My Winter Half Marathon(s) Game Plan

Yesterday I mentioned that I’ve officially started my “I am Going to Get a Huge Half Marathon PR This Winter” training cycle. Whoooooo! Nothing like turning up the pressure!

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’ve got one half marathon per month scheduled for the next few months which means I have plenty of opportunities to knock out a great race!

November – Fort Lauderdale Half

December – Palm Beaches Half

January – Miami Half (<— the targeted PR race)

February – Fort Lauderdale Half #2 (Maybe)

March – Miami Beach Half (Maybe) or Sarasota Half (Maybe)

I was originally targeting Palm Beaches as my big PR race, but after some additional consideration I decided to push it back to the Miami Half in January.

Why? I just want to give myself the proper time to really ramp up and feel confident going into the goal race.

GOALS:

When I ran my second half in February of this year it was only my second time EVER running 13+ miles.

I’ve logged just a few more 13+ mile runs since then : ).

Now that I feel comfortable with the distance, I’m ready to train for finishing in a specific time. This adds a whole new dimension to my running that I’m really excited about!

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Over the last few months I’ve been insanely inspired by so many other running bloggers training to reach specific goal times and I’m excited to join that club.

I want to run 2:45 at some point (and then 2:30 and then 2:15 and then …), but I’ll be really happy to hit 2:59 (13:39/mile) during one of the races on my list above.

My fastest half ever is 3:04 which happened during a marathon training run not that long ago. My official half marathon PR is 3:24 from back in February.

It’s pretty exciting to see such a big difference from just eight months ago!

I may be slow, but I’m making progress! Some days it doesn’t feel like it, but it’s happening!

So, based on my training run, I need to find a way to shave off 5 minutes from my overall time. It seems doable on the right day with fresh legs.

I’m glad I’m signed up for multiple races though, I feel like that takes some of the pressure off to execute a perfect race on any specific day.

GETTING STARTED:

Last night was my training kick-off run. It was just an easy 3-miler to work my way back into training, so it was pretty uneventful.

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It rained lightly during the first mile and that made me feel pretty badass for a few minutes!

Then it got really muggy and I felt considerably less badass and considerably more hot for the rest of the run. Oh well!

Temp was in the mid-80s! Boooooo, high 60′s please come back!

What is your proudest running accomplishment so far? 

A Relaxing Weekend Leading into the Kickoff of My Next Training Cycle (Starting TODAY)!

I woke up SUPER early (4:30am) on Saturday to take advantage of the cooler temps we’re seeing here in South Florida during the pre-sunrise hours!

Unfortunately about a mile in I went to jump over a little puddle and pulled my hamstring. It was feeling pretty tight but not painful so I debated with myself for a little bit about whether I should cut the run short or not. In the end I decided to walk home.

When I got home I showered and climbed back into bed for a couple more hours (ahhh that felt good). Later in the morning I took care of business stretching and rolling. IMG_0485

Cecil gave me some pointers and then we read through Kim’s blog and Meg’s blog for some additional non-running workout ideas!

IMG_0482Afterwards Adam and I walked to the beach for lunch!

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The beach was pretty packed for a day in the middle of October, but the weather is still really warm here in the afternoons.

IMG_0474I hope it cools down a bit soon! Not just because it makes running easier, but also because I love bringing a book and a blanket to the beach when it’s deserted for an afternoon of reading in solitude.

Plus I want to start drinking hot chocolate!!!!

Sunday was filled with football, football and more football as usual! I wouldn’t have it any other way!

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Today marks Day 1 of my “I am Going to Get a Big Half Marathon PR This Winter” training cycle!

I feel pretty comfortable saying this because I would have achieved a 12 minute half marathon PR if I had stopped at the halfway point at the Portland Marathon! 

After a month of inconsistent running due to vacation, tapering and marathon recovery, I am SO looking forward to getting back into the routine of running six days a week! I love routines!

Congrats to everyone who raced this weekend! I love that fall is here and my Instagram feed is full of smiling faces and shiny new race medals!

How did your (long) run or race go this weekend?!

What is your favorite fall dessert? I’m in a baking mood! : )

What’s On My Mind: 5 Things FRIDAY!

We’ve made it to Friday! Whoo!

