Training for Tuesday Kickoff!


When Alyssa and I first started talking about this link-up just a few weeks ago, this was not the post I thought I'd be writing. I thought I'd be sharing the ins and outs of training for my 3rd marathon (that's counting in my life, and this year), the Richmond Marathon. I thought I'd be talking about getting up to 18 miles, and how I thought I'd break 4:30.

I've been training for this race since early July. I completely underestimated how much summer training would be involved for a November marathon, but despite that, I've somehow managed to hit all my goal distances and paces. Just meeting this goals hasn't been enough, though. My heart just hasn't been in this training cycle, even from the beginning. Truthfully, it's been a long time coming, but after my long run this past weekend, I made a decision:

I dropped to the half marathon. 

I've been following a training plan but something just hasn't been clicking. I've run half marathon+ distances every weekend for the last 2 months, but to be honest, I've been struggling to get much further past that point. The thought of running another 10+ miles on top of what I've been running every weekend just doesn't sound fun to me right now. Two weekends ago I ran 17 miles, and the weekend after I was supposed to run 18. That's when when the wheels came off. I was already mentally struggling with the idea of my long runs, and that day, thinking about running for 3 hours through the mountains, I just couldn't take it anymore. And I panicked. I've never backed down on a goal halfway through training for it. It felt...wrong. I thought I was just being emotional and I needed to tough it out. I did end up running 3 miles in the morning and another 10 at night, but I wasn't confident about running the full. I told myself I'd take the week to evaluate and make a decision, since I was a week ahead of my training schedule and the race transfer date was approaching.

At the beginning of last week, I was pretty sure I was going to run the full. I had just had a bad run and needed to shake it off. Everyone bonks sometimes. Until 11.5 miles into my 13-mile run last week, I was still planning to run the full. Then, all of a sudden, I had a moment of clarity. I was happy to drop down to the half. There is something really magical and special about the marathon. One thing I am confident about is that I am not done with marathoning. Maybe I'm done with it this year, or this decade, or until I'm done with school, or until I move somewhere flatter, but I'm not done forever. I'm excited to revisit the beast that is the marathon when the time is right - I think I'll know when the time comes. But it's been over a year since the last time I focused on any distance under 26.2, and honestly, I'm kind of happy to get off the marathon train for now.

One thing that was important to Alyssa and me for this linkup was to share that ALL goals are good and worthy, so I felt like it was important to practice what I preach and put this out there. I don't know why, but this was a hard lesson for me to learn. I don't know at what point my brain got hard-wired into thinking the only thing I could do from this point forward is run marathons. To be totally honest with you, I'm still having a little trouble accepting it. I know my heart isn't really into committing to training, but I still felt a little sadness clicking the "Transfer" button. But I know it's the right thing to do. I don't need to run super long distances to feel good or validated. This is better for my schedule. It will allow me to add in speed work and even race some shorter distances. I'll be able to run some of my favorite fall races. I'm excited to have different goals (mainly speedy goals!) to work toward. I'm excited to not be so tired and hungry all the time.  I'm excited to not constantly worry how I can perfectly schedule my time so I can get in all of my runs and my school commitments. I'm excited to have my weekends back and not have them completely revolve around running. I'm excited to have a little more balance in my life.

So! Now that the marathon is off the table, I'm super thrilled to kick off this first edition with Training for Tuesday with the goals I've decided to work on: PR's all around! It has been a year and a half since the last time I trained for and raced a half marathon. I've put in a lot of miles in that time, and that has naturally led me to some unexpected PR's, but I'm excited to see what I can really do if I train specifically for shorter distances.

