Training Never Stops

Hey boys and girls =)

It’s now Easter evening while I’m writing this and it’s possible most of you are in a food and sugar coma by now.

I’m tired of food. My tummy is full.

Not that I ate vast amounts… it’s that random grazing through the day… or seeing someone with something that looks good and wanting a little… or the plethora of Easter candy to nibble on ..and before you know it you’re in that zone…the… ” I feel like a fat sea walrus” zone.

I don’t like that feeling anymore. In fact, I hate it. It makes me want to go running back to my sane, normal eating like a 2 year old running for candy.

My comfort zone… and I like that I have that place to go back to.. that I want to be there.

Sane. Balanced. Reasonable. Not needy. Controlled.

Yikes… did you notice I used running twice within the previous sentences?

Yes, I miss it..

What ?? You might be pondering… you run all the time….

Except I’ve been trying to be so good and let my body rest in a serious way.

That recovery thing…….. athletes need to embrace it as much as the physical activity. Intellectually, I get it. Physically, it can and does make me stir crazy. I read an article from an experienced marathon running coach and he suggested taking 1 day off for every mile of your most recent race.

31 days?! I don’t see that happening…. I’m a little over a week out….. legs feel good…. I’m planning to get out for some easy miles…. very soon…. I have a 10K set for May 2nd so I’m eager to get back out there and start working again.

You know what I miss though? I miss the perfect, ordered structure of training for a big event. I love looking at my running calendar and seeing miles already written in waiting to be done. I love how that structure and getting it done at the start of my day sets my day up already for being productive. In a sick way, I don’t mind the whole pile of running clothes from a weeks worth of work.

Training. There’s just something very comfortable about it. Maybe ’cause I love always being in training mode for an event. Or as mentioned, I love the structure of it. Let’s not forget it gives you the very focused goal of always being fit. It often offers it’s own set of challenges, perhaps far more than that actual event might offer.

Training is my life.

Is it no wonder then, when I came across this Nike shirt last year, I HAD to get it ??

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Because for me, its’ pretty much true. Training doesn’t stop and you know what ? I’m really ok with that. Training has built perseverance, dedication,  a little more stubbornness and commitment in me. It’s taught me how to goal set, make a plan, and deliver on it. It’s taught me sacrifice has to be made to reach those goals. It’s built strength in me that I never realized I possessed.

You know something? That all carries over into the rest of my life. Who would’ve thought ?

So yeah I’m ok with that. I’ve accepted it for what it is. I can hardly wait to start sketching out my marathon training in a few months =)

Confession time athletes. Is your training a lifestyle now for you ? Is it ingrained in you ? Just something you do ? Share with me… tell me I’m not alone 😉

Saturday, 50K Day!

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So this was my official kick off and count down to my 50K… it’s still going down in March… just not the 1st 😉

Why yes, yes I did recover from my owl eyed syndrome, thanks to those of you who asked me… ( I had my eyes dilated yesterday which always makes me feel owlish ) so if my typing tonight is crappy I have nothing to blame it on 😉

So I was cooking along on this cool new topic for you and realized…. Nooooo….. I gotta shelf this for a few days to do a quick post on this exciting  topic….

My virtual 50K is on Saturday!!

If you’ve followed me you will remember my scheduled “real” race on March 1 got cancelled ’cause parts of Texas wanted to go all North Pole looking…..

Anyway, the race event committee gave registered runners the option to do a virtual run, submit a witness form, and get your finishing goodies. I was down for that.

Let me say this… virtual run or not….. my body will still be running 31.7 miles!  Saturday in Texas land promises a low temp of 49 with highs reaching low 80’s….. yeah…. it’s gonna be a super warm run.

So tomorrow evening I’ll be zipping all along the route I’m running and will be tossing water and sports drink bottles into the bushes ( my own aid stations haha)

My plan is to be on road 530ish to get things rolling…

My mileage has really been cut down to not much in the past few weeks but maybe that isn’t a bad thing…. I’ve trained up to 28 miles before my scheduled race I just need to kick back and take it mile by mile.

I have no one I need to impress. I have no agenda other than to accomplish this distance and know I did it.

Oh yeah, and so I can officially add my new 50K sticker to my Expedition that I’ve been holding on to 😉

The only negative ? No medal at my “finish line” I’ll have to wait for that to show up in my mail….

