Saturday, December 31, 2016

Time to "geek-out" on the numbers

Even though I don't train or race at the level that I did a few years ago, I still like to "geek-out" on the stats.   So let's see.....

**Total Run miles - 1219 miles in 2016 -  23 mile per week avg. 
(2015 total run miles - 474 miles- 9 mile per week avg.) 
**Total Walk miles - 132 in 2016 
(2015 total walk miles -99)

2016 Races - 15 races from 2 miles to 26.2 miles

Steam Whistle 12k - 1:05:03 - (8:43 avg) 1-1-16
MS River 13.1 Greenville, MS - 2:00:54 - (9:13 avg) - 2-13-16
Rise & Shine 13.1 Hattiesburg, MS - 1:59:24 (9:04 avg) 4-2-16
OLPS Tomato Fest 5k Chalmette, LA - 26:22 (8:36 avg) 4-10-16
Zydeco 5k Gulf Shores, AL - 26:08 (8:26 avg) 4-16-16
Civitan 5k Hattiesburg, MS - 26:39 (8:34 avg) 5-14-16 (a step back time wise, but this is a rolling hills course, the others were flat)
Greek Fest 5k - New Orleans, LA - 25:37 (8:16 avg) 5-27-16
Bastille Day 2 mile - Braithwaite, LA - 16:01 (8:01 avg) 7-10-16
Oregon Fall Half Marathon - Canby, OR - 1:54:37 (8:44 avg) 9-10-16
Christian Fellowship 5k - Violet, LA - 24:47 (8:08 avg) 10-9-16
Gulf Coast Half Marathon- Mandeville, LA - 5 miles pre-race, 13.1 mile training run. 2:02:22 (9:20 avg) 10-16-16
Stennis Space Center Half Marathon - Stennis Space Center, MS - last training run before St. Jude (1 week) 2:07 (9:39 avg)
St.Jude 26.2 - Memphis, TN 4:12 12-3-16
Ole Man River Half Marathon - New Orleans - (training -run 2 weeks after the St. Jude 26.2 race) 2:08 (9:46 avg) -
Steam Whistle 12k (7.456 miles) - Hattiesburg, MS - 1:03 (8:35 avg) - negative split run

**The Steam Whistle race is normally on Jan. 1st, but this year they changed it to Dec. 31st.  So I start and end the year with this race.  I improved my time by 2 minutes from the first of the year.   This was after running 16 miles on Wed. in hot & humid conditions.  This is a great sign for 2017.  I consider today's race a tempo run by effort and pace.  I'm happy to run this well only 4 weeks after the marathon.  I also ran a negative split race which I always love.  The weather today was FINALLY nice for running.  It was around 50 degrees.  We did have some sprinkles during the race, but that didn't start until around 2 - 2.5 miles.  I'm ok with that.  

**I'm happy with the total mileage in 2016 vs. 2015.  My goal for 2016 was to run a weekly average of 20 miles per week.  I ended with and avg. of 23 miles per week.  The miles came easy for me.  I was pleasantly surprised after the low volume training for the past 3.5 years.  I'm happy the increased mileage came easily in 2016. 

**I ran 15 races and most of these I would consider at "tempo effort."  I've been REALLY cautious about coming back to aggressively.  I want to keep the running and races fun, and my intention is to NOT "all out" race, in most races.   I will continue this strategy for 2017.  I'm happy with the results, especially knowing that I only "raced" a few of the 15 races that I entered this year. 

**It's been intentional to keep my mileage relatively low.  I'm happy with my race times knowing that, for me, to run my best, I need to run higher mileage.   This year, and maybe 2017 (undecided), I had no desire to run high weekly mileage.  I'm thinking as I gradually improve, at some point I may decide to up my mileage a little.   For now, I can add in quality over quantity and still continue to improve for a while. 

** the last month or so, my hip flexors have been giving me some problems.  Specifically, my TFL - tensor fasciae latae.  They don't hurt when I run, but after running and then sitting briefly, the first few steps when I get up hurt.  This week I started icing post run, and heating with a heating pad before the run, and they seem a little better.  It may still be some post marathon soreness, and the heat of this winter doesn't help either.    Since my hip injury in 2013, I've been doing the tedious recommended hip exercises (side lying leg lifts, hip thrusts, etc).  I'm starting to think my recent issues are after I do these exercises.  Ugh !  damned if you do, damned if you don't.  If you have any experience or recommendations, please let me know.   I haven't dealt with this particular issue before.

