Food, Fitness, Photography

Food, Fitness, Photography

Sunday, October 15, 2017

fewer runs, same mileage

This is how I would like to get my mileage more often.  Fewer, longer, runs.  It would be really nice to start getting closer to 40 miles in 4 runs, but that's too ambitious for me right now.  I am really happy with how this week's runs went however, and know that if I can stay strong and train smart for the next month, I have a really good shot at the half marathon PR that I want.

This week : 
M : circuit training 33:15

T : yoga 30 min
group track 9 / 9:40 / 305 ft
(lap ladder : 4, 3, 2, 1, 1, 2, 3, 4)

W : yoga 50 min

R : run w/Corey 10.2 / 7:40 / 584 ft

F : TRX arms & abs circuit 33:15

Sa : long run 12 / 8:10 / 794 ft

Su : rest

total miles : 31.2

Track Tuesday : half-time recovery on the way down the ladder, full-time recovery on the way back up.  1 lap walk + another minute or so in between the 400s.  1600s were intended to be at goal half marathon pace.  I was aiming for 6:30ish.  It's hard to run half marathon pace on the track, but at least having the thought in my head helps me not run my intervals too crazy fast.  Tried to get just a little bit faster as the intervals shortened. 

1600 : 6:27
1200 : 4:46
800 : 3:08
400 : 1:26
400 : 1:29 
800 : 3:14
1200 : 4:44
1600 : 6:24

On Thursday, I was exhausted and just tying my running shoes felt like a chore I didn't want to do.  BUT I got my shoes tied, pulled myself off the floor, and showed up to run club.  I knew I might not get more than 4 miles, and if I continued to feel bad after starting the run I wouldn't have pushed for mileage, but I also knew that running might actually increase my energy.  And it did!  I ended up feeling stronger the further we got.  I could have called it quits at 8.5 but instead I decided to add on instead of running straight home as we finished a big loop.  With 19 miles in two runs it seemed like I may as well stick with the theme and so I planned to get my 30 miles in just 3 runs this week.  

I hoped to feel strong after coming off a big hill in Saturday's run, and to add on more miles, but I was done for at the top of the hill, so I ran it on home.  I knew I could make it the last 2 downhill miles home without sacrificing pace too much, and knew that quality was more important than quantity, so I didn't make myself add to get to 14 miles like I considered.  

I spent most of today (Sunday) debating whether or not to go for a shake-out jog, since I'm feeling pretty good and it's always tempting to try and get more miles in, but ultimately it looks like I have decided to wait for tomorrow.  I want to be able to get a few miles in after circuit training tomorrow.  As much as I love the "Fewer runs, greater miles" thing, I'd like to get a good 14+ mile run next weekend, so I'm thinking it will be better if I do fewer, slightly shorter, runs throughout the week.  

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Picking up the Pace

For awhile now I have been working on including slower runs in my week, and doing a warm-up mile before running faster miles.  I've also been working hard to hold myself back in the first mile of half marathons in order not to go out to fast.  This strategy has not been working super well for me.  It was not my strategy when I was running my best races, and I do not want it to be my strategy anymore.  My best runs have always been about consistency, not about starting slow and speeding up.  So consistency is what I'm working on getting back to.

I can see how starting slow and speeding up is a good strategy for other people, especially to help warm-up the legs, but here is why I think it is not useful to me.  My legs are not my limiting factor when I run.  My lungs are.  And once I establish a pace, it is really hard for my lungs to adjust to a faster pace.  When my lungs struggle, my legs don't get enough oxygen, and then my legs struggle.  If I establish a quicker pace in the beginning, that is the pace that my lungs settle to, and so I'm able to hold it for awhile.  This doesn't mean I want to start off a half-marathon at 6:00 pace, but it does mean that I don't need to be trying to hold myself to 7:30 in my first mile.

My current training goal is to increase my average pace on weekly runs less than 8 or 9 miles.  Less 8:00-8:30, more 7:00-7:45.  My lungs don't get stronger on slow runs, they get stronger when I make them work.  I ran a strong race at the Bluegrass 1/2, but my goal half marathon time is several minutes faster.  I want to get my lungs and legs used to running faster consistently.  I know that I have to be careful not to over-tire my legs in this process, but I am trusting myself to listen to my body.

This week I ended up with 2 hilly tempo runs, a long hill run, and then another run that was supposed to be 5 and ended up being 7... I felt really good on the first 3 runs. I was getting tired towards the end of today's run, but it made sense after how hard I ran all week!

This week : 
M : circuit training 33:15
T : group run 7.5 / 7:14 / 413 ft
W : TRX 45 minutes
R : run w/Corey 8 / 7:34 / 554 ft
F : horseback ride 45 minutes
Sa : run 10.1 / 8:17 / 1440 ft
Su :  run w/Ben 7 / 7:40 / 367 ft

total miles : 32.6

At various times over the years when running long hill climbs, I have contemplated turning around at the top to run the hill again.  I never actually did it, until this Saturday.  I was in West Virginia to ride my horse and go for a hill run, and the run was going really, really well.  The sunshine and temperature were perfect, the turning leaves were gorgeous, and I felt good.  I was running a 3.5 mile stretch of Rt 60 that had mile-ish long ups and downs.  On the way out from the house, the road was down, up, down.  When I turned around and climbed the 1.1 mile climb, I just plain loved it.  It had steeper sections and less steep sections, but it went steadily upwards for the whole 1.1 miles.  3/4 of the way up, I knew I wanted to do it again.  I reached the top, and actually turned around to go back down.  It was just as gorgeous the second time, and I never for a second regretted my decision.  

I have been frustrated lately, realizing that I have lost some of my hill strength since leaving WV.  Being able to do those long hill climbs this weekend and feel strong doing them made me feel a lot better!  

The view at the start of Saturday's run.

Heading down the first hill on Saturday.

Enjoyed getting to see this cute Pony on Friday!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Recovery Week + Growler Relay

I did my best to keep it light on the running this week, although I did not back off of the strength training.  My legs and body have definitely been worn out from the half marathon last Sunday!  My team for the Growler Relay was 7 people for 8 legs, so I did end up being the person that ran 2, but at least I had only run twice this week before that, and I didn't treat it like a race this year.  (I didn't jog either...but I definitely wasn't pushing myself to the max!)

