Thirty Thursdays: Break My Half Marathon PR

Hi friends!  The big 3-0 gets closer every day and I’m still working on checking things off my fun 30 before 30 list.   Today’s story came completely unexpectedly.  One of my fitness goals for this year (and really, if any runner is being honest, a goal since the last time I set a PR) was to set a new PR in my half marathon distance.  My previous best time is 1:47:36, set on the St. Jude course in Memphis, TN one December morning over 5 years ago.  I was young, I was coaching running and I had a pace mate Russ who leisurely jogged along beside me taking all the shots of beer offered while keeping me company and dragging me through the last two miles.

This racing season has been so rewarding to me.  I trained specifically for the 5k distance and finally nailed some PRs down in the St. Patrick’s Day and Spring Fling races.  I did not at all feel trained or ready for the half marathon distance.  Rather, I chose this race because it was local, free to me because of Oklahoma Sports and Fitness membership and it was a good time to start building mileage up before the July marathon.  I was absolutely not expecting to PR or even try for one.  Right up to the start line.

IMG_7375On race day I was all on my own.  It’s not often that I race alone but I don’t mind it either.  I run this sport for me and while it’s so wonderful to have company and share the miles, going alone will never stop me from doing a race.  I worked late the night before again, and was up way earlier than I normally would have been to take Chap to the airport.  This completely threw off my rest, my eating schedule and my coffee plans.  But, I wasn’t worried about it because I just wanted to enjoy the race.

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I waited until the last minute to trot on over to the start line.  I was so glad I did because it was freezing in the high 40s in just my shorts and a tank top.  I’m pretty sure my teeth chattered the first two miles.   I got my app all set to track (Strava), Maren’s Deluxe album pulled up on Spotify (country music to keep me from going too fast), and stuck my phone in my beloved side pocket.  Got the GPS started on my watch, waved to some friends and waited for the gun.  We were off and I still had no plan.  Since it was a smaller race, I was near the front.  I felt myself getting swept up into the lead runners and made a mental note to slow down.  It was a beautiful day, I was loving my side-pocketed-shorts and the basking in the anticipation of a new flat course.

Eventually my app talked to me and said, previous mile in 7:45.  WHAT?  Way faster than I felt like I was going, and way too fast to maintain for 12 more miles.  The next mile ticked by in the neighborhoods of Jenks: 7:32.  DAMN!  Still way faster than I thought I should be going.  But, it wasn’t hard.  I was in a good rhythm and hanging stride for stride with a fellow OKSandF teammate so I thought I’ll just keep this pace as long as I can.

I expected to hold it maybe to halfway, or just a little past.  I remember texting M saying “I’m running 7:30s!”.  And texting my dad, “racing a half this morning, just did 5 in 37:45”.  I like these longer races because they allow more time to really hang around a group of runners.  I had several women that hung around me (or me around them) for many of the middle miles.  Miles 3-6 I hung behind a duo that were super chatty.  I didn’t listen to them but stayed one stride behind.  Then I passed and was passed, passed and was passed another gal for a few more miles.  Every time I shifted positions with any of these people, there was also a positive energy transfer.

Finally we made it to the turn around on the riverside trail, just a little over halfway.  I was ready to slow down but was also in my favorite part of the race – the heavy-traffic part of an out and back.  I cheered for everyone that I could as they passed.  Sometimes I ran out of breath but it’s fun scanning the lines of runners for friends and Insta running buddies.  I really started to slow down a mile or so into this turn around and my friends I drafted on for a while passed me again.  One gal said, “come on you can hang with us” and I just waved them on.

The last three miles were a struggle.  Between doing the math in my head of the average minute per mile I needed to run to break 1:40, then to PR, then to stay below 1:43 and trying to actually stay moving, my brain and body were hurting.  I noticed the fatigue in my arms (yes, still), and a blister forming under the ball and big toe of my right foot.  My right knee was getting stiff and tight and my lungs and ribs were tired of breathing.  But the road was flat and the weather perfect so I tried to keep moving.  I thought about my Fit Camp girls, my running girls, Teresa and Steve and my family.  Thought about mimosas later in the day and a nice nap.

