If you’re going to San Francisco…

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…be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.

Each year, Hunter and I usually go on a vacation that requires an airplane flight. I don’t really like the beach, and he doesn’t really care either way, so our trips are usually to some big city where we can explore and take up lots of activities.

In 2012, we went to Washington D.C. and Philadelphia. In 2014, we went to NYC – and then when I got into the NYC Marathon in 2015, we went back. In 2016, we went to Chicago, and last year, we went to Boston (followed by Bar Harbor, Maine).

I’ve never been further west than Texas, and I’ve long wanted to visit San Francisco, so we had been talking about a vacation and decided this would be the year to go to SF. Our 10th wedding anniversary is in mid-August, so I was looking to go around that date, and then… bam. I somehow saw somewhere that the San Francisco Marathon is July 29…. so close to the time period I was looking at to make the trip out there.

And then I started thinking… if I run a marathon in July, it will give me motivation to keep in shape and keep training all through the spring and early summer. If I run the San Francisco marathon, I’ll get to run over the Golden Gate Bridge. I’ll get to add another state to my list of places I’ve run a marathon. I very quickly fell in love with the idea.

So, after a little discussion with Hunter, I registered. Shortly after, I booked a (very expensive but affordable thanks to the marathon rate) hotel near the finish line. Then I booked plane flights. We’ll be heading out to SF about four days before the race to give us time to do our normal vacation stuff, and then we will fly home the day after the marathon.

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So, an 18-week training plan will begin about 3 weeks post-Little Rock Marathon. I’ll be doing the same thing I did leading up to Dallas, except I will be incorporating A LOT of hill work. We have absolutely nothing compared to what San Francisco has hill-wise, but I will be looking for ways to train in anticipation of what waits for me there. I am so excited!

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Looking to Little Rock: Week Two

Meh…. I ran four times this week, but I still didn’t feel up to doing the amount of miles that I normally would do at this point in a training cycle. It also rained off and on all week, which messed with some of my plans.

Wednesday, Ran 2 miles/8:49 pace

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I did this before work, and I got a later start than planned because it was raining heavily when my alarm went off at 6:30. I woke up again at 7:10 and the rain had stopped, so I went out just to get SOMETHING done. It started raining again shortly after I did the 2 miles.

For Valentine’s Day, we went to a really nice restaurant, Ernest’s Orleans. There were free pictures being taken in front of a green screen, so we posed for some! It was funny. It felt like we were at a high school dance taking pictures πŸ™‚

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Thursday, Ran 3 miles/8:50 pace

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I went out after work to get this done, and it was a struggle. I had a moderately speedy first mile, a faster second mile, and then I was so out of breath that I took the third mile slower, rather than just quit. I’ve found it hard to breathe during faster runs this week. It was annoying.

Saturday, Ran 2.8 miles with “hill work”/10:37 pace

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Saturday was a rainy day, but around 5 p.m., after several hours of volunteering at the cat shelter, I was able to go out and run to the local arena where I could do some “hill work” via climbing these stairs five times. My heart was pounding when I was done!

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Sunday, Ran 13 miles/10:27 pace

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We had to be at church at 10:30, so I headed out at 7 to ensure I would have enough time to do a double-digit run, then shower and dress before church. It was “misting” a little, but otherwise no rain, just wet, cold, dreary – just like last week! But about 20 degrees warmer. Heather McDonald’s podcast and her interviews with Camille Grammer and Spencer Pratt got me through this one.

My foot started hurting again, just like last week… 😦 I wrapped it with an ace bandage and am going to try and spend some time icing it this week.

Little Rock Marathon in two weeks! It’s probably going to be rough. From what I’ve read, the second half is harder than the first, with a 2-mile long hill starting around mile 14, and then a long out-and-back that is mentally tasking, then another hill in the final miles. Yuck. Combine that with my lackluster training and a foot that keeps hurting, and well… we’ll see how it goes!

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In other news… I am getting a new pair of Brooks running shoes! They were on sale at Zulily, so I ordered a pretty pair of Brooks Ravenna 8s.

It is always an exciting day when I find a new pair of running shoes! I’ve been running in two different pairs of the Mizuno Catalysts for the past year, but with this Zulily deal, I decided to return to the old faithful Ravennas.

Friday Faves

TGIF!

I wanted to document some things I was enjoying this past week – it’s felt like the longest week ever!

