August

I can’t believe it’s mid-August already, where did Summer go? Have you noticed evening daylight slowly creeping away earlier and earlier each night? Agh, Summer and triathlon season, nearing its end.

My focus in August has been increasing my run mileage and getting in some speed work and hill work in preparation for The Madison Mini Marathon (this Saturday), Redman 70.3 at the end of September, and The Haunted Hustle 26.2 at the end of October. My focus has had a rough start.

The first week of increased mileage and intensity brought a shock to my calves, shins, knees, basically everything. It all hurt. The second week I overdid the strength training and had achy hamstrings for six straight days. My recovery week long run of 10 miles brought on all kinds of self doubt that I battled for days. I questioned why I do this? Will I ever improve? Do my crazy, ridiculous life-long dream goals even make sense to have?dreams Of course my crazy, ridiculous dream-goals are worth having. If your goals don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough…What a silly quote really. Small goals are just as important. Mine just happens to be big and scary, and maybe even unattainable for me.

Anyway, back to the subject of focusing on improving my run in August. I’m onto the third week, and so far so good. I got in a good quality track workout tonight with a sub 9 five mile run. I haven’t seen sub 9 in a long time. Run, stumble, fall, get back up, keep running. There’s a quote. shit

I’ll tackle a brick workout tomorrow, Thursday is TBD, and Friday will have a shakeout run and a ride before the Madison Mini. It’s kind of strange how I often run better the day after a bike ride. Triathlete legs. These triathlete legs have work to do, and sleep to get.

Good night.

Advertisements

Syttende Mai 20 Mile Run

I ran 20 miles from Madison to Stoughton and now my Spring races are done. Where did the time go? Can I have a do over?

The Syttende Mai 20 Mile Run starts at the Capitol Square downtown Madison and runs to Stoughton, WI. I’ve wanted to do this race since 2010 when I did the 10 mile race distance. It was such a great race! Low key, great time of year, and ends at a festival. Perfect!

Going into the 20 Mile Run I knew it was hilly. I did hill repeats, my long runs were on hilly routes, I did intervals on hilly routes, I thought I was putting in my homework for this course. John and I started the run, chatting with some of the older guys who have been running this thing for years. One guy we ran with for the first mile said it was his 37th year doing it. Amazing. During the second mile I got into a conversation with a girl who asked me about my tattoo and how hard Ironman was. This is what I really, really liked about this race, how chatty everyone was. It was intimate. I felt like everybody was my Norwegian runner BFF.

The first three or four miles flew by, chitchatting with everyone. And then the roller-coaster of hills started. I plowed up the first big, steep one and jokingly said “So this is the worst one, right?”

sytt1

The hills kept coming, and by mile eight my legs were spent. Like I said, I thought I did my homework for this course, but it wasn’t enough for this course! I had to start run/walking. Instead of going into a mental black hole I just kept moving forward. I offered to John to go on ahead, it was his longest distance race yet. I know he could go on and finish under three hours, but he insisted he just wanted to have fun with me for 20 miles.

sytt3

At mile 11 and 16 there were unofficial beer stations that I stopped at. I wasn’t breaking any records, so why not?

sytt2

At mile 17 it started to downpour and it felt amazing. It even made me run longer without any walk breaks, plus the hills were fewer and far between. When we finally neared the finish chute John saw the clock read 3:29:30 and made us sprint to the finish so we could crack 3:30. We got there! It was a long, hard hilly race, and we both decided that next time we go to Stoughton we will drive there.

Syttende

They don’t do race medals, the shirt is the prize. Will wear it proudly!

Running Things and Stuff

After my last couple of race bonks, I haven’t been able to trust my legs. Last Tuesday I went out for a six miler and the first two miles were 9:55s. It pissed me off. WHAT is going on with my legs? I stopped, stretched, almost cried. Then just got pissed and decided I’d run one mile fast, no matter what, just go fast. I did it in 8:35. From there I did half mile interval repeats, and finished my six mile run with a 9:20 average. That helped me gain some trust back in my legs.

Then I had to figure out when I could get my last long run in before the Syttende Mai 20 mile run coming up this weekend. Challenge is that I worked on Saturday morning and the temperatures are beginning to get warmer. If I waited until after work on Saturday it would have been 75 degrees with 80% humidity. It wasn’t ideal. The ideal time would have been Friday morning before work. But,…Thursday night I fell asleep on the couch. I was wiped out. I needed the sleep and knew waking up at 4:00am on Friday before work would lead to disaster. So, I bailed last minute on a Book Club meet on Friday night, which in turn caused the Book Club meet to fall apart. I feel bad. I went to bed at 8:00pm on Friday, woke at 4:00am on Saturday and knocked out 12 miles.

