I’m deep in my training for the Another Dam 50K with Kimberly. Last weekend I ran 24 miles early on a Friday morning – I got up at 3:15am and was out the door at 4 with my pepper spray and my headlamp. At 5 I met up with some friends, ran with them til 7, then finished out my run solo. I got in the door at 7:59am, with a 9:38 pace that would have put me on track for a PR in the marathon. This morning was supposed to be a rest day but my legs were itching to run. I flew through 5 miles, averaging 8:56 pace for the whole run, and it felt fun. I wanted to do more. This is the part of training I love, when I’m getting strong and the miles are happy instead of just work. When my stride feels long and tall and quick. When I come back euphoric instead of just tired. When getting out the door is easy because I want to be out there, not “have to.” When the sweat feels like a reward instead of a wringing out of energy. This is why I run.
Last week I signed up for my first ultra, a 50k in Ohio. The was following Kimberly, who had just signed up, and I’m so excited! Running an ultra has always been on my bucket list and doing it with Kimberly just makes it the best. So June 3 you will find us at the Another Dam 50k. The course is some trails, some road and very flat. It’s not too technical or hilly, which is perfect for our first ultra and also perfect for the terrain we’ll both be training on. I asked Kimberly what training plan she was going to use and I think we’re both going to be basing our training on this one. It’s 16 weeks long, so right now I’m just keeping my running consistent. Most days I do 5-6 miles and then I try to do one run a week that’s a little more, although lately it’s only 7 or so. I’m so excited!!
I started 2017 with 7 miles. I took a couple days off at the end of 2016 for a tight groin muscle, but wanted to start 2017 running. I’m glad I did. The morning was cold and dark and quiet and I had the streets and lingering Christmas lights all to myself.
I don’t know how many miles I ran in 2016. I started logging miles, took a break, logged some more, then forgot again. I ran 2 marathons and PRed both, which was unexpected and so exciting. I learned to run in the cold and actually enjoy it. I logged miles with friends and plenty alone. I ran circles around the pond and up and down the main streets. I got faster, slower, faster again. I found more of myself in the steady drum of my feet, cleared my head, worked out emotions, rehashed conversations, made mental notes, prayed, cried, and recited scraps of poetry. I created mantras and then never spoke them. I wondered what would be next, worried about what would be next, pushed after what was next. I wore out shoes and recharged my Garmin, I chafed and blistered and lost a toenail (maybe forever). I grew leaner, stronger. I remembered what I loved in running, in myself.
I’ve been pregnant or nursing for some, if not most, of every year since 2011. This will be my first year back just me and I’m really excited to see what I can do, what else will wake up inside of me. Some thoughts:
- This 50K in June with Kimberly. It’s really cheap and doing an ultra (or more) has been a goal of mine since 2010. Starting with a 50K would be a great way to test the waters and really doable from a training perspective.
- My tenth marathon. Not sure if I’ll go big (something like Chicago or Cleveland or Indianapolis or Grand Rapids) or small and scenic, like Presque Isle.
- PR the half marathon. My current half marathon PR is from May of 2010, so I’d like to go after a new one.
- Keep running for fun and for me. It’s easy for me to sometimes get lost in the “should” of running – I’m training for a race or to keep weight off – but when it comes down to it I run because I love it and because it makes me more me.
I’d love to do some strength training and yoga in there, too, but I’m not certain enough that I’ll really do it to make it an official goal. But maybe!
I’ve never been a huge winter runner. I didn’t enjoy how cold it was and I hated feeling like I might fall at any moment. I was perfectly happy to move to the treadmill in the winter and skip going outside. But Dave has long encouraged me to give winter running a chance. We both know that being outside – cold or hot – is good for our overall mood for the day. With his encouragement and some running friends who also go out in the cold, I’ve only been on the treadmill once this winter and that was only because we had moved the treadmill out to the mudroom and I wanted to test the new setup.
