Monday, December 31, 2018

Peace out 2018, ready to #doepicshit in 2019!

2018 just wasn’t my year. And not to say that amazingly wonderful things didn’t happen, it just wasn’t the year I anticipated having.
Sober January. In an effort to try to lower my resting heart rate, clean up my diet, and just take a break from booze, I decided to embark on sober January with a couple of internet friends. There were times that I kind of missed it when I’d go out with friends, but it was not that difficult to commit to overall. That being said, I was happy to return to the world of IPAs in February.
I had some top of foot pain following my races in December (er...2017) and decided to give myself a week’s rest the second week of January. Any niggles of pain I’ve had in the past have generally subsided within a week’s worth of rest. This was different. The pain was still there and despite me backing off my effort and mileage, I decided I needed to see a doctor.
After an initial diagnosis of tendinitis, my PT saw that I wasn’t feeling any improvement and suggested I see a podiatrist. Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with a metatarsal stress reaction and sentenced to a boot.
February was a blur of depression. I couldn’t run, bike, elliptical, row, or walk. For someone who thrives on sweating, this was tough. I ultimately found some YouTube videos that allowed me to work up a sweat from a chair and took out all my aggression on weights.
I re-joined the gym so that I could swim and was allowed to bike early on in the month. Ultimately, I decided to nix the bike because the strap irritated the top of my foot. Despite me spending as many hours cross-training as I do during peak mileage weeks, I felt incredibly out of shape when I came out of the boot.
The first few runs were tentative and my heart and head were in another place with Adam’s mom’s passing. It was the oddest mixture of grief over her loss of life and my own selfish joy being able to run again.
It never was out of the question that I would run Boston. The race, plane tickets, and Airbnb were all paid for and come hell or high water (pun intended), I would be there. I had 3 weeks of weight-bearing training when I toed the line. Fortunately, the misery of the elements nearly outshadowed everything else and I was so numb that even if my foot was in pain (which it wasn’t), I don’t know that I would have been able to feel it.
I thought things were looking up in May, but in retrospect, things just never really clicked. Perhaps I was too overconfident after Boston or too overzealous after 2 months of not running. Either way, I had a couple of good runs and a whole bunch of bad ones. As the month drug on, a soreness in my right tibia started to increase. I managed to eke out a pacing gig for Lauren at CJ100, but that was the last bit of strength I’d feel for months.
Sentenced to the boot again for a tibial stress reaction, I halted all exercise for a week. It was strange. At times, it felt all too easy, but well, it was easy. But at the same time, I craved those endorphins and sweat like a coffee addict needs caffeine. Towards the end of the month, I was working out again, but not with the same gusto I had in the first boot. I was in a funk.
Hot, miserable, and not running. Watching everyone go for big mileage and feeling really sad I was not able to be a part of it. The only good news was that by the end of the month, I was able to remove the boot and start weight-bearing exercise again.
