThinkKit: 12.2 We flipped the switch.

Today’s prompt is below:

12.1

This year was a big year in Indiana. After years of battle, on October 7th, 2014, our state flipped the pattern of discrimination and inequality, and finally, gay marriage became legal in Indiana!  While I participated in fighting for this cause along many friends, the debate was quite heated. I watched couples line up at the city hall only to have those marriages reversed days later. I watched my Facebook feed turn into equality symbols for profile pictures. I witnessed my friend’s law firm file suit against our state and WIN. It seemed to be a massive uphill battle, but the hard work of so many organizations, politicians and voters paid off. We did it. Indiana did it.

 

love is love

So much joy has come from this ruling. My friends who had to be married in other states for it to be legal, stood side by side in Indiana repeating their vows once again.

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Jenny, Jess and Lucas Aldridge

chad and liam

Liam and Chad

And this past September, I was a part of the most beautiful, loving and fabulous wedding. While I stood beside Nathan – my best friend of 28 years – as he said “I do” to Hunter, I didn’t see two men. I didn’t notice the lack of a bride. I saw two incredible humans marrying their soulmate.

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I used to say that although I loved Indiana, I felt that I was a blue dot living in a sea of red. The October 7th decision, however, superseded colors. It wasn’t red vs blue. It was equal rights for all people and love won. Indiana flipped the switch and we all saw rainbows.

ThinkKit 2014

It’s that time of year again….when my running slows down and my blogging follows suit. But lucky for me, #thinkkit is back! Last year, I participated and it was a lot of fun to freewrite based on a prompt. I wasn’t diligent enough to write every day, but it was a welcome break from running recaps. (You can read my contributions to last year’s blogging movement here.)

Today’s prompt, kicking off the December ThinkKit is below:

12.tk

The answer to the obvious question is yes, I am often the queen of selfies. Though I don’t post them nearly as often as I used to, when I scrolled through my iPhone album of pictures to find today’s blog post inspiration, it was somewhat shocking just how many selfies I take. (Also, am I the only one who uses the reverse camera function as a mirror each day? It’s really quite functional and convenient)

Anyway, it is only fitting that the picture I chose to talk about is a selfie. Talk about frozen in time.

polar vortex

I took this picture right in the heart of the Polar Vortex last winter. Like most Americans, I have never been THAT cold, THAT often as I was last winter. I don’t love winter anyway, but last year tested my will to survive. The constant snow, ice, below freezing temperatures, and the fact that I saw -16 degrees more than once? Quite frankly, it was all bullshit weather and I hope to never experience it again.

But typical of me…I am Little-Miss-Sunshine-Choose-Your-Attitude-Glass-Half-Full so tried to make the best of it. And the day this picture was taken, I was doing just that.

Less than half-a-mile away from my house is a fantastic establishment called Thirsty Scholar. It’s constantly packed with a diverse crowd of people – artists, hipsters and neighbors. It’s a coffee house that serves beer and wine and it’s the only place I take my work on a weekend. On the day I selfied this shot, it was an Elsa-on-crack freezing day. When JD and I walked to Thirsty Scholar, snow was falling but by the time we left, lots of inches coated the streets. There was already so much snow on the ground, sidewalks and plowed streets evaded us. We were traipsing through many inches of snow, and while it continued to fall my body froze. So thanks to my positive outlook on life and the 3 glasses of red wine flowing through my system, I made the intelligent decision to run.

In my snow boots, I ran. Down the middle of Alabama Street, I ran. Marching my knees high with each step to clear the snow, I ran. JD walked calmly like a normal person….but I ran.

And the more I ran, the more I laughed. When I pulled out my phone to snap this selfie, my disposition on life, winter and the polar vortex was exactly as my face tells: I was happy and deliriously chilly.

As we enter December and the potential long winter awaits us, I want to remember that no matter how cold it gets and how many inches of snow we must shovel from our walk….life is what we make of it.  And when spring breaks for the first time next year, I will look back on that long winter like I do a long run. Marathons suck during the middle. They hurt and are painful and make you question your sanity. But when you cross 26.2, all of those tough miles melt away just like snow drifts in parking lots. And like those first feelings of warmth after so many of cold, you remember the finish line instead of those previous long miles.

So when it’s frigid, dark and bone-numbingly miserable outside this winter, I hope I am running through the streets, semi-drunk in snow boots with a mildly crazy look on my face.

 

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Well look at that. I talked about running after all.

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon 2014- A recap

Spoiler alert: I didn’t get my goal. I didn’t get my PR. And I didn’t even get a top 5 finish for myself.

Had I written this recap yesterday – a day after my race – it would have had a harsh self-deprecation tone. By waiting a day, I now have a more positive outlook and hopefully can tell the story without beating myself every other line.

Friday: After writing my pre-race post, I spent Friday evening prepping my mind. I had received the most amazing messages from friends with encouraging pep talks. I had a great exchange with my mom who has been pep-talking me my entire life and knows just what to say. And JD came home with gorgeous flowers and an inspirational card. I am still humbled by the amount of support I have received from my friends and loved ones.

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And after eating pizza, drinking tons of water, I tucked into bed at an early hour with an extremely optimistic outlook. In fact, despite the freezing wind howling outside my bedroom window, I was actually looking forward to the race.

Saturday: I woke up at 5:52am and started the pre-race regiment. Bodyglide all over everywhere. Winter running tights. Tetris ski-top under my jacket. Braided hair. New stocking cap. Take all the pills (2 for energy, 1 for stomach). Drink a protein shake. Eat a powerbar. Pack my pockets with hand warmers, headphones and Gatorade chews. Take a picture before I loaded up on my throw-away clothes.

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JD and I parked at my work parking garage and dropped off our “after clothes” at the bag check. We then made our way to the convention center where we had planned to meet up with our friends, find a bathroom and stay warm. On the way there, JD took a picture of me at the start – as you can tell, I was in great spirits.

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We found the crew pretty easily and talked strategy while calming any pre-race nerves. All of us stayed inside until the last possible moment trying to preserve as much of the warmth as possible. And of course, the Perfect Strangers took a picture together.

Bri ran the half, Dana the 5K and Amy and I the marathon

Bri ran the half, Dana the 5K and Amy and I the marathon

Finally we went to the start line and because of our procrastination, we had to enter the corral in the first location we found. That just happened to be the seeded area – which meant we were surrounded by speedsters. JD left to go find Colin and Michael – his training buddies who were going for a huge PR that day. In the meantime, we took a selfie.

