Redemption Race

Flashback: November 2016:

 

Sixteen weeks of marathon training was coming to a close on a mild autumn Thursday afternoon. The training group had one more meeting at Fleet Feet to run before our trip to the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. The mundane task of walking to the bus stop to collect my son resulted in an injury that would sideline for what was supposed to be my first marathon. I went to Indianapolis anyway and cheered on my friends. I saw from the sidelines the stocking hats finishers were getting and I said I wanted one to myself and to the Fleet Feet Bloomington owner, Julie, and pretty much anyone else who would listen. Julie told me I’d have it one day when I earned it and it would be that much more special. 

November 3, 2018: Race Day

The crowd was HUGE. My usual panic set in getting to the race start before the race actually started. After the first wave started, my friends and I discovered we were in the wrong wave and had to go underneath a divider to get into the correct one. I danced around to the music and said, “If you’re not having fun at the start, you’re not going to have fun later.” I watched my friends go forward as we separated in the group. Their goal time was over 20 minutes faster than mine and I didn’t want to sabotage my race.

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Ready to START!

I was finally in Indy to race. I was doing the half marathon instead of the full, but I was finally there. It seemed like an eternity from the time the race started to the time I finally crossed the starting line. It was about 12 minutes, in reality. I had my music ready and was excited at the prospect of finishing this race.

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Yes, 10 hours of variety. It keeps it fresh.

It was crowded, but I settled in and told myself that the first mile needed to get me warmed up and would have to be 11 minutes or slower. I warmed up and tossed my outer layer during the first mile. I was feeling so good by mile 3, I told myself that I needed to hold back just a little longer despite feeling good and start running how I felt after the first 6 miles were over.

The crowd was amazing! There were the usual “press here for power up” signs and the “worst parade ever” signs. BUT…there were people in costumes all over the place. Young Skywalker and a Storm Trooper were there. A skeleton placed in a chair held up a sign that said “Worst Caravan Ever.” A guy in a shark suit ran beside me and asked if I was his best friend’s friend until I laughed and gave him a thumbs up. A man in a Batman costume ran the race. A woman in a nun getup (a habit) ran the race. She probably beat me even in her nun shoes. There were people giving out beer. There were others giving out ghost peppers and milk. Despite not taking any, I thanked everyone that had an offering on the sidelines. The atmosphere was like a party and it helped push me through. Someone even yelled “Go Jenn Go,” as I’d had printed on my race bib.

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I took in scenery and talked to myself about how I finally got to see the streets and the sights I’d missed before. I reminded myself to take it all in and I prayed a few times for the strength to finish. I felt so good, in fact, I nearly forgot to take a gel until I was into my 5th mile. I was walking through every water stop and taking 1-2 drinks of water at each one and it was working out well for me energizing. I wasn’t taking many drinks from my hydration belt, which contained Tailwind. I’ve had a lot of luck using Tailwind in my summer runs and figured it would be a good thing to bring along to Indy. It would have been if I’d used more than 1/4 of the bottle by mile 10.

I felt amazing! Then, it hit me. I felt a little tired. My head was soaked with sweat. I was pushing as hard as I could and I couldn’t surpass a 12 minute pace. My heart rate was in the 170 range. I had to walk before I hit a water stop and I was not happy about it. I took off the Buff that was on my head and shoved it down the right side of my pant leg. I removed my gloves and shoved them down the left pant leg. I walked and drank from my water bottle. I started estimating a finish time and set a goal. Initially, I’d wanted to get a personal best at less than 2:19. Today, I would finish in less than 2 hours and 30 minutes. I picked back up and pushed myself as hard as I could.  The elite runners of the full marathon started to pass me. I clapped for them and yelled how impressive their performance was. It gave me a little recharge, but probably more because I’m competitive and my ego was achy.

Upon seeing the sign that said “Mile 25,”  I turned off my headphones and I prayed. I thanked God for helping me. I wasn’t doing a marathon that day, but I was nearing the finish line. I repeated: “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1). Then, I just silenced my thoughts and paid attention to everything there was to see. The people. The signs. The things the people said that were so beautiful and encouraging. This was a fantastic show of people being positive without even knowing all of the people they cheered for. I saw the finish and breifly looked down at my watch. A lady shouted “ON YOUR LEFT” while passing me in the 100 yards to the end. I noticed my watch reading 2:29 and seconds ticking away and I went as fast as I could to cross and beat my goal time by 11 seconds officially. Not my personal best, but still did what I wanted to. I looked at the person next to me [total stranger] and said “We did it,” with a smile as she looked back and mustered a little grin.

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I found my way past the finish and I got my medal and put it on while I tightly wrapped the Mylar blanket around my sweat soaked clothes. I mindlessly grabbed a banana (I’m a little allergic). I saw the hats. The stocking caps were being handed out and I reached out and grabbed it and thanked the people at the table while I carefully ensured it was secure in my possession.

No matter how many times someone suggested I put the hat on when I said I was cold, I declined. My hair was sweaty and this hat was special. It could only be placed on my hair after it was clean and dry. The hat was that thing I’d wanted and I’d finally earned.

My Takeaways

  • Indy was an amazing experience. I would actually spend more time there if given the opportunity. There are so many things to see and to do there, one night isn’t really enough.
  • I know better than to only take 1 gel and drink so little of my nutrition. This is likely the cause of using more effort with less speed nearing the end of the race. This still wouldn’t have led to a personal best, but probably a better time than I had gotten.
  • I chafed my under boob. I didn’t spray Tri Slide lower than the bra’s band, which I also know better. Bras start to creep down a little during long runs.
  • It was a good choice to not toss my cheap running gloves because I really needed to take them out more than once to warm my hands.
  • Mesh panels in running pants and shirts are a great idea for temps in the high 30’s and 40’s. At least for me, they were.
  • The Indy medals are set up for a 4 year series to spell the word “INDY,” and now I have the letter “I” medal in my possession…. uh oh.

