Wandering with a Purpose

Author: therosywanderer (Page 1 of 8)

2021 Chicago Marathon: Training Week 6

Between the humidity and lack of planning, this was a tough week! Sounds like the same update from last week, but week 6 was even more challenging! Thankfully, it was a down week for mileage. The humidity will be here for another two months and mileage will continue to increase, so I need to just stick to it and be patient.

One of the Instagram accounts I follow (@Run4PRs) always has really good tips and is giving a lot of hot weather tips lately.

Monday

This morning I was excited to go on a two-mile walk, but at the end of my walk, I realized I was going to stay in Greensboro tonight and wouldn’t be able to run on Tuesday! Today I should have run 3 miles! I also couldn’t go to Pure Barre since I would be driving. I didn’t eat well and just felt off all day. Sigh, I had a big work meeting on Tuesday morning, and that took most of my focus. This is why you are supposed to schedule a weekly planning session on Sunday!

Tuesday

Today was supposed to be 3 miles, but I didn’t plan. It was too hot for me to run in the evening, so I didn’t get a workout in today. Worst of all, I didn’t bring my charger Monday night to charge my Apple watch, so I didn’t get any part of any ring closed! I also got a visitor, Stubby, the Corgi that I dogsit sometimes on the Rover app. Since he is young, Stubby has a lot of energy and requires a lot of attention.

Today the Chicago Marathon team sent out our corral placement numbers! I was placed in the second to last corral group (M) which is part of Wave 3. It required some research to understand this, but it is because of my estimated finish time of 5:00. I hope I can do it in that time, if not less. Ideally, I would finish with a sub 5:00 time, but I also get nervous that I won’t finish at all! If I run an 11:00/mile pace, that is about a 4:50 finish time. It’s starting to get real!

Wednesday

A neighbor joined me for the 5 miles on my schedule today which made for a nice and faster run. I felt pretty good; I think I walked only 2 times. Unfortunately, I didn’t stick to running a heart rate plan like I was supposed to do. My average HR was 161 BPM with an average pace of 11:42/mile. Maybe I can consider this a tempo run? It was incredibly humid again, and I just felt gross. It was a good run overall; it’s just a miserable time of year. It’s funny how different it is to run with someone vs. running alone. There is a different mindset, and since I respond more to external pressure, it does help keep me going.

In the evening I ended up going to Pure Barre and was the only student because of a big rainstorm. It was a good class – I always leave there feeling stronger, so even though the dogs weren’t happy, I’m glad I went.

Thursday

As if this week couldn’t be more off, this morning’s run was awful. Since Stubby has so much energy, I tried to see if he could run with me but that was a fail. Since the humidity was uncomfortable again, we walked for almost two miles because I took him home then went out for a 1.5 mile run. I was so uncomfortable. It’s wasn’t a fun run at all. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough walking to wear out the pup!

Friday

My normal 6 am Pure Barre class felt great this morning. Stubby and I went on a short walk, but I get nervous about him with the humidity. Needless to say, he got his crazy laps in around the coffee table.

Saturday

This is my usual cross-training day, so I walked Stubby for 1.5 miles because I didn’t want to overwhelm him with the humidity, even though we woke up around 4:30 am. After that, I did my 3 mile run to make up for missing Tuesday. Still got all of my miles in! The rest of the day, I was especially lazy and just spent time with the dogs since they felt neglected during the week.

Sunday

Today was my last single-digit long run. Only 7 miles, but going off the theme of week 6, it wasn’t comfortable. I didn’t feel strong because of the humidity. I kept telling myself, the important thing is to get the miles in. Since I knew this would be a tough run from the beginning, I decided to start with a 3 minute run / 1 minute walk pattern. This saved me and made it more manageable. I couldn’t fathom going out and running 7 miles. This may be the pattern I pick for the marathon, so I need to figure out what the right run/walk should be. I kept my average heart rate to 148 BPM and performed at a 12:20/mile average pace.

An account I follow on Instagram (I forget which one!) posted about running in the heat/humidity and said 3 steps: run slower, hydrate, and swear. I thought it was really funny but totally true for this week. Not that this will change for week 7, but I should be better planned.

2021 Chicago Marathon: Training Week 5

Where did 5 weeks go? This was a good week overall, but my schedule got off. Thins were too busy to do a good blog post, but I hope to record better next week.

Monday

Yeah, so I didn’t get to Pure Barre or do yoga. I got a walk in, but that’s about it.

Tuesday

I got my 3 miles in and had a good HR run! Average pace of 11:32/mile and my average HR was 141 – that is called progress.

Wednesday

I’m not sure if this run or my long run was a bigger accomplishment for me. 5 miles done on a weekday! I did it! I was worried about timing, so I didn’t focus on heart rate (average was 159 BPM). Overall, pace was 12:09/mile, so not too bad. Starting this week, I will increase mileage on Wednesday. I will do another 5 next week before doing the next two weeks at 6 miles.

Thursday

This day was a big regret. We were supposed to have the tropical storm hit and the radar looked A LOT rainy…except it wasn’t. Chicken Kristin decided to avoid the rain, but it avoided her. I went to Pure Barre in the evening, so I at least did something, but I really regret this since I had been doing such a good job with my routine.

Friday

To make up for missing my 3 miles yesterday, I planned to run to Pure Barre on Friday morning then run home. It was a slower start with slower dogs, so I almost didn’t run to class. In the end, I did and was so glad! I didn’t have time before work to finish a full 3 miles, but I got in 2 miles. At least I would just finish my weekly mileage down 1 miles.

Saturday

This was my first double-digit run in a very long time. A year at least? I was really nervous to start the day. I decided to move my long run to Saturday because a teammate’s wedding celebration was on Saturday night and there was a potential for rain on Sunday. Trying to learn from my fueling lesson last week, I had a Honey Stinger waffle that I picked up at the running store. This has have been mentioned in other blogs, so I thought I would try it out. It was delicious and ended up being a good fuel for me. I didn’t eat anything else.