But there were a few key items that have made going out possible – and enjoyable.
yaktrax: These have made a huge difference! A friend of ours gave these to Dave but they fit my shoes, too, and they’re a total gamechanger. They’re completely comfortable but give me 100% confidence on the snow and ice. I can run completely normal without having to watch where I step/being nervous about falling/sliding around. They are so awesome and well worth the cost.
buff: I like the buff around my neck for some extra warmth (particularly on subzero windchill days) but especially hooked from the top of my head down and around my chin. I can pull it up if my mouth or nose get cold, but they generally stay pretty warm from my breath. However, my chin still gets cold and this helps. I’ve also used the buff as an ear warmer. And if you do put it over your face, it’s easy to rotate it as you run when it gets damp and frozen over your mouth.
bandana: I have three bandanas that we bought for cheap at Walmart. I tend to have a lot of snot when I run at any time, but especially in the winter. These are great for blowing my nose while I run and are so much easier and sturdier than fumbling with tissues.
I also wear a headlamp around my waist to help me see and be seen. I carry pepper spray when I run alone in the dark. And I layer layer layer. This morning it was 9 and felt like -1, so I wore two pairs of socks, a pair of capri leggings, full-length leggings (these are the only pair I own and I love them), 2 long sleeve tech shirts, a fleece zip up, 2 pairs of knit gloves (although I ditched one pair fairly quickly into the run), a buff, and a fleece hat.
And while I have really loved getting outside and enjoyed some really beautiful quiet mornings in the snow, I will say the one drawback of winter running is how long it takes to get ready! IT TAKES SO LONG TO GET DRESSED! We’ll see how cold it gets this winter and if there’s a threshold to how cold it can be for me to still run!
Do you run in the winter? How cold is too cold for you?
I signed up for this race after the Fort 4 Fitness marathon, when I got a PR but missed my goal of going sub-4:20. I felt like with a little more training and push I could do it. The Veteran’s Marathon is affordable and – bonus! – nearby. And I did it! 4:18:48!
I previously ran the Veteran’s Marathon in Columbia City in 2010 (please see that post for a funny video of Dave and Mosie… ah the days when we were young..). I liked the race okay, but it was pretty hilly and the second half, which looped out in the country, was pretty lonely. They since reconfigured the course so the marathoners just ran the half marathon course twice. I liked the course much better this year – it was still out in the country but didn’t feel as tedious or long and the support was better than I remembered. It was still mostly just water stop people (bless them!) but they were excited and encouraging. There were still hills but nothing monster. I walked up one hill, at mile 23.5, and ran the rest (or chugged slowly). They were bigger than I’m used to, but nothing insurmountable.
The morning of the race was cold (27 degrees!) but no wind and the promise of a sunny day to warm things up. I wasn’t sure what to wear for the race and bugged Kimberly about it on voxer to maker her help me figure it out. In the end I decided on shorts, tall compression socks, a tshirt, a long sleeve tech shirt, and gloves. Waiting for the race to start and the first couple miles I definitely would have appreciated a buff (my nose was so cold!) and hat, but both would have been completely unnecessary after a few miles, so I’m glad I didn’t have them. I took the tech shirt off around mile 14 and tied it around my waist.
I also wore a hydration belt that was loaded with my phone, 8 fruit leathers, and two bottles of my homemade sports drink (honey, lime, himalayan salt, water). Once the water bottles were empty (around mile 15) I filled them with gatorade at the water stations. This worked well because the water stations are a little spread out at the Veteran’s race (every 2 or so miles, sometimes less, sometimes more) and I’ve found when I sip drinks it’s much easier for me than gulping cupfuls. The fruit leathers worked well as fuel – I stumbled upon this right before my last long training run, when I realized I didn’t have any fuel, but did have Aldi fruit leathers. They’re flat and pack well, taste great, and digest easily. I ate one at miles 3, 6, and 9, took a GU from a water stop at mile 12, fruit leather at 15 and 18, then drink the rest of the way in (my stomach felt ok but the thought of eating something sounded awful). I think I fueled well during the race, but probably could have done better beforehand. I ate two pieces of toast with coffee at 6am and packed a fig granola bar to eat around 7:15, but totally forgot about it until the gun was about to go off. So that was smart. I don’t think it changed the race that much, but still. Rookie mistake.
All in all, it was a great race. The course was a little long – 26.3 (even on their website it’s listed as 26.3, which is baffling to me). I felt like I ran well, pretty consistently (my first half was 2:07, second half 2:11 so I slowed a little, but not trainwreck), and at the finish was pretty certain I could not have pushed more or done much differently during the race. It was a satisfying race and I was really proud of it. Coming back to the marathon now with three kids I feel like I’m mentally tougher – I can recognize during a race when I’m tired or want to walk, but it’s easier for me to push through that and just keep going whereas before I might have given in.