Look at this race swag:

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Trip to Indy

Friday

With the race app on my phone, bags packed, errands already run, I waited for my friends to head to the Indy Monumental half marathon race. Over the summer, Jane and I planned a trip for the race where we’d stay outside of the city at a less expensive hotel and use a parking app to reserve a space ahead of race day. We found two more friends to join on the trip.

Maureen and Kristen came to my house together after Jane came solo. Maureen was our driver and I was to navigate when needed. Kristen gave each of us a paper face mask and candy in a cute paper bag. The ride to Indy was filled with conversation and laughs. We found a parking spot in a garage near the race expo convention center. A passerby was snarky about our close parking space saying we must be special. I assure you, it was not a designated space for any specific person(s) and it was simply the first space available after entry.

The expo was packed. We got our race packets and then explored. We got separated at packet pickup. I found Jane and bought race merchandise before walking around the expo. I found the Run Like a Mother table and found a new hat that I’m excited about. Here it is:

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We got in line for a photo as our meeting spot. We ran into our friend, Patrick, who recently moved to Northern Michigan and was running his first marathon in Indy. We had to get a photo with him as well.

 

 

After the expo, we set out to locate and check in to our hotel. We stopped for gas along the way and Maureen’s Subaru wouldn’t start after the fill up. Some young guys used their car to jump the car for us and we went to the Lawrence, Indiana Baymont Inn and Suites. While checking in, Jane was told that her requested room required additional cleaning from the previous guests and would not be available. As a substitute for a room with 2 queen beds: a suite with a king sized bed, a sofa sleeper, and a roll away bed. We agreed, unloaded our luggage, and went to dinner at Applebee’s. I felt like I should write in my blog that I wasn’t expecting much, but I enjoyed my food there.

We returned to the Baymont, and saw the Goodwill store across the parking lot was still open. We headed there for ‘throw away’ clothes for race morning. [Athletes wear clothes to the start that they don’t intend to wear the full duration of the race. In many races, those clothes are donated to a local charity after being collected.] I found an Adidas jacket I wanted to keep and a hooded zip front sweatshirt to use as my throw away. I had already gotten gloves for a dollar in case I didn’t need them for the whole race. I couldn’t find a jacket in my closet that I wanted to part with.

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Great Goodwill find!

At the hotel, we started getting ready for race morning. The hotel delivered a roll away bed that we had to call for help to open. When we pulled the bed from the sofa, there were black spots all over it. They weren’t moving, but it was obvious it hadn’t been cleaned from a prior use. Maureen called the front desk and they gave us another suite upstairs. Kristen and I left Jane and Maureen and went to the other room to use that bed. I’m not hip on trying this particular hotel chain again. I don’t think a sleeper sofa and roll away bed were a comparable substitute for the room we’d reserved and we were still charged the same. Lesson learned. Kristen and I again unpacked our things and organized them for race morning. I set an alarm for 5:15 am.

Saturday

I still managed to wake up before the alarm despite the time difference. Kristen had already gotten up. We got ready, packed all of our things, and headed to the hotel breakfast area. The hotel offered a continental breakfast, but I was hesitant to eat more than my usual Stinger waffle. I had yogurt cup from their offerings. We saw other people with race bibs heading out of the lobby of the hotel.

Maureen drove as I navigated to the parking garage where we had a reservation on the Spot Hero app. The parking was easy to find. There were other race people in the same garage and we had a semi warm place to hang out a little bit before going to the race.

Once out on the street, we encountered a woman who ran the Chicago Marathon in October and recommended that we try it sometime. We all chimed in that we ran it in 2017 and Kristen had also run it this year. We congratulated her then wished her luck. We stopped in at a hotel lobby to use the restroom. A hotel employee unlocked the door for us saying that they lock them to guest only use for events like the race so people don’t just wander in off the street to use theirs [ha, ha…oops].

As we brought our official [clear] gear check bags to the gear check, we stopped a few times to chat with people we knew. Like our Girl Boss friend, Lauri:

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Maureen, Jane, Me, Lauri, Kristen

Checking the bags was easy and we had a little time, so we waited inside of some doors with a bunch of other race participants to stay warm and to take some group photos with our training group from Fleet Feet. We rushed to the start at about 7:45 for the 8 am race start. The four of us were in Wave 3.

I plan to talk about the race in another post because this one is going pretty long already.

After the race, Kristen and I were in different places in line for a free massage. The line turned into a nearly 2 hour commitment. I ran into Wendy and socialized with her for the last part of the wait. I had been chatting it up with a woman from Boston I’d met waiting. When Wendy went to take our selfie, her camera was rear facing and I suggested she take the photo anyway to confuse herself later. “Who is that person I took a picture of?” We got our selfie, though.

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Wendy and Jenn sighting

The long wait for the massage meant that Jane and Maureen had lunch without Kristen and I because we told them to go ahead instead of waiting. I was distraught when I’d realized how much of a waste of time waiting had been and that I’d missed out on trying out beer at Rock Bottom Brewing. I was already emotional, so tears welled up in my eyes. Kristen and I were encouraged by Maureen to go ahead and order food to eat there instead of having our orders wrapped for take out. I had lost my appetite, so I ordered a bowl of chicken tortilla soup and a beer. Both were really good. The chicken tortilla soup was warm and spicy, so I felt a little better after eating it.

The ride home was a good kind of uneventful. We chatted about things including our experiences at the race. We all shared similar plans to bathe and relax the rest of the evening. I’m pretty sure my dogs missed me more than my children, but I was only gone a day, so I’ll accept it. The dogs wanted to lay on me, but my kids wanted to go play with friends.

 

Have you ever had a bad experience with lodging for a race? I didn’t realize that gear check was so easy. That was my first experience with it and I was happy to have some dry gear available at the finish. Now I need to decide if I want to do this race the next 3 years to complete a series in the medals…

My race story will be tomorrow. I hope you enjoyed this and read my post tomorrow, too!

Thank you!

 

Another taper

This week was nuts. I’m exhausted. I’m relieved to see training wrapping up. Running was probably the easiest part of this week for me.