Liam, Jess, Chad and I - bundled up!

Liam, Jess, Chad and I – bundled up!

JD found us right before the clock ticked 8am…and we were off. Our goal was to be right around a 9:30 pace to start and with all the fast people running alongside us, it was difficult not to go faster. When we hit mile 1, my watch said 9:14, but the chip time said 9:30. I had already stripped off my sweatshirt as the weather seemed ok without it. My goal was to make it to mile 6 before I turned on my headphones and to just enjoy the scenery around me. Looking back, there are a lot of things I learned about myself in this race. This was lesson 1: Instead of stubbornly sticking to a plan that was based on strategy and not on how I felt, I should have turned on my music earlier. At mile 3, I already was feeling a struggle. It wasn’t massive and I kept telling myself I just had to find my stride but we were banking 15-20 seconds each mile and my lungs felt it. I should have calmed down, turned on my music and focused on something other than my lungs.

Right around mile 3, we saw Meghan, Ted and Jake cheering for us! They had planned an entire day based on cheering and day drinking and this was the first of many times we saw them. At mile 5, we ran right through our neighborhood. We knew our next door neighbors, Jon and Missy, would be at the Foundry Coffee Shop with a cheering crew and as I saw Jon, dressed in his hula girl costume, I jumped into a massive bear hug (hula hug?)

Thanks, Ryan, for snapping the pic!

Thanks, Ryan, for snapping the pic!

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Immediately after, I admitted to JD that the pace felt a little too fast for me and so we slowed down. I turned on my headphones at mile 6 and started to listen to the podcast “Serial” that my brother recommended to me. That helped to distract me while we slowed to a 9:40 pace. We ran north up fall creek which was freezing cold in the headwind. Though I never felt a massive gust, it was more like a constant force to run through. As we hit 38th and Washington, we started up the worst stretch of the first half. We ran due north, against the wind, without sun from miles 9.5 to 12. The course is shaded from the houses and trees and there is plenty of incline. No – not San Fran hills – but just enough incline to make you winded, especially when going against the actual wind. My quads were a block of ice and my mind was racing. How on earth was I going to get through 14 more miles?

At mile 12.5, we saw Jason French – a dear friend and colleague who has been at that very same place every single year JD and I have run it. He ran alongside us handing us Halloween candy and encouraging us with cheers. Right after, I told JD we needed to walk at 13.1 so we could reevaluate strategy. He nodded but I knew my coach wasn’t going to give up on 4:10 that easily. At 13.1, we walked and I cried. I told him my legs hurt and my lungs were pushing hard and I just wasn’t in shape to do a 4:10. I begged him to forgive me. I told him I was sorry I disappointed him and everyone else. I stopped to stretch and as I did, cried to him  ”Please just tell me it’s ok if I don’t get a PR. I need for it to be ok.” H knows how badly I wanted this PR and was desperately trying to find a way for us to regroup, take a little break and then to speed up and still go for it. But I knew it wasn’t going to happen. He told me that he was proud of me – that we went for it hard and aggressively and there is no shame in that. Yesterday, when recapping my race to one of my crossfit coaches, Coach Kevin said to me “How many times have you gone out conservatively to get a minute PR or to try to just get through the race? You went after it hard  and went for your goal, and now can look at your race and learn what you need to do next time.” All great advice and a great way to define what happened.

We started running again soon after and tears just streamed down my face. JD put a hand on my shoulder, not knowing what else he could say. I kept running but what was running in my mind was that I failed myself.

When we turned south on Meridian, we once again found our friends. Jake, Ted and Jolie were cheering loudly from a hill on our left and that gave my spirits a good boost. By mile 16, we saw Becker pass us. I was thrilled that he was feeling great and was going to PR. And right at this time, I decided no more tears. It is what it is and we needed to just enjoy it.

I took this pic at 16 miles and tweeted "No more tears. Time to enjoy it. 10 more miles"

I took this pic at 16 miles and tweeted “No more tears. Time to enjoy it. 10 more miles”

So we hung on. With 10 more miles to go, I can’t tell you how many times I considered quitting. My body hurt, my spirits were broken and I wasn’t sure how I could keep going. But when I made the decision at 16 to not cry, I also recognized that there are no DNFs in my future. We ran and we walked. We ran fast and we walked. We ran slow and we walked. We actually ran a whole helluva lot more than I thought we’d do after my half point breakdown.

Around the IMA

Around the IMA

We ran through Butler and saw JD’s boss Dave and my former work husband, Michael. When we ran through the IMA, it was breathtakingly beautiful. And when we got to the cheering section by the museum, we both danced to the dirty rap beats. At mile 20, just as I was starting to derobe my jacket, we saw Cindy, Meghan, Jake, Jolie and Ted. We stopped and chatted with them and as JD drank a beer, Cindy helped me take my coat off and reattach my bib. We were approaching the WORST stretch of the second half and seeing them at the Armory gave us a boost. We also saw my friend Kate as we ran along desolate pavement. Her personalized cheers meant the world.

Team Dials

Team Dials

I was pretty desperate to get to mile 23 which is where I would recognize the area, see Meridian and know exactly how far I had to go. When we ran, we ran at a 9:45/mile pace and when we walked, it wasn’t for long. My hips, my knees and my achilles ached beyond definition. But when we turned onto Meridian, I had less than 3 miles to go. JD and I stopped to take a selfie.

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We thought we may see our friends again at this time but didn’t see them at the turn, so assumed we missed them. That was until JD heard Jake’s voice. Jake has booming sound coming from him and when I looked back, there was he and Ted on the Indy Bikeshare bikes, riding our driection. Incredible. Ted gave me a Budweiser and I couldn’t believe how amazing it tasted. I was so sick of Gatorade chews you could have fed me Schlitz at that point and I would have deemed it craft beer. And then Jake reminded me the advice I gave him and Meghan when she was running this race a couple of years past: just get from one stoplight to the other. Break it into chunks. And that’s what we did.

Beer cart!

Beer cart!

At 24 we saw Cindy, Jolie and Meghan and I didn’t stop to say hi, I just waved. I wanted to keep going. And at mile 25, when we knew it was just a mile to go, I asked JD when I could speed up. He told me when we turned onto NY, it was time to kick it into gear.

