Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Randomness

This is the first Friday in a very long time that I have a truly "off" day.  No work, no exercise, and most real life duties are taken care of.  So I have some "wow, what do I do with myself" time.  Here are some random things rolling around this blonde haired head.

1. I can't decide between Chinese or something new for lunch.  Yes, when I'm not thinking about running and other exercise I'm thinking about food.  It's always about the next run or the next meal.  I haven't had Chinese in forever and I'm craving it... unfortunately I'm also well aware that about 2 hours after I eat it I typically feel like crap.  Is it worth it today?  Decisions..  I know darn well if I'm still undecided by lunch I'll end up where I normally do.  Deluca's. 

2.  I got my Brooks official MCM training shirt and hat delivered a while ago.  I took it out of the package but I refuse to try it on, take pics of it, or even take the tags off until it is really training day.  June 23rd.  I know this is a weird superstition of sorts, but I can't help but feel like I'm going to jinx something by putting it on now.  I guess it's kind of like wearing a race shirt for a race that you haven't completed yet.  I can't bring myself to do that either.

3.  I put some tequila in a Sonic Diet Limeade last night.  It was honestly probably the best margarita I've ever had.  I will do this again.

4.  We have absolutely NO solid plans for this holiday weekend.  At all.  We're tossing around some ideas and I'm sure we'll come up with something but it always makes me uneasy not to have plans.  So far we've come up with:  Pirates games, Pittsburgh Zoo (we're members so this is a definite one), Cleveland Zoo, heading up to Presque Isle to hang out for the day, Living Treasures, riding/walking trails. The weather is supposed to be really nice and I'd like to stay outside as much as possible.  

5.  I'm starting to question my political party affiliation.  Once again I've hit a "grey area" point in life where I find it hard to fit into a certain definition.  I can see a bunch of different sides so I don't totally agree with one or the other.  More and more, though, I find myself shaking my head or saying "STFU!" to the main talking heads blubbering on the radio.

6.  I've found some neat stuff at thrift stores lately.  Namely CDs of old music I'd long since forgotten about and don't have anymore (right now I'm listening to AFI thanks to the Goodwill on Mcknight Road).

7.  My 9 year old daughter is full of hormonal rage lately.  If she's this bad now please reserve me a room at Western Psych in another 5 years.

8.  One week ago I rage quit Facebook.  Deactivated my account and even deleted the app off of my iPhone.  Yes, you read that right.  This past week has been one of the most relaxed, reflective and productive weeks in ages.  It has been fantastic not being kept up all night by the bleeping phone notifications and/or waking up to a bunch of notifications and missed messages.  I get too wrapped up in all the hoopla and drama between family, real friends, fake friends, and people I truly don't give a hoot about but can't look away from due to the trainwreck effect.  And yes, I'm guilty of creating and promoting my own drama too.  I didn't win the "Most Dramatic" award my senior year of high school for nothing.  Right now I'm loving being sans Facebook.  I'm not saying I'll never go crawling back into the black hole, but for now - you can have it!

9.  I don't feel nearly as old as I am.  I feel like I'm in fantastic shape (recent bone trauma aside) and I'm strong in both mind and spirit.  It makes me sad to see other "middle agers" looking/acting like it's time for a newspaper and a rocking chair.  There's so much life left and things I personally want to see and do.

10.  I think I have a better chance of winning the Powerball than finding reasonably priced, CAT FRIENDLY, big enough housing in a decent area within the city.  While I can understand the reasoning behind it, I'm tired of seeing "NO PETS" everywhere.  I can assure any landlord out there that my 3 kids will do far worse damage to things than my cats who are old and either declawed or don't realize they have claws anymore.  One is even missing teeth now, for goodness sake.  And my cats don't "go" anywhere but the litter boxes.  Now give my 4 year old a marker, a white wall and 10 minutes alone and we'll see what happens.  And have you ever smelled a cup of milk spilled into a carpet (or sofa) on a hot day?  Yeah.  