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Sprinting and crawling to the finish

I am not ashamed to say that I walked a good part of the last three miles.  I tried to take 100 deep yoga breaths running to every 6 deep yoga breaths walking.  Not sure how the numbers fell that way but they did.  I was walking along when a gal I’d been behind for a while earlier came up behind me.  “We’re so close, let’s go”  This got me running again, but I couldn’t stay with her even though she was so encouraging.  We were able to quickly talk about our sub 1:45 goals and she powered in to a strong finish.  I did not have such a strong finish but I got there!  I ran it in too but man did it feel like I was running fast and not going anywhere!  But I made it.  I killed my PR and beat 1:45.  I was so, so surprised (even though that math back towards mile 10 pretty much secured a PR in my head).  My official time was 1:43:38.  I was so surprised because even though I’d been training fast for the 5k distance, I had only done one long run since the last half in October.  That partially explains why I bonked out at mile 10, but it doesn’t explain to me how I was so strong for 10 miles.  I’m pumped though!

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PR for me!

I would have loved to hang around and search down my new friends from the race but instead had to jet off to teach.  I could not have asked for a better day to run and ease into the routine of weekend long runs.  I’d highly recommend this race to local Tulsans!

Next up on the race calendar: Boston 5k on April 15 (have decided to run for fun, not race), Garmin Half Marathon on April 22 (not trying to PR, but guess I know how that can go now!) and that’s it for April.  Next main focus is the big mileage increase for July, and then will target another September PR.

 

 

Organized Home:Food Storage

I got to start today with a fantastic yoga class at our Studio here in Tulsa.  Mondays aren’t so bad when you get to start them gently moving your body and slowly waking up to the sunrise.  My first week of fast 5k training last week went really well.  I managed to get all the runs in, and all the circuits.  I feel a deep soreness to the bone in my quads, which hopefully means I’m pushing it on the runs.

During some of my down time this weekend, I conquered the next area of my Organized Home project.  I’m following along with the podcast Organize 365 and each week taking some time on the weekend to clean out and organize an area of my home. Last week I cleared the kitchen counters off, and this week went deeper in the kitchen to the cabinets and fridge.

Per usual, the first step was to take everything out of these spaces.  I decided to do the cabinets first and then the fridge.  I don’t have a walk in pantry so all of my dry goods and cans get stored in the cabinets.   Once everything was on the countertops, I vacuumed out the shelves and wiped them down.  Then it was time to toss.  Like with the master closet, there were some rules:

  1. Anything that is expired
  2. Anything that’s been open longer than you can remember
  3. Duplicates of things, especially spices

Now to put things back in these freshly clean, spacious doors.  She suggests storing things in a sorted manner that makes sense to you in additional bins but I didn’t have any, and don’t want to buy any so instead I separated my shelves into nuts and baking items, and canned goods below that.  I like her idea of having an area to store necessary ingredients for specific recipes for your week.

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After!

 

Once everything was either in the trash or back in the cabinets, I moved on to the fridge.  Same rules apply for tossing here: expired and duplicates are gone.  No second thoughts.  My favorite tip for the fridge was to not actually store your fruits and veggies in a drawer because then they’re out of sight and out of mind.  So I decided to have a shelf for snacks like veggies, guacamole and hardboiled eggs and a shelf for leftover storage and ingredients for meals for the week.

This clean out worked really well with my time in the kitchen this weekend anyway.  I’m really intentionally working on a strong Sunday cooking habit, and having a cleared out pantry is already providing more calm when I do it.  For maintenance she recommends a Sunday clean out where you go through the fridge for leftovers and opened produce to try to use up as much of it as you can – an easy habit to implement with the Sunday cooking!

Next week we stay in the kitchen and tackle dish cabinets!

How do you organize food storage?

Organized Home: Kitchen Counters

Moving right along this week into the kitchen.  I am so glad that this Organized 365 project called 40 Days: One Whole House didn’t tackle the entire kitchen at once.  Instead, we’re easing in very slowly starting with the kitchen counters.  I listened to the less-than-15-minutes podcast for this topic on a drive out for dinner with Chap and the kids, and was ready to tackle the counters the next day.