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Right at mile 26, our friend Christy came running up with her pup to cheer for us in that final stretch. And when we made the final left turn and saw the Finish Line, we sprinted. (Sprinting is relative given how badly my legs felt)

4:44:39.

Whatever. We did it. It wasn’t close to my PR. Wasn’t close to my goal. But give the walking we did, it was pretty decent. And it was the first one we did together.

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We found Dawn and Travis who got to see us cross the finish line and then we found Becker and Ted. Adam got an 11 minute PR at 4:31! So damn proud of my training partner. We gathered with all of our cheerleaders and asked them to hold tight while we got our warm clothes from bag check. From there, JD, Adam and I stripped down to our unders right in the open to get into those dry sweats. I felt no shame – repeating “we are all runners here” and then I  saw Lilly and Dan right as I was mid wardrobe change. I yelled “Oh hey guys! I am in my underwear!” Dan has since sent me the link to a garment that allows you to change clothes in public. Har har.

training partners

training partners

From there, we recongretated with our friends and lined up on the sunny side of the course to wait for Jess and Chad to come through.

my incredible cheerleaders drinking their "fall cocktail"

my incredible cheerleaders drinking their “fall cocktail”

We saw Jess come in around 5:20 and cheered our faces off for her!

the marathoners

the marathoners

 

And when Chad came in hot down the final stretch, we were the loudest fans possible. Incredible to watch anyone who has that much drive in the last few seconds of a massively long race.

Immediately following the finsih, we went to La Marg and ate all the cheese and drank all the tequila. The best part of a marathon? The calorie deficit makes me a cheap date! Within a marg and a half, I was doing Drunk History: Hieroglyphics. After showering and changing, we went to House Freenaman for a day of hot tub drinking followed by a night of chili, mac and cheese, sweats and no makeup. It was everything I could have hoped for.

Sunday: When I woke up, I couldn’t move. My Achilles felt like they’d pop. My knees throbbed. My hips just plain hurt. I made it to the couch with a tube of Icy Hot and didn’t move again for 2 hours. At noon, JD and I went to CF so we both could roll out on foam rollers and lacrosse balls. I didn’t want to go – only because I didn’t want to explain why I had failed. JD convinced me that was silly and that no one cared about the outcome of my race as much as I, but within 20 minutes of being there, I was in tears. I wanted the people I respect so much physically for their athletic talents to see that I too could accomplish something amazing. I wanted them to see that all the work I put into speed training made a difference. I didn’t want to have to talk about my failure.

More tears. More self doubt. More beating myself up. But Coach Kevin’s talk helped – it helped to think that I did “go for it” and that I left nothing on the table. It helped ease my self criticism. And then I did what every competitive person does – I found my next race.

In conclusion, there are a lot of positives about this race. JD was an incredible coach and running partner. I am so grateful to have him by my side through every mile. I loved that we got to the point where we pulled out our headphones and just talked the last 10+ miles. I know this may be our last together – he has his own goals to chase and PRs to hit. But I will always remember 2014 IMM as ours.

I am humbled by the support – by my friends who stood out in the freezing cold all morning to cheer for us. For Meg who hugged me at mile 20 and reminded me I have done this 11x before. For Ted and Jake for that last energy boost. For Jolie, Dawn and Travis for being out there for the first time yelling and screaming our names. For Cindy who immediately upon my finish, dropped to her knees and started massaging my legs. For Jenny, Liam, Michael, Dave, Jason, Jon, Missy, Ryan and more. Having you out there meant the world. And I am so grateful for the wonderful tweets telling me to keep going when I tweeted “Mile 9: hurting.” For the texts, the emails, the comments – I am so very lucky to be loved by you all.

And let’s talk about the PRs! Though the weather didn’t seem to help me in any way, I have plenty of friends who fought through it. Michael and Collin with an astounishing 2:43 race. Becker with an 11 minute PR. Glenn getting sub 2:50! Amy – finishing a full hour+ faster than me. Chad and Jess, killing their first IMM. Lilly, Bri, Melanie, Mindy and Tracie for dominating the half. You guys all deserve that incredible cloud 9 I hope you’re still walking on.

No matter what – 26.2 is a wonderful accomplishment and the ceremonious draping of my medal on the rack of past race bling was a proud one no matter the finish time. I don’t know for sure what’s next. I can tell you I have my mind set that I will have my vengeance (in this life or the next) but whether I am ready to get back on the training wagon or not remains to be seen.

Saturday wasn’t my day. But I’ll have my day at some point. Retirement is postponed until I do.

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Dozen Marathons

12Who remembers this from Sesame Street? Give it a little play…this song has been in my head all week. Twelve marathons? Crazypants.

As mentioned in my most recent post, it is tradition that I journal before each race. This race, I feel nervous, optimistic, somewhat confident, anxious and eager. Basically, I am Sybil.

Earlier this week, my mom called me a pro in marathons, and I countered by saying I am seasoned. This is #12 which means I know what to expect. I know when it will get hard and I know that the finish line is worth the struggle. While some runners are worried about the cold and wind, I have actually done this exact race in both of those elements. I know how to fuel, hydrate and dress. This isn’t about the science anymore – I have got that down. This is all about my attitude.

Choose your attitude – one of my personal core values. And I choose to be positive.

My best two races were London (2011) and Illinois (2012) and both had one major component in common: I had a positive attitude. I remember during London, at mile 22, I thought about being the obnoxious runner that screamed, “Only 4 more miles left guys!” And at Illinois, I didn’t let the demons in until mile 23 when the wind sparked up. Tomorrow is all about attitude – being positive, not allowing the negative thoughts in and trusting my training (as well as my coach who will be by my side).

There is nothing I can do to further prepare myself. I felt super confident about my endurance about a month ago, and then I traveled every week/weekend and some of the long runs fell off. At this point, I can’t change that and have to hope that the 3-20 mile runs I did were enough to keep me moving long after that. In contrast, I AM super confident in my speed training – I had never done it consistently before, but this season, I was dedicated. Sometimes twice a week with Crossfit Endurance as well as my morning sessions with Adam, Kelly, Jess and Chad. As a result,  I know I am faster than I have been in the past. Finally, to keep the legs warm, I have had a relatively easy week including lots and lots of water, an easy run on Monday, speed training on Tuesday and an basic 3-miler yesterday.