Make sure you check back for my follow up on my first ever ultra run  =)

50K’s, Color Runs and Mud

OK… this is my disclaimer to this post… it’s meant to be a fun thought process/commentary and not meant to offend anyone who enjoys the following events… ( you should be hearing this in like a…. Morgan Freeman voice 😉

I’m semi-squinting at the screen ’cause I had my eyes dilated today and it totally makes me feel awesome  jacks with my head the rest of the day/evening. I look like an owl for the next 24 hours….I’ll do my best to keep typos and such to a minimum 😉

I came into running all the wrong way.

I wasn’t a school track athlete. I wasn’t a trendy 20 something wanting to be cool and do the “jogging” thing in the 80’s.

The idea of running for the sole purpose of… running….. was a completely foreign concept to me.

But then as I’ve shared with you in other posts, it just kinda evolved, and then, one day…

I’m a runner.

I was a runner who was popping off 6-7 mile runs as the normal routine. I mean, isn’t that what you did ? I was happy in my new little running world oblivious of things like intervals, and tempo runs and hill repeats or being happy with negative splits (what was that ??)

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Hills anyone ?

THEN….. one day… a well meaning friend said…..

“You should run the Rock n Roll half marathon in November”

I laughed. I told her other people did it, not me.

And when I stopped laughing she said, “well, you’re already running over half the distance.”

That was June and by July I had committed and was officially registered for my first half marathon.

I trained myself and took it on in November. I couldn’t believe I actually ran 13.1 miles.

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Tired and scraggly after my very first half marathon in 2011. And I gave up running in these types of shorts a long time ago….

I’ve learned a lot since then. I follow a structured training plan now (thank you Hal Higdon) I’ve learned lots of running terms, become particular about what I like to run in, and learned how my body responds to various things.

I also learned this: most people start with a 5K as a first race…. not a half marathon… haha

Like I said….. I came into this running thing kicking and screaming    in not the most conventional way.

All this to say, I’ve taken what I do pretty seriously since I started. I’m intense and every run matters to me. I am horribly competitive with myself…. and hard on myself to.

When I sign up for a race, I’m serious about it. Yeah, I get the world won’t stop spinning based on my performance, I’m still kind of intense about it.

That competitive thang…..

Which brings me to these other “runs” that are cropping up faster than weeds in the spring time.

Color Runs, Foam, Neon, Music, Inflatables,  Zombies, Mud, Obstacles……

I’ve been invited to participate in them all. I haven’t….yet….

Why?

Can I breathe this out loud ?

I guess, that serious, competitive part of me is focused on running and so many of these seem like a big party.

Nothing wrong with that. People running happy in costumes, snapping selfies, no worries about PR’s or negative splits. Running is in addition to other stuff going on.

This is what I decided one day. I fall into the “serious” runner category…. not the play category.

I mean someday I’d like to do a Tough Mudder or Spartan runs… that let’s  your total athletic self  get used…. but then I think… what if I injured myself in mud…or on a barb wire fence 😉 it would mess me up running.

See? Serious runner.

As a runner, I’ve tackled multiple half marathons, two fulls, and a 50K run this Saturday.  To me, personally, these aren’t fun and game distances.

When I mention this to my fun running friends they get this deer in the headlights look on their face and laughingly tell me……. I’m crazy.

Maybe I am…. I kinda prefer the word…serious though 😉 although, crazy IS  a pretty cool compliment to a runner…..

What do you think? If you’re a runner do you consider yourself “serious” ?  or do you just like to go do something fun and playful? Do you see a difference ?

Have you ever done a fun run ?

Race Weekend Continued

Hey boys and girls 🙂

Just a quick update before I head off to bed with visions of tomorrow’s race dancing in my head.

It was a rainy day here today but tomorrow promises to be nice with the morning low in high 50s.

I did however apprehend my new running bib today …always a highlight 🙂

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My winning number 😉

Of course there’s always the other cool stuff you get too….like the nifty duffel bag and super soft t I can wear when race is over…

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And of course, I’ve got my running gear ready to go. This is a brand called Avia that I found at Wal-Mart of all places. It performs really well and the price is awesome.  Not to mention these are my fav colors 🙂

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Otherwise, everything is ready to go….I’m planning to go out and just have fun with it 🙂

Oh, and on a, funny note…..you know you’ve turned into a serious endurance runner when…….