**The Steam Whistle 12k is typically Jan 1st.  I like that because I feel like I'm starting my year off right.  With the race being Dec. 31st (today), I kind of feel like I'll be starting 2017 off on a lazy note.

2017 Goals 
I have big goals for 2018 and for me to reach those goals, I need a consistent training year, and a little progression in my training (quality or quantity, or a little of both). 
**Perhaps one goal will be to average 25 miles per week, but I haven't decided.  Still not wanting to do high mileage, currently. 
**I would like to get my 5k time down.  I struggle with this because I always want to focus on distance, but when I get my 5k times down, my distance racing improves too.  A win/win !
Currently, I haven't figured out my training or racing for 2017.  To be continued.....

I look forward to reading your 2017 goals.  Perhaps they will help me to solidify my goals.
Happy New Year !
Happy 2017 Running !

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Ole Man River 13.1 - hot running !

Finisher - that's about all I can say for the day.  :)

I signed up for the Ole Man River half marathon last year when the rate was as cheap as many 5ks these days.  Couldn't resist the bargain !  Much later, my plans changed and I decided to run the St. Jude Marathon.  Ole Man River was only 2 weeks post marathon,  so believe me when I say, it was going to be a training run.   The weather was not kind to us !  It was hot with HIGH humidity.  The kind of weather that makes you feel awful for the entire run, even a training run.   I know you are run in this weather all the time, you should be used to it.  I think that too, but somehow, when the body has a few days of cool running, it only wants cool running for a few months.  I was not prepared ! 

My plan all along was to run pretty slow, but as we started the race, almost immediately, I adjusted my pace again (slower), and I ended the race even slower than that adjusted slower pace.  With it being only 2 weeks post marathon, pace was not a goal anyway.   I just wanted to get some miles in and cover the distance with other runners instead of my typical solo run. 

This was my first time signing up for Ole Man River (New Orleans).  Let me say I was SOOOOO disappointed the first half of the race.  The race is advertised as a levee run along the river.  I have signed up for other "levee races" in, or near New Orleans, where you couldn't see the river, but this wasn't even on the levee for the first 6 miles.  In fact, it was in a 100% industrial area, so believe me when I say there was NOTHING pretty or inspiring to see.  My spirits were finally lifted a little when we arrived back near the start and we finally started the last half on the levee, with a river view.   It was HOT, I was hurting (at jogging pace), but at least there was now something to see.  This part of the race ran straight across the river from Jackson Square, Cafe DuMonde, and the French Market area.  Other than riding the pedestrian ferry over and back years ago, I had never had the view of the city like this.  The trail is very nice and well maintained in this area.  It has more concrete than I like, but other than that, it's a nice place to run.   As we started this part of the race, I continually noticed the wind at my back.  It's funny how many times you don't notice the wind when it's at your back.  I noticed during this race because this section was out and back, so while I was thoroughly enjoying every step with the wind at my back, the whole time my mind was thinking about how tough the return would be when I was already laboring much more than I should be in a training run. 
As I made the turn heading back, as expected the final miles were tough.  I walked a few times, and my pace continued to slow.   I ended the race at 2:08, 9:46 average.  It's interesting because this is the exact same pace I ran for most of my HOT summer long runs.  

Remember how I messed up my tangents so much at St. Jude (26.46)?  For Ole Man River, I finished at 13.14.  Sure......when time and pace totally DO NOT matter, hit those tangents perfectly Ginny.  Go Girl !  Ba ha ha ha !

Soon after the race, my head started hurting.  My husband had been battling a cold for a couple of days, and I was certain, soon after the race that I was getting sick.  As it turned out, after Sat. I felt ok until Wed. when it finally hit me with full force.  Head hurting, nose running - feeling BAD !   It was odd.  I felt awful Wed. evening and all day Thursday.  When I got up on Friday, I felt so much better.  I still had a little stuffiness, but felt pretty good all day.   I felt good enough to run by Sunday, and every Christmas for as long as I can remember, I wake up and run, but this year I decided to take another day before starting back.

Yesterday, I ran 5 miles and Chad rode the bike along with me.  It's been many years since he's done that.  I enjoyed the company and felt great to be running again.  It's still HOT and HUMID, so it wasn't easy, but I was happy to be back at it. 