Carbing up at lunch while doing course review with Adam

Carbing up at lunch while doing course review with Adam

JD and I talked strategy yesterday on our 3-miler and we seem to be in agreement. He is never allowed to ask “How are you doing?” because I am scared it will open up Pandora’s box. He is allowed to remind me how many people will be disappointed if I don’t hit my goal (which may or may not be true, but as a competitor, this strategy will work on motivating me). We will talk only as it relates to strategy but not waste energy in conversation. We will start off conservatively and vacillate in pace throughout. When we get to mile 23, we give it all we’ve got. That last burst down Meridian will be hard and long, but it will be the final stretch to cheers, hugs, dry and warm sweatshirts and margaritas.

After my last run before the race!

After my last run before the race!

What we don’t agree on is my goal. My last PR was 4:15:01 in 2012, which is a 9:44/mile pace. I have been training for a 4:10 marathon which is a 9:30/mile pace. JD thinks I can pull out a 4:05 which is a 9:20/mile pace. Honestly, if I get a 4:14, I’ll be damn happy with even a slight PR. But my goal is 4:10.

pace band

I don’t know if I can do it. It seems reasonable – the speed is there. But is the endurance at that speed? Saturday is the test. I haven’t raced a marathon in a long time so no matter the outcome, this will be a good day. You’ll definitely hear from me in great detail when it’s all said and done. And despite my goals, no matter what, running 26.2 miles is something to be proud of. When I wake up on Sunday, unable to rollover in bed to watch the NYC Marathon on TV, I’ll drape that medal around my neck and be happy regardless. I just hope it’s 4 hours and ten minutes of happy.

MASSIVE thanks to the cheerleaders that will be out there – I know our neighborhood will be in full force as we run right through it at mile 6. And my friends, Jake, Meghan, Cindy, JR, Brendan, Lauren, Jenny, Dawn, Dan and Travis have planned a day of cheering and day-drinking. The fact that our friends want to be out in the freezing cold to catch a glimpse of us running by means everything. I can never articulate how incredible it is to know friends are waiting – it’s such a boost of energy and helps break up the distance. #blessed

Best of luck to all the runners out there: Amy, Adam, Jess, Chad, Martha (NYC!) doing the full. Lilly doing the half. And all those I have forgotten. Let’s freeze our bums off together and get it done.

First half with your head. Second half with your heart.

 

 

Pre-marathon blog posts….a review.

In preparation for this pre-marathon blog, I decided to dig up all of those posts that I have written in the past before the big race. The themes seem to be similar: nerves, strategy, and prepping myself mentally. Come along with me and let’s revisit the past…

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  • For my 4th marathon (right after I started blogging), my post was all about race prep – what to wear, what to eat. But it is sweet to remember the amazing care package my coworkers put together for me before tackling the hills of San Fran!
  • A few weeks later, I ran #5 – the same race I am doing Saturday. And similar to this year, it will be cold. This pre-race blog talked about how to pace myself…something I am not as worried about for this race.
  • In prep for London, I wrote a blog to “The Stranger at the Finish Line.” This is one of my favorites because it’s so true. And I remember finding that stranger after the race and hugging him. He too had run for Parkinson’s UK.
  • For race #7, I was running Chicago for the first time. I was injured – saddled up with Achilles tendinitis so the nerves came from a different place (such as my doctor scaring the hell out of me by warning me that I could snap my Achilles and it would roll up into my calf!) But love seeing how adorable my tiny niece was at this time.
  • And then there as #8 – the day I PR’d and have been chasing down that time ever since. It was over 2 years ago that I achieved a personal best – 4:15:01. Something I am trying to beat this weekend. I ran the race with Christi in Illinois and we dominated it. Plus, rereading those inspirational messages from my London PUK friends makes me tear up even now.
  • Clearly my head wasn’t in it for #9. And clearly a poet I am not.
  • #10 was just ridiculous – running 26 laps around a 1-mile course? What were we thinking? But I love this pre-race blog because it opens with my journey into running.
  • And lastly, Chicago last year to round out #11. I was Little Miss Sunshine going into it and though I didn’t hit my goal, it was a good race.

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I’ll compose this year’s traditional post this week and I am sure much of it will be deja vu from the past. Reading these past 8 posts has been a great exercise – a journal of sorts. A glimpse into my past brain. A way to distinguish how I felt based on training and certain times in my life. Each one of these journeys to 26.2 has been unique and Saturday will be accumulation of everything. From the very first time I ran 1 mile in 15ish minutes in 2005, to the first training run of this season. It’s a celebration. It’s a test. It will be an accomplishment.

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Stay tuned for more.

 

On my mind…

As a distance runner, I have a lot of time to think. As a mental distance runner, I have a lot of opportunity to distract myself from the sometimes boredom, and the often pain of a long run. I have found the best mind games are when I create really intricate stories in my head and think through every detail including conversations with various characters. For example, I once imagined I met Peyton Manning on my run and spent the next 4 miles creating dialogue we’d have and stories I would share. I have also thought very specifically through the scenarios of:

–Me getting shot and driving myself to the hospital

–Carjacking

–Kidnapping

–Saving a child from oncoming traffic

–And more times than I can count, I have thought about what if I had been at the finish line just 30 minutes after I left it in Boston, 2013.

I have a detailed imagination and when it serves me (like running) I can distract myself better than most. (Other times, like when trying to sleep or paying attention to a lecture, this daydreaming is not my friend).

Where am I going with this? Hang tight, my children.

Yesterday, as I was running 20 miles and trying to let my mind wander away from the fact that my breath seemed shallow and my hips didn’t lie, I came up with this blog post. So, without further ado….