5k (Goal race: TBD - hopefully November or December. Anyone got a good 5k in southwest VA, Virginia Beach, or Raleigh that I should run?!))
  • Realistic Goal: beat my official PR by over a minute (under 26:00)
  • Reach Goal: beat my unofficial PR (under 25:27)
  • Crazy Goal: sub-8 minute pace (under 24:49) *please note this would require taking 13 seconds per mile off my unofficial time and running a pace with a 7 on the front for the first time in my life!
10k (Goal Race: Wicked 10k, October 25)
  • Realistic Goal: beat my official PR by over a minute (under 54:00)
  • Reach Goal: beat my unofficial PR (under 52:42)
  • Crazy Goal: under 52:00
Half Marathon (Goal Races: Hokie Half, October 12; City of Oaks Half, November 2; Richmond Half, November 15)
  • Realistic Goal: beat my official PR under 2:09:59)
  • Reach Goal: under 2:00:00
  • Crazy Goals:
    • Sub-9 minute pace (under 1:57:46)
    • 45 minutes faster than my first half (under 1:57:21)
I already had two halfs scheduled as part of my marathon training, and now dropping to the half for Richmond gives me a total of three chances to shoot for one or all of my half marathon goals. Those races will also qualify me for Half Fanatics for the second time - maybe I'll even join this time since I might actually feel like it's true. I'm most excited about the half and shooting for my first (official) sub-2. It's been an elusive goal for such a long time and one that I never in a million years thought was attainable (even moreso than a marathon, I think). Even back when I didn't know if I'd ever be able to run a full 5k, let alone any longer distance, I think deep down I always knew I could get through any distance given enough time. That's why I attempted a marathon in the first place - I knew it wouldn't be fast, but I knew I could get it done. Speed has always been another, completely different story. It's why my 10k PR race is one of proudest running moments. As a girl who started out with a 38 minute 5k, there was no part of me that ever though I could be a fast runner (and yes, 8-9 minute miles is fast to me).

Now it's your turn! Party time!

1. Write a blog post about whatever fitness-related goal you're working toward. It can be ANYTHING. No goal is too big or too small. You might write about...
- A race or triathlon you're currently in training for, like Alyssa and I
- Your weightlifting goal of any kind
- Your goal to establish a workout or fitness routine, like hit the gym 3 times a week or start going to weekly yoga classes
- A goal to touch your toes by X date
- Your goal to be able to run a mile without stopping (FYI: It wasn't long ago that Alyssa and I both started out with this as a goal!)
- A time or distance personal record (PR) with running, swimming, biking, anything!
- Your goal to tone those calves and quads
- Headstand, handstand, crow pose, or whatever pose or asana currently alludes you
- Anything else you can think of!
2. Link up your post with Alyssa and I below

3. Add the button to your post or your sidebar and/or link back to either Alyssa or I in your linked
post so your readers can find similar posts and we can all connect!

4. We'd love to create a community of ass-kickers here, so hop around to other linked blogs and read about the goals others in our little family are working toward. A few words of support, advice, encouragement, or even commiseration can go a very long way. Spread the love and build your community of cheerleaders and motivators!

5. Go out there and keep being awesome!

We'll be back for around round on October 28! Check in with us and let us know how you're doing!

Runner's Tell All: Race Bucket List (Honorable Mentions)

It's time for another round of the Runner's Tell All linkup with Amanda @ The Lady Okie and Beka @ Sunshine to the Square Inch. I'm super excited this month because the topic is "Race Bucket List" AND I'm co-hosting! There's even a giveaway of some fun running goodies (and we know I love running goodies).

I already shared my race bucket list last month, but I'm happy this topic came up in the link-up because honestly? It wasn't easy narrowing down the plethora of races around the globe to only a select few. So today I'm sharing some races that didn't quite make my list but still get an honorable mention! I hit a lot of big, internationally-renowned races on my first list, but I have a few more in mind that might not be on your radar already.

A Christmas Story 5k/10k Run
There is only one Christmas movie on the planet that I like, and that movie is A Christmas Story. I've been watching the marathon on TBS Christmas Eve & Day for as long as I can remember there being Christmas. If you added up all the hatred I have for every other Christmas movie ever, my love for this movie would be equivalent. Anyway. Did you know that you can run a 5k from the department store to the Christmas Story house and museum?! Well, you can. There is a virtual option as well if you can't make it to Cleveland. I plan to do the virtual race this year but maybe one year I'll make it to Cleveland!
I mean honestly, I feel like every medal I get is a major award, so how great would it be to actually have one that says so?!