Remember how I LOVE a bargain.  Rock n Roll recently ran a special for the Mardi Gras marathon.  $67 (including fees).  Oopsie !   I think I may have signed up for the full in New Orleans in Feb.  If this weather continues (HOT), I will change my registration to the half.   I have no plans of running 26.2 in the steamy weather we are having now.   Also, with missing a week of training from the cold, it may be impossible to get back on track for a full anyway.   I have no plans of racing this one, but wanted to run 26.2 in the first half of 2017,  and the price was right.   We shall see.......

Final thoughts on Old Man River 13.1
While it's doubtful, I wish NOTC would make some changes to the first half of this race.  Without changes,  I doubt I would sign up for this one again, unless I was running with a group of friends (a fun run), or if I was really, really wanting to "race" a flat course.   Most times, I would prefer my solo runs rather than the industrial route of this course - not a fan. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

My Mind Needs More Work - but I'm happy with it !

So, you all know that prior to St. Jude 26.2 on Dec. 3rd, it had been 3.5 years since my last marathon which was Boston 2013.  To refresh your memory, I decided back in April that I would raise money for St. Jude (we raised $4370) and I would make my "comeback".   My plan was to run fewer times per week, lower mileage, and basically, 2 quality runs per week (long run and either tempo, hill repeats, or intervals).  Also, back in April/May I decided I would focus on the mental side of training this time.  My thinking was that I would not be doing nearly the volume of training, like before, so I wanted a "mental boost".  I also wanted something new and fresh to learn about and focus on.

Dec. 3rd - St. Jude Memphis
My husband made the trip with me.  I have come to love, love, love when he travels to my races.  He is so supportive of "my crazy".    He's also a great support crew of one.  I'm talking leg massages, making sure I have what I want or need for the race, supporting me on the course, etc. etc. 
a little shopping at Bass Pro

The fall leaves were beautiful in Memphis.  We stayed at the Sheraton.  It was a great location, and .7 from the start of the marathon.
Today, I ran 5 miles with Kelly.  This was my 3rd run since Memphis. (I'm recovering really well - feeling great).   I gave her the recap and I realized I hadn't blogged yet about the race.  The weather was good.  I think it was around 47 at the start but with clouds and rain moving in the temperature was in the low 50s during the race.   Rain was predicted for around 11AM.  The race started at 8AM.  Personally, I would prefer the temperature to be much colder, but with the cloudy conditions, it felt nice (until the finish -sweat and FREEZING!!!)

This is a pic of the start.  It was crazy trying to get to the corral.  I was at the bottom, right of the white rectangle in this picture, which is a parked bus.  I started making my way to corral 5 from the street to the left of the bus.  I made it to the corner of the bus and found the corral gate was open here.  I was so relieved because I was worried about having to climb over the railing to get to my corral.  I had made it to the opening and it was gridlock.  Just as I made it to this point, I'm looking around and I see my cousin, Laura and our friend Paige,  about 2-3 people away from me.   I called her name and told her to come my way to the opening.  She took this selfie. I was so excited to see them.  It's pretty amazing that we ended up in the same spot.  Like a 1 in 10,000 chance.  Wow!
At this point,  and for the first 2-3 miles of the race, I reminded AGAIN, why I prefer smaller races.  The logistics, the crowds, and the early zig zag racing are not my favorite things.....Also, the first 2-3 miles of this race are not scenic.  At this point in the race, I feel like a fish out of water and I realize again that city races are not my thing.  I like some beautiful scenery to go with my running.
Thankfully, around mile 4 we made it to the river front which is a pretty area.  Chad was at mile 4 and had made a new friend.  His new friend's wife was running too and so they both jumped in the car and made it to various spots on the course.

During this portion of the race I felt great.  My early mantra for the day was "I can do this all day long" (meaning I can hold the pace).  I kept repeating that at several spots along the way.
Somewhere around mile 5-7 we get to one of the best parts of the race.  Running through the St. Jude campus is special.  Many children with parents line the streets and they are cheering for the runners.  It reinforced that the effort to raise money for St. Jude was important and appreciated.  It was a happy spot, even though on some level you are sad because so many children are ill.

Several areas along the course had beautiful areas of fall leaves. The pictures below were taken the day before the race.   Race day was really cloudy and gray.

My pace through mile 15 was 9:08.  The course is rolling hills the whole way.  Most of the hills are not bad, but some were long.   During the first half, my mind work was in full force.   I remember noticing all the great downhills while barely noticing the uphills (improvement here).  I didn't realize it until after the race, but I started falling off the pace at mile 16.   At mile 20, I was disappointed !   From May until Dec., my goal was this.......This time, I will conquer mile 20-26.2.  I will be mentally prepared and my mind will carry me through the hard miles.  I really believed it would be true!   I really did !   So as I get to mile 20 and I'm already slowing to 9:39 pace, I was upset.  Many, many times, I tried to shift gears and get back on pace, but it wasn't happening.