ON MY MIND, by Meggie Dials

What are the things you think about every single day? Sure getting dressed, brushing your teeth, getting in your car, eating, sleeping, your kids, your pets, your spouse would all qualify for this question. But what I am asking about are the people, the situations, the scenarios and the issues that plague your mind every single day without convenience – for good or for bad. Not the things that are forced into your daily view and therefore you think about them, but the things that take effort for you to bring to mind. Or the things that are so panoptic that you can’t avoid thinking about them. Here is the non inclusive list I came up with:

  • Running. Every single day I think about running. When will I get a run in? How do my legs feel? If I don’t run, I guilt myself the rest of the day for not running. Running is as much a part of my every day as any other topic.
  • Crossfit. Though I have decreased my frequency in doing cf in the past few months, I still think about the gym, our community and the workouts every day. I check to see what the WOD is each day, I follow along with my gymmates’ progress and even though I am a little further removed from the 6x a week girl I used to be, I still flex my arms every day to make sure the muscle is still there.
  • Weight. Every day, multiple times a day, I think about my weight. I run my palm over my stomach to see if I can feel any fluctuations, negative or positive. I question what I eat for every meal based on how I feel about my weight that day. I always wish to be thinner but some days I catch just the right angle in the mirror and I calm my anxiety and internally commend myself for the work and progress that’s been made over many years. And on the good days, I say out loud “Damn girl, you look good” and I wish so much I had more of those days.
  • My dad’s health. Every day I think about his sickness and every time I do, I push it back into that dark place. The one in your head where you know it exists but you try so very hard to pretend it doesn’t so that it won’t turn your every emotion into a sadness that you’re not sure you’ll ever get out from underneath.
  • There are others – people that I think about every day. The ones, like Dan, who I know I will talk with almost every day because wouldn’t it be weird if we didn’t? And the ones like Nathan who I described as “my water” when I gave a toast at his rehearsal dinner last month. I am lucky to have many people in my life that occupy such a pleasant and wonderful place in my brain and this post is a reminder that I need to not just think about them, but to also convey to them their importance in my life. I won’t mention them all here but #blessed.
  • What’s next? Though my life is 76% planned until mid-November, that never stops me from asking myself every day what’s next? What will I do post-marathon? What travel do I have scheduled for December? What new adventure do I need to go on? What is the next party I will plan? The next organization I will get involved in? The next movie I want to see? I live for excitement and know well enough that if I don’t plan it, it may not exist. So planning I do. Always.
  • Kids. I don’t know if I want kids but if you don’t bring it up (which is rare – I get the question multiple times a week), don’t worry, I will ask myself. I am at that age where I guess I should be feeling eggs rot or at least be concerned with that dreadful “35 years old and high risk pregnancies.” But the weird part is, I don’t care about age at all, that’s not what drives my thoughts each day. It’s when I see a little blonde girl, like I did this morning, walking like a baby deer does when it first discovers its legs and I want to straight.up.steal.her.  Or, conversely, when I hear that some of our friends are going to sit at home on a Sunday and watch cartoons. One experience is a +1 for having kids and the next is a -1. I can’t seem to find a running pattern so instead of acting, I just think. And everyday it’s a conversation in my head with no conclusion – like a room full of arrogant sales people who all just want to hear themselves talk but walk out of the meeting with absolutely no progress made.
  • And lastly, the biggest thing I have been thinking about every day is not a new concept, but is one that just recently started to become a daily nuisance. Every single day, I mourn the fact that I have never had an adult relationship with my dad.

(Segue)

kids and dad

When my friends used to talk about their fathers, I listened, smiled and laughed, or whatever the conversation called for. But now, it’s like this massive tumor inside me boils up each time this topic comes up and just aches and aches. I try to listen and be what normal friends are – supportive. But instead, all I can think about is my pure envy that I don’t have that. My dad was diagnosed with Parkinsons when I was in high school. When I called him on 9/11 I hung up the phone because though I had dialed 343-9846, the man who answered didn’t sound like my dad at all. At my college graduation, we had to take breaks walking from the PAC to my sorority house. Though he has always been a quiet man, this disease has silenced him. We didn’t have a super open relationship before he got sick, but who knows what it would have been like when I got older. Maybe we would have sat at the kitchen table together – him drinking Scotch and me a V&S and talking about things. For example, I just recently found out that he once went skiing in Austria! That’s the kind of thing I want to talk about. His past experiences and me sharing my life. When my friends tell me that their dads gave them career advice or commended them on their promotion, my heart stings. I want that. I want that so badly.

The closest thing I have is when I was in early college and I’d come home for a break. My dad would put gas in my car, sneak me a $20 bill and a bottle of Bacardi into my trunk since I was still underage. Silly that it’s that memory I hold on to so tightly. But when it’s all you have, even something so trivial becomes monumental.

My brother and I have talked about what we have and what we don’t and we realize that we are quite lucky- we still have our dad despite his disease. But we wonder about what life would be like if he was just old and retired vs old and sick. It would change so much in our lives and in our mom’s. Her life is that of a caretaker and though she does it incredibly well, there is no doubt a constant strain on her too.

And you know that dark place I mentioned earlier? I wish I could put this thought – this one I have titled “Having an Adult Relationship With My Dad” – back into that place. Because now that it’s out. Now that I feel it. I can’t stifle it. I can’t unthink it. I can’t watch my friends’ dads be a part of their life without this massive longing that can sometimes feel paralyzing.

I know I am not alone. There are many of us who lack that parental relationship once we are in our 30s. I guess I just wish I had known. I wish that I had known that when we played basketball in the driveway or went grocery shopping together or when he drove me to high school in his piece of shit Skyhawk, that it would be those memories I would treasure so much.

me and dad

 

 

20 miles, 32,000 steps

It has been awhile since I have blogged. These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of work, travel, weddings and overall busyness. I have kept up my speed training pretty consistently and have done plenty of small runs, but the long run has evaded me. Until yesterday.

I have known since summer that this time of year would be a major training obstacle. I calculated all of the weekends I would be out of town and add in a few work conferences, I almost didn’t sign up for the Monumental Marathon.  The long run is the most important and I know myself well enough to recognize that I won’t get that distance in unless I am home, in Indy, on a Saturday morning. When it comes to running, I am a creature of habit.

So this weekend and next weekend are the only two open dates for me to finalize my training and start tapering. One down, one more to go.

I ate pasta and had an early night on Friday. JD had agreed to run with me on Saturday but also ended up being out until 3am with his buddies the night before so I knew our 8am start time wasn’t a reality. But I woke up, stretched, drank my protein and played Ke$ha loud enough to wake the slumbering. 206

We finally got on the road and started running from the deck in Broadripple at 9am. The weather was quite perfect- chilly, low wind and no precipitation. Even the sun peaked out to say hello. I had no idea what to expect from my body yesterday but I was mentally committed to running 20, no matter how long it took.

The before.

The before.

I immediately tuned my headphones to a TedX talk about “Transformation.” It lasted me through 5.5 miles and was fascinating – from interviewing a transgender model, an amputee and a murderer, I was thoroughly entertained. Both JD and I decided against wearing a running belt given the lack of humidity and that our path would cross multiple water spots, so when we saw water, we stopped briefly. Our pace was great – 9:26/mile consistently and I felt pretty damn good.