Tuesday, I needed to use the day to run because my evening was packed with appointments including parent teacher conferences. Speed work was the task. I’d decided to try to be in the moment for the duration of the run. I ran a 1 mile warm up followed by repeats of 1/2 mile fast and 1/4 recovery, and a 1 mile cool down. My total distance was 5 miles. I wore my Aftershokz for music and used a route long enough that I wouldn’t need to turn back until I had completed at least 2.5 miles. It was windy, but otherwise great. I felt energized by the run and I wish I’d tracked my speed during the fast portions to see how it progressed.

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Tuesday evening, my husband and I visited my kids’ teachers. Each of them were noted to be talkers. My son’s teacher said he needed enrichment in reading and comprehension. My daughter’s said she needed a little help in penmanship and reading comprehension. I went home and found workbooks to order online to help them over the upcoming breaks for holidays. They’re not going to love it, but I’ll try to come up with some incentive to do the work.

Wednesday, my adult daughter (she’s 18), came to the house with a man and a truck to collect her things to move with “a friend and her parents.” She didn’t say hello to her siblings or bye to anyone when the truck was full and she couldn’t fit any more boxes.

Thursday, I had a morning full of appointments and skipped my run. The family minivan had the dreaded “check engine” light and the location of the problem was too deep for me to even attempt a repair on my own. I didn’t make my run up later in the day as I’d planned, either. The elementary school nurse called to tell me that my son had been to her and the school counselor because he was sad his sister had moved out and taken her things. The nurse let me know they discussed adults going out on their own, but I was a little angry with the way she’d neglected them the previous day.

By Friday, the oldest daughter was saying the house she had moved in to had been involved in a raid by law enforcement. She said that most of her day was spent with the police. She was communicating only with her dad. She was using WiFi and a messaging app because her phone bill had lapsed since she took over paying. Friday night, I was stressed enough to know I couldn’t handle the extra anxiety of being around people. Wendy messaged to ask if I wanted to meet up with her for our 8 mile run. She was willing to go 30 minutes later than my group was meeting, so I skipped my group run in favor of less people and more sleep.

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I don’t know why my face can’t take a good picture lately.

Saturday morning’s run was great. The miles flew by as we chatted. I needed to stop to use a restroom when we were only a half of a mile from finishing the run and I was so glad to see the bathroom when we arrived. I didn’t stretch when I was done. I went home and still didn’t stretch. I spent most of the day on the couch under a blanket and under my dogs. It’s Monday and my calves are still really sore. Lesson learned.

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The lesson is that dogs are freaking adorable. Wait…

Saturday night, my adult daughter posted to her Facebook that she was planning to end her own life. My response to her set off an intense argument with her. While I’d expressed concern, she implied my efforts were superficial and did her best to cut me down with insults. Since my husband and I were unsuccessful at locating her, I screen shot and re-posted photos of the entire conversation (including my comments that she deleted as soon as I posted them). She said she was at a local hospital, so I asked that anyone at a local hospital look for her and show security her comments so the correct actions could be taken. I had a lot of support despite being really nervous about posting the entire conversation.

I had also decided to tell myself that if anyone had an opinion, they could “eat it and eat it again after they shit it out.” Through these experiences with my daughter, especially over the past 3 years, I’ve started to realize that I don’t need opinions and they have no bearing on who I am as a person. It is liberating.

Sunday, we did morning church so we could bring the kids to a trunk or treat at a church one of my friends attends in a nearby town. We stopped in after church to have someone pray with us for my oldest daughter. The trunk or treat wound up being fun and the kids even thanked me for bringing them to it, so I was feeling pretty pleased.

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My son is a hot dog and my daughter a vampire. They’re fishing for prizes.

Nearing 10 pm, my oldest daughter called me from a facility asking to return to our home to stay. She stated the facility was going to release her at midnight. She hadn’t called earlier in the day because she was sleeping. I felt like a person who’s ex calls drunk in the middle of the night for a place to stay. Her words felt empty and she would insult me each time I insisted that she find other arrangements. A 45 minute long conversation ensued where she threatened to either kill herself or walk to our house and sleep on our lawn if we didn’t immediately collect her and give her food and shelter in our home. She hung up. My husband called the number that had called me and spoke to the facility, who assured us that she was not being kicked out and that she was safe. He reported to them her threats. Moments later, she called my phone and said that she would be staying there and gave me a password to speak to her and disconnected the call before I could respond. I know she’s safe. I wish I could lay out things to help people understand the place the decisions I’ve made have come from. I’m not going to, though. I’ve prayed and prayed and prayed some more. I can love someone and still refuse to help them repeat self destructive behavior. The best part is…the decision isn’t up to other people. My husband and I can do that.

So, this week, I’m just hoping to make it through my next three runs before race day. I’m hoping to have some fun with my girlfriends on our trip to Indy. I’m praying for direction and for something that will not harm the family as a whole just to help one member. I’m living one day at a time and I realize that God is in control. It helped that Sunday’s verse from Our Daily Bread was Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; acknowledge him in all your ways, and he shall make your paths straight.” This verse is printed on one of my walls and I think I get it now.

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Do you have struggles that sometimes making running feel more difficult? Have you forgotten to do something simple like stretching, hydrating, or something else that affected the way you felt days after a run? I hope you’re doing well and I can’t wait to share my race day stories with you! This will be my first Indy Monumental and I get a really cool hat at the finish [and a medal, of course].

Drop me a comment or even send me a message. I love feedback. Even the constructive criticism helps.

 

Race Day(s) in week 12

Week 12 is finally through. When I signed up for Whiskeydaddle in Peoria, I entered a challenge where I’d do a 5 k race on Saturday and a half marathon on Sunday.

Tuesday’s training run was near our local Fleet Feet for four miles. The weather was hot, but the run felt great. Four miles gave me confidence for the upcoming weekend because I managed to do well in the heat. The group I was with ran and commented on the bulk waste sitting on the curbs. We saw a couple of bowling bags, a lot of furniture, and even more luggage. It was fun to point out the little treasures we saw in the trash.