My legs felt incredible too. It felt relatively effortless. Why can’t my legs do that on race day? The run ended with a 9:45 average, which surprised me. I felt like I was moving quicker than that. But, I’m happy that mentally and physically I felt great so I’m not going to let the pace bother me. Plus, this was 12 miles straight through, turns out when you get up at 4:00am you don’t have to stop for any traffic lights.

Sunday morning we had an hour and forty five minutes planned on the bikes. Mother Nature was playing mean that morning with temperature in the low 50s and light rain. We bundled up, put on all the layers, went outside and quickly agreed, “Nope!”  Instead I spent that time on my indoor spin bike.

So this week leads up to my final distance run race for this Spring. Sytennde Mai 20 miler is on Saturday. I’m pretty stoked for it. It’s Madison’s original distance race before Madison Marathon came along. I did the ten mile race in 2010 and it’s still one of my favorite race memories. John was out of town that weekend, and I bravely registered last minute and showed up. The 20 mile distance has been on my bucket list since 2010, but Spring marathons always got in the way. I’m excited to finally do it up this weekend. I’m excited for John to run his longest distance yet!

Sytenn

Bonkity bonk bonk bonk

Remember a few weeks ago when I was all excited about my Spring races? What a roller-coaster it’s been. I bonked my half marathon, I did surprisingly great at Crazy Legs 8k, and today I bonked a 20k race.

I never recapped Crazy Legs, but in short, I set my mind to 8:50 minute miles before the race. It’s just five miles, and I had been putting in my speed work. It was doable. The first mile split was 7:56, I was stunned. I’ve never seen a split beginning with the number seven on my Garmin before. That split was followed by 8:44, 8:33, 8:33, and 8:44. That finish was better than what I expected out of myself! It was exactly what I needed after my half marathon bonk two weeks ago.

And then today the 20k bonk happened, crushing me right back down. Running, it truly does humble a person.

What happened?

I did my shakeout run, I ate my pasta, I’ll even own up to having two whiskey and cokes, I went to bed at 9:00, I woke up, drank my coffee, ate my bagel and peanut butter. All the regular stuff. I got to the race site an hour early, parked, got my bib, chatted with a friend, stretched, got into the corral. The start gun goes off, I start running. From the first few steps I thought, “Oh boy, my legs feel clunky”

Though my legs felt clunky, I still managed a 9:05 split to start. That was encouraging. I felt like John kept wanting to pull away and go faster, but 12.4 miles is far, I kept pulling back. He said he’d run with me since it was really a training run. Also, huge thing to note about this race, it started at 9:00. It was sunny and 60 at the start. It got hot quickly. (See also, excuses).

That was the fastest split, it slowly dropped. John stopped at a porta-potty and I stopped to walk at mile five. Mile five. From there mentally I went into a black hole of negativity. “I train so hard and on race day my body doesn’t cooperate. Why bother? I look like such an idiot with this giant M-dot tattoo and I can’t run 12.4 miles. I quit everything

Mile 9 runs very close to my home, I very seriously considered just running home. There was no medal at the finish anyway, just beer. John was trying to pep talk me out of my black hole, I scolded him, and he shut up. Marital bliss I tell ya.

There was an unofficial beer stop somewhere after that, I stopped, because heck, my race wasn’t going well anyway. What’s a little beer going to do to my race? Oddly enough, it got me moving. I stopped walking so much and keep chugging forward. Not fast, but I was in more neutral spirits.

We finally finished, with a 10:10 average. I was expecting 9:40s from myself, so let me be disappointed. I can’t even say that I had much fun. What I can say is that John is the most patient, understanding, spouse in the entire world. All he wanted to do was get me in a happier place when things fell apart. He’s a good one.

After the race an internet “stranger” approached me, a guy who followed my old blog. It was a bizarre coincidence to finally meet him, and hear his appreciation for my honesty in my blog posts. I appreciate that people appreciate it. I really do. Too often I am misunderstood for being negative, but I’m just trying to express and dissect things that went wrong. Sometimes the truth isn’t puppies and rainbows. I honestly want to improve and get better.

So, I have two weeks to taper down, and magically “get better” for the Syttende Mai 20 mile race.

lakemonona20k

We ran together the entire race, and the photographers took separate photos of us throughout. There’s one we where posed together, but they separated us. Derp.

Forget Fall, it’s Spring Race Season!

Since my last post about having to decide on a different fall marathon I really haven’t given it much more thought. I’m probably going to risk it with the Garden Marathon in Madison since it’s cheap and the starting line is a mile from my house. If it sucks, I can just run home.

Another thought is, do I really even have a fall marathon in me? It’s so early in the season, but during the later miles of a 15 mile training run on Saturday I was carrying a lot of doubt. Somewhere after mile 12 I bonked and had a very rational meltdown. There isn’t one specific thing I can pinpoint as to what was wrong, but the last three miles of that run felt impossible. Of course I got through it, but it sure sucked some confidence out of me.

somr

Mile 9 I thought “Just one more hour!”

