I have a plan and goals for 2016!

I’m so excited to have some direction to my training.  While I’m still in an off-season, I’m staying active and making goals for 2016.

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October 2015-April 2016- I’ve started a running club of sorts at the high school I teach at.  With the help of GO! St. Louis and a few teachers I’ve recruited, I’ll train high school students to go from no fitness base to a half marathon in April 2016.  I’m so excited to introduce students to this sport and experience the ups and downs of a first training cycle with them.  The initial response has over 75 kids interested.

Winter 2015-2016- My daughter and I will be doing the Frostbite Series in Forest Park in St. Louis.  She’ll be tackling some new distances and I’ll be right by her side.

Kentucky Derby Marathon- A friend of mine moved to Kentucky and mentioned this race to me.  I originally signed up for the half, but have decided that the timing and location will be great for me to go for a big PR at this marathon.

70.3- Muncie, Racine or Ohio.  I’ve not yet registered for any of these, but I know it will be one of these.  I’m going to really focus training next year on the half-iron distance and hope to make some big improvements there.

Fall Marathon- Debating between the Chicago marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon in the fall.  Again, I hope to take additional time off of my marathon performance from the spring.

I will have some smaller races mixed in, but these are the “A” goals for 2016.  In the coming weeks I’ll work back in to more focused training, addressing weaknesses and figuring out more specifics as far as times.  My huge, dream big portion of these goals would be to qualify for the 70.3 World Championships and Boston Marathon.

It feels so good to have a focus again.  I’m clearly someone who needs goals on the calendar, I just felt a little lost without them these last few months.

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15 Things to Look Forward to in 2015

I didn’t do a year end wrap up for 2014, so will just start fresh with 15 things I am looking forward to in 2015.  In no particular order (although I started out chronologically with races, ha!)

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1.  Improvement–  2014 was the first year I even came close to training consistently.  If I could get a habit of full training weeks all year long, I will improve a lot in all three sports.

2. GO! St. Louis marathon– In April I have my next marathon planned.  My most recent marathon was a great experience and I think I can continue to improve on it.

3. Legend Triathlon– My second 70.3 triathlon is planned for June.  Since my husband grew up near Lawrence, KS this seemed like a great race to try out.  I’ve been really impressed with their preparation for this race so far.  I’m a sucker for anything that is not the big name, whether it is a small business or a race that doesn’t have the big name attached to it.  Legend Triathlon really wowed me though when they sent me a personal letter this week.  Who does that!?

Letter I received from Legend Tri
Letter I received from Legend Tri

4. Being part of a relay team– I was chosen to be part of a relay team for my triathlon club this spring for River to River, an 80 mile race across Illinois.  I’m also part of a team hoping to get into the KT82 race along the Katy Trail in Missouri.  I’ve never done this kind of race before, but have watched on Facebook as a number of friends have participated.  I love the idea and think they will be great experiences.

5. Ironman– I’ve been quietly considering this race since before my first triathlon.  I had to really convince myself not to register for my first full ironman race before ever having done a triathlon.  All that stuff I said about being a sucker for the non-branded races, I still want to have the experience of doing a branded one as well.  Three times in the past month I have started to fill out the registration for this race but have stopped.  At a Resolution Run at my local running store, Runwell, I got asked both on paper and on video what my resolution for 2015 was.  I answered both doing a full ironman so apparently I am committed now that there’s proof!

6. Family Workouts–  My husband and my kids are great support systems.  They never complain about a workout I need to do, often have a meal or recovery drink ready for me when I return and listen to me babble about my training and goals.  I appreciate this more than I probably let them know.  However, my favorites are the times where they join me for a workout or part of it.  I love sharing the experience of being active and accomplishing goals with them.  My daughter seems to be drawn to longer distances, my son loves sprints and track workouts.  My husband has a strong background in swimming and biking and is always helpful with providing tips or knowledge when he joins on those workouts.  Although my training has to do with my goals, my favorite runs, rides and swims are when my family is there with me.