Virginia Tech Run in Remembrance (3.2 for 32)
If you've been around here for a while, you already know that I'm a Hokie. If I'm not mistaken, this event was started in 2009 (the year I graduated), but I didn't even give participating a second thought because I was not a person who could run .2 miles, let alone 3.2. When this race rolled around on April 16, 2011, I was no longer living in Blacksburg, but I still wasn't a runner. But for some reason, that year I had a thought that even if I couldn't run, I could do something.  So Ben and I did our own 3.2 mile walk for 32 around our city where we were living. I had toyed a little bit with the idea of trying to learn to run before then, and I've always found it hard to pinpoint exactly what made me finally start, but walking that day and thinking about how one day I wanted to actually be able to run 3.2 for 32 was the catalyst. A week later I laced up and went out for my first day of Couch to 5k, and the rest is history. This race is truly the race that changed my life - and I've never even done it.

Tarpon Springs Triathlon
Once upon a time After I graduated from college, I lived for a year in a town outside of Tampa, FL called Tarpon Springs. This was about a year before the word exercise was a part of my vocabulary, so needless to say, I was completely unaware of any fun race opportunities in the area (I've since learned that the Tampa area is a pretty big fitness and especially triathlon hub - who knew?!). I've now heard of several different tris in the area but I was surprised to find that there is one in Tarpon Springs! The start is at a beach I used to go to, only a few miles from where I was living (which, at the time, felt like an impossible distance to travel any way other than by car, if that gives you any idea of my fitness level back then). Luckily this is a short race, a bit shorter than a traditional sprint distance. I don't think I could handle Florida weather much longer than that.

Cooper River Bridge Run
So technically, this was my first race ever - it was 1988, I was 6 months old, and my mom walked it while she pushed me along in my stroller. Somehow I don't think that counts? Even though I moved away from Charleston when I was 9 and don't plan on ever moving back, it's where my roots are and will always be. That's why I couldn't imagine running my first marathon anywhere else. I remember driving across the old Cooper River Bridge when I was a kid. I remember seeing the new Cooper River Bridge for the first time when I was back visiting family and being in awe of it. Those experiences largely guided me on the path of becoming a civil engineer, and running the CRBR is another experience I can't wait to add to that list.

NYRR Midnight Run
You couldn't pay me enough money to go to Times Square for New Years, but a race through Central Park that starts at the stroke of midnight sounds like my kind of NYE party!

Ragnar Relay
Ragnar is self-described as an "overnight team running relay." As running is a largely solitary sport, the idea of being a part of a team and having a shared experience working toward the same goal (even if you're not all working at the same time) really appeals to me. These relays start in one city and finish in another ~200 miles away, while team members take turns running various legs of the course.  There aren't a ton of locations but I'm thinking DC or the Pacific NW sounds like a good time. Now who wants to join my team?!

Any race on April 23, 2016
Why that date? Because it will be my 5 year running anniversary, which I would have found unbelievable on my first day of Couch to 5k, and I can't think of a better way to celebrate than by running a race that day.

Now, onto the free stuff (the real reason you made it down this far)...

This month's giveaway includes a $15 iTunes gift card (get yourself some new running jams!) a homemade clutch that Beka made that says RUN on it (who says running declarations have to be limited to your workout clothes?!), and some bobby pins that match the clutch (because you are NOT going to look cute running with your hair all in your face, sorry)..

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • You MUST leave a comment on the person’s blog who linked up directly before you. This is not a linkup for the sake of linking up. This is a linkup to build community and spread the love and encouragement to your fellow runners! Don’t be lame.
  • Do not share links to unrelated running posts or to your blog’s homepage, or we will have to delete your link. (I’ve done it before too, so I’m not joking.)
  • Please link back to either Beka or Amanda in your post so others can come here and join in! Or grab the button below and add it to your post.
  • Have fun!