My run started out really well. I felt really strong and ran the first 2.5 miles. I noticed my HR was getting high, so I opted to walk for a bit and started a 3/1 run/walk pattern around mile 3.5. I did a great job until mile 7 and the sun started to really come out. I slowed down a lot around mile 8, but I finished! My average pace was 12:31/mile and 151 HR. I got in my miles, and that is what is important!

Sunday

Unfortunately, I was a lazy, lazy bum today. I didn’t close a single ring! Nothing else to record here, unfortunately.

2021 Chicago Marathon: Training Week 4

This week absolutely flew by which must mean that running is becoming a routine. The first step needed to run a marathon! The big news this week is that RunDisney is returning with in-person events! For any RunDisney fan, this was desperately and much anticipated news. While I love seeing all of the Dopey training posts on Instagram and am very envious, I think I will try to do the Fairytale Challenge in February for the first time. I’m also going to plan costumes for the affair, so I’m quite excited. Even though I’m planning for the Chicago Marathon and that is my focus, I need to have goals lined up for afterward to keep me motivated.

But good luck to all of those training for marathon weekend and Dopey 2022! I love thinking about my 2020 Dopey experience and plan to do it again in 2023.

Monday

Monday – the dreaded yoga day. I did yoga for a hot minute before getting too bored to continue. Then I tried again, so I didn’t stop once but twice. I walked and did some other bodyweight exercises, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do a full yoga session. Why is it so challenging? So many people talk about the benefits of yoga for marathon training, and I understand there must be a huge benefit, so why can’t I just do it? Sigh…

Tuesday

Summer is in full gear, so it’s important to get out to run early. Today was my normal 3-mile run which went well. I am still focusing on heart rate since I don’t think speed work will help much until I lose weight. I had a great run in both metrics and how I felt finishing with an average pace of 11:43/mile and a heart rate of 141 bpm! Big accomplishment. I restarted my full Pure Barre membership, so I am going to get in as many workouts as I can. My schedule let me fit in an evening workout, so I finished a barre class. All on a Tuesday! At least that makes up for my lack of yoga yesterday. Getting stronger can help improve my running to make marathon day easier. Pure Barre does a lot for core strength which can also help make you a better runner.

Wednesday

Semi-long run Wednesday this week was another 4 miles. I finished with an average pace of 12:10/mile but also achieved my average heart rate goal of 141 bpm. This pattern should mean my aerobic fitness level is improving, which is my goal. I need to have the fitness level to sustain 26.2 miles. Felt really good again but was super sweaty – the humidity is awful!

This is going to get more challenging in the upcoming weeks. I have to fit in 5 miles next week, and I’m really nervous about timing for this.

Thursday

My final weekday run was another 3 miles. I felt great again finishing with a 12:04/mile average and 149 bpm heart rate. Another wickedly humid morning, but it was done! I’m really proud of how these morning runnings are becoming natural. I lay out my clothes the night before and have a morning routine that gets me out the door.

I signed up for Pure Barre again, but wasn’t sure what “Pure Empower” meant as the class name. Little did I know I was going to do burpees at Pure Barre! This version of class is a cardio version of Pure Barre. It was a fun class, but I wasn’t really expecting it. A challenge with doing strength training in this type of environment is form is really important, but it’s hard to have good form when moving so quickly. Needless to say, I was very tired that night.

Friday

After a hard workout the night before, I was at another Pure Barre session at 6 am. I like this class and enjoy it in the morning. You feel strong for the day, and I really like the teacher. Pretty low-key activity day, but then I had work and getting ready for Independence Day weekend!

Chicago Marathon also posted on Instagram is that race day is 100 days from TODAY!!

Saturday

I usually cross-train on Saturday and originally planned to swim this morning. Then I got to thinking about fireworks on Saturday night and how staying out late will make for a rough 9 miles the next morning. Using the logical side of my brain I thought, “why don’t I do my long run on Saturday morning?” For someone who doens’t like to deviate from a plan, I was pretty proud of myself for arriving at this conclusion! So, long run on Saturday!

This week I spent a lot of time reading Disney race recaps and information on running basics. Fueling is always a big topic, and I read somewhere that if you finish off a long run slower it can be because you 1. start out too fast, 2. don’t fuel properly. Hmm. I’m sure I have both of these troubles. 9 miles is a mental hurdle for me, so I wanted to make sure to eat enough to start my run, plus I brought a berry Huma and a salted caramel GU gel to take at miles 3.5/4 and 7 (if needed) and packed a plain bagel and peanut butter to eat before the run.

I hate eating before I run, but I learned training for my first half, that I have to eat if I run over 4 miles. I hate it, but it’s necessary. My usuals are toast with peanut butter or a peanut butter Cliff bar. A few weekends ago I tried to eat a banana, but that wasn’t enough. I also have to have enough time to digest my food before going out and usually try to give myself an hour.

The actual run…
Finished my 9 mile run

Well, we had AMAZING weather on Saturday. Seriously 62F in July is unreal in North Carolina. I woke at 5 am had water, Nuun, and ate my bagel. I didn’t finish eating until 5:45 am, and I wanted to get out at 6 am. I waited until 6:20 since it was so nice out. My first two miles were around an 11:40/mile pace which is strong for me, but in the third mile, I didn’t feel right. I had to walk a lot taking my pace to 15:00 minutes. Finally, all I wanted to do was throw up. I knew it was the bagel, and it wasn’t sitting with me right.

That third mile was rough. I threw up a few times which made me feel worlds better. I walked into the fourth mile forcing myself to take it slow, then incorporated more running and got stronger into miles 5 and 6. My 7th-mile split was high at 14:02 because I took the very hilly route, but I finished my ninth and final mile at a 12:04/mile pace! I felt so strong at the end and so proud of myself. My average heart rate for the run was 157 bpm, and as Hal Higdon suggests, I got my miles in regardless of pace!

Sunday

No running for me today. I slept in until 6 am and had a lazy morning snuggling with the puppies before going on a walk. I just love those kinds of relaxing mornings. More importantly, today is July 4 and Independence Day! Happy Birthday, America! The fact that we live in a society where we can be free to pursue our passions like running is a gift. I listened to podcasts about forgotten American heroes and gave thanks to all of those brave men and women. I’m so appreciative for the life I lead and the country that allows me to be me.