In the podcast, she talks about all horizontal surfaces in your home and how they end up becoming holding spaces for all kinds of things.  Keys, papers, bills, extra cups.  It’s so easy to just set things down and leave them there for later.  I’m working hard on making a space for everything, and then returning items to their homes when they’re not being used.

The first task for the kitchen counters was to take everything off of them.  Everything.  Appliances.  Papers.  Grocery bags.  Drying racks.  Bananas.  That part was easy (my dining room table has turned into a lovely holding space for all of my items in purgatory during this project).  Then, her rule is that you can’t return anything to the kitchen until you use it.  You’re supposed to use the whole week to figure this out but I didn’t want to so I started my meal prep for the week and only returned the things I used during that time.

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Purgatory for Stuff

In the podcast, she specifically calls out several things that most people have out on their counters and should maybe reconsider.  The first is a toaster.  I don’t have a toaster but I do have a microwave.  I don’t use it everyday, and I’m not even sure I use it every two days.  I tried to move this to the laundry room shelf but the plugs weren’t compatible so it had to stay in the kitchen.  Next were those porcelain canisters of all the kitchen utensils.  I have one, and I do use it everyday, but the look of it does clutter up the counters and I have plenty of drawer space.  The utensils are now in a drawer close to the stove for easy grabbing.  And the canister moved to the mantle to hold a new snake plant!

I decided to also tackle the fridge space while I was going at the counters.  Taking down expired Save the Dates and old holiday cards.  The only things that went back up were scenery magnets and art of my favorite cities (Memphis and Tulsa).

It was pretty simple for me to decide what to not put back on the counters.  The three big jars of protein powder I hadn’t scooped from in months.  The utensil canister.  A big bowl to hold fruit that’s usually empty.  And it was nice to rearrange a little.   This new layout worked great while I was prepping veggies and meals for the week, and I love that it feels a lot less crowded in here – from the counter space to the fridge!

Need to work on getting those doors to stay shut!  Next week: pantries and leftovers.

Winter Season W3: Track Run

Y’all I am determined to keep up a daily blogging habit.  I have a few reasons for this:

  1. So I can look back on this journey to two new PRs and keep track of what went well and what didn’t
  2. So I can reconnect to this online world of like minded fast-running, healthy-eating, organized-at-home creative people.  Or at least network with some so I stay inspired.
  3. Reconnect to you, the readers to share my perspective on things in life and continue to tell stories.  If there’s any particular content you’d like to see, let me know and I’ll try to sneak it in.

So, as I get started back into this, I am going to work on using the word “so” a little bit less and also commit to writing daily.  This may mean a few junky posts for a bit while I just sit down at my computer to hash out some thoughts, get a little creative or wake up the writer in me again.  I used to have lists and lists of things to write about but today I can’t think of a single thing except to tell you how my runs have gone.  So, (whoops) that’s what I’ll do.

I have two big, hard, almost impossible goals I’ve been chasing for a while now.  I want to break 22 minutes (used to be 21 but then I got a little more realistic) in the 5k and I want to break a long-standing (almost 4 years, maybe 5?) half marathon PR.  Before I turn 30 in August (the back up plan is just anytime in 2017).

Setting the goal, and even making the plan are the easy parts.  Doing the plan through to the finish is the tough part.  Here’s the plan:

  1. 3 quality runs a week (via Run Less, Run Faster method): track, tempo and long (I’ve added my own twist to the long run, which I’ll tell you about soon!)
  2. Fit Camp Style workouts 3x per week: This is my own version of strength training.  I give credit to this for my last half marathon success on a single long run of 7 miles.
  3. Yoga everyday: not necessarily a class a day, but some kind of on the mat designated stretch out time.  The key to staying injury free.

Lucky for me, all of those things are at my studio! There really isn’t a better time for me to try to do this.  Yesterday was my week 3 track day.  The first week I ran 400s which I’ve come to love, last week was 800s which I kind of hate and this week’s assignment was 2 one mile repeats and an 800.  Weird horribly “long” track distances.