Any of my loyal followers will know that I don’t like to run in one straight line. I love “chunking up” the miles by going south a few, north a few, east, west – whatever it takes to make the distance seem surmountable. But for some reason yesterday, I agreed that we’d run 10 north and 10 back, which is well past my comfort zone. I have a rule that I don’t run past the Palladium. Mainly it’s because I like to run a track that I know. I want to pass by the known landmarks and mile markers. I like the familiar strangers I know but don’t know as I run alongside them. I am a creature of habit, after all.

Running north.

Running north.

When we got to 5.5 miles, I fueled up on some Gatorade gummies and swapped my talk radio to a playlist. JD was in great spirits and though he hasn’t run this distance since Boston, my pace is so much slower than his, he wasn’t hurting. We ran north from the Monon Center, and then north of the Palladium. As we crossed into Carmel, and then Westfield, I tried to keep my mind on my music. I played Katy Perry’s “Roar” twice as it fuels my energy and confidence. But it was during Nikki Minaj that I just stopped running and fell into a crouch. JD stopped and asked me what was wrong and like a whiny drama queen, I squabbled that I hate running this far  north and where the hell were we and why were we so far away from our car?? I had let the mental demons in already and I was only 8.43 miles in.

I rallied after a few obnoxious tears and we got to the 10 mile marker without any  more outcrys. We ran into Matt who was doing 20 and then Chad who was as well. It was comforting to see their faces and know that they too were enduring a lot of distance that day. At the 10-mile point, we stopped to take a pic. After all, it was as far north as I have been in a very long time.

210We turned around and our pace quickened. Not only was the distance downhill, but the path was actually downhill. I stopped to fuel at 13 miles and also stopped to walk up the bridge around mile 14. JD encouraged me to run up the hill but I didn’t want to. My breathing was labored and I just didn’t think running it would do any good for me at that point. As I was snappily telling him to essentially “back off and let me run my run” a woman who we had seen earlier passed us. She asked how many we were going at our speedy pace (20) and oh my gosh that’s so far considering I can’t keep up with you (thank you) and you should take breaks to make sure you can finish. She was lovely and after a quick apology to JD for being a running diva, we kept on.

My braids turned into squirrel tails with the sweat

My braids turned into squirrel tails with the sweat

The last 7 miles were tough. If I had slowed down, we could have finished without as many breaks but JD was pushing me fast. We caught up with Chad with 2 miles to go and we laughed about how all 3 of us wanted to call an Uber. With just a mile to go, I told JD that he needed to let me dictate pace as I was running really hard but didn’t want to feel badly that I couldn’t keep up. He has full confidence that not only can I PR in November, but that I can break even my own lofty goals. So he kept increasing speed to see if I would keep up. And I did, but it wasn’t easy. When we (finally!) finished, and looked at the time, I realized it was probably the fastest 20-miler I have done. A 9:28 pace (with an outlier of a 10:40 lap when I grumpily and emotionally walked up a hil)l is pretty damn great. Overall, I’d stoplight-score this run as follows:
Legs – GREEN, Lungs – YELLOW, Mind – RED

after

after

On the way home, I told JD that we would need to work on our race strategy. Clearly, I can be dramatic and downright bitchy when my body is hurting. And though his intent is to keep me strong and encouraged, I read it the wrong way often. If we put together a race plan that I agree to before hand, and he just helps me stick with it, hopefully we can avoid the tears and angst.

This morning I woke up and felt like I had run a marathon. I have done plenty of 20s in my life and this one ended up hurting me a lot more than it should have. I blame my soreness on the fact that I haven’t done a long run in many weeks and my body just isn’t conditioned to the recovery the way it should be. I couldn’t even turn over in bed without pained effort. My knee has a sharp pain in it and my calves and Achilles are bitching. I rode my bike to Crossfit to loosen up the muscle and then spent the first 25 minutes rolling around on a foam roller and using a lacrosse ball on my calves, before doing some abs and pullup work.

205The remainder of the day will be rest, plus some icing for my knee. I leave for San Fran tomorrow and so my fitness regiment will be limited. But I am hoping that next Saturday, I can do it all over again. Some may say back-to-back 20s aren’t smart this close to a race, and I hear that. But I need another long run to get the mental strength required for the November 1st start line.

Today is the Chicago Marathon and the first time in 3 years I haven’t run it. I don’t miss the anxiety that goes into running that race but I am following along via text alerts for my friends. JR should be crossing the finish line any minute for his very first full marathon and I know without a doubt, no matter what the time, he will be beyond proud of himself. More than he could have ever imagined.

Three weeks and counting. I think I can….I think I can…

211

 

Marathon Training Week #6

I started this blog on August 21st…..and finished it today. OOps.

————————–

The last time I blogged about running was the day before I attempted 20 miles. Funny that I am in the same position today!

Let’s catch up:

Sure enough- I did get through all 20 miles two Saturdays ago. I started at 7am and ran 3 miles by myself before meeting a large crew of people. We then ran a back and forth, north and south route so that those who wanted to run 7 could, while others ran 12 miles, 17 miles and me – 20. My overall pace for 20 miles was a 9:26 which I was really happy with. The first three by myself were pretty fast, and the last 7 were all around 9-9:10min/mile. There is something about turning around, running south toward our cars that speeds us up. We were smart this time and once we hit the turnaround point, we put in our headphones so we could focus on finishing rather than trying to talk and breathe at the same time. Dana and Kate pulled ahead, I ran middle and Adam was clean-up. My first 20 miler of 2014 = done!

2-0!

2-0!

week64The next week, I took a couple of days off to let my body recover and then went to Crossfit Endurance. We ran an 800m time trial (holy hell, I hate racing an 800 and barely squeaked out with a 3:33 time) and then sprinted 4 x 100 at an all-out speed. The next day, I met Jess, Adam, Kelly and Chad for speed training on the canal. Our plan called for mile repeats so after a 1-mile warmup, we took off. The goal was to keep them under an 8:18/mile pace and we did: 7:47, 8:04 and 8:02. They were exhausting! Which then brings me to my long run for the week. After an exhausting day of work (8 hours for my day job and another 5 as I worked a project for a friend), I didn’t really think through my running strategy for the following morning. I woke up, I got dressed, I showed up and that was about it. Within the first 6 miles, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do 18 miles that day. My legs were just so tired and had no energy in them. We decided to run a total of 10 miles and then call it quits in exchange for breakfast and mimosas together. We “listened to our body” even if it was my head doing most of the convincing. I just didn’t have it.