My oldest daughter was unhappy with her choice to stay with family out of state that she’d made last week. She asked to return near the end of the week and was encouraged to try to make things work out. She returned to the area over the weekend. I had spent the weekdays placing her things into boxes and rearranging things to utilize the emptied space. The finished product was my kids playroom being moved to the less visible basement from the room directly beside the entryway. I was wiped out from all of the cleaning and organizing I had done through the week.

The entire week, rain was in the entire weekend forecast. Friday morning, I set out on a 45 mile drive to packet pickup. Rain poured down the entire way there and got so heavy, I couldn’t see the tail lights in front of me and I couldn’t hear the radio over the rainfall. Once I was in Peoria, it wasn’t raining. I picked up race packets and headed back home without being rained on for the 45 miles back.

Saturday morning was the 5k race. I found friends at the start to chat with leaving my husband closer to the front since he’s much faster than me. My friend, Jess was doing her 2nd marathon on Sunday (after a 12 year marathon hiatus). I mentioned that I average 11 minutes for my first mile and that she could run with me to ensure no break neck speeds were had the day before her marathon. It was a hot and humid morning and I was sweat soaked by the end of that 3.1 miles, but I had fun and felt encouraged about the next day. It drizzled and felt cooler after we’d finished, so I put hope in the cooler feeling sticking around. I read my devotional for the day and it was titled, “Run” and included Hebrews 12 where it says “…and let us run with endurance he race that is set before us, Looking to Jesus…” I was amused at the timing of that particular message.

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Jess and I post race (with our Goodr sunglasses)

Sunday was the big 13.1 mile race I’d trained 12 weeks to run. I barely slept the night before. The weather was difficult to predict even with the forecast rain. I arrived to a fairly cool, but very humid start line. At the parking lot, I told my husband that all I could hope for was to finish the race and not cry or give up. He told me I was definitely too stubborn to give up, but to cry if I wanted. This is just how we joke with one another about running sometimes. I found friends again at the start and chatted it up. As the gun went off, most of the people I knew took off ahead faster than I allowed myself to start out. I spotted my friend, Wendy. She was running intervals and kept catching up to me on each of her runs. I decided that instead of chatting and splitting up on her walk breaks, I’d join her on the intervals. She was happy to invite me to run along, so that’s what we did. She informed me that she would be running her intervals for 10 miles and then walking the other 3 miles. Her goal race was Indianapolis Monumental, which I’m also running, and Whiskeydaddle was a training run leading up to it. Glad to have someone to chat with that was going to do 13.1 miles, I spent the rest of the race with Wendy. We did a fun photo during a walk interval.

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I hit a point where I was fighting my brain to keep going and I couldn’t think of anything except how much I wanted to just give up. Wendy kept my distracted from those thoughts and kept up the conversation even when I wasn’t actually talking much. She’d assumed I was annoyed with her, but I was just trying so hard to keep going that I just needed the talking. When we hit the 10 mile mark, we agreed to walk the remaining 5k to the end. We ran a few times when there was a downhill or just to stay loose, but the intervals were gone. My personality came back and I was able to form words and carry on a conversation more easily. We ran in the finish happily enough that the announcer said, “This is why you run with friends. Look at those smiles.” I raised my hands over my head for the finish photo and it was done. My time was over 25 minutes slower than my personal best. I made it 13.1 miles, though. That means I have a few weeks to work out the kinks before I run Indy and I could still reach for that personal record time. And Wendy will totally be there, guys. I could torture her for another 13.1 miles.

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FINISH!

I didn’t get the PR I’d hoped for when I started training 12 weeks ago. I finished, though. I had another half marathon finished and another one planned. I got the medals I’d signed up for and my training continues tonight with speed work. I’m looking forward to more training and more races. I push through the challenges in life with endurance and I run the races with endurance (even if the speed isn’t there).

The medals:

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5k was called “The Shot” and the Half Marathon was “The Bottle”

Thank you for reading! I hope you’re enjoying the fall race season and maybe even planning for the spring. I hope you can push yourself a little past your comfort zone to achieve things you want to. It is worth it each time!

 

 

 

 

Week 11 Taper starting

Last week was lively. It felt like at least 9 days instead of 7 in my opinion. I wound up missing my Thursday run by putting it off until Friday and running out of time.

Tuesday’s training group workout was hills. We typically run to a grassy hill that is popular for sledding (and hill repeats) and some distance afterward along the nearby trail. I decided not to aggravate my foot and did my hill repeats with a friend on an incline along the street near the grassy hill. It was challenging, but not painful. Success! Almost immediately after the run, the clouds poured down rain. I drove home in the pouring rain thankful that it hadn’t started before I’d completed the run.

Wednesday, I woke up in pain in my mouth.  I went to the dentist for a filling. It was awful. I didn’t say much when it felt like nothing was numb when the work began. I winced and wiggled in the chair. Once it was over, I started to feel a brief numbness. By the time I got home, it felt like my face had been struck where the guilty tooth was located. I quietly sobbed as I took two ibuprofen, iced my cheek, and took two more ibuprofen after 15 minutes of no relief. It actually let up and I was able to sleep without taking any more anti inflammatory medicine.

Thursday, I felt crummy most of the day and I was exhausted. Things were taking me longer around the house and I wound up not getting out for my run and I put it off until the next day.

Friday was more busy than I intended and I didn’t run as I’d planned. I had my first physical therapy appointment. The analysis showed that my foot was not flexing as well as it should on either side, but that the left side (where the pain is) was slightly less mobile. The therapist did iontophoresis, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation on my foot. I was sent home with 4 pages of exercises to help with my pain and scheduled 3 appointments a week for the next 2 weeks.

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My puppy ate page 1 of my workouts, guys… these 3 remain.

Friday evening, I went to a party and was able to bring my husband with me I was there to try to win a trip to Las Vegas. I didn’t win, but I had fun having a date with my husband and knowing the kids had fun while we were out. I had dropped the kids and their bikes off with a family involved in the same scout troop, so they knew them and their kids enough for it to be fun for them.