The One Where I Won

When we last left off, it was the eve of my first race in 3+ months and I had no idea what to expect. Would I still remember how to transition? Would the hills kill me? Would I pee in the water before I started?
(Answer key: 1. Y; 2. N; 3. Y)

When I lined up for the swim, I got a little bit nervous but I made myself shake it off. I told myself it was just like swimming in a pool, and that actually turned out to be true. I don't think I've ever swam in a lake before but it was quite pleasant since there were no waves or current. It was a small race so the start wasn't very congested at all. I only had to maneuver around people for the first 50 yards or less, and from then on I was pretty much by myself. I settled into a nice stroke almost right away. I didn't feel like I was swimming super fast, but I did feel like it was a very solid swim. I passed a lot of people and by the time I got about halfway I noticed that there were a lot of pink caps behind me, and not many in front of me. I started feeling like maybe the small competition field would work in my favor and I'd even have a decent shot of doing well. My goal for the swim was to wing it: Check plus!

I got out of the water in just over 10 minutes, which was a little slower than I was expecting, especially considering the fact that I was ahead of most of the other women. As I ran to T1 I felt a little disoriented but I got my bearings back pretty quickly. All I had to do was throw on my shoes and helmet and grab my bike, so transition was pretty quick. I had laid out a shirt and jacket to put on in case it rained but I totally forgot to put them on.

I ran out of transition to the mount line and took off on the bike. I was no longer that nervous about the bike, probably because I realized that being nervous wasn't going to change the course! It had been misty off an on all morning, but it started raining within a couple minutes of when I got on the bike. We started off with a couple of climbs, but the course actually ended up being a lot of rolling hills, and only a couple were bad. It was actually very similar to the rides I've been doing in Blacksburg, maybe a little bit more challenging but honestly the difference was pretty negligible. I almost crashed around 5 miles in - I was blowing snot rockets (seriously, if you don't like bodily fluids, triathlon is probably not the sport for you) and veered off to the side of the road. By the time I realized it was happening, I was about to go off the road and onto the gravel/grass on the side of the road. Luckily I managed to clip out and stop before I totally wiped out. I've had close calls like that in other races but I've never actually almost crashed, so in a way I was glad to have that experience over with!

Since we went up on the way out, the way back was a breeze! Except for the fact that the steepest hill occurred on the way back. I honestly wasn't sure if my bike was going to fall over and/or if I was going to have to get off and walk it up the hill. Thankfully I made it (slowly) without either of those things happening. I didn't set my watch up correctly before I started so I wasn't sure exactly how fast I was going, but I was able to tell that it was definitely faster than I've been averaging on my weekly rides so yay for that! I hadn't seen anyone else in my age group, except for maybe one person (but I couldn't make out if her age said 29 or 39 so I wasn't sure), so I was thinking I was either ahead and still had shot at placing, or I was really behind, or there was just no one else in my age group. My goal for the bike was just to get through it and do my best: Check!

The bike went by pretty quickly and before I knew it, I was back to transition for T2. I was sad to realize that, since it had rained, everything I had laid out on my towel was soaking wet, including my running shoes. I put them on and grabbed my race belt and put that on as I ran out of transition.

Finally, I was out on the run! My goal for the run was to have a good, fast run and maybe a PR, but as soon as I ran out of transition I realized that was not going to be happening today. Not because my body wasn't going to allow it, but because the course wasn't. I had read the morning of the race that the run course was "10% roads, 90% trails" and, being a person who has never really run trails, I was exactly sure how bad it would be. So we started off running through a little bit of grass and dirt to get to the trail, and once we got to it, it was paved so I thought, "Oh whew! A paved trail!" That lasted less than half a mile, at which point I kept following the pavement and the lady in front of me, and we and 2 other guys got lost. We realized we must have missed a turn (which was not marked, at all), so we turned around back where we had come from and sure enough there was like 2 foot wide dirt trail going straight up a hill, and that's the path we were supposed to take. Seriously, some course marking would have been great at that point.

From that point on it was all hilly dirt trails through the woods. Again, I hadn't set my watch up correctly so I never knew exactly how fast or far I was running, but I could tell that my pace was in the 11-minute range. If this had been on pavement I would have been pissed, but honestly it was the best I could do on the trails! I felt good and like I was running my normal 9-minute pace. It wasn't hard, per se, it was just different. I don't generally hike, but personally I would say the terrain we were on is better suited for hiking than running. It was kind of fun because it was seriously mentally engaging trying to make sure I didn't fall and trip on a tree root or slip on a wet rock or fall in mud, but that obviously slowed me down big time. Oh and there's also the part where I missed another turn about 2 miles in. We came to a fork in the middle of the woods and there was no way to tell which way to go. Again...some course marking would have gone a long way. I'm glad I gave up any expectations for the run as soon as I saw the course, because my run time ended up being my slowest in years, although I have no idea what my pace actually was since I definitely ran more than 5k. I wasn't disappointed with my time since I felt good and did my best, but it definitely didn't satisfy my need for a fast race. When we did finally get to run on the road for the last tenth of a mile, my legs felt great and I knew they would have been up for a fast run, maybe even a PR, if the whole course had been roads. Good thing there's always next time! ;)

