Sunday, November 26, 2017

Dopey Training: Week #8

It was recovery week this week, so of course I scheduled a half marathon and got a cold/sinus thing! LOL Would you expect anything less??

So training looked completely wonky. But that's OK!

Monday - planned rest day
Tuesday - unplanned rest day (sick)
Wednesday - 45 minute trainer ride
Thursday - Thanksgiving Day Half
Friday - planned rest day
Saturday - Pure Barre class; 1600 meter swim
Sunday - 8 mile run 

honestly, I really only missed one workout - a run. And since I ran the 13 miles on Thursday a bit harder than a training or long run pace, I'm not really all that concerned. I was able to get in a swim and a bike ride and one Pure Barre class, so all in all it was a productive week of active recovery.

Now it's time to go into the final cycle of training! :D

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Race Report: 2017 Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon

Today, I got to do something I've been wanting to do for years: complete the Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon! I last did this race in 2010, where it was my Half Fanatic qualifier. I had signed up to do it again in 2011, but then I got injured and couldn't do it. I have wanted to do this race again in recent years, but I was never able to because of my older daughter's Nutcracker schedule. So this year, now that my Thanksgiving Day would be free, I was able to do it at last - and they've added the "Triple Peach" option (Peachtree Road Race, ATL 10 Miler, Thanksgiving Day Half) in recent years so I signed up for the whole 9 yards, er, 29.3 miles.

I have been extraordinarily distracted the last couple of weeks, so I really didn't put much thought into today's race until right before bed last night. It's very unlike me, but sometimes other things just get in the way and take up space in my brain. So last night, I looked at the forecast and tried to put together a "Flat Niffercoo". Unfortunately, the temps were exactly in my "gray area" - 40/50s. Sometimes that means long sleeves and tights, other times short sleeves and capris. I really wasn't sure which this would be but since it's the end of November, I opted for long.

Flat Nifferoo - with the Run Gobble headband I've been saving since 2010! LOL
My hubby and I were both very tired and we shut off the lights at 10 PM and fell asleep immediately. I slept pretty well. I have been battling some sort of sinus/cold thing since the middle of last week and it's now to the "annoying" point so it's not affecting my sleep. The alarm went off at 4 AM because I needed to leave at 4:45 - and everything was going well until it was time to get dressed. I just didn't feel like my outfit was going to work. But I also couldn't figure out anything else. I ended up leaving 10 minutes later than I planned - and I pretty much threw on my Dark Side Challenge short sleeve shirt and a RunDisney jacket from my first Princess Half. My reasoning was that I could tie a jacket around my waist but not the vest. It was a smart choice.

Traffic was non-existent and I made it to the starting area (the stadium formerly known as Turner Field) with no troubles at all. It was chilly and I was literally right next to the Start Line, so I just hung out in the car until about 15 minutes before race time. I was also parked next to a bank of portapotties so I hit them 3 times while I waited. This is where having a cold worked in my favor - all but one of the potties were out of toilet paper but I had brought a box of tissues with me! WOOT! Right to the front of the line! LOL

I met up with the other folks from Run Group who were also doing the Triple Peach and we took a picture at the start:

Niffer and the "A Wave Posse"
These guys are all crazy fast - Wave A - and I nicknamed them Posse because Michael on the left is throwing up the 'gang signs' for the running store where he and I work! LOL Shameless Plug: if you live in the Atlanta area, please come see us at Classic City Running in Buford near the Mall of GA!

I was in Corral B for this race, which was pretty good. I wasn't planning on a fast race because I just did a Race Simulation this past weekend (later than usual due to the cold) and I haven't been feeling my best. I lined up towards the back of the corral so as not to be in anyone's way, but the course was still fairly crowded. There were a number of times during the entire race where I had to skip my walk break because it simply wasn't safe for me to stop running and there was no place for me to get out of the way to walk.