I heard a group of women talking today and one said she had “two fuel belts to wear tomorrow”
I had to bite my lip to not say….

“You know we’re only running 13.1 miles, right?” Ha

Crazy how you adapt to things isn’t it?

Ok…that’s all for now… race day update tomorrow 🙂

Race Weekend

Alright, I did give you a heads up earlier in
the week…..

It’s here.

Race weekend. It’s hard  feeling that hyper energy and excitement that comes with it.

I feel a connection to this half marathon.  This is the fourth year its been run and I’ve been able to be in each race.

Interesting tidbit, but it was after running my best half in this race that the idea of running a full marathon showed up in my head.

The start of full blown insanity…..

The first year seemed disorganized and a bit chaotic.
I pondered the idea it might not go further than one year.

However, as time has gone on it has gotten better. Its grown but still not so big you’re lost in a sea of people ( like when I run the Rock n Roll)

The coolest part of this race is that it
starts and ends at our historic Alamo.

Which is why the race is cleverly titled….

The Alamo 13.1 it needs to be mentioned you also get super cool finisher medals ’cause we all run for over ripe bananas that cool bling 😉

The course treks all over the beautiful downtown San Antonio area, along the Riverwalk and lots of other nifty scenic areas.

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Looking all messy and victorious after the finish in 2014
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A close look at the prize. Its nicer than a banana 😉
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Early morning at finish line

So….just a quick update here…stay tuned for weekend recaps 🙂

Happy running! Anyone else racing this weekend?

Racing The Icing On The Training Cake

I recently read an article that discussed runners who, well, just ran with no goals ever of doing an actual “race”. They run for fun, fitness and overall just having a good time.

My first thoughts were how freakish  interesting but then those thoughts were replaced by…. what are they aiming for ?

I mean, maybe I’m weird, but I LOVE having a few races scattered through the year. Mostly bigger ones with a couple small scattered in as well.  It motivates me to have something to train for. In fact, when I found a shirt by Nike that said “Training never stops” I was all over it ’cause I feel like it’s true.

Training is…… a lifestyle.

And honestly, I’d run ALOT more but those crazy registration fees…..did I mention I still like to eat food too ??  and buy running shoes?

I need a sponsor… would anyone sponsor a sassy, outspoken, middle-aged woman who’s trying to make fitness look cool for the greying hair crowd ?? 😉

Anyway, I ended last year with a marathon, launched into this year with my sights set on the 50K March 1 (which I’ve mentioned was cancelled) I did the half marathon that day they offered, and I already had a half planned for the end of this month… Sunday actually… and then the following Saturday (28th)…. I’m doing my 50K on my own.

Not a bad racing month…. and then I’m backing down on my miles for some recovery time… which will be soooo hard…but I know is necessary.

But all that training… leads to… RACE DAY.

No matter how many times I do it, I still get those hyper butterflies and excess energy. I love the day before picking up …. my race bib…… what is it about that?? Seeing that new number excites me.

And what about being around other people who are as crazy as you are ? The energy is like none other.

And finally, I’m dressed, bib on, gear all in place, if the satellite gods align my Nike+ watch will connect right on time and then I’m… on… that….starting line.

Freaking cool.

All those training hours? early morning runs? cold, wet, hot, humid, tired whatever, it’s all come to this moment…. I stand on that line ready to be launched with a sea of other runners. All of us running together, but each one having very different goals and personal victories for that race.

I know I won’t “win” that race.

I really try not to giggle when people nicely ask me if  “I’ll win my race”. I try and explain, that no matter what, when I cross that finish line, I do win. I’ve overcome a lot to get to that point. I’m not the speediest runner, I won’t break any records, I can hope to place well in my age group/gender, do better than a lot of the boys in the race 😉  and even overall… I’m good with that.

So yeah, when race day rolls around it really is the sweet icing on the cake for months of hard work and dedication to my training…..

Which leaves me pondering the runner who never toes the line…..don’t they like frosting on their cake ?

Tell me what you think as a runner… could you just run without ever goal setting for a race?

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Finish line in sight. Closing in on finishing my second marathon Dec 7,2014.

Yeah I’m a Runner With Muscles

I have a friend who always tells me….