Those are some of the random thoughts I'm having this morning!  I hope you all have a great Friday and the rest of the weekend.  If you're travelling - be safe!  Arrive alive and buckle up and all that.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Training Plans

Well, it’s been a little while again, and I did say that I was going to keep talking about my obsessing over marathon training plans.  I think I’ve done more research on this particular topic than any project or paper I ever did in school.  Maybe it’s because it’s something I’m passionately interested in.  Maybe I’m just a dork and I love to waste time and money.  Does it really matter?

Here is probably my biggest problem coming into choosing a training plan for what I hope will finally be my first (and not last!)  26.2 finish:  most everything you read tells you that if you’re a first timer that you should have no goal other than “to finish”.  You shouldn’t worry about times and all that other jazz until subsequent races.  Unfortunately I can’t do that.  I simply can’t.  I never have been a “just finish” person.  If I ever say those words I’m lying.  Heck, this is the lady who trained for around 7 months before entering my first 5K because I wanted to be certain that I could do it in under 30 minutes, and not just by a few seconds (I did it in 26:05).  Even my most recent half marathon – my first race post injury -- I had goals.  I had to be able to come in under 2 hours and I hoped to get as close to 1:50 as I could.  I set goals and I work toward those.  I don’t know any other way to be, really… this is simply me.

My goals have obviously evolved over the past couple of years…  My goals from when I was a fresh beginner were different than my goals at the end of last year and those ones are now different post injury.  They will more than likely change again.  Even during training.  I’m prepared for that.  But I need to have something to work toward as motivation and I’ve had to take many factors into consideration.  And not just the injury, either – I’ll be training over the summer and need to factor in summer vacation with the kids, training in the heat and humidity, other time commitments, where I’m going to run my long runs and when, etc.

The first plan to get scratched off my training plan finalist list was FIRST, ironically enough.  Sure, you only run 3 times per week.  But again, that would drive me freaking nuts over the course of 16-18 weeks.  And those 3 runs per week?  All some type of intense speedwork - even the long runs.  Also, you're doing 20 milers at like week 4 and you do them every couple of weeks!  Again, pre-injury Nichole might say "well, this could be tolerable if I added an easy run day to the schedule", but this isn't that girl.

Daniels and Pfitz have both been on the top of my list for a marathon since...well, before I even signed up for the Pittsburgh Marathon back in September.  Both plans are very methodical, work in cycles with purpose (something I do personally as well as with my clients as a trainer), and are fairly similar.  I've honestly been using Daniels' Vdot system for a while as a guide.  I really believe that aside from hiring a personal running coach these two plans are probably the best out there.  But again, I am no expert on the matter.   Unfortunately, given where I stand right now I think they each are right on the cusp of what I'm capable of doing.  Could I do them?  Probably.  But I'm not a big fan of probably...

And then there's good ol' Higdon.  His plans have never failed me.  But, they are boring - especially the low mileage weekday runs.  And, in the intermediate 1 plan, there's no speedwork.  Which is good because I certainly don't need a lot of that!  But I want something... even if it is strides when I'm feeling good or a couple of mile repeats in the middle of an easy run.  I don't want to spend 16 weeks prepping for the most awesome event ever running 4-5 times per week at the same pace and barely varying distance (3 mile easy runs for-ev-er) except for the ever increasing long run.

Here's what I think I'm going to do.  I wrote this all up in a spreadsheet over the past week and I'm pretty satisfied with it... I'm going to do a hybrid of Higdon and Pfitz.  I know that sounds strange, but it works on paper, at least.  I'm going to use Hal's general mileage buildup, since it is gradual and starts off right where I need it to be.  I also appreciate his cutback weeks for recovery.  But - I'm going to add Pfitz strides and some workouts, but on a smaller scale.  Example:  During week 3, Pfitz plan: 8 miles, with 4 at Half marathon pace.  I'm going to do 3 miles - 1 easy, 1 at HM pace, and 1 easy.  This way, I’ll get the benefit of a small amount speed training, but with a more gradual mileage buildup.  I’ll also have my “comfy blanket” of being familiar with Hal, but still try something a little different.  And I’ll have 2 20 mile runs as well as short distance MP runs.  I’m really happy with how it looks, so I guess we’ll see how it actually translates once the time comes.