I started out at what I felt was an 'comfortable' pace, and this is where it's getting to be a bit of a challenge. What feels comfortable is faster than what I'm expecting. I'm not totally sure how to handle it. I really do not want to push and get injured, so I'm not sure if I need to slow down to the expected pace, or if it's truly OK to accept this new 'comfortable' and just go with it. I will see how I feel over the next several days. I don't have another long run until next Friday and Saturday's double long runs, so I have plenty of time to recover. If I feel especially achy the next couple of days, then I know that I need to train by time. This will also give me a good idea about how to pace the half marathon during Dopey, because I don't want to be out there on my feet more than I have to - so if I can go a little faster and still recover well, then I will do that.

I felt like this course was a bit easier and less hilly than the 10 miler. There were definitely a few decent hills, as one would expect for a race in downtown ATL, but it wasn't anything overwhelming. I saw my friend Debbie volunteering at the mile 6 water stop, and my friend Shawna cheering for her team and for her fiance' in Piedmont Park. But that's all the people that I saw that I knew. And I knew a ton of folks running this race! I thought that was kind of odd!

With running so many downtown races this year, I found that I actually sort of knew where I was! Like, I knew the road leading into Piedmont Park, which was great because that's where Debbie's water stop was so I knew to be looking for her soon. I do wish I had stopped to take a selfie in Piedmont Park with the skyline in the background. I'm not even sure why I didn't do it. I am a dingbat!

Oh, let's go back to the "what to wear" thing again - SO glad I dressed down a bit, because by the time I was in the 3rd mile, I had removed my jacket, stuffed my gloves in a pocket, and tied it around my waist. I would have done better with capris, too, instead of tights! I would have been totally miserable in long sleeves with a vest that I couldn't remove! I have got to remember that, especially when I don't have to stand around outside for long before a race, I need to dress cooler.

Once I hit mile 10, after battling with my pacing for the entire race, I got so aggravated with myself that I just stopped doing regular walk breaks and just threw a couple in once a mile or so. And yeah, that didn't 'help' my pace, but it helped me to enjoy the rest of the run! LOL I do not mind the walk breaks at all, but the constant frustration of being 20 seconds off my target pace and trying to adjust on the fly was driving me insane.

The finish line was a welcome sight - the Olympic Rings and the downhill finish are always so inspiring! I finished with a smile on my face and picked up my medal, warming jacket, and food and looked around for the Triple Peach tent. I couldn't wait to see the shirt! The shirts for the previous two years have been fabulous and couldn't wait to see what they had in store for us.

Boy, was I disappointed.

Now, the medal?? The medal is FABULOUS!

Yes, the Triple Peach medal IS a spinner, with the date of each race under the spinning thing!

It's a good size, too - and I like the rectangle shape!
But the shirt. (And this is just a commentary on the Triple Peach shirt... the Half shirt is "OK" but I find myself wishing I had gotten the unisex sizing instead of women's cut because it's just such a weird and uncomfortable fit). I guess if I have to say something good about the Triple Peach shirt, I could say that I think it will at least fit me.

The front...

The back... sideways, sorry! The ATC logo is at the bottom. 
See what I mean?! It's BORING!! Oh my goodness it's so boring! It doesn't even say Triple Peach except for a tiny thing on the back! I'm so very disappointed. I hope I'll at least be able to run in it - it feels awfully "cotton-y" though.

So that's my race report! Overall, I had a great time and was super excited to be able to complete this race after so long of wanting to do it! OH! One more funny thing... I sat down to put my results in my spreadsheet to discover that I missed this being my 2nd fastest half marathon by ONE SECOND! LOL Literally... the Peach Jam Half in May was faster by 1 whole second! But in my heart I know this one was a better effort because that race was 13.11 miles and 174 feet of elevation gain, and this race was 13.18 miles and 699 feet of elevation gain and only ONE SECOND slower. So, go me! I am certain that if I want to shoot for a half marathon PR next year (would need to take off 2:45, so 13 seconds per mile) I could make it happen.

And just like that... there is nothing between me and Dopey! Which just so happens to start 6 weeks from TODAY!! WOW!

Happy Thanksgiving! And Happy Running!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Dopey Training, Week #7

7 weeks of training down - in 7 more weeks, I'll be a Dopey Challenge finisher! It's incredible to think about! Training went very well this week, despite a series of challenges.