It would have been easy to skip running Saturday to sleep in and relax a little. A kind stranger had given me an extra drink ticket on Friday night and I totally drank that beer. I knew I didn’t have time to make up the run later in the weekend, so I got up and had a great 6 miles. The weather was what I consider ideal for running. The run was relatively short compared to past weeks and I felt great. That’s the beauty of a taper. Saturday afternoon had a full calendar and seeing my bed at the end of the day was a relief.

Sunday morning was an early day for church. There was a ceremony and our evening service was cancelled for that day while the other two services were moved by time in order for an 11 am ceremony. It was all part of this book we’ve all been reading as a church.

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After church, my teen was feeling cross and any attempts to reason with her were unsuccessful. I won’t go into it here, but there was a brief period where she utilized a public audience to express her dissatisfaction. Family that caught the post offered their assistance and someone took her in at their home.

And so September ended and October is here. Race day is Sunday, October 7th. My podiatrist was excited about the end of my training until I told him I have another half marathon on November 3rd. He told me to let him know if I’d rather defer my entry to next year and then nudged me off the chair*.

*That didn’t actually happen, but it probably could have because I actually forgot that deferring was a thing for big races like Indy.

How do you feel about taper week? Are you already winding down for the year or just getting started? Do you already have plans for a big goal next year? I want to do the Mo Cowbell race in Missouri next October. I’m from there, so I like to use races to go back and visit.

Have a great week! Next Monday or Tuesday should be my race recap and we’ll talk about my participation in Rachel Hollis’s Last 90 Days. Heck, maybe I’ll write about that before next week.

 

 

 

10 weeks into training

I’ve completed week 10 of training. I’m in the last weeks of training before the Whiskeydaddle half marathon. I considered bowing out or challenging myself at a shorter distance. At least I’ve been stubborn enough to stick with it even after I’ve experienced some adversity.

I went to the podiatrist about the chronic pain in my foot diagnosed as sesamoiditis. I’ve slept with a splint on my foot in a flexed position. The Dr. made modifications to my shoe inserts to take the pressure off of the area of my forefoot that was painful. I had less pain, but not total relief. Tuesday, I had a cortisone shot and was referred to have physical therapy over the next couple of weeks leading up to the race. I was impressed that he was able to get a needle from the top of my foot into the painful region on the bottom and precisely hit where the pain was centered. I was less impressed that the injection recreated the pain I had while running. Over the next couple of hours, my toes became numb. Doc told me not to run on it again until at least Wednesday.

My first run of week 10 was on Thursday. It was hot and humid outside and I set out to complete 5 or 6 miles since I’d missed 5 on Tuesday was due for 6 on Thursday. I completed 4 miles running and walked under a mile home. I felt no pain in my foot on the run. I was bummed that the weather was so gross when I finally felt no pain in my feet, but the heat was oppressive and I wasn’t going to push too hard.

Friday, was an event with Fleet Feet for “Run at Work Day.” [I don’t make these things up.] I enjoyed a 2 mile solo run followed by lunch and conversation with women who also run. Friday night was spent getting to know my neighbors while our kids ran around and played past their bed times.

Saturday morning, I’d agreed to time a race for my local running club. It was cool enough to need a jacket to stand outside. I missed my group run, but I wasn’t really ready to run 12 miles Saturday. I needed to rest and to reset. Also, I got to hold a time machine. See?

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Upper right. It says “Time Machine”

Since my usual morning long runs are Saturday, my husband gets Sunday mornings. He checked with me since I’d skipped my run, but I told him that I wasn’t enjoying running and I would make up my long run when and if I felt like it. My kids let me sleep in until almost 9am. I was feeling rested and refreshed. After his run and after a lot of back and forth with my best friend, Liz, I got dressed and set out for “whatever I could do just so I could tell her how gorgeous the weather was.” I knew it was supposed to be 12 miles for training. It is the last long run on the calendar before taper and race weekends. I drove to a local park and secretly hoped I’d make it to 13 miles with the beautiful weather. It was afternoon already. It was warm and running still felt hot. I enjoyed the first half of my run. I even made myself stop to take drinks even when I felt I was going at a good pace. Upon completing mile 10, I stopped at a fountain and messaged my Liz. She’d hurt her cornea and couldn’t run outside. She gave me crap for not wanting to run when she was missing her last long run before her half, so I muddled through the last two miles with a lot of walking and whining. The last two miles were speed walking, nearly crying, jogging, and feeling the sensation of pain again in my forefoot (which made me get a little teary eyed thinking about how the pain wasn’t actually gone). Finishing felt like I could see more clearly and had more energy walking to my car. I got my mat, walked to the trees, and did my post run exercise and stretch routine in the shade and took a selfie.

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I was actually pretty content after that long run.

I went into church with a wet head of hair barely dried from my shower, but I didn’t stink and I looked presentable. Our pastor talked about repentance.  At the end of the service, there was an offer for anyone who wanted to be baptized. They had spare clothes and towels on hand. I squeezed my husband on his hand and whispered, “I’m going to do it. I really want to.” He then asked if I was serious and walked with me to the changing area out of view of the congregation. They asked him if he was getting baptized. Without missing a beat, he said “Yes.” We changed into athletic shorts and t-shirts and were baptized before the congregation by a church elder who had recently prayed with us over our teen daughter and her recovery. I’m so happy that we did it on the same day and witnessed for one another. I’ve always been a Christian, but I haven’t always been good at staying in my faith. This year, we started going to a local church at the request of our oldest child after she’d completed rehab. While she hasn’t continued her attendance, we have committed to attending and teaching our younger two about faith and service. I’ve been examining myself and my faith and I really hope that I stick with it. I still struggle with depression at times. I’ve devoted more time to reading and praying and I have less time for being plugged in. That has helped.

Is your race coming up? Are you ready? I’ve noticed that each training session has had different challenges. This time, it has been harder to overcome the “can’t” in my head.

Enjoy your journey and share with me your thoughts!

 

Adjust and carry on

The goal is 26.2 miles on October 8th at the Chicago Marathon. Training has begun and I have a calendar using a training plan I got from the coaches involved with Team Challenge. I even plugged it in to a calendar that accommodated my plan to have my long runs on Sunday morning. I have had trouble following it because I feel like I’m not getting adequate rest between runs.