I didn't get home from Roanoke until almost 3:00 today but a friend asked if I wanted to bike and that seemed like a good thing to do after sitting in the car, especially since I've been trying not to run too much, but still need exercise.  It ended up being really windy for our ride which made it harder than I'd like, but I'm glad I got out and did it.  It was a gorgeous day, and I do need to be getting on that bike once in awhile!

This week : 

M : circuit training 33:15

T : yoga class 1 hour

W : TRX 30 minutes
run 3.6 / 7:43 / 272 ft

R : trail run 4.8 / 9:56 / 997 ft

F : rest

Sa : relay leg- 1 5.3 / 7:37 / 223 ft
relay leg 3- 6. 2/ 7:36 / 213 ft 

Su : bike w/Coby 22.2 / 17.6 mph / 1247 ft

total miles run : 19.8
total miles bike : 22.2

Handing off to our second runner yesterday after I started off the relay.  I've never seen my muscles pop out like that...the camera must have caught the exact moment my foot hit the ground and the impact traveled up my leg!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Grayson Highlands 9-23-2017

I hadn't made plans to go hiking on Saturday, but when I woke up that morning, still sore from Thursday's TRX, I decided that I needed to go hiking because it would be better for my muscles than sitting on the couch all day.  I had a whole bunch of chores to do, but I decided to ignore them, and off to Grayson Highlands I went.  When I arrived, I discovered that there was a festival going on, and most of the ponies had been rounded up for that.  So there was only one pony sighting on my hike.  But the trees are turning, and the sky was blue with puffy white clouds, so the scenery was nothing short of gorgeous.

After a very busy week of extra long days, this hike was exactly what I needed to recharge my batteries. I hiked just under 6 miles with 869 feet of climbing so it made my legs more sore instead of less sore, but it was totally worth it!

on top of the world 

taking in the gorgeous view

...just climbing a tree in the middle of a clearing in the woods...

Bluegrass 1/2 Marathon 9-24-17

WolfPack Run Club, ready to race! 

I had no idea what would happen during this race. I was worried that I would hit a wall like I have during my long runs, but I also knew there was a chance that I would have a good day and race day adrenaline would see me through.  I've had a lot of training hiccups lately, but I know I am still in better overall shape than I was a year ago!  

I skipped a warm up this morning because I was standing in line for the bathroom, but I was completely ok with that.  I knew that skipping a warm up would help me start just a little bit slower, and use that first mile for a warm up.  My first mile didn't actually end up being all that slow, but at least it wasn't 6:00 pace!  I did not allow myself to look at my watch (other than to glance at my HR occasionally) until after I crossed the finish line.  I even managed to keep my eyes on the ground when I passed the time clocks at mile 7 so that I wouldn't see them and start obsessing about my time.  I did catch the number 4 at the beginning of the clock but that was it!  I ran the whole race by feel, keeping my pace as strong and consistent as I could.  I spent several miles on the heels of the 4th place woman.  She pulled ahead in the 5th mile, but I slowly reeled her back in, passing her on an uphill (the only way I know how to pass people!) in mile 7, and then I held my place til the end. After how strong I felt throughout the race, I was a bit disappointed to see that I hadn't broken 1:30, but I was still happy with my race.  The fact that I was running strong and mostly under 7:00 matters a lot more than breaking 1:30.  I only had 3 miles over 7:00 today!  Plus, I actually finished the 13.1 in under 1:31, since the course was long.  Now I just need to shave off 3 more minutes by November...
I was impressed to see that my second fastest mile was mile 13!  I was struggling hard for air at that point, but didn't want to use my inhaler that close to the finish.  I was afraid that my oxygen debt was slowing me down, but 6:41 pace is pretty impressive for oxygen debt!  (I did use the inhaler in mile 6, I was running so well and didn't want to risk losing it because I waited too long to use the inhaler!)

I have learned in my past few half marathons that starting slow is not the best plan for me.  It's true that I shouldn't go out at a 6:00 pace, but I shouldn't go out at a 8:00 pace either.  I do best with consistency, which means I need to start close to the pace that I actually want to run.  If I start too fast I will burn out, and if I start too slow I won't be able to pick up the pace later in the race.  I have always been good at consistency, so I don't know why I kept trying to mess with it by starting extra slow!  I also run best when I hide my watch and run by feel...I really need to make sure I do that in every race.  

Half marathon #32!

The number of half marathons I have run is now greater than the number of years I have spent on this earth!  Today's race went spectacularly well considering all my training hiccups lately!  More about the race in a separate post. 

This week : 

M : circuit training 25:45
run 6 / 7:43 / 479 ft

T : yoga 60 min
run 5.7 / 8:07 / 226 ft
(4 x 800)

W : rest

R : TRX 30 min
run 4 / 7:48 / 276 ft

F : run 3.1 / 7:57 / 157 ft

Sa : hike 5.8 / 869 ft

Su : warm up 0.1 / 7:54 / 0 ft
race 13.3 / 6:55 / 495 ft
cool down 1.8:56 / 30 ft

total miles 33.5

I put myself through a great TRX workout on Thursday.  I was still sore on Saturday, so I decided a hike would be better for my muscles than sitting on the couch.  But then I decided to go to Grayson Highlands and hike up and down some mountains, so I'm not sure my plan worked out so well.  It was absolutely gorgeous though, and I had no regrets about my decision. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

7 is the magic number

7 is the magic number.  For this week anyway.  I didn't even attempt a long run this week.  I don't think I could handle the mental side of it if it went badly with only a week to go til race day.  I hate that my last long run pre-race was bad, but I'm glad I had some really good 7 mile runs this week, and I'm going to be counting on race day adrenaline next Sunday.  Also, constantly reminding myself I don't have to race hard next weekend.  I just have to run.  It can be a long training run if necessary.  I just really really don't want it to feel like my last long run did.

I was excited all week about how low my HR was staying even when I was running faster than usual, and I hit a new V02 max of 56 on Tuesday.  Then today when I was running I spent a bit more time in Z4 and realized that most likely the main reason my HR has been lower all week has been because of the lower temperature.  It was considerably warmer today, so my heart had to work harder.  Duh.  I'm still glad to see improvements in my fitness even if they are related to cooler temps!  It says potential good things about how my fall training will go once I don't have to battle the heat.  Gotta have something to look forward to with the cooler weather instead of just dreading being cold all the time.