Schatzi and Churchill posing in their American finest

Lessons from this Week

  • I need to figure out my pre-run fueling strategy for long runs. I don’t think a piece of toast is enough, but I also don’t think I can handle any more than that. There will also be the added complication of more time between wake up and the start of the race once marathon day is here. I have several more weeks to figure this out, so I’ll keep researching ideas.
  • I’ve been really conflicted about how to structure my weekday runs. I learned in my last training session for Dopey the benefit of hill running but also what a speed workout is. For his Novice 1 training plan, Hal Higdon doesn’t recommend any of this. He stresses getting the miles in. While I’m not a complete novice and want to do more to improve, I am starting to think this approach is probably right for me. I’m going to continue focusing on heart-rate running and losing weight.
  • I started tracking my food again, so we’ll see if I can do a better job at planning my diet. This could be one of the biggest benefits for my marathon performance.

Looking forward to WEEK 5! The weeks are just flying by!

2021 Chicago Marathon: Training Week 3

The big highlights for this training week were increasing mileage on Wednesday and Charlotte Racefest 10K on Sunday.

Monday

Schatzi's yoga pose

Yoga Monday – done! I finished a whole yoga workout, which was good to finally do it. The stretching is very beneficial, and I need to strengthen my core. The whole point is to learn to clear your mind and focus on your breathing but…sigh. It’s so boring! There was an obstacle, but I was impressed she could hold the pose for 30 minutes.

Tuesday

The standard 3-mile Tuesday run was another heart-rate run. I did a great job on it averaging an 11:46/mi pace and an average heart rate of 148 bpm. I felt great, even though it was a very thick morning with 94% humidity. Ahh, summer is here and it’s only going to get worse!

Wednesday

It was like God knew how nervous I was to go up to 4 miles today, so He sent me a beautiful cool morning! It’s the only good explanation for getting such an amazing morning at the end of June. My run was fantastic this day. I was going to do a heart-rate run, but it was too pretty, so I just went. I finished the 4 miles with an 11:21/mi average pace but my heart rate was 164 bpm. I have the same mileage again next week, but Wednesdays will be a challenge going forward. Do I keep this as a heart rate run? Should I do tempo work or something? I’m not sure if there is a strategy for doing a semi-long run mid-week.

Thursday

Two beautiful mornings in a row?! What is going on here? Too bad this wouldn’t be the weather for the race on Sunday, but again, I’ll take it. I tried to do a heart-rate run, but I didn’t slow down enough. I averaged this 3 miles with an 11:35/mi pace and heart rate at 154 bpm, which isn’t too bad.

Friday

So, Fridays are strength days, which is supposed to be a Pure Barre morning. I couldn’t figure out how to buy individual classes on the app, since I can’t rationalize spending $140/mo for unlimited classes (I can’t only make the Friday morning one). I went for a walk with my sister, Shadow. I did some other body weight exercises, but I didn’t add a check on my training plan since I didn’t really do what I should have done. Sigh…I need to make a phone call.

Saturday

This is cross-training day, so I did a 45 minute walk (partly with Shadow). It was a humid morning and just a walk around the neighborhood, so not a lot to talk about there.

Sunday

me and my CRF medal

2021 Charlotte Racefest! Read my full race recap here. Since racing is BACK, and I enjoy the race environment, I am trying to sign up for more races to do with my long runs. I have a few scheduled, but I got into this one really last minute. There were 5 miles on the schedule since it was a down week, so this 10K would be perfect!

  • Goal A: run an 11:30/mile pace
  • Goal B: heart rate run
  • Goal C: finish the race

At the end of the day, I accomplished Goal A, but it wasn’t by planning or being methodical. I was proud to earn my second fastest 10K time of 1:10:02!

Onwards!

Week 3 is in the history books. Instagram has more posts for #2021ChicagoMarathon and runners are getting into their training. It’s very motivating to see. A lot of people ran 13-14 mile long runs this week. I need to focus on my training plan and not compare myself, but they are awesome! Here’s to week 4!

Race Recap: 2021 Charlotte Racefest 10K

Charlotte Racefest is an annual race here in town, but it was completely new to me. It supposed to be in April, so it was canceled in 2020, and they moved the 2021 date to June which was great since North Carolina’s COVID restrictions were lifted in May. The race is a half marathon and 10K.

While I hadn’t heard of the race before this year (not sure why), I came across it in my race research earlier this year. I didn’t sign up for the 10K yet because I wasn’t sure if I should do a lot of races during training, and I didn’t want to miss out on a lake weekend. Luckily, my parents went on vacation this week, so I was home. Unfortunately, when I went to register earlier this week, the 10K was sold out! I am not in shape to complete a half marathon, so I was really bummed. Then when I was surfing the interwebs on Wednesday or Thursday night, I saw it. No joke, but the registration page said “1 spot remaining” for the 10K. I jumped right on that. Not sure if it was an error or what, but I wasn’t asking any questions.

Check-In

The race and check-in were at Armored Cow Brewing Co., which was new to me. Personally, I thought this was a great location for pick-up and race start. It’s a large brewery and there is a TON of parking! Check-in was really easy. You checked in to get your bib then went to another station to pick up your shirt and bag. I think something definitely was off because I didn’t get a normal gold bib that the 10K racers received. Mine was black, so I’m thinking I snuck in. The race shirts were cute, too.

The Race

They did it for COVID protocol or because the greenway is narrow, but there were 5 waves. The half marathon started at 7 am and went off in 3 waves followed by two waves for the 10K. Most of the race was on the greenway, which was really nice. I’ve run on it before with the run club, but I don’t run there on my own so I’m not too familiar with it. The 10K (and the first half of the half) was an out-and-back past UNCC. There were two hills at the beginning which reared their ugly head about a mile from the finish. It was not pleasant!

Since it was so hot, the race team had water stations about every 1.5 miles. This was very appreciated, and I took water at the first two stops and a Gatorade at my third. I give major kudos to the half marathoners because it was HUMID!