This week has started off great! I ran 3.1 miles on Monday before work.

week61

Then Tuesday, I did personal training with JD at Crossfit Naptown and then followed immediately by Crossfit Endurance. We did 1000m repeats….sound familiar? I had done 5 of these with the Wednesday morning crew just a couple of weeks ago. At CFE, the workout was 4 x 1000m repeats with about 4 minutes of rest. My first two were dead on consistent at 4:30 time. The 3rd slowed way down to 4:45 and the last was at 4:38. Though I didn’t do the math to see how this compared to the weeks before, I think it may be a tad bit faster. I hope so – I am definitely eager to see the results of this consistent speed training.

The next day (yesterday), I woke up early to meet the crew on the canal for another interval session. It had rained the night before so I was secretly hoping for thunderstorms. I’d easily convince myself to stay in bed if it was storming. But when I checked my weather app, it was almost cruel. Not only was it perfectly clear, the background photo for Indy was the Canal. It was a sign – I was going to do my speed training.

week62This workout called for a mile warmup, and then .75 miles, .75 miles, .5 miles, .5 miles. The times were supposed to be at 7:58 and 8:03 respectively. Adam, Kelly and I ran these at even faster! We did the following paces: 7:52, 7:44, 7:40 and 7:35. Though I hate getting out of bed, there is no better feeling than getting home at 7:30am and knowing I just ran with everything I had next to two inspiring runners.

Today is a rest day – although I may end up going to Crossfit later as it’s mostly arms. Then tomorrow, I am attempting 20 miles for the 2nd time. I would have no concerns about this since my first went so well, but last week was just so disappointing. I know everyone has bad days but my legs were just so fatigued there was no getting around it. Fingers crossed that tomorrow will be great and I’ll knock out 20 miles before most people have had their second cup of coffee. Luckily, I have 3 friends joining me – Jess, JR and Dana.

I’ll publish this after the run….to make sure that I actually did it :)

———————–

Well here we are….September 15th, almost a month later. WHOOPS. So the above story ends like this: I woke up to 75 degrees and 100% humidity at 5:30am and it was miserable and hot and thick and rainy and I did 14 very painful miles and stopped. 20-mile-fail. But the next week…even though the humidity was just as high, the temps were better. And though it took me awhile (9:59/mile pace), I got through all 20 miles and the last few were right at 9:15/mile. Last week was ALSO hot and humid but we did 14 and felt pretty darn good about it. And this past weekend, I was in the most fabulous wedding of all time and therefore didn’t get a long run in.

In between the long runs, I have been doing crossfit endurance every week as well as my speed training. My hip still hurts but I’m seeing a physical therapist which is helping. I am averaging right around 30 miles a week and when I am running my normal 3-5 milers, I am sub-9 each time. Yesterday, I knocked out 4 miles, two of which were around 8:10/mile pace!

So though I haven’t been blogging about it….I have still been training. And just like the last two times, I am gearing up for another 20-miler this weekend. I am hoping to run it alone….to give myself a chance to run my pace and to break when I need to. I know it will be lonely and more boring and I will have to rely on my own inner strength to keep moving. But it will be as much mental training as it will be physical. Hopefully it won’t take me 3+ weeks to recap it for you :)

Until next time…here are some training pics!

 

Monday morning run.

Monday morning run.

b

14 miles instead of 20.

c

Just a Sunday afternoon jog

d

early morning speed training

e

My favorite running view in Indy? At least top 3.

f

Chad coming in at his longest run ever – 15 miles!

g

A bit slower the 2nd time around.

h

Adam’s first 20-miler of the year!

i

2nd-20 of the season

j

14 sweaty miles

k

Paying homage to the namesake. #bemonumental

 

The Ice Bucket Challenge

For those that are finding negative in the ice bucket challenge, you’re really chapping my hide.

People that bitch about this challenge need to find a hobby. For heaven’s sake –it’s for a good cause. It’s mobilized people to do something, to talk about something and to donate for a cause that many people knew nothing about. I guarantee every charity out there would love nothing more than to get people talking about their cause. “Oh wait,” you say….”people aren’t talking about the cause. They are just throwing water over their heads to get attention” Sure, there may be people who have done this and have no idea about the cause behind it. Or who have forgotten to talk about ALS in their pre-drenching speech. Or who haven’t donated the recommended $10 when they post their video. But what about the percentage of people who have? I don’t have the facts but from what I understand, ALS is seeing a massive spike in donations year over year. So it’s working.

And for those that say we shouldn’t be concerned with ice buckets and ALS when people are fighting for their lives and religious freedom in Iraq and shop owners are losing thousands of dollars in Ferguson and have we already forgotten the importance of mental illness? Oddly enough, talking about one thing doesn’t mean we can’t also care about another. Causes aren’t mutually exclusive.

If you don’t like watching the videos, then don’t. If you don’t want to donate, then don’t. But to call people narcissistic because they posted a video? To shame someone’s charitable donation because it also came with a silly video? Get over yourselves. People talk about their giving to inspire others to do the same. And if you think the only way to be truly generous is to do it anonymously, then talk to the families that benefit from that public donation.

I was nominated twice for the ice bucket challenge and quite frankly, I really just don’t want to have freezing water poured on my head. So I donated to ALS in honor of both nominations, and then I posted about it on Facebook. My intention in sharing this was not so people would commend me for my actions, but because 1) I wanted my nominators to know that I heard their call to action and 2) I hope that someone else sees that link, clicks on it and is inspired to open up their pockets. So wait….the chain letter effect worked? I felt compelled to donate because someone else got drenched while saying my name? YUP. Sure did.

ice

Let’s let something that has a whole lot of positive to it be just that: Positive.

 

Marathon Training update – Week 4 #bemonumental

I am in my 4th week of marathon training and though I intended to blog every week throughout, I am clearly behind. Whoops.

Week two was a solid week – I ran a total of 30 miles which included speed training and a 15 miler! For speed training, the week called for 4 x 800m at an 8:03/mile pace. I did this on my lunch break and the weather was cool, but insanely humid. The pavement was wet and I was soaking sweaty by the first interval. As you can see in the below picture, my eye makeup was everywhere including my tank. But! I knocked out the segments at the mile pace of: 7:26, 7:50, 7:44, and 7:48 pace for each 800.