This week : 
M : circuit training 33:15
run 5.5 / 8:03 / 440 ft 
T : yoga class  60 min
group run 6.3 / 7:48 / 305 ft
W : rest
R : TRX circuit 43:00
run 7.5 / 7:29 / 486 ft
F : run 7.6 / 7:55 / 650 ft
Sa : rest
Su : run 7.1 / 7:48 / 522 ft
total miles : 34

On Monday, I taught my first after-school fitness class to some co-workers.  I'm excited for this opportunity to hep others improve their fitness, have some workout buddies, and make a little extra money!  I also do a TRX workout with Gail whenever we can coordinate schedules.  We made it happen this week, and I really loved being able to work out twice, with people, this week!  It is a lot easier for me to get motivated to work out when I have people to do it with.  This week was also the beginning of Tuesday after school yoga for teachers, so I now have that set in my weekly schedule as well.  

Sunday, September 10, 2017

1 step forward, 3 steps back

I've been counting on this being the year that I PR the half marathon, but I'm starting to think I need to let go of that goal.  I still have over 2 months til my last race this year, so there's still time for my body to start loving long runs again... but I'm getting pretty discouraged.  Shorter runs are going fine.  I even had a great 2x2 mile repeat run this week.  But my long run was awful.  9:00 minute pace felt unreachable to me by the end.  And that is just not how I want to feel 2 weeks out from my next half marathon!  Sometimes I remind myself that it is possible to race well even when training isn't going perfectly.  Other times I remind myself that I haven't had a truly bad race in a long time so I might be overdue for one.

This week : 
M : run 4.1 / 7:25 / 236 ft
T : run w/Corey 7 / 7:22 / 184 ft
(2 x 2 mile, 1 mile jog recovery)
W : TRX arms 16:00
run 4.2 / 8:02 / 226 ft
R : rest
F : rest
Sa : run w/Corey 13.6/ 8:23 / 623 ft
Su : run 3 / 8:18 / 135 ft
total miles : 31.9

The long run started out fine.  We were averaging 7:30-7:50 pace which is right where I wanted to be.  I kept it up for about 6 miles and then my body just gave up on me and every mile it got harder and harder to keep moving.  The hills weren't long or steep but they took every ounce of energy I had.  I didn't feel anything like my normal hill-loving self.  I don't know if my body is stressed from being back at school, or what.  School is going really well and not feeling stressful, but it is certainly different than being on vacation.  Or maybe I should focus on more 7-9 mile runs and stop trying to throw long runs in the mix with a bunch of 4 milers.  That could be it.  

On the bright side, my 2x2 mile repeats went spectacularly.  I was hoping for 6:30-6:45 pace, and hit that pretty closely.  The first one was slightly downhill, the second one was slightly uphill.  I only had a 9 second difference from the 1st to the 2nd, which is amazing and remarkably consistent given how much the uphill direction on the Creeper Trail usually wears me out.  13:18 for the first repeat and 13:27 for the second.  

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Effort-based running

This week : 

 M : TRX arms / 12 minutes
run 4.1 / 7:06 / 217 ft

T : yoga 15 minutes
run w/Ben 9.2 / 7:40 / 525 ft

W : rest

R : run 5.7 / 8:38 / 400 ft
TRX 34 minutes

F :  rest

Sa : yoga 20 minutes
run 14 / 8:07 / 853 ft

Su : yoga 17 minutes
bike w/Dan 20.3 / 18 mph / 1142 ft

total run miles : 33
total bike miles : 20.3

I've been running primarily #nowatchme for the past few weeks. This means that while I am wearing a watch and recording all my runs, I do not allow myself to look at the pace or mile splits while I am running. I decide what kind of effort I want to put in, and that is the effort I exert.  I can't look at my watch to see if my pace matches what I think it should for my effort.  I often keep my watch on the HR screen so that I can judge my effort by my HR, but not accidentally see my pace.  Some days I have the self control not to look at my watch at all.  

On Monday, my legs were itching to go.  I hadn't let myself open up to a fast pace in awhile, and my legs wanted to stretch out.  I had barely been free of calf pain for 24 hours, but sometimes it is worse to hold my legs back, so I decided to let them go.  I kept the effort somewhere between moderate and hard, and did not look at my watch until it was over, other than to check the mileage occasionally because I wanted to make sure I got at least 4.  I was incredibly happy to see my average pace when I completed the run.  7:06 average in a training run without exerting maximum effort was a huge confidence booster for me.  

On Tuesday I was still feeling good and my legs still had that "get up and go" feeling.  I wasn't quite ready to put myself back on the track, so I decided to do a long hill push.  I hadn't run the 2+ mile White's Mill hill in awhile, and I was craving a good long hard climb.  Ben agreed to go with me, so off we went.  We kept the pace easy-moderate on the downhill, and after turning around at the bottom I focused on a good steady push up the hill.  Last time I did this run, I pushed too hard on the first part of the hill and died before I reached the top, so this time I made sure I was keeping something for the final push.  I felt really strong as I pushed up that hill, and was really pleased with the run overall.  
I made myself take Wednesday off because I was afraid of overdoing it and setting myself back again when I was finally feeling good.  On Thursday I had planned to do a TRX workout for Gail in the evening, so I decided to do my run before work in the morning.  I decided it would be better for my legs to not do the run and TRX back to back.  Plus, I'm always slow in the mornings, so a morning run guarantees that I won't overdo it.  I forgot to eat a little something before the run, so my stomach was yelling at me to feed it during the whole run, but other than that is wasn't bad.  

I was hoping for a minimum of 12 miles on Saturday (although I only needed 11 to hit my 30 miles for the week so I knew I could stop there if it was going poorly).  I had a vague route planned out in my head, but I hadn't mapped it, and suspected I would have to add several miles at the end of the loop I had in mind.  A few miles in, I was feeling pretty good despite the persistent rain and had an idea for a loop to add, so I did.  Coming up on 11 miles, I had a choice to run straight home and get about 13, or add a bit and get to 14.  I decided to go for the 14.  I ended up having to zig zag back and forth between two streets to get the 14 without running past home, but I got it.  I kept the effort pretty easy throughout the run.  I noticed my HR creeping into Z4 a few times, and each time I worked to steady my breathing and bring it back to Z3.  I ended up with only 12% of the run in Z4, which can mostly be attributed to hills.   I was a bit disappointed that my average pace was over 8, but after looking at the HR data I realized that 8:07 is a good pace for me, with staying out of Z4.  I'm still hoping that comes down below 8:00 soon, but I think as long as things continue to go well, it will.  