My Goals

One of the things I’ve read is that you should plan an A, B, and C goal for races, which I think is really smart. My usual goal is usually just to finish, but I’m trying to be more structured. I really debated what my goals should be for this 10K. This was my weekend long run, so it’s supposed to be an easy pace. At the same time, it’s a race environment, so it’s a chance to kick it up a bit! What to do? Finally, around 5:40 am, I decided my goals should be:

  • Goal A: Run at 11:30/mile pace
  • Goal B: Run a heart-rate run
  • Goal C: Finish

My Performance

Well, I know I accomplished C and technically, I accomplished A, but it wasn’t because I was steady. I came out hard. It was so exciting to be part of a race and the was quick out of the gate. Isn’t that the first rule of racing – start out slow? Sigh. I looked down at my watch as I was getting onto the greenway to see I was running a sub-9 minute mile. YIKES! I tried hard to slow down and saw a mid-9 a little later. “SLOW DOWN!” I told myself, “You have 6 miles to go.” Not good to get so frustrated at the beginning, at the same time, I was enjoying the run. I just knew I couldn’t sustain it normally or in the humidity. My first-mile split was 10:03.

The rest of the run, I tried to run slow, but I really struggled. Whenever I looked at my wrist, I was running somewhere in the 10s, when I really needed to get into the 11s. I wouldn’t be able to sustain it, so I would walk (in the 14s). It went on like that for 5 miles. I want to run a steady pace; that’s what I’m worried about for Chicago. I need to focus on pace.

Well, around 5.3 there was a hill. Not just a hill but a BIG hill. So much for running the rest of the way. Almost everyone had to walk up that hill…and that was just the first one! Great course, but wow, those were two killer hills at the end. Poor half marathoners!

The Finish
me with my racefest medal

Luckily, I saved up a lot of gas to sprint at the end. Or at least I felt like I was sprinting. I felt good at the end and was very happy about the race. I was surprised to see my results – I averaged an 11:20/mile pace and finished with my second fastest time of 1:10:02!

Changes

I made a lot of changes to my normal routine, which definitely impacted my performance:

coaster
The medal was made to be a coaster. Haha!
  • Music. I normally run to podcasts or books since they are easy going. When I listen to music I want to sing or dance which wastes energy and causes me to go faster than I should. This likely contributed to my speedy take off, but I had fun listening to my songs when it was a struggle.
  • Pre-race fueling. My race didn’t start until 7:55 am, which is late for me. I have to eat something for a 6 miler, but it’s usually a piece of toast. With a finish around 9:15 am, I knew I was going to need something else. I had a waffle with peanut butter around 6:15 am and decided to have a Huma gel before the race. I think this worked well.
  • Nuun. Since I was nervous about the humidity, I had a Nuun before the race. I’m not sure if that helped at all or if it would have felt worse if I didn’t. My fingers get really big when it’s hot outside, and that still happened today. I’m not sure how to stop that, but I would like to figure it out since it uncomfortable.
  • Nerves. Even though I was just running this for fun and had to do the miles anyway, I still got really nervous before the race. Not sure how to reduce this feeling, but I need to figure it out. Even when I visualize standing at the start line for the marathon I get really nervous…and I’m not even there!

Chicago Marathon: Training Update Week 2

Week 2 down, 16 to go! This training week looked a lot like last week. I stuck to my runs and Pure Barre but I couldn’t finish my yoga workout on Monday…

Monday

I know I should do yoga and was actually ready for it today. I wanted something that would be about strength, but the session I picked was really slow and I couldn’t focus. Then, this one wanted to be involved…

Schatzi asking for scratches

Tuesday

Another heart rate run, which went really well. I ran 3 miles at a 12:01 pace at 154 bpm, and I felt really strong. I’m still having to walk to keep my heart rate down but I am running more and more later on in the run.

Wednesday

I’m not sure what happened but it didn’t feel like June in NC! Somehow there was no humidity and only 66F. It was gorgeous! I just wanted to run, so I didn’t watch my heart rate. I had a few walk breaks but ran 11:43 pace and my average heart rate was 162 bpm. It felt wonderful! It’s amazing what a difference it makes when it is humid. I can get really frustrated during summer running about taking walk breaks and feeling slow, but it really is because of the humidity. I don’t understand why it makes such an impact but it does.

Wednesday training runs start increasing in mileage next week. I’m nervous about it, but it’s probably more of a mental fear. I can’t decide if this longer run should be a speed or tempo workout or just cover the miles.

Thursday

I was out at the lake for this run, and I decided to take advantage and do my first hill workout of the season. Hill workouts (and the concept of speed workouts) were new to me during my Dopey 2020 training. I couldn’t believe how much that helped improve my running as opposed to just going out and running the distance. I thought “that’s how people become better runners!” So this will be a big part of my training now. I hate hills but love hill workouts. Not sure why but I always feel great afterwards. I ran 3.35 miles at 11:43 pace and a 162 bpm heart rate. (Thank you no humidity again!) There is a killer hill on this route. I did it twice, and felt great.

Friday

Pure Barre this morning was challenging and wonderful. I know my strength isn’t where I need it to be. I would love to hold the plank for all 90 seconds. Some days I can do it for half but today…nope. I could t hold it without modifying it at all. I was really frustrated, but that’s why I need to keep working. Yoga would also help with this. Gosh, it’s all connected!

An exciting highlight from today is I signed up for the Emerald City half marathon to do as part of my 16 miler in August.

Saturday

Cross-training Saturday! I’m really starting to enjoy this day. Originally, I was going to go swimming, but I didn’t get to the pool until the afternoon. This is when all of the people are there, and there were too many kids to be able to swim laps. Note to self: pool time needs to be in the morning! Instead, I went paddle boarding in the busy lake which made for a tricky time staying up! It was a lot of fun, but I didn’t go very fast between the wake and the wind.

The funny thing about paddle boarding is its hard out there, but I don’t realize how tired I am until I get off of it. This is also more enjoyable as a morning activity when the water is calmer so you can go further. I hate the water, so I try very hard to not fall in! I did a little stretching when I got home.

Sunday

This was my first 7 miler in a really long time, so I was a bit nervous about it. As mileage increases, I develop a fear that I won’t be able to cover the distance or that it will be hard. I went to bed last night ready to wake up and do the run before it got too hot (get out the door by 6 am). Not sure what weather app I was using, but it was heavy rain at 5 am and it didn’t look like it was going to let up anytime soon.