“I’m glad you don’t look like a runner”  the first time that surprised me ’cause I’ve had perfect strangers assume I am.

What she meant was that I don’t fit the typical profile… if there is such a thing as one… (see my Runners World page on that topic)

Well, first of all, blowing me out of the running for any “normal runner” profile is the fact I’m 6’0 tall. I’m definitely an easy target and I’m often paced off of… or targeted to overtake ha

Yes, my legs are long and my stride is one to some of my much smaller counter parts two strides, I’ve had to deal with the fact I’ve got a lot more…. body… to move along and my pace might not ever be that of my smaller, whippet thin running companions.  I’m just stupid happy to be in the club…..

Besides, those obvious things, I pack a decent amount of muscle and that is what my friend means. She likes that I have muscles….  more than the average person/runner …..I kinda like it too 😉

As mentioned in another post, a few years ago, I started doing strength training on days I couldn’t run because of really bad weather ( I hated the treadmill and found it to be sooo boring) so I started doing my own “routine” I’d do some boxing and some weights. Nothing crazy, but enough to give me a decent workout.  I’d do it a couple times a week.

Well, it kinda stuck.

Over time I tried to actively incorporate that into what I do. In the beginning I was a kinda ….uninformed.. runner. I am pretty much self taught, read voraciously, and do a trial and error thing.. if it works for me I keep it… if it doesn’t I toss it out. I shamelessly talk to people who are more experienced and knowledgeable. It’s how I’ve learned.

So imagine my total delight, when I started seeing articles and suggestions that runners needed to do more than “just” run. That strength training/cross training was beneficial on so many levels. I was ahead of the game!

Injury prevention/protection

Overall body strength for those last, long hard miles.

Not to mention, it’s good to work all muscles in your body not just running muscles.

I think my body responds well to some weight training, I don’t go all crazy with it. And genetically, I might have something going on that helps.  But I do know I am more aware than ever of how all my body works together running and how I am aware of the strength coming from other areas and not just my legs/glutes.

Of course, being strong and having muscles helps greatly in my daily active life too =) and let’s not forget… summer and tank season 😛

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Dec 2014…..front view……..
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Dec 2014… and the back… I was surprised… I hadn’t really looked at them in awhile 😛                                                    

So what do I do ?

It’s all stuff I have at home. I have weights of all sizes which I use for upper body ( I really do prefer them over machines as I feel like it’s a little harder and makes me invest more of myself) I spend some time on that as well as core/ab stuff too. Squats of all kinds are my newest fav move….weighted and not weighted. I also use a jump rope and love explosive move exercises like jump squats….. which are not recommended to do a high volume of and then go wear heels 😛

and yeah, I end with a plank. I’m up to 3 minutes which makes me feel super bad ass crazy sweaty and breathing harder than an old horse out to pasture when I finish.

The most recent thing I’ve picked up working on is a single leg deadlift.

BOOM. There’s a move that singlehandedly kills your ass haha.

Seriously, it totally isolates one hip/glute area, develops balance (yikes) I do think I need a lighter kettlebell than my 35lb one to do this move with. I’ll keep you posted on my progress with this. It’s one of the harder things I’ve tried.

Basically, if I have only 30 minutes I cram it with constant movement…. if I have more time… I put more in. I prefer 45- to an hour if I can.

Ah……… all for the progress of becoming a better, stronger runner 😉

If you run do you strength train?  Cross train? Tell me what you’re up to incase I wanna try that too 😉

Who Me ? A Runner ?

It’s the question that can come without fail.

“Did you play basketball in school?” after my 6’0 frame has been assessed. “Why, no, I didn’t…”

“Oh, then you must have been in track”

Again, no, sorry.

I smile and tell them I was in band, and a twirler, my claim to fame and athletic prowess.

But… you run now… and you didn’t run in school…  is the next part of conversation…. ( well I did, chasing boys 😉

Then as it does, the conversation shifts to how I, somehow, without any youthful skill or pursuit of running, am doing it now.

Seriously.

How at the crossroads of “middle-aged womanhood” when I’m supposed to be getting soft and fluffy and settling into sensible shoes and clothes,  do I turn into a running junky who now sports the hard and lean look?

What possesses a woman to dive into a sport that people half her age scoff at doing ?

I’d like to claim pure insanity, but I kinda just almost, casually stumbled into it. I didn’t wake up one morning, jumping from bed, proclaiming……………..