Having somewhat learned from my previous mistakes, I started running again very slowly. I mixed in cross-training to stay fit and really tried to be okay with a slower pace. The doctor told me it would take about 5-6 weeks before things started to feel normal. Lo and behold, I started to notice those little things in both running and in regular life that made me feel more like me again.
I had long ago agreed (actually in sober January) that I would be a part of an Ironman relay team and complete the run leg. Unfortunately, with all of my injuries, I had been on the fence for months about actually committing. But, come the first part of September, I felt like I could complete 13.1 and not do any long-term damage.
It was extraordinarily hot the day of the race and I was honestly glad that I was not in peak racing form or else I would have been pretty upset to go after it in 90°+ at noon. However, I was still pleased to finish in a respectable time of 1:40 and help solidify a 5th place finish for our team.
At the end of September, I returned to Hinson Lake 24 where I completed 23ish miles of running before forcing myself to take a break. After that, I did a little bit more running and then a ton of walking. I ended up with 58 miles total and was happily tired, but not broken.
With the NYC marathon on the horizon, it was time to get serious about trying to get in a few key workouts before the race. Once recovered from Hinson, I looked to get in one 20 mile road run and a few speed work sessions before race day. I knew I didn’t have the same buildup of training in my legs as I had in marathons before the injuries, but I also knew there was something to be said for my first “real” race back and the confidence of having run that fast before.
NYC had perfect weather and everything came together for another BQ. I was aiming for somewhere between 3:20 - 3:30 and ended up with 3:24. Happily, I spent a couple of days resting and then did a reverse taper to get ready for Rehoboth. I didn’t fret when things weren’t clicking right away and just waited for my legs to feel good again to push the pace. I ended up running at the track one night because I didn’t want to mess with my headlamp and ran my fastest 5k and 10k according to my Garmin without looking at my watch for any splits.
Magical Rehoboth gave me a solid, healthy race in which I really didn’t feel like I was redlining the whole time. I knew that a PR was not in the cards for me and even a course PR was going to be nearly impossible. So a happy, healthy BQ? Yes, please!
2018 Goals:
  1. Volunteer/crew/pace > 5 races - check!  
  • Spectate/photos - Suwanee Half Marathon 2.11.18
  • Bib pickup & finisher medal handout - Run Your Bundts Off 5k 2.25.18
  • Crew (...ish) - Blind Pig 100 3.3.18
  • Spectate/photos - Yeti 7/11 3.10.18
  • Aid station volunteer - Umstead 100 4.7.18
  • Pacer - Cruel Jewel 100 5.19.18
  • Spectate/crew - Midsummer’s Night Dream 6.16.18
  • Aid station volunteer - Merrill’s Mile 7.6.18
  • Drop bag transport - H9 Dragon 8.4.18
  • Aid station volunteer/course sweep - Yeti Snakebite 50k 9.9.18
  • Course sweep - Bull Mountain Epic 10.6.18
  • Pacer - Stroll in the Park 11.25.18
  • Crew/pacer - Chattanooga 100 11.30.18
2. Marathon <3:10 - nope
Not even close. 3:24 was my best effort of 2018, but considering the amount of time in the boot, I’m okay with it.
3. 100 mile race (not a 24 hour) - nope
See #2.
4. 200,000 impression on LinkedIn - nope
Not to make excuses, but my workflow was revamped in March and I become only a supplemental contributor by September. So even if we were at 200,000, it wouldn’t really be my work anyway.
5. Master InDesign - nope