Laying in bed and evaluating my options, I decided to go back to sleep until 6 am. When I awoke again, I knew I needed to do something. I got dressed and made my way downstairs to create a plan thinking the rain may lessen at some point. I knew I would feel better if I finished my run and would regret it if I didn’t do it. My track record for not doing afternoon workouts is quite poor. Eventually, it looked like the red on the radar would be done around 8 am, so I made a go of it.

This was the second time I had actually run in the rain. My first time was the 2018 Rock ‘n Roll Chicago Half. I kept telling myself to find an easy pace (focusing again on heart rate) and just get it done. It wasn’t pleasant, but it wasn’t awful. At the end of the day, I felt great because I did it and 7 miles felt good. I also felt like I was a real runner! The one necessary thing you need to run in the rain is a hat. I didn’t have mine today, so I need to remember to pack it in the future…just in case.

I finished with an average pace of 12:24 and 157 bpm. It was hard to stop running to get my heart rate down because my running was feeling good. I know I need to be disciplined now, so I get better for later. Training is a long game; it’s literally a marathon, not a sprint!

Long-Run Changes
Huma

After last week’s 6 miles, I knew I needed to fuel better. In several blogs I’ve read recently, they have mentioned Huma gels. I’ve only ever used GU before (and Clif blocks as a treat), and if I get more than 2 in during a race, that is a major accomplishment, but I need more fuel for my speed on a marathon. They make me gag, and I have such a hard time getting them down. With all of my reading, I knew I should start trying other brands. I tried the Apples & Cinnamon one, and it was delicious! It was so easy to eat, and I didn’t gag at all. I’m definitely going to get these in the future. The positive is its natural ingredients, but it doesn’t have any caffeine.

The other big change was I splurged on a pair of Lululemon shorts. I can’t believe I paid $60 for a pair of workout shorts, but they were worth every penny! They have a material that dries faster, which really helped in my rain run. They were comfortable and didn’t slide, which is the issue I’m having with my other pair of shorts.

Harmless Harvest
My favorite recovery drink

In Summary…

Overall, this was a great week. I fulfilled my intentions (mostly) and am still feeling motivated for my training plan. I’m bracing myself because next week mileage increases on Wednesday, which is a big mental hurdle for me. Just keep doing the plan!

2021 Chicago Marathon: Training Week 1

Marathon training is finally here! What a long time coming. At this time last year, I was preparing but was fearing the worse. I don’t remember what day it was canceled, but it was about a year ago. Now, it’s a different story. GAME ON!

My training program is an 18-week program from Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 Program. This is what many people told me they used for their first marathon. I used the Disney training programs for my other two. This one is simple and focuses on building up mileage. Through my research, I know I should add in speed, tempo, and hill workouts, but I’m not quite sure where to put that. For the first two weeks, I am still going to focus on heart rate runs as I did at the end of pre-training.

Monday

I was mentally pumped up for my first day of training – yoga – but less pumped up for yoga. Long story short, I didn’t do it. Not a great start to the training season, but I think I need to have a better plan than just saying “do yoga.” I know it’s good for me, and I feel better after I do it, but gosh I hate doing it. So slow – just proof I need to focus better!

Tuesday

Today was a much better day. I woke up at 5 am for my morning routine before leaving at 6 am to go on my standard 3-mile run. I’m still focused on heart-rate training. It was a beautiful morning. Ran at 11:51 pace with an average 158 heart rate. Not great, but I was feeling good.

Wednesday

Same routine, same route. I keep aiming to keep my heart rate around 144, so I did better at 153 bpm with a 12:09 pace. The humidity was getting worse today, but alas, it is June in North Carolina! I was tired but feeling really good.

Thursday

My third run of the week – same routine, same route. I like this route a lot. There are a few small hills, but it is a flat route which is hard to find in my area. At some point during training, I think I will turn my 3-mile Thursday run into a hill workout. I did much better with my heart rate – 147 bpm! My pace was an even 12:00. When I look over my stats in Strava, I think I’m getting better. Apple Watch tracks your VO2 Max, but I think it’s supposed to be a high number. My number went down from a year ago, and since pre- pre-training in November, it continues to go down. A little confused about that, but I think I’m getting better. It was really humid today, but I felt good.

It is hard to keep going slowly to worry about heart rate. I keep reminding myself that training is not a race. This is the time to be disciplined and to practice the discipline needed to make myself a better runner.

Friday

Pure Barre day and I loved it! It’s such a good workout, and I always feel good after I leave. I have little strength, so I’m horrible at planks, but that’s why I go. I need to build up my core strength. A plus today is that I saw on my Apple watch that there are a lot more workout types than just what is on the main screen. I usually log my barre workouts as “Other” but saw today there is one for barre!

Saturday

Cross Training Saturday! I was pleased to see from my Apple Watch discovery yesterday that there is also a workout called “Paddle” which I gladly used today on my paddle boarding adventure. I LOVE to paddle board. For some reason I love it despite the fact that I am terrified of the lake and don’t swim in it. Perhaps it is my motivation to stay on the board. I went out for a 30-minute paddle. It was earlier in the morning, so the only boats out were fishermen. It gave me a good time to think. I always find mornings on the lake a good time to reflect and thank God for the life he has given me.

After coming in and having a banana and peanut butter (why does this always hit the spot?), I geared up for my 30-minute swim. After doing this two weeks ago, I knew I needed to prioritize this in my training.

Sunday

I went to bed early on Saturday, but I didn’t sleep well since the puppies decided to take up the whole bed. I woke at 5 am to make sure I ate (my banana last week wasn’t enough for me to cover 6 miles). I had a PB&J sandwich and water. I left shortly after 6 am. I wanted to get out before the heat was too bad, and while humidity was high, it wasn’t as bad as it has been. I focused again on keeping my heart rate around 144. I was able to run about a mile before having to walk to get it down. This route is very hilly, so my heart rate jumps a lot going up the hills.