Monday - 2000 meter swim; Pure Barre class
Tuesday - 3 mile run
Wednesday - sick/rest
Thursday - sick/rest
Friday - 5.25 mile run
Saturday - 10 mile run
Sunday - 14 mile run

So, as you can see, Race Simulation week experienced a bit of a hiccup. I woke up on Wednesday morning and my throat hurt terribly and I was feeling very tired. My resting heart rate was also elevated. I know the standard for "should I run when I'm sick" talks about if it's neck UP then you're OK to run, but I have a healthy respect for strep throat - so if my throat is involved at all, then I'm calling it a rest day.

I kept telling myself that this race simulation was not necessary. I know that I can complete the 4 races. I completed the big two (Goofy) in 2012 when I hadn't really run more than 4-5 miles for 2 months prior. Not that I'm recommending that approach but I had been injured during MCM 2011 and I did what I needed to do. But training is just going so well and I want to keep up my momentum. Still, it's best to get to the start line healthy! So I took the day off.

Thursday morning, my throat felt a bit better - but I had big plans with my youngest daughter that night for her birthday and I didn't want to compromise feeling well for the show. So I took another day off.

Friday morning I woke up and I felt pretty good and my throat didn't hurt at all. So I went for a short run - the mileage for Run #2 of the race simulation. I wanted to see if I would cough or have trouble catching my breath. And I didn't! YAY!

Saturday's run was a bit harder only because the congestion had started to clear which meant my nose was running like crazy. And I wasn't able to sleep well on Friday night. I met my friend BJ to run together and she had 8 miles on her training plan (followed by a bike ride) and I had to work all day - so we ran early and I continued on for 2 more miles to get in my full 10 miler. I felt great during the run and for most of the day at work, but when I got home, I was exhausted. I fell asleep at 9 PM! LOL

After 8 miles on Saturday! BJ left for her bike ride and I headed out to do 2 more on my feet!
BJ met again to run this morning at the Mountain - my heart rate was not a normal as it had been Saturday morning (when it was the closest to normal as it has been all week) but I had done 10 miles and worked 7 hours and I was still congested. So not surprised. But I hadn't been coughing, except that my throat was dry from the mouth breathing! LOL All of it is in my head and sinuses. Annoying. But not horrible.

Post 14 miles in the cold and wind! We are totally Dopey! 
The temps were warmer than yesterday morning but the wind was crazy which made it feel bitterly cold! And we were doing the Mountain which means the hills you would expect! So it was a nice, slow pace and we just got it done step by step! I felt great the rest of the day at work, except my sinuses were killing me with the pressure. My boss gave me a cold/sinus med which helped SO much!

So now I'm home and I ate warm soup for dinner and am getting ready to take my Epsom salts bath. Then I'm heading to another early bedtime! Tomorrow is a rest day for me - and Recovery Week! I am going to try to set up my new smart trainer and see if I can't get the whole system communicating. Ok, I won't lie... I'm just hoping that I can figure out how to take my rear wheel off! :)

This is going to be the best training tool ever. Once I figure it out! 
Happy Training! And Happy Thanksgiving! :D

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Dopey Training, Week #6

Well, it seems hard to believe, but I am officially halfway done with Dopey training! 6 more weeks of training, then a 2 week taper, and then BOOM! It's time to do this thing! I really can't believe how quickly the time is passing! I get more and more excited with each passing week!

This was a "One Long Run" week, and this is how training played out this week. I have had to make a few adjustments to the training plan to accommodate "real life" but so does everyone!

Monday - 8 mile run; Pure Barre class
Tuesday - 60 minute trainer ride
Wednesday - 8 mile run; Pure Barre class
Thursday - rest day
Friday - 3 mile run
Saturday - 15 mile run
Sunday - rest day

There was supposed to be another cross training day in there (swimming) but I got my hair colored yesterday and I didn't want to immediately jump into the pool today nor did I want to do a trainer ride after a long run yesterday. Also, due to my work schedule next weekend, I'm going to have to start my race simulation two days early, so a rest day today actually is the best thing overall! And that's really what is the most important thing - considering the overall training plan and not just the individual workout. The cumulative training effect is really important and has to be forefront in my mind!