Heading into the weekend I’ve got a few things on my mind…

1. I need to figure out how to run even splits.

AM / PM
MILES
PACE
TEMP.
HUMIDITY
7pm3.113:2184* 45%

Last night my goal was to run 13:30 even splits. I ended up with one 13:50 mile (oops too slow), one 12:43 mile (oops too fast) and one 13:36 mile (almost!).

I know proper pacing will only help me achieve a PR in my upcoming half marathon(s) so it’s something I have to nail down sooner rather than later.

I’m going to try really hard during my medium/long run this weekend. I’ll report back on Monday!

2. Cecil is the most curious cat. 

He’s always all up in my business…. but I like it that way!

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When I get home from a run all sweaty and gross he loves to come and sit in my lap.

I’ve decided either he loves me a lot and doesn’t care that I’m gross OR he thinks he’s going to get treats for dealing with me being gross…

Probably the latter. He’s very food motivated.

3. I need to get a new bib / medal holder.

I bought a bib holder after my first 5K last year and have been loading it up with every piece of race memorabilia ever. I really need to upgrade to a bigger holder!

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I think I am going to buy this one to transfer my medals to:

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4. My Western Red Cedar is growing!

My little red cedar from the Portland Marathon is now almost 6 inches tall!

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This type of tree can grow up to 230 feet tall and 13 feet in diameter!

I guess I’m going to need to buy a really big house at some point in the future.

5. It’s Almost Halloween! 

I met Adam TEN YEARS ago on Halloween! I can hardly believe it was that long ago!

I still need to figure out the perfect 10 year anniversary gift for next month.

I think if I could somehow get him a Dolphins win in Chicago this weekend it would be much appreciated. The end to last week’s game against the Pack was really disappointing!

Fingers crossed for Sunday!

Any tips for getting better at running even splits?  

KICK ASS at your 10K this weekend Meg! I would say good luck getting that PR, but you don’t need luck! 

What is Your 5 Year Running Goal?

Yesterday I read an article on iRunFar called, “Qualities of a Skilled Ultramarathon Coach.” It’s a good read because it’s not just an outline of qualities that make a good coach, but also points out things that runners need to know about themselves in order to reach their goals (whether they have a coach or not).

It prompted me to ask myself:

  • Where are you now?
  • Where do you want to be in five years?
  • What are you running from and what are you running towards?

Where Are You Now & Where Do You Want to Be in 5 Years?

The article says, “a skilled coach will prioritize long-term goals, always keeping the end in mind.”

The writer includes a quote from Sean Harnett his collegiate coach who says, “I coach based on what my athletes will think of me five years after they’ve graduated.”

Whether you have a coach or are a coach, I think this is a good rule to follow.

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Five years from now I want to be running ultramarathons.

In five years if I can run a 29 minute 5K but I can’t finish a 50-miler I’ll know I wasn’t focused enough on my long-term goals!

What Are You Running From? What Are You Running Towards?

The article talks about a runner’s need to understand what he or she is running from and running towards.

“Running in general – and ultrarunning in particular – draws people in search of healing. Often we run from previous addiction, abuse or poor health, or run toward strength, self-worth, community and affirmation.”

It goes on to say a skilled coach must know how running fulfills these aspects of a runner’s life — but really, in my opinion it’s the athlete who must know how running fulfills these aspects of their own life. I’m not sure that’s really the coach’s responsibility.

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Most long term readers know of my history battling with an eating disorder, and I most definitely find running to be therapeutic.

I’m not saying I use running in place of professional help because that would be wrong, but I definitely identify with other athletes who are running away from previous demons and running toward health, strength and affirmation.

Here are some things I have been running toward:

-A me who isn’t afraid of embracing her running aspirations despite others perhaps thinking that she doesn’t fit the mold of an athlete.

-A me who BELIEVES that I can meet the running challenges I set forth for myself.

-A me who isn’t devastated or completely embarrassed by athletic failures, but rather understands that people of all athletic abilities have bad days.

-A me who feels confident being alone without a million distractions.

-Happiness, health, enjoyment of the outdoors.

-Being part of a positive community of people.

Most of the items in the list are things I am still working on, but I am making progress!

When I first starting doing Couch to 5K I was too embarrassed to tell anyone (other than Adam) because I thought they would laugh at me. I was even too embarassed to run outside because I thought all the other runners would make fun of me. Instead I just used the treadmill during the hours I knew the gym would be empty. Now I tell everyone I meet that I’m a runner!

Although, most people still don’t know that I have a running blog that I overshare in each day! :) Maybe someday I’ll tell them!

