Happy {Half} Marathon Monday!

There’s nothing quite like signing up for a race to get you feeling more focused! With no desire to run a full this spring (or really at any point during 2016) I want to improve my half marathon time. I’ve only raced a half 5 times, but I love the distance.

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Ocean City, MD on April 30th! I hope the weather is good because you never really know what you’re going to get in late April around here.

This past Monday marked the first day of the 12 week training plan that I’ve been Frankenstein-ing together from a couple different sources. Basically I have a couple different workout options on any given day which I think will keep me extra interested and motivated. Rest days are always Friday and long run days are supposed to be on Sunday, which is a new thing for me. I hope the next 11 weeks go as well as week 1 did!

Monday, February 8: 3 miles + strength. Both of the plans I’m working from suggests strength or cross training each Monday, which fits in nicely with my life because that’s when I generally go to Body Pump. I did that in the morning. Then in the afternoon, I took advantage of the last “warm” day we were supposed to have this week and did my 3 miles outside.

Mid-30’s is “warm” now. Yay.

Tuesday, February 9: I had a choice between 6 x hill repeats or 4 easy miles, so I hopped on the treadmill and combined the two. 8 x hills that were 400m apiece with a 400m flat in between equaled 4 miles. I was pretty darn proud of myself when this workout was over because I had cranked the treadmill hill setting higher than I ever have in the past.

Wednesday, February 10: Both plans were again in agreement on 3 miles and one of them also suggested strength training. I went to the gym right after work to run my 3, and then later on that evening attended a 60 minute Bikram class. Over the past months, my yoga practice has suffered and I feel like I’m as stiff as a board. There was a lot of improvement in this class over the one I went to last week!

Thursday, February 11: Tempo run. 2 mile w/u, 3 miles at half marathon pace, and a 1 mile c/d. I had to pick up Betty in the afternoon so I ran early in the morning. My body was still pretty sore from yoga the night before and it was tough, but I got it done.

Friday, February 12: REST. One plan suggested core work and I didn’t even do that much. I needed a day to just do nothing.

Saturday, February 13: Okay so remember when I just said that my long runs are supposed to happen on Sundays? Well I already messed that up in week 1.

I had some special mystery weekend plans and wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get a long run done the next day so I switched it to Saturday morning. 8 easy miles on the treadmill. One for each degree that it was outside at the time. Hence…treadmill.

One goal I have for myself throughout this training is to slow my long runs way, way down and I think I did a very good job of that the other day. I felt fantastic after this run.

Sunday, February 14: 4 mile run + 4 x 20 second strides. I didn’t get to the gym until the late afternoon, so I’m glad to have made the decision to move my long run. 19 degrees is better than 8, but in the end I just didn’t feel like putting on all the clothes that would be required to do this run outside.

Total Mileage: 28
Grade: A+

Still way more running on the treadmill than I really want to be doing, but I’ve been making it more challenging with big hill adjustments. Hopefully soon I can kick this ridiculous aversion to running in the cold and get back out on the pavement for the rest of my training.

Or rather hopefully soon it will be 70 degrees. Let’s go with that instead.

What are you training for right now? How was your week of workouts?

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

xo,

Salt

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An unexpected PR on a perfect fall morning! {NCR Half Marathon Race Recap}

You know what’s cool about today for me? It’s the 2 year anniversary of when I ran 13.1 miles for the very first time. And now today I get to recap my new half marathon PR! 

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My very first half marathon in 2013!

Earlier this year I started setting some goals for myself for the fall. These goals did NOT include running a marathon, but rather focusing on shorter distances. Ultimately I wanted to do more halfs and possibly run myself a new PR. My best time of 1:45:27 happened last September at the NCR Half Marathon, a small race that is part of my run club’s Grand Prix Series. I also did not intend to compete in the Grand Prix Series this year, but now that I have 3 of the 4 necessary races under my belt…hey why not.

This year the NCR Half just so happened to fall on the day when my training schedule told me that my long run should be a very convenient 13.1 miles. And even better? The race is on the very same trail as the upcoming marathon so I would be able to practice on familiar terrain.

100 people showed up to run on Saturday morning and as usual I loved seeing some familiar faces, especially my friend Michelle who I’ve been doing my long runs with lately. The Baltimore Road Runners are a fun and welcoming group and the weather was absolute fall perfection. In my tank top and shorts I was more than a little bit chilly as we walked to the start, but after jogging around for a half mile I felt warmer and knew I’d be comfortable for the race. It was set to start at 8am and right around that time we all lined up on the trail facing north. The course is a double out and back, which I remember really disliking the idea of last year, but it ended up not being so bad.