Physically I am feeling great. I started off the week feeling fairly tired and sore, but considering that I ran 2 long runs last weekend while I drove to Tennessee and back on the same days... it's not surprising that I was stiff! It's not easy to sit in the car for 4-5 hours right after you've run 10-13 miles! But I kept up with my rolling and stretching, and didn't push incredibly hard in any workout, and over the course of the week I started to feel much better. My long run was yesterday and it was the longest run I've done since the marathon in February (I think??) and it felt fabulous! My pace was strong and I was only a little sore. I woke up today feeling even better!

Mentally, I'm hesitant. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. I keep waiting for the injury, just like it always does when I'm training for a marathon. It usually happens about a month before the race, which is just a few weeks away. I think it keeps me from really enjoying myself with the training. I'm scared. :( I'm trying to remember that all I can do is my best - and hopefully I won't get injured again. But I can do all the 'right things' and I might still end up with an injury. So I want to try my best to enjoy myself! After all, this is my hobby! This is what I do to de-stress from life! It makes no sense for it to contribute to my stress! LOL

This coming week is a race simulation! I'm really looking forward to it, if you can believe that! It's going to be starting on Tuesday this week and go until Friday! With a little faith, trust, and Pixie dust, I'll get it done! :D

Happy Training, friends!! :)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Dopey Training: Week #5

Last week's training was the beginning of the 2nd rotation in my Dopey cycle - and this meant that I did two "long runs". Sort of a miniature "Goofy" training, which I think is a great idea. After all, it's those last two distances that will be the most demanding. I do one race simulation per month but that week of two long runs two weeks before the simulation is also good for simulating the stresses my legs will be under during Dopey!

Here is what the week looked like:

Monday: 7 mile run/Pure Barre class
Tuesday: XT (60:00 bike - trainer)
Wednesday: 8 mile run/ Pure Barre class
Thursday: XT (60:00 swim)
Friday: 10 mile run
Saturday: 13 mile run (Harvest Half Marathon - race report right before this post)
Sunday: rest day

8 miles will be the longest run I do during the week, so I'm almost up that distance. I want to make it feel easy, if that makes sense. It's a little further than I would normally go during the week during full marathon training, but since I'm not going to run further than 16 miles (my sweet spot - every time I go further than that in training I get injured) in my long runs, and I want to still keep up my overall volume, I have to add a couple of miles to those weekday runs. And I since I have the time to do it, it makes sense to build up to that now and keep it at that level until recovery weeks and/or taper.

I got to select my Fast Passes for the trip on Saturday and they really worked out beautifully once I had a moment to really consider it. I hope I haven't under-estimated the time it will take to get to the parks, but I have most everything scheduled to get me back to my room very early. And I will need to balance walking around enough with not tiring myself out! I felt like we had that perfect balance during the Dark Side Challenge trip, so I'll have to go back and see if I wrote any reports about that weekend! Of course, once Dopey is complete, all bets are off! I'll be back in "Close the Parks" mode (which won't be hard because they are closing super early while I'm there! LOL).

This week (since it's already Wednesday) is a One Longer Run week and, like last month, I'm feeling much more tired and sore. I'm not sure if it's from the two long runs last week or just the overall volume. Regardless, I'm actually really excited to get to the Race Simulation again next week! ;) Also, I have 2 weeks until the Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon, which will be the completion of the Triple Peach. That is going to be during Recovery Week so it will be a nice chance to practice keeping a slow pace in a race atmosphere!

Thanks for keeping up with my training! Hope training and racing is going well for everyone! Look for the report for Week #6 this coming weekend!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Race report: Harvest Half Marathon

When parenting and training collide...

my older daughter moved to Tennessee in August to train with the Nashville Ballet! Her first performance was scheduled for this past Friday evening. In the world of training, this weekend was my 2nd "double long run" week. I was able to do my 10 miler early on Friday morning thanks to BJ who was willing to start in the dark and run with me before I had to leave at 10 AM. But that 13 miles was potentially problematic. I didn't know any place to get that many miles early enough to still have any time with my daughter before I had to leave to come back home.

Enter the Running in the USA calendar!