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I got this hummus from Whole Foods, and it’s ah-mah-zing. I LOVE curry, so this is absolutely delicious to me. I’ve just been eating it with tortilla chips, plus some freshly-made guacamole I also got from Whole Foods.

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Holy Kombucha and Bobo’s Oat Bars (with chocolate almond butter filling) – also from Whole Foods. I’ve been trying all kinds of different kombuchas, and I really like this brand. The oat bars are a little higher in calories than I’d like, but it was a great filling snack to get me through the rest of the work afternoon and fuel me for an evening run before I ate dinner.

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I’ve watched errant episodes of Real Housewives shows before, but I just discovered all the episodes are on Hulu. I started the Beverly Hills edition from the beginning, and I’m already on the Season 1 finale. Addicted.

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I requested this pretty Yeti thermos for Valentine’s Day, and my husband delivered. I’ve been using it the past two days to bring hot caramel Starbucks coffee (made with my Keurig) or iced coffee to work.

This weekend is going to be the norm – volunteering at the cat shelter, church, and running! Oh, and watching RHOBH and the Olympics πŸ™‚

Looking to Little Rock: Week One

Well, with an unexpected trip to Little Rock on the horizon, I desperately needed to get back to a regular running schedule this past week.

I was worried that I might injure myself if, after three weeks of basically not running, I just jumped back in and attempted to run a week’s worth of miles as if I had never stopped. So instead of doing what I would usually do at this point in a training plan, 3-4 weeks before a marathon, I decided to do 4 training runs, all a little shorter than what I normally would plan to do.

Monday, Ran 3 miles, 8:26 pace

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Speed run: Oof. This was the best I could do, I guess, and I definitely saw the loss of speed considering my inconsistent training over the past 2 months. At my peak of training for the Dallas Marathon, I ran a 5-mile speed run at a sub-8 pace. So to be 30 seconds slower for a 3-miler is a little upsetting. But I earned that. I have to now try and regain what I lost.

Wednesday, Ran 4 miles, 8:39 pace

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Tempo run: I actually went out and did this run at 9 PM. I had to work a little late that evening, so I had decided to push the run until Thursday morning before work. But the more I thought about having to wake up extra early, the less I wanted to do that. Since I felt good enough, and our neighborhood is safe, I decided to go out and quickly do this tempo run late that night. I wore my reflective, blinking light clips and a white shirt to make sure I was visible to any cars, though I didn’t see too many.

Friday, Ran 2.4 miles, 9:33 pace

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Hill work: Little Rock apparently has some difficult hills, so I’ve decided that what I used to call my “easy runs” will be dedicated to focusing on running some “hills” …Β  Since we don’t have too many of those, this is mostly going to be the outside steps of a local arena, which go up pretty high. So whenever I do these “easy” runs, I will run at a comfortable pace and incorporate climbing those stairs several times. I didn’t get to do this for too long on Friday because I went after work, and it started getting dark soon after.

Sunday, Ran 17 miles, 10:24 pace

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Long run: Well, this would normally be the week where I run 20 miles for a second time during a training cycle, and I did think I might get up to that, but I also was really determined to listen to my body. Running 20 miles when I hadn’t run double digits (or even longer than 35 minutes) since Jan. 14 didn’t seem very wise.Β  But I was going to maybe try.

I got a late start Sunday morning, getting out to the running path around 10 AM. It was gray and cold and windy. It had rained off and on all day Saturday; while it wasn’t raining on Sunday, the air still just felt kind of wet. Needless to say, it was not the most pleasant running environment at 33 degrees. I ended up wearing my Nike hoodie jacket over my running shirt, unplanned, because it was colder than I expected, made worse by the wind. I felt pretty strong throughout the run, though I didn’t do very well with my fueling and that definitely was felt in the later miles.

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New trail signs at the ART! I was weirdly excited to see them LOL

I listened to podcasts by Ali on the Run and Reality Steve for most of the run, and they really helped the miles go by. By mile 14, the top of my left foot was really starting to hurt, and I kept thinking, “What if I get a stress fracture?” I’ve never had one, but I know they often are in the top of the foot, and they are usually caused by over-training or doing too much too fast. I was still a couple of miles away from my car, but I decided that I would probably call it quits whenever I got there because I really didn’t want to risk actually hurting myself. I did feel that, without the foot pain, I could have gone 3 more miles. Finishing 20 miles was not a question. So I got to my car at 17 miles and though the pain in my foot had subsided a little, I still ended my run.