Happy face after a great hill run!

Successful 14 miler done despite the chill and rain!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Another setback

BUT I did get back to 30 miles this week, so I'm not too worked up about it.  My body is just being ornery and clearly doesn't want to do any kind of speed training.  All I have to do is think about doing speed or tempo and a new ache/pain shows up.  I now have zero official pace goals for the Bluegrass 1/2 on the 24th of September.  I just want to be able to run the race and feel good.  If I can just come out of this setback and NOT have another one...that would be great.

This week's setback was a knot in my right calf.  I felt fine until the last mile of my group run on Tuesday, and then I started getting twinges of a muscle cramp.  I immediately stopped trying to keep up with the guys and took it easy as I finished the run, but I guess it was already too late.  I'm not sure what caused the cramps.  Could have been dehydration, could have been related to the sore muscles from Wednesday's hike, could have been tweaked in Monday's TRX.  All I do know, is those muscle cramps turned into a knot in my calf that is still there today, although thankfully it seems to be almost worked out.  Today was the first run where it didn't feel like it was having a negative effect on the run, although I could still feel it lurking.

This week : 
M : yoga 20 min
run 5 / 8:10 / 289 ft
TRX 30 min 
swim 16:00 / 700 yds (rest every 50)
T : yoga 20 min
group run 6.1 / 8:18 / 449 ft
W : yoga 15 min
R : group run 6.2 / 8:41 / 571 ft
F : rest
 Sa : run 6.7 / 8:02 / 587 ft
Su : run 6.5 / 7:48 / 407 ft (3 w/Ben)
total miles : 30.5

This is what my calendar said for this week.
I don't think I ever even looked at this during the week.
I was going to do the tempo on Thursday, but scrapped it because of the calf pain.
I probably should have made myself bike at some point...oh well. 

I felt like I was kind of getting the hang of the swimming thing on Monday, I was actually managing to get that whole turn-head-to-the-side thing to breathe, but my legs were just dying.  My kick is the strongest part of my swim, so I got really confused as to why I was unable to kick myself efficiently across the pool.  Then I realized that my legs just wanted to be done for the day, since I had already run and done TRX.  So I called it quits and went to the hot tub to relax for a bit.  

Wednesday was day 10 in a row of my morning yoga streak, and it was also the first day of school.  I was proud of myself for getting up early enough to squeeze in some yoga before getting out the door by 7:20, but I decided 10 days was enough and I'm not going to torture myself to make time for yoga every day before school.  Consequently, I haven't done any yoga since Wednesday...  In another couple of weeks I'll be back to doing an after school yoga class once a week, so that will be good.  

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Make a plan. Ignore plan.

I do this a lot.  I'm always making up training schedules for myself.  Once in awhile, I actually do manage to follow the schedule exactly.  But only once in awhile.  The rest of the's just an idea, right?  Not something set in stone?  This is why I won't hire a coach for myself.  Yet I want to coach others...because I'm good at making the plans!  I just need someone more dedicated than me to actually follow the plans!  Although I'm not sure "dedicated" is quite the word I'm looking for.  I am dedicated.  I get done what I need to eventually.  Life just gets in the way sometimes and messes up the order and timing.

This was the plan for the week : 
(purple is yoga minutes, blue is running miles)

Here's what I actually did : 

Monday : yoga : 25

Tuesday : yoga : 20
TRX : 34
run : 5.5 / 7:50 / 400 ft

Wednesday : yoga : 40
hike : 5 miles
swim : 26 / 1100yds (rest every 50)
bike (group) : 18.4 / 14.7 mph / 1050 ft

Thursday : yoga : 20
run : 9.6 / 8:46 / 420 ft
(4.5 solo, then with group)

Friday : yoga : 25

Saturday :  yoga : 20
horseback ride on and off for 7 hours

Sunday : yoga : 15
run 10.8 / 7:53 / 587 ft

total bike miles : 18.4
total run miles : 25.9
total swim : 1100 yds

I was super proud of myself for doing yoga first thing in the morning EVERY SINGLE DAY this week.  I found a different "morning yoga" video on YouTube each day.  I tried to pick the gentler ones so I wouldn't feel too horribly in need of a shower afterwards.  I meant to also do a more strenuous video at least once this week, later in the day, but that hasn't happened yet, so it probably won't happen.  I'm sure I'm benefiting just from the gentle stretching each morning though!  The trick will be trying to keep that routine once school starts and I have to be out of the house by 7:20 every day. I did start work on Thursday this week, but I didn't have to be in til 9 on Thursday or Friday.  

I don't remember why I didn't bike on Monday.  I think I just decided that my legs needed rest and that they didn't need to deal with hills on a bike.  If I could have ridden without coming across a single hill I probably would have.  Oh yeah, I remember what else happened.  I decided to dust my bedroom, and do a little vacuuming, and somehow that turned into cleaning and re-organizing my entire kitchen.  That took several hours.  It definitely needed to be done, but it also definitely threw a wrench in my day.  I had intended to go into work in the morning.  I ended up going in the afternoon instead, once I had finally finished the kitchen.  

Tuesday's run was a "shakeout" right after I did TRX.  I didn't let myself check my pace at any point during the run.  I just did whatever felt good.  I did try to throw in a good mix of hills so my legs wouldn't get too "bored."