7. Hammer Nutrition Ambassador– I am excited to announce that I’ve been chosen as an ambassador for Hammer Nutrition.  I experimented quite a bit with nutrition during 2014 and Hammer is far and away the company whose products work best for me.  I really love the light taste of Heed sports drink and swear by the Endurolytes capsules.  With all of the miles I have planned for the upcoming year I know that Hammer will definitely help me to get through those and recover better.

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8. Tour of Sufferlandria– Anyone who has ridden a trainer or run on a treadmill in the winter knows that it can get boring.  fast.  Sufferfest has found a way to make sure bored doesn’t happen when you’re on a trainer.  The couple videos I have done are among the toughest workouts I’ve had.  Ever.  I love and hate the challenge, but can’t wait to see how they help me improve in the upcoming year.  Later this month, they have a 9 Day Challenge that I plan to take on.  It will be horrible.  I can’t wait.

9. Mileage–  Since I didn’t do a year end blog post like I intended, here are my numbers.  I plan to double them at a bare minimum in 2015.

  • Total Running Miles: 615
  • Total Biking Miles: 1228
  • Total Swimming Miles: 41

10. Long Runs–  Once the most hated part of any training I did, I’ve come to enjoy these.  That is all thanks to the camaraderie provided by RunWell with weekly runs.  I know that I can show up on a Saturday morning and have SOMEONE to run with.  People are flexible in distance and pace and make sure that everyone gets in what they need/want to.  It has been a really nice change to my running routine.  There are lots of great people to support and challenge you each step of the way.

11. Dog Miles– When I do run on my own, some of my favorite runs are with my dogs.  Where one dog is built for distance and running and I’ve not found a distance that tires her out yet, the other dog is the perfect partner for a cool-down mile (at most).  They do get jealous of the other being taken on runs so I try to spread the love, but the pure joy and effortless strides they have make any run better.

12.  Leading by example–  I know there are lots of people in my life who will never do a triathlon and that is ok.  There is so much more to this journey than triathlons.  There are lessons in setting goals, taking care of yourself both physically and mentally, balancing family and work and personal interests, overcoming challenges and persevering, proving to yourself what you can do.  Although I really love triathlon and what it involves, these are really the reasons I do this.

13. Strength training– I am going to try to incorporate some different types of training besides just swim, bike and run to make workout regimen.  Thanks to some pretty cool bands, pull-ups in the garage are an option now.  Yes, it is cheating, but cheating is better than zero.  Besides pull-ups I plan to do quite a bit of core, squats, lunges, etc.

14. Downtime– Although this blog makes it sound like my life revolves around training, that is not completely accurate.  The vast majority of my time is spent NOT training.  There are so many things to look forward to in 2015 that do not involve training.

15. PRs- In 2014 I earned a new PR in the 10K, Half-Marathon and Marathon, and the Olympic and Half-Distance Triathlons by default since they were my first.  I plan to set a lot of new PRs this year!

Maybe every race will have a PR gong?
Maybe every race will have a PR gong?

Race Report- Rocket City Marathon

This weekend was the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville, Alabama.  My last marathon was over 5 years ago, so I really felt like I was training for my first marathon all over again.  Leading up to the race, the forecast looked amazing, 40s for the start, about a high of 60 for the day.  As the big day neared, each new forecast showed dropping temperatures.  I was really counting on wearing a tank top and shorts, the tank top would allow me to stash my gels and other nutrition in the pockets.   As I studied the forecast the night before I was completely torn.  Start temp would feel like 31 and finish temp would feel like 53.  Too cold at the start for the tank and shorts I hoped for, too hot at finish for the other option I had that was capris and a thermal long sleeve.  I decided to wear my throw-away long sleeve over the tank and shorts and planned to shed that layer as I warmed up (never happened!)