Around mile 2.5 I wondered why this was hard. I felt like I wasn’t getting any better in running. I’ve been reading blogs of people who run in the 8 or 9 minute pace range – some in the 7! I was struggling to keep my heart rate down in the 12 minute range. Everything felt like a struggle, but at the same time, I was feeling good. Around mile 4, my thoughts changed. I felt like I was feeling strong and could keep going. Even at 6 miles in, I could have kept going. Maybe I am making progress. I finished the run with an average of 12:09/mile pace and average heart rate of 148. I’ll take it!

2021 Chicago Marathon: Pre-Training Update 7

Pre-training is DONE! I’m so proud of myself for sticking with my plan, and I am geared up to start training for the 2021 Chicago Marathon! I’m filled with a mixture of emotions: excitement, anxiety, hesitancy, pride. It’s a lot to sort through, but I’m definitely proud of myself for “fulfilling my intention.”

New Weekly Updates

As I mentioned, as part of my training, I have been reading a lot of blogs and following Instagram accounts for other runners. One that I’ve been devouring is The Runner Beans, a blogger named Charlie based in the UK. I’ve enjoyed reading about her running journey and her tips as someone who is somewhat a new runner and trying to get better. Before many of her races, she posts training updates each week, and I really enjoy reading about the types of workouts she does. I am going to do this to keep myself accountable for marathon training since I am doing it on my own. It will also be a fun way to document my journey to the start line.

Monday

This was supposed to be a strength day, but I just took a walk. I really struggle with strength training because I don’t enjoy it. Everything I read shows how important it is, so I need to prioritize it. I signed up for Apple Fitness+ which is pretty good. The sessions are easy to use and filters allow you to find different lengths or types. I just need to get my lazy self up to do it!

Tuesday

Three-mile run. I’m still doing heart rate training trying to run as close to a 144 heart rate as I can. In theory, this will help me run faster by improving my aerobic fitness ability. Tuesday was a particularly hard day – my heart rate monitor on my Apple Watch wasn’t working. My average heart rate was 173 and an 11:44/mi pace.

Wednesday

Another 3-mile run. I did a better job keeping my heart rate lower (154 bpm) and a 12:26/mi pace. This was global running day, and I enjoyed seeing all of the posts on Instagram from runners about the day.

Thursday

I did a 5K in celebration of Global Running Day (not sure why) but also to earn the NYRR Global Running 1M Strava trophy. Only had to do a 1M, but oh well. I also earned the June 5K. Heart rate was 152 ppm and a 12:02/mi.

Pure Barre
Friday

Friday’s are scheduled to be a strength day. I signed up for Class Pass and decided to go to the Pure Barre by my house. I stopped my membership there over the winter because I couldn’t handle working out in a mask and was tied of online class. Wow, I missed it. Class was back to normal and kicked my butt! This is the type of strength training I need. I love this class and plan to do this every Friday going forward.

Cyclebar Welcome
Loved this welcome on my locker!
Saturday

Saturday is cross-training day. With my Class Pass, I decided to try out Cyclebar. It’s a spinning class similar to Fly Wheel, but the team was so friendly and helpful. I had an awesome class and plan to integrate this into my training, too. What a great, low-impact workout. I would love to ride a real bike some time, but maybe this can help me get into shape for going on a bike trip somewhere.

Sunday
Finished my final 6-miler of pre-training!

My final 6-miler! I went out around 6 am with a focus to cover the mileage and keep my heart rate around 144. While I am able to run more consistently, I get in a groove then see my heart rate go to 167 or so. Then I walk to bring it back down, which takes a lot of discipline. This morning was very humid which affects me poorly. We’re getting to that point of the year in NC that I need to remember to just focus on the miles. The run is done, and I feel great! Average HR 147!

A look back…

Pre- pre-training started on November 23, 2020. I followed Hal Higdon’s very beginner plan for this. My goal for this period was to have the habit of running 3 days/week and build up my ability to run. I didn’t want distance to scare me, so it was mostly 1.5-2 mile runs. I wish I would have known about low heart rate training then. It kept me throughout the winter – in the cold and dark – plus it helped me regain the confidence I had been missing in running. I wanted to lose weight, too, but that didn’t happen.

pre pre training for chicago marathon

I started pre-training on March 15, 2021. This was the Hal Higdon longer Novice program. My goal for this was to take me to running consistently 4 days a week. I learned during my first half marathon the importance of these short runs in avoiding an injury. This process was great because the mileage wasn’t daunting, so I still focused on the habit of getting out there. I completed almost all of my runs, so I would consider it a huge win!

The most important thing is that I feel great! Running is fun again, and I get such a high when I’m finished. Stay tuned! Big things to come next week!

Race Recap: 2015 Savannah Half

The 2015 Rock ‘n Roll Savannah Half Marathon was my first half marathon. I’m writing this recap in June 2021 as motivation for my upcoming 2020 Chicago Marathon training efforts. While I didn’t have a blog at that time, I have always journaled about my big experiences, so I thought I would add those in as part of this recap.

I signed up for this race in February 2015. I had planned out the remaining of my 50 states by 30 goal, which would finish in May 2015. That had been instrumental to me and helping me through a down period in my life. I knew I needed another big goal to work towards when I finished that trip. By the time I visited Alaska, I knew a half marathon was my next focus. This was a SERIOUS race – I was so nervous I wouldn’t be able to finish, so I planned to take my training very seriously. My youngest brother also said he would join me on this adventure, so I was pumped!

Training

Several friends suggested that I follow Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 Marathon Training program. I ran a little in college (about 2 miles most days), but I never thought of myself as a runner – far from it – then fell out of working out for several years until I decided to pick up running again. At New Years’ in 2013, I did a Couch to 5K app then made a habit of running a few days a week through Central Park. This was an amazing experience. Between this and several friends getting into running, I started to gain an appreciation for the sport. I watched the Las Vegas Rock ‘n Roll Half/Full Marathon in December 2012 and the NYC Marathon in 2013, which provided a new perspective. These people had a goal and did the required training to achieve it. Maybe I could do it, too.

When I started the training, I was not accustomed to running 4 days/week. I think I was running 2 or 3 at the time. My main worry was about the distance, so I made sure I always did my long run on the weekend. I traveled to Austin to do a 7-mile training run on the Colorado River with my brother. Then, in October, I visited my friends in NYC to do my 11-mile training run in Central Park.