On Wednesday I had every intention of running and biking, but then I decided that since it was my last day of vacation, I also needed to go on an adventure.  Blog post here. My adventure ended up being a 5 mile hike.  I made the mistake of telling someone I would be back in time for lunch, which meant that I got really rushed towards the end of the hike.  Like, I realized I wouldn't be back til 2 if I didn't really hurry, and that my friend might start to freak out that something had happened to me.  So I ended up walk/jogging the 2.5 miles back to the car.  In my chacos.  Which were wet from the creek crossings.  So now I have a bunch of rubs on my feet, and my calves have now almost stopped screaming at me.  But hey, my calves probably needed the workout.  Anyway, I made it back to cell service by 12:40 so all was well.  After lunch, Gail somehow convinced me to go to the pool with her to swim laps.  I've been avoiding this for ages.  I want to be able to swim...but I just can't get the breathing thing down.  I've inhaled so much water in my life it freaks me out to even think about trying that sideways turning breathing thing.  But, I went to the pool with Gail.  As I got in the pool, I realized I had forgotten my inhaler.  Because why not make this breathing thing even harder on myself?  After inhaling a tiny bit of water, I decided I was definitely going to use a nose clip.  That thing is a life saver.  I did about 20ish laps with a kickboard, just kicking myself back and forth across the pool as fast as I could with my arms straight out in front of me, and trying to practice turning my head to breathe.  I had to rest for several minutes between each lap to catch my breath.  Then I did a few laps trying to do some approximation of a breast stroke, which I decided would be easier to master the breathing for.  Turns out I can only think about 2 things at once.  So I can get the arms and the legs right, or I can get the arms and the breathing right.  But at least I was making it back and forth across the pool without a kickboard.  I did flip to my back a couple times to just kick and catch my breath though.  In the end, I survived my first ever experience "swimming" laps.  And then I decided I couldn't ditch my bike ride like I had clearly ditched my run, so I went to the group bike ride.  To which no one else showed up.  But there were a couple people who had randomly shown up to ride together at that time, and they let me join them.  So that was nice.  

On Thursday I was not feeling so great, and it was 80+ degrees out, but I was already way behind on my mileage for the week so I had to go for a run.  I decided to time my run so that I would get 4-5 alone and then be able to jump in with a group starting at 5:00 to get some more miles with them.  I ended up getting 4.5 alone and then dragging myself behind the group for the rest of the run.  I felt awful, but I made it through the whole run so, yay miles!

I accepted that Friday would have to be a rest day and that I would get the remaining miles I needed on Saturday and Sunday. 

Sue had texted me earlier in the week to say she would be at a horse show near me and would bring Pony if I wanted to ride.  Of course I said yes.  How could I say no to Pony visiting me instead of me having to go visit her?!  The show was only about 15 minutes away from  me!  I got there around 11, and ended up spending the next 9 hours on and off  my horse, riding back and forth between the trailer and the arena where they were having a cattle sorting show.  I spent lots of time just sitting on Pony watching the show.  It was a fun time, and it was great to spend some time with Pony!  But it meant that I did not run.  So...another rest day, more or less.  

I accepted that I was not getting 30 miles this week.  I briefly toyed with the idea of trying to get 15 today, but then I saw that it was going to be over 80 by noon, and closer to 90 by 5, so I scrapped that idea.  I realized if I wanted anything close to a long run I would have to get up early and run before church.  I got up at 5:15.  I hit snooze til 5:30 because I could not get myself up.  I did yoga til 5:45.  I had breakfast.  I finally got out the door at 6:45.  If I wanted to go to church in Abingdon, I had to be home by 8:15 for the 9:00 Mass.  There was a 10:30 option in Bristol, but I didn't want to drive that far if I didn't really have to.  So I got as many miles as I could by 8:15 and called it good.  I think it helped me run a bit faster than I might have otherwise though.  It actually ended up being the best I've felt on a run in awhile, and I was pleased that I averaged under 8:00 pace.  And since it wasn't super long, I shouldn't need too much recovery.  I hope to be back over 30 miles next week!  

So awesome that Pony got to come visit me!

Sue offered to take photos of us.  
Pony was much more interested in eating grass than in posing.

In other news, I found out that the gym near me (with the pool) is only $140/year for teachers.  And they have TRX hooks on the wall, in addition to a pool, so I think I will actually get a gym membership!  Then I'll have to learn how to swim efficiently and use it for cross training, AND I will be able to do so much more with TRX because I won't be confined in my hallway anymore!  

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Gentry Creek Falls 8/16/2017

Wednesday was my last official day of summer vacation.  Tuesday night after run club someone told me about a great waterfall that wasn't too far from Damascus.  I looked into it when I got home.  Google Maps told me it was over an hour away, but further research showed that the actual trail head was much closer, and Google just doesn't know where it is.  Google was trying to take me to the actual falls, from the other direction, instead of taking me to the trailhead.  So, after determining that it was more like 35-40 minutes in the car, I decided it would be a good last-day-of-vacation adventure.
obligatory adventure-selfie

And an adventure it was!  Thankfully I had learned that there were many creek crossings on this trail, so I was prepared with chacos and running shorts.  There were too many crossings to count!  And, with all the rain we've had lately, the creek was up and moving.  The water was moving fast enough that not only was it sometimes hard to maintain balance while placing each foot, but it was also hard to see where to step, because the movement of the water blurred everything underneath.  Several of the crossings were up to my knees, and at least one was over my knees!

It wasn't too hard to find the trail head, thanks to the directions I found at  I was coming from the north, rather than from the south, so I took 58E to 91S to Gentry Creek Rd.  It would have been helpful to know how far down the road the trail head was.  I tracked it coming back, the trailhead is 3.1 miles from 91.  The last 1.3 miles is on a 1 lane dirt/gravel road that winds its way through the forest until it dead ends in a clearing.  It looks like there are a few different trails going out of the clearing, the blue blaze trail is the one you want for the falls.  There was at least one point along the trail where I came to an intersection of trails and couldn't see any blue blazes.  I went with my instinct which said to always choose the trail that follows the creek.  My instinct was correct.

The trail was gorgeous as it wound it's way along and back and forth over the creek.  Sunbeams came down through the trees to illuminate pockets of the forest floor.  2.5 miles down the trail I found the twin falls cascading over a cliff.  As I was photographing them, I had to constantly wipe the spray off my lens.  I had heard that you could climb up above the falls for another angle to photograph, and also that if you continued on up above the falls you would come to a gorgeous 360 view of the surrounding area.  I started to attempt the climb, but the trail was steep and covered in a wet mulch-y mud.  I think I could have scrambled up it, but it was so steep I was worried I wouldn't be able to get back down safely.  I didn't want to risk myself or the expensive camera equipment I was carrying on my back, so I decided to save that adventure for a drier day.