I was planning to see Chad at mile 22 and I was going to give him my fuel belt.  Around mile 20-21, I took my last gel out and was going to put it in my short pocket.  I dropped it !  I didn't realize it until I was down the road a little way, so of course, I didn't stop and go back to get it.  I convinced myself that I didn't need it anyway.   Guess what ?   I did see Chad at mile 22 and I totally forgot to give him my belt.  Marathon fog is real and I'm kind of foggy in general, soooo ........

The rest of the race was slower, slower, slower.   At one point,  with marathon brain fog in full force I looked at my pace which was around 9:30 avg.  In my confused mind,  instead of thinking about the 9:30 avg. somehow my mind went directly to thinking I was going to run a 4:30 marathon.   I was mad !   Even though 4:30 was my C goal, I was mad !   I just kept thinking about how well I had kept the pace up until 15, and I kept thinking I thought I was in better shape than 4:30.....

A few miles later, I finally realized I was still on pace to finish around 4:15 or better.  WoW !  I felt better !  Not like, better and I can run faster, but mentally better about the day.    In fact, my pace continued to slow down, but I still felt much better about my estimated finish time.   Miles 21-24 were in the low 10 minute range.  I even walked in mile 25 and 26 and those were 11:01, and 11:28.   Just to pile on, I ended up running 26.46, all while trying to run tangents.  I AM aware of tangents......   That's like an extra 3 minutes added on to my final time.  Ugh !   With the early zig zag, and sometimes with the crowds, it's just hard to hit the tangents correctly.  Also, this race has a lot of turns, so that adds to the challenge.   (I have finished several marathons at 26.2)

On our run this morning, Kelly asked me about my fueling during the race.  Even then it didn't register about dropping the last gel and it's impact.  It wasn't until I was driving home today, 11 days after the race, that I remembered about dropping the last gel.  All this time, I was thinking the rolling hills got me at the end, but today I realize that the low fuel at the end of the race had an impact too.    I think my last gel was around 16 or 18.

Hey, I'm a realist.  So my final review of this marathon is this:
when I factor in all of the following, I'm happy, happy that I finished with 4:12.   Please understand, these are NOT excuses, but in my realist mind, these things give me a clear picture of how and why I finished at 4:12.  Also, I like to analyze the what, when, and why of the marathon and for me, this is part of the process.  analyze, analyze, analyze

**I max'ed out at 43 miles (IMO - this is minimal mileage for a marathon)
**I'm 48 and it's been 3.5 years since I've covered 26.2 (this matters)
**This was not a flat course.
**I ran almost 3 tenths extra (adding 3 minutes to my time)
**no fuel after 16-18 miles

 So when I factor in the facts above,  I'm happy and proud !   I finished my 26th marathon and I finished it well, all things considered.

The data:
22 weeks of training
26.5 miles avg per week   (2013 - 45 avg per week)
Max mile - 43 miles - 1 week   (2013 - 80 - 1 week)
26:46 - 9:33 avg pace (what I actually ran)
26.2 race - 9:39 avg. pace (pace avg. based on 26.2 miles)
Yasso's Prediction - I ran the Yasso 800s - 10 X 800 at 3:55 - For me, I know the Yasso prediction doesn't work out, but based on the 3:55, I was thinking I might run around 4:05-4:10.
McMillan Running - Based on my Sept. half marathon - McMillan predicted I might run 3:59.  With my low weekly average mileage,  I was thinking 4:05-4:10 was realistic.

So, I've completed my 26th marathon.  Apparently, I still have some "mind and physical" work to do because I still haven't conquered 20-26.2.   I've trained up to a max. of 80 miles per week, I've added strength work, I've done boot camps, yoga, I've worked on my mind, and yet, I still have not conquered that last 6.2 the way I want to.  This is what keeps me going and intrigued.
I still believe that one day I will figure out how to finish a marathon well.  I will !   

A little post race Memphis BBQ

This weekend I will be "fun running"(maybe walk/running)  the Ole Man River half marathon race in New Orleans.  I signed up for this marathon last year when it was 5k priced.  This was LONG before a marathon was in my mind.  