“Today, I become a runner!”

I’d always viewed running as a sport requiring a lot of…effort… and one I wasn’t willing to dial up that kinda energy for.

If you’ve read my personal page you might already know that I started off as a happy disgruntled walker.  My doctor had encouraged me to get back to some kind of exercise, so since I used to walk, I just picked that back up again. Rather grudgingly in the beginning I will admit.

As time went on ( and I mean probably a couple years) I found it almost easier to do light jogging for short times. My legs are long and I walk fast ( my sons accuse me of “power walking” at all times, anywhere haha) when I realized the wheels didn’t fall off with that activity, I kept trying to go a little farther.

I still didn’t die.

Then at some point I thought I’d try pushing up my pace a little and attempt to go farther.

Then it happened. I got to a point where I was running more than walking. I kept at that process challenging myself to run to the next tree, or driveway, or mailbox, whatever was a short attainable goal. I usually got to that spot and set my sights on a new one.

And one day someone called me…. a runner. I was flattered and startled all at the same time.

Me? A runner? How had that happened ?

It was a slow gradual process of challenging and training myself. I never set out intentionally to do it. And you know something ? I’m so glad I did.

Physically, mentally and emotionally it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done on many levels.

The other thing? I’ve never met a community like those within the running community who are so encouraging, supportive and helpful to each other. Oh, and let’s not forget, we relate to so many things our non-running family and friends don’t…. so again… it’s awesome to have a huge group of  insane   committed runners to learn from and share victories with.

They understand when you gleefully post “I did negative splits on my run today!!!”” on your Facebook page. They get the crushing blow of defeat and frustration when injury hits or goals get missed. They understand the total euphoria of crossing that finish line…. again….. and what that means…and why you want to do it all again.

So yeah.

I’m a runner.

At this point now, I comfortably call myself that.

I don’t fully understand how it all unfolded, I’ll just say, that I’m glad it did.

Moments after the finish of my second marathon Dec 7, 2014
Moments after the finish of my second marathon Dec 7, 2014

Those Long Runs

Long runs.

When you’re a runner, there’s nothing more foundational to your training than a weekly long run. They are key to building strength and letting your body slowly adapt to greater distances. They are  crucial when you’re an endurance runner.

Countless Saturdays  these past months have found me out on the road in the wee hours of the morning. Seriously, what sane person is out at 5:30, leaving behind a perfectly warm bed to go out running ? My long runs have tapered down to my races recently and although I’ll be doing my 50K on the 28th, I’m not putting in any crazy long runs before then.

I am planning a long (ish) run for Saturday, you know, something in the double digits ? 😉

Is it weird that I want to see those numbers show up on my watch ? even in my last race when it was over 10 miles I remember thinking… “yay, double digits, now we’re getting somewhere”.

I’ve gotten to a point though that I really look forward to them. Some nights I’ve been so hyped up I’ve had a hard time sleeping ’cause I’m playing the route out in my head. I look forward to them ’cause on their own they singularly offer a new weekly challenge to me.

Long runs are so  life sucking  empowering for me.

Long runs have also carved out the most intense discipline in my life. It takes a lot to leave your bed and put yourself out on the road to be prepared to go…. in the dark…the cold…….the misty drizzle…. or know you’ll most likely encounter rain before you finish. So many weekly variables to the long run. To  understand that what you’re about to do is crucial to your success as a runner mentally and physically.

But let me tell you about what goes down once I’m out.

I live in the hill country so it’s always dark and very quiet when I leave. I take my music but never use it until the last few miles and by that time, it’s nice and bright out 😉

I take off and let my body slowly wake up and settle into the rhythm of the run.

If you’re a runner, you know what I mean. It’s this zone you just get your body in.

The only sounds I hear are my feet hitting the road and the soft sound of my breathing. If I’m lucky, sometimes, the sky is bright with stars or the moon, and  it’s the most awesome, amazing, privilege  to be out then. It makes me feel so very, very small and once again, in awe of our Creator and creation. One morning I saw four shooting stars…. silent, swift, and quiet streaking across the dark sky.. at that point… you don’t miss your bed at all.

All I can think is…. “If I was in bed I woulda MISSED that!”