I thought this was cool, the spray off the waterfalls 
being carried by the wind through a sunbeam. 

To see all of the photos, visit GMcD Photography

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Time to take a break

But not from running of course!  Just from the training.  Ever since I hurt my back in July and took a week off from running, it's been hard coming back.  There was the terrible flat-ness in MI that made my legs angry, and then I got back home and my body just doesn't want to run hard anymore.  It's been super frustrating, but it's time to accept that I need to back off.  Sure, I'm 6 weeks away from half marathon that I could potentially do really well at, but I just have to keep reminding myself the real goal race isn't til November and if I want to be strong I can't keep pushing myself too hard.

So for the next 2 ish weeks, the goal is just to get back the joy in running.  I have minor distance goals for each run, but no pace goals.  I'm not going to purposely run fast, but I'm not going to purposely run slow either.  I've found my legs are angrier after being forced to run slower.  I also think part of my problem is all this time on the couch since I got home from my roadtrip.  Not working is weird.  I went into school 4 days this week more to get off the couch than because I really had to.  It was nice to get a head start on setting up my classroom and thinking about lesson plans, but it wasn't necessary.  I think getting back to work and being on a normal daily schedule will probably help my running too.

This week :
M : yoga 50 minutes
T : group run 6.1 / 7:39 / 348 ft
W : workout 30 minutes
group bike 23.1 / 15.2 mph / 1355 ft
R : group run 7.5 / 7:58 /522 ft
F : run 6 / 8:01 / 449 ft
yoga 20 minutes
Sa : bike 24 / 17.4 mph / 1348 ft
Su : run w/ Corey 14 / 8:30 / 869 ft
total bike miles : 47.1 
total run miles : 33.6

We had planned mile repeats on Tuesday, but none of us were feeling up for it so we just ran instead.  And then we planned a tempo run for me on Thursday, but I wasn't feeling up for it and no one else wanted it enough to pull me through so again, we just ran.  

Today's run was brutal.  I probably should drop long runs while I'm trying to just enjoy running, but I feel like I've lost so much of my endurance in the last 2 months and I don't want to lose any more of it.  I wanted to keep my endurance after the marathon!  The plan for today was about 12 miles.  I really wanted a change of scenery for the long run so we went to Bristol.  I filled my camelbak 3/4 full.  I didn't want to need it, but I've been feeling so drained on runs lately I figured better safe than sorry.  I ended up wishing I had filled it the whole was empty with 2 miles left in the run.  I had planned about roughly the first 6 miles of the run point to point, and then figured we'd run around Steele Creek park, see where we were mileage wise, and head back on a shorter route than how we got there.  It ended up being much sunnier and hotter than either of us expected (I got rained on during my run Friday and during my ride Saturday!) We were both feeling the heat by the time we got to Steele Creek.  We decided to run the shaded trail around the lake for a break from the sun.  Then we had to climb a looooong hill out of the park.  With little shade.  I actually thought I might pass out at one point.  How did I make it to August without acclimating to running in the heat?!  I was dragging more and more with each mile, but I did make it back to the car without giving up.  On the bright side, running 14 instead of 12 this weekend means I can do 8-10 instead of 12 next weekend.  Or who knows, maybe I'll just feel really good next weekend and do more. You never know. Maybe it won't be as hot. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017


Neither of my longer runs this week went as planned.  The heat is at least partially to blame, and overestimating my current fitness is level is most likely another culprit.  Bad runs are lessons to learn from, and I will use what I learned to help make better decisions next week.  (I hope...)

This week : 
M : pub run 4.7 / 8:10 / 121 ft
T : TRX class @ GVF 50 minutes
horseback ride 1:40
W : run 4.2 / 7:49 / 312 ft
(medium effort hill run)
R : run w/Corey 10 / 8:37 / 305
(2x 2 mile, 1x 1 mile, 1x 0.5 mile)
F : yoga 50 minutes
Sa : group bike 23.1 / 14.3 mph / 1125 ft
run 3.3 / 8:02 / 240 ft
(easy effort)
Su : run 9.7 / 8:24 / 597 ft
total bike miles : 23.1
total run miles : 31.9

Thursday's plan was to run the repeats at 6:30 pace, which is my eventual goal half marathon pace.  If I was smarter, I would have known that I am not ready to train that pace yet and I need to start at a more realistic place.  The first 2 miles went fine, but halfway through the 2nd repeat my lungs died and I started to slow.  I had to walk the recovery after that, trying to calm my breathing and my HR, but my body wasn't cooperating.  I decided not to abandon the workout, but didn't even try to hit the 6:30 pace for the mile or 1/2 mile.  I just put it whatever effort I could, and I walked the 1/2 mile recovery between the mile and 1/2 mile.  I will do this workout again in a week and a half or 2 weeks, but I will probably try for 6:40-45 pace instead of 6:30.  

Today I hoped for 10-12 miles, but after staying up too late having too much fun with friends last night, I knew it was optimistic to hope for.  I hardly drink alcohol anymore, and I'm usually good at saying no when other people offer me drinks, but last night I did not do such a good job of saying no.  I drank plenty of water after waking up this morning, but the drinking still took a toll on my body that did not mix well with trying to run 10 miles in 80+ degree heat, even with the nice breeze and the low humidity.  The first 6 or so miles were fine, but as I got slower and slower after that, I knew it wasn't worth it to keep pushing and so I cut the run short. I probably should have been satisfied with one 10 miler this week anyway.  

The good news is, I made it 30+ miles 2 weeks in a row!  I just need to start working towards getting that 30 miles in 4 runs instead of 5 and trying to bike at least once a week.   

And in other news, I signed up for the Pittsburgh marathon this week! There were 2 years between my first two marathons, 4 years between the second and third, and now I am going to have 2 in one year... I'm hoping to stay in some semblance of marathon shape while focusing on half marathon training so that I won't have to spend all winter and spring building back up, but every week I miss another long run is taking me further from that fitness level that I am trying to maintain.  

Monday, July 31, 2017


I enjoyed 5 days back home in Abingdon, getting back to my normal fitness routine.  I did my Monday yoga, my Tuesday speedwork, my Wednesday workout, and a Thursday pace run.  Then I got up at 3:45 AM on Saturday to drive to Roanoke for a short hill challenge race.  After the race I headed to Lewisburg to spend a few days with some very good friends before they move away.  It's hard to be on the road again so soon after returning home from a long trip, but I'm grateful for the time to spend with some of my favorite people!