Earlier in the week I had participated in a contest at my local running store, Runwell and ended up getting a new belt that holds all of your nutrition.  It is called a FlipBelt.  I decided to give it a shot race morning, despite never having run with it.  In my first steps of running I immediately wished I had tried it out before hand.  The first two miles the belt was bouncing all over the place and I was trying to figure out how to get everything out of my belt, pin my bib on my clothes all without losing any time.  Eventually I adjusted my shirt enough underneath the belt that the bouncing stopped and it ended up being pretty useful.  I’ll run with it again, but definitely needed some testing out before the race.

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Mile 1, high fiving my family for the first time in the race.
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Mile 1 again

My kids participated in the Rocket City Kids Marathon.  They ran 25.2 practice miles from September to race weekend.  Then on Saturday, they ran their final mile as a race.  Their finish line was the same as mine, just a few hours before.  My only complaint was that their race was during mine so I wasn’t able to see it.  The pictures that my husband and parents took indicate that both did great and had fun.  And even more fun, they both said PRs for their fastest mile!

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My plan was to run the first 6 miles of my race at about a 9:40 pace, then begin to pick up the pace slowly.  For the most part it went pretty well.  A few favorites from these miles: A sign that read “In Dog Miles You’re Almost Done”, and a spirit station in a neighborhood that was serving cold beer at about mile 7 or 8.  There were cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon and a sign that read “Elite Aid Station”.  I almost wished I wasn’t going for a time goal, not to stop to drink the PBR, but to take a picture of the sign.  But I kept moving on.  There was a porta potty at about mile 9 that I planned to stop at.  I spent most of that mile debating whether it was smart to push the pace to buy time for the wasted time at the porta potty or if I should just hold pace and make sure I had enough for the later miles.  I ended up convincing myself that I could push the pace and anyone I passed, I would be getting to the porta-potty before them so I could be buying minutes with each person I passed, hahaha.  When I got to the porta potty there was only one….There was one person in line ahead of me waiting.  Although it seemed like an eternity, it wasn’t a horribly long stop and I continued on.  When I first looked down at my watch after the stop it said my lap pace was 17:46.  I tried to convince myself not to try to make up the time all at once.

Split       Time      Cumulative Time   Moving Time    Distance  Elev Gain   Elev Loss    Avg. Pace    Avg. Moving Pace

1 9:31.4 9:31.4 9:33 1.00 36 30 9:32 9:33
2 9:36.7 19:08 9:35 1.00 43 26 9:37 9:35
3 9:37.2 28:45 9:38 1.00 30 43 9:37 9:38
4 9:46.6 38:32 9:46 1.00 13 0 9:47 9:46
5 9:40.4 48:12 9:41 1.00 56 33 9:40 9:41
6 9:28.4 57:41 9:28 1.00 49 23 9:28 9:28
7 9:19.6 1:07:00 9:04 1.00 16 59 9:20 9:04
8 9:31.5 1:16:32 9:31 1.00 36 23 9:32 9:31
9 9:39.4 1:26:11 9:00 1.00 7 13 9:40 9:00
10 11:12 1:37:23 9:04 1.00 30 49 11:12 9:04
11 9:29.3 1:46:53 9:29 1.00 46 59 9:29 9:29
12 9:21.8 1:56:14 9:22 1.00 0 16 9:22 9:22
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Smiling and feeling good at the 13 mile mark.

My family did a really good job of navigating the course and were able to see me at mile 1, 13, 17, 20 and the finish.  At each of those places, the kids were ready to give high fives and I certainly wasn’t going to miss that.  The miles in between 17 and 20 were my favorite.  We got to run through the Space and Rocket Center, under and around rockets, then through the Botanical Gardens.  Lots of scenery and I was continuing to feel great.

One really cool picture from the day is this one.  As a 90s kid, I have passed along an appreciation of great movies like Mighty Ducks to my children.  They recognized right away that we were in a Flying V formation here (thankfully I was in the front, ha!)