I haven’t noticed my foot hurting since then, but I am going to be careful. Better to run the race under-trained than to not be able to run it at all.

Oops, I did it again…

I thought I was done with marathons for awhile, but then I saw that the Little Rock Marathon still had open spots for its marathon one month from now, and that I’m only 3.5 hours away, and, well… I registered.

March 4. Marathon #11. I will earn the most ridiculously-sized marathon medal of them all.

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This will be the fourth different state where I’ve run a marathon, first marathon in Arkansas.

I have run a total of five miles combined over the past 3 weeks since Louisiana Marathon, so I have to get in gear TOMORROW. I will be working up a four-week training plan tonight and trying to retrieve my discipline. It’s been kind of nice loafing around, but I am itching to have a goal again. I’m excited!

2017 recap

I never did one of these posts because I was sick and miserable around NewΒ  Year’s, so it didn’t really occur to me to get retrospective about 2017.

Now that I’m all better, I wanted to write something up about the past year. I got myself into another running funk in 2016, and at the start of 2017, I vowed to change my ways.

Well, for the first six months of the year, that didn’t really happen. I still barely ran, and the little amount of racing I did was never a PR, never trained for, never taken seriously. I even dropped down from a 10K to a 5K on the day of one race because I didn’t feel I could complete 6 miles without being miserable.

But then came July, and something inside me switched. I signed up for a 4th of July race and actually made a time goal, then beat it. I started running more consistently, chipped away at my 5K time, and grew confident enough to train for a marathon.

This fall was phenomenal. I am not a naturally disciplined person, so the fact that I basically stuck to my Dallas Marathon training plan exactly was no small feat. I got faster, set 5K and half marathon PRs, and then smashed my goal at the Dallas Marathon.

My only regret is that I didn’t set a 10K PR in 2017, too! I guess I had to leave something for 2018 πŸ˜‰

It’s amazing to see how quickly I was able to get back on track and see the best progress in my running that I have ever seen. I’m sure a lot of that has to do with already having a running foundation. I’ve learned so much over the past 7.5 years of being a runner, and that helped me train smart, run smart, and kept me motivated for the feeling of accomplishment that I knew came with achieving my goals and doing my best.

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Now that I’ve completed my first marathon of 2018, I’m not really sure what other goals I have in mind. I want to take this week off to rest, and then I am going to pick a 10K in the near future to try and get a PR. Local races are soon going to be nothing but 5Ks, because it gets so hot here. I never thought a year ago that I would have achieved so much – I kind of thought I was too old to be regularly PRing these distances. Shows how much I know! With discipline and luck when it comes to health/injuries, anything is possible.

Louisiana Marathon Race Recap

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Six years ago, I ran my very first marathon in Baton Rouge, at what was the very first Louisiana Marathon. Today, I returned to this race for my 10th marathon. Crazy. I never thought when I started training for a marathon in the fall of 2011 that I would eventually run ten – I just wanted to finish one!

Coming back to this race, I felt like I shouldn’t have too much pressure on myself – I got a PR in Dallas five weeks ago, so for this race, I just wanted to try and enjoy it.

On Friday we drove down to Baton Rouge, which always makes me a little emotional. We lived there for almost four years while Hunter went to law school at LSU, and it was just a really good period of our lives. Chances are we will never live there again, but I will always love the city and cherish that time.

We stayed downtown at the Hampton, just a few blocks from the start and finish area. We had dinner at Plucker’s, our favorite wings place where we used to go play trivia with friends, and I let myself eat unhealthy. Whereas I paid a lot of attention to what I ate the week of Dallas, I was way more lax about this last week.

On Saturday we slept in, then eventually headed to the expo less than a mile away at the River Center, where I picked up my bib and race shirt.

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I was kind of disappointed with the expo – I wasn’t really interested in any of the vendors. On our way out, we saw a clearance table of previous years’ merchandise by Tasc, an athletic apparel store in New Orleans that I’ve always really liked. I ended up getting a long-sleeve half zip and shorts for 50 percent off. The half-zip has the marathon logo on it, but no year, so it could have easily been sold at full price!

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Afterward, we had lunch at Dearman’s, a hamburger restaurant we ate at countless times when we lived in BR. We watched some football in the hotel, then went to a pho place for dinner.

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We also had to run to Dick’s so I could buy some better gloves for the cold weather, and to Best Buy to look for an armband for my phone.

On race morning, the temperature was every bit as cold as promised.