Rocking my "Run to Be" Tiffanys finisher "medal" from the San Fran Women's Marathon in 2010

Rocking my “Run to Be” Tiffanys finisher “medal” from the San Fran Women’s Marathon in 2010

Also that week, I met my friends Cindy and Chad at 6am to run 4 miles together. I can’t tell you the last time I got my bum up to run that early but having accountability partners made all the difference. I convinced them both that talking would be better than music and as a result, the miles flew by.

downtown stretchin'

downtown stretchin’

That Saturday, I met with JR, Cindy, Dana, Chad and Adam to run 15 miles. JR and Cindy are much faster so they pulled away easily within the first 3 miles. The group spread out based on pace which left  just me and Adam cruising in for our first break at 6 miles. I made him pick up the pace to a 9 min/mile on mile 6 as I knew we would take a bio break and stretch our legs. But as we approached Broadripple, the sky opened up and let out a massive thunderstorm. Huge rain drops, lightning, thunder. There was no safe or sane way to keep running, so after a little pow-wow under the Brugge Deck, we all called it quits.

Rain selfie!

Rain selfie!

I was disappointed because not only had I geared myself up for 15, I was wearing new shorts and a new tank from my favorite online Running gear store (Runningwarehouse.com) They only lasted 6 miles due to the drenching.

photo 3 photo 4

As I drove back home, I noticed that the storm had already passed through downtown. I texted Cindy, hoping she’d want to finish this run with me. Within 25 minutes, she and I were back on the pavement, ready to knock out the remaining 9 miles. I did mention that Cindy is faster than me, right? She kept me at a 9:30 pace for the next 6 miles but they seemed very labored for me. When we took our final break before completing the last 3 miles, we decided not to talk and just listen to music. It made ALL the difference. I have been doing so much solo running that I am just not used to keeping up faster speeds while talking. We clocked our last 3 miles right at 9 minute miles which is impressive to me considering it was the end of a 15-miler! I couldn’t have done it without her.

Week 3: Last week I only ran 27.5 miles but it was also vacation week! The Perfect Strangers took our 3rd annual girls trip to Nashville last weekend. Though I had all intentions to try to do my long run (17 miles) while in Nashville….we all know how that went. I hate “finding miles” while in a new city and just didn’t have the motivation. But… there were still some runs of note last week.

Crossfit Endurance: JD and I love this class so much. It’s an amazing community of fit people that get together at our gym every Tuesday at 6pm. Our coach warms us up with various drills and then we do an interval workout of their choosing. Last week, Zane (coach) had us do 15 x 200m sprints with 30 seconds of rest. Let me tell you how brutal this was! Though 200m isn’t very long, that 30 second rest isn’t’ either. I’d have just about enough time to open my water bottle before having to run again. But it was an absolute blast! It is fun to run fast.

speed

The next morning, I met with Kelly and Adam to run another speed training session. This one was prescribed by my training program and so is a little more long-distance focused. We warmed up with a mile jog and then ran the following:

.75 miles

.625 miles

.5 miles

.325 miles

.25 miles

.125 miles

Between each, we walked for about 300 meters before starting up again. Though the distance of each segment decreases, your pace is supposed to increase. And ours did! We started under an 8 minute pace and never went over. By the end, we were sub 7 for those little sprints. It was so fantastic to have company and though we didn’t talk while we were running, having both of them next to me pushed me to run harder!

Over the weekend in Nashville (by the way, if you want a full recap of the trip, read my friend Bri’s blog here!), some girls dropped in at the local Crossfit gym while five of us went for a run! We wanted to do 7 miles and we didn’t care about pace. So we made our very own Nashville #runsploration! Running down Broadway, we headed to the river, thinking we could run alongside of it. But we found ourselves on what may be their “Monon” trail but it was surrounded by industrial businesses and construction. We headed back to the strip and double backed long enough to get to our goal distance, take some great pictures and find some brutal hills.

7 6

84

 

The rest of the weekend was just an amazing time with some of my favorite people.  I took my first “rest” day of the week that Saturday and then came home on Sunday and ran a very easy 5 miles.

2

 

Week 4: (This week!) So far, it’s been a solid week. Monday was crossfit. Tuesday is Crossfit Endurance Day! Typically, we average about 2-2.5 miles during CFE so I decided to do a 2-miler before the class so I could get more miles in. Silly Meggie. When I got there, Coach Peter told us we were going to do 3 x 1 mile repeats. After a warm up, we all took off. My first mile was at 7:49 and man did I feel it! We took 3 minute breaks between each mile so when I took off for mile 2, I slowed down a little. This one clocked in at 8:06 (which also included about a 5-8 second delay due to a stoplight). The last one was right at 8 minutes. My legs were fatigued but I was happy with my times!

Then the following morning (yesterday), I met up with Kelly, Adam and Chad on the canal for another 6:30am speed sesh. We warmed up with a 1000m jog and then took off. Whereas the previous week we ran the full circle of the canal a couple of times, this time we ran back and forth the same strip so we could mark distance and be near each other. The workout called for 5 x 1000m sprints. Though it also had us jogging in between for .25 miles, we opted for just a full resting break of 2 minutes in between. Our splits were very consistent: 7:48 pace, 7:47, 7:41, 7:51, 7:48. Though in the beginning, I always dread these days, it feels so amazing to know that we ran with everything we had and were done for the day by 7:30am!

early morning runnin'

early morning runnin’

Last night I played two games of soccer and can definitely feel the toll of this new speed training. My hips hurt – but not in the places they normally hurt. This pain is higher up on my body, like right around my hip bones vs my groin. I assume that when I am running fast, I am twisting my torso and therefore stretching this area? I don’t know. I just know it feels uncomfortable. I have a 4-6 easy miler either today or tomorrow and then the big run on Saturday. My plan calls for 20 miles which seems very aggressive in week 4 of training. No promises, but I am going to go for it!

Also, I bought new shoes online today and cannot wait for them to arrive. Whether my shoes actually need replaced or not, my brain has convinced myself that these puppies have met their D Day. They definitely have 400+ miles on them so I think it’s time.

3

More updates after this weekend! Hope everyone who is training is sticking with it and enjoying this nice summer weather we are having!