Monday, November 28, 2016

Race Week - Reinforcing the Mind

In April,  when I was pondering a return to 26.2, I decided I needed a new focus.  Having completed 25 marathons previously, I've tried many training plans, various mileage goals, boot camps, etc.   I've primarily focused on the physical side of conquering the distance, with limited mental training.  It's interesting that prior to my PR marathon at Top of Utah, 2012, I focused on the physical and the mental.
Top of Utah, Logan was my 24th attempt at the marathon,  so I decided to search google for a book to read up on the mental side of training.  This is still my PR race, so YES, I think the mental training helps.  This is an EXCELLENT book, and it's one that I will be reviewing this week as I prepare for the mental side of racing at St. Jude, Memphis.

In May,  as I pondered my return to 26.2 after 3 years away from the distance, I had no plans to return to my previous mileage (avg. 45 miles per wk, with a peak of 80 miles before Boston 2013).  Nope!  While I loved every minute of it back then, my current thoughts are lower mileage for a number of reasons.  1.  I don't believe high mileage is a healthy thing to do to the body.  2.  At this time, and in May when I decided to run a marathon, I've had zero desire to run high mileage.  With this being the case, I decided I wanted to run limited mileage, run my long runs, and focus more on the mental side of the situation.  This has been refreshing and fun to focus on a new challenge.   This is something that I now believe was a limiting factor when I was racing for PRs.   Even though, I ran, and achieved PRs for around 10+ years, I now know without a doubt, I could have achieved more had I focused on the mental side of training during those years.   

As I began to focus on my return, I started my search for a new book on mental training.  This is the best one I found this summer/fall.   It's great ! 
Many aspects of these 2 books spoke to me.  The Runner's Brain helped me focus on eliminating any negative things that play in my mind.  It talks about the importance of visualization, deleting and replacing any negative thoughts that come up.   I started reading this book in April.  At this point, my long run was 8 miles, and I was running that distance every other week.  As I read, and ran, I begin my mental training practice on the runs, and even some meditation from time to time.   I, 100% believe in meditation, but to be honest, I have yet to achieve a consistent "stillness" that is needed.  I have been able to do some active meditation,  with meditation while running.  I totally accept where I am now and I realize learning to meditate is a journey, similar to the journey of running your first marathon.  It's a process......

As I ran my 8 mile runs with the weather warming up in April and May, I immediately started using affirmations or mantras while running.   During my longer runs, something would pop into my head from my reading, or sometimes something totally new.  Each time this happened, I just kept repeating the words in my head.  If I had a negative thought, I would start saying something positive,  and I would continue repeating it.  Sometimes it worked out great to repeat the words or phrase to the beat of the song that played on my Ipod.  Other times, I would change the words of the song to a running related inspiring chant.   I can not effectively express how much I have grown to believe in this process.  For all of my hard workouts, and all of my long runs up to 20 miles, my focus to FINISH STRONG was achieved.   My goal has been to either maintain my pace, or increase my pace at the end of all of my quality workouts (typically, 2 runs per week).  For the majority of the quality runs, I not only maintained, but I increased the pace at the end.  It works !

For most of these inspiring moments of thought, I would go home and write them down.  I decided in April to write them down and my thought all along was it will be great to review these moments of inspiration.   I decided this week was a great week to blog about it as a way to review these moments. My hope is to reinforce the moments in my mind for Sat.   It's also really cool,  as I read these notes, it takes me vividly back to each of these runs.  It's like a time stamp of the run and the day.

My first notes are on April 19th of 2016.  One this note, I wrote down a 3 year goal.  I will not disclose the goal at this time, but it's something I would like to achieve during the Big 50 birthday year.

My Brainwashing Notes from 2016
These are my run notes (chants, mantras, etc) from my journey back to 26.2, starting on April 24, 2016:
April 24 -
"This is the path to strength, fitness, and fun".  
"A new journey, a new path"

May 2 -
Consistency leads to strength, strength leads to ________ (my 3 year goal)

Sidenote -  from May 10th - I wrote down my weight and measurements.  Weight loss has not been my goal or focus, but I have dropped about 8 lbs. which does indeed help my running.

June 22-
"Lastest, fastest" - last mile or miles should be my fastest .  (Lastest fastest was just a short easy way to repeat to the music of the day)

July 2
"Strength and Ease"
July - "Iron Strength"

August 5
"EFS - Easy, Fun, Strong

August 9
"with God, I finish Strong !" (calling in some extra help with the hot summer miles)
August 11
14 humid miles - "Steady, Strong, Easy, Enjoy the Moment, Fun"
On this run, 3 dogs came after me, but something super cool happened.  One of the 3 dogs was a German Shepard - as they approached me, the German Shepard became my protector.  He kept blocking a Pit Bull from approaching me.  In fact, the GS was so insistent in protecting me that he fought the PB to protect me.   This actually happened 2 times this summer with 2 different sets of dogs.  I'm definitely feeling like a lucky and blessed gal......