This week : 
 M : yoga/stretching 20 minutes
run 4.1 / 8:18 / 220 ft
T : run hill sprints 5.5 / 8:39 / 551 ft
W : TRX 3x10 @45/15
R : yoga/stretching 40 minutes 
run w/Corey 8 / 7:27 / 377 ft
(6 hard, avg 7:12)
F : rest day
Sa : warm up + strides 2.6 / 8:13 / 430 ft
race 1.8 / 6:40 / 449 ft
cool down 1.1 / 9:51 / 236 ft
Su : group jog 10 / 12:00 / 584 ft
horseback ride 2 hours
total miles run : 33.2

On Monday, I kept the run easy.  I wore my watch, but I did not allow myself to look at it during the run.  I made myself keep the effort easy the whole way.  

On Tuesday, I decided that my speedwork needed to be hill sprints in order to prepare myself for Saturday's race after not having any hills to run for a few weeks.  None of my group showed up to run club so I ran the workout alone.  5 times up a 0.2 mile hill with 112ft of gain.  The last time I did this exact workout was in April.  I hit each sprint a few seconds faster this time. I used my HR as a guide for each recovery, when I couldn't get my HR back below 130 on the jog back to the bottom, I decided to only do one more.  

On Wednesday, I designed a TRX workout to mainly target my arms, but with some exercises for my legs and abs as well. It was hard, as I just took a couple weeks off from TRX after hurting my back.  I was definitely sore the next day!

On Thursday, I did a nice long yoga stretching video to help with the soreness.  I was feeling overdue for a pace run workout, and Corey was up for whatever I needed as he had done his tempo run the day before.  I knew I definitely wanted 6 miles under 7:30, but wasn't sure what pace was realistic for how slack my training had been + my sore legs.  I ended up just pushing the pace to whatever felt hard but not injury-inducing.  All 6 of the pace miles ended up under 7:30, and the last mile was a 6:49.  It was really helpful to have Corey there keeping me to my pace but staying next to or behind me so that I was the one choosing the pace, rather than getting tired out trying to chase his pace.  He did lead me for the last mile to help me push that one faster.  We talked on and off throughout the whole run, and it was really nice for me to discover that my lungs were able to handle the occasional talking even while running at half marathon race effort.  

I wasn't sure what to expect from Saturday's race with my sore legs.  I didn't want to skip the race, but I didn't want to get injured either.  I did a longer warmup than usual, to make sure my legs were ready and as loose as possible.  When the horn went off, I just took off.  I didn't start at full speed, but gave my legs about a minute to settle into the fast pace up a hill, and then I started really pushing.  I moved into 2nd place overall within a few minutes, and held that position for the rest of the race.  I didn't bother looking at my watch, but just pushed hard.  I found that I was able to keep pushing hard the whole way, and that I just felt strong!  My legs and lungs were working together and carrying me up each hill much easier than I was expecting.  After the race, I decided to look up my time from the previous year, and was astounded to see that I had PRd by 34 seconds over last year.  I wouldn't have thought it was possible to take that much time off of a 1.8 mile distance!  It gave me a great feeling of validation for all the speedwork I have been doing!  It's always nice to know that hard work is paying off with results!  

More uphill than down in this race, but here I am coming off of one of the few downs before heading up the final hill. 

King and Queen of the Hill each got a plaque and a stuffed horse. 
(the race benefits a program called Unbridled Change which uses horses for therapy)

On Sunday, I enjoyed a social jog on the Greenbrier River Trail with some people in Lewisburg.  My legs and feet were staring to bother me towards the end from being held to a slow shuffle pace, but other than that it was fine.  I know it's good for me to do the long slow runs occasionally because it gets me miles without much strain.  

Monday, July 24, 2017

MIchigan Week 2 =>OH =>VA

Trying to bring my mileage back up slowly and wisely.  It helped that I couldn't stand the flatness in Michigan so it was hard to run too long anyway.  Monday's and Tuesday's runs went really well because it felt so good to stretch out my legs, but by Thursday my legs were over it and didn't want to go.  It was nice that I got some good use out of my bike this week though!

This week : 
 M : run 8 / 7:34 / 226 ft
T : run 7.2 / 7:29 /98 ft
W : bike 16 / 18.5 mph / 305 ft 
R : run 5.1 / 7:38 / 194 ft
F : rest
Sa : bike w/Lauren 19.6 / 16.3 mph / 912 ft
kayak 5.1
Su : run 4 / 7:28 / 262 ft
total run miles : 24.3
total bike miles : 35.7

Tuesday's speedwork was timed intervals.  10 minute warm up around 8:00 pace, then 6 x 4 minutes at 6:30 pace / 2 minute jog, then cool-down back to the house.  I used the Kal-Haven trail, which is a flat bike path that is mostly well-packed dirt.  Now that I'm back home, I will still do some track Tuesday's, but I am going to start doing some Tuesday's on the Creeper Trail instead to get longer intervals without having to run so many circles.  I dislike the trail because of it's slight downhill grade going out and uphill coming back, but it's time to learn to deal with it!  I want to start doing some 2 mile intervals, and I'm not going to make myself run that many laps around a track.  I also need to be building more muscle for the flats so that they don't hurt me in races.  

I feel like I am so very overdue for a long run, as I haven't had one since my marathon/half marathon week, but it just hasn't been in the cards.  And I know I can't just go out and force a long run if I want to stay healthy.  Not sure how long it will take to lose all that endurance I built up but hopefully it can hang on for another few weeks!  I'm hoping to stay in marathon shape while working towards my half marathon PR.  

Michigan fun

Ohio fun

back home in VA

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Michigan Week 1 : Ann Arbor

I'm not going to do a full post because I don't have reliable internet and am using my phone. I ran 4 times this week, 3-6 miles each. It wasn't much fun because it is so ridiculously flat here, but other than that my legs felt pretty good. I also did an 18 mile bike ride, the flatness didn't bother me so much for that and I loved the bike lanes and bike paths!

I'm on the last week of my extended road trip, going to enjoy some time with a very good friend before heading home!