Don’t worry – if I ever feel like I’m getting too fatigued (although I do realize that fatigue is a typical part of marathon training – I know there is a limit) or I feel like I’m not recovering between workouts or starting to get more twinges and things I WILL back off.  First thing to go is any and all speedwork.  I’m also free to skip maintenance runs and take extra rest if I need to.  Injury free is KEY!  I have learned my lesson!

Training starts the week of June 23rd.  The next few weeks I’ll be taking it super easy, using my heart rate monitor on and off, maybe doing some run/walk intervals just to get the time on my feet and doing some just for fun runs with my kids.  I’m also doing a cycle of Jim Stoppani’s Shortcut to Shred, slightly modified to suit my tastes and goals.  I just started phase 2 today and boy I’m feeling it.

It’s going to be a great summer and I’m excited to start a new chapter in my running journey.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Moving Forward (finally)!

I'm not going to lie.  The afternoon of the Pittsburgh Half, while laying around watching movies and shoveling food in my face, I was looking at marathon training plans.  My mind was totally on "what's next".  I felt really great that day.  Which is good.  And bad.

I should know by now, but I never truly have an accurate judge of "how bad did that race hurt me" until a few days afterward.  I feel fantastic afterward (albeit tired and ravenously hungry), and typically feel pretty good the day after.  It's during that evening and the following day(s) where the ouchies come in.  This time was no different.

Last Wednesday I attempted a 2 mile run.  My legs felt like they weighed 50 pounds each and I was mighty stiff, but I completed it.  Then the rest of the day I just got more and more sore and stiff and started to have an extra twinge out of the general vicinity of my stress fracture.  Poop.

Thursday I planned on doing another run (preferable longer than 2 miles), but I thought better of it and only went as far as I felt "ok" (15 mins - 1.51 miles was how far I got) and then just did some cardio on the cross ramp.  After that I was hurting a bit.  Not excruciating, mind you, but even my husband noticed I had a little bit of a hobble going on the rest of the night and I was just not comfortable with what I was feeling.  I was downright concerned, if I'm being honest.  So, I decided I was going to rest on Friday instead of doing anything at all... I definitely wasn't going to run but I wasn't going to do anymore damage to anything by trying to be a superhero on the elliptical or anything else.

Thankfully by Friday night I was feeling better.  Saturday I went out with the mindset that I'd go as far as I felt good again.  I made it 4 miles, but was pretty spent afterward and still just on that side of sore that I didn't want to chance running again for a couple more days.

Monday I started a new weightlifting rotation (I've gotta get cut down again and shed some of this extra bulk I picked up while being injured) and that went well.  I was feeling pretty much back to normal.

Tuesday I ran 4 miles again, but this time I felt good.  Really good.  No nagging twinges, no aches and pains, no stiffness.  Just a smooth wonderful run.  Thank goodness.  I ran Wednesday and today (Thursday) too and still feel great.  I'm just going to chalk this up to the fact that I asked my body to do something extraordinary on May 4th and since it delivered beautifully I needed to listen to it in return to give it the extra rest it needed to recover.  See - I am getting better at listening to my body and not just blindly following a plan or doing what everyone else does! ;)

Speaking of blindly following plans, back to the marathon training plans.  Admittedly, I've been pouring over this for a long time.  I've bought heaps of books, browsed tons of websites and articles, talked with people, etc.  I finally narrowed it down to Hal Hidgon Intermediate 1 (I used Hal's intermediate half plans for my previous half marathons and his intermediate 10K plan which totally helped me rock the Great Race last year), FIRST (from the book Run Less, Run Faster), Jack Daniels' Plan A, and Pfitzinger's 18/55 plan.