This puts me at 9 marathons, which means marathon #10 should be something fun or special, right? Any suggestions?!?!
On Saturday I ran my eighth marathon, my first since the fall of 2012 (post-Leo). It was hard – harder than I remembered them being – but I came out with a new PR of 4:21:21. I initially hoped to go under 4:20, but with how I felt and how I had to fight the last few miles, I am really happy with the time I got.
So let’s back up.
I started running again – consistently – this past spring when Molly (finally) started sleeping through the night. I had thought about doing a half marathon but wasn’t sure which one to do or if I wanted to put the money into it… and then Kimberly generously registered me for the Fort4Fitness half marathon! Around the same time my friend here in town started training for her first marathon and I said I would be happy to run with her anytime. I jumped in on her long runs and found myself going 12, 15, and then 18 miles easily. I felt really good. I started to wonder if maybe a marathon wasn’t such an impossibility after all. I checked and I could easily switch my Fort4Fitness half registration for the full, so I did. I ran 22 miles by myself one Sunday morning and felt fantastic. I realized when I finished that if I had kept that pace for the whole marathon I would PR. That felt crazy to me and also really exciting.
Race morning I got up and got my stuff together, coated myself with coconut oil to prevent chafing, poured coffee in a large mug, and hopped in the car. I drove down to Fort Wayne and met up with Kimberly, who had graciously picked up my packet for me the night before. We went to the bathroom and talked and I tried not to be nervous. It felt really strange to be running a race again after all this time! We got in the corrals and I saw my friend Richele, who was there to run the 10K. It definitely helped to see her, too, and to feel her excitement for me.
The first 10 miles I felt really good. I don’t think I went out too fast but I did feel like my energy started to flag a bit. Miles 10-20 I held steady and just did the work. Miles 20-26 were hard – I really had to dig in to keep going and to keep moving. I knew going sub 4:20 was looking dicey and at mile 23 I knew that I really needed to push hard if I wanted to PR (previous best 4:22:06). The finish is in the baseball stadium and you run around the bases, which is fun. I went hard and finished really well, which felt good.
I know there are some things I could do differently in the future – most notably a longer training cycle and better fueling (fortunately Kimberly gave me a GU race morning which I took at mile 20 – otherwise I would have not been carrying enough fuel on my own). But for being my first marathon back in four years and for a PR I am so incredibly happy and proud of what I achieved.
I watched Kimberly finish her race (4:23 and a PR for her on a run she intended to do slow and as a training run!) and then I drove home. In true mom-fashion I washed my face with a wet wipe in the car, then stopped at Aldi before I got home so I could grocery shop (I put on a long sleeve shirt over my running clothes so maybe the smell was masked a bit? Let’s hope?). Then I came home and cleaned up the kitchen and showered and took the kids for a walk and made dinner… post-marathon looks a lot different with three kids! I also slept 10 hours last night, which felt amaaaaazing.
The day of the race I couldn’t stop thinking about how hard it was and how much work it took. And one day later I’m already eyeing another marathon in November, debating if maybe I should give it one more go this year.
On an unrelated note, I just paid $18 to renew my domain again for the year, so who knows, maybe I’ll return to marathons and blogging. If I did, what sort of things would you come here to read about?
For the last year or more I’ve wondered if I’m still a runner. I haven’t run very much and when I have it’s felt pretty awful. I didn’t enjoy it and it felt too difficult, both mentally and physically. I thought maybe I just wasn’t the runner I used to be, that maybe something had shifted in me and I needed to find something else. But recently Molly has started sleeping through the night the majority of the time (insert a happy dance, jazz hands, and all the heart-eye emojis here) and I’ve been running in the mornings again. It started with intervals – running 3 or 4 minutes, then walking for 1, and repeat. Then I switched to just ditching the intervals and running and one morning as I cruised through the miles I realized I’m enjoying this. Turns out when I’m not feeling as bone-deep tired, I really do still love running. I love the quiet mornings. I love the alone time and the breathing and pushing my legs and my lungs. I like feeling sweaty and that burst of energy that comes from tiring yourself out a bit. I’m looking forward to my morning runs again and enjoying the work. It feels a bit like getting some of myself back again.