I pass houses, dark and silent, the owners still tucked into bed, dogs not let out yet, single quiet porch or night lights still on. There’s a part of me that feels rather accomplished at that point for being out there, already having miles under me.

The night sky gradually leaves as the new day pushes into existence. If I’m fortunate, I also get to watch a glorious sunrise too.

You know that term “break of dawn” ?

It’s a real thing. It happens. But usually we are either inside, busy, or not really paying attention to see it, to actually even notice because it’s swift and fleeting.

Yet, when you are on the road, running, it’s all in front of you. A front row seat to the new days arrival.

It’s that soft subtle move that changes the last glimpse of night, to day time.  Blink and you miss it.

Long runs also give me time to think, process, or mull over ideas. I often get some of my most creative thoughts as I pound out that pavement. Oh yeah, and the therapeutic aspect at times can’t be beat.

By the time the sun is rising in the sky and people are getting out I’m closing in on finishing my run. I’ve usually popped music in to kick me a little more into high gear. I remind myself I get bragging rights when I finish 😉  and coffee…. yes, a little caffeine too…. I’ve earned it…..so  glad my Starbucks peeps love me messy in running gear as much as when I’m all girly again…

Finally, the last couple miles are in sight….. the finish line.

Depending on the distance, my legs could be asking…. “are we there yet ?”  Knowing the end is so close, I dig in deeper to push it all the way (it’s just…..evil…… in the last 1/4 mile I’ve gotta pull this hill that seems to sometimes get taller in front of my eyes 😉

And then, I’m finished, hours after leaving my comfy bed.

I’m tired. Sweaty. Hair dripping. A proverbial hot running mess.

Long run done and as always, I feel freaking victorious.

You Run What ??

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My view looking up the hill I was about to run….

Hills.

Is there anything that can make you cry like a baby tougher, stronger, and more of a beastly runner than running hills ?

I know a lot of runners shy away from them, hate them, or grudgingly do them. In the few years I’ve been running I’ve actually come to love hills.

In a practical way, they are speed work in disguise, but they also build strength and power in our legs like nothing else can.

In a  “I feel pretty freaking proud of myself”  kinda way I love that I can power up hills.. not walk or crawl… but let those powerful muscles I’ve built do that work. It’s especially nice in races to nail those suckers 😉

One of my neighbors once told me, “I see you running those hills and I don’t even think I could walk up them!” well at one point I couldn’t powerhouse up them either.

Training. Training gets a lot done.

When I tell people or post that my workout was hill repeats, they have this idea of a gentle sloping hill dancing in their heads.

Mine are literally mountains that have been paved over.  I don’t kid you.

The picture in this post is one that I run. It’s ironically called… Little Hill…. someone’s warped sense of humor?? It’s crazy steep, but running to the top, and down the spine of it into a cul de sac and back over again gives me an even half mile. So I often go to this place and do like… 4 miles… of repeats.

Can you say… butt kicking ?

Yesterday’s workout was hill repeats. I’m pretty much not pushing myself hard since I have a half marathon coming up in a couple weeks and then my 50K on the 28th.

If you read my other 50K posts, you know unfortunately, the race cancelled due to weather issues. I determined I was just going to run my own personal 50K.

Dang it I didn’t train so hard to not make it happen. I’m so stubborn and hard headed… the idea of coming so close… wasn’t something that set well with me …at. all.

Anyway, that being said, the race committee sent an email letting runners know that they could do a virtual race for what they signed up for and still get their runner goodies =) How nice.

So, March 28 it’s going down. Stick around and stay tuned for how all that plays out.

And as mentioned, I’m going to be running these next couple weeks but my training is done for all intents and purposes. It’s been carved out for months now. Long runs in the wee hours of the morning. Cold miles. Wet, cold miles. Hot, humid, sweat filled runs that left me drained. Strength training. Short runs. Slow. Fast.

I finally totaled my training miles…. roughly 995 from August till March 1! I feel like a machine.

After I wrap this month, it will be time to reduce the miles and give the body some rest time. I don’t mean doing nothing. Just less mileage in my week, then adding some biking and more strength training. My goal is to keep my long run base at 15 miles.

I’ve toyed with the idea of maybe doing a duathlon later this year. So definitely some brick training days too. And of course, I’ll have my sights set on a marathon at the end of the year =)

What goals do you have set for yourself in this upcoming year ?

Share with me.