August 13
"God's Strength, God's Focus, God's power.....I'm not done yet" (as in I'm not "washed-up" yet- lol)
Song of the day - Don't Stop Dancing - Creed 
Lyrics that spoke to me - "Children don't stop dancing, believe you can fly"

August 21
"Strong Finish, Finish Strong!"
August 23
at Mile 24, I AM STRONG
at Mile 25, I AM STRONG
(this was a 6 mile run with 3 X 1 mile repeats, but I started working on my brainwashing to have a strong finish at 26.2 miles)

August 26
"God take the wheel." 
"God's Strength"
(16 mile run, half on hills, HOT)

August 27
"The Blessing is outside your comfort zone.  Embrace the uncomfortable."
"Perceptions either create us or destroy us."

September 3
brainwashing continues on this 8 mile run
"at 20 I run my best"
"24-26, I run with ease"
"24-26.2, I run with God's strength" 
(notes after the run - One of the hottest, one of the best....)

September 7
(mile) "18 starts "the easy 8" 

September 24
"Today, I practice strong and steady until the end."
"18-26 - I'm trained, mentally & physically to finish strong."
"18-26 - Strong Finish"
"18-26 - "God granted strength & power"

September 29
** - first cool front - happy me!
Song of the Day - inspiration BIG
"That Power" - Will I Am
"I am strong on hills"
"no fear, no doubt, strong until the end" 

October 4
3X2 mile 
"find it, feel it , focus, calm (find it, feel it - refers to finding my planned pace, and feeling it)

October 6
"I am strong"

October 25
20 mile run
"calm, cool, collected" - (to the beat of the song)
"magnet to Meraux" - (practicing visualization - I was running several small cities,  and my final destination was Meraux.  I was visualizing a magnet pulling me to Meraux.)
"float to the finish"
"finish fast"
"God's Strength"
I practiced the following, on the later miles of this 20 miler, but changed it to be the final miles of 26:
"mile 20 is easier than 19"
"mile 21 is easier than 20"
"mile 22 is easier than 21"
"mile 23 is easier than 22"
"mile 24 is easier than 23"
"mile 25 is easier than 24"

October 27
"last 6, fastest 6"

October 29
9 X800
"I will never slow down the last 3 reps"  (I was running 800s, but this represents, I will NOT slow down the last 3 miles of 26.2)

Nov. 4th
22 miles
"God is with me, I am strong"

Note to Self !



Sunday, November 27, 2016

Stennis Space Center 13.1 - It's Tradition !

I wish I had a data base for my running history.  It would be so cool if I had a database to search "Stennis Space Center" races, and my complete Stennis history would show up.  From my early PRs at this race in the marathon, to the year that I ran the 5k here, to my more recent half marathon results.  Apparently, I need a computer programmer, lol.

I've blogged about Stennis many times.  It's a race I feel compelled to run most years.  This year was no different.  I typically wait until race week to make a decision to run it.  Lately, it's been more of a training run race for me, so I wait and decide by the weather of the day.  When I see lows in the mid 50s, sunny, and nice conditions, I just have to go.....

I mean, what's not to's a cheap race, you can sign up the day before the race at a rate that's cheaper than some 5ks these days,  it's a flat and fast course (my favorite), it's a small race (my favorite), I usually see several friends at this race......
  Some say the course is boring, but I think it's pretty......

I noticed my friend on the course and he took this cool selfie on the run.  We have been greeting each other at Gulf Coast races for many years, from FL-LA.  We're both running the full at St. Jude Memphis next week too.

I'm on the left, with friends on the right. 