What is YOUR 5-year running goal? Do you prefer to set short-term goals? Do you prefer to just run for the enjoyment and not set any goals at all?

Hulk Smash!

Hola! Happy Wednesday!

This week I am continuing to run by feel. When I set out last night I didn’t have a specific pace or distance in mind – I just wanted to run between 2 and 5 miles. I ended up doing a 5K loop down to the beach and back.

AM / PM
MILES
PACE
TEMPERATURE
HUMIDITY
7pm3.113:0984* (feels like 92)75%

(^ Yes I am jealous of everyone else in the world talking about their beautiful 60 degree fall runs!)

Although I’m not yet in half marathon training mode, there are a few things I am already starting to do differently in preparation to UNLEASH THE BEAST!

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(source)

Just kidding!

But there are a few modifications I want to make to my routine to help me become a stronger runner this winter. First I am taking a leaf out of Cheryl’s book and I am going to incorporate a cool down walk into all of my runs.

I don’t know about you, but normally I run right up to my front door, rush in the house for a quick stretch and then move on to the 500 other things I need to do. I never really reflect on my run until hours later when I sit down to write my blog post.

By incorporating a cool down walk I can check in and see if any body parts need a little extra rolling/stretching TLC and I can think about what went well/poorly during the run.

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I’m also going to start posting my Garmin selfies. Not because I think they are super interesting, BUT I do think the extra accountability will be good for me.

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If I don’t post a Garmin pic you can now assume that I either didn’t hit my distance and/or pace goal for the day and call me out on it!

Although I’ve only done two runs so far since Portland on October 5th, I have been really happy with how quickly I’ve recovered from the marathon. I wasn’t really sure what to expect… especially after my incredibly stupid decision to take the red eye home.

When I initially stepped off the plane and started walking up the ramp to the airport I actually broke down into tears. I could barely bend my SUPER STIFF legs to make them move. At that point I thought it might be weeks before I could run again!

It’s actually pretty amazing how fast the body goes to work repairing itself!

…. and how quickly the mind forgets all the uncomfortable things that happened and is like “let’s run another marathon again soon!”

I think I just have marathon fever after reading all of the exciting Chicago recaps! If you haven’t yet, go check out Lauren’s recap — she ran a personal best of 3:06!!!!! 

Do you use any running networks like Strava or Garmin Connect to share your stats with your friends?

Paris Day 2: My Favorites from The Louvre!

I can hardly believe it’s already been half a month since Adam and I were in Paris and London! Today I am really excited to share my favorite pieces from the Louvre.

The afternoon we spent in the museum was the highlight of the entire trip for both Adam and I. We roamed the halls for about five hours before they kicked us out for a private event. I’d love to go back some day!

Here are some of my favorites….

Statue of Nike

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Venus de Milo, Helenistic era (330-30 BC)

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Standing on the head of Medusa

The face of Medusa is actually HORRIFIC. I have a close up of it if anyone is dying to see… it’ll give you nightmares!

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Mars et Venus.

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Gorgeous, amazing, breath taking ceilings.

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A Ninja Turtle you might know…

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Crown of Louis XV and Charlemagne.

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Charlemagne’s sword.

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Inside the Ancient Egyptian Exhibit.

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Surviving animal mummies.

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Cat mummy.

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We saw many statues of Bastet (the cat goddess), but they were all behind class enclosures so I don’t have any good pictures. Cecil was disappointed that I didn’t get any good ones.

Notably missing from this post is the Mona Lisa which we did make a point to go and see. I was surprised with how small she is! I took a picture but she is also behind a class case and you can’t get very close, so it’s not a very good picture. Very glad we got to see it in person though!

I took so many pictures at The Louvre and have so many favorites I could easily add 100 pictures to this post, but I’ll stop here … for now : ).

I hope you have a great day!

If you missed it you can read about Day 1 in Paris here.

I’ll be back to running posts tomorrow!

Have you ever been to The Louvre? What is your favorite museum? Any cool museums local to you? 

- I love science museums!

I’ve Got a Funny Story to Tell You!

Last week I got lost in all my feelings about finishing the Portland Marathon that I completely forgot to tell you the most interesting story to come out of the weekend!

On Saturday evening Adam and I went down to the concierge at our hotel in Portland to ask where we could get the best burrito bowl (extra rice, no beans for me!).  What I got was SO much more than I was expecting. You’re not going to believe this (the story has nothing to do with the food)!