I did look into the Hanson plan, especially since a bunch of people I follow on DailyMile and elsewhere were using it to train for early Spring marathons.  I'm uninterested in it right now for 2 reasons:  First, as much as it kills me to admit, I believe that kind of heavy buildup in conjunction with that kind of speed Hanson's wants would just bring me to injury quickly.  If this were pre-injury Nichole I wouldn't think twice about it.  But now?  nah.  Second, it would drive me freaking nuts to only run a 16 mile long run.  I would go psychotic wondering if I could run 10.2 more miles.  10 is such an intimidating number for me.  6?  Not so much.  That's just me.  I've read and understand the reasons why the plan "works" the way it does, I just don't think its for me.

I'll get into further marathon training plan research in another post.  I still have a few weeks before the beginning of training (looks like that will be June 23rd).  Until then I'm going to work on building slow mileage and staying injury free.  I've been wearing my heart rate monitor again and I will probably do that for 2-3 runs a week just so I don't drive myself too crazy with it.  I'm out there loving wearing a tank top at 6 AM and seeing all the cute little baby creatures along the North Shore trail in the morning - lots of bunnies and goslings!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Pittsburgh Half Marathon 2014

Race day.  Alarm went off at 4:45 just like last year.  I got up and got moving after having slept fairly well.  One thing that I was unsure of this year was how to fuel before the race.  I am aware "they" say to do what you do for your long runs, but my long runs typically go like this now: wake up, eat banana, throw myself together, and head out.  Total time from banana to actual run is anywhere from 15-30 mins.  Then along the run I have my gatorade and water mix along with a gel every 5 miles for runs 8 miles or more.  It's been a perfect system for me.  But this time I would have a heap of time between waking up and running and I tend to get bleh if I don't eat something shortly after waking.  So, I had a quarter cup of oatmeal with a little bit of PB and chia seeds.  I figured I could pick up a banana at the Benedum pre-race lounge.

View of the Benedum from the parking garage.

I got to the Benedum shortly after it opened at 5:30.  For the record, this perk alone is worth every penny of SCRR membership.  Just wow.  Indoor bathrooms, private gear check, huge indoor space to stretch and keep warm, etc.  My first order of business:  Gear check.  After freezing my ass off after previous races I finally got smart and brought a hoodie for afterward.  Hey, it takes me a while, ok?  Next up:  bathroom.  I was starting to have a nervous belly so I stayed close to the bathroom for a while.  I heard the group pic was coming soon, so I headed upstairs figuring I'll have my banana and get something to drink and it'll be perfect timing.  I couldn't find a banana or a single bottle of water anywhere.  I contemplated eating a donut, but I know better.  Let the panic ensue.  I went outside for the group pic (which you can barely see me in) and I was off to my corral which was due to close in less than 10 mins.
Obligatory start line pic.

Like I've said before I had didn't really have a time plan or an idea what I was going to do in this race.  I put myself around the big red 8:30 min/mile sign.  Shortly after, the 1:50 pacer (Michael - hilarious and awesome dude, btw) showed up around there and since I'd been toying with this idea I figured what the hell... I wanted to test myself and see what I was capable of and figured if I could keep him in my sights that'd be pretty cool... but I certainly wasn't going to kill myself for it so I made myself the promise that I wouldn't.

The start... always a mess.  This race (both years) really is the worst one of my experience, just with the crowd and people not being lined up correctly.  It's pretty much a guarantee that you can't settle into a pace until well after the Strip District and bridge zig zag.  It's all weaving in and out, getting stepped on, dodging walkers, getting run over from behind, etc.  It is what it is.  I've heard MCM is a million times worse because they don't have assigned corral placements, so at least I'm prepared to deal with it.

The weather was great, in my opinion.  Maybe a few degrees too warm, but not bad.  I quite enjoyed the on and off sprinkle of rain unlike some others.  It felt good!  I had on a singlet and armsleeves that I removed a few miles in.  Perfect!  Oh, and I had on a running skirt I will NEVER wear for a race again.  I've worn it for regular slower runs and it was fine, but this time...oh my, how do I put this... By the Birmingham bridge the undershorts were riding so far up my ass crack it was bleeding.  Just ouch.  Never again!!