Speaking of feeling unsure, I have my first 13.1 of the year this Saturday. My original goal was to PR, if not, break two hours. Right now I’m not sure either of those things can happen. There’s a saying, “Hope isn’t a good training plan”  So true. I really don’t know what to expect from my legs. My only hope is that all the hills I’ve been running for the last few weeks will provide strong, fast legs on this pancake flat course this Saturday.

No matter what, I’m very much looking forward to this half marathon. It’s a very small, local one called Parkinson’s Half Marathon. It’s for a good cause, obviously. The course is an out and back on a beautiful trail, and the post race food is the most amazing post race spread I’ve ever seen.

After this weekend, I have Crazy Legs 8k and Lake Monona 20k to look forward to in the next couple of weeks.

Hooray for Spring race season!

Back to the Drawing Board for Fall Marathon Decisions

My chosen fall marathon was canceled. Dammit.

I had chosen the Lake Country Marathon in Oconomowoc, WI in the last weekend of September. I chose it because it was small, local(ish), and on the perfect time of year in my opinion. In past years when I trained for an October marathon I always thought my twenty mile training runs were on perfect weather days and wished it was my race day. So the logical thing to do is look for a marathon in September.

Some plan B options are:

1. No Frills Marathon in Minoqua, WI. It’s on September 6th. Pros are that it’s small, a point to point course, flat, and weather is typically in the 70s. A huge con is that it’s labor day weekend. Lodging could be an issue, I’d have to find a dog sitter, I might not even be able to be approved for that time off of work, and it’s a four hour drive north. I think a huge part of my bonking a marathon is losing energy while traveling to get there.

2. Quad Cities Marathon in Moline, IL, September 27th. Pros are that it’s an established race, looks kind of big and exciting, and the course looks scenic. Cons are that it’s about three hours away, I’ll have to pay for a couple days of lodging, and get a dog sitter.

3. The Garden Marathon, here in Madison, September 27th. Pros are that it’s in the city I live in, I could sleep in my own bed, I know the course very well, and it’s on that perfect time of year. Con is that I did the 13.1 of this race two years ago and it was very poorly organized. The course was short over a mile, the packet pick-up was a mess, nobody knew where the starting line was, and it started late. Here’s my recap from two years ago too: Garden 13.1

That’s what I’ve come up with so far. When I brought this conundrum up to John he squeaked that depending on how the Sytennde Mai 20 miler goes he is thinking he might do a fall marathon too. So it’s extra pressure to find a great first 26.2 experience for him.

Does anyone have any other ideas for me?

Spring Weekend Miles

Spring weather came around over the weekend, and that meant being outside, enjoying my long run, and spending every waking minute in the sunshine as possible.

On Saturday we did a recovery week long run of just 10 miles. We were both relieved to “just” be doing 10 miles this week, it would go by so quick! Except it didn’t. I planned a torturous route with giant hills, Observatory Drive included. I also thought I could get away without taking a Gu because it was “just” 10 miles. Somewhere after mile 7 I was depleted of energy and took my stupid Gu.

elevation

After our run we agreed to finally revisit the Harmony Bar & Grill in Madison. We haven’t been there in 10 years because of the atrocious service we received on several occasions. On my first visit I asked if they had any flavored vodkas, the bartender barked “Why don’t you try to learn to drink like an adult and come back?” Whoa. What the actual F.

On another occasion John asked the bartender, “I’m in the mood for a gin drink, what do you recommend?” The grumpy old man said, “We’re not that kind of bar” and walked away. Um? The kind of bar that serves drinks? You’re not that kind? Okay. So we just gave up going there.

Walking into the establishment on Saturday I felt like I was walking on egg shells. The same goddamn woman who told me to learn to drink like an adult was still there. Ten years later. We hesitantly ordered. John and I quietly ate our food and slurped our drinks, and did not order a second round. We were too afraid of getting scolded at for not doing it right. They obviously have a right way there.

Sunday morning was even nicer out than Saturday. With the pool being closed for Easter, I thought about riding my bike. Most of me was all “Nah, you’re sore from running hills yesterday, you’re not on a training plan, you don’t have to ride, lazy Sunday!” But this inner guilt got me. The guilt reminded me that I do have a 70.3 in the middle of June, I should be getting more serious on my bike! So I got 21 miles in, and it was delightful.

bike2

I find it interesting that even though I’m not signed up for a 140.6 distance triathlon that I still deep down feel the need to put in the miles like I am training for one. Yet I’m glad I’m not signed up for one because I don’t want to be tied down to a training plan this year. It’s a triathlete conundrum.

There’s a balance in there somewhere, I will eventually figure it out!