The concierge directed us to a little hole in the wall place called Santeria that had seriously delicious burritos.

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After drinking lots of water to hydrate for the next day, I had to use the restroom. The waitress directed me to a little door in the back. She didn’t even smirk or smile… she just let me walk right on through the door into a STRIP CLUB!

The restaurant shares a bathroom with a legit strip club!

When I walked through the door I saw exactly what you think I saw O_O!

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Oh Portland, there are just so many reasons I won’t ever forget you. My first marathon and my first time in a strip club being on top of the list!

When I got back to the table and told Adam he said he suddenly needed to use the restroom. Ha-ha. He respectfully waited until we got back to the hotel : ).

This Saturday I went for my first post-marathon run! Just a short 2-miler to get the pins moving again after almost six days off from running.

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It was nice to be back on the home course!

I’m really looking forward to running the Fort Lauderdale half marathon again next month. It’s always nice when you get to run on a course you’re super familiar with.

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Sunday morning Cecil and I got up early so we could watch a live stream of the Chicago Marathon!

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I love that Rita Jeptoo called herself the Queen of Chicago! She looks so powerful when running, I totally bow down to the queen!

Congrats to everyone who marathon’d this weekend! I can’t wait to start reading your re-caps!

How was your weekend run/race?  

Finding Increased Running Motivation & Inspiration After Portland

Happy Saturday! I’m usually absent from the blog during the weekend, but since I don’t have a long run planned for today for the first time in forever I thought I would post since I have all this free time on my hands!

I know I promised no more marathon talk for a little while, but as it turns out I CAN’T STOP TALKING ABOUT IT!

Since learning that the total elevation gain in Portland was almost 750 feet I started wondering what the elevation profiles are for other popular marathons – luckily I found this chart on Boston.com!

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(Doesn’t this make you want to run the London Marathon?!)

The day of the Portland Marathon and the first couple of days following it I thought of the elevation gain in PDX as a negative because it slowed me down and hurt quite a bit. But now I am thinking of it as a positive! This Florida girl hung in there!

Leading up to the race my coach wrote the words “surprise yourself” in my training log next to the words “Portland Marathon.”

If I had run a flatter course here in Florida I may have met my time goals but I don’t think I would have surprised myself – I think I would have done just enough to reach my easiest goal. Knowing I made it through 700+ feet of elevation gain really surprises me and is becoming a strong source of personal inspiration.

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I think we can be highly motivated and inspired by outside sources, but inner motivation is what really drives us to excel in the midst of a race.

We can watch all the inspiring running documentaries we want, pin 500 motivational pictures on Pinterest, read ALL the running blogs in the world, but on race day we have to dig deep inside of ourselves to really push forward. 

This ability to dig deep is something I have lacked since I started running in 2012. More often than not I have felt disappointed after a race and have no one to blame but myself.

I think I found my ability to dig deep in Portland.

Immediately following the race I thought I had mostly failed myself again, but seeing the elevation gain for the marathon has surprised me in a good way. I am now proud of myself for accomplishing something that, had I known what to expect, would have intimidated me too much to even try.

I really feel like the entire Portland Marathon experience has helped me to locate the inner motivation and confidence I couldn’t find in all of my prior races.

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These feelings were too raw and new to really help me in Portland, but I think they will really help when I take on my next three half marathons during the Florida Storm Series this winter. 

The only way to know for sure is to hit the starting line again  - which I am beyond excited to do!

How did you find the inner motivation that allows you to dig deep and perform your best on race day? Was it always there, or did you have an a-ha moment like me?

First Post-Marathon Workout + Other Odds and Ends

Happy Friday!

I can’t wait to cheer on everyone running Chicago this weekend - including my coach who is aiming to pace her friend to a 3:20 BQ and my friend Cori who will be gunning for a 3:35 finish! Running that fast must feel like flying!

To think this time last week I was getting ready to fly out to Portland and now I’ve been a marathoner for almost a full week!

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Last night I did my first post-marathon workout. My legs are already starting to itch for a run, but I’m taking a full week off. Next week I’ll ease back into running with a couple of short, easy runs done completely by feel.

Yesterday I ended up going down to the gym and doing a few moderate intervals on the elliptical and a couple of miles on the stationary bike followed by some serious stretching.