Even with the crazy conditions (both course and weather), I still felt happy as a clam the almost the whole time! After I finished I met up with my friend Carl, who had come into town to race with me. We collected our stuff from transition and went to put it in the car, then came back to the post-race activities. He wanted to stay for a bit to find out if he had placed. We were shocked to find out that we both took first in our age groups! It sort of feels like cheating to me to place in such a small race (it's happened to me a few other times) but they still gave me a medal so I'll take it!

This race shirt is on point! Maybe my fave 3 for sure.

On a related note: I've talked to several of you about how you would like to try a tri (get it???) but are maybe intimidated and/or don't know where to start...would you be interested in a series of posts breaking it down, kind of a beginner's guide? There is definitely a lot more involved than a regular running race and it can be overwhelming and confusing. I honestly doubt I would have ever gotten into it if I didn't have other people to look to for experience and advice! Just something I'm thinking about and am curious to see if there's any interest! Doing your first tri could be a GREAT goal to link up with Alyssa and me on the 30th...just sayin' ;)

Race Day is the Best Day!

Tomorrow morning, after a 3-month dry spell, I will finally be lining up at a start line again! Figuratively speaking, that is. There isn't really a start line for a triathlon per se...sometimes you stand at the edge of the water, sometimes you tread water while you wait (but either way you pee your wetsuit one last time before you start). I'm not even sure which type of start applies to the race I'm doing tomorrow. I guess I'll let you know next week!

So like I said, this is the first race, of any kind, that I've done in 3 months. I haven't had that much time in between races since 2012. It was unusual for my race schedule to be so light this summer but moving in July kind of put the kibosh on a couple races I would have normally done. I'm oddly nervous about this one tomorrow! It's a sprint triathlon, a distance I haven't done in a year, but that shouldn't matter because it's only half the distance of the last tri I did in June. I have no time goals or anything, so that's not a reason to be nervous. I think it's because it's my first one in a new place and I have no idea what to expect! 

Even though I don't have any time goals, I do have a game plan:

Swim: Wing it. I haven't been swam more than maybe 10 times this summer, but when I have it's been like 1200-1600m. This a short swim (500m), so I think I'll make it. I haven't swam in open water since June, but it's in a lake so I don't think it will be too bad.

Bike: Do my best. I am not a strong cyclist to begin with, but I can do decently well on flat roads. Since there are no flat roads here to speak of, my bike speed has suffered big time. The elevation profile does not look like my idea of a good time. If you don't know how to read one of these things...every time the blue line goes up, I go up :(. At least the torture will end after only 12.5 miles. 

Run: Kill it. This is probably not the best plan. I have a 17-miler to run Sunday morning so I should probably take it easy, but mama needs a new 5k PR. It will depend on how dead my legs feel after the bike. Also I have no idea what the course is like but I think it may include some trails so that will be another big factor. I doubt I'll do well enough to beat my current unofficial PR, but it would be nice to have a new official one (which is from a duathlon I did in April - even though I don't really feel like du/tri runs should count as PR's?).

I also plan to not have any photos that are this terrible:

I...don't even know.