I planned to run with two of the girls who usually come to the YogaFit class on Tuesday mornings but we had some extra people show up (which is awesome!) so we went for a windy 3 mile run instead.  I was still determined to get my track work in so I hopped straight on the treadmill after class (my preferred track location).  My legs were so tired!  I did my best to keep up with my set pace but a lot of the time had to scroll down or hop to the sides.  This is always disheartening and reminds me of a slow balloon deflation.  I was so hopeful starting the workout and then as I trudged along and my legs got heavier, my little hope balloon slowly lost all its air.  But, I did it.  It’s over and I can write it down in my Believe Training Journal (more motivating to get runs in than it should be).

Hope y’all have a great first Wednesday of the new year and I’ll see you back here tomorrow for some more dusting of the rust writing…..(it’ll get better, I promise hope.)

 

2017: The Year of Less

Happy 2017 friends!  I’m relieved the holidays are over, and even though January 1 is just another day in the year, there’s something about it that gives me energy to get shit done.  This year it even started a day early – all New Year’s Eve Day I spent in my house, alone, cleaning out my closet.  It’s a daunting task to end 2016 with but it felt amazing, and like the final perfect task for an excellent year.

This closet purge was inspired by one of the podcasts I’ve been listening to called Organize 365.  I don’t listen to every episode but the host has a 40 week program that guides you through one organizational task per week.  The idea is to work on it all week, but I’m a procrastinator and like to tackle it all in a tight deadline.  I skip over days that don’t apply to me (like kids’ closets) and have completed two weeks of organizing pieces of the house. I’m going to start sharing each week here so you can follow along too!

The Master Closet

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Before

The first step is to take everything out of the closet.  Since I only have myself to worry about, and a relatively small closet, I tackled my dresser too.  This was the easiest part.  It took me less than five minutes to create a gigantic pile of clothes, shoes, purses and other odds and ends on my bed (put it on the bed – huge motivation to complete the task, unless you want to sleep on the couch.  Which I don’t have right now, so I had to get it done).

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The Pile

The sorting process is next.  This is a little daunting.  The following items get tossed:

  1. It doesn’t fit anymore.  Right now, today.
  2. You don’t feel like a million bucks in it
  3. It’s torn, ripped, stained
  4. You haven’t worn it in the past six months

I struggled at first but then I got on a roll.  Old high school sweatshirts, out.  Torn designer jeans, out.  Bridesmaids dresses, out.  Skirts, never worn, out.  Some of this was really hard, but I just shoved the items into bags and soon they were out of mind.

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Sorted.

Everything else got folded and sorted onto my kitchen table.  Jeans, workout pants, shorts and shirts.  Sweaters, shoes, hanging items, accessories.  My table and bench were covered.  But my closet and drawers were empty and cleaned!  From here, I continued to pare down.  No duplicates went into the closet.  I tried on every pair of jeans and dress that I put back in.  If I didn’t feel great I bagged it.  If it was too big, even though it was my favorite dress, I bagged it.

The struggle came with the race shirts.  SO MANY.  And I never wear them, ever.  So, I decided to keep only the ones from the state races, and any current PRs.  Everything else – bagged.

I had one bag of trashed clothes (torn, stained, unwearable etc), hangers and tattered shoes and two bags of giveaways.  Everything up to this point probably took two and a half hours.

Returning everything to its proper new home was easy.  “Dress” shirts (for me, anything that’s not athletic) went back in the closet in a color coordinated order.  Jeans, shorts, sweatshirts and workout bottoms got arranged on shelves in the closet.  Shoes on the bottom.  Workout tops, bras and shirts into the dresser drawers, sorted by bra, built in bra or just a top.  Workout t-shirts in a separate drawer.  And the race shirts all ended up in a duffle of their own in the hall closet.  Scarves and winter gear moved to the hall closet.  The over the door hanger moved to the bathroom to hold towels and robes.

And just look at the magic….

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After all of this and seeing my pile of clothes on the table, I had a thought: I do not need a single ‘nother item of clothing.  And today, as I write this, I’m resolving to not purchase any additional items of clothing this entire year (excludes new running shoes, clothes bought with Athleta points and a dress for a wedding).  Yep, there it is in writing and now all y’all can hold me to it.