Last weekend, I needed to do 9 miles, but I wasn’t returning from an out of town wedding until late Sunday afternoon. I was able to plan a run for Monday morning, but I didn’t want to get up early, so I scheduled an 8 am meeting time with a friend. I was positive talking the heck out of that run ahead of time. I kept telling myself it was going to be the best run since my boot and that it was going to be epic. In reality, it was hard to put one foot in front of the other for almost 6 miles. The conversation and adorable woodland creatures along the trail kept me moving forward for almost 6 miles. When she and I were done running, I decided to hop in the car and head home to get sunscreen before finishing the rest of my run. I wouldn’t have finished that first bit had I been alone. The second part was rough and it was solo. The heat and humidity were bearing down. I got one cheer from a car driving down the road and that was a nice distraction. I struggled to keep moving and was running on pure desire to get home. I went home and halfheartedly stretched so I could hit the shower. Little did I know that for the entire week following that run, I’d have a painful soreness in my right calf and my hamstring would be achy.

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9 hot and humid miles

My first run after that was Wednesday. It was tough, but it was like shaking off cobwebs. My legs were loosened up for the last half of the run. I was able to focus my attention on random things like, “Hey a White Castle box,” and “We don’t even have White Castle near here.” I looked around and took in the scenery and tried not to focus on any discomfort. I felt pretty good finishing up and I actually did my hip strengthening and stretching afterward. The soreness continued, so my next run was replaced with a session of runner’s yoga.

Saturday was my long run day this weekend due to social plans. I’d planned everything out ahead of time. I was going to ditch the camel bak hydration backpack I’d used in previous weeks and go back to the Amphipod brand hydration belt. I filled one bottle with my BCAA powder mixed with water and the other with just filtered water. I put a protein shake in a lunchbox cooler. I planned to meet the Saturday group at 6:30 am. I’d lost my Garmin watch and found it after a frantic search through my belongings. It was on the passenger seat of my minivan face down and the same color as the interior. My frozen water bottle was completely thawed, so my buffer from the heat wasn’t going to be there. I shook it all off, showed up at the meeting place at 6:45 with nobody else there, and I did a little arguing with my brain to take off on the run. My watch went off a few times for the 5 minute run, 1 minute walk intervals. I ignored the first 2, then I started walking quickly the 3rd time it went off. I wasn’t dropping too far below a 13 minute per mile pace with the walk breaks, so I just kept doing the intervals. I reserved water and gel breaks for walking intervals and it worked out well for mentally preparing. I passed people I knew periodically on the trail and felt encouraged to keep going. It was the epic run I’d wanted the previous week. Then, toward the end, my stomach. It was revolting. I didn’t #2 before leaving for my run. I was about 1/2 mile in either direction from a bathroom and both were portable bathrooms (porta potties). I opted for the direction of my car and ran/walked my way back trying to ensure that no accidents would happen to me. I was a tenth of a mile from the big 10. I had to go, though. I ran to the bathroom, went in, paused my watch, and used the porta potty. I made up the last .05 running from the bathroom box to my car to get hand sanitizer and get my yoga mat. I felt energized instead of exhausted.

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I will run for beer, guys….lol

I made the decision after running that if I was going to have good long runs,  I was going to need to adjust the plan. I read some articles in running magazines and websites about training and found that it is not unusual to have as few as 3 runs per week in training for a marathon (assuming other cardio and resistance is included in most other days). I invited myself to join some running buddies on their swim days and they welcomed me. Tomorrow, weather permitting, I’ll be joining my friends in the morning to swim. Wednesday and Thursday, I’ll run. Friday, I’ll get on the elliptical or have a instructor led cardio workout in addition to resistance. Saturday remains rest day so I can long run Sunday morning. Today, I did a resistance workout midday and realized that it has been too long since I’ve done my planks or burpees. Running can suffer from not keeping up strength in all areas. I’m changing my plan to prevent burnout and to prevent injury. I want to do this marathon. I wasn’t balancing my whole body fitness properly and it was affecting my running. Now we’re going to see how well this change of plan works and adjust as needed. I’m happy I can do that.

Also, I am fundraising for Crohn’s and Colitis through Team Challenge. I have 90 days until the marathon and I’d like to raise $2k by then. So far, I’m a little over $900. Consider helping? Thanks!  My Personal Fundraising Page

Just struggling…

My last blog post, I was feeling pretty down on myself. Low self esteem and body image will do that to a person. Major depressive disorder likes to rear its ugly head when it feels like being a jerk and I have very little control over when I’ll have a huge down swing despite the meds and exercise that keep it at a minimum. I didn’t suddenly start loving my body or feeling better about it. I’m actually still in the stupid down swing where I’m critiquing my existence and my impact. I just wanted to pass along some tidbits I’ve picked up since I’ve been trying to come back from having the cast and boot off of my ankle from the tearing and spraining I did 2 days before I planned to run my first marathon last November.

Yes, I find myself questioning my decision to sign up for another marathon after not completing the one I’d trained for last year. Of course I would feel ambivalent about it. I’m running much slower than I was this time last year and I feel like any distance takes me an eternity to complete.  I actually have the ability to run a mile in just under 11 minutes. I simply don’t have the endurance to sustain that speed for over a mile. I ran a 4 mile race this past weekend. I’d signed up to run the 15k (9.3 miles) race and asked to be moved down from the longer distance upon realizing I wasn’t in 9 mile shape.  I met up with people from Fleet Feet Bloomington to take a group pic before the race. One of the people in the group was Nikki, who I had run with a few times in the past. She started the race with me and I was starting to feel worn out and told her to just go ahead if she was feeling energetic. She assured me she wasn’t there to run fast, and we finished the first mile in under 11 minutes. We walked a little because that first mile was exhausting. The rest of the race went on in an erratic walk/run cycle. We picked up Barb (from our group) near mile 3, who had recently felt the sting of injury and needed some walking time as well. We went on to walk and run until the last half mile.  The three of us finished the end of the race running. My split times were crazy. Mile 1 was just under 11 minutes, mile 2 was over 12, mile 3 was 14 minutes, and mile four was 12 again. I somehow averaged in the 12 minute range, so that was impressive for my comeback race. I don’t think that I’d have started running again if Nikki wasn’t there to encourage me and ask if I was ready to pick up again after walking. So, that’s a testament to how I can really count on my running “family” to support and encourage me through this crappy time where I have no idea why I started running in the first place.