Monday, July 10, 2017

RI week 2 :July déjà vu

Last year while in RI around the 4th of July, I strained my back with too much biking and then destroyed it with a track workout. This year, I strained my back doing TRX and then destroyed it with a track workout. I never learn... It was a lot worse this year. My back was strained by bad form in ab exercises, pulled on by tight leg muscles from overdoing the squats and lunges, and then insulted by 10x300 on the track. But hey, despite the pain, I hit between my goal times of 59-61 seconds every time. Perhaps without the pain I could have had them all at 57-59 though... Anyway, my leg muscles got so tight I couldn't straighten my back for a few days. The foam roller was minimally helpful. The heating pad allowed me to straighten for as long as the muscles stayed hot. I ended up not being able to get any exercise other than walking for the rest of the week. I've decided that my body creates problems just to make me take time off since I'm so bad at keeping training easy. Also bad at listening to minor aches and pains. My back had started hurting before the sprints but it wasn't bad enough for me to be able to give them up like I should have.

This week:
M : 30 minute TRX
       run w/ sister 4.2 / 8:47 / 337ft
T : warm up 1 / 8:52 / 91 ft
      10x300 : 61, 59, 60x6, 61, 59 
        recoveries were 100+m walk til HR was below 125
       cool down : 1 / 10:46 / 72 ft
W : 15 min yoga
       1.4 mile walk
R : 1.3 mile walk 
Su : 2.5 mile walk  
total miles runs : 9

Sunday, July 2, 2017

RI week 1

This week : 
M : run  6.1 / 8:09/ 510 ft
(5 w/sister)
T : warm up 1.5 / 8:55 / 95 ft (1 mile + 4x100m strides)
1600 time trial 5:54 (1500 @ 5:26)
cool down 1.5 / 9:08 / 89 ft
W : 30 minute TRX
rowing machine 15:00 / 2750m
R : run 8.4 / 7:52 / 505 ft
F : 40 minute yoga
Sa : group bike 20 / 17.1 / 584 ft
run w/sister 5.7 / 8:46 /354 ft
Su : run 3.5 / 9:09 / 253 ft
total miles run : 27.8
total miles biked : 20

I was super happy with my time trial on Tuesday, when I beat my HS 1500 PR by 10 seconds, plus it was fun to do my time trial on the same track where I started my running career!  

Wednesday's TRX had me sore for 2-3 days afterwards, which is always welcomed after a workout as it lets me know I worked hard!

Thursday's miles didn't feel quite as easy as I wish they had, but they still went well overall, especially considering the strong winds, and it was nice to get in a slightly longer training run. 

The runs with my sister were more about her than me, just trying to stick to a pace she could handle for some longer runs than she's used to and trying to give her tips here and there.  

 Today I made the mistake of barely drinking any water, napping too long, and then attempting to run straight out of the nap.  The result : dead legs and an angry stomach. But hey, any run is better than no run!  

Portions of Monday's and Sunday's runs were on grass, which was no big deal in HS but now feels so much harder than pavement!  So much extra effort required to run on grass.  I'm sure it's good for my legs and feet to work all those extra stabilizer muscles...but I definitely prefer pavement! 

I've drawn up a schedule for this coming week to try and get myself back into training and motivated.  TRX twice, a track workout, a distance pace workout, and hopefully 2 bike rides!  And an easy run or two of course. 

Hooray for being able to sprint faster than my high school self even though I'm much more of an endurance runner!  

Monday, June 26, 2017

Recovery Week

This week : 
M : 45 minute TRX class
run 3.1 / 
T : 45 minute TRX class
run 4.5 / 
(4 x 800)
horseback ride 90 minutes
W : bike 8.3 / 16.8 mph / 607 ft
R : bike 16.4 / 16.6 mph / 1214 ft
F : 45 minute TRX class
run 5 / 7:40 / 397 ft
horseback ride 90 minutes
Sa : run 5.3 / 7:32 / 144 ft
Su : rest
total run miles : 17.9
total bike miles : 24.8

I don't feel like I'm recovering from a back-to-back marathon/half marathon.  I have to keep reminding myself that my body needs recovery time even though I don't feel like it does.  My reduced mileage just feels lazy to me right helps that I have been traveling, so at least I have been busy enough to almost not notice how little I am running.... I am now in RI for about 2 weeks though, and hope to get my running schedule back to somewhat normal while here, as well as throwing in some bike rides.  Primary focus is now to work towards a half marathon PR.  It's time to break 1:28, and I'm hoping to break it by more than just a few seconds!  

Here I am enjoying a run through Lewisburg, PA after a 6 hour drive.  It was a gorgeous run, but way too flat for my tastes!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Post-Marathon week

By Wednesday, my legs didn't feel sore anymore.  Seems like all my training really paid off for that marathon, my body was ready to handle it and recover quickly!  Now, I know my body is probably still recovering, even though it feels fine.  It certainly wasn't ready to run a stellar half marathon on Saturday, but I still was able to run a strong race, if not a super-fast one.  I want to jump straight into training for the half marathon PR I hope to get in the fall, but hopefully I will be able to convince myself to take it easy for at least another week.

This week : 
M : walk 3.2 
T : group 4.1 / 8:25 / 167 ft
W : 30 minute ab workout 
R : group 4.2 / 7:44 / 240 ft
F : off
Sa : race 13.2 / 7:24 / 449 ft
Su : jog w/Lex 4.3 / 10:36 / 397 ft
total miles : 25.8

I was itching to run on Monday, but felt like it was probably a better idea to wait another day.  I did need to go to the post office though, I decided to walk instead of drive.  It was pretty hot out for a walk, but it still felt good to move my legs.  The walk also helped to loosen up my hips, which were pretty tight post-marathon.  On Tuesday I went to run club, but kept the pace nice and easy.  Thursday I was pushing the pace, because my legs were sick of slow paces, and I wanted to let them stretch out before Saturday's race!  The race was really humid, and I wasn't able to run quite as fast as I had hoped, but I still put in a solid run for 1 week post-marathon.  Today I drove to Lewisburg, and had a nice recovery jog with a friend.  

This coming week, I hope to enjoy some runs around town as well as a bike ride or two.  I'll also go to at least one TRX class at the gym while I'm here.  And of course spend some quality time with my horse!