I plugged in the state of TN and scrolled down to the date I was interested in. I found a half marathon that was only about 20 minutes away from the hotel where we were going to be staying! It benefits the YMCA which was another good thing. I wasn't exactly sure about registering due to the weather, but as the forecast cleared out, I pulled the trigger and wished for the best.

I got back to the hotel Friday evening around 9:00 central time and wanted to go to bed right away, but had to get things ready for the next morning. I was given a late checkout of noon, but I wasn't sure I was going to take it, or if I would just shower at the YMCA since I'm a member of the Y in GA and we have privileges at any Y in the country. I'd play it by ear so I'd need to take all of my stuff to the car with me (and since I am a chronic over-packer, this would be a lot of stuff). Also, my Fast Passes would open up at 6 AM central time for my Dopey trip, so I would need to be awake early to get that done before I left for the race. Yes, it was completely crazy!
Flat Niffercoo
Thanks to my Friday run with BJ, I knew I'd be wearing a tank and skirt for the race. I wore a short sleeve tee and capris on my Friday run in similar conditions and was overheating from the very beginning. Unfortunately, due to getting into the car to drive 4 hours within an hour of running 10 miles, my legs were stiff and sore and I had a really hard time sleeping. I finally got back up at put some Deep Blue Rub on the most sore spots and that helped.

The most exciting part of the morning was when I accidentally shut off the alarm instead of hitting snooze. I was planning to wake at 5, roll and stretch leisurely, and then be all ready to go by 6 when I would sit down and sip my Generation UCAN while I enjoyed making my Fast Past selections. Instead, I woke up with a start at 5:55 AM, realized my error, booted up the laptop while I ran to the bathroom and then came back and started to foam roll while I was getting the FP pages to load. Then I got annoyed that the FP selection was working differently than the last time I did it and I had planned it out in a way that was making it much more difficult. Then I couldn't get the one FP I really wanted. Once I got the most important ones set (plus the one I couldn't get), I ran around and got dressed for the race. Then I sat down, gulped down my UCAN, and finished the rest of the fast passes. I only ended up leaving about 10 minutes later than I planned, and I kept my fingers crossed that it wasn't going to be a problem.

I need not have worried or rushed because the traffic was light and there was only a short line for packet pick up. The YMCA had plenty of parking and I was able to be close to the start. There were only 2 porta potties that I saw, but I never waited longer than 2-3 minutes to use them. I finally got a peek at the course map and was delighted to discover this was an out and back course so no worries about getting lost! WOOHOO!

I picked up my packet, went back to the car and put on my bib, and went to the start area. The corrals were unofficial and marked by a volunteer holding up a pace per mile card. I was a bit freaked out by the fact that the slowest was 10:00/miles, but since this was really a training "race" for me, I decided not to worry about it. It was an out and back on a greenway where I couldn't get lost. If I was one of the last ones, it was no big deal. I was carrying my Nuun in a handheld and I would be self-sufficient! I would be fine! Again, I need not have worried!

The national anthem was sung and a color guard from a local school presented the flag. The chaplain from the Y prayed for us, and the race started 3 minutes early! Not too bad at all! We headed out down the greenway and I was immediately taken aback by the beautiful colors all around me. Our leaves in GA haven't changed much but the ones in TN were strikingly beautiful! I would have stopped to take a picture but it was very foggy and there were people all around me.

I waited to start intervals once the field was spread out a bit, which took maybe a half a mile. Then I settled in to run my 2:00/0:30 intervals. I continue to be surprised at how well this interval is working for me. I wouldn't have dreamed that I would like a 30 second walk or that it would feel like any sort of "break", but I guess maybe Jeff Galloway knows what he's talking about! ;)

Since this was really a training run for me, I knew that it would be important that I keep a close eye on my pacing. This is the first week of the 2nd month of training and I would not have a recovery week coming up as I did after last month's 10 miler. I would run the first 5 miles at a "comfortable" pace of 11:00-11:30 per mile and then move to 10:30-11:00 per mile for the next 5. I was going to allow myself a bit of freedom for the last 5K but I would never push myself. It was not a race. I set up my watch so I could keep my current mile pace in view, and did not worry about overall pace.