 With 1 week to go until St. Jude, I wanted to run 8-10 miles, but with Stennis on the calendar, I just couldn't resist going to it.  13.1 was a little longer than ideal, (in my opinion), but I decided if I ran it at a slow pace, that would be ok.   It was a gorgeous day !  The North wind was blowing, but it was not too bad.   For much of the race, I was running near a young guy.  I noticed around mile 7-8, he was starting to struggle, but he was holding on well at this point.  At mile 8, we had our last short stretch that was into the North wind.  As we made the turn, I told him to get behind me and I would block the wind for him.  I'm tall (5'10) and he was short so I was hoping he would have a nice shield here.  I know the course well, and I knew if I could assist him with this part, we would soon have the wind at our back for the remaining miles of the race.  I also remember several years when I was "racing"  this stretch is brutal with a north wind blowing.    For the next mile, he stayed behind me.  As we made it to the turn with the wind at our back, I was excited for him, thinking he had made it through the toughest part.  We didn't get to chat as we ran, but it is always a great connection when you can help a fellow runner.  I wanted to ask him so many questions, but with him behind me, that wasn't an option.  Over the last 4 miles, he gradually dropped off of my pace (9:40ish).  I looked behind several times because I REALLY wanted him to hang on.  After several looks back, he was eventually out of my sight.

During my training this summer and fall, I've been working on picking up the pace for the last few miles.  Today, with only 1 week until the race, and running the extra miles, I focused on running slow.  Even with the intention of running slow, over the final two miles, I gradually picked up the pace.  Obviously, with the intentional slow pace, it was very easy to pick up the pace, but I loved how it felt so natural to pick up the pace over the final miles.   Having practiced this for several months now, my hope is that I can maintain or increase the pace at the end of the race next week.

After the race, as I was walking back to my car, the guy from the race got my attention (before I noticed him).  He said, "thanks for helping me today."  That makes me so Happy !  It's such a great feeling when you can help another runner with pacing, or assisting them when they are struggling.  This, in itself,  was worth the trip to Stennis.   

I ended my day with an overall pace of 9:39 average which is perfect for my final long run before St. Jude.  When I made it back to our camp in LA, my husband treated me to a massage to help me get "race ready."  Currently, the weather is looking great for St. Jude.  I'm excited and ready ! 
I took the scenic route back to the camp.  It was a beautiful drive through the LA marsh with fall colors at their peak.  Such a great day !   Well, it was a great day until Alabama beat Auburn anyway.  Dang it ! 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Yasso's 800s and final 24 hour double run

It's so hard for me to believe that I'm 2 weeks away from my return to 26.2 after a 3.5 year break.  Yikes !    Actually, I'm excited !   I couldn't have asked for better training for my return.   I ended up doing much more than I thought I would for this marathon.  When I decided to raise money for St. Jude and return to the marathon in the early Spring, the only goal was to finish the race for St. Jude.  As mentioned before, as I got into the summer training, I felt great.  I felt so encouraged I added in the much tougher than originally planned, Yasso's 800s.  This past Tues. I did the full workout -       10 X 800 with equal recovery time.  As I've been working up to the 10X800 workout, I've realized that "muscle memory" is a real thing.  I've been happily surprised with the ease that I've returned to this "not for the weak" workout.  I should say, I haven't returned at near the same speed as before, but I'm faster than I expected to be after the extended hiatus.  As I've been working up to the full workout, the 800s have been around 4:00 or just under, with 4:00 minute recovery. 
So fortunate to have this nice track in St. Bernard, LA
Thankfully, for this final workout, the weather in South Louisiana is finally tolerable, even nice some days.  The final Yasso's workout was great !  I averaged 3:55 for the 10X800 workout.  This was 9.5 miles with 5 miles of speed work.   I think I may have already mentioned this, but if not.....I have NO plans to attempt a 3:55 marathon.  My peak mileage was 42 miles and that was only 1 week in the 40 MPW range.  Unless things have totally changed for me during my break, this mileage (FOR ME) doesn't equate to a sub 4:00 marathon.  Sub 4:00 is not my goal anyway.   This marathon is about giving the 26.2 mile distance a try again, and this one is about St. Jude. 

My husband and I raffled a guided fishing trip and we raised $4300.00 for St. Jude.  This is what this race is about for me.  Dufrene's Guide Service  - check it out if you like to fish. 

Yesterday, and today, I ran my final, 2 runs in 24 hours, 8 mile and long run combo.  This is a new experiment for me.  I enjoy trying different training plans, different ideas, different workouts, etc.  This time, starting with my 18 miler, then for my 20, 22, and now my final 16 mile run, I've ran 8 miles before the long run, in roughly a 24-26 hour period of time.  I'm thinking, and hoping,  this will add some strength, and maybe some strength in the final miles of the race.

Friday lunch time run - 76 degrees with a cold front on the way for my Sat. run.