How to Make a Stress Fracture

Even though I was diligent about my weekend long runs, I was not good about my week day runs. I’m sure there were weeks that I didn’t do any of them. I just thought I needed to make sure to cover the distance, no matter how hard it got. When I visited NYC, I stayed with a friend who had run the NYC Marathon several times and another friend who was training for it. I had a lot of good motivation around, and I wanted to keep up with them.

I stuck with my friend on our 11 miler, running the first 7 miles without walking – a first for me. Then I ran/walked at the end. I’m not sure what part of it I told her to go ahead of me, but I was walking at the end. I was hurting, and I assumed I had a sore muscle. I’m the worse when it comes to pain. I don’t get specific, except just that it hurts.

After the run, I met up with my other friend who was running 7 miles after doing a half marathon race in the park. We made our way back to Hoboken as I hobbled down subway stairs. We rushed around the city later to catch rush tickets to An American in Paris on Broadway. My foot/leg/lower half hurt, but I just assumed I over did it. Eventually, I went home and was feeling okay. No runs during the week.

The pain returns…

I didn’t run over the week, but the next weekend I tried to run 5 miles. I made it about 2 or 3 miles before I broke down crying and called my mom to come to pick me up. It was awful. Not only was I in pain, but a half marathon is a lot more than 3 miles. I went to the urgent care (I will never go to one with a running injury again) who took an x-ray and said everything was fine. I went home to ice my foot and my ego. The next week, I visited a sports doctor a friend recommended. He did a horribly painful exercise to test for tendonitis in my foot. He basically used a ribbed (not sharp) pizza cutter-like tool to separate the tendons in my foot. It horribly bruised my foot since I bruise like a peach. He said to run some the next week – if it started out painful, then keep running, as it would work itself out. If it got worse while I was running, he would send me to a different specialist.

Well, it got worse as I ran. I couldn’t take it. Reluctantly, I made an appointment since I wanted to run long-term. He said of the 8 people to visit him for possible stress fractures, I was the winner. He explained to me the importance of training during the week. Those runs are to help your body build up the ability to be on your feet and handle the stress of running. Between not doing those runs and then going into overdrive in NYC, I had created a stress fracture on my right foot. I was to stay off my feet for some number of weeks – no running at Savannah.

A Very Tough Decision

My world was crushed. I was so close, and I ruined it. I regretted not running my weekly goals. When I asked my brother his plans for the weekend, he said he was going to do the race even though he hadn’t done a training run since our 7-miler in mid-August. Even though I was jealous, I said I would go and cheer him on. Our parents and brother were going to come, too.

I walk sulking to my friend who is a really good runner and had run many races. He suggested that I should walk the race. I couldn’t believe the suggestion – was he serious?! I was scared about getting last place when I was running! If I were to walk, I’m sure I wouldn’t even make it past the 15-minute pace requirement. What if my foot hurt, and I couldn’t make it to the finish line. He explained to me that there would be medical tents throughout the course that could help me if I was in pain, that lots of people walk through the race so I wouldn’t look unusual, and also assured me that I wouldn’t get last place.

I agonized over this for days. Then, a few days before we were leaving, I went on a 3-mile walk and didn’t have any pain. “Okay,” I thought. “I’m good to go. I can’t miss out on this opportunity.”

Travel to Savannah

Savannah is a four-hour drive, so my family went down the night before. We stayed downtown on the Riverwalk so we could get to the start line easily the next morning. We stopped at the expo before crossing the bridge. What an unreal first expo experience. It was so exciting getting our bib and t-shirt then walking around at everything running. To that point, I knew to get a good pair of shoes and some GU gels, but I that was about it. I didn’t know about all of the things you could sell runners.

We went to dinner on the Riverwalk where I had a simple dish of pasta and vegetables. My brother and I laid out our clothes (I didn’t know to take pictures then!) and went to sleep. Early the next morning we got up, had our Cliff bars, and walked to the park.

The Start Line

Having only done three races (a small 5K, a small 10K, and a run at Yankees Stadium), this Rock ‘n Roll event was like something we had never seen before! It was insane how many people were there. My brother went to his corral in front, and I went to the back of my corral. I didn’t want to start in the back because I would need extra time to walk. I was so stressed about making the time limit and finishing.

While we were waiting, I started talking to a pacer and asking about her experience. To my surprise, a girl in our conversation said she was doing the marathon and hadn’t trained at all because someone told her she could walk and she “did that sometimes”! The pacer started giving her a lot of warnings, but it shocked me. Maybe I wouldn’t be too bad off, but I was really worried for her. The heat index was also unseasonably high for November, so the event crew was actually redirecting the marathon route to try to find more shade. After completing this race and Disney races, I give the race event teams a lot of credit. They are dealing with a variety of kinds of people. While I believe that everyone can do a half or a full who wants to, I do believe you need to train for them and have a healthy level of fitness. Even though my brother didn’t have a running plan he did, he was a very active, athletically inclined young male. As you will see later, I am very jealous of people like him.

Anyway, the national anthem played and the race started! We were off – I was doing a half marathon!

The Race

The minimum pace limit was 15:00/mile but my friend said I would have more than that if I didn’t start in the back. The last person at only 15:00/mile. My goal was to be around that pace, which would have me finish in just over 3 hours. I didn’t have a watch or anything at that time, so I don’t remember how I clocked it. I guess I just watched the race clock.

Even though I was walking, I have a quick walk. Even from the beginning, I was passing people, and I have no idea how. I was terrified of coming in the last place. The first mile or two was through the city with lots of spectators and funny signs. Since this was my first big race, I was surprised by all of the signs! I loved it! The first one I saw (or the one that I will always remember) was a man standing on a street corner. He was holding a bright yellow piece of cardboard in one hand and a beer in the other. It said “It’s early. I’m drinking. You’re running. I’m winning.” It was so appropriate for the drinking town of Savannah, and I laughed so hard.

The beginning of the race went through some neighborhoods I wouldn’t have ventured to on a normal trip. Many of the residents came out to cheer us on and they seemed happy to see us.