Before I go, a PSA of sorts:

Next Sunday, the 21st, is the September edition of the Runner's Tell All link-up, hosted by Amanda @ The Lady Okie and Beka @ Sunshine to the Square Inch and (this month) co-hosted by yours truly! (Since it's a weekend you can totally post on Monday but the party officially starts on Sunday). I know some of you have linked up before (high five!), and I also know that I have had conversations with many of you about how awesome of a linkup this is and how you need to do it too. If you haven't linked up before, this month is a time to start because the topic is "Race Bucket List." I don't know about you guys, but if I were going to give myself a gold medal for one thing running related, it would be my ability to talk about all the races I want to do (and that would be the only running related gold medal I'd get). The great part about this topic in particular is that everyone, whether you've never run a race, or you run one every weekend, or you're in a slump with training right now, can participate. There's no requirement that you actually sign up for and/or run these races, so feel free to dream all the running dreams you want. 
And if that weren't motivation enough, if you stop by you might even win some. It's gonna be a good time, y'all. 

Training Tuesday: Nothing Good Comes Easily, Sometimes You've Got to Fight

Welcome to Training Tuesday! Today I'm kicking off a new series that I plan to run every Tuesday until the Richmond Marathon on November 15. In case the title isn't self-explanatory enough, each week I'll be talking about how my training is going. If you're currently training for a big race, planning to run a race soon, working your way through Couch to 5k, or otherwise training in any way, shape, or form, I'd love to hear about your training too!

This training cycle is not going as well as I'd like. I'm getting in all my runs, hitting all the distances I should be and all the paces that I probably shouldn't be. On paper, it looks like it's going just swell. In reality, it just doesn't feel good. I don't feel energized and excited and motivated like I did when I was training for Charleston. I didn't feel that way about Shamrock either, but I'm pretty sure that had more to do with the short turnaround time than with any aspect of the training itself. Part of me knows that I will never feel that same excitement that I did training for Charleston, because it was my first marathon and nothing will ever top that. I will never have those same highs that come from hitting a new distance for the first time. That ship has sailed, and while I realize that, it doesn't make me any less sad that it's true. Or any more motivated this time around.

I don't know why I didn't realize it before now, but I think another thing keeping me down is the lack of races built into my training this time. My summer race calendar isn't usually very busy, but I didn't think about how that would affect this training cycle. I've run exactly zero races since I started - by this point in my Charleston training, I had already run 5 races!

After I realized this, I went into panic mode. On Friday morning I was ready to drive 5 hours to Virginia Beach, sell my soul, and hand over $150 to run the Rock N Roll Half Marathon there on Sunday. Friday afternoon, I had abandoned that plan and thought instead I'd get up at 3:30am Saturday morning to drive 3 hours to North Carolina to run a half marathon there that runs up a mountain and includes 1500 ft of elevation gain. By all accounts it appeared as if I had purchased a one-way ticket to Crazy Town, but thankfully I managed to get it together by Friday night, when I decided I'd do my long run as planned on Saturday morning.

On Saturday morning, I knew I needed to change some things up. I started with my playlist - I've been running to a lot of songs on it for almost a year. I add and delete songs every now and then, but I decided it was time for a major overhaul. I cleared every song and started going through all the songs on my phone. I mostly stayed away from the poppy, upbeat songs and instead picked some songs that I really truly love, some that are fun, and mostly ones I hadn't heard in a long time. I've always viewed running as my time to listen to music (except, you know, in motion), so this was a perfect way to revamp my routine.

Before I left, I also adjusted my attitude. I decided that it didn't matter if my pace for the day was 9:00 or 11:00, the only number that mattered was getting my 14 miles in. I ran 7.8 miles alone and then met Ben for 6.2. I started out slow and enjoyed listening to my music. When I hit a hill, I reminded myself that there was no prize for getting to the top of it faster - I'd get there when I got there. That was okay. Somewhere along the way, I remembered that this is what a long run is supposed to be like. It's supposed to be hard sometimes. I'm supposed to fight for it sometimes. Who did I think I was, thinking I could go out and run half marathons like they're nothing, and then being disappointed when they didn't go perfectly? That's not me. It never has been and it probably never will be. I don't know when or why I stopped fighting, but I'm glad I started again.

That was the first long run I've had in a while where I really felt like myself, and really felt motivated and confident. There were no rainbows or butterflies or unicorns, but I figured that was as good as I could realistically expect it to get, so I finally bit the bullet and signed up for my fall races!

I now have 5 races lined up from September 13 to November 15 - culminating in the Richmond Marathon, eek! Let's hope the 3rd time's a charm!