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” …  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.  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.

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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 New  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 😉

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:

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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.

Louisiana Marathon Training: Week Two

Last week was hijacked by an illness that I am still fighting. I don’t think I ever had the flu, which has been going around, but I have had a nasty cough and chest congestion since Christmas night that is still nagging me 8 days later.

I haven’t run since Christmas because I don’t want to do anything to aggravate the cold and prolong it. It has already lasted way longer than I anticipated. My hope is that I will be able to at least run double digits this coming Sunday, the last long run before the Louisiana Marathon. So with all that said, this was my one run of the week:

Monday, Christmas – Ran 3 miles

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Easy run: I intended to run 5 miles, but it was hard to get motivated to go out on Christmas morning. I kind of let the day get away from me, so I decided to go out and do my easy run around 4 in the afternoon. I felt awful during the run, and I thought it was because I had eaten so much earlier in the day. But that night I started getting a cough, congestion in my chest, chills, and aches. By the end of the day, I could tell I was just sick.

Louisiana Marathon Training: Week One

The plan: 

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With four weeks to go until the Louisiana Marathon, I simply went back to my Dallas Marathon training plan and decided to re-do the last four weeks of that schedule.

The only difference is that I am switching the 20-mile week and the 15-mile week so that I’m not running 20 miles the weekend before Christmas. This means I will be running 20 miles only two weeks before the race, but I think it will be fine as long as I take it easy.

Monday, Ran 4 miles/8:56 pace

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Tempo run: Our local running store had a no-frills fun run – the Ugly Christmas Sweater Run – for a measly $5 on Monday evening. The race was simply a non-timed 1.8-mile lap around the block, and they said we could run it as many times as we wanted. I decided to turn this into my tempo run, so I ran the loop twice, plus a little extra until I got to 4 miles. It was very dark, so I bought some blinking light shoe clips at the store prior to the race starting.

The first mile was very congested because we were all trying to run on a sidewalk, so that slowed down my overall pace. Still, I felt pretty winded at the end. I figured it would be interesting to see how my speed run went later in the week.

Tuesday, Rest

Wednesday, Ran 3 miles/8:51 pace

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Easy run: Well, my easy run ended up being faster than my tempo run. I think I ran it faster because it was shorter. Did this after work in the evening, enjoying the neighborhood Christmas lights in the process. I realized that this was the first run I had done that WASN’T a race since before the marathon.

Thursday Ran 5 miles/8:00 pace

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Speed run: I hadn’t done a speed run more than 4 miles in about a month, and I was reminded how tough speed runs are, and how little I like them. But I have no doubt that doing consistent speed runs, that progressively got faster, is what helped me PR in the marathon, so it’s a love-hate thing. I was pleased with my pace for this one considering I was feeling like my conditioning had already degraded a little since the Dallas Marathon.

After this run, we went to a local theater that was screening the 1992 movie “Batman Returns” – it’s basically a Christmas movie, right?! It was very fun, they did trivia beforehand and also showed some 1992 commercials from the marketing that was associated with the movie, like Diet Coke and toys and video games. I loved it.

Friday, Rest and travel

Headed south for Christmas!

Saturday, Ran 15 miles/10:00 pace

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Long run: It rained Saturday morning, so I got a late start, around 8:45. Thankfully the weather started to cool off after the rain was gone, about 68 degrees with a slight breeze. The humidity was still pretty bad though. I felt pretty strong for most of this run — my IT band has been have twinges lately, and it did give me a few problems during the marathon, so I need to give it more TLC over the next few weeks leading up to the Louisiana Marathon.

Sunday, Rest (Christmas Eve)

No cross-training today unless you count climbing the stairs at the Superdome to get to our seats for the Saints game. Merry Christmas!

Two races in three days

After the Dallas Marathon, I rested fully for three straight days, then participated in two local races as a way to ease my way back in to running. Next week I will begin adhering to the last four weeks of my same training plan in order to get ready for the Louisiana Marathon on January 14.

Downtown Christmas Run

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This was the third year in a row we’ve done the Downtown Christmas Run 5K, which is held in the middle of the week in the evening time — it was on a Tuesday the last two years, but this year it was on Thursday. The race offers the chance to run around downtown amid all the Christmas lights. I really enjoy it, so we’ve made a point to do it ever since we moved here.

Two years ago we didn’t register soon enough to get shirts, last year they gave us blankets instead of shirts (which was awesome), but this year, we finally got a shirt! And it’s really cute! Cotton long-sleeved with a cute design.

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Hunter and I both work downtown, so it was super easy just to bring my running clothes to work and change in the bathroom before the race. We met up and walked to the start, near the courthouse. A new feature this year was a huge inflatable Santa, under which we would run for the start and finish. I made a special playlist of solely Christmas songs to enjoy during the race.

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Since this was my first run after taking three days off post-marathon, I was planning to take it easy. My quads were also still *slightly* sore after being horribly, terribly sore the previous three days. But, once the race started, the adrenaline got pumping and I inevitably ended up running faster than planned. It was still much slower than my PR, but I finished with a chip time of 27:46, or an 8:56 pace (my Garmin differed slightly).

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Thomas LaValley Memorial Run 

This run is done in memory of a local police officer who was killed in the line of duty two  years ago. The race offered a distance of “12.84” miles, to correspond with his badge number, which was #1284. There was also a 5K distance, but when I signed up for the race last month, I chose 12 miles because I thought it would be a good way to get a longish distance in 6 days after the Dallas Marathon.

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Saturday morning was COLD, and I didn’t sleep well the night before. I was *thisclose* to skipping out on the race, because all I wanted to do was go back to sleep in my warm bed. Instead I got up, got ready, and headed out the door at 6:40 AM for a 7 AM race time. Thankfully the race was very close to my house.

It was 33 degrees, and the grass was all frosted over everywhere, which I believe is the first time I’ve seen that this fall/winter. The sun was coming up when I arrived, and it looked gorgeous.

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Me crossing the start line to the left! (Photo by Shreveport Times)

The race was very simple — no bibs, no mile markers, no chip timing, but there was a clock at the start. For the entire race, we simply ran along the running trail along the Red River. There were water bottles available every two miles, but since it was so cold, I never felt the need for one (and my hands were basically worthless even though I was wearing gloves, so I didn’t much feel like trying to open a water bottle anyway).

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I felt tired, but I still kept a better pace than I really planned or expected. I finished with a time of 2:01:53, and according to my Garmin, the distance amounted to 12.71. It would be really hard to get all the race participants to end up with exactly 12.84 considering the tangents we could all run differently, but it was close.

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Finishers of the 12-mile run got a medal. We also got a really nice sweatshirt with the race logo.