Ok, well you remember me saying above that I did not have my banana OR anything to drink since I left my house that morning?  I was feeling it.  I usually don't use the first fluid stop in a race because it is always a crowded mess.  This time, I had to.  My mouth was like sandpaper and I was already starting to feel bleh.  So I grabbed a cup of Gatorade and again, totally unlike me - I drank the whole thing.

A few bridges and over to the North Side... I was feeling pretty good.  Admittedly, I was still feeling the effects of starting off underfueled/dehydrated and was using every single fluid stop.  I also felt like the current pace we were running was probably going to be near the max I could do.  But I wasn't feeling terrible.  Around Allegheny Center I took my Roctane.  I saw my family at their standard spot near the Humane Society and that gave me a little boost.  I looked good in the video Nick took.  ;-)

West End.  Always a party happening here.  First - the group blaring and twerking to "Baby Got Back" on the corner of Alexander... hilarious!!  That downhill is always great too.  More party animals on the main street.  Then... I don't know what happened (well, maybe I do), but I just hit a wall out of the blue..  Coming up out of the West End on that little hill felt a lot tougher than it should have.  I got really freaking nauseous and felt like my body temp increased a million degrees.  I watched the 1:50 sign get a little further ahead of me than it had been and I started to struggle to keep up.  I remember the next fluid station I had 2 cups of fluid (1 of each) and that just gave me the sloshy belly effect.

Somewhere around upper Carson Street I felt a "pull" on the injury side (not at the site - it was more in my rear end/sciatic area than where my stress fracture was and thankfully it was a short one time event), and my mind shifted from "must keep up with the group at all costs" to "don't be stupid and re-injure yourself, think of MCM and run your own damn race".  And with that, by mid-Carson I watched the 1:50 sign drift out of my sight as I let my pace slip back into the 8:40s.  I knew I needed another gel but I had to talk myself into taking it.  I was SO nauseous.  I finally got into it, but it took me nearly the entire length of Carson to get it down bit by bit to prevent it bouncing right back out.

Full confession:  I hit another psychological low during this point.  It may have only lasted a few minutes, but I had to wrestle down the "You failed!" monster and beat it down with the good thoughts of "are you freaking kidding - this is awesome!  I'm doing this!  I'm not in pain!  This is hard as hell but this rocks!".  Someone had a huge sign with a picture of Sweet Brown on it that said "WALKING??  Ain't nobody got time for that!" and that gave me a chuckle because I did have a fleeting walk thought flash through just moments before.  So glad I didn't give in to that!

I was feeling better at the slower pace, and after I had some of the Espresso love down.  I still had bloated sloshy belly happening and unfortunately I still felt that I needed hydration, so I kept drinking every chance I got.

By the end of Carson, I had given myself enough mental pep talking as well as the break in pace that I felt good enough to push a little harder.  Right before the Birmingham bridge a guy carrying the American flag charged past me, obviously with a lot left in the tank and forged ahead.  My goal was to keep him in my sights.

Going over the bridge a guy next to me asked "so this is the big hill?".  I felt bad, but I informed him that no, it wasn't... the big hill is actually AFTER this bridge.  He got the most deflated look on his face (he was breathing really hard), and I felt awful, but I didn't want to lie to him.  He fell behind me and I didn't see him again.

The hill.  I literally just read my race report from last year and giggled.  I thought it was tough then but I charged up it and felt great.  This year?  ehhhh not so much.  It was a million times harder and I could feel the difference in my training from last year to this one.  I was pretty much redlined and really struggling.  My form was crap and as much as I kept correcting it, I kept slumping back.  I refused to walk though.  That was not happening.  I did do another race first for me and dumped a cup of water down my chest.  Believe it or not, that did make me feel a bit better.