What are y’all working on this year?

 

Winter Season

Hi friends!  There is a lot to catch up on from my running standpoint on the blog but I don’t want to spend any time on that tonight.  I am ready to commit to my next 12 week cycle of 5k training to try to get that PR goal and sub-22 goal before I turn 30 in August (modified for realism’s sake slower than sub 21).

I had my fall target races roll around about 3 weeks ago.  And I got sick.  It sucked.  I’m fairly positive I could have killed that 5k.  But you know what, it wasn’t in the cards this year.  And I’m left with the effort that I gave that morning, and the training in my muscles and lungs that didn’t disappear just because I got sick.  I took 3 weeks off to rest from running, and too, major strength training.  I did a lot of yoga, I rested and I read books.  It was awesome.

Then I started to get stir crazy.  I added some strength training back in, and took Miley on a one mile run around the neighborhood.  It’s getting colder here in Tulsa so I don’t necessarily miss running in that, but I do miss running regularly.

So, Monday night after returning from my NYC Christmas trip, I sat down and mapped out the early spring’s races and year of travel for races.   In my new Believe Training Journal.  My next target races are the Sweetheart and St. Patrick’s  Day 5ks here in Tulsa, with a long hopeful shot at the Boston 5k in April.

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That meant a Tuesday date with a track run, so I picked one of my favorites to kick it off with.  The ol’ quarter mile repeats.  Run .25m fast fast, and then jog/walk a .25m lap slow.  Do this a total of 8 times.  I cranked it out indoors on a treadmill, after my first class of the day.

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I felt surprisingly strong and not too stiff for this first longer run in a few weeks.  I am really looking forward to detailing my training in my journal and on here, and feeling strong and fast again.

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What are your athletic goals for 2017?

30 before 30

My birthday is in just a few short days.  A few months ago I told someone I was 27.  Then last week I told Chap that I promised I’d make a dentist appointment before I turned 30 next week.  Apparently late 20s comes with some memory loss?  Or I’m deep enough into ambiguous ages that I can’t even keep track anymore….I am 28.  29 on Saturday.

I know people react differently to aging, and I’m sure part of that is being at different stages of life.  This current age used to seem so old and adult and put together.  If I could only tell my 15 year old self what it’s really like (some days you’re a great adult and other days you survive on cereal and naps with your mutt Miley) maybe she’d not be in such a rush to grow up.  Although the cereal and dog parts aren’t so bad.

In anticipation of the monumental (so they say) dirty 30 next year, I started making a list of things I wanted to accomplish, experience or learn before then last year.  I’ve slowly been working my way through the list and using the hashtag #sprenks30before30 on Instagram to document it.  I had some friends ask for the complete list so I’ve compiled it below.  I like to think I have a nice mix of adventure and travel, fitness and knowledge, goals and skills to master.  Many of these will be money dependent so I’m not expecting to complete the entire list but it’s nice to have something to dream about.

These are in no particular order except what I thought them up in:

  1. Skydive
  2. Snow Ski
  3. Red Rocks Concert
  4. Travel Out of the Continent
  5. Open Fitness Studio
  6. 20 States on the Race Map
  7. Porch Swing on House
  8. Eric Church Concert
  9. Skinny Dip (not in a pool)
  10. 2 Nights Camping Trip
  11. Scuba Dive
  12. Learn Another Language
  13. Rappelling
  14. Hot Air Balloon Ride
  15. 15 Pullups
  16. Half PR (beat 1:47:36)
  17. Open Retirement Account
  18. Sub 21minute 5k
  19. RYT Certification
  20. Winter Cruise
  21. Remodel Bathroom
  22. Alaska Trip
  23. Payback Graduate School Debt
  24. Cook Rice Without Burning It
  25. Helicopter Ride
  26. File My Own Taxes
  27. Read
  28. Shooting Range
  29. Year of News
  30. ???

And as I’m typing this, it appears my inability to count my age also translates to making lists.  I thought I had 30 things!  What would you put as the last item on my 30 before 30 list?