Savannah finish

Around mile 5, we made our way back to the historic area of Savanah, which I find beautiful. It is gorgeous to see how the Spanish Moss falls off the trees around all of the squares. The course has a lot of out-and-backs and the middle part goes around parks, so it’s a great race to have spectators. They don’t have to walk very far to see you at 2 or 3 different spots. Seeing them was a huge boost.

The Finish

Overall, I felt great. I got a cramp twice, and it was hard not to run, but I finished in 3:01. I was so proud of myself and everyone who participated. It was an incredibly hot day that day, so it was not an easy race.

Post-Race

Rascal Flatts

One of the best things about this race was one of my favorite bands, Rascal Flatts, was the post-race entertainment! I couldn’t believe such a big and popular band would be playing FOR FREE after the race. I was in heaven.

My brother killed his first half. I think he finished around 2:30, which is amazing for not training. He had a killer cramp in his leg that was saved when someone gave him bananas to eat. He caught the running bug, too, and went on to do two more with even less training, more drinking, and both were PRs. I don’t quite understand how people can do that. I have to train, and training is a real bear. More power to them, but I will never understand how some people’s bodies can do that.

victory lunch
Shrimp and Grits was the perfect victory lunch

What I found amazing about this experience is that anyone really can participate in a long-distance race if he or she wants to do it. I didn’t believe people when they told me that before. I think one of my friends is right. He always encourages to do half marathons because anyone can do that without a ton of changes in their daily lives. Marathons require more adaptations, but they are possible. You just have to put your mind to doing it.

It was a long journey, but I made it! I’m glad I was encouraged to walk the race since I really wasn’t out of place. A lot of people walk during the race, and I was able to do it without hurting my foot more. I finished my first half marathon on November 7, 2015. This was the start of a new hobby and passion.

50 States by 30

Flatiron Building in the snow

One of the biggest goals I have ever accomplished is traveling to all 50 states by the time I was 30. This crazy thought came to me in 2013 when I was 28 years old living in NYC. The problem was I didn’t have an interesting fact. Whenever people introduce themselves at work events, you had to say your name and an interesting fact. I didn’t have anything, and I needed one. Urgently. I love traveling and visiting all 50 states was something I had on my list of life goals; why shouldn’t I put a timeline on it and do it?

I love to plan things. That’s usually some of the best parts of doing something. When I’m stressed, I can calm myself with a spreadsheet, a calendar, and now my budget. This endeavor to visit 26 states in a year and a half would require some major planning! Fortunately, I was living in the Northeast for the first time, so I could take advantage of easier traveling to all of these northern states.

Me at the Mendenhall Glacier – State 50!

But what would the criteria be? Everyone has different definitions of what counts. None are right or wrong. I decided my criteria would be, if someone asks, “what did you do in _______?”, I needed to have a good answer. A story was required, and it wouldn’t be cool to say “I flew through the airport” or something.”

On May 25, 2015, I stepped foot off a cruise ship in Juneau, Alaska! I was so happy I cried; I couldn’t believe I actually did it at 30 years, 1 month, and 14 days old (cruises don’t travel in April). That night at dinner on the cruise ship, my dad ordered a few bottles of champagne and made a toast about my accomplishment with my friends and family who made the trip. It was a wonderful end to the adventure.

I love looking back on these trips since I learned so much about myself and traveling.

Takeaways

There is so much to say about this experience. I get lots of questions about the experience since I think people want to visit 50 states for themselves. Everyone’s journey will be different but everyone can complete the journey.

What was your favorite state?

The short answer to this question is North Carolina since it is my home and the best place I can think of to be. I love it here. Of course, that is not what people want to know when they ask that question. I use NC as the answer because I don’t have another answer. Each state has its own uniqueness that I appreciated.

Washington natural beauty
What places stood out to you?

This is a much easier question to answer. The first place I visited that threw me off my feet was Seattle. I had never been somewhere so naturally beautiful. Until I visited there, I didn’t even know what that term meant. I had never been to natural places before then, but the beauty was stunning. Subsequent visits took me to Maine and Alaska, where I saw the same natural beauty.

Was anywhere surprising?

South Dakota was the state that surprised me the most. I didn’t know what to expect but it was my second national park experience (I didn’t realize that at the time – I just wanted to see a buffalo and Mt. Rushmore). There was so much to do there, and it was so beautiful! I wish I would have stayed for longer, but it far exceeded my non-existent expectations.

Mt Rushmore
How did you pay for all of the travel?

I am very fortunate for this, since I had visited almost half of the states already, and one was Hawaii. For the remainder, I was lucky that I was able to visit friends, had friends interested in traveling who split the cost, and was able to get gift cards from spending money on a corporate card for work. I also saved my money and used these trips as my main form of entertainment.

Why do this?

As I mentioned before, I did this so I could have an interesting fact about myself; it was as shallow as that. I always loved traveling and wanted to cross off 50 states as some point, but I accelerated it so I had a fun fact. Consider that done!

Are you glad you did this?

For many reasons, this is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I was struggling emotionally, and this experience helped me come out of that. It gave me purpose and something to plan and work towards. Even if it was just for the chance to have an interesting fact, it helped me become a stronger person. I learned that I was capable of accomplishing big things, and I could do those things by myself and with people who care about me.

The States

50 states blank
I printed off this map and colored in the state after I visited. I’m sure I spent hours looking at this map.

I’m going to document my trips over time and will link them below. This is a goal anyone can accomplish, and I think everyone should! It’s an amazing way to see the great country of America and how vast and unique it is from sea to shining sea!

Visited PriorVisited to Complete Goal
CaliforniaAlabama
DelawareAlaska
FloridaArizona
GeorgiaArkansas
HawaiiColorado
IllinoisConnecticut
IowaIdaho
KentuckyIndiana
LouisianaKansas
MarylandMaine
MassachusettesMinnesota
MichiganMontana
MississippiNebraska
MissouriNew Hampshire
NevadaNorth Dakota
New JerseyOklahoma
New YorkOregon
North CarolinaRhodes Island
OhioSouth Dakota
PennsylvaniaTennessee
South CarolinaTexas
VirginiaUtah
West VirginiaVermont
Washington
Wisconsin
Wyoming
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