One thing that I was highly aware of both going over Birmingham and through the rest of the race was that my feet hurt like hell.  Literally the bottoms of both feet.  It felt like my shoes (Brooks Adrenaline 14 with a bit over 100 miles on them now) had NO cushion and the bottoms of my feet were just slapping the hard ground.  Hard.  I don't know if it was my crappy form at the time or the shoes.  But I've never had this before and it was/is concerning.  The thing that went through my mind was "wow, if these are this uncomfortable at 11 miles at race pace I'd better get some more cushioned shoes for MCM"!

As soon as we crested that hill and I knew that, essentially, I was "done" with the hard stuff, two things happened.  First - I started crying.  I was worn out and I had an "omg I can't believe I did it" moment.  Then I had to stop that because I still had some ground to cover.  haha! Second - I just let my pace increase on the downhill and really gave all I could to get across that line.  On my watch my fastest was 7:25.  My last mile avg was 7:55.  Another victory - I didn't slog and shuffle at the end!

My finish time was 1:51:49.  Not my best race by the time standards, but definitely not the worst!  I said it before - this was the greatest for a lot of reasons, even though it was nearly 3 minutes slower than last year.  The journey I took from the EQT 10 miler to this finish line taught me a lot about not only running, but myself.  I've been on cloud 9 since yesterday... Sure, there are the ton of "shoulda coulda"s- better fueling, going out too fast, etc.  But I refuse to focus on those.  I'm just laughing about it all.  This run rocked.

Hard earned. Love it.

Another SCRR perk - the post race tent.  After getting my medal I wandered over, got some water and a banana, got a hug from Astrid, and signed up for a massage.  I've never had a post race massage before and wow - I've been missing out!  That girl stretched muscles I didn't know I had or used and I felt freaking amazing when she was done!  I don't know what the hell I had going on in my shins and in my feet but that hurt like a bitch until she worked it out.  Usually I'm afraid to sit down after a race because when I get back up, it's all ouchie and I'm doing some weird cowboy hobble the rest of the day.  Not today!  I was able to walk back to the parking garage and then was fine all day long.  Even today I just have some hip flexor soreness and a blister on my toe.  Awesome!  I need to think about adding regular massage to my schedule!
By the time I was done with my massage I was finally feeling good enough to get some food in me so I had a burger and a potato and then some ice cream.  They also had a candy bar where you could fill up a little box with candy (from Grandpa Joe's in the Strip which I am a big fan of in the first place.  It's always fun to take the kids in there).  I got a box and nibbled on it while laying in bed later in the afternoon.

All in all - another great race, the running club perks made my day, nice weather, and another sweet medal for the wall.  I'll be back again next year for sure.

Pittsburgh Kids Marathon and Expo 2014

What a weekend!

The expo on Friday...  Hmm.  Well first of all, we must of gotten there at the perfect time (a few mins before 11) because shortly after they held up the line due to a ribbon cutting and it didn't move for like an hour.  We just slipped right in and had NO lines to deal with inside at both the kids packet pickup and mine.

The volunteers as usual were great there.  Such cheerful people.  I hope they were still all smiley after several hours went by..

The shirt.  I like it!  Mine has a huge snag on the side of it, though.  :(

We wandered around for a while (hours).  After all, I had a shopping agenda!  Unfortunately, I hardly got anything.  For the life of me I couldn't find any Bondi Bands, Swiftwick socks, or my favorite flavor of Roctane (which I'm coming to learn may be discontinued??  OMG!).  So, I just bought a vest that was on super clearance at Elite, new armsleeves from One More Mile that say "There will come a day when I cannot do this.  Today is NOT that day", and a phone case that says RUN.  Oh, and I got a wristband for Nick to get into SCRR's post race tent.  

Saturday was the kids marathon.  This was Garrett's first race!  The kids all had a great time and after I get some official pics I will post them because they are awesome.  Nick ended up carrying Garrett on his back through most of downtown.  haha.  Vincent ran at like a 7:14 avg (his pace was 7:07 on my watch when I left him go ahead so I could get back with Tori.  I'm judging by the time clock in the finish line pics.  Speedy kid!), and Tori beat her time from last year with a 10:18 avg pace for that 1.2 miles.  She keeps thanking me for pushing her and not letting her quit. My pleasure, baby girl! :)

Little Runners of Steel!