Tunnel of Trees in St. Bernard, LA

For the 24 miles (8 miles Friday at lunch time and 16 Sat. am) in just under 24 hours, I averaged around 9:33 average.  A cold front arrived :) during the night, with a strong north wind.  I rode with Chad to the gym and ran the 16 miles back to our camp.  This way the wind was at my back.  I figured being 2 weeks out from the marathon, the wind aided run was a good idea.  That's what I told myself anyway......

Now it's taper time for me.  I ended this week with 38.5 miles.  This next week I will run 25-31 miles. 

All I need now is some COLD, no wind, no ice, no rain weather in Memphis, TN on Dec. 3rd.  I'm ready !  I'm excited ! 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Time is zooming - 3 weeks !

I can't seem to keep up.  The training weeks are flying by.  My last blog was about my 20 miler and the 9 X 800 workout.  I seemed to recover really well from that.  My 22 miler was planned for 10 days later,  so I ran it this past Friday.  I had been running a balance of hills and flat, but it ended up with my 18 and 20 mile runs were on flat roads.  The 18 was flat because I wanted to run the race in Mandeville, LA.  The 20 miler ended up being in South LA just because that's the way my schedule ended up.  I was in LA when I needed to run the 20, so it was flat, flat, except one bridge.   I was determined that my next long would be on hills.  It was, and it was challenging !  I suppose most 22 mile runs are challenging no matter what the terrain.  I also wanted it to be challenging because I know Memphis is going to be hilly.  I'm not sure "how hilly", but I know it's rolling hills for most of the race, from what I'm told.

I'm continuing my trial of running 8 miles before my long run, so I ran 8 miles on Thursday.  Thankfully, I was able to recruit my friend Kelly to run the 8 miles with me.  So Friday, before the time change, I waited for daylight, and headed out for my run.  I don't like running in the dark anymore, and thankfully, my schedule is flexible and I can do it.  I had to wait until 7AM for daylight to arrive.  By waiting for daylight, I knew the last hour, or more, would be warm.  It was !

This pic and the one to the right lower, are in the same area
.  One the way out !
One the way back !  The fall colors didn't show up like I wanted. 
This is a flat area at the middle miles of my run.  I love my country road running!   This pic has many of my favorite "country" scenes - dirt road, green cow pastures, hay barn, farm house, fence posts, and barbed wire.  Just need the cat, dog, and cows to show up and it would have been perfect. 

Audrey's horse poses for a pic.  He wanted to run !

Audrey's dogs cheering me on .....Go Ginny Go ! 
 I ended this week with 34 miles (I peaked last week at 42 miles).   Friday when I finished the run, I didn't have much time.  I had to pack the car and drive 2 hours to South LA.  Getting in a car after a hilly 22 mile run was not on my wish list.   I felt beat up the rest of the day, but that was to be expected with the distance, the hills, and the warmth at the end.   I ended up running the 22 miles with a 9:57 average.  I've been working REALLY hard on NOT slowing down at the end of my quality runs.  This run was the first one that I totally failed, but the last 2 miles are up hill and fairly intense, so I'm choosing to look on the bright side.  The bright side is this.....  As mentioned my 20 miler was flat.   My average pace was 9:55 for the 20.  This 22 mile run was hilly and my average pace was 9:57.  So even though I slowed down a LOT in the last 2,  up hill miles, I'm focusing on the terrain and factoring in the temps. and calling it a great run.

For this marathon training, I'm doing some things that are similar, but I'm trying several new things.  One being the 8 mile runs the day before my long runs.  I'm also trying my longest run being 4 weeks out instead of my typical 3 weeks before the marathon.  Today, I also decided that this week is going to be a step back week which will be different than my typical 3 week taper.  This week,  I'm going to cut my weekly mileage back (probably 20-25 miles) and my long run will be 8-10 miles.  Then next week (2 weeks before the marathon), I will do a 16-18 mile run, and the Yasso's full 10X800 workout, and increase my weekly mileage again.    I will do the long run early in the week, so it will be more like 2.5 weeks out.  Then I will do a shorter taper after next week.

I have no idea how all of this will work out as far as racing, but it doesn't matter......
I'm enjoying the training.  I'm adjusting it as I feel it's needed.  I decided on the "step back" week today, after running a 5 mile run and knowing that I'm NOT recovered from the 22 miles on Friday.  It just feels right to "step back" this week, get some full recovery, and then pick it back up again next week.

Another good reason for a step back week is that Wed., my Mom, sister, and I will leave for a quick trip to Dallas, TX.  From what I've read, it sounds like a run around White Rock Lake will be on the list, but I'm still researching the area.   Happy Running !