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Split       Time      Cumulative Time   Moving Time    Distance  Elev Gain   Elev Loss    Avg. Pace    Avg. Moving Pace

13 9:18.2 2:05:33 9:18 1.00 7 23 9:18 9:18
14 9:22.4 2:14:55 9:22 1.00 7 23 9:22 9:22
15 9:38.2 2:24:33 9:38 1.00 23 7 9:38 9:38
16 9:37.1 2:34:10 9:37 1.00 39 16 9:37 9:37
17 9:10.4 2:43:21 9:11 1.00 36 59 9:10 9:11
18 9:25.9 2:52:47 9:23 1.00 46 16 9:26 9:23
19 9:07.6 3:01:54 9:07 1.00 36 46 9:08 9:07
20 9:27.5 3:11:22 9:28 1.00 59 49 9:27 9:28
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Mile 20
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Mile 20

At this point I began to notice quite a few people walking, especially on hills and realized I was still feeling pretty good.  I tried to keep the mile splits pretty consistent, continue on with my nutrition and keep hanging on to what I had done so far.  A number of spectators were commenting that I looked strong, looked like I was having fun, etc.  I really debated whether or not I could make it to the finish without a second porta potty stop, but kept imagining myself exploding at mile 26 or something.  When I spotted a porta potty at mile 23 with no one there, I decided a quick stop would allow me to focus on holding the pace study for the rest of the race.  I began to struggle after the stop and just felt tired.  Looking back I’m not sure if I needed another gel or just wouldn’t have stopped.  The spirit stations in these miles were really great and definitely kept me going.  Kept working my way through the miles and still was passing everyone.  I’m pretty sure that no one passed me from mile 17 on.  I’m pretty happy with that.  Saw my family again at mile 26, knew I was finishing out a great race.

Mile 26
Mile 26

Split       Time      Cumulative Time   Moving Time    Distance  Elev Gain   Elev Loss    Avg. Pace    Avg. Moving Pace

21 9:21.6 3:20:43 9:21 1.00 39 30 9:22 9:21
22 9:17.0 3:30:00 9:17 1.00 30 39 9:17 9:17
23 9:58.8 3:39:59 9:26 1.00 23 23 9:59 9:26
24 9:22.7 3:49:22 9:22 1.00 10 36 9:23 9:22
25 9:37.9 3:59:00 9:38 1.00 23 20 9:38 9:38
26 9:24.8 4:08:24 9:25 1.00 7 0 9:25 9:25
27 4:08.3 4:12:33 3:59 0.44 13 16 9:20 8:59
Summary 4:12:33 4:12:33 4:08:43 26.44 758 778 9:33 9:24
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Finish line!
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Finish line!
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Heck yeah I rang the PR Gong!

Grading Scale:

Training: B.  While my long runs were good and I think really helped me to have a much better race experience than my past marathons, I did not keep up with what I needed to do during the week.  Next time around I want to include a track workout and tempo each week.

Nutrition: A.  Really happy with how this aspect of my race went.  Gel or chews every 45 minutes is my magic formula.

Race course: A+.  I was pretty nervous about the elevation gain advertised on this course as I live in a pretty flat area.  I was pleasantly surprised that the hills were not an issue for me at all.  None seemed too tough, but it was enough to keep the course from being boring.  Lots of cool neighborhoods, the Space and Rocket Center, Botanical Gardens, and the fact that my family could get around enough to see me so many times.

Race support: A+.  I’ve never done such a well run race of any distance.  This race thought of everything.  Course marshals at every intersection directing traffic, residents out in their yards cheering for you, playing music.  Bands along the course.  A spirit station at least every mile.  I can’t think of a single thing I would change.

Race performance: A-.  I’ve never not blown up in a marathon so was scared to push the pace.  Next time I will be a bit more aggressive with my pacing plan.  I didn’t finish feeling like I left a ton out there, but I think I could have done a bit more.  Still, a 30 minute PR is a pretty great way to close out my 2014 racing!