Next up:  Race day!  Separate post for that since it's wordy and long!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Here We Go!

And it all comes down to this...

Training done.  I'll be tackling the 13.1 mile distance for the 5th time on Sunday morning.  Yay!

I had to pretty much stop overthinking, overanalyzing, blogging, reading every running related thing that popped up on a screen or paper, etc for a while.  I was in a terrible spot emotionally/mentally.  I think you could tell that by reading my previous posts, though.  I really think I navigated through all the Kubler-Ross phases while going through my injury and recovery process.  But, from what I've gathered I'm not the only one to ever do that, so maybe I'm not completely insane.

I had to focus on why I wanted to run, and why it was important to me to have a healthy recovery and preserve my longevity.  I got to the point where I was obsessing over numbers and times and being consumed by all the wrong things.  I took a step or three back and came to my senses.  And I realized that gee, this might just be my best race ever!

Will I have some rocket speed time and crush a HM PR?  Nope!  Not even a chance.

Then how will it be my best race ever?  Simple - while a year ago I had it "easy" while training for this race, this year I've had to overcome obstacles beyond my imagination.  I was on crutches through the beginning of January.  I had to learn to WALK right again before even thinking about running.  I wasn't run/walking (more like walk/running) until February.  I wasn't consistently running without walk breaks until the end of March.  I barely hit the 30 mpw point and I think I only did that 1 week.  Before I'd be running 5 days per week and only think I did that 2 or 3 times in the last few weeks.  Instead I mainly ran 3-4 days per week.  I skipped runs when I wasn't up for it - even long runs!  I usually follow a Hal Higdon plan to the letter, but this time I just used a rough guideline based on my previous training and gradually built up from that.  Instead of one 12 miler, I did two - both group runs that ran the half marathon course.  I did this to boost my confidence as well as test out my fitness.  Both runs went great, by the way.  In fact after the second one I was ticked off because I felt so great I wanted to stay with the group that was continuing on for 14-17 miles because I legitimately thought I had a lot of energy left in me.  Ha!

So, I didn't follow a real plan, missed runs, have hardly been running consistently for more than a month and a half but even after all that.... I will still cross that finish line on Sunday.  It might be in 1:50 something, it might be over 2 hours, I don't know.  And that really doesn't even matter.  I feel blessed and healthy and happy.  Someone made a comment to me in a fitness group I'm in after I mentioned running "only" 4 miles that day.  She said something to the tune of "wow, I'd do anything to run ONLY 4 miles".  I thought about that... heck, it was just a couple months ago 4 miles was my "long" run and I had to run/walk it.  Since this is my 5th go-round at this 13.1 distance it's at the "meh, no big deal.  I've done it before" point for me.  But how many people out there can't even fathom a half?  or a 10K or a 5K?  Right now I'm still nervous as hell over the fact that after Sunday (and a decent easy break for a few weeks, of course) I get to start training for a marathon.  A marathon!  WTH?

I guess the point I'm getting at here is this:  Forget the times.  Forget the paces.  Forget the number crunching and analyzing this vs that and him vs her.  Three words I've been repeating and will be my mantra through the summer/fall ahead RESPECT THE DISTANCE.  These miles in themselves are a hell of a journey and accomplishment.  This time around I wasn't able to just robotically follow a plan written out for me, I had to pick up my own pieces and carry my own weight and use my brain.  I got broken down physically and mentally and built myself back up again.  That alone is worth the medal at the finish line... no matter how long it takes me to get there.

Thanks for reading along... I'm sorry if I brought you down any during the last weeks and months with my crying and bitching.  I'm treating this run on Sunday as a redemption run.  Phoenix rising from the ashes and all that.  My best race yet!

For anyone interested, I'm in corral B, bib number 11795, and I'll also be lingering around the SCRR pre-race area and post race tent.  Wave, smile, say hi, or give me a good slap for being a whiner over the past couple months.  :)

I'm excited!  We're headed to the expo in around 2 hours.  Someone hold my credit card!!