See #4. I got better, but my job no longer required me to use it much.
6. 12 new recipes - check!
Extra checks. I stopped keeping track after the first 13. I bought a few new cookbooks and happily found some new recipes to add to my regular repertoire.
7. Read >20 books - check!
33 and counting. It’s funny that it years past, I’ve had the goal of 26 per year and never made it. This year, I lowered my goal and went above and beyond. Best books: Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison, Open by Andre Agassi, and Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory by Deena Kastor.
8. Prepare financially & physically for Everest Marathon 2019 - check
I slowly accumulated the money I would need to travel and buy gear for my trip. I hit my financial goal a couple of months ago and while I spent a lot of the year physically broken, the last quarter has me feeling much more confident about getting to Base Camp (and back home) in one piece.
9. Camp 2+ nights - not really
I did camp in my tent more than 2 nights. But when I wrote this, I intended to have camping trip that would actually last 2 nights. And all my camping this year has been car camping - where my gear has be extremely accessible. 
10. Finish the Georgia Appalachian Trail - nope
I still have Dick’s Creek Gap to the NC border to finish - a jaunt of 8.9 miles. I did finish the Tray Mountain to Dick’s Creek Gap section in two different hiking trips.
11. Strength or Stretch > 30 minutes weekly - check!
One of the few areas my injury actually helped me reach a goal was getting in strength and/or stretching 30+ minutes a week. I had really gotten away from this after getting into ultras and am happily seeing/feeling how it is benefiting my running and overall fitness.
For 2019, I am excited to tackle a big spring of racing and then see where my heart takes me for the second half of the year. If there is anything 2018 taught me, it’s not taking my health for granted and to roll with the punches. For the first time in my adult life, I have a coach and I'm looking forward to a smart training block to kick of 2019.
Many of my goals for 2019 are running-centrified, but as in 2018, I made sure to include other things to keep me well-rounded - to do things for myself and to do things for others. 
Here’s what I’m aiming for in 2019:
  1. 2019 miles in 2019 - Running miles preferred, but I’ll cut myself some slack if I do a lot more hiking in the second half of the year.
  2. 60 minute stretch/strength/cross-train per week - Some weeks were tough to even get in the 30 minutes in 2018 so this will be a challenge as I bump up to 6 days of running per week. But I’m hoping to incorporate more mini sessions of things like core work and resistance bands.
  3. 2 weeks (Mon - Thu) of meal planning per month - More running leads to more runger which leads to (often) more careless eating. If I can manage to plan for 8 days out of the month, I will hopefully stay a bit more balanced. I’ll take a free pass when traveling for 3 weeks in May.  
  4. Volunteer/crew/pace/spectate 10+ races - It may be tough with my own race schedule, but the goal is to continue to help others achieve their own finish line success stories.  
  5. PR in a distance less than a marathon - Considering all of my PRs in distances less than a marathon are very, very soft, this should be the easiest one to check off. But that also requires me to enter a “short” race and race it.
  6. 100 mile trail run or marathon PR - I’m carrying this over from 2018. It won’t happen this spring so I will look to the fall to see where my heart lies in my training.  
  7. Read 30+ books - I have a minimum of over 50 hours of flying time scheduled for next year. I expect to read less with the uptick in running, but carve out more time by looking at my phone less. 
  8. Call and/or write Grandma at least once per month - She’s 96 and is still 100% lucid. Her self-deprecating humor and never-ending compliments are the best.
  9. One no spend month - Back in 2007, Adam and I were saving for our first house and went on “the house diet”. We severely curtailed all spending to just the necessities and allowed ourselves one meal out per month as a special treat. I’m not saving for anything in particular right now, but I also feel like a no spend month would be good to save a little extra cash and make me think twice about things that I need rather than just want.
  10. Get a check up from all the docs - I’m great about my biannual dentist visits, but am pretty spotty about the regular doctor and eye doctor.
  11. Do something kind once per week - It can be anonymous or not. A large gesture or something small. The idea is to be thoughtful about it when possible and to make someone’s day a little cheerier.  
I hit half my goals in 2018 and while my intention of course was to hit all of them, I am actually feeling really great about what I accomplished. And that’s what I’m looking to do in 2019. Sure, it would amazing to hit them all. But also just having things to aim for is good too. I keep a printout of my goals at my desk at work as a reminder that A) I have a life outside of work and B) to constantly be aware of what I want to achieve.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Rehoboth Runparty #6!