PR thoughts had been in the back of my mind, but during the first several miles they all went out the window. I wasn’t feeling particularly well and even though I was coming off a couple days of rest my legs felt like lead. I even debated calling it quits when I got back to the start. In hindsight, I should have considered that it just takes me a lot longer to warm up now that my long runs are getting into the mid-teens. By the time I was three miles in and nearing the first turn around, my energy level had started to improve.

Then I realized as the leaders were passing me going in the opposite direction that I was the second female. I got way excited and as a result mile 4 was my fastest at 7:25. After that I had to remind myself to rein it in because I still had a long way to go.

From mile 4 until mile 11 I was feeling pretty great. When I race I like to pick out another runner up ahead, pace with them awhile, and then try to pass them because it gives me something to focus on when I’m getting tired. No one had passed me so I knew I was still the second place woman, but this was reinforced by several people who screamed it at me as they passed me going the other way. Even though I already knew, it still gave me a boost to hear it.

There were plenty of water stops with friendly volunteers, but I hadn’t stopped at any of them until mile 12 when I was suddenly very exhausted. I drank about 3/4 of the cup and dumped the rest of it over my head; it was freezing cold and helped a TON. The trail was crowded with people out enjoying their mornings, but there wasn’t anyone from the race that I could follow for the last couple miles; the guy who finished in front of me was like 2 minutes ahead. Because I run that part of the course all the time and know it like the back of my hand, I entertained myself by running from one landmark to the next. When a familiar bend in the trail appeared up ahead, I knew I was almost done and when the red, digital readout of the clock appeared I literally said “OH THANK GOD” and sprinted as fast as I could to the finish on tired legs.

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So I PRed by nearly 2 minutes, held on to second place and first in my AG which is great for the Grand Prix Series, but then this is also the first time I’ve run a half marathon with my average pace under 8 minutes. I don’t know which of these things is most exciting for me. All of them, I guess.

After sharing high fives and congrats with some of the guys who had finished at around the same time as I did, I visited the table that was set up with snacks and drinks. I helped myself to Gatorade and water and then there was also bagels, cookies and bananas which I appreciate for other people, but can’t eat without dire consequences. I had a lunch date and couldn’t hang out long, but it was nice to catch up with friends and cheer for other runners crossing the finish line.

Such a great day. 🙂

How do you pass the time on long runs? Did you run or race last weekend? How is your fall season going?

xo,

Salt

2014: Fun times, success, and a few too many pity parties.

Well here we are! It’s the last day of 2014 and I’m sitting here all confused because WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED TO 2014!? Remember when you were little and time seemed to go sooooo slowly? I used to “yeah right” my mom whenever she would tell me that time sped up the older you get and the moral of that story is: listen to your mom.

I have been thinking for days about how I wanted to approach my yearly recap. So much has happened that I could write a post as long as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but then no one would want to read it including me. So here are a few of the highest of highlights and lowliest of lowlights that I’ve picked out from the past year.

The Highlights!

Betty!

Obviously the highlightiest of all is Betty because nothing could ever beat her out for that top spot. From our trip to Florida in February (and her first ride on an airplane!), to her second birthday in March, to Halloween fun, and our first 5K together, there are really way too many favorite memories to list.

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There’s so much fun ahead of us in 2015, even if age 3 does end up being worse than 2 like every person who has experience parenting a three year old has been telling me.

I am choosing to remain optimistic that we will be an exception because Betty already acts like she’s 10.

PRs

At the beginning of the year I set a couple personal race goals for 2014. One of them was to run a 21-minute 5k, a goal I attained in early May. I went on to PR two more times in June, my fastest being at the Fit Foodie where I was an ambassador and got to hang with some of my favorite blogging ladies for a weekend! From left to right, Cynthia, Erika, Photobomb Sue, and Courtney! (I’m in there too. Duh.) Fellow Ambassadors Deb and Amy are not pictured, but I wish they were!

Target Starbucks selfie. Fortunately I have super-humanly long arms.

Awesome time with awesome ladies!

I also set my 15K PR in March (not that I have much to compare it to because I’ve only run one 15K), my 10K PR in April, my half marathon PR in September, and most recently my 8K PR at Zoo Zoom in November. Zoo Zoom is one of my favorite races and my performance there compared to last year really gave me a good idea of how far I’ve come as a runner.

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Of course it was also awesome to finally meet Mar and hang with one of my BRFs, Sara!

And speaking of BRFs…following an October 5K, I made the trek down to the Marine Corps Marathon to FINALLY meet my sole sister, Helly! Sorry not sorry that I have already posted this photo 12 times.

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It was a year FULL of running friends!

photo 3My friend Trish is on the far left, then Amber of PB & PRs next to me on the left and Lisa from Running Out of Wine on the right!

My First Marathon

I recapped it in two separate posts (here and here), but just in case you don’t have a spare 45 minutes to read all my ramblings here are the Cliffs Notes: On May 25 I ran Bob Potts, a small marathon in York, PA.