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I headed out to the race start at about 6:35, with my heat sheet from the Dallas Marathon to keep me warm until the race started. I ate a bagel with PB before I left, and my stomach started feeling upset, even though I’ve never had trouble with that before. I was hoping it was just nerves that would go away when the race started.

Unfortunately, the upset stomach stayed with me through the beginning of the run. It was also SO cold that my fingers inside my gloves were in pain.

After a couple of miles, my hands finally started warming up, but my stomach was still not settled. Around mile 3, we passed the 10-mile marker that we would come back to later, and I actually thought, “I don’t know how I’m going to run 7 more miles like this.” In addition, I drank water at every aid station, but because it was so cold, I was not sweating. This resulted in me needing to go to the bathroom FOUR times in the first half. And every time I stopped at a Porta-Potty, it took forever because my hands were barely operational due to the cold. It was just all bad, and I thought a couple times I was going to throw up. I had some grim thoughts about having to possibly drop out of the race if that happened.

Thankfully, things started turning around for me around the halfway mark. I had two Pepto Bismol chewable tablets in my Spi Belt, so I took those and they eventually helped settle my stomach. I also started only drinking water every other aid station, and it warmed up so I started sweating, and my need for bathroom breaks ceased.

Since I was sick for two straight weeks recently, I hadn’t run double digits in 3 weeks, and that started to catch up with me in the last 10 miles. My legs really hurt, my IT band was tight, and I had to start stretching it out every 2 miles or so. But I just kept pushing forward. The first half of the race was mostly the LSU campus and lakes, and then for the second half we went into several residential neighborhoods.

Within the last 4 miles, I passed the 4:40 pacer. My first marathon time was 4:40:16. I decided then that I wasn’t going to let him pass me back, and that my goal was to beat that first time.

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Legs were KILLING me the last few miles, and right at mile 25 they forced us to climb a freaking overpass! But before I knew it, my Garmin buzzed 26 miles and I was approaching the 26-mile marker soon after. I spotted my husband shortly before crossing the finish line, EXACTLY 20 minutes slower than my Dallas time – 4:34:29. My second fastest marathon time ever.

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All in all, I’m so glad I did this race and pushed through to the finish. In the last five weeks, I had my pretty perfect Dallas Marathon, and my milestone 10th marathon in Baton Rouge, and got my two best marathon times ever.

Here are my two Louisiana Marathon medals side by side – 2012 vs. 2018.

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Louisiana Marathon Goals

I had another good run tonight.

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I was worried that 2 weeks of no running would have degraded my conditioning quite a bit, since I’ve seen my conditioning fall off rapidly in the past when I took running breaks. But judging from how I felt tonight, it will be fine.

My goals for the Louisiana Marathon on Sunday are simple: Take it slow. Enjoy it. I was very focused and disciplined for the Dallas Marathon, and the result was a 25-minute PR. The reward I had planned for myself, if I PR’ed in Dallas, was that the Louisiana Marathon could be a kind of victory lap, with no pressure on myself. Having to take a 2-week running break only enforces that this should be a race I take easier than Dallas.

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My very first marathon ever was the 2012 Louisiana Marathon. The 2018 Louisiana Marathon will be my 10th. I started running in 2010 when I lived in Baton Rouge, and now I’m returning to BR for what is kind of a milestone race for me. I wouldn’t be surprised if I cry during this race just from emotion or nostalgia.

So all that being said, I need to get into a place mentally where I am okay with no PRing or going all out. I don’t know if it would even be possible since I had to skip running for 2 weeks during my horrible cold, and I don’t want to put that pressure on myself anyway. I want to just enjoy this and not let any negative emotions about finish time cloud my mind.

The weather forecast for Sunday is a high of 47, low of 29, no rain. Pretty great! I can’t wait to spend the weekend in Baton Rouge. I miss it so much.

Louisiana Marathon Training: Week Three

Nothing.

This was still me all last week:

sick

I even had to work from home a couple days in order to spare my coworkers from my germs and my annoying coughing.

But finally, by Friday, the worst of it seemed to finally be passing. I played it safe all weekend, refraining from running to make sure I continued to get healthy and didn’t do anything to regress.

And then today, Monday, for the first time in two weeks, I ran.

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I’m still coughing a little, but it’s nothing compared to even a week ago. I hope to run a few more times this week, though nothing very long or strenuous. It won’t be my best marathon on Sunday, but I will finish.