I did no warm up run because I only needed 13 miles and when I do that my first couple of miles are usually quite slow. When I'm racing, that can be a problem, but again - not racing! LOL My first mile came in at 10:34 but I wasn't concerned because I knew I hadn't started intervals right away. The next mile was 10:54 and I was surprised but not overly concerned. This was a really flat greenway. It was a struggle the next two miles to keep it around 11:00/mile and it was getting on my nerves. I decided that I would be OK with it as long as I stayed between 10:30 and 11:00 at least until I got to the turn around, so I would know what to expect on the course. I was also concerned about my hips which were extremely tight from the run and car ride the day before. I didn't want to do anything to compromise my training.

There were 2 fairly significant hills right around the middle of the course and that was the only time I wanted to walk more, but just about the time I felt I couldn't do it, my walk break would come and give me just enough time to catch my breath. Once I hit the turn-around, I figured that I would pace by feel. After all, if I wanted it to be "comfortable" then I needed to just run at what felt "comfortable". Absolutely no pushing allowed and if I found myself feeling out of breath and I wasn't going up a hill, then I would make sure to slow it up. That was much better mentally than trying to keep to a strict time guideline and I enjoyed the course a lot more after that. I didn't need to take any water on the course since I was carrying my Nuun, but there were several water stops and Gu at the turn around point. There were volunteers at any place on the greenway where there could be a question about which way to go. They were friendly and encouraging.

By the time I reached the last mile or two of the race, I was fairly alone. I passed one or two people but that was about it. I got back to the finish line at the YMCA feeling like I could keep going, which is the point of a long run! I took my little medal, my water bottle, and a banana and went to find a place to stretch. I was surprised at my finish time and was glad that it gave me a few extra minutes to stretch before I needed to get back and get cleaned up for lunch. I walked over to the results table and was tickled to find a receipt printer - I see so many people posting pictures of their results receipt but I've never been to a race that had that offered! I printed my receipt off and - BOOM! I was 2nd in my age group!

I texted my mom and my daughter to let them know that I needed to wait for the awards because I was getting an age group - my first time for a half marathon otherwise I probably wouldn't have waited! But I was pretty tickled with myself! After spending the whole race thinking that I was bringing up the rear, I ended up being 79 out of 186! Not the front, but not bringing up the rear at all!

And to my genuine surprise, the age group award wasn't a mug or a plaque (or an alligator head! LOL) - but a $10 gift card to Fleet Feet Nashville! It was my first monetary award, and it felt a bit awkward since I work for a running store in Atlanta! LOL Oh well! It still made me smile!

My bounty from the race!
After the awards, I decided I had enough time to go back to the hotel and shower so I did. Then I set off to find some food to tide me over as our family lunch had been shifted to an early dinner. I ended up at Panera since I would take my laptop and work on fixing my Fast Pass Fiasco.

My favorite soup wasn't listed which was weird because they always have it on Saturday, but I asked about it and she said the DID have it! So I was thrilled! And I also got a pumpkin decorated cookie to celebrate my win at the Harvest Half Marathon! I ate pretty much every bite, drank 3 cups full of unsweet tea, and then got my Fast Passes taken care of (they are now Practically Perfect in Every Way! LOL).

So all in all, this was a wonderful experience for my first half marathon in Tennessee! I am completely wiped out today. Not due to the race, but due to the fact that we drove home last night and I didn't get to bed until almost 1:30 AM! Thank goodness for the time change giving me an extra hour of sleep! My legs actually feel better today than they did on Friday afternoon. I think getting in the car immediately after running was just not a good thing for my body. But it's good to know that my pacing was on target yesterday and wasn't too much for me. It's exciting to see my "comfortable" pace settled into the 10:30 range (and that's including the walk breaks - my actual run pace has gotten much faster than that!).

No racing now for me until Thanksgiving Day! And that, too, will not be a "race" race. That is scheduled as a Recovery Week for me, but I am going to complete the Triple Peach Series that day. So it will be a fun race and I may even stop along the route and take some pictures! ;)

It was a big race weekend around the country - did you race?? If so, please leave a link in the comments to your blog post, or comment directly about the event you completed!

Happy Running!