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My training left a lot to be desired because I got laid up with tendinitis (see the upcoming pity party section), but I managed to MacGuyver together the right amount of long runs and finished in 3:49:25; a number which I would subsequently have tattooed onto my forearm.

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The Mobbies

Not exactly running related, but run blogging related: I won a Mobbie! (In acid washed pants!)

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Now you are probably asking yourself “WTF is a Mobbie” and I’ll tell you. The Mobbies are awards for Maryland’s Outstanding Blogs and I was voted #1 Health and Wellness Blog this year! Thank you so much to everyone who voted for me!

The GPS Series

The GPS is a series of 8 races held by my run club. In order to be eligible for a prize at the end of the year I had to participate in 4 of the events and place well in my age group. Despite some injury drama, I completed 5 of the races and took home a lovely first place plaque. Here’s a recap after the award night and in that post I also recapped the races that got me there.

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Finally Training Again!

In October there was supposed to be a second marathon and then I was supposed to be heading to Disney next week to do the Dopey Challenge, but as we all know sometimes things don’t go as planned. I don’t consider that a half marathon happened instead of the full and that I will still be here in cold-ass Baltimore next week are bad things because great things came from both. I had a blast with friends running the Baltimore Half Marathon (improving my time by 2 minutes over last year!) and I was able to defer my Dopey registration to 2016. Best of all? The break from training for all those long distances allowed me some extra healing time and now as of last week I’m working toward an April marathon. I’m really looking forward to training correctly and playing it safe this time around, following a plan and taking my time. Hopefully the result will be a great race in New Jersey!

Race Pics!

Here are my top 5 faves from the past year:

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Bob Potts Marathon: May 25, 2014

Fit Foodie 5K: June 21, 2014

Fit Foodie 5K: June 21, 2014

Charles Street 12: August 9, 2014

Charles Street 12: August 9, 2014

Baltimore Running Festival: October 18, 2014

Baltimore Running Festival: October 18, 2014

The Color Run: November 15, 2014

The Color Run: November 15, 2014

TOTAL MILEAGE FOR 2014: 1,302

I started out this year with the goal of running 1,500 miles. It didn’t happen and I’m okay with that. Honestly, 1,300 is far more than I thought I’d be able to manage all things considered. Which brings us to…

The Lowlights!

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I went to the doctor this year almost as many times as I went in 2012. And in 2012 I was pregnant.

Injury #1: February. A nagging little pain in my right ankle blew up into a case of peroneal tendinitis so severe that I could barely walk at the end of our otherwise-very-fun Florida vacation. I can only blame myself for this. It hurt and I ran on it anyway. I’m a dumbass who learned a valuable lesson:

If something hurts, DON’T RUN ON IT.

If I hadn’t made that rookie mistake, maybe I wouldn’t have been sitting down on an exercise bike for pretty much the entire month of March with a May marathon looming on the horizon. I did attempt a rosy approach at this injury here.

Injury #2: June. This time it was much worse. After visits to multiple podiatrists, a sports medicine doctor, my chiropractor, and an acupuncturist, the diagnosis that stuck was deep peroneal nerve entrapment. (I HATE ANYTHING INVOLVING PERONEALS!) Likely brought on by all the 5Ks I raced in the wrong pair of shoes, which just so happen to also be one of my favorite pairs of shoes because I was wearing them during all of my short distance PRs. I was told I needed surgery and resigned myself to it because at the worst point I would have rather someone cut my nerves and make my toes go numb forever than feel the dreadful pain that I was constantly feeling.

For all of you that continued to read my blog while this was all going on…thank you. I was trying to not be depressing, but looking back on it I was depressed and not fun to be around either on here or at home. It was REALLY hard to be a coffee bean.

I got a bunch of needles in my foot for diagnostic tests, plus cortisone and I know I was probably judged by people for getting it, but I think it was instrumental in my surgery avoidance. I switched to the Baltimore half due to inability to train for the full and wrote off Dopey until 2016 because there was just no way. And now?  It’s actually better. Dr. No-BS was RIGHT. I never, ever thought it would get better without surgery and it did. I do stretching exercises with my foot regularly and whenever I can I warm up and cool down before and after my runs and so far this has kept my foot feeling pretty healthy. I would say that it’s about at 98.3%. It’s pain-free, but it still feels a little weird from time to time and to this day slightly discolored. That bruise was OMG.

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2014 has been one of my best years ever. Full of fun times with my girl, family, friends, great new opportunities (including a new job!), lots of races (18!), and even when things got rough lessons were learned.

AND YOU GUYS! Thank you for making my first full year of blogging such an incredible experience! 2015 has some stiff competition.

What were some of your brightest moments of 2014?

Xo,

Salt