I had no horse in the race. I had a BQ for 2020. Even a course PR seemed unlikely given the wobbly weeks leading up to the week.

And truth be told, I just wanted revenge on last year’s race. My only expectation was to feel in a good place mentally for most of the race. Last year, I went out hard, hoping for a new PR. Instead, I succumbed to the demons mid-race and struggled to find that drive until the last 10K.

Rehoboth has been good to me every year though. And I often let the thought trickle into my brain that the worst possible thing that could happen would still mean I’d be surrounded by my favorite internet weirdos in the beer tent when finished.

As we discussed our plans (or lack thereof) on Friday, I said I wanted to find the 3:25 pacer on race morning. Randy, Eric, & Ken all discussed pacing Caitlin and I wavered on helping myself. I didn’t want to put any undue pressure on her to stick with anyone or be unnecessarily distracted.

We left around 6:40 a.m. on race morning for the 7:00 a.m. start - another reason I love this race and the awesome house location Caitlin has secured the past 3 years. The weather was perfect. Cold, no wind, and sunny skies to follow. I was actually okay in my shorts, tank, arm warmers, and throwaway hoodie. Looking around, I didn’t see the 3:25 pacer and ultimately decided that maybe I would just stick with the Loop pacers and see what transpired.

For a short while the pace team ran with John and Abby who were racing the half and then we all kind of got lost in the shuffle until we reached the turnaround. Ken and I ran shoulder to shoulder for awhile, keeping the pace around 8ish and then slowly I started to drop into the 7:50s. I peeled off my hoodie near the first water stop, warmed up with a couple of miles on my legs.

Once we hit the trail portion, I began to play leapfrog with Eric and Randy. I don’t know if any of us were being intentional with our pace swapping, but it was kind of nice to share the work as we worked our way across the trails. Because I was not so focused on a time goal this year, I actually took the time to look around and really soak in the morning, feeling pretty lucky to be doing the thing I love.

The Vaporfly is not a great shoe on the trails so I was relieved to get onto the pavement where I could finally feel some pop in my step. It felt good to be cruising with the gas pedal a few inches away from the redline.

I slowly gapped the pace team for a bit, pulling up closely with a group of runners who were talking and running 7:50s steadily. As we reached the first major turnaround, I looked forward to seeing Loopsters out on the course - though somehow I only managed to see Steve.

As I headed back towards the park, Randy and Eric caught back up with me. It was good to have company again, even if I was just jamming out to my music and letting them jabber at random. We played leapfrog once again and clipped off some 7:30s on the trail section on the way back. Sensing that was a bit too aggressive, too early, I tried to stick to the back of our little pack.

Once we hit the road and headed into town, mile 16 started to swallow runners up. It certainly was wearing on my own legs, but there was no acute pain or distress and I told myself to just stay strong between the ears. Maybe it was Demi Lovato’s “Confident” coming on at the right time, but I started to push a little harder as we crept back to town.
Two runners ahead of me were clearly feeling strong and I kept them in my sights as we passed the finish line area and got wooed at by the Loopster cheer squad. I wasn’t really slowing down at this point, but the 7:50s started to get a little tougher. I looked down at my Garmin and saw that I probably had an hour’s worth of running to do. I can run for another hour.

Freshly inspired on the trail section by the first few marathon runners, I just told myself to get to the last turnaround with enough left in the tank to push hard for the final miles. At this point, I wasn’t really sure where any other Loopster marathoners were, but I was super happy to see Jill & Sara all smiles wrapping up their final of the half.

I took my time to grab Gatorade at the last stop before the final turnaround and then rallied to get to that point where I just had to hold on. Checking my watch, I could see that I had a comfortable cushion to stay under 3:30 if I didn’t fall apart.

After tapping the mat at the turnaround, I saw that Eric was maybe 30 - 45 seconds behind me with Randy and Ken not too close behind him. In years past, I have felt pretty strong in the flag section and this time, it would be best described as steady. I wasn’t fading hard, but I also wasn’t speeding up either. Just cruising (and pretending like marathons aren't hard).
I saw Caitlin ahead of the 3:40 group (which at the time I thought was the 3:30 group) and gave her a shout, followed by Steve who looked happy and cruising, and then Angie, who was crushing it!

Coming off the trail and onto the road, I was starting to feel bonkish. My vision narrowed and I began to argue with myself over just getting it done and pushing versus not caring about the time and relaxing. I bypassed the last water stop, trying to maintain my stride and focus on finishing strong.

Past mile 26, I high-fived the cheer squad and saw the finish chute was mostly clear - a great time to execute a jump finish!


3:26:21! 12th female & 3rd in the 35-39 age group. I was handed a heat sheet and a medal and then promptly went behind the bushes near the finish line and puked. Shortly thereafter, I stood at the finish line, waiting for Eric, Randy, Ken, and Caitlin to finish their
races, high-fiving, fist-bumping, and hugging as they came through.

The rest of the day and night included shenanigans as usual - the real reason I go run a marathon in Rehoboth Beach every December.