Earlier in the day Cecil was all, “mom, stop complaining about being sore, just stretch your legs like this.” The move really helped loosen up my calves, thanks cat!

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I will ask Cecil to put together a full stretching tutorial video to help everyone out after their big fall races.

Speaking of which, while I was at dinner with my girlfriends on Tuesday night Adam potted the tree seedling I got for finishing the Portland Marathon. This is the text he sent to let me know it was potted!

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I love my finisher’s medal, but this tree seedling really is the BEST thing I could ever imagine getting from a race. We’ve been looking up tips on how to really help the little three thrive and grow here in Florida.

Speaking of things that came to Florida from up north, yesterday I sported my LeBron James shirt for the first time since “the departure.” You know why? Because marathoners don’t have time to be sad/mad that LeBron left! ; )

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Marathoners think it’s fine that King James went back to Cleveland and wish him the best — but still hope to crush him in the game on Christmas Day.

You betcha I’ll be watching the preseason Heat vs Cavs game on Saturday. I know pre-season games don’t mean anything, but it’s still must see TV for this Heat fan!

What are your Saturday plans? Anyone going to a football game this weekend? 

My Post-Marathon Plans

How do you know a run blogger ran a marathon? She’ll post about it every single day for a year and put a giant sticker on her car : ) I promise this is my last marathon related post for a little while!

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I finally got around to syncing my Garmin last night and found that the total elevation gain in Portland was over 700 feet!!!!!!

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I am sure that is nothing to many of you who live in hilly or mountainous areas but I am used to an elevation gain of approximately 0. (Ali knows what I’m talking about!)

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The Runner’s World course description of “mostly flat” was a bit off for me, but there’s nothing like a little extra challenge during your first marathon, right? Now that the race is over I can look back on it and laugh! : )

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(Source: Heather @ Girl Goes Running)

In hindsight I should have realized that there is no flat course in the Pacific Northwest. I guess I just romanticized the idea of running in Portland once I read about the race and completely ignored common sense! Oh well!

When I first crossed the finish line Adam made sure I was comfortable and told me jokes to distract me from my sore legs. He did and said all the right things which included not sugar coating what had happened out there on the course since we both knew I had not met my expectations.

While we were still sitting yards from the finish line, Adam told me he was proud of me for finishing but asked what I would do next to improve. Instead of letting me dwell on the negative, he forced me to think towards the future.

Here’s what I got on tap so far (not including 5Ks):

2014 Races

Nov. 9th – Michelob Ultra Fort Lauderdale Half Marathon

Dec. 7th – Palm Beaches Half Marathon

2015 Races

Jan 25th – Miami Half Marathon

Feb 15th – Publix Fort Lauderdale Half Marathon (maybe)

TBD – Winter Marathon

(Current Options: Southermost Marathon/Key West Marathon, Cape Coral Marathon or Palm Beaches Marathon)

2016 Races:

TBD – Ultras!

It occurred to me in Portland that I had very little experience coming into the marathon with just two half marathons and a handful of 5Ks under my belt. I believe that the stronger and faster I get at the half marathon distance, the more enjoyable the full marathon distance will be when I tackle it again next year.

I want to get as close to a 2:45 half marathon as I can before my next full. I honestly don’t care if that is an official race time or something that happens during training. More than likely it will happen during training as I don’t think I will reach that goal this winter. My fastest half marathon to date – happened in the middle of marathon training on tired legs  - and was 3:04 (14:02 pace).

While I’m running the Nov. 9th Fort Lauderdale half for fun, I hope to run a 2:59 (13:39 pace) or better half marathon in December at the Palm Beaches half. If that doesn’t work out I’ll try again at the Miami Beach half at the end of January.

Palm Beaches will literally be the first distance race I will actually run for time. While I always have expectations for my running events (like the marathon), I have never really PUSHED myself to reach a certain time goal.

I’m excited to enter a race with a completely different mindset and see what happens! Portland gave me the confidence in my mental ability to push through hard times. Until Sunday I didn’t think I was a very mentally tough person, but now I’m pretty sure I am.

I’ve been a runner for almost two full years and I finally feel ready to take it more seriously. I think I’ve always said I was not interested in time or pacing because I had no faith in my abilities, but I want to spend the next year building up my running confidence! I feel ready!

Portland wasn’t my perfect experience, but I sort of feel like if I could finish that I can do anything! Maybe it was just what I needed after all.

What is your big fall / winter goal this year? New Distance? PR?