Sunday, I got up at 5 am. Some folks may think of 5 am and shrug. I think that’s the crack of dawn and there is very little that could convince me otherwise. I like staying up late reading, so waking early isn’t my jam. Anyway, I met up with a local marathon training group for the first time at a a park all the way on the north side of my town (I live pretty far south along the main strip). One person I’d met before was there. Denise has been running at least 1 mile every day for a few years now. She just needed to get her mile in, but she started out with me because I didn’t really have anyone my pace there to run my 6-7 miles with. The training plan dictated 7, but I accepted that I’d be happy with 6 if I made it. Anyway, Denise ran with me and I notified her when 1/2 mile passed and she said she’d go a little bit further. She ran the first mile with me before turning back. That mile averaged 14 minutes, and it settled me in for the rest of the run and helped me finish all 7 miles. Without starting out with someone, I probably would have set out to ‘just get it over with’ and blown all of my energy. I didn’t do that this time and I caught up to my training plan distance.

I’ve received a lot of encouraging words and offers for people to help me get back to running. I have tried new things to make it easier. I think running insoles have a little to do with having a good distance weekend. I am still hard on my body for being so much more round and heavy than before my injury. In a way, I wish I’d given myself time to work up to training for a marathon again. Most of it is nerves and self doubt which are purely mentality issues and not whether I’m physically able. I trust that with training, I’ll get there. I feel like it’s difficult to complete each run and that I don’t remember it being quite as hard to push through in the past.

Most people ask me how my ankle feels. The truth is, my ankle is fine. No pain with running [during or after]. My endurance could use some work. My attitude could use an adjustment. I could use a shot of self esteem. I’m getting there. My injury is gone. I’m just trying to make a comeback and I somehow forgot to exercise that toughness that I had in me when I started running distances. There aren’t really any foot holds on this incline and I’m trying to claw my way back up. It’s freaking hard. That’s all. I’m struggling. I’m not quitting. Screw that. I literally don’t know how to quit. Even when I joke that it looks like me laying down and waiting for the struggle bus to run me over….I doubt I’d even take a knee to try to lie down. My depression is truly a jerk sometimes, but I’m not going to let it get the best of me.

Thanks for reading! Marathon is October 8th. This will be my first. I’m fundraising for Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation because my teen has Crohn’s. If you want to throw a few bucks at the cause, just go to my link. Click here

Here’s a pic of my ‘fluffy self’ finishing the 4 mile race:

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I was exhausted, but look at that hint of a smile at what I achieved. (Thanks for the photo Steamboat Classic)

Usually, I’m patient

I’m a patient person. I typically just wait in line and amuse myself while not really behaving like my plans for the day somehow are more important than those around me. I was aware that my ankle injury would require starting over. I just thought that I’d be starting over at a slightly less quick pace. I didn’t think about how much it would hurt my body to push myself. I didn’t know that not using my foot would cause swelling in other areas like the plantar fascia and the Achilles tendon once I got out of the boot and back to using it normally.

I mapped out my 20 week training plan for the marathon. Yesterday was 3 miles run/walk. I decided to try to do it by how I felt. So, I was walking within 1/4 mile. I ran less than I walked. 1 mile in, the bottoms of my feet felt like they were bruised and tender. My left calf was tight. The wind was whipping into my face and I started trying to run again after a break at a water fountain. I made it less than .1 mile before I realized I was not going to run through any pain. I turned around and headed home with a few spurts of a slow run to test the feeling in my feet. While the pain wasn’t only on the hurt side, I didn’t want to chance it. I went 1.5 mile by the time I got home.

I was disappointed. I was angry. I felt defeated. I couldn’t finish even 2 miles of a 3 mile run. How am I supposed to run a marathon? First of all, I’m supposed to train for a marathon, not worry about running 26.2 miles this week. Next, I didn’t run 3 miles when I started out a few years ago. I couldn’t do 60 jumps in therapy a couple weeks ago. Now, I can do it. I couldn’t do 60 calf raises in therapy without pause. Now I can do it. We get stronger through persisting. We get stronger by trying. I will get there. I will rest today and I will go back out tomorrow if I feel rested enough and I will see how far I can take these legs. I won’t push through pain. I’ll push through being tired and I’ll look away from ‘can’t’.

I am not always feeling the most optimistic. Nobody is always going to be. You could say “fake it ’til you make it,” but I’d rather just say that you should believe in the best possible outcome and be prepared for it to not work out that way without a few tries. Giving up is the true failure, though. I’m going to keep my head up. I’m going to try again. Maybe I’ll be able to run a full 5k by the time my race comes around at the end of June. I have a one mile race on Memorial Day to worry about. One race at a time. One goal at a time. I can run a mile. Now I want to run 2. We’ll worry about the 26.2 as it comes along.

Thanks for reading!

If you want to know how my fundraising is going or you want to give, Click Here!

I made a new collage pic for it to make the Facebook page more attractive. My friend donated her time to help me with my profile pic that I absolutely love. I used it as the background for this collage.

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Racing season begins (for me)

What an incredible week in running it has been for me. The rain held off most days. I switched my long run to Thursday so I wouldn’t have to run 11 miles while my friend was visiting me. I did my speed work on Tuesday without the group because I was on kid duty solo that night for my husband to do some networking.

Tuesday’s weather was warm and windy. I suppose the wind resistance helped with the speed work intervals I was shooting for. It did shorten the intervals, though. I found myself walking in between instead of jogging because I really needed to catch my breath. Otherwise, it was fun and I’m glad I got out and did my least favorite type of running workout. That would be the fartlek, which I’ve been told is Sweedish for “speed play” by my coaches. I use objects to do the work. Typically, the objects are trees or poles along the trail or walkway that I’m using for my workout. While it is fun, the work is tough and it gets harder as it goes on to burst into as fast of a sprint for as long of a period of time. I’m usually jogging pretty slowly for my cool down after this type of running practice because I’ve exerted a lot of energy. There just has to be a least favorite and this one happens to be what I choose.

Thursday was cool and there was drizzle from time to time. It was better than the constant rain in the forecast, though. I set out on the trail to run 11 miles despite only having used that section of trail for 10 miles at the most before this run. When I pulled past the point that was the farthest I’d been on the trail before, I was a little skeptical. The buildings were industrial. The signs just inside of the chain link on either side displayed “HARD HAT AREA” and there were bulldozers and things of the like hard at work inside. There were a lot of hills in the area. When I got to one particular spot, the trail seemed to end and point to landmarks I recognized the names of, but couldn’t place the exact location they would be if I were driving. I turned back at 5.25 miles and promised to make up the rest of the mileage when I got back near where I’d parked. I made it back and ran around a lake checking my watch hoping it would just be over with soon. When I got back to my parking space, I put the seats down in my van and closed the hatch so I could warm up while I did my post run stretch and snack. Oddly enough, I felt like I could run more after I got my hands back warm and dried off my top layer of clothes from the drizzle. Still, I had done what I set out to do. I went home and went on about my day with a pride that I had done those miles by myself and did them all despite a lot of talking to myself, singing to myself, and whining to myself about why I was doing that in the first place. I had headphones in, so people may have thought I was just on the phone….or crazy. I don’t know. Though, I know other runners who do the same, so I guess it isn’t totally weird.

As it turned out, the 5.25 mile mark was pretty close to places I regularly pass in my car. I looked on a map and I was so close and likely would have known where I was had I followed the sign to a local park. I still made the mileage, which I’m glad. I was just anxious about being somewhere I didn’t know. I think I’ll plan my route better next time I set out for a solo long run, so I can be more at ease about it. I had my GPS on to where my husband could log in and check on me, but it was more about the feeling of being lost than the feeling of being unsafe.

Friday night, my best friend drove from around 200 miles away to visit for the weekend to race with me on Sunday. It has been more than a year since her last visit, so I was excited to get to see her and introduce her to all of my new running friends. I brought her with me to training on Saturday morning, where my 10k training group got to run on the course where we’ll be running the race on “Easter Saturday”. The course was mainly rural. There were horses, cows, chickens, and fields. There was a hill to conquer. There wasn’t a lot to look at sometimes and we’d started wondering where we were on the trail and how much further we’d need to run. I think the attitude changed where we turned around because we knew we were on our way back. I am excited to run the race with the group in a little over a week. They’ve all been working so hard. Running 6.2 miles is rough. Some people stop at learning a 5k  (3.1 miles), but this group is doubling down. Awesome!

Sunday, it was dreary and rainy. The race was at 1pm,so my friend and I had donuts for breakfast and a protein bar about an hour before the race to hold our appetites until lunch. We drove around awhile looking for a place to park near the race venue. I considered going home and asking my husband to drop us off to make it easier. We hopped out of the car and speed walked to where I was supposed to meet a group to take a pre-race photo of our matching green shirts. See, this was the St. Patrick’s Day run. I bought my friend and I fabulous leprechaun tights and green Fleet Feet shirts so we’d match enough to find each other in a crowd and because it’s more fun to look ridiculous with someone else than alone. We got a lot of compliments on our crazy pants.

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Fancy Pants Besties!

We stepped up to the start and picked our spot toward the middle. The rain picked up from a drizzle. A cannon or something went off to start the race, which was alarming. I started my watch and set off. We were getting passed on all sides despite choosing what I considered a fairly modest place in the crowd at the start. We passed the first mile and the person announced to me “9 minutes even.” I looked down at my watch and he was right. I was shocked. My friend had headphones on, so I kept telling myself that I only had to do that a couple more times and I’d hit my goal of a sub 30 minute 5k. When I hit mile 2, we were still holding close to 9 minutes per mile. I was convinced I couldn’t hold my speed any longer and that I’d still beat 30 minutes if I slowed down by a full minute. I realized that I didn’t need to slow down, though. I was fine. I was huffing and puffing, but this was a race and that is the time to let myself huff and puff and push hard. So, I told another friend that I run with that I was looking for encouragement and he said the people he was running with had the same goal as me. I stuck with them. I hung on and tried not to let them pass us. We turned the last corner and the finish looked pretty far off, but I had a sense of relief anyway. I pushed hard and the people I was trying to stay ahead of pushed past me. I hit my gas and realized that I was already at full trot and just lifted my head and hoped I’d see the race timer soon. Then, I saw it. It said….28 minutes and something. Wait. I might actually do this? I rolled back my shoulders and I pushed past the finish just as it turned to 29 minutes and I crossed the finish line 1 minute and 18 seconds faster than I have at any race before that day. I finished right next to my best friend and I beat my best race time. I didn’t beat the guys my friend was running with; They got me by about 8 seconds. Still, I don’t know if I could’ve gotten my time had I not chosen them as who I was going to run with and “beat”.

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I printed it…and put it above my bib display. I’m proud!

I was cold and pretty rain soaked. The race involved a lot of dodging puddles and potholes. There was a constant battle inside of my head about whether I could hold my pace or I needed to stop. My stomach burned. My legs screamed for me to slow down. My shoulders tightened. I had to shake those things off and keep going. I did it this time. I didn’t stop or slow down to let my mind take over the battle. I muted it long enough to finish the race.

The post race beer was delicious. I couldn’t wait to tell everyone that I’d gotten a new personal record. I didn’t place in the race. I beat myself. I conquered that nagging in my head that tried to talk me out of being my best and I did it.  I also met my race season goal in my first race, so I guess I’ll try to beat 2 hours and 17 minutes at my half marathon at the start of April. Honestly, I’ll be happy just crossing the finish of another half marathon.

Do you have a race season goal? Have you signed up for any races yet? There are many great ones to choose from!